Fearless Friday 5.29.15

Happy Fearless Friday Loves!

I will just leave you all with a quote to ponder as you wrap up your fearless week…

Validation
This week I’ve been reflecting on the incredible feeling of power that comes when we truly don’t need other people to validate our choices. Some of us are blessed with a wide and deep support system that encourages us no matter what we do or don’t do. Some of us are lucky to have 1 or 2 people in our corner. Regardless of where we stand, there is unstoppable power when we have enough inner strength and momentum to plow forward regardless of other people’s opinions.

Happy Friday!

Feelin’ the Classic Man

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

So I don’t know about you all, but I’ve been on some chill ish lately. I’m all about keeping drama/negativity to a minimum and all about cool vibes right now.

Besides getting my crafty creative juices flowing by making my first batch of homemade lotion last weekend, I’ve been vibe-ing out to the music from the artists of Janelle Monae’s Wondaland Records music label–a “for artists by artists” record label. I was a little late getting acquainted to the awesomeness that is Janelle Monae, but now that I’m in the mix, I can’t get enough.

I especially can’t get enough of one of the newcomers under this music label, Jidenna. It’s one thing that his new single makes me want to dance in my seat, but I think that anytime we see a black man that’s talented, smart, and socially-conscious get some mainstream attention in the music world, there’s cause for twerkin’. He’s got this old school meets new school feel that I love. Plus he can flow and he graduated from Stanford University–he’s lucky I’m married. I love that his “Classic Man” style shows our youth a different image of black masculinity that’s cool, confident, and classy.

Check out his “Classic Man” video featuring Roman GianArthur below.

Doesn’t that video make you wish you were getting turnt at that party? Give me a party where you can let your hair down and not end up on the nine o’clock news and I’m there. I also just love the scene when he takes the teenagers that are about to get arrested back to school. Yasss. I appreciate the message about taking an interest in our youth and showing them a better way.

To get another taste of Jidenna’s rapping chops, check out this live video for his song, “Long Live the Chief.” One of the highlights from this video is definitely the line “Can’t spell but we know our instagrammar.” Preach. We all know our youth are on the struggle these days and I think more images of artists like Jidenna and Monae in mainstream music can be at least a small part of the solution.

Let me know your thoughts on Jidenna and this movement to spotlight more variety in the mainstream Pop/R&B/Hip-hop/Trap genres in the comments or on Facebook.

And because I love my popped people, I’m gonna throw in the epic new single by Ms. Monae featuring the “Classic Man” himself for your viewing pleasure. Get some “Yoga” in your life if you haven’t already 😉

Lotion-Making Fun: My Very First Time

As you all may remember from a few of my previous posts, especially “Happy Mother’s Day from PBWB,” I have wanted to try making my own lotion for some time now and I ordered lotion-making supplies last Mother’s Day weekend. Well, my supplies have arrived and I made my first batch of lotion this weekend! I was so excited! And the more amazing thing is that I was able to eat lunch, plan and calculate ingredients, and make my lotion all within the timeframe of my daughter’s nap time on Saturday afternoon!

I used a recipe that’s been on my Pinterest board for awhile from a blog post called “Gift Series-Lotion Tutorial (from Scratch)” on a blog called Soap Queen. I used many of the same ingredients as Soap Queen except for the type of preservative used. I also left out avocado oil. I used her recommended percentages of ingredients for the most part. The process wasn’t too bad at all. There are definitely some changes that I would make for next time that I will explain later, but as I said it was a pretty quick process. I probably spent no more than an hour to an hour and a half actually making the lotion, including planning and a lazy cleanup (I didn’t wash all of the dishes right away.)

Carla’s Lovely Lavender Lotion Ingredients 😉

–    70%    Distilled Water
–    15%    Shea Butter
–    7.75% Sweet Almond Oil
–    3%      Emulsifying Wax (to bind the water and oil/butter together)
–    3%      Stearic Acid (for texture–known to make lotion thicker and fluffier)
–    0.75% Optiphen Plus (a paraben and formaldehyde-free preservative)
–    0.5%   Essential Lavender Oil

Tools & Equipment

I used the same items as the Soap Queen with the exception that I used three (expected to use 4 but I’ll explain later) 4 oz jars and plenty of paper towels. I also used pH strips because of the type of preservative I used.

Ingredients with website
I had a pot of boiling water on the stove. I used a strainer on top so that the steam could help melt the emulsifying wax and stearic acid. Looking back, it would’ve been a lot simpler to just use the microwave to melt these like the Soap Queen blog suggested. That was me doing too much. Smh.

The emulsifying wax and stearic acid before I melted them.

The emulsifying wax and stearic acid before I melted them.

Once the emulsifying wax and stearic acid were in liquid form, I added sweet almond oil and Shea butter to the warm mixture.

I stirred the shea butter in until it melted. For a few seconds, I put the mixing bowl inside the strainer that was on top of the pot of boiling water I had on the stove to speed up the process.

I stirred the shea butter in until it melted and even heated the bowl a little on my makeshift double-boiler on the stove.

Once the oil/butter mixture was liquefied, I measured and added distilled water. I didn’t warm the water first, but I definitely will next time. The distilled water was room temperature, but it caused some pieces of wax to form in the bowl, which could’ve been avoided if I’d warmed the water. The lotion turned out pretty smooth after mixing, but I have noticed some tiny clumps that feel waxy. If you try making your own lotion, avoid my mistake and HEAT UP YOUR WATER!

After adding distilled water, I stirred the mixture with a spoon, then used a hand mixer until it seemed well blended.

After adding distilled water, I stirred the mixture with a spoon, then used a hand mixer until it seemed well blended.

During the mixing process, I wished that I’d used a bigger mixing bowl because tiny drops of lotion splashed from the bowl from time to time. It wasn’t a ton, but I think it could’ve been avoided by using a deeper bowl.

The pH looked okay to me. Optiphen Plus can work above a pH of 6, but that's not an optimal environment for it.

The pH looked okay to me. Optiphen Plus can work above a pH of 6, but that’s not an optimal environment for it.

After the lotion looked smooth and fluffy (despite air bubbles that eventually went away as the lotion settled), I checked its pH and temperature. The preservative I used, Optiphen Plus, is most effective in products with a pH of 6 or below. The temperature of the product must be below 176 degrees Fahrenheit/80 degrees Celsius before adding Optiphen Plus as well. Once everything seemed fine, I added the fragrance (essential lavender oil) and preservative.

me pouring lotion
Overall, I consider my first try at making homemade lotion to be a success. I love how it feels on my skin. Hubby even likes it too and we tend to differ in our lotion preferences. I’m usually #TeamAveeno while he’s #TeamVaselineBrand all day, everyday. My skin feels very moisturized, but not too greasy. The consistency of the lotion is good for warmer weather. It’s not heavy, but not too watery either. It absorbs right into the skin after rubbing it in for a few seconds. Because of the Shea butter, a little bit of this goes a long way. I can’t wait to experiment with scents! The lavender smell is present in this batch, but it’s kind of overpowered by the Shea butter scent.

Besides for the things I’ve already mentioned, here are a few more things that would’ve made the process run more smoothly.

For next time…

–    Get a scale that has .1 g or .01 g precision! It was tough to get the measurements right because my scale would only show me 317 g instead of 317.5 g, which is kind of a big deal, especially as I start to repeat recipes and need the same results each time. I was able to get a little more precise by checking my weights in ounces, but I think my lack of precision is why I didn’t yield as much lotion as I expected. I planned to make 16 oz, but only yielded about 10 or 11 oz.

–    Think about using a pipette to remove and add ingredients while weighing things on the scale. This would make it easier to go from say 0.11 oz to 0.12 oz when measuring ingredients. Yeah, I definitely have my Type A personality moments. I like things to be just right.

–    Use a larger beaker for measurements, especially for measuring out the distilled water, and use a large beaker for making the lotion itself so that it will be easier to pour the finished lotion into their jars or bottles.

IMG_2116
That’s one more item checked off of my 101 Things in 1001 Days list! Will any of you try to make your own lotion? Have you made some in the past? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook!

Fearless Friday 5.22.15 (Being)

Happy Fearless Friday Folks!

I would like to congratulate Dee from The Understanding of Dee blog for winning On Becoming Fearless by Arianna Huffington! Thanks so much Dee for reading my latest “Popped Books” post and participating in the giveaway! If you all haven’t checked out her blog yet, get your life together and see what she’s up to! I’m lovin’ her “30 Things by 30” series!

This week…

I’ve been thinking a lot about appreciating the tiny joys of life. I think my daughter helped me learn this.
london with her stick backyard
Right now, she’s really into sticks…more specifically, tree branches. I love the excitement on her little face when she finds a stick and how she just can’t stop saying, “Stick” over and over again as if she loves to say the word just as much as finding one.

