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Thursday, July 30, 2015

BLISS budget talk....Online Shopping

Hello Everyone,

As some of you may or may not know, I love to SHOP. It's definitely one of my favorite past times and I engage it in as much as fiscally possible,(my lights need to stay on folks!)  but on the flipside of my shopping addiction , I'm extremely cheap frugal. While I love to shop, I do have saving goals and some important things that come up... you know like rent, student loans,you know the small thing in life. With grown up life hitting me, I had to change my method of attack to make sure that my indulgence in the occasional haul didn't interfere with my dope credit score. So I here to share with you all about the cheapest way possible to get your shopping fix affordable  and  my six ways I use to keep my fashion game on fleek, (I can't believe I said that!), while getting the best deal possible!

Coupon sites:
Unless you've been living under a rock you have to know about the various coupon codes that you can get from online coupon sites to help score a big deal on anything you can think of. You can use coupon codes on just about anything such as clothes, shoes, accessories, and even makeup. My go to has to be, which also has a handy app that will send you coupons when your location setting is turned on for maximum savings when your strolling through the mall or near shopping center. I also occasionally use other sites such as for those that retailmenot may not have or stores that are not covered.

The hype is real! Lol. I remember seeing these commercials and thinking, "Nope no one is going to send me a check for shopping online, it has to be a gimmick or someway to steal my information". I'm here to tell you they do send you a check quarterly, although they do blow it up like your going to get a huge check every month....ehh not so much unless you do a huge amount of shopping. Good news is I've received quite a number of checks ranging between $10-20, lunch on them! But I have girlfriends with full families and children earn $50-75 per quarter, especially when buying vacations on sites like Priceline or Expedia. Yes, it gives you cashback for going on vacation. Also like retailmenot it shares promo codes with you and will automatically insert them in your cart on checkout when it finds something applicable.

You have two options to use Ebates, you can either start at there website and search the store you are looking for or you can install their handy dandy toolbar that lights up and flashes every time you go to an online store that has a relationship with them. It has zero spyware and it will display the percentage of cashback given on your purchase, sometimes it's a measly 1% sometimes it's a whopping 7.5% just depends on the store and if they're playing nice that week. You just click the box it loads and your shopping trip has started.

Online Newsletters:
Just about every store has one now, and usually for signing up they give you some 10-20% discount of your first order. I know the reluctance sets in to want to sign up for yet another websites newsletter. It may seem like spam to you after a while of getting all the random store's emails, especially the ones you only shop at once in a blue. It's like  how many times can I get buybuybaby coupons when I have no kids?!!?!?! But you could always opt to do what I do: Set up a generic email account that just houses shopping and no real worthy emails like the ones  that you do not want to read on a daily basis  and let them all pile there. When you get that baby shower for cousin Sue or you're sorority sister from college that's when you might need a coupon for, launch your search for said annoying baby coupon site, hit up that junk email account, and you'll be bound to find coupon gold, special sale or promotion on some wonky brand of the new all the rave baby spoons or whatever trending. Some stores even honor your online coupon handed to them on your smartphone if you are a day before the baby shower shopper.

Across the pond stores:
 Now I love costume jewelry, the gaudier the piece the more I live for it! But the baubles cost big bucks, I've picked up a nice pick from Macy's and 60+ bucks or more and I put it right back because the way my neck is set up... I'm not paying that much for a metal and glass.  I simply refuse to spend that! So I hop on ebay and/or Aliexpress and find some stuff on there. I've had the same necklace that I've seen in J. Crew sent to me for $5.99 from my friend Mae Ling in China. Most of the vendors that we go too store wise are buying from them too. The necklaces that you buy actually literally comes from China, and your extra 40 bucks  goes to paying their store's rents, the salary of a couple crew members, and the marketing exec who made you walk into that fancy pants store to begin with. I will say if you need it on short notice for say that club night next week this is not the option for you as it may take up to 3 weeks for a piece to get here and once in a blue you may get a damage item. Never fear! They despise a bad rating and most times if you send them a pic of your broken goody. They will send you a replacement or refund your money.


This website  is usually saved for you very studious folks who enjoy watching the interest rates of the market's trend and like to discuss margins. For the rest of us, yes you... can wake up now..... Consumer reports is an excellent resource in advising what's the best time to make a large purchases such as a laptop, a car, or even that new plush pillow top mattress you've been eyeing. Just do a search on the best times to make a purchase and you're golden!

Online Cosignment Shops:
Ebay and Amazon used to dominate this world but now there are a crop of online consignment and thrift stores popping up left and right! Apps like Vinted and Posh shop are gems for finding slight used items or getting rid of that lime green sparkly blazer you just had to too and getting it to that teeny bopper who truly needs it for her jazz performance routine at this years talent show.

There you have it my six tips for saving money when online shopping! Tell me in the comment section if you have other additional favorites you wanna add to the list.

Toodles Darlings,

Saturday, July 25, 2015

BLISS Blurb: Bistro Six49 and Grits and Biscuits 5 year anniversary review

Last Saturday Jacquel and I spent the weekend in north jersey in order to attend the grits and biscuits 5th anniversary block party in New York. Prior to attending this long awaited event we decided to eat brunch at Bistro 649 in Irvington with friends. If you haven't been to Bistro 649, we highly recommend it!  The chef, @chefdomcreates (Instagram) turns food into art right before your eyes. 

Bistro 649, ( bistro_six49 on Instagram), has an incredible menu fusing American fare with some Haitian fare like black rice. The head chef Dominique Hermann cooks all of the dishes himself right in front of you, and creates nothing short of artistic deliciousness. The restaurant is byob, which is great for the pockets, and the prices are very affordable compared to the portion sizes you receive. 
My meal consisted of salmon and shrimp, on top of black rice with vegetables and moscato sauce. This meal was a hands down ten and I couldn't finish it all. 
Jacquel had shrimp on top of black rice with moscato sauce and gave it a ten as well. 
One of my friends decided to go for the chicken and red velvet waffles, which she also gave a ten and could not complete. 
Lastly, my other friend ordered a fish sandwich with French fries which she also gave a ten. 

Overall the food was amazing, and to top it off we got served by Chef Dom himself. He chatted with us for a while and he is a really sweet and humble guy. He just wants to create good food for people and give back. I encourage you to check out his page on Instagram and the restaurants page for more pics, and to see his great work. 

After we left Bistro649, it was on to NYC for grits and biscuits 2015 block party edition. This was our first grits and biscuits event, and we were informed it usually takes place inside of a venue versus outside. This year it was out on a pier in NYC and could therefore house a lot more people. 

The pros's of this event was that since it was so much larger, more tickets could be sold versus it being sold out almost instantly. Also, because it's such a highly coveted event and there were so many people it was like a college reunion. 
Jacquel and I saw so many people we knew from college that traveled to NYC for the weekend just to partake in grits and biscuits. 
We didn't get the opportunity to takes pics with everyone, but it was a very pleasant surprise to see so many familiar faces. Events like this always bring out the masses, and it was truly a welcomed trip down memory lane. 

Although it was great seeing so many familiar faces, there were a few cons and I attribute them mostly to the venue. First, it's hard having a musical event at a venue like a pier because it throws off the acoustics. Unless you were closer to the stage it was hard to hear what song was playing. If it wasn't for the sound of screaming fans we would've had no idea special guest Trina had hit the stage. Trina's performance was good for what it was, but we were so far back it was hard to see or truly hear her. 

Also, with it being an outside venue, there's no escape from the heat or the sun beating down on you. There's also no place to sit and if you are older like myself, no matter how comfy you may dress after a few hours you will need a quick break. As the night went on and the sun went down, we moved closer to the stage and could hear the music better. As I started getting in my groove I found myself rapping along to lyrics from rappers from NYC on songs from NYC and other places outside the south. 

There weren't many non southern tracks played, but a few slipped in the mix. I figure after a long night you run out of dirty dirty tracks to play, and you play to the crowd a bit. Overall, the music I could hear was good and I'm not upset about the non southern tracks that slipped in. After the event ended, we were "herded" out a totally different way in which we came in. It was a much longer roundabout way, but I assume it was to control the flow of traffic with the mass exodus. 

