Images

Motivation Monday – You…A Flicker of Existence

Motivation Monday – You…A Flicker of Existence

When you stop to think about how vast the universe is, how many planets, comets, asteroids and stars there are, remember your place within it.

You are but a grain of living energy sailing within a single galaxy, within a minute solar system drifting among millions, on a tiny infinitesimal planet, orbiting but 1 star, literally floating in the blackness of space.

You actually exist within a colossal body of glorious life which literally spins of its own accord with 8 sister planets in a harmonic dance that has lasted for millions of years.

And then, there’s you…you, who is only here but for a mere half of a blink, a flicker of existence. Living life, giving life and ultimately exploring it. Would you waste this miraculous moment, which is you, dispirited, tormented, dissatisfied and unmotivated to be anything but?

galaxy-facebook-cover-22

Your life is the most precious, most miraculous gift the star-dust of galaxies has ever formed, ever created. Live in your moment. Breathe your purpose. Explore your being and never waste it on anything less than the miracle that is you.

Overall, the endless vastness of space and all of the immaculate life it holds is so much bigger than any type of adversity you shall ever face.

Be encouraged and be motivated to make your moment, your time, your existence in this universe worth it.

~ Toi Powell

 

Sign up for my book mailing list here!

The Wiz Live – Review / Yahoo! Don’t Bring Me #NoBadNews

The Wiz is a Classic. If you don’t agree…Ease On Down The Road

I watched The Wiz Live last night and absolutely loved it! I joined the live twitter feed and of course like always, the Black Twitter family along with some honorary NON-Racist members of society, tuned in to watch together. When I say the amount of love, support, and connection that was felt through social media and throughout our culture was beyond overwhelming. It was! To laugh, applaud, shout in excitement and cry together with people you don’t know at all– but are connected as kin of the same struggle…it was epic, moving, chilling and glorious. Imagine 2 million people laughing, crying and making jokes at a family BBQ and you’re ALL related… yeah that’s Black Twitter. It was absolutely the best and proudest moment we could experience together and we LOVED @NBC for showing the magic of black actors in The Wiz to the world.

nup_171101_3252

Shanice Williams, let’s just say, I was very impressed by her musical theater presence. Being so fresh to the scene she showed a certain comfort-ability that most seasoned actors take years to attain.

rs_1024x759-151120140448-1024-mary-j-blige-the-wiz-nbc

Mary J. Blige was spectacular, she was amazing, she sang DOOOOOOOWN and I was sooo proud of her. She has so many great moments in her performance and I was extremely impressed with her acting. Sure I can bypass some tiny moments of coming out of character a bit, because the amazing-ness coming from her and that amazing costume gave me all the life I needed for the night. I love her all over again!

news-00089681-the-wiz-live-elijah-kelly-ne-yo-david-alan-grier

Neyo, David Alan Grier and Elijah Kelly were amazing as well. I was impressed wtih Neyo’s stage presence and David amazed at his role playing that Lion. Loved them. Elijah Kelley stayed in character the entire time and THAT was impressive!

THE WIZ LIVE! -- Season: 2015 -- Pictured: Common as The Bouncer -- (Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)
THE WIZ LIVE! — Season: 2015 — Pictured: Common as The Bouncer — (Photo by: Paul Gilmore/NBC)

Common, was ok. I could honestly do without his character. Maybe if they gave him more of a role, but how could they. I think he did pretty well for the amount of speaking lines he was given.

nup-171101-6398-jpg

Queen Latifah, I love her love her love her… but something with the songs I wasn’t really getting everything I needed from them.  She looked amazing and she was better playing herself than the Wiz honestly. Can we talk about the makeup and costumes?!! FLAWLESS! All I know is, she better work! She was still awesome to watch!

The-Wiz-Live-Amber-Riley-as-Addapearle-2

Honey!!! AMBER freaking RILEY!!! SANG for the GODS last night! She was everything you would want in a good witch of the North! I didn’t know what else to do but stare, mouth open and absorb everything she spit out! I mean, Brava to her! She was getting DOWN with those munchkins!

