Friday, December 27, 2013

Working out is not one size fits all - Mr. #ShutUpandTrain


Before long, we will be counting down the final hours of 2013, and celebrating the start of a new year. To many, this is their chance for a new beginning or an opportunity to transform. I think it is the perfect time to clean your slate and set goals you’ve been avoiding or have been too afraid to tackle. This year, I am heading into the New Year with the goals to shed a few pounds, get in shape and just give myself a healthy boost. 

Like many, I feel clueless when it comes to working out and making it work for me. So I decided to ask a professional how to make it work this time around. Ray "Mr. Shut Up and Train" Grayson, a celebrity trainer in Atlanta, and the man behind The 30 Day Challenge that has been sweeping the nation, was kind enough to share some great advice with me in an interview. Ray has helped hundreds of people achieve their fitness goals with his 30 Day Challenges and his signature style of training, which focuses on keeping your heart rate elevated and your body in motion. Check out our interview below to get some inspiration for a fitter you.

To avoid paying for a pricey gym membership, how can I get the most out of my apartment gym? Keeping in mind that my apartment gym has limited equipment.
The biggest thing is having a plan. A lot of people, when they get to the gym on their own get discouraged when they don’t know what to do. With all of the free tools online, before you even get to the gym you should have a planned workout of what you want to do. The equipment or lack thereof isn’t an excuse; you can get the workout you want as long as you have a plan.

How do people without trainers know how to keep their workout fresh?  How can we plan our workout so that we don’t get bored and give up?
Sign up for something like The 30 Day Challenge or the Total Fit Challenge where we send out weekly workouts and motivational emails. Livestrong.com and Bodybuilding.com are great too, there are just so many free resources online. There is no excuse. Focus on what you want to be.

What's the biggest myth about fitness that drives you crazy?
That it’s supposed to be easy or that people feel like they’re going to get these microwave results. It’s a process; it’s about making healthy lifestyle changes.

What is one workout you think everyone should do?
My favorite exercise personally is the burpee, love it. New York Times said it was the number one exercise in the world, or the most efficient. I don’t think there is one workout for everybody. It's not one size fits all. Whatever fits your time, your budget and keeps you excited and motivated. Whatever you can commit yourself to.

What's one workout everyone does that they should just stop doing (for example, crunches)?
There are some things that are definitely more effective than others. And there are some things that I don’t personally love but there are people that swear by them. If you are getting your body moving, staying active and getting healthy then I applaud you. Whatever is going to get you to your goals, that’s the key. There is nothing wrong with crunch/sit up. Some people that don’t do them correctly, you run a high risk of injury when not doing them correctly. Make sure you're using correct form. That is the key.

How many days a week should we workout?

You should do something active at least 4-5 days a week. Doesn't always mean the gym or a run. Walk through the park, basketball, ice skating, just getting active.

How do you feel about juicing, and all of these milkshake supplements programs?
A supplement is just that, it’s there to supplement a healthy lifestyle that you’re already doing. The key is to commit to healthy eating, active lifestyle and finishing your workouts. You can then dibble and dabble in some different supplements and shakes.

Do you encourage calorie counting?
I personally don’t. I like balanced meals. I think people get caught up in numbers. I don’t stress numbers at all. I do baseline assessments with clients and then we may not do any numbers or measurements for awhile. You know what’s going on in your body. Your clothes will fit better. Most people are uninformed that muscle weighs more than fat anyway, it’s dense. The numbers may not be coming down but your body is tightening up and you’re developing some muscles so you’re losing some fat. You’re getting your goal but your scale may not be moving the way that you have set in your mind that it’s suppose to move.

What is your favorite protein bar?
I actually only do protein bars occasionally and I’ll do a Clif or Detour bars. I prefer to eat my protein; meat, chicken or I’ll just do a shake after a workout because it will get in my bloodstream quicker. Some of the protein bars are glorified candy bars, they’re just like a Snickers on steroids.

Do you see value in things such as Nike Fuel Bands?
Yes because some people are motivated by numbers and some people might need a reality check. Some people aren't working at the level they think they’re working out at. Just don't get caught up in the numbers.

When does your next challenge start?
Next challenge starts January 7th. This is our 21 Days to a Happier Healthier You. The premise is that it takes 21 days of repeating anything to create a habit. And for the people already living healthy lifestyles, you’ll get great workouts or recipes that you've never had before.

My interview with Ray was extremely informative, the biggest thing that I learned is that, working out is not one size fits all. It's all about finding out what works for you. Ray talked about how some people are in love with the idea of being in shape but not in love with the process of getting in shape. I am completely guilty of that. Everyone looks amazing in their Instagram photos and I dream of looking like that but what am I really doing to get there. Nothing. He suggested that to get there you have to fall in love with the process. Go into it knowing it won't be easy. Stick with it knowing it will be worth it. There is strength in numbers and accountability partners. This is why Ray’s challenges do so well, he is creating a community and utilizing social media to bring people together to help each other reach goals.

