Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saturday Walks


I was out earlier taking a walk and this is the beautiful sky that I saw. I love Saturdays!

I hope that everyone is having a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fashion Spotlight: Couture Designer Raishma Islam

Fashion Designer Raishma Islam


Today I'd like to share my interview with pioneering British couture designer Raishma Islam. She is a well-respected designer who has worked with some of the biggest names in the British fashion industry. Raishma trained under Elizabeth Emmanuel, who created Princess Diana's wedding dress. Raishma Islam launched her brand in 1998 and has designed gowns for Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, as well as a number of celebrity clients.

In July 2013, Raishma created her pret collection which was very popular. Her beautiful designs and ever-growing reputation were instrumental in her launching her new online store raishma.co.uk in April 2014. 

In the interview that follows, Raishma gives us some insight into her background and the inspiration behind her designs. She also talks about her wonderful new online store. Read on to learn more about this talented designer. Enjoy!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Music Spotlight: Baliva


A couple of weeks ago, I was in London attending an event. Afterwards I decided to take a walk. It was kind of a rainy day, but I wanted to check things out to see what was happening in the city. As I was walking through Trafalgar Square, I heard this beat. I listened as I was walking by and I was like...Hmm, I like that! So I turned around and went back to find out where the music was coming from and I saw Baliva there performing right near the National Gallery. I stood there and watched him finish his performance and then we talked. We talked about our favorite hip hop artists and it was cool. I was so impressed with his music so I asked if I could interview him and he said yes. Here's a bit of background on Baliva.


Baliva is a hip hop artist, writer, and speaker based in London, UK. He was born in Harare, Zimbabwe where he spent his high school days in a R&B/rap group. The group received national airplay for their first single “Love is Magic” in 2000 which led to many shows in Zimbabwe’s capital city. Baliva moved to London in 2001. You can learn more about him at his website here.

To give you a taste of his music, check out his song from 2012 called "On A Mission".



And now, without further ado, here is my interview with Baliva. Enjoy!

What made you choose the name Baliva?

I wanted a name that reflected who I was and at the time I was preaching about Christianity and I wanted to be remembered for something. But I couldn't think of anything. One of my fears in doing music was the bigger you get the more you might forget who you are. So a friend told me a story about a company in America that put their values into their business name, so that anytime they go to their business name they remember who they are and they stuck to those values so I thought okay, I'm a believer, but I didn't want to spell it in the traditional way so turned it into an acronym.

B stands for Believe;  A stands for Achieve;  L stands for Learn;  I stands for Inspire; V stands for Value;  and A stands for Authenticity.  And those are some of the values that I always wanted to be a part of me no matter how far I got. And that became the name and it kind of stuck with me and that was ten years ago this year.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a performer?

I started in the last two years of school. Every break time we would memorize songs and then show off how well we memorized the songs on the playground. It became a common thing everyday to the point where we all memorized different parts of certain songs and we merged into a group. We progressed to a demo and then got into a professional studio and it was after that when I realized that this is what I wanted to do. I didn't really know if I wanted to do it as a career or not, but I just knew that I enjoyed doing it.

What artists inspire you? Who are some of your influences?

From the beginning, the first artists that I got into were like Coolio and Warren G. Then as I got older it was Jay Z, the Fugees, Lauryn Hill and later it became Nas and Cross Movement, who are a Christian hip hop group from Philly. They were a big influence on me and that's from the hip hop side, but then I've always listened to other genres.  I love Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone and Michael Jackson. I consistently listen to Michael Jackson. He's been a big influence.


What led you to performing the style of rap that you do?

