I have a confession… I’m a lazy natural (but I didn’t start that way).
I did a big chop after transitioning for three months and I wanted nothing more than a head full of long, thick, curly hair. I would spend hours browsing YouTube for tutorials and tips and I devoted time each night to wrap my hair or twist it so that it would be protected as I slept.
After the excitement I had about having natural hair wore off, I became overwhelmed with all the twisting, dusting, blowing out and braiding that I once enjoyed. I achieved my growth goal pretty quickly and in retrospect, that’s what made me lazy. At that time having natural hair for me meant having long, curly hair. When I finally got the hair I wanted, I didn’t focus as much on its health.
Image source: graceeleyae.com
What a mistake!
Eventually my hair began to break off and I didn’t really notice it until it was too late. My hair had split, dry and frizzy ends. My curls were limp and resembled loose waves instead of the spirals they’d spring into before. My hair was so severely damaged from neglect that I had to cut it into a tapered style and basically start my natural journey all over again.
Trust me on this: You don’t want to learn the nighttime routine lesson the hard way, like I did. To prevent you from having to cut your hair, I’m sharing a nightly routine that will help you preserve your style and protect your hair from overnight damage.
My Nighttime Routine, Explained
When I’m not wearing a protective style, I normally wear my hair one of three ways on any given day – a flat-twisted halo style, a puff or a twist out. The nighttime routine I’m going to take you through, step-by-step, is for those “signature styles” of mine.
I use my finger to separate my hair in about four to six sections so that all the products can evenly penetrate my hair strands. Because I use the LCO (liquid, cream, oil) moisturizing sequence, I begin by lightly misting my hair with water from a spray bottle. Then I apply a quarter-sized amount of my go-to styling cream followed by two drops of olive oil to the section and create two separate twists. I don’t comb out my hair or twist them into small sections because I like the chunky twist-out look on my hair, especially as the days go by.
The Slap is a beanie-style cap with satin lined on the inside. Its super stylish and keeps your hair moisturized, protected and knot-free while you sleep. The best part? It stays in place, day or night, thanks to the cap’s elastic band.
I love sleeping in this cap because it’s very comfortable and I don’t wake up with a mark on my forehead from the band. Another feature of the cap that I love is that if I need to, I can wear the cap outside of my home as a protective barrier between my hair and the harsh outside materials. You can purchase your own Slap with a 10% discount here.
Before I had the slightest clue that I was pregnant somehow or another I came across the DockATot. I remember thinking that it was the cutest little thing and such a clever invention. A few months after discovering that I was expecting my first child (I guess the universe was preparing me mentally for the news) the DockATot was at the top of my list of must-have baby items.
Image source: Pinterest
Like most pregnant women, I researched all things baby nonstop. When I got well into my third trimester my research became more focused on safe sleeping methods. I’d attended about three parenting classes and the sleeping portion of the classes is what the educators focused on most so as my due date got closer, I knew I’d have to make a decision about how he would sleep.
Common sense and a few years of babysitting experience had taught me that babies are supposed to sleep on their backs to minimize the risk of SIDS. However, I didn’t know that making sure Marley was in a safe sleeping environment would cause ME to lose sleep!
The DockATot is a multi-functional sleeper and baby lounger handmade in Europe that comes in two sizes – Deluxe for 0-8 months (which is what I have) and Grand for 9-36 months.
I’d received the DockATot about three weeks before my son was born but the sleeping classes made me afraid to use it so we opted for other sleeping methods until my anxiety took over and I needed him in bed next to me. Let’s just say that the DockATot has been heaven sent! I recommend this over any other sleeping solution for your newborn.
I use it by having it right next to me in bed and when the room is cooler than normal, I drape his blanket across it over his waist. It took him a few tries to get used to it but the second week we used it, he slept through the entire night.
I also use this when we travel or I leave him with a family member while we’re out running errands.
It comes with handles so you can move it easily and the breathable, 100% cotton cover comes off so that you can wash it once it gets dirty…or if your son pees in it, like mine has. It’s also practically impossible to roll over on your child while you’re sleeping because of the cushioned sides.
I had the best sleep of my postpartum life once we finally started using this.
This is probably one of five items on my newborn/baby must-have list. I would not be surviving nights and being able to get work done if it wasn’t for this!
It goes without saying that race is a hot topic right now. Between protests, demonstrations and boycotts, there’s no escaping the reality that race is an issue that cannot be ignored or trivialized. I tend to look at race from a very basic point of view and I was excited to read Julie Lythcott-Haims’ Real American: A Memoir to expand my perspective.
In Real American: A Memoir, Lythcott-Haims shares what its like to be a biracial woman in America. As the only child of a marriage between a black man and a white British woman, Lythcott-Haims often struggled with her personal identity and self-esteem.
In this book, she shares personal memories and feelings as she came of age in a society that was not completely accepting of her. Although her father was a prominent physician, he was mistaken for a gardener. Her mother had no idea how to style her hair. All of these occurrences had an effect on what it meant to be black, in her eyes.
She desperately wanted to learn how to be black, not realizing (in my opinion) that she was black all along.
As a black woman with traces of French blood running through my own body, I often feel embarrassed to even acknowledge that I’m “something” other than black. It’s almost as if if you’re black, you can’t be anything else. It’s living with a feeling that you have to choose a side because nothing else matters. A feeling that you can’t be curious about your non-black ancestry for fear of being labeled as someone who didn’t want to be black. Lythcott-Haims discusses the standards that are in place for Black people from their counterparts and then there are standards that “others” measure you up against. She experienced a lot of “failure emotions” as she tried to live up to what (she thought) the standards of being a Black teenager were.
My overall takeaway (and personal experience) is that being black is pretty damn exhausting. The true power and beauty of your heritage comes from how you define and live by it, not by what others say it is.
During my childhood and teenage years, I was an avid reader and writer. I loved The Baby-Sitters Club books, Goosebumps books and I went on shopping sprees every year at the book fair. Naturally, because I loved to read, I also loved writing. Reading opened my world to all the possibilities of the written word on paper and I began keeping a journal in fifth grade. I still write in one to this day.
I truly believe that my early love for reading and writing shaped everything about me. I’m great at communicating, I’m an expert storyteller and I have a heart for the Arts. All of those things made way for my career in blogging and media. What can I say? Words and stories are my passion.
Even though my son has to be his own person and decide what he likes and dislikes, it would make me so happy if he inherited my love for reading. Although he’s only six months old, I’m already reading him bedtime stories every night and helping him rub his hands across the pages and feel the grooves of his books. Thankfully as he gets older and can recognize more sounds and actual words, I have Brightly to help me instill the importance of reading and how much satisfaction it can bring.
Brightly is an initiative launched in partnership with Penguin Random House. It was founded by a small team of parents and bookworms to connect children with appropriate and engaging books for their age and reading level. Even though I’m a bookworm myself, I can remember times when I was uninterested in reading a particular book in school or for a class because it wasn’t a good fit for me. And I think we all know a few people whose last time reading a book was for a class assignment! Brightly aims to remedy that so kids can continue reading as they grow.
On their website you’ll be able to find book recommendations in a variety of age ranges beginning with babies and toddlers! Books are divided into categories based on topics like humor, diversity and graphic novels just to name a few. There is also a “Tips & Advice” section with help-based articles that provide assistance with issues you may face on your journey to growing a lifelong reader such as when they experience difficulty reading, readying them for their required reading lists and more.
I received a cool gift from Brightly that included a logo tote AND a Mega-Pack of Mad Libs for kids.
If you’ve never heard of them, Mad Libs is a fill-in-the-blank word game with hundreds of possibilities. Players will learn different parts of speech – adjective, adverb, non, verb, etc. – as they complete each game. It’s a great screen-free activity for kids either at home or while traveling.
Let me just say that I totally dominated the Mad Libs! I decided that because my son obviously can’t use them yet I’d give them to my nieces but before they got their hands on them, I sorta kinda completed many of them myself.
If you’d like to give them a try with your kids, Brightly has a free downloadable bundle of Mad-Libs that you can print and reuse for as many combinations as your imagination can come up with!
