Monthly Archives: November 2011

Roll and Side Bun Tutorial (Video)

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Back in August, I told you in this post that I filmed a tutorial for the style pictured above, but was unable to successfully upload it to YouTube. This weekend, I finally figured out how to do it! Without further ado, here is the video tutorial for the roll and bun! Enjoy!

Now Arriving: Afro Puffy Twists!

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Okay, just doing this really quick post to share my new hair with you! I LOVE it!! In my opinion, the hair is soft, flexible and light when compared to other synthetic braiding/twisting hair and it should only get fluffier and more natural looking the older it gets. When I got home, I spritzed the twists with Sally’s GVP Infusium 23 leave-in, sealed with EVOO and applied my EO mix to my scalp around the cornrows and crown. I am already playing around with different styles and can’t wait to see what else I can come up with! It is sooooo on!

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As to my experience at Braids ‘R Us in Maplewood, NJ? EXCELLENT! Maza (sp?) was my braider and she was very gentle with my hair, didn’t braid too tightly and did exactly as I requested in regard to cornrowing my fine edges. I brought my shower comb with me and combed through my hair before we began and Maza didn’t comb through my hair at all, she simply parted it to form the sections. If she ever snared or tugged a strand (which was rare, maybe 4-5 times during the entire process), she quickly apologized and gentled her touch. The style cost $140 ($160 with tip), took about 7 1/2 hours to complete (due to the length of my hair) and two bags of the Nafy Collection Afro Puffy Twist hair (which I purchased online and brought with me). I do wish that my hair was a little more moisturized. So, in the future, I will add a moisturizing oil, like coconut or Vatika, to my hair while it is still wet, prior to blow drying. In this way, my hair should be more moisturized without being “producty.” If I was flat-ironing, I might visit grapeseed oil or try the rest of MopTopMaven’s Flat Ironing Cocktail;). Back to Braids R’ Us though, it was really good experience and reaffirmed why I went there years ago and referred others to the salon! It is a little more pricey than some braiding parlors in northern NJ, but I believe it is totally worth it for the care given to my strands and the final results.

So yup … I’m a happy camper:)! I plan on trying to keep these in until the end of our GOC at the end of January, so 8 weeks. I hope that I can hold out that long as I usually get antsy around 4 weeks and remove extensions at about 6. So, we’ll see.

Moisture & Protein: Finding the Balance

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Tips & Tricks: Number Ten

via The Science of Black Hair

The unique relationship that exists between the protein and moisture balances within the hair strand is not simply a case of balancing opposing forces one over the other to prevent hair breakage. These two components work together synergistically to produce a healthy head of hair, and neither can work well without the other. Keeping the hair balanced between these two entities is very important.

Over the last couple of months, a few of you have expressed concerns about excessive breakage and how to address it. In addition, I myself had begun to experience it and set about diagnosing the root cause. What I realized about two months ago was that my hair might be over-conditioned/over-moisturized. “What did you say?!?! Over-CONDITIONED? Natural hair?? HERESY!!”

LOL! But seriously, about a year ago, I read about the delicate balance between protein and moisture and “filed” it in the tombs. You see, I kept my distance … a very far distance … from protein. However, I was using henna on the regular and, although I couldn’t find an authoritative source that stated it was an effective alternative to protein, it seemed to work just fine for me as a strengthening treatment.

The problem? At the beginning of 2011, I started to perform roots only applications of henna to eliminate the problem I had with henna build-up causing excessive curl loosening. I would do a bit of a henna gloss on the length, but that was it. It never occurred to me that the length of my hair was no longer getting its regular dose of strengthening henna resin due to my regimen adjustment. So, I went about my merry way until about October of this year when I realized that the length of my hair was very soft, shedding like crazy and also breaking far more than normal. That’s when the article that I read about a year ago came out of the memory catacombs and I started to think that my hair might be over-moisturized and in need of protein.

Most of us think of breakage as related to the lack of moisture. But, in fact, it can be the complete opposite and diagnosing the source of the problem is necessary in order to select the correct solution.

What can cause over-moisturized hair?

via The Science of Black Hair

  • overzealous “baggying”
  • back-to-back conditioner washes that don’t allow the hair to ever dry
  • regular lengthy/overnight deep conditionings
  • keeping the hair wet in general (water or oil) for extended periods of time without a break
  • the complete elimination of protein products altogether

Well, I’ve definitely been known to sleep in a DC overnight and to leave a Vatika oil pre-poo in my hair for multiple days … more out of laziness than a desire to get “extra conditioning.” Also, given that I leave these treatments in so long, I find that I don’t need to co-wash at all during the week or re-wet my hair to maintain it in a moisturized state. Rather, I usually only need to apply a little cream moisturizer and an oil to seal a couple of times between weekly wash sessions. Anywho, the potential that my hair was over-moisturized/conditioned seemed strong.

So, what do you do if you are experiencing an excessive amount of breakage and aren’t sure of whether you need moisture or protein? Begin with a wet hair assessment and determine how your hair responds in the normal course of combing or finger-handling.

via The Science of Black Hair

  • (When Wet or Dry) Stretches slightly and returns to its original length without breaking, you are balanced! Stick with maintaining!
  • (When Wet or Dry) Stretches a little more than normal then breaks, you need more protein in your regimen.
  • (When Wet or Dry)Stretches, stretches, stretches with no significant breakage yet, add a bit more protein to your regimen.
  • (Wet)- Feels weak, gummy, mushy, or limp, you need to add more protein to your regimen.
  • (Wet or Dry) Experiences very little to no stretching, and simply snaps or breaks, you need to increase the moisture in your regimen.
  • (Dry) Feels rough, tough, hard, dry, tangly, brittle, or any combination of those, you need more moisture in your regimen.
  • Unsure? Err on the side of caution and give your hair more moisture. So now that you have figured out what type of hair breakage you have, what should you do?

If it turns out that your hair is over-moisturized, a protein treatment is in order. Fortunately, over-conditioned hair is pretty easily corrected with a single protein treatment. The strength of the protein treatment should be determined by the amount of breakage. A heavy duty treatment like the ApHogee 2-Step is recommended for severe breakage, whereas a lighter protein, like the ApHogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor, is recommended for more typical breakage. Heavy duty protein treatments should be followed by a moisturizing conditioner to restore elasticity as protein “hardens” the hair by “patching” gaps in the cuticle. Also, it is usually recommended that they not be performed more than once every six to eight weeks.

Now, on the other hand, if you hair has too much protein, a moisturizing regimen will be necessary. A protein overload is not as easily and quickly remedied as over-moisturized hair and may take several weeks to rectify. If this is the source of your breakage, the following steps are recommended by The Science of Black Hair:

  • Clarify to remove any excess product buildup.
  • Deep condition for 30-45 minutes (with heat) once or twice a week with a thick, creamy moisturizing deep conditioner.
  • Apply a water-based moisturizer to your hair daily, concentrating on the ends.
  • Avoid excess protein in common products like leave-in conditioners, moisturizers, gels, and instant conditioners.

As to my hairstory, I saw a vast improvement after my first protein treatment (which was followed with a moisturizing deep treatment … ummm, why didn’t they say so?). My hair felt harder than normal, but I’ve come to realize that that feeling also signifies resilience and strength and the softness that I thought of as a good thing, was actually too much of one! So, you know, I’m learning to find the balance ;).

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Do you consider the moisture/protein balance in caring for your hair? How do you incorporate it into  your regimen? 

25 Ways to Wear a Scarf

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Last week, Krystal K. (aka Kaligirl1980) shared this awesome video with me, so I had to share it with you!

 

A couple of weeks ago, I hit the Goodwill for some scarfs to try and pull off CurlyNikki’s new favorite hairstyle. But now I’ll need to pick up some larger ones so that I can try to rock some of these fashionable neckwear options!! Loves it!

 

 

 

Operation Blow-Out: Mission Accomplished

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10/3/12: And this is Part II.

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It was a success! At least, in my eyes it was:). I’ll admit, I thought that my hair would be straighter and even contemplated getting my comb attachment with the broken teeth out of the donation bag in the car (hmmm, now that I think about it, pretty sure I threw it in the trash while cleaning the house yesterday. Given its damaged state, that would make sense ;)). However, as this was my first time attempting the tension technique blow-out and I wasn’t going for bone straight … yeah, this will work!!

