My Brown Sugar Box Unboxing

The Brown Sugar Box

I’m in love with this box and I knew I would be after seeing the ads on Facebook and visiting Izzy& This is the third subscription box that I’ve tried. The first was the Ujamma Box, the second was the Target Baby Box (not a subscription box, but same idea), and now I’ve unboxed the Brown Sugar Box. This box specifically honors black women and shares Izzy & Liv’s brilliantly crafted products. Each box either comes with a t-shirt or sweatshirt from the Izzy & Liv apparel line and other awesome surprises. The Brown Sugar Box costs 39.95 per month (but of course I hook you up with a code at the end of this post $5 off) and you receive 5-6 items in each box.


Super Cute Packaging

First of all the name is delicious. The box has a super cute natural hair girl on the top and it’s definitely a box I want to keep to store things in. The box also comes with their June magazine that includes product descriptions, articles, and discounts from black owned businesses.


Martin/90’s themed

If you loved the 90’s hit series Martin you have get your hands on this. This month’s box has two products that you will love. First is the t-shirt. I was surprised. I opened the box and saw the name Martin and I was thinking that I got an MLK shirt, (which would’ve been cool too) but it was actually a shirt with the names of all the of the main cast. People are definitely going to comment if you wear this awesome shirt. (retail $28)

I also damn near fell out of my seat when I saw the Shenehneh “Oh my goodness” key chain. Hilarious. The two products are something not everyone will understand, but those that do…we’re connected. (retail $10)


Mother Earth Leatherette Clutch and matching leatherette compact case

The clutch and matching compact case boldly boast an abstract black woman. It is aesthetically stunning. Every girl will want to know where you got it. I know I’m definitely going to be using my clutch to slip my iPad mini in. Clutch (retail $40) Compact Mirror (retail $18)

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The Brown Sugar Box Special edition Goddess Mini Headwrap & Hoop set

Thanks to the Brown Sugar Box I now have my second headwrap. The Goddess Mini wrap is from Skirtsy a company that also has a subscription box for Ankara skirts. The Goddess Mini had a bold patern that you can wear casually or dress it up. It’s great for a beginner wrap wearer like me because it doesn’t have a ton of material to figure out. Of course I love big, bold earrings that showcase my heritage and tell a story, so I will be getting a lot of use out of these. Skirtsy Goddess mini headwrap (retail $15) Earrings (retail $10)

The Verdict

I love this box and like the creators say, they deliver culture confidence and soul. The items are practical, stylish, and fun. For someone like me that loves t-shirts that have daring sayings and represent something unique about my culture, this box is awesome. The value is great. It was my introduction to Izzy & Liv products and I’m smitten. I do plan on keeping my subscription and I can’t wait to see next month’s box.

Shop now and use my discount FRIEND5HOOKUP_VSFX67

At Izzy& 

Vegas with a Child? 7 ways Not to go Crazy


  1. Uber instead of the Deuce.

    The Deuce is an affordable way to travel up and down the Strip and downtown. It is $8 a day and $20 for three days. Things can be a little with a little one because 1) You may have to wait ten minutes for a bus, which seems like a short amount of time. However, when it’s 110 degrees with dry heat or its pouring down rain, your little one can get annoyed real fast. 2) The Deuce can get very crowded (standing room only) during certain times of day and that can add to everyone’s aggravation. 3) Too many stops + traffic makes trips extra long. 4) For me, I hated fumbling around for my card.


Why Uber?

  • I have a promo code for you. To get your 1st ride free (up to $10) use Uber code when signing up: valariet75ue
  • There are hundreds of Uber or Lyft drivers everywhere. So you can probably have one in front of your hotel (in the shade) in 2 minutes.
  • You’re only in a car with your family
  • You can pay extra to have a car with a car seat (I haven’t done this personally)
  • No extra stops and the drivers know exactly where to drop you off.
  • No fumbling around for a bus pass. You “call” them with your app and they get paid automatically.
  • It goes where the Deuce does not. You can venture off the Strip and experience Vegas like the locals.


