Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ah, To Be Settled

How long would you say it takes to be settled into a new place? I would say, not long, but that's anything but true for me. I've been in Pittsburgh almost 90 days and every day I realize that I need something and I don't know where to go to get it.

Here are some of my faves that I'm missing from home right now. So you already know I miss the CTA and Dunkin' Donuts. Here are more of my faves that I'm missing right now.

10. CD One Price Cleaners - Everything $2.59... hello, yes!
9. Lakeview Salon - Had my eyebrows looking right! I asked my coworkers and my new Pastor's wife where to get my brows done, they told me to wait until I go back to Chicago. People who have lived here for YEARS don't even trust the threading in this city. I'm going to find a place and report back. 
8. Shoe cobbler on Diversey and Belmont (two doors down from the Laugh Factory) - I don't know what the name of this place is, but I know it never cost most than $7 per pair to do anything to my shoes. I know my heels were taken care of like precious newborns. I know that.
7. Pink Polish and Pure Rain Nail Salons - I know exactly where to park. I know that when I get a winter pedicure they will wrap my feet like pigs in a blanket to prevent smudging.
6. FINE CUPCAKE ESTABLISHMENTS - Man, this city is serious lacking in the gourmet cupcake scene. For all the services about I just realized that I don't know where to go, but I feel confident that I can find somewhere in the city or suburbs. When it comes to cupcakes, everything I've tried pales in comparison to Molly's (my favorite Chicago cupcake spot) and Sprinkles (my second fave)
5. Peapod - LAWD, I don't know why anyone would ever want to go grocery shopping EVER. It's so overwhelming and time consuming and expensive and ridulous and I just want people to bring my groceries to me for a nominal fee. Is that too much to ask?
4. My [African-American female] dentist
3. My [woman of color female] optometrist
2. My [African-American female] primary care physician
1. People of color - More on this tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pep Talk

I was upset about something, sitting in my house, logged onto Facebook and BOOM: this little kid blessed my life.

Listen to the youngin (and watch the whole thing, it's good at the end) and share

Monday, January 28, 2013

Let's Talk About Age

I skipped third grade. This means when everyone else in 4th grade was 9, I was 8. And when everyone in Driver's Ed was 16, I was 15. And when everyone who started college was 18, I was 17. And when everyone could drink legally, I was 20. And when everyone was doing it big for 25, I was 24.

And while everyone was celebrating their dirty and flirty thirties, I was  AM STILL 29!!! (YES!!!) This being too young thing is finally starting to work in my favor.

I digress.

On top of skipping a grade, I also happen to be extremely driven and my blessings are disproportionate to my talent. God has smiled on me in a major way. So add favor and drive to already being a year ahead of everyone who is my same age and I've moved up exponentially in my.. everything, but especially my career. This means I am usually younger than the people who carry the same title as me. In some cases, I manage people who are younger than me. And while I'd like to say "that's life," I've seen ridiculous attitude changes when people find out their "boss" is younger than them.

Skipping a grade showed me the importance that people may put on age in a negative way. In grammar school, everyone called me a "baby" because I was one year (or in some cases 6 months) younger than them. Due to these negative sentiment surrounding my age (or lack thereof), I have ALWAYS kept my age a secret.

When I left my last job, my coworkers demanded to know how old I was and I finally shared. People thought I was 5-10 years older. Not because I look old, but because of my experience, background and how I carry myself.

I actually am not dying my gray hairs while I'm in Pittsburgh (disgusting, I know) because I want people to think I'm older than I am so they'll respect my counsel.

Now, I'm probably not going to wear a 30 on my chest on my birthday at work, but the reason I'm more comfortable FINALLY sharing my age here (go through my 1200 blog posts and you'll never see me share my age) is that I remembered - or perhaps even realized - that God did not give me favor so I could act like I was special. He gave me favor to get the glory. How is he going to get any glory for my accomplishments if I don't tell people what he's done?

So yes, I'm in a remarkable place in God, in my finances, in my career, in my relationships, in my journey. I'm 29 and in exactly 3 months I will be 30.

Glory be to God.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 Fitness Goals

I set my 2013 goals and one of them is to get to my flat belly weight by my birthday (April 28th, tell a neighbor, tell a friend). I'm going to be 30 this year and I can't just succomb to stomach fat. Nope, can't do it. (I'll write a post shortly about why I've been so mum on my age to date.)

However, as I've turned this sharp corner towards 30, I've realized that I want to eat healthier and do better on a regular basic vs. just ramping up for my birthday or a vacation or anything like that.

When I was getting my money together, I told my financial planner that I should probably stop taking trips until my credit cards were paid off. He completely disagreed. He said since vacations and trips are important to me, I need to instead, budget for them and keep steadily chipping away at my credit card debt and contributing regularly to my savings WHILE still taking trips.

I'm going to apply this same approach to my eating habits. At first blush, I would think to cut out all of my cupcakes and baked good indulgences, but I LOVE those things. So instead of denying myself I'm trying to think of ways to do cuts back.

Here's what I AM doing so far:

  • Trading in red meat for turkey wherever possible (turkey sausage for breakfast, ground turkey in my spaghetti). I'll still eat bacon and steak at restaurants, but less of it at home should help.
  • Cutting out the microwave lunches - To keep costs down, I always buy pre-packaged lunches. Someone who cares about me pointed out that the sodium in those things are sky high and sodium retains water, thereby making you keep weight on. I started checking the label and they are truly heart attacks in a box. I can't believe they're legal to tell you the truth. 
  • Working out 3X a week, EVERY WEEK. I know diet is attached to losing weight more than exercise, but this is keeping my heart healthy and hopefully helping me to maintain.
  • Renewing my subscriptions - I got a subscription to Self Magazine. What you put into your mind is what you'll get out of it. So I have to put healthy thoughts and information in to keep it top of mind. 
Here's what I would like to do, but am not quite there yet:
  • Cut out bread OUTSIDE of my home. I eat bread on sandwiches and with nice meals at restaurants. Unless it's whole grain bread, it's truly empty calories. And bread doesn't break down the way veggies and protein do. It just sits on my stomach giving me a food baby. #NoBueno
  • Cut down my dessert intake. If it were up to me, I'd eat dessert with every meal. I've been a bit handicapped in Pittsburgh because there are no good cupcake places within walking distance of my home or job. HOWEVER, I eat cookies and brownies and other things at my leisure during the work day. That same someone who cares about me challenged me to eat ONE dessert a week vs. 3-5 (or more) like I do now. I am not committing to that, but it is a goal I'm going to work towards. If desserts are like vacation, I remember an extremely irresponsible year when I took a weekend vacation once a month. In comparison, last year, I only went on one vacation (I took a couple of trips, but no real vacays). I didn't feel like last year lacked anything. So even though, I'm obsessed with desserts now, I know once I make the change, it'll feel more normal and not torturous.
With these small changes, I've lost about a lb a week since the beginning of the year. If I can keep up this momentum, I'll be right where I need to be at the end of March and April (and the rest of the year) will be about maintaining.

Are you making any small fitness changes this year?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

#CoverCHI

Two friends of mine, Geo & Messiah Equiano, are starting a movement to cover 213 homeless people in Chicago with blankets and socks. You all know I love this grassroots volunteer efforts because I believe a small changes can make a big difference.

I'm also blessed to know both of these guys personally and want to help in any way I can.

Google "#CoverChi" to see pics of the movement.

Three ways to help:

1. Donate at Taylor Park: 39 W. 47th St Mondays and Tuesdays from 6:30 - 9 p.m.
2. Arrange a pick-up by emailing Geo at George@ourdollarscount.com
3. Make a financial donation to the cause through PayPal to George@ourdollarscount.com

Make sure to use the hashtag #CoverCHI on Twitter and Instagram to keep the movement going.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Art Galleries

I need to get some art for my house. I have a 14 ft ceiling in my living room, so I'm looking for a statement piece to go above my couch.

I guess I need to start looking for the piece. Here are the top 10 art galleries I've been able to find online in Pittsburgh. I'll share some pics if they allow that kind of thing.

10. 3G Gallery - 1001 Liberty Ave., M-F 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed on weekends
9. 707/709 Penn Gallery - Wed.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
8. B-E Galleries 3583 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201 412.687.2606 Tuesday - Friday 11 - 6 / Saturday 11 - 5 
7. Box Heart Galleries -  4523 Liberty Avenue, Tuesdays: 11am - 6pm, Wednesdays - Saturdays: 10am - 6pm, Sundays: 1 - 5pm
6. Christine Frechard Gallery Tuesday - Saturday: 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM 5871 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15217
5. Concept Art Gallery - 1031 South Braddock Avenue, Tues – Sat: 10 AM – 5:30 PM
Thursday: 10 AM – 8PM, Sunday: 12 PM – 4 PM (closed Sundays from Memorial Day until Labor Day), Telephone: 412-242-9200

Black Owned
3. Douglas Arts Gallery - 491-3 McKinley St., Rochester, PA 15074-1663 - By Appt Only
2. Abyssinia Gallery - 5515 Penn Avenue (Ethiopian Arts and Crafts)
1. ARTica - 5110 Penn Ave. 412-596-6521

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hair Regimen

Ok, I've gotten some suggestions for how to extend my two strand twist-outs to five days. If I extend to seven, it'll be like a small miracle and the last two days I will probably look a mess, but desprerate times call for desperate measures.