So, I’ll give you a recap of my prep, which I outlined yesterday in Countdown to a Blow-Out:

  • Cleanse thoroughly with a diluted sulfate shampoo (clarify).
  • Apply ApHogee 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor (strengthen).
  • Deep condition with cool & seal technique (moisture).
  • Thoroughly rinse with cool/cold water.
  • Section hair into 6 sections (2 in back and 1 in front on each side).
  • Apply Roux Fermodyl 619 to each section using spray bottle (porosity corrector/detangler/leave-in).
  • Apply small amount of GVP Potion #9 to each section (moisture and wearable treatment/styler).
  • Apply Aveda Brilliant Damage Control to each section (heat protection).
  • For each of prior 3 steps, comb hair with fingers, then wide tooth comb, then medium tooth comb (detangling).
  • Comb through each section with fine-tooth comb and set hair in 6 twists total.
  • Secure roots with large doobie pins and roll ends on medium/large purple flexi-rods.

After I finished that last step, I tied on a hair net, then a bonnet and hit the sack. I had to drive for about 2 hours to my home office and allowed my twists to dry further during the commute. When I arrived at the office, I pulled them back with a ponytail holder and folded them up into a twisted bun for the workday.

In the evening, I began the blow-out process. My initial plan was to dampen each section with a little more Aveda Damage Control, diluted at a 1:4 ratio with distilled water in a small spray bottle, then blow dry. However, after the first couple of sections, I realized that it was making my hands and hair sticky. So, I just began to dampen my hands with water, smooth them along the section I was working and then blow dry. All in all, I think that the product combination worked very well. The thing with blow-outs and flat-ironing is that I think you almost want your hair to feel naked as oils, butters and creams will weigh it down and make it greasy. My hair felt “clean” of this type of weight and sturdy. I think that I could have gone directly to a pressing comb or flat-iron if it had been my goal to wear my hair straight. And, if I ever want to do that, I will definitely follow all of the steps above and use the same products (with no need for a blow-out). So, that was definitely a learning for me.

Back to the blow-out. I worked my hair in sections using the twists as my guides. I used the concentrator attachment, the medium heat setting and  high speed. I broke each twist into 3 or 4 sections total for the process. Once I dried a couple of sections, I smoothed an itty, bitty smidgen of Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter (CD HHB) down the hair and then moved to the next section. It took me about 2 1/2 hours to finish the blow-out. But, I was stopping to take pictures, flat iron a section, rubber-band sections, etc. I was definitely taking my time. I realized two things as I worked. First, it was better to tilt the concentrator in a downward angle (towards the ends of the hair) while drying as it made the hair lay smoother (versus pointing the concentrator in a straight 90º angle at hair). Second, I realized that I should use the “cool blast” on the dryer after getting hair to the straightness that I wanted, in order to set it.

Now, I’ll give a brief review of the new products, tools and techniques.

Conair Infiniti Tourmaline Ceramic Ionic Styler 223X: I really liked this dryer! It was lightweight and easy to handle. There is nothing worse than a cumbersome hair tool and I didn’t have any problem with maneuvering this dryer. The medium heat setting was warm without being hot. The buttons were secure so that I wasn’t changing settings as I was trying to dry my hair (I had that problem with my old Ion dryer). The location/placement of the “cool shot” button was intuitive, so it was very easy to use. Oh, and did I mention? This dryer has a cord-keeper! So, the majority of the cord whips right on up into the dryer handle, making it a breeze to store without using rubberbands or twistie ties. And, you know how cords become all twisted around other articles or on themselves, damaging the inner wires? Yup, don’t think that will be a problem here! I will say this though, the cord is rather short. So, that might be a concern for some who need more “range of motion” based upon their drying location of choice.

Roux Fermodyl 619, GVP Sebastian Potion #9 and Aveda Brilliant Damage Control : I grouped these all together as I can’t really differentiate too much between what did what. So, I will defer to MopTopMaven’s previously proffered explanation of each product’s benefits as she outlined here. I used them in the same order that she did and as I’ve listed them here. I used one vial of the Fermodyle 619 and then applied a hazelnut-sized dot of the GVP Potion #9 to each of the 6 twists. Finally, I sprayed about 5-6 spritzes of the Aveda Damage Control on each section. So, although this may seem like a lot of product, it really wasn’t. I made sure not to go heavy on anything, which is why I combed through each product, to ensure more even and thorough distribution. Again, my hair felt clean, crisp and sturdy during the blow-out process. It wasn’t gunky when dried and my hair was “floaty.” I think I would have gotten very nice results if I’d gone directly to flat-ironing my hair with these products. However, as that wasn’t the plan, I blow dried and then added the smallest amount of CD’s HHB, to smooth it and provide the tiniest bit of moisture, making certain not to overdo it. As I’m getting my hair twisted, I know it has to feel pretty product-less and that was what I was going for here and believe I achieved.

Conair Ceramic Comb: So, I got this comb to round out the ceramic tools;). The medium-tooth side and parter tooth worked great. The fine-tooth side? Not so much. But, that was okay as I had my rattail comb that worked very well to finish the job.

Tension method: I don’t believe I perfected this ;), however it turned out pretty nicely for my first go at it, I think. I do know that despite the fact that the technique involves the word tension, it caused far less of that on my hair than the comb attachment would have. I was pleased that the only hair that I seemed to lose appeared to be shed hair. I was also satisfied that it was a pretty easy process. It was time-consuming, but I think that was only because it was my first time and I  was doing other things. I definitely don’t think that it would take any longer than using the comb attachment for someone who’s done it a few times. So, the tension method gets the thumbs up!

To wrap this up, I put a few drops of my Essential Oil Mix on my fingertips and massaged it into my scalp. Then, I put my hair into one big braid down the back (secured at the end with a silicone elastic) and donned one of my satin scarfs to hit the sack.

Welp, that’s it! I’ll share a few more pics of the finished blow-out … and a pic of a section that I carefully flat-ironed to see the “true” length.

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I really do feel rewarded for my diligence, because this is the longest that my hair has ever been in my life. And, to tell you the truth, it’s really not all that hard or time-consuming. I spend far more time working on the blog then I do on my hair. However, that being said, I can NOT wait for Wednesday. Why? Because I’ll be in a full set of Afro puffy twists, which will make my day to day styling so much easier … no bad hair days! No wet twists! No failed TnCs. Yea! Just ready for a little break! But don’t worry, I’ll still be playing around with styles and will be doing a post on winter protective styling options and care tips too! Check ya lata gatas!!

2 1/2 Days Left for Deals!

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November is almost over! So, if you haven’t done so already, don’t miss your opportunity to take advantage  of this month’s giveaway and discounts!

Click here for details on how you can enter to win a  Wonder Curl sampler kit, which includes my TnC staple, Butter Than Love!

Click here for a special 10% off discount code for the Etsy shop, Threadmill.

Click here for a special 20% off discount code for Doris New York.

What great Christmas gifts for family and friends … or better yet, yourself ;)!!

Bohemian Dutch & Fishtail Braided Style (Video)

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I promised that I’d be back with a video tutorial of this style, so here it is! Hope that you like it! Please be forgiving of the editing as it was my first time using iMovie  and I tried three new things: adding pics to the video, merging two videos and fast forwarding (with muting)! I need to learn how to add music to the fast forwarded sections and I probably should have put pictures of the finished style at the end too, but overall, I’m very proud of my efforts:)!  If you enjoy the tutorial, please “like” it and/or comment to let me know that all my hard work wasn’t for naught ;)! Thank you!

Oh, and if you still want me to do a video of the other style pictured here, just let me know in the comments. There’s a disclaimer though, I might have to do it on Afro puffy twists! 

Countdown to a Blow-Out

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10/3/12: As we just entered the fall season, I’ve been contemplating straightening my hair more and more. Still not there, especially as it’s been so overcast. But, I figure some of you may be contemplating the same thing. So, here is Part I or two posts that I did last fall when I decided to blow-out my hair.

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I was a busy little bee this weekend, hitting three different stores (one twice), in order to get the items I needed for my impending blow-out. I made the appointment for my Afro puffy twists for this week and I was finally faced with the fact that I needed to make some decisions about my hair prep. I read CurlyNikki’s post on Flat Ironing Tips and recognized the importance of the right products, good techniques and the proper tools. I’d been ruminating over what heat protectant to use and whether I would use a blow dryer, use a comb attachment, try the tension method, braid, twist or attempt a roller set to stretch … decisions, decisions! The initial plan was to use the ElastaQP Silk Design Silk Thermal Styling Spray I already have under the sink and the Ion blow dryer and a comb attachment that I haven’t used since President Obama was inaugurated three years ago! However, as I thought about it and how I’m so much more aware of the potential for heat damage and have so many resources at my fingertips, I realized that I could do better.

So, I proceeded to do some research while standing in Harmon in front of 4 shelves full of hair dryers (I know you shouldn’t love an inanimate object. I know this. But, I love my iPhone). I googled my Ion blow dryer because I had no memory of whether it was tourmaline or ceramic or ionic (Ion … yeah, probably that last one) or some combination thereof. Well, in my search, I came across this very informative (though somewhat discouraging) article on the “benefits” of “hi-tech” hair dryers:

via Consumer Search:

Today’s blowers offer a bounty of options, all promising softer, shiner, healthier hair. It’s hard to find a hair dryer without the words “ceramic,” “ionic” or “tourmaline” in the name, but critics are unsure whether these features actually make for a better dryer or not.

Ionic hair dryers emit molecules with a positive or negative charge to dry hair. Instead of taking the air from a room and heating it like old-school hair dryers, ionic products use negative ions to shrink water droplets in the hair. Manufacturers say this helps wet hair dry faster with less heat damage — making for a smoother and shinier mane. Unfortunately, the science behind the claims is sketchy. There’s “little science to either prove or disprove this claim,” says Bill Nazaroff, professor of environmental engineering at the University of California at Berkeley, in a Wall Street Journal article.

The article goes on to say that though manufacturers tout that dryers using ceramic, ionic or tourmaline technologies result in speedier drying times, shinier hair and less heat damage, there isn’t much scientific evidence to support these claims. Regardless, and helpfully, the article didn’t discount these features entirely. Rather, additional research was conducted based upon professional and consumer reviews found via various sources. This information was used to compile a list of the Best Hair Dryers with these “high tech features” and ranked them from the most economical choices to the more expensive:

  1. Revlon RV544 Tourmaline Ionic hair dryer (Approx. $20)
  2. Conair Infiniti Tourmaline Ceramic Ionic Styler 223X (Approx. $35)
  3. Conair Infiniti Professional Tourmaline Ceramic Ionic Styler 213X (Approx. $35)
  4. T3 Tourmaline Professional Featherweight(Approx. $175)
  5. Featherweight Luxe (Approx. $250)
  6. CHI Rocket Professional (Approx. $135)
  7. CHI Nano Dual Air Flow Ceramic (Approx. $140)
  8. Elchim 2001 Professional(Approx. $120)
  9. Sedu Ultrapower Professional (Approx. $150)

The awesome, but horrible thing? Almost every single one of these dryers was on the shelves at Harmon!! LOL! Ultimately, I decided on #2 as it was very reasonably priced, apparently effective and I liked the style. Consumer Search had this to say about it:

The … Conair Infiniti Tourmaline Ceramic Ionic Styler 223X has been named an InStyle Magazine Best Beauty Buy three years in a row (though we aren’t sure what criteria are used in awarding that status). It offers some of the same features found in many higher-priced blow dryers. It includes three heat settings and two speed settings as well as a cool-shot button; a soft finger diffuser, which allows you to get closer to the scalp for better hair-sculpting control; and a concentrator attachment, which is designed to direct airflow for styling purposes. The Conair 223X also has a removable filter to prevent lint build-up and comes with a three-year limited warranty.

The reason that I was at one store twice? I ran home to get about four 20% off coupons for Bed, Bath and Beyond (you can use these at Harmon!!) and one $5 coupon for Harmon as I was having a PJ moment and picked up several hair and make-up items too (you can thank ShamIAmGlam for fanning the make-up PJ flames;).

