Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Toothpaste on Your Toes?! 30 Simple Beauty Tips from

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

I found this nifty list of mostly new (and mostly very practical) beauty tips from make-up artists and beauty bloggers via Pinterest and wanted to share them with you.

Among the tips that caught my interest?  Using whitening toothpaste on my toes when polishes dull and yellow the nails, covering my pillow with a satin case to avoid snagging, tangling and breaking my hair when I sleep, and using dry shampoo at the roots to add texture and volume to my baby fine tresses.

A few things I already do, but was excited to see listed here?  Wearing sunscreen every day, popping my damp hair into a bun on days I don't have time (or desire) to do a bunch of styling, and creating my own tinted moisturizer by mixing a dollop of my foundation to my favorite face cream.

See any that pique your interest?  Let me know if you try one and love the results!

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I only have one outfit to show you this week.  I did get dressed in actual outfits every day, except that one day when I was sick and stayed in my jammies for 36 hours straight.

The trouble some weeks is not so much coming up with what to wear, it's coming up with the time and lighting to take decent pictures.   True story!

I like this shade of pink with my coloring.  I've worn it all my life, and I'm still wearing it. I've read several articles that say pink, or bright pink, or sometimes even all bright, saturated colors become less flattering or "too young" on women as we age, and that most of us will need to start wearing pastel versions of colors as we get into our forties and fifties.


I predict there's gonna be another broken fashion rule in my future.

My take?

A woman, regardless of her age, should wear things that make her feel pretty and vibrant. She should, rather than selecting her wardrobe around covering up the "problems" aging brings about, choose styles and colors that compliment and flatter the features she loves best about herself.

And I choose to wear this shade of pink because it plays up the blue in my eyes and softens and illuminates my skin so that it seems to glow.  So there!

In the PINK, and Proud of It


Oh WOW. Do you not just want to reach into this picture and jerk my sweater down in the front? I SURE DO!

Sweater - Ann Taylor, from way back before Ann Taylor spawned LOFT.
Floral shirt - J. Crew Perfect Shirt, thrifted
Braided belt - Thrifted
Skinny jeans - Land's End
Boots - Audrey Brook
Necklaces - Gold with pearl pendant: Charming Charlie, string of pearls:  gifted



Hair - A sock bun. Easiest style ever! Have you tried it yet?

I will be linking this post to What I Wore Wednesday at The Pleated Poppy.

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

5 Pieces to Perk Up Your Winter Wardrobe (and Bring It Into Spring)

In yesterday's post, Kissing the Winter Wardrobe Doldrums Goodbye, I showed you some of the ways I've been incorporating some typically springy pieces into my winter wardrobe to change up my look a bit and take it from drab and dreary to bright(er) and cheery(er).

In keeping with that theme, I spent some time on creating 5 sets built around 5 pieces that we can add to our wardrobes now, that will give us some freshness for late winter, and then take us right into spring.   

I think you'll find these five pieces are easy to find in a wide variety of styles and sizes, and at pretty much every price point:

  1. a neutral trench 
  2. a bright sweater (or several) 
  3. a lace or ruffled skirt 
  4. colored denim jeans (or white - No need to wait until after Easter anymore!) 
  5. and a crisp print shirt (again, the more the merrier)   

If you've got these 5 pieces already, dust them off and start wearing them, for heaven's sake!  If not, then, sigh, I guess you have a little bit of shopping to do.  

You're very welcome.

You'll see that I've set these up so that the each of the five highlighted pieces, circled in in the middle of  its group, is styled for winter on the left, and for spring on the right.  This should make it easy for you to see how each piece will work starting today, and then how it will move easily into warmer weather for you.  Take a look!

Winter to Spring 1

Winter:  Darker colors and patterns, chunkier textures, warmer fabrics, even a scarf will not only keep you warm under a trench, but make its lighter tone and weight really pop.  Of course it'd also be fab over a sweater dress with a contrasting infinity scarf and a tall boot with tights or leggings.

