30 days to go (August 5, 2010)

This post was originally scheduled to post on August 5, 2010.

Getting the final details planned and coordinated for our wedding was insane! There were so many things that I let slide to the side… one of those things was this blog.

I had been working on this entry that was to be dated for early August – unfortunately life threw me a few curve balls and I had to focus.

I have 30 days to go! My fiancé and I are marrying on September 4, 2010 and I need to put my final touches on everything.

While I still have a TON of things to do regarding the wedding details and production (which is what a wedding is), I’m also trying to streamline my beauty and workout routine to get the most out of my 30 days left. I’m going to try to update this for 20 days and 10 days left, too.

The first thing I did is create a list (I’m a little anal, lol) of the things I want to get accomplished for my last 30 days. This list does NOT include stuff like body waxing which I consider extra or normal daily routines like facial cleansings. This is just what I do to get myself ready for the wedding.

I broke my list down into daily, every other day, and weekly. If you create a list you might want to do something different.

Daily List
8 Minute Abs 
30 Day Shred Lvl 2 
Shoulder/Arm Exercises 
Moisturize/Oil Cuticles 
Take Biotin & Prenatal Vitamins 
Bleach Teeth 
Corn Huskers w/socks for feet 
Moisturize Hair 

Every Other Day
Shave (legs, etc) 
Full Body Scrub 
Facial Scrub 
Paint Nails w/hardener 
Pumice Stone for feet 

Wash Hair 
Deep Condition hair 
Manicure 
Pedicure 
Run/Walk 2 Miles 

My Hair Care Regimen (Caution! This is for people with mature – at least 2+ years – locks. If your dreadlocks are not mature, constant conditioning can unravel your locks by over softening)

I try to moisturize my hair on a regular basis. I’m going to wash, maintain, and set my hair myself for the wedding while my friend and stylist Glenda is going to style my hair. The product I use the most to moisturize my hair currently is Miss Jessie’s Curly Buttercreme. I also love her Rapid Recovery Treatment conditioner. I’ve really got to do reviews on both of those!

Miss Jessie's Curly Buttercreme

Miss Jessie's Rapid Recovery Treatment

I love to wash my hair with Carol’s Daughter’s Rosemary Mint Shampoo, apply conditioner and then rinse. I then do a deep condition with Miss Jessie’s Rapid Recovery Treatment by completely coating my hair, wrapping my hair up with saran wrap, wrapping a small damp towel around that and sitting under a hood dryer for about 1 hour (I’m going to write a post on this process with pictures later).

After I’m done rising out the deep conditioner, I oil my hair lightly with Orofluido Oil and then begin maintenance with Miss Jessie’s Curly Buttercreme. Let dry straight or set and go.

My Exercise Routine

I fully believe that every person needs a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day just to maintain current weight. In order to lose weight, I had to ramp that up a little bit. I need to get about ½” off of my waist for the dress so I can breathe, so… (Update – stress and my crazy workout schedule helped me to lose that extra ½”)

I start with Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred (early mornings, before work). I picked up my copy of the 30DS from Target, but you can also get one at amazon.com for $8.99. I know that everyone has their own weight loss video that they swear by, but I have to say that Jillian gets results. The 30 Day Shred has 3 different levels: 1, 2, and 3. All three levels have someone you can follow in the “easy,” “normal,” and “advanced” difficulties. I started on level 1 and worked my way up to level 2. I don’t think I will make it to level 3 but I’m going to try. (Update: I have tried level 3 several times now – it’s a butt kicker but I did it! I’m more partial to level 2)

Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred

In addition to the 30 Day Shred, I also do 8 Minute Abs. This is an old, old DVD so I’m not always sure of availability. We picked up a copy for $5.00 but I haven’t been able to locate that deal again. It is available at Amazon as well as on YouTube. It is a very simple 8 minute workout for abs and I love it! I don’t always get both workouts in before work, but I do try. Recently, I’ve been slacking off so I’m about to get “Gazelle Intense” on this workout.

8 Minute Abs

I also have a set of arm and shoulder exercises that I do. They are great for toning but they are actually for physical therapy for a neck problem I have. There is one that I really recommend for arms, however. Clueless to the name but here’s the instructions: take a tension band (I’m using yellow) and put a knot in the middle, making two bands. Place the middle knot in a door jamb to secure it at about eye level. Grab both ends of the bands, pulling until you create some tension. Put your arms by your sides in a reverse 90 degree angle (make an “L”), holding your bands in your hands – your hands are like fists. Pull downward on the bands until your arms are straight. Release the tension slowly, bringing your arms back to “L” position. Repeat. I usually do about 30 of these (3 reps of 10).

