Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Other Woman

No, there isn't another woman, but Nina Simone's birthday was a week ago today, and I've been playing this song a lot:

What's your favorite Nina Simone song?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

4 Things That Are Making Me Smile

Happy Tuesday! 

1. This dance video that everyone and their mother is talking about

2. This tongue and cheek piece about How to Have the Best Pregnancy Ever  

3. This weather forecast 

  4. The fact that spring is coming and I can wear cute stuff like this. {Have you heard of Shoxie before? I just found out about it and LOVE it!}

What's making you smile lately?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Dark & Lovely's Au Naturale Launch

Last week I headed into the city to check out Dark & Lovely's Au Naturale launch - it boasts the ability to reduce shrinkage, something Lil Love Bird deals with (more on the results below!) so I was very excited to learn about the new product line which was hosted by the gorgeously coiffed Curly Nikki and Marsha Ambrosius

{Image Credit}
There were tasty hors d'ouvres and drinks while guests mingled at the fab venue, Arena, had some fun at the photo booth, received hands-on styling tips from experts and listened as Dark & Lovely explained the benefits of the product line.

Check out some highlights:

Marsha Ambrosius and Curly Nikki {Image Credit}

{Image Credit}

 I had to leave right after the press event, but later it heated up for the public event - I heard it was a fun night! {Image Credit}
I was really excited to try the products out on my Lil Love Bird especially as her curls shrink up so tightly and I love to let her go with curls free. Not only do the products smell good enough to eat, which was mentioned at the event, but there are a variety of products depending on what you want your hair to do (ex. twist, braid, loc or wear out in tight curls or loose curls). 

Since we were preparing to go away I washed and conditioned Nia's hair then did a two-strand twist so she could arrive at our aunt and uncle's home in style. Her hair usually shrivels right up after I braid but check out the results and steps below . . .

After shampooing with Hydrating Soak Shampoo one time I left the Knot Out Conditioner in for 15 minutes and combed through
I applied the 10-in-1 Styles Gelee to each section of hair before twisting; when finished I sprayed lightly with Sheen Sealing Nectar for shine
While I think I could've stretched her twists more she fussed the entire time I did her hair (as usual), so I was rushing by the time I got to the back. I like the length she got on her front braids, the pleasant, sweet, but not cloying, smell of the products as well as the shine from the spray. Additionally, I liked that I didn't have a sticky residue left on my hands - an issue I've had with the Shea Moisture souffle that I've used to define Nia's curls in the past. Next, I look forward to sharing my experience when I try the curl defining Au Naturale products on her afro. . .

For my curly readers: what products have you had success with reducing shrinkage?

Disclosure: I received a gift bag of products at the event; all opinions expressed are my own.


Friday, February 22, 2013

L'Oréal Paris Magic BB Cream Review

I first heard about BB cream almost a year ago and went to investigate at my local make-up counter at the time but the price deterred me. I have very few products in my make-up bag (most days I don't wear make-up), and I just couldn't commit to a costly product that might not work. 

Enter the opportunity to try L'Oréal's BB cream courtesy of SheSpeaks! I was so excited to get my full size product but have to admit when I answered the pre-screening questions and saw there were only a few shades I was nervous. I selected the "Deep" BB cream. 

I was eager to try it and was surprised to see how it came out the tube, but charged on ...

I put a few dots around my freshly cleaned and moisturized face and blended - it felt a bit grainy, but I let it settle in and saw my skin transform...

I'm a believer! I have a few discolored spots on my face which is typical of dark skin and I was able to use this to even out my skin without concealer, which I sometimes use. 

I showed Mr. Love Bird and he was a believer but he too questioned if "Deep" was universal enough for brown skin and asked to try it for himself since he's a richer shade of brown! Sorry there are no pictures to share of this but unfortunately, it came out pale on his skin so I wouldn't recommend this for very dark skin. I know there are other BB cream brands out there that come in a better variety of shades. 

I also saw complaints about L'Oréal's BB cream that it didn't contain sunscreen. This didn't even cross my mind because I use a moisturizer with sunscreen in it already and wouldn't be looking to BB cream as a moisturizer or a sunscreen. If you do you will be disappointed. 

L'Oréal Paris Magic BB Cream retails for $10.95 for 1 fl oz. It is available in four shades and is sold at mass food and drug retailers nationwide. Click here to find out more.

