Catch up time, AKA what I’ve been up to for the past 3 months…..

Time flies when you’re having fun- or something like that. Looking back over the past 3 months, it feels like that I have been operating in an underground bunker- hard at work, largely hidden away from the world, and connected to the outside solely by social media. Working from home has highlighted some cold, hard facts: 1.) Get social for the sake of your health; and 2.) Never feel that you can’t change your course/path while working from home. The first fact was of the upmost importance to me. By nature I tend to lean more so on the introverted side when left to my own devices ( hence my love of books, solitary time, writing, you get the idea). However, being a stay at home mom to two young children by day and working from home by night left me longing for some adult interaction besides chatting with my hubby and going to the grocery store. So, I did what any sane woman would do: I started Googling mom groups. I reached out to my local Mocha Moms group and scheduled a playdate for the first time in August, and it went very well! I met some great ladies, and my kids were entertained.

The second fact was one that I had to accept with some humility. Sustaining any kind of income by working from home takes determination (to finish work and make that money despite numerous distractions), focus ( begin with the end in mind), and honesty ( to objectively critique your progress, keep that which works for you and discard the things that do NOT work). I had to come to some tough conclusions about my journey. In short, I discovered that I needed more: more structure, more outside childcare, and last but not least- more opportunity for growth! Working for the world’s biggest e-retailer is great, but I need a set schedule in order to plan activities with my family. I’m not opposed to quality childcare, but great caregivers can be expensive….catch my drift? The initial reasons for working for them have changed. I simply need more in order to stay relevant and competitive in this economy. (I will talk more about this in future posts.) I will say this: working from home is still in the plan, perhaps just with a different employer!

Speaking of work, in September I parted ways with the direct sales company that I joined in December 2015, La Senorita Jolie- and a bit of relief. I wasn’t like I had invested several hundred dollars ( I joined the company with $6 bucks and monthly website maintenance was embarrassingly low). Here’s the take-away thing about marketing/selling certain products: consumable products (i.e. skincare and cosmetic) are easier to market to others than clothing. In other words, it’s easier and economical to spruce up a look or pamper yourself with a great red lipstick and a detox mask than to pay $135 for a jumpsuit. Being the frugal person that I have become, the company’s vision ultimately didn’t line up with mine (especially when you can achieve the minimalist look with items from Thred Up* at 1/3 of the cost). So, at this point, I liken the process of finding a great direct sales company to speed dating. And I am having a blast! I just joined two companies over this past weekend (Origami Owl for $2, and Thirty One Gifts for $1- in all $3 bucks), and I am an unashamed “kitnapper”! I am enjoying the process, getting a feel for each’s company culture, and meeting some great folks along the way.

So….this is my life at this current point. Til next time……..

P.S. A huge thank you for those that have subscribed to the madness that is my blog! I love you all.

*You can find some amazing finds on Thred UP. Here’s $10 dollars on me…..go and look for that perfect bag or dress using this code: http://www.thredup.com/r/UO6SGQ

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Sanity savers for stay at home mom who also work from home

Being a stay at home mom by day/ work from home mom by night is NOT for the faint of heart. It takes prayer, discipline, diligence, and lots of caffeine to remain focused. Even then, you need some reinforcements! Let me share my list of sanity savers with you:

1. Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies – Between maintaining my marriage, raising kids, and being a productive worker, my spirit often needs to be fed to maintain its health. Being a Christian, maintaining my relationship with God is extremely important. While I make it a priority to attend worship services weekly, it is not always possible for me to attend Wednesday night prayer meeting. That’s where Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies comes into play! For 6 weeks at a time, I can join thousands of ladies online by immersing myself in a Bible study group, and reading the required material ( which is the Bible of course, and another book- typically a devotional). The Thursday Night Bible Study Live event on Facebook is legendary and encourages me to pursue deeper study of the Word. Check it out here: http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/

2. Team Beachbody- When I consistently work out, I am more focused and energetic throughout the whole day. I decided to get back into the swing of things by doing a free trial of Team Beachbody. Now, I have access to popular workout plans such as CIZE, PBX90, and Insanity. In addition, I have my own personal fitness coach, and access to food plans to keep me on track. Find out more at http://www.teambeachbody.com/home

3. Apps such as Evernote and Keep- I discovered the power of apps thru the Working Motherhood podcast. Evernote is a great way to jot down your notes and various lists to stay on track. As for Keep (available in Google Play store), in my own opinion, it is just like Evernote and easily syncs from your computer to your smartphone.

4. Coffee- Hot or cold, Starbucks or Mickey D’s- it’s all good and oh-so-needed!

‘Til next time!

Is it worth buying?: Truffle mac n cheese

Just about everyone who knows me knows that I am a foodie, and that when it comes to cuisine I am willing to try almost anything! (I say ALMOST, because unlike Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern I draw the line at eating stuff such as animal testicles, intestines, brains and bugs.) With that said, as I was grocery shopping at my local ALDI, my little brown eye saw IT: a box of truffle macaroni and cheese!13613365_10104686030359630_2488337853857073116_o
I’m learning NOT to be an implusive shopper, so I left that little package on the shelf as I made my way to the checkout line. Yet, I wondered: “I wonder if that stuff is really good….hmmmmmm….” Two days later, I plunked down $1.80 for this product and couldn’t wait to head home to serve it up! The truffle mac and cheese is actually ALDI’s gourmet line, Carefully Selected (the same line that produced my fave ice cream flavor, Coffee Espresso Chip) and is quite easy to prepare. The shell pasta was parboiled so there was no long cooking time. I added hot water to the powdered cheese-truffle blend, but there was no gritty taste whatsoever. In 5-7 minutes, the dish was ready to serve and it did not disappoint. It was delightfully cheesy, with a lovely buttery finish that was only enhanced by the earthiness of the truffles. In short, it was decadently rich without breaking the bank. Final verdict: I wholeheartedly recommend this product!!

Til’ next time!!

Working your (side) money makers…….

In no way will these sites make one rich, but it gives you some options, especially if you’re a stay at home/work from home mom like me. These 3 sites have personally been very profitable for me, so I will pass them onto you!

Ebates- This has quickly turned in a fave of mine! I love to hunt for great deals online, and with Ebates you can actually earn some cash back. The checks are dispersed 4 times a year via an actual check or via PayPal. Click here to find out more info and to sign up: http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=fYhT73LN4UAp9S1VfMPVtA%3D%3D&eeid=28187

Swagbucks- Swagbucks is a fun way to earn gift cards to places like Wal-Mart, Target, Starbucks, Amazon, and so many others! To find out more about this innovative program, check out my referral link: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/MRSPHILLIPS1

Ibotta- New to the money maker game, Ibotta is an app placed on your smartphone, allowing you to unlock rebates for various grocery purchases. The minimum payout is $20, and you can have the funds sent to you via PayPal. For more information, go to https://ibotta.com/r/crktipm

Enjoy!

Things that I’m loving now: Summer 2016 edition

It’s been awhile since my last post, so I decided to talk about something fun and NOT about work! 🙂

1.) Coffee ice cream- It’s funny that I’m even adding ice cream to this list, period! As much as I love cheese and other dairy products, I have to have a craving for ice cream in order to purchase some. Well, considering the hot, sticky humidity hovering around my city lately, it was only fitting to pick up something cold and creamy. Behold the Coffee Espresso Chip ice cream at ALDI! Seen here with my glass of Welch’s mock sangria 20160624_204344 (1)

2.) International Delight Iced coffee-13465969_10104618331478730_7395440021902591431_n I love coffee, but the money spent running to Starbucks every morning can add up quickly! Hence, picking up International Delight’s Iced Coffee in Mocha is far more tasty- and economical.

3.) Gardein crabless cakes- For those that don’t know, for religious reasons I abstain from pork, shellfish, and other scavengers. Yet I will not lie: shrimp and crab can be extremely yummy! So, I began to search for alternatives. Behold Gardein’s crabless cakes!13608130_10104669263969610_405078171_n I’m no stranger to Gardein, and while I’m not vegan, I appreciate their beefless tips when whipping up steak tacos or using the porkless bites for my sweet n sour dish. The crabless cakes did not disappoint. Upon opening the bag, there’s a familiar seafood/oceanic smell. Once warmed (pan fried is best), the texture is slightly flaky (reminiscent of real crab) and the taste is wonderful, especially served with mayo!

5.) Black Radiance BB cream- As a dark-skinned African American woman, finding makeup that complements the richness of my tone can be problematic, especially when it comes to tinted moisturizers. More often that not, the ingredient titanium dioxide can create an ashy effect on dark skin- not sexy. Not so with that drugstore gem Black Radiance! Their BB cream in Chocolate goes on light, is not overly greasy, and gives me great coverage in the summer- can’t beat it! To find stores that carry this great product, click here: http://www.blackradiancebeauty.com/store-locator

6.) Thread UP!- I discovered this online consignment store a few months ago via the blog Single Moms’ Income . The referral code came with a $10 credit so I thought “Why the hell not???” Once I started searching thru the site, I was blown away by the quality and variety of labels presented ( everything from Old Navy/Gap to DVF, with some LV thrown in ). I have ordered and enjoyed several items from the site, and now I challenge you to check out Thread UP for yourself by giving you my referral code: http://www.thredup.com/r/UO6SGQ . There’s a $10 credit attached to that, so enjoy yourself! You won’t regret it!

Work work work!

Lately, I had been getting so many requests and questions about working from home: “what’s like?”, “How do I get started?” and the like. Before I get started, let’s be clear: working from home is NOT a skill. I repeat, NOT. A. SKILL! It’s a privilege, and privileges can be taken away! Instead, think of what you can bring to the proverbial table within the setting and privacy of your home. Think of industries that best complement your skill set and goals. Also, embrace the idea of entrepreneurship if you cannot find anything to suit your aspirations. BUT……after all of that, and you’re like “I just want a job from home!!!” OK. I hear you! Just so you know, there are tons of companies out there that hire at home workers. The challenge is where to find ’em! For me, I learned to take a more unconventional approach. I have found the best job leads thru the following:

Babycenter Work at Home community board
Single Moms Income
The Work at Home Wife
Money Saving Mom

You’re probably thinking, “But these are mommy blogs?!” And yes, they cater to the working mom. From my experience, Indeed, Career Builder and such did not meet my needs in the search for remote jobs. With the aforementioned blogs, the content is up to date daily ( if not hourly) and you’re smack dab in the community of like-minded folk. For those who are serious about making money from home, let your fingers do the walking and log on! Let me know if the sites work for you in your search for remote employment!