Monday, December 18, 2017

The Woods' Celebrate Ten: Vegas Celebration Recap

Wow! It's been 10 years since my husband and I said "I do." It went by so quickly. However, it was not all peaches and cream. If I'm going to be completely honest, years one through six were rough. Divorce lawyers were consulted. Separate bedrooms were slept in. Apartments leases were explored. It was a rough road but my mother gave me some good advice when I would complain about my husband to her. She said "If you leave once, it will be easier to leave again and again and again, until there's nothing to return to."

Clearly, we stuck it out. We made it to our 10th anniversary. The separate bedroom thing lasted for like 3 hours. LOL! The apartments were only a few quick Google searches. The truth is, in all of our mess, we love each other and always knew that we were made for each other, so why fake like we could ever live apart? Year six, we put in some serious work on our marriage and on ourselves. The truth is, no matter how great you may seem to everyone on the outside, the people in your house see your true colors and know how horrible your poop smells. Our grass is green but our water bill is astronomical. Moral: We have paid the price for our happiness.

Year seven was bliss, as close to a happy marriage as we had ever seen. Year eight, I found out I was pregnant and almost lost my life giving birth (Click HERE to read all about that experience). So year nine was even better than year seven and eight because there was a new lease on life. Near death experiences tend to have that effect on people. So, we decided that we would renew our vows for our anniversary in 2017. Neither one of us had never been to Las Vegas, so we thought it'd be a good idea to do it there. I had visions of super fly cocktail attire in a tacky chapel with Elvis performing the ceremony. But what's a vow renewal without the people you are close to being their to witness? I sent out a little text invite to get a gauge of who wanted to come. Then life happened....

I became a full time entrepreneur and my son grew from a cute little infant into an active toddler. I got busy, so I delegated the planning. I hired Cordially Invited Events to put it all together. I literally only told them that I wanted a wedding at a tacky chapel and to take everyone who came out to dinner afterward. Dassit. When I tell you my husband and I were overwhelmed by the experience, that is an understatement. We thought maybe 50 people would respond and only about 30 people would show up. Almost 70 people made their way to Vegas to celebrate with us. The chapel was perfect. The meal venue was fly, black owned, and the food was delicious. The decor was super cute and represented our union flawlessly. The icing on the cake was that one of my bestest, most deserving girlfriends got engaged. It was a perfect weekend.

We had so much fun with our family and friends. It was truly a memorable event. I want to share this experience with you. Click HERE to see some of the pictures. If you want to watch the re-cap video (it's about 6 minutes), click HERE.

I have to list the Production Credits because it was a production. Ashanti and I really just showed up.
Event Planners: Cordially Invited Events
Photographer: Nice Shot, Kyle Pompey
Videographer: Apeture, Stephen Jones
Make Up: Beauty By Bre
Dress: Brides and Grooms, Pikesville, MD
Jacket: Turning Point
Arto and Syvilla Woods: Sponsors for Meet and Greet as well as Cocktail Hour
Centry and Preston Greene: Traveling babysitters

Cordially Invited Events handled everything from arranging the hotels, guest transportation to and from the chapel, harrassing Mandalay Bay after the shooting to try to get us some complimentary stuff and upgrades, table decor at the lunch, running around when all the decor didn't get delivered on time, harassing me to make sure I had my slide show together after my hard drive crashed and I lost all of my pictures from 2005-2013 (Thank God for Facebook). I'm sure there are other things they handled that I didn't know about but they'll spill it at the Post-Event Debriefing. LOL!

Kyle and Stephen....what can I say. These are two of the most humble and talented "shooters" I know. They are usually out doing celebrity shoots and high profile jobs but they penciled the Woods' in for 4 whole days to make sure our weekend was captured properly, from all angles. A photographer once told me "You only get one time to capture the moment. Then you can re-live it over and over again. Never be cheap with capturing it." I am so thankful for them. We keep looking at all of these shots and video just smiling and laughing and blushing. Stephen even over came his fear of flying to take his longest flight ever, just for us. We had NO IDEA! As if him being there wasn't special enough, that made it even more meaningful.

Quinceanara/Bride of Beetleguise Dress
Of course there was dress drama. My sister, Thee Fashioneer, found me a fly dress way in advance that had to be made custom. I ordered it. It came. It was hideous. I had 6 weeks to get it together. I couldn't find anything I liked on the interwebs that was within my budget. So, one day I was out running errands and decided to stop in Brides and Grooms, on the corner of Reisterstown Rd. and Slade Ave. The sales lady gave me a side eye when I said "wedding" and "2 weeks" in the same sentence but found me 2 dresses in my size and desired color within my budget. The first one I tried on was the one.

Ashanti and I always talk about how blessed we are to have 2 sets of AMAZING parents. We definitely could have been dealt a different hand in life. When I told Mama Woods we were over budget for the meal (I definitely didn't budget for 70 people. LOL!), she stepped right in because "Don't be coming all the way to Vegas and trying to penny pinch the details". Her words. Not mine. She went to Sam's Club and balled out for snacks, drinks and liquor for us to have in our suite over the weekend. I'm so happy our parents have a great relationship with each other. Both sets worked out their "Vegas Fun" schedules with each other so they could be available to hang out with their grandson while we had fun celebrating.

