Thursday, August 14, 2008

I finished


The sweater for Z2 that I blogged about a few weeks ago. I added a little hat too. I'm pleased with how it turned out and it should fit Z2 just right come this winter. Sorry the picture is so poor. I just don't seem to be able to take nice pictures!!

I have a few other projects I'm thinking of starting. Here are my ideas:

1. Cozy for my new 40 ounce Klean Kanteen water bottle
2. Knee high socks or Monkey socks using the Regia silk yarn I got on sale
3. Frog the wonky blanket I crocheted and use the yarn to make this one. I think a variegated yarn will lend itself nicely to this pattern.
4. Pullover for Z1. I really like the Cable and Rib Sweater with Hood by Debbie Bliss. Although I hate seaming (which is necessary for things knit flat), this sweater is cute enough where I might be willing to do it. Maybe I can convert it to knit in the round?

Right now I think I'm going to take a bit of a hiatus from knitting and crocheting. I want to spend the next few weeks focusing on incorporating more live foods into our diet (I'd like to be at least 50% raw). I've bought two books on the topic. The first is 12 Steps to Raw Foods: How to End your Dependency on Cooked Food by Victoria Boutenko (basically a primer on raw foods) and the other is Everyday Raw by Matthew Kenney (a simple, introductory cookbook). It's a little daunting especially since it seems that I will be spending a lot of time just preparing foods (lots of dishes require 24 hrs. in the food dehydrator) and also because lots of recipes call for tools I don't have (Vitamix, food dehydrator accessories, etc). We're starting off slowly with green smoothies every morning because I think I can handle that at least. I've joined two live food forums for support and I'm excited to be taking this new journey. I pray it makes a real difference in our energy levels and in our overall health.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Quinoa


Quinoa is an ancient grain that I became very interested in when I learned that it is a pretty complete protein source. It's also a great source of fiber, magnesium and iron. Since I'm always trying to make sure that our diet is complete, varied and interesting, I love to use quinoa in different ways. Quinoa can pretty much replace rice in every dish. You can make pilafs with it for a quick easy meal. It also makes a pretty delicious breakfast porridge. You can get quinoa at any health food store but I've found it for the best price in the bulk bins at Whole Foods.

To use quinoa, you must first rinse the grain off very well. It has a bitter coating that makes it pretty much inedible so you've got to get that off. I like to prepare quinoa right in my rice cooker. Since quinoa is pretty bland on it's own, I like to add things to it to bring out the flavor.

Recipe


1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
2 cups water+ 2 tsp. vegetable broth powder or
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 one red onion, diced finely
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp. Earth Balance buttery spread

Turn the rice cooker on and let it do its thing. Serve as an accompaniment to black bean soup or any other dish that you would serve with rice.

If you want to make porridge with the quinoa, prepare it in the rice cooker but don't add any spices. Once it's cooked, add milk (I use rice, hemp or almond milk), sweetener (I like maple syrup), nuts (crushed almonds work nicely), vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. You can reduce the sweetener and add dried fruits like cranberries, raisins, or dried apples.

Quinoa is a fabulous addition to any cook's repertoire of healthy whole grains.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Natural Deodorant Revisited

I always find it so funny that I sweat so much. Way more than DH. And if I'm not careful, best beware of my armpits!

Anyway . . . I blogged about natural deodorants a while back. I have been making Kimberlily's Recipe for Deodorant Cream, like I said I would, and it is, by far, the best natural thing I've used to control underarm funk. It works all day long. The other day I knew we would be out of the house all day long so I thought I better use some "real" stuff. I put on Dove antiperspirant/deodorant. That stuff quit in the middle of the day. Why did I doubt that the homemade would work?? It really, really works.

I usually make a double batch. It is stored in a glass jar but it would work much better in a squeeze bottle as it is a little runny (especially on hot days). I have to be on the lookout for some. So happy to find something that works so well. Oh, and that's not to say that the spray deodorant doesn't kill funk but it must be reapplied at some point during the day. The deodorant lotion lasts all day and all night and you will just smell the tiniest bit of mustiness in the morning. But that's cool because it's time to shower anyway.

Just contemplating . . .

So I received a suggestion the other day to do a rebuilding process to my hair using a product called Aphogee. Aphogee is basically a protein treatment that restructures and strengthens the hair. I am yet to find any information on doing the treatment on locks but I was thinking I'd be willing to try it because what's the worst that could happen? The worst is already happening, namely, lots of breakage.

But while in the beauty store today, it struck me: growing locks is to me an affirmation of my commitment to doing things the natural way. Reading long lists of ingredients with paraben this and hyrdoxyl that . . . I'm not sure if I want to try to preserve my dreads using such unnatural stuff, lab-concocted stuff or "natural" ingredients 15 times removed from nature. I think I'd rather use my natural castile soaps and Aubrey Organic shampoos and conditioners, shea butter, jojoba and coconut oils and apple cider vinegar rinses and rock a neat, sweet short 'fro when the locks eventually break off. You know, natural. I am having a hard time imagining using all these chemicals to keep these locks. It's not what I want to do no matter how much I'd like to keep these dreads on my head.

I know very well that the hair growing from your head at the root should be the strongest hair on your head. I know very well that this is something internal. I know that there is something I am missing that is making my once strong, lustrous hair frail and prone to breakage.

My sistren reminded me of a holistic hairdresser out in Brooklyn who might be able to at least give me some feedback/direction on my hair. Actually, this loctician is the one who started my first set of locks (I consider them my first--the real first set was installed by a guy who used a whole bunch of black gel and gunk--I knew I wanted my locks to be pure and natural so I washed them out after one week). Anyway, I've been calling her and leaving messages but to no avail. Hopefully I hear back soon.

In some ways, I'm anxious for my locks to break off completely. Either that or miraculously become strong. How can I stop being so focused on them?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I realized today . . .

That the first set of locks I had would have been 7 years old this summer. Some folks base being a committed veteran on how long a person has been growing their locks. I have to base it on how long I've been trying. Still, I hesitate to call myself a lock veteran or anything like that because I just don't have the length to support that claim.

I cannot even explain how much it means to me to wear locks without getting emotional. It chokes me up. Makes me angry and frustrated that they just won't grow properly. I can't properly describe how I felt when after washing my hair one day, while oiling it, I felt the first thin-rooted lock. How desperately I hoped it was a fluke. How despondent when I realized it wasn't.

Yet, I absolutely cannot stand when folks are sympathetic about my hair. Losing the first set, I would have been open to sympathy. This is what, the fifth set? I've lost count! I don't want sympathy at all!! Maybe empathy. But I don't really know many folks who empathize. At this point, it's just what it is.

DH has beautiful (I mean gorgeous) locks that have grown past his bottom. I laugh because when we met 5 years ago, he had some loose hair in his "kitchen" that are now full-fledged locks over a foot long. I can't believe his good fortune sometimes! I often think that, theoretically, I should be jealous, you know, of people with long, beautiful locks. But somehow, I'm not. It's separate . . . I don't want someone else's locks. I would have liked to have my own!

It has been such a tumultuous journey and struggle trying to grow locks. I started off as a loose natural, and locked because it meant commitment to my personal politics and to my spirituality. My personal politics and my spirituality have matured and changed over the years yet locks have always meant and still mean so much to me. My locks or lack of locks has been the source of a lot of hurt (I have been trodding in this RastafarI trodition where locks are the hallmark of ones who trod). To not have locks . . . I can't help but wonder how many people have questioned my commitment. I can't help to feel slighted when ones and ones will hail (greet) my Kingman (DH) but not give me a sideways glance. But I realize too, that those who matter don't mind and those that mind, don't matter. Because the sistren and bredren that mean the most to me in this world would still embrace me. Even if I were bald.

I have come to terms with the fact that my locks will never be long. It doesn't seem that my hair is strong enough to handle the weight of locks. And you know what? Even if I did find some magical potion that would strengthen my hair and guarantee that the locks would grow and wouldn't thin at the root and snap off, I'm not sure I would grow locks again. My spirituality has changed. How I view Jah has changed. Who I am as a person has changed. Your 20s are about changing and hopefully growing. Whereas I used to be highly concerned that I "looked the part", I'm no longer interested in being categorized or boxed in. I'm looking for true freedom and not a rule-book to follow. I'm learning how not to care when people look at me and make a whole list of assumptions based on what they see or what they think they see.

I remember as a little girl seeing people with locks. They were few and far between. I realized way back then that the only way I would have long, flowing hair would be to grow locks. Interesting. I ask myself if growing locks is really just my way of dealing with the Eurocentrism that says that long, flowing hair that blows in the wind is what is more desirable than hair that grows upward. I'd have to say, yes, that this has played a role in the drive to grow locks although I'm not quite sure how big a role. It's in there somewhere though. Yes, I do believe I'm conscious. Hip to the game, if you will. But that doesn't mean I'm not working to undo years of conditioning/socialization.

So there's the spiritual aspect and there's the vanity aspect (because, let's face it, locks are beautiful on men, women and children ) and there's the not-quite-yet resolved in my mind political aspect to growing locks (on the one hand, locks have for me represented rebellion and a certain consciousness but on the other hand there's the whole length/hair growing downwards issue because as a woman, I've been socialized to feel that long, downward growing hair is a woman's glory and beauty).

Nonetheless, I'm holding on to this set for dear life still though because right now, 2/3rds are either gone or on their way out. But I have come to terms with it. I guess, at some point, you would have to. I'm actually kind of looking forward to being a loose natural again. Kind of. I have to go buy some good brushes and combs. Refresh my braiding and twisting skills. Just get into loose natural mode again in a way that meshes with my new life as a busy mother (I just don't have 45 mins. at night to deal with my hair anymore--I used to watch t.v. while I twisted it or got it ready to be styled in the morning. Now . . . Watch t.v.? What is that?) I wonder if I should just wear a short, tight afro. Keep it short and sweet. I don't know.

The question right now is should I cut them now or just let them naturally do what they're going to do. My sister thinks I'm prolonging the inevitable. DH thinks I should do choice two and secretly, I'm hoping that I will experience enough new growth to maybe wrap the new growth around the weak locks and strengthen them. Already, areas where locks have broken have about 1/2" of growth stretched. Okay, I know that is far-fetched but . . . I'm going to keep them till at least they reach they're one year anniversary. I keep hoping that maybe I'll discover something that will keep these locks on my head.

I tell you this, though, this is my absolute last set of locks for this lifetime. Sounds so final, doesn't it?
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