I attempted to knit several times over the last seven years. Anyone who tried to teach could not do it "backwards" as it was put since I'm a sinister southpaw. Recently, my best friend began knitting, self-taught no less, and encouraged me try again. I thought that youtube should surely have some videos for lefties wanting to knit. Still recently, I discovered my sister-in-law crochets and she suggested I try that since handedness is less an issue. Too impatient to wait for her to teach me, I bookmarked tons of youtube videos and five bucks later was crocheting. It was some kinda instant gratification to begin a project with one hook, one skein of yarn, and  knowing the basic chain stitch and the single crochet stitch. The chain stitch is the equivalent of "casting on" in knitting. 

My red scarf is affectionately known as the "beautiful disaster" because my stitches are too tight and it got messy on some of those turns, but I made it. I used a Susan Bates aluminum I9 hook and Red Hearts 7 oz. yarn and have a nice bit remaining.

Once i stopped practicing the chain stitch and decided to make a finished piece, I joined the Crochetville forum. I was promptly introduced to two of the best resources yet: NexStitch and Art of Crochet: Stitch Video Guide. Their high-quality videos are short, clear, and easy to follow.

I'm already in love with this craft. It's going to be another economical way to make things for my family and gift giving. And who doesn't like handmade goodies? Well, I've got some super cute apple green yarn and another hook, K10.5, which is slightly bigger than the I9. Notice the sequential lettering and numbering? Anyway, you'll just have to stay tuned to see what I attempt next.

Happy Hooking!

I did an exercise with the Mr. a week ago where we wrote down our master plans then exchanged lists with each other. A few days later, we hit a major bump in our marriage. As I reflect on my spirituality and what improvements I need to make to get over this hump, I thought more about my life goals. We both need to know where we want to go as individuals and as a couple. I've always thought myself attuned to what I wanted whereas my husband recently realized he never sits still long enough to ponder such things. I started my life list so I can not only keep track of what I accomplish but what I don't and why AND how the list evolves. 

We are all constantly evolving beings whose goals must follow suit or we may be crushed under the weight of expectations that may no longer be what is destined. 

A few of my goals are to become an advanced swimmer, finish my undergrad degree, write a homeschool curriculum, and complete a 5k marathon. You can check out the complete list here. I'll hyperlink each item to my goal completion posts. 

I can tell you that I'm actively working on my Bachelor's degree in Sociology, homeschooling my son, practicing my chain stitch, and reading breastfeeding literature.

Do you have a life list? What items are you actively pursuing?

Happy living!

My Trinidadian mother-in-law is visiting and wanted to share a recipe perfect for vegetarians. Dahl (dal, dhal, daal) is Indian in origin and usually made from dried lentils, peas, or beans. Yellow split peas is the common choice in Trinidad for this savory dish and it's served over rice. Dahl is great for vegetarians because it's main ingredient is a good source of protein. To really maximize the protein, I've chosen to eat it over a bed of quinoa. I'll talk more about this iron and fiber rich, gluten-free grain in a future post.

Now, my mother-in-law gave me the "recipe" verbally and I usually don't follow written ones to the letter anyway. So, I don't have precise measurements for what I used. This will be on the spicy side which is typical of Indian cuisine but leaving the rice or quinoa unseasoned will balance it out and of course for those who like it extra spicy, like myself, you can add more seasoning to taste.

1 cup yellow split peas
2 cups water
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cardamom
2 tbsp. curry
couple pinches sea salt
tsp butter

Cooking directions
Put all ingredients in and simmer on low medium heat until reaching a stew like consistency. Stir regularly. Serve over steamed rice or quinoa. This will make enough for about 4 servings.

I served this with sweet potatoes as seen in the pic. I know the potatoes look boring but they weren't. I drizzled some local whipped cinnamon honey over them so, I had the sweet and savory flavors rockin' my world. Please share comments if you try this one. Enjoy!
Note: Sorry my pic isn't really good. I don't have a digital camera. I wouldn't object to a donation. *wink* 

The kid, the Mr., and I checked out the first annual GreenUp Memphis fest on Saturday. It was on the same grounds as the Memphis Farmers Market. I rarely ever go to that farmers market since it's clear across town from my domain. It was chilly, windy morning but sunny. There weren't many vendors out. Mostly they were folks peddling their homemade wares. The Overton High School Jazz Band provided some splendid tunes for the event. I was really hoping for more eco-friendly product vendors especially household products. At one booth were some ladies representing an optional school who, after my husband told them we homeschool, still asked us to visit the school.  I will say that they were very sweet to my son as they helped him repurpose a soda can into a "ghost". Hopefully this will truly be annual and will improve next year. Attendance was very modest as it may have been competing with Race For the Cure. 

Here are my two cents on improving the festival:

* Get a sponsor like Target to donate reusable bags for attendees and to explain those awesome new color coded recycling containers they have in their stores. This would be a great teaching moment for kids on recycling things besides paper, aluminum, and glass.

* Get more vendors marketing eco-friendly household products like programmable thermostats, food grade stainless steel water bottles, linens made from sustainable materials (i.e. bamboo), rain water barrels, tankless water heaters, etc.

* Have demonstrations on repurposing common items, composting, container gardening, etc. 

Again, I'd love to see this become a super event for Memphis and get my fellow residents moving to a more sustainable lifestyle. Thumbs up for the effort Memphis. 

While it wasn't completely what I hoped for, we did leave with a few spoils-- Muscadine Jelly, (local) creamed cinnamon honey, and some beautiful tomatoes

I've read comments via Twitter and other websites about natural hair trending as a fad. It came up again recently and a good friend came to the defense of natural hair wearers by simply stating "...if anything it's a MOVEMENT...". Well said. I can understand the impression that this suddenly explosive natural hair scene may give. It looks like every other black woman is jumping on the bandwagon. The annoying question is: How many of us will go back to relaxers after the fad is over?

Yes, I believe some women will go back to the creamy crack. That's just part of the journey for most of us including myself for a brief period. Some may forever return to relaxers. To each her own. What "going natural" is about is getting educated on how to care for and style hair not chemically treated. For the first time, there is a wealth of information on this topic for which Black women have obviously been starving. What naysayers should consider is that many Black women have long since desired to be natural but just did not know what to do with their hair. Think about it, many of us went from plaits to relaxed hair. We often only learned to style bone-straight hair or had someone else maintaining it for us (e.g. stylists). If the products and know how had been available all along, this could very well not be a discussion. So many of us were taught that only chemical straightening could make our hair manageable and beautiful. This movement is liberating Black women from Euro-centric ideas of beauty, extensive and long term hair damage, lost time spent waiting on overbooked stylists, and mental and financial burdens of "getting their hair done".

Next summer, I'll quietly celebrate fifteen years of natural hair. I say quietly because for so many years, I had no community but was a lone soldier converting one Black woman's head of hair at a time. So, the community aspect is refreshing but I'm still finding my place in it and more on a local level. I'm delighted so many of us are embracing our natural hair and believe that for more than a few of us, it's a lifestyle change.

As for me and my hair, it's no fad.
Relive the African American struggle for freedom and the courage it took for the slaves to trek their way all over the United States as you move your piece along the map of the Underground Railroad.

Yes, that is real. It's The Underground Railroad: Escape to Freedom Game. It's $17.95. It's a board game. Players are runaway slaves. The object of the game is to escape to freedom in Canada. There are game pieces. There are challenge cards. I'm guessing maybe something like: "Doh! Slave catcher caught ya! Go directly to the auction block. DO NOT COLLECT YOUR FREEDOM PAPERS!".

I managed to collect myself long enough to snap this pic. I thought of snatching all the games from the shelf and setting them ablaze in the parking lot. I thought of simply "going off". I got my son's analogy workbook and left. So, the research commenced. I discovered that two of these board games exist and are produced by different companies. The one I stumbled upon is made by Black Heritage Toys. For what it's worth, Black Heritage Toys does make some other decent games and jigsaw puzzles that promote Black history, art and pioneers. But this, it's just foolishness being pawned off as educational. Amidst my web research, I discovered an Underground Railroad video game in the works first here then, here. I just don't see a kid, no matter how intelligent or studious, sharing some profound insight attained from simulating an escape to freedom from slavery. And it's not so much that it's offensive, though it is, but more that it's just weird and trivializes the Underground Railroad. Will there be a holocaust game? Oh wait...that's been done too. Okay, maybe an Atlantic slave trade board game. The objective is to survive the voyage to the New World and make a good showing on the auction block. THANK GOD I did not find such a game. If one exists, please do not tell me.

One Amazon reviewer, who admits to never having played the game, goes on a rant about the negative reviews of the game and even asks: "What exactly is the problem?". He also brings Frederick Douglas and Harriett Tubman into it and I thought about summoning Bill & Ted to go scoop them up so we could hear just what they'd have to say about folks "reliving" that experience.

So, what do you all think about board games and video games simulating some of history's worst crimes against humanity under the guise of "educational"?

About a month ago, an acquaintance rescued me from my fast swelling natural hair as we enjoyed a free outdoor concert with our fellow local naturals. She has dreads down to her arse and I have free flowing kinky curly shoulder length hair. So, how did she rescue me? She took off her Tomoka's hair twist and tied it around my hair. Now, you're probably wondering how a hair accessory that could hold dreads almost as tall as me could also secure about a three-quarters less hair. It's the ultra flexible copper wire! Not only does the flexibility make these a feasible option for almost any hair length and thickness, they won't damage natural hair. I do have to be careful with the tiny hooked ends of the wire to avoid snagging my hair, but this is a minor issue. So, far I've worn it as a headband and loved it. It's so lightweight and non-headache inducing unlike traditional headbands. The hair twists can be worn in almost any style imaginable, from headband to ponytail holder. Mimi Fleming, the owner and designer of Tomoka's Twists, has crafted such a nice variety of hair accessories that you'll find one for any and every occasion. 

Ms. Fleming is also a gracious business woman. After a couple of visits to the website and discovering her shop was still out of stock of the design I was most interested in, she took the time to find out exactly what I wanted and contacted me when it was available. Small business owners take note of excellent customer service. And I'm not mad at her for having such an in demand product. Even in a recession, I find her prices fairly reasonable. Considering the amount of ponytail holders I go through annually and that I could wear my "curly girl" hair twist EVERY.DAY, the $16 price tag was worth it. 

So, all my natural hair havin', dread lock wearin', curly 'fro pickin' beauties, click over to Tomoka's Twists and support a brown girl and handcrafting artisan.