I haven’t written a post on any fashion related subject on this blog in I-don’t-know-how-long so it seemed fitting to do so with this……
No, it is not about an ultra chic homeless woman, quite the contrary; my trendy bag lady was homely and oh-so-chic!!
We met for the first time during a pilates class at a mutual friend’s gym. She was impossible to ignore; she made sounds akin to that of a beached whale in labour and was barely able to follow through on the exercises. She was positioned behind me and the whole time I kept wondering who this tortured soul was. After class, Oyinkan (later dubbed “Tweety” by both of us), the over energised gym owner/Pilates instructor, introduced us and much to my amazement she wasn’t whale-like in any way! She was a svelte pretty lady withย  a mega watt smile. I couldn’t contain myself so I asked, ” Why are you taking this class?” and she answered in pure innocence, “I need to keep my tum under control” I almost went berserk!! What tum? She might as well have told me to hurl myself at plastic surgeon for liposuction…..Anyway, that’s how I met Ijeoma and we fast became close friends. We soon discovered that we shared similar interests in food, music, life’s values and even attended the same church.

Ijeoma’s Mega watt smile.

We would plan lunches, walks, breakfast hangouts and the like every now and again and it was always such a delightful time. One thing stood out though, Ijeoma loved to dress up and dress up stylishly! It wasn’t vulgar or in your face but she possessed some of the most exquisite bags and shoes!! Her bags were simply divine. Very dernier cri. I remember this teal Yves Saint Laurent patent tote she had, oh my! Oh my! But what I loved about her was that these items did not define her, she was not at all consumed by these fashion items, she just wore them with an ease that belied their value.
One day, on June 15, 2009, we met up after work for quick chat and as I approached her she started squealing in delight. I was stunned to say the least because I couldn’t imagine that she was that happy to see me. She was pointing excitedly at my bag and made off to her car; it was all very confusing to say the least. Then she re-emerged and there it was, we had the EXACT bag! Hers was grey and mine was cream coloured. It was a Reiss bag which my dad had given me as gift a few days before. I could not believe it. I started squealing as well! I know it sounds silly but I felt like having the same bag as she did validated my sense of style.

Our Reiss “sister” Bags

We promptly took pictures of the sister bags (which we named – thankfully I cannot remember their names ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and I sent the picture to a friend, Lebari, who had gushed over my bag earlier. It was a bonding moment indeed.

My Email to Lebari announcing my latest discovery

Whoever said that lightning does not strike the same place twice , clearly knew nothing of my and Ijeoma’s shared affinity for all things pretty and shiny.
This time we were having a church organised ladies’ hangout at Tweety’s gym and since I arrived late, I missed Ijeoma who had made a quick appearance and rushed off to another engagement. So I sauntered in toting my latest prized possession; a Ted Baker bag.
Please allow me to explain how I happened upon this piece of deliciousness. My best friend and I were on vacation in the UK, Birmingham to be precise, and in our usual fashion we took the main mall there by storm (a topic for another post). The Bull Ring is not a mall for the faint hearted; it is huge and teeming with more shops than any human being should have to contend with. But you see, for Moji and I, it was just the perfect natural habitat for us. So we wove our way in and out of stores, leaving destruction in our wake, our respective bank accounts would testify to this and then we were in Selfridges. This is where it gets a little hazy for me, all I remember is staring across the shop floor at the Ted Baker section and seeing this glint of pink gold and black patent beckon to me. I stood transfixed as I took in the silhouette of this glistening temptress. Moji came over as I pointed wordlessly at this item that I KNEW I HAD to HAVE and I made my way over to the shop attendant who was ever so helpful as she allowed my caress the bag. She told me how it was part of the new collection and had just come on the shelf that morning. I knew in that moment that I was taking the bag home with me. She told me the cost which lifted my dreamy haze for a minute but I quickly reached into my wallet and paid for it regardless of the hefty dent it was inflicting on my finances…….
Back at the hangout, I got settled and stowed my bag safely away from the path of any dribbles or spills and then Tweety pops up and says, “You have to be kidding!”, “Ijeoma just left with the same bag but hers was green!” Then she adds in that high-pitched Tweety tone of hers, “Both of you are not serious!” I couldn’t believe it! Again?! What were the odds?! I racked my brain, I remember seeing the orange, beige and grey version of the bags in the shops but green? Only Ijeoma could manage that. So after our soiree I gave Ijeoma a ring and told her about our second happy fashion coincidence and she couldn’t believe it either! We agreed that a rendez-vous would be in order so that the bags could meet and acquaint themselves with each other.

