Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2014

Been slacking on blog posts, but wanted to say Happy New Year. Have a safe and Happy New Year's Eve!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Runners World Run Streak Challenge

I joined the Runners World Run Streak Challenge in the effort to combat weight gain during this, the season of food holidays. The challenge is to run 1 mile each day between Thanksgiving and the New Year. When I decided to join the challenge, I was already 4 days behind (oopsie) but I’ll play catch up by running a bit further each day. They say a habit is formed after 30 days, so this will be a great activity for new runners, or runners who have just fallen off (like me). I’ll be logging my miles over at Daily Mile. It’s free – it only cost calories burned. Join the challenge and track other runners’ stories with the hashtag #RWRunStreak. Good luck!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lollipop bouquet – Thanksgiving & Fall edition

I made this video last year making a Valentine's Day lollipop bouquet. Here's the Fall & Thanksgiving version! This is an easy Thanksgiving centerpiece and activity: Take a lollipop and write something you're thankful for on the leaf to share with your family after Thanksgiving dinner. Happy Thanksgiving!

Download leaf template here

Style Profile: LeAndrea Mack of Word Power USA

Meet LeAndrea Mack of Kansas City, Missouri; the creative mind behind Word Power USA. Her passion for writing has brought awareness to minority youth and adults about the importance (and fun) of literacy! Check out some of LeAndrea’s style here!

I’m highlighting real women with great hair and great style in my Style Profile on Examiner.com! I would love to share your style with my Chicago Ethnic Hair Care readers, e-mail me at chihairexaminer@live.com.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Style Profile: Trina Scott of New Vision Hair Studio

Meet Trina Scott, owner of N.V. Hair Studio located in the Chicago Loop. For over two decades she’s been styling women and helping her clients achieve their hair goals. Check out some of Trina's style.

I’m highlighting real women with great hair and great style in my Style Profile on Examiner.com! I would love to share your style with my Chicago Ethnic Hair Care readers, e-mail me at chihairexaminer@live.com.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Style Profile: Maya James of MilkyWay: The Life of a Chocolate Girl in the City

Meet Maya James, freelance writer, blogger, and Executive Assistant located in Chicago, IL. Her lifestyle blog covers everything from natural hair and music to life in the big city. Check out some of Maya’s style.

I’m highlighting real women with great hair and great style in my Style Profile on Examiner.com! I would love to share your style with my Chicago Ethnic Hair Care readers, e-mail me at chihairexaminer@live.com.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Throwback Thursday: DIY t-shirt workout headband

I made this video about a year ago to demo how easy it is to 5 strand braid a t-shirt headband for workouts . And who doesn't love a good t-shirt decontruction? Enjoy!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Style Profile: Christie R. Edwards of Living Simplistically Blog

Meet Christie R. Edwards, blogger and healthcare professional located in Chicago, IL. She’s determined to live life simplistically, share her experiences, and inspire others to do the same. Check out Christie’s style here!

I’m highlighting real women with great hair and great style in my Style Profile on Examiner.com! I would love to share your style with my Chicago Ethnic Hair Care readers, e-mail me at chihairexaminer@live.com.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Race recap: Frank Lloyd Wright Races

Sunday I ran the Frank Lloyd Wright Races 5K in Oak Park. It was chilly! This was the first run of the season I decided to wear gloves.

I really liked the course. It was cool running down the middle of Lake Street, Chicago Avenue, and passing the Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Oak Park. So lovely.

The race was quiet. There weren’t a lot of spectators. I had no music. I couldn’t refresh my playlists on my phone – blast you Google Music! There was a house just after mile 2 that played music on loud speakers and cheered enthusiastically. Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi helped to spur me to the finish line.

This guy finished his first 5K! His only goal was to beat me. He succeeded. He finished sub 36, I finished sub 42.

Post race we enjoyed a pancake breakfast. We both expected giant piles of hot, steamy pancakes with melted butter. We got this instead.

It still hit the spot! The FLW Races are well organized with great volunteers. This race has been on my ‘to-run’ list for a while. I’m glad I finally checked it off.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Style Profile: Sekile Nzinga-Johnson

I’m highlighting real women with great hair and great style in my Style Profile on Examiner.com!

Meet Sekile Nzinga-Johnson, professor and author located in Oak Park/Chicago, IL. She has a ton of hair and style to match. Check out Sekile’s style here!

I would love to share your style with my Chicago Ethnic Hair Care readers, e-mail me at chihairexaminer@live.com.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Upcoming race: Frank Lloyd Wright 5K

I've had a thing for 5K's this year. My next race will be the Frank Lloyd Wright Races in Oak Park, IL. Every year I contemplate doing this race and this is the first time I've gone through with signing up. The course is fast and flat and the Fall scenery should be beautiful. I'm oh so excited about the post-race pancake breakfast in store for participants.

Also exciting is that my guy will be running his first 5K race! I love witnessing people complete their first 5K. It's a huge accomplishment for a beginner runner. I'm looking forward to my first race of the Fall season!

Craft workshop recap: No-sew vinyl clutch

I had a lovely time teaching these ladies how to make a no-sew vinyl clutch and tassel keychain this weekend.

These bags are so easy to make, you may get carried away with making them in every color.

My youngest student will use her clutch as a pencil bag for school, cute!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Examiner Article: Interview with The Monroe Sisters

If you're current on the happenings of the natural hair and beauty scene, surely you've heard of the dynamic duo that is The Monroe Sisters. Saturday I attended their event, The 2nd Annual Industry Fashion Show. I had an opportunity to chat with the two before the event. Check out the interview and photos on Examiner.com.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Make it yourself: Race shirt yoga skirt

There are times I run smaller races or even volunteer for races that give cotton shirts to race participants. There are so many cool t-shirt deconstruction tutorials out there. I thought it would be fun to repurpose a couple of my cotton race shirts into a yoga skirt.

I made a pattern by tracing this knit skater skirt I bought from Wal-Mart (yep, I shop Wal-Mart).

I love how comfy it is. Because I wanted to use the majority of the graphics of each shirt, I divided the main fabric of my skirt into four panels. The waistband is two pieces. I folded the Wal-Mart skirt in half to trace a pattern for the main fabric. These are the final measurements of the pattern I created. You can adjust the *waist measurements to fit you.

Add ½ inch seam allowance
2 men's cotton race shirts (my shirts are XL)
1 plain men's cotton shirt (for the waistband)
Sewing machine
Tape measurer
Straight pins

Skirt main fabric directions: Cut each shirt up the sides.

Cut 4 fabric panels (1 from the front and 1 from the back of each t-shirt).

Sew panels right sides together.

Waistband directions: Fold shirt in half lengthwise.

Cut pattern on the fold (cut 2) Pin and sew the two folded waistband pieces right sides together.

Sewing waistband to skirt directions: Line up the seams of the waistband with the seams of the skirt.

Fold the waistband down over the skirt, right sides together. Pin and sew.

Pull the waistband up, and you're finished!

A comfy new repurposed t-shirt skirt!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bad Ass Dash Chicago - the craziest race I've done

Obstacle course races are all the rage lately. For adults who find plain old running boring, hurdling through mud, water, and even fire is a popular alternative. I don’t find running boring, but I admit I had been interested in doing an obstacle course race for some time. This Labor Day weekend I participated in the Chicago Bad Ass Dash held in Rosemont, IL. This was by far the craziest race I’ve done. There were 27 obstacles spread over 4 miles. It was yucky with plenty of obstacles that involved complete submersion in water followed by muddy hill climbs. I can’t forget the crawling, rolling, and running either.

photo credit: BADASS Dash Facebook page

My favorite obstacles involved climbing. I could climb a fence like a champ as a kid, and scaling the net walls in this race definitely brought those skills back to the surface. For me this obstacle was the toughest.

photo credit: BADASS Dash Facebook page

It involved crawling up a hill on your back using a net. You could not see how far you had to go to reach the top. You could not see who was ahead of you or below you. And oh yeah, you were randomly sprayed with water from a fire hose. When I saw it, I knew it would be trouble! But I made it to the top.

As in life, there is some room for improvement with this race. I will give them the benefit of the doubt. The race was originally supposed to be in Brookfield, IL, but very close to the race date the village decided against hosting the race. I’m sure the race directors were scrambling to find another location. So perhaps it was not the exact race they planned due to the location change.

By biggest suggestion, more volunteers. There were 1-2 volunteers at most of the obstacles. On the obstacles involving water, I felt there should have been more. At one of the first water obstacles a woman fell into this pond.

photo credit: BADASS Dash Facebook page

She called for help and the volunteer panicked and asked us, the race participants, to help pull the woman out. The water was only waist deep, but if the woman did not know how to swim or started to panic, it could have turned dangerous.

Two days after the race, I was incredibly sore! I mean sore ALL OVER. In strange place like my forearms. I had plenty of scratches and bumps too. But, I appreciated the all over body workout.

The time it took to complete 27 obstacles over 4 miles? One hour and 37 minutes. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. The winner finished in 30 minutes! I cannot even fathom how that happened. Each finisher got a medal and a post-race beer.

