2010 Handbook for the New Year

Some one sent this too me and I think it is appropriate. It's a new year...time to think & BE better.

1. Drink plenty of water.
2.. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants...
4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.
5. Make time to pray.
6. Play more games.
7. Read more books than you did in 2009.
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
9. Sleep for 7 hours.
10. Take a 10-30 minute walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

Personality: (This section is prolly the most important advice, IMHO)
11. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12 Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13. Don't over do. Keep your limits.
14. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
15. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
16. Dream more while you are awake.
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
18. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Realize that t life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more.
24. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

25. Call your family often.
26. Each day give something good to others.
27. Forgive everyone for everything.
28. Spend time w/ people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. What other people think of you is none of your business.
31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

32. Do the right thing!
33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
34. God heals everything.
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change..
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up..
37. The best is yet to come.
38. When you awake alive in the morning, be thankful for it.
39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

New Years Eve Randoms

Why is it everytime I gotta go somewhere lately the sky opens up and dumps a bunch of snow? Don't you know I live out here in the country. Uggaahhh.

A whole lot of knowledge doesn't mean a whole lot when bounced off a mangled moral compass. 0_O

Nobody should treat your husband better than you do. Ever. Don't let me hear that again as an excuse to occassionally behave badly.

Loved the movie Julie & Julia. I think Julia Childs and I are kindred spirits. She was so flamboyant, tenacious & fearless...she LOVED her husband. Now just to be able to debone a duck..."do not be afriad of the duck."

Imma tell you what, this business of husband & wife having an argument and the husband walking out the house and staying gone for a couple of days is ABSOLUTE BULLSHYT! I wish a mofo would do that bytchassedness up over here. You'll be looking for a friggin locksmith cause those keys at gonna work. Hope you like that pallet I put out in the yard for you.

When did we lose the art of frank discussion & conflict resolution so that you are not cussing each other, hitting each other and/or running from the damn house. You wouldn't DARE do that mess at work or talk to your boss the way you talk to your spouse - SO WHY ARE YOU DOING IT?

2010...Imma need us to do better.

How you gonna call me up and ask me for $50 for new shoes (when you were given a pair to Tims two days previously)? When I said no, you called two other family members asking for more or less of the same amount, but for differet reasons. WHAT! You don't think we talk. Girl, BYE!

How you gonna call my son and ask to see him before he goes back to college, but don't want to come over here. You asked him to meet you over GMa's house instead. You still mad about something that happened 18yrs ago - that YOU were in the wrong about? You actually THINK that you are punishing us. Bwaaaahaaahaaahaaa! PUUUHHHHLEEEEEZEEE.

How many times do I have to tell people to STOP hustling me on FB. I'm not shopping at your site that I have to register for (especially when the tag line is "hurry up so you can make money before your friends find out). I also don't take kindly to solicitations to join some network marketing group that implys that if you don't do it - you are a loser. GTFOOHWTBS. Thank you.

Princess Cara is a friggin hoot. You should have seen her reaction when two boyscouts staying at my house got in a fight over a old penquin (that did in fact use to belong to them, but was now considered hers) and they slit the penquins throat. High Drama Indeed.

I love my new Coach Slippers soooooo much that I almost wore them right out of the house.

I really enjoy going to tea. Tea on the Tiber has a wonderful Victorian tea room with beautiful authentic china & great food...right up until I got to the paper napkins. Imma need ya'll to use linen. That was, IMHO, a tad tacky.

Yes, I guess I could be considered filled with contracitions. I'm girly, I love sparkly stuff, I like tea & fine things...and I smoke cigars. WHATEVER. Fix your face. I didn't invite you and I don't care what you think.

I do what I want.

Sparkly eye shadow makes me feel good on the inside...I think I'll wear some today.

Happy New Year.


Quick Breakfast Bounty

Right now I currently have 14 people staying at my house until after the new year, including my own clan. EIGHT are kids ranging from 18 down to 15 months. WE DO NOT have big breakfast every morning. I just ain't cooking every damn morning for 14 people. NOT THE KID PLAYA. Once a week.

However, just in time for the onslaught of visitors, General Mills was generous enough to send me 4 coupons for General Mills Cereal Brands to commemorate the announcement this week of their committment to further reduce sugar in cereals advertised to kids under 12 to single digit grams of sugar per serving. The company has already been reducing sugar in cereals while increasing key nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, and providing whole grain.
Cool because cereal was going to one of the alternate options for breakfast...or people were gonna have to cook it themselves. I just was NOT going to cook 2-3x a day for 14. I am not a short order cook and this is not a restaurant. My crock pot is working overtime...last night I made a pot of chili - HUGE HIT! Tonight...Grilled Burriotto's, Go Army Nacho's & Punch. And the crowd roars.

N. E. Way....

Did you know that ready-to-eat cereal eaters consume less fat, less cholesterol and more fiber than non-cereal eaters? Cereals also deliver important vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients, making cereal a top source of key nutrients in children’s diets.

Other cereal benefits:
  • Ready-to-eat cereals, including presweetened cereals, account for only 5% of sugar in children’s diets.
  • Ready-to-eat cereal is the No. 1 source of whole grains in a child’s diet today.
  • More frequent cereal eaters tend to have healthier body weights and lower Body Mass Index measures.
Studies also demonstrate the benefits of eating breakfast. A 1998 study showed that children who eat breakfast tend to perform better at school. Compared to children who skip breakfast, children who eat breakfast score higher on tests, are less likely to miss class or be tardy, have fewer reported discipline problems, and make fewer trips to the office. For more information about kids and cereals, please visit Cereal Health and Wellness.

Right now if you visit here you will find a $1 off coupon for one of four General Mills cereals.

Interesting data. My Baby Maia seems to be enjoying the Honey Nut Cherrios, so it seems all is right with the world.
Just so you know...that the information and free cereal coupons were all provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark.)


