Verizon = FAIL

Verizon does NOT make progress every day and in fact, they were a big fat fail on that whole customer service thing. So one of the phone lines in my house went down. No dial tone. No nothing...AND NO, there is no dial tone at the junction box either so the problem IS with ya'll stuff (despite the fact that your autobot says there is nothing wrong with the line).

So finally I get a live person on the phone to schedule a service call...The earliest they can come out is....

Wait for it....

February 24th or 25th.


What if that line was connected to my alarm system? What if I was elderly and needed that line to call for help? What if I need to use the damn phone? A MONTH.

And you still want me to pay my bill?...Oh, you'll give me a credit. SURE YA WILL.

A MONTH for service? How'd you feel if I took a month to pay? Bet you'd cut that phone off PDQ, huh.

VERIZON - you are a NO GO at this station. FAIL.

Famous Family Resemblance

There is this thing going on over on FB where you are requested to post a picture of a famous person you look like the most. Some of the pictures have been down right hilarious...if not delusional. Are you serious? Some of them are almost exact replicas. Well, I didn't do it and wasn't planning on it until someone commented on our Christmas photo that we looked like the Huxtable Family from the The Cosby show.

Here is the comparison...what do you think?


On The Menu

I've been doing some cooking lately. Trying to eat out less and to have some good ole family fun. I love the family dynamics, the interactions...I love just laughing and talking with my family and that seems to happen most when we break bread together.

Thus, I've been planning meals and cooking more.

One of our family favorites is something that is fast and easy to put together.
Roasted Veggies.
Don't ask for a recipe. Just pick your favorite fresh veggies, drizzle with some olive oil, season and throw in the oven (400 for about 25 min - if you add some red (or any cubed) potatoes I recommend that you cube them, and microwave for 10 min before tossing in with veggies so they are done when veggies are). We usually do broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, carrots, mushrooms and sometimes add a meat (beef cubes or chicken - or both). I also season with Mc.Cor.micks Montreal Steak Seasoning. You pick your own, this is what we like. It is absolutely delish.

Also on the menu this week was Gumbo. I pulled out CreoleInDC's Simple Gumbo Recipie and opened my Good Housekeeping Cookbook (my Gma gave it to me when I got married 23 years ago - yep, I still have it and use it) and put it together TravelDiva style. Since I wanted to make this on a weeknight where we had a lot of other stuff to do, I adjusted so I could make it in my crockpot.

I have found that crockpot cooking is the jack of a solutions to a busy lifestyle. It removes any excuse about either not cooking cause you don't have time (work, kids activities etc) or not exercising/spending time with friends & family/participating in an activitiy - blah, blah, blah. You see, you throw it in the pot, turn it on low, go do what ya gotta/wanna do and WHA LA! -a couple of hours later (or less) - Meal Time.

For the gumbo, I started at about 4pm, took 30 min of prep time (chop to pot), walked away to a school play and other stuff and at 7pm we were having the most absolutely devine gumbo EVER!!!

Here is a synopsis of what I did with my alterations:

  • I ended up using two crock pots with the recipie as is. You will have to half it if you want to make it and it fit in only one LARGE crock pot. I have 3 on hand, 5 if I include my moms.
  • I used Swanson Organic Chicken Broth
  • Pour broth in crock pot & turn on high while you prep all the other ingredients. Heats up the broth while prepping.
  • I added some "Island Creole Seasoning" that I had bought in St. John to the broth. Season as you like. We like spicy.
  • Chop, cube all of your ingredients and have ready.
  • Make Roux
  • Add peppers, onions, celery, garlic to roux and saute for 10 min
  • Add mixture to broth, add all of your meat (we did crab, smoked sausage, shrimp & chicken)
  • Cover, leave on high for approximately 2 hours or chicken is cooked thru.

I have to say it is even better the next day.

So, what's on your menu?


PREVIEW: SOTU Talking Points

SOTU Talking Points
Rescue, Rebuild, Restore - A New Foundation for Prosperity

· The President is going to talk directly to the American people about restoring security for middle class families after a lost decade of declining wages, eroding retirement security and escalating health care and tuition costs.

· The President will talk to the American people about steps we need to take to build on the work we did this past year to bring the economy back from the brink of a depression. While the worst of the economic crisis has passed, for too many American families and businesses the wreckage remains.

o He’ll call on Congress to pass a jobs bill to jumpstart private sector job creation with:
§ Investments in small businesses,
§ Investments in Green Jobs and clean energy;
§ Investments in road, bridge, rail and port projects; and
§ Policies to spur more exports of American manufactured products.

· The President will talk to the American people about meeting the challenges that have hurt middle class families, and those who aspire to it, by building a New Foundation of prosperity for American families and businesses.

o He’ll call on Congress to pass Education reforms that transform families and strengthen the country;

o He’ll call on Congress to pass meaningful Financial Reforms that hold Wall Street accountable, makes sure no bank is ever too big to fail and provide clear rules of the road that give the American consumer the clear information they need to make financial decisions;

o He’ll call on Congress to enact Energy Reform that creates the jobs of tomorrow, increases our energy independence and reduces pollution;

o He’ll call on Congress to enact fiscal reform that recognizes that the deficits and debt exploded the last decade before the President took office. He’ll propose measures to deal with the costs of bringing the economy back from the brink of a depression and call on Congress to engage in the bi-partisan work required to address the debt that was accumulated in the last decade.

o He’ll ask Congress, Democrats and Republicans, to continue the work on health reform. He’ll remind all members that premiums will continue to rise; businesses will continue to drop coverage and more families will deal with insurance company abuses if we don’t act.

· The President will also speak directly to the American people and to Congress about changing the way business is done in Washington so that the American people know that their interests always come before the special interests. He’ll call for more transparency so that the public is always aware of what’s being done on their behalf.

· The President will talk about his efforts to better protect the American people. After inheriting two wars and a growing terrorist threat, he will review the steps that he has taken to increase the pressure on al Qaeda, and refocus on Afghanistan. He will discuss the progress made in carrying out his plan to end the war in Iraq. And he will announce a new plan to protect the American people from bio-terrorism and infectious disease.

· The President has renewed America’s alliances and standing in the world. He will preview the progress that we are poised to make as we near completion of a landmark arms control agreement with Russia, and prepare to host a Nuclear Security Summit in April that will rally the world behind the goal of securing all loose nuclear materials. He will also speak about America’s leadership on issues like global economic growth, climate change, and human rights.

· For over a decade, American families have been working harder and falling further behind. As college become less affordable; retirement savings become less secure; home values plummet; health insurance premiums and co-pays eat into wages and the cost of living explodes, the standard of living for American families continues to decline.

· While they meet their responsibilities and play by the rules, they have seen the special interests and those with political access in Washington get farther and farther ahead. Rather than seeing policies that encourage responsible behavior, American families have too often seen Washington reward irresponsibility while passing on debt to future generations.

· The President will talk about the need for change that the American people want and expect. For a decade, American families and businesses have experienced an erosion of the economic security that has been at the core of our prosperity. Tonight the President will lay out his vision on what steps are required to restore that security and how Washington should do its work in a way that reflects the best of our people and our democracy.

When You Catch a Charge with Someone...

...Press Play.

I laughed so damn hard that I couldn't be mad anymore. Bwaaahaaahaaahaaa!!!!!


Friends, Food & Football

Superbowl Sunday is upon us. If you didn't get your Fa.ce.bo.ok invite it was because we are not FB friends or I thought you might live too far away (like in another state) to come over. No intentional slights were made with the invite.

So, if you would like to join us for some cheering & good times with a bunch of great people, watch the game in HD on the big screen (or just hang out) and have great food & libations and didn't get a FB invite, drop me a note in the comments and I'll send you the particulars.

We look forward to enjoying another ANY GIVEN SUNDAY...SUPEBOWL SUNDAY with you.


Shawn's 40th Birthday - Friday Nite was Ladies Nite

Me & The Birthday Girl

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CreoleInDC & @Busy_Diva22

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Take it to the Head, Ladies. Patron for everyone!

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Yeah! That will put hair on your chest.

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Happy 40th Birthday, Shawn

I had a wonderful weekend helping Shawn celebrate her 40th Birthday. From being leered at by old players in flannel (who should know better and try a different tact - cause all of us were WAAAAAYYYY out of your league and weren't biting on any of that tired game) to doing Patron shots, to squeezing into a red dress...a wonderful weekend.

I hope it was everything you imagined and you are recovering nicely. Don't forget to play some slow jams.

We Are Alive In Haiti

Andre Chung, photojournalist and yoga enthusiast...husband to my favorite Bikram Yoga Studio owner -Kat...is over in Haiti documenting through photos the story of the Haitian people after the devastating earthquake.

Check out his website & blog at ACHUNGPHOTO.

His first blog post from Haiti - We Are Alive in Haiti


Who's Talking?

I am cracking up over here tonight. Last week, I put on a workshop for the DC/Baltimore Chapter of National Sales Network (I'm the current chapter president) on Protecting Your Brand while Leveraging Social Networking. Among numerous subjects we discussed, one of them was about putting "alerts" on your web site, blog or other sites/names that effect your "brand". I already used Goo.gl.e Alerts but decided to try out a couple of others...Soc.ial.Men.t.ion and Wh.o.stal.king. The last one is actually Who's Talking, but I kind of like Who's Stalking better.

So, I put in my website on who's stalking dot com and boy oh boy did a lot come up. One that has me laughing was a reference to a Nintendo Girlfriend Party I went to where I received a free Nintendo DSi. A blog posted by a "core gamer" was not happy about these parties and felt that real gamers were getting slighted. Ok. What made me holler was that he referred to me as a shopaholic blogger. Bwaaahaaahaaa.

In one fell swoop, you take "the bloggers with the most to say" and make them not only Nintendo fans but advocates as well. With little provocation, you now have an army of fashionistas, shopaholics, mommy-bloggers, businesswomen, and party
who will all blog about how great Nintendo is and how much fun your games are. Easy publicity and social broadcasting at its finest. Assuming these events produce [measurable] results, they're not a bad investment at all, especially if they bring more female gamers to the fold.

I also found out that I had been tagged in a few posts (pre google reader) from other bloggers and, well, I was a FAIL on responding. Sorry SingLikeSassy..I missed that one.

I found my go.og.le page rank...4...is that good or bad? Should I care?

Maaaannn, be careful what you put out there...I am listed on a Vol.vo website under X.C.6.0 news. Seriously?! I wrote one sentence in a random post that I loved the car and now my blog post is listed on their website as "car news." Bwaaahaaaahaaahaaa!

OMG! I am ranked at #75 on Twi.tt.er.ho.l.ics Top 100 based on updates in Maryland. I MUST have way too much free time. I don't really think I tw.ee.t all that much. WOW!

A website in China has linked back to one my New Year 2010 Handbook post. Damn...I had to translate it to figure it out.

This stuff is awesome, funny, scary.

When is the last time you checked your online presence...your brand? How are you doing?


Friday Funky Randoms

I had a post in my head all ready to go, but stuff happened today that just set me into such an agitated funk- almost sending me to the drawer with the clonazepam. Instead I fixed a pitcher of The Usual Suspect (White Cranberry Juice, Champagne with a twist of lime - trust me, it's VERY tasty), cried a little into the glass, ate horrible junk food that tasted oh, so satisfyingly (is that a word) good, watch the end of Monsters, Inc with Princess Cara and climbed into bed pulling the computer onto my lap.

And here I am with whatever I was gonna write about completely vacated from my mind. I think it was the champagne. I'll just go with some Friday Funky Randoms...

- I hope all of "this" is worth it. I pray I survive it, or at least keep my sanity. What a damn shame it will be if I snap crazy right the day before the big win.

- BofA makes me so damn angry. They have a fee for everything. I have got to figure out a way to untangle the web of direct deposits and automatic deductions and switch to another bank. I just hate them.

- The workshop I went to last night on Protecting Your Brand While Leveraging Social Networking was very informative. I wish a couple of people that I recently had a run-in with would have attended. They would have learned a lot...particularly the part about knowing your audience & you NEVER know who is watching.
  • I can tell you this much...I would never do business with either of those people EVER as they both revealed with their reaction & behavior that they are not able to handle their "business and/or brand" with professionalism or decorum. Period. They both were reactionary & rude, indicating to me that behind the facade they were fakes. Oh Well. Live & Learn.
- Remember you never know who is watching...and doing just that...continuing to watch so they can be there when the drama happens.

- Like watching a train wreck or a reality TV show.

- It was great having Prince Jordan home for Christmas Break, but he has got to go back. Sad Face. My boy isn't a boy anymore. He made me the most awesome breakfast one morning. I'm sure gonna miss him.

- Imma need you to STOP calling me about "putting money" on your Boost phone. What part of NO do you not understand.

- Getting a drug on formulary at a hospital is no small feat. Try doing it at 16 hospitals. This is certainly testing my skills at prioritizing, let alone salesmanship. I'm exhausted.

- The FireMarshall is a very nice man, but some people mistake his decency for weakness and then act all damn surprised when he bites back. Foolish people.

