Friday, January 29, 2010

On the MyBrownBaby Table: Grab Cakes

of Naturi Beauty

Grab Cakes? Yes, you're right—sounds a lot like Crab Cakes. They're actually a lovely, perfectly seasoned, vegan version; tofu, crisp veggies and arame (a type of seaweed) team up and lend their incredible flavors to these Grab Cakes, guaranteeing that you and your loved ones will be grabbing for more. Keeping in mind the demands of family, career and our own self- imposed schedules, I made sure that these vegan sea treats were quick and easy to prepare and wouldn't leave you in a crabby mood because of prep and clean-up. Enjoy!

What You'll Need

* 1 block 16oz. firm tofu, drained
* ½ red bell pepper
* ½ green bell pepper
* ½ yellow onion
* ½ cup spelt flour
* ½ cup bread crumbs
* 1 TB dijon mustard
* 1 tsp garlic powder
* 2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
* ½ tsp parsley
* ½ tsp thyme
* ½ tsp adobo
* S &P to taste

How To Make It:

1. Prepare tofu by wrapping in cheesecloth or paper towels and draining excess liquids.
2. Prepare arame according to package directions and mince.
3. Process both bell peppers in food processor until finely chopped and the liquids begin to release.
4. Mince onion.
5. Break tofu into pieces in a mixing bowl.
6. Add pepper, onion, bread crumbs, flour, arame and spices to tofu.
7. Mix with hands until tofu is crumbly and all ingredients are well integrated.
8. Let sit for 15 minutes.
9. Shape into patties and brown in med/low heat on both sides—about five to six minutes per side—in a mix of vegan margarine and oil.

Serve with a side of your own tasty dipping sauce.

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's blog at Naturi Beauty.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Boy, Please.

So I messed up and left the house without my iPod (again) and NPR was still playing classical music (which I don’t mind but wasn’t in the mood for) and I can’t stand driving in silence (makes my mind wander) so I turned on… black radio.

And… well, you know where this is going. I make no secrets about my hate for the current state of black music and black radio’s role in force-feeding the filth into our babies’ ears. All these young un’s do (Lord, now I sound like somebody’s mama—my mama, for sure) is sing about things that don’t matter, don’t make sense, and damn for sure don’t ring true. Witness the pearl that oozed through my speakers yesterday, courtesy of Trey Songz:

Verse 1]
Soon as we get started makin love goin harder hear a.. (knock knock) knocking on the wall,
And as soon as I go deep getting it in then again theres a.. (knock knock) knocking on the wall,
Girl your legs keep shakin I swear we breakin our new headboard headboard
And the love we make it feels so good girl you know im proud lookin in your lovley face scream my name you do it so loud

I bet the neighbors know my name
Way you screamin scratchin yellin,
Bet the neighbors know my name
They be stressin while we sexin,
I bet the neighbors know my name
My name my name
I bet the neighbors know my name
My my my...

Um, really, little boy? Like, seriously: Am I to believe that you not only know what you’re doing but that you can make me break furniture behind your prowess? Even more, that you’re so sick with it that I’m going to think you “invented sex” (another of his songs playing every five seconds on the radio)?

Now, I’m a grown woman, and I got sense enough to know better. But be clear: A 13-year-old? Fifteen-year-old? A tween with barely a bit of fuzz under her arm? Not so much. Not to get all C. Delores Tucker on y’all, but these songs, at best, are desensitizing our kids to the very sacred act of sharing one’s body with someone worthy—at worst, convincing boys they’re sexual gods and girls that if they just lay down and spread ‘em, the boy they’re with will bring them immeasurable pleasure.

Uh huh.

Dead. Fish. Eyes.

Come on now: We all know what the first (and second and third and sometimes even the 100th) time was like: Teenage girls ain't hardly having orgasms, and teenage boys don't hardly have the skills to make their partners do much more than fake it. But thanks to songs like these, a generation of teenagers think they're porn stars.

We can keep pretending like songs and messages and images like this don’t have any impact on our children if we want to. But statistics like those I saw in this New York Times article yesterday, detailing the rise in the teenage pregnancy rate after more than a decade of decline, should ring the alarm on just how all of these hypersexualized music/videos/images/messages are affecting our kids.

Sleep if you want to.

I choose to stay woke.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

WW: She's Growing Up, I've Come Undone

This is my baby.

This weekend, I bought her her first piece of grown-up intimate apparel.

Where did the time go?

And how do I slow it down?

Can I slow it down?

Just a little bit, even?





To see today's Wordful Wednesday posts, click HERE.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The MyBrownBaby Beautiful Mind January 2010 Contest Winner!

We’re celebrating great writing here at MyBrownBaby today with the announcement of the winner of The MyBrownBaby Beautiful Mind Writing Contest: January 2010. I’m sending a HUGE thank you to my guest judge and in-real-life homegirl, the lovely Akilah of Execumama, who read all of this month’s entries on the topic, “Something New.” I encourage you to follow/subscribe to Execumama so that you can stay up on her brilliant posts about balancing motherhood and work life, as chronicled in her book, “Execumama: A Pocket Guide for the Twenty-something Mommy on the Move.” And when you’re finished, pop on over to the Etsy shop of jeweler Michelle Verbeeck, who is donating the prize to this month’s winner—a custom-made Inspirational Leather Cuff featuring a quote of the winner’s choosing. Trust me when I tell you: This is a HOT prize; I just received a Michelle Verbeeck bracelet of my own—a mustard yellow 3-inch leather cuff with a burned bronze plate that reads, “I mean… I can fly… like a bird in the sky.” Please believe, I sleep with that bad boy on—that’s how beautiful it is! Cop one for yourself; you won’t be disappointed!