Becoming a full time entrepreneur has been a HUGE financial sacrifice for us but some things deserve a proper celebration. We planned, budgeted, and saved for over a year to prepare for this so that our responsibilities wouldn't suffer in the aftermath. I had many second thoughts but always came back to life being about moments and experiences. I am SO happy we followed through with this plan. Thanks for reading. Now get back to work. LOL!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Updated: Fancy Hair 2017

Back in 2014, I wrote a blog about how I style my hair and what products I use (Click HERE to read that). I've added a few styles and changed some of the products I use.

I wear my hair natural. That means, I don't process it with chemicals to straighten it. I just let it flourish in it's kinky element. It's so funny to me because when I think my hair looks crazy, I get the most compliments. I get approached by hair admirers proclaiming that they wish they could wear their hair natural. I also get a lot of questions about my hair. Often from women who are trying to figure their own hair out. The most common questions I get are what products I use and what do I do to it when I style it. My cousin told me that I should start a separate hair blog, but quite honestly, I don't do enough to my hair to warrant a whole blog about it. I figured I post sporadically post hair stuff among the rest of my blogging.

In true "Fancy" fashion, these rules about how I view my hair and how I treat it still apply. Here we go:
  1. I let my hair be great. Sometimes it's fluffy, sometimes it's bushy. I don't fuss over it. I don't try to make sure every strand is in place. I don't try to make my hair look like someone else's. All of our hair textures are different. I have about 4 different textures and curl patterns in my own head. It's all in your mindset.
  2. Moisture is the most important player when dealing with kinky hair. Keep your hair moisturized.....not oily. Just want to reiterate this. Water moisturizes. Apply oil to seal moisture/water into your hair or skin. Otherwise the oil will just sit on top of the dry hair.
  3. Experiment to find out what works for you. Experiment with styling and products. What's good for one person doesn't necessarily work for someone else.
  4. STAY WOKE and read the ingredients on the products you're buying. Avoid products with the following ingredients. These ingredients dry your hair which lead to breakage. ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL, MINERAL OIL & PETROLATUM, PEG, PROPYLENE GLYCOL (PG), SODIUM LAURYL SUFATE (SLS) & SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES), CHLORINE, DEA (diethanolamine) MEA (momoethnanolamine) TEA (triethanolamine), FD & C Color PIGMENTS, FRAGRANCE, and IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA and DMDM HYDANTOIN.
Up Do
My hair routine is very simple, I don't use a whole plethora of products and I actually don't spend that much time doing my hair. It can seem like a long time but it's less than or equal to the amount of time people spend in the salon.

Cleansing and Conditioning
I am very active. I used to work out 3-4 days/week, now it's 4-5 days and I still sweat...a lot. So it's very important for me to get to my scalp and get rid of the build up. In the summer I may shampoo weekly but mostly every 2 weeks. When I've been swimming, I shampoo using a sulfate free shampoo. Make sure you read the ingredients. All things labeled sulfate free are not. When I don't swim, I do an Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) rinse. Essentially, I section my hair and, using a spray bottle, I spray the ACV on my scalp and massage my scalp with my finger tips, not my nails. Then, I spray it on the length of my hair. This will loosen up the dirt and build up without drying it out like shampoo does. I twist plait each section as I go because my hair is super thick, getting long and out of control. LOL! Rinse. Then I do a co-wash. A co-wash is when you use conditioner instead of shampoo like you're washing it. I do the same thing I did with the ACV. Massaging my scalp and re-twisting plaiting. Rinse and repeat. If I'm deep conditioning, I apply the conditioner to the length of my hair. Sometimes I put a conditioner cap on....sometimes I don't. Rinse. I'm ready to style.
Wet Twist Out

My go-to style is a twist out. That works for me. In the summer, I twist it wet and pin it up into a style for a couple days. Then take it out when it's completely dry. In the winter, I alternate with dry twist outs and wet twist outs. The dry twist out tends to last longer. I can get about 3 weeks of styles from a dry twist out. Just witch hazel my scalp when it gets a little itchy.

Wet Twist Out: Results in tight, long lasting curls.
I don't have to spend time detangling because I did that while I was shampooing and conditioning. That also decreases the chances that my hair will dry out while I'm twisting. I take one section at a time, spray some leave in conditioner apply Fancy Free Milk and comb it through. Then I apply the shea butter pomade that I make in my kitchen Fancy Free Pomade and comb it through. Two strand twist to the ends. Dassit.

Twist Out After Blow Drying: Results in loose curls that may require re-twisting every other night or super BIG hair.
Faux Hawk
Sit under a hood dryer to let all the excess water dry. Spray with leave in conditioner. Apply a little bit of my homemade pomade Fancy Free Pomade to each section. Then blow dry each section on low heat until it's no longer damp. For straighter hair, I may hit it on high for a couple seconds but not too much. I don't want to have heat damage. All dry, I part into sections and get to twisting. I spray a little mist of water and apply a creamy pomade  Fancy Free Milk as I twist to give structure to the twist. I might even spray the ends a little so they curl and the twist will stay in.
Up Do:
I don't do them often. They require daily up keep and I'm not about that life.

Flexi-Rod Set: After shampooing and conditioning, I use Fancy Free Milk for Hair & Skin to detangle and a small amount of Fancy Free Shea Pomade for Hair & Skin while my hair is still damp. I may braid or plait my hair to air dry for a few hours or days (depending on my life at the time), then blow dry on low heat. Once my hair is completely dry, I do one or two passes with the blow drier on high heat. Once dry, I section my hair in 1-2 inch section, spray a tiny mist of water on the section. I start with the end and 🤔🤔🤔🤔 (I can't think of another way to describe it) twist the hair around the flexi rod while rolling it. Confusing? If you watch the video it will make perfect sense.

High Bun: My new favorite since my hair has gotten longer. It's my "formal" up do. LOL!

Halo Braid: Also one of my new favorites for right after blow drying and I'm not sure how I want to wear my hair.

Dry Twist Out
Keeping your ends trimmed is important. I get my ends trimmed every 3-4 months. My stylist usually just blow dries and trims that way. I only get it straightened once a year, maybe twice. Straight hair requires too much attention for me and my hectic life as a medical professional mother of a toddler and entrepreneur. Plus, it can cause heat damage if you're not careful. For a naturalista, heat damage is indicated by the straight hair when it should be curly. My twist out gets stuffed in a bonnet at night and fluffed out in the morning. Dassit. LOL!

Hair Product Details
After trial and error I have found that these things work best for me. This is so funny to me. I hardly use any of these products anymore.

Up do
I guess I can be considered a natural hair stylist. In my former life, I used to work in a salon as a natural hairstylist. If you would like individual coaching through your process, I would love to help you. Visit my website to set up a natural hair consult.

Until next time....let your hair flourish in it's natural state or pass this on to someone looking for guidance in what to do with their natural hair.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Stop Being a "Punk A$$ Chauncey": Hair Edition

One time I went out and my twist out was super popping!
One of the most "interesting" comments I hear from women of color when they compliment my hair is that "I wish I could go natural". GURL! Whet?!?! A loooooong string of questions pop in to my head. Why can't you? What's stopping you? What's wrong with wearing your hair in the texture that it grows out of your head? But I always smile and say "Awwww! You CAN!" When I hear women say things like this it makes me sad. Sad that people think that they are not going to be accepted for being who they are. Sad people don't want to wear their hair the way Jehovah made it. Sad that they accept the European standard of beauty when they are descendants of Africa. Sad that they would prefer to subject their body to harsh chemicals, chemical burns, heat burns, tension alopecia and everything else that comes along with not letting your hair just "be". Sad that they think their hair is nappy (in a negative way) and unmanageable in it's natural state. I want to scream STOP THIS!!!!! But I've been in therapy for about 5 years now and I am learning to be empathetic. I know that a drastic change in appearance takes a lot of mental preparation.

As a nerd, I gather data. About 85% of the natural consults I have are with women who want to wear textured styles but are scared of how their hair will turn out, wanting their hair to look like something they saw on the internet instead of figuring out what's best for their hair. I end up doing "hair counseling" instead of consulting. I am so happy that they are taking the first step. Even happier to help them. And elated when they report their hair "breakthroughs" to me.

Me, at work, with crazy hair
but still working.
Your hair is your hair. My hair is my hair. I have about 4 different textures of hair in my head. My hair tends to dry out. My hair flops forward into my face no matter how I style it. I stopped trying to do bantu knots, they just don't work for me. A lot of product in my hair ruins the style. I never used edge control, just Fancy Free products, a brush and a scarf. These are things I've learned about my hair over the past 7 years of not having relaxer. I have my hair routine down to a science. I rarely deviate from it because I've learned many a tough lesson.

My point is, Jehovah has designed everyone with intention and intrinsic beauty. Flaws and all, you are beautiful with short hair, long hair, straight hair, tightly coiled hair, etc. In 2017, if you are denied a job or an opportunity because of the way your hair is styled then maybe that thing you thought you wanted isn't for you. I just wouldn't encourage someone to go after that something that requires they look like something they aren't. In mind, they're gonna take whatever hairstyle you walk in there with and deal with it. You'd be surprised how complimentary people are of your natural styles. I've found that most have, what I call, "volume envy". They wish that they too could have big hair or switch their hairstyles up the way we can.

To anyone considering the transition to natural hair, my advice is to just do it. There is no time like the present. Think long, think wrong.

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free, LLC. is the manufacturer of quality products for hair and skin and natural hair consultant for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you chemical free." Visit our website,, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.