Friday, December 31, 2010

Ready for 2011

Just wanted to pop in today on this New Year's Eve to say Happy New Year to the Bloggerverse !
I am presently still on my 10 day vacation and won't be home until Saturday so I have not been able to blog as much cause I have been too busy having a blast. I had a wonderful holiday and am still in the midst of enjoying myself and hate to see it winding down. I will try to blog about it once I get home and have a chance to upload some photos and share some of my experiences meeting Mr. Mixologist's extended family and close friends.

This has been a wonderful year for me. I feel like I have really come into myself this year. Accepting some things about me both good and not so great, but I am me. I do have goals and plans and will continue trying to be the best me that I can be, but I am very content making the most of each and every day as it comes. Enjoying my life every day. I take pride in that I love me some me, and as I sit here today, I am smiling, my heart is full I am blessed and hopeful. I took a look back at where I was this time last year. All I can say is, what a difference a year makes. I think I had the right mindset then, and I will continue down the path that He has for me.

To my readers, lurkers, and commenter's thanks for continuing to stop by my little space in the world as often as you do.

I wish you Peace and Blessings in 2011. Be encouraged.

What are your reflections for the year ?

What are you plans for the New Year ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Cooking

I have spent the last couple of evenings doing some Christmas baking before we hit the road on Wednesday to see Mr. Mixologist's family for Christmas. After discussing it with my mom, I decided to make one of her classic recipes to share with them.  It's called Gooey Butter Coffee Cake and it's a really simple to make and boy is it scrumptious ! My mother has been making this for years. I can remember her sending it to me in care packages when I was in college. In fact, me and my sister still fight over the corner pieces cause they taste the best for some reason. I found some really nice inexpensive Christmas Tins at Big Lots. We intend to give them to the relatives that we didn't actually purchase gifts for. The recipe is so simple:

This first layer is just a yellow box cake mix (dry mix only), a stick of butter melted, and one beaten egg. Stir out the lumps and spread mixture into the bottom of a 9 X 13 greased baking dish. This will be the crust. The best cake mix powder to use is Duncan Hines Butter Golden flavor.

For the next layer, mix 8 ounces cream cheese, a box of powdered sugar (16 oz) and two beaten eggs, using a mixer, beat  until smooth & then pour on top of the first layer.

Sprinkle the top of the second layer with chopped pecans. They were out of the pre-chopped ones at the store yesterday, so I had to use one of my favorite kitchen items......

My Zyliss Chopper can chop up any and everything in no time flat. It is such a breeze, very sturdy and dishwasher safe.  I love using it !

I chopped these pecans up in like 10 seconds ! LOL No joke.

This is what it looks like before going into the oven at 350 Degrees for 50-60 minutes.

This is the final product. It is best to let it sit until it is completely cool. Honestly, its best to make a day ahead, because it's easier to cut into squares once it has settled & cooled really good. The middle will fall in a bit as it cools down so don't be alarmed when that happens, its supposed to.  My opinion is it actually tastes better after a couple of days. It seems like they get more chewy and gooey ! LOL

I made 4 of these and after cutting them all up into squares. I actually ended up having enough to fill up six Christmas Tins to share with my beau's family !  My mom is the one who got Mr. Mixologist hooked on the Gooey Butter Coffee Cake a few months back, so I am hoping that his family enjoys it as much as he does,  and yes I am hoping to make a good impression  too :)

Hope you get a chance to try the recipe, so simple and so delicious.

Are you doing any holiday baking ?         What are some of your favorites from childhood ?

Thoughts ? Questions ? Comments ?

Beautifully Complex

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Santa Came to Town

I came home today and found that Santa left a nice gift on the porch for me !

I got a satchel full of the most intoxicating Fragrance Beads. I love the combination of Vanilla and Orchid, it smells divine ! There was also some Lemon Drop flavored lip balm that I cannot wait to try. Lemon is actually one of my favorite flavors ! I love Lemon Drop Martinis and Lemon Meringue Pie.  This lip balm is definitely going to come in handy during the holidays, because I do have to keep these lips kissable for those " Mistletoe Moments" with Mr. Mixologist ! LOL Thanks Santa :) Last but not least, Santa must be reading the blog, because I got some gourmet K-cups to use in my Keurig Premium Coffee System that I blogged about here.

I am looking forward to enjoying my gifts and appreciate the thoughtfulness in the selection.
Santa tried to leave me a little clue in the attached note, but I just couldn't narrow it down for sure, but my first guess is going to be....


and if not her then I must be.....

Gorgeous Pudding 

I am excited to find out for sure tomorrow. Thanks again Santa for the gifts ! I hope you enjoy your Christmas Holiday and thanks to Pserendipity for hosting the gift exchange again this year & allowing me to discover some cool new bloggers to add to my reader !

Beautifully Complex 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Is There a Doctor in the House ?

The Dr. and her cousins !

Today I got the most wonderful and exciting news ! See the pretty lady above in the middle ? That is my little sister, my only sister, my partner in crime from back in the day, my blood by birth and friend by choice, the mother of the wonderful nieces and nephew that I treasure. Well, this morning she successfully defended her Dissertation in front of a Committee of Higher Edu-ma-cation Elites ! LOL  After waiting almost 3 hours with baited breath, she just called to give me the good news. In recent weeks, we have poured through the voluminous 164 pages with her, critiquing and tweaking so she would have it just right. We prayed together last night, and in fact the whole family has been praying for her and with her as she has been preparing  for this big event and today she was rewarded with many years of dedicated hard work, perseverance and preparation.

Congratulations Doctor Sister ! I love you and am immensely proud of your accomplishment !

Beautifully Complex 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree......

......How lovely are your branches !

I finally got my first REAL LIVE tree ever and I absolutely love it. We found it at Home Depot of all places. After Mr. Mixologist set it up, we let the branches fall for a couple of days which was a great idea (Thanks Mrs TDJ !). I love the smell in the house already ! After the branches fanned out, I decided to keep the decorations simple, and just go with the red and gold theme already in play in the living room. I did pick up a couple of new things at Big Lots, which I must say is a good place for inexpensive decorations. Some of the stuff was already being deeply discounted at this late date.  There is nothing like a good sale to get you in the Christmas spirit. Initially we talked about not getting a tree since, we will actually be traveling to visit my beau's family for the Christmas holiday, but those who know me well, no I am way too sentimental for that. This is our first Christmas together, so in the end, I just wanted to commemorate it with our first Christmas Tree together too.

Mr, Mixologist helped with the proper placement, the lights,  and the star. I pretty much did the rest which was just some ribbon, garland, bells and a few round balls. I didn't want to overdo it and I am perfectly happy with it.
First Real Fir Tree !

Have you got your Christmas decorating done ?  How about your shopping ? Are you feeling the Christmas Spirit yet ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Musical Monday

My Christmas spirit is in full effect. I have been listening to a lot of my favorite holiday music over the last week or so and that always pulls me right on in. Also, I have been shopping a little earlier than I normally do since I won't be with my family this year and have to get their stuff shipped in time, so that helped me too.

Most of the music I listen to around Christmas is stuff I have had for years and years. The Temptations Christmas, I grew up listening to as a child. It brings back so many warm and fuzzy memories of my family. The Boys II Men is a  Classic Christmas CD bought when I was a young adult.That CD just never gets old to me. No joking I have actually purchased that dang CD a total of 3 times over the years from just wearing it out ! I also have a really nice Take 6 Christmas CD and a Toni Braxton one that I always break out too.

Now let me say off top that I am a HUGE Ledisi fan. I have seen her in concert 4 times since 2007. I've been close enough to the stage to make eye contact with her and when I say show, I mean she puts on a show. You get your money's worth & want to leave a tip when you leave the performance! LOL. She is truly and engaged performer. So anyway, when she dropped a Christmas CD back in 2008, I purchased it without having heard a single song on the dang CD.  So if you are a fan of Ledisi, you need to pick this up for sure, but even if you are not a fan, I don't know how you wouldn't be after listening to this music. In addition to the classics like "Silent Night" and "What are You Doing New Years" there are actually 4 original songs on the CD that are kind of jazzy, swingy, with lots of instrumentation, just pretty much her style of singing that I love so much.