Our Ted Baker “sister” Totes

We did meet up eventually and sure enough, we had the same bag, we were tickled pink to say the least. She relayed the tale of how as she rushed through Heathrow to catch her flight home, she went past the Ted Baker shop in the duty-free section and the bag caught her eye. She stopped, bought it and raced on to the plane. I understood her reaction and decision completely!!!
We shared many other memorable non-bag related moments…….but our bag moments were one of a kind.
Even though you are no longer here with us, you will always be cherished…..I miss you so much my dear friend……..Till we meet again……..Rest in peace. ….
NOTE: My friend Ijeoma was one of the hundreds of people killed by the ill fated Dana flight 992 of June 3, 2012; there were no survivors.
Just two days before she had called me to assure that she would come visit me and my baby (who had been born a few months earlier)……the visit never happened.
She was a truly beautiful human being and she left quite a legacy of love and kindness and of course wise counsel. What will you be remembered for?
Live. Love. Learn

So my entanglement with fruit based desserts didn’t end at mangoes; oh no! I went bananas; I literally went bananas!

Peanut butter and dark chocolate banana ice cream

It all started when I got invited to a girls’ Barbecue hangout and we had to bring a plate along. I was completely flummoxed as I wasn’t feeling “cheffy” nor did I wish to show up empty-handed. As I eyed the contents of my fridge and pantry, it struck me that I had a huge bunch of bananas which my mum had supplied (she rarely does things in small measures), cinnamon sticks from my forage in a spice souk in Dubai (many moons ago) and some self-raising flour, it just seemed natural to make banana fritters.

All set to make banana fritters

I was giddy with excitement at the prospect of making this treat; I love to eat them but had never attempted to make them. I set about grinding the cinnamon and sifting all the dry ingredients. Prepped and measured the eggs and milk, made the batter and was ready to commence frying. The first batch looked misshapen but I finally figured how to get less grotesque looking fritters. Before the cooled I dusted them with castor sugar and icing sugar and I must say, they were divine. They were warm, spicy, soft and oh so decadent. The tray of fritters was welcomed heartily at the hangout; the accompanying salad was firmly ignored.

Banana fritters with a dusting of sugar

My spirits bolstered, I proceeded to make banana fritters for the rest of the week which damn well nearly drove Femi bananas; in fact I don’t think he can bear to even look at the fruit now.
Undaunted, I found an amazing one-ingredient ice cream recipe as I wandered through Flipboard and I just “knew” that I was destined to make it. What was the one ingredient? I hear you ask…..Bananas of course!
There were five recipes to choose from but I opted to go with the peanut butter and dark chocolate options. The recipe was easy enough to follow and in no time I had peanut butter and dark chocolate flavoured banana ice cream.

Much to my amazement, Femi hated it! After I got over my mild mortification, I was secretly pleased because it left more for me. So I was two for two.

Dark chocolaty goodness

Undaunted and determined to bring him into the banana republic, I decided to incorporate a Vietnamese fried banana treat into a Sunday lunch menu. Typically this recipe is served as a dessert but I altered the ingredients of the batter to give it a more savoury slant; think fried plantain encased in savoury rice flour crust.

Savoury Vietnamese influenced fried bananas

And yet again, it was another failure to Femi’s banana assaulted palette. While I thought, “Interesting take on the fried plantain option”, he was thinking “I never want to see that on my plate again”.

It wasn’t all gloom and doom for my banana adventure; my son tasted mashed bananas for the first time and absolutely loved it!
In the end, it all got to my head; it really did. I made a snap decision to chop off my relaxed hair and go natural. In the spirit of all things natural, I found an organic banana and honey hair conditioning treatment on-line which was simple enough to put together. The only problem was, the banana bits got stuck in my hair despite several vigorous rinses. I ended up spending over an hour combing bits of banana out of my hair which was tedious to say the least.
I’d say that I conquered the banana, using it in every conceivable way, and am now pondering my next conquest ๐Ÿ™‚
When cooking with chopped or mashed raw bananas it helps to squeeze some lime or lemon juice over them so that it inhibits the natural discolouration of the fruit.