Hi, I’m an Over-Packer

Hi, I’m an Over-Packer

I like to think that I’ve traveled quite a bit in my life (although still not anywhere near the amount I would like). So it’s fair to say I’ve packed quite a few bags over the years. Yet somehow I still struggle to pack effectively for trips of any length of time.

My issue is that I pack way more than I need. The thought of living out of a carry-on, for instance, makes me shudder. I guess in the back of my mind I’m planning for the possibility of getting stranded somewhere with only my suitcase of clothes to get me through. Or maybe I suddenly plan to be one of those people that change outfits throughout the day?

I mean, it isn’t a bad idea necessarily to maybe bring along an extra outfit just in case. I have spilled stuff on myself countless times to know this. But I usually pack enough clothes for several extra outfits.

So why don’t you just pack less?

That’s a great question. Well, my problem is that I am terrible at planning outfits ahead of time. I’ve never been able to pick out my clothes the night before, for instance. Admittedly, I should work on this as part of my resolution to be more presentable at work, but that’s a topic for another day…

So instead of bringing a couple of complete outfits, I bring a bunch of articles of clothing so that I can make outfits as I go along. It’s not like my wardrobe isn’t cohesive. My color palette is mostly neutral (black and gray) and green, so most of my clothes matches each other fairly well. I just struggle to visualize how outfits will look on me. So sometimes I have a great outfit planned in my head, but when it comes time to put it on, I realize it doesn’t look good in person. So I enjoy having the flexibility to change stuff out. But, this means I’m carting an excess amount of clothes across the country with me at any given time. I’m essentially transporting a closet.

Then there’s the makeup…

Look, I wear a lot of it. My “everyday look” requires at least 15 products. So that in itself takes up a lot of room. Then add the brushes and tools…well, I might as well bring a separate suitcase just for hair and makeup (struggles of being high-maintenance, amirite?). In this category I do feel more justified, because I use everything I bring along. But I need to try to pare things down a bit…

So between clothes, shoes, makeup, toiletries, styling tools, shoes, accessories, and then electronics…I pack quite a bit.

So that’s where I am. In a couple of days I’ll be flying to Denver where I’ll be staying for over a week. I paid for a single checked bag. My goal is to pack less stuff, but without feeling like I’m missing anything.

I made myself a nifty Google Docs so that I can access my list from my phone. Here’s a quick snapshot of it:

Just a portion of my list

I feel like laying it all out in this format makes it easier for me to combine outfits.

After my trip I’ll be going through my list to see if I used everything I brought along. And hopefully I can use that data to adjust the way I pack. In general I am trying to be a less cluttered person, so this is a start.

Wish me luck!


Accidental Grandma Hair

Accidental Grandma Hair

So a couple of months ago I took the plunge and went blonde, and since then, somehow my hair has magically ended up silvery gray. It wasn’t intentional, but damn do I love it. So I thought I’d share the process it took to get to this point, along with the upkeep required to keep my hair its current shade. I also tried to include photos of my progression from dark brunette to silvery gray/platinum blonde.

My natural hair color

When I went in to see my stylist, I meekly showed him a photo of the gorgeous Chrissy Teigen and her mane of golden hair. My natural hair is super dark, almost black, so knowing it would take a couple of sessions of bleach to get it light enough, I had scheduled 2 appointments within weeks of each other. My stylist, however, took it as a challenge to get my hair as light as possible in a single, 3 hour long session. The end result was a yellowish blonde, much lighter than I had expected. I was shocked he was able to get it as light as he had considering how dark my hair was. So I rolled with it for a couple of weeks, knowing I would be back in the salon soon to touch up my roots anyways.


For my next session, a couple of weeks later (about 3 weeks or so), he redid my roots, and continued to tone my hair to lift away the yellowish golden tones. This left my hair a touch more cool toned and closer to that true platinum that I had not intended to pursue. Again, I just went with it, since I actually liked the lighter shade at this point.

After one round of intense bleaching, my hair held up really well. The most noticeable damage were the flyaways I suddenly had at my roots and hairline due to breakage, but it was manageable.

Toner application cooled down the yellow considerably (plus note the flyaways)

My next appointment fell the week before my birthday trip to Las Vegas. I had originally intended to just redo my roots as usual, but my stylist wanted to tackle some of the more noticeable yellow in my hair. At that point he said toning it would not do much, so his last resort was to bleach my hair all over again. Considering that it had almost been 2 months since I last bleached it, I figured my hair would tolerate the bleach. The end result was hair that was lightened to a true platinum, essentially.

I initially panicked because as I sat in the salon chair, I couldn’t run my fingers through my wet hair without chunks breaking off. My stylist reassured a horrified me that this was normal and to be expected. But, he said, and I quote, “If the breakage continues, we can just give you a chin length bob.” Awesome. Because that’s what I wanted to hear.

For a couple of days I was afraid to touch my hair at all, much less style it like I normally do. I read that a protein treatment would help the gumminess, so I did that, along with several hydrating and repairing masques. Also along with this, I discovered that my purple shampoo, when left on long enough, would give my hair violet tinges here and there. I actually liked the effect quite a bit. Anyways, my hair had appeared to return to its normal texture just in time for Vegas!

Since then, I have just gone in to touch up my roots. I have continued using the purple shampoo regularly, and I found out that with enough usage it makes my hair gray. I’ll be honest, I have been in love with the gray haired trend, so even though it was never my goal to get it this shade, I am quite pleased with it. As for texture, I can tell my hair is a drier than it used to be, even after the first round of bleach. I have a lot of breakage. A lot. It’s most noticeable right along my hairline, which of course is almost impossible to hide. I’ve been contemplating bangs to blend in the chemically cut bits, but I’m not ready for that quite yet. The rest of the breakage is hidden decently well by the rest of my hair, so I don’t think it’s necessary to cut it all at this point, but I’ve been considering it. My hair has been pretty forgiving all things considered, but it does also feel less thick and full than it used to. I can’t say I wasn’t prepared for all the damage, though.

So after all of that, here’s what I use to maintain my hair.

  • Clairol’s Shimmer Lights – This anti-brass purple shampoo and conditioner is designed for chemically treated blonde, white, and silver hair. As I learned, it deposits violet pigments in your hair to cancel out yellow and brassy tones. As I also learned, over-using it will make your hair purple, and then gray after repeated use. I am not a huge fan of the smell, but I do appreciate the effect it gives my hair. I will continue to use this for now, but I wouldn’t mind finding a more nourishing alternative.
  • Aussie’s 3-Minute Miracle – Essentially, this is a hair masque that claims to replenish moisture. I absolutely love this stuff. One, because it smells like coconut, two, because it’s insanely cheap, and three, because it make my hair feel noticeably soft after one use. I think all it does is coat hair in like, silicone or something to make it appear and feel soft (I know, silicones are bad…), so the damage is still there. But I don’t mind as long as it makes my hair feel better to the touch.
  • It’s a 10 Leave-in Conditioner – On the other end of the spectrum, this stuff is pricey as hell. So it is definitely a splurge. I use it on my damp hair right before I blow dry it as it also acts as a heat protectant. It helps with frizz and the overall texture of my hair. Plus it smells fabulous. I generally spray a few pumps into my hand and disperse it into my hair using my fingers.
  • One n’ Only Argan Oil – I use this as a finishing serum to tame frizz and to add some shine to my hair. I use it after I flat iron my hair. A little goes a super long way. I think I’ve had the same bottle for over a year? I use a dime-sized amount that I first distribute through my ends. Then whatever is leftover I use on the rest of my hair.
  • Coconut Oil – I am a huge fan of coconut oil due to its moisturizing qualities. Although I use it for my skin (body, but not face), I mostly have it on hand to do hair treatments. Basically all I do is allow the heat of my hand to melt it, then I distribute it evenly throughout my dry hair (I usually time this the day I would be washing my hair). Then I wind my hair into a bun and let it soak for a couple of hours. Usually I’ll even sleep with it in my hair. I always wrap my pillow in a towel and then slip a t-shirt over that to prevent stains. Only thing is that you have to be super thorough when washing the oil out, otherwise you will be left with greasy hair. It’s also recommended that you avoid putting it on your roots and scalp, but I appreciate any extra moisture I can give my scalp. I usually do this maybe once or twice a month.
  • Batiste Dry Shampoo – I wash my hair maybe once or twice a week. I will say that since I bleached my hair, it is drier in general. So I can go longer between washes compared to when it was dark. Dry shampoo is an absolute staple of mine that really helps me stretch those days out. I’ve been using Batiste for years now, and it’s still my go-to.

All in all it has definitely been an adventure. I have to touch my roots up every 3-4 weeks otherwise it becomes difficult to get the new growth that true platinum shade. I’ve certainly made the mistake and have had to deal with some yellow roots for a couple of weeks. Now I’m militant about scheduling my appointments on time.

So I realize this ended up much longer than I anticipated, but I tried to cover everything! I think I’ll be rocking the granny hair for a while, but I’ve also really been itching to try a pastel color over it (maybe lilac or lavender?), so we shall see!