Retro Inspiration: Music

I love fashion.  I think we know this by now.  I find inspiration for my style of dress in many places.  The obvious ones are fashion magazines and blog sites.  I also find inspiration when I do my YouTube searches for live recordings of my favorite artists.  It just so happens that a lot of them were making music way before I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye.  Some were making music way before my mother was twinkle in anybody’s eye.  Either way, my greatest source of retro inspiration is the music itself and what the artists wore.

This video posted on YouTube showcases Tina Turner in a look that I love.  Enjoy!

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The Rare Recipe: Gluten-free Strawberry Muffins

I know that I normally use this space for something different, but I can rationalize that health, hair, and beauty go hand in hand. I have been baking the last couple of weeks in order to send my son to school with healthier snacks. I need a low-cost option that would allow me to toss something into his lunch box quickly and get out the house. I also wanted an option that would satisfy him until dinner time. I haven’t jumped on the gluten-free train. I have always liked to eat with some kind of balance and I want to cut back on wheat and vary our protein sources.

I came up with this recipe, starting with making banana muffins. This week I tweaked the recipe a bit using strawberry and gluten-free flours; I (my son, actually) am very happy with the results.

Apparently, because I have used brown rice and chick pea flours, the muffins count as a complete protein and they should be more satisfying to my son for a longer period of time.

Before jumping into making the muffins, take about a pound of strawberries (or fruit of choice), chop them up, throw in a bowl with a few tablespoons of sugar (based on desired sweetness), toss together and allow to sit. Every so often stir and mash. This step can be done ahead of time and put in the freezer. It’s a good way to be less wasteful when fruit is a little past it’s “pretty” phase. (Think of those brown bananas a week after purchase.)

These muffins will bake up best between 350 and 375 F. Preheat and load up the muffin pan with baking cups.

In a bowl, mix 3/4 cup chick pea flour, 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup oat flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, pinch of salt.

In another bowl, mix two eggs, 1/2 stick butter, 1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream (yogurt or sour cream can replace the butter altogether, but I haven’t tried it myself except for with cookies and cakes), 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. I have heard of people adding spices to muffins, that is up to you. Nutmeg, cinnamon, or cardamom tend to lift flavors of some fruits.

It’s a workout, but slowly incorporate the dry mixture into the wet mixture. If it starts to get tough, start adding the fruit. The batter should be thick, but still pourable. These are gluten-free flours so it is okay (and probably beneficial) to mix extensively. People who deal with brown rice flour tend to recommend allowing the batter to sit for 15-30 minutes in the fridge, but I didn’t do that. Pour into the muffin tin to just below the top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. The muffin will be very brown due to the nature of the flours. I look for the muffin to be springy, not hard.

These turned out light and really moist with a touch of sweetness. My son was very happy with them.

If you want to make exchanges for different flours, I would do a little research first. Different flours retain moisture differently, are impacted by mixing differently, or have different textures and flavors.

I’m trying to get in the habit of eating breakfast on weekdays, and I totally see them as a grab-and-go option.

Long Hair Don’t Care…Until You Clog the Drain

I have long hair.  I do a lot of hair management in the shower:  rinsing, co-washing, washing, conditioning.  Hair and product builds up pretty easily when you have long hair.  Imagine those hundred or so hairs that are shed daily going down the drain in tangles mixed in with oils, conditioners, and creams.  It’s not a pretty picture, but it’s a fact of life for someone with a certain hair care regime. 

Thankfully, for me, my plumber teaches me a lot about the light tasks that he often gets called (and paid) for.  I know how to free up a seized garbage disposal and change a toilet flapper.  When he was called to clear out a slow draining bath tub, he showed me the 5 minute fix that would save hundreds of dollars in labor and parts costs. 

               You need:

  • dish liquid
  • plunger (the simple rubber kind you remember from your childhood, $5-10)

The key point he made is this:  it’s the upward pull, NOT the downward push that frees up clogs.  He said that most people put in too much work by trying to push down really hard and passively allowing the plunger to return to the extended position.  PULL UP AS HARD AS YOU PUSH DOWN. 

               Here is his normal routine:

  1. Run a little water into the tub/shower
  2. Pour some dish liquid down the drain.  A teaspoon or so should suffice.
  3. With rapid motion, use the plunger to work the dish liquid into the drain
  4. With more force and slower motions, push and pull with the plunger.  Remember:  PULL UP AS HARD AS YOU PUSH DOWN.
  5. You should start to see a lot of disgusting guck and grime coming out of the drain.  Clean it out with a towel. 
  6. Run a little water to check drainage.

This worked on an almost completely clogged drained. 

The benefits of this approach are many.  It doesn’t use a lot of water.  A product is not required that will produce fumes or dangerous waste.  It is not a time consuming approach.  I could go on. 

Let me know how it works for you.

 

 

Treat Yo Self

HEAR YE!! HEAR YE!!! This right here…

Now, I am not talking about once a year.  I am thinking more along the lines of once a month.

I am a single mother AND a PhD candidate.  I don’t think I need to go into much more detail for anyone to understand that there are certain things that I need to do for myself.  I am on a budget, so I have had to be pretty creative.  I gift myself a monthly massage or mani/pedi.  I am working on the whole falling back in love with my hair thing and I like makeup.  SO, I extended my monthly gifts to (drum roll) BEAUTY BOXES!!!!!!

I gave myself a budget of $40, which was my previous “me time” monthly budget after massage or mani/pedi.  I have to be creative with that kind of budget but it has really worked out well since I have started subscribing to beauty boxes.  Added bonus? I don’t really have time to go to stores to shop for new items (which also leads to overspending) and online shopping comes with inconvenient shipping costs.

I chose to subscribe to My Brown Box and Nappturalite Radio BOOMbox.

My Brown Box is a subscription service that focuses on beauty products for women of color.  At $20 which covers shipping, this is a great deal.  I received three full size products which, when added up individually, cost more than the monthly charge for the box.  I have been TOTALLY pleased with what I have used so far.  The samples are of a decent size; enough to actually get an idea of the quality of the product.  The selections seem to be really thoughtful:  BEAUTIFUL, versatile shades and good quality products.  I am not a lipstick everyday person, but I received a shade that is rich and luscious AND that has worked it’s way into regular rotation.  Check our their blog at http://www.mybrownboxblog.com, too.  I enjoy the fashion posts.

BOOMbox is a subscription service that focuses on hair and body products for naturals.  Nappturalite Radio is a long running radio show that revolves around black hair and natural lifestyles.  At $15 (shipping included), this box packs a punch.  You get a free music download (AND I AM ALL ABOUT INDIE MUSIC) and mostly full size hair products.  This month, I received a gorgeous HANDMADE headband!  I also, received a moisturizer that may save me from always having to make homemade moisturizer for my son, who has eczema.  Like My Brown Box, two or three products individually add up to the total cost of the box and the samples are sizeable.  Check out nappturaliteradio.com for the latest radio show.

So there you have it!  I think beauty boxes are a great way to TREAT YO SELF in a less costly way.  Also, it’s cool to share the products and samples with friends and family!!!

Falling back in love with my hair: Kitchen items

SO I posted a couple of weeks ago that I am taking some time to fall back in love with my hair.  This has meant shaping my styles and my routines around my hair’s specific nature.  I have watched videos and read blogs in order to get more information on what women are doing with their hair.  I’ll write a post on my favorite products soon, but I wanted to share a little bit on my foray into kitchen items.

Growing up my mother used kitchen items in my curly hair.  I remember conditioning sessions with olive oil very fondly.  I have come up with an arsenal of products that have proven to work very well for my hair.  Granted, I have purchased separate bottles for cooking and hair/body.  Click the links for additional information from a cool science/natural hair blog.

Unrefined coconut oil:  for my texture, this is a little heavy for styling.  I use it for pre-wash conditioning (w/ Rosemary, Lavender, and Tea Tree oils) about twice a month.  Since I store this in the fridge, I let a couple teaspoons sit at room temperature for a 5 minutes or more.  Then, I add a couple drops of each essential oil.  I normally braid and tie up my hair in a satin scarf and allow body heat to work some magic. Also, it is amazing for my son’s eczema!

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar:  along with aloe vera juice, I use this as a rinse after washing/conditioning.  I mix a 1:1 ratio in a spray bottle, spray on, then rinse out.  My scalp is flake-less for longer now that I have started this practice.  I also use apple cider vinegar and aloe vera juice when I do a bentonite clay mask on my hair and scalp.

Grapeseed Oil:  along with jojoba oil, I use this for a little pamper me hair treatment.  The main benefit of this treatment is the aromatherapy.  I add Tea Tree oil and other essential oils to a mix of grapeseed and jojoba oils in an oil spray bottle, spray on my hair and scalp, put on a conditioning cap, then a scarf.  I do co-wash my hair post treatment.  Tea tree oil has a strong scent, but it’s tingle is really relaxing for me (a little does go a long way).

Honey:  I use honey in my homemade deep conditioner.  I have changed this to use coconut oil and I warm the honey a bit so that the honey:coconut oil ratio is 1:1.  I may start to mix in a conditioner product containing protein (formulated to be left in the hair for a longer time).

There are a few other kitchen items that I use, but these are my staples.  Coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, aloe vera juice, honey and grapeseed oil can be purchased together for less than $30.  Stored properly, they last for months.  Prices for essential oils cover a wide range.  I use my essential oils with carrier oils, epsom salt and sugar for body pampering sessions, not just for my hair.

Gaultier Spring 2013 Couture: A girl can dream

When I think of Jean Paul Gaultier, I think of cone bras and safety pin dresses.  His work often conjures up images (from my teenage obsession “Fashion TV”) of women in black dripping in power.

As a womens wear designer, I like his point of view.  People call it S&M, but I think there is more depth.  I think it’s a rebellion against patriarchy and tradition.  Yes, it’s sexual.

I found myself trying to play catchup on fashion and came across his Spring 2013 Couture line on style.com.  It was what I enjoy about Jean Paul Gaultier in a way that I don’t recall ever experiencing.  This line is regal in a way that I don’t think he has done regal before.  (Or maybe I need to dig deeper in my mind and the archives of fashion websites.)  It is still powerful and edgy, but with a slight shift in perspective.  It’s JPG, just different.

from style.com

from style.com

jeanpaulgaultier2013spcouture2

from style.com

jeanpaulgaultier2013spcouture

from style.com

These pieces are the kinds of creations that get filed under “a girl can dream.”  They take me back to my childhood fantasies of my grown up self.  One day, maybe.

Lovely vintage

Imagine walking into a consignment shop and seeing a pair of gorgeous handmade velvet (REAL VELVET) pumps.  These pumps are so beautiful.  Handmade.  Olive green velvet with satin accents.  Leather soles and lining.  The size and style information are handwritten in wonderful penmanship.  I could not walk away from these shoes.

Then, imagine walking to the front to buy said shoes and being told that you have given the store so much business that you have earned a gift credit.  Gorgeous handmade vintage pumps…FOR FREE!  (At least that is how I thought of it once the credit was applied.)

vintage Delman pumps

vintage Delman pumps

I also picked up some tan leather platform stilettos and a cute leather flower ring.

Love second hand shopping.  Between Goodwill and consignment shops, I should have no problem finding a dress and pearls to go with these beauties.