Don't forget to check out the next challenge starting January 6th, 21 Days to a Healthier Happier You. You can sign up for the challenge here www.mrshutupandtrain.com/30daycc. It's absolutely free. Make sure to follow Ray on social media for constant inspiration and motivation. You can find him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. This guy is the real deal and was a true joy to talk to. I got a lot of great information from him and look forward to the 21 Day Challenge starting in January. 




Friday, December 20, 2013

The Friday Five Featuring the #JollyVoxBox!

As you may already know, over the past few months I have tried to figure out how to grow my blog and post more. Partnering with great brands is a sure fire way to grow your blog and increase visibility. Through research I found Influenster, which is a great company that deals in blogger activation and connects bloggers to major brands. For my first campaign I received the #JollyVoxBox which included the following five items.

1. Puffs Ultra Soft & Strong To Go Tissue Pack
Who doesn't love puffs? We all grew up with them as a kid. We took a box of them to school to satisfy our elementary school teachers. Well forget the box, when you're on the go you need the To Go Pack! Love them. Way better than using your sleeve.

2. NYC New York Color HD Color Trio Eye Shadow
Such a cute little trio of colors. I tried it on and it gives you a very subtle but nice look. I'll use it again for sure.

3. Rimmel London NEW Show Off Lip Lacquer
The color I received was a very sheer and sparkly color. I like it. I've been using it on top of some of my darker and brighter colors. Great addition to color and alone.

4. Skinny Cow Candy
The new love of my life. Chocolate candy with creamy peanut butter in the middle. One, I don't LOVE chocolate but I could eat this all day every day for the rest of my life. Just saying. Three little squares for only 130 calories. So if I eat 10 packages of these a day that is my calorie count of the day...oh wait. Damn it. Seriously, love them though!

5. Ducklings Mini Rolls
Love! We have all seen all of the fun Duck Tape out there but this isn't the old school huge tape. This is cute smaller tape with beautiful designs. I used it to hang my Christmas lights on the wall. Way better then the ugly tape I was using before ha :)

As a blogger if you are interested in becoming an influencer in the blogosphere, I highly recommend Influenster. You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.

These products were complimentary for testing purposes from Influenster.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I Think I Am in Friend-Love With You


I Think I Am in Friend-Love With You


Sweet, might just be the best word to describe this book. When I agreed to review this book I didn't know what to expect. It's a very quick read filled with pictures and very few words. Clearly right up my alley! I wanted to read this book because I really loved the idea of friend-love and learning what it was all about. As short as this book is it's cute and really sends a great message of friendship.

We all have friends, and each of them means something different and unique to us. Some friends serve specific purposes in your life, whereas others are more well rounded and there for every twist and turn. This book celebrates friend-love, a totally platonic, yet super close friendship. I like that it promotes being happy for your friends when they have someone and supporting them.

This would be a great gift for a friend. I highly recommend checking I Think I am in Friend-Love With You out! The author, Yumi Sakugawa, is a comic book artist and illustrator. This is actually her first book. Kudos to Yumi, this was a really cute book.

Great artwork for your home that you can afford!


BirdAve is your solution for affordable art for your home or office. I recently received this photo of the Chicago skyline and it's beautiful. It will fit perfectly in my kitchen. The pop of color really makes the print stand out. 

BirdAve offers prints of your favorite sports team, city, or special place you have traveled, with their very unique prints. They have over 750 prints for you to choose from with series including music, sports, children, lifestyle and different cities around the world. Not only can you choose your print but you can choose it's background color to match your house or office.

What I really liked was the fact that if you couldn't find something that you loved there is an option to customize a print for the very same price! They have 8.5 x 11, 11 x 14, and 16 x 20. I'm all about customized pieces so that your decor stands out! 

To take a look at what they have go to  http://www.birdave.com

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Shop, Sip, Socialize - VIP Ticket Giveaway!

We all know I love a good event. Coming up, Sunday December 15th is another really fun Sassy City Chicks event here in Chicago. I'll be attending with a few friends to get pampered and check out all the great booths. 

I have a limited number of VIP tickets available to give out to readers of The Savvy Brunette. If you are interested in a VIP ticket for the December 15th event leave a comment on this blog and I will send you the code.

Learn more about the event here!

Monday, December 2, 2013

How To Change The World -- One Box at a Time!

Paper or plastic, is no longer a question you only have to consider at the grocery store. 

Over the summer, at Lollapalooza, I saw many concert goers drinking water out of paper cartons. I was intrigued but like all too many things I got busy and learning more about paper water cartons got put on the back burner. Just recently, I learned about Icebox, a very popular brand of water in a box. The great thing about Icebox Water is that as a company they aren't just out to mae sales but they are on a mission to change the world—and they are already making a huge difference!

Icebox boasts that it is BPA free, which until now I didn't understand. After seeing it everywhere I decided to look into BPA further. BPA is a controversial chemical used to line cans, they have found that it can even raise child's risk for developing heart problems or kidney disease. Whether or not this is a proven fact, or just something currently being studied, this should be alarming enough to make us think about what we are really letting our bodies come in contact with.

