Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bits & Pieces

By now the news about Italian Vogue's issue featuring all Black models has reached the masses. Sure this is exciting and historical. No doubt I will be purchasing a copy. Am I totally shocked? Not really. Bethann surely has something to do with this - directly or not. Kudos to her for getting folks to think out of the box in relation to models of color.

Miss Jourdan Dunn is rumored to be the cover model of this groundbreaking issue.

This issue will probably drop in June or July. I'm not shocked because the "J" months (January, June, July) are always slow sellers in mag publishing. That is when a book like Vogue, even an edgy Italian Vogue would take such a "risk". Also, this still feels like a novel idea to me. Sorta like a makeover issue or a green issue... Black women are not novelties. To me, this is different than Trace's Black Girls Rule! annual issue. Still, I'm looking forward to it.

Once I pick up the mag and actually digest it I will post on it cover to cover. It really isn't fair to judge it until then. I guess I might need to brush up on my Italian huh?

Before I go, check out this new (or at least new to me) site my girl Mija just put me on to. Like.com is kinda genius. You can even upload photos of items you like and then get a listing of who has the same or a similar product. Makes you say, 'Why didn't anyone think of this before?'

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Just Doesn't Make Sense To Me

I don't feel like posting on anything style related today. I wrote the piece below in early December 2006 just a week or so after the Sean Bell murder. At the time I didn't have a blog. (My friend did however post it on his MySpace blog - thanks Ans.) Now I do have one so I feel the need to re-post it in light of yesterday's verdict. I left all the errors in because I was free writing and this isn't something I want "cleaned-up".

A lot of things in this world don't make sense to me. I don't understand why my friend Cocoa has to go to Iraq in two months. She's literally one of the sweetest people I know. I don't get why people are homeless and sleeping on the street on the same block where apartments are selling for millions of dollars. It doesn't seem right that a 13 year old can't make it to homeroom on time because she had to go through the school metal detector first.

But for the past week, the thing I just can't seem to get out of my mind is the death of Sean Bell and the shooting of his two friends. Moreover, it's the effect this murder is going to have on the family he left behind. Maybe it's because the murder took place 15 minutes from where I live. Maybe it's because it happened hours before he was to marry his high school sweetheart. Or it could be that I'm just maturing and becoming more sensitive to senseless acts like this - that maternal gene kicking in. All I know is that my heart is breaking for Sean's fiancé, Nicole, his children and the rest of his family and loved ones. The complete ridiculous way that the NYPD and local government are handling this situation is beyond infuriating. The last I heard/read is that investigators are looking for a fourth man who apparently had a gun and fled the scene. What the crap for? But that's a whole 'notha rant’.

What I can't seem to get out of my mind is Sean's fiancé, the mother of their two children and how through all of this, she has appeared so graceful yet very strong. I'm sure she's still in total shock. But from the little I have read about Nicole this past week, I have so much respect and admiration for her. One report told of how she requested the pastor who was scheduled to marry her and Sean that he still marries them. Wow. Talk about heavy. I guess she wanted it to happen regardless. That's love. I have witnessed from friends and family how planning your wedding can consume so much of your life - even the smallest of celebrations. This woman went from preparing her wedding, probably what she thought would be one of the happiest times of her life to having to plan a funeral. As if that's not enough, she had to comfort her children through all this. Though one child is an infant, she still has to be a mother to them both. In another report, I read that the oldest child recently lost a puppy and was obviously quite sad about it. To help console her, Sean told his daughter that the puppy had gone to be with the sun so whenever the sun was shining, the puppy was smiling down on her. After having to break the news of her father's death to this same child, Nicole told the little girl that Daddy had left to be with the puppy. That's a lot for any kid to handle.

Now, in the next few months and probably years, Nicole has to talk to attorneys, journalists, even folks trying to make money off her unfortunate story with book or movie proposals. I know people, innocent people, die everyday. But if we start getting so caught up in our daily lives that we become immune to people like Sean and Nicole, well that just doesn't make sense to me either. I thought about just putting this in my journal. But it's not enough this time. And I don't have a blog or a myspace page to post this on. I don't care if nobody responds to this, or if anyone doesn’t like it or agree with it. I had to get it off my chest and my heart. It's been there for a week now and I can't shake it. But something about typing this helps ease the hurt and confusion. I would like to do something more - and hopefully I will. I can write a letter to a politician, send a card or flowers to the families of those who lost loved ones, march in a rally at City Hall. But right now, at 4:37am on Sat, 12.2 - this is it.

The universe works in such mysterious ways. God willing my friend Cocoa will return from fighting Bush's war in Iraq this weekend. Supposedly she was over there for the last year and four months to help ensure safety and democracy.

Sean can't come back and the very people who were supposed to be ensuring his safety are the reason.

