Day trip to Ohiopyle!

Ohiopyle is one of the best places to day trip to if you are in the Pittsburgh or surrounding area!  I try to go at least once every year because it truly is my happy place.  There are many activities to partake in especially in these upcoming months (May, June, July, and even August).  There is biking, hiking, kayaking, white water rafting, picnicking, and many other activities/attractions of the likes.  Here are a collection of photos I took with my Canon EOS Rebel T6 to document a fun day of white water rafting (although I didn’t take my camera on the raft), swimming, and exploring throughout Memorial day.

OhiopyledoggoDaria edit 2daria edit 6Geeseme and Dariadaria and matteditsunohiopyleeematt

We had an awesome Memorial day with nothing but sun and blue skies.  If you are interested in taking a trip out to Ohiopyle visit http://www.discoverohiopyle.com/ to see what activities and experiences the town has to offer.  It’s a great place to relax and reconnect with nature.  There are rapids, natural waterslides, and amazing rock formations.  It really is breathtaking out there!  Not to mention how close in proximity it is to “Falling water”, the architectural masterpiece of Frank Lloyd Wright (which you can read more about here:  http://fallingwater.org/).  In addition to this, just 15 minutes away from Ohiopyle you will find yourself in the heart of the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort (which you can read about here: http://www.nemacolin.com/) if you are in need of therapeutic spa and recreational activities.  All said and done we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day and cannot wait to go back again; there is nothing quite as amazing and relaxing as the great outdoors!

– AH

Tape-in hair extensions! (Seamless hair extensions)

I just had my tape-in extensions removed today so I thought it would be fitting to do a full review!  So I started out in January with dirty blonde, fine, thin, very straight hair.  I was really looking for a change since my hair has been blonde for about two years now and very fine for my whole life.  In recent years, I was really looking to thicken my hair, so I delved into the world of hair extensions.  I immersed myself in all of the various types.  After reading several reviews online, I finally decided on tape-in hair extensions.  Since I found it fairly difficult to find a matching shade of blonde for my hair, I made the decision to dye my hair back to my native dark brown and then purchase dark brown extensions.  I went to Sally’s Beauty Supply, found the closest matching shade (of tape-in extensions) then took them home and dyed them the same color as my hair (with the same dye I put on my hair).  I then made an appointment to have them professionally installed. 

What they are: 

Tape-in (Seamless) hair extensions are a type of hair extension that is not sewn or clipped into your hair.  They are a type of semi-permanent hair extensions.  Each weft has two pieces that sandwich together with an adhesive on the inside (below).  A very thin layer of your own hair is put in between the adhesive at the root.  They are meant to lay flat against your head to create the “seamless” look and to avoid showing through.



What they do: 

Tape-in hair extensions serve two purposes.  They lengthen and/or thicken hair in a natural looking fashion.  I was attracted to these type of extensions because I wanted to thicken my hair.  I was absolutely amazed at how thick my hair felt after a full installation.  Here are side by side comparisons of the thickness I achieved with these extensions (below).


These extensions are absolutely amazing for both length and volume. 

Cost: 

These type of extensions have a very large range in price.  The cost does have various factors, however.  Since I bought the hair myself, from Sally Beauty Supply, the cost of one pack of 18″ Satin Strands (human) hair was $94.99.  Since I was just using the hair to thicken my own, one pack was enough.  I then messaged a girl I knew from high school who worked for a salon, and asked how much installation would be if I brought the hair.  It cost $150.00 to install the hair.  So my total cost to start wearing these extensions was just shy of $300.00.  The cost does depend on several factors.

  • Length – The longer hair you purchase, the more it will cost.  The 18″ [Satin Strands] are $94.99.  The 22″ [Satin Strands] are $144.99. (These are all based on prices at Sally Beauty Supply).
  • Number of packs – Obviously, the number of packs [of hair] you purchase to get your desired look will affect the cost. 
  • Type of hair – When the quality of the hair you purchase is high, the cost will reflect that.
  • Where you purchase your hair – If you purchase your hair from a salon, you are likely to pay more than buying the hair yourself.
  • Where you have your hair installed – I believe this goes without being said (but since I am doing a full review, I will say it anyway).  Where you have your hair installed will greatly affect the price.  If you go to a high-end salon, you will pay high-end salon prices.  

With all of those factors compiled, Tape-in extensions can cost you anywhere from $250.00-$1200.00.  The hair can be reused about three times for re-applications.  During these appointments (when you need to move the hair closer to the root) you will only pay for the re-installation and not the hair.  


One weft (above) 


One pack (above) 

Care: 

During your initial appointment you will need to show up with clean hair.  You need to wash it the morning of, or have it washed at the salon.  After they are installed you will be instructed to not wash your hair for 24-48 hours while the bonds set.  Once 24-48 hours have passed you are now able to wash your hair as often as you would like.  When washing your hair with these extensions in, you will want to be as gentle as possible by the roots of your hair where the adhesive strips reside.  When conditioning the hair it is extremely important to NOT condition the roots as it will weaken the bonds.  Keep all conditioners near the ends of your extensions and away from the root/adhesive.  Do NOT brush or comb your hair when wet (but if you are like me you will find a way around that)… If you must brush when the hair is wet, hold down the top of the weft (the adhesive part) against your head while you brush so it does not pull at the root (to minimalize any damage).  If you intend on reusing your extensions they should be stored in a clean dry place upon removal.  Most beauty supply stores sell cases to store your extensions. 

Removal and Re-installation: 

To remove the extensions you will need to soak the adhesive at the top of the weft with an alcohol solution to weaken the bond.  I’ve read that conditioner helps to weaken the bond, but trying it myself I did not succeed.  So I went to a salon, where they removed it by saturating the adhesive with alcohol to separate the sandwich.  Before re-installing you will need to remove what is left of the adhesive from your hair by saturating (with alcohol) the root of your hair where the adhesive was and comb it out (repeat the process until all of the adhesive is removed).  To re-install them you will need to buy new adhesive [tape] to reuse the hair.  You can get these at most beauty supply stores as well. 

Pros:

  • Great for volume and length 
  • Natural looking 
  • Easy installation and removal 
  • Minimal damage if properly taken care of 
  • Semi-permanent 
  • Can wash, blow dry, straighten, and style

Cons:

  • Can be costly 
  • When the hair grows out, the wefts can be seen 
  • Only lasts about 2-3 months 
  • Can pull at the root causing damage if not properly taken care of

All said and done:

Tape-in extensions are a great semi-permanent option for those looking to thicken and lengthen their hair.  They have lasted me from the beginning of February until today {April 18th}.  I was told due to the integrity of the extensions that mine should not be reused.  If I had taken better care of them along with my own hair they could have been reused about two more times.  They served me well for the three months that I did have them in.  It gave me the thickness that I have always desired in my hair.  All said and done I give them an 8/10 for their looks, purpose and function.  

A love forged in Heaven

I long for a love so deep, that the oceans themselves become green with envy

A love so gracious, so limitless

A love with not condition nor boundary  

A love forged in forgiveness

 

A love so true, the angels will sing

When two bodies become one

A beautiful life it shall bring

A love more definite than that of the rising sun

 

Where souls are entangled, intertwined

Like two hands grasped together

Growing stronger like that of the vine

Not passing with a fleeting moment; A love that does not wither

 

A love that does not fade with time

Is not impossible, but very hard to find

 

-AH

Retin-A (tretinoin)

Retin-A has been a gift from God to me.  As mentioned in a previous blog post I have battled with my troubled skin for a very long time (roughly 10 years).  I have tried everything–and I mean everything.  I have tried just about every face wash on the market, birth control pills, minocycline pills (from the dermatologist), and every home remedy that lurks on the internet.  In my travels across the wild, wild web, I have come across Retin-A (tretinoin).  Retin-A has been the only product able to consistently keep my skin clear.  I have used it for roughly two years now. (Below)

What it is: 

Retin-A (tretinoin) is a form of vitamin A in a cream or gel base that aids in skin cell turnover.

What it does: 

When applied, it causes the skin cells to renew themselves at a rapid rate (much faster than they normally would).  When the skin cells renew quickly, it prevents acne causing bacteria from thriving under the skin’s surface as the skin cells are constantly renewing themselves.  This causes shedding of the skin.  When the skin sheds, it reveals new un damaged skin.  This not only helps with acne, but also with wrinkles, age spots, and scars.

Side Effects: 

  • There may be a purging period when you initially start using Retin-A.  This means that your skin will worsen before it gets better.  Everyone’s skin will react differently during this period.  It is essentially removing all of the built up toxins and bacteria in your skin and with that, some acne may occur.  During my initial use of Retin-A, I did not experience purging.
  • Sensitivity to sunlight.  (Wear an SPF, avoid tanning beds and avoid moderate sun exposure)  Now I know there are some people out there that are going to tan anyway, and to that I say: at the very least, cover your face with a hat, towel, SPF foundation, or something of the likes because you will burn if you do not.
  • Excess skin shedding.  The shedding of skin cells is quite normal and while it will help reveal new and undamaged skin, it might not look very pretty for a day or so(exfoliation is key during the shedding process).

More About:

When starting a Retin-A regimen, you will find that it comes in two forms.  A cream base and a gel base.  You will also find that it comes in .5% and 1%.  I started with a cream base .5%.  I was told by my dermatologist to use it every other night and slowly work up to every night.  I did this and my skin responded extremely well.  I then progressed further to the gel base 1%.  The 1% Retin-A is very strong and cannot be used every night or even every other night.  I usually use this [1%] about once or twice a week in order to keep my skin in tip top shape. A last and important note to make is that you need a doctors prescription to get Retin-A.

Final thoughts:

I would highly, highly recommend Retin-A to anyone that is struggling with their skin (acne).  I have been struggling for roughly 10 years with my skin and Retin-A has consistently kept my skin clear of bacteria and acne for the two years I have used it.  While it does wonders for acne, it can also help for wrinkles and age spots alike.  This product is meant to shed the top layers of the skin to reveal healthy, smooth skin right below the surface.  By shedding the top layers, it keeps acne causing bacteria from developing under the skin’s surface.

Disclaimer:

I am not a doctor, only you and your dermatologist can decide if this treatment is right for you.  I am simply making a review on Retin-A based on my own experiences.

Comment any of your questions below and I will be more than happy to answer them!

 

LUSH Skincare! 

Hey everyone!  So as most of you (who are probably closer to me) know, I have struggled with my skin for quite some time!  I have searched the ends of the earth to find a remedy for my troubled skin.  While I greatly depend on Retin A to keep my skin in line, I also need something to keep it presentable throughout the week (as Retin A is a bit too harsh to use more than once a week, but that’s for a another blog post).  Anyways, I greatly depend on masks to keep my skin in tip top shape when Retin A cannot be used!  So after searching online and reading reviews of various brands, I stumbled across LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics.  While I initially tried the Brazened Honey Fresh Face Mask (below),

I naturally have the tendency to try other products and explore the line.  So as I was in the LUSH store yesterday evening, I was eavesdropping on a conversation between a sales associate and a customer, and heard them discussing the benifits of several masks.  While I really liked the Brazened Honey mask (and was actually there to buy that particular mask), I heard her discussing another mask specifically for acne prone and oily skin (which is my skin in a nutshell).  SO, that being said, I decided to try a new mask last night! The Cosmetic Warrior Fresh Face Mask (initially featured).  So far, I have used it once (last night before bed), and here are my intial thoughts:  My skin is feeling incredibly soft and looking a lot brighter and clearer after the first use!  I will continue to post updates on this mask as I see what it does on a regular basis.  The good thing about this mask, and the Brazened Honey Mask, is that they are both made fresh (no preservatives), and cruelty free! (No animal testing).  So as I continue giving updates on Cosmetic Warrior, I will list all the pros and cons of both masks so far in my observations.

Brazened Honey Fresh Face Mask

Pros:

  • Fresh, handmade (no preservatives)
  • Exfoliates as it dries and tightens on your skin
  • Can be used once daily (I usually use it after I return home from work or at the end of the day)
  • Very deep clean
  • Controls oil
  • Very rough texture (ground almonds to exfoliate); Good if you have acne prone skin that needs a pick me up at the end of the day or week
  • $8.95 (very affordable)

Cons:

  • Has a strong smell
  • Can be a bit too rough for easily agitated skin
  • Needs to be kept refrigerated as it has fresh ingredients (although the fresh ingredients are a plus, it needs to be kept refrigerated or it will go bad)
  • Only in stores and not available online

All said and done, the Brazened Honey Mask gets an 8/10 from me.  It’s a great, affordable, mask.  It gives a very clean feeling after having makeup on all day or throughout the week.  It brightens and tightens tired skin.  You can read more about it here:

http://www.lushusa.com/face/masks/brazened-honey/06092.html

Cosmetic Warrior (keep in mind I have only used this mask once, and will continue to update as I see what it is fully capable of for acne prone skin)

Pros:

  • Fresh, handmade (no preservatives)
  • Has a clean smooth texture when applying
  • Controls oil well (from what I can see so far)
  • Makes skin incredibly soft! (after just once use for me!)
  • $8.95 (very affordable)

Cons:

  • Needs to be kept refrigerated as it has fresh ingredients (although the fresh ingredients are a plus, it needs to be kept refrigerated or it will go bad)
  • Only in stores and not available online

I will continue to update the Pros and Cons after I see what this mask is fully capable of for people with troubled skin like myself!

All said and done, the Cosmetic Warrior is an excellent mask from what I can see.  I think I might even like it better than the Brazened Honey mask!  After just one use for me, my skin was incredibly soft and bright.  I will continue to update but so far I absolutely love this mask!  You can read more about it here:

http://www.lushusa.com/face/masks/cosmetic-warrior/06094.html

Another great aspect of LUSH products, is when you bring five empty face mask pots back to the store (for recycling purposes) you get a Fresh Handmade Face Mask for free!

Visit http://www.lushusa.com/ for more masks and other great products!

 

 

 

 

Foreign affairs 

In accordance to recent events, I feel, a blog post is in order (not that my opinion is anything special, but I do like to express myself semi-formally when possible).  Most of my personal politics are not that of the majority, that is no secret; I do however, like to enlighten others on the views of most conservatives to dismantle any previous bias people may have toward us (and I speak for moderate conservatives like myself, not the few that give us a bad name).  Specifically, I would like to discuss the conservative support of The Trump administration’s decision to strike Syria with 59 Tomahawk missiles.  Some time ago, Barack Obama stated in regards to chemical weapons: “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”  It is unclear to me, however, where exactly that red line was.  He stated there would be “enormous consequences”.  In fact, many reports even stated that Barack Obama was working with Russia to remove 100 percent (yes, you read correctly) 100 percent of chemical weapons from Syria.  How many people were going to die before some real consequential action was to be taken?  I digress…  Following the most recent chemical attack in Syria and almost without hesitation President Donald Trump authorized the missile strikes on the Syrian airbase.  People from all over had quite an array of reactions.  From support to feelings of hypocrisy toward the Trump administration (in regards to his previous stance on the matter).  I’m here to discuss our (Conservative) support of this decision and why it is so much bigger than the argument of “…if he [Trump] would have let them [Syrian refugees] in none of this would have happened!”  The United State’s decision to launch missiles following the horrific chemical attack was a loud and very clear message to Assad and to “other players on the ground” that chemical warfare will NOT be tolerated and there is an actual red line now.  While we want to help these innocent Syrian civilians, we also don’t want to negotiate with a hostile regime, and put our own people at risk by an influx of migrants.  By accepting hundreds of thousands of refugees we are avoiding the real problem here.  Why would we encourage the relocation of Syrians when we can instead make their own home safe?  The same question exists when when you put this into the context of a hostage situation.  Why doesn’t the U.S. negotiate with terrorists holding hostages?  “But don’t they care about the hostages?!”  Of course we care about the hostages, but we do not want to encourage this situation to keep happening.  By not negotiating we are strongly condemning these actions and drawing a red line.  By striking Syria’s airbase we are sending a strong message that these actions will not be tolerated, and actual consequences will ensue.  We are sending Syrian civilians the message that we are on their side and are there to defend them against their own hostile regime.  We are not removing them [Syrians] from the problem, we are removing and disabling the problem at its source.  We do care about Syrians and the abhorrent conditions.  I would like to dispell the myth that conservatives are ignoring all of this slaughter happening in Syria.  We are looking out for our own people as well as the Syrian civilians, only now, with the strong support of the U.S. they will be safe in their own country. 

Our world today

It has come to my attention that my words concerning a recent, tragic event in Syria have been misconstrued.  When I am passionate about something, sometimes my actual thoughts can be lost in poor translation.  Our world today is a very broken place, there’s no doubt about that.  Turn on any news station and you will see the depravity that this world has been reduced to.  There are crimes against humanity happening in every dark corner of the world.  Many of these crimes go unnoticed, swept under the rug, or even blatantly ignored.  Why?  Why do we highlight some crimes, and ignore others?  Why do we incite outrage at certain events and forget about others?  Why are some punished, and others receive a slap on the wrist?  There are barbaric practices still happening today, and where is the outrage?  In China, forced abortions are still happening today in accordance to the “one child policy”.  Where is the outrage over North Korea’s abhorrent living conditions?  In the midst of all of these women’s marches, where is the outrage that women STILL cannot drive in Saudi Arabia today?  There are crimes against humanity happening all over the globe, so why do we give certain events and crimes precedence over others?  The western media decides which events and crimes to highlight in order to incite scandal or to further a political ideology.  The worst part about this is that a majority of people buy into it.  The media has exploited these events to fuel the fire of debate concerning recent immigration policies and the war in Syria.  What debate would it spark to mention any other atrocity?  Western media is hyper focusing on events that happen in Syria today to incite debate and indoctrinate people with a certain viewpoint.  The recent gas attack in Syria is a horrible crime against humanity and deserves to be a point of focus just as much as any other atrocity happening in our world today.  We need not focus on one country simply because it sparks debates and ratings.  We cannot pick and choose what crimes against humanity we are outraged about only because the media reports it.

DISCLAIMER: I am not exploiting this recent attack to further my own agenda; I am stating what I see is happening in our media dominated world.  I would love nothing more than to spare the Syrian people from all this hurt and pain.  In this broken world, there are many, many people that are victims and in need of help.  We need not exploit one group over another to garner ratings, views, and debate.