My top 3 cost-effective protective hairstyles for the winter months

•November 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

protective hairstyles, natural hair

To me, winter equals hibernation. I become a homebody and stay indoors as much as possible. The same goes for my natural hair, I tuck it away nicely to keep it from extreme conditions during the winter months. My hair isn’t brave enough to withstand the cold, harsh weather here in Edmonton and cracks at the first sign of the frosty season. I’ve known that about my hair for a long time, and that’s why I like to do protective hairstyles to keep it nice and warm and rested during the winter.

I mostly wear my hair in extension braids throughout the winter to hide it from the cold. And I really love the fact that wearing braids 1) gives my hair a rest from products and my hands always working on it; and 2) is actually one of the best ways to grow my hair. The extensions pretty much wrap around my hair, thus protecting it from the harsh environment—wind, snow, ice, pollution and all those other stressors that dry out, weaken and harm my hair. Who doesn’t want to protect their hair from the elements and give the poor thing a break from combing, brushing or pulling

If you can’t imagine wearing protect hairstyles for weeks or months straight, think of it this way: HAIR + REST + PROTECTION = LENGTH + STRENGTH!

I highly recommend doing protective hairstyles all winter long. And if you’re using extension braids, I suggest taking a week or so in between each style to let your hair breathe before you wear a protective style again. Depending, I wear my protective hairstyles for a while.

  • Braids with extensions: 2-4 months
  • Two-strand twists: 2-3 weeks
  • Cornrows with or without extensions: 3+ weeks

There are so many protective hairstyles that help keep natural hair safe, healthy and happy in the winter. Here are some of the ones I like, and you can count on them to protect your precious hair from the harsh winter elements, help it rest and grow, and best of all, give YOU a break from having to do it all the time!

  1. Braids with extensions

You might also like Havana twists (my fave)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehhRD0KYj2Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kM6oa2NU7U

  1. Two-strand twists

Other resources

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zj2RgSoDHt8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mw5bMgVqjmk

  1. Cornrows with or without extensions

Other resources

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tX47mIjooHo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgorfY_OPAc

What protective hairstyles do you like to wear during the winter months? How do you protect your hair in the winter?

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My review of bridal shops in Edmonton

•November 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’m getting married next summer and I’m super stoked. We started planning the wedding a few months ago and things are going great. The major things we wanted to knock off our to-do list first were: the ceremony and reception venues, foods, and my wedding dress. Shopping for a wedding dress in Edmonton really made me realize how the quality of ‘customer service’ in general has gone down the drain over the years. I’m rating the stores where I shopped for my wedding dress in Edmonton based on two things: customer service and their process.

When it comes to shopping, I often know exactly what I want and I’m very decisive about making a final decision. Because I value my time very much and I don’t like to waste other people’s time either, I researched and made a list of 11 bridal shops in Edmonton that I wanted to check out. I also made a list of criteria for my wedding dress to help the shopping process move along smoothly so I’m not wasting anyone’s time and vice-versa. Here’s a list of the stores I went to and my criteria.

Store Criteria
ABC Bridal
  • $800-$1,500
  • Sexy back
  • Fitted
  • Lace
  • Long

Dislikes:

  • Studs or jewels/blingy/shiny
  • One shoulder
Bridal Debut
Career Girl Bridal
Crystal’s Bridal
David’s Bridal
Delica Bridal
Gemini Bridal
Novella Bridal Shop
Pure Bridal
The Bridal Boutique
The Bridal & Tuxedo House

The most important criteria to me was ‘sexy back’. I wanted a sexy back wedding dress not just any type of ‘open back’ wedding dress. And I made sure to let the staff at each store know that. Here are my ratings based on each store’s customer service and process for soon-to-be brides looking for their dress, ‘the one’.

ABC Bridal
Customer Service: 8
Process: 3
When I make an appointment for something and you book me in for a specific time slot, I expect that to mean something. It was like a zoo when I got to ABC Bridal. There were several soon-to-be brides everywhere and bridesmaids who were also looking for dresses. The staff that gave me pins to put on any dress I liked so they can bring that dress for me to try on. But the space was just one open area with a few dress racks. I was almost bumping into people trying to maneuver around them just so I could see if there was anything I wanted to pin. I tried on about 7 dresses at that store and I really liked 2 of them. But I had no intention of going back because they didn’t listen to my needs and their process was scatterbrain. My expectation was that I’d have a face time with a staff to tell them my criteria, and they’d put anything that fits those criteria in a fitting room for me. Not me having to sift through wedding dresses at the same time as a bunch of other shoppers, trying not to trample anyone. ABC Bridal didn’t take the time to even listen to me or find out about my criteria or needs.

Bridal Debut
I didn’t get to go to this store because I had already found the wedding dress I wanted before my appointment with Bridal Debut. 

Career Girl Bridal
Customer Service: 10
Process: 10
When I got there, I chatted about my criteria with the staff who was helping me. She took that information and pulled two dresses for me. She then pointed to the racks that were within my budget and asked me to look around to see if I liked anything else. I browsed through the racks quickly and chose one. I tried on the 3 dresses and liked 1 very much. Within 25 minutes, I was out of the store and I had information about next steps. That’s how I like to shop. And the best part, Career Girl Bridal wasn’t like a zoo of soon-to-be brides and bridesmaids hunting for dresses. It was just me and another customer.

Crystal’s Bridal
Customer Service: 10
Process: 10
The young ladies that helped me when I went to Crystal’s Bridal were so nice, I wanted to buy everything in the store. Their process was similar to Career Girl Bridal. I filled out a form about my criteria, style and budget then we reviewed the form together. They were honest with me that they didn’t have sexy back wedding dresses. They showed me a few open back wedding dresses instead and asked me to look around to see if I liked anything else instead. I didn’t find anything I liked, but I really appreciated their honestly and attentiveness. Also, I was about 30 minutes early for my appointment and they helped me right away. It was just me and one other customer who was in the middle of her fitting when I got there. I was in and out of the store within 15 minutes. That’s the kind of efficiency I like.

David’s Bridal
Customer Service: 9
No one acknowledged me for a while me I arrived for my appointment.
Process: 10
When I got there, the receptionist gave me a tablet and explained their process. Off with the tablet I went, checking boxes to select the dresses I wanted to try on. Once I was done, a staff took the tablet and went to pull the dresses I had chosen. She helped me out as I tried on the dresses. Sadly, I didn’t like any of the dresses they had in store. When I had looked online prior to my appointment, I had at least 10 options I was really pumped about, but they didn’t have those in David’s Bridal stores in Canada, only in the States. That was a bummer, but it also meant I didn’t have to waste my time in the store. So I was gone within 30 minutes.

Delica Bridal
I didn’t get to go to this store because I had already found the wedding dress I wanted before my appointment with Delica Bridal.

Gemini Bridal
Customer Service: 2
Process: 2
I will NEVER go to this store again for anything. Gemini Bridal had the worst customer service of all the Edmonton bridal shops I went to. While at the store, I told the young lady about my criteria and I also gave her the details of the 3 dresses I liked on their website prior to my appointment. Still, they made we use their in-store computer (which was very slow), browse their catalogue, and write the details down again on a piece of paper the older lady gave me…and they expected me to have a pen. When I got a pen from her, I went through the dresses on their slow website and jotted down details of the ones I liked. She came back to look at my list and then told me that they didn’t have 3 of the dresses I selected. Not waiting for my reply, she left to pull the 1 or 2 that they did have. I sat down by the fitting room watching High School girls try on prom dresses with their families. It took the older lady about 30 minutes to pull just 2 wedding dresses. Just when I was about to leave because I was tired of sitting around waiting, she came back with just one. I don’t know why, but I tried it on anyway knowing clearly I wasn’t too excited about the dress. Then I left. That’s over 30 minutes of my life I’ll never get back and I blame myself. Having looked at their website, I knew the store didn’t have as many wedding dresses as most bridal stores in Edmonton, but I wanted to give it a chance any way. I wasn’t expecting such horrible customer service. Though it wasn’t as bad a this second time, their customer service was awefule two years ago when I got my bridesmaids dress for a friend’s wedding from them. NEVER again, I can’t waste my time a third time with that store.

