In Memory of Titi Branch, Co-Founder of Miss Jessie’s Hair Care


Titi Branch (photo courtesy of

A few days ago, I learned that Titi Branch (co-founder of Miss Jessie’s, a natural hair salon and product brand) passed away. She and her sister Miko Branch founded the successful beauty empire in 2004. It took me a couple of days to write about it because I really didn’t know what to say. How can one express the enormous impact of a person that he or she didn’t even know?

I first learned of the “Miss Jessie’s” brand back in 2007. At that time, I was only just beginning my hair journey. My hair was still relaxed, but I was looking online for inspirational pictures of black hair. I stumbled across the Miss Jessie’s website, where I found information about naturally curly and multi-ethnic hair, along with styling tips. Most importantly, they had pictures. Miss Jessie’s had a section of “before and after” pictures of women with afro-textured hair whose kinks and coils were beautifully styled. It gave me a glimpse at the potential of my own chemically-straightened hair.

At that time, YouTube was just barely budding as a website and there was no Instagram or Tumblr to showcase thousands of pictures of beautiful black hair. So, I went back to the site several times, read every word, and over the years, I tried quite a few of their products. Their products were some of the few “curly hair” products that were actually advertised to, and worked for, women with relaxed hair.  I even filmed my first-ever YouTube haul video about Miss Jessie’s products, but I was too shy to post it.

Their product brand helped me realize the beauty of naturally curly, wavy, kinky, and coily hair back when my hair was still relaxed. I began wearing braid-outs using Curly Meringue and I slowly became used to textured hair.

It took me many, many years to finally decide to transition to wearing my own natural curls, but I believe that the early seeds were sown in my mind by hair-care pioneers like Titi and Miko. I always dreamed of visiting one of their salon locations for a cute cut, and meeting the two women in person.

So, alas, I find it very difficult to write about a person who I never met, a person whose work left a great impact on my personal hair care choices. I can only say that I appreciate she and her sister’s work; they have helped many women and men over the years by sharing the gift of beauty and helping us accept our own natural curls. If I could speak to her family directly, I’d say God bless you & may God give you peace in this difficult time.

To the rest of us, as we prepare for this Christmas holiday, let us not forget how truly blessed we are to have our loved ones near and dear. If ever someone impacts you in a positive way, from near or far, don’t forget to say thank you because you might not get the opportunity to say so later.

You can read more about Titi’s life and legacy by visiting Miss Jessie’s website & you can express your condolences on the company’s Facebook page.

No Time to Learn How to Knit

knittingA few months ago, I realized that I wanted to learn how to crotchet and knit. I was in the craft store with my son picking up supplies that we needed for his school project. Instead of going straight for the supplies, I spent quite a bit of time wandering up and down the aisles looking at crafting supplies.

It was during this brief moment in time that I allowed my mind to drift. I thought about how, when I was a young girl, I purchased a book on crocheting at the school book fair. The book came with a few crocheting supplies and instructions on simple stitches. I practiced diligently. My mother bought me more yarn and tried to feed my interest in learning how to make blankets. Unfortunately, she did not know how to crotchet, so she couldn’t teach me how.

My paternal grandmother did know how to crotchet, but she was many miles away in another state. I longed to have the ability to make beautiful blankets for my family and friends. That subconscious desire to learn how to crotchet and knit blankets, sweaters, and other items never really went away. It just became buried when it seemed to be an impossible goal to achieve.

Some 20 years later, there I was, with my subconscious desire resurfacing. Surely now, as an adult, I would have the means to actually learn these skills. Over the next few days, I started noticing a few smaller crafting stores around town. Out of curiosity, I stopped by one after work one day. The small, independently-owned craft store was still open at 7pm. The place was piled high with all manner of yarn and crafting materials. It was a really small, quaint place with a few tables near the front.

