3 Reasons to Love the Disney Wonder Cruise

Last month my family and I went on our first Disney cruise and I can’t stop thinking about our wonderful experience. We sailed on the newly renovated Wonder, which is an absolutely stunning ship and one of Disney’s four vessels in their cruise line fleet.

For three nights and four days, we sailed from Orlando to the breathtakingly beautiful Bahamas and docked at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. I’m still daydreaming about endless eats and turquoise sea. Our cruise was truly a trip of a lifetime. Even though we went as part of Disney’s Social Media Moms Celebration, the average cruiser would also be blown away by the amenities, activities and outstanding dining options.

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Incredible Eats

Who doesn’t love good food? Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, carnivore, or somewhere in between, the food options onboard the Wonder are endless. The ship boasts three fine dining restaurants: Tiana’s Place, Animator’s Palate and Triton’s. The food at each restaurant was top-notch, high-quality cuisine. From southern classic shrimp and grits to scrumptious pastas to delectable desserts, my family enjoyed everything that was served. Plus, for those midday and late night nibbles—Cabanas, a casual dining option on the top deck provided quick bites like chicken fingers, French fries and tacos. Oh and did I mention 24-hour room service? We ordered from the extensive menu each night, including warm, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. The outstanding service and delicious food exceeded our expectations every time.

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Southern classic, shrimp and grits served at Tiana’s Place.

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MJ eating breakfast at Cabana’s.

Grilled Garlic-marinated shrimp served at Animator's Palate.

Grilled Garlic-Marinated shrimp served at Animator’s Palate.

My daughter, Ava, is allergic to eggs so the chef at Triton's served this special egg-free ice cream sundae to her delight.

My daughter, Ava, is allergic to eggs so the chef at Triton’s served this special egg-free ice cream sundae to her delight.

Kid’s Club fit Kings & Queens 

If you have a child over the age of three, the Oceaneer Club will be their favorite hangout. Admittedly, I didn’t think that we’d use this drop-off service during our time aboard the Wonder, but boy was I wrong! Like many paranoid parents, I was hesitant to leave my toddler and 7-year-old in a giant playroom in the middle of the ocean without us around. The impeccable security put all of my fears to rest. Plus, the staff was incredibly personable, friendly and patient—all of the things you need to be when dealing with children. The space was truly a child’s dream: interactive games, arts &crafts, food, movies, slides, iPads, character appearances and more. I literally had to bribe my kids to leave because it was that much fun!

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High-Caliber Productions

We live in New York City, home of the Great White Way. So we’ve been to a couple of Broadway shows, but let me tell you, they aren’t cheap. For a family of four, ticket prices can soar upwards of $800 for a popular musical. That’s why we were so impressed by the shows performed onboard each night. They were comparable to multi-million dollar productions that keep theatergoers coming back to Broadway time after time. During our cruise, we were lucky to see “Golden Mickey’s,” “Dreams” and last but definitely not least, “Frozen.” Each of the shows displayed high-energy performances, awesome storylines, and amazing sets & costumes.

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If you’re Wonder-ing if you should take a Disney cruise, the answer is “yes!” The memories you’ll make with your family will be priceless. We’re already planning our next cruise. Maybe we’ll see you real soon too!

Have you ever sailed aboard a Disney cruise? If so, what was your experience? If not, do you have plans on taking one?

Movie Review: ‘Boss Baby’ Will Deliver a Bundle of Laughs

If you’re a mom, chances are you’ve often wondered if your beautiful newborn baby was in fact your boss. From their big demands to always being on-call, it’s hard not to imagine your tiny infant calling the shots in your life.

For many parents, that notion never really goes away. That’s why I couldn’t wait to check out Dreamworks’ new animated movie, “The Boss Baby.” But, I was in for a few surprises. The movie, which was adapted from the popular 2010 book of the same title, touched on babies being the bosses of us helpless parents, but the film’s main focus was how a new baby’s arrival impacts families, especially young siblings.

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Told through the eyes of an imaginative 7-year-old boy named Tim, the story unfolds with the classic sibling rivalry tale. With hilarious hijinks throughout, Tim soon finds out that his new baby brother isn’t what he seems to be.

