This year, I am thinking about gifting earlier than usual. Due to social distancing measures, the threat of rising cases of coronavirus, slower-than-usual mail, and a busy November, I don't particularly want to find myself at a crowded mall a couple days before Christmas. I also knew that I really wanted to highlight local small businesses. Check out some of these shops and start checking those gifts off your list!
Selah Skin Studio - Selah is a holistic skincare studio offering hand batched clean skincare for your skin + soul. They will include a hand written note with your special message on all gift orders. I have been using their face masks and serum for a few years now, and they are incredible. I have also gifted their products on multiple occasions and they are always a hit!
Droplets of Love - Jennifer makes unique natural products for all ages for hair, skin, and everyday emotional support, using high quality oils and herbs, as well as pure, steam distilled essential oils. Her products are made from my smoke free home and shipped within the U.S. Aside from that, she offers products from DŌTERRA, which can be purchased on the site. All of her products are made with love and with you in mind. If there is something specific you are looking for, just ask her. Chances are, she can make it to suit your unique situation. Whether you are looking to improve your hair, or you have skin goals that seem unattainable, she can help. Her Persephone night time elixir is a staple in my skincare routine.
Mari Cabrera, Mary Kay - This Christmas, give a tired friend the gift of self care with these amazing hydrogel patches! Personal Skincare and Makeup Consulting services - Mary Kay products ranging from personal care to skincare and makeup. Mari has been in business for over 8 years and serves customers across the U.S. She can help you check off gifts for almost anyone on your list!
Plume Home Decor - Plume Home Decor is a globally inspired home accessories boutique offering a variety of interior design objects, cushions, florals, and table top decor. They also offer interior design services! Gift cards are also available. They have beautiful, unique pieces, and are always willing to help answer your questions.
The Family Candle Shop - Who doesn't love a candle? This shop, run by a mother/daughter duo, offers 100% soy wax candles. Made with all ingredients made in the USA. Poured in small batches in Miami, Florida.
Bee Made Handcrafted - This small local shop makes beautiful handcrafted items for the home. These make great gifts for almost anyone on your list!
Meet Lala - This is a curvy boutique in Miami serving our fellow plus size gals offering sizes XL - 3X. Their mission is to offer the boutique experience to the plus size community, by featuring thoughtfully curated pieces, including everything from their “not so basic” basics to styles for every occasion in sizes XL - 3X (sometimes 4X).
Taudrey - Taudrey is an all-female-led jewelry brand focused on connecting and empowering women through meaningfully personalized accessories. Their mission, their brand, and their work ethic are definitely setting a gold standard. I'll have a collaboration launching with them later this month so stay tuned for that!
Grow & Design - Natalie turned her hobby into a business after losing her job in the pandemic. She creates meaningful pieces - from earrings to decor with polymer clay. She actually sent me this heart shaped diffuser for the car, so I can have my essential oils diffusing when I'm on the go! Because her pieces are made with clay, you can add oils to the earrings, too - especially helpful for these anxiety-ridden times! She prays her pieces can give hope and peace. They are handmade with a lot of love.
So Me Jewelry - So Me Jewelry is a local handmade jewelry company that prides itself in creating on trend affordable pieces. Sophie started her business nearly 4 years ago on a total whim at 15 years old. Since then it has continued to flourish and grow in so many ways. They offer everything from bracelets, earrings and necklaces. This holiday season they're adding rings to their collection as well. They are also in the process of creating brand new packaging since this year many people may be receiving gifts via mail and they want the unboxing experience to be as special as ever.
Pretty Girl Charm - A luxury jewelry business that specializes in personalization and making your dream pieces come to life. Lina and Sarah are best friends and mommies to best friends that decided to make their love for dainty jewelry into a full time career. Every piece is gold filled and hand made with love. Whether it is your little one's initial on a gorgeous chain or a “Mommy and Me” set you can share with your little one, their goal is to make something you will always cherish.
