Spring Is Here…Easter 2016

 

 

As a wife and a mom, the need to create memories and experiences for the family is always a priority. This year for Easter, we went simple but kept it in the theme of spring.

What doesn’t say spring, more than the presence of flowers? As stated in previous post, we purchase our flowers from Trader Joe’s you can usually find a nice bouquet for around $3.99 and up. The flowers are always seasonal so it is an easy go to for decorations, to set the scene.

The 2016 Easter menu was a mixture of 10% traditional 90% non-traditional.

Appetizers:

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  • Bunny Breadsticks (I know it is not as pretty as the recipe picture…lol)- recipe

 

Main Course:

Honey Baked Ham-info here (This is a childhood nastalga, so why not keep that tradition…)

Roasted Chicken-recipe in previous post

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Accordian Potatoes-recipe here

Garlic & Thyme Green Beans-recipe here

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Kale: (Butter, shallots, salt, pepper, and white wine)

Slow Cooker Creamed Corn-recipe here

 

Dessert:

Carrot Cake Cheesecake (A Hit with the family)recipe here (complete finished product had frosting and nuts. I put nuts on half of the cake because of the kids limited pallets…)

 

This dinner I was not over ambitious. We introduced some new dishes, and enjoyed some old. The most important thing is that we were together as a family creating memories.

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Lessons Learned from this experience:

  • Don’t cook too late and fall asleep, even slow cooker recipes can burn…I had to do the corn twice. I left it in the slow cooker longer than what the recipe called for.
  • When you are confident you can over come a few fears. This was my first cheesecake, and I must say it was not as intimidating as I thought it would be.
  • Getting kids involved (daughter helped with the bunny roles) in the process at an early age, will allow you to pass on old and new family traditions, and everyone feels like they have contributed to the big picture.
  • GRATITUDE! Today is a day were many reflect on a higher power than us, and having the comfort and the faith that no matter what we are going through, we are going to be all right.

 

What are some memories you have from you child hood from spring and Easter?

What new memories have you created with your family?

What are your favorite Easter dishes?

-SynergisticBigEyes

 

 

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Getting Inspired…A Night with Ted…and getting out of the “Defense” cycle.

 

 

I don’t know if I am the only one…however there are times were I have a cycle of being on the defense. What do I mean by defense? It is a cycle that comes around where internally as a woman you are so tired and mentally drained that you become…a little lost, demotivated, questioning purpose, questioning what makes you thrive, questioning if you are enough, trying to find what will keep you going to achieve all that you have dreamed and planned. You are constantly reacting to situations in a defense mechanism, when in normal conditions you would have already executed the situation or task, 10 steps ago.

Externally, when you are on “defense” mode…as a woman you know you have to maintain the same level of performance because so many depend on you 24-7. You cant fail them, you cant let them see you lacking confidence or motivation. You have to maintain that level of certainty and security. You have to still demonstrate that you can achieve, not coast or fail. You have to maintain being on your “game” at home and work because if you don’t push through, you will live with guilt and disappointment of underperforming at work, and letting your family down at home.

When I get to in the cycle of “defense” the cause could be from several things:

1. I have entirely too much on my plate. However, as a person who thrives on doing a lot, my perception of too much is never really understood until its too late.

2. I am off my routine, and instead of having the room to anticipate 10 steps ahead of everyone, I find myself just trying to get through another unfamiliar day.

3. I have not carved out frequent amounts of time to really have down time to build up myself spiritually, mentally and physically.

4. Most importantly, I have not spent the time with who (husband, kids, family, and friends) and what (things and places that bring me joy and peace)…my “WHY” on why I try to achieve so much in the first place.

I do believe sometimes we are given subliminal messages. You read something when you’re meditating in the morning. You hear something on the radio or podcast. You see something on social media. You read something in a book or article. Lately, in articles, books, radio, podcast, and from other women. I am hearing messages of the “defense” cycle . I hear women who are going through or who have gone through this cycle, and there are some common themes…

  • We have not taken care of ourselves enough, where we burn out and we are no use for anyone else. (Which could be a main cause of Heart Disease our #1 killer)
  • We live with a lot of guilt from sacrificing many precious moments with our “why” and we justify sacrificing for career advancement to bring more to our “why”.
  • We loose sight and focus of what really matters in the end.

