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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Blow Out Season is HERE!!

The weather has finally reached temps cool enough to sustain a Blow Out longer than 5 minutes!  Over the past couple of years I have strayed away from applying heat to my hair often.  In fact, I've really only applied heat to my hair at max 3 times a year since I've gone Natural.  Which is crazy because I applied heat to my hair weekly when I was relaxed!!  I don't know why I'm so afraid of heat now but I've really been trying to leave that behind and just enjoy my hair.

I've never experienced heat damage and I think that's really because I've been doing my hair since I was like 10 years old.  I truly do know my own hair very well. There are a few tips that I always give my friends and family when they ask me about straightening their natural hair.

1.  Use as few products as possible when Blowing your hair out.  So many times we simply just add too many products which tends to sometimes extend the drying time.  The longer you apply heat to your hair, the greater the possibility of heat damage.  I don't use a leave-in when blow drying my hair UNLESS it is a heat protectant.  The best option is to apply your heat protectant and immediately blow dry.  You can always add products after you Dry for added moisture if necessary.

2.  Once you rinse your Conditioner out, separate your hair into sections and allow it to air dry 50% if possible.  If you don't have the time for air drying that long then t-shirt dry.  The more saturated your hair is with water, the longer it will take for you to dry.  The longer it takes to dry, the greater chance you have encountering heat damage.

3.  Start Drying from the bottom, or the ends of your hair.  Stretch your hair and begin drying from the ends and work your way to the roots.  This really helps with keeping your hair from detangling and manageable while Drying.  It's so tempting to start at those roots but doing so can really break your hair off and cause your Drying time to be longer than necessary due to knots and tangles.

4.  Pay extra attention to the SMELL.  When you're Drying your hair, you will see steam lifting from your hair.  This is OKAY!  You should also smell the heat protectant that you're using.  If you start smelling hair burning.  STOP.  The whole point of using a heat protectant is for the product to be a barrier between the heat and your hair.  Once that is gone, your hair is at risk for heat damage.

The common thread amongst my recommendations is to apply heat for as little time as possible.  This is also why I use heat at a high temperature versus a low temperature setting that may take an hour to complete.  Obviously, do what you're comfortable with!  If you're uncomfortable or scared to use heat on a high temperature then don't or go to a professional.  My experience has been great using these tips over the years and as you can see from my Wash + Gos, my curls are healthy and heat damage-free.  So enjoy your tresses and don't be afraid to take part in Blow Out Season!

Products I use for my Blow Outs:

Conair Blow Dryer:
Motions Leave- In:
Motions Serum:
Sedu Flat Iron:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What's in my Bag

For the first time EVER I decided to do a What's in my Bag video over on my YouTube Channel.  I don't know what took me so long but I'm so glad that I finally did it.  It really was a lot of fun and it actually helped me with becoming more comfortable with just talking to the camera.  For most of my videos, I tend to do voice overs because it just feels more comfortable for me but I think I will try more videos like this to help me step outside my comfort zone.  Watch the video and let me know if you want me to make more videos like this!!  XOXOMCS

Products Mentioned in Video:

iPad Folio:
iPhone Case:
Mophie Charger:
Monday, October 19, 2015

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in DC with Creme of Nature

On Sunday, October 19th, I made my way into DC to join the Creme of Nature Team for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.  Honestly, I have never done a 'Walk for a Cause' before so I was probably way too excited. Like, didn't get decent rest the night before because I was so excited! LOL.  Looking back, all that excitement was definitely warranted because it was truly an amazingly fun experience.

I was invited by Creme of Nature to be a co-captain for the Team in DC along with Dayna (@itsdaynadane).  Yolanda Renee (@etcblogmag) was the Captain and man did she do an incredible job leading.  While myself and Dayna arrived just minutes before the Walk began (due to crazy DC Parking issues), Yolanda AND her girls were there at the crack of dawn (perhaps not the real crack but you know what I mean LOL) ready and waiting to greet all the Team Members bright and early.  The temperature was a cute 48 degrees when I arrived at the Washington Monument.  Can we say BRICK!  We all brought our daughters along and while the adults handled the cold temps just fine, the minis were not here for it.  They had us wrap them up in whatever blankets + sweaters we had on hand and re-wrap them every time they came unraveled.  The Moms really couldn't complain though because those minis stayed in great spirits and walked the entire 5k!  So maybe it took 20+ stops to re-wrap them up, but we all cheerfully made it to the Finish Line.

Being amongst so many Survivors also brought along its own emotions.  Talk about putting things in perspective.  Walking with the Team was all kinds of fun but we truly were there for a serious reason... to raise money!  If you happened to miss the Walk with us, you can definitely still support this incredible cause.  Your donation will help the American Cancer Society save lives from Breast Cancer by funding research, providing free information + support, and helping women take steps to reduce the risk of them developing the disease.  Yolanda said it best in her latest YouTube video, with all the followers she has (or even I have), if everyone donated just $1 imagine the impact we could make.  Click here to make your donation... it seriously can be just $1!

Thank you for your support!!
Friday, October 9, 2015

The Naturalista Hair Show || My 1st Panelist Experience

(L-R) Courtney @CurlsandCouture, Francheska @heyfranhey, Annisa @ilovealimara
We are weeks past September 27, 2015 which was The Naturalista Hair Show, and I owe you guys some insight!  As you know, I was a speaker on the Blogger Panel and it was my first time ever doing so.  While speaking publicly isn't a fear of mine, being on a Panel is a bit different.

Normally, when you speak publicly at an event you prepare what you will say.  Some people even bring note cards or jot down keywords to keep them on track.  Well when you're on a Panel, there is a Moderator who asks questions and gives you an opportunity to respond.  Often times, you are not privied to the questions that will be asked in advance so you really have to be quick on your feet.  Luckily, Nicole Walters (the Moderator), asked very light and easy questions that didn't take too much thought.  Everything goes so quick that if you take too much time thinking of your answer, you won't speak at all!!  LOL.  And, since there were a diverse group of Bloggers on the Panel (from uber popular to just starting), we all provided very different answers to the questions asked.

Speaking is just one part of the experience though and it's actually the only thing I focused on leading up to the event.  I totally forgot about the picture taking and mingling with the attendees.  There were LOTS of pictures and if there is one thing I learned, it's to change into your 'comfy' shoes before the pictures.  Once the pictures start, there's no stopping and can last for just as long as the actual Panel!  With this being the very first Panel I've spoken on, I've definitely picked up on some amazing tips for the next time.  I couldn't be more grateful for the experience.


For more pictures from this event, head on over to

Thursday, October 8, 2015

We are BLACK: Explaining Race to Your Children

This is probably the heaviest and most personal topic I've discussed here in the Shoppe.  Yet, this is a discussion that I've had numerous times in my life.  Not only was this conversation had with me as a child but I've had to hold this conversation twice, once with each of my daughters.  We are BLACK.  Our children are born into this world so naive and they start to formulate their own thoughts about "race".  Technically, their first thoughts aren't even race related... it's more about the color of their skin.  Growing up very fair skinned myself and now raising daughters who were born the same, I just wasn't sure how to address the confusion that I knew would come.  Sometimes topics can be introduced too early to children and just ruin innocence in them before necessary.  So, with both my daughters I waited until I knew the time was right.

Let's start with my own history first.  I had to be no older than 6-7 years old visiting my grandmother in Ohio for the summer.  Me and all my cousins did this every summer and it was one of the few times that we all spent together yearly.  Well, one summer a group of white girls had convinced me that I was good enough to play with them but not my cousins (who were dark skinned).  Mind you, before this time no one had ever talked to me about "light skin/dark skin... white and black".  What I did know is that it felt good to be singled out.  It almost felt like a privilege.  What I didn't know was that my Grandmother was about to give me the most historic beating of my life.  My Grandmother who also was fair skinned and came from a history of fair skinned ancestors, was raised in Mobile, AL.  So, you can only imagine the disgrace and anger when she heard about my behavior.  Once I told my cousins that they couldn't play with us because they were black and not white like us, they obviously ran and told on me.  It was from this experience that I first learned the difference between black and white, light skin and dark skin.  As my Grandmother would later explain to me, if you're not white you're black.  Doesn't matter if you're light brown, chocolate brown or mixed with any other nationality... You are BLACK.

