Next month, I’ll be a bridesmaid for the second time in my life. I may not be an expert on being drunk in love, but I know how to flawlessly be “just drunk”. And even though it stresses me out, I love planning events that involve a good turn-up. So what happens when I combine my passion for a good time AND Beyoncé?
The ingredients for a successful bachelorette party are a few great friends, a lot of alcohol and a little creativity. Top it off with Beyoncé, and you’re ready for a Feyoncé celebration. Usually, I’m stingy but if sharing will help your squad have as great of a time as we did–I’m here for it. Here are some of my favorite festivities and favors we used to celebrate our future bride in Savannah, Georgia.
The bride-to-be, we’ll call her Teyoncé for privacy purposes, isn’t a fan of pink. We stuck with a “Bey Hive” color scheme: gold and black. I had to customize an itinerary made by kateANDjaneDESIGNS on Etsy. The writing was originally hot pink, so she changed it to white. [You may not be able to read the list of activities, but they’re all based on Beyoncé songs.] Another bridesmaid came through with the Beyoncé themed munchies: On the Rum Punch (rum runners), Wata-melon candy (watermelon flavored Sour Patch Kids & Air Heads) and Blow-pops. She also brought gigantic cookies and alcohol infused cupcakes.
The M.O.H got super creative (and saved a few bucks) by making shirts. The front read “Don’t Worry Be Yoncé. The back read “Bridesmaid” “Maid of Honor” or “Team Bride”. In hopes that we wouldn’t be taking real mug shot photos, I snagged these mock mug shot signs from Harvest Paper Co. [Of course the woman of the weekend’s said “Feyoncé”.] My personal favorite was the #FeyonceBarCrawl! Instead of a typical scavenger hunt, we ran around the city dressed up like Queen Bey. I chose 7/11, and the bride-to-be went with Pretty Hurts. We also had Feeling Myself, XO and Countdown in the mix. Saturday morning we rode the struggle bus to a pole dancing class. We rocked our matching tanks and gold crowns as we twerked for our lives. [FYI: I’m still trying to figure out the firefighter spin.]
Photo credit: M. Sumpter
The struggle bus continued to brunch at B. Matthew’s Eatery and then to The Shrimp Factory for dinner, where we learned that Savannah’s tap water is not our friend. But ultimately, the #TeyHive (ya know, like Bey Hive) survived.
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.
We’re all framily at this point, so I’m not ashamed to admit to having my fair share of jobs during my 27 years on Earth. It’s not because I’m a bad worker. My former managers and co-workers actually liked (or still like) me, but I wish I could say the same about every job I’ve worked. With the exception of getting bored easily, ain’t nobody got time to be stuck with miserable people, on a boring job, for 40 hours every week. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I’m the Denise Huxtable of my family.
If you’re unfamiliar with Denise and her shenanigans, watch a few episodes of A Different World on Netflix. For lack of better words, committing to life decisions wasn’t her specialty. Well, committing to a job hasn’t been mine. I tend to have these great interviews, but after a few days on the job–I realize it’s not what it was hyped up to be. I’m not saying every job was completely dreadful, but there are questions I wished I asked during the interview that could’ve prevented me from accepting the offer in the first place. Check them out below!
Questions I Wished I Asked Before Accepting a Job
“Why are you hiring?” No, really…why? Don’t tell me it’s because business is picking up, when it’s really because your employees were overworked and ready to quit.
“What happened to the employee you’re looking to replace?” Mainly, I want to know if this person is going to come back seeking revenge while I’m on the clock.
“Where do you see this company/business in 2 years?” This is a great way to see how the big dogs view the company. If they can’t give you a clear answer–get out while you can. I remember applying for a couple of new restaurants in Charleston. Although I don’t know how they would’ve answered that question, because they never called for an interview–some of those businesses were closed within the next year. Guess I dodged those bullets. #WontHeDoIt
“If I asked an employee to share their least favorite thing about working for you, what would he/she say?” Current employees usually say, “Yeah, I like the job” when you first meet them. Once they’re more comfortable around you (a few weeks into the job), you start to hear the real complaints. I’m not asking for the current employees to spill all the tea, but don’t front like everyone loves the job.
“Can the managers/supervisors successfully perform the tasks required for this position?” I loved working at Longhorn Steakhouse because most of the managers were former servers, and did not mind getting down and dirty to help when necessary. Not only were they managers, they were leaders. This is really important when you’re working for a small business. In my opinion, the owners/managers of the company should be able to assist employees when necessary. Not only for emergency purposes, but also to help when the work load is extremely overwhelming. How basic does a manager look if you’re asking them for help, and they don’t have a clue?
“Are there opportunities for advancement?” And I’m talking about real opportunities–not shoulda, coulda, wouldas. If so, show me the receipts. I want to hear all about your employees who started from the bottom, now their here.
“What’s the likelihood that this job will turn me into a raging alcoholic?” If you’re interviewing for a job in the hospitality or tourism field, the answer to this question is very likely. A better way to ask this would be, “How would you rate the stress level of this job?” Honey, when I say I’ve had jobs that make me want a drink before, during and after, it is the TRUTH.
“What is your employee turnover rate?” Turnover rates include employees who quit and employees who are fired. What’s considered a high employee rate is different for every industry. David Ingram of Demand Media wrote, “In 2006, average turnover rates in the United States varied between around 15 percent annually for durable goods manufacturing employees to as high as 56 percent for the restaurant and hospitality industry, according to Nobscot Corporation.” I’ve worked in a few restaurants, so a 56% turnover rate doesn’t surprise me. I noticed certain hotels and restaurants are always hiring on Craigslist. Somethin’ ain’t right.