Nail Care
In the past, I’ve tried both acrylic and gel nails and overlays to have long strong nails. As time went past I realized that the cost and damage associated with these types of procedures turned me off. Typically a full set can run anywhere from $25 – $50 and a fill-in can cost $10-$25 (or more!). This cost repeats itself every TWO WEEKS. If you average the cost out to be $25 per each time – at 26 weeks a year (52/2) you are spending about $650 a year. Wow. Not worth it in my book. In addition to the cost you have to add in the damage that is done to the nail bed due to all the filing and chemicals and lack of air to the nail.

I decided to NOT go down that path. I keep my nails very simply. I try to give myself a home manicure once a week (see my articles on manicures). My nails have a tendency to split and break, so I take prenatal vitamins as well as 1200mcg of Biotin daily. If you want to know more about Biotin, I have an entry about Biotin as well.

In addition to the vitamins, I also try to take good care of my cuticles, too. The major cause of hang nails is dry cuticles. I try to lotion my hands often and apply a cuticle oil at least once a day. If you don’t have a specific cuticle oil, Vitamin E oil works great, too (pure if possible, I get mine from CVS in the medicine section). I like to lotion my hands, use some creamy lotion, push back my cuticles, and then oil my cuticles. When I do this on a consistent basis, I never have hangnails. If I miss more than 3-5 days, hangnails start to appear.

Another thing I do for nail strength is nail polish. I try to paint my nails with a thin coat of clear at least every other day. Of course, I remove the polish weekly, but the coats of polish are great for maintaining strength. A lot of people prefer color, I prefer clear. As an FYI – very dark colors like reds stain the nail after a period of time. ALWAYS USE A BOTTOM COAT, especially with color polishes.

For my feet, I pretty much have the same procedure. In fact, I need to work on my pedicures soon, too. In addition to a regular foot bath I also have a paraffin wax bath [insert link] that is lovely!!! In addition to using the paraffin wax bath, I also like to coat my feet in a layer of Corn Husker’s Lotion before putting on my socks in the morning (and evening if I can remember).

Corn Huskers Lotion

Corn Husker’s Lotion is an old, old treatment for people who do hard work with their hands (i.e. husking corn). It really helps to soften the foot. If you have the patience, wrap your foot in plastic before putting on socks – it will make your feel extra soft! (Update: After all the hard work I did with my feet, when I went to get a pedicure the nail tech destroyed my toes using those damn electric files! She cut into my cuticle and it took weeks to completely heal.)

Grooms Gifts – ManGrate vs. GrillGrate vs. Char-Griller: The Grill Off!

I only have a month left to go and I still have no idea what to give my groom. 😦 I’ve looked at several different things that I thought would be cool, but so far, not so good.

I took a few moments to try to figure out: What kind of things do ALL guys like? I decided that if I could figure that out, I could narrow the field down to specifically what MY guy would like. I went all around the mulberry bush and ended up at grills again. My fiancé loves to grill but told me he doesn’t want a new grill until we buy a house.

“This, child, is fire. It is what separates the men from the girls.” My fiancé speaking to a friends’ child.

I was really in a quandary when I heard an advertisement for grates that go on a grill. The whole idea this grate is that the reason that steaks and other meats taste differently in a restaurant than they do at home – due to different cooking utensils/actions/cook top. The reasoning given to the potential customer of the grates is that if the customer bought a grate, then they would be able to cook steaks and other meats like a pro. Once you buy the grate, you place in ON TOP of the grate that your grill came with. I decided it was worth some research and found THREE different types of grates! I found ManGrate, GrillGrate, and the cast iron grate by Char-Griller.

I’m not going to dither, I was(am!) overwhelmed by the options.

ManGrate is a cast iron grate. Being made from cast iron, it DOES need to be seasoned before use. It also claims to have “grease gutters” that catch and hold grease from the cooking meat, stopping flare ups. The ManGrate is the most expensive of the three grates.

The one thing I LOVE about the ManGrate is that it is an American made product.
The one thing I HATE about the ManGrate is it’s silly name. I mean, really.

From the ManGrate website:

Grill juicy, perfectly cooked steak, poultry and fish. ManGrates sear meats and vegetables with restaurant
signature grill marks for a professional look and taste.

Even Heat, Reduced Flair Ups!
ManGrate’s cast-iron design utilizes radiant heat – instead of convection heat or “hot air” – searing in the juices
but allowing the meats to cook evenly. The smoke rails are the angled ledges on each bar of the ManGrate.
These ledges are designed to trap and retain oils and fats released during grilling, and it’s these juices aid
in the natural smoking process, giving meats a rich, barbequed flavor. They also serve to reduce flair ups.

Easy Cleaning!
All you need to care for your ManGrates is a ManBrush and spray cooking oil. Clean off ManGrates before grilling,
spray evenly and thoroughly. After grilling, allow ManGrates to cool, brush clean, oil and close grill lid.
Your ManGrates will season over time; a well-seasoned ManGrate naturally resists rust and creates a virtually
non-stick grilling surface.

ManGrate’s American-Made, heavy-duty, cast-iron design is virtually indestructible and if well cared for, can last a lifetime. ManGrates can be transferred to any grill you may ever own. Each ManGrate measures 15″ long x 4 1/4″ wide x 1 3/8″ high. A pair of ManGrates covers 15″ x 8 1/2.”


ManGrate $89.99 (4)

One ManGrate is $25.00
Two ManGrates are $65.00 and they come with a ManBrush
Four ManGrates are $89.99 and they come with a ManBrush
The ManBrush by itself is $15.00

GrillGrate is an aircraft grade aluminum grate. It has interlocking rails so that the individual grates can be locked together into one grate. I’m sure this is very helpful when grilling. Since the GrillGrate is made of aluminum instead of cast iron, it does not need to be seasoned but it does say it is hard anodized (anodizing involves immersing aluminum in a bath of sulfuric acid, called an electrolyte, and running a low-voltage electric current through the acid solution. If the acid solution is cooled to the freezing point of water and the amount of electric current increased substantially, however, the process is called hard anodizing.). The GrillGrate is designed to let the grease drip into the grill through holes in the grate itself.

GrillGrate is also made in the good old USA. GrillGrate also received an award for the Top New Product 2009 from the National Barbecue Association, the “Hot Stuff 2009” award from amazingribs.com, the Best New BBQ Accessory 2009 award from Hearth & Home Magazine, and the Favorite Find Award from Good Housekeeping Research Institute.

GrillGrate is also cheaper and lighter (which means more portable) than ManGrate.

From the GrillGrate website:
Interlocking Raised Rail Panels Create a New Grilling Surface On Any Grill
• GrillGrate panels are 5.25″ wide x 13.75″ long, constructed of aircraft grade aluminum
• Hard Anodizing creates an ultra-hard surface for easy cleaning with a grill brush. Anodizing is harder than stainless steel and it will never rust.
• Clean hot GrillGrates in the traditional manner with a wire grill brush during warm up. Use a bit of water on the brush or sprayed on the GrillGrates for steam cleaning. Periodic cleaning in the sink will keep the searing surface of the raised rails perfectly clean.
• OK for open flame & camp fire grilling Grill Temps 1000F+
• GrillGrate panels eliminate flare-ups and act as a heat shield to protect foods from burning and drying out.
• Juices sizzle in the valleys and steam back up into the food for juicier more flavorful grilled foods.
• The raised rail design delivers perfect sear marks every time
• Grilling is healthier as fats drip through the holes and burn up on the bottom of the GrillGrate not on the outside of your food. Charring is also prevented.
• The GrateTool coupled with the raised rail design make it much easier to grill and handle fish, vegetables and pizza.
• GrillGrates smooth out grill hot spots for more even cooking.
• The hard anodized panels provide enhanced cooking via conduction, convection and infrared.
• hard anodized finish is 2x harder than stainless steel and will never rust.
• GrillGrates season with use.
• Easy to wipe clean on the grill or in the sink with sponge or brillo.

GrillGrate $39.99 (2)

One GrillGrate is $15.99
Two GrillGrates are $39.99 and come with a “Grate Tool”
Three GrillGrates are $54.99 and come with a “Grate Tool”
Four GrillGrates are $69.99 and come with a “Grate Tool”

The Cast Iron Grate by Char-Griller is similar to the ManGrate in that both are made with cast iron and both need to be seasoned before use. That is where the similarities stop, however. Unlike ManGrate and GrillGrate, Char-Griller is NOT trying to sell you grates to go on your grill. Char-Griller is a grill company that sells a wide variety of top of the line grills, char-grills, and smokers for your outdoor pleasure. Since Char-Griller is a total grill company, they sell their cast iron grate as an replacement piece for their grills. This means that the cast iron grate by Char-Griller is SIGNIFICANTLY less expensive than either the ManGrate or the GrillGrate.

