Thursday, December 19, 2013

To Bey or not to Bey

I need to get a few things off my chest in regards to this new Beyonce album. I’ll start by saying that I absolutely love it. So, you'll have to take my word when I say that these opinions are not coming from a biased place.  I pride myself on being an honest critic. By no means am I always right, but I often times critique my favorite artists harder than those that I am not so fond of, and still…I am in love with Beyonce’s surprise, self-titled album. I find nuances and elements in it that enlighten and surprise each time I listen.

With that said, it is really disheartening to read these articles and blog posts, most of which are written by women, bashing the album and calling it anti-feminism, “bottom bitch feminism” and misogynistic. One of the main arguments (and only argument where I can even begin to slightly see validity) is that “Drunk In Love” is a misogynistic song that strips her of the strength she has shown in previous releases like “Irreplacable” and “Single Ladies”.  NONONO! You're not getting it, ladies!

I woke up this morning to a Huffington Post blog post shared on my Facebook feed asking how Beyonce has gone from Tina Turner to Anna Mae. Are you kidding? And on top of that, one of the main sources of back-ups for such a claim is a lyric that Beyonce herself did not even say or write:

Jay Z:
“Baby know I don't play, now eat the cake, Anna Mae
Said, "Eat the cake, Anna Mae!"

If any of you have seen the film “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, then you recognized this reference immediately. And you also know what an abusive, disgusting human being Ike Turner was to my girl Tina.  So Jay Z says this on "Drunk In Love" and now Beyonce is a "drunk, profane woman"?! Drunk AND profane, though? Beyonce lets her HUSBAND pen his own lyric and spit it on her song and she is now promoting abuse? NONONO! Number 1, Rap is like 90% metaphor. I am not going to graphically explain sexual acts on my blog, but if Jay Z is talking about beating anything on Beyonce, I promise you it is not necessarily something that she would not enjoy…catch my drift? ALSO, let’s talk about how she allowed him on her song, just another way she has indirectly shared her sexuality, as a woman, with the world. Something we, as a culture, are clearly not ready for.

Question: If said lyric was on a Jay Z album, with absolutely no connection to Beyonce, would it be getting such backlash? I venture to guess that it would not, but I’ll leave that open for debate.

Here’s where I REALLY get pissed. Beyonce decided to get drunk and express how sexually attracted she is to her husband, and now she is Anna Mae and not Tina Turner. GET REAL! She’s weak because she is in a relationship where she feels comfortable enough to release all inhibition and let her guard down? Is that what we are saying? Keep in mind, this is the same woman who was Crazy in Love in 2003, but we weren't as sensitive back then, I guess. Let’s also keep in mind that she’s been singing about the same man since then. Now, how many of us can say that? 

Woo! Gotta take a pause. I'm getting all up in my feelings here.

Now, let’s listen to the rest of the album and watch the liberating videos. Where are the articles about “Pretty Hurts”? ….??? Oh, Ok. But don't worry, a Daily Mail reporter did comment on her trim waist in the video, so there's always that...

tisk, tisk people!

I’ll say, a few months ago when she initially released “Bow Down” I was a little perplexed. Disappointed even.  But I’ve done my research (and you should too because she has addressed it),  and after hearing what she did with it on “***Flawless”, I’m okay with it. But again, that’s my opinion. Think what you will.

Beyonce’s album may not be full of the club hits that we are used to hearing from her. There may not be an anthem where we get to exercise our directional knowledge and point and sway to the left, to the left. What there is though, is a woman expressing her desires, her fears, her loves, her wants, her dreams. She shows us her “fatty” because she wants to. 

Where were all of these articles when Jay Z was big pimpin’ and spending Gs?

I’m so over my fellow women not wanting to be stereotyped and wanting to be treated as equals to men (who are allowed to show and speak on their sexual desires), but when one of us steps up to plate, steps out on a ledge, takes a leap, breaks a wall, does her thing…we hate. HATERS.

Don't Hate.

That is all.


Monday, December 16, 2013

S.O.S.

Tis' the season...and no I don't mean Christmas. I mean the season when the gym becomes the most unappealing destination on this planet. I abhor the mere idea if getting off work and going anywhere other than to my apartment. I just want to put on a sweatshirt, enjoy my gas forced heat and watch shameless amounts of Netflix with a glass of wine in hand. 


Now,  those close to me know that I am a pretty health conscious person. I indulge, believe me. Sometimes, I am even a little over indulgent...if that's even possible. Somethings are just meant to be devoured. Yeah, I said it. Sue me! 

