D.C. in Bloom! Top 6 Things to do in D.C. This Spring

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It’s Springtime in the DMV! This is only my third Spring in the Baltimore - D.C. area. Springtime is always pleasant in the Northeast because it’s not too hot and not too cold. The mild temps allow us gardening enthusiasts to get the most out of our plants since extreme temperatures in either direction can inhibit plant growth.

Since I have a slightly green thumb, and love to travel, I thought I’d share some of my favorite things to do in the D.C. area this Spring.

 

Have a Cocktail at the Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Pub

This year marks the Drink Company’s third annual Cherry Blossom Pop-Up bar. The pub consists of three main bar rooms. After passing the first bar, the two remaining bar rooms are covered in over-the-top floral decor. The fourth room is a ramen room where I had the best creamy miso pork ramen. So good! The cocktails were also light and delicious, embodying Japanese culture with flavorful sakes, and cocktail recipes with hints of honey.

This place was pretty cool. I made the mistake of going Saint Patrick’s Day weekend, so it was extremely crowded. When I went to eat in the ramen room, there was zero seating. Also, keep in mind that because it’s a pop-up bar and seems to be very popular on the weekends, there may be a wait to get into the pub. My friends and I waited on line for 20 minutes (totally worth it) but it was cold that weekend. Nonetheless, there is NO COVER charge to enter the bar. They also have the cutest little photo booth with - of course - more cherry blossom floral arrangements and decor.

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Take a Stroll Under Cheery Blossoms Along the Tidal Basin

If you’re in the DMV this Spring, you definitely have to take a walk along the Tidal Basin at the National Mall leading to the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial to view the cherry blossom trees. These hundreds of trees, donated to the U.S. by Japan, are dubbed as “floral fireworks,” displaying different arrays of pinks and whites across the Capital. To visit the local sights is free; however, there are guided tours that charge up to $100. For a map of the cherry blossom trees along the Potomac, click here. And if you want to enjoy the Cherry Blossom festivities, they are happening along the National Harbor until April 14th.

 

Explore Indoor Gardening at the U.S. Botanic Gardens

I love botanical gardens like the Howard Peters Rawlings Botanic Conservatory in Baltimore and the U.S. Botanic Gardens. Nothing like taking in a new season of growth and opportunity than visiting an indoor garden and checking out new exhibits. This Spring, U.S. Botanic Gardens is showcasing their annual and gorgeous orchid exhibit. This is the one flower I probably have the most difficulty in retaining as a thriving house plant. Sigh.

 

Go Shopping at D.C. City Center

Food and shopping. What other reasons do you need to go?

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Sip Vino at the Mount Vernon Wine Festival

Enjoy wine tasting of numerous Virginia wineries all in one place. The annual festival takes place at George Washington’s mansion in Mount Vernon. In addition to checking out the mansion and garden, there is also a slave memorial dedicated to Washington’s former slaves that lived on the plantation. The Spring 2019 Mount Vernon Wine and Sunset Tour has tickets available now!

 

Dine at La Vie

One of my new favorite D.C. restaurants, La Vie, serves Mediterranean cuisine at The Wharf. This place is so dreamy in decor, I’m not sure if I’m just obsessed with the interior decoration or the food.

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La Vie also turned their Lavana Penthouse rooftop bar into a Cherry Blossom Terrace at The Wharf. The pop up bar is open now through April 20th. Checking out this space is not free! You must register online and buy an entry ticket (approx. $15.00).

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Who’s coming to D.C. this Spring? Hopefully, you make it in time before the cherry blossoms are all gone!

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Get Out Meets Literature: We Cast a Shadow

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If you loved Jordan Peele’s Get Out, then you will love Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s We Cast a Shadow. We Cast a Shadow is post-racial literary fiction. The narrator never shares his name, but you later determine that Ruffin keeps the main character nameless because he truly believes the dejected perception that he is invisible due to his black skin.

The main character is married to “Penny,” a White female who believes in the goodness of the world but acknowledges the existence of inequality. Prior to marrying the main character, she prided herself on attending protests and educating herself on different social causes. She is “woke,” as some would say. After getting married, they have “Nigel,” a charismatic boy that loves both of his parents and has undeniable cooking skills at such a young age. But the protagonist believes that there is something genuinely wrong with his son, Nigel. Nigel has a large birthmark on his face, that spreads to other parts of his fair-skinned body. But it’s not just the birthmark that drives the main character. He believes that Nigel’s Blackness, although more fair skinned than the protagonist, is a detestation that must be removed.

Whenever Nigel leaves the house, the protagonist demands that Nigel cover his head with a baseball cap. According to the main character, the hat not only protects Nigel from UV rays, as the sun can darken people with melanin, but he also does not want strangers to see the dark birthmark on Nigel’s face. He forces Nigel to put a lightening cream on his birthmark every day, hoping that the lotion will eventually dissipate what he thinks is a disgusting deformity that will prevent Nigel from having a full life free from racism and discrimination.

There were so many real life issues that the author addressed — issues that Black parents and children face every day — but presented them with such an extreme imagination that only a literary author could do. For instance, the author addresses childhood bullying, a social phenom that Black children often face when they attend predominately White schools. Although Penny explained that they could send Nigel to a more diverse school, where no one would tease the boy for his brown birthmark, the main character insists that “appearances always matter,” and faultily believed that Nigel should not only be surrounded by as many White children as possible, but also free his body of all traces of melanin.

Then, the protagonist discovers a dermatologist with a new procedure that changes minority persons of color to white. No matter the cost, the main character maintains that Nigel must have the procedure done because removing any traces of his own Blackness within Nigel is protecting him from AmeriKKKa. The main character never acknowledges that the extraction of melanin within Nigel is somewhat a removal of himself within his son, thereby only acknowledging the physical traits of his Caucasian mother. He does’t realize the preposterous and absurdness of his goals for Nigel because he is self-absorbed by the hate he has for his own skin.

Throughout the novel, Ruffin also shares ideals of colorism — the prejudice towards others with dark skin tone within the same ethnic or racial group — where the main character illustrates a disdain towards other Black Americans within his community, characterizing them as inferior despite institutionalized racial discrimination and social misgivings. He demonstrates a long-held debate within the Black community — the refusal to identify as an African American (as opposed to a Black American) due to generations removed from the continent and only feeling conjoined the the Western World.

But would this really even be a complete novel without the obligatory debate within the interracial relationship between the protagonist and Penny regarding racism in America? When the main character defends rubbing the burning cream on his son and planning the “demelanization” procedure, Nigel emphasizes the importance of the imperative “talk” between Black parents and Black children on how to conduct themselves in at all times, particularly in the presence of law enforcement officers. Penny insists that the narrator is paranoid and his revulsion towards he and his son’s blackness is anomalistic. But the main character is unnerved and relentless. When Nigel eventually runs away, the protagonist subsequently has te “demelanization” procedure performed on himself instead and insists that his new identity as a White male has freed him from the horrors of being Black in America only to realize that as a White man he feels invisible once again.

It was then that I realized the distance between us. The talk that all black parents give their children was such an integral part of my upbringing. One night when I wanted to play after dark, Sir and Mama sat me down and basically said, The chances of something like that happening to you are virtually assured.

I thought this book was amazing. The first few chapters were slightly slow but quickly picked up. I couldn’t put the book down. I was so appalled and intrigued by the main character and the demons he attempted to project on his own flesh and blood. There were some parts in the book where Ruffin took real laws (e.g., “"Why the Supreme Court Will Not Be Hearing the Case About a Woman Denied a Job Because of Her Locs”) and presented the protagonist’s America as a dystopia for Black people, as if certain current laws and policies in real life couldn’t be any more systematically oppressive than they already are. I greatly enjoyed this novel and seeing how a creative writer could take real life issues and legal policies turn them into extreme nightmares.

If you’ve already read We Cast a Shadow, what did you think? What do you think of thought provoking satires? Feel free to leave your comments below.

 

You may also like…

 
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Blackberry Cake with Blackberry Coulis

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Blackberry Cake

With Blackberry Coulis

What You’ll Need

For the cake:

  • Gluten free cake mix. I used Betty Crocker’s gluten free yellow cake (which called for water and 2 eggs. I substituted the butter with ghee butter).

  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

  • Lemon zest

  • Ghee Butter (for greasing baking pan)

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup of fresh blackberries

  • 1/4 cup of sweet red wine

For the blackberry coulis:

  • 1/2 cup of fresh blackberries

  • 3/4 cup of honey

  • 1/2 cup of sweet red wine

 
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Follow the box instructions for the gluten free cake batter. Take blackberries and sweet red wine and blend in a high powered blender. Add blackberry and wine mix, lemon juice and lemon zest to cake batter. Stir well.

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Grease your baking pan with ghee butter or olive oil. Next, lightly dust the baking pan with the gluten free all purpose flour.

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Place in the oven on 350 degrees for 40 minutes (see box instructions). Use a toothpick to poke a hole in the cake if you are unsure whether the batter is fully cooked.

When the cake is finished, remove from the oven and allow to cool.

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While the cake is cooling, place remaining blackberries, honey, and wine in blender. Once completely liquified, add to saucer on medium to low heat. Stir frequently until mixture comes to boil.

After mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat. You can strain the liquid with a mesh strainer or apply coulis directly to cake.

Serve and enjoy!

