An Unsaid Lesson in Healthy Eating

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Cucumber salad with some tomatoes.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother would make these amazing snacks. She would whip it up for both my cousin Chris and I in what felt like no time. Instead of opting for the Vienna Finger cookies my mom used to buy, we would get excited about the cucumber delights grandma would make. All she did was peel the cucumber, slice it up and sprinkle some lime and salt over it. Viola – edible goodies for us to munch on. My grandma used to garden and would sometimes get the cucumbers right from our backyard. At first, I would just wait for her to make it. Over time, I started making them myself. Of course it didn’t have her touch, but it was still good.

At the time, I did not realize that my grandmother was teaching us how to eat healthy. She was my chef, teacher, nurturer, protector, guide – everything packed into a perfect ball of energy that spread to everyone including my mom, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins and more. Her knowledge and her presence stays with me even today. Now I find myself making the same recipe again, but with a heavy appetite for knowledge about what I am eating.

In the past few months, I have been transitioning to becoming a vegan. It all started with one of those documentaries on Netflix (Sustainability I think it was). Honestly, my whole life, I cared for the welfare of animals. As a child, I refused to wear fur. However, I was backwards, wrong or not fully into the plight as I still had products with leather in it and ate meat. I agreed with the notion that meat was a necessary component for our diets.

It bothered me though that we ate meat. My cousin Chris and I stopped eating chicken for a week after we watched Chicken Run. We were traumatized by the fact that the chicken lived in a place their whole lives to be fattened up just to end up on our dinner plates. We were triumphant in our quest to protect the poultry from our stomachs for that week. But the smell of fried chicken tempted our vulnerable noses during that time. The waft scents of chicken wings in the air filled our nostrils guiding us to the plate like the house in Hansel and Gretel – tempting but dangerous. Eventually, we went back to eating chicken again.

Do not get me wrong, the wafts of chicken still tempt me. Everywhere I go, especially in busy areas, that smell is back to tempt me. It calls to me “Remember me Tiffany? You know you want me. We had such great memories together.” However, now my mind is much more resilient than it once was. For months after making this transition, I would still occasionally eat chicken, beef or fish as well as dairy products. Although when I randomly decided to watch What the Health last week because I was bored and needed something to watch, my night time entertainment turned into a final stamp on my stance of my eating choices. Now every time any meat or dairy is offered to me I think of animal pus, overcrowded farming habitats, or the unfortunate souls in Duplin, North Carolina. (If you think oppression does not exist, look up Duplin, North Carolina hog farms. Or just click this.)

I am not sure how long I can resist the enticing nature of meat and dairy when it surrounds me everywhere, but I will be sure to. Knowing about how the agriculture poisons the environment and our bodies is enough to keep me away. Through these documentaries, I learned that meat and dairy can cause a whole list of problems in the long run including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. I learned that the companies that we generally buy our products from lie about the ingredients and how they were manufactured. I learned that protein, which many think is necessary to get from meat and eggs, actually comes straight from plants. We do not need to eat meat or dairy (We also do not need wheat, but that is another tale).

So I am going to continue following the lesson my grandmother taught me in which she did not even say a word. The best food we can get is right from our garden. There is so much more I could write about this, but bottom line, the best way you can trust your food is from what you see right in front of you. From the beginning, you learn to eat your fruits and veggies. After trying out different recipes on the web, drinking fresh natural juices and of course the cucumber salad that started this all, I discovered and am still learning so many nutritious ways to eat healthy that taste amazing. So why do we eat to die instead of eating to live? Let’s go back to our roots and discover the possibilities of eating healthy and happy.

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Healthy, happy Tiffy! =)

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Moist Kinks

For anyone who caught my post last week, dry hair is a terrifying feat for me. My tresses deserve to have the right moisture to keep it popping and smooth like I know it can be. And of course, that’s up to me; I am the sole person responsible in the quality of my hair.

I did some more research after discovering that my hair has low porosity and put it to the test last week. Some of the natural hair queens on the information highway (Remember when it was called that?) told me that butters and oils are important to hair’s moisture. A site also mentioned that Shea Moisture’s African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo (I know, I know. Don’t judge. I still use Shea Moisture. Despite their stupid mistake, I can’t deny that their products work well for me) does magic for dry hair. In my resistance to the dry hair plague, I had to proceed to try this product. Let me tell you when I massaged this poo into my scalp, something happened. My hair felt different. I consistently wash my hair once a week. It always feels the same until I put this product on my scalp. My hair TRANSFORMED. Like Bumblebee going from car to robot, my hair came alive. It felt more silky and smooth. I had found the cure; Well one of them.