Music was more or less my everything and I made it more important than anything else in my life. I think when I became a Christian I felt that I needed to get rid of anything from my past, like chasing fame, so over time I became involved with music projects at church and it really built me up to do music again. But now where I see myself, I don't see the divide between secular and gospel. I'm a Christian and I believe in God, but in some songs I may not necessarily talk about God. I do songs that are more positive about different things, but I'll also write a song where I'm worshiping God. Now I'm at a place where I try to express what's on my heart. Like Bob Marley for example, if you listen to his music he shares about his faith, his love life, his political views and he also has a good time and you get an idea of who he was as a person and his values and that's more of what I want my music to be like. My music has sort of gone through three stages, so when it started out it was love songs about school crushes. Then as I got older it became more political, so I did songs about things like poverty in Africa and then when I became a Christian it became about me being a preacher and spreading the gospel through hip hop. And in the stage that I'm in now, I still want to talk about social issues...I want to talk about the gospel...so I want my music to be all-encompassing.

What do you hope listeners will get from your music?

I hope that people will feel empowered. I think we live in a world where fear is often placed on us in so many ways that people almost feel disempowered. So I think one of the things, especially with this upcoming album, is to empower people who feel oppressed. I want people to get so many things I guess, but I think hope is a big one and to just know that God is there and to use my life as an example of how God's been there. And I want people to feel free, because I think when you listen to music the worries just disappear and you're put in this whole other world. Often when I'm performing in the streets, you know, you'll see homeless people who will come and they'll stay for like five minutes and you can see for that moment in time they're free. Or kids will come and dance. Music just has that power.

Your previous answer leads to my next question. I met you in Trafalgar Square, what do you get from the experience of performing there?

The thing I always say to people...I perform in venues, I perform in schools, but one of my favorite places to perform is the street because you meet people and there's no stage, so people come up to you and you get to meet so many people from so many walks of life. And you really get to talk with them and hear their stories. But also the other thing is the smiles that you see on people's faces, especially when they catch the one-liners and it doesn't matter their age. You know, you get people in their nineties listening to you.

I went to a house concert where they had this touring band that were in the UK performing in someone's house and there must have been about fifty people there and the band was performing and just sharing songs. People were talking back to them and I think there was no sense of celebrity. I think that the whole celebrity kind of culture has robbed music of what it should be, which is a way for people to just connect with each other. So I like that about the street, because it takes away the barrier.

I see from your website that you have your third album coming out. When will it be released and what can listeners expect from it?

The album will be out on the 1st of September and it really is a very introspective album. It's sort of looking at different aspects of my life...dealing with things like rejection, dealing with issues like money, and self-worth...those are sort of the three themes. Love is a big part of it, so it's very introspective I think. People who I've played the album for have said that. I've been told by friends that it's diverse and personal.


What are your future goals that you'd like to accomplish with your music?

I'd say on a practical level, I definitely want to travel and be able to go around Europe and to Africa in the more short term. I guess with my music I just want it to be something that...like I know what music's like for me, like the albums I have in my iPhone that I listen to. They really help me make it through the day sometimes. Like when I'm really having a hard day and I know which songs to put on...like the words of the song are gonna make it alright. I want my music I guess to be a soundtrack to people's lives, you know, particularly those that may not have people around them who may understand them. I think when you share personal stories, people get a sense that, oh I'm not alone here, that actually someone else goes through what I go through. I once wrote something where I said that I'd like it to be the older brother for that young guy looking for an older brother or a friend for that person looking for a friend. So ultimately I'd like that to be my legacy...to be looked back at to find that encouragement. I mean, I'm listening to Michael Jackson's stuff and he's long gone and I'm really enjoying his lyrics. I never realized how socially conscious he was with his lyrics. So it's very encouraging. These days I'm trying to be more conscious of doing that with my lyrics. I mean, I've written stuff before that have torn things down but I'm trying to get that balance you know.

 ***
As I mentioned before, you can find out about Baliva at his website balivamusic.com

You can also follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook .

Also, in a few weeks I'll have Baliva back to discuss his upcoming album that will be out in September, so watch this space!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Four-Winged Dinosaur

I recently watched a very interesting documentary called The Four-Winged Dinosaur. Let me tell you, it made for very intriguing viewing. It's the kind of presentation that pulls you in as you follow researchers on a journey to discovery. I love documentaries that take me into the inner circle of people who do a lot of their work away from any spotlight and then one day their findings are reported to the world.

                                 

In The Four-Winged Dinosaur, we are able to follow along with scientists who are studying the recent discovery of one of the smallest dinosaurs ever found. It's a four-winged, feathered creature called Microraptor that had wings like a bird and yet the wings were on its arms and legs. Scientists have unearthed fossils that have preserved what remains of this unusual creature. It's a tough job for scientists because in the process of fossilization, some of the specimens have been crushed and distorted.

I have read over the years about the connections between birds and dinosaurs and this creature seems to be some kind of link. The documentary mentions how scientists have studied the origins of birds and flight and how many believe that birds evolved from dinosaurs many millions of years ago. Determining how this happened has been a great mystery though and scientists think that perhaps the Microraptor may be a real link between the two.

It's very interesting to delve into the mystery along with the scientists as they go on their quest for answers. It's a fascinating viewing experience.

The Four-Winged Dinosaur premieres on PBS America tonight in the UK at 7:50pm on Sky channel 534 and Virgin Media channel 243 and again at 11:15pm.

*Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this documentary for review. All opinions are mine.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Review: Polaroids from the Middle Kingdom: Old and New World Visions of China



Polaroids from the Middle Kingdom: Old and New World Visions of China by Lukas Birk, 
published by Glitterati Incorporated, http://glitteratiincorporated.com


Photographer: Lukas Birk


Nostalgia is an interesting thing. The dictionary defines nostalgia as 'a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past'. Recently I was given the opportunity to read and view this wonderful book of photographs called Polaroids from the Middle Kingdom: Old and New World Visions of China, published by Glitterati Incorporated, http://glitteratiincorporated.com . It's an interesting book that looks at steadily changing China and how the author views the changing country through the lens of nostalgia.

Sanlitun Soho, Beijing, 2009
The author/photographer Lukas Birk relocated to Beijing in order to escape the sense of stagnation that he felt in his central European country of birth. When he arrived in China, he became part of a circle of like-minded young creative types who shared his outlook of "nostalgia teetering on the edge of melancholy". In the process of wanting to express this sentiment that they shared, Birk came across his father's collection of expired Polaroid film. He ended up using the old film to document the transformation of China and the aged film helps convey a sense of nostalgia about a quickly changing country. There is the clash of the old in the form of the expired film and the old China up against the modern China that is sprouting up every day.

Musing over Tiananmen, Beijing, 2010
View on the Bund, Shanghai, 2008

I love this idea that Birk has of using the medium of the expired Polaroid film because as I look at each photograph, my eyes first think they are seeing a retro image. Then my mind switches over to remember that these photos were taken from 2008 to 2010 on film that expired in 1991. We are given the chance to see rapidly changing China through a lens of nostalgia brought on by the effects of the aged film.

Performance Artist, Pingyao, 2008

Some photos have defects around the edges that look like teeth marks and some look as if sunlight has burned into them at points. The defects from the aged film come in from the edges but don't spoil the images at all. There is a beautifully haunting quality. It's as if the defects are seeping into the center of each image and after a certain amount of time the images will just magically disappear. The old is giving way to the new daily in China and the medium that Birk chose to convey this is perfect.

Trash Collector Family, Pingyao, 2008

Mao tattoo, Beijing, 2008
There is a foreword from art advisor Katherine Don in which she gives her thoughts on Birk's innovative work. And Lukas Birk himself gives the reader an introduction to his amazing book of photographs and explains his inspiration to capture the transformation of China in this unique way.

I found Polaroids from the Middle Kingdom: Old and New World Visions of China to be a moving book because I love stories told through photography. The photographs do the talking as there is only text in the short foreword and introduction. This is a large book and we are given a detailed look at each image. My eyes traveled around and into each photograph and saw something more each time.

This is an excellent book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a celebration of life and nostalgia and documents how change happens right in front of us every day.

Polaroids from the Middle Kingdom: Old and New World Visions of China can be purchased here.


*Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Happy Weekend

 



Wherever your path leads you this weekend I hope that you have lots of fun! 

Enjoy!  :-)

Friday, May 16, 2014

The heidi klein High Summer 2014 Collection



A few days ago I was invited to the heidi klein press event which was held to reveal their High Summer '14 Collection and their new My Body line of swimwear. It was a wonderful event held in a beautifully elegant London hotel. It was a rainy day, but nothing could dampen my enthusiasm  :-)  I had the chance to spend some time with  heidi klein  co-founders Heidi Gosman and Penny Klein at the press event and they were very gracious hosts.

Some of you may remember my previous post about the brand and my interview with designer Heidi Gosman. If you missed it, you can read the interview here.

In 2002, Heidi and Penny launched heidi klein, which is a one-stop shop for all of your holiday swimwear needs. Their  first boutique was in the Notting Hill area of London. Two years later, the heidi klein collection was launched.

Heidi explains, "We set out to reinvent swimwear shopping into an exciting experience, whilst providing everything our customers desired in order to look and feel gorgeous on holiday, all under one roof."

They opened a second boutique in 2004 in the Chelsea area of London, and now their swimsuits and cover ups are sold in over 150 stores in 39 countries globally. They remain an independent brand and their suits are loved by their well-traveled clients. Celebrities such as Kate Moss, Sienna Miller and Jennifer Anniston are just some of the satisfied customers of this wonderful line of swimwear.

During the event we were shown various pieces from the line as they were modeled for us. I can't pick a favorite piece because everything was so beautiful. It was great to get the chance to see the various pieces up close like that. This really gave me a sense of just how well-made they are and how there is such care put into the making of each garment.

As I mentioned earlier, this was a showing of the High Summer 2014 collection and also the My Body range of swimwear. The High Summer collection had such a freshness to it and it instantly makes you think of going on a beach getaway somewhere.

The High Summer 2014 collection has a global theme. The styles are as follows:

Kerala (below) - which is inspired by the stunning sunsets of the Malabar coast in India
Puerto Rico (below) - which celebrates the crystal clear Caribbean sea and takes color inspiration from the teal of the water and the white sandy beaches
Oman (below) - which was inspired by the sunsets in the desert of the Arabian Peninsula
Ravello (below) - which brings to mind setting sail off the Amalfi Coast of Italy and there's inspiration from classic nautical prints
 Laos (below) - which incorporates glorious shades of blue
Zambia (below)  - which is inspired by the lush tropical jungles of Zambia and features a beautifully bold print
Vernazza (below) - which comes in a lovely navy blue seersucker with rope knots and bows which brings to mind the classic 50's style
Ischia (below) - is a bold and beautiful hot pink design that just says summer
The new My Body range is a wonderful addition to the High Summer 2014 collection. It includes a collection of fifteen pieces which have been expertly crafted to give women the extra support that they desire. Here are a couple of the looks below. I think they're so chic!
Some of the attributes of the My Body range are:

*  Thick halter straps for lift and extra support for larger cup sizes

*  Underwire and side boning for support


*  Moulded cups for shape


*  Ruched powermesh for control on the front


*  For smaller cup sizes, there is moulded padding and supporting underwire


I came away from the event being really impressed with all of the swimsuits and cover ups that I saw. They were so elegant and the colors were so vibrant and yet not overdone in any way.

Heidi Gosman and Penny Klein have created an exceptional collection of pieces that women can feel good about wearing. The various pieces accentuate the beauty that's already there within women and helps them feel so stylish as they go on their trips around the world!

Please visit heidiklein.com to find out about purchasing any pieces from the line.

**Note: If you would like to enlarge the images just click on them and they will increase in size.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day


Today is Mother's Day back home and it makes me think of my mom. I think of her every day because I miss her and I wish that I could talk to her one more time. She's been gone eight years now. I never stop missing her and I know I never will, but I have more peace now when I think of her than I used to. A lot of the sadness has been replaced by my good memories of her :-)

I love you Mom!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bring Back Our Girls


Today I wanted to say something about the horrible, horrible kidnapping that has happened in Nigeria. I know that it has been nearly a month, but I haven't known what to say because what else can I say that hasn't already been said. These girls were taken...no, ripped away from the lives that they were leading and they are being forced into a life of unspeakable horrors. They were taken from their school and are being forced into a life of hell and are at the mercy of people who see them as property and nothing more.

