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"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing...kissing a lot. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls."
Audrey Hepburn


Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Nashville Boogie 2016



It has been more than a month since my return from the 2nd annual Nashville Boogie, and I feel it's time I said a few words about it. Now that the newness and the thrill has faded, it seems easier to give an honest review based on my memory of the highlights and the lowlights (or does that just apply to hair?).

This year, the Nashville Boogie took place between May 12-15 at the luxurious Gaylord Opryland Hotel and we all had very high hopes for it. The line up was incredible, and based on last year's success, it was by far 'the event' I wanted to attend in 2016. So did it measure up?

In a word, YES!



Simply put, I was very upset that I had to choose my event this year. My budget didn't allow for me to go to both VLV and the Boogie, and so we conscientiously booked rooms at both and waited for the band list to be announced. Although I like many of the bands that played Viva Las Vegas this year, the Boogie line-up was on a whole other level. Great international acts like Marcel Bontempi and the Go-Getters, as well as excellent artists in the states, like James Intveld and The Planet Rockers couldn't be denied. Although I knew I would miss my dear friends from the west coast, whom I only ever get to see at Viva, I knew that making the local choice this year was a much more responsible plan.


If you saw my Weekender Recap from last year, you know that the venue is a very big plus in this case. The Opryland Hotel is a legendary hotel of the south, being one of the largest non-gaming facilities in the world, and offers a whole world of options in terms of entertainment. While the food is still expensive, we made better choices this time, like eating our big meal of the day during lunch, so as to take advantage of the better pricing during that time. Wasabi, the asian eatery located with 'outdoor' seating in one of the hotel's three, lush conservatories, was especially yummy, as was the Jack Daniels Pub, which offers a lot of upscale comfort food. The cheesy grits were especially delectable at 11:30pm!



The bands we most looked forward to were staggered throughout Friday and Saturday, so we decided to sit out Thursday and spend that time with our kids, who had traveled to the area with us. We left them with family Friday morning and headed to the Opryland Resort just in time to check in and head to the main event venue for The Doel Brothers, one of my favorite acts of the weekend. The Doel Brothers hail from the UK and offer up some of the best traditional country that I've seen in a long time.
From that point on, the weekend was a rush of running back and forth to the Nashville Palace, where many of our favorite traditional acts were booked. We did a pretty good job hoofing it though, since we saw almost everyone we wanted to. Also, there was plenty of room to dance and cavort and people-watch to our hearts' content.

As far as negatives, there were very few. It was a bit of a walk from the main hotel to the principal venue, and the weather did get a bit chilly sometimes, but honestly who cares about a little stroll when Deke Dickerson is being backed by The Reverend Horton Heat!? I sure don't! And yeah, maybe the sound wasn't the best in one of the other showrooms, and maybe the cars were not as plentiful, but that was easily balanced by the abundance of great vintage shopping, a fabulous western couture fashion show, and the chance to see Chris Issak at the Grand Ol' Opry! So I certainly won't complain.

Let's just say, the Nashville Boogie is definitely shaping up to one of the best vintage themed festivals in the world, and there couldn't possibly be a better place for it than the birth state of so many great musical genres. So in my opinion, it's here to stay!

Give the following video a look-see, for a few more photos and a taste of some of the entertainment we enjoyed over the weekend.
Tim Next Time...
So Long, Dearies!






Friday, June 17, 2016

Using Foam Rollers in Vintage Styles


So many people have asked me to do another tutorial in 'real-time' of myself rolling my hair into a foam roller setting. I guess I sometimes forget that even the basics aren't so basic to those who are just starting out.

Therefore, I created the following tutorial, which is a bit lengthy and chatty, but which really tries to do just that...walk you through the basics of the foam roller set.

In it, we'll discuss a few of the following Frequently Asked Questions, which I will also answer in the most simple way here, but I do hope you'll also watch the demonstration since it's pretty important to the final process:

1. Why foam rollers instead of a curling iron? In southern United States humidity, as in many other tropical and humid parts of the world, a heated set just doesn't cut it...especially on straight hair. Foam rollers are one of several overnight sets I depend on to give myself that retro vibe without having to work too hard. It takes me about 15 minutes to roll up a haphazard set (about 20 to be more precise) and literally 5 minutes to style my hair after I unroll it the next morning. Now I don't do super complex styles for every day (or really ever) so this is the easiest thing I can do to my hair while still keeping it healthy!


2. Is a setting pattern important for every day hairstyles?
Probably not. You'll find that rolling you hair a certain way will likely become your favorite when it comes to the final outcome. But a 'setting pattern' is not necessary for a basic every day style.

3.Do I roll hair wet or dry? I see people do both! As a rule, towel-dried, straight-out-of-the-shower wet hair will be more trouble than it's worth! Not only is the hair more delicate when it's wet, thus risking breakage when you lay down to sleep on the rollers, but it most likely WON'T dry by morning, especially if your hair is wet! Even for the thinnest hair, I recommend starting with dried hair, prepped with a styling lotion, and spraying each section damp before you roll it, concentrating on the ends.

4. What setting lotion do I use? My all time favorite setting lotion was the Sahag Sculpt Mousse, which has been discontinued. Try to find a similar foam mousse that is good for crushable styling (get recommendations from your stylist perhaps) or go with the old standards: Motions Foaming Wrap Lotion and Lottabody Setting Lotion, both available at beauty supply shops. The former is more moisturizing so keep that in mind, and the latter has to be diluted and can sometimes make the hair a little 'crunchy' so use it sparingly.

5. How tightly Do I wind the curl? Pretty tightly! Start at the end of the hair, wrap the ends first. Then tightly roll upwards to the scalp before claiming in place. A tight roll guarantees that the curl will keep its shape as the foam base relaxes and the hair dries.

6. Do I protect the curls as I sleep? With what? I use a chiffon hair scarf OR a hair net interchangeably. The net has more 'give' but also holds nicely and won't slip. So it's probably the best choice. It's also a good option for protection other roller sets. Not a good option for pin curls,however, since the clips will likely tear the net.

Other questions and concerns are discussed in the following embedded video. Thanks so much for sticking around, Dearies!!


xoxo,
Ashley


Friday, June 10, 2016

Belle Blossoms Giveaway!



My friend Heather, at Belle Blossoms, has had a busy few years. Not only was she baking a baby (twice) for the majority of the time, but she still kept adding gorgeousness to her site!

As you know, Belle Blossoms has been a supporter of mine since WAY back...I'm talkin' 2009-sh. So I'm always happy when she sends me new stuff to review and demands that I give some of it to you guys as well! This time, the selection is out of this world. Lots of beautiful extravagant blossoms and don't forget those Grip Tuth side combs and fascinators! She's also just stocking some nylon head scarves for ya'll! So make sure you check out the site here, as well as visit the video embedded below so you can enter to win some of these babies for yourselves!

Giveaway is open to everyone and rules are posted in the info bar of the video. And if you decide to go ahead and purchase you also have the added perk of a 20% discount if you use coupon code LFS16! It's a win-win, so knock yourselves out!





Sunday, April 17, 2016

Retrospec'd -The Elizabeth Dress and Why You Need It



I first discovered Retrospec'd a few years ago at Viva Las Vegas. I was doing behind-the-scenes event coverage for Miss L Fire and the gals from Retrospec'd were wearing that brand's shoes during the show. It was a blast making the video, but most importantly, I discovered a brand I'd never known about and whose quality I can vouch for first hand! These dresses are spectacular, gorgeously made, and universally flattering. They also make menswear and the guys walked the runway as well, which made the whole show very picturesque and polished.


So anyway, two years have passed and I still hadn't bought myself a Retrospec'd frock. Not sure why. I think I just felt like I couldn't decide, mainly. I knew I wanted one of their pastoral landscape prints but there were so many beauties to choose from that I couldn't make up my mind. Then, the Gay Pari made its entrance and baby, I was SOLD. This print just titillated me for so many reasons. I love the color scheme, the subject matter, the placement on the dresses. And the Elizabeth dress, in this print, made me SWOON. I knew the Elizabeth was probably the style I'd choose anyway, but I had another print in mind until this one came along. And I'm so glad it did!

The package arrived one afternoon when I was at work so I was on pins and needles until I got home. When I saw it, I'll admit to being pretty confused. It was so slim and lightweight; it seemed like there had to just be a blouse in there! It seemed that such a feather-light full circle skirted dress would be very thin and skimpy. Thankfully, when I removed it from the packaging I was thrilled to see that the fabric was gorgeous, and actually felt much more substantial than I would think possible at the price point. It has a subtle sheen and the colors are even more vibrant than they appeared in pictures!

The style looks exactly as the pictured frocks on the website, and when I tried it on, I was over-the-moon to see how well it fit! Mine is the size 10, which accommodates me with absolutely no hitches. The top fits flatteringly over the bust and includes some gathering that accentuates the curve of the busom, but it doesn't gap open at all, something that really impressed me for the surplice style neckline it features.


The waist fits smoothly and neatly when I'm not in firm support garments, but when I am, it doesn't look bunchy or 'off'. More points!


I always wear a petticoat beneath my circle skirts, and the style of this one is perfect for that since it falls smoothly over the extra lift. I was comfortable and confident the entire night.

To sum up, I'll just say that this dress is more than I ever anticipated ( as I should have expected from my first hand view of them at the show) but also has proven to be one of the best I've ever owned.


I guess it goes without saying that purchasing from Retrospec'd in the future is a no-brainer!!
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All pictures taken by Jerry Plunk of Plunk Kreativ, Memphis Tn. Shot on location in Downtown Memphis at the Cotton Exchange Building.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Strivectin Hair Care


When I started this blog, I always intended to populate it with more product reviews and I really enjoy giving my opinion on stuff. But these have fallen by the wayside lately, mainly because other than my brand specific posts, I haven't been motivated to say much about anything.

Strivectin hair care though-that's a horse of a different color.

I have some history with Strivectin. When I first started working the cosmetics department, I tried almost everything they offered. Some stuff impressed me (the retinol cream is really gentle and mild, but also sorta works) and some not so much (the tightening cream makes me red and itchy). Their key patented ingredient is the NIA-114 complex, which they tout as the star of their products and they stick it in everything. What is it? They're super vague on the website but when you Google it, it takes you to a not-as-easily-accessible page with this description:
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NIA-114™ is the patented molecule found in StriVectin-SD® products. With its unique micronutrient delivery system, NIA-114™ penetrates the skin, delivers Niacin to the skin cells and enables healing from within to promote healthier, more beautiful looking skin.

Just as its name suggests, NIA-114™ is delivered from Niacin. Many are familiar with the oral form of Niacin, a water-soluble micronutrient found in a number of commonly eaten foods. As a nutritional supplements, Niacin aids in cholesterol reduction and energy metabolism. More recently, a topical form of it has emerged as a key factor in helping the skin protect and repair itself from sun damage and aging.

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Sounds okay, I guess. I don't really care as long as it works and doesn't irritate my skin, but whatever.

So yeah, NIA-114 is in the haircare too, for whatever that's worth. I don't know that it really makes a difference and the REALLY interesting thing is that the hair products don't seem to be on the official website yet at all. They're being sold at Ulta, Sephora, Dillard's and the like, but it's almost as though the company isn't claiming them until they see how they're received.

Where they're being sold, they're being marketed with this terminology:
Strivectin Hair Color Care Shampoo with patented NIA-114 + CHROMALAST PROTEIN COMPLEX.

That's for the Color Care option, but there are two other formulas as well that I've not tried yet. One is for volume and the other is a replenishing/restoring variety that is supposed to help stimulate new hair growth for thinning hair.

So now, let's discuss a few key factors about the Strivectin Color Care products I've tried.

THE FEEL:

The shampoo is thick, yellowish, and glossy. A little goes a long way. It's free of sulfates and parabens, like all my favorite haircare products. The fragrance is light, clean, and exhilarating, with no clingy perfumes or residue. The lather is luxuriant, unlike a lot of sulfate free shampoos...so that's a big win for me. I will say that it does make my hair feel sort of dry and matted after rinsing, although there's no doubt that it's clean because it also easily passes the 'squeak' test. Once the conditioner is applied, however, that straw-ish feel goes away completely and my hair feels super soft and supple.

The conditioner is very very thick, creamy white, and my sample bottle needed to be squeezed in order to get it out. A little also goes a long way though and like I said, it rinses into a clean but very soft feel.

The booster is light, like a gel, pale yellow in color and hardly noticeable on the hair. It's supposed to remain on the hair for 3 minutes as you bathe or whatever, then rinsed.

THE RESULTS:

After drying, my hair has never felt better, honestly. It's got a bouncy soft feel that has no hint of residue and styles beautifully. I've gone three days after washing and no greasy feel has developed, even after styling products have built up at the roots. I do apply a little cornstarch baby powder at the roots in the morning, to freshen it up, but it really does feel cleaner longer. My hair color hasn't faded significantly since I started using it but I don't know that I really care about that aspect of it all that much, because my hair feels just THAT good. The booster is not really a repurchase for me as of yet; I really haven't noticed it brightening my color much and think putting a little Manic Panic or Punky Color into my conditioner would still do a better job for color longevity.

THE SCORE:

All in all, I'm utterly thrilled with this product and if I can't afford the 25.00 price tag every time, I will at least switch this up with my current drugstore products. NIA-114 or not, my hair does feel stronger and more resilient so I'm willing to give that stuff some credit. You can purchase the sampler kit, like I got, before you buy the full sized stuff so that makes it a win-win anyway. Do I recommend it? Heck. Yeah.

My Rating: 10/10 (and as always, if that changes, I'll let you know.)

Til' next time, so long dearies!

xoxo,
Ashley


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Classic Pin Up Hairstyle for Short Hair!

So my hair is growing out really quickly...seriously, every day it's a little different. I think it's interesting because when my hair is past my shoulders, I feel like it takes forever for it to get any longer. Since it's been cut short, the grow-out process is lickety-split! Almost too quick, actually. I wanted to do more 1920's hairstyles before it got past that point, but never got a chance. So maybe someday. Til' then, there are so many great pin up prints that showcase hair at my current length...I mean, check this out-short hair was so en vogue!:


And then there is the lady of the hour, this darling print by Gil Elvgren from 1958:

Styles like this one tend to be pretty easy because they are rarely complicated, so as to translate to a painting. This is no exception. I opted to use my Remington Tight Curls, which aren't the best choice for high humidity environments like mine usually, but they worked out okay in this case. Foam rollers would have been a better option. Either way, prep your hair a bit before you blow it dry with a little setting lotion or mousse.


