Host a Holiday Pot Luck – Zesty Apple Blueberry Cobbler Recipe

 Is This Your First “Holiday” Supper?

As the holidays quickly approach on the heels of a summer not ready to be forgotten, like clockwork, family and friends are already trying to claim you at the head of their dinner table. And rightfully so – you’re the life of the party I’m sure!  But, with so many invitations and dramatic personalities to avoid, how do you decide which ones to attend? This year, you don’t have to! Why not host a holiday event at your place for once and show them how it’s really done? Stress free, guest participation and absolutely budget friendly!

Being the oldest in a family of four and the oldest grandchild of a family eleven times as big, I stayed in the kitchen, picking up tips, recipes and lending an extra hand during the days of my childhood. Until, of course, one year I was left to make Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners practically alone. It was a great learning experience nonetheless, but as I got older I realized, I did not want to feel like I was working in a soup kitchen on my favorite holidays, serving large groups of people four course meals and barely getting enough time to enjoy family time, let alone eat the food I slaved over for days! No I’m not exaggerating… DAYS! And of course, who do you think was in the kitchen cleaning up? Muah.

I began to despise the holidays, being met with gender role responsibilities, it just made me angry until it came to a head one year and I refused to lift a finger. That lasted all but 20 minutes until I saw things falling apart, and no, I’m not talking about the freaking turkey! I needed a change and quick. This event occurred twice every year and if I was going to survive it, I had to come up with a better solution.  And then it came to me…

Why not host a Thanksgiving POT LUCK?!!

I invited friends and family to my home who I just knew would enjoy the idea and use this opportunity to show off their own culinary skills. Everyone brought something delicious with their own utensils and containers, liquor and wine, games, games and more games! And what’s even more exciting, they helped me clean up! Pa-RAISE the holiday heavens!

Oh my God it was the best idea ever! Instead of cooking an ENTIRE meal by myself, the most I had to do was coordinate the menu with everyone so we didn’t have five pans of mac and cheese, three turkeys and one bottle of soda on the holiday spread! Instead of spending my time cleaning greens, basting turkeys, glazing ham and peeling sweet potatoes, I spent my time making a couple of dishes and decorating my adorable little apartment like the cute little DIY’er I am. We enjoyed great food some of us may not have tried otherwise; great laughs and of course better memories to last me through the next holidays for years to come. Every now and then, when I have to drag myself to an event I’m attending out of obligation, I reminisce on the great times I had with amazing people and secretly plan the next one.

If this is your first time hosting a holiday event or you have a fear of cooking for a large number of people, try alternating holidays this year. This Thanksgiving, host a pot luck at yours or a friend’s house and save your Christmas cheer for those who really need it! You know exactly which members of your family I’m talking about! Bah- humbug!

Here are some great tips on how to host a Holiday Pot Luck.

  1.  Create an INTIMATE list of fun friends and family. Do not invite people out of obligation or I can assure you, you will not have the fun you set out to have. Instead you’ll be catering to a party pooper and that just defeats the purpose now doesn’t it?
  2. Use a free online invitation service like Evite, utilizing the amazing templates to give your party a nice festive theme. Here, people can leave comments confirming their attendance and the dishes they choose to bring. It’s also a good idea to ask your guests to list any allergies or food preferences so everyone is accommodated. Here is a link to some Evite Thanksgiving Pot Luck specific invites.
  3. Pick 1 maybe 2 dishes you’d like to make and stick to it. Don’t get over excited and decide to cook any and everything.  That’s why the universe gave us friends. Use them.Word of advice:
    If you’re set on having turkey at your pot luck, do yourself and your guests a favor and bake turkey wings. For some reason, people love to fight over wings  and unfortunately the third person looses. Some folks don’t understand that God only gave them two. Don’t make them wait around for next year. Just buy a bag and keep it movin’.
  4. Purchase seasonal decorations from the dollar store. They have great cheap decor and punch bowls, plastic utensils, table covers and anything else you think you would need. But remember, don’t overdo it.  Keep it budget friendly.
  5. The week of your event, reach out to anyone who has not responded and confirm your total guest list and menu. Make sure your guests aren’t bringing double dishes unless of course it’s a cook off, then its game on!
  6. Invite and/or inform your neighbors. If you don’t want them in your house because you don’t really know them, no biggie. Don’t invite them. But, do inform them of the festivities you’re hosting so they’re not surprised – number 1 that you even have friends let alone noisy ones and you’re not surprised when the Po-Po is knocking on your doh-doh!
  7. Make sure your playlist is set and you have enough music to last you all night. It sucks when people are waiting for guests to arrive and it’s just you, the punctual friend and the scratches at your bedroom door from your dog you stashed away for the evening. Play some music to drown him out.
  8. Have some munchies before the main courses are served. Chips, meatballs with colorful tooth picks and punch will do. Save all of the good food for later.
  9. DO NOT use this time to invite your EX just so they can see how much fun you’re having without them. Inviting drama is not cute. DO invite that guy or girl you’ve been talking to and introduce them to the fun people who matter in your life.
  10. Take lots of pictures, play ice breaker games, enjoy your night and remember to have fun! It’s also fun to vote on everyone’s favorite dish and give an early Christmas gift as a reward. Something budget friendly of course and if you can stretch it, a goodie bag on the way out.
  11. Don’t be shy to ask for help cleaning up. Pass out garbage bags if you must. If they’re your friends, they’ll get your sense of humor and they’ll understand why. After all, it’s just you and the dog right? I’m sure after you locked him up in the room all night, he’s not in the mood to wash your dishes and take out your garbage.

Here’s a quick and easy recipe for your First Pot Luck! Enjoy and don’t burn the house down!

Zesty Apple Blueberry Cobbler
by Toi Stori

Prep Time: 20 min.  Active Time: 40 min. Total Time: 1 hr. Serves: 6

For the Filling:

4 Granny Smith apples
1 Medium sized container of fresh blueberries about 1 1/2 cups
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, Allspice or apple pie spice
2 oranges juiced
2/3 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

For the Topping:

1 Cup of pancake mix or all-purpose flour
1 Teaspoon of orange zest
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 Tablespoon of allspice
1/2 Tablespoon of cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 Cup of water or milk
1/2 Cup of brown sugar

Zest Apple Blueberry Cobbler
Zesty Apple Blueberry Cobbler Ingredients .
Photography Credit: Toi Stori

1. Preheat to 350 degrees F.

2. Make your filling: Peel your apples cutting them into 1/2-inch slices. If you have an apple cutter, even better and quicker. Throw them in a bowl and toss them with granulated sugar and lemon juice. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples and cook, until slightly softened, stirring occasionally for 10 to 12 minutes. Add flour, cinnamon, vanilla extract, orange juice and allspice and stir. The juices should thicken a bit in 2 minutes. When done, remove from the heat and add in the blueberries. Let this cool completely.

3. Make The Topping: Combine the pancake mix or flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, allspice,  cinnamon and orange zest in a large bowl. Cut in 3 tablespoons butter with a spoon. Add the water or milk; stir until you get light brown dough and until there is no loose flour in the bowl. Spoon the dough into your flour dusted hands and form round balls flattening them into biscuits. This should make about 6 pieces of dough.

4. Spoon the filling into a buttered casserole dish and top with brown sugar. Place the dough evenly around the casserole dish on top of the filling, finishing with 1 piece of dough for the center. Sprinkle with remaining brown sugar. Transfer to the oven and bake until the topping is golden and crispy, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool for about an hour and eat warm.

Eat and Enjoy~

Mine turned out like this! It was fabulous! Try this and everyone will wonder where you learned to do that?!

