Thursday, December 31, 2009

Design of a MyBrownBaby Decade: Five Significant Events That Changed My Life

My bloggy friend, Ms. Wanda of Somewhere Over the 40th Rainbow, wrote a clever post yesterday in which she shared the five most significant events in her life between 2000 and 2009—our soon-to-be-finished decade; in her post, Ms. Wanda implored her readers to share a list of their own. I admit: I had quite a time remembering my last 10 years—the blessings, the beauty, the energy, the sadness. For sure, it was a helluva decade for me. Here, the five things I'll never forget (in no particular order):

God worked a second miracle for me and gave me my Lila, adding on to the most beautiful title any woman could ever have: Mommy. She joined her sister, Mari, who was born in the Prince party year—1999.

My beautiful mother, Bettye, went on to fly with the angels—leaving behind a husband, a son, a daughter, two granddaughters, and a gaping hole in my heart that will never, ever heal. I miss you, Mommy.

Reaching for peace and in search of satisfaction, Nick and I sold our New Jersey home, packed up our family and moved to Georgia—and never looked back. Everything we were looking for, we found.

With my babies by my side, I proudly cast my vote for Barack Obama, helping him become the first black president of this, our great country. Being a part of that history was magical.

After almost 20 years as a journalist—a career in which I've covered Rudy Giuliani as a political reporter, profiled entertainers as varied as Idris Elba, George Clooney, and Janet Jackson for everyone from the New York Daily News to Essence magazine, worked as an editor at Honey and Parenting magazines, served up expert mom advice as a columnist for Parenting, and authored 18 books—I wrote Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man for comedian and radio show host Steve Harvey; it debuted No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller's list, and was featured on Oprah twice. Woot! Woot!

I created MyBrownBaby, an incredible space where moms come to commiserate about what it means to raise a child of color in America. In this journey, I've stretched my mind, soothed my mom soul, and found a wonderful network of women who have filled my ordinary, everyday life with love and light. I thank each and every one of you who've subscribed, followed on Google Friends, or just made a habit of stopping by every once in a while. 2010 is going to be a great year, and this next decade is going to be more incredible than the last. I can feel it.


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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wordful Wednesday: 2009—Remembering A Fine, Productive First Year With MyBrownBaby!

I was browsing through my iPhotos pictures last night, reminiscing about all the wonderful things my family and I got to experience during 2009, and I got all warm and fuzzy inside thinking about our amazing year. So I decided to do a recap of MyBrownBaby's awesome 2009 with links to some of my favorite pictures and personal stories. Click on the sentences to see the original posts. Enjoy!

January '09: I kicked off the year hanging with Mom Talk TV's Maria Bailey and a bunch of new bloggy friends on a Disney Wonder Cruise to the Bahamas. Big! Fun!

February '09: During my Essence magazine interview with her, the stunning actress Diahann Carroll demanded I put a little make-up on it—and I did.

March '09: The MyBrownBaby crew had a blast at the UniverSoul Circus

And Oprah featured Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, the book I penned for Steve Harvey, on her show, a few weeks after it debuted No. 1 on the New York Times best seller's list

April '09: The girls celebrated spring break with their Papa Jimy, and discovered the secret life of bees on my cousin's back porch

We welcomed a new pet and said good-bye—in three days flat

June '09: The MyBrownBaby goes camping... and survives the Georgia woods for three days!

July '09: The MyBrownBaby crew heads to Hilton Head, Savannah, and Charleston for summer vacay...

And a few days later, goes road trippin' (and Oprah stalking) with The Blogrollers (Chatterbox, Ask Wifey, and FutureMama)

August '09: Friday Night Lights kick off at the MyBrownBaby house, with Mazi taking to the field...

Later, MyBrownBaby hangs out in the Betty Crocker Kitchens with General Mills

And visits with the Today Show's Matt Lauer to give tips on how to help kids beat the back-to-school jitters

September '09: The MyBrownBaby crew goes fishing...

And the cousins celebrate the last dog days of summer with a dip in the pool

October '09: To celebrate my birthday, Angelou and I cross state lines to see our man... er, favorite singer, Maxwell

And my baby, Lila, makes her mommy proud with her award-winning, self-esteem boosting essay, "Happy To Be Me."

November '09: MyBrownBaby's Denene Millner mixes it up with Rachael Ray on The Rachael Ray Show

December '09: A Party Fit For Disney's First African-American Princess Movie—The Princess and the Frog

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Forget New Year's Resolutions—This 106-Year-Old Matriarch Has The Key to an Authentic Life

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions anymore. I mean, in all my years of pledging to get my pre-baby body back /cut back on the pork and chocolate/stop dropping f-bombs/insert-Denene’s-terrible-vices here, I’ve never, ever stuck to the promises I made to myself just before the dawn of the New Year. I don’t know—maybe I’m weak-willed. Or a rebel. Or maybe I realize about a month in that if I do stop dining on swine and Godiva and become the goodie two-shoe church girl my mama raised me to be, I would be a lot less fun and nowhere near as juicy.

I like being fun and juicy.

Still, I do recognize that there’s tremendous value in starting the New Year committed to being a better person. Not necessarily skinnier. Not necessarily perfect. Just better. To myself. To others. Because it feels good and it’s natural and organic—not because I’ve threatened myself into submission. And this year, I’m inspired to walk this path thanks to the book, Aunt Sarah’s Recipes for a Long & Spirit-Filled Life, a beautiful work that chronicles the life and times of Sarah Frances Carter Perry Brown, a 106-year-old matriarch. Penned by writer, life coach and inspirational speaker Caryl Lucas, Aunt Sarah’s great niece, the book documents the pivotal events that helped shape Aunt Sarah’s life over the past century—her deep southern roots, personal struggles, spiritual principles, life lessons, insurmountable faith, and, of course, recipes.

But it’s not her how to’s for cooking up fresh biscuits, peach preserves and chitterlings that got my attention (come on now, don’t front—you can’t just scare up a good chitterlings recipe these days!); what I love most about Aunt Sarah’s book is the recipes she offers up for living a spirit-filled life. All at once sweet, simple, and beautiful, they remind me that being better takes little effort, but leads to rich reward. Witness her recipe for...

“Letting Your Light Shine”

• Do something good for someone else.
• Volunteer at a local school or community-based organization.
• Share your gifts with others.
• Display godly character by walking in love.
• Do not hold grudges.
• Spend valuable time in the word and apply it.
• Put God first in all that you do!
• Remember to smile every now and then and hum, “This Little Light of Mine.”

And I love this one, too...

“Aunt Sarah’s Recipe for Phenomenal Women”

• Love yourself!
• Be harmonious & kind-hearted.
• Know your self-worth is not measured by your wardrobe.
• Embrace your size and body.
• Believe in yourself!

Now these are resolutions I can get behind and co-sign—100 percent. Thank you, Aunt Sarah, for your wisdom and encouraging us all to let our lights shine!

Want some of Aunt Sarah’s inspiration for your very own? CLICK HERE to visit, where you can purchase Aunt Sarah’s Recipes For A Long And spirit-Filled Life: Wisdom and Soulful Lessons From a 105-Year-Old Matriarch, and read more about her phenomenal life.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

A Black Southern New Year's Feast Fit For (someone other than a pregnant) Queen

I almost killed my Lila on the New Year’s Day before she was born.

At least it felt like I did.

Let me explain. See, each and every New Year’s Day, my mother would host a New Year’s Day dinner at her and my dad’s place in Long Island; she’d invite over the folks—my aunties and uncles, cousins and close friends, neighbors and strays—and serve up the quintessentially storied southern black folk meal that was meant to bring good luck and prosperity to our homes: Black-eyed peas and all manner of pig parts, including feet, ears, and tails for good fortune, mustard and collard greens to conjure up dollar bills, and cornbread, because, well, who eats black-eyed peas, pigs feet and collards without cornbread? Top that plate off with some hot sauce and you were starting off the New Year on the good foot, for sure.

At least that’s what I was telling my four-months-pregnant self when I dove into a huge plate of my mom’s New Year’s Day goodness. It was divine. Great food, better company—my childhood home filled with love and light.

And then, the darkness came.

The evening when I got back home, I was so doggone sick I thought for sure every last bit of liquid and innards in my body were going to rush out of each one of my orifices. I was alternately praying to the porcelain god and sitting on it, too—crawling from my bed to the bathroom what seemed like every minute. What was worse was that my little baby, then enough of a bump to warrant maternity pants, wasn’t her usual self. She wasn’t kicking. She wasn’t shifting. She wasn’t poking her little butt out. Nothing.

And I was scared crapless.

It took two ob-gyn visits, several doctor’s phone calls, a five solid days of porcelain god worship, a pinky-swear promise from my mom that, really, nobody else got food poisoning, and normal baby movement for me to get right. Turns out it’s not a good idea, like, ever, to eat black-eyed peas, greens, pig’s feet, cornbread and extra hot sauce when you’re four months pregnant.


I mean, I didn’t really need to be sick for almost a week to know this; I’d already had one healthy baby and took great pride in keeping my head buried in pregnancy books that extolled the virtues of healthy eating. I took my vitamins regularly, I didn’t eat a whole lot of junk food, and I caved to only a few of my cravings (I said yes to popsicles, and freezing cold ice water, and no—as tempting as it was, to starch, clay, and, get this, Tide detergent. I know, weird right? Turns out those cravings were signs of a ridiculously bad iron deficiency.) But none of those pregnancy books specifically suggested I skip my mom’s New Year’s Day dinner.

So let me just go on ahead and put it on out there: If you’re pregnant, it’s probably best to stick to a sound eating plan, like the one laid out HERE on the super-informative March of Dimes website.

The March of Dimes also has a fine set of guidelines for healthy weight gain for moms-to-be so that your body can perform all the wonderful miracles of motherhood—from giving birth to a healthy baby to producing a nutritious mix of breast milk for your baby to getting your body back in tip top shape after the baby is born.

Um, and tempting as it may be to eat it, stay away from the contraband food this Friday if you’re with child. I’m just saying.

This blog post was donated by MyBrownBaby to the March of Dimes as part of its March of Dimes Moms initiative.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009


Okay, so I admit it: When it comes to sending Christmas cards, I'm THE WORST. Like, I'll spend an hour in the card aisle, pondering color schemes, sentiment, friends and family lists—all of that. And then I'll buy a couple boxes and take them home and then... they'll sit. Finding addresses, licking envelopes, bringing them to the mailbox—I suck at all of these things. Honest to goodness, next to like, Target and Crane's, I have to have the largest collection of pretty, unused holiday greeting cards on the planet. So this year, I figured I'd go all out like a true blogger should, and post my digital Merry Christmas card right here on MyBrownBaby. It's environmentally friendly (no paper or stamps necessary!). Good for a giggle (peep Nick's grill, and Mari and Lila's b-boy stance!). And it won't clutter up your kitchen drawers. You can thank me later.

In the meantime, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

See you all next Monday!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wordful Wednesday: It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas At MyBrownBaby's Place

The Christmas tree is up, the lights are shining bright, and everybody in the MyBrownBaby house is getting giddy about December 25, 2009.

The presents are all wrapped in this gorgeous blue, maroon, brown, and sparkly gold wrapping paper I found at Target (I ♥ wrapping paper—especially when it's coordinated. 'Cause you gotta coordinate.)

I think I might like the ornaments (almost) better than wrapped presents, especially the ones my babies make—like this reindeer, which Mari fashioned out of an old '70s tree light, googly eyes and a few other recyclables...

and this beautiful ballerina, one of the only ones I could find with features that look like my daughters (peep the Afro—Alvin Ailey beautiful!)...

and simple, delicate creations, like this bronze leaf I found at Crate & Barrel a few years ago.

These Peanut Butter Chocolate Kisses were such a hit with Santa last year, the girls will probably whip them up again for Christmas '09.

Our goldendoodle, Teddy, doesn't seem like he's in the Christmas spirit just yet.

Perhaps because he remembers that this silliness happened on Christmas Day last year...

He'll snap out of it, though—Mari, Lila, Mari, Nick, and I will make sure of it. And Brian McKnight, too! Enjoy his beautiful rendition of "The Christmas Song," and make sure you check back on MyBrownBaby tomorrow for a super special treat!

For more Wordful Wednesday posts, click the button below...

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On the MyBrownBaby Table: Chocolate Chip Cookies Santa Will Love


It's holiday time, and everywhere you turn, sweet temptations are lurking—on kitchen countertops, in office break rooms, on coffee tables by the fireplace, where anxious little kids looking to curry last-minute favor with Santa pile cookies high. As much as your favorite pair of jeans may hate them or your aerobics instructor makes you regret them, the truth is, baked holiday goodies are simply irresistible. And these treats? They're downright addictive. Make these with no regrets: It's okay to indulge every once in a while, and certainly when the treats you're making are made from scratch, with love and lots of Vegan goodness.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Cremes with Chocolate Ganache

What you'll need:

* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 10 TB vegan margarine
* 1/4 cup almond milk (note: you can substitute with soy or rice milk)
* 3.39 oz vegan vanilla pudding mix
* 2 tsp vanilla extract
* 1.5 cup flour
* 1/2 tsp baking soda
* 3/4 cup chocolate chips ( though I just pour until my heart is content!)

To prepare:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F; lightly grease two large light metal baking sheets.

2. Cream vegan margarine, pudding mix and sugar.

3. Mix in milk and vanilla.

4. Add 1 cup of the flour, plus the baking soda and salt. Mix until well incorporated.

5. Mix in the remainder of the flour.

6. Fold in the chocolate chips; the dough should be formed.

7. For best results, spoon the dough onto plastic wrap or wax paper and shape and roll into a log, then refrigerate for a minimum of 10 minutes so that you can cut it rather than spooning it; it's a much easier way to handle sticky cookie dough. (Note: The other great part about rolling is that you can cut off what you need and bake it and store the rest in the fridge. Not interested in rollin' and plastickin' and paper waxin' and refrigeratin'? No worries: You also can pinch off pieces of dough, roll them into balls and flatten them with your hands to shape your cookies.

8. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes - no more than 9 - until they are just a little browned around the edges.

9. Let cool completely before preparing the cookie sandwich with the Chocolate Ganache.

Chocolate Ganache

What you'll need:

* 3/4 cup soy, rice or almond milk (I use vanilla flavored almond milk)
* 1/4 cup vegan butter
* 12 oz. chocolate chips

To prepare:

1. Put milk and butter in a double boiler.

2. When the butter melts, add chocolate chips, and stir until chocolate melts and mix is creamy and smooth

3. Once creamy, remove from heat and allow to cool. Ganache will become slightly hardened. Spread over one cookie, then top the Chocolate Ganache with a second cookie.


About our MyBrownBaby contributor:
Shelley Chapman is a culinary artisan whose passion for "natural, from scratch, quality ingredient meals" led her to consult on meal preparation, planning and holistic consumption as a personal chef for her company, Naturi Beauty Concepts. She offers private culinary services in the Atlanta area, specializing in Vegan and Vegetarian cuisine with a global influence. For more tasty vegetarian/vegan recipes, please visit Shelley at Naturi Beauty.

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