Since I remain quarantined in my home (still), I’m committing myself to upping my home decor game. For me September will be ‘wake up my blank walls’ month intersecting with ‘support an independent black artist’ month. I don’t have to go far; there are a number of artists I follow and stan on my instagram feed, which I have curated t…. I’m just getting my coins together so I can really support. In the meantime, I’m spreading the word on these great artists.
Her words: She offers art with modern edge, feminine hues and intentional lines that captures women in solidarity and unity. The inspiration of her work stems from her belief in being surrounded by extraordinary people and beautiful things that ignites confidence and authenticity.
I stay listening to the same song on repeat 20x in row. It’s what I do. I can’t usually tell you about new music but I can tell you run down for you songs from the early 2000s that I’ve never forgotten or things that I just discovered that are years old that I hope you didn’t miss out on. Here are the 5 songs I have going for September in no particular order.
‘Remind me’/Emily King “I try so hard but I can’t shake it, shake it”. At this point a forever fave that has been going for the last few months back when I first learned of Emily King’s brilliant existence. When people ask me the king of music I gravitate towards, this is it. Music, like NPR put it, that is an irresistible piece of anthemic R&B. A new revisit of retro neosoul, if you will.
‘Sittin’ Up In My Room’/Brandy “I must confess, I’m a mess for you” Who here had the life breathed into them after watching the most recent Verzuz with Brandy and Monica? This girl. Being a proud Xennial, my adolescence was woven together with golden threads of Brandy hits (I was way more of Brandy fan than a Monica fan). Not to mention that Brandy was my awkward Black girl spirit animal before that was even a thing. Guys, I’, not ashamed to admit that I taped this particular video on VHS back in the day and learned the dance routine.
‘Alien Like You’/The Pigott Brothers “Broken souls will become whole tonight” About 10 years or so ago, when I was back home for Christmas visiting my mom, I closed myself childhood room and flipped through the 100s of DirecTV channels because what else was there to do in an itty bitty Louisiana town but blow hours watching TV. That’s when stumbled upon a little Canadian show on the now defunct channel SOAPnet called Being Erica. It was a cute little show that I just loved. I won’t give away what made it so special and unique but as it has been stated, it love letter to every woman who has no idea what she’s doing in life. And just a few weeks ago, upon seeing it on Hulu, I binged the entire series again; still as lovely as before. One of the central life-defining relationships is between Erica and a rock star named Kai (Canadian musician Sebastian Pigott), a man with a great voice and an even greater song.
‘Sinnerman’/Nina Simone “Don’t you know that I need you?“ What do you say about the incomparable Nina Simone? Other than I hope you watched that 2015 documentary about her life and you spend a least some of your time learning her work. I just recently started a vinyl collection after my aunt gave me some of her old records and I invested in an Audio-Technica turntable. The first official record purchase? Nina Simone albums I picked up in Little Rock, Arkansas when I was visiting one of my line sisters. This song is probably my favorite of hers. A barista in Starbucks (you know, back when I supported them) once told me that I looked like Nina Simone (I think not but I’ll let you be the judge of that), which I think we his weird way of hitting on me…
I first heard this song on the soundtrack fpr indie film Like Crazy when I saw it back in 2011. What brought me back to it was scrolling all the way to the beginning of my Spotify ‘liked songs’ to rediscover some gems. I didn’t know how much I missed this song. Hauntingly beautiful, I always said that if I ever got married, this song will be incorporated in some way. I much prefer Ingrid Michaelson to Elvis Presley.
I love to bake. Cooking, no; baking, yes. It may be because I’m a scientist, and I like that being successful in baking doesn’t rely on you putting a pin on a recipe but on following it precisely to a tee. Here are 5 out of my arsenal + little stories to go along with them. These dessert recipes are a combination of ones I have tried in the past (when I actually had house parties, holiday dinners, and birthday parties to attend in person) and those I hope to in the future (hope to the heavens that I get a significant other one of these days)! Go forth and bake.
