Reflections: 2012 in Review


Alas, ladies and gentlemen. 2013 is only a few nights away and at this moment I am reflecting on how much I have learned and grown this year.  I've had some hits, some misses, and made some moves in which I still await a verdict.  All in all, I can say that 2012 has been very good to me.  As a way of charting my progress and preparing myself for the upcoming year, I decided to do Rosetta Thurman's Annual Review (courtesy of Happy Black Woman).  It has been very helpful to me, so I would like to share my review with you guys in hopes that you will do this review for yourselves also.  I will warn you in advance-- it's a lengthy read so bear with me!

What I Want to Remember About 2012

What was the most valuable lesson you learned this year?  Spread love as much as you can and as often as you can.  I don't always have the means to give as much as I would like to financially, but as long as I'm breathing, I always have the ability to love. Being able to show love to another is such an underrated experience.  In turn, I don't know what I would do without the love I've received from my closest friends, family, and even complete strangers.  Love is what really keeps us alive.

What professional accomplishments (at work or in your business) were you most proud of this year? I am most proud that I now have a sponsor here! Stay tuned as I will share more about this next month.

What was your favorite family/friends moment from 2012?  My favorite family/friends moment from 2012 was definitely my grandfather's birthday party.  My grandfather is a warm, loving, wise, and highly respected man in the community and it warmed my heart to see so many people come out to celebrate his life.  The conversations, hugs, and pleasantries shared among family and friends combined with good eating and music made for an awesome day.  My grandma even smiled long enough to take pictures :)  It was a beautiful thing to know our family was able to come together and share love for my grandfather in a big way, as he is getting up in age.  And he was overwhelmed with joy!

What was the best book/blog/song/movie/restaurant/city/country/etc. you discovered this year?

Book:  the first that comes to mind is Farther Than I Meant To Go, Longer Than I Meant To Stay by Tiffany Warren. It's a book I read via the FWB Book Club.  I learned so much about being patient, waiting on the Lord, and consulting Him in all areas of my life from this read. 

Blog: I have fallen in love with Christa all because of her blog, Inspired by Beatrice Clay.  When I joined Bloggers Like Me, her blog is one of the first I came across.  Her words were so inspiring, her thoughts were so insightful, and her challenges always motivated me to do better. Please be sure to check out the blog and tell her I sent ya over there! 

Song: To ask me to choose one song for the year is like offering me one chip from an entire can of Sour Cream and Onion Pringles. This is a difficult task!  The ratchet side of me wants to say Cashin' Out by Cash Out because it has played a million times in my car this year lol.  And the romantic side of me wants to say Adorn by  Miguel for the same reason. But if I had to choose a theme song for the year I would have to say Stand Up by Jessie J.

Movie:  The Perks of Being a Wallflower was one of my favorite movies of the year. Note I did not say Avengers (mainly because I've raved about it so much this year already!). Please check it out if you haven't already. 



What I Want to Leave Behind As I Enter 2013

Which personal development area(s) did you make the LEAST progress on this year: health, finances, education, relationships, family, work and/or lifestyle?  I have made the least progress in my health goals this year.  I need to start going to the doctor more often.  The belief that I can concoct something at home that can make me feel brand new is not as true as I once thought.  I've never had high blood pressure before this year, so that is the first indicator that I need to take better care of my health.  I also need to take my physical fitness goals more seriously.  (Anyone in the area in need of a workout partner?  I am so serious!)

What promises (to yourself or others) did you break in 2012? In 2012, I vowed to spend more time with my friends and put more effort into making more connections. Needless to say, I didn't do as much of either as I would have liked.  I have a tendency to retreat to my own personal space when I'm going through things.  Instead of seeking comfort and solace from friends, I tend to push them away and keep to myself.  From now on (starting tonight and not waiting until 2013) I will make more of an effort to nurture my friendships, reach out to my friends, and be there for them when they need me.  I'm for real this time.  I will also step out of my comfort zone and try my hardest to meet new people in my area by attending more events and accepting more invitations.  

What arguments/gossip/hurtful comments, if any, did you participate in or make this year that you wish you could take back and/or apologize for? I haven't had any heated arguments with anyone that I can recall (as I tend to avoid conflict as much as possible), but I have had issues with individuals that took place back in 2011 that as of tonight have still been unresolved.  Sometimes, I wish the whole ordeal would have never taken place, but when I look back at everything I realize it was inevitable.  The only thing that bothers me about the situation is it has affected relationships with my family and it has affected by ability to trust others.  I wish I knew how to resolve it, but for now I don't.  

What opportunities, if any, did you miss out on in 2012 because of fear or procrastination? Fear has placed so many roadblocks in my life. So much so, that I may have to address that at another time in another way. This year it has prevented me from sharing my true feelings with others, taking chances, and making changes I know are necessary for my growth.  With God's help, I know I can move past the fear though. Keep me in your prayers, guys.



