Let’s face it; we are bombarded with too much negativity on a daily basis. Whether you are bombarded with hate on social media or subjected to violence in your communities or in the media, we need to think about the good things that are happening in the world to find some sort of peace.

Well Allstate has been “giving it up for good” and seeking out the positive things happening in our communities. I was challenged to find good things happening in my community, and while there are many great organizations doing amazing work I decided to “Give It Up For Good” with Kel Spencer and Pens of Power.

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“The Pen is Mightier than the Sword” is the message Kel Spencer delivers through his Pens of Power mentoring and literacy program whose mission is to “To help young minds view words as expressive & limitless tools that can be used effectively for communication, comprehension and creativity.”

Kel working with students during a recording session during a workshop

Kel working with students during a recording session during a workshop

Founded by Award winning songwriter, Kel Spencer, Pens of Power uses creative writing exercises as a means to improve students’ writing skills in alignment with the Common Core State Standards, and with the goal of improving state standardized test scores. For those that do not know, the Common Core State Standards are pretty much the road map for education in the United States with 46 states adopting a more rigorous and each enriching curriculum to allow our students to be college and career ready.

Students engaged in writing activities

Students engaged in writing activities

Pens of Power is designed to help students, primarily grades 3-8 (2nd grade & High School component are available as well), to improve their reading and writing skills. Using an unorthodox approach towards literacy Kel Spencer incorporates lyric writing, poetry, music, rhythmic prose and brainstorming during the workshops.

Students at their Pens of Power video shoot

Students at their Pens of Power video shoot

As an educator I felt this program was extremely important. Our children are so fixated with technology that they lack basic skills. As time passes we must change our approach on certain issues In this technological and informational age we have to compete with social media, computers, video games and much more to get our students to learn. This is why programs like Pens of Power are so important. They provide another way for students to get the skills they need to compete in a fast pacing world.

Kel Spencer instructing students during a Pens of Power Workshop

Kel Spencer instructing students during a Pens of Power Workshop

Kel Spencer works with various organizations to share his God given talents in hopes of inspiring others. Many of the schools he works have a high African American population. Through this program he is helping to close the educational achievement gap that plague the African American community. He is helping children from all over learn to attain knowledge, comprehend, and apply these skills in the classroom and beyond.

I challenge you to focus on the good and find ways to give back to your community. Money isn’t everything, so give back with your time, gifts, and talents.

For more information on Kel Spencer and Pens of Power visit their official website at www.PensOfPower.org.

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Brand Statement
Allstate believes that there is Good happening all around us, every single day, right in our communities. We believe that this Good is more powerful than Bad – it has the power to change the conversation, change communities, and ultimately, change lives, and we want to give it the recognition it deserves. We are committed to unearthing the stories about Good – stories of hope, strength and perseverance, stories of positivity and optimism, stories of kindness and generosity – stories that will inspire even more good.

Check out stories, pics, tweets and videos of the good happening in our communities at http://giveitupforgood.allstateonline.com/and share the good you see using @giveitupforgood and #giveitupforgood on Twitter and Instagram. Let’s do more Good, together.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Allstate via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Allstate.

 

Today it is 90 degrees in New York City and it this weather has me reminiscing about my past vacations with my friends. I have been traveling with my friends from college, pH as we have affectionately named ourselves, since my senior year of college. We try to take at least one trip per year together.

Summer in St. Thomas

Summer in St. Thomas

One of my favorite trips was when we went to St. Thomas. I love that island so much. I mean it was so beautiful that I got caught up taking pictures and lost my camera *insert sad face* Well thank God for Facebook because I still have the memories of the trip that we took about four years ago.

Our first night on the island

Our first night on the island

This was the first year that we started our tradition of wearing all white to dinner on the last night of our stay. When we went to Puerto Rico a few years ago everyone kept asking why 6 beautifully bronzed black women were dressed in all white. We told them that we were all engaged to be married and this was our last “hoorah” as bachelorettes. They believed us lol.

The beginning of the all white tradition

The beginning of the all white tradition

In St. Thomas we had our own personal chauffeur named Boaz. Well he wasn’t really our personal chauffeur but my best friend worked out some kind of deal with him and he drove us all over the island for a flat rate. What’s funny is that a year later while on a cruise, we stopped in St. Thomas, and who do we see…Boaz! He actually remembered us a year later and drove us around the island again.

pH under the Flamboyant Tree (Keyona, Me, Shara, Jill, Kathleen, Erica,

pH under the Flamboyant Tree (Keyona, Me, Shara, Jill, Kathleen, Erica,

One of the most breathtaking views on the island was the flamboyant tree. The vibrant color just made us all stop and stare. The poet laureate of the group, Kathleen, even wrote a poem about it and our experience during that vacation.

Flamboyant by Kathleen Readous

SUN DANCING ON THE WATER, COLORS OF PINK,

SILVER AND GOLD REFLECTED IN OUR EYES.

FACES KISSED BY GOD AND BODIES COLORED EBONY.

HIS CREATIONS ARE LIMITLESS, BREATHTAKING,ENDLESS.

OUR HEARTS ARE FULL, BEAUTY UNIMAGINABLE, UNDISTURBED AND UNTOUCHED.

WE CLOSE OUR EYES AND HOLD A PIECE OF PEACE IN OUR ARMS.

HOLD IT TIGHT AND REMEMBER THE FLAMBOYANT FLOWERS.

