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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Redken Cerafill "Defy" System for Thinning Hair: Love it!

Note: I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer #sponsored network campaign for #Cerafill powered by Redken. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with Redken, and I do not earn a commission or percent of sales.

Cerafill "Defy" Shampoo
& Conditioner
Cerafill Dense FX
& Texture Effect
I have Very fine hair (as does my mom, and her mom before her), and it’s not nearly as thick as I’d like it to be; my fear at the age of 55 is that it will only get thinner... I have also, periodically, seen some hair loss when I shampoo, and when I had a small ball of hair in my hands after a shampoo it totally freaked me out! I have two “whorls” in the back of my head where my hair likes to part so that my scalp shows, and this gives me a LOT of grief! I HATE teasing it, or having to style it carefully over the whorls and then lacquer it into place with a ton of hairspray! To top it off, a year and a half ago I was thrown from a horse (yes, really- a Chilean Rodeo Horse, in Chile, and yes, that humbled me as a horsewoman but good!), and I lost a small clump of hair in the front. Although it eventually grew back, it didn't grow back terribly thick. As a result of all of the above I am Always looking for, and trying, products that claim to thicken hair, or at least give the Illusion of thicker hair, so I was Really delighted to be chosen to try the new Redken Cerafill “Defy” system for thinning hair. It claims to actually make hair 9% thicker, and that “it’s like gaining up to 9,000 more hairs after one use!”, and that sounded very good to me! I used it for more than two weeks before writing this post, and as the photos below show, I am Really pleased with it and WILL be buying it when it hits the market shortly. I've tried Many different hair care products, “systems”, and collections of products, and I have to say that for me, so far, Cerafill works the best. The Redken Cerafill "Defy" system consists of four products: Cerafill “Defy” Shampoo, “Defy” Conditioner, Dense FX leave-in thickening treatment, and Texture Effect, a styling product, and I used them all. And because I really wanted to give this system the best chance possible to work, I used them all according to the instructions, like a good girl! The system is safe for color-treated hair, too, which was Very important to me, as I do get my hair colored.

My hair is naturally wavy-curly, and has a tendency to frizz, especially when it’s damp, or it’s summer, or it’s raining, or it’s winter… or 100 other reasons! My usual method of “styling” my hair is to work some sort of “product” into it- usually a curl styling gel (or several products) after I shampoo it and it’s still damp, scrunch it, go to sleep with it wet, and (hopefully) wake up with a head full of curls! (Yes, I’m lazy!) Although I own both a blow drier and a flatiron, I never learned to wield them like a pro (like most of my girlfriends did), and thus use them infrequently; I basically only get my hair blown and ironed into silky-smooth submission when I go to a salon, which, since I moved from NYC to Extremely Rural Southern West Virginia 12 years ago, happens about twice a year! Getting to the salon out here in the boonies is an-all-day, must-be-planned-for event that’s tantamount to orchestrating an opera! But, being an Upper East Side NYC Gal, I have pretty high expectations, making me a Lazy, But Demanding, DIY Diva of the first stripe, and my feeling is that if I can use a product successfully, truly anyone can!
My favorite product of the whole Cerafill line is the Dense FX spray leave-in treatment, which I use after every shampoo, and between shampoos, as well, and because I use more of it than the other products, that is the one I’ll be buying most of. The Cerafill shampoo and conditioner work with it, and my hair is both clean looking and feeling after I use them, and yes, my hair seemed somewhat thicker after I used them, even before I sprayed on the Dense FX. They have menthol in them, and this does give a cool “minty”, almost tingly feeling on your scalp, which I find very pleasant- it feels like something’s working- at least I know it's increasing blood flow! The shampoo and conditioner did not make my hair really soft, however, the way most conditioners do; I often rubbed a small amount of the conditioner on my hands and ran it through my hair and left it in, to make my hair softer and smoother, and easier to comb out the tangles. After I towel dry my hair and it's about 80% dry I spray in the Dense FX, first on the roots, and then I work it through my hair. Then to style it I usually do one of two things: I either “scrunch” it and sleep on it wet, letting it dry curly, or I brush it smooth when it’s wet and pull it back into a pony tail so it will dry straight. And my hair was significantly thicker looking and feeling both ways. I was especially impressed when I pulled it back to make it straight, as it usually just hangs there, limp, and then starts to frizz the minute it starts to dry; after using the Cerafill system, however, after it dried and I brushed my hair, it was REALLY thicker- and not frizzy! I no longer have the “whorl” issue, and you don’t see ANY scalp! YAY!  The best part: my hair loss has STOPPED. I don’t know if this is a result of using the Cerafill system, if my hair was simply breaking and Cerafill strengthened it and made it stop breaking, or it's just a happy hormonal happenstance, but since I've started using the Cerafill system, when I shampoo my hair I get about 2-5 hairs in my hand, not a small handful. And my brush isn't full of hair any more. I know that losing 100 hairs a day is supposedly “normal”, but when I had a small ball of hair in my hands after I shampooed I flipped out!

Texture Effect is a really interesting styling product, because it’s designed to be used on dry hair between shampoos. You spray it on the roots and then style your hair. It’s not a hairspray, and it has no "hold" power, but it does give more body to your hair, absorbs oil, and adds fullness, with no residue, stickiness, or “crunchiness”.  I've also used additional styling products, such as “curl gels” and “smoothers”, with the system, and they all work well with it.

After using the Cerafill System...

And yes, I am happy!

A really interesting webpage where you can get Cerafill product information and styling tips, and see “before and after” photos:   

And if you’re looking for a Redken Salon, this is the “Salon Finder” page:  

This is the Redken webpage with info on the Cerafill System:

Another thing I should note is that I’m also Very gentle with my hair! For the most part I use a wide tooth comb (I really like the one made by Ouidad, which is really big and has a handle so I can hang it on things, making it less likely to lose...) or an “afro pick” to comb it, and when I brush it I’m very gentle. I do not shampoo every day, and as my hair isn't oily I truly don't have to. I also try to take Biosil liquid every day (6 drops, 2X day in a glass of juice), because a doctor told me that it’s the ONLY supplement that actually does anything for hair. And even though it is coming in gray, I try to color it only about 2 times a year, because many women I know who color their hair a lot are having hair loss issues… But I’m NOT ready to go gray!!! When I do have my hair colored (and I don't do it myself...), I often get highlights and lowlights, too, because they camouflage the gray; when it does start to grow in gray it’s a lot less noticeable when there are highlights and lowlights in the mix! (And, of course, I refer to the silver as “highlights”, too: “Wisdom Highlights”. LOL) 

Bottom line: I am going to keep using the whole Redken Cerafill system because the products truly work- my hair IS noticeably thicker AND I am not having any hair loss issues! The products are designed to work together, and the shampoo and conditioner do seem to thicken my hair and help the Dense FX work as well as it does. The ingredients in this product line seem to me to be unique, too; I’m not familiar with any other products that contain Arginine, Filloxane, Zinc-PCA, Ceramide, and SP-94. Please comment and let me know how it works for you!            

Friday, June 20, 2014

We are #LitterGeniuses! The Kitties- and us- are Lovin' our Litter Genie!

 I was REALLY lucky to be selected to try out the new Litter Genie cat litter disposal system, and I have to say that it's so good that we are buying a second one so the cats don't fight over it! The great thing about Litter Genie, to put it simply, is that it STOPS THE SMELL. The only things I really don't like about having house cats is the smell of cat poo from the litter boxes, and constantly having to deal with and dump cat poo! With the Litter Genie, you just scoop the poo up with the Litter Genie straining spoon, lift the lid and dump the poo in the Litter Genie, pull out the trap door so the poo goes down into the plastic bag, and then snap the trap door shut. END OF SMELL!  Emptying it is easy: you lift up the top half, cut the full bag with the attached cutter, and then pull down the refill and tie it off to start a new bag. The refill canister fits snugly in the top, and it's easy to load, and the unit is nice looking, with a tray to hold the scoop on the side. The scoop actually works well, and strains poo from litter, which saves on litter and makes the system easy to use. Litter Genie can hold up to two weeks worth of poo per cat, so you don't have to be running to empty it all the time, which is REALLY great, especially if you have a pet-sitter and you don't want them to have to deal with that nasty chore! I found Litter Genie really easy to set up, and each refill lasts for about two months per cat, making it economical, too. It honestly is a really great product, and, as I said, we're buying a second one, because we have litter boxes in two places to keep Caramel and Butterscotch (aka Li'l Psychopath) from fighting! 
Kitty Daddy, Kitties, & Litter Genie!
Litter Genie Cat Litter Disposal System

We took turns personalizing the Litter Genie to be funny... 

Caramel Kitty & Kitty-Daddy,
in their matching Elkhorn Inn shirts!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Dinner in the Dining Car", May 23-25, with Railroad Author/Historian James D. Porterfield

Please click on the blue link below and check out our new video on The Elkhorn Inn's 
"Dinner in the Dining Car" Weekend, May 23-25, 2014,  with railroad author/historian James D. Porterfield!

Please share the video and help us get the word out about this unique event!

Elkhorn Inn & Theatre, Landgraff, WV
Toll-Free USA: 1-800-708-2040
Tel: 304-862-2031

"Dinner in the Dining Car", May 23-25, with Railroad Author/Historian James D. Porterfield

"Dinner in the Dining Car" Weekend at the Elkhorn Inn

The Elkhorn Inn, Landgraff, WV 
Chef Dan & Guest Chef James Porterfield

NS "Pocahontas" going by the Elkhorn Inn
(c)Sean Hoyden 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why I want to go on an eight-day Emerald Waterways river cruise through Europe

Why do I want to go on an eight-day Emerald Waterways river cruise through Europe?
Art, music, food, wine, finding my "roots"- Lots of reasons! 
My husband is a chef, and I’m his resident “foodie”, and we are both history buffs and “culture vultures” of the first stripe, so a river cruise through Europe, with the opportunity to see and learn about the culture and history of our ports, as well as enjoy fine food and wine, has long been on our “bucket list” of dream trips! The eight-day “Danube Delights” cruise offered by Emerald Waterways  is incredibly appealing to both of us, for while we both spent time studying, living, and working in Europe many years ago, the ports on this cruise, especially Bratislava and Budapest, are places we haven’t been to and have always wanted to visit, especially as my father’s family is Hungarian, and the town his family was from is in Slovakia! (The one Hungarian expression he taught me is Eg├ęszs├ęgedre! (Papa pronounced it “Eggesheggereh!”) which means Cheers! or To Your Health!, and hopefully I’d get to use it a lot on this cruise!) I am Jewish, and my father’s family was from Michalovce; Nagymihaly in Hungarian, which my father pronounced “Nutmehi”. It is in eastern Slovakia, about 200 miles from Bratislava, and it would be amazing to finally see where I’m from! My father’s immediate family immigrated to the USA many years before WWII, but family members who remained there were murdered by the Nazis; the deportations of Jews from Michalovce to the extermination camps began in 1942, and in 1944, 3500 Jews of Michalovce were deported. The fact that this cruise includes both a home-hosted tea with a Slovakian family, and the time to go to the Holocaust Memorial and Museum of Jewish Culture in Bratislava would be deeply precious to me. The other reason we’d love so much to do this cruise is for the music: the Bavarian Oompah Band and Hungarian folk music evenings both sound delightful to us, and the chance to attend a concert in Vienna sounds totally wonderful! A very personal reason for so wanting to do this cruise is because I’m a pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrator, and it would be grand if I could do some sketches in the towns we visit, like I did when I studied painting in Italy “way back when”… My fondest memories of Europe are the hours I spent simply sitting in cafes, drinking endless cups of coffee, watching life go on around me, and sketching. I think the chance to do that again would be, perhaps, the best part of this cruise…
My European travel illustrations... would SO love to do this again!

My husband and I first cruised a few years ago, almost convinced by friends not to, as they were sure we wouldn't like it- and we discovered we LOVED it! They said cruising was for “old folks” (not adrenaline-junkies of 67 and 55 like us, LOL). Wrong!  They said the food wouldn't meet our expectations. Wrong! They said we’d be bored. Wrong! Although we highly enjoy the ports and excursions, I think what we love most about cruising is the romantic time we have to reconnect with each other, getting “dressed up” to enjoy lovely, elegant dinners (reminding each other of just how good we can really look!), sitting and talking over a glass of wine and taking pleasure in each other’s company, and just relaxing- being far away from the rushed “reality” of everyday life, and getting to see and enjoy new things… And we both truly like the fact, that, on this cruise, all the cabins have a river view (inside cabins are depressing!), and that it’s a smaller, more intimate cruise experience, with less people than on a huge ship. I think one of the things that would make this cruise so enjoyable is that Emerald includes so many “little” things that aren't so little: complimentary wine with lunch and dinner, coffee, tea, and bottled water, WiFi, port charges, shore excursions, and tips- as so many cruise lines “nickel-and-dime you to death” with hundreds of little charges for these things! While we've taken several Caribbean cruises, we've never had the pleasure of a river cruise, where we’d get to literally travel through Europe by boat, seeing the picturesque, historic towns “up close and personal”, and docking right “downtown”, as it were, with no tenders to wait for, and no choppy seas to deal with! So yes, this European river cruise looms large in our dreams for Many reasons!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Why we're the Ultimate Funjetters!

I am hoping we'll be chosen as the Ultimate Funjetters, so I'm posting 4 photos that I hope will prove that we'll give them the best bang for their buck! :-) They asked for four photos- and I was hard-pressed, because we're a couple of old adrenaline junkies, and I have LOTS of photos of us doing all sorts of cool things, from flying the Wright B flyer in Ohio, to floating on the Dead Sea and riding camels in the Negev desert, to horseback riding in Belize & Jamaica, to bathing in the volcano mud in Cartagena, Columbia and dressing up as a Maiko & a Samurai in Kyoto! Basically, we're game for anything! There are SO many things we've yet do to, and so many things we'd LOVE to do... We love snorkeling and fishing and para-sailing & horseback riding... We love to dance... and we're "foodies" who would love to explore the cultures of Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Hawaii- and having a blast in Vegas has been on our bucket list for a decade! Winning this amazing prize- 40 nights in 10 trips at 7 amazing places- would be THE best- an extraordinary chance to have The most romantic adventure trip of our lives! Dan is a workaholic, "can-do" US Army Retired guy, and I (Elisse) am an illustrator and an Official Artist for the US Coast Guard with 35 live-action illustrations in the USCG art collection. (And yes, I'd bring my pens and watercolors on our trip!) We met as FEMA disaster response workers during the 9/11 disaster response operation in NYC, and together we are partners in the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre, the historic inn we created from the flood-damaged building we bought after the floods of 2002! :-)

Zip-lining in West Virginia...

King of the world! We climbed to the top of pyramids in Mexico!

Dan & I para-sailing off the Mexico coast!

Dan & I Jet-Ski fishing!

Our "kids": beaded pet pins by The Lone Beader!

I have been following The Lone Beader (Diana L. Grygo) for a Long time.... and I have Badly wanted to own (and be able to wear) at least one piece of her work!
The Lone Beader's art is really incredible- her pet pins are truly miniature and wearable works of art:  fun, and sweet, and both incredibly clever and perfectly designed, and her beaded paintings are truly magnificent. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that she's "self-taught"- and I don't say that lightly, as I am a watercolor illustrator by profession, and I truly know what it takes to reach that level of skill, not to mention creativity.
My mother sent me a Hanukkah gift check this past December, and I quickly decided- backed by my hubby- that before it wound up going to pay for bills or some such necessity, I should "play it forward", as it were, and finally commission The Lone Beader to do pins of our "kids": Bear the kissy-needy pit bull, Lady-the-Almost-Lab, and the two Psycho Kitties, Caramel and Butterscotch! Back In The Day I had a contemporary art gallery in Germany and NYC, and I represented 26 artists. My original concept when I opened the gallery was to buy a piece from each artist to enable them to make a living at their art and not have to wait tables, and to build a collection at the same time. And I did it- until I literally ran out of money and lost my shirt in the gallery business thanks to a robbery that essentially finished me off. I had to reinvent myself professionally... which I did: as a FEMA Disaster Response Specialist. After I met my husband during the 9/11 Disaster Response Operation in NYC, I went to WV to be with him when he was deployed to West Virginia following the floods of 2002, and became not only his wife, but his partner in the restoration and owning of of the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre:!  And in the process of reinvention and working to make a living all these years, I'd forgotten how much fun it is to be able to commission an artist whose work you love, and let them do what they do best! I sent The Lone Beader photos of our four critters, and she started with Bear. It was So much fun to watch her work through the photos she sent us! And here they are, both completed, and as "Works-In-Progress",  from her sketches to the final pin/necklaces! We were going to frame them, on velvet in a shadow box, but I'm in the process of making myself a necklace on a silver wire with spacer beads, so I can wear them all at once!

The Lone Beader's pins: Caramel, Lady, Butterscotch, & Bear!

The Lone Beader's pins/necklaces, & the lovely boxes they came in!
PLEASE check out her etsy shop and get yourself a pin!:

Tuxedo Cat

Here are the photos of her work on our pets in progress:  

The Lone Beader's Sketch for Lady
Bear in progress!

Bear- as a work-in-progress! 
The Lone Beader's Sketch for Butterscotch
- aka "Li'l Psychopath"

Lady- as she started out!

Lady and Bear!
All the critters!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wisconsin Dells: Ducks & Cheese & Wine! And More Wine! And Indiana Wine, too!

And now back to The USA-Canada Road Trip! 
Driving east and south from British Columbia Canada towards West Virginia and home, our first stop in Wisconsin was Foster's Cheese Haus, for we could not leave Wisconsin without one last Wisconsin Cheese & Wine Debauch! We treated ourselves to a plate of assorted Wisconsin cheeses and glasses of Wisconsin wine, and then stocked up on both so we could enjoy them back at the Elkhorn Inn! (And yes, we managed to find places for it all in the packed-like-a-drum truck and freezer! LOL)
Driving through the Wisconsin Dells we Had to do The Ducks! I'd heard about these WWII amphibious vehicles from my US Army Ret. hubs, but while he'd done it all, I had never experienced one, so taking a ride through The Dells on land and sea in a WWII Duck was a must-do on this trip! The Wisconsin Dells are a pretty fabulous kitsch theme town of attractions and motels, that includes the Coliseum and Trojan Horse, as well as flamingos(!), and we got such a kick out of it all that we hope to get back sometime and have a holiday there! 

The Wisconsin Coliseum...

An original WWII Duck, fitted out with troops...

The Original Wisconsin Ducks are WII amphibious vehicles, which far-seeing Wisconsin tourism entrepreneurs were wise enough to buy up, and then use to create sightseeing tours through the Wisconsin forests and on the rivers and lakes... They are a Lot of fun to ride in, and the guide we had made it even more fun! We got to cruise down the Wisconsin River, crawl over the Sand Bar and through Dell Creek, and then plunge into Lake Delton (wheeee!), as well as travel across miles of really pretty wilderness trails, spotting deer hanging out in the woods, and learning about the history of the area. It's a great tour and we highly recommend it!
Through the woods...

On the river...

On the lake...

On the lake...

On the lake...

Deer! Back in the woods...

On the lake...

Our Duck...

Duck with The Wisconsin Trojan Horse... LOL

Dells Distillery

After our Duck Tour we needed a bite to eat, and trusty FourSquare on our Nexus7 led us to the Dells Distillery, a fun, local restaurant downtown, where we had a tasty lunch accompanied by their house-made fruit-
infused rums and whiskies! 
Foster's Cheese Haus Wine & Cheese!

Desert was Really good coffee and house-made fudge we bought down the street at  Original Wisconsin Dells Fudge, (I loved their pumpkin fudge!), and then we got on the road again... 

We had a map of Wisconsin apple farms and wineries in our truck that I had picked up at a tourism office, and we both wanted to stop at at least one of them... and so our last stop in the state was the Apple Barn Orchard and Winery, in Elkhorn, WI, where we tasted and bought heirloom apples (including really cool ones that Thomas Jefferson enjoyed!), as well as apple wine to take home... (Note: there is Always a place in a vehicle for a few bags of apples and a couple of bottles of wine!) 
Dan, choosing wines at Apple Barn Orchard & Winery
Dan, apple picking at Apple Barn Orchard & Winery
Our last day on the road found us in Indiana, and as I was Really blue, without telling me, Dan decided to make a detour to a nearby winery to cheer me up! (Did I marry good, or what?!) We passed a really fun hour+ having a wine tasting at the Buck Creek Winery, and Dan insisted I buy a cute winery top festooned with rhinestones to accompany all the wine and apple cider we bought to take home- and yes, found places for in the truck! :-) 

Buck Creek Winery
Last Road Trip Lunch:
New Bethel Ordinary, Wanamaker, Indiana
FourSquare on our Nexus7 again led us to a great local place to eat: we had a really good house-made pizza lunch at New Bethel Ordinary in Wanamaker, Indiana, before starting the final leg of our month-long road trip home. We arrived at the Elkhorn Inn safe and sound that night, with 450 lbs. of yummy moose meat in the freezer for Chef Dan to turn into fabulous smoked moose tenderloin, moose roasts, moose kebabs, moose chili, and moose burgers!