What I Want to Bring Into My Life in 2013

What do you deserve more of next year? What do you deserve less of next year? In 2013, I believe I deserve more love.  I will allow more love and happiness to pour into my life. I deserve less disappointment, dishonesty, and negativity.

What personal milestone(s) do you most want to reach this year in your relationships, health, family, finances, education and/or lifestyle?  This upcoming year, I wish to spend more quality time with my husband and children, visit the doctor and exercise more often, make better financial choices that will better benefit my children, add another skill set/diploma/certificate and degree to my resume', and spend more time connecting with others.

What professional accomplishments (at work or in your business) do you want to see for yourself this year? I would love to have a functioning work from home business, get started with my freelance MUA efforts, and to assist my daughter with her ambitions of starting a jewelry line.

What do you want to learn in 2013? I want to learn to sew!

What do you want to cross off of your bucket list in 2013? I want to cross visiting Las Vegas and meeting three of my blogger besties in my head off my bucket list in 2013.



What I Want My Life to Look Like in 2013

What part of your life do you want to pay more attention to in 2013?   I want to pay more attention to my family life in 2013.  Of course, I have professional and personal goals for myself, but I want to put more effort into building and strengthening my family. 

Who do you want to spend more time with in 2013? I want to spend more time with my friends in 2013.  I hate that my closest friends live so far away, as our time spent together is quite limited.  But I have no problem hopping on a plane so I can look in their faces more often this year!  I also have special people in my life that live less than an hour's drive from me that I hope to make more great memories with next year as well. 

Which activities, habits or behaviors, if any, do you want to stop doing in 2013 because they are no longer in alignment with your values?   As I mentioned before, I have a habit of retreating to self.  I spend more time alone than I probably should.  And this is something that has only started happening within the last two years.  I would love to be more social and less introverted, so I have to stop this behavior.

Which activities do you want to start and/or continue doing in 2013?  I want to spend more time enjoying my city this year.  I've been living here for a few years now, and have only recently started enjoying all that the city has to offer.  I also would like to visit other landmarks besides the beach.  Perhaps I could plan another trip to the mountains soon!  All in all, I want to see some new stuff!



Have you taken the time to reflect on all that has taken place, all you have accomplished, and things that didn't go as you liked in 2012?  

What to Wear: Winter Holiday Edition


Alas, the holidays are approaching. Many of us (probably everyone except me) have decorated our Christmas trees, adorned our living quarters with tinsel, and have decked the halls with boughs of holly.  The spirit of Christmas has began falling upon us.  And while we create those Christmas shopping lists and pull out those Christmas classic albums from our CD cases, many of us also begin to consider what we'll be wearing.  Just the thought of gathering with friends and loved ones has me scrolling my mental wardrobe notes, wondering what I have to wear that will express how excited I am to be celebrating the holiday season once more.  So in my excitement, I turned up my Boyz II Men Christmas tunes and created three cute outfit choices via Polyvore.  Check them out below:


Holiday Look 1
I created this look with heavy traveling and good eating in mind. My family and I do a bit of traveling during the holidays, in hopes to visit all parts our blended families. I wanted to still bring the glam factor with the shimmery Michael Kors sweater, yet feel comfortable. This is pulled off effortlessly with the jeans and Ash Bowie sneaker wedges (you guys know how much I love these!). The Kiss necklace adds a personal touch to accessorizing, while the gold studs and neutral Elliot Lucca satchel keep things simple. My look will more than likely lean towards something styled like this option.


Holiday Look 2
If I decide to step my game up just a little, this would be the look to go for. The sheer leopard print top and rider leggings are cute and trendy, but are paired with nude pumps and bag to give it a more chic look. If the shirt appears too short to be paired with leggings to you, the Vivienne Westwood knitted collar coat covers the curves nicely. And it just wouldn't be me if I didn't add some NARS lipstick and an O.P.I. manicure (with polishes from the James Bond Collection) to the mix. In this look I spy an item from my Christmas wishlist. Can you guess which item it is?

Holiday Look 3
Now with this look, I went all out. This is the option for the annual Christmas party or maybe even that New Year's Eve extravaganza you're planning to show up to fashionably late. Remember, you can't go wrong with leopard prints, tights, and plum lipstick! And again, I spy an item from my Christmas wishlist in this look. I bet you know which item it is by now!

WHAT WILL YOU BE WEARING THIS HOLIDAY?

My Updated Hair Care Regimen


I can't believe it's been almost a year since I've shared anything about my hair journey on the blog!  I looked in my hair journal this morning and saw that I've switched a few things up since my last share, so I decided to share an updated regimen.  Also I'm taking part in Traycee's 2013 KISS Boot Camp Challenge so making note of these changes on the blog helps me stay on task and remain accountable.  Check out the details below.

Daily: Moisturize and seal.  
Nightly, I moisturize my hair and seal it with oil. Then I wrap or pin my hair, covering it with a silk scarf.  2-3 times a week I do scalp massages, using a fusion of coconut oil, castor oil, and peppermint oil (which stimulates the scalp).

Moisturizers I Use:
Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship 
Elasta QP Olive Oil & Mango Butter Moisturizer (alternate with the above)
Wave Nouveau Moisturizing Lotion (during long stretches)

Various Oils I Use:
Castor Oil, Jamaican Black Castor Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Coconut Oil, Peppermint Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Jojoba Oil



Weekly: Washing/Co-Washing, Deep Conditioning
On Sunday, I clean my hair by co-washing (washing with conditioner) or shampooing with a moisturizing shampoo such as Nexxus Therappe.
On Wednesday, I clean my hair by co-washing again. After co-washing, I deep condition my hair, rinse, apply leave-in conditioner, moisturize and seal, and place in a protective style (usually a bun).
I always air-dry unless I’m away from home.

Conditioners Used for Co-Washing:
Hair One Hair Cleanser and Conditioner with Tea Tree Oil
Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Conditioner

Conditioners Used for Deep Conditioning:
Nexxus Humectress infused with Coconut Oil, Castor Oil and Peppermint Oil
Herbal Essences Hello Hydration infused with Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, and Peppermint Oil

Bi-Monthly: Hot Oil Treatment 
I do this more often in the Winter months, as my scalp and hair are more prone to dryness in the Winter.  This hot-oil treatment is usually a mix of Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil,  Castor Oil, and Peppermint Oil.  

Monthly: Clarifying Wash, and Protein Deep Conditioning
Once monthly, I do a clarifying wash with ORS Aloe Shampoo. I also deep condition with a light protein conditioner such as ORS Replenishing Conditioner infused with Castor Oil and Peppermint Oil. Afterwards, I apply leave-in conditioner, moisturize and seal, and place in a protective style.


4 x Annually: Relaxer and Protective Style
I relax by using Motions No-Lye Relaxer. Before applying neutralizer, I rinse relaxer from hair and apply a light protein to the hair such as Aphogee 2 Minute Reconstructor. This replenishes the protein I lost from the relaxing process. I let it stay on for 5 minutes, then continue with the neutralizing and deep conditioning process. Afterwards, I apply a leave-in conditioner, moisturize and seal, and place hair in a protective style.

Use as needed: Hair Spritzer
To keep my hair moisturized, especially during stretches, I spritz my hair with a mix of aloe vera juice, rosewater and vegetable glycerine.  It helps with detangling also.  Find out more about the mix here.


**My Hair Essentials**
silk scarf/bonnet (to protect my hair from moisture-stripping cotton)
plastic caps (for deep conditioning)
one a day women's multi-vitamin (self-explanatory)
biotin (growth aid I've been using on and off -but mostly on)
plastic applicator bottles and spray bottles (to apply products to hair)


**About My Hair**
Relaxed
Between Shoulder Length and Armpit Length
Type: 4A

**Protective Styling**
Sew-Ins
Half-Wigs
Buns

**Hair Goals**
Thicker, healthier hair
Middle Back Length (MBL)

What is your current hair care regimen? 

Three Ways to Wear Red Lips


When it comes to a polished, classic makeup look, there's nothing that compares to a bold red lip.  Red lips demand attention and add a silent sexiness to an otherwise average look.  And contrary to popular belief, a beautiful red lip can be achieved by every woman--women of ALL shades.  Whether you prefer to wear a moisturizing, creamy formula of lipstick, a high-shine gloss, or a retro matte lipstick, you too can rock a powerful red lippie.  Here are my three favorite ways to achieve a red puckered pout:


The Sultry, Satin Way  
To achieve this lip look, I used Avon Ultra Color Rich Lipstick in Berry Berry Nice which retails for $7 on the Avon website. This lipstick's formula is creamy and moisturizing, all while providing opaque color. This is what makes it the easiest and most versatile way to rock the red lip.

For other creamy red lipstick options, check out Cover Girl Lip Perfection Lipstick in Hot, Burn, or Flame (depending on which red suits you best) or Milani Color Perfect Lipstick in Red Label or Red Velvet.  Cover Girl and Milani Lipsticks can be purchased at Ulta Beauty and various drugstores.


venomous villains

The High-Shine Gloss Way 
With this look, I used MAC Lipglass in Wicked Ways from the Venomous Villains collection.  It retailed for $14.50 at the time of purchase and was a limited edition lip gloss. Choosing to rock your red lips in gloss form is a great way to try a red lip without committing to using a lipstick.  Lip gloss is more buildable, as  you can apply just a bit or slather on as much as you like to achieve the intensity of color that you desire.

For other red lip gloss options, check out NYX Round Lip Gloss in True Red or Revlon ColorBurst Lip Gloss in Fire. Both can be purchased at Ulta Beauty and various drugstores.