It’s February, and its still the beginning of the year , and we have time to shift that internal paradigm. What has worked for me to get out of the “defense” mode:

  1. Prayer…for strength, guidance and focus.
  2. Spending time with my husband, kids, family and friends and love on them as much as they will allow.
  3. Force myself to take time out to do absolutely nothing and not feel guilty about it.
  4. Do some cardio, or some form of movement to get my heart pumping and blood flowing.
  5. Go on a vacation (disclaimer: My definition  of vacation is when you can focus on being a selfish adult, and you are not responsible for anyones safety or well being. So more than likely my work phone does not work where I am, and I am in no kid zone, or the kids are in all day activities that you don’t see them until dinner and everyone is happy).
  6. Seek inspiration through others…

I am a self proclaimed nerd, and ever since  one of my mentors pointed me in the direction of TED talks here, that is my first stop (after meditating) for inspiration. I cannot justify paying an obscene amount of money to go to a TED conference, not to mention you have to apply and be accepted to go…So I settled on paying for a movie ticket of there first live stream of the opening session of the conference…

There was an adorable 10 year old girl who opened the session with many accomplishments at a young age. There were also brilliant minds of scientist who are studying the human genomes for medical advancement, and the folks from google moonshot that strive for failure (exceptional concept, opposite of what we normally do) in order to create amazing things (like the self driving car). What really left an impression and inspiration was the talk from Shonda Rhimes. Ms. Rhimes referred to herself as a Titan, and externally she is. She is responsible for over 70 hours of television a week, and the mechanics to accomplish that behind the scenes for us to enjoy is huge. However, Ms. Rhimes is a mom, a family member and friend. Like her, and so many other women, she has experienced what I have aforementioned, and for her she had a year of YES Book Here, that made her a better mom and it saved her career. She had to find what was really important, and shift what motivated her to continue to be the Titan that she is.

It was that talk, that was my final subliminal message to slow down, stop the “defense” cycle. You have to commit and execute to what is important. I still love thriving and achieving in my profession, but I can’t let it trump my family (my why), and me.

 

Lessons Learned:

  • Always take care of yourself first spiritually, mentally, and physically. If we don’t we wont be able to take care or serve others. We wont be equipped to achieve and thrive in what we are aspiring to do.
  • Spend the most time on your “why”. They will love you no matter what cycle you are in. Time is what is important to them not things.
  • Carve out the time for a joyful experience or restful vacation.
  • Jim Rohn, once said  to continue develop yourself, no one can take that away from you.

What are your go to activities or inspiration for getting out of your “defense” cycle?

-SynergisticBigEyes

 

 

 

 

 

A Month of Crossfit

Prior to the new year, I started my lifestyle change so no New Year Resolutions needed. However, a few days prior to the new year, my husband tells me “You and Nya have a free month of crossfit…you start Monday, January 4th.” I had no time to really react and say “Well, I really don’t like cross fit, its quite intimidating and I don’t want to go…

I had to check myself, and understand it isn’t about me…it was about our daughter and building up her strength for track and field (Season started in mid January). It was about me being an example…I had to physically challenge my body, so she can have no fear of challenging hers.

The first day of class, I immediately felt a difference in the class. I did not feel the intensity in the room. We were in a quaint setting, and the class size was small. Once everyone signed in, we introduced ourselves and proceeded with a one hour workout. This would be our new schedule (minus work trips) Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the month of January.

What I liked most about the class, is that it was a foundation course. The last time I went to crossfit, I found myself injured within the first week. This class however, took the time to teach the technique by using a lightweight bar, than transitioning to the heavier weights. The rhythm of the class was 1) warm-up, 2) technique lesson , 3) strength and 4) work out of the day. Very structured, and even though we were not familiar with the exercises, we knew what to expect within the hour.  Our class had a range in physical capabilities, which made everyone a cheerleader and very supportive.

Committing to a month a crossfit at a 5:30pm time slot after work, was difficult. It is easy to let the day get away from you. It is even easier to just go home and commit to work out the next day. I will admit…every time there was a class, a voice in my head would tell me not to go…but once I was there and finished the workout…you guessed it..I felt great. I was sore, but not to the point where I couldn’t walk (my previous experience with crossfit). I pushed my body every time I was there. One Friday too hard with the burpee’s (I hate them) so my back was very sore. This class was not about the weight scale, it was about me being uncomfortable and conquering it. 

The month of cross fit was also an hour every MWF (exception of traveling for work) I got to go through something challenging with my daughter. I am humble to report, that the 14 year old is a lot stronger than me, and every class she lifted the highest in the class (she worked out with the only guy in the class). I was expecting her to complain, and not try, like she does when she works out with her father. In this class, I saw a warrior in her ready for the challenge, and even when it was hard she did not give up.

If you are in The Woodlands, Texas  area…I recommend taking this introductory course at Cross Fit Town Center HERE. This one month opportunity, taught me the proper technique, help me bond with my daughter, and it did not scare me out of future cross fit opportunities. The month of February, I will not be able to commit a full month of classes, however I will challenge myself in another arena…RUNNING (I don’t like running, I’m thinking I actually hate it, and did I mention I also hate burpee’s???)…Progress is and lifestyle is the objective, so another month out of my comfort zone it is.

 

Lessons Learned:

  • Sometimes, you don’t have the luxury to say no, just go for it and accept the challenge
  • You always feel better after a good workout, your mood will change immediately
  • You don’t have time to take pictures of yourself during a Cross Fit workout (reason I have none to share).
  • Cross fit is like a family, everyone is in pain…however, the saying is true…”No Pain, No Gain”

What has been your toughest workout? How did you push through it? What is your favorite physical fitness routine, that you have incorporated into your lifestyle?

-SynergisticBigEyes

Martin Luther King Holiday…Is Much More Than Just a Day Off.

The year was 1994, I was entering the 7th grade. My mom and I, had just moved to a new neighborhood in Michigan. My new school was very different from the schools I had previously attended. There were a lot more people who looked like me, and beyond that there were kids from all over the world. There were more faiths beyond Christianity. Our new neighborhood had churches, temples, and mosques. I have to admit, at the time I was so amazed that there was much more than just black and white.

In my new neighborhood we acknowledged a lot of holidays and was often out of school because of them, however my first Martin Luther King Holiday at my new school, it was not a recognized district holiday. Students that looked like me, would just accept an absence to celebrate the holiday…

I would have expected this from my previous school district, I was one of 6 black students in the entire school, I was often called out of my name (several racial slurs), and was asked by my second grade teacher if I thought a woman or a black man would ever be president. My response to her, was not in my life time…(I look back now, and why would a second grader have to answer that question, and be so discouraged that no one who looked like me would ever have the audacity to be president). I was discouraged because I knew that people who looked like me were barely accepted as leaders in our society. My mother grew up in the South…as a child I would ask her how it was when she was a little girl. My mother shared a story of when she was around 10 years old, she was walking to the store, in a little town in Mississippi…there were workers taring the road, when she walked passed them, one of the workers threw tar on her blue dress. (What kind of a person attacks children?). So knowing that only occurred a few decades before I was in the 2nd grade, I knew our society at a young age had so far to go.

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Back to the 7th grade in my new school with much more diversity…In 1994 so many students called in on MLK holiday, that the district had to respond. I don’t remember all of the details, but several mothers got together and was successful at getting the Holiday recognized. By the time we were in 8th grade, the entire district had the day off, and the birth of United We Walk was born. In 1995, on Martin Luther King Day, we would start the day with a march from the middle school to the High School, and once we entered the High School, there was a program remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, we also celebrated the diversity we were so fortunate to have. I was so proud to be a part of district that continued this new found tradition each year. In my senior year I had the honor of being  a student co-chair for the walk. High School was ages ago, but it is amazing how in 1994, 31 years after the March on Washington, students and parents took a stand in something that they believed…and was successful at impacting an entire district.  The mothers/parents who put in the effort, had such great vision, they created something to show why the holiday was not just a day off…it was a celebration of the Dream that Dr. Martin Luther King had of all people coming together for peace, tolerance, and understanding. I am amazed of what United We Walk has evolved to. here

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The experiences we had in the district with so much diversity, prepared me for life. I learned to get to know people beyond race or religion.  I was able to experiment with different culinary food at an early age. I can remember having open dialogue about each others background, and no one was offended for genuine curiosity. Of course we experienced some ignorance and hate, but the overall experience of attending a school with so much diversity at an early age gave me a wealth knowledge. I do not make assumptions about others who are not like me. It taught me to look at a person as an individual and not a whole group or stereotype. The experience made me want to learn about other cultures and histories, and still be proud of my own. Most importantly, I realized that the world is much smaller than what I initially believed.

When I became a parent it taught me that children “learn what they live,”…We did not want our kids to learn hate, or intolerance. We have taught our children that there are bad people in this world, but their color, race, religion, or country does not make them bad. Horrible behavior is learned and taught by parents, and by other figures that children, young people, look up to.

An example of learned behavior…when my daughter was in the 3rd grade, she started a new school, her previous school was more diverse, however in this new school she was 1 of 10 people of color in the school. Within the first week at that new school, she asked my husband and I if she was black? When she asked me that question, it occurred to me…1. We truly did not describe people by color in our household, we often referred to people by name, or personality. 2. What happened in school, where 3rd graders are talking about color and race, instead of how nice a person is?

