Hairstyles for Long Curly Hair

Does it annoy anyone else that when you search for hairstyle ideas for curly hair, the vast majority of hairstyle photos that pop up are hairstyles for straight hair that has been curled?

Curled hair =/= Curly hair

Now that we have that straight, I thought I'd show you a couple of the styles I've done on my sister and cousin this summer. We live in a tropical climate, so the vast majority of these styles are of the "up" variety, because walking around covered in a thick blanket of hair is generally not comfortable. Most of these hairstyles can be done on straight hair as well, but I've found that most photos of hairstyles show styles done on straight hair or curled hair, so I wanted to provide a resource of hairstyles that look great while allowing the hair to keep its natural texture.

Hairstyles for Curly Hair

These two have very different hair types. Shannon has distinct, fairly tight coils, and her hair is very fine as well as thin. She has a lot of natural body, but her hair itself is not very bulky. She has long layers in her hair to help it lay better.

Anna has looser curls, and very coarse, very thick hair. She has dramatic layers to help remove some of the bulk of her hair, and wears bangs as well, which she straightens everyday. All of these hairstyles are no-heat hairstyles, except for Anna's straightened bangs.

Grown-up Topsy Tail
Curly Hairstyles

Curly Hairstyle

No special tool required, flipping ponytails is pretty easy! This is a great all-day, no product style for their texture of hair because their hair doesn't slip and fall out of ponytails the way that straight hair does.

Braided Updo

Braided Updo on Curly Hair

It's three braids at the nape of the next, twisted into a balanced, chignon-esque shape and pinned into place. Again, no product. Hairspray would help tame the frizz that is endemic to curly hair, but this family doesn't own hairspray.

Classic Chignon

A little bit of teasing for extra volume in the crown. Sides are rolled and pinned, all hair is gathered into a low ponytail, then rolled upwards, shaped and pinned to keep secure. Again, her hair has enough texture to hold this style without hairspray, which is pretty cool!

Side {Fishtail} Braid

I gathered the hair loosely to give her just a little more volume on the top and sides. With her hair texture, that's often the best strategy if you don't want the hair slicked flat on the scalp. I would not recommend teasing fine, tightly curled hair like this, unless you want to spend a long time with a pick and gobs of conditioner trying to get the snarls out later.

Rockin' Ponytail

Inverse braid on each side, ends wound around the base of a high ponytail. If you're working with hair that can safely be teased, you can create a poof in the front.

Inverted Side Braid to Bun

Hairstyles for Curly Hair

Exactly what the title says. She's got the perfect texture and length of hair for this--it's about a 5 minute hairstyle that can be done on wet or dry hair. From the smoothness that you can see in these photos, you can tell that I did this early in the morning while her hair was still wet.


So those are just a few styles to consider! Not all updos require blowdried, roundbrushed hair that's been set in hot rollers--and you're not limited to ponytails, either! Sometimes a couple of braids and pins are all you need to make your curls look gorgeous!

P.S. Styling hair is not hard. Remembering to take pictures of hairstyles that you've done...really hard. This post could have been three times longer if I were as good with a camera as I am at saying, "Hey, wanna let me do your hair?"

Patterned Maxi Dress

I was innocently wandering a store that was seemingly full of non-amazing clothes when I fell in love with this dress.

It was an instantaneous, can't walk away, life-changing kind of love.

My mom was there, and her reaction to my excited exclamations over the sheer beauty of this dress was, "See? This is why I can never buy clothes for you. There's no telling what you're going to like. I could never pick this dress out of a lineup and think, 'Yep, that's the one Rachel wants more than anything else.'"

True, I've never worn or even wanted a maxi dress before...and I didn't want one when I walked into the store. It was this dress that changed my no-maxi stance. What is it, exactly, that I love? The blue and white pattern? The loose sleeves and lace-up front (slightly pirate-esque?)? The impossibly open back? Is the very fact that this dress exists enough to inspire love?

