Wednesday 27 July 2011

Alternative Soundtrack

Living on this side of the pond can sometimes be depressing - if it's not the weather, it's the politics or the news, with a badly thought out pie attack and ninja wife defence few and far between.

And when you read the various blogs and forums and articles touting the latest product or the must have staple that you can't get your hands on, especially for those that live outside of the bigger cities, it's incredibly depressing.

Thus, I have made a list of some much lauded products (one of which I currently own) and posted them alongside their cheaper or easier to access alternatives, for the girls who don't live in London or have access to a debit card that allows them to buy things off the internet.

So if you're in an area where you are outnumbered by cattle or sheep...

If you're waiting for your next birthday so your national minimum wage will go up or you can finally get a debit card...

If playing 'Spot the Brown Person' is a genuinely difficult game to play in your current location...

Then this list is almost definitely for you!

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Grad Hair

For my hair during my graduation, I decided on plaits/braids like I did last time. I wanted this because I wanted something that I could literally jump out of bed with - no styling, no undoing, no faffery, nothing that I could mess up since my ceremony was early in the morning and I wouldn't have the time.
I did them two days before my ceremony, which was a mistake because they didn't age enough for me to like them on the day. They took me a day to to and the only product I used was my Bee Mine Curly Butter rip off.

To be honest, I didn't really need to worry about the hat fitting on my head since they had a range of hat sizes available.

Because I especially disliked the way my hair was hanging on the right side, I flat rolled it under, but I don't know where the picture of that is and I'm far too lazy to do it again.

My mum wore a gorgeous baby pink gele that drew a lot of attention. She was considering wearing Western clothing, since she'd worn a gele to a wedding the week before and felt a bit self-conscious. However, since I was little she has promised me that when I finally graduate, she'd wear a massive gele that would block the view of spectators behind her to make sure everyone knew that she was my mother.

She looked amazing. People kept coming up to me and asking "Is that your mum in the pink headscarf?" and I would relpy "YEP!"
There was no shame in my mama's game.

I wore Nigerian lace under my gown to match her, despite the fact that the design made me look heavily pregnant in the photos.

The day was pretty fun, even the part where our car broke down on the way home.

My family didn't appreciate this.

Nor did they appreciate getting bitten by the fire ants hidden in the grass.

Like ninjas.

Fire ant ninjas.

I'm planning to leave the braids in until the 1st of August, when I've completed Loo's 3in6 challenge [bwhaha, totally didn't keep up to date with the fortnightly update thing] because they are extremely convenient.

And I am extremely lazy.

Monday 25 July 2011

Mixtress Mischief: Kurly Bella's Detangler

I previously mentioned that I used this detangler to take down my braids and I thought I'd write down a little bit about what I did.

One thing about the original recipe on Kurly Bella's site is that there's no amount of water specified on the site.
So I did the usual and winged it.


250ml (1 cup) of water
1 tablespoon of hibiscus flowers
1.5 tablespoons of marshmallow root
1.5 tablespoons of dried burdock root

I bought many of the raw materials from Anita Grant during my little end of ban splurge.

The hibiscus in the bag came from my local hippy co-operative
I love receiving packages from her - it's like getting a present in the mail from one of your favourite aunts!
Hi Anita!

I started off by putting the water in a pan and bringing it to a gentle simmer, with tiny bubbles everywhere.

I then added the hibiscus flowers, which dyed the water that lovely hue of pink red that is so particular to hibiscus.

I love it, but please be warned that it can seriously stain your clothes and and other materials (like toilet seat covers) really badly and will be the reason I'm losing about 10% of my accommodation deposit.

After simmering for about 5 minutes, I strained the hibiscus tisane into a bowl and added the marshmallow root and burdock roots.

I would later bury the hibiscus flowers in the deepest depths of the night as part of my secret eco-warrior sentiments.

I covered it with some cling film and went off to do something on the computer. We'll pretend it was work, but I was probably blog stalking again.

 After half an hour, I remembered I was doing something in the kitchen and went back to strain out the mixture into a jug.

Filled with curiousity, I sniffed at the assortment of roots tentatively and then recoiled violently.

I will not be doing that again.

When it had cooled, I poured the pink liquid into a 20 fl oz spray bottle for ease of use.

How I used it:

When I was using it to take my braids down, I spritzed the mix liberally over the area I was working on, then used my rat tail comb end to pick out the braid. 

I found it was incredibly useful when it came to slipping out the shed hairs towards the root of the hair without the weird slick greasiness I sometimes get from conditioner, when my finger slips off my hair and I end up thwacking myself in the face various times with the comb and my well conditioned fingers. 

I wish it had made undoing the actual braids easier though *sad face* Despite the fact it wasn't an all round wonder product, it made slipping out the shed hair easy and simple, with a minimal loss of hair.
So I liked it . But I haven't made it again since, because I am lazy. However, now the holidays have started and no-one will employ me, it looks like I have a lot of time on my hands!

Unless you want to employ me. Maybe?

Friday 15 July 2011

Ṣẹ you speak my language?

Hi everyone.

My name is A Simple Thing.

I'm currently learning French at an advanced level and Japanese at an intermediate level, and I occasionally dabble in Korean and Mandarin.

But I have another confession to make (trying to get the Best Of You).

I don't actually speak Yoruba.

That's my embarrassment at my Nigerian fail, and my lacklustre MS Paint picture skills...
It's not that I've never wanted to - my parents never bothered to teach me. I've literally been bugging them since I can remember - "Mummy, teeeach me! Daddy! Please!"

I mean, I can understand it pretty well, and I worked out how to read the tones when I was seven and had to read letters to my grandma, but the writing? The speaking? These other essential parts of communication are severely lacking in my life.

And  when I first started looking a while ago, it seemed that the resources for a comprehensive (and free) guide to learning Yoruba were..well, non-existent.