  1. If your child can fit in a stroller put them in it

If you ever been to Vegas you know casinos appear closer than they are. If you don’t bring a stroller for your child, they’re going to cranky and tired of walking, and you’re going to be tired of carrying them. And did I mention it is hot?

  1. Fun stuff for kids

-Free shows at Circus Circus (Clowns, jugglers, and magicians). They also have arcade games and little rides.

-Outdoor park and splash pad at Las Vegas Town Square (Can get too hot. Be sure to bring water shoes)

-Madame Tussauds Wax Museum $

-The Fountains of Bellagio

-M&M’s World (a huge store devoted to M&M’s)


-Las Vegas Natural History Museum $

-Kid Planet Indoor Playground $

-Kid Club Indoor Playground $

-Tournament of the Kings at the Excalibur $

-Gondola Ride at the Venetian $

-Shark Reef Aquarium of Mandalay Bay $

-Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat

-Adventuredome Theme Park $

– Gardens at the Bellagio


  1. Bring grandparents

This will be the key to your sanity. If you can make an arrangement with your parents to watch the little ones a couple of nights so that you can have some adult time (casino, clubs, and shows), you will experience a different side of Vegas. There are also babysitting services, but I haven’t tried those. If you ballin’ bring the babysitter from home.


  1. Try to have your little ones in by nightfall.

    Things can get a little raunchy on the Strip and downtown at night.


  1. Remember don’t stop on the casino floor with little ones.

    It may be tempting to watch someone play quickly, but security doesn’t play that.


  1. Have a tablet handy.

    You can buy a great affordable Kindle and download free games to keep the little ones occupied in the airport and hotel room.

5 Things About Sisterhood and Synchronicity


Two weeks ago I stepped out on faith for my career and my spirit, and I drove 500 miles for the Between Words & Water Writing Retreat. A Facebook sponsored ad popped up on my screen one day, and I clicked the link and my life changed. Dramatic? I called my husband and number 1 supporter. He gave me the “do what you want.” Then I called my mom and asked her opinion. I told her I didn’t know the host or any of the people going but I loved what the retreat was offering, Reiki readings, yoga, a Gullah tour, and more. I thought my mother would say, “No. Don’t do it. You don’t know these people,” but to my surprise, she said, “Go.” Then we brainstormed about how we would take care of my child. Mama covered that, too. #Ittakesavillage

When I got there, I was greeted with hugs, awesome energy, sage for smudging, and a beautiful journal. I met six lovely and conscious women. The conversation was great and the food divine #chefkey. I’m still in awe that I ate and enjoyed vegan food. I also received some great feedback for the Griot. As we sat on the patio beach house, that overlooked the pool, I thought of the movie Love Jones when the friends gathered and enjoyed good conversation. What I learned from these women and their spirits was invaluable. Finding that link was pure synchronicity. This was the first time that I sat and talked with a room full of women—besides Oprah in my mind—who were spiritually conscious. Ase. #keepyaeyesopen

  1. Synchronicity

    When you are manifesting your dreams, the Universe puts people and situations in your life that are in sync with your vision.13220786_10102501155142207_1126696080724206416_o

  2. Villages

    Although we are a military family, we’ve have been blessed with a wonderful village to help us raise our child. From our parents to my friends…thank you. Mom stepped in and took off work to watch my baby. 13235282_10102499982871447_2661114752760910058_o

  3. Sisterhood

    The feminine energy at this retreat was amazing and what I needed. Oya and Yemoja were present, too. I got to meditate and practice yoga with these women. Jamie Fleming-Dixon was in her element as our yoga coach. 13198370_10102501155127237_7684161240213276049_o

  4. Good food

    There’s nothing like food prepared with love. No meat for two days was new for me. I went into it with an open mind, and I was pleasantly surprised. Thanks, Chef Key.13247923_10102501155271947_2242483862144529753_o

  5. I am a Griot

    A griot is a storyteller. I am a griot. It’s what I do every day when I stand in front of my students. At the retreat, I had the blessing to be able to share my story with writing coach, Trelani Duncan, and the other women. I am living my dream. thegriot

She has arrived. The Griot book cover

I finally had to make a very difficult decision about my baby, my 1st book cover. I must say I am in love. Thank you to everyone who voted. I truly appreciate your time and honest opinion. I made my choice with some changes. She is stunning and I she represents very closely the Zen in my mind. Griot_final

What is The Griot About?

“Blacks have never belonged in America,” was Father Malcolm’s mantra. In the year 2014, he created a settlement in Africa’s Serengeti for African Americans. Two hundred years later, the kingdom of Za and the citizens who inhabit it are thriving until one of them is forced into a secret world that will challenge everything she’s ever believed about herself and the kingdom she calls home.


Zen’s life is seemingly perfect. Set to marry the love of her life, she believes all of her dreams are about to come to fruition, but when she’s forced to join the Griothood, a secret society of storytellers, her life takes an abrupt turn.


When Zen learns the truth about herself and the kingdom she so loves, she is handed the responsibility of stopping a treacherous band of rebels before they destroy the kingdom. If she doesn’t stop fighting her calling and learn that no one is who they seem, Za is doomed.

And then there’s the breathtaking prince…

Torn between the life she knew and the stories she hears; Zen is left bewildered. Was her entire life a lie?


With so much at stake, can Zen save her kingdom and all she holds dear?



My Baby is with the Editor



How frightening is it to give your baby, your creation, to someone else to scrutinize and pick apart? I found an affordable editor with great reviews, so I hope to have The Griot back in my hands soon. I pray that I have done my characters and this story justice and that this editor can help me mold it into perfection. I have always felt that if I were in the motherland and my ancestors had never been stolen away, I would be a griot or a jali. My ancestors compel me to tell stories. I want to impress them. I am glad for the break from the story, however, because when I get it back I will be able to look at it with fresh eyes. 

Frustration: Finding an editor

Now that I am ready to find an editor for my novel, The Griot, I’m realizing how expensive it is. Some people charge 3 cents per word. That sounds cheap until you multiply 3 cents by 95,000 words.

Now my book cover designer is ready for me to give her dimensions (I did jump the gun by hiring a book cover designer before editing), and I am nowhere near ready to give her the number inches the spine of my book will be. Time for pulling out hair. I am not going to panic, though. It will all work out in the end.




Why The Griot?


Have you ever felt as if we don’t belong here? The story of the Griot sprang into my mind because, like a lot of African Americans, I was fed up. I began to think, what if black people left America. Not all, of course, but a group, like the Black Israelites. What would a migration like that look like? Where would these people go? What type of people would go?

I know America is home. I know America was built on the backs of my black ancestors, and we have every right to be here. Most of us have no desire to live anywhere else. I agree that we must fight continuously for our rights, but with recent events, I wonder will that fight ever be over.

The Griot is a story that takes place 200 years into the future. The people who live in the Kingdom of Za are the descendants of African Americans who left the U.S. because they were sick of fighting, sick of the injustice, and sick of trying to persuade people to treat them with basic humanity.

What I think is interesting about the Kingdom of Za is the radical approach that the founders took in creating this all black world. They are in Africa, but instead of going to modern cities like Nairobi, Johannesburg, or Cape Town, they form a settlement in the Serengeti. I’ve been to the Serengeti and it is no joke. Even for the native people, like the Maasai the Serengeti has its hardships. So for people who never lived there, it would probably be very deadly very quickly. By choice, the founders of Za allow only one piece of modernity, and that is clean running water. That’s it. There’s no electricity.  No modern healthcare. There are no cars. Just homes that the community builds themselves, food they grow themselves, and clothing they produce themselves.

Why live in such a treacherous world if there are other options? The founders want the settlement to be as close to a pre-slavery Africa as possible. Za is an intense social experiment in which the goal is self-love, community, healthier lifestyles, strengthening the black family, and the black marriage.

Za, however, does not become the utopian society that the founders hoped for. Along with the dangers of living in the wild (disease, infant mortality, and predators) the people in Za are human, with human desires, temptations, jealousy, and secrets.

All of this and we haven’t begun to talk about the secret society of the Griothood.  I’ll save those women for another post.