I don't know. But for me, I've always distinguished between pretty dresses and dresses that are so incredibly awesome that they're practically world-changing. For me, this is a world-changing dress.

And I kind of feel like Gandalf when I wear it (you know, the sleeves and long flowing skirt), so that's definitely a bonus.

Do you follow a recognizable system when buying clothes, or do you purchase only the things that you fall deeply in love with, whether they make sense or not?

One Year Abroad

One year ago today, Angel and I arrived in China--a suitcase, a carry-on, and a backpack each, not knowing exactly what our life there would look like. We knew we'd spend a few weeks earning our TEFL certificates and then we'd be assigned to teach at schools in ShenZhen. At the time, we didn't know whether we'd even be assigned to teach at the same school, or what grade level we'd be teaching, either. You could say that uncertainty was a key theme of the season.

We learned so much. We learned the difference between 5 kuai and 5 jiao bills (think, the difference between $5 and 50 cents). We learned how to play Chinese chess, even if boys in primary school still managed to beat us. Angel learned how difficult it is to successfully get your house key copied when you're no longer on your home turf (we lived with one working set of keys between the two of us). I learned a lot about how Mandarin is used in everyday life, and I learned that it was entirely possible for me to have a job that I loved.

We had such a magical little time, loving life in China. We got used to our tiny apartment with its cockroaches and its oh-so-frustrating washing machine that continually malfunctioned. We developed our little traditions: on cold winter evenings after a long day at school, I didn't want to go out again, so I'd send Angel to the shop around the corner to buy beef dumplings and rice, and we'd cuddle up in some blankets, point the space heater at ourselves, and eat the dumplings while watching an episode of Once Upon a Time to wind down for the night.

The season in China was over sooner than we thought it would be. We were presented with a job opportunity in Malaysia and decided to take it instead of extending our time in China. This latest move is one that we longed for, but it was still hard to leave the little home we'd made. I can only imagine how much more difficult it would have been if we'd stayed there longer. ShenZhen was a blessing to us--I've felt more purposeful and more excited about life there than I had in a long time. I enjoyed the little home and community Angel and I had found for ourselves during our years in Michigan, but I wasn't flourishing there. Third culture kids sometimes have a difficult time repatriating, and I'm a prime-time example of a reverse-culture-shock victim who never fully readjusted.

The hard part about being abroad has been being so far away from our families during times this past year when they have experienced both great joy and great sorrow. There have been times when we wished for nothing more than to just be not so far away--we wish we could be present to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. But while this life we lead right now has many privileges, that one--the ability to be present for and with family, isn't one of them. Our move meant that we've had to make a lot of trades--we've traded Thanksgiving dinners with the grandparents and summer bonfires on the Great Lakes for mysterious meals where every dish is unfamiliar and evenings spent on the beach, gazing out at the South China Sea/Indian Ocean. Neither one is better than the other, but what I can say is that they are very, very different.

We feel incredibly grateful for the past year of our lives. I feel like I want to hold tightly to every bit of it--I want every one of these 365 days to have left an indelible mark on my memory. I know that this 1st year abroad has changed us--it has challenged us and grown us, and I look forward for the years to come. Wherever I am, there's some part of me that misses all the other parts. I doubt that that will ever change.

A Sky-High Birthday at Jumpstreet Penang

Disclaimer: Our visit to Jumpstreet Penang was discounted in exchange for review. All opinions, photos, and experiences are entirely my own.

It is perhaps a remarkable coincidence that I wanted to do exactly the same thing for both my 23rd and 24th birthdays. Maybe it shows that I didn't grow up very much over the course of one year, after all. Last year, for my 23rd birthday, I went to an indoor trampoline park with Angel. This year, on the opposite side of the world, I went to Jumpstreet Penang with Angel, Lizzy, and Anna.

The original idea had been to take the whole family out for my birthday...but that is actually a ridiculously difficult feat to accomplish--trying to get all of these kids available at the exact same time--so we settled on a crew of 4 for the adventure, and headed out.

Jumpstreet Penang is located in Bayan Lepas, somewhat distant from Penang's downtown area, but we found it without a problem and got our wristbands. It's important to note that Jumpstreet assigns jump passes by the hour, so if you want to maximize your jump time, make sure that you arrive slightly before the hour changes so that you can jump for a full hour! We went after work, and got into the 7-8 pm slot.

Jumpstreet Wristbands

The evening we went it was not very busy, only one other group of friends were jumping during our time slot, which was really nice, because we practically had the run of the place!

Jumpstreet Penang

Jumpstreet Penang

Apparently the epic Family Olympics didn't leave us in as great of shape as we might have hoped, because all of the trampoline activity left us red-faced and out of breath! When planning the outing, I thought that an hour of jump time didn't sound that long, but as we left after jumping, we all agreed that it had been the perfect length of time--our legs were getting a little shaky, and we were pretty sure we'd burned enough calories for the day by that point.

We got some great use out of the Foam Pit, and yes, Angel had to show off his flips in front of all the ladies. I didn't even try to flip. I turned 24, not 14. Gotta grow up sometime, right?

Jumpstreet Foam Pit

Jumpstreet Foam Pit

Jumpstreet Foam Pit

We also enjoyed the Slam Dunk court, too. I'd like to mention here that I really appreciated the staff at Jumpstreet. We felt safe the whole time we were there, but we also didn't feel smothered, or like anyone was breathing down our necks. The atmosphere was fun and relaxed, and we never felt bad about looking clumsy or silly while doing all of our crazy jumping.

Jumpstreet Slam Dunk

Jumpstreet Slam Dunk

Jumpstreet Slam Dunk

Generally, jumping as high and as far as we could was pretty awesome. I felt like I was Spiderman when I was jumping on the High Performance trampolines, can you tell?

Jumpstreet High Performance

But I wasn't brave enough to tackle the Tower Jump--a backwards fall. I know it's not that high of a height, but I still couldn't do the backwards thing. Could you?

Jumpstreet Tower Jump

We spent an awesome and exhausting hour there, but we still didn't take advantage of everything Jumpstreet Penang has to offer. There's a surprisingly cute cafe right inside:

Jumpstreet Penang Cafe

And even rooms to rent if your birthday party is significantly larger than the 4 people in our group:

Jumpstreet Penang

Goodbye Jumpstreet Penang! We had a grand time and I'm sure I'll find some other excuse to go back...just because bouncing all over a gigantic room of trampolines is just about the most awesome kind of feeling...

Jumpstreet Penang

Have you ever visited a trampoline park? Are you still limber enough to try out some front-flips and back-flips, or have you given those up for good?

Batik Dress

batik dress

batik dress

batik dress

Compliment from Shiloh, one of the 4-year-olds: "Aunty Rachel! You look so beautiful! You look like a popstar! But...if only your dress was a little bit....shorter."


Isn't it funny the kinds of things those kids notice?

I spotted this dress at the shop attached to a local batik factory. Batik is a method of dying patterned cloth that is native to this region of the world. I've always been a fan of batik, and have gotten to observe artists working on hand-drawn batik patterns in the past. It's incredible what they can do! This dress isn't hand-drawn batik, but the wax patterns were made with a stamp, repeated over and over again.

I fell in love with this dress at the shop, but you're really not supposed to buy things for yourself a few weeks before your birthday, and neither Angel, Anna, nor Lizzy (the ones who came out to the shop with me), seemed to show any interest in or appreciation for the dress, either, so I left it on the rack without even trying it on, assuming I'd never see it again.


Imagine my utter surprise when I opened it up on my birthday! The girls had finagled a way to make it back to the shop without me knowing about it and had bought the exact dress I'd had my eye on. It fit just the way I imagined--perfectly colorful and summery--appropriate for a land where summer never ends. I love the color, the neckline, the sleeves, and the length, too, regardless of Shiloh's opinion that I could approach popstar-dom if only the skirt were a few inches shorter...