Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Recipe: Shea Butter Hair Oil

The winter chill has not been friendly to my coily hair, which made me realize that it is way past time to change my styling methods for the season (for me that means I have to style in the first place). So I have recently dusted off the rollers, pulled out the hooded dryer and heat cap, I'm even eyeballing a couple of combs (I shiver at that) and plan to moisturize every day (I know, I know, I'm horrible), take all my supplements and eat right, and exercise every day.

With that, I threw together this batch of Shea Butter Hair oil that is literally for my hair and not my scalp. I have something else for that.

I literally threw together this recipe, keeping in mind some of the things I feel my hair needs right now since I'd abandoned using heavy ingredients like Shea butter on my hair during the summer. I'd also minimized my usage of castor oil, except for my edges and sometimes my ends, as well because it was just too much in that hot and humid weather. But now my hair (and skin) is screaming for some Shea butter and I am ready to oblige because coconut oil is not doing it alone anymore. I gathered the following ingredients (I eyeballed the measurements):

  • Shea Butter (2 parts)
  • EV Coconut oil (1-2 parts)
  • Avocado Oil (1/2 part)
  • Grapeseed oil (1/2 part)
  • EV Olive Oil (1/2 part)
  • Black Castor Oil (2 tbsp)
  • Rosehip Seed Oil (10 drops)
  • Rosemary Essential Oil (20 drops)
  • Geranium Essential Oil (7 drops)

I'm going to be taking a more active role in my physical maintenance and will chronicle it as I set out to evolve and pull myself out of this rut that I find myself entrenched in. All this equates to is schedule more me time. Let's see how that goes!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hair Length Check

I was looking through my blog, trying to decide what I need to update when I saw the last hair length check that I did back in April. Since I don't blow my hair out but a few times a year, I checked my phone and see that I did a light blow out on September 4, so here is a quick recap of my hair journey thus far:

September 2012 (press with flat iron)

March 2013 (weak blowout)

August & September 2013 (weak blow outs)

Note that these "blowouts" are very light and without following up with a flat iron (maybe I'll do that for New Year's, ?), but over the past 2 years I've gained about 8-9 inches. I've done few trims (I think I'm due for one now), and I had a little bit of an issue with breakage earlier this year when all I was wearing was top knots... remember Adventure in "Where the Hell Are My Edges Going? - Land? And how I got on that STAT!:

(the last photos are from March 31, 2013)

...but things are getting back on track. And lookie here, guess who actually styled her hair instead of the usual Wash n Go, tension blow dry, wrap it up, tuck it away and be done with it method! ME! 

I finger detangled and styled my 'do with flexi rods! I'll update with a recent pic soon.

This winter weather is not being kind to my hair, and honestly, neither was I, so I pledge to moisturize and pamper my body and mind on a daily basis because I'm ready for more! Right now, though, I think I'm going to do a roller set. (I'm going to regret this decision in about an hour, I swear!)

Oldie But Goodie

I had to dig deep to find something to help me in my quest to lost the 15 pounds that I gained since the summer - Yes, less than 6 months ago.

At first I thought my weight gain was a result of my fibroids. Now while they have contributed to the extra weight I have been feeling on my body, it wasn't that, completely. Then I thought, well, I have been snacking more, BUT I also ran several miles a week (I even ran a 3K at the end of August, non-stop, 37 minutes and 14 seconds thank you very much!), so it couldn't have been just that. Then I thought about the wine... and while that doesn't help, I don't usually drink every day (there has been a week or two when I've had a glass a wine every night, but that's unusual). And then when I thought about the tons of stress I was feeling as I still hadn't secured temp or permanent work, I thought, "DING DING DING!" That's it.

My cortisol levels became so out of whack (I'm going to speak on this in another post), and to add the "depression" cherry on top, it's no wonder I gained weight, but so much weight in so little time has got me screaming "Hell Naw!"

I got a temp gig that is alleviating some of the pressure, 8th grade for my son has been hell (for the both of us) and I wonder at age 38 if I'll ever get it together, so I had to stew in my 15 pounds of sewage some more before I really did something about it, so after I mostly recovered from some virus that had me hacking and sounding like a dude for almost a month, I got my ass in motion.

I dust off the Wii and reacquainted myself with ZUMBA! Every day, and it has been great to my body. (Usually I run, but I haven't been of my usual temperament to be running in the cold like I used to - I don't know what happened, but instead of sitting around wondering, I figured out what I could do indoors, and like I said before, I got my ass in motion).

As I sifted through my old workout videos I can across Strength and Grace, and The Fat Eliminator workouts that I relied on after I gave birth to my son...almost 13 years ago (February), and I thought, "well, that helped me to lose the baby weights, and I look like I just had a baby - even though I didn't - so why not?" And the universe was on my side because as I sifted through my addition otherwise known as Amazon.com, I found both workouts on 1 DVD, and on sale for $9.99, and yes I did order it. And yes I did just finish the Fat Eliminator workout AND the 15 Minute extra strength training portion with hand weights. And yes I do want to cry, especially since I did a 30 minute butt and leg workout by Hang Tight With MarC just last night and my ass was already hurting, BUT I feel good. Sore as hell, but I feel good.

And why am I sweating like Rocky in the 10th round? Eww, but it is what it is. Operation Bikini and Get a New Tattoo in 2014 is in effect!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The "D" Word

I have to go on a diet.

There, I said it. It needed to be said, and now it has to be done.

Even though I just ran my first 5K race, and am ready for another, I have gained weight. Physical and emotional weight.

Side Note: I am sipping on a green smoothie as I type this entry. I'll provide the recipe and source at the end.

I gained 10 pounds. In the past month. All of this is a result of stress.

Worrying about finding a job, earning money, my son growing out of all of this clothes therefore intensifying my need for a job to earn more money to purchase more clothes and shoes for him...I have been on emotional overload.

