Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Whatwedoin? (Tuesday 6/23)

This morning started with the customary chatting and cackling, Nay doing hair (curling Neesh's hair and Jess's weave), and everyone collectively screaming (singing) and dancing to Silento's "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae), T Wayne's "Nasty", and other ratchet hits and crunk classics while I looked on in amusement.

Once again we spent too much time lolligagging and mulling over plans (whatdoyouwannado? Idunnowhatevery'allwannado) to have enough time to go to the aquarium or to the movies before Nay had to go pick her dad up from work, so we ended up not really going anywhere or doing anything. Scenarios like these that boil down to poor planning and wasting time are one of my pet peeves, but I wasn't as annoyed as I'm wont to get since I'd known going into this trip that this would happen. My cousins, much like my mom, take their time doing things and cannot, will not, be rushed. They're "we'll get there when we get there" kinds of people. And rather than spending the days happily checking to-dos and to-sees off of a varied itinerary like I would've done if it were just me (or me and Ma), I knew that for this go-round, I would just be along for the ride for whatever my cousins got around to deciding. And that's alright.

We left the house around 3pm and went shopping much like yesterday, but this time our destination was the shopping center at Atlantic Station. All I ended up purchasing was a pair of earrings at Old Navy. From there we passed the Millennium Gate Museum arch and through Midtown to Chris's job. He took over the wheel of his car, and I was glad to have a break because mannn...  after two days of driving behind my cousin Nay around this city, my nerves are shot! That girl knows I ain't never been here before but still insists on flying down roads and switching lanes like it's a game of highway hopscotch! But she also knows her way around and hasn't gotten us lost (and I haven't gotten my crew in any accidents), so it's working out.

Chris took us on an impromptu mini driving tour through downtown Atlanta on the way back to the house, where he barbecued dinner for us. Then we sat around the living room watching Love & Hip-Hop while I finished one of the two books that I brought with me.

Around 10pm we got ourselves together and headed to UBar, a ratchet club that tries to perpetrate as a sports bar. My cousins spent a few minutes "pre-gaming" in Taco Bell parking lot (because not only does UBar misrepresent itself as a sports bar,  but they also do not have the ample free parking that
they egregiously oversell on their radio ads). We were all looking forward to going into this club, but then we walked over and were told by security that our cars would be towed if we left them at Taco Bell, and that UBar's age limit is 21 and up. (Admittedly, the latter was our bad, since we could've looked into it or called ahead before even changing our clothes to leave the house.) Since three of us are underage,  UBar was out.

With no alternatives, we ended up coming to the house to munch on late-night snacks (wings and slushified Smirnoff Ice Screwdriver for me) and watch Brick Mansions. They made the mistake of asking me to pick the next movie at 2:30 in the morning, and since Netflix doesn't have The Lion King, I excitedly chose my secondary childhood favorite Hercules, which I fell asleep to.

Hmm... a wasted day, and my cousin Trish seems to share my frustration. Maybe tomorrow we can start planting seeds in our cousins' heads. Light a little fire under their them, you know?  

More photos from the trip:

Books That Destroy

Working in a bookstore is all fun and games, until you're reminded of the conservative, rich, white area in which the store is situated. 

Many people of color can scarcely go a day without being slapped in the face with reminders of how little they matter in this country, and yesterday I learned that such reminders can show up even in places as seemingly safe, open, and harmless as bookstores. I thoroughly enjoy working in customer service, but yesterday I almost wanted to cry. 

On my first day back at work after a week-long vacation I had to process an online order for a book titled If I Had A Son, in which some white middle-aged bozo with a PhD from Duke claims to explain how Trayvon Martin was no angel, how the public was duped by the media which unfairly demonized George Zimmerman, and why Zimmerman's "not guilty" verdict actually makes perfect sense. In short, this grown so-called educated man wrote an entire effing book arguing why a black kid deserved to die and why everyone should feel sorry for the scumbag who killed him. And someone who frequents the bookstore I work at wanted to read it so badly that she took the time to order it. And I had to have this sham of a "book" processed, labeled, and ready for whenever she would come to get it. 