For as long as I can remember, recycling has been a hot topic. I remember going to a recycling plant in grade school seeing all of the recyclables compound together in a huge plant. Icebox understands the importance of recycling, their pressed paper carton is made from renewable resources and is recyclable. Another nice plus that you get when supporting this brand. 

As for taste, it definitely has a different taste to it. I could describe it as a clean taste. It's better than tap water than I tend to typically drink. I'd definitely start to drink Icebox and look for paper cartons. 
Learn more about Icebox Water on their website, Facebook, and TwitterJoin the conversation on Twitter and Instagram with #RefreshNaturally.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Look Flawless with TEMPTU's Airbrush Makeup Kit

 


I have always really enjoyed makeup, and trying new looks. When I was given the opportunity to try TEMPTU’s Airbrush Makeup KitI was beyond excited. It was coming at the perfect time with my birthday being a week from when the kit was to arrive. I had planned to have my makeup professionally done for a dinner, but with TEMPTU on its way I figured I could give it a try myself this year! I had already heard so much about TEMPTU’s spray makeup but I was always afraid to try it. It looked like a system that needed to be used by a professional makeup artist. After using it, I realized boy was I wrong! TEMPTU makeup is for everyone.

When I got my TEMPTU airbrush kit in the mail the first thing I did was read the instructions and hop online to get some tips to learn how to apply it correctly. TEMPTU has a great  How To video from their makeup artist that teaches you easy to follow tips and tricks. They also have some additional resources which can be found here. After watching the video, I felt ready to give it a try. In my kit I got TEMPTU foundation, blush and highlighter. It may have been first timers luck, but my first application was even and it looked great (see picture below). The nice thing was that the entire application process took minutes and there was no need to layer and cake on different products. TEMPTU foundation looked great and made my skin look clear and blemish free with one overall spray. I also used the blush and highlighter, which is a little hard to see in the photo because I kept it pretty light. You can layer the spray on to make it darker, but I was getting ready to go run errands so wanted that all natural look. Maybe the best part about the makeup was that it stayed ALL DAY. No joke. I looked at it later at night and it was still there, in the same place where we started in the morning. Normally my blush is gone by like 11am and the rest has started to wear off by end of day. Not with TEMPTU. Great lasting look.

The cool thing  TEMPTU’s Airbrush Makeup Kit and AIRpod makeup is that they were the first to create this easy-to-use home airbrush makeup system. They actually created this system for professional makeup artists and as the brand grew it morphed into something the everyday woman could use at home.With the Airbrush Makeup Kit you really are getting a professional grade system that you can use everyday with ease.

TEMPTU does a great job at sharing how-to tips and videos as well as great offers on all of their social media channels. I encourage you to check out their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn more about the TEMPTU system. While exploring TEMPTU’s social media I saw so many famous faces that used the makeup system. Some of the biggest celebs out there are using the exact same system that I have been trying out over the past week. I really enjoyed seeing different TEMPTU looks on Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry, Scarlett Johansson, Beyonce and Madonna. It just shows the diversity in the brand. It works for women of all ages and skin colors. TEMPTU is also the chosen makeup system  for artists who do the makeup for major runway shows such as Prada, Dior, BCBG and Herve Leger. There is something to be said for a stamp of approval from all of these great makeup artists who work with the top talent around the world in fashion, music, film and television.

AWESOME GIVEAWAY ALERT
I have been given the opportunity to host an AWESOME giveaway for my followers. One of you can win your very own TEMPTU Signature Airbrush Makeup Kit which includes the system, foundation, blush and highlighter! This kit starts at $149 so this really is a great giveaway. TEMPTU did not stop there with their generosity, they gave me a 20% discount offer (Code C0KA8PHK) not just for myself but to share with my readers. This would be a terrific gift for a girlfriend or anyone in your family that loves makeup. Be the all star gift giver this year and save 20% while doing it! I’m thinking about getting this spray on makeup system for my mom! She’d love it.


HERE IS YOUR CHANCE TO WIN YOUR VERY OWN 
TEMPTU AIRBRUSH MAKEUP SYSTEM
a Rafflecopter giveaway

CONGRATS TO THE SAVVY BRUNETTE'S WINNER LINDA MCCONNELL. ENJOY!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Using Vimbly to make your plans


One of my favorite things about Chicago is that there are endless possibilities of things to do on any given day. The problem is always, how to choose though. That is where Vimbly comes into play. It's a new way to  book thousands of activities, classes & date ideas. These include dance, cooking, glassblowing, pizza making, wine tasting, learning to DJ, improvisation, scotch pairing, samurai sword fighting, persuasion class, and more. 

Vimbly gave me an opportunity to try out one of the activities for free to test out the ease of their site. My friend Sharrell and I chose the KOVAL Distillery tour as our first activity to try out through Vimbly. We had a blast. Easy to sign in at the event. I'll definitely continue to use Vimbly when choosing what do to in the city!

Another great thing is their customer service is exceptional. The confirmation email for the event that we attended did not make it into my inbox and my event when the event was coming up I sent a quick email over at 8pm on a Saturday night. Almost immediately, I got a response and my confirmation email forwarded to me. It's definitely worth a try! 

Don't forget to check out Vimbly here: http://www.vimbly.com/chicago

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 10 - Google the meaning of your name and talk about how it fits or doesn’t fit you

Nycole can be spelled many different ways. Regardless of spelling, the meaning is the same. It means victorious people. Interesting. When I think of victorious I think of a winner, someone who is triumphant. As of right now, I'm not feeling like a huge winner. Feeling rather frustrated, but with that being said it only means a victory is right around the corner. I have been very lucky to celebrate many victories in my life. Have to roll with the punches to enjoy the best times when they come your way.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day 9 - Your favorite “weird/funny single behavior”

Truckin along at a slow pace, but still doing the challenge. Day 9 - Your favorite “weird/funny single behavior”. 
I'm all about the weird. Just to put that out there. I am all about talking to myself and the TV when no one is around. Lets see, also, baby talk my dog all day long. That one might be the silliest one. I would get some laughs if people heard me. Also, walk around in nothing. Which coincidentally is weirding me out now that I have a dog lol. I feel like she knows I'm doing something weird and just looks at me strange haha. On days like today, I curse Michigan football and Devin Gardner. I've been known to threaten a quarterback during football season. Only when I'm home alone though, so that's ok right?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Day 8 - Five things that are most important to you in a future mate

I knew my 30 Day Blog Challenge would not be a consecutive 30 days, but hey I'm still doing it. 

Day 8 - Five things that are most important to you in a future mate...

ONE - GENUINE/HONEST I need someone that is real and authentic. Know what you want out of a relationship and present yourself that way. Don't talk the talk and run the other direction when it's time for you to deliver. Don't tell a woman you want a relationship and try to sleep with her on the first date. Be proud of who you are and represent yourself in an honest way.

TWO - 
GOAL DRIVEN Know what you want in your career and your future. Over the past year I have met so many men who live at home, just aren't sure, or are still chasing dreams without backup plans. Have plans. Dreams are great, chase them on the side or have a really damn solid plan to make it happen. Other goals are to have a nice home or live in a beautiful condo in the sky. Know where you want to be in 5, 10, 15 years. Could you imagine leaving your city? Do you want to live in a one bedroom forever? Plans, goals, dreams...have them! 

THREE - LOVING I don't want to ever guess if a man loves me or is in love with me. I want him to show me how he feels and tells me. I am very upfront with my feelings and I need the same in a partner. I want someone to go above and beyond. Do the little things as well as the big things. Know everything about me and care about my day. I don't want to get into some relationship that turns generic and boring. Love with everything you have. Give it your all. Grow what you have and enjoy every moment. 

FOUR - NOT A HOME BODY You only live once, get out and enjoy it. I love being out and about. I am not a home body at all. I'd prefer to be at a festival, event, having a drink or dinner. There is so much in life to experience and I have only just begun. I eventually need to get some traveling under my wing. I'd love to travel with someone. I absolutely love going to sporting events so I need someone who could go to a lot of games with me. Just getting out for a nice walk on the lake works too! It's just about living for the moment and enjoying life and all the options it has to offer. 

FIVE - PASSIONATE A relationship needs balance. We have to work on an emotional, mental and physical level. If we don't have passion and an undeniable spark we will get bored with each other sooner than later. Chemistry is extremely important. I dated someone in the past and my lack of attraction to him killed my interest in him. It made all the issues stand out more than ever. 

I really don't think any of these things are extremely difficult. I also, do not think I'm asking too much by wanting these things. I'm not asking for three homes, a fleet of cars and diamonds every month ;) All of those things wouldn't hurt, but hey a girl can do without them! One place to live, something for each of us to drive and a big fat ring when the time comes. Count me in. 



Friday, October 25, 2013

Day 7 - Where you are in your life vs. where you thought you would be at this point

With 31 knocking on my door I definitely thought I would be in a relationship by now. I thought I would have felt love by now and experienced life with a great man. Things definitely have not turned out that way. Instead, I spent my 20s, and 30th year worry about career and working and trying to find happiness and balance there.

I'm missing love and marriage. That hasn't entered my picture yet and it's something that I truly want and need in my life.

It's hard to plan for life when you're constantly growing and changing. I know that in my almost 9 years in Chicago I have changed significantly as a person. For this very reason I try really hard not to compare what I have to what I want. There is too much of a bummer factor. I am a perfectionist and not being where I want is a downer. I do know that the progress I have made as a professional and as a person is more than I could have imagined in my young life. Sometimes what you want comes when you need it and not when you want it. I know love will come, it might just not be the right time yet.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 6 - Sound off on the quote “Every woman has the exact love life she wants”

Sound off on the quote “Every woman has the exact love life she wants”.