Zesty Apple Blueberry Cobbler
Zesty Apple Blueberry Cobbler.
Photography Credit: Toi Stori

6 MAKE-UP TUTORIALS – 1 Video: Good Kisser Lip Art

I’m so excited to bring you my 1st makeup tutorial which is the 1st in a series of awesome videos on Beauty, DIY, Lifestyle and Music. Besides T.O.I being my initials, this blog encourages and challenges us all to Take On Innovation through creativity using whatever motivates us and inspires our passion. Being creatures of creation, we’ve been blessed with the ability to have endless ideas, thoughts and skills. Why limit ourselves to just one thing when there is a beautiful world full of endless opportunities to discover?

More recently, I released my cover song and official music video to Usher’s “Good Kisser”. Not only did I have so much fun recording it, but I also had an awesome time shooting the video and discovering new ways to enhance my look through awesome makeup ideas. I found some tips on Pinterest and YouTube and created this video to share with you all, just how I created my favorite look!

So many people asked me how I put the glitter and rhinestones on my lip and how I achieved a vibrant smoky eye. I decided instead of doing a few separate videos, I’d do 1 full length vid and allow you to skip ahead if you just want to see one specific tutorial! Click the play button above and follow my tutorial to achieve my favorite “Good Kisser” look!

Produced and Edited by Toi Stori

What I used:


Naked Skin – Urban Decay- Shade 9.0
Concealer – MAC – NC45 Studio Finish Concealer SPF 35 Broad Spectrum
Anti Aging Eye Primer Potion – Urban Decay
Bare Minerals – Matte Powder


Watts Up (highlighter) – Benefit
Embark Matte – MAC Eye shadow


True – Bare Minerals – All over face color
Amber Lights (Frost) – MAC Eye Shadow
Embark Matte – MAC Eye Shadow
Carbon Matte – MAC Eye Shadow
Vanilla – MAC Pigment
Coppering – MAC Eye Shadow
Pewter Gold Cream Eye Shadow – Mary Kay
Black eye liner
White eye liner
Ink For Eyes – Urban Decay Liquid Eye Liner
They’re Real (Mascara) – Benefit


Embark Matte – MAC Eye Shadow
Bronzer – Milani
Ambering Rose – MAC Blush


Concealer – MAC – NC45 Studio Finish Concealer SPF 35 Broad Spectrum
Magenta – MAC Lip Pencil
Ruby Woo – Mack Matte Lipstick
Clear Lip Gloss

Lip Art:

White to clear Eyelash Glue (Beauty Supply Store)
Rhinestones (Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, AC Moore)
Red Glitter (Walmart)

 WATCH My Official Music Video – GOOD KISSER



Good Kisser (Funkystepz Mix)

Caked Up-Do It For the Vine (ORIGINAL MIX)


Toi Stori Lip Art Tutorial

It’s Not Burnt, It’s Just Black – Burger King Japan Kuro (Black) Burger

WHOA! Ummmmm, I don’t know what to say. A black burger with black buns – Not difficult to digest I guess (pun intended) considering we’ve all probably left a bun or two on the grill or toaster for too long. But, it’s the black cheese that gets me. BLACK CHEESE. Ok, I’m over my weirded-out-ness for the moment, but i’m sure throughout this post it’ll return.

September 19, 2014, Burger King in Japan is re-introducing their Premium Kuro Burger (kuro means “black”) which debuted back in 2012. The black color comes from bamboo charcoal which seems to be a hit in the east dating back to the Ming Dynasty. With natural detox  and bacteria fighting properties, black charcoal has begun to trend and slowly make it’s way into the western mainstream market. Of course you can thank Burger King for that. I read that the bread is moist and tasty. Read. Not tasted, so don’t quote me. Although I would love to try it! Now the cheese…. ion-no.

Apparently, the Japanese customers loved it so much, they brought it back and now incorporated it into the cheese.

Burger King – Bamboo Charcoal Processed Cheese


Now that’s interesting –  considering it looks like a stack of black post it notes – or magnets turned upside down! Now, I’ll try just about anything, but, for some reason, the look of this cheese makes my taste buds prepare to chew on a sliver of rubber. But someone likes it right?