The store owner was sitting at one of the tables knitting quietly. She put her needles down to help me. She showed me some beginner’s books on crocheting and knitting, explained the different needles, and told me about monthly classes that she held. My face lit up. I couldn’t believe my luck. Over 20 years ago, I had wanted someone to show me simple stitches so that I could learn how to crotchet a blanket, and here was a person who was available to help me for only a small fee. I left that day feeling determined to take one of the classes and finally learn – first how to crotchet, and then how to knit.

However, I never did attend a crocheting or knitting class. One thing after another came up. One month, I couldn’t spare the money. The next month, I had other commitments. The next month, I was just too plain tired and stressed out from work. I was disappointed in myself because, here I was, all “degreed” and accomplished, and I hadn’t found a way to do something as simple as learn basic crocheting.

When I began to self-reflect, it dawned on me that this wasn’t the only time that something like this had happened to me. I never seemed to have the time to do things that I found fulfilling – I didn’t have the time to read that book I really wanted to dive into. I didn’t have time to go to the gym. I didn’t have time to take a dance class (I quit adult ballet after attending only one lesson). I never had time to do anything except for work, sleep, and parent my son. Even in terms of parenting, I didn’t have the time to do some of the things that I wanted to do, like take my son to Legoland before he grew too old to want to go.

I started to wonder why I was working so hard to make money to have time to do nothing except work. When I talk about lifestyle design, part of that idea is to actually work to live instead of just living to work. Work can be rewarding and fulfilling. In many of our jobs, we are able to help people directly, or build or create things that contribute to the betterment of society. But, we often forget about the betterment of ourselves.

I challenge myself, and I challenge each of you to make time each week for something that fulfills a greater self-need. Yes, we make (some) time to eat, sleep, work, and worship. But, do we make time to take a walk, read that book, or take that class that will make us feel better and become happier with ourselves?

As for me, I’m not letting go of the dream of learning how to crochet. In fact, as I work to make simple changes in my life, I will use knitting and crocheting as a marker for determining when I have actually reached a level of balance in my life between work and leisure. What activity will be a marker for you?

Lifestyle Design & Student Loan Debt

In a previous post, I talked about what lifestyle design means to me and how the concept became more well-known in mainstream America and around the world. In this post, I’ll discuss one of the key factors that keeps many talented, thoughtful people from defining their own lives. That factor is debt.

People end up in debt for all sorts of reasons. There are those people who charge their credit cards to purchase material things in order to impress others. There are some people who take on debt in order to help make ends meet. Yet still, there are other people whose only debt is student loan debt.

Whatever the form of debt, all of it can become burdensome when it comes to lifestyle design. The responsibility of having to make payments on a debt monthly until it is paid off can keep you tied down to a job you hate, a city you loathe, or working in an industry that you find uninspiring.

When most people look up and realize that they are unhappy, they already have too many responsibilities to make a quick change. This is not to say that a change cannot be made. It’s just going to take longer if you have a greater number of responsibilities, including debts.

If you find that payments are keeping you from making lifestyle changes, the answer is to pay off those debts. While it’s not easy to do so, it’s doable. You are making monthly payments, which means that you are paying towards the debt, anyway. You just have to pay a little more aggressively and come up with a solid plan to unshackle yourself from the burden of payments.

There are a lot of money gurus out there, but one that I suggest as an expert on getting out of debt is Dave Ramsey. Dave is a financial guru whose specialty is helping people dig out of debt. He encourages his listeners and readers to live like now one else, so that later, you can live like no one else.

This philosophy fits perfectly with the lifestyle design concept. The idea is to sacrifice now so that later, you can live the way that you want to live. Now, it’s not to say that you have to pay off your debts and quit your job to travel around the world. That’s not my ultimate goal and it may not be yours. It means that you have the option to define your life instead of letting it be designed by bill collectors and credit card companies.

To get started on a debt payoff plan, try visiting Dave Ramsey’s website to read up on The Baby Steps, his 7-step plan for getting out of and staying out of debt. Even if you don’t follow the plan exactly, you’ll surely find some tips to help set you on your way to freedom from debt.