I found a few links for you guys to enjoy:

This last link below is my girl singing live in her hometown of New Orleans.*** Note that she is singing with a keyboardist only, outside, under a tent in the the dang rain and she is still bringing it. I also love how gracious and thankful she is after this performance, greeting fans and posing for pictures even thought she obviously has somewhere else to get to. She really has a sweet spirit about her.

This chick has been on the grind for many years and has finally come into some real recognition and I am loving it ! If I have convinced you go ahead, support real music. This would be a nice stocking stuffer for someone I know. LOL You can find this or any of her other music right over here.

I think good music what makes the world go around ! Hope you enjoy the videos.

What artists are you feeling lately ?

Thoughts ? Comments? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dear (Secret) Santa.............

I am hyped to be participating in Christmas in Blogland. It's a Secret Santa Gift Exchange hosted by Pserendipity. 

I am not really sure that my blog necessarily makes it easy to pick a gift for yours truly, so I'm gonna drop some hints for Santa today since we only have 6 days to get our gifts purchased and in the mail.

For the record, anything I receive will be greatly appreciated, because I simply love receiving and opening packages. Shoot I love opening any type of envelope ! LOL

I love all things wine. So any type of wine, accessories or paraphernalia is cool with me.

Photo Frames are always welcome here. I have lots of pictures around my home and that is one thing I don't think you can have too many of.  I enjoy  framing  and displaying photos of my family and friends.

Books, of any kind, if you stalk the blog, some commenter's made some suggestions here recently that I have been meaning to check out. I read a lot of different genres, so if you personally read a good book recently you would recommend, I will probably enjoy it.

Scented Candles I never get enough of these either. They come in real handy while I am soaking in the tub with some nice vino! LOL

Which leads me to my last idea.......good music. This is the other thing I truly enjoy while relaxing. Now this could be tricky since it would be hard to know what I don't already have in my music collection, but I will say this.... there is a male artist, who is actually quite sexy, who is listed in my profile who has a very recently released CD that I haven't picked up yet.

Hope this was helpful Secret Santa............I have been a very good girl this year !

Beautifully Complex

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cooking with the Kids

This past Saturday night, I had babysitting duty for my best friend's daughters. Jordan is twelve and Maya is eight. Earlier in the day I got a call from Jordan from her cell phone asking if we could make something in the kitchen, when they came over. She is very much into cooking, and hostess duties. She loves reading recipes and trying new things. In fact, I knew when I saw her name come up on my phone, what she was calling to ask me. My friend, their mother is not much of a cook by her own admission, which is why she sends them to my house all the time for this sort of thing. LOL

Jordan showcasing her cooking skills !

Since they came over after dinner, I decided that we would make a dessert. I had a busy Saturday & did not want to make anything too complicated but wanted to try something new. I found the perfect recipe over at  THREE FOOD WORDS  my new favorite go to site for goodness ! LOL  We decided to make Croissant Apple Turnovers. We decided to double the recipe so they would have something to eat after church Sunday. The girls loved the recipe ! I did the peeling,coring and dicing of the apples, but they pretty much did the rest with my direction and it was a  breeze. They loved the hand's on aspect of peeling apart the dough and crimping the ends of the turnovers. It was quick, easy and very very tasty.

They were focused ! LOL

We put cinnamon on them before baking them, and then when they came out of the oven, they sprinkled them with powdered sugar. We enjoyed our turnovers with some Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and man they were yummy !

The final product
I could tell the girls were really impressed with themselves, especially after they tasted it. The youngest one, Maya who is eight, kept saying,  "Can you send these pictures to my mommy's Facebook ! LOL  Man,  I love cooking, teaching and sharing with kids. It's what my mom did with me, and I enjoy it so much.

Did you cook anything this weekend ?  Have you tried any new recipes lately ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Musical Monday

The Internet has truly transformed the way we access music forever.  With all the social networking, etc. there are just so many different ways to find, hear and be exposed to new music. Sometimes its old music, just new to you. As a music lover, I think it is amazing to have so much technology at your fingertips. I have been caught up with Foreign Exchange for a few months, but now I am listening to Darien Brockington, who was a vocalist on a couple of their albums but has his own music that I knew nothing about. He is touring with them right now but getting ready to release another solo project in early 2011. I can't wait to check it out.

His wiki page says he was raised in North Carolina. Is it just me or are there some really talented people that come out of the Carolina's ??? Dang !  I mean  Anthony Hamilton, Angie Stone, Fantasia just to name a few.
Darien is really on his grind and has done  ALOT of collaborations. His voice kind of reminds me of Carl Thomas (where you at Carl ?) a little bit. I must say he is a cutie too ! I really hope his new CD is a success. He needs some exposure.

The video below is actually Foreign Exchange song, but Darien is a featured vocalist. He is the cutie on the couch with the checkered shirt, up in the girls face.  A bit of trivia I learned on a Foreign Exchange fan page, the other guy in the video with the bow tie is Phonte, one of the leaders of Foreign Exchange. Anyway, as a child he was actually an extra in the film The Color Purple. He was one of those little bad ass boys running around giving Celie hell in the movie !   LOL I thought that was interesting.

I think good  music is what makes the world go around !   Enjoy the video

What artists are you feeling lately ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Friday, December 3, 2010

Spreading Holiday Cheer

Yesterday,  me and my team at work headed out to an Adult Day Center that we visit every year at Christmas time. We have been doing this event annually for about 10 years now and the experience really puts a smile on your face and joy in your heart. The center holds daily activities for mentally challenged adults. They provide a place for them to come daily to socialize with one another, play games, watch movies, listen to music and they feed them lunch and snacks before they all return home in the evenings.

Each year our team brings in a Christmas Tree, stand, lights, tree skirt, plastic ornaments, candy canes, bows and ribbon, to allow them to have their very own tree trimming party. We set up the tree and put on the lights for them, and then we pass out the ornaments to each one of them individually so they can all have a hand in decorating the tree.  We also bring in a CD player with Christmas music and we bring punch, cookies and party snacks for them to enjoy. Although all of the men and women are grown adults, they have the spirit and excitement of children at Christmas. Their faces light up at the simplest thing of decorating a tree, eating cookies and drinking punch. It is really a simple gesture on our part, we all just delegate in advance what we each are responsible for bringing to the party, but it really means a lot to them and to the managers at the Center and they are so gracious and so appreciative.

I usually recognize some of the people from the year before, but there is always someone new to meet. They give you hugs and are just so excited about the whole thing it is very contagious.  It really puts you in the spirit of giving and is a reminder of what Christmas is really about, doing for others.

How do you spread holiday cheer during Christmastime ?

Thoughts ? Questions ? Comments ?

Beautifully Complex

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Help from Yelp

I don't know exactly how long it has been in existence (I think its been about 3 years) but I am totally and completely addicted to Yelp. I only discovered it about a year ago and I truly don't know how I ever lived without it.  After being just a user/lurker for several months, I finally created a profile about 2 months ago and have been enthusiastically creating reviews of all the places that I go to eat, drink, and stay etc.  Every time we travel out of town and experience some place new, I can't wait to get back to my laptop.  I really look forward to writing reviews and sharing my interpretations with folks. Honestly, its kind of like blogging !

The cool thing about it is there's information on places in basically every major city and even some smaller places too. Now most yelpers live in highly urban areas, but it seems to be catching on in all areas.  Here in Houston we have a weekly entertainment magazine called the Houston Press that I read faithfully. It gives all the latest info on restaurants, new and old, wine bars, lounges, concerts and the like. They have an editorial staff that does the reviews so you usually just get feedback from the same group of people every week. I enjoy the Houston Press and will continue to read it, but Yelp is just way more convenient. The reason I like Yelp is because you get feedback from patrons, real people sharing their experiences about places. It's like a community of sorts and every one's a critic. You can link it to FB and Twitter too.

