Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How to Host A Killer Mom's Night On A Budget

Gathering a group of girlfriends together once you have kids can sometimes be a struggle. I don't mean getting together for coffee or brunch dates with local friends (and by local I mean within a 10-20 minute drive) in the middle of the week. I'm talking about a full evening of letting loose with the ladies, sans kids and significant others.  A few hours to talk and mingle with other mothers who get it, and who also enjoy the idea of eating "fancy" hors d'oeuvres while sipping wine & champagne and not having to cut anyone's food.

A mom's night out is a glorious thing y'all. But it doesn't have to be this over the top catered event like what you see on the Real Houswives of Wherever. In reality, the #housewifethuglife keeps it 100 and works with a budget that's more realistic to the rest of the world. I love my ladies but I can't ball out the way I'd like so I do my best to work with what I got. Fortunately my homegirls are just grateful for the night out to giggle so hard they fall out of they're chairs so they're not too concerned if the place is perfect.

Last week I gathered some of my faves for a few hours of laughter and libations. It was a "lituation", for real.

The really dope part is that I did it all for under $200. It actually cost me approximately $160 (give or take a few necessary household item purchases) to host 15 ladies. And now I'm sharing my secrets with you. Because I'm kind like that I think that every mom should have a night in with her friends. 

1) Go to Pinterest for inspiration. Then take those ideas and  figure out reasonable hacks. I love a good homemade whatever just as much as the next person but aint nobody got the time (or money) to run around for specialty ingredients for one solitary dish. But don't get carried away by trying to do all the cool ideas. If it's not feasible for you to have luxe faux furs strewn about, nix it and figure out another move. 

2) Trader Joe's is key.  Seriously. They have so many options for party snacks and in a variety of health requests depending on your guests dietary needs plus they have flowers and libations so you're pretty much covered all around. Say YES to all the cheese. Trust me on this. Plus it's a great way to try out all those snacks and treats you see but never buy because they're too "frivolous" and you know the kids won't eat them. 

3) Keep it simple with champagne & wine. Y'all know I love a good cocktail. But when hosting an event, the cost of purchasing all the liquor or specialty ingredients to make a killer cocktail can add up. Particularly if you get caught up in the Pinterest web. You can also encourage guests to bring a bottle of their own they have lying around (IF they have any lying around) and then people get yet another way to try something they might not have otherwise tried! Double win!

4) Over invite, but keep the final guest list short. I know you want to invite the world. Trust me I do too, but the only way to keep it on budget is to stick to a limit. Also, just know that not everyone will show up. Even if they RSVP yes, life happens. So make that short list a good mix of people from all facets of your life, and not just the ones who all know each other either. What fun is it if everyone is into the same thing and knows all the same people? 

5) Outsource what you can: Got a homegirl/ mom-friend who rocks at making sweet treats? See if she's willing to whip something up! Same thing goes for anything else you can think of. Does anyone have a wicked playlist? Have them bring that over and rock out. Let your friends get in where they fit in and let the good times roll! People will ask you what/if they can bring anything so have something in mind that will benefit not only you but the whole party!

6)Pics or it didn't happen: So I know having a photo booth is all the rage and I fully recommend documenting the evening in some way. But when you're ballin on a minimal budget you might not be able to work that out. There are some dope options like the HP Sprocket printer, to instantly print out photos from your phone without the whole booth set up and pricey payment. Another fun thing is to create a hashtag for the event and have your friends use that when/if they plan to post on social media. 

7) Light it up: Okay, so an easy cheat to decorating on a budget? String lights. Seriously. And banners of any kind. Put them up everywhere for a festive feeling and watch people smile when they see them. I have one for almost every type of party and they never fail to cause a smile. Tea lights and candles of all sizes add ambiance and elevate the mood.

8) Get giggly with games. You don't have to break out the Taboo and get into teams but having conversation starter cards and a fun active game like Jenga on hand can help break the ice and get the ladies loosened up. As the evening carries on break out the Cards Against Humanity and watch hilarity ensue. 

In the end, your friend won't care how much you spent or how well you cleaned before hand. What they will remember is how much they laughed and enjoyed themselves while taking time for much needed self-care. With any luck they'll even walk away with a few new friends and hopefully you can set a date for the next shindig right then and there! 

