Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Attempted homemade hair conditioner… FAIL

EggWash your hair with beer and condition it with an egg. Those are two of the “home beauty tips” I remember from a little booklet of similar home beauty secrets we explored in Girl Scouts.

Normally, I don’t bother with conditioner. As thick as my hair is, the tangles pull out fairly easily as long as I’m the one wielding the hairbrush. But 2 weeks ago, I decided to dye my hair a nice shade of auburn.

And here’s where I got into trouble. The day after I dyed my hair, I took a shower and washed it with my normal shampoo. As the shampoo rinsed out, my hair felt…. odd. Crinkly. Hard. Scratchy. Damaged. Dry.

Other than the once-weekly conditioner that came with the dye, I don’t own a bottle of conditioner, and I’m allergic to several kinds of conditioner. I panicked. I thought back to my Girl Scout days, and remembered “ah ha! I can wash my hair with beer and condition it with egg!” The egg is supposed to act like a protein wash and it’s a natural emulsifier, so it should do pretty well at getting that protein to cover my damaged strands, right?

I cleverly called to my husband to bring me an egg. He brought it, and warned me to make sure it all rinsed down the drain. “Sure, sure” I called, cracking the egg and dumping it into my hair.

I scrubbed at it, but I quickly realized something was wrong. Dreadfully wrong. The “conditioner” was turning my hair into a clumpy mess. It wasn’t smoothing and conditioning– it was stiffening! Ack!

I rinsed the heck out of it, already dreading what would happen when I tried to brush this egg-glue tangle that was formerly a hairdo.

Later, after I was out of the shower and toweling off, I would dread that moment even more, as little bits of white stuff flaked out of my hair– egg whites that had cooked when exposed to the hot water beating down on my head.

I’ve since learned that the recipe for an egg conditioner requires using only the yolk, beating the egg in advance, and adding oil and water to the mixture– in other words, condition with mayonnaise.

Next time I decide to try a home beauty secret, I’m going to go with the beer shampoo. I’m thinking a six pack should do it. Some of it might even make it onto my head!

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Originally posted to Life on the Road.

1 Month Celebration: Post Card Giveaway!

FireworksThis is Bloggy Giveaway week. It’s also the end of my first month of blogging here on ustravel.today.com . Two great reasons to give free stuff away!

Here’s how to enter: Post a non-spam comment or drop your entrecard on any post at http://ustravel.today.com between right now and 11:00 PM August 1. On Saturday morning, I’ll draw three lucky winners.

The Prize: The prize is a set of 6 completely random post cards from my travels across the United States. You could get sweeping views of the Grand Canyon, or a funny alligator from Florida. You might not even get something destination-related; I have a lot of post cards! The post cards will be put into an envelope and mailed to you or, if you prefer, all six will be written on and mailed to you through the post within the month of August.

Remember: don’t put your mailing address in the comment, but do check your email or this blog after Saturday. I’ll announce the winners on Saturday and try to contact you if I have any kind of link or email address to use.

Your contact information will not be shared with anyone for any purpose and will not be used for anything except sending you the post cards. Non-US participants welcome– I can only send post cards where the U.S. postal service permits. All spam comments will be deleted and are ineligible for entry.

This giveaway/contest is being run by the independent writer of ustravel.today.com and has not been reviewed or endorsed by the webhost, Today.com.

Note: Comments are moderated, so if you post one and it doesn’t go through, don’t panic– it’s just being held for moderation.

Also, I know the captcha is annoying. I already get about 20 spam messages a day, even with it, and I shudder to think what it would be if I disabled it. The plugin my host uses, re-Captcha, uses words that have been scanned for inputting public domain works into online libraries which the OCR software is having trouble recognizing. So, as annoying as it may be, at least you’re helping to contribute to the availability of e-texts.

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Originally posted to Life on the Road.

Birthday Travels and Wishes

First, on the subject of birthdays: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!!! You’re awesome, and I love you very much. I am always glad to have you as both my mother and my friend.

Anyway. Now all about me!

My birthday is coming up and, coincidentally, one of my friends from high school is getting married that weekend, in Portland, OR. I’m going to fly out for the wedding, have a fun time, spend birthday there, then fly home, with a short detour on the way.

I’m getting into Portland mid-morning on the 15th, going to the wedding during the day on the 16th, and flying out early in the morning on the 18th. The 17th is my birthday– note there is no travel scheduled for that day.

When I was a teenager, I spent my 18th birthday on an airplane. I had flown to Berkeley to visit my aunt and uncle and cousin (who is a year younger than me). I was supposed to go a week earlier, but my cousin managed to catch chicken pox while he was in Australia, and his trip home was delayed due to quarantine. I was going out to visit them before heading off to Hampshire College (I only know this because I remember the movie that was on the airplane and could look it up on IMDB.com). A year later, I would fly out again, this time with 5 bags and a registration slip for Cabrillo College, transferring out of Hampshire and into sanity.

I flew home on my birthday. I must say, flying on one’s birthday is pretty suck-tastic. They don’t even give you a cupcake. But also, and perhaps more importantly, there was a lot of turbulence, and I was absolutely convinced I was going to die.

The trope of dying on my birthday has been with me my whole life. I wouldn’t call it a fear– it is more like a certainty, and throughout my life, I’ve always noticed when people died on their birthdays. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

When I’m 95, if I haven’t “checked out” yet, I’ll make sure my suicide-by-cop plan is initiated on my birthday.

In any case: Portland. Birthday. Not going to die.

For my Portland friends, I hope you’ll all be around that afternoon. I’m thinking a nice little celebration at a coffee shop would be in order. I’d love to see everyone, and getting together into one room so I don’t have to run all over town trying to make it to six different meetups… well, that would be the best birthday present ever.

Anyone else feeling compelled to purchase a gift is invited to give a Gift of Hope. Otherwise, your good thoughts and wishes will be more than welcome (and pack easily!)

5 Low-Impact Birthday Gifts

GiftIt’s birthday season around here. My mom’s birthday is today, and mine is coming up in a couple of weeks. I look around my little house-on-wheels and think “gee, what do I want for my birthday?”

I know what I don’t want: more stuff! There’s no room for the Stuff we have right now! But, like everyone who has everything they possibly could need, there are still a few things that I want. In no particular order, I bring you a short, handy list of gifts and guidelines for someone who has no space for anything, or who is trying to live a simple life:

  • Make the world a better place. Make a donation in their honor to a charity they care about. Most importantly, though, make this donation over the phone and be extremely explicit in telling the person taking the donation information that you do not want the recipient to receive newsletters, solicitations, ads, or follow-up mailings. If possible, ask to receive the thank you card at your own address and forward it to the recipient. It’s not a good gift if it comes with 3 years of headaches and junk mail.
  • Gift the gift of entertainment. Find out what kind of entertainment (be it books, music, movies, or TV) that the recipient enjoys, and give them a gift that is weightless or re-giftable. If they have an iPod and know how to use it, an audiobook download from audible.com is a great one for book lovers with no space. Only give digital gifts to those who already know how to use them. If you have to spend 30 minutes explaining how to use it, it’s a bad gift.
  • Share a legacy. Have a favorite family recipe? Share that with a friend. Have some funny stories from your grandparents? Write them down and give them to your folks. It’s all right to re-gift a family tradition.
  • Enjoy some time together. This one’s only useful if you live nearby, but it’s pretty common and acceptable for friends to buy each other a round of drinks or coffee for birthdays. Watching your pennies? Bring a picnic lunch to your friend or host a double date at home. Time with friends reduces stress and increases lifespan. Time well spent leads to more time.
  • Give a service. This is an old, old tip from Dear Abby, but it’s still somewhat true today. Now, while Dear Abby suggested gifts for older friends and family that included trips to the hairdresser, the fact is that some people might consider that to be a not-too-subtle “hint” about one’s hygiene. Instead, find out if there’s something your recipient wants or needs– a website, a blog, some writing, a logo, their yard weedwhacked, and offer to do it for them. The problem I’ve always had with this gift is that I love to give my loved ones my time– but only on my terms. So, I’ll happily set up a web site, then spend no time updating it, and of course, the recipient has no idea how to do so, either. Tailor your gift to what the recipient wants, not what you think they need.

Come to think of it, these are good tips for birthdays, holidays, and business proposals as well. I’ll have to keep that in mind this week as I spend some quality time drafting some quality proposals.

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Originally posted to Life on the Road.

How to Annoy Everyone at the RV Park

I’m with stupidLiving in an RV, we’ve had the opportunity to meet many nice, friendly folks on the road– opportunities which we’ve shunned, because let’s face it, other people are annoying. Therefore, I present to you 20 ways to annoy your neighbors when you live or camp at an RV park:

  1. This weekend is the perfect time to start learning how to play the harmonica. Polka tunes for beginners only, please.
  2. Wear your tightest speedo swimsuit to the pool. Make sure to sit on the edge of the pool with your knees wide apart.
  3. Lie. Lie early, lie often. There are more retired U.S. CIA agents living in RVs than there are on the CIA pension plan.
  4. Do the “I got me some steaks and you don’t got none!” dance whenever someone walks by your campsite. Then eat hot dogs for dinner.
  5. Drink. Heavily. If you aren’t drinking a beer right now, or have just put an empty into the trash, you’re doing it wrong.
  6. Tie your dog to the tree next to your campsite with the regulation 6′ leash. Bonus: yell at her when she whines or barks about being tied up.
  7. Drop a melted marshmallow on the road, about 6 inches from the edge of the road. This will ensure that a pedestrian steps in it and wears it on her shoe for the rest of the day.
  8. Park your RV under a seed-bearing or pine needle-shedding tree, then wash it daily.
  9. Walk or bike in the middle of the road. You don’t want to step in all the marshmallows, after all.
  10. Sewer hose? We don’t need no stinkin’ sewer hose! If you position the rig juuuuust right, the flow should go straight from the valve into the pipe, right?
  11. Help other people park their RVs. Carefully detail which hand signals mean turn right or left, stop, and go forward. Then completely ignore those signals and wave your hands wildly around until the driver runs into a tree.
  12. The ground is a perfectly fine place to dump your graywater.
  13. RV tires don’t usually show signs of road wear. Break bottles in front of other people’s campsites. They will thank you for giving them a reason to replace their tires.
  14. Show off your “converted” 1950’s bus, carrying photos around and suggesting to campground staff that “this park really needs to have a bus section!” Never mind that the only conversions you’ve done are to tape black plastic bags over the windows and set a hot plate on one of the seats.
  15. When traffic approaches while you’re walking in the middle of the road, swerve to the left, then right, then left again before making it to one side or another.
  16. Remember: poop bags are for other people’s dogs!
  17. At the campground rec room, flip endlessly through TV channels until you find the most boring sport available (golf, bowling, and poker are all good choices). Then, if anyone in the room seems interested, talk loudly to them about how much you both like golf.
  18. Compete with your neighbors (all of them) over lawn decorations and lighting. When you install a new bauble, take a photo of it and walk it around to the neighbors to show it off.
  19. When a new camper comes in, stop by and chit-chat with them. Tell them to call you on the CB any time. Knock on their door, morning and night to ask if they have their CB on, cause you’ve been trying to chat with them.
  20. Wander around the park with a clipboard and camera. Take photos of every third RV and campsite, then act cagey when they ask you what you’re doing.

Stumble It!

With thanks and a nod to other great lists, like 248 ways to annoy people and Skippy’s list.

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Originally posted to Life on the Road.

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