Oct 28, 2011

Halloween, General Glam style...

Happy Halloween weekend to everyone!! I'm hours away from what is sure to be an amazing weekend with some fab ladies. One of my besties, and fellow blogger, is celebrating her birthday and the ratchetness is sure to ensue... in a good way of course! Our big Dominican Republic trip is on deck within a few months, so we're keeping things lowkey, yet still fabulous with a staycation weekend of sorts.

General Glam

I had no luck finding my favorite Halloween costume EVER from 2008, (I still have this costume, but it's packed away at my house in Arizona...) and those 3 costumes I bought back in 2009 and didn't get to wear? Those are in Arizona too... packed in a box lol.

This year I opted to go back to my 2008 military inspiration and picked up the "General Glam" costume!! I'm pretty much obsessed with this, but we'll see how everything comes together tonight. The club we're heading to has wreaked HAVOC on my natural hair in the past (i.e. it's a fucking sweat box), so I'm going to arm myself with bobby pins, a hair tie, and the hat that (thankfully) my costume came with.

What are your holiday plans?

Oct 25, 2011

Chicago Naturals: Treasure our Tresses Event 11/5 @ 6p

Chicago Naturals - - have you been waiting for a national event to head our way? EDEN BodyWorks is answering the call by partnering with popular hair bloggers The Mane Source and Natural Chica to bring us “Treasure Our Tresses.”

The event will take place November 5th and feature an evening of hair education, EDEN BodyWorks products, appetizers, and the opportunity to mingle with blogging favs The Mane Source and Natural Chica

Tickets are $10 (click here to purchase) and include an EDEN BodyWorks gift bag.

For any ladies looking to win some tickets to this event, Chicago Beauty Blogger "The Sassy Peach" is giving away 2 tickets on her blog! The contest is open through 10/28, so click here for your chance to win.

Oct 24, 2011

Lauren's San Fran Studio

Once again I'm on a studio apartment kick...

I came across Lauren's San Fransico studio on Apartment Therapy and loved her use of space, color, and overall lived-in feel. The light coming from her windows is amazing, and goes to show the importance of having a well-lit space, regardless of its size. I'm on the apartment hunt and not sure if my husband would strangle me at the prospect of living in a studio lol... (location, location, location!!!), but I'm continuing to find inspiration for small spaces and how to make them work.




Name: Lauren
Location: San Francisco, California

I moved into my quintessential San Francisco 500 sq ft studio just four months ago. After a few years of bouncing around living with roommates, I was excited to have my own place.

I have always had a passion for history and I believe that comes through in the decor of my apartment. I try to mix a variety of flea market finds with big box furniture. I like when items have character. For example, I purchased the trunk in the middle of the "living room" from the flea market. It has the original owner's name painted on top and traveling stickers attached to the side. I can only imagine what travels this trunk went on before making it to my living room. I almost couldn't fit it into my VW Beetle to take it home but happily I finally squeezed it in the front seat.

Most of my influence comes from turn of the century to the 20s when my apartment was built. If I had to pick one designer who I admire it would be Windsor Smith because she creates colorful and intricate but livable spaces (and she plays with graphic black and white patters which I love).

Check out more of Lauren's style: Live. Happy. Inspired.

Retail Therapy...

I think every woman would argue that retail therapy is a valid form of therapy, often being the cure-all for a boring, stressful, or emotional day. Even if you're having a great day, retail therapy can infuse additional endorphins into your life and jazz up your day even more!

Ever since Forever21 creepy crawled its way into my life, I've been surrounded by $20 clothes and more yellow bags than I'd like to admit. I decided to head over to Nordstrom during my lunch on Friday for a change of scenery and to eye some quality shoes. Wow... I've been missing SO much. Although Nordstrom Rack is a favorite of mine for discounted shoes, Nordstrom is still leading the pack in quality, higher end shoes. I was in shoe heaven for 60 mins.

I spied racks and rows of boots, heels, flats... anything and everything to put a smile on my face. I even spotted some uber cute bracelets that were screaming out to be thrown in my bag - - but at $78 a pop I'll probably leave those at the store lol.