1. Pear Galette
In my 20s, I once hosted a wine and dessert party at my apartment for my friends. I made all the desserts and went to Whole Foods to talk to their resident sommelier to pick up the very best wine pairings. I bought that black chalkboard table cloth (ya’ll know this exists?) to sketch out pairing connection when I placed bottles and serving plates of desserts on my decorated table. It was all very fancy (in my mind). One of those desserts was the galette, something I never knew existed until I saw this recipe online.
Makes 4 medium galettes
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of ground ginger
1 1/2 cups (cold) butter
4 tablespoons water
Directions Blend together the all purpose flour, wheat flour, and butter in a food processor. Add in the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and the sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Mix. Add in the eggs and water. Knead the dough, and press into a ball. Cover in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator (30 minutes).
Divide in four and roll out on a lightly floured surface. In the center of the crust layer on think slices of pear. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. Roll up the edges. Bake at 375 F (25-30 minutes). Drizzle on the caramel during cooling.
Truffles are just one of those desserts that you just pop into your mouth and it brings you so much joy. It was the perfect thing to make when I wanted to bake for one of my friends as a birthday gift. I can attest to how good these are (and she can too!). Try it out for yourself.
Makes 12-15 truffles
7 ounces dark chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup Nutella
2 cups white chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Directions Fill a small pot with water and heat until boil; once boiling, lower the heat to low. Mix together the dark chocolate, butter, whipping cream, and Nutella in a glass bowl set the bowl over the pot to melt the ingredients. Once melted, remove and cool. Cover and refrigerate for just 2 hours. Use a spoon powered with cocoa to scoop out and form truffle balls. Once you have all the truffles formed, place in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
Melt the white chocolate and oil in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until fully melted. Dip each truffle in the melted chocolate to coat it, then place on parchment paper. Drizzle the top with on chocolate. Let these set over night.
Even before COVID-19, I worked from home (love it) for 6 years. I don’t think I could ever work in an office again but I did have some great times socializing everyday with coworkers. I started getting into baking around 2011 when I picked up a visual dessert receipe book from a discount pile when I hung out at Barnes & Noble one afternoon. I decided to try one recipe every week and break it into the office for my coworkers. I think everyone enjoyed that! Here is one yummy dessert I made and shared. I’m not a big cake fan, but anything with strawberries is an automatic win.
Makes 1 cake
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cut superfine sugar
3 tsp raspberry jam
1 1/4 cups heavy whipped cream
16 fresh strawberries
Preheat the oven to 350 /180 C. Line the bottom of two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and grease. In a large bowl, shift the flour and baking powder. Add the butter, sugar, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Divide the mixture evenly between the pans. Bake (25-30 minutes) or until well risen and golden. Cool. Turn out onto a wire rack. Spread jam, then cream on one half. Halve strawberries and place on top. Place the other cake half on top. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.
I grew up living with my uncle (mother’s brother) and his wife for most of my childhood. My uncle was this gruff black man who fell sleep to baseball playing loudly in his room, would take off his socks in random place and leave them there, and who also loved coconut cake with vanilla icing then sprinkled with more coconut. It looked disgusting and I wanted no part of it. I was a never-coconut-er.
Fast forward to my teenage and adulthood and my seduction by samoas courtesy of the Girl Scouts (damn them). One day I remember retelling my “I hate coconut” story to a friend and they are like, “but…. I thought you love samoas?” Me: “What does that gotta do with coconut?” Them: “Uhh, there is coconut on top under the chocolate”. Me: “Well, damn.” Here is a very good-looking homemade samoa recipe that I must try one day (yeah, coconut all up in there).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, beat until combined until doughy. Roll out the dough with a floured roller to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut the cookies using a 3 inch circle cookie cutter. Cut the center of each using a 1 inch circle cookie cutter. Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden.