Voiced by Alec Baldwin, the Baby Boss is an adorable suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying infant who is really an undercover spy in a baby’s body. In order to complete his mission, he’ll need Tim’s help and his big brother is more than willing to lend a hand—for his own gain.

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The film is full of funny bits that both of my kids enjoyed. Unlike the brothers, my children have never displayed any signs of sibling rivalry. In fact, their super close relationship is something I’m the most proud of as a mother. Despite not witnessing any sibling rivalry in my home, I know that many parents will totally relate to the characters’ somewhat rocky, yet endearing relationship.

If you’re looking for a hilarious, yet endearing animated movie that the entire family will enjoy, “The Baby Boss” is a sure bet.

It arrives in theaters March 31st.

Check out the trailer here:

Special thanks to The Moms Network for hosting the private screening and treating us mom bloggers with yummy Subway sandwiches after the film. 

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If you’re a mom of two or more, did your children ever experience  any sibling rivalry?

3 Reasons Why You Need to Add Micellar Water to Your Skincare Routine

If you’re unfamiliar with micellar water, you’re not alone. I’ve found that outside of my fellow beauty editors and bloggers, not many women are familiar with the French toiletry staple.

I remember trying it a few years ago, but it didn’t make its way into my skincare routine—until now. This time I picked up a different brand, Garnier® SKINACTIVE™ Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Makeup Remover & Cleanser. The look and feel of the bottle just screamed purity. I don’t know about you, but there’s something incredibly satisfying and promising about a product that’s completely clear and has the word “water” in its name—I was sold.

After using it daily for a couple of weeks, I noticed that my skin looked clearer, not as oily and was virtually blemish free. I’m now convinced that this “miracle” water is responsible for my newfound fresh-faced look.

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Garnier® SKINACTIVE™ Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Makeup Remover & Cleanser available here, $6.99.

Here are three reasons why you need to make space for this product on your bathroom shelf or toiletry bag.

  1. Easily removes makeup in a single swipe. I’m a huge fan of makeup removing wipes, but most dry out my skin or irritate my eyes. Simply squirt a little micellar water on a cotton pad or ball and viola, stubborn mascara and makeup dissolves and disappears effortlessly.
  2. Works well for oily skin. Since I have super oily skin and am prone to breakouts, I’m always worried that certain formulas will clog my pores. This gentle cleanser purifies my pores and provides a bit of moisture without making it greasy.
  3. Cleanses without overly drying. Even though I have oily skin, sometimes cleansers can strip my skin of its natural oils leaving it tight, which irritates my skin leading to breakouts.

BONUS: It also serves as an awesome makeup brush cleanser!

If you’re looking for a simple cleanser that can remove makeup (even waterproof), won’t clog pores and cleanse without irritation, give micellar water a try!

Have you ever used micellar water? If so, what’s been your experience?

IT Cosmetics’ New Serum Foundation Puts Your Best Face Forward

When it comes to foundation, I’m not the biggest fan. Sure, I have my fair share of blemishes that need to be masked, but concealer has always been my coverage of choice.

That all changed when IT Cosmetics launched its new Confidence in a Compact last month. See, I’ve been obsessed with the brand’s Confidence in a Jar moisturizer for a while now. So, when I heard that they were formulating a foundation that was infused with the moisturizing serum, I had to give it a try.

I’m always stressing the importance of packaging and the vital role it plays in winning me over. Well, IT Cosmetics always delivers in that department. The chic, luxe compact is impeccably designed in a shiny silver case that conveniently holds the makeup sponge on top of the foundation. Plus, unlike most foundations, you don’t have to worry about messy drips or spills because of its sold-to-serum formula.

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Confidence in a Compact™ with SPF 50+ available here, $38 (sold separately).

The scent was the second thing I noticed, it had that same fresh lemony fragrance that I loved from the moisturizer. One of the reasons why I never got into foundations was because of the heavy, cake-y, overly made up look it typically creates, but this one goes on so translucently that it’s like a second skin. The virtually weightless, anti-aging formula can be applied with the accompanying sponge or brush for full coverage. Since I’m still not big on full-face makeup, I do like to blend it with my concealer using my fingertips.

Oh and it keeps skin hydrated without making it greasy or overly shiny (I have super oily skin so I swear by mattifying primers). Available in seven complementary shades, there are four that cater specifically to melanin-rich skin.

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If you’re looking for a convenient foundation to even out your skin tone, definitely get with it – get it? “It” as in IT Cosmetics!

Do you wear foundation on a daily basis or simply for special occasions?

‘Moonlight’ Shines on Hollywood’s Biggest Night

Last night’s 89th Annual Academy Awards was one to remember. From the city tour bus passengers unsuspectingly being thrust into the spotlight during one of TV’s most widely broadcast programs to the biggest snafu in the Academy’s nearly century-long history, for me this was one of the most entertaining Oscars in recent years.

Plus, it properly celebrated the cinematic masterpiece, “Moonlight.” Directed by Barry Jenkins, the film beautifully tells the typically unspoken story about a young African-American boy struggling with his sexuality. The film brilliantly highlights three poignant life phases of the lead character, Chiron, with sensitivity and vulnerability, which isn’t often portrayed on the big screen or told through the eyes of urban African-American males.

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The film took home three big awards of the night including, “Best Original Screenplay,” “Best Supporting Actor” (Mahershala Ali) and last but certainly not least, “Best Picture.” Despite the major mistake of Warren Beatty naming “La La Land,” as the night’s top winner, “Moonlight” still shined.

Watch ‘Moonlight’s’ trailer here:

Did you watch the Oscars? What was your favorite part? Did you see “Moonlight?” If so, what are your thoughts?

Product Review: Dark and Lovely’s Au Naturale Anti-Shrinkage Clumping Curl Crème Gel

There’s a lot of trial and error that comes with finding the right hair care products that work for both my daughter and me. We have two different curl patterns and usually what works well for her, doesn’t work for me. While she has fine, looser, easily tangled curls, I have denser, zig-zag coils and kinks that require tons of moisture.

Well, to my surprise and delight, Dark and Lovely’s Au Naturale new Anti-Shrinkage Clumping Curl Crème Gel is a godsend for both of our hair types. Formulated with two of my favorite hair care ingredients: argan oil and coconut oil, it provides ultra hydration while instantly eliminating frizz. For my daughter a small dollop defines her curls, creating perfect ringlets. While for me, it elongates and makes my hair easier to style. Also, in case you didn’t know, “clumping” refers to the process of hair strands binding together to create a natural, bigger and better curl.

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Dark and Lovely Au Naturale Anti-Shrinkage Clumping Curl Creme Gel (L) and two of my other faves from the brand: Easy Twist Gel N’ Butter and the Clumping Curl Clay Cleanser.

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In addition, I love that this gel comes in a convenient mess-free tube. I don’t know about you, but packaging can make or break a product—and unlike many crèmes and gels, this one is designed smartly. Plus, did I mention how good it smells? The tropical scent takes me back to my recent trip to the Bahamas.

If your curls needs to be awakened, run don’t walk to your nearest Target or other mass retailer to pick up this product. Trust me, it will breathe new life into your hair.

Have you tried Anti-Shrinkage Clumpling Curl Creme Gel ? If not, what’s your favorite Dark and Lovely product?

The Mane Choice Founder on Growing Her Hair Care Empire

They say necessity is the mother of all creations. For Courtney Adeleye, The Mane Choice founder and CEO, that statement rings true.

Unable to find adequate products to meet her hair care needs, the Alabama-based entrepreneur took matters into her own hands—literally— and concocted various products to treat and care for her hair. Through sharing the results of her homemade mixtures, Adeleye’s videos attracted a large following and gained the trust of countless viewers.

In less than four years, The Mane Choice, which offers a wide variety of multi-cultural hair care and bath and body products is sold in several major retailers including Target, Sally Beauty, CVS and most recently Walmart. In fact, the brand made history by being the first hair vitamin to be featured in the hair aisle (they’re usually reserved for the vitamin aisle). In 2016, the company garnered over 6.5 million dollars in sales, making Adeleye a self-made multi-millionaire seemingly overnight. But we all know that it takes a lot of hard work, determination and business skills to make it to this level.

Earlier this month, I caught up with the nurse-turned-entrepreneur to talk about her rise through the hair care ranks, advice for entrepreneurs and more.

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CEO/Founder of The Mane Choice, Courtney Adeleye

Below, check out our Q&A:

BGG: Describe The Mane Choice customer.
Courtney Adeleye: Here at The Mane Choice, we pride ourselves on providing premium healthy hair care products at an affordable price. Our mission is to create the best solutions for all hair care challenges and total body needs in the beauty space. Like our comprehensive approach to hair and body care, our consumers are very knowledgeable about products and look for items that can remedy multiple hair care concerns. We are just happy to be their main choice for a solution.

BGG: Was working in the beauty/haircare industry a lifelong goal? 
CA: No, I didn’t have an interest in working  in the beauty industry. My background is in science–nursing, specifically. As a YouTube personality, I created a video showcasing my length and shared my deep conditioner recipe, which was partially responsible for my length. I received SO MANY responses and feedback suggesting that I sell my deep conditioner. I had no intentions of doing that, but long story short, I eventually did. One order became two, three, and so on…

BGG:  Did you take any supplementary business courses as a result of pursuing entrepreneurship?
CA: No, I did not formally take any business courses. However, I did my homework on the industry and took what I learned from my nursing background to get to where I am today.

BGG: Did you have mentors in the business prior to launching The Mane Choice? If so, how has their mentorship impacted your business?
CA: Other than past experiences, working closely to the owner/CEO at my former jobs and studying how other business owners conducted business, I didn’t have any mentors prior to launching mine. In my experience, my faith and family were two of the biggest impactors on my business. I have been blessed with a powerful support system and a committed team at The Mane Choice. It becomes easier when people support and buy into your vision. I am especially thankful.

BGG: What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner?
CA: I strive to commit to having a positive outlook on life and my company, and focus all of my energy on new ways to best serve The Mane Choice customers. However, doubt from others, not myself, can often try to negatively impact how you view your success and what you’re striving towards.

BGG: What advice would you give a fellow entrepreneur who suffers from self-doubt?  
CA: If there is someone who feels doubted, I would tell them to be so good that they can’t ignore you! I think it’s especially important to focus on and hone your strengths and abilities. Always strive to be the best, the hardest working, and the most knowledgeable. It’s hard to ignore value. I would also remind he or she that in times where there isn’t a way that there is always the option to make one. I think the evidence of this is shown through the multitude of girl [and men] bosses around the world.

BGG:What advice do you have for women, particularly women of color, who want to pursue a career in the beauty/haircare industry? 
CA: My advice would be to strive to be the best at what you do. Do your research and make sure the presentation is just as great, or better than the product or service that you offer.

BGG: Is there any significance behind “purple” being incorporated into your brand or is it simply just a design choice?
CA: We chose purple because it is a regal/royal color. Royalty is what our brand embodies. Royalty depicts the consumers we represent.

BGG: What’s the single most important thing a woman can do to promote healthy hair growth?CA: Consistency is key. Developing a healthy hair growth regimen is paramount to a successful hair growth journey. Using quality products made with quality ingredients, such as The Mane Choice, and adopting great hair care practices will get you to your goals in no time!

BGG: Outside of the hair vitamin, what’s your most popular product? Why do you think it’s a top seller?
CA: Our 3-in-1 is next in line. There’s no other product on the market like it. It’s co-wash and detangler that you can leave-in. Talk about a game changer!

BGG: What makes the Mane Choice different from similar products on the market?
CA: As many may or may not know, my husband is a physician and I am a registered nurse. Together, our backgrounds in science have helped us to formulate our products based on extensive research, for all hair types and textures by infusing each product with vitamins, Biotin, and nutrients. We have successfully developed a comprehensive array of products that can cater to a multi-cultural demographic.

BGG: Describe the most rewarding aspect of your career thus far.
CA: The most rewarding aspect of my career and leader of my company is knowing that The Mane Choice has made such and impact in the lives of others! That impact has created such a demand for our products that we’re now in over 16,000 stores.

BGG: What’s next for The Mane Choice?
CA: You’ll just have to stay tuned. Trust me!

Have you ever used The Mane Choice? If so, what is your favorite product(s) and why?