“From what you’ve learned about me during this interview, is there anything that concerns you?” Hopefully, the hiring manager took the time to read your resumé instead of hiring you because they’re desperate. He/she may take this opportunity to tell you why they think you’re a good fit for the job.
Will I have to change my appearance to be a part of this work family? A “man” offered me a job as his public relations assistant. The only catch was I had to cut my locs and wear heels and dresses. Remember when I said I’m the Denise Huxtable of my family? I wasn’t kidding. Chap Stick and face lotion is the only make-up I consistently wear, so demanding me to wear heels and a dress everyday is a stretch. Most jobs have a dress code, understood, but why was I have to cut my hair and wear a weave? The position wasn’t even with a corporation. I was basically going to be a freelance public relations assistant. Swerve.
My ultimate goal is to be the HBIC. Hopefully, the crazy jobs I’ve had will help me create a better experience for my future team.
I love hearing horror stories about jobs and interviews to help me feel better about my life. Haha, I kid I kid. Share them with me, and tell me what questions you’d add to this list by commenting below or tweeting me @TheAceAlexa!
If you like Piña Coladas, and getting caught in the rain–you can definitely get down with The Palmetto Peaches. Well, we can live without getting caught in the rain-but you get my drift. [Shout out to anyone who read that first line and instantly thought about The Sweetest Thing.]
Someone *cough* Donni has a calendar of random national holidays, and to our sweet surprise, July 10 is National Piña Colada Day! Being the caring person I am (LOL), I found Piña Colada recipes to help everyone celebrate. Ironically, this national holiday comes only 2 days after our first #WellnessWednesday post. But while getting lost in the wonderful world of Pinterest— I discovered a few healthy Piña Colada drink AND food recipes. It was hard, but I only picked 10! Visit our Piña Colada Day board on Pinterest and check out the list below.
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.
“Miss Simone, you are idolized, even loved, by millions now. But what happened, Miss Simone?”
–High Priestess of Soul, Maya Angelou
Photo found on Billboard.com
Netflix (and select theaters) premiered an authorized Nina Simone documentary “What Happened, Miss Simone?” in June. The film opened with a quote from Maya Angelou, so I was already sitting up straight and anxious for it to start. Other than falling in love with a few of Nina Simone’s quotes and old photos, I was unfamiliar with her story. But when I saw the documentary begin with a word from Auntie Maya I thought, “This gon’ be good, y’all.”
Documentaries and biopics, especially the ones based on the lives of prominent, Black individuals from the 60s and 70s, hold a special place in my heart. I wanted to avoid writing a review of “What Happened, Miss Simone?”, because that meant I’d have to re-watch in order to explain the things I didn’t like–and who wants to ruin a good thing? Not writing a review also made it harder to not share every “aha” moment I had. Instead, I chose four quotes and three songs by Nina Simone to bless your mind and soul.
“What Happened, Miss Simone?” Gems
On being asked what it means to be free:
“It’s just a feeling. It’s like how do you tell somebody how it feels to be in love? How are you going to tell anybody who has not been in love how it feels to be in love? You cannot do it to save your life. You can describe things but you can’t tell them, but you know it when it happens…I’ve had a couple of times on stage when I really felt free, and that’s something else. I’ll tell you what freedom is to me, no fear. I mean, really, no fear. If I could have that half of my life, no fear.”
That quote in itself can be series of blog posts. After playing it back three times, I stopped to think about how it would feel to not be afraid of ANYTHING or ANYONE. Just living your life for you. Nina was right. Even though I had hopeful images in my head, I couldn’t actually feel anything.
“Sometimes I sound like gravel, and sometimes I sound like coffee and cream.”
I love this quote because it’s basically my life. Although she’s describing her voice, it’s exactly how I’d answer someone if they asked, “How are things going you?” Some days are rough, and some are smooth sailing.
Photo found on afropunk.com
“I was never non-violent. Never. I thought we should get our rights by any means necessary.”
*sips tea* Sis played no games. I’m more of a peacemaker than Miss Simone, but her 1960’s frustrations feel a little too familiar in 2015. With the recent events including the Charleston Shooting and the burnings of several predominantly Black churches, you better believe I drifted into my feelings. Although her views were more extreme, I appreciate how she used music to support the Civil Rights Movement.
“To me we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world, Black people. So my job is to make them more curious about where they came from, and their own identity and pride in that identity. That’s why my songs, I try to make them as powerful as possible, mostly just to make them curious about themselves.”
As a lover of the arts and a rising, low-key activist, this turned on so many light bulbs. Growing up, I struggled with my Blackness. I wanted lighter skin, a smaller nose and straight hair SO badly… until I started paying attention to the right people. People, of all races, who were not only proud of their history, but proud of themselves. You know the saying “You can’t know where you’re going to if you don’t know where you’re coming from”? YES. YES. When I started to learn my family’s story is when I began to “wake-up”. I grew to love my wide Alexander nose, my darker-than-a-paper-bag skin and my kinky (aka nappy) hair. I think it’s important to use our talents and whatever outlets available, to educate and increase awareness on many things, including self-love.
What are your thoughts on “What Happened, Miss Simone?” Comment below or tweet me @TheAceAlexa! I’d love to hear your perspective on the documentary and on the High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone.