Friday, December 26, 2008

Do you celebrate Kwanzaa?

"The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa" by soulchristmas
Okay, Kwanzaa has always felt like a made up holiday to me. I mean, it is a made up holiday but it always felt like folks were trying too hard. It felt contrived. Maybe I just don't get it.

Nonetheless, I highly value the message behind Kwanzaa and think that as the boys get older, we may observe Kwanzaa.
(The Seven Principles)

Kwanzaa Symbol - Umoja (unity)
Umoja (Unity)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
Kwanzaa symbol- Kujichagulia (self-determination
Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
Kwanzaa Symbol - Ujima (collective work and responsibility)
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Kwanzaa symbols - Nia (purpose)
Nia (Purpose)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Kwanzaa symbol - Kuumba (Creativity)
Kuumba (Creativity)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
Kwanzaa symbol - Imani (faith)
Imani (Faith)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

­ Maulana Karenga
From The official Kwanzaa website

There's one Kwanzaa celebration going on at the library next Monday. I'm going to take the Zs. I'm on the lookout for more, though.

What are your thoughts?? Do you celebrate Kwanzaa? How and why?

While I don't celebrate Christmas,

I do enjoy the energy that's in the air around this time. This year, however, the energy was not so, ummm, energetic. I guess it's going to take a while for people to become accustomed to less stuff. I heard the disappointment in my niece's voice about her lack of Christmas gifts this year. I know many are feeling the same way.

Anyway, everyone knows I like to bake and so that's what I decided to do this year. I made banana bread and pumpkin bread. Unfortunately, the banana breads that I made got burnt on the bottoms pretty badly because I had them in the oven on too high a temperature trying to get them to bake all the way through in an hour instead of an hour and 15-20 minutes. The temperature was far too high: 400 when it was supposed to be 350. I think I will try 375 next time and check every five minutes after it has been in there for 40 minutes. Or just bake the darn things at 350 for an hour and 15-20 minutes. (LoL . . . I hate when my impatience gets the best of me.) Luckily, those ones were going to family so I sliced off the burnt bottom of one and packaged it then sliced off the burnt bottom of another one and cut it into slices and served it on a plate. I still want to bake for some other friends but I'm not sure when I will have time to bring it to them or when they'll have time to pick it up. Anyway, here's how I presented the bread:I'm thinking that next year I will start early to advertise doing holiday breads and cookies. This was the first one I did and as I did more, I think they got better. The cellophane wrap and the ribbon all came from the 99c Store. I wrapped the bread in clear plastic wrap first so that the bread wouldn't be directly against the cellophane. I'm thinking I could sell a loaf or a dozen cookies for maybe $15, wrapped and all and I'd make a good profit. We'll see.
In other news,I went to Super Stop and Shop to pick up a few things the other day. I wanted to buy some more Noxzema. I noticed they had the store brand right next to it for half the price. The great thing, though, was that it was missing many of the questionable ingredients in Noxzema like methyparaben and propylparaben. And it seems to work just as well. I think what I'm going to do is stick with the knock-off Noxzema for daily cleansing and do an oil cleansing once a week. It's a bit of a time consuming process so that's why I think once weekly will have to suffice.

I borrowed Dance of the Inches: Fat Burning Belly Dance from the library and I like it. It's fun to do and Z1 does it too. Z2, on the other hand, seems to feel like he's being ignored and will not stay in his playpen. When I take him out, he tries to climb me. You cannot get your belly dance on with a baby trying to climb you. It makes for good comedic material. Anyway, I found the DVD on ebay for about $5. I also borrowed Wai Lana's beginner's yoga cd. It's due today and I haven't even popped it into the player. Hope I can renew it and get to it.

Well, here's to hoping that the year ends out peacefully.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

True Mothering Revolutionizes the World

"Black Madonna" by Katherine Skaggs

Let There Be Peace on Earth

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gingerbread Cookies, Pancakes and Reusable Bags

No, there's no clever connection between the three but I thought I'd talk about the three of them in one post anyway.

Firstly, gingerbread cookies. It's the holiday season and it's the one and only time I make these. I absolutely hate rolling out cookie dough and using cookie cutters. I think aside from being annoying, it's also wasteful. In any case, last Friday I was going to do a cookie swap. I made about 2 dozen gingerbread cookies only for it to snow. The swap was canceled. We couldn't finish the cookies on our own and by now, they're getting stale. But Z1 had a great time using the cookie cutter. I use Paula Deen's Ginger Cookie Recipe except that I make it vegan by using Earth Balance buttery spread (the EB's shortening or refined coconut oil, i.e. tasteless and odorless coconut oil work well too) and one egg replacer. I also add a 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and a touch of vanilla extract too. Not everyone is a fan of gingerbread cookies and while I don't love them the best out of all the cookies I make, I enjoy them. Plus, they're very holiday-ish. :)

Secondly, pancakes. Now, I have had a heck of a time making vegan pancakes over the last couple of years. I have been using a recipe that is just so-so until today. I borrowed You Won't Believe It's Vegan, a cookbook by Lacey Sher and Gail Doherty from the library and tried their recipe. I did have to add some sugar, a little cinnamon and nutmeg, and a touch more liquid than the recipe called for but the texture was absolutely *perfect*. Fluffy and light and cooked all the way through. Delicious. I wish I had made the full recipe (I made half because I wasn't sure how they would turn out.)

And thirdly, I find that in my predominantly Black town (the town is basically split in half by the proverbial tracks--I live on the not-so-great side of the tracks but it's not quite so bad because I'm still relatively close to the tracks . . . I guess), I'm one of the very few folks who use reusable bags. I don't mind because I'm one of the few folks who do a lot of things up in this hood. Despite some of the funky looks cashiers give me when I hand them my bags (because using plastic bags is so methodical and habitual), I really have made using reusable bags a good habit. And I hope more folks start bringing their own bags. Now, I know it's chic to use reusable bags and they're all kinds of designer reusable bags. I'm not a designer girl. I've bought most of my reusable bags at the thrift store for 50 cents to a dollar a piece. Basically I buy nice, strong canvas bags and they work very well. I also have canvas bags that I've collected free from events and stuff. Of course, all my bags are all mismatched but I couldn't care less. They do the job. At one point, I went to and purchased reusable produce bags, basically unbleached cotton bags. Now, the concept behind these are great: no more of those small, clear plastic bags to hold your produce. The only problem is that it makes checking out a royal pain in the behind because the cashier has to look into each bag to figure out what it is you're trying to buy. A minor inconvenience that has pretty much kept me from using them consistently. But they make great tea bags and nut bags (for making almond milk).

And lastly, Just Me over at her blog My Slice of Pie posted Monday's Meal: Buttermilk Biscuits which inspired me for tomorrow's breakfast. I've got some tempeh bacon marinating in the fridge right now and we'll have that with the biscuits. Yum. I can't wait!!!

Four totally unrelated topics, I know, but, it is what it is. :)

12/23/08, 10:49AM ETA:

Breakfast was the bomb today!! Thanks just me for the recipe (which I vegan-ized)!! Simple with fabulous results. Yum!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


("Birthday Box" by clevercupcakes on

Today is the light that I commemorate the day I came Earth-side. In other words, it's my birthday. I'm not giddy with excitement like when I was a child and it seemed to take forever for my birthday to arrive. But I'm profoundly joyful. I'm choked up with gratitude at having another year added to my life. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude because of all the blessings I have today. I'm so grateful that I have finally learned to tap into my inner wisdom and I'm proud to say that I no longer make the same mistakes I used to make. I have grown and changed so much this last year--in some ways that I haven't expected. I'm pleased but I know I have a lot more to work on.

I searched for a birthday affirmation/prayer that I could focus on today and couldn't find one so I'm going to focus today on gratitude and wisdom and what I am.

I am
An Affirmation of Power

I am good!
I am good at all the good things I am doing and dreaming!
I am good at doing good and being good which means I am open to receiving good!!
I am so good that good is looking for me to be good with!
Good is on its way to me, and that is good for me!

I am now openly receiving good things in every aspect of my life!
I am grateful for my good!
I am grateful for good opportunities!
I am grateful for good experiences!
I am good at everything I do!
I am renewed to do more good!
I am invigorated by the good I do!
I am rejuvenated by the good things I do and the good experiences I have!
I am excited about being so good!
I am good at being powerful!
I am good at demonstrating the brilliant power of my goodness!
I am surrounded by good!
I am engulfed by good!
I am completely good!
I am perfectly good!
I am totally good, inside and out!
I am richly rewarded for all the good I a!
I give off good and good returns to me!
Who I am is a good thing to be!

From Until Today by Iyanla Vanzant


There's lots of snow and ice on the ground where I am. I would like to go to my favorite Ethiopian restaurant today. A break from cooking dinner would be a nice gift. But I am not sure the weather will permit. I'm not sure we should be spending money on eating out because I can think of about 10 other ways that money could be put to better use. In the spirit of learning to be content with what you have, learning to be happy without doing anything but being happy, I'm going to be happy today no matter what I end up doing. So many around me are down and sad because this Christmas is not going to be one filled with a lot of stuff. It's an interesting and difficult time to be alive. Now while I have a difficult time feeling light and airy when I know the gravity of our situation in this country, no, the world, I'm going to have a Happy Birthday!!

(Oh, by the way, if you use images on your blog, how do you correctly reference/give credit? A lot of the time, I just use google images but I don't take the time to find out the origin of the picture or it's just not clear. But I'd like to give credit where credit is due. Does it only matter if you're trying to use the images for profit? How do you handle pictures on your blog? What about recipes and patterns for that matter? I had a video on Youtube and the artist contacted me and asked me to take down her artwork which I did but then I started thinking about this blog and wondering what I should do about the art on here. I'm not very graphically inclined but . . . I guess I wouldn't mind having a more plain page. Anyway, any input is very much appreciated. I found this excellent article so from now on, I'll follow that advice! It's easy enough.)

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