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!

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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!

Truth about working from home……

So… it has been nearly 6 months now since agreeing to work for The World’s Biggest E-Retailer, and as expected, I have learned some pearls of wisdom. Juggling mommy duties, wife expectations, and work responsibilities are never easy, and working from home hasn’t lessen the burden. In fact, it has basically burst the air out of the following lies:

1.) “Working from home means that you can cut daycare out of the equation”. – WELP. Let me explain: working from home is great and it does allow you to be close to your kids when it is especially needed. However, in order to effectively complete the duties of your job, childcare IS needed. Currently, I work a shift opposite my hubby’s, meaning that when he is home, I work and he is in daddy mode for our kids. So far it is working, but for how long…..I don’t know. All I know is that my natural energy level is at its highest from 5 am to 2 pm, while he is at work. So for me, working at night is not preferred but rather out of necessity. So outside childcare may be comin’ around that mountain pretty darn soon.

2.) “Working from home is flexible and you can work whenever you want!”- That aforementioned statement really depends on your line of work. Even so, you must manage your time properly. For those who conduct project-based work assignments, I assume that those individuals can do 2 hours here and another 4 hours there in order to complete the task at hand. But for those who electronically “clock in/out” between available work hours of 6 am and 11 pm CST (such as myself), I have to force myself to carve out a schedule that not only works for me, but for my entire family as well. For example, work after 9:30 pm is a no-go!

3.) “Working from home isn’t real work”. – A lie from the pit of hell. Listen, working from home is a privilege, and privileges can be stripped. Oftentimes, I find myself working a bit harder than the in-office worker. Computer is a bit wonky? I am responsible for getting the kinks out so I can work. Need an ergonomic work chair? It is out of my pocket, buddy. Have an ultra-annoying customer on the line? Deal with it, because my manager and team leader are 5 states away and not always readily available. In short, everyone doesn’t need to be micro-managed but all are not ready for the idea of working solo.

Despite all of what I’ve mentioned, I love working from home, but the real question is : do I want to continue to work from home providing customer service to angry consumers? Uh, not really. But it has allowed to learn some new skills to list on my resume, meet some cool folks, and prep for the next adventure in land of work!

‘Til next time!

Things that I’m loving right now: Cali edition!!!

I’ve just returned from northern California ( Sacramento to be exact) to visit family and I LOVED it! The weather, family, sights of the city and every where leading to the Bay Area was absolutely wonderful. The best thing about traveling is that you become acquainted with things that are not available back home. So, I decided to fill you in on those yummy things that caught my eye!

1.) Nation’s Giant Hamburgers- My hubby and my cousin had already “warned” me about the deliciousness of this food found at this chain, and the burger was great! Lightly toasted bun, burger piled high with sliced white onion, tomato, lettuce, pickles…..1/4 pound beef patty adorned with nice melty cheese….all that. The blueberry cheesecake that I ordered for dessert was absolutely divine. HOWEVER, if I had to make a choice between Texas-based Whataburger and Nation’s, Whataburger will win out. EVERY. TIME. Check ’em out here: http://nationsrestaurants.com/

2.) Del Taco- Granted, there are a few Del Taco restaurants in North Texas, but they were in great abundance in Sac ( to my delight )! In my opinion, Del Taco is Taco Bell’s more noble and honest cousin. The food is always fresh, none of the greasiness associated with Taco Hell, and more variety. My fave: Turkey Soft Tacos!!!!!

3.) Souley Vegan- Ah, yes…..Souley Vegan: a vegan restaurant specializing in soul food. Me and my crew ( hubby and kiddos) took a 50 minute drive into the Bay Area to Oakland to try this place out. It was well worth it. Keep in mind, it was vegan, so no meat, no refined sugars, no eggs and no dairy…….so how on earth did their mac n cheeze get so “creamy” ( for lack of a better word)????? Was it magic?! While my hubby ordered the broccoli and wild rice “cheeze” casserole, I indulged in the “shrimp” po-boy. Yes, it was diced up marinated seitan, dusted in cornmeal, and deep fried to Southern perfection. It was then laid on pillows of shredded lettuce on nice fluffy-soft French bread. It was further dressed with a drizzle of tartar sauce, and with a generous squeeze of lemon, sent my taste buds into overdrive. (See here: IMG_20160322_105246) I washed all of that down with orange-infused water ( again no refined sugar) and picked up a slice of red velvet cake for dessert. The taste of the red velvet was spot-on, and I could not tell the difference between that and regular boxed cake mix made with the usual stuff. Peep the deets here: http://www.souleyvegan.com/

4.) Roundtable Pizza – Roundtable Pizza came highly recommended by both my hubby and mother-in-law, and it did not disappoint. I had a personal size veggie pizza with garlic alfredo sauce, and it was delicious! The crust had a nice chew to it without being too hard. The cheese pizza was good as well- nice, bubbly cheese browned to pizza perfection on a hand tossed crust. It was definitely a grade above Domino’s! Here’s the link to the company website: http://www.roundtablepizza.com/rtp/

Let’s play catch up!

Good morning (or evening, depending on when you’re reading this)! It has been quite some time since I last posted- and a lot has happened! So, let’s catch up, shall we?

1.) Family emergency- Barely into the new year, my hubby was rushed to the ER with symptoms similar to a heart attack (you know, chest pain, sweating, shortness of breath). Despite his insistence that he drive himself to the hospital, I immediately called 911. Words cannot express the fear that I felt as the paramedics put him in the ambulance at 3 a.m, while I shuffled our toddler son and infant daughter into the car to meet up with him at the hospital. The doctors diagnosed him wth atrial fibrillation, prescribed meds that he will need for the rest of his life, and kicked off an immediate need for lifestyle reform….which leads to the next point…..

2.) Lifestyle changes as a result of aforementioned family emergency- Lately I have been working out with Tiffany Rothe videos on You Tube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyVvJnPgyko). 15-30 minutes a day for at least 5 days out of the week have proven to be successful! Being able to wear clothes purchased 6 years ago (waaaay before the arrival of my kids) has been the best motivator for me. My hubby has been searching for the best way to incorporate physicial activity at his job, which requires him to sit at a desk most of the day. So far, walking during his lunch break is a great start. Another thing I’ve been working on is eliminating refined sugars and dairy, as well as cutting back on caffeine and meat. It’s kinda difficult, because I love my sweet tea, passionate over Whataburger patty melts, and I am a total cheesehead! However, I have used agave and unrefined sugar, and am looking at cheese substitutes like Daiya and Follow My Heart. I’m a big fan of Gardein, but getting my whole family on board is a work in progress!!

3.) Working at home for the major retailer- Work is good. It’s flexible and allows me to work from home, which works perfectly in my lifestyle as a stay at home mom with NO outside childcare. However, there is no career growth with this position, and I am wondering how long I can continue to work with no outside childcare (hubby watches the kiddos in the evening while I work). I can’t deny it- I am at best when I work in the morning, and it is hard for me to sit at my desk for two hours at a time, while assisting angry customers with billing and order issues. Finally, my college degree and family pedigree has prepped me for entrepreneurship. My father owned a janitorial service company, just as his parents did. Being an entrepreneur is in my blood.

4.) New enterprises??- Actually I am working on TWO projects. The first one I don’t mind speaking freely about; the second enterprise is something that my hubby and I are actively working on and is still in the infancy stage but very promising. In December 2015, I signed up as a Brand Ambassador for La Senorita Jolie. I needed a new challenge, some extra income, AND a new wardrobe! I can honestly say that the clothes are beautifully made and perfect in designing a minimalist wardrobe- which is like manna for moms! Each piece can be layered with another piece, timeless to wear, and extremely flattering for every body type out there. Each garment from this line is an investment, and moves seamlessly from home to office to play. I’m considering on FINALLY taking my brother’s advice and do some videos for this blog- perhaps I will do some for LSJ? For more info, click here: https://lasenoritajolie.com/Guest/Order/Product.aspx

So that’s it…..for now!

Is MLM evil? A realistic view at direct sales

Yesterday, I read an great article from Christianity Today, entitled “The Divine Rise of Multi-Level Marketing” (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/december/divine-rise-of-multilevel-marketing-christians-mlm.html).The article discussed the problematic nature of MLMs (aka direct sales), particularly among Christians (apparently you have some Christians who are so overzealous in pitching their wares to the flock that it has resulted in strained communication and church budgets alike). Being a veteran of direct sales ( I was a pretty decent Avon lady back in the day!), I was intrigued by the ultimate argument posed by the article: Is MLM a bad thing to join? Here’s a snippet that I found very interesting: “Further, MLM allows Christian women to engage business, community, and family at once, in a way that the current work–home divide doesn’t allow for, at least not as seamlessly. Many women want to work and raise a family without the demands of a 9-to-5 job.” From here, let’s break down what MLM is- and isn’t.

1.) MLM is NOT an “easy job”. Potential to make money is there…..are you willing to work for it? I’m not gonna lie- upon joining a MLM, you are goaded into thinking that “the product will sell itself”, blah blah. Newsflash: a box of facial cream is an inanimate object. It cannot speak or think. That means that you are going to have to draft a plan to pitch your product- and a good one, at that. Hopefully, you have a competent team leader that will train/groom you for the next 30 or so days. Sounds like work? That’s because IT IS WORK. Also, remember this: you won’t make a ton of dough by not putting in the necessary prep time.

2.) MLM is NOT a license to annoy the ones you claim to love. Treat your MLM like a business. When I say that, I mean this: don’t mix personal with professional. Don’t badger your mom, sister, and friends in purchasing a product in order to make a lil’ change. Prior to signing the agreement, actually read the compensation plan- and re-read it, if necessary. Create a budget. Write a vision statement, then draft an actual business plan. Store it next to your signed agreement. Once again, this is not a “jobby” ( a hobby masquerading as a job).

3.) MLM will NOT make you a sales guru. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Everyone is not cut out for selling stuff. If your feelings are hurt if someone doesn’t text you back in an appropriate time, then chances are, direct sales is not for you. You have to have tough skin in this line of work. Persistence is key.

4.) Believe in the product that you have chosen to sell. Plain and simple. If you are passionate about a certain product line and believe that it can work for the other person, that excitement will shine through.

Just my input on the whole debate…..thoughts? Leave them in the comment section!