Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: Year In Abridged Review

January: Brought the new year in with the fam* at dinner, a Kevin Hart Show, a house party and the club (My big brother* is a Type A event planner, LOL!). Got promoted at the gig. YAY GOD and YAY ME!!! Went to D.C. for work. Went to OKC to visit Dorian.

February: Paid off credit card 4 of 6

March: Learned how to ski in Lake Tahoe


April: Lost 10 lbs: You see it! My birthday celebration in Jamaica**

May: Tiff's wedding in Jamaica**, NYC for work, Dorian's baby shower in OKC (I missed Paris' epic bday wknd. Someone remind me to block my calendar on her bday in 2012.)

June: New York for work/play. Tallahassee to see my baby brother. Lisa's bridal shower. Donavan arrived. I love his little life!


July: Had the best.weekend.ever when @antithesis came to visit for the 4th of July. Mother-daughter Vegas trip my my mom's bff and her daughter.


August: Did day-of coordinating for my 3rd wedding!!!



September: Lisa's Wedding!!!! NOLA for the Bears game. Jenn's baby shower.


October: Paid off credit card 5 of 6. Went to Milwaukee for the NBPRS Conference. Tiff's baby shower.



November: Went to L.A. for work. Jaiden arrived!!! Celebrated 7 years with the gig. The gig moved offices. Ms. J's retirement party over Thanksgiving break.



December: I was in town all month [I think]. Nita's Bday and a madame proposition, AJ's housewarming, Celeste's MBA Graduation party, Su's housewarming, Khary's ugly sweater party, Kisha's bday brunch, good old-fashioned family time on Christmas, Mike's wedding (Yes, Big Mike).

*no blood relation.
** same event.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Life is Hilarious

So I had a windfall of money in my federal spending account. This year they were proactive and sent a note saying, you will use this money if you don't use this money. So I click on the list of things that I can buy.

It's basically a bunch of BS, if you're not sick, but then I found out you can buy condoms with it. First of all, I never knew this before, but secondly, my bad planning equals an HIV/AIDS organization's blessing.

So I go to Wal-mart.com to buy, oh, I don't know 1000 condoms. Clearly the card didn't go through. So I have to call up the FSA folks and say "Hey, I was trying to buy an item that's FSA approved, but my card will not go through." I was praying she didn't ask me what it was. As much of an adult and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention advocate as I am, it's still weird to be like "yeah... let me get hundreds of condoms. 'Preciate ya."

Anywho, she told me there's a store that let's you get these item without submitting receipts. Tweeps, I present to you www.fsastore.com. Get all the condoms you want (and cough medicine and whatever the hell else you need). Free shipping on orders over $50. Why didn't they send this info to me in the mail? Goofs.

Also, can we discuss how many people popped by my office while I was trying to buy condoms. You would have thought I was on Monster.com. And then I had to decide where to ship them. I know it'll be discretely packaged, but how do I explain taking home a box (or hell boxes) of condoms. You know coworkers are nosy. They're going to think I'm running a brothel.

And remind me not to leave my e-mail open next to any new boos.
Living Social - Normal.
Groupon - Normal.
Corner Bakery - Normal.
University of Illinois Alumni Association - Smart and Normal.
Sprinkles Cupcakes - Sweet and normal.
A shipment for... hundreds of condoms - all hell naw, let me leave this chic alone.

Anywho, has your charity ever been this funny? Please tell me it's not just me.

P.S. If you need some condoms... I GOT you.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Varying Workouts

New reader [I think] Carly asked what I meant by varying workouts. And since I don't have anything else to talk about, I'm going to use a whole blog post to answer her question.

Hey Carly! Thanks for reading. The long answer is...

I don't have a gym membership right now, so I basically find workouts to do online and sometimes work out at the gym in my office building. Since it's not the same class every day, my workouts vary. I've been unnecessarily hungry... like famished all thee time.

My friends on Twitter told me that it's because I'm exercising more, which is true. Then my bff noted that all of the magazines say that when you vary your exercise routine, you burn more calories, which is also true.

For example ShapeFit.com says this:

Vary your exercise routine. When you use the same muscle groups repeatedly doing the same exercise, the body adjusts and burns fewer calories. So, surprise the body and engage in different activities and utilize different muscle groups. Your body will reward you with a better metabolic rate.

I hope this explains it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Crushin'

Crushes are awesomely wonderful and horribly terrible depending on what stage of the crush it is.

Awesomely wonderful
- Him sending good morning texts and me actually liking it
- Me trying to figure out what to wear on our first date
- All of the possibilities

Horribly Terrible
- Wondering if my flirting is working
- Taking 45 minutes to respond to a simple text message because I don't know him that well and I don't want to say the wrong thing
- The goofass conversation I have with myself about if I should keep talking, or let him talk or smile or flirt

Having a crush turns me into a teenager. *giggle* So, yeah, I'm crushin' right now [read: when I wrote this]. I'll let y'all know how it turns out [read: one day in the future when you cannot connect any dots].

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hungry Hippo

Working out every day and varying has boosted my metabolism so much. I don't think I'm losing weight, but I'm hungrier than that thang because my body needs fuel for all of the damage I'm doing to it. Here's a list of what I have a taste for right now... in no particular order

- Stuffed mushrooms
- Egg nog
- Catfish nuggets
- Harold's
- My auntie Penny's mostaccioli
- A potbelly cookie

Who has cravings like this? A mess.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Community Service/Involvement

So Antithesis asked me to blog about where to volunteer/how to get more involved with the community, etc.

Here are some of my favorite ways to volunteer:
  • Chicago Cares (I'm pretty sure there's a DC Cares as well). You can sign up for one-time projects. This is perfect for people like me who travel and can't commit to doing something every week.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America - I suggest you walk into a club though vs. e-mailing. They are SO slow on e-mail. Find your local B&GC here.
  • Church - A lot of churches do community outreach, but they don't always publicize it. Call your church's office and ask how you can volunteer with them or for them.
  • Soup Kitchens - If you see a lot of homeless people standing around a church or community center around 4 or 5 p.m., it's likely that the place has a soup kitchen (and it's really not a soup kitchen. I've never once served soup at these things. I digress). Write the number down, call and ask how you can help. One of my faves in Chicago is the Ravenswood Pantry.
  • Women's Shelters - It's SO easy to volunteer for women's shelters. They ALWAYS need cosmetic products and clothes - something I know the ladies love to shop for. So the next time you go shopping, get one for you and one for a women's shelter (or one for you and a travel size for the women's shelter) and drop it off. My favorite women's shelter in Chicago to volunteer/donate is Deborah's Place.
  • Walks and Runs - Pick your cause (AIDS/HIV, Breast Cancer, Multiple Schlerosis), find out when their annual walk or run is and sign up to volunteer. You'll be doing things like signing people in, giving runners drinks and encouraging runners. It's a great way to get involved. My favorite Walk is the AIDS Walk/Run in Chicago.
  • Pick a Fave - Finally, pick a nonprofit organization who's mission you align with, call their office and ask how you can help. They'll have you do everything from cooking, cleaning and filing paperwork to planning, staffing and publicizing their events.
There are SO many ways to get involved and it's so easy. Let me know how you decide to volunteer in 2012. Actually, don't wait until 2012. Do it now!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Hoe Stroll: aka Pappadeaux

You see the title, so I'll get right to it. We're at Pappadeaux, my sister's birthday dinner is coming to a close, we're waiting for the cake to come out. There are 15 black women there. I'm the youngest one and we range in age from my age to 55. It's all women, but clearly a wholesome, family affair.

A woman comes to our section looking for Kim. We say, there's no Kim here. She turns around like she's going to leave our section, but then comes right back. Here's what she said to us:

"There are men over there and they have money." Except she didn't say "money", she rubbed her fingers together to indicate that they're loaded. "Now, I need two other girls to go with me. I'm not going to do anything I don't want to do."

She had a bad weave that was somewhere between Rihanna red and my little pony pink. If I decided to let my morals go and hire a madam, please believe she wouldn't look like that.

I digress.

So the shock of what's going on has left almost everyone paralyzed. I turn and say, we're all married, hoping this would get her to go away. It did not.

She moved very slowly like she was trying to re-think her pitch (clearly she was on something stronger than weed or vodka) and then she zeroed in on one of my sister's friends. To be clear, this is one of my sister's older sister-in-law's friends. This lady is GROWN. She's been married for 21 years and has grown children. She's probably a grandmother. I can't remember her name, we'll call her Jackie. So the madam steps to Jackie and starts rollin' her neck and says "un uh, don't look at me like that just because I'm single."

Friends, let me tell you I saw my life flash before my eyes. I was thinking there are 15 of us and 1 of you and YOU approached US with a hostile attitude. This could go HORRIBLY, TERRIBLY... TRAGICALLY wrong. So I try to tell Jackie not to engage, but Jackie, mild-mannered as she is was not hearing anything I'm talking about with this bootlegged madam going off on her.

So our waiter, tall white guy named Patrick comes over and I'm like "Patrick, she is not with us, please ask her to leave RIGHT AWAY."

Patrick takes one look at the madam, turns on his heel and says "I'll get the manager". He was gone so fast, VERYFAST. I'm thinking: Patrick NO!!! A serious ass-whoopin' is about to commence. You need to remove this woman before she gets herself hurt. Patrick's manager must've been busy because Patrick came back and with a very firm voice said "Ma'am! Ma'am? My manager needs to see you RIGHT NOW." So she takes her high/drunk/delusional self out of our section and we clap it up for Patrick and say a prayer of thanks. I did NOT want the night to end on a sour note.

Best part: As the madam's leaving Patrick looks at her and says "enjoy your meal". iDied.

As the situation ends and the night closes (and the madam is still posted up at the bar), it occurs to me that maybe Pappadeaux in Westmont, IL may be a front for a brothel. It's could be the place to get your suburban swerve on. I do NOT approve.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It costs what?

Next spring I'm headed out of the country for vacation and it dawned on me that my passport is expiring in 2012. I have a couple of days off, so I was thinking let me be on top of things and run and get that handled this year and I'll have it back in 4-6 (sometimes 8) weeks. Man... it costs $110 for the renewal and $25 to process.

With Christmas, New Year's Eve and just general kickin' on deck, I don't have an extra $135 in December. I don't know what I was thinking. It'll be a last-minute passport, per usual.

Has the price off something caught you off guard recently? I know it's not just me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weddings, Saving and all that other jazz

So I was discussing wedding costs with this guy I was dating (we'll call him the boo that got away) and he was saying how he has a maximum cost for a wedding ring no matter how much money he makes. I swear I didn't bring the subject up. He's long gone... maybe... hopefully not. I digress.

He left me with an interesting way of thinking about money though. I could subscribe to the school of thought "It's mine, I spend it." OR I could determine how much I have to spend for a particular item and do everything in my power to only spend that much.

I thought about this because for the past couple of years for Christmas I've really cut back, but no one has noticed. Because I still give thoughtful gifts and I'm still giving gifts period. Some folks have just given up on gifts all together and bring fruitcake. LOL! But I struggle to be in the mindset that even if I do have it, I shouldn't be spending it.

Between ex-boo and the thrill of watching Extreme Couponing, I feel like I should be spending less money and still getting the same stuff.

This post is random as ever, but some ways I thought about being frugal are shopping at discount grocery stores, thrifting, borrowing costly items (like ski gear), donating things instead of throwing them away for that good tax deduction, doing all the free surveys to get free gift cards, donuts, opportunities to win cash, etc.

Is frugality a habit for you or are you only frugal when you have to be?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas & Charity

Ok, remember this post from last year? Buying Christmas gifts was stressing me out. One of my Jewish friends told me to convert because Hannukah isn't that big of a deal and she doesn't spend a lot of money on gifts. LOL!

Anywho, I bought inexpensive, but IMO, still great gifts last year. So this year, the same issue came up. And this year it's not the case of having the money or not, it's more or less do I really want to spend my money on gifts that people may or may not use. Do I really want to set my goals back by ballin' out on Christmas and the answer is no.

So I decided that all of my gifts this year would be charitable, so not only will I be frugal, but I'll be giving to great causes. Fortunately, this idea of "giving back" while giving is not original. So I checked out a post the Fab Giver did about it a couple of years ago. I pored through those sites and found things I liked and that my gift recipients would like and was feeling pretty good about myself until I realized charity ain't cheap. Man, between the marked up prices and the shipping and handling, of the eight gifts I bought, I could only afford for one to be about charity.

BUT one is better than none (and I'm pretty charitable thoughout the year if I do say so myself), so I still feel pretty good about it.

How's your Christmas shopping going? Have you started? Are you a Scrooge this year? Are you only shopping online? Any fascinating Black Friday stories? Check in. My comment section is lonely. :P

Friday, December 9, 2011

Restaurant: Impossible

There's a new show [or at least I think it's new, who would know] called Restaurant: Impossible. It's basically like Tabitha's Salon Takeover, except with a british man who takes over restaurants that are failing. I friggin' love this show.

I'm currently [read: when I wrote this post I was] watching a marathon. AND they madeover a soup kitchen in Newark, NJ and Mayor Cory Booker stopped by. I LOVE Mayor Cory Booker and everything he stands for.

Anywho, here's a clip.


Have you all seen this show? What do you think?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Do It Now

So I told you all about #30for30

I'm thinking about doing a water fast as well. I know everyone will be on their on their New Year's resolution kick soon, but eff that, do it now.

The fab giver mentioned something about finishing strong and I love that! No matter what roadblocks 2011 has put in your way, instead of wanting to do away with the year, renew your commitment to __________ and do it now.

For me it's fitness and healthy eating. I'm 13 days into my 30 for 30, I'm eating more fresh fruits and veggies and drinking more water. I don't need to wait for 2012 to be great. I can be great RIGHT NOW.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Workout at home

Ok, so after not stepping foot in a gym in August or September, then a bout with bikram yoga in October (#HATEDIT), and a vow to start working out again in November, I FINALLY started 30 for 30 on November 28th. 30 minutes of exercise for 30 straight days.

I still haven't joined a gym, but there are other ways to work out. Monday-Friday I work out the gym in my new office building. On the weekends I do workout DVDs and online workouts. Here are my faves:

Jeanette Jenkins - Cardio Dance DVD
10 Minute Solutions - Pilates DVD
www.yogisanonymous.com
www.liveexercise.com
www.flirtygirlfitnesslive.com
www.exercise.tv

What are your favorite at-home workouts? Online workout sites?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

#ThingsFriendsDo

Some of these are heavy. Some are light. All true.

10. Take naps for you when they're off and you have to go to work.
9. Go clean off or in on your behalf when you're too weary to do it yourself.
8. Throw dinner parties for you to meet eligible bachelors and invite random people so it won't just be a blind date with you and ol' boy.
7. Bring cookies to your office to brighten your day.
6. Say "I'm sorry that happened to you" even though they have nothing to be sorry about
5. Pray for you like they're praying for themselves and AGREE with you in Jesus' name that it will be done.
4. REFER ME TO FRIENDS THAT ARE GETTING MARRIED, so my side hustle can grow AND so I can help make their day fantabulous!!!
3. Tell you when Sprinkles just announced "50 free cupcakes"
2. Drive you home without sighing or complaining when they live on the other side of town
1. Plan fabulous birthday trips/destination weddings so you don't have to plan your own vacation (LOL!)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Keepin' It Simple

Convenience runs my life. If it's not convenient, I likely won't do it. There are some fabulous companies that feed my lifestyle. I've mentioned my love for each over the course of blogging, but I'm going to put them all in the same spot.

The CTA - That's right. The oft-loathed organization simplifies my life. Between www.goroo.com and 836-7000 I can get anywhere I need to be in the city and the close suburbs.

Zipcar - I probably need to assess if I'm wasting money on Zipcar (something like $100 a day or $10 an hour for a car). I still think I'm saving money on insurance, stickers, parking tickets, speeding tickets and all the other stuff I'd have to pay for if I had a car full time.

Avis -I'm Avis Preferred, so whether I'm traveling for business or pleasure my car is ready to go when I get there. They also have the best sales, deals and free car days. They love me. I love them back.

Peapod - I friggin' love this company. They're not a discount grocer, so I'm rarely going to "save" money even with coupons and sales with them, but hey, Trader Joe's ain't droppin' my groceries IN my kitchen. I can't complain.

Netflix - Oh people hate them and they made some marketing mistakes, but I still get excited about movies in the mail. They also know me so well based on my preferences. If they say I'm going to love a movie, I do. If they say I'm going to hate a movie, I will. I'm still #TeamNetflix (as long as my prices don't go up).

I'm trying a cleaning service this month. Hopefully, they'll be amazing and I can add them to this list. Yes, I'm getting a studio deep cleaned. #JudgeMe

What companies make your life easier? What services could you not live without?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Talk is Cheap...

Well, I should say... I always talk about being cheap. LOL! Not really, but I was talking to a friend/co-worker who's like a little sister to me. She's never been to our holiday party and was asking about attire. She goes are you buying something. And I reply "I'd like to... *looks to the sky*... actually, nope, I'm not buying anything. It's not in my budget."

So she sort of chuckles and was like I've heard about your budget a few times. I was thinking "oh no. Am I THAT girl. Am I always talking about my budget, how stuff costs too much, how iaintgonebeabletodoit."

She then went on to say she learned a lot from me talking about my budget (how many promotions and raises have I gotten and I still choose to live in a studio? Like a gazillion).

Anywho, I know I talk about money and budgeting a lot on the blog, but I guess it finds itself in my day-to-day conversation as well.

If you know me in real life, have I hit you with the "nah, that's not in my budget"? Is that my signature?

Also, I love that the recession makes it OK for me talk about a budget. If I was grown in the 80s, my "budget" would be a #realissue

Thursday, December 1, 2011

World AIDS Day 2011

Each World AIDS day I try to think about what I can say that's stronger than what I said last year. Is it a statistic and ode to my nieces or just a link to what one of my fave orgs is doing. What can I say to get people reading my blog to STOP what they're doing and go get tested for HIV. What can I say to get people reading my blog to START using condoms (birth control pills do not protect against HIV)...

I guess, I have to do what's most natural to me. Just real talk. So let's talk about AIDS & HIV real quick. I read two interesting takes on prevention in the December issue of Essence.

1. Vaginal gel spiked with HIV medication tenofovir lowered women's chances of contracting HIV by 51% (from a South African study) (Tea's comments: This is empowering for women who may be harmed for asking their partners to use a condom. I wouldn't use this as an alternative to condoms.)

2. Giving HIV-negative patients medication to prevent from contracting the disease from their HIV-positive partner. It decreased chances by 63%. (Tea's comments: This is amazing to me. So many people are married to or in love with people with AIDS/HIV and sex doesn't come to a stop because someone has a disease that could potentially end your life. If you're HIV-positive and having sex, I think this is a great option for your HIV-negative partner)

So, Tea & Such readers, what do you think about these radical advances in the fight against AIDS and HIV?