Friday, August 31, 2012

Kickin' It: LoveBrownSugar 3 Year Anniversary Event

Last night I had the time of my life at the LoveBrownSugar 3 Year Anniversary celebration. I waited until the end of summer to throw my shindig because I wanted all the details to be just right. And I'm so happy I did - we had a blast!

As you may recall, I posted the invite last week and I posted it for you all FIRST because I really wanted to finally be able to meet some of you lovelies. I was overwhelmed with the response. So many of you came out to celebrate this big day with me, I really felt loved.

With LoveBrownSugar readers & supporters
With Janel Martinez (Black Enterprise) and Kisha Timothy (LBS Assistant)
Some of the guys!
With Taiia Harris & Paula T. Renfroe of Juicy Magazine
DJ Carver The Great
I have to give a huge shoutout to my amazing sponsors. INGLOT Cosmetics gave us an awesome venue to party in. 1800 Coconut Tequila sponsored the yummy drinks. Tonnie's Minis (my favorite cupcake shop!) sponsored the sweets, Nail Taxi kept the ladies in style with free mini manicures, and Shea Moisture served as our title sponsor (love their products)!
The cocktails were delicious. 1800 Coconut Tequila cooked up a specialty drink called the "LoveBrownSugar Sunrise" - delish!

Our nail technician from Nail Taxi, Arielle, did an amazing job with everyone's manis!

The girls had a good time playing dress-up in the INGLOT cosmetics. I'm obsessed with their lipstick.

Special thanks also to Stella & Dot for giving the perfect complimentary jewelry for my ASOS dress. Last night I wore their Tempest Necklace, the Secret Garden cuff, and their Renegade Cluster ring.

I'll have even more footage of the event for you guys to see next week. Until then, check out the complete photo album from the event at LoveBrownSugar on Facebook!

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LoveBrownSugar Chic: Rainbow Dreams & Back Alleys

 Today is a great day for me. This weekend will officially end the summer season. Last night I threw an end-of-summer bash for LoveBrownSugar's 3 Year Anniversary that will go down in the history books. And I'm officially done with my Whole 30 program. I'm on cloud 9 until further notice.

ASOS has been serving me well all summer. That's where I snagged this beauty. It's also where I snagged the dress I wore to my Anniversary party.

The shoes I snatched up as soon as I saw them laying in the clearance isle at TJ Maxx. They're from MIA and they are perfection. Cute and comfortable - best combination ever.

Dress: ASOS (similar here for $32) | Shoes: MIA | Bag: Vintage | Snake Cuff: H&M | Ring: Glitterrings 

Photography by Sharifa S. Daniels

Get The Look:

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Healthy Living: The Whole 30

So last week in my Insta-Week 8.20 post, I told you all about this new plan I'm on called The Whole 30. Before the summer was out, I promised myself that I would jumpstart a new path to health and vitality with a nice detox or body reset plan. I've done everything in the past from the Master Cleanse (I lost 6 lbs in a week last summer but I also nearly passed out in the heat and snapped at everyone in my path) to the juice fast, so I knew what cleanses I did NOT want to do. I wanted to do something that involved eating actual food, but just...better. In came the Whole 30 plan!

 I peeped Erika of Style Activist and Vahni of Grit & Glamour chatting about it (on Twitter of course - best place to be nosey without anyone noticing) and suddenly I was diving head first into the Whole 9 Life website. So here's a "Whole 30 For Dummies" break down of what the plan is, as well as a simple step-by-step guide highlighting how I got started and my results to date:

The Whole 30 Plan

The plan isn't very complicated at all. The rules are simple. Eat whole foods. Processed foods aren't allowed on the plan at all. It's very similar to the "paleo" or "caveman" diet, in which the focus is on eating just what the cavemen ate. Meat/Seafood, Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts & Oils. Plain and simple. Here's what you'll eat on the Whole 30 Plan- an easy, 60 second breakdown:

Whole9′s Nutrition in 60 Seconds

"We eat real food – meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, healthy oils, nuts and seeds. We choose foods that were raised, fed and grown naturally, and foods that are nutrient-dense, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.

This is not a “diet” – we eat as much as we need to maintain strength, energy, activity levels and a healthy body weight. We aim for well-balanced nutrition, so we eat animals and a significant amount of plants.

Eating like this has helped us to look, feel, live and perform our best, and reduces our risk for a variety of lifestyle-related diseases and conditions."

Essentially, the emphasis is on the above described food groups eliminating the following: sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes and dairy.

5 Steps To Jumpstart Your Whole 30

1. Put Together a Meal Plan
When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Nothing rings truer when it comes to starting a new nutrition plan. Preparation is everything! Especially with a diet that's very restrictive. The first step in attempting the Whole 30 is to plan out your first week of meals. Knowing what you're going to eat on which days, helps alleviate a ton of stress. And it's exciting! You can try new things when you make a little extra time.

2. Go "Clean" Shopping

This step is pretty important. My personal favorite place to get whole, organic foods without high prices is Trader Joe's. Not everything at TJ is organic, but everything that is, is properly labeled. I absolutely love the prices and the fresh food. If you can afford it, head to Whole Foods as all their items are organic for the most part. If you don't live near either of these, hit up a local Farmer's Market. The emphasis for Whole 30 is to eat clean, organic natural foods. Stay far away from processed foods, meats & poultry pumped with hormones or antibiotics, and fruits/vegetables laden with pesticides.

3. Tell Your Homies

Do NOT keep this plan to yourself! Not because you need to rally the troops, but because your "boo" needs to know not to send you boxes of Godiva chocolate at work. Your friends need to know which restaurants they can & can't do catch-up sessions at for the month. Your Mom needs to know to make you a special batch of baked chicken wings when you come home for the holiday, since everyone else is eating fried. Save yourself the heartache and let them know in advance. Also, you need to be held accountable! If your homies know, they can help you stay on track.

4. Plan For The Worst

Aside from having your meal plan together, you should also plan for those times when you'll need a little extra strength. Family eating birthday cake in your face? You should have an action plan for fending off potential pitfalls. For me - tweeting was my refuge in times of trouble! Any time I was faced with a challenge, I took to Twitter with the hashtag #Whole30 and immediately had encouragement from my community. For others, it might be eating an apple. Or calling your Mom. Whatever it is, plan in advance!

5. Expect The Best

Get ready to experience a life-changing 30 days! I'm only on Day 23 (and I haven't even been a complete angel) but I feel amazing! It may take a longer or shorter time period for you to feel like a new person, but just wait on it - it WILL happen. And when it does, you'll be happy that you put in the work.
My Results (So Far)

Clearer Skin

Since starting the Whole 30 plan, I've noticed a significant difference in the overall appearance of my skin. It has become really clear, barely a bump in sight and it has a glow! I feel like Leroy in The Last Dragon. "You possess the power of the GLOW!" More than that, it feels healthier. Softer, smoother and clearer. I've barely been using foundation at all.

More Energy

I used to have SUCH a hard time waking up in the morning. I'm a night owl, so I stay up till the wee hours of the morning, crash, then get back up a few hours later. Never sleeping through the night. I'm also always in dire need of a sugar "pick me up" mid-afternoon at work, or I won't survive. Thankfully, after being on Whole 30, I'm getting my full rest each night (yep, all 8 hours) AND I have consistent energy from the time I wake up until I go to bed. No more afternoon crash, sugar highs & lows and drowsy mornings. 

Loose Clothes

I dropped a dress size in a little under 2 weeks! I kid you not. There are some items I couldn't even zip up a few weeks ago that now fit snug and smooth. Like the dress below...

This was a dress I purchased from ASOS.com but was planning to send it back. I'm glad I didn't! Because now I can zip it without busting out the seams. I couldn't be happier with my Whole 30 results. For more information about the plan, check the resources I've listed below.


- First step, check out the Whole 9 Life website for more information

- I would advise you to start with this post as it's a great beginner's overview

- Next, you should probably tap into the "It Starts With Food" book they have for sale. I haven't purchased because, at the moment, I have no time to read it BUT I've heard it's a great starting point for this plan if you have the time. They break down everything in the book.