Enough about my brief review – (trimmed it due to this nonsense I’m about to get into.)

I was so excited, I went to bed singing “Home” until 2 am this morning. Sang myself to sleep and woke up with the songs still in my heart. I couldn’t wait to read some reviews online because I just knew it was spectacular. And then I came across this article from Yahoo! Critic-at-large, Ken Tucker

Yahoo! Don’t Bring Me #NoBadNews

I am appalled. I speak to Ken now and any other people who don’t understand the magic of The Wiz (and no, I’m not even giving a paragraph to the idiots who said The Wiz is racist and there should be an all white cast of the Wiz. Look up Judy Garland and go back to sleep).

Ken, to say that…

The Wiz “simply isn’t a classic piece of material”

…just makes me sick. Your critique of performances is understandable, although I may not agree, I agree to disagree. But where I draw the line is when you discount a musical, one of the ONLY musicals that represent the black culture, and one of the ONLY successful earlier black productions ever to grace Broadway. To say it “simply isn’t a classic” is ridiculous!

Just because it doesn’t speak to you and people like you, doesn’t mean that it isn’t a classic!

You don’t understand the IMPACT this production, the movie and this newer modern version has had on our culture, on our creative talents and on our youth!

There are so many reason’s WHY the original “The Wiz” on Broadway may not have translated to “contemporary” audiences in prominent venues.

LIKE VIOLA DAVIS SAID: The only thing that separates women of color from everyone else is OPPORTUNITY!

If there is no opportunity, how COULD it translate to “contemporary audiences”?

And who the hell is a contemporary audience anyway? If you were on Twitter last night, It was FULL of an audience who could relate, who loved it, who cried, who applauded, who had viewing parties. It was the top #1 trending topic all day AND night yesterday! So, AGAIN…. who are the members of the “contemporary” audience you speak of.

There was an overwhelming amount of support (crushing the naysayers and racists) for this production and it went on for hours! If you tuned in, you would see how our culture and others appreciated this momentous moment TOGETHER. You would see the hundreds and hundreds of tweets from people of multiple races express how they loved it as a kid, performed it in high school musicals and were actually watching it with their children…ECSTATIC to be able to share this CLASSIC with them!

To be so removed from our culture, our relations, our art, our appreciation, our CONNECTION to this CLASSIC production and movie, shows exactly WHY television needed this, why WE needed this, why this COUNTRY needed this.

Sure, Ken doesn’t need to sugar coat his critique of the performances. Ken, tell it like it is with all of your professional due diligence. BUT, do your homework, understand what’s going on here and WHY it’s important. Understand that YOU sir are just as bad as everyone else who discounts ANY and EVERYTHING we do or attempt to do, putting your “denied a classic” stamp on it because YOU are ignorant of its magic, its impact and its influence on our community!

This line here from you:

“Here’s a challenge: Name a song from The Wiz other than “Ease On Down the Road.” “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News,” maybe, but that’s about it.”

…. Goes to show your total and complete ignorance of this production and the “Contemporary Audience” your article is aimed at.

gettyimages-497433282_13baaf5319f52c3797416727b046161a.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

“HOME”… “Home” is the biggest song of the production and movie. Stephanie Mill’s career took off from this song and it’s been a talent show staple song since! The Ballad piece is the most spectacular and popular song from The Wiz and you don’t even name it!

And What about “You Can’t Win”? Michael Jackson Slaaaaayed that song in the movie! That’s MY favorite! C’mon man!

Me AND Michael are looking at you crazy!

658b7e49834f3354a4cb04e344b44169

As far as I’m concerned your critique means NOTHING because you KNOW nothing about the magic and the message of The WIZ.

This line you say here:

“The idea of seeking out some powerful wisdom that will grant intelligence, courage, and freedom, only to realize that these qualities reside inside, not outside, oneself—that’s a potent, enduring theme.”