SAY WHAT?? I know I'm doing this blog challenge, but I cannot even imagine how this quote is something people genuinely believe. How can you even judge this. I have a feeling that no one ever has the love life they really want, female or male. There is always something else that we want or crave. If you love his smile and how he treats you, he may be horrible in the sack. This is coming from the girl that believes in true love. I don't think there is an exact about anything in life. Thinking that way is setting yourself up for major failure. You have to know the things that make you happy and find a person that fits that puzzle best.

Honestly, I am the EXACT opposite of having exactly what I want in my love life. I have no love life in fact. I want one. I want real, genuine, forever love with great chemistry and passion. I have stupid memories of an ex that still loom over my heart to make sure it's not completely healed. This is nothing close to exactly what I want.

The exact love life I want...wow I don't even know how to describe it. Single isn't it though ha. I know it would include me married in a successful marriage with a great man who made an effort to make me smile and laugh everyday. A guy who knew everything about me and could never get enough of me. Those are just a few of the things I'd need to have exactly the love life I wanted.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day 5 - Biggest misconception people have about single life

For some reason, people look at the single life as this glamorous life with endless possibilities. They envision dating someone different every night. One problem, you cannot just date whoever you want. Single life doesn't come with sparklers and fireworks. Single life comes with just as many, if not way more challenges. Dating is relatively impossible. Ok, that is an exaggeration. What is impossible is finding someone you want to date. Sure I could go on a date every single night with pretty much all men I have no interest in. Some women do that to get free meals, I am not that girl. I will not use someone for a free meal. 

People act like single people answer to no one so we can do whatever we want when we want. I mean, to an extent sure but we still have jobs and responsibilities. I think the people who normally have this opinion are those who settled way too early and never really went through a real stage of dating. Your 20s are for dating. Marriage shouldn't be allowed till after 25 years old. You have to figure so much out about yourself before you're truly prepared to settle down. Learn about life. Single isn't glamorous, give it a try. Experience the life. Learn about yourself. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day 4 - Your biggest fear as a single person

My biggest fear as a single person is that it's not just temporary but a permanent problem. In no way shape or form, is being single forever acceptable in my mind. At least not for me. I want the love and marriage lifestyle. It freaks me out to no end to think that I can want that so badly but have absolutely no real control over making it happen. I mean I guess at some point I could settle but then I wonder would I be happier settling for something I don't want or staying alone. 

I'm also afraid that if and when I meet someone that it won't last. That I'll give my all, my years, my heart, my life and then it just ends someday. I'm frightened that "till death do us part", will be more like till we can't stand each other or he cheats. As you can see, my level of trust in love and relationships is rather low. I base this off past experiences. I am extremely afraid of being hurt by someone. I wear my heart on my sleeve and probably give too much of myself to someone too early but I don't know how else to be. I don't mean sexually btw...just in case your wheels started to spin. It's silly but I start to imagine what a future could look like. To me, without that picture I don't know if I can date someone. I need to be able to picture them fitting with my future. I fear that it's so easy to picture me being married and having this beautiful ceremony but it's impossible to picture who the man is. I know when it's right he'll reveal himself, but will it be too late? Will I have already given up or settled?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Day 3 - Describe a moment/day when being single rocked

Day 3 of the Single Woman's 30 Day Blogging Challenge - Describe a moment/day when being single ROCKED. 

It rocks when I don't have to explain myself or answer to anyone. Specifically when a Friday night plan turns into an entire weekend of fun with friends. Honestly, I'd say for the most part I'd trade in my single card in a moment for the right man. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day 2 - Describe a moment/day when being single sucked.


Day 2 of the Single Woman's 30 Day Blogging Challenge - Describe a moment/day when being single sucked. 

This weekend. I'm not sure why, but I was really feeling the stress and pressure of being single this weekend. Maybe because I was thinking about my 31st birthday which is coming in a month. I don't necessarily have any ticking time clocks but my god I do not want to end up single and alone in the long run. I would love to meet someone and start dating them this year. Maybe 31 will be good luck for me. My 30th was great for professional and friendship purposes. 

Anytime when I see others together really happy it bums me out slightly because I want to have that and experience it. Learn what it's like. I genuinely have no idea what it's like to go on an amazing date with a man who cares about me. Yikes, I guess being single sucks more often then I might even want to admit. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

30 Day Challenge - Day 1 - Why are you still single

I have had some major writers block matched with lack of free time lately. I came across this really cool Single Woman's 30 Day Blogging Challenge. I decided to give it a go. Not promising that the 30 day challenge will be 30 consecutive days, but let's see what I can do. 

So here goes....Why am I single?
I love me, more than I love the idea of finding a partner right now. Don't get me wrong I want to be in love and get married someday. I have always wanted love and marriage. Happily ever after, all that stuff. I blame the Cosby's. I'm even ready for it and would welcome it into my life. Here is the thing, I thought I was ready my entire life but when I turned 30 I realized I couldn't have become the person I am if I would have found Mr. Right earlier in life. I'm one of those women who gives someone my all when I'm dating them. When I was younger I use to let dating and relationships interfere with other things I had going on in life. I have always worked hard to grow professionally but the older I get the more involved I get and the more I grow as a person. I don't think I could have done that or pushed myself if I was with someone and focusing on them and making something work. I don't think it's bad to be a woman who gives a man her all. I do think it's important to find a balance, and I think I finally understand what that means.

