Is marriage meant for love- or for something else?

Normally on my blog I really don’t talk about anything political and controversial. I try to keep it easy and breezy. Not because I can’t mentally grasp and dissect heavy themes, but I try to use this space as a way to divert my attention from the serious social ills of society (police brutality, immigration woes, so forth). So, if you check out prior blog posts, I talk a lot about food and beauty products (and some other trivial stuff). But this topic caught my eye, and not really in a positive way. On FB, I follow tons of groups, all based on my varied interests. Out of the many groups I belong to, I follow a religious-based group daily, mainly because the content is hilarious. (I like to think that God has a sense of humor, and laughter IS good for the soul!), However, the levity is balanced with serious questions about developing a relationship with God, child-rearing, forgiveness, and of course dating/marriage. Recently, one member shared a video in which the narrator mentioned viral relationship pundit Ro Elori Cutno, and how she kinda agreed with Cutno (marriage is not based off love, rather it is for generational success and personal growth). As she explained that while love is a component of marriage, it isn’t a vehicle for it, but rather it is used to build. Honestly, as she spoke I just cringed on the inside. Let me break it down for you……

1.) Let’s address marriage from a spiritual standpoint: For those you who don’t realize it, I am a Christian who happens to be a Seventh-Day Adventist as well. I have always viewed marriage as not only a civil contract between a man and a woman, but as a higher, deeper symbolic relationship in how Christ interacts His people (i.e. the church). Love, grace, and forgiveness are driving forces in our individual walk with God. As such, these things do come up in the marriage covenant as well.

2.) Marriage is not an escape from reality: When I married my husband nearly eight years ago, I was amazed on how ordinary I felt as a newlywed. Let me explain fully….. I was now dealing with the reality of sharing time, space and resources with someone else I loved. With that said, I was not shielded from work stress, arguments, and other bad situations. Now, I had (and still do have) someone who was going to walk with me during this time. Bringing this back to Cutno: as a black woman in America, I am constantly warring against prejudices fueled by stereotypes. It did not lessen when I got married and had children. Putting it out there for ya: Cutno and her followers believe that they can avoid these by marrying African men (wealthy ones, if possible) and living overseas. At that point, marriage has now become a vehicle to avoid the political/societal ramifications of being black in the US. Going back to point #1, who/what is the center of YOUR marriage?

3.) What does it mean to build within marriage?: What are your goals in a marriage? Is it solely financial? Is it to gratify only your needs for importance? Are you trying to use your spouse to avoid reality? None of that is healthy for you or your spouse. Aside from love, what is the strongest bond keeping you two together and afloat in a culture that constantly changes and is challenging?

I get frustrated when folks use marriage to advance personal agendas without including the divine source that created the institution of it. Marriage is beautiful, difficult, and simultaneously rewarding. Much like our spiritual lives.

What are your thoughts on marriage?

P.S. check out the vid that inspired this post here: http://https://www.facebook.com/TorahCents/videos/1534576779919294/

From minicars to minivans and online book clubs

Daily, it is becoming apparent that I am middle-aged (35, to be exact) by my thoughts. What was hot in my 20s is pointless in my 30s. Case in point: 10 years ago, I LOVED small cars like the Kia Soul and that other one, the Scion (don’t judge. I was 25, single, and childless). For some reason, cars shaped like boxes struck me as hip and cool. Nowadays, box-shaped vehicles don’t really mesh well with my lifestyle. Lately, I have been desiring the vehicle that smacks of middleagedom: the minivan.

I LOVE the space that it offers ( especially the fact that I can place my kids in it without them touching each other and fighting over snacks!). I’ve gotten a lot of suggestions, but my mind keeps going to that Kia brand- the Sorrento, to be exact. Good price tag, 10 year warranty- just what this mama and her family need!

Speaking of mama needs, being a SAHM by day and WAHM by night means that carving out that “me time” is of the utmost importance. Funny- in my 20s “me time” was easy to find and indulge in. But in these times, I fight for those precious minutes. No one wants a sleep-deprived, emotional wreck around them, right? So, I create “me time” moments. Enjoying a glass of chilled white wine from ALDI with the hubby on a Saturday night once the kids drift off to sleep is fabulous. Performing a Jamberry mani and pedi at night while listening to an audiobook is next on my list. In fact, reading has now returned to my fave list of things to do. I vividly remember that at one point, it was difficult to even have the time to read one paragraph, much less the whole book. Currently I am part of the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study, and for the remainder of this month and next, I will be reading “I Am Loved”, a devotional by Wendy Blight, along with the Bible. Proverbs 31 has really kept me afloat spiritually and filled a need for community, especially among women. I highly recommend it for women who lack an active women’s ministry or a church home altogether.

Online book clubs tend to work well for me. I joined Mocha Girls Read via Goodreads, but I am tempted to create a short-term virtual meet-up on my own. At this point, I am weighting two choices: should I keep it light-hearted, or tackle more serious matter? We shall see.

