EASY AT HOME TEETH WHITENING FOR SENSITIVE TEETH + GIVEAWAY

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When smile brilliant contacted me about collaborating with them on their teeth whitening kit, I had a couple of questions lingering. Was this safe to use? Could it provide instant gratification and save me from the scary dentist trips? But after consistently using my whitening kit for about 6 weeks, I can confidently say this product really WORKS! 

My teeth were relatively white to begin with but because the sides were a few shades darker, whitening my teeth furthermore was often brought up at the dentist. I knew I wanted them to look better but I wasn't willing to compromise my tea addiction nor endure the pain of the process (due to my sensitive teeth)so this was perfect for me.

HOW TO GET STARTED

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  1. Once you've ordered your system, a complete package (Whitening & desensitizing syringes, catalyst and base paste and pre-aid postage) will arrive with simple instructions on how to create your impressions and send them back for free, will be included.
  2. With the dental impressions made from the catalyst and base paste, the labs will create a custom-fitted tray of the exact model of your teeth. This process takes around 3-5 days and the completed tray is sent back to your desired address.
  3. The whitening process can finally start! Apply a very thin ribbon of whitening gel on the outer area (so you whiten the front) after ONLY flossing and allow it to work its magic for 45 minutes-4 hours. After this step, it is very important to brush your teeth and repeat the same process for 15-20 minutes with the desensitizing gel.

MY EXPERIENCE

THE PHOTO ABOVE IS PRIOR TO WHITENING MY TEETH

THE PHOTO ABOVE IS PRIOR TO WHITENING MY TEETH

When I initially tried the whitening process, my pain level was around a 4/10 due to my extremely sensitive teeth and gums. Additionally, the desensitizing gel made me form tons of saliva as a natural body response. I gradually progressed my process from 25 minutes to eventually 1 hour as my pain tolerance (honestly I'm like cotton candy, I have none) increased. As seen in the photo above, my teeth are noticeably whiter than before using the kit. 

QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS

I have zero shame in asking questions many are often embarrassed to vocalize- so I thought I would share the concerns that were eventually eased by the very patient and kind Smile Brilliant team. 

  1. When should I whiten my teeth? The best time to do so is right before bedtime, this allows the whitening gel to do its magic while you're fast asleep with zero contact to food or drinks.
  2. Can I swallow my saliva during my whitening process? It's completely safe to swallow your saliva while doing this. Although it is a natural response, your body will eventually get accustomed to the process and you will create less saliva.
  3. Can I whiten my teeth if I have a crown? While the gel will not work on your crown, it is completely safe to use. Be sure to to carefully use the desensitizing gel after to make sure the bond is intact.
  4. Can I drink water after whitening my teeth? Absolutely. Please allow 20 minutes after the desensitizing gel to create a barrier. 

GIVEAWAY TIME

SURPRISE! I have a special giveaway just for you! In order to win your own customized tray creation kit,  be sure to read the rules below. Good luck babes! 

In order to be successfully entered, you MUST:

  1. Subscribe to this blog by entering your email address on the sidebar.
  2. Follow my Instagram
  3. Follow Smile Brilliant's Instagram
  4. Comment on my most recent photo by tagging two of your besties!
  5. Be sure to sign up for the giveaway after following the instructions above.

**There must at least 10 entries to qualify.**

DISCLAIMER: To save 5% OFF your whitening kit, feel free to use STILETTOSANDSTANDARDS5 but please note that while the kit was gifted to me for my honest review I will receive commission when the coupon code is used.

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BEST OF 2016

2016 wasn't the worst year, but it really tried to play me, though!

My brother was involved in a hit and run that broke his knee caps, my wig fell off while "drowning" (I had a life vest on by the way, so I wasn't going to drown) in a Mexican Cenote around a good amount of tourists, my relationships were tested among unexpected individuals and my love life consisted of blind dates with people who asked for two for one deals at coffee shops. 

There were many trying times and embarrassing moments like the above but I can't ignore the fact that this year was filled with an immense amount of growth and self confidence.

I went on many memorable trips (Canada, Washington D.C.Mexico, etc) and became a tourist in my own city by taking the time to appreciate my surroundings. I conquered my biggest fear of drowning by taking swimming courses and was featured on Condé Nast live for a makeup demo. 

Looking back on my Best of 2015 post, I can't help but be filled with warmth on how much Stilettos & Standards has grown in terms quality and family (YOU, my amazing subscribers.) It's creatively satisfying to know that I can have a particular post in mind, create it exactly how I pictured it and receive incredible feedback. The blog was filled with Street StyleMetal Cap Toesblogger meet ups and bringing awareness organizations like breast cancer

Thank you for sticking around with me last year and trusting my advice on fashion, food, travel and just living life. The bar has been set high this year and I can't wait to achieve our new goals! 

READ THE BEST OF 2016 BLOGPOSTS BELOW!

