15 December 2012

Core Finals: Day 1 + Mi Pelo + Regrets

Today was the first day of studying for finals! I didn't get there until the afternoon, but only Becca, Daniel and  Andrei were at Vicente's house. It was difficult to focus because we enjoy talking about other things too, but despite the fact that we went off onto many, many tangents, we got a lot accomplished, methinks. We discussed literature a bit, and then when Stephen came, we got more into history. Becca and Daniel left, and then Allen  - our resident philosopher - came. He is probably one of the deepest guys I know, so we got our philosophy on when he arrived. I love that he's so open to learning about other people's beliefs, even when they differ from his own. We can talk about our faiths (he's Muslim and I'm Christian) without the conversation turning into a heated debate, and we end up seeing a lot more of the similarities between our beliefs instead of the differences. I've actually seen that there are many more similarities between Islam and Christianity than there are anything else. Both religions have Abrahamic roots, just like Judaism, so it makes sense. It slips my mind so often, though, that it usually takes a person of another faith to remind me of how much we share. But I digress...

Throughout the afternoon, we went onto rabbit trails about culture, religion, philosophy, science...you wouldn't believe it unless you were there. After everybody else had left. Allen and Andrei even got into this deep discussion about what time really is, the definition of 3 dimensions, time travel, quantum physics, calculus...it was amazing. I thought it was over my head at first, and I remarked how dumb I felt, but they both encouraged me to just think about it in different ways. I did, and I actually comprehended it. It totally changed my attitude and view of physics (not my favorite science) and the practicality and application of mathematics (most especially algebra and calculus). I'm looking forward to math classes now. Or even just learning math on my own. I'll show you some shots of the group - finally, faces to the names I mention so often!

SN: Andrei wanted to know why he wasn't on my blog, too. Lol. So, I wondered about just doing a Scholars Stories series, and do interviews with all of the people in the program - even the professors. What think you? Let me know what you'd think about getting to know my classmates and friends! :-)

So, now, presenting some of my fellow Scholars! (I did let them know that I'd be blogging about them, and they knew about the photos :-D ):

From left to right: Daniel, Andrei, and Stephen while we discussed the major points of history that we learned this semester.

Allen (left) and Andrei (right) talking about the finer points of history in the kitchen.

Vicente (left) and Stephen (right) enjoying Allen and Andrei's conversation.

Allen and Andrei deep in a discussion about the effects that religion has on culture.

In the basement: Allen and Andrei's physics and calculus oral dissertation lol. I looked on from the couch, taking in the incense that Vicente (sitting off to the left) burned. Vicente's younger sister came down to listen in, too, and she was also intrigued. Who wouldn't be?

This is a short clip I recorded during their discussion. This was the tip of the iceberg! Sorry for the poor video quality; their voices are more important than the images, though :-)

Andrei used my scrunchy to describe what time is (my mind was blown, btdubs). And speaking of scrunchies, peep the 'do! I went up to the bathroom to take out my twists, and was greeted with this (I did pin back one side with a couple bobby pins I found in my hair):

Not too bad, eh? I think I'll wear my hair out on Fridays again. I'm loving this look, methinks. Oh, and I just mixed up my cleanser for tomorrow morning. I added some Paula's Choice shampoo because of the silicones from the Pantene that are in my hair. Uggh. Ooh, and I'm DCing with Nature's Gate Aloe Vera Moisturizing Conditioner. I'll probably add EVOO, EVCO, grapeseed oil, sesame oil, canola oil, and mayhaps a carrot or two, and some mayonnaise. I'll dish in the AM.

Last but not least: Please, please, please keep those CT families in your thoughts and prayers. The fact that somebody was sick enough to murder so many young, innocent children is troubling to my soul. I was devastated when I heard the news. I work with that age group a lot, and I just cried and cried. What are we coming to?

14 December 2012

Tales of Bacon + Gritting my Teeth + Schwarzenberg

For my World Music class this semester, our professor assigned everybody a Fieldwork Project to complete by the end of the semester. We all had to find a person involved in world music (non-Western or folk or non-mainstream), interview them, research about them and what they do, and present a brief (10 minute) presentation to the rest of the class, and submit an 8-10 page research paper.

It sounds daunting, no? Well, I thought so. This week, we're going through all of the presentations and submitting our papers on Thursday.Tuesday, Rory (a musical theatre aficionado and fellow lover of Newsies) presented, and she did her project on this guy who just blew me out of the water! His name? Christylez Bacon (pronounced Chris-styles; his real first name is Chris). He's a progressive hip hop artist - he takes the essentials of hiphop - the beats, beatboxing, rhythms, etc. - and blends them with just about any other musical style you can imagine: classical, jazz, children's songs, classical Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean...the list is endless. Now, before you wrinkle your nose up in disgust, hear me out. I actually dislike hiphop. A lot. It is my least favorite musical genre of all time. But what Chris does is unique. He removes all the vulgarity and ratchet-ness so prevalent in modern rap lyrics and replaces them with words that make you THINK. His beatboxing is on point. He plays dozens of different instruments! Everything about him is just unconventional and unexpected. Here's a couple videos for y'all to check out (one is above): ----------->-->

I presented my project today, too, but it wasn't nearly as interesting as Rory's. I did mine on the guzheng; a Chinese zither first used by members of the literati (upper class of scholars in China in Japan; they wrote beautiful calligraphy, painted, wrote poetry, and were able to afford not working on a farm). There were so many amazing presentations, and it was cool to know that there were so many talented people who lived and worked in MoCo (Montgomery County). Oooh! Even though I had a semi-boring report, here's what the guzheng looks like, and how it sounds being used on a modern piece:

Continuing on this school-related note, I am NOT playing around with finals this year! Last spring I thought I could breeze through everything, which resulted in God rooting some pride out of me...as well as knocking my GPA down a bit. I'm determined to get not a single grade lower than a B this semester; I'm hoping for all As in the spring. So, I actually printed out all of my professors final exam guides to use as study aids. I'm pulling out my highlighters, textbooks, index cards, notebooks, laptop, bookmarks, and loads of water and snacks. Vicente, one of the guys in my program, opened his house to us (Scholars), and so we'll be spending Friday-Sunday with each other just studying and prepping for Tuesday's and Thursday's exams. Pray that we can get through it without driving each other nuts!

No Schwarzenberg Tales today, but I do have a Schwarzism. Before Core started this morning, a few of us  were outside the classroom in the hallway. We were talking about studying, exams, etc. Out of nowhere, Matt says, "I might as well sit at my desk and wear a diaper all weekend; I have so much stuff to do." We  were all dying! He's one of the most quotable Scholars. Lol. I can do a post with pics from our study session tomorrow, and you can see what my classmates look like :-)

11 December 2012

Randomness: On Teaching Music + Country

I don't think that I ever divulged this in my earlier posts, but I am an avid music lover, play piano (since I was 9), and I teach piano as well. I taught my first student when I was 12, and have continued ever since. I love the Faber series for teaching beginning students, but I'm always on the prowl for other methods (with differing pedagogic approaches) to incorporate into lessons with all of my students. The following is a re-post from my CN blog when I was contemplating such things and just musing about music materials in general:

All I want for Christmas is money. I have so much to buy! I need textbooks for next semester, I'd like some new clothes/shoes and hair accessories, and I need to buy new books for my students! I'm adding 3-4 more bambinos to my roster next semester, which means more revenue for me, but also more responsibility in how well I prepare my lessons and selecting quality materials to use.

The Faber Piano Adventures series is my favorite, but it's also one of the pricier lines and it has lots of supplements. They recently updated the first 3-4 levels in the series to a newer edition that is an even better version of the first, so now there's teacher's guides (I've never used one to teach piano before; but I think it'd help me get new ideas and techniques), CDs, at least 6 repertoire books, sightreading, flash cards, assignment books, etc. It's slightly overwhelming to say the least.

Recently, I've experimented with different methods of music theory, as well. I tried Level A of the Alfred Basic Piano Library with one of my students, and it's not going well with the music alphabet. So I brought in good ol' trusty Faber to remedy the situation. She's doing fine now, so she just might be getting the second half of Faber next semester. One successful deviation from Faber has been the Hal Leonard series. I started one of my more vivacious students with it, and it teaches in a manner very similar to Faber. I especially like the multi-sensory way that it goes over the music alphabet (utilising a goodly number of learning modalities). She's on Level A, and graciously, it comes with a handy checklist in the front pages, and a CD in the back for listening. A great all-in-one method for beginning students.

One of my most challenging aspects has been deciding which series to use with which students. The success of a particular method of teaching can depend a lot on the student's personality. More math-y students do well with Alfred. Faber is great for anybody, and is strong on theory, sightreading, scales, chords (inversions, progressions...) and whatnot. Hal Leonard is likewise. Bastien is a stuck-in-the-70s version of Alfred. The pictures are distasteful and clownish looking. Ugh.

For every student, I've basically narrowed down what I do to select . I typically give 30 minute lessons, give 5-10 minutes depending on different variables. Within that time frame, it's not possible to use the lesson, theory, performance, and technique books. The attention span and distractability (yes I made that up  ) of 6 year olds just doesn't permit it. So, at minimum, I buy the lesson, theory and performance books for every student. The flashcards I hold off on until they learn some basic terminology (dynamics, note values, music alphabet, grand staff, etc.), and those are easily split apart since they're color coded. I may or may not do technique, depending on the student. The kiddos I have this semester all have very small hands, so I'll be adding in some technique next semester. Besides all that, I ask each child which type of repertoire book s/he wants. One boy wanted the rock 'n roll book because he said that he likes rocks lol. Little kids...

Ooh! I forgot to mention that Alfred actually also updated its entire series to become the Alfred Premier series. I'd like to invest in the complete kit and look it over, but that'd put me out $35 :-/ Maybe they have sample books...

So, there's a peek into my non-hair related life. I think I'll do more posts about music, actually. I love it, and teaching is becoming a bigger and bigger part of my life. Y'all don't mind, right? :-) I love sharing music with others.

I have another bit of non hair-related anecdotes. I shared this with one of my good friends (and fellow DMV curlies), Raven, from the CN forums. It brings me so much joy now:

Remember how I embarrassed myself with that cute camera guy last week (another story for another day)? Well, something similar happened yesterday when Matt (one of my friends from Scholars; we live 10 minutes away from each other and Julia [another D-mas resident], so we carpool a lot) was driving me home on Thursday. He likes country music and I'm not opposed to it, so we listened to it on the way back to the sticks of Damascus. As he turned onto this dark, winding road, there was a bit of a lull in our conversation, and suddenly (Seymour - Little Shop of Horrors, anybody? :-D ), a man's voice came from the speakers and began to melodically pine for the girl that he was sitting next to. Neither of us said anything, but in my head I was like o_O Then, right after that song, another one came on about a man driving some girl home, and how his eyes were on the road but his mind was on her body. Matt and I both have long arms, and we both happened to have had our elbows on the arm rest in the center. I froze, unsure as to whether it would be more awkward to keep my arm against his or quickly bring it back to my side. Hardly had I time to contemplate this decision, when yet another ditty played, sung by some whiny woman wanting her boyfriend back. The level of awkwardness (in my mind, at least) went from a 10 to a 99.999 (on a scale of 1-5). We did start talking by the third song, but I could still hear the lyrics o_O

SN: So many funny things happen with Matt that I've decided to give him a special spot in my blog: Schwarzenberg Tales! I'll likely have installments every week :-D

And there you have it...a glance into my mundane life. More musings to come if y'all don't mind! :-D

10 December 2012

Pantene/Silicone RANT!! + Facial Hair Woes

I'm so angry right now. It may not come through in my calm, pleasant-looking typed words, but I'm ready to cuss and spit! I posted yesterday about my Pantene fiasco. Well, I baggyed my twist bun overnight like usual, and it looked fine...until I stepped outside. I live in Maryland, so the weather here is iffy at best. Yesterday was a pleasant 55 degrees, and today is dreary and grey and wet all round. Blech. Now normally, my hair is fine in the humidity and rain. The section that was covered with the Darcy's Botanicals leave in looks shiny and isn't frizzing up much. But the rest of my hair?! It looks dusty and dry like the Sahara, feels matted and hard and crunchy, and is just an all around NASTY MESS. Uggh! I'm ashamed to be a natural today. That's how bad it is. I mean, just look at it:

Can you shudder with me? Please? This frizz is ridiculous. The one twist I did with my DB looks BOMB; it's shiny and frizz free. I did have gel on it, rinse it, and then added some Pantene, but still. I'm hot. Silicones didn't used to treat my hair like this. Neither has Pantene; I've used the Pantene Curly Moisture Renewal conditioner multiple times before, and my hair looked fine before. My hair has NEVER looked this dry! Not even after I BCed! And definitely not after baggying. I'm just disgusted. I will be CG for life if this is how my hair is going to react to silicones now #ain'tnobodygottimeforthat. Here's the one twist that actually looked presentable. It's the bottom one...

On top of all of that, my scalp is itching like crazy in the spots that I have Pantene in! I'm like da heck is this? Mayhaps I just developed an allergy to it or something. Either way, I'm upset. Way more than I was yesterday. Ugh.

To compare that frizzy mess in the front with what my hair usually looks like, look at this little back section (that refuses to go into twists, mind you) that I detangled and left DB in, sealed with grapeseed oil, and added some gel. This is after being rubbed around on my coat collar and being out in the same amount of rain as the rest of my hair. Just lookit. It looks a little cray, but I'll pin it up...eventually...

Anywho, in other news...the amount of men with burgeoning beards lately is just sinful. Here's a bit of a Shakespearean-esque prose I wrote about it while on campus today:

*le sigh*
O, men of the College of Montgomery! O, O, O! 
Why dost thou insist on insulting the good people by permitting those evil wires to sprout from thine chin? 
Verily, I say unto thee, you do disgrace the eyes of even the most virtuous of women in thy presence. 
Be gone, whiskers from the bowels of Hades! Be gone!

Yes, I am a little on the crazy side. I get it from my Nana's side of the family :-D

Stash Haul #3: Conditioners/Detanglers

Buenos dias, chicas (y chicos) rizadas!

In this third installment, we move along to one of my potentially favorite parts of my regimen: conditioning and detangling. Depending on the product used and your technique, this aspect of your regimen can either be heaven or hell. I choose the products for this part scrupulously, since a little will inadvertently be left in. That being said, I tend not to use products with salts (sodium chloride, potassium chloride, etc.) or short-chain alcohols in their formulas for this step. However, if I like the product enough, I will add a lot of oils to it to counteract the drying alcohols (hey, it works in my head, right?). I haven't ever really had issues with this part of my regimen. I just need a conditioner with plenty of slip for this step. Before CG, the Herbal Essences Honey, I'm Strong Conditioner was my ISH for detangling. I had to rinse it totally out because of the sodium hydroxide, but honey boo boo chile - that detangling ability was like none other! Even Suave Almond + Shea Butter didn't compare! But, sadly, that conditioner is not CG *sniffles*

Buuutt, thankfully, I can still use products from my abosulute most favorite hair product company in the entire world - TRESemme! For a year now, I'd been hearing curly girls everywhere sing the praises of TRESemme Naturals. I was skeptical, but I found a bottle of the Nourishing Moisture variety at Wal Mart and decided to try it. Oh. My. Word. It is no HE HIS, but for a non-silicone conditioner, it is amazing! I could easily detangle my sections with my Denman, and even finger detangle (another long story lol). It is my HG conditioner and detangler, and I don't see that changing any time soon! My only problem with TN is difference in the old and new formulas of the Nourishing Moisture Conditioner. I first tried the new one, but when I went to the Rite Aid in Essex and bought more, I didn't realise that it was the old formula. I think I can tell the difference between the two, though. The old formula bottles say "NEW" above "Silicone-Free Conditioning," but the new formula bottles don't, which makes sense. So, since I have the old formulas, I had to add a lot of oils to my bottles. I added EVOO to the old Nourishing Moisture conditioners, and grapeseed oil to the Radiant Volume conditioners. Then, today, I added a capful of canola oil and sesame oil into one of my Nourishing Moisture condishes.

Besides those, I also purchased two great conditioners from Safeway last month: Yes to Cucumbers Color Protection Conditioner and Nature's Gate Aloe Vera Moisturising Conditioner. I don't think that the Nature's Gate condish will be a good detangler, but I'm eager to try the Y2C condish

After cleansing my scalp, I slather globs of a rinse out conditioner into my twists and finish up the rest of my shower. Once I get dressed, I take down one twist at a time, divide each twist into halves, and then detangle each half. Then I rinse out most of the condish, apply my leave in mixture, seal with an oil, and style.

What's your conditioning/detangling regimen?

Stash Haul #2: Cleansers + MC Essentials Kit Giveaway!!

Buon pomeriggio, bellas!

