Tag Archives: love

Life in Full Bloom this Month

May, a month many of us look forward to for our own reasons…maybe you welcome the change in climate, the holidays we celebrate (Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Teacher Appreciation, Memorial Day, etc.) or maybe it represents something else for you. The rainy blah of April welcomes an exciting and expectant month of May and so far this month has not disappointed one bit!

I had planned to do a Cinco de Mayo inspired spread of delicious foods instead I was whisked away to Grand National Harbor for a romantic getaway by my husband. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend my Saturday night and Cinco De Mayo. We had a beautiful night, a classy and swanky, Voltaggio Brothers Steak House set the ambiance and back drop for a night to remember. The food was pricey but well worth it. My husband’s steak was huge and so tender it didn’t need a knife, I had the crab cake that was mostly crab – that was baked in a metal tin to keep it together. The wait staff made the experience that much better. They made you feel like VIP for the bread you spend.

Our stay in Oxon Hill, Maryland was the best kickoff for a month that has been blossoming into one surprise after the other. We look forward to going back and rekindling our romance right where we left off. If the Grand Harbor is booked, Harborside is literally right around the corner and it was a hit at a great price. Of course it wouldn’t be a trip if we didn’t stop at Potomac Mills Shopping Mall on the way back home. I’ve got one word for you – Deals! There were so many deals, I promise you there is something for everybody in that mall. I even got the chance to make a Unicorn for my daughter at the Build -a- Bear store. That was truly one of the cutest experiences I’ve ever encountered…the care and sentiment they put into crafting your child’s keepsake is out of this world. I ended up making a purple unicorn that smells like cupcakes with a colorful tutu. By the time we had shopped, we were ready to drop, and see our babies.

The week ahead would prove to be a busy one as usual. Teacher Appreciation Week had been on my calendar for months and of course my surprise trip threw me off a little bit. Monday I woke up ill prepared for teacher appreciation and headed straight to the store once I dropped the kids off at school. I had no solid plan but I knew I wanted to send them something daily. I found white paper lunch bags, grabbed some snacks, and drinks. Each day they received a different snack or treat bag and on Friday I sent in school supplies per the schools’ request. Mind you, I have three children in elementary school, and 1 of them has 2 teachers so that was a total of 4 bags each day. The first day I let the kids draw pictures on the bags, another day I found a poem that  I taped to each bag. I tried to make each teacher’s bag as individual and unique as they are. I wish I had taken pictures but it was one of those weeks that I feel lucky that it got done, even if their isn’t a picture to capture the memory. What I do have? Thoughtful messages and thank you cards from my children’s teachers and those I certainly intend to keep. Shout out to the hardworking teachers and staff at Harvie Elementary School! Special thanks to our former teachers Mrs. Bradford and Mrs Raymond. Super special thanks to our current teachers Ms. Dowell, Ms. Brown, Mrs. Brooks-Giles and Mrs. Purnell, all beautiful ladies, inside and out!

With Teacher Appreciation Week out-of-the-way, a full week of activities that now includes basketball practice for the boys at two different schools twice a week. I was happy to return to my norm and happy place in my kitchen, and who would’ve thought that I would have cooked a complete meal on a Friday night? Fridays’ are typically a fast food type of night or a DIY type of meal – meaning it’s everyone for themselves. Yes, my younger kids can make their own food as long as it’s in the microwave or fresh. My oldest son is a Sous Chef in training, so his privileges and skill in the kitchen are a little more advanced. He even has his own apron. The specialty of this Friday, the 11th was southern fried whiting, macaroni and cheese, collard greens with smoked pork neckbones and Jiffy cornbread. My Friday night dinner turned out great. The fish was crispy and flavorful from the Creole seasoning I added to the fish coating. The macaroni and cheese was creamy and gooey. The collard greens were seasoned perfectly, you could taste a hint of the apple cider vinegar and the red pepper flake. The cornbread was moist and cake like from the vanilla extract that I added to the mixture of Jiffy Mix, egg and milk.

