A Letter to Resilient Women - International Women's Day

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Dear Resilient Woman,

Thank you for creating life. Your ability to endure through the trials and tribulations that come along with bringing life into this hectic world is so beautiful, and a true testament to how strong you are and have always been. Your ability to find new ways to create life in this world is inspiring to so many. Whether it's through childbearing, dropping a FIRE picture on the 'gram with that light-filled smile of your's, providing scholarships for the next generation of women to secure a better future or pulling up seats at tables you belong at; the life that you give is irreplaceable. Thank you.


Thank you for sustaining life. They claim that this is a "man's world;" but baaaaby, this world wouldn't be NOTHING without you. The way you love, the way you nurture and the way you command the room is an aspiration for so many. Because of you, the world has stood through the test of time. Thank you for creating cultural delicacies out of the scraps you were given and feeding the masses. Because of you, people have a home cooked meal to help digest the pain of a dark day. Because of you, young boys and girls alike know that they can do whatever they put their mind to. Because of you, hugs, kisses and prayers have kept us going. Thank you.


Thank you for living life. They see your strength and they assume you can handle everything..because you can. Trust me, I know it gets hard sometimes. I know you've been through more than the world could ever fathom. I know there are nights you cry yourself to sleep right after praying the sunshine back into someone else's life; but, here you are. Thank you for showing up for everyone else. Thank you for choosing to give life even when all you wanted to do was take your own. Today, baby it's time to start showing up for yourself; so, thank you for choosing YOU. I'm so happy you're here. Thank you.


To ALL of the strong, brilliant, loving, beautiful, truth-telling, creative, praying, listening, business-owning, degree-attaining and phenomenal women in my life..this is for you. I love you

Happy International Women's Day!



With blessings & imperfections,

Bre

Dealing with Post-Grad Depression

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If I can be candid, it has taken me months to write this as a follow-up to my very first post on my Post-Graduation Waiting Period. It's not because I didn't want to share my experience; rather, it was because I was convinced that everyone would think I was silly for admitting that I was going through depression as a result of not being in school. Yes, I have been experiencing post-graduation depression for the last several months (it feels like a relief to say that).

Simply put, post-graduation depression is triggered by the lack of structure that a life in academia provides. For those that don't know, I went straight into my Master's program immediately after getting my Bachelors degree; so, I've had the structure of school for my entire life. My identity always included school; thus, despite the excitement of graduation, losing that part of my identity hit me pretty hard.

  
Sure, I was/am relieved to not be bound by deadlines and group projects and evening classes; but, I left all of that behind to step into a world overwhelmed by student loan debt, living paycheck to paycheck and adulting. Sure, I now have the job that I was praying for everyday for 3.5 months after graduation; however, that transition from working and going to school full-time to a full-time career has not been easy.

I no longer have the security that I'd found in school and that makes me uncomfortable and quite frankly, sad. I have been eating non-stop (so I've gained a lot of weight), I haven't yet gotten back into a consistent workout routine (so I've been unable to lose said weight) and, in place of a busy academic calendar, I have continuously added task on task and event on event to my schedule to keep myself busy - I started this blog at what was also the start of Fall semester (that wasn't by coincidence). Because I've been in school for so long, it feels wrong to sit still and I'm constantly questioning "what's next?"
 or "what should I be doing?"


Amongst other things, our professors and advisors neglect to prepare us for the reality that will come for our ENTIRE lives once we graduate. So, I want to share with you a few things that I have learned in the last few months and offer some practical steps you can take if you find yourself experiencing post-graduation depression.

Don't reset, adjust. Don't feel obligated to reset to social standards of time. My supervisor gave me a great suggestion to continue operating in academic increments. Meaning, rather than trying to adjust to fiscal years and such, allow yourself to continue flowing within a system that has worked for you. You might not have the same things to do; but, you can still utilize the structure of an academic calendar. Work with what you know.
Be present where you are. Don't overwhelm yourself with the pressure of "what's next?" There is no need for you to stretch yourself thin as you journey through this season of transition. Take each day as it comes and let tomorrow worry about itself. 
Set short term goals...and celebrate every. single. one. A sister of mine, Lo, told me that right now I have to intentionally take pride in what I've done, and what I am currently doing well. It may not look like the accolades and certificates we got in school; but, celebrate and appreciate where you are. Trust that when your territory expands (and it will), you will have all you need in order to continue doing well. 
Give yourself some grace. You are doing your very best. Extend the same grace to yourself that you extend to others daily. I am constantly reminding myself to do this. Healing is not linear so trust the process. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you've made. Praise yourself for getting out of the bed every morning. Speak love and positivity over yourself constantly and be patient with your journey.
Release. TALK ABOUT IT. It took me months to articulate how I was feeling and by the time I could, it felt silly to say it out loud. Don't be silenced by the pressure of all you're going through and the fear that no one will hear you. You are not alone. Find a therapist, confide in your tribe. Lean into your support system. 
Rest. You have to protect your vessel. This means that you don't have to accept every invitation on your off-days and you don't have to always be doing something. Allow your body to rest without feeling guilty about sleeping in or laying on the couch all day. Sure, I know you're amazing at a lot of things; but, you do not have to be doing those things every minute of every day. You are no good to yourself, or your talents, if you do not allow yourself to rest. Be still.