No, but in all seriousness, I am  passionate about food tasting delectable, yet being good for you. I am a pinning fool, and you'll notice that about 95% of my recipes are the lighter versions of crowd favorites. This girl likes to EAT. But my thighs just won't allow me to do so without paying for it, so I compromise with myself..."FINE, SELF! I'll use the greek yogurt in place of the sour cream. HAPPY?!"

All of this healthy eating aside, this girl has a serious aversion to portion control. That coupled with my recent diagnosis of gymphobia is not a recipe for anything I've found on my "Yummies" board. 

WHAT'S A GIRL TO DO?! 

..................

That was not a rhetorical question. I am seeking some guidance here! I was a running fool this summer. I would run, on average, about 20 miles a week. For some, that may not be much, but for me that. was. EPIC. Now, I'm lucky if I run 8 miles. I JUST DON'T WANNAAAAAA! Instead, you can find me standing in front of my mirror insulting myself. Ugh!

So, what do you do to stay motivated during these winter months filled with cookies, candies and all of the other things that I love? Share your wisdom, oh workout gods!




P.S. In an effort to spice up my lazy winter months with some exciting goodies to motivate fitness, I've made a recent order from iherb.com. A nifty little health site I discovered through the fit bloggers I follow on Insta. Honestly, if you are into supplements, protein bars, shakes, beauty, skin care...you name it! Check this site out...and get $5-$10 off your first order with this code: WHF223. Seriously works! I used my friends code for my first order, and only spent $33 for mutliple items!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Event Planning 101: How to NOT Lose Your Mind!

Many of you may or may not know, from my previous post, that I was recently (as in the event just happened this past Sunday) a part of an event planning team for a small theatre company here in Chi-Town. Event planning has been an interest of mine that I have placed on the back burner for a while now, with performing taking precedence. Since theatre hasn't exactly been my friend lately, I thought that this was as good a time as any to get my feet wet a bit. And who better to stretch my event planning muscles with than a theatre company! Talk about marrying your passions, right?!  Having worked as a Booking Agent in the past, I was able to learn a bit about certain components required to pull an event off...but the idea of taking it from the brainstorming stage and watching it through until we were live at the event was uncharted territory, but a challenge I had always wanted to conquer. 

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

And a challenge it was. Aside from an amazing venue space and a hard working team, we really had to cultivate this baby from the ground up! Working with a minimal budget, a hard working team of volunteers (many of whom work full-time jobs to pay the bills - myself included), and limited meeting time...we used and abused email correspondence and text messages....but we pulled it off! That was the pay off. The week after Thanksgiving, B.K.A the week of the event, was a little touch and go for a while...didn't know if I was going to make it out alive, but I did. And while in the midst, I really thought I was hating every minute of it, in retrospect, I would do it all again...but with a few slight changes to ensure my sanity. 

We all plan an event at some point or another, so here's a list to make sure we stay sane while doing it:

10 Ways to Make My Your Our Life Easier

1. Start early - I don't care if you are planning a Birthday Dinner or the President's Inauguration Dinner, if you can start planting seeds well in advance, you'll be better off for it. (hint: one month is not well in advance).

2. Give yourself benchmarks and measure your performance -  it is really easy to make a timeline of when you would like to get things done, but if you don't hold yourself to those timelines, what good is it? You will be thanking yourself when it's four hours before the event and you aren't running around printing materials.

3. Say Thank You - the art of appreciation is sometimes lost in stressful situations, and I know I am an offender. It is more than likely that everyone on your team is working just as hard as you are, and doing their very best. If someone does something to aid in any way, a simple "thank you" goes a very long way, and will ensure that they will continue to be a resource.

4. Find ways to stretch your budget - re-use! We actually did really well with this. If you can re-purpose decor, supplies, ANYTHING, to fit the theme of the current event. USE IT. There is no shame in recycling. 

5. Work together! Understand that everyone has different techniques and ways of getting things done, and compromising may end up making your job easier. And PLEASE don't be afraid to ask for help or simply say 'I don't know'...pretending you have all the answers will get you nowhere.

6. If fundraising is a part of your event, it is important that you start reaching out to your donors EARLY. I mean early, early -  as in this should be one of the first benchmarks on your timeline. Some organizations take 6-8 weeks or more to process donation requests. Don't ruin your chances with something so simple as being a few weeks too late.

7. When it becomes evident that something will not work, move on. This can be hard, because as creative planners we always want the coolest most amazing aspects for our events. But if something just isn't working, trust that you are just THAT good, and that a better idea will come along.

8. Congratulate yourself along the way! If you are anything like me, you never stop to look at how far you've come and how much you've accomplished. I organized a 3-package raffle with price points and volunteers for an event attended by 100+ people, in addition to balancing other miscellaneous responsibilities...something I have NEVER done before. I never once congratulated myself during the process, and was stressed to the heavens. NOT GOOD!

9. Be Flexible - this can be vague or specific. But it is important to understand that most times, as an event planner, you won't  be planning your own events...meaning that while your vision is valued and the reason why you were brought on, the client's vision is most important. Don't be too head strong that you are not malleable enough to fit the needs of the occasion.  While malleable is a term usually used for materials such as metal, sometimes as an event planner you kind of have to be as tough as nails. So I think it fits!

10. BREATHE! You will be okay. The event WILL happen. And if it doesn't, at least you're pretty, right? ;)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

All of the things above were learned from my own experiences, and by no means are a reflection of anyone else's work. If and when I plan another event, this list will be my nearest and dearest friend.

I am proud of my own efforts, and the efforts of everyone on the event planning team. This  was the first annual holiday fundraiser for this company, and for what we were working with, it was fantastic. Could we have raised more money? Probably! But, we learned a lot, and I am confident that next years' will be out of the park, fantastic!

Sneak Peak! A few snaps from the event!
I am pretty pumped I have this list now! Hope it was a somewhat enjoyable read for you :).

Happy Tuesday!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Busiest Bee in the Bunch!

Hi guys! Long time no talk. 

I am sorry for the long gap between posts. I still love everyone, I promise. I am just having one the THEE BUSIEST weeks I have had in longer than I can  even remember. For example, yesterday's schedule:

6:00 am: alarm goes off; must shower, get dressed, eat cereal and be out the door by 6:50 am! YIKES

7:50 am: Get to work and check emails and get settled.

8:00 am - 12:00 pm: Work, Emails, Work, Personal Emails, Correspond with Event Committee (volunteering as an event coordinator, we'll get back to this) back to work!

12:00 pm-1:00 pm: Walk to Target, buy more things for event (which is this Sunday..AAH!), race to Mariano's salad bar to pick up lunch and head back to work.

1:00 pm-5:00 pm: Work, Emails, Event Planning, Personal Email, Work

5:00 pm-6:00 pm: Commute home, drop off bags

6:15 pm- 8:00 pm: Volunteer at Edgewater Chamber of Commerce Holiday Mixer (ate appetizers for dinner)

8:15 pm: FINALLY home for the night. Answer event related Emails. Brainstorm more ideas for event. SCANDAL. More Emails.

10:45 pm: Bed...(mind racing until about 11ish...I think, I HOPE. Could have been 12!)

I AM SO TIRED. I've been working from the time I wake up in the morning until I go to sleep! I am by no means asking for a dance party or a pat on the back. Only merely reflecting on the fact that I am running myself to the ground, and I may even, dare I say it, be in over my head...eeeeek!

Have you guys heard that networking rule: Never say no to an opportunity to network and gain experience.... Well I've been trying to do that lately, but this week almost every commitment has come to a head and I'm not sure if I'm coming or going. Now, I work well under pressure and often times enjoy the adrenaline rush, but this is CHAOS...and as to not be SUCH A COMPLAINER, I've only shown a glimpse! Woooooof.

So yeah, I wanted you all to know that I'm still a passionate little blogger. And I will be back with great material in no time, but I just need some time to get through this weekend and gain my sanity back.

In the meantime, if you have any advice on how to capitalize on all opportunities without running oneself ragged, please share!! Hm...sounds like a blog post in the making ;)

We'll chat soon.

Cheers <3

Monday, December 2, 2013

It feels like home to me

Another Thanksgiving come and gone, and I am reminded of just how thankful I am to have a place that I can call home. No matter the alarming eccentricities of my family, I always feel so grateful to be surrounded by their love and humor. The last four days were the greatest escape from the trials of the last few months, and I felt a calmness that was familiar yet foreign...like and old friend that you haven't seen since childhood. While you've grown up and changed a bit, there is a peacefulness when you come back together. That's what home does for me. Baltimore has changed and I have changed, but when we are together, it always feels like home to me. Baltimore brings out the best in me. It reminds me how to love and be grateful and laugh and enjoy every moment. That's just what I did this weekend. I relished in every moment and I can't wait to be reunited with my old friend, Baltimore, in a few weeks for more holiday debauchery!

Here are some highlights from my weekend:

Thursday was full of food, food and more food. My mom is pretty much famous for her annual Thanksgiving feast, and she has yet to disappoint. It was no different this year. And let me tell you, as I briefly alluded to in my last post, I had every single intention of dedicating an entire blog post to her set up, preparation and follow through of this joyous occasion, but my hungry behind just could not even control the impulse to fill my plate the moment the food hit the table. So I literally got TWO photos (only one being of her actual display). I should probably go into journalism, right?

Anywayyyyyyy.....

I'm clearly a handwriting artist...

