Saturday, December 31, 2011

LoveBrownSugar's Project 365 Challenge

It's officially the end of the year ladies & gents! If you recall in January, I referenced a project I was planning to pursue this year called Project 365. Basically, I vowed to try 365 new things this year, and to document them via pictures. Although I didn't quite track or document all 365, I did have an amazing year. From celeb sightings, to summer reading lists to worldwide travel & beauty discoveries - I came, I saw, I conquered. And thanks to my handy dandy cell phone, I've got pics to prove it. Anyway, here's a 36-picture glimpse of my 2011:

Here's to a successful 2011, and an even better 2012. Happy New Year everyone!
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Friday, December 30, 2011

LoveBrownSugar Chic: The Statement Poncho

Once upon a time, there was a girl-who-loved-prints. She obsessed over them and wore them daily - even in the cold bitter days of winter. Although she had maxis, and dresses, and blouses alike, all she ever wanted in life was - a statement poncho.

She searched and she searched to no avail for the perfect fit. But alas, the girl-who-loved-prints, couldn't seem to find the perfect wool cape for her. Like Goldilocks, she tried and tried but each one was either "too big" or "too small", "too hot" or "too cold". The girl-who-loved-prints thought all hope was lost...

When suddenly, on a haphazard excursion to the wilderness of Urban Outfitters, she stumbled upon...the one. She grabbed it and never looked back.

And they lived happily ever after...
Poncho: Urban Outfitters, Shirt: H&M, Leggings: Old Navy, Boots: ALDO, Infinity Scarf (above): Uniqlo
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How To Create A Vision Board: Part II

I'm back with another one! In Part I of How To Create A Vision Board, I walked through 5 easy steps to putting your visions and goals down on paper. If you haven't checked it out, that's a good place to start (click HERE). In Part II, I'm going to demonstrate from personal experience, how powerful vision boards can be. Below is a representation of what my vision board for 2011 looks like, and in this post I'm going to lay out how I accomplished each and every goal on my board.

Aside from adding in the pretty frame digitally (I didn't have it in a frame this year, but it's actually a pretty chic idea for decoration), this is exactly what I looked at, day after day throughout the 2011 year. I put my visions up in my bedroom on the left side of my bed so I literally saw it when I woke up in the morning and before I went to bed at night. Like I mentioned in Part I, what worked for me was separating my visions into different categories. My three main sections were focused around Career, Health & Beauty. Here's a breakdown of my board:

In this section, I included images of women I look up to, who demonstrate the level of success I want to achieve and images that embody or represent goals I wanted to achieve in my career. Starting from the top left and going clockwise, here's how I accomplished these goals in 2011:

1) Goal: Entrepreneurship
My fave girls Ginger & Liz, who own the nail lacquer line of the same name, represented entrepreneurship for me. Hence the "I'm A Hustler Baby" phrase underneath.

Accomplished: This year, I finally applied and got myself a real business license. On top of that, I placed runner-up in a local business plan competition, which gave me the confidence I needed to know that when I do officially start my business, I'll have support.

2) Goal: Meet DVF 
Diane Von Furstenberg represented excellence for me. As a woman of distinction, she really inspires other women to be who they truly want to be. I've also always wanted to go to her show at NY Fashion Week, literally since I was 14 years old.

Accomplished: This year, I met Diane von Furstenberg three times! I was blessed to win a FREE wrap dress at her Fashion's Night Out party (see here). I was privileged to attend her Spring 2012 show at NY Fashion Week (see more here). And I was also selected to participate in her NYC Wrap Rally to launch her Diane fragrance, which garnered major press (see pic below, I'm on the right!)

3) Goal: Become a Contributor
Since I started my career in journalism, I dreamed of becoming a contributor for some of my fave magazines. I added the word "contributors" to my vision board, and also put up a picture of Essence Magazine's Editor-in-Chief at that time, Angela Burt-Murray.

Accomplished: This year was huge for me in regards to contributions. This is the first year I was featured in major national publications! I had an advertorial in Essence Magazine's October Issue:

On top of that, I was quoted as a blogger/expert in Ebony Magazine's Beauty Awards, LoveBrownSugar was declared one of Essence's Top 40 Fashion Blogs, I landed my first article on The Huffington Post and I secured contributor status in a plethora of other publications, which I'm truly proud of.

4) Goal: Travel
This year I wanted to get into worldwide travel. I placed images on my board that represented that, like the main character in Eat, Pray, Love and pictures of the Caribbean. I also put words like "Passport" on there.

Accomplished: This year I visited Ecuador for 10 days (see HERE), and just 3 weeks ago I spent a luxurious weekend on St Thomas and St John. Two unexpected places, but two amazing experiences I'll never forget. And both trips were sponsored, so I was able to do them without suffering financial strain.

1) Goal: Develop a healthy lifestyle
Another major part of my goals for 2011 was improving my health. This year, I focused less on losing weight on more on developing healthy habits like working out regularly, eating less fast food & processed food, and drinking more water.

Accomplished: This year I participated in a 6-week program called NY Lean (see here). On that program I lost 12 lbs in a 6-week period and I felt absolutely amazing. It showed me that these health goals weren't as hard as they seem. I also eat much more organic food, and I barely eat fast food. Of course, there's more work to be done, but I did manage to accomplish a few goals and for that I'm proud.

1) Goal: Stay natural & grow!
As most of you know, I've battled on & off with going natural for over 5 years (see here for my hair journey). I was natural all through college, then I broke down and relaxed my hair when I went into the corporate world. Shortly after that, I regretted it and went natural again. So this year, after doing the big chop in November of 2010, my goal was to maintain my natural tresses, learn more about them and keep my hair growing beautifully.

Accomplished: I grew my hair from teeny weeny afro to almost collar-bone length over the year. I couldn't wait to out my hair in a high bun!

I also successfully waited an entire year until I got my hair straightened or applied any heat to it, which I'm proud of (see my video at Hair Rules Salon here).

All in all, I've had an amazing year and I'm looking forward to a successful 2012. Stay tuned for Part III (update: see it here) where I highlight how others have successfully created vision boards. Have any of you created a vision board? If so, I want to chat with you!

Email luvbrownsugar@gmail.com with either a) a picture of your vision board or b) a story highlighting how it helped you in 2011.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

25 Days of LoveBrownSugar: The Winners (Final)

See if you've won BIG for 25 Days of LoveBrownSugar! Please email 25DaysofLBS@gmail.com with Subject: (Day #), your Name and your Mailing Address to claim your prize!

Note: Please make sure you've fulfilled the correct eligibility requirements for the giveaway you win. If not, I'll have to give your prize to someone else!

Day 1: Honeycat Cosmetics

Winners: Stace, Marie, The Extraordinary Divorcee

Winners: Janelle Andrea, LocalCeleb, Traci

Day 2. dermHA

Winners: melzzzzzzzzz, Tiki_Green, LocalCeleb, kristinajw, Coco pelli

Day 3. Incoco

Winner: Ashley Ratcliffe

Day 4. Maybelline

Winner: Sandy

Day 5. Simply Be

Winner: Jac

Day 6. Glitterrings

Winner: ariez

Day 7. Creme de la Creme Hair

Winner: Pristina

Day 8. Pnk Elephant

Winner: DLee 

Winner: refaxoxo

Winner: kelleashia

Winner: I.C.O.F

Winner: Evelyn Kinnah 

Winner: @kkthebaker23

Winners (Clutch) - DLee and Becca_Matey

Winners (Belt) - Baaba's Jule 84 and Ashley

Winners (Scarf) - Nika and LocalCeleb

Winner: ariez

Winner: @zadryG on Twitter

Winner: Teena

 Day 22: AMBI Skincare

Winners: Whitney K Jordan, ladyt2sweet, kandace388@gmail.com

Day 23: Kera Plus

Winners: Jazzmene Ford, korkor82, Ashley

Day 25: Corioliss

Winner: The Extraordinary Divorcee

Congratulations to all the winners this year! I so appreciate your support and can't wait for next year's round of giveaways. Thanks for being so loyal to LoveBrownSugar!

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

25 Days of LoveBrownSugar: Day 25

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays everyone! Whichever holidays you observe this season, I wish you happiness & joy with your loved ones. To close out the 2nd Annual 25 Days of LoveBrownSugar series, I'm giving away a Corioliss C1 professional styler, valued at $210.00. Looking for a new look in 2012 - this is the tool for you! Here's it's claim to fame:

The C1 professional styler is ideal for straightening curls or flicks. The 1" wide plate is perfect for all hair types, especially thicker /coarse hair. Titanium technology allow the plates to glide effortlessly over the hair creating smooth results in one pass. Pro-variable control 140-450F allows the user to control the heat for various hair types. The C1 features dual voltage circuitry making it ideal for travel with it's own heat resistant storage pouch.

