Hi! My name is Donni and I’ll be turning 26 tomorrow. Is 26 considered “late twenties” or can I still claim mid-twenties until next year? My golden birthday was super exciting. I was turning a quarter of a century (I actually hate when people say that), my insurance rate was going down, and I was still on a Beyoncé high from having been to the On the Run Tour. This year the most monumental thing I could look forward to is being kicked off my parent’s health insurance plan. Thankfully, I have my own. Even my Dad called me earlier this week to remind me of how old I’ll be. 26…Don…Geez… I remember when you were 6 and used to trick me to going to Toys R Us. Here’s the thing, I LOVE birthdays – my own and other people’s – and I don’t mind getting older. I hope to be raging at my 50th. So all these comments about me getting older and the questions about me getting married are getting ignored.
It’s weird to think that a mere five years ago, I was celebrating 21 by having two parties, knocking back Coco Losos like water, dancing on bars in Five Points and throwing up in a booth at Qdoba. Sorry, Mom. Tomorrow, I’m just excited to hang out with my friends and go on an 1000 ft slip ‘n’ slide. I am embracing and celebrating how much I’ve grown. So for all my 20-somethings, I say take each birthday to recommit to being young and enjoying life. So whether you’re a Leo like me or a Sagittarius or Capricorn waiting for the end of the year for your birthday, celebrate your unbirthday with me with this birthday playlist.
We’re Gonna Celebrate (Birthday Playlist)
50 Cent – In Da Club
Nicki Minaj – The Night Is Still Young
Pitbull & Ne-Yo – Time Of Our Lives
Trey Songz – Say Ahh
Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO
P!nk – Get the Party Started
BSB – Get Down
Wiz Khalifa – Young, Wild and Free
ShopBoyz – Party Like a Rockstar
2 Chainz – Birthday Song
Avicii – Levels
Selena Gomez – Birthday
P!NK – Raise Your Glass
Rihanna – Birthday Cake
Lady Gaga – Just Dance
Ke$ha – We R Who We Are
Fun. (Feat. Janelle Monáe) – We Are Young
Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)
Kings of Leon-Birthday
Stevie Wonder – Happy Birthday
Because a birthday playlist isn’t complete without Stevie Wonder!
If you’ve already had your birthday this year tell me what you did. If you haven’t celebrated yet tell me what your plans are – big party? Travel? What is your birthday song? Leave a comment below or tweet me @PalmsInATL!
Blame it on Sex and the City, Girlfriends, and the Babysitters Club (the brain, the brain, the center of the chain), but having a strong group of girlfriends is one of those things many women find important. I know I certainly do. And to that end, girlfriends can be difficult to find/keep. I’m not a guy but I’m pretty sure Boy Meets World, The Best Man and Californication prove the same rings true for them as well.
If you ask me right now, I could name all of my best girlfriends from elementary school all the way up to my move to Tallahassee to pursue my graduate degree. When I moved to Atlanta in March 2013, I found myself without girlfriends for the first time. I mean my nearest and dearest were only one Skype session or text message away. However, it was strange not having someone less than five minutes away that I could just show up on their front steps with a bottle of wine and snacks and be completely welcome.
When I moved to Atlanta I was dating someone, but that relationship had been on the decline and I knew it wasn’t going to last much longer. I wasn’t very close to any of the girls I met through him, so it was clear I was not getting any of them in the terms of the break-up. So now what?
In middle/high school, it was easy for me to make friends. Although, I live in a different city, I’m still really close with most of my high school friends. In college, you can find like-minded people in fraternities, sororities, clubs and intramural sports and even at a tailgate. Some of my high school friends attended the same college as me, so I came into freshman year with built-in friends. I ended up becoming super close with girls on my hall and as I joined organizations such as Alpha Phi Omega, I was blessed with some friendships that I hope last forever.
After college, some people are lucky and find a few friends at work. Especially, if you’re all coming in as entry-level employees straight out of college, you quickly bond. That wasn’t an option for me. I am the youngest person in my office and am a part of a really small team. While, it was easy to talk about an episode of Scandal with my coworkers, I knew we wouldn’t be heading out to Buckhead for drink and dancing on Friday night.