This terrible incident is truly heartbreaking. I don't have a daughter or any children of my own, but these are my daughters too. You don't have to be a parent to care. We all should care, no matter who we are. Their safety and well-being matter to me as a human being. I think about if it were one of my nieces who were kidnapped. It would devastate me. I can't even imagine what their families are going through.

I keep thinking about myself as a girl of their age and how I was doing my best to grow into the woman that I wanted to be someday. My mind was filled with school and dreams and everyday life. I wasn't thinking about being kidnapped and sold into a life of horror. I keep thinking about the fact that the girls were taken from their school. This speaks volumes to me. Some in this world are so afraid of the power of an educated girl that they will do anything to try to take away that power. It just makes me feel even stronger about the power of education. It is indeed a powerful tool if some in this world feel threatened by how it will expand the mind of a girl.

I pray for the girls' safe return. It seems so dire, but I pray that they are saved from this hell on Earth. And I pray that when they are hopefully returned to their lives, that the world...all of us collectively, will be there for them  as they heal somehow and for others who are suffering.

Bring Back Our Girls!!!!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

A May Trip to London

As I mentioned in my previous post, I went to London on Thursday. I had a fantastic time! It was a quick trip because I came back home on Friday, but as I said before, a quick trip is better than no trip.


The main reason for visiting was to go to a De La Soul concert at Shepherd's Bush Empire. I've been a fan of their music since the very beginning of their career so it was so cool to finally get the chance to see them perform live. They're celebrating their 25th anniversary and I made sure that I wasn't gonna miss them yet again. On Valentine's Day they gave away free downloads of their whole music catalogue and I just thought that that was so cool of them to do. The show was great! It was well worth the wait! I know one thing...I won't be missing them anymore in the future. I need to see those guys on the regular.

The next day was a day of a little bit of sightseeing and some fabulous lunch before heading home. I have some pics that I'd like to share to give you a taste of what I saw while I was in London. The city is a great place to stroll because even if you've been there several times it's a treat to take a second or third look at something. And if it's your first time visiting London, you will surely be intrigued.

Here are some views of Covent Garden. It's a wonderful, shopping, eating, browsing, and strolling area of the city, but I also love the architecture around there.


Below are some pics of St. Paul's Church and the surrounding gardens. St. Paul's Church, not to be confused with St. Paul's Cathedral, is also affectionately known as 'The Actors' Church' because of its long association with the theatre community.


 

Below you can see lunch for that day. It was from Sophie's in Covent Garden. It's one of my favorite places to eat whenever I'm in London. I'll just park the pics here for food porn's sake and I won't say anymore except to tell you what I had. I had calamari as a starter and then a peppered steak salad. It was so good! I'm still salivating over it. LOL.


Below is a picture of St. Martin-in-the-Fields church. It sits right next to the National Gallery which you can see to the left in this pic.



These are some of the beautiful flowers directly across from Buckingham Palace.



This is a gate along the edge of Green Park.


And finally here are some alternative views of Buckingham Palace. I've taken many pictures of the front of the palace over the years, but in walking past I was struck by these other ways of seeing the architecture and beauty of the building. Seeing the building from an angle and from the side made it a new experience for me.


And that's all of my pictures of  London on this visit, but I know I'll have others to share in the future since it's a place that I love to visit whenever I can. I hope you enjoyed coming along with me.


Thursday, May 01, 2014

London Here I Come!


This afternoon I'm heading to London for a bit of fun. I'll be back home tomorrow. It's a quick trip, but a quick trip is better than no trip ;-)

I'll share the details when I get back home and of course I'll share pics. If you've visited me here before you know I love taking photos...especially of random things, like the big blue cock that I saw in Trafalgar Square last year. Lol.


Have a great day and I'll be back to share what I see :-)

Until next time...