At the end of the night I wasn't sure if I would attend another grits and biscuits event, but my friends assured me the regular ones are totally different. I would rate this event a 7, because I wasn't crazy about the venue. It does get points for the crowd it brings, because there were no issues, drama or fights. It's definitely a laid back scene, you can wear comfy sneakers, a tank and shorts and be good. The food and drinks available were overpriced, but that's expected in NYC and overall the music I could hear was good. I may give grits and biscuits another try at the regular venue, but if I miss it I won't be hurt. It was great seeing so many faces, but I was definitely exhausted the next day. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Down with the swirl, but is the swirl down with me????

Image from

With all this controversy around Serena William's appearance, and for the record, if her bodyis equated with looking like a man, I got two questions: where can I sign up and can I use Steve or Tom?

I digress,I digress but I did wanted to talk to you all a little  about relationships and dating. As all single black women who are in their 30's, are reminded if not by themselves, but by any family member with a mouth, that their biological clock is ticking (I keep trying to put mine on snooze, but to no avail I constantly hear the darn thing!) We are met with the myriad of questions regarding our single status and how to make it well for lack of a better term...Make it go away. I've heard the countless questions of  "Well have you asked to be set up?" "I'm sure one of your friends has a friend.Ask them?"  "Have you tried online dating?" And the list goes on and on...... And we  on the other side are bombarded with statics: black women are the least desireable because we are the most obese or black women are the least likely to get married and blah blah blah blah, but before you disregard this as another blog post going on and on about the woe is me black woman, I want to talk about what a lot of black women are "afraid to try" and that is dating outside of their race.

 I started thinking about this topic when my sister and I were having a discussion,about yes, what else.... my dating life and she asked the question, "Are you open to it?" I said with confidence "Sure I am" she hesitated and said, "Are you really?" and I paused and thought about it am I really. Not that I haven't dated outside of my race before but in the 15 years I've been dating I've only dated 1 Hispanic man and 1 one white man and I began to think. Why am I not dating out of my race? Why have I not dated another white guy? I also began to think about how I actively use online dating, yes I am online dating and so are thousands of other people, so it's nothing to be ashamed of anymore. But how despite the large number of white men I see on these sites, there are quite a few who may browse my profile, but very few actually approach me. And the one's who do are looking for what I've gotten from plenty of black brothers, as well, straight objectification, too strong of a come on, and request for them to allow them to do strange things to my anatomy. In any case...  While I think of myself as a catch, I'm college educated, I have a stable job, I smell good, and the list goes on and on.... I can say yes I am open to dating outside of my race, but are they open to dating me??????

 I began to troll research the internet for what white men found attractive and I stumbled on a very interesting message board on, nonetheless, on was it a poll and question was is it "Rare for a a white man to be attracted to a black women?" The outright poll was a little less than equal with about 44% stating "Yes it was rare" and 56% stating "No, it's not rare" and a 4% of undecided folk who couldn't make up their minds about whether a white guy could be attracted to a black woman..... While I figured most of the respondents were white, so that left me a bit perplexed, but hey,if you can't figure it out, I sure can't.

Some of the free text responses left me astonished. There were some that were short cut and dry like "absolutely not, as their dark skin looks masculine." or my personal favorite of how one white man told the story of his ghetto neighbor with the banging body with the $50 section 8 rent who "screamed at her kids all day long." and he made her the representative for all black women everywhere. (Gee thanks!) Or my favorite where they posted the  women on the left as their preferance and the woman on the right as less desirable
Which I found quite amusing because short of a little filtering with my good friend Photoshop, a good push up bra, and a flat iron. They were pretty much very similar in build and looks.
But fear not, there were plenty of men stating that black women were attractive and/or that for every black ugly woman there were White, Asians, or Hispanic ones who were just as ugly. Some even stated how wonderful we are (warms my little soul).

So many of you may wonder what is the recipe stepping out of our black men only comfort zone in terms of dating? I say you have to be comfortable with your choice, as you may get a lot of flack for stepping out of your race from your momma, your cousins, and even with black men (especially the ones who were never interested in you but felt it important that you know his displeasure with you for dating a white man, yea that one). It's an a powerful personal decision as to when the quest for love becomes bigger than the quest to have black love and black love only, or to continue to vindicate that you always saw love as colorblind.
I searched the list serves and found an interesting read for how to attract a white man as a black woman and it gave the following hints:
1. Don't be afraid to approach him, if a white man is attracted to you, he may not know what to say or maybe intimidated.
2. White men may not be as aggressive as a black men if he does approach you  it so often times appears as casual conversation that may actually be flirting.
3. Speak proper (I just gagged in my mouth, why would you not do this with any man your interested in despite the race?!?!?!)
4. Don't hang in a large group of black men, his natural assumption is that one of them maybe your boyfriend or ie scary older brother.....

I generally feel that these tips can be applied to any race of men, as I say if  you want something bad enough you have to put the energy to attract it.  As I always say, at the end of the day closed mouths don't get fed! So heres to being fearless, especially when it comes to love..... no matter what the skin color is.

Toodles Darlings,

Friday, July 10, 2015

A tale of two weight loss...Amira's story

My story for this weight loss journey originally began in April, when I traveled abroad for my birthday to Morocco. Up until then I had noticed some weight gain, but it wasn't until I saw pictures that my body was out of control. I hit my highest weight to date (I'm not as brave as Jacquel yet), and I could feel the effects on my body. My ankles were constantly swelling up, and I felt crappy, tired and lazy most of the time. I know my weight gain was making me depressed, so I tried going blonde to change my look and make me feel sexy. Changing my hair worked momentarily until I ripped a whole in the thigh of my pants at work twice! That's when I officially said enough was enough, cause I can't keep buying clothes and I got dumped so I needed to get right for my next date night.
I couldn't even suck my tummy in if I wanted

I didn't take or keep many fully body pictures of myself in morocco because I felt so self conscious. The first step I took to lose weight was dropping my birth control. My main reason in taking it was to keep my skin clear, but after doing some research I decided to use supplements (see clear skin post) to manage my skin care. I also started drinking a gallon of water a day and working out 3x's a week. By the end of May I was down 10 pounds and starting to feel better and lighter.
At this point I was slightly lighter and able to suck my belly in a little 
I was happy I was seeing results, but I wanted more results and I wanted them quickly. I can be very impatient and laser focused at times, so I went onto groupon and purchased a three day juice detox and laser lipo sessions. I completed the juice detox (see juice from the raw post), and lost 7 pounds. I really hadn't worked out much over the three days, I just followed the diet. Two weeks later I began six laser lipo sessions.

During my consult for the laser lipo, they sold me a 30 day pill detox which is supposed to support the laser treatments. They also suggest a diet and workout plan, along with putting me on a body vibration machine for ten minutes following each session. At the end of my six sessions, I had lost 6 inches and another ten pounds, but I had also been dieting and working out way more. I will say the full body vibration machine does work and I may invest in one for myself. I'm not sold on the laser lipo treatments, but I have no way to tell since my diet became more strict and I was working out more. 

As far as my diet goes, I continue to drink a lot of water daily,and I eat a mostly pescetarian diet. Since completing the juice detox, I haven't had much of a taste for beef or chicken. I've had wings twice, and a steak this past Sunday at brunch. I also had turkey a few weeks ago at dinner, but I can count the number of times Iv'e had meat on one hand. I also tried following Ramadan with a co -worker and a few friends, but I've missed a few days. I haven't decided if I'm going to make them up or just continue dieting and working out. Following Ramadan has helped to further reinforce the fact that my hunger is 90% mental. On the days that I do observe, it's not nearly as hard as I imagined it would be.

On a daily basis I try to consume as many fruits and veggies as possible, drink a lot of water and at least two cups of Oolong tea. I read that Ooolong is better at burning fat over green tea, and for maximum results it should be drunken twice daily, I've given up bread, pasta and rice for now. I will probably incorporate healthier carb alternatives moving forward, but they really stick with me when I do indulge. When I need something to quench my sweet tooth I use almond butter on a graham cracker, its been my new best friend next to eating dates.

