Belle-Noir Magazine: March/April 2012

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Contents: Beautiful You




All Eyez On….Chinoo Designs

Independant Woman: Erica Watson

A Q&A with Designer Patricia Stewart

An Interview with Our Favorite Funny Girl




Get Your Sexy Back with These Organic Tips & Treats P17

Autism: A Mother’s Love

One Mother’s Touching Tribute in Honor of National Autism Awarness Month

Style File: Spring Into Color

Spring 2012’s Hottest Colors & Trends


Wise: Marcy Cruz

The “F” Word

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Living It Up P24 Frugalicious Diva Take Control of Your Money P28 Keep It Moving Cleaning Out The Clutter P30 Recipe Remix Fresh Spring Flavors

In Every Issue P6

A Note From Ms. Aja B.

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On The Cover Photographer: Natalie Masciale Retouching: Eve Harlowe Stylist Consultant: Reah Norman Hairstylist: Alicia Farjardo Make-up Artist: Erica Watson

Erica is wearing a CurvyQT Dress, Jewelry by Ashley Stewart, Hair provided by Platinum Wigs


Contributors: Marcy Cruz

Marcy Cruz is a freelance writer and blogger based out of New York City. Besides being a part of the Belle-Noir team, she is also on the production team of Full Figured Fashion Week. She loves to travel at a whim, is a self-proclaimed book nerd, loves to crochet while watching Project Runway and Audrey Hepburn is her hero. She can be reached via email at You can also catch up with her every Thursday on the Belle-Noir Magazine blog or find her on her own personal blog Fearlessly Just Me (

Nanthale Collins “I get asked all the time how I got into fashion? My answer is always the same. How could I not.” Fashion selection has always come easy to Nanthale Collins. She loved the way people lit up after putting on that perfect outfit. That is when she decided to take her love of fashion to the next level. After graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in Marketing & Management, she furthered her knowledge of fashion at The Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. While completing her Styling Certification, she worked at a retail boutique where she completed client’s wardrobes, taught style classes to in-house stylists & coordinated styles for high paying customers. Since completing her Image Consulting Certification, Nanthale has worked for retail fashion houses as a consultant, styled numerous photo shoots, worked as a wardrobe assistant on a motion picture set and participated in countless runway shows. Nanthale has worked backstage at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in NYC for the past 7 seasons as a dresser, as wardrobe consultant and dresser for NYC Bridal Week two seasons in a row, and has made Full Figured Fashion Week™ her play ground for three seasons straight. For more information on her services you can visit her company website,

Sherrell Dorsey

Sherrell Dorsey is a beauty writer, natural beauty expert and beauty brand strategist. In addition to writing for Belle Noir, Sherrell is a featured writer on beauty, fashion, lifestyle and wellness for Tyra Banks’ Beauty and Fashion Site, Posh Beauty and her blog, For regular health, beauty and wellness tips, follow Sherrell on twitter at

Chef Jeff Rogers Chef Jeffrey Rogers was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. Always having a love to share his craft; he has held positions at leading restaurants and catering companies, including Match Restaurant in Soho and Mood Food catering. Jeff became Executive chef at the BAM Café inside of the Brooklyn Academy of Music Opera House, achieving write ups in NY Times and organized Gala events for over 800 guests including the Prince and Princess of Spain. He has worked within the ranks of Sodexo as an Executive Chef and Certified Culinary Foundations Trainer. Achieving numerous write ups in newspapers and winning several awards; Chef Jeff was a part of the team leading Sodexo to 3 Gold and 1 Bronze medal at the ACF sanctioned Evening of Good Taste Culinary Salon. Chef Jeff continues his good works mentoring students in culinary arts programs in NYC High Schools and through his Brooklyn based catering company, JPRogers Culinary Creations and as Executive Chef/Partner of New York’s Nu Urban Café, a restaurant providing “Healthy food in a new fashion.” Belle-Noir Magazine, March/April 2012 | p.5 MAGAZINE |

A Note from...

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” ~Mark Twain

Welcome to Belle-Noir Magazine’s Spring Issue! Much like Mark Twain, Team Belle-Noir has Spring Fever! However, unlike Mr. Twain, we know exactly what we want from spring 2012! It’s time to break out of the winter coats and heavy boots and into the light, breezy and colorful clothing & shoes that the season has to offer. Image Consultant Nanthale Collins has provided us several must-have items in the season’s hottest color combinations in this issue’s “Style File”. You can also see some of those color combos at work in the designs of up and coming plus fashion designer Patricia Stewart, founder of Chinoo Designs, in our “All Eyez On…” column.

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Ms. Aja B

Spring is not just about refreshing your wardrobe, however. After months of harsh winter weather, and eating plenty of warm & savory comfort foods (maybe all those bowls of stew & mac & cheese are just us?) Spring can also be a time to refresh how we treat our bodies from the inside out. We are so pleased to introduce our new column, “Naturally” which will deal with all things organic and natural. Kicking things off is Sherrell Dorsey, creator of the awesome blog Organic Beauty Vixen, with some tips on bringing that sexy glow back to our skin from head to toe. Chef Jeff Rogers is also back with another Recipe Remix, this time, serving up a light & lovely lamb supper perfect for your spring holiday gatherings. And what is spring without being able to go out and have a great time full of laugher with your girlfriends? One of our favorite “girlfriends in our head”, Ms. Erica Watson, graces our cover this month, looking lovely in all her full-figured glory. In an exclusive interview, she sits down with us to discuss life as a comedian, her thoughts on fat jokes & fat shaming, and her new projects which include a relationship blog. Relationships? Sounds like a great lead in for a summer romance…but all in due time. Right now, it’s time to rejoice in all that spring has to offer. That little buzz of excitement you’re feeling? It’s Spring Fever! Savor it, breathe it in, and then, strut your big & beautiful self in the glow of the sunshine! What are you looking forward to this spring? Let us know at or on Facebook. Peace & Love, Ms. Aja B. & Team Belle-Noir