So, I want to know: what are your thoughts on minivans? Uncool or crucial to your household? Also, are virtual bible study groups (or online book clubs) the best thing since sliced bread, or detrimental to socialization? Share your thoughts!

Til next time!

Is cable overrated (YES): My thoughts on DIRECTVNOW

 

 

 

 

Cable is sooooooooooooo overrated. Honestly, you are paying for reruns and news that has often gone viral hours earlier. But I understand its appeal as a handy way to distract your kids- or yourself, for that matter. With that being said, I can say that I loathe the idea of paying a bundle of money for entertainment purposes, when we live in the era of Netflix , Hulu, and Sling. So, imagine my surprise when I noticed that DIRECTV ( long known for its pricey tag) decided to jump into the streaming game and offer packages started at $35. Heck, they even offer a free week-long trial. I signed up and observed some things, only to realize that I actually like what they have to offer!

1.) They offer the ALL local channels in real time- This is something that Sling doesn’t  offer. Of course, if you own a smart TV and a HD antenna, then picking up the local channels won’t be a problem. But if you’re down to a laptop, tablet, and/or smartphone, then you can appreciate watching local news using this service.

2.) They have a user friendly interface- Clear prompts, easy to navigate and search for programs by network, title, and time. a few months ago, I tried Hulu with the Live TV option as a trial and became annoyed by  the lack of ease in navigating the site.

3.) They have included Universal Kids- ‘Nuff said.

Now you may feel differently about DIRECTVNOW and remain devoted to cable. Or you may love to a la carte options provided by Sling, and binge-watching capabilities offered by Netflix and Hulu. All I know is once this free trial is over, I will have to make some serious decisions, and Spectrum is on the chopping black.

‘Til next time!

Is Drunk Jelly worth all the hype?!

Liking all things wine is an admittedly acquired taste. It’s not for everyone. But it works out fine for a self-proclaimed foodie such as myself! A few months ago I discovered Drunk Jelly– basically, jelly made from wine. As we all know, once alcohol meets heat, the booze essentially evaporates, leaving behind that unmistakable taste. Once I read up on this promising new confection, I knew that I had to have it! So I ordered a small jar of the ros`e jelly from its website, and waited patiently for that translucent goodness.

After a few weeks, that small package arrived, and it did not disappoint! I slathered that stuff on toast (see above) , biscuits and yes, even with peanut butter on whole wheat bread. The taste is sweet, with strong flavors of cherry and watermelon, with a tart accent. Think of it as grape jelly’s younger hipster cousin. Keep in mind, it’s not something you want to eat everyday. I purchased my small jar in late summer, and I still have a substantial amount leftover. Like fine wine, it’s best consumed in small amounts……..

‘Til next time!

Jamberry, alcohol free booze, and cozy leggings: my faves for Fall 2017


A source of cheap joy as a mother.

Working motherhood has its highs and lows. I mean, the pendulum swings and you just have to be ready for it. One minute I am working outside the home after a 4 year hiatus from the office! The next, I am back to setting up shop at home. So, here I am: quasi-homeschool mom by day, soon-to-be-work-at-home-mom-once-again by night, blogger in-between. I have embraced who I really am – a coffee-swilling, athleisure-clad woman who is in a mommy group and lives for Mom Night Out. I wear it well. And here we are – it’s November 2017. Fall is a great time of year. Temps are starting to drop, layers of clothing are applied, and it is BOOT season!! (I would mention football season, but considering my stance and the way the Cowboys are playing…..UM NO). So, without further ado, My faves for FALL!!!

1.) Leggings from Five Below: Leggings and their adorable cousin, yoga pants, are mainstays in my wardrobe. Printed or plain, I love ’em all! However, I have my limits, in terms of pricing. My main rule: don’t pay over $15.84 (the Wal-Mart price) for those jokers. I mean, really. Leggings are leggings. Thin material, some degree of reinforcement in the crotch area – they are all the same. So, paying $25 a pop is quite foolish to me. So, imagine my joy when I discovered leggings $5 a PAIR at Five Below. Yes – FIVE FREAKIN’ DOLLARS. And they just released faux cashmere jogger pants– like leggings, but cozier. My overjoyed self scooped up two of those bad boys while shopping for educational workbooks for my kids.

2.) Skinnies by Jamberry- Sigh, me and Jamberry- we have had an interesting relationship so far! As you can recall, my first attempt at wearing the nail wraps was an epic FAIL. However, their customer service was excellent and my rep Valencia was a sweetheart. My thoughts towards the company changed for the better, and the game changer was that Trushine Gel. That stuff made my mani last a solid 3 weeks.

Then the company rolled out Skinnies– no heat, no drying time. 10 minute application time.
I was sold! So sold, that I joined as a kitnapper for $25 this month. Don’t judge – Valencia and her team are a fun bunch, and I get my stuff discounted.

3.) Fre Wine by Sutter Home: Upon weaning my last child (due to antibiotic use because of a cold), I was happy! No lie – I am now free to ingest what food or beverage that tickles my fancy. However, I should add “almost”. I am not a heavy drinker to due to my religious beliefs, but honestly, I like the taste of champagne. Wine too. So, after the kids are asleep I enjoy a glass of Fre Wine with my hubby. It’s alcohol-removed, so I get the boozy taste minus the hangover – or self-imposed guilt.

( In midst of kids cereal and hot dog buns, no less. )

SO…….what are your faves during this time of year? Leave your comments below!

Lay aside every weight (and the dairy too): My journey with meat and dairy free products…..

Growing up in Texas, anything containing beef and cheese was a-ok in my book! Nachos, burgers, chicken fried steak with cream gravy- ALL OF THAT was awesome! Yet as a kid, I would burn off those calories by simply running around on the playground. Fast forward to now- I have now realized that all of that meat and dairy aren’t the greatest for optimal health. While I haven’t totally eliminated these things from my diet, I will say that I strive to eat more-plant based foods daily. So…….here are my fave meat-free and dairy-free products:

Gardein– I have to admit, Gardein has consistently put out meat substitutes that are actually GOOD! From the beefless tips to the crabless cakes to the porkless bites (chuckles), I have managed to crank out some pretty tasty meals with their products.

Daiya– So far it is the best cheese substitute out there…..It stretches and melts beautifully. However, the taste is little “off”, but still works for me!

Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast– This stuff has become my best friend! It’s sodium free and helps with the cheesy cravings. It tastes pretty good on popcorn, too! Not to mention that it is absolutely wonderful as taco seasoning (see the pic below).

Earth Balance Buttery Spread– It’s like butter, and a step above regular margarine. I bake with it, scramble my eggs with it, and so on. My kids can’t tell the difference, so why spoil the fun?

Tofutti Vegan Sour Cream– Prior to buying this, I attempted to make vegan sour “cream” with tofu, apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. Of course, it was a culinary disaster, and I vowed to stick with the store-bought stuff. It makes my life easier.

This is just a tip of the vegan foodie iceberg……More to come!

‘Til next time!

Jamberry vs. Incoco: The nail battle is REAL (UPDATED!!)

(PREFACE: Yes, it has been a while since I posted anything. Instead of explaining my absence, I decided to just talk about anything, just to break the ice! Enjoy!)

Since I have increased my workouts and have now included using weights to battle that #fatdemon (thanks for that term Chrystal Evans Hurst), I have been concerned with the looks of my hair and……nails. Yes, NAILS. Working out is awesome for the body, but can wreak havoc on my ‘do and fingernails. Lately, I have been wanting my hands to look nice and well, feminine while lifting weights. So, I have been searching for something with easy application and requires virtually little to no drying time. Since I have small kiddos, no babysitter and on a tight budget I looked into the idea of trying Jamberry. For those who don’t recognize the brand, Jamberry is a direct sales company offering nail wraps and lacquer free of toxic chemicals. After hearing about the positive reviews, I decided to hunt up a local rep to try out the product. I ordered the french mani nail wraps from the website, which was very easy to navigate. With tax, shipping and handling, I shelled out roughly $22. According to the site, the wraps were good for 2 applications for fingers and toes- which equates to a month of usage. Not bad economically, considering that you can expect to pay $70 (and up) at the nail salon. After a mix up at the post office, my package arrived two weeks later than expected, but I wasn’t terribly hurt by the delay. However, my first application wasn’t as easy as hoped and the wraps actually slid off my fingers by the morning!!!!! Yet, two factors did play a major role: I didn’t prep my nails ( being wiping my nails down with rubbing alcohol to clean and remove excess oils) and using not enough heat to cause the wraps to better adhere to the natural nail. A week after the failure, I re-applied the wraps with much better success than the first go-around. Yet, I could not ignore the wrinkles on some of the nails that due to the limited flexibility of the wraps. ( I should tell you that the wraps are not 100% nail polish, but much like stickers. Stickers that need added heat to stay on the nails. AHEM. ) In all, the wraps lasted a week. By the end, my tips were looking pretty busted (see below in the pic). I mean, I do deal with babies, housework, and weights- SHEESH! But still….. At this point, I picked up Incoco nail polish wraps from Wal-Mart. I was already familiar with the product, but after the Jamberry issues I decided to give it a whirl, and at $4.97, I was on board! Application was a breeze! No wrinkles, enough stretch to go over all the nail- my nails looked fabulous!!!!! In fact, it is day 7 of wear and they still look pretty good! As much as I want to like Jamberry, I think that they should work on the wraps a bit more to make them more user friendly. However, their customer service is awesome…..I recently received a free pack of french mani wraps! Good way to make a gal happy 🙂

‘Til next time!

(UPDATE: So much for “next time”- try next 30 minutes after publishing this post! : My Jamberry rep Valencia assured me that Jamberry is actively working on improving their wraps, and they’re actually launching some new products in July! I cannot wait to get my little greedy hands on the product and do a review! Again, Jamberry’s customer service is stellar and check out my rep’s site if you’re interested: https://valenciavivaciousnails.jamberry.com/us/en/)