I know this sounds like a commercial for Yelp, LOL,  I swear they are not paying me, but I am absolutely hooked on how convenient it is and want to spread the word, because it's definitely user driven. You can do zip code searches and narrow down by criteria like type of restaurant, or type of music, and you can have the information sent to your cell phone as a text message in a matter of seconds. Of course if you have a smart phone you can access the site that way. Mr. Mixologist is the one who clued me in and we usually don't go anywhere new without yelping it. We have been able to discover and experience some really cool spots in and around Houston just by searching on yelp.

Do you Yelp ?

How do you discover new spots to eat, drink, or hang out in your area ?

Thoughts ?   Questions ?  Comments ?

Beautifully Complex

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Just Me..................Randomly

Wow ! I cannot believe it is December already. This is going to be fast month I can see already. The year has flown by so this month will be no different I'm sure. I have already gotten 2 holiday party invites, have a baby shower to attend next week and am planning a road trip at the end of the month, so it's getting ready to pick up speed around here real quick.

I will definitely be pulling down the Christmas decorations from the attic this weekend. I'm going to spend the rest of this week cleaning up around the house so that I can sort through all my decorations, toss some old things and figure out if I need to purchase anything new.

I am excited about my decision to get a REAL live Christmas tree this year !  I have never had one before. I grew up using artificial ones and just went down that same road once I was on my own, but I have decided to be done with that. I am tossing my old tree for good when I pull it down this weekend.

I am going to need to figure out how long I can keep a real tree before it goes bad. One of my friends told me that longer than 2 weeks is pushing it, so I am going to do some research on it this weekend. If anybody has any tips or info to share it would be greatly appreciated.

One of my nieces and my nephew have birthdays this first week in December, so I have got to get their gifts in the mail tomorrow and then turn around and start with the Christmas shopping and shipping. I am definitely going to streamline things this year, cause I have a lot on my plate.

My BFF just got her Bartender's License a couple of weeks ago and Mr. Mixologist is definitely skilled in the art of Mixology, so it goes without saying that my holidays are going to be very, very  merry ! LOL

I am so super excited to be participating in this years Christmas in Blogworld, orchestrated by Pserendipity ! I missed out on all the fun last year and did not want to sit on the sidelines this time around. Plus I managed to blog a bit more this year so hopefully my Secret Santa will be able to have a clue as to what I like by trolling through the archives.  But I will definitely be posting consistently as I stated yesterday so I may try to drop a hint or two :)

What is going on random with you ?

Thoughts ? Questions ? Comments ?

Beautifully Complex 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thankful : Day 30 Challenges

Well, well, well.  I made it to the end of the 30 day Thankful Challenge today and I can definitely say I succeeded. Even if I missed a day, I managed to catch up, not get too far behind and stay in the game ! Thanks for throwing out the challenge Babs !

I really appreciate the fact that it made me more conscious of some simple things that I can be grateful about. Also for me it was a good blogging exercise, because I really do want to write more here and learn how to be disciplined enough to just take the time to do it. I really do want to become a more consistent blogger and this was just the jump start that I needed.

When I think about ALL of the challenges I have faced in my life, I now truly understand their purpose and worth in my life. Overcoming and pushing yourself through tough things is what  brings about wisdom, patience and understanding. The most important result is often you become a blessing to another person. You may be the vessel that He uses to touch another's life in an unexpected way.

Challenges are good because they make you stretch, think, grow, advance, mature, just any number of things that can be seen as improvement to your life and your character. I have flexed my muscles this month and now I plan to keep it up, especially since I learned how to blog from my Blackberry HA !

So today I am thankful for the challenge to be thankful and for all of the blessings that I have in my life and continue to receive each and every day.

What are you thankful for ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thankful: Day 29 Unexpected Sweetness

Red Velvet Cheesecake

I think I might just give up on trying to eat right until these holidays are over !  It seems like during this time of the  year, every other day at work they are having food, snacks, and sweets for some reason or another. Today we had a team meeting and the Manager brought in TWO Red Velvet Cheesecake for us to enjoy and enjoy it we did.

What a tasty combination. The red velvet cake was so moist and not overly sweet and the cheesecake on top was the perfect consistency and smoothness. There was plenty left over and she encouraged us to take the remaining pieces so nothing would go to waste. Man, I couldn't wait to finish my dinner tonight so that I could have another piece ! I felt a little guilty but I'm sorry the guilt was worth the goodness I enjoyed at the end of a hectic Monday.

Today I am thankful for unexpected sweetness in whatever form it comes in ! LOL

What are you thankful for ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex 

Thankful : Day 28 Recuperation Days

We arrived home safely from all the traveling. We put like 1800 miles on the rental vehicle I discovered after turning it in. I spent the day relaxing, unpacking, and doing laundry getting ready for the work week. It is nice to have a least one day to recuperate before getting back on the grind.

So today I am extra thankful for that.

What are you thankful for ?

Beautifully Complex

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankful : Day 27 Celebration of Life

Funerals can be a mixed bag. You never really know what to expect, especially if you are not familiar with all of the family dynamics at play. Some can be very sad, others may be filled with drama and high emotion. The funeral we attended this morning was definitely a celebration of life.

She was a retired educator, and a Christian who lived a life giving to others and that is what she will be remembered for and that is what we celebrated today. The message was encouraging and the minister was familiar with the life she lived.
The music was uplifting and not sad. The mood was definitely jubilant by the end of the service.

Different denominations handle funerals differently and sometimes it varies regionally as well. One thing they did different today was at the end of the service, the Pastor made a point of saying that the casket would NOT be opened up again, so as to not undo the emotional place that the family was now in after celebrating life, not death. I thought this was a great idea, especially since they had a Wake last night and a viewing in the church before the funeral this morning.

I am a very emotional person by nature (Cancer trait). I can easily get pulled into the emotions of others, so I am glad that the funeral was truly uplifting and a positive celebration of life rather than draped with a lot of sadness.

Today I am thankful for the Celebration of Life.

What are you thankful for ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful: Day 26 Road Trips

By the time we get back to Houston Sunday night me and Mr. Mixologist will have logged a total of 26 hours in a car together. In fact, I am writing this blog from the comfort of the passenger seat listening to satellite radio. I know some people dread long distances in a car, but I really enjoy it sometimes, especially with the right road dawg ! LOL

When you live far from your family sometimes situations require you to have the ability to jump in a car and show up. Especially when the cost of a last minute flight could feed a small village ! The downside is the time it takes to get there, but I like flexibility of being able to take breaks or stop for gas according to my plan. I have been getting the opportunity to do more riding and less driving this time which is great. As long as I have some good snacks and plenty to read I am good.

Road trips also provide a lot of good bonding time. I can say for sure that me and my boyfriend have had some our most insightful conversations while on trips in the car. I guess there is something about the confinement and lack of distractions. We have been talking about everything, past situations, funny stories, reminiscing, dreams, goals, you name it. Listening to talk radio and debating on politics, listening to entire CD's and discussing the production flaws, our opinions about why it went platinum or didn't LOL.

It's dark now and we are still about 5 hours from where we need to be so we are going to grab some dinner and then hit the road and get it done.

Today I am thankful for a safe fun road trip and GPS too !

What are you thankful for ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Thankful : Day 25 Family Traditions

For the last eight years one of the traditions we have in our family is to run the Turkey Trot early on Thanksgiving Morning. Now not everybody runs the whole thing. Some run, some walk/trot, and some just simply walk. I actually started the tradition the first year I ran it alone, but some of my cousins promised to do it with me the next year and the tradition was born. For the first 6 years it was an 8K which is almost 5 miles, now for the last two years they changed it to a 5K (3.2 miles) so the participation has increased both for the race itself and in our family.

The weather is typically unpredictable. Sometimes the weather is perfect, slightly cool, overcast with zero humidity. However this year it was crazy. It was 28 degrees with some strong winds! Luckily some of my cousins made sure to let know in advance so that me and Mr. Mixologist could prepare and pack accordingly. Trust me, we had our layers in effect.

