My Henna Adventure (Follow-up)

As the Henna for Hair girls suggested, after three washes and going swimming, my color did fade to a warm strawberry blonde.

I do like this color, however, I still have as much henna left as I used the first time, so I might have to go even redder sometime this summer. What can I say? I got a taste and I’m craving more. Thankfully, henna is actually good for my hair so I won’t feel bad mixing up the paste again in a week or so!

My Henna Adventure (Part II)

I let my henna sit for a total of 4.75 hours. As I am prone to do, I got impatient, so I did some research on what the most-anticipated “dye release” looks like. I found this page, a sister of the very informative Henna for Hair I used to mix my henna. I never saw the actual dye “release” as that page says, but in all honesty, I think I waited too long.

After your henna releases dye, it is in contact with oxygen (unless you have a way to inert the paste).  If oxygen combines with the dye, it won’t bind with the keratin in your skin, and you’ll get a poor stain.  This is “demise“, when henna stains poorly because you have waited too long to use it. 

I’m pretty sure that’s what my dye did, because it looked like this:

 I think I never saw the dye because I stirred it too much, but it was also really hot that day so I’m not sure if my dye was as potent as it could have been, but because I’m me, I went ahead with the dyeing procedure.
First, I mixed the henna paste with a moisturizing conditioner, using three times as much conditioner as henna paste as per Kris’s suggestion which used up about half of the paste and ended up looking like this:
Next I put the paste all over my head. Oh yes. 
And then I saran-wrapped my head. 
 After an hour of letting this soak in, I got in the shower and rinsed it all away. It was then I decided to nix the chamomile next time, because the smell was getting to be too much and the tea leaves were very difficult to rinse out of my hair. 
When it dried, my hair looked like this: 
I liked it at first, but no one in my family could tell the difference. My mom said she could a bit, but I’m pretty sure she was lying. It’s a REALLY pretty color, but like I said, I had half of my henna paste left and a new penchant for natural hair dyeing. So I repeated the entire process, using the same technique, leaving it in for about an hour and a half this time, however. 
Now, in bright fluorescent lighting, I’m a regular carrot-top!
Don’t worry, it doesn’t look that bright all the time. It is, however, definitely strawberry blonde! I’m not sure if it will rinse out any, many Henna for Hair writers suggested it did wear off some during the first few washes, but I washed mine this morning and it hasn’t seemed to. I’m excited to be a redhead for summer!

My Henna Adventure (Part I)

As I mentioned in my last Friday Five, I am going to henna my hair. My reasons are three-fold:

1) Recently, my hair has been drier and less lustrous than I remember it, and it’s been short for so long that I think this change may have crept up on me because I lacked the length to really notice it. When my hair was long, I never blow-dried it and rarely straightened it, but when it was short it required much more fuss so it doesn’t flip out funky, and it’s my belief that all of this damage compounded and ruined my once-beautiful hair. Now that I want to grow my hair long again it’s come to my attention my hair needs revitalization. I’ve read in several forums that henna is an excellent conditioner and promises to make my hair glossy and lustrous again.

2) My hair, because it has so many tones, is always in-between a hair color. Is it brunette? Is it blonde? Is it strawberry? The world will never know, because it only takes subtle lighting changes for my hair to appear a different color. I keep having people ask me why I ‘went blonde’ after they see my driver’s license, because the photo makes my hair appear almost black. This is obnoxious.

3) I just have always wanted more red in my hair. I’ll admit, I’m a little bit scared because I know natural redheads can be sensitive about unnatural redheads, and I don’t want to be that girl, but I’ve resolved that if the color does come out very red that I will just be up-front about my henna usage, and proclaim that it’s more for the conditioning benefits than the color.

I did a lot of extensive internet research after deciding I want to henna my hair and found a plethora of henna-hair-dyeing information at this site, aptly named Henna for Hair.

The most useful information I found on this site was all of the reader-submitted mixes (scroll down) and Fia’s page. Fia provides a recipe for a ‘henna gloss’ which is supposed to subtly tint hair and deep condition.

