About Donnica Smalls


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:

Empire vs. Scandal: Primetime’s Heavyweight Bout

I casually scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed as I waited for Shonda Rhimes night to begin. I realized that there was an Empire vs. Scandal battle going on that I was unaware of. This is nothing like the upcoming Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight, but the interwebs is trying to pretend it is.

Empire vs. Scandal: Primetime's Heavyweight Bout - The Palmetto Peaches - palmsinatl.com


If you’ve been living under a rock or are allergic to FOX, you may not know that Empire has quickly become the number one new series of the season in all the key demographics. According to Nielsen, 61% of the show’s audience is African-American. A figure that no other prime time show, new or old, even comes close to matching. Additionally, Empire is shattering Nielsen records as the only series to rise in the ratings for seven consecutive weeks since its premiere, climbing steadily from 9.9 million same-day viewers for its Jan. 7 opener to 13.9 million last week.


In comparison, Scandal first landed on ABC with eight episodes and the ratings were okay, but nothing like the Empire phenomenon. However, because of Scandal‘s ridiculous Twitter engagement, ABC saw its potential. Shonda Rhimes has since become Thursday night’s queen.

Empire vs. Scandal

The basic argument was that Empire is led by an all-black cast (Andre’s wife is a minor character) and has continued to break Nielsen records. Beyond this, the show addresses issues that plague the African American community, but are sometimes ignored (e.g. homophobia and mental illness). In addition, the show is ultimately a celebration of a family rising from poverty to an – for lack of a better word – “empire”.

Empire vs. Scandal -- The Palmetto Peaches

ADDRESSING the issues

Pro-Empire viewers chastised Scandal for not addressing serious issues and basically saying it was a dramatic story of who “other woman/ sidepiece” Olivia  should be with. (For the record, I’m #TeamJake whom, I refer to as Pillow Lips). Don’t get me wrong, I roll my eyes and sip my wine whenever the Olitz music plays and they have a brief and highly dramatic encounter. However, Scandal, in fact, has taken up an insane number of social issues. Abby’s storyline that raised awareness about domestic violence. The issue of gun control was weaved into the storyline via a speech by Fitz. Who can forget the end of Season 3 when Daddy Pope called Fitz a “boy” reading him to filth with the eloquence and dynamics of a preacher giving a sermon on First Sunday. This wasn’t just about Fitz’s rude and childish comment, but about the achievements and struggles of the black community and a commentary on white privilege. Also, we can’t leave out Rowan’s “You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have” speech.

I also can’t address that criticism without talking about last night’s episode “The Lawn Chair,”  which echoed what occurred with Michael Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York and other countless incidents across the country. (P.S. Can we have a round of applause for Courtney B. Vance?) While the protesters weren’t chanting “black lives matter,” Shonda Rhimes and co. had them chant “Stand up, fight back, no more black men under attack”. Still effective in my opinion. I’m usually pretty active on Twitter during episodes, but last night I was pretty quiet. I stayed engaged with the characters and I may have cried a little because the episode was just that powerful.

Empire vs. Scandal

My question is why do we have to choose?

I think both shows play an important role in today’s TV landscape. Scandal is the kind of show that will have Olivia Pope kidnapped one day and then take on institutionalized racism the next. Empire is opening people’s eyes to taboo topics like mental illness. Both are showing Hollywood the power of not only Black actors and actresses (and producers), but black audiences. Shonda Rhimes tweeted about the importance of Empire’s record-breaking numbers:

If boss lady Shonda can dance for joy about Empire’s success, why do we have to be Team Empire or Team Scandal?

Tweet me your thoughts. Do you watch both? Are you a Cookie Monster (Team Empire) or a Gladiator (Team Scandal)? Or are you just sipping your tea while on Team Mary Jane Paul? (FYI – I love them all and equally on their corresponding nights!)



Whisper Challenge

The Palmetto Peaches heard about the Whisper Challenge that people are doing and thought it would be fun to give it a try.

Hey little mama, let me whisper in your ear…

No, no, Palmettos and Peaches, that’s the Whisper Song…not quite the same thing. The Whisper Challenge works like this: One person wears headphones blaring loud music and tries to lip-read the phrase spoken by the other person. Blake Shelton and Jimmy Fallon were our inspirations, but there are so many funny videos out there.

How did I interpret the phrase: “The bigger the hoop the bigger the ho”? Where did Mary Poppins come from? The things Ace thinks I’m saying by far takes the cake. Do you want to build a snowman turned into “crystal meth” wait what?! Expect barking (not from my puppy), dancing and a lot of laughter. I’m pretty sure Ace cheated, but enough spoilers, here’s our attempt at the whisper challenge:


We want to see you join in on the fun! Complete your own whisper challenge and use the hashtag #PalmsInATL to share it with us. Or feel free to just tweet us and tell us how ridiculous we are. We won’t mind!


Snow Day Essentials

Last year, Atlanta experienced a “Snowpocalypse” and the city looked like the title card from The Walking Dead.

