About Donnica Smalls

http://www.donnicakelsey.com

Resident Palmetto Peach expert on glitter, baking and why football is the 5th season. Pragmatic dreamer. "I might bend a little bit, but I don't fold."

Posts by Donnica Smalls:

Dorm Room Essentials

If you’re coming with a U-Haul you have too much stuff!!

In the coming weeks, approximately 1.6 million first-year students will head off to four-year colleges and universities. While there are plenty of campuses with apartment style dorms and spacious living quarters for students, it’s likely that as a freshman you’ll be stuck in some of the smaller dorm rooms.

Around the nation, students entering their freshman year have an average 228 square feet of living space to share with a roommate. FYI, the average studio apartment is 300-450 square feet. As much as I crossed my fingers that my dorm room was going to mirror The Best Years, I, alas, was confined to a small outdated dorm room with hall bathrooms.

Before my freshman year, I grabbed one of those checklists from Bed Bath and Beyond and racked up on items. A great deal of them were returned after lugging them up nine floors (the elevators were broken for a few hours during move-in). Dorm room fail. I lofted my bed the first semester and eventually got tired of not being able to fall into bed for a nap between classes. Dorm room fail. My Dad came up before second semester started and dismantled my loft bed and set it up on risers. Dorm room success.  In the hopes that I can help others consolidate those bags/boxes on move-in day and avoid a few dorm room fails, I’ve created this Dorm Room Essentials checklist. Pin it. Share it with your friends or the college student in your life. Click the image for a printable version. 

Dorm Room Essentials - The Palmetto Peaches

 

Don’t forget to:

  • Meet the Roomie: Once you’ve gotten your roommate assignment reach out and say hi! You can also search your Class of 2019 Facebook group for their name. Together you’ll need to figure out the items you’ll share (mini fridge, microwave, TV, curtains, etc.) and who will buy what.
  • Also, for those of you flying in,  most schools will let you mail items during move-in. So purchase big items beforehand and have them shipped to campus. Or you could wait until you get into town and find your nearest Walmart, Target, and/or Bed Bath & Beyond. Don’t forget to use those 20% off single item coupons at BB&B. Hand one to Dad, Mom, little sister, big brother and purchase your items individually.
  • Send your friends letters. Yes, adding paper, envelopes, and stamps to your don’t forget list will put a smile on the faces of your friends at other universities and back at home. Who doesn’t love a little snail mail.
  • While not specific to dorm room essentials, I would caution you to stay away from the bookstore when renting or purchasing books. Check Chegg, Half.com, and Amazon.com for more reasonably priced books.

Good luck Class of 2019! And to my college grads leave a comment below or tweet me what college essentials you would suggest for first-year students.

Donni Siggy--The Palmetto Peaches

Planner Addict

Hi! My name is Donni and I am a planner addict/planner nerd. Yes, I love my Google calendar, but I absolutely love a good old-fashioned paper and pen planner. I’m currently using the 2015 Erin Condren Life Planner and the Day Designer for blog planning. I’ve had one or two people ask me about how I use my planner so I’ve filmed a plan with me video which you can find below.  But first, I have a few organization/planner tips for you:

  1. Set aside a specific time each week for planning.  Sunday is my planning day. In between meal prep, I sit down with my planner and planner accessories and figure out a plan of attack (no pun intended) for the week ahead.
  2. Don’t be afraid to experiment.  I love looking at Pinterest for planner inspiration and I follow a lot of fabulous planner ladies on Instagram. However, I learned quickly that not everyone’s planning system will necessarily work for you.  Don’t be afraid to try different planners, layouts, stickers, etc. until you find what work’s best for you. I was stuck on horizontal planners until I switched over to my Life Planner and now vertical layout planners are my favorite.  Planner peace is achievable.
  3. Build up your accessory collection! Beware of Etsy! There are soooo many cute shops with dozen of items you will feel you need for your planner. You will be tempted to buy everything, but I would suggest taking your time and building up your collection. If you’re a planner newbie, you may discover that stamps fit your aesthetic more. So now what are you going to do with the 300 stickers you have coming in from various shops?
  4. Your planner can be more than a planner. In addition to daily planning, I’ve seen many use their planners as gratitude journals and scrapbooks. I’ve started adding movie/event tickets to my planner to add more of that scrapbooking feel.
  5.  HAVE FUN! Do I want my planner to be as gorgeous and as decked out as some of the layouts I see? Sure. But this is supposed to be a fun aspect of an organizational tool. Don’t stress about decorating your planner. If it just makes sense to leave out the washi tape, stickers and stamps – leave it out! 

Plan With Me Video

Plan With Me - Monthly Spread - The Palmetto PeachessPlan With Me - Weekly Spread- The Palmetto Peaches

If you’re a fellow planner nerd – leave a comment below or let’s chat planners on twitter! I’d love to watch your plan with me videos or see photos of your weekly layouts. And for all of my organizationally challenged peeps, let me know if you’d consider a good old-fashioned paper and pen planner.

Donni Siggy--The Palmetto Peaches

Go Girl It’s Your Birthday – Birthday Playlist

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.

Go Girl It's Your Birthday - Birthday Playlist - The Palmetto Peaches - palmsinatl.com

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)

  1. 50 Cent – In Da Club
  2. Nicki Minaj – The Night Is Still Young
  3. Pitbull & Ne-Yo – Time Of Our Lives
  4. Trey Songz – Say Ahh
  5. Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO
  6. P!nk – Get the Party Started
  7. BSB – Get Down
  8. Wiz Khalifa – Young, Wild and Free
  9. ShopBoyz – Party Like a Rockstar
  10. 2 Chainz – Birthday Song
  11. Avicii –  Levels
  12. Selena Gomez – Birthday
  13. P!NK – Raise Your Glass
  14. Rihanna – Birthday Cake
  15. Lady Gaga – Just Dance
  16. Ke$ha – We R Who We Are
  17. Fun. (Feat. Janelle Monáe) – We Are Young
  18. Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)
  19. Kings of Leon-Birthday
  20. 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!

Donni Siggy--The Palmetto Peaches

Frinder: Tinder For Friends

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.

1. Meetup.com

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.

Making Friends - The Palmetto Peaches

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.

Donni Siggy--The Palmetto Peaches

Meal Prep 101

 

Meal Prep 101 - The Palmetto Peaches

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.

The Prep

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

Lunch Meal Prep - The Palmetto PeachesFor 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.

My Favorite Lunch Options
  • Turkey Burgers or Salmon Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries
  • Baked Tilapia, Mashed Cauliflower, & Broccoli
  • Burrito Bowls (Cilantro lime rice, grilled chicken, black beans, cheese and avocado)
  • Turkey Wraps with Avocado, Red Pepper Hummus and Spinach

 

Dinner Meal Prep - The Palmetto Peaches

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.

Snacks

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.

Snack Meal Prep - The Palmetto Peaches

 

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.

Donni Siggy--The Palmetto Peaches

4th of July Playlist

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 - The Palmetto Peaches - palmsinatl.com

4th of July Playlist

  1. Party in the U.S.A. x Miley Cyrus
  2.  Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy) x Big & Rich
  3. Crazy in Love x Beyonce
  4. I Love It (feat. Charli XCX) x Icona Pop
  5. Empire State of Mind x Jay-Z & Alicia Keys
  6. American Woman x Lenny Kravitz
  7. American Kids x Kenny Chesney
  8. American Idiot x Green Day
  9. Firework x Katy Perry
  10. American Boy x Estelle
  11. Cruise feat. Nelly x Florida Georgia Line
  12. Talk A Walk x Passion Pit
  13. Brown Eyed Girl x Van Morrison
  14. Made in America x JayZ and Kanye West
  15. Living In America x James Brown
  16. Country Girl (Shake It For Me) x Luke Bryan
  17. We Can’t Stop x Miley Cyrus
  18. Wagon Wheel x Darius Rucker
  19. Sweet Caroline x Neil Diamond
  20. Fourth of July x Mariah Carey
  21. 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:

Check out my summertime flavor cookout playlist:

 

What songs would you include on your own 4th of July/ “Americana” playlist? Leave a comment below or tweet me @donnicakelsey.

Donni Siggy--The Palmetto Peaches