After dinner and karaoke, our last night on the island

After dinner and karaoke, our last night on the island

This was definitely one trip that I will never forget. Up next for us is Vegas! That will be an exciting experience.

What are some of your memories from the summer?

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Brand Statement: The deliciously light taste of sorbet now comes in a bottle. Introducing Smirnoff Sorbet Light. PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY. Made With Smirnoff Vodka Infused With Natural Flavors. 30% Alc/Vol. Per 1.5oz serving: Calories 78, Carbohydrates 1.3g, Fat 0g, Protein 0g. * 25% FEWER CALORIES THAN THE LEADING DESSERT-INSPIRED VODKA. ©2013 The Smirnoff” Co., Norwalk, CT.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Smirnoff via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Smirnoff.

Hey ladies,

Who doesn’t love a spa treatment or a shopping spree? These little luxuries can brighten anyone’s day, but what it shouldn’t do is break the bank. There are times when you can splurge, but there are always cost effective ways of indulging in these little luxuries.

So how can we indulge but still save? I’m glad you asked! Here are my tips on affordable little luxuries

1. Deal-a-Day Sites – sites like Groupon, Amazon Local Deals, Lifebooker, and Living Social are great for deals for restaurants, spa treatments, beauty services-manicures, pedicures, waxing, hair salons, sales at your favorite stores, health and wellness classes, and even the movies! Sign-up and receive deals for your area daily

2. Invitation-Only Discount Designer Websites- sites like Gilt Group, Ideeli, Rue Lala, and Haute Look always have great deals for your favorite brands. You can purchase items up to 80% off on some sites. For an invitation to any of the sites click here.

3. Daily Subscriptions to Newsletters- I receive a number of newsletters to my inbox throughout the entire day. The newsletter feature special deals, sales, and exclusive previews as well.  Sign up for your favorite stores only. It gets pretty annoying and your inbox looks more like junk mail.

4. Sample Sales- sites like Daily Candy and The Cut are great for keeping up with the latest designer sample sales. Sample sales are awesome because you get great pieces for great prices.

5. Off Season Shopping- the best time to shop for the summer is when it is coming to an end. Off-season shopping is often overlooked. Fashion is always a season ahead and we should be also. You can shop in season for trendy pieces, but definitely shop off-season for classics, or trends that carry over.

These are my tips! What are your tips on affordable little luxuries?

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Fifth Third Bank via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Fifth Third Bank.

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend the “Things We Love” Summer Sail event hosted by The Glam Network and sponsored by Hawaiian Tropic. We started the day by boarding the Atlantica at Chelsea Piers and sailed across the Hudson River enjoying great cocktails, food, and conversation. This was the perfect way to spend the afternoon on a Wednesday. We were able to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday and take in the gorgeous view of the Statue of Liberty and the New York City sky line.  I was also in great company with Melissa and Melanie of O So Chic, John Simon from Haute Diary, Makeda from Glamazon Diaries, Shanequa from Temple of Glam, Kitty from KittyBradshaw.com, Christine from Tineey.com and a host of other bloggers.

On the ship we were able to speak to representatives from Hawaiian Tropic and also hear a short presentation. Hawaiian Tropic has a few new products that you definitely want to pick up for the summer.

The newest product is the Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Lotion Sunscreen. This new and improved formula will give you up to 12 hours of protection and moisturization because of the hydrating ribbons. “The sunscreen papers your skin like no ordinary sunscreen! The breakthrough dual ribbon formula combines superior protection with luxurious, hydrating silk protein to wrap your skin in continuous moisture and help you maintain luminous skin in the sun. Plus, its light, tropical fragrance stimulates your senses for a completely captivating in-sun experience.”

Product Details

  • New Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration™ lotion sunscreen is the only sun protection with extra luxurious hydrating ribbons to pamper your skin with 12 hour moisturization.
  • With hydrating ribbons infused with luxurious silk protein and rich shea butter, Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration™ sunscreen pampers and protects skin.
  • Available in SPF 12, 30 and 50, Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration™ lotion sunscreen provides safe and effective broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection that won’t break down in the sun, along with nourishing antioxidants, exotic island botanicals, a warm tropical fragrance and a lightweight, non-greasy feel.

What I love most about this product is that it is light and non-greasy. Most sunscreens are extremely thick and greasy and this is the total opposite. The hydrating ribbons are also a plus. Within the first application, you feel the major difference in your skin. The fragrance is also wonderful. Other sunscreens tend to have a horrible scent, but you will definitely enjoy the smell of this new product.

Cool Haus Red Velvet Ice Cream Sandwich with Red Velvet and Sugar Cookies and Edible Glam Paper

Other Hawaiian Tropic products that we received were the Hawaiian Tropic Shimmer Effect in coconut papaya. If you want that J. Lo or Beyonce glow, this product is amazing. It is not a bronzer but it does highlight your skin tone. We also received the new Hawaiian Tropic Aloha Kiss moisturizing lip gloss with SPF 20. My flavor is island berry and it will definitely be a staple in my cosmetic bag come this summer.

All of the guests were given amazing gift bags as well. The canvas tote bags were sponsored by Land’s End and filled with products from Starbucks, tarte cosmetics, O.P.I nail polish, Sonia Kashuk, Dove and more.

Sailing the Hudson River

Make sure you stock up on your Hawaiian Tropic products today. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

Crazy moments with the ladies!
 Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Hawaiian Tropic® Sun Care via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Hawaiian Tropic.