#DIY: Learn How To Make Coconut Milk!

My mom is a “Do It Yourself” guru. She showed me how to make fresh coconut milk, and it honestly tastes better than any other watered-down coconut milk I’ve purchased in stores. It’s also cheaper!

We made a ton of coconut milk because we met a fruit vendor who was willing to give us 10 coconuts for one dollar! Thank you New York City and the power of negotiating bargains. Either way coconuts are pretty cheap, and one coconut makes a lot of milk! I documented my mom teaching me step by step with my camera, so there are a ton of pictures for an easy “how-to”! So follow the steps below and go make some yummy creamy coconut milk!!!!!

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What you need:

A coconut

Water

A blender
Drainer

A bowl

(Agave or vanilla extract if you wish to sweeten)

Container or jug to store the milk in the refrigerator (Glass container recommended for longer shelf life)

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DIY: Coconut Milk

Step 1: Take a knife and poke open the three holes in the coconut.

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Step 2: Pour out the coconut water into a glass. (Save the water for later).

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Step 3: Hit the coconut right in the middle with a hammer or meat tenderizer. It will crack open pretty easily.

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Step 4: Pieces of coconut will start to break apart. For the big chunks, slice them into smaller chunks, small enough so it can blend nicely.

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Step 5: Add the coconut pieces and the coconut water into a blender. (If you drank the coconut water like we did because we couldn’t help ourselves, you can use water to blend).

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Step 6: Blend. A puree and what is now coconut milk will form.

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Step 7: Drain out separating the pulp and the milk.

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Then you’re done! Yum yum fresh natural coconut milk!

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Step 8: (optional): For creamier milk you can blend any extra coconut pieces with the first batch of coconut milk. Repeating steps 5-7.

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Creamier coconut milk! Yum! Yum!

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Step 9: (optional): Add vanilla or other sweeter and stir for sweetness coconut milk.

Step 10: Store it in a bottle or container and refrgirate.

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Coconut Milk Uses:

-Smoothies and protein shakes. My favorite green smoothie is coconut milk, pineapple, kale and a banana. Tastes like a green piña colada!

-Baking, cooking.

-Body or face rinse: Pour over your body in the shower. It softens your skin.

-Body exfoliating scrub: Brown or organic sugar, milk, a few drops of lavender essential oil.

-Face exfoliating scrub: Brown or organic sugar, honey, coconut milk, two drops of lavender essential oil. Softens skin and gives you a nice glow.

ENJOY! 

#GoNatural: Skin Care Routine: Sharing Chemical-free Products for Your Face

Do you ever become anxious just browsing the face cleansers’ aisle at Target? Or spend time looking for the perfect face cleanser with the same desperation as teenagers who just experienced their first breakout?

Skin care can be complicated.

giphy I never suffered from acne, but I would have the occasional bad breakout (especially during that time of the month). I also noticed my face sometimes would be dry after washing with a harsh cleanser or would just look dull without makeup. I wanted that glow without makeup. The glow I thought only existed with my Instagram filter can actually be achieved in a natural way. After some research I found that most of those commercial cleansers are actually really bad for your skin, the harsh chemicals strip your face completely from its natural oils. That’s when I started implemented natural products (with less or no chemicals) on my skin and I’m seeing a huge difference. More importantly, I love how my face looks without makeup! The fewer toxins on your face the better, and it’s good to take a few days with no makeup to really let your skin breathe. So before the wrinkles hit full force, take good care of your skin!

I’ll share some of my favorite natural skin care products:

 1. Jojoba Oil

IMG_3758 Jojoba oil is my bedtime buddy. I use jojoba oil as a cleanser/ makeup remover. Jojoba oil is the most similar to the natural oil that our body produces. It does not clog pores but opens them up and gently cleanses them. I use a dime size amount of oil all over my face and rub in circular motions (I spend more time on my eyes if I have mascara and eyeliner and all that good stuff). Then I rinse with warm water (more hot than cold, but not hot enough to burn my pretty face off). Then I dab my face dry with a clean washcloth. It’s important to use separate washcloths for your face to avoids breakouts!

