This week’s Friday Postcards comes from my recent visit to Fennville, Michigan. One of my goals for the Fall, a part of my bucket list was to get out of the Chicagoland area, and go apple picking, then bake a large, delishously smelling and tasting apple pie from said picked apples. One Friday evening, I felt so sad at the thought of spending another weekend in town. I decided to look into nearby weekend getaways, and what resulted ended up being one of those Perfect Fall Weekends. I found the town of Fennville was a mear 2.5 hours away, and despite impending rain I knew the green vineyards and rich tall trees would all but make up for whatever weather elements which would come. On Saturday morning, my bf and I drove to the airport, picked up our rented mini SUV, stopped to grab breakfast at the diner near the airport, filled up on gas and hit the road, with our only goal to beat the rain. What awaited us really surpassed our every expectation.
We ventured to the great town of Fennville, where therein lay Fenn Valley Vineyward & Wine Cellar. Lush land, quiet fields complete with free wine tasting and grape picking, tours of the vineyard and wine cellar, open space to bring a picnic, pumpkin patches, expansive corn mazes, fresh cheeses, jams, candy apples, and spices, as far as the eye can see. We unfortunately missed the opportunity to participate in the vineyard tour. Apparently, tours book extremely fast at the end of the summer, so if you’re interested, place it on your calendar as early as possible. Instead we were encouraged to partake in the free wine tasting at the cellar and ended up purchasing a glass each for $5. Afterwards, we found ourselves outside once again, pursuing the grape fields, sneaking away a bite or two of the richest, plumpest grapes we could find. Time escaped, and a two our stay at the vineyard slowly turned into much longer, which left no time for apple picking.
While I missed the opportunity to take home a bag of deliciously large and sweet apples, I did stop by another infamously delicious pie shop just 10 minutes down the road from Fenn Valley Vineyard. We drove to Crane’s Pie Pantry Restuarant and ordered a slice of Crane’s well-known apple pie. A la mode just for dexterity sake. The crust, thick, flaky and buttery. The pie filling sweet, sticky and densely packed with apples, generously marinated with cinnamon and nutmeg. Perfectly accompanied by one scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a glass of cold, ice water. This was all I needed to finished a day of filled with spontaneity and adventure. The pie pantry is rustic, and charming according to your preferences. Decorated with a hodgepodge of old chairs, stools and tables, with walls filled with memorabilia and even old trinkets hanging from the ceiling. It you look closely at the framed postcards and objects, you may find yourself wondering back into a time when viewing quasi-racist vintage paraphernalia. To that I’ll say, take it witha grain of salt. If you’re going to any of the many nearby vineyards in Fennville, it’s worth stopping into Crane’s for a meal or at minimum to order a slice of pie. I’d encourage anyone in the Chicago area to take the trip one of these weekends before it’s too cold. It’s only two hours outside the city, and apples are a fraction of the price they are at your local market. The pie simply makes it all worth it.
Have you taken a day trip outside of your city/town? Is there a place that is “close” that you would like to visit?
Have a great weekend!
[enjoying Fall days]
Well. It’s been a minute since I’ve chatted it up about natural hair, yes? I’ve been natural haired lady, sans perm for a little over four years. I crossed another year milestone in August and it still feels as good as it did in the beginning. In the four years I’ve been natural, I’ve fallen deeper in love with my Fro. I’ve witnessed first hand the growing, expansion and blowing wide open the doors of the online natural hair community. There is a corner, niche for every time of kink, coil, coarse and wave. I’ve seen it all in terms of products, tools, and promises geared to growing natural hair. I’ll also be remiss if I didn’t mention the sad sector of natural hair niches which tend to favor a particular hair type or curl.
Through it all, I’ve been steadfast in maintaining a regimen which works for me and my lifestyle. I work full time in an office. I travel. I work out. I like spending most of my free time, living, outside of my apartment. With it all, maximizing efficiency of hair care and styling is my number one priority. It seems to be clear that the common denominator in it all is a simple, minimalistic (relative, no?) natural hair regimen. Gone are the days when I’d dedicate the time to tedious, interminable hair care processes.
For ladies who have hair like mine: thick, dense, fine, no defined pattern, cottony, etc here is a regimen for you. You may feel as though your hair is on the extreme end of unmanageability for it is true, 4C hair is extremely fragile, prone to dryness, and must be handled with care. If you take the aforementioned premises keep it as the basis of your regimen, I promise everything forthcoming will fall into place, fitting into one another like a well mapped out plan.
Beginning in Spring 2013, I decided to re-embark on my quest for a diligent healthy hair care practices and a solid regimen where I focus on maintaining a clear flake free scalp, moisture rich hair, and maximizing length retention. This primarily involved washing/rinsing my scalp, treating it with an oil mixture, wearing protective styles all year round, and making sure to henna each time I come out of a protective style. I set out to focus on using the most natural products possible (think bentonite clay, henna, oils, yogurt, etc) because they have proven time and time again to work for me. However, knowing how time consuming it is to restrict yourself to natural products, I ventured out towards what was mostly accessible to me at Target. I took a step back and looked at what consistently worked over time – IMO that was the key to retaining length and maximizing growth.
[protective styling for maximum length retention]
Maintaining the Basics: Chinye’s 2013 Regimen for 4C Natural Hair
- Focus on Protective Styles – Crochet Havana Twists, Extensions, Twists and Buns.
- Finger Detangle – I hate it, but it works.
- Wash hair 2x a Month – This change has made such a difference. I used to wash my hair once a week, however I found that it was too much manipulation, which ultimately lead to breakage. Reducing the frequency with which I wash my hair means less detangling sessions (the time I experience the most breakage).
- Quarterly – Remove protective style, henna, deep cleanse and deep condition treatment. Leave hair out for one week then begin again!
Standard Hair Care Practices for 4C natural Hair
- Never ever braid edges too tightly
- Make sure to leave edges loose
- Apply oils to scalp (Currently loving this mixture: 2 parts JBCO, 1 part Sweet Almond Oil, 1 part Jojoba Oil, few drops of peppermint, lavender, sage and rosemary essential oil) and message
- Sleep with satin scarf to help prevent further damage to the hairline and regrow the edges
Right now I am still in the stage where I absolutely love my hair and I want to maintain the length and thickness of my hair….I ultimately see healthy thick hair as a reflection of a healthy me.
Part two will include: My Experiences So Far in the 4 Years I’ve been Natural, How to Wash, Condition, Moisturize 4C hair.
My monthly budget seems to be coming later and later. I’ve had a pretty hectic (read: expensive) last few weeks as I’ve been traveling back and forth between NYC and Chicago to see my grandmother. Now that the dust has settled, and she made her transition on, I look forward to a little bit more normalcy in terms of my finances. Thankfully, I was able to do a lot of traveling because I budgeted, paid my bills, and began saving again. I’m guessing I will have spent close to $1,000 for flights between October and December, so I’m looking forward to continuing to work my budget with a specific focus on rebuilding my emergency fund. I’ll be heading back home to NYC for Thanksgiving and Christmas, however once the New Year rolls around I should stay put for a while. Other than traveling, my expenses have remained relatively consistant. I’m almost finished paying off the smaller of my two student loans, and I’m looking forward to completing it in December.
- Cell Phone- My sister and I added an additional person to our plan, so we’ve seen a reduction in our monthly bill. Finally!
- Savings goals- I’m saving for a family trip to Europe next Spring. Looking to save $2000 by April of 2014.
- Transportation- Minimal allocation for transportation because I typically bike to work and around the city!
- Secure one wholesale contract for my venture, Uriomma Delicately Smooth
- Bootcamp 1x a week & running 1x a week- I’ve recently began attending bootcamp, and I LOVE it. Bootcamp is a challenge, but I feel so good afterwards. I’m taking it slowly, so I’m looking to do bookcamp 1x a week in addition to one run a week.
- Keep credit card utilization at 10-15%- Getting the right amount of “balance” to show on my credit card statement has been a game for the last few months. I finally got it, and have seen my score increase by 46 points in two months.
- Make weekly food plan. I eat based on what I’m feeling at the moment, but having an outline will help me stay on target when deciding what I want to eat. Using a meal plan when shopping means I can only choose from what I have available rather than going to the store for ingredients for a certain craving.
- Buy Plane Ticket for Christmas Vacation
- Go to the library and check out one book to read while traveling
Ongoing 2013 Annual Goals:
- No buying lunch, snacks or coffee during the work week
- No buying clothing, shoes or accessories for the remainder of the year. This includes thrift stores as well!
- Try to make a difference in the life of one person. A significant difference
I always knew I’d forever be a city girl. It doesn’t matter how far away I go, or for how long I leave the city, I always have to return to New York City, my first home, my first love. I spent this past weekend at home, in my city to honor my grandmother who passed away. While it was an incredibly sad time, I knew she would be happy that my family was together, laughing, enjoying the few times we get to reunite just like the days I was growing up.
While New York City is an incredibly fun place to be social, it’s also the perfect backdrop to spend time alone, discovering yourself and your goals. On this past weekend when I returned to say goodbye to my grandmother, I decided to take a stroll through one of my favorite part of the city. Growing up, I would spend afternoons getting lost in Central Park, alone always amazed something so stunning existed right in the heart of the bustling city. Grand Central Park feels as if it should be located upstate, in the heart of Connecticut or a bit west in the range of Pennsylvania. To me, Grand Central Park is the best place to forget you’re in New York City. 1,317 square miles of trees, ponds, and a light breeze of fresh air in the ever bustling city.
It is even better to spend an early evening taking a stroll through the Central Park in the fall. As autumn settles over New York City, Central Park is one of the best places to see fall’s foliage. You are able to enjoy Central Park without sweating and watch the leaves change. It may seem like something your parents or even grandparents would do but no one can deny the beauty of foliage, especially contrasting the hardness and static nature of New York City buildings.
I took an evening stroll and it felt perfect to get away, breathe a bit of fresh air, and enjoy one of my favorite parts of New York City. If you’re ever visiting NYC, I highly encourage you to take a few hours, ride C,E,A, 1, 2, 3 uptown and take a stroll through Central Park. You will never be disappointed.
It occurred to me that I never really thought about why exactly am I on this financial journey. What are my financial goals? What am I looking to accomplish?
In short, I am on this financial journey to: achieve and maintain excellent credit (750 +) and to have a healthy relationship with money. I want to grow my savings and investments, to increase my FICO score to 750 by December 31st 2014 and to earn credit card rewards for traveling. I want to show other African American women that we too can have excellent credit without sacrificing all that we find enjoyable. Sure, building wealth and maintaining excellent credit requires discipline to at times you’ll have to say no to certain things. On the other hand, maintaining a healthy relationship with money and credit shouldn’t be stifling. Maintaining a healthy relationship with money allows me to see just all the things I can say yes to instead of spotlighting the areas in my life I have to deny.
I guess my financial journey will be three pronged. When I first began my financial journey in college, I solely focused on savings. Because I always had a job while in undergrad, I focused most of my time figuring out how to not spend the money I made. While I can say that I have budgeting in check, I also know that being financially sound isn’t all about savings. Add that to the fact that I spent almost all of my savings when I went to live and work in Uganda. I spent months in East Africa volunteering, working, traveling, and simply living. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world, but I have to be honest and admit I returned to the U.S. extremely broke and itching to rebuild my savings. I now know that personal finance is about saving and managing debt properly. With this new mindset, I am going to approach my financial goals from the standpoint of being financially free in all areas of my life. I want to secure the lowest interest rate for my house. I want to sign up for credit cards with awesome rewards. I want to manage those credit cards and use credit as a tool to increase my credit score, not become burdened by debt. I want to build an emergency fund and contribute to an IRA account. I want to set aside money each month to invest in stocks and mutual funds. With the multiplicity of areas under personal finance, I’ll share my experience to show that you don’t have to either be a minimalist or a complete consumerist, ultimately financial freedom is about prioritizing, planning and execution.
That’s it! Ready to join me on this journey?
Let me know if you are on a financial journey, and if so, why?