C’est la Vie

In loving memory of my two sons: Mark and Matthew Morgan

Sometimes it takes a traumatic experience to realize how precious the gift of life is. I was always a gracious person, thankful to God for my blessings. I never doubted that I could achieve whatever I set my mind to do- great things seemed to happen to me and I was appreciative of those things. I’m not saying that I never endured trying moments, but overall, I had everything I needed and most of what I wanted, which wasn’t much. As a teenager, I earned money by braiding hair to purchase extra things I desired outside of what my mother could provide. Sometimes my sister and I would swap clothes to beef up our wardrobe. Life was good!

Circumstances forced me to take on adult responsibilities faster than I would want for my children. I was leasing my own apartment at the age of 20, and by the age of 25, I was an entrepreneur, homeowner, a wife and a mother. Life was moving fast and I was going with the flow! It seemed as though things were just falling into place without much effort. Looking back now, although I enjoyed how things were going, I didn’t feel like I had full control of the direction of my life, more like I was going through the motions of how I thought my life was supposed to be based on my perception of the “American Dream”. After dating my first serious boyfriend for 3 years, I assumed that an engagement and marriage should follow. I worked in a salon, so the next step should be to open one of my own. I was married for a couple years so hey, let’s a baby! These things came to pass without toil or struggle. As I stated, I enjoyed being on the receiving end of God’s favor, yet I hadn’t put much forethought into my life.

Five years into my marriage, I was slapped in the face with a huge dose of “life ain’t peachy all the time”. Our relationship, similar to most, had it’s challenges and I pretty much rolled with the punches or grinned and beared it because that’s what I thought was expected of me. Consequently, this particular situation being the humdinger that it was, shook my world and changed my whole outlook on my life’s direction. I became pregnant with monoamionic twins which is very rare and usually a deadly condition for the unborn fetus. There were numerous anomalies that occurred and I was faced with having to prematurely induce labor. During the next few weeks, I surrendered tearful prayers for divine intervention, but inevitably I delivered Mark and Matthew, on June 5, 2002. Leading up to that moment and for days after, I felt myself sinking into an abyss of guilt and depression. With the support of my friends, family and my love for my then 2 year old daughter, I didn’t stay consumed with sadness.

I made a promise to myself and to God that if I could regain my sanity that I would live and appreciate life not only for myself, but for Mark and Matthew who would never see the light of day, the stars in the night, hear the ocean crash against the shore or even sing a melody or dance to a song. I decided that I would live for them as well as myself, with purpose and passion. Every glorious moment, the warmth of the sun, a tight hug, a scenic car ride, salty tears, belly aching laughter- I appreciate because there are so many who never had the opportunity to experience them. I gained courage to leave a marriage that was not emotionally fulfilling, instead it had grown to be mentally draining. I’ve found joy in travel and simple peace of mind in my own space. I became acquainted with myself, my likes, dislikes, fears and motivations. So when I say that I made a promise to live, I mean it not only in its literal sense in regards to how my sons never breathed air nor saw the light of day , but also for those who are afraid to break free from a circumstance that may be hindering them from encountering and acknowledging the joys of life defined by them and not by others…. C’est la vie (this is life), live it!

Please donate to the March of Dimes, they work to prevent premature births, end birth defects and promote healthy pregnancies and babies through research and programs.

twins in God’s hands photo credit: Abdul

Protected by Copyscape

Cuervo Cuppycakes

 

During this time of the year (winter in Philly), my inner fat girl takes over! I don’t deny that I am a foodie down to the bone, a fit foodie, a share-my-fattening-food-foodie, a just-need-a-bite-foodie, but a foodie nonetheless! With that being said, I made cupcakes, not just any cupcakes, my own semi-homemade recipe for “Cuervo Cuppycakes”! And as a true foodie, I love my fellow foodies to experience the delight in a bite! So for those who aren’t so lucky to receive a sample of my confectionary concoction- here’s the recipe!

Angel’s Semi Homemade: Cuervo Cuppycakes

ingredients:
Betty Crocker white cake mix
¼ cup José Cuervo tequila
¼ cup daiquiri or margarita mix any flavor (non alcoholic)
flavor injector
flavor injector ingredients: equal parts tequila and daiquiri/margarita mix

instructions:
Follow cake instructions BUT substitute ½ cup of the water with tequila and strawberry mix.
Bake as directed. Immediately after removing cupcakes from oven, inject halfway through cupcakes with approximately ½-1 teaspoon of tequila & strawberry mixture. Allow to cool and enjoy plain or top with favorite glaze or frosting and flavored/colored sugar rim. Garnish with little umbrellas. Bon Appetit and Cheers! Thank me later!

Protected by Copyscape

 

 

Affordable Girls’ Night Out

I had a rare opportunity to spend the evening out with the girls. Between work, classes, kids and household commitments, I do my best to find balance. So this Saturday night, my just-as-busy girlfriends and I were on one accord! The plan was to enjoy eachother’s company, catch up and not spend a fortune! I came up with dinner and wine tasting- all for less than $40 each!
We dined at Brickhouse Tavern and Tap, a very cozy atmosphere, fireplace inside and fire pit out on the patio, just outside of the city (free parking is always a perk when going this route). The restaurant is furnished with love seat dining, traditional table and chairs, high top tables and of course bar seating. There are comfy couches and oversized chairs in a sitting area with flat screen televisions, which are also hung throughout the establishment. The soft and dim lighting makes for a romantic and intimate ambience, great for date night. I love that they offer daily specials 7 days a week, and even Sunday brunch with $2 mimosas! Overall, the menu is simple, affordable and very appetizing. We shared an appetizer, curled zucchini (and a cup of chilli for myself), and we each order separate entrees: salmon, meatloaf and steak, along with a cocktail each. Our check was $92!
Following dinner, we took a 15 minute drive to a quaint wine shop owned by Sandcastle Winery, Taste wine shop. This lovely place offers about a dozen different Pennsylvania wines, an even more larger selection of gourmet olive oils and vinegars along with chocolates and cheeses for sale and sampling. We took advantage of the 5 for $5 wine samples. While seated, we chose from a wine list and were served our selections along with detailed description. I went for the Allspice and Johannesburg Chardonnay reserve. The flavored vinegars such as dark chocolate and cranberry orange balsamic are available to self serve sampling along with little descriptive cards with pairing suggestions.
Girls night out was a success and not hard on the pockets! I always look forward to time with friends and satisfying my foodie craving!

Protected by Copyscape

Stove Top Turkey Wings

“I’m just someone who likes cooking and for whom sharing food is a form of expression” ~Maya Angelou

I love cooking made easy! I need to utilize my time to the fullest extent, the more tasks I can complete at one time, the better! Tonight I am cooking tomorrow’s dinner, writing, and washing clothes all at one time. Of course you may wonder how can I do these things all at one time- especially “Stove Top Turkey Wings”? Wait no longer, the easy to follow and tastebud pleasing recipe is below.

Angel’s Stove Top Turkey Wings
ingredients:
6-8 turkey wing portions (flat pieces)
2 garlic cloves
½ red bell pepper
½ yellow onion
5 baby bella mushrooms
1 envelope Lipton onion soup mix
2 tablespoons evoo
1 cup water
¼ teaspoon parsley
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon Flavor God “Everything Seasoning”

instructions:
Heat olive oil seasoned with paprika, parsley, paprika, and everything seasoning in sauce pan on medium high heat. Cut onion and red bell pepper into ¼ inch slices. Smash and chop garlic cloves. Arrange turkey wings in pan smooth side down and allow to brown for 5 minutes. Sprinkle soup mix, and smother with onions, peppers, mushrooms and garlic and add water. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for 2 hours, ladling sauce once each hour. Turn over wings after first hour. Uncover for another 20 minutes and voila! Serve with brown rice, quinoa, grits or your favorite whole grain, a side veggie and dinner conversation. Thank me later! Be well and be balanced.

