Curly Girl Update - March 2013

Anyone else out there having wacky unpredictable hair days lately?  Maybe it's the crazy weather here in Pennsylvania.  Warm one day, snowing the next.  The world may never know.

My hair days lately have been ranging from mildly acceptable to completely shitty.  From one day to the next, with the same exact products, my results have been completely unpredictable.  I have no idea what the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks is going on in Heather's Hair Land.  

I've been using my same old products, in various combinations.  Nothing's really working for me. 

My current products

Kinky Curly Curling Custard (KCCC)
La Bella Super Hold + Ultra Shine
Biotera Styling Curl Creme
Lily of the Valley Aloe Gel

How I've been using them

Biotera as leave-in + La Bella Gel: Works sometimes, not others; very unpredictable combination

Biotera as leave-in + KCCC + La Bella Gel: Too crunchy and stringy

Biotera as leave-in + KCCC + Aloe + La Bella Gel: Decent results at times, but unpredictable

KCCC + Aloe + La Bella Gel: Better results than when using Biotera first, but still nothing to write home about

The verdict

The aloe definitely helps, regardless of what it's used with.  I've mentioned that before, and it seems to be holding true.  KCCC has it's days, but it seems to depend on what it's used with and how much of it I use. Four pea size globs seems to be the max amount of KCCC my hair will tolerate before betraying me.  I seem to need a firm hold gel, but La Bella doesn't seem to be the one for me. I had a gigantic tub of it, and I felt the need to exhaust the supply before buying something new.  Now that that's finally gone, I decided it's high time to shop around.     

In my hunt for a new gel, I read something in the CurlTalk forums about someone using coconut oil with their KCCC, then topping it off with strong hold gel.  Well, as we all know, I love coconut oil for almost all things...so needless to say I gave this a try!  I used equal amounts of KCCC + coconut oil emulsified in my palms then raked through, followed by a small amount of La Bella Gel.  I actually liked it quite a bit, although I don't want to jump the gun.  My hair was well defined, and soft, although it looked a little stringy until I scrunched it and puffed my roots.  Surprisingly, it didn't feel oily at all, which really surprised me as I'm usually SUPER easily weighed down by oils.  

I will continue to play with this combination, but as we can see, my results tend not to be consistent.  Only time will tell.  

In the meantime, I ordered some Alba Botanica products.  I read in the forums some people having really good results with their products.  Some people like the curl creme, some the gel, some the leave-in.  So I ordered all three :)  

*Fingers Crossed* that one of them works for me!  


How-To: Matting Your Own Art

I recently picked up some prints from a seller on Etsy.  I love the prints, but they were an unusual size.  I couldn't find any frames that fit them nicely, and I wasn't prepared to pay for custom framing.  So, as usual, I went the DIY route for framing and matting.  I'm pretty pleased with the results...

I picked up the supplies for this project for less than $40 total.  That was due in large part to the sale at the craft store.  My frames were marked down from $21.99 to $7.99!  Ummm, yes please!  The poster board ran me about $6.  Other than that, I had all the supplies needed on hand.

To create your own matting, you'll need:

  • frames 
  • poster board
  • art prints
  • pencil
  • X-acto knife
  • Omnigrid ruler
  • self healing mat

First things first, I used these float frames.  They are designed with two panes of glass, instead of one pane of glass and piece of backing.  I chose them by accident, because they were on sale.  But they worked out far better than expected because the matting ended up pressed snugly to the art print between the two panes of glass.  I did matte another set of prints with traditional frames, and the results were not nearly as polished.  The finished product with the float frames looks almost professional...from a distance at least!  When you get up close, you can see there is no depth to the matting, so it doesn't have QUITE the same effect, but damn close!  And I couldn't be happier, especially for just under $40!  

To start off, take the glass out of your frame.  Lay the glass down on top of your poster board.  I lined mine up in one of the corners so I only had to cut two sides.  Less room for user error is always good, imo.  Press down firmly in the center of the glass, and cut around the sides of the glass with your X-acto.  

You should then have a piece of poster board which fits your frame perfectly.  Move the glass and X-acto elsewhere.  Figure out how thick you want your matting borders to be.  If you're not sure, start off THICKER than you think you might want.  That way you will still have room to trim, if necessary. The top and bottom borders don't have to be the same thickness, just as long as it's visually appealing to you!  I made sure my prints were evenly framed by the matting, which ended up looking nicely symmetrical although my matting is thicker on the sides than top/bottom.  

Once you've determined how thick you want the matting, grab your Omnigrid ruler, lay it over the poster board at the desired measurement, and draw a line with your pencil.  Do this with all four sides. Now you have a nice, neat rectangle in the middle which you will be cutting out.  Now realign the Omnigrid with your lines, and use it to trace your pencil markings on each side.  You should end up with something looking like this:

Repeat these steps as many times as necessary for each print you have.

To assemble, lay down one of your glass panes, then lay the matting down on top of the glass, then line your print up on top of the matting (face down), and lay the back pane of glass down on top.  Carefully lift the panes and slide them into the frame.  And viola! You have a matted piece of art!

As I mentioned earlier, I do highly recommend getting the float frames for this project because the end result will be much more polished.  The prints I did with traditional frames were not pressed as tightly to the front pane of glass, and you could see some shadows where gaps formed between the print and the matting.  Nothing major, but I'm a perfectionist and it bothers me.  My boyfriend says he doesn't notice and they look fine.  Whatever.

