Friday, December 31, 2010

Soul Survivor - Change Gon' Come

So it's been a loooooonnnnggggg time since I have posted. I don't generally make New Year's Resolutions, but if I had one to make, it would be to keep up with my trusty blog - for you guys AND for me! I don't know about you, but it has been a rough year for me. I've ran from some things, and right smack into other things. I feel bruised and damaged mentally, physically and spiritually to put it mildly.  Actually, 2010 can suck it (see photo). But the great thing about 2010 is that it doesn't last forever. There's a brand new year approaching, and dammit, I'm determined to Sam Cooke it this year - a change IS gonna come! So here are 5 questions I found to gain some perspective going into the new year:

1. What gave me joy this year?

2. What did I take offense to? And did I really need to take offense?

3. Is there someone I should forgive?

4. What are the highlights of my character? My strong points?

5. How will I try to sustain happiness?

Some may find these questions difficult to answer, but try. You will be surprised by the answers. I've answered them already, and I feel like I know a little more about who I am, and who I want to be.

Here's what you can look forward to from Eat, Seek and Be Merry for 2011!

Soul Survivor 
Happiness: Choice or Circumstance? 
Coping with Loss, and the Brands of Grief
Dust Yourself Off and Try Again: Dating After The End of a Relationship Era

Tales of a Foodie

Reader's Choice - Most Requested Recipes!
Before and After - Some of my favorite Appetizer and Dessert Recipes
Themes: Menu Options for Every Occasion

Kiss My Glass

Thinking Outside The Glass - New Drink Recipes with Unconventional Ingredients
More Mocktails for the Non-Drinker
Boozing Up Your Favorite Childhood Drinks

Naps, Mishaps and Product Caps

The New Adventures of Old Torie's Hair - New Style Ideas for 2011
The Perfect (Hair) Cocktail
The Process - It takes more than just the perfect product

Black Girl's Think Tank

Top 5 Favorite Magazines and Why
Top 5 Favorite Books of All Time
Steve Harvey - Friend or Foe to the Black Woman?

I am excited for what's to come, and I hope you'll continue to join me for the ride. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Naps, Mishaps and Product Caps - DO Get It Twisted!

Oh yes, we DO get it twisted!!!  I'll admit that ordinarily I am not quick to jump to protective styling. A few years back, I decided to just try it. Below are some pics of two-strand twists and then the twist-out from when a friend of mine twisted my hair for me.

Last week's twist out was the first time I twisted it myself and it came out great! I used Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Leave-In Conditioner, Curl Euphoria by Curls and a little bit of IC Olive Oil Gel. I just did basic two-strand twists while my hair was still damp.

Then I let my hair dry completely, then took out the twists and kind of fluffed it.

I found that my hair was consistently defined all the way around in a twisty pattern - no weird frizzy spots like I sometimes get when I wash and go. It was soft and shiny too! The only thing I didn't like was that it didn't last as long. By Day 3 it was kind of matted and wonky-looking. But the days it was fresh, it was fly!

Next up? Bantu knots! Not to wear them, but to take them out once my hair is dry. It'll be my first time trying it, so a good friend of mine agreed to do them for me. Stay tuned!

What's your favorite protective style? Do you use them just for setting purposes or do you where them out?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Soul Survivor - Motivation List

I'm baaaaaaccckkkk! I fell off for a minute, but I'm back with a great list! For those of you who know me, you know how much I love lists...which is probably why I love those things that your friends forward to you and make you cut and paste to fill in your own answers. When you don't allow people to free write and get lost in a lot of ramble and rhetoric (me included), I find that you discover more about their personality. And it forces you to put things together with what you're given - a great life skill. Simplicity says it best.

So below is my list of things that motivate me. Feel free to respond with your own.

1. Babies - not exactly sure why, but I think it has something to do with them being new and me an urge to start fresh where I need to.

2. Spiritual Devotion/Prayer - no matter what spiritual concept you relate to, any quiet time devoted to it can be refreshing and renewing.

3. People with similar passions as me - when I see someone doing what I love on their grind, it really lights a fire under my butt!

4. Travelling - it temporarily takes me away, so inevitably I have something to "come back" to. I use this as an excuse to "come back" a little different than I left.

5. Talking and Re-Connecting to someone I haven't spoken to in a long time - this always ends up reminding me of some great story or happening that I may have forgotten about. Which takes me back to a moment in time when something was different, and may have been working better for me.

6. Getting my mom's perspective from when she was my age - the times may have been different, but talking with my mom reminds me of our similarities. This sometimes gives me options in decision-making because I have a little insight on how things will turn out, and how I may receive the results. Worst case scenario? I know what not to do.

7. Reminiscing on a horrible time - some people say it's not good to say things like "It could have been worse." I believe that when it actually has been worse, it helps put things into perspective - you got through it.

8. Talking - sometimes sharing your thoughts out loud make them mean something different; your own tone on a certain situation can change how you think about it. You can actually motivate yourself. Sounds cheesy, but true.

9. A good book or movie - Art imitates life; I always feel like I have the power to control and change everything in my life once I see an example of how many different ways it can be done. And not be done, for that matter.

10. An indulgent experience - Go out to dinner. See a movie. New outfit. Buy some expensive cheese and cheap wine. Or vice versa. If you feel that you have indulged, it will be followed by the feeling that you deserved it. And you'll want more. What can be more motivating than that?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Naps, Caps and Product Caps - My Favorite CHEAP Products!

It never fails...whenever I go out, at least one person asks what products I use on my hair. And they are always surprised with my answer, because most of the time it's something cheap. Now I use a LOT of different products on my hair, and all of them are not cheap...but I have noticed they both work equally as well in different ways. So I decided to compile a list of my favorite cheap hair products.

There are 2 great thing about this list: these are products that I absolutely LOVE and vouch for and they are all under $10!!!

First up...Conditioners! My long-time favorite conditioner Loreal Nature's Therapy Mega Moisture Nurturing Creme. 8 oz container - $6.99

When I use this conditioner, my hair feels like I just poured hot, melted butter all over it! Hy hair instantly softens as soon as the conditioner hits my hair. It almost detangles itself. And once it's dry, it still feels soft. And looks great! No matter how you style your hair, this conditioner is a great step in your regimen.

My next favorite is Yes To Cucumbers. The great thing about this one is at regular price, it's about $10. But if you have Ross store near you, you can snag it for $3.99!

This conditioner makes my hair smell fresh and clean, instantly detangles and softens, and is eco-friendly! It's made with 99% all-natural ingredients. It's very light, and I have to discipline myself not to use too much, because a little goes a long way. I won a bottle of this from one my favorite blog's give-away and fell in love with it!

Next up are my fave cheapie Leave-In Conditioners. The one I use right now is Garnier Fructis Leave-In Conditioning Creme Sleek and Shine. The most expensive I've seen it is $4.

When I use this, it's a part of a hair cocktail (I'll be discussing the other part of the cocktail further down) and I love it. I use it when I wash and go, and it makes my curls soft and springy. It absorbs without leaving my hair greasy or gunky. But it maintains moisture pretty well; I usually re-apply after a couple of days.

I also like Motions Nourish Leave-In Conditioner. It costs about $4.

I love that this is a spray - it gives me versatility to use outside of just washing my hair, like at the beach or anytime I feel like my hair and scalp is dry. I spray it on before I style, and I feel like it puts a protective slip on my curls. Also good for hydrating in between washing and co-washing.

Now for my favorite cheapie styling products. I'll start with the other half of my hair cocktail, Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Anti-Frizz Polisher. It $7.99 in mostly places, but at the variety store up the block, it's $5.99!

I love to use this on humid days, because it really combats the frizz as the label promises! I mix this with a conditioner (my hair cocktail), and it makes a perfect styling glaze for my curls. And it only takes a little, so it lasts a long time. It gives gloss and soft control. My hair loves it.

This is probably the cheapest of my cheapie faves, but I always keep a jar of Ampro Pro Styl Protein Styling Gel. You can find this as cheap as $0.99!

This is the last step of my wash and go styling ritual. I use it first to tame the fly-aways around my hairline and to keep my curls from falling too far forward on my face. Then I evenly disperse on my damp curls, a moderate amount. I like that it helps define my curls with a little hold without making my hair hard or crunchy.

Next fave styling product is Soft and Beautiful Botanicals Light Creme Moisturizer. A 6 oz tube is about $5.

I use this as an everyday moisturizer. It's a happy medium between too heavy and too light. I re-wet my curls just a little, and slap some of this stuff on it. It looks like a fresh wash and go! My hair is soft and the curls are well defined. And it smells delicious!

And last but not least, my go-to styling aid that never lets me down, Smooth and Shine Curl Activator Gel for Extra Dry Hair. The 10.5 oz container is $3.99.

This is my Curly Pudding/Kinky Curling Custard/Curls Milkshake wannabe styling product! On my damp and well-conditioned hair, this is a GREAT styling product. It dries my hair to shiny, soft, hydrated and well-defined curls. It smells great, and it lasts for a few days (which for us wash and go girls is good news!) My hair can still move when it dries. I recommend this to all first-time wash and go curl stylers!

So that's the list of my all-time favorite cheapie natural hair products. I'll be compiling another list soon of my favorite higher end products as well. But these serve my hair quite nicely when I'm pinching pennies. I hope this helps you too - feel free to leave a comment and add to the list!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Black Girl Think Tank - Recovering Yes Woman

I am a recovering Yes training. This post is inspired by an article I recently re-read in the February 2004 issue of Essence called "Learning To Say No" by Pearl Cleage (who just happens to be one of my favorite author/playwrights).

I love to say yes. It makes me feel good to be able to help others, give people what they want, what they need. But when I get stuck doing something that only benefits the other party involved, I'm left with that feeling. You know the one. The same feeling I get when I pay to see a bad movie. Feeling like I lost some valuable time in my life that I can never get back. Now I'm not saying we should all become the Wicked Bi*ch of the West hitting everybody with the booming "(Hell) NO". But at some point in your adult life, you have to start putting yourself first. And when you say "yes" to something you don't want to do, for whatever reason, you're prioritizing yourself second, at best. Enough of that, and you'll wake up one day wondering where you went and when you became so bitter. I'll tell you why. The time you give to everybody else is not, in fact, extra time. You'll begin to realize that the time you have to do the things YOU want to do is disappearing. This can be frustrating. Because who you are now has become who THEY (the askers) want you to be, and who you want to be seems to be moving farther and farther away. Your life isn't yours anymore, and you feel like you're losing control.

In order to reclaim her life, Pearl Cleage came up with six important questions you should ask yourself when someone asks you a question that requires a yes or no answer:

1. What am I being asked to do?
2. Who is making the request?
3. Who will benefit from this activity?
4. What do I want to do?
5. What will happen if I say no?
6. What will happen if I say yes?

She acknowledges the fact that #4 is the hardest to deal with, and I agree; it's difficult when you've become accustomed to being of service to everyone and feeling guilty if you don't. I tried this, and I can honestly say I was amazed at how many things I got done that benefited ME when I was able to say no. I could feel myself slowly taking control over my life again. Now I try my best to refrain from giving away important chunks of my life. You can adapt these six questions to almost anything, even something as simple as deciding whether or not to answer your phone. You have that right. And I promise, it won't make you the Bad Guy...just the Self-Assured Guy that's well on your way to happiness and a new sense of self-worth. Learning to say no is a process that definitely won't happen overnight. But to commit to it is imperative because when you do, the most important person to you will finally be YOU.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Naps, Mishaps and Product Caps - Cinnamon Lightening

So as I was perusing natural hair blogs, I came across the blog of my good friend L. Michelle's blog. I read that one of her followers My Natural Me "lightens" her hair with cinnamon. I love dying my hair, but it is quite expensive to get it done professionally. Plus the harsh chemicals that are cheaper dry my already parched curls out. So I decided the Google this cinnamon-coloring thing. I found a how-to on it, and I tried it this past weekend. Below is a before pic:

First I mixed the cinnamon with one of my V-05 conditioners.

Once I got it nice and smooth, I applied it to my hair. I covered every inch!

Then after I applied it, I covered it with a shower cap and left it in for 5 1/2 hours.     

 FINAL REVIEW: It did not work AT ALL. My hair looked exactly the same as it did before the treatment. It didn't even look lighter in the sun! Maybe my hair is too coarse and thick to take to the treatment, because as you can see, I applied A LOT of cinnamon paste to my hair!

See? Still dark! The bright side is that cinnamon is said to have other great properties. It is said to prevent hair breakage and reduce hair loss. So I ended up with supposedly stronger, cinnamon-y hair (my hair STILL smells like a sweet potato pie)! But no lightening. So don't waste your good cinnamon on this one.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Soul Survivor - The Letter

A Letter to Mr. Right*

* (also known as The One, I Thought You Were The One, My Soulmate, and other known aliases)

I am writing this letter in somewhat of a desperate state. You see, I have tried to approach and communicate with you on several occasions, but you never respond. I am beginning to wonder if I have offended you in any way, or done something to turn you away from me. Perhaps when I explained that all I wanted to do was love you, nurture you, and care for you, you took this as some sort of threat. Of course, I understand that is a natural reaction: to feel afraid or even angry when something that is offered to you so easily is challenging in the same right. Maybe you think that this is an empty promise, but I assure you, I have every intention of showing you in addition to telling you. Because of course...actions speak louder than words.

I feel that some history may be of help here. When I was younger, I was taught by society to believe that a woman had two driving characteristics to chose to live their lives by: to be loving, or to be strong.

To be strong meant that you had the ability to hold everything together, including your family, your friends and your community. You would be admired and respected by everyone around you. People would love you. The downside? People would love who you represent to them. No one would ever fall in love with you. They would be afraid that your greatness would overshadow them, and in their own insecurity, be afraid that they would have nothing to offer such a strong, great woman.

To be loving meant that you would be loved by mostly everyone. Your capacity to love, care for, nourish, and protect makes you a great mother, wife, sister and friend. Your warm tears, be them of joy or sorrow, will move the souls of many. The downfall? That's all you're good for. You will always be loved...and never respected. You are seen as the complete opposite of strong: weak. You will always be a subordinate to your male counterpart, and you will never even attempt to do great and courageous things. If you do, people will start to question your capacity to love.

I learned much later in life that these teachings were a little off; it seemed as if people did not understand the difference between love of power and the power of love.

By the time I realized this confusion, some damage had already been done. I wanted so badly to love you, that I did not love myself. Ridiculous, right? How can I produce love from within, if it isn't there? It wasn't my fault. I fed myself the toxins of society, even after I was old enough to know better. But I now know I can't place blame; that doesn't solve anything. When I offered you love, you may have somehow thought it was easy. But love is the biggest act of courage there is. Maybe you don't know the kind of love I offer because you haven't experienced it. People are often afraid of things outside their bubble of knowledge. Maybe I was too image and personality driven to really understand the power of what I was actually offering you myself. But such is not true anymore.

I am not angry with you for rejecting my love. In my own way, I rejected it at one point. I didn't want to love, I was tired of being loving. My mind was poisoned. We all know that it is a great African-American tradition to be forgiving and compassionate; when we forget that, we suffer inside. When you reject love, do you suffer too? Maybe you think that by my offering to love you, I want to take something away from you. Freedom, perhaps? But if you look deep inside yourself, you will realize that my desires are a direct reflection of yours, just in different packaging.

The last thing I ever wanted you to do is fear me if I stand up to my own greatness. I'm not afraid of your greatness; I celebrate it. I am not afraid of you even though I am taught to believe that your only mission is to use me and hurt me. I have faith in you, even though I am told not to trust you with things of even the smallest value, much less my feelings.

What happened to you? When you were my father, you were the strongest, most courageous man alive to me. When you were a pillar in my community, you were the most respectable man I knew. When you were my friend, you were one of the people I trusted the most. No one is perfect, I know that. But I have heard awful rumors about you as of late. That you would turn on me the minute I trusted you and let you in. That you only want me for superficial things that benefit you. That you are no longer interested in growing with me mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Even with all of the evidence thrown in my face, they are still just ugly untruths to me. Some would even call me a fool for believing that you could ever love me the way I want you to. You don't seem to be afraid to love your mother, your sister or your friend. So why me? Maybe I am asking the impossible. In this letter, I only request one thing. Prove them wrong. Prove society wrong. Prove me right. If I have mistaken you for Mr. Right, and you are actually Mr. Right Now, let's learn from each other. So that when you find the one that is worth it, with my help, you'll want to prove them wrong for her.


P.S. If you're not Mr. Right, don't worry; I will be worth it for someone.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Naps, Mishaps and Product Caps - KCCM Natural Hair Meet-Up!

Myself and JenellyBean, The Hostess with the Mostess!

Last night I had the pleasure of mingling with some of the hottest naturalistas in NYC! Our hostess had the most adorable icebreaker that helped us get to know each other and our hair status and practices. We chatted about hair, life, careers, hair, music...and did I mention hair? :-)

There were lots of different hair styles in the building - and no two were alike!

As you can see,  a great time was had by all. Seeing all of these beautiful naturalistas was so inspiring! I am already calculating what my next style is! Of course when I try it, I'll blog it! So stay tuned.

Click here for more pics from the Natural Hair Meet-Up

And check out the fabulous blogs of my natural sisters that attended the event:


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tales of a Foodie - Boozy Baking

I used to run a business called South in the City - Southern baked goods with a city flair. You might ask, what exactly does it mean to give a dessert a city flair? One of the ways I do this is to add a little something to my desserts that everyone in the city loves - LIQUOR! I was recently gifted a cookbook called The Boozy Baker which inspired me to share some of my favorite boozy dessert recipes. And don't worry, non-drinkers...for some of the recipes, the alcohol content cooks down or away in the heat. Here are 3 of my favorites:

Amaretto Pound Cake
*this yummy cake gets gooey pieces in the middle from poking holes in the cake and pouring an Amaretto glaze over the cake. After bringing the glaze to a boil, about 75% of the alcohol will remain. Mmmmm....

3 sticks of butter, softened
1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
3 cups of sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp of almond extract
3 cups of flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy; about 3 min. Add sugar to the creamed mixture, one cup at a time. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each one. Add almond extract and mix until batter is fluffy. Add flour to mixture, blending between each cup. Pour batter into a Bundt pan, and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

For the glaze:
1 stick of butter
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur
1/4 cup evaporated milk

Bring all ingredients to a boil, stirring constantly. As soon as you begin to see tiny bubbles in the mixture, remove from heat. After the cake has completely cooled, invert onto a serving plate. With a butter knife, poke holes into the cake. Pour hot glaze over the cake. Let sit for about an hour before serving.

Southern Buttermilk Pie
*Nothing says "Southern Comfort" like adding a bit of it to this deliciously easy pie! After baking, this pie will retain about 25% of the alcohol content.

1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Bisquick
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbs Southern Comfort
3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a pie pan with cooking spray. Combine sugar, buttermilk, Bisquick, butter, vanilla, Southern Comfort and eggs in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into pie plate and bake till brown and still slightly jiggly in the middle; about 30-40 min. Let cool 10 min before slicing. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

Cabernet Granita
*this is a perfect dessert to beat the summer heat, but be careful; it retains the full amount of alcohol used!

1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of sugar
3/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon (*or your favorite full-bodied red)
3/4 cup white grape juice
1/3 cup lemon juice
red grapes and mint for garnish

Combine the water, sugar, and wine in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes; cool. Add the grape juice and lemon juice. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Pour into divided ice cube tray. Freeze until solid (about 4 hours). Place cubes, one at a time, in a food processor. Process until slushy. Serve in sherbet dishes garnished with grapes and mint. Serves 2-3 people.

I hope you enjoy these boozy baked goods as much as I do! Cheers!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Naps, Mishaps and Product Caps - Hair Rules Product Review

 So a friend of mine tried the Hair Rules system and wasn't very happy with it. She gave it to me to try, figuring since we had a different curl pattern, it might work well with my hair (She's about a 4a or 4b and I'm a 3c. Check out this curly hair site to find out what your curl pattern is). So I tried it, and I'm reviewing it here! Here is what I used from the Hair Rules system - Daily Cleansing Cream Moisturizing No Suds Shampoo, Quench Ultra Rich Conditioner and Kinky Curling Cream.

Daily Cleansing Cream Moisturizing No Suds Shampoo (Rickys, $22.00)

What it's supposed to do: gently cleans & moisturizes dry, coarse, over-processed, color-treated and heat-styled hair. packed with honey, awapuhi, & hops, to promote the health, condition and luster of your hair.

What it did: it was a bit strange "washing" my hair with something that didn't lather, but I didn't feel that awful squeaky clean you feeling your hair gets when it has been stripped of it's natural oils. However it did feel like I had successfully gotten all of the product residue out. And it smells lovely!

Quench Ultra Rich Conditioner (Ricky's, $24.00)

What it's supposed to do: this luxurious daily conditioner uses shea butter, honey, glycerin, coconut and olive oils, to keep parched, spongy & frizzy hair hydrated and lustrous.

What it did: it was a great conditioner; my hair instantly felt soft and silky literally minutes after I put it in. It smells really sweet, almost like cotton candy. I was a little concerned with the specific direction after applying to "rinse until hair feels soft, then stop". It was reminiscent of Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding, the early edition, where they recommended you keep half the conditioner in your hair. Hair Rules does give you the option of rinsing it out in 5 minutes or leaving in it in for up to 20 minutes (I left mine in for about 10 minutes). I followed the instructions accordingly, and my hair felt slippery and soft. But I was afraid to rinse more than I should!

Kinky Curling Cream (Ricky's, $20.00)

What it's supposed to do: olive oil and honey help transform tight 'fros into bouncy, silky spirals, free from frizz and shrinkage, use for styling coarse, kinky hair, texturizers, silkeners, twists, locks & braids for wash-n-go results.

What it did: I'll start by saying the directions for this part of the system were very specific, and I followed them almost to a tee. It said to apply to soaking wet hair, saturate hair with product, in sections, while smoothing & stretching with fingers or a wide-tooth comb (I used a wide-tooth comb). It then said to lightly re-wet hair (I'm still not sure why, since it was already soaking wet) and that "what you see [after this process is done] is what you'll get". It then said to air dry or set wet curls under a hood dryer (I dried for a few minutes with a diffuser, then air dried it the rest of the way; mostly air dried). It was thick and silky feeling, and even though my hair was still dripping, it felt silky and my curls were well-defined. It smelled yummy, like candy. Below are some result pics:

This was immediately after finishing the curling process.

This was about an hour later.

These were taken much later that night; like, six hours after styling.

And these pics were taken the day after styling.

Final Review: Keeping in mind that it is extremely humid and rainy in NYC, my hair held up quite nicely. As you can see, my curls were springy and bouncy as promised, and there was hardly any frizz, even with the immense amount of humidity and rain outside. The styling cream suggested I use their Hydrating Cream after styling, but I didn't need it. On the third day I'll put a moisturizing cream in it, but one of my cheapie-but-goodies.

This was a great product for my hair texture, and I was pleased with the look. However, if I had purchased these products on my own, I would have spent over $60. With the amount of product I had to use, I would be buying it all over again after about 4 washes. I predict that this style won't last my hair more than three days, see where I'm going with this - this is an expensive styling system! But it does indeed work. If you're willing to pay the money for it and you have the right hair texture, it's worth it.

For more info on Hair Rules, including video tutorials, hair type description, and all of  their other products, visit