However, the replenishment of my kinks did not end there. The queen from Napturally Curly asserted on using oils like argan oil and apricot oil to seal in moisture after applying water to the hair. After I applied some apricot oil to my hair, the magic was done. My hair has not felt so much moisture in a long time. I was pleased to finally give my tresses the caressing that it needed to slay. Of course, the process does not end. There is still so much for me to discover and to understand about my hair. But I am glad to discover even a little bit from the tree of knowledge in the betterment of the overall health of my kinks.

My Hair after I washed it and applied Cantu’s Shea Butter Leave In Conditioner and an apricot oil grape seed oil mixture.

My hair after I did a twist out. I applied Cantu’s Shea butter Leave In, the apricot oil mixture and Shea Moisture’s Coconut Hibiscus Curling Enhancing Smoothie (The ever so wonderful LOC method – Leave In, Oil and Cream) to my hair before twisting it with curling rods after wash day. I left it in for another day, took it out and voila – what you see above.

Dry Hair, More of a Scare

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So I am a huge Walking Dead fan. (In fact, check out this vid of me talking about it with the awesome crew on Drinks with Geeks) Well I watch it every Sunday when it comes on. No one can interrupt me after 9 pm. No texts. No calls. I prefer that whatever urgent thing you have to tell me it can wait until either a commercial break or when the show is over. I can wait for the tea; the suspense of Rick and the group dealing with Negan is way more cray. I am also really into the follow up series called Fear the Walking Dead. It finally came back to kick off season 3 this past Sunday. My buddy reminded me and I almost forgot (I know. I should be ashamed). Anyway as 9 o clock approached, something else strange happened. It was a horrifying thing I myself have been dealing with. I usually try to push it out of my thoughts and deal with it the best way I can. However, that night it crept up on me like an annoying mosquito. A chill went down my spine while the thought possessed my mind. It took over my conscious making me ignore the most important thing on a Sunday night. I was being taken over, but I could not stop it. I had to know how to fix my problem. I had to find a way to combat my dry hair.

Yes people, dry hair. I have been dealing with this horror for months. Naturalistas gave me advice on how to keep my hair from being dry. Moisture is key they said. Deep Conditioning is important they said. However, after deep conditioning my hair once a week, my hair always eventually became a dry Brillo pad. I love my kinks and you must nurture what you love; I must continue nourishing my tresses. The itch for understanding took over this past Sunday and I missed the first seven minutes of Fear the Walking Dead. (Side note: It was an incredible episode. Please check it out if you have not. We got the gift of two.) I started looking up my hair type – a search I completed about a year ago but was still not completely sure at the time. A dope site called Black Naps had a quiz which helped me learn that my hair type is…… drum roll please………4b.  I learned that my hair type shrinks up to 70%, benefits from protective styles like buns, twists and braids and requires a lot of moisture, continuous deep conditioning and gentle cleansers.

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Through more research, the goddess at NapturallyCurly showed me the light in understanding why my hair is a Brillo pad. In an article about moisturizing your natural hair, the author of the site Lisa wrote about the importance of understanding your hair’s porosity which is how open your cuticles are on your hair shaft. Low porosity means that your hair is not getting enough moisture while high porosity means your hair is getting too much moisture. There was a link that led to a test in discovering your hair’s porosity. An adventurer at heart, I had to continue the quest in creating moisture for my kinks. As Travis was going through hell in fighting for his family, (Bit of a spoiler but you still need to watch to find the goods =p) I went into the kitchen to get a glass of water. The test: I had to put a strand of my hair in the cup to see if it sunk. If it sunk, my hair has high porosity. If it floated, my hair has low. As I sat back down to continue my show with the cup in hand, I sent a mental message to my hair follicle; “Little buddy, I am depending on you to help me understand you. We’re all rooting for you. I know you can do it.” I put the glass on a surface and placed the hair strand in the water then waited. While Fear the Walking Dead continued, my kink peered up at me as it stayed on the surface. A few minutes went by and it was still chilling at the top.