Any questions?  Feel free to leave them in the comments section!


Juicing, and how to make it last

Yes, it’s been forever since I’ve last posted. No, I’m not going to bore you with how busy I was or what was keeping me from the blog.  What I am going to do is talk about juicing. 

As you might have guessed, I finally got that juicer which I’ve been coveting for some time now.  You know the one.  The Omega J8005.  She’s a beauty. 

You might be wondering why I chose this one over, say, one of the ever-popular Breville’s or the Green Star.  Or you might now be wondering what the heck the Green Star is. 

Okay, okay.  Let me start from the beginning. 


I started off thinking I would, in fact, get a Breville centrifugal juicer.  The price seemed right, and hey, the Amazon ratings are pretty high, so how bad could it be?  Well, upon further research, I discovered that these centrifugal types are far more prone to oxidation than their masticating counterparts.  This is due to the way in which they work.  What they do, pretty much, is take the vegetables and spin them around and cut them up until the pulp is spun dry.  Then the pulp and juice are separated and ejected through their respective exits.  The problem with this is it’s not quite as efficient as most masticating juicers, which means waste.  If there’s anything in the world that I hate, it’s waste.  Immediately, my mind conjures up images of soggy pulp and wasted juice (and having to buy too much produce, and what that’s going to do to my grocery budget…and before I know it I’m in a full blown panic about going bankrupt.  All over soggy pulp.  My brain is a chaotic place…).  This is all extremely wasteful and I can’t really stomach that much waste (money, and food…and I guess nutrients, so TRIPLE NEGATIVE on these centrifugals), especially when I consider just how much I’m planning to juice.  The added expense over time of the wasted juice is simply not worth saving a few bucks right this second (the centrifugal juicers are typically much more “affordable” than the masticating juicers).  And apparently these suckers can be pur-itty loud.  I don’t know about you, but I have enough appliances trying to murder my ear drums.  I don’t think I need another. 


My next logical step, of course, was to begin looking into masticating juicers.  This is where I found the Omega line of juicers.  Also in this category is a brand called Champion.  Some people like them, but in my research I determined the Omega to be better (for my uses), for reasons I am now unable to recall.  Go figure.  The masticating juicers work slower, but juice much more efficiently than the centrifugal types.  I can handle throwing in a few extra minutes of my time if it means higher quality juice, and more of it.  The pulp coming out of my machine (the Omega J8005) is dry as a bone.  The only time it’s at all wet is if I’m pushing too much food through the chute, which means I’m not giving the machine enough time to work its magic on the pulp already in the auger.  If I’m patient, I can’t squeeze a single extra drop of juice from the ejected pulp.  That auger thing I mentioned, that’s the other difference between the two types if juicers.  The masticating juicers work with an auger, which rotates to push and squeeze the juice from the veggies, working the ever-dryer pulp toward the spout, while excreting the (almost) pulp-free juice out the bottom of the compartment.


There are also a few other models to choose from.  The Green Star, mentioned above, is basically the top of the line.  It can’t be beat as far as efficiency and juicing grasses and greens.  It also comes with a $500 price tag, so you get what you pay for here in the juicing realm.  Omega also makes an upright masticating juicer, which is sort of new technology on the juicing scene (or so I was to understand while doing my research).  I don’t really know too much about them, as I didn’t dig too deep into them.  The one I found was almost $400, so when I realized I could get everything I wanted for ~$250, I decided to quit while I was ahead and go with the Omega J8005 before I convinced myself that I did, indeed, need to spend $500 on a juicer. 

Juicing in Action

When I started talking to people about juicing, most people seem to share the opinion that juicing is too expensive.  So far, I beg to differ.  Let me give you a cost example for my most recent batch of juice.  I like a nice combo of cucumber, tomato, carrot, apple, parsley, and ginger.  I made a triple batch over the weekend to last me throughout the week.  Here’s what I used and what I estimate to be the cost of each:

(Keep in mind, it’s currently the dead of winter here in PA, so prices are a little higher than usual)

15 carrots:                           $0.90
4 green apples:                     $2.00
6 tomatoes:                          $5.50
3 large cucumbers:               $3.00
1 handful of parsley:             $0.15
2-3” chunk of ginger:            $0.25
TOTAL                              $11.80

This batch yielded 6 pint sized jars of juice.  For me, that equals 6 days’ worth of juice.  So that is less than $2 per pint of fresh vegetable juice.  I used to spend more than twice that amount on a 12 oz. mocha latte every day, so I count juicing as a bargain, both for my wallet and for my health. 

So it’s official.  I’m a juice convert, for sure.  I love having a fresh glass of juice every morning, ready and waiting in the fridge.  In case you’re wondering how I keep my juice for the entire week, I use my foodsaver with the widemouth jar attachment to “preserve” the juice.  I put preserve in quotes because it’s not technically preserving, since it still requires refrigeration, but this method will keep your juice fresh for at least a week.  A week is the longest I’ve let sealed containers of juice hang around, so I can’t yet speak to the quality of juice contained for longer periods of time.  I will bet that the juice will last longer, though, because I didn’t notice any degradation of flavor at the 6 day mark.  I do highly recommend sealing your juice in mason jars, as it saves a lot of time to prep, juice, and can a weeks’ worth of juice at once, instead of chopping and cleaning 7 days a week. 

Have any juicing know-how of your own to share?