When I found out that I was having a boy I freaked out. I had no experience with boys whatsoever and our family is full of little girls, who are all too old to hang with babies. Who would my son play with? Who would I do all my holiday crafts with now? And how on earth would I be able to change his diaper?
I know, I know. I’m a grown woman and shouldn’t have felt that way about changing a baby boy’s diaper…but I did. My church members scheduled me in the nursery during my pregnancy and I had the pleasure of changing a baby boy’s diaper for the first time in my life. It was not an easy feat. I simply didn’t know how to handle “it,” if you know what I mean. I took that as a sure sign that I needed to do some research online before my son made his debut.
I learned a few things after searching forums and message boards but over time I’ve developed my own little diaper hacks. Keep reading for tips on baby boy diaper changes!
First things first, you want to make sure you have all the right tools for getting the job done.
Sam’s Club is the perfect place to buy diapers. My favorite benefit of being a member is that you get more bang for your buck. Now that I’m a mom, saving as much as I can is always one of my main goals. When babies are new they go through a lot of diapers. Not only that, if you’re anything like me you may make mistakes while changing your baby and will need to use more than the average number in a day. Therefore you can never go wrong when purchasing diapers in bulk. Marley is six months old now and I’ve tried at least four different brands of diapers. Huggies® Little Movers is by far my favorite. They don’t swell up when they’re wet, they keep Marley dry and their texture is great. If you join your local Sam’s Club now you’ll get $45 Instant Savings when you buy any three participating Huggies products.
Don’t be afraid to go larger.
It won’t hurt your baby if his diapers are one size up from his current size. Actually going up a size will help prevent leaks. Babies move and wiggle and when they’re getting picked up and put down, their diapers shift. Even if they’re in their correct size according to their weight, they can still experience leaks because of it. An easy fix is to always go up one size, it won’t be too bulky like you may think.
Prepare your changing station in advance by keeping it fully stocked.
I quickly learned that preparation is a major key with babies. Having things ready in advanced makes everything easier. I always keep a changing station ready for Marley whether we’re in the bedroom or another area of the house. It contains three diapers, his tub of wipes and baby powder. Having everything I need within arms reach allows me to change him very quickly. Speaking of being quick, another benefit of being a member of Sam’s Club is that you can use their Scan & Go shopping feature. My local club can get busy and babies just don’t always like being in one place for too long. Being able to scan while I shop and pay with the app is a life saver! All you have to do is show your receipt at the door.
Make sure to point his wee-wee down.
When I learned this trick, the game changed. I would pick him up and feel his entire back wet from urine. We went through so many diapers and onesies. I knew that his diapers were the correct size and that I’d changed him in a reasonable amount of time so I couldn’t understand why he was wetting himself up his back every diaper change. After his circumcision healed I began pointing his penis downward and voila! No more back leaks!
You don’t need a ton of wipes, even if he has pooped.
I’m almost embarrassed to admit this but I would use 10 wipes per diaper change. *face palm* You do not need that many wipes for simple urine changes or minor poop changes. However your baby will have the occasional blowout that will require you to use more. We have the bulk packs from Sam’s Club that come with the wipe container (which I love!) inside. The container is so convenient and it helps you change a lot quicker and easier because you’re not fiddling with a pack. You can restock it as often as you need and the remaining diapers are in a resealable pack, which keeps them moist.
Make sure he’s finished before you change his poopie diaper.
Last but not least, make sure your baby is completely done pooping before you change. Sometimes they stop grunting but that doesn’t mean they’re done. I’ve been sprayed with pee and poop at least twice and that was enough for me to give him some time.
I hope these hacks help you because they sure helped me!
Dinner is probably my least favorite meal to prepare out of the three main meals we should have everyday. Breakfast is fun and you can go in so many directions with it. Lunch is very routine for me and hit-or-miss at the same time. Dinner is just overwhelming because like breakfast, you can take it in so many different directions, but somehow I always end up rotating the same dishes.
For my most recent meal idea, I decided to incorporate skewers into the overall dish because I’ve never worked with them before. I used to work at a fine dining restaurant and they offered these amazing, juicy beef kabobs and I wanted to put my own spin on it, but with pork and lots of color!
