December 2012 archive

My Insta-Year 2012 & 20 Things I’m Thankful For

I cannot believe how quickly 2012 has come & gone. I feel like I was doing this year-end Project 365 review post just yesterday and suddenly we’re approaching the dawn of a completely new year, and here I am again. My 20’s are flying by! Sheesh.

I have so many incredible things to be thankful for this year. 2012 was truly a year of growth and constant change for me. I think I experienced the most changes in my adult life during this year. From career changes to lifestyle changes to personal life changes and self-renewal, this was a pivotal year for me. I’ve learned so much about myself from all the trials & tests I’ve had to endure. My faith is way stronger and I have clarity of mind about where I see myself and what I truly want out of life. The Quarter-Life Crisis is real, y’all. But necessary. Most important lesson learned? Count your blessings.

Here’s a list of My 2012 Top 20 Things I’m Thankful For:

1. My first trip to San Francisco

San Francisco is a city after mine own heart. From the incredible sight-seeing, the beautiful rolling hills, the coastal views and the amazing green lifestyle there, to the tech vibes and the diversity of the city, I fell head over heels.  I love it and I can’t wait to go back!

2. The birth of my newest nephew

There’s nothing more beautiful to me than the birth of a new soul. We added a happy addition to my family this year – my nephew Ezekiel. My other nephew Justice has made cameos on the blog from time to time (particularly this time I dressed him up in my Russian fur hat Ralph). I love these two boys with all my heart.

My 3 year old nephew, and my new 8 month old nephew

3. Taking Risks With My Look

Before this year, I hadn’t colored my hair at all since 2006. Big step for me! I mean, yes it was colored extensions so not actually “my” hair, but it was still major for me to embrace the color and the change. Dana Gibbs of Dana’s Loft did an excellent job on my BET Awards look. I think it was my best hair ever. Ombre ends might make a reappearance on this head in 2013.

4. My First Published Travel Story

I have always been addicted to travel. Any major trips I take, I document them right here on the blog and it’s always been something I was really passionate about. So it was a MAJOR deal for me to have my first travel story published in a print magazine. I had the opportunity to do so in the April 2012 issue of UPTOWN Magazine. I’ll never forget it!

5. My first “Home” away from home

So this year I started my new Home Improvement series. I moved into a new apartment in the city that just has so much character and, for once, really feels like “my” home. I’ve been really enjoying making it my own and giving it a personal touch.

6. Discovering LiSi Cosmetics 

By far one of the best moments of 2012 was my first time walking into the flagship LiSi Cosmetics store in downtown NYC. From that day on, I have been hooked and the brand has been so incredibly supportive of me and my endeavors. I’ve had so much fun spreading the word about them. From the Digital Launch Party to the creation of my nail polish color. I’m beyind grateful for having stepped foot into that store.

7. My Trip to the BET Awards

The fact that this blog all started with a runway recap of the BET Awards in 2009, it really brought things full circle for me when I was invited by Ford to be a special guest in their Ford Hotspot in LA. Not only was it my first time in LA, but my Road To BET Awards series really hit home for me because it truly has been a journey since starting my site.  The opportunities I’ve been given go beyond my wildest dreams.

8. My Trip to New Orleans

I almost didn’t make it to the Essence Music Festival this year. But I had always wanted to go and so instead of being rational, I threw caution to the wind and booked a last minute flight out to New Orleans. Best decision I made all year. I had an absolute blast hanging with my blogger besties in one of the most beautiful and culture-rich cities in this country.

9. My Successful Whole 30 Challenge

So towards the end of the summer, you guys who follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook probably recall me jumping head first into a full 30-day detox called The Whole 30. This was life-changing for me. It’s incredible to see firsthand how your body reacts to cutting out toxic foods. I never felt better. I’m already planning my next Whole 30 journey for 2013. It may be happening sometime in February, stay tuned.

10. Being Valued as a Voice

This year I had the pleasure of doing a number of speaking engagements and panel discussions =- something I’ve never done before! This year, I spoke at the Blogworld & New Media Expo, the Rising Affluent Conference, the BlogHer Conference, a Fashion Blogger panel for a Youth Women’s group as well as a PENN Alumni panel. You guys already know I love to talk, so being able to share some of my experience in this industry with other folks who really care? Priceless. I can’t wait to do more of it in 2013.

