Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, pt. 2

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I have now been using Dr. Bronner’s for about 3 or 4 months.   I’m a convert.  This soap works REALLY well for my hair, and works fine for my skin.

The hair thing is kind of unbelievable.  As I said, I have baby fine hair that gets weighed down by EVERYTHING I put in it.  And I live in a climate so humid the air conditioners can’t handle it.  Oh, and I have also come to realize, over the past few months as I have been changing my lifestyle, that I sweat from my head.  As in, I can spend a hard 30 minutes on the treadmill pushing myself, and I will have sweat pouring off my head in front and back – but my underarms? Dry as a bone.  I know, weird, but apparently, genetic since my mother is the same way.

And all summer long (except when actually working out), my hair was fluffy.  I mean, nice looking slightly volumized, fluffy.  Not static-y, because I used conditioner, but that weightlessness promised by so many products that FAIL for me.

My daughter, on the other hand, who has hair so massively thick we have to have the stylist thin it out  extensively, doesn’t like it as much.  So it’s not for everyone.  But if you have very thin hair that just lays there, you might give it a try.

I have also now tried the bar form, as well as the liquid form.  It works just as well, even for my hair.  I will say, though, that I believe the liquid has a stronger odor.  I have used both the peppermint liquid and the peppermint bar.  The liquid made me go, “Well that’s PEPPERMINT” (but in a good way).  The bar was more like, “hmmmm, if I stick it up to my nose , I can detect the aroma of peppermint”.  For both products, the smell washes away with the soap, which is nice if you don’t want it competing with your perfume or body spray.

I have tried the following:

  • Peppermint (L) – very strong peppermint smell, like a peppermint candy; be careful of fumes on face
  • Peppermint (B) – much weaker smell, I didn’t worry about the fumes, but I would still be careful of getting this in your eyes
  • Tea Tree (L) – strong herbal smell, not my favorite, but it makes you think “clean” – like the smell of bleach does
  • Lavender (L) – strong herbal smell, not sweet at all
  • Almond (B) – ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!! I am in love with this smell, and can’t wait to try it in liquid form.  This is sweeter than the lavender but not really “sweet”.

I like the fact that the smells are more like the essential oils than like a candy version.  It makes me think the Rose scent would be really lovely if you like walking through a garden.  I wonder if showering with a combination of the Peppermint and Eucalyptus scents would give me the same effect as those Vick’s Shower Soothers from years ago – I loved those when I was stopped up.

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Trivial Details – Shoes

Do you know what shoes you’re wearing to Convention yet?  I do.  I just got them.  I love them.  Well, I will love them, once I have them broken in. 🙂  Are YOUR shoes broken in, yet?

I have super wide feet, and they are so fat that they are really tall, too, around the arch area (but my arch is fairly normal).  Which means, I have a hard time finding shoes.  If I actually find shoes my size, they are size 9EEEE (US).  Which means, I am pretty much limited to these.  So attractive, right?  Blech. (I do have a pair of these sneakers for walking, I’m almost ready to replace them, though, they’ve already seen over 150 miles in the past couple of months)

So, I generally have to buy men’s wide shoes and hope they fit and don’t look too “manly”, or get the widest women’s shoes in a size 10 or larger, and still my feet hang over the edges.  This is why I have a purse addiction instead of a shoe addiction.  Shoe shopping is no fun when nothing fits.

But I needed something that would look nice under my navy pants, and would work for walking around a convention hall, and around downtown Salt Lake City.  I’m a Quilt Festival veteran, so I know how important wearing comfy shoes is when you go to a convention.  I would love to wear sneakers, but as I said, I want to look nice. (I’m bringing my sneakers, though – I need them for working out each morning, so I will have them as a back up.)

So the search began.  And it has been long and hard.  Finally I found something promising.  Black ankle boots.  Plain toes.  Elastic gores on each side of the ankle.  And to top it off,  when I read reviews which talk about men having to add an insert because the shoes are just too wide, my heart starts racing.  Reviews that say they feel like mature versions of Doc Marten’s.  O. M. G.  Sold!!  Look at the nice round, boxy toe.  Real leather uppers that will stretch and eventually form fit to my feet.  Lug(ish) soles for traction on slippery convention floors, or for urban hiking, or for camping with my girls.

