Tag Archives: NaBloPoMo


27 Nov

Well looks like I again didn’t do so well with following a blog challenge. I did start NaBloPoMo late but I also skipped posting on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Honestly, I feel like the prompts are not very creative or inspiring. Some of the prompts seem to be similar to the ones provided when I did the blog challenge earlier this year.

I still want to be consistent with blogging and keep this place alive. I love writing and it’s the best way I know how to express myself. Plus, I’m not going to lie, it keeps me relevant to the social media profession by maintaining my own (outside of work) WordPress blog and keeping the related Facebook page and Twitter feed updated.

Anyway, since Thanksgiving is TOMORROW I want to talk about that! Right now my sister is preparing the turkey. She places it in wet brine a whole day before Thanksgiving to get it ready for roasting. Growing up, my mom would get our turkey “drunk” — her way of preparing the turkey was to put it in a beer marinade. We’ve done away with that but there is one food related tradition we kept, her yummy beef stuffing.

I’m fairly certain most families do not stuff their turkey with beef. As a kid I gobbled it down without a second thought, never knowing other families enjoyed bread-based stuffing (or some call it dressing). I was always aware of the boxed kind of stuffing, but didn’t realize there existed a freshly made type. It wasn’t until we started having Thanksgiving with my ex-step-dad’s family that I experienced other stuffing.

Someecards Thanksgiving Funny ecard

His mother is an excellent cook and her Thanksgiving meals were always amazing. I clearly remember the table was always missing one thing…beef stuffing. There were a few years that my mom made a batch and brought it over. But it wasn’t quite the same as when it bakes inside the turkey, juices flowing, meaty flavors mixing.

Now we always have her stuffing. It’s a requirement! This is a recipe my grandmother passed down and my mom makes it exactly the same way, unchanged over the years. This is at least what she says, and I’ll believe it! The recipe consists of ground beef, crumbled saltine crackers, peas, carrots, celery and other ingredients. I won’t list all of the ingredients here or her process — there needs to be some mystery behind the ground beef stuffing.

Does your family have any food traditions or traditions in general for Thanksgiving?

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Monique Is Blog 1st Annual Small Business Saturday 2013 Holiday Gift Guide

22 Nov

This year I’m doing something new! I’d like this Small Business Saturday Holiday Gift Guide to become a regular annual feature on this blog. I know some talented and motivated individuals who started their own side businesses to express their creativity. If you are looking for a unique gift for someone this year take a look at this gift guide to give you some ideas.

In case you don’t know about Small Business Saturday, it is recognized as the day after Black Friday and created by American Express to support small businesses during the holiday shopping season. I think it’s a brilliant idea! This year Small Biz Saturday is on November 30. Many shoppers head straight to the mall or big box stores to fulfill their holiday shopping lists but there are so many interesting and unique items out there created by small business owners. Let this guide give you some ideas for those on your list that are hard to shop for.

Monique Is Blog First Annual Holiday Gift Guide for Small Business Saturday

The format for this guide is: 1. Name and link to store with a one line description. 2. A short paragraph describing the store. 3. “My Pick” is an item I’m choosing to highlight because of it’s uniqueness and “giftability.”

*One more thing before we dive in–I was not paid by anyone and I’m not sponsored in any way by any of these small businesses. If I’ve received an item to sample I will notate it in the description.*

1. Heard and Seen – Handmade art and jewelry inspired by sound.

These pieces are truly special because the artist that creates these experiences something unique called synesthesia. This means she not only hears sound but sees sound as well. She explains it in her blog with further detail, click here to read. This inspires her to paint what she sees and then she transforms these paintings into unique tiny mosaics on the backs of scrabble tiles. The translation of these pieces of art is different for each person. What I see in one piece is different from what you might see.

My Pick:

I would pick any necklace from this store! They are each one of a kind pieces so once a necklace is gone–it’s gone for good!

2. Timeless Crafty –  A variety of hand crafted holiday decor plus tutus for little girls!

This shop focuses on timeless holiday decor items (see what I did there?) like Christmas wreaths and sets of angel ornaments. However, there are other things in this shop that would make great gifts like hand made clay sculpted earrings and tutus. Which brings us to…

My Pick:

This tutu would be the perfect Christmas gift for the girly-girl in your life. These tutus can be customized to your child’s measurements and the colors can be changed too. I like this color combo for Christmas photos.

3. Fierce Fantasy Designs – Specialty crafts inspired by the fantasy genre.

This shop is full of extremely cute items! If you have someone on your list that loves things that are totally unique and playful definitely visit this shop. One of the cutest items I came across was the Kitten in a Basket in a Bottle. A tiny clay kitten. In a basket. WITH balloons. All inside a bottle. And you can wear it. I die! It’s extremely adorable and there are other designs like a Tiny Bee on a Flower or Octopus with Mustache. But…

My Pick:

I’m choosing to highlight this gorgeous Steam Punk Heart Locket. This item is made from found items and was pieced together by hand.

For even more info, Like on Facebook.

3. MiA Bath and Body by Louie Candelaria – Customized bath and body products.

I reviewed MiA Bath and Body before on this blog and I honestly do like these products! These items are great because you can mix up your own scent recipe and choose the type of product you want plus add a color and custom message to the packaging.  I have personally tried these products and can say they are of good quality. It’s all natural organic ingredients.

My Pick:

I recommend this Holiday Hand Gift set. These are large generous sizes and although part of the fun of MiA is that you can design a scent recipe–this bundle you choose from two pre-made scents. So if you are in a hurry and don’t have time to create something just choose between Snow Angel (with shimmer) OR Spiced Apple Cider. Even better, this bundle includes gift wrap! I think this would be a great gift for a teacher, boss, babysitter, hair stylist, dog groomer–people you see regularly that you would like to show your appreciation to for their hard work.

Shop here!

Shop here! Includes free gift wrap.

For even more info, Like on Facebook.

4. South Hill Designs by CDelarosa – Unique jewelry that shows what you love.

South Hill Designs is a way to create customized lockets to show off your interests and loves. There are different types of these see through lockets and you can fill them with a variety of charms. There are so many charms to choose from and so many ways to customize. You can pick the type of metal, chain length, screens etc.

My Pick:

Ok so I know this is a Small Business SATURDAY post but they are having a Black Friday Special that I decided to highlight because it’s a great deal. You get to choose a locket and fill it for $9.95 with holiday charms! This is a great gift for someone in your life that LOVES Christmas. The person I’m imagining starts decorating and playing Christmas music on November 1st. They would love something cute and special like this!

For even more info, Like on Facebook here.

That’s a wrap! I hope you choose some small businesses to support this year as you check off the items on your gift list!

Monique Is Blog Small Business Saturday Holiday Gift Guide

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Confident Girl

21 Nov

The prompt for today is: “Describe an outfit that makes you feel good. (It can be from any period of your life.) Double points if you post a picture of yourself in the outfit.”

In high school I really wanted to be on the short flags team. I tried out to be on the team freshman year and didn’t make so I tried out again the following year and made the team. It’s just the kind of person I am–I never give up on my goals! Even though I felt awkward and ugly during those years I always felt my best on game day Fridays when I wore my uniform.

That uniform meant so much to me. I really earned it, like honestly truly earned the money for it myself. Not only did I not make the team the first time I tried out but when I finally did make the team I then had to figure out how to pay for the very expensive equipment needed to be on the team. Making the team was just the first hurdle.

I needed to buy a uniform that included a skirt, top, long sleeve under shirt, bloomers and special Nike shoes. I also needed a warm up suit consisting of custom pants and jacket. On top of that I needed to buy the duffel bag, also with custom embroidery, to store all my things in. We can’t forget the flags. I needed to purchases two flag poles from a specific vendor along with two sets of flags–one for practice and one for performance.

Then there were the extras like summer camp, matching customized team outfits to wear at camp, hair bows, foam curlers, blue eyeshadow and competition fees. Then once I was on the team for a year I earned a varsity letter. So of course I needed to get the Letterman jacket. I shouldn’t forget to mention the design of our uniform AND performance flags changed each year I was on the team.

Monique Gonzalez Abrahamsen ACHS Short Flags

My first year on the team my mom and biological father helped me but we struggled a lot financially and my mom couldn’t pay everything on time. My uniform was taken away from me until we could pay it off. My coach loaned me the money for my warm ups and I eventually paid her back. We did have some fundraisers to help defray some of the costs but still, a huge chunk of the financial responsibility fell on me.

