Sunday, December 7, 2014

So Thankful................

Hey Blogland !

Hope you had a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving with your family and friends.  We traveled to visit my side of the family for our annual gathering.  It was good to see and spend time with family but it was also a very challenging week. We (me, my husband, my sister and brother-in-love) are dealing with managing my parents health issues and having to make lots of  major decisions regarding their care. It was quite and emotion filled holiday.

We kept up the tradition of our annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. It was quite chilly & I am quite out of shape, but I still pushed it out  & trudged my way through ! LOL

Here are some pics from that morning .....

Love these little ones !

Me & my nieces

My beautiful sister & her girls !

My handsome nephew

The First Family - we call them Barack & Michelle, LOL !

My love carrying the chairs for he & my Mama !

My husband had foot surgery 2 weeks before Thanksgiving so I am doing all of the driving for about 8 weeks. We have very different driving styles, so this is a challenge for the BOTH of us, LOL !  He came out  to cheer us on with my mom who is making huge strides in her stroke recovery. She did not want to miss watching her grandkids run this race, so we made it happen.

So happy my Mama made it out

The youngest two in the whole crew ran the fastest. Gabbie who is 6 ran the 1 Mile Fun Run with ease & KJ who will be 8 in a few days, smoked us ALL in the 5K ! LOL

The Champs !

This was hands down one of the worst 5K's I have EVER run.  I am ridiculously out of shape, I probably went to the track a total of 5 times in the last few months to get ready for this race, but as I have previously blogged about, I have been dealing with a lot of issues causing me stress & regretably have not used exercise to help me manage it as I should have. My nieces & nephews would not let me sit this one out & I did not want to break tradition, so I pushed it out on HEART & my body paid me back for the next 5 days or so LMAO !

Thankful to cross the finish line ! 

We had our dinner, everything was great.  I made a Caramel Cake, that really came out good. I found a solid recipe on Pinterest that used a Bundt Cake Pan & it was very good. I did not overdo it on the leftovers that day, as my memory of that horrible race earlier in the day was fresh on my mind. LOL

The kids provided some after dinner entertainment, performing a little Skit/Play that they put together that day. Let me tell you we have some animated, entertaining kids in our family ! When they know they will have a captive audience, they are bound and determined to provide some entertainment.

It would take me forever to explain........LOL

Alexandra giving Savannah some last minute direction. LOL

It is hilarious to watch these kids interact with each other, see how their personalities and the family dynamics play out. I can't wait to see their growth and development in the future.  We are blessed with some very bright, talented and confident children in our family & I pray for their continued blessings.

I am so THANKFUL for family, health, provision, friends, and His continued blessings over my life DESPITE some of the recent challenges.

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday

How was your holiday ?

Do you have any special holiday traditions ?

Did you make anything special

Beautifully Complex

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Annual " Great Fall Festival "

A few weeks ago my girlfriends and I hosted our annual " Great Fall Festival" once again. We hold this event every year in late October. It started several years ago as a simple day with me and a friend of mine spending a day with our other girlfriend's daughters baking & carving pumpkins. I blogged about it here and again here.

Over the years it has evolved and gotten bigger and bigger. Each year we have invited a few more children here and there and now we just turned it into a full fledged party ! You know how we do.

So now we have costumes, games, giveaways, food....the whole nine yards.

Here are some pics from this years event

I got some really good ideas for treats for the kids from Pinterest. They were simple & fun to make. We had a "Prep Party "AKA "Adult Baking party"  the night before to decorate & setup for the event which included lots of wine LOL

Treat Table

We kept the food menu very simple since it was just kids: Hot Dogs, Chili & Cheese for the Hot Dogs & to make Frito Pie, chips & drinks.  One of my girlfriends also made candied apples the night before.

Food Table

The big surprise this year was we hired a Clown. She came about an hour into the event & surprised the kids with some games, songs, dance contests, face painting, balloon animals, popcorn and snow cones. It was quite a hit.

Clowning with the kids


Dance Contest

Face Painting and Balloon Animals

Of course we had Pumpkin Carving this year too.....

Seriously focused on those pumpkins

Mommy can you help me ?

We also had a costume contest and lots of participation too. We had several winners: Ike & Tina Turner & Old Lady &  a Boxer. People were so creative this year !

Ike & Tina & their little ones !

Beautifully Complex as Bat Woman !

This Little Old Lady on a Walker..........

...actually looks like this in real life !

Our Little Boxer was one of the winners !

My girlfriends and I have grown this into an anuual event that we are really proud of and look forward to each year !  The guest list continues to expand. We love traditions, we love making memories and we love partying and having fun. We are blessed to be surrounded by so many beautiful children and it has been a pleasure to watch them grow and learn and develop.

The other 2  Hostesses with our Suprise Guest the Clown !

How do you celebrate the Fall Season or Halloween ?

Parties ? Family Gatherings ? 

Did you Host or attend and fun events this year ?

Did you see any creative costumes ?

Thoughts ? Comnments ? Questions ?

Beautifully Complex

Saturday, November 8, 2014

..........It's Our Anniversary !!!

We had a spectacular Anniversary Weekend in New Orleans in celebration of our 1st year of marriage !  We have decided to alternate the planning of our wedding anniversary celebrations each year. Since my birthday is on an even day, I will plan the even years and my husband's birthday is on an odd day, so he will plan the the odd years. So this meant that I was up first in 2014 !

We did agree together to rent a house as opposed to staying in a hotel. Since we all rented houses during the wedding planning trips and the wedding week we are pretty much sold on this idea whenever we travel. It is so comfortable, very private and often times much more affordable. We always check VRBO or AirBnB before we do anything. We were able to find a cute &  cozy three bedroom house for our extended weekend Thursday through Sunday and it was very affordable. That is my husbands thing, he is always looking for a deal. I got major points for the house I found for the price paid. Here is a pic of the living area.

Love the hardwood floors and lots of light!
Since this is a "friendly competition" between me and my love, I tried to bring my A game for sure ! LOL He is already looking forward to trying to "out-do" me next year ! He has also admitted that I  will be a tough act to follow. Now, I did put together an itinerary (cause sometimes I can be an over planner, LOL)  but I made it clear to him that I was totally flexible. I just wanted us to have some direction and at the same time there were so many things that I wanted us to do. So we did improvise here and there & go with the flow quite a bit too, but my love was happy that we had so many thought out options to explore.

One other thing is that my husband requested in advance that I minimize the social networking during this trip. So I was definitely " very present " with him and that wasn't hard for me at all. I love him. However, my husband knows that I am a Yelp Elite and he truly appreciates all of the perks, special events & invites that come with that, so he made an exception & said that he  was cool with me checking in on Yelp & taking photos of all the good food we shared, so I could write all my reviews after we got home, LOL.  I made one Facebook post and one Instagram post the entire 4 days & he approved of both, LOL.  If you want to read all my reviews from the trip my Yelp profile is right here. I use my middle name on the site.

I started off with a bang ! Our very first stop was The Ruby Slipper Cafe, where we had an awesome Breakfast at their location on Magazine Street.  It was a great spot and the "Double Mimosa" was on point. We checked out the newly renovated Riverwalk Outlet Collection and of course headed down to the newest location of the Cigar Factory which is further East on Decatur near the French Market area. My husband did NOT know about this new spot, so bonus points for me on this stop!! It's smaller than the other spot, but still nice folks & we enjoyed a Cigar & people watched for a bit. Then we grabbed some "Adult Beverages" and started exploring the French Quarter.  I hit up one of my favorite stores Fluerty Girl and found a nice Fluer de Lis Christmas Ornament.

While walking through the Quarter, we reminisced about the wedding and made our way over to The Montegut House, where our ceremony was held last year. We were not able to get into the courtyard or the actual house because it's a private venue, but we took some photos out front....

We visited the beautiful Art Gallery right next door called Hemmerling Gallery of Southern Art. This is such a sentimental place to us both. Though my husband grew up in Baltimore, his family derives from the deep South where he spent his summers. The work of this artist is very striking and we hope to be able to purchase a piece from here one day soon when our budget allows for it. We met the Curator last year when she allowed me to use the small Gallery as my hiding place where I waited until the ceremony started. She was excited to see us back  in New Orleans & I showed her some of the photos on my phone that our photographer took in the gallery and she was so excited and had me to email them to her. Here are a  couple of my favorites favorites ......

We continued drinking and shopping & kicking it in the Quarter all afternoon and then split up so that I could go get a nice foot massage at Touchpoint Foot Reflexology and my love could have another cigar at his favorite spot Crescent City Cigars. We then reconnected after that. Another highlight of the day while we explored the Quarter that afternoon was we ran right smack dab into a wedding "Second Line Parade"  just like we had last year !!! We were super excited & this just brought a flood of memories back to us both.  Now of course this Second Line was not as "turned up" as ours was.......but it was super fun just the same LOL  ! That was so exciting.

This was them.....

Calm, cool & collected.

And this was us last year........

My husband showing out for  his Mama ! LOL

Laughing our asses off !

We congratulated the new Bride & Groom &  made our way to the next spot for more cocktails and some food. One of my co-workers who loves NOLA too, recommended this place called 801 Royal which is literally a block from our ceremony venue and the drinks & food were really good. I had some seafood nachos that were on point ! Of course later we had some Beignets & Cafe Au Lait which you have to have when you come to New Orleans.

Later that evening we enjoyed the back patio at the house, some nice cocktails and music and just relaxing and having a great time laughing and reflecting enjoying some alone time. The house was so peaceful and comfortable. 

The next day we got up early and headed to Jackson Square to do some more exploring and shopping. We have decided that each year that we come to New Orleans to celebrate, we are going to purchase  piece of art to commemorate the trip and add to our collection. We headed over to where the local artists hang out because we had a budget and it was not that high. We found something nice. A piece for our kitchen that involves wine bottles and a Fluer de Lis. I forgot to take a picture and for now it is still wrapped up tight until we complete our kitchen renovation, but we picked it together & were very happy with it.

My Instagram pic near Jackson Square
Where the Artists hang out at 

My love for life !!!
Later that morning we had breakfast at Stanley and I had the best Oysters Benedict ever !!!! Man I almost licked the plate, LOL

That afternoon I had a little surprise for my love that was not on the itinerary. I had discovered this place near Audubon Zoo called  The Fly where you can sit on the Riverfront and watch the ships roll in and we headed out for a little romantic picnic for two. We had our snacks, adult beverages, a blanket, some chairs and music on my tablet. We found a nice shady spot under a tree and then spent quite a bit of time relaxing out there.  The weather was perfect in October with a nice breeze coming off the water, we laid down on the blanket and we both actually fell asleep LOL!
Ships coming through

When the evening came we went home (I mean to the rental home, LOL) to get ready for our official Anniversary Dinner. One of my girlfriends makes beautiful jewelry.  She is on Instagram  as ZEN GALLERY. I asked her a month prior to make me something special to wear for this special weekend using our wedding colors. This is what she came up with......

Hubby loved it !
My dress

My handsome husband

We had reservations at Brigtsen's. The service and food were top notch. This is a cute little house that has been converted. It was super cozy and romantic and we truly enjoyed ourselves. They acknowledged our Anniversary and made us feel special.  They put some confetti on the table (so cute)  and were very attentive to us. You can read all about our dining experience on Yelp,  but I must say that we got off to a good start with an Appetizer called Veal Sweetbreads with Potato Leek Cake,  Crimini Mushrooms, Capers and Lemon Roasted Garlic Butter......YUM !

Capital YUMMY !
We exchanged gifts that night also. I got a beautiful diamond cuff bracelet and matching earrings. I got my love several various items of Cigar Paraphrenalia and a big hardcover book on Scotch,  which he is really getting into these days. We both loved our gifts !  When telling my sister that night about our gifts, she said to me and him on speaker phone " Diamonds ? I think my brother is taking this Anniversary way more seriously than you " ! LOL We both laughed. My husband was really excited about me liking my gift and I was really touched by his present to me. We did not discuss a budget or anything beforehand , but I really was pleasantly surprised. He assures me that he was totally happy with his gifts too.  After dinner we headed out to one of our favorite areas in NOLA, Frenchmen where had a good time listening to great music, dancing, drinking & people watching before making it an early night to get back to the house to err.....uhhmm......celebrate some more LMAO !!!

On our last day in NOLA, we slept in and then headed back to the French Quarter for Brunch at this place I have had bookmarked for a while. Unfortunately I neglected to make a reservation so we had a bit of a wait at Cafe Amelie. To kill some time we headed over to the French Market, did some more shopping on Decatur and Royal Streets and picked up some Pralines to bring back home with us. Then we began to get calls from our parents, siblings and friends, wishing us a Happy Anniversary and had a leisurely time enjoying the perfect weather and just the city we both love so much ! By the time we got finished they sent us a text that our table was ready. I had some Shrimp and Grits that were out of this world ! That have such a beautiful courtyard, that I just had to dine in. It was worth it to me to wait.  It looks very similar to the courtyard we were married in and is actually just a couple of blocks away from our venue.

Shrimp n Corn Grits w Andouille

Pecan Praline French Toast

My husband HATES to wait to eat but he was in good spirits & he totally loved the grits ! He is a grits expert being as he spent his summers in the Low Country and can make the most creamiest, tastiest grits ever. He said the food was worth the wait, LOL. That Sunday was our actual Anniversary date and he was so patient and accomodating with me. I so treasure this man. He does his best to make me happy. We had a great last day to cap off a wonderful weekend in NOLA.

Lovely French Quarter Architecure and Balconies....

I know I mentioned in my last blog post that there was a question in the air concerning my job. Well literally 4 days before we left on our trip, I got word from my Manager that I was being offered a proximity position here in Houston !!!!! What that means is that early in 2015 I will be transitioning to working from home and I will not be forced to relocate from this area and will keep my current role. Praise God , Hallellujah !  I have been low key and sitting on this information for these few weeks because a few of my friends and colleagues have not been so fortunate and this is a bittersweet victory for me. Needless to say, we had that much more to celebrate and be grateful for on this trip, so it was very special.

It was a wonderful time in celebration of the happiest day of my life !  I still feel so blessed, so fortunate and just grateful for the path the Lord has put before me.

This is the song we danced to at our reception.........
My love singing to me...........

A Couple of Forevers.............

So what do you think, does my husband need to "bring it" next year or what ? 
He is already talking ish  about how he is going to, LOL

How do you celebrate your Anniversary ?

Any big plans for the next one ?

Thoughts?   Comments ?  Questions ?

Beautifully Complex