Natural Hair Musings…..I’ve Been Damned!!!!!!

4_2048x2048My natural hair journey has been long but satisfying. I love trying new things but I stay away from any and everything lye-based. It has been 5+ years that started in Afghanistan. I spent a year working in Kabul, Afghanistan and the work was very meaningful but my hair suffered greatly. The water was hard and my lightened strands to a serious beating. So, I did what I always do and turned to the Internet and researched a solution. I came across and advert for The Damn Salon and instantly knew that I found my solution. I booked an appointment with the salon’s touring team that comes to Washington D.C every three months for a marathon hair session and found my happy place. The styles that I wore were wild and free and represented my personality perfectly. The styles that I wore were wild and free and represented my personality perfectly.

images

I met the salon’s creator, Mushiya Tshikuka and we bonded instantly over the natural hair movement. I gave my hair health to Mushiya and The Damn Salon for two years and was rewarded with hair that was free of chemicals and growing like a weed. …..And that was 5 years ago and our friendship is as strong as ever! I have never met a woman that cares as much about women’s emotional health and how it is tied to our confidence. She wants every woman to look and feel good.  Mushiya went on to become a featured cast member of ‘Cutting it in the ATL’, a reality show that followed the business practices and lives of a few elite Black hair salon owners in Atlanta, Ga.

Mushiya has given me looks that give me life! Here are a few of my favorites!

 

So that is the ‘Damn’ back story! LOL! Mushiya has unleashed my inner hair diva and I haven’t looked back. When I have been Damn’d my confidence is through the roof. I am a bit shy normally but I do not have confidence issues. But, I get an extra boost when I leave the loving, creative atmosphere that The Damn Salon brings to every city they visit. We talk, laugh and boost each other up. Mushiya is an accomplished chef and we eat well….I am guilty of bringing the wine on a few occasions. We share success stories, wishes and fears. I even learned a few Congolese dance moves that I am going to bust out one day when I want to dance like no one is watching….I was with these ladies when I received news that I was accepted to grad school with a scholarship so it was with joy that I returned with the news that I’d graduated with my Master’s degree in Emerging Media Studies from Loyola University Maryland. We laugh, we cry and we love!

10896975_10203749518327194_2340382043310069446_n (1)

 

Along with the love and sisterhood come the products….YASSSSSSSSS! I left with a shiny pink bag chock full of products that Mushiya has developed for natural hair and the people that love STUFF! b04677_ae699ec6b5188070e2edd4f28fa399d4When I came home from Afghanistan with damaged, bleached hair with balding spots that were down to the scalp in places I couldn’t see. It was these products that brought my hair back to its natural state. I massaged the shea butter-based hair butter into my thirsty scalp once a week and in a few short months my hair grew back in the balding spots. A few months after that I had a headful of healthy hair to deal with.

It has been a week since I got my hair done and I am still enamored with the Urban Twists that Mushiya chose for me along with the honey and platinum color that she knew would compliment my skin.

Damn! I am summer ready and off to my next adventure…stay tuned!

Advertisements

Camera Musings….Fuji Instax Mini!

OriginalPhoto-518069418.627040I have written many blogs on my love of photography and I am always on the hunt to add a new twist to my craft. So here it is I am done with grad school with a freshly minted Emerging Media Master’s from @LoyolaMaryland and a lot of time on my hands. I was gifted a powder blue Fuji Instax mini 8 camera and a load of film….so off I go to capture art and life as I see it.

The Fujifilm Instax mini 8 is a basic point and shoot camera that takes instant photos and develops them like an old school Polaroid camera. The analogue camera looks like a toy and and is guaranteed to have serious hipster appeal.

The Instax mini 8 looks like a big kids toy from its matte plastic finish, chunky lens and big buttons. It’s not exactly pocket-friendly, but it’s light enough to throw into a bag without trouble. The buttons and features are basic. Up front is a button to extend the collapsible lens and turn on the camera. Around the lens is the brightness adjustment dial you can twist to choose the different exposure levels. On the hand grip is the camera trigger with the viewfinder above and the always on flash just beside it. Around the back is where you’ll find compartments for film and the battery on the hand grip. Yes it takes batteries, two AA ones to be precise. This is an analogue camera in every way.

Bottom line….it is a lot of fun! The photos have vibrant color with a vintage feel. I can’t wait to take this camera on my weekend walkabout. The film is not cheap but this is my hobby and it is all about keeping me busy before I get bored enough to jump into a doctoral program. I was able to find black and white Instax film at my local Target and will update this post with pics of those pics tomorrow.

Be and individual! Don’t Follow the Crowd! Take it back to the days before technology ruled us. Most Importantly…..Have Fun!

 

 

Kinky Hair Musings…..Summer Hair Revamp!

Most women have to adjust their hair products when the seasons change. I am no different! When the temperature rises I want to feel free. I let go of all things heavy. My morning beauty routine gets shorter and products get lighter. Natural curls and minimal makeup become the norm. I tackled summer make up early on and @MilkMakeup images-2quickly became my go-to. Milk Makeup allows my natural skin to shine through and takes minutes to apply with your fingers. Tap tap tap and off you go in all of your natural glory! Next…the hair! I wear my natural kinky, curls in the summer and it takes as much work as my winter hair. After a much needed haircut I knew I was in for a hair adventure. I had to find summer hair products that would allow me to co-wash, define my thirsty curls, springy coils and stubbornly unidentifiable nape all before I run out the door for work.

The first leg of my journey to me on trip back to the products I used when I first went natural over four years ago. The combinations just weren’t right and I was stuck with heavy, clumpy hair full of white hair product. I tried all of my old go-to products and none of them gave me the look I wanted. So, off to the blogs I went, I had to figure out what products would and the amounts I needed to use. Kinky Curly is a great product and can make a comeback as my runner up product. 81osU7w-iGL._SX522_Light gels and the leave-in conditioner gave my hair slip and made the detangling process easy. Nice product but I needed a product that would elongate and the curls in the crown and front of my hair….(different textures…who knew!) I also wanted a fresh, clean scent……then the lightbulb went off in my product addled brain.! Miss Jessie’s!

 

My Amazon order arrived today and off I went to do a test run. I am very satisfied and hope my hair is as happy as I am! First, I applied Super Sweetback Treatment deep, daily conditioning treatment that made my hair softer almost instantly….so far so good. Next, I applied a quarter-sized dollop of the Baby Buttercreme moisturizing leave-in creme to seal in the moisture. Finally, I styled my hair with Curly Meringue curling custard 51bGwgaFJTL._AC_UL246_SR190,246_using the shingling method check out the Curly Nikki website if you need to know more about different styling techniques for natural hair. After a few minutes of gently raking my fingers through my strands I was done. The final step was to give my hair a few good shakes to make sure my curls were defined. I gave my hair a few minutes to settle and went back for a closer look. Meh, my nape and sides are not taking to any of the normal products and will only be tamed by Eco-styler gel so I applied it to my shorter nape and sides. Eco Styler gel works without fail and will hold my hair in place with no problems.

These products work for all types of curly hair so give your hair a summer makeover!

 

 

Summer Wine Festival Musings…

https-cdn.evbuc.comimages28682777230014489061original

Hey WEEKENDERS!!!! It is finally SUMMER…keep an eye on the weather but we have finally reached the unofficial start of summer and now the Memorial Day has passed it it time to jump right into you summer plans! Looking for something to do in the Maryland/ DC/Virginia area in mid-June I recommend a wine fest! I can’t say enough about my local wine fest. Food, Fun, and Music…all on the beautiful Baltimore waterfront. The 3rd Annual Baltimore Wine Fest is simply the best. Experience 160+ wines from around the world, gourmet eats provided by local eateries, live music, chef cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, craft beers & spirits, unique shopping and a family friendly atmosphere. Gather up your girlfriends, besties and bring the kids!

An event like this is a photographers dream! Everyone is happy, friendly and ready to pose for you. I take my Holga and a few rolls of film and let the light lead me. The festival fashions are phenomenal and the smiles are plentiful. The first year we had a few rain showers but it didn’t stop the party. I danced barefoot in the grass to fabulous reggae and zydeco-inspired music. It was my personal Coachella….the best part I walked home. So come out and say Hi! Tickets are available in the link above. Hope to se you there….share your photos.

Camera Musings….Me and My Holga!

images-3I am at heart a photographer! I love the feel of a camera in my hand and I carry one everywhere I go. I was trained as an Army videographer and was told that I am a good one. I chalk that up to great Army training, a steady hand and breath control are the result of my years in uniform behind a camera capturing things that go BOOM! I wouldn’t trade it for the world but my heart is in photography. I use my iPhone 6s Plus and my Hipstamatic app for spontaneous, in-the-moment shots and friend shots that end up on Facebook and Instagram. When I want to capture dreamy, artistic shots I pull out the Holga.

images-1After its launch in the early 1980s, Holga cameras became a popular option for people like me that want to shoot medium format 120 film on the cheap. The Holga was manufactured in in China and was marketed as the working-man’s camera that was expensive and available to everyone. Alas, camera production was shut down in late 2015, but the Holga is making a comeback! Lomography color negative film paired with the Holga produces photos that are lightly colored with light leaks and blurry edges that are artistic and full of life. My interest in Holga’s started a few years ago and I was able to purchase my Holga’s…yes I have a few and plan to get more…from Amazon and with it’s Prime delivery option I can have a new one in my hand in a day or two. I love the fun colors and the toy camera feel.

Photos don’t have to be perfect and if I can get one beautifully, imperfect photo out of a roll of film I am happy. Find beauty in the simple things! images-2The summer season and all its adventures and activities will guide you just follow your eye.

Happy Holga Days and I want to see some of your pics.

Commencement Days!

imgresIt is that time of year again! Newly minted graduates escape the bonds of high schools, colleges and universities! This year, actually yesterday, I was apart of the festivities. One of Loyola University Maryland’s newest Emerging Media graduates. The feeling is indescribable and sharing this time with family and friends is incredible. All of the hard work is behind me and the excitement of new beginnings is palpable. I hope that one day everyone can feel the happiness that I felt when I walked across that stage to shake the president’s hand. The Emerging Media Studies program conferred 14 graduates from all walks of life and I felt honored to share this time with them. The department hashtag #WeRreal describes us perfectly. We are real and we are ready to go forth and do great things.

18664665_10209850681052449_5332320801170055008_n.jpg

Thank you Loyola University Maryland for the opportunity to learn the Jesuit way. I will make you proud!18557481_10209850680932446_7927485159741492002_n.jpg

What’s In Your Summer Make Up Bag? ….My Favorite Things Spring Travel Edition

imagesIt is that time of year when I put away my heavy, dark, over-defined statement makeup and fill my handbag with light, pretty basic products that let my skin shine through. I prefer makeup that take 2-3 minutes to apply often without a mirror. I don’t want to be a slave to the mirror, the heat or anyone’s expectations. I also keep a beautiful notebook sure to inspire and feed my creative flowI wanted to share a few of these products with you and would love to see what’s in your bag!

The Travel Make Up Bag!

SKIN CARE FIRST!

I am still on a @MilkMakeUp kick so bear with me. I hate traveling with my favorite full size skin care items….the anxiety going through security is too much to bear. Ziploc bags with all of your carefully cultivated products undergo scrutiny from agents who could care less that you can’t live without the base of your entire look. So to reduce my stress I rely on full-sized options and travel products from Milk MakeUp….perfectly sized and the solids are TSA-approved!  Fabulous face, dewy and fresh, perfect for every occasion that you may come across.

Matcha-Cleanser-cap-655x1024I love TEA and drink it everyday so Milk Makeup’s All – New Matcha tea skin cleanser and toner are perfect for your summer makeup bag. These products keep your skin cleansed, toned and protected; they also keep you from carrying your entire collection on your travels. My favorite new Milk Makeup products come in solid form so TSA can keep their hands off and you can stay beautiful throughout your adventure.

milk-makeup-sticks

The best feature of the Milk Makeup travel kit is that they come in their own adorable travel bag so I can just grab and go! The Milk Make Up travel kit comes equipped with the hangover-killer Cooling Water.  A soothing seawater and firming caffeine stick that helps soothe puffy travel and margarita salt swollen eyes. I apply this product each night and morning. Milk’s Hydrating Oil Stick is goes on next. This hydrating oil vitalizes my skin and help me maintain a healthy glow. Just a dab where you need it and smooth into your face….no need to pile it on. I follow up with the Blur Stick an oil-free primer in a universal neutral shade to blur the look of imperfections. Perfect for vacations when you want your skin to shine through. Let your skin bloom like the flowers that you see everyday! A minimal layer of Ubame mascara, a touch of highlighter, brow gel, rosy blush and lip balm  and you are ready for your next adventure!