Moisturized & Twisted with Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Hair Products



A few days ago, I wrote a review of the entire Shea Moisture line of hair products. Today, I wanted to share with you all how I style my hair with this line to achieve soft, shiny twists with a light hold. In case you didn’t know, I absolutely adore twists. My desire to wear my hair in this style was part of my motivation for going natural. At first, I was wearing Marley twists, but I started twisting my own hair because it’s just easier. With Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil products, my hair is moisturized and the twists hold together nicely. So, here’s what I did to achieve this look:

  1. I deep-conditioned on dry hair using the Strengthen, Grow & Restore Treatment Masque. I sectioned my hair, applied a small bit of product to each section, and dry-detangled my hair with my fingers.
  2. Next, I put a plastic camp on my hair and let the product soak right in. This masque really penetrates my hair strands well, so my hair felt soft and conditioned when it was time to shampoo it.
  3. In the shower, rinsed out the masque and shampooed my hair once using Strengthen, Grow & Restore Shampoo.
  4. I did a second cleanse using WEN Fig Cleansing Conditioner. During my second cleanse, I worked the product in my hair from my scalp to my ends and rinsed thoroughly. Although WEN cleansing conditioner can be left in the hair, I opted to use Shea Moisture’s leave-in.
  5. In the shower, I rung the excess water out of my hair, but I did not towel-dry. Towel-drying makes my hair frizzy. Plus, my hair tends to dry rather quickly. If I needed it to dry faster, I would have used a t-shirt to soak up more of the excess water.
  6. Out of the shower, I applied the Strengthen, Grow & Restore Leave-In Conditioner. I took about a quarter-sized amount and applied it to my entire head. This was just to soften it enough to make parting and sectioning easier.
  7. Next, I applied a dime-sized amount of the Strengthen, Grow & Restore Leave-in Conditioner and a dime-sized amount of the Strengthen, Grow & Restore Styling Lotion to each smaller section to twist. (If you’d like, you can also add an oil to seal, but there is plenty of oil in each product.)
  8. I then followed these steps to two-strand twist each section of my hair until it was all twisted except for the front sections.
  9. For the front sections, I did flat twists to make it more of a “style.” It was also faster to do some flat twists rather than to try to individually twist my entire head of hair. I also left a bit of a bang section of individual twists that I could wear down or pin up.
  10. Just an FYI – I didn’t use any edge control or gel on my edges. I personally prefer my hair not to be so slicked down in the front, so that I have a more “natural” look.

As you can see, I pinned the tail ends of the flat twists back. My twists held together nicely and stayed this way for four days until I took them down to wash my hair again. All I did at night was sleep with a satin bonnet. I got a lot of compliments on how shiny and moisturized my hair looked. Most importantly, I loved it!Twists are definitely a great go-to style and the styling lotion provides just the right amount of hold. I’ll be updating my blog with more of my natural hair style. I try new styles a lot, but I’m sometimes shy about posting them.

If there are any styles that you’d like to see on shorter natural hair, let me know if the comments section!






What is Lifestyle Design?


Most of us think about what we want to do “when we grow up.” We think about what career we want to enter into, what type of person we’d like to marry, and how many children we want to have. Most of us stick with many of the same beliefs about religion, morality, and politics that we learned from our parents. There’s nothing wrong with any of that until we wake up one day and find that we are dissatisfied.

One of the reasons for our dissatisfaction is because, while we were busy looking at the big picture, we never thought about how we actually wanted our day-to-day lives to be. When a young woman envisions becoming a high-powered attorney, she often doesn’t think about the long, grueling hours away from home and family, traveling for depositions, commuting in heavy traffic, and stress from deadlines. Likewise, most student taking out student loan debt don’t think about the years, maybe even decades of repayment. I’m sure that you can think of many more examples.

I know far too many people who focused on a “dream” career or living in a “dream” city but never thought about how they wanted their actual day-to-day lives to be. Once I realized my own dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the way my day-to-day life plays out, I started looking into the concept of lifestyle design. Tim Ferris popularized the concept in his best-selling book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated). (The link is my Amazon affiliate link to the book!) In the book, Tim talks about how to break free of the rat race and live and design the life of your dreams, with more time for leisure and pursuing your passions and less time spent on working an, often miserable, 9 to 5 job.

Obviously, there is a lot more to the book and the concept than that. To me, lifestyle design is simply designing the life that I want. This doesn’t mean chasing degrees (I have those), having kids (I have one), or trying to amass a lot of money. It’s about waking up each day feeling content and satisfied. It’s about doing work that is meaningful, while having enough money to support myself comfortably. It’s about not spending 2-3 hours a day sitting in traffic commuting, only to come home from work too tired to write or even think. It’s about giving back and making the most of what I have. It’s about feeling less stressed and having more time to appreciate my blessings.

On this blog, I’ll be discussing more about the concept of lifestyle design, how to be more productive, and how I’m working to design and live my ideal lifestyle. I have quite a long way to go, but I’m excited about the journey. Join me and feel free to chime in in the comments with your own thoughts and ideas about lifestyle design.


Recap of My Relaxed Hair Journey

small-bookcoverOne of the cool features of using a WordPress blog is that you can sometimes see how people landed on your blog. Over the last week or so, I have noticed that a lot of people are clicking on my blog looking for articles about relaxed hair. My hair is no longer relaxed, but I started my healthy hair journey out with relaxed hair. I grew it out from neck length to bra strap length with a consistent regimen of frequent cleansing, deep conditioning, and roller setting. I alternated roller setting with protective styles and avoided the use of direct heat.

I posted dozens of articles and video tutorials online about my relaxed hair journey before I began transitioning. My last relaxer was in November of 2013. I transitioned for eight months before doing the big chop in July of 2014. Add me on Instagram (@simplydebraofficial) to see more pictures of my relaxed hair.

When I took a break from blogging, I unpublished most of my hair care posts in order to make a fresh start and focus on my other goals that have nothing to do with hair care. At the time that I unpublished my blog, I didn’t think about how that would affect readers who click on various links around the web looking for content about my relaxed hair.

To make it easier for all of my relaxed hair ladies out there, I’ve created this comprehensive post linking my most helpful hair care tutorials. If you’d like to read more about relaxed hair, just let me know. I truly enjoyed my relaxed hair journey.  I am also making my relaxer stretching eBook available for download again. With Payhip’s new features, you can even send it straight to your Kindle! Keep reading for links to helpful tutorials.

My Relaxed Hair Routine

In fall of 2008, I started my healthy hair journey. I quickly fell in love with roller sets and I visited Dominican salons to get them done before learning how to do them myself. I also started stretching my relaxers (extending the time between relaxer applications) to the point where I was only getting relaxers about twice a year. My absolute favorite relaxer was the Phytorelaxer, Index 1.

For details of my wash day routine, check out the guest post that I did on Black Hair Kitchen in January of 2013, My Wash Day Routine for Relaxed Hair.

BHK Wash Day Routine for Relaxed Hair

For a detailed tutorial on my roller setting regimen, check out the 5-part series produced for YouTube, a Complete Guide to Roller Setting and my Pibbs Kwik Dri 514 Detailed Review.

In addition to roller setting, I wore a lot of low manipulation and low heat styles like buns, braid-outs, and French braids. Here are some links to my styling tutorials:

The NO SOCK Sock Bun

Here are a few more helpful tutorials that I filmed for YouTube:

Still looking for more guidance on caring for relaxed hair? I published an entire eBook on relaxer stretching, entitled How To Maintain Healthy Hair During a Relaxer Stretch. You can get a copy of it by clicking on the link below.


A Complete & Unsponsored Review of Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil Hair Products


Shea Moisture is a trusted hair care brand that continues to come out with new and innovative products. (For a summary of my review, skip to the end of the post.) I remember a few years ago when I first tried the “pink” Coconut & Hibiscus line of products. Back then, my hair was relaxed. Some of the products played nicely with my hair and some products didn’t. But, I absolutely loved the smell, texture, and affordability of Shea Moisture products, not to mention the fact that they were free of harmful ingredients. I continued to try different products, but I always kept my eye on Shea Moisture. (By the way, those affordable prices have crept up a bit.)

It was through Instagram that I learned about the new Jamaican Black Castor Oil Line of Products. I have always wanted to find a way to incorporate Jamaican Black Castor Oil into my hair care routine. I once purchased plain Jamaican Black Castor Oil, but it was so thick and it had such a strong smell that I couldn’t find a way to utilize it efficiently. But, I wanted to keep trying because of the many benefits that Jamaican Black Castor Oil offers for hair care.

According to’s article Jamaican Black Castor Oil for Hair Growth:

Jamaican Black Castor Oil works for all hair types. It will moisturize, thicken, strengthen and rapidly increase hair growth. It increases blood flow to the scalp, supplying valuable nutrients to hair follicles. Jamaican Black Castor Oil will also prevent hair breakages, dandruff, eczema and dry, itchy scalp.

So, you can imagine my excitement when I found out that this new line was available. I rushed out to look for the products, which were a bit hard to find. They weren’t being carried at Target store and they were only at “select” CVS locations. Worse still, some CVS stores only had a couple of the products available and not the whole line. For some reason, I wanted the whole line. My hair is newly natural, but I have been resisting buying a lot of new products. I wanted to see how well this line of products worked together to provide my hair with the nourishment that it needs.

I finally found the entire line and I purchased all of the products available – the shampoo, treatment masque, leave-in conditioner, styling lotion, and serum. Over the past few weeks, I have used each product several times for styles ranging from twists and twistouts to French braids and (faux) buns. I’ll be breaking down my thoughts on each product in the detailed post below. In case you were wondering, I purchased each product with my own funds and this blog post in not sponsored by the company, nor does it contain affiliate links. I’m also a bit salty because I paid full price for all of these products and I missed the BOGO sales! I would strongly recommend following Shea Moisture on Instagram if you want to catch the sales. Now, on to the review!

Strengthen, Grow & Restore Shampoo ($10.99)

The company promises that this sulfate-free shampoo will help to clarify hair by removing build-up while infusing hair with moisture. I am normally a no-poo girl. I have nothing again suds, or really even sulfates, but I have found that my hair retains more moisture when I use “creamy” co-wash type of cleansers like Wen. However, this shampoo was different. The shampoo is thick and creamy with a dark color that actually reminds me of a bottle of pure Jamaican Black Castor Oil. It produces a nice, non-drying lather that surprisingly does exactly what it promises. Normally, when I use a shampoo that has suds, I use a quarter-sized amount and concentrate it only at the roots because most shampoos are so drying.

However, I had a lot of build-up on my hair from wearing Marley twists for three weeks. My scalp was dry and itchy the first time that I prepared to use this shampoo, so I really lathered up (twice). My hair was left clean, soft, and moisturized. In fact, it felt so moisturized that I felt like I could skip the conditioning treatment, even though I never do. The smell of the shampoo is kind of hard to describe. It doesn’t smell as bad as straight Jamaican Black Castor Oil, but you can definitely smell the castor oil in the product. I asked my son to smell it to help me identify the smell. To him, it smells like coconut oil, even though there is no coconut oil in it. (Go figure!) It definitely has an earthy, organic smell that is clean and not over-bearing or medicinal like a lot commercial shampoos on the market.

After several uses, I noticed that my scalp was less dry and itchy, which was a relief. This shampoo is one that I would keep in my arsenal.

