Natural Hair: What I’ve Learned So Far

I decided to cut my hair in 2003 and wore it “natural” until 2008 when I decided to grow it out. I grew it out and permed it and loved the length. The stylist at the time decided to cut all of my new growth because she said it was damaged.  I was beyond pissed.   In 2011 I decided to grow out again and stopped dying and texturizing because it was really damaging my hair.     Now that I was back to work and really had no time in the morning for hair I decided to cut it again.    In 2013 I decided again to grow it out and when I decided to start working out I ran out of ideas for my hair.   The weekly sweating and my hair was an issue.  I decided to cut it again and go back to a short natural cut.

COLOR:

I resorted to coloring my hair using boxed colors to save on the salon cost.   After watching a natural girl YouTube video and she mentioned for great color visit an Aveda salon.   Well I was in luck because I have one right up the road.  After scheduling a consultation, the colorist offered two options.  I could either bleach my natural color and then add the desired color$100 per hour to bleach + addition of color start at $48, yikes sticker shock) or lighten my natural color at each 6 week visit.  Her recommendation is to lighten my color at each visit.  The double process could be very drying to my hair.

Natural hair requires experimenting with a variety of products.   I have lost count.   Last night I discovered another method of applying oil before shampooing and this is call a pre-poo.   Also I am conditioning after shampooing but this time I added a protein conditioner with a cap to seal in moisture.

RESEARCH:

The holiday break gave me time to do a lot of research on natural hair care.  My first step was eliminating box color and actually investing in salon color.  After searching various YouTube videos on natural hair I found one who suggested going to an Aveda salon.  Well lucky for me there is a salon and spa less than a mile away.  Hair color in a box is not the best quality and I think color is all in the application technique.   The colorist sectioned my natural tresses and evenly applied color.  I never did this with box color because I thought sectioning only applied to those with long hair.

I think one of the myth is natural hair requires no maintenance and I was so wrong.  In the past weeks,  I have learned my share of natural hair care daily and weekly regimens.  I realize with a chemical treatment I have to show extra TLC for my natural tresses.  I have an arsenal of supplies as I have learned you must experiment with a few products until you find the right fit for your hair.  Another lesson is learning my hair type, I believe my hair lies between 4a-4c.

My daily regimen was to just wet my hair and apply Tresemme conditioner and EcoStyle gel.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  I also assumed once a week shampooing with sulfate free shampoo and using the Tresemme conditioner as a leave in conditioner was good enough.  Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.  It took a few weeks and multiple products for me to find products that worked for my hair type.

What I learned:

1) Natural hair needs daily MOISTURE, LOTS AND LOTS OF MOISTURE depending on your hair type.  My hair type needs lots of moisture.

2)Natural hair needs a great balance of MOISTURE AND PROTEIN.

3)Natural hair needs weekly deep conditioning especially when it is color treated.

4)Natural hair does not require shampooing every week or at least this is a personal preference.  Hence the term, cowash-washing with conditioner.

5)Pre-poo defined, preparing the hair for shampooing, either with a sulfate free/clarifying shampoo or a sulfate free, silicone free moisturizing conditioner.

6)Dry hair with paper towels or a microfiber towel rather than a cotton towel

7) Purchase a Denman Brush and a Detangling comb, since I still have a TWA (teeny weeny afro) I purchased these for my daughter.

8)Difference between rinsing with warm vs. cold water

9)Experiment with products, try to buy sample sizes to minimize your out of pocket cost.   My go to site for my products is  Amazon.com . This allows me to make use of my Prime membership with free 2 day shipping on items that qualify for Prime shipping.

Since writing this I now have three favorite websites I consult,  MahoghanyCurls MoKnowsHair and Curlmart

I love Mo’s(of MoKnowsHair) explanations on each of the products reviewed , she also has great YouTube video tutorials.   Also I love the fact that her videos offer different options depending on your hair type.   I realized after my research on CurlMart.com my hair type is 4a.

My new go to products well as my daughter’s hair are Dark & Lovely Au Naturale product line.  I also learned to purchase a detangling comb and denman brush.   I have searched for these products in Walmart (depends on location if products available), Target(depends on location if product is available and how many items are available within the line), Walgreens (found one of the Au Naturale products on sale).  In the mass merchandisers the products range in price from $7.99 to $9.99.     I even searched for the product line at the local beauty supply store and it was overpriced.    My new go to place is Amazon.   As a Prime member, I saved on the items plus I get 2 day free shipping.   My advice before you search in stores, check Amazon.   The 10 in 1 gel was $8.69 yet the beauty supply store priced it at $10.79.   It is only 5.4 oz and yet the 14 oz product is $9.99

The Au Naturale line smells sooooo good and blends well with damp hair.  It is a blend of mango and bamboo milk.
I try to do this every 4 days.  Pre-poo, apply Shea Moisture Shea Butter Hair Growth serum or olive oil, with plastic cap for 30 minutes. Rinse with warm water.  Next cowash.

Cowash with VO5 moisturizing conditioner(inexpensive, no sulfates, no silicones) , Tresemme or Curls Coconut Curlada conditioner (rinse with cold water, closes the cuticle), olive oil, Dark & Lovely Au Naturale Curl Defining Glaze

My daily regimen:

Spritz with water or saturate in shower, olive oil, Dark & Lovely Curl Defining Glaze

Nightly regimen:

Spritz with water, olive oil, Dark & Lovely Curl Defining Glaze and wrap with a silk scarf, every other night.

phonto (60)

Cotton or Wool is not kind to  natural hair.

Mid week:

Cowash with VO5 conditioner, Tresemme or Curls Coconut Curlada conditioner, olive oil, Glaze

Deep conditioner with a moisturizing conditioner with a cap for 30 minutes every other week (rinse conditioner with cold water to close cuticle)

Once a month  protein/deep conditioner(once a month)(30 minutes with cap),  ideally after my color treatment

I now have three products within the Au Naturale line, 10 in 1 gelee, Curl Enhancing Glaze and Hair Butter.   Review shortly on all three products.   Oh, I almost forgot I received my Aphogee Curlirific Leave In Conditioner, I tried for the first time after my weekly cowash.   In addition to my hair treatments I am using this regimen for my 8yo hair as well.  In order to enhance her hair growth I am going to commit to 2 strand twists, which gives a lot of flexibility either for a twist out, pinned up do, or just wearing loose with a head band.

Next, a tapered cut so I have more of a style with my new curly look..I am doing a chronicle of my hair growth so I will share shortly.

Some items to add to my hair tool list is a steamer, a diffusing blow dryer and a heated cap for both of us.   MoKnowsHair has a list of her top items for 2014.  This helps a lot on what to buy and brands to buy.

Keep in mind too, you are what you eat!   I am really trying to either eat or drink my veggies and fruit using my Nutribullet.

Just remember patience is a virtue and it takes a lot of patience to grow out your natural hair….

 

Cooking and Baking by Me: Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

Have you ever wondered what do with chicken thighs? I found skinless and boneless thighs at Wegmans and came across this recipe on MyRecipes.  This is the first time I used cumin in a recipes.   You have to cook the chicken using the broiler setting which means timer, timer and don’t walk away. The chicken cooks really quickly due to the fact it is skinless and boneless.   The chili powder and honey gives the chicken a spicy kick and sweet combination.   I added yellow rice and broccoli for a quick meal.

Ingredients

2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs $
Cooking spray
6 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

*You can find full recipe at  myrecipes.com

 

Single Mom Chronicles: Fitness Blender Day 4 Workout

MLK Day of Service

mlk-day-of-service

Single Mom Chronicles: Fitness Blender Day 3

This was my day 3 workout and it is definitely an adjustment for my body.  The burn is no joke and I thought working out at home was not effective.

My diet changes include:

eating oatmeal for breakfast
whole wheat selections
not skipping lunch during the day (busy work day)
snacking better nuts, and now I have a love for HUMMUS! (who knew!!!), plain Greek yogurt.
more water consumption
any no fast food

Small steps but definitely a step in the right direction. The only thing I need to restart is my glass of warm lemon water in the AM.

I think what helps me most is cooking with fresh herbs(which intensifies the flavor), and fresh produce. I just wish I had a menu selections with simple ingredients. My only issue is the fact that I spend more trying to concentrate on eating right my grocery bill is way higher. I feel like I want to create an eating right for less page.

My favorite breakfast food is an egg white, pico de gallo, cheddar cheese, spinach and I did sneak in bacon.   I can switch out the bacon for turkey bacon with no problem.

The website exceeds my expectations!!!!! for an at home workout  The only equipment to inveset in is dumbells (shop at TJMaxx, Home Goods, Marshalls) and a possibly a mat. Best part is the workouts are FREE!!!

 

No excuses for a busy schedule!!

Cooking and Baking By Me: Baja Fish Tacos

phonto (52)

 

In the past few days I have been craving fish tacos, empanandas and pico de gallo.  On my visit to Iron Hill Brewery I tried the Baja Fish Tacos and they were absolutely delicious.

Where do I go for a great recipe?  Pinterest, of course!!!  Now I must include a disclaimer for my version of this recipe.   For some reason Wegmans was all out of the 10oz shredded red cabbage so I had to improvise.   I had the produce department cut a head of red cabbage in half and I decided to purchase the Hellman’s Chipolte mayonnaise.   Per the recipe I added 2 TBSP of lime juice and a 1/4 tsp of minced garlic.  The best part was doing a beer batter for the first time.    I believe the holiday season wiped out the seafood department of all the fresh cod.   Unfortunately I had to buy frozen cod and to my surprise it was not bad.  My craving was truly satisfied.

Cabbage Slaw, the color was absolutely beautiful and the fragrance of fresh cilantro and red onion, awwww

phonto (47)

 

1 cup of Hellmann’s Chipotle Mayonnaise, added 2 TBSP of lime juice and 1/4 tsp of minced garlic 

phonto (50)

 

 

Dredge fish slices in beer batter

 

phonto (48)

 

Cooked about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown………

 

phonto (51)

 

 

My final dish, I added  pico de gallo.  This recipe was totally delicious and I expect to make it again and again.

phonto (53)

 

 

 

This is the recipe for Baja Fish Tacos  I used as my inspiration and craving for fish tacos.   In addition to this recipe there are other amazing recipes on this site.    I hope you enjoy as much as I did.   The joy of cooking is making a recipe all your own.  I love to save time in the kitchen so if I can decrease prep time I am all for it.

 

Servings: 4
Total Time: 40 Minutes

Ingredients

For the Cabbage Slaw

  • 5 cups (or one 10-ounce bag) shredded red cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Chipotle Sauce

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann’s
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, from one lime
  • 2-3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (canned), roughly chopped, plus 1-2 teaspoons sauce (see note below)
  • 1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped

For the Beer Batter

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup beer

For the Fish and Tortillas

  • 1-1/2 pounds skinless cod, cut into 1-inch wide x 4-inch long strips
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas, warmed
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Instructions

  1. Toss the cabbage, red onion, cilantro, vinegar, oil and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, chipotle chiles with sauce and garlic in a blender or mini food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Mix the flour, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Gradually add the beer, whisking until the batter is smooth with no lumps. Set aside.
  4. In a medium skillet, over medium heat, add enough oil to reach a depth of 1/2-inch. Heat the oil until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F, or when the end of a wooden spoon sizzles when dipped into the oil.
  5. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, dip the fish strips in the beer batter and coat on both sides. Let the excess batter drip off, then fry the fish in the hot oil until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
  6. Smear each tortilla with a generous amount of the chipotle sauce, then top with the cabbage slaw. Lay one piece of fish inside each tortilla and serve with lime wedges.
  7. Note: 3 chipotle peppers and 2 teaspoons sauce will give you a spicy sauce. Use less for a milder sauce. You can freeze any leftover chipotle peppers from the can.

 

 

 

Cooking and Baking by Me: Banana Cake

Pinterest is my friend for all things delicious for food and baking recipes.  Typically after buying bananas I eat maybe two and the rest get overripe.   My staple for overripe bananas is my go to recipe found on Pinterest, banana bread!    The holidays create baking    Since I am a big fan of Pinterest and the millions of recipes, I searched for a banana cake/bread recipe.

 

phonto (46)

The cake was absolutely delicious especially with coffee the next morning.    I definitely suggest checking the cake after 45 minutes for doneness. Also realized I need to visit HomeGoods for a cake tester.  Also I used my 10 cup bundt pan and discovered I should probably invest in a silicone pan.

The recipe is super easy and most ingridients are already in your cupboard.

Grandma’s Banana Cake

Ingredients

2 Cups Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Cup Sour Milk (1 cup milk & 1 tbsp vinegar)
3 Cups Sifted Flour
2 tsp Vanilla
2 Cups Mashed Ripe Bananas
1 tsp Baking Soda & Pinch of Salt

For the full recipe, please visit the link below.

recipe credit: Grandmas Banana Cake

Single Mom Chronicles: Single During Holidays

sad (1)

 

PHOTO CREDIT: bing.com/images

 

On Christmas I noticed at least 2 articles on being single during the holidays and never did I feel that being single was a “condition”.   I am divorced which wholeheartedly makes me single.   Wow, how this transforms you into a new lifestyle for yourself as well as your kids.    The only true difference is the friendship circle because our source of support and networking is different.    For those who are single it is a bit difficult to relate on some levels as they are definitely not experts on your experience and I cannot begin to understand what single and never married is like.   For the married, it is difficult to relate because everything is an “us” or “we” which I no longer have to consider to make plans or decisions. My “us” and “we” includes considering minors and not an adult.    I  welcome the advice, support and strength from my friends who totally understand the emotional rollercoaster of being separated, divorced and figuring out the dating maze.

