My ALL NATURAL (no chemicals!) hair care routine

I was texting with my sister the other day, and talking to her about the dangers of relaxing your hair and the real reason why I stopped relaxing my hair.

I STOPPED RELAXING MY HAIR BECAUSE OF THE HARSH CHEMICALS INVOLVED!

I realized that not many people really knew why I stopped relaxing my hair.  The main reason why I stopped perming my hair is because of the harmful chemicals found in relaxers.  One specific harmful chemical that is found in relaxers is sodium hydroxide.  This is evidenced in Chris Rock’s movie “Good Hair”.  Below is a video clip explaining what Sodium Hydroxide can do to the scalp:

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After reflecting on this conversation, I realized that I had a double standard when it came to my natural hair.  Now, in all other aspects of my life I have been able to cut out the chemicals.  I use an all natural deodorant, body butter, cleaning products, laundry detergent – you name it, it’s chemical-free.  But somehow, I’ve made a pass for my hair products.  The majority of my hair products are chemical-laden, but I’ve made no moves in the past, because I *thought* that these chemically composed products made the process of doing my hair easier.

I have to admit it….

I WAS SO WRONG!

I decided to start my *all natural* natural hair journey in a quest for all natural alternatives to my favorite, but chemically laden, hair staples.  It actually wasn’t as hard to do as I thought it would be.  I started off by revisiting my Henna treatment.  I did this for a protein treatment and as an attempt to thicken my hair while loosening my curls.  CurlyNikki raves about henna, and I’ve seen evidence in where it has loosened her curls.  You can see it in this post here.

I tried Henna in the beginning stages of being natural, however, I don’t really remember why I didn’t continue with it.  Back in those days, I was trying everything under the sun, and not sticking with anything for the long run.  Since those days, and all of my product swapping, detangling my hair has been a nightmare!  I’ve attributed it to my hair getting longer, but I’m beginning to realize that may not be the case.  I now ask myself:

COULD CHEMICALLY INDUCED PRODUCTS MAKE MY HAIR MORE DIFFICULT TO MANAGE?

I did my first henna treatment in yearsssss (I did it overnight) on July 27, 2015.  Since then, I’ve had my hair in a bun.  I’ve finally figured out how to make my 4a/4b/4c bun sleek after watching FusionofCultures ‘Signature sleek bun” video

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My ‘aha!’ moment was when she used to Denman to distribute the gel to the lower layers of hair.  GENIUS!  Instant lay-age of the edges!  My high bun was finally slayed!   kept my hair in a coconut oiled bun until today – August 16, 2015.  I remoisturized about 2x a week with plain water and either shea butter or coconut oil to seal.  I finally did a wash today (I’ve been putting it off for over 5 days!).

 

RINSE
To start my wash day, I rinsed my hair and lightly shampooed with Alaffia african black soap.  I did this only because I had gelled my edges twice while wearing my high bun.  I did not do any detangling whatsoever prior to this.

 

TREAT
I then revisited an old favorite – bentonite clay!   I used a mixture of bentonite clay, coconut oil, mustard seed oil, rose water, oil of oregano, castor oil, and eucalyptus oil, and of course, apple cider vinegar (ACV).  I was really just experimenting to create something new that wasn’t drying.  I mixed the oils and the clay first, and then mixed the ACV & rosewater in.  I put this mixture on my hair, and I swear, I felt it detangling my hair instantly!

I put on a plastic cap, and let that marinate for about 45 minutes while I did some chores around the house.  It may have been a bit longer – I really didnt keep track, I just know that it was at least 45 minutes.  I then rinsed out the mixture from my hair.

I still have not detangled yet….

