Transition or Big Chop- Tips to Success

Transition or Big Chop- Tips to Success

Hello again! So you’ve made that decision to change your life for the better and embrace that beautiful messy hair on your head? Good, now all you have to do is get all those damaged ends chopped off before you change your mind. I’m kidding! It’s not that drastic, despite what you may have heard or “believe” about your hair. Have a little faith and let me enlighten you. In the natural hair community, transitioning and big chopping are the two first terms you may hear and want to familiarize yourself with before making either decision. Luckily I did both and I thought this topic was blog worthy.

Transitioning is just what it says it is. It’s the process of moving from one state to the next. You can transition from over processed hair, heat damaged hair or any damaged hair to your hair’s most healthiest state as you gradually trim the damaged ends. This is not big chopping although transitioning eventually leads to that. Big chopping is hacking off all of the damaged ends at once and starting fresh. The transitioning process was my preferred choice because I was hesitant to shave my head and start over. Not only that but the other major difference between transitioning and big chopping is that transitioning allows us to experiment with our natural hair  as our new growth grows. During this stage it is important to gradually trim the damaged ends as they will become noticeably thin and unattractive until you just big chop which is what I did.

Always be mindful that everyone’s journey is different. I have a cousin who transitioned for years whereas I could only transition for about 6 months before I got tired of moisturizing and styling two textures. Still not convinced? True story- I knew nothing about moisturizing, deep conditioning, hot oil treatments, protein treatments, etc. I didn’t even wrap my hair at night before now (I know, smh). So if this is you or you still struggle with either of those things, then please, keep reading. BUT FIRST, read the next part thoroughly as I am about to tell you the most kept secret in the Natural Hair community.

Don’t Overwhelm yourself with the advice of all of the Naturalista bloggers and vloggers. This great advice was passed down to me and I quickly understood why so I have to share it with you. There is a ton of great, informative yet very misleading information circulating around the natural hair community, so please don’t believe that what works for one person’s hair will surely work for your hair based on curl pattern (type of curl shape). By all means, experiment! Just solid advice, in the beginning stages it’s critical to figure out what works for your hair to retain moisture and a healthy scalp first. Besides, there is so much more to the science of hair in general but I will spare you in this blog post. If you do happen to get sucked in which is very easy to do (again, I’m speaking from experience), you will find that the common denominator is to MOISTURIZE and seal. Which brings me to this, just Stick to the basics and don’t give up! Everything will look and sound enticing but you don’t need it, you just want it. Always tell yourself this and you won’t become a product junkie which is also very easy to do. Find your basic products like a moisturizing lotion, milk or leave-in that will hydrate your hair and an oil that will seal it all in. Keep it in a journal as you find what works and explore more into the world of styling. The length will come, trust me. Love your hair the way it grows from YOUR head and I promise you will love the results.

Here’s the second most important and basic take away that I’ve already mentioned. Can you guess? It’s MOISTURIZE! naturally kinky curly hair is naturally dry so it needs all of the moisture it can get. And best of all, it’s FREE! We get our moisture from plain water. You can fill up an empty spray bottle and voila, you have moisture for your hair. If any of your products do not contain water as the first ingredient, it probably isn’t a moisturizer. Even the moisture in the air (humidity) after a rainy day can make sexy and voluminous hair so embrace that precipitation babe. Hello twist-out! Vegetable glycerin, honey or coconut oil are also amazing humectant additives that draw the moisture around us into our hair for that all day long lasting moisture. Although I would highly suggest using coconut oil in moderation for your hair, you get tons more of its other botanical benefits when used on other areas of the body. Just by adding either of these simple, raw ingredients to your current products or DIY potions, you can turn that old leave-in that’s been sitting in the back of your cabinet from drab to fab in no time.

Here are some great products that worked very well for my retaining moisture  and a healthy scalp while I transitioned and even after I big chopped.

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I know you may disagree with some of the products on this grid and I will get to that but as I mentioned just because what worked for me, doesn’t mean it works for everyone. I found these items to be a great starter pack for me after trying lots of others but like anything they do have their pros and cons.

  1. Cantu Shea Butter Leave-in Conditioner– This product worked very well for me at the beginning but I believe it worked best for my permed ends. So this is good news for you, transition(ers). My hair didn’t feel sticky or weighed down as this product is a very light cream. However, after fully converting I realized the moisture did not penetrate my hair shaft the same as before. I recently found out from a YouTube Vlogger (go figure) that the new formulation of this product contains Isopropyl alcohol which is rubbing alcohol and that’s not ok. BUT, I have not found any scientific or reputable evidence to back this up so please do not quote me and do some extensive research on this issue before you spread the word. Thank you =).
  2. Shea Moistures African Black Soap Conditioner– This product is GREAT. I would still use this if it weren’t so expensive ($10) for such a small quantity and if I did not make my own products at home and if Shea Moistures was not being boycotted by the Natural Hair community right now. So yea, just come get your Andy Candy lol. This product is a great leave-in as well as it’s stated on the bottle.
  3. Eden Body Works Jojoba and Monoi Deep Conditioner– I LOVED this conditioner. I have purchased this multiple times as I transitioned and after I big chopped. It’s thick and creamy, affordable and effective.
  4. Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil– This is my Holy grail. I still use this product as well. It helps my hair substantially with shine, strengthening and reducing shedding. A powerhouse when mixed with essential oils for a hot oil treatment but it is definitely a great oil on its own as a sealant. EVOO can enhance your regular conditioners for added moisture and the benefits I listed above. The food grade one works fine for the hair as well.
  5.  Grape seed oil– This oil is a great sealing oil and contains a good amount of vitamin E which promotes growth, strength and shine for the hair. Funny story about this oil. Before I even transitioned I played around with moisturizing and sealing as these are very critical steps to maintaining a healthy hair journey. I oiled my entire head instead of just the ends of my hair so I looked like a lil’ grease ball all day. Let’s say I know better now and you do too. Only seal your ends with oil. You’re welcome lol.
  6. Organic Unrefined/Refined Coconut oil– This oil is very popular in the Natural hair community. It’s one of the few with a small enough molecular makeup to penetrate our hair shaft (cuticle) and provide that deep penetrative moisture so it’s not a sealant oil. You may know that there are some adverse reviews and some reviews that are in favor of this oil but it still boils down to preference. My TWA hated it, now my APL hair kinda likes it but I use it in moderation due to its high protein content and how it makes my hair feel limp over time. Other uses: eye makeup remover, natural alternative to shaving cream and skin and hair moisturizer. The unrefined version smells like actual coconut whereas the refined one does not. That’s the only difference.
  7. ORS Olive Oil Shampoo– What can I say, my hair just really likes olive oil. This is a staple in my product artillery. It’s super cleansing without making my hair feel stripped (that rubbery dry feeling after shampooing). It’s not organic or paraben and sulfate free so I try not to use it a lot. I am currently working on my own concoction that my hair will love just as much but for now this gets the job done if my more natural alternatives just aren’t cutting it.
  8. ORS Olive Oil Conditioner– Nourishing, strengthening and replenishing just like the bottle says. I like that this product contains Hydrolyzed protein because it serves as a quick low protein conditioner which is just enough for me. I would follow up with a deep conditioner but again, it’s up to you. Here is a link to my DIY avocado deep conditioner. GREAT stuff.
  9. 100% Pure Tea Tree Essential Oil– I picked this up to help with my dandruff and itchy scalp. It works well so I honestly add a few drops in just about everything. The scent is STRONG and very medicinal so test it out on a small section to see if you like it. I love essential oils because of their multifunctional healing properties and fragrance. Tea tree oil is said to stimulate hair growth, and reduce dandruff and hair loss due to its anti fungal and antibacterial benefits. Mix this with any of the oils mentioned above and you have your own DIY hot oil treatment concoction. YAY! *Please consult your doctor if you are pregnant or using any essential oils for medical purposes.

You can choose from the 9 listed above as a starter pack to kick off your natural hair journey. Here are some other products I also liked and found later once I started to learn my hair. These will replace those products that are under a little controversy right now and those if you prefer a more natural approach.

Eden BodyWorks Coconut Shea Leave-In Conditioner replace #1 and #2

Herbal Essences Hello Hydration replace #2

Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo and Conditioner replace #7 and #8

100% Pure Aloe Vera Leaf Juice -pH balancing, great toner, great leave-in for wash n’ go

Now that you have found your starter pack, find you a cute little journal to document your epic fails and successes because there will be plenty and it helps to keep that stuff documented so you won’t waste time, money or both. But don’t give up when something doesn’t work. There are so many more products out there that will and many more individuals like myself working to raise awareness about natural hair care. Here are some very simple tips to success.

  1. Moisturize and seal daily
  2. Retain Moisture
  3. Style hair for the week after every wash or protective style every other month
  4. Wrap hair with a silk or satin bonnet every night

You will reach a point where your damaged ends are barely hanging on and they will look very bad compared to your new growth. I hit this stage after 6 months. This means its time to big chop if you haven’t been trimming away the dead ends already. I will admit this can be scary but if you are comfortable with short hair its a piece of cake. Which brings me to my last piece of advice: Love your hair the way it grows from YOUR head. You must go through this journey for you just the same as you would with any transformation. It will get tough and only you can motivate yourself to stay committed and love the new and beautiful you. If you take heed to what I have advised, you will reap EXPONENTIAL results but of course, do what works for your hair and have FUN!

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January 2015-First Blow out and trim; 6 months post BC
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December 2015-First Silk Press; 6 months post first blow out
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February 2017-Second Blow out; 1 yr + 2 months of growth post first silk press; 2 yrs + 7 months on NHJ
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February 2017-Second Silk Press; APL

For real time updates on my hair journey please visit me on Instagram @andycandy.co

I was compelled to write this blog post because my mom recently decided to transition and having the chance to help her and share my passion with her is incredible. This blog post is dedicated to her and all of the young women and men who have inspired me to even pursue Andy Candy and have allowed me to share my story and insight with you as you all do with me. Keep coming with your stories and questions. Thanks so much for your endless support.

xo Andy

Recipe#6: Apple Spiced Roasted Whole Chicken-Slow & Steady

Recipe#6: Apple Spiced Roasted Whole Chicken-Slow & Steady

Mmmm! I will keep it simple so you can get to cooking. I like to reserve Sundays for beautiful meals like this one. It’s how I grew up and how I’ll grow old. Here we go!

Always ALWAYS ALWAYS clean your chicken. Whole chickens like this is are not always 100% rid of their feathers so make sure you get those out, they won’t fall off. They just cook and the site ain’t pretty or appetizing. Unless you like for your chicken to look like it was skinned in front of you and then cooked. Lol a little graphic but whatever.

1. Take a huge gallon or 5-quart pot (you know the one mama used to cook the greens). Boil 2 cups of water, 6 Tablespoons of kosher salt, a bundle of fresh Thyme and Rosemary, 3 Bay leaves, 2 lemons, 4 cloves of garlic and 1 whole of an onion.

2. Turn off the stove and remove the pot from the burner. Now for the best part! Pour the entire bottle of wine in the pot. Now throw in the entire bottle of apple juice in the pot and stir. Now you can add the chicken. Add more water if necessary because you want the chicken submerged. Let your chicken rest in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Congratulations my friend you just brined a chicken.

*Brining is crucial when roasting something for long hours like a whole chicken or a turkey. This helps the meat stay super moist and flavorful! Plus a marinade just can’t do this.

3. The next morning, remove your chicken from the brine onto a clean surface for drying. Pat dry your chicken and leave it to air dry for 30 minutes.

4. Season chicken with the seasoning ingredients and stuff with the remaining ingredients (apples, onions, herbs) and roast for up to 2 hours or until your thermometer reads 150°F. You can also season your chicken and let it rest for a few hours before you roast. The brine has done most of the work so this step is not necessary.

5. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest as the heat and the juices settle and finish cooking your chicken to 165°F. 165°F is the temperature you want, anything less, keep cooking.

6. Once your chicken has cooled, carve it up and serve.

This was the juciest chicken I ever had. My coworkers tried it and that was the common denominator to all of their opinions.

Bon Appetit! 😉

Ingredients For Brine

  1. 4-5 Cups Water
  2. Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling ( my favorite cooking wine, very affordable and tastes delicious alone. Also has sweeter options)
  3. Martinellis Gold Medal 100% Pure Apple Juice
  4. 2 Large Onions (any kind)
  5. 3 Bay leaves
  6. 2tsp peppercorns
  7. 2 lemons (halved)
  8. 3 Tbsp kosher salt

Ingredients For Seasoning

  1. 1/2 Tbsp Paprika
  2. 1/2 Tbsp Cayene Pepper
  3. 2-3 tsp Grinded peppercorns
  4. 1T Garlic powder
  5. 1T Kosher salt
  6. Whole Nutmeg (just a sprinkle)
  7. 2-3tsp Cinnamon

Grind the seasoning ingredients with a mortor and pestle for a more robust and cohesive flavor.

*Use the measurements above as a guide. I added more of what my nose preferred. The cinnamon really helped balance out the strong aroma of the paprika and the Cayene.

Travel: 10 Things To Do In Chicago

Travel: 10 Things To Do In Chicago

So my fitness journey got off to a great start. After trekking, and at one time getting lost in the streets of Chicago, Illinois, I actually lost weight despite ALL the food I ate. While I may have shed a few pounds, I did gain some great tips to share with you guys! The city was picturesque this time of year and the trip could not have come at a more perfect time. I was due for another adventure after New Orleans and I’d say that’s exactly what I got. I also got to spend quality time with my boyfriend’s family which is always enjoyable. My boyfriend is, Sam (Sammy). We arrived at the Midway airport in Southside Chicago early Friday morning, grabbed our one bag (no carryons-That was GREAT) and headed for the “L” to catch the Orange Line. (I hope you’re taking notes cause this is great advice). I’m one to want the full experience as best as I can get it so I was excited to take public transportation and catch the train. Not to mention it was $6 for two one ways compared to an always $50 uber ride when you’re leaving an airport. What was cool was the Netflix show, Shameless is filmed in Chicago and one of the train stops was right outside of the Gallegher home in South side Chicago.

Did you know? After the great Chicago fire in 1871 which burned dozens of neighborhoods, buildings and the city’s business district to the ground, the city rebuilt using steel and concrete. This rebirth gave rise to the world’s first skyscraper and now the city stands stronger than before as the illustrious Chicago, IL you know today? Hence, the name, “Tale of Two Cities.”

