Signing Up to Volunteer Doesn’t Mean I’m Signing Up to Be a Slave

Me signing up to volunteer for an organization doesn't mean I want to be a slave | The Champagne Supernova

I love volunteering.

Love it, love it, love it.

Unfortunately, there is sometimes a poison that comes from the top that makes it less fun.

People who run volunteer organizations, PTA events, and other organizations where the members are donating their time and money take heed:

Volunteers are not slaves.

After college, I joined a bunch of local volunteer and professional organizations because I was crazy I didn’t have kids or a family and, therefore, plenty of time on my hands.

I made rich friendships and wonderful memories. It felt good to give back to the community and learn from civic leaders.


While I certainly didn’t need a pat on the back, it would have been nice for some of the higher-ups at the organizations to once say “thank you” or acknowledge everyone else’s hard work instead of clogging my social media feed with self-indulgent posts about how awesome they are.

For them to remember the volunteers who were gratuitously donating their time and opening their wallets and essentially the backbones of the organization.

But no.


    Dear World: I Will Not Be Shamed Because I’m a Woman Who Likes to Work

    I am a women who works because I like to and not because I have to | The Champagne Supernova


    I was at a meeting for a volunteer organization last month when I met a woman we’ll call Kristen. She was assigned to my small group and she was new to the area. Kristen was outgoing but loud, and it was obvious she was trying to make friends, which nobody could blame her. We went around the circle and briefly introduced ourselves so Kristen could get acquainted.

    I went last.

    “I’m Jen. I’m married with two young daughters and I live in Tampa. I work part time as an attorney and part time as a blogger. I joined this organization to meet like-minded women and give back to the community.” 

    Kristen looked at me and scoffed. Then she snorted.  (more…)

      How to Lose Your Life

      How to ruin your life | The Champagne Supernova

      I took the kids to get ice cream after school last week and left my phone inside the car because it was dead.

      We brought the ice cream to our tables. After about 10 minutes, an employee went out of her way to approach me and tell me how refreshing it was to see a parent in the store actually engaging with their kids instead of ignoring them and being glued to the phone while the kids either sat alone or entertained each other.

      I felt guilty saying “thank you” to the employee because I knew the truth.

      That if my phone hadn’t been dead, I likely would have been there with it in the store checking emails, responding to text messages, and scrolling through my Facebook and Instagram feeds like what I was doing couldn’t wait until later.


        Dear Single Parents: You Are Seen

        Dear Single Parent: You are Seen | The Champagne Supernova

        I was annoyed when I received the text.

        Hey Jen. I won’t be at the office this morning. Emma woke up with pink eye and I need to take her to the doctor. I’ll see if my babysitter can watch her this afternoon. I’ll be in as soon as I can. 

        I’ll admit I probably rolled my eyes.


          Entertaining Made Easy with La Terra Fina

          Entertaining made easy with recipes and dips from La Terra Fina | The Champagne Supernova

          Lemon Pepper & Asiago vegetable dip from La Terra Fina

          This post is sponsored by La Terra Fina. All opinions are my own.

          Who here gets really stressed at the idea of entertaining?

          Me! Me! Me!

          Some people are natural born entertainers and, unfortunately, that’s just not my forte.

          I stress about the idea of planning, keeping track of RSVPs and, more than anything, coming up with snacks to keep the guests’ bellies full.

          Luckily, La Terra Fina has some AMAZING fruit and vegetable dips and spreads on hand to keep every host and guest happy.

          These include:

          • Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Dip
          • Eureka Lemon Cheesecake Dip
          • Italian Style Tomato & Cheese Dip & Spread; and
          • Lemon Pepper Asiago Dip & Spread.

          All of these (inexpensive!) dips are available at your neighborhood Publix and taste good by themselves or doctored with other ingredients.

          La Terra Fina was launched in 1983 by a San Francisco area caterer who was locally famous for her dips and quiches. She created her products for grocery and club stores and now offers more chef-inspired goodies that are perfect for friends and loved ones.

          La Terra Fina is committed to the environment and long-term sustainability through it’s product sourcing, packaging decisions, and production processes. The company recycles 83% of materials and use electricity reducing programs at their plant and in their offices. La Terra Fina uses locally grown ingredients and is always looking for new ways to decrease the company’s environmental footprint.

          Check out La Terra Fina‘s website for a huge list of appetizer, dessert, main course, side dish, and snack recipes that take 30 minutes or less. (You can also find a coupon online for a buy one, get one free product.)

          Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Dip

          • One container of La Terra Fina Eureka Lemon Cheesecake Dip
          • One half of a pint of fresh blueberries
          • Five large graham crackers
          • One fresh lemon

          Mash the graham crackers into small pieces and mix them with the blueberries and Eureka Lemon Cheesecake Dip. Add lemon zest to the top (for appearance sake) and enjoy with cookies, crackers, or the fruit of your choice.

          Cheers to La Terra Fina for helping us simplify our lives and Happy Entertaining!

          Entertaining made easy with recipes and dips from La Terra Fina | The Champagne Supernova

          Eureka Lemon Cheesecake Dip, Italian Style Tomato & Cheese Dip & Spread, and Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Dip from La Terra Fina.

          Entertaining made easy with recipes and dips from La Terra Fina | The Champagne Supernova

          Vegetable spread with the Lemon Pepper & Asiago dip from La Terra Fina

            A Charmed Christmas with James Avery

            A magical Christmas with James Avery charms | The Champagne Supernova

            My earliest memory of Christmas morning dates back to when I was five years old. My parents trekked from Florida to Pennsylvania to spend the holidays with my grandparents and other family members.

            On Christmas morning, I remember waking up early (so early that it was still dark outside) and tiptoeing downstairs with my parents, grandparents, and younger sister.

            The blue carpet around the tree was surrounded by all types of amazing gifts. There was a large rocking horse with my name on it.

            Best of all, the chocolate chip cookies we left out for Santa the night before were nothing more than crumbs.

            I’ll never forget my grandparents’ Christmas tree. It had hundreds of multi-colored lights and several ornaments. Some were vintage. Some were new. Some my grandmother, an elementary school teacher, had collected as gifts from her students over the years. The top of the Christmas tree had a white angel with a porcelain face. It had been in the family for several years and while the location of the ornaments may have changed over time, the angel was a constant.

            This Angel of Peace charm is special because it reminds me of the angel that sat on top of my grandparents’ tree.

            It symbolizes the carefree nature of childhood and loving memories of family and togetherness.

            For me, James Avery is so much more than jewelry.

            It’s a symbol of faithfulness and the comfort of strongly held beliefs.

            It’s a way to hold those traditions and memories close when loved ones are far away.

            It’s a way to say “I Love You” every day.

            James Avery is more than a store.

            James Avery is your story.

            Make this Christmas one to remember with James Avery artisan jewelry.

            For more inspiring James Avery stories and the jewelry that helps tell them, such as the Angel of Peace charm, visit the website here.


            James Avery charm collection make great holiday gifts | The Champagne Supernova

            What is your story?

            Cheers and Merry Christmas.

              What Childhood Poverty Really Looks Like

              Being raised in poverty in America | The Champagne Supernova

              My grandmother was an elementary school teacher in Cambria County, Pennsylvania (Read: poor!) for over 30 years before she retired. One of her more noteworthy memories happened at Christmastime nearly 40 years ago.

              Her students participated in a “Secret Santa” gift exchange. While all of the other students were opening up neat presents like baseball cards, knock-off Barbie dolls, and Silly Putty in the middle of the class party (schools were allowed to have Christmas parties back then), one kid, John, gave his assigned pal, Donnie, a small bag of potato chips because that’s all his mother could afford.


                You are Where You’re Supposed to Be

                I was sitting in the Courthouse cattle-call room waiting for a hearing to begin when my colleague’s casual statement left me hurting for days.

                There’s a group of ten of us going to dinner over Labor Day weekend since Lauren Strickland and her husband will be in town. Any idea where I can rent a party bus to drive us around?

                “Wait, what?” I thought.

                As background, I went to law school with Lauren and we were close friends (in my mind) before she and her family relocated to Houston to accommodate her husband’s job in the oil industry.

                Until she moved three years ago, Lauren and I spent a good amount of time together. I hosted her son’s first birthday party at my house when her own home was under construction and arranged a meal train when her mother was in a car accident.


                  What an Eighty Year Old Wished She Knew in Her Thirties

                  My grandmother turned 83 years old in May. She was born in the bedroom of a small house in Minersville, a lower-income neighborhood of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, highly populated with workers of the then-thriving Bethlehem Steel mill. Despite her own parents’ lack of education, my grandmother and her brother went on to earn college degrees and both of them subsequently became elementary school teachers.

                  My grandmother served her local community as a teacher for three decades before she retired in 1993. Always passionate about politics and making a positive influence, she was on the local Housing Authority and served as the Johntown’s Deputy Mayor.

                  Despite all of her successes, my grandmother also faced many hardships. Raised a devout Catholic, my grandmother has been married three times, which was taboo for her generation from a religious and social standpoint (although it is worth noting that she and my step-grandfather have been married four decades- third time’s the charm!) Her first husband, my biological grandfather, left her with year-old twin daughters on Christmas Eve in 1957 when he told her he was heading to the grocery store to purchase cream soda and he’d “be right back.”


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