Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination

•January 11, 2013 • 1 Comment

The city that never sleeps.  Especially at night.  Times Square is illuminated with the colorful lights from skyscrapers, signs, blinking billboards and NYC’s finest.

Enjoy!

Your Friend Mel :)

Daily Prompt: 32 Flavors

•January 10, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Vanilla, chocolate, or something else entirely?

Nutty Coconut!  This Baskin Robbins flavor is somewhat of a divine nature or at least that’s what’s I choose to believe. Yes, I probably believe in the Tooth Fairy too. Well, I do…her name is usually Mom. So what’s in this irresistible dessert anyway? According to the BR site, it’s coconut ice cream with almonds, pecans and walnuts.  I love it but so does everyone else it seems because for the last three visits to Baskin Robbins in the last two months, (yes, my inner fat girl needed it). Inner fat girl?  Yes. You know how fat girls say ‘there’s a skinny girl dying to come out?’  Well, I have an inner fat girl that’s quite content where she is.  I feed her well.  So anyhow, back to my ice cream story. Every time I have gone to Baskin Robbins for the last three times, they have been sold out of Nutty Coconut. REALLY big sad face.  If you 1) Go to Baskin Robbins, 2) Like coconut, and 3) They aren’t out of Nutty Coconut, then go for it! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed and perhaps you’ll satisfy the inner fat girl or boy in you too! :)

Signing off,

Your Friend Mel

Recruiting for International Dishes

•January 6, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Yes, you read that right.  I am in need of authentic international dishes.  I created a board on Pinterest specifically for authentic international dishes.The goal is to get at least one dish from every country in the world through people I’ve connected with.  Yes, I’m fully aware of recipe websites but I thought it would be fun AND so far I have learned so much in so little time since I started.  Will you help me? If you don’t know what Pinterest is then click on the link that you just passed.  Here’s the link to my board…

If you’re from another country, I would love to find out what authentic dishes you eat to add them on. By all means leave me a comment below with the name of a recipe or go to Pinterest, request to be added to my Pinterest board and pin away so that we can add recipes together. Oh and don’t forget to add to add the name of the country the dish is from. If it’s not your kind of thing, it’s okay.  Feel free to pass it along to someone you know that would be interested.

I’m looking forward to seeing what we put together.

Your Friend Mel :)

Daily Prompt: Resolved

•January 2, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution that you kept?

A New Year’s resolution? What’s that?!  Ah, yes! Do you mean like the one I did last year where I had determined that I was going to find a more challenging workout so that I could start seeing results?  I wouldn’t call it a New Year’s resolution because it was already a goal of mine.  The results?  I found out about a workout that didn’t require weights or bands through a friend and ended up being sore from head to toe for about two weeks straight. Muscles that I didn’t even know existed were sore.  My muscles were so tight that I began to think they were paralyzed in fear the minute they would hear the DVD workout music begin to play.  Ben Gay was my BFF at bedtime. I would lather…no, marinate in it every night. I’m sure you’re wondering what I was doing.

Ben GayLet me start by saying that when the instructor on the DVD named Shaun T. said he was ‘smiling because he loved it’.  I totally hated him.  I wanted to put a picture of his smiling face on a dart board and throw darts at it until my arm would go numb but I couldn’t summon the energy after the Insanity workout to even lift my arm. Ha!  It is very appropriately named Insanity.

Insanity Workout

This is how I remember feeling for the first two weeks of these intense workouts but once I moved past that part and I started seeing results within those two weeks then I was even more motivated to get to Day 60 and see the difference in my physique.  I definitely wasn’t disappointed and I began to see a difference in my strength and endurance. Although I have to admit I was not-so-secretly envying one of the Insanity participants Tanya(who I jokingly call ‘The Beast’).  When I see Tanya(pictured above on the left) come out on the screen, I purposely makes her voice deep and says Beast Mode! It’s been almost a year now since I started the Insanity workouts and I love the fact that when I travel, I just take my workout with me and do it wherever I go.  Did I get the challenge I was looking for?  Absolutely.  I also recruited several friends to begin this workout as well once they were seeing my results. I warned all of them before they start that they will feel like quitting in the beginning but not to give in to the emotions and they’ll be glad they didn’t give in.

There’s a Fit Test that I do every two weeks and I have to count how many reps of certain exercises I’ve done.  My shining moment was the first time that I finally caught up to Tanya aka “The Beast’s” number in just one of the exercises.  That made my day. Now, I do Insanity on the regular.  I actually feel like my day isn’t the same when I don’t do it on a scheduled day.  This is one resolution I have definitely accomplished.

They say that the definition of Insanity is

Definition of Insanity

Well this is one type of Insanity that is an exception.  I did it over and over again and most definitely got great results!!!  Oh and before I forget to mention it, I totally love Shaun T. now.