It hasn't all been bad. I finally shot (most of) my short film, and while very exhausting, it was a great experience. I did run the aforementioned 5K race - my first one, in 37 minutes and 14 seconds. My hair grew a lot. I got new funky glasses. I'm alive. But on the flip side, I stressed myself out so badly that my cycle came TWICE this month! Hear that? I had it. It ended. A week passed. AND I GOT IT AGAIN! For someone who has fibroid, is close to 40, and have no romantic prospects at this time to start and build a relationship that would result in having a baby as opposed to getting knocked. I've been snacking at night - definitely not a good look - I'm craving physical stimulation other than running, and I am worried about NYC's Mayoral race. I slouch (I can't believe I am constantly slouching!), and I have a gut (WTF - and it's not even from alcohol - at least I would be like "ok, I get it" but now I feel like I should have drank if I was going to end up with a gut!). 10 pounds!

My mind is cluttered, and with no sense of direction. I would literally pay the scarecrow to point in several directions so I can find my way out of this. AND my 20th high school reunion is in a month and 2 weeks. If I'm not careful, my metabolism can spiral down to non-existent and I could end up gaining 20 pounds in one month. I know that is a bit of an over-exaggeration, but it's how I'm feeling these days.

So I am dieting. I am doing that thing that women do in movies when they Rocky it out, but this isn't actually about the reunion, it's about how I avoid looking in the mirror too long to avoid what I am turning into. And I make sure to keep my eyes up. I got into one of my favorite dresses last week, and I looked great, and I didn't have to suck my gut in the whole time I wore it, but I can't say the same for some of my pants. Or other dresses. Or shirts. And as a result I am going to health smoothie route to help clear my mind and my colon while I figure out my next move. God help me, and wish me luck!

Smoothie Recipe from SmoothieWeb.com:

Healthy Green Coconut Smoothie

It literally looks like this!
  • 2 bananas, frozen
  • 2 HUGE handfuls spinach (you won’t even taste it)
  • 1 cup milk (almond or soy is even better than moo juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
Add all ingredients into a blender. Blend until mixed. Serve in tall glasses and enjoy.
Recipe submitted by Sierra, Rolla, MO

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A change is gonna come

My hair has changed. A lot.

It had grown in length, seems to have gotten thicker (I didn't even think that was possible), and now it seems that some of the products I use don't necessarily work anymore. This reminds me of the time when I realized that Cantu Shea Butter's Leave-In Conditioner didn't work for me anymore (honorable mention to Suave's Coconut Shampoo and Conditioner - that one really hurt).

A little over a month ago I was getting a bit annoyed with my hair. Sure it had grown a lot, but it also started tangling even more than before. Before it decided to change up on me, I used to be able to finger detangle once a week - when I washed it. Now I had to be detangling every other day and that totally didn't jive with my 'lazy except one day a week' hair routine. 

Then I started to train for my first 5k race (which I coincidentally ran today at a clocked time of 37 minutes - yay for me!). Every morning I would run and then have to deal with my hair - and I am not one of these women who isn't going to work out because of some damn hair - uhhhhh, no. So I put my hair in mini twists for 2 weeks, and after I couldn't take the frizzing after washing it, I did the twists over adding a little bit of kanekalon hair to hold it right. That lasted 4 weeks for a total of 6 weeks of my hair being in two-strand twists. And then two days before the race I took them out (and still ran the race - booyah! LOL!)

The results of this hair break are great! I gained some length (I would say less than an inch), as I mentioned before it looks thicker, and I needed the break even from weekly washing to deal with some things (including an incredible amount of stress, shooting a video project, training, and job hunting). If I didn't take this hair break, I feel like it would have broken off or I would have inadvertently done something damaging. So I took my twists with the kanekalon hair out on Thursday (you ever wonder why you're doing something while in the middle of doing it?), and had to handle it.

It was not fun. At all.

I started off my sectioning my hair in to big braids - I think about 8 - thinking this would help. Sigh. I have a lotta hair ya'll.  I applied a mixture of conditioner and my pre-poo oil mixture to help me out. Left that on for over an hour and then proceeded to wash my scalp first with my homemade black soap shampoo (I used this because the black soap cleans makeup off my skin so well I figured it was the best product to use to clarify my scalp (not so much for my hair). I then used Shea Moisture's Raw Shea Shampoo (and ended up taking out the braids because it just wasn't happening in the sections. I was still removing the kanekalon from my hair and I had to do it with all of my hair out). I then spent damn near an hour using one of the Herbal Essence conditioners to finger detangle and braid my hair into sections again, followed by a black tea rinse before rinsing with cool water.

Now here is where I made a change in my regimen. Instead of using my Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, after finger detangling (again), I squeezed excess water from my hair with an old t-shirt, and applied Extra Virgin Coconut oil - I hadn't figured out the best way to use this for my hair, but after doing some research I decided to try again because the biggest problem I seemed to be having with my hair before I put it in twists was retaining moisture, and I know that the answer lie in my hair washing routine. I braided my hair into six braids, wrapped the t-shirt around my hair, and went to sleep!

The next morning I ran over three miles and thought about what the heck I was going to do with my still-not-dry hair. I decided to do a soft blow out, so I did this section by section, applying more coconut oil, Tresseme's heat protectant, and using the wide tooth comb attachment on the warm and then cool settings, and ended up looking like Chaka Khan in her Rufus days (yes!). I followed that up with some chunky twists, let it hang for a bit, pulled it into a bun, put on my scarf and kept it moving!

Here's the thing: I finally figured out how coconut oil works for me and that I have to pull back (or all together stop) with the heavier products on my hair. The EVCO totally conditioned and moisturized my hair. It was so agreeable in the last detangling session, and leaving it on my hair to mostly air dry allowed my hair to really absorb it. I also use EVCO for my skin and cooking.

As for my heavy butters and oils, they have their place. When the weather gets colder I can use the butters on my body, and as for my castor oil and Jamaican black castor oil, I will use it on my scalp, but it's a no go for my hair. I will also clean my scalp weekly with apple cider vinegar, but wash my hair every other week (well see how long that lasts!).