I then sectioned my hair into 5 sections and applied Trader Joes Tea Tree Tingle conditioner to each section.  I sealed each section with a mix of jojoba oil & castor oil and put it in a bantu know.  While I was applying the conditioner, I could FEEL the tangles melting away.  My hair felt like it belonged to a different person!  My hair has never felt this healthy/moisturized and strong before.  Already, I am noticing a difference!  I put on a plastic cap again, and a knit hat to help get the body heat going, and kept it on for about 30 minutes while I did some more chores!  (It’s Sunday so it’s time to go in with cleaning my house lol)

DETANGLE
After about 30 minutes, I took off the plastic cap and began to detangle my hair section by section.  My fingers were literally gliding through each section!  I divided each of the sections into 3-4 sections and detangled each one individually.  This made the process go by a lot smoother.  I first finger detangled, then used a comb, and finally my Denman brush.  I added some more oil, and twisted each section up.  When I finished detangling my entire head, I rinsed the whole head while still in twists under warm water, and then cold water.  I sealed the moisture in with my jojoba/castor oil mix, as well as coconut oil.

STYLE
I then bantu knotted my twists and am now waiting on them to dry.  Once fully dried, I’m planning on unravelling each twist, adding some whipped shea butter, and re-twisting.

 

It sounds like a lot of steps, but this is because I am learning/tweaking my routine.  This was the easiest detangle session that I have ever had, and the healthiest that my hair has ever felt!  I plan on washing my hair twice a month – for the first time ever, I am actually planning a hair routine.

Henna 1x/month, cowash w/ trader joes tea tree tingle conditioner, follow up with apple cider vinegar rinse, moisturize & seal

2 Weeks after henna bentonite clay treatment, detangle with Trader Joes Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner, rinse, moisturize & seal

So overall, I plan on washing my hair 2x/month and making sure that my hair is well moisturized.  My goal is to reach hip length by this time next year.

Wish me luck :)

<3

Fight Procrastination! Don’t think of the future, think of the NOW!

cleanconscience

For me, procrastination is the art of leaving things for later simply because I “don’t feel like” doing them right now.  This behavior is sooooo bad!  Just think about it, If I leave things that I don’t like doing for a time when I “feel like” doing them (literally), they will NEVER get done!  This is because I will always choose a “more fun” option (i.e. surfing the internet for hours) in lieu of that daunting task.

BUT the worst part is that that “daunting task” will haunt me subconsciously and stop me from fully enjoying what I actually love to do because that “not fun” thing that is in the back of my mind will hinder it.
Ex.  the feeling when all schoolwork/finals are over and your schedule is free and clear

Ex. 2 the feeling you get when you walk into your house and it is completely clean

procrastination

 

So whenever I get the urge to procrastinate, I think about how I will feel when that ‘task’ is out of the way and I can move on to more enjoyable things :)

 

How to Love Your Day!

I am one of those people who tends to wake up on the wrong side of the bed – often!  I often find myself feeling grumpy/tired/angry for no real reason in the mornings!  Here are the steps that I have taken to ensure myself a pleasant morning.

  1. Ditch your alarm clock by developing a routine
    • I make sure that I am in bed by about 11pm and wake up regularly by 7am latest.  Over time, your body becomes used to your new schedule and you begin to fall through it naturally without even needing an alarm clock!
  2. Uplifting music sets the mood 
    • Everything is more fun when you sing – time passes by faster too!  I have a Beyonce playlist on Pandora that i put on in the morning to ease myself into the rest of my routine.  I listen to it while I clean and complete my morning rituals.
  3. A messy house makes me anxious
    • I don’t know why, but it seems as though my house explodes every night!  Since I work from home, I’ve noticed that a messy house makes me anxious/grumpy/angry!  I do rounds and clean my house every morning.  This puts me in a great mood for the day, and helps me to stay organized, positive and motivated to get things done!
  4. Get in some sort of physical activity
    • I either go to the gym, dance to music, do some yard work, ride my bike – do any type of physical activity to get my blood flowing and those endorphins up! Physical activity is extremely important for me – without it I tend to feel extremely sluggish and lazy.  I don’t have an extremely physical job – I work from home on the computer all day, so its very important that I consciously keep myself active!

These are all things that I try to accomplish before I start my work day.  I should also add that I do check my e-mails as soon as I wake up and respond to whats important before I begin this routine.  This only takes about 30-40 minutes and is usually done from bed :)  By the time I am finished with all of this it is around 12-1pm and I am refreshed, energized, and ready to start my work day.