- Vahni of Grit & Glamour has an awesome comprehensive post on Getting Healthy here

Disclaimer: I'm not a health professional - at all. In any way, shape, or form. Please consult your physician before starting any new diet and/or exercise routines to make sure you're getting what your body needs. Don't go passing out in the street and then come on this here blog saying LoveBrownSugar made you do it! Love yall  - be healthy (and smart)!
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Instaweek 8.27

Happy Monday! I had quite an active week and weekend. Here's what I got into:

- I'm still on the Whole 30 grind. I had a couple of weekend snafoos, but I'm still going strong with my veggie omelettes (no cheese!) and my Jamba smoothies. The plan definitely gets easier as time passes.

- I took a trip to Forever 21 this weekend to start stocking up on trendy & budget-friendly pieces for fall. I stumbled on the dress above left and wasn't sure if I should take it home, so I didn't. Weigh in below if you think I should head back and get it.

- This past weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in a photoshoot with some of my favorite natural-haired gurus. Had SO much fun! Popular Youtube vlogger Taren Guy participated in the shoot as well. We spent the whole day after our shoot hanging at the Afropunk Festival in BK which was a blast!
Taken from Taren's Instagram (@TarenGuy)

There's only one official weekend left in summer - how sad is that? Let's make the most of this upcoming week folks! Tell me what's on your summer bucket list!

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Sounds: Caged Black Woman & Soul Sista

 Caged Black Woman

A very gifted and talented artist friend of mine named Kofi Genfi sent me the link to his latest spoken word piece. Instead of doing a traditional spoken word recording, he channeled the theme of his poem "Caged Black Woman" into a really well-edited video, which I love. This is a story of a fearless woman who is heavily flawed and who is trying to escape into a world where there are no woes. My girl Sisi of My Modest Mouth played a role in the hair, makeup and wardrobe as well.

About the piece, Kofi says, “I leave the message of the short film completely up to the viewer. Everyone will have a different take on it because we all have been fostered by different experiences.”  
Dive right in:

Check out more of Kofi's work at his website: www.KofiGenfi.com

Soul Sista (Dream/Girl)

 This video, shot by director/producer Alex Ghassan, showcases an eclectic range of young Black style as the visuals for lyricist Suede Jury's poetic ode to natural Black beauty. The song is called "Soul Sista (Dream/Girl)". It is the 9th track from Jury's largely self-produced debut album "Dreamer's Block". The debut of the video was a collaboration between the artist Suede Jury and style website Black Fashion by Javii. Check it out below:

The album is available as a free download on http://www.suedejury.com.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Kickin' It: Optimum Miracle Oil Event With Tracee Ellis Ross

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a press preview of Optimum Salon Care's new product launch. They unveiled their newest product line called Miracle Oil, which has a blend of 6 natural oils like jojoba, argan, coconut, sunflower, apricot & avocado. The event took place at 404 NYC and their newest brand ambassador Tracee Ellis Ross (my fave!) was on hand, swearing by their new product. I adore her. Here's a snapshot of the event:

The Optimum Care Miracle Oil collection is a product line for both natural-haired and relaxed divas alike. The collection includes a 6-in-1 Miracle Elixir, $8.99 (which is Tracee's go-to product), a Hair Creme $5.99, and a Hair Moisturizer $5.99.

So I met my hair icon Ms. Tracee Ellis Ross once again! The Queen of perfect curls and red lips. Remember when I posted about meeting her for the first time at that "Reed Between The Lines" Premiere Party last October? (Same night I had my Chance Encounter With Kanye?) She remembered me! I almost died when she told me my face looked familiar. We're practically BFF now. Mmhmm yes, we are. Be jealous.

Tracee showed up with her dedicated natural hairstylist extraordinaire Chuck Amos. He's a riot!

Natural-hair blogger and expert Curly Nikki was a co-host. She looked amazing per usual, with a sophisticated high puff and a beautifully color-blocked ensemble. Love her!

Bumped into two of my favorite beauty gurus - Danielle of The Style & Beauty Doctor and Nicole Marie Melton, Beauty Editor at Essence.com.

This face is always beat! Love her red lip moment - gorgeous!

Lovelies Jessica Andrews of Glamazons Blog and Kela Walker of Kela's Kloset!

The ladies of the hour - Nikki Walton of Curly Nikki and Tracee Ellis Ross.

There were product demonstrations by the brand managers, on how the product sinks into the hair for optimum moisture without the "grease".

Tracee even did her own product demonstration! About the 6-in-1 Miracle Oil Elixir, Tracee stated "There's 6 different oils and like 7 different uses for this product. And it's only $8.99 guys. That's like $1.25 per use. You can't lose!" 

These finger foods were everything. You guys know I like to eat. Sadly, I could only have like 2 of the things offered. Sigh, this Whole 30 plan is killing me! (That's another post altogether).

Overall it was an awesome event! Tracee asserted that she wouldn't endorse a product that she doesn't believe in. And I believe her. Hence, I'm planning to try these products out soon and I have a feeling they will be amazing.

Want to get your hands on some of your own? Check the Soft-Sheen Carson site for information about the product HERE and keep up with Optimum Hair Care on Facebook.

Will you be trying these out?
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Healthy Living: CVS Project Health

Given our recent health kick around here at LoveBrownSugar (see here for Christina's Whole 30 proclamation), we're taking a much greater interest in doing what's absolutely best for our bodies. Health is something that can be easily taken for granted, especially when the simplest of things such as seeing a doctor for a check-up proves to be not so simple, for various reasons. Whether it's time commitment, or lack of funds, we've all been guilty. Committed to serving multicultural communities, this year, CVS Pharmacy launched Project Health

Project Health provides free, preventive health screenings in African American and Latino communities around the country during key health awareness months. This August is Immunization Awareness Month, so Project Health is offering “free health screening events focusing on vaccination reviews, vision acuity, glucose, blood pressure and BMI (Body Mass Index) for individuals who have difficulty accessing preventive care.” Because on-site shots will not be offered, every Friday this month is “Flu Voucher Friday.” This means that with the completion of each screening, you will receive a voucher for a flu shot that you can redeem at any CVS Pharmacy starting in September. And they’re not done yet - you'll also receive a $5 coupon to use at CVS (every bit counts yall!)

So, you get a) free check up that may quite possibly save your life, and b) $5 in CVS cash to spend. Win-win, no? If you live in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C, you have access to Project Health. 

To find an exact location, visit www.cvs.com/projecthealth. And hurry, today is the last day to get your hands on that flu voucher. Don't say we didn't tell you!

- Kisha Timothy
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Steal Her Chic: Keke Palmer at Do Something Awards

This past weekend, actress and singer Keke Palmer was spotted at the 2012 Do Something Awards looking extremely sophisticated in a white shift dress, black pump and heels. There's something so sexy yet age-appropriate about this look on her. And this look works perfect for so many occasions - the red carpet, a swanky brunch, even the workplace. So I said to myself "Self, let's steal her chic." So here it is:

The White Shift Dress, Fabrizio Lenzi, $303.45

Start out with a structured and sleek white dress. Depending on your curves, you might want to choose an A-line or pencil silhouette. Below are some more options:

The Satin Black Pump: Stuart Weitzman, $325.00

The satin pump is truly versatile as well. They're great for church, work or play depending on what you pair with them. Definitely a closet staple. You can also substitute satin for leather to get the same look.

The Python Clutch: Nine West, $29

The definition of FIERCE honey. A clutch like this one provides just the touch of edge you need to keep this look from being too "First Lady" (no shade to Michelle O - hey girl hey!). And at $29, why hesitate? Here are a few others:

Nothing puts the exclamation point on this outfit more than her red lip! You guys already know from my Perfect Red Lip post what my faves are. This one is quite easy to add to the rotation. Here are some others:

Feeling this look on Keke? Would you "steal her chic"?
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