I also realized something: while my hair on my head is very thick, I have learned that my actual hair strands are very fine (aka, very sensitive). Seeing how I am able to retain length as a result of the changes to my regimen over the year makes me understand why Shea Moisture's Yucca and Baobab products for fine hair works so well for me. The one thing I will say about all of this is there is always something new to learn and I have to not get complacent in paying attention to my body and hair and the adjustments that I will always have to make along the way to stay healthy (and happy).

Note: I know, I didn't take photos. I just wanted to get outta my hair at the time, but I still should have taken a pic of two. I will in two weeks.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Bad!

If I could have learned the lesson of believing someone when they first tell or show you who they are, I would be the happiest woman alive.

I had a conversation with a friend today and she asked me how I was doing. And specifically, if I was D-A-T-I-N-G (she spelled it out because I was on speaker phone as she was preparing her children for a hiking trip and didn't want them all up in my business, lol!).

I have come to realize that I hate that question because I don’t know when I ever really have truly dated someone. Hung out with? Check. Physically intimate with? Check? Stuck by him when he’s going through shit? Check. But those little nuggets do not a relationship make – even a ‘dating’ relationship. And that is no one’s fault but my own. I own it now, but before I became an adult who realized I had issues that I need to fix, I blamed my parents, and it is that very reason why I am always striving to get my shit together so that I don't end up presenting a screwed up way of dealing with people for my son to witness. Right now, I’d say I’m at a 55 out of 100 in today’s quiz.

Back to my conversation with my friend, I told her that I thought  I was over the last “situation” I'd tangled myself up in, but the last few weeks it’s been on the forefront of my mind (this is a situation that started 2 years ago - have to specify since some dudes think you never get over them). And I actually owned 75% of that a debacle of a hope of a relationship with someone who dropped hints.

I’m being very generous with myself when I say he ‘dropped hints.

When a man tells you on the first date that he usually goes for looks, but decided to try something different, and he’s sitting opposite you at a restaurant, run Forrest, run because that was not a compliment.

Also, when he only wants to be around you, actually call instead of text, hounds you all day because you didn't respond and send a smiley face to his generic GM text one day, he’s not worried about you possibly being dragged into a dark alley somewhere, he’s panicking because his daily ego boost isn't boosting his ego. (PS, did the song “Say My Name” not teach folks anything… that GM text went to more than one of us and he was just waiting to see who responded first).

When you are in a bad car accident and he never shows up… (I’m not even going to embarrass myself by finishing that sentence.)

And with all of this I've asked myself why, when I’d back after thinking he didn't want me, would he pursue me if he didn't really want me? Why would I need to disappear in order for him to begrudging grunt that he missed me, or to show an ounce of interest in my well-being? Shouldn't I have felt wanted and engaged regardless? And if the answer to that question is yes, then why did I waste my time, and be a co-conspirator with him in making myself believe that whatever minimal effort he put into momentarily placating me to get what he wanted was enough? 

And so I go back to the time before I became a somewhat responsible adult, where I blame my parents. When you grow up in chaos, I've found that as an adult I am always in ‘fix-it’ mode. I’m still trying to fix the crap that went on between my parents, the violent and hateful relationship between my father and me (I literally shook in my seat as I typed the words “my father”)… I am still living in the past where as a child I had no control over the Lifetime miniseries that was my childhood. And with each ‘relationship’ that I have been in, I have piled all of the things that needed to be fixed to my original to do list until I had to do a little Spring cleaning when the closet started to overflow. Now the closet is just full. And that is why I’m having flashbacks; I mean some serious dreams that seem real as hell, regarding my last situation. 

And for that, I say “My Bad.” However, I do need to amend something that I said earlier: I’m only owning 50% of that mess… I’m tired of taking 100% of the responsibility for something we both did.

Monday, June 24, 2013

What's in a Name? Store Brand products that are just as good as name brands

I'm feeling a little Oprah-esque today and thought I'd share some of my favorite store brand name products.

It all started with Family Dollar's Revitalizing Cocoa Butter Scent Gel Body Oil (the close cousin of Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Butter Vitalizing Gel Body Oil).

I'd seen this product for a while now, but I was on my "all natural products' kick, but with the summer coming and my desire to glow all of a sudden, I thought it wouldn't hurt to try out this little ditty for $3.25. Well, let me tell you, I put a little bit of this gel on one arm and immediately felt like a golden goddess (I know, ridiculous).


Next is a product line that I have used in the past (and will this summer), but most recently turned my son onto as he enters the puberty zone, and that's Family Dollar's Oil Free Acne Wash and Acne Treatment Cream.

Close cousins to Neutrogena's Oil Free Acne Wash and Clearasil's Acne Cream, the wash has the standard 2% Salicylic Acid, and the cream has 10% Benzoyl Peroxide. The one thing that finally clicked with me as I help my son navigate through this stage of growth is that it is important to follow the directions. I they are followed then the results will come in a timely manner.


Exfoliating is so important, especially as the hot and humid season descends upon us suffering East coasters, and the Clarisonic face cleaning brush is very popular (and expensive). Well, even if I did have the funds to spend over $100 to spend on said brush, I wouldn't - I'm just too darn frugal for that, so imagine my surprise when I see the Acne Free Advanced Cleansing Brush in CVS (although I didn't purchase it until I was able to get it for $14.99 in Target, where I bought 2!).
*not a store brand, but a very affordable brand

This little treat runs on 2 double A batteries and includes 2 brush attachments. It operated on 2 speeds, and even though I'm sure there are more benefits to investing in a Clarisonic, the AcneFree Cleansing Brush is a nice substitute.


In addition, when you don't want to unpack the electronic cleansing brush, there's always the generic hand held version that I got from a random beauty supply store for $1.

When I'm running behind schedule, I use this in the shower.

