Friday, December 31, 2010

Meditation on Peace

Change yourself and you have done your part in changing the world. Every individual must change his own life if he wants to live in a peaceful world. The world cannot become peaceful unless and until you yourself begin to work toward peace. It is only by removing hate from our hearts that we can live a Christlike life.

-- Paramahansa Yogananda

Saturday, December 25, 2010

'Twas The Night of the Dear Saviour's Birth

It's been a wonderful Christmas and we are still celebrating this joyous time of renewed hope in peace, kindness and love. We had a lovely time on Christmas Eve with our merging families. The streets were lined in luminaries which made the evening magical. My mom and I snuck out for a few minutes to walk along the luminated path and reminisce about Christmases past. We laughed and sighed as we remembered how our aunt, Milagros, would call first thing Christmas morning to make sure we were up because she was on her way to drop off Santa's gifts. She did this without fail, year and year, whether it was snowing, raining, or 20 below zero. It was a joy to her and now that we are further apart, she says she misses those Christmas mornings also. The joy in my aunt's voice when she would call to say Merry Christmas and her anticipation to come by and see us unwrap her gifts was part of what made Christmas day magical for many years. Oh, and the gifts were great too.

Christmas is not about the actual gifts that we give and receive, but about the meaning behind them - celebrating the birth of Jesus and sharing that joy with those you love and care for. Wanting to bring some cheer in a person's life. As a child, it's a time to be and feel magical. Children are magical. It is absolutely joyous to see children so excited to get to bed; worried about how "good" or "bad" they've been throughout the year; waking up extra early in the morning; singing, screaming, dancing and making a mess of wrapping paper all around the tree. It warms my heart knowing that I'm not just giving my daughter presents, but loving happy memories as well. And in return, each day that my princess is happy and secure, is truly a gift to me. Her magical moments will forever be in my heart.

"A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices..."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Més Armoire: Sweaters & Scarves

I was having tea in the back deck when I looked down and thought how much I like the color and texture combo of my outfit that day. So, I thought I'd take a picture. A knit sweater in vanilla, a beautifully hand-stained long scarf, soft blue denim and preppy brown loafers with a medium heel.

♥☺ Carmen

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Am I a Shopaholic??? Say it Ain't So!

A couple of weeks ago, I was struck with the thought of getting a new top for a holiday party I was invited to. For some unknown reason I convinced myself that I could not think of anything in my closet that would work for this event and that I needed a new top.

I went to TJ Maxx and let me tell you that what happened next was so unexpected. Well, it wasn't that unexpected, but I was astonished nonetheless.

I was walking towards the Tops section when I spotted a beautiful gray skirt. All of a sudden I thought of a few tops in my closet that would pair nicely with this skirt. But I thought, "Wait. If I'm going to get a skirt, I might as well check out the dresses to see if I find something that I could just throw on." So off I went to the Dresses section and I picked out four dresses that could work. Then I noticed a white sleeveless shirt-dress that would just look glorious on me - a perfect summer dress. I had to get that too. How often will I come across a dress like this? And in my size. It's meant to be. Well, so far I have one skirt and five dresses on my arm and I haven't even looked at the tops yet. Did I mention, that was my original intent. I should at least go have a look. Who knows, I may find the must-have top that will trump all the other stuff I've collected thus far (with exception of the perfect white sleeveless shirt-dress, of course).

I finally made it to the Tops section and after much deliberation found three tops that I couldn't decide on. None of them screamed out to me, but I liked them. "Hmmm. This black top would go nicely with the skirt". Do you see what I'm doing here? I'm trying to rationalize buying two pieces instead of one. I continued, "But, any of these tops would be lovely with a pair of sleek black slacks and, again, that was the original intent. On the other hand, I already have so many tops and I do want to build up my dress inventory. So I should go with a dress? Do I really need ANY of these items? No, but a little something won't hurt. Wait, it's the little something plus the summer dress"! Okay, time for elimination. I went through the dresses first and dwindled that bunch down to one dress. Then I went through the tops and selected one top that could work with the skirt or with something I have at home. Now I was down to one skirt, one dress and one top (still not counting the summer dress).

I started to do the math. There I was trying to rationalize getting all three (four) items. "There will be other events. I'll replace other pieces in my wardrobe. I hardly ever get anything for myself anymore." Here I was shopping for clothes that I want (but absolutely don't need); buying more than I had intended to buy, and I hadn't even finished getting the kids their Christmas gifts.

The butterflies in my stomache started to flutter, my breathing became uneasy, and anxiety kicked in. "Am I a shopaholic? Is this me rebelling against my oppressive budget? I deserve to get something, don't I? Yes, you deserve to get some sense. Tight budget. Minimalism. Practice what you preach. Freedom from debt. Christmas. Any of those ring a bell?"

The first thing I did was walk back to the Dresses section and put the summer dress back on the rack. Yes, the much adored white, sleeveless shirt dress. That one still hurts a little, by the way. Then, I put the skirt back. So now I was down to one top and one dress. After way too much deliberation, I put the other dress back. I thought, okay I have a top - my original purpose, right? As I headed to the line, still feeling uneasy, I turned my head and saw the Kids section. Thirty minutes ago, I was about to spend about 130 bucks on clothes for myself. I pulled out my handy dandy Christmas list and went to the Girls section. I put together an awesome outfit including a blue & white flowery, poofy ruffled skirt, a blue & white striped top and a yellow clutch purse. Now that felt better. On my way to the line, I put back the top I was going to get for myself and the butterflies in my stomache flew away. I felt lighter.

I was so excited to get home and wrap up the gift. Then I went to my closet and sure enough, I put together a great outfit. A plum short-sleeve silk shirt with little black jeweled buttons. A high-waist black pencil skirt, black leather knee-high boots and a short-waisted rose tweed jacket in case I get cold.

Whew! That was scary. I went through such a range of emotions, but in the end I was proud of myself for overcoming my shopping impulse and putting it all back. Although, I do still think about that white dress...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eat Drink Steam

There is No Life Without Water

Rain, rain
Down on me
Douse this desert
Wash away impurities
Reveal its grace
Its lush flora

On average, the human body is made up of 67% water
Brain is 90% water ~ Blood is 83% water ~ Muscle is 75% water ~ Bone is 22% water

Water's Function in the Human Body
Transport nutrients and oxygen to cells
Keep the air in our lungs moisturized
Encourage metabolism
Protect our vital organs
Facilitate the absorption of nutrients in the organs
Regulate body temperature
Detoxify our systems
Lubricate our joints

Harmful Effects of Dehydration
Fatigue ~ Migraines ~ Constipation ~ Muscle cramps ~ Irregular blood pressure ~ Kidney problems ~ Dry skin ~ Premature aging ~ Risk of death

How to Tell if You're Dehydrated
Is your urine dark yellow or orange in color? Does is give off a strong smell?
Urine is generally pale yellow to clear and is virtually odorless when you have sufficient water intake.

Is your skin dry, itchy, flaky or scaly?
The skin is the largest body organ and requires its share of water to remain supple, clear, glowing and to retain elasticity.

Feeling thirsty?
You may not drink fluids because you do not feel thirsty, but by the time you feel thirsty you're already experiencing dehydration. It is always good practice to drink more water when your are not thirsty. Thirst kicks in when you are approximately 1 percent dehydrated. Dehydration makes blood more concentrated, causing sensors in the brain to signal the body to drink more. As we drink, our blood becomes more diluted and these signals subside. So, although initially thirst doesn't equal severe dehydration, it does mean that it's time to replenish your body.

Feeling hungry?
Sometimes we can mistake hunger as an indication to eat more, when in fact, you may be dehydrated. So always have a glass of water prior to consuming your meal. Drinking a full glass of water prior to your meal also suppresses your appetite - if you are looking to lose a few pounds.

Feeling tired, moody or on edge?
Water is a source of energy and equilibrium.

Drink Your Fluids
In the morning.
Before doing anything else, drinking one to two glasses of water just after you wake up can help stimulate peristalsis, lower blood concentration and boost blood circulation. Apparently, all that work that your organs are doing throughout the night to repair and detoxify uses up a lot of water, so you must replenish in the morning.

Before a meal.
Drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal gets your digestive system to better absorb nutrients.

In the afternoon.
You know how the body's natural clock feels drowsy between 2:00 -3:00 o'clock in the afternoon? The best solution would be a 20 minute power nap to reboot the system, but that isn't feasible for all of us. Drink 2 cups of water to refresh the body and the mind.

One hour before sleep.
The body consumes water while we are asleep, making us feel thirsty and dehydrated in the morning. Drinking some water an hour before bedtime will aid in replenishing water loss during the night.

