A few weeks ago I announced to you all that LoveBrownSugar would be taking a brief hiatus. In celebration of the blog’s 5 year anniversary, I decided to take some time off, reflect and enjoy the last few weeks of summer with my new bundle of joy who is growing so incredibly fast. What I didn’t expect was how eye-opening the experience would be. Just having time to “be” instead of “do” was such a huge shift for me. I’m always on a tight schedule with multiple deadlines and somewhere to be, someone to see, or something to do. Having time to reflect and brainstorm and discover this little thing called “spare time” really helped me develop a sense of gratitude about my life and the wonderful things in it, including my daughter.
I think what I discovered most of all during my summer hiatus is that the small things in life (cliche, I know) can really bring you immense joy. Here are three important lessons I learned:
1. You can be anywhere, whenever you want.
It’s as simple as that. Small bits of your favorite places on earth can really help bring you there, whenever you want. Personally, my favorite place to be is on a tropical beach. I spent alot of time during my hiatus in my backyard soaking up sun, lounging by the pool, breathing in the fresh air and sipping Crystal Light (even on hiatus I tried to watch my calories with NYFW right around the corner!)
Something as simple as a Pina Colada reminding you of your last tropical vacation, a Berry Lemonade reminding you of your childhood summers or a ray of sun can change your entire mood.
2. Small Triggers Are Powerful
You should take some time out each day to indulge in something that reminds you of your favorite place, your favorite person or an enjoyable point in time. Work can get stressful, the kids can be driving you crazy, you could be lonely or confused. Whatever is bringing you down, look for a mini escape in the form of a picture, a song, a mocktail or even a color. You’d be surprised at how powerful triggers like this can be.
3. It’s All In Your Mind
How you feel really has so much to do with how you think. Ever hear about those people who battle terminal illnesses and win because they determine within themselves in their minds that they’re going to beat the odds? I believe every bit of it. So I encourage each of you to take some time out of your day to indulge in and embrace your “happy”. Find a #tinywin in your life to get excited about. The mind is a powerful thing.
What gets you through the day? Share in the comments section!
This post is sponsored by Crystal Light. Opinions expressed herein are my own and not those of the company.
As we’re about to embark on another fall/winter season (deep sigh), I’ve already started to consider what steps I plan on taking to maximize my hair growth potential. I was going through my Natural Hair archives and stumbled on this old post about My Blowout Month back in 2012. Within it, I listed some important tips for growing out your natural hair. Many of these truths still hold true so I decided to dust off the list and add a new best practice to it. This upcoming Fall season, aside from experimenting with a few hair vitamins now that I’m no longer breastfeeding BabyBrownSugar, I plan on implementing these 4 tips for natural hair growth below.
1. Limit heat-styling.
It’s hard, yes. But you can do it! As someone who has been addicted on & off to the creamy crack, press & curls, and blowdrying, I know it’s a hard habit to beat. But letting your natural curls grow without applying heat is a great way to protect them from damage and breakage. Do a heat-free challenge for a few months and you’ll begin to notice a clear difference in your hair’s texture and strength. And there are TONS of cute styles to get into that don’t involve heat at all.
2. Do more protective styling.
Way back in 2012, I wrote a post for Carol’s Daughter Transitioning Movement site about this very principle. Protective styling isn’t just braids, weaves and wigs. Believe it or not, rocking a turban out one day is a protective style! Wearing your hair in a loose bun is another protective style. As long as your ends are being covered and shielded from the harsh elements, you’re protective styling. And more of it leads to less breakage and therefore more length retention.
RELATED: 5 Tips For Growing Long Healthy Natural Hair
3. Condition, condition, condition.
I live by my weekly deep conditioner. Whichever deep conditioner you choose, try to make sure it incorporates natural ingredients that will nourish your hair and scalp. You can also make DIY deep conditioners (there are tons of YouTube vids for this). Making sure your hair is properly conditioned is the best way to assure proper length retention.
4. Eat Right & Exercise
Sounds simple enough but you would be surprised how many people complain about lack of hair growth when they refuse to feed their bodies and keep hydrated! Your hair’s health really does start from within. The better you feel on the inside, the more lustrous your locks. So drink your 8 glasses a day and live an active lifestyle. Your curls will thank you.