The cast iron grate does not come with extra instructions or comments. It doesn’t come with special guarantees or anything of that nature. I think it is fully expected that if you buy this grate you already KNOW what you’re doing.

That makes me like this grate a lot. My fiancé is a typical man – he never reads directions, lol.

Cast Iron Grate - Char-Griller $8.99

One Cast Iron Grate is $8.99.

My man would LOVE that price. I think we’ve found a winner!

Groom’s Gifts – Custom Action Figures

Well, I’ve struck out with my Groom’s Gifts ideas so far. But since I’ve got wedding wire, I’ve got another idea, lol! I got a great idea from a bride on WW but the bad part about this idea is that I already know it’s not going to work. I know it’s not going to work since it doesn’t fit into my major parameters for a fiancé gift: unique, useable, and loveable. It IS unique – but the other two? Maybe it’ll work for some other bride…

This week’s Groom’s Gift idea: the customizable action figure!

It’s really cool, to be honest. The website That’s My Face allows you to create custom action figures. The options are amazing and wide-ranging. What you do is give ThatsMyFace.com a picture of your loved one. What you get is a pre-designed action figure (options available) and the head looks just like them! It also comes with clothing and any weapons or supplies that are typical for the outfit the figure is wearing.

There are options for a 4” action figure, a 6” action figure and a 12” action figure.

A 4” action figure (currently) starts at $79.99. There is a $30 additional fee if you want your figure to be “African American.” There is one figure named “Big Black” that I think my fiancé would love. Since the figure starts as black I’m assuming there is no additional skin color fee (how ironic is that??). Now to add hair. Bald figures have no additional fee, but if you want sculpted hair (think Ken Doll) then there is a $10 fee. If you want wig hair there is a $30 fee. The major issue is that there is a $150 fee for any hairstyle they don’t have as “stock.” Guess what isn’t “stock?” That’s right, dreadlocks 😦

My man keeps his hair cut short so I guess I could do it as a baldie. That would make Big Black $79.99 plus shipping and handling for me.

Big Black with weapons - $79.99

Knowing my man, he’d want something a little different – 4” is pretty small.

The 6” action figure currently starts at $99.00. There are none that start as black.

moveable parts details

The 12” action figure starts at $129.00 but that’s more like it! I would want that one for my baby.

There is a special 12” figure called “Custom Plus Male” that starts at $160.00. It’s totally custom except for tailored clothes and tattoos. I know that my fiancé would like to have his figure bristling with guns and wearing all black. Since it is custom PLUS (lol) you can pick any military uniform during any time period and it comes with weapons or whatever is specific to that uniform. This one, I love. It’d be great for my fiancé and for my brother as gifts. It takes an average of 14-25 days for it to process so don’t wait till the last minute.

Custom Plus Male starting at $160

Dresses that didn’t make the cut, Pt. 2

P. Lawrence Bridal Salon

I tried on a about 3-4 dresses at P. Lawrence Salon. They really didn’t have a particularly large dress selection. A lot of the dresses I saw there weren’t to my liking. I had my heart set on a mermaid or trumpet cut dress.

Out of the dresses I tried on at P. Lawrence, this one is was my favorite. It’s by Jim Hjlem (can’t remember the price) and it’s simple but beautiful! I have to admit it didn’t for me what I wanted.

There was one additional dress that I tried that I really liked. It is called “Brittney.” I really loved the fabric detail but I hated the straps and the detail in the bodice. Plus one of my bridesmaids told me that every time she saw the dress she would sing the Mexican Hat Song in her head, lol! I thought about getting it anyway, but the amount of re-structing that would have to be done wasn’t worth it.


brittany - bodice detail

Portable Grills – Groom Gift Search

I’ve really really been racking my brain on the groom gift thing. My fiance is so picky that he’s super hard to shop for. 😦

We were out and about today when we stopped at a sporting goods store. While we were browsing I noticed they had two super sweet portable grills for sale. I thought they were both looked pretty sweet: portable, functional, and had pretty similar features. There was the Char-Broil 08401504 Grill2Go ICE Portable Gas Grill and the Paul Jr. Designs Coleman RoadTrip Grill.

Both of the grills are gas-powered, the only exception I could see was that the Char-Broil design allows you to put wood chips in it for smoking. Both grills are about the same height and shape, though they are different colors (the Char-Broil is red and the Coleman is black), both have wheels, and they both have a little wing on each side. The Coleman grill’s wings are chrome and textured like the step on a pick-up truck. To be honest, the major differences seem to be the design of the grate part of the grill and the fact that the Char-Broil comes with two removable 30 quart coolers (I guess this is where they get the “ice” in the product name). The grate design for the Char-Broil is pretty much a typical grill grate. The grate design for the Coleman is more like a searing grate – almost like those you can find on a gas stove top.

The most glaring difference is, of course, that the Coleman grill was designed by Paul Teutul, Jr. from American Chopper. I’m quite sure his name added a few extra dollars to the price point, lol!

Of course, once I showed the grills to my fiance, he let me know that he was perfectly happy with the grill he has and doesn’t want a new one. Why am I not surprised? LOL!

The Char-Broil Grill2Go ICE Portable Gas Grill (08401504) – $199.99 at Amazon.com – lists its features and description as:
•Portable gas grill with infrared cooking system and 290 square inches of grilling space
•Collapsible design; 2 wheels and lift-and-lock mechanism similar to rolling luggage
•Stay-cool lid handle; 2 side shelves; requires 1-pound LP cylinder (sold separately)
•Includes 2 removable 30-quart coolers for keeping food and beverages chilled
•Measures approximately 29 by 44-1/2 by 37-1/2 inches; 90-day limited warranty

Char-Boil Grill2Go ICE Portable Gas Grill

“Designed with on-the-go grillers in mind, this portable gas grill works as well on the back deck or patio as it does at the beach, a campsite, or tailgating parties. The collapsible unit features two durable wheels and a lift-and-lock mechanism–similar to rolling luggage–for smooth transport from one place to the next. When ready to grill, just lower the handle, extend the grill to its full height, slide on the handy side shelves, and connect the regulator and fuel tank. The grill requires a 1-pound LP cylinder for operation (sold separately), and it features Char-Broil’s patented infrared cooking system, which reduces overall cooking time, uses 1/3 less gas, and creates no exposed flames, so there are less flare-ups to worry about. The grill may cook faster and more efficiently, but it doesn’t sacrifice seared-in flavor or mouthwatering results.

Best of all, the unit provides a generous 290 square inches of grilling space for anything from hot dogs and hamburgers to salmon fillets, veggie shish-kabobs, thick slices of fresh pineapple, and other favorites. To add smoky flavor to meat and vegetables, simply drop wood chips through the grates and lower the lid using the stay- cool handle; choose from a variety of wood-smoking chips, including mesquite, hickory, alder, oak, or cherry (not included). For added convenience, the grill comes equipped with two removable coolers that sit side by side on the bottom shelf (a protective shield on the bottom of the grill keeps them safe from the heat). Each 30-quart cooler offers two easy-grip loop handles, a wrap-around zipper, and ample space for filling with ice, food, drinks, and other items that need to be kept cold. The portable gas grill measures approximately 29 by 44-1/2 by 37-1/2 inches and carries a 90-day limited warranty.”

The Paul Jr. Designs Coleman RoadTrip Grill – $229.99 at Amazon.com – lists its features and description as:
•From Coleman, 36-inch collapsible propane grill for use at home or on the road
•With 285 square inches cooking space, grill features porcelain-coated cast-iron grates for durability and cleaning ease
•Meats cook over 2 10,000 BTU straight burners; requires separate purchase of a 16.4-ounce disposable propane cylinder
•Additional features include towing handle, wheels, and detachable side tables; assembly required
The collapsed grill measures 36 by 22 by 13 inches with a shipping weight of 60 pounds; limited 5-year warranty

