Breast Cancer Awareness Is Not Just for October

I have since the existence of my blog made sure to talk about the realness of life and not just about pretty pics and filters! Life throws many curve balls. One of those life altering changes hit me a few weeks ago when I found a large lump in my breast. It scared me. Is shook me to my core. I am a woman and a mother-what would happen if my diagnosis came back to speak of the unthinkable?!

Recently I had pain in my right breast. The type of pain that would linger. With breast cancer being extremely prevalent in my family it scared me. Instead of ignoring it I called my doctor. I had found a lump and it wasn’t decreasing in size. The pain and the lump sent me into over drive. Watching my mother’s journey with breast cancer and two friends currently fighting, I knew I had to be my own advocate.

When I went to the doctors they told me to just watch it. Not only did I not listen to them but I got a new doctor. No health care professional that knows your family history, and know you’re in pain should encourage a wait and see. Breast cancer for the most part can be preventable if caught early. Often times mammograms are an easy way to detect an issue and should be done once you hit the age 45 or even as early as 40 if you don’t have a history. My mother and grandmother both had it so there’s no question that I should be screened regularly. The last mammogram I had was 2 years ago and I had to come back because even then I had a lump that they had to monitor closely.

So about a few days before Thanksgiving I went to have a mammogram that blessingly I was able to obtain the results of before I left. I had been cleared. A number of factors I watched and often times I watched my caffeine intact and chocolate which by the way I don’t consume. I knew whatever was going down it wasn’t based on those factors. I’m so happy to report that the lump I had went down and wasn’t detected on the mammogram. The worse wait of my life. As I sat in the radiology department holding onto that locker key I kept saying “whatever happens give me strength.”

As a mom of 3 I have been vigilant to be clear about being transparent to my young kids and mostly my oldest about her feminine health. Would I have to be a walking testament like my mom was?

Ladies it’s your right to know what is happening with your body? Fellas it’s a duty to encourage and support the women in your life to be there for the women in your life so that they can tested and ready for all that life brings them.

Breast cancer awareness is not something you throw a bunch of pink and do a Warrior walk to-you have to also be sure that you live it. You get checked, you see about your health and you encourage the women around you to do the same!!!!!

Servant

From M. Night Shyamalan comes the new series on AppleTV+ Servant. Servant is about a Philadelphia couple who let’s an evil presence into their home following a tragedy with their son Jericho! This series will be full of suspense and it comes out on Thursday November 28th right on time for your Thanksgiving get together. So after you clear your plate, clear your mind to take in all of the action as you put together the clues of the mystery that awaits.

I was honored to be invited to do a special preview of the series. I usually don’t do scary anything but I felt like expanding my horizons. I was hooked. I’ll be rewatching with my husband so we can make this a regular weekly watch! During the special preview we had an amazing mixed filled with great food, wine and drinks, photo booth, and we met baby Jericho!

I loved that they made sure as we mingled we had great options. This isn’t even all of the food available. Allied Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Film Center definitely know how to make a spread! The lines to see the preview were long. I’m glad to have been on the VIP list to get first dibs on a great experience.

Thanks to The Bosco for having a great photo booth available. You can see the gif on my Instagram and in the More Philly highlights!

During our time of mingling I got a chance to meet baby Jericho. Baby Jericho already let me know what I was walking into. I love the babies but Baby Jericho is definitely different. Even just seeing baby Jericho I felt uneasy.

Look how life like? This will be the question immediately to be answered? This is the only clue I’m giving!!! Pay attention. If you ever watched any movie from M. Night Shyamalan you know the clues mean everything to the mystery as it unfolds.

They locked our phones down. I couldn’t even get a pic of the lock down pads used but yes when they say you will not be recording today they meant it!

I had a blast. I was able to connect with other fellow bloggers as well from Philly Black Bloggers:

For me to say I’m hooked and can’t wait to watch this series speaks volumes! So what are you doing this Thanksgiving? Yes that’s right, you’re watching Servant on AppleTV +!

So cozy up with the fam bam and let me know how it goes tomorrow!!!

Thank you Allied Philadelphia for the invite! Thanks to AppleTV +, The Bosco, Philadelphia Film Center and of course M. Night Shyamalan for making a masterpiece!

