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Black Music Month 2019

I love the month of June. It’s not only the start of summer, but it’s a celebration of Blackness. This tends to be mostly due to the honoring of Juneteenth. There are so many events now hosted in cities across the nation, for Juneteenth. A holiday that was mostly ignored up until 10 years ago.  There are parades, festivals, BBQs…and a Becky better not call 911 on not a one 😉 June is also a fun month because it’s a time to pay homage to the musical contributions Black folks have made in this country.

I think this year, Black Music Month, is even more exciting with the recent success of Lil Nas X. A rapper who throwed everyone off with his country hit, Old Town Road.  When Billboard and people tried to dismiss the song as not country enough, and that Lil Nas X had no place in country music, folks started dropping facts left and right about the fact that country music was created by Black folks. Lil Nas X has a right to be in the space more than any white country singer living or dead (yeah, I said it!)

Besides the triumph of Lil Nas X, June highlights the return of three OG r&b goddesses in the game: Ciara, Kelly Rowland, and Mary J Blige. The singers combined total over 60 years in the music industry(!) All three ladies have dropped new songs within the last month or so. And they show, they still got it going on.

Ciara: At 33, CiCi, is the youngest of the trio. CiCi is also my girl crush. She exudes a natural sexiness. It must be that Scorpio vibe. I’ve liked Ciara since Goodies. She picked up where sadly, Aaliyah, was not able to complete. Ciara brought the eclectic dance movies, fun uptempo songs, and sleek style. Since then, Ciara’s albums have been hit or miss to me, mostly miss. I did think her album Ciara was pretty good. It had the cut “Body Party,” once again showing the sensual side of Ciara. But the album got bogged down in the Future nonsense. Y’all already know that gossip 🙂 Ciara didn’t really promote the album and it was quickly forgotten.

I think CiCi has bounced back with another solid album. Beauty Marks marks Ciara’s point in her career of transitioning into adulthood (married w/two children), self- reflection, and taking it to the next level.  Although, ironically, her song “Level Up” is the song I liked least on the album. It worked my nerves, but I got the gist of what she was going for. My favorite tune (and the best on the whole album imo) is “Greatest Love.” I think because, yet again, CiCi knows how to do sexy. That is her strength.

I definitely recommend Beauty Marks to bump in your ride this sizzling summer.

Kelly Rowland: The underrated star of Destiny’s Child (yeah, I said it!), released an EP of three songs. Yep, three songs. But they all jam. The Kelly Rowland Edition features “Don’t You Worry,” “Diamonds, and “See Me.” “Don’t You Worry” is the highlight of the EP. If Rowland doesn’t come out with a video for this song. I don’t know what to say.  It’s a perfect summer tune. These songs are just a teaser for a full album that will be released later this year. I can’t wait to see what Rowland brings this time around. If these songs are any indication, it’s going to be a hot album!

Mary J Blige:  And last, but never least, the Queen of all things…Mary Jane Blige. Yes, I am a MJB groupie (that’s why she has the biggest picture 😉 Mary has had it on lock for over THIRTY YEARS. I’ll never forget Mary’s debut on Video Soul (Gen-Xers know what I’m talking about), with “You Remind Me.” I liked her right away.  No, Mary isn’t the greatest technical singer, but she has that thang that makes you want to hear more.  She connects to her music and knows her audience. She takes neither for granted, for the most part. Now Mary is back with her umpteenth hit with a little help from Nas (I can take him or leave him).  She’s gearing up for her 16th studio album. I know she is going to bring the heat. She’s Mary J Blige. Duh!

“All those sad songs don’t break me/just gave me a record year/Ooh, ooh. Ooh, ooh”

 

 

 

It’s June…

and yes, I know I’m late as hell.  But, things get hectic sometimes.  I’ve been busy with work and other projects. I also attended two amazing conferences. I shared before about getting a scholarship to go to the AWP Conference & BookfairThe AWP is a literary event featuring well known and up and coming writers. As someone who deems herself a writer, it was nice being in a space with other nerdy folks. Hey, most writers tend to be quirky people, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The highlights of the conference: Come Celebrate With Me” : Women of Color Writers and Literary Lineage, and Safe Writing Spaces: Building Community Through Literary Advocacy workshops. The Come Celebrate With Me… women of color authors offered great advice for new writers. In particular, to “be vulnerable, be honest, and take risks.” The Safe Writing Space…session featured Renee Watson. Watson is originally from my city, and has written a best selling young adult novel. She is also the founder of I, Too Arts Collective.  The non-profit encourages people from marginalized communities to write/be creative.

Watson and other great writers, talked about the importance of not just creating a safe space, but a “brave space” for writers of color. The need to make sure participants feel seen/heard, providing community norms/agreements, and empowerment. I also attended the wonderful workshop “We Are Our Own Gods: Writing for Black Women’s Liberation.” The speakers consisted of writers from the Black Ladies Brunch Collective. I talk about their book in this video.

The members from the collective uplifted Black women writers. They stated that “vulnerability can be a path to liberation,” don’t be afraid of the early draft,” and “think about who is shaming us?” The last comment speaks to how mainstream society seeks to oppress Black women by making us feel bad about ourselves, while at the same time exploiting/commodifying our bodies/beauty/talents. The members also noted that Black women should be open to writing about a variety of things, exploring beyond the binary/whiteness. I learned a lot and really enjoyed the conversation.

Continue reading “It’s June…”

Black Girl Stuff

Midnight & Indigo is an amazing new literary magazine for Black women writers.

“Launched in December 2018, midnight & indigo is a literary magazine dedicated to short stories and narrative essays by Black female writers. We exist to make a meaningful contribution to the Black literary tradition, and provide a space amplify and elevate our stories and voices in media.” https://www.midnightandindigo.com/

The website showcases excellent stories submitted by readers. If you are a Black woman who likes to write, I encourage you to submit too! There is also a shop featuring cute tote bags for the Black woman on the go. I recently purchased the “love black female writers” bag. It was relatively inexpensive and shipped quickly. The bag has been a wonderful way to big up Black women writers. I definitely recommend it!

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The black female writers tote bag is so spacious it holds my personal items as well as my toddler’s Daniel bear and a ton of his hot wheel cars. A thumbs up from me! 😉

Self-Care is Self-Love

I try to engage in self-care. It’s difficult to do on a consistent basis as a busy mama. And it’s an internal struggle using extra funds to splurge on myself, and not on buying the kid a new pair of shoes.  Plus, self-care spaces (spas, yoga, etc.) have been heavily promoted and imagined as a pleasure for white women. When I celebrated my birthday last fall, I decided to treat myself to a soak and sauna, with a massage sandwiched in between. I found it interesting that the mostly white staff seemed surprised and even a bit hostile I was there.  I guess a Black woman wanting to focus on self/healing was unthinkable to them.

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This past weekend, I attended a fundraising event for an organization that is dedicated to encouraging Black/communities of color to practice self-care. I had a wonderful time and ate some amazing Thai curry chicken soup! I enjoyed all the guest speakers, especially Day Bibb. Bibb shared about being a survivor of domestic violence. She noted when she was seeking services to reclaim her life/sense of self after leaving her abuser, white medical practitioners were eagerly willingly to give her medication to “deal with the trauma.” However, she realized she was never provided self-care resources. She made the profound point that Black women aren’t seen as worthy of self-care spaces. We are just expected to “mule” and take the lumps and bumps of life, without recourse.  It reminded me of my experience at the spa. The look on their faces that read they didn’t think I belonged.

The truth is, self-care is more of a necessity for Black women than it is for white women. Let’s be honest. What do white women go through? They live in a society that puts them on pedestal, coddles their white woman tears, and pretty much let them get away with nonsense (all those 911 ones on Black people for eating while Black, swimming while Black, napping while Black, etc., were majority placed by white women).

Self-care spaces need to be more open and welcoming to Black women because we need/deserve it the most. This country was built off the bodies/labor of Black women, and we continue to be exploited/marginalized. Bibb stated Black children also need time for reflection/to breath, as they are even ruthlessly attacked under the system of white supremacy/oppression.

Self-care is self-love and I’m working hard this year to treat myself more and allow myself space to just be.

 

It’s March…

and I know I’ve been MIA. I’ve been busy with work, parenting, and just living life. I hope the new year has been treating everyone good so far. It’s hard to believe it’s March and spring will soon be upon us. Thank goodness. I am done with winter 🙂 I’m going to make a better effort to keep up the blog. However, I’ve been indulging more in my video editing skills with my YouTube channel. If you want to keep up with my latest shenanigans..check me out on that platform. I have included my most recent video below.

The biggest thing I’m looking forward to this month, is attending the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference. It’s being hosted for the first time in my city. The AWP is considered one of the largest literary conferences in the country. I received a scholarship to attend, and I’m sooo excited! The thought of all those books, writers, and workshops in one spot makes me shiver. Yes, I’m a book nerd at heart. I plan to share about my experience…so keep an eye out!

Have a great rest of the week 😉

 

 

Seasonal Bites #2

I love a scrumptious muffin. Especially, with a nice cup of coffee. Muffins make amazing treats on a laidback Sunday afternoon or a hectic work morning. So, when I saw this recipe for cinnamon sugar pumpkin muffins, I had to share the wealth. Can you imagine taking a bite of these delicious muffins after opening gifts and laughing with friends and family? This is an intricate recipe, but well worth it! It’s muffin time 😉

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Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup Almond Breeze Almondmilk original
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Line two muffin pans with muffin liners (24 total) and set aside.
  • Combine flour, salt, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and baking soda in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin, coconut oil, almondmilk, and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine.
  • Slowly fold dry mixture into wet mixture just until combined.
  • Use an ice cream scoop to fill muffin liners about three-quarters full.

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

  • Combine sugar, pecans, and cinnamon in small bowl. Stir.
  • Sprinkle a teaspoon or more of the topping on top of the muffins.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in muffin pan before removing to a cooling rack.

Recipe from: Mom on TimeOut

 

 

Seasonal Bites #1

It’s hard to believe we are just a week away from Christmas! 2018 has been the most bizarre year ever. While I am looking forward to 2019, I’m kind of scared to see what the new year will bring. Until then, I guess I will console myself with delicious treats. As y’all know, I love sharing recipes. I came across this mouth-watering dessert. I normally don’t care for pecan anything, but I will make an exception for this! A great dish for the season. Grab a mixing bowel and enjoy 🙂

Caramel Apple Pecan Pie

Ingredients
For the Apple Filling
  • 9 apples, peel, core and slice (Granny Smith)
  •  cup brown sugar
  •  cup sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
For the Caramel Sauce
  • ¾ cups butter, 1½ sticks
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
For the topping
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 stick butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
Additional topping
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°
For the Filling
  1. Add sliced apples to large mixing bowl.
  2. Sprinkle brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, corn starch, lemon juice and nutmeg over apples.
  3. Stir until apples are coated then add pecans. Stir.

For the Caramel Sauce
  1. In a small heavy bottom pan, melt butter over low heat.
  2. Stir in brown sugar and milk.
  3. Bring to a boil over low heat and continue stirring constantly for 12 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp of vanilla. Stir.

  5. Let caramel cool for 10 minutes. Pour over apple mixture and stir (save a small amount to drizzle over the top. You will have to heat it up again so that the sauce is easy to pour).

  6. Pour into an ungreased 13 x 9 baking dish.
For the Topping
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and salt together.
  2. Using a pastry blender, mix butter into flour mixture until crumbly.

  3. Pour in boiling water and stir until combined.
  4. Spoon mixture over apples and spread making sure to cover all the apples.

  5. In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle on top.

  6. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.

Recipe from Great Grubs Delicious Treats