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Belle-Noir Magazine | Big. Beautiful. You.™ March/April 2012 Volume 2 Issue 2

Editorial Director Aja B. Stubbs

Art & Layout Director Jean “JNESS” Nerestant

Contributing Writers Nanthale Collins Marcy Cruz Sherrell Dorsey Chef Jeffrey Rogers Latisha Williams

Advertising Coordinators Marcy Cruz Andrene Williams

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor are welcome, but may be edited due to space limitations. All letters must include the writer’s name and city/state. Interested in being featured in Belle-Noir Mag? Email us! Belle-Noir Magazine is published bi-monthly by Belle-Noir Communications. We reserve the right to refuse to sell space for any advertisement that staff deems inappropriate for publication. All content of this magazine including design, art, and editorial content is Copyright © 2012, Belle-Noir Communications. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this magazine may be copied or reproduced without the advanced written consent of the publisher.

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All Eyez On…

Chinoo Designs - By Aja B. Stubbs

Chinoo Designs Founder Patricia Stewart

Belle-Noir Magazine Editorial Director Aja B. Stubbs had the pleasure of sitting down with Ms. Patricia stewart, head designer and founder of Philadelphia, PA based plus fashion line Chinoo Designs.

graduated with a degree in Fashion from Harper College. I fell in love with sewing at the age of seven and I have been sewing ever since. I’ve worked for some major department stores (Lord n Taylor and Macy’s). My degree is in fashion, but my passion is pattern design. I’ve sewn for friends and family most of my life. I’ve done everything from wedding dresses to baby clothes. People have always suggested I start my own business but I was never sure about it. You never know what’s coming your way and I believe there is a purpose for the things you love to do.


What is the meaning behind the name of your company?

PS: Chinoo is a name that I’ve had since the day my

Belle-Noir Mag (BNM): Thank you

mother brought me home from the hospital. My siblings were 1 and 2 years old at the time and I guess the name Patricia is hard for toddlers to pronounce. The kept asking my mom how to say my name. My sister finally asks my mom, “She new?” and my mom responds, “Yes, she is new.” Years later with a different spelling, Chinoo stuck with me.

for sitting down with Belle-Noir Magazine. Before we talk about Chinoo Designs, let’s find out more about the woman behind the company. Who is Patricia Stewart?

BNM: What was the catalyst behind your creating a plus size line?

Patricia Stewart (PS):

I’m originally from Chicago IL. I studied fashion design throughout high school and college and

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PS: I love shopping and I am plus size. There are clothes out there for plus sized women but I felt a lot of them lacked style. I feel that designers were missing the mark when designing clothes for plus sized Visit

women. When you look through magazines and see all of the different styles, you can only say I wish that came in my size. Even when I was in fashion school, we only designed for size 6. I wanted to create and design what I knew the world of plus sized fashion needed. We want to be sexy, trendy and fashion forward.

BNM: Currently your line goes up to a size 24. Do you have any plans on extending your sizes to a size 26 or above?

PS: This is just the beginning for me. I want add more sizes to my collection, and I also want to design for petite women. I want to change what’s being offered from the average measurement and standard height of our clothes. The time will come when I can meet every plus sized woman’s needs.

BNM: Your line is a great mix of clasChiffon Printed Top with Asymmetrical Neckline Pleating $29.50 Leather Obi Belt $65.00 High Waist Faux Suede Slim Leg Pant $53.00


sic work pieces and more casual everyday pieces, and has lots of colors and textures. How important was it to you to bring color and fabrics like satin/silk to your clothing?

PS: I have made color a very important part of my line. We wear colors, but we want to wear it with style. There is a lot of color, but how much style do they offer for plus women. Most women wear black, we have made that our color of choice, and I know it does not have to be. It’s those comfort zones that make it

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All Eyez On‌Chinoo Designs - by Aja B. Stubbs (continued)

Double Breasted Jacket with Faux Suede Leather Wrap Closure $52.00 High- Waist Faux Suede Pencil Skirt $38.25

Faux Suede Sheath Raglan Sleeves Dress with Leather Piping Detail $53.00

Douche Satin Top with Asymmetrical Neckline $29.50

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All Eyez On‌Chinoo Designs - by Aja B. Stubbs (continued)

Jersey Cowl Neck Blouse with Three-Quarter sleeves $26.50

Douche Satin Top with Asymmetrical Neckline $29.50 Bolero Jacket with Single- Bone Button Closure Three-Quarter Sleeve $41.50 High Waist Pleated Front Slim Leg Pant in Shanghai Crepe $67.00


Jersey Skirt with Pleated Overlay $44.50

Jersey Bandeau Belt $9.00

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beautiful All Eyez On‌Chinoo Designs - by Aja B. Stubbs (continued)

had for us to change. Choose color. How I design will give the illusion to make us look smaller then we really are. My collection will always offer something different and exciting. I am always trying to select different types of fabrics and prints. Chinoo Designs is offering something different for plus size women.