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Monday Motivation: Thanksgiving Edition

It’s that time of the year! It’s time to carve literal time to be with family and friends. Depending on what your plans look like will determine if you are in a high level of stress or not.

Pace Yourself

If you’re planning a big dinner make sure you plan out your meal ahead of time even if that means you are doing it today. It’s not when you start it’s about being clear about what you need and when you need it. Do not allow stress to take over. Take each stride as slow as possible. This means simply making a list and dividing and conquering. You could grab what you need first which would be your must haves and then slowly decide if your optional items are really necessary. Sometimes what we feel we have to have isn’t something as necessary.

Delegate

It’s okay to delegate. It’s okay to outsource your help. Sometimes we don’t have to do it all! We don’t have to make it hard. Sometimes simply giving someone the reins will aid your self-care. You don’t have to be everywhere and at every second. If you have someone willing to bring a dish or two allow them. If someone is able to do the dishes, let them! If you want to scratch the whole cooking idea; let someone else cook. Go to a friends or even a restaurant.

Remember what Matters Most

Even in all of the busyness of the day and the week you have to take the time to know what matters. What matters isn’t prefect dishes but it’s about making memories. So look beyond a few issues as they pop up. I think about all of the people who would love to be in your shoes. Not just those who have transitioned but the living who don’t have someone in their lives in any capacity or those who feel broken. They don’t care about whether or not the rolls were forgotten or not. They just want to be around people who genuinely make them feel special and loved.

Realignment

It’s no better time to realign with matters to you most. It’s a matter of resifting your desires and how to make it all come together!!

My desire is that you go into this week with a sense of calm as you truck along your to do list. I hope you enjoy your meals should you choose to have one. I hope that things are well within your life. It’s one thing to have a smile on your face that you force but to have genuine joy is what I pray for each and everyone of you!

This Monday let’s take charge of the real!! Let’s take charge of our self care during this week of being thankful in the form of a formal dinner. I say that because we can be grateful in many forms it’s just the time to do so over a meal. A meal is always something that brings people closer.

2019 Baltimore Christmas Village

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s time to get out and enjoy some holiday cheer. One of the ways you can do that is by attending the Christmas Village in Baltimore, Maryland. We have a mix of shopping, food, drinks, crafts, community, and above all culture. I had the honor of participating for a full day and I loved the experience! This was a preview weekend which means that some of the highlights will only get that much better!

What is Christmas Village

Whether you attend the Baltimore or Philadelphia Christmas Village it’s grounded in culture. The Christmas village is a model that is reminiscent of the outdoor markets that take place in Germany. It’s a place to shop, eat, and engage in German culture. You will see a lot of German delicatessen as well as the spirit of Germans stemming all the way back to 16th century.

So what can you expect in Christmas Village in Baltimore?

Food

You will find German traditions such as Bratwurst, beer, potato pancakes, and sauerkraut.

There are a few loved favorites returning with a few spins:

Raclette Cheese

This yearly favorite is a beautiful mixed of freshly melted in front of you cheese on the freshest bread you have ever eaten!

Some new changes is you can get more toppings! Check out the salami and prosciutto you can add to your sandwich. Oh and everyone for the most part loves the pickles.

Drinks

We for the most part love holiday drinks especially adult holiday drinks. They have the traditional hot chocolates, apple cider, etc. they also have spiked hot cider, spiked hot chocolate where you choose the alcohol you want in it, and a variety of mulled wine. My favorites were the spiked hot chocolate with Kahlua and the cherry mulled wine!

This is this year’s souvenir cup choice:

Don’t forget you can continue to refill your cup with your drink of choice!

Let’s Shop

So what’s Christmas Village without shopping? I went around to many of the market vendors to see what they had in store and I found some extremely interesting ones!

Piggyback Treats

This is a one stop shop for all dog lovers! You can get hand knitted scarves that are made from second hand yarn. All of the products are made from rescued material from going to waste. I love that. Taking recycled materials to make even better products is the way it should be. We do entirely too much wasting and anything to help offset that gets a A+ in my book. I tried them last year well not me but my furry brother aka my mom’s dog and he loved his treats. I definitely will get them when I go to the Philadelphia Christmas Market. If you’re living in Baltimore you can get you some too!