Yes, it’s a potent and enduring theme, but do you understand WHY it’s important to “our audience” to “our culture”? Because when you have people like you who call the most epic piece of African American theater “Not a classic” you, Ken, enforce the idealism that minorities are not AS important and some of us therefore have to STRUGGLE through our OWN insecurities to find the INTELLIGENCE, COURAGE and FREEDOM inside of ourselves to become better versions of OURSELVES. To create art, to succeed at what our hearts desire. Your insensitive remarks enforce and reveal your ignorance of a culture you know nothing about.

THE WIZ LIVE! -- Pictured: (l-r) Uzo Aduba as Glinda, Shanice Williams as Dorothy -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)
THE WIZ LIVE! — Pictured: (l-r) Uzo Aduba as Glinda, Shanice Williams as Dorothy — (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

When Uzo Adubo sang “Believe in yourself” she brought tears to not only the cast on stage but to thousands of people on twitter live. Most of whom did not know that UZO is a TRAINED OPERA SINGER! That song, that message speaks VOLUMES to those of us with shattered dreams, to those of us who have to overcome way more obstacles than your “contemporary audience”. As she hugged Dorothy it was as if she hugged US. That moment, that song was pivotal and encouraged HOPE & FAITH in us but in your words:

“Uzo Aduba was positively adorable as Glinda the Good Witch.”

And… that was it. What an UNDERSTATEMENT!

While I accept your critique and agree to disagree, I am going to ask you to “simply” Ease on down the road with that “Classic” BS.
The world loved it and if you don’t believe me, go ‪#‎TheWiz‬ or #‎TheWizLive‬ on Twitter and see for yourself. Your article was mediocre at best. Have several Theater seats. Thank you!

Crock Pot Chicken w/ Gravy! Recipe!

Back in the Kitchen for a day!

Last night I made the most delicious #Crockpot #chicken with #gravy! One of my favorite #passions is #cooking ! I haven’t had much time to #cook recently with the finishing of my new #book taking priority, but i can tell you it feels good when you have time to be in your own kitchen! #yummy #yumm #yummi #yummyinmytummy  #sundried #tomato #tomatoes #onion #carrot #onions #soup mix , #salt #pepper #italian #seasoning #olive #oil  #honey #paprika #cinnamon ! #bonappetit !

Take on Innovation – In your Kitchen!

Quick recipe:
  1. Grab a whole chicken from the market. Clean it thoroughly, remove the bag of gizzards inside, place in crock pot.
  2. Grab your favorite seasonings. Se above for my choice of flavors. Cinnamon was a secret season and it added just the right touch of spic, minus the sweet.
  3. Slather the entire chicken in Olive oil, front and back.
  4. Season each side of the bird generously.
  5. Throw in your favorite veggies. DO NOT ADD WATER See above for my favs! Yum.
  6. Set the Crockpot on high for 6-8 hours depending on the size of your chicken. Then forget it!
  7. Do your laundry, write your book, make body scrubs, go for a run or simply relax with a glass of wine. The hardest part is done.
  8. GRAVY: If you want gravy (and who doesn’t right?), about halfway through once your chicken starts to make a broth, remove  half of the piping hot fluid and place in a microwaveable container.
    Sprinkle some flour in the broth, constantly stirring until it begins to thicken. Don’t put too much flour. Just enough to get it thicker than the original broth.
    Place in the microwave to for 2 min and allow it to thicken some more. This is you thickening the gravy more with heat without putting it on the stove.
    Remove and place to the side. That’s it! If you want it a bit thicker, just repeat with a bit more flour, but not too much. You don’t want dumplings for this recipe.
  9. When you can smell the the delicousness coming in from your kitchen annnnnnnd you see the little thermometer popped up out of the chicken, you are DONE!
  10. Cut what you need, Place on your plate, add your sides, drizzle your gravy and enjoy!
12122825_10154233078233066_2586271324279828776_n
T.O.I House by Toi Stori

 

SIGN UP HERE for my books mailing list!

Read my 1st blog about my upcoming book!

Part 1: Inception & Discovery

Follow me (I promise to follow back!)

Website: TheToiHouse.com
Twitter: TheToiHouse
FB: Facebook.com/TheToiHouse
Youtube: Youtube.com/Toicollection
Pinterest: Toihouse
Etsy Store: Etsy.com/shop/toihouse

11 Successful Makers Who Prove It’s Never Too Late to Do What You Love

Check out this cool article!

It’s never too late to follow your passion no matter what it is! We’d all love to quit our day jobs and do what we love. Check out this Yahoo article for great inspiration on people who have followed their passions and are making a living from it!

11 Successful Makers Who Prove It’s Never Too Late to Do What You Love

tumblr_inline_ntgaizp2TR1ty855k_1280
Photo: Layla Fanucci Article: Christine Erickson – Editor ‎October‎ ‎05‎, ‎2015

 

Also, don’t forget to SIGN UP HERE to join me and other’s in a unique author to reader social collaboration! The fun is just beginning. Publish a book with me today!

Read my 1st post about my book here!

Part 1: Inception & Discovery

Follow me (I promise to follow back!)

Website: TheToiHouse.com
Twitter: TheToiHouse
FB: Facebook.com/TheToiHouse
Youtube: Youtube.com/Toicollection
Pinterest: Toihouse
Etsy Store: Etsy.com/shop/toihouse

Be a part of my book!

Subscribe to find out how

Subscribe to get more information about the launch of my 1st book! 
Have you ever read a book and felt like you were actually a part of the story? Better yet, have you ever followed an author and received exclusive behind the scenes access and information designed specifically for you?

By subscribing, you’ll have:

  • Exclusive access to preview selected book chapters
  • Live Stream video chats w/ me and my characters
  • In depth character background – not found in the book
  • Vote for your favorite book cover
  • Launch dates, events and free giveaways!

All because you signed up to read this AMAZING book!

michener-wallpaper

You will also be the 1st to know when and where to get your copy and you’ll be given a special invitation to attend the book launch party! Paaaaaaaar-taaaay!

What’s the name of this book and what is it about? Wouldn’t you like to know.

Here’s a secret for you: It took me 1 year to write it, 8 years to publish it and …I wrote it by accident.

Don’t miss a beat! Tell your friends and family to sign up too! You don’t want to miss this!

Click here to read my 1st post about this book:

Part 1 – Inception & Discovery 

For more on T.O.I House

Visit my website: www.thetoihouse.com
Etsy body scrubs: Etsy.com/shop/toihouse
Videos: www.Youtube.com/Toicollection
F
B: www.facebook.com/TheToiHouse

Take On Innovation,

~ Toi Stori

Publishing My 1st Book! – Part 1

Part 1- Inception & Discovery

(I kind of wrote this book by accident.)

Before you go any further!!!!!

Subscribe here to get more information about the launch of my 1st book!

http://eepurl.com/by3VrP

 

 

Hey guys,

Welcome back! It’s time I shared with all of you what most of my closest family and friends already know. I am publishing my 1st book!!! YAY!!!

Where is this book coming from you ask? Aren’t you already doing so much – Working a full time job, blogging, making body scrubs and selling them on Etsy? Yeah, I am, but those things shouldn’t stop me from completing what I started in 2006. Yes, you read that right…2006!

 I wrote this book by accident.

I was 22 years old and it all started as a dream…a very vivid dream… And now that I think about it, a very basic dream. I was being chased by someone in a dark alleyway, mid winter after I’d just left a party. A stranger came to my rescue, fought off my chasers, saved my life and I fell in love. The end.

But was that really the end? I woke up and grabbed my nightstand notebook and wrote it down.
(As a songwriter and dreamer blessed/cursed with the vision of foresight – I kept a notebook nearby to capture every melody and vivid memory). It came in very handy that night.

As I wrote down this “intense” dream, I realized, I had so many questions but no real answers.

  1. Why was I being chased?
  2. What did they want?
  3. Who was this knight in shining armor?
  4. What was his story?
  5. Where did he come from?
  6. Who’s party was I at?
  7. Why was I there?
  8. Who was I?
    And most importantly after this man saved my life…
  9. What happened next?

I thought about this dream all day. Even while I was occupied with life itself, my mind would drift to that notebook. I needed to do something about that dream.

They say when the emotions you feel within a dream linger and stay with you, your inner spirit is telling you to pay close attention.

So I did. I paid very close attention. I went to my computer desk, sat down and opened up Microsoft Word. The cursor blinked there for about 30 seconds before I began writing. At first I just transferred my notes from the notebook – breaking them down into sections.

Dark alleyway
imagesMid-winterimages (1)

Party
cocktail partyHero
f7a7403791f3085cf53bf686c55c0ee0
Love
giphyDiscovery

I knew then that I wanted to expand this dream into something more interesting, more dramatic and more creative. I felt like my dream would make a pretty cool movie. But the more I typed, the more I realized this dream needed to be told in the form of a story and not a script.

Understanding the structure of the books I read helped me to apply some of that same structure into developing my own story. I knew what time of year my story would take place – Mid-winter. I knew how I wanted to open the book – Dark alleyway (straight into mystery and darkness). I also knew where I wanted my main character to meet her hero – at a party. And finally, I understood what these characters needed… they needed a reason to live or die. That reason would be love.

I sat back thinking, “Damn, this is pretty good.” But I needed more. I needed to develop my characters.

Next: Meet The Author Part 2 – Creating the Characters

Subscribe here to get more information about the launch of my 1st book!

http://eepurl.com/by3VrP

Summer Vacation – Cancun, Mexico – Paradisus All-Inclusive

What I did this Summer…

Heyyyyyy ya’ll heyyyyy!!!!

It’s so exciting to write you once again and this time, to share my vacation experience with you! My luv and I went to the beautiful country of Mexico, but not just to Mexico…to CANCUN! I know it sounds cliché, – Spring break = Immature fun, but we went during the summer when it was raging-teenager-hormone free! If we saw any, they were there with their parents… praise Jesus cause I can’t deal!

Anyway, my luv and I weren’t alone. My mother and her husband actually double vactioned with us although we left them during the day to embark upon our own private time which equaled – EXCURSIONS! They had a blast all on their own! They actually  had more time to enjoy the resort than we did!

20150627_131601
Aeromexico – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

We were only there for 5 days so we had to jam pack everything into one huge experience. The 1st day was a bust because whoever’s idea it was to fly and connect in Mexico city must’ve been drinking while they booked our flights. #1. Mexico city is the worst place to catch a connecting flight. Hardly any structure for US immigrants, no English speaking employees to guide us through the line and it was so big we had a hard time finding our gate…which we eventually did with moments to spare! – But enough of the negative reviews on Mexico city because the rest of the trip was amazing —- exxxxxxcept when we flipped over on a jet ski in the middle of the ocean but – we’ll get to that later.

Paradisus - Cancun, Mexico - Toi Stori for T.O.I House
Isla Mujeres- Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

The color of the water was spectacular – the beaches amazing, although there was so much seaweed it made it a difficult swimming experience,  just being in another country was everything I hoped it would be – Hot weather, beautiful water, amazing culture, kind and humbling people and excitement to last me until my next trip!

20150627_193400
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

The Paradisus Resort was BEAUTIFUL! It was a 4 star hotel with real vegetation hanging from every balcony, level and floor. It was like living in a real life Oasis. We bought the Royal Suite package which allowed us a butler, exclusive access to private dining areas, private pools (no kids – pa-raise Jesus) and every service you could’ve wanted. 24 hour room service we hardly used and scented pillows with Lavender and Vanilla, Eucalyptus with white tea were some awesome services included in the package! Yummmmm happy snoozing!