 
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Keeping Your Kitchen Counter Clean: 7 Tips on Styling Your Kitchen

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Keeping Your Kitchen Counter Clean

7 Tips on Styling Your Kitchen

Hi dolls! So, last week, I posted my latest DIY on a Dime project where I painted my kitchen tiles. The white ceramic tiles really brighten the entire space! Now that we’re getting ready for Spring, I wanted to share some quick tips on how I keep my kitchen counters decluttered.

I shared in my 31 Self-Care Habits for Successful Women that a major part of keeping peace in your home is trying to maintain an organized home. When I come home from work and need to cook, my kitchen counters are clutter free, clean and ready for its next meal. With everyone ramping up for spring cleaning, its the perfect time to share how I keep my kitchen counters organized.

 

1. Hang floating shelves on side of cabinet

This was so important for me in my small kitchen! I knew that after I finished painting the tile, I wanted to hang floating shelves on the side of my microwave and cabinets. It was “dead space” as nothing was there. I didn’t want to hang a picture there, because you wouldn’t really see it; so, it wouldn’t really be a focal point. The floating shelves are not only decorative but more importantly, functional. Your kitchen should be all about functionality because after all, it’s the heart of the home where your meals are being made while you spend time with your family.

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2. Display Dishware on Open Shelves

Now, if you’ve installed floating shelves, then you need to decorate! Put those pretty plates, wine glasses, or fancy mugs on display. I included a very small vase of roses that I picked up from Target years ago, just to get a little pop of color up there. I also like to display my seltzer waters, copper watering can and copper mule mugs.

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3. Use Vertical Storage (large utensils)

Most organizers and decor enthusiasts will tell you that you should also place your large utensils on display. But, in terms of decluttering, you don’t watch your spatulas and wooden spoons everywhere. Purchase a wall utensil organizer or place them into a large utensil holder like the one I’m using. This keeps all of your larger cooking utensils together and they are readily accessible as you’re cooking. If you are limited on counter space, then utilizing a wall utensil holder may be a better option.

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4. Move That Paper Towel Holder

Another space saver — purchasing an under cabinet paper towel holder! I didn’t think that this was such a big deal until I actually bought one from Amazon and now I have way more space in my coffee area. You can purchase my Umbra paper towel holder here.

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5. Give cookbooks a home

Display your cookbooks just as you would any other book in your home. They should be within reach (so kept in your kitchen). If you have floating shelves like me, place them there. You could also do narrow picture shelves and install them on the side of your kitchen cabinet. Or, if you have open shelving on your island, place them there. The point is that you are showcasing the books just as an interior designer would after remodeling your kitchen.

 

6. Have oils and cutting boards ready and in reach

Who knew that interior designers also recommending displaying your cooking oils?!? I have this marble cake display holder. The glass top cracked, but I didn’t want to throw away the beautiful marble base. So, I placed the marble base near the stove and displayed my olive oils and smudge bowl. Again, everything is about functionality. The oils are placed by the stove for easy access during cooking.

The same rule applies for showcasing cutting boards. Think of your wooden cutting board as an art piece that also functions as it brings warmth and texture into the space.

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7. Minimize Decorative Objects and Appliances

Since we are keeping our kitchen counters decluttered, we want to minimize the number of small appliances and decorative objects. The kitchen appliances that I use the most are my single cup coffee maker and my Vitamix because I make smoothies and sometimes recipes, like soups and purées. If you have the cabinet space, store away the crock pots, air fryers and toasters. If you use your toaster more than your blender for example, then store the blender and display the toaster. It’s all about simplicity.

In terms of decorative objects, I invested in a KitchenAid Artisan Mixer and OMG…I’m in love! Don’t worry, I’m working on some delicious baking recipes! I displayed my colorful pink (duh) mixer in the corner of my counter, where there was again “dead space.” In between my mixer and coffee maker, I leaned a small 11x14 picture frame under the kitchen window. So I’m bringing colorful art into the space without taking up too much counter top space.

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I hope these tips help in keeping your kitchen counters clutter free! If you have more tips on keeping a clutter free kitchen, leave your comments below.

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Shop my kitchen…

Vitamix (Macys) sold out. Similar here. | KitchenAid 5qt. Stand Mixer in Cranberry (Bed Bath Beyond) | Umbra Cappa Towel Holder (Amazon) | Gallant Pluck by Erin Armstrong (Artfully Walls) | White Dinner Plates (Home Goods). Similar here. | Copper Pitcher (Target) sold out. Similar here. | Copper Mugs (Home Goods). Similar here.

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Corned Beef Hash Pie

I felt like cooking something for Saint Patrick’s Day. So, what better than to cook something with potatoes right? I haven’t had corned beef hash, or any doctored form of it, in years. I wanted a little twist to it, so I thought I’d bake it in a gluten free pie crust (any excuse to eat pie crust). This recipe can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner. When I ate leftovers for breakfast one day, I added scrambled egg. This was very yummy!

