Goodbye, Midnight Baby

In my last blog, I talked a lot about my mom’s cats and how much I’ve grown to love them. I talked about how I was worried about the day they wouldn’t be here and how they reminded me so much of my mom, especially Emme.

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Ten days after that blog was posted, I had to put Emme to sleep. Its as if I subconsciously KNEW this horrible event was coming. She had a foreign object in her tummy that caused her poor little body to shut down. She began getting sick on a Saturday and I found her the following Wednesday morning laying with her head in her water bowl. She had already made up her mind it was time to go. I took her to the vet and after hearing Dr. Novak say “I think your baby girl is trying to pass”, I knew it had to be done. I held Emme as she left, kissing her sweet head over and over, telling her that she had changed my opinion on cats. I loved her so, so much but it was time for her to be with our mom again.

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My heart was and still is broken. I took the day after off work and literally cried all day. I cried for Emme and my mom but also, I cried for Layla, my other cat who has lost both her mom & sister in a 4 month span. She meows as she wanders around, looking under tables, chairs and behind the plants for Emme. She doesn’t understand and is absolutely in mourning. I try to hold her and love on her as much as she will allow. I need her to know that she is safe and with people who love her so, so much.

The picture on the right is one I took  after I had woken up on my couch to discover I was being used as a bed. Straight cat butt all up in my face… but I absolutely loved it! Layla is waaaaaay more skittish than Emme ever was and to have her trusting & loving on me makes me feel special. She is so tiny (and fluffy!) at barely 5 pounds, making me want to protect her even more. If I could carry her with me everywhere, I would. I understand this whole “cat person” thing now but I will never understand how some can’t

The house is a lot more quite without Emme. I miss our conversations and her dove-like “cooing” noises. I miss her Buddha belly and her sitting like a fattie after eating too much. I miss her emerald eyes and seeing her peek out at me from behind the plants. I really never thought I would love & miss a kitty cat as much as I miss her.

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This is the last picture I took of my midnight baby, days before she passed. I’m so happy she held on long enough for me to cradle her as she went to be with our mom. I feel so fortunate to have been there with her the same way I was there for mom’s passing. The vet took such sweet care of her afterward and included these paw prints of honor along with her ashes. I’m thinking of turning one of those prints into another tattoo soon. I’ll be finishing my mom’s tribute piece at the end of month and I simply can’t wait.

 

Thirty Days

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It’s been 30 days since my mom passed away. An entire month has gone by.

I’ve checked my phone dozens of times, making sure I don’t have any missed calls from her. I’ve gone on walks and thought about calling her just to say hello or tell her what new show just got announced.

But then I remember.
And my heart sinks.

I listen to the voicemail’s of hers I have saved on my phone and as painful as it is, I find myself smiling. I’m able to hear her laugh or roll my eyes at one of her lame jokes. The sound of her voice is comforting and helps my heart to not hurt as bad.

It’s been 30 days and it feels like it all happened a lifetime ago. It doesn’t feel like I watched my mother leave this world 720 hours ago. It feels so much longer.

Yet, I still can barely wrap my head around the fact. Its hard to believe that she’s not here anymore.  My mind plays those last few days on repeat. I remember all of it. I remember how awful it was…and how sad I am that my mom went through what she did.

As I continue living & breathing, because my mom was cremated, I can take her with me and let her do the travelling she always wished she could do. I plan to spread her ashes in places she loved and places I know she WOULD have loved. Whenever I go out of the country, any time I go to a beach and I’m sure, at some point, something will happen after a concert…whenever the time feels right.

Today, I went to one of my favorite places: the Raleigh Little Theatre  Rose Garden. My mom loved flowers and I had hoped to take her to this place. When I think about it, I had hoped to do a lot of things… but unfortunately, our time ran out. I sprinkled the most minute amount of ashes amongst the soil so she could become a part of the garden itself. With the sun shining down and gorgeous butterflies fluttering about, it felt like she was there with me. I wish she physically was…

…I would love to have one more hug from my momma bear.