Finally, thanks to everyone who participated in this month’s contest; there’s nothing harder than to put up your writing for someone else to judge. I thank you for trusting MyBrownBaby with your words.

And now, without further ado—the winner of this month’s contest is…

Alicia Booker of A Woman’s Worth!

Alicia’s beautiful blog post is about the journey she’s taken with her husband—she describes him as “my prince, my hero, my love”—after one fateful night sixteen years ago. It was then that their “something new” began, and they’ve been on a glorious ride together ever since. Here, a snippet of Alicia’s “My Prince, My Hero, My Love”:

In late December, we visited an Orthopedic who was actually able to give us some direction in helping my husband deal with the pain that he endures daily. This direction could mean a major surgery and a year of rehab, but could have a tremendous positive impact in the years to come. Being young, black, and uninsured sixteen years ago has led us to a major fork in the road.

Each morning I watch him slowly make his way to the bathroom, as the clinks and clanks in his ankle start to warm up after resting from the night. I watch him take one step and one foot at a time down the stairs. My heart hurts thinking about the daily pain he lives with, even though he doesn’t complain or whimper. In fact he goes above and beyond not only at work, but at home, and in everything he does. Every now and then he retreats to what we call the “male box”, where he is quiet, watches sports, and doesn’t talk much. Although I know he doesn’t want to talk during these times, I do still try and check in just to assure myself that alone time is what he needs. During these times I wonder if Mr. Cherry knows how he changed my husband’s life all because an insignificant, insecure young brother in the group called a girl a “bitch”. I wonder if Mr. Cherry is alive, and if that night also changed his life. It definitely changed ours…

To read the rest of Alicia’s winning essay, click HERE.

Akilah also wanted to give props to the following writers, who’s essays she thought deserved honorable mentions:

Mama C and the Boys with her poem, “Ancestors Unfold the Stories Untold.”

Nad and Zara Take On the World with “Something New.”

Teresha of Marlie and Me with “She’s Something New.”


Here, a list of the other wonderful entries (in no particular order, with links to blog posts where available):

MoonWritings with The Newness Never Dies
When my daughter was born in 2003, Facebook was not around to show her photos that I snapped every milli-second, nor was Twitter invented so that I could post milestones:
"Baby is breathing now"
"Baby just hiccupped"
"Baby just yawned. And my oh my, how beautiful she looks doing it."
Yes, I was (am) that mother.

Mind of Malaka with “Something New.”
Typically when I hear the phrase “Something New”, I think of interracial couples and the angst they face a-la Sanaa Lathan and that very yummy blonde guy whose name always escapes me. But as of last week, the phrase “something new” means something completely different. It means the birth of a new child. Yes, I will bring a new brown baby into the world in the new decade. Now before you all break out the celebratory confetti and congratulatory champagne, I must tell you I just had a baby 5 minutes ago; May 29th 2009 to be precise. It was a blessed event and one that I was looking forward to repeating in 4 years, not four months, which is when my new child was conceived.

Three Men and an Old Lady with “Something New.”
I love January. Something about January makes people all giddy with excitement of "newness". People are abuzz with conversations about "Ooh, this year Imma get myself together", "This is a new year, new day, new me" or "Imma win in 2010". Give me a break. I fail to see what dramatic transformation occurs from December 31 of one year to January 1 of the next. It's one day! If only we looked at each day with the enthusiasm of New Year's Day. Imagine if we committed to betting ourselves every day with the vigor and resolve we have on January 1. Can you imagine?

The Baby Plan with “Wishing For Something New.”
I secretly observe my hubby while we eat; in some extent I feel guilty for the decision I made nearly four years ago. He looks restless. I have seen him smile, when he watch our little nephew play with his father. I know what is going through his mind, but at this point I can't turn back. The big part of my heart is glad I made the decision; so I should not feel guilty as I do some days. I observe him again and the song of Natasha Bedingfield shouts out loud in my head. I want to have your baby..., but I know I should not be irrational.

Queenocracy with “Something New.”
To most of us something new signals a new purchase or a groundbreaking experience. And while that is nice (trust me, I LOVE to shop…) one of the best new things we can get is a perspective. You know, a fresh look at something or someone.
Instead of finding fault with people we are blessed to know or our circumstances, a constantly fresh perspective can keep us focused on what is going right.

I Love Being Married with "The Journey from Something Old To Something New."
Today is my wedding day! I am so filled with emotions. I am excited for the future and what our union will bring; the house, the kids, a family. I am nervous about the ceremony and whether everything will happen according to our plans. I am giddy with the thought of my new “husband”. I have been practicing my new name, writing it over and over just to see how it would look. But I’m also sad. Everyone has been telling me how happy they are for me and everyone has been congratulating me, but I can’t help but feel something else.


I’ll be announcing a new contest in a few weeks. In the meantime, keep using your beautiful minds!

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Monday, January 25, 2010

On the Parenting Post: Government Cheese

It's the cheese I remember - a congealed, yellowy-orange block in non-descript paper, with, I think, blue writing. You needed the might of Solomon to cut through it, it was so thick. All I could manage were chunks - never firm slices.

No, the slices - they were for people who could afford the good stuff. Our cheese came from the food stamp program - the government-run agency for poor families who couldn't afford to feed themselves without help.

