Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hair Secret: Goat's Milk Shampoo Bar

I wanted to share this with the world because I have long suffered with fine hair. Since the early days, my hair was too fine to use barrettes, scrunchies and clips successfully.

See the scrunchy in the ponytail? Cute, right? Girls had tons of scrunchies to match their outfits. If I put one of these in my hair, it would slide right out. Or I could get the scrunchy tight-ish, then over the course of the day, my ponytail would deflate. It never stayed high on the back of my head like the picture.

I had to skip all the great 80s hair trends because my hair would not take a perm, would not achieve height with the use of Aquanet, and would not do anything at all if cut short! I had a few perms. They would last for about a week. Yes, a WEEK. Then, all the curl would be gone. I'd be left with slightly damaged hair, which gave me a bit more body, but not the riot of curls I was looking for.

If I added too much hairspray or mousse to my hair to try to get the awesome hairstyle below, the products would weigh down my hair. I'd end up with a limp mess by about noon. Never getting the mega-80s hair I so desired.

Well, you say, why didn't you go short? Lots of cute short hairstyles in the 80s for women. Remember Princess Di? Even Madonna chopped off her hair and went short. Unlike the lady below, my hair looks worse when shorter. Limp strands of fine hair, turning into a static mess in winter...it was not pretty. Sure, I could use the curling iron to add a bit of something to my hair, but it never lasted. Then, I still had the problem with mousse or hairspray weighing down my now short hair.

So, this example to the right of a cool, short 80s 'do? Never happened for me.

For years I battled my fine hair. I tried numerous 'body' shampoos and 'light' conditioners that promised not to weigh down your hair. I had hair stylists recommend different hair products that were suppose to give body or volume...never worked. By my late 20s, I decided to just work with the hair God gave me and find a way to be happy with it. I did find the ideal length for me: somewhere between shoulder and chin. Too long, it got straggly. Too short, and I lost what little volume I had. Eventually, I discovered that a very layered cut worked well. But I still had those 'flat' hair days where I felt like I was all head and no hair. It was depressing.

However, last Christmas a beautiful shipping error changed my life. I ordered some goat's milk products from a small company that my mother-in-law recommended to the husband. I like goat's milk lotion, and they also had a nice lip balm. So, I ordered some for Christmas.  The little company accidentally sent me someone else's order...a box full of goat's milk shampoo bars. The company, realizing their mistake, told me to just keep the delivery, as it was their fault. I thought that was cool and decided it was worth a shot to try out the shampoo and see what it was like.

All of you limp-haired beauties out there, let me be frank: THIS STUFF WORKS! My hair went from limp and sad to volumized!

When you wash your hair using a shampoo bar with goat's milk, you don't get that slick 'clean' feeling you are used to with regular shampoos. Instead, your hair will feel a bit rough and sort of coated. Don't fear! This is good. This is what gives your hair body!

I thought for sure this feeling meant I did not wash my hair enough, and it would end up limp and sad at the end of the day. Not true!

This sensation is what gives your hair the body you want. I now have this interesting texture to my hair that was never there before. My hair has lift and is super clean. It was a miracle. I will never go back to using regular shampoo again.

Another fact is that for most of the year, I don't need any conditioner at all. Just the Goat's Milk Shampoo Bar. I have not had a problem with dry hair or static at all. The only time I used conditioner was in the winter months...and I live very far north where you have very cold, dry weather.

If you are dealing with lank, fine hair, you MUST try this. There are any number of small businesses out there making goat's milk products. I will give a link to the place I buy from so that you have a resource, but you are certainly encouraged to find your own local goat's milk producer to see if they have a similar product.

FYI, my husband also uses the shampoo bar...he has completely different hair than I do. He also loves the way his hair is manageable, but not too 'fluffy,' as he calls it. If he uses something with too much conditioner he gets ridiculous puffy hair. So, this bar is for every type of hair, not just fine hair. I just wanted to give you the benefits for fine hair sufferers, because I know what a nightmare it can be to live with such thin, fine hair.

I may not be able to sport the 80s hair I wanted back in the day, but the texture and appearance of my fine hair has been greatly improved using the Goat's Milk Shampoo Bar.

Here's my resource: Udderly Fresh in Hamilton, Montana

My favorite Shampoo Bar from Udderly Fresh is the What On Earth Shampoo Bar ($5). I think for my husband and I, a shampoo bar lasts about 5 to 6 weeks. I even cut off a sliver for traveling!

If you are a fine hair sufferer and give the bar a try, please let me know what you think in the comments.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Get Your Free Copy Starting Today!

Just a quick post to remind everyone that BLOOD MOON will be available as a free download from today (July 17, 2014) through next Monday (July 21, 2014). Here's a link right to the Amazon page:

Please spread the word. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Email Handle is Quite Popular

Many, many years ago I created a Google Mail account. I chose the simplest email address that I could think of at the time. Google Mail was still working on its old 'invitation only' model for email (Yes, I'm that old all of you millennials!), so I had no problems getting the email address I wanted.

I had been cruising along with that email address with no problems, except for all the spam that accumulates and the advertisements that clog up the system (even after I 'unsubscribe' from as much as I can). However, in the last year an unusual thing has happened: I am receiving random strangers' emails.

Here's how it started:

Last summer, I was notified via email that I would be receiving 'job search' updates to match the criteria I had selected. Trouble was, I did not create this job search for $7.50 an hour Walmart-type jobs in North Carolina on Snagajob.com. I think the name associated with this email was "Karin Gillenwater" or something similar. I ignored it.

Not more than a few hours later, I received another email from Taco Bell or McDonald's thanking me for applying for a job and that they would 'get back to me soon' about my application. I felt badly for "Karin Gillenwater" who had mistakenly given them my email address and hoped she could figure it out before she lost out on a job. There was no way for me to contact this person or let any of these sites know of the mistake as they used 'no-reply' email addresses to communicate.

I thought this would be a one-time boo-boo. I was wrong.

About 3 months ago, I received an email for another Gillenwater with the first initial 'K.' This was even sadder. It was a job offer a husband was sending to his wife! The attachment included the location of the job, salary and benefits information. Yikes!!!!  I immediately emailed the man to let him know about his mistake.

Yesterday, I received another one of these emails. This time for "Kyle Gillenwater" from Blizzard. This person had paid for an expansion pack for World of Warcraft. Inside the email was a code the guy needed to activate his expansion pack. Oh, my!

This was also from a 'no-reply' email address at Blizzard. Feeling badly for this person who spent $19.95 of his hard-earned cash for the upgrade, I went to Blizzard's website thinking I could contact someone about the error. All of the avenues wanted my 'Login ID,' which I did not have, since I was not a Blizzard customer. Eventually, I found my way to a trouble ticket area. I gave them my information and a phone number, and about 15 minutes later someone called me back. The customer service agent told me that he would find another way to contact the customer who had purchased the expansion pack.


To all the "K" Gillenwaters out there, please type your Google email very carefully! I am getting to know way too much personal information about a lot of you out there.

UPDATE 12/17/2014:  I just experienced a new mistake! This time I was contacted twice by "Speedy Cash" about a loan someone named "Kelsey Gillenwater" had taken out. The first email from early December was one thanking Kelsey for a payment of $48.50 from her bank account...it also included her loan number. I immediately emailed the company and told them they had the wrong email address.

I received another email from Speedy Cash just this morning. They were unable to debit Kelsey's bank account for the next loan payment. Oops.  I called the company this time to get the email address removed. They actually argued with me for a bit about it; then, I mentioned the word "spam" and some other things. The customer service guy put me on hold and eventually got back to me and told me my email address had been removed from that account.

Good luck, Kelsey!  Hope you can get your loan payments straightened out!

UPDATE 1/8/2015: I am having fun keeping a running tally of all the weird emails I receive. Here is a new one: football coach! Yes, I received an email this morning from a guy applying for a job as a Defensive Line Coach at Furman University in South Carolina. Attached was his resume and a very nice cover letter for the head football coach at Furman. The odd thing was, the person to whom he was sending the resume & letter did not have my last name. It was a completely different name...so I am mystified how this ended up in my email inbox.

I suppose this doesn't quite qualify as a 'mistake' in the same way as the others who were contacting a different 'K' Gillenwater. But I thought it was worthy of adding to my collection of misdirected emails.

Darryl, I hope you are successful in your job search!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Amazon Freebie Available this Thursday - July 17 2014

Last year I uploaded my book, BLOOD MOON, to Amazon. This was my first foray into self-publishing. I had this little YA book sitting on my hard drive that had been languishing in no man's land for years, and I thought, "What the heck? Why not edit it, create a cover (yes, I made that cover!) and sell it myself?"

I'm sure some people have had negative experiences with self-published books. Bad editing is probably number one on that list. My self-editing was not perfect, but I definitely found myself using what I'd learned from Samhain when editing THE NINTH CURSE: words to look out for and eradicate (I'm very partial to the word 'just' for some reason, among others), how to create immediacy in your writing (kill as many uses of the word 'was' as possible), and destroying 'head hopping' (jumping from one character's POV to the next in a single scene).

Overall, I think I did a good job of editing...at least a good enough job that I wouldn't embarrass myself. Admittedly, there are probably mistakes in that book that someone will catch. If so, you are more than welcome to let me know!  I have issued two updated editions of BLOOD MOON since it was released in May 2013 (not for grammatical corrections), and I would do it again if readers pointed me to egregious editing errors.

