The Fabulous Giver

The Perfect Diary for Your Thoughts

I haven’t kept a hardcore diary in years, but Barney’s is really making me reconsider that. While browsing their Disney Electric Holiday collection, I came across the three gems below. I’m not sure if it’s the colors, the fact that Minnie’s silouhette is on it, or the presence of the old school lock and key BUT something in me is screaming, “I WANT ONE.”

Disney Electric Holiday Minnie Mouse Diary, $38


Since I just stocked up on some hot pink and gold leather journals, I know that I probably don’t need another. But, the neon green version is calling my name.

In the spirit of the season, Barney’s is donating 25% of the retail price of the collection items to the American Red Cross. So, that means that it’s okay if I buy it… Right?! Right?


This Weekend: Three Times the Holiday Cheer

In case you missed it, I’m knee-deep in my (now annual) Holiday Service Challenge. You can read more about it here, but the gist of it is that my sister and I commit to volunteering a certain number of hours to honor our Mom’s birthday.

We kicked off the challenge on December 1st and have been going hard since then. Over the past 13 days, I have made lunch at the Chicago Women’s AIDS Project, volunteered at church, created Christmas cards with my sister’s group of girls, and served dinner at a residence for women in transition. And, this weekend, I have THREE service projects lined up. I can’t wait!

Chicago Cares Carolers last year

You know why? Because all three of these are directly related to the holidays and spreading Christmas cheer. Something that I L-O-V-E. Want to know my plans?

I will be sure to snap a few pics along the way, so follow me on Instagram to check them out. Have you made any volunteer plans this holiday season? What’s on your agenda?


Marc Jacobs Loves a Cheerful Giver

A couple of days ago, I spotted these two cutesy items in the window at what I thought was Barney’s.


I called harassed the store clerks and accused them of making up stuff when they claimed they didn’t know what those items were (sorry). Anyways, I was in the area last night and realized that the items were actually in the windows of Marc Jacobs (whoops).

According to the helpful gentleman who answered the phone, it looks like the shirt and bag are only sold in-store for now. But, if you happen to be on the Gold Coast, pop in and scoop one for your future philanthropist. The t-shirt retails for $35 and the bag is $40.

Mystery solved.


20 Social Good Instagram Accounts You Should Follow

I knew that I would become addicted to Instagram before I even purchased my iPhone. Like most technological advances, there are people who use the service for ill activities but also folks who use IG to shed a little light on their daily do-gooding activities. Out of sheer curiosity, I started jotting down IG accounts that were connected to a cause or social impact. What started off as 12 names has somehow amassed into a list of over 40.

Those on my list include social advocates, nonprofit organizations, foundations, and socially-responsible companies. I love seeing how each group uses images to capture the story of their brand or cause. It’s rather fascinating. So, you ready to see who made the first list?

Check out the images below!


Any other organizations or companies that I should include for future lists?


Putting a Healthy Spin on a Sweet Weakness

Hi, my name is Karyn and I am addicted to cake. Not cookies and pies. Just cake. I haven’t made it around to baking them from scratch so I usually just stick to the boxed variety. But, as I move into a season of healthier eating, I wanted to find a better way to enjoy my cake (and eat it too).

When my friends at the American Cancer Society asked me to participate in their A Healthier Holiday Table series, I decided to look for a way to make my beloved weakness a little healthier. Eventually, I found a reduced fat recipe that substituted the eggs and oil for Greek yogurt. It sounded simple enough so I decided to give it a whirl.

It was actually very simple to make and the results were delish! Taking the theme one step further, I skipped the frosting and decided to pair my sweet treat with some fresh raspberries instead. Seriously, could this healthy swap be ANY easier?

The idea behind this program is all about simplicity. Cancer prevention is something that we can all strive towards with diet and physical activity. Below are a couple of tips to keep in mind…

  • Did you know that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can help reduce your cancer risk? The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day. Looking for other ideas to up your fruit and veggie consumption? Check out this resource.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of many types of cancer. Here are ideas on how to eat healthy and get active.
  • Stock your kitchen with a variety of foods that you can throw together for healthy meals in a hurry. (*ahem* Greek yogurt and fresh fruits)

Do you have a healthy recipe that you love? Head over to the American Cancer Society’s Facebook page and share it there!


It’s Not Glamorous but Let’s Talk Flu Season…

Not only am I passionate about causes, but I also care about improving health outcomes. Every now and then, I will talk about a timely health issue. Learn and enjoy.

It’s that time of year, ladies and gents. You know, when your co-workers, family members, and Facebook friends ALL start talking about “the flu.” Even typing those words makes me shutter. I think that I’ve only had the flu maybe twice in my adult life and *knocks on wood* I’m hoping that it stays that way for the foreseeable future. But, you never know what germs are lurking around the corner. And, that is essentially the premise behind the CDC’s National Influenza Vaccination Week (December 2-8, 2012).

Have you gotten your flu vaccine? It's not too late! It's National Influenza Vaccination Week.

If you’re like me, you might be wondering why the CDC picked this week. Well, it turns out that once the holiday season arrives, Americans become so busy shopping for gifts that we forget to go and get vaccinated. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but it is true that that influenza vaccination activity drops quickly after the end of November. So, I was sort of right.

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated as the most important step in protecting against the flu. I know that there are various beliefs about flu vaccinations, but I won’t get into those here because I’m not an expert. But, I do know that there are certain folks who have a higher risk for developing flu-related complications (i.e. people over age 65, those with chronic illnesses). And, those in that group should definitely consider vaccinations to help build up their systems.

If you have questions about the flu and approved vaccinations, head on over to the CDC’s website. And, once you have the information, please share with family and friends.