The scenarios with my two daughters were very different actually.  My oldest daughter never thought she was 'white' per se but she was very colorblind.  She once had a friend that we met, gorgeous brown skinned child.  Well, her mother that we met at the time was white and clearly had not a lick of Black in her.  Out of curiosity, we asked my daughter if her friend's Dad was Black and she responded that he too was white.  Yet, she didn't understand our look of confusion at all.  It wasn't long before we realized that she actually thought a black child could have white parents naturally.  And, we're not talking scientific rarities that happen.  Taylor actually didn't understand the basics of black children are born from black parents, white children are born from white parents and so on.  In fact, the area in which we resided in had a large number of Middle Eastern families and we later found out from Taylor that she thought they were Black too.  (We know Middle Eastern groups are not white, so how are they actually categorized?!)  The heavy accents and names like Swati seemed not to really phase her.  Sitting down and talking to Taylor was pretty easy.  We explained how Black people come in different shades but we are all Black.  Some of it can be explained by melanin and sun exposure while a large portion of it is due to slavery.  Prior to this conversation we thought there were a large number of Black students at Taylor's school (from her stories she would tell us) but after talking with her and clearing up her confusion, it became very obvious that there was actually only a handful!

Now Kennedy on the other hand, was on the verge of thinking she was white.  She came home one day and told Gregory that he was Black because (as she put it), he was Dark Brown Skinned.  When we asked her what did that make her, she replied 'White' because I'm Light Brown Skinned.  Fortunately for her, we both had more patience than my Grandmother did.  It took quite some time for her to understand that we are ALL BLACK.  You can have 'light brown skin or dark brown skin', doesn't matter because we are all Black.  It's crazy because explaining these things will bring a child through so many emotions.  Kennedy went from defensive to confused and even cried!  She didn't cry because she found out that she was black, but rather because she could see that continuing this line of thought would upset us more and more.  It may have taken A LOT of persistence on our end but now when you ask her she will proudly say "I am Black".

Where we reside, it is predominately white and very different from how me and my husband were raised.  We were both raised in diverse communities/cities with lots of family around.  So, with the lack of these things it's very important that we take the time to teach our children what they may not learn in school.  It was super important to never ever mention being 'mixed' with other races to my children.  Although my oldest two children have Italian in their bloodline (their Grandmother was half Italian, half Black) and my own Grandfather is from South America (Belize), I just don't find it necessary to use the word 'mixed'.  While we do discuss their ethnic make up, it is never to "water down" their Blackness.  Honey, we are Black and that is all there is to it.
I'm sure other parents have had to deal with these same issues and conversations.  They're not easy.  Each family will handle things VERY differently.  While I was given a beating by Grandmother, I chose to sit down and talk to my own children when the topic came up.  Also, the circumstances were very different... My children weren't out disowning their family!  You may be thinking, 'wait, don't you have a son'?!  Surprisingly, my son, Gregory, NEVER had any of this confusion.  He always knew he was Black and he always knew the difference between races.  From birth, he was a delicious brown skin boy though so I don't know if he just automatically saw things differently.  This parenting thing doesn't come with a handbook and you just have to rock with each child as they grow and develop because guess what... You're growing and developing right along with them!

The biggest tip that I can give is to be as real as possible with your children.  Once you have "The Talk" (if necessary), don't sugar coat Political debates and News stories.  Don't say things like "baby, he was shot because the officer was mean".  It's important to be honest and say "baby, he was shot because he's Black" and confront those tough questions that may come.  Doing anything less is not setting the right foundation for our children.  Have you had to have this talk with your children?  Did someone have this conversation with you growing up?  Please share below your experiences and how you dealt with it.
Friday, October 2, 2015

#FBF: Fall Wardrobe Staples

Fall 2015 is here finally, yet my style really hasn't changed from Fall 2014 or Fall 2013 for that matter. LMAO.  Why?  Because I have classic wardrobe staples in my closet that really don't ever go out of style.  If and when I do add to it, I always make sure that I am not being too trendy so that the pieces carry over year to year.  Below is a post I did last year that is still very relevant today so instead of re-writing it, I thought I would just re-share.  Enjoy and share with your friends/family that may be falling into the rut of getting "too trendy" every season!

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