I realized that there are countless number of online sites and apps that make it easy to find someone to date. But for a girl looking for a shopping and Starbucks partner or a guy looking for a bromance – the options are limited. Why isn’t there a Tinder for friends? To my surprise there is. The app is called Wiith, but it just launched in May and basically only has people from San Francisco- not really helpful. And the more I think about it, the concept is a little creepy: Oh she looks cute and she says she likes to flat-iron other people’s’ hair – swipe right; Oh she prefers Dunkin’ over Krispy Kreme, swipe left! OK – so now that we’ve crossed Frinder off the list what is there. Below I breaking down some of the top suggestions I found when I was trying to figure out how to make friends after college and how they did and didn’t work for me.
I tried Meetup, which in theory, isn’t a bad idea. The site is an opportunity for you to search for a group of like-minded people by interests. Gamer? There’s a meetup for that. Salsa dancer? There’s a meetup for that. Do you like to eat desserts after hiking? There’s a meetup for that. Well possibly…you may have to create that one, but I’d totally join.
The first few groups I tried were a definite miss. I realized old guys just showed up trying to drop a roofie in your cup hit on younger ladies or to find a “companion”. An extremely creepy fellow with a weird odor walked up to me while I was at an event and whispered in my ear, “Chocolate has always been my favorite flavor.”
After I choose better Meetup groups I did find some really cool people. Unfortunately, and not to sound like a mean girl, I ended up befriending a really crazy girl. She seemed really cool at the beginning and then showed her true colors – like ending a friendship over a pair of moccasins. Yes, that’s right I said a pair of moccasins. Also, she almost ruined my first Beyoncé concert, but that’s a blog post for another day. For now, this is what I have to say:
With that being said, I definitely think Meetup has the potential to be a very good way to make friends. I just didn’t have the best of luck.
2. Networking Events
I went to networking events and tried to mingle and meet some cool ladies. This was a so-so method for me. People at networking events are trying to make connections that they can leverage in the future for business or personal advancement. So while I met some really cool ladies, they weren’t necessarily looking for a girlfriend for happy hour. Also, I was younger and still in the entry-level phase of my career – in their mind there was not a whole lot I could do for them. I did try a few 20-something or young professionals groups that were interesting, but again people there were business card pushers and not looking for friends.
3. Take a Class
The failure of this idea is mine alone. The only classes I tried were dance classes. There’s not a lot of time in between combinations and choreography to bond with a girl and gather her interest in grabbing coffee. However, I think that a class or volunteering gives you a great opportunity to connect with someone you know shares at least one of your interests. If I had a time machine and could travel back to March 2013, I’d make myself take a wide variety of classes and push myself to meet new people.
4. Just say hello.
A lot of people told me that I should just go out and say hello to people. Striking up a conversation with a random person isn’t hard for me, but translating that random conversation or compliment into a friendship is where I had difficulty. Another thing I noticed (and I am guilty of this as well), is that people are usually wired to something. Sure it would be easy to chat up someone at Starbucks, but they usually have in headphones. Ace is a MARTA queen, and I’m sure she could tell you that most of the MARTA patrons are on some sort of device only disengaging from it to make sure they haven’t missed their stop. In general, we don’t connect to people as much as we did in the past. While we’re casually scrolling through Instagram, we could be missing an opportunity to meet someone new.
I’ve been lucky to have some of my favorite humans move to Atlanta and to have met some new ladies here. However, I still need to make a better effort to put myself out there. I can admit that I slacked off the pursuit of girlfriends once I seriously started dating my boyfriend. All in all, making friends is hard, but in the end it’s worth it. Pinterest attributes it to Carrie, but it was Charlotte who said:
“Maybe our girlfriends are our soulmates and guys are just people to have fun with.”
Friendship in itself is rewarding, but I think there’s something special about having close girlfriends. Through laughter and tears, good times and bad, good girlfriends can get us through it all.
Do you have any tips for making friends after college? What advice would you give to someone starting out in a new city? Comment below or tweet me @donnicakelsey.
