It Doesn’t Matter If You’re In Black And White

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Contrary to the weather reports, Spring is here! Even though we may encounter some flurries here or there we can’t fight the urge to update our wardrobe for the impending warmth. With that being said, lets talk about what’s hot this season; Black and White! Black and white is the simplest most classically chic combination you can wear if done right.

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Adding a simple pop of color could take you to a whole new level of fashionista if done right.

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It can also create the perfect silhouette. Notice all the clean crisp lines, it’ll make you feel like a tailor personally sewn your clothes on your body.
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Even if you want to wear color you can’t go wrong with black and white accessories.

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If you don’t have a clue what color looks best on you, remember, “It doesn’t matter if you wear black and white”!
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So Long, Abistro

If you live in or near Ft Greene, Brooklyn, chances are you’ve had brunch or dinner at Abistro on Dekalb Ave. url-3

Spicy pancakes, senegalese fried chicken, their signature senegalese breakfast, coconut oil seared plantains, sorrel mimosas…I will stop.  Truth is, this place is one of the BEST spots in Brooklyn for brunch.  Their menu is one of a kind!   Labeled as “African Infused Cuisine” and prepared by Chef Abdul Gueye (owned by he & his wife), this place is a favorite for Brooklynites.

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So when I went by there tonight for dinner, I was disappointed and saddened when Chef Abdul told me they’d be closing in just a couple of weeks.  Abistro is not just a place that my circle & I choose for casual brunch, but it’s where I chose to spend my last birthday and where my good friends Marcus & Dawn chose to host their engagement party.  It’s where my sister will be having her birthday brunch, this coming weekend!  There’s something about the place and the chef that makes it feel like ‘home’.

Tonight, I had the citrus salmon. No drinks this go ’round.  I also think I was the last to leave the restaurant.  Just, very sad for more reasons than I care to mention.url-4

If you have not had their food, I HIGHLY recommend you try it out within the next two weeks.  If you are a regular..make sure you have your last few cups of coffee with a hint of cinnamon.

fun birthday brunch

fun birthday brunch

So long, Abistro.

Visit their website

250 Dekalb Brooklyn, NY 11205 (347) 384-2972

the big & small (short) man (how to dress to impress)

copyImageThe big and small man. You either know him, or are him. Did you ever identify with Skeelo when he sang “I wish I was a little bit taller”, while feeling rounder than the average bear? Do you tend to buy oversized clothes to disguise your size? Did you know that that just makes you look ridiculously bigger and shorter?!

While you can’t make yourself taller and becoming slim may take some time, you should love the skin you’re in. And I’m going to share some tips that’ll help.

1. The tailor is your best friend!! This actually goes for everyone; a well tailored outfit can turn you from a zero to hero. The trick is to get a piece of clothing (shirt, pants etc.) that fits the biggest part of your body and get the rest of that garment tailored to your body.

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2. Never ever ever ever look at, buy, or wear pleated pants! Not only do they offend me, they offend your waistline. On that note, always wear a belt. This makes you appear thinner and taller.

3. Vertical stripes gives anyone length.

4. If you wear suits make sure the jacket has no more than 3 buttons and always leave one unbuttoned. And the jacket should be no longer than your waist.

5. Just because your bigger doesn’t mean shy away from color, it just means the brighter color should be on the smaller part of you and the darker on the bigger.

6. Let’s talk about patterns because I love them. And so can you, just know plaid probably isn’t a good idea.

These are just some tips to go by. If you need help just ask me. I wish I could’ve gotten a model for an impromptu photoshoot to display these rules, but I was pressed for time.

Just Say No – to Playing for Free

Musicians! Something must be in the air.  We said it last week twice: I love to eat  & I love to eat but do I deserve my food and just saw that pianist & entrepreneur Jade Simmons said the same thing. Soooo glad to not be alone in this matter!

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On March 15, Jade listed on her Emerge Already Blog some of the not-so-great reasons (but reasons musicians are often presented with) to play for free including

  • The Free Meal
  • Awesome Connections
  • Exposure

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She elaborates on each matter!  As professionals, these reasons really need to be reassessed.

Jade then lists what to think about, should you consider playing for free.

  • Designate (time or # of free work you’ll do per year)
  • Ask Yourself Questions: Could this event really afford you? You know what she’s saying: it’s held at the Waldorf Astoria, catered by the top caterer and planned by the best planner in town, etc.
  • Require a “Special and confidential” clause in your contract.

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That third point there? That’s important.  Your contract needs to state everything a paying gig would, including the price it would cost.  When a client sees what the artist is worth, it helps them to further value the product (you).

“The point is don’t be mindless about your charitable performances. Make smart decisions that continue to establish your worth as an artist.” – Jade Simmons

If you don’t know about Jade, check her out! Follow her on twitter @jadesimmons and musicians? Spend $8 on her Emerge Already ebook! 

 

Thank us later.

Everyday People Brunch

After hearing about this monthly brunch, I finally went down to the LES to check it out last weekend.  Hosted by Chef Roble & Saada, it’s basically a free daytime party if you’re just going for the hang, and if you want to eat, it’s about $38.00 for a buffet style brunch and unlimited mimosas.

The food? Amazing!  I am a foodie. They gave the option of eggs or egg whites.  There was no pork on the menu, which didn’t surprise me.  The shrimp & grits were incredible and so were the chicken, biscuits & gravy.  Clearly, I had a fight with my conscious and I won.  What a sinful delight.

The scene? Definitely the trendy Afro-hippie Brooklyn type. The place was full of flashy dressers, models and socialites.  It was like a club…but on a Sunday afternoon!  🙂 Here are some pics I found.

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Above photos by  Lee Moulton

blair & jay

@jayfingers & @blairaaa

blair & brandee

blair, jay me

taken with someone’s iphone

Before it got really thick.

Would I go again? Yes…but I’ll make sure I go early.

Check out more pics on FB.

Check out their Tumblr

guerrilla, growing, gardening!

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Learning from Will Allen, about the fish systems at Growing Power

It’s no secret that my cousin is the amazing Will Allen of Growing Power.  If you don’t know who he is…visit Growingpower.org  and buy the book The Good Food Revolution. Life changing…world changing are all understatements.   Recently,  I’ve been checking out designer Ron Finley’s approach.  Now if we could only multiply these men by thousands.

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There’s a whole bunch of tilapia in there, and I’m holding the net like I know what I’m doing! I did nothing BUT hold the net.

This fall I had the opportunity to visit Growing Power in Milwaukee, WI.  The greenhouses, the fish systems, the bees, the goats, the chickens — it was all unreal (being that in the tri state area…I don’t see this often).  Having attended my cousins lectures in the past, it’s still like it’s brand new each time.  Learning about composting for soil, for heat, for power…and about the importance of worms, eeeew!

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picking peppers, in one of Growing Power’s hoop houses in an abandoned schoolyard!

GP builds these hoop houses which enables them to grow farms just about ANYWHERE! I’m talking abandoned schoolyards, abandoned fire houses, you name it!

Another one of the many great things Growing Power does, is hire ex-offenders.  They train (paid) for 12 months and after completing training, are guaranteed a job with the organization.  What an incredible way to start anew!   Building gardens on street corners where drugs & violence are prevalent has discouraged violence! Oh what a difference some flowers can make 🙂

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picking veggies in another abandoned schoolyard parking lot

As a musician, I run into people of all walks of life and the one constant among them all is sustainability.  Self sustainability.   How can we be in control of what we are putting into our bodies?  What we are disposing and putting into our environment?  Living in NY where space is a challenge, there are community gardens, rooftop gardens and plenty of efforts to help each and every one of us take control of our future.

harp on hay

Ever seen a harp on Hay? After playing at the 2013 Urban & Small Farm Conference.

Learn how you can help Growing Power, and also learn how you can contribute to the building of the world’s first 5 story vertical farm!

Visit their Facebook page.

Purchase an eco friendly journal!

i love to eat, but do i deserve my food?

To look at “I love to eat” from the other side, are artists presenting themselves as a business, so that they are treated as such?

Are we branded well? Have a professional presentation both online & in person? Is the product we’re offering clear?  In other words, are we valuing ourselves enough to invest in ourselves on the presentation side of things? Yes, we paid for the lessons, paid for the schooling, the summer programs, the groups/ensembles…but now that that’s over, are we WORKING for our work?  Or, are we just expecting work to be given to us because of all the hours of work & sweat that were put in?  What’s that word again? Entitlement? lol

What does your presentation say about you when people google you? What does your presentation say about you when people see you, meet you & have a conversation with you?  How is your delivery?

Just some questions worth answering before WE – the artists – continue to rant about how we feel undervalued.

i love to eat

Don’t you?  You go to work every day hopefully, in order to be fulfilled spiritually and satisfied financially.  This way, you can have a place to live, eat the food you like and enjoy your time off, right?

I’ve been an artist just about my entire adult life and still can’t understand why there are so many people around that believe we are doing what we love, just because we love it and because it is fun.  If a full time artist every tells you that, they’re lying.

Just like a teacher goes to work everyday to teach our youth, or the way a cop spends the day fighting crime, I bet you these jobs are fulfilling for many of them, but I’m not sure that many cops & teachers go to work and agree to not be paid for a couple of their work days.  Do you?

So why are people constantly asking musicians to play for free or as the people say, ‘for exposure’? Why are so many writers asked to contribute to publications for resume building? Photographers, dancers, stylists, publicists…the list goes on.   Maybe that’s cool at 18, 19, 20…as a student or just starting out, but where & when is the line drawn?  When will ARTISTS VALUE THEMSELVES so that the PEOPLE VALUE THE ARTISTS?

After college, artists have bills just like the next 9-5er.  They want to have a place to live,  support a family, have good food to eat and enjoy their time off, too.   General public: don’t gawk when you’re quoted a price for a service.  Consider all the time, sweat & money that went into being able to provide it.

More to come.