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Focus On The Blessings

{my happy flower hair clip that I've had for years...still makes me smile}

Can you believe we're almost in the last month of the year? Life is just flying by and this week was so busy that I completely lost track of time. Everytime I turned around it was time to go to sleep, and I still had so much to do, but no energy to do it. And as much as I would like this weekend to be a quiet one... knowing the schedule already, it's going to be hectic. However, despite how crazy, or annoyingly disappointing a week can be, I have been making the effort to acknowledge the little things that were integral in making me smile and/or grateful. Hey, just having a measure of health and strength, are things to be grateful for.

{One of the best gifts I've ever received fourteen years ago}
{Nothing makes me smile more than having good friends over for a meal}

{The cloud mass is the powder of God's feet ~ reminding us that he is there}

{Wearing my new knee socks that are so soft and cozy put a smile on my face}
Happy Friday!


Eggnog and Coconut Panna Cotta

Whether you're planning an intimate get-together for a few friends or a lavish dinner party, make it an impressive and memorable one  with this oh-so-simple dessert that can be prepared the day before, which to me is the best bonus of all. Panna cotta {which is an Italian dessert that means cooked cream} is one of my favorites and over the years I have made it many different ways. If you're the type that usually shies away from making dessert out of fear of it being overly complicated, well, have I got you covered with these two recipes.   I promise you, this is a dessert that you will make over and over again because of its decadence.

The bonus:  Not only am I going to give you the recipes for my two favorite flavored panna cottas, but also the special tasty velvety homemade sauces that I often like to serve with each one. The first is the eggnog version served with caramel sauce and the second one is the coconut panna cotta served with my homemade chocolate tequila truffle sauce. I tell you, these sauces will have you shamelessly licking the plate.

Bring the chef skills out in you and be creative with your plating, which will make an impressive presentation that your friends will remember for sometime to come.

Eggnog Panna Cotta {served with caramel sauce... makes 6 servings}

2 cups eggnog
1 tbsp unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup honey (I use agave syrup which doesn't spike your blood sugar)
1 tbsp sugar (optional, especially if you choose to serve it with the caramel sauce)
1/8 tsp salt


Put your milk into a heavy saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin. After waiting 5 minutes, turn on the heat to medium. Stir about 3 to 5 minutes until the gelatin dissolves without letting the milk boil. Add the remaining of your ingredients, stir another 5 minutes until everything dissolves and feels silky. Turn off heat. Pour into 6 serving glasses of choice 1/2 full. Cool slightly. Refrigerate until set, at least 8 hours or overnight.

Using a knife, loosen your panna cotta after it sets and plate it over the CARAMEL SAUCE , adding mixed berries on top if you want.

Coconut Panna Cotta  {served with chocolate tequila truffle sauce... makes 6 servings}


1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup agave syrup (can also use honey)
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt.

*Follow the same Directions above.

Chocolate Tequila Truffle Sauce Recipe


1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp butter
6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cafe infused tequila or Amaretto (optional)


Put the butter and heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the butter is melted (without letting the mixture boil). It's ok, if you see tiny bubbles.

Then remove the pan from the heat; add your chocolate chips and let it soften in the hot cream about 1 minute. Stir in your vanilla extract and tequila/or Amaretto until the chocolate is melted.


5 Practical Ways To Successfully Deal With Debt

For the last couple of days my E-mail inbox has been flooded with "Cyber Deal" adds like nobody's business. It made me realize how easy one can unconsciously get into debt if you fall for all the hype of these "SALES" that we get bombarded with. This thought impelled me to write this post. Around this time of year I know so many people are putting their hard-earned dollars to some vigorous exercise by buying gifts. As much as it is great for the overall economy, debt can strain or even destroy families as well. For instance, think of the consequences of possibly maxing out credit cards: you may have to spend less time together with your family the rest of the year working overtime to pay off the bills, not to mention that large credit card debt leads to more tension and fights within the family.

It's been said that the leading cause of divorce in United States is disagreements about money. Excessive debt also brings health risks, such as insomnia, headaches, stomachaches, heart attacks, and depression. Some even sleep most of the day because they're depressed about their debt; becoming helpless to their family that depend on them for emotional support and love. For some, the stress becomes so unbearable that they commit suicide after falling behind on payments. Remember, it will not help matters if you vent anger on your mate - even if you had no part on incurring the debt. Instead, view the debt as a mutual enemy that has come between you and your family. Fight the debt, not each other. Such cooperation will help you solve your financial problems unitedly and will you guide your future financial decisions.

What if your family is already under stress because of debt? What can help you meet the challenges you face? Here are 5 practical ways to successfully deal with debt.

1. TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR FINANCES. Determine your current budget. Keep a record of all money moving in or out of your household for two weeks—or a month, if that is more practical. Add to this record expenses such as taxes, insurance, or clothing, which may occur much less frequently, and use monthly averages for them.

2. INCREASE YOUR INCOME. You could take on extra shifts at your current job, perform seasonal work, tutor a student, recycle, or make your hobby into a home business.

