Author Archive

Reading Pretty: My Paris Dream by Kate Betts

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I simply devoured Kate Betts memoir My Paris Dream. You may know Kate as the author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style, but to me I feel a kindred soul. In My Paris Dream, Kate reflects on her time spent in Paris and the learning experience of a young woman who followed a dream. The book resonated with me because it’s coming on my 14-year anniversary of studying in Paris and all I can think of is: “what if Jamie never encouraged me to go?”

Before I graduated from college I had two choices – walk a stage or board a Continental Airlines (now United Airlines) flight to Paris. Guess which one I chose? Paris. I didn’t need a cap and gown ceremony. I needed baguettes, cheese, wine, and coming into my own. The previous few years had been a nightmare.

I lost my dad in 1999 and I remember my brother Jamie stepping in when I needed him. When my French teacher suggested I study abroad in Paris immediately fear crept in. I confided in my best friend Cassaundra, but I also confided in Jamie who I thought would discourage me. He didn’t. He immediately said “Move in with me and my family, save all your money, and go study in a place you dreamed about.” Well, alrighty then.

I took Jamie and his family up on their offer. On May 11, 2001 I stepped on a plane to go study, solo and prayed that all the money I paid for an apartment (before Air B&B) would result in me having an apartment. Cell phones? Not so much. My entire family went to the airport with me. This was when you could sit with your families before you flew and they could literally see you off. I remember sitting in CDG (Charles de Gaulle) after landing crying and writing in my journal. I was here. The place of Josephine Baker, Richard Wright, Laduree, Eartha Kitt, James Baldwin, Dior, Louis Vuitton, and oh yes, Sisley Cosmetics.

The year was magical. Unlike anything, I had ever experienced growing up in the South. It was literally my personal Paris dream. The dream would have never happened without Jamie. I miss him every day and especially now as I reminisce on my time in Paris. I had a dream and I was thankful for a brother who stepped in and helped make it happen. How many people are not living their dream and just existing? I hope you my fellow readers are not one of them. Life is too short to find your own Paris dream.

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” ~ Rumi

Feasting Pretty: Tessemae’s All Natural Salad Dressings

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We eat a lot of salad in my house. Seriously, between the two of us I know we go through tons of greens and vegetables each week. My mom eats a salad every day and sometimes twice a day. I think I get it honestly. A few years ago le husband and I decided that we were not going to eat mass produced salad dressings. I decided and as the cook in the family he had no choice but to go along with the plan. I normally make my own salad dressings with good extra virgin oil (in the words of Ina Garten), a delcious balsamic vinegar, and dijon mustard.

But then Tessamae entered my salad dressing world and we were hooked. Tessamae is a small family owned and operated company out of Annapolis, Maryland which is a hop, skip, and a jump to me. The dressings are all natural and expire within 60 days of opening. They don’t have high fructose corn syrup, exorbitant amounts of sugar, and a lot of the icky stuff most big name salad dressings have. All of Tessamae’s dressings can be used for salads, as a marinade or as a dip. Tessame, please come up with a miso dressing so I don’t have to make mine.

Now we are going back and forth testing and tasting all the dressings. After discovering how much sugar is in ketchup, I switched. Tessame’s has a kick and is so good. Once I tasted their ketchup I threw away every other brand in my refrigerator in the trash. Yes, I have a condiment problem.

They have a BBQ sauce, but since I’m from Texas (the home of the best BBQ in my opinion), I have to remain loyal to my dad’s recipe. Sorry, Tessamae. Some things just can’t change. Tessamae is worth investing in – for yourself and your tastebuds.

Destination Hotels + Nest Fragrances Collaboration

Nest for Destination Hotels

Two of my favorite brands are partnering together. Beauty and travel are what I live for and I’m so happy now because Destination Hotels has partnered with Nest Fragrances for their amenities. I’m a fan of both of the brands. Trust me, you need to go stay at Terranea in California. It is still one of my favorite hotels ever. Read my reviews here and here. These are the hotel amenities you really want take home with you. Trust me.

Reading Pretty: The Beauty Detox Power: Nourish Your Mind and Body for Weight Loss and Discover True Joy by Kimberly Snyder

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I’ve been a huge fan of Kimberly Snyder for years. I met her when she lived in NY and she made me raw food and her famous green goddess smoothie. This was before there was a juice bar on every corner and green drinks now replaced soda in many hands. I love it. I believe one of the keys to beauty is food.

Kimberly’s new book focuses on cleaning the body through nourishing and healthy food that actually tastes good and is good for you.The Beauty Detox Power is a great addition to the beauty wellness bookshelf. After traveling the past few weeks, I decided to take a few days to reset. The best way for me is to relax, eat clean, and sleep. It’s amazing, but I seriously have been craving salad of all kinds and Sweetgreen definitely is my weakness. I’m definitely turning into my mother. The woman has eaten a salad every day her entire life. Yep, that’s why she’s so healthy at 75.

