Cheers! : Caramel Apple Sangria Recipe

Insert the infamous Caramel Apple Sangria. Amongst the many flavors that I associate with this season, caramel apple has got to be one of my favorites. It took me 3 liquor stores and a whole lot of questions before I got this recipe right.

I was looking for some version of caramel liqueur (a nonalcoholic flavoring syrup), only not ONE liquor store had anything in stock….in Atlanta…go figure. So I had to improvise and use buttershots instead. Now before you turn your nose up and say “eew”, trust me it’s AMAZE! – and it tastes nothing like butter.

Caramel Apple Sangria

1 cup Smirnoff Vanilla
1 cup Smirnoff Caramel Kiss
1/3 cup Dekuyper Buttershots
2 cups white wine (Moscato if you want it sweet, Pinot Grigio if you want it dryer)
2 cups Sparkling Apple Cider
A splash of Apple Cider
A Dash of Cinnamon
Diced Apples

Mix all ingredients together, adding the apples last. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours and serve chilled, garnish with apple slices. Enjoy!

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think! Happy Friday!

What is your favorite fall flavor?

Fashionista: Top 6 Shoe Fashions for the Fall

 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
1. THE ANKLE BOOT
Year after year the ankle bootie never fails us as a fall favorite. This style is so versatile! It can be worn as a flat or a heel making it super easy to dress up or down. This is the perfect shoe staple for your fall wardrobe.

 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

2. THE CHUNKY HEEL

The 70’s are back in full swing, groovy baby! These chunky heels are ripped straight from the psychedelic era. The nude and neutral tones help to add a more minimalistic vibe to this shoe. Whether in a super cute bootie or an open toed heel, I’m sure your feet will thank you for a stiletto break this fall.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

3. THE MARY JANE HEEL

This pump will forever be a classic. Mary Jane’s always add a tough of feminism to an outfit. Pair these with an a-line midi skirt or a mod mini dress and patterned tights, perfect and trendy for the fall.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

4. THE BALLET FLAT

This shoe will forever be a classic. The ballet flat is perfect for sprucing up a pair of jeans or a nice skirt. You can still get that classic dolled-up look without the pain of heels. They come in an abundance of different styles and colors, and the best part about them is you don’t even have to wear socks!

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

5. THE HIGH BOOT

For the sexy woman in all of us there is the high boot. Take it mid calf, knee high, or dare you say thigh high this fall with this risqué trend. You can wear it as a flat boot, wedged, full on stiletto, or even a fun peep toe or sandal. This boot is another favorite staple for the fall.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

6. THE SNEAKER

Ahh the sneaker. Personally I am not a huge fan of sneakers BUT this fall they are definitely making a comeback. Sneakers are super comfortable, easy to throw on, and go with practically anything you can find in your closet! If you are like me and like to avoid laces whenever possible try some of the new slip on sneaker styles.

Which is your favorite shoe trend for this fall? 

Luscious Lips: Christian Louboutin Set to Launch Luxury Lipstick Collection

picture: Christian Louboutin

Hello lover!

It’s totally happening people. Creator of the world’s most coveted red-soled stilettos, Christian Louboutin, has ventured into the world of makeup, giving us luxury in a tube.

After the launch of his premier nail polish line last year, Christian Louboutin is further expanding his high fashion brand with quite possibly the most glamorous lipstick ever, set to debut this Fall.

picture: Christian Louboutin


The collection includes 3 finishes- Silky Satin, Sheer Voile, and (my personal favorite) Velvet Matte. There are 38 collection-inspired shades to choose from; think bold pinks, dark wines, naughty nudes, and of course the iconic Louboutin red.

The packaging definitely lives up to the Louboutin standards, with Egyptian inspired gold pointed tubes, mimicking mermaid tails and luxury bullets dipped in gold, with tiny little golden crown shaped caps. The signature colors are laced in black lacquer to stand out from the rest, as if anything Louboutin would ever be considered to “fit in”-ha!

picture: Christian Louboutin

What’s also really neat is that the lipstick actually doubles as a jewelry. Yes, you read that correctly, jewelry. There is a loop in the crown where you can attach a ribbon to wear your new high-end lipstick as a pendant. Pretty cool huh?