Spring:  Let that same trench coat float airily over a simple dress and a fun colored pump.  Easy, elegant, and warm for cool spring mornings and evenings.  If you dare, you could even try a shorter trench over distressed denim shorts and a simple t-shirt (with a statement belt or shoe), just make sure not to button it up, or someone might confuse you for a flasher!

Winter to Spring 2

Winter:  A bright cardi shows its true colors with a dark underpinning like this black polka dot blouse.  Dark wash jeans and a suede boot complete the look.   Or try it over your winter version little black dress with a wide belt and those same boots.

Spring:  Lighter layers beneath, like a fun eyelet top, and something short and flirty below.  Or wear your cardigan buttoned up and belted over a maxi dress with a big wedge-heeled sandal.  Super dramatic!
Winter to Spring 3

Winter:  I totally love the idea of a light and breezy lace skirt paired with a chunky wool sweater.  I don't show it here, but a chambray shirt and bold tights would be adorable with this too.  Or try the skirt with your black wool blazer and a riding boot.  YUM.

Spring:  Go retro and toss it on with a print tee or tank and a denim jacket (that's Deborah Harry on the tank above, so perfect for the 80s look).  Or you could dress it up with great-fitting cotton sweater, a clean, tailored belt and an elegant neutral pump.

Winter to Spring 4

Winter:  Pair colored jeans with navy or grey on top to balance the boldness. I'm loving Oxfords now with the skinny pants styles. You could also do these with a longer, draped sweater in a neutral and a long-sleeve tee underneath.

Spring: I've seen these pants styled so many ways for spring! The possibilities are endless, but in keeping with a cleaner look (which might make those of you who feel you are too OLD for colored denim more comfortable), a silk shell and a cute neon cardigan would really give them some elegance. Or sneakers, a graphic tee and a big men's watch for a funkier feel.  I'm going to wear them both ways, old or not!

Winter to Spring 5

Winter: A cute button-up shirt is a classic mate to a wool jacket, and gives you a chance to play with patterns and colors in a subtle way. Here I've got it with denim jeans and a wedge-heeled boot, but you could easily team it up with a pullover v-neck sweater and a casual skirt, tights and flats for a quick and easy go-to Momiform, as well.

Spring: I'm looking forward to rolling up the sleeves of my button-ups and just putting them on with my white jeans and a cute pair of wedges. You could also put one on over a simple dress and tie it at the waist, or pair it with a contrasting colored tank and a capri or cigarette pant. These shirts can do whatever a jacket or cardi can do, but if you buy them fitted, they do it with heightened structure and a very crisp feel.

And that's my take on brightening things up for the home stretch of winter and being a few steps ahead in preparations for spring trends!  

Hope these five pieces and my ideas of how to style them give you a little inspiration to perk things up as we gut out the next month or two and then bid a happy hello to some beautiful spring weather.   Enjoy!

(If you want to know where you can find any of the items shown above, click on the image and you'll be directed to, and there you can see stores, prices and links.) 

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WIWW: Kissing the Winter Wardrobe Doldrums Goodbye

Pssst ... I'm working on what I think is a really neat post for Thursday about the 5 easy pieces you can add NOW to your late winter wardrobe to bring it out of the doldrums, and also wear in cute new ways this spring.  So if you like the sound of that, make sure to pop back here tomorrow to check it out.

(If you go ahead and subscribe now, you're sure not to miss it.)

For now, since it's Wednesday, here are three of my outfits from the past week that combine buds of brightness borrowed from spring days to come with staples from my winter wardrobe.


Cool Colors, Warm Fabrics


... and bad pictures, apparently.  It's been so gray and yucky here lately.  Even standing practically on the window sill I still can't suck in any natural light, so please excuse the grainy photos.

Teal wool blazer - Merona (Target), many years ago
Blue print silk shell - Banana Republic, thrifted 
Winter white matchstick cords - White House, Black Market
Neutral suede pump - BCBG, via Ross
Teal faux skin clutch - DSW
Necklace - Target


Vibrant Valentine


LOL.  Did I cut myself shaving?  Sure looks like it, but those little things on my face (and all over my jacket) are actually snowflakes.  My sweet husband took these photos for me on Valentine's Day, which coincided with our once-a-month Tuesday morning standing date.   After these were taken, we went in the house and didn't leave again until it was time to pick the little guy up from pre-school.  It was one of our better dates ... HUBBA HUBBA!  (Wink.)

