Here's to Creating New Family Traditions

"Let's put up a tree this year." 

The last time we put up a Christmas tree, our cat Egypt was only a few months old. All I can remember is how hard she tried to knock the tree down to steal the candy canes we hung on it as decoration. It didn't help that one of the 3 feet was missing from the tree stand. She succeeded in knocking that tree down every other day. 

Tonight, Devon and I noticed Christmas lights popping up around us, and he looked at me and said those words like it would actually be fun. I'm sure it would be, but what does that mean for us? The start of some kind of family tradition? 

For the first time, I realized that Devon and I don't really have our own set of traditions outside of catching all the latest Marvel movies as soon as they hit theaters. Somehow, him mentioning a tree took me back to the night he proposed. That night I was so overwhelmed with the thought of how everything would be so different and how I'd have to get used to this "new life" everyone was telling me about. 

We're almost 3 months in, and not much has changed. We've been together so long that the only difference has been me running around town filling out paperwork to shed my maiden name. Karmen and Devon swore off putting up Christmas trees years ago after one minuscule kitten ruined their attempts, but The Johnsons are apparently Christmas af.

Maybe this tree is our way of switching it up in this new phase of our relationship? Whatever it is, I'm down. I should probably hop on Etsy for a custom wreath for our door to really bring the idea home, huh? 

 Image by Believe, Love, & Inspire Studios

Image by Believe, Love, & Inspire Studios

I Tried a Sleep Mask for a Week...

Admittedly, I’m not the best sleeper. It normally takes me a while to fall asleep, and it’s usually with the TV on. 

I don’t typically get sleep that’s the BEST quality. I wake up tired because I toss and turn all night long. 

 

Recently, I received a self-care kit courtesy of Olay to celebrate Black Southern Belle’s 30th Birthday. And THERE it was...

 

THE SLEEP MASK.  

 

I smacked my teeth so so hard because they NEVER work for me. I wanted to try it out anyway because maybe the 3rd time would be the charm.

 

The first time I tried one was in high school, but nothing was really going on in my life for me to actually need it. The second time was in our first apartment, but again...nothing going on there in life except school, a restaurant job, and a couple bills. 

 

But NOW? With a mortgage, car note, full-time job, business, 3 pets, and a pending wedding? BAYBEEEEE...something had to shake.  

 

This is whole week of no TV paired with mask wearing has left me passing out and waking up in the same position I clocked out in. A couple of nights ago I even forgot to put the dang thing over my eyes. 

 

Wanna know what else came in my box?  

  • That coveted Olay Regenerist Whip
  • a workout tank
  • A SATIN PILLOWCASE! (How did they know that’s how I roll?) 
  • My new bestie aka the sleep mask

 

Final Thoughts? 

I’m definitely keeping up this sleep mask thing. I’m bougie (again, admittedly...), but at least this mask is serving a real, beneficial purpose to help end my bedtime struggles.  

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5 Things You Should Have Tried From the 2018 Charleston Natural Hair Expo

This past weekend, I attended the 7th Annual Charleston Natural Hair Expo, and I'd say it was a great event overall. I only had one goal in mind, and that was to walk away with products that I would actually use instead of buying things just for the sake of buying. In past years I haven't been as discerning with my spending and left with things that I never even used once I got home. The items pictured below are ones that I've been enjoying since this past Saturday, and I think you'll be seeing a lot more of them on my Instagram feed. 

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  1. Celestial Beauty Goddess Glow in the shade "Heavenly"- This body highlighter comes in a variety of shades, so be sure to check out the entire line to choose the most appropriate shade for your skin tone. We're looking for maximum glow up out here these days! 
  2. Unorthodox Roots satin-lined headwrap- This brand creates satin-lined hats and headwraps, and I thought that the one I purchased was great for giving my durags a break.(For those of you who don't know this about me, I often wear durags underneath my regular headwraps to protect my hair from the drying fabric.)
  3. The entire haircare line from Femme Noire- The packaging grabbed my attention, and the ingredients made me stick around. My hair likes most of the oils in their products already, so I decided to spring for the entire line and give it all a try. The Flower Bomb Hair Growth Oil is pictured, but best believe all of those products took a ride home in my bag. I even purchased their travel-sized products, so I'll be doing a post on how my hair holds up during my next trip to Seattle! I typically do protective styles when I travel across the country, so this will be a completely new experience for me. Fingers crossed! 
  4. Lemongrass Leave-In Conditioner from Alikay Naturals- This is an old staple from when I made the decision to stop flat ironing my hair as frequently back in 2014. The scent alone made me want to twist my hair every night, and my hair was always moisturized and less prone to breakage because of it. Add a little oil to the ends on top of it, and it's a done deal. I like this product still in 2018 because it's a nice style refresher also. 
  5. Chewies (not pictured) from Brown Sugar Charleston- Since being in Charleston, I've developed a deep-seated love for chewies. I'm not new to Brown Sugar Charleston, but I was too excited to see their table set up at this years expo! I walked away that day with my sweet tooth fully satisfied, but you should contact Brown Sugar Charleston for your cake and dessert jar needs as well. Their key lime cupcakes are my all-time favorite.   