Cynful Bliss

Now again there’s nothing like a great dessert. Having an adult only dessert in a jar that is absolutely amazing is just the best! These “sin” in a jar are definitely worth repenting for later!

Mixed with your favorite alcohol these decadent desserts are just what you need to give as gifts or to keep for yourself. They also make great additions to any party or gathering this season! Trust me you are gonna want to have these in your possession. My favorite is the peach cobbler. It’s strong and right.

Pressed Up

You know I love a good holiday shirt! I am the queen of having a shirt for any occasions and I found my new favorite shop. Pressed Up had the holiday looks already ready for me. They also take orders online which is key for me because they will be seeing me shop more often. I bought a shirt but I’ll reveal and tag as the holidays unfold just know it includes one or my great past times! I love to shop local as the same shirt I would have gotten from a large chain and now I have it and it’s supporting women entrepreneurs.

I’ll definitely tag the shirt I selected which was hard since they have the cutest options in sizes from baby to adult!

Bacon Dreams

This is where bacon merges into the dream of all dreams! What’s better than bacon? Bacon on a stick. Thick cut beautiful bacon dipped in sauces and flavorings of a lifetime. Have you ever had vanilla bourbon bbq bacon? No well listen JDs House of Bacon takes bacon loving to another level!

I didn’t even have to eat it to see the quality. This ain’t your run in the mill bacon. This is extremely quality bacon!!

The bacon is worthy of a drive. Now if you’re too far and driving isn’t an option hit the link or go to their Instagram and order some to be delivered!!

Indoor shopping

One of the distinctions that Christmas Village Baltimore is that there is plenty of indoor tent shopping too. This is a heated tent that has plenty of food and drinks and a place to sit and take a break!

Even little kids love being at Christmas Village! There will be Santa this upcoming weekend and a kids corner to help parents find a space just for them. There is also Gingy! He was one of the highlights from the visit as well. I was able to walk with Gingy and see him bring smiles to children and adults of all ages!!

Anyone who knows me knows I love mascots and I’m always going to get a pic. Gingy and I are friends now!! Also on December 4th is mascot weekend where you can come and see all of your favorite mascots! Honestly I’m getting excited just typing it!

It’s one thing to fo from day:

To night:

Walter Sondheim Fountain on the promenade

I love the decorations and trinkets you can get from German vendor Käthe Wohlfahrt. These hand made ornaments and decorations are a beauty to behold. You can get items from as low as $1 to a few hundred dollars!

While there I also attended the tree lighting ceremony!

And there is ice skating nearby to enjoy as well!

Ferris Wheel

Who doesn’t love a great Ferris Wheel ride? Bundle up and enjoy seeing the city from up top! It’s a beautiful view seeing Inner Harbor especially at night!

Baltimore holds a special place in my heart. Not only do I have friends and family here it’s also where I spent my 2nd and 5th wedding anniversary. There’s a lot to do in the city as well as Inner Harbor has a little something for everyone.

The market is also dog friendly!

This is just a snippet as it was preview weekend! There will be more planned. You can find more information here!

I hope you get out and enjoy Christmas Village Baltimore! I’ll give you a behinds look at the Philadelphia Christmas Village in about a week! Let’s get out and explore both cities and spread holiday cheer!!

Deadass Podcast Live In Philly

You should know the Ellis’ by now which are the dynamic duo and husband and wife team; Devale and Khadeen!! They are social media royalty and they came and blessed the stage at Underground Arts!!

So let me have a fan moment real quick and then we will get down to the show. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been following them. It’s been a minute! I’ve loved their vibes from the gate. The “millennial married” couple tackles it all from parenting their “3 whole boys,” social media networking, acting, and life. The Ellis’ have kept it real along the way!! They haven’t been shy about staying true and yet staying relevant and visible. I personally just love their attempt at balance. I say attempt because every last one of us has moments of ups and down when it comes to balancing.

Shout out to Brandon who assisted me to getting into the show. Brandon and the Ellis’ go back to college of which when I saw them the love was so amazing. So back to my fan girl moment. You know I love them both but as a woman I connect with Khadeem. It could be the fact that I had to take a huge back seat if you will to career and personal development to birth and take care of my 3 kids. So seeing Khadeen killing it mind, body and soul I just wanted to connect. I got my chance!

Are the Vibes just as consistent as they are online?

Absolutely yes! Both Devale and Khadeen are who they are online, offline. Going back stage and having that moment to introduce myself was everything. Like butterflies and glitter I was in a zone. I try my best not to get all goofy like with folks. In case you’re wondering no I didn’t act weird. Khadeen and Devale are crazy funny but the most humble couple you will meet. They greeted me with absolute love.

Deadass Podcast

Have you heard or listened to their podcast? No? You’re missing out. The Philly show was the first of the live series. They wanted to do a boy meets girl type of show where they bring an available man on stage and connect him with an available woman but there were NO single men. Like none! Like grab some binoculars none! Men I know you read this blog because you send me questions and if there is ever an event; go women are always there! They elected to talk about their life as well as take questions from audience members.

I love raw advice on real life issues. They didn’t hold back. They answered one question regarding getting the spark back in the bedroom! And it was spot on. Both individuals have to do their part not rely on one partner to pull the load. So that means go and explore a lot until you get that green light.

They talked about goals and working hard. The Ellis’s have built their brand on hard work and creativity. It wasn’t an overnight success. They spoke on how in the beginning they couldn’t get signed to a deal because they lacked drama. You know how that works, the more drama and filth you have the more profitable you become. Blame it in social media, reality television, but the real blame is on us as a consumer that green lights the mess!! I’m glad to see that the Ellisses definitely stayed the course.

But don’t think it wasn’t fun. I laughed from the time I came in until I left. And of course Devale has Khadeen did her iconic drop! You know I was here for it! Oh I was in the front and let me say that they treated everyone well no matter where you were. Apparently there wasn’t a clear time for the meet and greet that took place earlier so they accommodated those who had the meet and greet tickets after the show. That’s love! Most people would have did their show and left! Class act!!

To see some of my clips go to my Instagram! To find Devale and Khadeen go to their pages by clicking on their highlighted names! There you will be introduced to their antics, love, their family and support system! I need me a Mimi!! Trust me it’s the best thing you didn’t know you needed to see.

Do you notice Devale? You should he plays Zac on the hit BET show Sisters! Catch him every Wednesday 10/9c. Follow the Ellises on their YouTube channel! Here’s their latest vlog! Of course listen to their podcast; Deadass with Khadeen and Devale!!

Shout out to Underground Arts for being accommodating me. Also let me say the way they executed the night it was one of the best and smoothest nights out. Y’all definitely know how to host an event! To see their upcoming shows; go here!

Thank you Devale and Khadeen for a magical night! It makes me want to work harder in this blog world. You reiterate that working hard and believing in yourself is worth the late nights and balance with my family. Thank you Brandon for making my whole month! As I’m ending my Blogiversary I would have never been okay with asking for anything. You are a jewel not only for this but outside of this opportunity! Thank you Underground Arts for everything.

Philadelphia Zoo and Chase presents: LumiNature

What do you do when you mix the holidays with one part light show mixed with interactive galore? You have LumiNature. This 12 zone adventure will light up your world allowing you to create the most magical experience you didn’t know you needed…until now!

I try to keep my blog life separate from my family life but last night I mirrored the two and it was the best mix of both worlds. I’m the biggest kid but having my actual kids and niece was the best thing I’ve done all week! So let’s dive into this exhibit. The Philadelphia Zoo has invested a lot of time and effort to make this brand new exhibit into a dream. FYI like I had to explain to my kids this is not the time to visit with animals. This is apart of but semi separate fun. So if you have tickets for the Zoo you will need to get separate tickets!

Without giving you all 12 zones I’m going to give you my top 4 zones and why I loved it!! Tickets to the exhibit is timed and can be purchased online here! Parking prices can be seen there as well.

Wonder of Slumber

This is at the very entrance of the Zoo! It’s airy illuminated flowers are extremely magical. Here is the pic of when it was still some daylight available:

Here is the picture of it in its nightly glory!

It’s visually stunning. Also keep in mind as you guide your way through the zones there are interactive things to touch and play. There are also actors who are dressed and of course in lights to make it a night to not forget. Have your camera or phone ready!!

My kids with the lion doing their best ROAR!

Northern Lights

This is where the big show is. You get to meet Polaris the 35 foot polar bear who brings you into dancing and awe. The shows are timed at about every half an hour. You are going to want to be front row and center!

You can see a snippet of Polaris in action on my Instagram stories or in my highlight at More Philly! This show has some of the classic holiday and dance songs you will love to hear. It was nothing but smiles and awe from start to finish! Trust me you and your guests will absolutely love it!

Flamingo Fancy

This is one dazzling exhibit. It’s pink is so illuminating and I wanted to stay here for some time. Just take a look:

Hand crafted flamingos make up this beautiful tree! Even the walkway to it is stunning!

Peacock Spectacular

You can turn yourself into your own peacock! Peacocks are always known for their beautiful color and last night was no different!

There were a lot of extra things to see along our journey!

Since last night was the grand opening, the Philadelphia Zoo and Chase had a media and friends opening party!

Great food, hot chocolate bar, chocolate wine aka hot chocolate with wine, a regular bar and a great parting gift!

You will not be disappointed! Make LumiNature your new addition to your holiday plans. The light exhibits are out of this world. 2019 has been a great year for the Philadelphia Zoo. From the new additions to the park and upgrade food, LumiNature is your go to for memories and all of the feels!

5th year Blogiversary

This has been an amazing year. I believe I’ve touched the surface of what I plan to do and I have no choice but to keep going. I’ve been intentional, asked for help, leaned in on my mentors, outsourced to professionals what I couldn’t do and learned a lot in the process! The journey has been one of the best!

I’ve learned a lot more about myself. I realize that I’m not an island. I learned that I’m strong enough to handle fluctuating schedules. I’ve had the most productive year. I’ve been to all kinds of events, managed my family, my health, and my sanity. I love where I’m headed. There are already some amazing things lined up this next year!

I also want to thank the brands who helped me celebrate this year. Not just in prizes but in hospitality all year long. A special thank you to Eat Banza, Chima, Blessing Manifesting, and Nicole Lapin! I’m honored that you took the time to help me collaborate! Also I want to give an extra shout out to Aversa PR for allowing me the opportunity to be at so many wonderful events and openings. It’s actually been one year working with Aversa PR.

Thank you to my family who put up with me having a wonky schedule. I’m out in the field for almost 3-4 days a week some weeks more than that. I get asked how do I do that with 3 kids under 10. The answer is simple; they love and support my efforts. As long as I keep meal prepping they are good to go! I don’t book anything during their Girl Scout or soccer events and I make time to keep the spark alive with my husband.

Thank you to the network I’m with in TCP! The Cultured Professional has been an amazing network. They are family! “We Working over here!” is a lifestyle and definitely not a moment! These hardworking individuals have meant and continue to mean the world to me. Check them out here!

I want to say a special thanks to the many blog friends I have. There are a quite a few but I’ll highlight a few; Phillyfoodgal, Kingston Jael Michaels, Cocoamommy, Vidafashionista, and PR Brandon Szeltzer!

There are so many collaborations that took place to name! So many wonderful brands I wouldn’t even have known about without having an amazing network behind me! It’s been one amazing ride!

Thank you to every reader! One thing about it is even when Twitter or Instagram shuts down for hours you keep on reading my content and for that I’m honored!! It’s been a great transformation these 5 years! Thank you to everyone who submitted an Ask Toi!! You’re ability to be vulnerable is appreciated!

If you notice I’ve begun branding. This will continue! This has always been a goal for me! Now that I’m learning how to do it more consistently my promise is that I will always brand with companies that I believe in. They need to be products I’ve used in the past or use currently. They need to be what I would stand on. Something that I want my daughters to be proud of as you ladies! Brands that my son can feel good knowing I’m not compromising myself just to make money or sell my name for!

Let’s rock it out this year and make it happen!!