Although it's recognised nationally as a language in Nigeria, it's not an official language of the country. A distinct lack of famous nature reserves and an unfortunate non lack of political issues means it's not exactly a tourist hotspot. So outside of Nigeria, it's really difficult to learn to speak any Yoruba.

Of course, lack of resources hasn't stopped me from trying to learn it. A year later, I'm still trying.

My biggest inspiration has been a  girl called Cara Titilayo. Here's one of her videos:

Isn't she amazing? My mum watched that video five times, because she was flabbergasted.

I've found some decent resources and I'm combining what is written with the knowledge buried inside the minds of my parents.

My mum actually never studied Yoruba, thanks to the golden education system of her time, but speaks it fluently and far more often than my dad.

I phone her when she's not busy so I can test my pronunciation on her.

She likes it because it's one way of getting her daily laugh.

 My dad studied it and speaks it fluently, so he's a gold mine when I want to ask a question about the technical difficulties, like the alphabet rhymes (a for ajá, b for bàtà etc). 

Again, he gets his fair share of laughs as well (and tells me that my younger cousins would call me 'Mama London' if they heard my accent, which I'm cool with that - it's not like it's a complete fiction).

Sugabelly currently has a language challenge going on where Nigerians post up them talking in their native language with a transcript, but I'm not brave enough to do it.

Instead, what I'm trying to do is stay committed to working me way through one form of internet Yoruba course. Although this one is more detailed, I find the way it's written very confusing, since it uses letter that are not present in the Yoruba dictionary (c, q, x, z) to replace the extra vowels.

Er. No thanks.

So I'm trying to stick to this one instead for this summer whilst waiting for my knee to decide whether or not it wants to stick with me or not.

But doing stuff like this makes me wonder if I'm the only person who is as obsessed with learning languages like this like this - most kids are know are either multilingual thanks to their upbringing or have no interest in another language, which I think is sad. 

I'm fascinated by the constructs of different languages and it blows my mind that people with the resources to learn to communicate and ultimately learn from people from other countries, other cultures, and other places simply don't care.

Then again, I've also been told by many that I'm a nutter for being so obsessed, so I guess it's all a matter of perspective.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

My Sister's (Hair) Keeper

So my family were off to celebrate my uncle's birthday and the Littlest Sis demanded asked if I could assist her with her hair.

I actually LOVE playing in her hair because 1. She lets me and 2. She almost never ever complains.

Plus, unlike when I do my own hair, I can see what I'm doing. It's pure bliss.

I decided that a flat twist out would be the order of the day for my far more glamourous little sister.

I divided her hair into two sections - the top and the bottom.

I tied away with the top and then did four big vertical flat twists on the bottom and when I'd completed them, did the same on the top section. Then I rolled the ends on my funky instant-fun-in-a-packet neon rollers.

Yeah, she's reading the Lush Times....darn product junkie that she is!

Product wise, I think I used some (heavily) diluted Tresemmé Naturals conditioner as de-tangler and leave in and combined it with our newest purchase of Lush's R&B moisturiser and sealant - we went past one a couple of days before, got hooked in by the smell and then couldn't resist purchasing something.

I say 'our' purchase, but being glamourous also seems to mean that the Littlest Sis is permanently broke, so....

Anyhoo. I left it for about an hour and a half (we were in a rush) and then when the hectic atmosphere got too much, I had to pull out the hair dryer to try and persuade the roots that dry was the way to go. I kept it really far away from her head (about 6 inches) and on a low heat, since she has half relaxed and half natural hair and I'm mortally afraid of heat (I don't know if she's transitioning or not. Heck, I don't think she knows!).

We tried to do some pin curls on the front, but we hated them. So we combed them out.

I melted a small bit of coconut oil in my hand and then gently clapped it onto the twists before unravelling them.

Genuinely, the pictures don't do it justice.  I was in envy at the shape because it somehow wound up looking really cute and bob like and I was blown over.
I'll pretend it's my handiwork but she's just really fortunate! It's especially galling considering I hadn't had time to do my hair and ended up with a scarf and a ponytail. 
Her hair was actually amazing.

..until my mum went at it with a brush to 'comb it out'. BAM! Instant puff ball. I have no photographic evidence because I was too distraught at the destruction of my masterpiece and the Littlest Sis was fuming and refused to pose for most photos.

So just take my word for it.

Monday 11 July 2011

Update - and a hair cut

- I was cutting out split ends from my hair and then got frustrated and ended up cutting between 1 - 2 inches from my hair.

- I remembered to take a picture after the massacre impromptu hair cut.

- If you hear someone screaming horrificially in the distance, that means my mum has asked me what I'm doing with my hair for my graduation again.

- I can cross quite a few things off my resolution list now! But I'm far too lazy to do it right now.

- I put my hair in twists for two days. Took them down for my graduation ball and then put them back in the next day.

- I kept those twists in for two weeks. Since I was doing a placement, the twists were just on my head in what little high bun I could muster. My lazy initiative has spread to my hair care practises.

- I thought I would be avant garde and experiment with sulphates and cones this summer. After my carefully applied hibiscus colour was taken out by a colour care shampoo and I ended up with a haystack, this plan has been scrapped indefinitely. I was literally saved by applying liberal amounts of (The Littlest Sis') R&B moisturiser - me gusta!

- I had to reject a place on the J.E.T programme. I went into a spiral of despair for half an hour, and then lunchtime was over and the year 3 class I was with helped me get over it.

- My nails are terribly split from moving heavy boxes of my stuff about. This makes me sad.

- Any plans for rollering and/or running have to be scrapped since my left knee has been bugging me for about a week now. So I'm going to be swimming a lot. Which means I should probably get lessons first.

Which means I need an actual job.