Let me start by saying I’m still fairly new to meal prepping. I’m not a fitness nut, by any means, but I made a goal to make healthier food choices this year. Through meal prep, I’ve kept myself from running to Burger King or whichever fast food joint has the shortest line. Don’t get me wrong, I do quite enjoy grabbing a burger with a Frosty to dip my fries in, but the benefits of meal prep are keeping me consistent. By taking a few hours out on Sunday or Monday:
I’ve been drinking more water and my skin thanks me for it.
I’ve lost about 11 pounds. This is just with making changes in my eating habits. My goal is get back on a workout plan, but I’m trying to conquer one thing at a time.
I don’t find myself scrabbling to put together lunch in the morning causing me to run late (or later) than usual.
I’ve actually cut my grocery bill significantly by planning out my meals in advance.
Most people meal prep breakfast, lunch and dinner, but remember there is no right or wrong way to meal prep. For example, I haven’t added breakfast to my prep routine quite yet and sometimes I meal prep for lunch on Sundays and dinner or Mondays depending on my schedule. Figure out what works for you. You may even want to start out by prepping for 3 – 4 days, and allowing one day for you to go out and grab lunch with a friend.
How to Get Started
Decide on your meals for the week before you hit the grocery store so that you know exactly what you need. Personally, I’m a huge comparison shopper, so my meal prep is highly dependent on what’s on sale or what I have stocked up. I’ll scan the local ads for who has the best deals and get my list together from there. Here are some options for you: I try to go with 1 carb + 1 protein + 1 or 2 veggies. Pinterest is always a great resource if you need help deciding what to make. (Beware of the hardcore: broccoli, sweet potatoes, chicken breast) While the combo is delicious, Eating that for an entire week could dissuade your tastbuds from continuing with meal prep.
Carbs: Quinoa, Brown Rice, Sweet Potato, Lentils, Whole Wheat Pasta
Protein: Chicken (breasts – skinless, boneless or chicken thighs also ok), Ground Turkey (93% lean or higher), Lean Beef (85% lean or higher), Fish (Salmon, Tilapia, Tuna) Shrimp, Eggs Beans
Veggies: Broccoli, Green Beans, Cauliflower, Snap Peas, Kale, Spinach
You’ll also need some meal prep containers. I use a set that I found in Sam’s Club, but am going to in vest in some Pyrex or other glass option. However, many people use the ones linked here and here. Once you’ve decided on your meals for the week and have bought all the necessary ingredients, it’s time to cook.
A great time saver is roasting/baking one part of your dish while cooking the rest on the stove top. I’m also a bag fan of the crock pot.
Remember, I’m writing about what’s worked for me, so adapt to fit your lifestyle.
I usually start with the meat. Whether I’m baking, grilling, or throwing it in the crock pot, it’s usually a good starting place. I love experimenting with flavors and try to incorporate as much variety as I can so that I don’t get bored of eating the same thing each day. For example, for chicken breasts, I’ll marinate them differently or use two different combinations of spices. You may even want to alternate your proteins.
If I make brown rice or a carb that needs to be boiled, I usually make that step two. Next are my veggies. After cleaning and cutting, I either throw them on the stove or prepare to roast them in the oven once the meat is out. I’m also a big fan of frozen veggies, I try to keep a few staples on-hand (broccoli, cauliflower, kale).
This week’s meal prep
For lunch I made orange ginger chicken in the crock pot and paired it with brown rice, roasted red potatoes and green beans. I used the three large boneless, skinless chicken breasts in my freezer. I added in 1 cup of orange juice, a tablespoon of coconut oil, red pepper flakes, pepper, 1.5 TB of honey into the crock pot on high for 2.5 hours. When there were about 20-25 minutes left, I added a little cornstarch mixed in chicken broth to thicken the sauce.
I cubed the potatoes (2 large) and sprinkled them with extra virgin olive oil, pepper, and a little sea salt. Roast them at 425° for about 30 min. This meal could easily be made for dinner, smaller portions make it appropriate for lunch.
Burrito Bowls (Cilantro lime rice, grilled chicken, black beans, cheese and avocado)
Turkey Wraps with Avocado, Red Pepper Hummus and Spinach
I was watching a Paper and Glam vlog where Lisamarie made a delicious salad that looked so good, I ran to buy all the ingredients. I’ve altered/ simplified it a bit, but it’s been in constant rotation ever since watching the video.
For this, you’ll need garlic, jalapeno peppers, rotisserie chicken (I usually get one from Sam’s Club for about $3.99 and you can use it for lunch and dinner), and I prefer the Sweet & Crunchy Fresh Express Blend (Lisamarie used the Trader Joe’s Cruciferous Crunch).
Toss the peppers (4 medium sized) and garlic (1 clove) in to a food processor and make sure everything is finely chopped. If you’re not a big fan of too much heat make sure you don’t include the jalapeno peppers’ seeds. I add a spoonful or two (a little goes a long way) of this mixture with my salad along with some rotisserie chicken, and top with Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame salad dressing and yum yum yum. I get an easy dinner salad for the week.
Go to dinner meal prep ideas:1) zucchini or butternut squash noodles and meatballs; 2) coconut curry chicken – chicken breast, coconut oil, onions, red bell pepper, yellow and orange peppers, curry powder, garlic powder, ground ginger; 3) baked salmon with lemon pepper, red potatoes and baked asparagus.
I like to hard boil a few eggs for the week, to eat as a snack. I sprinkle one with a little pepper or mash it up and add avocado for a protein packed snack. Other great healthy snack options include: yogurt, cheese, veggies + hummus, and I’m obsessed with NatureBox. If you’d like to try Naturebox out I have three free 1- month subscriptions to giveaway. Please note you will have have to pay $2 shipping, but it’s sooo worth the yummy healthy snacks. Just comment below or send me a tweet and I’ll get back to you.
Follow me on Instagram to keep up with my meal prep. I’d also love to hear your meal prep tips and tricks. Feel free to leave them or any questions you have in the comments below! And again, if you’re interested in trying out Naturebox, let me know and I can gift you a free 1 month trial.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone!! I’m sure your day will likely include BBQs, fireworks, (and beer) today, so I’ve pulled together a patriotic playlist that will please lovers of rock, rap, pop or country.
4th of July Playlist
Party in the U.S.A. x Miley Cyrus
Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy) x Big & Rich
Crazy in Love x Beyonce
I Love It (feat. Charli XCX) x Icona Pop
Empire State of Mind x Jay-Z & Alicia Keys
American Woman x Lenny Kravitz
American Kids x Kenny Chesney
American Idiot x Green Day
Firework x Katy Perry
American Boy x Estelle
Cruise feat. Nelly x Florida Georgia Line
Talk A Walk x Passion Pit
Brown Eyed Girl x Van Morrison
Made in America x JayZ and Kanye West
Living In America x James Brown
Country Girl (Shake It For Me) x Luke Bryan
We Can’t Stop x Miley Cyrus
Wagon Wheel x Darius Rucker
Sweet Caroline x Neil Diamond
Fourth of July x Mariah Carey
Fourth of July x Fall Out Boy
Also for all of those people headed to a cookout where your uncle/dad/ whoever is manning the grill is wearing these:
Summer is definitely my favorite season. Despite the almost unbearable heat – summer brings pool parties, cookouts, fireworks, and my birthday!! We’re about 10 days into summer and I wanted to bring you some of my summer essentials.
1. Floppy Hat – I’m all about protecting my face from the sun and looking cute while doing it. Go simple or monogram it, but get yourself a floppy hat.
5. Denim Cutoffs – Five days out of the week, I’m relegated to pencil skirts and cardigans. Because of this I basically live in denim shorts on the weekends during summer. Find yourself one or two pair you love and pair with sandals or sneakers and a tee for relaxed look.
6. Fun Pool Float – Whether you’re at the pool at your apartment complex or floating a river in your city you could probably benefit from a cool float. Look at this awesome doughnut float and this amazing pizza float.
7. Bathing Suits and Sunglasses – Every summer I tell myself that I don’t need a new bathing suit and inevitably I find myself pursuing the racks for some pieces I can mix and match with. I’m finally jumping on the American trend this summer and found some cute stars and stripes bikinis at Target. Ruffle bandeau tops are my go to and I found some nice ones at H&M. As far as sunglasses, I lose/break at least 3 pair every summer, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to drop $200 on some Ray-bans. I stick to selections at Target or hit up Marshall’s and TJ Maxx for my sunnies. This summer I’m loving mirrored aviators and wayfarers.
8. Treats – Frozen watermelon pops (add coconut rum if you’re 21+) are the perfect summer treat. Simply cut a watermelon into triangle slices, add a wooden popsicle stick and let them sit in the freezer for at least four hours. White Sangria – I don’t think I really need to explain. Sipping white sangria poolside is heaven on earth. This recipe over DamnDelicious.net is so yummy.
Mix these with good music and good weather and you’ve got a perfect summer day. What are your summer essentials? Leave a comment below or tweet me @donnicakelsey.
This is probably my third attempt at writing this blog post. My blog calendar says I was supposed to write about summer essentials, but how could I pull together a post about my favorite sandals and summer drink recipes when my heart is aching. On Wednesday night, a young white man sat in the historical Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal for an hour before murdering nine African American men and women who were in this house of worship.
I joined the hoodie movement for Trayvon Martin. Ferguson and Baltimore rocked my soul. I couldn’t believe Anthony Hill was killed. I felt for the young girl in McKinney who was mistreated by a cop. All of these stories hit home,but this was different. This wasn’t police brutality. This was a hate crime – an act of terrorism. In. MY. Hometown. I was born in Charleston. I was raised in Charleston. I love the city of Charleston. I would eventually love to raise my children there. To see such a horrific thing happen because of one person’s hate was too much.
Let me be clear. I know not all cops and specifically white cops are bad. I know not all white people are racists. And I’m not being divisive by saying #BlackLivesMatter.
I’m asking people to stop telling me how to feel when people that look like me are being shot down out of hate and fear. I’m asking people to stop comparing Charleston’s reaction to the events in Baltimore and Ferguson – these are completely different situations. I’m asking for people to stop saying “not everything is about race”.
My home state still flies the Confederate Flag on Capitol grounds. After President Obama was elected I was spit on by a young white guy on the campus of my beloved University of South Carolina. He said I was ruining the country. Me, the girl who had a 3.8 GPA, was ruining the country. OK. I’ve been followed in stores — owners looking for me to steal. I’ve been told I’d be prettier if my skin wasn’t so dark. The Dylan’s of this world are mad because I support #BlackGirlsRock and they’re mad because I know I rock. I watch people who look like me get killed a lot. So again stop telling me how to to feel.
As I mentioned I’ve tried writing this post three times. I couldn’t eloquently express how I was truly feeling. Each post just made me seem angry or just extremely sad (both of which are true). However, I knew that anyone who would read either version wouldn’t take anything away from it. So I decided to round-up some of the really eye-opening articles/videos I’ve come across in the past few days.
I’m not sure how many views this post will get. I’m sure I’ll offend someone, but I don’t care. I just hope this will make at least one person understand the larger issue at hand.
Was already weary. Was already heavy hearted. Was already tired. Where can we be safe? Where can we be free? Where can we be black?
Racism is not a mental illness. Unlike actual mental illnesses, it is taught and instilled. Mental illness was not the state policy of South Carolina, or any state for that matter, for hundreds of years — racism was. Assuming actions grounded in racial biases are irrational not only neutralizes their impact, it also paints the perpetrator as a victim.
The Confederate flag’s defenders often claim it represents “heritage not hate.” I agree—the heritage of White Supremacy was not so much birthed by hate as by the impulse toward plunder. Dylann Roof plundered nine different bodies last night, plundered nine different families of an original member, plundered nine different communities of a singular member. An entire people are poorer for his action. The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act—it endorses it. That the Confederate flag is the symbol of of white supremacists is evidenced by the very words of those who birthed it:
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth… Take down the flag. Take it down now.
Put it in a museum. Inscribe beneath it the years 1861-2015. Move forward. Abandon this charlatanism. Drive out this cult of death and chains. Save your lovely souls. Move forward. Do it now.