Now I just have to break them in, an hour or so of wearing every day around the house, plus maybe 10 minutes of just walking; and they should be just perfect by Convention.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap

A while ago, I wondered if Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap was all that it was reported to be. From travel websites to camping websites, it is spoken of in the hushed tones reserved for holy relics.  I wanted to see how it stacked up as a travel product, and how it worked with my finicky hair and skin.

My hair is super fine and super straight.  We are talking so straight and flat that when I have tried to get perms in the past, they fell out by the end of the day.  It used to be that my usual hairstyle was waist length hair, twisted into a knot on the top of my head, easy and it doesn’t matter how thin it is.  (But people were always amazed when I took my hair down because it looks like it would be shoulder length when it is in a bun.)

My skin is red head fair (though my hair hasn’t been red since I was a baby), sensitive and freckled.  For some reason, my body has decided that my 30’s would be the perfect time to have major acne breakouts, instead of my teens.

20140614-082913-30553858.jpgI got a 2 oz. bottle of lavender to take on our trip to San Antonio in June, to see how I liked using just it in a hotel room.  I also wanted to see how much I used.  As you can see, using nothing but this soap for my hair, my body, and some light laundry duty for five days (showering everyday)  I used about half the bottle.  I enjoyed the very herby scent of the lavender, but it may not be for everyone – this is not sweet, but a true lavender smell.  San Antonio has hard water, similar to Houston; so the soap took some coaxing to lather up nicely, but it washed away very quickly and cleanly.  As suggested by several websites, I also used a conditioner to keep my hair my from getting completely dried out.

I also got an 8 oz. bottle of the peppermint scent, to use at home in a controlled environment.  I have to admit, I was curious about the peppermint zing I read about, too.  Well, yeah, it zings, allright!  Once you figure out how to lather up correctly, the longer you let the peppermint soap sit on your body, the more it feels cool and tingly. Especially anywhere you might have a cut or scratch.

I did not try it out as toothpaste.  I just couldn’t bring myself to put soap in my mouth.

My son also used the peppermint, and loves it – but he has a serious thing for peppermint in all forms.

So, my reactions?

  • Out of the bottle, in the shower, the scents are kind of intense, but they quickly fade as the soap gets washed down the drain.
  • I’m not sure I would recommend these as shampoo for people with already dry hair – they seriously strip all the oils off your hair!  And if you have normal hair, I definitely agree with using a conditioner every time.
  • But, that being said, it was amazing for my hair!  My hair dried very quickly without a blowdryer, and fluffed out as it dried – something which doesn’t normally happen, even with “volumizing” shampoos.  I got a pretty style without the need for gel, mousse, or hairspray – which all weigh my hair down and make me sweat when I go outside in the heat and humidity.
  • As a soap it worked as well as other soaps (I tend to use handmade goats milk soaps, or Ivory).  It didn’t make my skin crawl with dryness like Ivory, but it didn’t moisturize as well as the goats milk soap.
  • It didn’t make me break out any worse than I normally do, but I would not recommend using the peppermint for your face.  The fumes get very intense, and the peppermint oil in the soap is not fun to have that close to your eye area (I did not get any IN my eyes, but the delicate skin around them sure reacted!).  Look into “beezin” for info on why peppermint oil near the eyes is bad.

I am worried about taking it to the desert, though.  It worked well in a humid area, and I didn’t notice too much dryness with my skin or hair – but Utah will be a different story.  I remember that the way that first rush of desert air feels when you leave the airport – my gills hurt just thinking about it! 🙂

Does anyone have any experience with using Dr. Bronner’s while traveling to the desert?  Preferably from a highly humid region. *grins* Thanks!

 

Hotel Cooking, the Grocery List and Traveling Kitchen

My menu was made to try to not have the same meal over and over again, but to use the same items over and over again so they get completely consumed.  Kind of like a capsule wardrobe, only for food. 🙂  Here’s my grocery list, in case you want to replicate this menu:

  • 1 loaf of sliced bread
  • 4 muffins
  • 1 pack pita breads
  • 1 box granola cereal
  • 1 box couscous
  • 1 quart of milk
  • 1 quart of vanilla yoghurt
  • 1 stick butter (or whatever the smallest amount you can buy)
  • Salad dressing
  • 1 pound sliced turkey
  • 4 slices muenster cheese (or whatever you think would go well with turkey)
  • 6 oz. hummus
  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 1 single serving cup of applesauce (you only need about 2 T. per sandwich)
  • 4 bananas
  • 1 pint strawberries
  • container pre peeled and cut carrot and celery sticks (or baby carrots)
  • 1 cucumber
  • bag of mixed greens
  • 2 tomatoes