I’m not sure if I will do another obstacle course race. For now I’ve satisfied my curiosity.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Race recap: 2013 Chicago Triathlon

I’m still on a high after finishing the Chicago Triathlon this Sunday. I had a great race experience. After debating the entire summer whether or not to go through with the race, I’m glad I decided to go for it. Here’s a breakdown of my race day!

Transition area: It was not as intimidating as the course talk made it out to be. It was big, for sure – but I never felt crowded. Arriving early and having enough time to get acclimated was the best thing I could have done. My rack was positioned so that it was easy to access, although transition does look different at 4:30am than after the sun rises. After I returned from the bike, I walked right passed my spot on my rack. It took me about a minute to get my bearings!

The swim (.5 mile): The race started promptly at 6am. I was able to watch the first few waves of 50 or more swimmers enter the water and take off. You start the race by walking down a few temporary stairs and jumping feet first into Lake Michigan.

Photo credit: Chicago Triathlon Facebook page

There is no other way to enter! I felt surprising calm after taking the plunge and wading to the back and outside of the pack to await the horn. We got about 90 seconds to tread water before our wave start. The water is about 8 feet deep so you cannot touch the bottom of the lake at any time, which was a first for me. But my wet suit made it pretty easy. I could sit back as though I was in a chair, float and relax to catch my breath. I did that throughout the swim. There were lifeguard boats positioned along the route. I thought I would have to stop and hang onto a boat every so often, but I never once had to do that. I never felt crowded in the lake. I got hit by other swimmers a few times, but that was expected. Most people hit you, then change course to avoid hitting you again. Swimmers did start to get a little aggressive towards the very end, where we bottlenecked to get to the stairs to exit. One person did grab my ankle, and I politely kicked them off and kept it moving.

When I got out of the water I was in a really good mood because the swim went so well for me. But for some, it didn't go so great. There were people absolutely freaking out in the lake. I heard people hyperventilating and asking for help, many were pulled onto the boats by the lifeguards. It was a bit crazy. During one of my sitting breaks a lifeguard asked if I was o.k. to which I replied, “Yep, just taking a break!” I thought to myself, "Don’t even think about trying to pull me out of this water!"

The bike (14 miles): The out and back course on Lake Shore Drive starts with a steep climb up an on-ramp and a bumpy ride over a raggedy bridge. About two miles in my gears started to act weird. At one point I had no gears at all. I pedaled for a while and the gear popped back, then I decided not to shift any more for fear of popping off the chain completely. So some hills were a little tough because I could not down shift. I never once saw a SAG vehicle. I saw maybe five bike marshals who were pulled over on the median – as if bikers in trouble were supposed to come to them. I’m so happy my bike did not give me any more trouble because I’m sure I would have been waiting a while for help. Despite the extra wear on my legs, I enjoyed the bike. There were beautiful sunrise views of the lake and the city along the way.
Photo credit: Chicago Triathlon Facebook page

The run (3.1 miles): The last leg went really fast. I had run most of the course in other races, so I knew where to expect the hills. I practiced 5:1 intervals most of the way. I saved my energy for the very last hill and sprinted all the way to the finish line. My friends were there to cheer me to the finish.

Overall it was a great race! I finished 8 minutes over my projected time, but I was so happy with how everything went, I didn’t mind.

Post-race: Right after I crossed the finish line, I was randomly asked to give an interview for Life Time Fitness about my experience with the race.

I had such glowing things to say about the organization, the route, and the volunteers; I’m sure they have lots of great sound bites to promote the next race!

The medal is pretty awesome, as you can tell by my intense inspection.

It has a magnetic back and it doubles as a bottle opener! My open-water swim training friend Tracy and I enjoyed a burger and some beers.

Besides having the port-a-potty door opened on me by a man while I was using it – it was a nice post-race celebration. I’m a little sad this is nearly the end of the triathlon racing season in the Midwest. I sense a triathlon road trip in my future!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Upcoming race: The Chicago Triathlon

I’m participating in the Chicago Triathlon this Sunday. I registered for this race way back in December 2012. After a tough race in June, I debated whether or not to actually go through with the Chicago Tri. My biggest challenge was finding a comfortable wet suit. By nature wet suits are met to fit tightly. Well, that feeling is uncomfortable to me! But I need a wet suit to survive the swim. After trying a couple, I found a wet suit that fits comfortably, Zoot's sleeveless Z FORCE 2.0.

My shoulders do not feet restricted and I can easily take a deep breath in this suit. My goal for 2013 was to finish 2 sprint triathlons. I hate to set a goal for myself and not follow through, so I’m going for it. There are over 7,000 athletes registered for this race. This is the big time.

A couple of things I will do differently this race:

Um, warm up!

