Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mama Style: A Day at Disney


Now that it's "officially" Fall I am counting down the days permanent until cooler weather settles in thanks in great part to a ridiculous heatwave we Southern Californians had the last few months and also because that means it's almost time for the Holidays!! I am super excited about them this year as Baby Ninja is a bit older and has a better understanding of what all the fuss is about. I'm excited to show him all the beauty and wonder that the world has to offer around this time and one of my favorite things is going to Disneyland to see all the crazy fabulous decorations.
The Disneyland staff does it bigger and better every year and I'm kind of embarrassed to say we haven't been in years despite the fact that we don't live terribly far from the park. One of my favorite family memories is when D and I (along with 15+ other family members) took Sweet Pea for her 5th birthday. We had a blast and even though she was too small to experience some of my favorite rides it was pretty awesome to watch her little face light up at all the fun experiences, sights and sounds.
We also had the pleasure of taking her for the Halloween and then Christmas celebrations and she just marveled at all the twinkle lights and the parade and then, the piece de resistance.......SNOW! In So Cal!!
It's just so fabulous and I've been thinking that I want to take Baby Ninja this season so he can experience it and because I think we're long over due for a Disney day. It also helps that he's only recently discovered / developed a love for Mickey Mouse a(and subsequently Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) so I think the time is just right for our first to the house of mouse as a family of four.


Disney Day

The thing about going to Disneyland as a mom (and theme parks in general) is mastering the art of layered dressing. You know you're going to be there all day, getting on and off rides, chasing after the kids and consuming copious amounts of frozen lemonade and churros, so you want to be comfortable but you still want to look cute for all those precious family photos you'll be snapping. My go to look for any amusement park in cooler weather is always jeans, a tee and sneakers.
I get creative with my tee (always some cool graphic type) and try to keep the accessories to a minimum but obviously still be wearing something. No earrings makes me feel naked so those are a given but you never want to wear anything that may catch on a headrest or something.
A sweater is needed as the day turns into dusk and the weather grows cooler (a light jacket is also great for layering). Yet, another reason for the backpack. No one wants to lug a huge purse through the park and being mom means not only carrying my gear but that of everyone else too. And since we're out of the diaper bag stage but not yet into the no-need-for-anything-extra-except-jackets stage a decent size bag is a must. Lastly, a scarf is a practical just in case addition as you never know who might need an extra layer. Of course I'll probably top all this off with an additional layer and it varies between a leather moto jacket and a cargo jacket.

So many friends have already begun to experience the magic and post photos and I can't wait to share similar majestic moments with my crew!

Have you ever been to Disneyland / DisneyWorld during the Holidays? How was it?







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Friday, November 14, 2014

Mamanista Fridays: Fall Hat Edition



I love a good style link up and feel like I haven't done one in awhile since my style posts have been few and far between. I used to link up with The Pleated Poppy religiously every Wednesday as well as a few others but that kind of fell off in the last year as I've cut back a bit on the style posts as I've tried to get my head above water. Part of why I love to do them is for the inspiration and because I'm nosy and like to see what other people are wearing or how they style a trend. Rather, what their interpretation of a trend is. I love it when people can take one item and showcase it in so many ways. Gets my blood pumping.






However, I am always up for a challenge so when I see any of my favorite stylish bloggers are doing a link up, I try my best to join in. For this particular challenge I'm joining Trina and Araceily, aka The Baby Shopaholic and Mama Fashion Files  in rocking Fall hats.  I've always loved hats, thanks to spending many a Sunday in a mid-western Baptist church. I used to count hats to keep myself entertained as young girl. My grandma was a the queen of a fly church hat and had boxes of them in her closet. I'm still sad I only inherited one fabulous chapeau when she passed away.  As my hair has grown out over the last few years my hat love has grown since it no longer looks silly (in my eyes) when I wear a floppy wide brimmed hat or fancy fedora. But still I have a tiny head so it's kind of a struggle to find ones that fit and look cute.


Hat: Target (similar) // Bag: Steve Madden via Nordstrom  Rack // Jeans: Joe's  // Boots: Sole Society (similar) // Kimono: ASOS // Tee: Nordstrom Rack (similar)



However, recently I've lucked up and seen so many cute styles so when I saw what the challenge for this week was, fall hats, I was pumped. The temperature finally dropped here in So Cal so even though it's still pretty warm in the I.E. I was thrilled when the thermostat didn't get above 70 the other day. ( I know, some of y'all have snow. #sorrynotsorry) I could wear a hat AND rock my favorite kimono? Winning! Sure it might seem odd that I'm wearing what many consider a summer piece in fall but that's the whole point of transitional dressing right? Figure out a way to stretch your wardrobe? Done and done.




I've only worn this particular hat once since I bought it late last season (come to think of it, I may have even purchased it this year!ha!) as the weather just didn't call for it. I was also slightly put out that I didn't snag it in black as well but as luck would have it, the black version was in Target just yesterday! Yahhtzeee! Score one for the mom! I didn't break my no shopping for the season ban as this was already on my list of items to purchase when I found it.  So now I have two identical hats that I love that can add to my wardrobe and protect my hair from the elements.
Can't wait to see what next week's challenge is and if I can pull it off!



How do you protect your hair in the colder months?



























































































































Wednesday, November 12, 2014

DIY Beauty: Cinnamon Coffee Scrub


It's no secret that I'm a recovering beauty junkie. I love products of all kind and I used to spend hundreds of dollars like it was nothing on all manner of creams, potions and body washes galore. A few weeks ago some girlfriends and I were talking bath and beauty products and happened upon the subject of body scrubs and I mentioned that I had made my own in the past and that recently my friend Christie of Living Simplistically made a homemade soap with coffee. I was pretty impressed and for a brief moment wished I knew how to make soap. I love the idea of homemade beauty products and then I remembered how much I loved a coffee scrub that used to get from my girlfriends stores and thought, well I could try to make I that myself right? I mean , a few years ago I made brown sugar body scrubs for myself and a few girlfriends for Christmas so surely I can make a coffee version right? 


And I LOVE  the smell of coffee even if I don't drink it everyday and if I remember correctly it was a great way to start my day so, after a quick trip to Google, I immediately checked my kitchen to see what I had on hand and set to work playing around with additions. Obviously the coffee was a given as was the coconut oil but what else to add in? I remembered an infographic I'd seen about the effects of coffee + cinnamon on the body so I thought, what the hell. 
I planned to take the sane measurements I used on my sugar scrub and apply them to this version. But for me, the consistency was off so I went ahead and added some coconut sugar I have but never use. No time like the present right? 





Coffee is not only an excellent exfoliant, it's full of antioxidants and helps to tighten the skin and thusly reducing the appearance of cellulite when applied over time. The caffeine in the coffee draws out excess moisture in the skin causing it to look firmer and smoother   while the cinnamon helps clear skin by bringing blood to the surface. (thank you Google & Pinterest for all the infographics) Combined with the moisturizing coconut oil and the extra coarseness of the coconut sugar your skin will be baby soft post bathing. 





All you need are four simple ingredients and you're good to go. Seriously. Four. Ingredients. You probably have most of them already on hand. Oh and a jar to put it all in. 

  • 1/2 c ground coffee
  • 1/4 coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Combine coffee, coconut sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and if your coconut oil is in solid form melt it to get it to a liquid then mix it all together and voila! Feel free to substitute with the oil / sugar of your choice. You could also even sub with sea salt for a more coarse scrub. 





I'm kind of obsessed with how it turned out.  The consistency was fabulous and my skin felt amazing. Not too mention it was a great way to kick start my day after an intense workout. 
Added bonus? It was super simple and easy to make and shoot. (seriously I've been procrastinating on doing this for over a week and the whole thing took maybe 30 minutes. and that's including setting up the shots.) I may or may not be mass producing some of this for the holidays to give out because hello, everyone wants soft skin no? I think, yes!
So if we're friends and I breathlessly exclaim, "I have something for you!" don't be surprised if it's this.  Just sayin'.


Have you ever made your own beauty products? Would you make this one? 























Monday, November 10, 2014

Weekend Style:Making Fall Happen





Have you ever been inspired by a look that someone else wore and then gone about replicating it in your own way? That happened to me a few months ago. My friend Andrea wore this really cute printed dress and it resonated with me. I loved the colors, vibrant pattern and length so when I happened to be in Forever 21 with Sweet Pea a few weeks later I had the opportunity to peruse the racks and my eye lingered on the chevron print. Once I tried it on I was totally sold. It fell in line with my vision and I had at least 6 different ways to style it for each season in my head and knew I had the perfect boots for my first look. To say I was happy with my purchase is an understatement.





I never had a chance to wear it until a few weeks when we went to brunch by the water. My godmother has been out of state staying with my god-sisters while she recuperated from surgery and I haven't seen her in several months so when I heard she was going to be in town I checked the calendar to see what day we had free so I could give her a squeeze. She's one of my most favorite people of all time. Her daughters are too. They live not too far from each other in the same town in the Midwest and I miss them terribly. Whenever we get together we always have a good time and I've learned so much over many, many shared meals over the years. In some ways I feel as though, everything I am as a woman I learned from them. They shaped how I viewed the world as a young black woman without my realizing it. Along with my mother and her other stylish friends, Terri & Mysh were my role models and sort of blue-printed how life was 'expected' to go for me. I love them fiercely and whenever they would come to town it felt like a holiday (being that they're about 16 years older, a lot of my life they were away at school) and the feeling continues. I think it's because we know our time together is limited and we try to make the most of it.