Black cord jacket - LOFT
Pink polka dot sweater - Old Navy
Matchstick jeans - J. Crew
Leopard print belt - Talbot's
Neutral/black patent shoe - Audrey Brooks
Necklace - LOFT

IMG_0635   IMG_0642


Pink I


Probably my favorite of the three - this outfit just had me feeling cute and perky all day long.
Can't you tell?

Pink sweater - Express, thrifted
Black/white striped tee - Pouf Excellence, TJ Maxx
Black skinny pants - PINQUE, TJ Maxx
Black booties - Impo
Necklace, black bracelet - Old Navy 
Silver Bracelet, New York & Co.


So yes, my winter wardrobe got a healthy dose of the light and bright this week, and I plan to continue the trend!

Again, stop by tomorrow to get some quick ideas on how to bring your wardrobe out of its late winter slump with just 5 new easy-to-transition-to-spring pieces.

I'll be linking this post to What I Wore Wednesday and Real Momma, Real Style.  If you're here from there, be sure to comment and leave me a link to your WIWW post so I can come see What YOU Wore.

See you tomorrow!

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

Works For Me Wednesday: Getting Kids to BEG for Vitamins

Pssst ... I'm working on what I think is a really neat post for Thursday about the 5 easy pieces you can add NOW to your late winter wardrobe to bring it out of the doldrums, and also wear in cute new ways this spring.  So if you like the sound of that, make sure to pop back here tomorrow to check it out.

(If you go ahead and subscribe now, you're sure not to miss it.)

I figured out how to get my kids to take their vitamins. I wait until they're on the other side of the house and then shake the vitamin jar while yelling,

Puppy treats! Who wants puppy treats? 

... and they scamper, yip and yap their way into the kitchen and beg for 'em.  And then they gobble them down like they're DELICIOUS.  

And I'd like to say I think this makes my kids a little weird, except thinking back, that totally would've made ME want a vitamin every day when I was their age.


Hey, whatever works!

Check out more great ideas over at We Are That Family, host of Works for Me Wednesday!

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tiny Restoring Click


I prayed before my eyes opened this morning just for renewed presence and patience with my kids.  I prayed to be the Mom they need, who gives them her best and serves them lovingly and with joy.

Last week was a great week for blogging, and I have to admit I thoroughly loved it.  I enjoyed the attention and was happy to feel I'd shared some things that so many people found helpful.  I felt like my old blogging self might be back to stay.

And I guess she might be, still.  But looking back over that same week, I'm aware that while I was writing and taking pictures and responding to comments, I let my kids down.  We didn't ever get around to making the mousling Valentine's treats for their classmates, so I'll be making those by myself today, without Bean, and I know she'll be sad we didn't work on them together.  (I will save two or three for her to make, though, just not all 33.)  I didn't play any games with them, and we didn't snuggle together in the Cozy Room nearly as often as they asked me to.  I didn't focus as well as I needed to on Peabody's potty training, and then got really frustrated with him over the resulting accidents.

I don't feel guilty and I'm not beating myself up and I'm not asking you to tell me I'm a great Mom.  I'm guessing Bean and Peabody didn't notice a huge difference in their everyday lives.  Taking time for my own interests and pursuits can actually make me better at nurturing and encouraging theirs.  I just know that last week I let the emotional, heart-balance slip too far toward myself, and too far away from my number one job: them.  They got some good stuff from me -- Bean and I had a great date yesterday afternoon - lunch and a play with our friends, and I set aside time every day to spend reading to Peabody. But they also got left to their own devices at times that, when I see them in the rear-view mirror, I wish they'd had their Mom fully engaged, loving and laughing and comforting and guiding rather than impatiently scolding or barking instructions over a shoulder as her eyes were locked on this bright, magnetic screen.

I want this family always to know they matter most, and I don't think that's what my actions communicated last week, whether they received the message or not.  Gosh, I hope they didn't.