Slightly obsessed with these bracelets - - but they're $78 each :( Womp!

On a shallow note, it felt awesome to be surrounded by nice, non-twenty dollar items for a change lol. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to stop shopping at Forever21 just yet, but I'm 27 so I should own clothes that cost more than $20 and are better quality.

Oct 21, 2011

Next up to review: Curlformers, Mizani True Textures

Earlier this week I received one of my favorite things - - a brown box from NaturallyCurly.com!! I'm always excited to get products to review and in the coming weeks I'll be taking a look at Curlformers, along with additional products from the Mizani True Textures line.

Although I previously reviewed the Mizani True Textures line, I had not tried all of the products the line offered. This time around NaturallyCurly.com sent me the "Perfect Curl Defining Cream Gel" and after using it for a few days I'm shockingly a fan! Seriously... I was blown away that I liked this product. My initial review of the Mizani True Textures line was luke warm, at best... so I definitely was skeptical that I would think any different about the "Perfect Curl Defining Cream Gel." I had just blogged about searching for the perfect styler and this product may have answered those prayers.

As for the curlformers - - it was a daunting 1 hr 15 min process to get them all in my head lol... but I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the results. I'll be filming a video review giving my full opinion, along with some tips and tricks I figured out while using them. I felt like some sort of space alien at the end of the night when I was about to go to sleep (see right --->) but they were a million times better to sleep in than flexirods!!!


Oct 19, 2011

Lighten Your Natural Hair Without Using Bleach...

After posting the results of my amazing color job (by the wonderful Cori @ Justin's Salon Studio), I received a bunch of questions asking how I was able to go lighter without using bleach. Excited to share her wealth of knowledge with my readers, Cori allowed me to pick her brain hoping to educate everyone on the basics of hair color and going lighter with natural hair sans the bleach.

Before     &     After

Q. How were you able to lighten my hair without using bleach? 
A. First things first, I used Wella Koleston Perfect permanent color line for both your base and highlight tones. The highlights were done with their "hilift blonde" series with 40 volume developer. This series is specifically designed to lighten your hair for up to 5 levels of lift without the damaging effects that we talked about with bleach. The base color was achieved with a level ten series and twenty volume developer. Your pre-existing natural color level determines the result of the color. Because your natural hair color is more dusty/sandy we were able to achieve a lighter result. 

Q. How do you determine how light you can go without using bleach?
A. You measure color levels on a scale of 1-10 or 2-12 depending on the color line, 1(2) being black and 10(12) being lightest pale blonde or platinum. So respectively your hair is more between the levels of 4-5 which means your hair can be lightened 3 or levels easily with just permanent color. So someone using your same color formula with hair between the levels of 1-3 would not yield the same result, but that's not to say that it can't be done, only that color formulas in most cases are tailored for each specific client.

Q. Why does darker hair appear to be shinier than lighter colored hair?
A.  If your natural black color seemed more shiny, it's true. Black reflects the light much better than blonde! Remember that during the permanent color process the cuticle is raised in order to replace the natural pigment with artificial pigment molecules, so it's important to use products that will continue to smooth and seal the cuticle because that will help maintain your hair and your color.

Have more questions for Cori? Feel free to leave them in the comments section....

Oct 18, 2011

Simplistic Loft Living...

Sometimes I surprise myself with the simplistic designs that both catch my eye and win me over. I came across this London loft and was instantly smitten. Maybe it's the zig-zag rug, exposed brick, or natural light... but I'm loving this place. Serious apartment crush happening right now.

While there's nothing spectacular about the decor, the high ceilings and windows are amazeballs! I'm a sucker for all that light - - and having amazing ceilings and natural light is one of the things I miss about our apartment in South Carolina. You can't beat 20 ft ceilings...

If I were to change anything, it'd be adding more of a girly touch with flowers and accessories. The overall design is a little too bare bones for me... and I would opt for the white lacquer west elm desk with a clear chair. God, that West Elm Parsons Desk is still something my dreams are made of.

What do you think?

