I had another post scheduled for today…

I had another post scheduled for today. This week I did everything right and had finished and scheduled the post from well in advance. But as the day wore on, the heavier I felt trying to process everything going on in the world (mostly the US) and a blog post about braiding my hair would only be flippant.

Now, I’m a private person (I get the irony of having a blog) and I tend to keep my views and opinions to myself so this isn’t going to be a post pontificating on what needs to be done and how to make the world a better place, because I don’t pretend to have the answers for that.

But, if you’re interested, these are the top three things weighing me down today:

  1. #BlackLivesMatter – Growing up in a country where black people are the dominant race, I don’t pretend to be able to understand what Black Americans go through and it wasn’t until I was much older and started reading Cornel West and Henry Louis Gates Jnr that I finally begun to grasp the challenges that exist.
  2. #JusticeForSusanBogle – On May 27, in Jamaica, a disabled woman was shot and killed in her home in August Town. I could get into the stats on the levels of inequality persons with disabilities face, but I honestly think it’s obvious enough that I don’t have to.
  3. Myka Stauffer – My mother always says there are three sides to every story, your side, my side and the truth, and while I definitely don’t know this woman’s journey or the struggles they faced after adopting a son from China who they knew had special needs, I personally know the challenges that come with raising a child with special needs. The couple About three years after the adoption, they decided to “rehome” their son with a new “forever family”.

Lockdown Hair Routine

Since being in lockdown I decided to devote some additional time and attention to my hair. I did a pretty big cut a year ago and honestly was surprised to see how much it’s grown since then.

By now, I’ve worked out a pretty good weekend hair routine and where I’d clean it and then do some sort of protective style during the week. And so far, my hair seems to be responding to this quite well. I also discovered some new products and tried new things and it’s safe to say it’s been a fun and interesting experience.

My Go-To Protective Styles (that aren’t a bun)

  • Mini twists
  • Flat twists
  • Box braids

My Weekend Routine

First I pull my hair out of whatever protective style it’s in, and then slather the Cream of Nature Clay & Charcoal Mask all throughout the hair while finger combing. I’ll leave it in for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, but I find the longer it’s been in, the better my hair feels after.

After that, I rinse my hair out thoroughly and shampoo with either a black soap shampoo I make or Zimii Neutralising Shampoo. While I’ve long been obsessed with the Zimii Intense Curls Gel, I just started trying the shampoo to get rid of any excessive product build up, and to make sure that the mask rinses out completely and it’s been really good for that, my hair feels clean without feeling stripped.

Then I’ll condition and detangle using Herbal Essences Bio Renew Argan Oil Repair Conditioner. I just bought the big pump bottle and I usually use it as a conditioner and a leave-in conditioner. I’m generally not picky about conditioners as long as they have a decent amount of slip.

Rinse the conditioner out with rice water. This is a somewhat new addition to the routine, but after seeing so many people swearing by it, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. I usually make about a cup of this about an hour before I start my hair routine and add a couple drops peppermint oil so it doesn’t just smell like rice. Then I strain it into a spray bottle and spray my hair until the conditioner has mostly been rinsed out. Now this seems like it would take a lot of time and rice water, but it actually doesn’t. Because it’s being sprayed throughout I think you get better distribution as opposed to if you just poured a cup of water on your head. Then I shower/shave/wash my face and do whatever else I need to before rinsing the rice water out.

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Freshly washed and rinsed but still pretty defined considering it’s pre-product

Then while my hair is still damp (but not soaked) I’ll add a leave-in conditioner and oil of choice (currently trying out Wild Growth Hair Oil to see if that actually works) then detangle half my hair and work in whatever curl cream/pudding I’m using (currently it’s Texture My Way Keep It Curly Ultra Defining Curl Pudding) and some curl defining gel and then style.

My two flat twists are pretty much a universal style for me. Forever flattering, protective, easy to do and can be worn around the house and outside. If I’m doing mini twists, then I don’t even bother to do any fancy parting (I invariably leave random hair strands when I try to part properly), I just use my fingers to section the hair and then twist as I go along. Not so quick, but definitely easy and they hold up for the week.

Now it’s just to see if I can keep this up post lockdown.

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The current product line-up

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The OG Sweet & Sour Candy – Tamarind Balls

If as a Jamaican child you weren’t exposed to tamarind then I feel like it’s time to revoke your Jamaican card. I remember there being a big tamarind tree on the other side of the fence for the playing field at my prep school. The tree was so big, that there were quite a few overhanging branches and, if you were lucky, you might find a pod or two (is it weird to call it a pod? I’ve never thought about that until now) and you could break it open and enjoy the sour snack inside.

As I grew older I lost my taste for all things sour, but still enjoyed the flavour of tamarind, especially as an accompanying sauce to samosas. Then, somewhere along the line, I was introduced to sweet tamarind from the tree we have growing at home in the country. Unlike the sour variety, this was a fruit the adult me could fully get behind. Usually I just enjoy them as is, but with this year’s harvest I decided to try making some tamarind balls instead.

Tamarind Balls

Tamarind balls are a Jamaican staple, and it’s kind of like the OG sour patch candy, sour and sweet. Basically you take the tamarind flesh and you mix it with sugar until it’s not quite as sticky and a lot more malleable, then you roll it into a ball and then you coat it in more sugar. 

Sounds simple enough, and if you have the patience to scrape the tamarind flesh off the seed then it’s much better because you end up with seedless tamarind balls. However, if you don’t have the patience of Job, then it’s even easier. You don’t have to clean off all the seeds, just do some and then when you roll the tamarind flesh together, the seeds that remain form the core of your tamarind balls. 

Enid Donaldson, in her book The Real Taste of Jamaica (no Jamaican kitchen is complete without a copy of this) recommends rubbing the tamarind on a sieve to remove the flesh from the seed. I normally use a spoon and/or a butter spreader to scrape it off, but the next time I make it I think I’ll give her method a try.

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Tamarind Balls

Ingredients

    • Tamarind (sweet or sour, it’s up to you)
    • 1 Cup Sugar (white or brown, again it’s your choice and don’t hesitate for more if needed)
    • Flavouring (some people like to add flavouring – rum/cinnamon/nutmeg – this is completely optional)

Directions

    • Crack all the tamarind pods and remove the edible portion and any stringy bits
    • Remove the flesh from the seeds and set aside
    • Once all the flesh is removed, spread it out on a plate or cutting board and sprinkle with two-thirds of the sugar, making sure to thoroughly coat the tamarind spread
    • Mix in the sugar well and then, using a spoon, scoop out about one teaspoon and roll between your palms forming a small ball
    • Sprinkle the remaining third of the sugar on a separate surface and use that to coat the tamarind ball
    • Set aside until all are complete

Yes, these have a lot of sugar, but it’s a treat, and if you’re looking for a good excuse to eat them anyway, think of all the nutritional benefits of tamarind. Healthline says it’s high in magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin) and there are also trace amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folate, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), copper and selenium.

If you decide to give this a try, let me know how it turns out, or not, but either way enjoy!

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Hooked on Crochet (I made a bikini!)

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to learning things (as long as it’s something I’m interested in). And last year, when I’d decided that I wanted to learn to sew, not only would I do a crash course over the Easter weekend, but I’d do it so well that I’d be able to make my monokini for Bacchanal Road on Easter Sunday.

I bought my supplies Thursday, then headed to the country to have my mother teach me a thing or two (million). Long story short, mission accomplished and the monokini was wearable and (in my opinion) super cute.

This year, we’re pretty much all in some level of lockdown and there was no Easter weekend party for me to sew something new, so instead I thought I’d teach myself to crochet. Now, I have a bit of a long history with learning to crochet, and I’d learnt the basic basics about 17 years ago. My family had a helper (like a nanny/housekeeper) that worked with us, Christine, who gave me a crochet hook and taught me how to slip knot and chain stitch, the basic foundation of any crochet project. Now I can’t remember if she stopped teaching or if I lost interest, but that was where my crochet education stopped.

I’ve always been interested in crafting though, and fooled around with a loom, exploring how to make mini tapestries as a kid, and knitting a scarf (I started two and never actually finished them). But this time I had an incentive to learn to crochet, because this time I was going to make a bikini.

If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with swimwear, so what more incentive could I want other than to know there was a (hopefully) cute bikini at the end of the journey. Because I like to run before I can walk, I looked up a crochet bikini tutorial on YouTube and went full speed ahead. Didn’t matter that I had no idea what “ch 14, sl st, hdc” meant, I started working on my bikini. And then, of course, I realised that it did matter that I had know idea what “ch 14, sl st, hdc” meant (chain 14, slip stitch, half double crochet btw) and that maybe I should slow things down and learn some of the basics.

It took a while to get the hang of things, but once I was confident enough in my single crochet and double crochet stitches it was time to start (again). I spent most of the long weekend working on it (with the same gifted crochet hook from 17 years ago), and from there I’d do a bit some evenings after work and then devote more time to it on the weekends. I finished the bikini top over the Easter weekend, and it took me about two and a half weeks of bit by bit work to finish the bottom.

Now that I’ve accomplished that goal, I’m trying to properly learn how to do more with it, including techniques and stitches and understanding the language and reading patterns. That’s a whole other challenge, but now that I know I can make something it’s much more exciting. I think it’s pretty safe to say, I’m hooked on crochet!

IPSY Spring Time Cheer (April 2020 Glam Bag Review)

While I’m not super into wearing makeup on a regular, I still absolutely love it. I was that kid sneaking into my mother’s stash and covering my face in everything possible. Then, as a dancer, I had a legitimate excuse to start actively using makeup early, so I was always pretty okay at it.

I don’t like a full beat, so I’m perfectly capable and satisfied at the job I do for Carnival Sunday and my shows throughout the year, or the rare occasion I do have to dress up for something. That said, every now and then I’ll subscribe to IPSY for a few months just to get a range of new things to try out. I find it all piles up too quickly which is why I end up having to take a break. Aside from the monthly subscription, they do have a feature where you can get your package every other month which should help with that, but in my case it was still a bit much.

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I’m not gonna lie, this is probably the cutest bag I’ve got from IPSY so far, it’s cheery, spring-like and I can’t wait to be able to go somewhere and use it.

I feel like by now we all know how subscription services work, right? And IPSY tends to be one of the more popular ones, but just in case you don’t, here’s a quick overview. You sign up, you do a quiz, you pay, and voila…once a month the cutest little makeup package is shipped with your name on it (shipping is F-R-E-E btw!). Since I live in Jamaica, I use a courier service (Circles) to bring the package from the US to Jamaica, and I’ve never had any issues with them.

Since I was going to review the products on the IPSY site, I decided I might as well make a blog post out of it (yes I know I’m the worst at having a routine blog posting schedule), so here goes…

2020-04-Ipsy Lip GelSERAPHINE BOTANICALS – Berry + Juice – 100% Vegan Lip Gel in Rose Currant

Rating: 5/5

I’m very iffy when it comes to lip glosses, sometimes I love them, sometimes I hate them. But this one definitely falls in the love category. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s a “lip gel” or of that’s just good marketing, but it’s a rich formula that’s moisturising and gives a great shine but without feeling heavy on your lips.

 

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KOKIE COSMETICS – Be Bright Illuminating Concealer in Golden Beige

Rating: 5/5

I’m not a big user of concealer, but I did give it a try just to see how well it would blend and match my skin and it definitely did the trick.

 

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BALANCE ME – Wonder Eye Cream

Rating 4/5

I’ve been wanting to try out an eye cream/serum, so I was happy to have got this in my April bag. The formula is nice and goes on smoothly and absorbs well. My only issue is that excess product seems to constantly be coming out into the cover which I don’t like, so I took off a star for that in the rating.

 

Glossier Priming Moisturiser

GLOSSIER – Priming Moisturizer Rich

Rathing: 5/5

I’ve always had a pretty basic skincare routine, wash with face soap, witch hazel astringent and then moisturiser. For maybe the last year or so I’ve been using jojoba oil as my moisturiser because I found the scent of some of the store bought ones a little harsh (I think I’ve become more sensitive to scents as I get older), and also it just works well for me. But I’m not against trying new things, and sometimes I do want something richer for my face, so this was a great addition. The scent is light so it doesn’t bother me, and even though it’s kind of a rich formula, it goes on easily and leaves my skin feeling hydrated.

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SUGAR COSMETICS – Wingman Waterproof Eyeliner in I’ll Be Black

Rating: ?/5

I haven’t even opened this yet so I’ll save the review for another time. I’m not exactly the handiest with eyeliner and I already have an open one I’ve maybe used twice, so I figured I’d leave this alone for now. Great name though!

If you’re still here reading and on the off chance that you decide to subscribe after reading my wonderful review (if you’re not already, I feel like everyone’s done IPSY at least once lol), do me a favour and use my referral link so I can get points! Please and thanks 🙂

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