Of course the best things in life never come cheap so you can expect to pay a pretty penny for such a luxurious lippie, $90 to be exact.

picture: Christian Louboutin


The collection will launch on www.christianlouboutin.com and at SAKS in September of 2015, so start saving up your coins now ladies!

What do you think? Will you be purchasing?

post signature

OOTD: Bronner Brothers Chic

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending my first Bronner Brother’s Hair Show here in Atlanta. I was super excited because I had always heard so many great things about this historic trade show but I had no idea what to wear. I decided to play it safe with my normal black and white canvas and throw a pop of color in there. And anyone who knows me knows that I’m a bit extra, so even though I knew I’d be doing mostly walking all day, I still decided to #slay in my heels! I met so many awesome people from so many different places, it was really a great networking experience. Check out the outfit details after the jump.

post signature

Head Beauty In Charge: T-Kea Blackman

For this week’s #HBIC I had the pleasure of chatting it up with the poised & zealous T-Kea Blackman of NSpire! I just adore her not only for the constant work ethic that she puts into building her brand but I also admire her ability to always NSpire!

How did the idea for Nspire come about? 

I randomly thought, what if people had all of their PR, marketing, and communications needs in one spot and they wouldn’t have to go anywhere else to get anything done. I asked people if they would hire a company like that, and they said yes! I thought it was a great idea but I was worried about what I would call it. I knew that I wanted to focus on projects and events with social causes attached to them. Then I started to look at it from a production angle, since I had a background in production and now PR background, I thought wow, I really can combine these elements. Before it had a name it was just a way for me to bridge the gap between everything that I like doing PR, events, networking, marketing, and inspiring through social advocacy. When I pitched the name Nspire to my business partner I wasn’t really sure but she was like “That’s it! Don’t over think it.” You couldn’t even imagine how many names I’ve gone through and thinking back now I’m glad that I didn’t pick any of them!
What 3 pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs? 
For one, I would say to make sure you surround yourself with people who believe in you. People who aren’t entrepreneurs won’t understand your way of thinking. Some people just want to get a 9-5, make their money, and depend on that job. Entrepreneurs don’t think that way so you also need to start surrounding yourself with like-minded people because you need a strong support system.  Secondly, I would say never stop learning. Always read, I don’t care what it is just continue to educate yourself. Allow mistakes and learn from them, just know that you are not going to get everything right on the first try.
What has been some (or one) of the biggest mistakes that you have made so far, and what have you learned from them?
Considering that I am still in the early stages I haven’t made too many mistakes. My business plan, I haven’t completed it. I’ve worked on it but I haven’t been able to say “it’s done”. It’s a roadmap to your success and it makes your life much easier. If you want investors, you definitely want to have that business plan done. They are going to want to know things like startup costs, marketing costs, and so on. That’s the only thing that I wished I finished sooner and not have it lingering over my head because now that business is picking up, it’s hard to find the time to sit and complete it.
Who has been some of your biggest supporters? 
My mom, my family, and especially my friends Destiny, Breann, Giona, Keeyah. I have a really big support system. These are people that I KNOW I could call in the middle of the night and they will come running to help me.

What is it that motivates you? 
First and foremost, I would have to say God, because God has given me the vision for Nspire. Second I would have to say is student loans! I do not want to be one of those people who are paying off student loans for the rest of my life.  Nspire is not going to be my only business or my only source of income so I do know how important it is for me lay the foundation and have it stand up on its own two feet. I want to have financial freedom. Third, is the fact that I have so many family members, siblings, and just people in general that look up to me, what would they do if I just stopped? I feel the pressure!
What are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your non-work time? 
I like to hang out with friends, go to the gym, and I like going to the movies. I’m actually about to take myself to the movies tonight! I enjoy being around other people and it doesn’t take much for me to start a conversation with people. People call me the ‘networking queen’ because I’m always striking up conversation with strangers. Also, I like comedy clubs, laughing is one of my favorite things to do.
How do you handle stress? 