- As for you and the bullshyt you pulled (and are still pulling), don't think that I have forgotten and am not watching how you handle your business. The shenanigans, lies, misdirection and just plain bullshyt you pulled, thinking that you could manipulate and take advantage of certain parties because you have this misguided notion that you are ESSENTIAL PERSONNEL is not going unnoticed and you WILL be held accountable. I recommend you take care of your obligation PDQ before you find yourself on the outside looking in. I have spoken.

- I need a vacation. Maybe I should just run away from home. Tahiti was nice.

- Haiti. My heart is broken. I had to stop watching the stories today...especially after hearing that the 11 year old girl who was finally pulled from the rubble died an hour after she was rescued. I just burst into tears. I pray and pray and do what I can. It's just too much to bear.

- My mother was dealt a job blow this week. She works at a large church as an admin assistant and they decided to make her position part time after 14 yrs. Told her 15 min before the staff meeting. The rest of this week, staff have been coming by telling her that they will "pray for her" and asking her if she will be okay. WTF DO YOU THINK? No, she is NOT okay. And instead of praying for her, she'd rather you PAY for her. Uggaaahhh. I'm sad for her. I know she is hurting, but, boy - she is one tough broad. I'm taking some more lessons.

-Princess Cara snores like she is sawing down a forest.

-Oh, Dear Jesus...I just watched the "body truck" in Haiti dump people into a mass grave. I can take no more.

And I scream. Maybe I'll take that Xan.a.x after all.



There are plenty of family food staples around here at True Blessings and one of them is whenever we watch a football game I have to make the "GO ARMY Nachos". The peeps around here will give me the side eye, stand around shuffling their feet - even pull out the damn pan - to give me the hint that I need to get to steppin and make the damn nachos.

It's a pretty simple recipe. Brown up some sausage (we like the hot sausage), drain, put back in pan, add a can of refried beans and a jar of cheese sauce, stir till bubbling and then pour over some chips. We like Scoops - cause why? - the stuff gets all up in the scoop. Yum. Top with some jalapenos, salsa, sour cream...whatever is your fancy and you have a quick nacho treat. Actually, it is kinda more like a damn meal.

I recently participated in a product spark that suggested using Old El Paso Green Chiles as a simple way to liven up one of my go-to favorites. Hell, why not. I figured I could add them to my GO ARMY Nachos and see what happens. They are supposed to be fat-free and only 10 calories per serving. I've never used them before but I was told that they are not spicy, but would add a unique flavor to my dish that the everybody would surely love!

I was sent an Old El Paso "Tackle the Taste" gift pack that included two free cans of Green Chiles, as well as a football-shaped ceramic serving platter, two sets of football-themed plates, cocktail napkins, and a themed table runner. Check this out...
Well, over the holidays, with a house full of company, I whipped up some my nachos, added the Old El Paso Green Chiles and WHALAAA!!!! DELICIOUS!

They lasted a hot damn minute. Devoured. Guess it was pretty yummy. The Chiles were a nice addition that did give the nachos a little umph. I put condiments on the side so people could add what they wanted and we had a group of happy football watchers. Add Gators famous Rum Punch (which now that I have commandeered the mixology - is actually MY famous Rum Punch) and you got happy, tipsy football watchers. That's what I'm talking about.

Well, I have to share the love so here is another contest for the you. Oh, come on...come out of lurker-ville and play along. It is really simple. Just leave me a comment and tell me how you would use the Old El Paso Green Chiles to spice up one of your recipes.

Everyone who comments will be entered to win their very own "TACKLE THE TASTE" gift pack. Winner will be announced Friday, January 15th. I want you to be able to TACKLE THE TASTE in time for Super Bowl Sunday Festivities (or whatever).

I look forward to hearing about your tasty treats.

BTW - Old El Paso provided me with the free product, information, and gift pack through MyBlogSpark


I meditate, I do yoga, I chant...

...and I still want to smack someone!

Go Figure.

I really need people to stop the passive aggressive bytchassedness. I really need people to own their own messiness. I really, really need people to STOP thinking they can just pop off at the mouth with flippant comments meant to try and steal another persons joy/accomplishments... I also need same person to STOP acting all shocked, with indignation and feigned innocence when they get their azz tagged right back and/or called out for that bullshyat.


I just hate that phony bull. I HATE passive aggressiveness. I want to STOMP OUT bytchassedness in all forms from the earth. Sigh.

A recent email just set me to wanting to pull out the tazer and tap it on someones neck - fo sho. Don't sit there, send me an email with no salutation, no introduction - no nuttin - and then smart off about with "In the future, if you plan on sending out an email to the entire distro list, you might want to try using spell check if you want to impress anybody." (actually, the word WAS NOT spelled wrong, it was missing a letter at the end making the tense wrong - I DID use spell check azzhole) DA HELL!? You didn't even sign the message either - punk.

I appreciate constructive criticism & feedback, but that delivery was just downright rude. And since I didn't know the person at all, it made it all the more rude to me as I had no context to reference it against. If that had come from someone I knew or had a relationship with, then I could read it again a couple of times and try to "hear" that persons "voice/tone" before I had a reaction. SIGH Not the case this time.

I replied to the sender with a message that basically said "While I strive for perfection in all my communications, use spell check and edit before hitting send, errors do still occur. My error does not in any way diminish the accomplishment sent." Essentially, I really didn't care if I had a word in the wrong tense that made the note writer unimpressed - not a damn. Boy, Bye.

Well, this idjit sends me a message back all upset that I reacted to his "thoughtful" message. ARE YOU SERIOUS? Thoughtful. Here's how thoughtful would have sounded:
Congratulations on the accomplishment. Just in case you didn't notice, one of the words was misspelled. I wanted to point it out in case you were planning to send this out to other media outlets. Happy New Year."


I would have been, OH! Let me get right on that. Thank you for the look-out.

This joker actually accused me of sending my reply to the whole distribution list (which I did not) and told me that he was outraged that I would react this way to his "thoughtful" message. Then he requested to be removed from the distribution list because "he doesn't have time for this kind of behavior."

BOY, BYE. You have been removed.

I don't have time either.

I think I'm going to have to do a double tomorrow before I shank somebody.



Bikram Yoga - Can it do all that in 60 days?

I walk into Bikram Yoga Columbia today to get started (more like contemplate) on the 60 Day Challenge - it is day 2 of the challenge and I have to do a double this week sometime. I was kinda hemming & hawing about doing the challenge but I managed to drag myself over to my studio in this freezing hawk. I told myself "I'll see how I feel."

The minute I walk into the studio - "TravelDiva, you are doing the challenge, right?" and from several more people - "Did you see the article in "O" Magazine?" Well, as a matter of fact, I had not. Come to find out, nobody had actually seen/read the article. Most thought it was a blog thing talking about one woman's experience doing the 60 day challenge. Everybody was going on and on about how I had "done that already" (click link to go back and read my post about my very first challenge) and I should write to Oprah, etc. etc. It was very flattering and I was like "hell yeah, we should do something on the studio site and chronicle this 60 day challenge."

Well, Bikram Yoga Columbia's finest instructor and studio owner, Kat, was already on top of it. She plans to take all of the participants photo's and measurements, do pictures and testimonies along the way with a grand finale at the end. FABULOUS. You know, of course, I will have to put in a blog post or two along the way.

As for the article in "O"...on the way home from class, I stopped at the store and picked up the magazine to check out what all the broo-ha-ha was about.
"She 's 80 pounds overweight, divorced, out of work, [depressed] and deeply in debt. She needs a physical and spiritual overhaul. Can 60 days in a Bikram hot-yoga studio really undo years of damage?"

The article is well written and I laughed my azz off at some of her thoughts and comments about the 60 days. I have experienced the same damn things:
  • Why does everyone but me have a tattoo. Do I need one? What would I get?
  • Will I EVER be able to contort my body (my fat) into a Japanese Ham Sandwich?
  • I really don't want to "look into the eyes of my best teacher" (mine) cause the site is yuck.
  • Will I EVER get to wear little boy shorts and a tiny bra? Do I ever want to?
So, can 60 consecutive days of Bikram Yoga give you a physical & spiritual overhaul? I don't know about anybody else, but for me, the answer is yes. When I couldn't run anymore because my knees were just not having it anymore, when my back was killing me, when I was self-medicating with cocktails and an occasional Xa.n.ax (sometimes together), when my nerves were shot, my weight escalating - I found Bikram Yoga and I found my stride again.

After about 6 months and 1 30 day challenge, I was back to running and completed the Clydes 10K, my back no longer hurts, I still have cocktails but not the pills. When my nerves get bad, I go to class and I'm finally losing some weight.
"They learned, as I am learning, that the body begins to crave Bikram - the heat, the moves, the comfort of healthy discomfort."

I couldn't agree more. I have yet to find an exercise this intense that requires so much focus, that clears your mind, that gives you permission to think only on yourself and your well being. A workout that not only transforms your body but your mind.

I love it.

Why don't you join me and see what 60 days of focus on YOU can do? I promise you won't be disappointed.