The Beauty Of It All.

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Hello Y’all! Hope you are doing well in your part of the world? It’s been great in North Texas right until I remembered that school will be back in session real soon; I literally went from a solid six to a two…on the ‘patience for traffic’ scale and yes, I made that up LOL. Anyways, I am going to savor the nicely flowing traffic with the occasional wreck here and there before the madness begins. The high point of my week has been my discovery of one of my favorite ice cream places very close to my work – simple pleasure of life get me everytime.  But on a more serious note, there has been so much going on in the news lately. The saddest and most horrendous things have happened in quick succession that burying my head in the sand or pretending that it does not exist is no longer an option.

Hmmm…(Sigh)

These days people are afraid of people. Afraid to interact. People react because of a mindset that expects a negative outcome even when there isn’t a threat and I feel we are slowly being conditioned so much so that we isolate ourselves thereby widening the wedge between us as people, as humans. Life is too short to keep walls when there are tremendous opportunities to be gained by interaction and community and I am not just writing this but I am speaking to myself as well. Now, I’m not recommending going out and hugging strangers on the street but just having an open mind about every circumstance we find ourselves in before concluding the worst.  My life Mantra that I try to follow is to:

Give everyone a clean slate…to show you who they really are.

Until then, I feel like we can make use of those freed up brain cells for doing more relaxing or productive things instead of waiting for the next shoe to drop…which in most cases never does; or when it does drop, it’s the ones we don’t expect that surprise us the most.  We live in a fallen world and there will always be bad things or bad breaks happening all around us (and even to us sometimes) but the goal is to be able to see the beauty of life despite the negativity, despite the trials. I’m not a good horse rider but I love love the idea of the blinders they place on the horses head that force it to keep looking straight ahead and not at the noise and distractions happening on each side. I made up my mind a long time ago to not let people, events or bad breaks make me cynical, hardened and bitter. In my opinion, that’s too much power that no one deserves to have over me. I decided not to let a bunch of bad apples ruin the bunch – whatever that means or however it applies to you and I.

Anyways, Fall is around the corner and before you know it, we will start our progression towards the years end. Until I come your way again, stay safe, upbeat and open to the things we do find beautiful in life.

 

Periwinkle Starr

 

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The Baking Frenzy – Cherry Cake and Tea Breaks!

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Hello Y’all!! I hope you’re doing amazingly well in your corner of the globe. The heat wave is on and there’s no getting away from the mugginess and hell-ish atmosphere we are going to be stuck with for the next couple of months.  Trust me when I say we have it ‘nicer’ in North Texas – I had to be in McAllen, Texas (a small town near the Gulf of Mexico)and when I stepped off the plane, I was welcomed with a wave of heat, a tight vacuum of hot air and beautiful palm trees. 🙂 The sunlight over there is pretty intense. Its almost too bright that at certain angles, it can be blinding. But I survived it….and that’s all that matters.  The weekend was all things ’90 Day Fiancé – Happily Ever After Reunion Part 1. And yes, I said PART ONE… hehe. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, please do so. I promise you it will be worth your while…ahem (fake cough), that is if you love reality TV and all the craziness that comes with it!

On a brighter note, Summer is here and there’s fresh fruit every where!! I have been so occupied that I marvel at the time I find in my schedule to bake. I liken it to therapy – but with rewards LOL!  There’s fresh produce everywhere and I cannot do without trying at least one cake recipe that has fruit in it. The only ‘Disclaimer’ I’ll add is that you increase your workout sessions as you enjoy these recipes because the scale don’t lie; and after a while all those ‘placing on carpet versus tile or shaking it immensely coupled with undressing down and even removing your plastic teeth aligners will not save you…LOL!

Recently, I went grocery shopping over the weekend and came upon a deal that was too good to pass on. I got a big bag of lush organic cherries for 1/3 of the price.  I only realized a couple of days later that I had to figure out what I was going to do with them before they started going bad. Something easy and quick is my go to motto for recipes unless I REALLY want to go all out. So I finally decided on a Cherry Cake Recipe in the end, so Cherry cake it was! I wasn’t planning on blogging about it until I was halfway through and it occurred to me that it would be something y’all might like to try so I hope you enjoy the photos however few they might be.

Ingredients:  2 cups fresh cherries (pitted), 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 lemon zest, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 cup regular yoghurt, 1/4 cup milk.

Toppings: Whipped cream, melted chocolate.

Instructions: Pre-heat oven to 350F, grease  and flour 8 inch cake pan. In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Ina separate bowl, beat egg and sugar until fluffy (2-3 mins), add zest and vanilla and beat for one minute. Slowly add oil. Add yoghurt and milk and keep mixing. Slowly add flour a little at a time. Fold half the cherries into the batter and pour into the pan. Top with remaining cherries and lightly press down using a spatula. Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar on top (if you wish). Bake for 40-45 minutes.

