Babies, Black Eyes, and Bobs

Hello!

I know, another week+ long blogging hiatus has occurred. My only defense is that I was pretty much permanently camped out at my parents’ house the entire time my sister and niece were visiting, which meant zero access to my desktop, which is where I edit all my DSLR photos.

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The good news there, however, is that this means I actually took a lot of REAL photos over the past week! Which really worked out since, as you already know, Mia is pretty much the best thing to take pictures of ever.

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I rest my case.

Although, I do have to admit now that I have an iPhone 6, my phone photo game has stepped up significantly anyway. Guess that means my excuse really doesn’t fly, ahaha.

So, as tends to happen when life is, well, being lived, lots of stuff happened over the past week. First and most importantly, as you already know,  Jen and Mia came up for a visit. This meant lots of time spent hanging with my family, listening to baby babble (it’s the bessssst!), and emotionally reverting to my sixteen-year-old self. (Oh, and if you were wondering, Mia LOVED the Elsa doll I got her!)

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Also, I managed to slam my eye socket into the corner of a chair and give myself a black eye.

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I actually think it makes a much better story if I just say that Mia punched me in the face, so let’s pretend that’s what happened. You know, instead of me getting into fisticuffs with an inanimate object, mmkay?

All kidding aside, it actually was pretty awful. I’ll spare you some of the much uglier, nastier pictures I took, but suffice it to say that my whole eye was hugely swollen for a couple of days, and the bruise on my eyelid is just finally starting to lighten up now. (Thankfully, it just kinda looks like I’m wearing purple eyeshadow, and also that I must be reeeeeeeeally tired… in one eye.) I definitely realize how lucky I am not to have damaged my actual eye or vision though, especially given the $4K I spent on LASIK not too long ago.

Aaaaanyway, self-inflicted injuries aside, we all tried to cram in lots of hometown nostalgia for my sister while she was here, but I couldn’t let her leave without introducing her to something new, too. Specifically, my absolutely wonderful hair stylist, Linh at Be Scene Studios. I booked her an appointment so Linh and I could both try to convince her to do something fun and fashionable with her hair. And the result of our persuasive effort?

A fabulous, chic bob — Linh’s specialty! And it looks even better in person, and is nice and low-maintenance for someone who doesn’t even own a blowdryer… like Jen.

Sadly, though, ultimately my sister and my beautiful niece did have to return home. How did I soften the blow of their departure?

Why, by volunteering to groom Sully from Monsters, Inc, of course.

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Er, I mean, by hunting down a unicorn and cutting off its tail.

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Jk, jk. Obviously, I went ahead and let my own hair go under the knife, as it were. Yes, merely days after Jen got her rad new ‘do, I headed straight back to Be Scene for some new locks of my own. I guess seeing my sister’s stylin’ new haircut just made me crave one too badly to wait!

For good measure, here are a few final pics to remember my (faded) hair as it once was:

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The during:

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And, the after:

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As it turns out, it is actually really easy being green!

It’s funny, every time I’ve gone to see Linh in the past, I’ve always been that girl, all “Keep the length! Not too much off the bottom!” even though I was more than game for pretty much any color on the rainbow spectrum. Also, it’s a little weird that I was so stubborn about the length for so long, since it’s not like my hair has never been short, right? I mean, my hair’s been everything from pixie-short blonde to super-long rainbow. Oh well, at least I finally got to a place where I was willing to shed more than an inch or two, ’cause I’m loving it!

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Plus, this color, man. It’s beautiful! It’s like a super vibrant emerald green, and I am having SO much fun with it! We’ll have to see how it ends up fading (hopefully it’ll still be pretty), but for now it is so bright, so flouncy, and it actually shimmers in the right light! I’m thinking… Elphaba for Halloween?

Wellps, that about catches us up with what’s been a-going on over the past week or so. While camping at my parents’ place, I did get to do a lot of fun cooking, including a sous vide dinner with Sean that I actually managed to document in photos for once! So keep an (unbruised, unblackened) eye out for that, amongst other things, and I’ll see you on the flip side!

My Little Pony: Hair Dye is Magic

First things first, let’s all remind ourselves that I’m actually a small child inside. Which means that not only should you not judge me for the alarming number of stuffed animals that still reside on my bed, it should also come as absolutely NO surprise to you that I have watched every episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic on Netflix. Now, not only is this show adorable and home to the catchiest damn songs on the entire planet, I maintain that it’s also totally legitimate viewing material for adults because of all the Easter Eggs they slip in on a regular basis that kids could not possibly be meant to get.

I mean, HELLO, there is a DOCTOR WHO PONY. I rest my case.

Anywho(oves), I bring this up because yesterday I went to see the ultimate master of all things hair color, Linh at Be Scene Studios, and he transformed my formerly faded mermaid-hair into something about 20% cooler

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Just call me Unicorn Gretchen.

Now, I know I already walked you through what it’s like dyeing my own hair, but I thought it might also be interesting for those of you who are less inclined to play with fire bleach to see what it’s like for a professional to get his hands on my hair (literally!). I actually had planned on just taking some progress pics throughout the dyeing process to show you, but as luck would have it, Linh had a photographer visiting the salon yesterday, so I convinced him to snap a few shots!

I think you all know how this story begins. BRING ON THE BLEACH!

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Linh started by bleaching my roots, as those had a good 1/4-inch or so of dark regrowth, and then sat me under a dryer to torture me help the bleach process faster.

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After a while (I’m not sure how long it was exactly), I emerged from underneath the dryer and Linh’s beautiful fairy assistant Ara gave me a “silk bath” (I *think* that’s what they called it?) to help take out the rest of the green color in my hair. Basically, she mixed some bleach with clarifying shampoo to help remove my color in a much more gentler way than straight-up bleaching over it… because that part of my hair is already super bleached. Unfortunately, as it turns out, green is a damn hard color to remove, so all I really ended up with was white-blonde roots and mint green lengths.

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I was pretty paranoid about not damaging my ends any more than we had to, so we went just went with it, drying my hair to an almost-dry-but-not-quite level of dampness. Then we crossed our fingers and hoped that the colors Linh chose for my new ‘do would be bold enough and bright enough to be unaffected by the green…

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… and off he went!

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Linh crafted a colorful cocktail of purple, blue, turquoise, magenta, and pink, painting each color onto different pieces of my hair, using foil to keep colors from bleeding onto one another.

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And I waited for a liiiiitle while longer until, at last, after one final rinse, some conditioner (oh, blessed conditioner!), and Ara’s awesome styling, I was reborn with beautiful rainbow hair:

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Ta-da! I feel like a beautiful unicorn and I am so, so happy with deciding to go for multiple colors this time around. Of course, this being my very first time with multicolored hair, I have absolutely no idea what subsequent washes might do to the color distribution and how it fades, and my trick of making my color last by putting some hair dye into my conditioner won’t really work since, well, you know. But, given how pretty the colors all look together right now, I have no doubt that they’ll continue to look pretty even if they mix and match and fade together even more.

Another successful adventure in hairdom, I’d say! And my new rainbow hair will hopefully go pretty perfectly with another new something that I’m planning on getting today… So stay tuned for that, have an awesome weekend, and see you on the flipside!

Making Progress, Seeing Results (Weigh-in)

All right y’all, I’m cutting straight to the chase today. Allow me to PROUDLY present the following:

(Re)Starting Weight: 236.6 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 228.7
This Weigh-in: 223.7 lbs
Difference: -5.0 lbs!

Ta-daaaaaaa!! Guess all of that stress not-eating over Passport to Mosaic is finally working in my favor! Ahahaha. No, I kid, I kid, I have really been working on changing my eating habits this week, and am working hard at getting back into the swing of things. I guess this is proof that it’s working! (Of course, the lack of french fries in my current Lenten diet may also have something to do with it…)

I’ve officially re-lost the weight gained from my weeks in San Francisco and Macon, and then some! I am a very happy camper, and it’s true what they say, seeing results is honestly the best motivator in keeping my spirits up and goals in mind. FIVE pounds, bitches!

I’m hoping that at this point, my weight loss is starting to manifest itself with physical results too. I’ve mentioned before that because of my body shape — being tall and big-footed and large-framed and whatnot — weight loss can be very difficult to discern in tangible ways until I’ve lost a really significant amount. It often feels like five, even ten pounds here or there hardly makes a difference in how I look, which can be discouraging.

Luckily, I’ve got this totally awesome five pound loss to keep pushing me forward! And whether it’s from the power of suggestion or it’s my body finally catching up to the poundage I’ve tossed thus far, I do think my pants were a little looser this morning. 😉

And in other news…

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Say hello to my new hair color!

I feel like a beautiful mermaid, all thanks to my main man Linh at Be Scene Hair Studio. It seriously takes on a different shade in every light, and I loveloveLOVE it!

Man, every time I dye my hair, I love it so much that I swear I’m never going to another color. “I’ve gone purple and I’m never going back!” “Viva la pink forever!” And then I inevitably change it because it fades and I’m fickle like that and I fall EVEN more in love with the next one! I’m gonna have to have a poll once I’ve finished going through the rainbow so you guys can help me pick the one that looks best, hahaha.

Anyway, that’s all for today, folks! Have a great weekend, and think positive, happy thoughts for me as Passport kicks off on Sunday! I’ll see you when it’s over — provided I’m still alive, ‘course.

Caring for Brightly Colored Hair

Since I made the decision to turn my hair into a kaleidoscope (and since I’m pretty sure I’m never going back, hehe), I thought it might be informative to go through the process of what it’s like to achieve and then maintain my color. Because, unlike my weight loss, this is something I’ve actually had quite a bit of success at maintaining. Ba-doom ching!

So, first things first. In order to actually achieve the vibrant purple that I’ve come to love and adore (as well as the various streaks of pink and blue and whatnot that were in my hair before I went ALL in), as most of you can probably guess, I had to bleach my hair.

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Btw, the guy drinking Fireball in the background is Linh from Be Scene Hair Studio in Bethesda, and he is the BEST.

My hair is naturally a very dark brown, so bleaching does take some time, but I am pretty lucky in that color also lifts fairly well from my hair. It’s not the most fun process (strong bleach can cause some irritation to your scalp) but, well, you see the results! And once my hair is bleached, it’s like an open book, ready to be written…

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…in GORGEOUS PURPLE INK! I went with a darker, blue-ish purple the first time (although it actually looks darker in the photos above than it was IRL) and I absolutely loooooved it. I was determined to make it last as long and as vibrantly as possible, so I took all of Linh & his assistants’ tips on how to preserve my color to heart. Here is basically what it comes down to:

1. Wash your hair as infrequently as possible.

For me, this pretty much meant twice a week, which you’d think would leave me gross and greasy more (I used to be a daily hair washer!), but I was surprised at how quickly my hair adapted. My hair is BONE straight, so it used to show its greasiness really easily, but I think it “helped” that bleaching did leave my hair drier than it initially was. So, in turn, it does take longer to look greased up now, plus your scalp and your hair really DOES adapt after a while of not washing every day — but I know the transition period is tough for some people to take. The longest I’ve managed to make it between washes thus far is exactly one week: Saturday to Saturday. Take it from me, dry shampoo is the best friend you’ll ever have!

2. Rinse and wash your hair in the coldest water you can handle.

Unfortunately, this does suck pretty much all of the joy out of washing your hair, because it becomes a task instead of just a routine part of your shower. My strategy is to start the shower cold, rinse my hair really quickly, and then turn the water to warm and keep my hair out of the stream while I shampoo it. Then I turn the knob back to cold to rinse out the shampoo, and warm it up again while I’m conditioning. I do the rest of my shower business while I’m letting the conditioner set, then finally turn it back to cold for the final rinse. It’s a bit of a dance, but it’s worked out pretty well for me so far! On days that I’m not washing my hair, I just tie it in a big top knot and it stays pretty much out of the way while I shower.

3. Use purple shampoo and conditioner.

Purple shampoo is actually formulated for people with blonde hair to help maintain silver/ashy tones (instead of golden/warm), but the purple pigment obviously works well if you hair is, you know, purple. (I use Clairol Shimmer Lights.) I use the purple conditioner on my entire head (yes, including my roots), and then also put additional (regular) conditioner on my ends.

Armed with that strategy, I managed to maintain my violet locks for almost two months!

Purple Fade Collage

I did experience a little bit of fade with every wash, of course, and while fortunately my hair actually faded quite prettily (I think!), it ultimately ended up like this:

Faded Purple Collage

Which, to me, meant time for a refresh! So back to Linh I went, asking for a bit of a warmer purple this time around. It bears nothing that he did NOT re-bleach my entire head, just my roots that had grown in. And so, on January 14th, I walked back out of the salon like this:

Purple Round 2 Collage

I’ve only washed my hair twice since (hahaha, I can actually feel how icked out some of you are at the thought of that) and, as evidenced by the following pictures taken last week and at my Yelp event last night, not too much has changed since… other than the fact that it looks like a different color in every photo I take. Which, let’s be honest, I kind of love anyway:

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Now, since I brought up dry shampoos and how essential they are for maintaining color — not just bright colors, either! If you color your hair at all and want to maintain it, you should definitely NOT be washing it every day — I figured I’d give you the skinny on the ones I’ve tried so far:

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Left to right: Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Shampoo, Batiste Dry Shampoo in Wild, Kevin Murphy Fresh Hair.

I picked up Not Your Mother’s at CVS for like $8, and ordered the Batiste and Kevin Murphy on Amazon for ~$9 and $32 respectively. I don’t really recommend Not Your Mother’s as I don’t feel like it gave me the same kind of clean that the other two did.

Batiste, on the other hand, is a FANTASTIC option for around the same price — it really zaps the oil out of my roots. Downside: it is SUPER powdery and leaves all that white crap in your hair that you have to brush out, and if you have dark hair sometimes that stuff can leave you looking a little gray. I’m not wild about the “Wild” scent though (heh), admittedly.

I found out about Kevin Murphy products from a blog post I stumbled upon and ended up sucking up the stickershock to give it a try. It is a really quality product which I think is particularly great for brunettes or people with a darker color, since it does not leave the same powdery residue that the other two do. And it does a fantastic job, too, with a more subtle scent than Batiste. But obviously, all of that stuff comes with a price, so it’s up to you if it’s worth giving a shot.

Between the three, I will probably get Batiste again until I end up going dark again, though I will definitely be trying out a different scent next time.

But there you have it! My journey to luscious purple locks and the way I keep it bright and cheery. Now just to decide what shade to go next time… I really want to try a light, pastel purple but I’m not sure what re-bleaching my bleached hair would do… hmm.

How often do you wash your hair? Do you color your locks? Any particular products you’re loving?

The Past 4 Months, As Told By My Hair

WARNING. WARNING. PHOTO OVERLOAD APPROACHING.

So actually, after publishing that last post, I realized it’s not really fair for me just to pop in with a hi, hello, here’s a new recipe, kthxbye, now is it? I mean, you guys need CONTEXT for what I’ve been doing for the past few months, don’t you? Well, even if you don’t, I’m going to give it to you, so there. After all, You’re up to date on the fact that I got LASIK back in October (it’s AWESOME, in case you were wondering), but other than that, I’ve been terribly lacking in details. Well, here’s a brief recap! Fair warning, though my life is like 85% Yelp now.

Powell Family Reunion over the summer

My friends Lara’s and Aileen‘s weddings in September!

Visiting my sister and niece in Macon, GA in October

Yelp’s HallowMEME Elite Event at the State Theatre for Halloween (can you guess which Hipster Disney Princess I was?)

Briefly met celebrity chef Mike Isabella in November (spoiler alert: we did NOT become best friends and he’s kiiiind of a dbag…)

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Shot engagement pics for the enchanting Carly and her fiance, Alex

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Threw a superhero-themed birthday bash for my dad’s 60th cakeday!

And, most recently, threw Yelp’s Ho-Ho-Holiday Party Elite Event!

Oh, and just in case you haven’t been able to see in these photos, or haven’t been keeping track via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, here is a specific timeline of what my hair has gone through over the past few months. Because I like to have a chronicle of these things, and also since, you know, that’s what this blog is REALLY all about. 😉

I feel like the last time I checked in on the coiffure-front might have been when my hair looked like this:

Buuuut that was back in… August. Soooo, eventually all that blue-pink-purple hotness faded out, and I ended up finding a new hairdresser/soulmate in Linh from Be Scene Hair Studio in Bethesda. And back in early October, he turned my punked out, turned up hair into this:

Mmmm, ombre…

Of course, as I’ve now had a taste for the wonders of dramatically colored hair (and because I can get away with it now due to my rocksome job with Yelp), eventually I had to have MORE.

So now my hair looks like this:

HAHAHAHAHAHA, just kidding! That was just phase one in getting it to look like THIS:

Oooor, if you put me in a photobooth at a Yelp event and turn the flash on, it looks like I’m wearing a ridiculous purple wig:

Bahahaha.

Regardless of what particular shade it looks like in whatever the current light situation is, I love it, love it, LOVE IT, and I’m pretty sure I’m never going to stop. Now, that said, I’m taking suggestions on what color I should go for next. I mean, it’s kind of big decision, trying to figure out what shade should I end up kicking off 2014 with! So feel free to leave a comment with your choice du jour, and have an amaaazing night.