Who doesn’t love getting a mani/pedi? How about a salon trip? It feels amazing to pamper yourself or just continue your up keep. As much as these activities are awesome and can be forms of self-care, do not limit that to your only self-care. Increase self-care to those things that bring joy into your heart and life. What about that hobby that brings the type of smile that can’t be wiped away? What about making time with friends a priority? What about going back to school to accomplish a goal you left sitting? What about making time for rest and unplugging? We all need to dip deeper into self care now more than ever.
When I hear older folks make complaints such as “what is this self-care business, we didn’t have that growing up,” it irks me. Those be the same women that have the most insecurities, the most hard battles in their spirit that have gone unchecked. When you know better you do better. Why aren’t you practicing it yourself or encouraging the younger generation to focus on their mental health just because no one encouraged you? You remember them lonely battles you fought? Remember that feeling of being overwhelmed? Why would you want another woman or man to go through that? Even it made someone 5 seconds better, it’s worth it. Encourage and then practice it yourself. 2019 is about accountability and that is even in how we treat ourselves. We can’t expect anyone to treat us well when we treat ourselves badly. Think about it from head to toe. What are you doing to make you whole? If you are still eating, drinking, not working out, have a thousand bad habits that contribute to your body and mind’s demise, these things need to be worked out.
Self care is about self-preservation. It pulls you out of darkness and makes you alert. When you don’t practice self-care often times you are numb to things and people around you. It doesn’t stop bad things from coming but it can help you deal with it that much more. Think about the times you let yourself go mentally. You weren’t even ready for hits that life was about to throw. Self care is super important. I don’t care what you call it. You can call it self-care, self-love, me time, whatever it is find it, be consistent, and then add some more. There is no such thing as too much self-care. That is impossible. Having joy in this world is what keeps people from feeling hopeless. That hopeless feeling leads people into paths that don’t bring about positive results. People need hope. Joy isn’t about walking around with a smile 24/7. It means that you have things in your life that bring you real happiness no matter what. Self care is about preserving peace in a world full of chaos. Self care is about loving yourself even when the world wants to make you feel unlovable. Self care doesn’t care what your status is in life. Self care is important. Please invest in yourself. Practice some more self-care!
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!
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!
Now let me say that I think education is a beautiful thing. Hello I have my undergrad degree. So I would have had to like school lol. None the less these back to school commercials I know for a fact are setting parents anxiety levels and even more our teachers.
Now I know some parents couldn’t get their kids into Summer camp so the awaited back to school commercials are a welcome. What I’m going to need you to do is start early next year and get the babies somewhere to go. I heard parents in the grocery store talking about they just dumped their kids off to their moms all Summer. I’m like how nice if momma is fun and can handle them. If not momma or big momma don’t want your kids either. I know we all got to work but lawd don’t do momma and big momma like that.
So now it’s time to focus the coins and get our minds set on back to school. There are a few things you can do to help your school year be better than last year.
1. One month before start sending them babies big and small to bed like they were going to school. Try like 2 or 3 days a week. Then when the time gets closer make it everyday. This will take the dreaded back to school complaints because they will be used to taking their behinds to bed.
2. Take electronics out of their room. I’m telling you if they don’t pay bills in your house they don’t need to surf a web nor text a soul at bedtime. All you are doing is stimulating their minds and they aren’t getting quality sleep. We kept our kids on the same school year schedule with their electronics. So no crying and dying going on. Plus they are going to bed charging these things trying to cause potential fires. Who got money for all of this? You don’t so don’t start these bad habits.
3. If they haven’t read a book all Summer please get them a book. Have them present what they read to you. Most schools have a Summer reading list. It’s meant to keep their minds sharp. You aren’t helping them by ignoring the list. Get them reading. If they can whip and nae nae they can read. Guess what that will take? Energy on both you and them.
4. Start early. Parents this is going to sound ignorant but I promise you it’s not meant to be. You know when school starts every year. Yet these kids go to school and got a long list of the ain’t gots. They ain’t got a pencil, ain’t got a piece of paper. Are you the parent? If you don’t teach them to be prepared how will they? Little Johnie going to be an adult that got the same list of the aint gots too. Put them coins away and get them ready. I swear I be ready to go ape on my kids’ school when they send that please have the right this and that during the school year. My answer to it is send this to the parents whose child isn’t complying. I know some parents don’t have it. I get it. But let me say I know some parents who push past that. The ones who complain they don’t have be the first one grabbing all the free backpacks up from the needy kids but have 100 Jordan sneaker but no pencil the first month of school. Do better plain and simple. I don’t have to mence my words for grown folks.
Along the lines of start early is to buy more of the supplies they are liable to be used the most during the school year. Always get more pencils, markers etc. Get them on sale. Start at the Dollar Store than outsource the rest. But do not wait until the last minute unless you had it last minute or just like the thrill of going to 3 stores the night before.
Also I’ve said it before but pack lunches, snacks, and bags the night before for them and you. You will appreciate it when you hit that snooze button too many times. Kids are forgetful.
5. Get a calendar. Yes a planner is beautiful but also get one of those wipe away calendars too. It keeps the whole house right especially if your kids are beyond 1st grade. Visualization is a beautiful and stimulating thing. They can read. Place important dates and assignments on there. Also spend some time with the back to school papers they send home in the first weeks. Write things down or set alerts in your phone. I’ve been doing this since I was in grade school. Please ask any of my teachers I’ve never missed a paper or deadline. I apply the same with my kids too. The system of being prepared works.
6. Breakfast. I am super grateful that many school districts are giving all kids meals. There are some who do not. Please make your child’s breakfast important. As an adult I will tune you out or be super angry if I haven’t eaten. How much more for a kid? Feed these babies. There are many discount stores that make it easier for parents to not have to choose food over bills. Time is hard but we have to invest in our kids. What they eat is important. I ain’t even gonna front like my kids haven’t had a pop tart a time or two but make better choices. I see kids eating chips and soda in the am and regardless of parenting styles none of these options are nutritious. Keep good options in the house and see that they take it serious by you taking it serious too.
7. Clothes. I used to think that uniforms were a dumb idea but in general they are a good idea because you don’t have the drama of figuring out clothes even if you pick at night. FYI, just like with lunches and bags packed, having clothes ironed and ready to go either the night before or for the week is another time saver. If your child didn’t earn descent grades last year please invest the same thoughts into their cloth choices and sneakers. As much as I personally wouldn’t buy my kids expensive shoes, if you have a good child and you want to use your coin for them than so be it. Let them earn it. Why are you buying Johnie a pair of Jordans and he repeating the same grade from last year? Trust me his recycled teacher has seen it. Kids feet grow too fast to be making that type of investment. Don’t invest in super fly clothes for these non deserving kids.
8. Bullying. This to me is an at home issue way before it comes to the school. As I have always been on my kids asking questions, being involved and present please do the same. Kids are afraid. Take a stand to be sure you aren’t sending bullies from your home. I will say I’m not tolerating one excuse from any administrator about “sensitive” kids. I’m not tolerating making one set of kids go through hoops meanwhile the aggressive child sit untouched. I rather be the biggest pain in the ass to my kid’s school before I sit back and loose my kids to a bully. We are not living in my time when kids could nit pick and just move on. Maybe kids should be stronger. I teach mine to be strong. I teach them to speak up but words hurt. I will not hesitate to do pop ups on schools. You know your child and if you know your child is a problem handle them at home. This past school year in Philly a 10 year old took his own life. A child decided that somebody’s unruly child was talking to them, hitting them too much and he had no one to help him and ended his life. Potential gone. His gift to the world unimagined. I personally will blow the whistle on any school, daycare, or teaching facility who dusts under the rug a bully and I truly mean it.
The school year is coming super fast. August is literally a few weeks away and that is when the dash to get our kids ready will take flight. Please get their minds right while you get their clothing and shoes right. School is important so if you make it a priority so will your kids. I wish all the children a successful and stress less and protected school year. My hope is that no child is taken by gun violence and that each child will be super successful!! I can’t wait to see all of the back to school pictures. Until then get them reading and enjoying their Summer.