For a short time, we were one of those families. Not because my parents were lazy or waiting around for some kind of handout, by any stretch. Rest assured, Bettye and Jimmy were hard workers. They just couldn't find any work. At the time, jobs were scarce in Long Island, N.Y., the place my parents moved after spending five years raising my brother and me in a small south New Jersey town where they had few friends and even less familial support. They thought things would be better back in Long Island; there were factory jobs there, and they had friends there, too, and my mom missed her church - needed to be closer to her lifeline. Her people.

But her people couldn't find work for her. Or for my Dad. And when their money got low, my Dad got desperate - got back his old job in New Jersey and commuted back and forth from BayShore, N.Y., to Trenton so that he'd have some cash coming in. It was a decision that nearly broke us; Daddy would leave us on Sunday night, stay in New Jersey until after work on Friday, spend two days with us, and then head back to work - a grueling schedule that was all-at-once scary (for us, seeing as the man of our new home wasn't there to protect us) and lonely (for him, seeing as he had to be without us and alone for days on end, for months and months).

And then, the factory closed. And after all of that commuting, after all of that loneliness, after all of that searching for something better, after all of that holding on, our family's only source of income was… gone. And all of a sudden, it was be proud and starve, or suck up your pride and let your babies eat.

My parents chose to let us eat.

To read the rest of my post on Families Making a Way Out of No Way, click HERE.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Together Forever: What It Takes To Make a Marriage Work

Every year, Essence helps five African-American gentlemen create unforgettable surprise marriage proposals in the pages of its magazine, and then invites readers to vote for their favorite couple on The big prize? The winning couple $10,000 in cash for their dream wedding, a consultation with and invitations by renowned wedding producer and designer Diann Valentine, a wedding dress from the David Tutera by Faviana Collection, created by WE tv's David Tutera, and an amazing cake courtesy of one of the bakers from the WE tv show, Amazing Wedding Cakes.

But is trying to give a little more than just a dream wedding to the lucky couple. For sure, the website is running an online series on ways the soon-to-be newlyweds—and other couples about to or who have recently taken the big plunge—can strengthen their relationships. Recently, an editor asked Nick and I to weigh in what it takes to make a marriage work. Here's what we said:

SHE SAID...By Denene Millner
The falling in love part--that's easy. The staying there? Well, there's the challenge. Because after the honeymoon and the newlywed bliss and the tenderness and all that good, new loving comes the quirks you didn't see before and the bills you didn't anticipate and the arguments you swore you'd never have. Throw some kids in the mix and then things really heat up. The mental, emotional, and physical gymnastics of it all... simply, utterly exhausting. But that's love. Fluid. Ever changing. Hanging in--holding on. For better, for worse, for richer and for poorer, through sickness and in health--when he leaves his wet towel on the bathroom floor and walks past that sink full of dirty dishes 20 times without washing them; when she cuddles the baby more than you and slings the attitude like a sword--'til death do us part...

HE SAID...By Nick Chiles
Humility. That's been the most important quality I have learned over the years, whether applied to my marriage or all the other close relationships in my world. In every encounter with my significant other, I now know I must be able to accept the fact that I frequently will be wrong. That's something I had a hard time accepting when I was younger. For most men, embracing humility means tackling that large, ferocious tiger that is the male ego. When I was younger, my ego would drag me into some nasty encounters--ones in which I couldn't admit I was wrong, even when I knew that I was. It was like my ego had a stranglehold on my tongue. But the benefit of age has allowed me to accept that there inevitably will be times when I don't know what I'm talking about, when my advice will be misguided, my opinion off base, my thoughts wrongheaded. What it comes down to is this: I'm not perfect...

To read the rest of Nick and my thoughts on what it takes to make a marriage last, CLICK HERE to check out the full posts on If you feel so moved, leave a comment.

Have a fantastic weekend!

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

You Just Gotta Love That Black Girl Swagger

So it started with the Little Yellow Corvette—Mari would wheel it up and down the driveway, whipping it around rocks and dipping between the trees and pumping up the volume on the little radio station she had tuned on Radio Disney. Somewhere along that journey, the girl convinced herself that she could drive. Um, a real car. In fact, when I'm exhausted and don't feel like driving, the 10-year-old often raises her hand and offers to take the wheel.


Let's just say my Mari is a confident little girl. She's good at a lot of things—writing, soccer, art, playing the trumpet, cleaning the kitchen, cooking—and she's not afraid to tell it. In fact she solidified this sentiment last night as she was preparing a writing lesson she's teaching her classmates on Friday—an assignment her teacher awarded her for being, well, a good writer.

Nick: Are you nervous about your teaching?

Mari: No.

Nick: So you're good at teaching just like you are driving, huh?

Mari: Yup.

Nick: So you just think there's nothing you can't do, huh?

Mari: Um, well maybe I can't sky dive.

Jesus be a confident 10-year-old with no fear, nerves of steel and the backbone of a gladiator.

Work, Mari.


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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordful Wednesday: This Moment Is Your Life...

Drink wine
This is life eternal
This all that youth will give to you
It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends
Be happy for this moment
This moment is your life…

—from The Rubaiyat, a collection of poems by Omar Khayyam

[Photos taken at Wolf Mountain Vineyards, nestled in the foothills of the Southern Appalachian Mountains in Dahlonega, GA, August 2008]

For more Wordful Wednesday posts, visit Angie at...

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Save the Babies: Help For Haiti's Children

The numbers are incomprehensible — 50,000, 100,000, half a million. Perhaps we’ll never know — never have the accurate accounting of the unspeakable loss mother Haiti has suffered at the hands of a massive earthquake that shook the small, impoverished Caribbean country to its core.

There are small glimmers of hope — a church group lost and then found, a missionary and child advocate pulled from the rubble of the orphanage where she taught and inspired.

I try to hold on to those shiny pieces — need to. But the dark cloud of death hangs low and thick over the light, billowing over and under and all through mother Haiti. Mothers and fathers are burying their children. Aunties and uncles and cousins and neighbors are digging through the rubble, desperate for life to rise up from the ashes.

And all I can think about is the babies. The ones who lost all they had and knew and loved — in the quiet moment between one quick second, and then the next. My heart is absolutely shattered. Because as a mom, I know what I mean to my babies. The pain of loss the children of Haiti are suffering is visceral. Searing. Late at night, when those babies are on my mind, I can hear them crying out. And my heart breaks all over again.

To read the rest of my blog post on Haiti's babies, CLICK HERE.

I also wanted to call special attention to three organizations that are—and long have been—helping the children of Haiti. My hope is that as you consider donating money, goods, and services to help the victims of this disaster, you remember these groups, which have long been on the ground—in the thick of it—digging in, making a difference, and saving lives. I encourage you to do what you can to help them.

The Clermont Center for Homeless Adolescents
Opened in March of 2003, this Jacmel, Haiti-based orphanage (as seen in the picture above before the earthquake) is run by the mother of writer/blogger Rose-Ann Clermont of Currents Between Shores. Rose-Ann wrote on her blog last week that the children and staff at The Clermont Center escaped the earthquake uninjured, but the building suffered substantial damage and they are fast running out of food and water. The center needs donations to feed and house its current roster of children as well as the many more that are sure to come; donations will also be used to rebuild the orphanage. To donate to The Clermont Center for Homeless Adolescents, CLICK HERE.

God's Littlest Angels
My blog friend Stacey of IsThereAnyMommyOutThere wrote passionately last week about God's Littlest Angels, an organization that, since 1994, has provided intensive nursery care for premature, malnourished and abandoned children, and assisted in placing abandoned children with adoptive families. God's Littlest Angels is collecting cash as well as supplies (diapers, baby wipes, baby cereal, infant tylenol, infant and children's vitamins, and baby care items such as lotion, powder, baby shampoo) at its Colorado-based offices and shipping them to Haiti. To help God's Littlest Angels, CLICK HERE.

The Bresma Orphanage
Jamie McMurtrie and Ali McMutrie, sisters from Pittsburgh who run an orphanage in Port au Prince, were hunkered down in the front lawn of their property with 150 children—25 who were ready for U.S. adoption before the earthquake destroyed government buildings housing critical information the kids needed to make it to their adoptive families. Food and water was scarce, and the sisters were pleading with U.S. officials to arrange transportation for them and all the children to America so that they can be connected with their adoptive families. There's been a pretty active social media campaign about the plight of Bresma (to see the #Bresma thread on Twitter, CLICK HERE; to visit the group's Facebook page, CLICK HERE), and at last check, a local congressman had arranged for a plane full of medical professionals and supplies to head to Port Au Prince to pick up the sisters and 61 children. Great news: They made it back to Pittsburgh. But make no mistake about it: Those children are still in desperate need of help now that they're here in the states; they need food, clothing, care, and places to lay their tiny heads. To donate to The Bresma Orphanage, .

Thanks for all that you do; with your help, we can all make some kind of difference for the children of Haiti.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

In The Spirit of Martin: Celebrating the Prince of Peace

The poem featured here today was created by celebrated poet and activist Nikki Giovanni as part of the Smithsonian's 2002 traveling exhibit, "In the Spirit of Martin: The Living Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr," the first major Smithsonian exhibition of visual arts dedicated to celebrating our American hero. "In the Spirit of Martin" included works by some of my favorite artists ever—Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, Faith Ringold, Charles Alson and Gordon Parks, to name a few. But it was Nikki's poem that touched me most.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King. Thank you for your strength, your intelligence, your courage, and especially your insistence that America live up to its promise to ALL its citizens. Your legacy endures—and you are missed.

"In the Spirit of Martin," by Nikki Giovanni

This is a sacred poem…blood has been shed to consecrate it…
wash your hands…remove your shoes…bow your head
…I…I…I Have a Dream

That was a magical time…Hi Ho Silver Away…
Oh Cisco/Oh Pancho…Here I Come To Save The Day…
I want the World to see what they did to my boy…
No No No I’m not going to move…If we are Wrong…
then the Constitution of the United States is Wrong
…Montgomery…Birmingham…Selma…Four little Girls…
Constant Threats…Constant Harassment…Constant Fear…
SCLC…Ralph and Martin…Father Knows Best…
Leave It To Beaver…ED SULLIVAN…How Long…Not Long

But what…Mr. Thoreau said to Mr. Emerson…are you doing out?

This is a Letter from Birmingham City Jail…
This is a eulogy for Albany…This is a water hose for Anniston…
This is a Thank You to Diane Nash…
This is a flag for James Farmer…
This is a HowCanIMakeItWithoutYou to Ella Baker…
This is for the red clay of Georgia that yielded black men of courage…
black men of vision…black men of hope…
bent over cotton…or sweet potatoes…or pool tables and
baseball diamonds…playing for a chance to live free and
breathe easy and have enough money to take care of
the folks they love…This is Why We Can’t Wait

That swirling Mississippi wind…the Alabama pine…
that Tennessee dust defiling the clothes the women washed…
thosehotwinds…the lemonade couldn’t cool…
that let the women know…we too must overcome…
this is for Fannie Lou Hamer…Jo Ann Robinson…
Septima Clark…Daisy Bates…All the women who said
Baby Baby Baby I know you didn’t mean to lose your job…
I know you didn’t mean to hit me…
I know the Lord is going to make a way…
I know I’m Leaning On The Everlasting Arms