Fia’s Henna gloss – for minimal color change and deep conditioning
– 2-3 tablespoons henna powder
– Enough lemon/lime juice to mix a smooth paste
– Your favorite conditioner or plain, unsweetened yoghurt
Mix the henna powder with lemon/lime juice to a smooth paste and let this stand until you see dye release. Mix the henna paste with either your favorite conditioner or plain yoghurt. Apply to dry or damp hair and leave on for as long as you wish. Rinse as you’d rinse out a regular conditioner.

This one is easy to apply and rinse, as it’s basically conditioner or yoghurt with just a hint of henna dye in it. It’s good as either a color refresher in between regular henna applications or if you only wish to have a very subtle color change. It will give reddish hints on blonde and light brown hair. You may see some reddish highlights on medium brown, but probably not too much. On dark brown/black hair you’ll only get the conditioning benefits from the conditioner/henna.

Luckily for me, making your own henna mix is not an exact science. On other pages, I found that the color of henna can be influenced by other natural additives, like cassia or chamomile, to make the end result more blonde. 

So, today I went down to a local herb store and picked up 4 oz of henna (roughly 100 grams).

It’s a lovely green color.

Then I stopped by the grocery store and picked up some cheap chamomile tea.

Versana sounds kinda Indian, so that means it must be good, right?

In a bowl, I mixed 3 1/2 tablespoons of the henna (I’d like a little more than a subtle color change), 4 teabags of chamomile and enough lemon juice to form a smooth paste. The end result looked something like goat turd. I covered it and set it outside in the sun for and hour and a half then realized it was a bad idea, because all of the lemon juice was evaporating. After I added more lemon juice, it looked something like this:

Goat turd.

Now it’s sitting, covered, in my kitchen, where it will probably stay until tomorrow. I am awful at waiting, so I decided to write this blog post. More tomorrow.

Friday Five: Things I Want To Do This Summer

Okay, so my fun vacation’s over, work doesn’t start until June,  and I have nothing to do between then and now. It’s really quite sad. I haven’t posted at all this week, and that’s because when I have nothing to do I become a grade-A lazy-ass. No joke. I sit here at home, doing nothing, thinking about the things I want to do, not getting out and doing them because “it’s too hot,” “it’s not worth the gas,” or some other equally lame excuse. I did, however, check out Wifey from the local library yesterday and as soon as I finish my current read, a Joyce Carol Oates book, I plan to devour it. Maybe I’ll even write a book review about each one of these books, just to keep my mind sharp. Anyways, I discovered that blogging about the books I want to read is keeping me semi-accountable, so I thought it’d be a good idea to blog about the things I want to do as well, so I’ll actually get off my ass and do them.

5) Buy a new cell phone.


My cell phones have always been sub-par, and that’s putting it gently. I had my first phone, a Nokia brick, for 3 years, and then I bought my current phone, a cheap Motorola Razr knockoff, if it’s possible to have knockoffs within the same brand. The reason I’ve always had crap-tastic phones is because my mom decided early on that cell phone plans were not for us. We had Tracfone (minute-by-minute prepaid), then I got annoyed and jumped to Straighttalk (unlimited prepaid), and now we’re all scattered across the board and I’m considering switching to Virgin Mobile so I can actually use the unlimited data I’m paying for. I could rant for forever about how much the Straighttalk phones suck, but I won’t. I like Virgin Mobile’s phone selection because it’s closer to what big-name providers like Sprint and T-mobile offer. I have yet to decide on a phone, it’s difficult because in the back of my mind I know that what I’m really shooting for is an iPhone.

4) Take my younger sister out for sushi.


After I raved to my little sister about eating sushi with my cousin in DC, she admitted to me that she wanted to try it. This is a huge step for us, because we were raised in a household of bland tastes. My dad appreciates more exotic flavors, but he was rarely the dinnertime cook. Before becoming more health-conscious, my mom was known on my dad’s side of the family for being the queen of casseroles. Mango is too exotic for her to handle. When I took her to an awesome Thai hole-in-the-wall in my college town she complained the place was too “sketchy.” So, now, my timid sister admitting she wants to sample sushi is a huge step in culinary awakening, and I want to foster that as much as possible even if she does only start out with a Cali roll. Plus, I haven’t tried any sushi places in my hometown area yet (most of them are kind of expensive) and I’m really excited to have an excuse.

