Finally, plus size fashion done right

I’m a bit of a clotheshorse. I’m not the most trendy person, and I’m certainly not Instagram-ready every day. But I love shopping and keeping up with the trends. My favorite feature in my new home is a walk in closet that, in conjunctions with my dressers, is big enough to house my entire wardrobe. No more being late to work because I had to go upstairs and dig in the guest closet for the blouse I wanted! I’ve been shopping less this year (#budgetlife), purging my closet, and trying to make sure I can get multiple wears out of whatever I do bring into the house. Fortunately, I have better options today than I did five years ago. Ironically, it’s at the same time that I’m starting to lose weight but, c’est la vie.

One of my favorite brands, Eloquii, has undergone a rebranding over the past year. If you follow any plus sized fashion blogger, they’ve modeled multiple pieces from Eloquii with good reason. They used to focus more on fun casual clothes that were good for everyday and could easily be dressed up or down. They have always had a dedicated formalwear/going out looks section, but in the beginning it was more conservative and in line with their former parent company The Limited. Now, they are moving in an edgier direction, going toe to toe with brands like ASOS Curve and City Chic which caters to a more adventurous and trendy customer who isn’t afraid to turn up the glamour. I’m still a frequent customer, but my style is a little more understated. I go to them primarily for statement tops and going out dresses. Click to enlarge the gallery images below.

See what I mean? There are a LOT of statement pieces there. But that’s okay. The entire plus sized market is underserved but basics are much easier to find than special, stand out ones that don’t look cheap (Forever 21+ and Fashion Nova Curve don’t work for everything). They still have enough basis to keep me coming back.

Loft is completely my style, but it was only just this summer that they started doing plus sizes. I’m happy to report that the wait was somewhat justified by the quality. In a move unique to plus size lines, almost every single straight size piece is available in plus. And the trendiest items, the ones that make the campaigns and the new arrivals page, are available in plus as well. I haven’t done exhaustive research, but every piece so far that has caught my eye in their social media advertising has been available in my size–and FOR THE SAME PRICE! This is a major, major win in the plus size world and one we’ve been asking for forever. Here’s a look at their selection (click to enlarge):

If you compare the homepage for the general website and the plus section, you’ll see that the overall look and feel is the same–they are treating the plus size customer the same as their overall demographic. Shocking, I know, but unfortunately that is rare and to be commended. Loft serves a large age range of customers, from my 25 year old coworker to 45 year old soccer moms to 65 year old grandmothers who are young at heart, and it shows. But the classics are classic for a reason and Loft does them well.


I’m so glad to have better options. Old Navy’s quality and fit are wildly inconsistent. GAP doesn’t do plus sizes but I can fit into their upper range depending on the fabric and fit. Target has cute stuff, but quality and fit are a problem plus the significant upcharge for plus size items ($5-10 over the straight size equivalent, but hidden by the fact that plus sizes are different brands, except for Who What Wear). I simply can’t justify dropping $40 on a paper thin, ill fitting shirt. Fortunately, there is now enough brand diversity for the plus size market has some competition. I’m looking forward to better quality and better fashion for all.

Home for the holidays

Our Christmas tree was the first thing we unpacked.

It’s official–we’re homeowners! My husband and I closed on our house on December 21 and started moving in that night. By December 23, all our stuff was out of the old rental. This is our sixth move together and in some ways it was the easiest because by now I know G’s routine. He hates clutter and being uncomfortable so he literally will not sleep until he passes out in the middle of packing boxes. I was prepared to lose my husband as a sane man for the next week. This time was hard because I came down with a bad head cold literally the day after we closed. Normally I would lay around the house until I felt better, but I had taken 2 weeks off work and I wanted to be able to relax for at least one of them. So that meant front loading the move to finish by Christmas. It majorly sucked, but we did it. Everyone told us to pace ourselves. But the last thing I wanted to do when I go back to work is to come home and pull a second shift unpacking. We did it, because the one thing I love about my relationship with my spouse is our ability to laser focus on a singular goal.

It was only this week that I’ve been waking up in the morning and feeling settled in. We’ve been in a frenzy of unpacking, cleaning, organizing, and various projects. We ran some errands, went by Marshall’s (where I bought half off Christmas decorations, two accent tables for the living room, a storage bench for our bedroom, and discounted bath & body products) and then back to the house. We binged this season of Vikings, Cloak and Dagger, and Runaways because, what the hell is a Bird Box? It’s been a good week, all in all.

Cozy vibes.

I’m spending the rest of my break being lazy as possible, and we rang in the New Year at the house with a glass of Martinelli’s finest sparkling apple cider. Why leave? I have to get $220,000 worth of enjoyment out of this place. LOL. I have a brand new stove and refrigerator and finally sprung for an automatic trashcan. It’s the little things that I enjoy. It’s rainy and cold today so I have the fireplace going for maximum cozy vibes. We aren’t fully furnished and there are still a few stray boxes, but finally we have a home of our own.

Foyer
Dining room
Currently blogging here. My office is the last thing I need to unpack!
Upstairs den
My kitchen, with cabinets for everything and a magic trash can.
My kitchen nook is a work in progress.
Coffee bar
Living room
Bedroom with a view
My dream closet in the master bedroom

His & hers sinks and a gorgeous bathtub

Wife Life: Savory Sausage Scramble recipe

I am making a lifestyle change and part of it is seriously limiting starchy carbs and junk food. You know how most diets have cheat days? Well I’ve had a cheat LIFE, and it’s time to hunker down. But I love breakfast and everyone knows the best part of breakfast is carbs. I usually have a big breakfast on the weekend which typically includes a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit, or some Eggo waffles and bacon. I’ve already been incorporating a green smoothie several times a week, so making that my Monday-Friday mainstay isn’t a big deal. And I do love oatmeal topped with fresh berries & a splash of cream, or sliced banana, shredded coconut, and honey. But what about when I want something savory instead of sweet?

This recipe is actually adapted from my brother in law. He made it the last couple times I came to visit my sister and it’s not only delicious, but satisfying. I prefer chicken sausage and included my favorite brand, but of course you can sub out turkey sausage or even a meat substitute. Same with the cheese. You can also change this to make it an omelette. Have fun with it!

SAVORY SAUSAGE SCRAMBLE
Serves: 1 
Ingredients:

2 eggs
2 links Applegate Farms chicken & apple sausage
2 mini sweet bell peppers
1-2 tsp shredded Mexican cheese blend
Salt
Pepper
Butter

1. Cut of stems from peppers, remove inner seeds, and chop to your preference. Cut the sausage into bite size pieces. 
2. Crack the eggs into a bowl and add pepper to taste. Whisk until well mixed.
3. Melt some butter in a small pan over low heat (you only need about a teaspoon).
4. Pour in the eggs, sausage, and peppers. I don’t like my cheese to stick to the pan so I sprinkle it on in the last few seconds, but you can add it at this step. 
5. I like a soft scramble so I keep the heat really low and the eggs are on for a minute or two. If you like more solid eggs, 30-60 seconds on low-medium heat will do.
6. Plate and enjoy! 

I love this recipe because it tastes similar to the egg skillets I sometimes order at brunch, but without the potatoes or too much cheese. If I don’t have the peppers, I’ll do just the eggs and cheese but add a sprinkle of Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel seasoning. I don’t like Mexican for breakfast (weird, I just have a mental block) but you could also do this southwestern-style and add avocado & salsa.

Wife Life: Southern Vegetable Soup recipe

While you’re planning your Thanksgiving menu, don’t forget to think about the weekend! You don’t want to be fighting the shopping crowd at the drive through, and the leftovers always go quicker than you think. During my cleanse at the start of the month, soup was my dinner for the day. I hate soup normally because it’s not hearty enough. Especially vegetable soup–the canned version tastes like baby food! So I had to adapt this to be hearty and satisfying. It’s perfect as is for the day after Thanksgiving when you’re emerging from a turkey coma and want something a bit lighter. I plan to make this ahead of time so I have a few quick and easy meals ready for after Turkey Day.

Roll that beautiful bean footage! Actually, the soup does not photograph well but it’s delish.

SOUTHERN VEGETABLE SOUP
Makes 6-8 generous servings

Ingredients:
1/2 lb fresh green beans
1/2 lb okra
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch collard greens
1 bunch scallions
28-oz can diced tomatoes, low sodium
32 oz chicken stock 
1 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
Pepper
Italian seasoning

Note:  Frozen veggies will do if you don’t have fresh, but I encourage you to buy fresh if you can. If you have leftovers, the fresh veggies won’t get mushy as quickly. 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Wash and chop all your veggies, as small as you want. I like larger pieces so I have something to chew. The collard greens will be a bit unwieldy, just make sure you run the water over both sides of each leaf (perfect time to use the hose attachment on your sink) and wipe down the leaves to dry them. This will take care of any dirt that is hiding in the nooks and crannies. If you like, you can save all the spare veggie bits to make vegetable stock (I’ve never done this but I saw this tip on Facebook).

2. Heat up a tablespoon of your preferred oil and toss in the minced garlic and scallion whites. This will caramelize them a bit and give the broth a richer, more roasty flavor.

3. Once the garlic and scallions are fragrant, add in chicken stock, tomatoes, and all your chopped vegetables. Season with a generous amount of pepper and Italian seasoning. I use Italian because it’s a nice mix of several herbs like parsley, rosemary and thyme so I don’t have to buy individuals of those.  With the chicken stock, you really don’t need any salt.

4. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes.

5. Serve and enjoy!

VARIATIONS

This is just a base but you can make any soup with a combination of chicken, beef or veggie stock and your favorite vegetables. You can add shrimp and link sausage to this one for a sort of jambalaya stew. You could do a crab boil soup. You could sub out the okra for zucchini and add some meatballs for an Italian stew. The possibilities are endless!

 

Wife Life: Pesto Parmesan Salmon Recipe

Since fall hit I’ve been a real domestic, cozy mood. I had so much energy  this week from that hour of extra sleep that I tried something new. Salmon is one of my favorite foods but I usually make it one of three ways–sauteed with salt & pepper, with a honey ginger soy sauce, or crumbled up in fried salmon croquettes (one of my favorite childhood recipes from my mom). I was coming off a 3 day vegetarian cleanse so I just wanted a different taste. Pesto sauce is one of my kitchen MVPS and it didn’t disappoint. I served this with a lemon orzo and roasted brussels sprouts. Very Italian, but no bread in sight! Best of all, G-Dub even liked it. Salmon is his least favorite fish (unless I make the croquettes) because “it always tastes like salmon” but the strong flavors in this dish made it more palatable for him. It’s a win win! 


PESTO PARMESAN SALMON WITH LEMON ORZO

Gorgeous crust on that salmon, nice char on the brussels sprouts and you can see the seasoning on the orzo. Yummy! (P.S. Don’t come for me and my paper plate. I recycle!)


Servings: 2 
Prep Time: 2 minutes    Cook Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients
2, 4oz salmon filets 
1 cup orzo
2 tbsp panko crumbs
2 tsp basil pesto sauce
2 tsp parmesan cheese
2 tsp butter
1 tsp lemon juice
Olive oil (spray or bottled, either is fine)
Italian seasoning
Pepper
Salt
(Note: I don’t measure spices because I just sprinkle until it looks seasoned)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a small pan or oven safe dish with just enough olive oil to coat it. You don’t need more than 1 teaspoon of oil if you’re pouring from a bottle.
  2. Put on a pot of water (about 2 cups). Lightly salt the water and put on medium high heat to bring to a boil.
  3. While the water is on, mix together the panko breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in a bowl. Add a dash of salt and pepper.
  4. Season the salmon to taste with the Italian seasoning. Place the salmon in the pan skin side down (if your salmon has skin, otherwise don’t worry about it). 
  5. Spoon the pesto over each piece of fish in a thin layer. Top with breadcrumb mixture and sprinkle any leftovers into the pan then put in the oven.
  6. Set your timer for 20 minutes if you like your fish well done, 10 minutes if you like it medium and 15 for medium well.
  7. When your water starts to boil, add the orzo and then lower heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally. Pasta should be done in about 10 minutes.
  8. When the orzo is cooked, drain the water off like you would spaghetti. Return to the pot and add lemon juice, butter, and Italian seasoning to taste. 
  9. Serve pasta alongside orzo and your vegetable of choice. Top the orzo with the breadcrumbs from the pan. Mangia!

As you can see, we had our dish with roasted brussels sprouts. I didn’t include them in the recipe because it’s literally throwing them on a sheet pan, sprinkling on some salt and pepper and a couple sprays of olive oil PAM. They’ll cook in 20 minutes along with the salmon. Super easy, super quick and super tasty!

Sorry To Bother You Again: The Black Futurist Playlist

Sorry To Bother You was such a deep movie, and it put me in a mood to digest more media like it. My review (despite its length) just barely scratches the surface and there was a lot of stuff I didn’t get to. So if you’re interested in doing the same, here are my recommendations.

WATCH

Atlanta (FX, 2016-present)- If you aren’t watching this show, you should be. It’s hard to describe but most episodes are kind of like a magical realism black Seinfeld. But then there are episodes that veer into very weird territory (especially in the second season).

Bamboozled (A Spike Lee Joint, 2000)- This isn’t science fiction, but it is a satire very much in this vein.

Dirty Computer (2018)- This 45 minute visual album is sci-fil all the way. The protagonist is a black queer woman whose identity is literally being erased by technology. The music shows her journey of self acceptance and rebellion against the status quo. 

Get Out (2017)- Also something you should have seen by now, but it’s still very much in the vein of STBY and I’d be remiss to leave it off. 

Lamborghini Angels/ITAL (Roses)/Audubon Ballroom (Lupe Fiasco, Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1, 2012)- There’s a lot packed into this 12 minute music video if you listen and watch closely. Interestingly, while this video was officially released it is no longer on Lupe Fiasco’s or his former record label’s official YouTube/Vevo page, even though all of his music videos push the envelope. I’d love to hear your conspiracy theories if you’ve got them. 

“Negrotown” (Key & Peele, 2015)- A comedy sketch that cuts so deep you have to laugh to keep from crying. 

READ 
“When Survival Equals Destruction- Let’s Talk About Sorry to Bother You” by TaLynn Kel

“Sorry To Bother You is Great Science Fiction, People” by Wired.com Culture Editor

“The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates- This longform essay is sci-fil only in the sense that reparations is seen as an impossible fantasy by most. Yet, Coates deftly rips apart the idea that slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, and the civil rights struggle are ancient history. It’s an idea that only benefits the system of white supremacist capitalism that America is built on. Germany paid reparations to Europe after WWII. When apartheid fell in in South Africa there was reparations and a restorative justice panel–why should the US be different? 

Futureland by Walter Mosley- This writer is best known for his noir detective novels starring the rakish, smooth, but troubled Easy Rawlins. Remember that Denzel Washington movie, “Devil in a Blue Dress”? That was based on the first book in the series. Mosley is also a very talented sci-fi writer and this collection of stories remains one of my favorite.

Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction in the African Diaspora”, edited by Sheree Thomas- Another great collection of black sci-fi, this one pulled from black authors across the ages, including W.E.B. DuBois. If you read nothing else, check out Derrick Bell’s story “The Space Traders”, which is even more interesting in light of the current administration.

LISTEN

Everybody (Logic, 2017)- I actually reviewed this album in a post last year. I’ll link it here so I won’t repeat myself, but the TL;DR of it all is that this is a conscious concept album that bangs. Give it a try. 

“If Your Love Cannot Be Moved” (Stevie Wonder ft. Kim Burrell, A Time to Love, 2006)- Stevie Wonder is best known for his love songs. This isn’t one of them. It’s a deep cut, not one of his singles, but the lyrics remind you that Stevie lived through segregation. He was born in 1950 (just like my parents!) and started his music career in 1961, just 7 years after Brown v. Board of Education integrated schools and another 3 years before the Civil Rights Act ended segreation altogether. When he says “You can’t say we shall and not fight through hell. . . You can’t shout out peace and then vanish in the crowd” or “You can’t free the slave to enslave them differently”, he means that shit. This is a revolution song, no doubt about it.

They Don’t Really Care About Us” (Michael Jackson, HISTORY, 1995)- The title says it all. But in case you forgot, they (whether that be the Republican Party, patriarchy, the 1%, or corporate interests) don’t care about anything but what they can get out of you. So get off your ass and VOTE in this election and everyone that follows.