Posted by wendiwendy
Paige is home for spring break this week, although it’s not technically spring yet (and the weather here in Illinois reflects that). She requested a week of just hanging out and relaxing, with home-cooked meals, so the biggest excitement so far this week has been a trip to the beauty supply store.
I bought GVP Sculpting Mousse, which I’ve never tried before, and Paige was checking it out. We both have curly hair, but hers is long, full and gorgeous, with more of a slight wave on top and then super-curly curls on the bottom. For the past three years I’ve been really into the “curly girl” method of hair care, and I spend a lot of time over at NaturallyCurly.com reading forums and keeping up on new products and ways to keep my hair healthy, and the curls curly instead of limp or frizzy. Paige, however, just isn’t that into the mechanics of her gorgeous hair, and I can tell it frustrates her when I get a little overzealous.
She tried the mousse, and we both exclaimed over how good it smelled (she called it Pina Colada, I called it Coconut Cream Pie). After she put it in her hair, I said, “Oh, now you have to scrunch it up to get the curl going.” I started to scrunch the bottom of her hair and she backed away. “MOM. I don’t want that.” I kind of froze and realized that I’m the one who really likes to scrunch and get my curl going; Paige prefers more of a beach wave and doesn’t necessarily want the tight curls that come so naturally to her.
This happened a lot as my kids were growing up. When they’re babies, you think of them as little versions of you. (Or at least I did!) I imagined all the things I’d do with them as they grew up – all the books from my childhood I couldn’t wait to share with them, all the activities I enjoyed so much. Eric came along first, and as he grew from a baby to a toddler I started to get an inkling that he wasn’t going to share in a lot of my interests. I spent a lot of time coming up with crafts we could do together, but it didn’t take long to realize he didn’t have the attention span for most of them. He hated getting his hands dirty, so clay, ‘goop’ (the cornstarch and water stuff) and even finger paints kind of freaked him out.
By the time he was three, it was obvious he preferred pretend games. He loved action figures, transformers, trains, anything where he could create a little world for his ‘guys’ and their vehicles. This bored me to tears, although I’d gamely sit down and try to play along. (My dad was much better at this!)
By the time Paige came along, when Eric was four, I was so used to not bothering with any kind of craft or painting activity that it took me a while to realize she might actually like it. By the time I started her on crafts, she was old enough to just want to do it herself.
Same with books – I envisioned sitting with her and introducing her to Laura Ingalls Wilder when she was old enough. That day came, I brought out the books I’d saved from my childhood…and Paige was not interested. “Eh, they’re kind of boring,” she said, as she turned back to the books she preferred (on animals and babysitting). I couldn’t believe it! How could neither of my kids enjoy Laura, or A Wrinkle in Time?! It was just another lesson for me – they aren’t me. They each had their own interests, separate from me.
I know my own mom must have seen this with me – I was quiet and shy, while my mom was outgoing and the life of the party. I preferred to stay alone in my room, reading, while she implored me to give friends a call to see if they wanted to hang out, or go to parties, or anything to get me out of the house. I would spend hours writing letters to pen pals or just listening to music in my room. I know she probably thought I was sad and lonely, because I imagine she would have felt that way if she was alone as much as I was as a kid. But I liked it – I’m really an introvert, and it exhausts me to be around big groups of people after a while. We were just different. When I was a kid, I kind of felt bad, like I wasn’t the type of daughter my mom wanted. Now that I’ve grown up and had my own kids, I can completely see where she was coming from. It just takes a while to realize that these little people you created will grow up and be so separate from you, with totally different personalities and interests.
So now I just try to enjoy my two very different, very individual children for the people they are. They introduce me to new interests, and they tolerate me when I slip up and forget they aren’t younger versions of me. (No more scrunching, Paige — I promise!)
Posted by wendiwendy
If you have curly hair, or have a loved one or friend with curly hair, this might interest you. If you like making stuff, this might interest you. If making a slimy, snotty hair gel from flax seeds doesn’t sound like fun, this might not interest you.
I first found out about flax seed gel over on the NaturallyCurly.com CurlTalk message boards. For the past year, I’ve been playing around with different things to try to make my naturally curly hair healthier and less frizzy. I’ve been learning about my hair type and what ingredients work well in my hair, so that when I pick out hair products (cleanser, conditioner, stylers) I know what to look for and what to avoid.