Bikram Yoga Etiquette at the MAX

Bikram's-Yoga-'Fat-Woman', originally uploaded by industrialbrand.

There are some basic rules or etiquette for everyone to follow when you are taking a Bikram Yoga (or any yoga probably) class such as be on time, don't disturb other yogi's with a lot of movement, don't leave the room, don't wear a lot of perfume etc, etc.

Those are the basics. Good to know. Respectful stuff so that everyone can enjoy the class and get the most from this torture...oh, I mean 90 min moving meditation.

However, after the class I attended last night; where there were like 48 people in a room that holds 50, there needs to be some additions. When the studio is at the MAXIMUM I'm going to need some of ya'll to go the extra mile (matter of fact - JUST DO IT ALL THE TIME - so when you come upon a maxed out class you are ready).

1. CUT THOSE FRIGGIN TALONS you call toe nails. When you are lying on your stomach with the bottom of your feet facing up to the ceiling. I SHOULD not be able to see your damn toe nails curving around to the bottom of your toes. THAT MESS LOOKED LIKE RAGGED DAGGERS and I was so afraid that you might stretch back and put my damn eye out. GROOMING, PEOPLE, GROOMING.

2. Guys...Imma need it to be a friggin requirement that you wear a gosh darn jock strap or some thing to STRAP THOSE PUPPIES DOWN. I should NOT have to be rendered blind by mister willie peeking at me everytime we bend over or whatever. NOTHING should ever pop out. Those little jogging shorts are NOT appropriate. Cinch it up.

3. When the instructor says to move slowly, together. IMMA NEED YOU TO FRIGGIN DO IT, HEAR! Stop slinging your damn sweat all over everybody. THAT IS NASTY...and I certainly can't focus, stay still or hold my pose all the while trying to fling off your damn sweat. KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.

4. Now you know damn well that a lot of the postures are compression postures. You are going to be squeezing your GI track to damn death. I NEED everyone to try their damndest to GO TO THE BATHROOM before class. All that damn tooting and silent but deadlies are just UNCALLED FOR. Moist, hot farts are NASTY. We are trying to breath here, people.

5. I know we are all going to sweat like a cow on fire in class. I still think it should be a requirement to FRIGGIN BATHE YO AZZ before you come to class. Once again, we are all trying to breath and breathing in your butt funk & pitt funk is just too much to bear.....and ladies - I know that yoga is all zen and ish but that hairdo you are growing out under your arms is NASTY. I'm just sayin. SHAVE - Jeeze.

I love me some Bikram Yoga. If all would just comply with some of these additional etiquette tips, I would enjoy it that much more.

I'm not saying...I'm just saying. MmmmKay.


A Blessed Christmas with Family

Merry Christmas from True Blessings Estate


We Elfed Ourselves - Happy Christmas Eve!


Christmas Cookies

Snow Play

A view of fun in the snow from the Day After the Blizzard of December 2009.
A White Christmas for sure.


On the 6th Day of Christmas....

...A Blizzard a Ragin.

I was supposed to go to Erin's SnowBunny Birthday Bash tonight. Had the tight red dress & spanx all ready to go, but alas, we got about 20 sumptin inches of snow instead. In the spirit of staying flexible and letting nothing or nobody steal my holiday joy, we decided to work on the Gingerbread House project from my Christmas Magic list. Talk about glee. Princess Cara had a wonderful time..."Look at it, don't touch it!" I guess we have been told.
The attention span of a 5 year old is about 5 min (if that) because as soon as they were done & instructions were giving to not touch her houses, she wanted to put on all her snow gear and go outside to play. Go for it. Stay out there with your PopPop while he shovels the snow cause I'm staying up in da house.

Okay, maybe I'll go out and take some pictures...Maybe.

Enjoy the video.

Are you getting hit with the Blizzard of December 09? What ya doing with yourself?


My Secret Blog Santa Gift ARRIVED!!!!

Last night, as I pulled into the garage from running errands, my headlights hit on a huge box sitting in front of the garage door. I jumped out of the car, grabbed my box (I KNEW what it was), put it in the car and parked. I couldn't get in the house fast enough to open the box to see what my Secret Blog Santa had picked for me.

I don't know why this endeavor tickled me so much. What I do know was that I thoroughly enjoyed getting to "know" a new blogger to me as I combed through her blog to catch up and learn some things about the person I had drawn. I have found, for the most part, that the bloggers I have met personally or only interact with online are just a bunch of great, interesting people. Do I agree with everything they do/say? Nope. What I do know is that there are a lot of decent & interesting people out there that I would not have met otherwise; we all have our idiosyncrasies; we all are weird/set in our ways; we are all crazy and/or self-medicate in some form or fashion; and my way ain't the only way/THE WAY/or the way that would work for someone else.

I LOVE IT. I am having a blast and this Secret Blog Santa was a way to share part of myself & get to know a new (bunch of new) people along the way. I am enjoying the journey.

I ABSOLUTELY LOVED MY GIFT. As I read the card, it made me feel special and warmed my heart to know how much thought they put into the gift. The card started out with "Merry Christmas TravelDiva & The Steptoe Family. This box is filled with things for You & Yours From Us." And went on to explain what was for Me, for Mine and From Them. LOVED IT.

The Lolita Wine Glass was for me. The Gingerbread Kit & Hot Coco was for Cara & I to work on form my 7th day of Christmas vow and the Cookies were from Them as something that they left for Santa and wanted to share with me. Just awesome.

I spent a little time today doing some investigative work, trying to figure out who my Secret Santa was and I was able to narrow it down to two (I think). My guess is......

Pserendipity or NerdGirl

TELL ME. TELL ME. So I can gush with you personally.

Merry Christmas to all my new blog friends...and may your New Year be Blessed.


Paella & Sangria...All Is Right With The World

Prince Jordan returned to The Kingdom today after his first semester of college and I decided to make a family favorite to welcome him home: Paella A La Valenciana

It was absolutely delicious and while the recipe can seem a tad intimidating, if you get all the ingredients ready in advance (chopped and ready to go) then it is actually pretty easy to put together. You do need a VERY big pan that can go from stove top to oven. An authentic paella pan can be rather expensive ($100+), but I found this pan at Macy's a few years back for about half that. Remember, I said big and it HAS to be able to go from your stove top to the oven.

Here is a blurb from the cookbook "The Foods & Wines of Spain":
Paiella A La Valenciana (Chicken & Seafood Rice)
This is the rice dish that has achieved world renown...A medley of colors and tastes, this version has authentic flavor and is spectacularly beautiful.
Although the list of ingredients is long, most of the work can be done in advance, and since paella is a meal in itself, it needs no accompaniment. Paella a la Valenciana never fails to delight guests, especially when preceded by a chilled red gazpacho and washed down with an icy sangria.

Now you don't have to use all the ingredients exactly. I do substitute because I just don't care (and nobody else here either) for the mussels/clams (I use scallops). If you don't want pork or ham, use beef instead. Be creative and it will come out wonderful.

6 cups chicken broth -----1/2 teaspoon saffron----- 1-1/2 lb boneless chicken
1 sm onion, peeled--------coarse salt-----------1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 lb chorizo sausage----1 lg boneless pork chop, diced
1/4lb piece cured ham, diced
1 med onion, chopped---4 scallions, chopped---4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pimientos, diced-----1lb sm or med shrimp, shelled
3 cups short grain rice
4 lobster tails or 8 jumbo shrimp ---5 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/2c dry white wine-----1Tbsp lemon juice-----1/4lbs fresh or frozen peas
18 clams, scrubbed------18 small mussels, scrubbed
lemon wedges for garnish
chopped parsley for garnish

Heat broth with saffron & whole onion. Cover & Simmer 15 min. Remove onion & measure 5 1/2 cups. Put aside. Cut chicken breast into small pieces, dry and sprinkle with salt. In metal paella pan, with about a 15in base, heat oil. Add chicken & fry over high heat till golden. Remove to warm platter. Add choirzo, pork and ham to pan and stir fry about 10 min. Add chopped onion, scallions, garlic and pimientos and saute til onion is wilted. Add shrimp & lobster (scallops) and saute about 3 more minutes more, or until shrimp barely turns pink. Remove shrimp/scallops/lobster to platter with the chicken. Add rice to pan and stir to coat it well. Sprinkle in 5 tablespoons chopped parsley and crumbled bay leaves.

Stir in broth, boiling hot, the wine, lemon juice and peas. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat about 7 min or until rice is no longer soupy but some liquid remains. Bury the shrimp & chicken in the rice. Push clams and mussels into rice with the edge that will open facing up. Decorate paella with lobster/shrimp pieces, then bake at 325 F, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit, lightly covered with foil, for about 10 min. To serve, decorate with lemon wedges and chopped parsley.

I served up Sangria with it. Smiles were had all around


Grand Finale - Tales From Italy: April 29th, 2005

Grand Finale: Accademia, Uffizi, Dinner & Dancing
Well, we just had to make our last day an action packed day.

We started with a tour of the Accademia Gallery (gallery of sculptures) where you can see the original sculpture of David. Another awe inspiring moment. Nevertheless, it is the about the only thing impressive in the home gallery. After the Accademia Tour, we stopped at a cafe for lunch. We watched people devour a calzone the size of a small country, while we had a salad and fruit
bowl. We thought we might end up with scurvy, so we decided we had to add some green leafy veggies and a fruit or two to our carb loading, wine drinking diet.

We (or rather I) resumed the force march through the streets of Florence, looking for the elusive trinket to take home. We saw some great stores but everything was very expensive due to our exchange rate. We make a snack stop to have some gelato again. We sat on the steps of some church near the Uffizi Gallery (I can't remember the name), watched the sea of humanity pass by, admired the backside of a copy of the statue of David and wondered about the statue of some god with the head of Medusa in his hand. You could sit and watch people for hours. Unfortunately, we had another tour of the Uffizi Gallery (gallery of paintings).
Our tour guide turned out to have a Napoleon complex and went on and on about paintings no one had any interest in. We all wanted to see the Leonardo de Vinici's, (he really didn't paint that many- most famous being the Mona Lisa and that is in the Louvre), the Bottacelli's (Birth of Venus) and the Michelango's. He wasted so much time on some obscure stuff that mom and I
sat and waited till we could move on. I learned so much about why people study the paintings so much and so long. There are often illusions, hidden signatures (self portraits), and other symbolism, that you have to sit and stare and think about the paintings for a long time to get a sense or understanding of what these geniuses where trying to portray.

After the tour, I marched mom back through the city to our next final excursion - Florence by Night with Dinner & Dancing. What a hoot! We made it back to the train station (probably a mile walk from the Uffizi) and boarded a bus to the highest point in Florence - The Piazza de Michelangelo - where you can see another copy (in bronze) of the statue of David. We sat at a café and watched the sunset over Florence while drinking a glass of champagne. You could see the whole city. It was beautiful.

We then got back on the bus to go to dinner at a "local" restaurant. It was a huge tourist/tour bus trap across from a beautiful Monastery; however, we had a wonderful time. There were about 4 tour buses (ours was a mixed group, 2 buses of people from Peru, and 1 bus of young Americans). We ate, drank numerous bottles of Chianti, sang and danced. It was a great way to end the trip.

Now we have to go and pack for our return. How in the world I'm going to go back to work and not be able to have a bottle of wine with lunch. Alas.

With that, we end our trip to Italy. We hope you enjoyed the adventure with us.

Big Breakfast Give-Away

I really don't know how it got started, but this year The Kingdom started having just about every Sunday what has affectionately become known as "The Big Breakfast". I get up every Sunday and fix a buffet of yummy vittles for us to munch on. I think the best thing about it is not the just the food, but that we all get together as a family and tell stories (prolly lies too), fuss at each other and discuss the past weeks event and what's happening in the coming week. Since not everyone lives in The Castle, I often get a FB or Twitter message asking what is the status and ETA. HUMPH.

It is awesome.
I recently received two coupons to try out the Pillsbury® Grands!® Flaky Layers Honey Butter Biscuits at our "Big Breakfast" feast. That really wasn't too hard of a request to fulfill since we have Grands Biscuits just about every Sunday. This morning was no exception (cause I used the coupons, see). Let me tell ya...not a complaint or sound was heard. As a matter of fact, they must have been warm, buttery, yummy snacks because of the two cans that I made, there are only 3 biscuits left. Ummmm, yeah. I consumed on with my crab omelet and it was, in fact, DELISH.

We loved them so much, I want to share some of the flaky goodness with you. If you would like to receive a Honey Butter Prize Pack consisting of two coupons & a butter dish w/knife, then leave me a comment about what you make for special family breakfasts. The winner will be selected randomly from all those that submit a comment by Wednesday, December 16th.

Just so you know...Pillsbury provided me with the free product, information, and prize pack through MyBlogSparkTM. So don't go gettin you panties all in a bunch.

We May Have Lost the Game....

...But We Won the Party


Army Will Come To Play

From GoBlackKnights.com -

Army heads into the Navy game decidedly an underdog. Seven years of losing to the Mids, facing a Navy team that took Ohio State to the brink at the horseshoe, and knocked off Notre Dame in South Bend.

But this year is different. Army-Navy means something even more. A win puts Army in a bowl game, and although the Mids may be looking as strong as ever, don't count the Black Knights out.

Army will come to play.

Damn Skippy! And The TravelDiva...THE 12th MAN...will cheer, hoop and holler till the very end.


Bringing On the Christmas Magic

With all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas Season, sometimes we forget to take time and do something special, thoughtful or just be in the moment with our families & friends. Phone calls, job stuff, odd stuff around the house...just plain distractions often keep us from being "in the moment" with our family, especially our kids.

While most of my kids are pretty much grown, we have our newest addition to the Kingdom, Princess Cara, who still believes in Santa Clause & will debate you on the subject of whether Reindeer can fly (they can!). Our little princess is still have the magic in her eyes, the joy and wonder of the simpliest things and I don't want to be the one to stamp it out because I have to meet a deadline or the floor just HAS to be mopped right damn now.

My new blogfriend, LadyWonderLust, posted up her list of 12 Days of Christmas Childhood Magic and I was inspired to put together my own list...This is a list of 12 things I will DO (they key here is to not just write it down as a wish list, but to actually execute) to bring back for myself or maintain for my kids the Magic of Christmas. I would love to hear your 12 Days of Christmas List...that you will really do. Post em here in the comments or do your own list on your blog and let me know. Let's keep each other "In The Spirt".


Tales from Italy - Day 7, August 28th, 2005

Good Tastes of Tuscany
With only 2 more days left in the Italy Adventure, Mom and I were off to our Good Tastes of Tuscany Italian Immersion Advanced Cooking Class. All day of cooking, eating, and drinking. We were picked up at the Hotel Hell, and driven out to the 13th-century Villa Pandolfini, which is surrounded, by olive groves, vineyards and gardens.

Native Florentine Chefs Lisa Banchieri and Maurizio Moretti greeted us. After having a cup of espresso and visiting the gardens, we were presented our menu that we would prepare. Fettunta (meaning oil sliced) - an type of Toscana crostini Stracchino & Sausage Crostini Artichoke and Ricotta Ravioli Stuffed Chicken Thighs in Crust Dolce Forte - Caramelized Cipolini (Caramelized Small Onions) Tiramisu (meaning pick me up) 'Nuff said. We learned how to make everything from scratch, including making pasta and pizza crust, making a dough to cover meats, making the best tiramisu in the world and drinking a whole lot of wine. We received an apron and all of the recipes to make at home. Can you say "Dinner Party!”?

We were dropped off at the Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore, called The Duomo. There is a painting of Dante with the Divine Comedy inside. We did some shopping around the plaza looking
for Fontinini statues and found a small store that sold them but not a lot of selection. Found some Murano and Venetian glass. Bought some doo dads, had another gelato and headed back for the hotel.

I thought I was going to get beat up by a street vendor for stepping on her sheet that she had laid out in the middle of the sidewalk. Mom and I ignored here as she ranted and raved about me stepping in her territory. Whatever. We arrived back at Hotel Hell to be greeted by 3 tour buses of people. Retreating to our room, I tried to order room service, but they didn't answer the phone. I ended up walking around the corner to a little booth that sold snacks. We ended our culinary adventure with two beers and a can of Pringles.

Tomorrow is our last day. We are going for the full Florence Immersion. We have a tour of the
Accademia Gallery (the art of Michelangelo) in the morning, a guided visit to the Uffizi Gallery (works of art by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and more), and then end our day with Florence by night with dinner, music and dancing.


Online Shopping - According to Foamy


Thursday Thoughts

You call 20x prior to Thanksgiving asking who is gonna pick you up, when are they coming, can you come over early etc. etc. Turkey Day rolls around and you say you have a ride and will be there by 2pm.

You never showed. Never called. Silence. Empty place setting.

There are good days and bad days with this job. I hate having to wait. I got better things to do. Today was irritating to say the least.

The African American Service Academy Graduate Super Reunion is going to be an absolute blast if the planning meeting last night was any indication.

Sitting at my last appointment for the day....45 minutes after my scheduled appointment time. In walks the next sales rep exuding happiness & light - a male with the enthusiasm of somebody on fire. If he doesn't stop grinning up in my mug piece, I'm going to stab in in they eye with my pen.

The low engine oil light came on as I was backing out of the garage with no man unit in sight. I had to lift the hood, check the oil level, add a quart ALL BY MY SELF. I didn't have time to be a Diva in Distress. Had to do what I had to do and keep it moving.

I didn't say I liked it.

That Nestle Hotline thing was hilarious. Good to see a company that has a sense of humor.

So, she calls Mom 4 days after Thanksgiving saying she's fainting and having heart palpitations. "Take off work tomorrow so you can take me to the hospital. I'll call you when to get me."

Two days have passed...no word. Guess she still lives.

Tiger (Pussycat) Woods...I don't really care about the details. Elin handled her business and now THEY have to handle their marriage, life & prenup all by their damn selves. He didn't kill anyone. He got busted for sheer stupidity (sexting; 3 different ho's - DUMBAZZ) and killed a fire hydrant. Team Elin. I hope he gets his head out his azz. I hope that another dumb, weak, user of the tiny brain man doesn't destroy his kids & family over a piece of cheap azz.

Other than that, I couldn't care less. I have not lost one iota of sleep. Trust.

Mayor Dixon convicted over $1000 worth of gift cards. Really? Wow. How much money do you think was wasted on having this trial. I bet it was more that all those gift cards.

I so want to dislike button in FB. Why? Cause people are dumb AND crazy. Especially those that are really passionate & insane in their hatred of a person or thing. I don't argue with crazy, so a dislike button would satisfy my need to express my disdain for bytchassedness.

Please STOP inviting me to "Blastoff" and shop at you online mall so you can make money of me and/or asking me to join to set up my own website "before all my friends find out about it". It ain't happening. Keep inviting me and you will be gone. Mkay?

I love pulling up to my house at night and seeing the lights. I need more as it really isn't at scale to the house. Shameful...or shameless.

I can't wait for my Army-Navy party. We are going to have a marvelous time. Wanna come? It's as for football.

Go Army!

If we beat Navy, then we will be in a bowl game played at RFK on December 29th.



Dear (Blog) Secret Santa....

I am so excited about the blogger secret Santa that Pserendipity set up. I've got my fellow blogger that I am to select a gift for and have been reading their blog daily - combing thru the archives trying to figure out the perfect gift. Since the person I selected is relatively new to me, I'm having to learn about and infer stuff just by reading. I can't interact extensively with them right now as it would kill the secret. Sigh.

I'm hoping that they post a hint over the next few days so I can be about my mad hunt (just another excuse to shop) for my interpretation of said hint.

Since I'm soliciting a hint or two, I thought I'd post a little blurb about my preference (or proclivities) to help my Secret Santa out.
  • People know me as the TravelDiva (duh). If it is related to traveling...I'm in.
  • I have, on numerous occasions, been called out for my sparkly fabulousness and am easily distracted by shiny, sparkly, bedazzled things. (ie. review pictures...I always wear a brooch - the more sparkly the better, the bigger the better).
  • I even bejewel my hair. Seriously. Don't judge me.
  • I have a shoe fetish that is unrivaled with a closet to hold the in. DSW certificate?
  • I collect odd things...snow globs & masks from ever place I've traveled. I like em big. One of either with an interesting story or from where you are from would be equally as loverly.
  • You can NEVER go wrong with anything related to red wine or martini's. I'm not an alcoholic...I'm a professional drinker.
  • Don't tell anyone, but I love all things Bath & Body Works. SHHHHH. NO JUDGING REMEMBER.
Bottom line...if it screams DIVA, sparkles and/or is girly, I'm going to be ecstatic.

...and in actuality, any gift I receive that is from the heart and giving with as much caring & thought as I know the people involved are putting into this will be a blessing and greatly appreciated.

Thank you, Santa.


Tales from Italy - Day 6 - April 27th, 2005

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Today we took a tour to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

It was much more impressive in person than anything that I have ever seen in pictures. I took a wonderful video of a guard singing in the Baptistery, which has a "perfect" echo due to the architectural design. I signed my mother and I up for a climb to the top of the Tower and she was such a trooper. Mom made it all the way to one level below the top and I of course climbed all the way to the top to touch the flag. What a spectacular view of the Cathedra, Baptistery, surrounding town of Pisa and the Alps in the background. Just plain impressive.

We had some time to kill before we had to get back on the train, so we shopped the booths along the wall - mom bought a really nice leather purse and I've added to the snow globe collection. We then decided we need a few more pounds on our body and went to the gelato stand. OH MY GOODNESS.... this was the best "ice cream" I have ever had. So good I was trying to lick the little bowl, but mom held be back and made me pace myself. That stuff they are selling in the mall IS NOT gelato. Must have more before I get back to starvation, workouts, and my personal trainer from hell.

We arrived back in Florence and did some more shopping for gifts for our friends and family so I can't tell you what I got or it would not be a surprise. After dropping off our bags in the hotel we were back out to go to a restaurant that came HIGHLY recommended call "Il Latini". When we arrived, there was a line outside that went up the block or rather piazza. Well, being the travel snobs were are - WE HAD A RESERVATION - we went right to the front of the line and I almost had to kick off the Murano walking shoes and hand my jewelry to mom in order to commence the Ass Whooping this group of ladies from NY were about to get for getting hostile about us going to the front. They DID NOT have a reservation and wanted to swear that the restaurant does not take reservations. They proceeded to tell us to get in the end of the line. I promptly let her know that I DID have a reservations, that they needed to be made IN ADVANCE (see the damn crowd idiot) and that we were staying put. Mom steps up behind me as if she has my back (she did) and put an ominous look on her face.

Obviously, the NY ladies did not realize that an angry black woman, backed up by an angry white woman is nothing to mess with. She promptly backed down.

We get in the restaurant and to our surprise there really isn't a menu. The waiter tells you what your choices are for each course and that's what you get. He gets mad and down in the mouth if you decided you don't want a course - heck, I was about to burst after the antipasti course. (Would have helped if I slowed down on the Chianti). Nevertheless, for all the hoopla, the food was okay. The restaurant was a huge tourist trap. No locals, almost everyone was American. It was entertaining, the company was good, but for all the talk I thought it was going to be more authentic. Harry's Bar was much more real (expensive) but worth it. iL Latini was cheap (50 euros for two) but average and touristy. Oh well. The Chianti bottle we killed definitely made up for it.

Tomorrow we are off for our Tuscany "Italian Immersion" Advanced Cooking Class. This should be a hoot.


This Is How We Do It - Christmas Decorating

This is how we do it here at True Blessings with the Christmas Decorating. For the last 15 years+ we spend the Friday (weekend) after Thanksgiving putting up our Christmas Decorations. The rule is...if you can't land aircraft by my lights, then you don't have enough. PERIOD. We have to get all the decorations up by the 1st weekend in December. WHY? Because the Army-Navy Football game is usually played the 1st Saturday in December and if the game is not played in Baltimore/DC then we host a HUGE football party. If it is local then we even host an afterparty...it's tradition.

Thus, decorating frenzy.

Here are some pics from our decorating madness this weekend. My mother hasn't even started on the Fontanini Holiday Display; however, this year she has until the 12th to get it all done. We got a little breathing room as the A-N game is not till the 2nd Saturday.


Thanksgiving Table

The table is set and now everybody is hovering around (damn people, it is only 10am) asking is it done yet? While I use the same "formal" china (if you can call it that) that I have collected over the years and added to in the same family. I do change up my centerpieces or do a table scape (ahem...Pattie) different for the occassion but I am especially fond of decorative napkin folding to jazz it up.

I put this little video together for you on how to do the napkin pictured above called The Cats Paw. Enjoy and I pray you are having a Blessed Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Nintendo WiiFit Plus Party

I don't even know what to say except WOW!!!!!! This was the second Nintendo event that I have been invited to and let me tell ya - I AM A NINTENDO FAN - as well as a fan of the hosts that were gracious enough to invite me.

Last night we went to a gallery in Bethesda and we "worked out" the new training programs on the WiiFit Plus. What a hoot and a dag on good workout to boot. My favs were the Yoga routine (I can't wait to try the new advanced poses they added), Kung Fu Rythm, Obstacle Course & the Hula Hoop. Shelly kicked all of our butts with on the Hula Hoop workout with something like 330 spins - none of us even came close. OneFromPhilly has got that Obstacle Course down pat - perhaps her fondness for WipeOut was the key.

The people from Nintendo were awesome AGAIN as as usual. Most of the time you didn't even know they were there, but they were a lot of fun. Thank you, Sean for gracing us with not one, but two renditions of making "BIG CIRCLES." Sigh.

The food & beverages were fabulous (it was a real stretch not to be greedy, but those rolls were slammin').

The night ended with CreoleInDC (our hostess) being presented with a Wii Game System and the WiiFit Plus...but it wasn't over...cause "EVERYBODY IS GOING HOME WITH A WiiFit PLUS!" We started jumping up and down, screaming like we were on an episode of Oprah's Favorite Things. But that's not all. I commented at the beginning of the event that I would really love to have the Nintendo WiiFit Jacket that the Nintendo people had on...AND GUESS WHAT...(*cue screaming*)...we all got one.


Thank you and much props goes to Nintendo and CreoleInDC for such a wonderful time and awesome opportunity. I'm hooking mine up today and we are gonna get some family fit time on.


Thursday Thoughts

I don't find it difficult to find things to be thankful for. Shoot...just cause I wake up, I am thankful.

Maria at the Columbia Mall Williams & Sonoma was the epitome of customer service & knowledge. She almost sold me the dag on store.

On the other hand, NY & Company just got kicked to the proverbial curb. I don't use your friggin card for 13 months, so when I do, you want to run a credit check. Ummm....HELLZ NO! You don't need to run no damn credit check for a t-shirt. No playa. I don't think you are worth any of my money. Bye.

My neighbors cut down almost every tree around their house. I'm talking old growth trees...all the way back to the creek. Desolate is the word I'd use. Ugly is another.

Am I angry all the time at someone or something on my blog? Nope. After a review of 300 posts, 5 were "angry" at someone or something. Under 2% does not angry make. Is my language direct & to the point. Yep. Angry all the time...no. However, perception is reality.

Speaking of perception...I understand that the perception is that I live a charmed life. Yes, we are blessed. However, we didn't get here all magical like; it wasn't handed to us on a silver platter. Hard work, perseverance, commitment to our goals, taking risks (that have made my knees buckle on occassion) & failing forward are just some of what it took (and takes) to live this life.

I choose not to share all of my/our bag of woes, hardships and moments of despair with the world. Doing so would not change anything (there are enough people that like to share misery to go around) or what we need to do.

I choose to be happy and revel in the wonderful moments...."because in the end, it is not the years in your life, it's the LIFE in your years."- Abraham Lincoln

I agree that to whom much is given, much is expected.

However, that does not make me infallible or perfect. Ohhhh, I'm so far from it. I am a work in progress...trying to become like silver refined.

I make mistakes. I have been known to occasionally say or do something stoopit. I apologize for my imperfections and moments of insanity. Trust me...I do learn and grow from them. (And take drugs for my "nerves")

With that said, I sincerely apologize if I hurt someone by expressing my disappointment and confusion in a public forum. My method & tone was wrong. I'm sorry and wish them all the best.

Princess Cara lost her 1st tooth this past weekend. I played the role of Tooth Fairy (you know that was NOT a stretch) and I will probably have a recurring role in several upcoming dramatic episodes of "As The Tooth Falls Out"

I went back to a gym I used to teach kickboxing at to take their 3 week boot camp. HUMPH. I don't think I will be signing up for another round. The music is WAAAAYYY to fast for safety, improper technique is still used and laying down on the carpet that everybody wears their street shoes on to do exercises is just GROSS. I'll pass.

I am really loving my new "used" florescent beige hooptie. I affectionately call her Loverly.

Loverly is paid for. GMAC (and most other lenders) can bite my azz. You get a bail out of gazillions of dollars and now don't want to lend 2 cents to anybody. o_O

BTW...how you gonna tack on a $2800 "expense advance" (what da hell is that) charge to my bill and then when asked what da hell - you say "you're not sure what it is for."

Guess what...I ain't paying ish until you KNOW and EXPLAIN (and it better make some damn sense). I wonder how many people you've tried to play as boo boo the fool with that one.

Sitting at my District Meeting, I look around and once again I am the ONLY person of any color beyond the tanning bed session in the room. Sigh.

The Sunday BIG BREAKFAST has been elevated to family tradition along with Christmas Decorations put up starting the day after Thanksgiving (we don't shop, we build) ; the Army-Navy Party & Christmas PJ's. I LOVE IT!

Prince Jordan - Master of the Universe, Heir to the Empire - is coming home on Saturday for Thanksgiving. It is nearly KILLING me to not act like the mom in Transformers2. I am making the necessary Costco run (by request). Anything for the future King.

What your your thoughts this rainy, thundering Thursday?


My Two Peas in a Pod


Tales from Italy - Day 5 - April 27th, 2005

Traveling to Florence

It started off as a wonderful day.. We get up leisurely and go for a morning stroll and then for breakfast at an outdoor cafe. While at the cafe, we decided that Wednesday's is the day when crazy people are let out of the asylum to air out. We had several people walk by that talk to themselves, one man that stopped in front of the cafe and cursed, ranted and raved for about 10 minutes in Italian (too bad we couldn't understand a word he yelled) and you assorted unusuals. It was one of the most entertaining mornings we have had.

We loaded up our luggage to the train station, where once we were dropped off, we were completely clueless. Out ticket is in Italian and the train board is in Italian. I got the trusty HP out with the translation software on it and proceed to slowly but surely, decipher our ticket and
what platform we needed to be on. 30 mins later, I figure it out and we hustle to catch our train. We get to the front of the train and now I can't figure out which car to get on. It is not marked Coach or First Class. Looking like a deer in headlights, this seemingly kind woman takes us under her arm and escorts us to the right car, helps load our luggage, gets us to our seats all for the bargain price of 5 euros each. It was worth it. I was on the verge of a melt down.

The train ride was very pleasant and scenic. We arrived in Florence, found a taxi and arrived at the "hotel". Okay, call me snob, diva, WHATEVER. This hotel is not the Westin- not even close. We get up to our room and we can barely get our bodies let alone the luggage inside the room which consists of two twin beds, a mini bar (thank God) a bathroom that you can't sneeze in or
you'll fall into the bidet and a desk. There is about a 2ft corridor separating the desk from the bed and the bed from the wall. OKAY. I'm trying to deal. No heavenly bed. OH MY GOD - what is a diva to do.


I hauled mom out of the hotel and we proceed to do a two mile march toward the Ponte Vecchio which is a bridge lined with jewelry and other shops. I was so distraught I had to buy myself this
beautiful red leather jacket. After a sob story about how we were suffering and giving a couple of kisses on the cheek, we knocked off 60 euro for a nice bargain. Mom says that if I had let him touch the girls, he might of knocked of another 100. He certainly was eyeing them.

We strolled the two miles back. (I really didn't know that I was dragging mom on a four mile trek). The dogs were talking. We had two beers in the lobby, when the tour buses arrived. This place just sucks. Even the cartoon channel is in Italian. The lobby is supposed to be wifi. NOT.
Intermittent at best and they wont let you buy a computer card for the computers sitting in the middle of the lobby for more than an hour at 5 euros each. Can you say not even Holiday Inn. OKAY so we only have to sleep here.

We went next door for dinner (pizza) which was pretty good by the way, but to ruin the moment in comes 2 more 'yucky Americans' who demanded that the Italian waiter explain the entire menu to them in English. I thought I was going to die. Mom held me back from throwing the translator at them and cursing them for not even trying-no wonder they talk about us. We finished and left.

We are now killing time on the computer in the lobby so we don't have to go to our room.
Tomorrow we will be up for an all day tour to Pisa-and yes I'm making mom climb the thing.

Till tomorrow for the continuing saga of the Diva's do Italy


FREE TOYS Puts Everyone in a Good Mood

Tis the season to be thankful and to be of good cheer. Right now, I need a pick me up myself so what better way to lift my spirits and perhaps that of some blessed readers with some FREE TOYS!

Ebeanstalk Announces their Cutest Kid Playing-With-A-Toy Contest.
(You know you really don't have a chance cause Princess Cara is THE CUTEST kid - I know, I'm biased - but I'll let ya'll have a chance anyway).

So, here is the deal...

Take a picture of your little one playing with a toy, and email the picture to emily@ebeanstalk.com. It's just that easy.

You don't have to leave a comment (but one would be nice). You don't have to post on FB or Twitter (but passing it on would be friendly). Just take your sweet bundle of joy (ie. RUG RAT) picture playing with a toy - any toy - sent it emily@ebeanstalk.com and you are done.

Be 1 of 10 lucky winners to win a $50 gift certificate at ebeanstalk this holiday. Entries will be chosen on their cuteness-level.

Privacy ensured! Entrants will not be spammed. Do not send your address for privacy purposes - just email and the FIRST name of your child.

For everyone: All blog readers will receive a 10% discount at ebeanstalk of any purchase. Enter the code ebeanstalk100 at the cart!

Ebeanstalk is a website dedicated to selecting great, safe baby toys and kids toys. They rely on the opinions and feedback of bloggers and moms around the country. Also their team of child experts help to pick out unique toys...but you be the judge!

Winners will be picked at random on 12/1/2009. GET YOUR ENTRIES IN NOW!

It Is No Wonder...

Last night the FireMarshall and I went to Stat.ion.9 to help celebrate our GodNeice's 21st Birthday and we both sat there with our mouths hanging open - me clutching my virtual pearls & the FM scowling and ready pull off his belt and begin to azz whoppin on the whole club.

What we saw happening in terms of "dancing" (if you could even call it that) and dress was equivalent to watching soft p.o.r.n live and in living color. We watched as young "ladies" in their early 20's, most of them Ho.war.d U students come to this club dressed exactly like garden implements - STRAIGHT UP HO's. Dresses so frigging tight that it left us with no doubt that they had absolutely NO undergarments on. They couldn't possibly. Dresses, skirts & shorts so frigging short that with one gyration of a hip, we were given proof positive that they didn't have panties on and that the hedge needed to be trimmed. We couldn't understand why they just didn't come in a their underwear or nothing at all. I had more material in my own bloomers than at least 2 girls put together.

However, the dress code (if you could even call it that) was not what really sent me into my Prudish Clutching Pearls moment...it was they way these chicks were dancing. We were absolutely MORTIFIED. We watched as several girls actually bent over at the waist, backed it up, backed it down & all around while the guy de jour tapped that azz to the beat of the music. Then it got so intense, that they would get into a kind of chain to execute what I could only describe as a group chex line (or they would hold onto the pillar if they were near one) - girls would bend over & hold the waist of the guy in front & so on - so that they could get a better grip and apply more force/leverage so the guy could simulate tappin it. I watched as girls would squat down down to crotch level or EVEN KNEEL ON THE FRIGGIN FLOOR while the guy would simulate gyrating his hips as if the girl was doing oral sans ropas. GTFOOH!!!!!!

Is dance floor chex a new dance move? We watched as the young college girls that had the whole life ahead of them dress and act like garden tools. We watched in horror as these girls (one was freakin so hard she blew two buttons off her dress - and asked the girl sitting next to me for a safety pin - WTF For?!!!) did their best performance for a chex film entitled College Girls Do Entire Club. I simply could not fix my face for one more minute of these shenanigans. The FireMarshall looked at me over the top of his glasses and that was the cue for us to roll out.

It is no wonder, no surprise AT ALL, that a more than a fair share of men these days treat women like hoo.kers, talk to them any ole kind of way, treat them like dirt, maybe even hit on them. NO WONDER.


Ladies...if the shoe fits, wear it. However, we have GOT to do better. If those are your shoes, get new ones.

You can't expect a man to treat you with respect if you don't treat yourself with respect. You can't expect to find Prince Charming in the man you let hump you in a night club and then passed you to his buddies like a piece of meat. He WILL NOT be taking you home to meet mama. You can't expect to behave like that and then expect him to see the nurturing, beautiful woman you are who will be the mother of his children. Stop acting shocked when the man you were chexing up in the club calls you a Byatch or worse when in the heat of an argument. You already set the standard of behavior.

Men are pretty simple creatures when you boil it down. They are hunters. They learn how to hunt different prey through experience. They learn what they can and can not do/get away with in order to have a successful hunt. The way they hunt for a quick meal is vastly different from the way they hunt for the future Mrs. Gatherer. I know for a fact that a man can look at me and KNOW that I AM NOT THE ONE to come at with some craziness or jedi mind tricks. It is all in the respect I have for myself, my demeanor, my carriage, the way I dress etc. However, the ladies doing the stuff & dressing the way I saw last night are setting themselves up to be quick prey; thrown to the side with your entrails hanging out on the side of the road. STOP IT.

Men won't do right by you till you do right by yourself. STOP IT. DO BETTER. NOW.

I'm just saying. What you think?


Random SideEye Opinions on Internet Opinions

If you are going to put a post up about something you did or are contemplating doing and ask your audience to give their feedback on it....IF YOU ASK FOR AN OPINION...
  • expect to get some.
  • expect that not everyone is drinking your brand of dumb ish Koolaid.
  • expect that not everyone is going to co-sign on bad behavior & bytchassedness
  • expect to get a few opinions opposite than your own brand of crazy.
...and if those opinions are given in a respectful manner (no cussing or name calling) then don't get your panties in a damn bunch and call those people "haters" or worse. Seriously.

If you can't handle the fire, then get out the damn kitchen and stop asking for opinions/advice from virtual strangers.

It seems as if more and more people, especially on these here Internets, are just a bunch of passive aggressive wimps that can't have a decent, mature, rational discussion regarding conflict or issues. Get a pair...Please!

I suppose I'm filled with hateration. Yeah, whatever.

Anybody who knows me, knows that I jacked out of the Matrix a long time ago and am just a crazy azz "nice lady". Don't let the cute smile fool ya.

If asked, I speak my mind and am not going to babysit, pick & choose my words, walk on eggs sells around you, etc. etc. so as to not possible hurt your feelings. If you are doing grown folk stuff then I'm going to talk to you as a grown folk. PERIOD. If you can't handle my shot glass of truth, delivered in a respectful manner, then perhaps you should go back up on the porch with the puppies. STOP WHINNING, stop complaining, sniveling about your lot in life and why things do ever change...blah, blah, blah. Assess your situation, review the advice received (from your wisest Top Mafia), do your due diligence and MAKE A COMMAND DECISION. This business of lying on that nail IS childish. Grown folk doing grown folk stuff need to get off the porch & run with the big dawgs if you plan on having a decent, rewarding life.

Don't shoot the messenger cause you are trying to drink the hard stuff when you are still on the baby bottle.

Get yourself some pabulum (intellectual nourishment) and straighten your spine. Mkay?

Jeeze people.

Let's band together and STOP GLOBAL WHINING!