Permission For Me Time

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Do you ever wish that you could set time aside to spend a day by yourself and do anything you want? That good old me time? But don’t have the time or feel guilty about it? We all have those days when we run around in circles and forget to take care of ourselves.

If you’ve been neglecting yourself lately and need some inspiration on how to get back on track in the self-care department, then tune in to this short podcast about permitting ourselves to spend solo time, aka “me time.”

In this episode, your host, Joanna Sobjanek, shares simple examples of how she cultivates a slow-living habit that is beneficial to our mental, physical and spiritual health. 

Tune in for your regular dose of life, love, happiness, and – a little bit of sweetness with Caramel Chic Radio!

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Photography by Mathilde Langevin

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Hungry for more content? Check out our podcast on how to work from home. 

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How to Qualify for a Mortgage When You’re Self-Employed

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Many Americans dream of one day owning a home, but most need to get approved for a mortgage in order to make it happen. And while there are many types of home loans to choose from, qualifying for a mortgage isn’t quite so simple when you’re self-employed. For some tips on qualifying for a mortgage as a freelancer or contract worker, check out these resources from Caramel Chic. 

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Get Financially Fit

As a freelancer or contractor, you must be able to show lenders that you’re financially stable and can make mortgage payments each month. This means improving your credit score, reducing your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, cutting business costs, and saving for a down payment. 

  • Work toward raising your credit score. Make sure you’re paying bills on time, reducing debt, and monitoring your credit report for errors. 
  • Reduce your debt-to-income ratio to improve your chances of qualifying for a home loan.
  • Save money as a self-employed worker by starting an LLC in NC. You’ll gain tax advantages and protect yourself from liability. You may also be able to use the LLC to buy your new home. 
  • Think about how much you might spend on the purchase of a home and start saving for a down payment. andrea davis anA7XzblJoo unsplash scaled

Gather Mortgage Application Documents

When applying for a mortgage, you’ll need to submit the following documents as proof of your self-employment earnings and income stability. 

  • Verification of self-employment, including written letters or emails from clients or a certified public accountant (CPA). Other options include state business licenses and Doing Business As (DBA) certificates.
  • Proof of self-employment income, such as your profit and loss statements and annual tax returns.  
  • A letter of explanation. These letters are typically necessary when resolving potential red flags, including unsteady income sources, periods of unemployment, credit report errors, or large purchases. 

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Begin the Homebuying Process

Once you’ve taken the time to improve your financial situation and have gathered the different types of mortgage application documents you’ll need, it’ll be time to begin the homebuying process!

  • Compare mortgage rates, lenders, and loan types. 
  • Work with an experienced real estate agent like Joanna Sobjanek. An agent can help you to search for homes in your price range. 
  • Keep your business in mind as you search for potential properties. Discover shares some tips for buying a home you’ll be living and working in. 


Getting a mortgage isn’t impossible if you’re self-employed, but it does take a bit more planning. So even if you’re not ready to buy a house just yet, it’s important to begin the process early on. Start by improving your financial situation now to increase your chances of qualifying for a mortgage when you’re officially ready to take the plunge into homeownership!

Guest article written by Natalie Jones

Hungry for more content? Check out 10 Reasons You Should Move To Charlotte NC
Check out a video on How To Buy A Home In North Carolina – The Key IMPORTANT Steps

The Small Things That Give Us Big Feelings

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The Small Things

Life can get over overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to if we only pause for a moment and recognize the small things that give us big feelings

We ran around doing one hundred things at once while trying to complete long to-do lists and take care of our family and loved ones.

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And it’s no wonder! Because despite living in the 21st century, from what I see, women still do more. Perhaps because we’re natural caretakers or maybe because people expect us to perform in that way.

However, what if you could pause for a minute, and think about all the small things in life. Not big things. The tiny, little moments. The short small instances that bring you happiness. The small things that give you big feelings. 

What would they be?

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Cozy Things

Maybe it’s your favorite comfortable, oversized sweater that you put on during a chilly evening.

Or, maybe it’s driving near a pretty road and seeing charming buildings and landscapes that put a smile on your face.

Or, just maybe, it’s a piece of delicious pastry in your favorite coffee shop.

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Sometimes, we get so busy; we forget to stop for a bit and enjoy the simple moments. The few minutes that bring us small pleasures in life, and get us going through the day of the week—the little, obscure lifesavers. Without them, we would not be able to keep going.

An awaited dose of an invisible energy shot.

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And, it’s through those quiet, ordinary instances that we get to appreciate life. The simplicity of being a human being. The beauty of the moment. The authenticity of it all.

What are some of the things that bring you small pieces of joy?

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Here is a list of five things that bring me delight right now:

1. A long walk in nature on a weekday.
2. A cup of my favorite coffee – sipped slowly.
3. Putting on a new shade of lipstick.
4. The smell of fresh basil on my kitchen counter.
5. Taking photos of unexpected things.

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Time is precious, and life is short – savior the small things now. Don’t wait for those big moments. They might never come. Don’t wait to eat out of that unique dinner set you purchased for a Christmas family event. Eat on it now!

Make every moment of your life count. Make it unique and enjoy the process.

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A sad story.

There was once a nice old lady who passed away at the age of 90 years past. She died quietly in her sleep. When her children, who were already grown, organized a sale of her estate – they found lots of beautiful linens, precious china, and magnificent jewelry.

All these items were neatly stored away in her oak chest closet. She never used any of them. It turned out that the old lady was saving them for “that special occasion.”

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Special Moment

Well, that particular moment never came. Consequently, she died never giving herself a chance to eat on her elegant china and cherish her lovely linens. And, nobody ever saw her wearing all of her luxurious jewelry. 

Hence, I always think about this story when a feeling to put something away for that “special day” sneaks in. 

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Immediately, I remind myself that – every single day is extraordinary. 

Every day is magnificent. Each day is magical. Enjoy life now.

And give thanks for your existence. 

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Photography: Simon Berger Jian Xhin  Juliana Malta  Julian Hochgesang Caique Silva Georgia de Lotz cosiela-borta Billy Kwok Annie Spratt

Don’t forget to check out our latest podcast and share it with your friend. 
Hungry for more content? Check out How To Practice Daily Gratitude
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Charlotte, NC Real Estate 

 I RUN A REAL ESTATE BUSINESS in Charlotte, NCLet me help you with your home buying or selling journey while providing amazing client results. Contact me today at 704-800-4476 for FREE PHONE CONSULTATION or email at [email protected] to make an appointment. 

BIO AND LINKS  Check out some fun real estate stuff  

OUR LISTINGS Our listings in Charlotte North Carolina and the area. 

Alpaca Farm NC – Delightful Good Karma Ranch

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I enjoyed visiting an Alpaca Farm in North Carolina located not far away from Charlotte’s city center. 

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The path to Alpaca Farm is a scenic drive through the countrysides where you can enjoy the beautiful landscape and admire the beauty of the state of North Carolina. 

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To see the unique domesticated Alpacas, you need to make a reservation at Good Karma Ranch before your visit. But the cost is only ten dollars. Once you arrive at the alpaca farm, the owner greets the visitors and explains the tour. 

The proprietor provides an educational element about these sweet Peruvian animals, and everyone gets to see, pet, and take pictures with the various Alpacas. The animals are super friendly and very cute. 

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The tour lasts about an hour, and afterward, visitors can explore the farm’s gift shop, which has apparel and souvenirs made out of Alpaca wool.  

There is a white farm table outside the gift shop where patrons can hang out, relax and enjoy the greenery of this well-kept farm. 

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Curious about the Alpacas? Check out some history below, courtesy of Britannica. If you prefer, watch my YouTube video where I take you on an exciting tour and show you around the farm. Don’t forget to like and subscribe. 

