Sunday, June 30, 2013

Yeah, Yeah Google Reader is No More

Me and my siblings at brunch earlier today - we haven't all been together in over a year!
I'm coming off a fun weekend with lots of time with extended family (full recap tomorrow!), but jumping on the bandwagon with a quick reminder that Google Reader is going away as of tomorrow July 1, 2013. You can find the best round-up of alternatives including pros/cons here.

I'm using Feedly, Bloglovin and Old Reader in rotation until I decide which is my fave.

Happy following!


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Creating a Quirky Yet Beautiful Bedroom With Nanette Lepore Villa

Disclosure: I was invited by Nanette Lepore to preview her home collection; no compensation was provided and all images were provided by Nanette Lepore unless watermarked. 

Since we moved almost 2 months ago, I still have a bit of analysis paralysis when it comes to home decor. Yes, there's Pinterest and while I've been pinning away there's nothing like actually stepping into a showroom to see and touch inspired pieces for yourself. It really does make a difference! So when I was invited to preview Nanette Lepore's new homegoods line Nanette Lepore Villa, I was excited to see how the designer, known for her bold colors, evocative prints and signature silhouettes would translate her vision into the homegoods space.

Lepore's debut collection will reimagine the unique prints and intricate details of her ready-to-wear designs for the home in a vibrant color palette of cobalt blue, teal, fuchsia and emerald. In partnership with Peking Handicraft, Nanette Lepore Villa will offer bedding and home gift products.

My eyes were immediately drawn to the bold, jewel tones

These gorgeous color combos and textured prints appeal to both men and women!

Of course all of the previewing required delicious treats . . .
The macarons earned me extra points with my Lil Lovebird when I returned home!
During the downtime I enjoyed hearing directly from Nanette about the inspiration for her line, how her family's involved and what it's like launching one's own product line. As a businesswoman (and fellow Ohioan!), I really appreciated her candidness!

Nanette Lepore villa will include comforters/duvets, pillows, sheet sets, coverlets and decorative accessories such as Euro shams and bedskirts with bedding price points ranging from $249 to $299 for a comforter/duvet mini set. The home gift category includes high-end decorative pillows, area rugs, and kitchen products. Decorative pillows retail from $100-$200 while rugs range from $160-$270.

Posing with my favorite set - while I adore the bright colors this is a Mr. Lovebird-safe choice!
Nanette Lepore Villa bedding will be sold at major and regional department stores and the gift line will be available at specialty stores and high-end catalogs in addition to department stores. The collection will be available in stores in January.

Which Nanette Lepore Villa bedding set appeals to you? Is your partner a fan of bold, bright colors and patterns or a fan of neutrals?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Giveaway: Sunsafe with Coolibar

As an African-American one of the biggest myths is that we don't need to wear sunscreen because of the melanin in our skin. This is far from the truth especially in light of the recent study about prolonged use of sunscreen. Although the subjects weren't African-American it was speculated that outstanding results would have been achieved as well. 

While I've used sunscreen off-and-on throughout my childhood and now as an adult especially with my diagnosis of discoid lupus in 2007 it's been important more than ever to practice being sunsafe. 

With that in mind when I was introduced to Coolibar at Getting Gorgeous last month, I knew it was a brand that I wanted to learn more about. Sure enough, Coolibar partners with the Lupus Foundation of America to provide education about the importance of maintaining sunsafe habits.

The Coolibar Sun Beach Hat I'm wearing in my new header (as of June '13) was included in my Getting Gorgeous giftbag, and I have to say it's been a mainstay when I'm out and about especially for prolonged playdates at the park and pool. It also gets a lot of attention - every time I wear it I get stopped by people wanting to know where it's from.

Here are a few of my favorite highlights that Coolibar is known for:
  • Guaranteed sun protection: All products are rated UPF 50+ 
  • Comfortable, stylish designs: They have beautifully made products for all members of the family; from casual to chic you'll find something for everyone!
  • Cooler in Coolibar: Highly breathable, moisture wicking SUNTECT fabrics provide coverage that shades your skin and keeps you cooler
  • Skin Cancer Foundation Recommended: Coolibar was the first clothing company to earn the Seal of Recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation as safe and effective sun protection

I've noticed my Sun Beach Hat really does keep me cool and because my scalp is most affected by discoid lupus it provides outstanding coverage. It also has an adjustable loop inside to adjust the fit; since the brim is so large I've had a few times when it blows away like a sail so making sure the fit is correct is important! It also folds up nicely but retains its shape and structure when unfolded - no floppy hat syndrome.

When it comes to sun protection for kids Coolibar has them covered too! These Reversible Bucket Hats come in a variety of colors and include the drawstring and fabulous packable structure I mentioned above.

In addition to offering children's sunsafe hats, Coolibar also has a program where they offer their best-selling children's hats to schools, daycares and non-profits. The American Academy of Dermatology Gold Triangle Award recognizes the Coolibar School Sun Hat Program for excellence in raising public awareness of dermatology related issues. You can learn more about the Kids Sun Hat Program here

Through June 30 Coolibar is offering free shipping on orders of $75 - just visit their website - but you can enter my giveaway to win your own Sun Beach Hat and a Reversible Bucket Hat for your child in the color of your choice!

Enter via Rafflecopter below and as always my giveaway only has one mandatory entry with the rest being optional. Giveaway ends Thursday, July 4 with the winner announced on Friday, July 5. Open to U.S. residents only. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner: Celebrate Summer With Kiss Nails

With my sister Ariane in my new London Times dress at their Savvy Summer Soiree at Goldbar last night

We're preparing for guests coming into town this weekend (including my little brother who I haven't seen in over a year!) so I'm popping in quickly to announce the winner of my Kiss Nails nail dress and press-on manicure giveaway:

  a Rafflecopter giveaway
Congrats Krissy! I'll be in touch to get your info shortly so you can receive your prize.

And if you didn't win come back this afternoon for another fun summer giveaway! Hint: it's pictured in my new blog header . . .


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

10 Years + 4

Yesterday Mr. Lovebird forgot how old he is. Yes, it's true, and it pretty much sums up how time's collapsed since we started dating 14 years ago

We met when we were 18 and (in case Mr. Lovebird needs a reminder!) we're now 32. 

In 5 more years we'll be able to say we've known each other most of our lives. 

But for now I'm in the moment and especially excited that we're one year closer to our Puerto Rico vow renewal next year! I know I mentioned it last year, but I truly cannot wait to go back especially with Lil Lovebird and our guests in tow to celebrate. 

For now I'm savoring a few memories from our special day . . .


It's been a fun 10 years + 4 with my best friend! 

Puerto Rico up next. . .


Monday, June 24, 2013

How the Lovebirds Kick Off Summer '13

We hit the ground running right into summer over the weekend! It was good but tiring, and I'm excited to have nothing on today's agenda especially with the heat wave we suddenly have here in NYC. 

Here's a snippet of what we were up to . . .

Blogging While Brown with my sister Lauren

Highly recommend seeing this film - thank you to BWB for including it on the agenda!

A little "me time" getting dolled up for Mr. Lovebirds return from a week away
Lil Lovebird graduated from her preschool prep class . . . next stop preschool!

Building Nia's Little Partners Learning Tower - lots of fun posts and a giveaway to come . . .

And here's our family's annual summer bucket list of things I'm looking forward to: 
  • Setting up our new place - I have so many fun ideas and look forward to integrating lots of Young House Love's ideas from their book (and yes I owe a recap of when I met them SMH!) 
  • Lots of time just hanging out here in Jersey City - enjoying playdates with my local moms Meet-Up group, making use of our new Liberty Science Center membership, the local splash pads and pool
  • 4th of July - we have an awesome view of the skyline at our new place so we'll be staying put watching from the comfort of our apartment
  • Celebrating the new mommies in my life - I have a few friends expecting and so happy to be a good support for them!
  • Nia's 3rd birthday - leaning towards a Daniel Tiger theme!
  • Applying the key takeaways I learned at the slew of conferences I've attended in the past few weeks - I'll be disseminating the info over a few upcoming posts . . . I'll be taking a break from conferences until October's Blogalicious - hands down my favorite conference!
  • Working on my fitness as I prepare for mine and Mr. Lovebird's fall Vegas getaway (you can read about last year's trip here) 
  • The Jazz Age Lawn Party - it will be my 4th year attending, and its popularity has exploded! Despite having a ticket I almost didn't make it last year due to the super long lines, but I'm determined to get to the ferry way early this year
  • Our family reunion in Maryland - I'm excited for Nia to be surrounded by her cousins over Labor Day weekend 
Here are previous years' bucket lists: 2012 and 2011

What's on your bucket list this summer?

P.S. Be sure to enter my summer giveaway for your chance to win Kiss Nail Dress and Press-on Manicure!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Celebrate Summer With Kiss Nails: Review and Giveaway

Happy first day of summer! It's gonna be a crazy but fun one over here (follow on Instagram to see what we're up to!), and I've decided to do a fun giveaway with Kiss Nails to celebrate the first day of summer. 

Kiss sent over a bunch of fun stuff that I'm excited to show you in my vlog below! Check it out then enter my Rafflecopter giveaway below the video:

As always my giveaways have only 1 mandatory entry with the rest being optional; the giveaway ends Thursday, June 27 with the winner announced on Friday, June 28. Good luck and happy summer!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Save the Date: I'm on The Chew July 9!

So the super exciting news for those of you who don't follow me on social media is that I was over at ABC Studios with Clinton Kelly filming a segment for The Chew - the foodie version of the daytime show The View.

