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Merry Christmas From My Family to Yours! #WordfulWednesday

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas to all of you! I hope you are spending the holiday enveloped in the love of family and friends!

It's been a busy month and my blogging has taken a back seat. Here is a recap of what I have been doing in pictures:

The day after Thanksgiving we skipped the Black Friday madness and went on a hike
through the Tennessee Valley down to Muir Glen beach with our neighbors. It was majestic.

Then I took a trip to Atlanta (SOLO!) for the 10th Anniversary of Enchanted Closet, a fairy godmother charity I founded in 2003. I haven't been back in five years so I took the opportunity to visit with some friends before the gala:

That's me and Kia from Determined to Be Fit having lunch.
Blogging friends since 2009,we finally met IRL!
I met up with a bunch of my former colleagues for happy hour.
This young lady showed up and made my whole night. She was one of my
high school mentees. Now she is a hard-working nurse. #proud

The big event! In a packed ballroom at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Decatur, we celebrated 10 years of outfitting girls inside and out:

Add caption(l-r) Me trying to look red carpet ready, me and Bonita Johnson, CEO of Enchanted Closet,
me and the original Enchanted Closet crew. The ladies helped build this organization.

There was no time to rest when I got back. The holiday season was in full swing. There were holiday cards to mail, parties to plan and attend, lots of holiday festivities to take the kids to, and gifts to buy. So that's why I have been absent from this blog. We took in some culture...

I took Marlie to see the production of Cinderella by the African-American Shakespeare Co for our annual
mommy & me holiday outing. It was fantastic and the cast stuck around for pictures!
We made friends at the grocery store while picking up last-minute ingredients for the big feast!

I am thankful for so many people and experiences that made my life extra blessed this year!

Holiday Cards Are Easy and #TopoftheMantel Worthy at Cardstore.com #sponsored #MC

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Cardstore. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Am I the only one who doesn't put off sending out my family's holiday card?! Yes, it's a hassle to get all four of us dressed up to take a photo, then design the card, then address over 50 cards with personalized notes, then go down to the post office and stand in line. Come to think of it, I see why most people procrastinate!

This year, don't be tardy to the party. Let Cardstore.com help you score the primo spot on the mantel this holiday season! Cardstore removes the hassle from holiday cards by printing, addressing and sending them out for you, AND you get to include your own personalized message.

Right now, get 50% off all holiday cards and invitations—including Season’s Greetings, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year. Use Code: CCN3125. Valid 12/3-12/4! Log on and make your holiday card today: http://po.st/PersonalizeYourCard 

Have you finished creating and mailing your holiday cards?

Concious Parenting Means Saying Yes to Less #MC

Monday, December 2, 2013

As a conscious mom, I am a always looking for ways to reduce excess in my family. So I enthusiastically took the Little Remedies "Say Yes to Less" pledge. I pledged to say no to negativity because the holidays are stressful and can wear on a parent's patience. I am vowing to not yell at my kids, to be less snappish, and to exercise more grace in stressful situations.

I think it is wonderful that Little Remedies is spearheading this campaign because we could all use a reminder not to go overboard this time of year. The holidays bring families and friends together in the spirit of love and thanksgiving, but it also encourages gluttony in the form of excessive eating and shopping. This pledge is a great way to rededicate myself to focusing more on my family and less on external distractions like buying more stuff that will clutter my home or unhealthy activities like binge eating.

When I was pregnant with Marlie, I made a commitment to raise her naturally and I did the same for her brother Desmond. Our lifestyle includes staying active and eating a diet rich in whole foods. I say no to artificial ingredients and too much sugary and processed foods. It is important to me to put healthy stuff in my children's' bodies. It is my first line of defense to prevent cold and flu! On the rare occasions my kids get sick I turn to natural remedies first because I want the medicine to support their immune systems rather than just suppress symptoms.

