Hey there, happy Friday!
You might have noticed [or maybe not, ha!] that I didn’t ask the community for Friday Five categories this week since some of my time was ‘Muted’ to amplify Black voices. If you missed out on sending in any requests, please be sure to send them in for July. I did have some specific categories in mind, though, specifically surrounding the Black Lives Matter Movement, so I hope y’all don’t mind that I did my thing here. I have been talking to lots of y’all about small businesses to support and other Black-owned accounts you’ve been getting to know, so I’ve included that information below. And as John and I start looking for a place in London … slowly but surely … I’m touching on that as well.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
IG Accounts I’ve Enjoyed Engaging With Lately
As someone who is seriously missing travel at the moment, I came across Asiyami’s instagram account and immediately clicked follow. Her images are so stunning. I absolutely love her style and was intrigued to learn more about her as she refers to herself as a storyteller. I quickly understood what she meant when I watched her BARBADOS highlight. Being that me and John had gone last year, as well, I wanted to see where on the island she went and what her experience was like. Wow. The way she captured her trip and shared her thoughts was beautiful and so different than anyone else I follow. I also loved her partnership with & other stories. I really enjoy her perspective and the creativity she shares with her audience.
I wish I had come across Glo [short for Gloria] sooner but I am thankful to be following her now. Her posts over the last couple of weeks have really opened my eyes and helped me understand things that I’d wondered before but was too afraid to ask like ‘Is it rude to call people Black?”. In case you’re curious, here answer can be found HERE. Glo started blogging in 2013 with a primary focus on travel. Recently, she’s shared that she’s shifting a little bit to focus more on branding, coaching, business, and beyond. She provides a lot of useful content that entertains, educates and empowers. I hope you’ll consider giving her a follow!
I found Tabitha on Instagram just before Mother’s Day last month and was in a ball of tears when she shared this message. I was drawn in by her soothing, maternal voice and Southern drawl, which reminds me of my own Mom who has been gone for seven years now. I immediately hit the follow button after that and have since fallen in love with her messages. They are always so calming, encouraging and great reminders overall. Everyone needs Tab in their life! She never ceases to put a smile on my face.
Two weeks ago, I started following these four fabulous ladies based out of Houston, Texas and I am so better for it! They are so inspiring in how they dress but, more than that, in what they stand for. They strive to inspire, educate and encourage social change and committed to inclusion and diversity, something I think a lot of us are starting to realize we need to be committed to, as well! Shay, Nikki, Brandy and Meghan are so inspirational and I look forward to watching their journey unfold.
One of my favorite recent follows is this beauty, Onyi. She is based in Manchester, UK although originally from Nigeria. She moved to the UK to further her career as an accountant. On the side, she taught herself photography and fell completely in love with it. She decided to start a blog [here] not long after and currently shares fashion, lifestyle and travel content there and on Youtube. Can we just take a moment and take in how beautiful SHE IS as well as the aesthetic she’s created on her feed. I am obsessed! I’m looking forward to learning more about her.
Features We Are Looking for in a Place in London
I haven’t shared this publicly yet but we have decided to begin our search for a place in London. I’ll be sharing more on why [as we were originally intending on starting this search later this year] but, for now, I thought it’d be fun to share what it is we are looking for. I’ve never lived in such a big city before [aside from living there in 2016 for a short stint but I literally didn’t search for a place the way I am now] so the search has definitely opened my eyes and put some of my expectations in check, ha!
Before I begin, I thought I’d share a little bit about how it’s different in the UK to find a place to live. Since we live on the Surrey / Hampshire border, and thus quite a drive from London proper, so we have to utilize websites like Rightmove, Zoopla and PrimeLocation to see what is available. Because London is so big, you can’t just choose a real estate agent [called an estate agent] to help you pull results with your search criteria in a lot of different areas of the city. You have to search for the areas and find them all yourself OR, if you’re committed to a particular area … you can work with an estate agent to keep you up to date on the latest properties available for that area that suit your preferences. We are looking at all areas of West London [mostly outside of Zone 1] because of John’s job, although there are amazing places to live in East, as well. So, we have literally been looking eeevvverryyywheerreee! John has been super helpful because he knows London and the areas that might be worth looking at and ones that are known for being a little on the dodgy side. SO, anyway, here is what we are looking for, to name a few …
a garden for the boys
This is one of the non-negotiables on our list but, before I share more, I think it’s important I define what a ‘garden’ is in the UK. To us Americans, it’s essentially a backyard. That took a minute to get used to, if I’m honest. It still feels unnatural to say sometimes, ha! But, our new place absolutely must to have a garden. You’d think by selecting this in the filters would make searching easier but, estate agents love to include communal gardens and balcony patios as gardens so you still have quite a bit of filtering to do when you are looking through search results. It can be deflating when the place has everything else we want only to realize there are communal gardens or you have to go outside of the front door and around the side of the property to get into the backyard / garden. Ha! These are things we come across all the time. BUT … we have found some cute options and we can’t wait to be able to use it to enjoy meals outside, entertain friends or guests, and watch the boys have a little place they can do all their business and exploring in that is a little bigger than they had in Florida.
close to a tube station
I’ve said for a long time that I’d love to live in London for a couple of years and get it out of my system, preferably by a tube station as I am terrible with time and having one train option stresses me out. I love that tube comes every couple of minutes so if you’re running a few minutes later or if you’re running a few minutes early, you can still make it to your destination without completely missing whatever it is you’re heading in for – whether it be a meeting or an event. However, as we’ve been searching, I’ve also come to be a little more flexible because there are a lot of amazing areas that are just outside of the city and a quick 10 or 15 minute train ride into either Victoria, Paddington or Waterloo train stations. So, yeah, I’m trying to not be too set on this because I ultimately want to love where I live. This is such a strange year and who knows how long it will take for London to truly get its buzz back so I don’t want to be so set on being so central when I might not be going into central as much as I thought I would, if that makes sense. Being near a tube station is my preferred choice, though, as we’d ideally NOT want to live a little further out and then move again after a year. We’d like to find a place we love enough to be in for a couple of years.
We are looking in all areas in West London but I do think we’re looking a little more in Northwest London as John used to work in that sales region at work. We will see where we land, though.
at least 1000 square feet
So, space can be found in London but … you’ll have to pay a pretty penny for it. We have a set budget and are doing are darnedest to stick to it. There are some areas we’d love to live but we can only really afford 650 square feet for our budget. I’m not sure how big the flat we’re in now is but I’d say it’s around 600 square feet and I told John that, while it’s not bad at all, I do think I’d appreciate at least 1,000 square feet being that I work from home so much. I think it’d also be helpful for the boys to have a little more space to stretch their legs in, as well. I have found a 1200 sq ft place in an area I love within our budget but it was in April and we were far from ready to make an offer on anything. So, I know we can find places – it’s just a matter of being persistent in our search.
This is something that is on my personal list. After starting our search, I have come to find that a lot of flats are very standard and all look very similar. There’s nothing wrong with these flats but, when I really think about the space I’d like to be in over the next two years, a place with ‘character’ comes to mind. I’d love a bright open space that isn’t old and run down but has rustic or vintage features. It’s hard to find these, if I’m honest, so we’ll see how we go!
Small Businesses I’m Supporting This Summer
In an effort to appeal to both US and UK audiences, I chose businesses that really stood out to me over the last few weeks and that, even if I can’t buy from them RIGHT NOW, I will be strongly considering purchasing from them on my next visit to the States.
This is a London-based company that was created to bring ‘made in Africa’ garments to International markets, and beyond that, the core of the company is founded on social and environmental changes. The company believes in fair wages and creating employment [and making a difference] within the Ghanian community. They make vibrant and colorful garments that are beautifully designed and made of fabrics carefully selected in Ghanian markets. I am dying over this statement dress that’s a bit on the dressier side and would be amazing for a wedding in the future. You definitely wouldn’t be showing up in the same dress as another girl and I love that uniqueness. Here’s a knee-length option that has gorgeous shoulder details and a high neck. Again, love the unique curations here.
If you are a dress lover like myself, this is an amazing small US-based luxury fashion label that is eco-friendly and Black-owned. They pride themselves in their ethically handcrafted garments and I am obsessed with the babydoll dresses they offer their customers. Think I need to snag this floral organza dress and hope that I can wear it sometime soon! For all you NOLA girls, they have their flagship store there. P.S. They are having some major sales right now so I suggest heading their way if you like the vibe!
This jewelry company offers individually and ethically handmade pieces with fair-trade African gold and globally sourced conflict-free fine metals. The gold is sourced from small artisanal mines that support the well-being of their miners and contribute to fair wages, education, improved health care, and better living conditions for all of Africa. They create everyday jewelry and suggest handing it down to future generations so its ‘meaning of life can live on for generations to come’ which is such a beautiful nod. I especially love this piece.
This mama-founded small business stuck out to me for their aesthetically pleasing baby items, because as my friends tell me, this isn’t always the situation. While I don’t have a baby of my own, I have quite a few friends who are welcoming a baby very soon and can’t wait to send them something from Pretty Please Teethers. All of their pieces are handmade, functional, safe, and full of quality and love.
