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Monday, December 3, 2018

Shoppe the Gift Guide

I know I'm a few days late but please believe, I'm not one dollar short when it comes to this 2018 Gift Guide.  Still sniffling + highly medicated right now, I knew this Gift Guide was a MUST have for you all.  I did things a little different this year + shared only products that I have obsessed over in 2018.  Which means that these are all products I already have, love and think you need as well.  None of these items are super expensive so add them to your wishlist ASAP because Santa, we've been good baby!

Some brands have given you a chance to win these products which is even better!  You won't know which brands/products are being given away until the day of, so you will want to keep your eyes open.  If you have a friend who needs to be subscribed, let them know.  Only Blog Subscribers and Instagram Followers will be eligible to win.

1. Ecobee 4 Smart Thermostat
2. The Mom Life Co SKINNIE bar necklace
3. Canary Security System
4. Favorite Skincare: Origins, Dermalogica, Fresh, Drunk Elephant, Pixi Beauty
5. Mixtiles
6. Shark ION Robot 750
7. Snuggly Sweater Candle: Target
8. Kate Spade Taxi Flats
9. Kate Spade Mega Sam Tote
10. Dyson V7 Cordless Vacuum

All of these items are products that the Millennial Woman/Mom/Wife needs!  Idk about you but I like to be connected to everything happening around my home but with little effort.  The Ecobee, Canary and Shark Robot let me do just that with apps.  The other items are must have for different reasons to be shared in the near future, so stay tuned!

Edit:  A few brands have updated their participation in this Gift Guide so things were shifted in the graphic to accommodate.  Please take a peek at the new graphic so you are entering the Giveaways you want.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Marriage Mondays: Our Hardest Year

We are going on 7 years of marriage and while we have been through some shit, our first year of marriage still remains our hardest year of marriage.  For a while, I've always shared this was my hardest year but it dawned on me this past weekend as I wrote this Blog post that I've never asked my husband what was his hardest year.  To my surprise, he actually said that our first year was the hardest!  For some reason, I didn't expect him to say that because like I said... we've been through some shit.  And, the funniest part is that his reason why is EXACTLY the same as my reason why.  Go figure.


We had a beautiful wedding, we really did.  All the planning up to it was perfect + the wedding itself came out better than I could have ever expected.  Then the wedding was just OVER and it was back to living life together but now we were married.  From the time I came home, I expected to see some miraculous change from boyfriend/fiance to now Husband.  I expected our marriage to be just as beautiful as our wedding day but without the effort.  What I forgot was that our wedding was beautiful because of all the work we had put into it.  GIRL, I expected this man to come home with roses daily/weekly to surprise me... I expected him to treat me like his Queen regardless of how I treated him... I literally expected him to change overnight.  Stop talking to your friends so much, I'm your Wife now.  Stop watching Sports so much + watch what WE want to watch, I'm your Wife now.  Spend all your free time with me, I'm your Wife now.  The arguing and silent treatment was constant in our first year.  I would call my cousin (who is also my best friend) + cry on the phone to her while staring at my wedding dress still hanging in my room.  That dress hung in my room for months because it was metaphorically me hanging on to the perfection I expected us to turn into overnight.  Then one day, I decided to talk to Steven about how I was feeling.  No surprise, it started another argument but this argument ended in him trying to prove me wrong.  I told him that I was concerned because we don't seem to even be friends with each other anymore.  He seemed more dedicated to his college and work friendships than he was to us.  His reply was that your Wife doesn't have to be your friend and followed up by saying "watch, I'm going to ask some of my friends that are married"!  To his surprise, not only did every single person say that their Wife was one of their friends but they all said that their Wife was their BEST friend.  That was an eye opener for Steven and definitely a pivotal moment in our marriage.  He looked at me + apologized for not being the friend I needed and asked me how he could be a better friend.

Now for him, things were very different but also the same.  He came home from the wedding with tons of expectations in mind as well.  According to him, he thought a "good Wife" should be taking care of the house, keeping it clean, cooking and taking care of the kids.  On top of that he also expected a "good Wife" to be Fucking + Sucking on demand (his words, not mine).  NONE of this was happening.  I had just started a new job that I was struggling at so I was giving 150% there and probably 25% to the care of my home (it doesn't add up, I know).  Nobody was dying because the house wasn't clean.  Then this man would go the entire day without a quick text to say "hey" or "how's your day" but wonder why there was no connection once we both got home from work.  At first, I thought it was because he was swamped at work but our phone bill proved that to be a lie.  He was using up ALL our data playing games with his friends and had chats a mile long every single day with every single friend.  Of course, I wasn't included in that.  We were both disappointed in each other for different reasons but nobody wanted to make the first move.


Once Steven was open to the idea that your Wife can be your Best Friend, a lot changed.  We talked more, connected more and LAUGHED more.  Things in our every day life began fitting together seamlessly.  How we parented improved because we were just happier people around each other.  The reality is that we began putting in the real work necessary to have a happy marriage.  Did this solve all of our problems, definitely not because shit got real years later but it began to lay the foundation needed to get through the tougher areas down the road.  Our sex life improved as I challenged myself to not say NO for an entire month.  That one month changed our sex life in ways I never thought possible but that's another story for another time.  It took us both wanting to improve not only for each other, but for ourselves + our children.  Looking back at that first year, we were soooooo selfish!  I wish I could go back and not waste a whole year (plus some) being as unhappy as we were over things that were easily fixable.  But hey, you live + you learn.

For all the married women/couples out there, what was your hardest year of marriage?  It doesn't necessarily have to be a "bad" year but which year challenged you the most?  Let's chat below.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Life Update|| Part 1

Well Happy New Year!  Dramatic as I may be, that's certainly how I feel the speed of this year is going.  So much has been going on personally that I have definitely neglected my Blog.  Instead of just coming back with a Fall Skincare post as if I haven't left you hanging for months, I figured we could catch up.

