Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hair Braided Schemes: The Mini Pictorial Journal

Braided mayhem take me away like the Calgon perfume I no longer use.
The Natural Hair Journey section will be updated some day. Until then, there is always the main page to have a chat.

December 6, 2014

Before heading to Toronto, had to search long and hard for a place. Had a "princess" idea in mind. I discovered Vixen Hair Studio on Instagram. Enjoyed beautiful featured natural styles and customer satisfaction. The location was convenient for me. A plus. All the ladies were kind and fashionable. Jill Scott and Erykah Badu played their soul food tunes.
FYI: My hair must really love this length. It has been this way for years and years. So.....

Left view and bow tie earring.
Cheeks so above cloud nine glasses almost slipped.
Partial hazy top. I think my fingers got too Happy. Pharrell?
Blurred right side vision.
The back. Sort of. 

January 14, 2015

Hair styled in Dayton "country," photographed in Philly PAFA studio.
Went a place I hated. A place where natural hair is despised and ridiculed. It was close by. Had no idea what happened to my beloved Lynette-- an awesome understanding woman who embraced and catered to my hair creativity. The "pain" of this dismal substitute place was only an hour or so. Plus I still appreciated her efforts. Braiding is a talent wished to attain.
On the way out, a charming girl by the door commended the style. As did whom I miss most right now...

Braided up bun.
Back. Top is where most of my hair grows. Sides are super slow. Slower than a tortoise. 
Melancholy. Perhaps due to the facial breakout.

January 28, 2015

Bun was let go. Dumped. Didn't get to call or send me a sentimental note.
Maybe next time.
Take down was lovely though. I had oiled it every few days. Braids just unsifted through fingers like silky coarse amazement. Unveiled spirally spirals sparkled with glistening sheen and soft thickness. Long ago, I would have hated this condition. I love it so much. So much that I shall write a book of romantic letters to my hair. Lord Byron would be jealous.

I took braids out and played with the kinky curls like artistic damsel in happiness. Not duress or distress.
Also listened to Lauryn Hill on heavy rotation. Sorry Bob Marley. Cool tank from Nirvana anyway. Lace top a clearance purchase from Burlington Coat Factory.

January 29, 2015

Visited Vixen's Hair Studio again this morning. I love and appreciate gentle hair combing. Scalp massages don't hurt either. Although adoring this new 'do, anticipating another eventual shape up. Girl needs a fresh trim. Then hopefully we'll resume a productive, healthy growth with our favorite oils-- Jamaican Black Castor, coconut, olive, and Argan. Want ear muff length bad. That amount of fluffy goodness will warm tender, exposed ears. Cannot wait to kiss hats and scarves goodbye.

Only a good 35% of hair got a breather today. I promise that the next styling will be freeing. C'mon summer. I have to hand fluff her back up because.... scarf+ hat hair. Boo. Wearing my favorite thrift shop sweater, a $1 bin blouse, and another $1 gray shirt with sequins. Unseen $7 hot pants AKA jeggings and over painted Just Fab faux leather brown heeled boots. Also wearing a "blush" from that old scandalous LL Cool J song that came on. Like why??? *blushes again*
Side view. See large yellow duck in the background sitting on the studio couch? Good times.
Almost back view.
Back view. Side I will sleep on if slumbering on my face doesn't work out.
Happy camper getting back to "work."

Monday, January 26, 2015

Whenever Your Thoughtful Nonvegan Friends Bring Yummy Vegan Treats.....

Even though my fellow devoted readers, you cannot taste delicious joy, I am here to write that they are indeed a most wonderful mixture of whipped vegan buttercream vanilla swirling fancifully atop moist chocolate decadence.
I am always quite fond of the occasional treat and truly wasn't expecting anything this frosty Monday, the day of Blizzard Armageddon. While most students panicked away and events like the cheese party got canceled, my dear friend Tovah texted and spoke about homemade vegan treasures. She originally baked sweet cupcakes for her husband and mother-in-law's past birthday celebrations and saved leftovers. I was thrilled, over the moon. Beyond humbled. It's rare nowadays that such sweet kindness be bestowed. Now she isn't a vegan, but that fact doesn't stop resilient behavioral trait. She went out of her way to experiment and share creativity. The vegan sweets were thoughtful, but it was the  touches my heart. It isn't something that she has to do. Not at all. She does anyway. Plus let's not forget that she photographed most of this blog post. Awesome lady! I adore that she is neutral and respectful of veganism. She's not filled with wisecracks, jocular nonsense, etc.
How can one repay such a gal?
Tovah and I vogue posing with our Winter Bash photo booth pictures last year. This year's theme is 80's. Supposed to be on Friday, but who knows if it's still on with the snow and all.
Yes. I often break pieces of Chocolove XOXOX bars (she's one of the few of whom I would share special chocolate). Bring organic strawberries and corn syrup free knock off Oreo cookies. Today I supplied packets of supreme Tazo Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea-- clearance from Target's grocery sale rack. It just doesn't seem to be enough. I won't stop trying and definitely will not stop appreciating. If you're a vegan fortunate to have a companion of lenient regard willing to try your vegan recipes and repeat that in kind, please keep them around and cherish camaraderie. They are worth clinging onto with every ounce of devout heart muscle.
So whenever your friends bring vegan treats, be courteous. Say and show "thank you" on repeat.