I’ve been a technical “adult” since I was 21. I’ve lived on my own, had a job, been in relationships and all the other “adult” things you do. But I can honestly say, I’ve never felt like a true adult until the passing of my mother. The person I have always had in my corner is gone. I am, for real, all on my own now. Yes, I have love and friends and family. But I am motherless. I am 100% an adult for real now… this is what my mom had been preparing me for all along. Making sure that I would be OK when she was no longer here for me to fall back on. Well Mom, I’m OK but I still wish like hell that you were here. I’ve never missed someone so much…

In my previous post “These Past Two Months: My Mother’s Legacy“, I mentioned one of the “gifts” my mom received while in the hospital on her birthday. I thought of a photo of it today would be most appropriate. The nurses staff at Duke not only sang to her but made her the most precious hat out of a bedpan (new & unused, thank you!), gauze, tape and cut-up gowns. As odd as it sounds, it was so sweet and made my mom feel so special. It was her favorite thing that she received on her last birthday, if you can believe that! I still have it and will keep it always.

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These Past Two Months: My Mother’s Legacy

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The whirlwind I have been going through these past two months has begun to settle but has yet to stop impacting me on a mental & emotional level. It has been 8 days now since my mother has passed away. Since my mother has died.

My mother has died.

I’ve said it out loud several times and now I’m writing it. And it still doesn’t feel real. I’m not sure if it ever will.

As I sit here listening to Tori Amos’ “Little Earthquakes” album, I can’t help but reminisce on my angsty adolescence and how silly my mom and I were. We definitely had some weird, not-so-good times but there were just too many times that were SO great and SO fun and SO magical… that those weird, not-so-good times were nearly erased. Letting go of years of pent-up teen angst is such an emotional stress reliever…I highly recommend it. It’s unfortunate that it usually takes such a BIG situation like this one for us to fully let go of the “crap” that’s weighing us down and finally be at ease.

Yesterday, I realized that I had chronicled these last few weeks with my mom via Facebook statuses. I put them in order and read through everything. Regardless of the negative aspects I feel towards social media (that’s a whole other blog post), I’m thankful I was able to keep a record of the events that occurred & my thoughts during this incredibly difficult time. It definitely helped me cope and will always help me to remember (and treasure) the time I spent with my bestest friend ever, who I am missing enormously.

There are 9 posts altogether, complete with photos and links to music that have been a huge shoulder for me to cry on…
momma_beatI shared my Mother’s Day post along with the first update when the sickness really began to take it’s full effect in June of this year:

May 8, 2016: (This photo was taken the day my mom found out she was pregnant with lil’ ol me. I love how happy she looks and the fact that her earrings match her romper. To say that I adore this woman is an understatement. She gave me my love of rock & roll and instilled in me that everyone has feelings. She raised me the best that she could and I thank her for that. She’s been my best pal for the past 32 years; through thick & thin. I love her and thank my lucky stars that I have a mom who loves me as much as she does.)

June 21, 2016: My mom has been in the hospital since Thursday afternoon. Her liver has pretty much stopped functioning, leaving her beyond exhausted with no energy or appetite. Today she may be moved to a rehabilitation center in hopes to start working on building her strength but its all still up in the air. For any one out there who believes in karma and good vibes, send a little of those vibes towards my mom. She could use some loving energy.

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I shared an old photo of me as a little girl for a Flashback Friday post at the beginning of July:

July 1, 2016: Flashback Friday to wearing Chuck Taylor’s at 3 years old… thanks mom for making me the coolest kid in daycare! Going through old photos, its so easy to see how much my mom (and grandmother) loved me. I may have grown up in a bad neighborhood but I indeed had a happy childhood. My birthday parties were so fun and Christmas was always magical. I was spoiled with gifts for sure but the love I received on a daily basis made the greatest impact. I have never and will never doubt that I am a loved gal with a crazy, caring mom who is indeed one-of-a-kind.

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A ramble that needed to fall from my head:

July 5, 2016: “I can’t go back to yesterday – I was a different person then.” My energy has been lagging a bit lately and my emotions have been all over the place. Dealing with a sick parent is not easy. There are so many conflicting emotions that pull me in all different directions. The melancholy of my mental state comes and goes and my spirit is quite heavyhearted. When I look in the mirror, instead of seeing the woman I’ve become, I see the little girl that resides within. I’m scared about a lot of things but at the same time, I’ve discovered new strengths in myself that I didn’t know I embodied. It’s easy to get lost in thoughts of the past and comparing the what-ifs and the if-onlys. But each day, it gets a little easier to unwrap the fear & the darkness, replacing them with love & light.

