Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Girls Trip Movie Review

Go. See. This. Movie!

It’s raunchy. There are a lot of curse words. There are a lot of sexual references. There is a ton of comedy!

This is an adult movie. Don't take your kids to see this one!





I seriously don’t know the last time I laughed so hard! This movie is HILARIOUS from start to finish! I’m going to see it again!

Tiffany Haddish rules this movie! We know all of the other leading cast members and they hold it down. Tiffany Haddish delivers! She has been on the scene for a long time! I love her in the Carmichael Show, and I’m sad that it’s ending. I hope that the success of this movie gives her the big break she deserves.

I can NOT not mention the beautifulness that is Kofi Siriboe! His breakout role in Queen Sugar showed us all of his God given beauty…but something about all that chocolate in New Orleans!!! WOOSAH! He too has had several smaller roles but is now being recognized for having a lot of amazing...talent!

I also must acknowledge what seems like the resurrection of Larenz Tate. Where have you been hiding Larenz? You are still looking good though brother!

So what is it about? 4 college friends who have lost touch over the years due to life and all that comes with it reconnect. One is a popular author that has been invited to be the keynote speaker at Essence Fest and she decides to take her best girls with her. The Flossy Posse shows up and shows out! It's not without drama, but the love and laughter overpowers everything else. It teaches us to cherish our loved ones while we have them and to knuck if you buck when necessary! 

My takeaways:
Apologize when you are wrong.
Don't leave your friends hanging.
Make up a dance routine with your girls because you never know when there will be a dance battle.
Trust your instincts and follow your heart.
You are in control of your own happiness. Don't give anyone else that power.
Have safe sex.
Enjoy your life. Have fun!
Go to New Orleans (Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Essence Fest or just a random Tuesday)!
When your friend bedazzles you a jacket, wear it!

I don't want to give it all away so just go see it! This movie delivers. It made me want to reconnect with all of my friends that I’ve lost touch with and fly down to the BOOT! Go see it if you haven’t, and take all of your girlfriends with you! 

To any of my long lost gal pals that may be reading this, know that I love you and I miss you!


XOXO
RoJo

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Baby No More, Baby Magic is FOUR!

Like seriously, where did the time go?

She was just a wee little thing yesterday! Now she is sassy, independent and full of honesty. Like FULL of honesty. She knows nothing about your feelings so she doesn't give 2 cents about hurting them. The kid just tells it like it is. And I hope she never changes.

I decided not to have a party this year. But guess what? It turned into a party anyway! Friends don't let friends eat cake alone apparently! It was awesome! The night before I baked her cake. She refused to go to sleep so I let her decorate some of the extra cupcakes. She insisted on licking ALL the frosting when we were done. When she finally went to sleep, I hand pumped what seemed like a thousand balloons - and my carpal tunnel is still yelling at me about it. I put the balloons on the floor in her room so she would be surprised when she woke up. She was! She woke up singing "Mommy, it's morninggggg, it's my birthdayyyyyyyy!" She's so stinking cute!



After I got her out of the bed and asked her what she wanted for breakfast (pancakes, bacon and watermelon), she got to open her gifts. Her big gift from me was a trampoline. Thank goodness for my dad and brother putting it together! I wouldn't have made it in this Carolina heat! Her auntie got her an Our Generation Ice Cream Truck. This was her 2nd most requested gift. She's rotten, but she's my rotten big girl so I don't care. FYI, if you buy this thing from Target, take all the pieces out before you try to give it to the kid. It took me 45 minutes to get all the tape, zip ties and plastic parts off so she could actually play with it!

For party food, we had hot dogs...I totally forgot to put out the cheese balls. I literally just remembered that I didn't do that! I also made a pan of chicken spaghetti and a pan of baked spaghetti for the night time. Her cousins (and their moms) slept over. I also failed to cook the corn and garlic bread. I kind of sucked this year LOL! Fun was had by all. The requested Ice Cream Bar made a comeback and even the big kids (adults) enjoyed this. I never seem to get a picture of the ice cream because everyone's hands must stop working when the ice cream comes out of the freezer. It included: a bucket of Neapolitan ice cream, waffle cones and bowls, marshmallows, gummy bears, sprinkles, maraschino cherries, mixed nuts, chocolate magic shell and whipped cream. Delicious!

