Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Great Pumpkin

This past weekend, I spent some quality time with my best girlfriend's two daughters. On Friday night the girls came over while their Mom went out. We ordered Pizza & played Monopoly which I haven't played in forever. Why oh why did Mr. Mixologist beat us mercilessly ? LOL I mean it was really bad. He had property on every side of the board with Hotels on half of them. It was a whipping to remember. He talked a lot of noise while he had us all on skid row which made it worse. I was the first one to go bankrupt. The girls got a lesson on how to lose gracefully, even when its hard. LOL  He has promised to give us another opportunity to redeem ourselves.

Sunday afternoon, I went over to the their house along with another girlfriend to have our annual  Halloween Craft and Baking Day. My best friend is sooo not into crafts OR cooking so she recruited us years ago to fill in with these types of activities with the girls. Our other girlfriend always handles the pumpkin carving & I handle the pumpkin inspired baking.

Concentrating to get it just right ! 

This year I decided to let the 9 yr old make some Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Frosting. I found the recipe on one of my favorite sites, A Taste of Home Cooking. I also located a recipe & video for a Pumpkin Cheesecake for the 13 yr old to make.

Finished Project 

I packed up the equipment from my kitchen, grabbed my laptop & hit the store & headed on over. When I arrived they were already focused on getting their pumpkins just right.

Mixing it up !

The 9 yr old got started on her cookies which were very simple & extremely tasty. The brown butter frosting was sooooo good that we were all  licking our fingers ! If you decide to  make them I promise you won't be disappointed.

Ta Da ! Ready for the Frosting

Both girls enjoy cooking and baking and I always have a good time planning cooking with them & they always appreciate it and have fun doing things in the kitchen.

Getting it just right

The 13 yr old is a pretty good baker so I picked a cheesecake since it was a bit more challenging. She made her own crust from scratch using graham crackers & ginger snaps. I just delegated, reviewed the recipe with her & pretty much just supervised.

Final touch before bedtime

Cheesecakes take a long time to bake & many hours to set, usually overnight, so I didn't get to see the finished product on Monday morning, but I heard today that it was yummy.

Pumpkin Carvers Extraordinaries ! 

Beauty & Baking Skills

The Girls & their Mom

Have you had any Fall Holiday Fun ?

Got any good recipes to share ?  If so drop the links in the comments.

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Musical Monday - Twist of Marley

Mr. Mixologist is a jazz fanatic & turned me on to this little gem & I have been jamming to it for the last month. If you like Bob Marley  AND  Jazz , then you will really enjoy this. It is like a Reggae Jazz Fusion Project.  You can get it from Amazon right here.

It features a lot of talented artists, Will Downing, Jonathan Butler, Gerald Albright, Phil Perry, Maxi Priest, to name a few.

I'm gonna drop some links I found on You Tube for some of my favorite tracks.

Will Downing makes anything sound great !

You can't miss with Gerald Albright .

" Stir It Up.......Little Darlin' Stir It up".... Phil Perry is hitting them notes !

Of course, " I Shot the Sheriff " w/Maxi Priest

"Get Up, Stand Up ......Stand Up for your Rights ......Get Up, Stand Up.....Don't  Give Up the Fight !"

This is a really nice CD to drop in for a low key gathering with friends. It's a great conversation starter. I love almost every single cut ! With 13 tracks it was hard for me to narrow down the links for the blog. You can pretty much find most of the other tracks from the CD on You Tube. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

I think good music makes the world go around !

What artists or music are you currently listening to ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Funny Friday Vol. 1

You may have seen this video already. Things tend to go viral pretty quickly in the FB, Twitter, social networking world. Either way I thought I would share this video here on the blog. It truly brought a smile to my face & tears to my eyes. They might be a little "cheesy" at times, but I still I love precocious little children.

I could totally see my oldest niece Savannah reacting this.exact.same.way. LOL

Enjoy !


She kills me when she stops to deadpan ----"It's my birthday today ?"

I am working from home today & my weekend is going to be low key so I am coasting right on in. I want to try to get outside somewhere & enjoy these fall like temperatures while they last.

Have a wonderful weekend  !

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Monday, October 10, 2011

Trials & Tribulations

In the span of 10 days I have had two friends drop the bomb on me that they are more than likely getting divorced. Honestly, this is something that will always bother me. I am one of those people that despite the divorce stats, and all that we see around us, wants the people around me to make their marriages work. I shed tears after both of these discussions and then I prayed.

You don't get to pick your cross. I am divorced. I am infertile. Neither was by my choice. These are two of the most challenging, life altering things that I have ever had to go through and today I am happy and fulfilled. But the important thing is that I made it through. I believe that I handled the infertility (which came first) pretty well for the most part. Last week on one of my favorite blogs, Monica said to someone, " I told her that with time, she would make it to the other side of what she was dealing with, but that it would never go away...it will just hurt less over time, and in that way, time was the healer, and she needed to allow time the process."  This statement totally resonated with me. It is honest and it is real.  On a rare occasion, I still feel a flutter in my womb when I am in a store and hear a little baby cry. From time to time when I have to check that box that says DIVORCED on a form, I wince at the failure of it all & that is just being totally honest.

Back to the other story. When I was going through my divorce, my Pastor connected me with a woman who ultimately became a wonderful friend and prayer partner. She helped me beyond what I can express here because she had already been through what I was in the midst of at the time and that is why he connected us. She ultimately with God's help, was able to save her marriage. I can specifically remember her telling me one day, " One day in the future, you are going to get on your knees & thank God for this situation because he is preparing you to be a blessing to someone else".  At the time, I was so hurt and angry at her for making that statement.  I could not imagine thanking Him for the  gut-wrenching pain I was feeling. All I wanted was for God to give me what I wanted, which was to repair my marriage & I would thank him for that ! LOL It took me a long time to see and understand just how right she was.

If there is one thing that I have learned its that you must learn to find peace where ever you are.  After speaking with one of my friends last week, I posted this on my FB status:

PEACE: It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be CALM IN YOUR HEART.

In the same moment that your life can be falling apart, someone else is being brought out of a dark place in their life. This is the cycle of life. So much of it is not in our hands, but in His. Change is inevitable and that is the blessing. This is something that I had to learn. As far as coping, I can't really say that I handled my divorce well.at.all. LOL ! In fact, it pretty much "handled me". I feel like I went through it very "ugly". Sometimes my pride hates that fact. But it is my story, my trial, my testimony and it was a great teacher.

People tend to seek out those who they feel can really understand, who may have some experience, those they can be honest and transparent with. Those who they can trust. One of my friends who is divorcing, knew my situation intimately. This friend was there for me in ways I could never count. I most likely didn't get fired when I wasn't functioning because of the support of this friend. I bared my soul down to the bones and this friend knew the depths of my hurt, my desperation to save my marriage, my lack of shame to be honest with all that I was dealing with. This friend saw me vulnerable in a way not many have. Now it seems, its time for me to return the favor.

It's easy to focus on the problems in a marriage. I cannot repair a marriage. Only God can change the hearts of men. But if you have decided this is what you want to do AND you ask me what I think about it all, I will be honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly. When the dust settled on both my infertility and divorce the lessons learned served me well:

Sometimes rejection is just redirection.

Taking you places that you know you would have never gotten to following your own path. There is more than one road to happiness and having the desires of your heart.

Sometimes hurting can be humbling.

Giving you a deeper compassion and understanding to help those that will come after you. Understanding that any one of us can be dealt a heavy blow.
Asking,"Why me ?" becomes "Why NOT me ?"

Sometimes fear builds fortitude.

Facing what seems unbearable can build you up to be able to handle many more unforeseen challenges that life can bring to your door.

When talking to both of my friends, I do not sugarcoat the " single life." Yes it can be a welcome reprieve from a bad marriage, but it is no cake walk. I enjoyed many aspects of it. I traveled a lot, plenty of socializing, carefree living, with minimal responsibilities. Dating was fun and interesting for a while, but it was also disappointing, and a constant reminder of my divorce. I was manipulated and lied to by the game players attempting to bank on my vulnerability. I am very comfortable being alone for long periods of time. I don't have any family members close & enjoy many solo activities that require little interaction from others, but that doesn't minimize the natural desire for companionship & all the benefits that come with a healthy partnership. There is nothing wrong with desiring a healthy marriage and many divorced people are surprised at how many "intangibles" of married life they miss.

I also do not sugarcoat divorce and the divorce process either. Fighting over "stuff" which is just another way to fight with the person causing you pain. Divorces can be amicable but that is only when BOTH parties have accepted the loss of the marriage and that is rarely the case. I jokingly say, "it's the gift that keeps on giving" because one of the things that cut me deep was the slow erosion and loss of things that came with being married that I lost AFTER the divorce was final. Things like, my married friends pulling away, changing relationships with my ex-husbands family that I had known since I was 20 yrs old. The challenge to your self esteem, feeling like a failure, losing everything, your financial peace, moving to an apartment when you've been a homeowner for years. We all make choices & sometimes they seem easy to make, but it's the consequences of those choices that will challenge you.

I want both of my friends to find peace with their decisions. Their marriages. Their choices. I can tell you what the Bible says. I am glad that they value my opinion enough for me to be among the first that they chose to confide in, cry with, and share their pain with. I feel blessed that they trust me. Both friends expressed that watching my grace in the midst of my trial is what made them know they could come to me with such a situation. I guess it wasn't so ugly after all. You never know who is watching you or how God is using you. Both conversations were very emotional and afterwards when I got on my knees to pray for the both of them, I knew that my friend Vena, that I met through my Pastor years ago was right, "One day, in the future, you are going to get on your knees & thank God for this situation because he is preparing you to be a blessing to someone else." 

Thank your Lord for allowing me to go through something, to get me where you needed me to be, so that I can stand in the gap and be a witness to others of your power, your mercy and your grace. Amen.

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Friday, October 7, 2011

Just Me........Randomly

Last night me and my Beau went to hear my former Pastor preach. We were invited to a church he was visiting for a special occasion by one of my girlfriends. Under his teaching, I grew so much spiritually & I was really good to see him & for Mr. Mixologist to get to finally meet him.

If you following me on FB or Twitter, then you know my cousin won the "Showhouse Showdown" competition on HGTV a couple of weeks ago ! We are so proud of her. I didn't get to travel home for the premiere party that my family had with a limo, red carpet, and fun times. The downside of moving away.

After looking at my vacation pics, it has become obvious that both me and the Beau have been doing way too much lounging and eating all sorts of wrong ! LOL I am not surprised, the pics confirmed what the scale already knew. I need to get focused immediately.

It seems like it's been pretty quiet in blogland lately huh ?  I think its all the competition from Twitter, FB, Pinterest, Tumblr, and any other social networking site. I can't keep up with it all & my life too. I still like blogs the best, but everything must change I guess. 

I had a short but stressful week at work. I am so glad to be off today, my mental health needs it. I hate feeling trapped by this economy. This "corporate limbo" is getting the best of me.I know must be grateful because many others have it really bad in this economy, but honestly I am just feeling really challenged at the moment. 

Part of me really wants to go to this Jazz Festival tomorrow, but another part of me just wants to lay around this weekend and not have to do anything. I guess I will make a call on that later.  

I love the Fall season & will be glad when we get some fall like temperatures in Houston. So far, that has not been the case. I am sick of this long, extended, excruciating summer !

My nieces and nephew are all playing soccer and loving it. I wish I was closer to get to see some games in person, but the videos my sister and BIL keep sending me are good enough & listening to their excited voices on the phone, replaying what they did on the field just makes my heart smile.

What's going on random with you ?

Thoughts ? Comments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex