Always a Happy Place

What if I told you this time of the year used to be my darkest. It felt like the biggest downside to moving to New Mexico was having to leave my South Carolina roots and family traditions behind. Thanksgiving became my “trigger holiday” as I missed the sound of everyone gathering and endless plates of good food. No matter who was upset with whom, on Thanksgiving we always came together and my Granny’s table was always a happy place.

A few years ago I decided to recreate those traditions and create my own memories. For whatever reason (maybe because it kept me busy and distracted from my sadness) I hyper focused on setting my dining table. It’s now become a tradition of my own. No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without a fabulous table darling! I now dream and take delight in planning what the theme will be. Dark and Afro-moody or bright and classic? What was once depressing is now one of my most favorite days…and for that I will always be thankful.

Just Like My Grandma

This blog is named after my paternal and maternal Grandmothers, Ella Francis and Beatrice Miller. It was my Granny’s (Beatrice) passing in 2007 that pushed me to ask the tough questions and learn our family’s history before it was too late. They say ‘you can’t take it with you’ referring to materialistic things. But what about the wisdom and countless stories our elderly withhold. I wanted to leave no stone unturned, no story left behind. So I spent as much time as possible with my surviving (at the time) Grandma Francis, listening to her stories and recording her singing her favorite songs.

On May 10, I lost my dear Grandma Francis. She was my best friend. Although both of my Grandma’s are gone, their words and wisdom continue to live within me. I’m so blessed to have countless memories and this blog to commemorate them both.

Labor of Love


My home has definitely been a labor of love. From DIYs to extreme thrifting, I am proud of every ounce of sweat I’ve put in to making my home reflect who I am. I hope that everyone takes some time today to appreciate your own hard work and achievements and the hard work of those who came before us.

5 Year Housiversary

I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since I took a leap of faith and became a homeowner! At that time, the only thing at the forefront of my mind was to put down roots so my son could have a neighborhood to grow up in just like every classic tv show. I remember after closing going into a deep depression wondering if I had taken on too much. We went from a 600 sq ft one-bedroom apartment to a 1600 sq ft three-bedroom home of our own in what felt like overnight. Even though I sacrificed and saved in a small apartment for nearly 3 years, nothing prepared me for the anxiety felt on closing day. Is it really over after months of searching through dozens and dozens of houses? Signing the huge stacks of mortgage documents definitely made it all real, but nothing felt better than knowing I was DOING it despite my fears. Let me change that, nothing felt better than knowing I DID it!

5 years later I have zero regrets. My home has hosted countless house parties, backyard cookouts, and Sunday dinners. Our extra bedroom has turned from a game room to an office to a welcoming spot for our exchange student turned Moroccan daughter, and now a place for my kid brother who’s permanently visiting. The joy I have felt in my home has been immeasurable. The best and most rewarding decision ever! With that, here’s to 5 years that went by in a blink of an eye and to many years to come creating unforgettable memories in a home filled with peace, love, laughter, and lots of friends and family!

New Year Do’s and Don’ts

Last year around this time, I had never felt lonelier, as financially frustrated or emotionally fragile. So when 2020 emerged, I was ready to leave 2019 for a fresh new start. Not even Miss Cleo could predict what was to come. Technically the CDC and supposedly Bill Gates did, but I digress. The point is, like millions of others I started the new year with a long list of things I wanted to change. 2020 had its own plans. It came in like a ball of acid wrecking everything in its sight. Day to day plans disintegrated and life stood still as the calendar days painstakingly ticked away. Time was no longer measured by how much was done, but how many survived. Welcome to a new reality.

I’ve decided to take a few things I’ve learned from 2020 into 2021 with me. Here’s my list of New Year Do’s and Don’ts.

Don’t Create New Year Resolutions. If you want to do something you’ve never done or have put off-then just do it! You don’t have to wait until the beginning of the year to be a better you. One thing that 2020 has taught us is time waits for no one. We might not get the opportunity to do it later. Start now!

Do Create a Vision Board. Grab a stack of old magazines or photos, a pair of scissors, glue or tape and a poster board and get to visioning! A vision board captures the things you love and desire through photos and fun graphics, leaving you feeling inspired to explore, dream and crush your goals. Love to travel? Find images of all the places you’ve been and would like to go. Wanna lose weight? Rather than staring at “Go to Gym” and feeling instant anxiety, a water bottle image or photo of a mountain/hiking trail map can calmly communicate the need to practice a healthy lifestyle . Ultimately, a vision board gives life to your goals. Seeing an image of what you want to accomplish allows yourself to see the finish line even if you haven’t started yet.

Do Put Family First. 2020 taught us that some things can wait. Spending time with your loved ones isn’t one of them. Distance learning and remote work has created its own challenges, but the biggest plus has been more quality time together in the home. As the world returns back to long office hours and no days off, remember to keep family first. Whether it’s family dinner at the table or a quick meal together on the couch, it’s the effort that counts. Don’t forget a check-in call to friends and family afar goes a long way.

Don’t Stop Safe Practices. Listen, going into 2021 is not going to magically erase the pandemic. Even if the fairy god scientists eradicate COVID from the face of earth when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, let’s continue to give random strangers 6 feet of personal space and follow precautions. Too many times I’ve encountered that person that stands way too close for comfort in line at the bank or grocery store. We all deserve to have our own little bubble. My motto all 2021 is please don’t stand in my bubble! Oh, and it should go without saying that we should all continue to stay at home if you’re sick. Parents, stop dropping your sick kids off at school and if you’re sick yourself, don’t go into work! This also goes for businesses, please keep your hand sanitizer dispensers filled and carts wiped clean year round! May we all continue to be safe and healthy in 2021.

Do Have A Back Up Plan. Life can go astray and jobs can be lost in a blink of an eye. Having a second source of income is essential. Side gigs can range from a hobby that pays to charging for a service. My son created his business, Art Effect Kid, in the middle of the pandemic. He drew a picture representing the Black Lives Matter protest, in which I shared on social media. Almost immediately I began receiving requests for t-shirts of his art. After a bit of research, we soon began selling Art Effect Kid shirts…lots of them! I then purchased a LLC, obtained a seller’s permit and opened a bank account. The earnings aren’t enough to send him off to college, but it’s a start to generating extra income. Like my son, many adults have talents that they never thought could be lucrative. I challenge everyone in the new year to push themselves creatively and financially.

A Scary, Merry, Keep Hope Alive Christmas

Albuquerque’s art scene is truly one of the best! Factor in the recent Black Lives Matter protests, never ending COVID and arrival of Christmas, the nation’s current state of hope, anger and pain couldn’t be clearer.

Last night while cruising down Central, we ventured through picturesque, family-friendly Christmas decor in Nob Hill…to trendy, pop culture art in the University Area…on down to Downtown’s grungy back alleys. There ain’t no place like Route 66 baby! Where Pennywise dons a scull Santa hat and bomb ass murals pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman and Malcom X. A few aliens escaped Roswell to let there be Peace in Burque. Or maybe they were a creating a distraction from the T-Rex surrounded by little shop of horrors.

Check out a few photos and see for yourself…