Strengthen, Grow & Restore Treatment Masque ($12.99)

The treatment masque from this line is definitely a “deep treatment” as opposed to a light rinse-out conditioner. This masque is thick and almost lumpy. It reminds me of a product that was whipped up in the kitchen. Because of its consistency, it really stays put in my hair until i rinse it out and a little goes a long way. The product is brown, but much lighter in color than the shampoo. The color was a little off-putting when I went to rinse it out in the shower and all of the run-off was brown.

The masque moisturized my hair well. It didn’t provide a ton of slip, but my hair felt soft and ready for styling after this treatment was left on my hair for 30 minutes without heat and then rinsed out. If I could improve this product, I would make the consistency a little creamier and make the color the same as the styling lotion. I also really disliked the smell. It smells very similar to the shampoo, but more stale. It’s hard to describe. If you can, give it a whiff in the store before you buy it. The smell doesn’t linger in my hair, but I definitely prefer more sweet-smelling conditioners.

Strengthen, Grow & Restore Leave-In Conditioner ($10.99)

The leave-in conditioner was one of my favorites of the bunch. Since I have recently gone natural (I did the big chop in July of 2014 and I will be one year post-relaxed on November 1, 2014), I have been struggling to find the right styling products. This leave-in conditioner helps me prep my hair for just about any style. It’s a creamy product that is off-white. Once again, the smell of the castor oil comes through. Since this is  product that stays in the hair, some people may not like that. It doesn’t bother me too much, but I do notice the smell in my hair. (Every time I use these products, I wonder why Shea Moisture didn’t add more fragrance.)

If you are looking for heavy-duty moisture, this may not be the product. But, if you are looking for a good leave-in conditioner to serve as a base for layering styling products, this one will do the trick. It spreads easily and absorbs completely into the hair. My hair is 4a and it usually does not absorb products well, but his one soaks right in. It left my hair soft, moisturized and shiny. Literally every time I have used it, either alone or with the styling lotion, I have gotten compliments on my hair. This is another keeper. Like I stated, the only con is the smell.

Keep in mind that the first ingredient in this product is water. So, while it is very moisturizing and spreads easily, if you reapply it during the week, the water in the product may cause additional shrinkage.

Strengthen, Grow & Restore Styling Lotion ($10.99)

Okay, so since I’ve started my natural hair journey, I have tried cream, jellies, and puddings for my twist and this styling lotion is my favorite product for twists and twist-outs by far. If I could pick only ONE product in this entire line to repurchase, this would be it. The way that I use it is by applying the leave-in conditioner to my hair first, then applying the styling cream to smaller sections to twists. When I leave the twists in, they are shiny and elongated. When I take them out, my “twisted” curl pattern holds for days. All I have to do is retwist and fluff my hair in the morning. A couple of times, I slept on my twist-out without retwisting and the style was still wearable in the morning.

This product obviously has a lotion consistency and it is the same off-white color at the leave in. Most importantly, it is NOT sticky. Most styling products feel icky on my hands and I want to wash them immediately. This one didn’t feel gross in my hands or in my hair. Although you can still smell the castor oil, it is very light and, so far, the smell has not bothered me during the day. Again, if you only try one product from the line, this is the one that I would recommend.

Note: In my experience, this product works best on wet hair. When layered onto dry hair, it made my hair a bit hard. It was hard to use it for daily touch-ups.

Strengthen & Grow Restorative Serum ($10.99)

As much as I have complained about the stale smell of these products, you would think that I would be in love with this one. It actually has a sweet smell that lingers pleasantly in my hair. However, I was overall disappointed with this product. First of all, it is only 2 ounces in size. Yes, 2 ounces for $10.99. That price and size completely contradict my statement that this line is affordable.