Should I feel that “being single” is a condition?  Is it necessary for me to consume my Christmas morning with articles dishing about the pros and cons of “being single” during the holidays?  What makes the people writing the articles experts?  Shortly after the beginning of 2014 I woke like this and never once did I feel it was a condition.  What I did feel is wow that chapter is closed!!!!!! After almost 3 years of unnecessary anguish, mindless waste of time and energy the ink hit the paper and it was DONE!    My first thought- I get to start new chapters.   I had no clue what this looked like or felt like but definitely welcomed the challenge.    The craziest as I reflect is after being married for amount 11 years, I actually felt alone.  There is nothing worse than being in a relationship and feeling alone.  My one advantage as a now single female is on holidays I am not obligated to go or be anywhere other than where I want to go for the day or weeks.      Just being with someone is not the answer for everyone, being happy in my own skin before concentrating on another person is most important to me.

I’m taking this time to find makes me HAPPY  in my SPACE!!!!!

 

 

 

Happy New Year – 2015

th (4)

 

 

photo credit: bing.com/images

Single Mom Chronicles: Raising A Child with ADHD!

learning difficulties

photocredit: bing.com/images

This post published prematurely as I was sorting through my thoughts. What does this mean? I will say it is a challenge to figure out what is going on inside the brain of my child. Every day is completely different. The emotional demands of trying to figure out what is working and what is not working. There are so many thoughts and ideas. The one that is most frustrating is from people who say “you can’t believe everything from doctors”. I am never one to believe unless I have substantial facts behind the diagnosis. When you bring a child home you are hopeful that everything in their life moving forward is wonderful. However it is unfortunate that as a parent you cannot predict your life path and the various detours. The hope is that you will raise your children in a two parent household with all the love and nurturing they need before going into the world. Next comes divorce and you scramble to find stability especially when you choose to leave your old life.

Divorce brings a whole new level of emotions for children. I think all becomes obvious when a search for a school was a priority. When I first looked around for schools I thought spending a little more per month would render great results. I was a little disappointed that a smaller class to teacher ratio didn’t address the early signs of reading difficulty. Fast forward to Kindergarten and a great teacher. This was a trying year because it was the first time with a structured classroom setting, homework and sharing space with over twenty kids. It was a challenge however we managed to get through it and it was the first signs of struggles with focus and handling emotions. Next, it was 1st grade and the worst teacher in my experience as a parent with two kids. I have never witnessed a more disparaging individual hired to teach young minds. It was beyond a challenge and I was elated when the year ended. Unfortunately in the school aside from the psychologist’s evaluation we were left with a diagnosis and little else in terms of resources. My child’s struggles were beyond reading difficulties and although there was an afterschool reading club this was not the intense focus my child needed.

My planning process was how to change schools that would provide the resources for a child with learning differences. I researched public schools and housing in the surrounding area to determine which school district had the resources to assist my child. Thanks to a website that reviews the school districts as well as the neighborhood I found a new school district. Fast forward seven months and we moved, I changed jobs and we are in another school district. After two months of the new school year, we received follow-up from the school district to gain permission for an evaluation. I learned that the evaluation request is based on the evaluation received by the previous school. The psychologist was very thorough with communicating his testing and action plans. One month later there is a new diagnosis which closely matches the previous evaluation. The only additional assessment was to determine if ADHD was a potential factor.

Unfortunately, the conclusion of ADHD correlates with her learning difficulties in math, reading and writing. I really wanted to push to have the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting before Christmas break. It is my hope that we (school, my child and myself) all can start the New Year with a viable plan. There is now a meeting date for an IEP to address math, reading and writing support services with her current teacher, psychologist, special education teacher and principal. For some reason the word IEP has always made me feel angst because I assumed it was something bad and unwarranted specifically for African American children. I learned that I had to base the conclusion on my observations with my child and what I felt was necessary. It is obvious struggles exist and dealing with a child with ADHD creates a challenges each day. I have to tailor each step I take because of the fluctuations in her inability to focus and effectively handle emotions. As a parent, this can be exhausting because each day is different and you have to learn to adjust your temperament. I am struggling to learn what works and how to minimize the instability. It is a daily learning process and I wish I had the right formula to get us through it all.

I think what has relieved my thoughts is speaking with an aide at the school who adores my child. She told me do not worry you are in the right place both of children received support services and my daughter is a chemical engineer. As a single parent you desire confirmation and guidance when you are making major decisions so this was a proverbial “pat on the back”.