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alpacas alpacas

Alpaca, (Vicugna pacos), domesticated South American member of the camel family, Camelidae (order Artiodactyla), that derives from the vicuña(Vicugna vicugna) and is closely related to the other lamoids (llama [Lama glama] and guanaco [L. guanicoe]) as well. Alpacas inhabit marshy mountainous areas from southern Colombia and Ecuador south to northern Chile and northern Argentina. They are slender-bodied animals with a long neck and long legs, a short tail, a small head, and large pointed ears.

Alpacas are the most limited in range and the most specialized of the four species of lamoids, being adapted to marshy ground at altitudes from 4,000 to 4,800 metres (13,000 to 15,700 feet). Alpacas are readily distinguished from llamas by their smaller size; they stand approximately 90 cm (35 inches) high at the shoulder and weigh 55 to 65 kg (121 to 143 pounds).

The alpaca also differs from the llama in having a rounded, rather than squarish, body and in its habit of pressing its tail close to the body, rather than holding it erect as does the llama. The alpaca’s shaggy coat varies in colour from the usual black or brown through lighter shades of gray and tan to pale yellow and, occasionally, white.

The alpaca’s origin has been a matter of significant debate for decades. This debate was complicated by the knowledge that alpacas and llamas are able to breed with one another and produce fertile offspring, which suggested that both species stemmed from guanacos. (Guanacos are the parent species of the llama.) However, genetic studies conducted in the early 21st century determined that alpacas are the domesticated descendants of vicuñas and that this domestication occurred in the Andes Mountains between 6,000 and 7,000 years ago.

Alpacas are the most important of the lamoids for fleece production. During the period of Incan civilization, the wearing of robes made of alpaca and vicuña fleeces was reserved for the nobility and royalty. Two breeds of alpaca, the huacaya and the suri, were developed in pre-Columbian times. The fleece of the suri is fine and silky and grows long enough to touch the ground if the animal is not sheared.

The fleece of the huacaya is shorter and coarser by comparison. (See specialty hair fibre.) The alpaca’s fleece is remarkably lightweight, strong, lustrous, high in insulation value, and resistant to rain and snow. It is used in parkas, sleeping bags, and fine coat linings. Alpaca fibre is sometimes combined with other fibres to make dress and lightweight suit fabrics and is also woven as a pile fabric used both for coating and as a lining for outerwear. Peru is the leading producer of the fleece, most of it being marketed in the city of Arequipa. The Peruvian government has established a breeding program to improve the quality of alpaca fleece and increase its production. – Britannica 

Photography of Alpaca Farm: Joanna Sobjanek Caramel Chic LLC 

Thirsty for more great content? Check out Beaufort – Second Oldest City In South Carolina

The Idea Behind Caramel Chic  – Interview With Joanna Sobjanek

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The Idea Behind Caramel Chic 

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Caramel Chic?

A: A while back, I saw a romantic comedy centered on the daily lives of five Lebanese women living in Beirut. Instantly, I fell in love with it.

Q: Where did the action take place?

A: The movie took place in a small beauty shop.

Q: What sparked your interest in this particular movie?

A: Just about everything drew me to this movie; the theme, the scenery, the music, but especially the unique bond that was formed among the women regularly visiting the beauty shop.

Caramel – The Story

Q: Without revealing the plot, can you tell us more about the movie?

A: With the support of their friends in their well-known salon, the women searched for the answers to questions of life, love, and happiness. But they also talked about home life, baking, their neighborhood, their business ideas, relationships, and marriage. The women formed a strong bond and a unique friendship.

Q: How does your website translate to the movie?

A: Caramel Chic is a media platform for women, just like in that beauty shop in Beirut, Lebanon. But, it doesn’t have a location. Because it’s happening right here on our platform, reaching women all over the globe.

Why Caramel 

Q: How did you come up with the name Caramel Chic?

A: The movie’s title, “Caramel” inspired me. The name stems from an actual sugar wax, caramel, which is a popular, all-natural beauty product in the Middle East and Lebanon. The women slowly melt sugar, which forms into a gooey substance; the technicians then apply the product to the skin all over the body. In the movie, we can see women also snacking on the caramel, as it is delightfully sweet.

By watching the film, I’ve learned that you can’t rush through the process of making caramel and, as it can sting. Just like life, I think.

The Mission Of Caramel Chic 

Q: How would you like your fans to recognize your platform?

A: Here at Caramel Chic, we would like to share practical and real advice on all sorts of lifestyle topics about women. My dream was to create an outlet where women can feel just like in a local beauty shop, where they can find familiarity and connect. Where they can feel at home.

By forming this unique bond, I mean to strengthen and inspire women all over the world, even if it means only one woman at a time.

The Future Of Caramel Chic 

Q. Any projects for the upcoming months?

J. In the future, our goal is to host podcasts on interviews with keynote speakers, women from all walks of life where they can share stories about their lives, issues, careers, and aspirations. So, stay tuned.

Q. The last question, are you from Lebanon?

A. No, I am not. I am from New York City, but I was born in Poland.

Interviewed by J. Netsua, a Caramel Chic fan.

Photography: Jordane Mathieu; Gallery photos: 

Interested in more interviews with Joanna?

Joanna was a guest on a Podcast called Our Story Speaks where she discusses taking risks and tells her story about moving abroad. 

Charlotte, NC Real Estate 

 I RUN A REAL ESTATE BUSINESS in Charlotte, NCLet me help you with your home buying or selling journey while providing amazing client results.

Contact me today at 704-800-4476 for FREE PHONE CONSULTATION or email at [email protected] to make an appointment. 

BIO AND LINKS  Check out some fun real estate stuff  

OUR LISTINGS Our listings in Charlotte North Carolina and the area. 




Easy European Summer Cake

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Easy European Summer Cake, even a five-year-old can make! I first learned how to make this cake when I went abroad to live in Poland. During the summer season – every baker I knew baked a variation of this cake—some used yogurt, some used cream, and others buttermilk. Either way, you go, you can’t go wrong as long as you use some kind of dairy. If the strawberries are seasonal and fresh, the cake is even better! I’ve been making this cake for years, and it never failed me. That’s how easy it is! So, what do you need to make this crazy easy cake? 

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First, you eat half of the strawberries you buy.  Then you put on your favorite music and pre-heat the oven. Then you put on an apron and get to work. 

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Easy European Summer Cake Recipe:

Mix 3 cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar and 3 tsp of baking powder in one bowl.

Beat 3 eggs, half cup oil (I used Almond Oil), and one cup full-fat yogurt or buttermilk in another bowl.

Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients with a spatula or hand mixer.

Pour batter into a large, greased baking dish, drop some fresh clean and dry strawberries (approx. 2 cups)

Mix a cup of flour with half cup sugar (I used organic cane sugar) and 100-gram butter (4-5 TBSP) to create the crumble topping for the cake.

Bake in 350F/180C for 45-50 min. Or when a toothpick comes out dry. Do not over bake. Let it cool before cutting. Sprinkle each serving with powdered sugar via min-sifter

Enjoy the cake with someone you love. 

Thirsty for more decadent recipes? Check out this post about how to make Chocolate Gateaux. 

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Photography: Caramel Chic LLC, Monika Grabkowska; Featured photo: Monika Grabkowska

Charlotte, NC Real Estate 

 I RUN A REAL ESTATE BUSINESS in Charlotte, NCLet me help you with your home buying or selling journey while providing amazing client results. Contact me today at 704-800-4476 for FREE PHONE CONSULTATION or email at [email protected] to make an appointment. 

BIO AND LINKS  Check out some fun real estate stuff  

OUR LISTINGS Our listings in Charlotte North Carolina and the area.