The Steps:

1. Part Hair on the side. If your bangs form a natural cowlick like mine, then you've got that part of the style well in hand. Otherwise, while your hair is still damp, you'll want to part the bangs so they've got this little bit of separation that you see.

2. Roll all hair downwards, using your rollers or Tight Curls. No method here really, just get it up there.

3. Allow hair to 'process' for about 30 minutes to an hour, if you're using a heated set, or until completely cool. This is imperative for longevity. If you're using a wet set, just make sure your hair is completely dry before unrolling.

4. Unroll and run your hands through the curls.

5. Using your Denman Styling Brush, brush out the curls into fluffy waves.

6. If your bangs were too short to incorporate into the roller set, curl them with a small curling iron. Integrate this into the rest of your style, spraying with your favorite hair spray as you see fit.

7. Lastly, either balance the heavy side of the style out with a hair flower or other accessory, as I did in the video, or use a side comb to secure the side like our painted lady.

And you're done!

As always, if you have any questions or requests, feel free to post them in the comments below. Or better yet, visit the video embedded below by clicking on it and letting it take you to Youtube. Those questions and comments are notified to me via email.



Tim next time, So Long Dearies!!

xoxo,
Ashley


Friday, March 18, 2016

Diamonds & Dames Does: Nora Charles


For my most recent episode of Diamonds & Dames, I decided to consider the request of those who have been hankering after a Nora Charles (Myrna Loy) hairstyle on my channel requests for a while. Since my hair is in a bob, the only real differences between my hair and Loy's is that her's is cut slightly longer in the back ,as per the style of the day, and mine has bangs. But since those things aren't detrimental to the look I was aiming for, I broke out my foam rollers and pin curl clips to tackle it anyway.


A little about the movie...

The Thin Man (1934)
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Nick and Nora Charles are a happily married couple living in upper society New York when Nick is approached by an acquaintance about doing some detective work. Since Nick hasn't been a detective for years, he balks at the idea, but Nora eggs him on since this is all very exciting and new to her. Amid cocktail parties, witty banter, kooky friends, and stellar 1930's fashions, the case is solved- leaving Nick and Nora more nauseatingly inlove than ever.

Myrna Loy has never been more irresistibly charming than she is as Nora, and she and William Powell's Nick have some of the best onscreen chemistry in history. Dashiell Hammett was the creator of these gumshoe stories and the plots are sometimes predictable, but the offbeat humor, oddball characters, and never-ending supply of one-liners make the movies utterly timeless. Part of this is thanks to Van Dyke's direction, which keeps the story clipping along even if we aren't necessarily on the edge of our seats.

My Rating: 10/10
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The Tutorial:

For this style, I used pin curls on the top and sides and small foam rollers in the lower sections along the nape. The reason for this is that my hair is still cut somewhat asymmetrically after my pixie grow-out process. So pin curls are still difficult on those lower sections. I sprayed each section with simple water before rolling it up, although my hair did have some setting mousse scattered through it beforehand. For those of you who wonder, I still am using the remains of my last can of the Sahag Sculpt Mousse (which is now unavailable unless you are super lucky) but will likely go back to Lottabody Setting Lotion when I'm finished.

The style I chose from the film was one of several that Myrna Loy wore. Her bob was at times peppered with accessories, at times center parted, at times side parted. Since I have a super angry little cowlick, I opted for the latter at this time.


After my hair was completely dry (morning, since I slept on the set), I removed my trusty headscarf and began releasing the clips and rollers. From there, styling this one is very simple and involves very little effort. A basic knowledge of brushing out a vintage set is necessary, but if you're not familiar with that process, it really just means that after the initial brush out, when hair gets super frizzy, you just have to keep brushing. Brushing 'past the frizz' is an age-old technique and still works beautifully today. You will see waves begin to develop instead of frizzy curls and you can then take hands and perhaps a little pomade to begin molding those waves into place. Since I have bangs, I had to clip them out of the way and work my top hair over them to somewhat mimc the look of Loy. But if you don't have bangs, you should be able to more closely copy her casual look by brushing back, pushing forward, and repeating that process until you have your desired look. As far as product goes, I used very few. I strongly believe that a Denman Styling Brush is a MUST-HAVE for vintage styles and if you're lucky enough to find the now-discontinued Vintage Glam Thermal Shine Spray, make sure to grab it!

Otherwise, here is the video from last week. As always, let me know if you have any questions!

So Long, Dearies!!