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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
So as many of you know I came across the Christmas Village last year doing a Google search for free family fun. I then convinced my family to give the authentic outdoor German Market a try. We were impressed and excited to attend again this year. This year I was invited to take an intimate look at what the Christmas Village really has to offer behind the scenes. This year thanks to the renovations of the Love Park sign, it was even more special!
I was able to attend the opening ceremony to light “The Present.” Thanks to Mayor Jim Kenney who hit it home with his opening speech about giving towards others. This is the season to not just think about ourselves and our families but how we can best serve the people of Philadelphia. The Present is 27 feet in height, well-lit holiday present. It is in the middle of the Christmas Village. Not only is it visually stunning, its set as a reminder to give to others. If you are in the area you can give by texting and you will receive a gift tag that can be displayed on “The Present” that is a symbol of what the holiday is all about. You can actively give by doing the following:
TEXT BOOKS to 20222 to donate to Welcome America’s holiday book campaign for Parks and Recreation. Every $5 raised will purchase a total of 4 books.
TEXT 80100 to donate to Project Home to help end poverty and homelessness
Inside “The Present”
“The Present is open starting today to the public all the way through December 24th. It’s free to enter and as you can see from the above photos it’s a beauty to see, take photos and walk inside! I felt like the biggest kid. The colors and lights had me mesmerized.
So I knew after watching “The Present” light up that I was off to a good start. The first stop on the tour was the German Grill. The open grill had all the best of the German deliciousness. From Bratwurst to Schnitzel, I was in pure Heaven. The open grill is such a delight and the smells pulled me in. I was completely satisfied. As soon as I got home, I was upset as to why I didn’t take a Bratwurst to go.
This took me to the second stop on the tour and that was to the open beer garden, The Alm. It’s always a good idea for beer. There are a lot of new items on the menu. Let me also point out for families with young children. This is a great spot to combine adulting and kids. It’s closed in. So this means a lot of play for the kids and drinks for the adults. This year they have a new beer mug. It’s a beauty to behold and you know that the bigger the cup, the bigger the gulp!
As if the beer wasn’t enough, I made my way to one if that’s right one of the wine offerings, German Gluhwein. It’s a mulled wine. They offer a white and a red wine and both were amazing.
Next up was Käthe Wohlfahrt. This indoor gem blew my mind. This unique shop was full of mostly hand-made treasures. From one of a kind pieces to ornaments and decorations, it was a delight. Note there is no videography or photos for the public. However I was able to get you that inside look. What I will say is this is a must on your stops through the open village. Be careful as some of the pieces are pricey. So if you have little ones just hold their hands. I do believe once they see how well-lit and how beautiful the pieces are, they will spend more time asking questions than running through the store.
Next stop was the The Bacon Jams. I’ve never had bacon jam but today I wanted to buy all of them. These easy to spread jams taste super authentic to real bacon. The flavors were amazing. I tried every last one. From the maple bacon to the honey bourbon! All of them were a treat!
I believe I was turning into a foodie by the end of the night. The next stop was to Sweets where we tried some toasted chestnuts. I’ve never had any before but I was a believer tonight. Be sure if you attend that you make your way. There are other sweet treats as well.
Keeping in line with sweets we make our way to John and Kira’s. This was like chocolate Heaven! I tried for her first time honey bee chocolate made from local honey bee. First of all this gooey treat should be eaten in one bite. It’s honey flavor mixed with chocolate had to be the best that I have had in a long time. We also had some amazing sea salt caramel.
If you ever been to the Christmas Village you are full aware of the Raclette. It’s basically the best cheese I’ve ever eaten, that is melted under a special heated lamp and the cheese oozes onto some of the freshest bread Philadelphia has to offer. I was in cheese coma. Let me say that yes I took one for the team of non dairy, but I ain’t feel not ounce of shame.
For those who love unique cards you must stop at Love Pop. You can get pop up 3D cards. I enjoyed the tour and I plan to grab a few to give to special friends.
Our next stop was Mike’s Hot Honey. We were told that when you taste it, it would be sweet and then bitter and it was true. Mike’s Hot Honey is a spread that can be put on almost anything from bagels to chicken. I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I am getting a cold but if I was when I left I definitely felt like my palette was cleared.
Of course we needed something a little sweet so we headed over to Helmuts Original Austrian Strudel. They had your classics like cherry but they also had some that were a definite go back and true such as the meat and pulled pork puffs. They even have a mac and cheese one!
One of the final stops before ending with hot chocolate was Truffleist. This is what the name says, Truffle. So between some amazing cheeses and salami, the truffle butter was everything. I mean everyone enjoyed it. They have an amazing selection and to be honest I could eat that truffle butter by the spoonfuls. It was that good.