As the summer approaches, and I get older, I'm becoming even more aware of how I treat my body. While great genes (thanks Grandma) and healthy living play a factor, there's nothing wrong with a little self-pampering (and yes that sounded just as weird in my head as it may in yours!). Everyone deserves to pamper themselves and it shouldn't hurt the wallet, so I will continue to seek out cost effective ways to do this.

Out of the mouths of babes

Sometimes I question how developed I am.

On paper, I have a good head on my shoulders, though not without faults. I work hard. People trust me to get things done, and I care deeply (to a fault sometimes) for others. But I have been consistently unsuccessful at one things: forgiving myself.

Instead, I try to work the guilt out of me, doggedly pursuing a way to make things right, even though I know things just are as they are with no chance to change. And I wholly accept the responsibility for influencing change, even if there is the slimmest to none chance of that ever even happening. In essence, I drive myself crazy. One accusation that will always be false is that I don't take responsibility for my actions. If anything, I take on too much instead of just letting things be because I'm a fixer. It's my greatest strength and my biggest weakness. And it is something that I must manage in order to actually live.

I had to share a hard truth with my son, who also has the 'give it to me straight' attitude that I have. I didn't want to tell him to let something go...to erase the kind of hope that a kid holds onto before he becomes a cynical adult like his me. I just didn't want to take that away from him, but I had to for our own good. No parent wants to see their child hurt, but I think that in order to truly raise them the best you can, you just have to be there to hold their hand when they hurt, because it's an inevitable and redundant occurrence.

It broke my heart to do it. He saw that it broke my heart to tell him something he didn't want to hear. I felt like I had failed at helping him with something, despite having helped him with so many other things in his life. And when I could actually look him in the eyes and not really break down, he held my gaze, put his hand on my shoulder and in a wobbly voice said, 'Ma, it's ok. I'm fine. No matter what, I'd rather be here than not be here so I'm ok.' And with that, I felt like I had been absolved of all of my fuck ups for the past 13 years.

I wish I could say that I learned how to forgive myself all on my own, but I did not. My son did that for me, for the both of us, and there aren't enough words to express the gratitude I have for him showing me the way towards forgiving myself and moving on.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Inside Out, Outside In

I've not been very successful in my health pursuits, and not for lack of trying.

I get up at 6am and work out. I run on the weekends. I stay away from bad snacks. I even gave up wine for 2 weeks straight. Despite all of that, I've been tired, moody, and depressed (I'm fine right after I work out, but as the day wears on, my mood plummets).

I do some part time work, I was taking business classes, I've been planning a new art project, all of this in addition to being a single parent raising a son in New York. My son attends middle school. An all-boys school, and the experience has left a lot to be desired, but thankfully he is involved in various academic programs, he maintains an A- average, and even though he tests the mommy-waters sometimes, he's an overall good soon.

I walk around my once decent neighborhood and I don't know what happened. People have gotten meaner (or maybe I've gotten softer). Walking out my door to deal with the mean streets of the Bronx, I feel myself putting on my Iron Man armor with the hopes of just doing what I need to do without getting into it with anyone.

I like to walk down the street with my head held high. It actually does a lot for my self-esteem to do that, but I can't because people allow their dogs to shit on the sidewalks, everywhere. It's like playing hopscotch, except you're trying not to step on dog shit, so don't date look up or you will, as I did one day, find your foot in a soft steaming pile of it before it's too late.

I just want to walk down the street with my head held high. Is that too much to ask?
Is it too much to ask that if I need to purchase clothes in my neighborhood shops, that at least one store supplies clothes that are fit for business? How many stores do we need selling the same ole stretch pants, cut out shirts, unitards, glitter tank tops, and 6 inch hooker shoes?

I've come to the solid conclusion that I have outgrown my hometown.

When I was a kid, I used to go outside and play. There are no kids in the neighborhood for my son to play with because it's all about video games, getting girls, and fighting each other to prove their malehood (since none of these boys are no where near being men).

A kid - one of my son's classmates - yelled at me. (Pause: I checked that ass, no doubt, but the fact that he didn't even think twice about it started to break the last bit of spirit I was feeling about being in my hometown. This morning, a neighbor yelled at me because I asked why she removed my clothes from the washer when I was standing right there (apparently, I didn't move fast enough for her and I don't respect people's time. Huh????). I checked her too, not for her actions, but for her being rude when I asked her about it. An employee flipped out when I told him his boss now requires all employees to fill out time sheets. I handled that professionally as well. But I have to say, these incidents took a lot out of me emotionally. I sat here today wishing I was that stereotype of a black girl from the Bronx who curses out anyone that crosses the line. I'm not a pushover, but apparently people think that when you're not hurling f-bombs at them. I shouldn't have to do that. I don't need to do that.  And yet I hate the feeling that they may think they're gotten the best of me because I didn't show my ass right along with them.

The last time I did show my ass was to a former supervisor. I had an Iyanla/DMX moment where I proclaimed that she will not speak to me (the way she did) ever again. I followed that up with a complaint to the HR department, and a week later, my services were no longer needed. I was relieved, but then I thought, well, if I was going to lose my job, I should have at least dropped an f-bomb or two since pride doesn't pay the bills.

Another time, I had to tell a man who I had dated in the past, to stop texting me inappropriate photos of his anatomy. What did I get for reminding him that I had standards and wasn't going to bite the carrot that he was dangling in front of me when we both knew he didn't want me? LOLOL... I actually have to laugh before I write this... he cut me off, blocked me... because I told him my favorite part of his body was his face (hint, hint, stop sending me pics of your junk).

Yep, it's been that kind of a time people. And as a result of the stress that has been building and building... no amount of push ups, and HIT training, and boxing, and running, and not drinking soda or eating candy or beef, or cake....none of that is helping me to get in the kind of physical shape that I aspire to.

Stress is a BEAST. I hate the muthafucker.

Stress is my biggest enemy.

Stress in increasing my cortisol levels, which is why I don't have my washboard abs.

Stress has me tired all the time, but I gets no good sleep.

