Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 is quickly approaching. I don't know about you but I'm ready for the New Year to begin.  But before we begin our new chapter, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look back at the lessons we learned so far in 2013.  

 Please join me as we take a stroll down memory lane.

The first big learning we had this year was during our discussion of the L.O.C. Method.  This is simply a moisturizing and sealing routine that takes your hair's moisture to the next level.  We discussed the remixed version (L.C.O.) which consisted of adding a liquid to the hair then a cream moisturizer followed by your favorite oil.

Right after discussing the L.C.O method, I received an email from a reader praising the wonders of scalp brushing which really promoted healthy growth.  It's like a receiving a scalp massage, only better!  Since I had a ton of brushes in my arsenal, I decided to try this technique for myself and loved the results compared to regular scalp massages.  And of course, you know I had to take that experience to the next level by adding a special roller pin to for even greater scalp stimulation.

2013 was also the year that I added a few additional hair tools to my collection.  After learning about the powers of infrared technology, and how beneficial it was for the hair,  I was sold.  Soon I acquired the Babyliss steam flat iron,  the Croc Infrared flat iron and, of course, (my favorite) the Thairapy 365 conditioning tool.  I think I'm pretty much set for a while. 

Another major game changer for me was the addition of Babyface Pure Protein to my regimen.  It was like the folks at Babyface were sitting around the table strategizing on the perfect product for me.  Before Pure Protein came along, I would mix my protein rich conditioners into my moisturizing conditioners to create a perfect blend.  Now, I no longer have to do this because Pure Protein is the solution to everything!  I just got my second bottle in the mail so, even though it comes in a small package, it lasts quite a long time.  I'm a Pure Protein user for life!

To be quite honest with you.  I had a bit of a struggle, with my hair journey, the first half of the year.  Most of it was due to neglect as I placed more attention on my skin journey.  In order to shift things around, I decided to invest in a hair analysis.  The results were shocking! Seeing my poor strands multiplied by 1000X was eye opening.  Because of that I vowed to be more consistent with my practices.  That's when I started using protein treatments more regularly after cutting off several inches of hair.  I'm so glad I got that analysis because it introduced me to the idea that protective styling could be both helpful and harmful to the hair. 

One new addition to my hair regimen was the creation of my Mega Omega blend.  My hair loved that stuff but once I ran out, I was too lazy to make more.  As soon as I'm done with this post, I'm headed straight over to my product closet and whip me up anther batch.

I think one of my favorite experiences of this year was when miss Yahya joined our conversation and enlightened us with her knowledge of Japanese straightening. After seeing this girl at a Make Up show event, who also uses Japanese straightening, I became intrigued with the process.  Yahya schooled us thoroughly on the ins and outs.  Her hair was so captivating that I wanted to learn more.  So she shared her extensive regimen with us.  I was beyond impressed.  From her sharing we would be introduced to a method that would change the game for a lot of us.  She taught us how to "begin with the ends in mind" by applying additional protein to our ends where they need it most.  I tried that method and loved it!  You should too!  Caring for our ends didn't stop there.  Later I discussed the benefit for sealing the ends more intensely than the rest of our hair.  This is a retention method naturals have been using for years and now we can use it to elevate the ends of our ends.

Honestly, I thoughts things couldn't get any better until I happen to stumble upon a YouTube video featuring the wonders of Kanechom & Silicon Mix blended together to create a "super conditioner!" I jumped on to the Kanechom bandwagon head first and never looked back.  My excitement led me to try most of the variety available and they're all winners in my book.

Overall, I would classify 2013 as a phenomenal year! So much learning and progress yet I know that there is still much, much more to learn.  And to be honest with you, I can't wait to see what's ahead for us.  Cheers to another wonderful year and see you in 2014!

2013 was probably the very best year I've had with regards to my skin care journey.   I learned so much this year from all the trials and experiments and I'm very happy with the results.  So let's take a look back and discuss the highlights of 2013.
I think 2012 was a spring board for all the great things that happened this year.  In 2012 I first wrote about how Gabrielle Union, Adrina Lima, Beyonce, Brooke Bailey and others drank up to a gallon or more of water a day as part of their beauty routine.  When I first wrote about it, I thought it was a nifty idea but didn't actually take the plunge until much later.  I bought a huge water bottle and attempted to drink two full bottles a day.  For me, a larger bottle meant that I would take larger sips which really helped me reach my drinking quota.    After several weeks of increased water intake, everything was different.  Then I heard from you, via comments and emails, about how you too began to drink more water and noticed the wonderful blessings of proper hydration.  Keep it up ladies, your body will thank you.

This was the year that I also experienced my first skin peel from Lady Dee.  I went to her because she is pretty well known for creating the loveliest skin in all of her celebrity clients.  Lady Dee is a wonderful woman who is amazing at what she does.  She helped me get back on track with my skin and, for that, I will be eternally grateful.  If you haven't done so, take a look at the complete regimen she created to troubled skin.  It's worth it's weight in gold. 

This year I wanted to focus on creating even toned, glowing skin.  I employed the help of water & fermented cod liver oil for my natural glow along with an extensive exfoliation routine of the face and body.  A spa treatment visit introduced me to a tool that would change the entire game for forever.  My Clarisonic pro has got to be my favorite skin care related purchase this year.  Followed closely by my Riiviva microderm tool.  To support my healthy skin, I also dove head first into the world of collagen.  The delicious chews seduced me in and the powders sealed the deal.  My newest purchase, the gelatin powder is pretty phenomenal and work well in my smoothies.  I'm getting to be "of that age" when collagen stores in the skin are declining quickly.  I'm not just gonna sit back and what it happen.  Not if I can help it.