2. Chamomile oil/olive oil combo (also pictured above)

This is another badass makeup remover! I use it when I have lots and lots of makeup because it melts everything away quicker, however I spend more time washing the oil off my face. You might have heard of this routine as “Oil cleansing”. People are skeptical when using oil to clean there face, but the oil pulls all the junk off your face without making it dry. I have semi-oily skin but this method actually makes my face less oily as the day goes by.

DO NOT USE COCONUT OIL, IT CLOGS PORES.

A great alternative to oil cleansing is a gentle cream cleanser that won’t strip your face of its natural oils and won’t dry out your face. I usually pack Neutrogena’s new natural line; I use their cream cleanser/makeup remover as my cleanser while I’m on the go traveling or put it in my bag to remove my day makeup before the gym. It has a ton of natural oils and removes all my makeup off without drying out my skin. (FYI: I tried the entire line and the cream cleanser/makeup remover was the only product that worked for me).

3. Witch Hazel

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After oil cleansing, I use an alcohol- free witch hazel with rose water and aloe as a toner. It removes any extra dirt, closes my pores and leaves my face feeling clean and refreshed. I go alcohol-free because alcohol dries out my skin a lot. The next step is a small drop of jojoba oil as my night serum. When I wake up the next day my face does not need to be cleansed again, I just wash it with warm water, use the witch hazel toner again to close my pores and use a SPF moisturizer. IMG_3760

4. SPF Moisturizer

I’ve sworn by Aveeno SPF 15 face moisturizer since 2005. I wear it all year round. I just use one pump each time and the bottle lasts me a long time. For the sun-blazing summer days I use a SPF 30 lightweight moisturizer called Healthy Defense by Neutrogena. SPF is so important for skin health!!!

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For Deep Cleansing:

4. Indian Healing Clay

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You can mix it with organic activated charcoal, apple cider vinegar, or simply water to make a deep cleansing mask. It clears blackheads, acne, and blemishes, basically magic in a jar.

Other recommendations

I asked my friends on social media for their favorite natural skincare products and I wanted to share a few responses.

Oil cleansing: Other suggested oils were Sesame oil, Almond oil, Grape seed oil, Pure Organic Argan oil.  

African Black Soap: Great for face and body. Helps treat acne.

Apple Cider vinegar: Helps treat acne.

Coconut-based activated charcoal: For facemasks, as a teeth cleanser, to wash your fruits and veggies, there are a hundred and one ways to use activated charcoal.

Coconut Oil: For you skin, hair, food, and teeth, there are a billion and one ways to use coconut oil. I use coconut oil for a technique called “oil pulling”. I swish coconut oil in my mouth for about 10-20 minutes before I brush my teeth to whiten teeth and improve oral health. This is part of my bedtime routine.

Aluminum-free deodorant: Warning I’ve tried many different deodorants, not all work, but Lavilin (pictured below) seems to work the best and has gotten great reviews online. The only thing is that you will have to reapply a few times during the day to keep the funk at bay. Still, it does a great job keeping you fresh!

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I think it’s important to invest on the health of your skin. There are many natural products out there. Spend time browsing Whole Foods beauty aisle. (Then go to Amazon for a cheaper price). Your skin deserves it. You deserve it!

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For your entertainment, here are pictures of me with the Aztec healing clay mask, it cleans out my face completely without drying it… nature’s magic! ✨ IMG_3821 IMG_3823 Feel free to share more of your favorite natural skin products with me. I will keep updating this post!

#TravelBlog: 5 Reasons Why I Love New Orleans!

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That’s me and my best friend/sister Maria. We spent our 4th of July weekend in New Orleans for Essence Fest. There were so many amazing things about this magical place. I’m going to share some highlights about our adventure to NOLA and why I think everyone should go there at least once in their lifetime!

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“5 Reasons Why I Love New Orleans!”

1. FOOD FOOD FOOD

OF COURSE this is number one for me. One of my favorite things to do is EAT. Although I keep a fairly healthy diet at home, I eat anything and everything on vacation, and New Orleans is the place to indulge! NOLA has many dishes that will make you consider not buying anything but food while you’re down there. In fact, yes when you’re visiting New Orleans, spend all your money on food. And take food back home with you as souvenirs (if you’re flying within the United States). You’ll thank me later.

Other foods we enjoyed: Gumbo, Crawfish Bisque, Jambalaya, Muffuletta sandwich, Drumettes, and other seafood dishes.

Beignets

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From Cafe Du Monde
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Crawfish (Cajun seasoning)

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My first time eating crawfish! I’m hooked!!!!!!! New favorite.

Po’Boys

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Catfish Po’ Boy

2. THE ART — A CREATIVE’S PARADISE 

At night Frenchmen Street in New Orleans turns into an outdoor market, selling things like homemade jewelry and paintings. We even saw artists painting live.

There are streets filled with art galleries and cute cafes. Maria and I also visited the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) and the Sculpture Garden. If you love art, you will leave New Orleans with your heart filled.

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Frenchmen Street
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Store window

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Street Art

3. THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE

First shout out to all the amazing natural hair women we saw in NOLA!!!!!! Maria and I fit right in, and we bonded with some fellow curly natural hair chicks!

On that note, Maria and I talked to strangers everyday in New Orleans. We met so many amazing, incredible, inspiring people– from musicians to artists to cab drivers to store owners and fellow travelers. Hearing people’s stories will make you build a connection with the city itself. I feel like I have family in New Orleans. The people are incredibly nice.

When you travel, talk to strangers… we’re all family on this planet!

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4. LIVE MUSIC — HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE!

The purpose of our trip to New Orleans was Essence Fest. A huge festival with thousands of people coming from all over the United States to hear empowerment seminars during the day, win contests/giveaways, and dance the night away with performances by Missy Elliot, Mary J Blige, Kendrick Lamar, Usher, etc.

However, you do not need to buy an Essence ticket to enjoy music in NOLA. There is music everywhere, literally. The streets are filled with musicians–the bars, cafes, and even the museums had a pianist playing live. No wonder I felt so merry and light on my feet, prancing and dancing around the streets of New Orleans.

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Louis Armstrong Park
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Jackson Square

5. HISTORY & CULTURE

 I felt transported back into time visiting some of the museums and walking down the streets of New Orleans. The French Quarter is probably my favorite place because it still has European influence in its structure, truly a cultural gem inside the United States. It was so pretty walking around all the little shops and cafes. Until we got to Bourbon street aka the biggest non-stop frat party– at anytime of day people are drinking and partying in the street, smells like pee and beer, but still fun at night. Try signature drinks like the Hurricane and Hand Grenade.

Other cultural and historical places to visit are the Voodoo shops, the cemeteries, the Louis Armstrong Park, the Bayou, the big Southern-style mansions in the Garden District, and the National World War II museum. 

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In front of Jackson Square.

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World War II Museum

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Louis Armstrong Park

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I hope you go see New Orleans for yourself!

💛💜💚💛💜💚💛💜💚💛💜💚💛💜💚💛💜💚💛💜💚

Dear NOLA, Maria and I will be back soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#SoulfulSunday: Book Recommendation 📖💛

#100DayProject Day 7 is dedicated to author/poet/entrepreneur Alex Elle. (For more on my project check to my Instagram page).

Blessed rising! ☀️ Just a #SoulSunday book recommendation: Words of a Wanderer and Love in my Language poetry books by Alexandra Elle. Writer to writer, she’s great and her words are healing. 💛 

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“Wake Up” Poem #100DayProject

“We were trying to wake up the country and wake the world up too.” – John Carlos & Tommie Smith

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 Wake Up

I hope for a world where Love overcomes Hate.

Where we empathize with each other’s pain,

And Compassion runs through our veins.

Where the hunger for money doesn’t blind us

Into believing we can’t make this world a better place.

Because it’s possible.

Just like it’s possible to have a good Monday.