 

Wanna know the best thing about each of these vendors? 

They actually TALKED to me and my friends, and showed genuine excitement about what they were offering! Each one beamed when talking about how they were solving a specific need, whether it was protecting my coveted strands, nourishing them, making sure my skin was extra poppin', or ensuring that I didn't have to hunt any longer for the best sweets in town. Next year at the expo, I'd love to see more of that kind of energy from all the vendors in the room. These few from my haul definitely stole the show in my eyes, and I can't wait to see them again soon! 

 

What was your #1 purchase from the Charleston Natural Hair Expo this past weekend? Let me know in the comments below! 

My Summer '18 Makeup Essentials

We all know that I'm a makeup junkie. I've gotten far better and only travel with one makeup palette these days, so I'm not really THAT bad anymore... am I? 

 

Either way, summer is my favorite time for a number of reasons: 

  • I love hot weather
  • I love going to the beach
  • I love that I can get away with wearing less all in the name of staying cool

While the summertime is my time to shine, it isn't really compatible with a full face. With time, I've found my arsenal of products that keep me cute while allowing my skin to breathe in all this southern heat! 

  1. Aloe + Rosewater Hydrating Mist by Motherland Essentials- I use this first thing in the morning to spritz my face, throughout the day to give my skin a cool drink, and even to make sure that my makeup stays in place! This Charleston-based brand is my go-to for the majority of my skincare needs, so I was happy to see this product added to their lineup just in time for summer '18!
  2. Forever Brows by BK Beauty Cosmetics- This little pot of brow pomade works miracles any time of year! I took a dip in the ocean a few weeks ago, and my eyebrows were still there when I came out. My brows don't smudge AT ALL, so it's even more amazing to note that the product removes easily with an oil-based makeup remover (check this post for my favorite cleansing products). The BONUS, though? The product comes with an angled brush so you have no excuse for NOT sculpting those brows like your life depends on it. 
  3. GLO Illuminator by Manna Kadar Beauty- This highlight is buildable, so you can be as subtle or as extra as you want to be in the summertime streets. It has a slightly rosy tint to it, which balances out well to give my skin an extra hint of warmth. I wonder what it'll do for you? (Maybe you should buy some and tag me in the pics...) 
  4. Clean Matte BB Cream by Covergirl- This particular formula is for oily skin, so you'll want to be sure that you're purchasing the right formulation of BB cream for your skin type. BB creams are the best for summer because they're going to be lighter and more breathable that a foundation. I only use an amount about half the size of my pinky nail, and it blends my whole face. You know what's great about that? I'm not as worried about my face rubbing off on someones shirt if I give them a hug! I use a primer underneath that has SPF, but you can also find BB creams with the SPF included and knock two things off the list in one go. 
  5. Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer by Fenty Beauty- Smells good, isn't sticky, lasts a long time...what boxes do you need to check before purchasing? It looks good on EVERYONE and compliments any makeup look you can think of. And since were going light on everything this summer, Gloss Bomb is going to be the perfect gloss to keep in your purse so you're ready to serve lucious-lipped realness at any moment. 

The takeaways? 

  • Less is more is the rule of thumb when it comes to all of these products. I've been getting my money's worth, and the amount of usage I get with each purchase pays off. With other products I may have to repurchase 2-3 times to get the same worth.
  • You don't need a million products. This is 5 ITEMS. Use these and a little liner and you're done. You can spring for the eyeshadow if you're feeling kind of fancy (see the cover pic of this post). 
  • Do NOT get caught out here with your face melting off. I will find you, and I will question you about it. 

 

Happy 5 product, summertime makeup serving out here in 2018!

Thick Thighs and Booty Cheeks on the Beach

I’m still pretty self-conscious and don't frequently wear form-fitting clothing from head-to-toe or show a ton of skin, but I'm working on it. Self-love is an ongoing, ever-changing process, right?

 

If you've never seen me in person, I pull a decent-sized “wagon” behind me, and in the country my body type is referred to as “stout” (meaning “thick”). I’m technically one of those girls who was skinny and just got a little bit bigger. These days, I’m smiling a bit more when I walk past the mirror. And that’s a huge deal for me. The stretch marks don’t bother me anymore, and I think I look pretty dang good at this size. Walking around the house most days in lingerie probably helped. And I mean all day long, lounging in faux fur sets and satin robes and what not.

 

Y’all should try it out. Seriously.

 

A while ago, I wrote this blog post about my body image issues. There were some who felt where I was coming from, but more often than not I was met with comments like,

 

 ”Girl, talk to me about body issues when you’ve had three kids and look like me.”