Pork loin is a cut of pork that I’ve eaten before but I don’t cook or eat on a regular basis. For this recipe I decided to coat a pork loin filet with seasonal herbs – Rosemary, Thyme and Basil. I chopped the pork loin into cubes and placed them on a wooden skewer, alternating with rainbow sweet bell peppers.
I love the color of the peppers. They were so beautiful and really gave this dish the seasonal look I was going for. As far as taste, I knew they would meld well with the pork. In hindsight, green bell peppers would have probably tasted more cohesive but the sweet peppers added a sweet yet tangy flavor.
I cooked the skewers in the oven at about 475 degrees for 30 minutes or just a little more.
This meal is very filling so you don’t need a lot on the side. I tossed a handful of french beans in olive oil and sautéed them in a pan with garlic butter for about seven minutes. They were lightly flavored and still very crisp and fresh. They were a great break from the heaviness of the meat and peppers. Because I’m a serious bread lover, I halved and buttered a bolillo roll before letting it toast in the oven for about three minutes.
The end result was amazing! The skewers had a sweet, smoky and tangy flavor and the loin was so tender. I actually impressed myself with this one! Both my mom and Tony complimented me on the flavor and tenderness of the meat.
I hate to admit it and I hate it more that I’m actually living it, but I’m one of those people who hasn’t finished Christmas shopping yet. That means I’ll be facing long lines and heavy traffic over the next two days in an effort to finish crossing names of my list. I began the season with very high hopes of getting my shopping done before crunch time and freeing my days up to prepare for our annual holiday party. Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way.
The silver lining of my little conundrum is that if I want to bypass all the hustle and bustle of shoppers and limited selections, I can get crafty and put a personal touch on the remaining gifts I want to give. *light bulb moment*
There’s no craft item as versatile as the mason jar and they’re easy to find and relatively cheap. Not only that, mason jars are staple items in Southern homes because of the wide range of uses they offer. In today’s post, I’m sharing how you can use this multi-purpose jar for an easy, last-minute DIY Christmas gift.
You can create your own sugar scrub concoction for the woman or teen girl in your life. Here’s a holiday-scented recipe from Mom4Real. Click here to read.
Spa in a Jar
Another way to use mason jars is to put a little spa in a jar. For men, you could incorporate razors and other hygiene items. Check out this tutorial from The Gunny Sack.
Mini-Bar in a Jar
Any man or woman would love their favorite alcoholic beverages in mini sizes! Although this was created as a groomsman idea, it would still work for Christmas. Check out the tutorial from The Shabby Creek Cottage.
PSECU created a very easy to follow infographic that will help you plan out your mason jar gift. Not only does it give you gift ideas, it shows how to properly layer them! Make sure to save the infographic as a reference when you’re out shopping for supplies.
According to a 2016 survey done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Americans spend an average of 293 hours behind the wheel in a year. I love a good road trip but let’s be honest – the longer the drive, the quicker the fun diminishes. I absolutely despise being in the car for a long time! I have to share the auxiliary cord with the other riders, my butt hurts from being in one spot for hours and I can’t write at all or use my computer for long. BOOOO! I know going to sleep is always an option but I’m one of those people who doesn’t trust the driver to stay awake unless I’m awake too. Crazy, I know. Don’t judge me!
Anyways, whenever I see that we’re getting close to a service station or convenience store on our way to the destination, I get really excited. It gives me an opportunity to get out of the car and stretch my legs, walk around and sightsee but most importantly, I can get a snack or two.
Let’s be honest again. Nine times out of 10 the food at the service station looks unappetizing, to put it nicely. The meats look rancid and the beverage stations are always sticky. In most cases I’d rather starve or buy a candy bar instead of taking a chance on the food. So when I was invited to attend the “housewarming party” for a freshly remodeled RaceTrac store in New Orleans to sample their new foods and preview all their new additions, I could not resist.
On our way to the party, Tony and I tried to guess what foods we’d get a chance to sample. We knew there would likely be sandwiches but we were blown away by the taste, quality and all the different food and beverage options available at the Jefferson Highway location.
Before I get to the food, I must say that I was impressed by the overall design of the store.