Oh my goodness, I’m actually a person that drowns in stress. I don’t manage stress well. How I am able to move forward? I just start spitting out scriptures to myself. I just have to remind myself of God’s promises. My favorite is Romans 8:28 “All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.” It’s not over until it’s good. No matter how bad something may seem, it is always going to turn out fine.

Who has been your greatest inspiration/ role model? 

Cathy Hughes, I love me some Cathy Hughes! She is the creator is TVOne, RadioOne, and InteractiveOne. She started as an on air radio personality and from there she built multiple companies. She was a single parent mother sleeping on the floor of her radio station because she did not want her dream to die. Her story is one of perseverance and hard work. I admire her for that. She wanted to give everyday people a voice, spread awareness about issues in the community, and effect positive impact. I’ve been able to meet her on numerous occasions, once when I was debating on going into business for myself. She told me to go for it! She asked me “what are you waiting for” and told me that she would look me up one day because she knows that I will be something great. In that moment I said “T-Kea you have to do it.”


What can our readers expect from you in the next year? 
Next year, Nspire plans to have an inaugural event to celebrate our success. Expect to see our name more. We are going to be a part of a lot of upcoming events and campaigns throughout the next year. Trust me, you will know more about who we are and what our mission is because Nspire will be everywhere.


What makes Nspire different from any other PR company?

We are a strategic communications firm that is very clear about our mission. “Our mission is to create social change by bridging the gap between entertainment and philanthropy. To raise awareness of various social issues shift perceptions and ultimately change behaviors.” Whether we are working on an event or campaign; it will always have a positive impact. We help our clients leave their mark with a touch of “Nspiration.”


Thank you so much for Nspiring us, T-Kea! If you would like to follow along for tons of great pr tips you can follow NSpire on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter! You can also check out T-Kea’s feature in the Fall 2015 issue of Howard University’s Alumni Magazine.



post signature

Decorate: DIY Framed Letters

I LOVE to decorate and anyone that knows me knows that I love finding new and creative decor that I can D-I-Y for my home.

We recently moved into a new home where London’s room is not only bigger but a much different shade of pink color than it was at our old house. That means I have plenty of room to DIY it up!

When London was first born my mom bought her these super cute pink glittery letters that spelled out her name, but I procrastinated with putting them up and my teething baby chewed them up pretty badly. Needless to say, I couldn’t use those anymore but I did want to find a creative way to incorporate her name into her new room design.

Browsing the isles of Michaels…or my second home as some like to call it, I came across some small wooden letters, and you guessed it, they were on SALE. So naturally, I picked up all the letters in Miss London’s name and headed to the spray painting isle.

Originally I was going to paint the letters pink and hang them on the walls by bow-tied ribbon, however I was able to find some cheap frames at Dollar Tree and I thought the letters would look SO much cuter in the frames.

I spray painted the frames & letters and used scrapbooking paper as the background. Once everything was dry I put the frames back together (with the scrapbooking paper) and hot glued the letters and ribbon on.

This is how they came out. Super adorable!

post signature

Recipe Box: The Best Tasting KALE Salad Ever

In my quest to live and ever so healthy life, I realized that salads were always my go-to “health kick” meal. I have always been a fan of salads, only, not the super green health machine kind…more of the “give-me-any-and-every-fix-in” kind.

My typical salads are usually loaded up on heavy cheeses, fatty dressings, and you can’t forget that good old iceberg lettuce. Only, iceberg lettuce isn’t really good for you, not that its bad or anything…its just not GOOD for you.

Its the dark green leafy “lettuces” that pack the health power. Compared to the (at least) 20 other salad leaves iceberg has close to zero nutrients, literally very close to zero nutrients. Kale has been somewhat of a popular leaf lately due to it being rich in vitamins A & C.

But Kale…it sounds so…blah…right? At least I thought so. My grocery store had a sale on kale (lol you see what I did there?) So I decided to put my touch on it and try not to unhealthy it up!