Cute Kitty Reading
BLOOD MOON has not sold a ton of copies. I probably will never be compensated well for the hours I spent writing it, editing it and crafting a cover. This is why I don't have any qualms about giving away copies from time to time through Amazon's KDP Select program. This Thursday, another giveaway will take place. Please feel free to share the link at the end of this post with friends and family. If you have a Kindle, why not download it? You never know when you may be stuck in an airport or at your mother-in-law's house with nothing to do! And since my book is packed with SAT vocabulary words (with footnoted definitions), you can walk away from the experience a more educated individual.

For those who may be new to my blog, here is a quick plot summary:

Werewolves are roaming Northeast High, and Savannah Black is determined to hunt them down.

When Savannah's academic rival mysteriously disappears, she enlists the aid of her two best friends, Dina and Nick, to solve the mystery. Football players with glowing eyes and razor sharp canine teeth may have fooled the faculty, but not Savannah and her friends. These brave students are determined to eradicate a clan of deadly werewolves who threaten to take over their school.

When Dina disappears right before the big Homecoming Dance, Savannah and Nick must act quickly to save her from the werewolf's curse. But will a straight-A student be able to master knives and silver bullets as easily as chemistry and calculus?

Warning! This book contains pentagrams, bonfires in the woods, and 1000 SAT words and their definitions to challenge you.

Pass along the link below to anyone who may be interested (or even mildly interested) in my book. The only thing I ask in return is that you consider writing a review (on Amazon or Good Reads)--honesty appreciated, even if it's a 1-star review.

BLOOD MOON available free on Amazon starting July 17, 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fix #3 from Stitch Fix - July 2014!

I received my newest Stitch Fix this morning. One day early! The weeks between my deliveries seemed to fly by...I could hardly wait to open it. Last fix, I was very impressed with the items Shay, my stylist, put together for me. So, I requested her services again. I was not disappointed. Let's see what they sent me, shall we?

The best part is opening the box and seeing what's inside. This time, I had a necklace waiting for me. My first accessory! I don't wear rings, bracelets or earrings, so I've been looking forward to finding out what kind of necklaces they might pick for my fix.

This fix had fewer patterns and more solids. That was okay with me. I'm a solids gal. There was one strange print peeking out from behind that teal clothing item as you can see in the photo. What is that???

Next, I opened up the envelope. I don't look at prices. What I like to do is try everything on first. Decide what I really, really like and THEN check out prices. I don't want to be scared away from an item just because of price...and sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised at the cost of some items.

I received two tops, one pair of pants, a maxi skirt and a necklace. I knew right away I would like the teal sleeveless top. The maxi skirt also appeared to be a winner...the fabric and pattern appealed to me immediately.

The pants...well, they were a very strange pattern. I'd asked for some cropped pants since I started receiving Stitch Fix in May, but this was the first pair they'd sent me. They were also a pair of pants I'd requested by name due to some other Stitch Fix blogs I had read. However, I had never seen them in a pattern before...the pairs I'd seen were bright solids like red or blue. Hm....

Time to try things on!

1) The first item I wanted to try was the Emer Diamond Print High Waisted Cropped Pant by Margaret M for $98. Remember, I did not look at the prices when I tried the pants on. My first impression was that this was a weird print. See close-up photo below. Yes, kind of a strange harlequin thing going on here. A bit clowny maybe.
However, I wanted to give them a chance.  I pulled them on. They are made of a thick stretchy material. When I first saw them, I didn't know if they would fit me...but these babies are very very expandable. They also have some tummy control in them. The fit was actually amazing. I liked the length. I'm not particularly comfortable, however, with super tight pants that show off my thigh area. I think I had flashbacks to the late 80s/early 90s when I'd try to put my hourglass figure in leggings with loose sweaters. I came out looking like a big round person with mega legs. It was not pretty. If you are built like I am, you realize that showing off the waist becomes very important. Here I am in said pants.

I mean, honestly, not bad...from the side. From the front, I think there is just too much emphasis on the width of my thighs and the crotch area (I spared you that photo). I would probably need to do some specific shopping to find a top that I'd like to wear with these pants. Very specific shopping. However, I did set them aside, just in case the 25% discount made them more interesting. MAYBE.

Note: These ended up being a definite NO after looking at the rest of my fix and realizing these pants were the most expensive thing in the box! No thank you.

2) The next item I tried on you can see in the pants photo: the Esten Button-Up Sleeveless Blouse from Collective Concepts in navy at $54. Oddly enough, my fabulous hairdresser got her first Stitch Fix last week and had this same blouse in her fix, but in a lovely coral color.
The fabric is very light. I loved the feel of it for sure. It is sheer, as you can see in the photo, but when I tried it on with a nude bra, it really wasn't as see-through as I thought it might be. Below there is a picture of me wearing the top (I apologize for the blurriness. I have a really hard time taking photos of myself with one hand!).

My stylist mentioned on my style card that she picked out this blouse to pair with the crazy clown pants. I did wear them together as you can sort of see in the previous pants picture. However, this is a free-flowing top. For me, that is a killer when you are wearing something so form-fitting as those pants. I look like a blob with chunky thighs. If this blouse had a gathered waist or a peplum or something to define my waist, the two items would've looked better together.

Luckily, when I tried this top separately with other clothing items I had, it looked really good. I didn't mind how loosely it fit because it was so comfortable and light. I also like that it unbuttons all the way down, so I could wear something under it like a tank top. My hairdresser wore a bandeau top under hers and unbuttoned the blouse a couple of extra buttons and that looked super cute.

Navy is a good color for me, so that pushed this blouse over the top and it went in the keep pile. KEEP.

3) Next I wanted to try on the Charlie Mixed Stripe Maxi Skirt by Mystree with a price tag of $68. When I took this skirt out of the box, there was instant love. The feel of the fabric, the mixed striped pattern, the black-and-gray all said 'buy me!' I have a lot of black and gray clothing items, so I knew I could pair many things with this skirt if the fit was right.
I grabbed a black t-shirt out of my dresser and put it on. When I pulled on the skirt, I realized I missed something about it...there is a side slit that goes a bit above my knee. I wasn't sure how I felt about the slit. I just bought a maxi dress that also had an unexpected slit, which grew on me. For a moment, I wished the slit wasn't there, but after walking around in the skirt and giving it a looksee in several mirrors, I was happy with the slit. It wasn't too revealing, and it added an extra surprise to the skirt. I loved it!

There is a small bit of lumpiness about the waist (please ignore the bumps and lumps in photo!), but overall I think the skirt is quite flattering. The darker color means I can get away with wearing this in the fall as well. KEEP.

4) The final clothing item to try on was the Cadance Open Back Cowl Neck Top by Lily for $34. I loved the bright teal color right out of the box. I also knew that the cowl neck and shape of the top would be flattering. I love cowl necks! The fabric is thin and light for summer, but I could definitely see layering this under a cardigan or blazer for the cooler months. It is quite long, so you can pull it down or scrunch it up to hide figure flaws. It also had this lovely cut-out mini-cowl thing in the back.

That is what I love about Stitch Fix items...the added little details and surprises that I don't find in cheaper clothing. It's always nice to think you have something interesting going on in the front and the back of your outfit! I couldn't get a good picture of the detail in back, so here's close up of the top itself from the front (a little bustier from the angle I shot the photo then when you look at it straight on--this was the best photo of the bunch). This is the item I wore right out of the box! KEEP.

5) The last item was the accessory I received: Trisha Clover Charm Layering Necklace by Pixley for $32. I love silver. This necklace would definitely be something I'd pick out and wear. Most of the time when I see someone receive a necklace in their fix, it is over $30 so the cost did not surprise me nor scare me off. I do not have a necklace of this length, so I am very very tempted to keep it. I was really hoping that I'd like all 5 items in my fix, and that the necklace would be my 'free' item. Plus, I have a $25 credit, so I could pretend the credit pretty much paid for the necklace...but the failure of the clown pants meant no 25% discount. Argh! 

Here's a picture of me wearing it with my black t-shirt.
It was incredibly hard to get a good photo of the necklace without blocking out my whole face...sorry!

This is a tough call. I tend to buy the cheapest of the cheap costume jewelry...throwing items out after a few years when they break, discolor or go out of style. It is very tempting to buy something of better quality that I know I would wear a lot. I'm going to think about it for awhile and post an update when I make my final decision. MAYBE.

That's it, people. My July Fix. LOVED IT! This is such a fun experience. I never go shopping this often, so I feel like I am giving my wardrobe a major overhaul. With the addition of these new pieces, I have been weeding out the loser items. You know what I'm talking about...those items in your closet that you hold onto for years but never wear. Either because you want to lose weight or need to buy something to wear with it or maybe you are keeping it because you used to love it. I've got a number of those things...and with the addition of Stitch Fix pieces, those useless items are going into the donation pile.

If you are thinking about signing up for Stitch Fix, feel free to use my referral link (shameless plug). I will get a $25 credit when you receive your first fix. Just want to be open and honest!

I want to try Stitch Fix!

Come back for a visit in August to see my next fix. Or check out my previous fixes here:

Stitch Fix #1 - May 2014
Stitch Fix #2 - June 2014

UPDATE:  I checked out this morning (7/8) and decided to send back the pants and the necklace. Although I loved the necklace, it wasn't special enough for me to buy it. Hoping they send me something more unique in a future fix. Also, I corrected the price of the Cadance Open Back Cowl Neck Top by Lily in my post. The checkout page had the price listed as $34 NOT the $44 that had been listed in my box receipt. So that was a bonus!  I spent $131 after a $25 credit was applied. Not bad!