There is something to be said for the old saying, that god has a plan for each of us. I'm not religious but I do believe there are powers beyond us that have certain plans in place for us. With that being said I know myself and I know that love in my 20s could have had the power to derail my career and my progress. I know this in part because my ex almost derailed me. I'm still not over him and have mini relapses of judgement where I remember "the good times" and conveniently forget the bad. When things with him ended I pushed myself to start my freelance work and to get involved in more things that made me happy. I built stronger friendships with the people who meant the most to me and got closer to great new friends. Stressing about him was no longer at the center of my world. We dated long distance and I would skip events or not attend events just to Skype with him at night. I just didn't know how to separate myself from a relationship in my 20s. 


Now that I'm 30, I'm ready. I'm comfortable knowing what I want professionally and knowing who I am. Almost 31, and still single because at this point in my life it is not about settling quickly. I like to say that the focus goes from Mr. Perfect to "Mr. Right for my life situation and goals". I continue to meet men who were like me in my 20s...just not there. Not sure of who they are, what they want or how to treat a woman. I'll pass. There was even a man older than me who wanted me to be patient while he got his life together. Although I considered it because he was a good guy I realized I have to stop sacrificing my happiness by wasting time. When do I get the fun romantic dates that other girls get regularly.  I deserve it, so it's time to find it and stop making pit stops on the way with men who only occupy time. 

If you'd like to learn more about the type of man I'm looking for and how I feel about dating checklists please checkout SecretLivesChi.com a brand new singles blog I co-founded. Happy reading.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fave Five Friday


These are a few of my favorite things from this past week...

1. MAIZY!! - Meet my new little boxer girl. She is a purebred AKC registered boxer. We got her certificate today. She is a joy and a terror. Enjoying trying to figure this all out.
2. Friends - My two awesome friends Sharrell and Erin have been great with Maizy. They drove 3+ hours there and back to get her and bring her home. Erin even drove around with us so I could run a few errands this week. Yikes...good friends are so valuable. Thanks, girls! 
3. Family - It was my moms birthday this past week but this week she got her cool card which she really liked and that made me happy. Also, my nephew who I love Skyping with. His birthday is in a few days and I got him some stuff I think he'll love. He melts my heart everytime we're on the phone and he says Love You!! He wanted to name Maizy, Apple Puppy after his bunny who he named Apply Bunny lol. 
4. Friendly people- My new apartment mid-rise has the friendliest people working here. I am literally shocked at how day and night the difference is between my last place and this place. Everyone is so friendly and helpful and just loves Maizy! Glad I'm here. (And there are like two cute guys I've already scoped who live here.)
5. Restaurants that deliver- I haven't been able to really shop or cook much since Maizy has been here so it's been a HUGE help!! 


Happy Friday!!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fashion and Arts Humanities Fete

Purchase Tickets Here 
http://fahf-efbevent.eventbrite.com/
Looking forward to another great event here in Chicago. The 3rd Annual Fashion and Arts Humanity event is coming Saturday, October 26th. No clue what I'm going to wear because its semi-formal but this should be fun. It's at a great new venue called Harmony Event Venue (1908 South Millard Ave, Chicago). 

This is a fashion and art infused awards show. There will be live entertainment, fashion segments, art exhibits, food, red carpet, media, photography and even special appearances. 


Check out more details below and join me:
Time and Schedule:

5:00pm-6:45pm- Red Carpet Media Reception hosted by Miss Black South Chicago 2014 and Good Night Buzz!!! Enjoy the pre-show festivities including red carpet affairs, paparazzi , food, beverages, art exhibits, and more.

7:00-9:00pm – Fashion and Arts Humanity Fete’s Awards Presentation infused with live music and fashion production.

After Party: TBA

************2013 FAHF AWARD RECIPIENTS***************
New This Year: All guests will have a chance to meet the winners this year during our post celebration Meet & Greet! This will be your opportunity to connect with these Chi-Town powerful movers and shakers!!

Corrine Neal and Anthony Mosley of Collaboraction
Vau’ve Davis of Anais PR
Dianna Long of Urban Art Retreat
Julie Holloway of JMH Cre8ive Solutions
LaTonya Hubbard of Designing for Sickle Cell.
***

2013 FAHF Fashion Designers
Fermented Fruit
Bella and Sophia
Elizabeth Smith Fashions
Sarah Church
Amani Skalacki Jewelry

Music Performance by
Lights Alive Band

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Interview with Celebrity Make-Up Artist Gita Bass

When it comes to makeup, I love to have fun but keep it relatively simple. When it comes to skincare, I look for ways to keep my skin youthful. With that being said, you can only imagine how excited I was when I got the opportunity to interview Celebrity Make-Up Artist Gita Bass. Gita has created looks for celebs like Ashley Greene and Selena Gomez. Take a moment to view my interview with Gita to learn great, easy to follow tips to keep your skin healthy and your makeup flawless.