So on Sunday we met at a local hometown favorite Schooner or Later for brunch (read drinks) and then headed over to 2nd street for homemade ice cream, a little shoe shopping (for my mother) and playtime with the trains for the boy. The weather was perfect and it made me happy to be back in my hometown with my own little family.  Over brunch I shared with them some photos I'd dug up from years past and we all got a good laugh over some of the outfits and squealed with delight when discovering images of relatives long gone.
It was yet another sweet Sunday that filled my soul and propelled me toward the week ahead. 


The weather is also being quite fickle and taunting us with hints of fall with cooler mornings and evenings but still warming up nicely in the afternoons. I was happy to toss on this cute dress and these FABULOUS boots for the mid 70 degree weather. And while I'm at it, let me tell you about these boots. One of my other favorite people gave them to me awhile back. I'm lucky enough to share the same shoe size as a few of my closest friends and even luckier that we have similar taste in shoes. She bought boots she didn't love and after finding a replacement pair she sent these lovelies to me. I'm ever so happy that she did. I love them so much and I have many outfits planned around them already. Now, I just wish the weather would cooperate with my vision.


What's the weather like in your neck of the woods? 















Monday, November 3, 2014

A Taste Of France in the Heart of Cognac



A few weeks ago my friend Xenia posted a link about a tasting experience for Remy Martin and I was immediately intrigued. Being that it was D's birthday month and I'm all about prolonging the celebration I quickly hopped over to see what it was all about. Initially, I was a little bummed at seeing their were only weekdays available for what sounded like an interesting experience, but then I remembered we're grown ups and it's his birthday so the party don't stop.
My husband and his friends are somewhat connoisseurs of cognac so I reached out to his best friend and his wife to see if they were available to go out on a school night as well. As luck would have it, they were and I was super excited to have yet another fun experience with my man. Making time out for dates is very important to us and I was happy to have another couple to share the evening with as we all enjoy each other's company and the boys have been friends for so long they've pretty much created their own language so it was guaranteed to be a good time.


I looked up the #HeartofCognac hashtag prior to going to get a feel for what was in store but the photos were a little all over the place and I couldn't quite get a read on it. When we arrived (albeit late) , we checked in and were given drink tokens as we were led into a cocktail reception. We wasted no time heading to the bar to try one of the evening's signature drinks.


 I'm not much of a cognac drinker but am always down to try so I had the V.S.O.P + Ginger (because I do like ginger ale) I kind of wished I'd been able to try the Royal Sidecar as well as that sounded yummy.  Naturally we hopped in the photo booth before it was time to head back and see what was behind door #1.




We were offered a tasting of the V.S.O.P , encouraged to take a sip and leave the rest for later as we were led into what looked like a sterile tasting room. The first portion of the experience was a full blown lab quality tasting set up. There were beakers, measuring tubes and glasses for tasting. Our assignment: using the aged selections before us try to recreate the V.S.O.P we had before us. Ryan, our Remy Martin brand ambassador explained to us the process in creating the precise V.S.O.P blend and gave us a hint as to which vial might be used the most but left it up to us to determine the exact amounts.  Of course hilarity ensued as we erroneously created our own versions as our proportions were WAY off on the first try and subsequently felt like we swallowed fire when tasting.







We then moved on to the next room where we learned more about the "Heart of Cognac" and what the term meant and then finally on to the final room set up to resemble the barrel rooms where the cognac is stored and aged. It was there we tasted the X.O. and were able to see how they actually extract the cognac from the barrels. Did you know that the first Remy Martin Grande Champagne was created on the road to the heart of Cognac in 1830? And in this instance, Champgane is referred to the type of soil needed for the grapes to thrive in to create these Remy Martin blends. Yes, Cognac is made from grapes! Who knew? Petite & Grande, the two best growth areas of the Cognac region of France, are the sole areas where grapes are derived in order to create 100% Remy Martin’s cognacs. The grapes are harvested then fermented for approximately 5-7 days  to create a 7-9% white wine and then distilled. When makeing the eaux-de-vie (waters of life) classical methods are still used which is what gives the Remy Martin Cognac it's smell and flavor. The eaux-de-vie is then transported in large oak barrels to age. The barrels contribute to the vanilla like flavor in some of the cognacs and Remy Martin ages their eaux-de-vie longer than required by law to contribute to their distinct taste, smell and quality of their products. The group who got the correct measurements was allowed to extract some of the cognac directly from the barrel and we were all given at taste. Pretty sure my husband's eyes rolled into his head as soon as the sweet nectar hit his lips. And even I had to admit it was pretty smooth and there was no 'after burn' as I've previously experienced.



