Sunday, September 21, 2014

DIY Fall floral centerpiece

It is officially fall and it is time for decorating! Historically I haven’t been into seasonal decorations but as I work on turning my house into a home, I realize little things can make a tremendous difference. Seasonal decorations are fun, easy and can be affordable if you do it correctly. I focus on one area of my home, the kitchen because it is the room that we use the most outside of our family room. It is always a treat to see a nicely decorated kitchen table, my son enthusiastically supports my decorations and sometimes helps - especially around Halloween! Before I get ahead of myself, today I’m focused on general Fall decor. And for under $30, I was able to make a very nice Fall centerpiece for my table using items from Walmart.

For my centerpiece I found artificial flowers in the floral department and a very nice assortment of vases. I am a fan of the heady orange and rust colors of the Fall and this is reflected in my arrangement. I choose a dark maroon colored vase that I was able to acquire at the low price of $9.99. It is made specifically for artificial flowers, it is NOT made to hold water. Although it looks like it is made from heavy clay, it is not and surprisingly it is quite light in weight. Although I am currently using it for a Fall arrangement, I can see myself using it throughout the year by simply changing my choice of flowers.

This time, I found a very nice arrangement featuring chrysanthemums accented with fall colored leaves and berries. It was priced at $4.99 and given the size of my vase, I was happy with only utilizing one bunch. I did want to accent the chrysanthemums and I found yellow grape berry bushes for $.97 each.

I used four bunches to complete my arrangement. The key to making a beautiful floral arrangement is to actually “arrange” the flowers. I started by placing the chrysanthemums in the vase and gently pulled on each branch until I was satisfied with the placement. Next I did the same thing with each bunch of grape berries. This process is far from scientific, I just arranged the flowers until I was satisfied. I looked for a bit of symmetry and a balance of color. I am quite happy with the final product.

In total, I spent around $20.00 for a floral centerpiece that will be in place until the Christmas holiday season. The next time you visit Walmart take a look at the floral section, I bet you’ll be surprised and inspired by the things you see!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Passport Party Project

I was 27 years old when my feet left United States soil for the first time (not counting a visit to Canada when I was 3). What I lacked in experience did not deter me from wanting to travel. All of the women in my family traveled to exotic locals like Mexico, Venezuela, Ghana and the Caribbean. 
Never one to listen to conventional wisdom, rather than travel and then study I did the opposite.

Prior to obtaining a fellowship that would take me on my international journey, I completed a Masters degree in International Affairs. It worked out quite well for me! My first trip to me to South Africa, via London.

Raving in London

With an overnight stay in London I took full advantage and visited museums, Buckingham Palace, ate Chinese food (it is great there), the requisite fish and chips, and got my party on in Brixton. We departed the next day for Johannesburg, South Africa and as they say, the rest is history! 

I lived and worked in South Africa for over 2 years and loved every minute of it. I visited so many countries that I had to obtain extra pages for my passport. Although there were some very rough times when I lived overseas (like many in South Africa, I was a victim of crime) I would not change that experience for anything in the world. 

My mom was not too keen about the giraffe up close and personal

My favorite place. Kozi Bay, South Africa on the Indian Ocean

Nothing beats safari, the Indian Ocean, souk dancing in Zambia, white water rafting on the Zambezi and Victoria Falls! I left South Africa begrudgingly but my ties to the continent and love of international never faded.

I’ve tried to incorporate at least one international trip annually into my life. Having  my son has not deterred me. I am fortunate because my work has enabled me to open the world to my son too. His first international travel was at 4 and again at 5. This year we have applied for his passport and in just a few weeks we will be journeying to Turks and Caicos. At 7 my son will obtain his first passport stamp and I feel so very blessed to provide this opportunity for him. This will be my second international trip this year, you may recall in May I was on a mission trip to Ethiopia and it was truly life changing.

When I returned from Ethiopia I was asked to be on the advisory board of The Passport Party Project. “A rite of passage for underserved American girls ages 11-15, a fun and informative global awareness initiative that will not only gift 100 underserved American girls with their very first passports, but will help create responsive and responsible global citizens as well.” I was ecstatic! In my capacity I help spread the word about the program and mentor the young women who participate. I can’t think of a better way to influence a young woman and help her to realize that the world is truly her oyster!

If you know an American girl between the ages of 11-15 who currently DOES NOT have a passport but would like to take the journey of a lifetime, PLEASE encourage her to apply! Applications are currently being accepted until October 1st. Next year, 10 young women will travel to the Guadaloupe Islands and stay at a teen villa provided by Home Away and I know they will have an amazing time! Too many of us have barriers (real or imagined) for international travel, won’t you help break down the barriers for a young woman this year?

Find out more at The Passport Party Project! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fall beauty look

My fall makeup look

Today was the first true Fall like day here in Georgia. The temperature is 72 degrees but it feels chilly to me. Before you tell me that 72 degrees isn’t cool, please understand that I spent Saturday in the beaming hot sun enjoying a concert in 90 degree plus weather. Sweat was rolling down my face but I do enjoy heat much more than cold. I was hoping that we would gently ease into Fall but if today is any indication, the Fall has arrived with a vengeance and the time has come for me to put away all of my sundresses and shorts!

One thing that I do like about the Fall is changing up my make-up. I do like the richer hues that are suited for cool weather and this Fall is no exception. I was able to attain some very reasonably priced things from Walmart that will carry me straight through the winter. This Fall it is all about the cat eye and smoky hot lips. Dark lips are totally in (But note - I am not a fan of the blue lip thing that is happening. I think it is a complete fashion don’t. Just my humble opinion but I have yet to see it look good in real life. I think it is best left on the runway or in high fashion magazines. Some things are NOT to be emulated).

For my Fall look today I focused on deep purple. I love purple, it is my absolute favorite color. My guest room is purple, my bedroom is lavender, I simply LOVE purple! Since it is Fall I decided to experiment with purple! I start by keeping my eyes fairly neutral with a pop of purple on the outer lid. The wow factor comes in with my purple lip! 

What I like about this look is that I can wear it during and by intensifying the color smoothly transition into night. To ensure my eye shadow stays in place, I start with Hard Candy’s Eyes the Limit Eye Shadow primer ($5.00). It minimizes creasing (I actually haven’t had any creasing using this product) and it helps the eye color pop. I followed by using two Hard Candy pallets - naturally gorgeous ($6.00)  and smoke out ($6.00). Naturally gorgeous has colors to help achieve the perfect nude look and smoke out assists with the smoky eye. I used a brown for my entire eyelid. I followed by highlighting the center of my lip with metallic gold. I moved on to smoke out and used the deepest purple for the outer corners of my eyes. I used white for my inner corner, doing this helps brighten my eyes. I used a blending brush and blended completely.

For my liner I used old faithful - Maybelline’s waterproof Ultra Liner ($5.97). I love it because the brush gives you the ability to make as thick or thin a line as you like. I am into the cat eye so I took the liner out past my eyelid to achieve the look. For my mascara I used Hard Candy 1.000 lashes fiberized lash weave mascara ($6.00). I like this a lot! The fibers help my lashes look longer. For my cheeks I used Hard Candy’s  Blush Crush Baked Blush in Bomb Shell ($7.00)

My lips are the focal point of this look. I used Hard Candy’s Shadowholic 12 hour waterproof eye crayon in Purple Rain($5.00). Yes, I know, an eyeshadow on the lips, but believe it or not it works extraordinarily well. I top it off with a little gloss and I am ready to go! If you’d like to see how I applied everything take a look at my video below!

I really like this Fall look and am happy with my Hard Candy Pallets. They have 10 colors in each and enough variety for me to create numerous looks for a minimal investment. Bring on the Fall and Winter, I am make-up ready!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dr. Oz in Atlanta! Bringing Healthy Back #DrOzOn2

My mom loves Dr. Oz. Whenever she is in town she watches his show religiously. Although I don't watch television often, I do like to catch The Dr. Oz show because it is so informative and inspires me to continue living my healthy lifestyle. Here in Atlanta starting on Monday, September 8th at 3PM the show is moving to WSB-TV Channel 2. I am especially excited because on Saturday, September 13th “USANA Presents: Bringing Healthy Back with Dr. Oz.” Health Expo will be held here in Atlanta! The expo is sponsored by
Channel 2 WSB-TV 
in conjunction with
Piedmont Hospital, Alere, Covidien, and Linx. During the Expo there will be "90 Minutes to a Healthier You" shows that have an all star lineup of experts - including Dr. Oz who will share tips and advice on health, fitness and nutrition. The shows are from 11am-12:45pm and 2pm -3:45pm.  

Event Details

USANA Presents: Bringing Healthy Back with Dr. Oz

Location: Downtown Hilton

255 Courtland Street, NE, Atlanta GA

Time: 9am-5PM

Registration: The Expo is free but registration is encouraged! If you want to attend 90 Minutes to A Healthier You (details below) registration is REQUIRED! Click here to register

WSB-TV Anchors (Jovita Moore, Justin Farmer, Karen Minton, Katie Walls, Glenn Burns, Linda Stouffer) will be at the Health Expo and you can meet them! Jovita and Justin will also be MC’ing the “90 Minutes to a Healthier You” show here are some details on the lineup!

  • David Buer, Atlanta-based Sharecare Fitness Expert and celebrity trainer of people like Tyler Perry and Joey Lawrence, will also attend and demystify frustrating fitness myths and misconceptions about working out.  He will also motivate you to adopt a more active and fun lifestyle with simple and effective workout routines that you can do anywhere without any equipment.

  • Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, Chief Doctor at Sharecare, will show you how to use health management gadgets, use your smartphone as a personal health consultant, and demonstrate free health apps to help your health needs.

  • Dr. David Wentz, CEO of USANA Health Sciences (a nutritional supplements company) and author of The Healthy Home, will point out the simple ways to protect your family from hidden household dangers.

  • Chefs Crystal Hoang and Seth Hendricks (of the restaurant Goin’ Coastal) will give Southern favorites a healthy makeover to keep the dishes low in fat and calories, but high on flavor.

And by attending the expo you have a chance to meet Dr. Oz! At the Health Expo, WSB-TV will host a Twitter contest for those who are on-site. Two people who tweet the most about the Health Expo will get to meet Dr. Oz. More information about the contest will be revealed at the Health Expo.
Follow the social conversation at #DrOzOn2.

I'm excited and the expo and really looking forward to meeting Dr. Oz!
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Disclosure: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post. All opinions are my own. 


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Let there be light: Depression, dancing and great friends!

Music makes me high!

The past two weekends have been incredible! They were filled with friends, family, fun, laughter and dancing. Lots and lots of dancing! This has been a turning point of sorts for me because over the last four months or so I’ve been struggling with dysthymia ( otherwise know as chronic depression). This is nothing new for me, I’ve battled with it on and off since childhood. It manifests in general malaise, over indulgence and lack of motivation.  Although I’ve taken medication in the past, for two years I’ve been able to keep depression at bay by exercising; however this time around I lost the motivation to get up and do it. So, I spiralled down into the abyss while keeping up the pretense of things being generally okay.

Familiar with the cycle, I know I’ve made some poor decisions but I have been able to stay afloat which is meaningful. I am sure you are wondering how this links to my excellent weekends, well, being surrounded by my friends and keeping my soul filled with music has helped me to get back on track. My dysthymia has not gone away but I have become more organized and motivated which ultimately will lead to physical exercise. And the endorphins? Well they keep me level and hopefully I will return to my normal self fairly quickly.

Ivan and I with city lights

Last weekend I was visited by my college friend Ivan who helped me tremendously (Ivan is an exceptional graphic artist and web designer. I’m not biased - well maybe a little - check him out if you are looking for great work!)  We spent the majority of our time together painting.  An ominous task considering the sheer size of the place and our limited time but we did it. I have to give him props.  One day I was talking to him about living in my house for 7 years and never making it a home (only my son’s room and the guest room are painted). He volunteered to visit and help transform my house into a home.

I get by with a little help from my friend! 
After about 15 hours of labor, the finished product! 

I am absolutely enamored with my new room. The bright yellow and lavender colors make it almost impossible for me to stay in bed upon waking. We used Behr Premium paint and the walls are just fabulous even with only one coat of paint! In addition to painting,  Ivan and I enjoyed sushi (my favorite!), celebrated his birthday (and a reward for his hard work) at my favorite seafood restaurant Lure. We also  spent some time with my friends. An absolute ball and believe it or not, being “busy” helped me get motivated in ways I never imagined. I am going to tackle my closet next but will NOT post a before photo because I can’t let you in on ALL the crazy! The only thing that was missing from an otherwise perfect weekend was dancing. But Labor Day weekend made up for it!

I’ve spoken about my love of dance in the past but I was fully emerged in music, fellowship and dancing this weekend. House in the Park is an annual event that culminates with a huge bbq/cookout/dance party in Grant Park. But for the past three years “Weekender Events” have been held starting the Thursday before the big event. I wasn’t able to get out Thursday (sadly I missed the Prince party) and Friday but I was busy through Labor Day! 

I started by dancing at my girlfriend Allison’s event Celebrate! A Day Party that is not to be missed if you are ever visiting Atlanta. I started dancing around 5 and didn’t stop until the party ended at 10pm!
I moved on to two more parties (conveniently located across the street) Sounds of the City and The Return of KemeticJust. I stayed out until 1:45am. I did have dinner between Celebrate and these parties but I’d say that was just an hour. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE to DANCE? 

Dancing early in the festivities HITP
Sunday was House in the Park (HITP), it was hot as HADES but I loved it. It was like a college reunion, bbq and dance party. What’s not to like?

I visited friends, ate, drank and was merry! Reminiscent of Christmas in August! I had a ball. After the event ended at 8pm, I went home took a shower and a disco nap then hit the streets at 11 for the after party. I literally did not leave the dance floor except to get some water - TWICE and closed the place down at 3AM. But I wasn’t done yet! On Monday, I went to the Soundtracking of our lives Tour Brunch Party featuring all women DJs.

DJ Lynnée Denise was on FIRE! 

I did rest up during the day so I only made it for an hour but I heard DJ Lynée Denise spin and it was bananas! Check out the video below and check out a few of my moves. Allison shot it and says I have energizer bunny inside of me, I'd venture to say I have two or three! Dancing is my favorite exercise and I go HARD!

Oh these past two weekend have given me LIFE! I’d almost forgotten how GREAT friends and awesome music can affect my mood. As a result of theses weekends things around here have changed. I have awakened every morning to a beautiful room that gives me the energy I need to start my days. I listen to house music and get my groove on which activates me mind, body and soul. And I think I am finally reaching the light at the end of tunnel. For this, I am grateful!

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