How much pressure…does the Earth exert on carbon…
to make a diamond…How long does the soil push against the flesh…
molding… molding…molding the moan that becomes a cry that
bursts forth crystalline…unbreakable…priceless…incomparable Martin…
I Made My Vow To The Lord That I Never Would Turn Back…
How much pressure do the sins of the world press
against the heart of a man who becomes the voice of his people…
He should have had a tattoo, you know…Freedom Now…
or something like that…should have braided his hair…
carried his pool cue in a mahogany case…
wafted that wonderful laugh over a plate of skillet fried chicken…
drop biscuits…dandelion greens on the side

This is a sacred poem…open your arms…turn your palms up…
feel the Spirit of Greatness…and be redeemed

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Home Made Love: Roast Lemon and Rosemary Chicken


Mommy’s specialty is friend chicken—it’s always perfectly crunchy on the outside and nice and juicy on the inside. But we can’t eat it all the time because it’s not really all that good for you. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy good chicken, though. Mommy lets us help her make a different kind of chicken that’s roasted in the oven with lemon and rosemary, and next to her fried chicken, it’s the best chicken we’ve ever had. Plus, it’s healthier, which means we can eat it more often.

At first we thought the lemon was going to be a little weird, but it’s actually really tasty, and it makes a nice salty, tarty juice in the pan that we like to spoon onto our chicken when it’s time to eat it. And Lila really likes the taste of the fresh rosemary, which, during the summer, we pull right from our herb container garden out on our deck. (Now that it’s winter, we buy fresh rosemary from the store, but it still tastes really good!) Mommy usually serves this chicken with roasted red potatoes that she flavors with rock salt, a little olive oil, and more fresh rosemary, and a nice garden salad with extra cucumbers (because Lila really likes cucumbers!). Trust us: You’re going to love this recipe!


What you’ll need:

garlic powder
3 chicken halves
3 lemons, halved
6 rosemary sprigs
6 garlic cloves, peeled
aluminum foil
a roasting pan

How to make it:

1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

2. Generously season the chicken halves with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

3. Place the chicken halves in a roasting pan side by side.

4. Cut up three lemons into halves, and place them around the chicken. (You do not have to squeeze them; the juices will cook out of the lemons and flavor the chicken.)

5. Add fresh, whole, peeled garlic cloves.

6. Put fresh rosemary sprigs on top of the chicken halves.

7. Cover with foil, and put the pan into the preheated oven.

8. Let it cook for about 45 minutes; baste the chicken with the juices from the pan every once in a while to keep it from drying out.

9. After 45 minutes, take off the foil and let the chicken halves brown, for about 15 to 20 minutes. If you get reasonably small halves, not those BIG ole pieces that look like they got shot with steroids, it should take about an hour or so for the chicken to be cooked through. If you can only find thick halves, or you decide to cook the chicken whole instead of in halves, you should let it cook under the foil an extra 15 minutes or so before you take it off.

Serves four generously.

From the MyBrownBaby series, "Home Made Love: From The Chiles Girls' Kitchen To Yours," the cookbook in which Mari and Lila share special memories behind the beloved dishes they create in our house.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Check Out MyBrownBaby On Kathie Lee & Hoda!

Exciting news! Today, I joined Kathie Lee and Hoda on the Today Show to discuss how we moms can—and should!—talk to our kids about sex. I gave tips, along with ace Washington, D.C.-based pediatrician Ivor Horn, on the when's and the how's and the what's when it comes to telling your kids about The Birds and The Bees. If you missed it, here's the clip.

I invite you, too, to check out the guest post I contributed to MSNBC's TODAYMoms blog. CLICK HERE to read it, and, of course, if you feel so moved, leave a comment.

If you're visiting for the first time after seeing today's show, please come on in, kick off your shoes, and get comfortable here at my place. Here’s the quick and dirty on MyBrownBaby: I’m Denene Millner, a 16-time author, contributing editor and Mom Squad member at Parenting and Essence magazines, a featured Parenting Post blogger at, the Real Talk mom at Momtourage, and associate editor at the travel magazine, Odyssey Couleur. My latest book, “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man,” which I wrote with the comedian Steve Harvey, debuted No. 1 on The New York Times Hardcover Advice Best Sellers List and remained there for 42 consecutive weeks; it was featured on Oprah twice. I also penned a memoir for Nene Leakes, star of Bravo's The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

More importantly, I’m a mom of three beautiful kids, the wife of Nick Chiles, an awesome Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who is penning a book for celebrated gospel artist Kirk Franklin, the proud owner of a spectacular Goldendoodle, Teddy, and ridiculously giddy for no good doggone reason. Maybe I’m just a hopeless optimist, but I try to remind myself every day how blessed I am for good health, a sound mind, strength, and above all else, the good, hearty, everlasting love of a beautiful family.

So come on in and take a look around. Check out what I do to FIND ME-TIME, and how me and my girls KICK IT OL' SCHOOL. Check our what legendary actress DIAHANN CARROLL whispered in my ear, how I feel about BLACK DADS, PLAYING IN THE SUN, and SOLO VACATIONS. You’ll also find some great music here, too, including videos from artists like INDIA.AIRE, ANGIE STONE, and LEDISI, as well as some great recipes from my daughters’ “Home Made Love” cookbook. You’ll find, too, that I don’t mind speaking my mind, particularly when the NEIGHBORS GO WILD, BET GETS LOW, and I get nervous for my AFRICAN AMERICAN SON. No conversation is off-limits, and sometimes it can get a little ROWDY around here. But every post is meant to give voice to black moms looking to get in on the parenting debate, and certainly to invite ALL moms, regardless of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or background to talk about what we love to talk about most: motherhood.