IMG_20170708_090439PANO_20170709_212302IMG_20170710_094042 There is soooooo much to do in this beautiful city especially in the summer time when the weather is just right. TIP from the locals: the best time to visit the city is during the month of July as the other months are either cold or rainy or both. Luckily we didn’t experience either of the two or it would have made it impossible to do all of what I am about to tell you. Well you can still eat cause this city knows good eats.

  1. Catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field

What a hell of a way to kick off your Chicago vacation by catching the 2016 World Series Champions play at home. I think what made it even more worthwhile was not only the fact that the Cubs won against the pirates but it was my first time at Wrigley Field as well as my boyfriend’s first time and he is a HUGE fan. Wrigley was like a dream come true for him. I guess our wedding doesn’t even stand a chance. The crowd was relentless and full of spirit as foul balls flew high into the sky. The stadium is an oldie but goodie with it’s original structure still in tact. And the ivy is just as lush and green as the first day of Spring.

Honestly, the tickets can get pretty steep but the atmosphere surrounding the park is only a little less cool but there are still tons of things to do and buy, sites to see and food to eat in Wrigleyville. But if you enter into the friendly confines grab you some concessions, a cold one of Old Style beer (Chicago’s Beer) and an official Cubs cocktail as you marvel is the postcard like view of the Chicago skyline.

2. Taste of Chicago This event does not happen often but if you listened to my advice and come in July, you won’t miss it. I believe it’s always the first week of July. It’s a really neat way to get all of the local food you can get in one place. There were literally TASTES of the various local diners, food trucks and restaurants in the Chicago area. I even got African food, catfish and I tried gator sausage. I would say budget at least $40-60 for two people to enjoy a “taste” of their preference and you should still have some leftover to drink a bit. If you don’t drink alcohol save yourself some money and pack up some waters. There may also be some good people out there giving away their leftover tickets. Sam and I were approached by two people with extra tickets so you know we grubbed.

3. Take Your Picture at the Bean While you’re strolling through the field of flowers on your way to the Taste, stop and get a picture taken at the famous Bean in Millennial Park. It’s just a huge silver mirror in the shape of a bean but hey, it’s the typical tourist thing to do. Right?!

4. Go Shopping on the Magnificent Mile (Michigan Ave.) I never really get the big deal of shopping in a big city but there was a two story Anthropologie, the official Cubs store and I managed to find a Calvin Klein dress, IVY PARK capris and Nike sneakers all for $100 from Nordstrom Rack. I got a steal for all this stuff so I can say there are way more options to choose from in a bigger city.

5. Find a Speak Easy Bar

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I didn’t know what a Speak Easy was at first but my boyfriend’s mom was so excited about it and she had me all ears to know more. We made it to the bar and the walls were covered in old photographs of the famous patrons that entered through the original doors that still stood in place. The original bar was still standing after the Chicago Fire including many other furnishings and aesthetics like the burlesque shows that played at the top of every hour. We waited an hour and a half at least before we got to go downstairs where the magic happened. So while we waited we toasted with the locals and took shots of the nastiest liquor ever- Malort. But you gotta try it though. Yuck!

During prohibition era, all alcohol was illegal of course. Big names like Al Capone would smuggle their barrels of alcohol through underground tunnels and alley ways using these Speak Easy bars. I guess the name Speak Easy is due to having to keep these acts confidential during the time.

6. Find Your Crust This is for my pizza lovers! Have you ever had real deep dish or stuffed crust pizza and I don’t mean that cheap crust stuffed with mozzarella cheese. NO. Chicago style pizza opens your eyes to the limitless options of what pizza could be and it’s all about the crust. Do you like butter crust or do you like stuffed crust. I found that I prefer stuffed crust from the famous Giordano’s. What’s yours?

7. Take a a Stroll Down the Riverwalk Burn off those calories from eating all of the delicious food around the city or sit on the wall of steps with your honey and look out at the Chicago River as the dazzling city lights do a dance on the still waters. You may even catch the enthusiastic kayaking tour guide who tells all the jokes and the history of the city. Whatever you decide to do this is one of the many tourist attractions you must see before leaving. And it’s FREE.

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8. Go Irish Pub Hopping If drinking is your thing then Irish pub hopping should be too. I didn’t realize that most of my preferred beverages were Irish libations and after waiting almost 4-5 hours in lines (yes plural) for the Ledge at the Skydeck, any kind of libations were what we all needed. So to get everyone back in good spirits we made a game of it. Any bar with an O’ or an Irish sounding name, we stopped for a shot of Powers, Tullamore Dew and a Smithwix… Or pretty much whatever they had. Nothing like day drinking with the Irish.

9. The Ledge

Don’t and I repeat, DON’T waste your time and money going anywhere near this place. We waited in line nearly 5 hours until we finally got to the Little box in the sky which we along with about 20 other people got to stand in for maybe 3 minutes before we had to rotate with the next group. I’m all smiles here but I was not a happy camper.

Also if you consider skipping the line and paying the extra $20+ I wouldn’t, essentially you will wait in line to watch a 15 minute introduction then wait a little longer to get on the elevator to the 103rd floor where you will wait in another line for the best 3 minutes of your LIFE!