This year I continued to learn how to improve my skin from inspiring celebrities.  Water drinking, Lady Dee, sauna therapy, oxygen facials and going to bed greasy were all celebrity skin secrets uncovered.  I will continue to hungrily to seek out more secrets in the years ahead.

Thanks so much for sticking with me. I get emails from time to time from readers who share that their hair journey has benefited from the lessons learned on the blog.  I hope some have also received benefits to their skin care journey as well. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

This post is dedicated to Ms. Neo who requested I post my Chanel bags.  As you can see, I have a small, but loved, collection.  As pictured from back to front:  My two hobos. One  with the traditional chain hardware and quilting and the other with a unique chunky pewter chain.  I featured it once in a previous craving post.  On the bottom row I have a beige classic 2.55 size (caviar). Finally, my newest addition. The black phantom bag known as the Chanel "So Black" (jumbo size/lambskin)

Funny story about the all black phantom, I was watching a series of Chanel collection videos on YouTube and one of them featured an all black bag in the smaller size.  From that moment I knew I wanted one. At the time, Chanels with black hardware were out of season and not available in the boutiques.  Day after day, I would check eBay listings hoping that one would show up.

Finally, someone listed one but the zipper was broken.  I decided to let it go knowing that I would have one someday in the future.  Then, over a year later, I just happened to be in Hawaii visiting their boutique and the very first thing my eyes land on is the all black phantom.  I knew I was in trouble the minute I saw that bag.  What I love most about this black beauty is not having to worry about whether I'm wearing gold or silver jewelry.  This lovely beast goes with everything.

I'm going to slow down after I acquire the other two bags on my craving list.  It won't happen for a while but I can't decide between the Chanel Boy Bag then the Balanciaga City Bag.

Chanel Boy Bag

Balanciaga City Bag
 Which one should I get next?

**Ok Ms. Neo, now it's your turn.   :)

The other day I decided to re watch The Secret.  I'll never forget the first time seeing it several years ago.  When the movie went off, I could feel goose pimples all over.  "If this is true," I thought to myself, "I'm going to use this to attract so much into my life!"  Nothing will ever be the same again!!!!!

Time passed and I realized that this Law of Attraction thing wasn't as simple as portrayed in the film.  Things weren't manifesting instantly as I thought about them.  So what happened? Where did I go wrong? I made a vision board, I thought positive thoughts.  I tried to make myself "feel good." Just like they instructed.  But I couldn't find a direct path between vision board and manifestation.

inspiration board
Inspiration Board created many years ago

Since the New Year is upon us, I thought now would be a good time to explore the ways we can shorten the distance between desire (intention) and manifestation.  So we can apply these concepts in our lives in 2014.

It begins with thought....

The seed of bringing out what we want is thought.  John Assaraf asked us to think of ourselves as a magnet and "that our job is hold on to the thought what we want."  "We attract what we think about most."  Here's the reality.  We may think about what we want from time to time but, in actuality, we don't think about what we want consistently.  Most of the time, our thoughts are focused on what we don't want or what we actually experience in reality.  It takes a lot of work (I mean a lot) to keep our thoughts focused on what we desire especially if there are no signs of it in reality.  The most critical thing one must do, in the process of creation, is keep what you want in your thoughts as much as humanly possible.  There are so many times when I catch myself focusing on the things I don't want (which is easy to do).  The moment is see this happening, I  immediately start talking and thinking about my ideal situation.  When I do this, things don't change right away but I know that it starts to move my future in a new direction. 

Do you believe it?

Thoughts are one thing but beliefs are the power that drive us. I could be thinking about attracting my perfect mate but if I believe that every man is no good, then I'm operating with a different set of beliefs.  This will not help no matter how many images of handsome bachelors I have on my vision board.  If I'd like to attract additional financial abundance, it makes no sense for me to flinch every time I see an item with (what I think is) a hefty price tag.  I have to begin to actually believe that what I want is achievable (maybe not this very instant but it will eventually exist).  The Secret Movie talks about the importance feeling good.  Honestly, I think you can only feel good about what you want if you truly believe it's possible.  Otherwise your thoughts will be focused on the gap between what you want and what you have.  You have to believe that you are moving closer to your intended outcome each and every day.

What are you doing about it?

If you have three of four outcomes that you want to create, yet if there are no signs of it visible in your reality, then you won't attract it.  Plain and simple.  If there's one thing you can do to elevate your likelihood of attracting what you want is to do something to demonstrate your desire to achieve it.  Even if the action is small.  If you open up an account to save for that vacation, you are attracting it.  The action we take in reality is another way to demonstrate that we believe what we want will come into existence.  Those actions we take will help generate the feelings of "having it now."  Remember, as I said before, your current (in)actions have brought about your current reality.  The more different your vision board looks from your life today, the more you actions have to align with what you want.

Love the process as much as the outcome.

This is where I struggle the most.  When I want something, I want it now!  My impatience doesn't allow me to keep moving forward in the right direction because I get discouraged by lack of result.  Truth is, there's always a result, but if it's not the final outcome, I start pouting and move onto to something else.  This year, I'm going to thoroughly enjoy the path that takes me there.  The more I enjoy the process, the more likely I am to keep moving forward.  Not only am I going to enjoy the path, I'm going  consistently acknowledge any and all progress I make (no matter how  big or small). 

Do what you know you should.

