Harried Alive

Featured

Whoo – it’s been a long while. I’ve been busy, y’all.

Face Paint

Doing what, you might ask? Work, mostly, and also precinct chair duties in preparation for the upcoming mid-term election. Which, I am fairly certain, the Dems will not win in Texas. I love me some Beto O’Rourke, y’all – something to which my front yard signs will proudly attest – but in spite of the need for me to put on my happy face for the Dems in my neighborhood I represent, well, come on. We all know Ted Cruz is a lock for Texas. This state might get there eventually, but I do not think this is the year. I’m perfectly willing to be wrong – and I hope I am – but I don’t see it happening.

mistake#6

Visual representation of me not seeing it happening

We’ve held candidate meet and greets and block walks, and I’ve sent out fliers and push cards. And until this week I was watching/listening to news obsessively; something I finally realized I had to put a stop to. The constant news was making me insane, and the Kavanaugh nomination did me in. I was taking it all, way, WAY too personally, and it was ruining my life. Yes, I believe Donald Trump is a shitty president. I think his administration is incompetent at best; greedy, selfish, and batshit crazy at worst. But you know what – I have disliked presidents in the past, and considered them dangerous and awful (I’m looking at you, Dubya), but I still managed to have a separate and functional life from all of that. And somewhere between November 16, 2016, and last week, those lines got completely erased. I was obsessively on Twitter. I listened to MSNBC and/or CNN for about eight hours a day. I ranted and raged alongside my husband (who is as liberal as I am, but had way more control over himself and the amount of news consumption he was absorbing).

mistake#10

My brain on Twitter

Long story short, I finally realized I was not going to be helpful to anyone if I was completely insane, so I put myself on a one-week news blackout. No radio, no Twitter, no Washington Post, nothing. The first two days were awful, as checking Twitter every spare second had become a terrible pastime of mine, but by day three I had started to realize there were actually music channels on Sirius XM, and there were TV shows to watch (Dancing Queen, anyone?), and work I’d been putting off, and you know, a world out there that was worth enjoying.  Of course, people are still laughing at me when I tell them I am slowly allowing the news back into my life with my favorite three-hour block of news shows each night (Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’DonnelL, and Brian Williams) as if it’s hilarious that someone’s idea of properly REDUCING the amount of news consumption to THREE HOURS A DAY is somehow inadequate. But to go from 24 hour news consumption to three is, in my opinion, progress. So there you go.

MIstake # 18

But no, Beto still ain’t gonna win.

What else has been going on? Lots of work – I have 19 clients this year, which is a LOT. I tutor 3 or 4 kids a day, starting at 3:30 PM and usually working until around 8:30 at night. I also tutor three kids on Sunday, and then I have Friday and Saturday as my weekend off. This is working well, but it’s a lot of kids to plan for and keep track of, so I’ve really had to commit myself to staying organized and making good planning notes after each session, or else I forget what we did when I go back to that kid a week later. Note taking has become VERY important with so many students, and it’s the last thing I want to do after getting home around 9 PM, but I’ve found ways to make it work. Sometimes I do it the next morning, and other times I leave for tutoring a little early and stop by a coffee shop to make my notes before the work begins. One way or another, I’ve found that staying on top of it is essential to doing a good job, so a lot more of my time is taken up with work now than has been for the first two years of doing this. Which is to say that photography has taken a MAJOR backseat lately. I took zero photos in September, and very few in August, so I started editing old blooper photos like the ones you see in black and white above (photos where I screwed something up). It’s been kinda fun to work with photos that are basically screw-ups, and it kept me  occupied when I had a little time to play around with Photoshop.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here’s a few examples

I actually took the first week in October off, just to catch up with things, and I took a day to shoot some photos in a few new wigs I’ve picked up lately. But then I got so busy again I’ve barely had time to edit any of them at all.

multi1

Except this one

greenlight2

And this one

97

And this one

So there you go – that’s what’s been going on with me since July 9th when I last wrote a blog post. It feels like I’ve been so busy that I should have a lot more to tell you, but at this point in the school year I can’t remember much past the last week or so, so anything else interesting that’s happened to me lately has already been forgotten. I will try not to stay away so long next time, and  I hope you are all doing well.

Summer Stuff

I’ve had a light summer of tutoring, with the past two weeks having no students whatsoever, so you’d think I would be busy taking advantage of all the free time to do things I don’t have time to do during the school year. But, you would be wrong.

JasmineFloral1

For the most part, I’ve been incredibly lazy, napping every day and sleeping late, while occasionally hopping into the pool. But I’ve had a few moments of activity here and there, just enough to keep me away from the blog, I suppose.

braids1

For starters, my older sister and I have taken a few little day trips over the past several weeks. It started when I was staying in a hotel during the last few weeks of our mold remediation; I figured since I was in a nice hotel and she and I both love hotel rooms, she should come on over and hang out with me for a while. She spent one night with me and we spent the day shopping at the nearby mall and eating in the restaurants surrounding the area.

Hallettsville1

I thought this was the town hall in Hallettsville, TX, but my sister thinks it’s a church. I still have no idea. 

That led to us getting another hotel room in Clear Lake City so we could visit my brother, who lives in Dickinson, when he threw a graduation party for his two kids. It’s a long drive out to Dickinson from where we live, even though technically it’s all still “Houston” – especially since Dickinson is off the main freeway to Galveston Island and the party was thrown over a holiday weekend. Traffic is always horrible on I-45 in the summer, so my sis and I figured we’d get another hotel room, check in at the graduation party, and then spend another nice night hanging out in a hotel on the water instead of making two traffic trips in one day. I forgot my camera, though, so no pictures of that little jaunt.

Hallettsville2

Another Hallettsville shot

Most hotels were booked in Clear Lake for the weekend, though, and we ended up staying in an older Hyatt hotel that had a lovely view overlooking the bay, but had horribly thin walls and those old, adjoining rooms that I don’t think newer hotels even do anymore – and the first floor we stayed on was so poorly insulated and populated with small children that I swear my sis and I kept opening the door to the hallway to try to find out where the large gaggle of children was playing in the halls, only to realize that they were the kids in various other rooms that we were hearing as if they were right outside our door. We ended up moving to a higher floor, where they apparently don’t let kids stay, and that reduced the noise level quite a bit. But lesson learned, no more stays at the Clear Lake City Hyatt. It also must have been moldy, because after having no breathing issues for several weeks, I woke up coughing like a maniac the night of our stay, and it took me another week or so to recover. Moving on.

Hallettsville4

Then my sister wanted to go spend a few days in an incredibly tiny little Texas town called Hallettsville, which is where all these pictures are from. It’s a bit convoluted, but my aunt and uncle bought a tiny little country house there, on about 4 acres of land, where they plan to retire someday, and my sister, who is close to my aunt, has a key to go stay out there whenever she wants (I’m not as close to this aunt so I had never even been to this house before). Sounded like a nice free vacation to me, so we loaded up her car and headed out there for a few days in June.

Hallettsville3

When I say Hallettsville is small, I do mean small: Wikipedia lists its population as just over 2,000. Even though we were wandering around their little town square on a Saturday afternoon, there was still almost NO foot traffic, and I have no idea how anything aside from the factory supply store manages to stay in business there. The house my aunt and uncle bought is small, also – almost claustrophobic – but it’s actually a nice enough place to retire if you want some land and a Dairy Queen to visit on occasion. I was a bit fascinated by this little walkway leading up to their front porch though, and fortunately I’d remembered to take my camera so I could do some quick levitation using it as a background:

sidewalk2

That’s the walkway leading up to their house, and as you can see, it just sort of stops for no reason in the middle of the grass. I’m assuming someone at some point had intended to put in a driveway or something and then never did…? I dunno. But anyway, it inspired me as some sort of launching pad to a magical dimension, so there you go. The house is right behind me here, and you can see their little stretch of land with some decent trees and a pleasant view to look out over from the front porch. Not bad, if you’re into that sort of thing. Not sure I could do it long-term though.

Fun little detail: my aunt and uncle keep a golf cart on the property so they can tool around a little, and my sister loves to just hop on it and drive around on the grass, so we did that a few times. I am not as big of a fan of this, because I HAAAAATE flying bugs, and as soon as you start cruising around on the grass all of these CREATURES leap out of the grass and into the cart. So, my sis was really enjoying driving around and listening to me scream. Then, she accidentally ran over a cow pie (that’s cow shit, for those of you not familiar with the term) and it splattered all over my leg. Two more reasons I probably should not retire in the country: cow pies and flying bugs. Moving on.

nails

In other news, I have new little beauty obsession – fake nails, the kind you glue on and can buy at the CVS.I wore acrylics for years, but really got tired of all the filling and drilling involved, so about a year ago I had those soaked off and just got shellac manicures for about another year. But, since my husband and I are both wanting to work less now, I am trying to cut back where I can, and shellac manicures are rather expensive where I live ($50!). So, the last time I went to the salon I just got a plain old manicure and left it at that. But, not being one to just leave well enough alone, I decided to try out these Lime Crime “Pop On Nails” I saw on their site a while back. I’d never been able to try them before, because of the aforementioned acrylics, so I figured while I had naked nails would be the best time to try.

popon

I’ve never tried press-on or glue-on nails before, and I was actually nervous about how these would turn out. I held onto them for several weeks, but then my sister and I decided to make one more hotel trip out to the Woodlands to see Chicago and REO Speedwagon (shut up, I’m old) so I figured that was as good a time as any to give these a go. I was really surprised by how nice they looked. I had to shorten and file them a little because they were pretty long, though:

wine

I don’t drink; that was actually my sister’s glass of wine

I loved them so much I ended up buying all the other available colors of them I could find online (they were limited edition at Lime Crime) but before I got them all in, I discovered some nails I like even better – the ImPress brand you can get at any drugstore or even (in my case at least) the grocery store.

impress

 

I actually prefer these ImPress nails because they are much easier to apply, and they hold up better. The Lime Crime ones look amazing at first, but they have to be applied with nail glue and the first time I applied them I used WAY too much and spent about an hour melting them off my fingers with acetone. The ImPress nails actually have adhesive already applied to the nail, so you just peel the backing off and stick them to your nails.

Photo Jul 09, 7 42 03 PM

I have always had seriously wrinkly fingers! When I was a kid classmates would call me “granny hands.” Kids are assholes, BTW. 

Both brands stayed on for a week (the ImPress ones are still on as I type this) but I must say that after a few days the color was starting to flake and peel off the Lime Crime nails, and every little scratch or scuff showed on the surface so that by the end of that week, they looked a lot worse for the wear. So far, the black Impress nails aren’t showing any wear and still look like new. I haven’t tried to take these off yet, so I can’t speak to how hard they will be to remove, but all the reviews say they are easy enough to do and I know I didn’t overdo it with adhesive this time. I’m so pleased with these nails, especially since the ImPress ones are easy to find, are inexpensive (around $7 for 30 nails) and are quick to put on. I never liked getting my nails done, although I do still get pedicures (ImPress actually makes press on toenails, too, but I just can’t go there), but I always loved the look of the acrylic nails, and these are a really practical and nice alternative.

newroomjump1

Another thing I’ve done recently is volunteer to be a Democratic precinct chair for my precinct. I do not yet know what this means, but there is a meeting for all of the Democratic chairs for Precinct 3 this Wednesday, so I’ll find out my duties then. With the mid-term elections coming up, I am sure it will entail a lot of phone calls and block-walking, which I do not look forward to, but the opportunity was there for me to fill an empty chair and even though I didn’t really want to do it, with everything going on right now I felt it was important to do it anyway. Especially being here in Texas, where so many of these immigrant families are being torn apart. By the way – our city’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, is awesome, and in no way supports these policies the Trump Administration has tried to implement and bungled so stupendously. He and our city’s police chief Art Acevedo are both very strong, progressive voices for reasonable immigration policy and gun control; Acevedo in particular has gotten a lot of attention lately for his outspokenness on both issues. Houston, even though it’s deep in heart of red, red Texas, tends to have Democratic mayors, and Fort Bend County – which is the county where I live – is statistically the most diverse county in the country. A lot of Fort Bend is more purple than red, except for – you guessed it – precinct 3, where I live, which is the reddest area out here. So block walking for the Dems should be an adventure. If I get shot, well, I can’t complain. I’ve had a better life than most…only partly kidding about this!

