Summertime Delight

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Disclosure_Image This summer has been a whirlwind! I recall counting down the days way back in January and wondering about all the fabulousness that would be happening when the full heat of the sun would encapsulate Florida.

I also knew that this summer would be hard work. But, in a good way. 

We began our summer with some amazing trips. First to Washington D.C. where I attended the United State of Women Summit and the following week, we were off to Hilton Head with my BFF where we enjoyed 6 days of girl age appropriate girl time that we'd never enjoyed before.

Bliss, y'all.

In between the road trips, the summer work days and the Frog Princess declining to attend all but one week of dance camp, I've been furiously working behind the scenes to buy us a home.

Through it all, there's been one constant: cafe! And with the summer heat open for business, it's my favorite time of the year to make a change. I go from hot to cool with International Delight Iced Coffee.

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I have two favorites: Mocha and Caramel Macchiato. Between the hours in the car, the ups and downs of showings for the house (I saw 14 houses in 1 day!) and the mandatory pool time, iced coffee is my go-to delight in the summertime. Not only do I get my yummy flavors but I get them at a temperature that will not contribute to the imminent heat stroke I could possibly suffer should I decide to leave the house with a hot beverage in-hand.

Though I do not have final word on the home buying situation, I have to confess that I am visualizing myself in a big backyard, comfortably seated in the early morning light with a good book and a glass of Caramel Macchiato in-hand.

Man! I can't wait to put down some roots, draw notches on the door frames as the Frog Princess grows, and continue to look forward to hot summer days and cool summer drinks.

Do you have a go-to drink in the summer?

If you need help picking a go-to drink for the summer then check out ID's amazing Instagram & drool-worthy Pinterest. You won't be disappointed.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

Don’t Nobody Bring Me—Black Eyed Peas!

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My girl Chandra from Gullah Girl In a Modern World had something to say this New Year's Eve and of course, I had to open up my doors to let her speak her truth.  [line]

One thing about growing up in the south, and specifically in the Lowcountry of Georgia and South Carolina, a couple of things we do not fall short of are traditions and superstitions.  Heck, we start the year off with our dos and don’ts of the New Year.  One of the absolute and non-negotiable “dos” of the New Year is that one MUST consume a hearty plate of Hoppin’ John.  This brings me to the title of my blog.

Hoppin John PicNOW HEAR THIS:  Hoppin’ John is made with field peas (sometimes referred to as cowpeas), NOT black eyed peas.  Honestly, I did not know that people consumed black eyed peas for “luck” in the New Year until I moved to Florida.  I moved to Florida in the summer of 1999.  As the year 2000 approached, I began to gather my “luck in the New Year” goods.  I searched every nook and cranny of every chain and corner store in search of red field peas to make a nice pot of Hoppin’ John.  Not one field pea could be found.  I even went to the Caribbean grocery stores and was offered a selection of pigeon peas--though the pigeon pea may be a cousin of the field pea, a field pea it is not. Lesson learned!! So now I either stock up when I visit home, or have my mom ship me an emergency Hoppin John Kit!

In addition to preparing and consuming Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day, there are a few other rules to prepare for the New Year:

  1. You must consume some collard greens if you want those “green backs” (i.e. money) in the New Year. I am not sure if that works, but it is good for your digestion
  2. Clean your house! In the words of my grandmother, “The way the New Year finds your home is the way it will be all year.” I always fail at this one as I never got my home in order and I lived in chaos.  This year, my home is “better” but I am fearful that I will not have a spotless home in 2016.  I think this is impossible with a 7 year old son…but I digress. 
  3. Don’t wash clothes. This tradition/superstition freaks me out. The saying is that if you wash clothes on New Year’s Day, you will wash someone out of the family. In other words, you will be responsible for the untimely death of Aunt Mae, who happens to be 102.  I’m not overly superstitious, but I don’t take chances with this one.

Now, I have a friend (she’s from west Georgia, bless her heart), introduced me to a tradition about a man has to be the first to cross your threshold in the New Year. When she was single, she would go as far as to wake her neighbor’s grown behind son up to walk through her door at midnight. Hmmm….I think if a man walks across my threshold at midnight, he’s looking to bring more than luck (or a plate of Hoppin’ John)—I’m just saying.   My Peruvian BFF shared the tradition of eating 12 grapes in the New Year for luck--one grape for each month.  Not sure about this one, but I like grapes, so I’ll have a bowl.

But honestly, we are born with the blessings that God has in store for us. John 1.0: 9-10 (KJV) states:

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

To share John 10:9-10 from the Gullah Bible:                                                              

“A de gyate, Ebrybody wa go shru me fa go eenside, dey gwine be sabe.  Dey gwine be free fa go een an come out fa go find green grass fa nyam.  De tief jes come fa tief, fa kill an story.  Bot A come so dat dey kin hab true life, so dat dey kin lib a life ob joy wa heap op an ron oba.” (The New Testament in Gullah, Sea Island Creole, 1st ed. 2005, American Bible Society)

God has a life of abundance and joy for us. It is up to us to be open to receive what God has for us and use God as our guide to get us there.  In the New Year, indulge in your traditions and celebrations, but rely on God to bring you the blessings you desire in 2016.

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Chandra_WatersChandra is a Georgia Peach, ripening in the Sunshine State! She considers herself a bit of a "Modern 'Southern Belle'" with a twist. A native of Savannah, GA, the hostess city of the south, she was raised with values and familial traditions are heavily influenced by her Gullah ancestry.  Chandra’s maternal lineal heritage stems from Hilton Head Island, SC. Now when many people think of Hilton Head, they think of beaches, golf courses and luxurious resorts. In reality, Hilton Head is one of the Sea Islands along coasts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas where Gullah history and traditions still exist among the Native Islanders. Chandra is a member of the 6th Generation of the Burke-Ward family, originating in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Chandra is a wife and mother to the best son in the world. Though currently, residing in Central Florida, she returns to the South Carolina and the Lowcountry area often. Her blog is dedicated to her mother, Brenda, who has taught her the importance of embracing and honoring my Gullah roots.

Spicy Hot Chocolate Delight

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post. All thoughts, opinions and giddiness over spending time with family are purely my own. This is it, people! I get to host Christmas at my place this year. I cannot wait to hug my sister on Saturday.

I love spending the holidays with loved ones. One of the things that brings us big comfort is cooking together and chilling on the couch. I have this great big modular sectional that makes lounging a work of art. So this time around, we will be doing loads of that and loads of catching up.

I don't know about you but in my house catching up must involved food and drinks. Baking is a thing that gets done around here mostly when Titi Q is around. She'll handle that responsibility and I will handle the drinks.

What will we be drinking, you ask? Hot chocolate, of course!!!!! With a twist.

I am thoroughly enjoying the new Hot Chocolate from International Delight.  Here's a quick recipe to delight the senses. I've seen it going around but I like to add a little zing to mine.

[list-ul type="star"][li-row]1 cup (8 oz) of International Delight Hot Chocolate. I prefer the dark chocolate for this one.[/li-row][li-row]1 shot of flavored vodka. This goes well with a whipped cream flavor or coconut. It's up to your tastebuds. [/li-row][li-row]Whipped cream[/li-row][li-row]Cinnamon sticks[/li-row][li-row]One shake of chili powder[/li-row][/list-ul]

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The secret is in that chili pepper. You never think spicy goes with chocolate but it pairs beautifully! I put the vodka into a mug, pour the hot chocolate over it, mix in the chili powder and then I drop some whipped cream on top. If you've never done this before, start with a pinch and taste. I like that this drink can be created individually so you can set your personal spice level.

I use the cinnamon stick as a stirrer and it really brings the flavors of the chocolate and the chili together.

Can I tell you how excited I am to share this drink with my sister! And yes, it goes beautifully with gingerbread men!

Also, I bet Santa would appreciate this drink over plain old milk. Just sayin'!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

Two Tips for Holiday Bliss

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Disclosure: this is a sponsored posts. All thoughts, opinions and holiday excitement are purely my own. Can someone explain how we got here? Like how is it already November? I'm both surprised at how quickly time has passed and excited that my favorite time of the year is upon us!

Things kick into high gear in November with Thanksgiving and the Frog Princess's birthday as it's always right after the holiday. It makes me extra thankful. This is the time when my siblings and I start our annual gathering.

Because titi Q lives in D.C., we trade off holidays. While this year, I am looking forward to a great big Christmas with her, last year, it was Thanksgiving and I will sorely miss our moments together this November.

Most of our time together is spent in the kitchen. We both love to cook and she has a special love for baking. This makes her a popular aunt around these here parts. The simplest things to make? Sugar cookies!

Sugar cookies

[yumprint-recipe id='18'] Last year, we added a little American tradition to our repertoire. Nog! Except my siblings have issues with dairy sometimes so we decided to try out Silk Nog. We already love the almond milk so this was the obvious choice.

This year they've added Silk Almond Nog Pumpkin Spice and Silk Almond Nog Original. Because...yum!