Having to walk around the store daily and see the names and faces of Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin plastered on the covers of their ridiculously-titled publications was one thing. Having to repeatedly retrieve books by Bill O'Reilly for customers and hand them over with a smile on my face every week was one thing. Having to rush through the store while a customer was on hold that one time so I could grab a copy of the autobiography of Barbara Bush for them (when I didn't even know that this former first lady and progenitor of the disaster that was President "Dubya" was still alive!) was one thing.

But this. This really hurt my heart.

We are not even safe in centers of knowledge?
We are not even safe in centers of knowledge.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Go Jesscuh, It's Ya Birthday! (Monday 6/22)

This morning I woke up to loud chatting and cackling,  girls doing their hair (Nay installing another weave for my cousin Jess and dying our fledgling naturalista Kay's crop blonde), and swollen feet and ankles. Don't know what's going on down there, but hopefully it won't last long.

Around 3pm we finally got out of the house and went to Arbor Place Mall. Nay drove her car and I drove her dad's car. (I hadn't known that driving would be in my contract until today,  but ok let's go with it! I'm from Michigan, where kids learn to drive before they pass elementary school─I can do this!) My cousins Trish and Neesh rode with me, and all the way to and from the mall Neesh jokingly proclaimed how appalled she was by my driving and called on Jesus every time I pressed the breaks or turned a curve. 'Twas pure comedy!

Once at Arbor Place we popped into Forever 21, where I found an emerald green knit tee for $10. Then Nay pulled me into a plus store called Fashion to Figure on what she called "a fashion emergency", to find me something to wear tonight for Jess's birthday and for whenever we go to a club this week. I found a white peplum top with lace 3/4 sleeves,  and a black dress that zips up in the front and has a drawstring waist/bust. Normally shopping and malls are not my thing. Having image issues coupled with an aversion to spending money means I hardly venture into clothing stores unless I'm getting something for someone else or Ma makes me. But once I tried them on, I was so elated that I'd found these two items that were pretty and fit me well, that I didn't think twice about buying them. This was a significant step for me because it was my first time ever buying a dress for myself, and I haven't worn a dress in almost 10 years! Plus the top and the dress were on sale and altogether only cost me $22. No guilt necessary.

From there we returned to the house to get gussied up before driving to Cumberland Mall to celebrate Jess's birthday! We had a short photo session before proceeding into the Cheesecake Factory there. I got the chicken and shrimp gumbo and the cherry cheesecake for dessert. Usually I avoid places like Cheesecake Factory that use their decor/atmosphere, presentation, high prices, extensive menu and mouth-watering item descriptions to fool you into thinking you'll be eating the best meal of your life, only to not deliver. But I was very impressed with that gumbo!

Unfortunately not all of my cousins were as pleased with their dining experience. Something you need to know about my cousins is that they hate spending more than $20 on a meal, they hate trying new things, and they're extremely picky. They are, in short, a mild nightmare for waiters. Besides the one of us who got drunk after just one margarita, two others gave our FOOOINE bespectacled white young waiter such a hard time. Specifying exactly 3 ice cubes in their tea, pickily making adjustments and substitutions to the menu items they wanted, getting exactly what they ordered only to send their dishes back and opt for chicken tenders/fried shrimp and fries instead. And of course, as with most less than ideal restaurant patrons, they're unapologetically less than generous tippers (if they tip at all). But hey, what can you do? That's just how they are, and you gotta love 'em. And I'm sure poor Jay didn't suffer too terribly. One of my cousins tipped him more than properly "just for being sexy". She was even bold enough to write her number on a napkin and hand it to him before we got up to leave. Gurrrrhl. That couldn't be me, but I applaud you!

As we left, some of my cousins were in the mood to drink,  so we made a detour at a gas station (it was 11pm and the liquor stores were closed) to pick up some late-night liquids. But you know as soon as we walked in the door and everybody sat down, all of us were too tired to drink anything. All we opened up was a bottle of Smirnoff Ice Screwdriver (vodka+orange juice) and it was as my cousins like to say, "fahr" (lit. fire; bomb; delicious; really good). I avoid drinking alcohol as much as possible, but when I do I prefer the stuff sweet and weak, like that Smirnoff was. A nice end to a slow but fun day!

More photos from the trip:

BOOKS! (China Rich Girlfriend)

I don't think I've waited so eagerly for a book since Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out in '03. Ever since I finished Crazy Rich Asians back in April and found out there'd be a sequel coming out on June 16th, I've been sooooo ready! I walked into work that Tuesday on a mission! The perks to working in a bookstore: when the book you've been waiting on for two months finally releases and you can't find it anywhere on the sales floor, but you KNOW in your heart of hearts that it's in stock because you've checked the inventory catalogue a billion times... you can STILL find a way to get your hands on it! Thanks so much to my supervisor N for showing me where to find this book! I finished it during my week in Georgia and couldn't wait to write about it.

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

As a sequel I think this novel is solid. Not spectacular, but solid. It wasn't as much of a fun ride, but for me I think that was mostly because I went in expecting Rachel and Nick to be at the center in the same way that they were in the first book. Kwan made me fall in love with them as a couple in the first book, so I'd anticipated that the second one would continue to closely follow the development of their relationship.They are still prominent, but with the exception of their wedding and Rachel finally meeting her father for the first time and facing the fallout from that, more of the spotlight shifts to other characters. Characters like Rachel's high-flying half brother Carlton, Carlton's attention-grabbing heiress and fashion blogger girlfriend Colette, Nick's fabulous cousin Astrid who's losing herself in her ever-evolving marriage, and social-climbing soap opera star turned trophy wife Kitty Pong who's grappling to gain acceptance within high society.

In China Rich Girlfriend the setting expands from primarily Singapore and Hong Kong to mainland China, and so we also become acquainted with new characters who take baffling wealth, extravagance, and bad behavior to a whole new level. This includes the above-mentioned Carlton, Colette, and Rachel's father Gaoliang, who happens to be a pharmaceutical tycoon and a high-ranking politican. And I'm reading these character lines and subplots, all the while thinking Okay, okay, that's all well and good but what about Rachel and Nick? Let's get back to them! I just didn't feel as connected to them as I'd wanted to, and I dove further and further into the book not fully grasping (or perhaps not wanting to grasp) the new direction that Kevin Kwan had decided to go in with this one. Having read the whole thing now, I think it was wise on his part to make this book more about the ensemble of characters instead of purely focusing on the same two people as in the last book. Rachel and Nick are still the reason readers come to the party, as all the subplots connect to them in some way or another. But we also get more details on the issues and secrets of certain characters who we may have overlooked in Crazy Rich Asians

With rapid economic development and the ever-increasing instances of overnight riches making up the China backdrop of this novel, the most striking gap that presents itself is generational. On one hand you have the new money Chinese who remember growing up in poor villages and experiencing Chariman Mao's reign, and on the other you have their children who were born into wealth and are driving the future of the "new" modern powerhouse that China is becoming. And of course, who could forget the chasms between between the rich, richer and richest? Sure, the one-upmanship amongst the rich, popular, and powerful will never cease, but ultimately this sequel teaches us that you can't change people, and it's really better for folks to just embrace their true nature rather than trying too hard.

Though China Rich Girlfriend wasn't exactly what I'd imagined it would be, I'm still a huge fan of this series. Kevin Kwan's got an excellent thing going, and I can't wait until the film adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians comes out. According to recent interviews he's got at least one more book in the works following this one, so I'm very interested in seeing how he decides to wrap up the series!

Favorite quotes: 
"Trust me, that's the classy way to do it. You want people to speculate. You want to be that unconfirmed report" (21). 

"The two of you might have grown up like peasants, but I am not a peasant, and you did not raise me to be one. It is 2013, and I am not going to get married and pump out babies just because you want a barrel full of grandsons" (295).

"As Astrid stood alone in the middle of the forest recalling his words, it was as if she could suddenly hear the trees speaking to her. In the deepest hollows of bark, in the rustling of leaves, she could hear them whisper, He did it out of love, he did it out of love...It was an act of pure, unselfish love...Astrid realized how much she had struggled to change for Michael, and how much she no longer wanted to. What she truly wanted, what she had always wanted but failed to realize until this moment, was someone who loved her just the way she was. Someone like Charlie" (339).

"What do you mean, 'boundaries'? You came out of my vagina. What kind of boundaries do we have? " (366).

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Girl Cousins in Georgia (Sunday 6/21)

About a month and a half ago, my cousin Trish thought it'd be a good idea for all of the grown girl cousins in the family to go on a trip to Georgia together. I live in Michigan and four of us live in Kentucky, but one of our cousins Nay lives with her dad in the Atlanta area, and so we agreed to go down and stay with them for a week of sisterhood and cousin-ly bonding amongst the six of us. As such I've decided to title this series, simply, "Girl Cousins in Georgia"

This series is a little different from my usual travel writings, because things get quite personal this time around. In order to give y'all a decent picture of what happened, I've had to strike a delicate balance between touching on some family drama and not getting too candid. All I ask is that you try to read with understanding, and that you read the whole series before thinking less of me or my peeps. I'll be taking it day by day, and fortunately for y'all, the first and second days were pretty pleasant. With that said, let's get started with last Sunday, June 21st!

I'd been scheduled to help close the bookstore on Saturday night, so I got off work at 11pm and Ma was right there waiting for me. From there we hit the road and arrived in Louisville shortly after 5am. Us girls would be riding the Megabus from there to Atlanta (first time riding the Megabus, woo!) and so we all met up at the bus stop downtown. The bus arrived shortly after 7am, and after stopping in Nashville, changing drivers and going the wrong way, and stopping again in Chattanooga,  we arrived in Atlanta around 4:45pm EST. So for me, that added up to a cumulative almost 16 hours of travel from the Detroit Metro area, to Louisville, to Atlanta. By the end I was exhausted, dehydrated, but excited to have made it.

While we'd been waiting at the bus stop in Louisville my cousin Neesh walked up to me and declared, "I just want you to know that I'mma be actin' a fool when I get down there. First of all, I'mma be walkin' 'round half-naked; I'mma slap all the boys in the face when I walk by; and every time I see a girl I'm just gon' look at her and call her the b-word. I'mma be a fool, everywhere I go." Of course she was joking (for the most part), but I wasn't surprised by the sentiment. Knowing this group of girls, I wouldn't have expected anything less than the most earnest yet unbothered quest for good grub and the Turn Up.

Nay and her dad Chris picked us up at the bus station on Peachtree Street, and I sat in the back of Chris's car snapping shots of the city here and there as we made our way to their house in the suburbs. After settling in we spent the night chilling, eating pizza, cracking jokes on each other,  and staying up until 2am to watch Sister Act 2 while Nay worked her magic on a client's weave (doing hair is her side hustle and one of her many skills).

I can't go to bed without first saying a huge thank-you to Ma for making it possible for me to join this trip. From purchasing my plane ticket back home, to dropping me off at and picking me up from work on Saturday,  to driving all night Saturday so we could get to Louisville in time. You ma'am, are the real MVP. And of course, immense props and gratitude go to Chris and Nay for welcoming us into their home. I'm looking forward to what awaits us this week!
More photos from the trip:

Friday, June 19, 2015


What do you mean?

These are my people. If it happened to them, it happened to me. That is the essence of solidarity.

I don't want to die either! I don't want them to kill my babies that I haven't even conceived yet either!

Black. People. I don't know why God chose us as a people to be so divine yet so undeservedly misunderstood and hated at the same time, but I will not jump ship. I couldn't even if I wanted to.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


As Black people we have to endure so much pain just to live. For over 400 years it has been molded this way by others as a part of daily life for us in this country. We are expected to suffer, and we are expected by this country to deal with it on our own, in silence, docility, and gratitude.  It has become so commonplace for us to endure injustice, oppression,  violence, and erasure that it's like pulling a camel through the eye of a needle just to get so many non-Blacks to feel or publicly express any real empathy for us, much less to truly be "down" with the cause or speak/act in a way that testifies to our dignity. 

Our dignity! We are human beings, yet we cannot even worship in peace without losing our lives? A white terrorist kills 9 people, including the pastor, INSIDE the House of the Lord─one of the oldest Houses sustained by Black people in this country─is still on the loose, and people have the nerve to not be alarmed? People have the nerve to not call this man a terrorist?  People have the nerve to even let the thought enter their minds and fix their lips to question whether or not this, the epitome of a hate crime, is about race? Shame on you, shame on all of you!

Like so many others, I am angry, I am afraid, and I am mourning this morning. But most of all I am praying. Because as a young Black woman who also grew up in Houses of the Lord sustained by Black people, that is what I have always been taught to do. May justice be served. But if justice should fail us again like she has so many times over the past 400+ years, and the movement of our feet and the cries of our voices─the work of our hands─ should somehow come to naught AGAIN in this, this country we built that still doesn't seem to want or value us like that.... we will always have a strong heart, an open ear, and a righteous hand in Heaven. 

Rest in Peace and Power to you, my brothers and sisters who were murdered in Emanuel AME last night.

"When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. 
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy." 
Psalm 94:18-19 (NIV)

Midnight Omelet

No work tomorrow = up late
Boredom + plentiful produce = late-night breakfast

The clock struck 12, I didn't feel like going to bed, and it suddenly occured to me that 1) I hadn't eaten very much for breakfast this morning and 2) I hadn't eaten any eggs in a few days. Conclusion: let's make an omelet!

For starters I fried two slices of thick-cut bacon, then blended 3 eggs in a bowl. Once I'd set the bacon between paper towels to drain, I cut an avocado and spooned out the flesh, then chopped about 6 grape tomatoes and measured out 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese. Using the residual grease from the bacon I poured the egg mixture into the skillet and quickly topped it with the avocado and tomatoes. Then I lightly layered over them with the mozzarella and bacon, followed by pouring a 4th blended egg over the whole thing and letting the omelet cook for few seconds. Then I covered the skillet with a pan to let the omelet simmer for 5-ish minutes, and... done! As you can see I decided to leave this omelet open-faced; 'twas my first time making an omelet this way. Sometimes you get in the kitchen and just throw stuff together, and it works!
Check out pics of other foodventures here:

Peace, Love, and Food (Every Now and Then)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Smoothie Tuesday (Pineapple Protein Greens)

So, I was in a bit of a funk and I didn't feel like making anything this week. But I decided to keep up with Smoothie Tuesday!

Today's treat is another Blogilates creation, by the name of the Pineapple Protein Greens Smoothie. Her recipe calls for a banana, a handful of spinach (I used kale), frozen strawberries (I used 15 fresh cherries), pineapple juice (I used a cup of Yoplait's pineapple mango "yogurt & juice"), a scoop of protein powder (I used a tablespoon of JIF natural creamy peanut butter). Similar to when I did the Pomegranate Power Smoothie, my take on this one includes peanut butter and is chock full of substitutions.

But thankfully, it all came together sooo much better this time! The peanut butter smell is tempered by the kale, and its tart creamy sweetness melds perfectly with that of the pineapple "yogurt & juice". This slightly brown-colored smoothie is per.fec.tion, and my favorite that I've made thus far! I can't wait to make this one again!

Check out pics of other foodventures here:

Peace, Love, and Food (Every Now and Then)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Just got paid :)

My favorite person, me, and my first paycheck ever in life! Though of course I'm not rolling in dough, I'm just glad to be experiencing this for the first time.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


It's officially official now. Not only official, but pup-approved.

On Repeat: The Read

It seems that podcasts are becoming more and more the rage lately, and like many media trends, I was originally more than happy to let this one pass me by. That was until about 3 weeks ago, when I was first introduced to The Read. Around that time I came across an Ebony Magazine article about Black women who are doing extremely well for themselves in the realm of podcasting, and The Read was among the programs listed. I'd heard mention of The Read once before via LoveHour (a podcast that I only listen to casually, also included in the article), and after reading Ebony Mag's short write-up I decided to give them a listen.

And let me tell you, it was downhill from there. After I listened to their very first episode, I just couldn't stop listening. I even downloaded SoundCloud for easy access, and ended up spending nearly 3 weeks catching myself up on all of their work, which amounts to over two years' (117 episodes) worth of pop culture trash talk, ranting righteously about social issues, and "reading" people for their ridiculousness.

The Read has been around since 2013, and is hosted by friends and media personalities Kid Fury and Crissle. Both are transplants to NYC from the South (Kid Fury from Miami, Crissle from Tulsa, Oklahoma). Both are Beyoncé stans. They're also both black, gay, and Christian, which I think adds a refreshing perspective to their commentary since I personally don't know any people who publicly identify as all three. None of those things define all that these two individuals are, but they do offer insights that I've never heard before, and I feel like I'm learning about a whole new side of life thanks to them. The structure of their episodes has evolved over time, but the current one is as follows. First they chat briefly about how they're doing and how their week is going. Then they recognize one or two individuals who represent #BlackExcellence due to their achievements and how they represent for our people. Then they get into the meat of the episode, which is hot topics, where they talk crap about celebrity goings-on that they claim not to care about. Next is an advice column-like section where they answer two or three questions emailed to them by listeners. And last but not least is the main event, a segment that they call, "The Read".

Now, for those who aren't familiar with AAVE (especially as it intersects with LGBT and Atlanta slang), to "read" someone means to tell someone off. When you read someone, you're telling them about themselves with all the anger, sharp tongue, voice-raising, bluntness (and often profanity), that you deem necessary. (This is not to be confused with "shade", where you say something rude, dismissive, or straightforward to/about someone without actually saying it explicitly.) During the last segment of each episode, Kid Fury and Crissle both have their turn setting a person, a group of people, or an organization/institution straight for doing or saying something that they believe is rude, ignorant, racist, despicable, petty, or just plain stupid. Or you know, all of the above, if the shoe fits.

If you listen to one episode of theirs and don't get the appeal, just listen to a few more and let it sink it. Sure, on the surface Kid Fury and Crissle are loud, vulgar, and slightly petty themselves, but they're also exquisitely self-aware, unbothered, and brilliant at the same exact time. Plus they're hilarious! And I love them for it. Trust me, you don't know what you're missing! Give The Read a chance and I don't think you'll regret it!

Most recent episode: Because it Applies

Past favorites (in chronological order):

Say No to F*ckboys
Paula's Best Dish
Beyoncé Holiday Spectacular
Live One Year Anniversary Show
In My Skin
All Shade
The Upheaval
Ghetto Gratitude
Read & Green
B*tch U Guessed It: The Read Turns Two
The Snatching
Window Lives Don't Matter

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

BOOKS! (Love Letters to Balled Fists)

This is the first book of poetry that I've read in a while. I profoundly respect poetry as an art form but often have difficulty understanding it, so I'm not the most well-versed in that sphere of wordsmithery. Spoken word especially has fascinated, dumbfounded, and challenged me as I've been exposed to it more over the past four years. So it's with great pleasure today that I discuss this book of poems by slam poet Ebony Stewart, the "Gully Princess" herself, whom I've had the honor of meeting in person.

Love Letters to Balled Fists by Ebony Stewart

I first witnessed Ebony Stewart in action at a poetry slam at my university back in October. Following the show I waited in line to ask her about building confidence as a performer, and also to purchase a copy of this book. She signed mine,  "Thank you. Shine your light, mama!", and inserted a business card with a black-and-white photo of herself on one side and the charge "KEEP CALM AND WRITE A POEM" printed on the back. From the moment I first heard her perform, to when she signed my book and gave me advice, to following her work online, to having read Love Letters to Balled Fists just now, Ebony Stewart has been a huge inspirational force in my life. When I met her she was both spoken word poet and middle school sexual health teacher, but I hear that as of this year she's transitioned and is now living and working as a full-time artist.

Love Letters to Balled Fists features 33 poems, separated into thematic sections by quotes from people who Ebony admires. The poems center on becoming/being a woman; what Ebony's learned from various people in her life, especially other women; experiences with love, breakups, and heartache; fear, loss, and pain; finding her way in life; her work as a sex ed teacher; the power of words; artistry; and her defense mechanisms, whether they be built-up walls or−yes indeed−balled fists. You get a sense from most of these poems that she's been through some things, and is really just trying to love herself back to life and fight to keep living. As such, the title she chose for this book is more than fitting.

I was happy to recognize three poems that I remember her performing at the poetry slam last year: "Number One Fan", which is about responding to an ex-lover who came out of the woodwork once he saw that she was becoming successful, "Cupcakes" in which she extols the virtues of her favorite food, and "Anonymous Box Questions a 6th Grade Boys Group Asks Their Sex Education Teacher", in which she addresses sexual practices, sexual identity, and self-love in response to a few of her adolescent students' questions. My personal favorites from this collection are "Backwards Driving", which addresses the struggle of feeling lost, inadequate, and unsatisfied in life, "Stalemate", which voices a woman's struggle with accepting the devastation of infertility, and "The Pretender" in which she, expecting the other shoe to drop, lambasts her lover for not giving up on her even when she pushes him away.

Affecting. If I had to choose one word to describe this work, that would be it. Find a way to get your hands on this book, but prepare to have Ebony's words break your heart a time or two as you read.

Favorite quotes:

"if I close my eyes quick enough, I can play a reel of my mother.
I've got too many poems about her and I don't care.
Since when are there too many stars in the sky?
She loves me more than I pay attention to how or why" (Backwards Driving, p.5)

"For anyone who has to come behind him,
I'm sorry it won't be easy.
Can you love me in a way we can both agree on?
Only use words I can recognize and please don't use mine 
against me
...Let the only time you raise your voice be to remind God that I am a good thing
and you are blessed because of it" (Domestic, p. 15)

"[I know that] the body is a memory;
that I write to calm the shadows and to keep from swallowing my demons" (How to Make Poetry, p.83)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Smoothie Tuesday (Vegan "Orange Julius")

Orange. Banana. Orange Juice. Almond Milk. Ice. Bam. Vegan "Orange Julius", according to Blogilates. Tastes just like the real thing (if anyone even remembers the real thing? Is Orange Julius even a "thing" anymore? Anywhoo...). A little pulpy, but otherwise it tastes like a dream.

Check out pics of other foodventures here:

Peace, Love, and Food (Every Now and Then)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Pizza from Scratch!

A day late from my usual routine, but it's all good! Today I made my first pizza! This was yet another Food Heaven Made Easy recipe, one they call "Roasted Tomato Thin Crusted Pizza" and includes crust made from scratch.

For the crust, mix whole wheat flower, salt, and active dry yeast in a bowl. Add vegetable oil (I used canola), hot water, and honey. Once the mixture starts consolidating, use your hands to shape it into a ball, working it for about 5 minutes. Then cover the top of the bowl with three
wet paper towels, cover the whole thing with a plastic bag, and let it sit for at least 1.5 hours (I let it set for 2.5).

Just about when it was time to uncover the dough, I sauteed 2 cups of kale with some garlic in one pan. I fried some bacon in the other, 'cause, you know, Ma just loves her meats. Then I poured out a light layer of flour on the counter and rolled the dough out with my hands. We just so happen to have a pizza pan, so I put the dough on that and shaped it to fit. Then I layered on some tomato sauce, followed by the kale with garlic, followed by about 8 sliced grape tomatoes, followed by mozzarella cheese, and last but not least, Ma's precious bacon on her half. Put the pizza in oven, bake for 12 minutes, and done. 

Overall, this pizza looks and tastes great! The recipe is supposed to be thin crust, and while my pizza itself is thin crust, the outer crust is not. It's soft and doughy.... and it's just aight. The taste, texture, and consistency are more akin to a thick piece of wheat bread than pizza crust. (Plus it's whole wheat and not full of all that salt and butter lovin' that restaurant pizzas have to offer.) Maybe if I'd used a baking sheet instead of a pizza pan so I could spread the dough out more, the crust would've turned out thinner around its edges. Eh well. Note for the next time. But again, I'm incredibly proud of this pizza! Glad that this first time turned out to be a charm.

Check out pics of other foodventures here:

Peace, Love, and Food (Every Now and Then)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Employee Appreciation Potluck

They mentioned to me on my first day that as part of employee appreciation week, there'd be a potluck in the break room this weekend. When I looked at the sign-up sheet I mistakenly read that it would be on Friday and Saturday, so imagine what a pleasant surprise it was to walk in for my shift today and see this table full of free food. First the extra discount, and now FREE FOOD! Looks like I joined the team during quite the lucky week.

I helped myself to two mini sub sandwiches, and two of the most scrumptious cupcake I've ever had in my life!  One of the girls made cupcakes with yellow cake, chocolate icing,  and chocolate chip cookie dough in the center. Cookie dough inside of a cupcake, y'all! I'd never even heard of anything like that before! It was too good, I tell you. Too. Good. What a nice way to cap off my first week on the job.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Smoothie Tuesday (Pomegranate Power)

Today's treat is an improvisation of Blogilates' "Fig Power Smoothie". When I went to the store the other day I couldn't find any figs, so I got a pomegranate as an alternative. I used these instructions to figure out how to cut and de-seed it. Pomegranates are cool to marvel at on the inside once you open them up, but be careful! They're easy to cut and pull apart, but the seeds are known to squirt and stain. My advice to you is to not wear anything you care about while working with one, and be sure to promptly wipe the surfaces on which you cut it.The only other adjustment I made was using cherries instead of strawberries, since that's what I had in stock. I threw together the seeds of 1 pomegranate,  1/2 cup of chopped mango, 10-ish cherries, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, 1 cup of almond milk, and ice. Blend, et voila.

This smoothie is... interesting. It certainly tastes delightful. And I actually like the crunch of the pomegranate seeds because they remind me of those bubbles that burst in your mouth that you can get put in your boba─except pomegranate seeds are smaller, crunchier, and not as juicy. But the smoothie's got this odd peanut butter smell (thankfully the taste of it isn't as strong as the smell) that's just... odd. Not bad, but odd. I'm sure that putting peanut butter in smoothies isn't a new thing, but the fruity taste and the nutty smell just don't match in my head. It's almost puzzling. I guess I just need experiment using peanut butter more often so I can get used to it. Maybe try the original recipe as is.

Absolutely love the crunch, though! (Pro-tip: Anytime you want, you can just take the seeds fresh out of a pomegranate and eat them as a snack.) And it tastes great just like all the other Blogilates' smoothie recipes I've tried. I would definitely recommend this one if you're looking to try something different.

 Check out pics of other foodventures here:

Monday, June 1, 2015

My First Job! :)

So... today was the first day of my first job ever! As of today, I'm working part-time at a certain bookstore near my hometown. It's a small start, and I'm overwhelmed with information after today's orientation, but I'm so very excited! Deela? The bookworm? Working in a bookstore? That's a no-brainer, and a surprise to no one who knows me. It's a perfect fit. I'm just really looking forward to learning and being able to contribute. Plus, I think having to work as part of a team and interact with customers on a daily basis will help boost by confidence in regard to social interactions.

It's funny because nothing about this post-grad life has worked out the way I'd originally envisioned, but at the same time things are working out just fine. The week before graduation I applied for this job, two days after graduation I went in for the first interview, the following week I went in for the second interview and was offered the job, and then I had orientation today. So finding employment three weeks after graduating isn't too shabby, I would say. It's a start. It's a start! And I don't know where any of this is leading me, but I feel good about the direction in which I'm going.  Here's to new beginnings and happy Mondays, y'all!