I make it a point to put myself first – to take care of my physical and mental well-being before anything else.  This has helped substantially and actually has resulted in me being more productive overall.

2014 Update ~ Where have I Been & My plans for this blog

I know, I know!

I’ve become one of those ‘bloggers’ who instead of updating regularly, have just been busy ‘getting my life’ and failed to write down what I have been experiencing, feeling and doing.  But that’s all about to change!

Huh?  What?  Why?  How??

Well, I’ve made myself a PLAN!  A compilation of sorts of things that I’ve learned (so far) along my journey to the FABULOUS age of 30!  I don’t have much time left, so it’s imperative that I get get this blog updated with my progress!

Here is a brief recap of what I’ve learned about myself and accomplished since beginning this blog:

  1. I lost approximately 11lbs

  2. I grew my hair out to waist length (pictures to follow!)

  3. I’ve grown A LOT due mainly through extreme introspection

Those 3 things may seem inconsequential to some, but they were huge accomplishments for me – things that I previously thought were hopeless for me.

Shortly after publishing, I reread my original posts on this blog, including my goals and I must say, they really concerned me!  I sat back and realized how incredibly superficial and narcissistic my goals were, but more importantly – I realized HOW HARD I WAS ON MYSELF!

LESSON #1:  I had a habit of enhancing my flaws (that was my number 1 flaw lol), not realizing or giving myself credit for the fact that my flaws were are not actually flaws – they were unique attributes of myself that can and should be used to my advantage!  Rather than wishing they went away or that I was someone else entirely, I decided to use this unique STRONG DOMINANT attributes of my personality to HELP me reach my goals.  They were not in the way of my goals at all!  They were TOOLS – extremely important tools that for all of these years I grossly undervalued!

Sitting down and publishing those posts, putting them in black and white wound up being a MUCH bigger step than I had intended for it to be.  And so, I had to take a break for a while – a step back to really evaluate what I thought of myself and understand why I originally judged myself so harshly.

I’m not going to lie, originally reading those posts and that list that I made, made me feel a little down – a little unaccomplished , weak, lazy.  I then realized, how I feel is controlled by one thing and one thing only -ME!  I feel that way because I judge myself, I undervalue myself, and that was the first thing that needed to change….

How to fight procrastination and get things done

Want to fight procrastination?  Nike has the correct answer:  “just do it!”  Unfortunately, for some of us, this is easier said than done.  Not everyone will understand this, but many people struggle with disorganization and extreme lack of self-motivation particularly when it comes to tasks that we do not find particularly enjoyable.  Part of this can be genetic, however, regardless of your genes, there are many steps that you can take to transform yourself into a much more organized and responsible person.

 

Create a general to-do list.

Store it in your cellphone, on your laptop, somewhere where you can access it at anytime wherever you are.  I have an app on my cellphone called one note where I make a list of things I need to do now, in the near future, and in general.  I also always carry a small notebook and pen with me in case I need to write down my thoughts, am struck with inspiration, or in case my cell phone dies!

Put a date next to every item that you add to your to-do list.  Try not to leave ANYTHING on your list for more than 1 week.  Try to get to the older items first, followed by the ones you are most likely to procrastinate, and then followed by the easiest items.  Start out trying to do at least one thing from your list daily until you get the hang of it.

You can also add to this list, or make a separate list of any little thoughts and ideas that may pop into your head or things that you want to remember to purchase or pickup when you are out.  head.   This way if you go somewhere and am not sure whether you remembered everything that you need, you can quickly reference the list and see if you missed anything.

 

Create a list of ‘Things I Will Do Today”

In addition to the general to-do list, create a list of things that you will do today.  Do the things that you are more likely to procrastinate first – the not so fun things.  Find a way to make them fun like listening to music during or watching a great TV program.  If you find a way to make the things that you don’t really feel like doing fun, relaxing and tolerable, they become more of a habit and less of a chore.  Developing these habits over time will change your mind and approach to how you handle tasks thereby shrinking the list of things you find to be a ‘chore’ AND making you less likely to procrastinate in the future.

