Birthday Bling

Tomorrow is my birthday!!! I picked up a few new pieces of jewelry from my favorite Chicago Jewelry Designer Nakamol! She has a store on Michigan Avenue. You can also find her online on Facebook. Accessories have always been one of my favorite things to wear. Here are my new pieces:


This necklace is reversible:


I couldn’t decide between yellow gold and rose gold, so I got both: 



I love statement necklaces and unique jewelry. I recently donated 15 – 20 pieces to a local women’s shelter, so it was time to add more pieces to my collection.

I’ll have a special birthday blog tomorrow. 

The Quest for the Perfect Carry-On

I do a lot of travel and have yet to find the perfect carry-on bag! Here are the bags that I’ve tried so far:

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Longchamp ‘Le Pliage Neo Large’ Tote

Retailer: Nordstrom

PROS:

(1) Beautiful Color

(2) Durable External Material

(3) Versatility – Can be dressed up or down .

CONS:

(1) Straps are too short (bag often slips off shoulder during travel)

(2) Shape prevents the bag from standing up

(3) Difficult to get to things at the bottom.

Lo & Sons – The O.G.

Retailer: Lo & Sons Website

PROS:

(1) The bag holds a lot, but still maintains its sleek look.

(2) Nice long shoulder strap.

(3) Padded laptop compartment, keeps machine safe and separate.

CONS:

(1) Started having zipper trouble pretty early on.

(2) Heigh of bag doesn’t allow it to slip easily under seats on the airplane.

(3) Longer should strap isn’t comfortable.

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Coach Turnlock Tote in Crossgrain Leather

Retailer: Coach and Macy’s

PROS:

(1) Zippered bag. Many of the totes in this style have a button closure. The zipper totally sold me, as I like to have security AND in case the bag falls, I don’t want my stuff falling all over the place.

(2) Perfect everyday bag that pairs well with in both business and casual settings.

(3) Shoulder length allows you to throw the bag on your shoulder and go.

CONS:

(1) Coach bags in light colors stain easily.

(2) Shoulder straps have some of the seams ripping. Coach usually repairs bags free of charge, but the life-cycle of my Coach bags usually last much longer.

(3) No feet!

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I just picked up the Eagle Creek Emerson Carry-All (above) today and it will be joining me on an upcoming trip to Abu Dhabi. I’ll share my review upon my return!

The Quest for the Perfect Carry-on continues! I know the perfect bag is out there!

Vision Board 2016

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Super excited to reveal my 2016 Vision Board!!! The portraits that you see are Melinda Gates, Issa Rae, Amy Tangerine (Scrapbooking/Design Guru), Myleik Teele, & Karen Civil. Each of the items on my vision board represents something that I’d like to manifest in my life next year.

Here is my 2015 Board: https://donnienicole.com/2014/12/26/vision-board-2015-reveal/

Here is my 2014 Vision Board: https://donnienicole.com/2013/12/27/big-reveal-my-vision-board-for-2014/.

Happy New Year’s Eve!!!! Have a safe, reflective and celebratory evening 😉

Tips To Better Manage Your Time…

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I use both a paper planner (Kate Spade Wellesley, that I purchased on Amazon) and a digital calendar (Google Calendar).

On Instagram there is an entire community where we share photos, tips, etc. I’m a huge Scrapbooker, and Planning (with a paper planner) is just like that because there are stickers, accessories and all kinds of adorably cute things to get to accentuate the planner.

So here are the first two days of the challenge:

Day 1 – My Planner Selfie

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Day 2 – My System

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My system includes my Kate Spade Wellesley, my colored ink pens (more about that later), and my Sticker Binder. I’ll share more about that later.

This is the time of the year to reflect and to plan, so if you’re in that process here are some resources to help you!

I’ll be participating in #PlanWithMeChallengeDecember all month, so you can follow me on Instagram @blkgrlunmasked, as well as check back here for more explanation!

Tools To Set Your Goals: https://donnienicole.com/2015/01/02/tools-to-set-your-2015-goals/

This is also the time of year that I start pulling things for my Vision Board. Learn how to do your own here: https://donnienicole.com/2014/12/26/vision-board-2015-reveal/

This was how I spent the last month of the year, last year! May have to copy & paste some of that into my calendar/to-do list: https://donnienicole.com/2014/11/26/its-almost-the-end-of-the-year/.