There were times when I created an intention that I had no idea how I was going to achieve.  I simply couldn't formulate how to get from point A to point B.  Instead of standing still or giving up, I took on a new philosophy of "doing what I know I should do." What this simply means is taking the very next step (no matter how small) knowing that if I'm faithful in the little, more ideas, resources and results will come.  Jack Canfield talks about this in The Secret.  He mentioned something about headlights on a car on a dark road.  The light doesn't give you full visibility of your entire trip, it lights up the next few feet that you have to travel.  As you keep moving forward, you keep receiving the light you need to see you through.  So if you have a big goal, don't get overwhelmed, jut take the next small step knowing that when you get there, you'll find out what the next step is.  As long as you keep moving forward, your life will never be the same.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

It was at least a year ago when I heard in passing about a woman who wrote a book on how she lost weight eating a diet consisting mainly of sardines, green veggies, water.  I didn't think much of it at the time except that it reminded me of how much I loved eating sardines when I was younger.

Months passed before I finally picked up a couple of cans.  More time passed before I actually cracked one of them open.  I guess the thought of eating little fish straight from the can didn't seem all that appetizing to me anymore.  That is....until I actually tried them.  They're actually pretty tasty when prepared right.  I love them in sandwiches with a little mustard, some kale greens, avocado slices, red onion and raw cheese.  In fact, I love this combination so much that I've been enjoying several cans of sardines a week for the past month.

Sunday Brunch: sardine sandwich, season fries, tomato soup

What I didn't know at the time is how much of a super-food sardines are until recently.  Turns out that these little inexpensive delicacies are an excellent source of complete protein.  But it doesn't stop there.  If you pick up the kind with the bones included, you are also getting high quality calcium with your meal.  Sardines also have high amounts of B12, omega 3s, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B3, phosphorous (helps our body absorb the calcium) and selenium. It's also one of the few foods with the antioxidant Co-enzyme Q10.  Even if you don't like the taste of sardines, it's completely worth it to add to your diet for all the nutritional benefits.  Another important thing to note is that sardines have very low levels of mercury due to their low position on the food chain.

*Side note: Selenium is said to have the ability to help the body get rid of mercury....  Looks at nutrient list in sardines, sees selenium on the list, feels better about eating them. *

One thing I noticed of late is that my skin isn't as dry as it normally is this time of year.  My water intake is up and down so I don't think its because I'm drinking so much water.  My scalp also isn't as dry and my skin is happy.  I'm also loving the convenience factor of these little super food snacks. They require no cooking at all and if I'm too lazy to make a sandwich, I'll just have them on a bed of greens.

Sometimes it's the simple things in life that bring the most pleasure.

As you all may know, I'm currently focusing on the aspect of my skin care journey that addresses  acne scarring.  My initial strategy was to focus on manual exfoliation via my Riiviva microderm kit.  My strategy shifted somewhat after a recent trip to my local Sephora store.

After ringing my order, the sales woman informed me that I had amassed enough reward points to obtain a free gift.  I carefully assessed my options. "That one", I told her as I pointed at the orange and white box.  Inside was 0.25fl size sample of Murad's Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightning Serum.

The active ingredient is 2.0% hydroquinone.  I'm not a fan of this ingredient but I made an exception after reading the product claims.  "Reduces the appearance of sun spots and age spots by 33% in 1 week."  "I thought to myself, I'll try it for a few weeks. If I see no improvement, I'll stop."

The first night I tested my new product after cleansing with my Clarisonic Pro. Immediately after toning with apple cider vinegar, I pumped a couple of drops in my hand.  The consistency is like that of a thin serum. This made it very easy to spread and absorb into the skin.  The serum also had a moisturizing effect which I really liked.  If given the choice, I'll pick a serum over a cream any day. Back in the day, I would try hydroquinone creams but was never consistent enough to see results.  I was hoping that the serum would help me stay on course.   By the time I go to bed,  most of it has been absorbed.  When I wake up the next day, my skin feels smooth and soft.

Along with hydroquinone, this lightening serum also contains water as the first ingredient, glycolic acid, glycerin, rice amino acids, aloe leaf juice, yeast amino acids, zinc, vitamin C, grape seed extract, castor oil, vitamin e,  etc. As I'm writing this post, it's been less than a week since I first tried it.  I'm here to sing the praises of the results I am experiencing so far.  I really wish I had taken before photos because I swear that my skin is experiencing improvements in under 5 days!

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that this wonder serum can help me have blemish free skin without the help of foundation.  Two years ago, I had to use my Studio Fix (MAC) foundation to try to cover up flaws and acne.  Last year, I dealt with my acne but still relied on my Studio Fix to cover scarring & blemishes.  Now, I can use something a light as Iman BB Cream to create the look of even skin tone.  Although it's not perfect, this is much more progress than I could ever expect.  Soon, I'll have clear, even toned skin whether I'm wearing foundation or going natural.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

We have a lot to look forward to in the year ahead.  One of them is the release of the newest hair care line from Creme of Nature.  It's known as the Straight From Eden line featuring plant derived ingredients such as coconut, avocado and olive oils in their shampoos/conditioners and relaxing system.

The good folks at Creme of Nature were gracious enough to send me the collection so I can give you all a sneak peak of what's ahead.

{Conditioning Treatment} A rejuvanating & fortifying formula created to strengthen and protect the hair from damage and dehydration.  Doesn't contain mineral oil. A

 {Detangling Leave In} Improves manegeablilty of your hair using the goodness of nature's garden.  The leave-in is a protective formula created to condition, nourish and shield hair from damage.

{HYDRATING SHAMPOO}  Sulfate free hydrating formula created to replenish moisture.  Contains avocado, coconut and olive oils.  

