Friday 25 February 2011

Buy Pass

I never thought *not* spending money would be difficult, but here I am, having trouble with my buying ban.
I saw some Cassia in the health food store that I've been going to for the past two years.

Sod's Law says I would notice it when I'm not allowed to buy anything any more.

The Faerie and I were in Home Bargains (yes, Home Bargains of the cheap variety. I love it for various, naan-bread related reasons).

Me: Is that Original Source Almond and Coconut Conditioner? I - I haven't been able to find it anywhere!
The Faerie: I thought you were on a buying ban
Me: But - but it's only a pound! IT'S ONLY ONE POUND!!
The Faerie: Yes, but you're not supposed to be buying hair products.

I can't hear her, since I'm tenderly rubbing my face up against the bottle and near drooling by this point.

Me: *dreamily* Apparently, it's full of deliciously scrummy proteins.
The Faerie: *steely-eyed*....If you don't step away from that bottle, I will kick you.

She does Tae Kwon Do and Mixed Martial Arts.

And I am a pacifist, so the odds are weighed heavily in her favour.

Sometimes, having your friends support you seriously stinks.

Thursday 24 February 2011

Chicken Quesadillas

This is another recipe I got from my first year as an undergraduate, from my first American flatmate. She also gave me the recipe to the only Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough I will eat, but that's another post for another day.

Serves: 4 people,  ( or 3 Ravenous people)
Preparation time: 20 minutes (I chop slowly!) 
Cooking time: 1 hour (to do all of them)

This dish is both simple and simply delicious.
Spicy seasoned and moist chicken fillets, combined with vegetables with a little bit of bite left in them - all smothered in molten (in my case, lacto-free) cheese, and encased in a crunchy, crisp tortilla wrap...Oh, it's delightful! It's aromatic, it's filling and it's actually delicious. If you're not a fan of chicken, mushrooms are a brilliant replacement, or Quorn pieces.
 If you're feeling a little bit wild, throwing in some jalapenos gives this dish a wicked kick if heat.
Three single portions are just on the right side of filling, though I felt so sleepy after, so work was not longer an issue.
I especially love to make it when I have friends over, because it's such a lovely dish to share, so when The Faerie said she was coming back to uni from her Christmas holidays yes, this post is that old), I thought, what better dish to welcome her back with?
After I started making them, it occurred to me that I should probably let her have some too.

The things I do for my friends.

The way I eat my quesdillas is throwing the vegetables in at the end, so they're lovely and crisp and crunchy. If the idea of biting into a nearly raw onion or pepper breaks you out in hives, just throw the vegetables in with the chicken at the beginning!

8 Flour tortillas
2 Chicken fillets, chopped (about 225g)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Half of a yellow onion, sliced
Half of a red pepper, chopped into bite sized pieces
Half of a yellow pepper, also chopped into bite sized piece
Half of red onion, diced
500g cheese (A 75/25 mix between cheddar and Caerphilly gives a nice texture)
4 teaspoons Fajita seasoning
You can make your Fajita Seasoning by mixing:
1 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder

First step consists of sorting out the chicken. If you forgot to chop it, do it now *sigh, rolls her eyes and checks her watch*

I kid.
Then season generously with the fajita seasoning and rub it into the chicken. If you can, try and leave it for up to an hour for the flavours of the spices to develop properly.


Heat a little of the oil in a frying pan (large enough to hold a tortilla) over a medium high heat and, when hot, throw in the sliced yellow onion and sauté for a minute to flavour the oil.
Then throw in the chicken and cook for about 10 minutes, or until done.
(Reminder that if you don't like crunchy, near raw vegetables, now is the time to throw them in the frying pan)

 Lots of quesadilla lovers suggest blackening the chicken to really get the flavours out.

But when you live in a student flat with alarms designed to pick up a smoke particle from a piece of toast two minutes in the future, that's not the greatest idea.