The Classic Matte Way 
Of the three ways to rock a fierce red lip, this one is my favorite.  The matte red lip just exudes retro glam.  And it just wouldn't be right if I didn't rock my darling favorite matte lippie, MAC Ruby Woo, to sell you on wearing red lipstick.  MAC Ruby Woo Lipstick retails for $15 on the MAC website and is one of MAC's bestsellers for obvious reasons.  Just wearing this lipstick makes me feel like a supermodel or a socialite or some other sexy beast, I tell ya!

For other matte red lipstick options, check out Wet n Wild Mega Last in Stoplight Red, Revlon Matte Lipstick in Really Red, or NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl. Wet n Wild and Revlon lipsticks can be purchased at various drugstores while the NARS lip pencil is available at Sephora and the NARS website.

Warning: Don't Forget the Liner
To keep these lip looks in their truest red form, I've lined my lips with Avon Ultra Luxury Lipliner in Wildberry.  If you would like to tone your red lip down, however, you could use a brown liner such as NYX Slim Lip Pencil in Expresso or Iman Perfect Lip Pencil in Espresso.  Just be sure to blend the lip liner in well with the lipstick!

ARE YOU A FAN OF RED LIPSTICK?
SHARE YOUR FAVORITES IN THE COMMENTS!

My Cups Runneth Over: A Love/Hate Story About Bras


According to this infomercial that I am currently watching,  about 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size.  I find that odd, especially since we all as women have to carry those things for a living.  Yep, these are our partners for life, yet so many of us have no clue how to make carrying the load easier for us--especially those of us with large chest areas.  Why is this?

I think for many of us, we weren't taught to fit ourselves for bras.  Personally speaking, my mom presented me with my first bra in the fifth grade (I believe it was like a -0 AA lol).  And only because I now know better, I will admit that I was rocking that same size until I started high school.  Let's just say those numbers had long expired and needed badly to be retired.  My mom started complaining about the fit and the spillage, so I took it upon myself to head over to Walmart with a friend and take a shot at figuring his whole bra thing out.  After playing the guessing game until I felt I had an accurate number, I rolled out of Wally World with several pairs of 36Cs, feeling quite accomplished.

Despite my greatest efforts I still had spillage, but I misread that for "cleavage" so for the most part my teen years were smooth sailing.  It wasn't until PE class that I felt awkward, causing me to double-up (wearing an 18-hour bra and sports bra) for support.  You would think that a teenage girl would be proud of being busty but I was not.  I wanted to play various sports, but after being teased for making too much movement in the chest area as I ran, I loathed doing any physical activities publicly.  Puberty sucked and my body was slowly trying to catch up with my bust size.




It wasn't until 2003, my freshman year of college, that I found my perfect bra.  During a trip to the mall with my dear friend Nic, she delicately told me I was wearing the wrong bra size.  She even urged me to get fitted in a department store.  I did just that and finally felt comfortable within the constraints of a bra.

Though that was several years and two children ago, I still find that to be a defining moment in my transition into womanhood.  Thanks to Nic, I get fitted often and make sure I purchase the best bras for my needs.

Here is a good video I found on YouTube on how to measure your bra size.  Check it out here:


DO YOU KNOW YOUR CORRECT BRA SIZE?


Repost from Archives: September 2011

MANIcure Mondays: Hulk Smash + Sparkle


Hey ladies! I'm beginning my weekly blogging yet again with my fabulous manicure.  I wanted to run back to my comfort zone of pretty pink and sparkles, but Sinful Colors Nail Polish in Savage has definitely done a number on my nails.   The blue stains from previous weeks have yet to be lifted from my nail bed, so I decided to go with a darker shade that I rarely wear.  Sometimes I look at my stash and think it's crazy that I have so many polishes, yet I always use the same five colors.  So this week, I decided to introduce you to my new best friend,  Sinful Colors Nail Polish in Irish Green aka Hulk Smash.  Since the color is such a true green, and my children say the color reminds them of the Hulk, I'm now calling this mani my Hulk Smash look :-)

And while I may have tried to venture outside of the box with the color, old habits die hard.  I was not able to get away from my love of sparkle.  So, yep.  You guessed it.  I'm still sticking to O.P.I.'s Servin' Up Sparkle like nobody's business.  You guys already know by now I'm smitten by my sparkles.


So what are your manicures looking like this week, ladies?  Tell me all about them in the comments!  

November Beauty Favorites

I know it has been a long time since I've shared a monthly beauty favorites post with you guys.  But as I was looking at my vanity and thinking of how much I've been grabbing for certain items lately, I decided to get back in the swing of things.  Here are the beauty products I've been giving the most play in November.  

fall beauty

November Collective Thrift Haul

Something I love more than shopping is shopping on a budget!  My love of thrift started many years ago, when my mother and I would spend hours upon hours in our local thrift and consignment shops for gems.  I would love finding one-of-a-kind pieces and challenging myself to style each piece with my own personal flair.  Much hasn't changed over the years, as you can still find me in my local shops, perusing the aisles, stripping down my layers in their centers, hoping the goodies I find fit well. And since I have yet to share any shopping chronicles with you guys, I decided this month would be a great time to start sharing hauls with you!

I prepare for each trip by making a list of possible things I hope to find while shopping.  It takes some of the guesswork out of the endless aisle browsing and it works for me, so that's how I tackle each store.  For the month of November, I was looking for solid color button-downs (preferably in fall colors) and blazers (which are ALWAYS on my list, as they are a wardrobe staple for me).

I tend to look for button-downs in thrift and consignment shops because, let's face it, they're pretty expensive in retail stores--especially for those with larger busts.  In this month's shopping, I was able to score five nice button-ups all for a little over $3 each.


Amazingly enough, the teal Perry Ellis and striped 1901 shirts still had tags on them!  And to think I got the same 1901 shirt listed here for $3, roughly 10% of what I would have paid for it in Nordstrom.  If you may be wondering, yes these are both technically men's shirts. I have a tendency to travel to the men's section when I can't find any button-ups for the ladies that fit. The pink, orange, and black printed blouse was definitely a wildcard for me, as I don't wear too many prints.  But it looked fun and since I was only paying $3 for it, I thought why not?  

I also scored four blazers for around $4 each.  And check out the cute animal print tie I got for $1!



This navy blue Lauren by Ralph Lauren blazer shown above also still had the tags on it.  I think it is my favorite piece of the month, as it can be paired with almost anything and fits perfectly!

I already have my list ready for next month. I'm hoping to find some great polka-dot pieces, stripes, sequins, and a few cardigans.

So have you been thrifting lately?  What did you buy?  
And how would you style any of the above pieces?

MANICure Mondays: With a Chance of Rain


Hello ladies!  I'm very excited about MANICure Monday this week because I am trying something new.  While browsing around on Facebook, I saw this black manicure via Tamelia Beauty Shop and fell in love with it.  I knew I had to try it for myself.


Being that I didn't have a black matte polish to truly bring this inspiration to life, I decided to use Sinful Colors nail polish in Savage again this week.  Besides, my nails were still slightly stained from using it last week anyways (remember I said the staining from Savage was a pain, right?).  So I used my Out The Door Super Fast Drying Top Coat to place small dots on the nails to mimic the look of raindrops on the nails.


Here's the finished look without flash.  
It doesn't even look like the same polish as last week does it?


So what are your manicures looking like this week, ladies?  Tell me all about them in the comments! 

Styled In Polka Dots

Vintage Flair

Would you wear this look?

My Current Beauty Wish List

Beautysets - My Current Beauty Wishlist

What's on your current beauty wish list?

Guest Post: Hit The Delete Button


The other day I was watching Joel Osteen on television and he was talking about deleting negative things people may say about us. A lot of times we accept negative criticism that people say to us like, “you're never going to amount to anything in life" or "you’re never going to be the person you think you are going to be when you grow up (doctor, lawyer, etc.).”  When people keep talking about us negatively and we listen, we start believing it. We start saying to ourselves, "I will never ever be able to do that." "I don’t have the capability to do that at my skill level." Now we’re so deep in our own negative thoughts that down the line we won't be able to accomplish the things God has called for us to do.

Instead of internalizing negative comments from others, we need to delete them. How, might you ask? By telling yourself just the opposite. Say to yourself, "I will be that [doctor or lawyer] when I grow up." "I do have the skills required to land the job I desire." Never give up when you’re trying to reach your goals. 

When people say "no," never give up and keep pushing towards that yes. I think about Abraham Lincoln, when he kept pushing towards his dreams. He never gave up despite the failures he kept running into. He would eventually accomplish his dream of becoming president. I bet when he was failing, people probably said, you need to stop embarrassing yourself and quit already. He never saw himself failing, just getting better until he reached perfection. That’s how we need to see it in our own eyes, that we’re not failing-- just getting better and better every day to get closer to our dreams. 

The key points from this message are:
  Don’t accept negative comments from others
  Don’t you start thinking negative about yourself
 Start deleting negative criticism and start thinking positive about yourself and dreams
 You’re not failing, you’re just getting better and better everyday

Even though it might be hard to put negative comments behind you, please try and just ask God to help you. I hate to see people throw away their dreams, based on what others say about them. Don’t allow them to have their victory.  Prove them wrong and ask God to guide you towards your dreams.

How do you combat negativity from others?


Guest Post Written by Shanay Worthy of

Tuesday's Tunes: Volume 5


Happy Tuesday, folks!  How are you all doing today?  I hope all is well with each and every one of you and I thank you kindly for dropping by my little piece of the blogosphere today.  Without further adieu, let's get into some of the music that's been oozing through my speakers today while I've cooked, cleaned, danced, laughed, and sorted laundry.  Here goes!






Be Thankful for What You Got by William Devaughn-  Now this is truly Cadillac riding music.  Though I don't have a great big Cadillac (lol)  I'm thankful for the many things I do have.  I love listening to this song, not only because it's a smooth tune, but because its message is so spot on.  Be Thankful for What You Got is a reminder to do just that, take the time to appreciate what you have been blessed with. There are many others who are praying for the things many of us spend too much time complaining about.  Just in time for the season of being thankful, William Devaughn will get plenty of plays around my way.

Gotta Man by Eve-  It doesn't take much for me to put a little E-V-E into rotation.  So when this song played on Pandora this afternoon I was standing up reminiscing and singing, "Gotta man that I think I'm gon' love forever, and forever we'll be together."  Something about this song reminds me of a simple kind of love.  You know the love when you're drawing hearts in the margins of notebooks with your name and someone temporarily special affixed in their middles?  That kind of love.  Gotta Man is the type of love song we could definitely appreciate coming from a self-proclaimed pit-bull-in-a-skirt that is still just as relevant today as it was years ago.

Poetic Justice by Kendrick Lamar featuring Drake-  I think this has been my favorite song since Kendrick Lamar dropped Good Kid M.A.A.D City a few weeks back. Not only is it sampling one of my favorite Janet Jackson (yes Ms. Jackson the one I adore) songs, it shares the same title of my favorite movie, Poetic Justice, starring her also. Now whether you analyze the title as paying homage to Janet, or see it literally meaning 'virtue is rewarded and vice is punished' is totally up to you.  Like many of us who write our feelings better than we vocalize them, Kendrick says that he can "never right his wrongs unless he writes them down for real." Poetic Justice is definitely served in this hip-hop slow jam as Kendrick Lamar and Drake tantalize and mesmerize us with their lyrical prowess.

Come to Me (Peace) by Mary J. Blige- Hearing this song this afternoon made me think of my cousin Tay.  We always have the most in-depth talks about life, love, relationships, and womanhood.  One day while riding to one of our favorite eateries, she was playing this song.  And boy was she feeling it!  She was singing it boldly and beautifully like she was feeling it in her bones.  See, that's what a Mary J. song will do to you! It will have you swimming or sinking deep in feelings you didn't even know you had!  As Mary and Tay continued on with their duet, I began listening to the lyrics and missing that love I was praying would find its way back to my heart also.  We were in that moment three women all begging to make peace with the same thing.  And before I knew it we were in tears.

It's So Hard by Big Pun-  I didn't know Big Pun personally nor am I aware of what he did in his personal life.  But I was saddened by his passing back in 2000.  I was surfing through YouTube today when I came across the video and just knew I had to add it to today's playlist.  I mean, everybody plus one were in this video, showing love and paying homage to the late great rapper Big Pun. It was so warm to see people coming together to celebrate a life.

What have you been listening to lately?  
What's that one song have on repeat these days?

Weekly MANICure: Featuring Sinful Colors in Savage


Hello ladies! I hope everyone is well and getting into the spirit of thanks!  In fact, I was hoping to do a more festive manicure this week for Thanksgiving.  I thought about using a beautiful cranberry shade and maybe set it off with some gold glitter or flecks similar to the nail look that Mimi was rocking here recently. But then I changed my mind.  The girly girl that is addicted to soft colors always wins in these types of battles.  I started missing those bright blues and soft lilacs of the spring and summer seasons, so I went on a hunt to the bottom of my storage units for those shades.  I came out with Sinful Colors Nail Polish in Savage, which is a teal matte formula, and Essie Nail Polish in Playdate, a lilac lacquer that is among my favorite polishes.  


Now the Sinful Colors Nail Polish in Savage is a pretty tricky polish. Yes, the color is beautiful and quite different from other polishes I own.  But the formula is matte, which I've only worked with twice, and it leaves your nails stained. I used it anyways, decided to leave only one nail matte on each hand, while using my trusty OPI Nail Polish in Servin' Up Sparkle to coat the others.  I even pulled out my dotting tool and nail art polishes to make a design on the accent nail.  Oh and guess what? I CUT MY NAILS!

This is everything I used:


So what are your manicures looking like this week, ladies?  Did you dress them up for the holidays?  Or did you choose colors according to your mood like I did?  Or maybe you didn't use any polish at all?  Either way, I want to hear all about it in the comments!

First Look: La Femme Custom Blush Palette


Don't you just love a girl that gives good blush?  I know I do!  And I had every intention of doing just that with these beautiful La Femme blushes as soon as I laid eyes on them!  For a while I was seeing beauty bloggers and vloggers rave about these blushes so I knew it would be a matter of time before I grabbed some for myself.  So after browsing around a few makeup websites a few months back, I landed on MakeUp Mania and scored big with these beauties!  

La Femme Blushes have such a wide range of shades, and for that I was most excited.  I was also impressed by the idea of creating my own custom color palette, choosing the blushes I wanted (rather than purchasing a generic set of colors I may or may not use) for a very reasonable price.  While the average blush usually retails anywhere from $5 to $20+ these were  roughly $3.50 each!


I received my order in no time.  The processing and shipping only took a couple of days, which was definitely a plus.  But what I was ultimately pleased with was the excellent quality of the product.  The size of the pans were much bigger than I expected for the price, meaning they would last me for quite some time.  Not to mention the colors are super pigmented. 

Check out the swatches ( I did with just one stroke) below. These swatches were taken without flash.




So far Dusty Rose, Terracotta, Golden Rose, and Golden Ruby are my favorite shades.  Framboesia and Magenta are the prettiest shades in the pan, but one must be careful to only use a tiny bit of these two as they are VERY pigmented.

Do you have any of these La Femme blushes?
What is your favorite shade of blush?

MANICure Monday Featuring Essie's Stylenomics


Remember the last manicure post I shared with you guys?  It was done with my beautiful beloved Bubblegum pink from e.l.f. cosmetics.  And to be quite frank with you, I'm in love with that tiny bottle of pretty pink heaven nail lacquer.  However, I did feel like it was time to start embracing other colors of polish. It's the fall/winter season and there are so many dark and jewel-toned hues to try out!  But I can never bring myself to abandon pink.  

This morning I decided to break out my bottle of Essie in Stylenomics that I received as a Klout perk a while back and fulfill my promise of wearing a dark and tragic shade of polish this time (and Mimi laughed when I said it, I know lol).  Interestingly enough, after applying the polish, it didn't seem dark and tragic at all.  This dark green shade was very rich and deep.  I love it!


It wouldn't be me if I didn't throw some glitter here and there so of course I accented my ring fingers with Sinful Colors polish in Nail Junkie.  What a fitting name for a nail junkie, right?  


And as I admired my nails, I immediately began going through pink polish withdrawal.  I was thinking that it would have been much cuter with a pink accent nail.  My mani needed a bit more oomph and I had no clue how to give it such... And then I thought back on that Louboutin inspired manicure I saw a couple of months back and I came up with the great idea to give this dark color some contrast.  I painted the underside of my nails with Sinful Colors in Soul Mate and absolutely loved it!


So what are your manicures looking like this week ladies?  Did you play it safe with familiar colors and acrylics or did you go bold this week?  Perhaps you decided to skip the polish altogether.  Either way, I would love to hear all about the details in the comments. Let me know!  

My Skin Care Products + Regimen (Updated)

aveeno mark

It's been a while since I've shared a skin care post with you guys, so I thought now would be a good time to give an update!  This is the current skin care regimen I'm following and have been following for several months now. Though the product line-up may seem pretty simple, it does a great job of keeping my skin in check.  I have combination skin, which causes my t-zone to be more oily in the warmer months and fairly dry in the winter months.  My biggest skin concerns are keeping my skin radiant and firm (yes, anti-aging concerns ALREADY) and correcting my acne-scarring and hyper-pigmentation   Through this regimen, I've been able to take care of these issues quite well.

The Products

  1. Ambi Complexion Cleansing Bar- This bar is boss at keeping my skin clear without being too drying.  It does not, I repeat, IT DOES NOT lighten your entire face. People sometimes see the Ambi name and assume such, but I use it to fade scarring.  
  2. Aveeno Smart Essentials Daily Detoxifying Scrub-  This scrub has skin brightening properties, which helps my dark spots fade quicker.  It sloughs off dead skin so gently, it can actually be used daily.
  3. mark. See Things Clearly Brightening Moisturizer- This moisturizer has radiance-boosting properties also.  Though very light in texture, it is chock-full of antioxidants such as lotus flower, that help keep the skin clear.
  4. Avon Anew Clinical Eye Lift- The Eye Lift Cream helps to decrease fine lines and puffiness around my eye area.
  5. Olay Professional Pro-X Brush- The Pro-X brush used in conjunction with my cleansing bar, gives me a deep cleansing for a fraction of the price of a Clarisonic.  This brush is very budget-friendly!
  6. mark. For Goodness Face Antioxidant Skin Moisturizing Lotion- This moisturizer doubles as a sunscreen, as it has an SPF of 30.  Its main ingredients are dark chocolate and blueberries, which are both antioxidants. 

The Regimen

Daily: I cleanse with Ambi Complexion Cleansing Bar using the Olay Professional Pro-X brush to cleanse deeply.  I then moisturize with mark. See Things Clearly Moisturizer or mark. For Goodness Face Moisturizing Lotion. I alternate between moisturizers when the seasons change, as For Goodness Face has an higher SPF which is better for summer months.
Nightly: I repeat the same cleansing and moisturizing routine in the above step.  Before moisturizing, however, I use a cotton ball to apply lemon juice to my scarring. I do this 2-3 nights weekly.  I follow up by using Avon Anew Clinical Eye Lift around the eye area to decrease fine lines and puffiness. 
Bi-weekly (Tuesdays and Thursdays): along with daily cleansing and moisturizing, I add an additional step to my routine by exfoliating with Aveeno Smart Essentials Daily Detoxifying Scrub. 
On Fridays I add an at-home steam facial to the regimen: I simply heat distilled water and rosewater, grab a towel, and bask my face into the steamy goodness (just not too close to the water)!  At times, I replace the rosewater with an essential oil, such as tea tree oil or peppermint oil. 

