Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thanks, Ya'll :-)

Photo Source

You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take the Texas out of the girl. 
I'm going to keep ya'll (yeah, I put the apostrophe after the "a") in my vocab no matter how many card-carrying SPOGG members might throw pebbles at me..

Speaking of ya'll, I just want to take a moment to express a heartfelt thank you to those of you who read this blog. Whether we've known each other for years or minutes, it's no light thing to me when someone takes time to read, watch a video, or follow me through some other channel. I want you to know I appreciate it. Thanks for the comments, encouragement and love.

And now, some random thoughts:

  • I just downloaded Anthony Evans' latest release titled Home, and it's sooooo good. Also picked up NeedToBreathe's latest, and it's quickly growing on me. Godly music is so fab in all its diversity.
  • Our plans to start a family by adopting a child will prayerfully happen before the year is up.
  • After meeting an uber-cool fellow natural vlogger, I'm carefully considering hosting a natural meet-up this year... but not at my house. Naaaaah, I'm not there yet. 
  • I'm exploring some creative partnerships with other bloggers this year. It doesn't just have to be hair-related. I'm really into DIY and home projects.
  • Kendall Hogan - Crunch Gym: Total Resculpt video on Netflix streaming is FANTASTIC. Charles and I have been hitting this workout almost daily since the first week of the year. Kendall is almost too much fun, doing little dances and grinning before he starts killer combos. Oh, Kendall... you're the best. Make more videos, man!
  • Psych is funnier than ever this season. Is Shawn he really going to marry Juliet!? Why does it seem Gus can never get a normal girl? What's up with that?

Friday, January 27, 2012

I just discovered "The Art of Manliness"

Me and My Manly Husband Man ;-)

I'm a decidedly feminine woman and I love and greatly appreciate the masculinity in men. I think this love for manliness came from observing my father who is, as people say, "a man's man." He taught me how to bait a fishing hook with live earthworms when I was six (and I was not squeamish about it at all).He's into sports, hunting, tractors, cars, choppin' down trees, facial hair, killing spiders -- you know, all that kind of rough-around-the-edges, get-your-hands-grimy strong man stuff.  One hot summer day in our front yard in Texas, he set a tarantula (yes, there are tarantulas in Texas) on fire after dousing it with gasoline. The flames were four feet high! People were stopping along to road to watch. That was a memorable day, to say the least.

At the doctor's office, I like perusing men's interest magazines almost as much as any other read. I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to "Man-Style." And now I can add The Art of Manliness | Men’s Interests and Lifestyle to my reading list. This is a great site for the manly man in your life, with articles like "How to Fold a Pocket Square" (which would have been useful for the formal we attended last weekend), "How to Make a Citizens Arrest" and "A Resolution for Romance: The 52 Love Letter Challenge." If your man's not the type to read blogs or do a lot of online reading, that's okay. You can read up and share bits and pieces, slip some ideas here and there in casual conversation, or just read it yourself.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Top Three Places to Find Natural Hairstyles

Photo Source

While contemplating my shorter-hair styling options due to my recent unexpected haircut, I ran a Google search today for pics of "short natural hairstyles." I got 843,000 pictures. Can we say, "Overkill?"

Although Google's image search engine will always occupy a special place in my geeky heart, sometimes the results from said searches can be a too broad, irrelevant or even quite risque. Depending on your search terms, you might see images of things that might be *ahem* inappropriate for public viewing. o_O

So in an effort to keep your hair searches as clean as possible, here are my top three places to go a-hunting for naturally curly hairstyle pics. I can't vouch for their future reliability, but as of the date of this posting these sites are stellar.

1) NaturallyCurly.com - A virtual chill spot for all things related to curly hair. From wavy hair to springy locs to the tightest kinks, NaturallyCurly.com has a picture index which shows styles by real women and men, as well as celebrities. You can even narrow the search by color, occasion, length and age.

Link to my Pinterest boards

2) Pinterest.com - If you're not familiar with Pinterest yet, it's my pleasure to introduce you. Pinterest allows us to collect pics of things we find online -- kind of like a virtual bulletin board. Users group pics according to boards they create for themselves, resulting in your own personally-built search engine. This is a great way to save style ideas for future reference. You can check out my personal Pinterest "Natural Hair" board right here. Set up a free Pinterest account of your own, and you can start following my natural hair board as well as the hundreds of others out there in Pinterest-land.

Von - Jan 20, 2012 Natural Hair Style Icon
Photo Source

3) BlackGirlLongHair's Natural Hair Style Icons - Over the years, BGLH has amassed a wonderfully diverse collection of interviews with real women from around the planet. There's bound to be a style for you in the midst of all these interviews, and most of the featured naturals include at least 10 pics of themselves rocking a smorgasbord of styles.

Are there any sites you go to specifically for style inspiration?  (To the tune of the old 80's Arrid XX-Dry antiperspirant commercials) Make a little comment... don't be shy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Clutter-Free Challenge

How do you know when you have enough stuff?

I just shake my head (on the inside) when friends come to visit and say, "Your house is so neat and clutter-free." I smile and say, "You have no idea!" Because, yes, at first glance it may seem pretty tidy, but if you look a bit closer you'll notice things hidden behind doors and in drawers. My mom might scold me for this, but here I go. Come with me down the rabbit hole...

So here's the real deal... Charles and I are not total slobs, but the clutter in our home is craziness in a box.

The picture on the top left is a collection of beauty/other products living under my sink. I probably use about half of these items on a regular basis. There are some empty containers down there too... you know, just in case the "natural mixtress" in me awakens. I might want to mix shea butter with peanut butter and marshmallows to make a deep treatment.  O_o
The bottom left is my desk today. This is actually an improvement! Yesterday, I had a stack of papers a foot high on the upper left corner. As you can see, now it's only about 4-inches tall. Yes, I work in this environment sometimes. When people come over, we close usually close the door to this room.

The middle picture is our office closet. We had a handy friend help us add the shelving, and it was great for a while when we used the closet strictly for holding books. But then we added floating shelves to our office walls and moved the books out of the closet. We were organized!  Sadly, after a while we began accumulating binders, art supplies, music, spiral notebooks. It's really in a sad state again. 

The picture on the right is what we call "the junk drawer" in our kitchen. This is where random things go on "permanent vacation." It's an island of twisty-ties, nails, and receipts -- a stew of tiny objects.

Enter "The 15-Day Clutter Free Challenge" led by Glynnis Whitwer, who is also associated with Proverbs 31 Ministries (I enjoy their daily devotions). Today, Jan 11, marks Day 3 of the challenge, but even if you don't start from the beginning, you can still participate. What have I learned so far? De-cluttering is not really about buying more storage or finding better ways to file. It's about asking God for help with everything -- the little things as well as the "big" stuff -- so you can focus on Him, align your will with his, and change the way you think. De-cluttering requires discipline, but more importantly it requires prayer. 

I won't go through the whole thing, but if you know you need help in the area of clutter, I strongly encourage you to check out her site here and just start. For the next few weeks at least, this will be a part of my blog. Whether it takes 15 days or 15 weeks, we have to begin somewhere and stick with it. If you decide to do it, please let me know and feel free to comment or send me a link to your blog/vlog about your experience. I'd love to hear from you. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

How a Little Trim Became a Big Cut

Alright ya'll... let me start by saying I'm embarrassed. Really embarrassed. But, I have to be real with myself and others about what's going on, and not act like everything is hunky-dory with my hair when it's really not alright. #notgoingtocry

I know the rules about natural hair, especially the ones about heat styling. I've read literally hundreds of posts on blackgirllonghair.com and many other natural hair sites about achieving (obviously) long natural hair. I watch vloggers experiment successfully with various methods of straightening, including Curlformers, tension blowouts, and flat ironing on the lowest heat setting possible (of course). I personally know people who do blowouts regularly with no issues. I even used heat protectants -- commercially-available stuff from the BSS as well as natural alternatives, e.g. grapeseed oil. And still, somehow, I managed to mess up my hair. Dang.

Professional blow-out and
my last on-purpose haircut, January 2011

Mini-twists, Fall 2011

I started noticing the signs of weakness and fragility about six weeks ago. I started trying straighter styles when the dew point dropped in NC, figuring my efforts would last longer. At first, I used heat-free methods to stretch my hair and feel the length -- mini-twists, regular twists, bantu knots and overnight roller sets. However, as my hair continued to grow and life became a bit busier, I became lax in caring for my hair. At least once a week, especially on colder days or when I was in a rush, I resorted to the blow drying to speed the styling process and push through the tangles. Even though I have a satin pillowcase, I started sleeping with my hair completely out, ends not tucked, moisture not applied. I also started using some new products. First I tried grease, then Terressentials shampoo, and finally some new Oyin products and my first set of Curlformers. I'm happy to say I didn't do all of these things at once, but it did all happen in the last few weeks. This created the perfect storm on my head.

I can't say that it was just one thing that lead to my problems.
I just know the health of my hair went downhill fast.

Big soft stretched fro, December 2011
I was feelin' it!  But look how fuzzy my ends look.

Two weeks ago, while two-strand twisting my hair, I felt something strange at the end of each twist. My ends felt very rough, and my curls weren't springy anymore. The frizz and dryness was undeniable. I self-trimmed my hair, closely examining the chopped-off parts for split ends and single-strand knots (SSK). I was alarmed by how many I saw. None of my best treatments seemed to have any positive effect -- even mayo + honey -- so I scheduled an appointment with Krika, creator and owner of the MyHoneyChild product line and the Sophia Sunflower Salon in Raleigh. I've gone to her for years and she does good work... which brings me to another significant point -- I stopped going to her regularly exactly one year ago.  My hair absolutely thrived when I visited her quarterly from 2009 to 2010 for deep-conditioning treatments and trims.

When Krika got me in the chair, she immediately asked if I had been blow frying drying, to which I sadly confessed, "Yes." Apparently, I had a short patch in the back I didn't even know about. My sides were really long, but my crown was really short. It was just uneven and crispy all over. The bottom line: I would rather have short healthy hair then long crazy-looking broke-down hair. At my request, Krika cut my hair while it was damp, because I really didn't want to mess with heat again, even for this cut. Here's the result:

Not pleased to have lost so much length, but the shape is nice and my curls look MUCH better.
This is a wash-n-go, not stretched at all, with some SheaMoisture Deep Treatment Masque left in.
So the worst part is that I made some mistakes and lost a lot of length as a result. However, two days after my cut, I'm really happy to say it's growing on me (I made a pun!). Hubs and I just started a new workout routine. I sweat a lot and this length is suitable for wash-n-gos. I'm so thankful to God I have a supportive husband. He wanted to see me keep the length, but he still thinks it's really cute. Whew!

My takeaways:

  • Heat is bad. Bad-bad-bad-bad-bad!
  • I like the way mud wash (Terressentials) cleanses, and how light it makes my hair feel, but I think I used it too frequently OR I need to moisturize/seal more effectively after using.
  • I'm going to start visiting a stylist every quarter ideally, or at least twice a year. The stylist can see things I might miss, and they can help correct issues before they become full blown disasters.
Have you done anything with your hair which you later realized were mistakes? 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Cousin is a Rimmel Finalist!

It's not often I get to vote for someone I'm related to, which is exactly what makes this tidbit so special!
My lovely cousin Veronica :-)

My cousin Veronica G. (Yay, Roni!) is a top 20 finalist in the Rimmel London contest called The Next Rimmel 10. She's Christian, gorgeous inside and out, rocks natural hair and she just posted her first video on her YouTube channel, TheMrsVee. My cuzzo also is a couponing wife, mother of three, and blogger at thesavvyhousewife.com

Please check out RimmelLondon's page and show your support by voting for her. If she wins she gets to do a slew of cool things, including being a brand ambassador for Rimmel -- which of course means access to new beauty product -- and completing YouTube beauty challenges. 

After liking Rimmel on FB, you can vote right here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I hope you dance

Did you know this was *almost* the song for the first dance at our wedding?

I still love this song. WELL... it took me a full year to get back into it, but I'm about to start taking dance classes again. Back in 2010, I signed up for adult beginner ballet and modern at a local theatre. Some of the ladies from Worship-in-Warfare took the class as well, and we all just cracked up at ourselves while doing chasses as our teacher said "jump over the puddle!" No pink tutus, but we did have a recital at the end. All of our friends and family packed in along the edge of the studio room. Dag! Where did the video of that go?!

Anyway, I'm back in action starting this month. I'm thinking about doing modern again so I can roll on the floor, pop up and stand there, and it will look normal instead of looking like I fell. Which I have done before... yes, in public.

Yeah... I really like modern. 

Dance is a great way to lose weight without really trying, which is another thing I need to do this year. With only a few years left before my *GASP* 20-year high school reunion, I'd better start now. Found this great article online which will help me build my plan:

Yeah... next up, before and after pictures. But not tonight. Time for bed.

The Natural Hair Husband Pop Quiz

So I've wondered how much natural hair knowledge and jargon my husband has picked up over the years. Just for fun, I created a "natural hair pop quiz" for him, and he graciously participated. There were a few things he didn't know, but he surprised me with some relatively accurate answers!

Thanks for helping me with this, babe!  For answers to the questions on the video, look below the embedded video.

What are cones? Also known as silicones, these are ingredients found in hair care products (particular in conditioners and styling aids) which are not water-soluble. They require a shampoo (typically one with sulfates) in order to prevent build-up.

What is baggying? After moisturizing/conditioning your hair at night, you cover your hair with a plastic shower cap or plastic bag to retain moisture overnight. I've also baggied with olive oil the night before as a pre-shampoo treatment for softer hair.

What does co-wash mean? In a nutshell, washing your hair with conditioner rather than shampoo. It's said to have the same cleansing effect without the dryness of shampoo.

Why do naturals use henna? The reasons vary, but I use it as a protein treatment for strengthening hair as well as for coloring the hair, resulting in a natural looking reddish-brown which is not much different from my natural hair color.

What is plopping? Plopping is utilizing an old lint-free t-shirt to capture the wetness from the hair after a wash. Plopping dramatically cuts down the drying time on natural hair and does not disturb the curl pattern as much as a standard towel.

What does no-poo mean? This is a regimen involving no shampoo (which usually means the person is strictly co-washing).

What is pineappling? To preserve curls overnight (e.g. a twist-out), pile the hair into a high loose ponytail on top of your head and then sleep on a satin pillowcase.

What is traction alopecia? Gradual hair loss, particularly at the hairline, caused by too much tension on the hair, such as extremely tight braids or pulled back styles.

How do naturals stretch their hair without heat? While it may not result in super-straight hair, stretching is a way of lengthening your hair by "stretching" the curl pattern gradually. This can be done by banding the hair (e.g. using Goody Ouchless bands), or through twists, Curlformer sets, roller sets, Ghana plaits, braids, or twist-and-curls (roller set on twisted hair).

What does it mean when someone says they're about to big chop? Cutting off all your chemically-treated hair. For some, this indicates any dramatic chop, including eliminating locs, or even your natural loose hair, in one fell swoop.

What is TWA? This is the acronym for teeny-weeny afro. It was also a major airline which went bankrupt in the 90's.

What does it mean to dust the hair? Basically, it means trimming about a quarter-inch from your hair -- so little that as it falls it's just a "dusting."

What is 2nd day hair? A style preserved to the 2nd day. You don't have to do much to your hair before walking out of the house. Some are even able to preserve a style to the 3rd day and beyond!

How do you seal the hair? On moist or damp hair with conditioner or a leave-in moisturizer, apply oil, shea butter, grease or a similar product to seal in the moisture.