10. Take It All In

Chicago is buzzing with tons of options to suite each pallet. You can easily make this a budget friendly trip using my 10 Things To Do in Chicago blog post. Or you can make your own list and share it with me! I hope this inspired you to get out and travel. Don’t forget to share this post and your next “Top 10 To-do List” so I can read all about it.

xo, Andy

Recipe#5: Curry Chicken- Quick & Delicious

Recipe#5: Curry Chicken- Quick & Delicious

So this happened last night. Never mind the rice and beans. That’s not made by me but if you’re in the West Tampa area and want some homestyle Cuban food for lunch, check out La Bamba on this little side street called Laurel right off of Spruce. Get the baked chicken and yellow rice. You won’t regret it.

The curry counts people! I have experimented with this dish since college and it has taken me years to figure out what I am doing wrong. My technique was right but the MAJOR difference was the CURRY! Please if you want authentic curry chicken, you must get the authetic curry powder or a Jamaican friend. Luckily I have both. =) Shout out to my dear friend and A.C. Supporter, Britani for the tip. Fortunately she was kind enough to give me some of her curry from Jamaica but if you can find an authentic Carribean or Indian curry, you’re good.

Materials:

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 potatoes
1 medium onion
Scallions (opt)
Minced garlic
Adobo
Black pepper
Garlic powder
Indian curry
Olive oil
Red pepper flakes
Water
Instructions

  1. Clean chicken and towel dry. Dice onions and potatoes and set aside
  2. Add chopped potatoes to boiling water for a few minutes to soften up a bit. (Skip this step if you’re not in a rush. Your potatoes can stew at the end).
  3. Remove and strain potatoes
  4. Chop chicken into medium sized cubes. Season chicken with garlic powder, adobo, Indian curry powder, black pepper, Italian seasoning.
  5. Heat oil with red pepper flakes, add minced garlic and curry powder to oil and give it a shake.
  6. Add chicken to pan and brown. Flip chicken as needed and transfer to a plate.
  7. Take the excess oil and put in a clean pot, large enough to stew the chicken and coat every piece.
  8. Add chicken to pot with some water and stew with cover on pot
  9. Add onions and potatoes and any remaining seasoning. Cover with pot and let stew on medium setting
  10. Stir, stew and add water as needed until you reach your desired consistency.
  11. Top off with your homegrown scallions and you know the rest.

Bon appétit! 😉

Recipe#4: Dog Birthday Cakes

Recipe#4: Dog Birthday Cakes

Just a few days ago (June 19) was my puppy’s first birthday!!! I am such a proud dog mom to a beautiful, standard, full bred and amazingly athletic male Australian Shepherd named Apollo! I can go on about how fantastic this dog is but I made him mini birthday cakes instead just to show him how much he means to our little family. And of course I’m going to share that recipe here with you.

Don’t worry the ingredients you’re about to see will have you scratching your head but trust me, it’s all puppy approved.

Materials

Yields 6 muffins

  1. Mixing bowl
  2. Muffin tins
  3. Fork
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1/3 Cup of Honey
  6. 1tsp of Pure vanilla extract
  7. 1/4 Cup of Vegetable oil
  8. 1 whole carrot or your pets favorite veggies or BLUEBERRIES!!
  9. 1tsp Baking soda
  10. 1 Cup of All purpose flour (I used oat flour since I’ve been experimenting with healthier alternatives).
  11. 1 sweet potato mashed (we had leftover mashed sweet potatoes so yogurt will save time and work fine)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Whisk egg in mixing bowl.
  3. Shred the carrot use as much as needed. 1 may be much.
  4. Add vanilla, honey, veggie oil, shredded carrots and baking soda to mixing bowl and whisk all together
  5. Slowly add flour and whisk as you add until the mixture is thick and has a trace.
  6. Pour the mixture into the muffin cups 2/3 of the way.
  7. Place muffin tin in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the center of cakes have cooked. (Stick a fork in it! Just like a regular cake).
  8. Let the cakes cool before you spread on the sweet potato “frosting” or yogurt and them off with your pup’s favorite treats.

Bon Appétit 😉🐕

Good Eats: Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL

Good Eats: Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL

So I don’t know what took me so long to step into this beautiful library/secret garden-like Oasis we Tampanians call the Oxford Exchange (OE) but I’m glad I finally did.

This place is immaculate with it’s gorgeous floor to ceiling windows and a special room dedicated to books and brews sure to compliment any palate. I personally loved the Blueberry green tea with Blueberry, lemongrass and pomegranate.

The old English style atmosphere makes you feel like you are dining in what used to be Hogwarts cafeteria. And the food is just as amazing. There are very little selections but judging by my entree I can see that this place prides quality over quantity.

Shoe shine any one ? $7

On to the food. These ingredients are FRESH. It can be a bit pricey but not that far off if you’re thinking about bonefish brunch (not that I don’t get down with Bonefish) just try OE.

