Crystal’s 30th Birthday Cake

Hello my Cakers, Bakers and Beauties,
Sorry that I haven’t posted in a couple of months, I’ve been travelling again and going through some things…More about that later but for now.
Right let get straight into the blog post…
A Couple of months ago I was asked to make a birthday cake for a very special lady,
Ms Crystal Afro of the United Kinkdom Blog.
Crystal was the ideal customer in the sense that she knew the basic aspects of the cake she wanted – (a Victoria sponge cake in the shape of the number 30 with yellow icing) but was open to suggestions and let me use my imagination for the final result.
For me, people who are too specific are very hard to please because they have an exact image in their mind and it’s not possible to produce an exact match for what is in their imagination, in addition I NEVER copy cakes – yes there’s nothing wrong with that and it takes a lot of talent and skill to reproduce a real cake from a picture/photo but I prefer to use my own original ideas.
My first challenge was how to make the cake in the shape of a number 3 , I considered carving the cake but I wanted to minimize wasting cake and ingredients by not having lots of off-cuts, I decided to hire a couple of number cake tins and found a shop not too far from me that offered this service, I reserved my tins 2 weeks in advance but when I arrived at the shop to collect the tins I was informed that the ‘0’ was not available because it was in Scotland!!! I was not offered any explanation or apology for this, in fact the customer service I received at this shop went from bad to worse but this post is not going to turn into a rant about bad customer service…
I had no choice but to hire the number ‘8’ tin instead because it was the day before Crystal’s party and I didn’t have time to ring around looking for another shop that had what I needed.
When I got home my first task was to cover the cake board with yellow fondant, it was easy to colour the fondant by kneading  yellow food gel into it but I had been misadvised (by the owner of the same crappy cake shop) about the amount of fondant I would need and no matter how many times I re-rolled that !”£$%& it would not fit over the 20” square cake board!
I had to go out and buy more fondant, colour it again knead it for ages and then finally I was able to roll it neatly over the cake board and add the finishing touch of a black satin ribbon.
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Yes there are a couple of imperfections but I was still proud of how it turned out. My next task was to work out how I was going to turn an “8” into a “0” without the whole thing falling apart, I traced the tins out on some cardboard to give me an idea of the final shape I wanted to achieve.
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Baking the Victoria Sponge cake was pretty simple and the “cake surgery” was not as complicated as I thought it would be… Icing around the 3 was actually much more difficult than I imagined it would be and I struggled to get the icing completely smooth in the crevices, I used a buttercream-hybrid icing of my own invention it has a very buttery and creamy texture due to the addition of double cream and yogurt in my recipe.
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I added a few pink highlights as requested by the Birthday lady and a few edible crystals around her name, I didn’t want to go too overboard on the decoration as it was a cake for a grown up after all! After a day of baking and decorating the cake was all packed up and ready to go.
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I was also an invited guest at Crystal’s birthday as well as a few other UK Naturalistas, I asked the ladies to pose and show me their cake faces!
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I had a really great time at Crystal’s Party and thankfully Crystal and her guests really loved the cake, mission accomplished!
Here are some amazing photos of the taken by Raymond of a A-Picture Photography, thank you very much to Raymond and Chelena for giving me permission to use your photos on my blog.
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  The “3” cake was demolished in a matter of minutes and the “0” was not far behind…
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I have a lot of love and respect for Crystal, Crystal thanks for letting me make your birthday cake it was an honour and a pleasure.
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Thanks for Reading
Luv
Sian
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Queen Nzingha Lectures- Featuring Crystal Afro & Kandace Chimbiri

Hello My Cakers Bakers and Beauties!

This one is for the Londoners or those that can travel to London easily…

For about the last six months I have been attending the Queen Nzingha Lectures at Birkberk college University of London.

The lectures are organised by A National Association of Black Saturday Schools www.nabss.org.uk  and www.blackhistorywalks.co.ukproduction.

This is the description of the lectures from the Black History Walks website.

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Queen Nzinga was an African Queen who fought against the European invasion of southern Africa (Congo/Angola).

The Queen Nzinga lecture series features African/Caribbean female academics / holders of expert knowledge, speaking on topics of their choice on a monthly basis. The Nzinga lecture series provides a regular platform for women of African descent to highlight important issues in  an academic setting. 

I have really been enjoying these FREE lectures and have learned so much more about my history and culture. On Saturday 12th April the Queen Nzingha lecture was entitled:

African Hair Police : Death and Discrimination on your head

Obviously that caught my attention and I was even more excited to hear that UK Natural Hair Blogger Crystal Afro was one of the Queens  speaking at this lecture. The other Queen was Kandace Chimbiri, the founder of Golden Destiny publishing house and author of the book “Secrets Of The Afro Comb“.