Things I packed in my “kitchen”:

  • aluminum foil
  • paper plates
  • paper bowls
  • paper towels
  • spoons, forks, knives
  • serving spoon
  • large bowl for making salad and couscous
  • knife
  • small cutting board
  • ziptop bags for leftovers
  • a couple of plastic grocery bags to use as garbage bags
  • soap for dishes

I don’t think the housekeeping staff should have to clean up after we use the room not quite as the hotel intended, so I intend to make sure everything gets cleaned up by us.  Which is why all the disposables – again, I would rather spend my time with my family than washing dishes, and I definitely DON’T want to be trying to fish couscous out of the drain because my 7 year old forgot to wipe his plate clean.  The disposables all come from my stash of old birthday party tableware and take out utensils, though, so I’m not being completely wasteful.

Delegate Wear

I have been going over and over the bazillion travel capsule wardrobe plans out there on the internet. I think they are a great idea, especially if you want to pack very lightly. But no one has really designed one for my specific need – being a Delegate at the National Girl Scout Meeting and Convention. Almost every capsule starts with the premise that you should have a foundation of black, because black goes with everything.  Many will give lip service to the idea of using other neutrals, like beige, brown, white, ivory, or navy – but they rarely show examples.  The Vivienne Files does have quite a few posts that focus on navy, as do some other sites, but many of those do not focus on formal business attire.  So, what is an adventurer to do?  Make her own.

The Rules:

  1. Navy formal business attire for Council Sessions.  Three days of them.  Don’t want to wear the same thing three days in a row.
  2. Try not to buy things I will never wear again.
  3. Must look good with the Girl Scout Scarf – so orange and red are out.  Would be anyway, since I don’t wear them.  Ever.
  4. I might get to walk around the Hall of Experiences, or do other things where I can wear casual clothes.
  5. I’m not wearing a suit on the plane.
  6. There is a Delegate Dinner and Party I would like to look pretty and non-suity for.

Here is what I came up.

Delegate Wear

Navy Suit Jacket, White Scoopneck Tank Top, Blue GSSJC Polo (I already own), white button down, Girl Scout Legacy Scarf, Navy Scoopneck Tank Top, Green to Navy Ombre Overtunic, Khakis, Navy Suit Pants (The suit pieces are from Jessica London, the polo is Land’s End, the other four shirts are from Catherines, and I haven’t gotten the khakis yet.)

  • Travel days – khakis and polo
  • Casual Activities – Khakis and polo, khakis and white shirt, khakis and navy tank and white shirt
  • Council Sessions – suit pants and white tank and jacket, suit pants and navy tank and jacket, suit pants and white shirt
  • Dinner, Party, etc. – either pants and navy tank and overtunic

I love that overtunic.  It screams Girl Scouts to me while not screaming GIRL SCOUTS, if you understand what I mean.  It’s sheer and floaty – no way to wear it without a tank underneath, but that’s okay.  The tanks are the same as one of my favorite shirts I already owned – in black.  I love the fit, the thickness of the material, the length (have I mentioned I’m really tall?), the collar, and the shoulder area.  I like that they don’t have the usual tank straps, so under a jacket it looks like I am wearing a regular shirt without all the extra fabric making me hot on my arms.  I would never feel really comfortable wearing a full business suit with long sleeve white button down shirt under a jacket – the heat would kill me!

Next, I have to sort out shoes and accessories.

New Suitcase

Last time, I told you about how I took advantage of a sale at eBags to get my Village Tote.  I also took advantage of an Ibotta rebate of $20 back when you spend $100.  Well, gee.  My Village Tote WAS $94, but then it went on sale; so now I guess I’ll just have to do more shopping.  DARN.

But what to get?  Well, I wasn’t really as thrilled about carting my husband’s 10 year old boring black carry-on with the broken zipper around the airport as I made myself out to be, and heeeeeey . . .  Is that a 19″ carry-on with spinner wheels in BLUE????

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Yes, yes, it is.

She is a beaut, and brought my total to just over $100, getting me my rebate.  She’s probably not the sturdiest carry-on in the world, but since my flights are few and far between, I’m okay with that.  She stands out and she stands up on her own, which are two things important to me. She does have an expandable gusset, but I’m going to try to plan my packing so I won’t be needing it.  She has a nice arrangement of pockets, and her handle is just tall enough to go up through the sleeve in my Tote and still be grabbable.

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She’s got a pretty interior, too, doesn’t she?  She’s a Rockland Mariposa (and I think we’re seeing why I keep calling it a “she”, huh?).  When I ordered her, I couldn’t get a good read on whether she was going to be a good bag, because there were any reviews.  So I looked at similar Rockland bags.  The biggest complaint I saw was that the bags I was reading reviews of did not have any handles on the sides to help pick the bag up for loading into overheads and down into car trunks.  As you can see in this pic, they added some for the Mariposa model, which cinched it for me.  (There were other complaints, but this piece was not bought to travel the world nor run down cobblestone streets.  Airport to hotel to airport, and not that frequently.)

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She is NOT huge, and will definitely force me to not overpack, which is something I need.  I have too much of the “I need to be prepared for ANYTHING!” mentality right now, which is why I am keeping my upcoming trip simmering on the back burner in my head.  Tweaking in my mind what I really need versus what I just want.  Reading travel-light websites really helps with that.

But as much as I love the ideas presented on OneBag.com, I can’t go with a duffel bag, as he recommends.  I’ve done it.  And what I remember is waiting in line, scooting my bags along the floor as we inch closer and closer to whatever we’re waiting for (check in, security, coffee, whatever), or carrying them on my back and shoulders, and no, thanks.  I appreciate the fact that duffels will squish into tight spaces, and will probably use my well loved duffel again if we go back to Florida.  I love using my duffel for camping.  If I go traipsing around Europe with my Troop, I might even backpack it.  I don’t know what I would bring on my long dreamed of trip to Japan – besides at least one empty bag.  But for this trip, and future trips like it, where I want to travel light, but have to look good and professional at the end of the flight, I think this is what is going to work for me.

I guess I’ll be reporting back on that at the end of October, huh? 🙂 But I am going to do a test run, and pack for our roadtrip summer vacation like I was flying carry-on style.  Instead of business suits, it’ll be shorts and t-shirts, but I’ll get a good idea of how my luggage performs.

New Bag: Village Tote

So, my Village Tote has arrived! I think it is going to work out perfect for me. It’s not my perfect purse by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it is the perfect carry-on. It’s a lovely beige tote bag that doesn’t really read as a tote bag. It also has a gorgeous blue lining, I think Baggalini calls the combination mushroom/Caspian blue.

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Standard Tote Bag Construction. On the front, there are three pockets: a large one with a magnetic snap flap closure, a small zippered pocket that is hard to see behind it (I’m not sure what the intention is for it, maybe pens?), and a large zippered padded pocket that fits my iPad, even in the keyboard case I have for it (which doubles the thickness).

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There are also deep full width slip pockets on each side, big enough for a good sized water bottle or umbrella. And one of my carry-on requirements – a zip bottom slip pocket with a magnetic snap closure. The bottom can be unzipped to allow it to slide over the handle of a wheeled piece of luggage so I don’t have to constantly carry it on my shoulder in the airport.

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This picture shows all the STUFF that I put into the bag in the next pic. Top row: organizer, coin purse that came with the bag, wallet, sunglasses, pen, sharpie, post-its, flash drives, hygiene kit. Middle-ish row: iPad in keyboard case, mini purse, patches, and other swag from the 2011 Convention (to represent the 2014 swag), lip balm #1, hand lotion, iPad and iPhone charging cables. Bottom row: my GS thank you cards, first aid kit, more Convention swag, lip balms #2 & #3, screen cleaner, keys, post-it flags.

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And room for a pashmina, snacks, a notebook, a larger organizer, and some Convention souvenirs left! I wouldn’t want to carry it around fully loaded, but for the plane trip, this will work.

Oh, and since I couldn’t get a good list anywhere of the interior pockets, there are:

  • Front side: one elastic loop for pen, lipstick, or lip balm; fairly large zippered pocket – you know, the pocket EVERY purse has.
  • Back side: Another elastic loop, one accordion pleated slip pocket, two pen pockets (deep enough and wide enough for sharpies), and a flat slip pocket about iPhone sized.
  • Sides: One side has a removable leash for keys (I have my flash drives on it). The other has a leash for the removable coin purse. The leash can be removed, too, creating a handle for the coin purse.

So sorry for the awful fuzzy pictures. These are actually the SECOND set I took of the bag, because the first ones were too dark. I’m an adventurer, not a photographer, sorry. 🙂

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This is probably how I will normally carry it. Not nearly as full. Oh, and that coin purse? I have plans for it. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!