As most of you know, I accepted a job opportunity back in July at a hotel.  I was so hopeful + really thought "this was the one".  GIRL, this couldn't have been further from the truth.  I know I haven't shared yet + that's because I wanted to be further removed from the incident because I truly wanted to cut someone.  LOL.  So the big question is "Why did I leave that job"?  Well, let me ask you something... if the company you were working for was having financial issues to the point that your pay was late + there was a chance that you wouldn't get paid... what would you do?  Yes, it was that bad.  As an Influencer, late payments is something I have to deal with time and time again.  If I wanted to stay on this struggle bus, I could just continue working for my damn self.  It started off pretty simple + innocent... the company didn't have direct deposit.  I thought this was odd but my husband reassured me that a company having direct deposit for only two employees (myself + my boss) is an expense that they may not want to take on yet.  Okay, fair enough... but then.  BUT THEN... my boss told me that none of the hotels with this company have direct deposit!  So, it had nothing to do with it being a new hotel that was not open yet or had enough employees.  Strike 1. 

By the end of my first week, my boss opened up to me + shared that she could no longer deposit the payroll checks from the company at her personal bank because they had bounced so many times.  Her bank refused to accept them anymore.  So, she had to drive about an hour away to go cash the checks at their Mom + Pop bank.  This specific time, she got to the bank and THEIR bank refused to the cash the check because the funds were not available.  GIIIIRL.  Strike 2. 

It was at this point that my energy started to shift + I began questioning if this was the right decision.  Sure, the move would look great on my resume (opening a new hotel) but could I really deal with uncertainties when it came to my pay.  I don't know her financial health but I did know that my household could not afford for a check that size to bounce in my account.  The next week I come into the office to find out that construction on the hotel had halted because the workers refused to come in until they were paid.  How in the world are you not paying the construction workers if you're opening a new hotel?!  What sense does that make?!  After listening in on a meeting between the Owners + the General Contractor (being nosy AF), I overheard that the Construction Company was owed over 100K in payroll.  WHAT?!  Strike 3. 

At this point, I was one foot out the door.  The following week was finally my first pay week... here we go!  Checks were suppose to be ready on Tuesday.  You didn't read that wrong, checks are ready on Tuesday... not Thursday or Friday.  Moving along, so checks were suppose to come in on Tuesday.  The owner called and said they wouldn't be ready until Wednesday.  After all I had put up with, I talked myself into thinking that one more day isn't the end of the world.  Wednesday comes and the Owner walks into the office.  My boss approaches him and asks for the checks to which he replies, "I forgot them at the office, you'll get them tomorrow".  Even after my boss offered to go get them from his office, he replied "No, you guys have work to do... you'll get it tomorrow".  It was at this point that Candice began packing up her shit.  Yes, now I'm talking about myself in the third person because I literally felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.  I packed up all of my shit, left to lunch, went home and sent them my resignation letter. 

I have very little patience for anything but children so for me to have stayed during this nonsense for 3 weeks is a huge deal, you don't even know.  Yes, I went back the next day to pick up my check but that was the last straw for me.  Had I accepted that treatment, they would have continued down the same path they had done with my boss... bounced checks, late checks, no checks, etc.  Nope, I'm good love, enjoy!  My apologies for taking this long to share but as I promised, it was worth it wasn't it?!  What would you have done?

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

It Only Took Nearly Two Years:
Our Gallery Wall with MixTiles

I am constantly looking on Pinterest for easy ways to spruce up my home, either easily or on the low low.  Gallery Walls always stood out to me because it seemed like the perfect way to add character without doing too much.  THE PROBLEM:  I am not a Gallery Wall person.  What's a Gallery Wall person, you ask?  Someone who loves to measure precisely, scour stores for the perfect frames and spend hours going through pictures to order.  Thats not me!!  So when I found MixTiles while scrolling on Instagram one day and saw how easy creating a Gallery Wall could be, I was all types of excited.  You all know how much I love a good peel + stick situation from my project I did with Smart Tiles last year.  And, now I have a Peel + Stick Gallery Wall... The Lord knows my heart and continues to bless me with opportunities created just for me.  

Now on to the Gallery Wall itself.  I thought I was going to be annoyed by having to use an App to place my order.  Rolled my eyes and everything but turns out the joke was on me because it might have been easier to do it on the App than it would have on the computer.  The process was super user friendly and easily allowed me to switch out pictures, crop and even add a filter to specific images if I wanted to.  The only thing I wish it allowed was for me to 'preview' what the pictures would look like hung.  I'm a little high maintenance when it comes to this type of stuff so that part may not bother you at all.  To be honest, if I could have someone come peel and stick them to the wall, that would be nice too.  LOL.

Once I chose the images from my phone and placed the order, I sat back and did nothing.  Figured I had a week or so before they arrived, so no need to rush out and get any other accessories I might need for the wall.  So joke was on me (AGAIN), when they arrived a whole two days later.  I've never been upset because an order arrived too quick in the mail but I felt a way because I had been lazy + wasn't prepared.  Nonetheless, I unboxed and immediately began to arrange the pictures on my floor in the way that I would want them on the wall.  They stayed on the floor for another week.  Judge your Momma.

When it came time to finally hang the photos, I was so happy with how easy it was.  No measuring, just eyeballing.  You can measure for preciseness if you want... that's just not my thing!  It took MAYBE 30 minutes and I really don't think it took THAT long.  I ran out to Home Goods and Home Sense to see if I could find some accent pieces but when I found the 'This is Us' sign, I felt like I didn't need anything else really.  Sometimes less is more and in this case, it was.

So I hope you enjoy my Gallery Wall + it inspires you to make your own.  MixTiles gave me a coupon code for you to use if you do: MCSHOPPE15.  Don't forget to send me pictures when you create yours!  Until next time... XOXOMCS
Thursday, August 23, 2018

Sephora Sale: In Case You Needed Help Spending More Money...

Sephora Sale is back and I always laugh as I create these posts because essentially, I'm helping you spend even more money than you were going to spend already.  I appreciate you allowing me into your wallet this way + clearly we are closer than close at this point.  I've gone back and forth with whether I should share suggestions OR share what products I have in my own cart.  I decided to just do both PLUS include links to previous Sephora Sale posts I've done.  You will have all types of options to choose from, GOOD LUCK.

What's In My Cart:

DIOR BACKSTAGE FOUNDATION- Don't ask me why I need another foundation, just don't... because I don't have an answer for you.  You might as well be asking me why the sky is blue.  But I have heard nothing but good things about this buildable medium coverage foundation and I feel like I need to add it to my never ending collection of foundations.  Plus it has nearly 5 Stars on Sephora and you guys know how I feel about anything that has nearly 5 Stars on Sephora... it must be hella good!

BOBBI BROWN PRIMER PLUS MATTIFIER- Does this one even need to be explained?  Yes?  Okay, well first of all it's Bobbi Brown and I have NEVER been let down by this brand.  Like, EVER.  Second of all, it's a Primer that also helps with mattifying my oily ass face.   Lastly, it has 5 Stars on Sephora.  Drops mic.

GLOW RECIPE WATERMELON GLOW JELLY SHEET MASK-  I can't lie, I've definitely been sucked in by the whole watermelon skincare craze.  Not only do I love the scent but the benefits are BOMB AF as well.  This mask is suppose to help with Uneven Skintone + Uneven Texture which are two of my skin concerns always being acne prone.  I know everyone loves the overnight mask but I'm not fond of overnight masks so this one is right up my alley.  

PAT MCGRATH LABS LIP FETISH LIP BALM- Listen, from the time I found out that Pat McGrath was a self-made Billionaire, I've wanted to purchase from the line.  It almost seems like me buying one of her products puts me at close proximity to becoming a billionaire as well.  I know that logic doesn't make sense, just let me be with my dreams!  I've heard nothing about this product but the packaging is dope and it's a clear balm... how bad can a clear balm be?!

Personal Product Suggestions:

ORIGINS CLEAR IMPROVEMENT CHARCOAL HONEY MASK- This mask needs to be a staple in everyone's arsenal who deals with acne.  Dry skin?  Use this.  Oily Skin?  Use this.  Normal skin?  Leave me alone.  Unlike most charcoal masks, this one does not leave your skin feeling tight and dry.  Personally, I have to be careful using drying masks all over my face because my entire face is not oily.  In fact, some parts are actually more normal-dry and using drying products can cause even more problems in those areas.  The honey in this can provide hydration while the charcoal agents pull out that guck from your skin.  It's a match made in skincare heaven.

FRESH BLACK TEA KOMBUCHA FACIAL TREATMENT ESSENCE- About a month ago, a friend asked me how I've been liking this product and honestly my answer was, "I'm not sure because I can't really see what it's doing"!  After talking with her, it dawned on me that I also wasn't using this product consistently.  I have so many Essences + Toners that I wasn't really using this one much and I was also using them interchangeably.  Then I recently learned that Essences + Toners are not one in the same and in fact, you can use BOTH in your skincare routine.  Well that changed EVERYTHING and I began using this Essence more consistently, in conjunction with my Toners.  GIRL.  For this Essence to be so gentle on the skin, it's definitely a heavy hitter WHEN USED CONSISTENTLY.  I can't exaggerate that enough because I honestly didn't notice anything happening when using it every now and then but isn't that the case with anything in life.  No one sees results when doing something every now and then.  Consistency wins every time + that's the case with skincare as well.

PINROSE SECRET GENIUS- I first tried this scent as a sample that my friend received in her Sephora order.  I was hooked at first sniff.  I believe Sephora puts this in the Warm + Spicy family for those wondering what it smells like.  I would also say that it smells like a nice cuddle under your favorite blanket with a strong man next to a fireplace.  But since, that isn't the best description for a scent, let's just go with what Sephora says.  Worn alone, it wears well for an entire 8 hour day but I still like to pair it with my Malin + Goetz Dark Rum for a nice layered scent.  These two together cannot be stopped.  Don't @ me about this!

SEPHORA COLLECTION MASK APPLICATOR-  I don't know how I came across this tool on Sephora but as soon as I saw it, I knew I needed it.  YES, NEEDED IT!  Every time I need to apply a mask from a jar to my face, I wish I had some sort of brush or applicator.  This one fit the bill.  I love that the other end helps remove the mask + provides a little exfoliation while doing so.  I think I might actually go ahead and grab another one to apply my face moisturizers because at  $8, why not?!  Yes, I could use the same one to do both but that seems too easy... let's complicate things a little here. LOL.

DRUNK ELEPHANT MARULA OIL + MAKE UP FOR EVER ULTRA HD SKIN TINT-  I've spoken in depth about both of these products in a recent blog post here.  To save time and not be redundant, you can click to read my reviews on them there.  Long story short, YOU NEED THEM.  If that sounds a bit drastic then you at least need to give them a try!  The Drunk Elephant Marula Oil is a little pricey so that's a product I would definitely grab during the sale.  Don't say I never tried to help you save money.

Okay so I promised that I would share some other Sephora Sale posts in case you just had an itch to spend even more money so here they go.

HAPPY SHOPPING and don't forget to tag me in your purchases whether you grab any of these suggestions or not!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Summer Favorites
#sundayskincare edition

I love 'Favorites round up Blog Posts' but the one thing I don't love about them is how LONG they usually are.  So, I will try to keep this one as short as I can while giving you the important deets!