Eat Your Fluids
Eating moisture rich hydrating foods is yet another way to keep your hydration level up. Water-rich foods can be a rich supply of fluid. On average, food provides 20% of the fluid we need -- and far more if you choose water-rich fare.

Vegetables consist of 88-95% water:
Lettuce varieties, Celery, zucchini, kale, asparagus, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, bok choy, bell peppers, cabbage, spinach, carrots

Fruits consist of 83-91% water:
Melons, berries, citrus fruits, mangoes, apples, peaches

Steaming is great for the skin. Heat a large pot water and steam with a towel over your head and steam for 15 minutes a day. Add a drop or two of lavender and eucalyptus oils (3 drops in a pot of water) or just steam with plain water.

In addition, steaming is a gentle way to cook and preserve the water in your vegetables.

“Water is life's mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.”
~ Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Farewell to Fall

It's officially the first day of winter, so I thought I'd bid farewell to autumn, my favorite season. Autumn brings up so many nostalgic sentiments for me. From the warm vibrant colors of the changing leaves. Fallen leaves bejeweling our paths with rubies, gold, amber, amethyst and emeralds...

To the crunch of dry leaves under my feet...

To breathing in the cool and crisp air; so invigorating after a hot and humid lazy summer...

And of course the hats, scarves, jackets, knits and boots...

Fall takes me back to the smell of new school supplies, my grandma's habichuelas con dulce (a sweet bean dessert), my mom's sancocho (a Dominican stew) and lots of reading under a throw with a bowl of apples by my side.

♥☺ Carmen

Sunday, December 19, 2010

This Skin of Mine

My Dream Skin

"Nothing can be beautiful which is not true." — John Ruskin

Currently, I'm paying extra attention to my skin because this dry air is really doing a number on me and my skin is screaming out for help. My hands are loofah mitts and now I'm dealing with the horror of breakouts. Ugh! So I'm assessing my skin, revisiting my products, and reconfiguring my skin care regimen.

I've always known that I have dry skin, but what I did not realize or accept up until this week is that I also have sensitive skin. I should have known...

When I was about seven years old, I dabbed on a tiny bit of my mother's Ponds cream. The next morning I woke up to my father sitting beside me on my bed with tears running down his face. I asked him what was wrong and all he could say is "My beautiful daughter. My beautiful girl." He handed me a mirror and I looked back at what appeared to be a 90 year old version of me. My face was puffy, full of lines and tiny bumps. My mother was on the phone making an appointment with my doctor.

When we arrived, my doctor asked me a series of questions and it was soon revealed that I tried some of my mother's face cream and that my skin did not like it. Within a couple of days, I was back to normal. This experience plus my current skin circumstances have made it quite obvious that I have sensitive skin.

My Skin Type
Dry and Sensitive. Again, ugh!

~ Dry and/or sensitive skin tends to lose its ability to produce adequate amounts of moisture and natural oils.
~ At times dry skin can feel tight and leathery. In addition, it may flake in some areas.
~ You may note the appearance of premature lines and wrinkles around the eyes and mouth.
~ Sensitive skin may be characterized by broken capillaries.
~ Both skin types are sensitive to harsh cleansers.
~ Dry skin may begin to sag due to loss of elasticity, reduced cell regeneration and collagen loss.
~ May experience hyperpigmentation in some areas.
~ Often dry or sensitive decreases in resiliency due to a lack of adequate surface lipid production.

A few months ago I started using this amazing line of skin care products - Spirit of Beauty. Although my skin has definitely improved with the use of Spirit of Beauty products, I think the increased dryness in the air has made my face more sensitive, in turn resulting in these unexpected break-outs. So, I think it's time to focus on hydration.

Theory & Conclusion
My theory is that the loss of hydration to my skin is making me react negatively to my beloved products (including coconut oil). My skin is thirsty and vulnerable right now. So I've concluded that I have to do some major rehydrating and strengthening of my skin and take a break from my much adored oils and products until my skin becomes more resilient and adequately hydrated. Since I'm lacking moisture, the oils are sealing my skin and not allowing any more moisture to penetrate my skin. I may be way off track, but it's my intuition and I'm going with it. So here's what I'm going to do.