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VANDAL

Vandal is a restaurant inspired by the global artsy street fare and sits near the cobblestone streets of Bowery. The menu is filled with delicious tapas style portions that are mouth watering with the perfect splash of ambiance. If you're familiar with Tao and love the vibes, this would be right up your alley as it was founded by the same bombass Tao Group. 

The restaurant welcomes you with a beautiful terrarium-like garden entry that leads to a corridor similar to the Jeff Koons exhibit, where you can check in. There are many approachable bar tenders and friendly waiters filled with great recommendations of unique drinks and food. While often a jammed packed restaurant (even with reservations), my cousin and I were lucky enough to be seated right on time after trying out the Double Dutch (highly recommended) and Trigger Finger at the bar. 

Each room is painted by a different street artist and reminded me of my love for art and the freedom it brings within. We tried out the Pretzel Steak Tartare (my favorite), Chicken Shawarma Salad, Grilled Brussel Sprouts and Balinese Branzino. The food is lovely but you're really in Vandal for the ambiance and elite atmosphere. 

It's absolutely a place worth checking out a few times for the experience and ambiance but be prepare to spend some coins because a tab for two can easily be $200. 

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DEAR AÏCHATOU | A LETTER TO THE FUTURE ME

I hope this letter finds itself in your virtual archives, ready to be read in a world so advanced the keys it's currently being typed on seem absurd and inefficient. 

And while this world may now be so far ahead, I hope some parts of you remain the same. Like the softness that allowed you to exude laughter everyday and the way you've always saw people for what they could be. I also hope some things have finally changed about you- like how you're so overly sensitive towards things that shouldn't even matter and how you've allowed these "could've been" people take advantage of you. 

Are you still obsessed with the things you're passionate about? Like how you'd run home after school as a child, under the beaming Benin sun to articulate your huge imagination into art. I hope you've stopped being so hard on yourself, self doubt was always one of your biggest challenges. I hope when you look back at this letter, written on your way to work in an uncomfortably crowded train and you smile at the memory.

Remember when you were flunking your freshman year of college because you were going legally blind? HA! Now look at you with all these degrees and honors, still going at it to make a difference in the world. What about all the crappy jobs that got the bills paid but made you sob? Now look at you all proud at the lessons life has taught you. 

Through all the obstacles you've faced, I hope you continue to turn them into opportunities. I hope you've chased your dreams, like you did with those fireflies and frogs in the deserted summer nights of Guinea. You loved sitting under the mango trees and letting the breeze hit your face while you imagined your future at such a tender age. Do you still dream of seeing the world like you did as a little girl keeping up with click of your mother's heels in the massive airports? For what it's worth, you've spent most of your time as a new U.S. citizen, saving up and eating meal prepped lunches so you could see it all and mark it on your world map.  

You've had this thing instilled in you, where if you wanted something bad enough, you went after it by any means necessary. You've trained yourself to be independent, courageous and determined- I hope that never changes. Whatever you are going through right now, don't be so hard on yourself because I am proud of you. If you haven't already, please stop living in cognitive dissonance and go for what what sets your soul on fire. Never, ever settle and don't feel bad when those you have tell you that you should. 

I believe in you,

Love Aïchatou. 

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GOLDEN 26 | 6 THINGS FOR 26

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First of all, HOW?!

How am I twenty-six already? It's making me a little anxious to see life flashing by and I haven't completed things I'd still like to check off. Then there's this little voice in my head constantly reminding me that life can't be 100% planned and as I get older I am given the opportunity of longevity and wisdom. 

Twenty-five has been filled with fear and anxiety but the laughter and accomplishments are truly what I remember the most. As I close the chapter of a QUARTER OF A CENTURY, where I wholeheartedly learned the meaning of hustling for your dreams, here are some things I'll be taking with me on my Golden Two Six:

1. KINDNESS- I realized that when you're kind and have a pure heart, people will walk all over you. I've had to remain impeccable with my words and behavior when my kindness was continuously tested. Not every action deserves my reaction or me getting out of character to prove a point. I like my softness and my belief that the world is still such a beautiful place through all obstacles. I mean, I can go from high tea to vodka real quick, but I just prefer the high tea part 99% of the time! 

2. YEAR OF YES- If there's anything I am proud of learning during my Quarter of a Century year, it is how incredible my life has been since I've done things out of my comfort zones. When I opened my heart to experiences I've continuously shut down, the world seemed to welcome me with open arms. 

3. NO- I am sure this probably sounds like an oxymoron considering I just said it's been a year of yes for me but hear me out, okay? I came to an understanding of suggestion when to say Yes and when to say No. "No" to things that do not serve a purpose to me. No to things that made me uncomfortable AND unhappy. No to things that didn't work for me but pleased everyone else. 

4. OBSESSION- "Be obsessed with your passion, master it, learn it, fight for it." I tell myself this EVERY TIME and OVER TIME to OVERCOME anything that gives me self doubt and defeat. Because if I am not obsessed with my passion, who will be for me? 

5. CHANGE- I love change, I embrace growth and continuously remind myself that nothing changes if nothing changes. If I want something I've never had, I would have to do something I've never done.

6. GRATITUDE- I know you've seen this already if you read STAYING MOTIVATED. It's so important for me to remember that although I don't have everything I want, I have enough. Practicing the art of a grateful heart has taken me unimaginably far.

7. LIVE- None of the above can happen unless I live to the fullest extent of my potential and in the moment. I am that person who's always waited for summer to happen in the winter and complain about the heat. Once I learned to beauty of living and not surviving, I was able to efficiently practice all of the above.

Thank you so much for stopping by! Please feel free to click the title and leave a comment below. Don't forget to join my family by subscribing on the side bar (right below the "Meet Aïchatou Photo"). YOU are appreciated! 

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WHAT TO DO WHEN TRAVELING TO WASHINGTON D.C. FOR A DAY

📍Union Station, Washington D.C. -The metro system in D.C. is quite different from NYC. The metro passes are hard like debit cards & necessary for both entry & exit of the subway for extra security. A day pass , which includes train and bus rides is $14.50 and an extra $2.00 for the new card.

📍Union Station, Washington D.C.

-The metro system in D.C. is quite different from NYC. The metro passes are hard like debit cards & necessary for both entry & exit of the subway for extra security. A day pass , which includes train and bus rides is $14.50 and an extra $2.00 for the new card.

📍Washington Square, Washington D.C. -We were able to see the Washington Monument, from standing in the Square which is surrounded by so much beautiful history!

📍Washington Square, Washington D.C.

-We were able to see the Washington Monument, from standing in the Square which is surrounded by so much beautiful history!

📍African American Museum, Washington D.C. -Unfortunately, by the time we arrived to the Museum for the free tickets, they were already done distributing them by 6AM & were completely booked until May 2017 online.

📍African American Museum, Washington D.C.

-Unfortunately, by the time we arrived to the Museum for the free tickets, they were already done distributing them by 6AM & were completely booked until May 2017 online.

📍Washington Monument, Washington D.C. I am not sure if you could tell how happy I was to see all this history.

📍Washington Monument, Washington D.C.

I am not sure if you could tell how happy I was to see all this history.

📍World War II Memorial, Washington D.C. -A national memorial dedicated to American veterans & Civilians from Word War II

📍World War II Memorial, Washington D.C.

-A national memorial dedicated to American veterans & Civilians from Word War II

📍Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. -"In this temple as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the union the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever."  THANK YOU President Lincoln for standing up against slavery during a time everyone saw it as the norm.

📍Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

-"In this temple as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the union the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever." 

THANK YOU President Lincoln for standing up against slavery during a time everyone saw it as the norm.

📍Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Washington D.C. - This memorial honors MLK's legacy and the struggle for freedom, equality and justice. Thank you Dr. King all that you have done for the freedom & rights of blacks!

📍Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Washington D.C.

- This memorial honors MLK's legacy and the struggle for freedom, equality and justice. Thank you Dr. King all that you have done for the freedom & rights of blacks!

📍Ford Theater, Washington D.C. - The Ford Theater is where the assassination of President Lincoln took place. The location includes the president's timeline during office & the day he was assassinated. 

📍Ford Theater, Washington D.C.

- The Ford Theater is where the assassination of President Lincoln took place. The location includes the president's timeline during office & the day he was assassinated. 

📍Department of Treasury, Washington D.C.

📍Department of Treasury, Washington D.C.

📍1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington D.C. - The absolutely BEAUTIFUL white house.

📍1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington D.C.

- The absolutely BEAUTIFUL white house.

📍1400 New York Avenue, Washington D.C. - Many of the streets are named after states, colonies or a title from the United States government. When I saw NY Avenue after leaving a gift shop, I ran for a photo and bumped my head right into this pole! HAH!

📍1400 New York Avenue, Washington D.C.

- Many of the streets are named after states, colonies or a title from the United States government. When I saw NY Avenue after leaving a gift shop, I ran for a photo and bumped my head right into this pole! HAH!

Going to Washington D.C was a very impulsive decision made to visit various monuments and museums. I truly wanted to explore the state for the first time before my favorite American family, the Obamas, officially left the White House and Congress. So I decided to pack lightly, purchase a few tickets, plan accordingly (honestly, I didn't do the planning...my coworker who came with me did) and go sight seeing. As a very organized person, this was by far the best impulsive (and of course still planned) decision I ever made! 


Like anything in life, many of the things we wanted to do didn't go as planned but I knew from being a wanderlust, that was out of my control and rolled with the punches. It's a trip I will undoubtedly, take again now that it was an experience I learned from. Here are five things you should know about traveling to Washington D.C, particularly in a day.


1. DRESS COMFORTABLY- When I usually travel for sightseeing, my rule of thumb is to dress as if I were going to an amusement park. A comfy attire is key for walking around and exploring because the least of your problems should be discomfort.

2. TRAVEL EFFICIENTLY- While flying to D.C. was an option, it wasn't the most efficient way considering all the necessary effort needed to board and travel to the airport. My suggestion is to take Amtrak since it's more reliable than taking the bus. We were stranded in the cold rain for over an hour waiting for a late bus that had minimal leg room. Taking the train on our way back was such a better experience.