At first I couldn't really determine if this product was really making a difference in my skin.  It just felt like a step in my skincare routine that I could do without.  But then I started noticing the texture of my skin improving over time.  It's not an overnight miracle worker but it's definitely a heavy hitter when it comes smoothing out your texture and helping to diminish dark spots.  Kombucha in my tummy and Kombucha on my skin, yes please!

I'm not sure if Drunk Elephant figured out how to bottle Unicorn tears or what but this stuff is worth every drop.  Now ya'll now I'm oily AF but I am very specific in how I use this in my routine.  Either I use it at night and wake up with skin that looks like the baby Jesus blessed it Himself.  Or, I use it during the day with the D-Bronzi Serum for a "no makeup" makeup look!  I've been using it for my no makeup look A LOT this Summer and absolutely LOVE the beautiful glow it gives my skin.  I will say that I tried using this under my makeup and found my foundation slipping around quite a bit once my natural oils started to come through around midday.  

3.  KIEHL'S Clearly Corrective Line

Listen to me.  When I say this ENTIRE line is a secret gem, I mean it!  Remember, a few months back when Kiehl's invited me to learn more about their apothecary personalized serums?  Well, I've been quietly using and testing these products since then!  First off, the Clearly Corrective Brightening + Exofoliating Daily Cleanser is now my Staple exfoliator when I'm not using my Clarisonic.  Use it consistently, and you will notice your breakouts become nonexistent.  Be careful using the Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution in sensitive areas because this stuff is no joke!  It's potent, strong and IT WORKS.  I'm VERY careful to only use this in specific areas when needed.  And lastly, the Brightening + Smoothing Moisture Treatment is probably the first of it's kind that I've ever used.  It has a Jell-O like consistency but melts onto your skin to provide the perfect canvas.  If you come by a value set that includes these (3) products specifically then GRAB IT.  Otherwise, trust me when I say you need these if you're battling hyperpigmentation.

The Summer season isn't an Oily girl's favorite season when it comes to makeup.  It's a constant struggle to find the products that won't make me look like a frying pan.  So when a brand comes out with a new foundation product in the middle of the Summer, I pay close attention!  I expect it to be formulated to wear well throughout a hot day AND be lightweight.  Both of these foundations from Make Up For Ever are just that!  HALLELU!  The Matte Velvet Skin has a new package and reformulation that I am LOVING.  No more cake face and no more heavy feeling foundation at the end of the day.  You heard me right!  It still feels lightweight at the end of a long hot summer day.  I've been using the Matte Velvet Skin Foundation only on my trouble areas as it's (true) Full Coverage and I don't want to look like I'm photoshoot ready by using it all over.  I love the way it looks more like skin and less like a mask despite how much it covers.  Now the Ultra HD Skin Tint is the total opposite when it comes to coverage.  It gives you a nice sheer (think BB Cream) foundation look which I love to use in the center of my face.  Wearing this in the center of my face with the Matte Velvet Skin Foundation along the perimeter of my face gives me the PERFECT coverage.

The lavender shade of this Primer in the bottle had me a little skeptical at first, can't lie.  It just doesn't seem brown girl friendly at first.  So, I did what any of us would do and applied it to the back of my hand to see what it was all about but turns out, it does go on sheer!  Thank you Jesus!!  Not only does it apply sheer but it totally improves the appearance of your skin before you even put foundation on.  You probably guessed it already, but this is amazing with your "No Makeup" Makeup look or if you actually plan on wearing no makeup, LOL.  I haven't used a Primer in a long time because I generally don't see a true benefit usually but this one has had a reoccurring role in my daily look!  Love, love, love using this with a pump of the Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Serum, OMG... it looks so bomb + natural.

Well I'm going to leave you with these recommendations for now so I don't have us all broke!!  Believe me, this list could be a mile long but I'm trying to be a better friend to you.  Now if you have questions about other products, send them over.  That's totally different!

XOXO Candice
Friday, July 6, 2018

if you're attending ESSENCE FEST
(or any festival really)

This week women everywhere left behind their cares and worries to head to New Orleans for Essence Festival.  While I have been one of these women in the past, I decided to stay home this Summer as it's my last full Summer at home with my kids.  You read that right... I'm heading back to work this Fall!  So my priority was spending as much time with my family as possible vs attending Essence Fest for a 3rd year in a row.  I have considered the whole '3rd times a charm' adage + what that may have meant for me but I also considered how much my kids will appreciate this time when they look back.  Anyways, back to why I'm here writing this blog post to begin with!  For those of you who are headed to Essence Fest (or later this month, Curl Fest), I have a few good tips that you will thank me for later.

1. To Stay in the City or Not...
This tip may be a little late because I know anyone attending Essence Fest probably reserved their room months ago.  I've stayed on the perimeter of the city (Metairie) as well as in the middle of everything (Royal Sonesta on Bourbon St.) before.  I highly suggest that you stay in the middle of everything BUT grab a courtyard view room.  It may seem great to be a part of the fun throwing beads down with a street view room but what's not fun is trying to go to sleep when there's a band playing outside your window.  They say New York is the city that never sleeps + that may be true but it doesn't hold a candle to the parades you will find going down Bourbon Street at 2AM!  Grab a courtyard view and you won't even know what's going on outside most of the time but you can easily leave your room + go join the fun if you want.

2.  Uber/Lyft
Unless you're driving around New Orleans yourself (which I don't recommend), you will likely be using Uber or Lyft to get around.  Guess what?  So will everyone else!  So when your Uber driver is trying to find you + all you can tell them is that you're the cute black girl on the corner in a sundress... girl, your frustration will begin to kick in faster than the Louisiana heat does every morning.  TIP: keep a solid bright scarf with you at all times.  When your Uber driver calls you to see where you are, you'll be able to wave your bright orange scarf in the air to direct him towards you.  Now, it still may take them 15 minutes to drive a block because of the crowds but it beats them passing you + having to go all the way around the block again.  Nobody has time for that when you're practically melting!

3.  Cash is King
This one is easy!  Always carry enough cash on you to feed yourself + a friend (there's always somebody who only has their card) but not enough to get robbed.  Don't be walking the streets at 2AM with a bankroll of cash because that, my dear, is not safe at all.  Keep $100 in cash on yourself at all times.  Yes, everyone takes cards these days but machines go down all the time and sometimes the line for cash payers is MUCH shorter than the one for card payers (because everyone is using their card to pay).  Lastly, the street artists are amazing and you will find yourself wanting to leave a tip for just about all of them after they put on their concert!  Yes, it does feel like a concert because they are THAT good.  So, having a little cash on you for this will come in handy as well.

Miss Julee

Creator of @ChicBusyMoms
4. Be Persistent + Network
For the Influencers/Bloggers, this tip is for you!  Hopefully before you traveled to New Orleans, you made a game plan for the events to attend.  Occasionally, your point of contact may become busy + unavailable to you especially if the festival is underway.  Reaching them during the festival may not seem possible but I implore you to not give up.  If you want to be in the room, go anyways.  There is a HIGH chance that the contact who was suppose to get you in will be a gatekeeper.  I'm not a fan of name dropping but if you're going to do it, do it when you're trying to get into an event that you were suppose to be at.  Whoever is checking names, likely knows your point of contact and can easily confirm.  Now, this does NOT work if your name was never suppose to be on the list.  In that case, abort mission and go home!  But don't come all the way to New Orleans + give up because people are too busy to take your call or return your text.  It's pretty likely that they're not doing it on purpose so BE PERSISTENT.

Mom lived her best life as you can see! LOL
5.  Find the Balance: Social Media vs IRL
My first year in New Orleans, I failed miserably with this one.  I wanted to capture EVERYTHING, and my girl Amber who I went with wanted ALL the pictures.  Every 2 seconds, we saw a wall or backdrop that we wanted a picture in front of.  If I'm not mistaken, we even bickered a few times because I was over it after a while and the heat was something I had never experienced.  Here's something to keep in mind... be intentional about the content you're trying to grab!  You're not going to post 987 pictures, nor will you need that many for a blog post so don't waste your time trying to grab ALL the images.  At the most, you MIGHT use 10 of those pictures and that's including #throwback content.  I know it's tempting to take a picture in front of all those pretty walls but you will drive yourself crazy... and your friends who have to take the picture.  Instagram Stories is even bigger now than it was then + while you may want to share your every second with your audience, it will take away from YOUR experience if you're not careful.  What worked really well for me was capturing the video content for Instagram Stories/Snapchat and then editing later.  We all know that bulk of the time we spend Insta-Storying is editing + adding captions so try and do that later.  I found using the time in the Uber going from place to place or while waiting in line at a restaurant was the perfect time.  This way while you are in the moment/at the event, you aren't sitting down in a corner trying to put finishing touches on Instagram Stories.

I can't wait to see everyone's point of view from Essence Fest this year while I'm back home.  No FOMO here because I'm still very grateful for the opportunity I have with my family but I will definitely be tuned in!  If you can think of any more tips to share, definitely leave them below.  Whether it's Essence Fest or another Festival, I'm sure they will still be applicable.
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

None of Your Faves Look Like Me?
A Talk on Inclusivity + Diversity

Woke up on a sunny Wednesday morning, checked my email and what do you know... yet another reminder that Black women are underrated.  If you follow me over on Instagram Stories then you know I received an email from Planoly (as did hundreds of thousands of others) sharing their Favorite Moms for Mother's Day.  Love the gesture because Moms really deserve the recognition so I excitedly scrolled the list to see if there was anyone I recognized, anyone I could relate to... you know, anyone that looked like ME.  And, to my surprise there was not ONE black woman.  First thought was that this must be a mistake because all the bomb ass Black Bloggers who are Moms that I know of, one of them had to make the list.  Scrolled again but nope.  Not one.  I'm tired of this shit so I shared my frustration over on Instagram Stories AND tagged Planoly.  And, not that fake tag that everyone knows isn't really tagging anyone.  Nah, I made sure it had that underline so that they would see my story because I need to know HOW + WHY nobody who looked like me made your list.


removed information that included actual name(s)

Okay, now that we're all caught up let's recap.  This is yet another 'mistake' where 'we' were left out but unintentionally, of course.  You know sometimes you have to force something before it becomes habit.  So if every company (that is or may have an issue with this) has to set forth a protocol that requires them to always include Blacks in order for it to become INTENTIONAL then so be it.  Because how many mistakes and mishaps are going to happen if proper procedures aren't put in place so it doesn't happen again?  Now moving on to Brandy Pham's response, Founder + Creative Director of Planoly.  I will speak for myself when I say that Asians are WOC, yes, but they do not look like me.   Instead of (4) White, (1) Asian and (1) Racially Ambiguous (not sure what her race is... could we not have found one (God forbid TWO) black Mom(s) to throw in there?  There is nothing wrong with all WOC (Women of Color) including Asians being used, but my issue is that none of the women in the Promo Email look like ME.  With ALL the Black creatives who are Mother's like myself, you mean to tell me that we couldn't find ONE?!

Lastly, the Email header is yet another coined term from black culture: "We Got it From Our Momma"!  I kid you not...