20150627_193241
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House
20150627_200035
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House
20150627_200125
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

Day 1 we arrived pretty late so that was a bust thanks to our booking agent getting us on a connecting flight but, whatever. We were beat by time we arrived. We had dinner at one of the all inclusive restaurants (Taco’s – not my choice) but I noticed their portion sizes were extremely small. If you wanted a big adult sized meal, head to the buffet. You can make your own plate and you have waaay more options.

Day 2 my bf and I got up and dressed for the pool. We decided to book our excursions 1st thing. I think we did the best thing by booking the entire week at once because every day we knew what we were doing, where we were goin and what time we’d be back. Scheduling your life is key, why not your vacation UNLESS you’re on vaca specifically to rest. Then you’re best bet is to just go with the flow.

20150627_193308
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

Our 1st excursion on day 1 was the worst experience for me (insert overturned jet ski). It was no surprise to me that my bf couldn’t swim. Although he was in the Navy for 6 years, somehow he got through it without really grasping how to swim “correctly”. He’d told me months before this vacation that he couldn’t swim but I begged him to try a water sport. Just TRY! He’d have on a vest, so he’ll be fine. After MUCH deliberation he obliged, so here we were, finally in Mexico and we sign up for ….Parasailing. Parasailing. What does swimming have to do with parasailing…. shut up and wait…you’ll see. lol

20150627_193246
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

In order for us to parasail, we had to get on a JET SKI to get to the boat that was already in the middle of the ocean. Insert sigh. I’ve never been on a jet ski but I was willing. I’m SUPER adventurous and always open to a new experience but when they told us that we both had to ride behind a guide …I counted 3 grown ass adults on a jet ski…scary but we went on. They told us to bring a camera but if it got wet they weren’t responsible…ooookay so I brought my brand new Nikon DSL D3200 and wrapped it in a plastic bag and the guy placed it in a compartment of the jet ski.

We got on and OMGGGGG he was flying all over the place, jumping waves and I was holding on to him for dear life and my bf holding on to the guys jacket with me in between them for dear life. WTF! Then he stops. Mid water…land just a blink in the distance. He hops off and disappears under the water. BABE! Where the hell did he go?

He appears and in broken English says he needed to take the seaweed off the rotors and for ME to hold the jet ski steady while he basically somersaults over us to get back in front. JESUS give me balance! Be a weight, an anchor, a bouey… cause I can’t!

He finally gets seated in front of me and I think ok, we’re safe, we’ll be there in a moment. Not even 3 minutes later, he stops again and does the same thing! This time as he’s trying to re-board, i’m trying with all of my might to hold it steady, but this Cirque du sole trick he did over my head caused us to flip ALL THE WAY over! The ENTIRE jet ski was upside down, me and my bf were underwater and of course he’s trying to swim up to the surface but he’s pushing me beneath him! I thought OMG this is it. We’re gonna die right here, right now!

I swam away from him and when I came up for air he apologized of course but he was holding on to this rope on the back of the jet ski I hadn’t even noticed previously. I was ok because I can swim, but I more more worried about him. To my surprise, he was very calm. (Must have been that Navy training kicking in I guess) insert eye roll.

I get back on the jet ski 1st, and wait for everyone else to get on behind me. I am absolutely terrified, but everything works out and we continue our journey. Of course i’m crying all the way to the boat because I convinced my bf to try water sports and this is what happens! I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t come all the way down there to lose him to the ocean! Oh hell no!

We finally get to the boat and discover that my camera didn’t survive the journey. It stayed in the compartment but water got inside of it. So you know I was annoyed but not as pissed off because at least we were alive.  I did a no no and tried to turn it on which I’m sure ruined it.

Parasailing was even more stressful because after that near death experience, we go almost a hundred + feet in the air with no belts, no harness – just a 2 seater something. Everytime the wind blew or the boat accelerated, I thought we were gonna fly out! That was it. Get me off and get me out!

Needless to say, we went back to the company we booked with, told them of our horrifying experience and demanded we change our next excursion. Guess what it was…..Jet ski’s! yeeeeeah, no.

