A few days shy of my 34th birthday, I became a first time homeowner! My journey began a little over two years ago when a close friend inspired me to begin thinking about home ownership. After a lot a blood, sweat, and tears I’m glad to have a place that my family calls home! If you’re in the market to purchase a home for the first time, here’s a few things you should know! CLEAN UP YOUR CREDIT! The first step in home ownership is making sure your finances are in order. Simply put, every detail of your financial history and profile will be combed through by lenders, so ensure that you are financially fit prior to applying for any type of approval. Remove derogatory items from your credit report, pay down debts, pay ON TIME, and save as much as possible. Though there are programs that will accept scores starting at 580, I highly suggest securing a 640 or above to get the best rates, access to additional programs, and the best bang for your buck overall. Once approved, it’s time to move on to the next step! YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY SECURE A TRUSTWORTHY REALTOR I cannot stress this enough. My realtor is the reason I was able to secure my home! Although she is a close friend, our relationship became strictly business as I became her client. Having a realtor in place afforded me knowledge on the best lenders, current programs to assist with down-payment and closing costs, and negotiations on my behalf up until we reached the closing table. I never felt alone during this process because my realtor was proactive through every step, ensuring that I was on top of the process. An added bonus was her continuous encouragement for me to “keep going” and see this journey through to the end. If you are in the Atlanta area, I HIGHLY recommend Shanterius Churn of Churn Real Estate. If you’re not, be sure to secure a trustworthy agent who can provide guidance. SAVE, AND THEN SAVE SOME MORE I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always been an amazing steward of my finances. Pursuing home ownership definitely changed that! While I was fortunate enough to find a program that covered my down payment, closing costs were still needed to seal the deal. Having a stable savings and building it consistently was key to being able to get in the home I desired. I was suggest saving at least $10,000 if you are serious about buying in the near future! SET YOUR EXPECTATIONS, BUT BE REALISTIC When I started searching for homes, I initially wanted a property near the city of Atlanta that had been recently renovated. As I began looking I quickly realized I wouldn’t find EXACTLY what I was I looking for. I wrote down my non negotiables, my wish list features, and things I absolutely could not live with it. I used this as my guide to keep me in check when touring homes. I finally found a new construction home in the suburbs, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice! GET THE INSPECTIONThis seems like a no-brainer, but because an inspection isn’t always required, some homeowners skip this crucial step. A home inspection is your safe guard against future issues, and gives you the opportunity to ensure the home is up to standards prior to moving in. A few hundred dollars can save you thousands in the long run! REMEMBER WHY YOU STARTED THE PROCESSWith everything, you should have a reason why. My reason for wanting to become a home owner stemmed from breaking generational curses, and my desire to leave a legacy for my daughter. When the process got hard or seemed impossible, remembering my why pushed me to keep going until I reached the finish line! Home ownership is a true blessing that comes with so much privilege. If you’re in the market, don’t be afraid to questions and seek out assistance. If I can do it, you can too!
While moving into a new home can be a very exciting time for parents, it can feel very overwhelming and scary for young children. I’m sharing five tips that helped make our recent move a smooth transition for my young daughter. TIP 1: INVOLVE YOUR CHILD IN THE HOMEBUYING PROCESS. Without a doubt, this has been the most crucial part of ensuring a smooth transition for Kalyn as we moved from the only home she knew, to a brand new space! I promised her in January of 2019 that I would get her a home, and as I hit each milestone, I reminded her that a new home was coming. Not only did it build excitement for her, it kept me accountable of the goal I had set out to reach. As we looked at homes, I made sure to always have Kalyn present to get a sense of her opinion on the space (yes, I care about my kid’s opinions) and to make sure that her first time walking in wasn’t to a strange place. TIP 2: ALLOW YOUR CHILD SOME VOICE AND CHOICE. Though the selection of our home was ultimately me and my husband’s, we allowed Kalyn to choose her room and playroom in the house. In addition, she chose new furniture to help her feel like a big girl! Giving your child some space to make decisions helps them feel invested and valued. TIP 3: CONSIDER YOUR CHILDREN WHEN PACKING. I tried to be proactive when packing, but wanted to make sure that Kalyn had plenty of her favorite toys and clothes left out so that she didn’t relate moving to having her things taken away. Up until the day we moved out, she had a reasonable amount of toys and activities to keep her company and I allowed her to select her own outfits (as crazy as they looked) so that she had plenty of things to choose from. When we moved in, her room and play room were the first spaces in the home to be set up, so that she could gain a sense of normalcy right away. TIP 4: SET ROUTINES RIGHT AWAY! We’ve always had a pretty consistent morning and bedtime routine, and I didn’t want a move to change that. I decided that on night one, Kalyn would sleep in HER room. I kept our normal bedtime routine: bath, two quick videos, books, prayers, and lights out. In full transparency, Kalyn was hesitant about sleeping in her new room alone. After a few tears and reminders that Jesus is protecting her, she went to sleep with no problem. The next morning she followed her normal morning routine! TIP 5: CELEBRATE YOUR CHILD’S SUCCESSES! Moving to a new place is a big task for a little person! To celebrate a smooth transition and reinforce positive behaviors, we offered Kalyn some positive incentives. We ate our first meal picnic style (really because we didn’t have furniture yet, but you get the point)and Kalyn loved it! She also got a couple of playdates to show her friends her new home (building more excitement) and enjoy the new space. Lastly, we’re planning a sleepover with her favorite cousin to really reward her for her awesome transition during this time! Moving with a little one has surprisingly been a breeze with these simple tips! Are you moving with children? Share a tip with me that might help them transition!
Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by 2020. Between being quarantined, having to work from home, and learning to be a full time virtual learning supervisor, I’ve had my fair share of adjustment this year. Add on the social climate of America, and death within my family and it’s enough to overwhelm even the most composed person. We’ve put a lot of procedures in place to help us tackle new schedules, education, and safety. On the contrary, not much has been put in place to help us maintain peace and sanity through all of these changes. Today, I’m sharing with you some tips that have helped me stay focused, positive, and grateful during a challenging year. 1. Start Your Morning With Prayer I find that when I wake up on the “wrong side of the bed” prayer is the easiest way to turn my mood around. A simple prayer upon waking has the power to set the tone for the whole day. 2. Set a Morning Routine – And Stick To It! I’m still a work in progress on this one because I love my sleep, but getting up just a little earlier and setting a consistent routine is a great way to protect your mental health. Not only does it give us moms some much needed alone time, it allows us to knock a few tasks off of our to-do lists, leaving us feeling productive and empowered! So instead of hitting the snooze button, hop up! Make that coffee. Get the workout in. Blog a bit. Do what inspires you to feel good! 3. Girl, Read Your Bible. When I was younger, I found reading the bible to be very boring. Now, I love it! I find that when I read intentionally, I easily connect the word to current situations in my life, and find God’s continued promises to love and take care of me. What better peace is there?! 4. Therapy is Your Friend. I grew up thinking therapy was taboo. My family communicated often, but never did I hear about seeking professional help for the issues women face on a daily basis. When life hit me harder than ever, it was Jesus and therapy that literally saved my life. When your challenges or feelings become too much to handle alone, seek help to get the support you need to thrive. There is NO shame in taking care of your mind. Do what’s best for YOU! 5. Connection is Key. I’ve said it a thousand times. I can’t picture life without my girlfriends. Being quarantined and not able to see them has been extremely difficult for me. To keep from falling into the depression of isolation, connecting with your loved ones is key. Here are some great ways to connect virtually: -Zoom Wine Tasting -Virtual Sip & Paint -Book Clubs -Virtual Movie Night! 6. Go Outside! Outside has become such a luxury. We want to protect ourselves and families, but it’s so important to get outside! Take a moment each day to catch some sunlight via a walk around your neighborhood, enjoy coffee/tea on your front porch, or just play a fun game with your children in the yard. Sunlight will always be a quick remedy for a gloomy mood. 7. Get Moving! An idle mind can often be an overthinking one. Get moving! Whether that means a workout, organizing, or running an errand, staying productive can help combat feelings of hopelessness or boredom. Take 30 minutes each day to be active and watch how it impacts your overall mood. 8. Journal Anyone else feel better when they reflect on all they have to be thankful for? Instead of keeping a to-do list, I’ve started writing a list of things I’ve accomplished each day. After what seems like a hard day, when you write down your accomplishments, it makes even the challenges seem like blessings because you made it through! 9. Put the Phone DOWN! Hey, it’s me: GUILTY. Scrolling through social media is all fun and games until you find yourself going down the rabbit hole of comparison. Sometimes, putting the phone down to enjoy your own reality is just what you need. When we remove distractions to be present in the moment, we can often find happiness in our own homes, families, and lives in general. Set aside time to turn off the phone and be present! 10. Be Patient With Yourself. As we all adjust, grieve, laugh, have successes, and make mistakes, remember to be patient with yourself. Give yourself grace and space to feel everything, but don’t let feelings consume you. Know that you aren’t alone, and we are all just trying our very best. I hope these tips have been helpful to you. Share with me some tips that you’ve used to protect your mental health this year.
When you support a small business, you are supporting a dream! If you’re anything like me, it’s been pretty tricky to stay away from online shopping while being quarantined for an extended period of time. As you order, I encourage you to shop with small businesses to support those living out their dreams. In the spirit of uplifting the Black community, I’m sharing 5 Black-Owned Businesses that suit the whole family. Izzy & LivLadies, this is for you! If you’re looking for affordable clothing, accessories, and jewelry, I’ve found the perfect place to shop! Izzy and Liv offers all of the above with a dash of cultural flare to each product. An added bonus is that you can grab items for the kiddos while you’re at it! Savoir FaireIf you’re searching for the perfect gift for your lover, friend, or family member, Savoir Faire fragrances are always a win. In addition to offering a reasonable price point, the scent is potent without being overwhelming. He’ll thank you later! Just Like MeDo your children have literature that accurately represents who THEY are? If not, the Just Like Me Subscription box has you covered. Each month, your little ones receive 2-3 new books from award winning authors. A great way to entertain and educate, Just Like Me certainly won’t disappoint your little readers. Juvia’s PlaceBeauty addicts, look no further! If you’ve not yet heard of Juvia’s Place, get ready to be BLOWN away! Juvia’s Place offers all of your essential makeup products at prices that are incredibly affordable. I most enjoy the quality of their products and the vibrant colors that represent black culture. Be sure to check them out! La Bougie Parfait“The Perfect Candle” is an accurate way to describe these products. As an avid user of these candles and room mists, I’m in love with the beautiful packaging, the scents that fill an entire room, and the length in which they last. Another plus is the amazing customer service provided by this brand. Happy Shopping! Drop some of your favorite Black-Owned Businesses below!
Turn on the news, and what you’ll see is a country that is bleeding from...
Summer break is here, which means my little beauty has made it through Pre-K. While I’m so excited that she gets to enjoy some downtime, the other part of me is freaking out because I know Kindergarten is quickly approaching. Like most children, Kalyn’s school year was cut short due to school closings. We’ve spent countless hours homeschooling, but the mama bear in me constantly questions if we’ve done ENOUGH to ensure that she is ahead of the game for the next school year. Today, I’m sharing my version of a Kindergarten Readiness Checklist along with a few of my favorite home-school tips to continue learning even over summer break. Tip 1: Read Daily Did you know that children who read daily have bigger vocabularies, score higher on tests, and have better focus?These are a few of the many reasons we incorporate reading into our daily learning. We opt for reading before bedtime, and now that Kalyn is starting to read with my support, I use this as a time to reinforce practice of sight words or word families that she has learned. Tip 2: “Write Daily” Kalyn can’t quite sit down and write story yet, but she can draw a picture and tell a story of what’s happening in the picture. This is the start of a strong writer! Incorporating daily drawing gives children a change to put their imaginations to work, as well as to practice story telling, sequencing, and identifying main characters. Tip 3: Numbers Are Everywhere We generally play a math related game each day. Hopscotch has become Kalyn’s new favorite. It’s a wonderful to master counting and recognizing numbers 1-10, and and added bonus is that it gets your children moving and practicing some serious balance! Tip 4: Social Skills Go A Long Way The transition from Pre-K to Kindergarten is a HUGE one. Many times, children can feel overwhelmed with all of the new rules of a “big kid” school. It’s critical to begin teaching your children routines and rituals such as waiting their turn, using manners, knowing when/how to ask for help, and showing kindness/empathy to others. These simple skills will help your child transition smoothly into a new role as a student. Tip 5: Have Fun Learning should be something that every child LOVES! Don’t be afraid to incorporate games, music, and creativity to master skills and to have an enjoyable experience. Pull out that shaving cream for sight words, mix up some frosting with food coloring to learn colors, go on a walk to recognize shapes! Make learning memorable through play and loads of fun. Your children (and their teachers) will thank you later! Do you have young children? What are some ways you are helping them learn at home?
Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by your snack closet during this quarantine. I certainly have. I initially stocked up on ALL the goodies, not knowing how long this would last. For most of us, food is a type of comfort, and indulging in our favorite treats brings us a bit of normalcy and happiness for whatever reason. It also brings on the extra pounds pretty quickly! So today, I’m sharing with you some ways that I’m avoiding unwanted weight gain while staying at home. I will preface this post by saying that I am not a licensed nutritionist or health practitioner. Nor am I implying that weight gain is a negative thing for every person. For me, avoiding weight gain is about my overall health and ability to stay in shape for my body type. Take what you need and apply it to your own profile. Tip 1: Intermittment Fasting Intermittment fasting is no new trend, but it’s something I’ve recently adopted to monitor my eating and avoid snacking from sun up to sun down. Though there are many variations, I stick to the 16:8 schedule. This means that I have an 8 hour eating window, and then fast for the other 16 hours of the day. This method has been pretty easy for me as I’ve never been a big breakfast eater. It also helps me keep my calorie count lower as my eating window is smaller. Keep in mind, it is essential not to “binge” during your window of eating for optimal results. Tip 2: Calorie Deficit Speaking of lower calorie counts, let’s talk calorie deficit. A calorie deficit is needed to lose or maintain weight without gaining more.A caloric deficit is any shortage in the amount of calories consumed relative to the amount of calories required for maintenance of current body weight. I monitor my calories to ensure that I am consistently at a deficit each day to avoid weight gain (and in my case, lose a few pounds). I currently consume about 1,300 calories each day during my eating window. Tip 3: Balance So counting calories, fasting, it all starts to sound a bit restrictive. One huge key for me in staying healthy is BALANCE. Listen, I’m not the girl who is never going to pick up Popeye’s Chicken. If you know me in real life, you know how I feel about Popeye’s. I’m not willing to absolutely give up my faves in order to be the perfect size according to society. Balance for me means enjoying my favorites but having the discipline enough to know that I can consume them all day everyday and expect to be healthy. I’ve found alternatives to curve my sweet tooth (fruit, sugar free jello/pudding), and am trying really hard to cut my eating out down to once or twice each week. Small changes provide big results, believe it or not. Tip 4: Drink Your Water Sis Drink your water, mind your business, and pray. My new life mantra has been my whole mood. I’ve never been thirsty in my life (see what I did there), so consuming a ton of water each day was admittedly not one of my common practices. A little while ago, I read up on all of the amazing benefits of consuming water and something just clicked for me. Though I knew water was great for you, it was the idea of maintaining healthy weight and skin that got me on board. Right now, I’m challenging myself to drink a gallon each day. I’m currently on day four and am surprised at how easy it has been for me. Moving forward, my goal is to drink at least 64 oz daily to flush out my system, stay hydrated, and stay energized! Tip 5: Get Moving Unless you know me personally, you wouldn’t believe that I’m surrounded by men who are in love with fitness. I used to DREAD working out. Going to the gym seemed so daunting for me. Being stuck at home, I decided that I would join a few live bootcamps being offered by various trainers. I instantly fell in love with the idea of working out from the comfort of my own home, in my own style. I generally spend thirty minutes each day dancing, lifting, or doing a HIIT circuit. Not only do I feel like I’m healthier, I feel better mentally after each and every workout. Check out my favorite trainer here and my favorite dance routines here. Being stuck at home doesn’t mean purging your kitchen all day. Avoid the “Quarantine 15” with these easy solutions that yield major results. How are you staying fit during this quarantine? Share some tips with me below!
How I've Improved My Complexion With Products In My Kitchen! Turmeric can be found in most kitchens as an addition to many of the meals we enjoy on a daily basis. Though it is most commonly used for cooking, Turmeric is growing in popularity for its ability to heal and treat skin issues without the use of harsh chemicals. Go browse your local beauty store and you’ll notice that Turmeric is an active ingredient in many of the hottest products, and there’s a reason for that. Turmeric has been proven to to reduce acne, hyperpigmentation, inflammation, and irritation. For me, I choose turmeric because it makes my skin GLOW! While I don’t experience acne, my skin tends to lean on the dull side unless I treat it regularly. I have seen such great results from consistently (2x a week) using Turmeric masks, that I just had to share with you all. Here are my favorites. Get ready to purge your kitchen for a glow brighter than these smiles! Honey & Turmeric MaskIngredients:Turmeric powder – 1/2 TspMilk – 1 TbspHoney – 1/2 Tsp Yogurt & Turmeric MaskIngredients: Turmeric powder – 1/2 TspYogurt – 1 TbspLemon juice – 1/2 Tsp Aloe Vera & Turmeric MastIngredients:Aloe Vera gel – 2 TbspTurmeric – 1/4 Tsp Olive Oil & Turmeric Mask Ingredients: Turmeric – 3 TspOlive oil – 5 Tbsp Banana & Turmeric Mask Ingredients:Mashed Banana paste – 2 TbspTurmeric – 1 TspHoney – 1/2 Tsp Directions:– Mix Ingredients together to form a paste.-Cleanse face thoroughly, and dry completely before applying mask. -Apply to entire face, avoiding eyes or mouth. -Allow to dry and leave on for 20-30 minutes. -Rinse with warm water and apply preferred serums, moisturizers, or facial oils.-Repeat treatment no more than 2 times weekly for optimal results. Have you ever tried a turmeric mask? Share your favorite “recipe” for glowing skin with me!
Mom or not, I’ll always be a glam girl. I love playing in makeup, getting dressed up, and hitting the town. But my budget doesn’t always agree with long walks through Ulta, so today I’m sharing 10 must-have products to create the perfect look without breaking the bank!FoundationFoundation is the canvas for a perfect look. When choosing foundation, the possibilities are endless. Look for a product that matches your complexion, meets your preference of matte or dewy, and has buildable coverage. One drugstore option is Maybelline Fit Me Foundation. At under $10, this product is budget friendly and high quality!ConcealerI’ve had dark circles since Kalyn was a newborn (oh hey, sleep deprivation), so concealer is my best friend at this point. What I look for in concealer is one that is creaseless and doesn’t give that halo like glow in pictures. One of my faves is L.A. Girl Pro Concealer. Y’all, it’s $4. Need I say more?Brow PencilI refuse to leave my house with ungroomed brows. I truly believe they frame the face and can make or break a look. There are a ton of options available for brow pencils, but if you’re looking to save rather than splurge, check out Wet N Wild Ultimate Brow Pencil. It’s retractable and comes with a brow brush as well. It’s also under $5! While we’re talking brows, be sure to check out a brow tutorial from one of my favorite Youtuber’s to get those brows just right!Contour & HighlightContouring slims the face and provides shape. Highlighting gives a glow to the highest points of your face. I opt for a contour and highlight set. The cool thing about this set is that is can double as a natural eyeshadow palette, and it gives you a bronze look. Perfect for date night, or just everyday wear. An added bonus is that it’s under $10!Setting PowderTo bring the face all together, I use setting powder. It prevents creasing, gives a more matte look (key for oily skin), and helps to blend all the products. Setting powder can be the same as your complexion, but I personally prefer a translucent powder so that it can be used over areas you have concealed or contoured. The powder here is $6 is used by women everywhere!MascaraMuch like brows, lashes definitely give your look and added POP! Whether your preference is voluminous or lengthy, there is a product for you. My favorite right now is Maybelline Lash Sensational Washable Mascara. It gives the best of both worlds with volume AND length. I just love it! It’s priced at $7 here.Lip GlossI couldn’t create a makeup list without including lip gloss! I’m a nude kinda girl, but lip gloss is a great way to be creative and spice up your look. I generally stick with neutrals for the daytime, and then go crazy with color at night. NYX Butter Gloss is a good option if you like a glossy look without the sticky feel. You can find it here for $5.00Beauty BlenderA makeup sponge is so essential to creating any look. It applies foundation, cream blushes, and even highlighter seamlessly. Most pros go for the classic Beauty Blender. Luckily, budget watchers like myself have found the PERFECT dupe at just $2!! Run and go grab a few!Brush SetThe last item needed is a brush set to help you apply all of the products to create your makeup look! I love brushes that are soft, yet sturdy and dense. BH Cosmetic’s Petite Chic offers six essential face and eye brushes for only $15.00!Setting SprayThis is optional, but I usually don’t go without it. If you’re looking to have your makeup last all night, setting spray is a great way to do so. It literally locks everything in place and prevents transfer, creasing, or smudging. ELF cosmetics Mist Spray not only locks everything in place, but it can also bring a look back to life with a few sprays. Another drugstore win for $5! Is your cart full yet? It’s completely possible to have a glam look for under $100 using the guidelines above. What are some of your favorite makeup products? What questions do you have about makeup application? Meet me in the comments to discuss!
Most people that know me in real life will tell you I’m extremely kind, nurturing, and soft-spoken. These are all qualities that I absolutely love about myself. They are also qualities that when not given boundaries, have been detrimental to my growth, happiness and peace. It was not until I learned to create healthy boundaries that I was able to thrive and bounce back from my self inflicted downfalls. Learn To Say NO, and Then Learn to Say YES! Half of my battle was that I’ve always been a yes wo-man. I don’t like conflict by nature, and my “go with the flow” personality often had me saying yes to situations that I don’t want to be in. First, I had to learn to say “no.” For me, this meant turning down events I couldn’t afford, severing ties with people who didn’t have my best interest at heart, and standing up for myself to know what I deserve in my life, in my love, and in my goals. Though this all a continued work in progress, I’ve become okay with disturbing the peace, as long as it brings me peace. My Tips for Saying No! Don’t apologize. If you want to say no, be firm and direct. I often found myself apologizing for missing out on certain things, for speaking my mind, or for simply being me. Use tact always, but say what you mean, and mean exactly what you say. I said what I said never resonated more. Buy yourself some time. If you’re not sure, don’t respond with a yes. Tell the person you need time to think. They will respect it, or they won’t. Make decision with a clear mind and heart. Compromise. ONLY do this to serve yourself. If the activity, friendship, relationship, or whatever it may be doesn’t benefit you, it’s a firm no. Compromise to find solutions that benefit all parties. Refusal Versus Rejection. This was, and is REALLY tough for me. When you say “no,” remember that you are refusing a request, not rejecting a person. For example, if I person mistreats you and you decide to walk away from the friendship/relationship, you are refusing to be mistreated, not rejecting the broken person who is projecting hurt. A whole word, right? Be true to yourself. Know what you want and stick to it! Peace is the ultimate goal! My Tips for Saying Yes! Be true to yourself. Know what you want and stick to it! Peace is the ultimate goal! I’m saying this again because when you know what you want, you do what’s best for you! Don’t Feel Guilty For Growing As I began to change, I started to feel like I was leaving some folks behind mentally. As you say YES to growth, your energy changes, and so does your circle. No New Friends? Actually, YES to new friends. Ones who are like minded, God-centered, goal-focused, and support you like you support them. Take Time For You Oh hey, moms! When’s the last time you did something just for YOU? Learn to say yes to self-care wholeheartedly. If this means scheduling one day out of the week/month where you shut off mommy duties, go for it! If it means a quick visit to the nail salon on the weekend, do it. When you take care of you, everything just feels better! Believe In Yourself. The biggest task in creating boundaries is the confidence to know that you deserve the world, and are able to obtain it. You daily decisions and thoughts impact your life in mighty ways. Say yes to believing in you, affirming yourself, and chasing after the life God has created for you!