Life with thatgirlcarmel: Feb. 2016

Life with thatgirlcarmel: Feb. 2016

We’re almost at the end of the first quarter of 2016 and I have to say, this month was a bit of a busy blur. I’ve been working like a mad woman, and I’m happy to start finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (well, not the end of the tunnel, but the beginning of a new tunnel). I’ll share more about what’s been keeping me so busy in the coming months, but for now, apart from work and business, here’s what I got into in February…


Getting organized

This month, Jave and I have been focused on getting organized. I’ll share something personal with you: years ago, one of my close relatives was a bona fide hoarder. Like, this person could’ve literally been on the TLC show, Hoarding: Buried Alive. Every square inch of this person’s house was filled with junk, “collectables”, and other random things with zero value that this person just couldn’t bear to throw away. Whenever I visited this person’s house, it was seriously depressing; I still have nightmares about it. True story.

So whenever I start seeing clusters of clutter in my own house – whether it’s my clutter or Jave’s – it drives me nuts, and I go on an organizing frenzy. It’s especially hard to control clutter when you live in such a small space like our condo because we only have a limited amount of storage. So while we both made great strides to declutter this month, we still have more areas where we can improve.

About twice a year – before my usual summer and winter shopping sprees – I go through my closet and sort through all of the clothes and shoes I don’t wear anymore or just can’t fit in anymore and I set them aside for donation. I’ll admit that it’s sometimes hard to get rid of certain “size goal” pieces of clothing I’ve been holding onto or shoes that are super cute but that I’ve only worn once because they hurt my feet.

When it comes to paperwork, there are certain documents that I have to keep originals of which I store in decorative bins/baskets. But when it comes to other paperwork like business receipts or documents that don’t require me to keep an original, I’ve started scanning them or photographing them, and then I email them to myself and file them away in e-mail folders or cloud storage. Let me tell you – the $1.99/month I pay for Google Drive storage is soooo worth it – not just for paperwork but for photos, my website backups, etc. Worth it!


Health & fitness

I always seem to get sucked in by infomercials, but I must admit that I’ve found some great products while watching them. I usually end up buying some sort of new workout regimen, and my recent purchase of Chalene Johnson’s workout system, PiYo, is no different.

All of the other infomercial workouts I’ve bought usually involve the use of weights or some sort of equipment, but the great thing about this workout is that you use your own body weight to sculpt long, lean muscles. PiYo is a combo of Pilates and yoga techniques, and although I’m not a yoga fan, I know that it has great benefits in terms of building strength and flexibility. Plus, unless I’m in samba class, I need a low impact workout that creates results.

My video arrived last week, and since it’s the start of a new week, I’m looking forward to getting started with my workout regimen today! I’ll let you know how I’m progressing.

Also, I’ve been making an effort to eat a lot more fruits and veggies this month whether it’s been through juicing or incorporating more veggies into my meals – even breakfast. I’ve definitely noticed a difference – my body feels cleaner.

While we already shop for certain organic groceries like eggs and milk, for example, I told Jave that part of my goal for cleaner eating is to eventually transition to an all organic diet. It’s definitely a pricey goal which is why I know it’s going to take some time to eventually have a 100% organic grocery list. But I know that it’ll be worth it. I strongly believe that diseases like cancer are linked to the foods we eat, and I want to make sure that I’m not poisoning myself with pesticides and GMOs.

In other news, my niece and nephew (twins) turned 21 this month!!
In other news, my niece and nephew (twins) turned 21 this month!!
#BHM recap

In case you missed my Black History Month posts here on the blog, please take some time to get caught up and share them! In my first post I wrote about our visit to Colón, a province in Panama where you’ll find a lot of the country’s West Indian culture. While there, we visited the Black Christ Church in Portobelo, where thousands of religious pilgrims visit each year to worship the statue of the Black Christ and seek healing.

Next, I wrote about the African American Firefighter Museum in downtown L.A. and the reasons you should prioritize a visit there, even if you’re not into firefighting. I’m certainly not that interested in firefighting, but I left the museum feeling quite proud of the hardships that black people have overcome to pave the way for the rest of us.

In my third #BHM post, I shared the story behind Biddy Mason Park in downtown Los Angeles. Biddy was one of the city’s most noted real estate entrepreneurs and philanthropists who I’d never even heard of before taking a recent tour of downtown L.A. You’re sure to be inspired when you read her story.

To wrap up my #BHM series this year, I shared recommendations for some of my favorite black owned restaurants in L.A. Read this post if you want to know where you can eat an incredible meal while supporting a black owned business during your next visit to L.A.

Travel ideas

Last month you may remember I said that Jave and I have to cancel our spring travel plans to Asia due to scheduling conflicts. It kind of had me bummed at first, but I’ve since come up with a schedule to start knocking some places off of our California wish list starting with Ojai where we’ll be heading for a day trip next week. Other California trips in the works include a quick anniversary trip to the Central Coast in April, a surprise getaway for Jave’s bday in June, and perhaps a glamping trip in the desert in September.

Jave told me that he’s working on a getaway for my bday in July as well to someplace abroad. And although I’ll leave the planning up to him (for once), I’ve shared with him some places that I really, really want to go stateside: either Idaho (don’t judge me!!) or Maine. I’ve traveled extensively throughout the U.S., but these states have been on my wish list for the longest time, and I’d love to celebrate my bday out in nature this year.

Last, but not least, we’ve been brainstorming our big international trip this year. Where will we go? I’m really not sure yet. But we have lots of ideas on the table. All I know is that we most likely won’t be traveling abroad again until December. And surprisingly, I’m fine with that because we have a lot of other goals to work towards in the meantime.

PanIQ Room 

This past weekend, I met up with some friends to take part in our first ever escape game at PanIQ Room near Universal Studios. I’ve always heard about escape games, but I never knew how much fun they are!

Thanks to horrible L.A. traffic, I arrived about 15 minutes late for the game and when our host let me into our room, the Insane Asylum, my friends were already in there busy crawling around, looking for clues on the walls, etc. I’d never played an escape game before so I quickly put my purse down and jumped right in and asked what we were looking for.

“Keys and clues to get out of here!” was the resounding answer, and that’s how I got thrown into the madness.



We found clues and codes to unlock doors, and when we finally made it out of the first room, there was another room we had to make our way out of. The rooms are quite creepy and my friends told me that before I arrived, they didn’t even have any light in the first room until one of my friends found a random hidden light switch. In total, we only had an hour to make our way out of both rooms, and we managed to escape with one minute left on the clock.

It was so much fun that one of my friends has already decided that she wants to participate in another escape game for her upcoming bday, and I can’t wait! It’s a great team builder and a great way to test your IQ and ability to solve problems.

February Travel Deals

If you haven’t joined Time Card Express® for free discount travel deals, you’re missing out! Sign up, and get discounted travel deals sent straight to your inbox each week. Also, keep an eye on the monthly deals highlighted in the sidebar of this blog. Here’s a snapshot of February’s offers:

Photo courtesy of Distrikt Hotel
Photo courtesy of Distrikt Hotel

If you’re headed to NYC and looking for a stay at a centrally located, affordably luxe hotel, then book a stay at the stylish Distrikt Hotel in Midtown West. When you sign up for Time Card Express® for free, you’ll get 10% off of your stay. Click here for more details and to book your stay now.

Photo courtesy of Hush Hip Hop Tours
Photo courtesy of Hush Hip Hop Tours

While you’re in NYC, don’t miss out on the chance to learn about the history and culture of a musical genre we all know and love – hip-hop! Here’s your chance to take a unique tour led by DJs, B-boys, celeb emcees and graffiti artists through Hush Hip Hop Tours. Tours highlight landmarks in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. Join Time Card Express® for free and get a $10 discount on any tour. Click here to get this deal!

Photo courtesy of Cusco Culinary
Photo courtesy of Cusco Culinary

Headed to Cusco, Peru? Then you may as well learn how to cook like a Peruvian! Book the Culinary Experience offered by Cusco Culinary for a full on market to plate cooking class that’ll start with shopping at the San Pedro Market, followed by a lesson in mixing a Pisco Sour (Peru’s national drink), before moving on to learning how to cook an authentic Peruvian appetizer, entree, and dessert. And the best part is that you’ll get to eat (and drink) the fruits of your labor. For full details on how to book this experience, click here.

Photo courtesy of Casa Cool Beans B&B
Photo courtesy of Casa Cool Beans B&B

Last but not least, if a trip to Rio de Janeiro is in your future, don’t miss out on the chance to stay in the hipster, bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa at a B&B that’s won Tripadvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Award for the #1 B&B in Rio for 3 years, Casa Cool Beans. This intimate B&B features 10 guest rooms – all with private bathrooms. For the full scoop on Casa Cool Beans and to see how you can get 10% off of stays of 2 nights or more, click here.

So, that was my February in a nutshell. How was yours?

  • What a busy Feb!! I was just in Cali I review your Cali wish list and I definitely wanna go to Napa next time I go!

    • You and me both! I hope to make it to Napa sometime this year.

  • Jennifer (Mind of a Diva)

    Thank you so much for sharing that list of places to go in LA. I love learning and experiencing history like that when I’m traveling. Visiting those museums would be more meaningful to me then the tourist spots. Since my friend lives there I’m hoping to visit LA this fall. So these places are definitely going on my list.

    Plus I’m trying to get organized too! I’m going to be moving before the summer starts and I need to go through my clothes before I start packing my things. I don’t having a lot of clutter and things too, I guess it goes back to my OCD in a ways. But I struggle to giveway my ideal size clothes too. I know that during the winter I usually can’t wear them, but I pray that I will during the spring and summer. Fingers crossed!

    • Glad to offer some L.A. inspiration for your upcoming trip! I’m like you – I love exploring hidden gems. Good luck with your upcoming summer move too!

  • Jonna

    Sounds like you’re off to a great start for the year. That Hush Hip Hop Tour sounds like fun – I’ll have to put that on the list of things to do next time me and my husband are in NY. He loves tours where he can leave the hidden gems.

    • Yes – it looks so fun! Especially since the guides are ingrained in hip hop culture. You should definitely join Time Card Express so you can access the discounted booking code at

  • You are on it, I feel like I’ve had a bit of a false start. I’ve started and not finished several things. I need to get focus and hit these goals.

  • Joyce Brewer

    I’m planning an LA trip this summer. I’ll have to stop by the African American Firefighter Museum.

  • Valerie Robinson

    Sounds like an action-packed February for you! I’m the queen paper hoarder. I always think that I will need things for later…whenever that is lol.

  • You certainly got up to a lot.I can sum up my February in one sentence, waiting for March…that’s about it LOL. I am glad it is finally here, my brother is getting married this weekend and I can’t wait!

  • That escape game sounds fun, I wouldn’t mind playing. My February wasn’t quite as eventful.

  • You’ve had quite a February.

    I’m challenge with paper clutter: receipts, bills, menus, etc. All of it just piles up then I’m all over the place trying to get it filed or thrown out.

    I will be stateside this summer and I’d love to hang out in California. I haven’t visited in quite some time.

  • My mom is a hoarder and I feel I’m borderline. I’ve started working on ways to declutter my life because something has got to give.

    • Totally agree! I’d strongly encourage you to do whatever it takes to live clutter free.

  • Kay’s Ways

    You had an eventful February. I too go nuts when I start to see too much clutter with 3 kids in the house there’s enough toys here so I don’t need nothing else adding to it but still I do have some of them shoes that hurt like heck that I just can’t let go of smh. The escape things sounds pretty cool I’d so do that.

  • Kemkem

    Idaho?! I would have never pictured that. I am not judging you though :-). The Escape game sounds kind of exciting, but l might just be too panicky to fully enjoy it.. I would be game to try it though. Good luck with the fine tuning of the wardrobe. I always have a hard time getting rid of stuff.. Can’t wait to see what Jave comes up with 🙂 .

    • Thanks for not judging me – lol! Yes, I’ve always wanted to go to Idaho. It really has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty (at least from what I’ve seen in pictures).


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