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A Throwback Thursday post:

July 7, 2016: My mom was the same age as I am now in this photo. She came home yesterday from the Rehabilitation Center she’s been in for the past two weeks (after her one week hospital stay). She was happy to see her cats again and be back in comfortable & familiar surroundings. Thank you to everyone who has written to me, talked with me, texted me and sent good vibes toward my mom & me. We’ll continue taking things a day at a time and hope for more good times than bad. Sending out mucho love to you Momma… keep fightin’!!
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My update near the end of July, when the seriousness of the situation began to really sink in:

July 25, 2016: 

LIFE UPDATE
My mom went back into the hospital on Saturday. She’s at the main Duke hospital, which is where the liver specialists are at. She is so weak and jaundiced, with her confusion getting worse. She is so, so sick and the meds she needs to take to keep the toxins out of her body keeps her feeling nauseous, making her not want to take her meds. I understand it but at the same time, if the rolls were reversed and this were me, she would beg me to take the meds. It’s so hard to see the woman who brought me into this world in this condition. I’m just glad I can be there for her and remind her how much I love her. The exhaustion I’m feeling is heavy and the weight of the situation is constantly running around in my head. I may be strong but there are times when that strength isn’t enough… please keep sending good vibes toward my mommy.
Simonne Jones “Gravity” (acoustic)


I knew I had a little bit of time left to do a last few great things for my mom. I wanted her to have an incredible birthday, especially if it was going to be her last. So I posted an invite that turned out better than I could have ever imagined:

July 26, 2016:
 My mom’s birthday is on *Thursday*. She’s still at Duke Hospital on the fourth floor (under Debbie Garner). If anyone has a little extra time to spare, visitors would be MUCH appreciated on that day between 12-6. My mom could use a lot of love right now and it would mean the world to my aunt and I. Even if you don’t know my mom personally, saying hello and offering a smile on her birthday would be a really wonderful gift. She’s sitting up and talking, still cracking jokes and being my silly mom… she’s just tired. If you would feel more comfortable with me there, know I plan to be at the hospital the majority of the day. 🙂 Please message me if you would like her room number… thanks for reading this. momma.jpg

The next to last update was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write:

August 2, 2016:
LIFE UPDATE
This is the hardest thing I have ever experienced and has been so exhaustingly awful to watch my mom get so sick, so fast. The hospice nurse today, who has been doing this for over 10 years, said she feels like mom has days to a week. Knowing that I will soon be on this Earth without her is the worst pain I think I will ever know…and I still can’t believe its coming so soon. She just had her 63rd birthday this past Thursday, July 28th. She went into hospice care at her sister’s house the following day. Luckily, she had a lot of visitors on her birthday (thank you again to each and every one of you; my mom’s heart was truly touched), received so many flowers and cards. Even the nursing staff came in her room to sing Happy Birthday and made her a hat out of a bedpan and gowns. As weird as it sounds, it was the cutest & sweetest gift…my mom had an amazing birthday. She said it was one of the best she’s ever had (and being stuck in a hospital at the time, that’s saying a lot). The nurses staff said they hadn’t seen that many flowers in one patients’ room before. Being able to do that for her and to be able to say my goodbyes to her has made me feel so fortunate. I’m able to remind her of my love for her and reminisce on all of our amazing stories and to just be there for her.. its agonizing but at the same time, I feel so so fortunate. That’s all I can really say.

Today, I inked my arms with the handwriting of my mom and my grandmother Sarah, who passed away in 2007. One of the last cards I ever received from my grandmother, she signed with an “I love you”, which is now on my right forearm. A few days ago, while my mom could still write, I had her write down “I love you” as best as she could. I had the artist throw in a music note so I always have that love for (and from) my mom and our love for music closest to my heart, on my left forearm. To say they are my most precious tattoos is an understatement…I love them so, so much.

family_tats(Mom; Grandmother)

