The Takeover: Far East Meets The South Edition

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This week I had the honor to attend the first of many Takeover events.

Chefs Manuel Cordray and Shelton Starks along with Pastry Chef Rachel Child commandeered the Heirloom Restaurant for a night of Far East Asian meets Southern gourmet cuisine.

Cordray and Starks met five years ago at church. Their creativity and love of food led them to do projects together.

The popularity of pop up shops brought about the idea of taking over an establishment and putting their own spin on it.

The Asian Southern fusion menu was in honor of Chinese New Year.

Before each dish was presented the Chefs came out and explained each course, as well as the wine paired with it.

Chef Starks invited me to the event knowing I’m a vegetarian. When he said they were preparing a special menu for me I was expecting salad and some mixed veggies.

Boy was I WRONG!!!!

The first course was Braised pork belly glazed in ginger soy sauce, served over fermented butter beans and topped with a collard green kimchi.

Pork N’ Beans without the pork, but not without flavor.

The Poema Brut Rose Cava mixed beautifully with it.

The second course featured Baby Bok Choy marinated, lightly grilled and topped with seasonal vegetables, crispy chicken skin croutons and a charred jalapeño pesto.

Mine was without the croutons. And it was my favorite course. I’ve had bok choy many times but never quite like this.

Margaridas Vinho Verdes was served with this course.

The Third Course was Pan Seared jumbo sea scallops over a lightly smoked succotash with hot chili oil. Instead of scallops my version had Crookneck squash.

It was served with a Tabali Sauvignon Blanc.

Once again I was amazed by a vegetable I’d consumed many times before. The hot chili oil really made the dish!

Our fourth Course was Chinese 5 spice seasoned beef short rib (tofu for me) braised in soy jus, on a bed of butternut squash purée and a sweet cilantro oil. Complimenting the dish was a Tall Sage Red blend.

Now there’s something you should know about me. I’ve never cared for tofu. I have texture issues. But this tofu!!! It was a whole new experience. Totally different consistency.

Then came….the DESSERTS!!! Chef Child delivered a sweet trio to wrap up the evening.

Salted Carmel cheesecake with a pretzel crust, Yuzu tart and S’Mores Cake paired with Maggie Family Vineyards Petite Sirah, were the perfect end to a perfect meal.

The night was a complete success!

If you didn’t get to attend this event don’t worry. There will be more coming. Kentucky Derby And Hip Hop themed Takeovers are coming up!

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I Am My Sister’s Keeper: New Year! New Perspective! Women’s Conference

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When my friend Marjory Brifil announced she was hosting a women’s Conference I immediately bought tickets. She’s been such a powerful influence in my life. I just knew this was going to be an amazing experience.

The Conference was held at the majestic Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge. A very fitting venue for the caliber of speakers that were about to inspire us.

Armed with my Girl Tribe, Reagan and April, we marched in like the Boss Babes that we are, ready to be empowered.

Actually we went in the wrong entrance and had to ask for directions but hey, we got a great tour of the hotel that I’ve longed to see for years.

We met up with old friends Lorri and Beth as well as making a few new ones.

Our first speaker was Jacinda Jacobs. Never pass up an opportunity to listen to her. This lady has been a steady source of motivation for me for awhile now. God spoke through her about spiritual awakening. She consistently lifts me up at the moments I’m at my weakest.

Her book ‘Uniquely Qualified’ will give hope to all. No matter how low you feel her words will transform your spirit. I have it in print form and on Amazon. It’s one of my goto books when I feel like I’m slipping.

“DO YOU HAVE THE GUTS TO WALK THROUGH IT WHEN YOU GET TO IT??”

Latise M. Howie captivated us with her vibrant personality.

She spoke about self love, perhaps the hardest love to achieve.

Do we love who we are? Or do we love what we want the world to see? Living for ‘Likes’ on our social media accounts is giving power of our self love to others.

WE ARE ENOUGH!! We need to get rid of anyone and anything that doesn’t have our best interest at heart.

Getting to know ourself, surrounding ourself with like minded individuals and forgiving ourself is key to our self development journey.

Transparency is a word that keeps coming at me from several sources. So her words really stuck with me….

“MY TRANSPARENCY IS SOMEONE ELSES BREAKTHROUGH”

Elam King made us laugh. Mostly at ourselves.

He pointed out how we argue with ourselves. Justify what we do. We blame the devil even when he had nothing to do with it. Claim it. We are our own worst enemies.

The weapons formed against us are supposed to exist. It’s how we fight that matters. We have to outwit the devil.

We need mentors in our life. One for mind, one for body and one for spirit. We can’t make others happy unless we’re happy. And when we don’t pass a test we get retested.

“NEVER WASTE A LESSON!!”

Financial Freedom Fighter Camy Smith talked to us about something we tend to love more than life…..money.

We have been programmed to be broke. We can’t save our way to financial success. Recondition your minds. Make more money. Thrive not survive.

Don’t let people that have given up on their dream talk you out of yours.

We don’t have to compromise God. He wants his children to prosper.

“FINANCIAL SUCESS IS NOT FOR THE CHOSEN FEW, IT’S FOR THE FEW THAT HAVE CHOSEN IT”

Majory has always been an advocate for lifting up other women. In fact everyone in the room I knew was directly or indirectly because of her. Moving here a few years ago left me excited and lonely.

I now have a solid circle of true friends that I cherish. Because we lift each other up. Because we are Queens who adjust each other’s crowns.

Because WE ARE OUR SISTERS KEEPER!

Mountains Don’t Move Themselves

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I met Charlotte Rap artist IV Montana, this year’s New Artist of the Year Nominee, at the Queen City Awards.

I was drawn to him because of his keen fashion sense, but soon discovered there was much more to this young man.

We immediately connected on social media and I soon discovered the many facets of the QC’s newest rap sensation.

When he’s not in the studio or performing, a large chunk of his time is focused on the anti-bullying campaign he created.

I was so struck by this information I knew I had to blog about him.

Armed with my trusty notebook, I arrived for drinks with the larger than life IV Montana.

I instead got to meet Davante Long, his alter ego. No gold grill. No flashy clothes. No entourage. Just a reserved, polite young man with a dimpled smile that makes the world smile with him.

I had intended to touch on his music but focus on his work with kids. But I soon realized there was so much more to him.

Like a sweet Vidalia onion, I peeled off layer after layer of information that makes up the man that shines on stage.

Our interview turned into a deep conversation.

Sometimes you just have to put down your pen, close your notebook, and let your souls talk to each other.

Davante took IV Montana as his stage name. The Roman numeral IV represents the four things he values most.

First and foremost his mother and grandmother. He spoke so eloquently of the two most important woman in his life. The pain of losing his grandmother who never got to see him achieve the fame she always knew he would reach.

Second is his children. The two young boys take precedence over anything in his life. He has attended every one of his son’s football games.

Third is his music. From a young age, music has been his escape. Coming from a musical family, he began writing poetry but it soon flowed into song lyrics.

Fourth is how music takes him a way. Away from the world. Away from problems. Away from the day to day grind.

Growing up, Davante suffered low self esteem. He felt out of place. And was often bullied himself.

Instead of becoming a victim he became IV Montana.

Montana is Spanish for ‘mountains’. You will face many mountains in your life. Blocking you from your goals. Standing in the way of your dreams. He’s moving those mountains one at a time.

His anti bullying campaign has become a big hit at schools all over the country.

‘I’m you, You’re me, Everybody’s a Jordan’ was formed after finding out his friends special needs son was being bullied at school. The seven year old child was bullied to such an extent he attempted suicide.

He explained the name of his group. Each of the much coveted Jordan sneakers is unique. Set apart from the one that came before it. Different from the one to be released next. But no matter what, it’s still a shoe. Just like each of us. We’re each unique in our own way. No matter our race. Regardless of our style. We’re still human. We’re all Jordan’s.

He spends most nights answering emails from the kids he’s met along the way.

Reading messages from bullytalk18@gmail.com he realizes the importance of his response. These kids see him as the only person that understands them. That’s a lot for anyone to have on their shoulders. But he answers each one. And keeps in contact with them.

He shared screen shots of messages thanking him and sharing the impact he’s had on them. Those messages keep him going.

Knowing these kids, as well as his own, are watching him, he’s careful to live his life in a way that inspires them.

Though not all his music is appropriate for his younger audience, he does offer a ‘clean version’ for them.

He wants them to know he worked and saved to finance his music career. I was especially inspired when I learned the job he worked to save the money is the same job that I am currently working! He has given me hope and a desire to follow my own dreams.

He speaks highly of his family and his church. He gives glory to God for all his success.

To say IV Montana is a musician is not giving him enough credit. He is so much more than his music. He’s a mentor. A father. A son. A friend. A dream chaser. A Jordan. He is a mover of mountains.

ITF: The Winter Xperience Showcase 2K17

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The youth of Inspire the Fire brought real life issues to the stage during their recent performance of ‘Fire Heights’.

Flashing forward 20 years from the fatal shooting of a young aspiring musician by a local police officer, the play chronicled the lives of the residents that now live in a city divided by a wall.

The daughter of the officer felt a sense of safety on her side of the wall. Until her children started attending a community center on the other side.

Using her political pull, she tried unsuccessfully to have the center shut down.

The talent these young people exhibited was phenomenal.

Dennis Reed, founder and CEO of Inspire the Fire, former Mayor of Charlotte Jennifer Roberts, Jonathan Stewart of the Carolina Panthers and Grammy Winner Fantasia truly inspired this young group as well as the audience.

The ITF team brought down the house as they brought down the wall on stage.

I encourage you to support this non profit organization. Attend their next event.

Be Inspired.

TEAR….DOWN…THAT….WALL!!!!

And the Winner is….

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Organized by Kevan Glover of The Konnected Foundation, Queen City’s most artistic gathered at Oasis Shriners in the University area on December 16 for the Queen City Awards.


Comedian NuffCed emceed the evening, keeping things lively between presentations. His love and knowledge of all things Charlotte made for an enjoyable show.





All genres of music were present. Rock, gospel, hip hop and country. Authors, models and Deejays represented the immense skills this fine city has to offer.

Former Mayor Jennifer Roberts sparkled and shined as she mingled with the attendees before presenting the Community Leader Award to Ace & TJ for their nonprofit Ace & TJ’s Grin Kids.

As a huge Michael Jackson fan I loved the performance of Mjfootworkz.


And the young people blew me away with their amazing gifts. 

The crowd was brought to their feet when local   Grammy winner Anthony Hamilton was presented with the ‘Trendsetter Award’.


Giving hope and motivation to everyone, he has shown us all that our skills can reach beyond the Charlotte city limits.

From the nominees to the performers to those of us simply attending we each came away winners.

For more info visit https://www.queencityawards.com/

Man Oh Man!!

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Imagine a panel of men put on display in front of a firing squad of women, armed with questions about the thoughts and actions of the male species. 

I had the opportunity to witness such an occasion this past weekend at the ‘Ask a Man’ event held in the VIP room at Studio Movie Grill in the Epicentre.

Organized by Sex and the Queen City and Virile, the panel of seven men opened themselves up to a no-holds-barred discussion of sex, dating, marriage and relationships. 

Not since Sex and the City alerted us to the fact that ‘He’s just not that into you’ have women been so privy to the inner workings of the male mind. 

The discussion was off to a fiery start leaving no room to build up to ‘heated’. 

The notion that men should pay most or all of the bills was immediately quashed by the entire panel.

The men were in agreement that the bills should be split in a fair manor depending upon the salaries of each person in the relationship.

Communication, respect and team effort were recurring words coming from the panel. 

One of the men ended the topic by turning the tables and asking how a woman can continue to call herself ‘Boss’ if she’s not even paying her own bills. Boom!

Things were about to take an ugly turn as the next question was posed to the forum. 

Do all men cheat? 

We expected denial and protests from the panel. But they each honestly answered “yes”. Yes all men cheat. There, they said it. 

They admitted there’s nothing we can do to prevent it. 

Men do not equate sex with love. Sex is more emotional for women. That’s why is so hard for them to recover after being cheated on. 

The men agreed there are little to no consequences. No repercussions. So why not keep cheating?

But can a man recover from a woman cheating? The answer was pretty much NO! 
Men are wired differently. Their egos won’t allow them to accept cheating. They know women form emotional attachments to sexual partners. They can’t get past the physical or emotion aspect of their partner cheating. 

After a short, much needed intermission the subject of cheating led into discussion of social media’s impact on relationships. 
If you don’t Instagram it then it didn’t really happen right? And you’re not REALLY in a committed relationship until it’s Facebook official. Would we even have a connection to our ‘followers’ or ‘friends’ if it weren’t for our social media accounts?

These are notions men want women to get away from. 

If a man comments on or ‘likes’ another woman’s picture it shouldn’t set off an argument. 

They want their partners to differentiate between ‘women’s intuition’ and insecurity. 

Social media doesn’t destroy relationships. People do. 
Men want to know why we want to impress total strangers so much. 

If a man has you around his family, his friends, his coworkers, and takes you out in public all the time then why is it so important that people we may or may not know to see pictures of you both on Facebook? 

Why do we ignore our partners when we’re out enjoying an event and focus on posting on Instagram. 

Why can’t we live in the moment? Post a pic then put your phones away. Enjoy being with your loved ones. 

The men have spoken. 

Men need respect and women need love. Men want communication. They want women to pick their battles. Don’t let something small blow up and end a relationship. Be on the same level. Be a team. 

Yes the men have spoken. But did the women listen? 

Maya Angelou said “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them”  

These men showed us who they are. I spent the entire discussion monitoring the reactions from the audience. I listened to the conversations going on around me as the men spoke.

Anger, disgust and denial is what I gathered. I jotted down comments throughout the evening. 

“He wouldn’t be my man then”

“They wouldn’t be saying that if they were with the right woman”

“I don’t have any problem getting my bills paid”

“He’s lucky to even be with me”

“I don’t need a man”

Woman asked. Men answered. But it wasn’t the answers they wanted to hear. 

Despite the men being transparent, raw and blatantly honest I think very few women got it. 

Do women want to spend the entire relationship trying to change a man? Mold him into the perfect guy? 

They told us they do love us. They told us what makes them happy and unhappy. They told us what they need from us. 

Is it possible that they really are into us…..and we just pushed them away?

Ladies Who Brunch

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‘Twas the month before Christmas, When all thru the mall, all the ladies were brunching, and having a ball. 

There was fashion and food and holiday decor, that left all of us yearning for more. 

The Charlotte Observer recently hosted a holiday brunch in the center court of Southpark Mall, that spoiled and pampered each guest. 

Reid’s Fine Foods provided a delicious selection from their brunch menu.

 

Of course no brunch is complete without drinks!

We were treated to three demonstrations to help us through the holiday season. 


Stylist and Fashion Insider Stacee Michelle got it started with holiday fashion. “”Tis the sequins” was her theme. 


Sequins and fur and lamé…..oh my!!!


Chef James Loftus treated us to a cheese board demonstration. 


He suggests serving 3-5 cheese selections with varying boldness profiles, brought out of the fridge about an hour before guest arrive. 

Display on a marble or wood board with arugula as a garnish. Cured meats, pickled veggies and nuts add color and variety. Finishing up with basic and flavored crackers and jams or even a honeycomb complete the masterpiece. 

Southpark Stylist Suzanne Libfraind brought us decorating ideas for Hanukkah, Kwanza and Christmas. 


She gave ideas for the ever important Hostess gifts. 


As if the morning wasn’t fabulous enough there were also giveaways supplied by Southpark merchants. This Diva even won a couple of great prizes! 

No holiday event is complete without the Big Guy himself. 


Santa stopped by to spread even more holiday cheer. 

Everyone left with a swag bag from Sugarfina and lots of holiday cheer!