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Southern Fried Whiting, Macaroni and Cheese, Collard Greens with Smoked Pork Neckbones and Cornbread

One thing I had done was properly prepare for Mother’s Day as I had been picking up gifts and cards for the past month or so. So I was smooth sailing as Mother’s Day approached and only needed to pick up a couple of things to complete my shopping. The only other thing that was of importance to me was to make sure I paid homage to one of the best mothers I’ve ever known, my Granny. Visiting her grave is always an emotional thing for me. Even though I don’t want to cry when I get out there, I always end up sobbing by the time I’m driving off. I miss her a lot. I knew she would appreciate the yellow roses I added to her headstone. On this particular day it was only my daughter with me, she watched me closely as I cleaned up my grandmother’s plot. I removed the old flowers and brushed the dust off with my hands. I kissed the top of the headstone as if she could feel it in heaven and then I had to leave because it was too hot to be standing out in the cemetery crying, and my daughter was visibly confused by my tears.

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Beautiful yellow roses for my Granny, Mrs. Viola Chambers.

Leaving the cemetery left us hot and sweaty,  and the kids needed something to do. I don’t know what I was thinking but I decided to take them to the splash park in my area. 60 minutes was all I could stand but I’m nobodies fool, I put my bathing suit and shorts on too. There was no way I was going to sit out in that heat and sun without indulging in the cool refreshing water play.

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Fun at the Splash Park with the Youngest Bambino’s.

By the next day – Mother’s Day I was worn from the busy week, when my husband asked what I wanted to do that day my response was simple, “absolutely nothing”. And nothing was what I did that day from the comfort of my bed. I caught up on much-needed beauty sleep and chillaxed catching up on missed shows like “The Last O.G.”. I gorged myself on the 30lb bag of Haribo Gummy Bears I was gifted by my family, a Wendy’s single with bacon combo and brown liquor, lol (Shout out to Loni Love – that brown liquor is the truth). As Ice Cube said, “it was a good day” and there is nothing that I would change about it. What do you get the Mom who truly has it all? Flowers galore, a new cellphone and 30lbs of Gummy Bears (I might be exaggerating a tad but I promise you we are still eating the same bag of Gummy Bears). Even though I wasn’t expecting or in need of anything, I was very delighted by my husband and children’s thoughtfulness.

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Mother’s Day proved to be relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time and rightfully so, I had another jam-packed week coming up with more wonderful delights blooming each day. I woke up first thing Monday morning to be reminded that I had “Muffins with Mom” at the school with the kids. I made it to the school fashionably on time and enjoyed some time with my babies eating pastries. It was a great turnout! There were so many moms, grandmas’, and mother figures – I had to park behind the school and walk around the building. I appreciate their school taking time to recognize us Moms and the roles that we play in our homes and children’s lives.

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A selfie at Muffins with Mom.

I can’t remember how long but maybe a couple of months ago I wrote nominations for each of my children’s teacher’s for Henrico County Public Schools “Heart of Henrico” Contest that recognizes Henrico County employees who demonstrate the heart of our great county. Lo and behold one of my nominations was selected for my son King’s 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Brooks-Giles. As a result Mrs. Brooks-Giles and her entire class would be recorded one day at the school, and on a separate day I would be recorded at my home. Wow, my first filming in years. I can’t remember the last time I was actually recorded but my last notable appearance was in an Arthur Ashe documentary on HBO back in the day. Yes, I am on film being instructed how to hit the tennis ball by the late, tennis great, Arthur Ashe. So anything in between then and now was small beans. I wanted to look good for my new debut to television so I went on the search for a Loctician to hook a sister up. Thank God my search engine took me to Natural Beauty Salon & Spa where I submitted my appointment online late Monday night. Tuesday morning my appointment was confirmed, and before I knew it Mrs. Alecia had me washed, re-twisted and styled. I was ready.

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These locs have been slayed!

     Wednesday morning was a blur, my allergies had kicked my butt and was wreaking havoc on me. The film crew arrived on time but I needed 30 more minutes to let my allergy medicine fully kick in. I couldn’t be on camera sneezing and snotting all over the place. That would definitely not be a good look. With my house in order, the refreshments laid out, and my allergy medicine working I was ready when Mr. Gill and his associate showed back up 30 minutes later. “Always be prepared” is the girl scout motto or at least it was when I was a Brownie Scout. That lesson has stuck with me my whole life, even when I decided the last-minute to cut my grass the Tuesday before. Thank God I did. We had cleaned my house from top to bottom (okay the main floor and the basement/den floor) to prepare for the filming. You can imagine my surprise when they suggested filming outdoors to change-up their normal scenery…inside the schools. I smiled as I thought about all the tidying and straightening up that we had done in preparing of the recording. Still, the yard looked great due to the last-minute cut, and the recording went smoothly. He asked me a few questions, and had me say a couple of lines. I was officially a STAR!