Press Pause Essential Oil Diffuser Bracelets - Miami Mom, Janelle Fuente, is an advocate of pressing pause on the daily hustle to enjoy our life and the people right in front of us. When she's not encouraging us to care for ourselves through her blogs and on Instagram, she's creating tools such as these "Press Pause" Essential Oil Diffuser Bracelets to empower women with the ability to “press pause” from anywhere at any time to ground and gather ourselves. Janelle is a Miami native, a mompreneur of one (with another on the way) and 10% of her earnings goes back into our local community through charity.
GT Stitchery - GT Stitchery offers custom embroidery and personalized gifts. Their products include one of a kind personalized masks and holiday apparel. They will also be offering embroidered hats, baby blankets, masks and towels in our holiday sale. GT Stitchery is proudly run by a Miami mom of three little kids, and everything in their shop is custom made with love.
Little Owly - Little Owly is a boutique featuring apparel, accessories, play and decor, bath and wellness, feeding, nursery products and more for newborns and children up to age 6. They carefully curate each item in their store with products from across the globe for little ones to wear, create, explore, play and be inspired everyday. They are a place for families by family.
Caprilina - Caprilina is a baby brand, run by a local mom. They offer personalization of baby clothing items, blankets, and other items for baby.
Food & Drink
Pudding Parlor - A variety of homemade puddings include classic banana pudding, chocolate hazelnut, triple chocolate, and seasonal flavors such as pumpkin gingersnap, cinnamon apple and boozy banana. All puddings are made to order. If you have a small gathering you'd like to take a sweet treat to, this is your ticket to wowing your host (or your guests!). This pudding is homemade and so creamy and delicious.
Obvious Wines - Sustainable, Vegan & Obvious Wines! Because you can NEVER go wrong with a bottle of wine. My fave from this lineup? Bright & Crisp - but be careful, it's kind of like drinking juice!
A Taste of Well Being - In a year when so many of us have been focused on health, why not give someone you love a gift that will benefit their health? Alexandra offers personalized nutrition & health programs without fad diets, specific to your health needs. The nutrition programs focus on healthy habits for long-term health success. Each program establishes balanced eating habits with meal plans, nutrition education, virtual consultations, and healthy lifestyle habits. No matter your health, nutrition, weight loss, weight gain, or lifestyle goals the program will benefit your long-term health success.
VxV Consulting - VxV Consulting is a financial coaching firm that provides personalized insight, guidance and trusted advice for women and families. They provide independent, fee-based financial consulting services. They do not sell or manage any investments directly but offer personalized financial consulting services. Initial 30 minute consult is complimentary and can be scheduled directly on their site. What a great gift to give to anyone entering a new stage of life, or even yourself!
Shop Hello Happy - Shop Hello Happy was born out of a passion to make others smile and well, in this hectic world, to also bring some simplicity and ease to your shopping needs. They believe in gift giving and celebrating the little things in life. They hope you find what you are looking for in their shop and that you even treat yourself to a little something too. Our store carries gift items for home, her, kids and much more!
Miami isn't necessarily known for being a Mecca of all things fall, but over the years, our balmy city has grown to love all things pumpkin and spice. And while we sure do love us some classic Pumpkin Spice Latte action, there are also some really creative people out there who have put that fall flavor into some of our classic Miami offerings. If you're in the mood for a fresh take on some of the classics, check out these fall treats to try in Miami.
Pumpkin y Queso Pastelitos from Vicky Bakery
A fall twist on the favorite pastelito de guayaba y queso - perfect for a breakfast treat or a snack with your afternoon cafecito.
Pumpkin Gingersnap Banana Pudding from The Pudding Parlor
I didn't even know how much I liked banana pudding, and this one, homemade and with this deliciously spiced take, has me slightly obsessed.
Pumpkin Spice Cake Donut from The Salty
Their brown butter donut is my favorite because I'm not a HUGE donut fan. And this is a pumpkin spice version of that. So good.
Pumpkin Pie Milkshake from The Berry Farms
I mean, if I took pumpkin pie and ice cream and threw them in a blender, this is what it might taste like.
Pumpkin Spice Key Lime Pie from Bakey Shop
REAL key lime pie is one of my absolute favorite desserts. Bakey Shop has come up with some incredible versions of key lime pie, and this pumpkin spice one was a thousand times better than I could have imagined. A good alternative to a regular pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving!
I've tried each of these, and they're all amazing. But them get while you can, because fall won't last long (if we truly get it at all in Miami)!
In the midst of a global pandemic, being outdoors is really one of the places where I feel safe. With plenty of sun and humidity, and a pretty natural affinity to stay away from other groups, the beach makes sense for us. Especially if we are able to keep our distance from others. For us, the beach is truly our happy place. I get to sit (sometimes) uninterrupted while the kids play in the sand, and then we all go splash around in the water together for a little bit, and then I get another break. The beach usually means an early bedtime, or at least solid sleep, and being outdoors just makes us all much happier humans.
We've managed to make it out to the beach a few times, including once when I went without hubby, and we are currently staying on the beach for a week (more on that next week). My beach bag looks pretty much the same from year to year, with the exception of a few updated products.
Because the kids are getting older, it's starting to get much easier to pack for things like a day at the beach. Chloe being potty trained makes a huge difference for sure! Either way, here are my beach bag must-haves in 2020. I didn't include things like beach chairs, umbrellas, or towels, because those are pretty much a given for us. We have these really great beach chairs that you can wear as a backpack, they lie flat, and they have two zippered compartments on the back of the chair - one insulated, one not.
There you have it, our beach basics! What would you add to this list?
*This post has been sponsored by HITN Learning. All opinions are my own.
In our home, one of the biggest pieces of heritage that we want to pass along to our children is the ability to speak Spanish. When Caleb was little, we spoke to him exclusively in Spanish. Over the years, between watching TV in English, starting school, and general laziness on my part, his Spanish has gone to the birds. I have some friends who have been so consistent with speaking to their kids in Spanish that they can hold all their conversations in both languages, and that’s truly what I hope to be able to work on with our kids. We’ve been making a much bigger effort to speak to them in Spanish, and we have already noticed a difference.
Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by HITN Learning at Barnes and Noble, where I had the chance to speak with bilingual education advocate and TEDx speaker Dr. Mariana Díaz-Wionczek on how to raise bilingual children in today’s multicultural world. Mariana is a Hispanic mom, researcher, and academic. She has served as producer and Head of Education, Cultural Content & Research for several Nick Jr. productions including Dora the Explorer, Dora & Friends, and Go, Diego, Go!
I was able to chat with her one on one and I loved some of the information she gave me. Here are some of the tips she gave me and other parents there:
The Cleo & Cuquin Family Fun! Math Kits & App are a tool that we can utilize as parents to enrich our children’s learning experiences and encourage them to speak in Spanish. They offer engaging, child-centered bilingual print and digital materials, and hands-on activities. The kits focus on key math skills that create a strong foundation for Kindergarten learning. There are three math kits available: Counting, Sorting, and 3D Shapes.
We received the Cleo & Cuquin Family Fun! Counting Math Kit& App. Some of the skills it works on are counting to 10 and reading and writing numerals 0-9. The content in the kit is exciting and fun so it motivates kids to practice, and engages children through play, using manipulatives and digital content to reinforce essential skills. Caleb absolutely loves the app, and has started to understand it even when it is in Spanish mode. You can switch the app from Spanish to English, so it doesn’t matter what level your children are at. He also loves the game, especially when he wins (which he does almost every time).
As a former teacher, I really love that this kit addresses all kinds of learning styles and that it involves the parents. It’s not just your child sitting in front of an app and doing something independently - it requires you as the parent to get involved and practice your own Spanish! You can purchase one of these kits for your own children at Barnes and Noble. (Counting Kit, Sorting Kit, 3D Shapes Kit)
I love that Caleb is starting to become more interested in speaking Spanish and as long as he is trying, I’m going to continue to encourage him in any way I can!
Today is World Homeless Day, and in order to shed some light on homelessness, several local bloggers were invited to the Chapman Partnership. Eddie and I decided that this would be a really great opportunity to serve outside of our church and school community, and set a good example for our kids. I also truly believe that with this platform that I have built, I have the obligation to share with my followers things that are a need in our communities. We were given a tour of the facility and then we had the opportunity to serve lunch to the residents.