One more goodie before I end, I love hand blown glass. The colors are amazing. So I had to take a picture of the Mouth Blown Ornaments.
So the tour was everything and more. You and your family or friends will have an amazing time. I tried to give you a snippet of what it would be like. The only thing that I didn’t see was Santa but you can catch Santa in the Santa Hut for pics starting on the weekends and then close to the season being over he will be there everyday. I would make sure you go and see him if you’re trying to get on the Nice List.
Special thanks to Philadelphia Christmas Village, the sponsors: Bank of America, Acme, Käthe Wohlfahrt, and Hernnhuter and all of the partners who helped to make this day. Also shout out to all of the amazing vendors who bring the Christmas Village to Life rain or shine. Remember its free to enter and you only pay for the food, drinks, and treasures you find.
Special shout out to Kory Aversa and the Aversa PR and Events for having me.
So head on over and grab your kids, your friends, your girls, or your boys and have an experience to remember!
This is not a drill. We are exactly one week away. I can’t wait. I love to eat. I love Thanksgiving for a few reasons. A lot of them has to do with how people act. It’s like the one time of the year for the most part that others around you lay their issues down. Now I know some folks turn up and like to ruin the day, but the folks and family I am around these last few years especially come together and celebrate what it’s all about.
We generally have no rules for Thanksgiving. We usually go to our uncle’s house where he graciously does all the cooking. I usually still cook my own meal at home too. Got to have more food for later in the week. Nothing is better than Thanksgiving food days later. We also started a new tradition where we go to the movies the day off too. I love it because it’s not crowded and we can see what’s coming out for the rest of the holiday season too. Also its about coming together and relaxing and enjoying one another’s companies. It’s a time to catch up before Christmas comes. I love it. I love to sip my wine pretty much all day. Thanks to my husband for being that designated driver because by end of the night we always end with a final glass together. It’s our way to tell each other how thankful we are for what we have. Its our own couple’s tradition. We have a lot to be grateful for.
I love the traditional food. You know turkey, mac and cheese, greens, etc. However the only thing I don’t like is the struggle plates folks want to post. We all eating generally the same thing. No one’s plate looks great. It is a plate with every piece of food that could fit on plate number 1. I don’t post my plates and try my best to scroll past the other plates that day. I love how happy everyone is. I love how people give the best hugs that they must have been saving all year because hugs just feel warmer this day. I love watching my kids interact with family and how happy they are. I love seeing my grandpa do his yearly dance and all of the kids try to teach him the newest and latest moves. I record it every year. I know eventually it will be a memory that we will hold on to. I love calling my family and hearing about what they are doing. We generally stay in Philadelphia for Thanksgiving so I call the Lancaster family or FaceTime them . It’s always good to check on them and to see how much potato salad my mom made. I love talking to my friends and checking in on them. We have one set of friends this year who will be parents. So baby watch is in full effect. I love waking up to the smells of the kitchen. The only thing about the holidays that we miss is my Mother in Law, Deborah, my great grand parents, Beverly and Olivia Sims, and my maternal grandfather Fred McGinnis. I always wake up and remember them on these big holidays. I wonder what they would be doing if they were. I know their memory will live on.
I hope that as you prepare for the holiday of Thanksgiving that you remember what it’s about. That you take in the moments that you can. That you remember how grateful you should be on that day and everyday. I hope that you will have a great Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. I hope that it’s not ruined by anyone. If you know you are bound to cause issues don’t go to someone else’s home starting stuff. Stay home. Thanksgiving isn’t the arena to air out differences. It’s a time to come together. Go to those you need to make it right with, and do it before the dinner. Don’t come to the dinner table ready to start the mess that could have been worked out before the day. Work it out or find another home by which you can have a good time. Drama and holidays don’t have to mix. Also to some of my friends who I know the holidays trigger you, you don’t have to be the one to start issues to not go to a function that will further trigger you. I would rather you do a Friendsgiving than a family one if the family one is going to make you all kinds of upset. I don’t spend my time holidays or not around folks that I feel I can’t get along with. Life is too short to spend it with miserable people.
Also I know some deal with anxiety of getting together with others. I would try to take someone with you if you can. Also if there is a family member you get along with more, stay around them until you get comfortable. Especially if you haven’t seen others in quite some time. Be prepared for the 3rd degree. Those family members that’s asking others a thousand questions, leave folks alone. It’s no ones business why they aint married or have kids yet, worry about your own mate and kids. These types of situations make it hard for some folks to be around your nosey behind. Eat your turkey in peace and leave other folks lives alone.
Let folks come and enjoy their time together. That is what I love, the coming together without the issues. Eat and have a good time-sharing your gratefulness!