Club (Sandwich) on wheat bread w/ sweet potato fries

It’s so eclectic that if you wanted a spot for a girls night out or a scenic venue with a pleasant ambience suitable for the inlaws, the Oxford Exchange is definitely the place.

Enjoy!

Bon Appétit! 😉

DIY: Avocado Deep Conditioner

DIY: Avocado Deep Conditioner

So I have been wanting to share this recipe for a while now. Thanks to a recent and highly requested hair tip from one of my sweet Andy Candy followers whom I love so dearly, I decided that it was about time to share.

If you have not heard by now how enriching avocados are to the skin and hair, let me just enlighten you a bit on the benefits of avocado. Avocado is not only rich in fatty acids and vitamins that are great for us internally but when used topically we can really reap the holistic properties of this beautiful fruit.

Benefits of Avocado

  • Contains more potassium than bananas
  • lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Super food containing healthy fats, protein and only yields 2 net carbs in a 3.5oz serving making this a rich and low-carb friendly fruit =)
  • Conditions, softens and strengthens our hair and scalp to prevent breakage and promote moisture and elasticity
  • Prevents hair loss and supports hair growth with vitamins B and E which work at the cellular level

Now for the real deal. Here is my favorite deep conditioning recipe using avocado as the main ingredient.

Avocado Deep Conditioner

Ingredients/Materials:

  • 1 whole avocado
  • 1 Whole banana (optional; thickens mixture)
  • 3/4 to 1 Cup(s) (depending on how long your hair is. I use 1C for my Armpit length hair). of distilled water, aloe juice or a tea mixture (for herbal goddesses)
  • 1TBSP Vegetable Glycerin  (Humectant which is great for boosting the moisture rich ingredients used)
  • 1 TBSP Olive oil (excellent for reducing shedding and rich in oleic fatty acids just like an avocado which is why this is one of the best culinary oils)
  • Blender
  • Rice strainer
  • Bowl
  • Spoon

Instructions:

  1. Cut your avocado in half and remove the seed. (You can save this for composting your plants or growing another avocado tree)!
  2. Use a spoon to scoop out the green/yellow flesh into your blender
  3. Add water and blend
  4. empty the now smooth mixture into a rice strainer over a bowl to remove the pulp. (I have pictures from a few years ago when I did not strain my mixture and boy did I regret it lol).
  5. add the remaining ingredients (Olive oil and honey) and whisk the mixture to your desired consistency.
  6. Apply this mixture to shampooed or freshly washed hair

*If you would like a thicker consistency add some yogurt and turn it into a protein treatment! You can also blend up a banana keeping these same measurements. A banana is not necessary for the mix as we have just read above that avocados are more potassium rich.

Happy DIY-ing! ✌🏾💖

Related Links

Authoritynutrition.com

Livestrong.com

Featured Image

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I didn’t strain my mixture the first time I made this batch and I took it on vacation. Needless to say, I had to go to dinner just like this cause it was NOT coming out for some time.

Recipe#3: First Try Shepherd’s Pie-Smooth & Savory

Recipe#3: First Try Shepherd’s Pie-Smooth & Savory

Ok so St. Patrick’s day came a little early this year. No, I honestly did not know that Shepherds pie was an Irish dish but I am glad I decided to give it a try.

I see this beautiful mess becoming a staple in my home. The flavors just married so well together and each layer held its own that I had to share this recipe.

Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground beef or 1lb lean ground turkey OR Beyond Meat! (just tried this and it was fantastic).

Chopped onions

Bells peppers (optional)

1 small bag of frozen assorted vegetables ( I used a carrots and peas mix)

Butter (optional)

Olive oil

2 Tbsp flour/ 2 Tbsp oat flour (grind up rolled at or steel cut oats in your blender and voila)!

2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (lower in sodium than salt)!

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 cup chicken stock or 1 cup vegetable stock or bone broth.

6 Yukon potatoes or ready made (or Japanese Sweet Potatoes. Trust me on this).

2 cups of Sharp Cheddar Cheese and Gouda Cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F

1a. Warm olive oil in a skillet and add chopped onions and peppers. Saute for 2 minutes.

1b. Boil 6 the potatoes and proceed with recipe. Periodically check potatoes for tenderness.

2. Add ground beef (or non meat) to the peppers and onions and cook until browned. Drain the mixture.

3. Add butter to skillet and saute frozen veggies for 2 minutes. Add the meat back to the skillet.

4. Add flour, worcestershire sauce and tomato paste and stir until the mix is thick.

5. Add chicken stock and stir until the mix is thick.

6. Remove potatoes and mash them. At this point you can add any sour cream, milk or any seasonings to taste. If you’re using Japanes Sweet potatoes, you don’t need a thing.

7. Add the meat mixture and potatoes to a casserole dish. Start with the potatoes as your first layer. Then meat (or non meat) mixture. Then the potatoes again.

8. Top off the dish with cheese.

9. Broil in the oven for a few minutes or until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

Bon Appétit!

