Thanks for stopping by! This is my corner of the blogosphere where I'm keeping track of
styles/techniques/products, lessons learned, my to-do list, and favourite links.
Feel free to offer any comments, feedback, or advice - I'm learning as I go !

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cornrows into Ponytails - New Look with Pipe Cleaners!

At our house we try to get as much mileage out of a style as humanly possible, so I thought I'd follow up on my last post to show you how we stretched out JJ's last style; namely cornrows into pigtails, inspired by Rachelle Yakubu:

For those of you who wondered, JJ's t-shirt is Norwegian
(gifted from my Norwegian parents) 

After a few days of straight-ish bangs and ponytails, we decided to try the pipe cleaner method to curl up those braids. This was partly inspired by my recent adventures with Barbie boil perms and also inspired by Baby Big Hair posts on using pipe cleaners (this link is for Part III but be sure to also check out Part I and Part II).

So - we rolled those braids up before bed. It took about 7 minutes.

I rolled the "bang" braids by themselves, and rolled 2-4 braids together into one pipe cleaner for the ponytails.

The next morning we unrolled the pipecleaners (this took about 3 minutes).
Same style, new look!

I just **had** to throw this picture in the mix.

What do you think of the curly braids? JJ loved them, and they were really a quick and easy way to change up a protective style. And cheap as chips!! Just a dollar for a package of pipe cleaners. I've already styled 2 barbies plus JJ, and have lots left over!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cornrows into Pigtails - Inspired by Rachelle Yakubu

Over the weekend, JJ and I were looking through hairstyle photos on the Rachelle Yakubu Photography website. This amazingly talented photographer has a feature that we both adore - called Hairstyle Thursdays.

JJ put in a request for this hairstyle by Rachelle Yakubu, and I tried my best! (side note: we left out the beads - for now anyway)

We started with clean hair that has been loose and free in a 'fro for the day.

Her hair was well-hydrated thanks to a home-made shea butter/coconut oil/shea oil mix.

Just another reminder of JJ's non-shrunken length:

I started with some corn-rows into single braids, 'cuz JJ loves "bangs".


Then - it was bedtime! The next day, JJ wore her hair free in the back with the braided bangs.

At bed time, I banded the back of her hair for the night, to stretch it out. I typically use JJ's old tights (cut into strips)  to band JJ's hair as they are really gentle and are very quick to put in.

I wanted to make a curved part for the ponytails, because I loved the "freestyle" look of Rachelle's original style.

curved part for ponytails
I also decided not to put the lower back hair into the ponytails. Instead I chose to braid these downwards. JJ likes to keep some length in the back. I've also found in the past that the skin at the nape of her neck is sensitive. Downward braids do not seem to irritate her skin like upward braids have in the past.  

ready for bed!
The next day I cornrowed both sides into two side ponytails.

In the back I did one layer of cornrows into single braids, and added some single braids at the nape of her neck.

Yes, the phone again - favorite hair time distraction!

I pulled the back braids into a ponytail.

See, phone is put away - she's reading a book! Yay!

JJ loves her hair!!

Be sure to check out Rachelle Yakubu's Hairstyle Thursdays for some other beautiful styles and breathtaking photos!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Playing with Barbies - The Boil Perm

Boil perm, side view

JJ loves imaginary pretend play, and has a wide variety of dolls, including some Barbie/Barbie knock-offs. Here are a few of her dolls, waiting patiently for a tea party:

 From left to right:
"Isabel" with her short hair (TWA?); she also owns an afro wig and a spiral curl wig
"Merliah" with her hair down
"Dufferin" with a 'fro and headband
"Ballerina" with a big puffy pony

Now, Dufferin and Ballerina did not arrive at our house with such fabulous big hair. They were transformed, after I was inspired by Kristl from Playing With Barbies and Nikki at Beads, Braids & Beyond. These two trend-setting women put together a great tutorial on how to achieve natural hair for dolls using pipe cleaners.

I've been wanting to give this "boil perm" a try ever since I read the tutorial a couple of  months ago. I chose three dolls, all recent thrift store finds. They were all in excellent condition and all three had long, straight hair:

Things never quite go as planned at my house, and the doll on the right (green dress) ended up not getting a boil perm. As I was detangling her hair to get her ready for her perm,  I realized she might be a decent "demonstration" doll. I've been approached by a number of people asking me to show them how to cornrow, and I know JJ's activity level and temperament (ahem) may not allow for a live model. I gave her some quick cornrows on the side just to see how they'd look:

Not bad - a little too much scalp showing, but her hair did seem like it would work for demo-ing. Done.

The other two dolls got the full pipe cleaner/boil perm treatment. I switched up my methodology a little to see what worked best.