11. My First Runway Fashion Show

BlogHer blessed me with the opportunity to strut my stuff in their very first runway fashion show. I had SUCH a blast being in the company of other awesome bloggers and walking down a runway for the first time. I even landed a beauty feature on Elle.com because of it. So much fun!

12. Hosting Social Women Brunches

This year, myself and Yoli of Yoli’s Green Living co-hosted a series of brunches entitled “Social Women”. We had esteemed guests like comedienne actress Kim Coles and even socialite/entrepreneur Angela Simmons. I’ve always love hosting events so this was a true accomplishment for me.

13. My First ATL Weekend (Turned Week)

There’s nothing like a plate of Southern food to make you feel at home, even when you’re away from home. I visited Atlanta for the first time this year and what was supposed to be a quick weekend getaway turned into an extended stay due to Hurricane Sandy. I didn’t complain. I connected with ATL friends, ate tons of Southern cuisine and counted my blessings, considering the tragedy that was taking place in my hometown.

14. My Successful 2 Year Natural Hair Journey

Two years natural guys! Can you believe it? I didn’t think I would make it without the creamy crack but I did! And the journey is still going strong.

15. My Daytime TV Debut (Katie Couric Show)

I had the pleasure of being Katie Couric’s behind-the-scenes live blogger on her daytime talk show this year. I got to meet Katie, I wrote a post for her website and I was treated to a front row seat at the show (with laptop in tow). It was a great experience. 

16. Taking Part in Political History…Again

I voted back in 2008 for what I believed would never actually happen. Having a First Family of color for the past 4 years has been nothing short of amazing for me. Our ancestors fought so incredibly hard to make dreams like this come true. I was happy this year to participate in his re-election. Not because of his skin color, but because I believe in his values and what he plans to do for this country. I’m not really big into politics, but I was proud to do my civic duty this year.

17. Meeting Iyanla Vanzant

Guys, I am ONE degree of separation from Oprah! That’s right, your girl met Iyanla Vanzant at a launch dinner for her new show “Iyanla Fix My Life” not too long ago. I was honored, to say the least. She has such a warm presence, and her show on OWN network is really touching lives. This night was monumental for me.

18. My BlogHer Style Squad Appointment

I am a super proud member of BlogHer Publishing Network’s very first Style Squad. I contribute posts to their site and they now service ads right here on LoveBrownSugar.com (as you guys probably have noticed on the right sidebar and top header). It’s beyond my wildest dreams that I’m able to make a little chump change from doing what I love. I’m thankful to BlogHer for believing in me and supporting my dream.

19. LoveBrownSugar Nail Lacquer

What can I really say? This is something I can now check off my bucket list. I have a beauty product in my name! Even now, over a month after the announcement, I’m still in awe. My Limited Edition “LoveBrownSugar” nail polish is still available for sale HERE. I love & appreciate you guys who have supported me by purchasing bottles of your own!

20. Surviving 2012

From bad breakups to bouts of unhappiness and depression, nearly losing loved ones in my immediate family and feeling like all hope was lost. I even stopped blogging for nearly a month! God’s grace is really the only reason I can say I’m still here. So I’ll go forward counting my blessings and remembering how important it is to give thanks for the positive things in your life. One of which, for me, is your readership and your continuous support. I’m beyond blessed to have readers (and friends, really) like you all. I wish you guys continous success, prosperity and true happiness for the upcoming year!

What’s one major thing you accomplished in 2012? What are you most proud of?

12 Days of LoveBrownSugar: Day 12

So I’m normally very particular about my face makeup. I’ll experiment when it comes to lipstick, nail polish, eye shadow and all the other fun types of beauty products but I’m usually pretty brand-loyal with my foundation. Earlier this season, I was introduced to a brand that I’m now a huge fan of – CoverFX. I went to an event and was treated to a custom consultation where the CoverFX specialists helped me choose the perfect foundation and setting powder for me.