Last night after our busy day, I put Bean to bed and soon after, she began coughing (she's had a cold this week) and didn't stop for awhile.  I went back to her room and had her sip water and breathe in and out slowly as I sat on the edge of her bed, reassuring her that everything was okay, and she was fine, and not to worry.  When she stopped coughing, I thought to leave the room and go back to folding laundry.  But then I stopped and thought about the Mom I want to be sure my precious daughter knows and remembers, and I turned back and lay down beside her, something I haven't done in a few months, and rubbed her back and stroked her hair and kissed her forehead and told her how beautiful she is, and how much I love her.  I could feel her relax into me and just ... rest.

And I felt the scale move back level again.  Simple gestures, a tiny restoring click and peace spread out within me,  and within her.   That's the click and the peace I want for us in the week ahead.

What's your prayer or hope for the week ahead?

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

11 Things on the 11th

It's been awhile since I participating in a meme, but my old friend Megan at SortaCrunchy tagged me for this one, and I thought I'd join in. I'm nothing if not random, afterall. You can join in, too, if you'd like!

1. Post these rules
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5. Go to their blog and tell them that you’ve tagged them.
6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people.
7. (My own made-up rule, because none of the aforementioned rules stated I couldn't add my own rules to the rules.) I didn't proof read this. If you find typos, you'll chalk it up to the casual nature of the post and not to my being schtoopid. (Just this once. Any other time you are free to consider me schtoopid when you see a typo.) (Fair enough?)


1. Bean and Peabody are playing with Play-Dough by the window, over my right shoulder. Peabody is making mixer/blender sounds, varying his vocal pitch to imitate the different speeds of each. Occasionally, he stops and narrates the addition of "more ba-nilla to dis smoovie" in a hushed, tense tone that makes adding "ba-nilla" sound as critical as the countdown in the final 30 seconds before a NASA launch. Meanwhile, Bean chatters away in a constant quiet whisper as she rolls and pats and shapes. I don't think what she's whispering has anything at all to do with what she's making out of dough, though. My kids don't often entertain themselves, so I cherish moments like these and I'm a-little-bit-holding-my-breath right now.

2. I sent Al upstairs to take a nap because he's kinda cranky today. We stayed up too late last night watching the first "Sex and the City" movie and then the snowplows in the school parking lot behind the house woke us up at 4:45 AM. Peabody woke up a little later of course, and my sweet husband got up for the day with him at 5:45 and took him downstairs to eat breakfast and watch Curious George. I slept for 2 hours after that, and the whole time I dreamed I was Carrie Bradshaw, sleeping off her broken heart in the darkened hotel room at a Mexican resort after she smashed her bridal bouquet over Big's head and sped away in a long black limo with Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda. It took my mind a few minutes to locate and lock onto reality when I woke up in my own bedroom at nearly eight o'clock.


3. My desk is actually a little bit neat today because yesterday while I was upstairs working on my hair and make-up, Peabody found the small box of a billion tiny rubber bands we use to hold Bean's Pippi Longstocking braids in place and scattered them all over the family room floor. This sent me into a small but furious tirade and cleaning frenzy, which led to a quick tidy of everything within reach. This is how I operate. When I get irritated, I clean things up. Loudly.


4. On our fifth anniversary, Al gave me that square framed plaque to the left of my monitor.  It says Love, Peace, Faith, Joy and Hope. As much as I love those words, and I do, the reason I keep the plaque on my desk isn't the reminder those good and wonderful things, but the words Al wrote to me on the back. Al doesn't often write to me. Well, he texts me, but those communications seem temporal to me (though I've never erased a single one of his texts, even the ones where he responds to a text from me with just L, when he really means K, for Okay, and I know that means he's driving and can't talk at that moment). But the words he wrote on the back of this plaque are the first real writing I ever received from Al. Though he speaks often and eloquently of his love for me, he's not into writing. And then there's me -- I'm a writer at heart and as such treasure the written word above all others. I won't tell you what it says, but I'll tell you this: When I read it I'm reminded that my hero, the man I feel saved me and brought me whole again, needed me to save him, too. And somehow, I did.


