Friday, February 5, 2010

A helpful discovery

Actually, something the hubby discovered: Manuka Oil. After reading everything we could on it, we ordered a small bottle on Amazon.

While the hubby doesn't see how it's any better than tea tree oil, I have to say, it is great. I've been using tea tree oil to take care of my scalp especially when I have flare ups (which I think are caused by some kind of bacteria or fungus. and yes, it helps. But manuka oil? Manuka oil takes the cake! It really helps-- tremendously--and very quickly. I think if I continue to use manuka oil, I can cut down on the number of times I have to wash my hair weekly, which is great in this cold weather.

I just had to blog about when I realized that it also helps my skin recover quickly from pre-period acne breakouts. It's not too harsh (at least it doesn't feel so) and is very effective (more so than the benzoyl peroxide I tried and, as a wonderful plus, more natural).

Cranberry Walnut Waffles

I found this recipe I posted eons ago on VegWeb

Cranberry Walnut Waffles

Ingredients (use vegan versions):

l cup unbleached white or whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 cup organic sugar or 1/3 cup sucanat
1 cup soy or rice milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoon Ener-G Egg Replacer powder
1 tablespoon lukewarm water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup sugar-free applesauce
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cardamom (optional)

Directions:

Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl: flour, baking powder, vegan sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Mix well. In a different bowl, combine the egg replacer with water and beat until frothy. Add the oil and continue to beat. Next add the vanilla and applesauce. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Fold in the cranberries and the walnuts. Batter should be thick but not too thick, i.e. mixing should be rather easy by hand.

Spray waffle iron with oil (Spectrum Natural makes a good cooking spray). Pour about 1/2 cup of batter into the waffle iron and let cook for about 8-10 mins. each or a little past the light on the waffle iron goes off.

Can be made into pancakes by adding a little more milk.

Note: precise measurement ensures that the waffles come out perfectly.

Serves: 5 belgian waffles

Preparation time: 30 mins

These are simply delicious and I'm a little bummed that my waffle iron is not working all that well lately. They are so good they could be use for desserts or eaten for breakfast without syrup.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Getting Rid of Baby Stuff

I thought it would be psychologically healthy for me to start to clear out the baby stuff and the stuff that Z2 outgrows. In the next few weeks, the decision to keep Z2 as our youngest will be final and I thought getting rid of stuff would help me to close that door mentally .

So today, my Moby Wrap sold. It took a little while but the money's been sent and it's packaged up and ready to go. That wrap holds so many memories and I'm sad to see it go. Sad that it won't hold any other children. But I'm going to have to be okay with the it.

I've freecycled a lot of baby stuff but I still have a lot more stuff around here. I think it will all really sink in then when I sell off my newborn/infant diaper stash.

Photo Courtesy of http://www.insidesocal.com/bargain/toyskids-stuff/

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Brown Skin

If only my skin looked as good as the woman in this picture that popped up when I googled "acne prone skin"! {{{chuckles}}}

I always attributed my acne to the fact that I had oily skin. Supposedly, it was the oil clogging up my pores and causing the pimples and cysts. But after having two children, my skin is completely different. It's pretty dry and often kind of dull. The complete opposite of what it once was. And yet, I still have acne!

I usually have a clear complexion until the time I ovulate or a few days before the start of a new moon cycle. This month's bout of acne is quite severe--more severe than it's been in a while. I'm trying my hardest to leave my skin alone but I'm pretty sure that there will be a lot of bad scarring once this is over. I even bought acne medication (a cream with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide) to try to improve things more quickly but it doesn't seem to be doing much.

So I'm not quite sure what to do. I've been cleansing with knock-off Noxzema and following up with a mix of shea butter and jojoba oil. I can't say it's working like a charm but it's all right. And cheap. I picked up a book at the library called Brown Skin by Dr. Susan Taylor and I'm hoping that it may shed some light on what I'm doing wrong and maybe how to do it right. I'm sure I'll be dealing with acne for the rest of my life since my mother still is and I'm okay with that. I just need to find a way to lessen the severity of breakouts and recover from there without any major scarring/hyperpigmentation. And I need it to not cost a lot.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

FO: Sideways Grande Hat

I'm on a roll!! I finished my Sideways Grande Hat!!




It's a really beautiful hat knit with a luscious yarn (Knitpicks Cadena in Cranberry). It is incredibly warm and cozy. But it is also massively huge for my little head. (((Sigh))) Not to mention that I think it's a bit too stylish for me, if that makes sense. My style is kind of nondescript/mellow bordering on bland. So it's a little too flashy. I don't know why that didn't occur to me before I cast on but whatever. It was a fun knit (getting to do the funky twist/mock cable was well worth the effort) and I got to practice my seaming (using mattress stitch). I hate seaming and generally avoid things that are not knitted in the round. But this pattern was cute enough for me to abandon my rule just this once.

