Feb 28, 2011

Look for Less

 Recently I had been drooling over these Elizabeth Cole Crystal Fish earrings I saw online. Shelling out the $188 to buy the stunners wasn't an option so I took to finding a comparable pair for the cheap.

 Luckily I came across Top Shop's Fish Bone Drop earrings which are an affordable $20. They aren't an exact match, but it does give me the look I was going for without doing too much damage on my wallet. I'm obsessed with wearing gold so with the spring approaching (though it's starting to feel more like summer down here in SC) I've been on the hunt for fun accessories to breathe a little life into my wardrobe.

As for the rest of my spring/summer wardrobe... I'm still into burn out tees. They are my staple t-shirt with Victoria's Secret making my favorite one. I saw Target starting to make a few as well so that might be a nice alternative. I'm hooked on feather earrings and on the hunt for more to expand my selection. I gave up searching for the OPI crackle polish and instead found the China Glaze version at Sally's. The nice thing about the China Glaze version is that it comes in 5 different shades. In terms of bottoms I've been pretty consistent. The Gap makes my favorite jeans and honestly I don't need to search elsewhere. They have enough of a variety of styles and washes to please me. Sometimes you have to just stick with what's working.

What are your staples for Spring/Summer?

Feb 25, 2011

Tech Love...

I'm not really obsessed with having the latest and greatest in technology. You only need to look at my Blackberry Curve sans 2008 and that fact is made very clear. My husband and I were out running errands yesterday and while in Best Buy (his version of a candy store) I was blown away by the Samsung Galaxy Tab! Maybe it was my ability to play Angry Birds in a larger size, or the front and rear-facing cameras... but within 20 minutes this thing had grown on me!

I did a little research and discovered that Blackberry is coming out with their very own version of a tablet, the Blackberry 4G PlayBook, this summer so I'm on the fence about what to do. I know that I need one of these devices in my life asap so I'll have to resort to picking the brain of my resident tech genius about which device he thinks is the best.

Sidebar: Does everyone have a friend that they treat as their personal google? lol

Feb 24, 2011

Peace Images Jewelry: Beautiful Designs. Peaceful Touch. (via @PeaceImages)

With designs aimed to uplift and reinforce natural beauty and cultural differences, Camille Peace and her PeaceImages line of handmade accessories is one to watch. I had the pleasure of interviewing the talented designer on how she got her start, what to expect from her Spring '11 line, as well as if the bride-to-be will be rocking any of her pieces on her big day.

Q. I've read that you got your start making jewelry after wandering the aisles of a local Wal-Mart in St. Louis. How did you go from someone looking to fix a few pieces of their own jewelry to being the creative force behind all of your wonderful designs?

A. It's been a divine process of shedding bad habits and embracing blessings. Fixing and modifying old pieces of my own, transitioned into creating pieces for others. When I trust the process and my ability to manifest what I visualize, I feel limitless in what I can create.

Q. Your art allows you to channel your various emotions. Which emotion has created your favorite piece?

A. Love.

Q. You seem to have found a unique way of mixing various materials together to create vibrant jewelry. What's your process for picking materials? Do you ever find yourself going "too far" with your designs and needing to be pulled back?

A. My process for picking materials is to stay open. A new piece of jewelry can be found in the oddest of places. Yes, I definitely take it too far sometimes, but i think it's healthy. It lets me know what I'm capable of :) better to take it too far than to never even explore that part of your ability!!

Q. A percentage of all your sales are donated to The Thai Freedom House. How did that become your charity of choice?

A. I know the director personally and have interacted with her on several occasions. The work she does is as grassroots as it comes. You don't come across people like Lisa often. She's endured the best of times and the worst of times during her stay in Thailand, and all in the name of giving children a choice at a better life when they otherwise might not have had one. It's incredibly inspiring.

Q. What can people expect from your Spring '11 line?

A. Something for everyone. I attempted to try some new things while still holding onto the things that make PeaceImages, PeaceImages - - kemetic symbols, natural elements and size!! I challenged myself and I am soooooo happy with the results!!!

Q. What are your price points?

A. I have items starting as low as $10 all the way up to $150. I try not to leave anyone out.

Q. If you weren't designing jewelry what would you be doing?

A. I'd be in social work. My calling is definitely one of service. I've always known this. Before I started doing jewelry full time I worked in a shelter for abused women. It was life-changing work.

Q. Congrats on your engagement! Do you plan on wearing your designs on your wedding day?

A. Thank you! Yes!!!! I'll probably make myself some sort of head-dress and elaborate beaded hand-chain. The wedding will be small, and probably outside. We're both laid back nature-loving music-heads who have never given much thought to how our wedding day would play out.

For more information on Camille and PeaceImages:

Boutique: http://www.peaceimagesjewelry.com
Blog: http://peacemoves.blogspot.com
If you're in the St. Louis area: Yeyo Arts on Locus Ave.

Feb 23, 2011

N♥tural Hair: Washing and Going...

What would appear to be one of the easiest, most basic styles to rock (the wash n go) has been the source of many headaches for me. I didn't have an issue with the washing part, but the actual "going" was hanging me up. Try as I might I could never leave my strands alone while they dried and anyone that has tried to wear a 'wash n go' knows that the key to this style is not touching your hair until it's dry.

A few days ago I had some time on my hands and decided to tackle this hair style again. Unlike the braid out which I successfully tried only to realize that I didn't like the look of overly crimped hair on me, I was never able to leave my hair alone and see the true results of a 'wash n go'. It wasn't the easiest thing (I had to find ways to keep my hands busy), but I was finally able to try this style and it was a success!

I co-washed and detangled my hair with Herbal Essence Hello Hydration, leaving a little in, and then got out of the shower with soaking wet strands. From that point it was just a waiting game.

Wet Hair

I must say that the only downside to wearing this style is the amount of time it can take your hair to dry. I didn't want to use a diffuser or hooded dryer so it ended up taking HOURS for my hair to dry. Also, the amount of water that can drip onto your shoulder and neck is also annoying. I kept a towel around my neck to help with this. If you have some time to allow your hair to dry or are someone that doesn't mind going about their day with wet hair this may not be an issue for you.

Dry Hair

Once my hair was dry I was thrilled at the results. My hair was big, full and uber soft. I've been wearing twist-outs for so long that it was nice to see what my hair texture would do on its own. I think everyone should try to master this style as it's the easiest thing to do with your hair.... literally step out the shower with soaking wet hair and let nature do its thing!

Feb 22, 2011

N♥il Art: Neutral Love (update)

** Update - - wanted to add some pics of myself rocking the color!! see below**

While watching a YouTuber I like (lipstickloveaffair), I saw her rocking a great shade of polish in her latest video. I had to know what the color was and she told me it was none other than Essis's Mink Muffs. I'm a huge fan of Essie Polishes (they're probably my favorite brand), but due to Ulta being in BFE driving there to pick up the shade wasn't an option. Also, most of you know about my hate/hate relationship with the SC Postal System so I try to not order things online.

To my surprise I found a similar shade in Target at half the price. Sonia Kashuk's "Tauped" nail color is a dead ringer for Essie's Mink Muffs and is making my day a bit brighter (though not literally because the shade is dark lol). I was impressed with the quality of her polish and at $4.99 it's a great price. I think I even like Sonia's polish better as it has more gray in it which is what I prefer.

(obviously those aren't my hands in the pics lol... found them online)

Feb 21, 2011

Back on the wagon...

I hit a snag in my 5k training when what was meant to be 2, maybe 3 days off from running turned into a week long break. In my defense, I did run up to my hair consultation because I anticipated taking a break, but once my locks were straight running and working out in general were a wrap. What makes this situation even more humorous is that I wasn't even wearing my hair down in straight styles lol... Still, it was nice to have a break from the daily styling and I took it and ran with it.

I was starting to feel guilty for not running so after my week off I got back on the Couch-to-5k program. I'm currently entering week 4 and almost halfway through my training. The weather in SC is getting warmer so I'm trying to find a better time to do my outdoor running. I'm not much of a morning person so I can't bring myself to take advantage of the cool breeze in the early hours... and I don't want to get snatched running around this place at night (yes, I'm paranoid of getting kidnapped lol... something I've carried over from childhood).

One of the great things about the Couch-to-5k program is its versatility. You can use it running outside or indoors with a treadmill. The great folks at our apartment complex are in the process of replacing the treadmills (all of them are broken) and I'm glad. We pay too much money to have a gym with equipment consistently glitching out.

Sidebar: While I've been doing all this cardio I started to pass on weights. Last week I started incorporating weight training back into my routine and it felt amazeballs. I don't want to look swole or anything, but there's no better feeling than seeing your muscles in the mirror lol.

Feb 20, 2011

When good help goes bad...

There's nothing worse than someone helping you out with something, yet resorting to hanging it over your head whenever they can. My mother has paid my car insurance for, well... for forever lol. However, whenever we have an inkling of a disagreement she "conveniently" reminds me that I can start looking for my own coverage.

Now, don't get me wrong... I'm extremely grateful to have a mother that is capable and willing to help me out. Plus, I'll be 27 this year so it's not out of the box to think about getting my own coverage lol... but I already am a stubborn type of person that loathes asking anyone for help (even my parents), so it's just super annoying to get the car insurance thing thrown in my face.

I'm sure I run the risk of sounding like a brat even having this complaint, but it's not like I'm a trust fund kid, living off my parents, or even getting broken off with money from them. This isn't to say my parents aren't uber supportive, encouraging and help me out in whatever ways they can... but I'm not some Beverly Hills brat whining about nothing.

I was curious as to if anyone else out there has ever found themselves in a similar situation with your parents, friends or other family members? Better yet, who do you have your car insurance with? Looks like I'll be shopping around for coverage lol.

Feb 19, 2011

Turn your "Curltastrophe" into a payday

A great outfit, accessories and makeup can't hide hair that failed to get the memo. Nothing can ruin a day faster than a hair disaster, but thanks to NaturallyCurly.com you can turn your "curltastrophe" into a payday!

NaturallyCurly.com is currently hosting a "Curltastrophes" contest with 5 grand prize winners receiving a year's supply of Pantene's Curly Hair Series and a Flip Cam.

Entering the contest is a breeze - - all you need to do is share your "curltastrophe" with NaturallyCurly readers. Enthusiasm, creativity and pictures may give you an edge over the competition, so put on your thinking cap and bring your best experience to the table!

I was recently named one of NaturallyCurly.com's newest vloggers... all a result of entering their competition last month, so please know that winning is a possibility. However, you can't win a race you don't enter so share your story today!

Feb 18, 2011

The value of a smile...

I should probably blame my mother for instilling this borderline obsessive compulsive fixation with teeth in me, but as I've gotten older I can't deny the importance of a great smile. Now, I think I have a nice smile but if you break down the actual composition of my teeth I almost feel like they're working against me. My teeth treat my mouth like public enemy #1. Why the animosity? It feels like no matter how much I brush, floss, rinse with mouth wash... every time I step into the dentist's office I need a filling, root canal, crown... something!

For anyone that has experienced their own set of dental woes, you're aware that just a few procedures can rack up a hefty bill. Maybe hefty isn't a strong enough word... Dental work can rack up astronomical costs.... costs that leave you fighting back tears as you struggle to make your co-pay and get out of the office before the hygienists see you breakdown... (or was that just me? lol...)

Wednesday I headed to the dentist to get my permanent crown put in, and after handling some billing issues was told that I had overpaid for my root canal/crown procedure and had a credit!! I literally wanted to cry - - it felt like the dental gods were shining down on me from the heavens. Since I'm not working and still had a list of dental things to get done (not cosmetic, but necessary things) the fact that I have a credit at the dentist's office is kinda like winning the lottery.

To make a long story short, I've been getting my dental work done in stages over the past few years with the left side of my mouth being the last thing on deck. If you're familiar with the cost of a root canal and crown then you're aware of how just 1 tooth can max out your insurance for the year. I currently have 2 (maybe 3) root canals left to get done. For the dentally hip, #13 and #15 .... with #14 being a borderline "maybe".

#13 is next up on my list and I found this picture of Dawn (Danity Kane/Dirty Money) with her #13 tooth pulled!! This was my inspiration to stay focused on getting my dental work handled.

I just don't understand why people don't invest more money into their smiles... especially teeth that are in your smile line! Like I said before, I'm obsessed with teeth/smiles and could rant about this all day long. For now, God has blessed with me with a way to get all of my remaining dental work completed this year and I'm on cloud nine.

Feb 15, 2011

NaturallyCurly.com Winners Chosen!!

Correction: The response to the NaturallyCurly.com Vlogger search was so overwhelming (close to 40 entries) that the NC team ended up selecting 15 ladies to join their team!! I'm so happy to announce that I was one of the lucky ones chosen!

Thanks to everyone that helped support me on this quest. I'm looking forward to bringing everyone great reviews and tons of videos :)

Fashion Fix: White by Vera Wang

Let's be honest, the wedding dress is one of the most important details of a wedding, but everyone doesn't have the $5k price range to splurge at Kleinfeld's.Vera Wang is a heavy hitter in the bridal business and anyone that has been drooling over her high priced designs can rejoice - - she's coming to a David's Bridal near you! Vera will be launching her White by Vera Wang collection which features her gorgeous designs ranging in price from $600 - $1400.

You shouldn't have to sacrifice quality for affordability so it's nice to see a major retailer like David's Bridal partnering with the leading wedding designer. My husband and I went the Vegas route when we got married, but I'll definitely be checking out the White by Vera Wang line when we have our vow renewal. You can't beat these prices.

Feb 14, 2011

N♥tural Hair: Ends Trimmed... finally!

