Melanin & Mimosas

Yesterday, thanks to Sheriden (The Indie Byline), we had the pleasure of joining six other Atlanta bloggers for brunch at 10th & Piedmont. The event was called “Melanin and Mimosas”.  It wasn’t the warm Sunday we were hoping for, but the good food and great company made everything alright.

What we ate

Ace: As if I haven’t had enough peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the last few days, I chose the “The King” Stuffed French Toast – stuffed with peanut butter and sliced bananas, and a side of fresh melon and pineapple (LOL, fruit). I paced myself and only had one traditional mimosa, however, my next trip to 10th & Piedmont will include a Granmosa (Grand Marnier, vodka, champagne and OJ) and/or “all you care to drink” mimosas.

Donni: This weekend a few of my friends from the famously hot Columbia were in town visiting and my healthy eating went right out of the window. I think I ate half of weight in fries and sriracha mayo at Ormsby’s. Also, how many calories do you think are in a vodka pineapple? So on Sunday, I debated with myself to turn the weekend around with the Feel Good Plate (scrambled egg whites with red peppers, spinach and feta, turkey sausage, low fat yogurt and fresh fruit). Ultimately, I decided to continue the “cheat weekend” and went with a peach Bellini and the Southwest Burrito  – with chicken, potatoes. onions. peppers, scrambled eggs, cheddar, sour cream and salsa.

What we learned

Donni: It was so nice to hear that others were struggling with finding the balance between their own path and emulating the path that some really popular bloggers have set. We all obviously have a vision, but want the audience as well. With so many bloggers out there doing similar things it can be difficult to find a balance between being 100% original and also trying to do something that obviously works. For me it would be easy to pull together a DIY post every week and not talk about myself. That’s just my personality, but I realized that I need to make myself more open, if this blog is going to be something people really can relate to.

Ace: Regardless of where we are right now or where we used to be, it seems like we all face (or have faced) the same blogger challenges: finding our voices, remaining consistent and opening up to the world. This is only the second networking event I’ve attended since I moved here (unacceptable I know)–but I’m always surprised to hear how my fellow young creatives/professionals are going through similar struggles, despite how different our paths may seem.

Another takeaway? I need to learn how to code…

What’s next

Ace: I’m going to (try) to not be so hard on myself. I almost didn’t go to Melanin and Mimosas. After hiding in my room with Xfinity Watchathon Week, and being a little bummed about not getting to do hoodrat things with my friends—I just wanted to finish my weekend in bed. So I started to talk myself out of going. My list of excuses was super short:

1. I don’t have anything to wear.
2. My eyebrows look like hell.
3. I can’t afford myself.

But I’m so glad I did! I got some fresh air and got introduced to new fabulous, friendly faces. Didn’t even have to hide in the bathroom to do my Wonder Woman pose for 3 minutes. Now I’m even more excited to plan a Palmetto Peaches event to connect us with more Atlanta bloggers! I’m also looking forward to working on the challenges we discussed at brunch. I have the same 24 hours in a day as these ladies (and Mama Oprah…and Queen Bey), even when those hours seems like the worst ones ever in the history of Everdom. Reading more blogs similar to my style of writing is at the top of my list. I’ve always used writing as a way to vent or to help plan out some of my ideas. There is nothing I currently do on a normal basis that makes me want to sit down, recap and/or explain, so I stick to what I know–my life. Even if my posts cover issues I’m still trying to figure out; I value putting myself out there to get advice/tips from others while possibly realizing how crazy I sound on “paper”.