Good Eats: Drama Burger, Tampa, FL

Here’s to another foodie post by your favorite Tampa, FL foodie. DRAMA Burger is the spot for a delectable hand-crafted (you know how much I love that) juicy burger. Like that Taco Bell commercial says, Order Envy- when you want what you ordered but you want what they ordered too. Well now you can.

Chorizo Burger & House Fries w/ Rosemary salt

Growing up order envy was called being Big-Eyed but in this case, its totally ok. You can choose from a wide array of angus beef patties stacked with unique toppings like tomato confit, chipotle mayo, guacamole, and kimchi, to fried swiss cheese, chimichurri and tikka masala. Yea, it all sounds a little dramatic but I promise your first bite will have you personally thanking the chef. They are well known for their pastrami which is cured for a week and cooked for 2 days! They also have duck and vegetarian options so there is something for everyone. You can also get your classic cheese burger and even a sweet serving of creme brulee if you still have room left. I recommend diving right in and getting your hands dirty. And don’t even think about any substitutions or additions. “All is better with a bit of drama.”

Bon Appetit 😉

Recipe#2: Homemade Crêpes- Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Proof

Recipe#2: Homemade Crêpes- Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Proof

This morning I just decided I wanted to make something different. So I went with crêpes! This recipe is so great for beginners and hard to mess up. Although there are certain techniques and tips you MUST follow, this meal is still so easy to make and tastes so good that it will have you doing a dance up until they’re ready for serving.

 

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Of course I had to wear my Cafe Du Monde apron for these French style NOLA pancakes.

Ingredients (yields 6-8 crêpes):

1/2 Cup All purpose flour

2 Eggs

1/2 Cup Vanilla Almond Milk (or any milk of your choice)

1/2 Cup Water

Pinch of kosher salt (or whatever salt you use)

1 tsp 100% Pure Vanilla Extract

2 Tbsp butter

You can double up on the meausurements to make twice as many but this was more than enough for 2-3 people. Maybe even 4 people. As you know, crêpes can be filled with anything-bananas, carmel and nutella make great dessert crêpes. Or if you’re looking for something more savory, throw in some buffalo chicken or shrimp with some crispy and fresh shredded lettuce and top it off with blue cheese crumbles, some dressing and chow down!

Instructions:

  1.  Mix flour and eggs in a mixing bowl using an electric mixer (I used an old school hand mixer). Mix until smooth
  2. Add milk. Add water. Pour as you mix a bit at a time. Mix until smooth.
  3. Add salt. Add butter. Mix until smooth.
  4. Heat oil or butter in a skillet or crêpe pan and pour 1/4 cup of the mix into the pan. Tilt the pan side to side being sure to cover the bottom.
  5. Cook (on low. I used the #4 setting on my electric) on one side for 3 minutes or until side is brown. Flip and cook for 1 more minute. Stack ’em up!

The point of a crêpe is to get it really thin so it is very important to follow these strict measurements and step 4. I can’t gurantee you the perfect crêpes if you do anything different from this post but I do know any more than 1/4 cup of mix, you will end up with a confused pancake. 😂

Bon appétit.

Recipe#1: Green Goddess Bell Pepper Pesto- Calorie Friendly

Bell Pepper Pesto! What’s that?! Get ready to shake up your night with this one. If your family says make something crazy, this is definitely the route to take. they will never know they needed this. I dressed this sauce over pan seared chicken thighs I simmered in Sauvignon Blanc (dry white wine) and lime juice. 😉

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If that isn’t enough to get you up to try this green citrusy goddess, I paired it with Risotto con mushroom and spinach I decided to throw in at the last second to wilt in the pan with the chicken.

Here’s the recipe:

1/2 Bell Pepper

1 Bunch Italian Parsley

Oregano

3-4 Garlic cloves

Lime juice

Salt & pepper to taste

Olive oil

Blended to a saucy substance.

Chicken

1 Tbsp Butter

2 cloves of minced garlic

Lime juice

Savignon blanc (or a dry white wine)

Salt & pepper

Cayenne pepper

Accent poultry seasoning

Instructions:

  1. Clean and dry the chicken thighs. Season chicken.
  2. Heat butter on low until it starts to froth then throw in 1/2 the chopped garlic.
  3. When garlic butter becomes aromatic turn up the heat to medium high then throw on the chicken thighs, skin side down and cook for 3 minutes or until brown and crispy then flip and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the chicken to a plate then deglaze the pan with wine and lime juice. Add the rest of the chopped garlic and simmer on low for 1 minute.
  5. Add chicken back to the pan skin side up and cook on low to medium hear for another 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Periodically add more wine and baste the chicken with more lime juice. Check the temperature of the chicken until it reaches 160 degrees.
  7. Add handfulS of spinach (emphasis on the plural because spinach wilts down to almost nothing. No need to add any salt & pepper, the spinach will soak up all of the delicious juices from the chicken. 😋

Bon Appétit!

Lifestyle: Why Care for Self-Care??

Lifestyle: Why Care for Self-Care??

Over time I have become more health conscious and self aware. Not for any reason except that I get complete satisfaction from knowing that I feel good. It started with my hair. I was always somewhat confident in the person I was but of course as a teen, society trends tend to monopolize our thoughts and hide our individuality-so I relaxed my kinks when I joined the dance team in High School. It was like an over night epiphany that I was going to return to my natural hair after 8 years of relaxing it. I had done thorough research and found the alternative was much healthier, less expensive and most importantly, I could naturally be myself. WIN! I was in college at the time (where the name Andy Candy comes from). I could not really afford all of the top shelf products the YouTube vloggers raved about for the perfect wash n’ go and perm rod sets so I got to Doing It Myself (of course). At that moment I realized that my niche, my purpose, my outlet was the one thing that I tried to mask the entire time- My hair and care for that part of myself. This new love grew into more appreciation and respect for more areas of myself and I found that it was helping and inspiring others to do the same all through a little self-care.

So Why Care for Self-Care? “Self Care is a divine responsibility.”

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It is easy to take care of ourselves on the outside but like most things, we tend to neglect and even completely ignore the things we cannot see like our mental and spiritual health. Self-care can be as easy as taking 30 minutes of everyday to just sit and clear your mind. In doing so you can reduce stress, reduce and prevent depression and allow yourself to  be presently in the moment. Here are a few 30-minutes exercises you can add to your daily routine to practice self-care with a little holistic wellness thrown in, of course.

Blow off some steam!

Have you ever heard of our body producing endorphins that give us a clear mind and a burst of energy to continue throughout the day? Well 30-minute exercise sessions are linked to better mental and physical (duh) health. Exercise is also believed to regulate our sleep patterns, boost our memory and boost self-esteem by giving us a sense of power from avidly practicing this new force of habit and meeting small goals we set forth. And I know you are probably thinking “uh, H*** no, I don’t sweat” (lol). Well it is said that two 15-minute sessions and even three 10-minute sessions  each day will enhance your overall health. And I know that these days we either have three options: (1) We all have that CHEAP gym membership or at least know someone who does. (2) There is a gym at the job or (3) We work at a gym. Whatever form of physical exercise you decide, be comfortable and consider it to be a lifestyle rather than a chore. Other exercises include: yoga, frisbee with your dog, jogging, walking, skating, and dancing. So if this sounds like your thing or even something new you would like to try, invest a little time into yourself each day to self-care. Δ Did you know this? Standing up 16 times  a day for 2 minutes is healthier than exercising for 32 minutes straight.

“I can make you put ya phone down…”

Unplug for a second and cut off your phone. No T.V. or any disturbances should impede on this special time to yourself. Take this time to think about absolutely nothing or maybe absolutely everything. Get your life together! For some this could mean meditating to soulful lyrics or soundscapes while burning an Andy Candy healing essential oil blend for some aroma therapy. Erykah Badu can make you put your phone down too. Head here to check out that track and mixtape. This is also critical if you work long hours behind a desk. It is extremely important to take walks, to refuel and clear your mind before you give it another go. Working yourself to the point of exhaustion is not actually helping you to produce better results. At some point your body slows down, your skills aren’t as sharp and you lose focus. You may be working hard in some ways than none but you are not working efficiently. Self-care actually saves you more time by reducing overload burnout, stress and allows you to refocus.

Arts & Crafts aren’t only for kids

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So when we hear those words arts and crafts we probably think of construction paper maybe some glue and the old cliché macaroni necklace type stuff. Well think outside of the box. Crafting has developed an entire new meaning for adults. It has expands into the realms of stamping, scrapbooking, and definitely don’t forget Doing It Yourself. I love DIYs, hence why I hand make hair and body cosmeceuticals! You can even take some time to color in those cute adult coloring books I have been seeing a lot lately. Its very therapeutic and easy to tote anywhere with you so you can’t beat that. There are also tons of videos on YouTube of DIYers who love to show off their innovative and creative prowess in the vastly growing industry of Crafting/Do It Yourself. I happen to particularly like The Sorry Girls at the moment. Check ’em out. Other forms of crafting can include cooking. Remember that show, “30-Minute Meals” with Rachel Ray?! Here’s something that may spice up your night and make for a little date night in with the beau or a nice spread for one. ΔTry picking a recipe from that show. Prep all of your ingredients the night before or just before you cook. Time yourself to throw down a “30-Minute Meal.” See if it really works or create your own recipe and blog about it and don’t forget to tag me =).

So if this post has you thinking of your self-care routines, really evaluate whether it’s efficiently working for you or if you’re just going through the motions. Try some activities from the tons listed above. In the links below you will find some Do It Yourself tips you can adopt for you and a friend during this holiday season.

 

Related Links

“Rewire Your Anxious Brain” Book

Word Rocks

Self-Care Kit

Self-Care for a Friend

My InspirationImage Source

Roald Dahl Quote

Happy Holidays.

Thanks for reading. ✌🏾💖