Last week I finally made my way into the Flo Hair Studio for an appointment with salon owner Chris McPherson. I was looking for a salon that didn't necessarily cater to natural hair, but a stylist that was well-versed in how to style curly hair. I found McPherson and his studio while searching the salon directory on NaturallyCurly.com, a great resource for those looking to find a salon and reviews in their area.

After a consultation which was originally intended to find out more information on the DevanChan Curly Girl Cut, we decided that trimming my hair the traditional dry/straight way was a better option for me. For those that are curious, the DevaChan cut is a curl by curl cut meant to emphasize shape and movement for those with curly hair. Since I don't wear my hair curly 100% of the time McPherson didn't recommend getting the cut done on my hair at this time.

Flo Hair Studio is a minimalist meets modern salon in the heart of Columbia's downtown corridor. They have a more natural approach opting to bypass chemical services like relaxers, perms and brazilian blowouts. The only chemicals they use are for color so if you're looking for anything else you want to look elsewhere. However, if you're on the hunt for a stylist that will take the time to learn your hair texture and treat your strands to his delicate touch, McPherson is the person for you!

It's always hectic trying to find a new stylist... especially for me because I was obsessed with Kim Allison @ Apricot Lounge in Scottsdale (I'll be heading back to her chair once I move lol), but McPherson was awesome to work with. He takes his time going through your hair and has a gentle touch. Many women shy away from salon trims because stylists can be scissor happy, but McPherson analyzed my ends with a fine tooth comb and took off 6 months of splits and knots.

If you're a woman with curly hair I would especially recommend him because he understands curls, but don't fret - - he can work his magic on any head of hair. Feel free to give his salon a call and set up a consultation. Speak with him about what results you're looking to get and see if he's a good fit for you!

Flo Hair Studio
911 Lady St - Suite G (entrance in the alley)
Columbia, SC 29201

Feb 13, 2011

Neighbors know your name...

You know the kind of neighbors that keep an eye on your place while you're out of town or ask to borrow some sugar? Well, I don't have those types of neighbors. Friday night my ear drums were violated as I was yet again forced to listen to my neighbor's sexual escapades. 

(I should preface this rant with the small fact that overhearing others have sex is one of my biggest pet peeves. I don't find it a turn on, I don't find it funny, I just find it somewhat awkward, slightly gross, and unnecessary)

There's nothing worse than having your peaceful silence broken by the grunts, groans and squeaks from next door. I don't know if there's even a proper way to voice a complaint. I mean, is it their fault the walls are thin? Do I send an email to the property manager and form a "noise complaint"? Knock on their door or leave a passive-aggresive note lol?

When I lived in Chicago (ground floor apt) the neighbors above me were next level obnoxious with their noise. I swear they made a habit of moving around every piece of furniture they owned at odd hours of the night. Instead of voicing a complaint to the landlord or speaking to them in person (they barely spoke English), I took matters into my own hands - - literally grabbing a broom and proceeding to bang on the ceiling. I swear this did the trick lol.

Apartment living can be treacherous at times so it's nice to find others that feel my pain. I came across a great article on Apartment Therapy offering tips on how to combat loud neighbors. Better than the advice in the article were the slew of hilarious reader comments.

Have you ever had to deal with loud neighbors? Better yet, have YOU ever been the loud neighbor?

Feb 12, 2011

3 letters, 1 day at a time....

The late nights studying, highs of passing a test, and meltdowns from stress are all experienced on the road to becoming a CPA. 3 Letters, 1 Day at a Time documents one woman's journey to the wonderful world of being a CPA, and was actually named one of the Top 50 Blogs by Accounting Professors, Students and Professionals. I for one am celebrating this accolade because I've been friends with this blogger since high school. Not only is she sharing her life as an accountant, CPA candidate and everything in between, but she's one of the best examples of beauty and brains that I know. For a real-time look at the ups and downs on the road to CPA-dom this blog is a must read! 

Feb 11, 2011

Newly Nesting: Splurge vs Save

When to splurge and when to save? It's a question that many people have varying opinions on, but for a married couple financial matters can quickly become an issue. When it comes to budgeting my husband and I are on different ends of the spectrum. However, one of the things we differ on most revolves around grocery shopping. Yes, the simple task of getting groceries each week can turn into an all out war... my husband repping #TeamSplurge (or in his words "Team I like my shit to taste good" lol), while I rep #TeamSave.