When I started all of this last year, it was March and we were just entering spring in Illinois. Temperatures were going up, humidity and dew point were rising…all good things for my hair. Humidity really makes my curls pop! So I had a fairly easy time of it, going into summer (which was one of the hottest, most miserable summers I can remember in recent times…ugh) and most of the products I tried worked fairly well. About the only ingredient that can make my hair look frizzy and unruly in summer weather is aloe, so after trying straight aloe vera gel as a styler, I never tried it again.
But flax seed gel really appealed to me…something I could easily find at the grocery store and make at home. I already lean towards the ‘make it yourself’ camp and I’ve dabbled in making my own soaps and lotions, so this was right up my alley.
What recently brought me back to flax seed gel after a long hiatus (while I tried various store-bought stylers) was my experience with these stylers during winter. I learned that my hair doesn’t do well with lots of humectants – if they are high up in the ingredient deck (i.e., in larger quantity than other ingredients) I will end up with frizzy, flat, nasty-looking hair.
This means glycerin, panthenol, honey, propylene glycol…if I see those ingredients listed in the first few ingredients of my gel, curl cream or conditioner (I don’t use shampoo), then I most likely will not like the results if the humidity and dew point are low. Unfortunately, the majority of curl creams and gels out there use these ingredients. But flax seed gel is one humectants-free styler I found that works really, really well for me in the winter. I learned my lesson and will make sure I always have a bottle of this stuff waiting for me in the fridge!
I use this after my leave-in conditioner – I use quite a bit of flax seed gel (I’ve found that I can’t use too much, really) and rake it through or comb it through at first, to make sure all of my hair is saturated. Then I lean over and scrunch, scrunch, scrunch with both hands…each side and then flip my head to scrunch my hair upside down. After this I add gel, because I need a little extra hold…even though this is called flax seed gel, the consistency is really more like slime/snot! I use either LA Looks Sport Gel (very cheap, at most stores), EcoStyler Gel (another cheapy, I get it at Sally Beauty Supply), Biotera Gel (Sally Beauty) or Kiss My Face Upper Management Gel. I scrunch in the gel, let my hair dry, and once it’s dry I scrunch out any ‘crunch’ from the gel.
So that’s how I style my hair, and this is how I make flax seed gel…it’s really fun!
First, I take ¼ cup of flax seeds. This is what they look like:
Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl that is deep enough so the gel can get through without the strainer touching the bottom. Also have a small wire whisk handy, and any additives you plan to use. (I use ½ tsp of vitamin E for preservative, and a few drops of mint essential oil to add a nice scent.) You’ll also need a container for the final gel – one that will hold 4-5 oz should be fine.
Measure 1 cup of water. (Note: this picture is of half a cup, because I was making a half-batch when I took it.)
You can use tap water or distilled, or you can do what I did and use water that has ¼ cup of marshmallow root steeping in it. You absolutely do not have to use marshmallow root!! I like it because it adds some slip and I happened to already have it from my lotion-making days. If you do infuse your water with marshmallow root, make sure to strain all the marshmallow root before you start making your gel. (This is why my water is not clear, and why my flax seed gel ended up an amber color.)
Add the flax seeds to the water in a small saucepan and turn the heat to high.
Stir every now and then, to keep the seeds moving around so they don’t stick to the pan.
When your water starts to boil, start stirring continuously.
You really need to keep an eye on the gel because the next steps happen pretty quickly. When you start seeing foam and the consistency of the water turns to a thin jelly, turn the heat down a bit and keep stirring. When you see the seeds suspended in the liquid instead of sinking down, turn off the heat. It will still look pretty liquidy, but believe me, you don’t want to cook longer than this or you will never be able to strain your gel!
Give your seeds a final stir and immediately pour the gel and seeds through the strainer.
I use the spoon to kind of stir and push the gel through (you can also scrape the bottom of the strainer, because gel will collect there). It won’t look like a huge amount of gel but you can easily double the recipe if this isn’t enough for you. This recipe gives me enough gel to last for a week or two, using it every other day or every few days.
While your gel and seeds are straining, soak your pot with some water…you don’t want the gel to dry in there because it can be a pain to wash! You can either dump your seeds into the trash or you can put them into a Ziploc bag and reuse them – I can get one or sometimes even two more uses out of a batch of seeds this way. Just pop them into the freezer until you need them again.
At this point, you can add any additives (you don’t need to add anything, but you should keep your gel in the fridge to help it last longer if you don’t use any type of preservative). Give your gel a good whisk and then pour it into your bottle or container.
And that’s it! It sounds kind of convoluted but it’s a fast process…definitely less than 10 minutes.
Once you get past the squick factor because of the consistency (it really is kind of slippery and snotty-feeling), you may find that you love flax seed gel as much as I do!