Until I had to write this one…

August 9, 2016: On Friday, August 5… my mother passed away from liver disease. She went into hospice care the previous Friday…and I was with her everyday. She received so many flowers and had many visitors, including childhood friends she had lost touch with over the years. They came to remind her of their love and express all the things they needed to say. I know how thankful they all are and am so glad they were able to visit. My mom loved all of you very, very much. Her weakness turned to restlessness on Wednesday, August 3. My aunt, Cheryl (my mom’s sister) and I began administering her medication to keep her agitation and pain at bay. She was still able to talk but only short sentences. At nearly 5am, after giving her a dose a medication and swabbing her mouth with wet cotton swabs, I told her how much I loved her. And she whispered “I love you, too”. Those were my mother’s last words to me and to say that I am one fortunate individual doesn’t even begin to describe my gratitude to this crazy universe we live in.

Back in June, when my mom was in rehab and she was nowhere near as sick as she became, she asked me what sign I would want when she was no longer here. Of course, I requested a hummingbird and she said she knew that’s what I would want. I haven’t seen hummingbirds at my house this entire year. On Saturday, August 6, the day after my mom passed away, I looked out my patio window and there was a hummingbird at the door, who then quickly flew away. My heart was beyond happy. No one saw it but me. Later on in the day when I was napping, my sister and Jacob were outside talking.. and a hummingbird flew up to both of them. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

It’s amazing how therapeutic music can be in times like this. When I first heard this song a couple of years ago, it stopped me in my tracks and broke my heart. The exquisite expression of grief in this song was so moving and beautiful, marking it as one of the greatest songs ever written (yes, it’s THAT good). I never quite imagined that I would live the subject matter and experience that kind of anguish personally. I thank Nothing More for this song… it is everything right now. To everyone that has reached out, sent cards and flowers, visited or simply just kept my family in your thoughts, thank you so, so much. Words can never express my eternal gratitude but you all helped and are still helping me get through this…❤ “God Went North”


I waited a full week before I made another post. There was so much to be done and so much to take in (and continue taking in). But that Friday was a really hard day for me…

August 12, 2016: It’s been a week. In seven hours, it will be exactly one week since my mom took her last breath. I am still numb and incredibly, incredibly sad. The word ‘sad’ seems so small for a feeling this big. There is a piece of me that’s missing and my heart is broken. However, at the same time, I am so incredibly happy and so at peace that it almost seems too good to be true. I still feel ridiculously fortunate to have had these last two months with my mom, as painful as they were, I was with her the whole entire way… all the way until the very end. I feel beyond privileged to have been there in her final moments… that my wonderful momma bear was finally at peace.

This photo is the last one I took of my mom. It was in between visitors on her birthday, after she had just received a bouquet of sunflowers from a dear friend. My mom was absolutely elated on her birthday; she was genuinely happy and felt very, very loved. I think it’s easy to see in the expression on her face.

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Again, music has played a huge part in my support system (as well as all of the incredible people in my life). There are a handful of songs that I’ve been playing over & over that have been helping me cope. Maria of In This Moment wrote “You Always Believed” for her mother, with lyrics that seem to be pulled straight from my head & heart. This song will hold a special place in my heart for eternity now…it’s exactly how I feel towards my momma bear, always & forever.

I think back on the years we shared
All the times you stood be me
All the pain you wiped away
All the things you ever said
I think back how you carried me
And you never once have doubted me
And you were my
My hero through it all

I thank you for the moments of your life
And never giving up on me

And you held me through it all
And you never let me fall
And you let me fly away
And you always believed

I think back how you overcame
All the times you could have slipped
The way you fought the winds of change
All the times your wings were clipped
You taught me how to reach the stars
You taught me how to heal my scars
And you were my
My hero through it all

I thank you for the moments of your life
And never giving up on me

And you held me through it all
And you never let me fall
And you let me fly away
And you always believed in me…

August 13, 2016: I received her urns in the mail yesterday and they are everything I could have asked for. My mom was the biggest book worm I’ve ever known. Ask ANYONE who knew her what her biggest vice was and they will tell you books! During her time in the hospital and up until her final hours, my mom had a throw blanket of mine with her to keep her warm. It was so soft and covered with multi-colored owls. She loved it so much… so I combined two of those loves into one. 🙂
momma_urnAnd then of course, I absolutely had to have a hummingbird. This photo does it no justice: it is such a beautiful & sparkly memorial piece.

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I know my mom would approve of them both because they are just so perfect. I simply wish I could show her. But I know, somehow…

…she sees them. 🙂

 

NC Pride in the Rain Outside

Today, I stood out in the rain with one of my best guy friends Dan, amongst hundreds of other people to celebrate NC’s 31st Annual Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual + Transgender Festival. The parade was on Duke University‘s Campus which, despite its paths of mud that my boots kept getting stuck in, is quite lovely.

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Once we checked out the variety of vendor tents, we came upon the small group of angry hate throwers that always have to show their mean ol’ faces and we had to get a closer look at their thought-provoking signs. I’ll never understand why anyone wants to waste their energy on proclaiming hate during a time when people come together + are happy. But they were highly outnumbered by the amount of advocates and anytime they tried to preach, their words would be drowned out by positivity from supporters, like the Carolina Rollergirls cheering “SKATE NOT HATE“. There was also a really amazing woman walking back + forth in front of them, yelling about the positive impacts of organizations like Planned Parenthood and The LGBT Center of Raleigh, holding up a jar for donations  You can kind of see her behind backwards hat guy in the photo above. She was loud + proud + awesome. Notice the sign of the cross between Dan and I… yes.

copcarPINKThe parade was led by this dazzling pink sheriff’s car which made my pink-loving heart all a-flutter. There were a lot of political figures showing their support and tons of kids with ridiculous energy having an absolute blast. Many of the floats had candy throwers and I got oodles of Sweet-Tarts’ trollopy cousin, Sassy Tarts which totally made me laugh.

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There was this magical man dressed as my spirit animal, the glorious hummingbird, which symbolizes the enjoyment of life and lightness of being. This magnificent little bird easily dismisses negativity or bad vibes + is a great reminder to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. I cheered quite loudly for Mr. Humming Bird… he was beyond fabulous!

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On top of doggie-related vendors + what looked like a doggie-daycare, there were many a pooch on parade, which made me even happier than I already was. I had to run out and give this guy a quick smooch for his collar was superb and his face was beautiful! His name was Melvin and he smelled like Cheerios.
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Even though the weather was quite poopy and the rain couldn’t figure out what it wanted to do, everyone was super happy and in great spirits. It was a really beautiful time and I’m so happy I went, despite the cold I will probably come down with. I ran into an old friend, ate some of the best nachos I’ve ever had EVER from Chubby’s Taco and left with a bag full of condoms, slap bracelets, and Sassy Tarts. Saturday was grande.

Plus, I found Jesus…
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Skin Care Secret Weapons

I’m often asked about my clear skin + “youthful glow” (not my words). After my discovery of makeup + fashion magazines in middle school, I became a moisturizing fiend. I put it on every morning, anytime after I’ve washed my face or showered and right before bed. Being in my 30’s now, those fiendish ways have gone full blown obsessive! I’m NEVER without my moisturizer. I’ve tried many different kinds: cheap, OTC drugstore creams to high end, super ‘spensive tubs of goo. And to be honest, most of my favorite products are under $10. I’m a HUGE fan of Dermalogica but sometimes, my wallet is not. The only brand I’ve wanted to try (moisturizing-wise) but have yet to do so is La Mer because hello, that stuff is super DUPER ‘spensive!

Below, you’ll find all of my skin care secret weapons! Please keep in mind, what works for me may NOT work for you, depending on your skin type. I have super dry skin as well as eczema on my cheeks + scalp (thanks mom + dad) so most products I use promote mucho hydration (something that someone with oily skin may not necessarily need).

Currently, I’m using St. Ives Timeless Skin Collagen and Elastin Facial Moisturizer, which I absolutely adore. On top of being roughly $5, its super light + hydrating for my dry skin, is non-greasy and does NOT cause breakouts. Elastin proteins + collagen help improve elasticity while safflower oil + glycerin hydrate to combat dry, rough skin. Its a big win for my thirsty, Sahara-like face.

