life | unapologetic | growth | great to be here


(By definition) The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the CAPACITY for growth, REPRODUCTION, FUNCTIONAL activity and CONTINUAL change preceding DEATH.

For the past year, my life has been happening. I have contemplated returning to blogging so many times over the year because I miss this creative outlet so dearly. However, I needed space and time away to grow, learn, and discover who I am at this stage of life rather than trying to please and meet the expectations of everyone else around me. In other words, I wanted to learn how to be free in my creative expressions and who I am before even publishing a new post on Beautifully Curled.

I am refreshed. I am vulnerable. I am freer. Here I am.

To recap my time away...

*Z has transitioned from a curious, quirky, "mismatchy", and energetic first grader into an insanely inquisitive and imaginative, witty, and FASHION conscious second grader starting on Monday. 

*I have completed four more classes toward my prerequisites for graduate school with A's. I have definitely reunited my love for hard core sciences and developed a new respect for the social sciences. One more prerequisite to go!

*My husband has completed his gruesome last year of his nursing program and graduated with two degrees this past May (Nursing and Spanish). He's currently prepping for his board exam. It is so nice to have him back apart from the time suck of school and 12-hour clinicals. This past spring was extremely taxing on all of us mentally and physically but God carried us through to the very end. 

*I am currently serving as a vessel to another seed to hopefully grace our family by the end of January 2017 (yes, I am pregnant!). #teammindblowing

*Hair related: we have so fallen off track. I have trimmed Z's hair several times over the year and I have been down right abusive to my hair for reasons I will explain later. No need to whine about it. Just going to pick up and move forward with better practises.

This is only a tiny glimpse of my major happenings. So many transitions are currently in progress as I type. The biggest transition to date however is the one that has been occurring mentally:

*As I move through my 34th year of life, I am gradually reaching a level where it is okay to be uncertain about where life takes me. I am tired of the constant control, micromanagement of every small detail, and pull to do things that are not beneficial to my growth as an individual. 

*I am okay with not knowing all the answers and directions (which is an unrealistic expectation in the first place).

*I am okay with failing as long as I am still learning (being fearful of failing is such a dangerous state of mind to be in (from personal experience)). 

*I am more comfortable of trying new things outside my comfort zone even if it does not make sense. Go hard or go home, right? What's there to lose in a life that is already so short?

I can go on, but I will say that I am excited to be here, right now, with a clearer mind. Free in this moment. Unapologetically. 

Ah...oh how I miss this...

I look forward to catching up on some of my favorite bloggers to see where life has taken them on their journeys since I last left off here. 

To all who are reading, I do pray for your own freedom to be YOU if you are struggling with that concept now. You are beautiful. You are here. You are alive. You have purpose. So go and live it out FULLY.

I will be back. Soon...::hugs::

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my first attempt | marley/havana twists | the process | pic heavy

The Motivation:

School is right around the corner for all three of us. Schedules are about to become super hectic. I have a full plate ahead of me. 

Therefore, I finally caved.

I installed my first set of marley twists. On a whim especially after seeing Jen's set {from Just Grow Already). And I love how my twists came out albeit with many imperfections.

Last year was the year of the yarn wraps. As gruesome as it was to install yarn wraps (20+ hours the first time), I enjoyed the styling break thoroughly. With this in mind, I knew the marley twists could not be any worse since I am twisting much bigger sections.

And was I correct! I installed this set in 9 hours.

I posted several pictures on Instagram but wanted to share in more details the process of my first attempt install here on the blog.

The Initial Research:

Just like I did with the yarn wraps, I watched several YouTube tutorials to get a better idea of the process. From there, I learned about:
  • the invisible root method versus the "braid at the root and then twist" method
  • lightly combing out the marley hair and tapering the ends to eliminate the blunt/bulky look at the ends
  • the rope twist method {roll the two individual strands in the same direction and then twist them in the opposite direction}
  • dipping the ends in hot boiling water, curling them, and burning them (I did none of these)
  • adding gel to help the natural hair to blend into the marley hair and to help smooth down the marley hair
  • clipping away strays near the bottom of the twists (I did not do)
The Hair Prep:

After watching the videos, I went straight into prepping my hair. I intend to keep these in for a month with a perimeter redo around the halfway mark. Therefore, I wanted my hair to be super clean, strengthened, and conditioned before getting started. I did the following:

  • Shampooed: SheaMoisture JBCO Shampoo (1 oz diluted in 7 oz of water in applicator bottle)
  • Protein Treated: Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor
  • Deep Conditioned: SheaMoisture Superfruit Complex 10 in 1 Masque (used HotHead heat cap for 30 minutes)
  • Moisturized: Coconut Oil and SheaMoisture JBCO Leave-in
  • Styled: Used 5 packs of Femi Collection hair (@ $5,99/pack in 1B) + Aloe Vera gel + water as needed to lightly dampen sections

The Femi Collection hair matched my own hair almost exactly in color and curl pattern. I initially was going to use the Janet Noir Marley Collection, but the store only had one more pack of 1B. Upon comparing textures, I found that the Femi Collection hair has a softer (only slightly) feel than the Janet brand. Here's a close up of the hair:

The Process:

Before I washed my hair, I was wearing a chunky twist updo and twist out.

After cleansing, conditioning, and moisturizing my hair, I was set to start. I wanted rather larger parts/twists to cut down on styling time. Initially, I was using 3 clusters of marley hair at the back of my head, but halfway through, I transitioned to 2 clusters. They were getting too big for my liking, and I did not want to have to make another trip to the beauty store for more hair. 