The next day King and his class would be recording their segment of the video and he couldn’t have been happier. Even though it had been raining cats and dogs for days their smiles that Thursday en route to school was as bright as the shining sun. King looked good. He was ready for his debut too.

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We lucked out and was able to finish our week off on a high note. The kids got Little Caesar’s pizza for dinner and I treated the older folks to one of my favorite dishes…Old Charleston Style Shrimp and Grits compliments of allrecipes. This time I used bags of small shrimp and andouille sausage that I had on hand in my deep freezer. It came out spot on point. The Shrimp and Sausage gravy was comforting and sumptuous. The grits were creamy and cheesy at the same time. Together in a bowl – it was heaven on earth. Yet as good as it was, it’s all gone. My husband  demolished most of it overnight. I woke up to one bowl left so needless to say that was my breakfast of champions.

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Old Charleston Shrimp and Grits with French Bread

A distant memory is all that remains of the Shrimp and Grits but it’s okay because I’ve moved on in my heart and kitchen. I am on the cusp of finishing yet another meal – this time – pulled pork, potato salad and collard greens. The pork is done. The greens are almost done and the minute I get up from finishing this blog post I can finish the potato salad.

In the meantime I hope you will sign on to follow my journey – there are lots of great things to look forward to and I can’t wait to share it all with you in hopes that you too are finding new ways to enjoy and live your most pleasant life each day. I’ve got a 10 part post series promoting Self-Care, Health & Wellness coming up that I can’t wait to share with you all. I’m working on a book review, and some other well thought out ideas that I hope you guys find refreshing, helpful or at the very least entertaining. Till next time!

Peace, love and fish grease!

A Very Pleasant Mom of 4, Tameka

#TeacherAppreciationWeek

#HeartofHenrico

#MothersDay2018

#AllRecipes

#FishFry

#Shrimp&Grits

 

 

 

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Happy Spring Break!

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Yay! It’s the first day of Spring Break and I hope you all had a fabulous Easter holiday! No matter where you are in the world, I pray that you had the blessing of experiencing God’s love, the comfort of family and some good food to top it off! To me that is one part of what Easter is about. If you aren’t familiar with the specifics, pick up a Bible (New Testament) and brush yourself up on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the significance in the message and it’s impact on people and maybe even you.

Many an Easter Sunday ago my Granny thought it was important that we (my cousins and I) not only attended church but also showed up in our Easter Sunday best with our tithes and offerings sealed in envelopes ready to hear the message of the miracle and blessing of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I get it now. Even though I missed church today God is alive and He was very much with me and my family today as He is every day. My relationship with God is rock solid so for me Easter is a celebration and remembrance; an opportunity for revival and renewal. I still gave it my Easter Sunday best in the name of Jesus Christ and I think my Granny would have been proud. My dinner came out great (okay there was 1 fail – we will get to that later), my kids had such a great time and my husband loved the food and enjoyed himself. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. I remember when it all came together smiling so hard thinking – Jesus you outdid yourself this time!

Picture it…Richmond, Virginia – Easter Sunday. It was a balmy sixty something degrees outside. The sun was shining. The smell of grilled and smoked barbecue perfumed the air. The youngest Pleasants children sped around the cul-de-sac in the girl Pleasants princess carriage pumped up on sugar while the eldest boy Pleasants played(I will not reveal the outcome of the game) father Pleasants in NBA Live. Mother Pleasants sat in her chair satisfied with the outcome.

Okay that’s a brief rundown of my favorite moment of the day. It was a great day and culmination up to Spring Break. I am so looking forward to sleeping in at least 1-2 days if possible. The before school morning routine is crucial. The struggle is real! Let’s just say that we need this break, okay I need this break. The last few months have felt grueling and we’ve had way more tardies than I care to admit but in the sense of my glass is half full theory – a tardy is better than an absence, right? Right. So again, I need this break. We were getting back on track but Spring Break is a great chance to regroup and recommit. We’re always accountable but we still want to improve where we can. So before we can jump into Spring Break I have to share with you the spectacular meal that I made for my family and friends for Easter Sunday.

