Sunday, June 29, 2014

One of my favorite past times on Sundays is to enjoy brunch at a local restaurant with my other half.  As amazing as that experience is, sometimes the cost of two delicious meals and drinks add up.  So this Sunday I decided to whip up my own Sunday brunch at home.  Something that looks like I put in a lot of effort but took almost no time at all to prepare.

After watching a recent episode of Master Chef, I was inspired to whip up a batch of shrimp & grits.  The end result was so delightful that I thought I'd share it with you all today.  Ready? Let's go!
What you'll need:
Large/Colossal Shrimp
Tilapia fillets
Instant grits
Green onion (optional)
Shredded Cheese (optional)
Dried Parsley (optional)
Cajun seasoning
Fish Fry Seasoning
  • Begin by sprinkling on some cajun seasoning to the fish fillets and and shrimp. Also add salt, pepper and dried parsley. Allow to marinate in the fridge for 30 mins to an hour.
  • When the fish and shrimp have had enough time to marinade, prepare the instant grits according to package instructions.
  • Bread the tilapia with Fish Fry batter and pan fry in the skillet. Once done, remove and place on paper towel to drain.
  • In a new pan, heat and melt butter. Add the seasoned shrimp and cook all the way through.
  •  Plate shrimp with the fried fish.
Garlic Lemon Spinach (hubby's favorite)
  • Wash pan and add a little butter and add a small amount of minced garlic. Allow to sauté for a few seconds.  
  • Add fresh spinach and mix with the butter + garlic.  
  • Grab a lemon wedge and squeeze fresh lemon to spinach (you can add salt or pepper if you'd like) but the spinach taste great with our without it.  Make sure the spinach is mixed well with the garlic, butter and lemon.  

Top off the finished plate with some fresh scallion and sprinkle fresh cheese.  Voila!  Looks like you went to some fancy restaurant from brunch but nope.  This was all done by the work of your beautiful hands.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Recently, the internet was turned upside down when a routine criminal arrest turned into a world wide conversation on the power of being beautiful.  Jeremy Meeks was apprehended, along with three others, on suspicion of criminal activity.   When the Stockton police department posted images of their newest arrests, they had no idea how a simple image would generate such a heightened reaction simply because the alleged criminal was......strikingly beautiful.
Many have debated about whether it was just "a good pic" or if Jeremy missed his calling as a fashion model.  Whatever your opinion, I'm sure many would agree that his above average looks are certainly "remark-able." Looking back at the entire ordeal, my mind flashed back to the olden days when I'd watch video taped evidence of "beauty bias" in action.  Preferential treatment given to attractive people seemed to occur in a multitude of situations from landing a great job to being helped by total strangers. They've even determined that children are also susceptible to creating positive or negative perceptions based on how a person looks.  Perhaps we, on a basic level, all have something deep down that impacts how we relate to attractive people.  I've even heard that it could be connected to our need for survival in that (1) attractive people are seen as friendlier, more approachable, less dangerous (2) Most want to procreate with someone who is deemed attractive to them.

Heck, this bias towards beauty, that we seem to have, doesn't only apply to other human beings. If we are given a choice to pick out a piece fruit from a bowl of its counterparts, we reach for the brightest, freshest (most attractive) piece of fruit.  Our eyes are naturally drawn to beautiful cars, homes, pieces of art .etc. It's in all of us.

Knowing that attractive bias exists, should we focus our attention on condemning the shallow preferences of others or should we somehow leverage it?  What if, our level of attractiveness can impact the kind of life we live? What if we could be earning a higher wage (as some studies suggest), receive extra support from others that we wouldn't normally have access to and gain other benefits simply if we presented ourselves a different way? What if we could alter the course of our lives by presenting ourselves to the world in an intentional and powerful way.

"There are no ugly women, only lazy ones."

Can you think back to a time when you paid careful attention on how you looked compared to other days. How did people react to you?  Did you seem to emanate a different level of energy than when you just walked out the door without giving yourself a second look?  On an average day I look as if I put approximately 1% of time and energy into the way I look.  My excuse has to do with lack of time.  Once, however, I took a two week vacation and committed to dedicated ample amounts of time to taking care of my skin, doing my hair, keeping my nails chip free, growing my lashes, preparing my clothes, the works.

Everything changed during those two weeks.

People saw me in a new way.  The lingering looks from total strangers seemed endless. People who I once thought were outside my level of attractiveness seemed drawn to me.  It was pretty crazy.   Nothing like I had ever experienced before.  It made me wonder "is this what it's like to be an attractive person. Why is it so different?"  Then time passed and my old habits crept in and soon, I went back to being my old self again.  This whole Jeremy Meeks fiasco helped remind me of how much our appearance impacts the direction of our lives.

