May 30, 2014

Trip to NJ + NYC in Instagrams

I would have called this my weekend in Instagrams...but then I realized that it is already next weekend. How did this week fly by? And how have I only gotten about 3 out of 300 things done? Ok, it's been more than 3. But I feel behind. Always. 

Maybe because I had a week off of work (last week) where I was able to visit home again. The idea of "home" is a melange now. I don't feel homeless. I feel homefull...full of homes. All over the place. In different towns and cities and states...and even countries to a degree. It's nice to have homes in many places. But it's also overwhelming sometimes. You stay at one home for a few days and soon enough the homes you've left behind begin to haunt you. And no matter how far ahead you are in one place, you feel behind in the other. 

My home in Michigan is all about my work. When I'm not inside my house, I'm at the office. When I'm out of the office, I'm on my blogs -- or client's blogs. When I leave Michigan, I leave work behind. My home in NJ is all about family and friends. I don't think there will ever be a moment when I feel fully caught up with my NJ home ever since leaving it. Every time I see my sisters, they're a little bit taller. Every time I see Watson the puppy he looks less and less like a puppy. Every time  I see my best friends from high school they look a little different than when I last saw them and a lot more like real adults. New hair. New job. New piercing. New handbag. Something's always new. And every time I see my parents they they seem a little older and I miss them a little more. Everytime I leave my NJ home, I leave all of them. There's freedom that comes with moving out of your parents' house. There's another kind of freedom that comes from spending time with them...while time is plentiful. 

I spent a couple of days in the city, too. NYC isn't really a home to me anymore...more a memory of one. But it was a childhood home -- and those may be the most special of all. And I was able to see my cousin who I haven't seen in forever and college friends who I used to see everyday. All. The. Time. Who I never see any more. So while NYC was a bit overwhelming (I actually murdered my feet walking) it was so refreshing and fun at the same time. 

I had my favorite ice cream from all of my favorite ice cream parlors in the infamous Princeton. This was a highlight for sure. Leaving home -- whether NJ, NYC, MI...anywhere -- means leaving good food. And we got coconut beef from my favorite Thai-Indian fusion restaurant in NJ, Aroma. And I dyed my hair blonde! Which actually turned out to be a bit of a disappointment -- will blog about this later. But it's growing on me. 

If you have multiple homes. Or if you live far away from a home you left behind...go back all that you can. :)

May 20, 2014

Taking the Color Plunge: Going Ciara Blonde!

I've been wanting to do this for over a year now. So I used my trip home to Jersey as an exuse and booked an appointment today! Eep...

I want to go a Beyonce/Ciara blonde. So not completely blonde, but a balayage/ombre kind of style. These are the pics I'll show my stylist for inspiration. I also want it to look ok both frizzy/curly, wavy and straight because I really do wear it pretty versatile. My hair is naturally very dark...basically black, so I want it to be styled around the look of natural roots so that when it grows out I don't have to get it touched up for a while.

I'm trusting my stylist here...who I've never been to before...but I do know that I am not Ciara. And I am not Beyonce. So I know I will not walk out of there looking like either of these women. But hopefully...I can at least pull this off at all!


 Will be updating on how this goes...

May 18, 2014

Happy Birthday Mumsi

Happy 59th bday mumsi :)
My sisters and I threw her a surprise party with her Peace Corps friends and got her a cute outfit from Talbots. A red pattern cardigan with a light sweater and shell earrings...because her name is Shelley. 
So cute... :)


May 17, 2014

In the Spotlight: The Rita Way's Senegalese Twists!

Beauty vlogger (and good friend!) The Rita Way recently put in these gorgeous Senegalese Twists! I think hers might have actually been thicker than , but she used far less hair. Her and her mom did it themselves -- I've never done Senegalese twists on my own, but she told me it's fairly easy. 

We both agree -- the twists are stunning and really cut back time in the morning from not having to style your hair. BUT they can be a bit annoying because it's harder to get to parts of your scalp. I found washing to be a challenge and they sometimes made my scalp itchy. But...accept the good with the bad, right?

