Queen Crowned in Curls

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Circa Christmas time 1996 when big hair was always a part of me.

Growing up, I despised my big, curly hair. I had so much hair and no one in my family really has hair like me. No one knew how to take care of it, so I pretty much gave up on dealing with it myself. I’ve spent countless hours sitting on the floor between my mother’s legs while she detangled my hair and during my summers in Puerto Rico, it would be my grandmother dealing with my tresses. After spending an entire afternoon in the pool, she came across a huge knot in the back of my head. Tempted to cut it off, my abuelita drove me to a salon on the island and at just 7 years old, I got my first perm. Since then, I permed my hair every 6 months like clockwork.

I loved the idea that this “treatment” would make my kinks straight. At such a young age, I associated straight hair with beauty. People would tease me about my hair, saying that it resembles a brillo pad or a bush. Latinos, even the women doing my hair would say that I had “pelo malo” (bad hair). Then I would have older Caribbean women tell me how much they wished to have hair like mine. At the time I had no idea why anyone would want my kinks and curls. While I was trying to get rid of them, women were striving for them.

For years, my hair was never growing, never shiny, always begging for moisture and still I strived for straight hair. I never left my house without my hair being bone straight and absolutely refused anyone to see my hair in its natural state. My curls weren’t curls anymore, but I didn’t care. I felt beautiful with my straight hair.

It took me a long time to fully understand the damage these perms were actually doing to my hair. Today I would say that I was in denial about this treatment. By my sophomore year of college, I’ve decided to stop perming my hair but refused to give up the heat! I was still using my flat iron every single day, making sure there were no curls in sight.

I’m not entirely sure why I decided to ditch my flat iron, other than the fact that summer time was approaching and straightening my hair would be pointless with all the humidity in NYC. I went the entire Summer Sixteen without straightening my hair. Just with that, I noticed some length and my curls slowly coming back. I tested out products that my hair loved and products that my hair hated.

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There was a lot of trial and error and it took me forever to love my hair. Now that I’m older, I understand what it means to be satisfied with what was given to me and why all these women were dying for my hair. I can do pretty much anything with my hair. I can choose to do a wash and go and wear it naturally curly. I can do twist-outs or buns, big or small. If I want a change, I can straighten my hair and if I get tired of it, I can just go back to curly!

Don’t get me wrong… There are still days when I just want to shave my head off or go to the salon and get a wash and set! But I just put a little leave in conditioner, put my hair in a bun and conquer my day. Going natural, I had to accept that not everyday is going to be a good hair day. I had to accept that I have different textures in my hair. I’m going to have frizz. Some curls are going to be coily, kinky or loose. But the best part is seeing the transition. My curls are making a come back and I’m finally getting some length and hydration.

So if you’re thinking about going natural- DO IT! Love the crown you have. It’s irreplaceable.

Cha’s Empanadas

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One of my favorite things to cook (and eat) are empanadas. They’re honestly super easy to make even though there are many steps to it. I may sound biased but Caribbean empanadas are my absolute favorite. South American empanadas are slightly different, but still tasty. They use a corn flour dough and are baked. In the Caribbean, we fry everything!

Empanadas can be an appetizer or great finger food if you’re hosting a party.  They can also be stuffed with pretty much anything. Puerto Ricans usually fill them with beef, chicken, shrimp or cheese. Some fill them with a slice of boiled egg as well, but of course that’s optional.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound of ground beef (or any ground meat you prefer)
  • 1 pack of Goya discs
  • 1/2 envelope of Goya Sazon
  • 2 table spoons of Goya Recaito
  • Adobo, salt and pepper to taste
  • Cheese and/or a boiled egg (optional)

Seasoning the meat should be first. In a pan over medium heat, let the recaito cook for about 2 minutes and let it cover the entire pan. Add the meat, sazon, adobo, salt and pepper and let the meat fully cook.

When the meat is done cooking, you’re ready to make the empanadas! Starting off with one disc, you can fit about 2 tablespoons of ground meat on to the disc. If you decide to add an egg or cheese, you will put it on top of your meat. For this post, I used boiled eggs.

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Next, you’ll fold over the disc in half and press down the edges and seal it with a fork.

 

Once this step is all done, heat up a frying pan with oil and begin frying the empanadas until they are golden brown on each side. Drain the oil out by placing the cooked empanadas on plate with a paper towel. When all are done, the only thing left to do is eat and enjoy!

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Product Review: Blueberry Bliss Curl Collection

Being a curly girl requires plenty of trial and error. Sure, we didn’t ASK for curly hair, but it’s what we got and we have to take care of it, right? Right. Throughout my transition, I’ve tried multiple products from brands that claimed to work with all typed of curls. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t fall in love with anything. There are some products that worked really well for my hair type (3C/4A), but I always knew there was something better out there for me.

And of course, I was right!

I first heard about Curls while watching my favorite talk show, The Real. Mahisha Dellinger, CEO, was a guest on the show to talk about Curls’ new Blueberry Bliss line. Then one day while I was at Face Values, I took a look at the natural hair care aisle and saw a couple of the products from that line on the shelf. Each product from the line is less than $25. I bought 5 products and after my first use, I immediately fell in love!

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Products from left to right: Reparative Leave In Conditioner, Twist-N-Shout Cream, Curl Control Jelly, Reparative Hair Mask, Reparative Hair Wash

The entire line smells AMAZINGGG! Like, good enough to eat, amazing. The Blueberry Bliss line is designed to soften and hydrate the driest curls and help promote growth. This line of hair care includes products like a leave in conditioner, hair mask and growth oil. Even though I didn’t try everything from the line yet, I’m sure I will love the rest of it. But in the mean time, let me share with you what I did try.

 

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Blueberry Bliss Reparative Leave In Conditioner

For the longest, all I ever wanted was a leave in conditioner that wouldn’t make my hair feel weighed down the next day. This reparative leave in helped me to achieve just that. On wash day, this is the first (and sometimes the only) product I put into my hair after cleansing. And when I have day 4 or day 5 hair, my curls are still soft and I can always add more leave in into my hair for moisture. I also love using this leave in to detangle my hair. It makes combing less of a hassle, making my comb and fingers run through my hair smoothly.

 

 

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Blueberry Bliss Twist-N-Shout Cream

I’ve just started doing flat twists to my hair and I have been liking the results before I tried this product. I never used anything special in my hair specifically for my flat twists… until I found this cream. Typically, I let my flat twists sit over night, or if I’m in a bit of a time crunch, I let them sit for a couple of hours. On the packaging it says to use the cream and release your flat twists once your hair is completely dry, but I find that I love my results if my hair is damp.

 

 

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Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Jelly

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of using gel in my curls. I only use gel if I’m doing any bun hairstyles. This jelly definitely defines my curls and controls my frizz. It is super lightweight and doesn’t feel sticky or leaves white flakes. Once I’m done putting all my products into my hair, I finish off with this for my go-to wash and go style.

 

 

 

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Blueberry Bliss Reparative Hair Wash

I never really had a go-to shampoo for my curls, only because I never really found one that really cleaned my hair. So that’s why I decided to give this one a try. Usually I’ll wash my hair twice. The instructions on this bottle said to work the shampoo into the scalp and during the second time, to comb through the hair and leave it in for 10 minutes. I’ve never combed my hair with shampoo so I was skeptical to try it. It was a little hard the first time because with the shampoo, my hair has no slip. But once I rinsed my hair out, it felt so clean!

 

 

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Blueberry Bliss Reparative Hair Mask

This hair mask is meant to be used as a conditioner but can also be used as a deep conditioner. I’ve mostly been using it as a deep conditioner and it has been working wonders for me. Already, I’ve seen a small amount of growth and the driest areas of my hair are loving the hydration!