{REPAIRING OIL} A powerful restorative formula create to reclaim strength and give a brilliant natural shine to all hair types.  This weightless nourishing natural fusion of oils uses coconut oil to add hydration and incredible softness while strengthening for beautifully healthy hair.

That's just the tip of the iceberg.  They also created a proprietary no lye relaxer formula that incorporates the power of coconut to restore strength and protect hair from damage, avocado to fortify hair and promote overall hair healthiness, and olive oil to lubricate the strands preserving moisture.

There are two relaxer formulas.  Hair Type A for fine, wavy or delicate hair and Hair Type B  for normal to thick hair.  According to the info sent to me, the natural oils added to the relaxer formula are "alive and present" at the point when one adds the activator to the relaxer.  They say that "this is the moment when the true benefits of the coconut, avocado & olive oils penetrate the cuticle of the hair shaft for maximum impact."

Sounds pretty exciting. These just came in so I haven't had a chance to test drive yet.  I did perform the costumary "remove the cap to see what it smells like" experiment. The scent seemed very familiar to me.  It reminded me somewhat of a milder version of coconut lime scented lotion.  Just so happens that I love coconut lime so I'm pretty excited.

To find out more about the product check out the Straight from Eden website.

*Edited to add: The new relaxer system does contain plant based ingredients for a healthier process but isn't chemical free. *

Friday, December 27, 2013

After realizing that I spend entirely too much time in my office, in front of the computer, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a beauty survival kit at the touch of my fingers.
With the help of a small acrylic tray, I was able to compile a few of my favorite essential beauty items.  Anytime throughout the day, I can reach for my favorite lipstick, nourish my cuticles, moisturize & seal my hair, or take a swig of nutrient rich collagen. 

.....in my beauty essentials kit:
1.} Coach fragrance
2.} Gold Collagen supplement
3.} Gleau Oil Blend (Travel size)
4.} Rosebud Lip Salve
5.} L'Occitane Shea Butter tin
6.} Aveda Damage Remedy moisturizer
7.} MAC Nude lipstick
8.} grow gorgeous hair growth serum.
9.} Glam Glow clearing mud

It's a start.  If I find that I don't use any of the items that often, I'll just switch it out for something else.  Best of all, this simple tray takes up very little space since it's smaller than a sheet of paper.  Even while writing this post, I paused and gave myself a cuticle massage (something I haven't done for months), took a swig of collagen and added some Gleau to my ends.  .  I can already tell that this beauty survival kit will add a lot of value.

I took a strengths assessment once and one of my strengths (as revealed by the results) described me as "futuristic." Meaning that I'm always thinking about and creating a vision what lays ahead.  So it's no surprise to me that I'm already wanting to plan for spring and summer even before the new year begins.

I'm not sure where it came from, but the idea came of seeing if it's possible to even out the skin color of my under arms.  They aren't exceptionally dark but I thought to myself "wouldn't it be great if I could make them more like the rest of my skin color"?

So off I went into the world of the internet in search of answers.  "Seek and you shall find."  The advice was pretty consistent so I'm confident in moving forward and adding the techniques into my routine.

Here's what I'll be doing:

First and foremost, I will give up the act of shaving using a razor.  Shaving doesn't reach the hairs below the surface of my skin which allows for stubble to appear almost immediately.  As we know, that darn stubble provides a shadow which gives the appearance of darker armpits. They also say that shaving promotes the buildup of dead skin cells as it tries to protect itself from the constant irritation of regular shaving.   So instead of razors, I have the option of waxing or using an epilator.  I'm a technology buff so I think I'll go with option 2. We'll see what happens.

Another contributor to dark underarms could be related to our deodorant. we're told to stay away from traditional deodorants that contain aluminum which has been linked to Alzheimer's disease and certain types of cancer.  A while back I switched to a natural deodorant which helps keep me dry without the harmful ingredients.  During my search I also learned that using Apple Cider Vinegar & water underarms can also help with fighting odor. I'll be implementing this step since I already use ACV as a toner.

Finally, I'll be adding exfoliation into my ritual.  I'm not sure why I haven't been doing this sooner!  You all know that I've discussed exfoliation numerous times. I thought my exfoliation routine was air tight until I realized that I was skipping my underarms.  Exfoliation will remove the dead skin that accumulates in that area and will reveal younger, brighter skin over time.  So as of this moment, I'll begin to exfoliate everywhere including my underarms.

That's it! Three simple adjustments to my current ritual and I'll have smooth, even-toned underarms by spring.

Give it a shot and let me know if it works for you.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

It's one of those moments when a decision has to be made.  You stroll into a store with the intention of only browsing when suddenly, something amazing catches your attention.  Well, my friends, that moment happened to me today.

One second these darlings were peaking at me from the shelf, next thing I know, they're on my feet as I stood in front of a full length mirror.

I blacked out after that, but when I came to, I found myself standing in the checkout line, gitty with excitement.  These Via Spiga Norine heels are my new love.  So amazingly comfortable it's ridiculous.  And I'm not going to mention how flattering and sexy they are when worn.

What drew me in was the eye catching, burnt orange accent, but I'm absolutely absolutely in love with the pebbled leather detailing.

Reminds me of the caviar leather of a Chanel bag which provides a level of durability and resistance to scratches you don't normally get with smoother finishes.

They're perfection.

When the BB Cream craze began a year or so ago, many flocked to this new wonder cream that had the power to do so many wonderful things at once.  Everything was great until us brown girls tried to find a BB Cream that would actually match our skin.  Luckily for us, Iman came in to save the day with her wide range of brown hued BB creams.

Suddenly, word spread about the next evolution of multi-facited creams.  Soon the CC Cream would hit store shelves.  CC Creams would contain the one missing piece from it's predecessor.  This product would have the ability to cover, correct, and actually even out skin tone over time.  So of course, those of us with darker tones would have to sit and wait patiently for our turn.  Thank goodness, the wait was much shorter than anticipated because our girl Iman is all over it!

Recently she launched her CC Cream/powder in a variety of beige & brown shades.  According to her imancosmetics.com website this CC Creme promises to:

+Flawlessly conceal dark under eye circles and discoloration.

+Even skin tone with Iman Skin Tone Evener Complex, Vitamins, Marine and Plant Extract.

+Make a perfect compliment to Iman Skin Tone Evener BB Creme.

So essentially, it provides coverage while evening out skin tone...........I want it.

Curious to know more, I checked out a few reviews to see what others are saying about it and so far the reviews are pretty positive.  I'll be ordering mine in the next few days.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Someone must have been a really good girl this year because I received a very special delivery on the eve of Christmas.  Can I just tell you how excited I am about my Boots.com haul?

After much discussion about the value of pea sprout extract in hair growth & health, I finally get to wrap my greedy little hands around a bottle (or two) of my own.  We've talked about grow gorgeous serum before.  But now I actually read the package, so let's find out more about it, shall we?
grow gorgeous

Product description on the label:
"Put your lethargic follicles through some serious schooling with this ultra-concentrated formula with a proprietary 21.5% active complex of 7 technologies that work hard together to make hair visibly longer, thicker and fuller."
Here is a breakdown of the 21.5% active complex.

+ 8.0% Acetyl Tetrapeptide-3: "Has been shown in an independent study to start working within 8 days to improve visible hair length while increasing hair density by 13% within 4 months. It'd be like having 13,000 more hairs on average."

+8.0% Bio-Active Pea Sprout Complex:  "Starts working within 2 weeks and improves visible hair growth by 78% compared to normal levels within 3 months based on an independent active complex study."

+5% Bio Active Complex of Chinese Skullcap, Soy Sprout & Wheat Sprout: "Improves visible hair thickness and the condition of the follicles within 3 months for fuller, denser and healthier looking hair.

+0.5% Hyaluronic Acid (non animal source): "Is able to attract up to 1,000 times it's weight in water, improving in scalp hydration and penetration.

So now that you have a basic understanding of the makeup of the serum, let's talk a little more about it.  I checked out the ingredient list which is pretty extensive but honestly, most of it consists of plant based extracts.  Water is the first ingredient.  The "Bio Active Extracts & Hyaluronic acid appear near the top of the list after water.  The only oil I saw present was castor oil which appeared as one of the latter ingredients.  As you can see from the picture above, it's a liquid serum.  The consistency is very watery and easy to distribute using the dropper provided.  Application was a snap because of the texture.  The only thing I would change about it is the scent.  It's really mild but, to me, it has a slight cologne-like smell.  But other than that, I'm cool with it.  I'm supposed to use it once a day, massaging it in until my scalp has fully absorbed the liquid.  So far, so good. Because of it's watery base, it feels like I'm moisturizing my roots during the process.  This also gives me another reason to stay consistent with my scalp massages.

fountain beauty molecule

Since I live in the U.S. and Boots.com only delivers in the UK, I had to take advantage of this opportunity and order whatever I could while I had the chance.  So I picked up a bottle of Fountain which is a liquid supplement containing 40 mg of Trans-Resveratrol.  This main ingredient is a powerful anti-oxidant which can help fight free radicals.  They say that resveratrol helps slow down the rate at which our cells divide which can slow down the aging process by extending the life of the cell.  Along with resveratrol, Fountain also contains black carrot (another anti-oxidant) and hyaluronic acid.  Seemed too good to pass up.

gold collagen

Finally, I picked up more collagen.  This time it's in a bottle, already formulated for immediate consumption.  I heard about Gold Collagen before but had a hard time getting my hands on it.  When I saw it on Boots.com, I knew what I had to do. Another thing I like about Gold Collagen is that it also contains vitamins such as zinc, copper, biotin, vitamin C, E, B6 and, the one ingredient that all my purchases have in common, hyaluronic acid.

Santa sure knows how to make a girl's day.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December is the time of year when most are bundled up in the warmest of layers.  Unfortunately the unseasonably warm weather down here doesn't call for knitted sweaters and mittens.  So I have to get a little creative when putting together fall looks in summer-like temperatures.    

Chanel Tote
Chanel Tote

A lightweight, short sleeve cardigan wrap I picked up, last year, from Target  is perfect for times like this.  Visually, it has the look of a sweater but feels as light as a comfortable blouse.

A few weeks back, I decided to put this Chanel bag on Ebay.  After storing it away for months, I found myself not reaching for it as much as I thought.  After weeks of going back and forth I (thought) I made the decision to sell it.

2 day old curls created with the help of Conair Flexirods
The moment I took it out of it's dust bag, I remembered what drew me on the day I first laid eyes on it.  So for now, she's staying with me.

Chain necklace
Silver Chain Necklace

With all grey attire, it's easy to fall into the trap of being monochromatic from head to toe.  Is there a better way to add a pop of color than rocking the classic red nail?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Today I want to introduce an idea that I will be practicing consistently to achieve goals and intentions.  I first learned of this concept from an Anthony Robbins CD I received many years ago.  He called it a fundamental practice that changed his life.  And I believe that, if practiced every day, it will shift my life as well.