Homemade raw fudge Tovah gave me back in December. I will have to ask her what the recipe is! I know coconut oil is used in both components and that it must stay frozen.
Opened and arrived straight from her melodious train ride. They look beyond perfect. Too perfect to eat.
And along with the marvelous cupcake trio came along William Shakespeare rubber duck. I will covet him always.
"To quack or not to quack...." What other question is more important to ask?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Vegan Rice Crispy Treat Bars

Finally! A childhood treat has become revived with refreshed vegan life.
Hello Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck! Today resides in memories thanks to Chicago Vegan Foods' Dandies Marshmallows. So long ago, was one of my first experiences helping Ma prepare homemade dessert snacks-- a must for the chilly winter nights. Every time a generic box of Rice Crispies made it in the grocery cart alongside two bags of plain marshmallows, we knew what that meant. As a family, we used to make it together starting with oiling the wide skillet and melting in the marshmallows. The kitchen would soon smell like sweet vanilla. After stove is turned off, it was time to stir in ample amounts of cereal and listen to the mesmeric popping sound. Although the stores supplied ready made treats, it was the homemade version that tasted far better. It was watching marshmallows turn milky, taking irresistible turns mixing with the big spoon, and eating cooled treats. Just warm and pleasant love impossible to package and market.
Here arrives the amazing vegan version. Still as simple as the old fashioned days. Plain rice crispy cereal is transformed, taking on the sugary divine flavor profiles melted marshmallow madness provides. These chewy, ooey gooey bars trigger happiness and light up taste buds with promises of delicious flashbacks sans the politically incorrect usage of gelatin. Win win!

Vegan Rice Crispy Treat Bars Ingredients and Preparation

2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 package Dandies Air Puffed Marshmallows
8 cups Trader Joe's Rice Crispy Cereal

Grease or lay parchment paper onto a baking sheet.
In a large skillet, melt coconut oil and add entirety of marshmallows. Stir and stir until marshmallows are a gooey and browning almost to caramel proportion.
Turn off stove and quickly add in cereal, one cup at a time.

Spread mixture onto prepared surface.
Let cool for an hour or so.
I, however, cheated and ate some 30 minutes afterwards. 
It is hard to stay at one treat. Or two. But try your best. And share the rest!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Homemade Lavender Coconut Friendship Scrub

When friends make epic concoctions to please your skin and spirit
I don't wear foundation often. Just eyeliner, mascara, lip balm, and lipstick on occasion. For a crimson cheek, that mentioned lipstick performs double duty.
The latest craze is to look like you're not wearing makeup at all, but while wearing makeup. Very confusing logic. Why not just leave the brown stuff at home and utilize the kitchen cabinet? Many tricks of the beauty treat trade lies in ingredients used to bake cookies.
For refreshed, super clean and soft, pliant skin, a gentle scrub is the skin's BFF! The face alone contains an ample amounts of layered dirt and grime. Even the most beneficial cleanser + toner cannot promise to rid it all. Homemade scrubs are simplest secrets to uncover beauty. With a little gentle massaging and water rinse, dead skin cells are temporarily gone, waiting with revenge for you to be out of scrub. Noticeable rejuvenated complexion takes place. And it's a beautiful, beautiful change.
I'm one of the unfortunate folks who has flaky, dry skin around chin, cheeks, and nose. A lot of cleansers are alright, but adding scrub regime remedies the nuisance.
My Toronto alchemist friend made us the loveliest recipe hence the title. She too is a lover of all things natural and organic for body inside and out. Throughout winter vacation, I used her splendid concoction twice a week. And not just on the face-- it's a supreme benefit to the entire body as well!
Absolute plus! Just have a back scrubber handy to make bath time a rewarding experience. Whole skin feels smooth and silky. Goodbye dry, problematic winter dryness hello to wishing to be greeting summer weather in a maxi dress. As for your hands? Well let's just say they'll have a hard time keeping off the irresistible softness.
So put dead skin cells on notice. Let them beware. Maybe get a "don't trespass too long" for your hands too.
Friendship Scrub is composed of lavender, coconut oil, and sugar. I love love sugar scrubs! Although one can use salt, it is considered much more abrasive than the sweet, kind sugar companion. Sugar is love y'all.

Homemade Lavender Coconut Friendship Scrub

4 oz organic coconut oil, room temperature
4 tablespoon organic granulated sugar
3 teaspoon lavender

Mix all ingredients together.
Pour into a glass container and refrigerate until hardened.

Ready for use!
Generous applied sweep, letting it melt into hands beforehand. Looks like a oily, sweaty mess from excessive gym exercise right?
Massage into face, making sure to get sugar and lavender pieces on the skin. Rinse well.
Towel dried and already glowing before applying moisturizer.
Flawless clean! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day & Supporting Urban Owned Business

More now than ever it is imperative to support our fellow creative sistahs and brothers. The times illustrate it.
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday everyone! Have you all seen Selma yet?!
I admit. I am very angry about the Academy Award nominations and the shutting out of Ava DuVernay's masterpiece. It is a brilliant film. Gritty, sharp, haunting. David Oyelowo well embodies the well esteemed non-violent civil rights leader. FYI:  If no one hasn't seen DuVernay's recently released gem "Middle Of Nowhere," you can find it online or at a Walmart. Very disconcerting that a beautiful, profound film, winner of several awards including The Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award and Best Dramatic Directing Film at Sundance Film Festival has a late DVD release. It is barely found in a physical store location. Boo.
Another great quote that inspires this day is Martin Luther King Jr.'s "what are you doing for others?"
Well, what are you?
One of the most important allegiances is supporting urban businesses, businesses that cater to personal identity, the freedom of expression. To live at a time of repetitiveness further pushes need to stand out, be different, be brave. More and more, I'm realizing value of adding diverse uniqueness to my wardrobe, which in turn reflects art and culture. Past meets ancestry in a profoundly fashionable statement. Something long repressed due to loving popular media to point of unnecessary excess. I still frolic thrift stores, still love retro tees, and vintage dresses, but adding hinted pieces marries two worlds together.
Today I highlight Arimas Jewelry Box and Eva's Head-Wraps, amazing feminine ran cyber shops showcasing fine, fabulous wears. Style conscious sweetie pie divas check out how purchases from just these two define heart and mind.

Saraya (21.5" x  62") is $22 & Ezing (23" x  72") is $25 at Eva's Head Wraps.
Turban-ing things up with green and brown Saraya turban! Harry Potter dress was a Christmas gift and grey ruffled blouse a Goodwill find.
Bold patterned Ezing fabric with its pop pizzazz orange and blue perfectly suits an old $8  red "Scooby Doo" Junk Food t-shirt. Undid coiled twists and massaged argan oil through the strands, giving kinky curls shiny definition. Team Natural Hair Forever.
Red Wooden Afro Pick Comb Studs, $18. Heart rings, $4.99. Custom destination ring, $10 (Ohio lady forever). Eye catching accessory pieces from Arimas Jewelry Box. Check out this first feature here

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Smoked Gouda Rotini With Broccoli & Pecans

Add pizazz to pasta night with Daiya's newest dairy free block and protein benefits from bac n' bits and pecans.
Every few months, a sparkling brand spanking new product hits the vegetarian market. We all fan girl/ fan boy scream and wave shaky excited fingers in gung ho panicked anticipation. Search spreads far and wide for unveiled food items (often exposed on cyber social media), especially whenever that product scores exceptional remarks at natural food expos. 
Daiya's latest-- the Smoked Gouda Style Block is downright impressive. I don't know how their old recipe tasted, but this "improved" vegan friendly option has joined delicious perfection parade. Smooth consistency and smoked flavorful component is quite pleasing, melting too beautifully as opposed to their other top varieties.
I buy new cheese just to see how it measures up in a hot pasta dish. The Gouda does not disappoint the Richter scale! Passing ooey gooey melt test with highest possible points, it is recommended to those who enjoy a richer, creamier, more velvety quality.
I used whole wheat rotini here, but any gluten free pasta dish would make this meal fully gluten free. Throw in any vegetables to complement if broccoli isn't your favorite. Spinach, colorful bell peppers, roasted mushrooms, and tomatoes are great suggestions. Crispy tempeh, soy ground, and homemade walnut "meat" can provide ample protein if pecans are not on hand.
Either way you slice the block, Daiya's yummy new craze is worth experimentation.