Running starts do not work for me. They only spike my heart rate. The Chicago tri starts in the deep, so I will have a short time to fully submerge myself before taking off.

Focus on my stroke.

In June when I couldn’t catch my breath, I threw my form out the window and started doing anything to move myself through the water. While doggy paddling is comfortable, a proper stroke is always the most effective way to move through the water and get the swim portion done as soon as possible.

A full race report is coming. Good luck to all the participants!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Diamond Candles ring reveal

Watch my Diamond Candles ring reveal here! Today is the last day to enter to win your own candle here!

***WINNER: Thanks to all that entered the giveaway and congrats to the winner Katie Hughes! Katie, please check your e-mail for the details!***

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Diamond Candles Giveaway

Giveaway time! Diamond Candles are yummy soy candles with a ring inside!

There are so many scents, floral, fruity, fresh. I had a tough time deciding which to choose. I love warm scents like vanilla, so I chose Cupcake Candle. I'm burning my candle now and I can't wait to reveal the bling is inside. Enter here to win a Diamond Candle in the scent of your choice! Entries close August 16, 2013!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***WINNER: Thanks to all that entered the giveaway and congrats to the winner Katie Hughes! Katie, please check your e-mail for the details!***

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2013 Esprit de She Chicago 5K recap

On July 18th I finished the Esprit de She 5K in Chicago’s Diversey Harbor. After a great experience with this race series at the Esprit de She Naperville triathlon in June, I decided to participate in one of their road races. I registered for the 10K but in response to the 90 degree we had that day, race officials canceled the 10K and moved everyone into the 5K race.

At first I was disappointed, but once the race got started I was soon ready for it to be over. It was hot. Harbor runs are usually graced with a nice breeze off of Lake Michigan. But, Diversey Harbor is separated from the water by Lake Shore Drive. So the air was thick and stagnant. Despite the heat, I finished! The race officials did a good job keeping us cool with water misting fans along the route and hydration stations at miles 1 and 2. They also had ice cold towels and popsicles at the finish line. The best part of the race? The post-race party.

Photo credit: Esprit de She

The avocado- chocolate pudding, hummus and flatbread pretty much blew the usual bagels and bananas post-race fuel out of the water. And for the adult runners, the bubbly bar was a nice touch.

I sipped champagne well into the night with a few ladies from my running group. The race swag was nice too, I love the orange sleeveless tech tank.

Photo credit: Esprit de She

Summer races are always a toss up because of the weather, but I really enjoyed this event, heat and mosquito bites included.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

10 years of natural hair

Ten years ago today I walked into Napps Natural Hair Salon in St. Louis, Missouri and asked a barber to cut my relaxed hair off to the new growth.

At the time, I had not relaxed my hair for 9 months. My goal was to go an entire year without a relaxer. But, the hot and humid summer weather had another plan. Dealing with two textures proved to be a challenge I did not have the patience to deal with. So when I sat in the chair and the clippers started to buzz of nearly 10 inches of hair, I had no qualms about what was happening. I was ready to Big Chop!

I first became curious about natural hair during my senior year of undergraduate school. I spent hours on end scouring Nappturality.com and perusing the Fotki photo albums of other natural women. I was intrigued by the varying hair textures and wondered about my own hair’s texture. I did not start relaxing my hair until high school, but I wore a press and curl and even a curly perm (yikes) during grade school. Other than childhood photos, I didn’t really know what my unprocessed hair would be like.

When I walked into my workplace the first day after my Big Chop, the reactions were priceless. Don’t people know it’s rude to stare? I knew it was a shocking change for everyone, so it was actually something I expected. As my hair grew and I was able to switch up my styles I received more compliments and comments like, “I wish I could go natural”. My response was always, “Go for it! Just chop it off”. But I realize that is much easier said than done. Being mentally prepared to cut your relaxed hair is 90% of the battle.

Today the natural hair scene has absolutely exploded. What a difference 10 years makes. What I simply consider a way of life is the hottest trend going! From my days of obscure website hunting, fast forward to an abundance of social media and blog coverage on natural hair. Many main stream hair & beauty companies have also jumped on the natural train. The greater ease of social sharing has made access to information and product much easier. Women have so many resources available to them, it’s a great time to be natural.

I’ve experimented with every style from a TWA, BAA, locs, twists, puffs, flat-ironed styles, up-dos, color-treatments and now, 10 years later I’ve chopped it off again into a short tapered style (which I think may be my favorite style of all!) I’ve tried nearly every popular product line and tool available. Variety is definitely half the fun of being natural. I love each and every one of my tightly coiled strands. Here’s to 10 more years of love and happiness with natural hair.

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