The Results Are In!!

This is such a scrumptious cake that you would probably need a fork to eat. Its very moist with bursts of juice from the cherries in literally E-V-E-R-Y bite.

So until I come your way again, be safe, stay healthy and have fun!!

 

Periwinkle Starr

Summers Here!!

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Hello Y ‘all! Its been a while since my last post. I hope you’re doing well in your part of the world? Fourth of July has come and gone. Getting a few days off to rest, be outdoors and not worry about work and deadlines is always nice. Besides, the heat is back and those delicious ice cream flavors are not going to eat themselves now. Its amazing how fast this year has run by, we are already in July and before you know it, we’ll be organizing our closets for Fall and then Winter. I have been trying to get back to being healthy but I find it so hard because when I’m on the road, its so much more difficult to make healthy choices that after a while, you just don’t.

Summers here and one of the things I like to do around this time is evaluate the year from January up to this point. Here are a few things I like to do that I feel will benefit you so stay tuned and thank me in the comment section below…ha ha!

♦      Finances: Look back on all things ‘money’. Are you saving up for the future? Is your debt going up or down and what effect does it have on your credit score?  Are you making wise choices when it comes to money and do you have a plan B just in case something unexpected happens?

♦      Health & Wellness: Are we making the right choices that will ultimately have an effect on our health. Are we staying fit, going to the gym, walking or running on a regular? Are you keeping up with your routine health checks (especially if you’re 30 and up)?

♦       Are You Keeping Up With Relationships, Friends and Family: Always checking in to ‘really’ see how you’re doing with your partner, catching coffee or in my case tea with friends. Going dancing or meeting up for drinks at happy hour really does help take the edge off adulting and everyday living.  Having a good belly laugh does wonders.

♦        Skincare & Lifestyle: These seem like an odd pair but your skin is a mirror image of your lifestyle. Something as simple as getting enough sleep at night, wearing sunscreen, brushing your teeth before bed (I know…no need to roll your eyes but it does matter), not smoking, taking off your makeup even though you’re dead tired or turning down the offer for that third drink that might seem trivial but the benefits (in the long run) are almost priceless. A little here, a little there and a few drops become a huge lake…or so I’ve heard.

♦        Play: Find time to let your inner child out. I recently went whirly balling with a group of friends and it was so fun – my body and I had a come to Jesus moment the next day LOL!! So I urge you to get out, go kayaking, hiking, explore the world around you. Get out of the work-home-grocery-repeat cycle and enjoy!!

I missed writing and I sure am glad to be back!! Feel free to tell me what you plan to do this Summer. Like, Comment and be a Starr Reader! Until I come your way again which will be sooner, be safe and have fun!!

 

Periwinkle Starr

 

Its Fun Day Monday, Let’s Bake!

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Hello Y’all! I hope you are doing well in your part of the world. It’s fun day Monday and what better way to start the work week than with a sweet treat to end a busy day.  I am trying a new recipe that I found online. A big shout out to Tieghan Gerard from Half Baked Harvest, I knew I wanted to make this from the moment I saw the outcome. This is going to be a little bit more complex than the recipes I usually make but I don’t want you running for the hills before figuring out what exactly it is.

Bursting Blueberry Cardamom Buckle!!!

I love blue berries and I think they taste great in E-V-E-R-T-H-I-N-G from muffins, cereal to pancakes. They are rich in antioxidants that help fight against aging and even are known to aid in lowering blood pressure. One of the things that make this recipe so easy to make is the fact that the ingredients are items you already have – lying around in your pantry. The only item I had to purchase was Cardamom and the grocery store brands are quite affordable so no excuses. There are three parts to this buckle. We have the batter, the berries and the crumble. Lets get started!!

Ingredients for the batter

♥ 1.5 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp ground cardamom, 3/4 cup light brown sugar, 1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter melted, 2/3 cup whole milk, 2 large eggs (or alternative), 2 tsp vanilla extract.

The berries

♥ 2 tsp lemon zest, 2 cups fresh blueberries.

The crumble

♥ 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup light brown sugar, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 4 tbsp salted butter at room temperature.

Lets Do This!!

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch spring form pan. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, cardamom and sugar.  Add butter, milk, eggs or alternative, vanilla. Mix together and set it aside.

Rinse the blueberries. Shave the lemon (in my case lime) unto the berries and mix together.  Pour the batter into the greased pan and sprinkle the zest-ed berries unto the batter.

For the crumble, mix together the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Hand mixing works great to ensure an even distribution of ingredients. Sprinkle unto zest-ed berries and bake for 45-55 minutes until golden on top. Let cool for a few minutes after baking and serve warm.

 

I hope you enjoy! Until I come your way again, I remain

 

Periwinkle Starr

 

Boundaries: The Key to a Healthier You!

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Hello beautiful people!! Its been a fun minute since my last post. I hope you’re doing well in your part of the world. I am so excited for the weather like you won’t believe. The warmth is here. There’s more daylight to enjoy and the Duchess of Sussex JUST HAD A BAYBAY!! Anyways just  like I always say, when it comes to the weather, we can never be happy for any extended period of time so I have resigned myself to the new norm – enjoy it until you don’t! This week I’m writing about something that’s very important to our existence as human beings and it’s called boundaries; so grab a cup of tea, some biscuits and get comfy.

In the past, I always thought of boundaries as something on the external, outside of me. Ever hear of the term, ‘they invaded my personal space’. Its often used to describe physical things – separate or outside of ourselves but there is a different way of looking at it. A boundary is something that bounds or limits according to the Urban Dictionary…

My Definition of Boundaries

What I will or will not permit, what I will or will not accept, what I will or will not yield myself to either in my emotional, mental, or physical experience as a human being.

In life, there are things we have control of  and there are  things we have no control over. An example would be setting off on a trip with no control as to what happens after you leave your home to get to your said destination. Whatever comes your way during your journey – you need not get worked up or attempt to burst a blood vessel because – it’s out of your control.

Boundaries are not just physical barriers that we put up to protect, preserve or maintain order but it can also be emotional, mental as well as spiritual boundaries. Without it, we would descend into chaos. Without boundaries, we would be out of sync and we would lack peace within ourselves and I mean the peace that radiates from the inside out not the faux zen with a thriving volcano seething just beneath the surface. Here are a few areas of life where I believe you and I need to maintain healthy boundaries in order to function at our optimal best. If we are lacking or out of sync in one or more of these areas, we might need to take a closer look and re-evaluate our reality.

•   Boundaries Within Families. It is very important to have boundaries between spouses, between parents and children and between siblings because these are the closest points of influence to us. When healthy boundaries exist in a family unit, it’s great but when it’s lacking, it could be hell-ish.

•   Social Boundaries – These are your interactions with people in your social circle. It’s very vital to surround yourself with healthy, upwardly mobile and those who make you grow in ways that pleasantly surprise even you. If there’s drama, gossip, knit picking and all kinds of elementary school foolery; it’s thank you – NEXT according to Ariana Grande.

•   Work/Life Boundaries.  A saying I can never forget says, ‘Work is a part of life. Work is not equal to life’. If you find yourself spending more time at work instead of with family, I believe it’s time to break the cycle and re-establish our boundaries again. By the way, there’s nothing to feel guilty about because we’ve all faltered at some point in our lives and will continue to do so. The goal is to enjoy life and not strive for unhealthy perfection.

•   Mental Boundaries. This is taking responsibility for your own mental health, wellness, and growth. Life happens to everyone and our goal (you and I) is to choose the right things to focus on in spite of our life circumstances. Knowing when to look at the big picture of events and when to zoom in to the fine details of life is key.  Getting facials and massages are nice but being responsible for your own mental growth and overall well being is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.

•   Re-Learning the Art of ‘NO’. Have you watched a toddler that’s learning to speak. My guess is their favorite word is no. Even for the things that they do need..ha ha! Now, that’s a little too extreme but I find that there are grown adults who have literally forgotten the art of saying no. They are bent out of shape and stretched too thin by takers who care nothing about the fact that these kind souls are literally ripping at the seams and cannot muster the courage to JUST SAY NO. We have all been there and done it at some point and there is no shame or judgement here. But a time comes when you come to yourself, you realize that even if you gave all you had including the very last drop of blood in your body to these people or person, it would never be enough. This realization is the beginning of freedom which in turn leads to the re-establishment of boundaries.

So feel free to like and share your thoughts and comments with me. I hope you enjoy the weather while its still ‘nice’ out. Until I come your way again, I remain

 

Periwinkle Starr

Springtime in New Orleans

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Hello Y’all! I hope you are doing well in your part of the world and your week has been off to a great start. The weather has been great!! For the first time in what seemed like forever, Dallasites can finally rid themselves of ‘most’ of their layers ha-ha! This winter was brutal in my opinion and seemed to last longer than winters of the last couple of years. I am so happy to ditch my boots for sandals and heels and I’m just about ready to pack up all my winter gear and reorganize my closet for summer. It almost feels like we can’t ever be happy with the weather. We (myself included) must always look for something to whine about no matter what.

First Time Ever!

It was my first time being in ‘Nawlins’ aka New Orleans.  Looking out at the terrain from my window seat, all I could see was ‘Swamp Land’.  It was waterlogged for miles and it reminded me of a fishing town. Upon landing, the weather was a good 69°F and the air was a little more weighty with a hint of moisture than what we get in Texas. We later had lunch at the famous Johnny’s Po-Boys restaurant which was really good. I never really knew why it was called a Po-Boy sandwich. Well, I learned it was called that because it’s what the poor people ate back in the day. Its a very basic sandwich with the option to have shrimp or fish on it – hence the term fish or shrimp Po-Boy.  The guy behind the counter reminded me of Popeye the sailor man and I’m not kidding.  He was a short  stocky man with curly dark hair. He wore a white apron and had muscular arms with a grunt to his voice that was funny when he barked out orders to the cook in the back who scrambled around while taking orders. Everyone who came in for lunch seemed to know him and make small talk with him while getting their food.

Our group had a few hours to wander into the French Quarter and sight-see before heading back, so off we went. Taking in the ambiance all around me kind of reminded me of the show Southern Charm and the possibility of recognizing any of the cast members from the show as we meandered our way through traffic to get to the famous Bourbon Street. There was music blasting so loud you had to raise your voice to be heard.  The houses were quaint, with the signature wrought iron balconies. There were hanging plants everywhere and one could not help but notice beads in trees, beads caught on bushes…I mean, it was bead central over there. We stopped to listen to some guy do a street jazz performance which was really cool. There were Daiquiri signs on almost every bar we passed and I learned that you’re free to walk around in the open with alcohol. At Jackson Square, we walked pass the monument, art galleries, masquerade and costume shops, street art displays, the St. Louis Cathedral, psychics sitting out in the open, and tons of voodoo shops which was the scariest part because business seemed to be booming with tourist going in and out of the shops. There were  ‘no picture’ signs at the entries so my guess is  that those indulging in the black arts did not want to be identified or photographed. We stopped at the Cafe Du Monde next to the French Market and I tried the signature Beignet (pronounced ‘been-yet’) with hot chocolate (it was 70°F) and it was amazing. Everyone was having hot chocolate in that heat so it wasn’t weird.  This wasn’t festival season so getting around on foot was really easy. I also tried authentic Jambalaya from a no name place which I found to be very savory. It wasn’t long after that we said goodbye to that charming and festive city.

A few pictures

Getting out and seeing different people and places is really interesting. Having the courage to explore the world around you is not always easy but it starts with putting one foot in front of the other. Springtime is here guys and ladies and its time to get out and explore. Until I come your way again, feel free to like, comment and share your experiences with me. I remain

 

 

Periwinkle Starr

Springtime And Fools Day!

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Hello Y’all! It’s springtime already and its been a minute since my last post. I woke up this morning to catch a glimpse of a Blue Jay bird on the oak tree next to my porch. I don’t think I have seen anything as intricately designed and as beautiful, the sight of this bird brought back memories from my bird watching days back in Ohio. Just as I was about to creep closer to get a better view, off it went! I remember living in a small college town that literally went to sleep when school was out made me appreciate the quiet scenic beauty of bird watching.  Some friends of mine have a feeder in their backyard that brings all kinds of birds to the yard (and no, I’m not referring to the milkshake song by Kelli’s ha…ha), but it was a always a sight to behold with everything from hummingbirds to Orioles…pure beauty!

Happy Belated April’s Fools Day!! I hope you got to do something fun to your friends and family. Well, I SURE DID!! A colleague and I saran wrapped two of my co-workers cubicle  for April Fools Day and it was awesome! They were both out of the office the whole week prior and what better way to welcome them back than to have a brand new cubicle,…oh the joys of unpacking everything…ha ha! I mean, nothing was exempt, from swivel chairs to pens, hand cream to monitors, dirty coffee mugs, heaters, plaques even the rice stuffed snowman was not left behind.

The Plot

So BeBe (not real name) sends me a couple of prank options to pick from. We had already wrapped the office managers office last year with Christmas wrapping paper so that wasn’t new anymore. The second option was to newspaper wrap everything but where would we get that many newspapers and we had to act fast because time was of the essence.  The last option was to use saran wrap…he he. That was totally doable especially with a dollar store eleven minutes away from the office, it was a quick trip worth taking.

I get to the store, ask for help finding the goods and I grab EVERY box of saran wrap on the shelf and head to check out. When it gets to my turn, the check-out clerk says “I see you’ve got a whole ‘lota’ wrapping to do huh?” I smiled (showing all teeth) and answered “I sure do”! It was more fun wrapping than I had expected. Come Monday morning, I’m skipping into the office as innocent as the lamb I am and say my usual ‘good morning’. One of them is smiling while the other is still trying to untangle a few ‘brand new’ items from the saran wrap. I nearly died laughing!! They promised to retaliate which will take another year so we still have plenty of time to think up the next prank.

The Bottom Line

Life can be hard sometimes, we need to laugh a little and re-learn the art of playing and having fun. Let me know how your April Fools Day turned out in the comment section below because I will be needing a few good tricks sometime soon. Until I come your way again, stay safe, happy and full of vibrant energy in your part of the world! I remain

 

Periwinkle Starr