Friday, May 31, 2013

No shampoo, 30 days later.

You may notice that I only say "no shampoo," as opposed to "no shampoo, as well as the oil cleansing method." More on that later...

The last time I used shampoo was Tuesday, April 30th, the day of my Junior Standing Jury here at EIU (which I passed, by the way). Since then, my hair has gone through tremendous ups and downs. Some good, some bad, and some in between. I should have taken a picture that day, but silly me, I didn't think of it. Here are some pictures that were taken within a month of me starting this challenge:

Cooking tofu stir fry, of course. See my hair? Long, pretty thin, kind of dull and limp.

Dad and I at the greenhouse. My hair is long, as you can see, but it's pretty thin and limp.

Here's the low down:

Week 1:
Hair was disgusting. After four days I used a ton of baking soda. Hair felt cleaner, but still really oily compared to what I was used to. So I waited two days and used more. I continued this for the first week. My hair still felt sticky, or damp, or something, but the ends were somewhat dry, even though I was using apple cider vinegar.

Week 2:
One day this week, I curled my hair for a concert. It was the weirdest smell--like burning scalp--even though I had used the baking soda. The curls barely held, because I didn't want to put anything in my hair to hold them. That was frustrating, but I continued trying. Still keeping up with the every other day baking soda washes, my hair was feeling incredibly sticky and frizzy in the back of my head, even though my hair looked clean. I wasn't sure what was going on. I also noticed my hair feeling especially tangled, which got me pretty bummed.

Week 3:
Dry. My hair was so dry, I thought it was all going to break off. It was incredibly tangled, still, but dry, frizzy, and just not feeling right. I ended up putting some vegetable glycerin in it one night (before I went to bed) toward the end of this week, which helped a lot, but it was still feeling pretty dry the next day.

Week 4:
This week started off much like the previous week. My hair was okay, but pretty dry. Then, on Saturday, the 25th day of no shampoo, something happened. My hair felt absolutely glorious. So soft, very little frizz, volume, and the ends were hydrated and healthy looking! Here's the thing, though. That morning, I took my shower at a house about two hours south of where I live, where there is very, very soft water. So I was left to wonder, can a difference in water really change things that much? Since then, though, my hair has still been pretty soft.


This challenge has been pretty interesting. It was really difficult for the first week or two, and in the end, am I totally happy with my hair? Well, I'm not sure yet! I think I need another few weeks to really decide. My hair is definitely much softer at the top, and much more voluminous, too. That's the really big thing I've noticed--so much more natural volume to my hair. It feels like it isn't being weighed down. However, the ends are dryer than I'd like, in general, and my hair tangles so easily--it can be a huge hassle to de-tangle it in the morning. I have a feeling this is because it's so long, though. This is why I'd like to give this challenge at least a few more weeks before I make a final decision. Below is a picture of me with my 'poo-free hair. Completely natural. Washed with baking soda, rinsed with ACV, air-dried, and brushed.

Hair. Feels healthy, looks fairly healthy.

So what about the oil cleansing method?

Well, about a week and a half in, my face broke out like crazy. I mean, really, really bad. Maybe it had nothing to do with it--who knows! However, I was desperate, so I switched to using only the Castile Soap with tea tree oil, then used aloe and tea tree oil as a moisturizer/acne fighter. My face is looking really good these days. I am still sort of experimenting, but I've found that the Castile Soap is working great as a cleanser, and I alternate between vegetable glycerin and coconut oil as a moisturizer. It has been working really well.

Friday, May 24, 2013

How do we teach music?

While I may not bring it up too often in this blog, my primary "job" is a musician, and more importantly, a music teacher. And though I may not yet have my degree, I give bassoon lessons to several students, and have recently found myself with opportunities to instruct larger groups of young musicians.

Pictured below is a very influential woman in my life, Mrs. Ginger Stanfield. Mrs. Stanfield recently had her very last concert, after teaching band for 35 years. She was my beginning band director 10 years ago, and fortunately, as I have lived in the same town since then, we have kept in touch. As a music education major, I have done much of my observation time with her. Through this, I have seen both sides of the process: I was once her student, and now, as a future music educator, I have observed the meaning behind her methods.