I'll start off with the best stuff first :-D MahoganyCurls, one of my favorite CG YouTubers, is having an Essentials Kit giveaway! It's sponsored by MahoganyChic, a fashion and beauty blogger. Entering is super easy, and there will be 3 winners! The contents of the Kit include:

1. As I Am Coconut Cowash
2. TRESemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner
3. Eco Styler Gel
4. Paul Mitchell The Conditioner

What more can I say? It's free products being offered! And, this is an international giveaway, so curlies in other countries could also win the package. What are y'all waiting for? Head over to YT land and tell Jess that you want that Kit!

Alrighty, now on to my stash haul! Yesterday, I went into deets about my DCs, which is the first step in my regimen. Today is the all-important cleanser! Before I go into detail about my stash and what I use, let me give a bit of background:

Cleansing has been one of the most difficult things for me to get a handle on. I'll think that I have a good cleansing method, only to find out a bit later that it's not working as well as it could, and my hair is suffering for it. I have tried shampooing, cowashing, ACV rinses, just water and fingers, bentonite clay washes, Terressentials mud wash...on and on and on. None were sufficient. I liked the way that shampoo cleansed my scalp, but many times it stripped my hair unless I piled on the DCs beforehand. Cowashing on its own left too much buildup on my scalp, making it itchy and flake frequently. And it didn't get the product off of my hair. ACV rinses were good, but I like my cleansers to be thicker. The water and friction mess...*crickets*

Bentonite clay worked well for a while, and I was singing its praises - until it started to get stuck at my roots and wouldn't rinse out. I was horrified and disgusted. Ugh. Terressentials (I ordered the Fragrance Free wash) was great for my hair and cleansed everything, but the skin on my neck, face and shoulders were irritated beyond belief. I think it might have been the nettle *le sigh* I wanted so badly to like it, too. But a no-go it was.

I was desperate for a solution! I felt beyond the realm of help; everybody else seemed to do well with all of the aforementioned cleansing options. But, one day, while browsing Naya's blog on CN, she noted that she was going to try making her own shampoo with aloe vera gel. I forgot about it, until I dreaded my next washed day and her comment popped into my head. I decided to mix my own concoction for a cleansing conditioner with this recipe:

2 tbsp conditioner (something thin and watery like VO5)
2 tbsp aloe vera juice

I mixed them together in a nifty little travel sized bottle I had in my room, shook it up, and then decided that I wanted it to be a bit more clarifying. So I took about a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and added it to the bottle. Since AVJ has to be kept cold, I stuck my little mix in the fridge overnight while I DCed. In the morning, I let my hair cool down, rinsed my DC, and then applied this mix to my scalp to see if it would work. Oh. My. Gosh. Never have I ever had such a thorough, moisturising cleanse! I think the AVJ is a big part of why my scalp was so clean. But, the conditioner also kept my hair moisturised. Not a trace of product, dirt, or gunk, but my curls were moisturised and not stripped of their natural oils. Finally, a cleanser that worked for MY hair! I'm beginning to experiment with adding shampoos instead of ACV, adding both, and whatnot.

This cleanser has been the one thing that I do not (and will not) change in my regimen! The conditioner I use may on occasion, but this has been a cleansing revelation for my curly hair. I love having the best of both worlds! I keep my hair in twists for this step (as I do with most of my regimen). I squeeze the mix onto my scalp and around the base of my twists, and use the pads of my fingers to really scrub my scalp to help get rid of product buildup, dirt, etc. I focus especially in the crown area of my scalp, because it's a more sensitive area, and seems to get dirty rather quickly. If I have any of it left over after my scalp is taken care of, I can run it over the length of my twists. I rinse thoroughly (about 5-6 minutes) with warm water, but I don't unravel any twists while rinsing. I do lift up each individual twist, and make sure that I run the water through the base of each one, scrubbing all the while.

That being said, I really only like to use one conditioner for this for some reason. It's the VO5 Tea Therapy Calming Chamomile Tea Nourishing Conditioner. There's nothing super special about it, but I just don't want to use any other conditioner for this mix lol. The only problem is that this type happens to be one of the least common VO5 conditioners I see sold. *le sigh* So, two other conditioners that could potentially work well with this are shown above: Spa Haus Salon Conditioner (dollar store buy) and VO5 Repair & Protect Strengthening Conditioner. I don't want to use conditioners with dyes in them for this step, because of how much it's being scrubbed into my scalp, and I have sensitive skin.

So, that's my cleansing sob story, stash, and deets...and photos - finally!

What do you use to cleanse your scalp and hair, curlies? Have you ever had a cleansing fiasco?

09 December 2012

Stash Haul #1: DCs + Blogger Shoutout

Shout out to Valerie of Curls2Envy for featuring me on her blog!  It was so fun putting all that together, and I really appreciate her blog and for letting me be a guest for the day :-)

So, I've decided to do a bit of a stash haul. I always feel like I have so many products, and then when I compare what I have to the serious PJs...I have nothing lol. At any rate, I love doing inventories, so here's a bit of a peek into my hair box :-D First up, the all important DC (deep conditioner). This can make or break your regimen. Whether comprised of yummy produce found in your kitchen (avocados and whatnot), or with a myriad of conditioners in your arsenal, this all important deep moisturising treatment adds much needed moisture to your hair strands. Especially during the colder, drier months of autumn and winter, moisturising treatments help to replenish the moisture that your hair has lost being exposed to the dry air and elements in it; keeping your hair bouncy, shiny and healthy.

I'm not very picky when it comes to doing DCs. I do them on damp dirty hair, and leave mine on overnight, so I just prefer products that won't irritate my skin in that amount of time. I've used lots of different products, from ones marketed for deep treatments, to regular conditioners cocktailed with additional ingredients, to vegetables I find and puree. The possibilities are endless!