What I'm talking about is "The Hour of Power."  Essentially, this is a ritual that will have you taking more action in the morning than most people do all day.  Most of us, already have rituals (or things we do consistently) each morning.  But how many of those actions help bring about an outcome that you wish to achieve?  In my day job, one of my job responsibilities is to help others reach their goals.  I might ask that person to share their current  goals with me.  After they've shared I'll inquire about how much of their time, in the past week, was dedicated to that goal vs. doing routine actions.  Most often, I find that most can express their desired outcomes but rarely does anyone carve out dedicated time to impact those goals.  If we don't invest the time to create it, our goals will not happen.

One of the fundamental practices that helps bring about achievement is a solid morning ritual.  This is what Tony Robbins suggests in his "Hour of Power" program.  Essentially, this is a dedicated amount of time in which you focus on the things you must do in order to achieve what you want.  It's highly recommended that you conduct your Hour of Power first thing in the morning.  If needed, you may have to wake up earlier than normal so you have time alone to focus.  It's an investment.  Waiting until later in the day to "fit it in" is a mistake.  Our days are just too busy to have a spare hour available to focus on developing yourself.  Plus, if you do this first thing in the morning, you are literally setting the course for your thoughts, your energy and your focus for the day ahead.

So what do you do during this Hour of Power?  I'm glad you asked.  Honestly, the possibilities are endless, but I have some suggestions to get those ideas flowing.  Let's discuss.

+ {Gratitude} When life gets stressful for me, I can say with certainty that I've been focusing on all the negative things that are happening.  I'm spending my thought energy on the challenging aspects of my life and my stress levels go up.  Chances are, I'm not taking the time to express gratitude in every situation.  It's nearly impossible to be filled with gratitude and be stressed out at the time. So it's important that we dedicate some time each day to be thankful for everything. 

+ {Exercise}  Without a doubt, there is no comparison in my energy level when I exercise in the morning versus the days when I don't.  Morning workouts give me a new outlook on the day.  I walk with my head held high knowing that I challenged my body while most people slept.  Suddenly, the challenges of the day don't seem as powerful.  I carry myself like I can do anything.  It's a great feeling.

+ {Planning}  Steven Covey in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, talked about planning as an activity that is "non-urgent and important."  Meaning, that planning has no (immediate) consequences if we don't do it.  But it's highly important if we wish to be effective.  This is a huge factor in helping your achieve your goal.  THE BIGGEST MISTAKE SOME OF US MAKE IS TO SET A GOAL THAN ASSUME THAT IT'S JUST GOING TO HAPPEN WITHOUT ANY ADDITIONAL EFFORT.  It will not happen unless you plan the actions and strategies to make it happen.  If it was going to just happen on it's own, you wouldn't need to make it a goal.  Whenever I set a goal, the first thing I do is realize that my life, the way it is now, doesn't allow for that goal to happen.  So I must do something, move something around in my life, in order to make it happen.  Planning helps me to carve out time in my day to allow for actions that make my goals a reality. So when you review your goals, one question to ask yourself is  "how do I plan on making that happen?"

+ {Reading} This is a great opportunity to feed your mind with wonderful thoughts, ideas, inspirations.  Reading or listening to something inspirational/motivational on a daily basis will change your life.

+ {Visualizing} They say our minds will help us achieve what it truly believes.  One of the best ways to help our minds believe something is to picture it clearly.  This practice is really powerful.  If you read  or listen to stories of great people who have achieved wonderful things in their life, you'll hear words of conviction as they tell their story.  They talk about believing in what would happen in their life even though they came from humble beginnings.  Seeing it clearly in your mind helps to eliminate hidden fears that will ultimately reflect in your action or lack thereof.  It's good to have a vision board on the wall but it's also great to have an "internal vision board" where you see yourself having achieved what you want.

+ {Meditation} We've discussed mediation on this blog before so I won't go into detail about what mediation is.  I will say that quite time will allow you the ability to do everything else on your list.  To me, a quite, focused mind is like a blank canvas.  It allows for anything to be created.  I'm a decent public speaker but six months ago I gave one of the best presentations of my career.  People were coming up to me saying how engaging and passionate I was during the talk (which was pretty much unsctipted).  When they asked me what was different, I shared that I was diligently meditating consistently. Did meditating make me a better speaker?  Not directly.  Meditating took away the voices that normally holds me back from operating at 100%.  When I stood in front of the group of 80+ people, it felt like I was sitting in front of a table talking to my closest friend because there weren't a bunch of limiting thoughts flying around in my mind.

+{Journaling/Writing} There's something really special about getting your thoughts down on paper.  It gives us the perfect opportunity to do some reflection.  Consistent reflection is the perfect compliment to planning.  We reflect back on the year, on last week, on yesterday and, from there, we can plan for today.  Journaling also gives you us a chance to ask really important questions that can create breakthroughs.  For instance, let's say you didn't exercise at all last week, even though your goal is to lose 20lbs.  Reflect on things like, what stopped you from exercising, what was going on in your life last week?  What can you do to fulfill your commitment even when things are hectic?

+{Learning}  When I first started working online, I wanted to learn  bunch of new skills like editing video, building websites, etc.  Some of it was easy to pick up, some needed much more time.  So I set aside an hour or so in the early morning to watch videos online and learn something even if it was tiny. Each time I picked up something new, I would write down what I learned (as a way of staying motivated).  As you would imagine, my skill set continued to grow allowing me to cross multiple goals off my list.  I love how you can pretty much learn anything online nowadays.  Do you have any financial goals for 2014?  If so, then you should contemplate which things you can learn that can help move you closer to your desires.

