#PamperMeSunday with Products

20130606-170822I ❤️ watching lifestyle bloggers on YouTube. They talk about everything from fashion to beauty, health, book recommendations, how they structure their days and so much more! I’d say I spend at least an hour each day watching videos (or reading blog posts online). I’m learning different ways to take better care of myself (mentally, physically, spiritually) and it keeps me from sitting in front of the idiot box all day even though nothing is really ever on. Establishing a regular self-care/pamper routine has been one of my learnings and I do it on Sundays since that’s the day I always have time to do a little extra. It also helps you relax before the work week starts!

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This post is about having a routine to pamper yourself. To be honest, I’ve never really done this before, nor have I had a staple set of staple products to assist in such an effort. Thanks to YouTube, that has changed!!! 👍🏽💃🏽

When it comes to the routine below, modify the products/steps to fit your budget and/or tastes. i.e. If you don’t do your own nails, skip that step. And before you waiver on the need to do all this / for the complexity… don’t you deserve pampering?? If not every week, then every other week or maybe once a month? I think yes! (Note: The times are just estimates – start whenever you want – and I DO multi-task where it makes sense to speed things up a bit. I also included pictures of my absolute favorite items! and a few emojis because… why not?

_658859507:55 PM Set the tone! Turn off the tv, light a Diptyque (Nordstrom) or Nest candle (Nordstrom) and turn on some relaxing music 🎤 (Spotify). The kind that will help you turn ⬇️ not turn ⬆️! This is a great time to listen to a new album or audiobook. PS: recycle the jar!

07:59 PM Pull your hair back with a headband (Target).

08:00 PM Prep face. Remove  EYE MAKEUP with Lancome’s Bi-Facial Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover (Nordstrom) and Shiseido Facial Cotton (Nordstrom). For remaining makeup, apply Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water (Target) to a fresh Shiseido cotton pad and wipe your face squeaky clean! This will remove ALL excess grime and grit. It’s important to get EVERYTHING OFF before we proceed so this step is extremely important!

08:05 PM Apply SK-II facial treatment mask (Nordstrom) and let it sit for 15 minutes.

08:07 PM Prep nails: Remove nail polish from hands and feet with Pure Body Polish Remover (Amazon), trim then buff (Target). Step-by-step guide here.

08:19 PM Rinse mask off face with lukewarm mater and pat dry with a fresh white hand towel or face cloth – not the one you used yesterday! 😱 (Nordstrom).

08:20 PM Shower (or take a bubble bath if you prefer)

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  • Wash hair with Art Naturals Organic Shampoo (Amazon). Divide into 4 sections, comb out and apply It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in Conditioner to each section (Target).
  • Buff feet with Amopé Pedi Perfect Electronic Foot File (Amazon)
  • Push cuticles back (hands and feet).
  • Splash a little water on your face (it should not be scorching hot) 🚫🔥.
  • Gently massage one pump of Kiehl’s Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash onto your face & neck (Nordstrom) then use a Clairsonic for a deeper clean (Nordstrom) and pat your face dry.
  • Clean your body with Fresh ‘Hesperides Grapefruit’ Bath & Shower Gel
    (Nordstrom) and shower gloves (Target). LOVE LOVE LOVE this combination!!! (the gloves provide a gentle exfoliation)
  • Apply *L’Occitane’s Almond Shower Oil to your body (HEAVENLY!) with an organic sea sponge (Nordstrom, Target) 😍😍
  • Exit the shower

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-7-04-21-pmFace care starts immediately after exiting the shower while your hands are still CLEAN!

08:40 PM Tone your face and neck with Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal-Extract Alcohol-Free Toner (Nordstrom)

08:41 Treat face and neck with SK-II facial treatment essence (Nordstrom)…. let this miracle water soak in for a couple of minutes.

08:43 PM Gently press (DO NOT RUB) La Mer Creme de La Mer Moisturizing Cream onto your face. You only need a dime size and 1 oz should last you 6-8 months (Nordstrom). 😍💯

08:45 PM Treat your upper and lower eyes with Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado (Nordstrom).

08:46 PM Protect your underarms with Kiehl’s Superbly Efficient Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant Cream (Nordstrom).