We had a total of 8 family members including my boyfriend that ran the Turkey Trot but my parents, my uncle, sister and other family came downtown to cheer for us, take pictures and brought hot cocoa and coffee ! My uncle owns a carpet and flooring business so a few years ago he started giving us shirts to wear during the trot for some free advertising.

We have a lot of fun as a family at this event. The jokes and clowning about who did what, who needed a defibrolator, who "won" and who "lost" goes on for months afterwards ! LOL The organization that sponsors the race does a lot of good in the community. Also it is the perfect family bonding opportunity and the fact that we are modeling being physically active to the little ones BEFORE we indulge in our Thanksgiving Feast is a good example for them I think.

Today I am thankful for family traditions and the joy they bring.

What are some of your family traditions?

What are you thankful for ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Thankful: Day 24 Quality Family Time

I spent the day before Thanksgiving playing games with my nieces and nephew, including a tea party and some word games that they actually created by themselves. I love playing with kids. I marvel at their innocence and watching how their little personalities develop and how they learn. I swear I can almost predict who is going to do what when they grow up.

Spending time with them before I had to get in the kitchen and start cooking definitely put me in a nice frame of mind. They make laugh and warm my heart. The oldest one, Savannah loves cooking like I do and was excited to do whatever we needed her to do to get everything done.

Today I am thankful for quality time with my family.

What are you thankful for ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful: Day 23 Blogging via Blackberry

I am on a roll yall. So far I have done pretty good with this Thankful Challenge and wondered how I would fare over the holidays. Since I will be traveling so much I didn't know how I was going to keep up this last week. I am not the most technical chick and I do know that some folks blog from their phone but I just figured out how to do it today. Don't judge me...LOL!

So if this posts like I'm hoping then I will be very thankful for the ability to Blog via my Blackberry !

Beautifully Complex
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankful: Day 22 Children in my Life

 This picture was taken this past summer when my nieces and nephew visited for a couple of weeks. Man we had a blast at the downtown Aquarium ! I love spending time with kids and seeing the world again through their eyes. They remind me of what's important in life and their innocence is intoxicating.

In just a few hours, we will be on our way to spend time with my family for Thanksgiving. I am most looking forward to seeing my nieces, nephew and all my little cousins and spending time, playing games with them, cooking with them and just marveling at how fast they are growing and maturing into little people. Since I live far away I miss out on so much of their development that I look forward to catching up with them at every opportunity.

I love children and I love the fact that I have so many in my life that I love and who love me back.
So today I am thankful for the children present in my life and for all the hugs I will be receiving in just a few hours !

What are you thankful for ?

Beautifully Complex 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thankful: Day 21 Breath of Life

So we got word that Mr. Mixologist's sister-in-law's mother passed this weekend. She had been sick with Cancer and was recently placed in Hospice care, after being cared for by her daughter for many months at their home. We knew that things had recently turned,  but she went quicker than was expected. He just found out he is going to be a pall bearer at the funeral. He is very honored at the request, but it is challenging to him because it reminds him of the fact that he had to serve in this role in the past for an uncle and a couple of cousins that he was extremely close to.  Death is never easy, but as we all know, it is a part of life.

We have been focused on how we are going to go about adjusting our travel plans, to accommodate this unexpected change for this upcoming  holiday week.  It is going to involve a lot of maneuvering on our part. We were talking today about how challenging it will be for us to cut short a happy family visit, to switch gears emotionally and head to a family event filled with sorrow.  We will go from being laid back, relaxed and enjoying ourselves, enjoying life, to being tasked with being supportive and assisting wherever we are needed under the shadow of death.  I will be meeting some of his family members for the first time, under these unfortunate circumstances, which is not how we originally planned it. But life rarely goes according to plan as we all know.

I have been in prayer for his brother and sister-in law's comfort and recently wrote about facing a similar situation HERE. And yesterday over at CreoleinDC she wrote something that I was really feeling and thinking about as well. Death always puts me in a very reflective place. All of my time and personal challenges on this earth are bringing me to a place of peace and gratefulness of every single day that I am blessed with, as well as those around me. So today I am so thankful for the breath of life that awoke me this morning, that allows me to praise Him and to thank Him for another chance to get it right. 

What are you thankful for ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thankful : Day 20 Online Recipes

This morning I took out some chicken breasts but didn't really have any plans for them beyond just putting them on the grill. While scanning my google reader, I remembered  a recipe that caught my attention this week over at THREE FOOD WORDS so I checked the cupboards and decided to give it a try. I love the Internet and the information available at your fingertips.

I made a few modifications but pretty much stuck to the directions. I sauteed onions, mushrooms, and used fresh spinach instead of frozen. I mixed mozzarella and cheddar cheese since I didn't have enough of either separately and I must say it was quite tasty.  It took a little more time than I expected and it was tricky turning over the breasts while searing with the toothpicks holding them together. I think the next time I pound out the breasts, I will cut them into smaller pieces before stuffing and rolling them up.  Because mine did not come out too pretty, but they were very tasty.

I served it with baked sweet potatoes and sauteed some cabbage and onion and it was deelish.

So today I am thankful for finding another great online recipe to put into the rotation !

What are you thankful for ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Thankful: Day 19 Quick Hot Beverage

I recently discovered the joy of the Keurig.  Quick, instant, hot beverages be it gourmet coffee, tea, or various types of cocoa. Created in your home, fresh, piping hot in a less than a minute. They have sooooo many different types of cups that you can easily order online. I got my Keurig Special Edition Brewer from Mr. Mixologist and I am hooked on it now. I even found a little holder at Bed Bath and Beyond for the counter top that you can use to store the different types of cups. It looks like a little tree of cups. It is sleek and matches the chrome finishes on the Keurig. I think I might use my 20% off coupon and order it quick !

This morning, after sleeping in late and having a nice brunch, I started my day with some nice hot cocoa.  A perfect start to a cool, slightly overcast day.

Today I am  so thankful for my Keurig which is the business ! 

What are you thankful for ?

Comments ? Questions ? Thoughts ?

Beautifully Complex

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thankful: Day 18 Warm Fire, Cool Vino

My favorite part of the fall weather change is the chance to use my fireplace.  I love it because it's gas with the fake wood logs and lights up very easily.  No messy cleanup and no heavy wood loading and carrying. Tonight is one of those nights to snuggle up with my love, enjoying the warm fire and a nice cool crisp glass of wine. And that is exactly what I am going to do to end this work week.

So tonight I am thankful for a nice warm fire and a cool glass of vino.

What are you thankful for ?

Beautifully Complex 

Thankful : Day 17 Prompt Service

I hate going to the Dealership because it always seems like you end of spending so much time sitting and waiting, even when you have a so called appointment. Because of that I had been dreading taking my vehicle in for a Safety Recall, but since I do want to be safe yesterday I called and made an appointment for this afternoon.

When I arrived, the service technician, was waiting for me. He took my information, gave me the time frame, asked for my cell phone number, showed me the waiting area. They took the car back and promptly did the work, called me when it was ready. I couldn't believe it. It was unlike any experience I have every had and I was shocked. I was out of there in no time to get the other things I needed to get done.

Today I am thankful for prompt, friendly and courteous customer service !

What are you thankful for ?

Beautifully Complex 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful : Day 16 Travelling Grace

You how when you get on the road for a trip, usually for a long distance ride, you pray specifically for "Traveling Grace" or other people will tell you that they will pray for your "Traveling Mercy" ? Well it occurred to me today how I usually only really consciously think about it and pray for it specifically, when the trip involves considerable miles. Like when I am traveling to see my family or taking a vacation.

A few days ago, a friend of a friend was involved in a major car accident on a routine trip. I know the young lady, from meeting her and her children at group functions, parties, etc., but we aren't really friends more like acquaintances.  In the accident, she was taking her kids to school and they were broadsided by very large truck,  she was driving her very small Honda. The point of impact was on her side of the vehicle. All three of them were transported by ambulance, but she was the most severely injured was admitted and is still in ICU. The kids were treated for minor issues and released. She on the other hand has had 2 major surgeries for some internal injuries and suffered a broken leg, a broken arm and I just found out today will definitely be unable to work for several months. 

It's funny how people are in car accidents we drive by, rubber necking, moving safely on to our destination.  But somehow when it hits close to home it matters so much more. When I see the remnants of an accident, or actually witness one, I always say a prayer thanking him for his protection. Today after speaking with our mutual friend about her status, I thought about how many miles I drive for work every week, how much time I actually spend behind the wheel of a car and just how dangerous it is and I said a conscious prayer and will continue to do so every day as I am clicking my seat belt. 

So today I am thankful for traveling grace and making it safely from point A to B to C and beyond. 

What are you thankful for ?

Comments ? Thoughts ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thankful: Day 15 A Free Lunch

Today the company catered lunch for the employees. We got our Thanksgiving fix a week early. The food was provided by one of the areas famous soul food restaurants called This Is It. I actually had some field work today and would have missed out, but luckily, I got a text message from a co-worker reminding me there was plenty of food, so I quickly adjusted my schedule for the day so I could get back in the office and not miss the goodness.

So I enjoyed some ham, cornbread dressing with cranberry sauce, green beans, macaroni and cheese, and the best was $ Free.99 !

So today I was very thankful for an unexpected free lunch.

What are you thankful for ?

Beautifully Complex

Thankful: Day 14 A Mother's Wisdom

A few years ago, after I bought this house, I was talking to my mom about my utility bills. My budget was kind of tight at the time and I was looking for ways to reduce my living expenses and save some money. During the cooler months, it just seemed to take a lot to heat up the house. I would run the heat for what seemed like forever and it would still be so drafty around here and I would need a blanket just to be comfortable. I have a home office, a spare bedroom, and a large family/formal dining area, in addition to the kitchen and the Master Bedroom. I was running the central heat constantly and it just seemed like it would never really get warm in here, even with the fireplace, but the utility bills said something else.

My mom suggested that I routinely keep all the doors closed to the rooms that I wasn't currently occupying and go to Home De.pot and get a small electric space heater to use.  She emphasized that she wanted me to get the electric kind so that she would not have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning. All I can say is thank God for mothers and all of their wisdom ! That little conversation has saved me so much money on utility bills over the last few years. I have gone back and looked at my old bills versus what I was paying afterward and it is a  HUGE difference.  I have paid for that space heater, 10 times over in the monetary savings for sure.

It is very portable and  lightweight so I can easily move it from room to room. It has a remote with a timer on it and it is so small that you don't even really notice it, and some people don't even know what it is when its off, and sitting in the corner.  Typically, there are only a few times a year when my house is fully occupied with multiple people in multiple rooms and that is during the Spring and Summer when my nieces are here. During the cold months, I usually come home and spend some time in the kitchen, then move to the office to use the computer for an hour or two, then move to the living area or bedroom to read or watch TV for a few hours before going to sleep. So basically, I really only need to heat the room that I am occupying vs. the whole dang house. 

I used it again for the first time this season last night while watching movies with Mr. Mixologist and I must say we were quite comfortable and cozy. So today I am thankful for the money saving tips, and the care and concern of my mother and most of all her wisdom that is available to me whenever I need it. 

What are you thankful for today ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thankful: Day 13 Beautiful Weather

Today is one of those days when the sun is shining, the temperature is perfect,  there is no humidity in the air, the sky is clear and blue and it just makes me feel  so blessed to be here and be alive. I think sometimes God tries to show us simple things to remind us of his power. It is an absolutely beautiful day today in Houston and I am just thankful to be here to enjoy it. When you actually take time and care to notice it, a beautiful day just makes everything look and feel better.

I love the cool fall weather and all that comes with it. I love all the clothes, jackets, boots, hats and just the fashion in general. I like the comfort foods, like chili or a nice stew. Another reason I think I like the fall is because it comes just before the holiday season. As I have gotten older, and gotten some life under my belt, I understand more of what matters and what to appreciate, what to not worry about and it has made me more peaceful about a lot of things. 

So today I am so thankful for this beautiful weather and this beautiful day and the fact that I still have a few more hours to enjoy it !

Be Blessed !

Beautifully Complex

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thankful: Day 12 - Working from Home

On days like today, when I am still not feeling 100 %, I am so thankful for the ability to work from home if and when I need to. The timing was perfect because Mondays are usually planning and report writing days for me, so the majority of what I have to do today involves the computer and the phone which I can very easily do without having to drive to my little cubicle in an office far, far away ! Today I have been able to plan my meetings and interviews for the week, review and draft some reports and return calls in the comfort of my home while wearing my Snug.gie and sipping on a hot beverage courtesy of my new Keurig (Thanks Mr. Mixologist) LOL ! I could have used a sick day, but honestly, it would have been a waste, because I am feeling much better and have been very productive. I just did not feel like putting myself together and driving this morning.

The majority of my work requires that I be in the field most days. This is the case for all the people in my particular unit. It involves a lot of driving, conducting in person interviews, going to different office sites to conduct business, and going to specific places to get information that I need for my cases.  So the actual amount of time that I am sitting still and not en route to somewhere is minimal. I am thankful to have the flexibility to work from multiple places which makes each day different. One downside is that occasionally, I have to meet people late in the evenings to get information I really need, but I just flex the time, since I am responsible for my own scheduling. I am thankful to have control over my work and to have a Manager that understands work/life balance.

I am thankful to have a job that allows me  a lot of autonomy which I have really gotten accustomed to.

I am thankful to be able to work from home whenever I need to.

What are you thankful for ?

Thoughts ? Questions ? Comments ?

Beautifully Complex

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thankful: Day 11 Good Strong Pharmaceuticals

I have been down for the count this weekend, starting on Friday afternoon. I caught a small reprieve for a few hours Saturday and managed to clean out my closet but that has been the most productive thing I have done this weekend.  I didn't start to feel close to normal until about 3 hours ago. I'm sure I have mentioned it before that I suffer from Endometriosis , Stage IV, which can really put me down usually every 3 months, I have a really bad turn and this month was it. I experience what I can only describe as " 48 to 72 hours of pure hell " I am required to sleep with a heating pad on my abdomen, continual cups of hot tea, and a measure of " Good Strong Pharmaceuticals" to include Trama.dol and Hyd.rocodone for some relief. I move from the bed to the sofa and back to the bed. I literally have not left the house since Friday afternoon. I know my body, so the good thing for me is, that I should be fine for the holiday season and probably won't be down like this again until February or so.

I won't go into the litany of symptoms, you can click the link  above if interested, but just know that I have been dealing with this since being diagnosed in 1999, after 3 years of marriage and no pregnancy. I had my first surgical procedure in 2000 to attempt to remove adhesions  and have had two more since then. For the record, my Fallopian Tubes are useless ! There is no cure for Endometriosis, all you can really do is manage the pain =Good Strong Drugs ! LOL For the most part, I have accepted my situation and the resulting Infertility, but some cycles can put me in a funk that I can't shake ! IVF is still and option but my age is advancing and that does affect success rates for it. For now, I am thankful that I have been able to manage it with medication vs. having to have another surgery. 

So tonight as I raise up from this fog of a weekend, feeling much less pain, I am thankful for all of the hardworking Pharmacists, thankful for the Pharmaceutical companies and all of their research, and very thankful the Good, strong medicine, that gives me relief when I need it ! LOL 

What are you thankful for ?

Questions ? Thoughts ? Comments ?

Beautifully Complex

Thankful : Day 10 - Hidden Gems

I am doing my best to catch up on my Thankful posts before the weekend, but it has been a little challenging. On Veteran's Day, I took Mr. Mixologist out for lunch to thank him for his military service. He and I seem to enjoy the same type of restaurants for the most part. He is slightly more particular than me, but I have figured out what he enjoys and wanted to take him someplace nice. With him being from the Northeast, he has a fondness for small, independently run, ethnic type restaurants and he has turned me on the several here in Houston. He lives in the "city" part of Houston which is a bit more cosmopolitan, where as I live in the "suburbs" and they can be a tad bit generic. Therefore,  it's a lot harder to find the types of places that he really likes to eat near my home. But alas, thanks to Yelp I was able to discover a really nice spot to take him to this week.  

The restaurant we enjoyed is Manny's Cafe.  They serve Greek and Mediterranean food in a very casual setting. I don't know how we have managed to miss this hidden gem, but I am sure glad I found it ! Especially since it's only about 2 miles from the house. You know how you drive by certain strip centers for years and never pay attention to things ? Well not 3 months ago, we were at a different restaurant at the other end of this same center and failed to see this Greek spot. The restaurant that we visited back then has since closed (it was new, we wanted to show some support, but we were very disappointed with the food) and we are not surprised to learn it had closed down.  After eating at Manny's, we were surprised that it's been there for over 5 years and I never noticed it before. Man we have been missing out !

We met the owner Manny at the counter. You can tell he has a slew of regular customers, just by watching the interactions, and they were all calling him by name. It was a very comfortable, friendly vibe. He somehow knew that we hadn't dined there before, and asked us how we found out about them & what was the occasion. I proudly told him Yelp, and that Mr. Mixologist is a Veteran. He thanked me for our support of his business and his service. He took our order and made a suggestion that ended up saving us a few dollars.  He is a pretty friendly, funny guy, with a snarky sense of humor.

The place was small, but spotless and very well maintained. The service was fast and attentive. When finished, a lady promptly removed our plates with graciousness and offered us a to-go container, because the portions were so HUGE.  I love family run, ethnic spots, and the food did not disappoint. The food was fresh, hot and delicious. We split a Gyro Plate and a Greek Salad, and there was more than enough for a second meal which tasted awesome when reheated later that day. We were more than satisfied and  will definitely be back.  I love to find a "hidden gem" and thankful that it is right in my own backyard.

I am thankful for the service of all our Veteran's especially my dad's and my man's.

I am thankful to discover new restaurants to enjoy.

What are you thankful for ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful : Day 9 A Handy Man

One of the woes of home ownership is the unlimited number of things that can spring up on any given day that can cause you to have to reach in your pocket.  There is always something to maintain, something that can break down, something that needs to be fixed. I have actually learned how to do a lot of things just out of pure necessity & I think that women should always be capable of helping themselves, but there is nothing wrong with a little help every now and then. Last night I discovered a leak in the guest bath. Since I don't use it very often, I failed to notice the problem before it had caused water damage to the bottom of the cabinet underneath the sink.

For the record, my ex-husband was NOT a handy man by any stretch of the imagination. He couldn't even Bar-b-cue ! LOL. I think it is for that reason that I immediately start to think of what kind of professional I am going to have to pay to come to my aid when the homeowner dramas start. It is a hard habit to break,  but alas, things have changed around here.  Mr. Mixologist came to my rescue last night, as he is quite the handy one. He has assured me that he can get it handled without the need of any professionals or the fees they charge ! 

He reminded me that he repaired a hole in the sheet rock, caused by yours truly,  when I fell last month on the treadmill, after a dizzy spell,  putting one of these size 10's through the wall ! LOL. You should have seen the sheer panic on his face, when he heard my tumble and came running into the office to check on me. I was fine, although a tad embarrassed :) I still have the sage green paint, used for the office in the garage, so after he completely repaired the wall, he painted it and I swear it looks like the hole was never there !

He also reminded me that, when the freezer in the side by side refrigerator went out two months ago, I was already online at Conn's looking for a new one to buy, when HE discovered that it could be repaired & I was back in business, with fresh ice cubes within 12 hours. Man it feels good to have a handy man around that can do some man ish ! I think I am going to use some of the funds he has saved to get some steaks this weekend for the grill. The thing about that is, he won't let me near the grill when he is around ! LOL So I guess I will just season the meat, bake some potatoes and toss a salad, while he is outside doing what a handy man does ! Thank you Lord !

What are you thankful for today ?

Are you handy around the house ?

Thoughts ? Questions ? Comments ?

Beautifully Complex

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thankful: Day 8 His Provision

In last last 48 hours I have had 3 separate conversations with friends that are experiencing financial hardship. One friend is facing some unforeseen financial obstacles, and needed some immediate financial assistance and another is looking to find a part time job to supplement their income because they just can't seem to consistently make ends meet and are looking for a way to stop the bleeding. The other friend is dealing with unemployment. 

In this economy it seems we all know someone, or "know of someone" dealing with some kind of financial issue and for me it is hitting closer to home every day. Last night me and Mr. Mixologist watched this new show on WE TV called Downsized. Now I am truly skeptical about most reality TV shows. But in this day and age of the recession, high unemployment, and this economy that just can't seem to rebound, it was pretty interesting to watch. 

The combination of the calls from my friends and watching the show, just robbed my spirit a little bit last night and I did not rest well at all. So today I just wanted to express my thankfulness for His Provision in my life. I really consider it a blessing to be the person in a position to GIVE a financial blessing rather than to NEED a financial blessing.  When someone calls me for money, I always try to think about what it would feel like to be in their shoes. Sometimes it is really difficult to ask for help. But we all need something or someone from time to time. At the moment I am fully employed, I can take care of my financial obligations and I am blessed to not need any assistance from anyone and I know that it is ONLY through His grace and His mercy that I have the things that I have.  Thank you Lord !

What are you thankful for ?

How have  you been affected by this economy ?

Thoughts ? Questions ? Comments ?

Beautifully Complex

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thankful : Day 7 A Good Party

I am glad that I was able to relax a little when I was off Friday, because my weekend picked up steam and I needed all day Sunday  just to recuperate ! After attending a gathering at Icey's house, I picked up another girlfriend and we jumped on the highway to head to a birthday party for a very good friend of ours. I have known this guy for about 14 years. He has been a very supportive friend and encouraging person, who has always shown up for me when it counted. He is married to one of my sorors, but I met him first through work. My friend comes from a big family hailing from East St. Louis. His wife is from New Orleans and she has a big family too. So believe me when I say, they had a lot  people to converge this weekend for a 3 Day Celebration. 

We missed the Friday night event that we were also invited to at their house which we were told was off the hook ! They had Gumbo, Jambalaya, Boiled Crabs, Fish and Potato Salad ! Man I hate I missed that, but I have to exercise some restraint sometimes ! LOL. Trust me, we more than made up for what me missed while we were there Saturday. The party was at this place called Suga's Deep South Cuisine and Jazz Bar. It was a very nice venue. The guests were asked to dress in Black and Silver. We had unlimited Chardonnay and Cabernet along with Shrimp, Boudain Balls, Stuffed Mushrooms, Grilled Chicken Skewers, fruit, and cheese. One of the funniest things was a video that they played during the party. They turned off the music so we could watch it. It is hard to explain without you knowing how my friend is or his personality, but lets just say he is known to be quite a character and can't tell a good story and "play the dozens" with the best of them.  The video was shot like he was a celebrity arriving for a sit down interview and they asked him various questions about his life so far. He told some hilarious stories & made some poignant observations. He told us this funny story about being at a Cameo Concert 20 years ago with his soon to be wife and some of their friends, that had us in tears ! LOL I must say the video was actually very professionally done it only lasted about 15 minutes. I thought the idea was pretty unique & so appropriate because my friend is a pretty funny guy.

I don't have to tell you that people from Louisiana know how to party ! Man we shut that place down. We had a blast, doing the Wobble, the Michael Jackson Shuffle, and the party didn't stop until we finished with a good old fashioned New Orleans Second Line Dance, waving our napkins ! Of course the Birthday Boy and his Kappa Frat brothers ended up on stage with their canes before it was all said and done at 2 AM.  When we left the party, they were passing out Pralines, so I got several for Mr. Mixologist to enjoy later. 

We made sure to book a hotel room, but didn't get much use of it, because they insisted that everybody come to their house for the "After Party". Me and my girlfriend, retired the high heels for our flip flops, freshened up and headed over to their house. When we got there, it was like there was a party already in progress based on all the cars parked on the street ! Little did we know that several of his nieces, had left the party earlier & we walked into the aroma of food and a kitchen full of women cooking grits, hot sausage, bacon, and pancakes ! I mean it when I say it, people from Louisiana know how to throw a party and they don't know when to stop! LOL ! Of course, the music continued, the drinks were still flowing, I saw people still ARRIVING at 3AM ! Now that is what you call a house party. We kicked it strong until we just HAD to call it at 5AM. My body was telling me NO MORE. The scary thing is, there were people who didn't look like they were even close to leaving ! LOL. By the time we got to our hotel, checked in & hit the sheets it was 5:30A. I was so thankful for DAYLIGHT SAVINGS, which we had completely forgotten about cause we needed that extra hour for sure. We got up at the last minute to get checked out by Noon & hit the highway.  I had a blast, but I was paying for it later.

Today I am thankful for A good party experience.

I am thankful for people in my  life  who know how to have a good time.

I am thankful for my friend making it to a milestone birthday.

What are you thankful for ?

Been to any good parties lately ?

Thoughts ? Questions ? Comments ?

Beautifully Complex 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thankful: Day 6 Blog Friends

I knew the weekends were going to throw me off with my posting, but I have committed to making sure I get my 30 Thankful posts in this month. Late last night I managed to drop my blackberry in some water, while leaving a birthday party. The good news is that after a couple of hours of drying out, all of my information was intact and it still works. The bad news is that all of the pics I took at the blog gathering disappeared. I am sure their will be some pictures on Three Food Words soon, so you can check over there so you can appreciate all the goodness. 

First let me say that the Internet is a marvelous place, despite all the negativity that can exist online. I have been truly blessed to have been able to meet, connect and become friends with some wonderful people through blogs, twitter, and even FB.  I have been reading and blogging for about 3 years. So before FB or twitter was all the rage the last couple of years, I discovered blogs and how many talented writers there really are in the world. It is amazing how you can get to know people so well, or feel like you do, just by reading their words on a computer. It's so cool to read about peoples lives and come to know that you would be good friends just by how they present themselves online and it is great to meet them in person and have it confirmed.

I went to my very first Blogger meet up about a year and a half ago. I posted about it here. This was my first encounter meeting in person Serenity, Tiffany in Houston, and Icey. Since then we have continued to hang out IRL and I have come to know some of their friends and made connections with other people like Blaqueberrybabe, Rhapsody Diva,  CBean, and Nicintx. Last night I met WiseDiva for the first time. She is cool peeps, and a very sharp young lady.  Since becoming friends with all of these ladies I have attended a baby shower,  a wedding, a birthday party and just random meet ups for drinks and conversation. It is awesome to be able to meet and connect with real people and enjoy their company. None of my other friends are really into blogs or even twitter. Like most people, the majority of my FB friends are people that I met from school, work or are family members. Blogging is a different type of community and I am glad to be a part of it.

I must say that  Ms.Icey can "burn a pot" as Mr. Mixologist would say ! After arriving at her lovely home,  I had a drink in my hand within 5 minutes ! LOL Now that is my kind of place :) I love being around people who know how to make you feel welcome and comfortable in their home and she did just that. I met some of her family members before the other bloggers showed up and they were wonderful people. The appetizers were deelish ! We had hummus and pita chips, these little skewers with feta cheese, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and this crostini with some kind of grilled chicken, with caramelized onions and some type of aoli-like sauce  to put on top that was amazing ! She had some fresh cut apple with this cream cheese brown sugar type dip that was sooo good.  Man I wish I still had the pictures still so I could look at them again, but I am sure she will get it up on her blog soon. For dinner we had roasted chicken that was so moist, some potatoes, sauteed spinach and some carrots that were glazed with crack I swear ! LOL  Unfortunately, I had to leave early for another event, so she sent me on my way with a bag of brownies for the road. I am sure by now, you know they were heavenly ! 

So today I am thankful for the Internet leading me to my blog friends ! 

I am thankful for good food, great friends, and fun times ! 

What are you thankful for ?

Beautifully Complex 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thankful: Day 5 Me Time

Since I was off  work today, I have some solo activities planned to start off my weekend. Mr. Mixologist happens to be out of town until Sunday and this is the first weekend in a very long time that we haven't spent together. It seems a little weird,  but yet familiar since I was single for a significant amount of time. Nonetheless, I am a pro at occupying my time. I know how to stay busy and chill out with ease. I got up earlier than I planned, did some things around the house, hopped on the Internet for a bit.

Cue Jill Scott, "Made me some breakfast......toast, two scrambled eggs...."

I then headed to the nail shop for a pedicure. Now I am headed out to Bella Nova Day Spa for a much needed massage by my girl Candace.  Then I am headed to the movies to check out "Colored Girls" and then have some errands and a little bit of shopping to do. Tonight, I plan to get some sort of takeout, and clear out my Tivo, while finishing up some chores around here.

Tomorrow I get to sleep in again,  and then later meet up with some of my favorite blog buddies for a bit for an evening hosted by Tarsha , before heading to a Birthday Bash for another good friend.  Now me and Mr. Mixologist have been in communication since he left yesterday. We have been talking and texting.  Not as much as usual, because he has business to tend to. I really do miss him, but I am reminded today of how thankful I am for time to just be with me.

I am thankful for time to unwind and relax.

I am thankful to have time and resources to enjoy the things that I enjoy.

I am thankful to have an active social life, yet I am thankful for alone time too.

What are you thankful for ?

What do you enjoy ?  What do you have planned this weekend ?

Beautifully Complex

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful: Day 4 Appreciation

I spent most of the day working in the field but stopped in my office for a few hours this afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised to find these sitting on my desk.  I must be honest, I initially thought these were from my man,  LOL, but after reading the card, I discovered they were from my lovely sister. Last month I planned and hosted her 40th Birthday Bash I told you about here, and she just wanted to surprise me and let me know she appreciated all that was done to make the party a success. 

They were beautiful and I got so many compliments on the arrangement.She timed it just right because I am off Friday, so I brought them home to enjoy the extended weekend.

Today I am thankful for being appreciated.

I am thankful for the beautiful flowers.

I am thankful for the smile they brought to my heart.

What are you thankful for today ?

Beautifully Complex

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thankful: Day 3 The Presence of Parents

Yesterday was quite an emotional roller coaster for me. After work, me and another girlfriend, picked up a couple of bottles of wine, some sushi and headed to the home of one of my closest friends for an impromptu gathering. You see, yesterday marks one year ago, when she lost her mother. We just did not want her to spend this day alone. Her mother, the matriarch of the family was very dear to me. Truly she was like a mother to me in Texas as I have no family here, other than a distant cousin, I recently connected with. I still remember how my heart almost stopped when I got the word she had passed. She had recently had surgery, had been recovering very well for 2 weeks, but then had a complication that caused her to be rushed back to the hospital. She died in the ambulance on her way to the ER, they were not able to revive her. I will never forget walking into that hospital and looking at the faces of my friend, her sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews. They are a very large (8 siblings), extremely close family that I was blessed to be adopted by since I moved here many years ago. The hurt they are all still dealing with is tangible. They are a family that constantly celebrates any and everything. There is always someone graduating from college, getting married, having a birthday, getting a promotion, etc & they GO. ALL. OUT. for everyone. Her presence has been so obviously missed this year.

It has been many years since I have had a friend lose their parent. However as I sit here today, thinking of it, three of my closest friends in this world do not have EITHER of their parents here anymore. We are all the same age. The friend I spent yesterday with lost her father years ago, but I had never met him. I have another close friend who lost her mother when she was 6 and her father at the age of 19. My third friend lost her father when she was 20 and her mother 10 years later. Here I am at the age of 41 with BOTH my parents, that raised me and my "biological didn't bother" is still alive as well. In fact the funny thing about yesterday was, while sitting with my friends, I get a call from my mother. When I answer, she says to me " I just got a call from M_______'s sister. She wanted your cell phone number, I hope you didn't mind that I gave it to her." I have had sporadic contact with these people over the years as my biological moved in and out of my life. I have so much more to say about this situation that I will save for another blog. Anyway, within minutes I am getting a call from a strange number with the area code where I am from. I took the call and it was my biological dad. My friend knows the whole enchilada when it comes to my "daddy issues" so I step into her room for some privacy. The context of the call is for another blog, but I will say by the end of the conversation, I had experienced the following emotions: conflicted, frustrated, angry, guilty, hurt, disappointed. I tried to talk to my boyfriend about it all last night & to prepare him for the possibility of meeting him when we go for Thanksgiving later this month, but in the end I was just confused about my feelings.

As I was praying before bed last night, I was thinking of my friends with no parents on this earth and how blessed I am to still have mine, even the one that I am so conflicted about. I asking Him to comfort them and thanking Him for sparing me with such a loss so far in my life. I was wondering if the timing of his call was deliberate, because there are some things that I probably need to deal with once and for all, but keep putting off. The dynamic of parental relationships varies in so many ways. There are people who are not close to their parents, have dysfunction that goes on for years for various reasons. But when I think about the blessing of my mother and my stepfather, and the fact that they still exist on this earth, to support me as no one else can, I am humbled. So today I am thankful that my parents are here. I am thankful that I don't EVER question their love or willingness to support me when I need them. I am thankful in a way that I could never truly express.

What are you thankful for today ?

How is your relationship with your parents ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thankful: Day 2 - The Blessing of Good Health

Last week at work, we had a retirement ceremony for one of the Managers. The thing is, she is only 48 years old. She is taking a medical retirement due to the fact that she has been battling Ovarian Cancer off and on for the last 4 years. She had the chemo, went in to remission, her hair grew back, she came back to work for quite awhile.... and then it came back with a vengeance.  Normally these retirement parties have a different tone, because even  though the person is in their 60's they are usually in good health and have lots of plans for retirement, it seems exciting. This retirement was so different and it really shook me. I guess because she is so young, maybe because she is a woman, or maybe just because she is such a beautiful person that I hate to see going through this battle.

In August, my 39 year old cousin suffered a stroke. He is a married father with a  6 yr old son and  a 3 year old daughter. He is the oldest of 3 siblings.  He has had some recent health issues, and was diagnosed with some sort of heart problem about 3-4 years ago. He had been cleared to have gallbladder surgery by his heart doctor, came through the procedure, but then developed blood clots which led to the stroke.   I remember being by his bedside, talking to him, while his face was still contorted, trying my best to hide my disbelief about what was going on. 

In September my dad had the first of two knee surgeries, had some complications, and ended up being in the hospital far beyond the 5 days he was supposed to be. It was hard to hear the fear in his voice, especially because I could not make it home to be with him. He has recovered and is home now, going to therapy and getting stronger each day. 

All of these situations have me contemplating my health, in fact, I am just feeling so thankful and grateful for the blessing of good health as I sit here today.  I try to be conscious of health and taking care of me. My eating habits are not horrible but I can always do better. I probably do drink too much wine, and dialing that back might be a challenge. I can honestly say that I don't exercise as much as I used to or even as much as I should. But I have been using my treadmill and getting ready for the Turkey Trot at the end of the month. Every year I do my best to motive my family members to participate with lukewarm results. Like a lot of families we have a host of health problems in ours, including diabetes and heart issues, etc. I know that most of these issues just stem from bad habits. I don't want to minimize the heredity factor but lifestyle makes a huge difference. I don't want to live the cliche' "If  I knew I was gonna live this long, I would have taken better care of myself" So I am gonna act like I am thankful for my good health and take better care of myself as I age.

I am conscious of my mortality now more than ever. Somebody woke up & their life changed today, they got a devastating diagnosis, were stricken with blindness,  got burned, couldn't walk anymore, a host of possibilities. But today I am thankful for the good health that I am blessed with. I am thankful for another day to live life healthy and another day to continue to try to do my part to take the best care of me that I can.

What are you thankful for ?

How is your health ?

What are you doing to take care of yourself ?

Beautifully Complex

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thankful : Day 1 - For the Love of Reading

One of the things that I am most thankful for is something that was given to me by my mother. My love of reading is something that I truly believe was planted in me by my mother at a very early age. For as long as I can remember,  my mother always had her head stuck in a book of some kind. My mother read the newspaper every. single. day.  There were books everywhere in our house. I think seeing this from birth until I could understand it, made me curious about it. My mom talks about watching me as a baby, that could only crawl and sit, holding one of her books, with no pictures in it,  in my hands and staring at it, trying to figure out what was so fascinating about it ! LOL  I have a sister who is only 14 months younger than I am and we are very close. We  grew up close to my mother, who raised us as a single mother until my step-father entered the picture when I was 12.  My mother worked very hard to provide for us for many years with no support and reading for her was an escape and a way to relax. I think that me and my sister were drawn to reading as a way to connect with my mother. I have very vivid memories of me, my sister, and my mom, all three laying up in her bed together, all reading a book, in silence for hours upon hours.  We shared books, reading them in succession, so that we could laugh and discuss together. This was a constant in my life.

We had library cards and used them often, I KNEW the librarians at the Ralph Ellison Library Branch and they knew me. Sometimes when my mom had to work at her part time job. She thought nothing of dropping us off on a Saturday at the library for four hours or more, and me and my sister would select our books, check them out, and then find a quiet area to start reading. We would have snacks and sandwiches with us and let me tell you, we were fully entertained ! The librarians would often direct us to new books and make recommendations of things they thought we would enjoy.  After my mom got married and our finances improved, we would often get gift certificates from B. Dalton Bookstore (way before Barnes & Nobles ! LOL) for birthdays and stocking stuffers at Christmastime. We actually got clowned by our cousins when we would squeal with excitement after receiving those gift certificates. Yes we were "bookish" and teased for being "nerds" but we really did not care.

I think literacy is the key to many things. I mean it is the basis of education right ? It opens your mind and broadens your understanding, fosters curiosity among other things. Both me and my sister always did well in school. Honestly, for a long time it came easy for me. I assume that school is probably a bit more challenging for kids that hate to read. I was blessed to graduate as the Valedictorian of my class, however, I am the underachiever, because my sister is currently working on her dissertation to complete her Doctorate. Both my mom and my sister are awesome writers. My mom is actually working on a book that my sister is helping her to edit. I am extremely proud of both of them. Over the years, I have written some poetry and lyrics, but they are truly gifted. I say this to say that I believe that some of the best writers were readers first.  I hear people who say " I hate to read" and honestly, I just don't get it. I know we are all different, so I don't judge, but I just know that if I lost my ability to read, I would be lost. It has always been such a pleasure for me, I can spend hours upon hours with good books, magazines, and even the Internet. Another thing is,  I have a hard time getting rid of books. You know when you are moving and downsizing, and purging. It is really hard for me to let go of books because, they are sometimes attached to a time and place in my life that is meaningful. I  have two large book cases and really am in need of a third one but don't have anywhere to put it. I have been known to re-read books after several years. I don't mind loaning my books, but one of my pet peeves is people who don't promptly read and return books to the owner, or forget that it's yours !

Something that is music to my ears is the sound of my nieces reading. They love books and reading too, and Savannah in particular has great comprehension for her age and both of them have an advanced vocabulary and articulation. Both of their parents teach college level courses and they are going up in a house filled with books and readers so I guess it's no suprise, but I am so glad the gift is being passed on to them.

I am thankful for the ability to read and enjoy it.

What kind of books do you enjoy ? 

Who are your favorite authors ?

Any good books you would recommend ?

Beautifully Complex