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Quick Recipes

I don't cook that often, but when I do, I do it quickly!

Time Capsuling - A Fun Way to Set Up New Year Hopes

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Write down your hopes (not goals or resolutions) for 4 aspect of your life, put it away, and read it 1 year after. Free hand-lettered printable included.

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How I Screwed Up My Son's Brain. And How I'm fixing it.

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I never believed that excessive screen time could affect children's speech, thinking and social skills. Until it happened to my son. Apparently, fixing it involves me having less screentime as well.

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The One Who Transforms Others Through Jewelries

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

She's a military wife who started making jewelries at home in England, where her hubby was stationed a few years ago. Read how the Loren Hope brand is slaying the industry now, what she's learned, and tips to start your own business.

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#30DaysofGratitude

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

The idea behind this hashtag is very simple: post things you're grateful for for 30 days straight. I don't mean one of those #blessed posts that are actually just boasting/fishing-for-compliments- posts in disguise.  Because seriously, it's easy to add #Blessed when you're taking a selfie on a yacht in St. Barts. But what about the dull everyday moments that you spend with your family at home? Can you count them as blessings too? When I saw people doing it last year, I thought hmm I should do it in 2016. So here we go! I know I won't be able to keep it up, mostly because I don't post on Sundays. But on the days when I do post on social media, I will surely post about the things I'm grateful for, to help remind myself and y'all that there's always something to be grateful for everyday!

Posting these for the last 3 days have stimulated me to be intentional in counting my blessings and being grateful for them. It might seem hard to do so sometimes, especially when we are distracted or overwhelmed by the bad stuff that are happening in our lives. Trust me, I am not posting/writing from a good place. I have been dealing with a lot of things lately. But you know what? I am training myself to at least give thanks to God for the little things. They don't have to be deep. You can thank Him for your family, the existence of your favorite dessert, the weather, or the fact that Cyber Monday is coming soon (which means most online sellers will offer crazy discounts on Monday, 11/28, my store included!) lol.

However you do it, make sure you promote gratitude instead of competition.

And maybe when we get so used to doing it, gratitude can become our lifestyle :) Let's give it a try, friends!

On The End of The World, Cheesy Instagram Captions, & Pampering Myself

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Ever since my blog kinda took off commercially about a year ago, I have developed this strict posting schedule for my blog and social media accounts. I love it, I think it has helped me to maintain my quality, and it has proven to work because I have been getting a lot of opportunities because of my consistency. But as much as I love doing this, I felt so overwhelmed last Friday. I know I said I love to hustle , but with the blog and the store and everything else in between including parenting and marriage, I have been stressed out without even knowing it.

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I still do work here and there, but I have not been blogging and posting anything on social media for a few days, just because I kinda felt I needed a break from it all. I felt sick of cheesy instagram captions, promoting stuff, and writing stuff I sometimes don't mean. And I realized that....

Sometimes you need a break from doing what you love. 

So I'm so grateful that I was given some really good resources by my family at Gateway Stewardship last week. Especially the Present Over Perfect book on the left in the photo above.

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Since last week, I've been taking some time off from blogging, social media posting (except for work), so that I could just be. I used to feel as if the world will end if I do not post something in a day, because I'm going to miss these great opportunities for not having a social media presence that day. Like my blogging career is going to fall apart and I'm going to miss out.

But you know what I've learned?

Life goes on. The world keeps spinning, and we just gotta keep on livin'. 

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And just when I decided to have some rest and take a break, I received a Pamper Pack from one of my favorite brands, Patchology. I didn't want to just take photos of it and post about it. I waited, I made the most of it, and put meaning to it.

I felt so spoiled, though. Got a journal that says 'Live it Up', a love note from the Patchology team, and that pretty sleep mask with lashes and everything :)

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This Flashpatch Eye Gel is to be put right under our eyes at 5 minutes before you put our make up on. It plumps and smoothes our fine lines while soothing, and brightening our under-eye area. I put it in the fridge the night before to give it an extra cooling sensation.

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Didn't have anywhere to go yesterday but that's okay. Just gonna pamper myself and chill.

Next, I gave myself a little massage with this EOS Berry Blossom body lotion which proceeds will be donated to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center throughout this month since October is the National Breast Cancer Awareness month.