 

Because of my dry skin, I need all the help I can get to remove the dead skin from my face.  I do a weekly enzyme peel with my handy-dandy Peter Thomas Roth FirmX Peeling Gel, which has become a HUGE exfoliating life-savor.  After washing + drying my face, I gently massage this gel in a circular motion to to roll, lift and sweep away the dead skin cells; you can literally see the grossness clumping up on your face! This is definitely the most expensive product currently in my skincare regimen that I use on a weekly basis but its an absolute necessity. It keeps that layer of microscopic dirt, dead skin + other ickies at a minimum (which can definitely help your makeup go on MUCH smoother).

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However, my main secret weapon for all things skin-care is the one and only coconut oil.

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Ladies (and gents), allow coconut oil to be your best friend!! Not only is it ridiculously cheap but it has SO many health benefits for your hair, skin, teeth, nails as well as your insides! It contains lots of easily digestible, fat-soluble vitamins: A,D,E and K. (Vitamin A is good for the immune system, Vitamin E has strong antioxidant properties for the skin and can provide some protection against UV rays, Vitamin D is good for strong bones and teeth, and Vitamin K is good for blood-clotting.) There are also self-massage benefits, which i will talk about more in my Healthy Sunday blog. Do your own research on coconut oil to read about even more benefits. 

5 favorite uses for coconut oil
UNO. Makeup remover
(before I wash my face; sometimes I mix it in with my face wash)
DOS. Shaving
(its way more hydrating than ANY shave cream + forget razor burn)
TROIS. Hair Masque
(I soak my entire head once or twice a month for at least 30 minutes)
QUATRE. Sugar + Oil scrub for scalp (combine to a grainy paste-like texture)
(mean ol’ eczema: I WILL fight you! The sugar is a gentle exfoliant that feels so wonderful on tight dry scalps like mine. I do this 2-3 times a month)
FIVE. Sugar + Oil Foot scrub (combine to same grainy paste-like texture as above)
(not only does this get your feet baby soft but it feels UHmazing)

I could go on and on about why I love coconut oil so much but I have one last important “secret weapon” I want to talk about: Essentia Water.
Essentia-Water
This stuff is my heaven in a bottle. I have one with me nearly all the time. Its super hydrating, velvety texture is one that cannot really be described but must be experienced and it has honestly turned me into a water snob. In the past, I’ve had awful experiences with bacterial infections due to my PH getting wonky during that time of the month and being prescribed antibiotics for said infections. The bad thing about antibiotics is that while they get rid of the bad bacteria, they also take with it, the good bacteria, leaving you on a merry-go-round of endless infections. The trick that I found, after many, MANY uncomfortable months was a lovely combination of probiotics (Fem-Dophilus works miracles) and water water water WATER! I had done some research on how to control my PH balance myself and came across alkaline water, which helps to neutralize acid in the bloodstream that causes your PH to rise. Essentia water has a PH of 9.5, which means through ionization, acidic ions are removed and a charge is passed through the water, literally energizing it. The taste is so smooth + refreshing and in my opinion, helped me clear out all that crummy bad bacteria in a much healthier and natural way through simple hydration. Hydrating from the inside out not only affects your inner organs but your huge, outer organ called…yep, SKIN. When your skin lacks hydration, it lets you know by turning dry, tight and flaky. Then, while drinking your H20, apply more moisturizer.

Look it up. I promise its all true.

What some of your favorite moisturizers?
Have you tried Essentia?

jennEssentia
(a random shot of me clutching my heaven in a bottle)

And FYI, none of the companies listed here paid me in any way to promote their products. These are my true, genuine opinions…

Porch Fly Clothing

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As a growing source of art, entertainment and education, Raleigh, the second most populated city in North Carolina (after Charlotte), is rich with an incredibly talented local scene. From circus arts to breweries; restaurants and rad clothing designers, there is always something new + exciting going on in “The City of Oaks“. The culture here is one of laid-back relaxation + happiness, which is probably why I love living here so much.

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Established in 2012 by Joshua Gruder and Bryant Szabo, Porch Fly creates super comfortable + stylish shirts that represent not just the culture of Raleigh but the unique vibe itself.
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Made out of strong poly cotton + tri-blend materials which make them less susceptible to shrinking and/or stretching, these are some of my favorite shirts to wear because they are so ridiculously soft + comfortable. I’ve received numerous compliments and questions when I’ve worn them out, especially my Whisk-Key tank as well as The Streets of DTR. The visually pleasing designs are interesting + eye-catching without being overly in-your-face, making anyone who wears these shirts stand out.