Signing off now,

Your Friend Mel

Are Those Your Christmas Lights Or Is Your House On Fire?

•December 12, 2012 • 4 Comments

Have you ever seen that one house in your neighborhood that has so many Christmas lights that it looks like their house is on fire?  I have and I thought, ‘They may have to take up a donation to pay next month’s electric bill.’ Of course, I wasn’t moved enough to actually help out or anything but it was an actual thought for about two seconds.  These brightly lit abodes are a source of joy, delight and intrigue.  We get so attracted to the light that we often go out of our way to see them again and again. Driving by them as many times as we could possibly pass by someone’s house without looking like we’re stalking them.  Like the bug in the movie A Bug’s Life, we can’t help but want to go into the light because ‘it’s just so beautiful’.

I love Christmas lights!  I’m sure some people share my affinity for Christmas lighting but some people feel they need to be immersed in them.  How would you decorate if the house pictured below was your neighbor?

Ditto!

Ditto!

Can you blame the neighbor for going about it with a sense of humor that trumps the brilliant display?  They were probably being budget conscious but for the neighbor that didn’t want to be so budget conscious…kudos!  We love the lights too.  Either way as you can see, they both have a sense of humor since the picture was taken by the owner of the house that rivaled one of Disney’s electrical parades.  All I can hear in my head right now is ‘star bright, start light…’  You get my point.  Enjoy yours or your neighbor’s oh so luminous lights with a hot cup of cocoa.  Cheers!

Signing off for now,

Your Friend Mel

Savor the Flavor of A Coco-nutty Treat

•November 19, 2012 • 9 Comments

Have I got a treat for you!  One that will make you loco in the coco once you try it. I’m sure in recent weeks you’ve asked yourself what you will be taking to the company luncheon or your friend’s annual holiday gathering? You don’t want to be the one that brings the soda because you couldn’t think of something to make or be so predictable that everyone knows you’ll be bringing the potato salad again.  Put a little exotic flare to the banqueting table this holiday season. Whether it’s for that potluck luncheon, your social meetup group or your family and friends getting together for a holiday dinner. After all the abundant eating, you may find that having something both light and tasty just might make you the hero/heroine of the hour.  Below is a delicious dessert straight from the Island of Enchantment that will make your palettes salsa dance to life! I tend to make this dish during the holidays or special occasions and always come home with an empty tray. For those of you that are familiar with this dish, get those creative juices flowing and add your own little twist to it.

Tembleque (Coconut Pudding) Recipe

A light and savoring Puerto Rican dessert

Ingredients 

1    Quart of 2% Milk

1    Can of Coconut Milk

1    Cup of Sugar

1/2 Tablespoon of Vanilla

1    Cup of Corn Starch

1/2 Cup of Water

1    Teaspoon of Cinnamon

What you will need

 A Saucepan

A Spoon

A Glassware pan or Dish pan

Cooking Time:            Approximately 15 Minutes

Refrigeration Time:    At least 30 minutes or until it solidifies

Serving Size:              10-14 per tray(depending on the sizes cut)

Instructions

  1. Pour a quart of milk, one can of coconut milk and 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla into the saucepan.  Place a saucepan on low temperature.
  2. As the milk warms, pour the sugar into the saucepan and stir until the sugar melts/blends in.
  3. Place 1/2 cup of water in a bowl and gradually mix in the corn starch(Note: you will need to do this with your hands and not a cooking utensil for it to smooth out and not lump together).
  4. Once you have the corn starch mixed, begin stirring the milk in the saucepan and pouring in the corn starch at the same time.  You must continue to stir the milk mixture or it will get lumpy.
  5. Once the corn starch is completely mixed in, turn up the heat to medium and continue stirring.  As it thickens, continue to stir until it is looking like a pudding.  Have the glassware or dish pan already ready to pour it into.
  6. Pour all that is in the saucepan into the glassware.
  7. Sprinkle cinnamon all across the top and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or longer.  The substance will solidify more than regular pudding.  This is the way it’s supposed to be. (Optional: Cinnamon Sticks on top as decoration)

If you have any questions, please post as a comment and I’ll answer it below. That way if someone else has the same question, they can have it answered as well. Happy Holidays and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Your Friend Mel

How Tyler Perry Made My Day

•November 16, 2012 • 2 Comments

“What!” This was my reaction after my brother shared ‘The News.’  Since you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me take you back to the beginning of my day.

My big brother said “You are not going to believe what happened.” I said “what?” and he said “I’ll tell you when we get into the car.” It was the carrot dangling on the end of the stick. He was trying to get me to hurry up and finish getting ready because as it was, he is well aware that when a woman says she needs five more minutes, she’s using the same time scale as a man when he says there are five more minutes left til the game ends. He was here to pick me up and I was still getting ready.  I finished up quickly.  Two faint beeps outside later, I ran out the door and yelled “I’m coming!”

I jumped into the car and as I’m putting on my seat belt, I ask.  “So what’s the news?  I can’t wait to hear what you have to tell me.”  He says, “when was the last time that you checked your blog?” I said “Last night, why?”  He says, “First of all, do you know who Tyler Perry is?” and I answer “Of course! I love his work! Why?” “Because Tyler Perry read your blog and ‘Liked’ it on your Facebook page.”  I shrieked. “What! Are you serious?  I think I’m gonna cry!” “Thank you God!” He keeps talking but thoughts are running through my head at the speed of a cheetah and are so loud that everything he says from that point forward is just background noise.   “Tyler Perry liked my blog!” “I wonder if he laughed out loud?” “What was his favorite part?” “Wow! To have a successful writer like him who is inspiring and hilarious like my writing is such an affirmation!”  “Is this REALLY happening?” “He just totally made my day!” “Tyler Perry just made my Friday and he doesn’t even know it!” “God, this MUST be you!” “Thank you, what’s next?”

My thoughts go from “I need to find a job” to “This is it!” “I have enjoyed writing since I was about 9 years old.” I have found my passion!” Now I want to remind everyone reading this that I have quite the imagination so I start fantasizing about how I will write screenplays, more short stories, blogging, songs and poetry, etc. full-time!  I allow myself to dream for a few minutes. Daydreaming that perhaps I’ll even get to work with Tyler Perry one day.  That I would even relate things in Spanish for my Latin people and then I put the kibosh on the beautiful fantasy in my head because I have to focus on the Job Fair that I am on my way to at the moment.  Yet the rest of the way to the college(to make copies of my resume) and then the Amway Center, all I could think about was checking my Facebook as soon as I get home.

Oh no, I’m not just gonna check my Facebook ..I’m gonna update my status.  Let’s see what should my status update say?  How should I announce this without sounding like I’m bragging or something?  Although I am elated and I’m sure they’ll all feel the same way too when they read my update, won’t they?  Of course they will. I’ll be thanking all my family and friends for their support and announce how Tyler Perry had ‘Liked’ my first blog post and then I’d re-invite those who haven’t read it to read it now.  Yes, because if he liked it and he’s a professional writer then you are missing out people! So go check it out, while it’s still fresh and tell all your friends.

So as we’re in the car, I turn to my brother, who is smiling with me and enjoying the moment, all proud of his little sister and I ask him again, “so how do you know that Tyler Perry liked my blog? He says “because Facebook shows it when someone likes your status.” I say to him, “do you know that he is the only one that I have ‘Liked’ from my ‘yourfriendmel Facebook page’?” and my brother says, “No, you have several people that have liked your page” and I agree but I reiterate that Tyler Perry’s Facebook page is the only Facebook page that I have ‘Liked’ from my blog page because I haven’t taken the time to like anyone else or any groups, products, etc  and he was the first one that came to mind.  As I looked at his eyes, I watched a light go on in his head.  Then he tells me not to think too much about it.  Later on in the afternoon after I was home, it occurred to me that my ‘Like’ section displayed Tyler Perry on the yourfriendmel page. My brother doesn’t really use Facebook so in the section where it displays the Facebook pages that I like, my brother mistakenly thought Tyler Perry ‘Liked’ my page.  I smiled to myself because my brother is rooting for me and he saw how elated I was.  Like a little kid at Christmas and he didn’t have the heart to burst my bubble once he realized his innocent mistake.  It warmed my heart…in appreciation for his support for me and his desire to see me happy.  Thank you Big Brother! Oh and there’s something else.

After those few hours of daydreaming and imagining my future, I wasn’t mad at my brother or disappointed that it wasn’t what I thought. I realized that I was STILL elated and enthused even after learning the truth.  Why?  Because I realized that I had allowed myself to dream of something more.  I dreamed of what I REALLY enjoy doing with the God given talents that I have and want to do as a job.  I have spent many years working an 8-5 job in an office and writing on the side just for fun.  Although I am very thankful for the skills I acquired and some of the people I’ve met, as well as much of what I’ve learned, I will be taking these things with me into the next season. I’m giving myself permission to dream again.  It will all come together in God’s timing and with action steps on my part. It’s a small beginning but an exciting one! If you’re wondering…that DOES still mean I need to earn income while establishing my dream so job fairs and employer web sites I’m coming for you.

Thank you God for using Tyler Perry to make my day even though he didn’t even know it.  Lol.  :)  1)Dream, 2)Write it out and then 3)Live it out people!

Until the next time,

Your Friend Mel