On Wedding Brain and Bridal Solidarity

Last week, I made more progress towards planning my wedding. I met with our caterer and his assistants at our venue and went through the logistics. And we got our license (less than six months away!). It was exciting to see things start coming together, and it gave me an excuse to take an entire day off work and think about nothing but wedding, which is important for a bride planning an event.

Then, I also learned that a coworker had gotten engaged, so of course, I went by her desk to congratulate her. But I also offered her the support of a sympathetic ear if she ever wants to obsess about wedding planning and it seems like everyone else around her is sick of it. Because this struggle is real.

I really never thought I would be *that* bride, the one who was obsessed with swatches and decorations and everything. But here we are. I’ve even planned a wedding before, but it was a much smaller event and took place rather quickly (four months from proposal to wedding). Plus, I was in school at the time, so I didn’t have as much mental free energy to waste.

This time around, I have all the mental energy to waste on it. And I’m planning a more elaborate event. And, of course, second-guessing every choice I make. For example: I recently decided what would actually be my “dream” wedding and it’s pretty far from what we’re planning.

My Dream: We wake up in the morning, put on nice clothes, and drive out to a little vintage chapel near our house, where we can have a simple, humanist ceremony, with whoever is up to join us. Then, we come back to the house and host a big luncheon/open house for friends and family, mostly in our back yard, with the option of squeezing inside if it rains. Simple, classic, and very old-fashioned.

Instead: The only concrete input Fiancé has given in terms of what he wants (it’s his first marriage) is that he wants to have a dance party for his friends. So dancing is a must. Given that, we have to rent a hall. And, honestly, we first met and became close going to dance lessons together, so it makes sense. We dance at everyone else’s weddings; of course we’re going to dance at our own.

So there I go again. Before I devolve into discussing caterers and music equipment, I’m going to stop myself. Wedding brain is real. It occupies prime mental real estate. And I know I’ve annoyed even the most wedding-obsessed of my non-planning friends.

So I’ve extended the branch of wedding brain acceptance to another woman going through it, in the hope that we can support each other. Forming a grand sisterhood of the wedding brain. And isn’t that what support is all about?

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Beauty First Impression: Deciem’s Hair is Fabric (HIF) one-step hair cleansing conditioners

This is going to be a bit of an odd beauty review post, as I usually test a beauty product for a bit longer before writing a review, but hair products fall in a bit of a grey area with that. Personally, I tend to know if I’m going to like a hair product or not within the first couple of times I use it. Sometimes something happens and I realize I don’t actually like something so much, or I won’t pay attention and not realize I like it for a while, but the first impression is generally where my opinion stays. So. First impressions.

Deciem’s HIF brand is a line of one-step cleansing conditioners intended to mimic the gentle treatment of dry cleaning, but for your hair. Now, as a person with very long hair, I’ve completely absorbed the advice to “treat your hair like an antique lace table cloth.” I mean, the ends of my hair are around 3-4 years old and cannot be repaired if damaged. So I went into this intrigued and appreciative of the idea. But still apprehensive because my scalp loathes having conditioner on it and traditional co-washing has never been a success for me. But HIF products actually use foaming agents to cleanse, so I was curious if they would work.

So first a bit about my hair. I have very thick, very dark, pretty long hair. It’s about to my mid-back right now, with mostly blunt ends. It has a very slight wave to it naturally, but it goes stick straight if I blow dry it (without even brushing) and it will hold a wave if I keep it in a bun or braid for a while. My scalp is pretty balanced, but does get greasy a couple days after washing, and my ends will get a bit dry solely because they are so long and natural oils don’t tend to travel down that far. My typical hair routine is a very cleansing shampoo applied just to the scalp and a nourishing condition applied just to the lengths and ends, followed with a few drops of oil on the very end after I’ve towel-dried it. I tend to lose a fair amount of hair when I wash, which is about three times per week. I use handmade, seamless combs from an Etsy vendor as my primary method of detangling.

Okay, so on to the conditioners. I started by purchasing two of the formulas — Intensive Detox and Straight Hair Support –but later purchased two more — Hydration Support and Growth Support. I have varying opinions of the individual formulas, but my primary general impression is that the line is probably aimed more towards people with shorter hair than I have. But since I’m considering cutting my hair after I get married, that’s not a dealbreaker. And of course, there are exceptions.

Intensive Detox: First, I tried the Intensive Detox formula because it was Sunday and I hadn’t washed my hair all weekend. It’s an interesting formula. It’s a very thick gel that goes milky when mixed with water and lathers up nicely. It’s quite concentrated so I found the best way to apply it was to put little blobs in my hands, lather them with added water, and apply to a section of my scalp. It took maybe 3 sections to get my whole scalp, and then another blob lathered and applied to the length. I wound it into a bun with an acrylic fork and let it do its thing while I did the rest of my shower. Then, rinse and see what we have. First of all, the scent is decidedly invigorating. I found when it dripped, it stung my eyes a bit. But it’s not a bad scent, just kind of minty-herbal. Second, I definitely lost quite a bit less hair than usual. I wonder if it’s because I only applied and rinsed once, though. Finally, in the shower, I noticed that after rinsing my hair actually did feel conditioned, which was surprising. That said, after my hair dried, I’m not sure it looked as smooth as when I condition it separately. But it wasn’t bad, and it looked just as nice as usual when kept in a braid or bun.

Straight Hair Support: This one is definitely the stinker of the bunch. And I mean that literally. In the tube, it had a light “clean” scent, but as soon as I applied it (using the same technique as above), it blossomed into a heavy, Axe-body-spray-like scent that I do not enjoy. It persists as long as your hair is the least bit damp, which made it all the worse that I used it to wash my hair in the morning and didn’t have a chance to dry it completely before putting it up. Ugh. It’s a creamy consistency, but I don’t find it much more conditioning than the Detox formula. At least the scent faded to the generic “clean” scent once I let my hair dry completely. But, no, I will not be repurchasing this one.

Hydration Support: This one has my favorite scent. It’s a very light, unisex, clean scent that lingers in an enjoyable way without getting stronger when mixed with water. While this formula isn’t supposed to foam at all, I found I got a bit of lather from it while applying it. My hair felt the most conditioned after using this one and I didn’t see any scalp irritation or increased hair fall from it. Indeed, like with the others, I seem to lose less hair when using this. I would probably be a perfectly happy camper to alternate between this one and the Detox formula, which is particularly fortuitous because they are the least expensive of the line. That said…

Growth Support: It irritates me to no end that this formula has left my hair the nicest of any of the four I tried because it is also the most expensive. Like the Detox, this is a gel formula, and I applied it much the same way. I actually gave this plenty of time to sit on my hair because I shaved my legs while it was “activating.” It smells a bit like chai and TweedCat decided that my wet hair smelled like something she should try to eat. It’s not terrible, but not my preferred hair scent. But it fades pretty quickly in dry hair. But oh my goodness, my hair is shiny and soft this morning. I woke up and was so entranced by the softness of my braid tassel that I made Fiancé feel it. So nice.

So there you have my first impressions of the Deciem HIF cleansing conditioners. I will definitely be repurchasing the Intensive Detox and the Hydration Support, and I will consider repurchasing the Growth Support if I continue to like it so much after using it for a few weeks. Have any of you tried this line? I’d be curious to hear your experiences.

Update: I have since realized that these cleansing conditioners do not condition my long hair sufficiently, and may actually be exacerbating a small patch of eczema on one ear, so I’m definitely not going to repurchase. I may use them once in a while between my normal hair care routine, though, particularly the Hydration Support, but for now, I’m encouraging Fiancé to help me use them up.

Beauty Review: Hylamide Hydra-Density Mist

hlm-hydra-density-mist-120ml

Disclaimer: I generally don’t get sent products for review, but I feel the need to disclose that this was provided to me free of charge by Deciem. Not for a review, but because I literally placed an order the day before it was released and was annoyed because they don’t ever give any estimate as to when they’re going to release things. I complained on Instagram and they contacted me for the order number and threw this in with my order. When it got to me, I realized they hadn’t charged me for it. Thanks, Deciem!

Alright, so this is another Deciem product, from their mid-range skincare brand Hylamide. I got this Hydra Density Mist on a whim (and for free, as per the story above) because Caroline Hirons always talks about spray-hydrating and I thought a nice moderately-priced hydrating mist would be a good addition to my morning skin care. And I started using it and basically just felt very “meh” about it.

So I resolved not to repurchase when I ran out. And then I started getting lazy about using it. And then I realized that it was actually doing something.

It’s really subtle, but I find this mist really brings a little burst of hydration to my relatively-uncomplicated morning routine. In the morning, I wash in the shower, Glow Tonic, Vitamin C serum, and sunscreen. This fits in between Vitamin C and sunscreen, and it gives a nice refresh to my skin after I’ve let my vitamin C serum sit for a bit.

This is not an exciting product. It’s not scented at all, nor does it really make a huge difference in my overall skin. But I just feel like my skin looks a bit better when I use it versus when I don’t. And that was enough that I actually bought a new bottle of it in my last Hylamide order. So that’s my endorsement: got to try it for free, but shelled out to replace it. It’s not going to do any miracles, but it will hydrate your face. Make sure and put something over it, though, to keep the hydration in.

And that’s really all I have to say about it.

[image source]

The “Butter on My Bread, Cream in My Coffee” Diet

It’s the new year and once again people are talking about dieting. In particular, I’ve realized that I’ve let my health go a bit, and would like to remedy that before my wedding. That said, I have a long, tumultuous relationship with dieting.

I suppose it begins in childhood, when I was very sick and actually had trouble keeping weight on. My mother used to make me a milkshake every afternoon when I came home from school to help me gain some weight. I got to choose the flavor (I like chocolate best, and it’s how I discovered that I’m not a big fan of strawberry ice cream). But at the same time, I watched my mother struggle with her own weight.

When I was older, my natural perfectionism and detail-oriented nature, which would later be diagnosed as OCD, led me to try to help her in her efforts to lose weight. I poured over Weight Watchers cookbooks and made her recipes so she could have treats within the strictures of her diet. I even made a batch of cookies that I marked in 1/4″ intervals so she could slice and bake them herself and have cookies that were only 1 “point” each. Soon, I found myself hitting puberty and “filling out,” as it is so distastefully called. I realized that I was no longer “the skinny girl” necessarily. It was strange; I had spent my life reveling in how much I could eat without gaining weight, and insisting to myself that I wasn’t worried about dieting or my weight. But now, I was terrified of not being skinny anymore.

So I started to diet. I started to count calories and make up the same special restricted recipes for myself. I’ve since come to realize that part of it was about trying to maintain a sense of control over something in my life during a time when I felt like I was losing control. I had changed schools and had no friends in my new school, plus the changes of puberty can be a bit off-putting, to say the least.

I will skip over the middle, where I drift in and out of disordered eating for 20 years, and instead come to now. I’ve tried a lot of different diets and detoxes and elimination diets and things, and my number one lesson learned is that I cannot restrict what I eat. The healthiest thing for me is to allow myself my indulgences, but try to focus on eating the healthy stuff. So that means looking at it as adding a salad to my lunch instead of removing a fried chicken sandwich. I still have butter on my bread and cream in my coffee. And I try to move around and do things more often than not. I eat and do things that make me feel good. And that is now my “diet” philosophy.

And, yeah, I’m not skinny anymore. I’m on the low end of the size spectrum, and plenty of people still consider me thin, but in a group of women, I’m rarely “the skinny one.” And that’s okay. I have so much more to my identity by now that I don’t need to be identified by what I weigh or what I eat or what I do for exercise. Instead, I can identify with my love of fiber arts or theater or skin care. I can be “the one with the good skin” (maybe not this week, though), or “the theatrical one.” And that’s pretty good, I think.

In My Queue: The Crown

NB: There is one small spoiler at the end of this review, though it should come as no surprise, given the subject of this series.

There is nothing more we Americans like than a dramatized peek into the lives of royals. Never having had a royal family of our own or even a real aristocracy, there is something romantic about the idea of a hereditary class that persisted even into the 20th (and 21st) century, particularly when there are British accents involved. To this end, the new Netflix original series The Crown does not disappoint. The first season is a look into the ascension and early reign of Queen Elizabeth II, with a good mix of political plotting and salacious personal detail.

First of all, the series is written by Peter Morgan, who also wrote the screen play for the film The Queen, in which Helen Mirren played Elizabeth dealing with the public fallout from the death of Princess Diana. And this makes sense, as the series has a very similar feeling. In particular, the sense of pathos he is able to evoke is unparalleled, particularly surrounding older characters. In The Queen, his portrayal of the Queen Mother prompted me to call my grandmother; in The Crown, his portrayal of Winston Churchill prompted me to reevaluate my own feelings towards my (now-deceased) father and (dementia-stricken) grandfather. Morgan is particularly gifted at writing scenes that show the little indignities of age.

But the focal point of the show is the new queen herself, and her relationships, both political and personal. Of note is the relationship between her and her husband, Prince Phillip. This series really helped cement how much I dislike the characters I’ve seen Matt Smith play, which doesn’t sound like a recommendation, except that Phillip is just so deliciously sullen. Despite his wish to be the dominant head of a marriage to the actual Queen of England, he comes of as a spoiled brat, rather than an angry man. And I think this distinction makes it easier to accept him as a troubled consort, rather than a threat. In contrast, Claire Foy has a perfect mix of quiet poise and demure strength when going up against a government system that should be no stranger to a ruling queen, and yet seems to continually fall victim to the sexist zeitgeist while dealing with her. She is able to, for the most part, gently overcome her opposition, showing her fire only when necessary, and otherwise remaining the perfect lady of the times.

Two last notes: I was absolutely floored by John Lithgow’s performance as Churchill. Apart from the impressive physical transformation, I thought he brought gravitas and honesty to Morgan’s aforementioned deftly written scenes of a man coming to terms with the end of his own reign of sorts. And Jared Harris played King George VI with such sympathy that it was almost a shame the show did not start a season earlier. I found his George more believable than Colin Firth’s in The King’s Speech, because there is always something too self-possessed about Firth’s portrayal of awkward characters. Harris played the perfect tragic king, and seemed like he brought a vulnerability to the character of the unlikely monarch that I would have liked to see from his beginnings. It truly is a shame that he tends to die so early in his small-screen roles.

All in all, The Crown serves as another wonderful dramatization of British royalty, and is a welcome respite from the Tudor era, truth be told.