about me

Gifting from the Heart

I have found a love in CRAFTING! Making things with my hands is a nice distraction! Pinterest has helped me find ways to turn my anxiety in trying to see my vision through coloring, gluing, pasting, and cutting while at the same time,  provide me a strong sense of pride as I stand back in awe of my creativity.

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Since I am not in a position to create as often as I would prefer, I love to support those who have mastered the art of handcrafted production. That’s when I turn to the world wide web because I specialize in gift-giving! The holidays are a perfect time to personalize your admiration for those you love. Uncommongoods.com is the perfect site for those specialty items that fit every member on that Christmas list! I also love a site that offers sustainable products because loving the earth is a gift in and of itself.

What drew me to their site was the picture of records/vinyl discs as bowls! I immediately knew I could find something for my extremely talented and gifted brother and sister-in-love! Whatever I choose from their unique selection of gifts for men would work for either of them. I love being able to gift the unexpected, especially since my sister has had to come to grips with sharing the holiday with my nephew. They deserve gifts that speak to who they are as people and as a power couple who just happen to be great parents!

If your mom is like mine, shopping for her can be very tricky! Jewelry? My dad has that covered! Clothes? She handles that well all by herself. Keepsakes? Mementos? She really isn’t into those at all. Uncommongoods.com gives me the opportunity to present something to my mom that I can be proud of! Thankfully they offer an excellent assortment for all the women in my family. I have yet to find a gift that I could custom create to suit her tastes but their recipe book is perfect because she has a very worn book of dishes passed down from my grandmother and my aunt.

Being the researcher I am, I was ecstatic to find out that this site could also assist me in shopping for my extended family. My One Love babies will always be within my circle of gratitude. Their parents trusted me and my efforts to open my childcare business. The one-of-a-kind array of Christmas gifts for children will help me further express my appreciation. what-I-want-tags-for-kids-for-the-holidays I am certain I will be able to combine The Want, The Need, A Wear and A Read, somehow…

This gift-giving season will not be as stressful. Whatever I am not able to accomplish through the works of my hands will be done from the coziness of my bed. Yet, I don’t think anything will ever take away from searching catalogs and posting lists on my bedroom door.

Give Love. Get Love.

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Personal essays · Self Love

100 days…

From my post in April:  100 signifies an election. The word election stems from the Latin eligere meaning to “pick out.” So today, I have elected to reflect over the past 99 days and pick today as the day to begin to conquer my fears, move past my insecurities, and just do it. My faith is urging me to really do IT.

We were taught that 100 means the end. But it’s only April, and Spring just started getting good. Excuse me while I wipe off my rose-colored glasses, adjust my curls away from my face, and exhale, “please count with me…..101, 102, 103, 104, 105. . . .”

 

And now here we are in September with 100 days remaining in 2017. I have still elected to conquer my fears, move past my insecurities and just do IT! I came here tonight to make some declarations so I can purposefully and intentionally fulfill my 2017.

I declare that I will learn dedication and consistency.

I declare that I will work on not being so hard on myself.

I declare that I will work hard and put all my faith in God.

Good night and CHEERS!

 

Give Love. Get Love.

 

 

 

Personal essays

Oh July…

It’s the last few hours of July, my birth month. I can usually reflect back on all the love I received and/or the fun I have had. But I looked at my calendar hanging on the wall and the flower chosen for July is barely seen because the edges are folded over and I looked thinking, “I cannot believe I am actually turning the page to a new month.” July was a busy blur and I don’t like that at all. So much happening between home, work, church, and my life smashed up in there. I am disappointed. It makes me sad to think that my one birthday wish – to receive the love that I give out – really was not fulfilled. The irony here is that when I had that thought this morning, I received a text from a friend who said I crossed her mind and she chose to encourage me. I think God was wanted me to know that He heard my heart’s cry.

Either way, as I lay in bed very tired, I cannot believe that this 7th month of 2017 is over. Seven is the number of rest. I did very little of that. It is the number of perfection and my life has been far from that. I am just wishing I could rewind to July 1st and make some adjustments. I do not know what I could actually change because there was so much going on but I wish I could have found time to celebrate me. I kept telling myself that I will just borrow some time in August but it does not feel worth it at this point.

But in spite of it all, I am grateful. I am a full-time employee and as of August 1st, I will earn the most amount of money yet in this field. My car is still running when I thought it would have given out by own. I am able to sleep in the bed I want even though my parents think I should have gotten a smaller one. My skin is reacting to something; I feel as though I am breaking out from everything but it could be worse.

And what’s crazy, I did not plan a birthday dinner, per usual, but I really wanted a lobster dinner.😏 Guess that’s for the best because I truly want to adopt a vegetarian diet.

I think I had more to say but I started watching a Bishop TD Jakes message from a few weeks ago and my feelings of disappointment are beginning to dissipate so I am ready to sleep in peace.

Get love. Give love.

Personal essays

Seven – Seventeen – Seventeen

Today is my BIRTHDAY!!! 🎂🎁🎊🎉 (<—- and world emoji day 😄)

I left my journal at home 😕 so I might as well blog, right?? I had some good writing to get done, great thoughts to get out! Hopefully, I will be able to pen it all tonight.  I also left a check I needed to cash. I did not sleep well because my mind was racing and I think my music was up too loud – I think I heard every song between each sleep cycle. 😞 I am also at work, which is rare. I typically take off for my birthday, or if I must work, I leave early or something. I am here all day today! It’s a national holiday, and as much as I appreciate God for allowing me the ability to get wealth, I would have preferred enjoying it my own way.

In other 1st, I received birthday gifts from my family weeks early! That was pleasantly surprising. I also did not plan anything for my birthday. There are things I want to enjoy for myself and by myself (i. e. sips n strokes, possibly lunch at a winery) but I typically plan a dinner or some sort of gathering with my friends and family, and I did no such thing this year. There is so much going on, I felt that I would have been disappointed by the lack of participation or the flood of excuses, so I just opted to do me.

I do, however, plan on celebrating until the end of the month. I will try to stop on July 31st, but I am not making any promises! 😏 I expect the most from this year, so I will not be bound by time. I will be 37 for the next 364 days and every day is a gift!

But it’s 7 – 17 – 17 and I plan on just resting in silence satisfaction in all those numbers have to offer. 7 – perfection and rest. 17 – victory. I love it! I will rest in perfect victory today and for the remainder of the month. Taking advantage of this moment will carry me through the end of 2017.

My birthday wish: to see and experience God’s blessings while I am living and well-able.

I love my family for accepting me. I love my friends for loving me.

Give Love. Get Love.

Self Love

Attitude of Gratitude

It is Saturday and this day has earned this hash tag #selfcareSaturdays. So today I slept in, washed my clothes, bedding, and my hair, and now I’m writing! I have done my best to manage my pain without medication. I even do some window shopping online for a new car. Ideally, a massage, possibly deep tissue (if I could handle it!), a manicure, a shopping trip, and maybe a movie would have been so terrific. Yet I have had a free day, in more than one way and I am grateful.

I even got to catch one of my favorite shows, ER. Way back during the early days of cellular devices, I wanted the theme song to be my ringtone. I remember periodically checking to see if I could ever purchase it through a website or whatever avenue we used to use for that purpose. I can’t remember if I tried to record it, but I probably did. I, also watched some great documentaries on the presidency and the White House on the Smithsonian network (did not even know this channel existed). And I now get to watch Jeopardy!!!

It truly is the simple things and the joy they bring. If I had my way, this day would have been spent in the streets but I have recently become a full-time teacher again, and it has been such an adjustment. The job is not what I want, but I am very grateful for this time and trying my best to be patient and take advantage of the opportunity given to me each day. So today in all its simplicity was necessary. I have no regrets. And because I will be 37 Monday, I have been quite reflective. Trying my best not be depressive because I cannot spend my day the way I wish but again, grateful. I guess my self-care Saturday is simply about gratitude. I will take it!

Give Love. Get Love.

Parenting

Toddler Tidbits: Part 2

You’ve survived your 1st year of parenting! Your baby has gone from being held to crawling, and now you have a full-blown walker! Bottles are being phased out. They open their mouths every time you raise a fork or spoon to yours. And you have found less need for that huge baby bag. Maybe you have already transitioned or have found it easier to carry a backpack but now that your child is older, what do you really need to carry?

At this point, you know your child’s cries and needs. Therefore the essentials of carry are simple:

  • 1 change of clothes (this may vary depending on how your child eats and how they potty but use your best judgment, especially depending on how long you will be out and about)
  • Diapers (again the amount depends on how long you will be out but keep about 8-10 in the bag that you can store and forget)
  • 2 cups – an empty, one with juice and then a bottle of water. If you child has transitioned to whole, almond or soy milk, I would recommend using a thermos because it needs to be kept cold, unless your bag has an insulated pocket/compartment.
  • Wipes
  • Travel-sized ointments, creams, lotions
  • Snacks (varies depending on your child’s taste or your preference)
    • If your child loves fruit, use your smaller Tupperware containers and fill ’em
    • I love to combine toddler tidbits to make a little finger trail mix such as the yogurt melts, cereals, raisins, Teddy Grahams, Goldfish crackers, etc.
  • Toys and small board books
    • Toys should be small and quiet (cars, balls, action figures or small stuffed toy, 
    • It is nice to include toys that they love but I suggest that these toys remain in the bag so that your child can forget about it – out of sight out of mind. Every time they see the toy, it will be new to them.
  • Bib – not the cotton drool bib, unless your child is a drooler or still teething but a feeding bib. Walmart and Target sell them for about $5 for 2.
  • Fork and spoon (optional) depending on if you are trying to help your child learn how to self-feed with utensils

Eventually, you might be able to phase out to just a freezer bag with a change of clothes and a travel-sized pack of wipes, a couple of toys, and a cup. It truly depends on your need and how prepared you want to be for your child. I always tell parents to do what works for you. Everyone has an opinion but you must do what is best for you and your child.

Parenting is a journey definitely not a destination.

Give Love. Get Love.

 

Parenting · Self Love

Kitchen ABC’s

For most adults, you learn how to feed yourselves according to your appetite. If you love watching Food Network, like me, you imagine a kitchen filled with the latest gadgets and utensils. Until that dream becomes a reality, you might have these basics on hand (most probably acquired during your college years): pots and pans, spatula, maybe a mixing spoon, probably a whisk, and aside from the staple silverware, you might have a knife block. 

As a woman, the saying goes, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Yet, any man that is willing to cook for me and with me is a keeper! I like using my hands and trying to figure out how seasonings pair or standing over a mixing bowl saying, “what if I add this?” or “I wonder how this will taste?” Sharing my creations has not always worked in my favor BUT I can follow a recipe to a tee (I still have to add my own personal touch!)

But regardless if you have flights of fancy of starting your own cooking web series, there are some kitchen staples that every home can use. You never know when the day will come and you want to host a dinner party, or you might feel like experimenting in the kitchen like I do.

 

I asked my childhood friend and talented chef, Birmingham’s Chef Eryka Perry of Not Just Catering, to lend her expertise by providing a list of kitchen staples that everyone should have – married, single parent, doting bachelor or family of 5.