Stress has me thinking I look 10 years older than I actually am (interesting, others think I look great, but I feel like crap. It's like people who suffer from eating disorders - it's not so much about how they look, but how they feel).

I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I do ask that God wakes me up in the morning so that I can continue to sort through this mess because I'm not ready to give up yet.

I'm frustrated. Disappointed. Hurt. A little bit angry. A lot exasperated. Confused. Tired. Anxious. Achy. But I'm not ready to give up just yet. Not yet.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wine Review: Luscious Vines Coco Tropical

I thought I'd try something a little different - a wine review from a layman's point of view.

While I have a history with wines, I'm going to start with a wine I just tried for the first time yesterday: Luscious Vines Coco Tropical.

The back of the bottle reads as follows:
"Luscious Vines Coco Tropical is a delicious drink with added flavor of fruit and coconuts and mixed with premium wine."

I don't know if it's because Spring is in the air, my taste buds have changed, or what, but I am digging this light, tropical (and very affordable) wine. When I take a sip, I feel like I'd eating an icee of a hot summer day. It has a refreshing taste that puts me in a sipping and relaxing mood. Does that even make sense? When I drink it, I don't want to guzzle it, I want to savor it slowly. I usually fill a wine glass up less than 50% of the way (sometimes it's even just at 24%), and it took me a half hour just to get through that little bit because I seem to be enjoying the actual experience of drinking the wine, and its flavors. I don't know if it's the island girl in me, but I love it's mixture of coconut and fruit flavors (almost like a high class, lightweight sangria).

Last night I paired this drink with some Tilapia fish balls (homemade), and sweet potato fries. I love fish and usually fill myself to the brim when I make it, but I ate a small portion of food, a quarter of a glass of the wine, and I was full.

Another cool thing is this wine is local - Washingtonville, NY... I might just have to take a trip out to the vineyard.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hair growth progress

My, how the time has flown.

I chopped off my hair in a fit of 'I don't know what' back in May 2010.

It started off as a trim, but I just kept cutting and cutting. There was so much going on in and around me, and when I feel chaos I do drastic things like move furniture, paint walls, purge items from my closet, or cut my hair.

I still do the other things, but I wanted to stop chopping off my hair when I got in a mood, so I decided to look more inward that react outwardly, however, that last big chop was more than necessary. I think I adapted healthier hair care habits, and tested my own patience, as well as learned a lot (and will continue to).

I went from this:

To this:

I won't say that things got easier (except for the fact that I am more comfortable with myself now than I have ever been in my entire life... jobless, loveless, and all), but I damn sure learned other ways, maybe more healthier, productive ways to get through things. I'm no where near my final destination as I embark on healthier living, getting into a bikini for my 38th birthday, lol!, becoming an entrepreneur, and being the artist I set out to be many years ago. It's hard ya'll, but worth the effort. Stay tuned!

Hairline Regrowth Progress

Earlier this month I took photos of my thinning hairline, which was a result of wearing my hair in a top bun ALL THE TIME. I got comfortable...lazy. And I paid for it. For the first time in my life I knew what many other women go through when it came to the thinning hair line. I literally was like "What?" And then I took action.

I immediately pulled out my unopened second bottle of MTG - yes, the -ish that smells like bacon grease! I was a horse losing it's damn hair and I needed help stat! And then I whipped out the Jamaican Castor oil. As mentioned in a previous post, I bought the oil and didn't find much use for it. I even threatened to give it away, but I kept it and used it as a carrier oil for my scalp oil. Well in this case, I mixed the MTG with the Jamaican Castor oil, and massaged my hairline daily.

I thought I'd seen a difference in a couple of days, but figured that was wishful thinking. I wanted to wait a while to take follow up photos to compare to the original ones, but I saw a major difference in the 3 weeks that I have been using this scalp oil, as well as continuing with the Shea Moisture Yucca and Baobob product line (if I could drink the Hair Milk, I would - it has been a miracle to my hair).

(for whatever reason, the date is not showing on the second set of 
photos, which were taken on March 31)

It is without question that I am satisfied with the progress that I am making, and will continue on this path. I also changed my hair maintenance routine a bit, as I've found that the longer my hair gets, the more work it seems to require (and here I thought I would be able to just throw it up in a ponytail or bun and keep it moving... NOT!).

This is the second week where I am wearing my hair in a partial blow out (I blow my hair out with cool and warm air, not the hot air that I used to use back in the day). And I have gone back to styling it daily (ugh!), but mainly because I oil my scalp and re-moisturize every night. That routine goes as follows:
  1. I finger-part my hair into 4 sections (I do not use a comb when my hair isn't wet, and even when it is wet, I detangle with my fingers - not a bit comb in hair fan).
  2. I apply a quarter size of the Shea Moisture Yucca and Baobob Hair Milk to each section, then apply a dime size of my homemade Hair Buttercream.
  3. I place the section in a ponytail and braid the loose hair.

In the morning I add a bit of homemade hair pudding followed by hair buttercream to the sections closest to the roots to control those stray hairs. Just before heading out for the day, I release the 4 braids, shake my head a bit, and peace out.

The one major thing I discovered after using the Shea Moisture Yucca and Baobob hair products (shampoo every other week, conditioner weekly, hair milk daily, and now the hair masque which I will use with every shampoo), is that my hair was soooooo soft, but strong. Strong enough that I feel confident with the blow out hair (I usually get nervous after a couple days and spray it to coil it up).

Sunday, March 10, 2013

7 Day Detox - Other Recipes

I fell off on posting my food photos, but I did continue with the 7-Day Food Detox.

Here's another dish that I prepared that I enjoyed (but my son did not - he actually said it was too sweet). It's a sweet and sour stir fry with brown rice. I cooked brown rice with a tablespoon of coconut oil (my new favorite cooking oil), a pre-packaged stir fry mix (broccoli, sweet peppers, carrots), and I added some corn. The vegetables were cooked in tomato sauce, pineapple juice with chunks of pineapple, honey, and a splash of vinegar.


