1.Rachel Roy Party Shift Dress via Jaci Blue // 2. The Crybaby Club Big Girl Panties Enamel Pin via Jaci Blue // 3. The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna // 4. Shortcakes from Callie’s Charleston Biscuits // 5. Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey // 6. Women’s Mayliss 6-inch Boots by Timberland // 7. Lady Bey Votive Candle (similar)
It’s that time of year again! The holiday season is upon us. And not a moment too soon given the BAMBOOZLE OF A YEAR that we’ve lived through. If I thought that we needed a Feel-Good Gift Guide last year, then this year we need a Feel-GREAT Guide, amirite? The last 11 months were a series of ups and downs for me.
The Ups? Celebrating my birthday 5 months early at Trinidad Carnival; a fun family Spring Break road trip to Charlotte, NC; witnessing The Teen run in the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics at North Carolina AT&T and qualify for Nationals; pouring into the businesses of my Cycle 2 influencers in the Rockstar Program; presenting at Black Social Media Summit in Austin during SXSW; getting my whole entire life at Odyssey Retreat in Amelia Island as a guest of Coca-Cola; the Tween starting Middle School; rescuing a Bulldog/Boxer mix named Lola; giving a keynote talk at sea during the Midwest Women’s Empowerment Summit cruise; eating my face off in New Orleans at the Being Boss Vacation; producing the 9th Annual Blogalicious Weekend in Miami…
The Downs? Above everything, the complications that resulted from my hysterectomy and the 6 weeks of tubes, physical and emotional suffering and procedures that followed. The other major down? Your president. I’ll leave it at that. And so, in the interest of bringing a little bit of ‘Up’ into your holiday season, check out my picks for Feel-Good Gifts!
Feel-Good for My Curves: Anything from Jaci Blue Boutique (1+2)
When I was in NOLA last month, I scheduled my trip so that I would land back home in Maryland just in time to do a quick change and head out to Howard University Homecoming. I wanted to rock something cute so I Yelp’d boutiques in New Orleans since I had a couple of hours to kill before my flight out. Something told me to set myself up for success and to just search for plus-size boutiques so that I wouldn’t be wasting time at stores that didn’t have clothes that would fit me properly. Imagine my delight when Jaci Blue’s Boutique came up in my search – amazing ratings, a cute website and it was open: score! The shop was adorable and the owner was so great – she helped me pick out items to try on and I learned that this was her second venture in the retail game. What I loved most about the boutique was the emphasis on positive body image: she had love notes in the dressing room and books and pins – like the Big Girl Panties pin – and other merch that reinforced her motto that “beauty is a mindset, not a waistline.” She even has a blog. My girl.
Feel-Good for My Passions: The Crossroads Between Should and Must by Elle Luna (3)
If I were to write a book (and yeah, yeah, I know I need to), then this is the kind of book I’d love for it to be. Pretty, creative, action-oriented and soul-searching. Elle Luna combines all of these in her book* that encourages us to embrace the fact that we get to choose between what we “should” be doing (i.e. job, career, responsibilities expected of us), and what we “must” do (our heart’s desire, living our passions). If you’ve known me for even 5 minutes, then you know this is my jam. In fact, I have an entire training on being multi-passionate and aligning your passions into a cohesive business strategy so that you can do what you love and feel free. Check out the author’s essay on Medium that sparked the book HERE. *affiliate link
Feel-Good for My Belly: Shortcakes from Callie’s Charleston Biscuits (4)
I’m a sucker for a not-so-sweet baked good. You can miss me with donuts or birthday cake (icing = shiver!!) but a scone or an Italian cookie, or tart cherry pie is all me. I’m also Canadian so the penchant for British tea treats is alive and well in my soul. Can’t help it. I had the pleasure of meeting Callie of Callie’s Charleston Biscuits at Create+Cultivate in Atlanta last year. In addition to her being a kick-ass business owner (I got to participate in a mentor session led by her), her biscuits are The Business!!! We had the good fortune of having them for breakfast during the event and they were delish. After signing up for her newsletters and digging through her site, I saw that she also makes shortcakes. Here’s the description: “Made-by-hand, these shortcakes are made with simple ingredients, but are absolutely scrumptious. A hint of vanilla along with sugar, cream and butter makes these old fashioned Southern treats irresistible. To devour them like a true Charleston native, add ripe macerated berries, lightly whipped cream, lemon curd or your favorite jam!” Don’t mind if I do.
Feel-Good for My Cup: Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (5)
I warned you that we needed to feel great after the year we’ve had, right? Well, Russell’s Whiskey can help you do just that. Let me be upfront by saying that I’m no whiskey connoisseur, but we do have regular Friday happy hours at Casa Fergie. Thanks to my hubby, Russell’s has become a staple in our liquor cabinet. What I like about it is that it’s sweet and smooth and doesn’t make you flinch when you sip it. We add it to everything from Iced Tea to Coke and it never disappoints. If you’re a whiskey aficionado, you can check out the distilling process here, but if you’re like me and you just want something that tastes yummy, here is what you need to know: “Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Bourbon has an aroma of cinnamon raisin bread, sweet vanilla and honey. The aroma gives way to notes of orange, cloves and oak, which are complemented by subtle undertones of maple and caramel. The finish is slightly warming, with a well-balanced complexity.” Sweeeeet!
Feel-Good for My Feet: Mayliss 6-inch Boots by Timberland (6)
Lately I’ve been in a hardcore sneaker phase. It’s not really a surprise since I’ve always been a sneaker head. But I guess as I became a working professional, I drifted over to the cute flats and heels life. Well, I’m baaack! Nike Air Max and New Balances and Pumas and Adidas are what you can find on my feet these days. I was in the mall the other day with The Teen and stopped in my tracks when I saw these Mayliss boots by Timberland. I have to say that they look better in real life that they do in this pic! They come in black as well. They’re all the suede nubuck fly-ness of Timbos without the heavy, bulkiness of the classic boot. It’s like Nas said: “Suede Timbs on my feet make my cipher complete.”
Feel-Good for My Zen: Beyonce Saint Candle (7)
Apparently New Orleans was a shopping treasure trove for me. The same day I found Jaci Blue, I was walking along Magazine Street, mostly window shopping. So many fun and funky boutiques on that street. Anyway, I happened upon Miette – a boutique with unique, quirky, glitter, unicorn and bright-colored EVERYTHING. I ended up buying an iridescent unicorn nameplate necklace (I know!) but there was this Beyonce saint candle that caught my eye! I think it was the Illuminati symbol in the background that did it for me – it was so over the top amusing that I almost had to buy it. Except there was no scent!! Had there been, she would have been mine. Well, I wish I had just gotten it because I haven’t been able to find that one design anywhere online! If you’re a member of the Beyhive and wouldn’t mind Queen Bey showering her blessings on you, then this candle is for you. Grab a similar one here.
Happy Holidays, friends. Here’s to making it a feel-good season!