Valentine’s Day Message

I would like to say Happy Valentine’ Day to all who celebrate this holiday. Sending you love and peace today and everyday.

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To my husband, I love you! Another year of love to push through this life with! To want to still wake up and pray with you and push you to being your best self as you do the same! To wake up feeling safe in body and mind-I don’t take that for granted. To know you are being honorable in a world of Futures……….thank you!

To my children, mommy absolutely adores you! Y’all turn up to that candy so y’all can turn down at bedtime so mommy and daddy can drink our wine and fall asleep on the couch!

To my friends and family, have a loving day!  Some of my best points in waking up to text messages of encouragement from dope friends who are out here trying to be whole and happy is the best!

To my readers, I send you abundant love!

To my single readers and friends-I know today is hard. You question your when.  It hurts and its okay to say it hurts. People will tell you how you should feel and how to process today. I say process it in a healthy way.  Process it in your way! I get it. I used to wake up and decorate my apartment and watch all of the girlie romantic comedies, go out on dates or hang with my family or friends. Night was hard especially if you feel or don’t have anyone to hang with.  It will pass but it doesn’t change the depth of feeling you feel today! I understand!  Sending you an extra genuine dose of support!

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Mature Love

Let’s face it with the wave of reality television society obviously loves drama. We thrive on. We take it in.  We gravitate towards it. In the last 2 years I have taken on a journey to dismiss a lot of the drama in my life in the form of television and media. In addition to that in the last few years I have eliminated drama in my personal life and especially in marriage.

I think about the wonder years of college. Here I had come from this small town and I had recently been holding on to my high school sweetheart. I was so torn on keeping up this relationship but happy to start this new adult life. With limited time I ended one relationship and set out on a journey to find myself. In the midst of finding myself, I found a new relationship. In the beginning I kept telling myself to keep my options open but I fell hard and heavy with this tall glass of water who I later would end up marrying and having a family.  Oh the relationship goals I hear people speak of when I post my beautiful family is encouraging.  It encourages my husband and I to honor each other more and to be the example to ourselves and children.

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Let me dip my baby toe into the early years when we weren’t as gracious in relating to one another as we should. The drama and fights and break ups to make up were really out-of-pocket. My college years were filled with too much of it.  Our friends God bless their hearts had seen their fair share. From me moving off campus, to not being able to go down the street without a fight, goodness. Yes not anything physical but all that ratchet yelling could have made a lot of this reality television look like Elmo’s World. We were in love and I will speak for me unable to handle and know what adult love was supposed to look like. The cursing each other out, seeing or attempting to see other folks (depending on who you ask), acting a fool in public, breaking up and making up and not telling others, just exhausting to write let alone live. Back in the day it seemed like a whirlwind. It seemed normal. Everyone on campus knew we were toxic and out-of-pocket. Just a mess!

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Separating and allowing space and time and for me to honestly deal with some inner struggles led us back to each other. People think we just woke up one day and decided to give this thing called love a try. We were tested in that love several times almost ending our marriage. What turned things around from college and marriage was living and learning about myself. Finding out what worked for me. I found out my passions. I had learned to live with myself enough to not allow someone else to come into my space that wouldn’t allow me to be me. This allowance has come up several times in our current marriage. The ability to let your partner balance their lives with you is necessary. One day in our car we were at the point of divorce, he looked at me and said, “are we in or out?” He said if we are in lets stick together and make it and if we are out, lets find a way to be honorable with our children.  He looked me in my eyes and I knew he wasn’t playing.

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We at that moment lived by our mantra” us against the world.” We had stated that mantra in college but it solidified with me and him that day. That was at least 2 years into our marriage. There are no cute pictures you can take when two people have kids and are literally walking around like hateful roommates. What picture can you show when you are at the point of no return?  what picture can you show when you have enough and only doing the bare minimal?  So I always go back to the picture below.  When we were happy and made the decision to love each other forever. The time where we were so in love that nothing before that mattered and now nothing after should be to the point where we can’t work together.  We are willing to be with one another and this picture reminds me to take a mental break, wait for an answer, love despite of, and go back to the basics of what makes us, us!