We had such a fun evening, learning and tasting and I now have a new appreciation and understanding of cognac. My husband enjoyed his experience as did our friends and we're pseudo planning a trip to France to have a tour of the facility ourselves so we were thankful to be able to spend some time chatting post event with Ryan about some of the tours that take place at the Remy Martin facility in Cognac, France before we had to go relieve our babysitters. I loved sharing that experience with D and our friends and it definitely made the week go by much faster!




Are you a cognac drinker? Have you ever been to an experience like this?





















Friday, October 24, 2014

'Aint no thang but a Chicken Wang + Beer


I love celebrating birthdays (most specifically mine) but also for my people. I also love to host gatherings and see nothing wrong with having a house full of friends and their children on a regular basis. My husband on the other hand..... well, he's not always such a huge fan. He enjoys having friends over but there's always a bunch of work that has to be done around the house to get party ready and for some reason we seem to decide to do projects around the house beforehand and that eats into the prep+cleaning time and then we're scrambling on the day of.


However, despite his not so serious protests we cleaned up the house and gathered some folks for a fun afternoon of all the things my man loves. Food, friends, football and of course.....beer.
While our wine palates have grown in the last few years, I've never been a fan of beer. I've "tried" a few over the years and have immediately shaken my head and looked for something else to wash it down with upon tasting. But my man likes beer, rather, he enjoys beer and the many varieties thereof. I'm not mad at that.
I've had it in the back of my mind for some time that I wanted to host a wine / beer. Particularly since we now have the space for it. So what better way to combine my long awaited party ideas with his love of beer, football and celebrate his birthday in a low key way?





When I first dreamed up the idea all I could picture was kraft paper covering the table but I was wavering on what to serve when Sweet Pea suggested brunch and then I thought "Yes! Waffle bar! But wait, does that go with beer? We need something savory..." Thusly the chicken + waffle beer bash was born. I'm not going to lie, I tend to get a little over-excited when it comes to party planning and had to remind myself that this was a 'man-bash' and therefore could not be covered in golden sparkles.  So I decided to keep things really simple for myself and and stick with a neutral theme and let the food take center stage.




Of course Pinterest played a key factor in giving me ideas on decor, set up and even invitation wording but mainly for recipes. Because I know my limitations and have learned from the ghosts of parties past, I decided I would only make 3 things the day of, the sausage and waffles. I purchased the chicken wings from Albertson's (my fried chicken struggle is real) as well as chicken tenders for the chicken + waffle sliders.




You may remember my excitement when the Witt + Delight collection for Target hit stores, as they had a tasting kit already created! One less thing I had to make!  All we had to do was open and set it up! Done and done! The fellas were impressed with the set up and I was impressed they actually took the time to write down their opinions.




For some reason I like to try out new recipes when I'm entertaining and I never think about what could go wrong or what I'll do if it doesn't turn out, well, not too much anyway. So I decided to bake mini Apple Cider donut holes. The recipe seemed easy enough and while they didn't exactly look like they did in the original recipe, they were damn delicious. I will be making more this week.

(recipe note: I subbed coconut oil for butter and they turned out great!)

And of course we had to have some kind of dessert!! Y'all know I love to bake somebody happy and hosting parties is pretty much an excuse to break out a new cupcake recipe and I have about a million on my list left to try. However, this was  manly bash and I didn't want to do anything too overwhelmingly sweet or girlified that would clash with the vibe. So maple bacon cupcakes were definitely in order. The combination of the sweet & savory candied bacon, maple buttercream frosting and butter cake were spot on with chicken and beer.


I also made a banana pudding poke cake for my man because he LOVES banana pudding and cake. And well, I don't like a banana nothin' and have been promising to make this cake for at least the last two years. But I always somehow 'forget' or we end up making something else and I've been feeling kind of bad about that. Well, this past Sunday it finally happened. He was thrilled to say the least and even offered to share some with his friends, which was even more impressive. 


I have to say, we have a great group of friends who always show up for my man and I love how everyone can come hang out and not have to be 'entertained'. D kept wondering (aloud) what we were going to do with the kids while the guys were watching football and I just shook my head. I keep it old school, so if you're little and you come to my house, just know you're heading outside if the weather permits (and let's face it; this is southern California, it's rare that you can't be outside!) so be prepared to get dirty!! Ha! It was a glorious day for hanging with friends and I couldn't have been happier. Dirty floors, house full of folks and kids running everywhere but my heart was full to burstin'. This is what I love.








Happy 38th Birthday D!!!








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