The interview was great, so many takeaways to use on a daily basis. Below you'll find my cliff notes!


1. What type of moisturizing regimen do you recommend to help keep skin youthful and healthy?
Gita stressed that you want to find a skin care line, like Simple Skincare that is gentle, with no dyes or harsh chemicals. Regardless of skin type, there is a moisturizer out there for everyone. 

2. When it comes to creating an everyday natural look with makeup what do you recommend?
In the fall, use a moisturizer that is a little richer with an SPF. Then add a little color to your cheeks and lips, then finish it off with mascara.

3. Great go to colors for fall makeup? Is there really a red lipstick for every woman?
There is a red lipstick for everyone…whew! Ladies with warm skin tones go for warm reds. Then for us pale ladies like myself we should look for a blue based or pinkish red. Also, deep purple and plum is totally ok for fall. Fall is also time for smokey eyes but with rich jewel tones.

4. How does the everyday woman get a flawless red carpet look that will stay put?
Waterproof and long wear products. Bronzer and gorgeous skin are key!

5. What is an appropriate meet the family look?
Whatever makes you feel the most beautiful and the most confident. Be yourself!

6. Great cleansing routine?
Gita recommend Simple cleansing wipes and eye makeup remover.  Always cleanse, tone, and moisturize nightly (note to self)!

If you know me, you know I am relatively impatient when it comes to my excitement for trying new things. To stay true to my craziness, I decided to go out and buy some of the Simple products the night of my interview with Gita. I went to the where to buy part of Simple's website and quickly was able to find a CVS right in my neighborhood. There, I found Simple's Face Care Starter Kit. What a great way to draw people in and have them try out multiple products.Well the Simple verdict is in, I love it. My face felt very clean and refreshed after using all three products.


Thank you to Simple Skincare and Gita Bass for this opportunity. I learned a lot about skin care and how to create some key makeup looks the Simple way ;) 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fave Five Friday

Time for my 5 favorite things from the week. 

ONE - I got to FaceTime with my nephew Charlie. He is such a smart little guy. He'll be two in a month. He always says, "I love you, aunt cole", and it melts my heart. He knows his aunt lives in Chicago and loves to FaceTime!

TWO - I purchased my iPhone 5s in gold this morning. Is suppose to ship next Tuesday. Hoping I get it next week! 
Random shot of me today.


THREE - Had a great night out with friends last night. Makes me realize how lucky I am to have such an amazing and diverse group of friends that can mix within different groups and all have a great time. 

FOUR - Downloaded iOS7 and it's pretty awesome. That is all :)

FIVE - Had a great meeting with a restaurant for a potential side social media project. Have to work on a proposal for them. A side project or two is always great for extra spending money. Plus, I love staying busy and connecting. It all eventually comes full circle. The more people you know the more you'll grow all around professionally. 

I have another favorite thing and its from the entire month. My salon introduced me to Bumble & Bumble Dryspun Finish Spray and Seaweed Shampoo. They make my hair...ahhhhmmmaaazzzing!! Love it. Not flat. Volume.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday's Five Faves

Today, I am jumping on a cool trend I noticed this morning. I saw at least 5-10 bloggers that I follow sharing five good things that happened to them this week. I will try to keep up with this every Friday, and call mine Friday's Five Faves. Don't be shocked if you sometimes see this posted on Saturday ha. 

1. I made Crockpot Chicken & Shrimp Gumbo and it was delicious. Super easy to make. I created a recipe and shared it here. By "created" I mean I took variations of about 5 different recipes then added and subtracted to make my own!

2. iPhone 5s announcement - Yep, I'm a dork. I am so ready for a new phone. I have the 4s still, so it's time for an upgrade! Now I just need someone to wait in line with me September 20th. 

3. Talked to one of my favorite friends on the phone today. Her and I have kept in touch for years and we always will but today was a great day where we finally sat down for a phone conversation. I hope to go visit her in NYC soon. She has always not only been a mentor to me but also just like a big sister. 

4. This may seem super insignificant but the blinds in my new apartment went up this week. I had paper blinds for two weeks. They did the trick but looked tacky. Now I have really nice heavy blinds up! My place feels very completed.  

5. My old best friend added me on LinkedIn after not talking for 3 years. Ok, this one sounds weird, I know. I met my best guy friend in college, he quickly became like a little brother. We stayed close for about 5 years after I graduated college. I am extremely close with his family to this day. About 3 years ago he met a girl, who I feel brainwashed him OR something. He stopped talking to me and his family when they got serious. I stopped trying to call a year into him never responding. A year ago I tried to email him but never heard anything. This past week I added him on LinkedIn thinking maybe he'd add me back and then I could email him. He connected. I emailed him. No response, yet. We shall see. 

Happy Friday Everyone! Have a wonderful weekend :) 


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Puppy Love

And they called it puppy love 
Oh I guess they'll never know 

How a young heart really feels 

And why I love her so

Ok....so I'm being slightly dramatic. I have wanted a dog for so long but the timing and situation was just never right. Now I live alone and work from home...it's TIME! My apartment has pretty strict pet rules about "aggressive" breeds which bums me out. Dogs when raised right are not going to be aggressive. So a pit bull is out, which was my initial want. 


I started my hunt one Saturday at one of Chicago's adoption facilities. Found a dog that I fell in love with. This little guy was so cute. He is in the picture! His sheet said Boxer/Shepherd. Boxers are ok. Shepherds not so much. I felt like that could be hidden because it wasn't part of the look. I get home and realize they changed the breed to American Bulldog...sucks. Can't have that breed either. I went up there Sunday and talked to a woman who worked there to learn more about the breed and why they kept changing it. She gave me several other it could be. None of which it looked like in hundreds of photos online, but I was stuck. Hands tied. She was wrong and I could do nothing about it. Unfortunately, the dog just was too much of an unknown breed wise so I would not have been able to pass him with my apartment. The woman also was hinting to me that if it was even questionable that they would deny me for the dog. 


I now know how much I want a dog though. The hunt continues. I think I want a boxer mix for sure. They grow up kind of ugly but that gives it character. I know I will fall in love with the dog and not care if it's a little less attractive as it ages ;) 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Crockpot Chicken & Shrimp Gumbo

By no means is TheSavvyBrunette.com a food blog. Mainly because I cook like... NEVER. Ever since I moved into my new apartment I have had the urge to cook. Well this is the second time in a week so to me that is a huge urge ha. Anyhow, about a month ago I had chicken gumbo for the first time ever and it was delicious. Since then I have wanted to recreate it and add shrimp. I love shrimp. I'm relatively good at following directions so I figured I could pull this off. My only issue is that I don't like specific things so I always find about 3 recipes and chop them apart to make my own. This is what you see below. My version. I completely forgot to buy cornbread, which would have been amazing with this. Oops. Don't you forget. If you try this let me know how it works out and if you put your own flare to it. 

Before

Crockpot Time - 6 hours
Crockpot Temp - Low
Prep - 20 minutes
Makes about 4-6 servings!


Ingredients

Meats
1 lb uncooked shrimp
1 lb boneless chicken - cut into small cubes

Veggies
1 package frozen okra, thawed out
1 chopped green pepper1 cup chopped red onions 
2 chopped celery stalks


Spices
1 bay leaf
After
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon of Creole Gumbo File (don't really know what it is, but the package said it was "great on gumbo")

Bases
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups tomato sauce (thin)

Grain
2 cups cooked rice

Directions

Pull out that trusty crockpot of yours. Add in EVERYTHING but the rice and shrimp. Mix everything well, cover and cook on low for 6 hours. The last 30 minutes add your uncooked shrimp. When you're ready to serve then serve it over rice. Do not put the rice in the crockpot unless you like mush. 

Whoop there it is....
....and it was damn good ;) 

If you aren't a gumbo person but want to try something you should try my Baked Mac & Cheese which I know is pure perfection! 


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Online Dating - Can Women Make Moves Too?

How is it that online dating still has a relatively large stigma attached to it? It's 2013, a third of couples getting married met online. Lets all get over it. Shake it off. It is just online dating. Do not be embarrassed that your Mr./Mrs. Right didn't just fall off the turnip truck. Effort isn't a bad thing. People aren't meeting in grocery stores and at church as much as they use to. By the way, in the history of love did anyone really ever meet at the grocery store? I don't believe it. I want proof.

Today, there is a dating site for everyone - paid, free, straight, gay, second time around, and even sugar babies. I know about that one because my co-worker use to look at it (you know who you are). I'm sure somewhere out there there is a dating site for people who are gluten free. There really is a site for every type of person. Not only websites but now things like groupers exist and apps where you can swipe through potentials.

Here is maybe my biggest issue with people and online dating. Women who sign up for online dating sites and even pay for it but REFUSE to ever say hi to a man or even "flirt" or "wink" whatever the case may be. I do not understand the concept. Oh wait, there is more. These same women will complain that not enough men are contacting them. At this point I normally wonder if their parents dropped them when they were children. I completely agree that a man should take charge and event court a woman BUT to get to that point he has to meet you. There are thousands of people on dating sites, especially in big cities. Why not say hi to a guy who looks like a great fit. Spark a conversation. Don't worry that does not mean you have to propose and buy the ring. The weird thing is that I see this mainly with older friends who are still single. Break out of your shell. If things haven't worked your way yet, give something else a try. If you absolutely hate trying it then don't do it a second time.

I personally think a great match for everyone is out there. Maybe several. I don't think they all have to be in our backyard or just so happen to see you first and say hi to you first. If you want love and happily ever after and all that wonderful stuff put yourself out there more and maybe even say hi to someone first. It doesn't hurt. I mean no one likes when someone is not interested back but geez its online its not like it was a face to face rejection. Nut up ladies.

If you're one of these women I want to understand why? What is the harm in a hi to get the conversation started? You could be missing out on a wonderful catch. 


Join me on Facebook Follow me on Twitter Follow me on G+ Follow me on Linkedin