If you are currently battling the flu, you have my prayers and following words of advice.*

1. A hot toddy can be your friend (don’t mix whiskey with meds though).

2. Download “Homeland” on iTunes.

3. Go all out and splurge on the Kleenex with Aloe. It will make a huge difference.

What are your personal flu remedies? I’d love to have in my back pocket. You know, just in case…


*Obviously, you should go see your doctor. I assumed that was a given.

Monday Motivation: How Far Will You Go for Change?

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to attend a luncheon hosted by the team behind the incredible MAKERS series. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the MAKERS’ site includes videos of women who have done and are doing incredible things. These women have blazed and are blazing trails in industries ranging from politics to education to health and they are all HUGELY impressive.

With Dr. Amy Lehman

At this luncheon, we had the opportunity to meet Dr. Amy Lehman and to hear her story. She is the founder of the Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic, which provides health care access to millions of Central African people who live in the isolated Lake Tanganyika Basin. Let’s stop here.

Can you please take a moment and soak in the awesomeness of that sentence? A floating hospital that provides invaluable medical services to those who might otherwise go without. Okay. Let’s continue.

As Dr. Lehman talked, I had a thought: What would’ve happened if she hadn’t accepted her mission to serve this community? As a surgeon trained at the University of Chicago, I’m pretty sure that she could’ve found a posh practice to show off her skills. But, she didn’t. Which leads me to this question: How far are you willing to go to make an impact?


Dr. Lehman’s incredible tattoo of the Lake Tanganyika region

When we discuss making an impact, we often limit ourselves to the communities around us. And, I don’t always mean community as a physical location. Community can be your affinity group (i.e. Catholic, African-American, or disabled), a specific neighborhood, or a specific cause. Like many things that we do, there is a tendency to stay within our comfort zone when it comes to assisting those in need.

As we close out 2012 and look ahead to a new year, let’s resolve to go one step further to make a difference. If Dr. Lehman can execute her purpose on another continent, then there’s no reason why we can’t execute ours across town.

To learn more about Dr. Lehman’s work, visit her website at

To learn more about the other women recognized by MAKERS, visit their website at


7 Ways to Make a Difference on World AIDS Day

Today marks the 24th anniversary of World AIDS Day. Each one of us has the power to end the epidemic. Below are a few ways that you can educate yourselves while also contributing to the greater cause.


    • Have you been tested in the past six months? If not, today is as good as day as any to go find out your status. Visit this site to find a testing location near you.
    • Join Alicia Keys, presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee for a Twitter chat about AIDS in America at noon ET TODAY.
    • Tonight, MTV will air “I’m Positive,” a documentary that follows the daily lives of three young people who are living with HIV. The hour long special airs at 7p ET/6p CT. Young people between the ages of 13 and 24 make up 24 percent of new HIV infections in the US.

I’m PositiveFull Episodes


  • Dance (Red) – Download this high-energy dance album produced by global DJ Tiesto. All proceeds from the sale of the album will be donated to the Global Fund.

  • Starbucks – For every handcrafted beverage, Starbucks will donate five cents to The Global Fund. (It’s easy to scoff at five cents until you think about how many drinks Starbucks moves on a daily basis.)
  • MAC Cosmetics – TODAY only, MAC will double the donation of your online Viva Glam purchase. View the collection here.


  • Identify community organizations in your area that provide HIV services and/or resources and get involved. That can be doing anything from passing out condoms, volunteering at a health fair, or even answering the phones at a clinic.

Today, I’ll be preparing lunch for women attending a support group at the Chicago Women’s AIDS Project before going to support my church’s Community Health Fair. Every action counts.

How will you honor World AIDS Day today and moving forward?

Decadence and Delight: World of Chocolate 2012

Last night, I had the time of my life at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago’s 11th Annual “World of Chocolate” event. I’d heard all types of rave reviews from people who practically overdosed on cocoa goodness and KNEW that I was going to be in trouble.

While I felt like a winner, I also felt like a loser. There was so much chocolate in the place that I tapped out… EARLY. I only visited like 35% of the stations and seriously reconsidered my life’s purpose. Why didn’t I try more items? I suppose that there’s always next year.

So, what did I try? The short list is below…

  • A bacon chocolate martini (YUM!)
  • Mashed potatoes drizzled with chocolate (An interesting combo that kind of worked.)
  • A date stuffed with Belgium dark chocolate and wrapped in bacon (I wasn’t ready for this one.)
  • Chocolate covered pretzels
  • Chocolate-covered grapes with Riesling (Omg. Delish.)
  • Fudge truffles

But, when I tell you that they had all types of chocolate there, I really mean it. There were stations with salads drizzled in chocolate vinaigrette, cocoa chile wild boar sliders, chocolate shrimp and grits, and WAY more. Ah. SUCH a magical place and all for a fantastic cause! Funds raised through World of Chocolate support AFC’s grant-making, policy and public education programs. I will definitely return next year and this time I will be ready. Ready for the fun and ready for some wild cocoa treats.

What’s the craziest chocolate dish that you have ever tried?

Cause and Effect: Multiple Sclerosis

As a fun new way to spotlight causes and issues that I think you should know about, I’m launching a new series of posts called “Cause and Effect.” This series will give you a bite-sized piece of information about an issue and showcase a few items that you can rock in support of the cause. The first cause on my list? The fight against multiple sclerosis. Check the image below for a quick stat about the disease and some fab orange pieces that you can snag to rock in your support whether you’re attending a MS fundraising soiree or just lounging around the house.

1. Chevron Fabric Tablet Cover, $28 | 2. Madewell Thermal Sweater, $88 | 3. Aqua Floyd Skater Dress, $184.50 | 4. Ginger+Liz Dancehall Queen, $12 | 5. ALDO Fravel, $38.49

To learn more about multiple sclerosis and ways to show your support, visit


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