Paul Jr. Designs Coleman Roadtrip Grill

It’s even easier to transport, and quicker and easier to set up at a tailgate party, campsite or any other location where fun, food and friends get together. Like the original RoadTrip Grill, the LXE features authentic open flame grilling, two powerful burners that are fully adjustable, electronic ignition and uncommon cooking versatility thanks to mix-and-match cooking surface options. However, a cleverly designed new stand distinguishes the LXE model from its predecessor. The X-shaped chassis is wheeled for easy maneuvering in both the upright and collapsed-for-transport positions. It sets up quickly and provides excellent stability for cooking, thanks to the simplicity of the scissor-like leg and frame design. Two side tables integrated into the unit slide out for grilling and cooking duties, then retract under the unit in a moment’s motion for travel and storage. Because the grill is affixed to the stand and the lid features a locking mechanism, the unit is secure and steady while towing it to and from a vehicle using a convenient pull handle. The Coleman Roadtrip Grill LXE is designed to be used completely assembled. If table top use is desired – simply hand remove the 4 plastic cap screws and start cooking! The Roadtrip Grill LXE is easy to assemble – Push on wheels and insert plastic handle and it is ready to use! New tool holders and stainless steel carry handles added for convenience. The LXE fits into most auto trunks/SUV’s.”

My favorite wedding dresses that didn’t make the cut, Pt. 1

I tried on tons and tons of wedding dresses. To be honest, at one point I thought I wasn’t going to ever find the dress I really wanted to be married in. I’m not going to post a picture of the dress I chose (until after the wedding!) but there were a LOT of contenders! I’m going to post my favorites from each bridal salon – dresses that I seriously considered buying.

Carina’s Bridal Atelier
The first bridal salon I went to was David’s Bridal. It was pretty horrible. Carina’s Bridal Atelier was the second dress experience. David’s Bridal compared to Carina’s was night and day. The dressing rooms were huge and comfortable. The staff was friendly and the dresses were absolutely beautiful. There were so many unique and beautiful dresses there that I was just amazed. To be honest, I would rank Carina’s Bridal Atelier as on of the best in the DC Metro area – and I think I went to almost all of them! LOL

One of my favorite dresses that I don’t have pictured here (since I wouldn’t have been allowed to buy it, no one but me liked it) was designed by an architect. It had a fabulous multi-layer train, yum! I really really liked a lot of her dresses In fact, I found one that I LOVED and really thought it was THE ONE. Ha! At $4300, I think I’d bumped my head, lol. I can’t remember all the prices dress models since it’s been a while but if you like the dress, just contact Carina’s Bridal Atelier and I’m sure they’ll recognize it.

Teroforma Whiskey Stones – The gift for my Groom search starts

Traditionally, the bride and the groom exchange gifts prior to the wedding. Since my fiance gave me such a beautiful ring, I don’t expect an additional gift from him. But I have racked my brain to find the PERFECT gift for him (he deserves it!).

I haven’t decided what I want to give him, but I want it to be unique, something he can use, and something he’ll love. I have 65 days left to figure this out! lol

I know that this has nothing to do with hair, make up, skin care or dresses, but its my blog! LOL

One thing that I’ve run across that’s pretty sweet are Teroforma’s The Whisk(e)y Lover gift set.

The Whisk(e)y Lover gift set

The Whisk(e)y Lover gift set comes with a set of two whiskey glasses and nine soapstone ice cubes. The whole idea being that water ruins a good whiskey so why use ice? The stones are reusable, flavorless, and freezeable.

I have to admit that I adore the shape of the whiskey glasses. They are so…organic and unexpected.

From the Teroforma website:
“Being a fan of single malt scotch, Teroforma co-founder Andrew Hellman had pondered this exact question before. After a bunch of searching and testing, we came up with Whisky Stones as the answer. Based on an idea using granite that has been in existence in Scandinavia for centuries, we chose to work with natural soapstone due to its softness (won’t scratch the glass) and its unique ability to retain temperature for extended periods of time.

A few hours in the freezer and the stones are ready to complement your favorite tipple without imparting either flavor or odor.

This chance incident marked the debut of Vermont Soapstone. Realizing its unique ability to maintain warm and cool temperatures, local Vermonters began mining and milling this unusually smooth gray stone for a variety of household and cooking purposes. Today, under the careful stewardship of owner Glenn Bowman, Vermont Soapstone continues to build its unparalleled expertise as America’s original fabricators of soapstone – using many of the same techniques first formulated by the original founders.”

Cost: $60.00

Exotic Ethnic Wedding Gowns

While I have already purchased my wedding gown, I ran across some wonderful, fabulous ethnic wedding gowns online. Most of these gowns are EXOTIC and I LOVE IT!


I actually have a couple of friends who will be extremely pissed off that they missed this find, lol.

