Archive for February, 2008

Make Spring Official, Buy a Trench Coat

Although the weather is still cold here in Michigan (12 degrees) with a lingering blanket of snow on the ground, Spring is definitely coming.  You can’t go shopping without seeing all the beautiful Spring colors blossoming everywhere from Easter decorations at Target to swimsuits at Marshall Field’s.  Plus-size fashion trends I’m seeing a lot of this season are tunics, dresses, and shoes with bright colors and bold prints.  I’m loving the new Spring fashions available right now, but I can’t even attempt go there until I make the one purchase that initiates it all; a trench coat. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to retire the winter attire and make Spring official.  It’s time to buy that trench coat.  I am so ready!  How about you?

Here is what I found so far:

avenbabdollraincoat.jpg  Avenue – Babydoll Raincoat, $69.95

lbpattrench.jpg  Lane Bryant – Patent Leather Trench, Sale $74.99

 nordtrcoat.jpg  Nordstrom – Semantiks Printed Trench Coat, $148.00

nordsdknypinktrench.jpg  Nordstrom – DKNY Belted Metallic Satin Trench, $188.00

bloomleatherswing.jpg  Bloomingdale’s – Leather Swing Coat, $280.00

Don’t Judge Me

Writing has always been therapeutic for me and I needed to write this today. 

People assume things about me that are not true because they don’t really know me.  I’m an anti-social butterfly and very guarded which makes establishing friendships kinda hard, but I need to trust those I’m around.  I no longer force myself to go along with the program for the sake of fitting in or “wanting to be down”.  I’m just too old and don’t have to be down.   I’m compassionate, dependable, and I love my people, but most times I’d rather be home sipping on a glass of wine, reading, writing, or creating something beautiful.  This is who I am. 

bluebutterfly.jpg

DON’T JUDGE ME

Don’t judge me by every family event I somehow seem to miss.
Did you know that I have issues that no one knows persist?
Don’t judge me because I’m quiet and never have much to say.
Did you know by keeping my mouth shut, I respect you in so many ways?
Don’t judge me by the way I choose to live and keep my children close.
Did you know they hear what others say when they’re not supposed to?
Don’t judge me by the way you feel I treat someone you love.
Did you know your loved one looks down on those they think they are above?
Don’t judge me. 
You really don’t know me.

 

Afrocentric Accessories

The African symbols Jes Playin featured on some of her jewelry started something.  Since that post, I’ve had the desire to seek out accessories using authentic African fabrics and materials.  In my search, I discovered Adega Creations and Urban Knit, two Etsy shops which more than fulfilled that desire. 

ADEGA CREATIONS – I found the beautiful craftmanship and techniques used to make Adega Creations’ jewelry and housewares amazing.  Also check out AFRICAN FASHIONS, a clothing store owned by family member of Adega Creations who is an accomplished seamstress.  Custom orders also taken.

Here is a little information about how Adega Creations began:

Margaret Adega Creations was started in 1987, in Nairobi, Kenya, by Margaret Ogembo, one of seven sisters who all have worked in the business. Two of the sisters, Roseline and Akinyi, now live in Charlotte, NC.  Margaret Ogembo is a nurse by profession and founded a health clinic in western Kenya.  Her tribe, the Luo, of all the tribes in Kenya, has the highest rate of AIDS/HIV.  The profits from the shop go to help support her health clinic. Adega Creations specializes in authentic African arts, crafts, clothing, jewelry, baskets, and many other items.  

1.  adegabrassdrop.jpg     2.  africanfashionearrings.jpg     3.  adegasandals.jpg

4.  adegajewelryset.jpg    5.  africanfashioncaftan.jpg    6.  africanfashionskirtset.jpg

  1. Earrings, $7.00.  Featuring hand scuptured brass.  These art deco earrings will add flare to any outfit.
  2. Earrings, $7.00.  These earrings are made from cow horn. They are cut, polished and colored with natural dyes then sealed with bee’s wax. All hand made in Kenya.
  3. Sandals, $30.00.  These sandals are cured leather with bead work on the straps. We buy the sandals ready made from an uncle and add the bead work ourselves. All work is done in Kenya.  Shoes are size 41, which in American is size 9.5 or 10.
  4. Matching necklace, bracelet and earring set, $42.00.  Made from cow bone in Kenya, each piece is hand cut, hand polished, colored with natural dyes using the lost wax technique.
  5. Kaftan, $49.00.  Bold African mudprint designs contour and give you a sleek, feminine silhouette. Includes a matching head wrap. Hand wash. Will custom taylor to your size up to a 62″ bust and 52″ length.
  6. Two-Piece Outfit, $129.00.  This skirt and blouse is size 10. It is a traditional african cotton print called kitenge. It has a zipper in back for both blouse and skirt. It is fully lined.

URBAN KNIT – Urban Knit uses authentic African fabrics which adds richness and boldness to her bags, clutches, and pouches, making them extraordinarily one-of-a-kind.   

The owner of Urban Knit, Dolapo James, shares some information about herself with us:

My name is Dolapo James.  I am a 29 year old Nigerian and work as an Architect in London.  I started Urbanknit because I enjoy thinking up and making new things.  I particularly like the idea of creating one off items that are completely unique.  One thing I never do is make the same things twice. 

I started the new line of bags in ‘Ankara’, ‘Adire’, and ‘Aso-oke’, all fabrics made and sourced in Nigeria because I love the vibrance and boldness of the fabrics that I grew up wearing.  Each one tells its own story.  I also really enjoy knitting, but get bored with the regular knitting thats out there and make up my own patterns.  I especially love chunky yarn and knits.

1.  urbanknitbeigepouch.jpg   2.  urbanknitdenimclutch.jpg   3.  urbanknitankarawristlet.jpg

4.  urbanknitoctopusbag.jpg          5. urbanknitlimetote.jpg          6. urbanknitshoulderbag.jpg

  1. Ankara and leather zipper pouch, $15.50.  This funky little purse is a simple little pouch that can do pretty much anything you want it to.  Coins, makeup, money, receipts, its up to you.  Fits nicely into a bigger bag too.  
  2. Batik and Denim Clutch, $33.00.  ‘The Skweez Clutch’ is ideal for everyday running around and shopping.  Outer fabric is West African batik fabric from Nigeria.  Flap is dark blue denim.  Width: 8.5″ (22cm), Height: 5″ (13cm), Fastening: Magnetic snaps (for security).
  3. Ankara Wristlet Experiment, $27.00.  This is introducing the new range of wristlets.  It is made from African print fabric from Nigeria known as ‘Ankara’.   Width 7.8 inches (20cm), Height 5.3 inches (13.5cm).
  4. Olive and Black Woodin Octopus, $50.00.  This is the octopus bag, named because it has eight arms (four really but eight if you count the lining!) It is made out of woodin which is print fabric from West Africa.  It has 4 straps that can be tied together in any number of ways.  Lined in black cotton.
  5. Lime Tiny Tote, $30.00.  This little tote is just the right size for holding all your essentials without weighing you down!  Made out of batik fabric, known as ‘adire’ from Nigeria, West Africa, it has two ties which you knot together to form the handle.  Lined in soft black cotton and has a black cotton base.  Height: 9 inches(23cm), Width: 13.5 inches (33cm).  Measurement from base of the bag to tip of each handle is 24inches (60cm).
  6. Ankara Shoulder Bag, $45.00.  Both inner and outer fabrics are print fabric from Nigeria, West Africa.  Wide shoulder strap makes it more comfortable to wear across the body or just over the shoulder.  Magnetic snap for fastening to keep your contents safe.  Inner pocket to store smaller things.  Height: 14.5 inches (37cm), Width: 18 inches (45cm), Strap: 21.5 inches (55cm), Fabric: African print (Ankara). 
  7. When you have the time, check out the website of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.  There is a lot to see and learn here (textiles, sculptures, masks, etc.), but you’ll leave enlightened with a greater appreciation of the culture, traditions, and art of Africa.  

    Any links to African textiles or art you want to share are welcomed.

Handmade Hats+Natural Hair=Your Own Distinctive Style

Natural hair and hats always seem to compliment one another.  You can make a statement without having to utter one single word.  This past winter, I was introduced to handmade hats and have been hopelessly hooked ever since.  Can’t find exactly what you’re looking for?  Have a hat custom ordered to the style and color you desire.  Check each artist’s Etsy shop for individual shop profiles and information regarding custom orders.  

The following Etsy fiber artists are highly skilled and have created some of the most beautiful head and neck accessories I’ve seen to date.  Mature Natural would rock every one of ’em in a heartbeat!  

KNOTTY LOOP CREATIONS   These glossy pics look like they’re straight out of a high-profile fashion magazine.  I’ve discovered that Knotty Loop Creations owns a unique twist on “the hat set”; the scarflette is just as classy as the hat itself.  Either one can be easily worn alone or together.  How about that for versatility and getting your money’s worth?  Classy + Chic = Classy Chic.

1.  knottyvalentine.jpg        2.  knottybluewhite1.jpg       3.  knottybrownset.jpg      

4.  knottyretroset.jpg        5.  knottcamoflghat1.jpg       6.  knottynkwrmr.jpg

  1. Valentine, $45.00 – Fiery Red Hat and Scarf set.  Scarf is 55 inches long and done in a spiraling fashion.  Can be draped or wrapped.  Hat is one size fits all.
  2. Robin Neckwarmer Set, $40.00 – Hat and neck warmer set provides perfect mix of sass with class.  Set is designed with style in a wonderful light blue and cream yarn.
  3. Winters Warmth, $45.00 – The cap and neckwarmer are done in a mink brown and grey combo. They are crocheted with in an acrylic/wool blend.
  4. Retro-Active, $48.00  – This set is designed with a retro feel in wonderful chocolate and aqua combo.  Hat is great for anyone wearing locks as it expands a bit to fit.
  5. Camouflage Cap, $30.00 – This cap is hand crocheted in a super soft medium worsted yarn.  This medium weight hat is easy care in 100% acrylic.
  6. Honey Cocoa Neckwarmer, $15.00 – This neckwarmer is crocheted in a wonder nylon/acrylic/wool blend.  Mink brown & honey gold with simple wood buttons.

BUTTA.FLY WEARS (aka b.flywears) – Located in Anchorage, Alaska, I believe this sista knows a thing or two about keeping warm.  Can’t help but drool over the colorful designs and texture of Butta.Fly Wears’ neckwarmers.  They look so warm and toasty.  Got medium-to-long locs or a fluffy halo of hair?  She has hats that are definitely and fashionably roomy enough for those of us with big and long hair.  Also check out Butta.Fly Wears blog at butta.flywears.  Textured + Hipness= Textured Hipness.

1.  buttafuschiahat.jpg    2.  buttagoldcamohat.jpg    3.  buttagreenscarf.jpg   

4.  buttasunsetwarmer1.jpg   5.  buttatechhat.jpg   6.  buttercamouwarmer.jpg

  1. Mandara-Fuschia, $35.00 – Crocheted skullcap with a big, beautiful flower accent on the side. The flower is not detachable.  Made with 100% acrylic yarn.
  2. Gold & Camo Crown, $30.00 – Crochet dread crown made with gold & camouflage acrylic.  The crown will hold medium to long locks.
  3. The Mean Green Scarf, $32.00 – A mix of celery, grannysmith, dark khaki, and brown yarns (wool-mohair blend).  Guaranteed to keep you warm.
  4. Alaskan Sunset Neckwarmer, $38.00.  This neckwarmer is made with 100% wool yarns. It will definitely keep your neck & ears toasty on those cold winter days.
  5. Technicolor Dream Cycles Crown, $30.00 – Dread crown is made with 100% acrylic yarns.  This crown will hold medium to long locks.
  6. Camouflage Neckwarmer, $38.00 – This neckwarmer is made with 100% wool yarns.  It will definitely keep your neck & ears toasty on those cold winter days.

RAIMBOW TREE – Raimbow Tree’s intricately felted flower designs and wool headbands are amazing.  I’ve never seen fine art on a headband……until now.  It would be impossible to have a “bad hair day” while wearing one of these.  Raimbow Tree also used some of the most beautiful, colorful yarns I’ve ever seen, hand-dyed and handspun courtesty of  Knitty Dirty Girl Etsy ShopFunky + Elegance = Funky Elegance.

1. rainbowmultihat.jpg  2. rainbowwhtlotushdbd.jpg 3.  rainbowrosehdbd.jpg

4. rainbowredhdbd.jpg  5. rainbowspicescarf.jpg 6. rainbowultrahdbd.jpg

  1. Multicolored Crocheted Natural Fiber Dreadlock Headband, $39.00 -Crocheted free-hand from a number of gorgeous handspun and hand-dyed wool yarns, organic cotton, recycled sari silk, and banana fiber yarns.
  2. White Lotus Flower Felted Wool Headband, $34.00 – Beautiful olive green band.  The Lotus flower has two layers of fluffy white petals from wool and mohair with a vintage button. Headband features two long felted ties you tie up or let dangle down your back.
  3. Ginger Red Roses Felted Wood Headband, $28.00 – Band crocheted from silky wool/ mohair yarn.  Band is a light brown color with a creamy-orange border.  The flowers have been needle felted on.  It secures around your head with two long felted ties.
  4. Special Edition Red Poppy Felted Headband with Sparkle, $33.00 – Red Poppy is felted wool and mohair.  The band crocheted from dyed wool yarn.  The colors are different shades of rich reds, warm pinks and subtle coppers.
  5. Spice Scarflette Crocheted from Handspun/Hand-dyed Yarn, $48.00 –  Shades of mustard, cinnamon, curry, chili, ginger, and cumin all intertwined in this chunky, thin weight yarn.  A big wooden vintage button and some decorative crochet stitching in shades of mustard.
  6. Ultrawarm & Cozy Felted Wool Headband with Elegant Red Poppy, $40.00 – This headband is excellent for a chilly fall or winter day.   Crocheted from 100% wool yarn.  Dark olive band with red felted wool poppy.

Snacking Healthy

I know this sounds crazy, but I eat healthy and snack poorly.  Meals frequently include fresh fruits and vegetables.  I also eat plenty of fresh fish and poultry, rarely red meat.  I’ve been a potato chip fanatic all my life, but the excess sodium is causing some major health issues.  The borderline blood pressure and headaches associated with the excess sodium are no longer worth it.  It’s time for some healthier snack alternatives.

My plan is to try and avoid the potato chips, and opt for more whole grain cereals and crackers.  Incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetable will be easy, as well as low fat snacks (yogurt).  I’m not going to kid myself.  I have to make this plain and simple.  If I don’t, snacking healthy will be a mere memory by the end of 2 weeks.  I want snacks that are healthy, able to satisfy my hunger between meals, and taste good.  Okay, tasting good may be asking for a little too much.  How about at least palatable?  Here are a few of my easy healthy snacks collected so far.

Do-It-Yourself Trail Mix.  I got this idea from my mom.  I love trail mix, but I don’t like ingredients such as M&Ms, roasted nuts, or those yogurt-covered thingies.  However, I do like raw almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds.   Get a Zip-Loc bag and add 1 cup of whole grain cereal (your choice), 1/4 cup of raisins or cranberries, 1/4 cup of almonds, and 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds.  Shake and enjoy.

Do-It-Yourself Pizza.  I have never been a big bread eater, but I do like multigrain bread and bagels.  Buying them fresh from the bakery is even better.  Just add pizza or sphagetti sauce and low-fat mozzarella cheese to bagel or bread.  Bake in the oven until cheese melts. The kids will love these too.

Do-It-Yourself Flavored Green, Black, and Red Teas.  It may not be soda, but tea is so much better for you.  Tea is full of antioxidants which help to strengthen the body’s immune system.  Even though bottled teas can be purchased anywhere, they taste so much better when you make your own.  To make your own flavored tea, just add honey or fruit juices (cranberry, lemon, apple, etc.) to brewed tea.  Enjoy hot or cold.  Try this great recipe from Lipton.

Apple-Cranberry Sparkler (recipe courtesy of Lipton)

2 cups boiling water
4 Lipton® Cup Size Tea Bags
1 cup chilled cranberry juice cocktail
1 cup chilled apple juice
2 tsp. sugar
In teapot, pour boiling water over Lipton® Cup Size Tea Bags. Cover and brew 5 minutes. Remove Tea Bags. In pitcher, combine tea, juices and sugar; chill.
Makes:
4 (8-oz.) servings
Preparation Time:
10 Minute(s)
Chill Time:
15 Minute(s)

Water Bottle.  Need some extra help curbing the hunger between meals?  Purchase a portable water bottle (check out the one below from Target,com) and fill ‘er up.  Drinking water throughout the day helps to keep you feeling full.  It also helps to curb those late night snack attacks.  NOTEThere have been debates about whether or not it’s safe to reuse plastic water bottles.  Some seem to think this may even pose some serious health hazards.  Read this interesting article regarding this from The Green Guide.   

rubbermaidsips.jpg Rubbermaid HipSips Diva Water Bottle, $9.99.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

DID YOU KNOW…………

George Crum (1822-1914) was born to a African-American father and Native American mother.  He invented the potato chip in 1853.  A chef at an upscale New York resort, a customer complained that the french fries were too thick.  After repeated attempts to satisfy the customer, George Crum intentionally cut the potatoes thin, frying them until crispy and brown.  He had hopes of upsetting the customer, but as it turned out, the customer loved them.  The potato chips became a popular item on the menu.  

Potato chips were not manufactured until 1895.  It’s interesting to note that two of today’s most popular potato chip brands, Better Made and Lay’s, weren’t manufactured until 1930 and 1932 respectively, over 77 years after George Crum first invented.  He died at the age of 92 and never obtained a patent for the potato chip.

Read more about George Crum here at Inventor of the Week Archive.

I need to find more healthy snacks.  What are your yours?

It’s All About Comfort

At this stage in my life, comfort rules, especially when it comes to “da feet.”  Nowadays,  heels are reserved for formal events, while on a daily basis I pretty much wear flats or athletic shoes.  I sometimes cringe at the thought of the heels I used to wear back in the day.  Ouch! 

I’ve recently decided to do more walking, so comfortable shoes are required.  My visit to Foot Locker last week showed me that Puma has stepped up their game and have quite a few pairs of noteworthy casual and athletic shoes.  This pair of Pumas is what initially got me all excited.  I saw these over at BeautyNewsNYC.com, but unfortunately, this particular leather style has been hard to find.  I’m going to keep searching though, because I really like this shoe. 

pumanualapushkar.jpg    Puma – Christy Turlington Nuala Pushkar

The following shoes were found at Shoes.com.

pumawhitelinden.jpg Puma Women’s Mandara XC, $74.99 

pumanualachapora.jpg Puma Nuala Chapora Shoe, $90.99

pumanualachaporablk.jpg Puma Nuala Women’s Pushkar Shoe, Sale $62.99

The following handbags were found at Piperlime.com, a Gap company.

pumahandbag.jpg Puma Kick Handbag, $40.00  

 pumahandbag2.jpg Puma Base Grip Bag, $55.00

Check out Puma’s online shopping site which includes Puma clothing, glasses, and fragrance at Puma.com.

Black History Month

Did You Know………

Jan Ernst Matzeliger (1852-1889) was born in Dutch Guiana (Suriname) to a Dutch engineer father and a black mother.  His travels brought him to the U.S. where he eventually settled in Lynn, Massachussetts.  He worked as a machine operator where he manually stitched the upper portion of shoes to the sole.  This process (shoe lasting) was hard work and time consuming, but Jan succeeded where others had failed.  He invented a Shoe Lasting machine which attached the shoe to the sole.  He filed for a patent in 1882.  His invention greatly reduced the cost of making shoes and revolutionized the shoe industry.  Jan Ernst Metzeliger died of tuberculosis at the young age of 37.

Biography.com/African American History/101 Facts

For Unique Valentine’s Day Gifts, Buy Handmade

February is Black History Month and I’m kicking it off with a shout out to the new EAOC (Etsy Artists of Color) street team on Etsy.com.  These artists of color work in all art mediums (jewelry, photography, metal, fiber, clay, paper, etc.) and have created some truly unique and amazing handmade items.  A breathtaking cyberspace tour of art from each member of the EAOC group awaits you on their blog.  

Rho’s Stuff (Etsy) – Brandi is the owner of Rho’s Stuff which has a unique selection of art, jewelry, and handmade cards.  Her “Nappy Valentine’s Day” card is too cute and a must have this Valentine’s Day for those of us who love and appreciate natural hair.  This artist  is obviously adept in more than just one art medium as her pencil/fantasy art prints are amazing.  To see more of them, make sure you also visit rho-cass.deviantart.com

 1.  rhowingedcard.jpg   2.   rhonappycard.jpg   3.  rhohellolv1.jpg

  1. Set of Three 5×7 Winged Heart Fantasy Art Notecards, $6.00
  2. Nappy Valentines Day Funny Afrocentric Handmade Notecard w/Envelope, $4.00.
  3. Hello Love -Valentine Heart Note Card, $4.00

Marcia’s Passion (Etsy) – Marcia Palmer is a very talented polymer clay artist.  For over 30 years, this self-taught artist has explored many mediums; fabric, dyes, clay, and paper just to name a few.  She incorporates captivating colors and designs into her “Art from the Heart” which includes art pins, magnets, pendants, rings, bracelets, etc.  The heart pendants are gorgeous and make perfect Valentine’s Day gifts (hint to hubby).  Marcia is also a proud member of the Polymer Clay Artist Guild of Etsy, so please check out the website at pcagoe.com.  

1.  marciaheartpen.jpg         2.  marciaivoryheart.jpg  

3. marciamokgheart1.jpg          4. marciametallicheart.jpg

  1. Heart Pendant, $18.00.  The designs in this hand formed heart pendant were made using the Japanese metal working technique, Mokume Gane, adapted to polymer clay.  Gold, copper, silver, and black polymer clay were used.  This pendant measures approximately 2″L x 1″W (5cm x 2.5cm). 
  2. Love Letters Pin, $14.00.  A faux ivory heart pin embossed with words of love, or any words you wish to imagine.  The pin measures approx. 2.5″L x 1.25″W (6cm x 3cm). It is 1/8″ thick (4mm).
  3. Mokume Gane Heart Pendant, $14.00.  This pendant measures approximately 1.5″L x 1.25″W (3.75cm x 3cm) and approximately 1/4″ thick.  Silver metal leaf adds highlights throughout the pendant.
  4. Midnight Love, $10.00.  The pendant was designed by embossing a sheet of black polymer clay with a textured pattern and then applying blue, green, and silver metallic powders.  This pendant measures approximately 1.50″L x 1.5″W (4.8cm x 3.8cm). It is approx. 3/16″ thick (5mm).

Jes Playin (Etsy) – Yetunde Rodriguez is a multitalented artist loves sewing, woodworking, soapmaking, knitting, crocheting, and jewelrymaking.  Her utilization of traditional African symbols in her jewelry is impressive.  I enjoyed looking at the jewelry, as well as reading the names of the African symbols and their meanings.  Stay tuned for Jes Playin’s new line of paper goods all based on traditional African symbols done with a modern contemporary flair.   Stationery, paper lanterns, and other home goods which will be added and available March 1, 2008. 

1.  thraftybamboobrace.jpg             2. thraftydwenbrace2.jpg  

3a. thraftywaistlariat.jpg       3b. thraftywaistlariat2.jpg     

4.  thraftyturqpend.jpg

  1. Red Bamboo Bracelet, $12.00.  Make a bold statement with this simple cuff.  Funky, chunky, and environmentally friendly bamboo is also lightweight.  It stands approximately 1.75″ tall with a 7.5″ length.
  2. Dwennimmen Bracelet, $15.00.  This bracelet is inspired by the Adinkra symbol “Dwenimmen”.  Dwenimmen” is the symbol for strength of mind, body, and spirit, as well as humility and wisdom. 
  3. a. & b.  Funmi – Lariat WaistLace, $35.00 – Funmi” (Yoruba for ‘give me’) is unique in that it is one size fits most. No sizing issues to worry about, and no clasps to fumble with.  Beaded rope of 100 inches folds over itself to ‘clasp’ lasso-like, snug (or loose) against your waist.  The remainder just hangs loose only to shimmy and shake as you glide.   This piece can also be used as a necklace or bracelet!
  4. Clasp-free Turquoise Bead Necklace with Wooden Pendant, $15.00.  Simply wind the necklace around your neck and slip the pendant through the fold of the necklace, and wahla! it’s on.  It’s that simple to put on.  The pendant is approximately 2″ in diameter.