Aug 31, 2010

Day 29: Aspirations...

I aspire to wake up every morning thankful to be living the life I want... to be happy, fulfilled and with my husband by my side....

N♥tural Hair DIY

I'm not really into creating my own mixes and fancy hair treatments, but Coco & Creme had these 3 easy to do treatments w/ Olive Oil featured on their site. All of the ingredients are things you probably already have in your kitchen, so it's a cool way to try out some hair treatments for relatively little to no cost.

Olive Oil Recipes

Honey & Olive Oil Hair Mask
Mix ½ cup honey and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Work a small amount at a time through hair until coated. Cover hair with a shower cap; leave on 30 minutes. Shampoo well and rinse. Remember your final rinse should be done with cool water to close the hair cuticle.

Olive Oil Hot Oil Treatment
Place ½ cup of olive oil in a bowl of boiling water (you can also pour the oil in an applicator bottle then sit in a bowl of boiling water to warm). Massage the warm oil into your scalp and work your way to the ends. Cover your hair for 30 minutes with a shower cap and rinse. The warm oil penetrates more deeply into the hair shaft and will help repair damaged cuticles that cause dryness, frizziness and breakage.

Egg & Olive Oil Hair Mask
Mix two whole eggs with four tablespoons of olive oil. Smooth through hair. Wrap head with plastic wrap, and leave in hair for 10 minutes. Rinse well.

Aug 30, 2010

Day 28: What I miss....

What do I miss right about now? A hot dog w/ everything (no onions) and an order of large cheese fries from Portillo's!!! Gosh... this is my comfort food of choice and it's 1700 miles away :/

UFC 118: The Aftermath

In the co-main event of the evening, UFC Hall Of Famer Randy "The Natural" Couture fought (and I use that term loosely) James "Lights Out" Toney. This match-up was supposed to be boxing versus MMA but Toney had no business in the cage with Couture or any other mixed martial artist. I'd even pick most bantam weights to defeat him in a fight.

He started the fight in his usual boxer’s stance (a huge no no) and you could immediately tell he had no idea what he’d gotten himself into. Randy proceeded to shoot in for a successful takedown, punching Toney in the face for a couple of minutes before finally deciding to choke him out with an arm triangle. This fight had no business being put on and was a complete joke and waste of time. Many of the hardcore fans speak of freak show fights outside of the UFC with much disdain, but could they give any explanation as to what this was?

Now onto a real fight, the main event of the evening: "The Prodigy" B.J. Penn versus Frankie "The Answer" Edgar for the UFC Lightweight Championship. This was a rematch of their hotly contested fight from earlier this year where Edgar defeated Penn in a very controversial split decision. Saturday was supposed to be the return of the king to his throne; however, someone just forgot to tell Edgar.

Frankie Edgar put on a clinic of true MMA to retain his championship in lieu of a unanimous decision. There was no question he dominated the fight from start to finish. Watching him move in and out of Penn's range was masterful. Penn had no answer for "The Answer". Edgar did a great job of making Penn react to his movement the entire fight. Every round was pretty much the same - - Edgar would move in at different angles, attack Penn, then move out at a different angle all before Penn could even touch him. Being a B.J. Penn fan, it was very hard to watch and admit that Edgar just took it to him completely. I had Penn only taking one round, and that was being extremely generous. Hell, I gave it to him because he's freaking B.J. Penn!

There is no disputing that Edgar had Penn's number and there's nothing wrong with that. Some guys just tend to have a certain skill set that trumps another guy no matter how great he is. I know there's a lot of disappointed Penn fans, but rest assured he'll be back.

Something I found particularly disturbing was Penn's corner men giving him terrible advice during the fight. After each round, they were being too calm and not showing any kind of urgency about Penn losing round after round. Even at the end of the fourth round they didn't seem to think he was losing the fight. This is why corner men need to be completely objective and honest about what they're seeing as opposed to giving their fighter false information. It was pretty obvious that Penn needed to finish Edgar to take the title in the fifth round, but that message was never relayed to him. His corner spoke to him as if he had five more rounds to go. I've seen a disturbing trend with corner men not giving correct information to their fighter in order to help them succeed. I'll touch on this topic further in a future post.

- Julian Arnold, Sport's Contributor for Six Twenty Seven

Aug 29, 2010

Day 27: Home Sweet Home

As I prepare for my 3rd cross country move in 3 years I'd have to say that the one constant in my life is my favorite place - - home sweet home. No matter what city, state or coast I happen to be calling "home" at the time, I'm always intent on creating my little sanctuary and cozy place of peace. I love to go out and spread my social butterfly wings, but there's truly nothing better than unwinding at home after the days events.

