Picture Perfect!

I don’t know about you, but last month I took dozens of digital family photos during the Thanksgiving holiday. Capturing the fun and enjoyment of being with my family through photographs is something that brings me great pleasure. I’m sure my little cousins, nieces and nephew hate to see me coming because I always round them up for what probably seems to them like an annoying nonstop snapshot session!

That’s why I am dying to get my hands on the latest gadget for photo-loving folks like me – the digital picture frame. Now, with these innovative frames you can simply upload your photos and have your own personal slideshow at your desk! Even though my husband thinks these devices are a huge waste of money, I think they’re rather cute and a great way to display your favorite photos. Maybe someone on your Christmas list will think so too!

Above: Royal Business Machines 10.4″ Digital Picture Frame available at Circuit City www.circuitcity.com for $229.95

Give Yourself the Greatest Gift Ever…Get Tested!

I know many of you still live with the notion that AIDS is something that happens to other people, but it isn’t. It’s still a disease that’s rampant within our communities and could unfortunately happen to you if you don’t use protection and proper precautions.

The statistics show that HIV and AIDS is still one of the leading causes of death among African-American men and women. According to the CDC, In the United States, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is a health crisis for African Americans. At all stages of HIV/AIDS—from infection with HIV to death with AIDS—blacks (including African Americans) are disproportionately affected compared with members of other races and ethnicities.

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to find out your status. Get tested regulary because It could save your life. Remember, BGs always take care of themselves and use protection. Be smart. Knowing is empowering.

Here are some startling facts:

According to the 2000 census, blacks make up approximately 13% of the US population. However, in 2005, blacks accounted for 18,121 (49%) of the estimated 37,331 new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the United States in the 33 states with long-term, confidential name-based HIV reporting.

Of all black men living with HIV/AIDS, the primary transmission category was sexual contact with other men, followed by injection drug use and high-risk heterosexual contact.

Of all black women living with HIV/AIDS, the primary transmission category was high-risk heterosexual contact, followed by injection drug use.

Of the estimated 141 infants perinatally infected with HIV, 91 (65%) were black (CDC, HIV/AIDS Reporting System, unpublished data, December 2006).

Of the estimated 18,849 people under the age of 25 whose diagnosis of HIV/AIDS was made during 2001–2004 in the 33 states with HIV reporting, 11,554 (61%) were black.

BG Jurnee Smollett’s Journey to Stardom

You may remember her as the cute kid from CBS’s hit TV show Cosby, not The Cosby Show, but the show that came after the pop culture hit. Whether you remember her from that show or as the precocious young girl in Eve’s Bayou or the sassy teen in Roll Bounce, you’re sure to remember 21-year-old Jurnee Smollett after what seems to be a riveting performance in the Oprah Winfrey produced and Denzel Washington directed film, The Great Debaters.

Inspired by a true story, the movie tells the story of Melvin B. Tolson, a professor at Wiley College Texas who encourages African-American students to form the school’s first debate team.

I’ve only viewed an extended trailer of the upcoming film, but the clips that I have seen, have shown Jurnee performing an excellent portrayal of an impassioned lawyer and orator in the South during the mid 1930s.

With the undoubtedly helpful Oprah and Denzel promotion and influence, I’m sure that the film will be a box-office hit, which will surely make her the hottest young African-American female actress in Tinseltown.

Watch the Great Debaters Trailer here:

Here are 5 Facts about Jurnee:

She has 4 brothers and 1 sister and all of their names begin with the letter “J.”

She did a TV show with her brothers and sisters called, On Our Own on ABC in 1994.

She’s been in front of the camera since she was 10 months old.

She appeared on ABC’s Full House several times.

She is on the Board of Directors of “Artists for a New Africa,” a group dedicated to dealing with HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Meet Joan Vaccianna — A Fashion Icon In the Making

Stella McCartney, Diane Von Furstenburg, Donna Karan, Tracey Reese, yes we have all heard of these phenomenal female fashion designers, but some of you may not be as familiar with Joan Vaccianna, but that will soon change. Her sexy, sophisticated and ultra feminine line, Vaccianna, is sure to make all the true fashionistas and style mavens stand up and take notice. Her keen eye for detail, while keeping her silhouettes and color palettes basic is remarkable.

She’s already shown her line at the highly lauded Brooklyn Fashion Week(end) in New York City.

At the rate she’s going, her elegant designs will surely grace the bodies of some of our favorite BG celebrities as they grace red carpet events around the world. Look out because here she comes!

BGG: When did you start the Vaccianna Collection?

JV: My first season was fall 2007 and the collection was debuted in Brooklyn Fashion Weekend show in March of this year. That was the beginning of the Vaccianna Collection.

BGG: Where are you from?
JV: I am a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn. I grew up in Canarsie, but lived in almost every borough. There’s no place in the world like Brooklyn, and that is where I live now.

BGG: How old are you if you want to disclose your age?
JV: My birthday was in October, and I actually forgot how old I was going to be this year, so … that’s how old I am; I’m at the age of forgetfulness (laugh).

BGG: Did you go to design school? If so, where?
JV: I am always asked this question and the answer is yes I did go to school for Fashion Design. However, I have a tendency to skip that question because I believe some designers are taught to become designers and then there are the rare few that are born designers … it’s innate.

BGG: Describe your collection.
JV: Sophisticated funk, Romantic rock and roll … these are the words I use to describe the Vaccianna Collection. The collection lends to the look of today’s trends but has many classic elements in the design.

BGG: What materials do you like to use the most? Why?
JV: I have a great affinity towards denim. I think denim has recently honed versatility in fashion that women are not giving up anytime soon. I love to use denim in silhouettes that are usually seen in high-end designs. It thrills me to see a fabric that is used for casual wear transition into couture pieces.

BGG: Describe your customers.
JV: My collection caters to women who are young in age, heart, and spirit. The woman that wears this collection is confident, sexy, and sure that she is a showstopper. The Vaccianna women’s contemporary collection is a beautiful addition to her already existing wardrobe that is fabulous.

BGG: Describe your biggest challenge breaking into the fashion industry.
JV: In one word … Finances. It costs to participate in shows, produce a line, and continue the business consistently. Money matters are always a challenge when getting a break in any industry.

My biggest challenge also was in believing I could do it in the first place. Many people never follow their dream and they live with the “what if” syndrome. I couldn’t live with the “what if “in my life. With that said, in all honesty there are many things that you could come up against in starting a collection in the industry, but isn’t that the same with everything in life … so if you dare to dream it … you might as well do it and don’t give up when you do Brown Girls, don’t give up. Every success story starts and ends with resilience.

BGG: If you could dress one BG celebrity, who would it be? Or if you’ve already dressed her, who is she?
JV: It would be an honor to dress the one and only songstress Sade. She is a Brown Girl (woman) who I would love to see back in the limelight and wearing one of my pieces. She is the epitome of the Vaccianna woman … Beautiful, Sexy, Classy, and Timeless.

BGG: Where can customers buy your clothes?
JV: At this time, anyone interested in the Vaccianna Collection can email me at vaccianna@vaccianna.com to purchase. Although my website is under construction at this time, I have a wonderful myspace page under www.myspace.com/dezinez4u that has both Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 collections. Feel free to contact me.

A Feminine Touch on Oxfords

Because I take all of my BGG readers’ requests, questions, comments, etc. seriously, I’m dedicating this post to loyal BGG reader Yummy411. She inquired last week about the brand of Oxford shoes that were on display under my tights posting. Unfortunately, I was unable to find out the designer for those particular Oxfords, but here are a few others to choose from! Enjoy!

Jessica Simpson “Ramona” Oxford Available at Nordstrom: www.nordstrom.com for $108

MAXSTUDIO ‘Cooper’ Ankle Boot Available at Nordstrom: www.nordstrom.com for $198

Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B Oxford pump Available at www.shoes.com for $410

BCBGirls ‘Tosca’ Oxford Available at Nordstrom: www.nordstrom.com for $109.95

Marc by Marc Jacobs Perforated Boots Available at Saks Fifth Avenue: www.saksfifthavenue.com for $337

Nine West “Naso” bootie Available at www.ninewest.com for $79

Bountiful Beauty Gift Sets

Now that the holiday shopping season has officially started, it’s time to shop ‘til you drop! I love the holiday season because it’s the only time of year where you can find super cute beauty gift sets. Not only do you find unique sets that are only available during the Christmas season, but they’re usually reasonably priced. From hand creams, to eye shadow sets, you’re sure to find the perfect gift for the girly BGs in your life.

Check out some fabulous sets I’ve come across:

Blockbuster Palette available at Sephora: www.sephora.com for $48

Victoria’s Secret Ultra-moisturizing Hand & Body Cream Coffret for $12.50

Fresh Sugar Tart Gift Set available at Sephora: www.sephora.com for $58

L’Occitane Hand’s Best Friend Hand Cream Trio available at Sephora: www.sephora.com for $25

Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B fragrance available at Sephora: www.sephora.com for $55

Available at Victoria’s Secret: www.victoriasecret.com for $12.50

My Favorite Things!

In the true fashion of the charitable media mogul herself, Oprah Winfrey, I’m listing my favorite things like she does on her annual “Favorite Things” show, which airs today. The only difference is that I can’t share them with each of you! Enjoy!

Super girly and chic makeup bags from Sephora: www.sephora.com for $18

She’s a great singer and songwriter. Ms. Keys’ CDs never disappoint! Check www.amazon.com

My Giiiirlfriends…there through thick and thin!! Girlfriends Second Season DVD Available on www.amazon.com for $30

What BG doesn’t love a classic pair of gold hoops? These are from Macy’s: www.macys.com for: $165

A friend gave one of these to me and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s less stickier than the M-A-C one. Bobbi Brown, Crystal Lip Gloss. www.bobbibrown.com $16

I LOVE taking photos, I don’t know what I’d do without my camera! Kodak Easy Share Vseries: $199.99

I’m a true Chicagoan…Garrett popcorn is a must!