So they booked us for a day trip to the island of Isla Mujeres which we did on day 2.

It was absolutely beautiful! We took a boat there which was spectacular! Tequila on the boat, entertainment from the crew and a relaxing ride along the gulf. When we arrived, there were hammocks, beach chairs and a nice little beach to relax. We passed that up and rented a golf cart to explore the island. It was beautiful. We saw Iguanas, some ruins, tons of unoccupied houses, and the views were breath taking.

20150629_120431
Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House
20150629_115513
Isla Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

When we got back, we had a buffet lunch and hopped back on the boat to take us to the downtown area of the island. We walked, did a little shopping, but mostly just explored for 2 hours. So many merchants tried to get us to come into their “little shops” (their words, not mine) and buy over priced knick knacks. Yeah, if everything was handmade, how come every store had em? LOL

I opted to haggle some guy for 2 gorgeous necklaces $15 for 2. I’d seen them sold at so many shops that when someone approached me on the street with a bag of them I couldn’t resist. The stores were selling them for $20 each.

(here I am at happy hour at work with my fun co-worker wearing one. It’s twisted cause I’m having a good time at happy hour! But the middle is supposed to drip towards the center)

wpid-20150730_171956.jpg
Work Buddies – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

 

wpid-20150730_110742.jpg
Isla Mujeres Necklace – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

The next day we went on another day tour to Tulum! It was Marvelous! – and HOT! 1st we got picked up late by our tour bus and then had to listen to a very vocal, highly IQ’d gentleman from Australia who talked everyone’s ear off all day. I thought he was interesting but the hotter it got the less he talked!

1st we went to see the pyramids in Tulum. Awesome, breathtakingly beautiful but there was not an ounce of shade so as my bf and I speed walked throughout the entire complex of ruins, I forced myself to take in the hot breathtaking experience. I was beautiful but damn it was hot as hell!

20150630_130738
Tulum – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

Next they shuffled us off to a little jungle in the middle of nowhere to eat a quite decent buffet lunch – even though they rushed us. We then strapped on our gear to go zip lining! It was amazing and for my 1st time, I had a blast! After that, we rappelled into a cave and then changed to snorkel in a fresh water cave with tiny little fish and bats, bats, bats! Guano anyone?

_MG_2547
Zip Lining – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House
IMG_0064
Zip Lining – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House
IMG_0071
Zip Lining – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

It was a long ride back but it was such an amazing experience I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Tulum - Cancun, Mexico - Toi Stori for T.O.I House
Tulum – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

On our last day, we managed to fit in a speed boat excursion! That was fun and scary because I’ve never driven a boat before, let alone in open water (read above about my new fear of open water) speeding behind boats being inches from the water.

20150701_131519
Speed Boat – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

Once we stopped and anchored to other boats, I was the only one from my family that hopped into the ocean and  snorkeled along the great barrier reef. Talk about amazingly beautiful!!!  It’s like a whole other world down there. Quite alien-like and awe-inspiring. I always seem to have a new appreciation for the Universe, creation, God and life itself when I snorkel.

20150701_142336
Speed Boat – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

I hated to leave that wonderful oasis of beauty, grandeur, lost and rediscovered ancient ruins. I was more emotionally attached to this place than anywhere I’d ever been before. I watch the History channel and I researched the ancient pyramids, drawn to their mystery, history and architectural achievements. I never thought I’d see one up close and I did…and it was AMAZING.

20150628_111336
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House
wpid-20150628_165319.jpg
Paradisus – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House
20150701_182646
Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

If you are drawn to a special place and feel the urge to travel, do it. We only have one life. Make the best of it. I know I will!

20150629_105915
Isla Mujeres – Cancun, Mexico – Toi Stori for T.O.I House

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
For ToiHouse.wordpress.com

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
For ToiHouse.wordpress.com

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 ToiHouse.wordpress.com
Photography by: Toi Stori For ToiHouse.wordpress.com

 

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!