Things I learned from my mother

In honor of mother’s day I decided to share some life long lessons I have learned from my mother that has shaped the woman that I am today and can apply to almost anything.

Now my mother didn’t actually tell me everything I am sharing but some of these are implied by how she lives her life.

mom and me

Get out and do something

A funny thing happened with my mom in my teen years. She started to become more active (or so I noticed) in life. She went vacationing overseas, bought a new home. Later she went back to church, started exercising, went to all sorts of shows and events. Even some I begged to join her in but she only wanted to do with “her girls”, making me feel like the mom and she the bratty teen. Even after she retired she kept moving. Made herself a crew (the above mentioned girls) and continued to travel. She even did a solo trip to California for over a week.

When people ask me why I am always down to do hang out or seem to have so much energy, I can say “I get it from my mama”. We have plenty of time to just lay on the couch and watch TV but we only get one life to live.

Keep pursuing the excellence

My mom is a hard worker and expected the best of us. She always encouraged my sister and I to succeed and strive in school and at work and that is a motto I never forgot. She made it clear that we have to give 110% in this world even if other groups didn’t have to work so hard. And she wanted to make sure we had a better life than she did. I never forget that and it has formed my work ethic and led to much success.

Don’t let others limit you

My mom achieved a lot in her career and she never let naysayers/haters or whoever decide what she could and couldn’t do. Because of that spirit I made choices in my life to pursue options that others said weren’t for me. I graduated second in my high school class and did well on my SATs. When I went to my counselor to consider what schools to go to, I was only given local, fourth tiered colleges. I didn’t want to consider that I was only given these options because of my race but it does stay in the back of my mind. Nevertheless, I applied to those fourth tier schools but I also applied to several first tier schools. I even got accepted into an Ivy League university. Had I listened to the counselor I would have short changed myself.

Clean on Saturdays

Well this one is just practical. And though I don’t always do this it makes good sense. Then you can fully enjoy the rest of your weekend, including resting on Sundays. That’s what they are for.

Be giving, even to those who may not deserve it

This is a tough one. I watched my mom on many occasions be giving of her time and money to those who I wasn’t sure really appreciated it or, honestly, deserved it based on their treatment of her. But my mother believed in karma and just continuing to be a good person despite the behavior of others. In the end she has lived a great life because of it. This is a hard one but a lesson I keep at the forefront of mind when I’m ready to be full “Petty LaBelle” like.

Wear control tops

Another practical tip. My mom insists that my sister and I wear control top stockings and other undergarments. She swears that because she’s worn these all of her adult life that this is the reason her stomach is not big. I don’t know if that’s true but I’ve been wearing them since I was a teen.

Cheddar makes it better

And just for fun. My mom insists on loading her baked mac and cheese with cheddar cheese. And I do the same and, yes, it does make it better…

Love your mom!mother's day

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Sheet Mask Decoded

I am a sheet mask fanatic. This Korean trend that is now The Beauty must is my favorite way to tackle skin issues without the mess of regular masks. Sure you might look a bit like Hannibal Lector or Jason but hey, don’t look in the mirror.

Beyond the weird look factor, the differing types of masks can be overwhelming. So here’s my guide to which masks to buy (regardless of brand) based on your skin issues.

You can really pick any brand although some brands have more options than others. For newbies I recommend going for affordable brands you can find at  Ulta or Sephora or even drug stores (any place from Walmart to CVS sells them although with more limited options). Brands I like are Tony Moly, Miss Spa, Skinfood, Yesto, Sephora Band and Boscia.

 

Acne/Oily Skin- Masks with these ingredients are good for handling acne flare-ups and oily skin

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Tee Tree- great for healing the skin and acne

Anything with the word Detox or Clarifying- Anything that helps with cleaning out pores is good for you

Charcoal- also great at detoxifying

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Rice- great for helping with oily skin

Red Wine- pore tightening

Cucumber- also great for pores

Aloe- great for helping with acne

 

Dull Skin- these masks are all wonderful for helping with dry skin issues and bringing out a glowing and brightening tone

Hyaluronicmasks-hyaluronic-acid

Proposes and Bee

Aloe

Avocado

Rosemask-rose

Snail Gel

Vitamin C

 

Dry skin/Wrinkles- Masks with these ingredients help soothe dry skin and attack wrinkles

Gold Caviar masks-caviar

Seaweed

Pomegranate

Collagen

Retinol

Cucumbermasks-cucumbers

Now go experiment away and try not to scare anyone with your masks!

 

Beauty Haul: ColourPop

So some time ago I made a beauty purchase to ColourPop (my favorite inexpensive lippie, eyeshadow, and blush brand) and so I’m giving you a quick review of my purchases.

 

Lips: Metallics Jam, 3 way, Zebra

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I think they look great on medium brown skin. 3 way and Zebra are stand alone for your lips. Make sure your lips aren’t too dry as it can highlight lip lines. Jam looks better topped over another color, especially a nude color. It gives a nice pop as a center lip highlighter.

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 Cheeks: Swift Blush and Candyman Highlighter

Both are fabulous on my skin tone. Swift gives my cheeks a bit of color and it’s not overpowering. Especially if I’m going for more of a bold eye or lip look. Candyman gives my skin a nice highlight and is now one of my favorites.

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Here are some looks with the blush, highlighter and lips (zebra then 3 way)

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Hope this helps!

 

 

It’s a New Year But Focus on the Now.

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happy-new-year-2015So each year we start with resolutions and hopes that this new year will be Our Year. Then things don’t go our way and as the year comes to a close we feel more beaten down and then repeat our mantra for the next year. I don’t know about you but I’m over that. I just want to be enjoy each year, each day, as it comes.

So for the new year I say focus on being in the moment and focus on the positive, creative and smart energy you need to get you to full realization of your dreams.

Easier said than done, right?

I’m, after all, a type A gal. My mind is always racing and causing me worry or stress. I sometimes think I can think my way into achieving my dreams. And yes positive thinking can work but not just overanalyzing or rehashing things you can’t control. Instead be in the moment you are in and focus on positivity as if you have achieved what you already want. I want to be thin, successful in my writing ventures, successful with my travel brand, married, a mother and so forth. Some of these things are within your control and others are not. The best you can do is push away the worry and be happy in your day to day with the expectation that you will get what you want.

So some quick things I use to help me keep my energy positive and be in the moment:

Apps

Rhonda Byrne Dailypedia App– This is basically The Secret in daily messages to you to help you stay in positive thinking

Headspaceheadspace– Awesome meditation app

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Away

From Social Media- I have found that social media, especially Instagram and Facebook can be a root of all evil.  Comparing yourself to other people, feeling less than. People are only showing you the good sides of their lives. Don’t believe the hype we all have problems. social-media

Go somewhere- For me my happy place is traveling and it’s an awesome way to be in the moment, especially if that moment is on a beach

Stay

Build your happiness- If you can’t get away you can find ways to recreate your good vacation vibes at home. Think about vacations you loved and what made them enjoyable. Relaxing in a peaceful environment? Make a trip to the spa. Exploring a city? Check out your city or a nearby one as if you were a tourist. Having a great meal? Book a nice place in your town.

Make your home or a space in your home your sanctuary- I love a good smelling house, warm, low lights and candles. Turn the TV off for a while and read a book or write something. Of work on another creative venture. Basically do something you really like even if it’s for an hour. spa

Say and Feel Thanks

This is the most important one of all and can be easy to take for granted or to forget about when we are feeling down. One way to help you be in a thankful mode is to write down on a note card all the things you are thankful for, both big and small. Place it somewhere you can see often to remember. This will also put you in the feeling of thanks as you remember those things you are thankful for. Whenever I hit frustration over not yet achieving a goal I step back and think about the things I have achieved. Puts me in a better space and actually helps me work out the barriers I might have that are preventing me from reaching my goals. there-is-always-something-to-be-thankful-for

Well I hope this helps! Happy New Year!!!

 

Four Easy Inexpensive Holiday Glam Looks

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It’s the holidays and between Christmas parties and New Year’s Eve parties, this is a busy glam look season. Here are a few quick looks for the gal who likes make up but doesn’t want to go super duper heavy.

Those Red Lips

This is super simple. Keep the eyes bare and go for the lashes with Maybelline the Falsies Push Up Angel mascara (I’m no good with false lashes so I’m all about a good mascara and this one is The Truth). Cheeks are simple pink (this is Wet n Wild Coloricon in Mellow Wine  ). On the lips go for that matte red (L.A. Girls Matte in Frisky). In the alternative, you can line the eyes with a dark pencil (black, brown, or navy blue), smudge the lines with a finger or angled brush and go over the lids with a  bronze eyeshadow. Lips can be dark red or plum (I used Colourpop Lax)

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Heavy Metal

Here is all about the bronze eyes and metallic lips. I used my urban decay Chocolate pallet mixing differing shades of gold and brown. You can use any  eyeshadows just use the darkest brown in the outer corners and the lower lash line, a lighter brown on the lids and the gold on the center of the lids. Line the eyes with black pencil. Used my Push up Mascara again. On my cheeks is Essence Silky Touch Blush in Autumn Peach with Avalon highlighter and on the lips is 3 Way from ColourPop.