 

 

 

 

Long story short, this Blueberry Bliss line by Curls is the truth! It smells good, works phenomenally and definitely gives great results. Check out curls.biz where you can find products for all curls, kinks and waves.

 

Wash Day: Makeup Brushes Edition

DSCN1539Just like my hair, my makeup brushes have a wash day. I wash my brushes once a week, but if I’m feeling lazy, I can stretch wash day for 2 weeks. But I do not recommend doing that! Washing your makeup brushes is a tedious and time consuming task but it has to get done for flawless application. So, put on some music or listen to a podcast and let’s get to work!

Why do we need to clean our makeup brushes anyway? Aside from poor makeup application, when you don’t wash your brushes, you are contributing to bacteria build up. You’re hoarding all the eyeshadow, foundation, concealer, etc., in your makeup brushes. Dirt, oil and dust can be found in them too, which can and will lead to breakouts and irritable skin. AND… If you happen to share makeup brushes, whether it be with your sister, mother or roommate, you are now making yourself prone to viral infections. If you are going to share makeup brushes, please, please, please, be careful! Taking care of your brushes will increase their lifespan and each fiber on each brush will surely thank you!

There are many cleaners out there made specifically for make-up brushes. I’ve tried a couple of them but haven’t found one that I really loved. I happened to be talking with a freelancer at Sephora and she told me she washed her brushes with baby shampoo. My initial reaction was, “Baby shampoo?!”. But then it really all made sense in my head. There are no parabens, no alcohol and if this stuff is safe to use on babies, it sure is safe to wash my makeup brushes. There is sulfate in it, but that’s totally fine since we need to clean all that makeup build up.

A bottle of baby shampoo would last me about 6-8 washes and leaves the hairs of my brushes feeling super soft and looking good as new. Since using baby shampoo, I find that my brushes last longer throughout the week. In addition to using baby shampoo, I also use a brush cleansing palette by Real Techniques. It has textured surfaces to clean in between brush bristles for a deep cleaning. The surfaces on the palette are made to thoroughly clean small, medium and large brushes. I purchased my palette at FaceValues for $14.99 and it can be found anywhere Real Techniques is sold.

Cleaning time:

If you have any beautyblenders or makeup sponges, run them under water and scrub the shampoo into it. Keep adding shampoo if needed and squeeze it underneath running water to ensure that all the makeup and shampoo suds are out of there. Do not use the cleansing palette for your beautyblenders, as this can ruin them.

For brushes, rinse them under luke warm water first, then add a drop of baby shampoo to your brush cleansing palette. Repeatedly, make circular motions on the palette using the textured surfaces according to your brush size. Squeeze out all the suds and excess water. If you see the water coming out of your brush is not clear, keep scrubbing until it is! Once all your brushes are clean, lay them flat to air dry on a towel overnight and when you wake up, your brushes will be all dry and ready to go!

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What’s your method to washing your makeup brushes? Share in the comments below!

3 Ingredient Cookies

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Up until recently, I’ve been trying to maintain a healthy diet. Keyword: trying. Not going to lie, I could eat like there’s no tomorrow. But I also know that summer is right around the corner and losing weight starts in the kitchen.

If I had to pick one snack to eat for the rest of my life, it would be cookies. Oreo cookies,  wafer cookies, chocolate chip cookies, rainbow cookies, sprinkle cookies, Italian cookies… You name it, I eat it. But I had to find a replacement for all those unhealthy cookies and tried to make a healthy cookie that can be my everyday snack. Once I found something easy and tasty, I wanted to share it with you. So, here it is!