bossy1

I also discovered Venessa Arizaga’s jewelry lately, which, if you haven’t checked her out, you really should. I know a lot of her stuff looks insane, and her prices aren’t cheap, BUT the pieces look much better on that they do just sitting there against a white background, and if you get on her mailing list she has major sales ALL the time. I got a TON of her stuff during a recent 50% off all sale event, and things like that bracelet above I got for a steal. It was already reduced to  $27 and I got it for 50% off that, when it was originally fifty bucks! I now have a ton of her necklaces and bracelets and they are just what I like. I actually don’t care for metal jewelry, and much prefer necklaces and bracelets made of leather or cloth material, which is pretty much her thing. And everything is made to be worn with other items and really layered together, like so:

floorseat1

It all is very light and works well together – although I will say, I bought one of her shell chokers and it was literally choking me; I had to buy a necklace extender just to fit it around my neck. That one also isn’t very comfortable; the shells are heavy and the material is itchy. But other than that, everything I have bought from her I’ve loved.

coldshoulder1

Oh, and I have a few other things I’m keeping busy with right now – for starters, I am really trying to learn Spanish, and so far am having little luck. I’m using Babel, and there a few damn verbs I just can’t get a grasp on (those damn ‘to be’ verbs are killing me) and trust me, if I were taking this as a class I’d be failing right now. But using the app is actually helping me understand what it’s like to struggle with English grammar and spelling, which helps me with my tutoring, so it’s all good, even if my Spanish never gets up to snuff.

charlotte1

The thing I am more excited about than that, though, is that I am learning how to sew. I haven’t officially started yet, because my sewing machine doesn’t arrive until tomorrow (I tried to borrow one from my mom but hers was broken), but I’ve got a good book to work with that jumps right in to working with simple patterns like making headscarves and simple skirts. I’ve been wanting to learn how to sew forever (I was forced to take sewing in high school, and in a fit of misplaced feminist rage I refused to learn anything. This worked against me because not only did I not learn how to sew but I failed the class, which was less than impressive on my transcript. I failed cooking too, for the same stupid reason). I figure that most of the clothes I love to wear are loose, light, and pretty damn simple; I dislike zippers and buttons and fancy details, I tend to wear things I can easily pull on and off, and I don’t even like to wear prints, so how hard can it be to sew this stuff? Plus, I have so many things I don’t wear but would if I could just alter them a little, and let’s not even talk about the COSTUMES I could create for my photos! I really think I am going to love this new hobby, and hopefully, I will be better at it than I am at speaking Spanish.

doubleme1

As you can tell, I’ve also managed to take some photos too – so this all sounds like I’ve been way busier than I feel like I’ve been. Especially when I mention that I am taking one more trip with my sister at the end of the month to Galveston, but honestly, most of these trips I’ve taken have been her idea, and she’s done the planning while I’ve just tagged along. I promise there has also been a LOT of nap-taking, TV binging, and Candy Crush playing going on this summer, too. In truth, I’ve actually started to get bored and look forward to getting back to tutoring my students again in August.

Oh, and one more thing – in trying to spend less, I recently opted to not renew a LOT of the features I’ve paid for in the past for this blog. I am honestly not sure what some of the stuff was I was paying for, so things might randomly go wonky here if I actually canceled something I should have kept. If that happens, I’ll figure it out eventually and get things back to normal. 🙂 It just seemed like I was spending lots of money every year for a blog I only post on about once a month now, so in a fit of frugality I canceled all the extra features. We’ll see what happens!

Mannequin Avenue

Dang, I have been busy with these mannequin heads, y’all:

jasmine4

First of all, I got the idea to stick a bunch of fake fruit to one of my mannequin heads. I really don’t know why this idea came to me, but once the thought occurred to me to do it I had to give it a go.

GrapeNecklace

I used double-sided tape to stick some fake fruit to the mannequin; I actually don’t have that much fake fruit – I used Photoshop to duplicate the grapes and stick’em all on there.

GrapeMohawk

I call this “The Grapehawk”

This one is my favorite of the fake fruit shots. Somehow my edits ended up making the mannequin’s face look so real, it’s almost creepy:

PearHead1

What should I call this one? The Pear Devil? 

I also gave her a grape beard in one shot:

FruitHead8

Now, some of you may remember that when I tried out all those Oribe products, I mentioned how shiny and metallic silver the Silverati shampoo is, and how much I wanted to take pics of it running down my face. That would have been pretty messy to do, but when using a mannequin as a model, it was just crazy easy:

Oribe4

I really only took pictures of one mannequin. I composited this shot and changed the face a bit on one of the images so they didn’t look exactly the same. 

These mannequin heads are so ridiculously easy to work with. The have these perfectly smooth, proportioned faces and they’re easy to manipulate as well as glue stuff to or smear crap all over. When I was done, I was able to just wash the old gal off with a rag and call it a day.

Oribe2

The perfect “skin” tones on these mannequins make them super-easy to overmanipulate in processing. I don’t have to worry about uneven skin tones that don’t match up – and this all led to an absolute photo-editing frenzy. I started out simple enough, but as time went on I started to really go to town with the color and shading:

Oribe6

See what I mean? The mannequin is such a great ‘blank’ canvas for some awesome edits and I can really cut lose in all sorts of ways I’ve never done before.

Oribe5

Not to mention how easy the setup and breakdown is. I managed to shoot all these photos this morning before heading out to tutor in the afternoon. Usually that’s not even remotely possible – it takes me at least an hour to put on my makeup and then after the shoot is done, I have to wash it all off again. Not to mention how much longer it takes me to shoot myself as opposed to a perfectly still doll head.

Oribe1

And I didn’t even need any fancy lighting, just my camera with my external flash. Heaven!

Oribe7

I am sure eventually I’ll get bored with these mannequins, but then again, there’s all sorts of mannequins out there with all sorts of faces, and they do whatever I want them to do without complaining. The perfect models!

Oribe8c

I can’t believe how many photos I was able to take as well as edit today, while also eating two meals, tutoring a student, and swimming for half an hour. I’m over the moon with this new direction!