I am not naive, and at the time have exposed our daughter to black history (books, museums  exhibits..a few pictures below) and other histories…but until 3rd grade, our daughter looked at people as just people, not as the white, black, indian, asian, latin, etc., kid. As a society, why cant we teach our children to look at a persons values, character, kindness, and intellect, to describe them. We are so much more than just gender and race.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, was a figure of something much bigger. He was not the only person in the civil rights movement who was striving for change. However, he had a true gift of getting people together for the greater good. (One of my favorite Ted Talks on Leadership references Dr. MLK  By: Simon Sinek.) In the 39 years Dr. Martin Luther King was on this earth, he inspired action, he accomplished more in his young age, that many of us could dream of. Because of his ultimate sacrifice, and many others at the time. We are able to vote, enter into public venues, attend diverse schools, excel in corporate America, or entrepreneurship. (note: Not because of our gender or race, but because we have the talent, the intellect, and work ethic…no special treatment…we just have a chance to show what we can do). I do not take that for granted, especially if I have family members who were directly impacted (my mom, and other family members) by the hate, the discrimination, the racism, being overlooked for opportunities when they were well deserved.

 

On the Monday off on Martin Luther King Holiday…lets not view it as just another day off. Let’s view it as a day of sacrifice, progress, and vision. Let’s reflect on how far our nation has come, and how far we need to go. Let’s attend a local event…visit a museum that has an exhibit on the civil right movement….Maybe create an experience where your family can learn about the past…and what we can do to continue to live out Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream….

Lessons Learned:

  • History has demonstrated many groups have had to make the ultimate sacrifice for others to excel in life.
  • Diversity should be celebrated..learn something new about someone who does not think or look like you.
  • Do not pass judgement or stereotypes of a group because of the terrible actions of a small percentage of the group.
  • Don’t be afraid to have difficult conversations, especially if it can help you gain a better understanding of peoples beliefs and values. There is a reason why people say and do things.
  • If you encounter someone who is hateful and ignorant…do not let their stereotypes of you be true…Take a lesson from Dr. MLK, and other civil rights leaders…they chose peaceful demonstrations, instead of violence. By being peaceful and not retaliating, the message of hate showed via the media woke a lot of people up.
  • My second grade self was completely wrong, and I am no longer discouraged of what I or any other smart, talented, ambitious, woman or person of color can become. We owe it to those who fought, and sacrificed so much for us, and for that I am thankful.

 

Do you have the courage initiate dialogue to gain insight? What are you doing on this Holiday to remember the Dream? What lessons have you learned about accepting diversity?

-SynergisticBigEyes

 

 

 

The Young Lady Who Has Taught Me Many Life Lessons

 

Today is January 10, 2016…January 10th is a day that brings several emotions to me each year. January 10th is a day of reflection, a day of gratitude, a day of joyful tears, and most importantly this is the day our daughter was born.

Our story isn’t unique, thousands have surely gone through the same thing, but today I’m choosing to be vulnerable and share our story to inspire someone who may be going through the same thing at this very moment in life…so we are going back down memory lane.

The year was 2001, the end of my sophomore year in college. I was 20 years old, lived on campus, I had no car, and a part time job that paid $6.25/hour. I was involved on campus, I was aspiring to be a physical therapist in the school of Health Sciences at Oakland University.  I just finished being initiated into my sorority and excited to work for the organization. My plan for myself seemed to be on the right track. Yet, in May that year, I found my self pregnant. I was involved with one of my best-friends (now husband), and was not exactly in a committed relationship…

There were several emotions that took place at age 20, we were definitely not in the ideal situation to bring a baby into the world. There was fear, disappointment, shame, and a lot of self doubt…I was afraid because I did not want to be a single parent, I knew how hard that could be growing up in a single parent home (even though my mom did an amazing job)….I was disappointed because I was on the path toward my goals and now they were derailed…I was ashamed because I knew how I would be treated differently by people I cared about…I had self doubt because it was very uncertain how things would evolve…Would I be strong enough to handle all of the obstacles that could occur alone?

After the initial shock, and shorting through my emotions, I decided that the only person and actions that I could control were my own.  That very moment,  it was decided to put my big girl pants on and be an adult.

I created realistic goals to achieve by the time our daughter was born.

  1. Find a New Job
  2. Look into any assistance I could receive
  3. Get a Car
  4. Find a Place to Live
  5. Get back in school and graduate

As I mentioned earlier my plan had been derailed, however being on a small campus we had a great network. I asked around if anyone knew of a place that was hiring that was paying at least 10 dollars an hour. (Now there are several resources on the internet: indeed, career builder, Facebook, etc.)  Being in the greek community an Alpha gave me a number to a fellow Oakland alumni that was a supervisor at EDS. I called and was granted an interview, I had to ask a friend to take me to the interview and pick me up. (Now there is Uber, other ride sharing resources.)  I was fortunately hired as a customer service representative with a shift of 4pm to 1am., a shift I worked my entire pregnancy ( #1 completed within a month of me finding out I was pregnant). 

Still on campus and taking classes I needed transportation to get to my new job. Fortunately, another friend who was also a fellow greek (AKA) was gracious enough to let me borrow her car to drive to work, I was able to do this until the summer semester was over.

Once the summer semester was over, I found assistance by signing up for WIC, here (#2 completed) so I could have essentials while I was pregnant and the baby could have formula when she was born.

I moved in with my older sister, brother in law, and nephews…While with my sister I was able to save money toward getting a car and my own apartment. They were also gracious enough to let me borrow one of their vehicles to get to work…When I was 5 months pregnant, my mom was able to give me some money towards a vehicle, and my best friend now husband) was able to contribute as well, to what I have saved for a car…Pulling those resources, I was able to purchase a car. (#3 completed).

By November I  was  eight months pregnant and approaching my 21st birthday (not what I envisioned for my 21st birthday)….Time was running out, and I still did not have a confirmed place to live. I had placed my name on a list for an income based apartment near our college campus, but still no openings… One highlight, my sorority sisters, sister, and best-friend (now husband) organized a baby shower a day after my 21st, and I had friends from High School, college and work show up. My best friend (now husband) and I were on better terms and working together toward bringing our daughter into this world.

We decided to get an interim apartment, until the one we wanted (wait listed) was open. (#4 completed at 9 months).sc00077c1e

My entire pregnancy physically was not difficult (mentally yes), I was never sick, I didn’t show until was 7 months. However, on the night of January ninth, I went into labor, I experienced symptoms from first, second and third trimester in one night. I was nauseous, pressure was high, and in an extreme amount of pain…I had two epidurals and they did not work…the hospital gave me some other medicine that caused me to only wake up during contractions. Apparently I wasn’t very nice when I woke up during those contractions, however my sands have another story (I do not remember being mean…). I also remember being extremely exhausted. After 13 hours, we had a beautiful baby girl.

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As I mentioned before, I attended a smaller school, so we were a close community. We had several class mates from school show up to the hospital, my mom, and my sister were also at the hospital (Hubby is not from the same state, so his parents came a little after she was born.) Those who needed to be there and could, were there. At that moment, the fear, disappointment, shame, and self doubt..was replaced with faith, and tenacity. I knew I wasn’t alone, our daughter would be surrounded with love. She would have support from family and friends, and most importantly commitment from both parents to be the best parents we could be.

By the time our daughter was age one, I was back in school. I switched majors to Occupational Safety and Health because it seemed I would have more opportunities in the HSE profession…Those first three years of her life, we had so many people that helped us along the way. Watching her while we went to class or work, professors being patient while I brought her to class. Her father working two jobs to make sure she did not go without anything. Both grandparents were amazing…my mother-in-love purchased enough clothes where we did not have to buy our daughter anything for the first two years. My mom was able to watch her, (we knew she would be safe) so we did not have to take her to day care until we were able (we received a stipend from the campus day care when she was 13 months). Her aunts, uncles, family, and our friends from campus truly loved her like their own.

My husband and I were both able to graduate from college ( a few years later than expected…#5 completed). We purchased our first home by the time our daughter was three (2005), and at that time both on our way to thrive in our careers. We  were married in 2008 and our daughter (age 6) was our flower girl. Not only did we make vows to each other, but to our daughter to continue to be committed parents.

If we did not have our daughter at the time we did, I honestly believe we would not be where we are today. I don’t know what my outcome would have been if “my plan” would have proceeded….

I do know …that now that I have a 14 year old young lady, who is smart, beautiful, talented, and loving. I could never imagine life without her.  Our blessing (daughter), made us humble, un-selfish, grateful, and driven to do more with our lives because we were responsible for someone else. I only hope that she will continue to grow as the exceptional young woman she is.

My Life Lessons Learned:

  1. No matter how old you are, you are never prepared enough to be a parent. It is definitely on the job training.
  2. The only actions you can control are your own. You have to strive to be the parent/adult your child will need. Instead of worrying about what your significant other (other parent) will or will not do. Use that energy toward being a better you mentally, spiritually, financially, and physically.
  3. No matter what obstacles are presented in your life, if you have the will and desire, and the faith to get through it, you will. It will be hard, but it will only make you stronger.
  4. Do not be afraid/ashamed to seek help, programs were put in place for a reason. Without programs like WIC, it would be a lot harder for woman to get on their feet and give back to society.
  5. You are not alone, even if you don’t have the other parent or extended family in the picture…there will be someone or a sequence of events that will occur to help you along the way. But you have to be brave and remove yourself from the environment that is not set up to help you.
  6. People seem to help more, when they see you are on a destination. I purposely did not call out names, because I did not want to forget anyone that has helped us, if you were in our lives from 2000-2005, I am pretty sure if you demonstrated a kind action, you assisted with getting us to where we are today. It does take a village, and for that I am eternally thankful.

What is your story? What are some resources that you pulled together to get through a life challenge? What are some lessons you have learned as a parent? What are some things you can celebrate as a parent?

-SynergisticBigEyes

 

Planning a Birthday/Date Night for the Hubby

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January 1, is the New Year, but it is also the day my husband was born.

This year we decided to have a little more fun and go to a supper club have a meal, and see a “show”. We purchased the tickets to The Moonlight dolls show at Prohibition here.

To get into character for the big night, I ordered my husband a smokers jacket  which was a gift for christmas. (Our neighbor has one and they have plans of starting a Distinguished gentleman’s club…another time for that story…)

For my attire…I surfed the internet and came across this lovely blog Beauticurve here, and hijacked one of the outfits she posted in the 2015 Holiday Look Book. I thought the look would be perfect for the evening, and accompany my husbands attire.

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I also reserved transportation, to drive us round trip because it is less of a hassle and it’s a safe bet to prevent sleepy driving.

We originally planned to go with close friends from Michigan but due to airline difficulties they could not make it…(Super Sad). However, we were able to save the day by inviting another amazing couple who we always have fun with, and could also get into character for the night.

The day started with my hubby doing his favorite thing…playing golf. It has become a tradition since we moved to Texas 4 years ago. Talking to him throughout the day, you could hear the smile in his voice being able to do something he loves even in the colder months.

While the hubby was golfing I was running errands and getting ready for the night. I usually you tube looks for inspiration, however I wanted today to be extra special. I had a few items that I needed to replace at MAC, so I scheduled an appointment for MAC to do my makeup.  The majority of makeup counters will do make up for a $50.00 purchase, just call around (Brand of you’re choosing, Ulta, Sephora, Walgreen’s..etc. ). Kenneth did an amazing job. I tried to take notes on what he used because I clearly was not going to purchase all of that makeup..lol (Eyes: Black tie, texture, sketch, naked, swiss chocolate, layin low, feline eye pencil. Lip: Mahogany lip pencil, Spirit lipstick and love nectar lip gloss. Cheeks: Love Joy)

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Before we left for the main attraction, the kids, my mom and I sang Happy Birthday to the man of the day. He got a little chuckle from the sparkling “39” we put on his cake. (Cake and candles from Nothing Bundt Cakes.)

Transportation came to pick up the group and we arrived at Prohibition an hour before the show. The Bar is small and quaint, walking in, you immediately feel the vibe from the era. The cocktails were also fitting for the era. We enjoyed the 20th Century Decadence, and the Lace Slip.( I failed to remember what else was served, the entire drink menu was great!)

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When the 100 year old theatre opened, we were escorted to our table by our waiter who had on a newsies hat, circle glasses, and a well groomed mustache. We ordered oysters for an appetizer (note: they will only serve appetizers if you are early). Than we chose our options from the prix-fixe menu.

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The show was quite entertaining, it was a variety of sketches, burlesque dancing, and cirque de solil acts. The hubby favorite part was the singing… the groups sang a lot of pop, and hip hop to a jazz piano.

The experience at the supper club is definitely one we would want to repeat. The picture below is blurry, but it sums up the amount of fun we had. The smile on my husband’s face was priceless…

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Lessons Learned from the evening:

  • Its fun to do something outside of the box with your spouse/significant other. You may surprise yourself with a new activity you both like.
  • Dressing up with/for your spouse never gets old. Even if it is going out for a quick dinner put on something nice so you both can admire each other all night.
  • Having fun with other couples is a plus especially if you are celebrating something, you will often have stimulating conversations and create memories with your friends.
  • Planning and creating anticipation of an outing for your spouse/significant other brings excitement and a little competition on who can out do the other.

What date night ideas do you have to share? What are epic birthday plans have you done in the past for your spouse/significant other?

-SynergisticBigEyes

Simple New Year Eve Game Day Celebration

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New Year Eve for the past 10 years has been an inside the home event. There is nothing like being in the comfort of your own home and enjoying the people you love the most. New Year Eve 2015, we had a game day menu in celebration of all of the great college games that were on.

7am I had to prep the meat for the Slow Cooker Pulled Pork recipe, if you do not like pork here are some other slow cooker ideas : wings recipe, beef stew recipe, etc.

 

The recipe called for hot paprika, I put hot sauce with paprika for the rub. This was my first time making pulled pork, the recipe was easy and the meat turned out tender and flavorful. The recipe also called for coleslaw, I am not a fan of coleslaw so I purchased  the cole slaw mix from Trader Joe’s, once assembled the sandwich with a tablespoon of BBQ sauce (your choice) the sandwich was quite tasty. I did not have to ask the hubby if it was good or not, as soon as he took a bite, he proceeded to say ” This s*** is good”…

Other menu items for the day…

Black Eyed Peas: I usually cook them in a crock pot, but this time I tried the actual recipe that came on the bag. (Side note: always cook the beans longer than what the bags says).

Brussels Sprouts: I cook them several ways, this time just sautéed them in onion, garlic, diced bacon, and salt and pepper.

Game Day Appetizers…

Baked Brie: Cut up 1/4 cup of sweet onions, and place on top of Brie, bake in the oven on 350 until the Brie ooses. Serve with crackers, toasted baguette,  with a preserve (jelly) of your choosing. A great sweet and savory treat. My 13 year old approved of this one. If onions are not your thing, try this recipe

Chicken Buffalo Dip: I used a version with a few less calories recipe. Here is a link to several other dip ideas. Recipes.

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Frozen appetizers from  Trader Joe’s, or any other local grocery store…just grab what your family loves and bake away. We chose the chicken tacos, mac and cheese bites.

We also cut up some veggies (Did not want to waste food in the fridge), and served with a hummus tray (also purchased from Trader Joe’s).

The hands on time I had with all of these dishes were less than 2 hours, which allowed me more time to enjoy the day/evening with family and friends.

Our treats for the day/evening were cupcakes from Crave Bake Shop here, and a cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes here (In preparation for Hubby’s January 1 birthday). Champagne for the adults, and sparking apple cider for the kids…topped off with NYE trinkets from Walgreen’s and flowers from Trader Joe’s.

A simple refection from the day:

  • “Live, Laugh, and Love,” what else is more important?

What were some highlights from your New Year Eve celebration? What are some traditional dishes you make for a New Year Eve or a Game Day?

-SynergisticBigEyes

2015 Personal Development Highlighted

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What does Personal/Professional Development mean to you? I have found that it just as simple as striving to be a better version of yourself. Through that stride you learn from those who have more knowledge than you in the area you are trying to work on, whether you know them personally or can reach them via a book, podcast, or email blast.  In 2015, there were a few areas of development I focused on and Identified some useful resources to build my own personal team of mentors, sponsors and board of directors…

Subscriptions:

Wall Street Journal-I have been subscribing to the Wall Street Journal since Junior year in college (student price is substantially lower than normal subscription), however I did not truly understand and appreciate the information I was reading until three years ago. Key things to look for is the NEXT thing (Business, Technology, World News). here

Success Magazine-If you are an inspiring entrepreneur or want to focus on your personal development, this is the magazine for you. I purchased one in the airport earlier this year, and I have been hooked ever since. It also comes with a bonus audio cd…great for the drive into work. Sign up for free email blast of weekly inspiration here

Better Box-If you are looking for a recalibration great resource to actively work on gratitude, mindfulness, and other areas. I purchased the one on Gratitude and received a blast each morning of a task to complete, I learned to appreciate myself and others around me. My favorite was leaving little inspiration notes of gratitude in random places and writing notes of appreciation. here

Books:

“The Intelligent Investor” By: Benjamin Graham-Not an entertaining read but a great tool to learn about investing.

“The Automatic Millionaire” By: David Bach-Easy plan to follow, every high school, college student should read this book before stepping into the “real worlds”.

“Smart Woman Finish Rich” By: David Bach (I was clearly on a David Back Kick)…This book every woman should read, unfortunately many of us do not pay attention to the money, and we outlive our husbands/significant others. (He also has a book “Smart Couples Finish Rich”)

“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” By: Patrick Lencion-This book is great for corporate America. Great resource on building effective teams.

“Make a Difference: In the Lives of those you Love, Live with, and Lead” By Dr: Larry Little-This book is great for self awareness and building better relationships through understanding of personalities (similar to Meyers Brigg). Take the free test to see what you are here. Are you a Lion, Turtle, Camel, or Monkey? Once you read the book and take the test you will understand. ( I am a Lion).

“Crucial Conversations ” By: Various Authors via Vital Smarts here (side note: I Read Influencer Last Year). Another great book for Corporate America and Relationship Building. Vital Smarts also offers free webinars.

Want to purchase…Amazon here or Half.com here

 

Podcast: (Life Saver on my work road trips)

  • Ted Talks Business, Ted Radio Hour (Ted Talks are Great period here)-Ted is known for inspiring conversations, and ideas there are thousands of talks waiting to be explored.
  • So Money with Farnoosh Tarobi here– Great 30 minute does of financial inspiration, and sharing of how many successful entrepreneur began in their journey…a lot of heavy hitters are on her podcast
  • This American Life here -This podcast does a great job of displaying perspective, definitely a favorite.

Download podcast here here

Email Blast:

  • Dave Ramsey/Suze Orman/Feed the Pig herehere, and and here-Because a friendly reminder on finances is a good thing.
  • Buzzfeed-Because you have to smile here
  • Fidelity Investments-Free webinars and articles on finances here
  • Tim Ferriss-Love the 5-Bullet Friday here
  • The Skimm– Because sometimes I don’t have time to read the Wall Street Journal, and they update you on world news in a 5 minute read. here

A few lessons learned in 2015:

  • Take time to invest in yourself
  • Identify free resources to gain daily, monthly, quarterly inspiration
  • Don’t take your ideas for granted, they can grow into something amazing.
  • Do a self check on how you are progressing and what can you adjust to be better?
  • Instead of focusing on a huge year goal, focus on what you can work on today and continue to the next day until it is a great habit.
  • Interact with others who think differently than you, you may not agree with them, but you grow an appreciation for tolerance and a different perspective/paradigm.
  • Share and apply what you have learned

What resources have you used this year for your personal development?  I would love to add additional ones to explore to my list.

-SynergisticBigEyes

A Memorable Holiday Meal

Holidays for me are about creating an experience where my family can look back on and just simply smile. Like any other busy household,  work, schedules and instant gratification can make living intentionally easily overlooked.  So when I have the time to create something special I find myself over compensating for the time I am away or distracted from my family.  This year in 2015 I created a strategic plan where I could be mentally and physically prepared to take on a non traditional menu. I love trying new recipes, the  majority of the items I have never cooked before. It was fun trying the new dishes, but I have to admit I was quite exhausted afterwords. I have much respect for all of the chefs out there.

Christmas Eve we started off the festivities with Lamb Nachos recipe and cookies for “Santa”recipe.

After the cookies were set out and our lovely guest left for the evening. I proceeded to make the dough for the pretzel rolls, and made the red velvet cake. By this hour I was extremely tired so my husband had to keep waking me up to check on the cake. (Side Note: Once the cake is out of the oven, place on a cake plate and cover to keep the moisture.) I knew better than to leave the cake uncovered…however when you are tired your tired.

The next morning (6am) I started working on the second phase of the pretzel roll dough, and proceeded to embark on my ambitious menu…my patient and lovely mother was my assistant for the day (Bless her for helping me cut all those onions for the french onion soup). You will definitely need help if you choose to cook items that take a few hours each to make. My family would have not eaten until 10pm if my mom and hubby did not chip in throughout the whole process. A few pictures of the meal and the full menu is below…(I did not know I was going to start a blog, otherwise I would have taken more pictures.)

 

Christmas Dinner 2015

Starters:

French Onion Soup (Cooking Light December 2015)

Pretzel Rolls recipe
Mini Cheese Popovers recipe

Dinner:

Green Beans ( olive oil, garlic, salt, and toasted almonds)
Potatoes Dauphinoise (Cooking Light December 2015)
Creamed Spinach recipe
Roast Beef (Cooking Light December 2015)
Roasted Chicken recipe

Desert:

Red Velvet Cake recipe
Apple Cobbler recipe
Left Over Cookies (recipe link is above)

To top off the day…my mother also enhanced my dinner table by finishing what I started. My mom has an amazing gift of creating a masterpiece out of nothing..she took the seasonal flowers ($3.99)  I purchased from Trader Joe’s and placed christmas tree bulbs in the bottom of the vase and wrapped ribbon around it. Less than 10 minutes we had a simple beautiful centerpiece. Our table was not over the top, it was fit for all of the ages  sitting at the table.

I also want to give kudos to my hubby for cleaning the kitchen afterwards…

A few lessons from the day:

  1. Prepare ahead of time and make sure you have all of the ingredients for the dishes (I forgot the potatoes and had to find a store open on christmas day)
  2. Don’t be afraid to experiment and fail…its fun and you learn what not to do the next time.
  3. Make time to create something special for your family beyond material things.
  4. Be grateful…our daily gifts is someone else biggest dreams.

What were some fun memories and recipes you tried this holiday season?

-SynergisticBigEyes

 

Welcome to My Blog

I’m not a writer and I certainly don’t pretend to be…I am passionate about family, experiences, personal development and creating memories. Which are the various parts that have produced a better me (thus the name synergistic big eyes).  In my opinion we can all learn from each other and appreciate the opportunities and gifts we receive everyday in this thing called life. IMG_6314