And moments when we’re too grateful to complain.

Where we truly believe that today is a good day,

If I‘m blessed enough to wake.

If I’m blessed enough to dream.

I have faith in humanity.

And

It hurts me,

To have to tell my little brother

All the things he needs to worry about.

And as he looks at me, confused with doubt,

I say “That’s right,

You should be cautious of everyone around you,

Especially if you’re walking alone at night.

Especially because you’re not whi–.”

And that’s enough to take his innocence, his light.

Because we’re living in 2015 with this plight.

And it’s been 50 years since Dr. King’s fight,

For the future young boys and young girls.

I too am using the power of words.

Because if the world refuses to wake up,

We need to wake up the world.

-jessmialma

“Love Drunk” poem #100DayProject

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Love Drunk (full poem)

He gives me so much love that I felt overwhelmed.

Dazed and confused,

Not used —

Not used to a man treating me so well.

That was hard to admit,

But as I take another sip,

His love moistens my lips,

I’m left breath-less.

Less breath at that moment

I thought love would be the death.

Of me.

My knees get weak.

I try to catch myself

Giving his shirt a tug.

He smiles.

That was the first time I felt okay falling.

In love.

*picture was taken on East 13th street, NYC*

“To the Women of the Rodriguez Family” poem #100DayProject #Day1

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To the Women of the Rodriguez Family

Generations of broken women,

Shattered women turned into mosaic art.

Your battles molded generations,

Generations of cold women with gentle hearts.

I see myself in every single one of you,

Remarkable mothers, sisters, and daughters.

I’m better because of all of you,

Generations of strength, gracefulness and honor.

And as I go,

On my own journey

I know you’re watching over me,

Helping me

To become the woman I want to be,

I’m meant to be.

So To the Women of My Family,

I hope I make you all proud.

-Jessmialma

#The100DayProject – 100 Days of Doing Something You’re Passionate About

This blogpost is to invite you all to participate in the 100 day challenge starting Monday April 6th!

What are you challenging me to do exactly?  The project encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making, creating, or doing. It can be something you are passionate about or like doing. The challenge is to show up day after day and dedicate time to something you enjoy. It is not about the end product as much as it is the effort and the process.

Why? Because I love a good inspiring project. It really motivates you to think and act outside the box. And as we all know, great things come from outside of one’s comfort zone.

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More about the project. The creators of the challenge are artist/author Elle Luna and magazine The Great Discontent. I first found out about this 100-day challenge from Elle Luna’s Instagram page. Elle is a painter and author. I first started following Elle after she shared her inspiring story at a Millennial’s Wisdom 2.0 conference at NYU. You can read her talk here. (It is worth the read). Check out Elle’s new book too “The Crossroads of Should and Must”, where Elle expands on her ideas. The book is very visual and is great for recent grads, creatives, artists, career changers, dream followers, etc.

So are you up for the challenge? #100daysof_______

This may be a jump start to something great!

Sign up for the project’s official newsletter and find out more details on The Great Discontent’s page.

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#CurlyHairTalk: Washing Curly Hair: Co-washing, Clarifying, & Conditioning

For washing your curly locks conditioner is your best friend, harsh chemical-filled shampoos are the enemy. The best way to show a little TLC (tender, love and care) to your curls is by co-washing during the week, and washing with a sulfate-free shampoo and using deep conditioning treatment once a week.

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THE ROUTINE: WASHING MY CURLY HAIR 

~ Curly hair flourishes when moisturized. Cleansing conditioners is one of my staple products. I co-wash during the week, around every two-three days, sometimes everyday. Co-wash as often as you like but keep in mind that your hair is the most fragile when it’s wet. Allow your hair time to dry completely before washing again. P.S. there is also a such thing as over-conditioning, so if you’re co-washing everyday and your hair starts to feel spongy or even mushy, you’re overdoing it.

~ I use a No-Poo Shampoo (conditioning shampoo) as my weekly wash to cleanse a bit more. However this is NOT the same thing as co-washing. If it says shampoo it’s a shampoo, so it’s a little harsher on your curly hair.

~ Because I added a cleansing no-poo shampoo to my regimen I only clarify about once a month (sometimes I clarify every 3 weeks depends on how my hair feels). Product buildup can weigh down curls and make them lose definition.

My routine works for me. It’s is important to have a routine that works for you and your hair type. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you have the right products for your personal curly hair routine.

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 Here are some of the products I use:

I. MY FAVORITE CO-WASHING PRODUCTS

1. As I Am Naturally Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner 

I love the smell. I love how my hair feels after: soft and tangle-free. It’s also a pretty big jar for around $8. Available at Target, CVS, Duane Reade, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and most beauty supply stores. Ingredients include coconut oil and castor oil. 

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2. EO Conditioner:

Yes this is a regular all-natural conditioner that has no silicone, thus it is alright to use as a co-wash. This product was introduced to me by another curly hair chick. Available at Walgreens, Whole Foods, and Amazon.com. Ingredients include coconut oil, quinoa protein, olive oil, essential oil blend, rosemary oil, fruit oil, aloe, vitamin E, etc.

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Co-Washing Tips

Tip #1: Smother your hair in the co-wash product. Seriously, be generous. I do around two hand scoops on my hair. Then massage your scalp with your fingertips. The best way is downward to not disrupt your curls too much

Tip #2: Some brands will put co-wash on their label but they are not actually a cleansing conditioner. Look at the labels and ingredients carefully to make sure.

Tip #3: Yes you can use regular conditioners to co-wash but make sure the conditioner you use to co-wash is silicone-free. Look at the labels!! Many of these ingredients are easy to identify, look for ingredients ending in -cone. Many silicones are synthetic (not natural) additives to make the hair “soft”. Therefore, these silicones are not water-solubleand require regular shampooing to wash out. If you co-wash with any regular conditioner, the end result can be yucky build-up on your hair and scalp.

A good conditioner you can use to co-wash is Tresemme Naturals Conditioner.300

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II. MY GO-TO NO-POO SHAMPOO

I use a no-poo shampoo once a week, it cleanses more and is stronger than most co-washing products. It doesn’t sud up like a co-wash but it is better at removing product build up. Unlike co-washing I use a light Shea Moisture conditioner after the no-poo shampoo.

1. Hair Rules No-Poo Shampoo Available at the Hair Rules Salons, Ricky’s NYC, or online.

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III. FAVORITE WAYS TO CLARIFY MY MANE 

1. Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampoo w/ Shea Butter & Apple Cider Vinegar (adding any deep conditioning treatment is a must after clarifying)

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More Clarifying Methods… 

-Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse: 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 2 cups of water. I usually do this after I wash my hair with a sulfate-free shampoo, I do the pour the rinse over my hair, massage my scalp, then rinse under the water briefly then apply my deep conditioner.

-Baking Soda: Instead of shampoo, I’ve heard baking soda is good to clarify buildup on the scalp. 

-Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps 18-in-1 Cleanser in Peppermint (all natural ingredients)

-Tea Tree Oil Shampoo from Trader Joe’s

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IV. MY FAVORITE DEEP CONDITIONERS & MASQUES

1. Dominican Magic Nourishing Deep Fortifying Conditioner (has coconut oil, jojoba oil and avocado oil). This leaves your hair incredibly soft.

2. Deva Curl Heaven In Hair – I use this usually after Dominican Magic to add much needed moisture to my hair, but doesn’t leave my hair as soft as I like if I use it by itself.

3. Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Treatment Masque – I LOVE this line of Shea Moisture products! The masque has shea butter, Jamaican black castor oil and peppermint (it also has coconut oil and avocado oil). I use this with the shampoo Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil shampoo.

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Next up…. my favorite styling products 💆. Look out for that post!

**Always check out the blog for more products. Any new cleansing, treatment or styling products I try (and love) I will post on the blog in the future!** 

Find YOURSELF, find your JOURNEY, find your PURPOSE… and fall in love with ALL of the above.