Nope, this still doesn't make any sense to me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Creole Cuisine in Illidelph (no really)

A conference with my church took me to Philadelphia last week. In between seminars and reminiscing on college road trips to the city of brotherly love for Penn Relays (SO much fun!) I managed to eat at a newly opened restaurant named Les Bons Temps. Les Bons Temps, loosely translated means let the good times roll, just opened last Friday. It was rather cool to dine there on their opening night. Serving cajun/creole cuisine, Les Bons also has live music (at least they did when I was there), a full bar and a relaxing ambiance. The antique wood finishings and chandeliers throughout the restaurant really made me feel like I was in the Big Easy even through I was in the heart of downtown Philly. It could make a great date spot too - the seats overlooking the first level are romantic in a non-saccharin way.

I enjoyed the fried oysters while my friends raved over the crab stuffed tomatoes. I’m no foodie but this place is worth a visit if you find yourself in the neighborhood. I think they’re just opened for dinner at the moment. And the prices were not outrageous but if you're really counting your pennies like me, I suggest just ordering an appetizer or two. My friends and I were disappointed about not getting our cheesesteak or Rita Water Ice fix during our stay but I’m kinda glad we found this little gem instead.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

If Only For One Night...

My friend just informed me of the rice rationing that a couple of our large retailers here in the U.S. have implemented. I thought he was mistaken when he first told me but it appears to be true. Now of course this could all be some sort of government propaganda. (Yeah, I can be a conspiracy theorist.) But the very thought of it makes me think of the U.S.S.R. circa nineteen eighty something.

Times are hard.

And in many parts of the country it is also prom season. There are a lot of us who are scraping to provide decent food and shelter for our families. 80,000 people lost their jobs last month. You think any of those people had kids in high school? I’m thinking yes. Buying a new gown and all the frills to wear once? That is a luxury far too many folks just don’t have. I actually remember my senior prom like it was last week. It was a happy, exciting time that I will hold dear to my heart forever. Did my attending the prom have any bearing on my SAT scores, college entrance essays or world peace? Nah. But it was an opportunity for an inner city student to attend a formal event with her peers to celebrate graduation. My high school didn't have homecoming dances, junior proms and the like so our senior prom was a really big deal. A few years ago I donated some old bridesmaid dresses to an organization that gives them to teenage girls who can’t afford to buy a dress on their own. Well, I was happy to rediscover this org recently through Daily Candy. I have a burgundy David’s Bridal situation (shoes and all) to donate this year. I know I’m never gonna wear them again so why not? More importantly, it just might change someone’s life -- even if it's only for one night.

If you’re interested, visit Donatemydress.org.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Do The Hustle

Two super cute fashion events took place here in NYC recently that I’m quite happy to blog about. Unfortunately, I didn’t attend either of them. I was out of town for one and the other was a wrap before I arrived (I did make an attempt to go though!). What is most impressive about both of these events is that they were produced by two young women of color who have a traditional full-time gig but still manage to maintain their own budding side hustles. And they’re doing things that truly make them happy. Now who can hate on that?

On Wednesday, April 16th, blogger Claire Sulmers hosted a fashionable meet-n-greet at one of my favorite Soho stores, te casan. Claire holds down The Fashion Bomb blog and apparently brought out the grown and sexy last week for her shindig. te casan hosts these little functions periodically and they always seem to be a hit (past hostesses include Tia Williams and Michaela Angela Davis). If you haven’t been to the boutique yet, get there ASAP. The price points are on the high end but most of the footwear is exclusive to the store and is crafted with the finest materials. Plus, there’s a sick spiral staircase in the middle of the store and super-cute café/bar on the lower level.

Saturday, April 19th was the date of yet another fashionable soiree here in the Big Apple -- Harlem to be exact. Miss Queen To Be hosted her first (but I’m sure not her last) vintage trunk show. Hailing from the A-T-L, she scours her home state for second hand finds to sell at modest prices to other vintage mavens like herself. And get this, she was even serving hot tea to attendees as well! Yeah I'm a native New Yorker but my southern roots just love that kind of stuff… If you too missed Saturday’s trunk show don’t fret. She sells her finds year-round through a specially dedicated blog and might even take special requests if you tell her I sent ya.

Gotta run. Need to get my own hustle on!


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It's Unbeweavable!

I have no business blogging right now. I have a story to work on for the j-o, dishes to wash (nope, I don’t have a dishwasher) and a personal project to dedicate at least thirty more minutes to before I turn in. Oh yeah, it is already midnight and I have to work tomorrow. Am I crazy? Perhaps. But I honestly can’t tackle any of those things before I blog. People.Places.Things has become therapeutic to me in that way. And I’m thankful for the outlet.

Speaking of being thankful, I was able to receive a free hairdo at work a couple months back. Random I know but many things in my life are. (I’m learning to be thankful for that as well.) Anyhoo, my hair is in a serious transition stage: while I’ve been natural and without a relaxer for the last eight years, most of my ends are bone straight from over a year of pressing, blow-drying and flat ironing. Note that my roots are still kinky. I just can’t deal anymore so I’m starting over. Tomorrow actually if all goes as planned. Snip, snip. It is spring after all, the perfect time to cut my hair and try something (sorta) new.

So back to my makeover, I was skeptical. I was informed ahead of time that I was going to receive a weave. Yikes. I haven’t had a weave since college and back then my hair was relaxed. I was beyond nervous about a weave with my current hair situation. But Eric Bland of Brooklyn’s Time Salon didn’t flinch when he saw my hair. He matched the textures up perfectly and some of my aces couldn’t even tell. For the record, when my hair was healthy, my bob was quite similar the first couple of days after a salon visit. But, my fine strands would never appear as dense and thick as my new weave.

Besides Eric being crazy talented, he is a sweetheart and totally professional. He even recommended ways to reverse my tresses to their natural state. Apparently a reconstructor will aid in this process but I’m so ready for a new look that didn’t really bother. Besides, if I don’t like my new cut, I’ll just let Eric give me another weave!

I feel compelled to add that Eric has no idea I’m blogging about him. I’m plugging this dude solely because he’s talented and I like the way he did my hair. Also, he did not style my hair in the salon so I can't comment on Time itself.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sexy, Sassy Sprinter Shoes

My dear amiga and fellow blogger Big C found my How to Dress for Sprinter post informative (gracias!) but asked me to take it a step (no pun intended) further. Ms. C wants to know the kind of footwear she should turn to during this awkward time of year. Just this week in NYC we had a high of about 73 degrees on Thursday but today the high is only expected to reach the mid 50s… Therefore, I thought this was a good question and one that many others probably have as well. So, you all have C to thank for this post.

Since I don't believe in paying retail, I suggest heading to DSW or your other favorite discount store or sales rack to score these if you don't already own them but chances are you do.

Ballet Flats
Their popularity doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon which is good news for those of us who spend a lot of time on our feet. Available in a wide array of colors, textures and price points, the possibilities are virtually endless. They're versatile enough to wear on chilly April nights and well into beaming July afternoons.

Slingbacks and Peeptoes
Both are perfect for sprinter weather because they offer just a hint of skin without making the wearer look crazy or freeze her buns off. Remember, sprinter dressing (in most parts of the country) is all about balance - not extremes. The goal is to ease into summer and the warmer temps. These peeptoes from J. Crew are adorable and will probably be marked down very soon.

Pumps in Canvas or a Funky Color
We wear them all year long but in black or dark brown leather they typically say fall or winter. But in a fun, bright hue (or metallic) and/or lighter fabrication, they say Spring is here! Don't you dig how Selita Ebanks pulled them off in this pic?

Sidebar: This is about the time of year that I break out my Nike Air Rifts. I've been a fan for 7 years or so now. They are muy comfortable, versatile (I like rocking them with an unexpected dress or slacks), and fun!

Friday, April 11, 2008

What Kind of Bride (or Groom) Will You Be?

One of my co-workers got engaged this week so the talk in our office yesterday was all things weddings. This copuled with the surprise (was it really a surprise though?) jumping of the broom by Bouncy and Mr. Carter led me to write this before my scheduled post on sprinter shoes but it is coming tomorrow - I got you C.

It's officially been a week but B and Jay still got everybody fired up something major don't they? So funny to witness huge media outlets and plain-jane housewives speculate on the details of the power couple’s nuptials. I’ve perused a couple of blog posts on the subject myself and read the comments of most as I always do. Honestly the comments are often more interesting than the actual post. Anyway, some people appear to be straight up ANGRY that they can’t view pics of the dress, bridal party (if there was one), the cake and heck even the invites. Now I’m smart enough to know that a lot of this has to do with how much of a celebrity driven culture we’ve become. But I also think that weddings in general are just a show for too many of us. From those making 25k a year to those making 250k or more a year. What is this about? I recently received a wedding invitation in the mail for someone I barely know. Seriously, if the bride-to-be walked up to me right now and asked me for the time, I wouldn’t know who she was. Can’t understand why I’m invited to her shindig....

It’s not solely about wanting more gifts either. Folks just get caught up in a web of pomp and circumstance. And you know what, I think that is fine. But there has got to be a way to do that and remain true to who you and your beloved are. I believe it is quite possible to have a fun, memorable ceremony and that still exudes class (and is within your means budget wise). The wedding you fantacised about at 12 may not fit your lifestyle, bank account or true desires at 34. Personally, I commend Bigga for not wanting everyone and their step-brother involved in such a personal event. Word on the street is they’re going to sell the exclusive pics at a later date and donate the profits to charity. How cool would that be?

Although I'm still figuring things out with Mr. TK and don't have nary a proposal in sight, (and I'm good with that) I'm hoping for a very small, intimate outdoor wedding - I'm talking 10/15 (no bridal party) people max and a big 'ole, sweat rolling down my face from dancing so hard reception filled with all the people that my beau and I love.

What does your ideal wedding look like?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Back on the (Green) Ranch

Everyone is talking about going green these days. I’m getting in on the fun a little bit myself - recycling more at work and at home and purchasing the occasional eco-friendly cleaning or beauty product. But, I believe in moderation. Radical anything is not my style. So it is sorta a big deal that I was muy impressed with my stay at Rancho la Puerta.

I celebrated my birthday in 2007 at this under-the-radar fitness ranch and spa located in Tecate, Mexico (about an hour from San Diego). Now I’ll admit that I had a bit of a "hook-up". Rancho la Puerta is honestly not the type of spot I would have sought out on my own. But boy am I glad I went. First of all, this 3000 acre resort was doing green long before it was the "in" thing to do. Opened in 1940, only organic food (no meat whatsoever) is served at the Ranch and almost all of the fruits and veggies are grown on the premises. There isn’t a Mickey D’s or even a vending machine anywhere in sight. There are no televisions or radios in the guest cabins. A computer lab, with Internet access is however - as well as - an adjoining library. No smoking or drinking is permitted on the premises. But we were served wine on the last night of our stay. Guests and staff walk (or jog/run) everywhere - there are no vehicles used on site. And I am convinced I heard coyotes during my first night although my roomie and good friend Tress thought I was trippin’.

Sound boring? Honestly, I was kinda afraid it might be. But this trip was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up so I went. Well, I had a ball. Seriously, I was so out of my comfort zone but it felt so good. Some of the food was on the bland side for my taste at first but I was cool by day 3. I never liked oatmeal but after eating it at the Ranch with brown sugar I’m a changed woman. The classes offered at the Ranch are quite vast making it virtually impossible to get bored. I discovered Nia, sweated out my ‘do in an African dance class, took a morning mountain hike to the Ranch farm and even braved a strip tease class. Confession: the suburban, middle-aged, soccer moms were not easy to keep up with in that strip tease classI also enjoyed a therapeutic drawing class and sketched some of the beautiful trees surrounding my cabin. I actually like to draw but rarely make the time to do it at home. Oh, and the spa treatments were superb. I was rubbed, wrapped, and buffed to perfection every day of my week-long stay. My fave treatment was the energy balancing massage. Last but certainly not least, I made lifelong friends at the Ranch. Being there without the vices of everyday life (my Treo was off for most of the trip) allowed me to bond with some pretty cool folks.

Just swingin' it at the Ranch.

So my first, and hopefully not my last, green vacation was a blast. There was that night we managed to break out and explore Tejuana. Hey, I said I believe in moderation!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

How To Dress For Sprinter

In the midst of my spring cleaning, I ran across an article I wrote for my community newspaper almost four years ago to the date on dressing for sprinter. Yes, sprinter. It's that awkward period of the year nestled between late March and early May. Technically it is spring but the temps fluctuate so frequently that it often still feels like winter leaving the most pulled together folks stumped on what to wear. Well, I’m happy that this piece (which I’ve edited down in some places and added in others) still works today. Follow the five simple steps below to get you through this year’s sprinter stress-free!

Layering is probably the most important element to sprinter dressing. It allows you to remove and add pieces as needed throughout the day. The key anchor item for layering during sprinter is the trench coat (comes in handy during the fall too). A lightweight leather jacket is ideal as well. Since the trench is a solid investment piece, it’s worth a splurge. Whatever a splurge is to you.

Lightweight cardigans and jersey tops are so necessary during this time of year. We rely on them year round, however they will prove specifically helpful in spring because of their breathable qualities. Plus they are excellent for layering under that trench coat.

Most of us (especially in NYC) have been donning head to toe black since November. I happen to own a lemon yellow winter coat and happily wear bright colors 12 months of the year. Regardless of where you stand on this, adding just a punch more of rich sorbet hues like kelly green, fuchsia or orange can make any dreary, rainy April day seem sunny.

Remember that spring temperatures are notoriously inconsistent. Fifty degree and seventy degree highs within the same week are not at all unlikely. (At least not in the northeast.) Ease out of those chunky turtlenecks into skimpy tanks gradually. Save the almost bare looks for July!

Although dressing during the weeks between March and May can seem like a mini-obstacle course, it can and should be done without purchasing a closet full of new clothes. Don’t be hoodwinked by all the pretty window displays just because you have cabin fever. Mix and match items from your existing summer and winter wardrobes to achieve the right looks for you.

I have my eye on this green number from J.Crew. It is classic enough for me to wear for many sprinters to come and I’m really digging the color. But truthfully, I'm still not convinced this is my "prefect" trench.