I thought it taste great, and I will continue to make this dish. For my son, I'm told he needs some meat with this dish - I can do that

Update on Product Usage

I think I used to be a product junkie, but I was mostly a 'recipe junkie' - I was always mixing something new because I just like to create things. I've been like this since I was a kid, growing up with my Caribbean Grandma and Mom, we cooked (my Grandma even made candy!). Anyway, I've always been that friend who knows how to make this, or mix that, for whatever ailment you got.

After chopping my hair off back on 2010, a lot of products worked great. On my short hair. Now that my hair is 7-10 inches long, a lot of things, methods just don't work anymore. I feel like my hair texture changed, even before I started coloring it again (at first for style reasons, now I'm actively covering greys ya'll!). And just in general, with my thick hair, it's just too damn much. This is why I kept my hair chin length from my teens thru my 20s. I remember now why my mom couldn't handle my hair and 4 other kids. I remember why she sent me to get a perm (I still wouldn't have done it myself, I'd have just kept my hair in braids). I remember it all, BUT I'm still not cutting it, and I still ain't getting a perm.

As a result of being overwhelmed by my hair, I took to keeping my hair up in a bun when I lost my job. Maybe once or twice a week I would take it out, but I'd keep it up all week, and it grew so much. And then I started incorporating one of those keratin conditioners in my co-wash routine, to handle all the frizz because I was doing less. The conditioner did a great job without changing the texture of my hair from what I could tell and feel, so I thought why not try the shampoo. 2 weeks later I realized that was a mistake. Also all the bunning was a mistake too. Interestingly my son said to me a couple months ago, 'Ma, you shouldn't tighten your bun.' I thought he was mistaken, my bun wasn't too tight.

Well, it either was, or my hair got mad at me for not doing anything with my hair because my shyt starting falling OUT. Whole strands. NOT breaking off... FALLING OUT. AND my hairline in the front has "eroded" - that's the nicest word I can think of.And I freaked out. I actually cried and flashed back to the time my mom was trying to save money and had her friend's 14 year old daughter named Tiny put a perm in and TAKE OUT my hair when I was 14.

A few weeks ago, I washed and conditioned my hair (I tried cleansing every other week, but I need every week), finger detangled, and loss so much hair, I could have made a wig for a small child. Even a friend of mine told me that while I still had a lot of hair, it looked thinner (the previous week we joked about how I looked like a poodle). I felt so defeated. And I truly had to dig inside and repeat "I am not my hair" to myself, and just remember all of the other things about me (I wasn't sure if the shedding was going to stop since it'd been happening for 2 weeks).

Then I remembered Shea Moisture produced hair products for thin hair. I hit up the local CVS and they only had the shampoo, so I purchased it and Organix's new Biotin and Collagen conditioner because I was not in the mood to drive around looking for the Shea Moisture conditioner. I used the products, along with performing a tea rinse, and while there was shedding, it was less.

I've also been oiling my scalp with the MTG oil (and a lot of peppermint essential oil mixed in to cover the smell). It's been 2 weeks, and my shedding has decreased significantly - I would say it's back to normal. I also finally obtained the conditioner, as well as the Hair Milk (off topic: the Hair Milk does nothing for my hair when wet, but when dry it gives my hair the boost it needs in between washing and I love it).
Looking at the photos, especially the most recent ones, I sit here and can't believe it. I mean I am looking at the Naomi Campbell hairline for real. I guess that's what I get for being careless with my hair. I did forget to take care of myself with the stress of job hunting and other emotional trials, but still.... Anyway, onward and upward.

Yes, it's only been one day but I had to give my quick review of how the Shea Moisture conditioner worked. So, I co-washed last night, dividing two sides of my hair into 7 braids on each side (no more washing my hair loose). I sprayed, applied the conditioner and braided, put a plastic baggy over my hair and then went about my day cleaning. I didn't do any EVOO/ honey pre-treatment, just the water and conditioner. Rinsed and reapplied a small amount of conditioner and rinsed again.

I undid a braid, finger detangled, applied Shea Moistures Curl Enhancing Smoothie, my homemade shea butter cream, tension blow dried on a cool setting (for super thick areas at the root of some braids I applied warm heat for a few seconds), and then pinned aside as I went through this same process with each of the 14 braids total.

After drying, I went through my hair - now divided in 4 sections - and applied a small amount of the Yucca and Aloe hair milk, oiled my scalp (especially around the edges), pinned up in a very loose bun, applied my homemade hair jelly (mixture of curl activator and oils - I'll do a post on that), tied my hair down and went to bed.

This morning, the bun was big a poofy and soft and luxurious! I kept the bun in for part of the morning while I handled my business this morning. I just undid the bun, and my hair is even more soft and bouncy and big than I thought. It feels great.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

7 Day Detox - Day 2

Just wanted to share the Tuna, Sweet Corn and Jacket Potato meal that I just finished and that my son and I are now enjoying.

Here's what I did:
  • Baked potatoes in the over
  • Mixed 1 can of Tuna (water based) and a 1/2 cup of sweet corn.
  • Added 1 tbsp of yogurt

Topped the tuna corn mixture onto a split baked potato, and it tastes delicious!

I think I will be using yogurt instead of mayonnaise from now on in my tuna mixtures. Next time I will add the onions that I forgot to add.

P.S. Just found out about a cable network called Veria Living. Whaaaattttt? I love it. And they have a website too! Check it out: http://www.veria.com/

Friday, March 1, 2013

7 Day Detox - Day 1

I'm taking part in a 7-Day Detox and 3 week Low Carb diet with HangTight with MarcC as part of my aforementioned Quest for Abs (and peace of mind too). I'm actually excited and look forward to seeing some major changes in my body. In addition to embarking in this Quest for Abs, I also have to get rid of any extra fat on my body to help with my back problems. If I drop 10-15 pounds, honestly, I am giddy at the relief that I expect to feel in my lower and middle back.