It's 100% natural with ingredients like shea butter and avocado oil. It's not sticky/greasy, and it smells so good! Elegant, feminine, but not too complex and overpowering. Most importantly, it's for a good cause. Imagine how many lives we can touch just by pampering ourselves with it :)

Next, of course I sat down, enjoyed my cup of Teh Tarik (Malaysian tea latte), and read my new book by Shauna Niequist.

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And you know what I found? It's okay to leave behind a frantic way of living. It's okay to not follow your tight schedules and step back a little. It's okay to live simply and not always to be on top of everything at all times.

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Here's a little quote featured in the book from a poem by Mary Oliver called Wild Geese:

"You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on you knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on."

Simply beautiful. I'm not there yet, but I know that my journey to a more intentional, soulful, and simple living has just started.

I hope you will get on board with me too :)

 

Small World, Big Imagination.

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Our visit to a pretend play heaven in Southlake, TX! They have everything from a mini supermarket, teepees, to a mini farm!

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Corn Maze, Pumpkins, & Hay Rides - It's Hall's Pumpkin Farm!

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Our visit to Hall's Pumpkin Farm and Corn Maze in Grapevine, TX. FREE admission, BBQ, Ice cream - one of the best pumpkin patches in DFW!

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Stop The Bullying. Spread the love.

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I didn't really plan to write about this until yesterday when I was reading an article and found out that October is the National Bullying Prevention Month. We have so many good causes being campaigned and celebrated almost every month here in the US. However, beside human trafficking and child sponsorship, bullying prevention is one of the very few that are truly dear to my heart. Just like many of you, I have experienced bullying when I was a child. However, sadly enough, I had to experience it until as recently as 6 years ago, when I was in my early 20s.

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With the social media and advanced technology these days, it's so easy for people to voice their opinions about others without even checking the facts or filtering their thoughts first.

I experienced cyber bullying a few years ago due to a horrible mistake that I had publicly made in my workplace. I owned my mistake, I had apologized for it and made amends with all parties involved and damaged by the incident. Even though it was really hard, I had decided to gather the shattered pieces of myself and start over. But women around me were not all excited for me. And I get it. What I did was wrong. But it was none of their business either and it did not validate their being mean to me.

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Many of them trash-talked me on social media, deliberately looked the other way whenever I said hi to them, and they never really got over being mean to me until months and months after.

I don't know what is it about women, but we tend to feel threatened when another women are doing something good for themselves. It's as if they're when they start doing something good for themselves, we ask ourselves "But what about me?" - as if that person is better than us. Better according to whose standard? Don't we realize that we are all works in progress? We tend to compare ourselves with other women, and either beat ourselves up for not having what they have, or beat them up and bully them for our own insecurities.

Why the negativity? Why the hate?

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So today I'd like to encourage you to love others, be kind, be supportive, without being a doormat. You can be selective when it comes to choosing the right friends, because some people are just not worth your time and energy. However, when it comes to being kind and friendly, we can do that to all.

Feel free to pin or share these images I have created to encourage y'all to be kind to others and listen to these songs that might encourage you too :) If you'd like to campaign the anti-bullying cause in your community or at your kids' school, reach out to organizations like Bee Friendly, Pacer, or Stomp Out Bullying and be part of the solution.

***

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXoZLPSw8U8]

Love how she talks about loving yourself despite what people tell you. A beautiful and powerful music video too.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOcLz3YJGCc]

Life might throw your heart to the ground, but the heart of life is good. Love the lyrics, very encouraging. One of my all-time favorite pick-me-up songs. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ism8dBjxKvc]

I am not the mistakes I made, what my family did, or the color of my skin. I am light. India Arie slays as usual in this song.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEVXlTxY_Wk]

This awesome dude is my cousin! This song talks about a little songbird who stopped singing because 'those girls and their circles' talked about her. But then the song went on to encourage the songbird to never stop singing. So beautiful.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTrt6FFuqdA]

This song is to encourage you to embrace your flaws and all the bad things that might have happened to you because they have only made you stronger.

The One Who is Passionate & Persistent

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Summer is over but my family's craving for frozen treats lasts year-round. With J's allergies to peanuts, bananas, and dairy, we have been very selective in choosing our frozen treats. That's why I was so excited when I found out about the handcrafted, artisan Savoy sorbet. 1, because I've had enough of popsciles lol. 2, they're local!
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Made with gluten-free, all natural ingredients, Savoy sorbet offers up to 17 unique flavors  (6 of them are available at Central Market!) that are vegan-friendly. To add flavor, they use alcoholic ingredients like potato vodka and rosemary  rosé, although the alcohols are completely cooked off in the production process (so no worries parents, the sorbets are kid-friendly!!). My favorite flavors so far are the Clove (reminds me of Indonesia!), Lavender (with lime,yum!), Coco Mo (coffee), and Red (hibiscus)!
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Initially, I visited their facility in Irving, TX, just to taste the sorbets and cover how they're made. And I was impressed!
Click play to get a glimpse of the Savoy Sorbet facility (it is baby-friendly! ;)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-5JI0fQ1w4]

The sorbets are all made-to-order by an all-girl team who hand-writes all of the flavors on the packaging. And then I thought, "Wait a minute. There's more to the brand than just delicious, quality sorbets. I think I have found my September heroine!"
So without further ado, meet Angela Bates Keepman. A business owner, a mother, a heroine.
  1. What made you want to start running your own business? 

I worked for two major hotel brands in event planning and sales for 10 years. It was time for a change. Once we started a family it was an easy decision. Although it is a lot of work, owning my own business has allowed me to be flexible with a 5 month old. Plus, It’s nice being the boss of myself   ;)

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  1. The best part of running your own business : 

The best part of running my own business is having a product that people genuinely love. Our fans are always so gracious and complimentary. Sorbet makes people happy. It's awesome to be in the business of feeding people sweet treats.

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  1. The most challenging part of running your own business : 

The most challenging part of running my own business is that there are never enough hours in the day. At any given moment I am feeling guilty about neglecting my child or my business.

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  1. The biggest lesson you have learned so far from doing both (mothering & running your own business)? 

The biggest lesson I have learned from doing both is that organization is key. I am a big fan of routine. We strive to stay consistent with our schedules to help us keep sane in the midst of all that goes on.

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  1. If you could give 1 piece of advice to people who want to start their own businesses (women/mothers in particular), what would it be? 

My advice to women and mothers who want to start their own business is first and foremost you have to be passionate about what you are doing. Owning your own business isn't easy--there are long hours, there are many hats to wear and sometimes the work can seem thankless.  

You also have to be persistent because guess what--you are going to make mistakes. It is how you respond to failure and the mistakes that can be the deciding factor in whether your business makes it or not.

 

  1. Your favorite sorbet flavor : Coconut all day :)
***
follow @savoysorbet on social media to get updates and to show them some love!

Playing Audrey with The Black and The Pearls

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Although I am not a girly girl, everything 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' never fails to woo me. The black Givenchy dress that Audrey Hepburn wore in that movie, the pearls, the hair, everything! So when I got the opportunity to order my own custom-made dress from Eshakti, I wanted something classy, elegant, and not too princess-y. img_9914img_9923img_9928img_9944img_9945img_9959

I couldn't do an updo that morning, because I had to drive J to school and run errands (hello #momlife). But I think my bob hair looked just fine with the dress and those pearl necklace my mom gave me, and those earrings from Rocksbox!

If you have a special occasion coming up, I would highly recommend ordering a custom-made dress from E-shakti. You can do everything online, from seelcting the type of neckline you want, the material, the color, the sleeves, the length, and you can even add pockets! Most of them are only around $50!!

Use my code mozdeb to get 10% off, you can use it multiple times from September 26 to October 26!!! 

And for the earrings with the ear jackets, sign up at rocksbox.com use my code mozdebxoxo to get your 1st month FREE :)

Custom-made dress by : Eshakti | Earjackets by Rocksbox | Photography  Tosha Chaney 

Bubblies, Starfish, and Fun for All Ages - It's #GrapeFest!

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I had been talking about this event since August, and I also did an instagram giveaway for it (congrats to all the winners!) last week. On September 15, The 30th Annual GrapeFest finally took place! And I am so grateful that I got to come and cover the event for 2 days, and even did an instagram takeover with Visit Grapevine

The event was free all day on Thursday (9/15) and free from morning till 5 pm on Friday (9/16), and because J was in school and Mr.Man was obviously at work, I got to enjoy the festival on the first day all by myself!

Click play to watch the whole experience and don't forget to subscribe :)

https://youtu.be/IPtlcFA5KIA

There were so many unique vendors selling everything from jewelries, apparels, to funny wooden signs (one of them says, "God is great. Beer is good. People are crazy" ;) and unique beautiful wine bottle holders.

Now because it was super hot outside, I decided to have my lunch at my favorite spot, Main Street Bakery. But on the second day, I had the brisket on a bun and corn dog with J by the Gazebo Stage.

Pauline, the manager of Main Street Bakery gave me this delicious cronut! It messed up my dress with all of its chocolate syrup drippings. But it was worth it!

What I loved about this festival was the fact that they put time and effort to entertain kids as much as they do with adults. They have interactive games, petting zoo (where a goat jumped onto my chest asking for food and got me screaming like crazy lol), Sea Life touch pool, LegoLand activity center, and GrapeStomp for kids called KidStomp!

I ended both my first and second day at the Champagne Terrace. I would like to participate in the People's Choice Wine Tasting but with a kiddo and no stroller, I had to skip it this year.

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I love this magical moment where the bubble machines were blowing a bazillion bubbles in front of the Champagne Terrace and all of the kids went running to catch them.

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This is insta-worty for sure! ;)

Over all it was an awesome experience, with the food, the live music, and various different wine tastings from different continents that took place. I cannot wait to go back next year!

The Highend But Approachable Board & Barley

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

The weekend is almost here and it's time for me to share about my current favorite place to eat around the DFW metroplex and beyond. My family has been so blessed to be able to do this together as a unit, and J has been such a good little foodie so far so we hope that we can keep this up at least once a month! ;) We had never been to Denton's Historic Downtown Square before so we were so excited to come explore it two weeks ago. They have everything from coffeeshops, pizza places, to boutiques, and more importantly, Denton's first brewpub restaurant, Barley & Board.

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Nestled in the historic Texas Building, Barley & Board has that industrial-country feel to it with bricks, woods, leathers and of course a moose head wall mount. You can hear music like those of Alina Baraz & The Galimatias playing in the background while watching people taking pictures by the mural right across the street through their huge windows.

Check out the in-house brewery! Looking at it got us thirsty! Actually, looking at their menu would make you thirsty, because they pair every meal with a matching beer right on the menu cards! Anyways, Mr. Man went ahead and ordered one of their IPAs.

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I had one of their craft cocktails called Clara Lou, which is an original creation by B&B's bartender that is made of tequila, hibiscus syrup, lime & grapefruit. Ooh, yes it was good. And that flower is edible by the way!

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Our very knowledgable waiter recommended us to try their Sweet Potato Hummus which is served with warm pita breads, pepitas, and chipotle oil. So we placed our order while snacking on some warm sweet & spicy mixed nuts. It's got thyme, brown sugar, and cayenne! Not your regular mixed nuts!

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The hummus was bomb!! What a brilliant idea! The mashed sweet potatoes with garlic and chickpeas make such a great combo. Love the sweetness that you don't normally get in regular hummus. And the Bacon Wrapped Medjool Dates were beautiful. The chorizo and piquillo sauce meet the sweetness of the dates - yummm.  I admire Executive Chef Chad Kelley's attention to detail!

You're probably wondering what J was having. Well he LOVED their matchstick fries! So much that he didn't mind having them without ketchup!

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We had heard that the B&B's Burger had just been named the best in Dallas by D Magazine, so of course Mr. Man had to give it a try. It was very straightforward and simple, they didn't try to get too fancy with it. A couple of fluffy buns, a well-seasoned patty, sweet onions, house sauce and American Cheese (yes, not brie cheese or anything like that) - and you got an amazing burger. Well, burgers don't have to be  complicated right?

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Now my friend, the picture above is a pic of  the Sweet Pig & Angry Bird: half rack ribs, brazen quail, slaw, & pickles. Yup. Seriously, bomb! The sauce really stood out for me because it has that tanginess to it that I like.

Now we were super full by this point, so we decided to box out the leftovers and went straight for the happy endings ;) They don't have their desserts printed on the menu cards, but they do serve them, so you better check with your waiters.

I ordered the scrumptious deconstructed strawberry shortcake with lemon shortbread and amaretto whipped cream. I could taste a hint of basil on their strawberries sauce there. So divine!