Disclosure: I received L'Oréal Paris Magic BB Cream courtesy of SheSpeaks. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Have you tried BB cream? What has your experience been? 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Harlem How I Miss Thee

Spending time in Harlem over the weekend reminded me we just passed our 1 year anniversary of leaving Harlem and I sorely miss it. 

I still follow the news in Harlem and with both my sisters living there we get back there once in a while (and for other events too as seen here). 

I know things don't always go according to plan, but a dream situation for me would be that somehow, someway we end up back in Harlem in a brownstone someday. I still drool over brownstones in my old neighborhood of Hamilton Heights and keep on top of real estate developments. 

Here's a sprinkling of real estate news and more that's making me ache for Harlem more than ever. It really is changing constantly . . .

Harvist - a gourmand's dream - opened the beginning of this year. 

{Images Credit}
Sugar Hill Museum Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling is making progress (this was a few short blocks from our old apartment ::sigh::).

Rendering {Image Credit}
Reality: Susan Delvalle, the new director of the Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling in Harlem {Image Credit}

When Wafels and Dinges comes to Harlem you know things are looking up! 

{Images Credit: Left and Right}
Although not recent this Martha Stewart video on the history of Harlem's gardens is fascinating.

If I were still in Harlem I totally would've attended this Stop N Swap. Such a great idea!

And now the best for last . . . Harlem brownstones:

64 W. 119th ST (via) ...P.S. The new Whole Foods being built is less than 5 minutes away from here.

{Images Credit}
30 West 120th ST (via) - chef Marcus Samuelsson's new home*


{Images Credit}
*I have to share a quick idiot moment: I wasn't living in NYC yet (but wishing I was!) and was visiting a friend in Harlem. We were having dinner outdoors at Native (now closed) and while catching up a chipper, young looking man wearing a wreath of leaves leaned over our table from the mini-step above and interrupted our conversation to chat with us. I was annoyed and answered briskly to continue my conversation with my friend. Note that I was wearing a Food & Wine t-shirt (I was working on an account at the time that advertised in that magazine). A week later I was reading a food magazine (probably Food & Wine!) and noticed Marcus Samuelsson's picture - it was the young chipper man who was trying to engage me and my friend. I figured he may have noted my shirt and thought I was in the industry. DOH! Oh and I found out he was wearing the wreath to celebrate the summer solstice - part of his Scandinavian heritage.

Have you ever moved away from a place and months or years later still can't get over it? Did you return or not? Please share your story with me . . .

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My First Wordless Wednesday

I've never done a WW before, but I got home a bit ago and saw this pic in my inbox that my dear friend (and fellow destination wedding bride) Normailed took when we visited MD last month (you can see our LOs together for the first time here). LOVE it! Thank you Normailed =)


Optimum's AMLA Launch with Cynthia Bailey and Johnny Wright at AIRE

I had the pleasure of recently attending Optimum's launch of its AMLA Legend Relaxer and Maintenance Line at AIRE, Roman ancient baths here in NYC. 

While it was a dreary day it was a welcome respite to enjoy the luxe surroundings and learn more about amla oil, an Indian oil rich in vitamin C, proteins, minerals and anti-oxidants which nourishes and revitalizes the scalp and hair fiber.

RHOA's Cynthia Bailey (yes, Peter was there too!) and Johnny Wright, Michelle Obama's stylist, were on hand to moderate and share their excitement of the launch. 

From the standard shampoo and conditioner to the Billion Hair Potion and relaxer there are a range of products in the line for both natural and relaxed tresses and the best part is they are all under $10 - super affordable!

It was a pleasure meeting Cynthia, who was absolutely stunning in real life, and Johnny who was very personable. I appreciated his willingness to talk about challenges those of us with hair loss deal with and in my case in regards to lupus - something he was familiar with. He agreed with my decision to break away from relaxing my hair

I also appreciated that there was an Indian doctor on hand describing the medical properties of amla and how she uses it in her practice as well as seeing the models who had natural hair as well - they were there to demonstrate the product results for us to feel their hair styled with the products. There was such great sheen without added weight of heavy products!

I look forward to trying the Billion Hair Potion on my scalp (yes, I'll post a review!) and revisiting AIRE compliments of the giftcard I received - a great break for this mama! 

{Image Credit}
Optimum's AMLA Legend Collection is now in stores available nationwide.

Disclosure: I received a giftbag at this event. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Have you heard of amla oil? Have you tried it? If so, let me know what your experience has been. 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

5 Days Until Our 1st Cruise!

I keep telling myself, "I will not run around with a chicken with its head cut off," but this weekend I came close to breaking my vow!

With 5 days to go until we cruise for the first time and a to-do list that's too long, I'm taking lots of deep breaths. I keep reminding myself that despite my long nights soon I will be sleeping in on a lovely cruise ship sailing in the Caribbean . . .


We still managed to have a fun President's Day Weekend - unlike last year I knew well in advanced that Mr. Love Bird had the day off so we planned accordingly, but as usual things don't always go according to plan. 

First, I have to share this commercial that cracked me up; I usually find minor holiday commercials promoting various sales very annoying but this was pretty funny:

OK on to the madness weekend recap . . .


I saw (and loved!) "Silver Linings Playbook" with a friend thanks to Parents' Night Out at my church

Nia the Lion had fun with Miss Christel, director of Children's Ministry, while I was out
Later that night Mr. Love Bird came home after being away on business for a week . . . 


When Mr. Love Bird comes back we go to our local diner
We stopped at Michael's to get supplies for my scrapbooking classes onboard the cruise (learn more about Cruise and Crop in the button on the sidebar!)

A story to go with the pic above . . .

We were scheduled to see "The Newlyweds" as our postponed Valentine's Day date night since Mr. Love Bird had been out of town, but we arrived only to find out the show was cancelled - this after trekking into the city, dropping Nia with my sister, paying for cabs etc. It was a mess, but thankfully HowAboutWe for Couples came to the rescue with a BOGO Fandango code so we saw "Warm Bodies" instead (it was different but funny). I can't believe even after re-confirming our tickets a few days before the representative didn't let me know the show was cancelled - we had been offered free tickets via my blog. I even called from the venue and left a message about the situation and as of this writing have yet to receive an email or phone call explanation. 


After church we raced back so Lil Love Bird could go to her friend's birthday party at Imagine That! (I posted about our first time going here, and Nia was so excited to go back.)

She was in heaven in a tutu AND tap shoes!
Mean muggin'
I made these ATK snickerdoodles to get me through the season finale of Downton Abbey - is anyone as depressed as I am?


We woke up bright and early to join our moms' meet-up group at the Staten Island Children's Museum (hooray for free admission on Monday holidays!)
She was patient while we got our taxes done so this was her reward!*
*Speaking of taxes Mr. Love Bird and I got SO annoyed when the tax preparer kept telling us to take less deductions so we get more of a refund at the end of the year. The point is NOT to get a big refund or to break even - why would we want to loan the government $ interest free just to get it back at the year? People don't get this! In most cases a refund is the government giving you money back you loaned them interest free. ::steps off soap box::

Finally . . .

I couldn't resist picking this up for the cruise! {Image Credit}
After we had his and hers mani/pedis. It was nice to relax, but they took waaaay too long (over 2 hours!), and then I had a waxing appointment scheduled after, but my car service was a no show so had to reschedule for later this week. Boo...

And here's what I'm working on blog-wise (I had planned to get some of this done over the long weekend but see above!):
  • Toy Fair 2013 recap (it was AMAZING!)
  • Optimum's ALMA product launch at AIRE recap with RHOA's Cynthia Bailey and Johnny Wright, Michelle Obama's stylist
  • Young House Love's book signing recap (and prize I won from the event!)
  • My office makeover and tour
  • An exciting announcement/new partnership (I hinted about it here)
  • SheSpeaks  review of L'Oreal's BB Cream (love it!) and a couple Bzz Agent reviews (Glad Expressions and Post Sesame Street cereal - Nia's obsessed!)
  • A giveaway (if I can eek it out to post while we're gone)
  • A post about Harlem developments in the one year since we've gone - it flew by SO fast and Harlem is changing rapidly
How was your President's Day Weekend? Any tips from our readers who are veteran cruisers before we leave (we got some great advice from a few of you here - thank you!)? 

P.S. Nia is not going on this cruise - this is our first cruise experience and I'm very excited to go sans Nia! Oh and about that Carnival incident, as I posted on Facebook:


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