Natural Hair Friendly Halloween Costumes

Thursday, October 31, 2013

This post probably should've been written a couple of weeks ago, but since it's still Halloween, it's still appropriate (if only for a few more hours…but then again, I am sure a lot of people aren't officially celebrating until tomorrow or Saturday). But nonetheless, here are 5 natural hair friendly Halloween Costumes.

Susie Carmichael from Rugrats
Susie Carmichael - Rugrats
Depending on the length of your hair, you can either do Susie from Rugrats or Susie from All Grown Up!

Hilary Banks from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Hilary Banks - Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Don't let the looser curls keep you from trying this one. You can achieve a similar look with a bantu knot out.

Tia Landry or Tamera Campbell from Sister Sister
Tia Landry or Tamera Campbell - Sister Sister
Another one with looser curls, but again, a similar look can be achieved with a twist out.

Valerie from the Josie and the Pussycats
Valerie - Josie and the Pussycats
This one is perfect for the ladies with a twa.

Gerald Johanssen from Hey Arnold
Gerald Johanssen - Hey Arnold
Can't forget the guys. You may need to buy a wig and sculpt it to get that "tower."

The Emergency Wash Day

Monday, October 28, 2013

frobunni natural hair wash day
My hair 2 days after an emergency wash day. I decided to blowout my hair.

I try to keep my wash days fairly short. No more than 3 hours long, and 3 hours is when I am doing the most - pre-wash conditioning (I don't like the term pre-poo, it sounds weird), detangle, wash my hair in sections, rinse, condition, deep condition, apply leave-in and oil, and then style (which is usually medium sized two-strand twists, 20-30 total). Every so often, I find myself crunched for time, but I still have to wash my hair. During these rare moments, I do my emergency wash day process, which is an extremely abbreviated version of my wash day meant to get me out the door within an hour. It begins with washing my natural hair loose, conditioning, and putting my hair in a bun. This keeps it stretched while I finish in the shower. Afterwards, I apply Giovanni direct leave-in, seal with with oil, and then bun my hair again. I finish the rest of my wash day process - detangling and styling - whenever I find the time, which can be either a day later or a few days later.

Having afro-textured hair and devoting a lot of time to my hair in general, I find that the emergency wash day is an invaluable technique to have as a part of my natural hair regimen, but there are some tips and tricks to ensure that an emergency wash day doesn't become an emergency hair disaster.

  1. Don't try something new: The point of an emergency wash day is to get the hair clean, styled, and get out the door as soon as possible. It isn't the time to try new products or techniques, but just to use tried and true methods to get you out the door feeling confident and looking gorgeous. I know that Giovanni Direct Leave-In and coconut oil are going to always do my hair justice, so there is no reason to use anything else when I am rushing out of the door.
  2. Is this an Emergency Wash Day or an Official Wash Day: Decide if you want the emergency wash day to be your official wash day or just something to hold you over. If it's your official wash day, make sure you thoroughly cleanse and condition your hair so that it is clean and properly moisturized until your next wash day. If it is just holding you over, consider cowashing so that you don't dry your hair out due to over cleansing. Due to the fact that I generally dread wash days, my emergency wash day also doubles as my official wash day since I am not willing to invest two days a week to washing my hair.
  3. Keep the essentials: Decide which products and techniques will get you out of the door the fastest. The longest element of my wash day is detangling because it is very labor intensive, and I have to go very slowly to decrease the amount of breakage. I just keep my hair in a stretched state with a bun or braid, and detangle when I find the time. Pre-conditioning and deep conditioning are actually not necessary to keeping my hair healthy and moisturized because I find that my hair does fine so long as I moisturize and seal every night. 
  4. The right hairstyle is everything: The right hairstyle on the emergency wash day is important because, depending on what other steps you have to complete later, it will either make it easier with little damage and breakage, or make it a natural hair nightmare. Styles like braids and buns help to keep hair stretched and also look really good. My hair style on the emergency wash day is consistent - bun, braid or flat twist. I am trying to keep my hair as stretched as possible since it will be easier to detangle my hair later. 
  5. Do not place speed above care: The emergency wash day is meant to get you out of the door as fast as possible, but you don't want to put speed above care, and cause a setback in your hair journey. It is important to still be really gentle with your hair. If an emergency wash day is something that you cannot do without damaging your hair, consider wearing your hair in a style that will hid dirty hair and allow you to postpone your wash day. This is the exact reason why I leave my detangling session for another time; it is impossible for me to detangle, wash, condition, and style my hair all within an hour without causing a lot of breakage. 

Homemade (no egg) Caesar Salad Dressing

Saturday, October 26, 2013

SweetGreen Caesar Salad with Buckwheat Bread
 SweetGreen Caesar Salad with Buckwheat Bread

I love Caesar salad. If I am at a restaurant and it's on the menu, then there is a good change that I will be eating Caesar salad with my meal. My refrigerator is always stocked with romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, and anchovies (which perfectly accompanies any Caesar salad worth its weight) to make the delicious salad on the fly. And if I don't know what to eat for lunch or dinner, I can add an egg, chicken, or shrimp and get the perfect meal that satisfies, but still feels like a treat.

But, the one thing that has always eluded me with Caesar salad is Caesar salad dressing. For some odd reason, I just could never get it right. I would try to elevate store bought dressing with lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce, attempted a homemade dressing with raw egg and oil, and even tried to make a purely oil based dressing. But I can never nail down the flavor or the consistency. I figured that if I wanted a delicious Caesar salad with delicious dressing, I was just going to have to go out and find it…that is until I went to SweetGreen.

Generally, I go out for lunch once a week. On that day, I never really finalize my decision until I am at the register - sometimes I find myself in Cosi, other days it's Panera, and I don't normally deviate from the two, but this week, I decided to try SweetGreen hoping it would be my Chop't replacement (I use to work by a Chop't, which I loved, but ended up getting a new job with no Chop't near by).

I was a little wary of the little restaurant as I had checked their menu before and a plain Caesar could not be found. I had (and still have) no intention of eating the Kale Caesar Salad as I am not really fond of kale, even when crisped in an oven. So I decided to just make a custom salad along the lines of a Caesar salad - romaine lettuce, shrimp, and Parmesan cheese with the quintessential Caesar dressing. Upon reaching the cash register and taking my salad, I was actually pretty disappointed. For a SweetGreen salad, I got about a 1/3 less salad and paid $2 more compared to a Chop't salad, and the salad looked exactly the same.

I walked back to work hoping this salad would be worth it, got some utensils, and sat down to enjoy my meal. I was actually surprised. It tasted a bit better than a Chop't salad, and the buckwheat bread (my carb cheat for the week) was very soft and buttery. My meal was satisfying without me feeling stuffed. After eating, I went online to find their nutrition guide to log my calories in MyFitness Pal and discovered that they list the ingredients for their dressings. Caesar salad dressing was yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, anchovies, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. If their salad dressing was that delicious and that simple, I got the bright idea to make some when I got home.

Fast forward past my mini trip to Whole Foods to grab some Parmesan cheese and lemon juice, and I was mixing everything in a food processor hoping my excitement wasn't for naught. I take a spoon, dip it in the dressing, and to my surprise it tasted exactly like what I had earlier that day. I finally was able to make the perfect Caesar salad dressing to accompany the perfect Caesar salad (and as such, had Caesar salad for the next three days).

Caesar Salad with Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing
Homemade Caesar Salad with chopped chicken
Ingredients:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2/3 of a oz can of anchovies
3 garlic cloves (I like a lot of garlic, so adjust according to your taste)
Small handful of Parmesan cheese (I actually put the Parmesan cheese directly on the salad, but you may like it mixed in the dressing)
Salt and pepper for taste

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and well blended

AMRAP Workout

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fitness Motivation

Circuit AMRAP: 12 minutes
Alternate Lunge Jumps
Ab Twist Hops
Burpees
Low Jacks
High Knees
Clap Push-Ups

Need a more natural foundation? Try Cacao Powder and Rice Flour

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cacao Powder Foundation and Rice Flour Setting Powder
My face with the rice flour and cacoa powder mix

My face hates foundation and powder. It always feels hot and heavy on my face, and it actually makes my face itchy. After trying dozens of brands, I decided it would be more beneficial to find a more natural foundation. I first heard about rice flour in a book called Passport to Beauty, but never gave it any serious thought. It wasn't until I was at Ulta and saw Freeman's Strawberry and Chocolate Facial Clay Mask that I got the bright idea to use chocolate as a foundation and include the benefits of rice flour. But the thought of using random Hersey's kisses was a little odd and extreme, not to mention very processed and sticky. So I googled pure chocolate, discovered that chocolate is made from the cacao bean, and then found that many health food stores sell cacao powder.

My foundation mix consists of 1/2 rice flour and 1/2 cacao powder. I find that the rice powder is actually transparent on my skin and can be used alone. Adding the cacao powder gives a hint of color and blurs imperfections (doesn't get rid of them completely, but it does make my skin look even). Depending on your complexion, you may want to adjust the ratio - less cacao powder if you are lighter, and more cacao powder if you are darker.

There are many benefits to using rice flour and cacao powder on the skin. Unlike commercial makeup, you will find that it leaves your face healthier and healthier after each use.

Benefits of Rice Flour
- All day oil control
- Natural Sun Sunscreen
- Leaves skin softer
- Fades dark marks and scars
- Brightens skin
- Decreases size of pores
- Non-comedogenic

Benefits of Cacao Powder
- Treats and heals damaged skin
- Antioxidant
- Smells very yummy (although it is actually really bitter)

No Carbs for the Week and Coconut Sugar

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Coconut Sugar
This week, I am going to try something a little different in my diet to get me to eat better; my diet will be more in line with the 80/20 theory, which means that 80% of the time, I will eat healthy, and I can cheat 20% of the time. I find that breads and carbs seem to fill up a large amount of my diet and they aren't really the good kind.  Leaving my carbs to the weekend will ensure that I am eating healthy 80% of the time.

My other vice is sugar, which is significantly more in my diet that breads and carbs. The amount of sugar in my coffee exceeds the daily amount of sugar, add in the natural sugar in fruit, and I can easily be 3x-4x over the recommended daily amount. I did some research on sugar alternatives, and I read that coconut sugar is a better alternative that is very low on the glycemic scale and also has less calories that sugar.

These two changes in my diet will force me to really prepare what I eat each day and to be more creative with my meals. I already went to the grocery store and have prepared Monday's meals.

Breakfast
1 egg with cheese
Coffee w/coconut sugar and milk
Mid-Morning Snack
Parfait (Greek yogurt, granola, and apple)
Lunch
Salad w/steak
Snack
Grilled portabello mushroom w/hummus
Dinner
Tomato basil soup
Roasted pumpkin w/honey and cinnamon