Combine 3/4 cup maple syrup and the coconut cream (do not add the water) and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 5-8 minutes or until thickened to a caramel-like sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond butter. Cool. Stir in the toasted coconut. Press 1 tablespoon of the coconut mixture onto the tope of each cookie. Place the cookies in the freezer to chill (15-20 minutes).
Melt the chocolate. Dip the bottoms of the cookies in the chocolate and return to the parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle the tops with chocolate. Return to the freezer to set (10 minutes).
5. Malted Milk Cookies n’ Cream Ice Cream Sandwiches
I have the best memories as a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, hearing that magical sound of the ice cream truck before I even saw it round the corner of my block and running out with my change. I would always get the same thing – an ice cream sandwich. I didn’t want anything else, just that cold and sweet vanilla ice cream between those two soft chocolate wafers. So simple yet so brilliant.
When I recently saw this creative spin on making your own ice cream sandwiches at home, I fiddled with the recipe a bit and quickly put it on my list of future baking to-do’s.
Makes 12 sandwiches
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup malted milk powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 – 1 1/2 cups crushed Oreo cookies
1/2 teaspoon flaky salt
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) salted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Directions Filling: Whip the cream with the malted milk in a large bowl until you have whipped cream (3-4 minutes). Add sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and salt and whip until combined and fluffy. Crush oreo cookies and fold in. Spread the ice cream out in an even layer in a baking pan lined with parchment paper, freeze 2-3 hours until solid.
Biscuit: Preheat over to 350 degrees. Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until evenly combined. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined and the dough forms a ball.
Divide the dough in half and roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 2×4 in rectangles (should make about 24!). Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake (9-10 minutes). Cool.
Sandwich: Cut slab of ice cream into 12 rectangles and put between 2 cooking. Freeze for 2 hours until firm.
*I curiously googled “who invented the ice cream sandwich” because I needed to know who that genius was (I swear the very best things come out of NYC). Oh and apparently this post just missed National Ice Cream Sandwich Day (August 2)!
“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” – Representative John Lewis
We mourn. We have lost a powerhouse public servant and civil rights activist who has stood by the great leaders of history from MLK Jr to Barack Obama. I have always been proud to live in Atlanta and in his congressional 5th district. I live minutes from his mural that lovingly sits in Auburn. Thank you for reminding us daily why we fight and why we persist. He will be missed by those who knew him and those who didn’t.
I bought new coffee table books! Since I’m stuck at home during quarantine I decided to really focus on decorating on loft condo (been neglecting my home for the 5 years I’ve been here!) by bringing in some color and fine tuning my style.
One of my faves @bobby once tweeted that “Coffee table books are one of my guilty pleasures and a great finishing touch when you are styling your coffee table, bookshelf or even a window ledge”. One of my home dreams is to be surrounded by books (working on that home library!) and I found these on NYC and London (two of my favorite cities in the world – can’t wait to travel safely again!) and menswear (love a man that dresses well) and paired them with my new beautiful glass coffee table from @article (!!!). Love!
Anyone has any recommendations for other coffee table books I must own?
From best practices to grow your succulents indoor to self-care for introverts to arming yourself with knowledge about clinical trials for COVID-19, here are 10 things that caught my attention online lately collected for you:
Seeing that I have killed a succulent in my plant mom-ing (something that I didn’t think was possible), I need to memorize thisIf I’m ever invited to a Nigerian potluck (I’ll let you know if that ever happens post-COVID), this is what I’m making
I’m going to try the Pomodoro Technique going forward in my quest to be more productive. Anyone tried it?
Hair Love, the Oscar-winning short film about natural hair acceptance, is coming to premium television. So happy about this
Introverts, that includes me, need intensive self-care; here’s how to ensure you get it
Adobo! #Goyaway. Make your own adobo instead or buy from a less problematic company supporting the BIPOC community. Seriously, I never even heard of adobo seasoning until I started following IG chefs (so the question is, am i seasoning my food correctly?)
As a trained scientist, I’m irked about the conversations I have seen on social media about concerns about vaccinations. It’s important to stay knowledgeable about COVID-19 and clinical trials during the pandemic
I guess I’m just an outlier to just about every other woman in the world. I remember that this conversation really came up with friends of mine around the time Idris was named People’s Sexiest Man of the Year in 2018 (we tend to always get into heavy debates every time this People issue comes out) and it has persisted. Some have lusted after him since The Wire. There weren’t deterred when he turned DJ. Others argued how incredible he would look in a suit romancing women as the next James Bond (I have many thoughts on this one that I may get into at a later date). For me, though he’s just non-sexual, albeit attractive, uncle-like person. Like one of my late uncles.
I’m a huge fan of the podcast Thirst Aid Kit, one of the only maybe 4 podcasts I’ve ever listened to in my life. And of the two black female journalist that host this podcast, which spotlights celebrity lust objectives, I’ve always felt I had a certain kinship with British Nigerian Bim Adewumi. She lives inside my head (or I live inside of hers). Nothing demonstrated this more than in the episode “Back to Baesics”, when I heard Bim say this (at the 11:15 minute mark if you don’t believe me and you want to verify, lol):
“I want to move on to someone else who seem to make women just lose lose their sh*t. Women just die for this guys, and I… don’t… quite get it for a few reasons. Yeah.. it’s Idris Elba. I simply can’t fancy Idris Elba because he reminds me of so many of my uncles. I can’t fancy him”
My opinion was validated! She literally said exactly what I had been thinking for years and expressed it with the same exact fervor that I have on so very many occasions. Bim is truly my spirit animal, guys.
There has got to be more than this one person in the world that feels the same what that I do. Anyone??
I’m a almost 39-year old unmarried (gasp!) woman without kids (double gasp!). My biological clock is ticking along, and I just shrug and go about my business. There was a time in my pre-teen to teenager years when I couldn’t imagine my future without marriage and kids. Then again I remember being cornered into taking home economics in 9th grade where we had an assignment to create an equivalent of a wedding Pinterest board and think about our society-acceptable home life; it’s programmed into you. In college, I was a volunteer tutor for the (dilapidated, incompetent) New Orleans school system and realized that some kids are vicious, hurtful, and would cut you down with a single statement (ultimately I don’t blame them; their schools were failing them and not being able to read even at a 1st grade level when you’re 9 will make you lash out in embarrassment). Left a bad taste in my mouth though and may be I felt that it’s just not something I couldn’t handle.
Since then I think have always rode that line of not having an extreme view on whether I wanted to have kids or not. I envy those who are or have been so sure. I do have this very odd preoccupation with baby stuff (tiny clothes and stuff animals are so cute!). But again, don’t have this compulsion to actually have a kid (especially being a single parent). Knowing my luck though I’ll wake up in the middle of the night in a deep sweat at 46 (still unmarried because really, is my “person” even out there?) with a newfangled clarity that yes, I want to have kids! But then my eggs would laugh at poor timing and blow like powdered sugar in the wind.
I had a dream last night. The crux of it was that I found out that my mom died. Before I heard the news I remember that I also just found out that that my aunt Doris (my mother’s brother’s sister whom I lived with along with my uncle and sister growing up; she was like a mother to me) died as well. She actually passed away when I was about 14 so the potential significance stuck with me.
Dream interpretation is fascinating. @refinery29 published an online article at the beginning of the year about death in dreams: “Death of your loved one in your dream indicates that this particular quality that you possess is being transformed in some way.” There is no question to me that the dream has something to do with my views and anxieties on motherhood (dreams of my mom’s death couple with the death of my aunt I considered my mom); I just talked about different aspects of kids in the last week with various friends; undoubtedly it has been on my mind. What do you think? I’m curious to delve into this deeper….
[Photo credit: @cuddleandkind] Love this company; they provide meals for children in need for each hand knit dolls sold. I purchased one for one of my bestie’s little girl as a baby shower gift.