08:47 PM Moisturize your skin with L’Occitane Almond Milk Concentrate. The smell is absolutely AMAZING and your hubby/significant other will LOVE you for it!😍😍 (Nordstrom)

08:52 PM Put on your most luxurious pajamas (Nordstrom).

09:00 PM Apply Soap & Glory Heel Genius to your feet (Amazon) and put on some fancy socks (Nordstrom).

09:05 pm Select and lay out your clothes for the next day! Including jewelry, other accessories, lipstick color, handbag and shoes!

09:15 PM Steep you favorite tea in a fabulous mug (Teavana, Target).

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09:20 pm Polish nails with Nails Inc base & top coat (Sephora) followed by Bobbi Brown Nail Polish (Belk) in this manner to allow maximum drying/setting time: foot 1, foot 2, hand 1, hand 2, then repeat TIP: Coordinate your nail polish with the outfit you picked out so you’ll feel extra special on Monday!

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09:45 PM Curl up with your favorite blanket (Nordstrom), tea and read a book! 📚 (Amazon).

10:45 PM Brush your teeth wit an Oral-B electronic toothbrush (Amazon) and Tom’s Toothpaste (Amazon).

10:50 PM Protect your lips with La Mer Lip Balm (Nordstrom) and hands with L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream (Nordstrom) or La Mer Hand Treatment (Nordstrom). I like them both!

11:00 PM Put on a fancy sleep mask and get some zzz’s! (Nordstrom) 😴💤 tip: get the matching pillowcase, too (Nordstrom)

lamerFinal thought: DO NOT rush the process!!! If you find yourself rushing through steps or wondering if you’re doing it right you are missing the point! It’s called #PamperMeSunday for a reason!! Enjoy feeling fabulous! 😘

*This product is not cheap! Use no more than a quarter-size for your upper body and another quarter-size for your lower half. Squeeze your sea sponge frequently to maximize the product.

K Michelle & Beats1Radio

I listened to Beast1 Radio (on my Mac) for the fist time today. Why? Because my ABSOLUTE FAV, K Michelle, premiered the single, #NotALittleBut, for #Album3. Because I follow her on Instagram and Twitter and have setup alerts on one or more of those mediums (a girl will not tell), I instantly got the notification to tune into Beats1Radio a mere 30 minutes before the premier was played. The artwork is amazing. I looked at it and literally said to myself WOW! You can listen to the song on YouTube here.

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I listened to the song, smiling the entire time and nodding my head in anticipation of K’s new single. And I was not disappointed. The song is fire, just as  expected. Make no mistake, K Michelle has a HUGE following. I went to her concert in Atlanta last year (wouldn’t miss it for the world) and 99% of the audience sang every single word of every single song (yours truly included). I loe K Michelle. I continued to listen to Beats1 Radio for the next 90 minutes and I actually really enjoyed it. Rev Run was up after K’s premier talking about the origins of hip hop, which was great. I WILL tune in again.

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So now, here’s the funny part. I’ve written about my preference for Spotify before; but, after tonight’s experience I started revisiting in my mind why I picked  Spotify over Apple Music in the first place. The only thing I really remember about Apple Music was liking that the background was white (Spotify’s is black). nothing else really stood out. I also thought about the Spotify features I use the most (playlists and top tracks in the US). So then I searched for “Spotify vs. Apple Music” (Bri’s Commandment #4) just to see what would come up. Here are some of the top headlines I found – I did NOT read any of these articles, just the titles:

  • Apple Music Is Now a Bigger App Than Spotify, Nielsen Finds Digital Music
  • Apple Music reportedly approaches half as many paid subscribers as Spotify The Verge
  • New and interesting music is harder to find than ever The Economist
  • Music Streaming Revenue Doubles, Google Play Passes Apple Billboard

(If you can’t tell, I’m referencing these articles so I can revisit them when I get ready to do another analysis, RE: Spotify Music vs. Spotify)

I haven’t made a move or a decision about my music streaming service based on the limited facts/notes listed above. The point I’m trying to highlight is that I am actually THINKING about why I chose Spotify over Apple Music, just because my absolute favorite artist debuted her new single on Beats1Radio, just be K Michelle pulled me there. If tonight would have never happened, I wouldn’t have given Apple Music two seconds of my brain power. I had been chalked that off. This profound because I never really thought an artist would have any influence over my decision about which music service I subscribe to.