What are your favorite budget party tips?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Take Care: 5 Tips for Selfcare When You’re The Caregiver

It seems as though you spend your entire young life waiting to 'grow up' and "be grown". But no one tells you what adulthood actually looks like. When you're young and not indoctrinated to the ways of the grown folks, it all seems like it's super easy. You go to work, come home, eat some dinner, go to bed and do it all over again, occasionally you get together with friends and perhaps add in a spouse and throw some kids into the mix for good measure. That's where life starts to get a little more complicated. But no worries because you've sort of got this adult thing down. Right?
What else is there left to tackle?
Then you get a phone call that stops you dead in your tracks and causes your heart and mind to leave your body and brain explode all at once. Except you're still holding the phone hearing that something has happened to a loved one. More often than not it's a parent or older sibling and when that happens it can turn your whole world upside down. I know because it's happened to me. It's still happening to me. And it doesn't get any easier.
They never tell you that part of becoming an adult means at some point you will have to care for one of your parents in some way. Or at least I never really thought of it like that. I remember when my grandmother was dying of cancer and how my mother and aunts rallied around her for the last few months taking turns shouldering the burden/ blessing of being her caregivers when they could. For as long as they could.
Funny how I never saw that for myself. I've known my dad was diabetic for over 20 years and yet it never really hit home that my brother and I would one day be in charge. Or rather be the ones making the "important" decisions when the time came.
And then it happened. In 2014 I got the phone call I'd been anticipating but also dreading. My father was in the hospital with congestive heart failure. He'd barely made it in time. I could barely keep it together. Luckily my brother got on the next thing smoking and swooped in to save me from my over active worst case scenario imagination and handle things. This last time, it's been all me. And I'm handling it the best I know how being that we are being hit from ALL sides right about now. One of my sister-in-loves is also battling two forms of cancer and the whole family is shuttling around right now taking shifts with her and checking in with her son as well. It has felt like a LOT for a long while now.

The odd thing is, when people ask me about my father I have no problem telling them how he’s doing and some of the progress he’s making but then a lot of folks are also asking how I’m doing. And the answer is I don’t know. Okay I guess.
I’m doing the most with what I can and running back and forth has been taking a toll on me as well as my household. But I’m managing. So, that’s good enough right?
Nah. Not really.
Thankfully my squad has been faithful in reaching out and reminding me to take time for me and do the things that need to be done, in time. Basically, reminding me to breathe each day.
And I thought – well since there isn’t really a “manual” on this, I should probably write about what’s working for me and what could possibly help you through a similar situation. So here are my top five tips for
1) Stay hydrated. With water, not just coffee or sodas/juices. I often have to remind myself of this in times of stress and I have one homegirl who checks in daily to make sure I’m drinking enough water and not trying to subsist on caffeine alone. Remembering to feed yourself is also key. You’d be surprised how quickly the day can go by and you’ll find you haven’t eaten anything beyond a slice of bacon and a handful of crackers.
2) Talk with other people who have gone through it. Having an aging parent or family member for whom you are now their caregiver is like some secret club that no one wants to be a part of so no one is out there expressing they’re members. But AARP has a Caregiving Community that is full of resources and information for those in search of answers and insight.
3) Get out and touch somebody. That came out creepier than was intended. In this digital age, we connect in various ways through technology but there is nothing like face to face contact with a girlfriend or family member to help clear your mind and get you feeling back to “normal”. Go workout, grab a coffee or talk a long quiet walk through Target. Treat yourself and get a mani/pedi. Whatever you need to do to get back to center. Do it.
4) Laugh until you cry. Not only will the release be great for your body but the need for levity in times of uncertainty are infinite. Often times the internet and social media can be a great brief distraction for an entertaining clip or story. Check in with your funny friends too and let them regale you with stories about their daily life as well as try to find the humor in everything. Trust me it’s there. I have laughed more while in the hospital corridor than I care to admit.
5) Make sure to sleep. Listen- the urge to stay up late to fit in all the things you missed while you were going to appointments and talking to doctors is strong, I get it. However, you’ll be no good to anyone if you don’t get some rest and try to maintain some semblance of a “normal” sleep schedule.

I am sort of weird in a crisis. I don’t really panic; I sort of slow down and shut down while I process, so it’s been helpful to find out there are places I can go for support. Actually, there are quite a few resources through AARP as they also have care guides that focus on specific struggles like caring for a family member with cancer and caring for a loved one at home, which is basically like: HOW DO YOU KNOW MY LIFE? What the what? Thanks for that though!  Having resources available has been invaluable to my brother and I as we navigate this new territory.
The important thing is that we should know that we’re not alone. I’ve had so many people in my immediate circle and my online community reach out to check on me and see if I need anything or if they can help in some way. And because one of my love languages is Acts of Service, my cup runneth over by their offers of dinner, cases of wine and late night chats as needed. It’s amazing to realize that as hard as you’ve been pulling for your community that they’re also willing to rock with you in the same manner. That’s a gift I don’t take lightly. I’ve also realized that this time with my dad is also a gift. Our time together is more concentrated and focused as he’s rehabbing and I am conscious of being on my phone or otherwise “distracted” when spending time with him. Going to his therapy sessions have helped me have a better appreciation for my own body as well as what my mother and her siblings dealt with.
The circle of life is real y’all. We all end up caring for one another at some point but we have to remember that while doing so WE also have to take care.

Do you have any family members that you’re currently caring for? How do you self -care when times are tough?

Monday, November 14, 2016

5 Perks Of Becoming An Early Riser

One of my favorite feeds on Instagram is my girl LaShawn of Everyday Eye Candy I have mad of respect for her ability to get up at the ass crack of dawn each day and still create quality content at the same time. I mean damn. She legit makes me want to have coffee and breakfast each day. If y'all aren't following her you should. Naturally, I scoffed at the concept of how getting up early could be so amazing for me as a wife, mother and business owner. Who wants to do that? What's the fun in being up for HOURS before everyone else and not hitting the snooze button two or three times before finally rolling out of bed? It's dark, it's cold, no thank you! 
I spent years getting up stupid early to catch a train to school, work, or to hop on the freeway and trying to get back into that same frame of mind seemed like a battle I had no interest in fighting.  But I've got secret I must confess: Lately, I've been doing that weird thing where I get up early too. 
I know....I totally drank the kool-aid and have bought into the idea that being an early riser will aid in my daily productivity. Because it totally has.  Here's how:

1) I prep lunches the night before and finish up in the morning. I'm lazy AF by nature but I'm organized thanks to my mild OCD but also easily distracted. Getting up earlier has given me the space to have a 'bad/slow' morning and not freak out because lunches weren't made.

2) I start my morning with green tea and a little mindful meditation. Cheesy as it is, there is something magical about being up before the rest of the world. Quiet house, quiet mind, preparing for the day. Namaste.

3) Yoga is still bae. It's been a while since I even attempted a daily practice but it's been beneficial for both my mind and my body to stretch it out at least two days a week. Doing it in the dark brings about serenity and clarity as well as hope for the day. Hoping a new yoga mat( and pants) will increase my motivation to keep it up!

4) List making without distraction. Getting up before the sun allows me to clearly state my intentions for the day with my list rather than my day making my list in my head as I scramble looking for Baby Ninja's other shoe. It also gives me a jump start on my day and the ability to add to it if someone else has a request that I've forgotten. 

5) I feel like a badass. No, for real I do. Getting up early is not fun. I'd be lying if I said it was. However, getting shit done hella early and still having the whole day to tackle my regular  work/life schedule makes me feel like a boss. Even better are the mornings I've made breakfast for everyone, worked out and gotten a head start on my work day. I may feel like I need a nap around noon but dammit if I'm not moonwalking into my evening with ease thanks to my early start. 

For years I fought this idea. I am NOT a morning person. Not by a long shot. It takes me a while to fully wake up and be ready to go so the idea of getting up while it's still zero dark thirty (particularly when it's cold out) is not high on my list of life tasks. But I kept feeling like mayyyyybe I was missing out on something? I am and I'm not. It's a crap shoot. Getting up before 6am is still an adjustment and I still hit the snooze button a few times before stumbling out of the bedroom, but once I'm up, I'm on a roll and then I have the coffee and then......well there's no stopping me at that point. 

Are you an early riser? What helps you get a head start on the week?

Monday, November 7, 2016

How VELCRO® Brand Products Saved Halloween

Halloween was last week and I was totally prepared until a family emergency took me away from my house and my weekend "plans". By the time Monday rolled around I had barely slept let alone finalized Sweet Pea's costume  when I suddenly remembered that Baby Ninja's get up was a tad too big. And while I could do something about the outfit by simply rolling the waist, the belt was another story. 

It already had an adjustable closure which was awesome but it wasn't long enough for what I needed and because the clock to trick or treat was ticking like crazy, I had to get creative. And I was adamant about not cutting any part of it. 
Enter the VELCRO® Brand Products swag I scored at BlogHer this past August! I just KNEW there was something in that pouch that would help me solve my dilemma. I also didn't want to hot glue any thing to the belt either lest, I was stuck with that as he grew larger. And we all know that the test of a good Halloween costume is how many times they wear it before and after the holiday. Last year's Optimus Prime was only recently retired and simply because it was just too too short.

But lucky for me, there were these cool One-Wrap Ties inside my little bag. And once again I thanked my chatty self for stopping by the VELCRO® Brand booth a second time to get more information (and a few more samples). Granted, they are supposed to be used for cable management and I totally plan on doing that, but let me just tell you, they worked like a dream. I absolutely felt like MacGyver Mama while I tested out my creation. 

It totally worked! I'm happy to report the belt stayed put all night, through running up and down the street and some serious super Baby Ninja moves! It was such a relief after a hectic weekend to have one less thing to worry about and just let the kids enjoy their candy and silly fun.

Sometime's a mama's gotta get creative and it doesn't always have to involve hours lost on Pinterest to do it! 

Have you ever had to MacGyver something as a mama?

*this post is NOT sponsored but part of #Nablopomo and I simply wanted to share my excitement for how I made use of a product. 

It's Been A Week


It's crazy to think things were all good about a week ago. But then again, I guess they weren't really. 
Last Saturday, October 29, my dad had a stroke some time in the morning. He managed to reach out to me and in turn, I called both my brother and the paramedics & jammed down to the hospital. It was the longest drive back to the neighborhoods I grew up in I've ever had. Seeing my dad back in a hospital bed with leads attached was jarring to say the least. Having him become upset over my concern was heartbreaking.  It's been a ridiculous roller-coaster ride of emotions and I've felt slightly unhinged for days. 

I've always been a Daddy's girl, and he my right hand man. We've been known to chat on the phone several times a week and still find new things to discuss. I used to half-joke that we all know I'm not wrapped too tight and that if anything ever happened to my dad, they'd need to put me in a padded cell for awhile and then two years ago he wound up in the hospital and I was panicked but I dealt(not very well I might add). That time my brother quickly hopped a flight from the ATL and we worked it out. More him than me. Because reasons. 
But this time, this time it's really been all me. And it seems surreal that it's barely been a week and we've all somehow made it through. I made it through. Without, my older sibling or my aunt coming to my rescue.
Sure, I'm behind on SO MUCH work and my house needs a good run of the vacuum and toilet scrubbing but, thanks to my dope ass tribe of familia, homegirls and friends via a slew of texts, DM's and threats to send cases of wine I was able to keep pushing through. 
At some point the starkness of my reality hit and everything came crashing down and I did a serious wall slide into self despair but then I re-read some of those texts and DM's and took it upon myself to get up, get out and do something. My dad requested, even while dealing with his own health, that I buy myself & the kids something to make up for me being gone so much. So I did.

It has felt like a lifetime but has barely been 7 days. I am mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted but I am here. I made my dad laugh on day 4, a deep belly laugh that caused a whole smile to stretch across his face and it made my heart swell and my eyes water. He's still here. No matter what he's dealing with, he's still HERE. So I'm going to make the most of this time.
I'm taking all the pictures and I want to know all the stories, in whatever way he can manage to tell them.  And when my brother makes it out here we'll work things out once again. 
There is a long road ahead for my dad and for us as we figure out the subsequent steps to recovery but I'm taking it one day at a time the only way I know how.
And to think, it was all good about a week ago.

Call your parents y'all. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Fall Trends: Mixing Metallic Into Your MamaStyle

 The other day I was scrolling through Instagram creeping on everyone business and shenanigans and stumbled across a stunning (to me) metallic silver pleated skirt via Curly.Edgy .
I immediately tagged my shopping partner in crime and she then text me a photo of similar version at H&M.
Except it wasn't quite as twirly as I would want it to be. So that was a hard pass for me. Go big or go home right?

seriously? could her outfit be any more casual cool?

I've stated that I'm committed to only buying what I absolutely love (if I buy anything) and then only if I can come up with at least three ways to wear it. So while I've sort of had my eye on a metallic skirt, I wasn't 100 percent committed to searching for one. A few days later, I was again taking a work break and scrolling IG and came across @awedbymoni  in this effortlessly fly silver and gold number and I got lost in the sauce.

I. MEAN!! 

After a quick trip down the rabbit hole of the internet searching for one that might suit both my sartorial tastes and my meager budget, I realized I wasn't the only one who might benefit from a little metallic magic. Moms wear metallics too! 
But a lot of my readers, while courageous in their own rights when it comes to their style, many of them are mothers (both millennial and not, new and seasoned) and might find it hard to figure out how to mix metallics into their current mama style. When one of your daily questions is: "where did this stain come from?" you want to make sure you're not wasting your wardrobe coins on frivolous purchases.
Never fear my dears, as always I am here to walk you through whatever fears you might be harboring.

First things first, you have to decide on how much shine you want to bring. There are a myriad of ways to add a little shine to your swag. You can start small with a bag or sneakers. Or even a golden beanie to get you in the spirit. Then by all means, move on to pants, skirts and dresses. One of my favorite items I found was a metallic bomber jacket that would set off any outfit and take it next level!! Because I don't want to overwhelm you all at once Friday I'll be back with details on specific items and how to incorporate them into your daily style. But until then, how do you feel about metallic's for fall?

Are you willing to find a way to work them into your wardrobe or nah? 


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