The Palmetto Peaches - Snow Day

For any readers up north, don’t laugh too hard at us Southerners. We’re not built for snow and neither is our city.


Welp, it’s officially another snow day here, although I haven’t seen snow fall (and almost immediately melt) on my side of town since yesterday morning. Basically, a snow day for me means I get to work from the comfort of my couch (in my jammies). I’m actually writing this blog curled up on my couch in my Gamecock onesie and sipping a mint hot chocolate out of my favorite mug.  While I may not be able to build a snowman, it doesn’t look like Elsa and the cold weather are headed anywhere any time soon, so I thought I’d share some of my snow day essentials.

The Palmetto Peaches - Snow Day Essentials

Sweater | Mug | Socks |  Slippers | Candle | Blanket

  1. Sweater –  An oversized hoodie is usually my go to, but this year I am trying to up my style game. This batwing cardigan is perfect for a lazy day in the house or for quick errands around town.
  2. Mug – Whether you’re a tea, hot cocoa or coffee drinker, pour yourself something delicious in your favorite mug and turn on some Netflix. I fully support a good binge watching session.
  3. Fuzzy socks – I don’t think any explanation is necessary. Keep your toesies warm, people!
  4. Slippers – If you aren’t a fuzzy sock lover, I would suggest a fantastic pair of slippers. I love these Minnetonka faux fur-lined moccasin slippers.
  5. Candle –  Snow days are the perfect excuse to light a few candles. Bath & Body Works has the yummiest scents, but I’m a fan of canvassing the shelves of Ross or Marshall’s for candles that are super marked down. A few days ago, I scored an awesome Yankee Candle for about $3.
  6. Sherpa Throw Blanket –  I went sports-themed here, but find a super soft sherpa throw blanket that matches your décor/ team preference for the ultimate level of snow day coziness.

Basically comfort is the name of the game. What are some of your favorite items for cozying up at home? Tweet me at @donnicakelsey.

Stay warm and safe, Palmettos and Peaches!


And We’re Jammin’ (Giveaway)

Next month, I will officially have been an ATLien for two years. Although, one can argue that I wasn’t really official until I got my GA drivers license (December 2014). One of the things I love about this city is there is always something to do. However, sometimes you just need a girls night in with some wine/beer and ice cream, or if you’re like the Palmetto Peaches, sometimes you combine the two and treat yourself to Frozen Pints — the Honey IPA is my personal favorite.

For a recent girls night in, we decided to a little jammin’ with Jamberry Nail Wraps, a DIY, at-home application, vinyl nail product. Jamberry nail wraps last up to two weeks on fingers and six weeks on toes. They have over 350 designs that won’t chip and require no drying time.

And We're Jammin' - Jamberry Nail Wraps -- The Palmetto Peaches

My good friend and fellow Seminole, Katie, is a Jamberry Nails Independent Consultant, and provided Ace and I each a set of nail wraps to try.  I opted for Mixed Signals (left) and Ace chose Over It (right).Jamberry Nail Wraps - The Palmetto Peaches

How cool are they? While I consider myself pretty crafty, my nail painting process goes something like this:

  1. Look at nails in horror.
  2. Decide whether or not to use a base coat (or if I have time/patience).
  3. Apply one coat before bed. Try to sleep with my hands hanging off the bed.
  4. Wake up in the morning to find nail polish on my face and sheets.
  5. Try to fix all the nails I messed up while sleeping with a  2nd coat, all while eating grits and watching the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on my DVR.
  6. End up with 2 -3 super thick and janky looking nails.

 Final Results

Donni Jamberry Nail Wraps --- The Palmetto Peaches

Ace Jamberry Nail Wraps - The Palmetto Peaches







All things considered, this was substantially easier with a much better outcome. To apply you just need: rubbing alcohol, a nail file, manicure scissors (we used some regular scissors), a cuticle pusher (we suck at directions and didn’t use it) and a hair dryer. These are great anytime, but I forsee myself ordering them for vacations or busy weeks when I can’t paint my nails, and need them to still look nice.



To celebrate the one week-a-versary of our launch, The Palmetto Peaches and Katie are giving away a set of Jamberry Nail wraps to one of our readers. Find a pair you like or give them as a gift to your friend/ significant other. Contest instructions are below:


Want to order your own?

Please check out Katie’s Jamberry site. She’s been a consultant since September, but has been a fan of having cute nails for forever. She’s super friendly and can answer all of your Jamberry questions. Also, you can try a sample by filling out this form. Bonus: Katie’s using the commission on her sales to pay for her upcoming wedding! So let’s help her out!! Please note the current catalog is retiring several designs effective March 1st, so any current designs you see will only be there through the end of the month. Additionally, anyone who orders during the time the retiring wraps are still active is eligible to win a $25 Jamberry gift certificate.

Good luck to all of our Palmettos and Peaches!