What do YOU do to unlock your growth potential?
Happy Monday! I’m back from my Summer Hiatus and feeling so amped to finish out the summer and usher in the fall. I’m renewing the Monday Motivation series and hope that I can bring you guys just a small drop of positivity and love on Mondays.
One lesson I am learning more of each day is the importance of keeping positivity in your inner circle at all times. Life is tough and everyone has bad days. But if there are people in your life that constantly speak negatively, never have a nice or encouraging word to say, or whom lead you to believe that you can’t live up to your highest potential – get rid of them.
Negativity is like cancer. It spreads quickly and can eventually kill your hopes, dreams and aspirations. Surrounds yourself with positive people so your light keeps shining!
How do you stay positive during the week? Share your stories in the comments section – you could be helping someone else!
“You should start a blog.” I still remember hearing those words, crystal clear, from a coworker right after I graduated from college in 2009. LoveBrownSugar turned 5 years old in July. In July of 2009 I wrote my very first post and started this blog in hopes of expressing myself, voicing my opinion and creating my own platform because no one would give me one. I created it at first for myself. It was like my personal fashion and beauty diary. I wrote about what I liked, what I thought was important and what I wanted to see.
Eventually as the blog grew though, you guys became my community. As my readers, you’ve weighed in on my opinions and made me see things in a different light. And the blog became more about “us” and not just me. You put in requests for different things like seeing my face on the blog more often. So I did. In April 2010, I posted my very first outfit posts:
Posted April 2010
In November 2010 I started to share my hair journey with you from doing the big chop and onward. Since then I’ve taken you through product reviews, tutorials and more on my natural hair journey.
I’ve also often shared my successes and failures, including my taking the biggest leap I EVER have in my career by choosing to leave my job last year to work on my blog full time.
I even shared my pregnancy journey with you all! I made the announcement at last year’s anniversary party.
You guys have grown over the years from just being my readers to being my digital family. You’ve celebrated with me every year for my blog anniversary in 2011, in 2012 and in 2013. You prayed for me when I was in the hospital and baby girl was trying to make an early entrance , you’ve encouraged me when I was down, you’ve even put me onto new fashion and beauty faves. You, my readers, have provided so much to my life over the past five years and for that I have to say THANK YOU!
Now, going into my 5th year as a blogger, many of my priorities have changed. Now that I’m a mother, my little lady comes first. As we’re approaching the second half of her first summer in life, I’m planning to dedicate my time to enjoying it with her during this precious time in her life that is literally flying by. Cadence is already almost 6 months old and I feel like she was JUST born!
What I would sincerely hate is to look back at this time a few years from now and say “I wish I had spent more of my time with her when she was young.” Summer time is such a wonderful time to explore and spend time with your children and so I’m dedicating myself to being a mom who spends lots of quality time with my daughter before she’s old enough to decide that she doesn’t want to spend time with me (hehe).
With that said, I’ll be taking a brief summer hiatus from the blog over the next 3 weeks. The crazy thing about being a blogger is that although it can be incredibly rewarding, when you do it full time you never really get a “break”. You are always working. Day, night, weekends, even holidays. There is no break when it comes to lifestyle blogging. In fact, I never even had a real “maternity leave”. Up until the hour of delivery, I was tweeting and answering email! And less than 2 weeks post-partum, I was headed on a work trip. So for the first time ever in 5 years, LoveBrownSugar is going on a summer hiatus.
I’ll be focusing my time on documenting the rest of baby girl’s summer over at BabyBrownSugar.com and also on preparing some new and exciting new projects for LoveBrownSugar in the Fall. Sometimes the best way to innovate and get inspired is to take a small break, and come back with a bang. Think of it as my “Year of 4″ a la Beyoncé. Except it’s not a year, and I’m not a millionaire.
I know the natural inclination for a momentous occasion like the 5 Year Anniversary is to go all out. Turn down for what, right? Well, considering this July was only the beginning of my 5th year, we still have plenty of time to make the 5th year major. I love you all to bits and thank you so much for riding with me for 5 years. LoveBrownSugar wouldn’t be the same without you! I’ll see you guys back here on Monday, August 18th. Until then, keep up with my shenanigans on social media @LoveBrownSugar and @BabyBrownSugar on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for daily updates.
Leave a comment below telling me how long you’ve been following LoveBrownSugar.com and what your favorite post or memory of the site is. Can’t wait to read your responses!
Recently I was offered the opportunity to chat with the lovely and super talented Gabrielle Union. Yes, the Being Mary Jane protaganist herself. Not only am I obsessed with her sense of style but I think she has one of the prettiest faces in Hollywood. Her skin? Flawless! I met her once at an event at the Essence Magazine headquarters and she rubbed my baby bump (I was preggers with #babybrownsugar).
All I kept thinking was “Her skin is so dewy and amazing. Must Steal Gabrielle Union Skin Care Secrets!”
So when Neutrogena told me that they were partnering up with Gabrielle to host their Buy 1 +Donate 1 Program (which essentially means that Neutrogena will donate 1 sunscreen product to a family in need for every Neutrogena sunscreen product that YOU buy between May and July), I knew I had to pick her brain. I asked her everything from what’s in her beauty bag to which sunscreen product is her favorite.
Check out what she had to tell us:
Two products Gabrielle has in common with me as a fave – Neutrogena’s Beach Defense Sunscreen Stick (with SPF 50) AND the Oil-Free Acne Wash in Pink Grapefruit! That stuff will literally zap any all zits in a matter of days – I love it!
Support + Shop Neutrogena Sunscreen Products:
Which sunscreen products are your faves? Do you use sunscreen every day?
This post is sponsored by Neutrogena. All opinions expressed herein are my own and not those of the company.
There is no shortage of online beauty retailers. From tried & true stores with bricks & mortar locations like Sephora to smaller more specialized sites like DooBop, the websites that cater to beauty addicts like myself are endless. What I love, though, is that the internet makes it so easy to find a small niche of beauty lovers and cater to just them. Well, this week’s Sick Site spotlight – FoxyMango.com – does just that. A site that caters to women of color seeking affordable natural, organic, and safe-ingredient hair and skin care products, FoxyMango.com boasts fresh, body-happy goods from small independent retailers with amazing products. The owner Cheryl Rose had this to say about the creation of the site:
“The shop came from my own search for hair care products designed for textured hair, that also contained healthy and safe ingredients. There were little to no brands that met both of those needs that I was happy with from my local Target or even Whole Foods…so my husband and I decided to start one.”
If you’re that girl who likes to support small beauty businesses and also likes to be “that friend” who discovered “that product” first – this site is definitely for you. Also, if you’re an organic girl who likes to be green from the inside-out, this site for you too. The owner of FoxyMango explains:
“…there’s enough “junk” in the environment, in products, and on my meal plate, that I can’t control and that could be harmful to my health with collective and long-term exposure. Why add to the risk with items I can control, like personal care and beauty products?”
Foxy Mango does a great job of showcasing natural and organic brands with eye-catching products. I stumbled on this brand Orange Thyme while on the site that boasts scented soaps and lip balms that I can’t wait to try out. They look so pretty!
They have a carefully curated selection of hair products like Anita Grant organic clay deep conditioners and Soultanics detanglers.
Some skincare highlights on the site include this brand Acure which I first discovered on the site with reasonably priced organic skincare products. They have everything from facial scrubs and serums to Argan Oil Cleansing Towelettes. I’m kind of obsessed with skincare products so I spent a LONG time perusing the skincare section. It’s up to par, trust.
They also offer these super cute tote bags from Emily McDowell with hilarious saying on them.
Take a few minutes out of your busy day and browse around FoxyMango.com. You’re bound to find something that catches your eye!
LBS x FoxyMango DEAL (10% OFF)
If you guys are heading to FoxyMango.com use code LBS10 for an exclusive 10% OFF discount for LoveBrownSugar.com readers only towards any purchase on the site!
Now that I’ve decided where I’m headed on my dream getaway destination as well as my dream itinerary, now all I have to worry about is what to pack for Thailand! As part of the last post in my Dream Getaway series with the Capital One Venture Rewards Card I’ve decided to rundown a list of all my must-haves for the trip. I looked up the best times to travel to Thailand and it looks like my best bet, because I’m a beach bum and I want it to be hot, is to head there sometime between April and May. This is when Thai is the warmest and it’s the best time to hit the beach. Because I plan on going to multiple areas of Thailand and doing as much as I possibly can, I’m not planning to pack too much. I like to keep it light & right. With that in mind, here are the travel essentials I plan to bring to Thailand when I go.
Related: My Dream Travel Itinerary – Thailand
For Beach Excursions in Phuket:
I poked around Expedia’s “Things To Do” tab and found that if you plug in the city you’re headed to you can find exclusive excursions and activities for whatever city you’re visiting. So I then typed in “Phuket” and found this really cool beach excursion to “Snorkel and Sightsee on the Phi Phi Islands” which is exactly what I planned on doing while in Phuket. Using the Capital One Venture Rewards Card, you can book an excursion like this on your card and wipe it clean from your credit card statement with the right amount of rewards points. Capital One allows you two rewards points for every dollar spent – no blackout dates, which is perfect for booking an excursion like this. Here’s what I would pack for a beach excursion in Phuket:
- Convertible Maxi Dress (easy to take from day to night)
- Sarong (in a fun fabric that can double as a head wrap)
- Bathing Suit (cute enough for beachside pics and sturdy enough for snorkeling)
- Flip-Flops (these are a Thailand essential)
- Beach Bag (to store extra sunscreen, a waterproof camera and my floppy beach hat)
- Sunscreen (to protect my skin from sunburn)
- Wide-Brimmed Hat (to protect my head from the intense Thai sun)
Related: My Dream Getaway Destination
For Sightseeing in Bangkok:
So I plan to do a full-day excursion in Bangkok. On Expedia, there are really cool options for daytime excursions like this “Floating Market, Elephant Show and Rose Garden” Tour that literally allows me to knock out 2 of my top activities for Thailand – the floating market and seeing the elephants! With the Capital One Venture Card, you have the ultimate flexibility to book on any day and at any time you’d like. There are no blackout dates – win! Here are a few important things I plan to pack for sightseeing in Bangkok:
- Backpack (to keep my digital camera and some snacks handy)
- Flashlight (Thailand is prone to blackouts – just in case!)
- Digital Camera (to snap all of the fun memories)
- Denim Cutoffs (to keep cool and comfortable)
- Light Jacket (in case of rainfall, and for areas with intense A/C)
I know it probably doesn’t seem like a ton, but that’s exactly the way I like it. I plan to pack light and bring a BIG bag so I can do some shopping and bring back lots of souvenirs.
How would you pack for your dream getaway? Did I miss anything? Let me know!
This post is sponsored by Capital One. All opinions expressed herein are my own and not those of the company.
So a few weeks ago I did a post about my #FABFit challenge in which I made a promise to myself to do my best to eat healthier and cleaner, cut down on my calorie intake and start to work out. It wasn’t a “diet” or a “cleanse” or anything dramatic. Just me and some friends dedicating ourselves to doing better and making small changes in our lifestyles that would eventually lead to big results over time.
Well I’m proud to say that since starting my challenge to a healthier me, I’ve not only lost over 12 pounds but I’ve also gained a tremendous sense of awareness about how change REALLY takes place. It’s not about a crash diet or a crazy 6-week workout regimen, or even one particular “miracle” product. It’s about making healthier choices and decisions each day, no matter how small.
This is exactly why I was so excited to partner up with Crystal Light’s #TinyWin campaign. Cutting down on excessive calories is just one small piece of the puzzle towards being healthier. Crystal Light obviously helps with making the switch from high-calorie beverages by providing low or no-calorie options that are still delicious and make it easier for you to make the transition. Whether it’s mixing up a mocktail with one of their powdered mixes instead of a high-calorie cocktail or simply choosing to walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator at work in the morning, celebrating just one tiny win a day leads you to ultimately embracing a healthier you. So here are some of the GOOD habits I’ve picked up after my recent fitness challenge:
1. Drinking WAY more water.
One of the most important ways to live a healthier lifestyle is to drink more H20. As a building block of life, it’s the best way to hydrate yourself. I’ve never really had a problem with drinking water straight up without any flavoring or extra anything added to the mix. But I know so many people who need great taste in order to get their extra liters of water in for the day. Do what you need to! I’d suggest trying out Crystal Light’s Liquid on-the-go packs. They’re great for flavoring your water when you’re out and about and don’t have much time.
2. Exercising at LEAST twice a week.
So I started both Zumba and Kickboxing classes and I LOVE them. I’ve posted on my Instagram page before about my new love for my group exercise classes. I’ve found that working out in a group is best for me because I’m motivated around other people. It makes exercising easier for me.
3. Eating more GREEN.
Can I be real with y’all for a sec? I really don’t like vegetables. Yeah I said it. Eating more vegetables has been my biggest challenge and the only way I’ve been able to get more green into my life is with creative recipes and juicing. I’ve developed an affinity for green juices in the morning (and when I get a sweet tooth!) and I’ve also tried quite a few new salad and grilled veggie recipes that are now my staples. It’s not as difficult as you think. Once you being to experiment and find what works for you, the rest falls right into place.
So, what are some of YOU doing to keep yourself healthy despite the “lazy summer” draws of BBQ & beer every weekend. Share your #tinywin with the class and let’s motivate each other!
This post was sponsored by Crystal Light. Opinions expressed herein are my own and not those of the company.
Last Friday, I was honored to have the opportunity to attend the “On The Run” tour featuring Beyonce and Jay-Z here in the NY/NJ area with the lovely team at Carol’s Daughter. If you know me, you already know how HYPED I get about a Beyonce concert. Last year I saw the Mrs. Carter tour THREE times. Yes, I’m a crazed Bey fan and I’m totally not ashamed.
Anyway, I was picked up at my house around 6PM and we headed over to the Meadowlands as the concert was held at the MET Life Stadium.Of course I was a complete goofball and took selfies in the backseat. Don’t judge.
I had actually never been to the Met Life Stadium. It’s pretty amazing and was a great location for the concert.
For my concert look, I decided to opt for a sexy but tasteful red dress that I snagged on ASOS.com over a year ago. I haven’t been able to fit into it in forever! Thanks to my FABFit regimen I’m fitting into some of my old clothes again post-BabyBrownSugar. I also opted for some leopard print wedges. I love how leopard looks with red outfits, and these ASOS wedges are super comfortable – perfect for dancing!
Carol’s Daughter had a really dope suite facing the left side of the stage. The stadium is massive – this is only half of it.
The suite was of course filled with all my favorite CD goodies. On display was the Sacred Tiare collection (which I reviewed here), their Curl Milk collection and more.
One of my fave style bloggers Monroe Steele was there with Carol’s Daughter as well. She is such a sweetheart and she has such great style.
You guys should definitely check out her blog FashionSteele.
I also ran into two editors who were very influential in my career when I used to work for magazines. Shanel Odum, who’s currently the EIC of VIBE Vixen (she was editor-in-chief at Honey Magazine) and Deena Campbell, who’s currently the Hair & Beauty Editor at Essence.com (she was my coworker at UPTOWN Magazine). Love these two!
Once the concert got started I got to work twirling and twerking to Beyonce’s hits. Obvi, I know all the choreography. And I got equally turned up to Jay-Z’s set.
They did such a great job of merging both acts seamlessly. And they closed the concert hand in hand with a heart-melting reel of the two of them with their daughter Blue Ivy.
It was SO adorable and perfect. If the On The Run tour is coming to a city near you, you MUST go. Grab your besties and go. Seriously. The best part of the night (yes, EVEN better than seeing Beyonce perform live) was getting to hang out with Carol’s Daughter creator Lisa Price. It was really a complete full circle moment for me even being invited to the concert with her brand team.
Back when I was a freshman at PENN and first getting my feet wet as a writer, I wrote for a small publication on my college campus called Little Black Book. It was geared toward women of color on campus. And my first MAJOR interview was with Lisa as an up & coming entrepreneur. I was fascinated by her and by her business.
Carol’s Daughter has grown leaps and bounds since then. That was almost 9 years ago! I just feel so blessed to have been able to share this experience. What inspired me most is that these women that I look up to are mothers as well. The theme of the night really was that with hard work and dedication, you can do anything. When in doubt, think of women like Beyonce and Lisa Price.
Have you seen Queen Bey live in concert? Planning to? Soundoff below!
So a few weeks ago I shared with you all that I’ve been tapped by Capital One to share some of my travel experiences as well as my dream destinations with you all in a series about the new Capital One Venture Rewards Card. I’m especially excited about this series because I’ve always recapped my past travel experiences for you guys but I’ve never shared what destinations are on my bucket list. In the first post, I revealed that Thailand is my ultimate dream destination, for a number of reasons. From the food that I ADORE to the beautiful landscape, the shopping and of course the excursions, I adore everything about Thailand and can’t wait to set my feet on Thai grounds one day. Until then, a girl can dream. So here’s a list of the things that are part of my dream travel itinerary when I finally make it to Thailand:
Eat & Play in Bangkok
If you know me, you know I love to eat. I LOVE good food. I’m a fat kid at heart and I’m not ashamed. Thai food happens to be one of my favorite types of cuisine, so first on my list of to-do’s is hitting up the Floating Market in Bangkok to get some authentic Thai cuisine. There will be plenty of time to sample the food at the restaurants. But when I go away, I like to try food from the most authentic sources whether it’s a mom & pop shop down the road or a street vendor in the local neighborhood. So the Floating Market is my first stop in Bangkok. Girl’s gotta eat.
(Photo Credit: LuxuryPrivateTravel.com)
Call me corny but my intrigue for Thailand grew even deeper after reading NY Times Bestseller “Eat, Pray, Love” about a woman’s international journey to finding herself with her last stop being in Thailand. Temples were such an integral part of her trip – for meditation, self-discovery and so much more. I couldn’t go to Thailand without exploring the luxurious and regal Temple of the Emerald Buddha inside the Royal Grand Palace in Bangkok.
(Photo Credit: DiscoveryAdventures.com)
And finally, I couldn’t leave Thailand without fulfilling my America’s Next Top Model dream of posing atop a Thai elephant and taking a flawless picture. It must be done! Let’s hope I have enough courage to actually get up there when the time comes.
Sleep & Relax in Phuket
(Photo Credit: Fabtimeshare.com)
After Bangkok, I’d be headed to Phuket to experience the pristine beaches, epic private boat rides, marine wildlife and relaxation of the secluded islands in the area. Phuket has some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet. So this is where you’d find me for the rest of the trip.
My dream accommodations would be the Anantara Phuket Villas. Each villa has it’s own private plunge pool (get your life!), there’s an exclusive spa on-site, a cooking school, a myriad of private restaurants and more! This is one of the top-rated hotels in Phuket. With a rewards card like the Capital One Venture Card, you could easily book a stay here on your favorite travel website and use your rewards to wipe the slate clean. You could even charge your transportation to and from the airport to the card and use rewards towards your statement. I mean…Anantara here I come? I can just feel the cool water in between my toes.
For years, I’ve been hearing that Thailand has the BEST massage therapists in the east and that their spa services are so reasonably priced. Obviously one of the things on my itinerary when I get to Thailand is to book an outstanding masseuse for a back massage on site.
(Photo Credit: WeLovePhuket-Thailand.com)
I also love sampling local and exotic fruits. So that’s another thing I’ll be snatching up from the local markets – authentic fruits and delectables native to Thailand.
There’s SO much more I’d love to do in Thailand. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Obviously if I go I’d need to stay for at least a full 7 days to experience all I want. Rewards cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Card make my Thailand excursion dreams a little closer to reality. You can literally use the rewards to redeem travel rewards anywhere and under ANY carrier. No restrictions and blackouts. It’s the TRUTH. Thanks to Capital One this dream destination might not be a “dream” for much longer. For now, Thailand is all over my vision board and I’m speaking it into existence that I’ll be there within another year or so.
What about you? What’s on your dream getaway itinerary? Exploring the pyramids in Egypt? Feeding penguins in the Galapagos? Share them with the class below!
This post is sponsored by Capital One. All opinions expressed herein are my own and not those of the company.