The Lecture was opened by Tony Warner who talked about how hair texture and curl patterns were also used along with skin tone to discriminate and segregate people of colour around the world by their oppressors.

Tony’s introduction really brought the topic into context and as always I learned a bit more about Black History. Tony’s introduction covered:

  • The Pencil Test
  • The Haarfarbentel ‘racial value’ test
  • Africans in Germany during World War 2
  • Genocide by sex. Australia vs Brazil
  • How and why African hair became devalued
  • Hair vs skin as a tool of discrimination

Tony then introduced Ms Chimbiri who gave us an amazing audio-visual talk which linked the seemingly unrelated topics of colonialism in Southern Africa, World War 1,The Stolen Generation, Hitler’s Germany, the Black Power movement, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Lupita Nyongo and everyday life for women of African descent in England in the present day.

We had a short break and were able to actually look at a genuine historical artefact the “Haarfarbentafel” owned by UCL Museums and Collections this rare Haarfarbentafel (hair colour chart) which was manufactured in the early 20th century as a ‘standard’ scale for hair hierarchy, people were killed if their hair did match up to the samples in the “right” end of the scale. Looking at this object both fascinated and disgusted simultaneously.

The Haararbentafel

The Haararbentafel

Crystal Afro spoke next and she first challenged us to come up with a list of 5 well known celebrated British women of African Descent first from different decades in history then in 2014  once we had shouted out our answers she then asked the same question but added “with natural hair”, we actually could not come up with 5 well known and celebrated “Black British” women with natural hair, if you can please add your list in the comments below, and by well known I mean the average person on the street would know who the women are.

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Crystal explained that when she first decided to stop chemically straightening her hair, she struggled to find examples of well known Black British women who didn’t chemically straighten their hair, in fact even the Sisters on the internet who were going through their “Natural Hair Journeys” were almost exclusively American. That was one of the reasons that Crystal set up her blog The United Kinkdom. In fact The United Kinkdom was my best source of support and knowledge in my first days of going natural and I still follow the blog today.

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Crystal delivered her part of the lecture with intellectual style and aplomb, unlike a few of the Natural Hair Bloggers I’ve met, Crystal is not style over substance, she cares deeply about the health not just the looks of our Sisters and takes her passion for natural hair beyond the scalp . Crystal actually stayed for almost two hours after the talk and had one-on-one conversations with every single one of the ladies in the audience who wanted to speak with her, I might sound a bit like a fan and I guess in a way I am, I really support what Crystal is trying to do and it helps that she is so sweet and humble as well.

After the Lecture we watched an exclusive ten minute  advance preview  of the new film from Toyin Agbetu “Beauty Is”  and then we had extended Q and A  with Ms Chimbiri, Crystal and Mr Agbetu on the Panel.

The Panel from  L-R Ms Chimbiri, Crystal Afro, Mr Agbetu

The Panel from L-R Ms Chimbiri, Crystal Afro, Mr Agbetu

The Q and A was mainly about hair of course and the panellists were all asked some quite confrontational and challenging questions by members of the audience, but they all  answered the questions honestly, tactfully and professionally even though they still put some people in their place when they were asking questions that showed they were not listening properly to some of the information that had been shared earlier. Crystal even admitted that she cried for 2 weeks when she first went natural and I think that type of information is important to share because not everyone is immediately  in love with their natural hair when they big chop, but you wouldn’t know that from the way that most Naturalistas present themselves and their hair stories. I certainly was not in love with my TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro) in the beginning and that is why there are no photos of me with my hair like that. I wish I had taken the pics then because it would have been nice to look back on them, but oh well I do not have a time machine…

Here is a clip from the Q and A session please forgive the quality of pics and video in this post, I was using my phone:

Thanks for reading

Luv

Sian

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February 8th Part 3 The Lovely Little Lunch

February 8th continued…

Hubby and I were instructed by our roadside rescue company that it would take around 75 minutes for the tow truck to arrive, so we were advised by the police to go an sit in a café or somewhere close by to wait to get picked up. Since we were a so close to our destination we decided to go to the event anyway.

We hobbled along to Seven @ Brixton and were led down a dimly lit – slightly grimy corridor and up a tiny crooked set of stairs.

When we got to the upstairs landing the bubbly blonde waitress led us to a lovely little room all done up with hearts and flowers and full of beautiful natural haired ladies!

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The Ladies & their Twitter Handles:
Ayoki – @Ayokibrown
Cherelle – @locsntatts
Cynthia – @KickinKinks
Ketisha – @SugarKinesis
Lola – @LolasCurls
Rachy – @UKNaturals
Sian – @SianTheBaker (ME)
Sister E – @TheCalabashHub
Stacey – @TheNaprika

I had met all of the ladies before except Rachy from UK Naturals but I recognised her from Social Media, I quickly explained why I had brought along  a gate crasher and after showing the pics and confirming that we were relatively ok we got stuck into the fun and games!