I believe there are two key things Mrs. Stanfield does that make a difference:
1. System. There is a noticeable system in her band room, and the students know it. They follow all of her guidelines, and they know exactly what the consequences will be if they don't. She sets up classroom management from the very first day.
1. Music. Mrs. Stanfield not only teaches the students how to make sounds on their instruments. She teaches them dynamics, phrasing, and musicianship from the very beginning. It may not sound as beautiful as we'd like, as these are only fifth and sixth graders. However, they are learning music.

I believe these two things are the key to starting musicians, as opposed to starting a beginning band.

But back to my story...

I have taught several students so far in my college career, and it is easy to see the differences among how some students perceive music.

To one of my students particularly, music is all notes. Nothing more. Hardly even rhythm, sometimes. I can say 1,000 times how I'd love to hear this whole note go from a piano to a forte, and there will never be even the slightest difference. I can use analogies, examples, and spend 15 minutes on one whole note, and sadly, it will always be about two seconds long, mezzo forte, and have no purpose whatsoever.

I hope I'm not a bad teacher. I really do. My other students have been different, so that must mean something, right?

For example, one of my other students, who is about five years younger than the student I just mentioned, is a musician already. Not only does he play about three other instruments, but he plays bassoon like a real champ. I don't say this because he plays the right notes. I say this because as a 12 year old, he follows the dynamics, takes breaths where they naturally occur, and asks how he can make certain lines sound better.

Here's the thing. I think I have nothing to do with the above situations. I really think it's got nothing to do with me. I think it has to do with their first music teacher, or their first band director.

This is why I try not to get so bummed about the first student I mentioned. I just continue to teach lesson after lesson, waiting, because one day it's going to click. She's going to make the most beautiful sound on that bassoon, and the reason I'm going into music education will, once again, seem just right.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Quinoa Vegetable Salad.

I am generally guilty of eating a lot of wraps and sandwiches for lunch. And of course these things can be awesome (and they usually are), but when I kept seeing this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to check it out. The original recipe comes from The Garden Grazer, and it can be found here. Through this recipe, I also found the blog itself to be wonderful, and I would highly recommend looking at it! But back to this delicious recipe. I changed it just a little from the original, so I would recommend taking a look at both to see which suits your tastes!

You will need:
1 cup of uncooked quinoa
1 can of garbanzo beans (mine was 14oz)
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 bell pepper (I used green because it was what I had at the time)
1 can of corn, rinsed and drained
4 green onions (more or less to taste!)
2 tbs olive oil
1.5 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp dried basil
feta crumbles to taste (omit for vegan diets, of course!)
fresh ground pepper to taste

To do:
Cook your quinoa according to these instructions, if you have never done it before. Meanwhile, make your dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, and basil. Set it aside. Chop the veggies into small pieces, drain the corn and garbanzo beans, and set aside. Combine everything, including dressing, into a large bowl, and mix thoroughly. Add feta, if desired. Season with fresh ground pepper, and mix again.

I have had this in the fridge for five days now (I just finished the last of it) and it kept just fine. Make a big batch and eat on it for a while. Yum!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Why I am a vegetarian.

I was not raised on a vegetarian diet.

I have been a vegetarian for about eight years. Being 20 years old, that is creeping on half of my life.

I don't have a suavely-formulated philosophy to back up my dietary choices. This post is not meant to persuade you to go vegetarian. While I would love for everyone to go vegetarian, I know this will never happen. I'm not being pessimistic. I am simply noting that we all view the world differently.

While I compare human trafficking (which many of us will immediately label as "wrong") to the way that factory farm animals are treated, you may not see it that way.

While you may be "pro-life," yet have something dead on your plate, maybe you see that as perfectly fine.

You'd never eat a dog, would you? How is your pet dog any different from the cow you just ate?