I can overstand a Momma needing to go on Maternity leave and take care of their babies... shoot, I've done it 3 times!  Besides yourself, someone (if not multiple people) on your team should have caught this.  This is part of the problem!!  Not enough people in these decision making meetings are seeing this as a problem.  I received numerous responses about building our own table to sit at and that's all well + good.  There are quite a few tables already built by women who like me or are currently being built but I'm getting tired of having to boycott businesses left and right.  It sounds to me like Planoly made a poor judgement call in the selection of Bloggers chosen for this email BUT there has to be a way to stop this from happening over and over and over again.  That's the part that is wearing at me... the constant "oops" "our bad" "we made a mistake" "we'll do better".  JUST DO BETTER!  

I'm sore as hell from working out last night, moody from cutting sweets + incorporating a better diet and now THIS.  Candice didn't need this today.  NOT today.

Lets chat soon.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Getting Personal with
Kiehls (Georgetown)

Last week I was invited by the Kiehls Georgetown location to learn more about their Apothecary Preparations Service.  Picture no longer having to use a product that addresses 'most' of your skincare concerns but instead addresses your exact skincare concerns.  That's exactly what this service does!  In recent years, there have been many brands that have created custom foundation options which have definitely peeked my attention.  But what's better than personalized makeup?  PERSONALIZED SKINCARE, duh!
Photo Credit: Katherine Elizabeth Photography

The consultation at Kiehl's went much faster than I thought it would!  No thanks to DC traffic, I arrived nearly 25 minutes and I couldn't have been more frustrated.  Thankfully, the staff at Kiehl's was more than understanding and we immediately began my consultation.  During the appointment, a skin chart was provided so that I could point out my greatest skincare concerns.  Two targeted complexes are assigned to the personalized serum in order to address the top two concerns addressed.  There are 5 targeted complexes that can be added to the base which is a skin strengthening concentrate made of squalene and a skin lipid complex.  Options for the targeted complexes are: Wrinkle Reducing (Retinol Concentrate + Pro Retinol), Texture Refining (Vitamin F + LHA), Visible Redness Neutralizing (Sunflower Seed Extract + Vitamin E), Pore Minimizing (Samphira Extract + Salicylic Acid) and Brightening (Vitamin C + Scotch Pine Extract).
Kiehl's Apothecary Service
My top 2 concerns were Brightening + Texture Refining which addresses the aftermath of being acne prone.  The Kiehl's Targeted Complexes are super potent and are not meant to be applied directly to the skin hence why they're diluted with the Skin Strengthening Concentrate Base.  I've only used the Serum for a few days so I can't report back much yet but I will update after a month or so.  Get this though... the Personalized Serum is meant to last 6 months if used 2x/day.  SIX FREAKING MONTHS!!  So although, this service isn't cheap ($95), it's totally worth it to me given how long the product should last you.  And, while I can't report any "results" yet, I can say that my skin hasn't had any adverse side effects yet which doesn't take my sensitive skin long to do (usually within 24 hours).  Using the products that Kiehl's sent me home with to complete the skincare regimen, there's not one that my skin isn't loving right now.  I thought the Ultra Facial Cream might be too heavy for my oily skin but it's surprisingly fairly lightweight despite the name.
Personalized Serum Provided for Free to Review

Kiehl's is an OG in the skincare game with ratings + reviews that scream high praises.  So, it doesn't surprise me that it's one of the first brands to provide bespoke services that address skincare concerns.  If you're like me and you prefer personalized ANYTHING, you're going to love this service.  Apothecary Preparations should be offered in all Kiehl's stores by now so check out the location by you + make an appointment.
Monday, April 16, 2018

Update: Becoming My Own CEO
Keeping it Real || My Story

I cannot believe it is freaking 2018 guys.  It doesn't seem like I resigned nearly 3 years ago, but here we are 3 years later and we're not living in a Shelter somewhere.  We made it!  I'm sure you didn't expect for me to say that but these past few years have been far from easy.  Very rewarding but not easy at all!  We've moved, had marital issues and even the kids struggled here and there.  It's been a hard ass 3 years but there were SO many lessons learned + even more struggles than I care to share but I will share a few.  Why?  Well I read a Blog Post over on about what it takes to become an Influencer Full Time.  And it made me realize that what my life may be perceived as from the outside could possibly make others who are interested in working for themselves think it's easy.  It's NOT.  So, while there have been many who have shared their "truth" about being a Blogger/Influencer, no one will have my story.  Here it goes...

In 2015, I resigned from my job as a Director of Sales & Marketing because I just had this overwhelming feeling to give more time to my family.  Loved my job but I was miserable thinking that Nannies had raised my children for the majority of their childhood.  Amazing Nannies (Sandra if you're reading this, we still love you!), but it wasn't ME.  The first few months after I resigned, I worked with a Manager to assist me in getting paid opportunities.  At the time, I was making MAYBE $600-800/month which was literally a fraction of what I made working in the corporate sector.  After a while, I realized that I couldn't afford to pay a fee to a manager when I was already bringing in so little.  Then came the real work of bringing in the money myself.  First thing I had to change was doing so much Natural Hair content because my hair was suffering.  Not because of bad products but your hair takes a beating when you're styling + manipulating it with new products almost weekly.  I had to get creative because my income was still helping to pay bills so the first thing I did was start incorporating my family more.  Whether it was styling my girls hair, sharing what brands we used around the house, what we ate, clothing... ANYTHING!  I opened life with my family up and the opportunities came in.  Notice how I say came in and not poured in.

Before Influencing Full Time (Natural Hair)
After Weekly/Bi-Weekly Natural Hair Campaigns- DAMAGED
Decided to Cut my Hair + Change Directions

Hair Began Flourishing Again

Leaving my job cut our household income in half because my husband and I almost had the same salary at the time.  It was damn hard especially living in Northern VA but we didn't want to move the family.  There were months where I had to call the Auto Loan company and ask them to push that month's payment to the end of the Loan Term.  I can't even count how many months our rent was late or how many payment plans we had to set up to keep our cellphones or cable on.  Do you know how to make $50 last a week for a family of 5?  We do!  And in the midst of all of this, we battled with keeping the child support I received for Taylor + Gregory on time + current which took a toll on our marriage.  Where was the money?  Two Words.  Net 60.

Getting paid from brands is an entirely different process than getting paid from a Corporate job mainly because it's not predictable.  The contract says they will pay you in 60 days which is already a hurdle if you need the money NOW but that's your problem, not theirs.  60 days comes + you still haven't been paid so this is where it gets sticky.  I once had a brand rep tell me that the 60 days didn't include weekends because she doesn't work weekends.  After payment was made, I had to stop working with that brand for over a year + only resumed working for them when I knew I would be dealing with a more honest rep.  I've had brands wait until the last day and THEN send the check.  Sure, late payment penalties can be added to punish the Brand for the late payment but that doesn't change the fact that your rent was due on the 1st!  These are the hard lessons I had to learn early on and no one ever shared this part with me.  Talking money + payment in the Influencer world is so hush hush unless it's to brag.  No one ever wants to share the nitty gritty and so you learn as you go.

We Know Dark Days, We Know Hard Times...

With time, came growth and with growth came more money... HALLELU!  My husband and I both saw the value in me being at home so going back to work was possible but a last resort.  There was a lot of pressure on us to figure out a better strategy + that's when I realized that I had to put my skills to work for my husband.  First, I helped him realize that he should be making WAY more at his current job.  That man is a dedicated worker, almost to a fault... he deserved.  With my encouragement, and his work ethic, he negotiated an increase that replace 50% of my previous income.  SCORE!  For a while, that did the job.  It was like a band-aid.  It wasn't long before we realized that we needed even more money if we wanted to elevate our lifestyle at all.  Nobody wants to struggle forever!  So, I became his head hunter and began applying to jobs for him and sending emails left and right.  All he needed to do was show up to the interviews and nail it.  Teamwork literally made the Dream work.

We are finally doing well financially and guess what?  It's just about time for me to head back to the corporate sector because the family is also doing well.  Didn't expect to hear that huh?  Yeah, I miss doing what I did in the hotel industry and I've been wanting to go back for some time now.  If you follow me on Instagram then you probably remember the time I went back to work for a day.  LOL.  What can I say?  I have standards and they weren't met *kanye shrug*.  But come this Fall, I should be back in someone's office making a steady bi-monthly paycheck ALONG with having a nice amount of disposable income from Blogging.

I say all this to say that while none of this would've been possible without the support + income from my husband, it was still a struggle.  We did learn a lot from those struggles but I find it my duty to share the not-so-good since I do share the good with you all.  I've received messages from Single Moms who want to quit their job and "do what I do".  No ma'am, not with those babies depending on you.  Stack your money and make a solid plan before you take any action.  Not saying you need to spend a year on this but just BE READY.  And, that can mean different things to different people depending on your lifestyle and goals.  Health Insurance is expensive.  Retirement is expensive.  Kids heading to college soon are expensive.  So, I hope my personal journey sheds a light on the hard truths about Blogging + Influencing.   If you have any specific questions, ask them below.

Let's chat later. XOXOMCS.
Thursday, April 5, 2018

Easy Spring Updates
(featuring) Smart Tiles

Spring is here, seems like it took forever, but it's here finally!  Longer days, warmer weather + if you're like me then it's time to spruce up the home a bit.  Now when I say "spruce", I mean swapping out a throw or a pillow.  Changing up the bedspreads, painting a wall or two, and lightening colors throughout the home.  Recently, I found a quick solution to change up my kitchen in a temporary way that doesn't cost me a fortune thanks to Smart Tiles.   If you change your mind often or live in a temporary living space (rent) like myself, you will love this option!  Take a peek below and see how nicely my kitchen was transformed in a matter of hours.



I chose the Muretto Alaska Tile backsplash to lighten up the kitchen from the dark countertops + give some contrast.  I think it definitely did the trick and added that extra oomph that the space needed.  Being that I rent this home, it's important not to spend a ton of money on updates + backsplash isn't something that you can take with you.  So being able to do this with temporary backsplash and brighten up an area sans permanent changes made me so happy!  Huge thanks to Smart Tiles for sending me these tiles to update my kitchen.  I'm already looking at ways to do this with the bathrooms in my home using their new Metro Ava Collection.  It's freaking blush pink subway tiles guys!!  Crossing my fingers that my husband lets me do at least one bathroom.

Let me know if you decided to update your home this Spring with Smart Tiles!  I promise you, it's so worth it.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sprouts Ellicott City, MD
is FINALLY Open!!

Photo: @mycandishoppe

Photo: @mycandishoppe

After a few weeks of impatient waiting (on my part), Sprouts in Ellicott City, MD is finally open today!  Last night, I had the opportunity to tour (and shop, let's not forget that part) the store during their 'Pre-Grand Opening' event and OMG... I wasn't ready at all.  I had an idea of what to expect but definitely was not entirely prepared until I walked in.  My friend Sommar described it perfectly though... It's as if Whole Foods, Wegman's and Trader Joe's had a threesome.  Sprouts would be the baby!  Nevermind that no one knows who the father is... it's the perfect analogy.

While the store seems to have almost everything you can want, it's actually only 30,000 sq ft which isn't huge for a grocery store but their priority is being able to serve their customers.  For example, they also don't have aisle numbers!  This is because if you need help finding an item, a team member will walk you directly there.  No more "its on aisle 8 or 9" then you go to aisle 8 and still don't find what you're looking for!  They will even provide a sample of any product right there on the spot if requested.  I experienced this amazing customer service last night actually.  It was 8:00PM when I was finally done shopping + checked out.  Come to find out, the store had closed at 7PM for the Pre-Grand Opening (normal store hours will be 7AM-10PM)!!  I was there for a whole hour shopping not even realizing that the store had closed.  Multiple team members had approached me asking if I needed help but not once did they elude to the fact that my time had come to an end.  LOL.  While I felt horrible for not realizing I had overstayed my welcome, I was also SHOCKED that I was not being rushed out the store!  Everyone was so kind + forgiving... mind blown.

Anyways, here's a peek inside the store to give anyone not familiar with Sprouts an idea of what to expect.  This will likely be my go-to grocery store as I feel like there's less of a chance that I will have to visit multiple grocery stores each week like I do now.  Before now, I would go to Wegmans for the Deli, Produce, Sushi + more... Whole Foods for specialty food + drinks and then Harris Teeter for everything in between.  BTW, I grabbed a Crunchy Crab Sushi Roll for dinner at Sprouts and I could've slapped my Momma (sorry Mom but it was amazing).  Sprouts literally has combined all of what I need from those stores into one location.  They are the epitome of that Tyrese Gif "What More Do You Want From Me?!".  LOL. You really couldn't ask for more!  I anticipate on being there again soon + often so I'm sure we will run into each other.  See ya there.  XOXOMCS

Photo: @mycandishoppe
Low Prices

Photo: @mycandishoppe

Photo: @mycandishoppe
Fresh Produce
Photo: @mycandishoppe
Olive Bar

Photo: @mycandishoppe
Salad Bar

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Wrinkle in Time

"Would the 11 or 12 year old you be proud of the person you are today"?!  This was the question Ava Duvernay asked the theatre on the screen before the movie began.  With a thought provoking question like that coming first, I knew the movie was about to get deep... and I was 100% right!  Although I'm rarely wrong... I just didn't want you think I was surprised, but I digress.  There are so many scenes in the movie that will have you remembering vividly those early teen years.  Back when all you wanted to do was fit in, make friends and be perfect!

This is the perfect movie for the entire family!  As much as I know Kennedy will enjoy it, I'm actually excited for Taylor to see it as I saw so many similarities between her and the main character, Meg Murray.  I wonder if she too will notice when she does see the movie. And it's not just for the girls either which made me happy, so I know Gregory will love it as well.  Mom + Dad will also enjoy and may pick up on some introspective lines + scenes that may go over the children's heads.  In fact, I almost highly recommend that you watch it with your children because I could see a child having quite a few questions throughout the movie.  Kids these days are smarter + this is a whimsical piece but there are moments that may need a bit of explanation from an adult.  And definitely be ready for a couple of lumps in the throat throughout the movie!

Seriously, it's a great story that will bring adults back to their childhoods and remind them that while being a kid was a fairly easy time in life (compared to adulting), it does come with it's own stresses.  I definitely left the theatre thinking about ways I can connect with my own children better so I can be a better resource to them when they need.  No need to address the acting because once again we were blessed with an A1 cast of stars, they were amazing!  Just go ahead and grab your tickets and make it a family night out!  Enjoy.


One night, Charles Wallace, Meg and a fellow classmate, Calvin, meet three otherworldly visitors who have traveled to Earth with an important message for Meg: Her father’s discovery is, in fact, an extraordinary accomplishment, but a darkness has infiltrated the universe and he is now in grave danger. Together they set off in search of Mr. Murry with Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Whatsit as their guides, tessering to worlds beyond their imagination and confronting the powerful, evil energy face-to-face. But in order to save her father, Meg must first overcome her own flaws and insecurities and harness the strength necessary to defeat the darkness...and it is a journey she must come to on her own. (credit: Walt Disney Media)


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Countdown to Sprouts in Ellicott City
The Savings Plan

Here we are, nearly a week away from the Grand Opening of Sprouts in Ellicott City, MD on March 14th so let's prepare.  Yes, it's that serious!  I like to have a game plan in mind when I enter any store, let alone a NEW store I've never shopped at so yeah, let's get this together.  Sprouts was nice enough to send over some key points to keep me on track when I go next week.  They clearly know your girl is forgetful and can use a little list as a reminder.  Let's just hope I don't forget the list!  LOL.

Sprouts Ellicott City
First + foremost, you know I'm all about an app that can save us some coins.  Sprouts has an app that you can download here, and get access to exclusive mobile only coupons that you can clip (virtually) + save on your shopping trips.  Now I know Sprouts is suppose to already be a reasonably priced grocery store, but who doesn't want to save even more money?!  So don't be shy, go on ahead + download that app girl.  While we are in the spirit of saving a coin, there is also a weekly e-circular and Deals of the Month flyer where you can find tons more on sale.  Check those out as well before you take your trip.

Now aside from coupons, there are other things to keep an eye out for.  Sprouts actually has their own brand of products with over 2100 products to choose from.  They sent a box of products over for the family to try out and it was a huge hit!  Granted it was a box loaded with delicious treats + snacks, they were all Sprouts brand and everything was organic or gluten-free or dairy-free.  Basically, I felt like Mom of the Year letting the kids eat the food.  The favorite of the box had to be the Ghost Pepper Salsa which you wouldn't think the kids would love but it was SO flavorful, and yes spicy but in a good way.  A close second would definitely be the Organic Popcorn with Himalayan Pink Salt + Coconut Oil.  This stuff can definitely go toe to toe with your current favorite popcorn guaranteed.  And keep in mind that if you ever try something that you don't like, Sprouts will give you 100% money back guaranteed.  

I'm tired of the being blamed for all the spending because I'm sharing something + influencing you to buy.  So here are some ways you can actually save some coins and feel good about your spending this time.  I'll accept all Thank Yous in the form of more Ghost Pepper Salsa.  Now go + prepare for next week using the check list below + let me know if you have any questions!

Next week is the day!!  Hope you're ready.  XOXOMCS.

Shoppe Owner


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