 

Big Reveal… My Vision Board for 2014

Every year I create a Vision Board. The goal is to create a visual display of the quotes and images that inspire me. My focus this year was really on my professional life. Here is the board:

New Board

 

It lives directly above my desk in my office/scrapbook studio. This is the old board:

Old Board

 

I do want to add a dry erase board somewhere in my office to manage some of my projects. I also have room for more art above the bulletin board so I will be hunting until I find something. I really want to add something that has some texture to it. My favorite animal is a peacock, so maybe I’ll find a beautiful photo or painting of a peacock to hang.

Here is another old vision board that I put together a few years ago: 3148576588_259d9861cf

If you have a vision board, I’d love to see it. Post it link to it in the comments section. Be sure to complete it before the clock strikes 12 for 2014!

15 Years of Beyonce… and Counting!

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I’ll never forget watching BET and seeing a group of teenage girls singing, “You be saying no, no, no, no… when it’s really yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.” At the time I was 14 years old and had just started high school. My estrogen was high, my energy was high and I could identify with the four girls who reminded me of myself. They reminded me of my cousins as we created our own dance routines and learned all of the words to their music – on tapes… (smile)

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I’ve been a fan of Beyonce since I was 14 years old, so tonight I’m celebrating a 15 year fan-ship. I feel like I grew up with Beyonce and her songs have been the soundtrack of my life.

Dangerously In Love dropped my freshman year of college and “Crazy in Love” was my theme song as I had a new boyfriend and loved doing the “Uh oh” dance lol. It also captured my feeling of independence and control after all I was officially “grown.”

B Day dropped in 2006, the year I graduated from college. “Upgrade You” was my song of choice because I had my degree! I was confident and I knew that I was an asset to everyone I interacted with including my ex-husband who I was helping get through college.

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I am Sasha Fierce in 2008. “Diva” was definitely my favorite song on that album because I was hustling. I transitioned from working at a great school into working for the best school not only in the city but the country (Michelle Obama was just one of the famous alums), and I even made up my own alter-ego. D. Nikki 🙂 “Halo” would also describe the new guy in my life the following year and “If I Were a Boy” and “Irreplaceable” became  my favorite songs as I said goodbye to a bad relationship and marriage in 2008.

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I’ll never forget the moment Bey told the world she was pregnant in 2011 with “Love on Top” because I was pregnant too (R.I.P. to Biko, my baby girl who passed away when I was 5 months pregnant). I used to listen to “I Was Here” on repeat during my recovery after my loss and “Love on Top” still makes me remember the joyful 5 month connection I developed with my little girl inside my womb. During that time I also learned that she had a miscarriage which made me feel even more connected to the artist because that is a life altering experience. Blue Ivy is her miracle baby or as we call it in the fertility world “rainbow baby.” Her ray of sunshine after the storm of loss.

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This morning I downloaded Beyonce, an album that didn’t need any marketing and that wasn’t announced because, well, it didn’t have to be. Why spend (waste) money on a marketing budget, when you’ve built a media/entertainment empire? It also goes to show the power of branding and of people, because this album is about to obliterate whoever is sitting in that #1 spot. Beyonce’s music has always been released at pivotal moments in my life and this current album is no exception.

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King Bey, as she called herself one day inspires us to work hard. She pushes her body to its limits and she gives her performances everything she has. Seeing Beyonce is an experience… She still maintains some of the mystery and magic of her persona by not revealing everything about her personal life. She is very careful about what she releases and she’s not a camera-whore. She’s gracious and classy. She takes risks – I appreciated her support of then candidate Barack Obama and I love to see her pics of her vacays – jetskiing, bungee jumping, touring the pyramids. She reminds me to not only work hard but to play hard.

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I love seeing her connection with Jay! They are great business partners and they obviously inspire each other. I love how they collaborate on most of their projects and I love that they are continuing to grow and expand their empire.

So tonight is celebration of life of the last 15 years! I’m going with one of my best friends and we are going to scream the lyrics, dance and completely let loose. So world, I need you to “bring the beat in…” Make way for the Queen!!!