Anyway, here is what I have done so far today in my Quest for Abs:
  • Walking: 4 miles
  • Breakfast: Oatmeal
  • Snacks: Strawberry yogurt, 2 granola bars w/peanut butter, brown rice cakes, popcorn
  • Lunch: Homemade Vegetarian Lentil soup
  • Drink: Cranberry water (made from cranberry concentrate)

Although I have listed Chinese Stir Fry with Brown Rice as my dinner, I think I may go with a spinach shake since I had lunch so late.

Also, you'll notice I have a lot of snacks there and it's because I realize I'm a grazer/ muncher. One of the biggest things I was concerned about upon embarking on this journey, is how was I going to replace my comfort food. I love popcorn (especially since I've sworn off the chocolate cake from my son's birthday, and peanut butter ice cream  - and anyone who knows me knows I LOVE peanut butter, plus ice cream, maaaannnnn...). Anyway, I spent the past few days prepping for the detox by increasing my cranberry water intake, ceasing with the red wine (even though there is a glass amount left in the fridge), drinking green tea, but I knew at some point I was going to need a variety of snacks (I guess it's the Gemini in me). I figured popcorn was the way to go, but I had to find the right topping because I know I can't do popcorn with no topping. And after much research and searching for a healthy option that my taste buds would love - coconut oil walked into the building.

I went to GNC and overpaid for 16 oz of coconut oil (this before finding out that my local fruit stand sells 12 oz for $4 after paying 3 times that for 16 oz. Not again!)

Back to the story... I coated the popcorn kernels with a tbsp of coconut oil, popped in the microwave, and then I did something that is going to sound weird but tastes so good. I melted 1 tbsp of coconut oil and 1 tbsp of honey, drizzled it over the popcorn, and then sprinkled the popcorn with cinnamon.

I personally can't taste the cinnamon, but my son did, and he loved it! And so did I. I love the honey flavor on my popcorn - who knew! I am beyond ecstatic that I found a healthy popcorn topping alternative- and that was real hard when I had powdered cheddar staring me in the face as I drizzled the coconut oil/ honey mixture on my popcorn. I was nervous, thought it might taste like crap. I gambled and won!

Stay tuned for other experimental recipes that I will be trying this month.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

24-Minute Boxing Workout

Here's a boxing workout that I do at home that I love.

Round 1: Warm up (6 minutes)

Alternate one minute of step touches with 30 seconds of jumping jacks for a total of 4 times each.
How-to tips:
  • Step touches: Tap your right toe lightly in front of your left, then your left toe in front of your right. Swing your arms as you continue alternating left and right taps. Move at a comfortable pace that elevates your heart rate and quickens your breathing.
  • Jumping jacks: Start with your feet together, arms at your sides. Jump with your legs slightly wider than hip-width apart as you lift your arms up to shoulder level. 
Round 2: Punch (6 minutes)
Move continuously from drill to drill without any break in between.
Drill 1: Alternate left and right punches 4 times, then alternate lefts and rights as fast as you can 8 times. (2 minutes)
Drill 2: Alternate right and left punches 4 times, then alternate rights and lefts as fast as you can 8 times. (2 minutes)
Drill 3: Alternate left and right punches in sets of 8 with a slight hesitation between sets. (2 minutes)
How-to tips:
  • Start by making a semitight fist by curling your fingers into your palms and placing your thumbs on top of your index fingers '- not inside your fists. Be sure to keep your fists aligned with your wrists as you punch rather than slightly turned in or out.
  • Stand tall with abs tightened and your feet shoulder-width apart, left foot forward, right foot back. Keep your weight evenly distributed between your feet, and lift your right heel up.
  • Raise your fists in front of your face, lower your chin and keep your elbows in tight to your middle.
  • To throw a punch, thrust your right hip forward and pivot quickly on the left heel. Extend your arm from the shoulder '- imagine it's an extension of your back '- and take care not to lock out your elbow.
  • As you strike out, keep your other hand up in front of your face and your chin tucked. Return to the start and punch with the left.
  • When your arm returns from the punch, it should travel back along the same path with equal speed.
  • Fire punches out as hard and fast as you're able. Aim to elevate your heart rate and breathing and to work up a sweat. Exhale forcefully through your mouth each time you throw a punch, and remember to use your core to help power your movement.
Round 3: Jump rope (3 minutes)

Jump rope

How-to tips:

  • Hold an end of the rope in each hand and stand with your feet together in front of the rope line.
  • Bend your elbows and hold your arms out to your sides at about hip level. Spin the rope quickly and, as it approaches your toes, skip over it.
  • Stay low '- only jump an inch or so off the floor '- and when you land allow knees to bend slightly to help absorb impact.
  • The rope is powered by the turn of the wrist ??'- not the entire arm. The wrists are the motor, so to speak. Think of your legs as shock absorbers and springs that push you up and off the ground.
  • When you get into a comfortable rhythm, move into a "boxer's shuffle": Continue spinning the rope and, as it approaches your toes, shift your weight slightly to the left, move your left foot a small distance forward and jump, again staying low and slightly bending knees on touchdown. On the next spin, shift your weight right. 
Round 4: Pump (6 minutes)
Do these five strength moves with a 15-second break between exercises.
Boxer Twist: Place a broomstick across your shoulders. Stand tall with your arms draped over the stick. Keeping your abs tight, do tight, small twists left and right. Exhale each time you twist to the side and inhale as you move back toward the middle. Twist for 30 seconds, then rest briefly and repeat.
Last-Round Squats: Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, hands on hips. Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then stand back up, taking care not to lock your knees. Do 32 reps and hold the last rep in the squat position for 20 seconds.
Championship Push-Ups: Get into a push-up position: Kneel on the floor with your legs together and your hands placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Shift your weight forward so that you're balanced on your palms with your thighs just above your knees. Bend your elbows to lower your body. When your elbows are parallel to the floor, press back up to the start without locking elbows. Do 8 reps, and on the last one, lower slowly, taking 20 seconds to complete the rep.
Heavyweight Dips: Sit on the floor with your legs straight out, arms at your sides, palms pressing into the floor and fingertips either pointing out to the side or behind you, whichever is more comfortable. Lift your butt and legs up so you're balanced on your palms and heels and your weight is supported by your arms. Bend your elbows a few inches, and then straighten back up. Do 8 reps, and on the last one, lower slowly, taking 20 seconds to complete the rep.
Contender Crunches: Lie face-up with your hands under your butt and your abs pulled in tight. Lift your legs 1 to 3 inches off the floor without allowing your lower back to arch up. Holding this position, curl your head, neck and shoulders up and in, hold a moment and lower back down. Repeat 8 times.
Round 5: Cool Down (3 minutes)