 

Prep Time: 30 Minutes | Cook Time: 1.5 Hour

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 Gluten Free Flaky Pie Crust

  • 1 White Yukon Potato

  • 1/4 pound Corned Beef

  • 1 Yellow or White Onion

  • Fresh Dill

  • Fresh Scallions

  • 1 Can of Evaporated Milk

  • 1 8oz. of Philadelphia Cream Cheese

  • 1 Tablespoon of Salt

  • 1 Tablespoon of Pepper

  • 1 Tablespoon of Garlic

  • 1 Can of Bone Broth

  • 1 Head of Green Cabbage

 
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Preheat your oven at 350 degrees.

Then, cut up your potatoes into cubes. Next, begin cutting your corned beef and onions.

 

Next, I caramelized my sliced onions. If you have never caramelized onions, use 1 tablespoon of butter (ghee butter or olive oil if dairy free) in a frying pan on low heat. Stir frequently until the onions turn caramel in color.

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Then, mix potatoes, corned beef, caramelized onions and fresh dill in a mixing bowl. Add seasoning and mix until potatoes and meat are well seasoned.

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Next, add evaporated milk and 1/2 of the 8oz. cream cheese to a medium size pot on medium heat. Stir frequently until cream cheese is completely melted.

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Once the milk and cream cheese is completely liquified, add to potatoes and meat mixture and place into pie crust.

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Place pie crust on baking pan and place in oven for 1.5 hour.

 

When the corned beef hash had approximately 20 minutes left in the oven, I chopped up some fresh green cabbage and placed it in a boiling pot of bone broth, seasoned to taste. The cabbage only took approximately 15 minutes to cook, as you don’t want to overcook it.

Naturally, I ate this with a bottle of Guiness. Happy Saint Patty’s Day weekend!

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DIY on a Dime: My New Kitchen Tile

I finally painted my kitchen tile! I procrastinated on this DIY project for the longest — mostly because my kitchen tile is glass tile and I was unsure how the final project would look once completed. I’m sooooo happy with how it turned out! This project was super easy and took one weekend only. I wish I did it two years ago when I first moved in. Better late than never!

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What You’ll Need:

  1. Blue painter’s tape;

  2. White Bristle Paintbrush for oil based paints;

  3. Foam paintbrush;

  4. Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 White Water Baded Prime;

  5. Latex high-gloss paint and primer. I used Behr Premium Plus Interior Hi-Gloss Enamel in Ultra Pure White;

  6. TSP Cleaner; and,

  7. Microfiber Cleaning Rag.

 
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Step One: Clean Your Tile

First, pour 1/4 of a cup of the TSP cleaner into a bucket. Next, fill the bucket with warm water (I poured approximately one gallon). Take your microfiber cleaning rag and scrub the diluted cleaning solvent on the tile. If your tile is heavily stained, add more TSP solution to your bucket. This takes some good elbow greasing to remove actual kitchen grease and stains. Please allow the tile to dry before priming (I waited about 7 hours.)

 

Step Two: Prime Your Tile

I used Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 White Water Baded Primer. I only did one coat of primer. Please wait at least 24 hours before painting the tile. Make sure that you are also priming the grout!

When priming your tile, try to apply the primer moving the brush in one steady direction. Since I was painting over glass ceramic tile, moving the brush back and forth was causing brush strokes or lines to appear, very visibly. I noticed that when I applied the primer by moving the brush strokes in one direction, it reduced the appearance of brush strokes to the naked eye.

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Step Three: Paint Your Tile

Once your primer is dry, begin painting the tile. Again, you want to apply the paint with the bristle brush, moving in one direction, the same direction you applied the primer.

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Painting my ceramic tile took approximately two coats plus touch-ups on the grout.

While painting your tile, be sure that you are painting your grout. My tiles were originally brown with grey grout. So, it was very important that I painted the grout as well, to create a seamless look of white subway tile and white grout. For touch ups, I used a small sponge brush since the tip of the brush fit in the grout lines perfectly, without messing with the brush strokes on the tile itself.

 
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What do you guys think? Do you prefer the brown glass tile? I think the white subway look really brightened up the space and changed the energy of the room. I would love to know what you all think, so feel free to comment below!

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31 Self-Care Habits for Successful Women

Happy Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day! After refreshing my main bathroom, and giving the one room I hated the most a spa like feel, I’ve been focusing a lot on self-care habits. My daily commute into D.C. is approximately two hours each day. In addition, I work nine hours a day, Monday through Friday. When I get home, I am T-I-R-E-D. Thus, since moving to Baltimore and working in D.C., I’ve made it a point to maintain my life-work balance, keeping my home peaceful and developing self-care habits that reduce my stress levels.

Each day this month, I’m sharing 31 Self-Care Habits for Successful Women on my social media accounts. Here is the full list of all things self-care that we women can do to feel less overwhelmed and maintain our sanity.

 
  1. Schedule Your Appointment for Self Care

You should be scheduling self-care just as you would any other appointment.  I used to get a full body massage once a month, and would keep a recurring schedule with my masseuse.  Since moving to Baltimore, I haven’t been getting my massages as regularly as I used to.  However, I make it a point to schedule self-care.  Whether it’s a pedicure, waxing or hair appointment, PENCIL IT IN!  Otherwise, you’ll be so bogged down by life and interruptions, that you’ll completely forget to make that time for yourself.

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2. Meditate

I’ve been trying to get better at meditating.  I know that due to my work schedule and commute, it would be really difficult to do it every day.  So, I’ve been getting into the habit of meditating every Sunday morning.  Health experts insist that meditation reduces stress levels and controls anxiety.  It also promotes emotional health and self-awareness.  When I meditate, I clear my mind, as it’s constantly running over my to do list for work and personal.  I focus on my breathing, and often use meditation music to create my calming atmosphere.

 

3. Write in Journal


Who’s bad at keeping up with their journal?  *Raises hand*  When I read Becoming by Michelle Obama, I giggled at the parts where she talked about attempting to journal, then falling off, then picking back up only to fall off again.  I’m terrible at journaling!  I suppose this blog has become my new journal, and I’ve been pretty consistent.  But I also do some creative writing during my free time – which some would say is a form of journaling.  Writing truly helps me decompress from the day and organize my thoughts.

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4. Create a Peaceful Home

If your home is in complete disarray then guess what, so will your stress levels!  I get it.  Many of my readers have children, spouses, etc.  So, it may not be as tidy as my pictures (believe me, when Friday rolls around, it’s not at all “tidy.”).  Creating a weekend cleaning schedule keeps my space decluttered and organized.  I knock out all of my weekly cleaning Saturday morning, allowing me to spend the rest of the weekend and early work week in and orderly home, creating peace of mind.

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5. Put that Lipstick On!

I read somewhere once that if you dress up for work, dates, dinner parties, etc., it completely changes and lifts your mood.  So true.  When I dress up for work, or going out with friends or dates, I feel beautiful and confident.  There is something about slipping on a favorite dress or pair of shoes and walking into a room.

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6. Stretch it Out

I don’t like to go to the gym.  That’s just me.  It’s not necessarily 100% laziness.  I’m truly paranoid about my ankle, thanks to my previous injury.  But, the one thing that has helped me with both my physical and emotional health is yoga.  Ideally, I’ve set a goal this year to be consistent with my yoga and stretching it out every Saturday morning.  I’m really excited to see how this benefits me a year from now, health wise.

 

7. Your Planner is Your Friend

My friends and work colleagues tease me because I always invest in a new beautiful planner every year.  I have a work planner, which keeps me on task.  But, I also have a personal planner, especially now that I’m blogging part-time.  When you don’t use a planner, you are susceptible to losing your ideas and missing deadlines.  Planners are your friend.  Invest in a good one and use it.

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8. Listen to a Positive Thinking Podcast

When I’m not listening to a true crime podcast, like Serial, I’m listening to a positive thinking podcast.  Whether I’m at work, or in the car, these podcasts get my mind right and help me think about certain life choices:

 Therapy for Black Girls

Therapy for Black Girls is written by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D. a licensed psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia. This podcast is so deep and amazing. When my mind is racing about issues that plague me as a 35-year-old single Black female, this is my go to podcast. Dr. Bradford talks about everything from toxic masculinity, to being an entrepreneur and managing your mental health. I really love this podcast and I’m so glad I found it. I also follow her on Instagram to keep up with her latest posts.

Design You by Tobi Fairley

Another one of my favorites is Design You by Tobi Fairley. Tobi Fairley is one of my favorite interior designers, and her podcast is brand spanking new, launching in 2018. I like hearing what Tobi has to say, particularly about self-care necessities like setting boundaries with others, controlling your mindset, and even recognizing whether or not your home is supporting your goals and dreams! I love it because she’s an interior designer and brings a unique perspective as an entrepreneur attempting to maintain her life-work balance like the rest of us!

The Power Seat

The Power Seat is all about teaching you how to win at your career and personal life, taking control of your destiny and making the best decisions that are right for you. This new podcast is hosted by Tanesha McCauley aka “Coach T” and attorney Nicole Rachelle aka “The Proper Diva.” The duo talks about intimate relationships, how social media postings can affect employment prospects, and how to navigate your career.

Red Table Talk

Although Red Table Talk is not a podcast, and more like a vlog or daytime talk show, it is my “chicken soup for the soul (remember that book?).” Red Table Talk is hosted by actress Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter and singer Willow Smith, and her mother, Adrienne. I recently watched the episode, “What Men Really Think About Love” with rapper Wale and Jane the Virgin actor, Justin Baldoni. It spoke volumes, particularly to my generation and the current dating world (e.g., online dating apps) and the difficulty in actually meeting someone who is ready for commitment thanks to social media, the deterioration of communication skills and the need for “instant gratification.”

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9. Eat Nourishing Foods

At the start of the year, I reduced my processed sugar intake.  I’m slowly weaning off sodas and cereals, but it has really helped my digestive system.  And, I lost weight!  Instead of eating ice cream every night (which I shouldn’t anyway because I’m really not supposed to have dairy), I’ve been eating sweet fruits like pineapples and grapes.  Eating nourishing fruits and vegetables really does affect your chemical balance – not just your weight.  It affects your mood and concentration levels as well.  Eat healthier for a healthier mindset.

 

10. Find Time for Your Spirituality

Part of my meditation process is centering my spirit by reading a Scripture from the Bible.  I meditate on the Scripture that I’ve just read and focus on its message.  What am I supposed to learn?  Maybe you are not religious.  That’s ok.  But you should still make time to find your center, meditating on what makes you happy.  Family.  Friends.  Pets.  Center your chakra alignments to reset your spiritual mood.

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11. Add One Thing to Your Resume

This has been my motto for several years now.  Each year, I add one new thing to my resume.  This doesn’t necessarily need to be a new job.  Maybe you can write a scholarly article in your academic field.  Maybe you can take an accredited workshop or lecture.  Maybe you can enroll in a new certificate program, expanding your expertise.  Add something new once a year, to keep your resume fresh and competitive.

 

12. Challenge Yourself

Are you challenging yourself?  I recently transferred to another department within my federal agency.  I found myself frustrated in my previous unit, not just because it was a very toxic work environment, but also because the work itself was not challenging.  I quickly realized, after moving to the DMV and joining my previous unit, that I had come from previous sectors of my agency that offered much for challenging and strenuous work.  So, once I got to D.C., the work was almost TOO easy.  I felt very unfulfilled and unsatisfied.  Now, I’m in a department that provides very challenging work on a daily basis.  I’m never bored and I’m back to feeling like I’m actually making a difference in the immigration world again.  What I realized about myself is that I’m not afraid of challenges.  I strive for them. Even when I was a student, I remember always purposely taking difficult classes in high school and college, selecting complex writing and research topics.  Harvard Medical School insists that challenging yourself sharpens your thinking skills and increasing brain activities.  I couldn’t agree more.

 

13. Educate Yourself

For my March book list, I read a few books on feminism and what the movement means to some of the most influential writers. I also read #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso. The book is not about feminism but is about empowering women on how to be successful entrepreneurs. I have the entrepreneurial spirit, but ever since I started to tap into my creative and innovative side, I didn’t really know where to start in terms “getting started.” I found #Girlboss to be really helpful in terms of providing advice on not only to be successful in your current career — or applying for a new job — but also holding on to your dreams and doing the proper research on how to bring them into fruition. I have always been resourceful when it comes to researching, so this book was exactly what I needed to kind of give me that boost to get started. It was also a very fast read, and I highlighted and wrote throughout the book.

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14. Have a Life Outside of Work

What do you do for fun? Play golf? Take salsa lessons? Are you a foodie that likes to wine and dine at new restaurants? Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, make the time to go do it. Get out in the fresh air and go for walks, take a yoga class. Do not spend all of your days cooped up in a cubicle and then in the house.

 

15. Set Intermittent and End Goals

Another habit of successful women is establishing both short-term and long-term goals.  What is the point of setting long-term goals, if you don’t know the steps in how to get there?  Whenever I set a new goal for myself, I do the research. Who did this before me? You’re not reinventing the wheel.  What did they do to get there?  For example, I get asked very frequently how I published my previous law review articles.  I did the research and set intermittent goals, since my long-term goal was to have a law review publication.  I researched the topic I wanted to write about and whether it was a current “hot topic” in the legal field.  I then researched the thousands of law review journals that would accept the type of publication I was seeking to write.  Next, I set a timeline for writing my rough draft.  Once I completed my rough draft, I would then send the manuscript to the various law firms I selected for submission.  Somehow, each law review article I’ve ever written has found its way to its new home with a law review journal.  If I hadn’t set the intermittent goals in doing the proper research on how to get there, I wouldn’t have my publications.

 
It takes discipline to do the things that are good for us instead of what feels good in the moment. It’s takes even more discipline to refuse to take responsibility for other people’s emotional well-being. And it takes discipline to take full and complete responsibility for our own well-being.
— Tami Forman for Forbes

16. Be Financially Savvy

I’m terrible at saving.  I blame my father, who is an impulsive shopper – quite opposite from my thrifty mother.  I think it’s because whenever my father wanted something, he’d just go out and buy it.  That’s what I saw growing up.  Whether it was a new big screen television or a brand new car, my father just went out and bought it.  I don’t have that luxury thanks to law school, student loan debt and working as a government employee.  Thus, I started reading Smart Women Finish Rich:  9 Steps to Achieving Financial Security and Funding Your Dreams by David Bach.  My goal is to be better at saving, especially since I’m a new homeowner and need to maintain an emergency fund.