The Experiment
  1. I'm going back to using Dr. Woods' Shea Vision as my facial cleanser. This is a fantastic natural cleanser  which includes black soap and shea butter among other beneficial ingredients. Shea butter is moisturizing, improves elasticity and combats dryness.  Black soap is made from a drying and roasting process using the skin of the plantain. Black soap gently exfoliates the skin and speeds up the healing of blemishes and helps prevent premature facial lines.
  2. I will allow my face and neck to air dry to absorb some much needed water.
  3. I will not put any oil based products on my skin for a while.
  4. I've upgraded my warm mist humidifier and will have it on every night.
  5. I will also do a facial steam treatment (infused with geranium, rosemary and grapefruit) a couple of times a week. Click here to learn more about the benefits of these aromatic essential oils.
  6. I will continue to increase my intake of water and lower my intake of dehydrating drinks like beer and wine.

I hope to see positive results soon. Sigh...

The Poppy Fields ~ Short Stories & Prose

I'm so excited to introduce Poppy Fields - the series and the character. The Poppy Fields is a tapestry of the random observations, recollections, and day to day adventures of Poppy Fields - a complex, restless, hopeful spirit with a melancholic inclination. Poppy chases happiness and freedoms by way of her work, her writings, her meditations, travels and letters to God; weaving these pursuits with the everyday experiences and explorations of her many roles in the Universe.

Poppy Fields lives in Florida, New Mexico, Colorado and New York with hubbie, their two children and a boxer. Her hobbies include travel, walking, reading, writing, crafts, fashion and food.

Pen and paper came to Poppy's rescue when she was a child. Find out how in the next The Poppy Fields post.

♥☺ Carmen

Poppy Fields ~ On Pen & Paper

Paper was my safe place, pen my magic wand
Growing up I would write incessantly, in time possessing an impressive collection of journals. Writing succored me to survive, and in certain cases, defeat terrifying and repressive moments in my adolescence. My writings permitted me to express my desperation and fears in a way I could never verbalize to anyone. Voicing my despair and anger were just as frightening to me, for I feared that I might explode if I let them out. But on paper, I could cry out deafening screams and confront my foes. Paper was my safe place and pen was my magic wand. With the written word I allowed myself to remain hopeful and dream.  I'm pretty sure writing contributed to my ability to find and feel beauty in all surroundings and experiences. I knew that one day words would set me free.

Nonetheless, as I grew older my writing cocoon made it increasingly arduous for me to communicate with others. There are so many things I should have said out loud, but I simply did not trust myself to do so.  I found it difficult to express the simplest uneasiness or concern without torturing myself with anxiety and defensiveness. In relationships I'd start out just fine - happy, confident and secure. Gradually, I would regress, allowing fear and negativity to contaminate my mind and in turn my relationships, my work, and my soul. I needed a new attitude and I went in search of one.

The thing about dysfunction is that although you may grow up and do away with the foul and the hurtful, if you have not resolved it, it follows you. Worse, dysfunction easily becomes familiar - it becomes you.

You may find that you've gained awareness, and so you try to go back to that dysfunction thinking that things will change because you have changed. On the contrary, you will find that you cannot change others and your newfound awareness has no place there.

In time, I stopped writing what my mind was thinking and started to share that stuff out loud. Sometimes, many times, it did get me into trouble. Other times, it helped me completely get rid of useless, hurtful pain. There is magic in the voice. Saying things out loud gives you a totally different perspective from the one in your head. How many times have I read something I wrote passionately out loud only to find that as soon as I said it, I simply got over it.

Instead, I started writing what my spirit was begging for. I wrote for pleasure rather than necessity. No longer was I hiding behind my notebooks. Rather, my journals became open books to start expressing joy and gratitude. And the more gratitude I expressed, the more beauty that started pouring out of my heart. I softened up. I forgave. I forgot.

Once, writing helped me survive. Now, writing helps me live.

Thank pen. Thank paper. Thank goodness.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Humidity for Supple Skin & Hydrated Hair

With so many anti-humidity products on the shelves, we forget that some moisture in the air is actually necessary to maintain healthy skin and hair. This year my skin and hair have reacted to the drier air more significantly than usual. I have had to drink twice as much water, apply lip balm at least three times daily and my scalp was extremely itchy. I was getting some relief while my scalp and hair were damp after a shower and applying olive or coconut oil was helping too, but this alone was not addressing the problem.  Reading my friend Elizabeth's, hair story, reminded me of humidifiers. So last month we bought a simple warm mist vaporizer and it has made a huge difference.

Indoor humidity levels are best at 40%-50%. As I can attest, anything below 30% can be uncomfortable and too dry.  Dryness is caused by lack of water in the air. The humidifier returns moisture to the air and will help protect your hair and skin. A doctor may also recommend increasing humidity when a person has a cold or respiratory infection. To add humidity, there are two basic choices: a humidifier or a vaporizer. The biggest difference between humidifiers and vaporizers is that humidifiers don’t boil the water before using it and vaporizers do, releasing a warm mist into the air.  Both methods work equally well for relieving cold symptoms and dry skin and hair problems, so long as directions are followed and the machines are kept meticulously clean. It’s basically up to you which method you prefer. I opted to get a warm steam vaporizer.

A vaporizer, also called a steam vaporizer, creates moisture by boiling water and then releasing the hot steam, thus moisture, into the room.  You can easily add inhalants to vaporizers whether it's for sinus relief or aromatherapy. Since the water is boiled in a vaporizer, there is less risk of spreading bacteria or molds into the room. It also does not spray mineral deposits into the room, but because it boils the water there may be a fine white mineral dust left in the reservoir of the vaporizer - make sure to clean the container thoroughly every day.

~ Vaporizers are very useful for treating congestion from allergies, colds and other respiratory ailments.
~ They can also relieve dry skin, cracked lips and itchy eyes due to low humidity, especially in winter.
~ Vaporizers help add a feeling of warmth to an otherwise cool room or house when it's cold outside.

~ Vaporizers must be kept very clean. 
~ Water should be changed every day, and the machine should be cleaned regularly according to the instructions. 
~ Be cautious about adding too much humidity to the air as this can make for the perfect climate for bacteria, mold, and dust mites to grow. People with allergies to these should be aware that an increase in humidity can cause these organisms to thrive. To keep humidity in check ensure that there isn't condensation on a cold window or windowsill from the humidifier or vaporizer.

Add a few drops of geranium, grapefruit and rosemary oils into the inhalant reservoir of your vaporizer to enhance the health benefits and therapeutic benefits of your vaporizer.

Geranium ~ The essential oil of geranium is known for its healing effects on the skin. It is used to soothe dry skin and help clear the complexions of those with naturally oily skin.
The aroma of geranium essential oil is often used as a stabilizing influence, calming the mind and body and restoring equilibrium.

Grapefruit ~  The essential oil of grapefruit is known for its antidepressant, diuretic, anti-infectious, astringent and antiseptic properties. It is very rich in Vitamin C which helps to strengthen the body's immune system. It has proven its effectiveness in treating anxiety, digestive problems, skin disorder, colds and flu, and depression.

Rosemary ~ The essential oil of rosemary stimulates the hair follicles resulting in longer and stronger hair. It is also believed that rosemary oil slows down premature hair loss and the greying of hair. Hence, it is an excellent tonic for people who are dealing with balding or thinning hair. Rosemary essential oil is also beneficial for dry and flaky scalp. Regular massage of scalp with rosemary oil nourishes the scalp and removes dandruff.

Rosemary essential oil is an excellent brain and nerve tonic. It stimulates mental activity and is a good remedy for depression, mental fatigue and forgetfulness. Inhaling rosemary oil lifts your spirits immediately. Whenever your brain is tired, inhale rosemary oil to do away with boredom and boost mental energy.

Click here to read about my winter hair care regimen.

How are your skin and hair holding up during these cold and dry months?

♥☺ Carmen

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Little Wish List

"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." ~ Coco Chanel

When I was a kid, each year I would write Santa a letter and leave him cookies and milk on Christmas Eve. I even did it the year that I confirmed that Santa "didn't exist" because it was one of my favorite things to do. This past year my daughter asked me about the existence of Santa and I told her that Santa may not exist, but I think it is fun to imagine. She agreed. So, this year I just couldn't help but write a little list for Santa. It's a bit more sophisticated, being digital and with pictures. But hey, when in the Digital Age... Okay, on to the fun stuff.

I must say that I do love fashion as a form of self-expression. Clothes are already necessary to shield us from environmental elements and harsh climates, so why not have fun with your wardrobe? These are a few items I would certainly not mind finding underneath the Christmas tree this year to "help me express myself." ;)

Lovely, luxurious, silky scarves. If the temperature falls below 68 degrees, my neck must be covered in soft, beautiful fabric. But honestly, I'll wear a scarf year round if I can get away with it. I just love them. I'm already planning my spring/summer beach look and I will be rocking silk head scarves.