Discovery: my hair has low porosity. After all this time, now I finally know. The article  went on to explain how to care for the both high and low porosity hair which for me is with buttery products and oils like jojoba oil and coconut oil. The quest in understanding my kinks continues. I plan to try some butters and oils this week and see how it may help my hair. Though I loved the premiere of Fear the Walking Dead once I was able to fully focus, the fear of dry, brittle hair is far more scary. These now brown red, tapered kinky coils that sprout up from my scalp are a representation of who Tiffy is; I must honor, respect and treat them with care.

 

Holistic Event: Recharged and Loving It!

A few weeks ago, I went to a Holistic event in the Bronx called Let’s Get it Twisted: The Eclectic Bronx Natural Hair and ART Fest. It was hosted by the Bronx Holistic, Natural Healing and Wellness Center. I usually do not venture into the Bronx, but I kept seeing the ad for it on Facebook and I had to go. The world of holistic healing has been calling my name for years. I have dabbled in crystals, learned about chakras and meditate or do yoga whenever I can. But there is this world waiting for me to explore. Here comes this event that introduces this space to me a bit more. The first thing I did was buy this incredible painting by a beautiful spirit because as soon as I saw it, I knew it belonged in my room. After meeting the artist who made it Katya, I walked into a room that embraced me with it’s inviting energy. Another artist named Evan Bishop asked me how I could use my passions to help people. I had engaging conversations with a crystal jeweler and another fellow writer. I met amazing women who were entrepreneurs dedicated on working together on bringing more harmony and knowledge of self into the world. It was so refreshing. Not to mention, I also could not stop buying soaps and hair accessories. There was also a great workshop by an incredible sista named Katori Walker who spoke about the reality of natural hair in the workplace. I most definitely will continue this journey into holistic healing and natural health. My body is my temple and I strive to take care of it. Meeting so many energizing people is also a wonderful recharge to my spirit. If there is anyone else out there who is engaged in this world, feel free to reach out. I would love to here from you.

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Natural Hair Milestone

My Galaxy phone every few days reminds me of pictures I took years ago. Sometimes it’s a nice trek back into the past and at other times in brings up painful memories. However, today it brought back a natural hair milestone for me. A year ago today, I took a picture of my hair when I was first transitioning. I never noticed before until I saw that picture but you could see the permed hair meeting the new growth. It’s remarkable to me how much my hair has changed since I decided to go on this journey. I am so happy with how my hair is turning out even though my hair often times has a mind of it’s own.

 

Black Girls Learn Love Hard by Ras Baraka

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I went to this incredible conference called Queen Geniuses founded by Regine Roy at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn on March 18. The whole day was filled with enthusiasm, spirit, passion and an overflowing feeling of inspiration through speeches, workshops and performances. I was truly happy to be there. One of the components of the day included a workshop called “It Really Takes A Village” hosted by black feminist Dequi Kioni-Sadiki. I learned a lot including how the Black Panthers are the reason our kids receive free breakfast in their schools. Towards the end, Kioni-Sadiki shared an empowering poem called “Black Girls Learn Love Hard” by Ras Baraka (Dope poet and the current mayor of Newark, NJ) I fell in love with the difficult truth it portrayed about the struggles of being a black girl. Check out this engaging tale of how hard a black girl loves:

“Black Girls Learn Love Hard”

Black girls learn to love hard, A concrete love

An in spite of love, Even though love

An in between crying love, They learn love hard.

They rush to grade school dodging whistles.

And lewd stares from passing cars of men on their way to work.

They learn vulgarities as compliments

They pretend to get used to being touched when they don’t want to be

And get attention because they are pretty

Everyone wants to feel them, Press up on them

Rub against them, throw them down

Cuss them, Smack them

Penetrate them, Out of love

A be strong love, A hard love to swallow

Young girls sit on stoops and porches, In beauty parlor conversations

Watching their older sisters, With black eyes and bruised self-worth

Learning to be second, And how to hate men and love them.

All in the same sentence…..

Some girls watch their mothers get beat before, Breakfast

And get a ride to school quietly, In their boyfriend’s car

……They carry his drugs, Hold his weapons in their purses

Do time in jail, Fight other girls over our indiscretions

They love hard

Some girls learn to be alone, Some fall in love with crack or wine

And strain their withered brown bodies across the hood, Like a forgotten dream

Some girls met love in the dark while they were still

Vulnerable and small, From a familiar hand in a place they knew

Before they were even virgins, Shaking with terror and confusion

They know love as fear, Something they did to themselves

Love can’t be trusted/it’s ugly and happens to you when

Your back is turned, Love is too hard 

No one remembers that they used to be beautiful, Or smart

Or someone’s daughter, Someone’s sister/friend/a human being

They don’t get to be sweet or gentle, Or cared for

They have to do it alone, No help

……No time for pain or tears……..Black girls learn love hard

They learn sex as dialogue

They reason/their worth/best thing they have to offer

And some start talking at a very young age

They got a “ill na na”

Black girls learn to love hard, A concrete love

An in spite of love, An even though love

An in between crying love

They learn love hard.