Or if your kitchen vent is rubbish, you end up getting smoked instead of the actual chicken in the pan. Not cool.

Anyway. When the chicken is done, transfer them and the onions to a plate out of the pan.

Okay, so I managed a little blackening.

Rub a little more of the oil around the frying pan and then add one of the tortillas.
If you're making a single portion, which is a lot easier to do that a double portion, sprinkle cheese on half of the tortilla.

After about a minute, the cheese should start melting, at which case, you then throw on some of the vegetables, and the cooked chicken.

Then, you sprinkle more cheese over side with the vegetables and chicken. Basically, don't do like me and forget how to make it, thus sprinkling cheese on the wrong side:

Anyway, when you have not made my mistake, you flip the naked tortilla side over the chicken/cheese/vegetable side. I would have a picture, but I tried to flip, snap and catch at the same time and managed to drop my phone and spatula at the same time.
Multi-tasking is not for the weak!

Flip the entire tortilla, so that side you just flipped over is now at the bottom, so that the newly sprinkled cheese can also melt. I have an after shot, of the cheese oozing out the crease. 
Thar you go:

After about 1 - 2 minutes, that side should be suitably brown and you can take it off the heat and do again 7 more times if you want!

However, if you want to do them a little bit faster and a lot more bigger, you can do what I call double portions (though most recipes will use this as the default. You basically do the same thing as above, but over the entire thing.

So cheese is sprinkled over the entirety of the tortilla, along with the chicken and vegetables:

And then the cheese is sprinkled on top all over.

And then - Whoa! What have I done?!

Worry not, you just place another whole tortilla on top. You let the bottom brown for about 2 - 3 minutes so that when flip it over it's lovely and toasted like so:

Turning it over by yourself is difficult - you probably need two spatulas and maybe another entire person to help you. Things will fall out. But it's okay because you just shove them back in with your magic spatula.

You don't need to make everything at once - you can keep the chicken and vegetables int he fridge and do it all again. 

But I was hungry...

So hungry!

It's like those old Jaffa cake adverts...

"Full Moon..."

"Half Moon!!

"Total Eclipse!"

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Hair Smoosh/Faux Shaved Sides and Twists

My massive flat twist had a good week long run, but I had to take it down over the weekend when it started to get a bit frizzily.

Fear  my frizzy powers! OOoooo-aahahhaaa!

Then there was an event that literally had me pull my entire hairstyle out because I was so darn stressed.
Note to self: Drunk flat mates are a pain in the butt and head.

For some reason, I'm a bit obsessed with looking like one side of my head is shaved without actually shaving it.
Due to the poof of my hair, this is usually only possible when I'm in twists, because I usually two strand twist the twists on one side and then flip the middle over to the other side where the hair is still hanging.

To be honest, I think it looked better when I had shorter hair and some of the mid-twists stuck up, giving more attitude to the style.

 After I'd de-tangled my dry hair with Vatika Oil and co-washed with Tresemmé Naturals Nourishing and then applied some masque as a moisturiser (The prohibition is hitting me hard). I twisted one side of my hair whilst it was damp, aiming so that it purposefully fell to one side.
This time, to make the faux-shaved bit look more convincing, I attempted to do flat twists, just three on the side of my head.
I watched the happygirlhair tutorial as I did attempted my first one because I don't know how to flat twist.

*gasp* An African girl who doesn't know how to do hair?

I know. What an unfortunate stereotype deflection.

I was quite pleased with the first flat twist, which you can see as the big fat one just under the hair clip.

Not so much with the next one. And the third one was just plain hilarious. It's like. Hair smoosh

But overall, I like the style.
However, the size of my flat twists was miscalculated - here's a comparison between it and one of my ordinary two strand twists.

Wow. [Insert witty size comment here].

Saturday 19 February 2011

A singer like Adele

For once in my life, I am genuinely trying to do some of my university-concerned work.

And then this performance came on to the radio.

James Cordon's introduction is incredibly spot on.

She exudes class and grace and the emotion in her voice reminds me of singers such as Ella and Etta.

Dammit Adele, how am I supposed to get any work done when you're making me want to cry?!

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Challenge Check-In (and Purchase Prohibition)

Oooh, I do love alliterative titles!

So, I took my twists out on Friday and  literally wore a scrunchie'd ponytail under a hat for two days.
Then today I finally got some time to wash and the like.
I did a protein treatment this morning, a bit different from my usual:
  1. 1 beaten egg (£0.98 for 6 = £0.16)
  2. A tablespoon of  deep conditioner, L'oréal Elvive Nourish and Shimmer (in the golden tub). It has golden glitter bits in it, which probably explains why it's marketed towards highlighted hair. (Eh, I got this for free, but technically, it costs £4.98 for 300ml. 1ml = 1.7p and 18ml = 30.6p)
Total cost: £0.47p
Anyhoo. It was a bit thicker than normal, which was nice, as it meant the egg didn't drip everywhere like last time and my neck didn't end up getting glazed over. I emulsified it in my hand, to make sure the conditioner mixed well with the egg and slowly worked it through my (dry) hair. Put on a shower cap and my satin scarf,  then I cleaned up my room and kitchen area, so it was on for about an hour or so. I rinsed out then washed with some Curls Cleansing Cream sample that I have (I *love* the smell so much!)

My ends were very tangled from leaving some protein conditioner in over the weekend. I'll have to rectify that with a bit more moisture later on.

My colour's gotten a lot brighter and more noticeable - which means it'll probably have faded out in the next month ¬_¬

At the moment, it in two flat twist all the way around my head. I made a part on the right side, and then flat twisted anti-clockwise (towards the left) until I got to the back of my head.
And then I flat twisted the remaining section (rather badly) until it also reached the back of my head.

At the back, where the two ends meet, I've continued the twist on and then tucked it under, in a make shift bun.

I feel a bit Billy Holliday-esque.
Technically, it's still twists. Just two really big ones. I used some of MyHoney Child Type 4 creme sample to do them, but because it was on damp hair, I got a mild case of the fuzzies up top. I definitely prefer it fo hold rather than slickin'.
At this point, I may end up trying out some flaxseed gel this weekend.

I've been eating a lot of veggies (and thus coming to the conclusion that grey mushroom omelette is not to my liking) and bellydancing and netballing away to keep my fitness levels decent and my blood pumping.

As well as the other points of Loo's 3in6challenge, I've also put myself on a restriction as far as buying hair products is concerned.
I've often allowed myself to spend a ridiculous amount of money on hair products, because, you know, I'm experimenting, y'know? Getting to know my hair! I'm making up for the lost time in not having been able to make my own hair choices at 16 and actually do the darn thing myself until I was 17. I love using that excuse of 'Well, I wasn't allowed to touch my own hair for 18 years! I got a lot of making up to do!" and splashing out on a bottle of conditioner that costs £10. But they're just excuses. And since I'm never really sure what I'm looking for in certain products until I find it, I'll keep splashing out and spending money that I just can't afford.
My shelf is burgeoning under the weight of various oils and powders and foodstuffs that I abandoned in favour of more commercial products. I kid you not, I have 3 bottles of coconut oil on my shelf. FOUR! And I've spent money on them all, yo. And after having to pay for the salon 'experience' a couple of weeks ago, my budget has been blown so far out the water, it'd be cheeky to even try and call it a fish any more.
So, another aspect of my challenge is to use up the hair products I have left and then home make the alternatives until my account balances out (which will probably be sometime in the middle of August, I kid you not). As part of my challenge, I'll also be documenting how much each home-made treatment cost me.
Here are all the products currently sitting on my shelf at this very moment in time:

2 x 500ml of Trésemme Naturals Nourishing Conditioner

20ml of Aussie Moist Shampoo
30ml of Bee Mine Avocado Cream Shampoo 
A small bit of Anita Grant's Organic Sapote and Coconut Pomade
A small amount of MyHoneyChild Type 4 Creme
40ml of Curls Cleansing Cream
185g of Fantasia IC Hair Polisher Styling Gel
200ml L'oréal Elvive's Nourish and Shimmer
100ml Inecto Coconut Oil Conditioner


75ml of Vatika Oil
200ml of Vatika Oil
80g of Amla Powder

50g Shikakai Powder
250g Coconut Oil
200g cocoa butter
200g shea butter
A lot of essential oils
300g flaxseeds (I refuse to eat them, eek!)
500ml molasses (again, I won't eat it. That stuff is fierce, yo).

20g Lavender
100g Horsetail Herb
80ml Vegetable Glycerine
5g of silk proteins
I'm also waiting on a AOGPB sample as well.

Heh. I think I should be good for a while.

This isn't all of it, by the way ¬_¬

Monday 14 February 2011

Happy Love Day!

I'm not usually a fan of Valentine's Day because I don't understand it *shrug* but I phoned my mama anyway because she's really into it. She was amused at me and basically told me to get going with my 'real' Valentine ?_?
And The Wonder Thing got me one of the Glee albums! But I didn't know, so I didn't get him anything. 
I'm a bad person....

However, I also a bad person with a Glee album!


I'm stating facts.

Some of my single friends have been side-eyeing the red hearts that have appeared in the shops and whining about not having anything to do.

Me: Why don't you all just hang out together?
*Friends look at each other as though they only just remembered the other exists*
Friends: Oh yeah!! We should do that! That'll be fun.

I hope you have/had fun and someone showed you love in some form!

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Glee Recap: Season 2, Episode 4

Can you guess what the theme of the latest episode is yet? *Rolf Harris style wobble board*

Of course, duets means partnering up with someone and in high/secondary school, and the majority of duets tend to be love songs or send out a particular message about the participants relationship....Oooh, this is going to get interesting!

Wednesday 2 February 2011

Challenges Galore!

Everyone seems to be posting a challenge nowadays!

Well, okay, not everyone, but there are three challenges currently going on that I'm acutely aware of that other people may be interested in:

Nikole of Moptop Maven was having a healthy hair challenge based on different product usage: Homemade/D.I.Y, traditional store bought products and Ayurvedic herbs - unfortunately, she is ill in the hospital at the moment according to her blog comments and has been for a month, so obviously the challenge is suspended, as we pray for her recovery. Get well soon, Nikole!

Loo of Healthy Hair and Body is having a 3in6 twist challenge that I'm also a part of (Challenge Junkie!). The aim is to retain 3 inches in 6 months
Check ins are every two weeks and it lasts for - well, 6 months.
The challenge is more in depth than simply treating your hair from the outside - as well as keeping your hair in twists, there are conditions including and healthy eating.
I don't know if battered fish, chips and beans is healthy eating.
Probably not.
But that was yesterday! Back on the wagon! *shifty look*
She has an entire Twist series on maintaining and caring for the hair whilst in twists if you want to have a look at it too!

And now Curly Nikki is having a Grow Out Challenge in association with Kim Coles and Jessicurl, who are sponsoring monthly give aways to people who are taking part in the challenge. However, it is not twist based, and Curly Nikki has also posted up tips for creating your individual regime for the Grow Out Challenge.
It's going to last for 6 months
I'm not a part of it, because the rules are pretty similar to Loo's challenge and I'm too lazy to keep up with more than one - plus being held more accountable will not shame me into doing right :)

So I guess fortnightly updates are on the cards may be on the cards - and I'll link to other people, so you can see how they're doing too!

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Ungrateful Salon Venture

I went to the salon last Satuday.

It was the 3rd time in my entire life that I have sat down in a hair stylists chair in a hair dressing shop.

Before I continue, I interrupt the ordinary flow of this post to bring you a Latin Proverb:

"A wise man learns by the mistakes of others, a foolish man by his own."

Replace 'foolish man' with 'Simple Thing' and you can kind of see where this is going, yeah?

I only went because I was so darn tired of being blonde. It wasn't even funny, and my student newsletter said this salon do a student discount of 20%. I'm saving money! I thought, so booked an appointment at the salon, had a patch test and set off later that week, in a rush and late to get to my 11:45am appointment.
The Wonder Thing made me run for the bus, goshdarnit. Where does he think we are? London?! Luckily, I knew where the salon was, so was only 5 minutes late. So my first point:

1. Do your research
I'd looked up the price of the treatment I'd wanted, I'd inquired to confirm that the student discount was intact, made sure they knew that they should not expect someone with blonde and silky hair to turn up on the day and I'd also looked up where the salon was, to prevent me running around the city centre like a headless chicken. So that was good.
However, I was cold, because I'd left my house in such a hurry, I didn't even have a coat.
And it is still winter here in England!
Which brings me swiftly to point number 2:

2. When going to a salon, be prepared!
Because I was in a rush, I forget everything - my micro fibre towel, my conditioner (especially as I'm picky about  ingredients), my coat and my dignity behind. And I was naive. I thought they were simply going to put the colour on my hair, rinse it out and let me go on my merry little way.
Not only that,  I'd been testing out a twist out the previous day, so my fringe was a bit tangled, and he went at it with a wide tooth comb. But it was nearly a fine tooth comb.

Which highlights my third point:

3. Please don't be afraid to tell them if you are uncomfortable
You are paying for a service, and hopefully you will get a good one in return. Stylists don't want to hurt you because then you will never come back and their business will shrivel and die and they will end up trying to sell their own hair for a couple of peanuts.
Not cool.
My lovely, lovely hairdresser, when we first started, picked up the smallest comb with the finest teeth I'd ever seen in my life. I freaked out (inwardly) and calmly asked if he had anything bigger.
A lot of people when talking about handling stylists are quite rude, and I'm not very confrontational with provocation and I'm also extremely empathetic, so I don't see any reason to be so aggressive.
Just a polite 'Excuse me, I was wondering if...?" or a "No thank you, I'd rather not" should suffice.
Don't make me get all Victorian lady up in this cottage.
I didn't enjoy the conditioning that I somehow ended up getting after my shampoo - the deep conditioner dried my hair out (a task I'd previously thought impossible) and my stylist kept going out my hair with a (thankfully bigger comb) from the roots downwards.
I told him not to, but occasionally he'd forget and I'd grimace but say nothing.
Hello, point number 4!:

4. Please don't be afraid to ask them what they are doing to your hair and, if necessary, how much it will cost. If necessary, be insistent (on knowing the details, or refusing a service).
I had checked the price before, and the woman at the desk had confirmed it, but she hadn't confirmed it with my stylist, who was lovely, but new, and thus a bit nervous.
And I was nervous as well (he had my head in his hands, you'd be nervous too) so I didn't want to say anything to nark him off and make him give me a green tint.
Green is not my colour.
So when he said "Would you like me to wash it out now?" I was like "Yes please!" I'd been there for an hour and was getting peckish.
But when he washed it out, I didn't realise he also put conditioner in.
And then he asked me if I wanted my hair cut.
I screwed up my face and said "Not really."
Stylist: "Just a small trim off the edges?"
Me: "Er, I guess if there's any split ends, they could get cut off?"
I'm mad paranoid about split ends, yo.
Me: "How much will it cost though?"
Stylist: "Eh, not much."
Me: *thinks* He knows I'm a student, it won't be much *is reassured*
But I didn't get a trim - I got a mini cut (yes, there is a difference). And yes, it got rid of the beach boy surfer from the 90s look I had going on, but I didn't ask for it. Hence, the ungratefulness.

Maybe I *liked* resembling Ben Adams from A1 circa 1999

It's, like, half an inch longer than when I first started this blog. Also, it's not longer just shy of Arm Pit Length. Oh welllll. C'est la vie and all that jazz. 

And "Not much" is very different to different people. I thought £10 maximum on top of my colour (what? I'm naive, I know!) Plus, my point of reference is The Wonder Thing, who usually pays just under £10 to get his hair cut. But he is a boy, and salons charge it differently.

However, back in reality girl land, it would have come to £45 in total *jaw hits floor*

But my student discount came to the rescue and dropped it down to £36.

My colour (which I had originally gone in for) cost £15 before discount, and cost £12 after discount.
Which I was cool with.
But the 'Afro Shampoo/Condition and Cut' I'd also gotten was £30 on top of that, and £24 after discount.
So that was £36.
I said an extremely rude word when I stepped out of the salon and looked at my receipt. Which highlights my penultimate point:

5. If you have a problem, say it in the shop.
And be nice! I didn't say anything at all - I was so shell shocked, I just paid the money and left and commiserated about how I was going to eat for the next week and a half (yes, the money for the extras I hadn't asked for equals how much food I eat in 10 days).
But seeing as they're a salon, if you're brave enough to kick up a fuss, then they'd probably give you some sort of remuneration to prevent you bad mouthing them everywhere and potentially unnerving their waiting customers.
The thing is, the colour? I love it - it's a lot darker and richer than my previous one, so it's difficult for people to see, unless I purposefully do a style that allows them to see it. So if it had been left at that, I could have honestly and openly said it was an awesome salon experience.
And the cut is nice. I just didn't want it because I was growing out my front layers.
But the shampoo and conditioning which I hadn't asked for? And which hadn't helped my hair at all? And then I paid twice as much for the colour that I liked?!
But I didn't say anything. And because I like the colour, and the cut's okay but I hated everything else, I wasn't quite sure how to mention it.
In fact, I'm still not, so I decided to blog about it instead!

And my last point?

6. You make the salon experience, not the stylist. 
Obviously, they have to do their best not to make it a nightmare, but if you know they don't know your hair as well as you - like when my stylist put the colour on my hair, the coils and waves were more defined, and he said "Oh, it'd look nicer it was left wavy!" I was side-eyeing like I was Zahara and someone had stolen my sweets. My stylist was sweet, though it wasn't a 'specialist' salon, so he was surprised when I mentioned that Beyoncé's hair was fake. I pointed out that Solange had cut all her hair off, and he said "Yes, but Beyoncé's lighter, isn't she? So I thought her hair wouldn't be like that."
The idea that lighter skin = looser curled hair is just - I just - what! *froths at mouth*
I also saw a baby having their first hair cut =/ He was bawling his eyes out, and some of my friends later remarked it may have been better for the mum to do it at home, rather than taking him to a foreign place and plonking down in front of a stranger wielding sharp and deadly scissors.
But in the end, the salon is a business, and they have to make money. There are ways to be polite as well as assertive - I just need to work on the assertive bit a lot more.
If I had realised how much more the cut was going to cost me, and the fact that I was being charged for the conditioning, rather than naively assuming it was 'part of the service' I'd have walked away a lot happier.
And I think that's why I haven't complained or anything.
Because, you know:

"It's easy to be wise after the event." 

Which is apparently an English proverb, which I'm a bit narked about, because nobody told me that before I went and got my hair done. So it looks like extreme DIY-ing for me, since that salon trip completely and utterly blew my toiletry budget out the water for the next 6 months.
Ooohh, I've always wondered what I would smell like after showering without soap! Mmm....Student Experimentation....

I got home, sulphate washed, deep conditioned for about 10 minutes, oil rinsed and then medium fat twisted with a little bit of hair creme. And that's it! I'm done mucking about with my hair until the 12 of February at least! For this moment in time, after the last week and a bit spent de tangling and mangling and combing - and er, roaming? - my hair, I'm officially tired out with it right now.