As of July 1st, I am down 20 pounds! I can actually suck my tummy in if I need to and I feel better overall. My ankles aren't swelling like they used to, and I feel much lighter and my clothes are looser. I still have another 35 pounds to go until I hit my goal, but I feel confident I will hit it. This week I began an app called 10k trainer (free) to help get in the habit of running. Outside of costfit,oops I meant crossfit lol, running helps me shed pounds. I want to achieve a more leaner cut look, by losing and toning at the same time. I'm going to alternate between cardio and weights, along with a low carb diet, plenty of water and tea.

I will probably do another juice detox when I feel I've reached a plateau to get me over the hump. I am happy with my results thus far, and I hope to make a lifestyle change. Someone once told me " the older you  takes care of the younger you", and if this is true then I've got to take charge of my health and my life now. If you have any tips, tricks or recipes please share, because I get bored quickly and I am always looking to change things up.

Love, Peace and Light

Friday, July 3, 2015

BLISS Blurb: La Rouge Restaurant and Lounge (Newark, NJ)

              This past saturday I had the opportunity to dine at La Rouge restaurant and lounge located at 972 Broad St, Newark, NJ 07102. A few friends and I went for a dinner with Natay Hayes ( see previous post), to celebrate her return home. I immediately assumed La Rouge would be a creole restuarant from the name, but its actually a southern, caribbean, and asian fusion restaurant.

               When you enter La Rouge you immediately walk into the bar and dance floor area. The bar is situated to your right, with a dance floor and jukebox to your left. There's also seating downstairs that can be moved or removed for a more spacious dance floor. We were seated upstairs in the lounge area. The lounge area has a loft appeal as it opens up, and allows you to view the entire first floor. There are big screen televisions and huge white couches with tables for dining upstairs. Behind the upstairs dining/ lounge area is another room for billiards.

               Outside of the nice decor of the restaurant, the food is amazing! Chef Aaron Black prepared a nice fresh salad as a starter, followed by turkey choxtails ( a healthier alternative to oxtails), with kale and a yam mash that satisfied my healthy and southern side. I ate well and didn't have to worry about the guilt from the food, or the dissatisfaction I get from some healthier options. I felt fulfilled and filled! The turkey choxtails didn't fall short of my expectations at all, and are my new go to option over regular oxtails.
(Turkey choxtails with rice and beans and kale)

              Besides the tasty menu, and great decor, La rouge also has several private and public events. They host daily happy hours with several tasty choices, they have special events with musical guests and music on the weekends. If you're looking for a healthy and tasty choice in the heart of Newark I would definitely recommend La Rouge, and tell them I sent you!

Love, Peace and Light,

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A tale of two weight loss.....Jacquel's Story

Amira and I both started to get serious about dropping weight for our own unique reasons in June and we just wanted to keep you updated with our progress and how we are doing and most importantly who won the BET!

Starting weight: 243 lbs Size:18-20
Current weight: 233.6 lbs Size: 16-18

So I started my weight loss journey on June 1st,  26 days shy of my 31st birthday, I wanted to make this change for a few reasons: 1st was  because while Amira talked about the amazefest time we had at the Roots festival, what she didn't tell you was how bad I was limping after it. I'd admit while my shoes didn't have the great support, and I put inserts in them to help out and add for comfort, or so I thought, my feet has never hurt that bad in my life!!!! I began to worry if I had the beginnings of plantar fasciitis, as I had some the risk factors for it (overweight and flat feet). I felt since this was the only health related I've experienced based on my weight (Nope lets clear this up for the negative nancies and debbie downers, not all big people are walking health bombs,I do not have diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol), but  I needed to see if I could do something to prevent it from getting worse, so I decided to start losing weight.
My 2nd reason  is while my weight has always been a struggle for me, I've always had curves. No matter what size I was my curves stayed put and shined through my clothing. Since I hit my heaviest, which I was at now btw, I was more Stay Puff Marsh mellow man (you know the one from Ghostbusters)and less Gabifresh, (not that I'm hating on anyone who is that round, as long as you feel your baddest, I say ROCK OUT). I for the 1st time in my life HATED shopping and multiple pairs of pants laughed at me everytime I tried to put them on. I had to get it together!!!
How I did it: 
I began to search for recipes on Pintrest that was low calorie, high protein, and low carbs, but most importantly the meals had to be tasty, I love food! I earned this weight honestly, lol. I absolutely can not eat salad day in and day out! So I meal prepped on Sundays evenings for about 3 hours, I would make two food options for both lunch and dinner so that I wouldn't get bored and if I had time I made a wild card meal to switch it up. What can I say? I get bored easily. I had Salmon, Tilapia,turkey-roni cauliflower casserole and even made stuffed pepper philly cheesesteaks. Instead of rice I used couscous and quinoa as a side to most proteins and mixed in seasoned Bush's black beans for an extra kick.

For breakfast, I usually had green smoothies with yogurt, spinach, and a variety of fruits. or a boiled egg and fruit, in a rush I had boxed oatmeal from Trader Joes or Quaker stashed in my desk, and some days I wanted to feel froggy I had baked hasbrowns, eggs, and turkey sausage. Must try recipe "Apple pie green smoothie" from Pintrest. I completely cut out  junk food ( replaced my chip addiction with variety of popcorn flavors) and dropped candy 95% out of my diet (ok, ok, ok  I had one incident with a roll of Rolos, but otherwise I behaved myself and I am a self identified candy-aholic) and juice out of my diet and replaced it with fruit infused water, please see the B.L.I.S.S. Girl life Facebook page for some suggestions, I replaced my morning orange juice for a fresh orange. I gave up my stress relieving glass of wine at night, but didn't go completely cold turkey and allowed myself to drank alcohol on weekends in small quantities. 

I also began to work out at least 4 days a week for at least 30 minutes per workout. Two days a week, I did a mixture of cardio lasting at least 30 minutes and then did 4-5 strength training exercises with weights and then did a 3 ab focused exercises, I also went on YouTube set up a workout playlist so on days, I couldn't make it to the gym or had a short workout window (check out @keairalashae on @SuperherofitnessTV she has really fun dance videos that make you work up a sweat), I worked out at 5:15 am (and I am not a morning person) and did exercise videos. I also discovered a love of  Pilates. I've also incorporated swimming at least once a week. 

What people don't tell you:
Everyone is so quick to tell you their story or their journey, but no one ever mentions how hard it is! Rearranging your schedule, trying to fit fitness in when you work everyday and have a social life (imagine if I had kids!), and making sure you eat healthy is no joke.Coupled with the fact that I'm an emotional eater and that has been the hardest challenge to overcome! After a long day, sometimes I just want a burger! I constantly have to pep talk myself on my drive home past Chick-Fil-a, Sonic, Burger King, Wendy's and McDonald's (yes all in a 3 miles radius!). Most people sugar coat the not so good feelings you have when you're working out, such as when you've been working so hard and the scale jumps back up 5 lbs, OMG I felt so defeated! Or how even though you feel great and swear those pants that couldn't fit, will fit, doesn't button (but is on it's way too) no matter what it still bruises your ego. I'm here to say keep going because I know I am.

My advice:
Groups are AWESOME, it doesn't have to be formal like weight watchers, but get a group together on groupme. Hold each other accountable, on days you don't feel like going let them egg you on, and make work out dates with your friends, and maybe they'll show you a new move or two or even share a new recipe that you haven't thought off.

Do this for you! Not anyone else, not to please your family or your friends, because weight loss after 30.....yeah..... You have to have a purpose.


So there you have it and the winner of the BET......drum roll please....
Although the outfit fit me, I didn't like the fit at all..... So we are going to let keep it and see if it looks a little better as I continue on my weight loss journey, I still want to loose another 18 lbs by the end of the summer and my goal size is between a size 12-14. 

 Check out my newly found face chisel and oh my I'm beginning to see