New book review format at Pride Magazine

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I’m excited to share the new Pride magazine book review format! 

You’ll notice we’re featuring more books: four adult books and one for kids. The previous format was an extended review of just one book.

The new format is the brainchild of Pride editor, Lashawnda Becoats. 

This means I get to introduce even more books by African American authors to Pride readers.

Hard to believe I’ve been doing the Pride Book Review for 13 years. I appreciate Dee Dixon, Pride Communications CEO, for being open to the idea when I pitched it way back when.

The January/February issue, pictured below, is full of great articles and includes the annual CIAA Tournament calendar.

Find Pride magazines just about everywhere, including some Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries.

My Women’s March Experience

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Here’s my essay in the literary journal,  ChangeSeven on the Women’s March on Washington.  I embarked upon this journey with my friend, Gail Summerskill. I answered a call for writers  from editor, Sheryl Monks and the crazy woman agreed to publish my piece and even asked for more! I’ve enclosed an excerpt and a link to the story below.

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Me and my bud, Gail Summerskill. We traveled to the Women’s March on Washington. This was a selfie we took on the day of the March, January 21.

EXCERPT: We probably should have taken a selfie or something, but we didn’t. We’re just trying to get it together, and of course I’m running late. At about 11:15 pm Thursday, my husband Robert dropped me off at my friend Gail’s house, along with my duffle bag, two medium-sized insulated meal bags, several bottles of water and my pillow. Gail, 63, is my bud. We met 14 years ago when we were both looking for a writing group to join. She’s the kind of person who makes friends wherever she goes. She’s genuine, caring, kind, and she has blazing red hair she keeps fresh from a bottle “for drama.”

She’s white and I’m black, and when it comes to our friendship, race doesn’t matter. It’s not that we don’t see or appreciate each other’s race; we do. But when it comes to our friendship, it’s about being friends, caring about each other’s causes and being there for one another.

Read the entire essay here

Did I do that? An @KonMari_method mistake?

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I’ve started re-hanging the clothes that I have already accepted with joy into my life because frankly, I could only handle seeing my “hangable” clothes in a massive pile on the floor for so long.

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Picture my nice “hang-ables” on the floor. I couldn’t picture them there long which is why you don’t see them now!

Not sure if I was supposed to do that, but because Kondo says we can sort in sections, I figured I was okay.

Now that those items are back, my closet seems extra packed, even though I’ve reduced it by two garbage bags!

Part of the problem is that Kondo has us putting all seasons together. I usually separate my closet into fall/winter and spring/summer, switching out each season.

Closet was feeling too full after combining all seasons in one!

Closet was feeling too full after combining all seasons in one!

Now I am facing a packed, all-seasons closet and more clothes will need to go in there as I still have “sets” and “light jackets” to consider. This has made me question my original joyous decisions.

  • Is everything newly replaced in the now overflowing closet really a joy-sparker?
  • Did I cheat on some decisions and let my practical brain take over?
  • What if an item didn’t spark joy, but sparked a lot of compliments, should I have kept it?

If I do love everything in there, as long as it sparks joy, that’s supposed to be fine. At the same time I don’t think it would hurt to run them by one more sorting phase, just to be sure. I don’t receive joy from an overfull closet.

So before I go any further, I am going to add a step: trying on the items I have already re-hung and once again asking myself, “Does this spark joy? No really, I mean it this time…JOY!?”

Maybe I should have added that step before I moved to rehanging, or maybe I should have been more discerning with my previous decisions.

Not sure how long this added step is going to take. Kondo says the whole discarding process from clothes to books, then papers and beyond could take half a year. I’m committed to seeing this process through, so stay tuned! Check out this video for more visuals! 

Still enthusiastic (kinda) about the @KonMari_method

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So I’ve been Marie Kondo-ing my immediate surroundings, starting with my clothes. From the piles I am selecting those items that bring me joy.

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This is just one section of clothes I've piled up to sort.

I have limited time so while I took all clothes from my closets and drawers, and shoes from everywhere, I’ve had to sort them in sections, doing chunks at a time.

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I’ve probably made it through about half of my wardrobe heap and started re-hanging certain items, attempting to order them so they “rise to the right.” This rising to the right business seems somewhat subjective. More on that later.

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Are these clothes "rising to the right?" I hope so.

So far, I’ve got a garbage bag full of non-joy for Goodwill and a smaller pile for possible consignment.

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To Goodwill and a second phase of life for these items.

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This pile for consignment.

It’s been both a grueling and energizing experience.  Grueling because I am blessed with a huuuge amount of clothes that need sorting. Energizing because I am ridding myself of items that are not joyous in my life, so I feel lighter. Lighter is good.

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These hangers represent a lighter me.

Marie Kondo “Konverts” please to share your KonMari experiences.

Empty your purse at night? @KonMari_method says yes

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If you empty your purse at night, you rest your handbag and it lasts longer says Marie Kondo.

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So I tried it the other night. If you empty the bag, you have to find a place to put the contents. I found this clear shoebox.

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Doing this gave me a different feeling, I don’t know, more organized and in control.

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I placed the purse upside down on top of the box, my own idea to avoid germs, lol. In the future I suppose I could wipe the bottom :-).

That morning I refilled the purse, opting to leave out some items, like a stack of other people’s business cards. (Kondo says we don’t need them anyway).

I am so hard on handbags, this Konmari idea is the perfect plan for purse preservation!

Marie Kondo is a genius!

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Finally a decluttering method that speaks to both my head and my heart, the Konmari method.
 
The basics:
1) Keep only what sparks joy in your life.
2) A fabulous folding method that maximizes the space in your drawers.
3) Organizing advice that begins with a strict editing of your belongings via category, not room.

Here is one of the best summaries I’ve found on the Konmari technique.

So guess what I am doing with the rest of my time off?

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Getting ready for Konmari!

You guessed it! Taking advantage of an entire day to focus on dealing with my stuff, starting with my clothes. Above is one section of my closet before.

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And here is my pants drawer before. Well, times a-wastin’, gotta get back to it.

A morning in the life of a backyard composter

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I love composting. Even though I’m not using the compost right now, it just feels good to know my food waste isn’t going to a landfill. Instead it is helping to create a mini eco-system right in my backyard!  On most Saturday mornings,  I add some food waste to my bin and it is always incredibly easy. First I create a nice hole in my bin. I use an old rake handle and I just dig around and around.image Then I dumped in the waste I had been collecting all week. imageI use empty spinach and kale containers to collect my food waste. I get them from a big box shopping club store since I eat alot of fresh spinach and kale.

Part of my weekly food waste collection

Once the hole is made, it’s all about stirring the waste materials around and keeping the water flowing. It reminds me of the human digestive process, but for nature.

Dump, water, stir

You can see that I then fill in with leaves, patting everything back in place. The last step for me is to add some more leaves from my leaf pile and lots of water to keep the pressure on the compost. As long as I follow these steps, I don’t have to worry about animals digging around, looking for what I put in there. The material  breaks down into rich, dark compost, waiting for me, if and when I ever choose to use it.

Composting doesn’t have to be that difficult. To learn more, visit Mecklenburg County’s waste management site: www.wipeoutwaste.com.

My current (yummy) lunch situation. Thank you @thefoodbabe

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My current lunch situation: Open face soft taco with “meat,” salsa and avocado.

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“Meat” recipe courtesy of Food Babe. Secret: it’s made with cauliflower and lentils! Food Babe’s delicious taco meatless recipe.

Soup for now and later

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Made a huge pot of 3-bean vegetable soup. My secret: strain, portion and freeze the broth from a pot of beans and save for later.

Also, less than energetic romaine lettuce makes a delicious broth with onions, garlic and other spices.

Strain, discard/compost the solids and use the broth as a base for soup.

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I now have two quart jars to nibble on this week, 3 pint-sized bags to freeze, half a pint for a snack today and 1 pint to share with some lucky soul.

I created my first video!

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Yes, I am very proud of myself for this accomplishment :-). Making this video about the Ellen Cherry Experience presented by the Assorted Table Wine Shoppe  (located at 7th Street Public Market) was a labor of love because the wine, food and music made for one fantastic evening and I loved it!

For those of you who may not know, my first job out of South Carolina’s journalism school was that of a television reporter for the local affiliate in my hometown. As a General Assignments reporter, I did it all. I shot, wrote and edited all my own stories. In addition to meeting and interviewing all sorts of interesting people, the video-editing part was also a favorite task. These days tools such as Windows Live Movie Maker make video editing so easy. What makes me even happier is that I accomplished this feat without the help of any Apple products!

Since I often take pictures using a photojournalist’s eye, putting together the still photos for the video wasn’t difficult at all. So glad I took that photojournalism class as skills learned there taught me how to look for the story in the shot. (Although all those aperture settings drove me crazy, hee.)

Enjoy the video and tell me what you think! Of course, this was November 2013, not 2014 as my movie title suggests. I’ll make that correction and update the blog later. Journalists hate making errors, Sigh.