3. STAY HYDRATED AND FULL- Having a heavy breakfast even at the crack of dawn was a lifesaver. The commute is about 3-4 hours so packing for snacks to munch on and water to hydrate during mid naps will help with a smoother trip.

4. PACK LIGHTLY- I literally had my wallet, a neck pillow and food that would eventually vanish by the time I got to my destination. As hard as it was to let go of my everyday essentials, packing light was such a great idea!  

5. PLAN ACCORDINGLY- Yes, some of our plans were delayed because of our bus being late but planning in a timely manner to see the exhibits and monuments was so helpful. We were able to group things by general locations so we didn't have to go back and forth. We had a bunch of different maps from one monument to another and discarded them *as we reached our destination. 

I hope these few tips help better your experience with traveling to Washington D.C. for a day!

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THE ULTIMATE PORTABLE CHARGER

A huge inconvenience for me is to be in the middle of nowhere with zero access to charging my phone. I can't count the amount of times I've been to an event or an amusement park, ready to call someone or snap my best photos and BAM- no battery life.

So when Fifth & Ninth, a company inspired by the avenues that border New York City's fashion district, contacted me about trying out their multifunctional charger I was beyond ecstatic! If you're a person always on the go handling things on your devices, you'd love this as much as I do.

After using it for over a week, I can truly say it's extremely helpful. The mirror comes with a regular and zoomed in side, a USB cable to charge it, an LED light and a port that is friendly for any charger with a USB end. I am able to tell its battery life (which is actually worth about 2-4 charges) by clicking the side button once and turning the on and off the LED light by holding it for 3 seconds.  

If you don't like reading manuals like me, this is pretty much all you need to know. The mirror will be sold at large retail stores like Sephora and Macy's at a cost of $29.99 BUT you know I came through with a coupon code! Use Aichatou10 to get 10% off at the check out. 

If you order it, let me know if you love it as much as I do! I love being able to charge my phone, to slay and stay literally LIT. **3 snaps & hair flip**

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GRAND BANKS X CLAW DADDY'S

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You all know by now that I am a foodie- it's really no surprise that I like to stuff my face because I live for mouth watering and finger licking moments (zero pun intended!). 

When I head out to eat, my decision to come back usually relies on good food, ambiance and hospitality. That generally enhances my experience which becomes contingent on whether or not I'll recommend my friends there. Grand Banks and Claw Daddy does that for me, it makes me want to go back and just bring an entire group of friends there (which I've already done). The vibes and tasty meals just make me want seconds and maybe thirds (even if I am already full).

I didnt spend much time at Grand Banks because by the time my cousin and I ended our photo shoot on the Pier and decided to get a table, the wait was way too long for our growling stomachs. I highly recommend stopping by there around early afternoon during the weekdays, before their peak hours and ordering the "locals only" drink in addition to your meal. Having dinner on a boat would've been a great experience but because it was so packed we decided to get drinks, head to Claw Daddy's and have dinner there next time.

I am so glad Grand Banks didn't work out because I would've never developed an obsession for Claw Daddy's. It has hands down become one of my favorite restaurants because of their kind hostesses, fresh seafood and ADULT CAPRISUN, which is a mixture of drinks of your choice poured into an original "Claw Daddy's" caprison like bag. The ambiance is overall casual but by all means slay if you'd like to because you can never be overdressed.

So far I've tried the fresh oysters and clams, crab cake fritters, shrimp jambalaya, grilled oysters, grilled clams and breaded baked mac and cheese; I have zero complaints about all of the above. The tables give you the option of doodling on paper with crayons but sitting at the bar and hanging out with Holly, our awesome bartender while indulging these delicious plates is definitely the way to go.

Thank you Holly for your bomb bartending skills and the free drinks! 

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US OPEN 2016

Up until a few months ago, I had been the least athletic person you would ever meet. I didn't even know what a point guard in basketball was. (Don't do that- I feel you judging me and this is a judgement free zone). Sports were fun to play in high school but once I graduated, I didn't even entertain the idea of lifting a ball let alone watching a game. So to my surprise when I went to the US Open I was like a kid in Disney world-extremely happy and wanting to do every activity available. Here are some things I learned when I attended the US Open as a newbie.

1- You will need sunblock, sunglasses, a hat and water to stay hydrated. The sun is literally beaming over your head and there's barely anywhere for you to find shade in this open arena. So prepare yourself and dress comfortably.

2. If you don't know what's going on, don't be afraid to ask because chances are that you're not the only one. The game is more enjoyable when you know what's going on rather than going along with what the crowd is doing. I initially felt lost but the minute my friend explained to me what was going on, you can bet I was just as excited.

3. Travel lightly. There's A LOT of walking around so the last thing you'd want to do is carry a bunch of things you really won't need. A backpack or a wristlet that would be attached to you and easy to carry around is highly recommended. Research what you can actually bring into the park per season so you don't get torn with having to throw away your expensive fragrance or hot tools (I know what you are thinking, HOT TOOLS?! Yes, there are people who brought those in). 

4. The atmosphere is a calming slow pace compared to what usually happens in NYC. It's a nice feeling to escape for a day and be in an environment where you can stop and take in your surroundings. 

5. Take advantage of the free things! Be shameless & happy! My job offered the option of a buy one ticket and get one free for a limited time but there was a 12-6PM free activity which included the semi-finals so we happily took the opportunity. 

FUN FACT: US Open is the fourth Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year. The other three Grands Slams of the year are Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. 

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PETER THOMAS MASK-A-HOLIC

Do you have oily, dry or combination skin? Do you suffer from excessive or occasional break outs? Do you love face masks but you don't want them leaving your skin deprived of its natural oils? Are you looking for the perfect one to pamper your skin? You've come to the right post, you should stay a little longer. 

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The Peter Thomas Mask-a-Holic is the perfect bundle for any skin type, giving you the option of various masks and allowing you to figure out what works best for your skin.

I enjoy using masks, especially after a long day of work when I'm in need of some kind of pampering without the price of an ultimate spa day. However, most masks I use end up leaving my face so squeaky clean that they strip my skin of its natural oil. While I do have an oily T-Zone (the center of my face that outlines like the letter T) it is still essential to keep my skin moisturized. An oily face is the result of your skin producing too much oil due to the lack of, hence why we still need to moisturize and prime before applying makeup. 

I finally snagged this Peter Thomas set when a sample was given to me at Sephora. The masks give me such intense hydration while doing the job of keeping my acne in check. The option of having 5 different masks for $75 rather than trying out one for about $80 is a steal, especially since a little goes such a long way. This package allows me to figure out what my skin needs in terms of treatments and what works best before splurging on the full size items. I've had it for several weeks now and can honestly say these masks leave my skin better than then it was before.

I make sure to use one mask at a time, three times a week to monitor results. That way if there is any allergic reaction I would be able to determine the cause. I leave the masks on a clean face for approximately 10-15 minutes when my pores were opened and can properly absorbed the treatments.

My favorite would hands down be the Mud Mask, which I will replenish on once this bunch is done. Have you tried any Peter Thomas products? What are your favorites? Please comment down below and let me know- it may be something I want!

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SPOT CORRECTOR SERUM FT. CAULADÍE

 

While I no longer suffer from acne, one of the issues that still bothers me is the mark they leave behind. Makeup is a great tool for a boost of confidence but more importantly, being comfortable in your own skin is the ultimate goal. 

Although I do not have acne prone skin, there is an occasional pimple here and there will pop up to remind me of my adolescent days. And when that pimple or zit is gone? It leaves it mark behind! So I had to finally introduce a spot corrector serum into my skincare routine to get rid of this issue. Caudalíe has slowly but surely been vanishing my dark spots and giving me an even skin tone. Although pricey, this $79 jar of magic is really worth it in my opinion. I use it after my toner, while my pores are still open and right before my moisturizer in order to seal it.

When looking for the right product, whether it is the organic route (like using lemon and vitamin C) or a more advanced way (products like this serum), listen to your skin. Be sure to stay away from products that create redness, rashes and more hyper pigmentation after a week or two. It took a little over two weeks to finally see results after applying my serum (morning and night) so be patient because it is really worth the result!

What is your current favorite skincare regiment? Have you used a dark spot corrector before? Click this blog title and leave your comments down below!

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BARAWINE

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Barawine is just the place to be when you want a simple night out, affordable food and great hospitality. My cousin Binta (she designed my blog! Check her out here) and I had a last minute reservation on a Thursday night due to the rain changing up our scheduled plans. However, the hostess was polite and fulfilled our request to dine at the bar. One of the things I love about with our dinners is that it's more than often business and pleasure. We chat about upcoming goals, the places we want to check out and update our bucket lists. Both our meals- Beef Bolognese & the Fillet Steak & Potatoes, were delicious! And our drinks the Manhattan Sour & Got Mint? (not pictured in this post, SORRY!), were equally refreshing. All that being said, if you ever find yourself in Harlem and would like to feel like you're in Paris for a few hours, stop by Barawine and have a seat at the bar. Philip is a lovely bartender, great host and very attentive. 

Oh & tell him Binta & Aïcha sent you!

 

Thank you so much for stopping by! Please feel free to click the title and leave a comment below. Don't forget to join my family by subscribing on the side bar (right below the "Meet Aïchatou Photo"). YOU are appreciated! 

 

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S&S IN MEXICO (PART TWO)

The last few days in Mexico were just as adventurous as the as our first (Read Here). We did a lot more eating, drinking, sight seeing and ended our stay with a spa date. Mexico was truly a beautiful place to visit with so much informative history, excellent hospitality and tasty food. 

📍 Cenote Xunnan, Mexico.

We woke up bright and early to meet with the Aventuras Mayas team who drove us into a beautiful jungle for activities. We (By that I mean Jeannette) drove ATVs to a hidden gem where we zip lined into a beautiful open cenote. 

 

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📍 Cenote Xunnan- Ha, Mexico.

First of all, I was shedding tears and was literally shaking before getting on. The instructor advised us to lean back when zip lining so that we wouldn't get stuck in the middle of the track.So I was pretty much parallel to the line because I wasn't having that! HAH!  We zipped over 30, 50, 75 feet up in the air, I really was terrified but pushed through after I backed out of jumping off the cliff into Cenote Ik-il. 

 

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📍 Cenote Estrella, Mexico.

Zip lining was followed by swimming in a cave filled with bats and water species. Although the water was freezing cold due to lack of sunlight, the experience itself made me forget about the temperature. How beautiful is this?! 

 

This photo was taken from google, as I left my camera in my luggage by then.

This photo was taken from google, as I left my camera in my luggage by then.

📍 Sandal Caracol, Eco Spa.

Our last day was completed by spending time at the resort's spa and using the $25 off vouchers gifted to us by our concierge. The Jacuzzi, sauna, pool, tea and 51 minute massage was exactly what we needed before taking our flight in the evening. 

 

📍 A hundred thousand feet in the air, somewhere between home and adventures.

Being in Mexico was extremely humbling. Staying in our resort with exceptional hospitality to visiting the cities where people with no doors nor electricity, smiled just gave me so much courage and respect. It truly reminds me of growing up in America on a clean slate and being appreciative of what what my parents gave to me. Although I never understood giving away a comfortable lifestyle to struggling here- I now understand that it was all for the opportunity to do what I am currently doing. Living and not surviving. 

Thank you so much for stopping by! Please feel free to click the title and leave a comment below. Don't forget to join my family by subscribing on the side bar (right below the "Meet Aïchatou Photo"). YOU are appreciated! 

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S&S IN MEXICO (PART ONE)

My trip to Mexico was SUCH a last minute trip! You see, up until a week prior to booking our trip, my best friend Jeannette and I had Puerto Rico in mind. But instead, we decided to switch things up and make last minute arrangements (which made me very nervous considering how much of a control freak I am) once we saw the forecast was much better there. Jeannette wanted to lay out on the beach as much as possible and tan while I wanted to do as many excursions as I could. We squeezed both of our desires into a 5 day trip and sealed the deal with a spa date in our resort, Sandos Caracol, right before our flight on our last day. 

We checked in around 3PM at our pristine resort set in the picturesque city of Riviera Maya. The resort was just serene and eco-friendly, which I really appreciated.

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📍Sandos Caracol, Riviera Maya.

These photos were taken after our power nap, right at the pool and on the beach as the sun set and moon popped up. The shack reminded me so much of Beyonce's Lemonade so I had to sneak a photo! 

 

📍 Sandos Caracol, Riviera Maya.

We were up bright and early to be transported on this ride that reminded me of The Magic School Bus for our 12 hour excursion to Xichén Itza, Yucatan, Mexico.

 

 

📍Xelha, Mexico

We made a stop to freshen up and purchase snacks and the eco-friendly public restrooms were to die for. I loved the ceiling baskets and the opened windows by the sink.

 

 

📍Ebtun, Mexico.

After roughly a two hour ride, we stopped at Ebtun to explore the Mayan culture in a local area. We were offered yellow crystals to make a wish on and burn as well as blessed water placed to on our knees, heart and temple.

 

 

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📍Chichén Itza, Yucatan, Mexico.

I was literally standing under the beaming sun, on top of 1 of the 7 wonders of the world. Chichén Itza was created by Mayans at the center of the universe. 

 

 

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📍Cenote, Ik-Il, Mexico. 

If you were keeping up with my Instagram while I was in Mexico then you know how upset I was for not conquering my fear of jumping into this 150 foot deep water cave. I told myself I was going to jump off the cliff up until I got there and saw how intense everything was. Walking away from this, I told myself that going forward I was going to be limitless and say YES to anything that would challenge my fears.

 

 

📍Cenote Ik-Il, Mexico.

I took this candid shot after we had lunch at Cenote Ik-Il. I don't think I've ever appreciated a beverage so much considering how blazing hot the temperature was. 

 

 

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📍 Valladolid, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.

Even though it was unplanned, our tour guides from Xplor were kind enough to make sure stopping by the historic Valladolid fit into our schedule and took us anyway. Valladolid was established by the Spaniard and French- relocated from Spain to Mexico where the colonist dismantled the Mayan buildings and reused their stones for a colonial town. There was eventually an uprising between the Mayans and Colonists. 

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📍Sandos Caracol, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.

With such a jam packed day, Jeannette and I somehow still had enough energy to dress up and head out for dinner. By the time we were all set, only one restaurant was still open. So we headed out for burgers on a swing and ran back to our room because a raccoon chased us! 

 

Thank you so much for stopping by! Please feel free to click the title and leave a comment below. Don't forget to join my family by subscribing on the side bar (right below the "Meet Aïchatou Photo"). YOU are appreciated! 

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15 WEIRD QUESTIONS TAG

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I had such a great time doing my 15 THINGS ABOUT ME TAG, I thought "why not another one?!" So here's something short and fun post on things that you probably never knew about me!

#1. What's a nickname only your family calls you? Most of my family nicknames derive from my full name: Chatou, Satou Bella, or just my full name when my mom is pissed at me. HAH!

#2. What's a weird habit of yours? I can't go to sleep or be in a room with the door open and once I'm around people for over a month, I can recognize their footsteps before I see them. I knowwww, super odd.  

#3. Do you have any weird phobias? For a very long time, I was afraid that if I hit my head in a swimming pool, I would die. So I never bothered to learn how to swim because of it. Now I'm taking a ten course lesson because this is my year to "Feel The Fear and Do it Anyway."

#4. What's a song you secretly LOVE to blast & belt out when you're alone? Any kind Afrobeat is my jam. Do you dance in the shower? Oh, me either.

#5. What's one of your biggest pet peeves? When people chew with their mouth opened or burp excessively. Oh, and when people leave me in a room and do not close the door. (Please see #2)

#6. What's one of your nervous habits? I laugh when I'm nervous. I know I can't be the only one who does that. 

#7. What side of the bed do you sleep on? The middle, I'm skinny and stingy. (Just kidding about the reasoning...I think)

#8. What was your first stuffed animal & what was its name? I actually had a bunch of dolls growing up. Stuffed animals were never really my thing but my doll collection was unimaginable! I lived for the days my mother would go on trips and come back with the most exotic dolls for me. It took so much effort for me to let them go. (Read the story HERE

#9. What's the drink you ALWAYS order at Starbucks? A Trenti, mocha focha with soy milk, foamed up half way, 3 Splenda hold the powder with whip cream and three pumps of sweetener. Just kidding, a hot chocolate with whip cream because I'm such a Starbucks immigrant. 

#10. What's the beauty rule you preach.. but never ACTUALLY practice? Drink, drink, drink water! It's good for you and will clear out all your pores. It is super essential for skincare and will give you the perfect canvas. What do I drink? A can of Soda. *shaking my head.

#11. Which way do you face in the shower?  I like the water on my face, so I face forward? Which is super odd considering #3.

#12. Do you have any 'weird' body 'skills'? I can twist my tongue, crack my ankles randomly and I am double jointed. 

#13. What's your favorite 'comfort food'/food thats 'bad' but you love to eat it anyways?  SHAKE SHACK! I had to put it into caps to explain how much my soul loves it. 

#14. What's a phrase or exclamation you always say? YASSSSSS. SLAY HUNNAY. You Betta WERK. On FLEEK!

#15. Time to sleep- what are you ACTUALLY wearing? A nice silk Victoria secret PJ set with the matching robe. Kidding again, an old T-shirt and some fuzzy socks, there's no one to look cute for! Girl, bye. 

Thank you so much for stopping by! Please feel free to click the title and leave a comment below. Don't forget to join my family by subscribing on the side bar (right below the "Meet Aïchatou Photo"). YOU are appreciated! 

DEETS:

JACKET: Here

BROWS: ABH Dipbrow Pomade in Ebony & Clear Brow Gel.

EYES: Too Faced Semi-Sweet Palette

LIPS: ABH liquid lipstick in Trust Issues & Colourpop Liquid Lipstick in Limbo.

Thank you so much for stopping by! Please feel free to click the title and leave a comment below. Don't forget to join my family by subscribing on the side bar (right below the "Meet Aïchatou Photo"). YOU are appreciated! 

 

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CANTINA ROOFTOP WITH BEAUTY BIZ NETWORK

I can't stress enough on how much someone's network is their net worth. For bloggers or entrepreneurs, it's not only about what you can bring to the table but who you're eating with. I told myself this year I would shy away from being timid and actually meet individuals that are like minded in the process of wanting to succeed or have already surpassed their goals. There's just an invisible push when you know that you're not doing something alone and not only does this apply to entrepreneurship but to anyone in reach of their life goal. What Beauty Biz Network has refreshed my memory on here, is the power of being true to yourself in the pursuit of your passion. Be an expert at turning obstacles into opportunities, market yourself to the point you know longer have to introduce yourself and learn from the tribe of people that are starving as much as you to succeed. 

Thank you Beauty Biz Network for bringing a different caliber of individuals with different end goals but who similarly have the desire to conquer what most view as impossible.

Thank you so much for stopping by! Please feel free to click the title and leave a comment below. Don't forget to join my family by subscribing on the side bar (right below the "Meet Aïchatou Photo"). YOU are appreciated! 

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School's Out!

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Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." -Nelson Mandela

While education does not measure a person's intelligence, I still firmly believe it to be an eye opener. These past weeks have been insanely and incredibly busy in the most positive way. Between honor dinners, graduating among twenty-two hundred students (with a double major in International Business and Marketing and a minor in Multi-Media Studies) loan free and celebrating- I needed a short hiatus. However, I’m excited to be to share this amazing experience with you.

After my departmental honor's ceremony & induction (Read Here), I attended another one where I found out I made it into SEVEN honor programs! It was such an exciting and rewarding feeling to be recognized for my endurance and consistency. I graduated on May 28, 2015 as Cum Laude, Presidential Scholar, Departmental Honors, Economic and Business, Chi Alpha Epsilon National Honors Society, Sigma Beta Delta International Honors Society and Delta Psi Chapter. This day gave me an indescribable feeling of strength and security, where I felt like no one could take away the degree I earned. After the graduation ceremony, which lasted for about an hour and a half, I went home to set up a celebration with a few of my girlfriends I have met throughout my college years. I had a room filled with love, laughter, music, balloons and lots of sweets! I truly just wanted to let go and that is exactly how it went. (Thank you girls for coming!)

I chose to wear something that represented my African heritage. The fabric was purchased and imported from Africa while my crop top and pencil skirt set was designed by me and tailored through a longtime family friend and seamstress. Choosing something that was close to home and modern was always the plan for me. I wanted something chic and classy that I could be worn again but screamed my Guinean nationality. I have never felt so honored to make my mother proud because she literally gave up her career in Africa for her children’s education- for that exact moment.

Now I have heard this countless amounts of times..."Aïchatou, what's next for you now that you have completed undergraduate?" Truthfully, I want to break free from all the stress I have endured in books and grades to live life. I want to travel the world, taste different foods and establish myself in my career field. I want to do all that fearlessly.

What are some of your recent accomplishments? Whether it is graduating from school or just pursuing a challenging task, please do share because I would love to hear all about it!

S&S WISHES YOU A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

Hi Beauties!

I just wanted to come up here and wish you all a very beautiful and Merry Christmas from my wonderland tree to yours. I hope that this day brings you joy, peace and love- actually not only on Christmas but every single day you live. 

May this Christmas and endless ones be filled with laughters & health, while you surround yourself with loved ones.

xo,

Aïchatou Bella.

Dear Undergraduate Students

I initially wanted to do a back to school makeup essential, but after consideration and seeing countless amounts of YouTube tutorials on it, I thought to myself. What else could have helped me if I were just starting college...something more logical than beauty And then I thought, Duh, Aïchatou! How to get through it! 

Now yes, being fabulous is by all means important if you are a glam girl like me. But there's also something extremely satisfying when I tell people that I graduated with three majors and seven honors. I was raised from a family that believed in confidence without vanity. While beauty depreciates, your demeanor and intellect that is brought to the table appreciates. With that being said, based on my strict family and my undergrad experience, here are five things you should know about college.

1. Do NOT procrastinate. I promise you, your best work isn't produced under pressure. When you knock things off your list ahead of time, it gives you the liberation to flow ideas in a better state of mind.

2. Be fabulous, but also balance being an intellectual bad ass. There's nothing sexier than a woman who can hold it down herself. Grades DO matter, maybe not on resumes but for other things such as  wanting to get into grad school.

3. You will lose friends. And that's totally fine, it will happen within your college atmosphere and outside of it. As you mature and start to figure out what it is you want outside your comfort zone, it may make others uncomfortable. Stay true to yourself, and those who appreciate your growth will support you. 

4. RENT those books! If you are one of those people who love to keep textbooks, bless your heart. But if you are like me and love to save some $$$ and space? Chegg, bookbyte, and Bookrenter are your new friends darling. 

5. While stilettos may be uncomfortable on campus, always keep your standards. Don't get so caught up into the drinking and partying part that you forget your priorities. Play hard, work harder and look pretty! 

U.S. Virgin Islands

The more I travel and check locations off my bucket list, the more I feel in tune with myself and what the world has to offer in terms of cultural values and inspirations. A good friend of mine and I decided to book a vacation for a week in celebration of our college graduation. We had a busy week filled with exploring the beauty of Mother Nature and feeding our senses with unfamiliarity through exploration. 

St. Thomas is absolutely breathtaking with its beaming sun, clear turquoise sea and summer breeze. We stayed locally in a town called Anna's Retreat- filled with countless mango trees while enjoying our week filled activities. Thankfully, I wore more bathing suits than causal clothing and traveled throughout the island to take in its beauty. We had seafood on the beach at Coki Point, paddle boarded in the salt water, viewed the skyline at Mountain Top, enjoyed the tropics of Coral World Aquarium and even took a Ferry ride to St. John for an ecotour hike and snorkeling on Honeymoon's beach. I would have to say my all time favorite location was Magens Beach for its attraction and mind blowing mountain view and visiting Main Street where stores were aligned in a rainbow of alleys.

What are some places you have visited this summer or would love to? I want to hear about them so leave a comment below!

Bathing Suits- Here | Flash Tattoos- Here | Sunglasses- Similar Here | Peach Tank- Here | Shorts- Similar Here | Denim Dress- Here | Sandals- Similar Here