With the closing of the old year and the  beginning of every new for many, including myself it’s a time of analysis and deep reflection. Did I accomplish my goals for the year, both personal and professional, have I become a better human, has the world become a better place? How can I improve? What steps will I take to make the next year more successful? Every year without fail, that’s my train of thought as the year whittles away to its end. 2016 though, has completely caught me by surprise and filled me with disbelief, disgust and fear. After the presidential election I was numb, I cried for two days. I began to see the world through murky coloured glasses because of our country’s decision. For the first time in a very long time, I meet everyday with a knot in my stomach and fear in heart. Uncertainty looms heavily in the air. I wonder how our new president and his administration will affect the livelihood of so many whose lifestyle, culture, religion, skin colour, sexual orientation, gender, economic background and income do not reflect their own. I understand that we are only 16 days in as of me writing this post, but as it stands, we should all be worried.

 

 

Thinking about my own first world problems for a moment, I wonder how the new changes being put into effect by our current administration will affect me personally. As a solopreneur and freelancer, what am I supposed to do about healthcare now? As a woman, what about my reproductive rights? As a West Indian woman, born on American soil with a U.S. passport, can I travel freely into and out of the land of the free and the home of the brave? As a black woman should I quietly fear for my life anytime I’m driving or just existing for that matter and I notice a police officer? What about my family? My black, brown, and other brothers, cousins, friends as well, whose beliefs, culture and religion don’t fit in the current administration’s goal of making America great again? Can we gather normally and peacefully to catch up over old times, have a lunch or even a business meeting without someone telling us we don’t belong here, spewing vitriol at us, feeling that they’re justified in their actions and stand behind their president. To them all they’re doing is there part to see our country go back to its ‘old fashioned values’, you know when strange fruit hung from trees amidst the amber waves of grain.

 

I’m spent. There’s no other way to put it. I’m emotionally despondent and mentally spent. Hence my 2017 blog plan which should’ve started off without a hitch and by now would be rolling into the season of commercial love and chocolate kisses. I had plans y’all! I do still have big plans for the blog this year, tons of recipes and great content to share with all of you. But right now in my current state of mind, I don’t find it appropriate to talk about the making a delicious organic V-day meal for you and bae, I can’t discuss the latest celebrity gossip, liquid lipsticks and other lifestyle fodder. I can’t think about trips to faraway locales or styling seasonal look books because I’m not okay with America and the way things are going right now. As Luvvie says, I am unable to can. And that’s okay. I’m human and deeply sensitive to our current state of affairs, my she-motions are showing and I am not ashamed. I have decided that January was a trial month and that I shall begin again in February. I will do my best to get back on track and share great content with you whilst still making sure to look after myself and I hope you all will do the same. Self care is the best care, it is important and vital to our mind, body and spirit. With that being said I should be returning to regularly scheduled blog posts in the next two weeks. I just had to express what I’ve been feeling the past few months.

How are you coping with the new American order? Let me know what’s bothering you the most and how you’re making sure to take care of yourself. Cousin Evelyn is handing out juice boxes and kind words on her YouTube channel and I’m sending you all internet hugs. See you on the other side.

 

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The Virgin Islands, St.Croix in particular has always had deep ties with the neighboring island of Puerto Rico for centuries, our food and culture are a reflection of that relationship. Growing up in St.Croix whilst having strong family ties to Puerto Rico means that we used and still continue to cook with a few staples in la cocina. Don’t believe me? Two words: Adobo y Recaito. Listen. If it ain’t in the pot meen want it okay? Adobo and Recaito/Sofrito are seasonings (dry and wet respectively) that are used in Puerto Rican cooking. European chefs have their mirepoix, we have Recaito. This blend of leaves from the recao plant (cousin of cilantro), onions and peppers is the base of many a dish. It can easily be found in the grocery, Goya and Bahia, which are two of the most popular brand can be found in your seasoning aisle, usually stateside and abroad it will be found in the international foods aisle. But here en el caribe, it’s front and center in the spice aisle. You can also find it in the frozen food aisle near the other international food items, in my opinion frozen is the way to go if you buy it in the grocery store, less preservatives…and all that jazz.

 

Recaito is relatively easy to make, I grew up watching my mom and her friends making it from scratch when they harvested their own recao and peppers from their gardens. You can add whatever you like within reason but I keep to the standard recipe and add a twist. I roast my veggies before blending to bring out the flavor. To me it adds another level of depth to the recaito.

Chopped up and ready to go!

 

The aftermath…plant those seeds and watch them grow! Like seriously…plant them!

 

All roasted! I wish you could smell this!

 

 

I usually make a big batch in my Ninja blender and then place in jars and plastic containers. My jars are small so that’s what I use first, the rest is placed in the freezer until I run out.I use recaito in all my bean, rice, and stewed meat dishes. It also pops up in many of my other kitchen experiments as well. Have you ever tried recaito/sofrito? What’s your favorite dish to use it in?

 

 

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Oh my dear sweet home. Being born and raised here on St.Croix I feel that I’ve been really blessed to soak up the natural beauty of my island. I can’t speak for others but being born in such a tiny place with such a huge back story and history is amazing to me. Whenever I feel down or just need inspiration, all I need to do is step out of my front door and take in the sights, smells and sounds of Twin City. I always say on a good day you can see everything but on a clear day you can see forever. And we have tons of clear days so when they come I love to take advantage of them,  that’s why I knew I had to take this opportunity to get out and enjoy some of the local sunshine and sights to see. I don’t care what you’ve heard there’s nothing like the Crucian sun, if you let it it will kiss you with the most golden glow.

 

 

 

Top: Primark Denim Shorts: Old Navy

 

Have you ever seen water so crystal clear and blue?

 

 

In honor of my Springtime glory I wrangled up the crew for a shoot on the west side of the island. But first let me give you a little history on one of the most beautiful places on earth, America’s Paradise, mi tierra, my home. St.Croix is the largest of the 4 islands that make up the U.S.Virgin Islands. About 90 miles south of Puerto Rico, St.Croix has at one point and time been under the rule of 7 different countries: England, France, Spain, Holland, the Knights of Malta, Denmark and most recently the United States. Marked by white sand beaches, warm people and an up and coming food scene, life on St.Croix is not without its charms and simple delights.

 

Goddess Twist Dress: Fashion 2 Figure

 

 

We drove North of town out to the Butler Bay ruins, many moons ago St.Croix was one of the top producing sugar cane plantations. And do you know what comes after sugar? RUM! St.Croix is also home to two rum distilleries, the age old Cruzan Rum and more recently Captain Morgan. So when you visit know that you’re in rum country and we take our spirits seriously.

 

Oh hey! Just hanging amongst the ruins…

 

 

Floral Kimono: Marianne’s               Dress: Forever21              Floral Headband: Claire’s

 

 

Butler’s Bay or Bottler’s Bay as it was originally listed according to Florence Lewishon’s St.Croix Under Seven Flags, was gifted to a new settler to encourage agriculture production in the Northwest area of the island. (Can you imagine being gifted an entire plantation? (Oh to melanin deficient in those times.) Back to story…the plantation and great house that were constructed on this property were very extravagant. Today the Great House has been restored to it’s former splendor and if i’m not mistake is available to purchase for a cool $1 million. The ruins  below still tell the story of a time long gone where sugar reigned supreme. I love coming here to shoot pictures or just on a long Sunday drive. It’s quite peaceful.

 


Do you have any warm weather historical haunts that you like to hang out at or visit often? Let me know in the comments!

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Photo credit: Icy Moonlight Fotografie Makeup: Fierce Fusion by Jai

Believe it or not summer isn’t my favorite time of year, I’m more of an Autumn/early winter and not for all that pumpkin spiced nonsense either! I just love the chill in the air and the turning of the leaves. I love the way the leaves crunch under my feet as I walk down the street.

But summer isn’t without its benefits either. You eat less, you wear less and spend more time outdoors. And the bounty of vegetables that are available are simply amazing. And that always gives way to good eats! As I sit here listening to Nirvana and wondering what exactly does teen spirit smell like, I’m using my trusty mandoline to slice up a ton of fresh veggies in preparation for this week’s kitchen experiments. I cook all the time and often notice out of convenience I tend to make the same things.  I decided now was a great time as any to make a ratatouille. I’ve never had one before and recall hearing about it or taking an interest in the dish until I saw the Disney movie bearing the same name.

 

 

 

 

 

The dish is very rustic and includes a few simple ingredients, technically it’s a stew but I don’t like wet veggies so I baked mines in the oven. I also did a quick sauté of all the veggies prior to assembling to put in the oven. This also helps to get rid of excess moisture. Because again…I don’t like soggy, wet vegetables.

To up the ante I covered the bottom of my dish with a garlic wine based sauce and then carefully assembled the vegetables in some semblance of a pattern to make it look pretty, popped it in the oven and then waited for the magic to happen. I served it up with crusty French bread with a schmear of mascarpone cheese.

The hardest thing to do was assembling the veg but the payoff was perfect! Pretty to look at and delicious to eat!