Donni: I’ve decided that I want to become a better photographer. One thing we discussed during brunch is having the ability to make sure that not only the content of our blogs is high quality, but that the visual component matches. Luckily, I’ve been coding websites since I was 13 so that part of our visual brand is taken care of. (Basically, when I wasn’t at dance class I spent my time updating my personal website and writing fanfiction.) However, I want to make sure we have professional(ish) photography. Having a love for capturing images and know how important lighting is, doesn’t make me a great photographer. Over the past two weeks, I’ve purchased a tripod and upgraded from my sad 12MP point and shoot Samsung camera to what I’m calling my beginner’s DSLR. Before, I go out and make an investment in the $800 Nikon that I truly want, I’ve decided that I’m going to take some time teach myself some photography basics: exposure, ISO, aperture, shutter speed. Armed with this knowledge, I know I can start visually expressing myself better on the blog.

Also, I’ve made it my mission to find ways to collaborate and connect with other bloggers. The ladies we met (listed below) yesterday are doing some amazing things and chatting with them only fueled my creativity.

Melanin and Mimosas -- The Palmetto Peaches

Photo Credit: The Indie Byline

For more  Melanin & Mimosas pics, visit The Indie Byline!

acesiggy and donni-siggy

Spring Cleaning My Life — Green Clean

After writing my last post, I realized that this whole spring cleaning my life thing was going to be quite an undertaking. But last weekend I got started and I am so happy with my progress. As I said, a beautiful, clean living space is inspiring and it eliminates stress. So I went to work cleaning and organizing my apartment. I started my getting rid of all the piles of mail I had thrown everywhere. I bought some cute binders and file folders from Target and saved my important papers (medical bills, tax info, etc.). Hello counter space. Next up: my bathroom.

True Life: I’m a product junkie. So there are usually bottles EVERYWHERE and make-up dust sprinkled here and there. Don’t judge me by what you’re about to see. Spring Cleaning My Life -- Natural cleaningI know… good lawd have mercy.

The first thing I did was get rid of some of the products I don’t use. I’ve been transitioning to my natural hair for about a year and honestly those products that worked wonders for my relaxed hair needed to be removed a long time ago. Bye-bye.

Next came cleaning: along with my natural hair, I’ve decided I want to use more natural products. Green clean, if you will. If for no other reason, my cute puppy licks everything (sometimes  for hours on end). I would rather him ingest things that won’t seriously harm his tummy like the chemicals found in some of your everyday cleaners. After a bit of research, I discovered that vinegar is a great natural cleanser.  I’m not a fan of the smell of vinegar, but learned that adding essential oils can solve that problem.

Essential Oils 101

  • Lavender – My mother is obsessed with lavender and now I get it. Lavender is known for its aromatic properties and ability to calm and relax the body and mind. It can also be used to relieve skin irritation and soothes cuts and burns.
  • Lemon – Lemon can be used to clean and disinfect surfaces and packs a double punch as an incredibly uplifting and energizing scent for body and mind.
  • Tea Tree – Anything that needs disinfecting or cleaning can benefit from tea tree oil. I also love it because it’s great for my hair. It not only moisturizes the hair and scalp, but promotes hair growth. I love a good two-for-one.

There are lots of other great essential oils that you may prefer (I would suggest looking into: orange and peppermint.) However, for my kitchen and bathroom, I choose lemon and tea tree oil. And for my general all-purpose cleaner, I went with lavender.

Spring Cleaning Printable

You can download or save this cute little printable for reference.

Organizing: Even after the purge, I realized I had a lot of stuff on my counter. I decided that if displayed differently all of my products wouldn’t look as cluttered. I got an affordable acrylic case to hold some of my makeup and made a jewelry/ odds and end stand out of a few cheap melamine plates and candlesticks from the Dollar Tree (DIY tutorial coming soon). So here are my results:

Spring Cleaning My Life (before and after) - The Palmetto Peaches
Spring Cleaning My Life (before & after)-- The Palmetto Peaches
Spring Cleaning My Life - DIY - The Palmetto Peaches
Vast improvement, right? I’m taking this easy to make solution from room to room and loving the results (and the purge). I’m tackling the kitchen and my closets next. Wish me luck! Below you can find the oils and some of the other products I mentioned to start your own spring cleaning.