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We don’t have the answers. We live each day but we know what works for us. We were friends first. We have “truth moments.” We give each safe space to be vulnerable.  We are learning to listen and talk to and not at each other. These are things that we learned in counseling the first months of our first year! I stepped out what we should be in our marriage and looked at the value of what we are able to make and hold on to when disaster hits. We are stronger together because we still want to be teammates in this thing called life.  As holidays like Valentine’s Day comes we love love or at least I who loves all holidays love these and any love related holidays, but to know that we are working through things and have matured beyond the college days is a miracle of staying the course! I want to leave a highlight with you, don’t think you have to struggle to get to this great point. If you can avoid it, please do so. Know yourself before you enter any relationship. The best thing is to work on you, get counseling before considering dating because uniting with a person can be a trigger in itself, and be clear about boundaries.  I am not glorifying bad behavior.  You can have healthy love. I am glad that we did the work to get to where we are. Nobody wants that perfect love story, but our love story is perfectly fitting for us!

Ask Toi: How much is too much for a first Valentine’s Day?

I would say rule of thumb spend what’s in your budget.  Do not over spend for any holiday.  Also since it’s your first one I would focus on something that you heard your partner talk about, likes, etc. So if you heard they like to run, maybe a gift card to their favorite running gear store. I can’t say what I would spend, I know my average for a first time Valentine’s day would be 75-100.  It’s a lot more money involved when spending for a man in my opinion.  So that is where I would keep it. I have been known to spend on my husband when we were in college dating. But again, clothes like a sweater of high quality cost more back in the day and that was before I was doing online shopping etc. Do not feel obligated to purchase anything that you will regret. I always asked myself while shopping for a new love interest, if we broke up on February 15th how would I feel about the purchases?  If you answer is clear your spending amounts will be clear too.

Christmas Self-Care

It’s Christmas! Time to break out the food and fun! For some the holidays don’t always represent love and harmony. This holiday often is the hardest for many reasons! With that in mind I’m giving you a few tips to survive it!

  • Have an exit plan- family is great until they’re not. Make sure you can leave and have a back up plan for self-care. Don’t stay anywhere that will send you into a tail spin!
  • Take things in strides. As much as you want to do more, eat more, drink more don’t over do it!
  • Have fun. Don’t make everything to be on such a schedule and don’t have a list of demands whether it be in the form of gifts or time that you feel others should spend. Allow those around you to be able to flow
  • Say no. You can’t be to everyone what everyone wants. Do what you can and leave the rest. Others around you will adjust
  • If you’re single around the holidays it’s hard. Acknowledge it but don’t let it overtake your thoughts. I told you about a friend who literally screamed on the phone out of her desire to be with someone. It’s a real overwhelming feeling but you can drive yourself crazy trying to be with someone.
  • Keep perspective. Know your reasons for the holidays and don’t get side tracked!
  • Love on others
  • Do for others
  • Don’t get into arguments or fights over the holidays. Walk away!

Whatever your plans are, have fun. May you have peace. Do what you need to do to ensure your own peace. Life is too short to be around folks that you regret or to not be around those you love due to misunderstandings. Work out what you can and make amends with whom you can. Find peace and pursue it! Don’t stay where you aren’t wanted. Don’t do anything that will make you complain. Do things because you truly want to! What would be the point of going around certain people only I spend hours talking about how bad it was if you knew it would be bad going in. You can be around people and do what’s best for you. This could mean go and leave at a designated time. This could mean not engaging in certain conversations. For those who have amazing family and friends that you have, be grateful! Enjoy it! Smile! Be present and not just bring presents!

Cherish the memories!

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday Motivation: Christmas Edition

As the holidays are exactly 8 days away one of the things that I have changed is not waiting until the last-minute for everything. I have a few things to do but I am not allowing any of it to get under my skin. For that I am grateful. I know the holidays aren’t about giving gifts or receiving gifts as much as it’s about be a blessing to those around me and spending time with my family and which is my personal choice to celebrate the birth of the Savior.

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I am not allowing the hustle and bustle of the season to make me crazy.  I am not going to spend time getting into countless arguments over stuff that I know that I can’t change. I know I can manage my time. I know I can prepare things early enough to be sure that things are the way I want them.  I know that beyond preparing for the actual day of Christmas is about preparing for the kids to be on break. Finding them activities that can be done in and out of the house that won’t break my budget.  These are the things that I am allowing to motivate my week. I don’t want to be sitting around upset or making myself vulnerable to mindless arguments over who should be doing what and when.

Be intentional about your thoughts this week. Your to do list will get done in tine. Do what you can and what can’t be done, don’t max out cards to do it. Don’t stress your life so that you are going more and more into debt and pain in the New Year. Do not do more for folks if it isn’t coming from a good place and a good heart. I have cut out a large amount of spending by focusing on the kids in my life. That doesn’t mean I didn’t get any adults but I definitely didn’t try to get all of the adults I know. Balance is my focus. My motivation is keeping the spirit of fun in my thought process. Playing with my children. Making time to watch movies with them. Making sure that I bake with them. Not worrying about material parts alone. Some people really lose it trying to keep up with the Jones’s.  Don’t let that be you. There are a million things to be celebrated. Families coming together that were torn apart, checking in on the elderly, seeing strangers smile who might have been so down that the holidays seem like a joy kill to them, serving the less fortunate, any and everything can be seen through different lenses. Do not loss that focus as you wrap gifts, prepare food, and set out outfits.

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This week, choose joy. Choose to see the good in this already evil world. Choose to be grateful for what you have and the little you may think you have may be someone else’s portion. Choose to be happy that you have the ability to make decisions that affect your life. Choose to smile more. Choose to be kind to others around you. Pay it forward. We need to hear more stories of others doing for those around them than taking. Let’s hear it this week for making sure you check in on others. There is a lot of pain that comes in with the  holidays too. As much as I love celebrating, I know that some folks are hurting. Some folks are experiencing high levels of pain, death, grieve, etc. My heart goes out to them. I have been praying for more people who are in these situations more and more as the holiday gets closer. Think of those people around you. Motivate your Monday and week to the things that matter that don’t have anything to do with price tags.

Keep your mind and heart clear. Sending you love as you go into the home stretch of this week!

Tinsel Philly: Happy Hour Meets Christmas

So if you love Christmas and you love drinks and getting out this is your bar. This pop-up Christmas bar is the envy of anything holiday that I have attended. Tinsel Philly Pop-Up bar is your go to. What is Tinsel and how should you prepare? Bring some friends, be ready to drink, bring a fun attitude and leave the decorations, great fun and awesome Christmas atmosphere to Tinsel.

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First of all you are going to want to be in the holiday spirit from the door until it’s time to leave. From the window display to the bathroom, there is no corner or ceiling that is left unturned. I loved it.  The ceiling even has real drop down presents.

It is an eye pop of happiness. If you had the unique opportunity to attend last year, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that its bigger and better. It features a 33 foot bar. Say it with me, dranks!   I was impressed. Being a lifestyle blogger I feel as if it is my job to be able to bring anything that makes your life fun, easier, and gets you out and about and this had all of that. I am going to start from the front of the venue to the back.

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I found super convenient street parking. I only had to walk less than one block away. This was not a turn off for me. Tinsel is not hard to find. Once you are on the block it literally sets itself apart from all of the other venues around it. It’s the most lit Christmas display and that itself reassured me I was in the right place. Once inside, I walked into an overhead of lights. Lights engage me. Once inside, the 33 foot bar is undeniable. The bar was absolutely wonderful. Now I am going to keep it real. Bars sometimes for me can intimidate me, but not at Tinsel. The staff was warm and welcoming and let me know their favorites off the bat. Now I had my sight set on the Tinsel Snow Globe. It is a keepsake.  Let me say the inner child kicked in as I shook my globe and enjoyed the tastings of Grey Goose La Vanile, White Cranberry and the best part edible snow. Yes, you read that correctly, edible snow. The slew of drinks that Tinsel has to offer has something for everyone. From cold Christmas drinks and specials to hot drinks and wines and beers, you are sure to be pleased. I was super happy not just with the themed drinks having great names but making sure it didn’t lack in quality. At Tinsel, that is not the case. You know I love to be on point and if I am spending my coins, I want my drinks to be worth it. You will find my personal stamp of approval. I love adult juice so when I am out and about I want to be able to get out and know that I am getting what I paid for.  Knowing that last year’s Tinsel Philly was packed nightly I can definitely see why.

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So let’s hit you with the Logistics:

Where is Tinsel Located:

116 S. 12th Street, Philadelphia PA, 19107

What drinks Does Tinsel offer?

Like I stated above there is something for everyone. The coveted Take Home souvenir drinks include the Tinsel Globe, Canned “Good” which is what it sounds like, a canned good can that is filled with your choice of either Deep Eddy’s Vodka or Bacardi Cuatro, Cranberry or Cinnamon (proceeds benefit MANNA) and Makers Mark Stocking Shot or the Neat X-Mas Ornament. I personally tried the Tinsel Globe, the Canned “Good” and the Makers Mark Stocking and they all were worth their price because one the bartenders were awesome and they didn’t short change me on the liquor.

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Tinsel Philly is donating $1.00 for every “Canned Good” drink to Manna who prepare and deliver meals to those are in need and are battling sickness and would otherwise not be able to have nutritional meals. Learn more about MANNA.

They have cold and warm drinks like the Hot Toddy, and the spiked hot chocolate that was made with either Stillhouse Mint Cocoa or the Bacardi Coconut. Absolutely everything that the holidays drinks  are about.

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There is also an assortment of holiday beers, wines and what we all need to know about the happy hour which is Monday-Friday from 5-6 pm with $2 off most drinks.

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Oh and for my Mall or any other professional Santa, you get one drink free and 50% off at all times. You must be wearing your full attire and credentials may be asked to verify.

Music

No bar is complete without music. When you come into Tinsel you will be welcomed by Philadelphia DJ Robert Drake aka Mr. Christmas. He also in addition to spinning at Tinsel will host his 26th year on XPN which is the Night before Christmas with 24 hours of nonstop sounds bringing everyone into the holiday spirit. You can check out his music takeover on XPN

Tinsel Holiday Take overs

DJ Drake will be spinning Monday Mixers on December 10 and December 17 from 5-7pm where there will be prizes. Yes prizes.  That means you can have some fun, dance, drink and win a gift for you or for someone else and have one less gift to purchase. Come on out!

Letters to Santa

This year Tinsel will have brand new post cards to the first 500 patrons. Tinsel staff will take these postcards that can be sent to Santa, or to spread holiday cheer to others. Staff will take these cards and mail them off for you!

Santa’s Throne

This was one of my favorite spots. It was a great place for that coveted Instagram pic! I had to make sure I got one! The room attached to the Santa Throne was well decorated and completely inviting. So make sure you bring someone who can get that great shot and angles for you. Definitely well worth it!

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Holiday Events Coming Up:

Saturday December 22, 2018: Jingle Bars Holiday Crawl. For tickets and more Info

Follow Tinsel and keep yourself updated you don’t want to miss, The White Elephant Party where you bring an unwanted gift and exchange it for something else. Also they will announce Day parties and New Years Eve Party and you don’t want to miss out!

Shout out to Craft Concepts Group which includes,Teddy Sourias (owner of Trademan’s BRU Craft, and Wurst, U-Bahn, Cinder Cooper and Lace, Uptown Beer Garden, Finn McCool’s Ale House) and the local artist  who worked to make sure that they opened up the space to exceed the space from last year to this year’s bigger, and definitely decorated open space. The intrict detail in all of the artwork was mesmerizing and appreciated.

And as always thank you Kory Aversa and Aversa PR for having me.

Make sure that you don’t let the holidays over take you, take some time to have a drink at Tinsel where you can have a drink and leave the cleaning and stress up to them. You deserve to have a ball and celebrate. Grab your friends and family and Pop-up to Philly’s Christmas Pop-Up at Tinsel. You will not be disappointed!

Holiday Etiquette

The holidays are high time. Between happy hours, holiday parties, and company parties the list is endless in how to celebrate it. One of the things we must tackle today is holiday etiquette.

Invites and the NO Game

We know that for most of us we are going to get swamped by so many invitations. Keep in mind that you have to understand that not all invitations will be a go. I used to be the type that felt like I had to spread myself thin trying to accommodate everyone’s event. That is not the case now. Between working, my family, blogging, friends, it is impossible to be everywhere at the same time. For that my NO muscles gets worked extra during this time of the year. I get so many people caught in their feelings but what I remember most is that others will do the same so I have to take care of me and mine. Do Not feel obligated to attend all events. Do you know how much it cost? You may need an outfit, transportation, a hostess gift, a regular gift depending on the event, babysitter if you have kids like me and everyone wanting no kids to be included, and just man hours to juggle it all, someone is definitely getting a NO. I have the holidays to prepare for on top of all of that and my own traditions to uphold too. Juggle but don’t break or break the bank attempting to be something to the very folks that wouldn’t extend themselves to you.

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Gifts, Gifts, Gifts

I love giving gifts. However instead of buying for everyone I find ways to one cut my cost. I stick to my budget and I always come under it. I hate attempting to feel as if I am overspending. I have goal and none of those goals will be accomplished if I am feeling guilty and having to recover after the Holidays from spending too much. There are ways to get around the whole spending too much. Instead of attempting to give each kid a gift in the family, make family baskets, filled with holiday classic movies, popcorn, candy, etc.  What you have created is a great family day in. The snow is going to come and that is the gift that keeps on giving especially where little kids are concerned. I also like to give the gift of entertainment. I can get families with children a gift card to an activity that I know they would love. Trust me with 3 kids of my own, someone paying for my kids on activities they know I am already going to attend is a savings. I also elect not to do gifts. If I am meeting up with friends, having dinner or drinks, sometimes just the gift of time is priceless. This means that us getting together and me spending time brunching, etc is a gift in itself. I have one friend that we meet up New Years Eve and do an early dinner.

Dranks, Pour it Up!

Be careful who you are around and the company you are keeping as you indulge. If you are at a company event, be smart. Have a drink or two but never more than that if you know that you are the type that has loose lips or will behave out of character. Worst than a one night stand walk of shame is the walk in shame the day or weekend after the holiday party where you got a little too loose. Don’t let this be you. Get a Uber or Lyft or have a designated driver. Do not drink buzzed or drunk. Trust me the price is more than you are willing and can afford. The most devastating time is having someone die at the hands of a drunk driver and around the holidays. Be careful.  Limit the amount of drinking you plan on enjoying. Make sure that you know your limit. Do not test your limit in a mixed crowd.

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Pot Lucky Unlucky Moments

Please do not be a hero making a new dish to bring to the potluck and it’s a meal that hasn’t been approved. This is not the time to flex. Opt to bring the adult juice or at least something that is edible. Also if you have pets, for the sake of all of those involved even if you think it’s a great idea to have your cat or dog in your kitchen, leave them out while you cook for others. This is an issue as to why I always ask, who made that? Why? Everyone ain’t as clean and pet hair in my food is not what I call a Holly Jolly Time. Please practice hand washing and make sure you aren’t cross-contaminating with the food or cooking utensils either. How you cook is just important to what you bring to the potluck.

This is a small list. Like I could have included re-gifting items you don’t want. If you plan on doing so, make sure it’s at least a gift thar a person would actually like. Don’t give gloves just for the sake of not having a gift. Put some thought. Gift like you would want to be gifted. There are so many price points to keep in mind. If you are attending an event, attempt to go to the event. I have had times when emergencies have come, but be sure that you aren’t RSVP to something you have no plans on coming. Also be sure to limit your drinks. Nothing is worst than having to figure out as a hostess how to get your guest home.  Be considerate of others. They may have said no to your invitation because it’s too much for them. They may not want to come or they may just been bombarded by so many invites that it could be too much for them to handle.

Have some fun. Show holiday spirit but be considerate of others around you!