”Chile, you are SKINNY and you look good!” 

”You don’t even know what big is.” 

 

I'm not about making other people's expressions of what's bothering them about myself, so I wasn't a fan of it happening to me. I basically did the same as most people in the "whose body is worse" olympics and shut the hell up. 

 

 

It took me YEARS to start gaining weight. I didn’t reach 100 pounds until the second semester of my freshman year of college, and in all the years prior I remember eating nonstop because summer two-a-days and after-school practices as an athlete left me hungry. For years I couldn’t break 90 pounds. I remember being so excited to call home and tell my mama I couldn’t fit my size 0 skinny jeans anymore back in 2011 because I was finally in the triple digits.  

Today, I’m at 137. 

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Since moving to SC back in 2014, I’ve fluctuated between 125 and 135 frequently. Each time I've passed 130 it's freaked me out. Every time I believed that I was too overweight and looked sloppy, so I'd eat less and try to work out to get the weight back off. It never mattered though, because I just didn't LIKE my body at any size. Right now I’m at my heaviest, but I’m HAPPY. Not having a super flat stomach anymore isn't even on my list of stressors now.

It's taken me all this time to talk about it again online, because people think if you have a “nice” body (which is all kinds of subjective depending on your visual preferences) then you should have zero worries related to looks. Add to that the bonus, unwarranted comments from family members about how skinny you were for years, but how you've gotten so fat now when all you did was grow up and finally develop a pretty standard “99s and the 2000s” type of body. What y’all really want from me, man?  

I recently bought a bathing suit style that I NEVER would have considered wearing when I was thinner, even though it probably would have been more “appropriate” then by some standards. Back then I had enough breasts to warrant a bra, but not enough to create resting, unforced cleavage. The suit came from Aerie, and it plunges in the front, is backless, and is a cheeky cut. The cheeky cut back then wouldn't have raised any eyebrows.

Cheeky cut on me in 2018 turns into a semi-thong in 10 steps or less, but this past weekend I said screw it. The boobs and booty were POPPIN’ on Sullivan’s Island, y’all! I had zero worries about the cellulite and stretch marks, and guess what else?

 

 I DID THAT, SIS!  

 

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So here’s to walking past the mirror this summer and saying “DAMN GIRL! YOU FINE!”

There are a million ways to be a baddie outchea.   

 

So When's the Wedding?

As a newly engaged woman who worked with her partner to do things on their MUTUAL terms, I'm telling you to mind your business if you're thinking of butting in or questioning anyone's relationship. A lot of us won't go home to family dinners now because you and the aunties are probably going to ask: 

  • why they're still single
  • when they're gonna marry their "lil friend" (they've only been dating for a year)
  • when they're gonna have a baby

I started getting the "when's the wedding?" question before the ring had even warmed up to match my body heat. I figured it was just a knee-jerk reaction to the news, so it wasn't too difficult to overlook. There weren't any cameras around the evening Devon proposed, and I'm so glad we'll always have that moment between the two of us. The only reason I changed my relationship status to 'engaged' on Facebook that night was so that my parents didn't announce the news back home before I could. I thought I was doing a good thing by getting ahead of it, but I didn't expect to be so turned off by some of the underhanded congratulatory comments. The one that hurt me the most? 

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"Bout time!"

This past February made 7 years in our relationship. I feel like most people think marriage should be implied after a certain amount of time has passed. We'd talked about it in year 3 of our relationship, but we both agreed that we weren't ready yet, even though we knew we wanted to be together. And THAT was the best decision for us. 

To be honest with you all, I wasn't completely sure that I wanted to get married until late last year. I was battling a lot of things, and Imposter Syndrome was very near the top of the list. No matter how many sweet things he'd say or do, I'd always speak unkindly of myself and question the good things he saw about me. I didn't want to bring someone else into my mess and age them faster than necessary if I could do myself a favor and work it out beforehand. He's already grown two gray hairs since I've known him (don't tell him I told you). 

My point is, we took our time because we were still growing together and working through  our grown-up personalities. We're very different from that 18 and 19 year old who crossed paths all those years ago, so we needed to make sure that we still meshed well with each other. Things change when you throw a mortgage and careers into the mix. Each time I read "bout time," I wondered how long people had been talking crap in the shadows about us not being married yet. It made me defensive, because (although he might live to annoy me sometimes) I refuse for ANYONE to speak ill of him and think I'll be silent about it. It made me livid when people who don't speak to me otherwise reached out to me the next day to ask if they were getting a wedding invitation. 

No couple owes you a wedding, ya'll. My friend married her husband almost 10 years ago for $30 at the courthouse, and they're pretty dang solid. Right now, the plan is to elope. That could change, but we're in no hurry to make plans. It's been seven years, so we can wait another one if we go down the road of planning. We're millennials through and through, and we take pride in saving our coins where we can. We'll make sure to post some pics on social media when I officially become his Mrs., but in the meantime I promise y'all will be ok. 

 

 

Now, stop asking people why they're single/ where their "lil friend" is and let them eat Thanksgiving Dinner in peace this year. 

 

    3 Ways To Support Entrepreneurial Women

    This entrepreneur life ain't easy outchea. 

    It didn't really hit me until I started my own business last year, but late nights of brainstorming and early mornings before the regular 9-5 spent writing dope sales copy left me feeling spent. Why? I was pouring everything out of me, but nothing was being put back in. On my own journey, I learned a ton about what I needed as a business owner, but more importantly as a WOMAN who owns a business. Once my eyes were opened up to the struggle, it helped me understand what fills my cup and how I can pour back into other lady entrepreneurs. Today, I do the following without hesitation: 

     

    Celebrate Their Wins.

    Recently, one of my friends got some amazing news related to a huge goal she set for herself last year. I full-out cried when I was alone in my car because I knew how hard she worked to get to this point. It felt like a win for me, because I see all of her successes and frustrations as my own. You have to be able to put yourself in someone else's shoes to understand them, so doesn't it make just as much sense to do the same so that you can better celebrate their accomplishments? 

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    Show Up for Them.

    It makes a lasting impression to entrepreneurs when they see you jumping at opportunities to support everyone but them. While it's true that you may never be in need of the services a lady entrepreneur is offering, or into the products she might be hand-crafting, there's still nothing stopping you from sharing a recommendation to others who might be interested.

    Refuse to See Them as Competition.

    Believe people when they tell you that there is space for everyone to succeed, but understand that it will never happen if you're sitting in your corner envious of how the next woman was able to cultivate roses from her own patch of concrete. Your personal success isn't dampened by the next person's come up. Redirect that energy into something that's a better use of time, like...idk...worrying about yourself and doing the first two items I mentioned (I said what I said).

     

    Let me know one thing you plan on doing today to show your love to a money-making lady! 

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    6 Tips for Thrifting Like You Got Some Damn Sense

    Do you pledge allegiance to the #ThriftDrip?

    Follow these 6 rules and let me know what you're working with in the comments! 

     

    1) Don't read the label.

    I eyeball everything when I cook, and the same rule applies to my thrifting experience. I'm not going to count a blouse out because the tag might say something two sizes larger than what I'm used to. Remember, people were wayyyy smaller years ago, and I fully believe that you can make the best looks out of incorporating items that might be a little roomier. 

    2) Grab with the flow. 

    Patterns or textures jumping out at you? You better snatch that up quick! You can always put it back later if you decide a piece isn't for you, but you can't leave it sitting there from jump and expect for it to be there waiting for you once you may your way back around. This ain't ya mama's favorite fast fashion purveyor of duplicate styles in an endless rainbow of colors. 

     Yep! I wore something I thrifted to Charleston Fashion Week. That's actually a sheer black floral dress that I wore as a top. 

    Yep! I wore something I thrifted to Charleston Fashion Week. That's actually a sheer black floral dress that I wore as a top. 

    3) Embrace the ugly.

    Listen...we've all taken part in some pretty embarrassing trends back in the day. It happens. Thrifting ins't the time to fixate on "cute" or "timeless," because everything comes back around eventually (just like that memory of the bangs you cut on yourself in sixth grade like your mother wouldn't notice). That ugly skirt might be your next statement piece, and who doesn't love being bold every once in a while? 

    4) Look for long-lost cousins, not twins. 

    After you've picked up a few pieces that you know are coming home with you, try to find a commonality between them. Maybe you chose items that fall into a warm color palette? Or may you were drawn to shirts made out of thin materials? Notice what you notice, and then try to find other items to round out the overall aesthetic. For the latter example, I'd probably look for bulkier items like sweaters or cardigans that can help transition a thinner shirt into the cooler months. 

    5) Don't be greedy. 

    If you KNOW you don't really see it for an item, just put it back. Ain't no looking back in thrifting, and when you do go home with those new pieces, think about the items already in your closet that you're willing to let go. You know...the ones you swore you would wear eventually that probably still have all the tags on them. 

     Enjoy this shot of my FAVORITE pants, thrifted from  Grease Kelly Vintage .

    Enjoy this shot of my FAVORITE pants, thrifted from Grease Kelly Vintage.

    6) Draw your line in the discount sand. 

    Sales have the unique ability to make you throw wads of cash at fully clothed people, so if you're anything like me you might need to give yourself a pep talk and set boundaries in advance. For example, I typically try to hold myself to a 5 item limit depending onwhat sorts of deals are accompanying my purchases. 

    Now get out there and make it WORK and WERK. I can't wait to see all the #thriftdrip on my Instagram feed!

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