 I'm not talking about trying to please others,  I'm referring to being the very best version of ourselves at all times.  And not to mention how much our confidence skyrockets when are look our best.  Let's discuss this more on our next talk on this topic.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Yesterday, while sitting at the computer, I was struck with a brilliant idea. "I should get a crop top!"  It's summer, it's hot and crop tops are cute & comfy.  Why not?! So I head over to this site and found the right one for only $8.00.  I picked out a couple of colors and, just before I checked out my purchase, my eyes land on my protruding mid-section and now I'm having second thoughts.
I am, most certainly, not ready to rock a crop top.  Here's the thing. I haven't seen the inside of a gym in forever.  The blame lays on my unholy travel schedule.  As one would expect, I've lost some muscle and gained fat.  Unfortunately for me, when I gain fat, it usually shows up on my hips/thighs and stomach.

Although I've been traveling like mad, I haven't gained as much as I usually do.   Why? Because I been practicing "doing one thing different" with regards to my eating.  After receiving inspiration from the Create a Growth Spurt post, I  incorporated eating fruit as a part of my daily habits.  I still ate chips or had sweets if I craved, but I simply had to make sure I had some fruits somehow, someway.  That's all, nothing else. I didn't make promises about working out everyday or losing a certain amount of weight. The only thing I had to do was enjoy some fruits.
I knew from reading the book the Power of Habit, that eating healthy is a keystone habit.  Keystone habits are those that have the POWER to create a  positive chain reaction.  They have the power to influence the other habits in our lives.  In my case, I knew for sure that if I ate fruit everyday, the following would happen:

Eat fruit >> Feel better about myself >> Feel healthier >> Eat salads >> Buy less sweets >> Feel even better >> Start exercising again

And that's exactly what happened.  Normally by now, I would be much heavier because of all the unhealthy eating while on the road.  But that isn't the case. Lately, I've been making healthier choices and now I'm ready to take it to the next level.  So, in order to be ready for "the crop top," here's what I 'm going to do.

  • Continue my daily fruit habit + add a daily salad/vegetable habit. This is especially important when I'm on the road. Whenever I eat a meal (lunch or dinner) I will either enjoy a delicious salad or replace one of my side items with a vegetable.  This will likely lower my carb intake which a huge factor in creating a flat stomach.
  • Enjoy jogging or brisk walking.  I hate running. I hate the sweating, breathing hard and I hate pushing myself to do something that makes me feel uncomfortable. But, you know what?  I absolutely love what happens when I come back from a run. I feel great and I'm ALWAYS glad I did it.  And my body looks great.  My midsection has always been an issue for me. The only time I've had a completely flat stomach was when I ran almost everyday.  I know that I may not be motivated to run everyday. So I may instead try a keystone habit of stretching every day.  Daily stretching will, without a doubt, lead me to the daily habit of exercising. 
  • Transverse exercises.  There was a time when I created a tiny waist.  I never, in life, had a such a well defined waist.  And it was all achieved without the help of a single sit up.  Instead I focused on the internal abdominals that pull everything inward.  In order to properly rock the crop top, everything has to be nice and tight.  
  • Cardio exercise + resistance + transverse exercises + healthy eating = A small, crop top ready, waist.
Ab exercises are not the most effective only way to a flat stomach.  If you want   to see an illustration of this, check out Celiabug's fitness feature. Her stomach went from a place of abundance to becoming toned and lean by eating clean and doing ample amounts of cardio.  Oh, speaking of checking out, I've gotta go grab those crop tops.  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Each week I sit down to conduct a ritual that I've done for many years.  And, for the most part, my pre-poo has been pretty much the same.  Sure, I switch up products from time to time but overall, I've been doing the pre-poo on auto pilot.

One issue that I've been plagued with throughout my entire hair journey is damage that occurs in small sections.  When I'm diligent in practicing the strand ceremony, meaning when I applying product in the teeniest sections possible week after week I see great results.  However, a true strand ceremony takes a lot of time which is my excuse for the times I deviate from the process.
The greatest benefit to applying conditioner in small sections is having direct access to areas that aren't doing as well as others.  In one moment, I'm applying creamy conditioner to thick lush hair, a moment later, I find a shorter, thinner section the produces a couple of broken hairs as I smother it with product. I wish I could have an entire head of healthy hair but I just haven't been that fortunate.

But what if I could tweak the pre-poo process so I can get what I want?  The strand ceremony works but I'm only getting 50% of what is possible.  What if I could take the process up one notch to eradicate weak areas once and for all.  So here's what I'm going to do.

1. Utilize the process of parting my hair in extremely small sections.
2. Prepare two batches of product. One batch for my thick, healthy hair. One batch for my weak damaged section.

