“When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I say is ‘Thank you for waking me up this morning.’ Then I look in the mirror and say, ‘You are beautiful!’ The third thing I say is, ‘I am going to have a fantastic day!’”

This is why I love Andre J, better known to Crunk & Disorderly readers as Gaymonn. I absolutely admire his unflappable joie de vivre. And I love the photos on NY Photo Forum.

Beauty blog superstar Tia Williams recently released her latest book, Sixteen Candles! Tia is truly an inspiration to me (and so many other beauty bloggers out there) — not only is she blazing trails with fun, clever young adult literature, but she co-wrote one of my bona fide go-to beauty bibles, Iman’s The Beauty of Color. If you’ve got a young adult in your life, click here to pick up some summer reading material for them.

And speaking of fabulous beauty bloggers… congratulations to the wonderful All About The Pretty, for winning Total Beauty’s Best Beauty Reporting Award! I love her blog.

Racialicious is one of my favorite blogs out there, and they’ve been doing amazing stuff of late. Now they’ve been collaborating with one of my favorite fashion blogs, Make Fetch Happen. Both blogs are really excellently written, thoughtful, and smart. I learn so much from Latoya, Carmen, and Brigitte.

Click here to read their take on Liya Kebede’s latest “exotic” Vogue fashion shoot, and click here to see a complete slide show of images.

Some of the political posts were getting to be too much for me, bellas — you already know where I’m coming from and where I hope this country’s going. I’ve been sitting back and learning a lot recently — people can be quick to insult you and dismiss your ideas when you’re not saying what they want you to say. Then all of a sudden, it’s “you’re a beauty blogger, stick to what you know.” I don’t ever plan to stick to one range of topics, but I’ve been biting my tongue of late, observing the news closely and just waiting for history to unfold. But Ryan Barrett has been speaking her mind, and I like what she’s saying. Also, LOOK at that crowd. That speaks volumes, if you ask me.

Are you looking for style inspiration? I love this chick’s understated swag — short fro, big sunglasses, sassy layered scarf. Effortlessly chic and nonchalant about it. She was spotted by Styleaholic Najwa Moses for AOL’s Black Voices blogs. I love the idea of just photographing all of the inspiring afrobellas you see on a day out. I’m gonna try to do just that this weekend. It’s our anniversary, and it’s Memorial Day weekend in Miami. So of course, being a Caribbean bella and a big reggae fanatic, we’re going to Best of the Best!

For dancehall reggae fans, the lineup is sick — Supercat, Barrington Levy, Sizzla, Buju Banton, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Machel Montano, Mavado, and Tarrus Riley — who I really am starting to like, BTW. His lyrics are uplifting. I love Lion Paw, and today I dedicate his video for She’s Royal to each and every natural beauty reading this right now. Because you’re a queen.

Isn’t that sweet?

My fingers are crossed that the concert stays positive and uplifting throughout. I’ll give a full report next week. For now I just want to say thank YOU, bellas!

The comments on the Creme of Nature giveaway glitch post were so absolutely amazing. I’ve learned so much about what you’re using, what you want to use, what you like about my site, and what you want to see more of. And I learned about some amazing-sounding new products and companies — Sizta2Sizta, Wen , Giovanni’s Direct and She Scent It. I’ll be checking all of those out for sure. And some of you predicted posts and reviews I’m working on, so keep reading… I’ve got some GREAT upcoming giveaway ideas now!

Without further ado, here are the Creme of Nature giveaway winners!

1 – Shones
2 – Cynthia
3 – Dora
4 – classy and natural
5 – Melanese
6 – Marsha
7 – SoFrolushes
8 – tycajam
9 – Diva (in Demand)
10 – Aisha Kelson
11 – Nemesis
12 -Chocopina
13 – Amber M.
14 – joyous
15 -Legz02
16 – Mara
17 – cheeky
18 – KamikaK
19 – Mezzo_Soprano
20 – Shan Shan
21 – VirtuousBlue
22 – auragirl
23 – Styleis20/20
24 – Nicole
25 – PhDiva

Congratulations to you all, and please look out for my e mail — if you see this first, e mail me at bella@afrobella.com with your real name and mailing address.

I sincerely wish I could give a special hair care package to each and every one of you, but for now all I can do is pick 25 readers. (I am working on an additional Creme of Nature giveaway in the future, and my new goal is at least one giveaway a month, so hang in there if you didn’t win this time around).

It’s Memorial Day weekend, a time to bond with friends and family, a day to celebrate the legacies of those who have fought and died for this country. Stereohyped did a beautiful little photographic tribute to the most oft-overlooked soldiers, the ones who normally aren’t depicted in war movies.

Happy long weekend, bellas!

** edited on Monday — whoops! I chose the name Cynthia twice… so I chose another random winner. ShanShan, come on down…

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nyc/caribbean ragazza says:
May 23, 2008, 11:35 am
I am a huge Andre J fan as well. That French Vogue cover was amazing. Speaking about Vogue, the infamous all black issue of Italian Vogue is going to drop soon. As you know the recently held elections here in Italy veered to the right. The Lega Nord (popular in Northern Italy) is very anti-immigration and some folks think they are racists. They of course say they are not. Anyway the editor of Italian Vogue was asked if she was worried about the reactions of people who support the Lega Nord might have to the issue and she said "That's their problem not mine." re: shampoo, do any bellas with natural hair use Kerastese (sp) shampoo/conditioners? Are they worth the price? I haven't been able to find the brands I usually use here in Rome. I know many swear by the hair masks. Thanks.
Mrs.Mckinzie says:
May 23, 2008, 12:29 pm
This is a fantastic post Bella.Congrats to all of the winners,and to the Mr.&Mrs. on there anniversary.That really is a best of the best concert,and I hope you all enjoy yourselves.
Viva-LaFro says:
May 23, 2008, 1:00 pm
Bella- PLEASE don't bite your tongue...especially on your own daggone blog. I think you are a smart, informed writer with a sharp eye and a gift for writing. Don't let the negativity change your game. Know that the VAST MAJORITY of your readers love and appreciate every little thing you do on this blog!
Mezzo_Soprano says:
May 23, 2008, 1:44 pm
I absolutely LOVE your blog. Please keep doing what you are doing. Congratulations on your anniversary!!
Coffy says:
May 23, 2008, 2:49 pm
that was a jam packed post Bella, thank you for including Andre J. i want just a touch of whatever he he has, i can only imagine how much better my life would be if i was oblivious to public opinion. Congratulations to the Creme of Nature winners, i can't wait to hear their reviews of the products.
Melissa says:
May 23, 2008, 3:33 pm
Happy Anniversary Bella! Yo, my cosin is flying up from JA to see the Best of the Best show, it's gonna be RAM! Wish me and the hubby could be there but alas....the ecomomy! HAve fun, tkae picks and I can't wait to hear about it! Love your blog!!!!
BlackHoney says:
May 23, 2008, 5:44 pm
Your blog is still one of my favorites. In reference to your comment regarding the Natural sister and her effortless casual style, might I recommend The Sartorialist (thesartorialist.blogspot.com). This site includes portraits of everyday people looking fabulous while expressing their individual style.
Chic Noir says:
May 23, 2008, 6:23 pm
I love I mean Love Liya Kabede and the spread for Vogue was tastefull. I hope she is featured in the upcoming Italien Vogue.
bella says:
May 23, 2008, 6:50 pm
Hello, bellas! I wanted to add that Viva La-Fro, I'm definitely not going to stop speaking my mind, this is the house that Bella built after all, LOL ... but I'm just waiting for the news to take place (and to watch how it's being covered), before I jump back into the fray. Have any of you read this yet? http://www.nypost.com/seven/05232008/news/nationalnews/why_hill_wont_drop_out__bobby_kennedy_wa_112232.htm
Sabrina97 says:
May 23, 2008, 7:43 pm
Hey Afrobella! I always appreciate the "Worth A Click" posts. I'm trying to step my blog lurking game up, so finding out about new interesting blogs is always fun! I'm still trying to win a giveaway.... foiled again! Thank you for your blog....
nyc/caribbean ragazza says:
May 24, 2008, 2:38 am
yes bella. I did. Check out the field negro's response. I hope this really convinces people once and for all what she is doing. This is the second time she has mentioned assassination and Barack's together. It's Memorial weekend so I don't know if the usual Sunday News show are on. If so I hope they cover this. It's also tasteless considering Ted Kennedy just found out this week he is DYING of a brain tumor.
Bebroma says:
May 24, 2008, 3:08 am
Happy Anniversary! I've always thought May is a lovely month for weddings.
AmiJane says:
May 24, 2008, 10:32 am
AmiJane says:
May 24, 2008, 10:33 am
tycajam says:
May 24, 2008, 11:18 am
Yay!! Thank you Bella!! my weekend was already shaping up quite nicely and this is some added goodness. My own-way kinks can't wait. That pic of that gorgeous lady is so how my hair shapes up - high in the front and lower to the sides and back. It inspires me to rock it out this weekend instead of the tie back I favor. Also much thanks for the intro to Tarrus Riley. I love that video - truly sweet and I will check this brother out properly. I wish you and hubby dearest a wonderful/memorable anniversary weekend. Bless Up Yourselves at Best of the Best!!!! Yay!
Cynthia says:
May 24, 2008, 11:46 am
Happy anniversary, bella! I always find your blog such a wonderful read! The comments you receive are often so well written and thoughtful as well. I love it! I hope that I am actually one of the Cynthias that won! Thank you again for your wonderful, inspirational and thought provoking blog!
Nemesis says:
May 24, 2008, 8:49 pm
Happy Anniversary! And you keep doing what you are doing..WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!
Chocopina says:
May 25, 2008, 11:53 am
I was watching Inside Edition the other day and there was a shot of SJP at one of the Sex in the City premieres and next to her in the background was none other than Andre J! I had to rewind my tivo to make sure i wasn't seeing things!
Lima says:
May 25, 2008, 2:11 pm
Happy Anniversary! Thanks for the pic of the "Everyday Bella"! I did the big chop in Dec & am rocking a twa. I love the ease of it, but there are many days when my confidence isn't up to par. Seeing that you & others like her style gives me a little boost today. My wardrobe leaves a lot to be desired--hey, I am a stay-at-home mother in Central Florida, so it's nonstope shorts & flip flops!--but it's good to know that at least my hair is possibly inspiring to someone!
mk says:
May 25, 2008, 8:47 pm
That sounds like a sick concert..I'm a fan of Tarrus too. Everyone seems to be heading down to Miami...one day when work isn't taking over my life, I'll make it down. Have fun! And I absolutely love Andre...he is too fly...
SoFrolushes says:
May 26, 2008, 7:09 am
Now this is a nice way to start a bank holiday weekend. wow i am still in awe. Seeing my name in that list just brought a smile to my face Remember when you posted about one of your readers who was not sure what to do with her hair. I am feeling the same. But I will stick with it a bit longer in the hope I can find an adult style as opposed to those styles that make me look child like. The beauty of your site for me is that, although you are pro-natural you do not come across as one of those who cast their eyes down on those who do not wear natural hair. Its a maturity thing and its beautiful Bless
J. Diva says:
May 26, 2008, 4:57 pm
Beautiful song!!! Speaking of beautiful, Liya Kebede's photos were very nice. However, I do have to agree with the blogger's opinion on which the (slideshow photos were located), it really is sickening to see Vogue put brown skin beauties in stereotypical settings (like in the jungle, or the Sahara)...shows a lack of creativity, if you ask me.
flygyrl72 says:
May 28, 2008, 3:35 am
Yeah, I love that spread with Liya. It's dope. The people there are so beautiful. My fave shot, is the one of Liya with the weathered Timbuktu sign behind her. God, I wanna that sign for my living room wall... Looking forward to the Italian Vogue issue as well, Bella.
jasmine the jigsaw says:
June 3, 2008, 12:48 am
I love your blog so much! I'm 18 and I read Tia Williams' "It Chicks" series - it's very cute and fun and I just picked up Sixteen Candles. :) I'm gonna check out those links too. Thanks for everything...keep up the good work!
Aisha Kelson says:
June 11, 2008, 8:18 am
Hey bella, did you ever get my e-mail with my info??