"My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud." ~ Henry Rollins
One simply cannot deny that boots are absolutely fierce and a must-have in a lady's wardrobe. What is it about boots that just makes you feel like you have super diva powers?

"Fashion is a kind of communication. It's a language without words. A great hat speaks for itself."
Not only are hats purposeful - during the winter, a silk/satin lined hat will protect your hair from the cold dry air and keep your head warm; during the summer, a hat will help protect your skin from harmful rays and if you are having a bad hair day, a hat will save the day - but full-rimmed hats are just lovely and sultry.

“Enjoy life. This is not a dress rehearsal.”
Dresses are just so easy. You just throw them on, giving yourself more time to play in your wardrobe and pair your dress with just the right shoes and accessories. Dresses are ultra flattering and feminine.

Skirts are classic! I'm especially a fan of the pencil skirt because it plays well with my high waist.

“Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.” ~ Anonymous
A white one-piece bathing suit. I know we are approaching winter, but I'm a Florida girl now, so I can plan ahead. Also, it's my incentive to do more strengthening exercises for my lower body. I can just see me now - white-hot bathing suit, a soft blue silk head scarf, my aviator sunglasses, tight glutes, and smooth toned legs. Ooh, I can't wait!

Arlenis Sosa is rocking a few of my wants in this picture. A beautiful scarf, a pretty patterned skirt and a cruiser bike! This year I'm going to bike more as part of my workout routine and to be more resourceful when it comes to my car, gas, and mother nature.

"If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man [woman] when [s]he goes for a walk." ~ Raymond Inmon
Speaking of mother nature, I could use a pair of walking shoes for the long walks I plan to take - especially my 6 hour beach walk. I'll need a pair of durable, water-resistant, breathable, arch-supportive shoes. I dig the Ecco Groove Gladiator Sandals on the left. The Skechers Shape Ups walking sandals aren't bad either for extra toning!

"I wish I had invented blue jeans. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity - all I hope for in my clothes." ~ Yves Saint Laurent
Higher-waisted jeans are just right for my proportions. I'm petite, but I have a high waist so I'd like to replace some of my lower-waisted jeans with higher waisted jeans which will not only fit me like a glove but lengthen my legs.

"Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book." ~ Author Unknown
A Clip-On LED Book Light would be great. I do most of my reading in bed to help me quiet my restless mind and go to sleep. This means that I oftentimes fall asleep and wake up hours later to my bedside lamp still being on. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night and have to read myself to sleep again. A book light will be great so I don't disturb HB with bright lights in the middle of the night.

“The phrase 'working mother' is redundant” ~ Jane Sellman
This McKlein W Series Glen Ellyn Leather Detachable Women's Briefcase in Aqua Blue would make for a lovely mobile office. I would love to consolidate all my files, purse items, laptop, camera and phone in one place when heading to meetings or to make it easier for me to work outside of the home.

What's on your wish list?

♥☺ Carmen

P.S. For each new item I buy or receive this year, I will be donating another item.

* Click on images for source.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Little Twist on the Twist-Out

Typically, I'm a wash-and-go lady, but a couple of weekends ago while in Delray Beach, I stumbled upon a twist-out that has made me a fan.

As I was getting ready to head to the beach, I contemplated just letting my hair do its thing and air dry. But with the humidity a bit higher and wanting the option of wearing a hat, I decided to style my hair into a handful of quick twists and pull back the front. Later that evening, as we were preparing to go out to dinner, I unraveled the twists to see if I could work out a style.  When I was finished I had soft, defined and more separated curls!  The roots were super smooth, and my ends maintained my beloved coils. I thought, "I'll have to try this on my entire head of hair and see if I like the results."

The next day I twisted, dried, unraveled and a little shake, shake, shake - I loved it.

My Twist on the Twist-Out:
I'm calling this the Smooth, Twist & Coil technique. Here's the madness behind the method.

Due to my hair being super curly and coily, I prefer larger twists. The larger twists stretch out my hair resulting in a looser curl. Now, if you desire a tighter curl pattern and lots of definition, separate your hair into smaller sections.

The best way to describe how I start my twist is that it's like a two-strand french braid or cornrow. Primarily, I started doing this on my daughter's hair because she has twice as much hair as I do, and it was difficult to keep her twists from unraveling. Yet, I noticed that after I'd unravel her french braid her roots would be so smooth. The stitching of the french braid technique flattens and stretches the roots thereby smoothing them down, and it keeps her thick tresses in place without the aid of a hair band. So, one day I combined the french braid technique with the twists; using her hair to keep her twists secure and it worked!

Lastly, I end my twist by coiling the last inch or two of my ends, which mimics my curl pattern and gives me a more natural result - which is what I desire. Basically, it ends up looking a like a wash-n-go but with much more curl separation.

Products and Tools:
~ Leave-in-conditioner for moisture and as a mild styling aid.
~ Coconut oil to seal in moisture.
~ Denman/paddle brush - a must. It smooths the hair cuticle for silky smooth curls and helps with definition.
~ Comb to section hair and prepare for twisting.
~ Butterfly clips to keep sections in place.

1. Section and secure front of hair with a clip. Section and clip remainder of hair into six sections. Like a tic-tac-toe board :)
2. Starting with the bottom row, loosen one of the sections to begin twisting. Take a small amount of hair from the top of your section.

3. Divide into two strands.
4. Cross one strand over the other.

5. Continue adding small amounts of hair to each strand as you twist down. Once you've gathered all the hair in that section, transition to a regular twist and continue to twist down.
6. When you have about an inch of hair left, stop twisting the hair, join the two strands and coil the ends to create a cylindrical curl.

7. Repeat with the remaining sections of hair.

8. Now move on to the front half of your hair. Determine which way you'd like your hair to part.
Separate the hair into three sections - one on either side of your head and one on top. Since I do a side part, I divide the top section in two horizontal sections and twist each in the direction that I want my curls to fall.

Now you can either allow your hair to air dry which may take a couple of hours or half a day (I'm the latter), or you can set your blow dryer at a low setting with a diffuser attachment to speed up the drying time. I do a little of both. Once I have my twists in place I get dressed, eat breakfast, and get my daughter ready for school in order to give my hair some air drying time. I then use the diffuser to speed up the process.

I allow my hair to be slightly (very slightly) damp when I'm ready to loosen my twists. One, this will give me a more natural curl pattern, and two, my hair will dry faster once it's all loose.

I GENTLY loosen my twists from the bottom and work my way up; somewhat allowing my hair to unwind itself. This minimizes frizz significantly. You will also notice that your roots are super smooth because of the flat twists you started at the top which will aid in separating your curls further. Meanwhile, the coils at the bottom of your twist result in sweet loops. Results - a natural look without the frizz.

♥☺ Carmen

Sunday, December 5, 2010

And the night shall be filled with music...

"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. " ~ Berthold Auerbach

Last night (just a few hours ago) we went to see Joe Bonamassa in concert at The Plaza Theatre. I did not know who he was or what to expect, but friends of ours raved about him and we love the blues.  We're so glad to have learned about this artist. He made quite an impression. From his voice to his guitar skills to his guitar collection - it all came together for an inspirational evening.

A native New Yorker, 33 year old Joe Bonamassa is a blues-rock singer, songwriter, and guitar player.

His latest album, Black Rock, was recorded in Santorini, Greece to explore a "world" feeling in his music.

Bonamassa started playing the guitar at the age of 4!

I also loved his outfit. He wore grey pants with a grey jacket, an eggplant purple silk shirt, and a pair of Converse sneakers. Actually, I think I have this outfit - really!

I'm searching for two songs that I fell in love with at the concert, but I was too mesmerized to write down the titles, and now I can't recall the words. I've added Joe Bonamassa to my Pandora profile and know I will recognize the songs as soon as Pandora plays them. In the meantime, I get to hear more of his songs and some of my other favorite blues-rock artists like Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix as Joe Bonamassa's music has similar qualities to that of these artists. Gotta love that about Pandora.

If you're looking for a new artist to listen to, check him out!


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Birthday List ~ 34 Things to do Before I'm 35

birthday list ~ 34 things to do before i turn 35!
I created a To-Live list for my birthday. It includes 34 personal goals I'd like to accomplish before I turn 35. I'm not on a serious mission or anything, but there is something sweet about writing down a few things I'd like to do in the next 365 days that will make me better, make me smile, and ensure that I do special things with my special people. As we all know time flies like it's on a deadline, so why not ensure you are doing things that matter to your heart, your spirit and your mind.

By the way 33 is "Make over second bathroom" and 34 is "Create an illustration book for Sheilah's good morning song."


P. S. I make tons of lists all of the time, but this list was inspired by A Beautiful Mess who in turn was inspired by Hula Seventy .