Celebrating Valentine’s Day – Brooklyn Style

Dear Readers,

In a few hours we will celebrate Valentine’s Day 2016. I must admit that everyday is cause for celebration, but I enjoy the special feeling associated with this day.

For me, Valentine’s Day is not complete until I have a slice of my favorite chocolate cake, chocolate truffles and a glass of champagne. The good news is Brooklyn has many outstanding bakeries and chocolate shops to make any day special. Today I am sharing a few of my favorite desserts and where you may purchase them. I’ve also included some champagne suggestions for good measure.


Baked
359 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, New York – Red Hook
Hours: Weekdays 7:00 am – 7:00 pm
Weekends 8:00 am – 8:00 pm
Website: Please click here.

The Chocolate Room
51 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY – Near the Barclay Center
269 Court Street, Brooklyn, New York – Cobble Hill
Hours: Sun. – Thurs. 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Fri. – Sat. 11:00 am – 12:00 am
Website: Please click here.

Juniors Restaurant and Bakery
368 Flatbush Avenue Ext., Brooklyn, NY
Hours: Sun. – Thurs. 6:30 am – 12:00 am
Fri. – Sat. 6:30 am – 1:00 am
Website: Please click here.

Jacques Torres Chocolates
66 Water Street, Brooklyn, New York – DUMBO
Hours: Mon. – Sat. 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sun. 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Website: Please click here.

Nunu Chocolates
529 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
Hours: Mon. – Fri. 7:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sat – Sun. 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
Website: Please click here.

Whether you spend the day with a loved one or solo, at home or in one of Brooklyn’s  many trendy restaurants, remember to celebrate the most important person of all – you!

Fondly,
Monique

A Salute to Elegance – Mrs. Eunice Johnson & Ebony Fashion Fair

Eunice Johnson, 1991, Ebony Fashion Fair via Ebony.com

Eunice Johnson, 1991, Ebony Fashion Fair via Ebony.com

Dear Readers,

I am pleased to join my friends and colleagues in honoring Black History Month. While everyday is a great moment in history, I must acknowledge our longstanding struggle for equality and justice against enormous odds. For every accomplishment there are several stories to tell and we are obligated to continue to write the narrative.

Today I am proud to salute Mrs. Eunice W. Johnson, creator of Ebony Fashion Fair, a highly celebrated fashion extravaganza that traveled to nearly 200 cities each year. This eagerly anticipated show featured haute couture and ready-to-wear fashion for a mostly African-American audience throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

Ebony Fashion Fair Ad via Flickr 1958

Ebony Fashion Fair Ad via Flickr

Ebony Fashion Fair started in 1958 when Mrs. Johnson responded to a friend’s request to raise money for a hospital in New Orleans.  For the next fifty years Ebony Fashion Fair would become an iconic fashion show that also served as a major fundraiser for the United Negro College Fund, several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), sickle-cell research and hospitals. Mrs. Johnson exposed audiences to the latest designs from major fashion houses including: Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Pierre Cardin, Valentino and Emanuel Ungaro.

Eunice Johnson, Yves Saint Laurent 1972 Johnson Publishing Co.

Eunice Johnson, Yves Saint Laurent 1972 Johnson Publishing Co.

Mrs. Johnson also used Ebony Fashion Fair as a platform to introduce emerging Black designers including: Lenora Levon, Quinton de’ Alexander, L’Amour, Patrick Kelly and Steven Burrows. African-American models Pat Cleveland, Judy Pace and Terri Springer were also featured in the show.

Ebony Fashion Fair, Pat Cleveland in Valentino - via splendidhabitat.com

Ebony Fashion Fair, Pat Cleveland in Valentino – via splendidhabitat.com

Ebony Fashion Fair Itinerary, Ebony Magazine, Tias.com

Ebony Fashion Fair Itinerary, Ebony Magazine, Tias.com

As a girl, I remember attending Ebony Fashion Fair at the Hilton New York Hotel (then the New York Hilton Hotel & Towers) and the Savannah Civic Center. I loved to see the models strut down the runway in their fabulous outfits. When I attended Audrey Smaltz was the commentator and she ran each show with great style and precision. For me, the highpoint of the evening was the wedding scene. Once I saw the bride walk down the runway in her trendy gown I was ecstatic.