Music is everything to me and I must have unrestricted access, hence I WILL pay. Maybe I’ll give Apple Music another try. Maybe I’ll stick with Spotify. #staytuned #2postsin1day #winning #loveblogging

September 2015 – the month of the Black Woman

I’m calling September 2015 the month of the black woman. Incredible things have happened. Not just in terms of what black women have accomplished – that has been happening for many years – but in terms of ACKNOWLEDGEMENT by the media. This is a hot topic that has been talked about in The Huffington Post, The New York Times and others news/media outlets. I’m summarizing a few of the awesome news stories / articles you can read up on at your leisure, complete with pictures, videos and tweets from social media.

  • The Emmy’s: How to Get Away with Murder’s Viola Davis became the the first African-American to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama. Viola is amazing and her speech was perfect – she came out rocking her natural hair and did not shy away from the significance of the moment, quoting Harriet Tubman. Also, Orange is the New Black’s Uzo Aduba won Best Supporting Actress Drama category and American Crime‘s Regina King as Supporting Actress in a Limited Series Or Movie — a record for diversity in the top categories. (Deadspin).
  • TV and Advertising: Shonda Rimes had an amazing spotlight in Essence magazine, called ShondaLand, featuring her hit shows on ABC: Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder and Scandal. You should definitely buy this issue – all the covers are fabulous. It was also just announced that the hit show Empire on Fox, produce by Lee Daniels, starring Emmy nominee Taraji P. Henson, is getting Getting Half a Million Dollars for 30 Seconds of Ad Time – that’s as much as it costs in some top-tier NFL programming. #score
  • Movies. The Perfect Guy, starring Sanaa Lathanwon the box office its opening weekend with a gross of nearly $26 million.
  • Magazine Covers: We’re talking majors here. Vogue (Beyonce), New York (Serena Williams), Self (Kerry Washington), Essence (Misty Copeland), i-D (Willow), Dazed (Amandla Stenberg), Shape (Ciara), Variety (Queen Latifah) – all in the month of September. This is definitely first. Buy one or all of them. Check out Black Enterprise for more great shots. When black women are on the cover of major magazines, we should support it with our dollars by purchasing a copy of the magazine.
  • Music: Last night during The Emmy’s, Apple released a new ad featuring Mary J. Blige, Kerry Washington and Taraji P. Henson promoting Apple Music. You can watch it here. Beyonce also headlined Jay Z’s Made In America fest in Philadelphia and brought the house down! #wishiwasthere You can watch her full performance here.
  • Sports: Serena Williams is #1 tennis player in the world. She is also the first person since Stephie Graff (1988) to play for a chance to complete a Calendar year Grand Slam. She also launched a new campaign with Chase. (This is a happy post so I won’t talk about her pay discrepancy or endorsement deals, you can read more about that in The Atlantic).
  • Politics. Loretta Lynch was recently photographed for Vogue Magazine and recently spoke to the Congressional Black Caucus (transcript here). She has an even more magnificent spread in the October issue of Essence. President Obama also paid homage to Amelia Boynton Robinson who died last month at age 104 and other female civil rights leaders. “Even if they weren’t allowed to run the civil rights organizations on paper, behind the scenes they were the thinkers and the doers making things happen each and every day, doing the work that no one else wanted to do.” At this conference Essence and BWR also release the results from its survey, “The Power of the Sister Vote.” The results are not alarming. #wevote Read the results here.
  • Fashion and Beauty. Janelle Monae is the Face of COVERGIRL’s Star Wars Collaboration and Samira Wiley will hit the runway for Christian Siriano.

The very essence of this post alone shows that the country is showing the positive faces of many Black Americans in an array of fields.The many faces of Black American Women. And I’m almost sure I missed something we should feel good about. These features should make us  all proud, they certainly make me smile. And while our individual efforts may not be showcased to the general public, the question I have for you is, “What are you doing to continue to display and embody these positive messages and themes?” #BeTheChange #readAnything

“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone is opportunity,” Viola Davis

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Gosh my banking is so much easier!! 💁🏾#chasebanking

A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on

 

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Music (Streaming) Business

Apple’s 15th World Wide Developer’s Conference was held today. To say that I was underwhelmed is an overstatement. As a person who owns an iPhone, iPad and Mac – I feel completely stupid and reckon this is what Avid Google / Android users have been saying for years… lack of innovation, more of the same, just in a shiny new package. Now, don’t get me wrong, I (still) love all my iDevices but this 2.5 hour event today left me thinking one thing, “Has Apple lost its way?” Or as Spotify’s CEO put it.. “Oh, ok.” (sigh)

Any who … This post is about the business (or lack thereof) of streaming music so let me get to it. There are, what I consider to be 4 key players in this space: Pandora, Spotify, Tidal and now Apple. I’m writing this post, purely based on my own thoughts (will go back and links / references later). Oh, and let me just say right up front that I don’t care really about Amazon music – it’s too hard to use on my iPhone and clearly Google Music doesn’t fit very well into my iLife. Yes, YouTube is huge on music & videos but it currently has no pay-for-play model, but there is speculation it will soon launch a pay-service as well.

So, here we go:

  • Pandora: I can’t imagine anyone pays for this service. I suspect most people who live in this space want free music and are not willing to listen to a few ads along the way – it’s like listening to radio in your car: someone else picks the order, you listed with an ad here and there. (You can indeed listen ad-free for $5 month.)
  • Spotify: My service of choice and the first company to really put streaming music on the map. To reference a marketing term I learned while pursuing my MBA, Spotify has the “first mover advantage”. In essence it is the advantage gained by the initial occupant of a market segment. To be honest, this service I think, appeals to regular people who want to listen to music without ads and are looking to have a decent mobile experience – that’s it. Fanciness not required, nor is access to “behind the scenes, exclusive content”. We like music but don’t WORSHIP artists – we’ll just take the music and go on our merry way. To provide some perspective here, Spotify has 15 million paid users! I pay my $9.99 month and go on my merry way – no hassle. And I’m likely hooked for a very long time.
  • Tidal: Recently introduced to the market, offering higher quality music than anyone else at $19.99 / month. The market here is clearly businesses / DJ’s / artists – I meant the people who are seriously into music, like a whole lot, who can actually hear the difference in higher quality music.Now, think about this – yes, Tidal has a $9.99 / month package, but really at this price point Spotify wins, if not purely on user experience. Let’s guesstimate here: Assume Tidal has 1,000,000 users who pay $19.99 / month. Now do the math: $19.99 / month * 12 months * 1,000,000 users = $2.8 billion. Is this enough to offset its lack of appeal to middle-of-the-road users? Only time will tell!
  • Apple Music: After listening to WWDC today, there’s nothing special here. I actually got really bored. I was completely underwhelmed with the “Connect” experience aimed to draw in a social element – but where’s Twitter / Facebook / Instagram integration – you know, the services people actively use today? (lacking) Beats 1 the 24/7 global radio station led by some tope industry DJ’s seemed the most fascinating but not enough for me to switch. The draw for Apple was to appeal to families: up to 6 people can list (and get their own “space” for playlists, etc. for $14.99 / month; but, Spotify came right out and said it would match that. So what is Apple’s angle? Using its’ $178 billion in cash to squeeze out its’ competition. Cue the DOJ.

These companies are focused on segmenting their not-very-unique service/offering by user group / audience / community. They are not innovating. In addition, musicians and tech companies are doing a disservice to the music industry as a whole by pitting Artist A vs. Artist B. And Apple has been widely accused of starting the downfall of the music industry all by itself by offering “cheap, digital singles. We’ve also seen the continued consolidation of the music industry down to 3 key players (Universal, Sony, Warner). Recently, PBS also reports that in 1999 the music industry was worth a $14 billion dollar industry and in 2001 it was at half that amount, $7 billion. What do you think it’s work today???

I tried Tidal because of the “oh and ah factor” – I mean Jay Z? Beyonce? Who wouldn’t dip their toe in the water? But, that thrill didn’t last long! I have no intentions of trying Apple Music, even though they are offering 3 months free (right on the heels of Spotify offering 3-months for $0.99). Why should I? I mean, the features are the same as Spotify and there will be a learning curve – no matter how small. So for Apple Music – it’s a no for me.  #SorryNotSorry (can’t you just see Apple squeezing everyone out then raising prices once they are the only player left int the game? Let’s hope Spotify can figure out a way to survive. Competition is a good thing!