Instead of applying a basic moisturizing conditioner to weak damaged areas, I'll experiment spot treating the weaker areas with a protein rich moisturizing conditioner.  My hope is that, over time,  those weaker areas will become stronger and soon, I'll have an entire head of healthy strands.  Oh, and I won't forget to utilize Yahya's amazing tip of adding protein rich conditioners on the ends. So that's the plan. I really do think this could be key in transforming my hair overall.

We'll see.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

At the start oƒ my skin care journey, I often frequented beauty counters in search of miracle cures.  Countless hundreds of dollars were spent on high and low end creams that to promise to make all my dreams would come true.  My biggest concern at the time was cystic acne and scarring.  Every time someone would shove a product in my hand and proclaim that this product would take care of my issues, I believed them.  Because I wanted it to work so badly.  But alas, I finally learned a difficult and expensive lesson, that most topical products  just didn't do it for me.

Serious change in my skin occurred when I finally decided to focus on my internal health.  When I gave up wheat, increased my water intake, and began juicing, things really turned around. So now I'm reading that, as the years pass, our skin will begin to lose its internal moisture at rapid rates.  "No biggie", I think to myself, "I'll just make sure I address that."

Instinctively, I wanted to begin an arduous search for the perfect skin cream.  I quickly came to my senses after realizing that I was moments away from going down that same path of seeking salvation in topical products.  What if I focused my strategy on internal moisture? That way I'm addressing the root cause of the issues versus just treating a symptom.
It turns out that we have lots of options for keeping my skin looking moist, dewy and hydrated from the inside out.  Let's discuss.

First and foremost, the number one way to hydrate your insides is the most obvious.  Water.  We've gone on and on about drinking ample amounts of water on this blog.  I still keep bringing it up because even if you do an amazing job at drinking lots of water this week, and you fail to keep things up, you can still find yourself with dry skin.  Drinking lots of water should be a daily priority.   So if you haven't elevated your water drinking, don't read the rest of this post without first making a commitment to consume at least 2 liters a day. Maybe more.

 Now let's get to the internal "moisture" supplements.  A must have on the list is collagen. When I'm consistent in taking these supplements (as directed on an empty stomach),  my lips are plumper, my face looks fuller, everything changes.  As each year passes, our bodies loose a little bit of collagen.  The rate of loss declines more rapidly in our thirties.  So, at a certain point, taking a collagen powder is almost a must.

Next on the internal moisture list hyaluronic acid.  You see this ingredient in a lot of topical moisturizers.  Like collagen it occurs naturally in the body and declines over time.  When people get fillers for plumper skin, they're getting hyaluronic acid injected directly where it's needed most.  Sure, you could pay hundreds of dollars for fillers or you can get it the natural way and save yourself the money and build your levels from the inside out.

Since I already have both collagen and HA supplements,  I'm ready to focus on the next must have for creating internal moisture.  Recently I learned that we can also supplement our skin with  plant ceramides.  Also known as phytoceremides.  Basically, they promise to help replenish ceramide levels on the cellular level.  When our skin lacks in ceramide levels, the protective skin layer is compromised and it has an issue holding on to water.   We can drink lots of water to hydrate, but the key is holding on to the water to retain its healthy appearance.  I'm already plottin' on picking up a bottle from Amazon and adding it to my rotation.

Last but not least, we can promote supple glowing skin with regular intake of omega 3 oil. Taking a couple of Omega 3 pills each day just won't cut it. I suggest you try in liquid form or invest in fermented cod liver oil to get the most impact.  Back in the day, when I would suffer from dry, itchy skin, all I had to do was commit to taking my fish oil regularly and everything would be alright.

I'm not saying that one should never buy a jar of rich, creamy moisturizer but, why focus on the external treatments when you could be doing something that could create even greater, lasting results.  Once you've done the basics like drinking water, and taking your hydrating supplements, then you can buy an amazing moisturizer that only supports the work you've already done.

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's been a little while since I first shared my heartache after loosing my beloved Babyliss steam flat iron. As a person with an extensive flat iron collection, I thought they were all pretty much the same. But of all the options I've owned, the Babyliss stood out as exceptional. The steam function seemed to take my flat ironing process to a whole new level. So you can imagine my dismay when the iron no longer could produce it's amazing steam. I did what anyone else in my situation would do. I sought to replace my Babyliss as soon as I could. Since my exact iron was no longer in production, I tried my best to find a suitable alternative. Little did I know that I'd find an even better option. Redken jumped into the steam flat iron game and decided to go "all in" with a professional level product made for stylists. Luckily for us, this professional tool is available online.
I tried to hold out as long as I could but, honestly, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the Steam Infusion.  So far, I've tried it twice.  Since this tool requires a pretty decent investment, I'd like to share my honest opinion on what I love and what I don't like about the iron based on my first impressions.  

First, impressions are that this iron is built like a professional level product.  It's body is sleek and somewhat bulky at the same time.  I think the best term to describe the Steam Infusion would be sturdy.  Out of everything I love about this iron, thee one feature that makes it worth it's it weight in gold.  Is the water holding tank.  Unlike my Babyliss which had this tiny little reservoir that would require refilling every 15 minutes or so, this lovely iron has a standalone holding tank.  It's smaller than my hand but big enough to hold quite a bit of water.  And.....according to it's instructions, you don't have to use purified water.  YOU CAN POUR TAP WATER INTO THE RESERVOIR.  I have owned over 1dozen steaming tools in my lifetime.  This is the very first one that didn't require me to use purified water. For that I am grateful!  To be honest, I still used purified water out of pure habit

I also want to make a really big deal about what happened the last time I used it.  Flat ironing my hair can take me a multitude of hours to complete.  I'm parting my hair, detangling it, adding product, and so on.  With my old iron, I would be rudely interrupted by a steam less iron that required constant refilling.  This wonderful piece of machinery lasted several hours proving steam with each pass of the iron.  I almost cried with happiness.
Not having to use purified water is a huge selling point.  Not to mention how blown away I was to have the ability to iron my entire head with out running out of steam.  Seems like this iron could do no wrong.  Right? Well....there's one thing I wish was different.  If you take a look at the pic below, you'll notice a row of small circles along the edge of the iron.  This, I suspects is where the steam escapes.  To me, it seems like the steam should come out closer to the plate. That would be my preference.  But, in all honestly, this iron provides amazing results just the way it is.
The Redken Steam fusion straightened my hair easily with just one pass on lower heat settings.  I noticed that my hair didn't feel distressed by the heat.  Meaning it was soft and healthy looking when everything was all said and done.  Overall, I'm extremely happy with my purchase.  It's probably one of the best investments I've made in a while.  Yes, I'm sad that I lost my Babyliss but, if I were to have a choice, I would prefer to have the Steam Fusion (over the Babyliss) on my healthy hair team.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The internet is all a buzz ever since Brazilian Victoria's Secret model, Barbara Fialho detailed a secret technique to keep her split ends at bay.  The treatment, known in Brazil as velaterapia, is a method where the stylists takes a small section of hair, twists it to expose frayed ends, and run a candle through  it burning off the damaged hair.
As you would imagine, watching the technique in action is a bit terrifying.  I remember the days as a child when I would take a few strands of hair, out of boredom, and hold them up to lit candles whenever the power when out.  I have vivid memories of the distinct smell of burning hair and watching the strands shrivel up into nothing.  Let's just say I wasn't exactly on board with the idea.

Then I got to thinking....Today when we have split ends, our solution is to take  pair of scissors and cut them off.  The flaw in this technique is that the cortex of the hair is exposed leaving it susceptible to future damage.  Perhaps this is why we need to trim so frequently.  If the theory of singeing the hair to cauterize it holds true, then the hair is sealed at the ends preventing further damage from traveling up the hair shaft.

This method seems new but, upon further research, signing the hair has been around for ages.  They even practice the singeing method a barber shops.  Although the naysayers describe the technique as dangerous and ineffective, those who partake in the hair burning ritual have nothing but great things to say about how smooth and healthy the hair is following the treatment and how much easier it is to retain length.   In one testimony shared on a hair forum, a woman stated that she conducted this method on one side of her hair and the search and destroy method on the other.  In her words, she preferred her singed side compared to the other side of her head where she trimmed over split hairs one by one.  I'm still in the researching phase but  as of this moment, I haven't seen any examples of this technique done on textured hair natural or relaxed.  My fears are that relaxed hair would be weaker and react to the  flame differently than natural hair.  Not to mention if someone where to try this with oils on the hair making it even more flammable.

With all of that said, I'm still completely intrigued and would be willing to try it once I've seen others with textured hair do it successfully.  If it's true that the ends will not split once the hair is singed, then it may be worth it.  Maybe I'll try on a teeny tinny section and report back. 

What do you guys think?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

ShopBop Cobalt Romper

Why don't I have more cobalt pieces in my wardrobe?  It's like the most powerful shade of blue I've ever seen.  I love how well it works with black but I would love to experiment by pairing this color with beige/nude accessories.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Technically, the middle of year is July 2nd but perhaps now is a good time to regroup so we can think about how to refocus between now and 7/2/2014.  Six months ago, we began a fresh new year and, with it, created some wonderful intentions of what we wanted to bring into our lives.

So how are things going?  I can say that, for me, some of my goals have been going really well, and some have fallen flat.  At the start of the year, I watched a ton of motivational videos to set the tone for the year to come.  The one message that really resonated with me was the idea of leveraging the Compound Effect.  This is essentially the act of repeating positive actions over and over again for the purpose of reaping the multiplied benefits of being consistent.  It's like earning interest on your actions.

I committed to being consistent no matter what so I can leverage my actions to the utmost.  I chose this commitment because this is where I struggle the most.  If I had to grade myself in that area, I'd give myself a C+.  On the one hand, I struggled to do the most basic things each and every day like meditation, exercise, writing down goals, etc.  But, on the other hand, I've maintained the ability to keep moving forward on the bigger goals I set for myself.   This is quite exciting. But, at the same time, I realize that I'm missing out on a huge opportunity when I fail to do the fundamentals over and over again.  The fundamentals are the things I know I should be doing on a daily basis but I don't because there aren't any immediate consequences. This brings me back to the insight given to me during a coaching session a couple of years ago. The guy told me that I was motivated by pain (avoiding a negative outcome) versus pleasure (seeking an ideal outcome). Whenever a situation is uncomfortable or undesirable, I move quickly into action. But when things are going well, my intensity slows.

This yo-yo cycle is something I was ready to give up which is why I fell in love with the compound effect.  If utilized effectively,  I would be nurturing the part of me that moves towards pleasure (a desired outcome).  Essentially, I'd be doing something daily even if there is no perceived benefit for taking action at that moment.  That builds the kind of character that I want to possess.  Good news is that I can start anew beginning now.  I've decided to focus on visualization/mediation because that one simple action only requires a few minutes a day and, if done consistently, will elevate many other areas of my life & habits.

Instead of getting upset at the areas where I made no progress or even had setbacks, I will acknowledge the current outcome and simply take the steps to move in a new direction.  There's a lot of ground to cover between now and the end of the year and the results can be outstanding if I remain consistent.  I just have to practice the habit of honoring my word of visualizing and meditating each and every day.   I know that there will be days when I wake up and have absolutely no desire to do what I said I would.  On those days, I'll remember the definition of a commitment.  I said I would do it, but I never really was committed to it.  When someone is committed, they understand that it must take place no matter what.  This type of thinking is a total different mindset than I had at the beginning of the year.   I hope that 6 months from now I'll be expressing my joy over how I was able to maintain my commitment no matter what.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I'm feeling inspired by soft-pastel nails as of late. The contrast of lengthy nails paired with soft colors can not be ignored.  Adding a matte coat further mutes the color which only adds to the overall appeal.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

 Finally got my hands on MAC's Nymphette Lip Gloss.  For some reason, I thought this would be a "sacred gloss" used only on special occasions mainly due to the golden hue. Boy was I wrong.  After receiving a comment on my last post about applying it over their favorite lip color, I began experimenting.  That's when I realized that the subtle shimmer enhances pretty much any look I'm creating. Did you get your Nymphette yet?

You're probably wondering, "why do you have a million trial size tubes of Aveda Damage Remedy moisturizer?"  Glad you asked!  Well, for one, I still have a daily alarm on my Iphone that reminds me to moisturize in seal in the middle of the day.  It's great to have a little tube handy that fits in the palm of my hand and I can take with me anywhere.  Secondly, I travel a ton and I need a high moisturizing product to refresh my hair after jumping off a plane.  Third, I found a guy selling a pack of 10 so I bought three of them.  I keep a little tube and a 1 oz bottle of Gleau Argan Oil blend with me at all times. 
 I stocked up on my favorite clarifying shampoo of all time.  Thank God for online deals that offer free shipping with a minimum purchase.  Because of this, I picked up enough Neutrogena Anti Residue to last through the rest of 2014.  One less thing to worry about.   
Oh look what we have here.  It's the ultimate in steam flat irons.  I picked up this baby after my devastating loss suffered a few months back. Redken Steam Infusion has actually been a part of my family for a few weeks now but I haven't had the chance to properly use it yet.   Look out for a first impressions post in the next day or two.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Has it been a while since you intentional gave yourself a treatment exclusively for the purpose of purifying your skin?  If so, then don't let another minute go by without giving your skin a purification treatment.
Exfoliation works wonderfully to remove the dead skin cells that lay on the skin's surface. But what about the stuff that's just under the surface. I'm referring to the congestion that diminishes all your efforts of having flawless skin.  This past week, hubby ran his hand down the bridge of my nose and casually, mentioned that it was "bumpy."  I hadn't even noticed the clogging that was beginning to take place.

Immediately I went into action, pulling out all the heavy hitters.  First I placed my Clarisonic Pro on the charger.  Then I scoured my stash for the small white jar of Glam Glow purifying mud.  If I couldn't find it for whatever reason, my back up masks are Origin's Clear Improvement with charcoal and Fresh's Umbrian Clay bar.  Either way, I'm covered.  The difference in the smoothness of my skin before and after was like night and day.  When I revisited this ritual, I added the step of steaming prior to cleansing and using the mask and took it to the next level.
Panasonic Facial Steamer
Which brings to message of this post, our skin is purging itself 'round the clock. That's its duty and it does a fine job of it.  Our role is to remove the toxins and dead skin cells. That's why we use masks, scrubs, rotating brushes, etc.  The issue I have is remembering to be consistent. I don't realize what is happening until it's already too late.  By then, I've already experienced a break out or clogged pores.  Suddenly, I'm reacting to troubled skin instead of consistently creating a flawless face.

This message of consistently purifying the skin is even more critical now that we're in the warmer months.  You should have a ritual of purifying at least once a week.  Heck, you can even try a couple of times a week and see if your skin loves it.    We've got to put having clear, glowing skin as a priority because it's the first thing people see. Even if your hair is laid to the utmost, it does no good if your skin is troubled.  Smooth, clear skin should always remain a priority....pure and simple.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It's date night and your significant other is back home after a long...... uh, break. What do you do? You pull out all the stops.  And that's exactly what Chris Brown's girlfriend, Karreuche Tran did with her super stylish look.

I love the use of white in this styling. From nail color to that gorgeous jacket and white crop.  It's both simple and striking.  Adding a pop of color with her bright red clutch was a brilliant move.  Nothing like a pair of distressed jeans to bring a little edge to an otherwise structured outfit.  Finally, I adore how she played up her gorgeous skin by keeping her makeup neutral while highlighting her bronzy glow.

I will stop at nothing until I find the perfect white jacket. So far, I have my eye on this one from ASOS and this one from Love Culture.  The search will continue until I have the white blazer of my dreams.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lately my scalp has become a bit of a concern.  Normally, I think of my scalp during the cooler months but it's just as critical to care for the scalp now as it is during winter.  Simply put, I feel as if my scalp would benefit greatly from exfoliation.  I've gone on and on about exfoliation in previous posts. Heck even Chilli of TLC provided a gentle reminder when I ran into her last week.
There's Fresh Sugar polish that I adore for my face and I live & die by Tree Hut Shea body polish as an every day ritual. I'm pretty much exfoliating from head to toe.  That is......except for my scalp.  Scalp is skin too...right?  And, it's constantly bombarded with products oil and other stuff layered on throughout the week. Not to mention sweating from the warmer temps.  Our scalp deserves from refreshing.  I did a quick search online and learned that lots of ladies were getting good results from using a brown sugar scrub on their scalp on wash day.   

By simply adding some brown sugar to your favorite shampoo, conditioner, or even oil, you'll have a simple, effective method to cleanse your scalp.  
I also thought about how to take this process to the highest level possible by incorporating scalp healthy ingredients into the mix.  Perhaps, instead of olive oil, I opt for coconut which has anti fungal properties (great for dandruff) and will also nurture the hair.  A couple of drops of essential oil like eucalyptus or peppermint will provide an invigorating experience while increasing circulation and blood flow.

This, I think will work well during the pre-poo step, just before I get into the shower. I can gently massage/exfoliate my scalp as I allow the pre-shampoo product to condition my hair.  There's also the benefit of having a scalp free of excess dead skin, products, etc blocking the healthy growth of my hair. I can't wait to experience that clean scalp feeling again.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Saturday, June 7, 2014

I'd like to showcase a comment left on my recent post about adding Linange neutralizing conditioner (and possibly the relaxer) on my wish list.  Well,  I'd like to thank to the anonymous reader who shared this amazing feedback:

I switched stylists a year ago and my new stylist uses Lineage. It wasn't until this switch that I realized what my hair is supposed to feel like. I was previously relaxed with Mizani ButterBlends and thought that everyone has to accept a certain amount of dryness, etc. It wasn't until I went to the new stylist and could feel the difference between my newly relaxed hair with Lineage & the old hair, that I realized Mizani was giving me high porosity hair. Lineage is great, my hair holds moisture 10x better, likes waaaayyy more products (before my hair only liked 1 conditioner) and doesn't need protein every week. You should definitely check out their products.

Seriously I haven't heard any negative feedback about Linange.  Anon's feedback has pretty much sealed the deal for me.  I am officially trying out a new relaxer next touchup.  The last time I veered from Affirm was with Phytospecific relaxer.  Long story short, it didn't work out well for me.  I'm hoping this will be a much better experience and I look forward to it.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Seems like making it to the gym keeps getting harder and harder.  Because of this, I decided to  focus on building my collection of workout equipment.  Every so often, I'll stop by the fitness section at the store and see what I can add to my current line up.   
My last two purchases were a pair of ankle weights in 5 lb & 10 lb.  Instantly, my basic leg raises become super intense workouts.  I feel the burn all through my legs, thighs and glutes in half the time.  Seriously, the first time I worked out using ankle weights, I could feel my heart beat rise and my breathing intensify as if I were engaging in an aerobic workout.

I also do this thing where I velcro the ankle weights together to create a weighted belt.  Wearing this "belt" around my waist helps me pay attention to my core and allows me to burn more calories with each step.  They say that standing at the computer vs. sitting burns additional calories and is healthier overall.  You know that I like to take things to the next level so I wear my weighted belt while at my computer to maximize benefits. Sometimes, I knock out a few squats with while wearing my belt.  Makes the entire experience more intense.

Because wearing ankle weights for longer periods does involve additional pressure on the the body and joints, I place a yoga mat under my feet while at the computer to increase comfort.  I also break up the time I have on the weight belt so I'm not wearing for hours at a time.  Ankle weights, they cost so little and do so much.  I'm such a fan getting the most bang for my buck.  When I workout, I want to see results sooner than later.  Otherwise, I'm not motivated to keep going.  With ankle weights I know I'm getting the most from my exercises without having to buy heavy equipment.  Best decision I ever made.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Two hours before my flight, all I'm thinking about is how great it's gonna be when I get past airport security and finally get a chance to sit down. I scan the crowd in line and notice a woman wearing an olive green velour track suit.  It wasn't until I caught a glimpse of her profile that I realized that standing ahead of me was 1/3 of the greatest female R&B group of all time.

I quickly begin to maneuver through the line to get as close to her as possible.  Soon I found myself one person behind her.  I was beyond excited to be standing only a couple of feet from Chilli of TLC so I can examine her flawlessness with my own two eyes.   

Just by observation, I could tell that she is extremely friendly. She chatted it up with several TSA agents and took random pics with fans who recognized her.  That's when I knew it was ok to approach her and ask the important questions.  I needed to hear it from her mouth what she does to maintain her gorgeous skin.  Her skin can only be described at flawless.  It's a beautiful reddish brown tone with absolutely no sign of imperfection.  In fact, it appears as if her skin has never known a flaw in its 43 years of existence. 

Chilli was extremely approachable which made it easy to muster up the nerve to speak with her.  Immediately I complimented her and asked if she would share any tips that create her glow.  After thanking me for the compliment, Chilli stated that she uses (and endorses) a product line called Derm Exclusive. She made sure to mention that she did not use their fill and freeze wrinkle fighting product because, in her words, "praise God, I don't have any wrinkles!"  She even appeared in one of their informercials promoting the brand.  

As the line moved along, we had to cut our conversation short but before leaving Chilli reminded me that "it's all about exfoliation."  Quickly I asked if she was referring to chemical peels.  Her response that chemical peels were harsh on the skin so I assume she meant regular use of facial scrubs as a part of her routine.  Her message brought me back to the importance of regular exfoliation.  It helps with scarring, can improve acne, reduce wrinkles, and give the skin an overall glowing appearance.  

I've decided to go back to my previous routine where I exfoliated several times a week using my Fresh Sugar Face Polish (which is amazing by the way).  And recently brought my Riiviva microdermabrasion system back into rotation and have noticed an improvement of my overall skin tone and scarring.  Chilli's advice reminded me never to stop exfoliating even when we see improvements in our skin.  The habit should be lifelong so by the time we're in our forties, we too are thankful for a flawless face free of wrinkles.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ever been in a situation were you didn't know you needed something so badly until that thing came crashing into your life? It wasn't until a few days ago that I realized how integral a spray can of water would be to my well being.  Yeah, that's right. I said "my well being."  After learning of this amazing gift on Instagram, it became the first item on my want-list. Similar to how one would move a DVD to the top of their Netflix queue. Luckily I found a great deal featuring a full bottle and a travel size for under $10.00.  As I waited for my package to arrive, I thought about the many ways I would use my new babies.

captured from the Instagram Secrets post
The travel size Evian spray would immediately go in my handbag.  I envisioned myself sitting on the  plane and nonchalantly reaching into my bag and misting my skin with moisture.  The size of this thing is perfect.  Small enough to fit in pretty much any size purse.  One or two mists is all I need.

The moment my package arrived, I knew I made the right choice.  I have this weird affinity for ultra fine mists.  Evian facial spray provides a fine, subtle mist that spreads evenly over the face.  After using, my face feels hydrated, not wet, and it gives me this nice dewy look that I so much appreciate.  What  I really love about the spray is how it feels cool to the skin.  Whenever I get too hot, I mist.  Instantly, I feel cool and comfortable again.
I bought two pairs, but after using, I immediately decided to give a pair to my mom.  I thought of her hot flashes and how much relief she could get.  She's always working in the garden or doing something physical that has her breaking a sweat.  She keeps her Evian Spray in the fridge to keep it even cooler before using.  I love them so much that I decided to get three more sets.  Oh, did I mention that I've been using it to moisturize my hair?  If you recall the LCO moisturizing technique, it begins with you applying a liquid to your hair prior to adding a creamy moisturizer and finishing with a light nourishing oil.  Well, I have found my new liquid!  Evian works exceptionally well because the mist is distributes evenly and is so light!  Perfect for creating instant moisture.

