Happy Father’s Day

Initially I asked the hubby if he’d like to try his hand at writing a blog post and he agreed, but yet here I am writing about Father’s Day. I don’t mind because it gives me an opportunity to tell him what I think of him as a father. He has a five-year-old son and we are expecting our first child — a girl, together. I should preface this by saying I already know what kind of father he’ll be because I’ve seen him with his son. I have no doubt he’ll be a great father to our daughter. So I’m going to break with a traditional post and write a letter to my husband.


 

To my husband on Father’s Day,

The saying that a father is a son’s first hero and a daughter’s first love truly is a precious sentiment. It’s what I know you are to “J” and what you’ll be for our daughter. There are a lot of men in this crazy world who haven’t quite got that all figured out.

Most little boys grow up watching and emulating their fathers. They may pretend to shave while dad is in the mirror or step into his shoes and walk around the house. In the beginning you are who they want to be when they grow up.

You are more than just a father, a hero or a daughter’s first love, but you are also their first teacher. You are the person who will teach J how to serve God, give a firm handshake, tie a neck tie, shave, keep his word, be a gentleman, respect others — especially women.

I love the way he sees you tying a tie on Sunday mornings, slipping into your shoes and suit and taking an active role in the church. He knows at an early age that the foundation of this family is built on Jesus Christ.

You set the example for children by serving God and taking an active role in the church. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

You set the example for children by serving God and taking an active role in the church.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

One of the things that a child never forgets is if you break a promise. However small or big they remember the day, the forgotten promise and most of all how they felt when it happened. I’m glad you are a man of your word. I’m happiest when the two of you can play a game or wrestle before bed because it’s what you told him you’d do.

I smile when he says “thank you daddy I knew you wouldn’t let me down.” Remember the day he said that? (5 year olds the surprising things that come out of their mouths).

I love even more when he sees us holding hands or cuddling or when you open the door for me,  or even when you walk on the outside of the sidewalk. It’s a tiny gesture with big impact. Maybe you do or don’t realize it, but you are teaching him how to be a gentleman. When people say chivalry is dead. I say it’s not true because my husband is a gentleman.

It's alright to show your children that you love, adore each other. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

It’s alright to show your children that you love, adore each other. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Being a father is tough. You have to be tough. You are the one who will give that firm hand when needed. But you will also be as you have always been, of a gentle heart.

We don’t know what kind of personality this little one will have — will she be quiet and reserved like her father or talkative like her mother? Only God knows, but I do hope she has your kind heart.

No doubt, you’ll take our daughter on father-daughter dates, you’ll warn her about little boys who pull her hair, you’ll show her in the mirror what real beauty is, but most of all you’ll show her the type of man she deserves.

I'm enjoying the journey with you as we tackle parenthood together. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

I’m enjoying the journey with you as we tackle parenthood together. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

I know as we embark on parenthood together that you will be the firm hand at times that our children will need, but I know you will have a gentle heart always.

I love you with all that I’ve got.

Shavonne

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Feed Me Seymour — shop and eat on a budget