Now I just HAD to have my fix-ins, (because without those, a salad is just a plate of trees) but I used all healthy versions. I used crumbled blu cheese (instead of shredded american), bacon bits, fresh tomatoes, ground black pepper, grilled chicken, and baked croutons (because I needed a little bit of fun to remember who I really am).  I did actually add red onions too, only I remembered that I don’t eat onions, so I picked them out before the picture.

I topped everything off with balsamic vinaigrette dressing and ate honestly, the best salad that I have ever had in my life! I actually added red onions too, only then I remembered that I don’t actually eat onions, so I picked them out before the picture.

You don’t have to follow the recipe mix in whatever it is that YOU like; mozzarella cheese, cucumbers, fish, raisins, fish, or even onions! Try it and let me know what you think!
post signature

Be Your Own Boss: The Power of the To Do List (Free Download)

I have always been a “list kinda girl”. For as long as I can remember I literally found myself making a list for everything. No matter if it’s how I was going to compose a term paper or how I planned to spend my Sunday afternoon, I just NEEDED to jot it down on the nearest piece of paper I could find.

Without a detailed plan on what it is that needs to get done and when, I can easily end up procrastinating on everything or scrolling through Facebook all day.

Fast forward to 2015 me. Babies change everything. My life is super chaotic now and I’ve gotten a bit un-attached to my tried and true pen and paper. As a result I have become a much less organized person than I used to be and dare I say I’ve developed a f*ck-it attitude towards certain tasks.

I’ve tried to re-establish my listing relationship with sticky notes, however I failed to realized that little bright-colored sticky papers just might be one of the most appealing things ever to my little one. I’ve tried scrap pieces of paper and, well, apparently those aren’t very safe either (when did paper become more interesting than toys? go figure). Either way my “struggle-lists” seem to disappear, leaving me, yet again with nothing to help my productivity issue.

I figured that if I created a way to designate my to-do’s, a safe place to store them, and something pretty to look at while I’m working, I might just get some things done once and a while.

This free printable has everything you need from not only jotting down your to-do’s, but to prioritize those uber important tasks, appointments, daily routines, call & email reminders, meal planning and more! Plus not to mention it’s super chic (because I like pretty things).

Lists make the world go round. If your like me and searching for something to help pretty up your productivity here you go. If your not like me, try it out and watch how it works wonders for your life. You can thank me later.

#thepowerofthetodolist

Free download here

Enjoy!

Are there any areas that I forgot to cover with this list? Let me know what you think! 

post signature

Recipe Box: Shrimp Scampi

Am I the only one who feels like I am consistently making the same things? If its not chicken with rice and string beans (which happens to be a family favorite), then its meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn (which also happens to be a family favorite) or spaghetti and meatballs.

As London has grown I’ve realized that I don’t really have much of a choice BUT to meal plan at this point. My days are so busy that if I don’t already know what it is that I plan to cook AND have all of my ingredients by 12 pm, there is a 98% chance that we are eating out that day (the other 2% is considering that there is leftovers from the night before).

In comes Pinterest. I’ve been “pinning” yummy dinner ideas for years now so now that I have an actual “meal plan”, I figure I’d might as well get a little adventurous.

Now- on to this Shrimp Scampi


It was absolutely delicious!

This Shrimp Scampi was very quick and easy to make- not to mention super cheap at just $10! I bought my shrimp pre cooked, peeled, and deveined so it only only took 15 minutes from start to finish. Perfect for last minute meal!

Ingredients

8 ounces linguine
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 bag of large cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup pinot grigio
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese
 salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to directions on the package.
  • Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and shrimp. Sauté over medium heat for 2 minutes. 
  • Stir in lemon juice and wine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
  • Stir in pasta and Italian seasoning. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over top (I mixed mines into the pasta but it’s totally optional)

And voila! Easy peasy meal that everyone will love 🙂

Enjoy!

post signature

Be Your Own Boss: How To Start Your Own Business (and start making money)


In 2015 the idea of becoming your own boss is not uncommon. Going into business for your-self requires a huge responsibility! Take some time and really think about exactly what it is that you want to do.  Make sure it is something that you can (and want to) fully dedicate yourself to because believe me- that’s part of your new job description!
Step 1: Have An Idea. Believe In It.

