Goodbye Little Tree

By C.M. DuBose

Charlie Brown Tree

I purchased my first Christmas tree at the age of 26.

Living 200 miles away from my family, I wanted to declare my independence by making my own “holiday cheer.”  Off to Target I ventured, determined to make this work within my skimpy $75 budget.

An hour later, I returned home with what my boyfriend would later dub “The Charlie Brown tree,”  a handful of ornaments and some garland. I placed the tree in the only place it would fit in a 704 square-foot apartment –the door to my patio. I adorned my fireplace with stockings and garland and lit up the living room every night for the next two years.

I was proud.

When we purchased our home (now double the size of our apartment), we took “The Charlie Brown tree” and set it up in our dining room. For three years, the tree stood in our front window, lighting up our home–in lieu of dining room furniture. Last year, it even hosted my newborn daughter’s first special ornament –a glass bulb with her name and DOB.

But this year, things changed.

On December 1, I ventured to my garage to gather decorations and begin our home’s transformation.  My tree was gone. My husband (the boyfriend mentioned above) said that in January, “we decided” to throw it out when we took down our decorations.  I don’t remember that decision but I was a new working mom who was sleep-deprived and hungry so maybe, just maybe, in a moment of weakness I did –I agreed to let my “holiday cheer” be placed on the curb next to dirty diapers and newspapers.

I was devastated.

I made countless trips to the garage to hunt for my little tree, pined over it while hanging stockings and discussed its ‘disappearance’ with anyone who would listen, including co-workers.

One night, as I watched my one-year-old daughter delight in the lit garland and bows handing from our bannister, I realized I had to let the tree go. There was too much at stake.

The “Charlie Brown tree” had served its purpose. I had to step my game up. My daughter might only be one but the holidays now belonged to her.  Christmas needed to be about more than a tree. What about time with her family? What about traditions reserved just for her and mommy and daddy? How could I create those if I continued to worry about a metal tree?

I revel in the fact that Christmas is my favorite holiday –growing up it meant homemade cookies, the smell of fresh pine throughout the house, Christmas music 24/7, and time with “My Gram” and mom. I want my daughter to have those memories. On Saturday, with our home still sans tree, we ventured to Lenox Mall to ride The Pink Pig, an Atlanta tradition for more than 50 years. As we chugged around the track passing Christmas trees and silly mirrors she squealed and clapped her hands –now that is the stuff traditions are made of.

So, R.I.P little tree. Hello new holiday memories.


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On Repeat- Rihanna ‘Diamonds’

I am not sure when I turned into a Rihanna fan, but I know I was reluctant.  She is a beautiful woman, has dozens of popular, catchy songs, but not a magnificent singer (however, in my humble opinion, there are very few extraordinary mainstream singers today).  But lately I have enjoyed her music more and more.  To the point that I bought her last album Talk That Talk.  Even admitting that is a big step.

And every time Diamonds comes on the radio, crank it up.  I cannot get enough of this song lately.

I think as I see her more on one of my fav shows ‘Fashion Police’, I have come to like her more.  It seems she is expressing herself, whether by song, clothes, or a plethora of tattoos, and isn’t really concerned about approval.  I like that.  I may not always find her holey denim hot pants or her neck tat to be of my taste, but I do like  a woman that is confident.

So here is the official video for Diamonds.  Enjoy!

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World AIDS Day

Observed annually on December 1, World AIDS Day is a time worldwide to raise awareness and support for the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

I don’t want to get preachy or ramble of facts, but I think it is important to continually remind the public of some statistics.  The CDC approximates there are more than 1 million adults and adolescents living with HIV in the US.  This increase in the prevalence is due to the fact persons infected are living longer.  The rate of new infections has remained steady in recent years.  I find this a bit alarming.  It is positive news because if there are more individuals living with HIV, there are more opportunities for infection.  But I would think that with all the public health efforts, more people would use caution.

I also find it concerning about the populations HIV disproportionately effects.  Men that have sex with men (MSM) represent about 2% of the US population, but about 50% of new infections.  Blacks make up about 14% of the US population, but account for about 44% of new infections.  Latinos represent around 16% of the US population (btw wow), and about 20% of new infections.  Also, about 50,000 people are infected with HIV each year, and 1 in 4 is 13 to 24 years old.

We have to do better.

And days like World AIDS Day help keep HIV in the forefront.  Help encourage people to get tested.  Help to eliminate stigma for having a positive diagnosis.  Help educate the public on modes of transmission and risk factors.  Help raise money for research.

So know your status, don’t be ashamed to ask someone’s status if you are going to be intimate and protect yourself.

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Giving thanks

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  For wonderful family and friends.  For a stable job.  For good mental and physical health.  For unconditional love from an amazing man.  For online shopping to avoid ridiculousness this weekend.

And for not having to prepare a damn dish today.

Last year, we hosted dinner for eight people, including us.  It was my first time, hosting Thanksgiving, making dressing, roasting a turkey, etc.  Our friend Max dubbed it ‘Young People’s Thanksgiving 2011’.

Thanksgiving with a nickname… I was nervous.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  In the past my mom’s family used it as an unofficial family reunion.  We had Thanksgiving in Chicago, Houston, Cincinnati, Atlanta and Orlando.  Memories of delicious food and heartwarming fellowship is what I associate with this holiday.

Last year I wanted to provide that experience for our guest.  I made the turkey, dressing (one vegetarian friendly, one not), a chocolate caramel tart, strawberry mold and brussels sprouts (which I will never make again).  Friends brought homemade rolls, salad, mac and cheese, pie, sweet potato souffle and green been casserole.

Thanksgiving 2011 spread

Thanksgiving 2011 spread

I also went for a walk in the woods and got a centerpiece.  I found a fallen branch, that I sprayed with disinfectant (made sense in my head at the time), and surrounded it with candles.   Luckily, Max took some pictures on his phone.

Thanksgiving 2011 table

Thanksgiving 2011 table


Table with mood lighting

Table with mood lighting

We had a great time.  I hope to do it again.  But this year, my significant other is working, therefore I am headed to a friend’s place.  I asked twice if I needed to bring anything and was told no.  So I am going to show up with some wine and get it in.

I hope you have a relaxing and joyful Thanksgiving.


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L.O.C. Method

I opened my CurlyNikki email today, and a woman has a post about proper bun styling and care.  One of the (many) steps said do the L.O.C. method.  I have seen the term around the natural hair blogosphere, but I guess have glazed past it. I click the hyperlink to find out more.

And now I’m kinda tiff.

L.O.C= liquid, oil, cream.  It is a step wise method for moisturizing hair.  The liquid is typically water, but may be aloe vera juice or a water-based leave-in conditioner.  The oil could olive, coconut, castor, etc.  Now from what I have been reading, some say the cream should not have water, others say it should.  I have been using my shea butter mixture.

So why am I tiff… because I have been doing the L.C.O.  Is there a big difference?  I’m not sure, but I plan on reversing my current method to see.  I’ll keep you posted on the outcome.

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Jewish Apple Cake

My summer season CSA ended last week and yet again there were apples.  Over the past 6-8 weeks, there has been apples with every share.  I have been swimming in apples.

We had a wedding to attend in October.  The groom, in addition to being gluten intolerant, is Jewish.  And his mother is a fabulous baker.  So I thought maybe she had the bomb Jewish apple cake recipe.


She did not.


But said that her good friend did.  Her friend asked for my address so she could send it to me.  I asked “My electronic address, for email?”.

“No, your street address.”

I thought, well who knows when I’ll see that.  I mean who uses snail mail.

But she really did mail the recipes, with notes and her phone number in case I had questions.  How wonderfully sweet!

These fabulous photos were taken by my dear talented friend Thien.  Maybe one day, I’ll be as good as she is. Thanks Thien for the help!


Jewish Apple Cake  (adapted from recipe)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6-8 large tart apples, peeled and sliced thin
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
5 teaspoons sugar
– Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour one 10 inch tube pan. Combine cinnamon and 5 tsp sugar, set aside.
– In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and 2 cups of sugar.  Stir in vegetable oil, beaten eggs, orange juice and vanilla.  Mix well.
– Pour 1/2 of batter into prepared pan.  Top with 1/2 of the sliced apples and sprinkle with 1/2 cinnamon sugar mixture.  Pour remaining batter over top and layer the remaining apples and cinnamon sugar.
– Bake for 70-90 minutes


My notes… It took sooooo long for this cake to finish.  Maybe because I was hungry, waiting to go to breakfast, but after while I lost track of the 5 minute increments.  So it will definitely take 90 minutes if I use the same stove (not that I’m moving or getting a new stove).  I think next time I may diced the apples and mix into the batter instead of layering.


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Why so SAD?

Daylight savings time has ended and I will have SAD.

That’s no typo.  I have diagnosed myself with seasonal affective disorder- SAD.  According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition, published by American Psychiatric Association, I actually do not meet criteria to be diagnosis with this recurrent form of a mood disorder but something goes amiss when the shadows get long and the leaves start to change.

My SADness starts to rear its ugly head as summer fades into fall.  But now that we have fallen back one hour, it will only get worse. I will say I don’t get depressed but just too aware of the fading day and the fact that sweet precious hours of light that are available, I spend inside working.  It makes me anxious.  I feel like I’m losing time, or missing out on… I don’t know, something.

I didn’t start noticing the SADness until I lived in the DMV area.  I would get out of class and the streetlights would be on.  Better yet, if I had a class that started at 4pm, the sun would be near its final appearance for the day.  I was SO not used to that (clearly I’m still not).  I have always live in the Eastern Time Zone.  But I grew up in Ohio.  Cincinnati to be exact.  And Cincinnati lies far west in the Eastern Time Zone, about a one hour drive from the Central Time Zone.  So 5pm in Cincinnati is lighter than 5pm in say DC or Philadelphia.  I couldn’t even imagine Boston or Portland, ME… ohhh it gives me palpitations.

Now that it is daggone dark when I walk home from the SEPTA station, I don’t want to leave once I get in the house.  It’s some Jedi mind trick.  Sure it’s lighter in the morning, but all I’m doing in the morning is going to work.  I conduct my extracurriculars after work.  I enjoy the ability to get home, go to the gym or run errands and it still be light out.  I feel more productive in the daylight.  For me dark = sleep.

What’s a girl to do?

SMH.  I’m so dramatic.



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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I love Halloween.  I love it all.  The decorations, costumes, colors, trick-or-treating, scary movies.  As an adolescent, I would go overboard.  Decorating the living room window, so all the neighbors could see.  Painting my nails orange and black, alternating colors of course.  Trick-or-treating, later in life than I should have.  Group outings to see Saw 1, 2 and 3.

But since moving out for college, I have yet to decorate, I can’t stand the feeling of nail polish on my fingernails.  I don’t have anyone to go see horror movies with.

But sometimes I do get dressed up for parties.

Halloween- Gamma Rays


This year I got a little pie pumpkin in my CSA share.  I probably should have figured it was for food and not decoration since it was in my share of food, but honestly had plans to put it in the hall like our neighbor.  But the stem got all dry and shriveled.  So then I realized, I need to use this for food.  Slow motion.

I roasted the flesh and used in a corn spoonbread.  But the best part was having seeds to roast!

Pumpkin seeds- beauty shot


The joy in roasting pumpkin seeds for me in part deliciousness but part nostalgia.  It is an activity my mom and I would do.  Plus it’s a twofer activity- get a carved pumpkin for decor and seed for snacks.


Pumpkin seeds- close up

And they are so simple to make.   Scoop, clean, dry, season, roast and eat!

What are you penny thought on pumpkin seeds?


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 375 F.  Clean flesh from seeds.  Pat dry.  Lightly oil and season to taste.  Bake for about 20 minutes until just lightly golden. 

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On Repeat- Lauryn Hill and Youngbloodz

My alma mater’s homecoming is this weekend.  Spelman provided me with an experience I don’t even have the words to express. But it some part, she has been a large part in the woman I am today.

In 1998 Lauryn Hill released her debut solo album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”.  It was in heavy rotation on radio stations and in dorms on campus.  That album was the background music of my freshman year in college.  Every time I hear a song, I remember walking to the Maxway and A&P, riding the MARTA to Lenox, having to sign in my beau for visitation and ADW class.

One of my favorite songs, currently on my iPod is the album’s namesake.  Ms. Hill’s lyrics and impeccable voice over uncomplicated music all merge into a timeless song that causes me to reflect on the world around me.

Not to get too deep, I have another song for you.  An A-town classic as T.I. points on in the video.  “85” by Youngbloodz.  I can’t get enough of the chorus.

Well hopefully you have enjoyed my musical stroll down memory lane circa 1998-99.  I hope all my Spelman sisters are enjoying themselves this weekend, I wish I was there kickin’ it with ya’ll!



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Food Day!

Today is Food Day!  When I first heard about it this morning on the news, my initial (greedy) thought was ‘Isn’t that every day?’.  

Food Day is “a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food”. 

In the US, obesity and related conditions (diabetes, hypertension, heart disease) are ever-increasing. We have all heard reports about how terrible the contemporary American diet is.  The key word is contemporary. As we moved from an agricultural to an industrial economy, it seems the link between ourselves and the food we eat was lost.

When I think about the foods my grandparents grew up preparing and eating, they aren’t radically different from some of what we find popular today.  But the source of the food, many times the backyard without pesticides/antibiotics, and the preparation of the food, at home instead of prepackaged and processed, is different.

Food Day aims to change the American diet.  From cheap, salty, processed packaged foods and sugary drinks to foods with healthy, whole ingredients. Food that’s sustainable and provides essential nutrients for human health, accessible to all.

That is why I have joined a CSA (community supported agricultural).  Why I try to buy local.  Why I tend to buy organic items, especially when it comes to the dirty dozen.  And try to encourage others to do the same. This is a cause I plan on becoming more active about because unfortunately is not a day everyone has daily, weekly or even monthly.

Be sure to check out more about Food Day at

Also, these are links to and interesting article and a statement from the American Public Health Association about a healthy, sustainable food system.

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