Aug 28, 2010

Day 26: Fears...

This is an easy one:

1. Dying in a plane crash
2. Crickets
3. Failure
4. Falling asleep in complete darkness and silence. I require background noise and the glow of the tv... though I DO sleep with an eye mask on lol...

Short. Sweet. To the point...

Those are my fears.

Aug 27, 2010

Fashion Fix: J Brand for the Cheap!

<------ I've been lusting over these J Brand 'Houlihan' Skinny Cargo pants for the past few months.However, the whopping cost of $231 was not going to fly with my budget. I was thrilled to find an affordable and equally fab version of the pants at Forever21 this weekend.

They're brand new to the store and not yet available online, but their skinny cargo pants will only cost you $24.80 ---->

You can't beat that price and having compared both jeans, the Forever21 version isn't too shabby. They're 97% cotton, 3% spandex and feel soft to the touch - - just like the J Brand version. I tried them on and the fit is pretty good too. I'm 5'2" and they hit right at my ankle... plus the zipper detail on the bottom is nice. Not to mention that I love the amount of stretch.

<---- you can get a better look at pocket and leg detail.... These pants are a must have as we transition from the summer to the fall.

Million Dollar Baby: The chronicles of my boxing workouts

Boxing. Many people think it's a sport for meat heads or inner city kids, but boxing is one of the top total body workouts you can do. Back in July I started training with former boxer and personal trainer Chris Terry (owner of 1on1 Boxing Fitness) and quickly became a fan of the sport for fitness purposes.

When I learned that jumping rope would be a part of my daily warm-up I smiled thinking I had this in the bag. Boy oh boy, was I wrong! That first month jumping rope proved to be one of the biggest obstacles I faced. Years spent jumping rope on the playground or double dutch in the middle of the street with my cousins (though I turned "double handed" so they didn't want me to play -- whatever "double handed" means lol) did not prepare me for that first month. Jumping rope like a boxer is not an easy task, but what took me a month to figure out can take you 5 minutes (and some practice).

The key to jumping rope is being light on your feet. I used to think the faster I turned the rope, the harder the workout would be... but it's just the opposite. Being quick with the rope and light on your feet makes it easier on your calves. As someone with flat feet this also eased the strain on my nonexistent arches. Realizing this was like having the heavens part and the workout Gods shine down on me.

Another thing I quickly learned was that the rope you use does matter. Before I would grab the lightweight ropes with basic handles thinking it would work the same, but that's not the case. Through trial and error I discovered that the heavier plastic ropes with trigger like handles work the best ------>

I used to go in the gym and see other ladies jumping rope like freaking pros! It was very intimidating and I thought I'd never master it. I kept at my steady pace, struggling along the way, until one day I grabbed the ropes they were using and told myself I wasn't going to stop jumping until I could go fast. Well, guess what... I finally got it. I was thrilled when I was breezing thru my workouts and it really made a world of difference.

Jumping rope really is one of the BEST cardio workouts you can do. The typical 150 lb person can burn up to 10.5 calories per minute (yes... per minute) or 630 calories per hour. Even if you can't afford personal training or a gym membership, a jump rope is something you should own. Turn on your iPod and jump away the excess pounds.

Below are 2 videos that can help you get started.

Day 25: A first time for everything...

The combination of chicken and waffles has baffled me for years. I never quite understood what would inspire a chef to serve these two unlikely meals on the same plate, but couldn't ignore how much folks raved about it. Day 25 of my 30 day blogging challenge called for a "first" of sorts and I figured I'd get out of the house and do something new. Despite seeming like a breakfast/dinner clusterfuck, I opened my mind as well as my stomach, and ventured to Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles.

It had been years since I went to the original Phoenix restaurant (the epitome of a hole in the wall) but I did remember the food being good. Since the company branched out to include a Scottsdale location I was thrilled to only travel 5 mins for food.

I ended up ordering the #10 (Tre-Tre - $7) which consisted of 2 legs and 1 waffle, a side of fried okra ($3.50) and "red" kool-aid. The restaurant happened to be running low on legs so there was a bit of a wait but I came equipped with a magazine so it wasn't a big deal.

The Verdict? It wasn't a bad meal but I don't think I'd ever order this again. It didn't taste bad... not at all, but I guess it just felt like I was paying for something my mom could've made me lol. The only reason to pay for this meal is because you don't have access to cooking it yourself. The Okra was just okay. I like Church's okra better. My mom has made MUCH better chicken but I'd take the waffles. This meal reminded me of going to Sprinkles for cupcakes. It's more about the hype around the place and the meal than the actual meal itself... or it could be because my mom is from the heart of Mississippi and knows how to put her foot in southern food. Ehh.. I'm glad to say that I tried something new so I can turn it down in the future based on personal experience and not a notion.

** On a sidenote, I haven't eaten anything this heavy in FOREVER and quickly realized I like not eating like this. I'd rather have a chicken salad and Acai drink from Jamba Juice.

Aug 26, 2010

Day 24: Tearjerker...

What makes me cry... well, those animal cruelty commercials give me instant water works. I also can't stand to see animals kill other animals in the wild. Those nature documentaries are so interesting but when it's time to feed I have to change the channel. Recently I was watching a Blue Planet special on Planet Green and they showed these killer whales hunting a humpback whale and her baby. Long story short, they ended up killing the baby and tears were running down my face. If it were left up to me I'd probably be a vegetarian because killing my food would be a no go... luckily, there are wonderful folks out there that don't mind prepping my meat because lamb, beef and pork make my stomach smile.

Brazilian Blowout Q & A

I've been OD'ing on Brazilian Blowout posts this week so I promise this will be the last one. I've been getting a ton of questions from people and just wanted to answer a few things in one place to make it a bit easier.

Q. Is this a chemical process?
A. Yes, this is a chemical process, however... unlike relaxers and texturizers the Brazilian Blowout does not contain any harsh chemicals (like formaldehyde), nor does it penetrate your hair shaft. Thus, there is no permanent change to your hair texture.

Q. Is this like other keratin treatments out there?
A. My first inclination is to say no. Please don't get this confused with the Brazilian Keratin treatment which contains formaldehyde as well as have a 4 day wait period after the treatment. A fellow natural blogger, Mane and Chic, blogged about her experience with the Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy by Coppola. To my knowledge, the Brazilian Blowout is the only one out there not consisting of a wait period* after the treatment.
*wait period consists of 72 - 96 hrs where you aren't able to wet hair or use any hair ties, etc. This is considered the "processing" time.

Q. How long do results last?
A. Results last anywhere from 12 weeks to 5 months. The treatment coats each strand of hair, slowly wearing away as you wash. Depending on the frequency that you wash your hair, this treatment can last a longer or shorter amount of time. My 1st Brazilian Blowout I co-washed my hair probably 3 times a week and shampooed (sulfate-free) once a week. My results lasted about 3 months. This time I'm making a conscious effort to only co-wash once a week and shampoo as needed.

Q. Is this only for those that want to wear their hair straight?

A. Definitely not! The beauty with the Brazilian Blowout is that you can style your hair curly or straight from the moment you leave the salon. So far (aside from when I first got my 2nd Brazilian Blowout done) I've been wearing curly styles.

Q. Is this treatment right for me?
A. It depends on what results you're looking to achieve. I think it's important to do your research as everyone has different goals in mind. If you're someone that is not looking to experience any change in your current curl pattern, this is not for you. While the Brazilian Blowout does not cause any permanent changes to your curl pattern, you will notice a temporary loosening of the curls. For me, I love the look I get from the blowout. Some people don't want to see any changes in their curls.

Q. I found a salon that does it... now what?
A. Make sure to search salons that are certified to perform the official Brazilian Blowout via their website (click here). Next, make sure the salon is familiar with black hair. There are many salons that are certified to perform the treatment but are clueless as to what to do with natural hair so you can have success in one area and then screw yourself in the other.

If you're in Arizona, I recommend going to Apricot Lounge Salon. Co-owner Kim Allison is my stylist and has performed tons of Brazilian Blowouts. You can call the salon and schedule a consultation to go over your hair goals/expectations and see if this is the right treatment for you.

Q. How much does this cost?

A. Prices can range from $250 - $400. The Brazilian Blowout isn't available over the counter or online so this isn't something you can play kitchen beautician with. If you want to get it done you'll need to shell out the cash to have it done professionally. It's not cheap so make sure you do your homework and put the time into researching things. I believe you get what you pay for.