It took me a few days to finalize a menu but luckily my deep freezer held a few gems that would save me some time and money at the grocery store. My menu was a Smoked Turkey, Roasted Ham, Grilled Pork Loin, Grilled BBQ Chicken, Smoked Beef Brisket, Hot and Spicy Shrimp Dip with French Bread Crostinis, Macaroni and Cheese, Potato Salad with Bacon, Stuffing and Turkey Gravy, Deviled Eggs, Collard Greens with Smoked Ham, Homemade Dinner Rolls, Sweet Potato Pies and Carrot Cake Donuts. We were gifted a delicious pound cake from one of my neighbors that was a nice addition to our spread.

 

Although this feast turned out great there were a few stumbling blocks to overcome. Let’s start with the fact that I started cooking right after a trip to the mall with my kids and then Wal-Mart. You already know both of those tasks can be complicated alone so imagine how tired I was when it was all said and done around 6ish Saturday evening. Still I was in a good mood to start cooking, so I hopped right in my zone by grabbing my Beatz headphones, charging up my phone and setting my Pandora on rotation. Drake radio station is a favorite play list of mine on any given day. I blessed my meal and my hands before I started and delved right into cooking. I finished around 4ish Easter Sunday but that was after a trip to the store, and grooming and dressing the kids.

Starting so late in the game Saturday evening I made several improvisations to my menu to ensure that we would be able to eat at a reasonable time. Initially our plans included going to church but I can’t even lie, when I walked out the store at 10:47am with the last of my ingredients I knew I could rush home, wake the kids, get them fed and dressed, get myself dressed and leave and possibly get to church before it ended. I didn’t think it was impossible but I knew I would be rushing and irritable throughout the entire process. So I continued on with my cooking trusting that God would deliver me the special Easter message I was seeking like so many people walking into churches all over the world. The first task on the list was to cook the bacon for the potato salad so I cooked that in a foiled covered sheet pan. Another game time decision was to do a mock smoking of the Turkey. If you’ve seen my previous post “Diary of an Amateur Smoker” then you know my last attempt at Smoking was not very successful. I made some modifications to my process per my research and determined that I would need a ton of time in order to properly smoke the turkey, brisket and pork loin. So the turkey was going into the oven with what I call I mock Smoking created with a foil packet of lit hickory pellets and placing it in the bottom of the oven underneath the roasting pan. To elevate the smoked hickory flavor I made a compound butter that included liquid hickory smoke , rosemary, smoked paprika, black pepper, seasoned salt, ground thyme and garlic that I used to put beneath the turkey skin. I covered the bird in vegetable oil before seasoning it with the same seasoning blend. With the main meat in the oven I could focus on other tasks.

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On the stove top I began boiling the potatoes and eggs for the potato salad and the elbow pasta noodles for the macaroni. While I waited on those I put together a simple cheese sauce that consisted of Velveeta Cheese, milk and butter for the macaroni and cheese.  The noodles finished first so I finished the macaroni and cheese by buttering the baking dish and mixing the noodles, seasoning, shredded cheeses and finally the cheese sauce. I mixed it all up, covered it in foil and baked it at 350 degrees for an hour. Once the eggs finished boiling I allowed the eggs to cool briefly before preparing the Deviled Eggs. I found a really simple recipe that called for ingredients I had on hand. I did swap out Paprika for Smoked Paprika and I also sprinkled on some parsley for decoration once done.  I was off to a good start and feeling confident about my spread. Next up was the ham. Luckily I had a petite Honey Ham in the deep freezer so I prepared that according to package instructions. I did sprinkle some brown sugar all over the spiral arranged slices in the pan. The ham needed to bake for roughly 30 minutes so I used that time to fix the collard greens. I sautéed onion, minced garlic and smoked ham neckbones in a little canola oil (of course I ran out of olive oil) and then added in a little apple cider vinegar. I let it heat up and then filled the pot up with water. I then added in chicken bouillon cubes and let the water mixture come to a boil before adding in the pre-washed and shredded collard greens.