 

Ratatouille

1 medium sized zucchini (courgette)

1 medium sized eggplant (aubergine)

1 medium yellow squash

1 onion diced (I prefer Vidalia, you can use whatever you like)

1 can crushed tomatoes

1 bell pepper, yellow -sliced into strips

½ cup water or broth

Olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic minced

Salt

Pepper

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees*

  1. Use a mandoline or knife to slice vegetables thinly (after slicing vegetables I sprinkled a tiny bit of salt on them to pull the moisture out, and let them drain on paper towels) 
  2. In a saucepan add ¼ cup of olive oil on medium heat, mince garlic and add to pan, be careful not to let it burn, once the garlic becomes fragrant in the pan add the crushed tomatoes, add the ½ of broth (or water) and reduce to simmer, season with salt and pepper.
  3. In another pan on medium heat add 1tablespoon of olive oil, throw in diced onions and saute until transparent, season with salt and pepper sparingly.
  4. Heat a medium sized skillet/frying pan on medium heat. Once the pan is hot, arrange a layer of veggies and allow to brown lightly *this step isn’t necessary, I do it because it takes out even more moisture and i like my veggies with a bit of bite. Repeat this step until all the vegetables have been sauteed and allowed to cool.
  5. Now it’s time to assemble. First we start with our tomato garlic mixture.We cover the bottom of our baking dish with the sauce first.

6. Next we add a layer of sauteed onions.

 

      7. Then bring on the veg. You can layer or assemble any way you please, I like to alternate between veggies. And you can use any pattern your heart desires.  

 

      8. Garnish with a pepper slices.Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove and serve.

 

Hot and fresh out the oven!

Ratatouille with toasted French bread and a schmear of marscapone cheese.

 

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Hey guys,

I’m back with Part II, answering all your questions. So let’s get right into it, shall we?

What oils do you use?

For the most part the oils that constantly circulate in my regimen are: Jamaican Black Castor Oil (JBCO), regular Castor OIl, Jojoba Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Argan Oil, I also use Naptural85’s oil mix for hair & body which contains some of the oils mentioned above in addition to Sweet Almond Oil, Avocado Oil and Vitamin E oil. 

 

What tools do you use?

  • Q-Redew Steamer
  • Conair Ion Shine 1875 Watt Styler 
  • Remington Pearl Pro Ceramic
  • Tangle Teezer (that’s on its last days)
  • Denman brush that I’ve removed half the bristles
  • Wide-tooth combs (I have several)

What’s your regimen?

I think I mentioned before but here we go again:

Weekly-Pre-poo> co-wash/deep condition> detangle > air dry> style

Every 4-6 weeks clarify> deep condition> detangle > air dry > style

I do braid outs/twists outs in the beginning of the week, by week’s end I do some time of bun or pouf. I usually protective style with mini twists or buns. Winter months I do wigs or Marley twists if I’m stateside.

Will you relax again?

At this stage of the game, no, but never say never. I feel I have more flexibility with my hair currently than I did when it was relaxed. My hair has always been pretty healthy and had good length but the way that natural game got me that new level of BAH-DEE…I won’t change that for the world.

Are you mixed?

With the blood of my ancestors yes I sure am! I did recently take a DNA test thru Ancestry.com, and my results are 90% of African descent and 10% European.

What’s your hair type?

I am Type 4, a mixture of 4a, 4b, and 4c, nape is 4a, temple sand perimeter area 4a/4b, and crown mostly 4b/4c.

Protective styles- Weaves vs. Wigs?

I’ve used both as a protective style and for the most part I think it’s a matter of preference. I think the most important thing is to remember that you DO still have to maintain your own hair. Often times I notice women who plop on a wig or sew in a weave and they are not caring for their hair underneath, which leads to tons of problems including traction alopecia, dandruff, breakage, permanent hair loss and other damage. PROTECT YOUR EDGES BOO! I understand it’s easy to set it and forget it but you have to still take time to protect what’s rightfully yours. I love weaves, but I prefer wigs because I can switch it up often, and I have direct access to my hair.

I want my hair to look like yours!

I hear this from women a lot. Some have said they can never go natural because they got that ‘tough, nigg*r hair, that I’ve got ‘breed’ because my hair look so soft and they’ve got that ‘back to Africa brillo head’ these are all derogatory statements I’ve heard time and time again. And they are all FALSE! Look Imma be real with you, your hair will never look like mine, you know why? Because we don’t share the same DNA, and even my siblings and I don’t have the same hair texture. What’s on my head is literally my own unique genetic configuration and that’s fine. Yours will be different and that’s FINE. So no our hair textures may never sync up exactly but what you CAN do is nurture and love yourself and your hair and embrace YOUR texture. Good Hair is HEALTHY hair so focus on that. And don’t get caught up in hair type envy wishing your hair could do this or that. You want ringlets or corkscrews? Girl so a bomb ass braid out, twist out, blow out, threading or whatever you need to do to get that style. It’s possible with practice.

Jouelzy has a video that talks more in-depth about texture envy and setting realistic expectations for 4c hair. You don’t have to be 4c to get the message though. So I urge you to take a look.

Do you take supplements?

I do. I take a daily women’s multi-vitamin and hair, skin, and nail vitamin.

Other supplements I take from time to time are: garlic pills and a probiotic, right now I’m currently out so it’s time to restock.

 

That’s it for Part II and stay tuned for Part III. Until then tell me what your hair story? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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