Bargain Hunted: Authentic Persian Rug

I love hunting a good bargain, but this one may go down in history as one of the greatest!

According to Wikipedia, Heriz rugs are Persian rugs from the area of Heris, East Azerbaijan in northwest Iran, northeast of Tabriz. Persian Heriz rugs are typically crimson red and Persian blue, combined with varied neutrals. It’s featured pattern include a central medallion motif surrounded by rectilinear vine-scrolls (as cited by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs).

Here’s a side-by-side of my thrifted Persian heriz rug and a similar one found online.

Finding an authentic, vintage Persian rug is beyond exciting. I can only imagine it’s journey and whether it had been passed down for generations. I certainly plan to do so. The history of this rug was only the part of this amazing find. The other part was the price! Brace yourselves…

As soon as I eyed this magnificent piece I drifted towards it. I had to blink several times to make sure I was reading the price right! I immediacy dragged the entire rug stand over to the cashier to make sure it wasn’t a mistake. Priced for $24.99!! * Nearly faints* but not before I paid so no one else could grab it.

My thrifted Persian Heriz rug in my home.

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!

Decor Tip: Framed Greeting Cards

A quick and easy way to store and display your fav or most precious greeting cards is to FRAME them!

I received this Blue Mountain card, titled Don’t Ever Lose Sight of the Wonderful Person You Are, in 2014 from my former supervisor/mentor. I now keep this card framed with a photo of me in primary school. These are the words I needed to hear as a little girl. These are the words I need to read every day to continue to become a better me.

Turn to your fav magazine for more quick, easy and FREE art! This beautiful African model rocking jumbo gold metal earrings was ripped from the pages of a Harper’s Bazaar magazine. High fashion turned high quality framed art!

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…

Christmas Magic or Just A Bunch of Smoke?

Let’s talk about the magic of Christmas. You know, Santa and his crew sliding down chimneys leaving presents for good little boys and girls and lumps of coal for those who have been naughty. Is it all a bunch of smoke? Is it fair to believe in Santa when so many families are struggling financially especially during COVID? I saw this post online and wanted to share my thoughts.

I am part of the guilty parents committee that still leaves presents from Santa for my kid. Last year, Santa delivered a hoverboard, an action camera, and a VR headset. Even though he’s 12 now, he chooses to still believe. Trust me, I have tried to convince him to let Santa come for the little ones but he looked me dead in the eyes and declared that Santa must come this year. Looks like Santa will be creeping through our sliding door again this year (our alternative entrance since we don’t have a chimney!). While writing this post, I asked my son what does Santa represent for him. He responded it’s the excitement of opening different gifts on Christmas morning. Gifts from Mom, aunties, uncles, grandparents…and Santa. It doesn’t matter if it’s one gift per person it’s the idea that he received love from so many people on this day and for an only child that’s major.

So let’s tackle the first sentence in ALL CAPS, might I add, from the post-Stop telling kids expensive gifts are from Santa. I understand that other kids aren’t as fortunate. Hell, I was that “other kid”. Growing up we knew Christmas as Jesus’ Birthday and that’s all. Gifts under the tree weren’t ever from Santa, but like many kids, we watched the Christmas Story and all the other sappy, make believe movies about Christmas magic. I remember one year getting jeans (ugh, getting clothes for Christmas as a kid is the absolute worst) and a used (it wasn’t even in a box) Easy Bake Oven when my sister and I already had one. It didn’t get any better when we later visited our cousins’ house and saw all the cool stuff they got for Christmas that we didn’t. Based on my memory, that was the worst Christmas ever. But we never blamed Santa, we blamed our circumstances. Our mom was raising four kids on her own and money was always tight. Truth is, when you’re poor the fantasy is that Santa always has more money than your parents! A gift from Santa is exactly what we needed as kids.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I go into debt on Christmas just to impress my kid. It does mean that I use all the resources I can to make this day as magical as possible, even when the gifts are donated, discounted, refurbished, or used. When I was making minimum wage, I received Toys for Tots donations to place under the tree from Santa. When I couldn’t afford a huge tree, I decorated a small tabletop tree from the thrift store. Even with the advancement of my career, I still buy refurbished electronics and shop for the best deals. The hoverboard last year was from his Granddad that agreed to say the gift was from Santa. More importantly, I remind my son of the true meaning of Christmas, as we watch Christmas movies together, bake cookies, drive around to see Christmas lights, and bond. I even leave a bit of “Santa dust”, where I sprinkle a trail of flour and glitter on the floor to show Santa was here. In my opinion, it’s the magic of Christmas that makes kids feel good enough. A $10 toy from Santa can feel like a million bucks in a warm and loving home. It doesn’t take a lot of expensive toys or a huge budget to create Christmas magic and it doesn’t hurt to say a really good gift that you worked hard for is from Santa.

Join the discussion below. Do you think it’s not fair if Santa leaves some kids socks and others a hoverboard? Does it make a difference if the hoverboard was from a parent and the socks were from Santa?

A Letter To Society

Comparison is the thief of joy. This also goes for when others compare you to the norm. For so long, I questioned why I wasn’t more a certain way. The answer is simple: life isn’t meant to be lived in a box.

Dear Society,

You can keep your box.

For so long I questioned why I didn’t enjoy the monotone, barely there, beige is the new black-modern, minimalist decor aka be like the Kim Kardashian’s of the world. Fact is, I’m more of a Drew Barrymore. A wild flower that doesn’t want to be picked. The things I love most have a story to tell. That rug. Found buried under boxes at a garage sale. That lamp. Found at a thrift shop-surprised it actually works. That couch. Found sitting in a driveway and when it was too big to fit in my car, the owners loaded it in their vehicle and delivered it for free!

If everything is too new, too perfect, too perfectly placed, the space itself loses its soul. Treasured finds are constantly in rotation, drifting from room to room in search of the perfect home. And when I no longer feel a connection, I store them for a later inspiration or release them back into the universe. From thrift it came, to thrift it return.

This also reflects my philosophy on life. My closest friends are those who were drawn to me, where the bond was instant. When I feel a shift in energy, I pause to give it a chance to autocorrect and, if not, I give myself permission to walk away. I am incapable of making decisions too far in advance. I leave things up to chance and honor how I feel at the moment. I embrace small doses of chaos and the unknown, if everything is too perfectly still and predictable the normalcy drives my crazy.

I’ve learned to accept my oddities. Move that rug for the hundredth time unapologetically. Avoid accidents as I swerve across multiple lanes to follow an estate sale sign. I’ve learned to be more of ME and love every indecisive, need to get a grip, so what if this doesn’t match I’m wearing it, unrelenting, wild child minute. And although I may look back from time to time and wish I was more like the rest, I know no matter how hard I try, the box will never fit.

Moroccan Connections

On August 4, 2017, my family and I welcomed an exchange student from Casablanca, Morocco into our home!

Arriving in America marked Zineb’s first trip out of the country without family and friends. Neither of us knew what to expect. In the first few days we learned about each other. As time passed, we learned from each other.

Here’s our story…

May 2017– Within days of filling out a host family application, I was told there was a possible match. We were swept in the world wind of meeting other exchange host families and parents and undergoing the screening process, all while frantically removing the piled junk in our spare bedroom that we had been using for storage.
Although, we knew Zineb was our match, we couldn’t contact her for at least a month until she received official notice and approval in her home country. Oh, the anticipation!

July 2017– We received official notification of Zineb’s arrival date and we placed our very first call! I actually dialed the number in Morocco not even thinking about international call fees. We eventually figured out that talking through social media was…well much more practical! One more month and she will be here!

August 2017– I knew there was no turning back as my son and I stood at the airport with welcome signs and balloons in our hand, searching the sea of faces for Zineb. It took for-ev-errr but there she was! Suddenly it hit me…I have a teenager! What do you do with those?! I would soon find out!

Zineb shared gifts she brought from her home-a boys Moroccan outfit for my son and a traditional Moroccan dress/Kaftan for me with matching shoes. So cute watching her get settled in!


October 2017– The first month was rough! From juggling early morning drop offs and afterschool pickups, to buying halal foods and cooking dinner every night, to explaining things I’ve never thought to explain before! Although Zineb speaks nearly-perfect English and has quickly adapted to our culture, I know the transition is difficult for her. Through all the excitement, I can still see the sadness from missing her family and friends.

November 2017– Zineb turns 16! We celebrated with a huge “Sweet Sixteen” party! Every day gets a bit easier…

My cousin visited for Thanksgiving and we cooked a feast! Zineb made Moroccan treats from scratch. As we all sat around the table and shared our blessings, I felt whole – as if Z’ was part of our family all along.

December 2017– This month marks Zineb’s very first Christmas. I never laughed so hard from trying to explain Christmas traditions, like why we leave out milk and cookies for Santa. I wasn’t laughing however when Zineb opened a UPS package of presents for under the Christmas tree (spoiler alert!). I’m quite sure my son had something to do with reassuring her it was okay to open them!

This month also marks our first family trip! We went sledding on the dunes at White Sands National Monument, an incredible experience. The sand really does look like snow. Then, we spent the night in El Paso, TX ( one hour drive away) and visited the shops and sights near the Mexico border the next morning. Driving back on Christmas Eve with hidden presents to wrap (what the kids hadn’t opened already) made for a very long night! Yet, nothing compared to watching my son and Zineb’s excitement on Christmas morning.

January 2018– I never imagined I would feel so fulfilled as a host mom. Since her arrival, Zineb has been patient with us as she shared her culture and traditions. We are still learning to be mindful of her prayer times and respectful of the foods she can not eat. This month also marks the halfway/mid year point.

February 2018– Viva Las Vegas! When your best friend is moving to Las Vegas, NV and invites your family along you DO it! Although much of our time was spent unpacking boxes than shopping and sightseeing, we had a ton of fun!

March 2018– Denver here we come! This time it was all work for me, having to attend a conference. I managed to skip a few sessions to explore downtown Denver with the kids. We made the most of the trip spending nearly 4 hours in IKEA and visiting my cousin and his family in Colorado Springs.

Spring Break– Zineb travelled to California to visit a fellow Moroccan exchange student living there with his host mom. So glad to have the support of other host families near and far!


April 2018– Prom anyone?!? Oh the reminders of a having an instant teenager! It was an all-day affair from hair appointments to doing her makeup. Zineb was absolutely stunning! I was a bit nervous as any mom would be on prom night. All’s well that ends well.

May 2018– Where did the time go? Last day of school is May 23rd. The exchange program’s pre-return orientation is May 26th. Everyone is a bit somber, trying not to think about the inevitable. My grandmother visiting us is a great distraction. Zineb told me she reminder her of her own grandmother-a gift to us all.

June 2018- 10 months gone-just. like. that. We survived something new and unfamiliar, yet we became so close that it was hard to let go. Zineb from Morocco had become “Z” my Moroccan daughter. I felt relieved (that I survived with minimal damage) and sad (because her presence felt so organic) at the same time.

On June 5th, we were back in the same airport, with the same signs. This time, or hearts and smiles were different. They both grew.

Today, Zineb is 17 and on track to graduate high school in Morocco by 2020. She plans on returning to the US to pursue college.

Zineb came to study in the U.S. through the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study (YES) Abroad Program, hosted through AFS.

To learn more about YES, go to https://exchanges.state.gov/us/program/kennedy-lugar-youth-exchange-study-yes-abroad

If interested in becoming a host parent, please visit https://www.afsusa.org