 

Hello Dolly

Recently I was in the Goodwill store by my house when I came across one of those big doll styling heads kids sometimes play with:

Photo Jun 01, 2 29 34 PM

I’ve photographed dolls before, but never ones that were so big I could put my wigs on them and really play around with the facial features in post. Needless to say, it made a difference:

sasha2

sasha3

sasha1-1

All three of these shots came from a quick photo where I just stood the doll head on a table and took a snap. I used my Portrait Pro, PhotoToolbox, and MakeupDirector software to alter the doll’s face to look different in each shot. Then, after seeing how easy she was to work with, I started to get more creative with my shots, adding wigs and wind (of course, because you know how I love hair that blows about) and taking pictures from different angles:

sasha4

Same wig as the shots below, I just put it on the doll head backwards

sasha5

sasha6

I was having a hard time getting the wig to blow around dramatically, however, because I had to sit the doll head on a table and could only get the fan to hit the hair fiber from certain directions. I wanted to be able to get the fan up under the doll as I thought that would create more interesting shapes with the wigs, and then I remembered that I had two wig mannequin heads that have holes in the bottom so they can be put onto a stand. Bingo!

jasmine2a

Jasmine1

I have many ideas for where to go from here, and putting wigs on a doll head is WAY quicker to set up for and easier to shoot than putting the wigs on, and photographing, myself. I also feel more free to go crazy with the processing, since the subject isn’t a real human to start with, and I’m having fun working with some filters I don’t normally use, like Topaz’s Impressions filter, which transforms photo into faux-paintings or sketches.

I can easily set up and shoot some wig shots this way every day without it being a big ordeal, so expect to see more doll shots coming soon! I am, of course, already on the lookout for more heads – the wig mannequins are definitely easier to use, but damn they are expensive, as opposed to the wig-styling kids’ toys that can be found used for around three bucks. I’ll be hitting up eBay for mannequin heads today, and we’ll see what I find. 😉 There are also some really freaky mannequin heads out there, so finding some of those for cheap would be a real bonus.

 

Up and Running

I’ve brought the blog back up, but the wig reviews are still down. At this point, I don’t think I will bring them back, but you never know with me. I’m definitely done reviewing any new ones, since at this point it just doesn’t seem worth it to me when all people who watch them can do is nitpick and complain. Let all those people who find fault with everyone who tries to share their opinions about wigs via video step up and make some for a change, is pretty much where I’m at with it at this point.

fireplace

We got in all the photos I had printed to hang around the house, so I thought I’d share the final result of that. In this photo, which we put on our fireplace mantel, the original had a purple curtain in the image, which I changed to gray to make it match more with our decor. This is one of my favorites that we got printed onto canvas.

front room

This one is in our front room – not sure how I feel about this one, mostly because although I got it printed on the largest canvas the company had, it still gets dwarfed on this wall. All the furniture in this room is pretty old and mish-mash, as well, but I found some small rugs online that I threw over the settee and chairs and it actually doesn’t look half-bad. None of the furniture is very comfortable, though, so I ended up getting big floor pillows to sit on when I spend time in there. Strange little-known fact about me: I have always preferred sitting on the floor to sitting on furniture. Who knows why.

gold balls

office 1

office 2

And yes, I did hang pictures of myself in my office, thankyouverymuch. I know it looks vain and kinda weird, but I love a lot of my self-portraits and movement/motion/costume shots, and I wanted to print some up and hang them somewhere – and the room where I do my photoshoots seemed like the logical choice. I had a few more I really loved and wanted to print, but I would have had to put them in other parts of the house to do so and it did seem like overkill to hang big prints of myself all over the area. So, I stuck with these and called it a day. You may have also noticed that a lot of these prints are a bit crooked or off-center – and I totally admit to not caring about that. I never have, and it makes a lot of people (like Doug) crazy that to me, just getting close to straight is enough for me.

I also think I hung these too high on the wall, but again, I don’t really care:

pet wall

I call this our “pet wall;” it’s upstairs in the loft which functions as my husband’s office (hence the mess everywhere – he’s even more sloppy than I am). In spite of how much I love color in my shots, I transformed a lot of them into monochrome for printing, just because when hung side by side they tended to clash – that happened with the pet shots and the photos I hung in my office, too.

bedroom

The bedroom has had a few issues – at first I bought all white bed linens, because I loved the look, but since our pets run the house and deposit themselves on all of our furniture, that lasted about a month before I had to make a change. I refuse to spend a lot on bed linens, though, because of the aforementioned pet issue, so I found this new comforter set on eBay for $60 and I actually like it – even though I still prefer the look of the solid white.

I finally set up a photoshoot yesterday and took new pictures, so I’ll share more of those in a later post. At least the major house stuff is finally done!

House Party

OK, so. It’s all been a challenge, but the major home renovations are finally done.

Before and After shots – the ‘before’ is on the left

There’s still a lot to do – we are going to print my photos to hang on the walls, and there’s still furniture to replace or move  – but the main, really destructive stuff is done.

I tried to come back home once the floors were installed, but there was so much construction dust everywhere that my lungs got very irritated again – so I spent the last week while the house was being painted at a hotel.

We took out all the seriously outdated wallpaper, and replaced it with a soft, subtle beige by Sherwin Williams called “Kilim Beige.” You can’t see it really in this shot of our living room, but above the wainscoting it’s actually beige, and below it is white. The contrast doesn’t show up well in the photo, and it’s pretty subtle anyway. Truth be told, the paint ended up being lighter than I thought it would be, but it is quite pretty, and our house is old which means we have small rooms, so anything much darker would have kept the rooms feeling small and cramped, so in the end it’s fine.

We also replaced all that nasty wall-to-wall carpet with laminate flooring, FINALLY. I’ve been wanting to do this for years, but we were too cheap and lazy to get it done.

The color in some of these photos also looks more pink or red than the wall paint is in reality. Oh well.

My health is slowly on the mend – I am still coughing a lot, but at this point I just think it’s going to be a slower recovery than I would like. It still wakes me up at night sometimes, but not regularly, and I am seeing a pulmonologist regularly who says my lungs are clear and there’s nothing else going on but inflammation, and I’m just going to have to keep taking my meds and being patient. I also screwed up my back sleeping on the floor for the two weeks I tried to stay at the house, and my sciatic nerve is a mess. But I’m seeing a chiropractor for that and limping around for now while that recovers.

Slowly but surely, things are getting back to normal, and I have a lot of life and work stuff I need to get in order since everything has been all over the place since early March. But I am definitely ready to get back to normal and not live out of a suitcase anymore!

Black Mold, Texas Tea

After two and a half weeks at my sister’s, I came back home today to a house that’s still ripped apart, but has been given a clean bill of health and has been scrubbed into submission. We had out air vents cleaned out also, and I swear you can actually SMELL how clean it is in here.