With a motto that says no matter where you’re from, or what you do, there is always time to “enjoy the porch”, these guys give due respect to the simple and great things in life. Family, friendship and hometown love are high on their agenda. I absolutely love what they’re doing + how they’re representing Raleigh.

You can also grab a sweet, super-sturdy, hand-made all-natural leather koozie for all of your afternoon back porch needs as well as snazzy cases to give your phone some unique NC flair.

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What are some of your favorite local spots? Brands?

I’m always looking for new places to explore, delicious food to eat and all of the things in*between..

Porchfly on..
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Kendra McKay Stewart – Hair Artist Extraordinaire

kendra

kendra

I get asked about my hair on a weekly basis. I’ve had women stop me in Starbucks, requesting the business card of my stylist so they could schedule appointments ASAP (which they ACTUALLY did). Little girls (and sometimes boys) look on in wonder and giggle as they tell me how much they like my hair. It always makes me smile.

Currently at Cloud 9 Studios in Apex NC, Kendra has been mastering my hair for nearly 5 years. She used to come to my house and work her magic in my kitchen before she found a place to plant her feet (and her shears).

Having been a moron who tried to bleach her hair herself for so many years and bouncing from salon to salon trying to get it corrected, I spent SO much money (I don’t want to talk about it) and was NEVER happy with the results. I would have straw-like blond-ISH hair with super gold roots, which in the land of blonde hair, is a BIG no-no (unless that’s the look you’re going for).

I met Kendra through mutual friends and liked her right away. She was super warm, friendly and had one of the greatest smile/ laughter combinations of anyone I had ever met.

Then we started talking about hair.

She guaranteed she could not only correct my hair + get rid of my super gold roots but she could also get it healthy again. I took her up on that bet I had heard before from numerous fancy-schmancy hair salons who had all failed me in the past. She came to my house about 2 weeks later and the rest is history (or should I say HAIRstory? yuck yuck yuck).

Not only was she right but she pretty much blew my mind. She was like a hair scientist who concocted the perfect regimen of awesomeness for my hair. Although I’m not 100% on the exact “formula”, I know she uses Olaplex (their No. 3 Hair Perfecter is a must-have now) and also does Keratin treatments (which if you’ve never had one, imagine 98.9% of your frizz GONE for 3 months), which have all been miracle workers for my dry, thirsty locks of straw.

She completely eliminated my roots and had me platinum in no time. But the most amazing part was the fact that my hair actually had movement for the first time in years! From that moment on, I knew Kendra would be the only hands I allowed on my blonde mane.

aug2013jimmyVhairThis photo is from the night before a charity fashion show I was part for the Jimmy V Foundation. I had Kendra style my hair after touching up my roots. Its one of the few photos I have of my hair right after the magic has been completed.

And can I just mention that I got to meet DJ Tanner (Full House, people!) herself, Candice Cameron-Bure the next day!?! She was the host of the charity show. Childhood goal accomplished!!
candaceCameron_aug2013

Then I decided the bring the pink back in my life before I turned the big 3-0. Again, like a moron, many moons ago, I decided to do this to my hair MYSELF. People, for the health of ‘yo hair, if you are like me + should have been born with rainbow-colored hair, let a professional do it. I promise it will look SO much better and you won’t FRY your hair like I did. It took YEARS for my hair to get to where its at now but had I met Kendra earlier…you get the idea.

hurr1_2014

This is the first time, with more emphasis on the entire top sections of my hair being pink.

Then we decided to section the pink in with the blonde, which is how I’m
still wearing my hair. It’s grown quite a bit since these photos, ANOTHER
perk of having Kendra tackle my hurr3_2014
hair. It was so unhealthy that it would only grow to a certain length before immediately breaking off. Now, that its healthy, its actually growing… another miracle.

So there you have it: where my hair has been and how it was brought back to life by one of my most favorite people in the world.

Whenever I look in the mirror, despite my mood or how crappy my day has been, the fact that I have pink hair always makes me happy. How can it not? It’s totally how I see myself in my head:

I should have been born with pink hair.

But since I wasn’t, I thank Kendra for helping me look like I was. =) She’s the absolute BEST!