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