Solid A+ rating from me. I wish it wasn't hard to find.
Smooth sailing on the enthusiastic cutting board. One little cube can make a cracker's day bright.

Smoked Gouda Rotini With Broccoli & Pecans Ingredients and Preparation

1 cup rotini
1 cup broccoli, steamed
Daiya Gouda Style Block
pinch of almond milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bac'n bits
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup pecans, crushed

Prepare rotini to package directions.
Add steamed broccoli.
Toss in Gouda. It'll melt in beautifully.
Close up of stirring remaining ingredients.
Creamy presentation will seduce all your non-vegan friends, but the taste alone will set them in a tizzy! Don't be surprised to see an empty plate and hear, "more please!"

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Bread With Light Caramel Drizzle

Pumpkin pie bread is heaven with or without a light caramel drizzle composed of medjool dates.
Hello Vegan Linky Potluck #27 revelers!!! :) Sincere apologies for not coming to the parties as frequently as I would have liked. Will try to be as present as possible. Interesting bi-weekly possibilities. Our creative, cordial Annie of An Unrefined Vegan is a busy bee and has lent the reins to hostess sisters Poppy of Bunny Kitchen and Angela of Canned Time. I bring to you all a tantalizing treat that dreamily combines two favorite winter time desserts. Sweet pumpkin pie meets moist pumpkin bread in an incredibly decadent coupling that'll put a smile to anyone's face. 
I loved the Vegan Caramel Sauce created on The Law Student Wife's blog. She inspired the recipe. Instead of maple syrup and added sugar, medjool dates make for a fine syrup fix. After all, remember this amazing concoction made so long ago? Well, added vanilla, coconut oil, and almond milk to simmered recipe enhances an already rich authentic flavor. To make it thicker and less of an icing drizzle, drain more of the date water. 

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Bread With Light Caramel Drizzle Ingredients and Preparation

1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/4 cup almond milk
2 tablespoon melted coconut oil
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Light Caramel Drizzle

3 medjool dates (soaked in 1 cup water for 3-4 hours or overnight)
2 tablespoon almond milk
2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

To make light caramel, drain some of the medjool date water and puree in a blender.
In a saucepan, on medium heat pour in the date mixture and add almond milk. Whisk for five minutes. Take off heat. Add coconut oil, vanilla, and salt. Pour into a jar and let thicken at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a bread pan thoroughly well.
Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder,  and salt together.
Cream sugar, pumpkin puree, almond milk, and coconut oil together.  
Blend dry and wet ingredients, adding pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon. Apple cider vinegar last.
Pour into pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.  Let cool before scooping bread out.

Golden orange brown beautiful sweetness.
And Tazo's hot delicious Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea accompanies great!
Enticing close up.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

AfroVeganChick's 3 Year Anniversary & Goodbye 2014: Year In Review

What year yesterday turned out to be.
The years have flown by so fast. Veganism has been a tremendous breeze and success. I still get the jokes from family and friends about what it is vegans eat and whatnot. Yet that isn't something to complain about. In fact, I'm rather elated, happy and confident. Creative freedom in the kitchen has never felt so right.
Thank you to all the visitors and fans for continuing to come and see the journey after the journey! It's been one of the best new year's resolution rides of my life. I'm not getting off.
Today, while imagining what 2015 plans to cook up, I briefly reflect on the highlights of 2014.

Thanks to Field Roast's excellent addition to vegan cheese foray, this latest mac n' cheese was a solid cyber hit many times over with some delicious aide from Beyond Meat.
 Vegan Chao & Chik'in Mac was Most Viewed Blog/Facebook Liked Post of 2014.

Chicago Vegan Foods' "Dandies" Marshmallows now without corn syrup took everyone's attention, especially thanks to So Delicious's amazing answer to childhood favorite- Kraft's Cool Whip. Veganized CoCo Whip was a bonafide treasure and one of the best new products introduced!
One Minute Pumpkin Rocky Road Mug Cake took Best Dessert.

Not only soap related adventure, it was the all vegan Dough Bakery that made mouth water with breakfast sandwiches and winning sweet cupcakes! But as far as best soap event that hands down went to Toronto! Best personal trip in my opinion!
The April Atlanta trip took Best Eating Out Vegan/Adventure post.

Just four ingredients make this thick, creamy body treat. A must have in the winter months when skin is at its driest!
The white version Shea Butter Lotion took top homemade beauty prize.

Daiya won over Earth Balance's Vegan Mac N Cheese by a slight victory thanks to their delicious line of ooey gooey cheesy pizzas!
Daiya's Fire-Roasted Vegetable Frozen Pizza took the honors of Best Product Review.