 

Next up on the list was the sweet potato pies. I put the sweet potatoes in the oven and let them roast for about 45-60 minutes. Imagine my surprise when I went to retrieve 8 lbs of what I presumed to be chicken wing drummettes when I discovered an obvious blunder when I accidentally picked up chicken drumsticks. And not just any chicken legs – the biggest chicken legs that I’ve ever seen in my life. I was frustrated for about 9 minutes. It was after 12am Easter Sunday and I didn’t want to run back to the store for chicken wings. So I opted to prepare one bag and get the wings later. I continued on thawing the chicken legs for grilling. The potatoes had cooled down which meant it was the perfect time to prepare the potato salad. First the potatoes and eggs had to be peeled and then diced. I used a short cut and used my little food processor to chop the boiled eggs, onion, green pepper and celery into small pieces. With the potatoes and eggs diced I seasoned the first layer of the potato salad liberally with smoked paprika, seasoned salt and black pepper. I then added in the chopped vegetables, mayo, a little mustard, sugar, and sweet relish. You’re going to need your muscles to fully integrate the components of the potato salad. Making potato salad takes a lot of fine tuning flavors to get it just right. With all of the standard ingredients mixed in I then added in my bonus – crumbled bacon. Afterwards my potato salad took its rightful place in the refrigerator where it could blend and come together.

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I know you’re probably thinking when is she going to bed. I don’t know what time I went to sleep but it was after I had taken the rolls out of the oven and brushed them with melted butter. I woke up at 4am on the couch covered in my comforter. I was up and back at it in no time. It was still too cold to go out and start the grill and smoker so I finished the sweet potato pies and put together some Easter treat bags, gifts, and cards. I also did some cleaning and began setting up. By 8am the sun was out though it was still cool. I wrapped up in my husband’s jacket and prepped the grill and smoker. The grill was simple and was hot in no time. In effort to save time and ensure doneness I split the chicken legs down the middle to grill. The smoker was a little tricky but I finally bit the bullet and used a little lighter fluid to help ignite the chimney starter. The lighter fluid was what  I needed to get the flame and temperature right. I modified the use of my smoker for only 1 tray versus the 2 so that I could position the water drip tray on top of a tray instead of directly over the coals. This helped tremendously. Once the drip tray was in position I could position the last tray on the middle rack. My brisket was seasoned with the included seasoning package but I also covered the meat with copious amounts of ancho chile powder, cumin and meat tenderizer and wrapped in foil before it was placed on the inside tray

It was definitely time for another unplanned change. Initially the plan was to smoke the pork loin with the brisket but the 1 tray challenge nixed that plan. The bbq chicken grilled quickly so I wrapped that pork loin in foil and placed it on the grill. (FYI the chicken legs were seasoned liberally with chilli powder, seasoned salt, garlic. meat tenderizer, onion powder, smoked paprika and black pepper and lastly coated with Sweet Baby Rays Honey Chipotle BBQ sauce.) A quick store run got me the last ingredients I needed to finish my dinner. The shrimp had thawed so I put together the Shrimp Dip first. A box of Seapak Shrimp Scampi went in a pan over med-high heat  while I diced some of the medium shrimp. After dicing a quarter of the shrimp I opted to leave the rest whole since I had to dice peppers. I used about a quarter of each – red, green and orange peppers and added that to the shrimp. Once the Seapak Scampi was done, it was mixed together along with cream cheese, shredded pepperjack seasoning, Louisiana hot sauce and creole seasoning. I sprinkled parsley all over the top and baked it at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes till it was bubbly and slightly brown on top.

With the Hot and Spicy Shrimp Dip in the oven I could devote my attention to the Stuffing, Turkey Gravy and Carrot Cake donuts. The gravy was simple. I sautéed chopped onions, minced garlic and the turkey neck in butter. I then added 1/4 cup of flour to that and browned it altogether. I had some chicken stock in reserve for another dish so I added that to the flour and stirred it up. Then I added in the Turkey Juice packet included with my turkey and some additional water. I turned the heat up and watched the gravy bubble and thicken. I used the same chopped onion, in addition to celery and sauteed it in butter before adding in chicken stock. After a quick boil the stuffing mixture was added in and voila, I was almost done cooking and in the nick of time because bellies were getting hungry.