Memories That Last a Lifetime: Mason Catering Wedding Expo

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Flowers are a gentle reminder of the slivers of beauty that exist in the world. They come in all types of colors, styles, and sizes. These products of nature are a unique part of the Earth in which we live in. Flowers were a beautiful addition to the Mason Catering Wedding Expo that took place on March 25, 2017 at the Adria Hotel & Conference Center in Bayside, NY. Like a flower, each vendor there had their own uniqueness shining through. They all represented an integral component that makes up the sensational spirit of a wedding. Each of them are a part of the formula which makes the spectacular union between two lovers magical on their wedding day.

“We are natural born entertainers. We make people happy.”  Benny Hype said from GT HIFI, a Mason Catering sponsored entertainment duo making their place at the event.

The DJs have been entertaining party goers for over 20 years at bridal and baby showers, bar mitzvahs, clubs and graduations.

Nigel Alfred stated that he’s happy when the bride is happy. A photographer who has traveled the globe, Alfred has worked professionally at birthdays, maternity and newborn shoots, engagements and baby showers, but has a strong focus on weddings.

“Wedding photography was a great source for me to develop my work,” he said.

Once invested in mostly street art, photographer Ricky “Dean” Scott is passionate about making the day special for the bride.

He said that no bride should ever have to worry about her pictures on her day as he retold a story of getting wet in the rain to capture the bride’s special moment.

“It (Weddings) happens so many times and every time it takes my breathe away,” he remarked.

At this wonderful event, an array of entrepreneurs made up the community dedicated to making the best of a bride and groom’s nuptial. Also in attendance was Pottery Barn, a known venue for bedding, kitchenware and more; Pauline’s Treats, a specialization in traditional and vegan baked goods, YoDog Media, a media company focused on digital and print videography and photography, photo booth rentals, web design and logo design; M & V Limousines Ltd, the largest limo company in NY that provides luxury vehicles; Rose Sweet Designs, a custom candy company that provides catering for sip & teas, baby and bridal showers and christenings; IP Phone System, a phone company that provides computer phones, video phones, phone greetings and much more telecommunication services; Bigga soft drinks, a flagship brand of the Wisynco group that is the only soft drink made locally in Jamaica; and Orchid’s Flowers and Gifts, a family owned business that specializes in day of the wedding services.

Renee Giscombe of Orchids Flowers and Gifts provides everything a couple needs for the day of their wedding. Wait staff, make-up artists, limos, photographers, hair stylists, fresh florals, candy stations, and more.

“From soup to nuts, we do everything,” Giscombe said. Her mother Ruth and brother Leo also have their own entertainment businesses located next to each other in which they all work together as a family.

Garrick Mason brought this community of entrepreneurs together to celebrate and showcase the magic they create for matrimonial ceremonies. After migrating here from Jamaica 10 years ago, Mason has been in the catering business for six years and four months.

Delsha Monroe, administrator for Mason Catering Services, said their goal is to make every event a memorable one. They offer cooking, meal preparation, and catering services (wait staff, bartenders, plated/buffet service, tables, chairs etc.) for all events whether big or small.

Once an employee at Golden Krust, Mason saw a need for low cost business for food. He started Mason Catering with only $150 in his pocket.

“I can never stop. I have to keep going. I always try to go forward no matter what,” he said. With three kids to motivate him, Mason aspires to take his business nationally. Mason Catering is already in Texas, Florida and California.

“If you think about it, you got it in you. Before a tree blooms, it goes through changes,” he said.

Like the changes and evolution of a flower, the talent, drive and compassion of all these individuals work together in blossoming a forever memorable moment for those ready to say “I Do.” I was honored to meet all the unique individuals dedicated to making the beautiful moments of a wedding incredible.

 

 

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Renee and Ruth Giscombe of Orchids Flowers and Gifts

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YODOG! Media

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Nigel Alfred Photography

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Rose Sweet Designs’ Candy and Cake Station