You may watch documentaries like Food, Inc., and say, "Oh my God, I'll never eat meat again!" Tomorrow, it will probably still be on your plate.

This I have come to terms with.

And I am trying to understand all of this, just as you are attempting to understand the way I see things.

I just think every life is beautiful. Whether it's a millionaire here in the United States who owns a restaurant or two, a child in Kenya who is fetching water for her family, or a mouse rooting through my family's trash. They are all beautiful lives.

I am a vegetarian because I share approximately 80% of my genes with cattle. (source)

I am a vegetarian because it takes 2,500 gallons of fresh water to produce one pound of beef, and over 3,000 children die everyday due to lack of access to fresh water. (source)

I am a vegetarian because worldwide, 60 billion animals each year are processed for human consumption, not including fish. (M.C. Appleby, Ed., et al, Long Distance Transport and Welfare of Farm Animals, Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI), 2008.)

I am a vegetarian because the "need" (to many people) for frog legs has left our world with 120 less amphibian species over the last several decades. (source)

I am a vegetarian because 870 million people in the world do not have enough to eat, and the US alone could feed 800 million of them with the grain it uses to maintain its livestock used for meat production. (source)

I am a vegetarian because I can't read the facts about how factory farm animals are treated without crying, which is why this list ends here.

I am a vegetarian because those pigs on that truck did not do a thing wrong.

I am a vegetarian because as a child, I was taught to be kind.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Thrift Store Curtain, or Cloth Napkins?

Yesterday, while looking around at our local thrift store, I found a valance-type curtain for 75 cents. My boyfriend Mark was in need of some place mats and cloth napkins for his place, so I hoped there would be enough material to meet those needs.

For the cloth napkins, I followed this tutorial. They turned out great.

For the place mats, I used the same concept to sew the napkins, but used one of my own place mats as a guide for measurements. They are a little thin, as I didn't have a nice fabric to line them with (in the future, I will definitely do that), but I am pleased with how they turned out. I had enough leftover material to make a nice little lavender sachet, too.

All of this for 75 cents? Thrift stores are the way to go.

Now, for an update. It has been a week since I transitioned to the "no shampoo method." It isn't easy, when you're used to shampooing daily. However, I am getting better at it, I think. I've been using a solution of water, baking soda, and a drop of tea tree oil every few days, then rinsing with apple cider vinegar. My hair is really long, so I don't think the ends are getting quite enough hydration. They are feeling very, very dry. I am looking to see if I can find any alternative solutions.

As for my face, the oil cleansing method, so far, is going well. I have not noticed a big change in my skin, other than not having to moisturize as often. More updates to come.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A more natural cleansing routine...

Today is May 1st, and today is the day that I am officially changing my personal cleansing routine.

I've been experimenting for a while, and I have settled on my decision:

1. For my face, I will be using the oil cleansing method.
2. For my hair, I am going shampoo-free.

Why try these methods, you ask? Look here and here.

Wish me luck!

Potato Taco Salad.

This meal is easy. This meal is delicious. This meal is filling.

A layer of small, chopped potatoes (but you could use larger chunks!). A layer of beans. Topped with vegetables. Yum. This serves one, but uses a big recipe of beans, because I like to save them for leftovers. Adjust accordingly.

You will need:

1/2 cup small chopped potatoes (cooked and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little garlic)
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can diced tomatoes and chiles
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic, minced or whatever
1 tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tbs taco seasoning
2 tbs orange juice
vegetables to top (I like using fajitas--made with peppers, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, etc.)

To do:

To make the beans, use a saucepan on medium heat, and saute the garlic and onions in a bit of olive oil. Add beans, tomatoes, orange juice, and seasonings. Cook on low to medium heat for 30 minutes or so. Meanwhile, you can saute some peppers and whatever else you'd like for fajitas. If not, use fresh vegetables--it's up to you! Put the potatoes in the bowl first, followed by the beans in vegetables. Dress with sour cream, Sriracha, cheese, etc. Enjoy!