5. I love written words in general. While we were driving back from our family Valentine's lunch date today, I saw a car that was the same make and model as the car my best friend Carole drove 10 years ago back when we were both single and living in Atlanta. Seeing the written word, "Pathfinder," even though I didn't cognatively make the connection, written on the back of that car sent me back to a memory of the two of us working together at a Senior PGA Tour golf tournament in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. After a day on the course, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner and much to our surprise got to dance and sing and drink cold beers together as Pat Benetar performed live. A cherished memory tapped by the simple shape of the letters of a plain old word.

6. I love the words panache and ganache. Their meanings and their sounds. And until today, I'd never made the connection and realized that they're the same word except for their first letters. Once I'd come to that realization, I made a mental note to think more about these two words together sometime soon. Just a promise of little mental study of panache and ganache, to figure out what else they have in common, and what else there is to love about them. And I realized that I often make these notes in my head about seemingly trivial but still entertaining and pleasant matters, and I unwrap and enjoy them later, like small treasures or gifts I give to myself as a reward or a treat when I feel like I deserve them.

7. It's really cold here today, about 10 degrees for the high. Before we left on our little family Valentine's date, I packed up scarves and hats and boots and mittens for everyone and put them in the back of the car along with a wool blanket and Peabody's stroller. Al taught me that we should always be prepared like that for a breakdown in winter. He taught me this, and yet as he and the kids sat in the car (the kids were NOT HAPPY about the waiting) watching me collect and load all the supplies, tottering around on my high heels, I swear I saw him roll his eyes and sigh. I got in the car and patted his leg, laughing out, "You know you MADE me this way, Al Cobb." And he smiled, and grabbed my hand to squeeze it, and said, "Thanks for watching out for us, Mama." And no other words were spoken about it. That's a simple but telling little glimpse into our marriage.


8. I love bracelets, but I can't type with a bracelet on, so whenever I'm here at my desk writing or checking email or goofing around on Facebook or Pinterest, there's always a pile of bracelets by my right hand.

9. My ears aren't pierced. I had them pierced when I was about 8, and the holes got infected and itchy and yucky and no matter what we did, my Mom and I couldn't get them to heal, so I reluctantly gave up and took out my stud earrings and let the the holes seal themselves up again. I have a tiny lump inide each earlobe that I assume is scar tissue, right where an earring should go. One of the fiddly, fidgety things I do when I'm bored or tired or nervous is I pinch my right earlobe and make the tiny lump move around. It kinda feels like I'm pushing a seed pearl around in a velvet pouch. When Bean was a baby, she played with her earlobes while she sucked her fingers, and with mine whenever I had her in my arms.

10. I just realized recently that Bean doesn't ever suck her fingers or tug her earlobe or twist her belly button anymore as she has all her life to soothe herself. And I got tears in my eyes at this realization, which is the first time I can recall something that signified her growing up actually making me sad. Sometimes I feel like the only mother in the world who feels more and more joy as her children grow and become independent. Sometimes I think it's because I'm pretty selfish, and other times I think it's because I'm an older Mom and I just really don't want to miss their growing up and becoming who they're going to be.

11. I have put off changing a very yucky diaper as I typed all of this. Peabody always poops when he plays with Play-Dough. Play-Dough seems to have the same effect on him that the smell of book stores and libraries have on me. Anyway, I'm considering pretending I didn't notice it and letting Al change the diaper when he wakes up.  I'm very much over the diaper thing.  I guess it goes back to random thing #10: I'd like Peabody to hurry up and become who he's going to be, potty-wise.

The Other Megan's Questions for her taggees, with my answers:

1. Which season is your favorite and why? Fall, because it's a season in which I can reset my internal clock and feel its rhythms clicking more naturally in myself. But also I love COZY, and fall is the annual initiation of the COZY that sticks around until May or June.

2. What is the best deal you've ever gotten on anything? My Sorel snow boots, which I got for the mere pleasure of singing their praises in a product review.

3. What is your favorite dessert? Tira misu

4. When was the last time you went to the dentist? September. I remembered that by thinking back to which shoes I had on when I was there. My hygienist always comments on my shoes. We are both shoe-junkies.

5. Do you prefer older homes or new construction? And older home totally rebuilt to be energy efficient and safe, with a modern kitchen and bathrooms. I especially love Craftsman homes, beautiful traditional tudors and solid old stone cottages.

6. What is your favorite social media platform and why? (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, etc) Facebook. I have connected with so many old friends and made so many new ones and it's the perfect platform for me to share little tidbits of my life and hear about those of others. I hear it under fire so often, but it's been a total blessing to me.

7. Photography: do it yourself or go to a professional? Mostly do it myself, although I'd love to have a pro do a few shots of my family every once in awhile.

8. What is the last thing you made? Minestrone soup, for the first time ever. Thursday. (It's GOOD.) Unless you count coffee.

9. Thrifting: love it or hate it? LURV IT!

10. Sunrise or sunset? Yes, please, and everything in between.

11. What is your guilty pleasure? Occasionally drawing attention to myself and reveling in the limelight.

Questions for my taggees (you?):

1. First kiss. When, where, who?

2. A smell that makes you gag, and a smell that makes you float away.

3. Fireside or poolside?

4. Do you wish you had more stuff or less stuff and why?

5. In 40 words or less, tell me what you want people to remember about you after you are gone.

6. What did you do Friday night?

7. Foot rub, back rub, or just play with your hair?

8. What do you do if you have one hour totally to yourself in your home?

9. Favorite soup?

10. You're 7 and it's the first day of summer vacation. Do you watch cartoons, play dolls, roller skate or start a water balloon fight?

11. SNOW means ___________________________.

I'm breaking Rule 6 (the rules say I have to POST the rules, not that I have to FOLLOW them.) and tagging anyone who would like to join in! I'm not sure who'll be reading this late on a Saturday?

Let me know if you participate!


Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Style Crush Friday: Packing Up Spring Break Beach Style

 It's POURING down snow outside my office window, so naturally I'm thinking about puttin' on my swim trunks and takin' a nice dip in the cement pond.

Spring Break Beach Style

Actually it won't be long before Al and the kids and I join a few friends for a trip to sunny (I hope), warm (I pray) Florida for spring break.  We haven't gone anywhere for spring break as a family since ... well ... ever, I think.  So when you couple a week of multi-family fun with the very real possibility of actually getting to expose parts of my frozen body to real, warm, Vitamin D-laden sunlight,  I'm pretty darned fired up about this trip.

My favorite travel style tip?  I like to stick with a basic 3 or 4 color theme when I pack because that helps me to keep it light while being confident that I can mix and match pieces to suit all sorts of occasions and activities.  And hopefully, I still never have to wear the same outfit twice unless I'm just really loving it that much.

I'll be packing a variety of easy tees, long and short sleeves, that will go with both the denim and the white jean, the neat tie-dyed skirt, and denim shorts. They'll also work as cover-ups with the black flattering black swim suit.  Although I'm also including a simple crochet-look swim-suit cover-up that would double as a going-out top with the cami, as well.

Speaking of which, the gold-trimmed cami top (wrong price point, but maybe I can find a similar one for less) with with jeans, denim shorts or the tie-dye skirt and either of the two jackets. The sandals and cropped jacket with the fun rose embellishment will dress it up, the flips and hoodie will bring it down to a very casual level. Dressed up, it's out-to-dinner wear, and dressed down it's perfect for a sunset stroll on the beach. (Dreamy sigh.)

The black silk Henley top paired with jeans and flip flops would be a soothing evening outfit for sitting on the porch with a glass of wine, but paired with the tie-dye skirt and the wedge sandals, it'd be awesome for dining al fresco at a nice restaurant on the water's edge.

I see the turquoise gingham top with white denim jeans and the sandals as my travel outfit, although I may chicken out and do jeans and my Converse sneaks with a tee-shirt and jacket ... It just depends on how brave I'm feeling.  I do often find myself at a flat-out run chasing Peabody in airports and/or wearing somebody's cranberry juice or Cheeto powder a few hours into a plane ride.