Stretch out and cool down with these three flexibility enhancers.
Million-Dollar Babies: Stand tall and straighten your right arm across the center of your body, placing your left palm behind your right elbow to create a stretch through your right arm and shoulder. Hold 30 seconds and repeat with the left arm.
Rocky Thigh Stretch: Stand tall, holding on to a chair with one hand for balance. Lift your right leg up and bend your knee to move your heel up toward your buttocks. Gently grasp your right toe in your free hand to create a stretch through your right thigh. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the left leg.
Olajide Back Extender: Lie face-down with your elbows bent and your palms a few inches in front of your shoulders and shoulder-width apart. Gently press up through your palms to straighten your arms and arch your back as far as you comfortably can. Hold for 60 seconds as the stretch spreads through your abs and into the tops of your thighs.

The Quest: Part 1 - Abs

I have to be dramatic.

I'm on a quest for defined abs.
P.S. It was very difficult finding the perfect representation
for what I'm going for. I want abs, but I want to maintain my curves.
This woman's body shape here is closest to mine, except she is toned
and I sadly, am not (for now).

It's nearing the end of February. I turn 38 near the end of May. I've stayed within 10 pounds my weight and form since high school, but some things have shifted... like my abdomen.

I've always been an active person. I played as a kid - let me clarify since today's kids consider sitting around playing videos games as playing. I really played as a kid: double dutch, hand ball, tag, bike riding, climbing (shit I wasn't supposed to be climbing, if my mother only knew!). There was also running, volleyball, aerobics... and then I discovered dance (jazz, tap, ballet, African, Salsa). And then I got a gym membership, and trained with a kickboxing black belt. I have been a busy woman - no wonder I'm always tired.

Well, this 37.85 year old body is acting the fool. Things are trying to hang out, go South - I don't even like the South, I'm a Northern Yankee thank-you-very-much! I've always had a nice shape, but there must be something about this age that I'm at where I am determined to get that 4-pack (not trying to be greedy) that has always alluded me, even when my belly was flat.

So, I did something that I never do. I took photos of my body in my workout gear. It was not flattering. I was possibly (maybe not) going to post them in this entry... I think not. I'm going to save them for my big reveal, BUT I am printing them out and posting them in my work area (which is where I almost always am), as motivation to not just keep active - which is no problem for me - but to meet this physical goal.

Off tangent for a moment: I stopped running over a month ago after my back went out and I couldn't walk for days. Those were some dark days, but I'm walking now. I haven't made it back to the track, and with my new work / school schedule, I'm going to have to do like I did when I first started running - do it on the weekend (Saturday and Sunday, 3 miles each day). One of the great things about my new schedule, though, is that I work 2 and from my daytime activity - 2 miles one way, so I'm getting in 4 miles of walking 4 days a week.

In the meantime, I've taken up boxing again, as well as military interval training, and while that may make me strong, the goal is to tone, so I am taking part in the HangTight with MarC Feel Tight Diet Challenge for the month of March. It's involves a 7 day detox, and diet plan for the month of March. With the crazy schedule that I now have for myself with my various endeavors, I've decided to approach this as I would work - I've created a calendar that will tell me what I am to eat each day (if I don't do this, I fear with all the running around that I won't be successful - and I really think the key to getting that 4-pack is the food that I eat, which brings me to the one thing that I am going to miss the most... and no, it is not the peanut butter ice cream in the freezer.

I actually want to cry. I have one last glass of wine left in the bottle, and then no more. I used to just reserve the wine for the weekends, but it's replaced the mild affection I was receiving after a hard day's work - still can't replace a hug or a kiss, but I did what I had to do. Anyway, tonight I will enjoy my last glass of wine for the month. And then I'll go back to once a week (Saturdays), or investigate alternatives that I will share on this blog.

I'm also giving up the salt (chips, cashews). I already rarely eat red meat, so as an extra push, I'm going to become reacquainted with the egg plant and pursue vegetarian recipes, which I am very excited about since I love to cook.

I'm going to be learning about vegetables beyond my limited scope, and increase my smoothie intake.

When I have gotten to the point where I have comfortably transitioned into an even more healthy lifestyle, not only will I share the photos that I took today, I will take new ones of me in a bikini (and I haven't been in a bikini since I was 4).

I just want to get rid of fat that I don't need, and I think a 15 pound decrease from my 153 lb frame would be beneficial for my physical goals, including taking significant pressure off my back. I could go on and on, but let me just list some initial goals so I can get this started.

  • Get into a bikini (and look good in it) by May 23 - my birthday
  • Lose 10 lbs by May 23
  • Lose a total of 15 lbs, by July 4
  • 4-pack abs by May 23 (doesn't have to be chiseled, but if I flex, I want to see some indentation
  • Eat a 75% vegetarian diet - which would become the norm - by May 23
  • Be able to run 5 miles in 30 minutes by May 23
  • Be able to do a yoga head stand by May 23

 That's it for the first part of this lifestyle journey. I'm working on so many wonderful things in my life - my emotions, business, and more, and I feel like it is time to get everything in sync so that I can be successful across the board. It's going to be hard especially because I already don't eat a lot of things that I already don't eat, BUT there is always room to do better.