The carrot cake donut recipe seemed easy enough though I had my concerns right off the jump. I don’t cook or bake with yogurt a lot so I was concerned about the consistency of the donut. My family loves carrot cake so this was a good opportunity to display a great flavor profile in donut version. I should have quit on the donut when my attempt to crush the pineapple first and lastly matchstick carrots in the blender. The pineapple worked out but the carrots didn’t and I was running out of steam so those matchstick carrots went in regular. I should probably note that I left the standing mixer running while checking my grill and smoker. I may have over mixed my dough too much but the consistency resembled the description on the recipe so I proceeded with caution. I funneled my dough into a gallon zipper storage bag and cut the end off. I piped the dough into a silicone donut mold that had been sprayed with baking spray. The donut molds were baked on top of baking sheets as directed. They had ample time to cool as I had to stop cooking to get my kids bathed and dressed and rather sharply if I have to say so myself.

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When I returned to my kitchen there was very little to prepare. The Easter eggs had been hidden by eldest boy Pleasants who also looked pretty sharp too. I mixed together the pineapple cream cheese frosting to dip the donuts in. I sprinkled some chopped walnuts over a few and kept the others plain in case my husband wanted to try one. At that point I could relax so I watched the kids run around the house looking for Easter eggs that had been hidden so well, that eldest boy Pleasants had forgotten where he had hidden them all. There was much fun and laughter that our family were able to share together. The food was a hit! Okay there was 1 miss that I referenced earlier – the carrot cake donuts. Though they looked fine – they tasted horrible…to me. The kids seemed to enjoy them just fine though. They scarfed them down till I took them off the table after I tasted them. Everything else was on point. The brisket and pork loin were sliced thinly after they had ample rest time and arranged in spirals. The turkey was carved and everything was out and ready to eat. My favorite dish of the evening was definitely the Hot and Spicy Shrimp Dip. It was a perfect combination of cheeses, peppers and shrimp and it went perfect with the Crostinis. The second fave was the brisket – it was flavorful, tender and moist. On the briskets’ heels was the pork loin.

The rolls came out great. They had great texture and were highlighted with a smidge of butter or margarine. The turkey gravy was rich and supple. It went perfectly over the turkey and stuffing. The macaroni and cheese had a creamy consistency that blended well with the melted shredded cheeses. The greens were good but next time I wouldn’t use the pork neckbones because I did’t the pork flavor I was looking for. A surprising hit was the potato salad with crumbeled bacon. It gave the normal potato salad a little punch of salt and texture. There was something for everyone’s individual tastebuds and no one went to bed hungry. By the time that I ate my food and served my husband the first heated slice of Sweet Potato Pie I was ready to retire to my bed to put my feet up.  After eating my own slice of pie, I retreated back to the kitchen for a slice of my neighbor’s pound cake and I’m certain that I dozed off shortly after that.

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I woke up Monday morning around 4am and watched some television, one of my old favorites Real Housewives of Atlanta and a very hilarious Watch What Happens Live with guests Kenya Moore and Michael Rappaport. Once filled of my Shameful TV fix I found my way downstairs to my desk to start working on this blog and breakfast. Yes I forgot to get breakfast for the kiddos on the first day of Spring Break. They could eat cereal but only 3 of 4 kids will truly eat cereal. So I whipped my Super Mom cape out and managed to throw together Link Sausages, Wildberry Muffins, Mini Pancake Bites (Plain, Cinnamon, Pineapple, Strawberry, Chocolate Chip and Sprinkle) Strawberries and Orange Slices.

 

I started working on this post around 6am this morning, it’s 12:49pm and I’m on my way back to bed for a couple of hours till I have to do something fun with the kids. Can’t forget it’s Spring Break – Day 1. Hope your Spring Break started with a bang, mine’s did. In a day or so I’ll have my full write up of each Pinterest inspired recipe under my She Tried It board.

Thanks for stopping by! Till next time…. be blessed and be a blessing!

Peace and Blessings,

A Very Pleasants Mom

#SpringBreak

#HappyEaster

#familygoals

#EasterSunday

 

#ShareandSpreadLove Officially Began

Sharing and spreading love was the agenda for Valentine’s Day and the perfect start to my #ShareandSpreadLove project. My family is going through coping with a loss right now so it’s definitely a good time to focus on positive things. With so much going on interpersonally the last week or so I did have to scale back my initial plan due to the time constraints. Still I was determined to push through and do something, no matter how small, small beginnings are still a start.

