Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Does Society "Assassinate" Those That Step Outside the Box?

By now I am sure that you have all seen "Window Seat", the new video by Erykah Badu that's causing a stir around the web. I love the symbolism behind the video [or movement], sure it incites controversy [and in all realness she is pushing an album], but beyond that this really speaks to my soul.

As dramatic as it may sound, my character has been assassinated many times for deciding to do things my way, which often times goes against the grain of the role society laid out for me. I have experienced sour looks from my own sistas who scoff at my decision to embrace my natural hair, I have been called a dreamer because I choose to live my life doing things that make me happy instead of following social norms and mores. I, just like Erykah, am tired of the sanctions imposed on me from society, and often times I want to strip myself of social boundaries; and be who I am. Why can't I just be me?

There is  p o w e r in having complete control over who you are, that is why ideologies are created to keep us in check, and to make us fear anything other than what society deems appropriate. Ever wondered why ideologies are created by the dominant members of society? Their unwritten rules, and expectations serve one purpose; conformity. - To all of my brothas and sistas out there that fight to stay true to yourselves [because it is hard], inhale the fresh air, and exhale fear!

I am curious to know your thoughts on this video!

Dermalogica Microfoliant Review - The Key to Glowing, Healthy, Clear Skin?

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant - $50 2.6oz

After reading rave reviews [and having rave reviews myself on the Demalogica brand] I bit the bullet a few months ago and purchased Dermalogica's Daily Microfoliant. Prior to using the microfoliant, I had clear skin [thanks to their skin care system] however I wasn't satisfied with the size of my pores, and the fact that my skin seemed dull. I knew at some point I was going to need an exfoliant, but I was concerned about the effects that some exfoliants have on your skin.

I used Dermalogica's Microfoliant twice a week for about 3 weeks before I really started to see satisfactory results. It gently sloughs off layers of dead skin revealing skin that is smoother, softer, and brighter. This also fades dark spots left behind from blemishes, not to mention those pesky pores around my t-zone were visibly smaller. Is it worth the hefty price tag? Most definitely. Would I purchase again. Absolutely.

I would recommend this to anyone that wants to brighten up their skin, and reduce pore size. This is also wonderful for people like myself who have dark spots, and pesky blemishes. - If you do try this product, I recommend using it sparingly until you figure out how many applications your skin will need, as this can easily dry out your skin if used too frequently. 

For all of my frugal sistas out there who just happen to be mixtresses, you could mimic some of the properties of this microfoliant by creating a mixture using the following ingredients:

- Dried Yogurt Powder [Moisturizer]
- Dried Honey Powder [Moisturizer]
- Rice Powder [Gentle Exfoliant]
- Neem Powder [Antimicrobal Properties]

Use rose water, to create a paste; and apply to skin - I do plan on testing out a few formulas using plant extracts and essential oils to see if I can create a cheaper, more natural alternative to the Daily Microfoliant. If it's a success, I will definitely share the formula with you!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Braidout Video!

Oh boy. It took me about F I V E HOURS to wrap my brain around uploading HD videos to youtube. I have seriously been at this since 8:30AM this morning. However it's up now, and all is well! The video is still processing, so it may take it moment for it to be available in true HD.

Here lately I have been experimenting with different braidout techniques. Out of pure laziness one day, I did about 8 braids instead of my normal 15-20, and I liked the outcome. Using 8 braids as opposed to 20 makes for a bigger, wavier, less defined look [on my hair at least], and my braiding time is only 10 minutes to boot!

The only drawback for me is that this style only really lasts about 2-3 days before I need to re-braid it at night vs the style I can don for a week or more using 15-20 braids. 

It's been a minute since I did a YouTube video, so I have a few more coming your way in the near future [Henna Tut, & Wash & Go w/Eco Styler Tut]! I hope you enjoy!

To achieve this look, I used the following products:
Leave-In Conditioner - Sebastian Potion #9
Styler - Oyin's Shine & Define
Secondary Styler - Frederic Fekkai Glossing Cream
Moisturizer - Oyin's Juices & Berries
Oil - Afroveda Citrus Sunsilk Hair Oil

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring is Here | Carrot Pineapple Cuppies

To say that this is the best Carrot Cake I have tasted; would be an understatement. - I can take it or leave it when it comes to Carrot Cake, because it can easily be a dense, dry hockey puck depending on the recipe.

But Ina Garten can do no wrong in my eyes when it comes to recipe's, so she was the first resource I turned to when I decided to make cupcakes. Due to the high caloric content of these cupcakes, I used smaller cupcake liners [and will begrudgingly give some away to friends and fam]. -

Although I love Ina's recipes, I did tweak it a bit. The original recipe called for 1 1/3 cup of Vegetable Oil, and I used 1 cup of Applesauce, and 1/3 cup of oil. I did this because the addition of applesauce makes for an extremely moist cake, and it can also act as a fat replacement in most baking recipes. If you like your sweets on the sweeter side; use regular applesauce. If you like them on the milder side, use sugar-free applesauce.

I also added pineapple, because it gives it some nice texture if you are foregoing nuts and raisins [like I did].

This stuff literally just melts in your mouth. The prep time is about 10 minutes, and the bake-time is about 30 depending on your oven. - I got these cute little sugar "thingies" from my local bakery supply store, along with the yellow cupcake liners.

Carrot Pineapple Cupcakes {Adapted from Ina Garten}
2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Applesauce
1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
3 Extra Large Eggs
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
3 Cups Grated Carrots
1/2 Cup Pineapple

1/2 lb Butter
8oz Cream Cheese
1lb Box Confectioners Sugar
1tsp Pure Vanilla Extract


Preheat oven to 350

Beat oil, applesauce, vanilla, and sugar either with a mixer [paddle attachment], or by hand with a rubber spatula. Slowly add eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. With the mixer set to low speed, add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. If you are mixing by hand, use slow, steady strokes, as you don't want to over-mix the batter causing it to be dry, and tough.

Add the carrots, and pineapple to the remainder of the dry flour mixture, and mix well. Pour that mixture into the batter, and mix until just combined. Again, making sure not to over-work the batter.

Line your muffin pan with cupcake liners, and pour until just under full, they don't rise entirely too much, so don't be afraid to add a little more batter than you normally would.

Bake the cupcakes on 350 for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For the frosting;  cream together sugar, butter, and vanilla, then slowly add confectioners sugar until mixed well.

You May Say That I'm a Dreamer; But I'm Not The Only One

It was amazing weather this past weekend. Almost picturesque. It's hard to believe that in just 3 days we will have "rain/thunder" headed our way.

Weekends are never long enough. I always feel like I need an extra day to actually rest. - I can't complain though, this weekend was actually better than the last few. My creative juices were flowing, and I decided to spend my weekend doing whatever came to mind.  I filmed some hair videos, watched shorts on Vimeo, cooked/baked, made lethal Margaritas, dabbled in stop motion photography, and short film concepts.

Wearing - Shirt: D&G - Skirt/Bracelets: Forever 21 - Belt: Thrifted - Boots/Bag: Downtown L.A Fashion District

Friday, March 26, 2010

Give Me That Hair!! | The Julia Sarr-Jamois Edition + Nars Giveaway!

Oh my. I think I stared at this photo for ten minutes without blinking. I came across her photo while looking for Curlspiration pics; I immediately abandoned the mission, and spent the better part of an hour trying to dig up info on this curly-girl. I absolutely adore her hair and her edgy sense of style. Her name is Julia Sarr-Jamois and she's a 22y/o model-turned-Fashion Editor for Wonderland Magazine. I wish I could recreate this dense, luscious fro, but unfortunately my hair doesn't curl up that tightly. 

In other news, I am close to 200 followers, and I appreciate all of you that tune in and support me with the kind emails, and comments! So for this giveaway, you will have a chance to win my favorite blush [brand new of course]! Taj Mahal by Nars - All you have to do is list your favorite hair product in the comment section below, and I will use Random.Org to select a winner!

The rules are the same as last time, you must be a subscriber, and your entry must be in the comment section by the close of the contest which is 11:59PM April 9th! So this time you have a full week guys! The winner will be announced that following Monday, April 12th!

Good luck to everyone and have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Those Who Danced Were Thought to Be Quite Insane By Those Who Could Not Hear The Music - Angela Monet

As you can tell...I love quotes. One of my favorite quotes is one by Oscar Wilde; he states,  To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. -

So I have a question ladies [and gents], what's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear living, existing & surviving? I would love to hear your thoughts on that. Doesn't have to be lengthy, preferably the first thought that enters your mind.

I'll tell you mine..
Living: Doing what you love. Living in the moment. No restraints. Happy.
Existing: Rules. Boundaries. Restraint. Stagnant.
Surviving: Perseverance. Exhausted. Adversity. Hardships.

{Top: Forever 21 + Pants: Can't remember, I got them from Barney's Co-op +      Purse: Downtown Los Angeles Fashion District + Lipstick: Lustering MAC}

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Garbage Island + Upcycled Hair Candy

When you get a chance, you should definitely check out this video on Garbage Island. I was absolutely disgusted that in this day and age, pollution of this magnitude is able to fly. Furthermore, I find it quite disheartening that this hasn't been reported more. And honestly, it made me a little more aware of how complacent I have become when it comes to recycling.

For those of you that haven't heard about Garbage Island [as I didn't until recently], it's a buildup of trash in the Pacific Ocean so massive, it's the size of [or bigger than] Texas, CNN has describe this floating island as "Chemical Soup". According to studies, approximately 100k sea mammals die each year as a result of this floating debris. Toothbrushes, syringes, toys, and cigarette lighters have been found in the stomach's of dead animals that feast on the trash, as oftentimes they mistake it for food.

I honestly don't know what the answer is. Should the government regulate the production of plastics? Should we force everyone to recycle? It's definitely a touchy subject for some. However I know we can all start somewhere by doing our part, no matter how small it may seem. Start by recycling, and supporting artisans and businesses that sell upcycled goods!

I found Catherinette, a really fab artisan on Etsy [I love that place], that sells the cutest leather hair candy, cuffs, and belt buckles!
You can also create your own upcycled hair candy using some of the techniques from my previous tutorials [You can attach some flower rosettes made out of recylced clothing to headbands etc]. I made the headbands below using strips of jersey fabric [I braided them together, and used a glue gun to secure each edge].

You can make big thick headbands, or tiny ones. The size is determined by the width of the fabric strips you cut. Take some of those old tee's that you didn't want to throw away and make cute little headbands for you and some friends. My buddy Lo definitely has some coming to her!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity - Linda Naiman

 I got an email from one of my readers, and because I felt like we have all been in a creative rut at some time during our lives, I decided to post this question for all to see [with her permission of course].
Dear Nikole,

First let me say how much I love your blog.....what stands out to me is how creative you are with your do it yourself projects, blog topics, jewelry and photography. I am an aspiring artist and I have a hard time really being creative and feeling good about my work. Did you take any classes? Is there something I can do because I feel uninspired right now. HELP!

MT (from Maryland)
I think we all have our times where we feel uninspired, I personally feel like that from time to time. To be honest, I needed a boost of inspiration last week because I just felt out of it. I think that is perfectly normal. The key is to not let your feelings debilitate progress. You have to learn how to snap-out-of-it sort to speak. When I run into a creative stumbling block I usually do a few things;

 - Organize my workspace
 - Relax. Take about 5 minutes to just sit. Try not to plan, or deliberate on the days events. I find it best if I have a clear mind prior to pursuing any creative task

  - Break the monotonous cycle - If you take the same way home everyday, take a different way. If you normally start working on projects during the day, start at night. Listen to different music, the avenues for change are endless. Open your eyes to new sights, and your ears to new sounds. I have to switch things up occasionally because repetition really bores me.

- Don't be afraid to break the rules - I really used to be stuck on "rules" on "precedents", the "who did it before me and how they did it". Now don't get me wrong, I do believe there is a right and wrong way to do things within reason. However, from my experience I am normally in my most creative state when I am able to practice free thought.
- Let go of needing to have it perfect - I missed out on so many opportunities because I had to have everything perfect. It doesn't sound like a bad problem to have, however if I were to look back at the projects I started [that were never completed, or scrapped completely] they all have one very common denominator. I felt they weren't good enough. It didn't matter the hours, weeks, or days I put into a project, I always found an excuse NOT TO LAUNCH it. If you keep striving for perfection before you complete something, you may never complete it. Looking back on it, it wasn't that I was producing crappy work, I was just afraid of failure. Which leads me to my next tip.

- Don't be afraid to fail - I hate the word fail. I like to refer to it as learning. When some are afraid to fail, they are hesitant on taking that next step. Being creative and stepping out on your own takes faith! You must really close your eyes and step out on that limb even though a safety net isn't guaranteed. Furthermore, you can't be afraid of falling. I look at it like this, if I fall, I get back up and I am better equipped to do it much better next time.

- Choose your friends wisely - This is a touchy one. Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there that are very comfortable with the status quo. So much so that anyone out there that has beliefs other than their ideologies are looked at as radicals, or dreamers [and oftentimes we aren't supported by those friends]. I don't know how many times I have shared dreams with friends and have heard: "girl, you crazy".

I truly believe that we should try to position ourselves around people and places that exude positive energy. Try to build with like minds, it's always good to exchange ideas with others that can offer a fresh new perspective on things.

- Be yourself, everyone else is already taken - Don't try to duplicate something someone has already done. If you like it, use it as inspiration. Do your interpretation of what inspires you, as you will surely have a different take on it. You will appreciate it a lot more, and so will your audience.

- It's ok to be inspired by others - It gets the creative juices flowing! Start an inspiration board if you haven't already. I have an inspiration sketchbook I take with me everywhere, in it I have tearsheets, scribbles, fabric swatches, doodles, and random pictures. I find it easier to look at pictures to get inspiration vs making a list of all the things I want to do.

Check out some of these cool inspiration boards/work-spaces I found.

I hoped this has helped you, or others out there that are trying to work through that creative rut. Also, here are a few books that I recommend checking out in your spare time;

The Creative Habit - Learn It and Use It For Life

Monday, March 22, 2010

Calling all Daring Cooks: Chicken Tikka Masala w/Aloo Gobi & Vegetable Biryani

I absolutely do not know what possessed me to try such a feat on a Sunday night. For some reason I devised an ambitious plan to cook an entire Indian meal at 7PM. Now don't get me wrong, the meal was absolutely delicious, just not something I would ever do at that hour again. Dinner wasn't served until 10:30PM.

I didn't realize just how involved this whole undertaking would be, however it made me enjoy it all the more! This is a great menu for entertaining guests, and could quite possibly be an impressive meal for a dinner date. You just have to promise me that you really like him [you have to really like him to slave in the kitchen that long, but if food is the way to a man's heart, this is definitely the meal to cook] because I would hate to see you go through the trouble for any old Joe.

I would like to point out that I adapted this recipe to my liking from various sources. You can omit veggies, etc, but I would recommend using the spices listed in the recipe, as it lends to the authentic flavor of Indian cooking. I suppose after cooking this a few more times I could get the time down to an an hour-and-a-half [which is still long in my book]. - If you are going to attempt this meal, I would suggest getting all of your herbs/spices from an Indian or Asian market, as they are much cheaper.

RICE TIP: Because Basmati rice is super starchy, I would recommend soaking the rice for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. [Overnight is ideal] - Also, make sure you "wash" the rice well after soaking. Use cold water to wash the rice over a sieve, you want to do this until the water is clear.

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