It was very well lit, all the patio furniture and surrounding areas were clean and there was additional parking at the side entrance, which comes in handy when the service station is busy. An added bonus was the outdoor electrical outlets that allow you to plug in your phones or any other electronic device for charging on-the-go. For a computer junkie like myself, this is a major plus. I actually ended up having to use the added feature because my phone wouldn’t hold its charge. It was a life saver!
Once inside, it was hard to believe that I was inside a service station.
It felt more like a deli or grocery store, which made me a lot more comfortable with trying the food. There were so many amazing and modern features that I don’t really know where to start. Besides the made to order menu, there was a kiosk in the middle of the store where you could order and pay for your food. There was a wine rack, a coffee station, topping bars and even a frozen yogurt area!
I sampled so many good foods, I left with a full tummy! Here are my favorite bites from RaceTrac Made:
Meatball Sub Sandwich – It was soooooo good! The bread was soft and there was the perfect ratio sauce to meat ratio. The meat even had a spicy kick (gotta love New Orleans) and made me feel as though I was eating a gourmet meal in a restaurant – not like I was in a service station.
Tiger’s Blood Frozen Yogurt – Listen…I’ve never had frozen yogurt before because I thought it would taste like, well, frozen yogurt. I’ve never been more wrong. It was the best thing I had all night. Better than ice cream. Better than a sno-cone. Better than an Icee. It was so good. I topped it with my favorite candy, sour gummy worms, for the perfect touch.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie – I eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches about three times a week, never in a million years would I have thought about having it in smoothie form. It tasted just like the sandwich but a little sweeter.
The coffee station was also a beauty. It contained different flavors of coffee and even had the gourmet creamers that I have at home. I took a walk on the wild side and tried the Pumpkin flavored coffee (after being dared by the manager) and I actually liked it. I guess the pumpkin spice coffee hype is real…but more on that when I update my Fall Bucket List progress.
This is a service station that your kids will love. No, I take that back. Your entire family will love stopping at RaceTrac for fuel, snacks or even lunch or dinner. I had such a great time and I cannot wait to go back!
Trampolining has a lot of benefits. Regular users of trampolines are healthier and fitter than most people. Exercising on the trampoline improves your cardio-vascular activities. It increases the stamina of a person. People who exercise using a trampoline regularly have excellent balance and co-ordination. The body grows to be flexible and strong.
It also helps in the building and toning of muscles. Trampolining massively increases the strength and capacity of a person’s legs and upper body. Regular trampolining takes the body to its peak fitness level. Some of the most important benefits of trampolines are listed below.
Image source CBC.ca
When one jumps on a trampoline, the flexible surface moves along with the person. This reduces the impact of landing. Other cardio vascular exercises like jogging make heavy impacts with the ground. In fact these exercise rely on the impact made by the feet on the ground.
Therefore these exercises run the risk of causing injuries like ankle sprain, knee joint strain etc. Trampolining reduces these risks while maintain a constant motion of the body. This motion helps to improve your heart rate and breath rate. Thus, the exercise improves the entire cardio vascular system of the body.
Co-ordination and Agility
Regular bouncing on a trampoline makes you more aware about your own body. You get to know about your body’s strengths and limitations. It also helps a lot to increase one’s co-ordination and balance. Trampolining perfectly and stably requires an immense amount of focus.
Through these exercises you learn to control your arms in co-ordination with your legs. It also teaches you to adjust the strength of your upper body to focus on different regions of the body. Regular trampolining will improve your reflexes, co-ordination, agility and balance and also build and tone your muscles.
Trampoline exercises can help reduce your stress level and relieve you of your worries. Bouncing on a trampoline causes the human brain to release excessive amount of endorphins. The endorphins secreted by the brain help combat problems like stress, anxiety, depression etc. Regular exercising on a trampoline will help you to relax.
It improves your existing sleeping patterns. Better sleep patterns make you more energetic, alert and fast. Trampolining increases the oxygen circulation in your body. Improved circulation of oxygen results in better performance of an individual. With the decrease of stress you find yourself to be happier and more relaxed.
Trampolining is a very fun and enjoyable activity. Trampolining with your friends or family may even be more enjoyable than common family activities. Your kids will love it and grow up to be healthy due to the daily exercising. You can also disassemble a best trampoline and carry it with you to picnics or other outings.
Also, having something so fun in the backyard will ensure that the children stay near the house. It will make it easier to monitor them without disrupting their enjoyment. Trampolining regularly means you are having fun constantly while improving your health at the same time.
Contemporary Reclining Sectionals Are Great Pieces of Furniture for Your Home
Have you seen those wide, big, bulky, and at the same time truly appealing sectionals when you went to a home depot or at the mall? Contemporary Reclining Sectionals have been really in demand nowadays due to the way that they could leave you mesmerized at how beautiful the room has become due to their presence. Indeed, compared to an ordinary cheap recliners, in just one look, you could immediately say that the sectionals are best recliners.
A lot of homeowners nowadays desire to have the best for their homes. They would always look for the most unique, the most elegant, the classiest, as well as the trendiest furnishings that they would be getting for their homes, from decors, appliances, to furniture. Because of this, many would prefer to have contemporary Reclining Sectionals at home compared to ordinary Recliner.
You might be wondering why contemporary Reclining Sectionals are better than ordinary Recliner. Well, sectionals look more attractive and appealing. When you have one at home, it automatically improves the beauty of the room. In fact, even with only this piece of furniture, the effect is really dashing. The room instantly becomes a magnificent place worthy of the royals themselves.
The attractive presence of contemporary Reclining Sectionals would always leave a beautiful picture in the minds of your visitors or to anyone who would be coming over to your home. Even you and your family would always feel the same way.
Every time you come home, the great and lovely presence of your sectionals would be there to greet you and make you smile. It would easily beckon you to sit, relax, and even lie for a few minutes and feel the comfort envelop your tired body. Afterwards, you could gather your family together to spend some quality time and savor each other’s company.
At some point in time, your kids might like to invite a few friends over, and surely all of them would be enjoying their time together chatting and sprawling over your contemporary sectional at home. It wouldn’t only be your kids who will enjoy the comfortable Recliner.
If your family members from out of town come and visit you all at the same time, you don’t have to worry about where you would all be sitting together since a lot of contemporary sectionals are quite large and can accommodate several persons at the same time.
With all the good things you can get from contemporary Reclining Sectionals, aren’t they truly great pieces of furniture you could have in your home?
Modular Reclining Sectionals
One of the most important considerations of homeowners is the utilization of the space that you have. For houses or condos with small spaces, it is often easier to have a Recliner which would present a delightful note in the home. But for those who have large spaces, it is best to have a modular Reclining Sectionals that would clearly emphasize the beauty and elegance of your home.
A modular Reclining Sectionals greatly adds to the overall aesthetic sense of your living area. Think of it as your centerpiece which would be the central attraction in the room. Yes, every time you enter, you would see your Reclining Sectionals emanating nothing but beauty and bringing you a very warm feeling of contentment seeing that everything in the room create a lovely picture.
The modular Reclining Sectionals clearly enhances the loveliness of any room. The soft lights cast a dazzling effect on the Recliner, making it prettier every time. The variety of colors and designs available make sure that you get the right one for yourself.
There are so many colors that you could choose from. If the design of your room comes in neutral colors, you could always choose among the different sectionals with colors of beige, brown, black, or white. Some are actually a combination of neutral and striking colors such as cream and red, or white and blue, some are paired with other striking colors such as green. There are also those that come with designs, however, most of the leather type Recliner are just plain without any print or pattern, yet they are the ones that are most sought after by different homes.
The most common modular Reclining Sectionals are those that are right angled and don’t seem to have a fluid contour to it.
They are always best placed at corners where it would be attuned with the shape of the wall and flooring. You can also place them at the center of the room. In fact, as long as you have a large space, a modular Reclining Sectionals will always look good at any spot.
You may be asking how you will know that a certain modular Recliner would be perfect for your home, or for the space that you have. Ideally, you must ascertain the length or the area that you have. You could measure the area so that when you would be choosing the modular Reclining Sectionals, you would not be spending time trying to figure out whether that Recliner would be a perfect fit or not.