Novella Bridal Shop
Customer Service: 9
Process:10
It was just me and another bridal party when I showed up for my appointment. I was escorted into a private area where I had a chat about my criteria and budget with the staff that was helping me. She let me know right away they didn’t have something that totally fit my criteria and budget. But the both of us looked through the racks that fit my budget trying to find something. She insinuated that I was picky, and I told her straight up that I absolutely am and that it was totally OK they couldn’t meet my needs. I was out of the store in 15 minutes if not less.

Pure Bridal
Customer Service: 10
I was acknowledged as soon as I walked in. The pregnant lady that helped me was so sweet, personable and attentive that I just wanted to hug her to pieces.
Process: 10
I was escorted into a private section to chat with the lady about my needs. I told her about my criteria and budget. She made some recommendations when I told her it was a beach wedding and off she went to bring wedding dresses that met my criteria and budget. I tried on about 5 dresses and fell in love with 1, which ended up making my top three list of sexy back wedding dresses. The lady encouraged me to try on the dress again after I finished trying on the other ones she brought. I loved the dress even more the second time I put it on. When we finished, we talked about the next steps. I was out of the store within 30 minutes.

wedding dresses Edmonton

Choice #2 – Pure Bridal

The Bridal Boutique
Customer Service: 10

Process: 10
The store is a little tight but I was still able to have a good conversation about my criteria and budget with the staff what was helping me. Having browsed their website prior to my appointment, I told her the dresses I wanted to try on and she brought the ones they had in store. I tried on about 3 dresses and loved 1 that ended up making my list of top three wedding gowns. Even though the store was tiny and busy when I went, I received the help I needed. I left the store within 20 minutes.

wedding gowns Edmonton

Choice #3 – The Bridal Boutique

The Bridal & Tuxedo House
Customer Service: 6
I interacted with three staff members when I went to this place, and one of them is the reason I’m giving The Bridal & Tuxedo House a 7 instead of 10. She had a condescending, standoffish attitude and made me feel that my budget was unreasonable, as if she’s the one who earns my money for me and can tell me how to spend it. Even worse, she interrupted me each time. Later on, she tried to improve her behaviour once she noticed I was giving my attention to another staff who was also helping me. I was so disappointed that I tweeted about it—and the store tweeted me back to give them a call. I didn’t. #TooLate. I knew before I left the store that I wasn’t going to shop there again.
Process: 9
Like most of the bridal stores I went to, I let the staff know about my criteria and they pulled a few dresses for me to try on. They didn’t have in the store most of the styles I saw on their website and wanted to try on. Once she decided to get over herself, the ‘staff with bad attitude’ brought me a dress that I really liked but it was over my budget.

Even after visiting several bridal stores, I couldn’t get the one dress I liked at Career Girl Bridal out of my mind. So I ended up buying it on my next visit when I only intended to show it to a friend.

What I learned from my 10-day cleanse

•October 26, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Call me lame but I like to try things that get me out of my comfort zone, no matter how big or small—or sometimes, stupid—the thing is. Something I tried recently that’s outside of my comfort level is body cleansing.

Now, before I tell you about my cleansing experience, know that I eat a lot. That’s challenge #1 I took on when I started the strict-eating detox cleanse. I’m constantly eating throughout the day (meals, snacks and everything else in between), and I can clean up an overly loaded plate of rice and stew like no man’s business. Mind you, I do eat healthy. Secondly (and the ultimate challenge) was discipline. I’ve never in my life had to follow a rigid eating structure. Thirdly, I have no interest in anything remotely close to cleansing like fasting, dieting or giving up something for lent—I dislike any form of starvation. But I didn’t want to knock detoxifying cleanses until I tried one.