Protected by Copyscape

Poo-pourri-view

After unsuccessful attempts to concoct my own version of Poo-pourri, I succumbed to temptation and bought a bottle from Bed Bath and Beyond. I heard great reviews on the product, mainly from men, and that says a lot number 1, because men usually don’t care if the house needs fumigating after they’ve dropped a load, and 2, rarely have I known a man to invest in a non necessity for the house if it doesn’t require batteries or electricity. Nonetheless, they got their hands on this Godsend and actually used it, their remarks were all similar. So when I saw this teeny $10 bottle of magic, I grabbed one, deciding on the vanilla mint, just to test for myself.
I keep my bottle on the top of our throne for quick and easy access. The directions call for 3-5 spritzes before you do the doody and the layer of fragrant oil mixture will trap the odoriferous deposit! I must say, it does the job and is worth every penny! The bottle is 2 ounces so it can easily travel anywhere for discreet excretion! You poo and your boo will never know you did a number 2 if you spray before you do! I vote yes to Poo-pourri; keep one at home, work, glove box and purse and there really is no need to spray air freshener afterwards.

Protected by Copyscape

Change is Good

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished”
~Benjamin Franklin

A home is what we make of the space in which we dwell, be it a dorm room, a loft, a small house or a castle. It is where we tend to spend a primary portion of our lives making memories, our refuge, and most times our home shares our personality. If you live at the same place long enough, your home will start to develop a personality of it’s own. As time goes on, most people adjust along with the times, our beliefs, our sense of fashion and even our mindset. So why wouldn’t we want to modify the decor of our residence to reflect the adjustments that occur in life? I welcome change every so often. Although I love the comfort of consistency, there’s a fine line between consistency and complacency. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut in our lives and it shows in the home, the outdated paint color, the old framed pictures, the cozy yet warn sofa- SWITCH IT UP ALREADY!!! Try a simple rearranging of furniture, hang new up to date photographs or artwork, add a throw to your worn sofa, be adventurous and paint an accent wall and feel a new surge of energy move through your home.
I felt the energy level in my home at a plateau. I’ve been here for almost 9 years and I never changed the furniture, wall art or paint color. I did make minor adjustments that added a little flare to our living space, such as adding an area rug and removing it, rearranging furniture, adding a portable fireplace then swapping it for a tv. My life and my children’s lives had gone through a metamorphosis, I needed a bold modification to my living space to reflect that. With limited space, and a tight budget, I opted for DIY painting. I decided to go for accent walls for my dining and living rooms, using just 1 gallon of paint. Upon research, I found that a focal wall would not only add personality to my social rooms, but the color selection can also set the mood. I went for Behr’s interior flat “vintage blue”, which paired well with the current the Behr “stable hay” tinted walls. Blue has a calming effect, and can even lower blood pressure. The warmth of the color invites people to feel relaxed and at home. I hung a large framed mirror that I revamped with Ralph Lauren metallic silver paint on the blue wall, and that gave the room an illusion of being larger. I had a chest of drawers in the dining room where on top was a wine glass collection, and inside were my swimsuits and cover ups (with small homes you get creative with storage); I used the silver metallic paint to add zebra stripes on the black chest, and found an amazing metallic zebra canvas wall art at Target which I mounted above the chest on the adjacent wall. The project took just a couple of hours for 2 days out of the week and the outcome was “like a picture out of a magazine” says my 16 year old, and that goes far. With just one gallon of blue paint and a quart of metallic glaze, I brought my home up to speed with how my life had evolved over the last 9 years. Succumb to change; change is good! My home once again feels like my refuge, and is in accord with who we are today.

Protected by Copyscape

Angel’s Semi-Homemade Slow Cooked Oxtails

“There’s no sincerer love than the love of       food”~ George Bernard Shaw
As some of you know, I am a self proclaimed foodie. I enjoy dining out, but I also find solace in the kitchen preparing meals for my family and friends. During these winter months I find comfort in serving hearty meals from time to time. Because I have a busy schedule I utilize my time wisely, as far as cooking goes as well. The Crock Pot, also known as a slow cooker, is a gal’s pal! When I combined my Caribbean tastebuds with my multi tasking ways, I came up with this easy way to make oxtails while I can knock off a few tasks on my to do list- even while I’m at work! I’m going to share a foolproof recipe for oxtails that I’ve made up through trial and not so much error- only because I know which flavors compliment one another.

Angel’s Semi Homemade Caribbean Oxtails
ingredients:
2 pounds oxtails cut into ½-1” pieces
14 oz jar of tomato base sofrito
1 pack of onion soup mix
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed

Heat crock pot on high for 15 minutes before adding oxtails. Sprinkle soup mix over meat. Add thyme, arranging between pieces of oxtails. Pour in sofrito. Top with beans.
cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes or quinoa. A good hearty meal to sit and eat together.
Thank me later!

Protected by Copyscape

My Florida Triple Threat Foodie Review

I’d like to think of myself as a fun foodie, I enjoy soul satisfying food in good spirited establishments. What I mean is that I love to enjoy where I eat, with whom I eat as well as what I eat! Bustling food truck festival- I’m there! Sultry hideaway cafe- I’m there! Quiet and quaint sushi spot- I’m there! So it was no different when I traveled to Orlando and Miami, Florida with my 2 kiddos, that I would be in search of fun foodie establishments! Here are my top 3- meeting the following criteria, food quality and taste of course, atmosphere and location and bang for buck!
I enjoy dining with a certain amount of interaction, as long as I have an idea of what to expect. So with that in mind, I decided on Sleuth’s Mystery Dinner Show in Orlando. After searching for the most reasonably priced tickets, I didn’t want to fall into the tourist trap (timeshare tour for tickets or overpaying), I found a place charging $110 for 3 tickets. Menu selection had to be pre ordered so we chose: for me, honey glazed cornish hen over stuffing, cranberry sauce, mixed vegetables and half of a baked sweet potato. my daughter: lasagna with meatballs and garlic bread. my son: chicken tenders, green beans and mac and cheese. All served with garden salad, dessert and free unlimited drinks- even wine and beer! I must admit I had low expectations for the food, just wanted a bite and a good show, but was pleasantly surprised! Foodie heaven!!! Being the foodie I am, I sampled my kids’ plates too- yum! Dessert options were key lime pie, strawberry shortcake and chocolate cake- I tried the cakes and they were winners. Coffee was even served with dessert. The show was entertaining, great for all ages and allowed us to mingle with the other guests we were seated with. The theater is located in a plaza that has a bus stop and taxi station, we walked from Westgate Palace, approximately 20 minutes. Overall, I must say I’d do it again!
Next up as one of my faves in Orlando (and there were a few) is the Nile Ethiopian Restaurant restaurant. I selected this place in honor of Kwanzaa and to be our first African dining experience together. The very warm and nice ethnically decorated restaurant was a hidden treasure. There were quite a few family diners of multiple ethnicities. We ordered the $29 Chef’s Special, designed for 2 and it was enough for 3! The entree sampler is set on a tray and brought out covered with a bamboo top that my son called a hat. No utensils required, just grab a piece of injera (flat sourdough bread that resembles a roti or tortilla), and scoop up your food. Ethiopian cuisine is high in protein, I liked that, and is very aromatic and tasty. Included in our sampler was chicken prepared 2 ways, lean beef prepared 2 ways, cabbage, collard greens, and lentils. It spoke volumes that my fast food loving kids couldn’t get enough and we left just enough to pay compliments to the chef. At the Nile, they serve their house wine, honey wine, very delicious. They also served clove tea and a selection of international beers. Please try them- it’s a family owned business and the staff is there to please!
Lastly is a restaurant that I found on Trip Advisor (they are my review go to and I write reviews there as well) that came highly recommended. The Front Porch Cafe, Ocean Drive, Miami serving breakfast ALL DAY as well as lunches and dinner. I fell in love upon arrival! They have a rather large “porch” for outdoor dining where you can gaze at people strolling down the palm tree lined street; there’s a semi outdoor seating area that gives you a feel of being under water…serene blue lighting; and there’s indoor seating as well (I never went inside). Our server was on point and food was out in a timely manner, shared plates is a good idea unless you’re a “hungry man” because the portions are hearty! The kids shared a breakfast burrito that they couldn’t finish- I of course sampled and yummy! Light fluffy scrambled eggs with mushrooms, fresh herbs, some of the best mouth watering salsa I’ve ever had and sour cream along with a fruit bowl (mangos, blueberries, kiwi, strawberries and pineapple). Pure bliss! I ordered the raved about french toast- there’s a hint of orange that tantalizes the tastebuds! Umt umt umt!! They serve probably the best mimosa I’ve ever had- cranberry mimosa! Two please! The prices were reasonable, our bill was a little less than $50 (gratuity is included).

Protected by Copyscape

Baby Steps and Strides Through 2016

To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping”-Chinese proverb

I’m a person who always like to have set goals and a plan to reach them, not necessarily big goals, but something to look forward to. My close friends would say that I’m always doing something, and that’s what keeps me motivated through life. Whether it’s a trip, a girl’s night out, a DIY project or a new hair do, I always have a to do list! Some of my largest accomplishments began by a “to do list” jotting down “baby steps” on how to get to where I want to be, and before I knew it, I can look back and see how far I had traveled! It’s amazing and humbling at the same time. The turn of a new year prompts me to evaluate my progress (give thanks), my stumbles (learn from mistakes) and re- strategize if need be. For 2016 I have 3 set goals, 1 worked well last year so I decided to make it a traditional goal and the other 2 are new approaches to reach goals I have previously made for myself.
My first is the 52 week savings plan. A good friend of mine shared this with me last year and encouraged me to partake, I did, and the incentive was to use the money for a winter getaway! Every week of the year, I chose Sundays, I put away that week’s perspective dollar amount: week 1=$1, week 2=$2, etc. After 52 weeks I had enough money to pay for hotel accommodations and a car rental, you may decide on a new piece of furniture or shopping spree.
Second, I borrowed an idea from a post on Facebook, 200 workouts out of 366 days of the year! I have a note taped to my mirror with 200 vertical lines that I will cross out to make an (+) after every gym visit or workout. I’m not going to stress myself out over a weight or inch goal, I will focus on healthy meal options and smart portions, the rest should fall into place (or off)!
Third and definitely not last, because I always set goals throughout the year, is to work on prayer. Last year I consciously worked on forgiveness and meditation (there is a difference between meditation and prayer) for spiritual awareness. This year I will consciously list the people in my life who I feel the need to pray for as well as list the areas in my life that need strengthening through prayer. I believe if we all put forth as much effort on our spiritual beauty as we do on outward appearance, the world would be a more golden place!
I hope that my 3 goals inspire you to set and stick to a few goals to make you a better you…for YOU! Remember the main thing is to keep stepping, whether it is one baby step at a time, or stride after stride. Peace be with you.

Protected by Copyscape

Experiencing the Law of Attraction

I decided to take my children Taylor and Kalani to Florida during our winter break. Because I am a part time student my income is limited, so I researched the most economical options to pull off this trip during peak travel season ; this also meant that we may have to cut corners on some amenities. Earlier this year I came across the book, “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, that enlightened me on the law of attraction. Some techniques I unconsciously practiced, while others I learned to consciously incorporate into my daily life. I’m going to give 3 examples of the power of faith and speaking what you want into existence experienced by myself, Kalani and Taylor.
Our flight is scheduled for 5:30 am with Frontier Airlines on December 26. I checked-in online the day before and arranged to get to the airport by 4:30 am. First I want to backtrack because hindsight is 20/20. I worked on Christmas Eve, which isn’t unusual, but I worked later than usual because I wanted the extra money for vacation expenses. I don’t usually listen to music and watch t.v. while working, but this day I decided to overload on Christmas carols on the tube, although it was muted and stream Pandora from my iPhone. Someone catches my eye on the screen, a man leading a choir who shares a striking resemblance of someone I know but I just can’t recall who. It’s eating me up but I’m also working diligently to get out of the salon and home to my children so I blow it off …
Back to our travels, we arrive at Philadelphia International Airport at 4:37 am, I paid for checked luggage online so that we can go straight to security, or so I thought! The line, although not very long when we arrived was barely moving and grew tremendously behind us as a result. After waiting 15 minutes, I take a chance to skip to the counter and explain that my flight departs in 35 minutes. The understanding lady takes our luggage and we zip up to security, “thank God” is my silent prayer! As we exit the escalator I see a familiar face that instantly rings a bell, the face on t.v. that I couldn’t place, resembles the brother of a former co-worker standing right at the top of the escalator in line! I rush over with excitement greeting him and his family, then I noticed how far back the line stretched behind them. I knew we had to get on our flight so I was ecstatic that they allowed us to get in front of them. Everything was smooth sailing from there, the TSA bumped us through a faster line when I explained our situation, and we made the flight with time to spare! Upon settling in our seats, it hit me that the universe wanted me to pay particular attention to that man on t.v. who resembled Junior, whom I hadn’t seen in over a year, because I needed to instantly recognize his face when we got off that escalator. Again, I gave a silent “thank you God” and smiled.
We arrived in sunny Florida at 8:30 am on time! My 8 year old son, Kalani, expressed his exhaustion and how he just wants to lie down in the bed. I explained to him that check-in isn’t until 4:00 pm, and suggested that after we claim our luggage and take a shuttle to the resort we can grab a bite to eat while we wait for our condo to be ready. It took about 20 minutes to retrieve our luggage and another 10 minutes to book the Mears shuttle to the resort. While we are sitting outside awaiting transportation to the resort, Kalani again states that he’s tired and only wants to get to the condo and rest; he’s 8 so I don’t repeat the logistics of hotel check-in. Right after he made his statement, my phone rings and it’s Westgate Resorts guest services confirming our arrival and he tells me that our condo will be available upon arrival to the resort, great news! Once again a confirmation of the power of the law of attraction and speaking what you want into existence! I made sure to point out this example to the children so that they are aware of how it works, and again I offered thanks to God!
After we had eaten lunch, hung out at the pool and took our perspective naps, we headed out for dinner. We were prepared to take the local bus but decided to follow the foot traffic and see where it took us since it was such a lovely evening. We didn’t have to walk very far before we hit International Drive, a strip full of shops and restaurants. As we walked we couldn’t collectively decide on what to eat, there was a pizza shop, Kalani’s fave, KFC, and Applebee’s, which I suggested and they declined. I explained to the kids that since lunch on the resort was rather expensive, whatever we chose has to be within budget. Taylor, my 16 year old daughter, notices the smell of charbroiled steak. I point out that there’s a Brazilian steakhouse ahead but they typically cost $40 per person which was out of budget especially since Kalani is not much of a meat eater. We continued our trek in search of dinner, hungry and undecided, when a man comes out of nowhere with a huge sign advertising a Brazilian steakhouse, Café Meniero, of all things! He explains there’s a salad, side and entrée buffet as well as a carving station option instead of the $40 sit down dinner ,where they bring unlimited meats to you, for $16 per adult and $6 for kids. He offered a 10% coupon that included free unlimited juice and soda then directed us to the restaurant! We agreed on the buffet and hurried over to immediate seating and delicious food all for $47! I made no hesitation to bring attention of how Taylor spoke her desire for what she wanted for dinner into existence!
I share these stories because they were lessons for me as well as the children. I learned not to discredit my children’s desires and their power to attract what they want, and to encourage them to do so. I was guilty of subtlely deferring their dreams. I know now that a simple “who knows” or “anything is possible” is a better reaction. Our experiences also confirmed first hand for both of my children that they hold the power to attract what they want!

Protected by Copyscape

%d bloggers like this: