January’s Book Review

So, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to dedicate time to read at least one book a month. Here is the review for my book for January.

Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
Published by SmileyBooks; 1 edition (February 1, 2010)
Paperback: 283 pages
Source: Purchased from Amazon for $11.99

This book not only challenges the narrative of inferiority of African Americans in the US, but also provides an interesting analysis of the “brainwashing” that has infected the psyches of many African Americans. It breaks down how deep rooted insecurities  reaching back to the days of slavery still has a grasp on Black Americans today.

Burrell shows how words and images in music and the media have been used for years to manipulate how blacks are viewed in this country and subsequently how many of us have unconsciously viewed ourselves. While many will argue that racist media propaganda died with the end of the Jim Crow era, Burrel breaks down how mainstream news outlets today still focus heavily on the negative aspects of the African American life, while at the same time ignoring or downplaying our contributions. From the damning portrayal of light skinned black women as sex vixens in music videos to black comedians  and their jokes on serious issues of dysfunction such as “bitch black women, deadbeat dads, bad ass kids and battling black parents”.

If he has done nothing else, Burrel gets the audience thinking and perhaps starting to devise solutions to changing the way blacks perceive themselves and eventually how others perceive us.

I would highly recommend this book to any individual that wants to be enlightened.

Rating: Glowing Star on Apple iOS 11.2Glowing Star on Apple iOS 11.2Glowing Star on Apple iOS 11.2Glowing Star on Apple iOS 11.2

 

If anyone is interested, I will be reselling my copy (used, with normal wear and tear) for $7.99 +shipping and handling.

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Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas For Him

Guys can be tricky to buy gifts for, especially on such a holiday as Valentine’s Day. If you want to get him something besides candy and stuffed animals, there are plenty of other, more unique guy-friendly options to look out for. Just in case you’re having a little trouble deciding what that perfect gift might be, here are a few suggestions.

1. Beard essentials

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The internet is raving with the hashtag #BeardGang. If your special guy is sporting a trendy beard or goatee, help him tame his with all-natural beard oils, scented with organic essential oils. The Mod Cabin offers a variety of soaps and oils as well as grooming accessories. A lot of guys don’t know what tools to use when starting their beard journey, so give him a jump start.

2. Cuff links

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You know how girls gets really excited when they receive a bracelet with his name on it?  Have him walk around with your heart on his sleeves, literally, with a pair of personalized cufflinks. You can choose to only engrave his or go the distance with a combination of both your initials.

3. Wireless headphones

A pair of wireless headphones are essential for those intense days at the gym, long commutes home or for the avid gamer. If you want to make it all the way to “wife/girlfriend of the year” make him a playlist of all his favorite songs since high school.

 

4. Tickets to See His Favorite Sports Team

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If he is like my guy and loves all forms of sports, get him a StubHub gift card and let him pick the game.

 

For other last minute gift ideas head over to ManCrates where you are almost guaranteed to find that perfect gift for any occasion for the special guy(s) in your life.

Guys, what are some great gifts you’ve received? comment below

10 Ways to Keep That Smile Bright

1. Take Good Care of Your Toothbrush

Maintaining your toothbrush is an important part of having a healthy smile.
Take care of your toothbrush. Organisms that are removed from your mouth and teeth tend to thrive in dark, moist environments.In order to prevent overgrowth of these germs on the brush, rinse it well after brushing and store it in an upright position open to the air in order to keep it dry. Replace brushes frequently. The American Dental Association recommends replacing toothbrushes every three to four months, although with children you may need to change them sooner. Keep an eye out for frayed, worn bristles.

2. Don’t forget your tongue

Brushing your tongue is equally as important as your teeth. Brushing your tongue helps fight the bacteria in your mouth. Tongue brushing is not only essential for keeping your teeth healthy, but it also helps to stop bad breath. Try using a toothbrush with a cheek and tongue cleaner.

3. Gargle

Using the traditional Listerine helps control the growth of organisms and prevent bad breath. Another great alternative is gargling apple cider vinegar. Do this in the morning and then brush as usual for healthy teeth. The vinegar helps help remove stains, whiten teeth, and kill bacteria in your mouth and gums.

4.Baking Soda/Hydrogen peroxide

The home remedies of brushing baking soda and rinsing with hydrogen peroxide works so well: a few toothpaste companies have started adding them as activated ingredients in their products. Baking soda removes stains and whitens your teeth. Use it just as you would toothpaste. I started using activated charcoal last year which has the same consistency and it works great.

5.Consistent Brushing

Brush your teeth a minimum of two times per day, preferably in the morning when you get out of bed and at bedtime in the evening. They’re the two most crucial times, because saliva (which keeps cavity-causing plaque off teeth) dries up at night, so it’s best to have all plaque cleaned off the teeth before sleep. It’s also important to brush first thing in the morning to brush off plaque and bacteria (morning breath!) that may have built up as you slept.

6. Visit Your Dentist Regularly

With social media and everyone constantly taking pictures of themselves, we may become consumed with having pearly whites and forget the overall health of our teeth. Before you go out and buy a pack of white strips or set up an appointment for hyper-whitening with your local dentist, make sure everything else is taken care of, health-wise. Visit your dentist for routine check-ups and cleanings at least twice a year.

7. Avoid Stains on your White Canvas

You’ve probably already heard that coffee and red wine stain teeth, but they’re certainly not the only culprits. There are plenty of other foods and drinks that can stain your teeth such as:

  • white wine
  • blueberries
  • blackberries
  • pomegranates
  • soda
  • barbecue sauce
  • green tea
  • black tea
  • sugary treats
  • marinara
  • curry
  • turmeric
  • paprika
  • balsamic vinegarred-couple-night-romantic

8. Banana Rub

You can use the inside of a banana peel, which is rich in potassium, magnesium, manganese, and other minerals. Once the minerals are absorbed into the enamel, they help keep teeth their whitest and healthiest.  After you brush and floss, peel a ripe banana and then rub a piece on your teeth for two minutes. Rinse and repeat again before bed.bananas

9. Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is essentially swishing oil around the mouth and using it like a mouthwash. Coconut oil contains fatty acids that are broken down into teeth whitening enzymes when they come in contact with human saliva. In order to oil pull, you put a tablespoon of oil in your mouth, then swish it around for 15-20 minutes. When you swish the oil around your mouth, the bacteria get stuck in it and dissolve in the liquid oil. Making it easier to remove stains upon brushing and rinsing.

 

10. In-office Procedures

To get the fastest and most dramatic results, in-office is the preferred option. Dentists and dental hygienists are able to use stronger agents that quickly and effectively whiten teeth. You can actually see results within an hour, sometimes 10 shades lighter in a single session.  Some in office procedures include:

  • Laser Teeth Whitening

A syringe will be used to apply the whitening solution to your teeth alone, avoiding contact with the gums. Then use a small laser to activate the formula, and the compound will foam as it lifts the stains from your teeth. Once all the teeth have been whitened, the dentist will let the solution remain for a few minutes before wiping it off with a small vacuum. This will run you approximately $400

  • Custom Bleaching Trays
    Unlike the generic trays we use at home, a customized mold of your teeth is taken in order to create the trays that will provide a uniform coverage for the whitening gel. In-office whitening treatments also use a much higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide (home treatments use about 5% whereas professional treatments use up to 43%). Your dentist will then seat the tray firmly against your teeth, wiping off any excess gel. Your dentist will keep the tray on your teeth anywhere from 30-60 minutes before removing it and cleaning your teeth. This will run you approximately $800

What’s the secret to your bright smile? comment below.

Ski Gear

When it comes to preparing for a ski trip, the cold is no joke! Especially if you’re like me and start to feel a chill at anything below 75 degrees. Here’s a list of ski essentials:

  • A heavy coat/Ski Jacket

If you’re from down South, the little flimsy thing you wear to the park, is not enough. INVEST IN A COAT. This is imperative or you will come back with frostbite or be unable to participate in any outdoor activity as the temperatures remained 12 degrees and below. Your ski jacket should be waterproof, windproof, come up to your wrists and come up to your chin when zipped.

  • Ski Pants/Bib

These pants offer warmth in a lightweight, low bulk garment. They also provide adjustable comfort suspenders for the perfect fit with elasticized side gusts for maximum motion especially for when you’re flying down the slopes.

  • Hand Warmers

I discovered the hand warmers while I was on this trip and they were lifesavers. They’re similar to a heating pack that you place in your pockets or boots that provide up to 8 hours of warmth.

  • Goggles/Sunglasses

These are the most forgotten items but prove to be very necessary in protecting your eyes when going down the windy slopes.

  • Socks & Boots

Socks should be made of Lycra, nylon or other synthetic materials. NO COTTON as cotton retains water. Boots should have rubber soles, no heels as comfort and warmth are key for this trip, not fashion.

  • Thermals

Thermals should consist of turtleneck or long sleeve synthetic shirts under sweaters and fleece in order to maintain optimal body temperature.