The dolls, chilin' while their pipe cleaners

METHOD ONE: For the doll on the left I twisted small sections of hair and wrapped the sections in a spiral around the pipe cleaners (see more photos, below). I made 21 sections in total.  

METHOD TWO: For the doll on the right I twisted very, very small sections of hair, and zig-zagged them around pipe cleaners that had been folded in half, as illustrated in the How To Play with Barbies Custom Rotini or Halo Hair post. Their were 58 sections in total. This took about 3 times longer than Method One. 

For both dolls I dipped their heads in boiling water for a slow count of ten and then let them sit for a couple of days life got really busy.

I was very excited to see Dufferin's transformation:

Row 1: D's straight hair, pipe cleaners from two angles (note spiral wrap)
Row 2: Pipe cleaners out, curls in the process of getting separated
Row 3: Amount of hair trimmed, final 'fro, and a headband

 And Ballerina's transformation:

Row 1: B's hair straight, and in zig-zagged pipe cleaners
Inset photos: Immediately after taking pipe cleaners out, pipe cleaners from the back
Row 2: Views of the really big 'fro, and pulled back into a large pony puff

Daddy D thinks I spent waaaay too much time on them. I, on the other hand, really enjoyed every minute of my time playing with barbies! And, most importantly, JJ loves her dolls and their new hair!!

While I'm on the topic of playing with barbies, here's a flashback to Merliah's 4-week collage from the last Protective Style Challenge (spring 2011) at Beads, Braids & Beyond's facebook page:

Twists, braids, bantu knots & knot-out!

And a link to one of my favourite posts at Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care, about using dolls to explain the importance of detangling to young children.

Finally, for some ***stunningly gorgeous*** barbies with natural hair, be sure to check out Natural Dolls by Beads, Braids & Beyond on Facebook.

I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts about dolls, hair, dolls' hair, boil perms, and playing with barbies!  Leave me a comment & let me know what you think...!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hair Carnival - Breast Cancer Awareness

In 2010, nearly 1.5 million people were told "you have breast cancer". (Breast Cancer Statistics Worldwide). 

This is a sobering statistic. 

Many (too many) of my own friends and family members have been affected by breast cancer.  I'd like to dedicate this post especially to my friend K who passed away a little over two years ago, and to my amazing friend J who continues to beat the odds. And to my grandma, who survived 40 years post mastectomy and had a wonderful life after breast cancer.

Last year, around this time, big brother J and I did our first 5K together (Run for the Cure) to raise money for breast cancer. Here he is, at the finish line:

J finishes his first 5K!
Our team dressed as cats in support of our friend C, a cat lover
As you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. For this hair carnival, the challenge has been to incorporate the breast cancer awareness logo - the pink ribbon - into our hair styles.

I started by parting JJ's hair ear to ear and put the front in large twists to keep it out of the way.

Moving to the back section, I parted out the "middle" of the ribbon, and clipped JJ's hair away so I could figure out what to do next.

I then did piggyback ponytails around in a circle, criss-crossing at the bottom. I used pink ouchless bands, of course!

It's a bit hard to see, but I flat-twisted the middle section of her hair. I started at the bottom and made my way around counter-clockwise. I twisted the remaining ends and secured them in a twisted bantu knot.

I then did a large flat twist (into braid) at the front and secured the ends with a pink ribbon barrette (oops it flipped over in this picture).

I think she's watching TV here - thus the zoned-out face
JJ adored this style, and a few people even recognized it as being the breast cancer pink ribbon!

Later in the week, for a simple change, I did smaller two-strand twists in the front section, gathered these in a ponytail, and added a (homemade) breast cancer awareness ribbon to the ponytail.

I also took out the then-fuzzy piggyback ponytails, and flat-twisted the hair, again in the ribbon "shape". I added two small ribbons to the ends of the twists.

This hair carnival was a fun challenge. It has also meant a lot to me personally, to participate in a carnival that helps raise awareness for a cause that is very important to me. 

There are so many other brilliant and creative styles in this carnival - be sure to check them all out by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post! 

Also, this month, please consider making a donation to help fund education, screening and/or research programs for breast cancer. These programs have the potential to dramatically increase survival rates! 

A special shout-out to my blogger friend Mikimu, who is raising funds in the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure this year. Good luck Mikimu!

Finally, I'd like to share link - this is an amazing, very moving film my friend J's young son made about her - called Mommy has Breast Cancer.

J- keep fighting -xoxo !!!!!
K - I miss your laugh and your crazy handwriting ):
Grandma - I wouldn't have met you had you not beat that cancer! I'm so glad we had all those years together!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Toronto Natural Hair and Beauty Show 2011

It's taken me a while to write about it, but the Toronto Natural Hair and Beauty Show was simply incredible.

JJ and K at the Toronto Natural Hair Show!
I have never seen so many beautiful hairstyles - and so many natural hair products - all in one place. I was too busy taking it all in to remember to take photos, but you can check out these slide shows from the Natural Hair Show website

I was literally like a kid in a candy store. I had a very modest budget and spent it very quickly, which was exciting (there's nothing like retail therapy!). But the best part by far was connecting with workshop facilitators and participants, as well as the many vendors. I could go on forever - so I'm going to try to concentrate on favourites:


The product selection from the people at Honey Fig was amazing. I saw all kinds of products I'd only ever seen in the blogosphere (seriously, click on that link to see the incredible selection!). The staff were very knowledgeable and helpful. There is a retail store in Toronto, and Honey Fig will ship their great selection of products to Canada AND the US.  Did you click on that product link yet?

The people from The Natural Beauty Shop were so warm and approachable. They had great information about Hair Analysis and Building a Hair Regimen. They also provide a very unique service - In-Home Natural Hair Consultation Shows - where  they will do a hair analysis and personalize a hair regimen for each guest. A "Hair Party" is DEFINITELY on my to-do list!! 

Finally, the people from i HEART my hair were awesome. Their website is undergoing maintenance and is soon to relaunch, but you can check out the i Heart my hair facebook page here. They were selling these lovely T-shirts:

Sadly, I was out of money by the time I reached their booth ): but I hope to buy one of their shirts asap!


The couple from Eli's Body Shop were unbelievably nice. I spent a lot of time looking at and smelling their wonderful natural products. I got a very good ((off-list)) price on this Organic Shea Oil with Lemongrass. It smells amazing. So far I've used it on JJ's and Daddy D's hair, and am hoping to incorporate this oil (and it's delicious scent) into some of my upcoming homemade concoctions (stay tuned)!!


Although I've read a lot about Taliah Waajid products I've never seen them in Canada. I asked the vendor at the Taliah Waajid booth what she would recommend for little brother K's multiple curl-pattern 'fro. She suggested the Taliah Waajid Protective Mist Bodifier. I wasn't sure, so she convinced me by trying some out right then and there. After a few sprays and a little rubbing, his curls looked refreshed and shiny. I picked up a bottle at a very good price. After checking out this review at Happy Girl Hair once I got home, I transferred the product to a better spray bottle and diluted it with 2 parts water to one part Bodifier. Especially diluted with water I feel this product is a great value and works wonders for K's hair (review with photos coming soon).


The day before the event I was reviewing the program. One of the many seminars that caught my eye was this one:

Natural Hair and Natures Waves: A business
Mariam Ibrahim and Donna Kakonge
Did you know hairstyling has always been a major way for black women to earn an income? Mariam Ibrahim who left her government job to start a natural hair business and Donna Kakonge who received funding from the University of Toronto to study natural hair at the doctoral level will share their story.

Participants will learn tips and techniques on how they can use natural hair to finance many of the dreams that they have or turn the art of working in the natural hair care field as a dream in itself. They will also learn the dos and donts of loc maintenance.

I could not believe my eyes! Donna Kakonge is my neighbour and friend! We have spoken many times about many things, and I have often admired her natural hair, BUT I had **no idea** she was facilitating a workshop at the Show AND studying natural hair at a doctoral level!! And she had no idea that I had a little natural hair blog!! It goes to show that sometimes we have resources and connections in our own backyards that we don't know about.

I ran over to her place to share my excitement, but she wasn't home, so I decided I would surprise her by attending her seminar. The kids' nap schedules did not cooperate, so I arrived slightly late for her seminar and snuck in at the back. By the time I got there, the discussion had turned to loc maintenance, which was great since I am a relative newbie at taking care of Daddy D's locs. People started talking more generally about natural hair and hair care, and much to my surprise, Donna saw me and shouted me out in front of the whole group, bigging up my cornrowing skills! Everyone turned to look at me and although I'm sure I blushed a little I was very proud of myself and how far I've come over the last couple years. I mean, I have gone from knowing nothing about natural hair being shouted out by a facilitator at the Natural Hair Show!


I loved sharing this experience with my family. Big brother took a pass, but Daddy D, JJ and K all came with me. We also ran into our friends Mama L and her gorgeous daughters O and Baby T. Daddy D generously offered to take O, JJ and K so that Mama L and I could ran around and look at products. I loved scanning the room and seeing them all holding hands, checking out the vendors. They got a lot of attention - one big natural with three little naturals in tow! 

O, Daddy D, JJ and K checkin things out
For those of you who haven't yet had the chance to go to a Natural Hair Show in your area, I highly recommend it. It's an incredible way to learn from and connect with others interested in natural hair. And there's so much to see (and BUY)! I can't wait for next year!!