Turn that fresh face look into Super Glam with Lashes from ZivaLash! Make your eyes pop and draws every eye in the room! My choice is the Zivalash Kari Ruby Lash!

These silk lashes are lengthy with a wispy flair at the end.  You will get in trouble when you wear these pretties out and about. Now get out there and be glamorous!

 

Travel Light…Travel Easy and Most of All!  Don’t be Afraid To Let Your Line Shine!

 

Pack Like A Pro!….Guide to Summer Essentials!

landscape-1448059962-packing-clothes

 

It is time for fun in the sun! Leave your over – coordinated city slicker duds at home. Lighten your load and your spirit by developing a capsule travel wardrobe with one or two signature pieces that can be adjusted to hang with your travel adventures! Here’s how you do it:

Make a List!

I call my list Summer Adventure 2017 and I start to organize from there. It looks like this….

Mexico Adventure

Clothing

  • Lightweight Maxi Dress – Use as a cover up for easy meals or movement around the resort
  • Cotton Tunic – Cover up and doubles as a travel outfit over leggings
  • Ribbed tanks and v-neck tees – love these for travel. Pair with shorts leggings capris or your favorite jeggings for nights out!
  • Thin Cardigan or Kimonos – for those cooler evenings or early morning hang out around the pool.
  • Lightweight Jacket – Don’t want to catch a cold hanging around airports! I will be wearing my Stitchfix military-inspired jacket that pairs with everything on this list.
  • Long Maxi Skirt – I found a great North Face maxi skirt that looks tres adorbs with my ribbed tank and Havaianas! I pick up a few new pairs at the start of the summer! As much as I love them I know flip flops take a beating
  • A Blanket Scarf – they were all the rage last winter so make sure you use yours to ward off airport chills, germs and general closeness of people that you don’t know. I spritz mine with lavender spray for serenity and calm. People are going nutso in airport these days and I want to remain serene and unflappable.
  • Linen Pants – any color will do. Pair them with V-neck tees and statement jewelry and your prettiest flip flops!
  • A pair or two of shorts – you never know!

And that is your Summer Adventure go-to wardrobe! All links provided….affordable and Prime eligible in most cases! I can’t wait to update my summer wardrobe at these prices!

On to Accessories….

  • Always pack a journal! You want to remember these moments! There are always quiet moments….take time to jot down your thoughts!
  • Beach bag – Everyone needs a chic carryall for their stuff!
  • Bathing Suits – I buy them in separates throughout the year to catch them at the very best prices!
  • Sarong – You don’t want to show the resort all of your goodies!
  • Cute clutch – for your lippy, I.D. and Benefit Dr. Feelgood, my complexion go-to! Don’t want to appear greasy do we?
  • Summer Hat – protect your face from the summer uv rays.
  • Cute Summer Sandals – Pack a pretty bejeweled pair to go with your dresses and sandals.
  • Sunglasses – I go full -on DIVA in my Coach sunglasses…there’s no use letting anyone see your full on party/relaxation mode!

So you want to know the secret to packing all of the gear in an airline approved carry-on bag! No worries I have the answer! Look and travel like a pro with your E-Bags packing cubes they are the answer to packing your adventure in your carry-on!

 

Stay tuned for Travel Make-Up Essentials! 

Happy Trails!

Life Musings…Journal Your Way Through Spring!

5161ir3vb9L._AC_US218_Spring is a time of rebirth! Flowers are blooming, the weather is cooperating and we have shed the heavy layers. Spring is a time to celebrate yourself! Beauty trends and the latest fashions are amazing ways to express your self but at its core beauty starts within. Take the time to preserve your inner light. I take the time to celebrate my thoughts and the things that make me happy through travel, photography and writing. Cultivate your inner beauty along with your physical representation and you will shine this season. When you smile and laugh your inner peace resonates and everyone around you reaps the benefits. I have kept a journal or diary since I was a young girl, capturing my thought and feelings while documenting people and places that brought me joy. Many of my blog posts start out in longhand and transfer to my site once I have settled in for the night.

Journaling is relaxing and allows me to relieve stress. So in honor of the Spring/Summer season I indulged in new journals for work and me time! My favorite Moleskine journals now come in bright vibrant colors like teal, red and fuschia, colors that are guaranteed to bring out the writer in you. Moleskine journals have a long, distinguished history. 41q4yofsxvL._AC_US218_The Moleskine notebook is, in fact, the heir and successor to the legendary notebook used by artists and thinkers over the past two centuries: among them Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Bruce Chatwin.

In the mid-1980s, these notebooks became scarce, and soon vanished entirely. In 1997, a small Milanese publisher brought the legendary notebook back to life, and selected this name with a literary pedigree to revive an extraordinary tradition. Following in Chatwin’s footsteps, Moleskine notebooks have resumed their travels, providing an indispensable counterpart to the new and portable technology of today. Capturing reality in movement, glimpsing and recording details, inscribing the unique nature of experience on paper: the Moleskine notebook becomes a battery that stores ideas and feelings,

51WyzpF2MfL._AC_UL160_SR160,160_A chance trip to a Crate and Barrel store gave me a new favorite and I balance my love for journals between the two styles. The French-inspired Mon Carnet de Poche has become a favorite in my day bag along with my Moleskine. I am an inpatient shopper and very grateful that Amazon carries both styles and I can get them overnight or close to it through my Prime account. I like to use one for my fashion and blog notes and the other for tedious meetings. I mean really…who wants to sit in a meeting and not make a must-have now list!

41VijXHebJL._AC_US218_Last but not least is my One Line a Day memory book. My memories cannot be contained in one line so I try to document the one thing or significant memory that has affected me emotionally. Good or bad and with little censorship. I celebrate life’s challenges through these memories. You never know how far you’ve come unless you acknowledge the good times and bad. So, I hope you can find joy and peace in the reflection of life.

Happy Journaling!

51LJ0dU7uXL._AC_US218_51A+8PBcmxL._AC_US218_51W7DWN7jnL._AC_US218_

Get Creative! All Journals Available At Amazon.com

Summer Musings: Drink Water S’Well!

31pbDuzjSlL._AC_US218_I love to talk about natural beauty and health but I truly believe that beauty starts from the inside out. You can buy the best make up and beauty products but nothing can replace WATER! I can’t stress hydration enough! Flipping through an old copy of Instyle magazine while waiting for my yearly dental cleaning made me think about how much water I drink and how it effects my beauty routine. Drinking enough water each and every day can be the answer to your biggest beauty problems (we’re talking dull skin, brittle nails, and even thinning hair. Here are a few reasons to drink for beauty and health.

Water Makes Your Skin Glow
41zylMI+JyL._AC_US218_Water helps your body flush out toxins more efficiently, leaving your skin looking fresh and more radiant as a result. Drink an 8oz glass in the morning before brushing to get kickstart your liver and kidneys from a long night of sleep. I also keep a bottle on my nightstand to give my body a chance to rejuvenate during the night.

It Makes Nails Stronger
Brittle nails that constantly break and peel can be a sign of dehydration. By sipping on more water on a daily basis, you’ll promote nail growth and prevent dry, flaky cuticles.

It Fights Aging

A gallon a day won’t magically erase fine lines and wrinkles. But by staying hydrated, you can maintain your skin’s natural elasticity and suppleness. Water consumption combined with a dedicated beauty routine can keep those lines and wrinkles at bay.

It Clears Acne
Another beautiful part about washing away toxins is that it can prevent acne flare ups and other common skin issues. Try squeezing a fresh lemon or a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar into a cup of hot water and drinking it first thing in the morning.

If it is hard for you to drink the recommended amount every day try different methods. I have carried the infusion water bottle and experimented with different combinations of fruit and herbs. Pinterest has hundreds of pages devoted to fruit and herb infused water.

Here are a few ideas to motivate you to drink water

The S’ip by S’well bottle is a perfect compliment to a hot summer day.

  • Keeps your drinks cold for 24 hours, hot for 12
  • Double-walled to eliminate condensation so bottle won’t sweat on your hands or in your bag
  • Food-grade, 18/8 stainless steel is BPA free and sensibly tested for healthy hydration
  • Vacuum insulated to keep liquids and carbonated beverages fresh
  • Holds 15 oz of your favorite beverage

Amazon has a large selection of fruit infuser water bottles in a variety of colors because we all want our accessories to rock!

Make water a part of your daily routine and the benefits will shock you.