As you can see, someone was a little too anxious to slice the turkey...but I just love the simple display. I promise we had side dishes.



The rest of the feast was OUTSTANDING. Filled with carbs, cheese and butter and I would have thrown a hissy fit if it were any other way.

Friday was a mellow day, not much photo documentation and absolutely NO Black Friday shopping. I enjoyed time with my dad's crew and my Granny. She is one of my most favorite people to chat with. It amazes me that the heart doesn't age, and she is proof of that every day. I love hearing about her successes and heartbreaks, because I always find that of all of my family members, I really relate to my 83 year old grandmother. Who would have guessed, right? We killed time watching "Say Yes to the Dress", and voicing our loud, abrupt opinions. I was in bed by 10 pm and it was marvelous.

Saturday was another standout day - First, I felt so proud to support Small Business Saturday. Sounds hokey, but the charm that small businesses bring to any community is what makes said community what it is. What made it even better was that I got to support a small business that one of my very best friends manages. Babe. A Boutique. If you are in Baltimore, GO! I honestly wish this little place was my walk in closet. On top of that awesomeness, I was able to enjoy shopping with an old friend who I'd been looking forward to catching up with in person for a while. We shopped and stopped (shop, stop and roll - that is the first thing that popped into my head. sorry. random) into local cafes for some hot dogs and coffee, because that's HOW. WE.  DO.

I hope you all shopped small this weekend! H&M who?! (no, but I really love H&M)

The yummiest soy americano in the land - The Daily Grind in Fells Point



After burning through every cent of my birthday earnings, I raced home to get ready for a night out on the town with my boo thang (and later some friendsies). We  had a night at Woodberry Kitchen in Hampden on the books for months. He had never been and I'm obsessed, so my birthday seemed like the perfect time to go. If you haven't been, it's seriously time to man up and make that reservation. The food is so delicious, and the atmosphere is to die for. I'm gonna throw out a 'You're Welcome' in advance. 



Needless to say, Woodberry did not disappoint.







We were both really passionate about eating. Have you ever seen bigger smiles?











The food was out of this world. We started with their Sour Cream and Onion Dip and Oysters on the Half Shell. Neither dishes disappointed. The dip was simple and familiar, with what I can only imagine to be home made chips taking the dish to the next level. The Oysters were fresh and the variety of sauces spanned far beyond your average cocktail sauce. For entrees, the man enjoyed the most decadent serving of Chicken and Biscuit, and I had the Smoked Rockfish Salad. YUM! All of this aside, what impressed me most was the personal touch on my dessert. I felt so special!

eeeeeep :)
I didn't think this magical night could get any better, but after treating me to a delicious dinner, my loving boyfriend also made sure to wrangle my closest friends to one place to celebrate my birthday for the night. It was one of my more special birthdays, as I am well aware of how hectic holiday weekends at home can be. The amount of people that were able to make it out was really, really nice. We ended the night at Holy Frijoles in Hampden, and it was a blast!

Just a few of my favorite moments captured
I am so grateful for this amazing weekend home. Sunday was filled with family and relaxation...and that empty pit feeling I always get when it's time to leave my home. I am not sure that anywhere will ever live up to the bond that Baltimore and I have, and maybe that's just how it's supposed to be.

I hope you all had a wonderful family filled holiday. I'm a great listener, comment and tell me about it! 

Cheers <3 Tis most definitely the season!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

24 never felt so good!

Man, this one really sneaked up on me. I knew it was coming, but I've been so wrapped up in my own drama, that I didn't really take the time to realize how rapidly it was approaching, and just like that all the Facebook posts come rolling in.

I always find myself doing some serious reflecting on my birthday, as I think we all should. I mean, it's a great time to just review your past year and see how far you have come. Even if you are feeling down on yourself, or under-accomplished (like me), you have kept yourself alive for yet another year. That has to be worth some sort of congratulatory dance, right? Well, I sure hope so. I'm giving myself a pat on the back for making it to 24. 23 was not good to this girl, but as I reflect, I realize that for as many ridiculously discouraging things that slapped me in my face during my 23rd year, I also experienced some rather fantastic things: I spent another year with a guy that loves me in spite of my anxiously analytic approach to everything in life and this morning, he was up at 5:30 am making me a fancy breakfast before taking me to work :)! Also, I have a job that pays me enough to be able to support myself (mostly) independently. Lastly, I have the most supportive and loving family/friends out there, and they are (while I may not always be) proud of me for simply trying at everything I do. For that, I am eternally grateful.

When we are in the thick of things, we seldom see the sunshine through the trees. With my birthday always falling so close to Thanksgiving, I can never find a better time to thankful. And I really, really am.

Cheers to 24, and all the POSITIVE things it has for me!

