My Inspiration: September-St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer and Sickle Cell Awareness Month

What inspires you to make a difference?  I am always inspired whenever there is an opportunity to support a great CAUSE!    If you need a reason to lace up your running or walking footwear, mark your calendars in September!

Are you familiar with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital?   When I think of St. Jude I only associated the institution with research for childhood cancer.   After participating in this awareness campaign,  I learned that St. Jude has one of the largest sickle cell disease programs in the country with more than 800 patients.  St. Jude was the first institution to cure sickle cell disease with a bone marrow transplant in the 1980s.   During my first pregnancy,  I remember my OB/GYN ordered my blood work and suggested the blood screen for the sickle cell trait.   I am not a carrier of the trait however I learned a very close friend carries the trait.  It made me realize those affected are closer than we may realize.   Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder affecting red blood cells that can cause anemia, pain, organ damage and even death.    The disease affects one in 500 African-Americans and some people of Hispanic, Mediterranean and Native American descent.

St. Jude and Sickle Cell Disease

On June 19th, 2008, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution to recognize sickle cell disease as a public health concern.   From this assembly, June 19th is now World Sickle Cell Day and September is designated as Sickle Cell Awareness month.   In 2011, St. Jude led a national study that showed the same drug used to treat adults with sickle cell disease was effective with infants and toddlers.   The drug, hydroxyurea reduced the number of hospitalizations and alleviated other symptoms in younger patients.   St. Jude received the first grant for sickle cell disease research before the hospital was opened.  Another significant highlight for St. Jude was developing a nationally recognized program for teenagers to assist with managing the disease as they transition to adulthood and non-pediatric healthcare professionals.

If you are familiar with BET’s Sunday Best  you know finalist Latice Crawford.  On Friday, June 19th, Latice Crawford, performed at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.   Crawford, who carries the sickle cell trait, sang her latest single “Look at Yourself Again” for patients and staff.   St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has one of the largest sickle cell disease programs in the country.

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photo credit: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital/Lauren Price

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photo credit: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital/Lauren Price

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital provides families with services at no cost for treatments, travel, housing and food.  Please visit the link to learn more about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

HOW CAN YOU HELP TO RAISE MONEY FOR THIS AMAZING RESEARCH INSTITUION?   September is Sickle Cell Awareness month and Childhood Cancer Awareness month, there are 58 St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer events across the US during the month of September.

How do you encourage your friends and family to get involved?  There are 2 reasons to encourage family and friends to get involved 1)  inspired to raise money for this amazing research institution 2) a fun way to engage family and friends in a fitness activity for a worthy cause!!!  Get involved and register for an event in your respective area! St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer

If you are in Pennsylvania, there are 3 events:
Capital City Mall, Camp Hill, PA – September 26
Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia, PA – September 19
Frick Park, Pittsburgh, PA – September 26

Drop me an email if you decide to join an event in your area!

Single Mom Chronicles: DIY Blog Series-Reupholster Dining Room Chairs

How do you give old furniture a new look? It’s very simple with the help of JOANN FABRICS!!! When I decided to purchase a white wash wood furniture dining room suite (with white upholestered chairs) it was to create my “country” decor look in my first house.

Let’s FAST FORWARD 2 houses, storage for 4 years and 2 kids  who are now 14yo and 8yo and these chairs are not child or teen proof.   These chairs are definitely not kid friendly.  How many spills do you have on any given day?   Also the suite has has a white wash wood table.   You learn one of favorite home decor places is HOME GOODS and they have a nice selection of Cynthia Crowley water repellant tablecloths in a variety of sizes and designs!

For the chairs,  I decided to do a DIY reupholster my own chairs to save money.    After I purchased a sewing machine, I decided to sign up for coupons via text messages with JOANN FABRICS.    These coupons can be applied to any regularly priced item which saves a significant amount especially if it is 50% off.  For any upholestering you need a heavy duty stapler and the weekly coupon came in handy.  These staplers are over $20!!!

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The coupons cannot be applied to fabric but on any given week there is usually a fabric sales.   If you don’t know I scour the internet and PINTEREST for most projects to get guidelines.  I found suggestions on two different sites. Both sites suggested removing the old upholstery which I opted to keep.

Cocoamommy  Blog Series Part I Before Chair

You may ask how do you determine how much fabric to purchase?  Great question, my first site suggested to measure the length, width and depth of the cushion. From the depth, multiply by 3.   Then add this number to the length and width of your cushion to determine how large of a fabric piece is required. The other site estimated 1/2 yard for a standard cushion.   I used the second approach and it was not accurate for my cushions. Unfortunately neither worked for my cushions. My cushions have a unique scalloped shape along the front of the cushion.

Cocoamommy Blog Series Part I  After Chair
I purchased 3 yards of fabric from a 54″ bolt(width) thinking this was enough to cover all 6 chairs.   After measuring my length and width and depth as 22x17x1.5 respectively,  I estimated  34″x 30″ of fabric for each chair.  The fabric covered  covered 3 of my 6 chairs.   For the remaining chairs I plan to purchase about 2 1/2 yards.   I have a significant amount of fabric left which I am planning to use for a table runner and napkins.   In case you missed it I purchased a sewing machine so a great reason to “repurpose” the fabric!!!!!

Stay tuned for my next DIY project!!!! See you soon!!!!

Single Mom Chronicles: DIY~ From Home to Apartment Living Series

We all go through some form of transition from year to year. I feel our LIVING SPACE is so important to make our OWN! Home is where you land at the end of a busy day to unwind and relax. In the last 5 years, the kids and I moved from a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath house to my mother’s 3 bedroom, 1 bath house and now we’re in a 3 bedroom, 2 bath apartment with approximately 1400 square feet of living space!!!! This is pretty amazing for an apartment which means multiple projects for decorating.

I am on a real mission to scour Home Goods, Target, Amazon, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Joann Fabrics, etc to create an AMAZING LIVING SPACE we enjoy!!!! In addition to finding the right iems I am also a budget conscious mom so minimizing cost is extremely important!!!

It is my goal in this series to carve out projects that create a comfortable and cozy living space for the three of us ROOM BY ROOM!!! I totally looking forward to sharing my ideas with you. Please free to send any questions and feedback to cocoamommy@gmail.com See you soon!!

 

Single Mom Chronicles: DIY- Decorating Small Bathroom Ideas

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I love love decorating ideas and tips on the web. My favorite spot is Pinterest and I will spend hours finding ideas on Pinterest!!!! In my new living space my bathroom is really tight on space so I found my basin being filled with makeup items and toiletries. My other favorite spot is spending a few hours in IKEA in Conshohocken!!! After spending an afternoon there in the kids section I noticed a cool storage unit. The biggest deal was it required just two screws but was I totally blown when I realized it was a 7 piece set. Note to self whenever you’re in IKEA and find the most amazing item, do write down the item number. If you even think that an associate will be able to point you in the right direction without the name or item #, forget it!!!! IKEA has I am guessing 1000s of items and a name is EVERYTHING THERE!!!!!!

Since moving I have spent a little bit of time in IKEA so I know each section of the store. I was off to home organization in search of this ingenious storage unit. My first associate was unable to assist but I was determined to find it. After multiiple walks around home organization, I found the best kept secret for storage in a small bathroom. If you are in home organization, look for PLUGGIS!!!!! Thanks IKEA! If you’re a Swedish fish candy fan, stop by their store and grab a bag!!!

One thing I have discovered is the fact that in a small space you have to use the wall space to your advantage!!!!

Cooking and Baking By Me: DIY Meals-Garlic Stir Fry with Chicken

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Another dinner prep kit made easy from Target. The only issue is cooking before the use by date. I purchased chicken tenderloins to add to the dish. I’m so unfamiliar with types of noodles and scoured the International section of my local supermarket. I did find a broccoli and beef stir fry sauce. After cooking the chicken I added the kit which contained minced garlic, diced red onion, white onion, green and red pepper. Once all was stir fried, I puchased a packet of Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry seasoning packet. Although I wanted noodles, I cooked a pot of white rice.