The Chapman Partnership is an incredible organization that has truly been designed with its residents and their dignity in mind. One of the things that our Volunteer Specialist Jessie told us is that many people are just one paycheck away from homelessness. A lot of the thoughts that people have about homelessness are misconceptions. Not every person who is homeless is in their situation because of drug or alcohol abuse. Some are, but there are so many other reasons why people fall on hard times, and everyone is entitled to try and pave their way to a better life with dignity. This is something that the Chapman Partnership really embodies.
Chapman Partnership is the private sector partner of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, and they operate two Homeless Assistance Centers located in downtown Miami and Homestead. The Chapman Partnership empowers homeless men, women and children to build a positive future by providing the resources and assistance critical to growth, stability, and independence.
They provide a wide array of support services that go far beyond just emergency shelter to include comprehensive case management, health, mental and dental care, day care, job development and training, job placement, permanent housing assistance and other support from a variety of social service agencies all under one roof to 800 men, women and children daily. Unlike many other shelters, the Chapman Partnership does not have a limit to how long someone can be in residence.
During our tour we learned just how much The Chapman Partnership does for those experiencing homelessness. From intake to outplace, they truly give those in their centers all the tools they need to become independent. They have a medical clinic manned by nurse practitioners from Jackson, mental health services, and a mobile dental clinic (where they perform all dental procedures except for orthodontics). All of this is provided at no cost to the residents. If their needs cannot be met there, they are given a voucher to receive services at Jackson.
We were able to visit the dorms - they have three separate areas: one for families, one for single men, and one for single women. While their largest population is single males, a large percentage of the homeless population does include women and families. At the Chapman Partnership, 44 percent of residents are families with children, and they have taken that into account. Their family dorms are designed for families of four, but for those with larger families, adjoining rooms allow for families to stay together, as that is one of their primary goals when it comes to families.
They serve three hot meals per day, as well as bagged lunches for those who leave for work and school. They provide child care with an on-site day care through the Head Start program through MDCPS, and they have a Family Resource Center where children can go after school to work on homework and enrichment activities, and where children can spend free time reading books, doing arts & crafts, or playing video games. Other services include life skills training, legal services, social security services, vocational training, job placement, financial literacy, substance abuse counseling and housing placement.
Because of their commitment to providing comprehensive services to their residents, the Chapman Partnership has a 64% success rate in outplacing their residents into permanent or transitional housing.
Ways You Can Help
We learned about the 1% Food & Beverage Tax* today and I thought it was really interesting - I actually had no idea about it! The Chapman Partnership receives a little over 60% of their funding from The Homeless Trust. The rest is private beneficiaries and fundraising efforts. The Homeless Trust is funded by the 1% Food & Beverage Tax.
There was so much to take in while we were visiting Chapman, and I wish I could share all the information we learned and all the amazing things that they do there. But know that when you donate to the Chapman Partnership, it is truly all going back to the residents and their betterment.
For more information about the Chapman Partnership, how you can get involved, and their services, head over to https://chapmanpartnership.org.
And as always, let’s count our blessings.
*What is the 1% Food and Beverage Tax?
At the time of the Homeless Trust’s funding, it was clear that the private sector alone could not support the needs of the community. The Florida Legislature, supported by Governor Lawton Chiles and the Miami-Dade County Commission, made it possible for there to be a 1% sales tax on food and beverages sold in the larger restaurants in our community. Fifteen percent of the funds received would be allocated to the Domestic Violence Oversight Board.
Specifics on the Tax:
A one percent (1%) Homeless and Domestic Violence Tax is collected on all food and beverage sales by establishments that are licensed by the State of Florida to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, except for hotels and motels. Only businesses that make over $400,000 in gross receipts annually are obligated to collect this tax.
The Homeless and Domestic Violence Tax is collected throughout Miami-Dade County with the exception of facilities in the cities of Miami Beach, Surfside and Bal Harbour. Eighty-five percent (85%) of the tax receipts goes to the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, and fifteen percent (15%) goes to Miami-Dade County for domestic violence centers.
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