It reminds me of coquito without the alcohol or the calories. At 80 calories or less per serving, it's the perfect beverage to sip on.

After the kid goes to bed (or as she is being distracted by the yummy sugar cookies), my sister and I head to our 2nd favorite place to spend time together. The bed. We have famous bed meetings where we gather on the biggest bed in the house, bring our snacks and ideas and talk our way through both. I cannot recommend this enough. It's the thing I ache for during the year when I don't have her readily accessible to me. We still have bed meetings via Skype but, it's not the same. Mainly because it's not as fun to make our nogtails from a distance. Nogtails, y'all! Real simple:

Take your favorite flavor of Silk Nog, (my new favorite is the almond nog) add a shot (or 2 or 3, depending on what's happened at the dinner table) of coconut rum, throw it in a shaker with some ice, add a dash of cinnamon and serve in a fancy glass. Voila!

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The beauty of Silk Nog is that you can use it to make other yummy treats. Check out these recipes and invite me over when you make them.

Our traditions are seeped in yummy treats and flavors. But it's the sharing of these treats and the spending time together during the holidays that really brings it all home. Quite literally.

The only two things I need for holiday bliss? A little bed time with my sister and a nice cup of Silk Nog.

Do you have any special traditions with your siblings during the holidays?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk . The opinions and text are all mine.

Food and Fun In Orlando

Where can you find food and fun in Orlando? I will give you one hint: Disney. I'm terrible with hints, aren't I? Let's just get right to it because you want these details. It is October and while the rest of the country is knee deep in fall leaves, boot shopping and possibly scraping of windshields (unbelievable!), in Florida it means a few different things. Let me 'splain.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

If you're reading this instead of getting your ticket, I don't know what to tell you. Maybe next year? Listen. To. Me. Now. You have like 3 days MAX remaining for this most awesomest, fantabulous Halloweeniest party ever. I'm going to tell you all right now (don't tell the Frog Princess) that every time I go to this party, I feel like I am done with Halloween. Like done. Because it can't be beat. Real Halloween cannot beat the Halloween Party. Let me just mention that it's the ONLY time of the year where adults are allowed to dress up. Check out the "If Princess Leia ever came to Disney with her kids, this is totally what she would rock" outfit.

Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival

My level of excitement about this festival is about a 13 on a scale of 1 - 5. Where do I begin? Oh yeah, the food! Let's list my favorite 3, 5, 7 dishes*:

Australia: Grilled sweet and spicy bush berry shrimp with pineapple, peppers, onions, and snap peas.

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Brazil: Escondidinho de carne, “Little Hidden One”: layered meat pie with mashed yucca.

Dominican Republic: Pretty much, the entire menu because YASSSS!

  • Lechón asado: Roasted pork with mangú, pickled red onion and avocado
  • Soufflé de yuca: Yuca soufflé topped with griddled cheese
  • Pescado con coco: Seared grouper, pigeon peas and rice with coconut sauce
  • Caramel flan with rum-roasted pineapple

Souffle de Yuca with Grilled Cheese

Caramel Flan with Rum Roasted Pineapples

Farm Fresh Market: Loaded mac ‘n’ cheese with Nueske's® pepper bacon, cheddar cheese, peppers and green onions. Because who needs anything else for dinner?!

Loaded mac ‘n’ cheese

Patagonia: Roasted Verlasso salmon with quinoa salad and arugula chimichurri. Y'all, this salmon was everything I ever hoped a salmon would be. And the chimichurri sauce? Help me Geezus I need more!

Patagonia Salmo

Oh and let's talk about the Chew Lab. It has me trying to find liquid nitrogen on the internets so I can recreate this little number (but only in the middle of the night when I can't just drive over and grab some of these. I introduce you to liquid nitro chocolate almond truffle with warm whiskey caramel. Read it again, go ahead. I'll wait!

Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle

And the wine? I mean, if the food looks like this then, you know. Wine flights, beer flights, Mami flig...okay, you get the drift.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Oh wait! There's more! Eat to the Beat concerts left and right. Yes, baybee! You can get your groove on while getting your grub on. You're welcome!

I love that we have more time to hang out at Epcot so, give me a call when you're on your way there, mmmkay?! This is definitely a perfect Mami's Day Out.

 

MNSSHP_TMNT_Princess*These are my favorites because they have made it to my mouth prior to my stomach punking out on me and wanting no more food. I will keep adding to this list as long as I can try new things before I get full.

Disclosure: I attended a Media Preview for the Food and Wine Festival. That being said, I am also an annual passholder. Why you ask? Because I can't miss the awesome. All thoughts, opinions and return trips, are purely my own.