Ok, maybe I'm biased because she's one of my college besties...but I love her, her hair, and her videos!

Check out The Rita Way's channel here for her latest online shopping haul video. If you're on the look out for new beauty + wardrobe items for the Summer, Rita's your go-to girl. 

May 16, 2014

How I Straighten 4a Natural Hair with Bantu Knot Stretching Method

I don't even know how long it's been since the last time I did this...but I straightened my hair! I went what I think was several months without straightening it because: 1) I try to avoid fine tooth combs, 2) I try to avoid dry brushing/combing, 3) I try to avoid split ends/breakage, and 4) because I broke my Chi and had to throw it out :( So typically when I straighten it, I stretch out my hair first with a blow out. To cut back on brushing, breakage and heat from a blow out, I decided to try a new method of stretching -- bantu knots! 
Chi Ultra dipped in teal blue -- check out the other cute spring colors on Ulta.

My motivation to randomly straighten it after several months? My handy dandy new Ultra CHI! From the Chi Spring Collection -- it's basically the same classic Chi, but in a variety of fun colors. It was on sale for $90 in stores. Also, fate or luck or karma did me a favor because some lady walking out of the store gave me a 20% off coupon. So I got what could have been $150 for $72. Online, they're on sale right now for $100. So these aren't cheap straighteners...but they're more affordable than some of the other higher end lines out there. In my opinion, anything that's 1 inch wide and heats up to 400 degrees F with ceramic plates is essentially the same thing. And overall I was VERY impressed with the results. These were my best results straightening my hair since having a relaxer. This could have been the straightener, maybe the products...maybe all of the above.

I think the number one rule of straightening hair successfully so the style to stay away from humidity. Don't take a steamy shower and then straighten your hair in the same bathroom minutes after...either wait a few hours for the steam to go away or straighten in another bathroom that doesn't have a shower. 
The Products I Used:
Smooth N Shine Polishing Silk N Sleek Straighten Polisher
TGIN Argan Replenishing Hair & Body Serum -- buy it here!
Trader Joe's Nourish Spa Balanced Moisturizing Conditioner

The Process:
First I washed my hair with shampoo and conditioner, washing all of the conditioner out thoroughly. When my hair was still wet, I reapplied about two quarter sized globs of the TJ's Nourish Spa evenly throughout my hair. I just raked it through with my fingers. It's not supposed to be a leave in -- but I don't see why not. It has a ton of botanical extracts and is very moisturizing. So this gives your hair a boost of moisture before all of the oils and heat.
Next, I sectioned wet hair into 3-4 chunky sections. I worked section by section -- dividing each section by half and then applied a very small dime sized amount of first TGIN hair serum and then the same small amount of Silk N Sleek to each half. Then brushed it through to distribute evenly, and was sure to give my ends a little extra serum loving. Being careful not to put too much product on any section...or hair will dry greasy.
About this much hair
About this much of each product -- oil first, then the cones.
The TGIN oil works great as a sealant and moisture boost. The Silk N Sleek is full of other botanical oils as well as silicones -- which help smooth the hair and lock in the straight style. I can see why some people avoid silicones...but if your hair is damaged or you straighten it often, I think silicones are actually helpful. They help hold the straight style longer. 
One strand twist

After applying a conservative amount of product to each section, I divided it further into 3-5 smaller sections, twisted them into one strand twists, and then wrapped them around themselves into around 16-18 bantu knots (the thicker your hair, the more bantu knots).
Bantu Knots
I spared myself the embarrassment by not taking a picture of it, but I sat under my bonnet dryer (hooded works too) with the bantu knots in for a long time. I would say an hour and a half or two on high heat for the first 45 minutes or so. A good time to sleep or catch up on blogging or watch a movie :) The thinner your twists, the less drying time will be. If you want to avoid the added heat of a dryer, then let air dry for a day or overnight.
I worked section by section brushing out the section gently. Then ran the straightener once over the brushed out section to smooth.
Then, I split the brushed out section into three smaller workable sections. 
Then using the wider end of a fine tooth comb, combed through the straightened hair, then ran the straightener over once more after combing.
Then, I comb the smaller straightened section again using the finer tooth side of the comb and run the straightener over a third time, touching up as needed. I didn't add any more product to my hair after it was dry. 
And I repeated these steps on every bantu knot one at a time. First with the brush, then straighter, then fine tooth comb, then straighter, then touch up. My hair isn't thin, but it's not super thick either -- if you have very thick hair, then you may have to run the straighter over more times and use even smaller sections. As you can see, the products helped make my hair very shiny and smooth--and good smelling.

When I was done, I just went through lightly touching up any areas I thought needed it and added a bit of volume accentuating layers with a slight curl at the bottom. 

The Results:
My hair was (and still is!) super soft and straight. I actually found that this time, even when introduced to some humidity, instead of frizzing, my hair became slightly wavy. It got a bit frizzy over a few days and needed touch ups, but it didn't look bad, it looked more wavy, almost as if I styled it wavy + full on purpose. you can's definitely grown! I got it cut (again) almost exactly a year ago right before I graduated college which put me back around 4 inches on my hair growth mission. I would say that now it's longer than it's ever been and hangs maybe 3-5 inches below my collar bone. I'll do a length check sometime soon!

May 12, 2014

The Little Things: My Weekend in Instagrams

Sometimes the subtle weekends are the best ones. The ones where you can snuggle up on the couch and stay in on a Saturday night to sit back, reflect and catch up on all areas where you feel behind. Even if it means holding off on an invitation to go out to a concert at a bar. The day where you can be alone but not lonely at one moment and moments before in pleasant company. Catching up with an old musical friend -- hearing new tunes at an intimate singer/songwriter show in downtown Ann Arbor and then hearing some of his own new tunes after listening about the latest research in psychology and about travels to Korea and India...that may have inspired me to start day dreaming up what my next song will be...and walking aimlessly in the sun. Ending up with a Ben and Jerry's cone in hand...
And finding pleasure in the tiny things--something as tiny as a cherry hanging from a newly bloomed cherry tree. A sign of spring. Discovered at a coffee stop during the short drive on the way to a quiet lake town with an old abandoned factory that spanned what seemed like half a mile. And couples walking their dogs. And boutiques and ice cream parlors. We ended the tiny day trip similarly to how it started -- sitting outdoors with a cherry beer. 
And just being silly with someone you love.
And finding words of inspiration hidden by a stranger in a nearby coffee shop -- reminding whoever may glance to relax.

And create another vivid day.

May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day to My Mumsie

Happy Mother's Day to my little mumsie....

I love the first picture of her in a magenta cardigan and khakis with the African inspired prints on her bed and drapes...mostly because of the orangutan poster hanging on her dorm wall at Kalamazoo. She must have loved monkeys and apes as much as I did...She was an anthropology major which is something I considered going into in college before going the communications route. 

Almost every time I go to my grandparents, I love looking through the old photo albums. My grandpa has hundreds of pictures he keeps in hard covered albums from when my mom and her siblings were little through adulthood. Last I was there, we found the 60s, 70s, and 80s albums -- all full of the classic retro style of the times. 
Some of the albums
My grandma, mom, and uncles
My mom and my aunt
My mom and uncle--loving this hair do, lol
My mom and my uncle
My mom on a fishing trip
My mom and grandpa on a ski trip
Just like I did when I was younger, my mom loved horse back riding at the stables
Off to K college
My mom as a bridesmaid
My mom and three brothers
My mom doing what she used to always do -- painting
My mom and two of her brothers
My mom and her baby brother
Working at her dad's company -- Creative Industries, one of the leading auto manufacturers before the fall of the USA auto industry
Baby mommy.