Month: December 2015

Monday Morning Memo – Year-End Advice from Oprah

year end inspirational quote oprahyear end inspirational quote oprah

"Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right." - Oprah Winfrey

#31Days31Gifts – Christmas at the Beach

Merry Christmas with santa hat from the tropical beachMerry Christmas with santa hat from the tropical beach
Merry Christmas, everyone!!! On this day when people gather with family, what could make even more special than to gather somewhere tropical and warm? I actually have quite a few friends who forego the typical gift exchange and instead take family trips around the globe for Christmas. As someone who was raised in white winters in the Northeast, I can think of few things I would enjoy more than sinking my toes into the sand while surrounded by the people I love and celebrating my God. That sounds simply marvelous!

#31Days31Gifts – For The Tech Diva

Everyone is constantly connected to their phones - so you can never go wrong by gifting someone a charger, mobile speaker, or other portable tech goodies. Take the gift up another notch by finding one with a few sparkles or a girly color or design. Here are a few options below to check out!

#31Days31Gifts – May the Force Be With You

plus size star wars sweaterSo, unless you've been living under a rock somewhere, you know that Star Wars: The Force Awakens has hit movie theaters and is breaking box-office records left and right. In case you'd like to show your allegiance to The Force, check out these cute plus-size Star Wars-themed shirts, sweaters, and accessories!

#31Days31Gifts – Briefcase Totes Fit for a Boss

One thing every professional woman needs is some sort of handbag that can double as a briefcase. While most offerings come in neutral colors and dull designs, if you do a bit of digging, you can find some fashionable and stylish picks at every price point. Whether you - or your giftee - is the front desk receptionist or the c-suit ceo - here are just a few offerings that might make a great buy this holiday season!




#31Days31Gifts – Gifts For the Nina Simone Fan

gifts for the nina simone fanGrowing up, I didn't like Nina Simone. Or, it's probably more accurate to say, I didn't "get" Nina Simone.

I was a musical theater kid. I spent my days listening to Sarah Brightman (aka Idina Menzel for Generation X), memorizing lyrics to Broadway hits like "Les Miserables" (which could only be pronounced "Lay Mizz" with a faux French accent), and lamenting over casting changes and whatever other gossip my theater-geek friends and I could get our hands on from back issues of Playbill.

So, when my dad would turn on old records of Nina Simone, I would wail and cringe, howling for him to turn off that "noise." I just couldn't understand why anyone would want to listen to her voice. I believe I might have described it using words like "nasal" and "pitchy." (Oh, the youthful arrogance and snobbery a few vocal lessons would bring.) But he would just sit back, close his eyes and groove to her sound.

And I never understood it...until I became a grown black woman.

A grown black woman in a world of microaggressions, where we must constantly argue that BlackLivesMatter and implore the authorities to SayHerName.

Now, I sit at the altar of the High Priestess of Soul.

I don't just listen to Nina Simone's music. I experience it. Because, what I didn't realize as a child, but fully know now, is that her words - her intonations, her tempo, and yes, even her sometimes "nasal" and "pitchy" lamentations - gave voice to something that largely remained unarticulated. Not because people were afraid to say it - indeed, the 1960s and 1970s were filled with marches and protests. Rather, she expressed it in a sadly beautiful way that turned the sorrows of the oppressed into art. And I'm not just speaking of African-Americans, although her work largely did speak to racial inequality ("To Be Young, Gifted, and Black", "Mississippi G--d---", etc.). She also gave a voice to women of every stripe, including the long-suffering wife ("The Other Woman") and oppressed Black women everywhere ("Four Women").

So, like any other fan, I have the various anthologies of her work. But, if you - or another fan - want to take your fandom to the next level, might I suggest any of the following gift items:

gifts for the nina simone fan

  • Nina Simone Decorative Pillow - Wouldn't this make the perfect addition to your home library or any place where you listen to music or read books?
  • Framed Transparency of Lyric to "Feeling Good" - Containing a lyric from one of her most well-known songs, this wall art is absolutely beautiful!
  • Netflix gift card - So people have been buzzing for months about the acclaimed documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone?, which includes rare and previously unseen imagery and recordings. Now, I have to admit, I have yet to watch this documentary...everyone I've talked to assures me that it's pretty depressing. Perhaps I will muster up the will to do so over the holiday break.
  • Nina Revisited: A Tribute to Nina Simone - This tribute album includes recordings of some of Nina's best known songs by some of today's hottest soul and R&B artists, including Jazmine Sullivan, Lalah Hathaway, Usher, Mary J. Blige, and, of course, the great Lauryn Hill. Hot. Fire.

  • If you were not already a fan of Nina Simone's work, I hope that this post has inspired you to check out her work...even if only a few clips on YouTube. Wait until just the right moment...when you've felt overlooked, picked on, left out and like nobody can understand what you're feeling. Then press play. I promise, you, too, will become a convert.

    #31Days31Gifts – Turn Your Bathroom Into a Spa!

    turn your bathroom into a spaturn your bathroom into a spa

    Anyone who knows me know that I love to spa. (Yes, I use the word "spa" as a verb.)

    But, even though it is wonderful for your physical and emotional well-being, regular spa-going can do real damage to one's wallet. Fortunately, there are tons of products - from high-end designer lines to the drugstore variety - that can help anyone achieve that spa-like glow in between visits to the esthetician. By keeping a few key items on hand, you can instantly transform your bathroom into a spa oasis!

    One of the absolute must-have, non-negotiable, basic items for every home spa is the Clarisonic Skin Care brush. You all know I swear by my Clarisonic. Yes, I know it's a little pricey, but trust me - it's an investment. I've had mine for a few years now and it still works great. It travels well and by getting replacement heads - as well as special brushes for the body and even for the feet - you can really give yourself some extra TLC between visits to the spa.

    Another great way to add a calming, spa-like element to your bathroom is to toss a shower tablet into the tub as the water flows. Soon, your bathroom will fill with the aroma of peppermint, lavender, or whatever scent you have chosen. This is a very quick, inexpensive way to add just a touch of luxury to your daily shower routine.

    And you certainly must protect that precious head of hair while getting beautified! Why not toss on a cutesy shower cap or turban? The turbans especially come in handy if you decide to deep condition your hair - simply apply your conditioner, toss on a plastic, disposable cap and then put on your turban over it for 20 minutes while you go about the rest of your beauty routine. The heat from your head will do the work of making sure the treatment penetrates your hair follicles.

    Finally, there is no end to the actual soaps, scrubs, lotions, and oils that you could apply to your skin. It's all so personal, that it's hard to recommend one type over another. The scent and texture that I find lovely could leave you greasy and breaking out in hives. (Well, hopefully not. But still, you get the idea.) In any case, here are a few things that, just based on product quality alone, I think are worth a try...especially the "Invigorating Verbena" collection by L'Occitane. This set of soaps and lotions is customarily found at boutique hotels and the like. Very chi-chi, poo-poo.

    Happy Spa-ing!

    #31Days31Gifts – Spread a Little Love: Lunchbox Notes

    lunchbox note - holidaylunchbox note - holiday

    Ok, so this is not a holiday gift in the most traditional sense. This isn't something that you would hide under the tree or give directly to your son or daughter, but they were just so darling I had to include them. Apparently, the days of scribbling off little notes on a yellow Post-It note are gone - now you can buy designer lunchbox notes to add a little something extra to your little gal or guy's day. A quick search on reveals that there's no shortage to the types of lunchbox notes, either. You can get them with jokes, Bible verses, etc., etc. If there is no little guy or gal in your household, you may want to consider something like Instant Happy Notes: 101 Sticky Note Surprises to Make Anyone Smile to add a little sunshine into your significant other's daily routine. Or, if you feel like a little self-gifting, check out Good Morning!: 101 Positive Sticky Notes to Start the Day. Any of these little pick-me-ups can help brighten someone's day!