This is a recipe for a 3-ingredient cookie that will take you no longer than 30 minutes to make from scratch. Not only that, but you won’t feel as guilty eating it! If you’ve ever had banana bread, this cookie tastes just like it! My favorite way to eat it is if its warmed up, but you can have it cold too. I like to take some cookies with me to work and enjoy it with my midday cup of coffee.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 Bananas
  • 1 cup of Oatmeal
  • Raisins

First, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and then you’re going to start by mushing the bananas until they have about the same consistency as baby food. I started with a spoon and later on used a fork to break down the smaller banana pieces. Next, add your one cup of oatmeal. I use cinnamon flavored oatmeal and add just a little extra cinnamon for flavor. You can use any oatmeal flavor you’d like for this recipe. Last, but not least, add just a little less than a handful of raisins. I know not everyone is a fan of raisins, so you can always replace it with walnuts or chocolate chips!

Scoop your cookie dough out with a spoon and shape them into semi-flat circles. Place them on to a cookie sheet or a pan layered with butter or cooking spray and pop them into the oven for 15 minutes. Take them out of the oven and let them cool off completely. Once they’re cooled, enjoy!

 

What are some of your favorite healthy snacks? I love to try out new recipes. Leave them in the comments below!

Coconut Oil 3 Ways

Coconut oil has definitely earned its right to be called a superfood. When I first heard about all these things you can do with coconut oil, I thought it was all lies. But after trying out a couple of these things for myself, I must say – BELIEVE THE HYPE! Coconut oil might be the healthiest thing you can have in your kitchen and it has multiple uses for your skin and body.

Before we get into it, lets talk about the benefits. First and foremost, the best kind of coconut oil you can get is organic and unrefined. This is the purest form and has the highest antioxidant levels. Organic and unrefined coconut oil is extracted from fresh coconuts, while protecting all its beneficial properties.  Coconut oil is considered a healthy fat and can be consumed to improve cholesterol. When used on the skin, it helps cracked or flaky skin heal faster and can help soothe psoriasis and eczema.

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Here’s a picture of the coconut oil that I use. I found it at Face Values for $9.99.

Make-Up Remover

Aside from make-up wipes, if I’m feeling extra oily one day or I just have way too much make-up on, coconut oil will definitely help me take off any hard to remove make-up. I simply scoop out about a quarter hand full of coconut oil from my jar and begin rubbing it on my face and the oil with break down all of my make-up. Then to clean off the oil, I take a warm, damp wash cloth and wipe everything off.

If you’re anything like me, you have oily skin. My skin will produce oil like there’s no tomorrow. Here’s the thing: when there is no oil on your face, your skin will think it needs to produce oil. However, you can manipulate your skin by rubbing coconut oil on your oiliest areas. Then your skin will say, “Woah. There’s too much oil here. Let me stop for a bit.” Good oil will take away bad oil. Makes sense? Great!

Hair Moisturizer

I once had a manager that was Indian and she would always talk to me about Indian hair. She told me when she was a young girl, every Sunday her mother would rub coconut oil into her and her sister’s hair and that’s how, she said, her hair was so long and shiny. After encouraging me to do try it, I of course did. Obviously, my hair didn’t miraculously grow to the ground, but I did notice more shine and less frizz. Coconut oil will give you shiny, frizz free, moisturized hair. But don’t for get that scalp your hair comes from! When you massage coconut oil into your scalp, you are opening up your hair follicles to promote hair growth.

I found that when I heat the coconut oil in the microwave for about a minute before putting it in my hair, I get the best results. Section your hair in half and start from tip to root. I encourage you to start from the tip because this is where your hair is the driest and when you get to the root, massage your scalp. Then usually I leave it in for an hour, or if I have nothing planned that day, I leave it in the whole day. Make sure to wash out all the oil from your hair. We don’t want oily skin OR oily hair.

Cooking Oil

Yes, it’s true. You can cook with coconut oil. As I said before, coconut oil is filled with tons of antioxidants and healthy fats. So why wouldn’t you want to cook with this superfood? My favorite thing to eat when cooking with coconut oil is a fried egg. Simple and easy, right? Typically, I would use an entire tablespoon of butter just to cook one egg but with coconut oil, all you need is a teaspoon. Let the oil dissolve in the heat and cook your eggs how you normally would.