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I would definitely purchase again however I will marinate the meat or seafood of choice overnight to impart more flavor. The stir fry seasoning packet did not give the dish a lot of flavor. Since I was unable to find a noodle selection I made rice.

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Single Mom Chronicles: Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa

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As a mom, I think at times we forget to take “me time” and get caught up in our hectic schedules. I am making an effort to really enjoy my time off so on Friday I scheduled an hour long massage and squeezeed in my manicure and pedicure.

I received a gift card in December from my team and as much as I wanted to use it earlier my day off in April was perfect. The Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa are franchises that are popping up everywhere. It was perfect timing in January to get a card in the mail that one was opening not too far away. I scheduled my appointment on Monday for Friday at noon. The spa sends a reminder text 24 hours before your scheduled appointment and another text the a few hours before your appointment. Currently there is an introductory offer for a massage at $49.95 which is a great deal for an hour long massage. They do offer three different types of regular massage and a hot stome massage. In addition to a massages and facials they offer upgrade services such as a aromoatherapy, hot towel foot massage, hand massage and a scalp treatment. I decided to add on an aromotherapy upgrade so my massage included an essential oil. The choices include lavender, peppermint or eucalyptus.

I arrived a few minutes before my massage and had to complete the spa paperwork that provides my mailing address, preferences or any concerns that I may have before my massage. The inside is really inviting, warm and relaxing. The front desk staff was very friendly offered me water before my massage and also directed me to the restrooms. Also the staff person told me that part of the experience allows me to make adjustments in the room for the lighting, music and heat.

The massage therapist was very professional and I prefer a medium massage. I think the lavendear essential oil made it more relaxing. The lighting and music was fine but I am always cold so I did ask the therapist to increase the heat in the room. The room temperature is set however the massage table has a thermostat which made it more comfortable. After using my gift card I had a balance so I will try to reschedule soon.

In case you are unsure on how much to leave for gratuity, there is a framed outline on the front desk as well as really large gratuity envelopes with gratuity printed on them. When you check out do expect the front desk staff to offer you a monthly membership as well as an offer to reschedule your next appointment. Personally I thought this was too much as a first time customer especially since you’re not sure I really enjoyed the experience. I think this should be reserved for repeat customers.

All in all it was nice way to relax for an hour without any interruptions. Just a reminder to turn off your phone!!!!!

Cooking and Baking By Me: Tacos

I am always searching for quick and easy recipes for dinner. My kids are picky eaters and in the past few months they are starting to open up their palates for other foods besides chicken nuggets. I was blown away when they both tried my salmon croquettes.

While we were in Target, I noticed packaged veggies for stir fry, tacos, etc. They were under $4 so I decided to give them a try. I purchased the taco package that includes chopped onions and tomatoes, shredded lettuce and cheese. The only thing you need to add is meat of your choice and tortillas. I added sour cream and a Watkins taco seasoning pack for the meat.

After browning the meat and adding the taco seasoning, the meal was ready in less than an hour. It was simple, inexpensive and quick. All the components of a meal for a busy working mom.

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Single Mom Chronicles: Sewing 101, Guess who has a sewing machine?…

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Last year I started following MimiGStyle and totally fell in love with the idea of sewing.   She features her sewing creations on her blog and Facebook page.   I also follow her on Pinterest and Instagram, I know it’s a lot.  Her sense of style is AMAZING!!!!  I love how she features the entire outfit, how to plus accessories and where to purchase.   She truly makes sewing SEXY…. Mimi also features her love of cooking, fitness and provides her readers with tips.   My favorite aspect of following her is the fact she is a mom who is following her passion.   I think as a mom we can all relate to that in a lot of ways.

In March I purchased a sewing machine, I followed Mimi’s suggestion on what type of machine to buy for beginners. I didn’t want to invest a lot for my first machine so lucky for me I found a refurbished machine on Overstock.com.   Joann Fabrics is now a staple for finding my sewing items such as tools, accessories and fabric.  If you sign up via your phone you get coupon sent via text.  The coupons really come in handy for saving on all your purchases.

The one great learning tool for anyone who is a beginner is YOUTUBE.  I purchased the Brother CS6000i which has 60 stitich options and computerized with a built in threader.  The machine comes with tools, pedal and a carrying case and it was less than $150 on Overstock.    My go to site is Sewing Mastery, the videos are absolutely wonderful for learning everything on the machine.   It only took a few hours for me to learn how to wind a bobbin, threading the machine, use the built in threader, replace the foot, learn how to change the needle, how to make different type of stitches, and repairing fabric.    I did invest in a sewing kit and want to get a mat for cutting fabric as well as a work table for my machine.  Sewing Mastery has videos for each lesson which is great when you want to learn step by step.

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My first project is making window treatments, which is fairly easy in terms of a hem at the top and bottom.   I found a number of sources for taking measurements.   The associates at Joann Fabrics are very helpful in terms of assisting with the fabric needed and the tools necessary. The one hard lesson I learned is to use fabric that is stiffer versus a chiffon.    For window treatments you have to create stitches before you begin your hems.   My go to site for this was the great YouTube video. Once these are finished I will post the finished project.

 

 

I also set up a sewing board on Pinterest which is a great place to find other ideas and projects for beginners. My next project is how to make pillows.

My Inspiration: Happy Spring!!!

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photo credit: bing.com/images

I love this time of year, because it feels like a time to RENEW AND REFRESH! There is more sunshine, daylight, less rain and NO MORE SNOW! I want to make the most of all of this and enjoy!!! My favorite flower time for this time of year is a TULIP!!

Single Mom Chronicles: Barre 3 Berwyn

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photo credit:Lucie Wicker Barre & Soul and Andrea Isabelle Lucas training Barre & Soul
After hearing about this workout,I was tempted but still a little hesitant.  I have so many items on the fitness list, one being to take my first adult swim class and fit in real fitness regime each week.

Finally I found a location not too far and the cool part is they offer childcare on Saturday.   On Friday as I was trying to locate the studio I noticed the owner was closing up.   He was nice enough to go inside and bring me back a card explained the online process for registering for class.   It was really easy to sign up online, set an account and then add your classes.  For a first timer you can purchase individual classes at $20 per class, or a package of 3 classes for $40.   On Saturday, there are 3 classes offer 8, 9:15 and 10:30 which gives a lot of options for a busy mommy schedule on Saturday.

On my fitness wishlist I want to do more than cardio and weight training.   I love to mix up my fitness regime which is probably why I really enjoyed the full body workout from pole fitness.    Pilates is also another favorite and Barre looks like a mix of yoga and Pilates.

As a first-timer, I purchased the package of 3 classes for $40.  Also purchased child-care for $5 for my 8yo.   The studio has a designated space for kids and one of the staff members is in charge while you take your class.   I survived my first class and it was a great hour long workout.  It requires very little in terms of equipment.  We were insructed to grab free weights ( I recommend for the first class, start light 1-2lbs), towel, small ball and a mat.   You do use the ballet bar for some of the exercisess.   It is definitely the meshing of ballet with a yoga and Pilates.   Most of the exercises are core intensive but excellent for posture, toning and building muscle in all the right places.   The exercises target all the key areas core, arms, legs but best of all THE CORE!!!!!!!  A strong core helps to stabilize the body and this is important as you move from one exercise to the next.   I am definitely going to return for my two  classes.  Shout out to the instructor Courtney, she was excellent in guiding the class through the exercises and assisting with FORM!!!

If you are looking for a new workout to try I highly recommend BARRE, here’s the link to the studio.  Next on my list is swimming and

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