Photo Mar 26, 4 54 05 PM

The entrance to our bedroom

Within the next day or two, all the sealed areas should be opened, and our furniture will be HEPA-vaccuumed a second time and placed back into the bedroom. The floor has been ripped out, though, so in about two weeks we will have to take all the furniture back out again to replace the floors. We are going to go ahead and replace all the nasty carpet on the first floor and get wood laminate for the entire downstairs area, which ultimately will be awesome and is something we should have done years ago, but keep in mind our completely shitty home insurance is not covering a dime of this, so it’s going to cost us a ridiculous amount of money. We also have to get the sheetrock re-done again (most of it is sheetrock we already replaced once, right after Harvey before we knew about the mold situation). Then, we are going to go ahead and rip out all the wallpaper in the areas where we still have it (the kitchen, the bathrooms, and our front living room – yeah, we’ve been living with serious old-school decorating in this house for decades) and get all the walls repainted (some of which we also JUST re-painted right after Harvey).

Photo Mar 26, 4 53 31 PM

One of our built-in bookcases, which also had mold. It wasn’t the black mold we had in the bathroom, but it still has to go. 

But here’s the thing: EVERY TIME I try to get back to normal as far as getting out of the house, going to tutoring sessions, running errands, etc., I get sick again. Even trying to have a simple conversation with someone on the phone sends me into a coughing fit within twenty minutes. It’s as if the only way I feel well is if I sit in bed all day, don’t speak to anyone, or do ANYTHING. And it’s really pissing me off. I have been canceling tutoring sessions for three weeks now, although I’ve managed to squeeze in a random one here and there before getting worn down and miserable again, for the most part I’ve gone weeks without working with most of my kids. Everyone is being really great about it, but I’ve worked really hard to build up the client base that I have, and I hate to risk losing it.

Photo Mar 26, 5 28 34 PM

After packing up all my things and my dogs this morning and driving us all back out to the house, I ended up with another massive coughing fit that just broke me down into tears. I was so frustrated having to cancel on my students again, and to not be able to get back to normal health-wise. I also have now pulled something on my left side from all the coughing, and I’m just really worn down, tired, and disappointed that I can’t get well. I had a chest x-ray done, and while it shows hyperinflated lungs due to asthma, it’s not like there’s any congestion in my chest or anything else going on. It’s just that nothing we’ve tried so far has worked to control my asthma, and we’re pretty much at the top of ladder as far as the escalating steps you take to get asthma under control. I’m honestly not sure what we’re going to try next, unless we add daily breathing treatments and perhaps get allergy tested again to see if I’m reacting badly to something else other than the mold. Especially since the damn mold is gone now and our house is probably the cleanest one in Houston – although the pollen is out of control in the area right now which I am sure isn’t helping.

Photo Mar 26, 4 53 48 PM

Our bedroom furniture, which has been HEPA-cleaned and sealed.

Reluctantly, I took the entire week off and cancelled all my sessions, and as much as I hate to do it my plan is going to be to sit at home on my ass and just. do. nothing. I’m going to go back to the doctor on Thursday for a check-in and I hope to God by next week to be able to get back to normal as far as my health. This sitting around coughing and hacking and feeling exhausted is for the birds. And I haven’t worked out in weeks and am gaining weight. So overall, I just feel sloppy and lazy and nasty and totally blah.

Oribe! Oribe!

I thought since I’ve spent a small fortune over the past several months trying out a ton of Oribe hair products, I’d go ahead and write a review of the different things I’ve tried and what I think of them. I don’t have any photographic evidence of how this stuff affected my hair, but I think I can use my words to describe how it all turned out.

First of all, I will say that using the Oribe shampoos and conditioners does mean my hair air-dries into a bit of a mess. It’s all natural and lacks all of the sulfites and other stuff that’s supposedly bad for your hair, so while it leaves my hair feeling soft and silky, “soft and silky” on baby-fine hair often = frizzy mess. In that sense, if I wanted to just air-dry my hair without any future styling, I’d be better off sticking with the Goldwell or Moroccan Oil products I use that have the more traditional formulations, because they weigh my hair down more and give me more curl and definition, as well as less frizz. But, since I enjoy styling my hair anyway, I do find that when combined with heat-styling this Oribe stuff is amazing, and in the end my styled hair has less frizz and some really nice wave. Also, I recently added a LOT of blonde highlights to my dark hair, which changed the texture somewhat, and also makes it more necessary to style it than it was when it wasn’t highlighted. Moving on.

I’ve tried a few of the shampoos so far, and here they are:

Oribe Silverati Shampoo and Conditioner

oribe-silverati-shampoo-and-conditioner-102941193_sq

I got this stuff when I was planning to grow out my gray, and continue to use it at least once a week on my blonde hair now. I don’t know that it really makes my blonde look any blonder, but the highlights haven’t gotten brassy or anything, and there’s a cool factor here because the shampoo and conditioner are both shiny silver instead of the usual purple tint. If this stuff didn’t cost $50 each, I’d dump a bunch of it over my head and take pictures, because it really does look like liquid metal coming out of the bottles.

Oribe Beautiful Color Shampoo and Conditioner

s-l1600

I also bought this stuff to use on the days I don’t use the Silverati. Both of these lines smell and feel amazing, and do not take much at all to lather up and get to work. Again, they both leave my hair feeling amazingly soft and silky, the only downside being that I must style my hair to add some weight and curl to it since it turns into a little puffball without the usual goop to hold it down. Is it worth the money? I think so – if only because it’s so gentle, it smells amazing, and when used with other styling products (oh, so many styling products in my case) my hair really does turn out great, and continues to look great for 2-3 days after shampooing. With my Goldwell or Moroccan Oil, I can’t stretch a shampoo for three days without looking greasy, but with Oribe I can. So that’s something.

Supershine Moisturizing Cream

51f5IhfG0mL._SL1000_

I’ve found that when going full Oribe, products which add moisture are essential for me. My baby-fine hair tends towards looking dry and frizzy, which is interesting, since when using more traditional products with sulfites and other chemicals my hair gets weighed down and greasy, and I tend to have to wash more often. I’d never dream of using so many moisturizing creams and things on my hair before switching to Oribe, but the overall effect is still hair that feels smoother and lighter than when using heavier products. So, this cream is a real must-have for me; I work it into my wet hair right after stepping out of the shower, and can sometimes add a bit to my hair when it’s dry if it looks a bit frizzy.