Melanin On Ice

I hate winter. I hate everything about it. I never really saw the beauty in catching a cold or freezing your toes off. So how do you think I spent my MLK weekend? I went to a ski resort in Canada of course! I know what you’re all thinking, but I really wanted to surprise myself and branch out this year. So, I embarked on a trip to Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Ontario, Canada in the dead of winter and much to my surprise, I enjoyed myself. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I along with a few of my colleagues took part in the 22nd Annual MLK Ski Weekend. This winter getaway has allowed me to celebrate one of the most notable figures of the black community in the most creative way. In just 4 days and 3 nights we managed to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy while also experiencing a true winter festival. From snowboarding to tubing to partying to networking, there was something for everyone. As someone who tried snowboarding for the very first time, I can guarantee that its worth the experience. But don’t forget to bundle up! Stay tuned for for my upcoming blog post on how to stay warm while hitting the slopes.img_1641

Stops: Direct flight from Laguardia
Entry point: Toronto, Canada
Exit point: Toronto, Canada
Estimated Budget: USD $500/pp

Blue Mountain Resort Ontario, Canada

Ontario is Canada’s second largest province. English is Ontario’s official language, though there are several French-speaking communities across the province. So language barriers weren’t an issue on this trip. Once we landed in Toronto, we took a charter bus (which also doubled as a party bus!) to the resort in Ontario which took approx. 1 1/2 hours. The resort is located in a village right underneath Blue Mountain and consisted of two-bedroom suites and an on-site spa. Once we checked in we were presented with a lively welcome reception with a DJ, food, free T-shirts and a ton of free samples from Curlsimg_0475

Day 1: After a quick nap from all the traveling, my crew and I were off to a “Rep Your City” party from 11pm-2am. The only requirements were that all attendees had to sport gear representing their city. This was followed by a “While You Were Asleep” party as this was truly a no-sleep kinda weekend.

Day 2: After dancing the night away, I had to conjure up enough energy to attend “Fitness Boot Camp” which consisted of a lot of cardio. Once we hit the showers, it was time to hit the slopes and learn to ski and snowboard. After lunch we completed an Underground Railroad Black history Scavenger Hunt around the village. This was followed by an outdoor day party in 12 degree weather! Later that evening we attended a comedy show which was closely followed by a pajama party and that was followed by “Insomniac Party.”

Day 3: For those who felt confident enough to challenge themselves, we left the bunny slopes for the ski lift. Other options included ice skating and a tubing party. In the afternoon, I was taken for a tour of the village via a horse drawn wagon.

This was followed by a winter pool and hot tub party located within a nearby water park. Once we left the warmth of the pool, we went to a Caribbean Carnival party which consisted of live dancers in carnival costumes and drummers. We closed off the night with the very last party of the weekend better known as the “Last Call After Party.”

Looking back, I realized that this trip pushed me out of my comfort zone and also required a lot of stamina.

Pros:

  • I left the city and tried something new for the first time.
  • Great networking opportunity!
  • Made some new friends and travel buddies
  • Relatively affordable

Cons:

  • The temperature never went above 12 degrees.
  • Food options were very limited. We were only served chicken which proved to be difficult for a pescatarian such as myself.

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I’m Baaaaaaaaaack!!!!!!!

Hey Sistaz!
Its been a long time since my last post and I just want to quickly apologize to you. I’ve been working on a ton of different projects behind the scenes and its taken a toll on my blog. But with the new year comes a newfound motivation to share all things travel, beauty and health with you. I can’t wait to tell you all about what I’ve been up to and what new experiences await me in this new year. I’m still new to the blogging game so I just hope you gals bear with me. Because if you do, you’ll get to embark on a wonderful journey from the comfort of your own home. Stay tuned!
Love,
Em

NYC Jollof Festival!

This past weekend, I joined hundreds of my fellow New Yorkers at the New York City African Food Festival, where we determined which country will be handed the crown for the best Jollof, a spicy tomato-based rice meal that originates in West Africa.

Based on its name, the origins of Jollof rice can be traced back to the Senegambian region that was ruled by the Jolof Empire, a West African state that ruled parts of Senegal from 1350 to 1549. There are multiple regions in Africa who debate over the geographical origins of Jollof rice. However, one of the most vigorous Jollof rice rivalries has always been between Nigerians and Ghanaians. These two do not debate origin, but rather taste.

The contest, which was held at the Duggal Greenhouse in Brooklyn Navy Yard, July 23rd, was judged by professional chefs, but the contestants are amateurs, chosen to represent their home countries. To guarantee an authentic home cooked experience, the dishes were graded solely based on taste and not on presentation. Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Kenya were some of the countries present.

Visitors were able to try traditional drinks, and alcohol from West Africa, listen to live music, as well as purchase unique cultural wear and designs from members of Ankara Bazaar.

Just like the Jollof festival in Washington DC, Nigeria once again walked away victorious in the NY Jollof war!