BNM: Are there other designers (be it straight or plus size) that you admire and why? PS: There are so many wonderful designers; Ann Taylor is a favorite of mine. She knows how to dress a woman, and I like her design line for the body.

BNM: What is the most challenging part of being the woman behind Chinoo Designs? PS: I challenge myself to succeed. Chinoo Designs is the new designer on the block, and my challenge is to stay true to my designs and myself. Chiffon Print Top with Asymmetrical Neckline $29.50

BNM: How can a woman looking to

High -Waist Chiffon Print Pencil Skirt $39.40 Leather Obi Belt $65.00

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All Eyez On…Chinoo Designs - by Aja B. Stubbs (continued)

“Chinoo Designs is offering something different for plus size women.”

purchase Chinoo Designs do so?


You can visit my website: You can also find me at BellaNOR Boutique in Philadelphia, PA and FortSmith Boutique in Chicago.

BNM: Will you be participating in any upcoming events?


I have several trunk shows and fashion shows scheduled.

BNM: Where would you like to see Chinoo Designs in 5 years? 10 years?

PS: 5 years, I see Chinoo Designs labels in more boutiques across the country. 10 years, I would have succeeded with the 5 year plan. I also want to have a Chinoo Designs boutique in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. For more information and to purchase any items seen in this article, please visit www.chinoodesigns. com

Jersey Cowl Neck Blouse with Three-Quarter Sleeves $26.50 Jersey Slim Pant Wide Elastic Waistband $36.00



Jersey Bandeau Belt $9.00

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beautiful Naturally: Step Into Springtime with Natural and Organic Beauty Treats

- by Sherrell Dorsey

When your skin is feeling a little less-than stellar after taking a beating from the harsh winter weather and you’re looking to bring your sexy glow back for spring weather, ditch toxic chemicals in your beauty products that have been linked to not-so-sexy diseases. Instead, opt for a beautiful helping of natural and organic products that will turn your dull skin radiant and soft.

The key to maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails is to stick to a beauty diet that includes a regimen of natural products, whether store bought or made in the comfort of your own kitchen, consistency in your beauty routine and supplementing your routine with a diet high in fruits, veggies and protein.

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Naturally - by Sherrell Dorsey

Skin - Keep your skin clear and free by turning your breakfast into a homemade mask you can store in the fridge until you need a little pick me up. Mix up a blemish-busting mask of yogurt, bananas and honey to hydrate, tighten and exfoliate the skin one to two times per week. Take one cup of yogurt, one smashed banana and two tablespoons of honey and mix in a small bowl, storing the remainder for another day of self-beauty. Leave on your skin parfait for 10 to 15 minutes and rinse dry with cool water. Follow with a hydrating moisturizer like AloeForMocha Skin Care’s Aloe and Shea Butter Moisturizer, great for locking in moisture daily for supple skin or Origins Brighter By Nature Correcting Serum, great for correcting discoloration and preventing future dark spots on the skin.

AloeForMocha Skin Care’s Shea Moisturizer| $30

Body - Show your curves some love in the shower with an invigorating body scrub after you’re thoroughly clean and your make-shift spa is hot and steamy. Grab a scrub with a lifting scent like Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian Spa Sea Salt Body Scrub. Not only is sea salt naturally healing and great to breathe in for your overall respiratory system, but it makes an excellent exfoliant for removing dead skin and banishing those rough, dry-skin flakes to the bottom of the drain.

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Sea Salt Body Scrub | $4.88

You can also create your own scrub with a cup of brown sugar and three to five tablespoons of olive oil for a moisturizing scrub you can leave in the shower.


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Naturally - by Sherrell Dorsey

Hair - Don’t fuss with dry hair that won’t shine. Give your ‘do some bounce to match your personality by infusing moisture and a little bit of TLC with Eden Body Works’ Peppermint Tea Tree Hair Milk that turns brittle hair into waves of shine and manageability. Use daily, especially to detangle tight curls.

Eden Body Works Peppermint Tea Tree Hair Milk | $9.50

To protect hair from split ends and environmental damage, try mixing together avocado, olive oil and an egg for a conditioner you can leave on in the shower for a steamy treatment that will penetrate your scalp and your stubborn ends. Rinse thoroughly and follow up with a moisturizing treatment like coconut oil great for a light-weight feel.

Origins Brighter By Nature™ Skin tone correcting serum | $42

Sherrell Dorsey is a beauty writer, natural beauty expert and beauty brand strategist. In addition to writing for Belle Noir, Sherrell is a featured writer on beauty, fashion, lifestyle and wellness for Tyra Banks’ Beauty and Fashion Site, Posh Beauty and her blog, For regular health, beauty and wellness tips, follow Sherrell on twitter at


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TheFrugalicious Diva


Belles, when it comes to our money, we must take a page from Oprah’s financially savvy book. Be aware of every incoming and outgoing penny. Even if you’re not making her type of money yet, you still have stewardship over some. Take care of that little and you’ll be blessed with more. First, know where your money is going. If you’ve been following my weekly blogs, then you know that we’re diving into the Extreme Couponing life. It’s great to save “all this money” on your grocery bill, but tell me, how will you know how much you’re saving if you don’t know how much you were already spending?

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There is no reason to be afraid of your money; budgeting or investing. Our male counterparts have been doing it for generations, so it’s only fair that we finally take on the task too. No more are the days of our men taking care of all the finances. Even if he’s better at it than you, you still should know the family’s financial status, at any given time. The following are just some of the poor excuses I’ve heard women give for passing their fiscal responsibility on to someone else.

Excuse: My significant other is better with money than me. So what is your point? If you’ve ever played a team sport then you know all players are important, not just the one scoring points. The leading scorer can’t be the team all by themselves; they need assistance because you are a team. That is how you should look at your finances, too. Maybe they keep track of the money better, but you can contribute by knowing your individual income; perhaps they are better at finding deals, but you can clip the coupons and find new coupon blogs to follow. Work together! Take an interest in knowing more about the subject matter. Perhaps it is not their preference to always want to monitor the accounts, but know that they can’t count on you to do it, so they step up. Well, sister, learn how to be a team player and get in the game. Ask questions, read and learn what it takes to maintain your household outside of cleaning and cooking.

Excuse: I don’t know where to start. You start where you always start, at the beginning.


Seek advice from books, advisors and even blogs. Someone in cyber space once asked where she should start too. Information is easily accessible so it’s no longer an excuse. Find out what works for your family and what won’t. Want to get your finances on track? Then begin to track your spending. Find out where your household stands. Then write your financial goals and create a plan to achieve them. Giving your money away recklessly is no way to treat your family. Here’s what I mean. If you purchase too many items without taking stock in what you already have, you’re wasting money. If you don’t know what you spent last month, then you can’t budget for this month. If you’re always paying full price because “that’s just the way it is”, then you’ll never take control of your finances. You have the power, now it’s time to use it.

Excuse: I don’t make enough money to save. This is the biggest untruth I have ever known that we tell ourselves constantly, but you know what I’ve learned over the years? We do what we want to do and that includes spending our money where we want to spend it. It’s the reason we eat outside our homes, drink too much at the bar, fight crowds on opening night of the movie premiere and sing a duet with our favorite singer when they come to town. We will make a way to do something we enjoy doing and something that is important to us. My challenge to this thinking is to make a way to take care of business now, so we never have

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The Frugalicious Diva…STAND UP FOR YOUR MONEY(continued) to hustle to do the things we love to do. Ladies, it’s part of being a frugalicious diva. You can have a fabulous life full of excitement and fun, all while minding your budget business. You have to do the work. I’ve said it once and will continue to say it. If you have enough money to waste, then you have enough to save, donate and invest. Here’s a solution: take a week and write down everything you spend then evaluate it. If there’s something you can do without next week, take that amount and put it in your savings account.

Excuse: This is the way I was taught and how my parents always did it. Our kids nowadays have so many more luxuries, than we did. The same is true for our parents; we evolved more than they did, so why would you need to do the very same things your parents did way back then? If you had good, basic money principles from a family member who lived through the depression, then you truly understand frugal living. However, if that lesson was laced with a poverty mentality, then it’s time for you to evolve beyond your parents and grandparents’ lessons.

Take what you did learn, add new information and stir. In the past, it was acceptable for men to take care of us and handle all the finances. It was also a sad lesson to see her spouse pass away and leave her with money she didn’t know how to manage. Because he’d always done it, she didn’t even know how to pay the bills, let alone budget the household. We are modern women and as such, I implore you to stick up for your own money. Are you ready? Well, all the women who are independent throw you hands up at me!! Let’s know our money and grow our money!!

Affirmation of the Month: I allow myself to be financially empowered, as I choose to leave a legacy of financial abundance. Love Always,

Frugalicious Diva Only Make Room for Abundance!!

Learn how to be a team player and get in the game when it comes to your finances. Ask questions, read and learn what it takes to maintain your household.

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living up Keep It Moving


“What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork.” ~Pearl Bailey Can clearing the clutter improve your love life? The short answer is ‘yes!’ The truth is, clutter affects EVERY area of your life. In future articles we will be discussing each type and level of clutter and how to ride yourself of it once and for all so you can live you best life.

There are six types of clutter: 1. Physical Clutter: things you have 2. Time Clutter: things you do 3. R elationship Clutter: people you spend time with 4. Body Clutter: clutter that accumulates in your body 5. Mind Clutter: things you think or believe 6. Spiritual Clutter: your level of energy and connection

So can clutter affect your love life? Absolutely! Here are a few thoughts on how clutter can actually affect you love life:

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• When your environment is cluttered, your energy is tied up in many different ways with that clutter...leaving less available for relationships with others (even your relationship with yourself). • Clutter is a great way to distract yourself from fully being present in your relationships. Always being preoccupied with busy work and not really paying attention to those that matter in your life. • If you have an overloaded todo list, maybe it is time to let some of those tasks go or delegate them to someone else so you can focus on the important people in your life. • Clutter can keep you from creating time and space in your life for intimacy. Stuff strewn all over the bedroom is certainly not romantic! Plies of laundry, stacks of unread trade journals, your email inbox overflowing from your computer in the corner of the bedroom do not make for a romantic environment. You may feel stressed, rushed, embarrassed from your messy existence. • Clutter causes a lot of fighting and stress in relationships. Who left the stuff on the floor? Who didn’t take the library books back in time? Who didn’t put away the dry cleaning? These are all little annoyances that can cause fights, and resentment in a relationship.