The gowns are original creations by a clothing and wedding gown designer named Therez Fleetwood (http://www.therezfleetwoodbridal.com).


Amalia Ball Gown

Therez Fleetwood Biography
For years, Therez has been touted as the country’s leading designer of exotic wedding dresses as she weaves cultural connections into a distinctive collection of wedding gowns inspired by Egypt, India, Morocco, South Africa, and Asia. Her gowns are created in a variety of fabrics and adorned with silver or gold lace, embroidered trims, hieroglyphics, colorful beads, trinkets, and shells.


Therez Fleetwood moves against the trends and expresses her fashion sensibilities while breaking the modern wedding mold. Her name. has become synonymous with the “exotic” wedding dress. Brides like her because her designs are unique, sexy and fun, allowing them to make a personal statement on their wedding day. Her design philosophy has redefined the perception of the “traditional” wedding gown as she creates a unique collection of dresses – most noted are her Egyptian influenced silhouettes.


Therez studied fashion design at The Fashion Institute of Technology and worked as a production manager in New York City. It was in this position that she fell in love with garment construction and the meticulous procedures involved in the garment making process. She worked in production for several years, honing her skills, until the perfect opportunity came her way to branch out on her own and start her own company.

Therez’s bridal gowns have been featured on the pages of several of the top fashion magazines and showcased on numerous television talk shows. Her wedding dresses have been on display in New York at the Museum of the City in the “New York Gets Married” and “Black Style Now” exhibits as well as the Fashion Institute of Technology in honor of the Black Fashion Museum.


“For years, Therez has been touted as the country’s leading designer of exotic wedding dresses as she weaves cultural connections into a distinctive collection of wedding gowns inspired by Egypt, India, Morocco, South Africa, and Asia. Her gowns are created in a variety of fabrics and adorned with silver or gold lace, embroidered trims, hieroglyphics, colorful beads, trinkets, and shells. It was her desire to travel that brought her to several countries throughout the world and it was her love of Africa, that prompted her to write, The AfroCentric Bride – A Style Guide, which provides clear, concise and helpful information for couples who choose to infuse cultural elements into their wedding. She is also the designer of the authentic kente cloth costumes worn by Mickey and Minnie Mouse made exclusively for the Walt Disney Theme Parks and Resort.”

These dresses are made with luxurious fabrics and (for lack of a better word) fixtures, as well. Silks, brocades, cowrie shells, cloth of gold – this is not your mother’s wedding dress!


Doing my own hair (somewhat)

I’ve searched high, I’ve searched low – I can’t find any hair style that I like. I can’t find a natural hair care stylist who I trust to make me look my best. I don’t know why – in 2010 – it should be sooo hard to find a good natural hair care specialist.

I have a wonderful friend, Glenda, who owns a natural hair care salon in NC. If I was in NC I wouldn’t have this problem cause Glenda would be doing my hair. But that’s not the case, I live in the DC Metro area…

I decided it may be a better idea to do my hair myself. It’s not that hard and although I’m not that creative when it comes to hair, I don’t want a crazy complicated style. My fiance likes my hair down and to the side. I like my hair down. No one else’s opinion matters 🙂

I decided to do a short hair trial to see what I could do for myself. I’m going to have to do this again, though. Here are some pictures before I started:

I always start my hair by getting a fine tooth comb and scratching my scalp. I know that it’s not necessary for everyone but I LOVE the way it feels.

After I scratch my scalp, I get ready to wash. I usually do a co-wash but I am currently trying the new Rosemary Mint (?) shampoo and conditioner from Carol’s Daughter. The shampoo is rather thick and since I have dreads I decided it would be a great idea to dilute the shampoo. I squeeze a generous amount inside of one of those open tipped plastic bottles that are used for dying hair – you can get them at any beauty supply shop.

Supplies for Lock Maintainance & Styling

Supplies for Lock Maintainance & Styling

I use just enough hot water to “melt” the shampoo – then I saturate my scalp with the shampoo/water mix while my hair is still dry. It should be thick enough to keep from running into your eyes but watery enough that you can create a lather by rubbing the hair and scalp. I like to do this (I call it a dry shampoo) before wetting my entire head. This give me the opportunity to do a good scalp cleansing before I start my actual wash.

After I saturate my hair with my shampoo/water mixture, I wash my hair. After I wash (this time) I then conditioned my hair with the Rosemary Mint conditioner. This conditioner is pretty thick, too (though not quite as thick as I was expecting, considering the shampoo). Normally I dilute my conditioners, too.

