curly hair

I am clearly a curly girl. It’s a fact that I fought most of my childhood, but I’ve come to embrace as an adult. What you may not know about having curly hair is how ostracizing it can feel. Society tells us that straight hair is sexy; sleek is better; fake big barrel curls are the only ones desirable. To be wavy is alright as long as you are going for boho chic, but if not, curls like mine need to be tamed.

I refuse to be tamed. Here are my thoughts on why…

As a child, my hair was absolutely unruly. My parents both have straight hair and weren’t sure what to do with mine. So they shampooed it like crazy and brushed it all the time, leaving me with a frizzy, dry, “afro puff” (or so the kids called me). I am fortunate for one thing though – it was the late ’80s. I fit right in at that time.

Things quickly got out of control (and by things, I mean my hair.) It was constantly tangled, frizzy, and unruly. It did it’s own thing no matter how hard I fought it (or maybe because of how hard I fought it). If you’re thinking I’m exaggerating, the mother of one of my best friends, who had known me since childhood, told me (many years later) that she spent hours straightening her daughter’s hair every day when she was little specifically so that her hair wouldn’t look as bad as mine. Though that hurt to hear, I can understand her point.

Living with curly hair has not been easy. I spent the first 12 years of my life fighting against it, crying because I wished I looked like the other girls with beautiful silky straight hair. If you remember the early 90’s at all, you’ll think bowl cuts for boys and short coifs for girls. It was a nightmare. Cutting my hair short resulted in what I’ve aptly named “triangle head.” The only way to manage my hair was to keep it long and hope for the best. No matter what, I never felt like I fit in. And those of us who remember early childhood know how desperately we all ached to fit in because of how lonely and cruel life was if we didn’t.

Of all the years, middle school was definitely the worst for me and my hair. I used to brush it back into a pony tail every day. I didn’t feel I had a choice. I looked around me and saw beautiful straight hair on everyone. There was no place for me; no place for my curls. I started watching makeover shows on TV and guaranteed if one walked in with curly hair, she walked out “transformed” into someone more beautiful with straightened hair. What kind of message does that send?

It was during this period that my mind eventually changed. Finally Hollywood had a female lead with curly hair in the form of Felicity, the name of the lead with curly hair and the show. Keri Russell, the actress who played Felicity, had beautiful, long curly hair. She was gorgeous and admired. She didn’t try to be something she wasn’t.  It changed my mind about everything. I decided at that point to go against the norm. I was going to figure out my curly hair, and make it beautiful. What a process I was in for…

By my freshman year of high school I was embracing my curl, but I wasn’t sure how to get my curls defined and shiny. Every day was a battle. I was still using a brush or a pick at this point, at the advice of my hairstylist (a straight haired woman). No matter what my hair looked like, I always pulled it back because I didn’t feel confident that it looked good. It was a start though, even attempting to wear it curly.

By the end of high school, things were looking up. I had thrown away my hairbrush. Let me repeat myself for those of you with curly hair, I THREW AWAY MY HAIR BRUSH! I was only washing/conditioning my hair 2-3 times a week: an essential difference in hair care for curly haired people. I started using a leave in conditioner daily to help smooth out frizz and keep my curls defined and healthy.

It wasn’t until college, though that I truly found my groove, aka the products and practices that changed my curls forever. So here is my secret…

THE PRODUCTS:

I shampoo my hair once a week with Diva Curl’s No-Poo. It has no astringent in it, so it keeps healthy oils in my hair.

Then, I condition 2-3 times a week with Diva Curl’s One Condition. It helps bring moisture back into my hair.

I use Bed Head’s Ego Boost daily to add moisture to my hair and to control fly aways.

Next, I use Fructis’ Curl Shaping Spray Gel after my leave in conditioner on days I wash my hair to hold my curls together.

Last, I use KMS Curl Up Curl Balm to get tighter curls.

THE PROCESS:

I never brush my hair. In the shower when my hair is wet, I comb through it with my fingers while shampooing or conditioning. Then, I leave it alone. Next, I rinse out conditioner gently, then immediately apply leave in conditioner, followed by spray gel. I gently pat my hair with a towel to remove excess moisture, then apply the curling balm. Lastly, I scrunch until I’m satisfied that my curls are complete and allow my hair to air dry. Once dry. I scrunch to remove the hardened gel look, to make my curls soft and bouncy.

On days I don’t wash my hair. I wet my hands with water and add leave in conditioner. Then, I tame fly aways and redefine curls.

And it’s all for this…

and this…

It’s about confidence. It’s about helping other people find how to love themselves as they are. It’s about embracing what God has given me and sharing it with others.

Can you relate to hating part of yourself because it’s not what society tells us is beautiful?

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spring linguine

This week has welcomed spring to Colorado with temperatures in the high 60s, blue skies, sunshine past 7 pm and the sign of new growth on the mountains. (Of course, today it’s snowing, but let’s pretend it’s not for the sake of continuity…) I can’t tell you how excited I am about spring! I can’t wait for tulips, poppies, tank tops, vegetable gardens, open-toe shoes, late night sunsets, farmer’s markets, and concerts/movies in the park! To celebrate our transition from the cold, dark winter into the lightness of spring, I decided to make a light and crisp spring linguine: Shrimp, asparagus, and English peas with a light white wine lemon cream sauce served over linguine. Yum! What are your spring recipes? What are you excited about this spring?

The great thing about this recipe is how simple it is and how quickly it comes together. The total time is less than 30 minutes!

RECIPE: (Serves 4)

1/2 pound linguine
1-2 pounds deveined shrimp
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 package frozen peas
1 bunch thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3-4 inch pieces
1 lemon, juiced (2 T lemon juice)
1/2 white wine
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 T olive oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste

Begin by preparing pasta according to package. Drain and toss with olive oil. Reserve 1/2 cup of liquid to add to sauce.

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onions in 1 T olive oil until clear. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute. Toss in shrimp, cook 2-3 minutes until nearly cooked through. Remove contents of skillet into a bowl or on a plate. Add asparagus to skillet. Cook three to four minutes until crisp and cooked through. Remove to bowl. Add peas to skillet, cook through and remove to bowl. Add white wine and lemon juice to skillet. Reduce by half. Whisk in cream and bring to a boil. Add linguine and leftover liquid. Toss in sauce. Add all the contents of the bowl (shrimp, onions, garlic, asparagus, peas) to the skillet. Toss in sauce. Cook 3-5 minutes until hot. Serve garnished with parmesan.

chicken and dumplings – a trade off event

I am so excited for dinner tonight! Our friend Tiffany is making us chicken and dumplings in our southern food trade off event, followed by the lastest episode of Lost (a shared pleasure). At a later date, I will be making her chicken fried steak with all the fixings. This may have to become a tradition – sharing recipes and sharing comforts with friends! What foods would you like to see in a trade off?

birthday filet

It’s that time of year again – my husband’s birthday!!! He’s past the hump this year, a hefty 26. So, how to we celebrate his entry into the latter half of his twenties?? Filet mignon, of course!! We rarely eat steak of any kind due to its price, but I found a great deal on a couple of filets at King Soopers and I couldn’t resist! Not only was our meat selection amazing, but we also ate it in an amazing setting… Steamboat Springs!

I surprised David with a trip to our friends’ cabin at Steamboat Lake for his birthday. It was quite the adventure: blizzard on the way up, getting lost, hiking in 4 feet of snow to the cabin, malfunctioning snowmobiles, snow avalanche that trapped us in the cabin, 5 feet of digging to escape, and getting our car stuck in the snow/mud. It wasn’t all bad, though! We had a quite, relaxing weekend away filled with quality time, intimacy, and delicious food.

Our menu:

Filet mignon with an aged Zin reduction
sauteed asparagus
roasted new potatoes
and pecan shortbread pie for dessert (store bought)

We prepared our steaks as I mentioned in a previous post – with a salt, pepper, and sugar rub that we seared on the stove and finished in the oven until the center of the meat got up to 130 (aka medium). I cannot stress enough the importance of allowing meat to rest after you remove it from the heat! Letting meat rest is essential to keeping meat tender and juicy. I know it looks so good that you just can’t contain yourself enough to leave it alone for 5-8 minutes staring at you with its juicy goodness, but it seriously makes the difference between so so meat, and amazing, mouthwatering meat!

We sauteed the asparagus in a little bit of olive oil over medium heat, and seasoned with salt and pepper.

We diced the potatoes, coated them lightly with olive oil and tossed them with salt, pepper, rosemary, paprika, and cayenne. We baked them in the oven at 400, stirring occasionally until the outside was crispy and the inside was nice and soft.

What a meal!! Don’t you wish every birthday could be this good? What is your favorite or ideal birthday meal?

gnocchi and vodka sauce

I’ll admit it, I’m a hard alcohol sort of girl. I prefer the taste of vodka over any other alcoholic beverage hands down. Not only do I like my vodka stirred, I like it stirred in vodka sauce! For those of you who haven’t tasted vodka sauce before, you simply haven’t lived. Vodka sauce is a tomato cream sauce with a kick…

The first time I encountered vodka sauce was in college. My lovely friend, Miss Jessica Watson (who was featured in my fashion blog not too long ago), invited me over for dinner and cocktails. We started with cocktails and managed to destroy her blender in the process as well as cover her floor in sticky goo. But, good did come out of it! Jessica made vodka sauce over gnocchi for dinner and new bond was formed (whether it was between me and Jess or me and the vodka sauce is for you to decide). Since that time, I have made this meal a number of times and it gets better every time!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with gnocchi – it is a potato based pasta somewhat reminiscent of a dumpling. Gnocchi is made from potatoes, eggs, and flour. It is a simple dough that takes very little time to make and eat. I recommend picking up packaged gnocchi from your local grocery store to try it out prior to making it from scratch as some people aren’t partial to the texture. Look below for the vodka sauce recipe, then tell me how do you like your gnocchi?

RECIPE:

3 shallots, minced
2 gloves garlic, minced
4-5 large tomatoes, diced
1 cup vodka
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 T butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp chili flakes
1 T basil
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup shredded parmesan

In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Saute shallots and garlic until softened. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, chili flakes and basil. Simmer for 30 minutes until reduced. Add vodka and simmer another 30 minutes. (Note: for smooth sauce, blend in food processor at this point, then return sauce to pan.) Add cream slowly while whisking to prevent curdling. Allow sauce to return to temperature. Add grated parmesan to sauce to finish. Serve over cooked gnocchi, garnished with shredded parmesan.

P.S. You may have noticed large chunks of meat in my sauce… that would be Italian sausage, a wonderful compliment to the bite of vodka sauce. If you’re into it, saute some up and throw it into the sauce when you put the vodka in to add even more dimension to your meal!