Let’s face it grocery shopping is a time suck. I’d much rather spend my time eating. It’s important for me to maximize my time in the store so that I can get right down to the end result — the food.
Each week before grocery shopping I map out my meals and include where I plan to shop, as well as how much I estimate it will cost.
I don’t use coupons because honestly I don’t have the time nor the commitment it would take to be a couponer. I do check the Sunday circulars occasionally to see if something jumps out at me and I watch the sale papers for items like laundry detergent or other necessities. I’m sure I could spend 20 cents on $100 worth of groceries, but I’m not in the place to do it, but that’s not to say later I won’t try my hand at it.
The hubby and I have grown tired of the same old foods so we’ve gone out of our way to try new dishes. It’s been a hot few months and we also want to prepare meals that require as little effort as possible. We also regularly have salads and meatless meals.
Recently my doctor “suggested” I eat less carbs (boo). I love my carbs, I’m in love with my carbs. I’m not stick thin and don’t plan to be and I don’t eat low fat, no fat, dairy free, gluten free, carb free. Good luck and more power to the people who do. I’m curvy and I’m a woman who likes to eat what she wants. I have very few food restrictions.
I am lactose intolerant, but I drink Lactaid milk and regularly take Lactaid brand pills. I do try to bake, broil or steam meats instead of frying, but that’s not to say I won’t eat fried chicken or fish or pork chops.
So back to grocery shopping and meal planning. I plan the meal before I buy, it’s that simple. I buy staples every so many months or weeks and it reduces my bill and my time in the store.
Our family’s staples are rice, pasta, cheese, milk, eggs, mayo, wheat bread, onions, salad dressing, chicken and Texas Pete hot sauce. I also regularly keep on hand — lettuce or any salad fixings, spaghetti or alfredo sauce.
If you have staples on hand then you can easily map out a meal based on the ingredients you already have. For example, this week I’m making curry chicken. I have rice, chicken broth, tomato paste, spices, carrots and boneless skinless chicken breasts. The only thing I need is two apples. So essentially this meal will cost me less than $2 and should feed us for at least two days.
Say it with me “leftovers are your friend.”
It’s so much easier to plan meals and then go shopping because it saves time and money. I mean how many times have you bought mayo only to find you already had it? Very rarely do I go to the store without a list.
I usually try to buy groceries on Saturdays beginning around 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. I make my rounds to a local produce market that I frequent — Father & Son Produce, then it’s onto Aldi and of course Food Lion (because I live in the city where it was founded so there’s no shortage of the stores).
I get my vegetables and fruits from the produce market and place them in a cooler with ice packs. There’s only a few food items and products that I’m brand loyal to like Texas Pete. I don’t buy any other hot sauce, ever. But when it comes to snacks, pastas, sauces, and bread it doesn’t really doesn’t matter to me, so Aldi it is. I usually choose my meats from Food Lion.
*Tip: Some stores have days of the month when they mark down meat items. My Food Lion marks down meats at the end of the month so that’s when I “splurge.”
 This week’s meal (if you’re curious) will include:
  • Curry chicken
  • Patty melts
  • Broccoli casserole
  • Garlicky quinoa spinach bowls
  • Shrimp pasta salad
  • Salads and lots of veggies (asparagus, corn, spinach, okra, zucchini)
Curry chicken over rice. Create a meal plan first and then shop and you'll also save on tonight's dinner. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Curry chicken over rice. Create a meal plan first and then grocery shop and you’ll save on tonight’s dinner. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Hopefully you’ve learned a few things vicariously through the way the Walkers shop and plan meals. Share your shopping tips below or via facebook, twitter or instagram.

Love the Skin You’re In

Which company was it that popularized the beauty phrase “love the skin you’re in?” Well it’s taken me a long time to love the skin I have. Just about 30-something years to be exact. Actually, to be honest, I don’t love it, but I’m learning to accept and like it.

I probably have the same gripe as many women and some men — oily skin, acne prone, large pores and I’m always on the search for the “right” cleansers/beauty products.

I wouldn’t consider my skin problem skin. I get the occasional breakout, once a month (ladies you know what I mean) and I have large pores on my cheeks, closest to my nose. I have an oily forehead, chin and cheeks. I’m dry around my mouth and sometimes dry near my jaw line and eyebrows. Confession time: I’m a picker. I know it will likely leave a scar, but I can’t resist and I can tell you it does leave me with hyperpigmentation marks on my chin, cheeks and forehead.

Since I was a preteen I’ve used plenty of brands over the years including Noxema, Clinque, Clearasil, Phisoderm, Proactiv, Ambi, St. Ives, Clean & Clear, Neutrogena and Simple. Some products I gave a chance to work and some were temporary until I could find the next.

Now if you’ve tried any of the those products and they worked for you — great. I’m not knocking any of them I’m just saying they weren’t a fit for me.

Before my September wedding not only did I want to drop a few pounds, but I wanted great skin as I walked down the aisle (what bride doesn’t). So nine months before the wedding I embarked on a new skincare routine.

I did some research and decided to give Desert Essence products a try. What I discovered was the products are not tested on animals, are 100% vegetarian and the bottles and containers are recyclable. Now I’m not going to pretend I look for that in all of my products, but it was a nice bonus.

I’ve continued to use the Thoroughly Clean Face Wash and am on my second bottle. When I first used the cleanser the tea tree in it kind of stung a bit, but now it doesn’t bother me. Although I wouldn’t recommend anyone use it close to their eyes and you will get used to the tingling feeling.

In addition to the face wash, I also bought the Tea Tree Skin Ointment (it’s great for cuticles and dry cracked feet), the Thoroughly Control Oil Control Lotion and the Blemish Touch Stick.

I’ve added to my skincare routine that originally consisted of just the face wash and oil control lotion.


 

Note: Perhaps your routine is simple or maybe it’s a bit more complicated, but this is what I prefer.

Here we go:

  • Desert Essence cleanser. I’ve poured my face wash into a travel spray bottle because it’s easier to handle and uses less product. Most days I dampen my hands, use two squirts and lather up. I work the product in a circular motion down to my neck and wash for about a minute or two and rinse off with a warm washcloth. About two or three days a week I use a facial buffer with product on it and gently scrub my face. I use this in the morning only.
I poured my Desert Essence face wash into an easier to use travel-sized bottle and use a facial buffer about three times a week.  https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

I poured my Desert Essence face wash into an easier to use travel-sized bottle and use a facial buffer about three times a week.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

  • DIY Rose Water/Apple Cider Vinegar toner. I found the recipe online and mixed half a clean bottle with rose water and vinegar. Using a cotton round, I wipe my face and my neck with the toner. I wouldn’t recommend using this close to the eyes. The vinegar smell does dissipate, but if you can’t take the smell then add more rose water. It should last a month and doesn’t require refrigeration or a preservative.
This simple toner is made with generic apple cider vinegar and flower water.  https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

This simple toner is made with generic apple cider vinegar and flower water.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

  • Squalane serum. The squalane I use is the one I found on Amazon and although the reviews say it’s non-greasy, I’ve found it is a bit greasy. Squalane is something that naturally occurs in our sebum (the oily substance secreted by the glands in the skin) and it’s supposed to be a “super moisturizer.” Some squalane is derived from shark liver oil, but no animals were harmed in the use of the one I purchased because it’s derived from olive oil.
Timeless Pure Squalane oil is a "super" moisturizer that I use as a serum before applying a moisturizer https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Timeless Pure Squalane oil is a “super” moisturizer that I use as a serum before applying my moisturizer. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

  • Desert Essence lotion. I shake the bottle just to mix the product and dot it on my forehead, nose, chin, cheeks and neck. I rub it into my skin.
  • Sunblock. I haven’t always used sunblock throughout the years, but now that I’ve been pregnant it has concerned me whether I’m taking the best care of my body. So I found one that was on sale from Walgreens. Do I love it? No, but will I continue to use it? Maybe (that is until the product is gone or I find one that isn’t so greasy).
I use a "sheer" dry touch sunblock that is SPF 55.  https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

I use a “sheer” dry touch sunscreen that is SPF 55 that is comparable to Neutrogena.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

I do love trying new products so this routine may change next year or perhaps I’ve found what works. Time will tell.

Just some tidbits:

  • Tea tree is an antifungal, antibacterial and is great for acne prone skin.
  • Squalane can be added to moisturizers, used in the treatment of split ends, massaged into cuticles and rubbed onto cracked elbows and feet. It is odorless and has antibacterial properties. It can also be used as a great serum for underneath the eyes.
  • I let each product soak in while I continue to get dressed in the morning. My nighttime routine is much simpler (wipe face with baby wipe or cleansing cloth and pat squalane into face and neck).
  • H2O is the best hydration. I don’t always drink enough water in the day and no shade to Beyonce or Gabrielle Union (love her and her skin), but I can’t drink a gallon of water every day because I’d never leave the bathroom. Water does make skin more supple and less dry and flaky.
  • I employ the occasional clay mask when my skin is feeling extra dry or when I have time. I use Aztec Secret Indian Healing Bentonite Clay. I mix apple cider vinegar in mine because of the benefits (treats acne, antibacterial, antifungal, and removes excess oil) and the smoother consistency. Read more about my mask in my Calgon Take Me Away post from May.
  • I used grocery store brand apple cider vinegar but you can use organic or another brand. A popular brand is Bragg’s ACV.
  • I used Honeysuckle scented flower water, but you can use rose water or another hydrosol. It can be used as a skin freshener, hair rinse, body mist or linen spray.
  • I frequently replace my facial buffer with a new one. It comes in a pack of four from the Dollar Tree and has the right amount of grit to not be too rough for my face.

