Remembering Malcolm

I work at the hospital where Malcolm X was taken after he was shot. The old Audubon Ballroom is now the The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center and we often hold events there. The first time I stepped inside, I was overwhelmed by the fact that this is where he spoke and where his life ended. There is a life-sized bronze statue of him at the base of the staircase leading upstairs to the old ballroom. As I climbed the stairs I felt my steps slowing, thinking of the crowds tumbling down the stairs that day. Some were chasing the alleged gunmen. Some were escaping the scene. Some were stumbling in disbelief that their beloved leader had been shot down.

The open space on the second floor has a wall of large windows overlooking Broadway. Another wall holds a beautiful mural depicting scenes of Malcolm’s life. All through the building are photographs and kiosks playing videos of his speeches. You are surrounded by history. In the ballroom there is a very large poster photograph of Dr. Betty Shabazz. Rumor has it that the poster sits on the spot where he was killed. Others say the statue on the first floor marks the spot. (I would figure the second floor location is more accurate). Regardless of the precise location, one can feel the presence of greatness. I was so overwhelmed I had a hard time concentrating on the first thirty minutes of the event!

Even when I pass by the Center, I take a moment to soak in the history. I take a moment to remember El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

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Commencement Day

Today I “graduate” from the 31WriteNow Challenge! And just as an educational commencement exercise symbolizes the end of academic pursuit, but the beginning of a new chapter, so does today represent both an end and a new beginning.

After two straight months of daily challenges, first with July’s AudioMo daily audio challenge in July, and then August’s 31WriteNow Challenge, I am pleased to make the following announcement:

Introducing my new blog, my new baby – Liner Notes Lounge ( The Lounge, is a place where music is explored and celebrated. Look for music spotlights, and more audio conversations with independent artists. I have decided to splinter off the Music Notes section of This and That With Calandra and create a site dedicated solely to music, one of my many passions.

So please go check it out. Here’s what you’ll find on the menu:

Liner Notes – general articles related to all genres of music

Mic One: Calandra Speaks – music-related podcasts

Mic Two: Artist Conversations – interviews with various independent artists

The Listening Suite – a regular review of the music I’m currently listening to

The Lyrics Spot – interpretations of some of my favorite lyrics

So, “…grab your favorite music, have a seat on the floor, get comfy and let’s go…” Welcome to the Lounge!

This and That This Week: Pampered Joy

529403_560659263965296_23743744_nFelicia Thomas is a Brooklyn, New York-based makeup artist with a passion for beauty. Her company, Pampered Joy,, specializes in “naturally handmade body products to rejuvenate and replenish your skin.”

Her products include handmade whipped body and hair butters, foot and body sugar srubs, body massage oils and bath salts in a variety of exotic scents, such as Lavender with Lemongrass, Fresh Mango, Peppermint with Eucalyptus, Coconut Litsea and Vanilla with Sandalwood and Frankincense. Pictured below are her whipped body butter and sugar scrub.

Whipped Body Butter, Body Sugar Scrub

Whipped Body Butter, Body Sugar Scrub

I finally got to purchase two of her products, the Whipped Shea Butter and Body Sugar Scrub, both in Coconut Lavender. I have used whipped shea butter in the past, but never of this kind of consistency. Imagine a product just slightly denser than whipped cream, and a tad lighter than fluffy cake frosting. This body butter is MAGIC! The scent is just strong enough without being overpowering, and the consistency is to die for! I use it SPARINGLY – as if it were a pot of gold that I want to keep forever. By the way, her prices are very reasonable; each jar was only $10. The essential oils added to the butter leave a nice sheen that melts onto your skin, leaving a dewy, not greasy glow. And the scent…my my my!!!

I usually use sugar scrubs sparingly, but this one is SO natural, I think it’s just sugar and essential oil! It’s gentle enough to use daily. It does a wonderful job exfoliating the skin, using natural abrasion and leaving your skin feeling smooth and not stripped. Again, the essential oils provide the luscious scent as well as lock in moisture.