I'm also taking my sunnies, a few accessories like the turquoise multi-strand necklace, an awesome statement belt with a chunky turquoise buckle, and of course, a big old tote for the plane trip down and for getting all my necessities to and from the pool or beach.

I'll probably toss in a pair of white terry sweat pants and some sort of little comfy sundress as insurance policies against very cool or very warm weather.  Add those items to my list above and plenty of SPF 30 sunscreen, and I think I've got what I need to last a long, fun week surfside. What do you think?

Subscribe to FriedOkra here.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Six Somewhat Surprising Secrets to Good Hair

When you take a step back and scrutinize it, our relationship with hair is fascinating, really. And a little bizarre.  Hair's just this weird, useless stuff that grows out of our heads; it's dead on arrival but always making more of itself, and we painstakingly cut it into different shapes and paint it different colors and devise new chemicals to put on it to make it straighter or curlier or whatever-it's-not-er. We heat it up and cool it down and mold and meld it so it frames our faces just right. Our society has built a constantly-changing, hand-over-fist-profiting industry around the design and decoration of these completely functionless strings that eventually just fall out and get swept away and dumped in the trash.

 Imagine what an alien would think, looking down on us.

 "What is the substance attached to the round ball on top?" 
 "What is its function?" 
 "Still researching.  Data supports the idea that it is a vital organ. Observation of the subject's behaviors indicate that HAIR is either the central information system, or it is linked to reproduction. Apparently it is absolutely critical to survival and perpetuation of the species." 


And here is how I take care of my most cherished vital organ.  Some of these ideas may initially surprise you, but hear me out!

1.  I only wash my hair every third day.  YUCK, you say?  Yes, that was my first thought when my stylist recommended this approach.  I'll be stinky and oily 2 out of 3 days!  My hair HAS to be washed every. single. day!  But then she explained:  You don't have to go three days without wetting it, or rinsing it.  You just shouldn't shampoo it every day.  She suggested I try wetting my hair and going through the motions of washing it every day, but two of three days, I'd "wash" with conditioner instead of shampoo.  The conditioner has enough surfectants, she explained, to loosen and rinse away oil at the roots and send it down over the hair shaft, thus distributing it to the places it really needs to be, without stripping the entire hair shaft of the oils my scalp was furiously producing to protect it, leaving it dry, brittle and susceptible to damage.  (The more oils I strip away, she pointed out, the more oils my scalp will produce to make up for it.)

Her explanation made sense, and I tried her suggestion.  And I love how it works.  I've made this suggestion to many women who have asked about my Hair Transformation and those who have tried it have been pleased, too.  You get fresh hair every day, but the natural oil you're leaving in helps make it softer and shinier, and also helps it to hold your style better.  "Dirt is your hair's friend," says my stylist, "Most products you use are merely replacement dirt to create body and texture."   I understand that now.

2.  I allow my hair to air-dry almost exclusively, except the bangs, because I have cowlicks along my hairline there that need immediate drying to get and keep everything into the right place.   I can do this because I shower the minute my feet hit the floor, and put in a nifty product that I'll tell you about in a minute, combing it all out and then flipping it over and shaking and separating the strands a few times as I go about the rest of my morning routine.  My hair is usually then dry enough to style in about an hour - the time it takes to make breakfast and dress and wash and brush the kids for school.  If I know I'm not going to have an hour for my hair to dry, I wash it in the evening, allow it to air dry before bed and then spritz it with water before styling as usual in the morning, or I wash as normal in the morning and then lightly dry it with a hair dryer just at the roots to help speed the process along, then allow a shorter time for air-drying.

3.  I get my hair trimmed every 6 to 7 weeks.  It needs shaping that often, and even with my new healthier routine, it still gets a little dry at the very ends.  I get my stylist to do this every time, but I could probably save myself some expense by having it trimmed at a discount place every other six weeks, just asking them to "follow the lines" of my stylist's work.  Trimming often enough means split ends don't get time to spread UP, dividing the hair shaft further and further towards your head and keeping your hair from growing longer (if that's what you're after) or looking shiny and smooth.


4.  For spiral curls, after air drying, I roll my hair on hot rollers.  TOO TIME-CONSUMING, you say?  Nay, nay, small pup, I respond.  Once your little fingers are used to the process, you can have your hair up in rollers in a very few short minutes.  And then you're free to put on your make-up, make the bed, poke around in your closet for today's outfit, mop up spilled juice, change a diaper, call your Mom, whatever.  I use a set of travel rollers made by Remington.  I like that they are fairly small in diameter and that they get very, VERY hot.

To roll my hair for spiral curls, I take a small section of hair and brush through it.  Then I place the roller at about the middle of the length of the hair and wrap the bottom half of my hair around it, in a spiral.  Then, holding the end of the bottom half in place on the roller, I roll the top half of the hair around the roller over the part that is already rolled.  This holds the already-rolled hair in place for me.  And then I clip the roller into place.  I repeat this all over my head, always rolling all the way up to the crown or roots to give me fullness.  And then I go about my business for about 30 minutes while the hair cools completely.  COMPLETELY.   (This is why I occasionally show up to drop Peabody off at preschool - I don't have to get out, his teachers come get him out of the car for me.  LOVE THAT! - in rollers.  And why I'm also occasionally seen rabidly tossing rollers and clips out of my hair and into a big basket in the passenger seat of my car while sitting at stoplights a few blocks away from the grocery store or library.)  (I always wear large, dark sunglasses when I do this.)

To take the rollers out, I remove the clips and let the rollers fall out into the sink.  This way I'm not pulling on the curls, and they seem to hold better and longer this way.

To style, I just "wash" my dry hair at the roots with my fingertips and then twist and smooth everything into place until I like how it looks.  I don't use a brush, ever, on curls.  Just my fingers.


5.  For straight styles, I use my good old el cheapo Conair straightening iron on the very hottest setting.  I'd love a fancier iron, but I can't justify the cost because my Conair works fine for me after air-drying and using the right products.  Again, I just brush out small sections and pull the iron over them slowly, curving it a bit sometimes to create a little arch or loose bend in the hair as I go down.  Easy.

6.  I don't use salon products, I use GOOD products that work well and don't cost a fortune:

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

For washing every other day, Mane & Tail Conditioner.

Infusium 23 Repair and Renew Conditioner.  For washing and conditioning the other days.  

(On the third day, I use the Infusium 23 Repair and Renew Shampoo to wash.)  

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

Organix Moroccan Argan Oil.

ICK, you say?  Oil on my hair?  Oh yes.  This oil isn't oily.  It goes on like an oil, but when it dries, it doesn't leave hair stringy or separated or dirty-looking.  It smells FANTASTIC, makes combing much easier, speeds up your drying time by about 30%, air dry or blow dry, and WOW! does it impart shine and smoothness.  I love it, and so does everyone I've ever spoken to who has tried it.  And it's only about $6 a bottle, which is about a quarter or less of the cost you'd pay for a salon product that does these same things.  I squirt about a quarter-sized puddle in my hand and rub my hands together (my hair is LONG, so use your own judgment on how much you need for shorter hair.)  Then I apply the bulk of the product to the lower half of my hair, from mid-shaft to tips, concentrating on the ends, especially.  Then I wipe the remaining product over the top half of my hair, avoiding my bangs (my face gives them all the shine they need as the day wears on, if you know what I mean), to help tame fly-aways and those bristly grays and re-growth.  EASY.  And such a nice finish.

I don't use hair spray.  I like my hair to move and shine, and try as I may, I've never found a hairspray that both allowed for shine and movement and imparted noticeable, long-lasting hold, so I just don't bother.

This was a LOT of (possibly too much) information and I know not particularly exciting to many readers, but I do get questions and I thought I'd share my current hair routine.

If for no other reason than to provide that much more data to support the aliens' theory.

(Definitely critical to the survival and perpetuation of the species.  DEFINITELY.)

Y'all can subscribe to FriedOkra's feed here.