Got a specific skincare routine that you swear by or interested in trying some of the products I mentioned let me know via instagram, twitter or facebook with the #lovinmyskin.

By the way, the company is Olay, if you were wondering.

Road Trip

Who doesn’t need a road trip every now and then? The hardest part for me isn’t planning the trip it’s packing for the trip. I’m just going to be upfront and say — Hi, my name is Shavonne and I’m an over packer. If they don’t have 12 steps for this they should.
I could lie and say I can’t help it, but that’s not entirely the truth. There was that one time I brought one bag on a trip. Mostly I always take more than I need. I hate that feeling of getting to my destination and wishing I had a certain pair of heels or a dress.
Over the years I’ve traveled to Bermuda, the Bahamas, St. Kitts, Puerto Rico, Honduras and on may other day trips and family vacations to almost have it down pat. Along the way I’ve tried to streamline the process and pack smart.
Here are my go-to tips for packing smart:
  • Fun-sized. I get as many mini items as I can, which include travel sized toothpaste, lotion, shower gel, mouthwash, etc. Travel products take up less space and less space means an extra pair of shoes.
  • Skincare. I try to scale down my routine while on a trip by placing cleansers, lotions and other items in travel sized bottles or not taking every single product. If I can get away with facial wipes or a toner instead of my cleanser then I pack those instead.
Packing "fun-sized" products like shower gel, feminine wipes, and beauty products for a trip take up less space. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Packing “fun-sized” products like shower gel, feminine wipes, and beauty products for a trip take up less space. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

  • Dual products. If I pack makeup then I only pack the essentials and sometimes those are items that serve a dual purpose. You’d be surprised how well a neutral brick-colored blush can be used as eyeshadow in a pinch. While on my honeymoon I forgot to pack my eye shadows and all I had was blush. I wore it like a rock star and it looked fine.
  • Color scheme. On longer trips like cruises I plan my outfits and choose clothes that mix and match well, or are usually in the same color family. I also wear jeans and sneakers or boots, which are heavier and take up more space, to my destination so I don’t have to pack them. I also roll up my clothes instead of folding them because it reduces wrinkles and is a space saver. I learned the rolling trick from my 7th grade science teacher while on a trip to Bermuda to study coral reef.
  • Reading. While on a trip I’ll either take my current favorite magazine, book or my tablet so I can visit my favorite blogs, watch Youtube videos or watch Netflix.
Rolling up clothes allows more space in a suitcase. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Rolling up clothes allows more space in a suitcase. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

  • Dirty bag. No matter how short or long my trip, I always have a dirty bag. It can be a laundry bag or a grocery bag, but once I’ve worn the clothes then the dirty items go inside, separate of the clean clothes.
  • Accessories. I stick to a single necklace or two that can be worn with most of my outfits and a pair of studs, pearls or hoop earrings. If I pack bracelets then the stretchy kind are the easiest to pack and take up less space.
  • Hair care. I don’t use a curling iron and actually haven’t in years. I may occasionally travel with a flat iron, but mostly it’s hair oil, brush, comb and a head scarf for bedtime. On longer trips I’ll travel with sample packs of shampoo and conditioner or travel sized.

These items are always in my suitcase — cotton rounds, Q-tips, facial wipes or baby wipes, nail clippers, nail file, brown sandals, T-shirt and pajama bottoms, toothbrush, toothpaste, sweater or hoodie.

Share your packing tips or over packing moments with us via facebook, twitter, instagram.