Hey y’all, hey!! Welcome back to Simply Divine! If this is your first time visiting the blog, thank ya’ kindly. I appreciate ya! This blog is not your average blog - it’s a refreshing and sometimes comical mix of all things that I love and am passionate about. My journey as a Christian woman, wife, mother, 40+-year-old grandmother, entrepreneur, foodie, writer - shared on this platform with all who will engage and ride along with me. Let’s get it!
This is THE YEAR. OF. THE. WOMAN. And over here, around these parts, we will be celebrating, highlighting, and empowering ALL women ALL. YEAR. LONG. I just believe this year we’re going to see history in the making with herstory, yourstory, and mystory. As a matter of fact, my sistah, Tanisha shared this with me yesterday during the Super Bowl half-time (insert side-eye) and I want to share it with y’all!! It's Transformation Church's Pastor Mike Todd's "history in the making" remix AND it is my whole entire #mood and #vibe this year and beyond. Check it out! Click the pic to view video!
YEAR OF THE WOMAN - Lauran Smith.
As promised, last week I had the pleasure of featuring in my latest Chicago Defender article another phenomenal woman who further validates my “year of the woman” theme this year. Lauran Smith, founder of Chicago Black Restaurant Week (CBRW) is in her sixth year of hosting this week-long celebration and advocacy for Black-owned restaurants in Chicagoland. This year, when many counted this event out due to the pandemic, Lauran beat the odds. Not only is CBRW happening, the kick-off was yesterday, but it’s been extended to two weeks, February 7-21. And, and, and, she has broken her last year’s record of 60 registered restaurants to over 100 participating restaurants this year! You cannot tell me what a woman cannot do when faced with adversity - we GET. STUFF. DONE (even in the midst of a pandemic). Baby, boo and bye!! Lauran created CBRW to give Black-owned restaurants a platform to showcase their culinary masterpieces and as a vehicle to drive support from the city of Chicago and beyond to these establishments. This year’s CBRW proudly and humbly boasts partnerships with Uber Eats and My Block, My Hood, My City. Additionally, Lauran has been featured on mainstream media outlets such as Windy City Live, Fox News, NBC 5 Chicago, Eater, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Suntimes, and Timeout, to name a few. The restaurants are offering special meal deals during this two-week celebration of Black culture by way of Black cuisine. Please check out the full article on the Chicago Defender’s website - Chicago Black Restaurant Week launches in time for the Super Bowl.
Listen, my Chicagoland foodies - head on over to Lauran's CBRW’s website, https://chiblackrestaurantweek.com/2021-cbrw-participants/ or official Instagram page, @officialchicagobrw to get a full list of all 100+ participating restaurants. Every week this month I will be highlighting ONE restaurant that is “new to me” from the CBRW list. Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of visiting a “new to me” coffee shop located on the southside of Chicago, Afro Joe’s Coffee & Tea, 8344 S. Halsted. The husband and wife owners, Kendall and Aisha were so pleasant and a pure joy to talk to. They are super excited to be participating in CBRW this year which provided them a spot on Uber Eats massive list of places to dine by delivery. Afro Joe’s special offering for this two-week-long culinary feast is a short rib grilled cheese and a salmon BLT. If that doesn’t appeal to you (and I’m side-eying you if it does not, just joking), you can try one of their popular menu items like the Avocado Toast or The Englewood sandwich. Check them out on Instagram, @Afrojoes and take a look at the LIVE video of my first-time visit to their spot here - Afro Joe’s, Divine Dine Approved. Let me pause right here to shout-out my girl, Cassandra for giving me a gift card to this phenomenal place. Did mention they have the BEST caramel macchiato I’ve ever had??
YEAR OF THE WOMAN - Chelsie Tamms.
I must salute my sister from another mister who I recently met and connected with during my Women’s Business Development Center’s (WBDC) Scaleup Course last Fall (2020). Let me just say that this real quick: this course was nothing short of amazing. I learned so much about myself and my business including how to be profitable in a pandemic and maintain success post-COVID, how to get out of my pity party, and pivot, PERIOD. And, the cherry on top, was the amazing instructors and fellow classmates whom I connected with and learned so much from during this 9-week class. ScaleUP was a tremendous blessing and I promise y’all, they are a HUGE PART OF this blog taking off and all that I have taken on over the last few months. Alrighty then back to my girl Chelsie. She is the owner of Lettering Works, a Chicago-based branding studio. She just launched an online course, Self-Made Artist Academy that teaches artists how to turn their passion, their art into a sustainable career. Her design skills are FIRE, and she truly exemplifies Girl Power and has a passion for empowering other women. All of this and so much more grants Ms. Chelsie Tamms a spot on Simply Divine’s Year of the Woman “wall of fame”. Hahaha, I just made that up but it’s cool, right?!! Let me show you why Chelsie is so dope. You see the pic below? Out of the kindness of her heart and her genuine compassion for helping other people, especially other women-owned businesses, she sent me FREE stickers to include in my gift boxes - “Nevertheless she persisted” and “If you get tired learn to rest NOT QUIT”. When I opened up the envelope filled with these beautifully crafted stickers, my heart melted. She didn’t have to do this but she did. I am so grateful and blessed to have connected with this superb #sisterpreneur. I wish her all the success in the world. Learn more about Chelsie and Lettering Works LLC here. Also, be sure to follow her on Instagram, @letteringworks.
I can already hear you, “girl what the heck is Galentine’s day?” It is only the ultimate celebration of girl power, female friendships & sisterhood. This year, Galentine’s Day is super duper special because I was able to truly carry out one of the missions of my business, Divine320: to always find opportunities to connect and collaborate with like-minded women entrepreneurs AND establish healthy, fruitful, long-lasting relationships with them. For Galentine’s Day, I was able to do just that.
Divine320 partnered with TWO extraordinary #sisterpreneurs whose products are featured in my newly launched gift box “The Goalfriend”. Robin, owner of Thrifted Candle Company created wax melts specifically for this box called the “goalfriend”, a pineapple and watermelon scented aromatically pleasing masterpiece. D’Nita, owner of Sweets Addict Bakery and Cafe in Country Club Hills is gracing this gift box with one of her delicious, moist, and flavorful cupcakes like strawberry crunch, red velvet cheesecake, chocolate raspberry, okay, I’ll stop now. These two ladies helped me execute my vision for this box. When I asked them, they were all in without hesitation. They didn’t have to accept my invitation but they did. And that’s what Galentine’s Day is all about - honoring other dope women; empowering each other, helping each other be our best selves with no side-eyes, no judgment, no drama...ALL “YES HUNNNNYYYY!” Period. I am proud to announce that my new Galentine’s Day gift box sold out in ONE WEEK. I am even more excited to announce that starting next month, this box will be offered year-round. Yep, yep, you’ll be able to show your gal pals, your girl squad love and appreciation all year long. In addition to all of this, my hope and prayer are that both of these awesome women entrepreneurs will gain more visibility and financial support through this collaboration. It’s really seeing women win together for me!
A Vegas Valentine's.
Listen, my husband and I have been through one hell of a ride these past 9+ years of marriage. If I can be honest, we probably saw more gloomy days than sunshiney days. However, thanks to our commitment to God and our covenant vows, and our willingness to give it ONE MORE TRY, 2020 was the BEST YEAR OF OUR MARRIED LIVES. YEP, YOU READ RIGHT. In the midst of a pandemic, every aspect of our lives including and mostly our marriage was tried, tested, frazzled, fried, turned upside down, and challenged. Our relationship was extremely fragile and this pandemic could have potentially been the end of the #dynamicduo (the name we gave ourselves when we were dating, 11 years ago!). We could have parted ways and just said “flip it, I’m out!” Instead, we focused on the reason why we got married in the first place. We weighed the pros and the cons and more importantly evaluated our individual contributions to what made our marriage so sour and lifeless. We both acknowledged that we had not done all that we could to make our marriage better. We sat down and agreed to give it our all and our best and most importantly - GET OUT OF OUR FEELINGS - ELIMINATE OUTSIDE INFLUENCE AND PUT GOD FIRST. Was it easy? Did we want to give up? Did we still let our feelings dictate our progress? Yes, yep, you better believe it. The difference this time was that we both decided to be all in for US, period. I can now HONESTLY say that our marriage is restored and rejuvenated. We had to learn to respect each other’s differences and faults. And, I know this may sound like whaaaaat or cliche-ish but we had to fall in love with each other all over again. So from March to December 2020, that’s what we did - we worked on ourselves - individually and collectively. It was a difficult journey filled “what in the basement floor of hell did I sign up for?” moments - but it was worth it and it WORKED!! I am not oblivious that some marriages just will not work no matter how hard and long you work at making it work. Did that make sense? But, I know without a doubt that God transformed our marriage. Are we the perfect couple? Far from it. Are we a better couple? Abso-darn-lutely! He turned our misery to ministry and I promised Him that I would encourage other married couples to stick with it if they believed deep down in their hearts that their marriage was worth the fight. My disclaimer: you have to want to fight for your marriage. No one can or should make that decision for you. You know when you’ve had enough and no longer have the desire to fight. No judgment here. God bless e’erybody. Seriously!
Okay, okay, again, I know what y’all are thinking: “Kim, what the heck does this have to do with ‘a Vegas Valentine’s?’” Alright, I’ll tell you!! Last December, we decided NOT to exchange Christmas gifts but to save for our first of many PRE-anniversary celebrations. We plan to KICK IT ALL YEAR LONG, starting with a mini-vacay to Vegas for Valentine’s Day. Aaaaaayyyeeeee!!! Our actual anniversary date is May 21st but we are celebrating EVERY. MONTH. OF. THIS. YEAR. Baby we deserve it!! PERIODDDTT!
I know they say ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ but as a blogger, a traveler, and a foodie, I have to share our trip with y’all. Well, you know the need-to-know stuff anyway, like places to go, dine, etc., etc. Good girls never tell-all, right ladies?
Small steps...Big wins! Entrepreneurial tips, tidbits, and tools.
If you're running a for real for real business (more than a side hustle or hobby), GET. A BUSINESS. EMAIL. ADDRESS. It's easier than you think AND it will not break the bank. Start here and let it bless your life as an entrepreneur - https://workspace.google.com/products/gmail/. I’m sharing because I want to and it’s time for you to drop the @yahoo and @gmail for your business email addresses. I’m just saying and this is my humble opinion only. I use it for both of my businesses and I only pay $6 for each…$12 per month. (Disclaimer: Google is not paying me to provide y’all with this information.)
Just a tease of what’s on tap for the rest of February...
Marchin' into March Like A Boss…
Body ody ody ody ody ody ody…
Socially Fit & Fabulous…
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May your day, week, and year be filled with love, laughter, joy, and all things Simply Divine.
There will be people who say to you, ‘You are out of your lane. They are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be. But don't you let that burden you. -Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States