With Blessings & Imperfections,
Bre




The Day for Love: Embracing Your Single Season

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Happy Valentine's Day, friends!
So, I thought that I'd be writing this post from a place of peace and joy as I spend another Valentine's Day as a single woman. Ya know, enjoying the freedom of being single; however, I am not. Instead, I am writing this post from an extreme case of "I'm over this. Where's my man??" Lol. Can you relate?

The interesting thing about this feeling is that it's the total opposite of how I felt about my single season last year. Last year, I was ecstatic to be single. On Valentine's Day, I took myself to get a massage, I got a manicure and pedicure, I took myself out to eat at Kanki (my fave) and then I went on a shopping spree at Ulta. IT. WAS. GREAT. But this Valentine's Day feels different. 
That's the thing about seasons though, right? They are subject to change - if you live in North Carolina, you feel me.

You won't always enjoy every part of the season. There will be times when the seasons don't change when you think they should. There will be times when you feel let down and disappointed when another potential relationship doesn't blossom into all you hoped it would become. There will be times when you feel bitterness while watching your friends enjoy the same happiness with their partner(s) that you feel like you deserve. 

On this Valentine's Day, I'm not going to tell you that you won't be single by this time next year because I don't know what season you are currently in, nor do I know what season God will bring you to by next February.

But, the season will eventually change. You will soon experience a love so great that you can't even put it into words. What I AM going to tell you is that the wait will be worth it. And when that day comes, I want you to be ready.
Here's how I want you to prepare:
Learn to love yourself..every single broken, ugly, imperfect part of yourself. Get rid of the shame you've been feeling from your past experiences with love. Really get to know YOU and learn to love every single bit of your amazing, beautiful, authentic and wise self.

Fill up YOUR cup..whether single or in a relationship, we often have the tendency to feel obligated to heal every attractive, broken person that walks into our lives; but, have you taken the time to heal yourself? What have you done for yourself to ensure that you are equipped with all that you need in order to be good to yourself and not just everyone around you? It's cliche; but, you truly can't pour from any empty cup. So, be kind and generous to yourself.    

Smile often..surround yourself with people and things that put that big 'ol, "I'm full of joy" type of smile on your face. Travel to places you've never been before. Tell your corniest jokes and let out your heartiest, from the belly laugh. Be happy. 
You may not be in a relationship for Valentine's Day next year; but, you WILL be a better version of yourself. You WILL be WHOLE.


With Blessings & Imperfections,

Bre


Valentine's Day Gift Guide for YOU!

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So you're gonna be single on Valentine's Day, huh? From experience, you're likely feeling a twinge of bitterness and possibly planning a total BINGE of ALL the things on the day for love. I get it. But, I'm challenging you to do something different this year. I know, I know. We hate change and stuff. I hear you; but, I think you'll like this.

I have put together a Gift Guide just for YOU and your beautiful, intelligent, valuable and amazing self! That's right! My challenge to you for this year's Valentine's Day is to TREAT YOSELF. We ain't finna be sulking around the house this year..WE'RE GOING SHOPPING, SIS!

*This post contains affiliate links.That means that I could receive a small commission from any sales driven from flawbless.com to sites linked in this post.

Plants/Flowers

I know the world has convinced us that flowers are only meaningful when they come from someone else; but, those days are OVER. Flowers and plants have the ability to transform your space and bring [literal] life to it. You can play it safe with a couple succulents, or you can go big with something like a flowering peace lily.
flowering peace lily

  



Gel Manicure Kit
Sometimes treating yourself on a budget is the best way to go. I personally don't have enough, but if you have the patience to do your own nails, this is a great gift! This one-time investment could save you lots of coins throughout the year...splurge now, save later.






Polaroid Camera
I really enjoy making memories and I have been wanting one of these for a while! Now, I know sometimes it feels like you'll be single forever; but, that is the furthest thing from the truth. One day you will have a partner that cares for you deeply and if you desire, you may one day also have a family. Start storing memories to share with them now while you have the freedom to do, be and go wherever your heart desires. Take some pictures of your adventures with a Polaroid camera - don't forget the film!





  Becoming
  Honestly, I don't even have anything to say about this. The author   speaks for herself. I've been reading this book over the last couple of  weeks and as always, I am in awe of everything Michelle Obama. Buy   the book and thank me later!






New Workout Clothes
It's not too late to start or continue your New Year's Resolution of working out and getting your body ready for the summer...and life! You should certainly look cute while doing it. Target's JoyLab collection is going to make you a showstopper at the gym. You deserve the spotlight everywhere you go, especially while you're snatchin' that waist!












Wine
Single or not, a Valentine's Day with no wine is a waste. So, while you're watching your favorite movie or enjoying your favorite foods on Valentine's Day, you might as well do it with a nice glass of wine. I prefer White wines, Riesling to be exact. Chateau Ste. Michelle is my personal favorite! Riesling pairs well with just about any food, so you can have whatever you like!






 Journal

 During your season of singleness,   getting to know yourself is very important. Journaling is a great way to   do that. I love guided journaling because even when I have no idea what to write, the prompts give me the space to dig deep and really  think  about what I need in order to be mentally, physically and spiritually sound. There's a guided journal for just about everything.







Aromatherapy Diffuser
Once you step out of your Eucalyptus shower, why not continue the spa experience in your room? An aromatherapy diffuser can create a peaceful and serene environment for you and everyone that enters your space. Diffusers promote better sleep, support respiratory health, focus and cognitive function.

Game Winning Recipes - Deviled Eggs

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Here we are. A week away from the Superbowl. Currently, you STILL don't know what you're taking to that Superbowl party you were invited to. Maybe my Swicy Sauce was too complicated for you or maybe you don't even rock with chicken wings like that (that's strange). Whatever your reasoning, here is a simple recipe for deviled eggs that will keep your potluck invites coming season after season.

DISCLAIMER: My "disclaimer" is that I am a Black woman and I only use measurements when I'm following someone else's recipe; thus, for all of my recipes, you will simply have to do it 'til it's right.

Ingredients:
1 dz. large eggs
Mayonnaise
Mustard
White sugar
Mt. Olive Sweet Relish
Salt
Pepper
Paprika
*I recently learned a [better] way to boil my eggs that cooks them perfectly EVERY time from Sister Ayesha Curry in The Seasoned Life. Find that method below.
  • Place eggs in a medium saucepan, and cover with cool water (you always want to use cold water when boiling anything). Bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for 11 minutes.
  • After 11 minutes, place the eggs in a bowl of cold, ice water. After the eggs are COMPLETELY cold, peel them.
  • Cut each egg in half (the long way) and scoop all of the yolk into a mixing bowl. Set the eggs aside.
  • Mash/mix the yolk until most of the lumps are gone. Add a little more than 1/2 a cup of mayonnaise to the yolk (I also add a little bit of mustard - I don’t like sour deviled eggs so it’s usually no more than like a tablespoon for me).
  • Add 2-3 tablespoons of relish and add sugar to taste (I don’t know how much sugar I use, I just add until it’s sweet enough). 
  • Add a teaspoon of salt + pepper. Mix everything together until the mixture is well-combined.
  • The last step is to add the yolk mixture back into the eggs. You can either use a spoon OR if you wanna be fancy, you can put all of the mixture into a Ziploc bag, distribute all of it to one corner of the bag and then cut a small hole in that corner and squeeze out (this is the innovative version of a piping bag used to ice cakes lol).
  • Sprinkle paprika onto each egg (for aesthetic, not to taste) and serve! You don't have to serve right away; rather, you can make them Saturday night and they'll be ready to go Sunday afternoon for the game.
Enjoy!

Game Winning Recipes - Bre's 'Swicy' Wing Sauce

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Whether you're rooting for a specific team or showing up solely for the good food, it's time to think about what you're going to be taking to that Superbowl party that your friend is planning but hasn't given you any details about. *ahem* Sorry, that got a little personal. Nonetheless, you'll be prepared because I'm giving you THREE recipes that will make you the MVP of Superbowl LIII. Thank me later.

The first recipe is my signature 'Swicy' wing sauce -- the perfect mix of sweet and spicy makes this sauce a winner. Now I'm no expert; however, one thing I know for SURE is that EVERYONE loves a quality batch of wings. Whether they're baked, grilled or fried, who can turn down good wings?! When you add this perfect parts sweet & spicy sauce to your wings, you'll surely be the true champion of Sunday night's match-up.


DISCLAIMER: This sauce is one that I have spent quite some time "perfecting" and this is the first time I've shared the recipe with anyone - this is a flawBless exclusive! My actual "disclaimer" is that I am a Black woman and I only use measurements when I'm following someone else's recipe; thus, for all of my recipes, you will simply have to do it 'til it's right. I usually make this sauce in large batches so that I'll have some leftover for other meals throughout the week (like shrimp, chicken breasts, etc.).

Ingredients:
Butter
24 oz. Texas Pete Hot Sauce
Honey
Mt. Olive Kosher Dill Pickle Spears (you'll only need the juice)
Soy Sauce
Salt
Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper
Garlic
  • Combine 1/2 of a 24 oz. bottle of Hot Sauce + 4 (regular) spoonfuls of butter if you're using a tub or about 1/2 a stick + 2 teaspoons of minced garlic to a medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Whisk together until the butter is melted.
  • Once the butter is melted and well combined with the hot sauce, add in 1/2 a cup of honey and mix it well. Turn the stove down to medium-low heat.
  • Stir in 3-4 tablespoons of pickle-juice* (this is my secret ingredient) and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and whisk together. Add a tablespoon each of salt and pepper, plus a tablespoon of crushed red pepper and another spoonful of butter.
  • At this point, I begin taste-tasting the sauce and I typically add more honey to increase the level of sweetness in the sauce. Once you decide whether you need more sweet or spicy, add it in and leave the sauce on medium low heat for 5-10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • If you BAKE or GRILL your wings, add the sauce to the wings halfway through their cooking process. Once they're completely done, toss them in more of the leftover sauce and serve hot.
  • If you FRY the wings, place all of the wings in a large bowl (that has a lid) once they're all fried. Pour most (or all) of the sauce onto the wings, place lid on the bowl and shake them up until every wing is coated. Serve hot.    
Enjoy!

Confections by Kee - Confectionist / Baking Connoisseur

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Confections by Kee: IG: confectionsbykee - Baking Connoisseur

What was your greatest inspiration/motivation to start Confections by Kee?
My grandmother is the inspiration behind the Confections by Kee brand. As a child, I would stay with my grandmother every summer and whenever she was in the kitchen I was right beside her. I would always ask if I could help her with whatever recipe she was making at that moment and she always allowed me to do so. Once I reached an age to where she felt I was old enough to use the oven, I started doing a lot more baking and developed a new profound love for it. Baking was always one of my favorite pastimes, but I never thought about turning it into a career. I definitely have her to thank for every opportunity I’ve been given so far because had it not been for her being patient with me in the kitchen and giving me the opportunity to learn hands-on, I don’t think Confections by Kee would exist!

What is the overall vision of Confections by Kee?
The overall vision I have for my business is to continuously pursue innovative products and techniques, develop new  recipes and flavors, and engage with consumers in order to satisfy their taste buds one confection at a time!


What have been the biggest challenges of creating, launching and maintaining your brand/business?
The biggest challenge I faced was making sure that my brand was as distinctive as possible. Coming up with a name for my business was a little difficult because I didn’t want to focus on one specific dessert type and I wanted the name to embody what I would be catering to. “Confections” is a generic term for sweets so I thought it would be the perfect name because it doesn’t put a limit on what I can do because I do it all (lol) and “Kee” is just a nickname I’ve had since I was little. Once I came up with a name, I had to decide on an actual logo, fonts, colors, who my target market was going to be, flavors, packaging, pricing, website development and the list goes on. It definitely takes a lot of trial and error, time, patience, and passion when it comes to starting a business, but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

What tips do you have for your consumers that may desire to launch a business of their own?
The most important tip I have is if you have a favorite hobby that you absolutely love and can’t see yourself not doing it again, take that same passion you have and pursue it as a career. There are tons of people who may have the same passion as you, but everyone has their own unique way of doing it. You have to determine what it is that you will be striving towards and focusing on not letting the competition deter you from succeeding. Ultimately, you just have to stay grounded and true to what your passion is and you can achieve anything!


What are your future plans for Confections by Kee?
My future plans for Confections by Kee are to continue building my brand and catering to Charlotte and surrounding areas. I would also love to have a storefront location that would be here in the heart of the Queen City with the possibility of expansion. I’m really anxious to see what the future holds for Confections by Kee because I’ve received a tremendous amount of support this year from either loved ones or just people who stumble across my Instagram feed. All in all, I’m extremely blessed to have even been able to make it this far!

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