So this is the last weekend before Thanksgiving. Keep in mind that the grocery stores will be super crowded. So take your patience with you as you travel out. Between stores and traffic it will be a testing time.
Prepare for the holidays with more than what you will eat. Think about who you will invite and if you can find it in your heart to give towards others who may not be as fortunate. Think about ways you and your family can assist others either by donating food to food banks, volunteering to serve meals to others on Thanksgiving morning, or finding a family to sponsor. Either way let’s open our hearts to one another.
Another way to get ready for the holidays when going to the grocery store is to go with a list. I would attempt to get all that you need and treat it as if it was the day. This will help you to make those trips and you may find it may take more than one. You will always need extra milk, eggs, and butter. So stack up early. I for one know that I need to get the list going so I don’t forget the key items. Thanksgiving eve is not the time to go to the store. All of the last-minute folks will be on super edge. Avoid them if you can.
Also think if you are doing a fancy seating chart, how you want things decorated and who will sit where. Also don’t forget about the kids. It’s best to have activities to keep the littles occupied. This will save from the necessary meltdowns. If you are having dinner at a specific time and you know you are the late type person, have appetizers for others to enjoy while they wait. It’s super annoying to go to someone’s house, arrive on time, and they still making key dishes and they have ZERO snacks. Think about your guest and have good appetizers as well as great drinks. Trust me you will be the hostess with the mostest if you have the necessary food in place.
If you can’t cook let me stress this isn’t the time to train. You should have been practicing all year-long but not today. Today is the day you stick to the things you do well. Maybe that means you should bring the wine. Either way don’t be out here telling folks you got a speciality dish and your food ain’t hitting. I don’t know about you but the way my family is set up, you getting clowned. Stick to what you know and stick to the basics. If you have kids also bring them extra activities. Not all host will keep your children entertained although they should if they invited guests with kids. Even with our kids being a little older, we come prepared with extra outfits, entertainment, and we have a code word if we think things are getting out of hand. We have a code word between my husband and I for everywhere that we go. We use this word if one of us is ready to go or something is happening that is too much. This has been our saving grace.
If you go to someone’s home bring something. I always try to bring something. Like the times we go to my mom’s house. I bring a dessert, something. I have 5 folks in my home. There’s no way I am coming to someone’s home squad deep with nothing in my hand. Unless the person insists, bring a dish. Or even bring a bottle to share. That is always a gift. If the person of whom you are going doesn’t drink, make a non alcoholic drink that is festive to share. There are ways around no alcohol. Get on Pintrest, online, anything and make it special.
Think about what you are going to wear. Some people wing it and that is fine, but if you want to be dressed up, make sure you have your outfit together. My uncle doesn’t require fancy attire so unless I get the kids Thanksgiving shirts, I just stick to being comfortable. If your gathering is requiring more formal affair, be cute and comfy. Do not over do it and especially with kids. They are going to get dirty. They are going to play. They do not ever care about dressed and dress shoes. So go into the situation knowing that and always bring a back up outfit for them so when the pictures are done being taken you can move along and enjoy your day!
Above all be grateful for what you have. Think about the day and what it is all about. More than prepping food, it is about making sure that you spend it with those you love. It’s about being grateful for all advancements that we have. It’s about sitting around the table enjoying one another’s company. So enjoy as you prepare it doesn’t have to be filled with stress! Don’t forget to call your loved ones who couldn’t be with you on the day as well and tell them you love them!
How can you make a difference? This is such an open-ended question. We always have a tenacity to go to what we don’t have before we answer. You start listing all of the things you aren’t before you can just simply find ways to be the difference in someone else’s lives.
Whatever gifts and talents that are inside of you is more than enough to make a difference. Here are a few ways you can give back and make a difference:
One charity starts at home. I hate to see people who are super bomb to everyone around them except their own family. I hate to see it with parents who go out and win everyone else’s child but ignore the issues with their own. I hate to see husbands and wives flex on social media but behind closed doors, give silent treatments and ignore the needs of their spouse. We all have to do better.
Spend more time with your children. Yes you work to provide. Provision is responsibility. Taking time away from your phone, to sing a song, or play one of their games, or sit and ask them what they like and what’s bothering them makes a difference for a child. Try it some time.
Love on your mate. Whether it’s a boo, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife, take some time and spend it on them. Yes gifts are great, but how about watch one of their shows actively with them. How about talk and make sure the air is clear? You can also make a dessert together. These are inexpensive ways to show the ones you love that you are one with them.
Check in on loved ones. We say we love folks but the only time we check in on them is if we have the tea about another family member. Change that. Call and ask if all is well and mean it. Than when you find out it’s not if you can help, help. Also unless someone told you to tell another person, build trust and just listen and not take their issues to another family member so you “can pray about it.”
Show up and be on time ready to work. That’s a ministry all in itself.
Don’t be apart of the office gossip-remember the same lips bringing you the tea, is the same one taking your tea to stir at another pot on you
Be the change in the office you want to see
If the job no longer serves you, don’t stay get an exit plan. This may take time, but be proactive in leaving
Find ways to be more productive even if that means changing the scenery. When work starts to get to me sometimes I redecorate to fit a new mood. It helps me about 60% of the time
Social Media Life
Don’t go back and forth with them……. (in my Lil Duval voice) if you find yourself having to respond to more than one comment just stop. You aren’t going to win an argument on social media with trolls
Be who you post to be. Yeah that’s right. Align your social media to reflect who you are. On my social media I highlight me as a mom and wife. I don’t create doors to let anyone think they have space to slide in the DM. They do but at that point they just are trying to do the most.
Make sure you don’t do subliminal post. This is hard even for me at times. You see a post and it speaks to you but post it cause it spoke to YOU. You can’t be out here taking shots at folks you don’t even @
We all have things that we can give to the world. I came across a young lady on social media that is a hair dresser and she feeds the homeless. This is her life work. She literally gets out there with the folks that many would snub their noses at, and she feeds them and cleans them up and does their hair. She has a whole team of folks that assist her. Think about how her being there does for them. She treats them with dignity and respect. I know if I was down and out the last thing I would want is someone kicking me when I was done. What about those who raise money for others? They are making a difference in the causes by which they are raising it for. How about those who set up camps at the bus stops for kids to make sure all of the kids have breakfast. You don’t know what someone may be going through at home. Everybody ain’t sitting at home collecting checks. Some middle class folks work everyday and still can’t make ends meet. How about the men who go into the community to pray over the city. There are a few groups here in Philadelphia who do it consistently. What can you do? Whatever gift is inside of you can help make a difference.
I said it before but around thanksgiving I see so many companies give back to others and it warms my heart. If you cut hair, how about offer your services to people who can’t afford to maintain their cuts on a regular basis? If you are a financial planner, offer your services to a few families for free to get them out of debt? The sky is the limit. Whatever you do, do it well. Someone needs the very thing you have and complain about. Make a difference today and everyday!
You take a deep breath. You find out what caused you to lose focus. Was it not investing enough time into yourself. This happens more often than most people think. If you aren’t doing a monthly or even weekly check up you can find that on your lists of importance you are on the bottom. You can’t give to someone when you have nothing to give of yourself. Take the time to put you back on the top of your list and make your dreams come true.
What if you don’t have enough resources?
A lot of us don’t have enough resources. We simply are acquiring them as we go along. Join the crowd. End of day, you can still make things happen. If you work your plan and find hiccups, set some intentions. Research what you need and how others in your same position got them. If it worked for them it can work for you. The difference is when you don’t have resources you have to learn to make them. Ask a mom who has limited resources but her children have many needs. If she loves her kids, she gets up and makes it happen.
What if the list are long and overwhelming?
Take that list and put them into categories. What can you do right now? What will take time? List them in order of the time you think it will take to make it happen. Not all dreams if not most are build over night. You have to be doing the work and being consistent. Its like the stories of those who are looking for a job and interviewing. They may hear a thousand Nos until they get to that Yes. Be consistent and keep moving.
What if you lose hope?
Hope isn’t lost its just shifted. You have to be able to refocus yourself. How do you refocus yourself? Look at what you want. Is it something that no matter how many times you put it down, you keep coming back to it? Is it a passion that you feel on a daily basis. If you are at work is it always on your mind? This is where your hope is. Just because you laid your dream down, it didn’t die its crying out to you to pick it up. This is why you talk about it all the time. This is why the desire is burning so bright. It has a hold of you tighter than you have a hold on it. Tighten it up. Get back out there. Be ready for a few Nos. Be ready for times when you feel overwhelmed.
Evaluating your life can be exhausting. It can be mentally draining. All you do is focus on what you don’t have, where you aren’t, the time wasted, etc. you will find it hard to keep going. Find the little victories along the way. Get back up, dust yourself. and get back into your life. Don’t quit on life, make your life happen. Even if that dream takes years as long as you keep moving you will get there. Everyday there is at least one more thing you can do to make your dream happen. If you aren’t doing something everyday than you aren’t working hard enough or smart enough. If you want to lose weight, everyday you should be drinking your water, increasing your exercise, substituting better food in place of bad food. This is daily. If you want to go to school, you need to prepare. Have you gone to the school of your choice and spoke to a counselor? Have you applied for grants online and in your community? Have you filled out the application? Are you working hard in the day to finance school? This is called an action plan. The part where you take your dreams from off the paper and push them into the atmosphere of action so you can see the reward!