I’d like to say a huge thanks to all of the Lovely Little Lunchers for welcoming my Husband into the LLL and helping us to take our minds off the day’s previous events.

Crystal had set up a few games and a quiz and we split into teams to play them, first we were in 3 teams to play a memory game where each team had 40 seconds to memorise a Mood Board full of words related to one of 3 topics, Social Media, Valentine’s Day or Natural Hair, our team (me, Kofi and Cherelle of Locs and Tatts) had to memorise the Valentine’s day board, we did quite well when we had to shout out all of the words we remembered after our 40 seconds was up, but I think that the team that was marking us were cheating, I’m not a sore loser #JustSaying.

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After the memory game Crystal split the room into 2 teams, our team was called Curls n Swirls and consisted of me, Cherelle, Kinesha, Teshna and Rachy,  my Husband was in charge of the keeping scores. Each team took it in turns to nominate a team member to answer a question based on Social Media, Natural Hair or London, each player could choose her subject to answer a question on until the questions on that subject ran out, if the player answered the questions on her own she was awarded 2 points for her team or she could “retweet” the question by  inviting her entire team to help with the answer but a retweeted answer  would only earn 1 point for the team.

My Husband - Crystal's Glamourous Assistant.

My Husband – Crystal’s Glamourous Assistant.

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Me laughing because I lost a 2 points for our team on a really easy question!

Obviously the Natural Hair topic was chosen most because we were all Natural Hair bloggers in one way or another, most of the questions were harder than you might think which actually made the  Game more fun.

I’m happy to report that Curls n Swirls won that game.   Our prize was a goody bag full of natural hair samples that we divvied up between the team.

We were each also given our own individual goody bags literally FULL of individually wrapped natural hair goodies, I really appreciated the amount of Love and effort Crystal put into the event. If you follow my blog you know I gave up going to “Natural Hair Events” because I felt that some of the organisers were simply out to make money and were not offering me anything worthwhile for the price of the ticket.

Please enjoy some more photos of the event…

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If you picked one of the hearts with the marked base you won a larger prize

And the winners are...

And the winners are…

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Custom made cocktail "single strand shot"

Custom made cocktail “single strand shot”

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Excuse the face, it was actually pretty tasty!

I would also like to say thank you to the following companies for their contribution to the event:

 

  • The Venue: Seven At Brixton – @SevenAtBrixton
  • Curly By Nature – @curlybyn
  • Hug My Hair – @HugMyHair
  • KeraCare Natural Textures – @AvlonUK
  • Mane Divas – @Manedivas
  • Shea Decadance – @shea_decadence
  • Sonia Evelyn – @Evelynproducts
  • AfroDeity – @AfrodeityLtd
  • Mmm Hair – @MmmHair
  • Just Things by LX – @JustThingsbyLX
  • Shea Surprise – sheasurprise.com
  • The Calabash Hub – @TheCalabashHub
  • Enwine Couture – @EntwineCouture
  • Adornment 365 – @Adornment365


Photo Credits go to all the other lovely little lunchers, I’d accidently left my camera at home!

Thanks for reading

Luv

Sian

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Jane Carter 360° Transformation – Love Your Hair, Love Yourself Presented by The UK Blogger Collective

Hello my Cakers Bakers and Beauties!

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On June 1st 2013 I was at the Jane Carter 360° Transformation Event, it was held at Jewel in Covent Garden, London.

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I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t even know there was a UK blogger collective until recently! I’ve been reading the United Kinkdom Blog for ages now, in fact Crystal’s blog really helped and encouraged me in the beginning of my natural hair journey as it was the first UK blog I found. Before finding the United Kinkdom blog I’d only read/seen USA naturals on the internet.

The event was free but you had to register for tickets, unfortunately by the time I tried to register the event was fully booked!

Crystal had a competition on her blog to win tickets, I entered the competition but Crystal actually contacted me and asked if I’d like to volunteer at the event instead, (she didn’t just message me out of the blue since I met her on my birthday I’d emailed her to say hi and thanks for taking pictures with me etc.)

I said I’d love to volunteer and on the 1st June I turned up at Jewel about an hour and a half earlier than I was supposed to, that was intentional as I wanted to make sure I could find the venue first, then eat and do a bit of shopping round Covent Garden.

Shannon – the lady who was setting up the event had other ideas though as she put me to work immediately!

I didn’t mind helping out as that was what I was there for after all! Shannon was a bit bossy and kept pronouncing my name as Shawn but hey her job was to get things done and she is very good at her job! After half an hour or so the UK Blogger Ladies made an appearance and I got to meet the others, Pelumi, Fiona, Wunmi and Leila.

The bloggers went back off to carry on getting ready for the main event and shortly after the other volunteers turned up.

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They were lovely girls and all with natural hair!

Don’t let the smiles fool you we worked HARD! we set up consultation stations, put up signs, set up the “shop” area, carried boxes and boxes of product up and down stairs and so on…

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There was also a massive sheet of paper put up for people to write down the reasons why they love their hair.

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We all wrote on it before the event actually started!

Once the event was about to begin we had to put on our “uniform” of Jane Carter T-Shirts, the T-Shirts only came in small. I thought that was a bit odd as we all come in different shapes and sizes but to be honest the T-Shirts were baggy on all of the other volunteers! I had foreseen this and brought my scissors with me so I could customise the shirt. I wanted to give it a deeper “V” neck to accommodate my …. um…. well you know but I didn’t want to cut into the picture of the product on the front, it wouldn’t have made a difference though because the picture was so stretched out anyway it was almost unrecognisable!

However that tiny stretched out t-shirt was like an access all areas pass! As I was part of the event team, people allowed me to take photographs of them all day long. Yes I was working all day, but I kept my camera on me all day so I could try and get loads of photographs, I took a mixture of natural and “posed” pics.

My photography is getting better (thankfully) I’m still by no means a photographer but I really enjoy taking photos, and now I’ve got a decent camera it really helps.

I’d like to give a shout out to a proper photographer Eulanda Shead, she was really lovely and let me follow her around a bit taking pics and she also gave me lots of advice about how to improve my own photography. Please check out her site her work is amazing.

Without further ado here are the photos of the event, if you are part of the “natural hair community” you will recognise a few faces, I’m not going to name check everyone, partly because I didn’t take down everyone’s names and partly because I don’t think it’s necessary. There is a bit of a hierarchy developing in the UK (natural) hair/beauty scene and I don’t like it one bit. We are all trying to achieve the same thing which is healthy hair and learning how to look after our hair (and bodies) in the best way possible, whether we are natural, relaxed, in-between, curly, coily, kinky, straight, weaved up, laced up, dyed fried or flipped to the side!

I intentionally took photos of all different hair textures and styles including ladies who didn’t have their real hair out, just enjoy the beauty and diversity of everyone and remember ultimately it is just hair, It is already dead once it’s erupted from your follicle and you would still be you if you had no hair on your head at all.ImageImageImage

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The Lovely Jane Carter

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Although we worked really hard, I had a really good day. Jane Carter and her team were lovely and very hard working. As a thank you for volunteering, I was allowed to chose a selection of full-sized Jane Carter Products. I have never used the range before so look out for a product review coming soon.

The manager of Jewel threw us out dead on 5PM, but Shannon is a HUSTLER and continued selling right on the street outside (see photos above). Was it legal? probably not, but no one cared, this is just how we do it in Jamaica, not everyone who needs to sell something in Jamaica has or needs an actual shop to sell out of.

I really liked Jane as a person and I’m excited to try her range but I wish that the UK Blogger collective had launched with a UK brand first. I think that it’s really important that we in the UK, support UK businesses not just hair and beauty brands but across the board. We whine and complain about the economy but there are things we could all do to help. Plus if we buy British usually we’re not paying so much for P+P or getting our items caught by customs and paying extra taxes. Yes I know you can buy US products from UK sites and stores but if you haven’t yet tried a UK based company dealing with natural hair products at least try a couple of brands out, there are sisters here in the UK with our hair types dealing with our horrible hard water and weather who are working hard to create natural hair products that are actually good for our hair and make it look good and smell nice too, these women have tried and tested these products out on themselves and their families and are always improving their products and putting new products out there.

I haven’t tried all of the UK natural hair brands yet as there are too many and I’m personally choosing to support women/companies that are physically local to me. However I will try out other UK brands as time goes by…

My staple and favourite UK brands are Kinks by Shea Decadence, Almocado Naturals and BeUnique, these brands are literally all I need and I don’t really need to use any other brands, in fact only one of the above brands would suffice for all my hair needs but being a Gemini variety is the spice of life!

I know that the UK Blogger collective do use and review UK brands so I’m not saying that they don’t support our own. I am not one to say things about people behind their backs, so to speak and I did ask them if they would do a similar event featuring a UK brand or brands in the future, the answer was YES! So watch this space!

On the day a few people (who I will not name) had a bit of “don’t you know who I am?” Syndrome, Sorry I really don’t know who you are, I have a busy life too and do not spend all my free time on the internet, I have a day job, a business to run, a husband and family to love etc… maybe if you told me your name when I introduced myself then I would know who you are!

That’s all Folks!

Luv

Sian

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