Caution: Take care not to allow work to encroach on activities that are more important, such as spending time with your family.

3. REDUCE YOUR EXPENSES. Buy an item only if you need it, not just because it's on sale. Waiting to buy is good, since it helps you to decide if you really need the item or just want it.

TIPS: Here are some additional things to think about...
  • Housing: Can you move into a residence with a smaller monthly payment? It will reduce your utility costs by conserving electricity, water, and heat.
  • Food: Can you pack lunch and snacks daily? It will save you the money spent on eating out regularly everyday. Use grocery coupons and other special offers. If possible, buy your fruits and vegetables at street markets just before they close. You will get a better deal.
  • Transportation: Instead of trading in your current vehicle for newer models, why not keep it. Sell any nonessential vehicle(s) for extra cash, or can use public transportation or walk whenever you can. Bonus: you'll reap some health benefits doing that.

4. ANALYZE YOUR DEBT AND ACT. First, determine for each debt the interest rate, the fees, and how a late payment or missed payment will impact you. Make sure to examine well the wording of any loans or bills carefully, since creditors can be deceptive. For example, one short-term loan service in the U.S. stated that its interest rate was 24 percent, when, in fact, it was over 400 percent.

Ways to tackle your debts.
  • Pay down debt with the highest interest rate first.
  • Pay smaller balances off quickly, since receiving fewer bills each month will likely boost your morale.
  • Get a new loan at a lower rate to pay off the existing ones.
  • Try to negotiate payment plans with your creditors by asking for either an extension or a lower interest rate. Some creditors might be willing to reduce what you owe if you can pay the lower amount in full right now.
  • Be honest and courteous in explaining your financial situation.
  • Put all agreements in writing.
  • Don't give up if your requests aren't successful at first, be willing to persist in asking for an adjustment if necessary.
  • Be realistic as you manage your finances. Even the best plan can fail as a result of factors beyond your control since money can be here today and gone tomorrow.
  • Dealing with debt calls for sacrifices; yet the results are worth the effort.

5. KEEP MONEY IN ITS PROPER PLACE. Rather than being obsessed with money or the lack of it, it's best being content with what you have and your current financial circumstances choosing to view friendships and families more important than material possessions. Spending more time with your spouse, children, friends and family will make you happier.

TIP: Arrange time to talk openly and calmly about your debt. Acknowledge any mistakes you may have made. Rather than dwelling on the past, try to agree on talking candidly about all future purchases. Your children can join in the effort by explaining to them that you can't afford everything that they ask for, and will buy it when the money is saved over time. Prepare a budget, discuss how everyone can reduce expenses or increase family's income. Seeing one another's sacrifices can help pull each individual together in the fight against debt.

*Try this: List things that are truly valuable to you and that money cannot buy. Next, determine how to increase the time and energy you devote to each item on your list.

*Images: {1} personal {2} lana-del-rey-vogue-australia-07 {3} source {4} source  {5} source {6} Pinterest


Gift Ideas For Those Difficullt To Shop For

When it comes to gift giving, it is the thought that counts, right? However, how about the ones that already have everything they need, or can be very difficult to shop for? What do you get them? As much as I think that gift cards can come across as impersonal, they can be the best option for the person whom it is difficult to shop for. A gift card from someone's favorite store is a very practical gift. Personally, I usually prefer gift cards as I tend to be in the category of one who is difficult to shop for because I'm very particular.  Dont' get me wrong, I've received some great gifts that I still have to this day, but they're from very close friends that know me well. However, since I don't like chotchkies I tend to get rid of anything that I'm not fond of or is impractical to me...that's when a gift card comes in handy because it allows the person to get what they truly love and need - making it the gift that lasts for a long time.

The stores I have received gift cards from and love...

* Amazon...
* American Express...
* Bed Bath and Beyond...
* Best Buy...
* Bloomingdales...
* iTunes...
* Macy*s...
* Pier One Imports...
* Sephora... (offering free shipping right now)
* Spa gift card (give the gift of relaxation)
* Starbucks gift card (my favorite!:)
* Target...
* Ulta Beauty...
* Victoria's Secret...
* Visa/or Master card...

Other related links...

* Check your American Express balance without leaving home...
* Gift card questions and answers...
* More gift ideas...


Geometric On A Grey Day

Geometric dress (old), Black fur jacket (ancient...similar), Suede ankle booties, (another oldie, but the most comfortable...I don't know the brand since it has been erased - similar, but I also love this one and that one), Black DKNY tights (also old), Necklace (similar...also shown here), Pandora bracelet (old), Kenneth Cole watch, Dark plum dome ring with silver accents (here's another option
I'm a person that for the most part will put on something cheery on gloomy days just to perk me up. On this particular super brisk grey day, I felt I needed something zippy, yet not too shocking.  What better way to liven things up then with this simple geometric-print sleeveless dress with a swirly design comprised of purple, violet, white, black and lavender - added to this are my old comfortable black suede ankle booties, DKNY tights and a short black fur jacket. A necklace with a hint of yellow cording provided the bling factor that gave this outfit life... serving as a positively colorful accessory against the grey daylight.
I had a rather lazy hair day, so I went for somewhat of a messy side twist.


Find The Gems Amongst The Thorns

{A touching and thoughtful card from a friend} 

If not careful, living in this hard pressed world can undoubtedly blind us from appreciating the little, yet important happy things in our life. Realizing this, I started the series on this site called "Joie De Vivre". This journal not only chronicles the happy moments that put a smile on my face and things that I find inspiring during the week; it also forces me to find/focus on life's daily gems amongst the thorns of life so-to-speak, which I have to say has been enjoyable to document. No matter how bad a day or week can be, making the mental note of finding and focusing on the things that have made a difference in your life throughout the week definitely helps to develop appreciation and happiness. I wish you all happy and safe long weekend!

{Columbus Circle's colossal globe is such a pleasant sight every.time.}

{The TV show that I can never get enough of and thoroughly enjoyed being there}
{I wanted to take him home with me from Times Square subway station}
{These words are such great reminders + positive affirmations}


Throw Pillow Makeover

I find that when you have a creative passion, decorative objects are bound to eventually go through a makeover or change. As we evolve so does our taste and personal style. What at one point was aesthetically pleasing, may now be dull and boring.  Now these items either need to be donated, thrown out or given a makeover. Like these pillows - they worked in my previous decor style but not so much in my new NYC apartment living room. Since the room is small and doesn't get much light, I needed pillows that could add a little bit of personality to bring some life to the room. I'm a lady that loves anything plush, silky soft and fluffy... naturally, I was looking for a bright pillow in a zigzag pattern but wasn't finding them in a soft smooth fabric that I was after. Then I found this plush velvety throw at TJMaxx for only $15!  My first thought when I saw it was 'I'm going to use this blanky to cover my drab pillows on the sofa'.  An hour or so later, I transformed the pillows which now cheer up the sofa and the feel to the touch is AH-MAZING! Using a throw to cover some throw pillows is an innovative way of thinking outside the box eh!



The nice thing is that I was able to cover two pillows and still have plenty of fabric left which I'll probably use to cover boring lampshades. Oh, did I say that one side of the pillow is just a solid orange color?  The great thing about the throw I used was that one side of it was the zigzag pattern and the other side just a plain solid orange. I like the versatility of being able to alternate them when I get tired of the zigzag pattern. It's definitely what you would call a two-fer.

What you'll need:
* Fabric of your choice
* Scissors to cut fabric to the size of your pillow
* Thread and needle to sew up the seams once you insert your pillow into the fabric.
* A thimble to protect the fingers from all the sewing. Yes, I sewed them by hand since I don't own a sewing machine. If you have a sewing machine, this project will be a breeze.


The Friendship Poem

Friends are like flowers that blossom each and every day.
As the rain descends and keep watering them they grow more beautiful
and stronger. So too with a good friend, as the years go by the friendship gets stronger and stronger. The understandings, the sharing of happinesses, and disappointments are like the buds that intertwine with each other and keep them from withering.


Have You Met Kelly Wearstler?

I am inherently drawn to beautiful things and boy, am I pleasantly surprised to have stumbled upon the closet of Kelly Wearstler here which had me smiling from ear to ear...go ahead, have a look. It's the ideal lady's shoe collection and closet. The different hues she uses in the room is what would give any woman a great reason to wake up at the crack of dawn just to get dressed and be ready to take on any day. I love a woman who exudes beauty! Truly inspirational - the visual of that closet alone makes my heart skip happy beats.

Check out her book Hue... I'm definitely getting this one

Other amazing Kelly Wearstler Collections:

Doesn't it make you smile just to see such pretty surroundings?

*Images: {1} source {2} source {3} ElleDecor {4} source {5} source {6} source


Black Hat & Grey Poncho

Calvin Klein hat, Calvin Klein top, Grey Poncho {similar}, Old Navy skinny jeans{similar},  Dana Buchman sunglasses {no longer available...but here's an inexpensive one}, Black booties, Daisy Fuentes necklace, Red clutch {similar}, fun mixed bangles

It was a rough start to the week when a heartless, morally senseless villain broke into our car. Nothing was stolen as we don't keep anything of value in the car but it put us out $370 to fix the smashed window.  All I wished was for the week to end on a good note and I am very grateful that it did.

On a lighter note, I love hats and always jump at the opportunity to wear one when I get a chance. Fall is such a great season for hats, so when I found this Calvin Klein hat, I knew it was coming home to join the many other hats {my rather obsessive collection} in my closet. It was one of those days that I had errands to run which means I had to dress properly as oppossed to my home uniform consisting of stretch pants and long sweaters.  Being that it was a cold gloomy day, I opted for my very old warm thick wool ribbed knit round neck poncho and skinny stretch jeans which are so comfy and did the trick.


Some hat options here: