Monday, September 26, 2011

Florida Trip - The Finale * Photo Heavy Post *

In case you missed it you can read about the first half of the trip here.

Our final day trip was down to Tampa to Ybor City which is a historical neighborhood that was once the Cigar capital of the world. Mr. Mixologist had been super excited once we decided to come to Florida, because he of course knew all about the history of this place. My Beau is a Cigar Aficionado and we took this opportunity for him to break down to me the seriousness of his affections ! LOL

See those huge Cigars above the desk ?

We started out at the Visitors Center to find out where all of the Factories and Lounges were. With map in hand and comfortable shoes, we headed out to tour the area. If you notice the sign in area looks like a huge Cigar Box.

He was mesmerized !

We went to the Historical Museum & toured the Exhibits. Mr. Mixologist walked right in an instantly recognized the guy who "rolled the worlds longest Cigar". He was like a kid in a candy store. LOL 

193.3 feet is the record

They actually have a portion of the "world's longest cigar" enshrined in a glass case ! LOL

First stick of the day ! 

We left the museum and headed to Breakfast at La Creperia Cafe where we had some amazing crepes and some Cafe Con Leche. I enjoyed the food, my Beau just wanted to get something on his stomach so he could get started on the Cigars ! LOL

She got skills ! 

We started touring the area, comparing the prices, touring several companies that hand roll Cigars on site. There are too many to link on here, but rest assured we found a few that we really liked. 

That truck in the back is distracting LOL !

We trekked around that area the whole day & I never once complained. I have to admit it was interesting & the customer service was very good in all the places we went. They seemed to really appreciate tourists.

Enjoying a smoke

One of our favorites was King Corona. They had free wifi, plenty of seating, both indoor and outdoor and of course a pretty large humidor. 

Thats a stick of sugar cane in my drink !

Throughout the day, I was definitely trying to get my drink on & I must say the Mojitos did not disappoint !

Enjoying "Happy Hour"

We took lots of cocktail breaks, in fact the whole day felt like Happy Hour ! We did a little shopping & my Beau let me pick the restaurants. I was so glad to have my laptop, because Cigars take a long time to smoke. LOL

I decided on a restaurant called Columbia. A guy at one the the Cigar Factories mentioned it to us, but I had to do my research and Yelp did not disappoint. We had Tapas & shared an Entree. The Crab Cakes were incredible. The "1905 Salad" was great and the Shredded Beef, yellow rice, everything was just really good. 

Looking like a kid at Christmas ! LOL

We came back to the Resort that night with a bag full of leftovers and a bag full of Cigars ! It was a cool day of hanging out with my handsome Beau in his element.

Excited to see more sand and surf ! 

On the day we headed home I talked him into taking a slight detour so that we could spend some time in Destin before we got out of Florida. He was still on his "Cigar High" so it was an easy sell. We just stopped for a few hours, spent some time on the Beach and grabbed something to eat. 

Just beautiful ! 

I had heard that the Beach was beautiful there but, it was better than I expected. The water was so clear and blue ! It was the perfect day.

Did not want to leave

I ended up wishing that we had planned the trip so that we could have spent the night there, it really was THAT enticing!

The waitress sneaked me a "to go cup" !

Now of course I had to find a place to quench my thirst, LOL. This Pineapple Martini was right on time. I was having the "I don't wanna go home blues" and this cocktail right here set me straight for a minute.

Of course I used my Yelp application to find a nice seafood spot and Dewey Destin's Harborside was just what I needed. It was right on the water and I must say I had the best Crab Claws I have ever had in my life ! 

Can't you see why I wasn't ready to go home ?

I cannot express how much I was not ready to go.  I felt like throwing a tantrum.  After we ate Mr. Mixologist took one more drive by the water for me before telling me to take my tipsy ass to sleep so he could get us home safely ! LOL 

This trip was awesome, we made some wonderful memories in Florida. I feel really blessed to have had such a nice experience. Don't you  just love vacations ? I am so looking forward to the next trip.

Where did you vacation this summer ? Where would you like to visit ?
Have you ever been to Florida ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Florida Trip-Part 1

It has taken me forever to upload our vacation pics, but finally it is done. I am going to recap the trip in two posts. Going back through the pics reminded me of what a relaxing time we had ! We stayed in a very nice Resort Condo with Mr. Mixologist's cousins from New York. I took lots of pics of the place inside and out but if you are interested we stayed at Sheraton Vistana Resort. The place looks exactly like the photos on their website. It was just like staying in a very nice Condo, we were poolside, with a nice patio & easy access to all the amenities. Inside we had plenty of space and everything was updated with granite and tile. We used the kitchen to cook, grilled outdoors and just had a lot of time to relax in between going to the parks & seeing the sights. Mr. Mixologist had to make Shrimp & Grits for his cousin because she doesn't get it that often living in NY & she made him promise to make it before we ever hit the state of Florida. LOL

Of course within 6 hours of arriving we were parked at  Corona Cigar Cigar Company. It was very laid back & we met a nice guy while hanging out there. It was a nice welcome to the city. LOL We also took a few day trips during the week we were in Orlando. One day we drove down to Cocoa Beach for a day. After spending some time on the beach, we stopped to have lunch at Squid Lips on the way back, of course we stopped at a Duque Cigar Lounge before heading back. It was a very relaxing day !

Me in heaven - surrounded by water !

My Beau in heaven - surrounded by Cigars ! LOL

We spent one very long day taking my Beau's little cousin to Walt Disney World and Disney's Hollywood Studios.  We let her parents have a day to themselves to do couple stuff. I had not been to Disney since I graduated from college, so I was really impressed with the parks & how much they have changed. We were doing "research" for when we take our nieces and nephews.  We actually had a lot of fun. We crammed so much into this 15 hour day & we were exhausted the next day but it was worth it.

Mr & his lil' cousin at Walt Disney World

At Hollywood Studios with Mickey

Orlando has to be the capital for Outlet Malls and we made our way to several, way too many to list here. I managed to get a couple of new hats a few clothing items and some souvenirs without busting the budget, but it wasn't easy.

Mr. Mixologist surprised me with a little date night. He took me to downtown Orlando to this wine bar that he saw on a TV show called The Wine Room on Park Avenue.  It was so cool. They have these machines that dispense the wine by pours. Either 2 oz., 4 oz. or 6 oz.  You buy a card and put whatever amount you want to spend on the card & then you go around and help yourself to whatever type of wine you want to try by swiping the card in the machines. This is a great concept for people who may not know what they like or what type of wine you are in the mood for. I loved it. If you are a wine lover and anywhere close to this city, you must go ! Naturally after enjoying our vino and a very nice cheese plate, we had to mosey our way to the closest cigar bar, Cigarz on the Ave. We were sporting our Fedora's and we shared a cigar & some laughs. It was a fun night.

Giving my sugar away ! LOL

Heading down to the wine cellar

My Beau has some family and friends that live in Florida too,  so we hit the road and made some visits. We went to see his friend from New York & her husband at their home and it was my first time having authentic Puerto Rican food. I wish I could remember what they called what we ate, but no worries it was yummy ! I also got a chance to meet his Uncle I have heard so much about. We spent several hours at their house and we played with his new little cousins that he had never even met.  His uncle made sure to let me know he had heard ALL ABOUT ME which made me smile. LOL.

Baby Sarai - love that name ! 

Mr. teasing one of the twins ! LOL

We came home after a long day of visiting, fixed some "adult beverages" and we all headed out to the jacuzzi and the pool for a little bit. It was coming to the end of the week, and I was already dreading having to leave paradise :(

Relaxing under the waterfall
My next post will be about our day trip to "Aficionado Paradise" & the trip home.

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up

I was a little under the weather on Friday afternoon, so by the evening I was laid out. I spent the next 24 hours trying my best to feel better. I did not want to miss my appointment, so  I went to the Salon on Saturday morning where I managed to get hustled by my Stylists  9 year old daughter. LOL It is school fundraising time & I am a sucker for cute kids who know how to sell. I bought candles & cookie dough. LOL What a combination.

By Saturday evening I was feeling good enough to attend a Bachelorette/Bridal Shower/Slumber Party for one of my friends who is getting married in 3 weeks.  We didn't actually spend the night. "Slumber Party" is the name of one of those companies that sells adult novelty stuff. I attended a similar event a couple of years ago, I think it was called a "Passion Party". Anyway, after we arrived got settled in, had some drinks & food, a lady set up a table & did a little presentation/demonstration of sorts.LOL  It was pretty funny to watch the ladies listen to the stories & the reactions of some of the women to the questions & information being shared. This was a mixed group from ages 25-45, some married, single, engaged, or dating, so it was pretty interesting.  The more the drinks flowed the rowdier some of the women became.

After the lady presented all of the products, which runs the gamut from the mild to the kinky LOL. She retreated to a bedroom & each lady went in one by one to buy what they wanted in private. Of course the rep wanted to find someone who would host another party. I enjoyed the event because the lady was not overly aggressive. She didn't press anyone to purchase anything, but from the brown bags that women were carrying out of there, she obviously didn't need to !

Sunday was football day. My Beau is a fanatic it seems. I spent the first half of the day watching games with. Mr. Mixologist. I cooked dinner for him & then he went to meet some of his friends for the later games. We had a nice time together. I spent the remainder of the day relaxing, clearing out my DVR & chatting with my sister whose birthday happens to be on 9/11.

She had a great day. Her husband and 3 children gave her a personalized Spa day.  It was cute. My niece Savannah created a handwritten menu of the services she was going to receive. They all dressed in black pants & white shirts. Each of them participated. They drew her a bath & let her soak with some bath salts & candles. She said they even had a CD player in the bathroom with Jazz playing & everything ! LOL  After that she received a foot rub and a massage. While they brought her some fancy finger food they had made (Cheese, Crackers, Shrimp & Olives) & she had a couple of glasses of Champagne, they gave her her birthday gifts. She loved it & they were so proud.

The only downside to the weekend was that I got word on Saturday morning from my mother that my former Pastor, when I lived home had passed away. He was only 63 years old ! I was saddened and surprised. He was a wonderful teacher. This news came on the heels of my former Mother-in-law passing away less than 3 weeks ago. I am still reeling from that loss because I maintained a very good relationship with her even after my divorce. She was the epitome of Christian faith. Both of these two played a very important part in my Spiritual growth as a woman & I know they are both at peace.

Overall a nice low key weekend.

How was your weekend ? Did you do anything special ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My September 11 Memory

It really doesn't seem like 10 years has passed. I am sure the families of those directly affected would say different though. We are all shaped by loss that we experience in some form or fashion. People lose loved ones or their lives change in an instant everyday.  It all matters. This national tragedy was different because it affected so many people at once. Ten years is a long time. So much in my life has changed since then & in those around me.

I was married at the time. My ex-husband who is a Federal Agent had just returned from 2 weeks in NYC working.  I had picked him up from the Airport the night before. We both took vacation days that day and were sleeping in. I remember that both of our cell phones were vibrating in tandem. We ignored the first few times. Finally, he picked up his phone  & said "your Mom called me". I looked at my phone to see that 3 family members had called me including my Mom. He went into the bathroom as I dialed my mom. When she answered she said, " Where is ex-husband? Is he still in NYC ?" I said, "No he's right here, I picked him up from the Airport last night."  She told me to turn on the TV immediately. I was sitting in the middle of the bed, looking at the TV, with my mom on the phone, when he came out of the bathroom. He was looking at his cell phone & said, " I need to call the office something is up".  He then saw that I had the TV on already & we were sitting there watching when we saw the 2nd plane hit the other Tower.  We just looked at each other stunned. I told my Mom that I had to get off the phone so I could get dressed.

We spent the next few hours at his office, they were trying to get in touch with his Team that was working in NYC but the phones were not going through & it was just chaotic. He was on the phone with other Agents all over the country. By lunchtime, they had confirmed that his Team was safe & we went home to spend the afternoon watching the news coverage on TV. I remember the fear when we determined that it was indeed a terrorist attack & just the anxiety and uncertainty that was everywhere.  I guess that is why it's called terrorism huh ? I hate that nervous feeling in your stomach & I can still remember how it feels when I think too hard about it.

I like to focus on the positive when I can find it. All the news coverage in preparation for commemorating the 10 th Anniversary of the Terror Attacks have have reminded me of how we came together as a country in the face of such tragedy and fear. In light of the political climate as of late, it is a lesson we need to learn again it seems. Below is a State Farm commercial directed by Spike Lee that I thought was very touching. Hope you enjoy it.

Do you have any 9/11 Reflections to share ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Monday, September 5, 2011

Just Me.......A to Z

I saw this over at The Weight of What is Real & thought I would give it a shot.

Bed Size: King
Chore You Hate: Mopping
Dogs:  Pretty much scared of them due to a childhood trauma.
Essential start of your day: Prayer & then Music
Favorite color: Green
Gold or silver: Silver
Height: 5’10″
Instruments I play (or have played): Started to learn the piano. Still own my Keyboard
Job title: Fraud Investigator 
Kids: None biologically. Numerous in my heart.
Lives: Houston, Texas
Mom’s name: Linda
Nickname: Jaye
Overnight hospital stays: Surgery for Infertility with some Complications 
Pet peeve: People who drive slow in the left lane and don't move over so you can pass them. 
Quote from a movie: "Life is like a box of never know what you're gonna get !"  Forrest Gump.
Right or left handed: Right
Siblings: One sister, 4 half-siblings from my biological father.
Time you wake up: 7:00am
Underwear: Yes. Everywhere except when I am sleeping.
Vegetables you dislike: Beets. Yuck!
What makes you run late: Hitting snooze.
X-rays you’ve had done: Ankle, Back, Neck & Teeth
Yummy food you make: Peach Cobbler, Chicken & Cream Cheese stuffed Croissants, Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
Zoo animal: Giraffes

Tag Your'e It ! Take this over to your spot, or just Blog in the Comments ! LOL

Beautifully Complex 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Surprise !

My sister and I put our heads together months ago, to try and come up with a gift that we could give our parents for their Anniversary that they could BOTH enjoy. I have to give my lil' sis credit because it was ultimately her idea that we decided to go with. The party was a success. You can read about it here.

We decided at one point that the party would NOT be a surprise since because 30 years is a significant Anniversary, it was not likely that our parents wouldn't assume that we would do SOMETHING for them. With this in mind we let them know we had something planned but kept the details about what and where under wraps. What our parents didn't know was that the party was not our only gift to them. We decided to spruce up their backyard patio, to encourage them to get out of the house and enjoy themselves together. We decided to reveal the gift after the Anniversary event by having  a Dessert & Champagne After-party at their home.

Take a look at what the Patio looked life before :

The smoker, grill & swing have seen better days!
The challenging part was getting our parents out of the house for several hours prior to the Party so that we could clean up the back yard, bring the furniture in and get it set up.  We put my cousin, Mr. Mixologist and my BIL to work that day in the heat,  which was well over 100 Degrees. Uh.....yes we owe them big time ! LOL

Conversation Seating Set
We got them a Conversation Seating Set, a Patio Table with 6 chairs an Umbrella and a new Gas Grille ! We had all of the furniture shipped to our Uncle's Carpet Store about a month before. On the day of the surprise, me and my sister went shopping for the plants, plant holders, pillows, grill utensils and candles while the guys put the furniture together.

Patio Table and Umbrella
My favorite cousin put the grill together in advance, used his truck to bring the furniture from his dad's store and was an all around lifesaver on this day. We had to get all this done & set up & get ourselves ready for the Party later that evening & it was no simple feat but we made it happen.

New Grille & my Beau taking a break from the heat!
By the time the party was over, and everyone arrived at my parent's home for dessert, champagne, wine and beer it was beginning to get dark so we had to hustle to get my parents outside so we could surprise them with their gift. Honestly, they were already overwhelmed and excited about the party since they had no idea who would be there and where it was. They were excited about seeing a lot of folks they had not seen in forever. Also, they had no idea that most of the guests were leaving the venue & coming to their home afterward. After giving toasts in the living room & some laughs,  we let them know we had one last thing to give them and led them to the backyard......

Dad coming out for the surprise.
They were so surprised ! BOTH my mom & dad shed tears ! LOL It was funny, and touching, and such a wonderful feeling to surprise them and please them. We pulled it off and we were so happy !

My dad broke down too :)
Mom overwhelmed with tears 

Our guests stayed for a couple of hours enjoying the new digs. Me and my sister kept this a secret from virtually all of our family. It was on need to know basis only, so no one would spoil the surprise, so my extended family was also pretty excited for my parents and and surprised at the big reveal.

Dad & Savannah enjoying Breakfast
The next morning, we promptly broke the furniture in even further, by having breakfast on the Patio. We did the cooking & let my Mom take a break. My parents enjoyed this a lot.

My nieces & my Beau polish off some grits ! 

In fact, we stayed out there for most of the morning until it started getting too warm & we had to retreat into the AC ! My parents are really looking forward to the fall (cooler temperatures) and are already planning additional things they can add outside to make their space more enjoyable. They have been calling us both several times a week to let us know how much they are enjoying themselves and in fact my mom is planning a Labor Day Cookout ! LOL Mission accomplished.

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happy Anniversary

Greetings Blogland ! As I explained in my last post August was a whirlwind of a month for me which is why I have been MIA. I'm back from several road trips, well rested and ready to catch up on the blog. It will probably take me several posts, which is cool, so I can dust off the blog just in time for the fall.

First Up my Parents 30th Anniversary Party in Pictures..............

We picked a Creole inspired restaurant downtown in the warehouse district, sitting on the water way.  My parents had never been there, so that was a major plus for us.  It was a nice intimate gathering of about 45 people

The photo invitation was created by my sister. She is super talented I swear. My parents didn't actually see it until the party & they loved it. The restaurant created a special menu listing the entrĂ©e choices and it was personalized too but I didn't get a photo of it.

The centerpieces we created that day for the tables at the restaurant. We took them home & enjoyed them for the rest of the weekend !

My parents arriving at the Party !
My dad is actually wearing the EXACT same suit that he married my mother in 30 years ago.  We arrived two days before the party  & when discussing what he planned to wear, he told us that he could still fit it. We didn't believe it, so we may him try it on ! I promptly took it to the Dry Cleaners and my Beau and my BIL took my dad shopping for a new white shirt. My daddy was looking so fresh and so clean ! LOL

I created a memento by putting their photo on a mat. My nieces made sure that all the guests at the party signed it.  We presented the framed finished product  to my parents the day after the party.

Me my mom and my niece Savannah at the Dinner Party.

Me and my Dad posing for a picture.

Daddy's Little Girls all grown up.

What is an Anniversary Party without a slide show ? Mr. Mixologist was the technical support for the party presenting the slideshow flawlessly.

My parents truly enjoyed the food, the venue, the ambiance, the family, friends and fun.

My high school Band Director's Jazz Trio performed that evening and gave a shout out to my parents for their Anniversary between sets. We really enjoyed the entertainment & my parents now want to come back downtown for a date night ! LOL

Of course we had to have the photo cake with the Old School Wedding Photo along with a current day photo. My parents thought it was lovely.

We got our money's worth out of the centerpieces that we made with the fresh flowers by setting them up all over the house and using them to decorate the table with the wine & champagne glasses. That is what you call double duty ! LOL

My niece Savannah giving a Toast to her Grandparent's. She was hilarious.

My other niece Olivia, reading a poem that she wrote especially for her Grandparents on their special day. She was pretty funny too.

My parents actually met, through my Mom's cousin Danny who was in the military with my Dad.  My mom dropped my cousin off at the National Guard Armory one day, my dad saw her and was instantly smitten.  He insisted that Danny make the introduction and as they say.....the rest is history !

Dad thanking Danny for the introduction!
The Party was a complete success and worth all of the stress of the last few months.  My next blog will detail how we surprised our parents with their  actual Anniversary gift.  I will post that on Friday.

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex