metal roof before and after

Metal roof installation: Why I chose metal over asphalt

metal roof before and afterI’m flashing some new metal these days and it’s not around my neck or on my fingers. No, I’m talking about the new metal roof on my house and garage. And I love telling people about it. Sounds kind of weird, huh? But any time I can add value to my house and save money, that makes me very happy.

The first question everyone asks me is, “does it sound like a tin can when it rains?” And the answer to that is “no.”

But let’s back up a bit. I think most people around here don’t realize that metal roofing is an option. And I’m not talking about the standing seam roofs found on many commercial buildings. I’m talking about metal shingles that look just like asphalt, or even better in my opinion.

I’m going to give the lowdown on the money saving benefits, what options you may or may not need and what the installation process was like.

smart roofs for smart people

MetroShingles: smart roofs for smart people

How metal roofs save money

How can a metal roof save money when it costs more to install? If you think about how much money you would have to spend now and 20 years from now, it’s a huge savings.

For example, my old asphalt roof was installed in the early 90s and cost about $2,500. That same roof in 2017 was going to cost $10,000, four times more. Twenty years later it would need replacing again and it definitely would cost a lot more. If that cost quadruples again, a new roof would be $40,000. That means in 20 years I would have spent $50,000 for two roofs.

A metal roof costs about one-third more than asphalt. Instead of paying $10,000, I paid $13,000 for a roof guaranteed to last at least 50 years and will probably last much longer than that.

You will also get a discount on homeowners insurance with a metal roof. Not a large discount but it adds up over 50+ years.

Even if you don’t intend to stay in the house forever, a metal roof adds value to the house. The 50 year warranty is transferable and is a good selling point.

Will a metal roof make my house hotter

No, it shouldn’t. This article says that heavier materials like slate or concrete hold heat longer than lighter ones. And metal is the lightest roofing material and will cool down the fastest.

However, I think attic ventilation and insulation are more important factors in keeping the house cooler.

Types of metal shingles

I got MetroShingles which are made out of steel for durability, rust and dent resistance. Shingles come in either high or low profile. High profile is raised up on the side about an inch and would be suitable for a cottage style house. I went with the low profile, flatter shingles.

The shingles have a stone coating and I think that’s one reason why they’re not noisy in the rain.

They come in many colors. I chose charcoal which is a classic black roof. The dark color could make things hotter but I actually haven’t noticed any difference.

Options when installing a metal roof

Removing the old asphalt shingles. I don’t think it will make any difference in regards to keeping the house cooler. So if you only have one layer of shingles, save some money and put the metal shingles over it.

Installing a radiant barrier. Do you really need this? The theory is that installing a reflective radiant barrier in between the shingles and the roof will keep it cooler. There has to be a little air space above the barrier for it to work. Sounds good…or does it.

The reflective material is supposed to reflect heat away from the attic to keep the house cooler. But once that material gets covered with dust, which will inevitably happen even if it’s installed inside the attic, it will no longer be reflective.

The title of this article says it all: Radiant barriers: a solution in search of a problem. It really breaks the whole thing down. I urge you to read it and pass on a radiant barrier as I did.

Adding more vents to the attic. I decided to add one more vent to hopefully cool off the attic. It’s really hard to tell how much difference it might be making. But it didn’t cost that much so I took a chance.

My attic would probably benefit from a fan to draw out the hot air but the high cost didn’t make sense. It would be cheaper just to run the air conditioner when it gets too hot.

MetroShingle facts, benefits and installation demo

Here’s a short video showing typical installation.

What happened during my metal roof installation

First they tore off the old asphalt roof. There was only one layer of shingles but the roof had been leaking so the shingles were removed and rotten wood was replaced.

Roof torn off to bare wood

Roof torn off to bare wood

Next the underlayment was installed (plastic sheeting).

Then the metal shingles went on top. My satellite dish was disconnected for a few hours at one point during installation.

Roof with some metal shingles installed

Roof with some metal shingles installed

Vents were installed. I decluttered the roof by replacing replacing the old mushroom shaped turbine fans with low profile vents. I also added an extra vent as I said before.

The garage has a small addition in the back which was considered a flat roof. That area was given a different underlayment. It was self-adhesive for the purpose of creating a seal around the screws used to attach the shingles.

"Flat roof" area of my garage before demo

“Flat roof” area of my garage before demo

The whole project took five days. And here is the before and after. It looks so sharp!

Finally, I’d like to give a shout out to Western Roofing for the great job they did installing my new roof! Anyone in the SoCal area should give them a call. They’re #1 in roofs! And I don’t get anything for saying that except satisfaction for helping someone find a good roofing contractor.

powered by bacon

Intermittent fasting and keto after 60

powered by baconToday I want to share my experience with intermittent fasting (IF) and the ketogenic diet I’ve been doing for the last six months. My main goal in trying both of these was to lose weight, which I have done and continue to do.

The great thing about this way of eating is that there’s a lot of flexibility. So there’s no “right” way to do it. That’s good but also bad because it can be confusing when you’re just starting out. Hopefully my experiences will clear up some of the confusion.

I’m going to talk about how much I’ve lost, the foods I eat, how much exercise I’ve done, how I’ve felt, and the benefits besides weight loss that keep me motivated to continue. I will also list some resources at the end where you can go to get more extensive info on both IF and keto.

You may find this especially helpful if you’re a mature woman who’s having a hard time maintaining and/or losing weight.

Intermittent fasting

Let me start by saying I’m 62, post menopausal and living without a gallbladder. (That hasn’t been a problem for me on this high fat keto diet although it can be for some.) I’ve lost 18 pounds in the last six months and am still losing about half a pound per week.

Prior to that I had been dieting for a few months and had been on a plateau for about a month when I discovered IF.

I was really resistant to the idea at first because it sounded potentially unhealthy. But when I learned it’s a good way to keep insulin levels down, and therefore lose weight, I decided to give it a try.

Without going into too much detail, IF has been described as an eating window. You only eat during a certain period of the day which can be anything from 12 hours to four hours. Another way to look at it is skipping breakfast or not eating anything after dinner.

I do the 16:8 method which means I fast for 16 hours and eat during the other eight hours. I like to eat soon after getting up in the morning and then eight hours later I stop.

There are days I choose to fast longer or shorter. I’ve gone as long as 21 hours fasting or as little as 12 hours. I intentionally vary the schedule to keep my body guessing and to have a normal social life.

In the beginning I was confused. Do I eat three meals a day or just two? I started with three meals a day but felt too full so I cut back to two.

Then I was worried I wasn’t eating enough. And because some people claim you can eat any type of food you want, I started eating chips and cookies. Well that was a mistake and I put on a couple of pounds.

Around that time (about three weeks in) I discovered the keto diet.

keto after pic

Wearing size 6 jeans Xmas 2017

Keto and keeping it simple

The keto diet is a low carb high fat diet, or LCHF, generally defined as 60% fat, 35% protein, 5% carbs. This forces your body to use fat (ketones) for fuel rather than sugar (glucose) from a standard high carb diet.

Most people say you need to keep track of your macros and recommend recording your meals in MyFitnessPal.

I did this for maybe one day. I don’t like tracking macros, counting calories, adding up points, etc. I’d rather learn to eat intuitively.

The most important thing to remember is to keep net carbs at or below 20 grams. And if you’re trying to lose weight, eat a little less fat so your body will burn stored fat.

I keep a mental note of my carb count which is pretty easy because my meals are simple and repetitive. If I want a special treat, I work it into my daily carb allowance.

How do you know if you’re in ketosis

Ketosis is when your body has made the switch from burning sugar to burning fat. It can take a few weeks to adapt and it’s different for everyone.

A lot of people will test their ketones and blood sugar and generally obsess over whether or not they’re in ketosis. Once again, this is not for me. I just go by how I feel and since I’m losing weight, I know I’m on the right track.

I did have the “keto flu” for what seemed like forever. In real time it was three or four weeks. How did I know I had the keto flu? Well I just generally felt like crap. I was so lethargic and tired I could do almost nothing but lay around. And my symptoms were exacerbated by a summer heatwave.

Then I learned that keto flu could be remedied by taking electrolytes, specifically sodium. I started sipping on some homemade bone broth and began to feel better within about three days.

Eventually I became quite energetic as is typical on a keto diet. Increased energy and the fact that I can go long hours if need be without food tells me that I’m in ketosis. Another sign is keto breath which I do notice from time to time.

Foods I enjoy and what I eat on a typical day

I like buying high quality food and cooking most of my meals from scratch. I buy grass fed beef, organic free range chicken and organic eggs. This is not mandatory on a keto diet, it’s just my preference.

I try to stay away from artificial sweeteners but every now and then will have a Zevia diet soda.

I also have no interest in keto versions of high carb foods like pancakes, cakes and cookies. The only thing I make once in a while is coconut flour muffins. But it’s perfectly fine to eat keto treats occasionally if it helps keep you on the diet.

The foods I like to eat most often are eggs, bacon, beef, butter, cheese, half and half, peanut butter and sour cream. Sometimes I also eat avocados, almonds, chicken thighs and mayo.

My usual breakfast is one egg and two pieces of bacon. Lately my favorite concoction is what I’m calling a cheesy jalapeno egg with sour cream.

Cheesy jalapeno egg and bacon

Cheesy jalapeno egg and bacon

I don’t usually have lunch but if I’m hungry I may have a bite of peanut butter or pork rinds. And for a tasty treat, I mix half an avocado with a couple of tablespoons of sour cream, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. I either eat it with pork rinds or homemade cheese chips. Yum!

For dinner it’s often ground beef with vegetables. Sometimes I make my own version of “crack slaw” (without sweetener or sugar). Once in a while I’ll have steak or chicken with sauteed vegetables or my homemade sauerkraut. And last week I had taco salad with ground beef, cheese, lettuce, olives, salsa, tomatoes and sour cream.

Taco salad

Taco salad

For dessert I like to have exactly five chocolate covered almonds from Trader Joe’s. I work it into my macros. It keeps me from feeling deprived and doesn’t trigger any carb cravings. Now ice cream or chocolate chip cookies would be another story.

TJ's choc covered almonds

Daily treat: chocolate almonds

As for bulletproof coffee, it’s not for me and maybe not for you if you’re trying to lose weight. I make my own cold brewed coffee that I either drink black or with half and half and no sweetener.

To supplement or not to supplement

I’ve been taking a variety of supplements for the last few years and will keep taking them because I notice a difference. Some people believe you should get all your nutrients from food. That would be ideal but I’m not sure it’s really possible. However, I’ve been able to cut down with no ill effects which is saving me money.

Exercise

For the first four months I did the T-Tapp barefoot basic plus workout five days a week. Then I took a couple of months off and recently started doing T-Tapp three days a week, and a kettlebell express workout two days a week. I still lost weight when I was not exercising.

I keep a file of my exercise schedule with weekly measurements and monthly weigh-ins. It gives me encouragement and perspective on how far I’ve gone.

Strategies for living an IF and keto lifestyle

Everyone has to decide how strict to be with the diet. Are you going to cheat, carb up or bring your own foods to non keto gatherings.

My goal is to have a normal life that includes celebrating holidays, special occasions or going out on Saturday night.

After two months on keto I incorporated “cheating” into my lifestyle. It’s also part of my strategy to avoid a plateau. So far it’s working.

Saturday is my free day from keto and IF because I like going out on Saturday night. I reserve that day for eating things I might be wanting such as bread, pizza or dessert. And I almost always make organic popcorn.

That is not to say I go hog wild because I don’t. I try to keep the net carbs under 75 grams.

Sometimes I’ll switch my cheat day for a night out with friends or celebrating a holiday. I just got through Thanksgiving and Christmas this year by doing that.

For those holidays I ended up having one meal that day. I ate mostly meat and green veg with very small servings of everything else including dessert. I was really stuffed and fasted for 21 hours afterwards.

The key is to enjoy yourself for that one day and go right back to keto the next day. No guilt.

Benefits of IF and keto aside from weight loss

The very first thing I noticed on day two of IF was how much better my foot felt. For those of you who don’t know, two years ago I suffered a severe ankle injury, breaking all the bones in my left ankle. My goal is 100% recovery, currently around 98%.

Anyway, after making this observation I did more research to see if there’s a connection between IF and joint pain relief. Turns out it’s something called autophagy, a process the body uses to rid itself of cellular debris. Autophagy reduces inflammation and boosts the immune system. This alone makes me want to keep doing IF.

Watch this short video for more information:

Some of the other benefits have been curing a persistent toenail fungus, saving money on food and supplements, experiencing sustained energy throughout the day, and generally feeling strong.

Recommended resources for more information on IF and keto

Recipe ideas and general information on keto: Keto Connect on YouTube
A doctor’s perspective on keto and intermittent fasting: Dr Eric Berg on YouTube
IF and keto wonderfully explained in plain terms: Butter Bob Briggs on YouTube

Toning synthetic hair

fake hair tonesWhen I had dark brown hair it was pretty easy to find synthetic hairpieces to match. But that changed after I bleached my hair. It was blonde for a minute, then I let my silver roots grow in and tried out different pastel colors.

It was impossible to find fake hair in the right color. I also didn’t want to buy a different piece every time I changed my hair color.

Through trial and error I discovered I could tone synthetic hair using temporary rinses or certain semipermanent hair dyes. Because the color is temporary I could get by with one or two hairpieces and change the color whenever I wanted.

Buying synthetic hairpieces

The first thing I did was to pick up a couple of hairpieces in a light silver shade (from Vanessa Grey and Christie Brinkley).

I like the versatility of these because if I’m having a bad hair day, I can just make a quick updo. Or I can pull my hair half up and make a cute little poof on the top.

Toning fake hair to match blonde, silver or pastel hair

When you’re toning fake hair, it doesn’t have to be a perfect match. It just needs blend because your own hair will be incorporated into the look.

You can do color all over or just put in a few streaks. Lately I’ve been adding multicolored streaks to my hairpieces because I’m often changing the pastel colors in my hair.

I’ve found that the best temporary or semipermanent dyes to use are the ones that are very thin and runny. Roux Fanci Full rinse (for blonde or silver hair), diluted gentian violet (for lavender hair) and Adore Creative semipermanent dye (for pastel colors) are the best. These work because you have to leave the color on the hair without washing it out.

Thick dye like Arctic Fox, which I love for my own hair, doesn’t work because if you don’t wash it out, the piece ends up sticky and it doesn’t look good. And if you wash it out, the color will go with it.

Using Roux Fanci Full rinse to tone fake hair (for blonde or silver hair)

The colors of Roux Fanci Full rinse I used for my blonde hair were Spun Sand and Hidden Honey. I mixed them together to get the right shade.

The color I used to match my silver hair was True Steel.

Follow these steps to tone your synthetic hair:

  1. Put the Fanci Full rinse in an old plastic container.
  2. Swish the synthetic hair around until it’s completely saturated.
  3. Squeeze out the excess and let it air dry for a couple of days.

Whenever you decide to change colors, simply wash it out with a little soap and water.

Using a gentian violet rinse to tone fake hair (for lavender hair)

Gentian violet is an old-time antiseptic. Its bright purple color is a dupe for Manic Panic Ultraviolet. Unlike Manic Panic it’s very cheap, only around $4 a bottle. And because you only need three or four drops, one little bottle will last forever. I’m still using mine.

Follow these steps for toning with the gentian violet rinse:

  1. Important: Make sure you wear gloves when handling this and cover the working area. Even a tiny little speck of this stuff will stain your sink, your hands, your walls. Most times it can be removed with alcohol though.
  2. Put water in an old plastic container and add a few drops of gentian violet until you get the right shade. A little experimentation is needed here.
  3. Saturate the hairpiece in the solution.
  4. Squeeze it out and let dry for a couple of days.

Note: the color does fade over time, just as it does on human hair.

Using Adore Creative Dye to tone fake hair (for pastel hair)

Adore dye can be used straight out of the bottle. The procedure is a little different though. I found it best to rub a small amount of dye into the hair with your fingers. Wear gloves! You can put in streaks or tone the whole thing.

When finished, let it dry for a couple of days.

As with gentian violet, the color does fade after awhile.

How my synthetic hair looks after toning

It’s easy now to tone my fake hair to go with my ever-changing real hair. Here are some pictures of me wearing my toned hairpieces.

I hope this was helpful for you. Please let me know what you think.

no fleas

My dog has fleas! Safe products to kill, repel and control fleas

no fleasFleas have not been a problem around here for several years. But recently my dog started scratching like a maniac, and that could only mean one thing. My dog has fleas!

The ugly truth was confirmed when I ran my fingers through his fur and felt gritty flea dirt. Also known as flea poop. Also known as my dog’s digested blood. Nasty! Those fleas gotta go!

In the past I’ve used poisonous flea medications, flea bombs and noxious yard sprays. They became ineffective as the fleas became resistant. I stopped using those nasty chemicals and found safe flea treatments that really work.

The war against fleas requires a comprehensive plan to get rid of them and prevent new infestations in the house, yard and on the dog. I put together a new system that knocked out those fleas fast. Here’s a breakdown of what’s working for us.

Safe and effective flea control

Indoor treatments: flooring and furniture

Fleabusters orthoboric acid powder for flooring of all types. I had used this a few years ago on my old carpet. It worked so well I only had to apply it once.

Fleabusters keeps fleas away for years

Fleabusters keeps fleas away for years

It works by lacerating their nasty little bodies to make them die from dehydration. It kills fleas at every stage, from eggs to adult. Also works on other bugs like ticks, mites, ants and roaches.

To apply, you sprinkle it on the carpet (or hardwood, tile, etc.), work it in with a broom then vacuum the excess after 24 to 48 hours. Make sure it gets into all the baseboards, cracks and crevices where flea eggs end up.

I spread this on my carpet then applied it to my mattress and couch, two areas where my dog loves to sleep.

Fleabusters will keep working for at least a year or until you clean your carpet. Then you have to reapply after the carpet dries.

Check out this video showing Fleabusters powder being applied to hardwood floors, carpet and furniture.

Indoor treatments: flooring, furniture, bedding, pets

Vet’s Best flea and tick home spray. This natural nontoxic spray, made from peppermint oil and clove extract, kills fleas on contact. In two seconds or less they’re dead!

Doesn’t leave sticky residue anywhere. It’s only active when it’s wet. After it dries there’s no residual killing effect. Leaves a fresh clove scent for a while.

I sprayed this on areas of the carpet where my dog likes to lay to instantly kill fleas until the Fleabusters worked its magic. I sprayed it every day for about four days, vacuuming in between.

And I sprayed it on the bedspread.

Vet's Best flea and tick home spray

Vet’s Best flea and tick home spray

I also use this on my dog if I find a flea on him because it’s easier than trying to catch them. I go through his fur with my hands and if I see a flea, I hold it down with my fingers while I grab the spray. Then just one little squirt and BAM, it’s dead.

Outdoor treatment: all surfaces

From the same people who make the incredible flea and tick home spray, Vet’s Best has a flea and tick yard and kennel spray. Also nontoxic and made with peppermint oil, clove extract and sodium lauryl sulfate.

You simply attach your hose to the bottle, spray then let dry. The 32 oz size covers approximately 4500 sq ft. It’s also supposed to be safe for plants.

As an added benefit, it kills and repels mosquitos.

Flea control for the dog

Garlic tablets

The goal is to keep fleas from jumping on your dog by making him less tasty to them. The best way to do that is to give the dog brewers yeast and garlic tablets.

I had been using this one brand that worked extremely well for a few years until they changed their formula. The new formula was responsible for this latest outbreak of fleas. So I found Nutri Vet brewers yeast tablets that were well reviewed on Amazon. They have to be taken for a while before they’re fully effective.

Nutri Vet brewers yeast and garlic

Nutri Vet brewers yeast and garlic

After a couple of weeks using the pills I saw improvement but there were still too many fleas so I switched to raw garlic.

This worked great and the only downside is the slight inconvenience of preparing raw garlic every night. I have to chop it up, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes and give it to him right away. The amount for his size is ⅔ teaspoon.

Now, he doesn’t like to eat the pills or fresh garlic so I put it in some peanut butter and down the hatch it goes!

After a couple of weeks the fleas were gone so I started to alternate raw garlic with the tablets. He gets the pills three or four days a week and that’s working well.

Flea comb

I had never used one of these before but I got one to use while waiting for the garlic to kick in. Not only is it much faster than manually picking off fleas, it’s also easier to remove flea dirt.

The key to using a flea comb is to have a dish of water handy that has a splash of soap in it. The soap allows the fleas to sink to the bottom and drown, otherwise they can float around and sometimes crawl out.

Flea comb

Flea comb

I prefer using the flea comb dry because I don’t want flea dirt to dissolve on my dog. When I pull the comb through his hair and find a flea, I put my thumb on top of it before it can jump off. Then I hold it above the dish and flick the flea into the water. I also pull out the hair and flea dirt and put that into the water as well.

When I’m finished, I just take the dish and flush the contents down the toilet. Easy peasy.

Safe flea control is possible and highly effective without harmful chemicals

Well there you have it—a detailed plan to eliminate fleas safely and effectively in the house, in the yard and on the dog. We went from this…

To this…

dog happy no fleas

Finally things are back to normal!

Ahhh, now that’s a happy dog. Peace once again reigns supreme in the Makara kingdom!

I hope you find this information helpful. Please comment below if you have any tips to share about safe flea control treatments that worked for you.

More info

Garlic for dogs: poison or medicine?

Swell Skin sea buckthorn berry oil and soap

Expect miracles? Swell Skin sea buckthorn berry review

Swell Skin sea buckthorn berry oil and soap

Swell Skin sea buckthorn berry oil and soap

We always hope for miracles from our beauty products but how awesome is it when you find a company that actually promises them.

I’m talking about Swell Skin, manufacturer of sea buckthorn berry oil and soap. And results are guaranteed or your money back.

You are not only guaranteed a miracle, you can expect one overnight. No need to wait weeks or months.

Fantastic, right? That’s what I thought so I decided to put their products to the test.

Promising airbrushed skin in 24 hours

Now what is it we’re supposed to see after just one application? The company claims that 90% of skin’s needs are met within the first 24 hours. As to what it’s really supposed to do, this is what they say:

“Sea buckthorn oil has a reputation for softening lines, plumping skin with moisture, healing skin inflammation including acne, rosacea and many more serious skin conditions.”

Founder Kelli Klus goes on to say, “Regardless of my skin’s occasional challenges, age, sun, infections, spots, acne, rashes, redness etc. the products work immediately to heal each and every one of these problems.”

They sum it up by promising airbrushed skin.

swell skin miraculous?

What will Swell Skin do for me? Putting it to the test

Now I’m fairly happy with my skin’s texture, hydration and elasticity. But I do have a few brown spots, hyperpigmentation and sebaceous hyperplasia (SH) bumps that I’d like to see go away. And occasionally I get keratosis pilaris (KP) on my face.

I took before and after photos (something that’s lacking on their website and on 99.9% of outside reviews).

I decided to test these products for either one night or one month. (One month if the overnight miracle did not occur.) And at the risk of becoming lopsided, I used them only on the right side of my face and neck.

Excitement was building as I prepared to use Swell Skin soap and oil for the first time. Would I really see overnight results?

I prayed to the god of skin miracles. Oh magic sea buckthorn berry, please take away my brown spots and bumps!

Using the sea buckthorn berry soap

Swell Skin sea buckthorn berry soap

Swell Skin sea buckthorn berry soap

The bar weighs 2.25 ounces. The ingredients are sodium palmate, sodium palm kernelate, water, glycerine, cocos nucifera oil (coconut oil), hippophae rhamnoides oil (sea buckthorn oil), aloe barbadensis leaf extract (aloe vera), astragalus membranaceus root extract, tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), palmitic acid, sodium chloride, tetrasodium etidronate, tetrasodium EDTA.

The soap felt cool like mint and has minimal lather. It has a mild, pleasant smell.

Afterwards my skin felt very clean but not dried out. I was surprised to see it removed virtually all of my makeup. None of my other cleansers can do that.

Using the sea buckthorn berry oil

Swell Skin sea buckthorn berry oil

Swell Skin sea buckthorn berry oil

The bottle contains 100% pure sea buckthorn berry oil and is listed as .05 fluid ounces. That’s INCORRECT and I’m surprised nobody’s caught this big boo boo.

The actual measurement is .5 fluid ounces, or one-half ounce, which equals one tablespoon of oil.

And to prove that I poured my brand new bottle into a tablespoon. The picture is below.

Bottle contains 1T oil, or .5 fluid ounces, not .05

Bottle contains 1T oil, or .5 fluid ounces, not .05

Moving on from that.

The oil has a faint smell, like some type of grain. It looks a bit orange and it feels like…well, oil. Yes, it feels like oil, it looks like oil and it does not completely absorb into the skin. It did not, however, turn my skin orange.

Expecting an overnight miracle. Did I get one?

The next morning there was still a little bit of oil on my face and neck. And I had only used a small amount. But it was easily rubbed in to reveal the fact that my skin looked exactly the same as before.

No miracle for me. The experiment continued for 29 more days, only using the products on the right side.

My results after 30 days

So here’s what happened. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

There was no overnight miracle.

There was no miracle after 30 days.

I see no difference whatsoever. My brown spots and SH bumps remain.

During the course of the trial period I did get a couple of pimples and also a couple of KP spots on my cheek. The pimples did not go away any faster. There was, however, faster healing with the KP, drying up in about five days.

My before and after photos

Forehead before (L) and after (R)

Forehead before (L) and after (R)

Eye before (L) and after (R)

Eye before (L) and after (R)

Cheek before (L) and after (R)

Cheek before (L) and after (R)

Airbrushed skin? I think not. 

Conclusion and final evaluation

Sea buckthorn soap

The soap is very good at removing makeup, better than any other cleanser I’ve ever used. But it didn’t make my skin look or feel any better. I would recommend it for being a very gentle, effective cleanser.

The bar will last me for many months.

Sea buckthorn oil

The oil might be soothing if I had irritated skin which I don’t. It left my face a little oily in the morning. The only condition it seemed to help at all was the KP which I mostly get on my body. However, it’s too expensive for me to use on that and I would not repurchase.

After using it for a full month, I still had half a bottle left. If I had used it on my entire face it would have lasted one month.

So is this is a miracle product or hype? My verdict: Hype.

Buy the soap if you want a good cleanser but forget the oil.

If you want to see how well Swell Skin worked on someone with acne, please check out this video. It’s the only review that I could find that actually has before and after photos.

For more information about Swell Skin, visit their website.

Have you used Swell Skin sea buckthorn oil or soap? Please share your experiences below.

Radiant Sun wall art assemblage recycled sequin art

Radiant sun wall art, assemblage, recycled art

Radiant Sun wall art assemblage recycled sequin art

Radiant Sun wall art by Lynda Makara

It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to create new fun whimsical art after being sidelined by my broken ankle. But lately I’ve been getting back into the swing of things and was inspired to try something new—my Radiant Sun assemblage wall art.

Gathering recycled items for a sun wall art assemblage

I like to collect odds and ends from thrift stores and this old wall clock caught my attention. Better yet, it was only $1!

Taking apart wall clock for sun sculpture

Taking apart wall clock for sun sculpture

I decided to combine it with interesting bits of hardware found while rummaging in my father’s workshop. I also dug around in my own collection of craft items for gems, sequins, crystals and glitter. Because even though this is recycled art, I have to put my blingy spin on it.

Combining and arranging the pieces

Playing around with hardware to make sun face

Playing around with hardware to make sun face

Using an astrological map as the background, I played around until I came up with a face I liked. For the eyes I used a plastic bottle cap, random hardware piece, BBs, gems and crystals. An allen wrench serves as the nose. And the mouth is made from washers, a bell and more BBs.

On top of the glass more weird hardware pieces are glued on to accent one eye, along with sequins and crystals.

I painted the outside of the clock in the colors of the sun (red, orange and yellow).

And I used two different types of rusty nails for the sun’s rays.

Rusty nail sun rays, back of sculpture

Rusty nail sun rays, back of sculpture

Adding sparkle to the radiant sun

The best part for me is going to town with the embellishments because when it comes to sparkle, more is definitely better. And you can see I’ve used lots of different types of glitter, crystals, gems and fabulous sequins that sparkle endlessly.

Radiant Sun wall sculpture close up

Radiant Sun wall sculpture close up

And the result is a fun, cheerful, smiling sun that shines no matter what the weather is like outside. You can find it for sale in my Etsy shop.

Here’s a look at some of my past sculptures. And remember, I’m also available to create a custom piece of art just for you!

Unstoppable by Lynda Makara

Broken ankle recovery: one year later

Unstoppable by Lynda Makara

Unstoppable by Lynda Makara

Exactly one year ago today my doctor told me I was allowed to walk again following trimalleolar surgery. Those were the words I had waited 67 days to hear after breaking my ankle last September. The surgeon had done his work and now it would be up to me to get back on my feet.

This last year has been the most difficult one of my life, physically and emotionally. But I’m happy to report I’m doing very well now. And I wanted to let everyone know that since there are so few success stories to be found out there.

Venturing into the unknown

When I started this “journey” I was given very little information about what was going to happen and how long it would take to recover. The physician’s assistant told me the best outcome would be that I would walk again. The way she said it was anything but encouraging. Yikes! I know they have to prepare you for the worst but at least they could also mention the possibility you could recover fully.

I was fortunate enough to get that reassurance from the wonderful nurses who were prepping me for surgery. One of them told me she had had trimalleolar surgery a few years ago and said she was just fine now. To demonstrate that she jumped up and down, skipped around and stood on her tiptoes. This is a woman who has to spend the whole day on her feet and she looked perfectly normal.

Thinking of her helps me get through the tough times.

persistence and determination

How I’m doing after rehabbing my broken ankle for one year

An update on the physical problems

The physical problems I’ve been dealing with this last year are pain, swelling, numbness and stiffness. Last June I reported being 95 percent recovered and able to do almost all of my normal activities. I think it’s more like 97 percent now. A couple of things I can do now that I wasn’t able to before are running and jumping jacks. I can even walk around in high heels for a very short period of time.

And here’s the breakdown by symptom.

Pain

I have little to no pain walking most of the time and I am limp-free. Sometimes there’s soreness when I relax my foot and discomfort (and random sharp pains) during dorsiflexion. Sometimes my shins hurt too. Standing on tiptoe with the left leg hurts less than it used to. I attribute these pains to tight tendons and ligaments so I’ve been doing some new things in the last month that have made a big difference. I’m really excited about the results and will probably do a separate post on that later.

Swelling

There’s still a bit of swelling depending on how much standing I do during the day. Swelling is limited to right around the ankle and not the rest of the foot as before. I’ve only felt the need to use the ice pack once in the last few months.

Numbness

The numbness is virtually gone. I used to feel it when I barely touched the top of my foot. Now the only time I feel anything like that is when I’m massaging my foot. And even then it’s very, very faint.

Stiffness

My ankle moves pretty normally in all directions except for dorsiflexion. But that has improved recently as a result of the new things I’ve been doing with my therapy. I’ll just keep plugging away at it until I get to 100 percent recovery. My toes also used to be quite stiff but now are normal.

Photos of my ankle one year later

The left ankle is the one that had surgery. They look the most alike in the morning when there’s no swelling. The left one will always be a little bigger now with all the hardware installed. I don’t plan to have it removed because it’s not causing me any problems and I really don’t want another surgery.

An update on the emotional problems

I didn’t talk about it much before but the emotional challenges are almost as difficult as the physical ones. I’ve experienced fear, depression, helplessness, flashbacks and frustration.

These feelings are very much intertwined with my physical condition. And as it improves, they also improve. I still have frustration with not being fully recovered. And I still occasionally have flashbacks. Overall I feel better now knowing I can take care of myself in any situation I could handle before.

There’s one more thing I’ve been dealing with. The accident changed my identity. I became the girl with the broken ankle and that thought has been with me every moment of every day. Technically it’s not broken anymore and hasn’t been for some time. But every pain, every limitation, even the lack of pain when I’m used to feeling pain, is a reminder that I’m the girl with the broken ankle. I’m not going to be that girl anymore.

From now on, I’m the girl who is UNSTOPPABLE.

Related posts

Broken ankle recovery: learning to walk again

Rehabbing my broken ankle

My magic shoes for broken ankle recovery

My bleached, damaged hair

Olaplex fixed my fried bleached hair

My bleached, damaged hair

My bleached, damaged hair

What looks like cotton candy but feels like straw? My hair after being bleached from brunette to platinum.

My silky hair was so damaged that no amount of conditioners, oils and serums could tame it. Every time I brushed my hair, my lap was covered in little broken bits. I wished I could rewind the clock to go back in time to when my hair was soft and smooth. Well guess what. I discovered with Olaplex, you can go back.

Yes, Olaplex really does work. It’s a three-part system. Parts 1 and 2 are meant to be used in the salon during chemical processes but can also be used as a standalone treatment. Part 3 is to be used at home for ongoing maintenance.

I got the three-piece kit and did the standalone treatment myself at home which is as easy as putting conditioner on your hair. Anyone can do it, and you should do it yourself because you’ll save a lot of money. I’ll get into the details later and show you my before and after photos.

Before I went ahead and plunked down $100+ for a kit, I had a few questions that you may have as well. Here’s what my research uncovered, in brief and simple terms, to answer the most commonly asked questions about Olaplex.

The most asked questions about Olaplex

What is Olaplex?

Olaplex is a compound called Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate. Its purpose is to repair bonds in the hair that are broken during chemical processes. It was invented by chemists and patented.

It comes as a three-part system, labeled as #1, #2 and #3. The same ingredient is used in each part, with #1 having the highest concentration of the active ingredient and #3 having the lowest. Number 1 is called a bond multiplier, #2 is called a bond perfector and #3 is called a hair perfector.

Olaplex is free of silicone, sulfates, phthalates, DEA, aldehydes, and is never tested on animals.

Why should I use it?

Because it mitigates the damage done during a chemical process. While the bonds are being broken during bleaching, Olaplex #1 is repairing them at the same time. Not all of the bonds are repaired during this step so #2 is used right after the chemical process.

How can you use it to repair hair?

Besides using it in a chemical service, you can also use it to repair damaged hair as a standalone treatment. If the hair is really damaged, you can do a treatment using #1 and #2. After that you can use #3 once a week for maintenance and to repair ongoing damage done to the hair.

What’s the difference between Olaplex and knock off brands?

All the knock off brands only coat the outside of the hair and mask the damage. They don’t mitigate or repair the damage. Olaplex is the only product on the market that can actually reconnect broken bonds in the hair shaft.

Will I get any benefit from using #3 even if I don’t get my hair colored?

Yes, it’s good for everyone. When Olaplex was tested on virgin hair, the hair sample that was treated had more shine and felt softer to the touch than the original untreated sample. It had an overall healthier appearance than the control sample.

Are the effects of Olaplex permanent?

According to the manufacturer, the reconnected bonds will not break again unless compromised by additional thermal, mechanical or chemical services.

My experience with the Olaplex standalone treatment

Olaplex traveling stylist kit

Olaplex traveling stylist kit

I ordered the Traveling Stylist Kit which contains one bottle of #1, two bottles of #2, one bottle of #3, along with an instruction card for standalone treatments and for use with chemical processes.

I did the standalone treatment following the instructions on this card:

Olaplex standalone treatment instructions

Olaplex standalone treatment instructions

Here are some pictures taken during the first treatment.

It’s important to note that, contrary to what Kim K has said, sleeping with the product in your hair is not necessary nor more effective. After the product dries out it stops working, therefore the maximum time to leave it in your hair is 30 minutes. No further benefit will be gained by leaving it in longer.

Step by step Olaplex video tutorial

This brief video shows how to do the standalone treatment. When you do this at home by yourself, you should put a towel around your shoulders because the first part is very drippy.

My hair before and after Olaplex

My before and after photos are a little different from most people’s. The before photo shows my hair after flat ironing and with serum, and it still looks like a hot mess.

The after photo is my hair without any heat styling, oils, serums or conditioners. With flat ironing it looks even smoother but I wanted you to see it in its raw state.

After the treatment my hair was so soft, I couldn’t stop touching it! And the breakage—gone.

My evaluation of the claims made by Olaplex

I did the standalone treatment twice the first week, followed by weekly maintenance treatments of #3 for the next two weeks. Then I didn’t do any more treatments for six weeks.

During that time I only washed my hair once a week and used the flat iron once a week on the lowest setting. I let my hair air dry, something I was unable to do before using Olaplex because my hair would turn into a puffball.

My point here is that I did not do a lot to damage my hair, but after six weeks with no treatments it started to break off a little bit more. So I started doing weekly maintenance treatments again.

While my hair’s strength improved dramatically following treatments, it was never quite the same as before being damaged by bleach. And the restorative effects were long lasting, but not permanent.

Olaplex is the most remarkable product and I don’t want to be without it. It’s allowing me to keep my hair long while the bleached part grows out. The kit I got will last many months and I will definitely repurchase once it’s gone.

Update after using Olaplex for a year

It’s been nearly a year since I started using Olaplex and I wanted to show you how great my hair is looking now. It doesn’t break off in little pieces any more when I brush it and it’s gotten longer. So let’s take a look at some pictures.

one year using olaplex

Ten months of using Olaplex. Styled with flat iron.

I only do a treatment every month or two and I still have quite a bit left from the kit I purchased. I’ts definitely been worth the money!

Additional information

To find answers to more questions about Olaplex, please visit their education center.

To buy maintenance treatment #3 directly from the manufacturer, please click here.

For a more technical evaluation of the product, please read this report.

Please add your comments

Have you used Olaplex? What do you think of it?

 

diy hair dryer flat iron holder

DIY hair appliance holder

diy hair dryer flat iron holderWhen I was setting up my new makeup vanity, I wanted my hair dryer and flat iron handy. I had ordered a desktop appliance holder but it took up a lot of room and the cords looked really messy so I sent it back.

Then I decided it would be much neater to hang my hair appliances on the wall next to the vanity. The holders I found online were flimsy and poorly rated so I decided to use something else as my holder.

Wrought iron bar rack holder

Wrought iron bar rack holder

I just happen to have a small star wrought iron towel holder in one of the bathrooms so I checked it to see if my blow dryer and flat iron would fit on it and, guess what, they did! The holder sticks out 4 inches from the wall which is perfect. But instead of ordering that same design, I got this bar rack holder without the star because I also happened to have a pretty birthday card I wanted to use as a plaque behind it. (The star holder is longer though and would also hold a curling iron.)

These Amish wrought iron holders are very sturdy. (I also own star curtain tiebacks in addition to the towel holder.) They’ll last forever! The only drawback is the shipping but they do combine shipping if you get more than one item. However, even with the shipping the total was about the same as one of those cheap holders.

To install, the first thing I did was mark holes from the holder onto the card.

Birthday card with punched holes as backing for hair appliance holder

Birthday card with punched holes

Using the holder as a guide again, I transferred the markings onto the wall and made sure they were straight using a level. Then I put holes in the wall, inserted plastic anchors, laid the card on top and screwed the holder in place.

Holes drilled in the wall with plastic anchors inserted

Holes drilled in the wall with plastic anchors inserted

After that I got four little nails and hammered the corners of the card down.

Small nails to attach greeting card to wall

Small nails to attach greeting card to wall

And that’s all there is to it.

Hair appliance holder with greeting card backing tacked onto wall

Hair appliance holder with greeting card backing tacked onto wall

Except for one thing…there was a messy situation going on with the cords plugged into a power strip on the floor.

Hair appliances plugged into power strip cluttering up the floor

Hair appliances plugged into power strip cluttering up the floor

So I mounted it on the wall just under the vanity tabletop. I coiled up the mirror’s cord and tucked it in between the wall and the vanity. I also coiled up the power strip cord.

Power strip mounted to wall underneath vanity

Power strip mounted to wall underneath vanity

I’m going to be painting my room pretty soon and I’ll also paint those cords to make them blend in.

Now everything’s looking neat and tidy and I can sit there and fix my hair in front of my Hollywood Starlet mirror!

Makeup vanity with wall-mounted DIY blow dryer/flat iron holder

Makeup vanity with wall-mounted DIY blow dryer/flat iron holder

Do you have a clever solution for organizing your hot hair tools? Please share them in the comments below.

herbs rosemary

Bleaching damaged hair the natural way

herbs rosemaryThere’s a fairly new natural way to go blonde and so far it’s been a well kept secret. So secret, in fact, that even after I learned the name of the product I had a hard time finding any information on it. Now I’m going to expose this “secret” as I share my experience getting my overprocessed hair bleached the O-way (Organic Way professional salon products).

If you want to learn how my hair got so damaged, please read how I went from brunette to platinum.

Discovering Oway

I was at a crossroads with my hair color. After four bleachings I was left with yellow hair which is not at all what I wanted. My choices were to cut it and bleach it again or leave it long but yellow. I didn’t want to do either of those and went looking for another solution.

I started reading about how Olaplex can restore damaged hair and allow it to be safely bleached further. My plan was to keep it long and try to bleach it to the right color using Olaplex.

Turns out there’s just one salon in my area using it, but the stylist I asked for was the only person in the salon not using it. Instead she had just switched to all organic, nontoxic, plant-based hair color products—Oway. She convinced me to give it a try.

Oway is the world’s first ammonia-free, cruelty-free line of hair products with certified biodynamic, organic and fair trade ingredients. It’s great for people with sensitive skin. Sounds good, right?

Watch this video to see where the products begin—on biodynamic farms.

Bleaching my damaged hair with Oway organic bleach

Here are before pictures of my level 9 yellow hair.

First I went down to the salon and got a strand test on my hair to make sure the bleach would work. It did. My hair didn’t break off and it got lighter. So I came back in a few days for the full treatment.

My stylist did heavy foils using Oway organic bleach. She did the roots with 20 volume and the ends with 9 volume. On the second batch of bleach she used 30 volume to catch up with the first part. Unfoiled hair got balayage with 9 volume on the ends to bleach the yellow.

The processing time was about the same as for regular bleach. There was no burning or unpleasant smell.

After she washed the bleach out, she used a permanent dye as toner, level 11, shade 17. She had to rinse as we went along because the ends grabbed the color fast.

Here’s a video showing how to color hair with Oway products.

After bleaching and toning with Oway organic hair products

And this is the wonderful result—lighter, brighter hair without having to cut it.

The entire experience and the price were comparable to services I had done before with harsh chemicals.

Afterwards, my hair felt pretty silky. If I’d only known about Oway before, my hair wouldn’t have gotten damaged in the first place.

So if you’re thinking about going blonde, I urge you to check out these products. Ask your stylist to give them a try. Why bathe your scalp in toxic chemicals if you don’t have to?

My experience with Oway was a success because it allowed me to go one shade blonder without cutting my hair. I’m very happy about that. However, I’m still left with damaged hair from prior treatments. I gotta say, Olaplex is still on my mind. Stay tuned…

For more information about the entire line of Oway professional salon products, and to find an organic salon near you, please visit this link.

Related posts

Brunette to platinum to ?

Review of Redken platinum ice for toning yellow hair

Olaplex fixed my fried bleached hair

redken shades eq platinum ice 09v

Review of Redken platinum ice for toning yellow hair

redken shades eq platinum ice 09vSee what happened when I used Redken Shades EQ platinum ice 09V to tone my stubborn yellow hair. Here’s a hint: it was a disaster.

But first I’m going to answer the most asked questions about this product, and then I will go on to the review along with my before and after photos.

Most asked questions about Redken Shades EQ demi permanent color

What does demi permanent mean

Demi permanent means that it will only deposit color on the hair. It will not lighten hair, just change the tone of hair that’s already been lightened.

How do you mix it

You have to use a Redken Shades EQ processing solution along with Redken Shades EQ demi permanent color. You mix them at a 1:1 ratio. Using 2 oz of each would be enough to cover most hair.

How to use Redken Shades EQ

Apply the solution to clean, damp hair using a hair color brush or applicator bottle.

How long do I leave Shades EQ on my hair

Leave it on the hair from 5 to 20 minutes. Watch the color develop and rinse out as soon as it turns the right color.

How long does the color last

Supposed to last up to 24 shampoos.

My experience toning yellow hair with Redken platinum ice

Starting out my hair was level nine yellow blonde and I wanted a silvery blonde color. Salon toning looks good for about a week and then my hair goes back to yellow. And purple shampoo, the holy grail of many, doesn’t do anything because my hair is too damaged from bleaching to hold color.

My yellow hair before toning with Redken platinum ice

My yellow hair before toning with Redken platinum ice

I started searching for a more permanent solution and that’s how I found Redken Shades EQ platinum ice 09V. You can see from the swatch what a pretty color it is, icy but not too gray. To me it looks like it has taupe undertones.

redken shades eq platinum ice 09v

Redken Shades EQ 09V platinum ice

I put 2 oz of platinum ice and 2 oz of processing solution into an applicator bottle and shook it up. The mixture starts out watery and then turns into a slightly purple gel.

I put it all over my hair and massaged it in as if I were shampooing my hair. I piled all my hair on top of my head and watched and waited. Ten or 15 minutes in, it turned into this purple color. I should have washed it off then but didn’t since my hair is resistant to color.

Redken platinum ice after processing for 20 minutes

Redken platinum ice after processing for 20 minutes

So I bravely waited the full 20 minutes. I was going to get rid of that yellow no matter what.

As I was rinsing the mixture out of my hair in the shower, I could see it was no longer yellow. Mission accomplished!

I dried my hair and discovered it had turned a strange purple brown color—not even close to the platinum ice swatch.

after redken platinum ice

After toning my hair with Redken platinum ice

Now I desperately hoped that it would wash out fast. And here’s the good news for people who like the color they got, it stays in a very long time. Of course that was bad news for me.

The next washing I brought out my harshest shampoo and scrubbed and scrubbed my hair. About half the color came out. The next time, a little more came out. Finally by the fourth washing it was pretty much all gone. It lasted a month through four vigorous washings with my cheap Suave shampoo. I only shampoo once a week.

Oddly enough, as the color was fading it retained that purple brown hue. It never did fade to silver, or platinum or anything resembling ice.

And I’m back to drab yellow hair.

Redken platinum ice pros and cons

The pros

It’s easy to use
The color is long lasting
It made my hair feel soft

The cons

Well, don’t do what I did and leave it on too long. And make sure you pick the right color in the first place. I think I would have gotten a better color by mixing 09V platinum ice with 09T chrome

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Brunette to platinum to ?