3) Sew a skirt. 


While visiting my cousin I got to spend some time in Old Town Alexandria, an adorable district right over the water, and I stumbled into a vintage clothing store. There, I purchased a really cute rose-print skirt from the seventies for about $20, and upon close examination later that day I decided it had been handmade, and pretty simply, too. I’ve never been much of a seamstress — for some reason I just can’t handle a sewing machine very well — but I’m pretty good at designing patterns that work well and I’d like the opportunity to practice. So, sooner or later I’m going to trot down to Hancock fabrics, pick out a pretty print and sew myself a flouncy skirt.

2) Henna-rinse my hair.


My hair has always been an awesome dirty blonde with natural highlights that are almost platinum and and underside that is almost brunette, so I’ve always been wary of dying my hair. Recently I’ve started noticing some really awesome strawberry tones as well, and so I started looking into henna as a conditioner and a way to bring the strawberry out of my strawberry blonde. I’m not going for Lucille Ball red, but I’ve found several recipes for a henna rinse or gloss that will only tint my hair instead of full-on dye it, so this summer I plan to get a girlfriend and some henna and test it out!

1) Get a manicure.


 Never before in my life have I gotten a manicure. I guess it’s not that unusual, especially since I bite my nails, but I would really like to have french tips at least once in my life. Before the end of summer I’m going to try and let my nails grow just a bit and, if I can do that, I’ll reward myself with a $20 mani.

Friday Five: Books I Want to Read this Summer

Before college, I was an avid reader. During my first year of college I think I may have read one book for fun, and it wasn’t a very long book, either.  I just know my soul shriveled a little as a result, so, this summer I’m going to hit up my local library (and Amazon, because my local library is NOT the best around) and read until I’ve soothed my aching mind. Here’s the list of my top five most anticipated reads:

5) In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan


If you’ve read more than two of my blog posts, you’ve probably come across some reference to Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. We read it in my Comp II class and I loved it. Pollan is a wonderful journalist (I had outbursts in class because I was so thrilled by the way he handled his subject matter) and he writes about one of my favorite subjects in the world. In my mind, food could probably only be eclipsed by music. I can’t imagine that a world exists in which I would hate this book.

4) Naked by David Sedaris


Me Talk Pretty One Day was a book of much acclaim while I was in high school, and although I’ve never read it, I’m excited to read this book because I’ve heard it’s better. I love books which are collections of essays because I don’t swallow them whole, so hopefully this one will last me at least a week.

3) Corked: A Memoir by Kathryn Borel


I came across this book in the public library in my college town the day I went back to return my books for the semester. Unfortunately, it’s not in my hometown library, but I really want to read this book because it’s about how wine helped this woman develop her relationship with her father, an experience to which I can relate (see my April post entitled A Couple Scholarship Essays).

2) Wifey by Judy Blume


Over the past few days I’ve been reading Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, which is odd for me because I never actually read much Judy Blume as a kid. I read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, but beyond that I didn’t touch on much. It was in this book that I first heard Judy Blume wrote books for adults, books that are horrifically raunchy and incredibly entertaining (such as this one), and to me that just sounds like the perfect poolside read.

1) Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us by Joel Palca, Flora Lichtman


 I came across this book on NPR (apparently the writers are NPR journalists, so they get to have their book spotlighted. Jealous.) and it sounds right up my alley. I’ve been really big into the popular adult nonfiction books lately (Omnivore’s Dilemma, Switch, Blink, etc.), so I am really excited to delve into this one. The only problem will be getting my hands on it because it is so new!

The Future Dreamed of in the Fifties is Nigh

Very few people in Western society deal directly with the animals their food comes from. At the dinner table a few days ago, my family and I were discussing the benefits of raising your own cattle. My dad said he would really like to get a heifer and raise it to eat, just because he can, and the suggestion left my fourteen-year-old sister appalled. “But what if we name it?” she asked, wide-eyed.

If there’s one thing I took away from Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma it was how far removed our society is from the food we eat. Because my generation has grown up with it, we accept this as the way things are. I remember being 12 and absolutely shell-shocked when my father killed a rooster and cooked it for dinner. I remember abhorring the thought of killing a living thing and eating it, an ideology Michael Pollan acknowledges as commonplace in America but inherently absurd. So many people feel this way and don’t even realize it. Due to recent advances in science, however, this ideology is about to become a hot topic.

We’ve all heard it’s coming down the pipe, but a recent NPR article claims that before too long ‘in-vitro meat’ could be available in a grocery store near you.

It sounds so sci-fi but it’s incredibly real and it’s going to wreak all sorts of havoc on our already unstable Western diet. There will be those who embrace it happily for its benefits — feeding more people sustainably with less resources and less space, ending the animal abuse which currently brings us cheap meat — and there will be those who are stalwartly against it — some because of their morals, and some who are just plain stubborn.

Personally, I’m not sure how I feel. One scientist said in the article, “‘This isn’t synthetic. It’s organic. It’s meat. It’s two meat cells growing to become more meat cells.'” That’s all fine and dandy, but what about the flavor? The article claims “there will be no taste differential,” but as a food lover I know that can’t be true, simply because there are already “taste differentials” in traditionally grown meat cells. Grass-fed meat has a different taste than grain-fed meat, sirloin steak has a different taste than ribs, and you damned well better believe Angus beef has a different taste than Kobe. This is a whole new industry they’re opening up. I can see the packaging now: “100% imitation grass-fed Angus beef!” Will meat from real animals become a luxury, destined for the kitchens of the rich and famous?

The process of making laboratory meat, although it is definitely happening, is far from mass-production. Currently scientists zap the muscle cells with electricity to stimulate growth and keep them from atrophying, a process that would be very costly on a large scale. But if the problem is in sight, the solution isn’t far off. Brace yourselves, we’re in for a wild ride.

New Design

So this morning I was killing time and I decided to change up my blog a bit. The length of the title has always bugged me as has my use of someone else’s photo for my background. The photograph I picked for my current background I’m pretty proud of — I took it with the Rebel during the Antiques Mall photo shoot. Plus, I think the pale blue just looks awesome with the B&W. Don’t hesitate to provide feedback, but if you don’t like it don’t expect me to change it back. What can I say? I happen to think it’s adorable. I know you’re all afraid that the goofy posts about Star Wars will go away because now my blog looks all sophisticate, but don’t worry, a girl can be indie and sexy while retaining her inner nerd! 


Today is the first day since I arrived home that I have ventured out into my community. Moving back Friday was hell, so yesterday I slept and unpacked, and today I got up early and went to church. I have always had a very strange relationship with my church. Personally, I’m not all that religious, but I was raised to be and my church has become something like my second home — the time I have spent in it potentially rivals that of my schools combined. It’s been a place for food, a place for learning, a place for working, and a place for community. Even though I have yet to decide upon a theology, I know I will always feel comfortable in that church.

While I was sitting in church, I thought I saw someone who resembled my eighth grade math teacher, a woman who was very prominent in my church and had taught my Sunday School class for a year, and then I remembered. It couldn’t have been her, because in my absence, she had lost a battle with cancer in her mouth and had passed away. I nearly cried right there in church because I couldn’t believe it had slipped my mind. I never realized how used I was to seeing her there in the front rows of the church and I couldn’t believe how much of an empty space she left. She seemed to have been always there in the background of my church community and now she was gone. I had heard about her death over Facebook, and my mom had sent me an email, but it had never quite sunk in until I noticed her absence in church this morning. I still can’t quite believe that she won’t ever be there again.

Maybe this is why young people feel such an urge to separate themselves from the societies they grew up in, a society that is growing old and ill and passing away, one person at a time. Young people are ready to start fresh, new lives, surrounded by exploration and discovery and the miracle of birth and they hardly have the strength to deal with the consequences of the passage of time. I always used to look down upon those who stayed in their sheltered communities of childhood, but I guess the stronger person would be the one who can build a new life for themselves surrounded by their aging childhood society. That isn’t to say some don’t stick around their hometowns out of laziness, but those who live at home with their parents until middle age are not the same as those nearly mythological upstanding youths who are able to thrive in their hometowns as adults. Those are the strong young people I am talking about.

My father’s mother and father have lived next door to us since I was about twelve, which turned my teenage years into a slightly less obnoxious small-town version of Everybody Loves Raymond. My senior year of high school, my grandfather began having serious health complications related to Parkinson’s, complications that have grown so serious we are not certain how much time he has left. Recently I noticed my cousins (who are, on average, about a decade older than I ) have been keeping a safe distance from the entire situation. I’m not calling them out because I’ve been doing the exact same thing. What can I say? I’ve been very supportive of my parents, but I’m not emotionally equipped to deal with this situation directly. I have so much to think about concerning my future that I am just not strong enough to handle my grandfather’s potential passing.

This running-away from our families to start a new life is a relatively new Western introduction. Children used to have to stay close to their families because very few of them could afford to move elsewhere, and even if they could, their families needed them to stick around. It was a much different atmosphere. Family units stuck together. Now they are fractured all over the world. When things get hairy back home we have so many options available to us to comfort from afar. We can fly to a funeral and be sleeping in our own beds with relative peace of mind within a week’s span. We can discuss our parents’ finances with our siblings on the phone during the day, then kick back at night in our favorite coffee houses or bars to relieve the stress. Would we be able to cope half as well if we were to return one day and discover a favorite relative (or Sunday School teacher) has passed away? Or if we were to receive a letter bearing news of a death but were unable to visit and grieve with our family? What if we had to sit there and watch while a grandfather slowly lost control of his mental faculties? I doubt that when faced with that sort of emotional stress I would be strong enough to look forward to my new life.

Thank God for distance. I almost wish I were strong enough to be here for my family and also work to build my own future family, but then I realize that I should feel blessed to be able to move and start from scratch. Family is important to me, but it’s not my job right now. Right now, my job is to work hard so I can have children one day who I can teach these life lessons my grandfather (and my late Sunday School teacher) are indirectly teaching me right now.

Friday Five: Photography Class

Last semester I was coerced into taking a class called Introduction to Visual Communications for News which was superfluous to my degree but I didn’t know that until it was too late. I’m still moderately bitter about it. I am not, nor will I ever be, interested or involved in filming news broadcasts, which is what the entire first half of the class covered. I hate pointing a camera at people I don’t know in the first place and it only exacerbates the situation when it’s a video camera. I got yelled at and kicked out of places (uncalled for because I wasn’t even filming what they thought I was filming), and news stories that work well with video are few and far between when you don’t know the area. Not to mention the professor was terrible at explaining technical aspects of the camera so I still have no clue how to manually focus a camcorder.

The second half of the class, however, was devoted to photography, which I am generally okay with. I’ve always recognized photography as an art (although in my opinion it takes much less skill than traditional fine art), but this class taught me to appreciate photojournalists. It’s as if you’re an artist whose only medium is constantly and uncontrollably changing, and in order to produce a work you have to capture it in just the right moment. Photogs, listen up, ’cause you’ve finally gained my respect. Use it wisely.

For this Friday Five I’m sharing with you my top five favorite photos that I’ve taken because of this class, because frankly I only got 5 hours of sleep last night and I was evicted from my dorm this morning and I’m about to drive 5 hours home. It’s a tough life, but these photos make me smile. Enjoy!

1) This is a photo of my friend Renee during an “environmental portrait” assignment photo shoot. Environmental portraits are like what you’d see in magazines when a person is spotlighted — they generally provide information about the subject. Renee is such a little kid at heart and wants to be an elementary school teacher, so we thought it’d be fun if she was chilling with a coloring book, especially if it was Spongebob.

2) This photo was for an assignment that taught us to utilize f-stop and shutter speed to get different depths of field. I really like it because it was impromptu — I saw the flowers and I started snapping pictures.

3) This week I got to check out the camera for an entire day, so I accidentally-on-purpose took the camera to work with me so I could snap some shots of my favorite kiddos. This little girl was moving too fast for me to focus entirely but the overall effect is so typical of a kid!

4) This line-up of cars just makes me smile. I love classic muscle cars and the coloring works so well. This picture is for the same depth of field assignment, so I apologize for all the foreground interest photos, but… so good. This photo is my current desktop background.

5) For my final project I got my friends Melissa and Cody to join me at our local Antique Mall so they can be hilarious while I snapped photos. This is one of the rare cute moments between the two of them — usually they are trying to lick each other or pretending to hit the other one with whatever heavy objects are lying around. I laughed so much while working on this assignment. I was so thrilled, though, to capture this moment, and so well, if I do say so myself!

The Psychological Consequences of Moving

I spent most of my waking hours yesterday packing up my dorm, a process which left me hungry, tired, and rather nihilistic. By the end of the day I had two boxes full of things to donate to Goodwill, but I was screaming to just get rid of it all. I’ve developed a bad habit of throwing unwanted objects in a drawer and forgetting about them or holding on to a pair of shoes I’ve never worn solely because they’re my only pair of dressy brown sandals. Yesterday I finally realized — all those times I claimed to be a non-materialistic person, someone who doesn’t associate much meaning with objects, someone who could travel the world with only a backpack of belongings, I lied.

I didn’t think I was lying at the time; I genuinely believed I was that person, but now I know I’m not. I have more clothes than could fit into a single large suitcase yet every morning I feel as if I have nothing to wear. I’m antsy all day if I don’t get the chance to wash, blow dry, and straighten my hair, and don’t even get me started on my excessively large collection of coffee mugs. I’d be lost without my guitar and my laptop and I definitely couldn’t survive without a make-up mirror. How did I become this person?

This pack rat habit of mine can be traced to my childhood when I would hoard stuffed animals like mad. My mom eventually tired of it and boxed up all but ten, and if I ever wanted one in storage I had to choose another to swap with it. I still have a box full of stuffed animals in the attic back home that have too much sentimental meaning for me to part with.

Why do I stockpile all of this stuff? It generally makes me unhappy when I have to sort through it, and if I put it in a box in my closet I’ll probably never take it out again. I’m wondering if I should just start dating things with the last time I used them, and if I don’t use an object in over six months I toss it. It blows my mind that there’s a whole industry devoted to holding people’s things so they don’t have to look at them. Storage units can get pretty pricey if you want A/C, and they can be found everywhere, especially in a college town. I’m getting one myself to hold all the things I won’t need over the summer but are essential to dorm life.

I guess I can understand my own attachment to things. Things are relatively reliable, unlike many people. That’s part of the reason I’m so hesitant to give personalized gifts to my romantic interests, because who wants the guilt of deciding to toss out or hold on to a pair of underwear that says “Property of Loryn” long after the relationship has ended? (Not as if I would ever do such a tacky thing, but you get my point.) It’s sad, but sometimes things last longer than relationships, or even friendships. There’s a commonplace floating around Facebook (I think it’s from a commercial) that claims bras are like good friends: supportive, hard to find, etc. which gives me hope about the materialistic values our society upholds. Sometimes I think our society is becoming too commercial, but if a company is comparing their product to a good friend, we must still be alright.

I know I won’t ever go so far as to choose possession of an object over a friendship, but the things I hold onto do weigh me down. This morning, I took my boxes full of Tupperware, kitchen items, shoes, and clothing to Goodwill and left them with a bored young man at the drop off doors. I felt so free I rolled my windows down and blared the radio all the way home. Sure, it’s great to know someone else will benefit from my unused things, but really, the best part of dropping off that box was simply knowing those things were out of my hands and couldn’t anchor me down anymore.