Wednesday, November 4, 2015

#BlogLikeCrazy with See Jane Write

Well, I'm suppose to be offering you guys some amazing, life changing and intelligently written blog posts everyday in the month of November but I've already screwed that up beginning on the 3rd... So, although the beautiful Javacia Bowser at See Jane Write has created a 30 day writing challenge to push us bloggers.... I'm going to just do some minor adjustments and make it a 28 day challenge LOL

Blogging daily is HARD! I currently work a 9-5, have 2 kids & a husband at home (so basically 3 kids), I
do social media work for clients, I'm getting a non-profit off the ground, collaborating on a upcoming launch with the Queen of Coils (Coilyencounters-Marci) and working out at Planet Fitness but I will make it work. No excuses! Like Sean "Puffy" Combs said, "I can sleep when I'm dead". Don't know why that came to mind and I'm sure he didn't create the phrase but you get it, Right?  This challenge will hopefully push me to improve my time management skills, connect more with you guys, improve my writing and re-kindle my love and commitment to my baby,

Yes, this is a bit of a "get by" post ( no denial here) but I'm ready for the journey. I hope you guys will hop on board and enjoy the ride!

Follow the hashtag #BlogLikeCrazy on Twitter to discover some other amazing bloggers that will be daily blogging  in the month of November!

What are my chances? Would the house bet on me? Place your chips, the wheel is spinning in 3..2...1...

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Can the Grass be Greener?

Stranded on an island, of course one should wish they had family, food, friends ....Right?  Naw, this girl here needs Internet access and a Roku streaming device.  Just kidding,..... I think?  However, it is true that I would sell one of the unnecessary organs to pay my Netflix subscription. Judge me if you must. 

  I am extremely excited about some of the new shows streaming this Fall and I have boldly gone where a loyal Netflix lover doesn't belong.  Venturing to other platforms like Amazon Prime, HBO Go, Showtime Anytime and a peek at Hulu Plus. I have discovered shows that have me rearranging my schedule to find time to binge watch every episode. 

First up is my  experience with Amazon Studio's Original offerings to the streamasphere (yes, I made that up). Previously I had an Amazon Prime subscription because of my extreme addiction to shopping in their marketplace.  If you need it, want it or just think it, it will appear so $99 was worth every penny to get 2 day shipping on almost everything.  I  explored selling items, buying music and purchasing movies but didn't know they had original content.  

I was browsing the site (no purchases made -WHEW!) and stumbled upon a show called, "The Hand of God". It starred the step-father in Sons of Anarchy (Ron Perlman) and the pilot episode was free.  This could be interesting so I signed into my account and pressed play. Let me begin by saying this show is about his discovery of  religion but not its not religious! It's rated M for Mature so please don't engage if you are expecting a show you will discuss with your prayer group on Wednesday evening. The show is centered around Judge Pernell Harris (Ron Perlman) desperately trying to save his sons life and make amends for the time he has wasted with him. He is hoping his new found connection with God is real and will be the key to discovering the answers to bring him out of coma, punish those responsible which will also save him too.  This show is a ride of intrigue, confusion, craziness, sex, arrogance  and more that keeps you hooked and wanting more.

 The pilot is free on Amazon (click here) and if you don't have a subscription (or a friend who willing to share their account info), you can get your own for $99 a year. They offer a free trial for 30 days (get yours here) and a little birdie told me they will be reducing the price during Black Friday. Amazon Studios offers other original shows in the genres of drama, comedy, family etc.  I've started watching  Bosch, a cop drama starring Titus Welliver who happens to have also been on Sons of Anarchy, the jury is still out on this one.  

I wish Amazon had a monthly option and of course I wouldn't pay $99 for just its streaming services but if you like to shop online, read books and all the other things Amazon offers for your Kindle, Kindle app or Fire stick it might be worth the cost. 

Have you watched any of Amazon Studio's shows?

                          What are your favorites? Duds? 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Please "Don't Let the Fat Fool Ya"

I openly discuss my struggles with my weight and trying to get myself healthy here on my blog with no apologies or excuses.  I have shared goals, challenges and defeats but I have never been ashamed of my size.  Daily I read stories of women who feel or are treated as if they are inferior because they are plus size and it disturbs me.  Yes, you want to be healthy but size can be extremely misleading. Thin doesn't equal healthy.

Social Media is a great place to find inspiring plus size women challenging stereotypes and breaking them in pieces. Some of my Instagram favorites are fierce, bold, beautiful and all around Rock Stars! +Garnerstyle (@garnerstyle) is a blogger that has a voice that makes readers buy and companies change their policies.  Her fashion style, her "she looks like me" appeal and passion for the plus-size woman make her a force that companies want on their side. Chasity and one of my other favs "The Plus Size Princess" Cece Olisa launched the Curvy Con this year.  It is a day event that I hope to attend next year, that is centered around the needs of the curvy girl.
Photo from her IG page

@biggalyoga is proof that a plus size body can be flexible, healthy and amazing.  I am a huge fan of Yoga and the way it naturally relaxes, strengthens and lengthens my body.  I thought it was cool when I found a great plus size yoga DVD ( Yoga: Just My Size w/Megan Garcia)  until I discovered @biggalyoga and was floored.   This aspiring Yogi motivates with her pics of poses, fun challenges and promotion of self love.  She is currently working to become a certified Yoga instructor and has a Go Fund Me page to help her reach this goal financially.  I wish Valerie much success because she has truly help me without knowing it.

+CeCe Olisa  (@ceceolisa) with her workout vids, @tessholliday killing the modeling scene (and her #EffYourBeautyStandards campaign) and @Ashley_Nell_Tipton taking over Project Runway,are helping women  find love for their curves and influencing them to accomplish their dreams.

Their inspiration and a phrase that I find myself using when I'm doubted because of my size evolved into a t-shirt.  This tee is my way of shouting to everyone that sees me coming.... I'm Beautiful, Talented, Strong, Smart, Healthy.... So please Don't Let The Fat Fool Ya!

I hope you like it & Please support!  Follow me on Instagram @mslawanda 

 Get Yours Today! Click here to order ---->

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Grab a Cup and Come on! - #MslawandaWC

Taking control of my health is a must! I know how important water is to our organs, hair, skin and weight loss so I need to rally the troops. So heres a H20 challenge  to encourage me while getting support from friends, family and my social media world.

The goal is to consume a gallon (128oz) of that crisp and refreshing recently discovered substance on Mars. (I'm in the #RocketCity so it must be said)....

Anyone can join, simply drink a gallon
a day,  cheer each other on via social media and use the hashtag  #MslawandaWC to find each other. This is a 10 day challenge but I'm sure it will last longer with the great participation I have seen.  I'm going to be on Periscope, Facebook(personal page) , Instagram & Twitter. (@mslawanda)

Who's in?

So far we have had some great sponsors! Winners for each prize are chosen randomly . To be enter for prizes simply respond on "Roll Call" posts or share your daily consumption total with #MslawandaWC

So Let's Get Drinking... Water that is!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I Got a Crush!.... A Big Spring Crush

My daughters gifted me 2 tickets to the 2nd annual Homegrown Big Spring Crush! I was so excited to attend this event that offered over 250 wine labels ready for me to "Sip, Rinse & Repeat". I won't share how many sips I had, but I will say...I didn't drive home LOL!

This Saturday evening went well into the night with live music from local favorites the Microwave Dave Band & The Wolves of Chernobyl as well as dishes to satisfy your taste buds from local food trucks & chefs. I didn't try the food, I was distracted by the wine... I am an unofficial wine connoisseur of course!

One of the highlights of the event was a chance to stomp grapes the way they do in Italy! Although it
was a lot of fun, it was fun with a purpose. The stomping area benefit a very important charity, The American Cancer Society! 

I truly had a great time enjoying friends, sipping wine & attending another amazing Huntsville event!

Did you attend the Big Spring Crush? Do you have a favorite wine?


*Special thanks to Mary Ann for covering this event*

Monday, August 31, 2015

Strong, Beautiful, Powerful... Yes ladies #BornandMade

Leave it IG (Instagram) to be the place to find a great campaign! Beauty giant Carol's Daughter wants girls and women to realize that they are #BornandMade to perfection.  There is no need to look for validation, approval or self-love from anyone or anywhere because it's born within us.  I love it! The company has partnered with a group called I am That Girl to help spread the message and empower women to know their self worth. The website allows you to generate an inspiring meme with a picture of your choice. 

Although a simple slogan (#BornandMade) says so much. It stirred something in me the same way I felt when I first heard Alicia Keys - Girl on Fire and saw the Lane Bryant #ImNoAngel campaign. Women and young girls must be reminded that we have so much power, control and strength and we must release it to the world. We can't allow anyone especially ourselves to burn out our light before we share our roaring flame!

Girls Rock!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Northerner's Review of Southern BBQ- Melvin's (#1)

My experience at Melvin's Place of BBQ was a good one..... So why only 3 stars? Let's start at the beginning... This BBQ joint is exactly what you think of when you're looking for a place that has no time for hype, they simply want to provide good food.

My dad was visiting from Michigan so I decided to bring him along to check this place out.  The restaurant is an add on to his home with the dining area in his drive-way furnished with comfy chairs, umbrella for shade a large table to eat at family style. We were welcomed by three of his friends who were enjoying the weather and instantly felt like I was hanging out with old friends or relatives.  Melvin appeared a few moments later with his cowboy hat and red apron asking how he could help us.  We ordered a slab of ribs, no sides and he left to prepare our order.   Shortly he returned with a Styrofoam container so full of ribs that wouldn't...well couldn't close completely. I was extremely excited!

I shared with Melvin that I was a blogger and that I saw his restaurant in the Alabama BBQ app. I explained that his picture was the reason I decided to give his restaurant a try.  Now when I first encounter Mr Melvin, he didn't seem overly friendly but once I showed him his picture on my iPad in the app... A smile and excitement appeared that I hadn't seen previously. He knew his picture had been taken and that the Tourism Department had been planning something but he wasnt aware of exactly how that worked.  He asked if he could take my iPad inside and show his sister( I said yes, of course) and we posed for a picture together.  This experience was 5 STAR for me.

The Ribs: That container had so many ribs that my father, 14 year old son, husband and myself had plenty.  They were very tender, completely fall of the bone, the seasoning was good but not great and a few of mine were a bit too fatty.  I like a very thick sauce and Melvin's was thin but the taste of the sauce was spot on.  Now,  my Northern Father & Husband Loved Them! They enjoyed the seasoning of the ribs and felt the sauce was unnecessary, a added bonus.

So although I haven't found my Go To Rib spot at Melvin's, it may be the perfect spot for you!

Have you tried Melvin's Place? 

Should I return and check out the sides? Share your thoughts!

Friday, August 14, 2015

#DineHSV 2015 Edition

Huntsville Restaurant Week 2015 begins today and lasts until Sunday August 23rd. This is a great opportunity to try some of the best restaurants/food trucks in the Huntsville & the surrounding areas.  The Huntsville/Madison County CVB's website lists the participating restaurants and special meal options for this promotion. They also have a fun contest to win some cool prizes while supporting and enjoying the local cuisine. It's very easy to participate, simple take a pic of your favorite dish at one of the participating restaurants and share on their social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) using the hashtag #DineHSV.... They will select a winner daily so make sure you snap those pics, use the hashtag and share ... I will :-)

Here's a of pics from Restaurant Week 2014 at Sady's in Madison for lunch...

 Share your favorite restaurants!

 I enjoy reading your comments!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Do #BlackLivesMatter .... then Prove It!

Did you know that less than 3% of the African American community donate blood?

I didn't!! I  knew the numbers were low but never could I have imagine it being that low!  I invited my cousin April to share here on why we need to  Prove that #BlackLivesMatter!!!

April Shares:

We have too many myths regarding donating blood, donating organs and bone marrow.
There are thousands of African Americans in need of transplants of some sort.
My daughter just happens to need a bone marrow transplant.
For those of you that may not understand how serious this is, it's life threatening. She could die.
My goal for writing this letter isn't just to help my daughter. It's potentially to help your daughter, sister, wife, mother, brother, aunt, uncle, father, cousin and friend.
As of most recent, I became aware as to the importance to raise awareness in the Black community as to the importance of donating blood, bone marrow and organs.
Often times, we really don't hold a thought as to the risks we take from a day to day basis. Driving in a car, playing a sport, diet, even genetics.
I recently read an article that stated "About 90,000 to 100,000 in the United States suffer from sickle cell disease, mostly African-Americans. These patients- most of whom are children- need to undergo regular blood transfusions. Often, they develop antibodies to the blood they receive, leading to potentially life - threatening transfusion reactions. But if they can receive blood that's more closely matched to their own, that risk is minimized. And the best matches are found among other African-Americans."
(Source cited: Blood Centers of the Pacific copyright 2015- site by NetRaising)
I know you're probably thinking " why'd she site about sickle cell anemia." Well, that's just one of the many illnesses/diseases that plague our community. Also it explains perfectly as to the risks that are involved when we receive blood by another racial group.
We also are affected by Lupus, Leukemia, High Blood pressure, Diabetes, Aplastic Anemia and several others.
We as African Americans have a more severe threat of fatality because our percentile in which we donate blood, organs, bone marrow is alarmingly low.
I never in a million years thought I would be campaigning to get more African Americans to donate blood, let a lone asking them to donate bone marrow and organs.
But here I am, faced with this arduous task in informing and enlightening our community as a whole.
For those who may feel this article doesn't pertain to them, think again.
Just because you may not be in need of a bone marrow transplant, does not mean that you later on may not be in need of a blood transfusion.
And in either case your odds are still dangerous given the fact that most Americans who do donate overwhelming outrank the African American community.
With that being said, we've got to do better as a community.
Please let's do this together. Not just for the sake of my child but for the sake of our children, our community.
#Black lives Matter!
Here's what you can do to help:
  • Give /Donate Blood
  • Contact your local Red Cross Ask your Red Cross blood technician/ nurse and or your family physician how easily you can donate bone marrow.
  • Check off the box on your drivers license to donate organs!

Save your loved ones today by simply giving! Raise the percentile of African Americans that donate blood thereby increasing our chances of survival!
#Black lives matter!

More importantly, Do Your OWN RESEARCH and SEE the STATS! They don't lie. Sooner or later, we all will be faced with some sort of great circumstance that may cause us to reach out or within the community.

Does my Black life matter?

How about my daughters black life?

       It certainly does to me!

Awareness and Knowledge are key, please pass along and share!
Light & Love
April Ray©

Feel free to check out her message in video: 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

North vs South - Give me BBQ

Moving to the Alabama  from Michigan in 2007 was the best decision for my family, my sanity and my future. I've enjoyed every moment so far.  I love the community, the weather, the opportunities but there is just one thing that seems to be missing..... BBQ the way I like it! I've tried a few local places but they  had me frowning in disappointment. I gave up and decided I would just save this meal selection for visits to Detroit or when my family came to Alabama and prepared it for me.

However the new Alabama BBQ movie, book (Alabama Barbecue: Delicious Road Trips) and the new mobile app has me willing to give finding my next favorite rib joint another try. The Alabama Tourist Department has launched this new campaign showcasing the best in the state. These are the cream of the crop when it comes to the hog, chicken, beef and even turkey. I know that I'm extremely particular but I'm going to take on this challenge with a positive attitude. 

Every week I will try a new restaurant on this quest to find the best substitute for my Aunt Denise's slap yo momma they're so good  ribs.
 I will share my experiences and some opinions of my Southern friends too. I hope you will share some of your favorites. 

Check It Out:

The Movie/Website/The App:
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