Visit Visit

• If you’re single, clutter can keep you from having an active social life... maybe you’re embarrassed at having people over. Are you horrified when someone calls and says they are “just around the corner” and will stop by? Do you shove all the stacks of mail on the kitchen counter into the nearest drawer or the oven? • Maybe you’re still stuck on the relationship that didn’t work last time. Old relationships are another type of clutter all together. You have to sort out your feelings from the past, learn from the mistakes and move on or else there won’t be any room for a new relationship. Without even being aware of it, clutter affects your love life more than you can possibly imagine. The good news is that clearing the clutter has the power to dramatically improve your love life! Erica Duran is a CPO® (Certified Professional Organizer®), organic foods chef, and entrepreneur for over 21 years. She started Clutter Bugs to transform her clients’ lifestyles by getting them to clear their clutter, finally get organized, and go after what they really want out of life. Clutter Bugs is now growing nation-wide by training other Professional Organizers with her system and informational products. To get more information about these and other products, becoming a client, or becoming a professional organizer at http://www.ClutterBugs.Co.

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living up Recipe:


SPRING INTO FLAVOR by Chef Jeff J. Rogers

Springtime, and particularly Easter, is one of my favorite times of the year. It is a time of reflection. I take time to remember the sacrifices given for me to be able to live the life I have been blessed to live. I also look upon it as a chance to get away from the trappings of other holidays such as, Christmas and Thanksgiving; where you are expected to put out the turkey and all that will accompany it. Easter is a time of renewal, spring is in the air and it makes me think of brightening colors and crisp, clean flavors. Apart from being a traditional delicacy in the Easter dinner, Easter lamb is also a part of religious symbolism. Roast lamb has been the main feature of the Pope’s Easter dinner for many centuries. It has also been a long time favorite in the Rogers’ household. One of my favorite childhood memories include a lamb roast and passing out on the couch from being overstuffed by my third helping. For these reasons I have chosen for the remix; a Roasted Spring Lamb, accompanied by herbed new potatoes, fresh string beans and a re-vamp of an old fashioned carrot cake. As always, the recipes have been cut in calories, leaving you with plenty of flavor and none of the guilt. Feel free to go back for seconds, or thirds.

Original menu: Revised Menu: Baked Ham Au Gratin Potatoes Green Bean Casserole Carrot Cake Total calories: over 1475

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Roasted Lamb Herbed New Potatoes Fresh Green Beans Re-Vamped Carrot Cake Total Calories: 531


Roasted Spring Lamb

Ingredients 1 (4 pound) leg of lamb, deboned and tied 5 cloves garlic, cut into slivers 1 tablespoon ground black pepper 2 sprigs fresh rosemary 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Directions Rub the leg of lamb all over with salt and pepper. Use a small knife to make punctures in the lamb about 1 inch apart. Press slivers of garlic into each hole so that they are about 1/2 inch below the surface. Place the meat in a roasting pan. You can either remove the rosemary from the stalk and sprinkle and rub into the meat on all sides, or you can simply use the string from the lamb to secure against it. Pour the can of tomato sauce over roast. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, then lower the temperature to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C), and continue roasting until the internal temperature of the meat is 160 degrees F (70 degrees C), about 35 minutes. If you want the meat well done, wait until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F (75 degrees C).


Pan Roasted Green Beans

Ingredients: 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon olive oil 2-1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped salt to taste garlic powder to taste ground black pepper to taste ½ cup Papadew Peppers or other whole jarred peppers

Directions: Heat oil in a pan (wok if you have it) over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high, and place beans in the pan. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt, garlic powder, pepper. When beans are crisp/tender, mix in peppers. Continue cooking 2 minutes, until heated through.


Herbed New Potatoes w/Feta

Ingredients 5 pounds new red potatoes, cut into wedges 6 cloves garlic, minced 3/4 cup olive oil 1 cup water 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

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Recipe:REMIX For the Love of Comfort Foods

sea salt to taste ground black pepper to taste 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint 1 (8 ounce) package crumbled feta cheese

1 1/2 cups grated carrots *ž cup orange flavored dried cranberries (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease and flour one 9x13 inch pan or two 9 inch round cake pans.

Directions Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Lightly oil a large baking dish. Stir the potatoes, garlic, olive oil, water, lemon juice, salt, and pepper together in a bowl until the potatoes are evenly coated; pour into the prepared baking dish. Roast in the preheated oven until the potatoes begin to brown, about 30 minutes. Season the potatoes with the oregano and mint. If the dish appears dry, pour another 1/4 cup water into the dish. Return to the oven and bake about 25 minutes more, times vary according to your oven. Top with the crumbled feta cheese to serve.

Re-Vamped Carrot Cake (serves X) Ingredients: 1 cup cake flour 1 cup whole wheat flour 1 cup packed brown sugar 1/2 cup white sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 3 eggs 1/3 cup vegetable oil 2/3 cup buttermilk

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Separate eggs and beat egg whites until frothy, then continue whipping and gradually add 1/2 cup of the white sugar. Beat until stiff. In a large bowl combine; the cake flour, wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon, mix until blended. Add the oil and the buttermilk and mix well. Add the egg yolks and mix well. Fold in the egg whites and then the carrots and optional cranberries. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 35 minutes. Cool and frost with your favorite Cream Cheese frosting using light cream cheese i.e. Philly Light. Chef Jeffrey Rogers was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. He has held positions at leading restaurants and catering companies, including Match Restaurant in Soho and Mood Food catering. Jeff became Executive chef at the BAM CafĂŠ inside of the Brooklyn Academy of Music Opera House, achieving write ups in NY Times and organized Gala events for over 800 guests including the Prince and Princess of Spain. He is a member of the ACF and longtime supporter of the BCA. Chef Jeff continues his good works mentoring students in culinary arts programs in NYC High Schools and through his Brooklyn based catering company, JPRogers.

BN Visit


Belle-Noir Magazine, March/April 2012 | p.33 MAGAZINE |


“ Photography by Natalie Masciale Retouching by Eve Harlowe

Celebrate the things you love about yourself, and embrace your flaws because they make you unique.�

ependant Woman:

Erica Watson by Aja B. Stubbs

It has been quite a year for Erica Watson. This talented triple-threat has hosted several successful runs of her one woman show “Fat Bitch!” in major cities across the US. She can regularly be seen on the TV Guide Network, offering her sassy & witty commentary on various pop culture topics. But even with all of the success, she faced a very public battle when cable sitcom improperly used her image in what everyone in the plus industry immediately labeled as “fat shaming”. Being ever courageous and steadfast, she came out on top, and has not looked back since. Erica was kind enough to take time out of her busy touring schedule to speak to Belle-Noir Magazine about life and being true to yourself.

Hi Erica! Thanks so much for sitting down with Belle-Noir Magazine. You have been in the media quite a bit lately, most recently for an uproar about the TV One sitcom “That Girl” superimposing actress Tatiyana Ali’s head on a picture of your body. TVOne eventually publically apologized. Why do you think that writers and producers still think that it is okay to make plus size women the butt of jokes? Well, the truth is, I don’t mind a fat joke.. if it’s actually FUNNY! But there are some writers/comedians/performers out there that use it as an easy “go-to” because they


are lazy, and not really talented. I myself may crack an occasional joke about what it feels like to be a “big girl”, but to use humor to “fat shame” someone, or to “skinny shame” is just unacceptable, lame and lazy. I do not make fun of my body, or anyone else’s for that matter. And it’s not cool for anyone to use my body, without my permission, to make a joke. TVOne and Bent Out of Shape Productions both apologized to me, and I am so happy they did. It began an open discussion about size acceptance, and they were all sincerely sorry about it. Much love to them!

What is one thing that you took away from the TVOne experience? It’s not cool for anyone to use my body, without my permission, to make a joke. I learned how important it is to protect your images, so that they can not be misused. People see the title of my “Fat Bitch!” show and get the wrong idea. My 1 woman show is a celebration of women embracing their bodies, no matter what size. Just because my SHOW is called “Fat Bitch!” does not mean you can make “fat jokes” about ME. So I need to protect my image in pictures, on stage and my branding.

Many people only know of you as a comedian, having had successful runs across the country with your one woman show “Fat Bitch”. But you are also a successful film and stage actress and producer. You recently starred in the Broadway play “Love, Loss and What I Wore” in Chicago and in New York City. Belle-Noir Magazine, March/April 2012 | p.35 MAGAZINE |

Independant Woman:

Erica Watson What was that experience like for you? I am so blessed to be a part of the “Love, Loss and What I Wore” sisterhood. It has been such a wonderful experience, and I have learned so much. Acting is hard work. Doing 8 shows a week is very challenging, but it is a rewarding experience as well. The play is beautiful, and everyone should see it. It’s in NYC until March 25th, and people can get reduced tickets here FEB/LLWW_020612_WebOutreach.html

Of the three—being a comedian, actress, and producer--which do you enjoy most, and why? Wow, that’s a hard one. I love being a comedian because it allows me to tackle social issues in a way that is critical, honest and funny at the same time. Acting allows me to bring characters to life that may not normally have a voice. And producing empowers me to give life to projects that spotlight other talented people. I love doing all three...I can’t choose. It’s like having 3 boyfriends! One is great in bed, one is financially secure, and the other one is sweet and kind. You gotta have all three!!!! lol

Tell us about your new exciting project that you have debuted? We hear it is a relationship blog?

by Aja B. Stubbs

cause I am sick and tired of all of these relationship advice columnists who take themselves so seriously. Look out for it!

There are many plus size women that have aspirations of making it big in Hollywood (no pun intended). What advice would you give a young lady who wants to become an actress, but is intimidated by the thought of getting in front of casting directors who will tell her that she is too fat? Yes, someone will always tell you that you are too big! And guess what, when they lose the weight, they will still find something about you that needs to be fixed. Cut your hair! Cut your nose! Do this! Do that!! You have to ignore all of those things, and be firmly grounded in who YOU are. Celebrate the things you love about yourself, and embrace your flaws because they make you unique. No one is perfect, thank God! We all have quirks and imperfections.....that is what makes us beautiful! The truth of the matter is that I would like to lose weight, but not because I want others to accept me. You have to do things for YOU! We only have one life to go for it!

Visit Erica Watson online at

Yes, I have a relationship blog that will be out later this spring! It will feature real frank, yet fun dating/relationship advice from a girl who knows NOTHING about dating! lol! I NEVER have a man, but trust me....I can tell you what to do with yours! lol I got inspired to do it be-

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Photography by Natalie Masciale Retouching by Eve Harlowe


Belle-Noir Magazine, March/April 2012 | p.37 MAGAZINE |

Autism: A Mother’s Heart

by Michelle Nerestant

ress. Your child will appreciate not feeling like they have to perform every second and thirdly allow God to show you His divine purpose even in this sometimes confusing situation.

I am often asked how I do it: Mother to 4 children, special needs advocate, ministry leader, wife, and AUTISM. I can’t say that it is easy however I have discovered the “New Normal” for my life. Things are planned way in advance, schedules are posted clearly in my home, and plans are often postponed. Unfortunately Autism does not cater to plans at times I will never forget the day I held my rosy cheeked princess for the very first time. After having 3 boys, she was greatly received by all. My dreams of Saturdays spent at the nail salon and then to the mall flooded my mind with my new best friend. Things came crashing down a year later. The diagnosis came and I felt lost. The grieving process started. As a nurse I knew what it would entail for my daughter to progress. Multiple therapies, days spent working on language, multiple social groups to help in social skills, all exhausting. I became a walking encyclopedia filled with information and knowledge. I became lost in the process. Now in retrospect I should have done things differently. When speaking to other parents I stress the importance of not losing yourself. Your child needs you to be healthy and strong. You can’t advocate for someone if you are not at the top of your game. I also suggest to not get so involved in seeing perfection immediately. Take time to celebrate progp.38 | Belle-Noir Magazine, March/April 2012 MAGAZINE |

The dreams for my daughter are still there. After 13 years of enjoying her, we have not gotten our nails done at the salon...yet, or spent the day at the mall without an aide..yet. However we have celebrated together the unique bond of a daughter and mother’s love, when she touches my cheek and says “Mommy”, or when she says “Big Hug” with her arms wide open...our hearts connect and autism does not exist. My world is often upside down as I continue to advocate and make Jacqueline’s world more accessible to her. God has given her to me for a purpose. We’re on this journey together, my best friend and me. Michelle Ayala-Nerestant Special Needs Resource Advocate “New Beginnings Ministry” (609) 534-2346 Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). Autism affects the way a child perceives the world and makes communication and social interaction difficult. The child may also have repetitive behaviors or intense interests. Symptoms, and their severity, are different for each of the affected areas - Communication, Social Interaction, and Repetitive Behaviors. Today, it is estimated that one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. April is National Autism Awareness Month. For more information on autism, please visit

BN Visit

THE F WORD by Marcy Cruz

I have spent most of my life being that girl in the group who was overweight. I have been called everything: big, plus size, obese, BBW, etc. But the one word that just stings me deeply is the word that has been used the most: FAT. I have heard that word so many times to the point where it has really resonated in a negative way with me as I am sure it has with anyone who is overweight.


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THE F WORD…by Marcy Cruz (continued) Words have power. And words can change definition. Fat is something that we gain or lose. Fat is something that changes the size of our bodies. But over time, the F word has taken a different definition. It is now used to describe a person. It is now used to label a person. And it is now used in such a negative fashion. It is used as an insult, a dig, a way to hurt someone’s feelings and be malicious. I have seen this word used with such hatred and loathing. Some people despise overweight people so much that they will say the F word and accompany that word with other words like sloppy, disgusting, ugly, sickening, hideous, and a million other negative adjectives. It is a word that when used in this fashion makes me cringe. Even in the year 2012, we have people who loathe people like me, those they call fat and disgusting, for no reason at all other than our size. It hits us close to home, too. I have had family members and friends, even complete strangers, tell me I need to lose weight in order to be beautiful and normal. Many of us have heard the statement: “You have such a pretty face. If you could just lose some weight, you’ll be beautiful.” I have been judged because of my size. When I hear someone describe me, it’s always “She’s that fat girl with a pretty face.” It’s almost as if to them, I am almost there, the label of normalcy within my grasp but my size is denying me that honor. I’m pretty, I’m smart, I’m funny, I’m caring…BUT. I’m fat. Frankly, I think that is a load of BS. I have always believed in my beauty and have said this before but will do so again now for the world to read and remember: MY SIZE DOES NOT DEFINE ME AS A PERSON. I AM NORMAL. I AM BEAUTIFUL. How about those people who fling the F word around as if it’s a status that they only have when they are feeling down about themselves or actually want to eat more than a salad? I hate when my friends will say “Oh, I’m feeling so fat

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today!” or “I’m having a fat girl moment!” and I’m standing right THERE, looking at my size 6 friend and thinking “Did she really just say that in front of me?” It makes me wonder what she really thinks about me or says about me when I am not within earshot. When I brought this topic up with one of my friends, her response was that it is not personal and that she is just talking about herself. So why am I getting offended? Excuse me? That does not change how she feels about that word and how she is using it as a negative description. I mean, what is a “fat girl moment” anyway? ::insert side eye here:: By making those statements, you are stereotyping all overweight women as those who overeat, are lazy and are basically not attractive. What about those women who eat healthy but are still large-bodied? I told her that to me, it just shows a lack of respect and consideration to me as a friend because keeping it real, someone who is a size 6 does not know my plight as a size 26. And for the record, I am a very active person and do not spend my days, sitting on the couch with a bucket of fried chicken in one hand and a carton of ice cream in the other. Yes, I am a little pissed off about this and rightfully so. I realize that with this particular person, her own self-esteem is lacking and when she looks in the mirror, she will always see herself as “fat”, even though the world does not see her in that way. She is one of those people who grew up thin and then gained weight after her first pregnancy. The older we get, the harder it is to lose weight. And in her case, her self-esteem suffered because she has yet to regain that body she had pre-pregnancy in her 20’s. But still, just because you are loathing yourself, does not give you the right to act this way. When I look in the mirror, I see someone who, yes, is carrying extra weight, but I also see a beautiful woman who has great curves, a nice booty and set of breasts thankyouVisit

THE F WORD…by Marcy Cruz (continued) verymuch, as well as so many other amazing qualities. You will see what you allow yourself to see. A word does not define who I am or what I see. I understand that the meaning of plus size has changed dramatically since the 80’s and 90’s, where anything above a size 14/16 was considered plus size. Now you have women who are a size 6, 8 and above that are considered plus size in the fashion world. It has become more accepted, almost mainstream to be curvy or carry some extra pounds because of that thought shift. I guess it’s a blessing that society is becoming more accepting of curvy bodies that are not “perfect”. But, to me, it is a curse for girls like myself who surpass the “teen” size bracket and are in the 20’s size bracket. Now that women under a size 10 are being called plus size, where does that leave us? Are we now super plus size? Super-sized? Or are we…dare I say it? That dreaded word that people love to so easily use: FAT. It just seems to me that the words FAT and PLUS SIZE are not used in the same connotation anymore. To me, it means the same but in society with the thought shift in sizing and what is plus size, there is now a vast difference between what we thought was plus size and what is currently plus size. Honestly, when I look at a size 10 plus size model, I don’t consider her plus size. I don’t see myself in her. She can still shop in mainstream stores and I doubt she gets bombarded with the F word too much. But that’s just me – I could be wrong. All I know is that the F word is such a harsh word for me. I guess that comes from how I have heard it throughout my life. So I can understand when I hear my fellow sisters saying they want to reclaim the word and use in it a positive fashion. But to me, the meaning behind the word then becomes blurry because at the end of the day, it’s a description. It does not define you as Visit

a person. It’s not the same as race or ethnicity. You can be “fat” today and thinner tomorrow. Fat can be shed or gained. But some people tend to use it as a defining label when really it says nothing about who that person is. I’m not a fat person. I am a person. Period. That is what I see when I look in the mirror. I don’t see a fat person. I see a beautiful person. Now don’t get me wrong, I admire my fellow sisters out there who fight tirelessly to reclaim the F word and are so passionate in their stance that everyone should be accepted equally. Kudos to all the activists and size acceptance people who embrace the word and want to use it in a positive way! I love how some use the word as a way of giving the middle finger to all those people who discriminate against us. YEAH! It is true that the best way to rid a word of its negative power is to reclaim in a positive fashion. It’s as if you are beating the other person to the punch by saying it first. Most of the time, once you acknowledge the F word, the other person has nothing else to say. I get that, as someone who has been called a “fat bitch” many times. This is the only insult that seems to come to people’s minds when they want to get confrontational with an overweight person because they know the potential of the negative power that the F word holds. But if you say “Yes, I am fat and I can be a bitch”, you then strip that person of the power they thought they had when wielding that word around like a weapon against you. But for me, aside from that type of situation, I don’t feel passionate about reclaiming the F word and using it as a positive label for myself. In my opinion, labels are what got us in this situation to begin with. I realize that labels will never go away but I’m not going to reinforce the F word as a label for myself when that’s not who I am; the F word is all about aesthetics and that right there can be damaging to some women in regards to their self-esteem because the focus

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THE F WORD…by Marcy Cruz (continued) is on their weight and how their weight determines their beauty instead of who they are as a person. Many women have been driven to eating disorders because of this focus. The negative mention of the F word towards any woman gives the idiotic impression that being fat equals being unattractive.

ent shapes and sizes. There is no one perfect body even though the media would like us to think there is. In a world where pictures are retouched and many celebrities are obsessed with plastic surgery, the media wants to sell the public an illusion of something that does not exist.

Some may say that my reluctance to reclaim the word is me not having self-esteem. Not true. I recognize that the F word is a subjective word and is what I make it to be. But it is my preference to not define myself as such. If I have to define myself, I’d rather do so without using that word because it does not tell my story or who I am. It just tells a number on the scale, a size in a store, the size of my hips…it doesn’t say I am a smart woman with a great personality, pretty smile and kind heart. Now that’s a description to take to the bank!

You never know someone else’s story until you walk in their shoes. So we should stop focusing on trying to mimic someone else and embrace who WE are. Embrace our individuality and love ourselves. There is always room for improvement but let’s not use what we see in the media as an example of who we should look like. Look in the mirror – you are already you and there’s only one you in the world. Embrace that and if you want to lose weight, okay, do it. But know that your experiences and stories are yours and yours only. You will never be someone else. You will always be you, no matter what. So why not love yourself as much as you can and appreciate who you are and what you bring to the world instead of loathing yourself because of a label imposed on you by society?

At the end of the day, the F word is just that, a word. While to some people, it is a statement of fact and a way of being honest about someone’s size or their own size, it is a word that is highly overused and has had negative effects. I think if you are confident and comfortable in your own skin, no matter how much extra weight you’re carrying, you don’t need the F word in your life as a label. While we cannot control what others say or believe, we can control how their words and beliefs affect us. So instead of reclaiming and using the F word as a positive label, I say walk with your head up high and just be happy to be you. Because, think about it, when you strip away that F word as a label when describing yourself, what else is left? That is what counts. I also think we need to educate the masses more on what a “fat” person actually is. We have to show the world that we are not what the label suggests nor are we all a mirror of that stereotype. We come in all shapes and sizes and regardless of weight loss, we still remain in differp.42 | Belle-Noir Magazine, March/April 2012 MAGAZINE |

Attitude is everything! A label is not. Believe in yourself and your beauty. And everything else will fall into place. You will also be prepared the next time you hear the F word…it’s amazing how once you have the right attitude, a word holds no weight in your world at all. As for that F word, since words have power and change definition as I wrote above, I think I am going to use this definition on when someone throws that word in my face in a negative fashion: #18 (yes, the damn word has 20 definitions) - the richest or best part of anything. I am the richest person I know because I don’t need to belittle someone or discriminate against anyone to make myself feel better. That’s the difference between us and them. And that, my readers, is the best part of anything.



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