There are a few other things that bother me about this product. One is that is should not be called a serum. This is a really runny, oily product with no clear purpose. It is hard to apply and I didn’t notice any improved shine or manageability to my hair when I used it as a finishing product. I tried to then use it as a pre-shampoo treatment, but it was not thick enough. I then tried it as a scalp aid, but it was much too runny. Lastly, I tried to use it to “seal” in moisture, but it didn’t seem to penetrate my hair strands. The company says that this product includes Rosemary oil to stimulate, but adding a few drops of rosemary oil to any carrier oil that you have around that house would be much more effective. i didn’t notice any “stimulating” effects.

I have consistently seen this product shown with an applicator tip in the stock imagery and marketing photos from Shea Moisture; however, my bottle only came with a flip-top, thus making it even harder to apply. Even though I wanted to love every product in this line, this is one of that I would not repurchase.

Strengthen, Grow & Restore Edge Treatment

Before I begin my review of the edge treatment, I will admit that I am not a fan of “edge treatments” in general. I don’t think that edges need to be treated unless they have been neglected and abused or are otherwise falling out for some reason. I have a delicate hairline, and I always have. I don’t mind the fuzzy look around my edges, so I avoid slicking them down and I can’t even remember the last time that I used a brush to “lay my edge.”

However, in keeping in line with my overall excitement about this line of products, I decided to give the edge treatment a try. Instead of being a gel or a pomade, this product is more of a jelly. It’s clear and sticky. I hate sticky products in my hair. I have found that sticky products lead to dryness and breakage, so it seems strange to me that Shea Moisture would make an sticky product to go on a delicate area like the hairline, or “edges.”

I still decided to give it a try. I scooped out a small bit of the product, and rubbed it in between my fingertips to emulsify it. The product contains several different oils, so it became quite oily and much easier to spread. I applied a reasonable portion along my hairline and smoothed it with my fingertips before applying my hair scarf. The results? My hair as slightly sleeker, but it lacked shine and, again, it felt sticky for several days, making me want to wash my hair.

I gave this product one more try before tossing it in my product graveyard. I can at least work with the serum by mixing it with other products, but this edge treatment is a no-go. In hindsight, I should have returned it to CVS before the return period ended. It’s way over-priced and it just plain doesn’t work. Oh, well.


Overall, I think this is a great product line by Shea Moisture that really nourishes the hair. The shampoo left my hair feeling clean and moisturized and the treatment masque provided additional moisture. The leave-in conditioner is just the right consistency for layering and the styling lotion provides lots of shine and a soft hold when used on wet hair. I’m not crazy about the serum and I hate the edge treatment. I think 4 out of 6 is not too bad. I’d love to see an improvement in the smell of these products, but the benefits of Jamaican Black Castor Oil make it worth dealing with the smell for the most part.

What was your experience with this product line? Leave a comment below to share your experience.

Review: The 2015 Kate Spade Planner


Earlier this year, I fell for the Kate Spade 2015 Planner after reading so many positive reviews on it. It has excellent reviews and it is a rather nice-looking 17-month planner. Although I already had a planner that I was using for 2014-2015, I wanted one with more detailed space to write daily entries that was also small enough to fit in my larger purses. I am also very much enamored by the Kate Spade brand, so I splurged for the $36.00 planner. The $36.00 price tag is not as much as, say, an Erin Condren Planner, it’s quite a bit of money for a planner that’s not customized.

After purchasing the planner, I became a little stuck on how to actually use it. I already had a monthly calendar that I was using to mark important dates, doctor’s appointments, and meetings. I wanted a second planner to journal more personal things. I think that, after using an Erin Condren planner the year before, the Kate Spade planner came off as a bit plain and uninspiring.

I have actually had the planner for two months now and I’ve only just begun to use it. So far, I’ve been using the daily entry lines to write “to do” lists that I can mark off easily. I absolutely love the cover design on the planner that I chose. It mimics a bookshelf with classic book titles visible on some books, like Jane Austen. There is also a choice of polka-dot covers. The outer cover is a thick, durable material. It is a binder-style cover made to last for the entire 17 months. Mine does not have much wear and tear because I haven’t been using it consistently.

Inside, there are a few of the whimsical quotes that Kate Spade is known for. Each month begins with a monthly calendar, and each month has daily pages with lots of space to write. I like that there is a little folder pocket to hold papers that tend to accumulate and get stuffed inside of our planners. Lastly, there it comes with an elastic band attached to conveniently hold the binder closed.

Overall, it’s a nice, stylish, and functional planner that will be perfect for anyone who loves Kate Spade. For some people, there may not be enough stand-out features to make it worth the $36.00. If you’re looking for a highly customizable planner, I’d highly recommend that you check out the Erin Condren LIfe Planners.

*This post contains an affiliate link for I purchased the Kate Spade planner with my own funds and this is not a sponsored post.

What I’m Reading: Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success by Steve Harvey



Sometimes you just really want to be the leader of your own life.

This powerful quote from Steve Harvey’s private book session illustrates the type of motivational teachings that can be found in his new book Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life’s Riches.

I was browsing for a new non-fiction motivational book and I found this book  by New York Times Bestselling author Steve Harvey. Just a day before, I had been watching Steve Harvey and his wife on television and I felt really inspired by their interactions with each other. I felt like it was no coincidence that the very next day I came upon this book that I did not even know had been released. What really caught my attention, besides that catchy title that is reminiscent of his best-selling dating book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, was the back. It read:

This book is for you if…

  • You’re not excited about waking up and going to work in the morning.
  • You’re sitting around every day bored out of your mind.
  • You have time to do everything anyone asks you to do.
  • You have time to watch all of your scheduled TV programs every week as they air, and not miss an episode.
  • You’re getting more than enough sleep.
  • You’ve already accomplished a great deal in your life, and you’re wondering what’s next.

All of the above bullets pretty much apply to me, unfortunately. I don’t actually watch much TV, but, if I wanted to, I have the time. The bolded is the key indicator that stuck out to me the most. Yes, I have already accomplished a lot, but I’m stuck on what comes next. When I told a couple of people that I was reading this book, the first question that I got was, “Why?”

Most people told me, “You’re already a success!” While I do sincerely appreciate the compliment, that really depends on how you define “success.” While I do have degrees, a well-paying job, and have accomplished quite a bit at the age of 29, I’m still not where I want to be. The past 3 years of working in a large organization has taught me that I really do want to ultimately work for myself. I also feel downright bored with not having anything specific to study or any very difficult tasks to focus on conquering.

Lately, I haven’t been a “mover and shaker” like I used to be. Instead, I go to sleep early and sometimes sleep late. I have a hard time envisioning what my life will be like in 5-10 years, and oftentimes, minor setbacks, inconveniences, and bad news cause me to have anxiety. What I need to do is learn how to change my thinking. I may actually already be a success, but I certainly am not acting like or thinking like one. That’s where the book comes in.

Steve’s new book is all about “discovering your gift and the way to life’s riches. It’s not for people who want to “get rich.” Instead, it’s for people who want to live a rich life. I’m just beginning to read the book, but I’m already hooked. I”ll be following up with a full review once I’ve completed the reading. For now, check out this motivational video clip from Steve Harvey’s private book session for Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life’s Riches.


*This post contains affiliate links. If you buy the books through my link to Amazon, I get a small commission. Come back let me know in the comments how the book worked out for you!

Free Erin Condren Planner Cover!


Earlier this year, Erin Condren introduced interchangeable planner covers to her line of awesome planners, stationary, notebooks, and decorative decor. These interchangeable covers are awesome because they allow you to further personalize your already highly-customizeable planner. As it stands, Erin Condren planners are an investment. So, many people may be hesitant to add an additional cover for between $10.95-$15.95. If you are one of those people, you are in luck! As a “thank you” to customers, Erin Condren is offering a free – yes, free planner cover! All you have to do is create your cover and use the code FREECOVER at checkout (for up to a $10.95 value)! What a great deal! This just makes me love Erin Condren even more. Head on over to the site to check it out.

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