Be Blessed. Be Well. Be Balanced!
“I am not defined by what you do to me or for me…I am phenomenal because I am!” ~Angel
Valentine’s Day historically has been a day that couples use to express their affection for one another. But where does that leave the happily content singles, the hopeless romantics patiently awaiting the arrival of Mr. or Mrs. Right or the puppy love hungry teens who have been subliminally taught that if no one is woo’ing you, you should stay home and boo hoo hoo (as movies may suggest)? I was once the teen in class wishing for a “candygram” and the young lady in a relationship believing that gifts were a symbol of affection and my worth. Honestly, even being on the receiving end of the candy and flowers, they didn’t make me feel any better about myself and not receiving didn’t make me feel bad. My perception of what should be and lack of self value is what dampened my mood. This may sound so simple that you’re going to feel silly that you didn’t think of this yourself- love all up on YOU! Yes YOU- fresh out of a relationship, YOU in a long term relationship but your honey ain’t got no money, YOU who when flowers are sent to the j-o-b for your coworker, you may feel the sting of woe-is-me! Like, why would you give so much power to one day or what a person does, doesn’t do or say, duh!? Try theses tips and take control of your emotions!
Start now with daily affirmations: “I am not defined by dating” “I am powerful and loving and I have nothing to fear” “I love me and I am love”– speak these aloud while smiling (yes, smiling releases powerful endorphins that improve your mood).
•Treat yourself to lunch
•Eat off the good dishes
•Dress up and slay your face
•Light a candle and soak in a fragrant bubble filled tub
•Compliment someone (making someone else feel good will make you feel good too)
•Host a “Happy Singles” cocktail hour
•Swap small gifts or candy pollyanna style : Valynna (include the nice quiet guy in the office- who knows- you may match a couple!)
All of these tricks work, after all no one can treat YOU better than YOU. Don’t quit those affirmations on the 15th, continue them everyday, add some more and when a moment comes that may test your sense of self love you will be well armored! Be balanced and be well! C’est la vie!
“When I cook, I add a little bit of soul and a lot of love…so serving a meal is me sharing a piece of my heart”~ Angel
Although the warmer months are my absolute favorite, just for the fact that it’s WARM, there are some things I find comfort in during the late fall and winter. I love my chenille blanket and socks, fleece onesie and the smell of something sweet baking! The intense aroma of cinnamon is my ultimate favorite and for more reasons than the obvious: the tantalizing scent is an aphrodisiac, cinnamon has natural calming properties and gives the home a warm welcoming energy. So what better way to take advantage of all of the greatness of this sexy and sultry spice than in a sweet potato pie?
I’ve loved sweet potato pie since I was a child and watched my great grandmother bake them from scratch. She’d give my sister and I scraps from her pie crust dough and a little filling to make our own personal pies (not too edible after we mushed, smashed and played with the dough until it was gray). My great grandmother Julia’s pies would easily put Patty’s pies to shame (no shade). Unfortunately, Julia passed before I could value her recipe enough to ask for it. As an adult I tinkered with recipes until I mastered one through trial and error that to the best of my memory, is just like hers! I’m going to share Julia’s sweet potato pie recipe with you! I’ve never been a fan of flour pie crust, so I use pre made graham cracker crust from the store (the only shortcut I take). This recipe is so easy you won’t believe how absolutely great it tastes!
Sweet Potato Pie
6 large sweet potatoes boiled and peeled
1 stick of sweet unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup of light cream (eggnog is a nice substitute!)
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2 graham cracker pie crusts (or your preference)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Mash sweet potatoes, cream, butter and eggs until well blended. Add dry and wet spices and sugar then mix with electric mixer on high until well blended. Divide evenly between pie crusts and bake in center of rack for 45 minutes. Allow to cool and serve a “slice of love” with ice cream, whipped cream and coffee!
I hope you all enjoy as much as my family and friends! Sharing is caring so if you like, please let me and your friends, family and coworkers know!
Be a blessing , Be well, Be balanced!
*In loving memory of my maternal great grandmother Julia Postelles*
There’s something about loading up the SVU and hitting the road. We enjoy the scenery, singing along to our road trip tunes and snackin’ during the drive. This summer, my 3 piece familia took 3 road trips. One to the Poconos along with my sister and her family, second was Buffalo, NY and lastly we visited one of our all time favorites, OCMD (featured in part 2).
Let me share with you how I can afford to take these trips at low cost. I take advantage of the little to no cost vacation deals through timeshare companies who hope to get a sale out of me, I network and barter for discounts and I shop according to rates based on travel dates. These accommodation bargains, along with low gas prices make road trips highly affordable.
In this article I’m sharing our trip to Buffalo, New York. Now you may ask, “Why would someone from the big city of Philadelphia want to travel to Buffalo?”. Here’s how I determined this destination.
•1. Niagara Falls- a sweet 20 minute drive away from Buffalo
•2. Hotel rates are more than half of the rates in Niagara (using a family and friends rate also sweetened the deal)
•3. The United States dollar goes farther here than in Canada
•4. DUH….the wings!
With these things taken into consideration, I planned our trip. Upon check-in, after a beautiful scenic drive through the mountains and green rolling hills, we were pleased to be welcomed by a 2 hour reception at the hotel which included complimentary snacks- fresh veggies, humus, chips and salsa, along with cocktails and nonalcoholic beverages! That held us over until dinner. There was a slew of local menus in the lobby, but what caught my eye was “The Chocolate Bar”, a restaurant that serves your basic menu items: chicken, pasta, steak, etc., but also a full chocolate lovers themed cocktails and dessert menu!!! My only indulgence was a “hot white chocolate”, topped with whipped cream and a white chocolate stick. I needed to sober up from “free happy hour” with a hot beverage. Please note, that this swanky bi-level bistro, offers a complimentary manicure with a purchased cocktail on Mondays 7-10:00 pm.
I was shocked to see all there is to do in Buffalo, what grabbed my attention was the plethora of food crawls: wing crawl, hot dog crawl, ice cream crawl, snack crawl and even a beer crawl! Oh yeah! We are a foodie family but with small bellies, keeping that in mind and doing further research, I mapped out our own Family Foodie Tour of Buffalo!!! Here’s how, I went by our own pallets, researched best rated fooderies and planned a portion of our day to eat through Buffalo! This was very inexpensive because we don’t eat much- all we needed was to share one order of the delicacies of the top spots. We hit up a hot dog shop called Ted’s,nestled in the heart of downtown Buffalo with a cute atmosphere offering indoor and outdoor seating. A pizzeria that may be considered a ‘hood treasure, known for their buffalo wings- La Nova, very hip, playing hits from the 80’s and decorated with all types of awards and photos of celebrities dining there; and guess what- they will Fed Ex overnight orders to your door! Mississippi Mudd’s, a little waterfront snack shack that looks like something from the 1960’s situated across from the Niagara River, in a small town called Tonawanda, known for their sweet potato “Louisiana Fries” drizzled with warm honey and a scoop of butter. Yum! Each stop was within 15-20 minutes drive of each other. Check out the video of our tour that my daughter put together on YouTube!
We not only enjoyed the food in Buffalo, but was amazed by the scenery- The Sky in particular! The sky was such a bright and brilliant blue during the day, clouds huge, white and fluffy- they seemed to be close enough to just grab, I felt as though this is how heaven must look! As the sun set, those gigantic clouds mixed with majestic hues of deep gold, blues, pinks and purples couldn’t be painted any more spectacular than I can describe. I did some research after returning home because I was so enamoured by the world above, and found out that Buffalo is 600+ feet above sea level. This totally explained why I felt among the clouds; truly heaven here on earth. Being an Aquarius, I have an intrinsic connection with water. I expected to see water when we visited the falls, but I had no idea that Buffalo was a waterfront city, Lake Erie running along one side and the Niagara River on the other- crystal blue! We also fell in love with the small town feel- yet city vibe. Downtown Buffalo is a far cry from downtown Philly, the streets aren’t crammed with busy business folk and tourists; yet there are plenty of restaurants, taverns and polite passersby.
Twenty minutes across the bridge, over a sparkling sapphire river, the Niagara River to be exact, we found Niagara Falls, NY. We’ve never been before and wanted the full experience, so we visited at night to see the falls illuminated with bold colors of magenta, emerald, cobalt and violet- similar to the horizon during our commute there from Buffalo. Niagara State park at 11:00 pm, was full of sightseers just as eager as we were to get a glimpse of one of the world’s wonders. People congregated on the observation deck, along the railed edges and atop the park benches snapping pictures and video recording their encounters of nature’s magic, as did we. The next day we returned, and this time to board the Maid of the Mist boat tour for an up close and personal view of the falls. My children and I joined the dozens of tourists draped in tacky, yet essential, blue ponchos on a ferry type boat all to get a feel of the falls. The energy was contagious, from the people to the roaring waters and the whipping wind, pure adrenaline! Such a beauty to marvel- all faces were bright with smiles and glistening with tiny droplets of the Niagara Falls rocking back and forth, and floating up and down on the waves. We concluded our day in the park’s souvenir shop where they offer free local N.Y. vineyard wine tasting and lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.
I felt like one of the kids, full of amazement and excitement during the entire trip. Buffalo/Niagara gets 6 thumbs up from the Morgan-Pierre clan! For further “deets” about our trip, comment below or shoot me an email. I’d love to hear from you, also please subscribe to my blog and share with your friends, family and coworkers! Be Well… Be Blessed…C’est La Vie (this is life)! Live it!
“Traveling. It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” ~IBN BATTUTA
Travel is a great experience; a new place to discover sights, meet people, be introduced to different cuisines and get acquainted with your inner self. There are a multitude of reasons to travel: rest and relaxation, education, adventure, to become one with nature, sightseeing, partying, as well as food and wine tasting tours are some to name a few. Although I recommend solo travel at least once in your life, it is great to travel with a buddy or a group with whom you have common interests in order to gain a positive outcome from your getaway. I’m going to share ideas on destination and travel buddy selection so that your dream vacation doesn’t end up a nightmare! Here are some things to take into consideration when choosing your destination so that your travel story is a happy tale:
- Location and weather: if you are a beach person, choose a coastal destination or somewhere close to the coast or lake so you can easily drive to a beach; check the weather for the time of year you choose to travel [some countries’ seasons are opposite of the USA such as winter (cooler weather) during our summer months, others are warm year round but have rainy seasons]
- What do you plan to get out of your trip?: if you love a party scene at night or during the day, you wouldn’t choose a secluded/rural destination such as a wine tour or countryside bed and breakfast
- Accommodations: hotel with maid service, all inclusive resort, a weekly/monthly rental (in most cases you do the cooking and cleaning unless you hire a butler and cook), also consider is this a family friendly or for adults only trip?
- Will you fly, road trip, cruise or take the scenic route with a train ride?– It may seem a silly question, but here’s an example: if you’re driving, you need a drive share plan, split the time behind the wheel, decide if you’re renting a car/van, etc.
Another task of equal importance is selecting your travel companion. Oh you may be work wives at the office, fellow mallrats, text buddies, phone chatters, you may even be perfect pub pals…BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE MEANT TO TRAVEL TOGETHER!! I personally have foodie friends- we dine together, night clubbing chicas- we get dolled up and go dancing, family fun outing acquaintances- who have children the same ages as mine or love to spend time with my children, fellow beach bunny divas- no problem wearing a swimsuit and laying on the beach for hours sometimes, theater and concert companions- we share a passion for the arts and international gal pals who are always ready to get that passport stamped! They may fall under one umbrella or multiple, but I know who to invite where according to our common interests. Have a conversation with your prospective travel partner(s) and ask everyone to list what they expect to gain or lose (such as their minds, back at home identity or clothes on a nude beach) from the vacation, for example: touring, nonstop partying, drunken fun, hedonistic behavior (I’m just saying), fine dining, casual laid back lazy days, power packed adventures, shopping, shows/concerts, spa, beach bumming it or dressing to kill at every meal. Trust me, these things matter! Your co traveling queen may have a completely different view of what their vacation looks like from your ideal trip. I will even go so far as to suggest you loosely compare wardrobe ideas: there could be jealousy/ insecure issues if all she packs are flip flops and maxi dresses and you have stilettos, hot pants and mini skirts. I’ve seen trips ripped at the seams due to lack of communication; I’ve also experienced great memorable trips by doing these things I’ve suggested (even if I did it unknowingly). Once everything is laid on the table, bring up spending budget including checked bag fees, tipping porters and drivers and estimated dining and activities ain’t nothing worse than having a few dollars come between you and ya girl. Going your separate ways during the vacation is an option which leads to the last tidbit of information, knowing if you have a clingy companion, this is tricky but you can subtly ask if they are okay if you wander off for some alone time or in the event that you make a connection with a hot hunk, will she be offended that you left her alone? Also know this of yourself- do you need to be joined at the hip with your homegirl? Must you share every meal and activity? I find it imperative to spend at least a couple hours of my trip in solitude: a sunrise, a sunset, a stroll, reading, journaling or a nap under a tree, to get recharged and reacquainted with myself; some may feel that you’re intentionally shutting them out if you don’t explain this beforehand. Communication is key! By having a talk and getting an idea of what is expected of the trip before it is booked and again as the dates approach, there will be little room for any travel faux pas once you arrive to your destination and lots of harmonious memories to be made! Be well. Be balanced. Be blessed. C’est la Vie: This is Life!
“When we clear the physical clutter from our lives, we literally make way for inspiration and ‘good orderly direction’ to enter” ~ Julia Cameron
I have hoarding tendencies. I like to see a little clutter of jewelry, coins and receipts on my dresser; no sooner than i put my shoes in their prospective places, they’re congregated back at the base of my bed; yes I have a hamper in the hall closet BUT somehow my worn clothes gather into a small pile in front of my closet. I find comfort in a little mess, but also great distress when the mess gets out of hand?! What gives? It is likely some sort of freaky control issue. When I begin to feel anxy, unfocused and easily annoyed, I take a glance at my room and know what needs to be done! De-clutter! Take back my sanctuary! This time I decided to go a little further and to purge my closet, I keep it organized, but I have entirely too many clothes, shoes and bags. During my journey of manifesting clarity and making room to receive what I want, I’ve learned that Purging is Pertinent! As I grabbed trash bags I asked myself these questions: “Can I get this from somewhere else (streaming/download)? Does it work? How long has it been since I’ve used or worn it?”, and I began to remove cd’s, dvd’s, clothes EXCEPT for a few special occasion/cocktail dresses and “night out” pieces , shoes that I haven’t worn for 2 seasons, tossed the old panties and bras (those that stay in the back of the drawer), perfume, lotions and papers. Oh it felt so liberating! I could feel the positive vibrations charging through my room and adrenaline pumping through my veins! I gave away 4 bags of clothes and 2 bags of shoes! Usually it is suggested to toss an item whenever you buy a new item so you won’t have an overabundance but I even did one better: I Vowed Not To Buy Any Clothes for One Year!!! I’m going to shop in my own closet! I am set on allowing positive energy to flow freely and continuously through my sanctuary (hey that’s a great affirmation; jot it down and repeat it!), get rid of what I have no use for in order to receive what I want (another affirmation), as well as donating great clothes to someone who can use them! My personal challenge began in June and it will be interesting to see what different couture combos I come up with to reinvent my clothes and what new doors are opened after reducing and removing. I feel better already! Be well. Be blessed. Be balanced. C’est la Vie: This Is Life!
“Always arrive to a party with a gift- whether for the host/hostess or guest of honor. It’s an expression of gratitude for them extending an invitation and work that was put into the event”~ Angel
Whenever Walmart puts their seasonal cake mixes on clearance, I grab a few and stash them in my pantry. They always come in handy for a bake sale the children may have, or in this case, a hostess gift.
I’m pretty big on etiquette and therefore I never arrive to an event empty handed. I was invited to two parties over the weekend; I was pretty drained from work, and although I responded that I would attend, I was reconsidering. Not showing up is rude so I pushed myself to go and realized I didn’t have time to pick up a dessert for the hostess (I usually bring a dessert or bottle if nothing was requested). I opened my pantry to boxes of instant pudding, Jell-O (great for Jell-O shots), brownie, cake and cookie mixes- VOILA! Although they are boxed items, I add my personal touch which makes it semi homemade! Below is my pull it out the pantry concoction:
TRIPLE LAYER CINNA•CHOCO•CAFE CAKE
1 box Pillsbury Cinnamon Bun cake mix (baked as directed in 2- 9” round pans)
1 box Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie mix (baked as directed in 1- 9” round pan)
Café Cream Cheese Frosting
4 cups confectioners sugar
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 stick of sweet unsalted butter (softened)
2- 8 oz packs of cream cheese (softened)
¼ cup instant coffee
chocolate sprinkles (optional for garnish)
While cakes and brownie are cooling, prepare the frosting:
•In a bowl use electric mixer on medium to blend powdered sugar, vanilla, cream cheese and butter for 3 minutes.
•Add instant coffee and mix 1 minute.
•Trim the round humps off the tops of the cakes (discard or save for the kids to snack on along with the leftover frosting)
•Cover cake plate with wax paper (cut in two, laid side by side on plate)
•Starting with cinnamon cake, place trimmed side up and generously cover the top with about ½ cup of frosting.
•Second, add brownie and do the same, the third layer (cinnamon cake) is placed trimmed side down so the super flat bottom is now the flat top of the cake.
•Slather frosting on the top and sides being sure to fill all gaps on the sides between the layers.
•Top with chocolate sprinkles.
•Lastly, remove the wax paper one sheet at a time leaving a clean plate!
This cake is beautiful and delicious! The cinnamon, dark chocolate and coffee flavored icing all compliment each other as well as the different textures of soft fluffy cake, firm rich brownie and creamy frosting. I suggest slicing the cake for the guests since it’s 3 layers, the slices don’t have to be too thick. Serves 10-12. If you try the recipe and like it please share in the comments and on social media! Bon Appetit! Be well…Be blessed….Be balanced! C’est la vie!
Some men seem to be born as great fathers, they are natural role models and exude strength and gain adoration from not only their children, but from the children of their village. They too, were likely shaped and molded by a man, who took time to give helpful and uplifting advice from properly washing their body, explaining what the little flap in the front of the underpants is for, that it’s courteous to hold the door for people passing through behind you, to compliment someone when you are pleased with something they did or how they look, obey your mama, protect your sister and to honor and respect nature. In this day and age, fathers are consumed with work, little to no previous positive influence by male role models and have lost the knowledge of how important being a DAD and not just a FATHER means to their children.
Of course we’ve heard the saying “any man can be a father but it takes a real man to be a dad”, and if you haven’t heard this, allow me to translate: biologically a man can reproduce and that may be the beginning and ending of fatherhood. A dad is working as provider for ALL needs of their child: essentials such as shelter, food, affection and so forth. Parenting doesn’t come with an instruction book BUT the instructions are there when you, as a man, are yoked to the woman you created life with, spiritually grounded within yourselves and pay attention to life’s lessons as you’ve grown into adulthood- it’s all there! What to do, what not to do, and there are books to help with creative ideas to add fun and excitement along the way!
Being a hard worker and financial provider, indeed, is important; just as spending quality time (read: Scheduling QT With the Family ) helps grow very necessary bonds with your family (read: Building Substantial Relationships) Trust me, it doesn’t take a lot of money and gadgets to make a child feel loved, secure and to want to be like you- time, attention and affection will do: checkers, cards, a walk and conversation about the child’s interests, fears and dreams will be fine- plus those activities spark thought and plant seeds of critical thinking and goal planning without them even knowing!
Yes, some men seem born to be great dads but it’s only because from young they’ve been molded, even if they didn’t know, by being influenced and taking mental notes along the way of what to do and what not to do as a humanitarian, a husband, a man, a father or a role model. When you know that you deserve to be treated a certain way as a person, it’s not hard to know that’s how others should be treated as well- even if they don’t know it for themselves.
It’s not too late to be a Great Dad, the work begins within yourself and the results will benefit you, your family and community greatly! Be Blessed, Be Well, Be Balanced…C’est la Vie (this is life)!
“He [my son] is the reason I go hard…as long as he’s happy, I’m good, and everything else is a bonus.” ~ James Pierre
Father’s Day is quickly approaching, and although one of the most important pillars of the family (DADS) seem to get stuck with the short end of the stick when it comes to receiving their recognition and praise for their hard work and dedication in comparison to their parenting counterparts (MOM), I’d like to challenge you to reach out and break the cycle! What better way than to say it than with a meaningful gift? Here are easy, economical and heart warming ideas that I’ve come up with and am willing to share so that you can put a smile on that father’s face this holiday and any day for that matter, life is too short to wait just for the second Sunday in June. These are great gives for dad, granddad, uncle, brother, son (who’s a father), village dad, etc.
- 52 Simple and Fun Activities for Dads and Kids by Brent Johnstone, a new and cool book that allows the kids and dad to journal their activities.
- a personalized Father and Child photo gift: wood panel, canvas, mug or apron. Walgreens photo allows you to upload and order right from your phone! They always have online coupons and most orders are available for store pick up within 24 hours or less!
- Buy color or theme coordinated shirts/tees for Daddy and his sidekicks and go out for a photo-shoot! The mere attention and compliments from passersby is sure to boost his ego! Make a mini brag book that he can look at for years to come. 2 gifts in 1!
- a Treasure Hunt around the house or at the local park! Take the kids shopping for some of dad’s faves (socks, remote batteries, candy, gift cards (restaurant, movie, sporting good store, etc.) and comprise a list of clues of what to find to have him going until he collects all of his gifts! This activity works for multiple dads as a family gathering activity as well. It’s sure to be a memory to last as well as possibly a new family tradition.
- “DAD Off DUTY DAY”- print out vouchers and laminate (clear weathering tape is cheap) for the kids to give Dad on his day such as “free remote”, “free refills”, “we’ll take out the trash”, “unlimited snack tray” or whatever small gift you know he would love, or a chore he wouldn’t mind getting out of!
These are just ideas to get your creative juices flowing or a map as to where to start. Gifts are most appreciated when given from the heart. How could Dad’s heartstrings not get pulled by receiving such a lovely token of appreciation? Why are you still sitting there? Print this page, forward to friend, share the post and get going! Be well, Be Blessed, Be Balanced….C’est la Vie (This is Life)!
This article is dedicated to all fathers who are willing to unselfishly give of themselves in order to rear and mold our future leaders in their own way…doing the best that they can. Parenting comes with no instruction book but you can learn by example and simply spending quality time with your children and the children in your village, ASHÉ!
This piece is fitting to kick off my series of writing for Mental Illness Awareness Month
We who are darker than blue are consigned to endlessly gather our body parts, our psyches from the four corners of the earth. We have been scattered like bread crumbs and devoured as such. I can’t find a trace of me….I am in a bird’s treacherous beak, I am trampled beneath a small animals scrambling, scurrying feet. I am no where and everywhere. I am in the belly of the earth. I am hands digging and endlessly gathering.
We who are darker than blue are forever archaeologists, searching for ourselves, our tombs..our birthplaces..our homes.
I am in no mood for dissection. To have my skull cracked like a bluebird’s egg and peered into.
I can’t find my car keys. I did not sleep well. These same nightmares that wait until dawn to unravel and leave me torn between fight or flight far too early in the morning, these same nightmares…
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