February 28, 2012

DIY: Button Earrings

I found these buttons upstairs in my jewelry box that I saved from an old pea coat. I also happened to find some gold earring-backs in my mom's gallery. One of the many nice things about being back home in NJ for Spring break. I don't stumble upon anything all that inspiring in my tiny studio apartment back in Ann Arbor. Ever.  But, anyways, I thought they would make great earrings. After toying with every glue that exists pretty much, I realized that simple hot glue works the best. And within minutes (well, actually all day after struggling with glue) I had a new pair of earrings.

Then, of course, I had to make more. So I figured out a way to make my own buttons with wooden studs (sold at Michael's) and some fun fabric that I cut out of an old patched-work shirt that I bought a million years ago and never wore. I don't have pictures of the process, but basically, you just cut out small squares of fabric, wrap them around the wooden studs and do all of the gluing in the back. The goal is to make a bunch (along with  whatever else I can manage making) to sell in an art show this Summer.  I'm already in love with DIY as it is, but DIY projects are even more great when you are not only saving money, but making money, too.

February 22, 2012

Frustrations of a Curly Girl


Just a few things I've noticed since the BC that have made me frustrated at times with having curly hair. Who knew "natural hair" could cause so much drama?

one: Hair Etiquette
What NOT to say to curly girls.

I feel like afros just invite people to break all rules of politeness. I am not a very uptight person, so I won't hold a grudge, but there are some things you probably shouldn't do or say to someone with curly hair.  Here are some things that come across as offensive or irritating to me at least. 

This seems like it would be obvious. Especially for people who you wouldn't normally be touching anyway. This doesn't happen to me too often, but it happens. I realize it's usually meant to be flattering, like, "your hair is so cool that I need to touch it," but it is still very irritating. It is totally different if I invite you to touch my hair, but unless you ask or unless I ask... uninvited touching of anyone's hair is probably a no-no, and it messes up the curls!

"You don't wash your hair everyday?"
No. The only people who need to wash their hair every day, or every other day, are people with slippery oily hair. My hair is the opposite of oily, and washing/shampooing my hair completely strips my hair of any drops of natural oils or moisture I already don't have. I wash my hair at most twice a week, but usually just once every 7-10 days because that is all it needs. 

Words like: Frizzy, Nappy, Poofy
There are very few ways to use these words in unoffensive ways. Rarely do I hear these words used positively when directed at other people. One of my little sisters wears her hair in a curly pony tail very often and I hear family members pressure her into going to the salon and getting a blow out, or saying her hair is looking nappy all the time. They don't mean it to be offensive, but it is still very hurtful and I can tell it makes her feel very unpretty and ashamed of her natural texture. DON'T remind curly girls of their hard-to-handle frizz, and don't mislabel beautiful curls (that take hours to form) as frizz either, because what you consider frizzy, nappy, or poofy, may be the ideal curl for someone else. 

two: Texture Wars
"S*** curly girls say to relaxed girls" (and the other way around)

There seems to be this overarching animosity between people who choose to wear their hair natural and people who choose to relax or texturize their hair. This seems silly because a lot of curly girls have JUST gone natural (like me), meaning, not too long ago did I have a relaxer in my hair as well. Everyone has their reasons for doing their thing and no one's reasons are more or less valid than anyone else's. I don't think naturals think that they are better than relaxed girls, but I do think that many girls who choose to go natural feel a sense of self liberation afterwards. Yes, it is just hair, but hair carries the weight of many connotations and for many people, the act of doing something different with their hair can be the marking of a new chapter in their lives. 

The  confidence natural girls may get after going natural doesn't come from simply chopping their hair, it comes from being in a personal state that is better than it was when they themselves were relaxed. The act of going natural itself doesn't lead to self actualization, but I think reaching a point in my life where I am more confident and comfortable with myself is reflected in the act of cutting off my hair to go natural. But, going natural is by no means the holy marker of enlightenment. Nothing is. There is also a fine line between pressuring people into doing something and encouraging people to do something.  BUT, I can see encouragement easily turning into pressure if you are constantly on your friend's case about "Why don't you go natural? You are killing your hair. Your hair will never grow if you keep relaxing it," and dot dot dot. Being honest, I miss my relaxed hair sometimes. 

I think one of the problems is that we keep thinking of people as a "we." We assume every natural or relaxed person is the same, and that's not the case. Every head of hair belongs to an individual with their own thoughts and priorities. Just because one relaxed or curly girl gave you lip one day, doesn't mean everyone is like that. So we can either choose to be critical of each other or we can just be supportive of each other, which I think takes a lot less effort.

three: A Naptural Fad
"Natural Hair is the new Light Skin"

I read an article titled "Natural Hair is the New Light Skin." Even just the title is irritating. Maybe because I am light skinned, but also because all of the connotations associated with natural hair and light skin and "is the new..." So pretty much, simply letting your hair grow out your head and simply existing as a shade of tan is "trendy." If something is a trend it means people are actively going out of their way to do it. I am not going out of my way to have my hair texture or skin color. The light skin/dark skin topic is another discussion since this is about curly hair frustrations, but I think referring to natural hair as being a fad is kind of demeaning. 

Maybe going natural is a fad in the sense that more and more women are turning to natural styles, but at the same time, calling it a fad undermines all of the thought that goes into going natural along with all of the work involved in maintaining a natural head of hair. If it is a fad, all the woman choosing to go natural will soon enough go back to relaxers and I don't think that will be the case. And isn't calling natural hair a fad backwards? The only time natural hair is considered a fad is if you have naturally kinky/curly/textured hair. If I had naturally straight, Caucasian looking hair and had been getting a curly perm my whole life and then decided to go natural, would this still be considered a fad? Maybe getting relaxers was "the fad" that is now fading. Besides, back in the day, fro's were the norm. 

four: The Naptural Statement
Hair politics?

This kind of goes along with the fad idea but instead of turning natural hair into something to sneer at, it turns natural hair into a political statement. Maybe for some people the act of going natural is held as a political statement or regarded as some form of activism towards a larger cause, and in many ways, I can see why this is. When people have asked me why I decided to go natural, I tended to describe going natural as a movement. I still do kind of see it as a movement and as a positive shift in the norm. 

I realize, though, that some people have been natural their whole lives and that not every textured hair person has been relaxed or has wanted to be relaxed. Some people just simply like their hair, period. I think calling natural hair a statement, is ascribing meaning that may or may not actually be there for some people. Just because you meet a girl who's got some twists in, doesn't mean she's got a "down with the system" philosophy stirring under her roots. I don't think it's wrong to see natural hair as a kind of collective movement, because it does function as a type of movement, shifting the norms in the way movements are geared to do. It can be a problem, though, to assume that just because someone doesn't like perms or doesn't perm their own hair, means that he/she thinks a certain way or is actively wearing a political flag on their head 24/7. 

five: Stereotyping
Surprise! I eat meat.

This could totally be in my head, but I feel like lots of people assume there is a certain lifestyle (or race/ethnicity) that comes with curly hair. But, not really.  

I am not a vegetarian. I have no problem with vegetarianism. I think it can be a good thing and I think it's important to preach and spread the word (in a polite way) about what you believe in, but I am not a vegetarian. For the longest time I didn't know why everyone says I "look like a vegetarian." My question was always "what do vegetarians look like?" I didn't picture me. But after listening to Those Girls Are Wild and A Curls Best Friend talk about hair etiquette (video below), I was like "Could it be my fro?" Maybe it's not, but I don't think as many people (if anyone) assumed I was a vegetarian when I had straight hair. Hm...

The Biracial Thing. I don't know if this fits here. But sometimes I feel like people who wear their hair naturally curly are either assumed to be mixed or kind of get put down for being mixed. Just because I am mixed doesn't necessarily mean it is easier for me to wear my hair curly. The other day I was talking about hair with my aunt and a cousin (who are both black) and she asked "well is your hair really black hair?" She obviously didn't mean to sound divisive, but it still got me thinking. I still have to wash, detangle, part, apply product, apply oils. The end results may be different, but all the motions are the same no matter what texture you are. Also, not everyone with curly hair is mixed, and that is an assumption I have been guilty of as well. One of my college friends who wears her hair natural happens to be a lighter complexion and I always assumed she was mixed. One day I asked her and she said no, both her parents are black. And like a moron I acted all surprised, like many people probably do. And I realize how obnoxious that must be, stereotyping curls as being biracial. We shouldn't assume that curly haired people can pull off curly hair only because they are mixed, and we shouldn't say that biracial hair "doesn't count" either. A curl is a curl. 

Those Girls are Wild and A Curls BF sum everything up nicely in their video about curly hair etiquette. See what they have to say below:

February 18, 2012

My First Overnight Roller Set

 Photo credit: folica.com

The other night I took a spontaneous trip to Sally's Beauty and got a couple packs of the Salon Care Snap On Rollers. I've never used rollers -- not even when I had relaxed hair, so I was curious to see how they would work on my hair. Especially after seeing everyone else's amazing results on YouTube with curlformers and curl rods. I don't have enough length yet to invest in any of that, so I just went cheap and got these plastic rollers that were on sale for a couple dollars a pack. I got them in small (blue) and medium (purple). I slept with them in (which was hard to do) and took them out the next morning before I left for work and they were totally dry.

The Process:

Before securing the curlers, I washed and conditioned my hair, towel dried, and then moisturized with Kinky Curly Knot Today. I parted it into 6 sections and brushed each section with my Denman brush, combing a tiny bit of the Kinky Curly Curling Custard into each section. I really did not go heavy with this product. This is my first time using it and I've heard that if you put it on too heavy, you can get crunchy results. Since I was already using curlers I wasn't worried about having too strong of a hold because I wanted bouncy curls.

Before bed, I just loosely wrapped my hair with a silky scarf. Finding a way to sleep comfortably...was a challenge. But it probably just takes some getting used to, and at least there's no use of heat this way. 

The next morning:

Here are how the curls looked after gently taking off the rollers. I rubbed coconut oil on my fingertips when taking the curlers out and when separating/fluffing in order to reduce frizz.

The Results:

This is how my hair looked directly after separating and fluffing the curls. I was very happy with it! My hair was probably softer than it has ever been when curly and it wasn't crunchy at all. Next time I may actually use a little more styling product to give it a bit of a stronger hold. Even with using very little product, it still held pretty well and a lot of the curls made it until the next day. I did touch up a couple of curls with a curling iron  I haven't yet used the Kinky Curly Curling Custard on a wash and go or under a diffuser, but I will try that next time I wash it. 

How it held up at the end of the day:


February 14, 2012

Doing V-day a little differently

Most Valentine's Days are very predictable. Red roses. Hallmark Cards. Box of chocolates. Dinner Date. Teddy bears. Jewelry maybe. Some people like all of that because it's classic and traditional, but I think unconventional is more fun in most situations -- V-day included. So, I found some ways to spruce up the basic Valentine's Day elements we expect every year to make them a little less expected. I've also tried to stay away from the traditional Reds and Pinks that go hand in hand with the predictability.

The Flowers

Eco Friendly Bouquet
DIY, greendiary.com
I love DIY flower bouquets. I feel like they have been growing in popularity. I've seen bouquets similar to this one used in weddings, even. Other than paper flowers, I've also seen them made out of buttons, food, and rolled up undies even. A fun way to lighten things up a bit -- and be eco friendly if you use thrift/recycled items.  Greendiary.com has the step-by-step process to creating a great eco friendly bouquet. 

The Card

DIY Thumbprint Hearts

So, I realize this is an engagement announcement card and not a Valentines day card. But, you get the idea. I think thumbprint hearts are such a simple and personal way to decorate any home made card. Even if you do rely on Hallmark to write out your loving thoughts, a quick thumbprint heart stamp will make the "I Love You" at the end a little more heart warming. Ink pads probably work best, but I wouldn't doubt markers or paint, either. If done well, home made cards usually seem more sincere, and why not put a little effort into creating a card for the one you love?

The Gift

Grown Under Glass Bubble Bath
$48, Anthropology

Not everybody does gifts on V-day, but, when people do exchange gifts, it always has to be jewelry, cologne, perfume, and Teddy bears. These things are all nice, but also risky. Most of the time it's hard to really know what pieces of jewelry someone will genuinely like or will actually ever wear and I think it's equally as hard to know what exactly someone will prefer to smell like everyday. I think fancy, or not so fancy depending on your budget, bubble bath and/or bath salts make good (romantic) gifts. They work as a gift for your girlfriend or boyfriend, depending on the bottle really. If you think the packaging for bath salts is too feminine for a guy-gift, you can also just repackage the salts in a glass jar or some other container. It's a gift she/he will be sure to enjoy, because you can safely assume that she/he bathes or showers regularly.

The Chocolate

Heart Shaped Coconut Macaroons

Believe it or not, not everyone is crazy about chocolate. Especially not the chocolates that usually come in the big heart shaped box of chocolates we are all used to seeing. Boxes of chocolate can be fun because you never know what you'll get -- but at the same time, we all kind of do know what we're going to get, from getting it every year. I know I always like the coconut filled ones and never eat the rest of them. For coconut lovers like me, I think these coconut macaroons are a perfect alternative to chocolate. There are always ways to prepare them gluten free, too. I will be trying out a coconut macaroon recipe I found on allrecipes.com with my boyfriend tonight. (He doesn't know yet).

The Dinner

Heart Shaped Sushi

If you have any confidence in your cooking abilities, you can try making Holly's Helping's heart shaped sushi. I have never made sushi, so I can't vouch for how simple or difficult it is. But however it turns out aesthetically, I'm sure it will at least still taste good. Also, there are plenty of restaurants that offer Valentine's day special sushi on their menus, too. Other than being creative with dinner entrees, instead of just doing dinner you might want to add in some other kind of flare. Maybe dinner and salsa dancing or murder mystery dinner -- anything with a special touch to make it a dinner date to remember. 


February 10, 2012

Winged Walls

The other day I stopped by my cousin's house for another one of our occasional get work done/study cram sessions. She recently switched bedrooms with another roommate -- inevitably leading to a new look. For a decorative touch, she cut out butterflies out of old sheet music and hung them up over her bed. These butterflies are a cute, easy and creative way to add a little texture and color to a plain white wall, so I thought I would share.

February 9, 2012

A New Do

Instead of dedicating an hour or so of my day off to washing my hair, I cut the hair time to about 10 minutes and messed around with scarves/hair bands instead. This is what I came up with. I've used this scarf to do a similar look in the past, but it was more scrunched to look like a normal headband without covering as much hair in the back. I like it this way better though because it shows off more of the pattern and can be used as a semi protective style. My hair was looking pretty poofy, so I touched up my bangs with a 1/2" curling iron to make my bangs a little more bouncy and crazy. Overnight curlers or twists could work, too, if you're a no-heat person. I also let some hair stick out around the sides so it wouldn't look so neat. I'll definitely be resorting to styles similar to this one as my hair continues to awkwardly grow out. I wasn't the only one who liked it either (which happens sometimes with lots of things). I got many compliments!


February 2, 2012

Hair Update

From This....                                      To This...

                                  May 2011                                                                                              February 2012  (9 months later)

It's only one month into the new year and I'm already miles behind on some of my resolutions. Luckily,  hair grows on its own without me having to do much of anything. So if I actually come through with any of my resolutions, it will probably be 6" of hair growth by next year.

After my big chop, I had about an inch of hair on my head (if that -- it was super short as you can see).Now, my longest hairs near the top of my head measure to be around 5" while the shorter hairs are around 4". Either the stylist cut it kind of choppy, or different sections of my hair grow at different rates because it's definately not all even. I guess that is one of the beauties of curls...uneven ends don't really make much of a difference.

I forgot to measure it in the beginning of January, but it's definately grown quite a lot since my BC back in May. Now that it's a bit longer I'll probably try some new styles. Twists were nearly impossible and very tedious several months ago...but now I can manage sectioning my hair into about 6-8 parts without much of a struggle, which means less work for me! Generally, I haven't been very patient when I've done twists and didn't let them dry entirely before taking them down so they have never turned out very well. One of these days I'll leave them in over night and post my results. 

Whenever I feel like my hair hasn't grown an inch, or I feel impatient, it's always somewhat shocking (and reassuring) to look at pictures of me 9 months ago!