Friday, December 30, 2011

It's Called "Growing Pains" for A Reason

2011 is a year that'll certainly go down as "The Year of Growth" for me. (And you.) I've shared so many lessons that I've learned on this place and space and you contributed by sharing the lessons that you've learned as well. Thank you.

That's what the 20's is all about, right? Making the mistakes, learning the lessons, and growing from them, right?


Yesterday, I shared a few kick-ass moments that Mommy Delicious experienced in 2011 and I couldn't let the year come to a close without highlighting the "growing pains" moment. 2011 kicked my ass, but in a good way. After putting my big girl pants on, I (we) grew a ton. And I can say that I am truly grateful for each and every "growing pains" moment. It has made me more self-aware, more confident, and more of a sweet-and-patient-but-don't-eff-with-me type of person. I've come into my own, so to speak. And that's a blessing. And it's all because of these moments:

Resilient Women Learn the Lesson... And Move Forward -- I couldn't have asked for a better lesson to help me start the year off.

A few weeks later, I reminded us that we are totally worth all things nice and sweet and warm and fuzzy and glorious. Because we are. Worth it. Totally.

I finished grad school and earned two masters as a single mom. Nuff said. #Winnning

My relationships with Aiden's other parent ended disastrously. But that was totally okay. Because I learned so many lessons from my ex. (And I learned when to fold 'em and say, "I'm done.")

I had an insanely fun week in Miami with my girlfriends all because I learned how to truly be alone in the previous months and fully embrace my "single gal" status.

I started dating Mr. Yummy. And he was yummy. And I learned a lesson from that episode too. (I hope.)

I've come into my own and learned (and I'm still learning) how to truly be myself, as hard as it could be at times. "Stand for something or you'll fall for anything," is what they say.

And we learned that, in spite of so many things, our kids are so totally freaking awesome. Really. 

As I always say, thank you for being your awesome selves. Thank you for making this community all that it is. As I stated in the 2011 holiday post, wishing you loads of sweet moments, more successes than failures, more triumphs than trials, lots of superheroes to save the day, and a little more PINK!

Happy New Year!

Who's ready for 2012?! I can't wait to put these lessons into practice and learn even more!

Love you guys! xo

Thursday, December 29, 2011

If I Never Started A Blog...


With two full days left in 2011, I find myself reflecting and pondering on all the things that I want to bring into 2012 with me (and all the things that I want to leave behind because, let's face it, they do exist). For some reason earlier today, my mind kept going back to a simple (but not so simple) question -- what if I never started a blog?

Hmm... My life would certainly be different.

I would have never "met" the always awesome Tara of The Young Mommy Life and be able to contribute articles to her site proclaiming things like young (and single) parenthood can certainly be dope to the third power.

I would have never "met" My Brown Baby's Denene Millner (who is super nice with the verbs, by the way) and be able to talk about Black mothers and my fear of being labeled a statistic. (I spoke about that here too.)

I would have never been interviewed by Single Edition Media on all things single ladies and how, uh, our lives can totally be full and fulfilling and sweet and lovely so that if/when we find a mate worthy enough we'll have that much more to contribute to the relationship. #WORD

I would have never shared my most deepest darkest secret with you about being in an abusive relationship, which is actually not a secret anymore, but a totally empowering experience. Totally.

I would have never got to tour NYC in a helicopter ride and then taste Hershey's Air Delight from a hot air balloon. (I still get chills from that evening.)

I would have never been invited to join the eBay Parent Panel as a Brand Ambassador, mix and mingle with other Bloggers in Orlando, FL, have way too much fun at after after parties, and send drunk texts to love interests. #OopsMyBad

I would have never been able to write articles with dating websites like HowAboutWe.com's The Date Report. (Man, I'm putting my single status to good use.)

I would have never been invited to join the REDBOOK Magazine Motherboard Blog.

I would have never been able to sip cocktails with supermodels like Christy Turlington Burns, an assignment for my other freelance job, Momtrends, and then contemplate on all the freelance gigs/side hustles that seemed to have stemmed off of this blog.

Or would I?