Have I stressed enough how much I love my new facial misters?  Even if they didn't flawlessly moisturize my hair, I'd still think these are the best things since sliced bread.  You must have one (or three).


Monday, June 2, 2014

One of the draw backs of always wanting to reach a bigger, better goal is not having to opportunity to stop and acknowledge all that already is.  I'm always telling myself to focus on my intentions, keep my eyes fixated on my goals,  etc.  All the while, I pretty much forget that every single part of my reality is the result of past intentions that have been realized.

This is an important distinction for many reasons.  When I reflect on how much of the things/people/experiences I have in my life that were once desires, my thinking shifts.  It becomes difficult to remain with that feeling of lack I develop when I'm only focusing on what's missing in my life.  It's comforting to know that what I desire is happening just as easily as the other things I now enjoy that I once prayed for.  

"Feeling like you have it now!"
Focus on "the feeling of having it now" is a mantra often repeated in the world of personal development and law of attraction.  They say that feeling as if it's already yours is an invaluable aspect of the reality creation process.  It multiplies the intensity of belief causing one's actions to become much more focused and powerful.  If I already feel like it has happened, I can remove negative feelings like lack, resistence, disbelief.  All which work together to move me away from my intended outcome.  Suddenly, I'm filled with feelings of abundance, gratitude, belief.

"Do you really believe it?"
Speaking of belief.  I wish I can stress the importance of belief in achieving everything you want on your list of desires.  The feeling of believing that it is certain to happen can be tough.  Our emotions can easily flood our minds with the feelings of everything that can go horribly wrong.  I can vividly imagine worse case scenarios to the point of causing physical stress. But if I wanted to create a clear picture of my most ideal outcome, it's a struggle.  This is why the act of looking backwards at everything you have received and remembering how much you desired it, is so crucial.  You start to see that everything is possible.  This next thing you crave is no different than the last.  It's all the same.  

I clearly remember using two different types of techniques in attracting my dream car.  I wanted this car for over a decade.  At first it was a simple desire. The car was beautiful and I would have liked to have one sometime in the future.  Then, years later I began to put it on my vision boards and tell others that I would have one.  The moment of truth came when, as I was staring a stranger down who was driving my dream car, I realized that he probably didn't have pictures of the car hanging all over his bedroom.  He simply wanted it, knew he would have it, then took the steps to get it.  Everything changed for me that day.  I decided to set aside an account for that purpose, I test drove, I searched online then it happened.  This, to me, is the epitome of acting in true belief.  Our actions change dramatically when we "know" something will happen versus when we "want" something to happen.
Focusing on what we've already achieved is a powerful way to build belief levels from "wanting" to "knowing."  The goal is to get to knowing as quickly as possible and to stay there as long as possible. Once you reside in the place of knowing, it becomes easy to shift from feeling of lack to a place of expectation.  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

I've heard stories from beauties like Iman and Beverly Johnson about the rituals they've maintained since childhood that have kept them glowing and flawless all of these years.  Then I reflect back and realize that, aside from my water intake, I have no real consistent routines.  After asking myself, "what would my future self in 10 years wish I did today?" I came to the conclusion that I could take my simple act of drinking water first thing in the morning, to the next level.

Drinking water in the AM works to cleanse our systems, eliminate toxins and rehydrates.  Then we learned how adding a little lemon to the water helps alkalize our pH balance, provides nutrition and further helps improve digestion.  Lemon water in the morning is a pretty amazing ritual on its own but, of course there's always a way to make everything better.

I had this thought of adding collagen powder to warm lemon water each morning.  Hopefully the fine powder would easily dissolve into the warm water.  In prior months, I consistently swallowed 3 fairly large collagen capsules each day.  The powder would be a more powerful solution. My bloodstream would immediately have access to the collagen not to mention how well the collagen pairs with the vitamin C from the lemon.

"C" is for collagen.  I'll never forget those words. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient needed for the  proper building of collagen. Some supplements add vitamin C to its ingredient list. NeoCell powdered collagen suggests you blend it with orange juice but I prefer lemon water as a sugar free alternative.  The powder dissolves seamlessly into the warm water leaving behind no taste.  The ritual is perfect. Best of all, it's easy enough to do daily.  I know that future me approves.

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