Do you have any natural cleaning tips/tricks? I’d love to hear them. If you end up making any of the cleaning solutions let me know.  

donni-siggy

Happiness is a Deep Fried Oreo

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
If you’ve read Donni’s latest post: Spring Cleaning My Life, you’ve seen how The Palmetto Peaches are embracing the Spring! On her Spring Cleaning To-Do List, Donni mentioned adding a little more happiness into her life. I’m tackling this by spending time with my nephews. Some of you may already know, but most of my G-Rated stories revolve around those fools, which is why having them in Atlanta for Spring Break is adding to my “happy” (even when they’re getting on my nerves). My squad’s ages are 3, 8 and 12–so you can imagine what my days are like: loud, adventurous and a little stank.

Yesterday we went to the Atlanta Fair. It was my first time going to a fair in 10 years! I first lost interest after realizing it was a “couples” thing, and again after some kid fell out of a roller-coaster in Columbia my freshman year of college. Despite all that, I was low-key excited to enjoy the amazing Atlanta weather aka try deep fried Oreos.

The 8-year-old got me to ride the Cliff Hanger: a ride imitating hang gliding. I managed to keep it together as he screamed the entire ride. I’ll admit I was a little freaked out, yet strangely inspired. Being able to stare into the sky (while wiping the drool from my mouth) was a little relaxing. I didn’t think about my overwhelming to-do list or sad bank account. My only mission was to take in the scenery, and laugh at the hilarious commentary. After that, we were tricked into playing about 5 games–all for the love of Ninja Turtles. About $20 and a few curse words later, we got that damn purple turtle.

Out of all the little adventures throughout the day, my favorite was being able to put my phone away and leave my computer alone for 6 hours. SIX HOURS Y’ALL! I used to take pride in getting bored easily. A little birdie told me everyday is different when you’re a publicist. I was all like, “Public relations is for me, because it’s more than sitting at a desk.” Long behold, that’s what I’ve been doing lately: sitting on the couch or floor with a hot MacBook in my lap. When I first began freelancing, I dubbed myself as #FUNemployed (meaning I could work from the beach, coffee shop or at happy hour). So, I’m adding it to my Spring Cleaning To-Do List to be #FUNemployed again. The Palmetto Peaches plan on taking this “Spring Cleaning My Life” to a-whole-nother level–so you’ll be reading my full list soon.
Atlanta Fair -- The Palmetto PeachesThe last few days with the boys have been a sketchy, local fair, roller-coaster ride. Even though my routine is all out of whack, it’s a great reminder of why living my purpose is so necessary. I want them to have plenty of “Remember when Auntie did this?” stories. However, I bought (and drank) two mini bottles of wine at 4:00pm today. It was much needed and deserved. And now I’m off to make Easter baskets. No worries–I have two more mini bottles left. Do you have any (kid friendly) Spring Break plans?

acesiggy

Spring Cleaning My Life

The first day of spring was March 20. This season change is synonymous with spring cleaning. However, spring cleaning isn’t just for your closets. I read somewhere that spring is the perfect time to recreate ourselves and blossom into the potential we envision for our lives. That’s pretty powerful. I know most people make their resolutions for the year in January, but I have decided that this spring I’m going to clean myself up – renew my mind and soul.

Spring Cleaning My Life -- The Palmetto Peaches

Spring Cleaning To-Do List

  • To declutter is to de-stress.  I know that this post is supposed to be about spring cleaning life, but traditional spring cleaning is important as well.  A beautiful, clean living space is inspiring and it eliminates stress. I’ve looked up some natural DIY cleaning products that I’m making and I’m going to thoroughly clean my apartment, top to bottom. I’ve decided to feng shui my living space by my rearranging my living room and changing up the color scheme. I’ve also planned out a gallery wall with inspiring pictures. I want the space I live in to energize me and stimulate my creativity. I also plan to go through all of my clothes and give away everything that doesn’t fit.
  • Getting rid of clothes. Here’s what I think: clothes are unfortunately tied to self-esteem. There’s nothing wrong with holding on to a pair of jeans you want to fit in again, but realistically you have to ask yourself why you’re holding on to items that you can’t wear. For example, I have a few bodycon dresses I used to wear out to Five Points back in undergrad.  When I put them on now there are dimples in places that were not visible previously. Why am I holding on to them? I am not as small as I was four years ago. Also, I’m pretty sure I’m almost to the point where bodycon dresses are not an acceptable outfit to go out in. I’m declaring to myself right now as I type, that I’m ok with not ever being 110 pounds again. I don’t need to be! My weight does not correlate with happiness or self-confidence. My only concern should be is becoming healthier.
  • Being a healthier me. No, I’m not going on a diet.  Would I like to lose a few pounds? Sure. I went from dancing every day for a minimum of three hours a day in high school, to being a very active college and graduate student – taking dance classes and walking to classes on humongous campuses in famously hot weather. I could eat whatever I wanted and I would dance/walk it off.  Now I sit at a desk for 60+ hours a week and my choice to go to Wendy’s and McDonald’s for lunch just sits in my thighs.  So I’ve decided to make healthier decisions when it comes to food. Will I still eat a few slices of Dominoes’ pizza… absolutely.  However, if you’ve been following me on Instagram (do it, you know you want to), you’ve seen I’ve ventured into the world of meal prepping. I’m picking some delicious yet healthy options to eat during the week. Meal prepping helps me avoid those lunch time trips to Burger King. I’ve also vowed to experiment with foods I’ve never tasted, try new recipes, and to drink more water. Did you know eating healthy foods can actually improve our happiness.
  • Being a happier me. I’m by no means, unhappy. I think sometimes I just let myself get overwhelmed with work or this vision I had of my career. In my head, I thought I would go get my master’s degree and immediately start working at a PR firm where I would travel across the country dazzling clients with amazing strategic plans. FYI: My other dream was to be a script writer for a soap opera. Hence, my lofty post-graduation dream. Reality: I’m a slightly underpaid media relations specialist, who spends her day chained to a desk, looking out of the window across the hall. I am doing some amazing work on important health issues and there are days that are so fulfilling. Then someone posts a picture on Instagram of their weekly jet set to our nation’s capital and subsequent flight to LA with the hashtag #worklife. Commence the eye-rollling. As Ace mentioned in her last post (Food for Thought), we attended a lunch and learn with some inspiring speakers. One of my main takeaways: Do not to judge yourself on the accomplishments of others. I needed to hear that. Why am I looking at someone else’s career journey as a path for my own? I may not be where I thought I would be, but I’m in a great place. I’m a 25-year- old with a master’s degree. I had multiple job offers out of both undergrad and graduate school. My current employer is giving me opportunities to grow and take on additional responsibilities. Very soon, I’ll be taking classes for a new certificate in social media and my company is paying for my tuition. Outside of work, I have so much to be happy about and thankful for: I have an amazing, supportive family, weirdly awesome friends, a roof over my head, a full pantry, a super cute puppy, and good health. That’s a good life.
  • Dust off my talents. One of my friends tagged me in this picture last week and it could not have come at a better time. Spring Cleaning My Life - The Palmetto PeachesThis is sooo true. I may not always be a ballerina, but I’ll always be a dancer. I’m going to be honest with myself. My schedule is crazy and it’s just not possible for me to take three dance classes a week to get me back to the point where I used to be. Not unless one of you fabulous readers have discovered a way to add a few hours in the day.  However, I am going to make time to immerse myself in dance. I will try to take a few classes regularly and I am going to start seeing some of the productions of the amazing dance companies here in Atlanta. Dance has always made me feel better. No matter what kind of horrible day I had, some good choreography could erase it all. It’s time to freshen up my tap shoes and use some syncopated beats to put a smile on my face.
  • Straighten my finances. If only I could tell 18-year-old Donni to step away from the credit card application. On top of credit cards and student loans, I’m vowing to get rid of lifestyle clutter. Every month, I sit down and make a budget. I actually stick to it, but I have some items I can trim down. I’m talking to you Starbucks. Y’all I actually budget $30 a month for Starbucks. That’s $360 a year for coffee. That’s money I could add to my savings or invest. Moving forward, I will assess some areas that I can cut down and come up with a plan to be debt free.
  • Clean-up my relationships. I think this one is pretty much complete.  However, I added it because in general I think it can’t hurt to be reminded of the importance of ridding ourselves of any toxic relationships in our lives. Clean house on those “friends” that bring you down.  I have had let go of a few people that I thought I would be friends with until I was old and gray because of the negativity they brought into my life. I’ve also had to learn to let go of old relationships. It didn’t work for a reason. Y’all the annual happy birthday text or Instagram like isn’t worth the drama.

As I work on my to-do list, I’ll share my progress and any tips I think might be beneficial for others. Also, I’d love to hear some of the ways you want to spring clean your life.

donni-siggy

The Palmetto Peaches’ Guide to March Madness

Is everyone in your office/class talking about March Madness? The upsets? The odds?  Are you lost?

Last week for the kickoff of March Madness, I starting drafting a post where I would talk about my bracket picks and give you a cheat guide to the tournament. Then Thursday happened and my entire bracket was ruined by some major upsets. Way to bust my bracket UAB and GA State! And C’mon Kansas! Now that the Sweet Sixteen is beginning tomorrow, I thought I’d try another post. I’m not an expert by any means, and you may know that in terms of college sports, I rank football number one. However, I try to keep up with NCAA basketball and for those of you who need to fake your way through the tournament – I got your your back with this guide.

The Palmetto Peaches' Guide to March Madness - The Palmetto Peaches - palmsinatl.com

But first let’s start at the beginning…

So How Does March Madness Work?

Games are played round-by-round over a three week period where one champion emerges.

March Madness - The Palmetto Peaches

After the “first-four” which is a bit much to explain for this basic overview, the 64-team bracket is established.  Each winner advances into the next round.

  • After Round 2 – 32 teams remain
  • After Round 3 – 16 teams remain ( This is called the Sweet 16)
  • After Round 4 – 8 Teams remain (aka the Elite Eight)
  • After Round 5 – 4 Teams remain (Hello Final Four) ; Fun fact 2008 was the only year all the #1 seeds made it to the final four)
  • After Round 5 – Yup, you guessed it two teams remain and some is the national champion and gets to cut down the net.

Why is it called March Madness?

That’s just the way it is.  No, that’s not true, but I had to do some research on this one. Apparently, “March Madness” traces back to Illinois’ statewide high-school basketball tournament, which began in 1908. In 1939, an official with the Illinois High School Association, Henry V. Porter, penned an article called “March Madness” for the organization’s in-house magazine. “A little March madness may complement and contribute to sanity and help keep society on an even keel,” he wrote. Three years later, he followed up with a poem, “Basketball Ides of March,” which read in part: “A sharp-shooting mite is king tonight/ The Madness of March is running.” The phrase was confined to Illinois high-school ball until 1982, when CBS broadcaster  Brent Musburger used it during his network’s NCAA tournament coverage. Read more here.

What is a seed?

So you keep hearing about those #1 seeds, eh? Nope, they have nothing to do with gardens. Seeds refer to the placement of a team in one of four regions (East, Midwest, South, and West).  Each region has between 16 and 18 teams, which are assigned a seed number of 1 through 18, with the best team in the region awarded the No. 1 seed. Usually, the highest seeds (Nos. 1 through 8) have more success than the lower seeds (Nos. 9 through 16) in the tournament, but there are some Cinderellas.

Cinderella? Like the movie?

No, I’m not talking about Disney’s new Cinderella movie.  A “Cinderella” is a team that unexpectedly achieves success in the tournament. Just like Cinderella’s chariot turns back into a pumpkin at midnight, most of the Cinderella teams turn back before reaching the Final Four.  But there have been some Cinderella teams in the Final Four (VCU, George Mason, Butler and Wichita State). However, this year doesn’t really have a Cinderella. The lowest-seeded team in the Sweet 16 is No. 11 UCLA and SPOILER ALERT- this school has the most national titles in history. Actually, there are 10 programs still playing that have won national titles. Seven of them have won multiple national titles. Write these down for trivia night.

So I think that’s the basics. Now that we’re caught up you can read my breakdown of the Sweet 16 by clicking more below.

(more…)

Food for Thought: Chasing Dreams

Donni and I attended The Brand Helena K.’s Basic Business: Lunch and Learn over the weekend. The amazing gouda omelet and mimosa I had weren’t the only gems being dropped at BQE Restaurant & Lounge. The guest speakers really tugged on some of my heart-strings.

Even though I claimed (and still claim) 2015 as MY year, the first few months have been a roller-coaster ride. (For the record, I’m not a big fan of roller-coasters.)

A lot of the advice given by the guest speakers related to my current situation. Bels Stacks, owner of STACKS Magazine, dropped a little knowledge on dream chasing. I needed another mimosa at that point, because it brought up all the things I’ve been kicking myself for lately. I didn’t have a strategy for chasing my dream. Hell, social media marketing wasn’t even my dream. I was just tired of working for whack managers and dramatic small business owners. I took the freelance route as a way to make money from a hobby.

There were A LOT of things I could’ve done differently in the past: I could’ve actually tried to enter corporate America after college; I could’ve went to grad school; I could’ve saved money while I was living with my sister; I could’ve demanded the pay I deserved from my clients–but I didn’t. And while I could keep dwelling on that obnoxious list of things when life gets rough; I just need to accept them and #CarryOn.

“Yesterday is a canceled check.”

When author/actress/HBIC, Faye Adams-Taylor, spoke those words, I wanted to slide out of my chair–but I didn’t want to embarrass Helena. All the things on my list of regrets are already done. There is literally nothing I can do to change the decisions I’ve made. However, I can put time and energy into cleaning up the messes those decisions helped create, and try my hardest to avoid making them in the future. As I mentioned before, engaging on social media was something I enjoyed doing and happened to be good at. It wasn’t this fire burning inside me that had to be put out, and that was definitely starting to show.

I started my path as a freelance social marketer for all the wrong reasons, which caused me to settle and get stuck. Over the last few months, all I could think about was how much I didn’t like the work I was doing. I wasn’t satisfied with the performance of my efforts, and when I tried to do something about it–I failed. In December, I reached out to three of my clients with a proposal to enhance my social media approach. When they basically ignored what I had to say–I didn’t care. I didn’t hunt them down or demanded a response. I was over it. It was hard for me to get pumped up and focused to make changes when they weren’t. So I continued posting and tweeting, just to make sure I got paid– all while complaining and sharing horror stories with my friends. The signs were all there for me to move on, but I stayed because I NEEDED the money.

Fast forward to today, and those clients are gone. Part of me, a very small part of me, is freaking out because this is the worst time for me to not have a reliable source of income, but the rest of me is relieved. Although I didn’t expect for it to happen this way, this is what I wanted.

The universe put me at a stopping point. From here, I move on. I focus on making all the things I daydream about a reality. It’s only been a few days since I’ve officially been “client-free”, but it feels amazing to be the only thing I have to worry about. They say “thoughts become things”, and this is proof. The real fun begins now as I figure out my next move. I really just want to escape to an island: run barefoot in the sand, grow my own fruits and vegetables, work in a local bar or coffee shop and maybe, just maybe, figure it all out.

But before I make my great escape, I’d like to hear from my fellow dream chasers. What words of advice or stories do you have to share? Comment below or tweet ya girl @TheAceAlexa!

acesiggy