Sidenote: when I have to dry twist my hair I hear Ishea's voice in my head going "What's 20 extra minutes when it comes to your hair looking cute." It's more like 45 to twist and roll my hair, but I feel the sentiment.

Day 1 - Two strand twists, pinned up in the back. (I look like a ballet dancer with this style. It's not the worse thing ever.)

Day 2 - Two-strand twists, rod set and half pulled apart

Day 3 - Full two-strand twistout (if it were up to me this is how I would wear my hair every day and it would look Day 1 fresh)

Day 4 - 2nd day full two-strand twistout. On the evening of day 3, I can pull my hair up so that the ends are at the top of the bonnet. This protects the style better than if the ends are at the bottom of the bonnet. (I hope this makes sense)

Day 5 - Full two-strand twistout. On the evening of day 4, I will have to dry twist and rod set

Days 6 & 7- On rough weeks I will pull my hair back into a headband on days 6 and 7. Otherwise I will wash and re-twist my hair on the evening of Day 5.

If I remember, I'll put up a pic stitch so you all can see what these styles look like.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

BB Cream

I was getting a pedicure at Pink Polish (my fave) on the north side (of Chicago) and I asked the nail tech to grab me a magazine. He tossed me a copy of Allure and in it they had the lowdown on bb cream.

It's supposed to be an 8-in-1 beauty cream that
  1. Blurs imperfections (it does this. I don't know if "blur" means hide for now or correct long term, but they are definitely less visible) 
  2. Brightens (maybe it does this over time) 
  3. Evens skin tone (it does this) 
  4. Smoothes (it does this well) 
  5. Hydrates (it does this) 
  6. Enhances (As a marketer, I can tell you they are trippin' with this one. Don't all those other things "enhance" your skin as well.)
  7. Protects with SPF 30 (it does this)
  8. 0% oils and heavy ingredients (this is a product feature and not an action. How this made it past the powers that be at Maybelline is a mystery to me. Don't they have copywriters? I digress. 
(from Wikipedia) It can be worn alone as a tinted moisturizer, over serum and moisturizer as a regular foundation, and under powder, depending on the desired amount of coverage.

They only come in 3-5 shades, depending on the brand and are supposed to blend with your skin.

I tried Maybelline because I like to use drugstore products and not department store products. I don't want to fall on hard times and have to change my beauty routine. Plus some stuff is just marked up for NO reason. $100 lotion? I'm straight.

I must say, I love it. It doesn't act as a concealer as much as I'd like, but it is a great alternative to wearing heavy foundation (or no make-up at all) daily. The even look it gave my skin was awesome. I'd like to believe that it's fixing my problems while I wear it, but even if it's only beauty and not medical, that works for me. 

I've been looking for a tinted moisturizer that didn't make me look pasty and this is the one.

I have the deep sheer tint. I could have gone one shade light. Looking online that looks like the darkest one, but I recall getting the second darkest one and there were four. Online there are five. Go check it out in the store yourself. If you buy it online, it may be the great sendoff.

Have you tried bb cream? Any other hot beauty trends you want to share?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Men in church

Doug Banks is always talking about the hot (and funny) topics on his radio show. And one of the topics was why men don't go to church. For the purpose of today's blog, I'm specifically referring to men who identify as Christian.

One of the comments that really stuck with me is that church is all about playing on emotions and men don't want to look outside of themselves for help or have to rely on their emotions. They want to problem solve.

This made a lot of sense to me because... well, I'm a crier. So when things get stirred up at church I cry. I cry almost every Sunday. Happy tears or sad teams, but mostly being overwhelmed with the love of God. As a woman, I am not embarrassed to say this.

BUT

I am uncomfortable when male preachers cry. Though they are overwhelmed by the same blessings of the same God, I expect them to praise and worship differently. I almost feel like preacher cry on queue to elicit reactions from the congregation. (I don't believe that that's what they're doing, but that's how I FEEL when it happens, it that makes sense).

So my question (to no one because I don't know if any Christian males read my blog) is for the men who DO go to church. What about church makes you keep coming? And how do you get over the overly emotional preachers? Or how do you worship as a male with a service that seems to be geared towards women?

I'm genuinely curious. Let's be respectful in the comments as well. I don't want anyone to feel judged or attacked for how they choose to praise God.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Prime Suspects

I mentioned last week that 2012 was a good year for me. When people were saying things like "good riddance 2012," and "I'm happy to see this year go," I couldn't relate. I also shared how I'm still thankful for new beginnings (even if my year didn't need any upgrades). And finally you all know I'm a bit superstitious.

All of that to say, 2007 and 2011 were tough years for me. Not bad years because I appreciate the lessons and I appreciate all the learning and growing you do when things are hard vs. when they're easier, but TOUGH! I wouldn't wish years like that on anyone.

Well, 7 and 11 are both prime numbers. Next up is 2013. After such a phenomenal year in 2012, I can't help but to be concerned that 2013 is going to be a test. I don't want to be a worry wart, but I want to make sure I'm prayed up for whatever's coming.

When I'm in service and the lesson has nothing to do with me, I think ok this WILL be my lesson and/or testimony and so let me remember the teachings so I can get through it, when it comes to me.

I guess I'm saying I'm putting on the whole armor of God. I'm not waiting for the shoe to drop or anything, but if it does, it won't catch me off guard.

I'm going to be on watch in 2017 too. Am I nuts?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Is that you, God?

I hear God in everything. Especially when I'm by myself and since I live in a new city without established friendships, I'm by myself a lot.

When I turn on urban radio, I swear every song is a message from God. For example:

I ain't go no worries - lil Wayne
Phillipians 4:6 Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in everything through by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Clique - Jay-Z & Kanye
Matthew 28:19 ...baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. (Now who's clique is fresher than that?)

All Gold Everything - Trinidad James
Revelations 21:21 ...and the street of the city was pure gold.

Excerpt from All Gold Everything - "Don't believe me, just watch."
1 Corinthians 2:9 Eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

I'm Different - Two Chainz
Romans 12:2 Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. (How different is that?)

I couldn't really find a revelation R. Kelly talmbout he's about to dive in it, but God is not threw with me yet.

I'm goofy. I know. The Lord might have also been trying to tell me to change the station.



Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Gift of New Beginnings

I am so grateful for new beginnings! 2012 was a phenomenal year for me, but I've been talking with some friends and they really went through it in 2012. Then it occurred to me how much a blessing a new year is.

God set the world up in a way that every minute is new, every hour is new, every day is new, every week is new, every month is new and once every 365 days we get a new year. This is so exciting to me because while I'll can't change any past mistakes or failures or problems, I can make a decision to do the right thing at every new opportunity.

If I skip working out today, tomorrow is a brand new day. I don't have to have a week of fatness because I made a misstep one day.

Of course, it's the beginning of the year and I'm extremely reflective, so maybe I've thought about this before, but I can't recall.

Imagine if life was one big long day. And the seconds or minutes or hours didn't refresh or start anew. What if we didn't get to sleep or have weekends. I know I'm being weird right now, but if I take a moment to be grateful I want to add new beginnings - big and small - to my gratitude list. It's pretty cool if you think about it.

What are you grateful for in 2013?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Superstitions.

So right before the new year my honey tells me that he's doing his laundry because you're not supposed to take dirty laundry with you from one year to the next. It signifies new, fresh beginnings. I asked Facebook what superstitions, proverbs and old wives tales people know.

10. How you start your year is how you will end it (I may have made this up). This is why I always seek God first on New Year's Eve at somebody's church service and then surround myself with people I love having a good time. I believe that means my year will be filled with God and love.
9.  Do your laundry BEFORE the new year.
8. DON'T do laundry ON new year's day. You will wash someone out of the family
7. Keep some money in your pocket for the new year countdown and you will never be broke.
6. Don't let a woman be the first to walk through your down on January 1. It's bad luck. (This is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. I live by myself. I am the first and last to leave every day.)

I digress.

5. The color of the underwear you wear on NYE are important. The person who wrote this one said she thinks red and yellow undies signify good luck.
4. Avoid unlucky foods (whatever those are)
3. Eat lucky foods including, but not limited to: black eyed peas, greens, green veggies, 12 grapes, sweet round things, fish and pork.

Do you know of any New Year or New Year's Eve superstitions that I missed?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Kicking off the new year!

I am wishing you a safe, happy, physically healthy, financially prosperous, mentally sane, emotionally stable, wonderful, amazing, learning, growing, phenomenal and fabulous 2013. Yes, I want alladat for you!

Let me share a couple of scriptures with you that help to guide my life and hopefully will continue to bless my 2013.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Matthew 6:33
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Psalms 37:4
Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Hebrews 13:5
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Did I just preach a word there or what? Somebody ought to worship!!! Please share your encouraging words scriptures in the comments.