I just want to stress that I am only one person speaking about my experience with the Brazilian Blowout treatment. I can only vouch for the treatment I experienced performed by Kim Allison at the Apricot Lounge Salon. If you want to receive results similar to mine I'd say go to Kim lol. However, this isn't realistic for those living outside of Arizona so be sure to do your research. Ask to have a consultation with any potential stylist, ask questions and see pictures. I did my research and came prepared with questions when I had my consultation with Kim earlier this year. I also saw tons of photos of clients she had performed the treatment on, paying special attention to those with natural hair. Everything isn't for everyone so just because I had success with this doesn't necessarily mean it's a fit for you.

I think that answers everything but again, if you have more questions feel free to ask away!

Aug 25, 2010

Day 23: Rub a Dub Dub

Wanna know what warms my soul and puts a smile on my face? My first inclination is to say finding a bra that actually fits or a hot pair of shoes on sale lol... but it would have to be a tie between bubble baths and great rest. Actually, I should just call this a 1-2 combo deal because a great bubble bath is always followed by amazing sleep.

Similar to how I've turned into a napper, baths are the new thing in my life. Typically I'll shower in the AM and cap my nights off with a soak in the tub before hopping in bed. Not sure if everyone has caught on to this, but baths really do provide a sense of relaxation prior to sleeping.

Brazilian Blowout Results on Natural, African American Hair: Round 2 part III

Now that you've seen the results you're probably curious about the actual process. Depending upon the length of your hair it can take anywhere from 1.5 to 4 hours (start to finish).


The morning of my blowout I usually do very little to my hair. It's not necessary to prep the hair in any way for the treatment so I just roll out of bed, shower and go.

Upon arriving to the salon my hair was washed multiple times with the Brazilian Blowout anti-residue shampoo. This strips the hair of any dirt/oil and preps it for the treatment.

After towel drying and dividing the hair into sections, the Brazilian Blowout Professional Treatment was applied and hair was blow dried with a round brush.

After hair is blow dried a flat iron is used to further straighten the hair and seal in the product. I also get my ends trimmed at this point.

Some people have been concerned with experiencing heat damage due to the level of heat that is used (about 400 degrees), but I have not experienced this. My hair can take heat rather well and keep in mind that you have a licensed professional performing this treatment. The Brazilian Blowout technique is not available over the counter and salons must undergo the official Brazilian Blowout training to obtain certification to perform this. If you want to find a salon that is certified to do this technique, click here.

Next, the hair is rinsed to remove any product build-up or residue. The Brazilian Blowout masque is applied to hair and you sit under the dryer for a few minutes. This helps to further seal in the treatment. The hair is then rinsed again and you're ready to be styled.

The Brazilian Blowout does not have a waiting period like some Keratin Treatments out there so you have the option of styling your hair curly or straight. I typically choose to have it styled straight, but below you'll see it styled curly (flat twists) 2 days after I got the treatment done.

I hope this answers most of the questions people have... but feel free to ask anything you're curious about in the comments section!

Aug 24, 2010

Day 22: Smile 101

We all have things that bug us out, but wanna know what really gets under my skin? The thing that grinds my gears and drives me bonkers? Bad teeth! And not just any bad teeth... I'm talking about celebs that have tons of money and the access to world class dentists, yet due to whatever reason insist on having their mouths resemble a highway pile up. More specifically, those that have neglected bottom rows that look like urban warfare.

Some of the top offenders of this are Matt Lauer and Will Ferrell. Those 2 have bottom rows that give Jaws a run for his money... they're awful! I don't understand why people that have the $ to perfect their smiles consistently avoid the dentist. It's not enough to have a nice top row... when you're speaking people can focus on the bottom as well.

Sometimes you can't just smile with your eyes you actually need to rely on, well... your smile! If you're looking for something to splurge on why not start with your mouth. There's no better investment than your grill.

Brazilian Blowout Results on Natural, African American hair: Round 2 part II

Pictures of my blown out locks are nice but let's face it - - everyone wants to know what my curls are doing. Below you'll see the state of my hair prior to both Brazilian Blowouts. The picture on the left was a month after my big chop in March, while the photo on the right was my hair last week.

When I previously blogged about the results from my 1st Brazilian Blowout, one of the top questions I received was regarding my curl pattern and if it would be permanently changed. I'm here to tell you and show you that the August 2010 pic is proof that your hair does return to it's original state.

Again, the blowout is a smoothing (not straightening) treatment that coats your hair shaft with a protective protein layer. This helps to smooth and reduce frizz. I must stress to everyone your curls are not going anywhere. This isn't a relaxer, texturizer or anything harsh and permanent. Since there is no chemical change to the composition of your hair there is no line of demarcation or permanent change to your curl pattern. This is a conditioning and smoothing treatment that gives you fabulous results lasting anywhere from 12 weeks to 4 months. Over time as you wash your hair the protective layer around the hair shaft fades away.

*I must advise everyone that your curl pattern will be temporarily loosened. If you are someone that does not want to see any change in your curl pattern this is definitely not the treatment for you

As for my results: The Brazilian Blowout helped to smooth my hair, make it softer, less frizzy and WAY more manageable. My curls were still there just more defined. Take a look below and you can see the difference for yourself. The picture on the left was taken the morning of my blowout before I went to the salon. On the right is a picture I took Saturday night (flat twists).

One of the pros of the Brazilian Blowout is the absence of any wait period after the treatment is done. You can choose to leave the salon with your hair styled curly or dry, as well as do whatever you'd like immediately after. No 72hr wait period or need to avoid hair ties and scarves.

This isn't just a treatment for those wanting to rock their hair straight. Based on the pic above you can see that your curls will be in full effect.

For a list of salons authorized to perform the Brazilian Blowout click here.

N♥il Art: Razzle Dazzle

Aug 23, 2010

Day 21: Ready to Jet Set

I haven't traveled internationally since I was a kid but that's about to change. This month my goal was to get my new passport and a few days ago it finally arrived! Just as the brochure says, "With your U.S. Passport, the world is yours." My husband and I intend to make 2011 our year of travel. I also have a few great ideas I'm in the process of working on so I'll be thrilled when it's time to share them with my blog family. In the meantime, operation "get some stamps on this passport" is in full effect!

What kind of mileage have you put on your passport?

Brazilian Blowout Results on Natural, African American hair: Round 2 Part I

Last week I headed to Apricot Lounge Salon for my 2nd Brazilian Blowout and once again I was blown away by the results. Since everyone loves a good photo comparison, below you'll see the progress my hair has made since my 1st blowout in March and the 2nd blowout I received last week, in August. Both photos were taken the same day after my blowouts were done.

I'm not someone that is length obsessed but it was pretty cool seeing how much my hair had grown. More than the growth, I was impressed at the actual health of it. I hadn't had my ends trimmed since my 1st blowout in March and I didn't need to have much taken off. Before I even get into the whole process again, let me just say that this really did inspire me. Why? When I decided to go natural last year (or just stop relaxing) it was mainly because I didn't want to cough up the $ for a touch up and re-up on my summer weave lol. I planned on being a long term transitioner and cutting my hair wasn't on my radar. In February while my husband and I were on his Air Force Base I found myself feeling irritated with the 2 textures (and slightly spontaneous) and had him cut the relaxed ends off in the bathroom... with basic, dull scissors you keep laying around the house lol. Yes, it was a mess but in that moment it was exactly what I wanted to do. I'm going on a bit of a tangent... but this is all to say that when I cut my hair and saw how short it really was, I NEVER thought it would grow out. Adding to my frustration, I remember seeing tons of pics online of curly heads that were full and gorgeous and fighting the urge to have curl envy. It sounds ridiculous but I thought it'd take forever for my hair to grow back.

When I was younger I had hair all the way down my back, but when the relaxers started the length disappeared and as an adult I never thought my hair would grown longer that 6 inches or so. The idea that ALL of the hair in the above picture is from growth I've experienced since May 2009 blows me away. Maybe some people don't find that cool, but for someone that never thought their hair would grow for real, the proof is in the photos. In the past 14 months my hair has grown out to the length that it was when I would get it relaxed and I'm in heaven. I think I was thrown off because in it's curly state my hair grows out and not down so I was always clueless to the length. I know some naturals swear by it, but measuring my hair seemed a little intense so comparing these photos was the first time I realized how much progress I had made.

I have so much info to cover regarding the Brazilian Blowout that I'll be breaking it into various postings this week. Stay tuned!

Aug 22, 2010

Day 20: Panty Drawer Facelift

You don't have to wait for Spring to get started cleaning and organizing your home. This month I decided to tackle the mess that was brewing in my panty drawer. I don't know when it happened, but I looked at my drawer one day and was shocked at the chaos I saw. I was definitely in need of an underwear intervention, stat!

On top of tossing out some underwear that were no longer making the cut, I added a bunch of new ones into the mix! Call it my "period panty makeover" because I had cotton full bottoms everywhere and that's not a good look. Yes, this may be TMI for some folks out there but I like honest dialogue and women know that during that time of the month sexy panties are the last thing on our mind. Period panties don't have to be fruit of the loom or jockey... throw some cute styles, colors or even lace into your drawer!

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