As I did more and more twists, I got a better grip of the rope twisting method. Therefore, the twists on the top half are tighter than the bottom half of my head. At the end of the day, I have all kinds of sizes going on and plan to embrace each and every one of them. I will say I gained a better handle on the invisible root method, and prefer the two strand twist size over the three strand.

Showing the difference between a rope twist and regular twist. (Don't know why the picture color is off...) I re-twisted a few twists already:

Finally done!

The Maintenance:

The plan is to keep it simple. I added aloe vera juice and distilled water to some SM Hold and Shine spray to stretch out the quarter bit that was left in the bottle. I will be moisturizing my hair with this nightly:

If I decide I need a cleaning at the half way mark (two weeks), I will cleanse my scalp only with diluted shampoo via an applicator bottle. 

The Styling:

Where this would be the most fun part of the process for many, I simply prefer to wear a high bun on the top of my head. Nothing more, nothing less. This style is mainly for practical purposes over styling. These twists are sooooo long so I doubt I would wear them down for too long. Since there is so much hair, it took a little work to get all of it into a high bun. Nevertheless, it is been done.

My Final Thoughts:

I love this style! I have always been a big fan of twists so this style is right up my alley. The invisible root method really gives the illusion of the twists coming straight from the scalp although it took me many tries to get comfortable with the technique especially in the back.

Unlike the yarn wraps, re-doing the edges of my head should not be time consuming. I am thinking between 45 mins -1 hour tops. I will say that I must be mindful of keeping my hair moisturized regularly since my hair is much more exposed in the marley twists compared to yarn wraps where my hair was completely protected from the outside elements. 

If I was to do these differently next time, I will do slightly bigger sections and somehow make them a couple inches shorter than waist length so I can enjoy the style down more. Oh, and maybe add a highlight or two (or more) in the mix. :-) This style gets an A+ simply on styling time alone. I am sure next time, I can repeat it in under 6 hours.

I will post any style updates on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. If you have any questions or would like to share your experience with marley/havana twists, leave a comment below. 

The Wash Day Experience

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the lost style files | the easy tuck and roll

A style for the time when you are not up to twisting but want to protect those ends. I wore this style a few weeks ago and found it easy to do. The steps:

  • On damp, co-washed hair, I moisturized and sealed my hair with SM JBCO Leave-in and coconut oil.
  • Made a part down the middle of my head. 
  • Sectioned off an area of hair in the front to create a side flat twist at the end of styling. 
  • Added a generous amount of flaxseed gel around the edges before rolling and tucking. 
  • Starting on the left section near the front, I began rolling the hair up and in, gradually securing it with pins as I moved toward the nape of my neck. 
  • Once I reached the nape, I continued to roll the section of hair until it rolled up onto itself (kind of like a super huge bantu knot). 
  • Pinned the rolled section of hair down to the scalp, making sure the ends are hidden away. 
  • Repeated on the right side. 
  • I loosely flat twisted the hair at the front of my head and pinned it into the roll on the right.
  • Tied my hair down overnight to set and smooth down my edges.

I did learn something as I was doing this style. I suck at bobby pinning. I had to remove some and re-pin them several times to get a nice secure hold. Although this can be considered a protective style, care must be implemented to not create too much tension around the edges from tight rolling or poorly placed hair pins. Other than that, this tuck and roll is a simple style when on a time crunch. Setting the hair overnight does make a nice, sleeker difference. :-)
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the cross over updo + a slight bang modification

Rarely do I ever have an idea on how I will style my twists into a style until the opportunity arises, but this cross over updo was envisioned the day before I actually styled my hair. The steps behind achieving this style were simple:

  • Starting at the nape, take a few twists on one side (left), and cross them over to the opposite side (right). Secure with a pin. 
  • Take a few twists from the other side (right), and cross them over to the opposite side (left). Secure with a pin.
  • Moving right above the first two sections, take some twists from the left side. Cross them over to the opposite side (right), and pin. Repeat from the right side.
  • Continue this pattern until you are out of twists (or until you reach your bang section). Use extra pins to tuck away any ends that may be exposed.
  • Note: I had my head tilted somewhat upside down for the initial cross over sections.
  • For the bang, I added four twists and pinned two down on each side to keep them stretched overnight. I covered my hair with a satin bonnet.
  • In the morning, I untwisted the four twists and fluffed them just a little for some volume.
This style was done on slightly damp hair to allow for a good set overnight.

Then the bangs became a bit much on my forehead at the end of day 1. The humidity did not make things any better so I created a pompadour to get the hair off my face and out the way.

For several days in a row, I wore my hair just like this...

...and then I took the twists down to wear my hair into a twist out. I really enjoyed the second look. Very retro-ish from the side. :-)
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the lost style files | updated scalloped box braids on z

After some back to back fiascoes with Z's hair and the pool {as mentioned previously}, I gave up on twisting for awhile and discovered a new found love for box braids. She wore her first set for almost 10 days before I re-did them again last Monday. The removal of braids can be tedious but detangling and removing shed hair was a breeze. I used the same parting so that cut down on the re-styling time and moisturized her hair with water and SM JBCO Leave-in.

She wore this style for another week and a half until I took them down this past week to wash her hair. She liked the option of wearing her braids into a low ponytail or a high bun. Being able to swing her length was a nice (and noisy--from the barrettes) incentive. I think I will be incorporating box braids more into the styling routine as Z proceeds into 1st grade this upcoming school year.

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