The things that adults consider ordinary or even trash, toddlers find awe-inspiring. They appreciate the so-called “little things” and they live in the moment. They don’t carry the burden of obsessing over the future like most adults do.

Of course, there are times to put your big girl pants on, be serious, and take care of business, but I think that most of us could use a little more childlike wonder and joy in our lives.

I’ve been channeling my inner Little L this week, learning to just be…and be grateful; learning to be content in the moment and grateful for every part of the journey instead of obsessing over the next phase. It really hit me this week that if I don’t appreciate what I have at this moment, nothing else that I do or receive in the future will ever be enough.

Today…

Just be. That’s enough. There’s nothing wrong with striving and climbing, but it can’t hurt to stop and reflect on the view from where you’re at every now and then.

Cheers to being both aware and grateful for each moment, especially those with our loved ones!

Stay fearless…and popped 😉

Popped Books: “On Becoming Fearless” by Arianna Huffington (Thoughts and Giveaway!)

flikr

Source Athena Letrelle via Flickr 10/13/08 CC BY-ND 2.0

I’m very happy to announce that I’ve just finished an entire book. Yes, I actually read it from beginning to end even though it took me several months to do so! It’s so hard to buckle down and read in our world of “go, go, go.” It’s so much easier to waste my spare time checking my news feed on Facebook.

On Becoming Fearless…In Love, Work, & Life is written by Arianna Huffington, founder of the wildly popular Huffington Post. After the online blog was acquired by AOL, she became the President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. She’s also known as a prominent political figure and ran for Governor of California in 2003. Huffington reflects on fearlessness in relation to her professional experiences as well as from the lens of being a mother of two girls.

Shout out to Shahidah from Properly Improper for sending me her copy of On Becoming Fearless. It was on my “Boss Books” Pinterest board after I read an article about it so I jumped at the chance of winning it via a book giveaway that Shahidah had on her blog. I feel that it’s only right that I pay it forward to my positively optimistic & powerful readers! If you would like the Shahidah-Carla special edition of this book after reading my thoughts on it, peep the giveaway instructions at the end of this post.

So…Shahidah wasn’t in love with this book when she read it and I have to admit that it was a struggle for me to get through the first half of it. I think the primary reason why it was a struggle to keep reading it is because there were so many other things competing for my limited entertainment time–reading blogs and blogging, watching Being Mary Jane, Scandal, and Empire, and the greatest distraction of them all, Facebook.

IMG_2079Once I actually pushed myself to sit and read after Little L was put to bed for the night, I felt like I couldn’t really connect with the book because there were so many stories being told at once. Huffington includes A LOT of quotes and short essays from other prominent women on being fearless in relation to specific topics. This annoyed me at first. It read more like a research paper than a self-help book. However, after I got used to the writing style and forced myself to stick with it, I gathered quite a few inspirational nuggets from Huffington and the accomplished women that she quotes.

I’m just going to share with you all some of my favorite quotes and thoughts from the book by section.

From the “Introduction…”
“Trapped by our own fears, we then pretend that we’re incapable of having what we want, forever waiting for others to give us permission to start living” (Huffington 7).

This made me want to holler and throw up my hands because sometimes I feel stuck or limited because of my situation in life, thinking that being a wife and mother restricts me from pursuing certain passions. Inwardly, I feel like I’ve been waiting for someone to tell me it’s ok to try new things that are just for my own well-being that aren’t necessarily related to fulfilling my role in the family. But, the only restrictions are the ones I set in my mind. I have to stop waiting for someone else to give me permission to pursue my goals.

From “Fearless About Money…”
“The point is that my mother’s real wealth was the fact that she never made decisions from a place of lack..she always radiated abundance” (125).

This is another point that I’ve been trying to stay mindful of. If I approach life from a state of lack or not having enough, I will never have the fearlessness it takes to make big things happen. Instead of approaching a situation from a negative place, from a “I can’t afford/do that,” I want to ask, “What do I need to do to obtain/do X,Y, or Z?”

From “Fearless About Aging and Illness…”
“But when we stop holding on to things we’ll never use and stop struggling to be who we are not, we discover newfound energy and strength” (143).

For way too long, I’ve let myself feel bad for not being more like this person or that person when all I needed to do was accept and embrace who I was in order to have real power to create a life that I love.

From “Fearless About Leadership and Speaking Out…”
After describing how her mother took a job as a “house manager” for a family in Santa Barbara, Huffington writes, “She had taken the job with no sense of inferiority, and so it never occurred to the family to treat her as inferior” (191).

This passage really made me reflect on how my attitude towards my position in life matters more than how I feel others perceive me. In fact, my opinion about myself affects other people’s opinion of me. This idea makes me think about several jobs I’ve had in the past where I felt really small and insignificant. Looking back, I know that my negative attitude was just as much to blame if not more to blame for my unhappiness than actually having what I considered crappy jobs.

Overall, I’m grateful to Shahidah for sending me this book. It was definitely worth all the energy it took to read it from cover to cover. This edition also includes a reading group guide at the end.

In order to receive your copy of On Becoming Fearless by Arianna Huffington:

1. “Like” the Popped Black Woman Blog Facebook page and follow yours truly on Twitter.
2. Write a comment on this post about your thoughts on what it means to be fearless, how you act fearless in your daily life, or simply write, “Gimme that book” below.
3. If there’s more than one person interested, I will draw names randomly out of a hat (or wine glass) and announce the winner Friday in my weekly “Fearless Friday” post. Therefore, the deadline to enter the giveaway is Thursday morning, May 21st. Unfortunately, I’ll only be able to ship the book to a shipping address in the U.S. Good luck! 

Fearless Friday 5.15.15 (Okay to Not be Loud and Sassy)

Me and London Dunes with blog address
Happy Friday, my beautiful positively optimistic & powerful people!

This Fearless Friday, I don’t necessarily have a fear to share, but I do have more of a realization that came to me today after I found what’s sure to be one of my new favorite blogs, Sophistishe, via a post that I was reading on another one of my fav blogs, Dear Dumplin.

The professional lifestyle blogger behind Sophistishe is Sheena, who describes herself as “a free spirited mama, dreamer, and wannabe hippie.” She’s been in the blogging game for over 10 years according to her bio and it shows. She’s an ambassador for many brands and is clearly racking in the advertisement dollars. Her blog and the snippet of her personal journey that she shares in her bio are inspirations for me; they just make it abundantly clear that you can be yourself and still make your dreams come true…you just have to put in the time and work.

It’s a pretty simple realization, but for most of my life, I believed that I couldn’t be myself and still be happy or successful. I remember feeling like I was already doomed because I was born a girl. Too many times to count, my father would talk about how women are dumb, useless, and inferior to men. Even though he would sometimes say that I was the exception, I still felt like I would never be good enough in his eyes. Clearly, he had some personal issues going on that began long before I was born that created that type of misogyny, but that didn’t make it any easier to ignore, especially as a young girl.

Whether it was because of my home life, my natural disposition, or a mixture of both, I’ve been introverted plus extremely shy and self-conscious for most of my life (fyi not all introverts are shy and self-conscious). Even though I’ve always known (even if I didn’t know how) that it’s possible to build confidence and self-esteem, it’s been harder to let go of the belief that my  natural tendency to listen more than speak and observe before jumping into the action was a major handicap. After all, it seems like we live in a loud-spoken, fearless person’s world. Although I’m amazed at how far I’ve come in being more confident, assertive, and self-assured, I don’t think I’ll ever be an Oprah Winfrey. I don’t have that natural confidence and boldness that just exudes from everything I do without trying. I have to continually work at it…hard. blog address

On top of all of that, I’m far from the typical girly girl. I can’t remember the last time I had my hair and nails professionally done (I’d LOVE to, it’s just not a priority) and shopping is definitely not one of my favorite activities (because of other childhood trauma lol). Better yet. I’m far from the stereotypical black girl. As I more than hinted at earlier, I’m far from loud and sassy–well, I guess I am a little sassy once I let my guard down ;).

Yet, even with all of my calmly sarcastic quirkiness, I’ve realized that there is a place for me. There’s a place for everybody. Whether we are the “free spirited mama, dreamer, and wannabe hippie” like Sheena from Sophistishe or the party-loving professional who’s never seen without make-up and Louboutins, guess what? There’s room for all of us to lead happy and successful lives just by being the most confident versions of who we are. We all make the world go ’round. We’re all necessary.

Tell me all about any realizations you’ve had or how you guys and gals are staying fearless this week in the comments or on Facebook! Happy Friday my popped loves 😉