So check out the site, introduce yourself in the comment section, and please SIGN UP FOR FREE EMAIL UPDATES, become a MYBROWNBABY FOLLOWER, or SUBSCRIBE TO MY RSS FEED. I’m SO happy you stopped by!

Have a fantastic day!

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wordful Wednesday: We Are Daddy's Girls

This is my heart.
My rock.
My shoulder to lean on.
My "you can do it" cheerleader.
My "it's gonna be all right, baby" comforter.
The best papa on the whole, wide, planet.
The one who found me
and said, "She's mine."
My hero.
My daddy.

Isn't he lovely?


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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Brown Baby Hustle: Going Green, Singing Earth's Praises, and Getting Paid

Okay, so maybe I was being a wee-bit dramatic last week when I posted about how giddy I was that the kids were back at school after a loooooong holiday break. Well, not really—but still. There were some bright spots to Mari and Lila's 15-day torture... er, vacation. Specifically, the two of them figured out how to let their creative juices flow and make a little cash (read: hustle Nick, me, Mazi, and anyone else with a dollar) while doing it. Both my girls opened craft "stores" in their rooms (after I banished them there, of course)—Lila, a sewing shop, at which she made and sold for $1 skirts, tops, and dresses for her Barbie dolls; Mari, an art shop in which she sold handmade-to-order bookmarks, pictures, and poetry, starting at 50 cents a pop. I think I must have spent at least a good $15 between the two "businesses"—so much that by the end of the week, I was scraping loose change from the bottom of my purse to pay for this poem Mari whipped up. It was worth every, dust- and gum-covered coin I handed over for it, for sure. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

by Mari Chiles

All of Earth is a beautiful creation
So many lively things inside of it
—animals, electricity, and of course human kind

A masterpiece of artwork from the gods.

But there are also bad things going on/on the wonderful planet we call Earth.
There are harmful things like global warming.
There are harmful things going on to other people, like war.

If everyone could get along, how much of a better place would this planet be?
Well, let's try it out and see!

How lucky are we to have human kind?
But some people probably don't even mind!

Go ahead, try it out yourself
look at how much it helps
just to care.
All of Earth is a wonderful and beautiful creation.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

What Real Role Models Are Made Of

"I don't believe professional athletes should be role models. I believe parents should be role models.... It's not like it was when I was growing up. My mom and my grandmother told me how it was going to be. If I didn't like it, they said, "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out." Parents have to take better control." —Charles Barkley

I admit it: I thought former NBA player-turned-sports analyst Charles Barkley was a jerk when he said that infamous quote years and years ago. Like, ballers, rappers, movie stars, radio and TV personalities—practically anyone with any remote connection to entertainment—spends their (working) lifetime trying to make us love them, and then the years after their 15 minutes of fame trying to get us to stay in love with them, even though the hotter, younger, better version of them has come along and rendered them completely irrelevant. Did he really think a kid—perhaps one on a school basketball team—who watched him push a basketball up the court wouldn’t want to learn some of his on- and off-court moves? Or that a child who maybe dreamed of being a popular singer wouldn’t want to study how, say, Janet Jackson became such a meteoric sensation? Or that a star’s money and fancy clothes and flashy things wouldn’t have some kind of effect on impressionable little people?

I mean, really: Telling kids not to look up to superstars who became superstars by demanding the world look up to them seemed so ridiculous on so many levels, I got hot just hearing Barkley’s name.

But then I grew up.

And had me some babies.

And the culture of celebrity made a seismic shift, and all of a sudden, guys weren’t just dunking basketballs on the courts but brandishing guns in the locker room. Pretty singers weren’t just making beautiful music; they were stumbling across stages and giving slurred, drunken acceptance speeches at awards shows. Even the wholesome, quiet family guy was out apparently sticking and moving practically every chick that crossed his line of vision—and so doggone sloppy about it that now all his side pieces are tousling their hair, glossing up their lips and scampering toward the limelight in search of their own 15 minutes of fame.

Seriously, the cult of celebrity has become so incredibly grimy that I no longer get surprised by the tomfoolery. And I certainly don’t look for ways to clean it up when my kids notice the stories screaming from headlines or shouted out on the morning news. Like, yes, the little girl from your favorite kid show sent pictures of her naked body to her boyfriend; she was wrong for that and shouldn’t be surprised that all her goodies are now on display for the universe to see. She’s a dummy. Learn a lesson —don’t be like her. You want some OJ with your cereal?


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Friday, January 8, 2010

The Skin They're In: Healing African American Babies' Skin Naturally

of Marlie and Me

When it comes to our brown babies, we take pride in keeping their skin healthy and blemish-free. So it can be distressing when you wake up one morning and see a patch of red, itchy bumps where there used to be smooth skin. Don't panic. It is common for babies and children to develop rashes because their still-developing immune systems are more prone to the bacteria/fungi that cause skin problems. The important thing is to identify a solution that clears up the infection without risking side effects. I learned that this is easier said than done.

My newborn has cradle cap and atopic eczema. Like all good parents we took her to the doctor. Thankfully, both rashes are mild, but her pediatrician still recommended treatment to prevent them from spreading (did you know that cradle cap can migrate to the face and as far as the tops of your child's feet? yikes!). My daughter's pediatrician advised me to wash the affected areas with a medicated dandruff shampoo, apply an over-the-counter cortisone cream and a commercial analgesic lotion. Have you read the labels on these products? They are full of harmful chemicals and alcohols and sulfates, which can further irritate the skin. Uh, no thanks! I wasn't willing to expose my baby to these toxins or compromise her health.

I set out to find a natural alternative, but my initial search left me frustrated and a bit discouraged. There are tons of web sites shilling their "miracle" salves, lotions, powders, and shampoos. Never trust a source trying to sell you something, right? I found the holistic sites somewhat helpful. They provide a lot of information on prevention, but offered little practical advice about homeopathic treatments. I almost gave up until I realized that the most trusted resource was right at my finger tips. I emailed other natural mamas, and they sent these recipes* to help my baby girl's skin heal:

Mix together:
1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
5 drops tea tree oil

Use a soft-bristle brush to massage mixture into scalp loosening the flakes/scales. Let sit 10-15 minutes. Wash out with an organic shampoo like Dr. Bronner's Mild Baby Soap to remove oil. Gently detangle any remaining flakes from the hair with a comb. Moisturize scalp with a dab of a light oil like sweet almond oil with vitamin E. Repeat until scalp is clear.

Mix together:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 drops grapefruit seed extract

Rub mixture on affected areas twice a day until rash disappears completely (typically 10-14 days).

Mix together:
2 tablespoons pure aloe vera gel
2 drops tea tree oil
1 cup distilled water

Use a cotton ball to apply to affected areas for instant relief. It's also a great cleanser for the diaper area.

(for older kids and adults)
1 teaspoon of Neem oil
1 teaspoon Tea Tree oil
1 teaspoon of Rosemary oil
1 teaspoon of Lavender oil

Add the oils together to one cup of distilled water in a spray bottle. Shake vigorously then spray onto your roots.

Note: Children can be sensitive to some essential oils. Before using any of these recipes do an allergy check by applying a small amount to the inner arm, what a few hours, and check for any reaction. Report any irritation to ask your child's pediatrician.

You've heard the saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Natural remedies are not cures. In order to prevent a recurrence of the rash you'll need to examine your child's diet and daily skin care regimen. What goes into their little bodies affects the condition of their skin more than what goes on it. My breastfed baby is allergic to dairy so I have to stop eating foods made from cow's milk to avoid another eczema flare-up. Other common food allergies include eggs, nuts, soy, wheat, and seafood. When your child develops a rash, take note of what (s)he child ate the day before. If you suspect a food allergy is the culprit, discuss it with the pediatrician. Other prevention tips I recommend are:

• Avoid detergents and beauty products that contain perfumes/fragrance, dyes, and drying chemicals. Don't be fooled by terms such as "hypoallergenic" or "doctor-approved." Read the label.

• Keep skin hydrated, especially in the winter. Use organic creams with thick emollients as the base (coconut butter, shea butter) and contain healing elements (calendula, vitamin E, aloe vera, lavender). I use Episencials Better Body Butter on Marlie several times a day.

• Consider vitamin supplements. Omega 3s promote healthy skin development from within and probiotics will boost your child's immune system so that it can keep the bad bacteria in check.

• Here's to healthy skin for all our beautiful brown babies!

:: Sources ::

About our contributor:
New mommy TERESHA FRECKLETON-PETITE lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and 5-month-old daughter, whom she's raising the conscious way—natural childbirth, breastfeeding, cloth diapers, whole food nutrition, organic products. For Teresha, everything is trial and error—then she blogs all about it at Marlie and Me.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

The MyBrownBaby Beautiful Mind Writing Contest :: January '10 Edition

In my quest to provide a forum for and celebrate great writing, I kicked off The MyBrownBaby Beautiful Mind Writing Contest—a writing challenge in which I invite MyBrownBaby readers to write an essay/post inspired by a topic of my choosing. This month, I’m kicking off the second contest with the topic, “Something New.”

My guest judge is the absolutely ah-mazing Akila of Execumama; she’s an incredible writer who not only shares her beautiful mind on her inspiring blog, but also authored Execumama: A Pocket Guide For the Twenty-something Mommy on the Move, a tome that helps young moms figure out how to balance—and have—it all. If anybody knows how to make that happen, it’s Akilah. Most of all, I’m so proud to call Akilah, a mom of the fabulous Marley and Sage, my in-real-life friend. She rocks, and I know she’ll rep the judging lovely.

The winner of this month’s Beautiful Mind Writing Contest gets lots of nifty gifts, including a “MyBrownBaby Beautiful Minds Contest Winner” button, the winning essay featured here on MyBrownBaby, and a custom-made Inspirational Leather Cuff from jeweler Michelle Verbeeck. I won one of these in a contest over at Feminist Review (a really cool blog with some great writing—check it out HERE); my cuff, which Michelle is creating as you read this, features the last line from my favorite poem, Nikki Giovanni’s Ego Tripping: “I mean… I… can fly like a bird in the sky…” I can’t wait for mine, and I know the lucky (and talented!) winner of this month’s contest will love her/his, too.

Here's how to get in on the action:

1. Write a post on this month's theme, "Something New," then email your post's permalink to me at MyBrownBabyBeautifulMind at (The permalink is the URL of the individual post—not the URL of your blog; to find it, click on the post title or time stamp and copy the URL in the address field. I’ll accept entries through Thursday, January 21. If you miss that deadline, I will still publish your link with the list of entries, but it will not be judged. Submissions that fail to meet the topic or that contain objectionable content will be disqualified. Please look for a confirmation email from me saying I received your entry.

2. Publish a link to this MyBrownBaby contest page in your entry post—as a courtesy and to let your blog readers know about the contest. Who knows—maybe they’ll want to join in on the fun!

3. Check back here on Tuesday, January 26th, when I will post a complete list of the entries along with the MyBrownBaby Beautiful Mind Winner and three Honorable Mentions.

4. As a “thank you!” I will list all entries along with the first two sentences of each post to give MyBrownBaby readers an idea of what you’ve written. (Please note: To assure you that the judge picks the winner solely on the writing, I will show her only the text of your post—no blog name, no pictures, nothing that might identify you to the judge.) In addition to the featured prize, the winner will get an “I’m A MyBrownBaby Beautiful Mind” button to post on her/his site.

Happy writing!

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wordful Wednesday: Homage to a (Rare) Singer Who Loves Us Just the Way We Are

I'm not going to complain and moan about the sorry state of music today—how it degrades and insults and reaches for the lowest common denominator. My complaints about such things are legendary.

No, today, I want to sing praises. For Bilal. A ridiculously talented artist with a vocal range that soars with the angels and gets low with the devil and dances all through the spaces in between. He is eclectic. Insightful. Beautiful. Respectable. And respectful.

He's only had one official album release—2001's First Born Second (a second offering, Love For Sale, never made it to store shelves). But he still performs regularly; I last saw him on the stage with Common, at the Maxwell concert in North Carolina, where he and Common worked a remix of the rapper's song, Come Close to Me. Bilal was singing the hook to his hit single, Soul Sista, over Common's lyrics; he was delicious. And though access to his musical brilliance is severely limited, I adore Bilal still.

Below is the video for the song that made me love him. What choice do I have when this man, with this angelic voice, dedicates a song to doing right by his lover? Like, when does that ever show up in a song these days?

You better sing, Bilal.

Sing, baby.

Bilal-Soul Sista - Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thank sweet baby Jesus—the kids are back in school.

Please understand, I love my babies with abandon.

But don't let those cute, chocolately faces fool you. Two whole, looooooooooong weeks of them running amok around this house? Drinking up all the punch, leaving potato chip crumbs all over my good couch and sticky toxic waste-like juice spills on the floors and counters, watching endless SpongeBob, iCarly, and Phineas and Ferb reruns, slamming doors, screaming like lunatics, tattling like little rats, engaging in straight up Ali/Frazier hand-to-hand combat, and interrupting my business calls, talking about, “I’m bored”?

Oh yeah, it was time for them… to… go.

I mean, we had our bright moments, Mari and Lila and I: Those Christmas presents—particularly the Tasty Science, Chemistry Lab, Fashion Studio, and countless Wii games—helped break up the monotony. For like, five minutes a piece and whatnot. And importing their little friends over to the house kinda took the drama down a notch or two, except that five little giggly girls decked out in “party” dresses for fancy guest room soirees replete with a feast of Tostitos, Cheez-its, and Chewy Sweet Tarts, can trash a room better than Axl Rose on a post-concert adult elixir high.

Mostly, Mari and Lila wanted to hang up under us. Which is really sweet and great and all for, like, the first day. But fifteen? Fifteen?!

Uh, uh—no ma’am. Jesus be the homeroom bell on the first day of school after a long break.

They gone.

Let the church say, Aaaaaaaaaaa-men!

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Off On His Own: Preparing For Our Son's Big College Send-Off

I’ve known Mazi since he was two—a precocious little boychild with a smile as wide as the sea and eyes so bright they’d melt a thousand stars. Though it’s been a lifetime since he and his father came into my life, it feels like just yesterday that I was holding his little hand in mine, walking barefoot through the grass at Ft. Green Park—giggling and twirling and talking about nothing and everything.

Mazi’s mom raised him with lots of love, filled him with the pride of his people, and encouraged him to brilliant, and later, when he got taller and fresher and started smelling himself, his mother mustered up the courage to send her boy off to live with his father—because, well, boys need their fathers. To guide them. Encourage them. Apply the pressure. Love them. Mush ‘em in the head when the situation calls for it, too.

Show them how to be men.

I’ve played my part, too, you know—had a hot dinner on the table, waiting for him every night. Taught him how to wash his own clothes—even how to get the stink out of his football gear (no easy fete!). Helped him understand those lil’ girls he called himself dating. Talked him off the ledge whenever he and his Daddy got into their wars of will, and he just couldn’t understand why the son can never, ever win over the father.

Things that will help him be a better man.

Mazi is (almost) a man now. And in no less than six months, he’ll be heading off to college—off to the first day of the rest of his life on his own. And though the three of us have done our part to help him make it to that day intact, I can’t help but to look at him differently, to wonder what will become of that precocious little boychild-turned-almost man. An honor student with great grades in the classroom and game on the football field, Mazi is headed for one of the country’s elite institutions, for sure. He’s busy sending out applications, meeting with college coaches, and visiting universities, all while maintaining A’s and B’s in his honors and AP courses and working with a few school groups on extracurricular activities. But even as I see him getting it done, I fret about whether we’ve done enough to see him through. It seems like there’s so much more to teach him.

Like, shouldn’t he learn how to cook the perfect scrambled egg?

Or how to iron a shirt with buttons?

Or make a grocery list and shop with coupons?

Or type a paper with more than just two fingers?

Or how to get over a broken heart?

I know he’s on his way to being a grown-up. It’s just hard to imagine letting go of this part of us—our heart, whom we spent 17 years raising. No matter how big, smart, sensible, or accomplished he is/gets, I don’t think any of us will be able to turn off our overwhelming need to make sure our son is emotionally, physically, and mentally safe and sound.

Figuring out how to be a part of his life, while letting him actually live his life, will be the big challenge.

Time keeps ticking.

I think he’s gonna make it.

And somehow, so will we.

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