Oribe Matte Waves Texture Lotion

51oJoWdELkL._SL1000_

Another cream-based product to put into my hair would have sounded insane before Oribe, but here we are. I didn’t get how to use this stuff at first, and combined it with a few other gels which was too much – now, I just put this on after the Moisturizing Cream and scrunch it into my hair and it’s good to go. It doesn’t add a lot of extra texture when air-drying, but I find that it makes my hair very easy to heat-style into waves the next morning and creates a touchable hold that lasts all day.

Split End Seal

_13378971

This is the product I’ve been using up the most; it’s a smaller bottle so that has something to do with it, but it’s a great little cream that I like to put just on the ends after heat-styling. I often throw some on them when it’s still wet, too; my chemically-treated hair needs help, y’all, and I do think this cream delivers. I also like that it weighs down the ends of my hair a little, which helps since it’s so fine; the ends of my hair can look stringy even without all the highlights, and anything that adds some weight to them combats that.

Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Oil

9349730_fpx

I was hesitant to commit to this oil at first, still loving my Moroccan Oil as much as I did, but I eventually gave in to the lovely bottle, the great title, and the desire to go full Oribe. It’s an oil. It’s in a lovely bottle. Like everything Oribe, it smells amazing. And in case I haven’t yet mentioned it, my hair is frizzy, y’all, and it loves hair oil. It drinks this shit up. I sometimes dab a bit on, concentrating on the ends, while it’s still wet, sometimes not – but I always apply it last after putting a ton of other products on it after heat-styling. It adds a touch of sheen and weight that makes my hair look and feel silky even though it’s loaded with expensive goop. Good times.

Oribe Balm d’Or Heat Styling Shield

US300024696_ORIBE

First of all, aren’t all these bottles just gorgeous? I love to just look at all this crap on my shelves. This was another one of those if-I’m-going-full-Oribe-let’s-really-go-ALL-OUT purchases, but I really ended up preferring it because it’s also a cream, and I feel I can really saturate my strands with it better than the spray form most heat protectants take. Also – and I don’t know why this is – but most sprays I put in my hair end of making it frizzy and dry-looking, including heat-protectant sprays. This stuff doesn’t make my hair crispy or dry at all. And like everything Oribe, I don’t have to use much of it for it to work.

Apres Beach Wave and Shine Spray 

61tTMIT9b0L._SL1000_

First of all, another gorgeous bottle! And, this is one of the few sprays from Oribe, or any brand really, that I feel I can actually use. It’s pretty light, and it does what it says it will do, which is add some volume and texture to my waves. I don’t use it when my hair is wet, though, even though the instructions say you can – this just gives me frizz for some reason, so I stick to using it as a finishing spray, after I’ve air-dried, heat-curled, and applied the Split End Seal, but before I use the Anti-Humidity Spray and Gold Lust Oil. I just flip my hair over, spray some on, and scrub it in, and poof – a little added texture and volume. Voila!

Impermeable Anti-Humidity Spray

_13388284

If I feel my hair needs it (and living in Houston, Texas, my hair often needs it) I will add this anti-humidity spray to my daily routine. I also keep a small bottle of it in my purse. Unlike the oilier shine spray from Oribe that I tried and did not like, this one smooths out frizz without making my hair look flat and greasy. I don’t use every day, but I use it often enough to know it works to reduce flyaways on high humidity days without dragging my hair down or flattening it out.

OK, so far, everything I’ve discussed is stuff I use regularly – but I’ve also tried out a lot of items that I don’t use as much because they’re either treatments you use less often, stuff I just bought and am still on the fence about, or stuff I just don’t care for. Here we go.

The Cleanse Clarifying Shampoo and Essential Antidote Replenishing Conditioner

BC-Oribe-Cleanse-Clarifying-Shampoo

Wow, ladies. This stuff is amazing. I’ve tried a few shampooing/conditioning products by Oribe that don’t even look like shampoos or conditioners – both of these come in cans that look like they would distribute mousse, and in fact both of these have that consistency, more or less. Hell, I don’t even know if they do a good job clarifying or conditioning my hair, but the absolutely luxurious feel of these two products almost makes me not care. The shampoo foams out into a rich, fat-ass lather that actually was WAY more than I needed the first time I used it, so now I know to press that nozzle lightly. Honestly it feels so good I kinda want to lick it after I foam it into my hands; it’s already in a lather as it goes into my hair and overall it just feels (and of course, smells) delicious. It’s also this bizarre silvery, shiny color that matches the bottle, which – how do they do that? It’s amazing.

Then, there’s the conditioner. It also foams out into the palm of your hand, but it feels – I swear to God – like warm honey, and smooths into your hair like butter. So, honey butter for your hair. Need I say any more? I used these both after a major-heavy product-trying day, including one product I seriously over-used to the point that I had a big knot of product at my scalp, and everything rinsed out easily and my hair felt soft and squeaky-clean. Love.

Oribe Bright Blonde Radiance and Repair Treatment

715sltvBe1L._SL1500_

This is for use in the shower instead of a regular conditioner about once a week; it’s in a pump form, and the treatment is purple-tinted like a lot of blonde treatments are. I didn’t notice anything majorly different about my hair after using this, but my husband did ask me if I’d gotten my hair highlighted any more because it looked blonder after I used it. So, there’s that going for it. It’s fine, but it doesn’t do anything noticeable enough that I would re-purchase it.

Soft Lacquer Heat Styling Spray

_100114736

This was the first heat-styling product from Oribe that I tried, and remember what I said about heat protectant sprays leaving my hair dry and frizzy? Yeah, that happened here. When I mentioned to my stylist that I didn’t like this spray because it left my hair feeling crunchy, she laughed and said, ‘Girl, when a product has lacquer in the name it’s gonna be crunchy,” which I probably should have figured out on my own, but whatever. That said – and this is probably going to make me sound a little crazy – I actually do use this product every day, but only on my bangs. Yes, I am very picky about my bangs, so much so that I use a teeny little half-inch flat iron on them every morning to get them just how I like them (otherwise they curl up and I don’t like them) and for some reason, this laquer spray works with the heat to give me perfect bangs every time. Go figure. So yeah, this big old bottle is only used on my bangs and no where else on my head. As is the little flat iron (in fact, I use three different hair irons to style my hair. It’s a process, y’all).

Shine Light Reflecting Spray

61vMxfvdvFL._SL1000_

Nope. One of the few utter fails from my Oribe experiment. It just leaves my hair looking and feeling greasy. I kept trying it day after day as a last-minute afterthought, thinking my hair still looked a little too dry, but it never did anything but kill all the good I’d gotten out of the other products and tools I was using. When I discovered I could use the Gold Lust Oil, Moisturizing Cream, or Anti-Humidity Spray and get better results, I was done with this one. Doesn’t even work on the bangs!

Swept Up Volume Powder Spray

US300026968_ORIBE

If you’ve ever tried Big Sexy Hair’s powder spray, then you know what this stuff is – I was always a bit amazed at that product, but the application of it eluded me. I’d always end up with this big WAD of that powder in my hair that I couldn’t distribute through it, so I’d have one blob of sticky, weird, volumized hair somewhere random on my head. This feels like the same product, with a catch – it’s a pump so you can spray the powder onto your head instead of coming in a shaker you have to shake onto it. Turns out (go figure) this makes a huge difference, and I can actually spritz a little of the powder onto my scalp to give my hair a boost without feeling like I’ve put glue in it. But be careful – it’s a powerful little spritzer, and if you aren’t prepared for how much powder comes out with one little pump you’ll end up with glue-head again. It kinda sucks to pay so much more for what’s essentially the same as a $10 product, but form factor matters, people, and trying to shake sticky powder into my hair like I’m salting and peppering myself for supper was never gonna work in my favor. So Oribe it is.

Star Glow Styling Wax

_13482830

I’ve been a fan of KMS’s Spray Wax for years, as I’ve often used it in lieu of hair spray as a finisher because it’s softer and more malleable, so what could be better than a spray wax but a non-spray wax, because sprays generally don’t work for me? So I decided to give this one a try – it’s described as a “gel-wax” which, whatever, but it is odd – it looks just like honey and is as hard to squeeze out of the tube as honey can be to boot. I’m still not sure what I think of it, because I’ve only used it once and I’d over-used the spray powder already, so it didn’t stand much of a chance once I’d blasted my scalp with glue. But as hard as it is to get out of the tube, I’m not sure how useful it’s going to be. I literally had to crush the damn tube with both hands to get anything to come out, so I’m wondering if I got a defective bottle or something. More on this one later. I got it in the hopes it could add just a bit more texture to my curls, so that’s how I intend to try and use it.

Gel Serum

_100114746

This was the first Oribe product I ever tried and it was at least five years ago; it was one of those times I was at a salon checking out, and I realized I needed some hair gel, so my stylist recommended this one and I tossed it onto the counter without looking at the price tag. I was shocked when it ended up costing $65, but I bought it anyway, and that one damn bottle ended up lasting me four years! You don’t need to use much of any Oribe products at all because they’re all highly concentrated, and this is a good, sturdy hair gel with a nice, medium hold that does the job nicely. It was good enough that I did re-purchase it, but I don’t use it every day, only at times when I feel a little added hold is needed. I’ve found the Texture Waves Lotion to be my primary ‘foundation’ styling product, but this gel pairs with it fine when I want a little extra hold. Plus, it literally is loaded with little gold sparkly flecks, if you’re into that.

Curl Gloss

Oribe Curl Gloss

This is another gel that’s fine, and I use it on occasion, but only paired with other products like the Gel Serum or the Texture Lotion. On its own, it’s just too light to really give my hair the hold it needs, but at times I throw it into the mix and it doesn’t hurt anything.

Dry Texturizing Spray

_13432539

This stuff gets raves from everyone, but for me it’s just meh. As a texturizer, it’s a little drying for me, and as a dry shampoo it doesn’t tend to make any difference – but dry shampoos have never worked on me that well anyway – because again, it’s a spray.  Out of this one and the Apres Wave spray I tried, I find the Apres Wave is less drying and gives me better volume without frizzing. This is fine, and it hasn’t ever made my hair look awful, and you can read tons of raves about this stuff from other people online, but it isn’t a huge winner in my book.

Maximista Thickening Spray

_13387355

Spraying anything into my hair when it’s wet has always been a fail for me, and this one is formulated to be applied to wet hair. It failed.

Volumista Mist for Volume

517Dig8pohL._SL1000_

Same.

 

OK, so. That’s everything I’ve tried. I didn’t put prices on any of this stuff because it’s all stupidly expensive, and please don’t anyone add up how much I’ve spent on all this crap. I will say, unlike previous hair product obsessions like DevaCurl that I’ve had over the years, I’ve ended up using almost all of the Oribe I’ve purchased on a regular basis, with quite a low number of fails. Most of it I can still use on occasion even if it’s never going to be in regular rotation, and overall I am really impressed even with the things I’ve tried that haven’t worked out. It’s a huge line of products, by the way, and even as much as I’ve experimented with barely scratches the surface of what they offer, so there’s definitely something for everyone – if you’re willing to cough up the cash.

 

 

 

 

Mold Maid

There are so many words that rhyme with ‘mold,’ I had a hard time choosing one for my title. Hope I didn’t disappoint.

kai1

Wearing my ROP Kai in Mocha Brown and what looks like a mop but is actually a sweater

Mold remediation starts on our house tomorrow. I am still staying with my sister, and although I tried the first few days to stop by the house each day for a while, by Wednesday I just couldn’t do it anymore. First of all, my sister doesn’t live nearby, so it was a lot of driving, and with the hacking cough and other allergy symptoms I’ve been dealing with for 7 months finally taking their toll, I just felt too worn down to keep up all the traveling. I even canceled all my tutoring gigs for the rest of the week so I could hide out at my sister’s house and just rest.

evanna2

Wearing ROP’s Evanna in Mocha Brown

It seems to be helping. Last night I actually went all night without coughing, and for some reason today I was just ravenous – I ate an ENTIRE PIZZA by myself for lunch and God knows what else. Usually this would be a bad thing, but I haven’t had much of an appetite lately so I took it as a sign that I might be on the mend. My allergies starting giving me hell around 4 PM or so, but given the pollen situation in Houston right now that’s not terribly surprising. Once your immune system starts freaking out due to black mold, it’s gonna be hypersensitive to everything for quite a while, so this is the sort of spring I’m going to get this year, it seems.

blah1

Wearing Rae by ROP in Melted Marshmallow, and Maybelle SuperStay Matte Ink lipstick in Ruler.

If there’s any plus side to all of this, it’s that we’re finally going to fix up some areas of the house that have needed it for years. Our floors have been in terrible need of an update, but we were too cheap and lazy to get it done. Now, we have no choice, so we’re going to pony up the cash and do it right this time, instead of on the cheap like we usually do when it comes to home expenses (because we hate how much this stuff costs). Same for replacing some really old, desperately in need of an update cabinets and painting the walls (and finally removing the ridiculous wallpaper that hasn’t been in style in over 20 years, but again – lazy and cheap). I might actually not mind taking photos or making videos with my house showing instead of the backdrops I always use – but we’ll see about that. I do love my backdrops.

GreenRylee1

It’s like I was trying to run away from Rylee but it wouldn’t let me go. Damn, that’s an ugly wig. 

I tried to at least use Rylee and Hudson in some photos, but honestly, those are still two ugly-ass wigs and they didn’t even photograph all that well. And both of them are ready for the trash after one photo session – I have $30 wigs that have outlasted these monstrosities in a photo shoot!

hudsonbutterfly1

I had to edit the color of Hudson here, because that Melted Sunset was just too stupid-looking. The lipstick is the Maybelle SuperStay in Ruler. 

After playing around with the Kai and Evanna, though, I’ve actually discovered I like them both better in the Mocha Brown, which was the original color I bought them in. So I guess I didn’t really need to get those two others in the Marble Brown and the Caramel after all. Oh well.

EvannaFlowers1

Evanna in Caramel Brown, and SuperStay Matte Ink in Protector

The only other thing I wanted to mention was discovering the most amazing long-wearing lipstick I’ve EVER tried: Maybelline’s Super Stay Matte Ink. I love the idea of long wearing matte liquid lipsticks, but they are so tricky to wear; I grabbed a tube of this in the Fighter color at the grocery store, mostly just because the packaging was cool and flashy and caught my eye, and it wasn’t expensive so I figured what the hell. As the reviews will tell you, this stuff doesn’t dry as quickly as other liquid mattes; it will stay a little tacky for about ten minutes, which can be annoying but actually lends itself to less dryness even after it finally settles down. I actually don’t mind the tackiness as the dry-factor is my one big complaint about these lipsticks – and OMG y’all. This stuff LASTS FOREVER. Seriously. I put Fighter on the next day around 9 AM, ran errands, ate lunch, tutored three students, drank a coffee on the way home, AND washed my face around 10 PM – and I’m not lying when I tell you that after all that, it was STILL ON MY LIPS without retouching once. Even when I woke up the next morning – IT WAS STILL THERE. Miracle.

pod1

I look insane here and I am not sure why. That’s my real hair, BTW – yes, I ombre’d it to hell and I like it, sorrynotsorry. And I’m wearing the Fighter Matte Ink here – one of my favorite colors.

I have, of course, tried like 10 different colors already, and there’s a handful I really like from the neutrals line (Fighter, Driver, and Seductress are my faves). It’s hands-down (lips-down?) the BEST longwearing liquid lip I’ve ever tried, and I’ve spent some serious coin on longwearing lipsticks over the years! So check it out!

evanna1

OK, this about catches me up for now. I’m in a bit of a wig mood since reviewing all those ROPs, but as much as there are some others I’d like to try (damn that Sarah by Jon Renau is tempting) they’re all just too much for me to spend when I don’t wear them out that much. So I will keep an eye on the clearance sales and perhaps snatch something up again soon for a future review. Anyway, time for bed now *cough, cough*

 

 

 

 

Reviews News!

I don’t wear wigs except for fun in photos and on rare occasions out of the house, so the ones I normally buy nowadays are less expensive and far more costume than wigs for daily wear. But I do love the internet equivalent of window-shopping – I will sit in bed at night with my iPad in front of me while I watch TV or listen to an audiobook and scroll, scroll, scroll through the new wig releases from time to time, and honestly, I have not seen much of anything in the way of new wig styles in the past few years that has motivated me to even consider spending my money. Jon Renau, Raquel Welch, Envy, Estetica, or whatever – the styles don’t look all that different from what’s been released in the past, and the colors generally aren’t all that new or exciting, either. But of course, the huge rise in prices over the past five years has a lot to do with that, too – especially when I’m not wearing them full-time anymore.

However:

ROP 2018

Damned if every time Rene of Paris comes out with new styles I don’t want them ALL. Why is this? I think one reason why is because each time ROP comes out with new styles, they also drop at least one or two new cool colors that really think outside the box – like the new color on the Kai (only pic on the bottom row) or the Hudson. And where all I feel like I see when Renau or Welch comes out with new releases is a few long wavy wigs, one bob with bangs, and a few short shags in the same colors that they’ve been pushing for years, I always feel like ROP’s new styles are truly something new. Maybe that’s because the ROP line isn’t nearly as vast as Jon Renau, so there’s less to compare the new styles to, but also, it feels like ROP will release a good mix of styles – a curly one, something long, something short, and at least one that’s just really funky. Or maybe I am a sucker for the more interesting photos they use instead of the same four women in the same four poses in front of a white background, who knows.

Anyway, what is the point of all this? The point is, while browsing around Friday morning as I drank my coffee, I wandered over to Vogue Wigs and these new styles were the first thing I saw. AND O.M.G. I immediately wanted, wanted, WANTED THEM ALL. Yes, these price points are way higher than back in the days when I could easily snag an ROP wig for between sixty to eighty bucks, BUT these retail prices are still significantly below the sticker shock of a $400 Jon Renau synthetic, and as any good online wig-shopper knows, if you search around and wait for sales and/or know where to go, you’re going to snag even a brand new style for a good thirty percent less than Vogue Wigs or Wigs.com is going to sell them. I bought four of these five new styles – every style but the Dakota – and each one was between $160-$170, which I feel is reasonable for a wig with very nice synthetic fiber in a gorgeous color (which ROP really excels at).

So, the point – WIG REVIEWS COMING SOON! I haven’t made any videos in a few years, so they won’t be great or anything, but I will review these when I get them in, because for the first time in years I’m excited about getting some new wig styles. So stay tuned! 🙂