Side note: If you have fine strands of hair, you'll want to incorporate light proteins into your deep moisture treatments. This will ensure that we finely stranded curlies don't neglect the building block of our hair whilst also restoring high levels of moisture. If you're purchasing a DC/DT, look for ones with hydrolysed proteins: keratin, collagen, silk amino acids, silk protein, wheat protein, gelatin, coconut oil, etc. If you're a mixtress, add some mayo (for overnighters), eggs (for those of you who like to only leave a DT in for a few hours), or coconut oil.

Okay, so, finally, here are the DCs I have! Heh heh heh. My cocktailed concoctions go first:

VO5 Silky Experiences Shea Cashmere Moisturising Conditioner + Nuance Raw Honey Color Protect Conditioner + Taliah Wajid The Great Detangler + Nubian Heritage EVOO & Moringa Treatment Masque + EVOO + EVCO + GSO + honey

There are waay too many ingredients to list! Lol. This is obviously a cocktailed DC - one of my favorite types to use. I haven't yet utilised it, since I was trying to be strict CG. I may try it next week, though. No harm in splurging a bit...

Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut Conditioner + Nubian Heritage EVOO & Moringa Treatment Masque + VO5 Pomegranate & Grapeseed Extract Strengthening Conditioner + EVOO + EVCO + GSO + honey

Again...crazy long list of ingredients because this is a cocktailed treatment. But, I tried this on my hair last night. It was just okay. I was so wary to use it because Suave Naturals has potassium chloride in it (a salt), and as high as it is on the list, I was loathe to try it on my curls. I did it anyway though. My hair felt kind of weird. I don't think I'll be trying that again lol...

Suave Naturals Juicy Green Apple Conditioner+ Nubian Heritage EVOO & Moringa Treatment Masque + VO5 Pomegranate & Grapeseed Extract Strengthening Conditioner + EVOO + EVCO + GSO + honey

Okay, again with the ridiculously long lists. This is the only downside to cocktailing so many products. If I take 1/2 cup of this, add 2 pureed avocados, 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, and more honey, EVOO, EVCO and GSO, this would probably be a great DC.

And now, my homemade DCs: 

Avocado Masque
2 pureed overripe avocados
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. EVOO
1/8 vegetable oil
1/4 c. mayonnaise

This is one of my absolute most favorite DCs! Even more so than my cocktailed concoctions. It's uber moisturising, and the mayo adds some protein. I might add some EVCO the next time for even more protein the next time. Side note: This mix can be runny, so be prepared! I keep my twists away from my forehead, and cover it with a plastic bag and my shower cap to keep the oils from running into my eyes (and me from running into the bathroom screaming in pain). It rinses easily, which I love.

Banana Masque
1 pureed overripe banana
1 pureed overripe avocado (optional)
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. EVOO
1/8 vegetable oil
1/4 c. mayonnaise

This is another super rich homemade DC. I absolutely abhor the smell of bananas, so I like to add that avocado in to keep the smell away for the most part. It's optional, but with my mental banana allergy, I can't be too careful ;-D

Also, taking either of those above homemade recipes and adding your favorite DC to it is another great option. Taking any conditioner and adding oils and honey can turn it into a miracle-working deep treatment :-)

Goodness, that was a long post lol.

So, curlies, what are your favorite DCs or DC recipes? What's your typical DC approach? Is it necessary for you? How often do you do it?

08 December 2012

Semester's End + Swap Haul + New Regimen

Ciao, bellas!

This semester has been craaaazy beyond belief. Finals week is quickly approaching (*gulps*), and I have so many things to read and study beforehand. I'm trying to get all As this semester, so I really need to slam into the books as hard as I can. Ooh, kind of random: The best thing about this semester has been the Bible study that some other believers started on the Germantown campus. It's really nice to go there and fellowship and talk about God's Word and pray with other Christians after a long day of being surrounded by insanity and profanity. It's so refreshing for my spirit, and I always leave feeling energised.

I don't know if I ever told y'all, but on the CN forums, I purchased some products from another curly, Breezie24, on the swap boards. Here's what I purchased from her:

Carol's Daughter Healthy Hair Butter
Carol's Daugher Tui Moisturising Leave-In Conditioner
Oyin Handmade Juices & Berries
Darcy's Botanicals Vanilla Delight Leave-In Conditioner
Curls Curl Creme Brulee
Taliah Wajid The Great Detangler

All for $43, which is pretty good, considering the lines I purchased. First off, Breezie was great to work with; everything came taped down, in great condition, and quickly. It was a pleasure ordering from her, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat :-) Second, why the heck didn't anybody tell me how NASTY that CD butter smelled?! I almost vomited when I sniffed it! My sister, who usually likes fragrances that I don't like, wrinkled her nose at it. And my brother, who is just crazy, said that it smelled like our baby cousin's diapers o_O I haven't used it and don't plan to. I just need to figure out something to do with it other than throw it out. Ugh. More on the other products in my stash post :D

I've figured something out about myself: I cannot, for the life of me, stick to one set regimen for months at a time. My techniques (styling, detangling and whatnot), yes, but products? Forget about it! I'll use something for 3 weeks, and then I move on to something else because I get bored. I like the idea of having one regimen with one way of doing things, but I can never actually do it. There are so many ways to do things, different ways to use the same product, and ways to mix things up (literally) that I never get around to sticking to anything. I'm not ashamed of it, but it's just something interesting that I've noticed about myself. At any rate, I washed my hair today. Here's what I did:

1. DCed hair last night in 4 sections (Suave Naturals Tropical Coconut + Nubian Heritage EVOO & Moringa Repair & Extend Treatment Masque + honey + EVOO + EVCO + GSO + VO5 Pomegranate & Grapeseed Extract Strengthening Conditioner).

2. Cleansed scalp with my creamy chamomile conditioning cleanser (I added about 3/4-1 tbsp of my sulphate poo; it increased the cleansing power x 10, but it was still conditioning, and it didn't foam up like shampoo).

3. Conditioned hair with TRESemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner (the old formula; it smells like nail polish remover, and I HATE it! I need to stop by Weis and get the new formula kind).

4. Detangled one section with Darcy's Botanicals Vanilla Delight Leave-In Conditioner; tried adding gel, rinsed, and added Pantene Curly Moisture Renewal Conditioner instead; sealed with GSO.

5. Finished rest of hair with Pantene Curly, sealed with GSO, and put hair into 8 big twists, and pulled them back into a little bun.

So, contrary to my palm test, the DB doesn't mix well with my HG gel :-( I was so disappointed. It balled the conditioner up in my hair, so I quickly used the remaining portions of my cleanser to wash it out. And, let me say, that the Pantene Curly was another FAIL. I haven't been doing CG for very long, and still, my hair is just rejecting any and all silicones. I'm so sad *sniffles* I didn't feel like doing my hair during the week, so into 8 chunky twists it went, and I was able to snatch them all up into a little bun thing. No maintenance during the week, at least! This will probably be my finals style, too lol.

OAN: Forgive the image-less state of my blog. My phone is acting a fool and won't send the pics; my camera is void of both batteries and a memory card. Foo. I shall provide images, shortly, though, my fellow curlies! I know how boring this must be without images...

21 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! :-)

My old posts continue! I have to break everything up with my modern stuff though. The most obvious thing is...Thanksgiving is tomorrow! This one is more difficult for me for obvious reasons, but I'm still looking forward to enjoying dinner with the fam and thanking God for the many blessings He has showered upon us. Here are just a few of the things I'm thankful for:

* Most of my family is still together.
* My baby cousin, Delonte! We were blessed with him before God called my Nana home to be with Him.
* Salvation.
* Amazing friends :)
* A great church
* The semester is almost over :D

...there are so many more things, but those are just the beginning.

Y'all know how much I love food, so I have to give you the Turkey day menu. Tomorrow, we'll have:

Fried chicken
Garden salad
Green beans
Kale (or collards) with turkey neck
Mashed potatoes
Mashed turnips
Cranberry sauce
Sweet potatoes
Apple pie
Cherry pie
Red Velvet cake
Lemon pound cake
Vanilla ice cream

My family does Skiaki too with a few other families that we know, so on Saturday, this is what we'll be munching:

Miso soup
Dim sum (dumplings; pretty sure I have either the Cantonese or wrong Romanisation lol)
Chicken fried rice
Pork fried rice
Shrimp fried rice
Lo mein
Another dish whose name I cannot remember
Pound cake
Lemon squares
Mint chocolate chip cookies
Chocolate mousse pie

It's not all Japanese, but it all tastes good! :D

Hair wise, I currently have my two strand twists up in a little puff thing with a curly twist on a Kpop bang in the front (I'll have to find a pic to post). I'm still trying to decide how to wear my hair for Thanksgiving tomorrow. I'm thinking of untwisting my ends and pinning them outwards to make a bun. Or, I could do a twist out. I'm leaning towards a bun, because I hate the feeling of cold air on my loose hair. Hmm...

So, curly girls, what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? What does your Thanksgiving menu look like? What are you doing with your 'do for Turkey Day?

18 November 2012

Vintage Posts from the CN Forums - Part 5

So, after my failed mini twists attempt, I put in regular, chunky twists, and did a TO for a few days. I wanted to change up my look for orientation today, so I shampooed with TRESemme Climate Control Shampoo, and conditioned with Herbal Essences Honey, I'm Strong Conditioner. I let my hair (which was in 7 twists) dry slightly while I got dressed. For each section, I untwisted it, lightly finger combed it, took about a quarter sized dollop of Fresh Elements Captivatin' Color Mixed Berry & Silk Conditioner and fingered it through for several minutes. I tried to define my curls as much as possible, which was easier in the back than in the front. Then I took 2 pumps of John Freida Frizz Ease Extra Strength Formula Hair Serum and fingered it through the section as well, trying not to disturb the curl definition I'd already achieved. Then I took the front section and pinned it back. My hair looked pretty good for my first time doing a wash and go, methinks. My curls were shiny, and only shrunk 1-2 inches. They still looked shiny after I left orientation (more than 5 hours later). I think I might try pineappling or twisting tonight and see what I get tomorrow morning. Here's hoping!

I finally bought my school supplies today! Binders, NoteTabs, contact paper, spiral bound notebooks - it all smells wonderful! I've spent the past 3 hours prepping my books, and I'm still not done! But I should be in be by 22:15 or earlier. Meh -_-

Nothing much going on hair wise. Oh! But I did get to Amazon and buy a 1 lb jar of bentonite clay (the Aztec Healing Clay), Bragg's Raw Unfiltered ACV (just because the clay is supposed to be mixed with raw ACV...and it was $2.28 for 16 oz), and Nature's Way Organic coconut oil. It's supposed to be here by 12 September. I'll be washing on Friday or Saturday; I'll update then! 

oh! My wash day regimen for yesterday! Me olvide, lo siento! 