I took a summer job at McDonald’s when I was 14 then quit when school started. I then worked at Taco Bell the following year and finally at the Gap Outlet. I did this to earn the money needed to stay on the team.

You can bet after all that hard work I felt proud and confident while donning that uniform. When I wore it I felt so good about myself. No one could judge my clothes–only a select few girls wore the same uniform as me. We were part of something special. I practiced with the team and made time to practice in my backyard almost everyday to ensure I would perform the routines perfectly with the rest of the team.

That uniform even FELT good! The material was flexible, made for twisting, turning and sweating. Putting on the uniform was like putting on a costume. I was incredibly shy but when I had my uniform on and we stepped out onto the performance stage (whether it be football field, basketball court or competition stage) I suddenly turned into this happy, smiling, bouncing, talented, and CONFIDENT girl. It was the only time I didn’t mind crowds of people looking at me.

Go ahead! Look!  I earned this! I worked hard, practiced hard and I feel great!

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First Friend

20 Nov

Tell us about your first friend.

My very first friends where my sisters. Some people may not count siblings as friends but I truly feel like we formed a strong bond beyond what most siblings experience. We did all kinds of fun stuff together that friends would normally do together. Growing up with a sister only one year and a half younger and another sister five years older made for some interesting experiences. Marina, the eldest sister, used her five years extra to her advantage to lead and orchestrate shenanigans. Jessica, my younger sister, was close enough in age to me that we could spend hours playing together and yet I could still take on “big sister” roles like reading her bedtime stories.

My first sleepover was with my sisters. Sure, we shared rooms but we also liked to use our imagination and create our own kind of sleepover experience. Jessica and I shared a room and Marina had her own room so sometimes we would gather our blankets and pillows and set up in the living room. Marina would tell us scary stories and goofy stories until we fell asleep.

Myself, Jessica and Marina when we were kids.

Myself, Jessica and Marina when we were kids.

When Marina did have to give up her room for a short period of time and bunk up with us (literally though-we had a bunk bed!) we spent our nights giggling as she kept us entertained with her vast knowledge of the world–because she is our big sis and knows more stuff! Our mom would walk by the door and say “I don’t want to hear another peep!” and that would lead to a few minutes of silence until we were back at it.

I always knew my sisters were my friends because they were always honest with me. Sure, there were rough patches of fighting and arguing and not understanding each other. We got through it though and all of those conflicts only made our bond stronger. We can always tell each other the truth, even if it takes some time. We seek each other out in a crowded room. We have inside jokes carried on and made better with time.

My sisters were my first friends, and they’ll always be my friends.

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Plugged In

19 Nov

How much of the day are you plugged in? Do you consciously set aside offline time, or does it happen whenever it happens?

Since my job as an Associate Social Media Manager requires me to be constantly connected and aware I am ALWAYS “plugged in.” That means I am always online. Thanks to HootSuite my web browser window holds streams for each brand I manage with all of their social media accounts up at all times. I’m checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Vine all day long Monday through Friday.

It’s my job to grow our audience and raise awareness of our products. I need to be plugged in or else I am not doing my job. I map it all out in my editorial calendar, gather images, take photos, request images from our designers, information, articles then compile it into the content I create. This content must be timely, seasonal, interesting, compelling. I need to know when something is trending on YouTube. I need to think about how I can possibly tie in our brands with a trending hashtag on Twitter. I’m perusing Pinterest for ideas, peeking at competitors social pages, reading mommy blogs, watching YouTube reviews of our products.

Heck yes I’m plugged in!

Even when I’m at home, signed out of all work accounts I still get push notifications from Instagram each time someone likes or comments on one of my brand’s photos. Since I generally stay signed into my work Instagram accounts during work hours when I get home I use that time to catch up on my personal Instagram feed. I want to see what my friends and family are posting!

I do find that I usually do not use the computer when I’m at home. Since my iPhone keeps me connected I really don’t feel interested or compelled to hop on the computer. I even stay on social media when I’m on vacation. I like using FourSquare, Instagram and Twitter to document my travels. Not so much to “show off” to the world but to keep track of where I went.

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