Get a planner/organizer

Look at it daily.  This way you will not miss any important deadlines or appointments.  If possible, add important dates and deadlines into the calendar in your phone with an alarm reminding you to get things done.  I have a calendar in my phone, however, I also write things down in my planner because my battery life (damn smartphone!) isn’t the best and I do not want to miss anything!

 

Reward yourself for getting things done.

staypositive

Delicious, Healthy Low Calorie & Gluten-Free Brown “Fried” Rice

healthybrownrice

Hey there!  I wanted to share with you one of my FAVORITE low calorie gluten-free recipes!    It is very healthy, gluten-free and a perfect dish for this Thanksgiving, Christmas, or this holiday season!

A half cup serving of brown rice contains almost 2 grams of healthy calories and just over 100 calories!  Eating whole grain, nutrient-rich foods like brown rice may help reduce the risk of diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, and can help you maintain a healthy waistline.

Turmeric is used for arthritisheartburn (dyspepsia), stomach paindiarrhea, intestinal gas, stomachbloating, loss of appetite, jaundiceliver problems and gallbladder disorders.

It is also used for headachesbronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgialeprosy, fever, menstrual problems, and cancer. Other uses include depressionAlzheimer’s disease, water retention, worms, and kidney problems.*

This recipe also adds another important part of your diet – VEGGIES!  You can either use frozen veggies or lightly steamed veggies for this recipe.  This dish is a well-balanced complete meal that can satisfy the most ravenous of appetites without packing pounds onto your waistline.

Without further ado, here it is.  My super-special- perfect for Thanksgiving – fried brown rice – gluten free – stir fry recipe.

 

Yield: approximately 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups uncooked brown rice
4 ½ cups water
1 soup bouillon cube (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 egg
1 large yellow onion minced
4 Turkey hotdogs chopped (optional)
4 slices turkey bacon chopped (optional)
1 cup frozen peas (optional)
1 cup frozen corn (optional)
Wok or extra large non-stick frying pan

1. Combine brown rice, soup bouillon, a dash of turmeric, red pepper flakes and water into a medium saucepan. Stir gently and bring to a boil. Stir again and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 40-45 minutes.

2. While the rice is cooking, mince the onions and the meat.

3. Lightly beat the egg and scramble.  Remove from pan and place on the side for later.

4. On medium-high heat, sautee (with olive oil) onions and meat. Remove from pan and place on the side for later.

5. Once the brown rice is finished cooking, lightly oil the wok with olive oil and add the fully cooked rice inside. Also add frozen veggies stirring constantly until the veggies are warm and fully cooked. Stir frequently.

6. Add minced onion, eggs and meat, continue stirring.

7. Add soy sauce and keep stirring until all of the ingredients sort of ‘blend together (approximately 5-6 minutes). If you would like to add any other seasonings, now is a good time to add those as well. (sometimes I like to add some liquid hot sauce at this point :))

 

Helpful Tips:

  • You can use 1 or 2 day old brown rice as well. To save time, you can cook the rice in advance and fry when you are ready.
  • Feel free to add any other frozen veggies. I would recommend frozen over canned as I have tried it both ways. I found the canned veggies a bit to moist, even after draining, making the rice more mushy instead of firm.
  • You can add any kind of meat you would like to this rice, I’ve also tried it with beef bacon trimming as much fat as possible and it gave the rice great flavor. Or, if you prefer, you can opt to make this rice completely vegetarian, its all up to you!
  • You can try substituting green onions for regular onions, I like it both ways but prefer it with a large yellow onion.
  • If the mixture starts drying out while cooking, add a little more olive oil. The goal is to use only the amount of olive oil needed to minimize the greasiness of the rice.
  • You want to stir frequently while in the wok to evenly distribute heat and prevent the rice from burning.
Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland!   What are some of your favorite gluten free healthy recipes?

 * Read more about health benefits of turmeric here

 

8 Cheap & Effective Ways to Keep Your Home Smelling Great 24/7

I am OBSESSED with nice smells.  If you wander around my house for any amount of time, you will find ALL of the items listed below.   I’ve compiled a list of cheap and effective ways that I personally use to keep my house smelling great 24/7.

1.  Spray your favorite scent on your fabric furniture and drapes

perfumebodyYou just want to do a squirt or two.  Just enough to smell nice but not be overpowering.  Your want it to be a light lingering scent, not something strong and distracting.   If you are like me and like for your house to smell good – especially when company is around, here is a quick tip – spray one or two spritzes of your FAVORITE scent on your shower curtain in the bathroom.   I use Flora by Gucci because it is particularly strong and one quick squirt on my shower curtain is enough to hold the deliciously fresh scent in the bathroom for a few days.

2.  For a good nights sleep – mist your bedspread with a calming scent

If you have a significant other, please get approval on the scent first!  Body sprays are PERFECT for this.  I tend to go for fresh and floral scents.  Scents like JASMINE, LAVENDER, and CHAMOMILE are calming and relaxing and can help you unwind for bedtime.

3.  Reed diffusers work best up close

reeddiffuser

I find that the reed diffusers smell great, but only at a short distance from the actual diffuser.  Because of this, the only places that I usually would put a reed diffuser is on my desk or on top of the toilet – basically anywhere where you would be close to it.  You can either make your own reed diffuser or buy one from a store.

4.  Plug-ins are great for those who want to set it and forget it

YankeeCandleScentPlugPlug ins are a great way to get a uniform scent across your home.  You buy them once, plug them in, and forget about it!  They can provide long lasting scent for 1-3 months.  You can even adjust the dials on them to determine how strong you would like for the scent to be.  My favorite plug ins are from Yankee Candle or Bath & Body Works

 

5.  Freshen closed spaces with scent sachets

scentsachetStick a scent sachet or two in your closet, dresser, or under the seat of your car.  I find that these work best in closed spaces.  I am obsessed with nice smells so I tend to put sweet smelling packets in my linen closet and under my car seats.  These can be pretty cheap (under $5 for 3) and don’t last as long as some of the other methods, but for the price, it’s not so bad.  To save costs, you can even make your own!

6.  Scented Candles -Romantic & Fun!

eucalyptusmintI absolutely love, love, LOVE scented candles!  They set the mood for the room – they can be very romantic – and the smell payoff is great.  My current favorites are Euclyptus Mint and Midnight Jasmine.  An important tip is to keep the lid for your candles – when you need to put them out, DO NOT blow them out – this will give you a waxy blown out candle smell which (in my opinion) RUINS the smell that you worked so hard for!  Instead, close the lid to put the scented candle out, this will not only stop that awful wax-burning-candle smell, it will also preserve much of the melted wax, allowing for the scented candle to last longer.  

 

7. How to get rid of a burnt smell?  Incense sticks!

incense

I have a problem – I burn rice about 25% of the time.  I don’t know why, I am actually a great cook, but for some reason when it comes to rice, I need to measure it with a measuring cup – I mean under the meniscus and everything and also put on a timer.  Without these steps, I will almost always end up with burned rice.  If you want to how to get rid of a burnt smell in your house, burn some incense!  Incense is great for getting rid of any type of burned food smells.  I always have a package (or two) of incense handy.

8.  For an all natural fragrance, try Essential Oils 

I love using essential oils to lightly wipe down my counter tops after cleaning – or I add a few drops of my favorite essential oils  to my cleaning solution when I clean my floors.  This gives my home a light, all-over refreshing smell.  Also, I like to put a few drops in my electric diffusers – this works great as well.

 

Quick Tips:

I would recommend sticking with one theme in the entire house – you don’t want to have too many scents flying around!  Stick with scents that compliment each other and smell great not only to you, but to others as well.

Want to go the all natural route?  You can make your own body mist or reed diffusers as well!  Aromatherapy is great for enhancing your mood.  Here is a post on different all natural aromatic scents and perfumes.

 

DIY & Self-help