Here are the specifications:
Start Date: January 29, 2010
Finish Date: February 2, 2010
Yarn Used: Knitpicks Cadena in Cranberry (1 and a half skeins)
Needles Used: 6.0mm, 5.5mm, 5.0mm and 4.5mm
Here it is on Ravelry.

Next up: Old Shale Scarf for one of my good friends.

You know it ain't nevah gonna die, right?

The discussion about Black hair, I mean.

Me personally, I'm weary of it but it seems like as a collective, we'll never get tired of talking about our hair. It's that complex so I know, like most every Black woman, that this won't be the last time I talk about it--whether I'm tired of the topic or not. We seem to like to sit around remembering what went on with our hair as children. The trauma mostly, although some folks have fond memories of bonding with their mothers or whoever took care of their hair. And because of all the emotion we have tied up in a hair we protest vehemently when someone says, "It's just hair" and insist but . . . but . . . how can it be "just hair"? But, If an individual decides that to them it's just hair, why can't it just be?

I'm one of those folks who say that it is, after all is said and done, just hair. This is the most balanced and sane approach for me. If I lost all my hair today, admittedly it would be difficult but because of the journey I've been through, it wouldn't be some earthshaking event. I'd be okay. I've learned the hard way not to tie up my identity in what my hair is doing. According to some, me wearing a lowboy right now is speaking volumes about who I am and what I think. It's not simply how I am choosing to wear my hair. It just has to be more. Fundamentally, though I am who I am. Whether anyone who's looking at me thinks so or not.

I don't think it's healthy for me to have all this energy balled up in something as fragile and non-living as hair. I know. I've been there. Automatically thinking brothers with locks had some kind of consciousness going on. Sisters with natural hair were natural sisters. Thinking if I were going to wear natural hair, I shouldn't do x, y or z. I've been there watching locks thin and break. Starting over and getting filled with hope only to have it happen all over again. If the first set of locks I ever started had stayed with me, I would have had them for 7 years this year. And again I'm only speaking for myself. That place of worry and angst about what will people think. What will they say? What does it say about me? What am I saying? It can turn into a real deep well of sorrow and frustration especially if what you want to happen with your hair won't happen with it. When what you wish to see ain't what's going on. It can turn into a cage when you want to do something with it but can't because you don't know how it will be received, how folks will react and what they will assume and how they will treat you based on their assumptions.

The hubby has locks that extend past his waist. When he complains of how hard it is to wash them, to exercise with them, to live with them, I never flippantly say, "So just cut it!" I know how important his hair is to him. If he says, "You know, I'm thinking about cutting it," you'll never hear me say, "Don't do it!" I usually say to him, "Babes, do whatever makes you the most comfortable." His locks are still on his head and probably will be for a long time to come.

I kind of see it like this. To a Muslim, the Koran is sacred and holy. To an Atheist, it's pretty much another book. It really doesn't make sense for the Muslim to keep shouting at the atheist about how holy the Koran is and it equally doesn't make sense for the Atheist to keep insisting to the Muslim that it's just another book. It's also equally ridiculous for the Muslim or the atheist to assume that everyone he meets holds the Koran in the same regard.

So if hair is not just hair to you, that's okay. But if it is just hair to someone else, that's okay too.

But don't misconstrue . . . I wish every Black woman could love every aspect of wearing their hair the way it grows out of their head. I personally believe Black hair in it's natural state is the most beautiful hair on top of a Black woman's head. But at the end of the day, it is what is. And it always will be.

Photo Credit: Olaf Hajek via http://www.ba-reps.com/blog/tag/books/

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Super Quick and Easy Black Beans and Rice

Tonight I really didn't want to be bothered with a big production for dinner. So I put together this recipe and I'm thrilled with how it turned out. Previous attempts at beans and rice have left me beans that were too mushy or rice that was overcooked. Tonight's attempt was perfection. So here's the recipe:

Super Quick and Easy Black Beans and Rice


1 tbsp olive oil
half of a large onion, diced
half of a large green pepper diced
2 cups cooked brown rice
one 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt to taste

Saute the onions in the oil until they soften about 2-3 minutes. Add the spices and cook for about a minute till fragrant. Add green pepper and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add the cooked rice and stir everything till combined. When rice is warmed through and evenly coated with oil and spices, add the black beans. Add salt to taste and voila!

This recipe serves three (or 4 if you serve it as a side dish). It's 6 Weight Watchers Points per serving.

Oh, and of late, Z1 is completely and totally against tomatoes of any kind in his food so it's an added bonus that they are not featured in this recipe especially since so many of my other recipes rely on tomatoes. So yeah for something the kiddo will (potentially) eat.

He did not eat it, btw. But because there are no tomatoes, I'm positive he might give it another try.
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