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Two Eye Focused Looks

Green Smokey Eyes

I used green eyeliner (any kind) around the eyes, then on the lid I used green metallic eye shadow from M.A.C. (the name rubbed off), in the outer corners and lower lash line I used Bae from ColourPop. On the center lid I used Nillionare also from ColourPop. Remember to blend, blend, blend. Lashes is Push up mascara again on bottom and top. On my cheeks I used Colourpop Swift and highlighted tips of nose, under my brows, corners of my eyes and top of my cheeks with Candyman also by Colourpop. I lined my lips in a brownish pink (or pinkish brown) from NYX and filled it in with Colourpop Rayezor and went over it with My Jam.

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Quick Cut Crease Eye

I’ve been eyeing the cut crease look for a while but is not an easy look to accomplish. But I gave it a go. Here’s my shortish natural cut crease look as I didn’t want it to stand out too much. This look is great on camera but can be too much for being out in the real world so subtle is best. Use a yellowish/ beige color on the lids, line the top of your crease using an angled brush with dark brown shadow. Also line the bottom lashes with that brown. Using a blending brush go over, with a light touch, the top of the crease with more dark brown shadow. Wing all of this out. Go back over the lid with the beige shadow for any cleanup. For more perfection get a concealer bush and do the touch ups to make the line standout (I even used some concealer for clean up). Do a black cat eye wing on top and line the bottom water line and do a highlight in the inner corners of the eye. Mascara, light peachy blush, some highlighter, pinkish lips. Done. The look is in that eye for that 60s vibe.

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New Post to come in the new year. Until then happy glam-filled Holidays!

Quick Cook: Spice Cake

So for the holidays I’m usually on desert duty. My sister and mom are excellent cooks and they don’t like to give up certain dishes to me. I get it. I’m not a sit in front of the stove all day make everything like your grandma use to make kind o gal. Baking is my thing. Mix the right ingredients, put it in the oven, keep it stepping.

This past Thanksgiving I made a Quick and Tasty  Spice cake. So here is what I did.

Ingredients

2 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 1/4 stick of butter, softened

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

3/4 cup butter milk

finely chopped nuts for garnish

butter cream frosting (any kind from the store)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8-9 inch round cake pans with cooking spray. In a small mixing bowl whisk cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.  In a large bowl cream the butter, sugar and salt with electric mixer until cake-1

fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the dry ingredients and the buttermilk alternately ending with the dry. After mixing  divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake for 25 minutes. Use a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes to check to see if it’s done (the toothpick should come out clean).  Wait until completely cool.

Take first cake out and put butter cream icing on top. Put on second layer and spread icing on top and on the sides.  Garnish with the finely chopped nuts.

Done! cake-2

Yum.

Ultimate Guide to Solo Travel

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So I got published in another travel group website called Wanderful regarding tips for the black female solo travel. I encourage you to check out the information whether you are a woman of color or not or even if you are going with friends overseas. Thanks!

http://www.sheswanderful.com/2016/11/29/solo-travel-for-black-women/

Where to Go If the Election Goes Bad

If your candidate didn’t win or she did and you simply just want some rest after all of that political craziness, here are a couple of places to visit (or stay) to start a new.

Amsterdam– I love a smaller city that is accessible on foot or bike. Amsterdam is a huge biking community. It’s very diverse racially and thought wise. There’s great shopping, eating, and a nice music scene. Also you don’t have to be an expert in Dutch to understand what’s going on. Very welcoming and not too foreign from a liberal, artistic way of life that a U.S. urban cosmo girl should know. amsterdam_reflections_by_matthias_haker-d6tz532

Florence– I fell in love with this city. It’s another smaller town with history and beauty. Shopping is nice, the food is amazing and you aren’t too far from vineyards if you are a wine person. I also found, at the time that I visited, it to be affordable living wise. My sister and I happened upon a real estate office in our wandering and seriously considered purchasing a vacation house (we didn’t get it). A great town to unwind and just enjoy life.florence-italy

Dublin– So the weather isn’t too great here but maybe that’s why the people are so friendly (well probably it’s the whisky) to stay happy. I think the mood of the city is the reason why I picked it for this list. A nice contrast to the angry atmosphere in this past election among the other negativities and injustices occurring. It was nice to visit a town where everyone smiled and said Hi. dublin_h

Puerto Rico, San Juan– So I know that this is a US territory so it’s not far escaping but it’s still an escape. The weather is great, the food is delish (if you can’t tell I’m all about the food) and the music scene is quite nice. Also it has a lot of US chains here so if you want something different but not ready for a big leap this is a good option. And you know, the beach. san_juan_condado_beach_puerto_rico

Cuba– I’ve never been here but why not strike while the iron is hot since we now can visit Cuba and flights are pretty cheap. Indulge in Cuban rum and cigars (which you can now send home to the US if you return). Not sure if you can work here but it’s nice for an escape with the music, food, and vibrant scene. cuba

Toronto– Another place on my visit list. A major plus is that it’s close. It’s diverse, artistic, and pretty busy with lots to do. With festivals, a good food scene, shopping and parks, seems like a nice escape to me from some of the tenseness going on in the U.S. Plus they said we could come if the election didn’t work out. canada-toronto-1

Fun and Quick Halloween Costume Designs for the Cosmo Gal

So in the spirit of Halloween I thought I couldn’t let my birth month end without a post on fun Halloween costumes for the urban gal who wants to look made up but not on a huge budget.

I am a huge Halloween gal so I have a bag stuffed with costume ideas. And if you are a makeup gal like me this is a great time of year to go all out with your looks. Here are some ideas I’ve tried or seen that are great for a gal who wants a cute (or just fun) look without a high cost.

Dark Fairy

This is a super easy one to do. All you need is a black dress or black separates, some black wings and maybe a head piece. You can also add fishnets and elf ears. But the key is the makeup. Some people are super skilled here but I am more average. All you may need outside of your normal makeup pallet is some white paint or liner.  Go with a smoky  and lined up eye, dark contouring/blush, some highlighter on the tops of your cheekbones. Then I added some black and white dots above the brow. I then did some creative liners outside the eye with the black and white pencils. Finish off with dark lips.

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Black Cat

This is a simple and fun look. All you need are some ears, maybe a tail and a collar. Wear all black. The rest is makeup. Here is a fun and easy look to copy below.

cat

Fallen Angel

Another easy and creative idea that is a play on words. An angel that literally fell and hurt herself. You need some wings and a halo and all white outfit. I slightly bent the halo, stuck some leaves in my hair, Band-Aid on my forehead and wrapped my hand.

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Vampire/zombie

For a zombie look just cut up a shirt, add some red paint, makeup. On the face do red shadow up to the brow and below the eye. Go over with dark eyeshawdow above and below. Use a black pencil for wavy lines below the eyes. If you are going zombie use the liner to make z shaped “scars” on your face add two short horizontal lines across the Z lines. Using red lipstick or pencil add “blood” around the lips. Go for dark lips.

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Goddess

This is a glamourous option. On the eyes go for gold/bronze colors. Line the upper lids with a gold eyeliner out to a cat eye. Copy that with black pencil on the bottom. Highlight cheekbones, tip of nose, inner corners of eyes and inside brow bone. Finish with some red lips and top with red glitter.

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Cleopatra

Blue shadow, highlight brow bone. The real look is in the liner as shown below. You can go however you like but this is a common and easy look.

cleopatra

Cartoon

This is a super easy look. For this I would go with face paint to help really make the look pop. White dots on the face (I’ve also seen this done with red and just as effective), blue to make tears under the eye and outline with black pencil. Outline the nose, eyes, lips, jaw, a line under the cheekbone, collar bone (and cleavage if you want) with black pencil. Red lip and white rectangle shape on the bottom lip to emulate shine. If you want to add more emotion you can do two short vertical black lines between the eyebrows. Painting on the Pow sign is optional.

cartoon

Happy Halloween!

Money Saving Weekend in NYC

So I’ve been to New York City several times. Mainly to Manhattan and Brooklyn. So I should really be ashamed that I’ve never blogged about my travels there before. If you know my blog you know that I’m a girl that likes to shop and dine within a reasonable budget. With that in mind I thought I’d take you through a good weekend for a cosmo gal.

Now this is really a mini guide and not all encompassing. I’ve written other posts about how to plan a perfect trip tailored to your needs. I also am not going to go into all the touristy things you should do while here. By now everyone knows about the staples: Statute of Liberty, Empire State Building, the MET, Broadway… So instead I’m going to break this down to food and shopping (the nightlife is seriously overwhelming so I wouldn’t dare direct you on what to do, I suggest going to Yelp and keying in words that meet what you are looking for like R&B, martini, happy hour).

Where to Stay

Typically I go to SoHo when I come to NYC because it’s near the shopping I like. Nothing is cheap lodging wise in this city but I like to stay at the Holiday Inn Express in SoHo. it’s pretty reasonable.  However, my most recent stay led me to a unique hotel called the Yotel. Several major cities world wide have this brand and it’s supposed to be this automated boutique hotel for a less expensive price.

 

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When I first got to the place I was confused. The theme of the hotel is like a plane. They have a couple of greeters at the door with “mission control to major tom” t -shirts (homage to the David Bowie song). But then you go and check yourself in! I went to one of many computer kiosks, put in some information and out pops a receipt and my card key. Hmm, so then I take an elevator to my room which is labeled as a flight number or cabin on my receipt.

Once inside, the room is super modern and super tiny. There is no closet. Pretty much a bed that can electronically move back and position like a couch and then goes all the way down. Flat screen TV and a tiny desk/night stand. There is a small area to put a suitcase and hang clothes and you can also store under bed. Behind a curtain is the bathroom area with shower, a window, safe, iron/ironing board and sink with decent counter space and a fabulous lit mirror making it perfect for selfies!

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Overall, I did like the hotel but you have to be comfortable with the person you are staying with because there is no privacy. And I’m not a fan of the movable bed, I need a sturdier mattress. Also there is something to that live human interaction. I tried to call before I arrived and was never able to reach anyone. I also emailed and left voice mail messages. Nada. The hotel had an information desk with people so that was helpful and it did have a restaurant and cool rooftop bar so you weren’t totally on your own. There is also a gym. I’d say it’s a cool idea but there is something to hospitality.

Where to Eat

I’m a foodie but not much of  a snob about it. I’ve eaten at several places so like nightlife I can’t tell you where to eat. It’s best to Yelp it up and explore on your own. However, if you try Chinese or Italian you  are on the right path. I’m not a huge chain person but since many of the local chains in NYC are only in those areas, it’s new to me! I like the local chain Ollies for Chinese food. For breakfast I went to Friedman’s and it was super delish. Get there early like before 10am early. Juniors, a diner type restaurant, also has great American food with a selection of cheese cake to make the calories worth it all. If cheesecake isn’t your thing you must try Magnolia for their cupcakes. Another local chain that was randomly featured in Sex and the City, I usually check it out when I’m in town. They also have an online shop. Yum. As a side note, I found out about that shop on a Sex and the City Bus tour which I would definitely recommend if they still have it.

Where to Shop

Ok if you are a Gucci, Prada girl this is not the post for you. I love shopping and my idea of splurge shopping is buying full price at Banana Republic. No judgement for those who do the high end I just can’t do that and travel. So when I’m out and about finding cute clothes and beauty on a budget is my goal and NYC is great for that.

The local beauty supply stores in Manhattan have everything. Recently I went to Beauty 35 near Hells Kitchen and they had all of the lower brand beauty and hair goods. Also check out E.L.F. Cosmetics store in SoHo. If you are into monthly beauty box subscriptions Birchbox has a store in SoHo as well. 

For department stores check out Macys Flagship and for some deals go by Century 21 an inexpensive department store

For costume jewelry, I love So Good Jewelry also in SoHo. It’s a large shop with all types of costume jewelry that fits every type. If you have the patience also check out Hells Kitchen Flea Market on a Saturday. There’s a lot of crap there but some really funky jewelry pieces and I always walk away with something (and you can haggle so that’s a plus).

For clothes, here is my caveat: I only go cheap for trendy pieces that aren’t timeless, casual and evening tops and summer dresses.  Treat yo self when it comes to work wear and jeans. So if you want some cheapie items I typically stop by Mystique Boutique (has an online store), Amsterdam, Necessary Clothing, Uniqlo, Buffalo Exchange (a chain vintage store, also located in DC). In general once you are in this area I say just walk around and you’ll find a lot. So maybe just pin point one of the boutiques for directions and then take off and explore. You’re also near a lot of good eats near Canal street. And if you want to go mainstream like H&M or high end, there are plenty of those places around as well.

Enjoy your time and I hope this helps!