As in past product reviews, there is usually something that stands out OTHER than the products themselves. Pampered Joy is often found participating in community programs. Below is a photo of Pampered Joy products on display at a local church event. She recently joined forces with a Brooklyn elementary school teacher who sponsored a day of pampering and trip to the American Girl store in New York City for 27 young girls. (Read about the event here)

PamperedJoyDisplayI wish Felicia much success in her venture. Pampered Joy will continue to grow and thrive as it continues to provide natural products made not just by hand, but with love!

This and That This Week: Cosmetiques Laudun

Laudun photo courtesy of Cosmetiques Laudun

Jeanne Gabriel Laudun is the inspiration behind Cosmetiques Laudun, a skincare company which offers a line of environmentally friendly and all natural products. According to the company website (, “Laudun products pamper the skin with ingredients found in the common garden.” Jeanne Gabriel Laudun’s granddaughter, Anna Laudun Beauboeuf, is President and CEO of Cosmetiques Laudun and built the company based on her grandmother’s treasured skincare recipes. Although there are many natural skincare companies out there, this is what drew my interest in Cosmetiques Laudun. I have had the opportunity to communicate with the company’s Vice President and Jeanne Gabriel Laudun’s grand-niece, Sandra Gabriel, who explained to me that her great-aunt used ingredients from the garden to make her own beauty products in her kitchen. Her picture is on the company’s website and she was a beautiful woman. Obviously, her products worked well!

The website also states that “The Laudun philosophy is based on respect for nature, health and protection of the environment.” None of their products are tested on animals, and all of their botanical ingredients are natural and certified Organic.


USDA Bio Facial Moisturizer/Anti-aging, $64

I was able to try their USDA Bio Facial Moisturuizer (left), which like most of their products, is fragrance-free and feels moisture-rich and nourishing to the skin. According to the site, “MITSY Day & Night Anti-Ageing Moisturizer is a USDA Certified Bio silky moisturizing skin crème that glides over the skin without the feeling of heaviness. MITSY is formulated with 100% pure grapeseed oil, rich in antioxidants, ideal oil to use on your facial skin.”


Argile Cleanser Facial Mask, $20

I also tried the Argile Cleanser Facial Mask (right), which is made of French green clay. I don’t usually use clay masks, but I have to say that this mask did a wonderful job tightening my skin and pores, without leaving my skin feeling dry, as many masks often do. The product description notes, “This is an amazing substance that has been used throughout history for its ability to detoxify and purify the skin, making it a fabulous hydrating mask that effectively tightens and absorbs toxins.”

Aside from the actual products, I love the spirit of this company. President Beauboeuf states, “My grandmother, Jeanne, has blessed me with extensive knowledge on natural skincare recipes, and, with gratitude and joy, I am happy to share them with you.”

Visit them at

Life Without Regrets

no regrets

no regrets (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Regrets, I’ve had a few 
But then again, too few to mention 
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption 
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway 
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

So sang Frank Sinatra in his signature song “My Way.” This was one of my father’s favorite songs, by one of his (and my) favorite singers. And I’d like to believe that these are the lines that defined how Daddy lived. This past Sunday marked seven years since my father passed away and I spent much of the day remembering many of the lessons he taught my sister and me. One of those lessons was to live without regrets. Because of Daddy’s examples, I decided many years ago that I would do my best to not live life with any regrets.

Living without regrets involves making good decisions and sticking to them. Do we always make good decisions? No. Do poor decisions lead to negative consequences that make us wish we had made a better decision in the first place? Yes. Well, isn’t that regret? Yes. However, in my opinion, living without regret is not about never making a mistake. It’s about correcting our mistakes so that we don’t have to be burdened with regrets. Some people are paralyzed with regrets and fail to move on.

None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes, poor choices, and bad decisions. But there’s no need to LIVE with regrets. Let your regrets be temporary and take corrective action to free yourself from living in past missteps and mistakes.

Thanks Daddy!

This and That This Week: Subscription Box Services

Motives Palette

Have you ever signed up for a subscription box service? Basically they are monthly subscriptions for boxes filled with samples, and sometimes full-sized products. Subscriptions range from clothing to jewelry and accessories to makeup and haircare products. It’s a great service if you are looking to try-before-you-buy products. Last year, I subscribed to a new service that specialized in natural haircare products. For $20 each month, I received a nice box of at least 6 samples and 1-2 full-sized products. It was a great way to experience different hair products, without become a product junkie, buying full-sized products and being disappointed after their first use. I currently subscribe to Ipsy, where for $10 a month, I receive a nice little cosmetics bag filled with 5 or 6 makeup goodies. Many of these services include coupons for the products, and some even have their own online stores where you can purchase the products as well.

There are tons of subscription services, with monthly fees ranging from $10 to $60 or more. is a nice resource filled with user reviews of various services. I also found a nice blog with first-hand reviews, Must Have Boxes ( Some services allow you to choose brands that you like, as they are trying to profile their customers to help build future box selections. The hair product service I used (Curlkit) often features new companies, which I think is cool, as I often like to support independent companies.

Be careful when choosing a subscription box service. Choose one that allows you to cancel at any time, so make sure you check their cancellation policy before signing up. There should not be any mandatory commitments. At most, you may have to pay for the next month’s box, depending on the timing of their billing cycle. If after a few months, you find that you are only interested in one or two selections from each box, then I would consider cancelling. What to do with the unused products? Give them away to your friends, or if you are a YouTuber or blogger, save a bunch of them for a contest prize box. It’s not that the products are not good, they just might not be your color, style, etc.

Tell us your experience with subscription boxes!

I’m Not Great at Networking, But…

With fellow Social Media panelist, Nicole McGarrell, owner of Sunny Day Marketing.

On Thursday, October 25, 2012, an amazing group of women and men assembled at the BNY Mellon Building in Lower Manhattan to attend the 10th Annual Women’s Business Leadership Conference, sponsored by the Women’s Business Committee of the National Minority Business Council. The theme for the day was Reflect, Rekindle, Refocus, Resolve, and featured Vera Moore, President & CEO of Vera Moore Cosmetics, as keynote speaker.

A few months ago, I was asked to become part of the conference planning committee, as well as one of the social media panelists. I had a great time meeting new people and feeling the energy in a room full of entrepreneurs. I surveyed the land and saw eager faces, picking up new ideas, especially from Laurana Edwards, author of My Business Plan Book: New Venture Starter Kit. Even those who were already in business for themselves were able to benefit from Ms. Edwards’ wisdom.

Social Media: The Alternative Marketing Strategy is the panel I served on, along with 3 other women who are involved in social media education and social media marketing. I felt a little bit like a fish out of water, considering my social media “work” is strictly personal and I spend very little time actually promoting my side business. However, I was able to introduce the concept of blogging and how I became interested in it. As I prepared for the panel discussion, I realized how many nice people I have met, and cool opportunities have come my way since my brief three years in social media world, especially in the last two years since I started this blog. And for you, my This and That With Calandra family, I think I represented TTWC well!

Crowdfunding: Is it Right for Your Business? featured a panel of individuals who were owners of crowdfunding sites as well as actual business owners who ran successful crowdfunding campaigns. Personally, I have supported a few Kickstarter projects and I think it’s a great resource. The sites represented at the Conference were Lucky Ant and RocketHub.

Duane Reade LOOK Boutique location, courtesy of Vera Moore Cosmetics

But for me, the highlight of my day was meeting Vera Moore! She is an absolutely beautiful, charming and witty woman whom I have come to admire for her years of dedication to the cosmetics industry, as well as her business acumen. She recently completed a deal with Duane Reade/Walgreens, and her cosmetics line is being featured in selected stores’ LOOK Boutiques. What I loved most about meeting her is that despite all that she has accomplished in over 40 years in business, she has such a humble spirit about her. She is so encouraging of others and their business aspirations. She said to me, as she said to many others who were in attendance, “We need to stay in touch! Don’t forget now!” She understands the true value of networking.

The day was a great experience and I look forward to continuing my work with the Women’s Business Committee. I have to give a special shout out to Dawn Henning, who introduced me to the WBC and invited me to participate. I’m happy to say that she is a regular subscriber to This and That With Calandra AND we actually met through Facebook connections! Now how’s THAT for social media networking! 🙂