When Marlie was an infant she got a bad head cold. She was so stuffy but was too little to blow her own nose. I found Little Remedies Little Noses Saline Drops after doing some Internet research and it worked wonders! I always have two bottles in the medicine cabinet. I use it too! What I love most about the product is that there is no risk of side effects.

Join me in taking the "Say Yes to  Less" pledge. What will you pledge to minimize for the next 30 days?

Christmas Gift Guide for Spirited Girls, Girls with Grit, Tomboys

Thursday, November 21, 2013

This post is not sponsored, compensated, affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in any way. I just love sharing good products! 

At my job, I read a lot of research and articles decrying the small percentages of women in science, math, technology, & engineering (STEM) and how difficult it is to attract minorities to STEM fields when they have so few role models. This is especially troubling for me as the mom of a little black girl. Marlie shows a interest in natural science and computers. I want to encourage that, but most of the toys and games marketed to girls are dolls and princess paraphernalia. I don't mind if my daughter plays house or castle. I just want her to also have the option to play doctor and engineer too.

This holiday season I am seeing a host of girl-centric "maker" toys come onto the market and I am so geeked. There is hope! I present to you for your shopping consideration:

  • Roominate (age 6-10): the original wired dollhouse building kit. 
  • Dazzu Lighy Craft Studio (age 8+): Spice up craft projects with interactive lights that you program right from your computer, tablet or smartphone!
  • GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine (age 6-10): a series of interactive books + construction toys starring Goldie, a curious girl with a love of engineering. Goldie’s stories encourage girls to build, developing the spatial skills that are fundamental to engineering

These two aren't available yet, but you can pre-order and get a jump on next year's Christmas shopping!
  • StoryWalls (age 4+): constructible play-sets for girls from Build and Imagine. Get your budding architect these beautifully illustrated magnetic construction sets invented by mompreneur Laurie Peterson. They aren't available until summer 2014, but early backers can get special pricing and reserve play-sets.

  • Bo and Yana (age 5+): delightful robots that fuse play with programming for kids of all ages. Robots ship summer 2014, but you can reserve them and accessories now at special introductory price.

Wordful Wednesday: Bathtime Then & Now

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bathtime is the only time they don't whine or fight. Bless these 10 minutes of peace. 
June 2012
November 2013

Stock Up on Holiday Food Staples with Tetra Pak Goods #CartonSmart

Thursday, November 14, 2013

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Carton Smart for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

When I walk into the grocery store these days I see constant reminders that the holiday season is upon us. There are huge displays and aisle end caps filled to the hilt with pantry goods that I need to stock up on for all those holiday meals. I was fortunate to receive an organic Pacific Foods starter kit of chicken stock, pumpkin puree and cranberry sauce to get me going and help me Become Carton Smart

 photo 795e421d-1ec8-414e-b1b8-dde8f5f23ded_zps62983f0a.jpg  photo d1d52bb8-c150-4f19-9a7c-b8c9ab3c8df3_zpsac6b75dd.jpg  photo 62adf36b-e1dc-4d93-98c1-aa80d97a468d_zps600d562e.jpg

One cooking staple I am always running out of around the holidays is chicken stock. We use it for soup, gravy, stir-fry, and my favorite holiday dish...cornbread stuffing! No holiday dinner is complete until my husband places a dish of  southern cornbread stuffing on the table made with his mother's recipe. Her version calls for oysters (they are from the Gulf Coast) but we skip that ingredient and keep it simple.

Her recipe also calls for homemade chicken stock, but who has time for that?! It's amazing how many food products you can get in cartons from non-dairy beverages like almond milk to baked beans. This Thanksgiving, I am swapping the canned chicken stock we usually buy for a Pacific Foods carton of organic low-sodium chicken stock. I can already taste it the yummy goodness!

Pacific Foods starter kit

Tetra Pak® cartons are the smart choice for food staples. They are made from a renewable resource, are recyclable, and maintain the freshness of the food without preservatives. This fun infographic explains all the benefits of choosing a carton:

 photo 1898ca76-3272-4baf-a8df-07abf60e15e3_zps1bf425e9.jpg

How do you plan to reduce waste while entertaining this holiday season?

Share you tips and learn more on how to be #CartonSmart via Tweet @CartonSmart and Follow #CartonSmart on Pinterest.

Visit Sponsor's Site

eShakti Dresses Make Me Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The holiday season is upon us and that can only mean one thing...you need a unique holiday dress for all those dinner parties!

eShakti.com is at your service. It's like have a personal tailor because, not only do they offer a wide selection of women's dresses, tops and skirts in all styles from sizes 0-36W, they will customize almost anything to suit you!

I was having a tough time finding a dress to wear to a work fundraiser when eShakti offered to send me one! I narrowed down my choices to these three:

I ultimately chose the one on the right for the color and "forgiving" material. This ruffle cascade stretch crepe dress had my name written all over it.

This dress was perfect: the perfect color for the season, the perfect length for my petite frame. Plus, it is machine washable which is a bonus because this mama don't have time to run to the dry cleaner! Only one thing was missing...sleeves! So I added them! And here I am all dressed up for the fundraiser last Thursday:

I turned heads when I walked into the event that evening. People were stopping me to tell me how much they loved the dress. It put a pep in my step that night! Head over to eShakti.com and pick out something guaranteed to make you stand out from the party crowd this fall!

Turkey Alternative for Thanksgiving: Cross Rib Roast #FreshFinds

Monday, November 11, 2013

This is the first year that I am attempting to cook the main course for Thanksgiving dinner. In the past I made the side dishes and dessert while hubby handled the bird. Now I am stepping up to the plate, literally. I don't want to make the usual suspect so I started looking for alternatives to turkey at my local Lucky Supermarket.

I have been carefully planning the menu from the bottom up. I have roasted sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, sauteed green beans, cornbread stuffing, and yeast rolls. Everything will be homemade. The only thing missing from my menu was the main dish. After browsing the meat case, I settled on the cross rib roast and pick up one to practice on.

I couldn't help but notice the amazing Buy One Get One deal the Lucky Supermarket was running on turkeys. The BOGO sale will apply to the following meats from 11/13-11/26 so you can mix-and-match:
  • Riverside or Honeysuckle White Frozen Turkeys
  • Cooks Ham Portions
  • Master Cut Beef Cross Rib Roasts
  • Pork Shoulder Roasts
  • Honeysuckle Turkey Breasts

Lucky Supermarket BOGO Turkey #shop

This is a HUGE savings for larger families. For me, it means I can get a backup meat for free just in case I botch the first one! But hopefully that won't happen. That's why I am doing a trial run now.

Cross Rib Roast is usually made as a pot roast, but I find it can be oven roasted too if it is marinaded to tenderize and then slow cooked which produces a firm, but juicy piece of meat. I start by letting the cut sit in the refrigerator in a soy-ginger-garlic marinade for 24-48 hours (the longer the better the results). The marinade is:
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
soy ginger garlic marinade

The next step is to sear the meat on all sides in a pan on high heat. Place it in an oven bag with onions, carrots and fingerling potatoes. Put the bag in a roasting pan in the oven on 200 degrees until it reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees (medium). This will take several hours because the slow food method is all about not rushing. My 4 lb cross rib roast took 3.5 hours.

oven roasted cross ribpan seared rib roast

It turned out lovely! Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. The first slices were medium well and the inside slices were medium. You can definitely cook it  for less time if you prefer your roast rarer (to an internal temp of 125-130 degrees).

What are you making for Thanksgiving? The traditional turkey or will you opt for an alternative? Check out the Lucky Supermarket Fresh Finds Pinterest Board for inspiration!

Nano Poo Particles

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I am so over poop.

Desmond is 18 months and he shows zero interest in potty training. I know boys don't reach this milestone as quickly as girls, so I don't expect him to be out of diapers by age 2. But the boy won't even communicate that he has eliminated. He doesn't pat his bottom and say poo-poo. He doesn't even walk funny as if it bothers him. He just continues to eat, play or whatever until I sniff him from across the room (I have a bloodhound's nose).

Which leads me to my original statement. I am so over poop. More specifically, I am tired of smelling poop. I once read an article that said the smell of poop is actually tiny molecules of fecal matter reaching your olfactory receptors. Double Ew. I freaked myself out thinking about nano particles of poop trapped in my nose hairs. That article seriously disturbed me.

Potty training app screenshot 3
By Camiech (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I have been doing some internet research on how to gently coax little man onto the potty train or at least get him to let me know when he's soiled himself. Is there an app for that? I am open to advice. I need to figure out something pronto because he has started removing his dry diaper at night. He has already peed the crib twice. It's just a matter of time before we wake up to poo-smeared bedding. Then I will be scrubbing poo off the walls and thoughts of micro poo stuck in my nose from my mind. As my Jamaican grandmother would say, "Lawd take the case!"

Score the Best Fashion Discounts at Modnique!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Modnique.com is like no other discount fashion retail site. First off, it is HUGE! There are thousands of deals for the taking. I am not exaggerating when I say you will get lost in this site. This is what I saw when I landed on the homepage...dresses, earrings, and boots oh my!

Modnique landing page

When I became a mom I lost my fashion sense along with half my brain cells. But now I am in fashion recovery. I have been having a ton of fun lately rediscovering my personal style while shopping online. I call my new style mom chic, sensible clothing accentuated with fancy accessories like statement jewelry and bold print scarves. I like shopping online for the convenience, variety and deals so I gladly took Modnique.com up on their offer to shop their site.

Modnique lives up to their tag line, "fashion without borders" because they really go above and beyond handpicking designer brands at clearance prices. They have have everything for the whole family from Accessories to Zapatillas, as well as beauty products and home goods. Everything is brand name and on trend. If you are looking for luxury brands they got you covered. Up to 48% off of Tiffany and Co...?! It's like having a premium outlet mall at your fingertips!

Modnique Tiffany and Co. sale

I browsed Modnique.com for hours and got a crash course in international fashion. I learned about several global brands I hadn't heard of before like Jenrigo luxury handbags made in Italy. No one does leather handbags like the Italian designers! I drooled over this page for a good minute. As you can see popular items sell out on Modnique so you don't want to drag your feet:

Mondnique Jenrigo handbag sale

One thing I truly appreciate about Modnique.com (besides the knock-your-socks-off prices) is how well the site is organized. Each limited-time sale can be sorted by brand, size, color and price to help you narrow down your search and add to your cart even faster. It is a cinch to shop the retail section too because each category (Accessories, Apparel, Beauty, Jewelry, Shoes) is sorted by designer and then you can filter items by gender, style, size, and color. I would like to see a search box and a better scrolling bar to make site navigation even easier. There is also a daily deal that you must see to believe. I snapped up this pair of VENETIAURUM 24K gold plated silver two-toned Murano glass earrings valued $160 for $11!

Modnique VENETIAURUM Murano glass earrings dail deal
Here is what else I scored at Modnique.com. A gorgeous Shelby and Palmer Ruffle Dress perfect for work at 68% off. A cute Renee C. Sheer Printed Blouse great for Casual Fridays at 75% off. And a Papillon Multitone Peasant Dress to wear next spring/summer at 83% off. You see that "Make an Offer" Button? I used this to save another dollar on the blouse!

Modnique red tag sale

So here is what my shopping cart looked like. I bought four items and I didn't even use my entire gift certificate. Many Modnique items ship in 24 hours and shipping is always free for orders $99 and up. I cannot wait for my package to arrive:

Modnique shopping cart

You need to head over to Modnique and take advantage of their incredible savings for fashion mavens! Their 20 Days of Deals kicks off on November 7th. You can keep track of each day’s deal by either visiting Modnique, the Modnique blog, or the Modnique Facebook Page. Mark your calendar so you don't miss it!
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