The Write Stuff

Not many times does one get the opportunity to be in the company of living legends. I was lucky enough to have had that experience last night. I attended a reception hosted by the multi-talented and eloquent Tavis Smiley announcing the president and authors for his new publishing company, SmileyBooks.

The event took place at a lovely and chic penthouse loft on 5th Avenue. The atmosphere was laid-back, yet professional. While networking and mingling, I was honored to have met the legendary actress/activist, Ruby Dee. She is definitely one of our precious treasures. I’m not easily impressed when it comes to meeting celebrities, but I have always admired and respected her as an actress and a trailblazer for us BGs. The room was filled with many prominent and prolific African-American authors and legends such as, Iyanla Vanzant, Cornel West, Terry McMillan, Walter Mosley, Veronica Webb, Judith Jamison and a host of others. It was a night that I will forever remember because I’ve wanted to become a writer since I was in elementary school; being surrounded by such talent was truly inspiring. So in honor of the African-American literary world, here are a few books from some of the aforementioned writers.

“This Year Year You Write Your Novel” by Walter Mosley – I loved this book! It really inspired me to stop procrastinating and start writing my novel. It’s packed with great advice and strategies on how to stay focused.

“The Covenant in Action” by Tavis Smiley – This book was included in the swag bag at the event yesterday. I’m definitely going to check it out.

“Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism” by Cornel West – He is quirky, intense and a genius, it’s a shame that I haven’t read one of his books. I have seen him on TV quite a few times though!

Visit www.amazon.com for more information about each of the books.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, which means every woman is reminded by the entire country the importance of getting our annual mammogram and breast exams. Breast cancer affects all of us. I’m sure that each of us knows at least one person who has suffered from this deadly disease. I’ve especially been devastated by breast cancer – I lost two of my beloved aunts to the disease.

African-American women have a greater chance of dying from breast cancer, as opposed to our white counterparts. This is mainly due to the fact that we don’t seek treatment in enough time to effectively eradicate the cancer.

Fellow BGs, please set up an appointment to get your mammogram today. I know many of us tend to think that it only affects women in their 40s and older, but statistics show that the rate of African-American women in their 20s being diagnosed with breast cancer is increasing. Remember, early detection is the key to living a long and healthy life.

Here are a few tips on how to prevent breast cancer:

1. Stop smoking – This can lower your risk of lung cancer and breast cancer, plus it’s just stupid to smoke period!

2. Get more exercise – I know a lot of us don’t want to work out for various reasons, me included; but we have to realize that the excuses that we make can jeopardize our health.

3. Eat your fruits and veggies – I love fruits and veggies, but I know that I don’t eat as much as should be consuming. Get creative with your diet and find ways to incorporate veggies and fruits into meals. For example, for a tasty and healthy snack, slice some red peppers and eat them when you have a craving for something crisp and crunchy.

4. Relax – Reducing your stress level can improve your overall health. You can help do this by surrounding yourself with positive people and not letting senseless things get to you.

Celebrity Eats

He may have brought sexy back, but Justin Timberlake definitely didn’t bring good-tasting food to his new restaurant, Southern Hospitality. On Friday, my husband and I decided to check out the pop/R&B singer’s southern cuisine eatery on the Upper East Side. We had both heard and read stellar reviews about the restaurant and wanted to see if all the hype was warranted. I wanted to call ahead to make reservations because some of the reviews said that one of the downsides was the long waits and in some cases, being turned away due to the throngs of foodies and celebrity stalkers trying to get into the restaurant.

After finding the number on the web, I called and was told by a less than courteous hostess that they were booked for the evening and were no longer taking reservations. I quickly responded, “Are you booked for 3pm?” She said, “No, because we don’t open until 4pm.” Becoming somewhat annoyed I said, “So, are you booked for 4pm?” She went on to say, “No, because no one’s here that early. If you want to come at that time making a reservation would be unnecessary because the place is virtually empty.” I told her, “If you could please take my name down just in case, I would appreciate it.” She obliged and hung up.

We arrived right at 4pm and she was right; the place was empty. However, that didn’t stop the hostess at the front of the house from asking if I had made reservations. I politely told her that I did and she looked on a piece of paper and said, “Ok, wait at the bar while we get your table ready.” Perplexed, I looked at all of the empty wooden booths and tables which already had silverware and wondered why she had asked us to wait. Determined to have a great time, I tried to overlook her reasoning. As we sat on the bar stools gazing at one of the many flat screen TVs and the photos of soul legends like Aretha Franklin adorning the walls, people started to stroll in as if someone had yelled, “Come on in, we’re open now!”

As I watched a couple who came in after us being seated, I immediately approached the hostess. I guess she could sense my frustration so she quickly grabbed our menus and proceeded to seat us. After surveying the menu while being bombarded by dozens of fruit flies swarming around our wooden and quite uncomfortable booth, our waitress came and took our order. For our appetizer we ordered the southern fried chicken fingers (my hubby is a self-proclaimed chicken finger connoisseur!) Surprisingly, our food came out in a timely manner; too bad it was bland and less than appetizing. Hoping for a miracle at this point, for our main course I ordered the fried catfish and my husband ordered the baby back ribs. I must admit, my food was ok, not great and not catastrophic, just ok. On the other hand, my husband’s ribs were TERRIBLE! They were tough, dry and basically meatless. We agreed that the best thing we had eaten were the hand-cut fries. The pink lemonade was sweet and refreshing, but it just couldn’t make up for the poor-tasting food.

So, to all my fellow BGs, if you’re planning to make a visit to JT’s new hot spot, remember, he might be a great singer, dancer and maybe even actor, but southern cuisine is definitely not his thing. If you don’t take my word for it, check it out yourself and let me know what you think.

Here are some other celebrity-owned eateries throughout the US:

Madre’s Restaurant in Pasadena, California owned by the multi-talented Jennifer Lopez.
www.madresrestaurant.com

The Dolce Group (Dolce Enoteca e Ristorante, Bella, Geisha House) in L.A owned by the hilarious actor, Ashton Kutcher.
www.dolcegroup.com

The Sugar Bar in New York, NY owned by legendary soul-crooners, Ashford & Simpson.
www.sugarbarnyc.com

Café Dupri in Atlanta, Georgia owned by hip-hop artist and producer, Jermaine Dupri.
Phone: (404) 846-2773

Healthy Snacking

You know that time at work between breakfast and lunch when you just want something to munch on? Instead of walking to the nearest vending machine in your office for one of the dreaded C’s – cookies, cakes, chips or candy, grab a handful of raw almonds. Eating nuts, especially almonds will stave off hunger in between meals. On a weekly basis, I buy a container of raw almonds to eat at my desk for $2 from the nut and fruit stand near my job. These stands are on almost every corner in midtown Manhattan. Even though I have no idea where these street vendors get their produce or nuts, I like the price and the taste so I have no complaints!

If you don’t have a nut and fruit stand vendor near your work, pick some up from your local Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Be sure to get the natural or roasted kind because they are packed with more nutrients than the salted ones. In fact, the sweet and tasty treat is the most nutrient-dense tree-nut. According to the USDA, one ounce of almonds (about 23) contains 160 calories and only 1 gram of saturated fat. The same handful is also an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium, a good source of protein and potassium and has no cholesterol.

So the next time you want to binge on junk, consider almonds because they taste great and are healthy.

Blue Diamond is one of the most popular brands for almonds. I get them from Duane Reade drugstores, but I’m sure they’re across the country in stores like Walgreen’s, CVS and supermarkets in your city. They cost about $3 for a can.

I found this cute almond gift bag online. It would make a great gift for someone who enjoys snacking or better yet, for yourself!

Available for: $7.95

www.theoriginalnutfactory.com

Give Your Thumbs a Rest!

Remember doodling love letters on plain, “unpretty” (I know it’s not a word, but TLC made it one 🙂 white notebook paper to the cute boy in your 6th grade class? I remember my first elementary school crush – Corey Brown. He was short, (ok, we were all short since we were only in the 4th grade!) with a caramel complexion with piercing dark brown eyes. I thought he was so cute and nobody could tell me that we weren’t going to get married and have 2 children – twins to be exact! I would spend my weekends writing love notes to him, but I could never muster enough courage to give them to him on Monday. Ok, I can go on and on about CB (my nickname for him) but you get the point.

Just because we’re big girls now doesn’t mean that we have to stop writing lovely letters to those special beaus in our lives. In this instant messaging, texting, and emailing technological world, grabbing a pen and actually writing our thoughts can be extremely refreshing. Stationery can be used not only to send sappy love letters to your significant other, but they can also brighten the day of your great aunt down south who wishes you’d call her more. Also, many human resource managers will tell you that they’re more inclined to hire someone whose skills parallel another prospective candidate’s simply because they sent a personalized note thanking them for the interview.

I believe that writing notes is an art form. Every BG should have her own personal collection of note cards, envelopes and paper for a variety of reasons, who knows…sending that pretty-in-pink thank you note, just might land you your dream job!

Take a look at some of the cute and feminine sets that I’ve come across.

Available at www.thestationerystudio.com for: $40 (a box of 25)

Available at www.thestationerystudio.com for: $66 ( a box of 25)

Available at www.papyrusonline.com for: $15.95 (box of 25)

Available at www.papyrusonline.com for: $24.95 (box of 40)

Available at www.papyrusonline.com for: $24.95 (box of 40)

My Top Fall Fashion Must-Haves

My Top Fall Fashion Must-Haves

Fall is definitely my second favorite season, with summer being my first choice. Walking down the street and having the cool breeze hit my perfectly moisturized skin while admiring the brightly-colored leaves change shades just puts a pep in my step and a smile to my face. I must admit, Mother Nature isn’t the only reason why I love fall; it’s fashion! To me, the clothes suitable for fall weather are the absolute most fashionable of all the other seasons. You can throw on a cute cropped coat and ankle boots and look super polished and chic. You can also dress up some of your much loved summer items by layering and adding a pair of tights to the mix to make it fall-friendly.

Check out my picks for the must-haves of the season!

Skinny-jeans aren’t out just yet, but why not change it up a bit and rock some super wide-legged jeans? The ones like our fellow brown girl Eva Mendes are wearing are incredibly flattering and forgiving.

Ok, I’m totally obsessed with cropped coats, jackets, etc. If I see a cute coat or jacket, I must buy it. Plus, in the fall your coat is the first thing that people see, so it’s okay to splurge on one great-looking coat for the season. This Soia & Kyo flare and plaid coat is to do for!

Available at Nordstrom’s: $325

www.nordstroms.com

Every BG needs to own several pairs of tights. They can immediately update summer baby doll dresses and minis to look weather-appropriate. Whether you like ribbed, opaque or designs, you’re sure to find the right kind of tights for you!

Available at department stores nationwide.

Since most fall fashions are on the dark side, pairing a fun and punchy-colored scarf in a yellow or baby blue hue adds panache to your ensemble. Look at how it instantly adds flair to the timeless beauty, Iman’s outfit. I have one that reminds me of sunshine and makes me happy; plus, I get tons of compliments whenever I wear it. The bonus is that I only paid $10 for it.

Ask any BG or fashionista what’s the color of the it bags this season and she’ll tell you, “METALLIC!” Gold and silver bags are all the rage for fall. It doesn’t matter if you’re carrying a clutch, tote, satchel or hobo, the metallic will definitely dazzle. This one is the Francesco Biasa “Sharla” Convertible Tote and it is fabulous!

Available at Nordstrom’s: $490.00

www.nordstroms.com

What girl doesn’t love shoes and boots? You can’t be a BGG and not have an intense fervor for footwear! Ankle boots are the style of boots to get right now. I’ve never particularly liked this style before, but for some reason I am now a fan.

Available at Nine West: $79

www.ninewest.com

Monday is Beauty Day!

We all have our own personal red-carpet moments in life, that’s why LORAC has released its new limited edition showstopper palette. I was so excited when I came across this super cute makeup kit. The colors are very complementary to brown-skinned girls. The best part is that it comes in a sleek, glittering beaded box along with a durable black drawstring bag. You’ll be sure to grab everyone’s attention with shimmering eye shadows in pale beige, peach tan, golden brown and a smoldering smoky black. The golden pink rose-colored blush alone is worth the purchase; it makes my skin look dewy with a nice natural-looking glow!

Available at Sephora: $35
www.sephora.com

BGG girls are always on the go; why not carry your delicious beauty finds in these must-have metallic maroon cosmetic bags? These fabulous bags can hold all of your prized beauty products – from makeup brushes to your plethora of lip-glosses. These roomy bags are sure to keep your pretty products in tact.

Available at Sephora: $14-$38
www.sephora.com

When my mother-in-law came to visit this summer, she asked me to take her to Carol’s Daughter because she had heard so much about the products in magazines and on television. I obliged and took her to her flagship store in Ft. Greene (a neighborhood in Brooklyn). She loved the intoxicating scents of the products and ended up leaving with several items. In the midst of her frantic shopping excursion she bought me a few things, including the popular and yummy Mango Body Butter. If you haven’t tried this fabulous shea and cocoa butter-based delight, do so as soon as possible; your skin will thank you for it.

Available at Carol’s Daughter: $25
www.carolsdaughter.com