Do you know what today is?

It’s my naturalversary.

Eight years ago today, I drove to a salon in Maryland and told the stylist to commence with le big chop. Best decision ever. Several months before, I had decided that I was done with relaxers and straightening my hair. I’d place my fingers in my roots and feel the thick, coily texture and no longer held a desire to straighten those strands. I wanted to see the hair my mother saw when I was a child.

It continues to remain a journey. I’ve big chopped more than once, I’ve grown it out, I’ve been blonde, a redhead, all colors in between, I’ve been bald, so on and so forth. I’ve loved every minute of it. Can’t draw to save my life, but my hair has been the best artistic canvas this gal could ask for.

Favorite natural styles: Twistouts and Bantu knot-outs are my tried and true

Favorite protective styles: Senegalese twists, box braids, any crochet style

Favorite hair color: Brownish-red was pretty cool but my honey blonde phase gave me life

Favorite products: The Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus collection has never let me down. I use most of their products. A recent fave is Camille Rose products (their twisting butter is heaven). By the way, if you’re a naturalista, your bathroom is a CVS. Such is the journey to find what works well for your hair. Eight years later, I’ve solidified a lot of those things and enjoy my staples.

Image credit: Pinterest
Image credit: Camille Rose Naturals

Favorite Naturalistas: these are content creators that have helped me throughout the years to understand styling, methods, and natural hair care. Whitney White, Maeling Murphy, My Natural Sistas, Taren Guy, and countless others stand out. You’ll see many of them here.

Here’s to commemorating whatever makes us happy and reminds us of happy. Onwards and curlwards, dear reader…

Spotify Shuffle Series. (1)

I love music more than cake. And that’s pretty huge, being that I once considered changing my license plate to a vanity plate that read cake in French (Gâteau). That said, bienvenue to a new feature on TSP: I shuffle my “Repeat Rewind” playlist that Spotify automatically generates and share the top five songs I’ve been listening to like crazy. There will be many incarnations of this feature because there are a lot of songs. And away we go…

Lovely – Billie Eilish featuring Khalid

So, Billie Eilish: when she came onto the scene, I was pretty indifferent to her. And then I heard Everything I Wanted and wept and realized that her songwriting abilities are out of this world and that her musicality is even beyond that. This song featuring Billie and Khalid just…it breaks you. And their voices soar. No surprise there, Spotify.

Water – Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams, Salatiel, Black is King soundtrack

Yeah, so being African-born and African-raised means a certain sound is in my bones, I think. Because when the BIK soundtrack came out and I heard some of the songs I was immediately hooked by the music. It reminded me of listening to my parents’ highlife music back home. (And here, too.) Water is beautiful, rhythmic, and super catchy. I plan on posting my faves from that soundtrack, by the way. This may be music week on This Square Peg. Bring your 🎧.

Sparrow – Emeli Sandé

You know how I feel about her. This one is epic. Just epic. I got wind beneath my wings, I think this time I’m gonna make it til morning…

Brown Skin Girl – Beyoncé, Blue Ivy, WizKid

This song would have been everything when I was a little girl. I needed to remember the beauty of my melanin, the wonder of the skin I was in. But you know what? It’s here now and my inner 10 year-old and my outer grown lady applaud the very valid reminders.

Harvest for the World – Paul Carrack

An awesome cover of an amazing Isley Brothers song by one of my favorite voices in pop rock. You’ve heard Paul Carrack as the lead singer of Ace, Squeeze, Mike + the Mechanics. Soulful and evocative.

Hope you can check these out. Happy Music Monday.

Blogtober #30 and #31: We Forgot! We Did It!

#30: Guess who was super busy yesterday and the day went by without the next to last blog entry for Blogtober?

So, yeah, we forgot. Buuuuut…

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#31: We Did It!

Day 31.

A whole month of talking to y’all everyday about my favorite season in some way, shape, or form. A whole month of appreciating each and every one of you who read, commented, liked, and lovingly followed me. A whole month of realizing that I can be way regular on this platform, far more than I have been, and that I thoroughly enjoy every second here on This Square Peg.

Happy Fall, Y’all. Happy awesome month of Blogtober. Happy Autumn. Happy Reading. Happy Blogging. Take time to walk down a leaf-covered road and enjoy every minute of it.

Onwards and Autumn-wards.

Pinspirations.

Hi, there.

So I went to Pinterest a few weeks ago to get some ideas for my next protective style. As you know, I’ve been protective styling it more often than not, ever since my crochets in February. After deciding that I wanted some cornrows, I eventually descended into the sweet Pinterest rabbit hole, where you dig deeper and deeper into photos and inspiration until voilà and Eureka, you find it. And I found it. These two ‘dos caught my eye:

Basically, cornrows are braided on the sides and then fed into the braiding style in the middle. A braidhawk, if you will. Well, my eyes got really, really big and starry and I decided that I’d go this way next. After making an appointment with a braider that my mom likes to go to (not only is she super affordable but she provides the hair, which keeps me from getting lost in the rabbit hole of hair stores), I got my ‘do done this past Thursday. Here it is, dear reader:

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Needless to say, I love it almost as much as sliced bread. (I remain bread’s humble servant, so…) She did exactly what I wanted and I adore the look. I chose to have Senegalese twists in the middle, by the way. Also, I said nothing specific about length and she kept right on braiding, so the braids currently reach my derrière. I would post a standing shot so you can see the full length, but my pants were a bit too loose that morning (it was early, ok?), and you don’t need to see all of that. Anywho, trust me when I say that I’m basically sitting on them. Something certainly new for This Square Peg: I tend to get my braids mid-back and safe, not too attention grabbing, especially with working in the corporate world. But yay for changes and not worrying about all of that.

Here’s to Pinspirations and rabbit holes and women with the power to do amazing things for our hair.

Products from Heaven: Vanilla, Shea, and other Non-Edibles.

Hi. I’m in love with the following three products. Links are also provided, if you’d like to take a look at them and welcome them into your world:

Olay Ultra Moisture Vanilla Indulgence Body Wash

It’s not edible. But I must stress that when I use this body wash, it feels like I’m swimming in a pool of vanilla cupcakes, each one more delicious and dangerous than the next.olay I’ve used Oil of Olay products here and there, but not enough to develop a relationship with them. (Because we’re really in relationships with these products, aren’t we?) Anyway, after randomly choosing this body wash one evening while shopping, it’s a new favorite. The scent is dreamlicious; my skin is soft and lovely after use. Try it. Just don’t eat it.

AVEENO® POSITIVELY NOURISHING®COMFORTING WHIPPED SOUFFLE

Also not edible. And yet the combination of cocoa and Shea butter in this creamy lotion is enough to inspire you (i.e., me) to at least search for an edible version of these dual ingredients. Maybe in an ice cream? aveeno souffleGelato? Souffle? Moving on: I’ve used Aveeno products since time began, and yet I mainly stuck with their daily moisturizing lotion. But this is no mere lotion. It’s so, so creamy. As soon as it touches my skin, I inhale deeply, relax a bit, and apply just enough to prevent sliding off my bed in the dead of night.

Vanilla Whipped Shea Butter

After nearly 4 years as a naturalista, I’ll definitely say that the product junkie-ism that inevitably comes with the natural hair life has largely abated for me. My bathroom no longer looks like an aisle in your local drugstore. I have my staple products. But once in a while, I watch YouTube videos and my eyes get big and I decide to try a few (only a few) of the things I’m seeing. Regarding this particular inedible product from Black Girl Long Hair Marketplace, I saw a neat video on the many uses of Shea butter and was reminded about how versatile it is. I’ve had the raw African Shea Butter in my bathroom for eons, but honestly, the scent wasn’t giving me the I-wish-I-could-eat-you feels. (Because this is how I make decisions on skincare, beauty, and hair: whether or not it smells like my next dessert. We keep it real here at This Square Peg…) Enter the aforementioned video, enter this website, enter the word “vanilla”, enter this yummy productbglh shea butter that I use almost every day in my hair care. Whether I’m two-strand twisting my hair, or smoothing it down for a puff, or just keeping the fro soft, I love it. FYI: If you order it, and you really must, choose to have it packaged in a cool container. I didn’t, which meant that my Shea butter came to me in a melted vanilla soup form. I whipped it myself. Anyway, definitely a keeper.

Any skin/beauty/hair products you’re crushing on lately? Tell me about them, pretty please. I’m always on the hunt for new favorites…

How Queens Attend Galas.

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen photos of Queen Lupita at the 2016 Met Gala.

Oh, you haven’t?

Why not?

No, we won’t go there. I’m here to help.

"Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology" Costume Institute Gala - Arrivals
Photo by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty Images

Right? Are you still breathing? Let’s look at one more, shall we?

QueenL
Photo courtesy of Vulture.com

If you look to the left of Lupita, that’s actor Nate Parker in the background, to the left, quite humorously and openly caught up in the rapture of the Queen.

Absolutely loving the glamour and grandeur and chocolateness and beauty and class and elegance of our lady. And that hair! I won’t discuss the foolishness of Vogue magazine crediting Lupita’s hairstyle to Audrey Hepburn and completely diminishing the distinctly African influences behind the style. Not worth my typing time. But trust and believe that our Lupita responded in her usual classy and direct way.

Happy Queen Monday, everyone…

The Chocolate Flapper.

First, hi.

So last Saturday, a good friend of mine threw a decades party: guests were to choose their favorite decade and dress accordingly. Naturally, being that I love all things Twenties–the Jazz Age, Gatsby was running around (fictionally), and girls were bobbing their hair–it was a sure thing that I would arrive in my flapper best. After scouring the Internet for ideas on what to wear, I found the best outfit on Amazon and purchased it faster than you could say F. Scott Fitzgerald. Can I tell you how excited I was about this whole thing, by the way? I feel like I’ve been going through the motions lately. This fête was a nice injection to the monotony and I’m so happy that my friends to put it all together. Anywho, without further ado…

Your chocolate flapper.

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I was so into it, too, walking around and swinging that feather boa like I owned a speakeasy down the street. Needless to say, the party was fantastic. There were sock hop ladies and Afros and Nineties girl groups all over the place. And lest you think we just danced and twirled the night away, there were various costume contests. Guess who won best costume, 1920-1950??

The sangria to the right was one of my lovely gifts. I won’t get into how excited I was to win. Everything you’re imagining about my reaction is what happened. But who was even more excited? My mother. She was elated, which was fun, sweet, and utterly awesome. Really good times.

Onwards and upwards…and flapwards…

p.s.: those bouncy curls you see on my head are actually my new batch of crochet braids. They added such a fun touch to the costume, no? We’ll talk about those new crochets later.

Fabu Fashion Thursday: Jump, Jump

My love affair with jumpsuits continues. I went ahead and wore one to work today. Here it is, compliments of an empty ladies washroom.

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So until today, it’s never dawned on me to wear a jumpsuit to work. I don’t know why. I just never thought of it. Perhaps it didn’t strike me as providing the professional look I typically want when trudging to the office. And then last night, while wondering what I would wear to the OK Corral the next day: Eureka. I found it. I would indeed wear the jumpsuit, pair it with a blazer and a belt, and there you go. Why? Because it’s basically a built-in pantsuit. Pantsuits, the go-to ensemble for that professional life. I mean, it’s a dream come true, really. Oh, the wonder of it all. As you can also see, I also threw on one of favorite chunky necklaces to complete the outfit. It was a gift from the bestie and I wear it whenever I can. Further deets are below, if you’re interested.

Jumpsuit: Ross
Blazer: Sears (don’t sleep on that ancient store; it’s got some hidden gems)
Belt: Ross

Fini and onwards…