Ultimately, I only paid $28 (plus tax) for the dryer. Score!! I also picked up the “ionic” comb as I needed a medium-tooth comb for detangling. So, what was next? Research on a good heat protectant. Again, I was initially planning on using the ElastaQP Thermal Design Spray that I already owned and some grapeseed oil, which some tout as a natural heat protectant because it can sustain heat up to 420°. Then, I thought about someone who regularly rocked gorgeous straight hair during the winter. MopTopMaven!! I remember reading several posts from her last year and commenced to searching. I came across four really good articles that she did on straightening hair and one that was specific to blow drying natural hair.

via MopTopMaven:

Going Straight for Winter

6 Techniques for Easy Breezy Blow Drying

How to Prevent/Recover from Heat Damage

Help My Pressed Hair Never Stays Straight

As the search for a good heat protectant was what prompted my search, I was particularly interested in Mop Top Maven’s recommendation on this front. I hit pay dirt with her article, Going Straight for Winter, as she outlined every product in her straight hair regimen. When I read that she loved Aveda Brilliant Damage Control as her heat protectant, I knew that was it as I always read great things about this line and knew of a local salon that carries it. So I headed over and picked it up … along with the CurlyNikki approved Brilliant Anti-Humectant Pomade (I couldn’t resist even though I’ll have no use for it until Spring!!).

Back to the product search. Also in MopTopMaven’s straight hair product line-up were Fermodyl 619 (leave-in) and Sebastian Potion #9 (leave-in/styler). I decided to hit Sally’s as I knew that they had a GVP version of Potion #9 and thought that I’d seen the Fermodyl there before as well. Sure enough, I hit the mother-load here too and picked up both items.

So now, I feel that I am thoroughly prepared with both products, techniques and tools. My blow-out regimen will be as follows:

  • Cleanse thoroughly with a diluted sulfate shampoo (clarify).
  • Apply ApHogee 2 Minute Keratin Reconstructor (strengthen).
  • Deep condition with cool & seal technique (moisture).
  • Thoroughly rinse with cool/cold water.
  • Section hair into 6 sections (2 in back and 1 in front on each side).
  • Apply Roux Fermodyl 619 to each section using spray bottle (porosity corrector/detangler/leave-in).
  • Apply small amount of GVP Potion #9 to each section (moisture and wearable treatment/styler).
  • Apply Aveda Brilliant Damage Control to each section (heat protection).
  • For each of prior 3 steps, comb hair with fingers, then wide tooth comb, then medium tooth comb (detangling).
  • Comb through each section with fine-tooth comb and set hair in 6 twists total.
  • Secure roots with large doobie pins and roll ends on medium/large purple flexi-rods.
  • Use tension method to blow dry hair to stretched state.

I plan on doing this over the course of two days and completed all but the last step on Sunday night. I may have to dampen my hair slightly to do a blow-out to stretch it further. However, knowing my hair, it might not be entirely dry, even after a full 24 hours! So, we’ll see if the wetting step is necessary.

And that’s that. It was a lot of research and store hopping, but I feel a lot more confident that I can do this without causing appreciable heat or manipulation damage. I’ll keep you all apprised of the final results and will have those product reviews for you too! Go team natural ;)!!

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How do you protect your hair during heat styling? What products, techniques and tools do you use?

Fabulous Skirts and Fierce Shoes?!

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What more could a girl want?!?! I know that this is a little late notice, but if you’re in the NJ/NY area, come see where fairytale skirts marry Cinderella shoes!! Hope to see a few of you there!!

p.s. Sofistafunk is offering ‎”Black Friday” discounts today as listed in the flyer immediately above and on “Small Business Saturday” with prices starting at $45.00 and up to 50% off Signature Skirts!

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

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This was the first episode that I ever saw of Friends (which happened to be a Thanksgiving episode) and I’ve been hooked ever since!

If you never watched the show, sorry, guess you had to be there! LOL!

Wishing you all a wonderful Turkey Day filled with fun, food, family and friends!!! And …

THANK YOU!!!!

(for your readership, your kind words, your encouragement and your support)

I’m thankful for many things, including all of you, every day!!

Now, I’m going to go stuff my face! Smooches ;)!!