I thought the 10-day Clear Change Metabolic Detoxification program by Metagenics would be a good one to try, even though I think detoxifying diets are a waste of time and money, and there’s no clinical proof they’re effective. But remember, I’m lame, I find it fun to challenge myself in weird ways like this.

This is what I learned:

  • Buying the cleanse package can be expensive. I bought the “Firstline Therapy Clear Change 10-Day Program” for $125. The program is developed by Metagenics and I bought it through my naturopathic doctor. I’ve heard of cleanses that cost less and also some that cost more. I contemplated returning the stuff before I finally did the detox cleanse.
  • Grocery shopping for the ‘recommended’ ingredients and foods can be expense. The ingredients and foods I needed for my first day cost me $36. When I lived alone, I got by just fine on a $150 monthly grocery budget. Imagine spending $36 of it on just one day’s meals.
  • Grocery shopping for the ingredients and foods can be annoying and inconvenient. It was annoying for me because I wanted to buy my vegetables and fish fresh each day. This meant going to the store every day, which is inconvenient. One time, I forgot to stop at the grocery store on my way home from work and ended up having to go back out after I had already gotten home.
  • Figuring out what ingredients to buy can be frustrating. I normally stick to my usual brands when I grocery shop that by now I know exactly what to get without having to think at all. But some of the things I had to buy during this body detoxification were things I didn’t buy at all or not regularly. So I was overwhelmed by the number of choices (types and brands) for one single item, like raisings. It was frustrating to choose between the different types of an item, especially when the cleanse program guide didn’t specify the type I needd.
  • My body didn’t feel any different during the detoxification or a few days after before I fully got back to my regular diet. I mean if you want to get down to the details, my urine was green and I did #2 a bit more often. That was about it. I didn’t feel any different physically, mentally or spiritually.
  • I was hungry often. Not because I wasn’t eating enough. That’s actually one thing I liked about the cleanse diet—you could eat as much of the ‘recommended foods’ as possible. I was often hungry because it took me longer to prepare meals. I’d have my meal or a shake or a snack just before leaving work, but I was starving by the time I’d stop by the grocery store on my way home, cook and actually sit down to eat. That process took time and energy and delayed when I ended up eating dinner. I was cooking everyday instead of a day or two in advance like I normally do.
  • I felt cheated when I ran out of the ‘nutritional beverage’ mix I needed for my shakes—and I still had a day to go that required two scoops of the mix three times a day. This was upsetting because I measured each scoop as was recommended so I’m not sure how I could’ve run out.
  • The ‘nutritional beverage’ and ‘dietary supplements’ tasted horrible.
  • My taste pallets totally changed. This is the only good thing I noticed about my detoxifying diet. The detoxifying diet consisted of mostly salads and raw or slightly cooked vegetables with minimum condiments. I normally don’t eat salads and I often sauté or cook my vegetables with seasonings and such. My taste buds adjusted fewer condiments in my foods. During the cleanse regimen, I used only extra virgin olive oil (evoo) and vinegar on my salads and evoo and tiny amount of salt (for taste) on my vegetables. I got used to the salads and raw vegetables that I even craved them at times.

I already knew some of these things and didn’t have to put myself through 10 days of starvation to figure them out.

The detoxifying treatment gave me a chance to: 1) introduce healthy fresh whole foods to my diet like salads and raw vegetables; and 2) train my palate to have a taste for foods in their most natural state. Even so, I don’t think I’ll do another cleanse again. It’s weird for me to starve myself for any number of days—I’m too much of a little miss piggy for that. My body is designed to naturally cleanse out my system, especially if I take good care of myself by eating healthy (vegetables, fruits and drinking a lot of water). I’ll let it do its job.

11 things to do in Vancouver on a trip

•October 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

No matter what part of the world you live in, you should visit Vancouver if you’ve never been before. There’s something for everyone to enjoy in this popular city in Canada.

Me and my husband had been talking about visiting Vancouver for a little while and we actually had the chance to last month—and we loved it. We were very excited about the trip and we both had our own list of things to do in Vancouver. I love food, fitness, and outdoor activities that keep me in shape like hiking, running or going for a walk in the woods. So naturally, the five things to do in Vancouver that were a must for me were: Stanley Park, the seawall, Grouse Mountain, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and the Granville Island Public Market. Everything else was secondary.

I didn’t realize how much we did on our trip to Vancouver until I wrote this blog post. Here are my favourite fun things to do in Vancouver.

1. Stanley Park
This was a MUST on my list and I’m so glad we did it. I loved Central Park when I visited New York some years ago and I was super happy to walk around Canada’s version. There are trails throughout the park for running, walking and biking. It’s such a beautiful, lush and calming place I didn’t want to leave. The spots along the Lost Lagoon are serene and comforting. It’s a good place to collect your thoughts or do some writing.

2. The Seawall
This was by far the highlight of our trip, well, for me. My husband is not into such long walks and hikes but he did the 9k walk around Stanley Park. We kind of did it backwards, starting from the Lost Lagoon then we went west then north then ended up on the east side by Brockton Point. Every view is a postcard shot, and there are other beauties to look out for along the way like the view of North Vancouver, the Siwash Rock, the Girl in a Wet Suit sculpture, and First Nations art and totem poles. We stopped to have lunch at the beach area north of 2nd Beach, just before the Siwash Rock. If you don’t want to walk the Seawall like we did, you can rent a bike or roller blades for the trip. Sidenote: I was amazed at how clean the bathrooms are at the different restrooms along the Seawall.

3. Grouse Mountain
I did track & field for six years and some cross country running and obstacle races, so I was instantly drawn to doing the Grouse Mountain. I really wanted to do it with my husband but I knew he wasn’t up for it. We gave it a shot but turned back after awhile. Instead, we went up to the peak via a gondola and looked around the area then had lunch (such beautiful views).

4. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
We stopped at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park on the way back from Grouse Mountain. Even though I’ve bungee-jumped and done some other height-related shenanigans, I’m actually afraid of heights. Still, I was pumped to get on the Capilano Suspension Bridge. IT WAS SCARY. You’re suspended 230 feet (70m) above the shallow Capilano River on this 450 feet (137m) long narrow bridge that wobbles as pedestrians walk up and down on it. Did I mention that there’s nothing but a shallow river at the bottom of it. That doesn’t help at all. I was terrified. Luckily I had my husband. I literally clanged to the straps on his backpack and directed him as to when to stop, walk, and how slow or fast he should walk. Meanwhile, everyone else is just having a field day on the bridge posing, taking pictures and stopping to savour the moment. I wasn’t having any of that in the middle of the bridge. I stopped to do all of that at the edge of the bridge. Other than the bridge, there are other things to see at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park like the Treehouse, Board Walk, Cliffwalk (I was so scared I almost threw up), Treetops Walk and totem poles.

5. Sunset Beach and English Bay Beach
We stayed on Davie, a step away from Thurlow Street. This made getting to Granville Island Public Market, Sunset Beach and English Bay Beach very easy, a five-minute walk. We were lucky for the great weather while we there in Vancouver, which was great for grabbing snacks and having a picnic or just relaxing at these beaches. There are large mature trees that provide excellent shade while you munch on foods or take a nap. Both beaches are also great for people watching.

6. Granville Island Public Market
We love farmers markets. We’ve raided Edmonton’s farmers markets and were really excited for Granville. So yes, we ended up there on our first day in Vancouver. We went again the day before we left and got some goodies for the road and to munch on that day at Sunset Beach. It was a little tricky getting to the Granville Island Public Market the first time we went. We didn’t know about the ‘water taxi’ so we walked around aimlessly along the boardwalk laughing at ourselves while trying to figure out how to get to the other side of the island. After walking up and down around the Aquatic Centre and waterfront condos, we went to the only dock we figured could be the ‘ferry’ terminal. Yes, we were expecting a ferry like the ones we used to ride when we lived in Halifax, and so we were trying to find a large ‘ferry terminal’, not a tiny ‘water taxi terminal’. We forgot about our navigation fiasco once we got to the market, which is huge! I really liked the varieties and the fact that it isn’t situated in one large building. There are stores and boutiques scattered throughout the area. There’s even a Kids’ Market.

7. The Fish House in Stanley Park
A friend of mine who used to live in Vancouver recommended we stop at the restaurant when I told her we’d be doing Stanley Park and the Seawall. So we did just that. We got some foods that we ate at a hilltop area with benches along the Seawall. And we ended up back at the restaurant for dinner after doing 9k of the Seawall plus the Vancouver Aquarium Centre. The atmosphere was soothing and tranquil after such a long day. I enjoyed both the meal we had to go and sitting down for dinner.

8. Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House
I’m coo coo for seafood and this place was excellent. We ended up here out of randomness and indecisiveness about what to eat. Since we didn’t know what we felt like eating we decided to wander the streets looking for where to eat in downtown Vancouver. Something about Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House spoke to us (I love seafood and my husband loves his steaks) so we went in. I had the Joe’s Fresh Seafood Cioppino and it was delicious. I’ll definitely be going back whenever I’m in Vancouver. It was a surprise bonus to learn about the history of the place.

9. Robson Street
This wasn’t exactly a favourite but it’s worth seeing if you like shopping. We strolled along Robson Street a bit since we walked to and from everything instead of taking a cab or renting a car. But I think the most we did on Robson Street was get some crepes late at night during one of our outings. Most people like it because it’s filled with shopping stores and boutiques and it’s always bustling.

10. Chinatown
I was super stoked about visiting a Chinatown in Vancouver, but this was a bust. I was looking forward to the night market and that full-fledged Asian culture vibe, which I really loved when I lived in Asia. I believe we went to Chinatown on a Thursday evening. We took bus #23 from Davie and Thurlow streets (right in front of the Denny’s Restaurant). The bus was out of service when it reached Yaletown. So we got off and walked from Marinaside Cresent to Pacific Blvd, past the BC Place Stadium and the Rogers Arena, onto Abbot Street then turned right onto Keefer Street, and past the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. We walked around east Pender Street and Gastown area. NOTHING. No Chinatown. Nothing was open really. I was pissed for having gone through all the trouble only to find that pretty much everything in the Chinatown area was closed. We just ended up taking east Hastings Street back to Granville Street and Robson Street and found something to eat around that area. E Hastings Street is a total shock for any visitor to Vancouver, especially if you aren’t used to seeing such poverty at all.

11. The Vancouver Aquarium
I’m not a big fan of zoos or aquariums but if you are, you’d probably like the Vancouver Aquarium. The place is huge and there’s a ton to see. But I thought $35/person was a steep fee for an aquarium. I wouldn’t have gone if my husband didn’t love aquariums.

 

There you have it, 11 fun things to do in Vancouver when you visit the city! When you go, I suggest you stay at a place that’s relatively central and close to amenities. If you do that, you won’t need to rent a car since everything/everywhere is walkable. We stayed on Davie and Thurlow, which is walkable to Stanley Park, Granville Island Public Market water taxi station, Robson Street, Chinatown/Gastown, Yale town, the stadium and arena and many more places.

 

Happy traveling!

Things I miss about a traditional Edo/Benin wedding

•October 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Edo wedding-benin wedding-Nigerian wedding

I almost cried the other night as I flipped through web pages on the internet and jumped excitedly from blogs to Pinterest to Facebook looking at photos of traditional Edo/Benin weddings. I’m a Nigerian who practically grew up abroad and I don’t have ties back home. I’ll be getting married next year abroad and I’m super pumped. At the same time, I’m a little sad because the reality of me not having a full-fledged authentic Edo wedding is beginning to sink in.

I’m from Benin City, which is in Edo State in Nigeria. Edo is in the southern part of Nigeria and we (the people) are referred to as either Edo or Bini. When I lived back home, I remember falling in love with the traditions, togetherness, and pure excitement that are packed in authentic Edo/Benin weddings. From how a house would be packed with the many people who are helping with the wedding to the elder male relatives who would hang out on their side of the veranda drinking Guinness and Star beers and munching on kola nuts to the little kids who would run around the yard with excitement like it’s Christmas time to the shady up-to-no-good teens who would steal fried meat from the ladies who are slaving away in the kitchen to prepare the meals for the wedding. I miss all of that chaos and excitement.

No matter who you are, if you’re from a large extended family and everyone gets really involved in helping make those special family occasions come true then you know the chaos and excitement I’m talking about. Here are some of the things I miss about sharing those occasions with my family.

The recruiting of helpers
I went to several weddings when I used to live back home and my family had its share of weddings as well. Months before the wedding, the bride and her parents would’ve lined up their family and friends who will be helping with the wedding to cook, feed and entertain guests who would drop by during the last week (s) before the wedding (paying special attention to the elders). The bridal family would also need someone to babysit and feed little cousins/nephews/nieces while the adults focus on major wedding stuff. And many things like that. Big events like weddings truly take a whole village to make happen, and the best part is that there are family and friends who would say yes to the task—even before you ask. That’s one of the cultural differences I miss about living back home.

The shopping
The week before the wedding is when we’d do most of the shopping for foods. Off to New Benin Market we’d go and other major markets across the city. For stuff that can travel long distance we’d have those brought over to Benin like from Lagos or even abroad. This is also the time when the house would get really packed that at night you find yourself sleeping on a mat or a mattress on the floor next to a snoring “aunty” you hadn’t seen in years because there aren’t enough beds to go around for everyone who’s staying over.

The food

Edo wedding-benin wedding-nigerian wedding-nigerian food

I love Nigerian food! Yes, I’m bias, I know. No matter how hectic things are during Edo weddings, there’s always time for some soulful Nigerian meals. My favourites are pounded yam with a soup that has several different meat, a very nice rice and stew dish, and yam with eggplant stew. The best part for me? Someone else would do the cooking. I can’t even begin to tell you about the delicious foods that are at the wedding. They’ll take your taste buds out of this world.

The entertainment
One of the great things I really appreciate about traditional Edo wedding is the live entertainment. Also months before the wedding, the bride would’ve chosen the entertainers who will be performing. Typically, you’d hire a well-known musician to perform as well as a cover artist to play some of those all-time favourite Edo songs. And let’s not forget the traditional/cultural entertainers who do interpretive dancing.

The drop-in guests
I’m sure it’s not just an African thing, but a typical Edo person has a lot of ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’, which is equivalent to calling people ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’ even if they aren’t by blood your actual uncles or aunties. This is most obvious at big occasions like weddings. And if you’re at the very bottom of the hierarchy, that means you have even more people to call ‘uncle’ and ‘aunty’—and that also means you’re the new ‘house boy’ or ‘house girl’ who’d be doing everything you’re told (not asked) to do by everyone who’s older than you. That aside, the house is packed with different people dropping in and house that you’re constantly running around to serve guests.

The attire

Edo wedding-benin wedding-nigerian wedding

Months before the wedding, the bride would’ve chosen the African fabric that’d be one of the unique features of her wedding. Friends and family would have the choice to buy the same fabric and take it to their tailor to make whatever style they want to wear to the wedding. And don’t forget the Edo coral beads—the final touch that makes every Edo bride feel like a true African queen on her big day. Edo weddings wouldn’t be the same without the bride and groom decking out those cultural fashion statement pieces. Brides could have the beads sewn and/or braided into their own hair or onto a crown and they would wear that crown. Traditional Edo weddings are distinctly recognized for the coral beads, and I can’t wait for my beads.

The mini party the night before
The night before the wedding is the best. It’s the ‘watch night’ of any big Edo occasions like a wedding—and that pretty much means that you don’t sleep. I miss staying up late getting everything ready for the Big Day like trying on my African attire and having the tailor fix any last minute problems; helping with little stuff in the kitchen while listening to the women who came to help prepare meals tell stories and jokes; running here and there to fetch things for the many “uncles” and “aunties” who would use you as their personal slave; and catching up with friends and relatives. By the time you know it, it’s daybreak and you’re rushing to get at least an hour of sleep. Those are some of the things that make me love weddings in Nigeria. On the night before the wedding, you’d have the ladies on one side of the veranda cooking up a storm while the men are on the other side drinking and munching on foods. That’s as traditional as it gets with gender inequality.

I might not be able to have a full-fledged Edo wedding, a westernized version with our own spin on it won’t be so bad. I can hardly wait!

Discovering the little gems in Edmonton #5 – Edmonton International Film Festival

•October 13, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Things to do in Edmonton

You know when you’ve been dying to try something for so long but for some weird reason, things never work out when you actually get the chance to? That’s how it’s been for me and EIFF (Edmonton International Film Festival) in the past couple of years. One year, I totally forgot the event was happening. Another time, I couldn’t see any of the evening shows because of work schedule and other after work commitment. Lucky for me this year, I was able to make one of the shows—the Lunchbox Shorts.

I’m happy to have had the chance to finally catch EIFF. The opportunity was perfect for my quest to try at least one new thing to do in Edmonton every month—no matter how big or small. There are plenty of things to do in Edmonton all year round, especially if you work or live downtown.

I had a great experience at EIFF when I checked out one of the Lunchbox Shorts that ran from noon to 1 p.m. The theatre was packed with only a few seats remaining when I got there. And the shorts I watched were great, a balanced combination of laughter, sadness, self-discovery and reality. Did I mention that you get a 6“ sub, a cook and a bottle of water for the $13 you pay for the shorts? Now that’s a pretty sweet deal.

I’ll definitely be enjoying another Lunchbox Shorts and one or two evening shows next year if I’m still working downtown.

Discovering the little gems in Edmonton #s 7 + 6 – Wabamun Lake

•September 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

things to do in Edmonton-wabamun lake

Early this year, I made a deal with myself to try at least one thing each month that’d allow me to enjoy Edmonton. There are many things to do in Edmonton and making a commitment to try at least one NEW thing every month—no matter how big or small—is a way for me to enjoy what the city has to offer.

My plan was going well. I was trying one new thing every month, until July and August came around. Those two months were hectic and my husband and I had two back-to-back trips. Luckily, things have settled down since then and I was able to start the quest again with a day trip to Wabamun Lake in September. I was very excited to spend a day surrounded by nature, away from the city noise and all its distractions. When that morning came, my husband and I threw our stuff in our backpacks, stopped by the store to pick up some of our favourite snacks and fruits, and then we were off. I liked the place instantly as soon as we parked in the area dedicated to day trips. It’s a huge, lush area that’s open so if you have kids they can run around freely and you’ll be able to keep a close eye on them. I was really excited about the lake. That was my one criteria—a body of water—when we were searching which park to go to. Sadly, we picked the wrong day for a day trip to Wabamun Lake. The weather was chilly and windy, and the sun couldn’t decide if it was coming out or staying behind the clouds. We lasted for as long as we could and then headed home after just a few hours.

About two weeks later, we decided to go back for an over night camping experience because we really liked the area and it wasn’t that far from the city (for commuting purposes). Wabamun Lake has an area for people who are there for a day trip to enjoy and a separate area for campers. The short commute from the city was only about an hour to an hour and a half. Again, that morning we loaded our truck with the camping gears we bought early in the summer, headed to the store to get a few essentials, and then we were on our way. And again, this trip didn’t turn out so good weather-wise. The first half of September this year was a nightmare, even worse, it snowed in some parts of Alberta IN AUGUST (if you can believe that). The night at the campground was very cold and made sleeping uncomfortable, and I dreaded going outside of the tent to use the outhouse. In the early morning, it started to rain. The weather looked persistent that it was going to rain all day, so we packed up our things and headed home as soon as we braved cooking and eating breakfast in the cold drizzle.

Despite how things turned out both times, we made the best of the trips. We really like Wabamun Lake that we agreed to try it again next summer when the weather is much warmer. We plan to do a few day trips and one camping trip for a few nights with a bunch of friends (convincing them of this is going to be another story).

 
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