But finally, I would have never been introduced to you. If you didn't already know, I love you guys. Like, plenty. This community means so much to me. I love that I can share my stories in a very raw and real way. And then you come. And you comment. And you email. And you message me. And you share your stories in a very raw and real way.

And that, that means so much to me. To this community.


So. As we close out another year and enter into 2012, I want to once again say, "thank you." Mommy Delicious wouldn't be half of what it is without you. And it's fabulous. Because of you.

Cheers! High fives all around!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

10 Signs It's Time to Ditch Your Debt

By Suzanne Cramer

Sometimes it is hard to tell what your breaking point really is when it comes to debt. After all you are paying all the bills each month, the problem is that you just don’t seem to be getting anywhere fast. You realize after taking a hard look at your financial situation that you have little to no savings for retirement or otherwise, and after a second look your interest rates on your credit cards are rising.

The debt may have accumulated slowly, over a period of time or in some cases rather quickly as a result of a life changing event. Knowing when you are in over your head and admitting you have a problem is the first step to financial freedom.

Here are ten signs it’s time to ditch your debt!

1. Your family or friends start to notice.
Maybe it’s a subtle hint or a blatant cry for help, but they know and they are worried. For example you start pulling away from invitations to dinner out or activities that you say you can’t afford. Or, maybe it’s a flat out hey, “I need to borrow some money to get by until next month.” Your family and friends are able to see the warning signs that maybe you can’t see, or will ignore; heed their warnings.

2. People are telling you that you have a problem with your debt.
They aren't being mean, they are being honest, and unlike your judgment, theirs is not clouded by the emotions surrounding financial problems.

3. Signs of physical or mental abuse. 
Debt can be like a bad relationship and take its toll on your entire self; physically, emotionally, and financially.  It’s important to know when your debt is starting to affect you. Perhaps it’s a diagnosis of depression, insomnia or anxiety brought on by your financial problems.

4. You've got a reputation. And it may not be a good one. 
A reputation is earned, remember that.  Are you the one with the creditors calling you at work, the bounced checks at the bank, or the denial letters after applying for a loan?  Your credit reputation has been tarnished by your debt and it will follow you until you do something to fix it.

5. You are trapped in a love/hate relationship with your credit cards.
You love to use them, but you hate to pay on them. This toxic, vicious cycle is often the downfall for many causing their debt to spiral out of control. A card becomes maxed out so you open another, you can’t pay the monthly minimum on one of your cards so you charge it to another. 

6. You lack effort.
Let’s face it relationships take work and your relationship with your debt is no different. You have to “put in the time” and nurture the relationship. Establish and stick to a budget, remember to pay your bills on time, and call when you are going to be late. 

7. You feel isolated.
You no longer hang out with friends and family for fear it will involve spending money. You keep those close to you at arms length, so they don’t catch on to your money problems. 

8. You feel controlled by your debt.
You avoid answering the phone because you fear it may be a creditor on the other end. Your debt is controlling your life, how you behave, and where you can go. You feel your lifestyle has to change as a result of being controlled by your debt.

9. Shopping is your hobby.
If you are unable to enjoy life without having new things or spending money, this is a recipe for debt that will eventually catch up with you.   

10. You blame everyone else for your debt problems.
It’s time to take responsibility. While it isn't your fault you got fired; broke your leg and couldn’t work, or went through a divorce; its time to own the situation and your life.

Just as recovering from a breakup or an addiction is a process, so is ditching your debt. It took time for you to create the debt; it’s going to take time to get out. Knowing what steps to take and what your options are is a great place to get started.

What were your signs it was time to ditch your debt? How did you feel when you realized you had a problem?


Suzanne Cramer is a certified credit counselor and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne Debt Relief ServicesSuzanne writes for Divorce, Debt and Finances and Major Life ChallengesFollow Suzanneon Twitter @ADivorcedMom where she shares her insights as a single-divorced mom with tips and tricks to keep your finances in check.  


Sunday, December 25, 2011

2011 Love, Peace, Joy, and A Happy Holidays to You All!

From our home to yours, from our hearts to yours...

{Front of 2011 Holiday Card via @TinyPrints}

{Back of 2011 Holiday Card via @TinyPrints}

{SantaLand 2011}

{Pure LOVE}
Wishing you loads of sweet moments, more successes than failures, more triumphs than trials, and LOTS of superheroes to save the day! xo

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Glam Ways to Beautify Your Holidays with Duane Reade

Beauty addicts, boy have I got news for you! And it'll be sure to help you get your beauty fix just in time for a glamourous holiday. Pinky swear on it.



This week, I was invited to represent Collective Bias (#CBias) by visiting Duane Reade (#DReade) in order to take a peek at their LOOK Boutique, aka the new Mecca for all Beauti-licious folk. I was pretty excited to attend this glam event, which was hosted by the lovely Big City Moms. So much so that I rushed out of work at the appointed time and headed to the upper east side -- 86th and Lexington, to be exact. The LOOK Boutique is located on the store's second floor and it does NOT disappoint. Since it features some popular high-end products, the LOOK Boutique has a very Barney's-eque feel, but without the Barney's price tags, if you know what I mean.




After learning about Pur Minerals (made with all-natural products and minerals) and POP Beauty (a sure rival to Essie and OPI, in my humble opinion), I was able to meet with a consultant and test out different mascara and eye shadow. Talk about beauty heaven!

Since I'm on the hunt for a New Years Eve makeup look (this delicious single mama has got to look HOTT), I was quite giddy to learn of ways to spice up my already festive outfit (pictures to come, but I will be rocking a gold mini-dress, black tights, sexy heels, and a red clutch).

So here's the deal: it's looking like the nail polish will be from POP Beauty's nail glam collection. Maybe in a red? Thoughts?


I'm doing a smokey eye because, well, that's just dramatic and fabulous and I'll have the perfect gel eyeliner to make my eyes pop. I'm also thinking about lash extensions for the special occasion of ringing in 2012. Amaze? I think so!

{Smokey Eye Day to Play Clutch}



Overall, I think the event went off without a hitch. I was happy to learn that the already popular city drugstore has now added more reasons for city dwellers to love it -- a glamorous beauty department. Shop for trendy beauty products while picking up diapers and cleaning supplies? Don't mind if I do! Not only was the event loads of fun, but I was also able to put together my NYE look, which is like, totally important.

For more information, visit the Duane Reade website, follow them on Twitter, or find them on Facebook.

Thanks so much to Big City Moms for hosting such a GLAM event!

{Disclaimer: This post is sponsored and this shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. (#CBias #DReade). Event attendees received a gift bag. All opinions expressed herein are my own.}

Single During the Holidays? It's All Good!


Jingle Bell Rock. Santa Baby. Rocking Around the Christmas Tree. These are all holiday songs that’ll make you gag. That is, if you’re single and (slightly) bitter. Also, the thought of spotting a mistletoe and the thought of sitting through another holiday family dinner can make just about any single person want to pull their hair out. And when you’re a single mom, well, that feeling can easily be multiplied.

Last holiday season was the first year in a long time that I was single. And I was reminded of my solo status all the time. Everywhere I turned, there were couples. Happy couples. Overly happy couples. Wearing matching outfits. Cuddling. Ice skating hand-in-hand while wearing their matching outfits. I couldn’t help but to notice them. It was like holiday romance on steroids. Sheesh, talk about overkill!

But, since it was also the first holiday season that I was a single mom, I decided to pay less attention to the couples and their relationship status, and more attention to my little family of two and my relationship status. And so, I decided to embrace being a single mother by showing my son that it’s okay to enjoy the holidays with just us two. And you know what? It was okay. Here are some reasons why:

1.     I didn’t have to make a list (and check it twice) of all the things my son’s other parent wanted. Sure there was no one to buy me a special gift, but with all the extra cash that I would have spent on a beau, I used it on Aiden and me. Buy an extra pair of Steve Madden’s over-the-knee boots? Don’t mind if I do!

2.     I didn’t have to coordinate schedules with anyone else in order to plan something festive and fun for my son and me. Sounds selfish, but it’s true. Whenever I had time off from grad school or work, I’d pick Aiden up, pack a bag for both of us, and we just went places. To Rockefeller Center. To visit Santa at the Belvedere Castle in Central Park. Through 5th Avenue. To say that it was beautiful and magical is an understatement.

3.     I decorated my apartment in holiday d├ęcor the way that I wanted to decorate it. There was no one to say, “Put the Christmas tree in this corner,” “The garland should hang like this,” “That color combination looks weird.” (Ugh… shut the eff up!)

Read my other three reasons over on the REDBOOK Blog.

Happy Holidays!

Pondering on Brooklyn Happenings

By Shaniqua Garvin 


Still fairly new (2008) to the borough of Brooklyn, I haven't been able to 100% engross myself in the culture, specifically in the parenting community. To me, Fort Greene seems to dominate the family happenings of Brooklyn. That's followed by Park Slope, Dumbo and Prospect Heights. 


What I want to know is... *cue Bernie Mac*... "What the f@#k is goings on" every where else? Are there slim pickings in Bedstuy, Crown Heights, Weeksville and the remaining neighborhoods on the BK? Parent groups, children's classes, play spaces, family restaurants... where are you?!


I became really bothered by this after becoming a mom and always needing to trek to the museum, music class and storytime. Even more so, when it was time to research preschools, I was very frustrated that the quality schools were a commute away. I went on a popular parenting site that listed a preschool two blocks from me, but come to find out, that school have been closed for almost two years. Really?! 


So now I'm thinking I need to create a community up here, I'm not the only active parent in a one mile radius. I'm hoping to be wrong about all of this, so before I go knocking on Letitia James' office door, tell me Brooklyn... WHAT'S GOOD IN THE HOOD?!



Shaniqua is a mama times two, wife, and student juggling it all in NYC. Show her some love and follow her on Twitter @S_Garvin.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Trendy, Handmade Jewelry by Lauren Nicole Gifts {GIVEAWAY!}

"A good accessory goes a long way!" Ain't that the truth! The right accessory can transform any outfit from "blah" to "chic" and any gal from "Plan Jane" to "Glamor Girl."

Now that we're right in the thick of the holiday frenzy, I'm not having much time to get dressed in the morning, let alone pick out my outfits. But the right accessories have been helping me by allowing my look to remain trendy, cute, and most of all, delicious.


And I'm always up for learning about new accessory brands and adding to my collection. What gal isn't?! That's why I was thrilled to take a peek at the Lauren Nicole Gifts website where dreams are born and gorgeous custom made jewelry are made. Hand stamped pure silver personalized jewelry, monogrammed jewelry, and wax seal jewelry to be exact. And... because you can include initials, full names, personal messages, birth stones, or favorite colors, the jewelry makes for great gifts and keepsakes. 

{wax sealed jewelry}
{name jewelry} 
{wedding jewelry}

When I picked out my necklace, I chose one that is dainty and sweet and feminine. I love that the letter "A" is in a block letter, but in a soft way. The pink and the blue represents Aiden and me, and of course, the "love" is because I love him to pieces. This necklace is a sure winner. What do you think?



GIVEAWAY!
Lauren Nicole Gifts is graciously offering one (1) lucky Mommy Delicious reader a $50 gift certificate to shop till you drop (or until you spend 50 bucks) at the Lauren Nicole Gifts website! Woohoo! Now's your chance to get that engraved pendent you've been thinking about!

Want to enter?
Mandatory entry: Head on over to the Lauren Nicole Gifts website and tell me what personalized handmade design you'd choose. Leave your answer in the comment.

For one extra entry: "Like" Mommy Delicious on Facebook and "like" the post about this giveaway. Let me know you've done so in the comments. 

One (1) winner will be chosen via Random.org on Tuesday, December 27th. Please leave your contact information so that I can reach you if you win.

GOOD LUCK!

UPDATE: WINNER IS... Aisha of Hartlyn Kids! Congrats! Look out for an email from me!

{I received a necklace from Lauren Nicole Gifts to facilitate this review. This giveaway is being sponsored by Lauren Nicole Gifts. All opinions expressed herein are my own.}

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