·      Define the idea for your business.
o   Figure out if you want to offer a product or a service.
o   Is this something that you are passionate about?

·      Is there a need for this product/service?
o Is there a high demand for it?
o Is there a market for it?
o How does what you are selling differentiate from what is already available?

·      Do you have experience in this industry?
o Work history, certification, professional memberships, training, and education all position you as an expert, proving your qualifications in your industry.
o   If you don’t have any background in your industry, now is a good time to get some. The more experience you have the less mistakes you are likely to make.

Example: If you want to open and clothing boutique, try working part time at a clothing retailer to get a feel of how to do inventory, stockroom, tags, customer service, etc.
Step 2: Write Your Business Plan


Time to elaborate on your vision. A business plan is extremely important because it’s just that, your plan.  

You can use this Business Plan Template

When your plan is completely finished you should be able to answer the following questions:

o   What are your goals?
o   Company background and description?
o   What kind of products and services will you provide?
o   Who is your target market?
o   Competition?
o   How will you sell your products/ services?
o   What will be your business structure?
o   How much funding do you need?

Step 3: Create Brand Identity 

This is the fun part! Now it’s time to decide on things like your company’s name, colors, and logo. 

Get business branding essentials like business cards, labels, letterhead, and (or) stationary. I like to use affordable sites like Vistaprint or Staples because they frequently give out discount offers.
Step 4: Location, Location, and Location


Are you going to have a brick-and-mortar location or only operate online?

  • For storefronts and offices first determine how much space you will need and start scouting locations
  • For online businesses start with purchasing your domain name.  Get your first domain for $3.99 a year with Bluehost. Bluehost is a great hosting server because it is SO user friendly!
  • Typically web designers can charge anywhere from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars for a custom website. As a new start up with little to no money it may be a better option for you to use an online platform with customizable templates. Some fan favorites are BigCommerce, Shopify, Squarespace, and (for the really advanced) WordPress.
  • Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon are also great platforms if your only interested in selling your items without the hassle of designing your own site.


Step 5: Establish an Online Presence


In this day and age your online presence is crucial to growing your business.

Whether your selling music, services, soap, or clothing in a boutique your company needs a website. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but at least have a landing page with information about your company and how to contact you.

Social media is another one of those things that is crucial to your business in 2016. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube are a few social media platforms that can help market and grow your business.

Step 6: Assess Your Resources


Every business needs resources. You need to build a team that’s going to help you get your business off the ground and running, think about who you know that can help you in anyway and reach out to them.

If you are selling a product, think about what vendors you will need to produce, package, and ship your items.

If you are offering a service, dig deep into your phonebook and think of who may could be potential clients

Step 7: Get Licensed


This is a VERY important step to make sure that you are doing legitimate business.

You could incorporate your business as Corporation, Limited Liability Corporation, Partnership, or Sole Proprietorship.

Know the laws and follow them. Taxes are nothing to play with. If you have the funding, hire an accountant and a lawyer. If not, do your research and document EVERYTHING. 

It is a good idea to look into insurance, which can really protect you in the event of an emergency, especially if you have a physical location.

Step 8: Develop a Marketing Plan


Decide how you are going to tell people about your business. This all really depends on your target market.

If your marketing your resume writing service you may want to market to the unemployed or to college students, or both. Some strategies in your marketing plan may include handing out flyers to students on campus or offering a free interview workshop at the local community center.

Step 9: Figure Out Financing

You should probably have a good idea of how much your overhead and startup costs will be by now, time to decide how you are going to pay for it all.

Are you going to try to find investors? Do you have money saved? Are you going to do a fundraiser?

Making sure you have enough to cover at least your startup and overhead costs is crucial BEFORE you open your doors.

Step 10: Go Live and Make Money!

Now that you have taken all the necessary steps to build a solid foundation for your business out your plan into action! Running your own business won’t be easy but then neither is anything worth having!

post signature