This is a list of examples for things you can do in an hour (or less).  You can even try doing 2 or more of them in an hour (30 minutes each).  I've even tried incoporate four of them in an hour.  For example, meditating for 15 mins, planning for 15 mins, gratitude/journaling for 15 mins and visualizing.    It doesn't seem like a lot of time but the effects are cumulative.  It's one of those things that is easy to do and also easy not to do.  If you don't have an Hour of Power, nothing changes, if I do it daily, things don't change overnight.   If you miss a couple of days here and there, don't fret. Just pick back up where you left off.

Ultimately, it requires commitment. Commitment to what you want over your current experience.  If you truly want to experience new results, an hour a day is nothing compared to what you will get in  return.

(You can listen to the Hour of Power disc for free here).

Sunday, December 22, 2013

When I was child, I would often stare longingly at the ladies on relaxer boxes and in print hair product ads.  "One day", I said to myself, "I would model my gorgeous hair just like them".  Did anyone else ever feel this way?  If so, this is your lucky day!
I was contacted by PR representative who has been commissioned by an international hair care and styling company entering into the hair color arena. They are looking for models with relaxed or natural hair to feature on packaging and in advertisements.  All wardrobe, hair, makeup will be covered by the client.  They're on the lookout for models from all over the U.S.  The shoot is paid and models will be given a contract as part of their assignment.

Ladies if you are interested you can email up to 5 photos to [email protected]  One of the photos must show your hair in it's current condition (relaxed or natural). No weave pics please.

Good luck everyone!  Oh, and if you become a world famous model because of this opportunity, don't forget us little people.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

One of the bold declarations I'm making for myself in 2014 is to experience as many new things as possible.  This afternoon I had the pleasure of introducing new foods into my diet.  Well, they aren't actually new, per se.  In fact, I've consumed these foods pretty much all my life.
Raw milk collected two days ago from the cow

The difference this time, is that my eggs, milk and cheese are completely raw.  By raw, I mean unpasteurized (treated with heat).  Pasteurizing kills all the bacteria (good and bad) along with the enzymes.  Some say that pasteurizing creates foreign proteins (histamines) due to the destroyed bacteria remaining in the milk in a form that is unhealthy to our bodies.  The end result is a milk that is considered a "dead," lactose (sugar) heavy product that is difficult to digest. Raw milk on the other hand, still contains the enzymes required for us to properly digest it.  Unfortunately, raw milk is illegal for human consumption in many states so it isn't readily available.

I'm so glad I was able to find a small shop just outside of town that offers raw milk, truly free range eggs (which are different from cage free) and raw milk cheese.  Free range eggs are said to have more omega 3s, vitamin A, beta carotene and vitamin E than conventional.  While there I also placed an order for grass fed beef liver.  As you would imagine, the cost of these all natural, raw groceries were pretty pricey.  I hope one day they'll find a way to allow natural foods to become readily available at lower prices.  Until that day arrives, I'm just glad I have finally have a choice.

Friday, December 20, 2013

I think I found the word to describe my constant need to seek out and find highly nutritious foods.  It's called a "super-food enthusiast!"  "Hi! My name is Nadege, and I'm a super-food enthusiast".  Today I'd like to introduce you to my latest find which has been promptly added to my super-smoothie routine.

Over the past few months, I've grown a fondness for collagen supplements.  It started with those delicious collagen chews then it evolved to powdered collagen powder.  Now I'm now taking a "collagen cousin", if you will, in the form of gelatin.  So what exactly is gelatin and why am I so fond of it?  Great question.
Gelatin is an animal protein source derived by the collection collagen from the skin, connective tissue and other collagen rich areas.  It's filled with various amino acids and provides loads of benefits.

Most notably, gelatin supports healthy hair, skin and nails.  And, those of us with joint issues can get noticeable relief from regular consumption of gelatin.  Those taking gelatin may also experience an improvement in digestion as gelatin is said to help food move through the body. Gelatin can also help tighten loose skin while addressing stubborn cellulite.  These are just some of the benefits. I didn't even mention how gelatin can help treat conditions related to low bone density, arthritis, etc.

The list of benefits were impressive enough for me to take the plunge and get the Great Lakes Gelatin which is sourced from grass-fed cows.  This morning was my first opportunity to test out gelatin in my smoothie.  The stuff is a white  (orderless) powder. I didn't taste it on it's own so I have no idea what it tastes like.  The smoothie it's self didn't taste any different with the exception of the texture so I assume it's tasteless.

Gelatin is the stuff that folks would use to make jello back in the day long before jello became a processed product.  So, when I took the first sip of my smoothie, I immediately noticed was a slightly thicker consistency.  I didn't mind this at all because I often drink my smoothie as a meal replacement in the morning and I like something that can stick to my bones.  As time went on, I noticed the thickness increase a little more.  No, my smoothie didn't turn into a bowl of jello, but it's definitely much thicker than normal.  I'm also taking into account that I added more than the recommended serving of 1 tablespoon. With a long day of errands ahead of me, I appreciate knowing that I probably won't be hungry for a while.  Oh, they also said that gelatin can help with weight loss.  I can totally see that because so far I only drank half my smoothie and I'm stuffed. Wait! Are you telling me that I can possibly lose weight, while getting beauty & health benefits?  How have I not heard of this before?

 I'll probably also pick up the one in the Green Container which has similar benefits but doesn't have the thickening qualities when added to liquids. I'll use the red one in my smoothies and the green in my bamboo tea or lemon water.
Both varieties have tons of positive reviews on Amazon so why not get both?

With each sip of my thicker, creamier smoothie, I visualized my skin getting plumper as well.  It helps everything go down smoother.

Oh.....before I go, I should also mention that this powder is said to work wonders in a conditioner mix as an amazing mask for the hair.  We'll discuss this more once I've had the opportunity to experiment.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

There's a cycle I go through where, sometimes I'm a total a gym rat, working out almost on a daily basis.  Then there are other times when life gets in the way and exercise falls way down on my list of priorities.  I will say this....since I began following fit-inspiration pages on Instagram, I find that finding a spark of motivation to "get back at it" is much easier than before.

Long ago, I would see images of women with fit, toned bodies and assumed they just got out of the bed looking that way.  Now that folks are willing to share glimpses of their private lives with total strangers, I realize that having an envy worthy body takes a lot of work and consistency to create.  One thing now understand is how important it is to keep exercise as a priority, not simply a thing to do if there's enough time. 

Every morning I scroll through my Instagram feed and there, in living color, are the usual suspects posting images and videos of themselves "putting in work" before I've even had my breakfast.  In that very moment I'm faced with a decision.  Do I let another morning pass without investing in my health?  Or do I take on the challenge and do something that I'll be proud of myself for? 

In honor of the women who wake up every day and go about the work of sculpting healthy bodies, I would like to share glimpses of their mini-workouts. Hopefully some of you may also be inspired.

Inspired yet?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

This is a Part 2 to my previous post on the wonders of activated charcoal for the skin.  After realizing that on of my favorite skin care products, Glam Glow  clearing mud, contained charcoal I decided to do a little experiment.

On the weekends, I want to treat myself to decadent masks to replenish my skin after a long week.  An idea came to me where I could combine my spirulina, charcoal and Aztec Clay powders to create an ultimate clearing and refining mask.

Aztec Clay, Activated Charcoal, Manuka Honey, Spirulina, Apple Cider Vinegar

The result was a mask so natural that I could actually eat it.  Everything blended together really well.  The blended ingredients created smooth, rich paste that was super easy to apply.

w/out makeup
My skin care journey is moving right along really nicely.  Overall, the texture has improved tremendously thanks my Clarisonic and regular use of clarifying masks.  I've also seen a huge reduction in acne scarring and I look forward to even greater results next year.  My intention is to have a flawless look without foundation.  It's gonna happen.  I don't care what it takes to get there.
+{Spirulina}-Nutrient dense. Contains 18 amino acids, can help with scarring
+{Activated Charcoal} -Deeply purifies removing dirt, oil, and other impurities.
+{Manuka Honey}- Antibacterial. Helps soothe skin irritations and treats acne. Contains Antioxdents.  Moisturizing.
+{Apple Cider Vinegar}- pH balanced helps tone the skin
+{Aztec Clay}-Detoxifying, contains minerals

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I've been having lots of fun sharing my rediscoveries with you. First I was reintroduced to Aveda's amazing liquid exfoliant, then I was reunited with MSM lotion. Now it seems like I have reconnected with yet another old friend.

As you may know, I'm a big fan of clay masks.  They have been instrumental in this journey to clear, flawless skin. If I could, I'd use a gentle, natural clay mask daily to keep my skin issues at bay.  So you can imagine my elation upon stumbling upon an all natural purifier that promotes healthy skin.

activated charcoal
I'm quickly running out of Glam Glow clearing mud and I need to reorder.  Today I realized that one of Glam Glow's secrets is the addition of activated charcoal to the lineup.  This makes perfect sense!  Charcoal has tremendous detoxing and clearing properties.  We used it in my filters back when I had fish tanks.  These tiny little black particles have the ability to absorb several hundred times it's weight in impurities and toxins.

After learning about activated charcoal, I decided to get it in raw form and using commercial products available.  I like having the option of both because I can create my own home made masks on beauty ritual days or grab something ready made for when time is limited.  Charcoal can also be applied directly to breakouts and blemishes as a natural remedy.  Natural acne treatments are a lifesaver for me because traditional products like benzoyl peroxide did nothing for my breakouts.
activated charcoal
charcoal powder, Origins Mask & Glam Glow clearing mud
If all this wasn't amazing enough, I then found out this wonderful black powder can also help whiten teeth.  Yes!  Apparently, the same method could be used to "purify" and whiten by drawing impurities from your teeth.  What you do is apply a little charcoal on a tooth brush and brush your teeth like normal (tooth paste not needed).  While you're brushing, your mouth looks horrific as it's covered in the black powder.  But, the good news is that it rinses off easily and you are left with naturally whiter teeth over time.  The same super-absorption power that draws toxins from the skin will also do the same for your teeth.

Activated charcoal is the perfect addition to your beauty routine.  If you want to start using it in raw form, you should know that the powder is really fine and can make a mess if you don't handle it properly. I like to use it in a place where I can clean up quickly (like a bathroom or kitchen sink).  I used to do this regularly but then stopped.  I'm in the process of creating a "beauty day routine" and you can bet your bottom dollar that charcoal brushing will be a part of it.   My plan is to use it on my teeth several times a week for the first 1-2 weeks or so, then go down to once or twice a week.

You can also take this charcoal internally as a supplement for digestion improvement but I haven't had any experience with that yet.  Apparently, the body can not digest activated charcoal so it travels through the body collecting toxins as it travels.  In the hospital system, they use medical grade charcoal to treat patients who have chemical overdoses as a way of moving the toxins out of the blood stream.  Activated charcoal is the bomb! So glad I found it again.

P.S.   Please don't use cooking charcoal because it isn't food grade, which is not the same as the activated version.


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