Work Week Chic

Hi guys! I love dressing up during the week because it just adds a little oomph to my work motivation and environment, puts me in a good mood, and makes me feel good inside. And of course it gives me a chance to take some amazing selfies. Here are a few of my work week outfit highlights from this week:

work week chicwork week chicwork week chic

I love a good set of fall colors to spruce up the day experimenting with color palettes so I love playing with bolds, prints, and solids as well as various textures.

Ruffled top: Not sure where I got this but it was a gift from my sister a little while ago and I just love pieces that you can dress up or down.

Jacket: NY and CO about 5 years ago. I love that it’s structured and I can mix and match it with so many pieces and that it has held up so well over the years.

Pants: Bebe about a year ago. I love the color and how fun these pants are. They are super comfy and they add a pop of color and sophistication to whatever I pair it with it.

Shoes: Bloomingdales. com. These are Vince Camuto and they are so fun, girly, and fabulous and for the most part very comfortable.

Accessories: A mixture of Alex and Ani, Bourbon and Boweties, and a wonderful charm bracelet I inherited from my grandmother.

work week chicwork week chicwork week chic

Dress: I actually just got this dress not too long ago from one of my favorite boutiques, Touch Dolls. I absolutely love how fabulous and sophisiticated, affordable, and fun their pieces are. This houndstooth dress is versatile enough to go from day to night and is meant to be worn off the shoulder but since I was going into work I pulled the shoulders up and made it work. It’s definitely a flattering piece for any shape.

Shoes: Michael Kors pumps with gold metal studs that I bought from Dillards about 3 years ago on clearance. One of my favorite pairs of heels.

Accessories: A collection of pieces from Alex and Ani, Bourbon and Boweties, and a braclelet that I inherited from my grandmother.

 

What are some ways you love to spice up your work week wardrobe? What are some of your favorite pieces? How do you achieve a chic and sophisticated look for work? Leave me a message in the comments below! I would love to hear from each and everyone of you!

Florida Girls take Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival 2017

This past weekend I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the Epcot Food and Wine Festival with my mommy and sister. Talk about amazing! I am a Florida girl and visit Disney quite a bit but had never experienced it quite like that. So much good food and so many good drinks! Overall a cultural and sensory party and a great way to spend time to with loved ones. I will definitely be returning! The only recommendation I would make is to get there as early as possible so that you can enjoy all that all of the continents has to offer.

After paying for admission you can either buy the gift card and load on the desired amount you want to spend, buy a sampler set of 8 tickets and in your party do a sampling of everything that sounds appetizing or you can buy everything a la carte or a mix of the three.

Now here comes the highlights of my trip!

 

Epcot and Food Wine 2017
Top of the Morning at Disney entrance
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
Parking at Epcot heading in
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
What’s a morning without Starbucks?And it’s even better at Disney!
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
The Mouse himself giving us a warm welcome amongst this beautiful garden!
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
First Continent Stop: Mexico!
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
Down Under! First food stop that made it on camera! Australia! Grilled Lamb T-Bone with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies. So flavorful!
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
On to New Zealand! Seared Vension Loin with Wild Mushroom Marsala Sauce and Kumara Puree
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
Lamb meatball with spicy tomato chutney
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
Next Stop! Canada! “Le Calier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
O Canada! Cheddar Cheese Soup with Pretzel Roll
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
Le Slush! Le Passion Martini Slush! My fave! Hello Paris! Bonjour France!
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
Pit Stop in Japan!
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
Hops and Barley New England Lobster Roll!
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
Kalua Pork Slider and Mai Tai! Yummy!
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
A beautiful fountain and set of potted plants in the Caribbean Islands!
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
Mojitos from the Caribbean!
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
Some of the most TENDER chicken nuggets I’ve had in a while, Pineapple Rum Ice Cream, and the BEST croissant doughnut ever!
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
Artisan Cheese Trio!
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
Loaded Mac N Cheese
Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2017
Till next time Epcot Food and Wine!

It was so much fun literally eating and drinking around the world, I literally rolled myself out to my car. If you get the chance definitely check it out! It is quite the dedicated foodie dream!

Foodie Files Jax Edition: Sunday Brunch at Casa Marina

Hi ya”ll! Can you believe that it’s already November? I feel like the year flew by super fast but I am very grateful to have encountered so many wonderful souls in this period of time.

As always because I have a bit of wanderlust and¬† I discovered yet another amazing brunch spot here in Jacksonville. It is Casa Marina one of the oldest and most historical hotels in Florida and America. How cool is that? Not only does this place boast some amazing architecture but also some amazing food and views. It’s an all you can eat brunch with a prime rib carving station, omelette station, eggs benedict over fried green tomatoes, an assortment of cold salads, seafood paella, herb roasted chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, shrimp cocktail, a tropical fruit display, a yummy dessert area, and endless champagne, mimosas, and poinsettias as well as house wines. Truly a Sunday Funday spot. And all under $35! Can we say awesome?!?!?!?!

The food is fresh, yummy, and flavorful and the service is impeccable. My servers always made sure I was well attended to and the vibe is so relaxed with a very beachy vibe and a view of the Atlantic Ocean via their balcony.

I will definitely be back very soon! Definitely worth every penny! I will caution those who are true foodies to pace yourself because you will want to try everything and you just want to make sure you don’t fill yourself to the brim like I did. ūüôā

Casa Marina Sunday Brunch
The banquet style of the brunch layout as the crowd trickled out
Casa Marina Sunday Brunch
Mimosas and chocolate mousse!
Casa Marina Sunday Brunch
Garden salad with house dressing which was absolutely yummy, rice pilaf with salad shrimp, shrimp cocktail and broccoli
Casa Marina Sunday Brunch
Veggie omelette from the omelette station, bacon, breakfast potatoes, eggs benedict over fried green tomatoes, fruit salad, and a poinsettia!
Casa Marina Sunday Brunch
Front entrance! See you soon Casa Marina!

New Recipe Alert: Carrot and Eggplant Fettuccine

I love fall for the fall flavors, colors, and opportunity to experiment with new recipes paired with favorite foods. Carrot fettuccine is one of my favorite recipes to prepare in that it’s so easy, fun, and healthy and it gives you a great way out to get you to have your kids eat their veggies out there to all the mamas who have a struggle getting their kiddos to eat their veggies. You can even include your kids in on the activities by having them help you with the fettuccine pieces whether you choose to use a spiralizer to cut them up or with a knife.

My recipe was relatively simple. I just used some of my favorite spices (salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder) and sauteed other vegetables and cut up about 2 whole carrots into shreds that resembled fettucine or thinner versions of carrot sticks.  And because I am an eggplant lover I added some diced eggplant to the recipe as well to add another portion of protein and some different flavor profile and taste to the recipe.  I then added a tomato sauce with a mushroom to my veggie sautee and let it simmer to absorb the flavor. This was my 2nd or 3rd time making this particular recipe but it was so yummy, cozy, and filling.

Carrot and Eggplant Fettuccine
Diced eggplant. I used this to use half for this recipe and another recipe that I made later on that night.
Carrot and Eggplant Fettuccine
Cutting up the carrots to fettuccine length or style
Carrot and Eggplant Fettuccine
Before sauteeing. Cucumbers, tomatoes, mushrooms,eggplant, and onions
Carrot and Eggplant Fettuccine
Finished product! So yummy!

What are some of your favorite fall foods that are healthy but still delicious?  I would love to hear from you! Leave me a comment or message below!

Growing in Grace: The Journey of Healing through Rejection, Abandonment, Disappointment and Unmet Expectations

This has probably been one of the hardest blogs I’ve decided to write, partly because I rationalized with myself for the longest on how I would write it and whether it was even worth writing. Truthfully, I wrestled with God and myself because I didn’t think I would have the strength or emotional ability to write this. But then, God got me together real quick and made me realize that this life is so much greater than me, ¬†and my feelings but it’s about helping others through their journeys, especially when I’ve been in that place myself and am still here to tell the story to someone else.

This journey doesn’t really have a beginning, middle, or end and that is mainly because emotional healing doesn’t have a definitive end or beginning. Only the person experiencing those emotions can say when they are ready to transition from the very things, people, places, and experiences that caused them pain. But here I am and here we go.

Describing this particular place in my life, a scripture and quote come to mind and proved to be the very writings on my own personal wall of life experiences.

Proverbs 27:6 NLT

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

“In the end we will remember, not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

This became painfully relevant for me as of the last couple of months. I greatly value my spiritual relationship and have been making a concerted effort to cultivate a very intimate and personal relationship with God. I had finally reached a place in my faith and within my faith community that I was open, loving, ready to spread goodness and joy to others. I was experiencing the fullness of life that I had heard so much from others, was the foundation of their burgeoning relationship with God.  Life was far from perfect in my own assertion,  but I was confident and ready to face it with my faith guiding me every step of the way.

healing
Photo Credit: Thelmathinks.com

 

Then life came at me head on. Unexpectedly. Without warning. Ripping away everything that I had considered a constant and something or someone I could depend on. I felt burdened by the weight of my own expectations for myself and what life was currently producing for me.  Although I understood that God still remained supreme in my life and was in control, I was just trying to make sense of things spinning relentlessly out of control.  While I understood his will and purpose for my life,  I struggled with him about some of the events I was experiencing, and if they were actually turning out for my good. There were few people who could empathize with the sense of failure that created in my head, and my steady push to do better for myself. Those who could empathize were out of physical reach and supported me emotionally.  But it still was a tough period to travel through, especially with what felt like uncertainty hanging over my head daily, and weighing on my heart even more intensely.

In addition to dealing with my own issues, and doing my best to stay positive and keep going, keeping the faith, and believing the best, my grandmother passed. Anyone who knows me knows that my grandmother and my maternal grandparents were near and dear to my heart. In the midst of  trying to hold it together for my mother and help her remain strong, I started looking to something that helped me keep going in the toughest of times: my faith and my faith community.

God NEVER FAILED ME. NOT ONCE.  I began to understand, appreciate, expand and look at our relationship in a new light. I began to see him as the loving, faithful, merciful, gracious, good Father that I had read that he could be in my Bible.

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Photo Credit: Kirzart.com

However, much to my surprise, my faith community much like all human beings will do from time to time, left me with a mix of varying emotions, all with some degree of pain attached to them. The long and short of it is that I felt that after hours of spending time together, discussing faith concepts, praying for one another, breaking bread with, feeling loved, and what I believed at the time was acceptance. Then this eerie shift happened.

I suddenly felt nothing but rejection, abandonment, disappointment, and unmet expectations in a time that I really wanted, needed, and hoped for more but got less than I ever could have expected. I expected and waited carefully and ¬†quite patiently for someone to show something more than a shallow expression of forced concern but it never came. ¬† It was like a dagger was driven into my heart. I didn’t quite understand why people who claimed to love me never asked, ¬†“How are you? Do you need something, anything? Are you mentally holding up? How can I be there and walk through this with you?” ¬†It hurt me, in ways that I never imagined that I could hurt. I was so confused because while all the interactions felt real in the midst of doing life with my community, my recent reality had me questioning whether I was tripping, whether I imagined it, or if it was all fake. ¬†A mere mirage. Smoke and mirrors.

It was so lonely, heart wrenching, and heart breaking, just because I had so many unanswered questions. I didn’t understand why a community that I had given myself tirelessly to, took a position of indifference and a laissez faire demeanor towards me. I kept racking my brain to figure out where the breakdown happened, and what I could have done differently. ¬†And I allowed myself to feel this hurt and walk through these emotions. But after feeling terribly, I decided to not unpack and live there. In the midst of all this, I learned and discovered a few wonderful things.

  1. I learned a new level of compassion I probably wouldn’t have realized for others going through difficult times
  2. I realized who was in my corner and fostered a new level of respect and  gratitude for them. I even fostered some new unexpected relationships with people who stepped up and filled the gap in ways that I never could have anticipated during this difficult time.
  3. I began to look at my relationship with God in a new light and realized that he was not like people and still wanted me to spread his love, compassion, concern, and joy as well as,  message of redemption to others.
  4. Everyone has a different capacity to love and to not hold others accountable and feel like there is a fault in you, because others can not meet the level of love you expect from them. Let God’s love be the cup that you receive from and then pour into others.
  5. Don’t create expectations for others until they have demonstrated that they are actually capable of achieving them. Unmet expectations can breed frustration and therefore you can break your own heart.
  6. In difficult times, cling to God like crazy and he will fulfill your needs and give you the strength to endure and heal your broken heart.
  7. Learn to forgive yourself and others, especially with the apologies that you often times will never receive. It’s more for you, than it is for them.
  8. Keep trying and keep going. Everyone isn’t going to hurt you. Even those who hurt you may not be doing it out of malicious intent but just out of an inability to emote in an appropriate way that you need them to, so accept that and release it.
  9. The pain will stop, you will get past this moment, and you will be able to assist someone else and let them know that they will get through this as well and reassure them that they are not alone.

healing

While I am not 100% assured of where this leaves me at this time, I can say that I am learning to walk with God through this period and allow him to lead me to a place of full restoration and finality surrounding this situation.  I pray that God helps those who feel like a man or woman without a country due to not having a reliable faith community to turn to, and that God mends those broken relationships.  I pray he also continues to turn the hearts of his people towards true brotherhood and sisterhood to their fellow brothers and sisters, both in good and tumultuous times.

I pray this ministers to someone who is going through a difficult period and feels alone. I pray that God covers you in his unconditional love and that you remember and are reassured that God is close to the broken hearted and crushed in spirit. I believe that by making myself vulnerable and transparent someone can be guided from the pain of darkness and into the beauty of light.

I would love to hear from you and hear your comments or thoughts so please feel free to comment or leave me a message below!

Foodie Files: Hidden Gems Jax Edition- Jax Beach Brunch Haus

It’s Sunday Funday and we all know what that means. Brunch and relaxing! Jacksonville has an awesome foodie scene that’s way too splendid to not be a part of. My latest hidden gem was Jax Beach Brunch Haus.

I stumbled upon this hidden jewel by chance as I had an appetite built for destruction today and was ready for some quality wholesome food. And boy did they deliver.

Hands down, excellent customer service, good food and great vibes. Live music. Beautiful ambience and a very relaxed but inviting hipster style vibe.

A perfect brunch spot if you want something filling but not too heavy, with locally sourced foods, a great selection of items, great smoothies and awesome cocktails. For today’s selection I had a Paradise City with Hash, T. W. Mexicali and a Southern biscuit.IMG_6686IMG_6687

I didn’t wait long for my food at all and it was quality like everything had been prepared to order and of the freshest quality. All the staff had a warm and inviting demeanor, and the restaurant itself had a very down to earth homey vibe. I am going to make it a plan to check out their espresso and coffee options next time but it is definitely worth a second and third look. You get great helpings for the price and I even had enough to take home leftovers.

The restaurant was formerly know as The Loving Cup Hash House but may be under new ownership and brand management.

I am always excited to find new restaurants that I love and this one will be another that I make a return visit too as well.

What are some of your favorite Jax Foodie finds? I would love to hear from you!

New Recipe Alert: Thai style pineapple mango rice with homemade mango sauce

I just love Thai inspired food and tonight I got a strong craving for pineapples, mangoes, and shrimp so I decided to get into the kitchen and make my own version of a traditional fave Thai dish: pineapple fried rice.

thai inspired rice
Thai mango and pineapple inspired rice

Although my rice was not fried it still had the same effect and was still just as yummy. I used a basic rice with seasonings and scrambled two eggs, sauteed veggies, pineapples, and mangoes, and had already sauteed and seasoned the shrimp.

I was really inspired and wanted to try my hand at making my own mango sauce from scratch which turned out really yummy and did not require a lot of ingredients to make. A simple set of about 12-15 diced mangoes, lime juice, and a dash of organic cane sugar. ( I usually buy mangoes from the frozen food section as they are already cut and maintain their nutritional value and are easy to use in that form) I pulsed the mango sauce mixture in a food processor until it reached the desired consistency and allowed the shrimp, veggies, and fruit to simmer.

homemade mango sauce
Homemade mango sauce!

I also added some black beans for a little extra protein and because beans are a common staple for me when I cook.

After combining all the ingredients, I drizzled the desired amount of the mango sauce and served. Talk about yummy, filling, and a lot of fun to make! In addition it was only about 30 minutes of less that it actually took to prepare this meal and I have leftovers too! For the win!  What are some of your favorite Thai dishes? What are some of your favorite recipes? I would love to hear from you!