It all happened so fast, but I had been in discussions with the show for a few weeks and just this week it all came together for me to be on. My rule of thumb in situations like this is to wait until after something happens to say that it's happened, but once the producers asked who my guest was going to be I took to my private Facebook page to share the news and to ask who would like to be my guest!

I was overwhelemed by all the congrats and support from my friends and followers - thank you!

Here are a few sneak peeks from my Dapper Dinners segment that will air on July 9 on ABC:

With my co-guests - there was a lot of downtime in the green room and we had fun keeping each other company!

Just my back during rehearsal (probably telling Clinton how Mr. Lovebird is also a BC Eagle and fellow Communications major!)
With my guest, fellow Wellesley '02 sister Anna J. - thank you Anna for taking pics!

**A special shout out to Teresha from Marlie and Me for bringing this opportunity to my attention!**

I'll be sure to do a reminder post before the July 9 air date!

P.S. To kick off the first day of summer be sure to come back tomorrow for a special review and giveaway. Here's a clue!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Father, Your Father

It really is true that a woman's experience with her own father often sets the tone for her future relationships with men . . .

My dad set a very high standard.

And I'm so proud to see the adoration in my daughter's eyes when she is with her own father...

The bar is being set quite high yet again.

Disclosure: This post is part of a promotion with FamilySearch.


A City//Country Father's Day Weekend

::I was hoping to get this post up earlier, but there's something super exciting in the works (follow on Instagram today for a preview!)::

This was hands down the best Father's Day we've had in the almost 4 year existence of our little family (and I think this is so because I got to enjoy the gift I gave Mr. Lovebird!). He had to leave on Father's Day afternoon so we celebrated on Saturday instead after I was done with the S.H.E. Summit (which coming off of Northside Festival's NExT conference left me on a high all weekend - recap to come).

Anway, it was a fun weekend out and about the city (and the country too!); I'll let the pics explain . . . 



I was thrilled to meet Courtney Novogratz - she and her husband are part of my power couples list!
Mr. Lovebird sent a quick update of he and Nia while I was at the conference...

After he met up with me nearby for his Father's Day surprise...
DJ Scratch Academy via HowAboutWe for Couples

The braised short ribs and mushroom risotto almost did me in before the movie! SO good!

It was the kind of weekend I didn't want to end!

Am I the only one who can't believe summer starts this Friday???

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Dishwasher Challenge: Cascade Platinum Pacs #Sponsored

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Cascade. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Growing up we didn't get a dishwasher until I was in middle school, but before that I remember scrubbing by hand often muttering under my breath how I wish we had one! Of course now living in metro-NYC it's not always a guarantee either, but thankfully all of the five apartments I've lived in since moving to the city in 2007 have had dishwashers. Yes, I've been blessed!

With our focus on at-home Montessori learning, and Lil Lovebird's desire to get more involved with chores, when I was invited to give Cascade Platinum Pacs a try I know it'd fit right in with our current efforts. Cascade Platinum Pacs are triple-action capsules that are so easy for Nia to place right into the dishwasher (under my supervision, of course!). 

The colorful formula of the Cascade Platinum Pac actually has specific functions: 
  • Powers away tough, 24 hour stuck-on food
  • Eliminates the need to pre-wash dishes
  • Helps maintain the look for new machines and helps prevent hard-water film build-up
  • Delivers exceptional dishware shine

I decided to put the first two functions to the test on a pan that sat for 24 hours after I had made bacon in it (I usually make it in the oven!):

I was so tempted to pre-rinse!
Impressive, right? Besides this on my regular daily dishes I've noticed they don't require my usual rinsing and they get sparkling clean. Definitely saves me time having to re-wash dishes that still have gunk stuck on them (I hate when that happens!).

Cascade also has a fun partnership with Top Chef judge and editor of Food+Wine magazine, Gail Simmons. They've teamed up discuss why presentation is just as important as preparation and part of this is having sparkling clean dishes - something Cascade Platinum definitely helps with!

As someone who participates in "blogger grace" (i.e. taking picture of my meal before I dig in!) I really appreciate Gail's advice: 

"The easiest recipes pop with unexpected, gourmet presentations. Drizzle bright sauces on sparkling white plates or layer desserts in crystal-clean glassware. Keep your presentation sparkling with Cascade Platinum, which keeps dishes perfect for anytime entertaining and impromptu guests"

Learn more about Cascade’s partnership with Gail Simmons Cascade's Facebook page and be sure to check out their fun
#MyPlatinum Instagram contest with the chance to win weekly prizes and the grand prize full kitchen makeover by uploading pictures of your tasty meals and presentation (contest ends June 30, 2013).

To find where Cascade Platinum Pacs are in your area visit their website.

What is your relationship with your dishwasher? Are you a pre-rinser or double washer?



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