Snow Day City, USA

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A snow day inspires more posting!

Just wanted to say hello to my wonderful blog followers and general readers. It has been almost a year since you heard from me. I’m doing well. Just busy as always. I really enjoy blogging so I need to get back to it, right? I’m enjoying a snow day today, which means a day full of alerting the public about our snow day, resting, cooking, watching some mindless t.v. and meandering back to my blog. I’m setting a challenge for myself: A minimum of a blogpost every week, about whatever is on my mind, from fashion to football to fiction and beyond.

How does one spend a snow day? Earlier I watched ABC’s “The Chew” and I want to make these yummy looking wings: http://abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/recipes/blow-your-mind-baked-chicken-wings-daphne-oz.

I also made myself a Chicken and Greens soup with chicken, garlic, collard greens, kale, green peppers and anything else I could find in the fridge. I love soup. I really love soup.

Tasty soup made from what's in the fridge, yum!

Tasty soup made from what’s in the fridge, yum!

I checked in with my mom and dad who live in Florence and Atlanta respectively. They both survived the wintry weather there and are doing fine. And then comfort fooded myself with some chocolate chop cookies and coffee. Even got a little writing done. Now I think I need a nap. Yes I’m also fighting off a cold and rest really is the best remedy.

If you had a snow day today, how did you spend it?

When to say YES! to the dress

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I bought three new items the other day which inspired me to ponder when it’s okay to add items to the closet.

As many of you know, I’m pretty much a “shop your closet kind of girl.” I rarely buy new clothes and instead prefer to use the fabulous items already in my closet in new and creative ways.

Howeva! The other day I noticed that Ivy and Leo in uptown was having one of its monster 75% off sales.

I gave a quick perusal and found three items that fit my “say yes to the dress” philosophy.

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One was a fuschia felt pea coat. Why yes? Great color for my skin, love the belted pea coat for my hour-glass shape, and the price at $23 seemed like a steal.

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Then I found this cute jade green number. A bit shorter than I usually go for, but tights or leggings would solve that problem. Also, I love the “cold shoulder” cut-outs and the color makes my skin pop. With the sale: $10!image

Finally, came across this take on an animal print. Teal blue and beige with some reptile skin and leopard spots mixed in. Add my curves and you’ve got a show-
stopper that can work on the beach or the dance floor, depending upon accessories and mood. Price? $13!

Conclusion: Three new items for under $50! A veritable fashion coup!

What made me say yes to the dress?
1) Is the color good for my skin? YES!
2) Figure-flattering? YES!
3) Can the item be mixed in with what I already own? YES!
4) Must be timeless…able to extend beyond the trends YES!
4) Will the purchase keep me within my budget for the month? Wellll…..

2012 in review for my blog

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Thank you WordPress.com stats helper for preparing this 2012 annual report for my blog, Angelic Musings.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

She shops her closet! One more reason to love Michele Obama

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Election Night 2012 gave us a first family that was radiant, happy and highly fashionable.

Photo Credit: TheGrio

The dress Michele Obama wore that night looked familiar and this blog I found confirmed it. She shopped her closet for Election night!  Mrs. O exemplifies real women! If you’ve got a great dress, who says you can’t wear it again?  Many celebrities from Oprah Winfrey to Angelina Jolie never do. Michele Obama is both confident and courageous enough to re-wear an outfit, knowing she will be photographed on each occasion, not only in the U.S., but around the world. Kudos to Mrs. O! If our closet is truly our castle (as mine certainly is) and we are buying only those clothes that we love and look great on us, a really good frock SHOULD be given another chance to shine — This goes for whether we’re a first lady, a regular woman, or both.

30 minute writing revelation

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Lovely followers, you might find me writing more about fiction than fashion these days as I have set a goal to complete the second draft of my young adult novel in the next six months.

My main character has four coming of age dilemmas and from 12:00 to 12:30 a.m. on 9/13, I decided to tackle the parental issue.

The novel opens with an explosion between the parents, but I realize (thanks ctitique group) that I left too many unanswered questions on the table. Why that night? Why did the fight lead to a split? I won’t tell you the anwers, but I will say that I came up with some answers.

How? By forcing myself to write non-stop for 30 minutes. In creative writing circles it’s called “free-writing”. I used old fashioned pen and paper, just letting the thoughts flow from brain to finger to paper.

Afterwards, I chronicled the experience here in my blog using my trusty Samsung Galaxy II and the WordPress app.

Let’s hope this is the beginning of a new trend.

Crushed Red Pepper

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What a weird past few weeks! I feel like God is reckoning with me on some things that I obviously still need to learn.

I was in a car accident Wednesday, Aug. 9. I’m okay. My car, unfortunately, is not okay, although she could be worse.

On that day, a series of events that could have easily gone one way, ended up going in a completely different direction. And the new, revised direction led to a series of events that resulted with me rear-ending a car in rush-hour traffic on Central Avenue.

I never get into car accidents. Little Red Pepper, aka Crimson and Creme, aka CiCi, aka The Red Belle, aka my favorite car to date, has lived a clean and innocent life. Her worst offense? Tooling around town, daring other cars to take her on as she morphs into warp speed  (sixth gear), smoking mere metal mortals.

Something so boring as driving to Fuel Pizza on Central Avenue after working late seems like an anti-climax to what Little Red Pepper might normally do.

Yep, we were just driving along in bumper-to-bumper traffic, merging into the left lane in front of Something Classic so I could be ready to turn left at Fuel. I saw a for-sale sign on the right and I wondered if that new restaurant, Bistro La Bon  was still in business. I kept my head turned just a tad bit too long, but I thought that the car in front of me had turned left and traffic was moving again. CRASH! I was wrong on both counts. Bistro La Bon was indeed still open for business and there was a new car in front of me, and that car was not moving.

Normally after work I go straight home, but I was so hungry after working late that I decided to get dinner early so I could hurry home and work on my new favorite project: Transforming my guest bedroom.

A slice of veggie on whole wheat from Fuel had my name on it and I could just about taste it and imagine my satisfied hunger. Instead, I found myself exchanging insurance information with the owner of a Nissan Rogue while waiting on a police officer.

The tag line “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down,” seems appropriate for me with what I have been dealing with lately.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like a “Weeble” as I am pushed this way and that by life’s ups and downs. Wobbly, but not flattened.

There were so many bright sides to this Wobbly situation. 1) nobody was hurt 2) I have car insurance that will pay for the Rogue owner’s car and 3) my car (hopefully) is reparable. (Still waiting to hear back from my insurance company.) 4) My insurance will cover most of my repairs 5) My insurance will pay for most of my car rental. 6) A really good friend called at just the right time and provided some well-needed moral support and assistance.

So in the midst of turmoil, it’s helpful to remember the bright side.

In the meantime, I am addressing those items in my life that need balance and are forcing me to examine my own behaviors. Not ready to share those details yet, but maybe in the future.

Thanks for taking the time to experience my blog!

Fashionista spotted at the light rail

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I caught another fashionista in action while modeling for the “inner funky” video at the light rail station near the Epicentre weeks ago. Her name: Jasmine Lotharp. And as far as fashion essence, hers slapped me in the face like a helping of my mom’s homemade banana pudding. First came the short spiky hair in “I’m not afraid to rock it” red. Now if shocking hair colors aren’t your thing, and I’ll have to say drastic color isn’t always mine, you might have turned away and never turned back. But if you were like me at that moment, you couldn’t stop looking! The reward? A serving of style with Jasmine’s short, but not too short purple tank dress accented with tasteful neck cut-outs. The ultimate accessory? Check out those leopard print shoes.  Sorry I didn’t hold the camera on them long enough!  I was so taken by this undeniable display of fashionable individuality, I asked the photographer to stop in the middle of my own shoot so I could talk to her.  Here is our unedited talk. Really funny lady. She’s just 18 years old and she wants to go to fashion school one day. With her uncanny sense of style, I’d say that dream will become a reality. If you listen closely to the video, you’ll see that the guys left a lot to be desired when compared to their well-dressed companions. (Another blog, another day  for male fashion.) Thanks to Jasmine for a fun first interview!

Merits of the “stay-cation”

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I’ve been on stay-cation since Monday. It’s been sort of a stealth stay-cation because I’ve felt guilty about well, just being at home. I did spend part of it with my mother last week, but I also planned to spend a few days “with myself”.

Having breakfast on the deck, thinking, recharging are essential stay-cation activities. I think I originated the stay-cation, before it was cool!

Some 15 years ago in one of my previous positions, I would take about a week off in the summer. After a very busy and active school year, I was often mentally exhausted and needed some time off.

“Doing anything special?” folks would ask me.
“No, not really,” I’d reply, thinking nothing of it. “Just hanging around the house.”

The following year, when I would take a week off again, I’d get the same thing:
“Going anywhere for your vacation?” someone would say.
“Er, no. Relaxing at home.” Didn’t everyone do this?

At that point in my life I was starting out again in the traditional professional world after spending two years in graduate school and three years as a full-time Residence Hall Director where you lived your life in a fishbowl. Your time was never really yours, it was shared with your residents, staff, supervisors and graduate program. You were encouraged to take time off because everyone knew how hard you worked and the expectation was that you’d be there for your residents and/or staff if need be at three in the morning and beyond.

Because of that non-traditional background, I was not aware of the “unwritten rules” for vacationing. Over time I began to observe that the only time you were “supposed” to take a vacation was if you were going out of town. Otherwise, you were to remain at work, maybe only taking a day off here and there. I remember hearing someone say once that yes, we have vacation but “who has time to take it all.”

What I learned was that in the traditional working world, you were to be the “toiling worker”, who always puts the job first and who rarely takes time off because “there is just too much work to do.”

If you were not that person, you were probably not going to get recommended for promotions and in addition, you were perceived as being lazy and/or not having a good work ethic. Wanting to be seen as a team player with a good work ethic, I stopped taking my weeks off for me and I embraced the toiling worker mentality.

I have to add that I am grateful to my previous employer for allowing me to obtain an additional graduate degree while working full-time. Still, during that three year time-period while in grad school, I rarely took any time off, except for the two weeks (one in Spring and one in Fall) when I attended my on-campus residency. I was very conscious of being allowed to have those two weeks off and I always made sure my colleagues knew how much I appreciated it. I understood the message: Don’t take too much time off.

Of course in the current economy, this feeling has been enhanced. You don’t want to be gone for too long, or you may feel as if you can be easily replaced. However, recently there have been many discussions about the idea of work/life balance for both men and women. What is the price of the toiling worker mentality? Who benefits and who suffers?

What I have now come to realize is that I NEED the occasional stay-cation so that I can write, piddle about the house, eat on the deck, work on various gardening projects, cook and plan meals, work-out as long as I want to, run basic errands I never have time to complete otherwise, and just do whatever I please. I am mentally frazzled without this opportunity and I am a better employee who is able to be more focused when allowed this type of break.

Gardening helps clear my mind. I love to prepare flower/vegetable beds with rich composting materials that encourage earthworms, nature’s tillers.

I’ve also spent this time developing a shopping/cooking schedule for the rest of the summer. I love to cook, yet I like to be efficient about it. Knocking out three meals in one sitting to freeze for later is very relaxing.

My basic books for meal-planning.

I think I also have a problem. Shhhh, I enjoy my own company. I rarely run out of things to do.  I guess this is why I have remained single for so long. I haven’t required company! (Although a compatible partner would be nice.) Hmm, perhaps a plan to meet this compatible partner needs to be a future stay-cation activity, LOL!

Closing, I want to say that I am MERCIFULLY appreciative of having a job that I enjoy in this uncertain economy. I am also thankful for all of my previous employment situations where I have learned a great deal and made wonderful long-lasting friendships.

Your thoughts? Do you stay-cation? Please follow my blog!

I-shops-my-closet dilemma #2: Channeling the inner funky

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So last week I prepared for my photo shoot. No, the current banner image was not my first choice. I just haven’t been able to put together the banner image I wanted with my current resources.

Then in walked Telow MowZus Baugh, of Just Imagine Photography. He’s a one year Charlotte newcomer and veteran photographer. It was serendipitous.  He understood my banner concept, and agreed to shoot it at a very reasonable rate, but first he wanted to shoot a video interview that captured my artistic essence. Warning! His portfolio is more risque than I’m used to and I won’t be modeling any boudoir photos! But check it out anyway. (It’s not for children!)
My artistic essence? But what IS my artistic essence?  There’s the traditional me. The 9-5 me. The me that most see and the me that I grew up with. Conservative, not too much cleavage and definitely matching.

But…somewhere, deep down inside, below the conservative outer shell is a funky artist diva.  But how to reach that inner artist?  Is it possible to put together a funky, artistic look by using what’s in my closet?

I-shops-my-closet dilemma #2. How to locate your inner funky.

I surveyed my closet. Visions of my 9-5 stared back. I started breathing fast. Calm down, there has to be a logical way to approach this.  Ahh, start with your funkiest accessories, I told myself.  My Darrell Roach Designs (DRD) earrings are one my funkiest accessories. Darrell is a NC bred celebrity jewelry designer who now resides in LA. I met him in 2006 at a beauty shop where he was hawking his wares. When I saw his work, I realized I had to have something from him.  I wear one of his rings and a bracelet daily. His work has donned the likes of Susan Taylor, Eva Marcille, Beyonce, and most recently, Prince! Yes, Mr. Purple Rain himself.

The earrings are neutral copper hoops with whispery orange stones. I abolutely love them! He designed a set of bracelets that complement them. With them, I often wear a necklace designed by another Charlotte designer, Mary B. Sanders of Mahogany Mary. She is an up and coming designer who will be forming her own website and blog soon!

So the next question I asked myself was, what colors look best on my skin that also go with the earrings? I decided on an Island orange sleeveless knit top that I’ve had for years. I paired it with one of my favorite neutrals, my leopard print skirt. Bottoming out the look: a pair of my favorite funky sandals. 

Here’s one of the photos from the shoot. For the most part, I love how the outfit  turned out! After a two-hour shoot, we were losing daylight, but somehow MowZus captured what light was available juxtaposed with the orangey glow of the light rail benches. The result? Funky, Achieved.


My Steps
1) Start with your funkiest accessory or item of clothing.
2) Next find the colors that look best on your skin and also go with the funky item.
3) Make sure that all pieces fit well and are figure flattering.
4) Pay attention to detail. What undergarments do you need to make sure to have a smooth line underneath? I love Spanx and Assets. I find them extremely comfortable and extremely forgiving!
5) What about the hair? What hairstyle adds to your funky? In my case I set my hair in twists, wore it up to work and then took out the twists later to form a sort of loose crimped look for the shoot.
6) Check out the look in the mirror, do you feel both funky and at ease with the look? Then you’re all set!
Note: I feel I look a bit more lumpy than I’d like in the photo. I looked much smoother in the mirror. They say photos add five pounds (or was it ten?). A smoother line underneath or a less form-fitting top might have worked better. But overall, I’m pleased!

How about you?
Ever had to channel a part of yourself you or others don’t often get to see? Maybe you’ve had to go from conservative to funky, or from funky to conservative. How did you achieve the different look? What worked or didn’t work? Please comment and share with me and others.

Really neat scarf organizer!

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One of the first steps in maintaining an “I-shops-my-closet” lifestyle is to have an organized closet that allows you to easily see what’s there. My scarves were a problem point for me. I had them “organized”, but in a way that wasn’t very useful.

Here’s what my scarf organization used to look like: 

I used one of those accordion style wooden peg hangers. Many of my scarves were buried and it was hard to find them. They often fell to the floor, also. Boo!

Although it was cool the way my scarves decorated the wall, I could never really SEE all of them. I had tried other options in the past, scarf hangers, belt hangers. None of them worked. So I went to YouTube, did a search for “scarf organization” and found an inspirational  video.  Theeasydiy used clear shower curtain rings and a plastic hanger to hang her scarves.

I decided to take the same idea, but I used pvc pipe cut to size ($3.00), a chain I already had at home (free!) and the shower curtain rings ($1.25 for 12 from dollar store, I used three boxes $4.00).

I strung the pipe with the chain, used a key ring circle (.97 for two from Home Depot) to connect the ends of the chain, pulled the scarves through the curtain rings and hung them on the wall, using two nails for each side of the chain. Since the peg hanger was now empty, I used it for my necklaces. I LOVE the new look!

Here’s what my scarf organization looks like now! 

Please comment and tell me what you think of my adaptation to theeasydiy’s idea. What scarf organization ideas have worked for you?

Fashionistas spotted in Baltimore!

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As you might have guessed, I love fashion. I also love to observe how other women express themselves through their clothes. On the last day of the VOCUS Users Conference, I got brave and based on advice given by one of the speakers, Dayna Steele, I did as any ‘rock star” would. I asked. And then I snapped. Check out these stylish women. What do you think?

Innovative Individuality

Spotted at conference: Looking Goood!

This young diva (Amy) was fashionably casual all week. I had to snap this photo.The skinny jeans paired with the casual wedges and printed knit top made a statement of style great for my blog.

Creative Conference Fashion

Another creative look I just couldn’t pass by. Loved the hair, the snappy shawl and my favorite, the green flats which are perfect for lots of airport walking. Go Veleisa!

Great casual pieces working together

Catherine did a great job of working casual pieces (beige flats, jean top and red patterned skirt) to form a comfortable, yet pulled together look. The big red bag (though she tried to hide it) was a roomy, hobo style bag that iced this very fashionable cake.

And finally, rocking my “I-shops-my-closet” look

Me, rocking one of my red-striped blouse dilemma outfits.

I thought I’d add my own casual last day of conference look. Yes, it’s from my previous blog post. One of the looks devised from the red striped blouse

I-Shops-My-Closet fashion dilemma: What to do with a red, white and grey top?

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So I have this red, white and grey top. I love this top! It has three quarter length sleeves and a v-neck that starts buttoning about 6″ from the collar, making it great for necklace wearing.

A really great red striped top has lost its partner. Time for an “I shops my closet” solution!

It’s the type of top that can double as a blouse or a jacket. I usually wear it with my heather grey slacks, but last fall those slacks were quarantined to the off-season closet until I could squeeze back into them. So…what to do with this perfectly good blouse now missing its favorite partner?

First step: Evaluate the colors in the top and examine my closet for items with similar colors.

White? I could wear it as a jacket with a white tee or camisole underneath and then pair with white bottoms.  I have lots of white tees and camisoles, but I don’t have any white bottoms. Since white tends to make things look bigger, with “alla my backside”,  I rarely wear white bottoms.

Grey? I only have the grey pants and they are on ice. All of my other bottoms are either black solids, or prints that would clash. Black would work and is one of my favorite neutrals, but sometimes I get tired of wearing black all the time.

Red?  Wait a minute, I have a solid red skirt, a red dress, a red sleeveless sweater, two red belts and at least three pairs of red shoes!

Once I pulled them out, I have about 5 pairs of red shoes and 2 red belts!

Step Two: Try on the items to see how they look together.
I slipped on the shirt and the skirt. Ding-ding-ding-ding, WINNER! Just need something to nip in the waist. The red patent leather belt? Too dark. The red belt with the silver buckle? BINGO!

Red striped top with red knit skirt and red stretchy belt. Ding-Ding-Ding!

Now the shoes. First up, The red open toe mule sandals. They’d do in  a rush. Very comfortable, just not as sharp of a look as I’d like with this outfit. The red ankle-strap closed toe shoes? Classics that give a sort of “Mad Men” feel. They’d work. Finally, the patent-leather Mary Janes. Ding-ding-ding-ding! WINNER!

The red patent leather Mary Janes add just the right playful touch to an outfit that features lots of red! Can you believe those shoes were less than $40!

What about this red sleeveless sweater?  Would it work as a vest?  I slipped it on over the top and while it does look nice, perhaps the two reds clash? What do you think? I have worn the combination before.

Looking at the red from the skirt and the sweater, they seem to clash a bit. One is orangey and one has blue undertones. I’ve worn them together before, not sure if I’d wear the skirt and sweater together again. However the blouse and sweater would go fine with my heather grey slacks or another neutral bottom.

But wait, there’s more! Remember the red dress I told you about? Belting the top over the dress netted me yet another look.

Red-striped top worn as a jacket over red dress.

And finally, one last outfit. I forgot that I had a white sleeveless sweater exactly like the red one. The white sweater over the top resulted in a look that goes nicely with my many black neutrals, or maybe even the red skirt!

White sweater vest works out great with the top. What a finale!

So this little exploratory session netted  four new looks using a lonely striped top.

Lessons Learned

  •  If you haven’t worn something in a year, instead of throwing it out as some experts say, take a second look at it. Why aren’t you wearing it? Try it with things you already own and with accessories you already have. Even if you think you might not like the look, try it anyway with just you and your mirror, you may be surprised.
  • Always try to come up with two looks per item. This helps you extend your wardrobe.
  • When buying clothes, avoid the trends. Buy things that are flattering to your figure because they NEVER go out of style.
  • Maintenance tip: Always keep your shoes clean, shined and in good repair.

I shops my closet

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I shops my closet. That’s right. It all started in 2006 when I challenged myself to stop buying clothes. Yes, I wanted to save money. In 2006 who didn’t? Besides, I had just bought a car after years without a car payment and I wasn’t used to the pocketbook hit. What would happen if I stopped buying clothes for awhile?

So that year I didn’t buy any new clothes. Well, I made exceptions for shoes and undies and only if they wore out! I also allowed myself to buy the occasional workout garment.

What did I learn?
1) I’ve been blessed with great clothes.
2) Choosing from a limited number of options forced me to get creative.
3) I finally started chipping away at my alterations pile.
4) Did I mention I have great clothes?

I’ll explain more about those lessons in future posts. A couple of things began to happen along the way as well. In the past, whenever someone invited me to a concert or a wedding or a special event, I would have stressed and felt the need to go shopping to find something.  With a moratorium on buying new clothes, I began to shop my closet, putting together outfits from what I already had. Six years later I still limit my clothes spending! Below is an example of a recent  “I shops my closet” adventure, an outfit I put together for a jungle themed baby shower, all from items already in my closet.  I’d love to hear about your closet adventures!

Outfit I wore to a jungle themed baby shower recently

Blouse: 7 years old. Crocheted corset: 10 years old. Skirt: 8 years old

May/June Pride magazine and book review is out!

You must put the Business issue of Pride Magazine on your reading list. It’s a great resource to learn about our community members who are making successful businesses happen!

And let’s not forget that book review by Yours Truly.  You’ll find an eyes wide open view of Black culture in its many forms. As always, you’re treated to a taste of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Pick up your free copy of Pride today!

Thanks Aunt Bettye! Unboxing my new Instant Pot 

We have an Instant Pot. It’s a wedding gift from my godmother, Aunt Bettye. At this moment I’m smelling black bean soup I made in 15 minutes. Two weeks ago I made an “unboxing” video, which is a thing. Can’t wait to try this amazing-smelling soup. I’ll tell you how it turned out.

First the unboxing video

I think I found my tribe

I made an agreement with myself, and it looks like I may keep it.

My challenge, as always, is making time for writing.

As a marketing and communications professional, I am always writing, but it’s almost always for others.

In my creative writing classes, I implore my students to make time for writing, while I rarely claim the same for myself.

Last Monday, last class day for 4 weeks, something clicked — and connected . If I can give my students a piece of me for 6 weeks, could I not share me with myself for 4?

I quickly researched a coworking space that was convenient and reasonable and well, I gave me my first Monday yesterday. And I’m back here today. On a Tuesday.

Being here makes me feel at peace and creative. They have coffee, hot water and a fridge, couches, tables and a microwave. They have soothing music.

Get this: membership comes with access to meeting rooms and a podcasting studio!

If I’m able to get here no more than the once per week I originally planned over the next four weeks, the investment will be more than worth it.

Buut, if today is any indication, I will likely be using my new Advent office much, much more.

Charlotte Writing Academy’s Debra Funderburk wants to help writers at the grassroots level

Finally this article!

Wanted to let everyone know about the Charlotte Writing Academy Conference coming to Charlotte on November 5, 2015 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Pineville.

Conference Founder, Debra Funderburk wants to help all writers, and especially those interested in self-publishing, develop the skills they need for success through the Charlotte Writing Academy Conference.

She asked me to be one of the presenters at the conference and I was honored. I was also curious, so I sat down with her weeks ago, to gain an understanding of her goals and the purpose of the conference.

A writer herself, Funderburk said she was inspired to start the Charlotte Writing Academy after working with other writers who wanted to become published authors, but were stuck trying to learn all the steps.

With a flair for teaching and organizing,  Funderburk realized that writers needed a safe place to learn, so she put her talents to use to form the Charlotte Writing Academy. The conference was the natural next step after creating the Academy. Through the conference, in its second year, she found she could reach a concentrated number of writers and connect them with needed resources.

Last year’s conference was such a hit, she decided to make it an annual event.

What will writers find at this year’s conference?

The focus of this year’s conference is “The Writer’s Market”. Funderburk understands that while many people may have a “book in them” waiting to be unleashed, they also need to understand the business of writing. Self-publishing can be very expensive, so she hopes to help writers save time, money and resources through the conference sessions and the opportunity to network.

A highlight of the conference will be the keynote speaker, Jason Mott, the author of the award-winning novel, The Returned and his new book, The Wonder of all Things.

Funderburk will view this year’s conference as successful from the eyes of someone who truly wants to help people. “I look at success in a different light…if someone comes to me with a problem and I can help them solve it, then that’s a huge success for me, and that’s what I hope the Charlotte Writing Academy and the conference will be for participants.

Debra Funderburk, Charlotte Writing Academy Founder discusses upcoming conference

Debra Funderburk, Charlotte Writing Academy Founder discusses upcoming conference

Charlotte Writing Conference Schedule REGISTER HERE It’s not too late!!

Thursday, November 5th
Pre-Conference Writing Workshop
Evening Kickoff Celebration

Friday, November 6th
Amazon: An Author’s Best Friend – Susan Sloate
Secrets to keeping your readers glued to your book – Craig Faris
Performance: Every author is a Speaker – Lisa Heidrich
The Business of Writing – Cathy Pickens
Using the power of feminine energy to unlock creativity – Dr. Lori Davis
Writing: The Heart Approach – Angela Haigler
I’ve finished my book, now what? An authors checklist – Susan Sloate

Saturday, November 7th
Morning Improv
Panel Discussion
Marketing Session
Prizes & Give Aways
Dinner & Awards Banquet
Book Fair