While I typically don't subscribe to the "Sex is great but have you tried…" sayings that seem so popular right through here (because sex is kinda incomparable), I do have a semi-short list of things that are somewhat like mental climaxes to me. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the fall season is one of them. I like the cooler weather. I like the turning leaves. I like layering my clothes. I like hot apple cider and hot chocolate. Two of my favorite men ever (who are both gone now: my late fiancé and father) are both born in October. Weddings during the fall are dope. I personally celebrate Rosh Hashanah and it happens in the fall. I could go on and on. I really could.
Something else that I like about the fall is it's a cool time to do a bit of switching around when it comes to my home décor. Nothing really big or super expensive. Just some touches here and there that convey feelings of warmth, coziness and peace.
Listen, fall is literally right up the road. If you want to create a few looks in your house that will make you want to stay in more once the weather starts to drop closer to freezing, I've got 15 that you could easily pull off over the course of a weekend without breaking the bank in the process.
1. Go with Some Low-Watt Light Bulbs
Although we've still got a couple of months before it will be time to "fall back" as far as daylight savings time goes, because it's darker during the autumn and winter seasons, this would be a good time to cop a few low-watt (40-watt or lower) light bulbs. They tend to offer a softer glow that can make the various rooms of your house feel warmer and more comfy.
2. Get Some Pine Cones
If there was a signature plant for the fall and winter season (other than poinsettias), it would have to be the pine cone. While technically, it's considered to be an "organ" in the family of Pinophyta plants, I doubt any of us would give those plants a second thought if it weren't for the pine cones that are hanging from them.
Anyway, I like pine cones so much that I've got a basket that's full of them that I keep in my living room, year-round. However, if you don't really dig them unless it's cold outside, we're about there. Pick some up and put them in a basket, a glass vase or even make a wreath out of pine cones to hang on your front door. As far as where to purchase some, local arts and crafts stores typically carry pine cones (especially as the fall season rolls in).
Oh and, if that wreath idea is something that you're interested in, click here for some step-by-step instructions.
3. DIY Some Fall-Themed Potpourri
I don't know about y'all but something else that I'm a fan of is potpourri. It just has a way of making my house smell so, shoot, "delightful" is the word that immediately comes to mind. If you want to customize your own this year, it's pretty easy to do. A particular recipe that I like consists of "fall-ish scents" like apples, oranges, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, allspice and nutmeg. I found it on the blog, Pip and Ebby. You can check it out here.
4. Play Around with Kernels of Popcorn
Speaking of centerpieces, if you plan on doing a little bit of entertaining over the next few months, a super inexpensive décor idea is to get yourself a couple of tall glass cylinder vases. Then fill them halfway with popcorn kernels and stick some in season fall flowers like sunflowers, chrysanthemums or pampas grass into them. Corn ears are something that's oftentimes seen a lot around Thanksgiving, so the popcorn kernels are something else that can speak "fall" in a subtle kind of way.
5. Decorate with (Preserved) Gourds
While in all honesty, gourds aren't the most fun to eat, they are a wonderful thing to decorate with. Matter of fact, I can't think of many fall harvest décor themes where I don't see them as a major focal point of the design. Whether you want to use them as candle holders, centerpieces, a hanging for your front door or something else, if you preserve them correctly, they can easily last for several weeks. On Sutton Place is a blog that can walk you through how to do just that (here).
6. Darken Your Window Treatments
This particular point is a bit of a play-on words. The reason why I say that is because, if you want to block out the daylight so that you can sleep more while you're off during Thanksgiving (and later Christmas), I can certainly vouch for the fact that blackout curtains (and/or blinds) can get that done. The other spin on this point is to go with some window treatments that are darker in color. It can make various rooms of your house appear "richer".
7. Buy Some Pumpkin Shapes
C'mon. We all know what the signature fruit for fall is — the pumpkin. One day, we'll have to get into the whole "which is better?" debate — pumpkin or sweet potato pie. For now, let me stay on topic and just say that whether or not you adore the taste of pumpkin, it can be cute to have some pumpkin-shaped ideas to decorate your house. Arts and crafts stores (along with places like Walmart and Target) typically have pumpkin stuff. If you think that the orange ones are a little too "country" or even corny, look for metallic ones instead. I saw some on Grandin Road's website that I thought were pretty dope (check it out here).
8. Invest in Some Huge Pillows and/or an Ottoman
Two things that can make even a really nice place feel more like a dorm room (and not in a good way) are bare walls and a lack of big ole' pillows. Keeping this in mind, beside my loveseat, there's a space that's designated for nothing else other than some really large pillows; they really help to make my living room look and feel more comfortable. Or, if you want to fill up an area but you don't want anything too large or bulky, an ottoman may be just what you need.
In the spirit of fall, go with hues that immediately bring autumn to your mind — white or off-white, shades of brown, shades of orange, deep greens, metallics, greys or even purple. The cool thing about this particular tip is you can store the pillows elsewhere once fall/winter is over. Also, if you're looking for another décor theme, the ottoman can be reupholstered or you can put a throw blanket or something over it once a new season arrives.
9. Hang Some Faux Autumn-Colored Foliage
Fall is usually the time of year when folks are down for hanging twinkle lights around their bed (you know, since it's darker longer outdoors. Plus, it's a precursor for Christmas decorations).
If you'd like to have more of a nature-like feel, how about going with some faux foliage that comes in autumn colors like yellow, orange and red? Listen, I've got a nice sized fake tree in my bedroom and it's one of the best things I've ever purchased.
You can get faux foliage at your local arts and crafts store too.
10. Look for Some Jewel-Toned “Accessories”
Colors that reflect autumn leaves are very popular when it comes to home décor. Something else is the rich shades that derive from jewel tones. If you're curious about what falls under that category, it's literal jewel colors like sapphire, ruby and emerald. Dishes, picture frames, glasses, shower curtains, linen, serving trays, plant holders, vases, blankets, pillows — these are just some of the ways that you can add jewel tones into your décor in order to add some elegance that says "fall" in the most sophisticated way possible.
11. Bring in Some Fall-Scented Essential Oils (or Candles)
Other than potpourri, another way to keep the various rooms of your home smelling fall-themed-divine is using an oil diffuser or some scented soy candles (it can't be said enough that soy candles burn cleaner and last longer) that come in some of the season's signature scents. Some of those would include vanilla, apple, pomegranate, fig, sandalwood, berry, patchouli, spice, sage and the combination of frankincense and myrrh.
12. Accent with Cinnamon Sticks
Another scent that's amazing for fall is cinnamon. One way to incorporate it into your candles is to get some cinnamon sticks that you can line up all around, say a vanilla-scented tall candle that you've got. Can anything smell better than that? Lawd. Anyway, tips on how to DIY this can be found on the Home Stories A to Z blog here.
13. Put Some Autumn Leaves in a Contrasting-Colored Vase
My maternal grandmother used to press plants and flowers a lot. Matter of fact, I've got a large beautifully framed piece of her work in my living room. Since the vibrant colors of autumn leaves are also a huge part of fall décor, if you want to press your own leaves, check out Red Ted Art's list of ways to make that happen here.
Another cool take on autumn leaves is to cut down a few small branches and then put them in a vase that is a totally different color from them like a royal blue or a deep purple. That way, the leaves will "pop" as the combo makes your home office desk or even a centerpiece in your kitchen look "fall ready" with a bit of a modern twist.
14. Get Some (More or New) Throw Blankets
I think I've told y'all before that I don't even know how many throw blankets I've got in my house at this point; that's how much I adore them. I like to put them across my ottoman, drape them over my loveseat and I really like at the foot of my bed. A particular kind that I currently don't have is what I'm gonna invest in this year — a huge cable knit throw blanket. Without a doubt, throw blankets are warm, they're cozy and they definitely are a great way to make your house look like it's all about the fall (and winter) season.
15. Add Some (More or New) Throw/Area Rugs Too
Speaking of "throw stuff", there is something that looks very inviting about a throw/area rug on the floor. Here's the thing about them too — they literally help to keep the rooms in your house warmer (especially if you've got hardwood floors). As bonuses, they can make it more comfortable to walk around barefoot and they even can reduce the noise in the rooms that they are in because they absorb sound from the air (wild). The throw rugs that I have keep my neutral carpeting from looking "blah". One or two in your place could make a dramatic difference. Just in time for the fall season that is definitely on its way.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Ari Lennox has been heating up Instagram with sensual photos showing off her toned physique. The “Get Close” singer is currently on tour with Rod Wave and is giving us a peek at her show fits, which includes shimmer bikini tops and mini skirts that show off her abs. Ari began her physical transformation in 2021, and while the sultry singer has always gave bawdy, she decided to step her health up a notch. Speaking to Hot 97's Nessa, the “Pressure” artist revealed some of the ways she likes to stay in shape.
Ari Lennox On Her Fitness Regimen
“While I was in California, I was hiking a lot. I found an amazing trail. Shoutout to my tour manager, Jess. She put me onto this amazing trail called Temescal trail, and I fell in love with it,” she said. “But I was pissed the first time because it’s so strenuous, but then I’m like, ‘Oh, this is doing something, this is good. The more strenuous, the better. That is my thing, but I prefer doing it in mountainous areas like California.”
As she continued talking about hiking, she also dished on her other go-to moves, which included a popular YouTuber’s workout videos. “So, I do like it, but if I’m not there, then I like walking in nature like that’s my exercise,” she said. “Like that, and Grow with Jo. Like she has dope HIIT workouts on YouTube. I like those, and then I’ve been doing jumping jacks lately.”
Ari Lennox On Her Sobriety
Keeping her body in motion is one important factor in staying healthy, but so is giving up alcohol. The Grammy-nominated artist is 11 months sober and opened up about her sobriety in a vulnerable July Instagram post. While talking to Nessa, Ari delved deeper into what sparked her sobriety and why she decided to share it with the world. “I just wasn’t able to protect myself in so many wild ways. So many sad ways, dark ways. I was not able to protect myself, and it was crazy because I was thinking that I was,” she admitted.
“I was thinking that I was in so much control, and I literally was in a space where I was allowing so many devils to come in and just take advantage of me ‘cause I was just not there. I was just not there. I wasn’t able to protect me, so now I’m in a space where it feels good to protect me, and it’s like, wow, this seems a lot more in control than I thought drinking was.”
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