His argument is that there's no such thing as "splurging" when it comes to food. In his book all food is a necessity and it doesn't matter the cost. His soul dies a little inside when I grab the generic brand bread, cereal or juice. He loathes the idea of buying the bread that simply states "bread" or "Cinnamon Squares" instead of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

My theory? There are certain things worth splurging on, but when there's a sale or an opportunity to go cheap I will. I don't need to have name brand everything. I can grab store brand milk. Kashi is the only cereal that I won't go cheap on... everything else? Give me the store version. Fruit Os taste just like Fruit Loops to me lol. I'll also get store brand ice cream, cheese (though I prefer the store brand deli slice), and even store brand veggies. More often than not you're only paying for the "brand name" and very rarely does the quality differ greatly.

I think we all have our favorite foods that we'll splurge on, but for the most part everyone can agree that men are absolutely clueless when it comes to grocery shopping. For now, I have agreed to let him get his name brand cereal, but I still skimp on other things.

How do you handle grocery shopping in your household?

Feb 10, 2011

N♥tural Hair: Playing with Color

Recently I was getting bored with my hair color and wanted to experiment with a different shade. Due in part to bad experiences I've had in the past with coloring my own hair (a highlight experiment gone wrong lol), I've shied away from color in the past years. Still, I found myself itching to make a change and without the funds to get a Brazilian Blowout or Sew-In (my usual answers for hair boredom), I set out on a search to find "safe" color.... or a level 1 which would wash out in under 12 shampoos.

It's surprising how few brands offer level 1 coloring options, but even more scarce are the brands targeting level 1 color for black hair. In fact, the Dark and Lovely Reviving Colors line was the only brand specifically for black hair. I decided to try their #393 Spiced Auburn (reddish brown color) from the line and was rather pleased with the results. My video gives a full review with all of the Pros and Cons - - take a look!

Feb 9, 2011

Uphill Battle...

I wanted to title this post "Uphill Running Ain't Nobody's Bitch" but that was overly vulgar and unnecessary. Still, I took my training to the streets of South Carolina this afternoon and it was intense. For one I completely took for granted planned communities and the "luxury" of having consistent sidewalks. Seriously South Carolina, why do some streets have sidewalks and some don't? Running in the street isn't a good look so I'll be hitting the trails by my house in the future. Most importantly... how come nobody told me that uphill running is torture! I don't want to compare it to hell on earth, but yeah... it was a close second. With every uphill climb I faced the little voice in my head started to question why I ever wanted to participate in a 5k. Luckily the downhill jogs would ease the pain and I'd start to feel invigorated again.

Running on a treadmill is pretty much a walk in the park, so I've been loving the challenge of outdoor runs. In fact, most of my training has been outdoors unless the weather is playing games... but that treadmill incline has nothing on nature! The hilly terrain of South Carolina pushed my body to its limits and I feel like I took my 5k training to the next level.

As I enter week 3 of the Couch to 5k 9 week plan I'm excited about working on my pace and endurance. I can already feel some changes in my body too... you know, the good kind of sore/tight feeling. I can't wait to see what I'm looking like at week 9.

Feb 8, 2011

MoptopMaven's "Healthy Hair in 2011 Challenge": Update #3

Entering the 2nd month of the challenge, I finally feel like I've hit my groove and found a good routine.

I no longer am aiming to do the hour long deep conditioning sessions with heat, instead opting for overnight pre-poos. I am going to be cutting some castor oil with a bunch of coconut oil (absolutely hate castor oil alone... ranted about it in the video), applying to my hair, and allowing to soak overnight. To do this I apply the mixture to my hair, put into 4 flat twists, cover with a plastic cap, scarf, and go to sleep. I actually stumbled upon doing this treatment overnight and was shocked at how moisturized my hair was after washing the next morning. I also didn't have any issues with the oil all over the place in the shower (like last time) and I think this is because the oil had ample time to absorb into my hair.

Deep Conditioning
In place of the 45-60 min deep conditioning treatments I was doing before, I'll now be using treatments that can be applied for 5-10 minutes in the shower. My top pick is Garnier Fructis' 3min Undo Dryness Reversal Treatment. I've been using this product for over a year and must say that it's one of my staple deep conditioners. I like that it can be used in under 10 mins and seems to melt into my hair. You don't need to leave this on for an hour to get the results. This product is designed to yield great results within minutes.

DevaChan Cut
I have a consultation today with a DevaChan trained stylists. I'm on the fence about getting the signature curly cut because I do like to straighten my hair and am concerned about it looking lopsided. I'll see what he has to say, but at the very least I need to get a really good trim. I haven't had my ends trimmed in about 6 months. Since I wear my hair curly the majority of the time this hasn't been a real issue. I'm looking forward to getting rid of some of the splits and those damned fairy knots! Lord... I hate those knots.

For those of you participating in the challenge how is your progress thus far?
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