Short post today. Trying to soak up my first day in my 24th year :).

Now I have flying home to Charm City to look forward to, and I can't wait to share my mommy's fabulously decadent Thanksgiving feast with you all (even if you can't taste it, which is a true tragedy)!

Happy Hump Day!

Monday, November 25, 2013

AMAs and Heartbreak

Music award shows never cease to disappoint me these days, but I always find myself tuning in time and time again. Why is that??? Do any of you have that experience? So many cringe worthy moments and poor vocals, yet I freak out if I turn on the channel a moment after the live broadcast begins. 

Despite the ridiculous content, one thing is consistent and entertaining year after year - all of the different fashion choices {good or bad} made by the celebs (which really means the choices made by the people that they can afford to pay to dress them). This year's American Music Awards, though, was not the worst. I have to say that, despite Pitbull opening the show with an unnecessary moment of objectifying women in black onesies, it was pretty entertaining, far beyond the pretty dresses! 

So, instead of my usual award show tweet fest, I wrote all of my would be tweets into a draft blog post, and now I am going to share them! I know...you can barely hold your excitement...

- As I re-read these this morning, I have reaffirmed for myself that I am thee weirdest and most random human. And I apologize in advance to those of you who didn't watch. This random stream of thought will probably do nothing for you...here goes! -
  • Ariana, you have a great voice, but you sound too much like 90s Mariah for me to take you seriously. Your management needs to find you some original material.
  • Ugh. Rihanna when will I be able to party and drink like you and still look AMAZE...probably when I give up my constant need for food. Sigh. And is your hair in a wrap? 
  • Who are these guys? This drum action is pretty cool. (apparently they were Imagine Dragon? I am so behind on pop culture these days)
  • Chris Daughtry still does stuff? As I type this Anthony says "Daughtry is the man." Guess I missed that memo.
  • Taylor Swift just won her 12th AMA...SHOCKING. But you know what will be more shocking...how surprised she's about to act. Whoops. Just kidding that was the most composed she's ever been.
  • Seeing Pitbull and Ke$ha perform is literally the last thing I want to do right now, so please don't remind me it's coming up.
  • Excuse me? Why are Michael Bolton and Akon even sharing a stage? I'm so confused.
  • KENDRICCCCCK. 
  • I'm sorry...Macklemore is great and I love him, but he is not hip hop. Yep. I said it. 
  • That woman grinding on Pitbull in this performance looks like Toni Braxton. I was SO worried for about 10.5 seconds.
  • Ke$ha, go home. I'm bored.
  • Like, we haven't seen Joan Jett in years and they are just gonna bring her out of the vault to announce an award at the AMAs?
  • Marc Anthony seriously has a great voice. He looks like the descendant of a street rat, but the man can SING. aaaaand won! Go Marc.
  • Justin Timberlake, marry me. You will never have to drink me away.
  • One Direction over JT...puke.
  • Nelly, you and country music don't mix. Please don't ever do it again. Thanks, Mgmt.
  • OOOOOOMG I forgive you, Nelly! HEY MUST BE THE MONEY. Bring it baaaack! If he sings "Hot in Here" I'm will faint.
  • Hmm. Rihanna, the voice of our time? hmmm....but I mean she's really pretty! But hmm....I mean "Umbrella" is my jam. I guess I just have some mixed feelings here. She is strong though, I cannot take that from her.
  • Oh so she's gonna wear the hair wrap the whole night. Oh ok. 
  • Okay guys I really like Rih, but she looks a little like a toddler having a tantrum performing this song....just me?
  • Awwwww if I ever win any sort of award in life, I hope they bring my mommy out!
  • Great speech, Rih Rih.
  • Jenny you should sing in Spanish all the time. It does something extra for your voice and by extra I mean makes it sound decent.
  • But really, J-Lo sounds 10x better singing Spanish. I would have never guessed...and NO that was not her voice in Selena. Don't get me started.
  • She is gonna look approximately 27 forever.
  • She killed that!!!!
  • NO. I will not accept this country/rap mash up winning an award.
  • YESSSSS. Justyyyy! He is killin' it this year!
  • Look at X-tina, looking gorgeous! and sounding amazingggg
  • KENDRICCCCK. Gosh he's just too good!
  • Gaga and Kels, this should be interesting. 
  • Does R. Kelly have to sing all of this thoughts? This is not a rhetorical question....
  • Okay so I can't help but love Gags. She is a true talent. Say what you wish.
  • "WHO PUT DESE PITCHAS ON INSTAGRAM!?"
  • This guy from One Direction has the same hair cut as Miley Cyrus. Cute.
  • Good thing Luke Bryan has so much rhythm....
  • Waterfalls!!!!!! Taking me BACK.
  • Meh. Just kidding, this isn't doing it for me.
  • Miley, what is this kitty business?
  • Those vocals were pretty decent though, Miles.
  • um no NO. NOOOOOOO. I'm sorry tswift. NO. Absolutely not. CONSPIRACY. If I were there, I would pull a Kanye.

And just like that the show has been ruined for me. How on earth did Taylor Swift win over Justin Timberlake. His album was magnitudes better. "Red" was really cute, but Artist of the Year worthy? Nah bruh. 

Overall it was a good show. Honestly, one of the better music award shows I've seen in a bit. I was a little thrown by the last 10 minutes, beginning with Miley Cyrus' 90's bodybuilder apparel and kitty background singer, and ending with that robbery of Artist of the Year.

My favorite look of the night was Naya Rivera:



Her beauty is unfair, but cannot be ignored. This look is classic.

So yeah, that's my random play by play of last night's American Music Awards. Bring on the Golden Globes and the Oscars. Those are the award shows I live for.

Cheers <3


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Spent.

Sigh...

I haven't been feeling very motivated this week, hence my 2-day hiatus. I'm sure you all missed me terribly ;). Aside from feeling less than inspired, I am swamped! Like, when did I get so busy doing so many things for other people, but still having trouble figuring out what to do for/about myself??? How did this even happen? Oh, I know, I've thrown myself into so many projects hoping that's where I would find all the missing components in my life: friends, fun, inspiration, creativity....

Sigh...

My entire life amounts to a bunch of disconnected plans in my iPhone calendar. My brain will not even put forth the effort to remember what's on my plate anymore. But what sense does it make that I am exhausted and over extended AND unhappy. I am at a loss. I feel like I have followed the formula, positive attitude + perseverance - self-doubt + volunteering and giving back = success! Right? Okay I lied. The positive attitude is not always a part of my equation and neither is the elimination of self doubt. But I tell you what, I am working a full time job, a part time (remote) job, volunteering for two separate theatre organizations, and trying to fit in time for my personal relationships and my personal health.

Sigh...

I am also dealing with some superficial issues. I have been reluctant to speak about it due to embarrassment, though I feel that my experience could be comforting and a subject for those who have experienced something similar to find solace in. I recently, as in October 11th, hopped on the ombre train...MISTAKE. It was beautiful for maaaaybe 3 days, and then my hair started to feel like straw and would break if it thought someone was going to think about touching. I ignored it for a few days, but then while I was washing it CLUMPS would fall out. I'm talking the floor of my shower looked like two girls got in a street fight. It was alarming to say the least. Now, I knew my hair was very reluctant to respond well to any chemical treatment. But shoooooot, girlfriend had hang time, couldn't tell me nothin'. I dealt with a similar nightmare back in 2008-2009 when my hair decided that it was going to fall out in protest of my choice to get a relaxer. So chopped it, and went back to my natural roots. Fast forward to September 2013 my hair was longer and healthier than it had been since I was about 10 years old. Then I thought "YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD MAKE IT BETTER?!". Yep. I thought hopping on this overly abused trend (no offense, I still think its pretty when it works out) was just the obvious choice. Couldn't have been more wrong. In a little over two months, I have gone from relatively healthy hair falling to about the middle of my back to unhealthy strands that fall a little below my shoulders. And while I'm constantly treating it and seeing my stylist. The chop is inevitable, and I cringe at how fast it all happened. I try to see the bigger picture, but not only am I embarrassed that my poor decision resulted this way, but also that something so superficial has me crying myself to sleep at night (sadly this isn't an exaggeration).

Sigh...

I'm just so tired in so many ways, and I feel like 2013 has been some  sort of endurance test. Is this the third installment of The Hunger Games?! Because if that's the case, where is my baller wardrobe team? I want Lenny Kravitz at my service, stat. Seriously though, I'm still alive, so I guess I'm passing said test, but I won't lie and say that I don't get discouraged from time to time all of the time. I know this is not uplifting reading material, but these are the impromptu twenty-something, melodramatic rants I promised. At the very least, I hope it's relatable. 

Sigh...

My birthday is next week, followed by my favorite holiday of ALL TIME and I don't  have a countdown in my phone for either! If you follow my Insta, you know a girl loves a good countdown. Who have I become?! Thanksgiving is one of the reasons I wake up in the morning, and I'm not excited. I'm. Just. Tired.

Sigh.

At least it's Thursday eve.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Football Feastivities

Happy Sunday! I spent my day pulling together what turned out to be a delicious and comforting Sunday meal. I have been so busy this month, but had that itch to really throw myself into creating a delicious meal from scratch with no help. No couples in the kitchen this time! I decided earlier this week that this Sunday was the PERFECT occasion. Ravens v. Bears. As a born and bred Baltimore girl, I am true to my Ravens. As I type this, I am, for the very first time this season, watching them from the comfort of my own home! Which works out quite perfectly since the weather took an apocalyptic turn this afternoon. Weather and football aside, food is the focus of this post. I had been jonesin' for some chili, so to Pinterest I went. Now I'm a pinning fool, so I knew there had to be something on my 'Yummies' board appropriate for this meal, and I was correct. In fact, I had options. So, I finally settled on "Slow Cooker Quinoa Chicken Chili". And, I mean, what goes better with chili than cornbread?! So, "Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread" is what I chose to accompany my hearty (and protein filled) dish!

Let's start with the chili,

Slow Cooker Quinoa Chicken Chili

What you'll need:
Recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

  • One 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • One 14 can diced tomatoes with green chilies - I used two 10 oz cans; 1 mild and 1 spicy w/habenero peppers
  • One 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • One 15 oz can of chili beans, rinsed and drained
  • One 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained - this is also my addition, love me some chick peas and the color dynamic it added.
  • One 15 oz can of corn, drained
  • Two cups chicken broth
  • Two large boneless skinless chicken breasts (use three if they're small) 

  • Two teaspoons garlic powder
  • Two teaspoons onion powder
  • Two teaspoons cumin - I used curry powder because I didn't have cumin, and I was not buying it. Turned out great!
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes - I'm always a little heavy handed with my red pepper flakes. Love the spice. Lucky I didn't find a way to use sriracha.
  • Three teaspoons chili powder
  • One cup of quinoa, rinsed 

  • Toppings of your choice - I used non fat yogurt in place of sour cream w/ reduced fat Mexican blend cheese and chopped scallions. DELISH!

First, you'll want to make sure that you have all of your ingredients out and available. In the recent past, I was not a follower of this rule. MISTAKES! I was always a hot mess, running around the kitchen searching for seasonings and more. A few minutes of ingredient prep goes a looooong way.

FLAVAH!

Okay. This part is so easy, take all of your ingredients (except your toppings, silly) and throw them in a 6 qt slow cooker. 

Time to turn this baby on and get to cookin'

If you are planning on having it for dinner, and you begin the process in the AM, I suggest cooking on low for 6-8 hrs. If you're like me, and you want this meal to be done like yesterday, go ahead and set your cooker to high. Mine was finished cooking in about 4 hrs. At the end of the 4 hrs, make sure your chicken is cooked through by removing and cutting open (if you use frozen chicken your cook time may be longer). If chicken is cooked, shred with two forks and mix back in with your chili, give it about 5 more mins to simmer. 

Chicken shredded so easily! Cooking it with the chili fixings makes it so tender!

Turn off slow cooker, serve, add your toppings and NOMNOMNOM. You're done!


:) All Done! Just needs some cornbread.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread 

What you'll need:
Recipe adapted from Eat Good 4 Life

  • 1 1/4 cups stone ground yellow corn meal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour - I'm pretty sure my whole wheat flour was all-purpose, but it worked.
  • One tbsp baking powder
  • One tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped, reserve one tbsp for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Three jalapeno, chopped
  • Two small garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
  • One cup corn kernels, I get mine in a can
  • One cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup low fat milk - I used non-fat...I'm trying to be good before Thanksgiving. Then, you'll have to watch out.
  • One egg
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus two tablespoons for sprinkling over corn bread
  • 1/4 cup canola oil - I used coconut oil because I have a newly developed obsession.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" square pan and set aside. Again, make sure all your ingredients are within arms reach.

Just a few of my dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, whisk together your milk, yogurt, egg, oil. Then add your cheese, corn, jalapeño, garlic and combine.

Next you want to add the rest of your dry ingredients: flour, corn meal, salt, baking powder and fold in with a rubber spatula. I mixed my 2/3 of my scallions in at this point, but the recipe suggests you sprinkle on top after it is added to pan...to each his own.

Lastly, you will want to pour your mixture into the pan (add your scallions if you decided to wait), and pop in the oven for 35-40 mins.

About to go in the oven!
At the last 5 mins of cooking, take out and sprinkle with your reserved tbsps of cheese (and scallions - which I didn't do. I added my reserve to the top before baking.), bake for an additional 5 mins and BOOM. Magic in your mouth!

All done!

This meal was easy to prepare, and was very rewarding because it turned out great! Anthony and I both really enjoyed it. I will say, if you are used to a sweeter cornbread, this is not it. It took some getting used to, but after my second or third taste, I was hooked. It is especially delicious with the chili...that I'm still recovering from. SO FULL. Here are some pics of the finished project 
that I served for Anthony:





What is chili and football without ice cold beer?! The answer here is nothing, folks.







I hope you guys enjoyed this recipe! Let me know if you try it out or of any variations you come up with. I'm always down for a freestyle. 


Cheers <3

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bloglovin'

As a fresh face to the blog scene, I am so intrigued by the different platforms that have been created for bloggers, allowing us to communicate and get the word out about our blogs. When I first decided to create a blog it was for no commercial gain. No sort of recognition. I was feeling pretty blah, and needed a creative outlet. As I began to build from nothing, I became proud of the work I was creating and wanted to ensure that I was not the only one who got a chance to read it. So, I explored different avenues of getting my blog "out there". I am by no means a super blogger, nor do I think my content would stop anyone in their tracks at this point, but I have high hopes, and I can feel myself growing daily. 

The discoveries I have made in my exploration of blog promoting platforms are a result of some self discovery and some help meeeee discovery, meaning other helpful bloggers pointed me in the right direction. My introduction to Bloglovin' was by no accident. I was told by a fellow blogger, whose blog you should definitely check out {J is for Jord}, of this awesome site that would allow me to explore tons of blogs in one place. I had to check it out! I gave it a few days though. Had to get my blog lookin' sexaaay first. Couldn't just show up lookin' busted, you know what I mean?! In all seriousness though, I've found that Bloglovin'  gives me the opportunity to learn from veteran bloggers, while engaging in conversation with my fellow bloggers to create a name for myself in the blog community. I have also discovered some great blogs that I had heard of, but never got around to reading!

Bloglovin' is becoming one of my favorite places to pass the time on the Internet. In the same way that I immediately became obsessed with Tumblr, I am quickly making Bloglovin' a part of my daily "OMGI'vebeenonhereforanhourwherehasthetimegooooooneeee?!" routine. It really is such a convenient tool! And while I can tell it was certainly created for bloggers, you don't necessarily have to have a blog to enjoy it. I know that I was a blog reader for many moons prior to creating my own. I would consider myself to have been a lurker, because I never took the time to subscribe to my favorite blogs *hangs head in shame*. But I would visit them all at least once or twice a week, promise!. Now though, with Bloglovin', I have a dashboard! I can follow all of my favorite blogs (and bloggers) from one location, and Bloglovin' even sends me a nifty little email telling me about all the interesting posts on my dashboard that I haven't read yet. As you have probably already garnered, I'm becoming mildly obsessed...

My point...hop on over to Bloglovin' and do some exploring! While you're at it, go ahead and click my little Bloglovin' button over there on the right side of this page (little plus sign), and follow me :) and any other blogs you find interesting. I call Bloglovin' my big girl Tumblr (Tumblr, boo, I love you for life don't take offense to this), because it's time we all start mixing a little more reading with all those pictures and memes, dontcha think ;) ?

Happy Saturday! 

I'm planning a yummy meal for Football Sunday that I can't wait to share with you guys!

Cheers <3

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Couples in the Kitchen

I have always been a kitchen hog. Once I wrap my mind around preparing a meal I want absolutely 0% of anyone's help and I won't have it any other way. Usually, this is not an issue. I find that people like to be treated and served, and if I am offer to do everything, I don't usually hear much debate on the subject. That is until my loving boyfriend and I decided to co-habitate. I would find the one man in the world who actually WANTS to help me cook dinner (I understand that this is a glaring generalization, sorry guys!). It has been a difficult task to let go of the reigns in the kitchen and give him to freedom to create, help and sometimes take full control over a meal. I have to admit that when I put my anxieties aside, and we tag team in the kitchen, it can be a great couple's activity. A bonding experience. Tonight I really tried to stay quiet and let my man be the star of this meal. He prepared the main course (grilled salmon), and while I did chime in a few times, I think I'm getting better at sharing the chef's hat. I made the side dishes, my quinoa creation (quinoa, black beans, diced shallots and green peppers) and kale. 

Our meal was nutritious for the mind and body. The heart and soul. A true labor of love. I need to let it happen more often.

Here's some quick iPhone shots of our meal in progress (I should probably invest in a real life camera if I am going to continue my blogging journey, huh?)

In action!         
His lovely salmon fillets. 
Quinoa Delight! Not so pretty, but delish!

Short post tonight because Scandal's on! If you're reading this, thank you for keeping up with me and your continued support! Also, if you want the recipe to my random quinoa creation, let me know. It'll give me an excuse to write it down.

My words of wisdom for tonight are: If you want a cheap and easy date night idea, share the kitchen with your loved one! It can be so much fun! It would be even more fun to prepare a full course meal, but I'll save that for a Saturday :).

Cheers <3
It's Friday eve!