Already tired I still decided to make my family Valentine’s Day mailboxes although it was down to the wire. Lucky for me I had a little quiet time I was able to capitalize on when my husband took my sons to the barber shop. I worked quietly at my dining room table cutting and covering various cereal and treat boxes that I had rescued from my recycling bin while my daughter played downstairs. I didn’t want her to see what I was doing so each time I’d complete a box I’d run it upstairs quietly and stick it in the closet. I did this five times and was pleased that I manage to finish before the boys got back without her spoiling the surprise.

Initially I wanted to crochet over a hundred bracelets to share with my children’s entire school but that requires you to be able to focus on one thing for a long period of time and that never happened. So instead I opted to share the bracelets included inside gift bags that I made for my children’s teachers, principal and front office staff. We included some sweet treats, a novelty pen, the bracelets and a nomination written by me for the Heart of Henrico contest that recognizes Henrico County Public School employees “who possess an uncommon passion for what they do being the Heart of Henrico County”. The gift bags were really cute and the kids had a great time assembling them.

While the kids slept I put together a little “Valentine’s Day Mail Center” in my den of the mailboxes and gift bags. It was well after 2am when I put the final finishing touches with the help of my husband who agreed it came out nice. Initially I wanted to really decorate and personalize each mailbox but y’all already know I was so tired I was glad I had gotten them done and didn’t scrap the idea. In the end I kept it simple, Happy Valentine’s Day followed by their name. There is always some sort of fresh flowers in the house because I love them and that’s one of the things my husband does weekly to express his love. So with beautiful roses already on hand, I borrowed the largest arrangement for the Mail center and left the mini one at my desk. I tossed in some crumpled tissue paper, construction paper hearts and red streamer to jazz it up. All things I usually have on hand, so it was super convenient and affordable. Check out the picture below. Not bad right. I should probably tell you that I stayed up way too late working on this stuff when the next day I was responsible for being a Chaperone for King’s field trip to the Science Museum of Virginia.

 

Still I was pleased with the outcome. When the kids awoke that morning they were blown away and excited. I only gave them their prayer bracelets out of their mailbox as they were going to be able to see the entire contents after school. Everybody looked great in matching red shirts and were amped to get to school to Share and Spread love. With almost two hours of sleep to my name I was only about 7 minutes late arriving to King’s class. We had such a great time at the museum! I was pleasantly surprised that the museum was completely different since the last time I had gone with my oldest son, Fredo on a field trip. The exhibits were interesting and interactive. My group was full of excitement and energy.  We walked, we ran, we rode the elevators, we took the steps, we window shopped and then gift shopped…it was a truly great day with a great group of kids. My sons’ classmates were sweet, respectful and well-behaved. I even Shared and Spread love with them when I bought pencils for each of them to thank them for being such a great group. By the time I was done at school I was almost literally done.

My husband popped up with a dinner proposal that I was too pooped to take him up on and believe me, I love going on dinner dates with my husband. We haven’t had one in ages but I was worn all the way out. Being the sweetie he is he decided to bring the Chinese Buffet home to me. After I passed out on the couch surrounded by children and Valentine’s Day swag and candy he showed back up with grocery bags of General Tso Chicken, Black Pepper Chicken, Shrimp and Broccoli, Beef Peppersteak, Shrimp Egg Foo Young, White Rice, Fried Rice, Lo Mein Noodles, Crab Rangoons and yes he even  got them their beloved sugar-coated Chinese Donuts. It was a masterpiece of proportions on the plate he served me. I could only eat half of the plate.

My romantic dinner for two had turned into a feast of epic proportions for the whole family. How sweet? Even my husband was sharing and spreading love! I hope you’re on board with our #ShareandSpreadLove project. I think I even figured out my next recipients to keep the love movement going.

I pray your Valentine’s Day and every day is filled with all the love you can handle and then some! I’m searching for that next great recipe to try, or maybe I’ll jazz up this blogsite with something totally new.

What I would like to ask you to do is take a moment to pray for someone today, be a friend, lend a hand, console with a hug and always walk in love. I’ll be praying for us all today including the entire Parkland Florida, community and our nation.

God Bless us All,

Tameka

#ShareandSpreadLove

#ValentinesDay

#HeartofHenrico

#HCPS

#PrayforParkland

And let us not forget…love

So the other night I was sharing with my husband my small victories that I have been experiencing since the unofficial relaunching of my blog this year and he was under the impression that my blog was solely about food. He was right though, that’s the impression I probably even have been giving you all that have been swinging by to check something out. The truth is that yes this blog is heavily influenced by food and cooking as that is a major part of my life, but if you look at my title it clearly says – averypleasantlife – Pleasants being my last name, there was a time when people would compliment me that I was my last name. That meant a lot to me because I feel that reflected where I was in my walk with the Lord and how I was feeling on a day-to-day basis. It was that “pleasant”  attitude and demeanor that I have seen take me through various triumphs and tragedies in my life.

I am an artist by gift but I am an analyst by trade. Since working in corporate I have adopted an analytical side that I apply to life every day. I encounter so many issues and challenges on a daily basis that it gets easy to get overwhelmed by it all. I know because I’ve been there too many times. Once I was able to shed whatever apprehension or dismay I was feeling I was able to kick into gear by looking at the problem or challenge for what it was. Then I’d try to figure out what’s the solution. Often times there is the best solution, and then the highly thought out alternatives. I always try to keep a Plan B thru Plan T in the holster. Some things may take that many times to correct, resolve or even master. Once a solution has been outlined, then it’s time to execute and facilitate the plan. This is a small look into my thought process these days when problems rear their ugly heads. I never thought about it until now but my last position at SunTrust Mortgage was actually role titled a Solution Specialist and that is actually what I still am. As an Entrepreneur, Mother, Wife and now Blogger I specialize in coming up with solutions for my family and hopefully yours too.

A Very Pleasant Life is more than a lifestyle blog, it’s the future community of like-minded people who loves, supports, takes care of, cooks for, combs hair of, works for a living, runs their own business, has goals, has family dinners, dreams, runs into obstacles, has questions, or is just looking to expose themself to something slightly different from a lot of what is out right now. I love helping people. Then there are the times that I need help or guidance too. I love sharing information and connecting people to good – positive information. Pleasant for me means positive. Though I have a lot of sarcasm and even vulgarity at times, I  also know class, professionalism and integrity. I’m not all of one thing but a whole lot of everything and with that being said, there’s not enough positivity being promoted in the world daily so, A Very Pleasant Life is a small contribution to the general good for mankind. I have four children that I love and because I love them, I love you all and your children as well. It’s important to me that the message of love is spread by me and my family as often as possible.  (Disclaimer: I am not perfect!) Plus it just makes me feel better about myself and the future if I know I’m putting out positivity as much as I can versus the alternative.

So yes – there you have it! A Very Pleasant Life is a lifestyle community for us all right? I love taking care of my family – that means there will be more family oriented posts  and updates coming. I love crafting with my children – that means there will be more craft related posts and updates. I love planning events and doing things with my family – that means there are going to be opportunities to engage and fellowship offline in our local communities. I love eating and cooking – that means there will continue to be food and cooking related posts and updates. I love sharing information and helping people stay informed – that means that there will be more opportunities to exchange and promote the things that are important to each one of us. I love talking – that means there will be open dialogue for people to truly connect and grow.

I feel like I’m finally truly learning what to do and how to do it, I hope that you will be informed, enlightened or excited by the things being published on this blog and look forward to having you feel connected to our community – A Very Pleasant Life.

IMG_20180201_082249.jpgP.S. Earlier this month I posted a #ShareandSpreadLove challenge that my family are personally spearheading. We have started making greeting cards to send to children in Pediatric Hospitals. I’ve been trying to expand on that idea and have decided to make some cool crafts and delicious cakes to surprise some of our Seniors with. I haven’t figured out quite where to go but if you know a group or organization, or even a loved one that you think could use a special display of love this month? Drop me a line in the comments and I’d love to see what we can do!

 

#shareandspreadlove

#averypleasantlife

#thegreatestofthemallislove

 

Peace and Blessings,

A Very Pleasant Mom of 4