Ebony Fashion Fair, Bob Mackie Wedding Gown, splendidhabitat.com

Ebony Fashion Fair, Bob Mackie Wedding Gown, via splendidhabitat.com

Ebony Fashion Fair - Guardianlv.com

Ebony Fashion Fair – Guardianlv.com

Ebony Fashion Fair - Museum of Design Atlanta - via splendidhabitat.com

Ebony Fashion Fair – Museum of Design Atlanta – via splendidhabitat.com

Mrs. Johnson died on January 3, 2010 in Chicago at the age of 93 years old. She was among the first business owners to create and market a line of cosmetics for women of color.  I still remember purchasing my first foundation from Fashion Fair Cosmetics.  When I opened the pretty pink case, I knew that I was on my way to becoming an adult.

Fashion Fair Cosmetics, Aretha Franklin, 55Secretstreettypepad.com

Fashion Fair Cosmetics, Aretha Franklin, 55Secretstreettypepad.com

In 2013, the Chicago History Museum curated a special exhibition, Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, as a tribute to Mrs. Johnson’s life and accomplishments. Presently, the exhibition is on view at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester now through April 24, 2016. For further information, please access this link to the exhibition.

Ebony Fashion Fair exhibit via chicagohistorymuseum.org

Ebony Fashion Fair exhibit via chicagohistorymuseum.org

Brooklyn Legends is pleased to join the world in saluting Mrs. Eunice W. Johnson for breaking down barriers and creating opportunities in the fashion and cosmetics industry.

Fondly,
Monique

Credits:
New York Times – January 9, 2010 article by Dennis Hevesi
Huffington Post – May 29, 2012 article by Julee Wilson, Senior Fashion Editor
Ebony.com – Additional information regarding Mrs. Johnson and Ebony Fashion Fair

 

 

 

 

Commemorating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Letters of Support

Dr. King in his study, Atlanta GA

Dr. King in his study at home in Atlanta, GA

Dear Readers,

Brooklyn Legends is proud to commemorate the life and accomplishments of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Dr. King was born on January 15, 1929 at his family home in Atlanta, Georgia.  This year he would celebrate his 87th birthday.

From December 1955 until April 4, 1968, Dr. King was the leader of America’s Civil Rights Movement. By all accounts this was among the most tumultuous periods in our history. Yet despite the many acts of hatred and violence,  Dr. King remained steadfast in his commitment to lead a non-violent campaign. He received support from men and women worldwide.

Here in the United States, there were many who stood with Dr. King and the architects of the Civil Rights Movement. These men and women gave their time, legal and professional services and money. They would join thousands of African-Americans in this fight for equal rights. While today many challenges persist, we cannot deny the progress that was achieved. These life-changing events have shaped my life and my ancestors.

As I was preparing for this post, I spent some time looking through the archives on The King Center’s website. In addition to extensive historical information, there are many photos, letters and telegrams for visitors to see. All information has been digitally preserved through the generosity of JP Morgan Chase. Today I would like to share few letters sent to Dr. King from children thought the world. I have also included a few condolence letters sent to Mrs. King shortly after Dr. King was assassinated.  When you have a moment, I encourage you to visit the site which can be found by following this link.

Fondly,
Monique

A student sends greetings on Mahatma Ghandi's birthday

A student in India sends greetings on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday

Students in France requesting an interview of Dr. King

Students in France requesting an interview of Dr. King

A student in Chicago requests information about Dr. King's Church

A student in Chicago requests information about Dr. King’s Church

A student who wants to be a Pediatrician references Dr. King's book "Strength to Love"

A student who wants to be a Pediatrician references Dr. King’s book “Strength to Love”

Via Bauman Rare Books

Via Bauman Rare Books – referenced in Gregory William’s letter to Dr. King.

Letter sent to Mrs. King after Dr. King was killed.

Letter sent to Mrs. King after Dr. King was killed.

Sent to Mrs. King from a student in NYC after Dr. King was killed.

Sent to Mrs. King from a student in NYC after Dr. King was killed.

Sent to Mrs. King from PS 32 in NYC after Dr. King was killed

Sent to Mrs. King from PS 32 in NYC after Dr. King was killed

Sent to the SCLC in Dr. King's honor with a donation from a high school in Beverly Hills, CA.

Sent to the SCLC in Dr. King’s honor with a donation from a high school in Beverly Hills, CA.

Credits:
All information obtained from The King Center’s website – Thekingcenter.org.

Celebrate the New Year in Good Taste

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Dear Readers,

I recently received a request regarding my Pinterest Board. Yes, I am pleased to say that Brooklyn Legends is a member of the Pinterest family. When you have a moment, come and see what we’ve been up to.

Until then, I’m sending good wishes, and a bit of inspiration, for your New Year’s Celebration.

Monique

Looking Back & Leaping Forward with Mahalia Jackson

Video

Dear Readers,

I can remember hearing this song as I child but I admit that I did not fully understand why the elders loved it so. Well, 50+ years later, and with the many challenges that every person I know has so fearlessly overcome, I understand. Here is our dear Mahalia Jackson singing “How I Got Over.”

Monique

Commemorating A New Year’s Tradition – Watch Night Service

Dear Readers,

Watch Night, Dec. 31, 1862 - the Clayton Museum

Watch Night, Dec. 31, 1862 – the Clayton Museum

Soon we will bid adieu to 2015 and welcome 2016.  This year has been filled with many highs, but there have been some sad days too. Dear friends who started this journey with me have since made their transitions. I firmly believe they will always be with us as long as we love and honor them.

Each year on New Year’s Eve, I share this post commemorating Watch Night, a tradition that is deeply rooted in the history of people of African descent throughout the United States, in memory of my grandparents and the many elders who helped raise me.

As a child growing up in Savannah, Georgia, I remember my grandparents would make their way to church every New Year’s Eve.  This was a solemn time for them.  Looking back on those days, I also remember how their voice would change as they recounted the painful stories their parents and grandparents shared.  I would also grow to appreciate how they were able to quiet their spirits whenever they heard the song “How I Got Over”.  When I look at my life, I have so much to be thankful for.  There has never been a day when I have not said I’m grateful!

The summary below is reprinted from the African-American Registry.  This site is a wonderful resource for African-American history and culture.  I am including the link to the site for your reference.

Date: Wed, 1862-12-31*
* On this date in 1862 the first Watch Night Services were celebrated in Black communities in America.

The Watch Night service can be traced back to gatherings also known as “Freedom’s Eve.”  On that night, Black slaves and free Blacks came together in churches and private homes all across the nation awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation actually had become law.  At the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863; all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free.  When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as many people fell to their knees and thanked God.

The article goes on to explain that Blacks have gathered in churches annually on New Year’s Eve ever since, praising God for bringing us safely through another year.  It’s been over a century since the first Freedom’s Eve and tradition still brings us together at this time every year to celebrate “how we got over.”  This celebration takes many African-American descendants of slaves into a New Year with praise and worship.  The service usually begins anywhere from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and ends at midnight with the entrance of the New Year.  Some people come to church first, before going out to celebrate, for others, church is the only New Year’s Eve event.

There have been instances where clergy in mainline denominations questioned the propriety of linking religious services with a secular holiday like New Year’s Eve. However, there is a reason for the importance of New Year’s Eve services in the black experience in America.

Wishing you peace and joy in 2016!

________________________________

Reference:
The African-American Desk Reference, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Copyright 1999 The Stonesong Press Inc The New York Public Library John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Publishing

Celebrating the New Year with Time-honored Traditions

HappyNewYear2016images.com

HappyNewYear2016images.com

Dear Readers,

In a few days, we will say goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016, and I am so excited.  2015 has been filled with moments of great challenge and promise.   At several points this year — due in large measure to extreme doses of grace and mercy — I have been able to “review, revamp and relaunch” many of the projects I have been working on.  I cannot wait to share them with you in 2016.

I would also like to take this time to say “thank you” for supporting me and Brooklyn Legends.  This has been a wonderful journey and this blog is only the beginning.  I value your commitment and encouragement.

Last year, USA Today published an article on the origins of some of the world’s most cherished New Year‘s traditions;  from the familiar to customs that may be unfamiliar.  In the spirit of the season, I am pleased to share this list with you again this year.

Celebrating in New York City’s Times Square

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Before the ball, there were fireworks. The first New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square in New York City was held in 1904, culminating in a fireworks show. When the city banned fireworks two years later, event organizers arranged to have a 700-pound iron and wood ball lowered down a pole, according to the Times Square website. In the years since, it’s become a tradition for Americans to watch the ball start dropping at 11:59 p.m. and to count down the final seconds before the new year begins.

 Auld Lang Syne

The song literally means “old long ago.” The work by 18th-century Scottish poet Robert Burns has endured the ages and spread beyond Scotland and throughout the English-speaking world. The song is about “the love and kindness of days gone by, but … it also gives us a sense of belonging and fellowship to take into the future,” according to Scotland.org, a website of the Scottish government.

Kissing at Midnight

Perhaps you’ll have a New Year’s Eve kiss that was the defining moment in a sweeping love story – similar to the kiss Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan shared in the 1989 movie When Harry Met Sally. Or maybe you’ll pucker up with the person who happens to be standing next to you because, well, that’s just what people do. But why? Not doing so will ensure a year of loneliness, according to tradition. The custom may date to ancient European times as a way to ward off evil spirits, the Montreal Gazette reports.

Black-eyed Peas

It’s a tradition to eat Hoppin’ John, a stew made of black-eyed peas, in the American South. “Many Southerners believed that the black-eyed peas symbolized coins and eating them insured economic prosperity for the coming year,” wrote Frederick Douglass Opie, a food historian, in his blog Food As A Lens.

Colorful Lingerie

In some Latin American countries, including Mexico and Brazil, it’s believed the color of your undergarments will influence what kind of year you’ll have. Tradition holds that yellow underwear will bring prosperity and success, red will bring love and romance, white will lead to peace and harmony and green will ensure health and well-being, according to Michael Kleinmann, editor of The Underwear Expert website.

12 Grapes

In Spain and some other Spanish-speaking countries, one New Year’s custom is to eat 12 grapes for 12 months of good luck. But here’s the catch: to bring about a year’s worth of good fortune, you must start eating the grapes when the clock strikes midnight, then eat one for each toll of the clock. The best strategy? “Just take a solid bite and then swallow, pips and all,” writes cookbook author Jeff Koehler on NPR’s blog.

Molten Lead

Instead of reading tea leaves to tell the future, some in Germany and Austria read the molten lead. Here’s how: Heat up some lead in a spoon. When it’s melted, pour the molten lead into cold water. The shape of the lead will tell you what’s ahead of you in the coming year (although the shapes are open to interpretation). If you don’t want to actually melt metal, there’s an app to do it for you.

Fireworks

It’s not surprising that China, the country that invented fireworks, also makes setting them off a central part of New Year’s celebrations. It’s believed the noise scares off evil spirits and misfortune. The Chinese observe the lunar New Year on February 19, 2015.

Polka dots

Many in the Philippines wear polka dots because the circle represents prosperity. Coins are kept in pockets and “are jangled to attract wealth,” according to Tagalog Lang, a website about Filipino language and culture.

On behalf of everyone at Brooklyn Legends, have a wonderful New Year!

Monique

___________________________________________

Credits:
This article was published by Jolie Lee, Dec. 26, 2013 – news10.net.
Time Square Images: Timessquarenyc.org, wikipedia.org, madamtussauds.com, babble.com
Auld Lang Syne: chivalry.com, en.wikibooks.org, grumpyvisualartist.blogspot.com, squirrelqueen2.blogspot.com
Black-eye Peas: New York Time, blog.appliancefactory.com, foodandspice.blogspot.com
Grapes: commons.wikimedia.org
Fireworks: blog.livingonhudson.com, nyhabitat.com, retenna.com

A New Year’s Toast

tumblr_mq0kweTclT1qcbtrfo1_1280

Venue Cliquet via elegant-classics.tumblr.com

Dear Readers,

Let the party begin!  Since we cannot celebrate in person, here are a few of my favorite things I would share if time and distance were not a problem.

For now, as we prepare to welcome 2016 I would like to offer this toast for a fabulous (and prosperous) year.

Fondly,
Monique

In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, but never in want.
Traditional Irish Toast

Brooklyn Legends Week in Review – My Magnificent 6

Dear Readers,

Time.com

Content.Time.com

Last month President Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 17 individuals “who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

I was delighted to see 6 women among this highly esteemed group and 2 are Brooklyn natives. For me it just doesn’t get any better.

It is truly an honor to salute:

Major Bonnie Carroll (Retired US Air Force), a public servant who has devoted her life to caring for our military and veterans.

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (posthumous), the first African-American woman elected to Congress, the first major-party African-American female candidate to make a bid for the U.S. presidency and Brooklyn resident.

Gloria Estefan, one of the first mainstream Hispanic artists to crossover between English and Spanish language music paving the way for countless other Latin artists to follow.

Katherine G. Johnson, a pioneer in American space history and a NASA mathematician whose computations have influenced every major space program from Mercury through the Shuttle program.

Senator Barbara Milkulski, who became the longest-serving female Senator in 2011 and the longest-serving woman in Congress and the first female Senator to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee in 2012.

Barbra Streisand world-famous singer, actor, director, producer and songwriter and one of the few performers to receive an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and a Tony.  Ms. Streisand was born in Brooklyn, NY.

Brooklyn Legends is pleased to join the world in saluting all of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, especially My Magnificent 6. To learn more about this year’s honorees, please follow this link.

Fondly,
Monique

———–

Credits:
The White House Briefing Room

Brooklyn Legends Serenity Sunday – Quiet Reflection

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Dear Readers,

Welcome to Brooklyn Legends Serenity Sunday. When seeking peace and tranquility, we can always retreat to the beauty of nature for quiet reflection and renewal.

Enjoy your day.

Fondly,
Monique