Dior and I

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Last week before I headed to South Florida, my friend and I decided to see the limited release fashion documentary Dior and I. It was such a treat. The documentary follows Raf Simmons the new designer at Dior for his first haute couture show. He had to create the show in less than 8 weeks. Yes, you read correctly. In less than two months, he had to create a couture show for the house with original ideas with past influences.

The movie shows how much work and time goes into couture and why the dress is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. It also explains how the atelier and the designer sometimes butt heads. This film is for the true fashion lovers who love history, whimsy, and exceptional talent. The movie is in limited release so hurry and go see it.

It also gives you a glimpse of Paris and that is always a good thing.

Reading Pretty: Spinster by Kate Bolick

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There are things in life that are not for everyone. Marriage and kids as it relates to this review. I wish we lived in a world where people respected others decisions on what works and doesn’t work for them instead of being judgemental. Kate Bolick’s Spinster gives a detailed look on one person’s journey of discovery and choices.

Choices. That’s a word we rarely use when it comes to our own lives. Years ago during a church service I remember my pastor saying “Life is choice driven. We live and die by the choices we make.” To this day, I still use this statement. To everyone I consult, family, friends, and people wanting my opinion on certain things. Everyone makes different choices. Those choices work for them or may not. The judgment, jealousy, and bitterness to others choices shouldn’t faze you in the least. The book gives one woman’s choice, how she came to the choice, and how she continues to live with it.

The book resonated with me because of her decision to own her choice. I wish people who read the book, especially women, come away with understanding how important choices are in their lives. In every single aspect. Personal and professional. I have traveled the world and visited countries where women don’t have choices and to be a woman in this country, be able to make my own choices, and live my life on my terms is well – priceless.

Heart’s Desire Essential Oil by Moon Goddess Magick

Moon Goddess Magick

“Allow me to introduce myself, my name H-O-V.”

This song recently came on my playlist and I couldn’t help but fall in love again with it. Jay-Z is one of my favorite rappers and when I need to feel motivated I put him on. I have been basking in my post-Yoga Journal Conference high this past week, but I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to a new essential oil that entered my life. Allow me to introduce you to the essential oil that I have been carrying around for a week.

Back story. In 2012, I went on a yoga retreat in Provence with my mentor and friend Kimberly Wilson. On that trip, I met the adorable Susie who I took as a little sister. Despite the age gap we clicked. It was like having another niece in my life and I was ecstatic. We always said we were going to do another yoga event together, but real life seemed to get in the way. Then 2015 through us both for a loop and we decided this year is it. After texts, emails, and phone calls we decided to be roomies at the New York City Yoga Journal Conference and I could not have been happier. This girl makes me laugh. All the time. Hysterically.

The night Susie arrived she handed me a gift. In it was Heart’s Desire Essential Oil by Moon Goddess Magick. I thought what a sweetie pie. One whiff and I was hooked. I was all dramatic and said “I need to know who made this. What is this stuff? It is speaking to me. What combination is this?” After numerous questions, Susie said, “it suits you perfectly doesn’t it.” Yep, baby girl it does.

Over the past few years, I have been fascinated with essential oils. Their ability to relax, heal, and aid in so many ailments without the use of modern medicine has been so beneficial to me. Heart’s Desire has not left my side since I received it. I use it day and night. I can’t wait to order a few more bottles of this essential oil goodness for a few friends.

As with all essential oils, please do you research. If you are pregnant check with your doctor first before using. 

RoC® Multi-Corexxion® Daily Moisturizer with Sunscreen

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Dear hearts,

Can we discuss the need for sunscreen? It seems that everywhere I turn most of y’all are not wearing any. Darlings, this is a problem. As much as I love being brown girl bronzed I have to stay at least somewhat faithful to my beauty routine which always includes sunscreen.

The older I get, yes getting older is a beautiful thing, I have to be more faithful in my use of sunscreen. It’s the same with my retinol. Until I spent the year working with RoC® Skincare, I vacillated between sometimes and never. Since January, I have put RoC® Multi-Corexxion® Daily Moisturizer with Sunscreen to great use. Even on the days it was bitter cold I kept using my sunscreen.

And retinol. Let me just say that if you use retinol you must use sunscreen. They are husband and wife of beautiful skin in my opinion. They work together to create the happy marriage of skin. The more I used my skincare couple, had an adequate amount of sleep, and healthy foods my skin glowed. The minute I went off the routine well you know what happened. I lost my loving glow and then that loving feeling.

Every top dermatologist will tell you sunscreen and retinol are the secret to slowing down the aging of the skin. Notice I didn’t say “anti-aging.” We are all going to age, but we can help the way we look as we age. Let’s get real. Life is better on this side of the grass.

I want to thank RoC® Skincare for a wonderful year of collaboration. It flew by. Seriously like a dream. It made me get back to using retinol and has given my face the TLC that it deserved and needed because I stayed consistent with the product. The real question is will I keep using RoC® Skincare? In my Mr. Big voice “ab-so-freaking-lutely!”

This post is brought to you in collaboration with RoC® Skincare. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for All About the Pretty. 

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