Comment below for your chance to win!

1. You must follow @LoveBrownSugar on Twitter and/or 'like' LoveBrownSugar on Facebook
2. You must be following @Corioliss on Twitter OR Corioliss Hair on Facebook

P.S. All final winners for 25 Days of LoveBrownSugar will be announced on Monday, December 26th!
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Friday, December 23, 2011

25 Days of LoveBrownSugar: Day 23

Yes, more hair stuff. (I know you love it!) Ladies, get into celebrity stylist Dana Gibbs' new hair care line Kera Plus. The owner of elite salon Dana's Loft, has agreed to give away three sets of her new Keratin-infused line of products. I haven't tried them yet, but they sound amazing. Here's what they're all about:

The Kera Plus Keratin Hair Care Collection is a complete hair care system formulated with high concentrations of keratin as an alternative to expensive salon keratin treatments. The 5 products; Keratin Infused Shampoo, Keratin Infused Conditioner, Keratin Infused Serum, Keratin Infused Masque, and Hair, Skin & Nails Vitamins, work synergistically to maintain a smooth, frizz-free appearance of the hair, while strengthening and improving the hair condition.

Sound interesting? Leave a comment below for your chance to win!

1. You must follow @LoveBrownSugar on Twitter and/or 'like' LoveBrownSugar on Facebook
2. You must be following @danasloft on Twitter and/or 'like' Dana's Loft on Facebook

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

25 Days of LoveBrownSugar: Day 22

Today's giveaway is for those who appreciate great skincare products. AMBI skincare is one of my absolute favorite brands for daily cleansing, and nope I didn't say that because they're paying me - it's true! I actually use AMBI Even & Clear Foaming Cleanser every morning and it keeps my skin refreshed, clean and free of acne pretty much all year long. I was given a few product samples when I was an editor at Honey Magazine, and that's been my go-to cleanser ever since. I switch up my moisturizers with the season to suit my skin needs, but their cleanser is a definite winner.

For 25 Days of LoveBrownSugar, AMBI is giving away gift baskets to three lucky winners! The goodies include: Even & Clear Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15, Exfoliating Wash, Fade Cream, and Black Soap with Shea Butter.

Just comment below for your chance to win!

1. You must follow @LoveBrownSugar on Twitter and/or 'like' LoveBrownSugar on Facebook
2. You must be following Ambi on Facebook

FTC Disclaimer: This giveaway is made possible via paid sponsorship by AMBI Products. 
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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

25 Days of LoveBrownSugar: Day 20

Wow, I can't believe there are only 5 DAYS left in 25 Days of LoveBrownSugar. That was quick! Today's faboosh giveaway comes courtesy Carolina Amato Jewelry. This online jewelry retailer has the perfect baubles and bangles to make your holiday dress pop. Check out what they're giving away for one of you lovelies:

Today's giveaway features the super chic Clustered Brilliance ring ($78) - a really nice gift for the ladies. Personally, I fall head over heels for sparkly gems like this one. 

Comment below for your chance to win! (And make sure you're eligible, rules below)

1. You must be following @camatojewelry on Twitter and Carolina Amato on Facebook.
2. You must be following @LoveBrownSugar on Twitter and/or 'like' LoveBrownSugar on Facebook.
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Tracee Ellis Ross Spills Her Beauty Secrets

If you're obsessed with Tracee Ellis Ross like I am, you'll have an appreciation for this amazing Face Time article that writer Tina Turnbow of the NYTimes recently did of Dr. Carla Reed aka Joan Clayton aka Lady Diana's daughter. I heart Tracee. If you didn't know, now you know. I met her at the premiere for her BET show Reed Between The Lines, and I fell in love. Anyway, here's what she had to spill about her makeup & hair regimen:

TT: Can you tell me about a few products that you and Carla like?
TER: Our favorite lipstick colors are Nars Funny Face and Schiap, and Nars Damned Velvet Matte Lip Pencil. For a natural lip, it’s all about Nars Blonde Venus. And from M.A.C, we like Ruby Woo and the Magenta lip pencil with a bit of lip balm. For mascara,Cover Girl Lash Blast in Very Black is the very best.

TT: How do you keep your hair so fabulous looking?
TER: When I’m not working, I spend a lot of time on my hair. When it’s time for my hair to get some rest, I either wear it in a ponytail, bun or my favorite “milkmaid” braid. My everyday essentials are Kim Kimble satin rubber bands, Bumble and Bumble Quenching Complex leave-in conditioner, Aestelance Hydrate leave-in conditioner. When slicking my hair into a clean pony, bun or braid, I mix a little Moroccanoil with water and smooth it on. The shampoo and conditioners I use depend on how I’m styling my hair — that list is reeeally extensive.

For more about her skincare and beauty regiment, get into the full NYTimes article here.

Also, check out the season finale of BET's Reed Between the Lines tonight at 10PM EST! Word on the street is, Anthony Anderson makes a guest appearance. Plus, I'm sure Tracee will be rocking some head-turning outfits for the finale epi.
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How To Create A Vision Board: Part I

Note: This is not my 2011 vision board, just a digital representation

So this entire year I've been raving about how much creating a vision board at the beginning of 2011 has helped me go above and beyond. It's truly miraculous all I've been able to accomplish this past year as a result of staying focused on attainable goals and literally staring at them everyday. So I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Vision boards work. Seriously. If you don't believe me, keep reading. In this 3-Part series "How To Create A Vision Board", I'm going to walk you through what I did to make mine, how mine helped me achieve success and then finally how others have achieved success using these methods. Happy December - get ready to take 2012 by storm!

Step 1. Decide on your goals for 2012 and write them down.

They should be concrete, attainable, and well thought-out. Don't just throw "Win a Million Dollars" on there. Take a few days to truly reflect on the things that you lacked, the things you really craved for but couldn't have and the things you regretted not pursuing this year. This should drive your goals for next year. Feel free to steal inspiration from people you look up to and admire. There's nothing wrong with that, and they don't have to know. Warning: Positive goals only. If your motivation is to see your ex-boyfriend's new girl fall off of a cliff in 2012, this is not the right exercise for you. You're better off seeing a hit man. Better yet, you might need Jesus. Just saying.

Step 2. Shop for Materials.

Ok, once you've taken some time to reflect on the goals you'd like to accomplish, it's time to go shopping! Head to your local pharmacy, bookstore, and/or craft store to pick up your favorite magazines and other inspiring materials. Search for publications that truly represent your personal goals. Some of my faves for personal/career motivations are Essence, Ebony, Uptown, and Black Enterprise (these publications normally contain images of people I personally wanna be like one day). For fashion, I love Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Nylon, and Lucky. Whatever your goal is, choose mags that center around that theme.

Step 3. Research.

It's time to research the images you'll be looking at all year long and set them aside for Step 4. This is another activity you'll want to set aside at least 2-3 hours for. Remember, your vision board is a year-long image that you'll look at daily. It's a work of art. You want to clip images that really represent your goals and tug at your emotions and motivations when you look at them.

Step 4. Put it together.

So here's the tricky part - you'll want to arrange your vision board so that everything flows together well, and so that it looks pretty. Again, you're going to look at this e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y. It should look as fly as you!

My personal recommendation is to separate different parts of your board based on your goals. In Part II, I'll show you how I did mine but basically you can arrange the images in different sections of your board to correspond with each goal. So for example, have health in the upper right corner, career at the bottom left and spirituality in the middle. Whatever you prefer!

Step 5. Hang It In A Visible Place.

The point of the vision board is just that, vision! You must be able to see your board easily. Hang it in your bedroom, or living room. Wherever you spend the most time, that's where your board should be. If you're a workaholic, keep it at your desk at work! You can even take a picture of it and make it the background wallpaper for your cell phone. Whichever way you choose, just make sure it's easily visible and always in your face. It pays off, trust me.

Stay tuned for Part II (update: see it here) - I'll show you how I put my Vision Board together for 2011 and how each of the goals on my board were achieved this year. In the mean time, have any of you created a vision board? If so, I want to chat with you!

Email luvbrownsugar@gmail.com with either a) a picture of your vision board or b) a story highlighting how it helped you in 2012.
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