For the cake, I went with a Moana theme. She asked me for a "Barbie Skipper and Chelsea cake with black frosting" but we couldn't seem to find what she was looking for exactly and she wouldn't take anything less than what she wanted. So I convinced her (two weeks of convincing) that she wanted a Moana cake. She was so happy with the results that I almost cried. I feel like I need to have a camera crew follow us on special occasions because I can never capture the moments when they actually happen.


Her birthday fell on a Friday, so I kept her out of school so we could hang out just me and her for a little bit. Since she wasn't going to be there, I made treat bags and sent them the day before, in lieu of cupcakes.

I'll do a tutorial soon on these and update this post with the link.



All in all, we had a ball and she really enjoyed her day and spending it with everyone that loves her! This journey has been so amazing! It goes by so fast!



I appreciate you all for sharing in this learning and growing experience with me!

XOXO
RoJo

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Pura Vida!

Hey y'all!

I keep making promises to do better about posting and then I break those promises. So I won't make any such promise this time!

I wanted to give you all a little run down on a trip I recently took (and LOVED). Two of my sisters and my two best friends and I decided to make a run for the equator. To Costa Rica! We started planning pretty early and got tickets and such purchased. We stayed in Jaco (pronounced Haa-CO). I'm still not sure I'm saying that correctly. You should have seen the looks on the immigration officer's face when I pronounced it as it is spelled. I'm pretty sure he called me an ignorant American.

Anywho, we flew from Charleston because they had the better fares and schedules at the time that we booked. Charleston to Miami to Jan Santamaria Airport. Something happened on our flight and me and my bestie were asked to move to another seat. It was actually better seats than what we had. Since we were so accommodating, we were given some libations. They were good libations and started the trip off right! From the airport we took a shuttle to our rental car place. My sister reserved an SUV. We were thinking that it would be like a Ford Explorer or something similar. It was a Toyota Rav4. But we didn't die!

My bestest and I on the plane

Costa Ricans live by the phrase "Pura Vida." It means Pure Life. And man do they mean it!

We rented a condo that was listed on AirBnB and it was awesome. For the side of the country we were on, a car is definitely recommended. We were on Playa Jaco (Jaco Beach), but the beach wasn't a "hot spot." Having a car allowed us to visit several beaches and landmarks without having to hail a cab and wonder about if all of us could fit in one cab. And honestly, some of the cab drivers were pretty darn scary!

Before heading for the equator, we all made the decision to not plan a whole lot of activities. We really just needed to relax, eat good and enjoy some cocktails! We did all of that!

Our one activity was  an ATV ride through the rain forest. AN ATV RIDE THROUGH THE RAIN FOREST! It was hands down my most favoritest part of the trip. They took us on a practice course to teach us to ride through the various elements of the rain forest. I broke an ATV on the practice course. See, what had happened was... (you know that's going to be a lie, right?) LOL! There was this mud pit that even the guide got stuck in. He had to get pushed out. So why he decided to tell me to ride through this thing, I haven't a clue. I got stuck the first time and the ATV that I was on wouldn't start back up. They brought me a new one. He made me go through the mud again! This time I thought I was being smart and that I would try to ride the curve of the puddle, right. Wrong. I got stuck again and was in mud up to my thighs! It was fun though! I didn't have any issues on the actual course (thank goodness). It was a two hour ride. In the middle, we stopped at a little waterfall and took pictures and rinsed off a bit. I recommend this to everyone! For the people that are nervous, they had buggy rides. Don't do a buggy ride. Ride the ATV! We had lunch at the adventure park after the ride and it was good!

I was a little nervous, but in the end wanted it to last forever

He had too much fun pressure washing me!

THE FOOD

OMG the food was so different. But good different! It was FRESH and you could tell. You could tell that the animals weren't pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics. All of the fruit was divine. Nature's candy. We often saw fresh meat being delivered to different restaurants. The only thing I didn't care for was the pizza. One night we hung out with some people staying on the same property we were on and we all went in and ordered pizza. I don't think any of us would ever do that again. It did come with little baggies of pesto and the pesto was good.

We are the chimichurri girls. We put that ISH on EVERYTHING!!!

Mary's Diner Country Fried Steak

Restaurante La Perla Steak Dinner

Pistachio Gelato Bar

Chicken and Beef Fajitas from the adventure park

Bacon Blue Burger from The Green Room Cafe

I can't remember the name of the bar, but the wings were good!

3 scoops from POPS

Coffee at The Green Room Cafe (drink this!)

Guacamole plate from The Green Room Cafe

Loaded Breakfast Burrito from The Green Room Cafe

**A note- Share food where you can. I wasn't able to finish any of my food. Probably because I was too busy eating off of everyone's plate. The food was delicious and my body had to readjust to American food when I got home.

THE BEACHES

We visited SEVERAL beaches on the side of the country we were on. They were not super touristy and most of them were uninhabited. A few of them we said "oh beach" and kept driving. We did end up at Manuel Antonio National Park Beach and it was heavily populated. I wasn't comfortable there because I felt like at any moment we were going to become victims of theft. The drive to this beach was awesome and scary at the same time. We had to drive up a mountain, then back down to get to the beach. It was weird being in the mountains and at the beach at the same time. The sand and water were warm though. There were too many people selling the same items and trying to force you to purchase from them. I HATED this. Hated. There was also a guy named Jesus that kept trying to get us to order drinks. We didn't. Another American family told us Jesus ripped him off pretty badly and not to buy from him. After this, we left. I think my sister was kind of bummed because she did all the driving and it was almost 2 hours from where we were staying. But at least half of us didn't feel safe.

Our last night there, after we had driven to all the other beaches, we took a step outside of our property to what ended up being the best beach for us. The first day the stray dogs turned me off of this beach. But it was quiet, had gorgeous black sand and was not crowded. We ended up playing in the water a little bit and my younger sister got accosted by a fish fin. For real. Since these beaches aren't heavily populated by tourist, there is still a lot of sea life at the shores. This made me get out of the water. One of my nightmares is being attacked by some rogue fish or shark. But the beach was peaceful and it wrapped up an amazing trip. I'll have to get more pictures from my sister's camera and share them.




THE WEATHER/WARDROBE

HOT. AS. HELL. Now, I've never actually been to hell. But Costa Rica is pretty close to the equator so pack light. My wardrobe consisted of shorts and light weight shirts and beach cover-ups. I had one "night out" outfit that was not at all dressy. We didn't take heels. You want to be comfortable when your walking and traveling around so much. For the ATV ride, I wore tights, a t-shirt and water shoes.


This was my "night out" outfit


THE MONEY

Simply stated, it was time for us to leave by the time I figured out how to convert the money. Someone said it's a simple two to one ratio. The MIL threw me off. MIL means dollar or something in Spanish. I used my debit card everywhere it was accepted. I got a little money from the ATM at the airport (colones). We got laughed at a lot for not properly converting money, but no one tried to rip us off.
We thought we were balling. We weren't!

Money Conversion

THE PEOPLE
Costa Ricans are amazing. People that have retired to Costa Rica are amazing. Spanish is the spoken language. Learn some before you go. Everyone was so relaxed and moved on "Costa Rican time." Which basically meant it happens when it happens. This applied to everything except driving. The driving there is maniacal! For real! 18 wheelers will pass you on a mountain curve like it's nothing. Mopeds and people on bicycles are in abundance and they think they rule the world. There aren't many street signs. Matter of fact, my sister rented a GPS and we were warned that nothing uses addresses. Everything is by landmarks! Everyone was friendly and very helpful. My take on the culture is that they make something out of nothing (thanks Miko). This gave me a bit of a different outlook on life. I mean there were guys with reflective vest "directing" us where to park and they expected tips. We usually (we being my sister) tipped them. At least they weren't selling drugs.

And speaking of drugs, on our drive in we witnessed a drug deal. It was out in the open like it was no big deal. Then, one night after we were eating dinner, some ladies of the night were approached by the cops. One of the ladies threw a little baggie behind a bush. There were offers for "parties" to which we declined.

A FEW TIPS

  • If you want to get colones, get it from the ATM in the baggage claim. Your bank will probably give you a more favorable rate. Or go to a bank in town. The bank lines were ALWAYS long. Again, I used my card a lot. Every legitimate business accepted cards. For the beach vendors and parking, you want to have a some colones.
  • Alcohol. If you want drinks, buy your alcohol at Duty Free. It's one located in the baggage claim area. We were told by our rental agent that we would save at least 40% by doing this, so we did. We ended up leaving a lot because no one checked a bag. Won't make that mistake again.
  •   The rental car online price will be cheap. The insurance is $44 a day (from EuroCar). Get the insurance. Don't debate this. The roads are rough and the driving is crazy. You can be held accountable even if it's not your fault.
  • There were toll roads. So you want to have some colones on you when traveling back and forth from the airport. I think we hit 2 leaving the airport and 3 going back. 
  • They have iguana crossing signs. The iguanas will cross! The iguanas are everywhere! We just let them do there thing...except the one time we almost drove off the mountain because one decided to be in the road and my sister swerved to avoid it. But we didn't die and neither did the iguana! We also saw monkeys (who were angry at us for some reason) and there were lots and lots of birds. And stray dogs. Lots of stray dogs. 
  • If you go during the rainy season, it is going to rain! It rained almost every night. We usually were back in our condo by the time the rain started. A few mornings had some light rain that pretty much evaporated as soon as it touched anything. HOT I tell you. HOT.
  • Buy the highest SPF sunscreen you can find. I think we had 70...and buy and use bug spray! Most of us came home with at least a little sunburn. And that was with applying the sunscreen!
  • We drank bottled water everywhere. You have to pay for it, but that's what we did.
  • The biggest tip would be to bring an unlocked phone that takes a sim card. There is a booth in baggage claim that sells Costa Rica sim cards. If the phone is NOT unlocked and you buy one, they will not give your money back. This saved us! We used the data from that purchase for navigating around. It was $30. Keep the little card with the pin on it with you (or remember the pin).
Costa Rica is a great place to visit! Let me know if you have any questions. I'm sure I forgot something. As I think of things I'll update the post!

PURA VIDA!

RoJo








Saturday, April 22, 2017

Too Many Eggs In One Basket

I have a confession...

As much as I LOVE to cook and experiment...I can't boil an egg to save my life. Or cook rice (without the assistance of a rice cooker). There. You now know what keeps me up at night (joke).

With Easter gone, I'm often left to figure out what to do with all the eggs. I mean, I love eggs...but only so much. I usually ask my sister to boil them for me because I always either under cook them, or over cook them...or tear them to shreds trying to peel them. I am the person that goes in the grocery store and buys the eggs that are already boiled and peeled because I suck lol.

And yes, I've tried every method on Pinterest (including the oven baked ones) and still I manage to not get it quite right. I'm OK with this mostly. Tonight, out of somewhere around 24 eggs, I only managed to mangle like 4...I ate one.

Anyways, on Easter I never made it around to dying the eggs so I left 18 home and still managed to bring home at least another dozen. I ate some for breakfast and cut some others up on salads. Today I looked in my fridge and figured I'd better do something with the remainders so they didn't go to waste.

I love pickles. Hot, sour, sweet, dill. I love them all. Growing up I ate almost everything I came across pickled. Pig feet, eggs, hot sausages, almost everything. As I've gotten older I've cut out the pig feet and only occasionally will eat a hot sausage. I haven't had a pickled egg in years. Off to Pinterest I went to find a suitable recipe. I hope it's suitable anyway.

I had taken an empty pickle jar from my sister's house (the same one that boils my eggs) and sterilized it (washed it thoroughly and boiled it). It took me forever to peel the eggs! No lie! The brine smells so good though. I used the recipe from Damn Near 40 (2011) and modified it a bit.

Have you ever been to a bar with pickled eggs and sausage? Me neither, but I've seen it on tv and always thought it would be something I'd like, so I gave it a go. I literally just put the brine on the eggs, so they will have to sit for a few days before I can let you know how they turn out, but I have high hopes!

My modifications were: I didn't have fresh garlic so I used chopped garlic that I had for all of the garlic; I added already pickled jalapenos because they seemed like a good idea; I added red pepper flakes; and I used smoked turkey sausage. The sizes of my eggs varied, so I'm not sure how many I actually got in there.

What do you do with your leftover eggs?



Pickled Eggs


INGREDIENTS:

18 boiled eggs, peeled

1 large onion, chopped into large pieces

1 "rope" length link or 4 bun length links fully cooked sausage of your choice, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3 cups water 

2 Tbsp pickling spice

3 bay leaves

INSTRUCTIONS:

Layer peeled eggs, sausage slices, whole garlic cloves, and onion in 3 quart jars or one gallon jar.  In a medium sauce pan, combine vinegar, water, and pickling spice. Bring to a boil and add chopped garlic and bay leaves.  Remove from heat and pour hot mixture into jar(s). Seal and refrigerate for 5 days to 2 weeks before serving.  ENJOY!!
XOXO
RoJo

Monday, April 10, 2017

Disneyland!

In an amazing twist of fate, I was able to go visit one of the most magical places on Earth! I had never been to any Disney park! People always looked at me crazy when I said that, but now I can't say it anymore. We grew up poor. I'm not ashamed to admit that. It is the driving force behind me working to be able to do some of the things I wasn't able to do as a child, so there.

I. Did. Not. Take. My. Child. Why? Well, because I didn't want to buy a full price ticket to fly her to California and two because my sister and I needed some bonding time. Again, I had never been, so I wanted to see what I would be getting myself into when I take her later, to the Florida parks.

I. Had. A. Ball! It really is impossible to have a bad attitude. Even when you are being ran over by strollers and motorized wheelchairs and waiting in impossibly long lines. The atmosphere is remarkable! The weather was perfect!

What did I love?
The rides. Hyperspace Mountain (INSANE), Toy Story Mania (I think this was my favorite), Radio Springs Racers, Soarin' and the list goes on. We had so much fun!

The only ride I did NOT like was It's A Small World. Why? Because I felt like someone had force fed me psychedelic drugs and made me look at these creepy dolls that were singing the same song in different languages and it was just a sensory overload! I didn't like it and I wouldn't do it again!

The food. Some of it was like really good and some wasn't. What I enjoyed?  Breakfast at Carnation Cafe'. The potatoes stole the show. In the California Adventure Park, they had Pineapple Cotton Candy. PINEAPPLE COTTON CANDY!!! It was delicious! And apparently seasonal and has no affiliation with Dole Whip...which...OMG! Every blog I read told me that I HAD to try the Monte Cristo sandwich. I tried it. I ended up picking the meat and cheese out and just eating that. I think that says more about me than it does a dozen bloggers though!

If you have never been, do go and have a ball. I look forward to taking #babymagic because I know she will absolutely lose her mind.

We did 2 day park hopper passes and honestly could have gone several more times. We didn't get to see or do everything, but it was truly magical!

What would I recommend?

1. Don't take your selfie stick. You will have to throw it away. I learned this the hard way because I didn't read the rules before going!

2. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. Pack a poncho if you are going to do water rides.

3. Take your own drinks and snacks. Not so much that it would add too much weight, but those snacks are NOT cheap. I mean definitely eat some of the Disney food, but not all Disney food.

4. Pack your patience. Lines are long for everything. Use the FastPass system. Get FastPasses for the most popular rides first thing in the morning.

5. Go for multiple days. You can't fit it all in a day. Especially if you have little ones. They wear out fast. I wore out fast. LOL

6. HAVE FUN!

We were also able to eat at the famous Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles and it was delicious! I almost ate the chicken bones!

Until next time..
RoJo

Kiks and I

Pomme Frites (eat these!)

Pineapple Cotton Candy

Monte Cristo

I ate Mickey's ears

Gumbo Crepes

Fritattas from Carnation Cafe
PS- I must also share my disdain with the lack of merchandise available for the ethnic Princesses. I mean, I couldn't even find Tiana in New Orleans Square.