 

I also met one of my 2019 goals and created an investment account with Fidelity Investments.  It’s been a goal of mine for many years now to start investing and I finally did it.  Managing my Fidelity account is so easy!  It took me literally five minutes, and I was purchasing stock the same day!  Now, I research potential companies for stock purchases and beginning to develop my financial portfolio.

 

17. Have a Thankful Heart

Always say thank you.  Maintain a heart of gratitude and it will get you a long way.

 

18. Find Your Creative Outlet

Since purchasing my home, I paid more attention to my creative side.  Decorating my new home allows my creative juices to flow.  I’m constantly on visual social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, researching decorating ideas for my home.  Putting a room together allows me to use my thinking skills and my hands.  Once the room is complete, I feel accomplished, just as I would at work, adjudicating a case.  When I’m not decorating or doing something for the blog, I’m doing some creative writing.   If you like to sew, sew.  If you like to draw, draw.  If you like to write, write.  Schedule time for your creative outlet.

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19. Decompress

Sometimes, I don’t feel like reading a book or watching television but still want something creative to do.  Adult coloring is my new decompression outlet when I want to be creative but don’t feel like putting in a lot of effort.  Naturally, I found an adult coloring book that focuses on interior decorating.

 

20. Read at Least One Inspirational Book

If you’ve been following the blog or social media, you know that I LOVE psychological thrillers.  But sometimes, it’s a little exhausting, constantly reading about stalkers and serial killers.  Every once in a while, I’ll search for a non-fiction book that provides inspiration.  I recently finished reading The Source of Self Regard by Toni Morrison.  First, let me say, this was my first Toni Morrison experience.  I know.  Shame on me, an avid reader and had never read any of her fiction or non-fiction pieces.  Nonetheless, I’m so glad that this was my first Toni Morrison experience.  She talks about everything from current events and immigration to the root of racism in America.  She also included several essays about literature as an art form, what it means to write profound pieces that address race and class, and the state of art itself.  Those pieces were just as important to me, given that I am a writer by nature.  My favorite essay is “Cinderella’s Stepsisters,” which focuses on feminism and ending women to women violence, particularly in the workplace.

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21. Create a Music Playlist

I haven’t danced like no one is watching in a really long time.  However, I will sing like no one is listening on a weekly basis.  Music is the universal language.  Belt it out like Beyonce.

 

22. Develop a Nighttime Routine — And Stick to It!

I previously posted “Spa Day Funday” on the blog, and provided my nighttime routine.  Developing a nighttime routine, and sticking to it, is important in maintaining good sleeping habits.  When I have a good night’s sleep, I am energized and refreshed in the morning.  I’m not a morning person, so my sleep is very important to me.  I also think that when you have children, it’s important to develop a nighttime routine for you and your kids. For example, growing up, I remember my mother set a bed time.  There was no leeway in maneuvering that bed time and it only increased with age.  Now as an adult, I keep the same habit of having a bed time for myself, making sure I’ve turned the diffuser on and phone off.

 

23. Clear Out Junk and Clutter

Have you watched Marie Kondo’s Tiding Up on Netflix?  I greatly enjoyed it, as it encouraged me to start decluttering certain areas of my home.  My main task for decluttering the home this year are tackling my closet space and my basement.  There are so many clothing items that I haven’t worn or probably seen in forever.  Clearly by Marie’s standards, they are no longer bringing me joy and need to go.

 

24. Disconnect from Technology

Turn the Netflix off; put your phone on silent and read a book. Read on the train. Read in the bathtub. Go for a run in the park. Do something where you can turn the power button off and relax without interruption.

 

25. Go to Your Local Museum

Last summer, I took my mother to the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art.  It was absolutely breathtaking.  Support your local art museums.

 

26. Use Aromatherapy and Candles

When I’m home, I always have candles burning.  I love aromatherapy and how it relaxes me.  I recently attended a candle making workshop, hosted by 228 Grant Street Candle Co. in Baltimore.  It was so much fun!  I got to learn about how soy wax candles are made and how to care for the candles to increase longevity.  I will definitely attempt to make my own candle and mix fragrances.

 
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27. Apologize and Forgive

My father always says that he doesn’t believe in apologies because most times, the individual intended to perform the act that was committed, and disregarded it’s potential offense to others.  Whether it’s true or not, apologizing is often just as important as forgiving.  I am a firm believer in being responsible for myself and my actions.  Even when I don’t agree with the other person – and agree to disagree – an apology may be needed in an effort to move forward amicably and getting to forgiveness.

 

28. Rid Your Aura of Toxic People

I can’t stress this enough.  If someone is not bringing value to your life, bringing more negative rather than positive energy, let them go.  If that person is costing you time and / or money, let them go.  Not everyone values you the way you deserve.  Using your power of goodbye and removing toxic people from your life will save your energy for those who genuinely appreciate you.

 

29. Make Time for Family and Friends

My family has all moved to Florida.  So, in between traveling south and visiting my parents, I also try to visit close friends.  I meet my girlfriends once a month for dinner and drinks.  I reach out to long-distance girlfriends via FaceTime.  We are all very busy with our work, spouses and children.  Schedule time for your family and separate time for your friends, to maintain a healthy balance outside of your work schedule.

 

30. Keep Smiling

I smile a lot.  But when I’m in the worst mood, or some random anxiety is kicking in, I don’t want to smile. I’m stressed.  Just remember, the storm doesn’t last forever. Smile.

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31. Make Time for Yourself

Even if it’s just one or two hours a week, make time for yourself.  Soak in the bathtub.  Read a book.  Go get that pedicure and massage.  Make time for yourself.  You’ll drive yourself crazy if you don’t.  Self-care is so important for our mental, emotional and physical health.  How can you truly maintain a healthy lifestyle if you’re constantly stressed, overworked and overwhelmed?  Make that necessary time for yourself and then start the reset button. I recently read “Self-Care is Not An Indulgence. It’s a Discipline,” and the entire article emphasizes that although self-care can be rather boring, it is necessary and takes discipline. Self-care makes you mentally and emotionally stronger, a better spouse, parent and employee. Start disciplining yourself now and make time for yourself.

 
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The Future is Female: "The Power" by Naomi Alderman

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Allie, a young runaway in and out of foster care who starts what most would consider a religious cult worshipping Mother Mary or a female God.

 Roxy, a young woman from London, whose father was the head of a local mob gang, until she takes over.

 Margot, an ambitious local politician who steadily climbs the ranks and finds comfort on the national political stage.

 Joselyn, Margot’s daughter, who struggles with her new normalcy, or lack thereof.

 And, Tunde, a male reporter who captures the female revolution around the world.

When the first incidents of women discharging electricity from their bodies is recorded, several men die or are severely injured due to the intensity of the electric shocks.  In addition, women can pass on their skein to other women who have yet to activate their new inner power.  At first, no men have skeins or electrical currents enumerating from their bodies.  Later in the novel, it is revealed that some men, although rare, do have skeins.  Just the same, some women, never develop skeins or do have a skein but their power comes and goes.

What I Liked

I found Margot and Allie to be the most interesting characters in their own rights, with Allie and the voices in her head leading a bunch of girls like sheep.  And Margot, who failed to genuinely help her daughter with her emotional and mental health because she is too blinded by the greed of money and political domination.  Tunde, who initially started out as my least favorite character, was eventually almost raped by a woman who tried to incapacitate him with her electrical shocks.  Tunde showed his vulnerability as both a man – in a woman dominated world – and a journalist, risking his life on every possible terrain, just trying to seize a good story to share with the world.  I thought Tunde was very metaphoric in how women feel on a daily basis, consciously aware of our surroundings at all times, hoping that our precautions will prevent us from falling victim to any attacks simply because we are a woman.  Tunde was constantly both in fear and awe of women, recognizing that a woman could easily and quickly take his life, simply because he was a man.

I also liked how this book illustrates that world domination, simply based on gender, doesn’t necessarily make it a better place.  You often hear people say, “If women ran the world, there’d be no wars.”  The Power gives a “yeah right” to that false assumption, demonstrating that women too can be stupefied by the many forms of power, physical, emotional, mental or financial.  War and the exchange of arms still takes place.  Sexual assault still takes place.  Segregation still takes place.  Even the isolation of women and girls in camps takes place.  The world, in Alderman or “Armon’s” view, didn’t necessarily get better simply because women took over.

What I Did Not Like

I’ll be honest. I do not think this book is the “next Handmaid’s Tale,” as many critics suggest.  It got rave reviews and is about a women led utopia (or dystopia); so, I thought it’d be a cool fictional novel for Women’s History Month.  Sigh.  I could’ve read something a little darker and more gratifying like Stephen King’s “Sleeping Beauties.”  There were several moments in the book where I was bored.  Some characters were more boring than others.  For example, I thought certain characters, like Roxy, were fillers.  Although she eventually crosses paths with Allie, her character didn’t captivate me or make me feel like she provided a major contribution to the overall plot.  I felt like it was a slow read and the excitement really didn’t pick up until I was 200 pages in.  I thought that the description of how the women feel, when they use their power, could’ve been more detailed.  The author could’ve dug a little deeper.  Is it worth reading? Sure.  Is it something that I want to read again? No.  Nonetheless, I’m sure there’s already a sequel and movie in the works.

 

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