50 Shades of Awful

50 Shades of Grey has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.To put that in perspective: Beyoncé has sold about 118 million albums worldwide, Taylor Swift is sitting around 110 million and the iconic Michael Jackson album, Thriller, has sold about 65 million copies. I recently posted a Facebook status about how awful the 50 Shades of Grey series is, and was pleasantly surprised about how many people agreed with me.

I first heard of the series in a staff meeting at an internship. (That’s a blog post for a different day.) It didn’t sound like my cup of tea, so I ignored it. I’ve been able to successfully avoid 50 Shades until a few weeks ago. Blame Beyoncé’s voice in the trailer haunting me. Curious, I downloaded free .PDF versions of all the books (because let’s be honest, I’d rather spend my Amazon dollars on YA fiction).

It didn’t take me long to figure out how awful the book was. I’m not just talking about the abusive, borderline rape things that were packaged as romance, wrapped in a silk neck tie. But hey, if that’s your thing, I’m not here to judge what you’re into. You do you, boo boo.

However, I will judge how poorly written the book is. I learned from the fantastic responses on my Facebook status that the book started as Twilight fan fiction. Now it all makes sense. (For the record, I read all of the Twilight books and Stephenie Meyer’s writing is a hellava lot better than E. L. James, and that’s not saying much).

Here’s the cliff notes version for those of you haven’t read/ are smart enough not to read the book:

The main character Anastasia Steele, is a 21-year-old (soon-to-be) college graduate, but is literally one of the dumbest people on the planet. Filling in for a friend, she goes to interview Christian Grey, the 27-year-old billionaire tycoon and S&M enthusiast, for their school newspaper. From the moment she trips into his office à la Laney Boggs (albeit — the courting in She’s All That is actually quite sweet), Christian decides he wants her. There’s a hundred or so pages of:

Ana: Why do you want to spank/whip/tie me up/boss me around/stalk me/buy the company I work for? Can’t we be a regular couple?

Christian: Because I like it. No.

The book ends with Christian beating Ana with a belt, and her realizing that their relationship may never be normal and leaving him. Spoiler alert: In the books that follow, they  get back together and get married.

Now that the summary is over. Let’s talk about why I hated this book, but also continued to “hate-read” it:

  1. Ana’s inner goddess is a tween with 5SOS posters on her wall:
  • My inner goddess has her sequins on and is warming up to dance the rumba.
  • That’s the bottom line. I want to be with him. My inner goddess sighs with relief.
  • My inner goddess is beside herself, hopping from foot to foot.
  • My inner goddess jumps up and down with cheer-leading pom-poms shouting yes at me
  • My inner goddess looks like someone snatched her ice cream.

These are direct quotes, people.

 2. I’m pretty sure E. L. James wrote the first draft, and then went back and right-clicked random words to pull up the thesaurus to try to make herself sound smarter. It doesn’t quite gel with the majority of language she uses — which is kind of just a bunch of “holy”, “Jeez” and “oh my’s”.

3. Ana is just basic. Best example — she’s a college student that doesn’t have email. Um, how is that possible? I bet she was the girl who never knew the changes to the syllabus, and was the one person sitting in the lecture hall because she missed the email about class being cancelled.

4. Here’s another example of E.L James’ terrible writing:

And from a very tiny, under-used part of my brain— probably located at the base of my medulla oblongata where my subconscious dwells—comes the thought: He’s here to see you.

Um, I learned back in my 8th grade health class the purpose of the medulla oblongata. For those of you who may have been sick that day: your medulla oblongata handles involuntary actions like breathing, body temperature regulation and your heartbeat.  Sorry, E.L. James your “subconscious” doesn’t “dwell” there.

5. If normal guys did the things Christian Grey did to Ana, we would label them as “stalkers” or just plain “creeps”.  He buys her a cell phone so he can utilize the GPS to always find her. STALKER. He shows up at her place of work – a hardware store three hours away from him, and proceeds to buy bondage gear there. STALKER and Stage Five Creep.

Ana even calls him a stalker: “One minute he rebuffs me, the next he sends me fourteen-thousand-dollar books, then he tracks me like a stalker.”

Around chapter five, he takes a very drunk Ana, back to his hotel.

” ‘Anastasia, you were comatose. Necrophilia is not my thing. I like my women sentient and receptive,’ he says dryly.

Oh thanks, Mr. Grey, for being decent enough not to tie up a drunk woman you hardly know and take advantage of her. Also, let’s talk about the repetition of: “You are mine, and only mine.” Now we’ve passed creepy to borderline psychopath.

I could keep listing things, but eventually the blog must end. Where was the editor? Was the real publisher out on sick leave? Needless to say, I didn’t finish the trilogy. I gave up, and I never give up on books. But a couple pages in the final installment, I realized there were a million other better things I could be doing with my time. You know, like counting the grains of sand on my patio.

Have you read the book? What are your thoughts? Are there other books that you’ve hate-read to see what all the hype was about? Leave a comment or tweet me @donnicakelsey.