Want to try the “special” sauce made with black squid ink and ketchup? Yeah, I’m a bit wary too. Here comes that weirded-out-ness again. I literally just got goose bumps. But, if I pretend that it’s a deep colored, brown sugar, hickory smoked bbq sauce – I may just be able to get it into my mouth.

There are a couple different varieties of this burger. The Kuro Pearl which has the burger made with black pepper, black cheese and sauce and the  Kuro Diamond which comes with  lettuce, tomato, onion and the usual suspects – sauce, cheese, burgers (you get it).

I’m doing all of this talking like I actually have the option of purchasing and then eating this black burger, but I don’t think I’ll be visiting Japan anytime soon. So I’m off the hook for now. I’d love to try it buuuut the way my passport is set up…

Which foods gross you out, but you wouldn’t mind trying? Share your thoughts!

New Posts Coming Soon!

Working On Great Stuff

Hey my fellow innovators!!! I’m working so hard to get you quality, informative, entertaining and innovative posts! Unfortunately, there is only one of me – for now LOL. Please be a little more patient with me as I update the blog and I promise I’ll have some great stuff up soon!

In the meantime, please check out my other links and categories! Comment, like, share and re-post! Thanks for the love and support!

She Nailed it! – Shellac’d Nails

Shellac’d Nails! – My New Fav!

I always knew I had a thing for polishing my nails, adding little crystals, rhinestones, glitter and gems to my nails  –  just to add a little pzazz  when I was flipping someone off on the highway. But what I didn’t realize was how many shades of reds & pinks, yellows, blues and greens, sparkles and whites I had in my possession! It wasn’t until I decided to organize my make-up and polishes into a standing organizer, did I see my collection of polishes in it’s fullest glory! I could literally open up shop and paint nails on the weekends – for a small fee of course! Call to make your appointment – no walk ins!

Every Friday night, I bar tend and I am always conscious about how my hands look when serving someone a drink. They can’t be chipped AT ALL. Who wants a martini with a chipped nail polish garnish? Not me, and definitely not you! So, I usually take the time to make them presentable and if I have a little more time, extremely beautiful!

Lately I’ve been working on some great things! This blog for one has been taking a lot of my time to get it just the way I want it – AWESOME! I’m working on editing videos and tutorials and learning Adobe After Effects and Premiere. Between that and my day time job and Friday nights, I have neglected my favorite grooming experience – home manicures! So sad! All this polish and no time to play.

Last weekend, I made an impulsive decision, when I went to get my eyebrows done (Yes, I gave the eyebrow lady another shot. Too busy to find a new one. Read my horror eyebrow story here lol), to also get my nails done. I noticed my hands looked more than a bit rough – more like I was building the Giza Pyramid brick by brick – alone! I let her talk me into getting my nails shellac’d after I told her I didn’t want to deal with chipped nails or hard ass gel. A co-worker of mine also recommended it, so I said, “What the hell. I made a little money on Friday – treat yourself girl!” And I did.

Shellac'd Nails
Shellac’d Nails


CND polish, the mother of shellac,  is the polish the salon used and it went on like gel, but it dried much thinner leaving a fresh manicured look without the 3rd day chipping. There were about 3 applications to get a deeper color and as many UV light sittings. I was pleased with the outcome and I’m told it lasts a good 14 days. A month if you want but the new growth at the cuticle bed may send you back for touch ups much faster.  I was told to apply a nice layer of sunscreen to the backs of your hands before, to prevent the harmful rays from the UV lights which emits harmful rays. Moisturize and apply cuticle oil to keep them nice and healthy.



You can either visit the salon for an Acetone nail soak or you can buy it yourself (not nail polish remover) and watch an episode of  Dr. Who on the comfort of your own couch. Take a black hard buffing block and help it out a little along the way. Save a couple bucks.

I bought the Acetone with Vitamin E & Grape Seed oil.
ONYX Professional Soak Off


This should help bring some moisture back into your nail beds and cuticles during the removal process. Of course throw some extra cuticle oil on your nails after.


So far my nails are holding up strong and beautiful! I’ve gotten so many compliments on my color, which by the way I believe is “Hot Pop Pink” and I don’t have to worry about last minute manicures before I leave to go to work or an event. They are already perfect!

What, do you ask, am I going to do about all of that polish in my organizer? Well, I still have my feet – an occasional pedi in the salon, but between visits, I can always sit down and get-tah-painting!  Hey, a girls gotta have a little fun!

4 Steps to Store Your Asparagus

4  Steps to Store Your Asparagus


Asparagus. The unsung hero of edibles greens. Packed with fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, this delicious vegetable is filled with antioxidants and is ranked as one of the best fruits and vegetables to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals.

This yummy veggie is extremely diverse and can be included in many recipes or prepared on its own. Some of my favorite dishes include my own Chunky Garden Pasta w/ Turkey Sausage recipe, Bacon wrapped Asparagus and Garlic Skillet Roasted Asparagus just to name a few.

When you’ve found the perfect bunch of asparagus (bright green, firm, thick stalks with less than an inch of white at the ends), here are some tips on how to keep them fresh:


Photography by: Toi Stori For
Photography by: Toi Stori for


1. Place them upright in a mason jar or any jar you have with 1 to 1.5 inches of water.

2. You can also place them in a sandwich Ziploc bag with 1 to 1.5 inches of water and stand them upright in the door of your refrigerator.

3.  Wrap the bottom of the bundle in a wet paper towel and place in the Ziploc bag.

4. Replace the water everyday so the water and asparagus stay fresh.

Your asparagus can stay fresh for up to two weeks if you use any of these options.

~ Eat and Enjoy

Start Your Day Peachy!

Sweet Peach Raspberry Medley
(OAS) Friendly Recipe

Let me start off by saying, I LOVE peaches, but I have just 1 problem. I’m ALLERGIC! I, along with about 70% of people with pollen allergies, suffer from Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) caused by cross-re-activity between proteins in fresh fruits and vegetables and pollens.

I noticed a few years ago that I had developed an allergy to fresh pitted fruits. I was so annoyed because I love fresh fruit and this came out of nowhere! Never again would I be able to eat Apples, Bing Cherries, Nectarines, Plums and my all time favorite –  Peaches, in its natural form.

I discovered this sweet way to prepare my peaches without suffering from the effects of my allergies which include an itchy tongue, throat and swollen throbbing gums. By cooking or processing the fruit, the proteins are broken down so OAS typically doesn’t occur.

(If you have food allergies, please consult with your doctor before trying this recipe. This preparation works for me but others may be different)

So for breakfast, I wanted to make a quick fruit medley with Peaches and Raspberries. I wanted to feel like I was eating fresh juicy  peaches with a bit of a snap, so I nuked it in the microwave for 1 minute. Anything longer than that and they become mushy like cobbler, which isn’t bad, but that’s not what I wanted today. If you want, after nuking, you can cool them off in the fridge and when you take them out, they taste just like fresh peaches.

Here are the ingredients you need for a Sweet Peach Raspberry Medley:

Sweet Peach Raspberry Medley
(OAS) Friendly Recipe

Prep Time: 5 min.  Active Time: 1 min. Total Time: 6 min. Serves: 1

1 Peach
1 container of Raspberries
1 Tablespoon of Honey
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon

Photography by: Toi Stori For
Photography by: Toi Stori For


1. Wash your peach thoroughly to loosen any dirt and possibly any pollen stuck to the skin; slice sections of the fruit, discarding the pit.

2. Place on a microwavable plate/container (cover it to steam – best)  and microwave for 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds (longer if the peach is a bit firm)

3. Toss a handful of raspberries on top; drizzle honey over fruit medley; sprinkle cinnamon

Eat and Enjoy~

What foods have you sacrificed for OAS? Find a way to enjoy your favorite foods again!