Rachael Ray in Training?

Ever since I moved to New York I’ve realized how much I enjoy cooking. I find chopping fresh vegetables and prepping ingredients to actually be quite soothing. Preparing dinner has become the perfect antidote to having a hard and long day at the office.

Now just because I love to work my magic in the kitchen doesn’t mean that I’m signing up to be a contestant on the next season of Top Chef because I am far from that. In fact, I can’t even get my husband to eat any of my dishes, but that’s another story. So in an attempt to perfect my culinary craft, I’ve started collecting cookbooks.

Every BG should have at least 2 tried and true cookbooks that you can refer to when you want to try whipping up a new dish or find great menu ideas for your next dinner party. You know we BGs love to entertain! So get off the couch or in this case out of your chair and take a visit to your local Borders or Barnes & Noble and start browsing the cookbook section.

Here’s one of my favorites. It’s packed with dozens of tasty and easy recipes.

Available at www.amazon.com for $19.77

Bag Habit

Like most BGs, I’m a handbag fanatic! Although I can’t afford to splurge on some of the designer brands like Fendi, Alberta Ferretti or Balenciaga, I still find classic styles that complement my wardrobe as well as my bank account. I know I told you about the “it” colors of the season last month – metallics, but the style of the moment is the quilted pattern. Designers are now mimicking the classic Chanel quilted look with their handbags. From a small and shady back room on Canal Street to high-end boutiques in Italy, the quilted bags are all the rage. I’ve seen this refined and chic style in a variety of colors and shapes. I haven’t purchased one just yet, but when I do, it’s going to be hot!

Check out some of my favorites:

Marc Jacobs Quilted Alyona: $1,375.00 available at www.eluxury.com

Helen Welsh Quilt Embossed Envelope Clutch: $198.00 available at www.nordstrom.com

Francesco Biasia “Diva Dream Six” Nylon Satchel: $625.00 available at www.nordstrom.com

Brahmin “Roxanne – Essex” Quilted Shoulder Bag: $250 available at www.nordstrom.com

I don’t like this one as much as the others, but it’s the most affordable! Nine West Quilted Satchel: $59.00 available at www.ninewest.com

Wink!

Every BG has a favorite feature that they like to play up with makeup. Mine are my eyes, hands-down. I agree with the saying that the eyes are the windows into your soul. That’s why I make sure that my eyes reflect my soul, which I feel is beautiful. I beautify my eyes on a daily basis by lining them with the blackest of black eyeliner, followed by 2 coats of black mascara. I have tried tons of eyeliners and mascaras. I’ve used everything from designer products to the ones that you can find at your local drugstore. Throughout all of the different brands that I’ve applied, I stick to my tried and true favorites – Revlon Colorstay eyeliner in black and everybody’s favorite mascara – Maybelline Great Lash in blackest black. These two inexpensive products have never let me down. The properly applied combination of the two make my eyes pop without looking like Tammy Faye Bakker. I have oily skin so before I tried Revlon’s Colorstay eyeliner, my lids would look like I had used soot for eye shadow. Now my liner never smears, which is a hard feat for an oily girl like me. Not only does the mascara create to-die-for lashes, it also comes in a pretty pink and green tube. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked if my eyelashes were false because of the unbelievable length that this mascara creates. If you want your eyes to look picture-perfect and camera-ready at all times, definitely give these two a try!

Available at www.drugstore.com or your local drugstore.

Available at www.drugstore.com or your local drugstore.

Why Did I Get Married?

Why Did I Get Married? How many of us married folks have asked ourselves this loaded question? Truthfully speaking, I have never asked myself this question until I heard about Tyler Perry’s new movie, with the same title. So, this weekend I dragged my husband to see the movie because I’ve been dying to go to the movies since it’s the only place where I can stuff my face with nachos and eat obscene amounts of candy without feeling guilty. Of course, my hubby didn’t want to go because he knew it was a Tyler Perry movie and let’s just say, he isn’t a Madea fan. I reassured him that the hilarious and crazy old lady wouldn’t be making an appearance in this film so he reluctantly obliged and took me to see it on Friday. I had never seen any of Perry’s other movies, so I didn’t really know what to expect. To my pleasant surprise, it exceeded my expectations and was fantastic! Shockingly, my husband agreed that it was actually a very well written movie with a great message. All of the characters were relatable and flawed just like we are in our own lives. It really helped put marriage in perspective from different viewpoints. I think that I might have to hit the video store soon and pick up some of Perry’s other films and check them out because Why Did I Get Married was definitely a surprising treat. If you weren’t one of the millions who saw it this weekend, I highly recommend that you see it soon. In the meantime, check out some tips for having a healthy marriage or relationship.

Trust – If you don’t trust one another, your entire relationship will falter. Always tell the truth no matter how much you fear the repercussions. Like the Bible says, “The Truth Shall Set You Free!”

Communication – If you can’t talk openly to one another and express your feelings to your partner, then there’s definitely a problem. Never be afraid to tell him how you’re really feeling. Otherwise, don’t blame him when he doesn’t know why you’re upset.

Respect – If you don’t respect your spouse or boyfriend, your relationship is bound to fail. Remember, respect is a two-way street, if you don’t give it how can you expect him to?

Spirituality – If you’re not grounded spiritually with your partner, it can’t work. Always remember to put God first and the rest will fall in place.

Opt for Art

I recently had the pleasure of visiting ColaLex, a new art gallery located in the heart of Harlem. Actually, a friend of mine is the owner. I always knew he was talented, but when I saw some of his magnificent pieces on display at his gallery, I was totally blown away. His rich and vibrant paintings beautifully exemplify spirituality, new beginnings and freedom.

Not only does he exhibit his own paintings at ColaLex, but he also displays the artwork of other African-American, Caribbean and Hispanic artists. If you’re ever in the New York City area, you should definitely stop by ColaLex, (1695 Lexington between 106th and 107th) and check out some exceptional paintings, sculptures and drawings. In fact, they’re hosting a reception to announce the launch of Brazilian artist, Ernani Silva’s exhibit at the gallery on October 27, 2007.

Even if you’re not in NYC, there are plenty of African-African galleries throughout the country that might be closer to your city. I strongly believe that every BG should invest in a one-of-a-kind painting that will appreciate with time. So, instead of dropping hundreds of dollars on a handbag or a pair of shoes, put that money toward something that won’t be a fashion faux pas next year; invest in great artwork because it never goes out-of-style!

Here are some of the paintings and sculptures currently on display at ColaLex:

For more information, please visit: www.colalexgallery.com

Must-See TV?

Now that the new fall TV lineup is in full swing, I’m left feeling rather disappointed. Where are the brown faces on mainstream and even primetime cable networks? Of course our 4 brown-skinned Girlfriends are back, along with the Game and Everybody Hates Chris, but that’s only one network – The CW. Have the other networks completely forgotten that we too enjoy watching people who look like us portrayed on TV? I don’t know about you, but shows like, I Love New York 2 and all the shows on BET don’t exactly qualify.

Don’t get me wrong, I love reality television, but I long for the days of good scripted television shows of substance like NBC’s A Different World and Showtime’s Soul Food. Those were well-written and well-acted shows that many of us related to on a weekly basis. I loved both shows so much that I find myself watching all of the reruns as if I have never seen them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the episode of Whitley and Dwayne Wayne’s wedding. I can never get enough of seeing Dwayne walk down that aisle and profess his love to Whitley! Whenever I watch it, I’m immediately transported back to 1993 when I was 13-years old glued to my tube. Or that time on Soul Food when Bird kicked that oh-so-fine Lem out their house because she caught him lying about having a job? That stuff was definitely MUST SEE TV! I just hope that the next generation of BGs can reminisce about good TV and not be referring to Flavor of Love.

Luckily, both series are available on DVD. However, only the first season of A Different World and only the first 2 seasons of Soul Food are available.

Season 1: Available at www.amazon.com for: $14.99

Season 1: Available at www.amazon.com for: $31.49

Season 2: Available at www.amazon.com for: $32.99

Hot Mommas!

Even though I have yet to experience the wonderful world of pregnancy, I hope to one day join the motherhood team. Oftentimes I find myself daydreaming about wearing cute and flowing dresses that perfectly drape my baby bump while exuding a radiant glow.

Gone are the days of frumpy and undesirable maternity wear. Thanks to the fashion gods, it’s the absolute best time to be pregnant! No longer do pregnant women have to sacrifice their sense of style for 9 months. Expectant mothers can now maintain their chic-ness by donning adorable baby doll and empire waist dresses and tunics. I just hope theses fashionable trends are still in style when I finally give in to my husband’s constant plead and take the preggers plunge.

This entry is dedicated to my beautiful cousin who’s expecting her first baby in the spring.