The Lifestyle

Doing these seven things consistently have definitely kept my skin in check, with little to no breakouts and acne scars fading into the abyss. Check them out:

1. Drinking more water- As someone who has been plagued with acne-prone skin and scarring since adolescence, I learned to eliminate sodas from my diet back in my teens.  Though I've always been keen on drinking water, I haven't always drank as much as I should.  According to a Daily Water Chart (that my friend Drea shared with me via fullspike.com), someone my size should have a daily water intake of at least 1/2 gallon.  So after seeing this, your girl definitely had to step it up!
2. Eating healthier foods that are good for my skin . It's amazing the difference your diet can make in your skin.  I'm telling you, whatever you're feeding yourself internally definitely shows on the outside.  Just adding superfoods like yogurt, salmon, spinach and green tea into my diet have improved my skin's clarity and radiance.  For more great foods for your skin, click here.
3. Changing my pillow case at least twice weekly- Planting your face on not-so clean linen nightly is a no-no.  This is self-explanatory.
4. Cleaning my satin hair scarf twice weekly- Yes, I religiously wear my scarf to bed.  I have to keep my moisturized tresses in place!  But if one doesn't routinely keep her scarves clean, the breakouts are soon to come.  To find out the easy, economical way I keep my scarves clean, click here for Youtuber jmarie's instructional video.
5. Keeping my cellphone clean or away from my face, if possible- We all know that cell phones can carry several germs from all of the handling.  The same goes for our hands.  That's why I keep my hand sanitizer on deck at all times and carry electronic cleansing wipes (like the ones you use to clean your computer and tablet screens) to keep my phone clean.
6. Wearing less makeup- Contrary to popular belief, I do not wear makeup everyday.  As a WAHM, it really does me no good to be all made up with no where to go EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.  But when I am out and about during the week, I've been wearing minimal makeup as you saw last week.  Not wearing a full face all the time definitely helps my pores breathe! Now the weekends are another story lol.
7. Pampering myself and eliminating stress- It has been said several times that stress is not good for the skin. Now I'm not sure of the scientific facts linking stress to breakouts, but I do know when I'm stressed, it shows on my face.  In my case, it may have lots to do with the fact that stress causes me to indulge in poor habits, such as eating junk food.   But when I pamper myself, by getting manicures and pedicures, enjoying a night on the town, or simply having quiet time alone in my home space with my music and candles, my overall health reaps the benefits. Skin included.

*One thing my skin care regimen currently lacks is a nightly serum.  I was using Avon Clinical Luminosity Pro Brightening Serum, but it's getting to be a bit too greasy for my taste.  So if anyone has any suggestions for an anti-aging serum with retinol, please let me know in the comments!*

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SKIN CARE PRODUCTS?

Guest Post: Being You While Doing You





You were made to be an individual. You were made to be you. It’s so much harder to try to fill someone else’s shoes than it is to walk in yours. How often have you found yourself trying to fit in and then ask yourself, “Who is that girl?”

These are tried and true methods for staying true to you in a world full of wannabes:

1.   Spit it out (tastefully).
Are you too afraid to speak up?  Have you found yourself stumbling because you are too embarrassed to tell the truth?  That's a clear sign you are not being true to yourself (or to those around you).  Identify at least one situation in which you have not said what you need to say.  Then, schedule a definitive time to address the issue or the person tastefully. Do not waste anyone’s time or energy pretending everything is A-OK when it is just the opposite.

2.  Express your style in your personal appearance.
It may seem vain, but coming from the right “place,” it is not.  Clothing is a language all its own.  What does your current style say about you?  Is that message being communicated to those in which you interact?  As I transition from one stage of life to another, I am redefining my personal style.  Out with the trendy college wear and in with a more office chic look.  Be creative enough to dress in a way that makes you feel good, even when your choices are restricted for professional reasons (i.e., office environment, uniform).

3.  Do the right thing.
There is nothing more authentic than walking out your morals and values for the world to see.  When your actions do not line up with your walk, then it is no surprise that your conscience kicks in waving a red flag.  Practice integrity and truth and you will have a sense of peace about your decisions and actions.

4.  It is okay to still be growing.
Most of the time, when we are uncomfortable in our own skin, it is because we are having growing pains gains. When you go with the flow and stop fighting growth then you will enjoy the process so much more.  

Think:
When are you most likely to not be yourself?  Are there consistent things you do that do not reflect your true self?  What holds you back from being your true self?

Act:
Be more authentic today.

For more from the lovely Karen, visit her site at www.yourstylistkaren.com

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