Pantry:

  • Garlic (fresh or minced)
  • Basic seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika)
  • Coconut and olive oils (these are NOT interchangeable)
  • Liquid amino acids – building blocks of life (great substitute for soy sauce, and flavor additive) 
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Italian herb mix: oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage
  • Lemon or lemon juice

 

Equipment:

  • One good knife because it can make magic
  • One pyrex or casserole dish
  • Small and large saute pan or skillet
  • Median and large sauce pot
  • Bowls (various sizes: small, medium and large)
  • Ziplock bags (varying sizes: sandwich, quart, freezer)
  • Nuwave oven: can replace stove, oven, and microwave
  • Rubber spatula
  • Tongs
  • Wooden spoon
  • Forks and spoons (4 of each) – never know when you will want to or need to entertain

 

Foods:

  • Greens: Kale, spinach, collards
  • Frozen fruits
  • Bananas
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Beans (canned or dried, depending on your preference)
  • Rice (brown or wild rice blend)
  • Butter

I am going to add flour and sugar to this list because anything can be made or created when you have those in your cabinet as well.

These are just some basics that you should keep stocked. You can add other foods, seasons, equipment to your liking.

Besides, recipes are becoming easier to follow. If you can subscribe to Hello Fresh or Blue Apron, you can surely select a recipe online or at your local Publix, purchase the needed ingredients and then enjoy the fruits of your labor. BONUS: Having a home cooked meal saves money and calories! 

(Shameless Plug): Chef Eryka offers food coaching, cooking classes, lunch and learns, AND she will even come to your home and cook for you and yours!!!! Contact her today <info@notjustcatering.com> and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and THEN subscribe to her newsletter  😉

 

 

 

Parenting

365 days later

You made it! You survived your 1st year as a parent! You kept your child alive for an entire year :). Now you enter into the potentially highly stressful situation of planning his birthday party. Do you make reservations at the infamous Chuck E. Cheese that does not genuinely cater to children under 5? Do you go to McDonald’s or Chick-Fil-A with a cake where your child, who may or may not be walking, cannot climb up the play structures and slide? Or do you invite friends and family to your home and try to have a cartoon-themed party?

How should your child’s 1st year be celebrated? In my opinion, this should be a time for the family to congratulate themselves. Parents are not wholeheartedly prepared for the numerous responsibilities of childrearing. So many changes as your child is growing, exploring, and evolving. Does it stop after the 1st year? Of course not! However, if you take the time to glance back at the pictures you took in the hospital, during their 1st doctor’s visit, the 1st time they smiled, the video of them tasting food, or the 1st time they sat up alone, you see all of those firsts!

So it is my humble opinion that parents should enjoy their child’s 1st birthday. They deserve a level of celebration. I was discussing this topic with my sister-in-law and she suggested the parents get wined and dined and I agree! I do not see anything wrong with parents clanking glasses to say, “Yes! We did it! We made it! The little human that we were privileged to create is still here and healthy 12 months later.” This is a highly interdependent relationship: parents did not exist with a child and a child is not created without parents. Celebrations all around!

Over the past year, I have attended four one-year-old birthday parties.

  • There were 2 house parties
    • One parent had a story time. The godmother is a library so she read “Pete the Cat” and it was a hit.
    • The other party was just a big family affair with a Peppa Pig theme. All the foods were pig related – curly fries to represent a cute little piggy tail and pigs in the blanket.
  • The other 2 were on-location
    • The mall has a carousel in the middle of the food court, so these parents reserved tables near the ride. They got a chicken tray from Chick-Fil-A and the little attendees were treated to vanilla ice cream cone. Then the birthday girl and her court were able to ride, many of them for the 1st time. It was easy and convenient. (Even if someone forgot a gift or didn’t have time to shop, they could just go to a store there!)
    • One grandparent decided to have a big Mickey Mouse theme blowout with a huge inflatable house and water slide at a local park. This party had so much grilled food – hot dogs for the kids and chicken for the adults. The weather was perfect! There was no rush to leave the pavilion and when the birthday boy got tired, he napped in his stroller.

The best thing about each party is that they were all about family. That should be the goal. Surround your child with love from their village. Even though they will not remember the day, they will see the excitement, hear the birthday song, and feel the love.

Give love. Get love.