What I love about CoverFX is that it provides light & even coverage that really blends well with my complexion. I mentioned their products in my LoveBrownSugar Chic: Mixed Media outfit post. Because I LOVE the products so much, CoverFX is gifting one reader with a customized set of their Pressed Mineral Foundation, Total Cover Cream Foundation, their choice of Illuminating Setting Powder or Matte Setting Powder and Blotting Powder in their perfect match. Total retail value of the prize package is $133. Exciting! Enter below for your chance to win.

Rules for Entry:
1. You must be following LoveBrownSugar on Twitter and Facebook.
2. Comment below on why CoverFX should gift you your perfect makeup match!
3. For bonus entry tweet @LoveBrownSugar @CoverFX using hashtag #12DaysofLBS

a Rafflecopter giveaway

12 Days of LoveBrownSugar: Day 11

When I attended the LuckyFABB conference this past September, I was introduced to jewelry retailer T+J Designs. They gifted each attendee with a beautiful bracelet and I wore mine everyday for weeks at a time, that’s how much I loved it. You can see me wearing the Gold Spike Bracelet ($42.00) below, from my LoveBrownSugar Chic: Sneak Peek outfit post:

Because I love how chic (and reasonably priced) their accessories are, I’m gifting one reader a Silver Textured Chain Link Bracelet ($20.00) from T+J Designs. It’s a great statement piece and it will go with pretty much everything. All you have to do is enter your information, and tell me how you’d rock this chic accessory if it were yours!

Rules for Entry:
1. You must be following LoveBrownSugar on Twitter and Facebook.
2. Comment below telling me how you’d rock your T+J Designs bracelet!
3. For bonus entry tweet @LoveBrownSugar @tplusjdesigns using hashtag #12DaysofLBS

a Rafflecopter giveaway

12 Days of LoveBrownSugar: Day 10

So during the summer, I rocked an amazing sew-in done by celebrity stylist Dana Gibbs of dana’s Loft salon. She helped me get fly & fab for my trip to LA for the BET Awards. As a parting gift, Dana gave me a set of her signature haircare line called Kera Plus. Her products are lightly infused with Keratin and I used them for the duration of the time I had my sew-in to refresh the curls, keep them hydrated & conditioned and perfectly coiffed.

I’m a huge fan of her products (and her styling skills) so I’m honored to offer this gift set as part of my 12 Days of LoveBrownSugar lineup. One winner will get a travel kit that includes travel sizes of the Kera Plus Shampoo, Kera Plus Conditioner, Kera Plus Serum, Kera Plus Masque and a full size of the Hair Skin & Nails vitamins.

Rules for Entry:
1. You must be following LoveBrownSugar on Twitter and Facebook.
2. You must be following dana’s Loft on Twitter and Facebook.
3. For bonus entry tweet @LoveBrownSugar @danasloft using hashtag #12DaysofLBS

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Flavor of Friday: Holiday 2012 Edition

 Whoop! It’s the last Friday before Christmas so I’m dubbing this “Flavor of Friday” our official Holiday 2012 edition. Lots of good information in store for you guys this week including some of my favorite holiday gift guides from across the web, New Year’s Eve dress ideas and a few after-Christmas shindigs for my NYC gals to RSVP to. Check it out:

The Ultimate Vixen Gift Guide

Once upon a time, somebody on Instagram called me a”Vixen”. And I liked it. Mmmhmm. Aside from being a VIBE Vixen contributor and having been featured as their Vixen of the Day, the ladies over there know what they’re talking about! They have great taste. Hence, you should check out their “Ultimate VIXEN Holiday Gift Guide” and get some inspiration before the last weekend of holiday shopping ensues.

Click on over to VIBE Vixen for news, style stories & more!

The Beauty Girl’s Holiday Gift Guide

I don’t trust everyone’s opinions when it comes to my beauty product recommendations. But one girl I do trust is beauty blogger Eileen from Miss Whoever You Are. Aside from her being a super fly chick, she’s tapped into what’s hot & new in the realm of beauty, especially for dark & lovely ladies like myself. Eileen was nice enough to include my LoveBrownSugar x LiSi Cosmetics nail lacquer in her roundup this year. For that I’m eternally thankful!

Check out Holiday Gift Gude: For The Beauty Girl on MissWhoeverYouAre.com

New Year’s Eve Dress Roundup

It’s creeping up! Before you know it, it will be here. Yup, New Year’s Eve is around the corner. Have you bought a dress yet? Didn’t think so.  If you’re at a loss for ideas, hop on over to The Style & Beauty Doctor and get you some inspiration. She has a complete list of NYE dresses that won’t break the bank, for all sizes from petite to curvy. No excuses!

Check out New Year’s Eve Dresses That Won’t Break the Bank for All Sizes
Blake Von D Celebrates 4 Years
Happy Blogaversary to my good friend Blake Von D. For those of you who will be in the NYC area, Blake will be celebrating her 4 year blog anniversary on December 27th 7-10pm. RSVP info is above – don’t say I never told ya!
Have a great weekend yall! Don’t get trampled at the mall holiday shopping this weekend or anything, I need your pageviews to survive. (Hah! I kid! Well, maybe not really)

12 Days of LoveBrownSugar: Day 9

Y’all know I’m a shoe girl, so I’m super hyped about today’s giveaway. Shoes are my must-have accessory, especially good quality ones that are well-made. A few months ago I posted in my Instaweek 7.23.12 about shoe line Ron Donovan and my obsession with his sexy heels. Now, nearly 6 months later the designer himself has decided to gift one LoveBrownSugar reader with a $600 gift certificate towards one of his amazing designs. (*jumps up and down and screams*)

I mean, if you pass up this opportunity you’re crazy. Just saying…
Rules for Entry:
1. You must be following LoveBrownSugar on Twitter and Facebook.
2. You must be following Ron Donovan on Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest.
3. For bonus entry tweet @LoveBrownSugar @rdfootwear using hashtag #12DaysofLBS

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kickin’ It: INGLOT Artist Lounge Grand Opening

Nothing gets a girl more excited than a room full of cosmetics and topless European models. Say what?!

On Tuesday, December 18th, INGLOT Cosmetics (same location I had my 3 Year Anniversary Party) celebrated the Grand Opening of their Artist Lounge at the Chelsea Market Flagship Store. Their 6000 square foot venue housed a plethora of services, from professional make-overs to a special polish station providing well deserved manicures.

The Artist Lounge is a great work space for industry professionals and the perfect place to host business launches, promotional events, parties, photo-shoots and even wedding trials.

Gracie J & Wojtek Inglot

Mr. Wojtek Inglot himself (creator and founder of INGLOT Cosmetics) made a personal appearance at the event giving us the opportunity to snap a picture or two with him.

Set to debut in the tech world early next year, INGLOT will also be launching their virtual makeover app in which prospective buyers will be able to digitally try on the products before purchasing them, making the customer experience easier and more efficient.

Although I didn’t get a chance to hit the nail and lash bar, LBS reader Jayana and I got a chance to get well acquainted with some refreshments and a free make-over! JACKPOT!

Stay updated with the happenings and latest products from INLGOT Cosmetics by checking out their website HERE

– Gracie J

12 Days of LoveBrownSugar: Day 8

It wouldn’t be a LoveBrownSugar giveaway series without a little bit of Carol’s Daughter. They are my absolute fave bath & body company and I stan for their beauty products. Today’s giveaway features their Joy of Vanilla Body Indulgence Trio Gift Set ($30.00) – a luxe combination of their most popular vanilla-scented body creams. About the set, Carol’s Daughter founder Lisa Price says: “Vanilla is one of my favorite notes to work with; it blends so beautifully with almost anything. Vanilla is warm and loving and conjures up happy thoughts, and at the same time it can add a subtle sensuality to a scent.”

5 of you lovelies will have the opportunity to try out this amazing gift set courtesy Carol’s Daughter. Enter below – good luck! To check out more of Carol’s Daughter’s amazing holiday gift sets, check out the website HERE or you can hit up your local Sephora & ask for the Carol’s Daughter. She makes some really amazing holiday gifts.

Rules For Entry:
1. You must be following LoveBrownSugar on Twitter and Facebook.
2. Follow Carol’s Daughter on Facebook (let them know LoveBrownSugar sent you)
3. For bonus entry, tweet @LoveBrownSugar @Carols_Daughter using the hashtag #12DaysofLBS

a Rafflecopter giveaway

12 Days of LoveBrownSugar: Day 7

Today’s gift pack is another super chic bundle of products from mega-retailer Target. Like I mentioned in the Day 1 giveaway, if you’re like me and you really can’t afford to dig deep into your pockets for holiday gifts this season, Target is the quintessential one-stop-shop. Not only do they have the perfect beauty picks for the ladies on your list, but they have quite alot to offer in the style department as well. Aside from the seasonal designer collaborations (which I’m obsessed with), they have some great year-round staples in house. 

Get a load of the chic fashion items LoveBrownSugar is gifting one reader with:

Merona Saffiano Crossbody Bag ($19.99)
Xhilaration Round Case Bracelet Watch in Champagne ($14.99)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Target fashion bundle of 2 total products valued at $34.98. Sweepstakes ends 11:59PM EST 12/25/12. Open to U.S. residents 18 years of age or older. Winner drawn at random. Winner has 72 hours to respond with contact information before new winner is selected. Winning prize and compensation provided by Target. This program is not administered or sponsored by Target or its affiliates, but solely by LoveBrownSugar.

Get Noticed This Holiday Season: 3 Dress Types That Flatter Curves

The biggest concern I have when holiday season approaches surprisingly isn’t what I’m going to get everyone on my list. It’s what I’m going to wear! Trying to find the quintessential holiday look can be quite stressful especially when you have a particular body type and you’re looking for stylish options.

My biggest piece of advice during this critical time of party-hopping and social soirees is to stick to silhouettes you’re comfortable with. The last thing you want to be worried about, standing next to your CEO at the office holiday party, is whether your tummy needs sucking in or if you should’ve put on that extra pair of control-top tights. The best thing to do is stick with your tried & true.

Here are a few of my go-to silhouettes that have worked for my top-heavy, pear-shaped frame in the past:

1. A-Line Dresses

This might be one of my favorite dress silhouettes. An A-line shaped dress is super flattering for so many different body types, primarily if you have hips that you want to slim down or balance out. 
The A-line dress flares out right below the waist and is very forgiving whether it’s your hips, thighs or backside you want to downplay. It also makes your waist appear even smaller (always a plus!)

2. Peplum Dresses 

Peplum dresses are another favorite. Not only do the lapels on the side and around the waist add a little extra “ooomph” to your overall look, but peplum dresses also famously disguise unflattering belly bulges, and the infamous “muffin top”, by drawing attention to the slimmest part of your body.

This silhouette is perfect for pear-shaped and hourglass-shaped women. My body is a combination of both, so I’m obviously a huge fan of the trend. This isn’t limited to just dresses either. You can totally rock a glam peplum top or jacket over a skinny pant or skirt as well, and it will have the same effect.

3. Shift Dresses

 Next on my list of figure-flattering silhouettes is the shift dress. It’s a basic, and every fashionista should have at least one of these staples in her closet, in a classic color like black or white. The best thing about the shift dress is its simplicity. It has a pretty straightforward cut and gives a mod appeal while still being flattering. Vertical lines elongate the body, which is a plus.

The trick to finding the perfect shift dress is picking the right material and the right neckline. If you’re top-heavy, you might want to stay away from high-neck or rounded necklines and spring for a shift dress with more of a v-neck shape up top. Also, don’t be afraid to play with texture! The shift dress should be classic but not boring. This dress is great for office holiday parties and more corporate settings where conservative may be necessary, but you’d still like to show off your figure.

So now you guys know my secrets! If you’re ever wondering why I wear the same styles of dresses over and over, this is why! I work what I have and stick with designs and cuts that make me feel beautiful.

What about you? What’s your go-to dress silhouette?

This post is part of BlogHer’s Get Noticed For the Holidays editorial series, made possible by Cover Girl.