Once my my wash and condition is complete (should have also done an ACV rinse, but I didn’t), I dried my hair, separating the individual locks. I used EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) to give myself a hot oil treatment (but I also like to use Carol’s Daughter’s Lisa’s Hair Elixer) and then I started to maintain my locks.

I have dry scalp, so I almost always oil my scalp prior to doing my maintainance. Currently I am using Taliah Waajid’s “The Strengthener” hair oil. It’s medicated, so it has a heavy scent and it tingles. Have to admit, I LOVE the tingle! 🙂 I use this hair oil on my entire scalp, then I proceed to palm rolling (Palm rolling is a method for tangling the roots of your dreads and helping them knot and tighten. It works much better than “twisting” with the fingers. To palm roll you simply grab the dread between the base of your palms – tightly by the root – and roll it in a single direction – I prefer counter-clockwise. It’s a bit like rolling Play-Doh between your palms to make a long rope. You are doing two things at once: tightening the root of your lock that has come unraveled and you are shaping the rest of that same dread into a cylinder shape. Palm rolling works well anytime but the best time to palm roll is right after washing/co-washing your dreads).

When doing maintainance, I always keep a few things on hand. One items is some type of oil based moisturizer lotion. I’ve used several different brands of several different things, but one of the ones I love best is Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk. I’ve used it off and on for years. Another great item that I like to keep on hand while doing my hair is a water based hair spray/detangler/leave in conditioner. I’m currently using Johnson & Johnson Maintainance for dreadlocks is really best done on moist or wet hair. Depending on how long it takes your hair to dry compared to how long it takes to do your hair will let you know if you need to re-wet your hair while completing maintainance.

Since this is a bridal hair style trial, I decided to set my hair in the manner in which I plan to wear it. Since it is over one shoulder to the side, that is exactly how I set it. I made sure that I palm rolled AND set my hair in that same direction.

Setting Hair - Front

The way I set my hair for this trial was what I call a wet “braid out.” I call it this because I set my hair while wet by braiding it. The “out” part comes because I take out the braids (simple, I know 🙂

Setting Hair - Profile 2

Setting Hair - Back

After I set my hair I usually do one of two things. I either let my hair dry naturally and leave the set in for 24-48 hours OR I sit under a hood dryer for 3-5 hours.

Once my hair is completely dry, I removed the braids.

Braid Out - Front

Braid Out - Front

The set worked VERY well, if I say so myself :-). I love the fact that the hair is slightly molded in a side position. One of the things I noticed, however, is that my hair doesn’t really want to stay that way. The weight of my hair makes it want to fall away from the one shoulder look. I held it in place with a few strategically placed hair pens.

Braid Out - Profile 2

While I think my hair has come out pretty nice – I’m also glad that my friend Glenda will be there on my big day to actually STYLE my hair!

Day of [wedding] Bridal Emergency Kit

As I’m sure everyone who reads this knows by now, I’m getting married :-)!!!

One of the things that have made me nervous is being prepared for everything I’d need on the day of. I won’t have a pocketbook or the ability to go home and get stuff. So I found a “bridal emergency kit” online and thought I’d share.

Aspirin (or pain reliever of choice)
Bottle of water
Chalk (to cover up any last minute smudges or smears on your wedding dress)
Clear nail polish (for stocking runs)
Corsage pins
Dental floss/toothpicks
Eye drops
Extra earring backs
Extra panty hose (I won’t need this as I’m not wearing any)
Hair pins/ponytail holder
Hand towelettes
Hem tape
Mini sewing kit
Safety pins
Scotch tape
Sedatives (if you need them, maybe night before?? Want to look awake!)
Small folding scissors
Smelling salts (while i don’t expect anyone to faint, it has been known to happen)
Spot remover
Static-cling spray
Straws (so bride can stay hydrated without messing up her lipstick)
MOH should keep the following on hand for bride at all times
Breath mints/spray
Cellular phone
Cash(because you never know)
Hair spray
Linen handkerchief
Makeup (for touch-ups)
Nail file
Tampons/sanitary napkins
Optional Items
Granola bars or other easy-to-carry snacks
Krazy Glue (for nail fixes, shoe heels, decorations, even jewels)
travel size bottle of vodka/ rum or whiskey (very important!!!)
crochet hook (to button & un-button dress)

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