Talis Chains [@talis_chains]
This small business, based in the UK, sells chains you can attach to your sunglasses so as to not lose them and / or keep them in close reach. They kindly sent me their freshwater pearl chain and I am loving it! Being such a small brand, you can just DM them to order!
Quotes Resonating With Me At This Time
I think it goes without saying why this speaks to me right now. I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflecting and, when I feel low about the past, this encourages me that the changes I make today can make a positive change for the future.
“The victims of oppressions and injustice don’t need our spasms of passion, but our long obedience in the same direction.” Gary Haugen
My friend Brighton posted this the other day and I thought it was such a perfect reminder that the work can’t stop here. If you’re passionate about seeing a change happen for the men, women and children in the Black community, it’s important to keep moving in the same direction even when it’s no longer trending. It’s the only way to see positive change.
“The best decision I ever made was to promise myself that I would have all the conversations I didn’t want to have, because those are the ones that matter.
I decided to never hide my words because hiding them, hid me.
I decided that I was no longer a slave to my fears and the opinions of others.”
I found this quote on the @createthelove account, which is a great follow, and spoke to me because of what I shared above. Sometimes it’s hard for me to share my truth in fear of people not liking that truth.
How great are these words? They’re so sweet and what we all need to be encouraged to be right now. [credit @rainbowsalt]
“What is better: uncomfortable truths or comfortable lies? Every truth is a kindness, even if it makes others uncomfortable. And every untruth is an unkindness, even if it makes others comfortable.” Glennon Doyle
While I haven’t read Untamed yet, I read this quote on Instagram recently and was like ‘wow, I needed that’. As a peacemaker, it is so hard for me to tell the truth about what I think when I know it’ll make the other person or the large group of people I’m talking to uncomfortable. I lean on words like this to find courage and the strength to speak my truth.
Books On My Summer Reading List
I’ve started prioritizing reading again and I can’t tell y’all how much of a blessing it’s been. Especially with such a heavy year, it’s a nice escape or chance to educate myself away from the screen. I’ve started reading for 30 minutes or so before bed, all while leaving my phone turned off for the night, and I’ve also been falling asleep MUCH better. Since I’m breezing through books these days, I’d love to hear what y’all suggest, but here’s what’s on my Summer Reading List.
A sweet nod to my mom because Austen was her favorite writer of all time. I have a lot of classics to read, and this one is up first. I’ll be reading the annotated version here.
I freaking LOVE Glennon, anybody else?! If you don’t know her story, she’s been through addiction, sobriety, a failed married via her husband being unfaithful, motherhood, realizing she was in fact bisexual and marrying a woman, being married to a female Olympian, and so on. Basically, she’s been through a lot and has the most beautiful soul and message. In her newest book, she shares life stories all surrounding being untamed – and finding your true spirit. She’s not afraid to be completely candid and invites you to along the way. I can’t wait to read this one and do a bit of soul searching along the way!
While I wish I had read this book before the last two weeks transpired, I am excited to pick it up nonetheless. This book keeps coming up on books to read to support the end of systemic racism and it teaches White people how about what white supremacy is [I definitely thought it was something completely different!], our privilege, white fragility, and so on. It’s a workbook style book – where there is a focus topic and a few questions for you to work through at the end. It’s a book we should all read – no matter our stance on the Black Lives Matter movement – as it can help us understand what we can learn and unlearn in order to be better to members of the Black community.
I want to learn more about powerful and influential women in history. So, I picked this up to learn more about the life of Winston Churchill’s wife, Clementine, who was a very strong and formidable woman. Let me know if you have any book recommendations that fall in this category! I have ‘Becoming‘ by Michelle Obama already on my list. I’ve heard it’s amazing!
This is one more book that has come to my attention over the last two weeks and I’ll be diving into this later this Summer. The reviews are incredible and it’s part of Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club [which I tend to like books from]. It’s a memoir that’s said to be an ‘eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female that exposes how white America’s love affair with “diversity” so often falls short of its ideals.’
Alright friends, now that I shared my five of each category, I’d love to hear from you! Especially when it comes to what you’re reading, who you’re engaging with on social media, and any small businesses you’re choosing to support. Also, apologies for the lack of photos in this Friday Five. I’ve shared on Instagram how I’ve just not been feeling 100% and just getting this post out to you was a huge accomplishment. Hope to have more visuals for you guys in July’s Friday Five! Have a wonderful weekend! xo.