I did a quick (5-7 minute) pre poo with VO5 Extra Body Volumizing Conditioner with Collagen. It gave me some swing and helped stretch out my length, so that was good. But, it smelled and felt like a shampoo. It was weird. Next, I shampooed with TRESemme Climate Control Shampoo. This time I diluted about 1 oz of it with 2 oz of water. It pretty much felt the same as using it full strength, but I felt better about spreading it further down my hair shaft. I conditioned with my new favorite rinse out, Herbal Essences Honey, I'm Strong and rinsed it out with cold water to close my cuticles. I stepped out of the shower and had no frizz. I didn't feel like doing much to my hair, so I just pumped out my TRESemme Smooth Salon Silk No Frizz Serum into my hands and lightly spread it over my hair (so as not to disturb the curls), and then pumped more of it directly into my hair. It rained cats and dogs yesterday (and I got soaked), and my hair still looked great! I'm thinking that this would be a good summer routine...when I'm more able to just do whatever. I rinsed my hair, conditioned with more HE, and added more serum to my hair before I went to church this morning. My curls were popping (and still are)! Now I actually have to think of a protective style to wear this week. Ugh.  

Vintage Posts from the CN Forums - Part 4

I've decided that I just can't take it! I can't finish these mini twists! Maybe when my hair is longer, I have more patience....I don't know. But this just isn't the business! I'm going to take out my twists, do something to my hair for the night, and will likely co-wash (my first in a loong time) with Herbal Essences Honey, I'm Strong, clarify with ACV, and then detangle and twist with the Nubian Heritage EVOO & Moringa. Back to my good old 2 strand twists! *sighs with relief*

I just finished trimming a few of the ends in the front that were raggedy from my BC (I used blunt scissors to BC *hangs head in shame*), and they're finally curling the right way!

And, like I posted in the random thoughts thread, I'm thinking of making Nubian Heritage my fall/winter line because of all the oils (and how much mi pelo loves them ), and doing TRESemme, Aussie, and heavy silicones during the spring/summer because of the humidity. Hmm. Still thinking about it. But I might do it.

I'm ready to give my first impressions of my Herbal Essences conditioner! Last night, I took out all the mini twists (sprayed with water, slathered with TRESemme Vitamin E Moisture Rich conditioner, and gently untwisted each one) and deep conditioned on dirty hair with TRESemme Moisture Rich Conditioner. I just got out of the shower, and I cleansed my scalp with Creme of Nature Sunflower & Coconut Detangling & Conditioning Shampoo. I don't think I've ever posted the ingredients for this shampoo, so here they are:
Aqua (Water, Eau), Sodium Laureth Sulfate [more gentle than sodium lauryl sulfate], Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Polyquaternium-7, Glycol Stearate, Polyquaternium-10, Cocamide DEA, Amodimethicone, Polysorbate 20, Isotearyl Ethylimidazoliniumethosulfate, Citric Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Helianthus Annus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Oil, Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Extract, Polygala Senega Root Extract, Nasturtium Officinale (Watercress) Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Parfum (Fragrance), Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, CI 14700 (Red 4), CI 19140 (Yellow 5), CI 17200 (Red 33), CI 42090 (Blue 1). 

It's chock full of stuff! But I didn't realize that it had parabens in it. Meh. Anywho, this is the least drying shampoo I've used before. But, because of the peppermint, basil, sage, rosemary and thyme, my scalp gets irritated. And now the parabens have surfaced. TRESemme has much less ingredients, no parabens, no dyes, minimal fragrance, and my scalp doesn't tingle after washing and it's much cleaner (I'm finding more white gunk on my scalp after using CON ). So maybe Creme of Nature is out for me now. Anyway, this is a pretty great shampoo! If you like more natural ingredients in your shampoos and don't mind sodium laureth sulfate and amodimethicone, and your skin doesn't easily react to herbal extracts, this would be great. 

After rinsing that out, I undid each twist and slathered a generous amount of Herbal Essences Honey, I'm Strong Strengthening Conditioner into each twist, and then twisted back up. I lathered up the rest of my body, rinsed off the soap, and then used cool/cold water to untwist and lightly finger detangle. Oh. My. Goodness. I squeezed this stuff out, and it was a light yellow/orange shade, which I thought was cool. It was thick, but not as creamy as other HE conditioners - because of the honey, I assume. When I finger detangled in the shower, I was amazed at the slip! And I didn't lose as many fine hairs as I usually do. I'm really liking this conditioner right now! Here are the ingredients, in case you're interested:

Water/Eau, Stearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Cetyl Alcohol, Bis-Aminopropyl Dimethicone, Honey/Miel, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Fruit Extract, Fragrance/Parfum, Benzyl Alcohol, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Blue 1, Yellow 5, Red 33

I love, love, love, love this conditioner! Herbal Essences did a GREAT job! I think VO5 has finally been kicked out of conditioner status! Hello, HE! I have coupons for $3 off 2 bottles of Aussie or HE products too, so that will be put to very good use  I'm about to finger detangle with my Nubian Heritage EVOO & Moringa leave in conditioner. I'll report back later! 

I detangled my entire head with the Nubian Heritage leave in conditioner, and it went pretty easily. My "do not pass go" area in the back was still pretty stubborn. But all of my twists look super shiny and moisturised. I've baggied for the past couple nights, so my twists look nice and juicy. That's it for today so far :)

Vintage Posts from the CN Forums - Part 3

Hair Regimen Update
I finally started my mini twists today! My hair looked so shiny and defined after taking out the twists this morning, I considered doing a twist out. But, I need this protective style, so I stuck to my plan.
Whoever said that Naptural85 makes mini twists look easy was right! I watched her mini twists tutorial at least 5 times before I started to make sure I did everything correctly. But I didn't have a wide tooth comb (my sister lost both of them -_-) or flaxseed gel. And my hair wasn't as strechted as hers is in the video, so my twists look kind of weird. I did make even rows, though! But my parts are strange, and the sides of the twists end up uneven, so I trimmed a few ends (first time scissors have touched non-SSKs since my BC!) to make them match up. And even though I'm twisting tight enough on most of them, the twists look nothing like hers. Maybe I'm making them too small or too big? Ugh. It's a good thing I decided to do practice twists this week. I doubt these twists will last more than 3 weeks, but I'll try again and do it better the next time. Ooh! I'll write which products I used for this (including my pre-installation) below:

Pompeian Grapeseed Oil (pre-poo)
TRESemme Climate Control Shampoo (poo)
VO5 Moisture Milks Strawberries & Cream with Soy Milk Protein/Herbal Escapes Anti-Oxidant Rich Pomegrante & Grapeseed (conditioner)
TRESemme Vitamin H & Silk Protein Smooth & Silky/Vitamin E Moisture Rich, Pompeian Grapeseed Oil (DC)
ACV:H2O (2:1 ratio; scalp clarifier)
Spectrum USDA Certified Organic Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil (leave in)

Fresh Elements Captivatin' Color conditioner (leave in, detangler)
Fantasia IC Polisher Gel (hold)
Fantasia Olive Moisturizing Shine Serum (moisture)

I don't like the Fantasia serum much, but the gel left my hair so dry that I had to do something. But I noticed that the twists without the serum are holding up much better than the ones with it. Hmm. Guess I'll leave the serum out.

Randomness: I started listening to some Kpop on my iTunes account, and it didn't click in my mind that the song was in Korean until the song ended. I thought it was in English! *shakes head* This has happened to me a few other times too, and it's so bizarre. I don't know Korean! I've got a weird brain.

Mi pelo
I went to a birthday party today, so I pulled the back section of my hair into a puff, and pinned the front sections back. I've kind of got a little pompadour thingy going on in the front. It'll hopefully make my hair stretch a bit more; I was so sick of it curling while I tried to twist yesterday! I may or may not work on my twists more tonight; I need to sleep and get up for church tomorrow morning.

I ended up not doing any more mini twists last night, but I did some today after church. The going is VERY slow; I'm just finishing up the section on the left side of my head! But I'm trying to make sure I do them right. As painstakingly as I'm doing these twists though, most of them don't look right. Even if I take 5 minutes to tightly twist, they start to unravel the second I let them go *frustrated sigh* And I keep catching little stray hairs in the twists, end up twisting them in, and then have a painful time trying to pin the twists back because they're attached to 1 or 2 thin hairs at the front of my head. 
Also, I wasn't liking the way the Fresh Elements conditioner was working with the Fantasia gel. It's like my hair was too moisturised and slippery (darned dimethicone!  ) and it messed up the twists. 

Soo, I got the money from my babysitting paycheck (money!! Finally!) and hit Target today after church. I spent more than 20 minutes bouncing between the Salon Hair Care aisle (cried over the prices there), the "normal" hair care stuff (lamented over the sodium hydroxide and drying alcohols), and the Ethnic Hair Care aisle (boohooed over the prices and tiny sizes of bottles, and looked skeptically at the "all natural" ingredients). I looked at Shea Moisture, Jane Carter, Cantu, Motions, Creme of Nature, Nubian Heritage (side note: Raven, you were totally right about the Nubian Heritage heat line! I didn't expect to see such high amounts of keratin in the shampoo and conditioner [usually when products claim to have protein, it's 10th on the list and won't do much]! Not to mention the label color was gorgeous  I'll have to try that sometime!), Mixed Chicks, Curls, Curly Qs, Hair Rules, Fekkai, Rusk....on and on and on. I wanted to cry! All I was looking for was a leave in that had shea butter in it (I would use Shea Moisture's Curl Enhancing Smoothie, but it has ammonium salts in it. As little as is in there and as much as that drying effect is likely "cancelled out" by the super moisturising ingredients, I'm not a huge fan of salts in my leave ins) but that wasn't out of my price range. Every "ethnic" product claimed to be natural, but when I checked the ingredients label, all I saw was sulfates, silicones, alcohols (fatty or otherwise), and everything I could find in a bottle of Aussie Moist -_- But, thanks be to God, I finally found something!! It's from the Nubian Heritage line, and I really like it so far! It is *trumpets blare*

EVOO & Moringa Repair & Extend Detangling Leave-In Conditioner with Quinoa, Fennel & Henna

I didn't expect too good of a detangling job but this product has surprised me. I can easily finger detangle a handful of damp hair with a nickel sized amount of this conditioner. There's lots of EVOO, shea butter, coconut oil, mango butter and avocado oil in this! I love it. It's the first "mostly natural" product that has ingredients that I like and works well for my hair. It was only an 8 oz bottle for $11.99 (), but I think it'll last me for a while because much isn't needed for detangling. And, I tried this on my hair while putting in more twists, and it worked like a dream! It's cooperating with the gel much better than Fresh Elements. I'm very happy with this product so far 

I bought another conditioner, too! It's a relatively new line from Herbal Essences. It's called: Honey, I'm Strong and it's supposed to be strengthening. I know that honey is a humectant, but I don't understand how it strengthens. Moisture = Strength? Not in the curly world, at least. I bought it just to try it out (it was on sale! 23.7 oz for only $4.99!), and I LOVE the smell. That's no small feat, seeing as how I detest the smell of most of Herbal Essences' conditioners. It does have sodium hydroxide in it, which, again, I don't like having in my leave ins. So I'll use it as a rinse out. I'm excited to see how it works!

Anywho, I'm still very frustrated with this whole mini twists situation. I'm not giving up yet; I want to try it at least 1 more time before throwing in the towel and calling it quits (I really don't want to try it again, but I'm determined to finish at least this set of twists). But, if it doesn't work out, I can always go back to regular 2 strand twists. Those are plumper (you can include more hair), easier, quicker to do, and my hair suffers no breakage from putting those in. I'll probably twist for 2-3+ hours tomorrow, and update on how that goes.

Any experienced mini twisters here? What do you do to make twisting easier? How do you know that you're twisting the right amount of hair?