What's Bubbling in the Stew?
"The only thing that is ever foolish about a dream is not to act on it."
- Pat Croce

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Unbelievable

I haven't blogged in awhile but this was so unbelievable I had to say something. Today, the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial came back as not guilty. I wasn't an avid follower of the case, but what amazed me most were the descriptions of Anthony's cavalier attitude. I know women who lost children, and one in particular whose child drowned in a swimming pool at the age of three. She didn't run out to the club, get some tattoos, lie to the police, or hide any bodies. She called the paramedics, did what she could to resuscitate her child, and when she couldn't, she wept. She mourned, she blamed God, she buried the pain. But the immense loss resurfaces, year after year after year, and each year she thinks about her toddler and the life truncated. And she's done the same thing for almost 40 years. I know everyone grieves differently, but I don't comprehend how Casey Anthony could have the time of her life: hitting the clubs, getting tattoos, acting like life is great, knowing her child is gone. And despite the improbable verdict, that is what bothers me the most. I'm praying for those that will grieve for Caylee Anthony for years to come. If they can't find justice, may God grant them peace.
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to Refinish Furniture

These posts are "How To's" that were recently removed from a popular site due to discontinuation of their writer compensation program.  I believe my work is worth more than the paltry buyout they offered, so I'm posting them here.  Please feel free to comment!

How to refinish laminate furniture
Summer is peak time for garage sales and great finds.  If you peruse Freecycle or dumpster dive for hidden gems, refinishing can be the perfect way to add your personal touch to a find.  This article is for refinishing a laminated item only.  
Can’t tell if you have a laminated item? The easiest way is to check the weight.  A lot of  newer (post 1970s) furniture is a laminate veneer applied over a lightweight plywood or mdf board.  If your piece is held together by staples or glue, it's probably a laminate veneer.  If you have a solid wood piece, DO NOT use these instructions.

As with any other project, the outcome is only as successful as your tools.  Depending on the size of the piece of furniture, you will need:
·         Phillips or flat head screwdriver,
·         (1) small or medium-sized plastic container (preferably with lid)
·         (1 -2) sheets 100 grit sandpaper,
·         assorted paint brushes (often sold in packs of 1-1/2”, 2”, & 3” sets),
·         (1) 3” roller with at least (1) refill
·         (1) gallon primer (depending on size of project)
·         (1) gallon paint (depending on size of project)
·         Several paint stir sticks
·         Painting tape (optional)
·         Cloth rags or paper towels
·         Cleaning supplies (optional)
·         Paint tray & disposable liner (optional)

Begin your project by thoroughly cleaning your item to remove any dust, dirt, or other soils.  As you are working with a laminate piece, prolonged exposure to water will harm the finish and is not recommended.  If you must clean with water, wipe off immediately with a dry cloth.   Remove all knobs, fasteners, hinges, and other hardware with the appropriate screwdriver.  After removed, insert screws about halfway inside the hardware to prevent misplacement.  Place all removed hardware inside of plastic container for reuse.
Use your 100 grit sandpaper to gently scuff the entire laminate surface.  This will make it easier for the primer to adhere to the piece of furniture.  Use a damp cloth to wipe off any residual dust and let dry.  Note:  If you skip this step, your paint may peel away from the laminate surface.
Open your primer (a flat head screwdriver will pry the top off) & stir thoroughly with a paint stick.  Pour a small amount into your paint tray, creating a shallow pool at the bottom.  Using your 3” roller, dip into paint, rolling the excess off in paint tray.  Apply to scuffed surface in thin, even coats.  Let dry.  Apply another coat and allow to dry again.
Once the primer is completely dry, apply the first coat of finish paint on top.  Allow to dry, then apply a second coat.  Use a third if necessary.
When you piece is finished drying, reattach the hardware you saved in the plastic container.

Enjoy your handiwork!   

Friday, June 24, 2011

How to Act at a Networking Event

Sometimes, the old adage is true:  getting where you want to be isn’t always about WHAT you know, but WHO you know.  And there’s no better way to expand your professional circle than attending a networking event.  In one well-attended gathering, you can connect with more people in 2 hours than you could in a month.  Not the social butterfly?  Here are some tips when you find yourself outside of your comfort zone.
You will need:
Willingness to meet new people
Business cards
Mints or gum
Business-friendly attire
Self-confidence


  • Be prepared.  Business cards, contact information, and some form of PDA are excellent ways to give and collect information.   As a back-up, bring pen and paper just in case you need them. 
  • Be confident.  Practice your "elevator speech" - a 45 second to 1 minute blurb about yourself and what you do in case you find yourself chatting with a prospective employer or someone you want to impress.
  • Be professional.  While networking events are often in bars, bowling alleys, or other laid-back settings, remember why you’re there.  Your off-work appearance reflects as much on your professionalism as anything else.  Dress for the occasion, but keep in mind your motive is expanding your professional network, not necessarily your dating circle. 
  • Not comfortable around new people?  Bring a friend to talk to.  Chances are they can help you gain the confidence to speak to someone else, or would be willing to be your ice breaker in meeting others.
  • Attend multiple events.  Networking is often not a one-time thing.  Go to more events until you feel familiar with the format and comfortable around other people.   Just like a game, practice will help you be ready to wow the people you want to impress.
  • Approach the unapproachable.  If you see someone by themselves or seemingly distant, walk up and introduce yourself.  Instead of being in a foul mood, they may be just as uncomfortable in an unfamiliar setting as you.  Even if they are intimidating, the simple act of surviving the encounter will give you assurance to try to talk to others.
  • Try to pinpoint a reason to speak.  Whether it be a nice purse, interesting hairdo, or great pair of shoes, compliment them on it and use that as an opening to a dialogue.  A simple conversation could open the door to furthering your career. 
  • Although networking events can be fun, be sure not to cross the line between professional and party.  A bad way to be remembered is for out-of-control behavior at an event.  While it’s fun to have a good time, you are still representing yourself.  You’ve done a lot to cultivate an image, don’t do anything to ruin a good first impression.
  • Follow up.  After you’ve made good connections, send a follow up email within a few days expressing your pleasure to meet them.  Mention any memorable part of the conversation, and show your enthusiasm for the opportunity to speak with them.  Consider inviting them to your professional network or add a tasteful plug for yourself if they expressed interest in your work. 
  • Be realistic.  Networking is a great way to meet people, but don’t expect instant miracles.  It may take more than one event to feel like you’ve made good connections.  Keep going, and in time, you’ll be networking like a pro.
Pen and paper are also good tools to jot down notes about opportunities you hear directly or indirectly for follow up later.
Leave the skimpy outfits, torn jeans, and wife-beater T-shirts at home.  General rule of thumb: if you have to ask yourself, “Is this professional?” it probably isn't.
Don't oversell or push.  While you met a lot of interesting people, you didn't make any instant best friends.  Even if you are thrilled, keep a cool exterior until any prospect comes to fruition.
Popping a mint or gum is appreciated by all around, but kindly offering it to others can serve as an ice breaker. 

The Art of Regifting

Nowadays, broke no longer seems like a temporary condition, but a permanent description.  Despite our lack of finances, life keeps rolling on.  The invites to baby showers, weddings, graduations, birthday parties, housewarmings and holiday get-togethers arrive in a steady pace; our seemingly eternal broke-ness makes us dread these gatherings instead of celebrating them.  Parties mean gifts (and, in case you didn’t know, gifts = money).   But don’t fret yet; there is a way to attend any festivity AND bring the appropriate gift.  In the spirit of recycling and “going green”, what better way to save the environment (and your wallet) than to regift?

The re-gift is typically seen as taboo – albeit not quite as taboo as not giving anything.  I’m not talking about shining up a pair of old shoes and calling them new.  The true re-gift is an art form, carefully selected and reworked into a brand-new experience for the recipient.  A few rules do apply:
  1.  NEVER re-gift an item to someone who originally bought it for you.
  2. When in doubt, find something else to give.

Your home is a treasure-trove of regifting opportunities, you just have to learn the correct techniques to spruce it up and give it that like-new shine.

Regifting criteria:
  • Find something as close to new as possible.  Items with tags on them (a new pair of earrings, an unworn kid’s outfit, a new book) are the easiest to pass along.  Remember to rip off the price tag that may belie how long the item has been in your home (a gift from a now defunct store is a sure giveaway).
  • Remove any packaging that is ruined, stained, or otherwise broken.  New boxes are cheaply found at your local craft store.  Buying an inexpensive gift bag from a discount store is a great way around this problem , if no boxes suit your needs.
  • Personalize the gift.  Picture frames are excellent items to reuse.  Inserting a picture of recipient, or a one-of-a-kind item that they would really appreciate.  Thinking of how to please a recent grad?  Consider framing their graduation announcement and their commencement program.
  • Unused gift, gas, or prepaid cards are great to pass on as new.  If you decide to regift one of these items, make sure you call and verify the balance.
Follow these tips and you're guaranteed to bring joy without breaking the bank.


Weddings: Depressing or Joyful?

No April rain
No May flowers bloom
No wedding Saturdays within the month of June...
'Tis the season for weddings and love, but for those who don't have it, weddings can suck.  I wrote this article a few years ago not long after I got married.  Check it out.  Your feedback is appreciated!


If I were single, I would have thrown myself off a bridge the other night.  As much as weddings are meant to celebrate the bonds of unity and oneness, they are also depressing as hell for anyone who doesn’t have someone to share those bonds with.  All the songs about love and finding love and losing love and being in love; had I not had the double band on my 3rd finger (not including the thumb), I would have been airborne off the Big Mac.
I’ve never been the traditional woman attending a wedding; the kind that comes home, kicks off her wedding-appropriate stilettos, points at her man, the clock, and then the door.  Weddings never jump-started my biological ticker, beginning a silent countdown for “he better propose or else.”  Nope, I was always the big hold-out.  I never had the dreams of the big beautiful wedding with me in the princess dress and the tiara, walking amongst a floral wonderland of roses and calla lilies, waving to all of my adoring family and friends as I walked toward the groom.  The groom of course, would be standing in white, smiling ready to receive me and all of my perfection with open arms, holding a diamond rock of Gibraltar with a band attached to it, waiting for the right moment to slide it on my left hand.  That was never my fantasy.  In fact, weddings evoked the opposite in me…fear.  I embraced the stereotypical male reaction: come home, hurry up and turn on the TV, and hope SportsCenter would distract him from talking about it.  He was ready.  I was petrified.  I hated the thought of being a wife and morphing into someone I didn’t recognize.  I didn’t want to lose myself.
My revelation came at my friend’s reception.  She was the quintessential bachelorette, the life of the party, the epitome of all the clich├ęs about being single and loving it.  But standing before me was this woman, stunning in her ivory dress, radiating happiness.  She hadn’t altered, her personality was just as bubbly as before; the major transformation would be in her last name.  And in that moment, I knew I’d be the same moody, opinionated, loveable person I was before the addition of the title “Mrs.”
On our wedding day, as I stood there in my princess dress and my tiara, my groom in white, holding a non-Gibraltar rock which suited my appendages perfectly, I realized although I’d never dreamt it, I was living my fantasy.  I just hoped all of my unmarried family and friends would be too happy for us to notice the depressing music.      

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More Good Hair

In this post, I want to talk about the perception of good vs bad hair.  The African American community typically defines "good hair" as wavy or straight, easy to comb, and long.  But what people don't realize is:

  1. just because your hair is wavy or straight, it doesn't mean it's more manageable
  2. easy to comb may also mean potential problems holding a style
  3. long does not equal "good
Here's a clip from Spike Lee's movie School Daze that summarizes the struggle between good and bad hair.

Good Hair

There's been a lot of talk about natural hair.  One disturbing trend I've seen is people saying they can't go natural (hair sans chemicals) because they don't have "good hair".  So, like Chris Rock, I decided to investigate the myth of good vs bad hair.  Instead of making a movie about it (because we all know that's an option), I opted to dedicate a blog or two to the topic.  Let's start by defining Good or Bad hair for those who don't know anything about the controversy.

Bad Hair:  Bald.  Not there.  Missing.

Good hair:  Hair that grows freely out of your head; in more than spots or sections sparsely spread across your scalp.  If you have any question about if your hair is "good", talk to a chemo patient, or someone with alopecia, or someone who is involuntarily rocking the Sherman Helmsley.

Now that we've defined good vs bad hair, let's delve into hair psychology.  Unfortunately, many people who use relaxer or other chemicals to tame their hair are used to seeing themselves a certain way.  And most of the time, if they are using relaxer or other chemicals, it's because their hair doesn't grow out of their scalp like that.  So what we're left with is this inability to imagine ourselves without processed hair, thinking somehow our original texture is now "bad" because it's not bone straight and manageable.  It's all mental.  People always want what they don't have.  If your hair is curly, you want straight; if it's straight, you admire a body of curls.  We're always going to critique our God-given appearance, pick it apart, and find all the flaws.  Once you appreciate your natural look, it will be a lot easier to stop living in the relaxer past.

We'll get into perceptions in the next post.