Name: Philip and Claire
Location: Clerkenwell — London, England

When Phillip's job as a corporate attorney transferred them from sunny Southern California to gloomy London, Claire sought to find the brightest apartment she could. An interior designer, she knew that they didn't want a pre-furnished flat as is common in the UK. They landed in London's design friendly neighborhood of Clerkenwell in an old Silk Factory Loft that was re-purposed for residential use in 2000.

This one bedroom flat with large windows, high ceilings, and an open floor plan living area is not your typical Victorian era dwelling. Claire brought a bright yellow desk for her workspace and colorful art for the living room. The bedroom is done in softer tones of grey and white to soften the urban brick backdrop. Keeping the pops of color in the main living spaces also makes the home more lively for company as they are avid entertainers.

Oct 17, 2011

Natural Hair: Color Me Happy

After getting my ends trimmed a few weeks ago, I was obviously going through a little "thang" regarding the shorter length. Hoping to change things up a bit, I scheduled another appoint with Cori at Justin's Salon Studio to get my hair colored. I brought in a few inspiration pics and went over different tones/shades that I was interested in. I ended up wanting to stay in the brown family, but was open to getting highlights, playing around with a honey/golden brown shade.

I had colored my hair a few times in the past... more like hair coloring disasters!! Suffice it to say that I learned my lesson - - when wanting to go lighter leave it to the pros.This was my first time getting professional color and overall I was extremely pleased. 

The Specifics...
1. From start to finish it took about 3 hours - - that includes color and getting my hair blown out/flat ironed.
2. The price was $115 (not including tip) for my custom color.

** I am only recommending Cori as I'm familiar with her level of service and skill. She has colored, natural hair herself and is the only stylist I trust to color my hair. If you want to schedule an appointment or consultation with Cori click here. **

Getting my color and highlights

Finished color job - - blown out in the natural light

Back to my curls

I've had my color for going on 2 weeks and I'm still a happy camper. I have noticed that my hair is softer, not necessarily more fragile, but the color did soften my hair a bit. Cori did warn me that this could happen, but I'm not sure if this will be a permanent thing or just temporary. I read online that a few people noticed a change in their texture for the fist 2 weeks. I'll have to follow-up on this next week.

In terms of my hair being dryer, it really isn't much different. A small portion of hair in the back of my head was left my natural color, so this has helped to compare texture changes and any dryness issues. I think the biggest different is that my lighter hair looks dryer than it is. Something about a darker color really does make the hair look healthier, so I've noticed that my problem areas (front frizzy sections) look even MORE ratchet if I don't properly prep them. Color really does highlight your curls and make them look great, but if you're lazy, darker hair will mask a lot of issues.

I'm still itching to get another Brazilian Blowout, and they actually just came out with a Zero product that releases NO formaldehyde before, during, or after the process... kind of excited to see if my salon in Arizona starts carrying this new one - - not that I had any issues with the original formula.

I think embracing my natural texture has been wonderful, and more than anything just proving to myself that I could care for and grow my natural hair on my own has done wonders... but hair is supposed to be fun, so I think I'll continue to experiment with different products, treatments, colors, and weaves to keep my approach to hair light-hearted and fun.

Sidebar: Does anyone know of a good great styler? I'm on the hunt for something creamy and awesome to help hydrate my curls. I unknowingly tried the baggy method a few days ago, as well as doing a castor/coconut oil pre-poo... but I need a styler to layer on top of my knot today!

Any questions about my coloring experience? Feel free to ask... I'll be documenting how things go.

Oct 15, 2011

Natural Hair Inspiration...

It's been quite some time since I've posted any hair inspiration pics on my blog. I actually have been meaning to blog about my experience getting professional color for the first time (last weekend), but I promise that blog is in the works and will post on Monday!

In terms of style, consider me a creature of comfort. I love the look of dry twist-outs done on blown out hair, and would seriously wear this style everyday if possible. This is hair perfection in my eyes.

Now that Fall is here, I've been on the hunt for cold weather-friendly styles. Any suggestions? I don't want to put my hair though weekly blow-outs, nor do I really have the energy for all of that lol... but I need something quick and easy (and cute), that I can rock to work... as well as options that are nice, but transition to the gym - - I'm back in the gym working out 3 days a week :) And I've already lost 4 lbs!!! Yay for me....

Anyways, I'll be scouring the web to try and find more hair inspiration, but I welcome all suggestions! Share the wealth....

Oct 14, 2011

Season 2: AMC's "The Walking Dead"

Last year, AMC's hit show The Walking Dead quickly became a favorite for my husband and I to watch. It had enough suspense and drama to keep both of us entertained, with the violence and gore he loved, and heart-warming relationships that hit the spot for me. I just saw the official trailer for Season 2, and I'm SO freaking excited it premieres Sunday night @ 9/8c! Seriously, if you haven't watched this show you're definitely missing out! The writing is so well done, sucking you in and bringing you to the edge of your seat, while the ensemble cast does a remarkable job giving life and dimension to the characters.

Set your DVR to record the Season 2 Premiere Sunday Night (9/8c on AMC), and in the meantime get your zombie fix by checking out the trailer below.

Sidebar: I've always been one to OD on reality shows, but I've been enjoying all of the scripted series in my life! It's actually refreshing...


Oct 9, 2011

Natural Hair: Time for a trim

Last weekend it dawned on me that I had not trimmed my ends in 8 months and that was causing major breakage, splits, and shedding. The amount of shedding was actually out of control, but because I was wearing my hair curly 95% of the time, it really "hid" the damage, thus making me feel perfectly fine that I hadn't trimmed my ends. Still, with the weather cooling off I knew I would want to go straight more often and I felt as though my ratchet ends would be a big mess.

I headed over to Toss Hair Salon to see Cori, the same (and only) stylist that trimmed my ends during my transition (2009). I actually only got my ends trimmed once during my transition before I did my big chop back in 2010, and Cori was great back then... and still great today!

I made an appointment for a walk-in and got my hair trimmed wet! Yes, I trimmed my hair wet and curly for the FIRST time ever. *le sigh* The cut was much needed and I have mixed feelings (even still) having any issues with it because the cut itself was fine. I think I wasn't prepared for how much length I needed to lose - - about 1.5 inches curly, so about 3 inches straight. In fact, my curls look a million times better after the cut and I have NO straight pieces anywhere in sight.

Before Trim
After Trim
I still have a similar shape to my hair, but it's back to that annoying, weird length. I think the most dramatic thing is that my front pieces always hung looser and longer, and now they're the shortest parts! Wowzers... I'm just not used to seeing those sections short. Comparing the above pics it probably seems like I'm on crack because they're not that different, but I assure you, I can tell the difference. Now, I can't put my hair into a bun because it's not long enough for all pieces to reach. nor is it long enough to throw in a low pony-tail because the front can't reach - - annoying ass length!

When I have it blown out it's the perfect length... but once the curls pop I'm doing multiple internal cringes and woo-sahs. It's like mid-neck length and kinda irking my nerves. Like, irking me to the point I want to get a Brazilian Blowout and go straight for a while. I don't like myself with short(er) hair. I like short, curly hair on me even less. Plus with the straight(er) ends gone my hair is shrinking up even more. I can say that whenever I stretch my curls I'm perfectly happy, but my hair had finally reached the length where I didn't HAVE to stretch the curls. Okay, okay... I'm ranting.

Long story short, I like my cut but am adjusting to the shorter length. I think I've learned from all of this that I need to be more diligent about trimming my ends more often... not just twice a year. I think I'll step it up to trim at least 4 times a year... so every 3 months. And I'm ONLY GETTING MY ENDS TRIMMED STRAIGHT!!! No more experimenting with curly hair. I want to be sure that I'm only losing 1/4 inch at most... and trims only, no CUTS!

On another note, I was feeling pretty "blah" about my new length so I went in for some color yesterday!!! This was my first time getting professional color done so it was pretty exciting. On top of that I dramatically changed my dark brown color... well, at least dramatic for me lol... but am loving my new color/highlights more and more.

Here's a preview ---->

Oct 5, 2011

"Stay hungry, stay foolish..."

By now the whole world is mourning the loss of Apple Founder and former CEO Steve Jobs. Even for those that never found themselves swept up in the awesomeness of iPhones, iPads, iPods, or Macs... the incredible impact that Steve Jobs had on our lives is hard to overlook.

I was touched by his 2005 Stanford Commencement speech and found it full of simple, yet crucial rules to live by. My favorite quotes:

1. "Stay hungry, stay foolish..."
2. "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life..."

It's so easy to let logic and the opinions of others deter us from going for our dreams, but living your own authentic life is truly one of the most rewarding things anyone can strive for. We've all heard many cliche sayings telling us to live each day to the fullest and like it's our last on earth, but most of us brush it off, often getting caught up in the grind of our daily lives. But really, if we were to take quotes like that to heart and really live our lives to the fullest, without fear, and go for our dreams, I wonder what it would be like.

There are many opportunities I would like to pursue but I allow "life" to get in the way. Even dreams that my husband has that I may think are far out... why not really just live our best lives now and go for them. As Jobs said, death is really something that nobody can escape... the great send-off of life. Out with the old and in with the new... and in 120 years everything will be new again, so why not go out with a bang... or better yet, live life with a "Kaboom" lol...

I know people can find a thousand reasons why NOT to do something, but why not find just 1 reason why you should go for it!



Oct 3, 2011

Bienvenidos a El Paso

First off, Happy October!!! I can't believe the year is almost over!

I spent the past week in El Paso, Texas with my husband preparing for his 2nd deployment, but I might as well have been in Mexico - - thus the reason for the title of this post.

Although I'd been to Texas before (Houston, Amarillo, Dallas...), I'd never been this far South... literally 10 mins from the border and about 15 mins from Juarez, Mexico - - the most dangerous city in the world right now. As a friend so eloquently said, "The murder capital, where they murder for capital..."

Driving on the e-way you could see the ginormous Mexican flag waving proudly in the sky. This picture (to left) didn't do it much justice, but it was actually a HUGE and very beautiful thing... yet it couldn't distract from the eyesore that was the majority of Mexican homes. Wow, they looked like the freaking slums and shacks on shacks on shacks. No wonder why folks are always running for the border and a better life. Can't say I wouldn't be doing the same thing if in their position.

Crave Kitchen & Bar - - my favorite place
A highlight of our time in El Paso was the the food!! I mean, being that close to Mexico you would expect them to get Mexican cuisine right, but they hit it out of the park. Tex-Mex cuisine is so delicious, no wonder they're one of the most obese states. My favorite restaurant was hands-down Crave Kitchen & Bar. The food was impeccable and the service was great. I'm still thinking about the bacon-wrapped shrimp I had. Yummy in my tummy.

I'm someone that loves history and wanted to enjoy some of the historical delights that El Paso had to offer. I made my husband drive me to the cemetery (kinda creepy, I know lol), so I could view the Buffalo Soldiers memorial they had. My husband definitely wasn't a fan of trekking around the graves to find the memorial, so I had to send him back to the car to wait for me lol... everyone can't hang in a cemetery I guess...

Still, the memorial was pretty cool. Just the historical significance of the soldiers and all that they did - - again, I was reminded of how amazingly great black people were and it still makes me sad that we went from being soldiers to "soulja boys"...  *electronic tear*

Another fun part of my trip was being able to squeeze in some time with my family in Arizona. I think it's always wise to schedule longer layovers in cities you have friends/family so you can make the most of your travel time. Things worked out great as I had time to eat breakfast with my parents and play with my dog. And can I just say that when I stepped foot off the plane and into the gorgeous weather of AZ it definitely made me long to live there again. Yes, I still own a home there so I'm not totally free of AZ, but I work and live in Chicago right now and with the approaching Winter (which I'm dreading), the beautiful Fall/Winter temps of Arizona are calling my name.

I'm still learning to juggle my new job, school, and blogging... which I'm self-admittedly struggling with lol... but I'm hoping to set aside some time to knock a few blogs out and make some YouTube videos. I want to write about my life as a military (air force) wife, new hair cut trim I got which is driving me to tears (it's so freaking short), along with some other random musings.
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