Mr. Man went with B&B's own version of s'mores with a thick oatmeal cookie, thick toasted marshmallow cream, and dark chocolates. Again, I love how Barley & Board takes something familiar and classic, and make it their own. Not overly complicated, although very detailed, and highend but approachable. We can't wait to go back!

Have a good weekend, y'all!

 

On Losing Sleep & Chasing Dreams

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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" I lost sleep so I wouldn't have to lose my dream" - Group 1 Crew

I love this quote above by Group 1 Crew that talks about how this rapper spent sleepless nights working on a beat machine when he was younger, to create music and make his dreams come true.

I am not a rapper but I find this line to be so relatable.

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I originally wanted to start an e-commerce business so I don't have to rely on this blog to make an extra income. Plus, I was just so tired of the pretentious nature of the 'influencer industry', so I wanted to lay low and just blog for fun, not for money.

But then God kept on opening doors for me and my blog, and in the last couple of months, I have been blessed with opportunities and partnerships that have given me access to get free food, free tickets, and some extra money.

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So I embraced it. Doing my best to maintain the quality of my contents, without selling stuff to you guys all the time. Do it in a tasteful way, and yada yada yada. And this is time-consuming!

Now I have invested all of my money to building my store, so I have to do all that I can to make money from it! And so came the stress to do photoshoots, marketing, packaging, pop up shops, etc.

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To cut cost, I've decided to do my own photoshoots, even though I am not a professional photographer. I don't have a fancy DSLR so I have to rent one every once in a while and invite friends to support and model my stuff.

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This chick you see in the pic above is Emonne Markland. She is an author, a speaker, a TV producer, and most of all she is a mother and a wife. We met through instagram. She invited me to her Leave Your Beauty Mark coffee connect last year and she's been very supportive ever since! I find that genuine love to be rare, and I am grateful to have people like her in my life.

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It's not easy to maintain my relationships with people though (my family included). I get so busy all the time, my mind gets so occupied with my to-do lists that I can't even think about what I'm cooking for dinner or saying hi to a friend I haven't seen in a while.

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See the photo above? I woke up like that. Like a junkie with bags under my eyes lol. What can I do, I only got 4 hours of sleep!

But why do I do this, really. Are we struggling that bad financially? Can't I just get a 'normal job'?

Well the answer to both questions is NO, my friends. My family isn't going through a financial crisis, although J's surgery back in July was a big hit for us. I just really, really want to contribute to the household income with whatever I can do. I just like to hustle. It's just in me. And if doing what I love can bring us some extra money, why not?

And a 'normal job'? No way. I do not want to be chained to a portioned vacation days. I want to be there for J whenever I want and can although I feel like I haven't done it well enough after being a 'stay-at-home mom' for 3 years now.

Because while most people work from 9 to 5. Moms work from wake to sleep. 

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I believe this chaos is only for a season, though. I believe that I will eventually learn to manage my time better, to let go of some projects that are too time consuming, and to put my family first.

Because like this candle says in the pic above : "Light your home, light the world".

It all starts from home. And whatever I'm chasing won't be any good if I don't put my family first. Hmm...

 

*Item details : Starling Project Vanilla Hemlock Candle | Mozdeb Pretty Thoughts Journal & #Momstruggle Bag 

*behind the scene photos by Vanessa Espinoza, who was also modelling for me. 

Coffee & Spice-Rubbed Chicken Wings #TailgateTraditions

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

If you live in the US or are into American football, you'd probably be aware of the fact that NFL regular season kicks off TONIGHT with Panthers and Broncos's rematch at 8.30 pm EST. While the sport itself is the key element in this occasion, the food that audiences are going to be eating during the course of the whole game is almost as crucial! That's why you see a lot of tailgating food ideas all over pinterest  from sliders to poppers!

But! Here's a unique menu that could be your new #TailgateTradition or family recipe for any occasion : Coffee & Spice-rubbed Chicken Wings!

 

Ingredients:

2 cups light brown sugar

3/4 cup Community Breakfast Blend Coffee, ground

1/4 cup Cajun seasoning

1 tbsp Salt

1 tsp Black pepper

6 lbs Chicken wings (or drumettes)

Green onions for garnish

Directions:

  • Combine brown sugar, cajun seasoning, coffee, black pepper, and salt in a medium bowl
  • Spray grill rack with cooking spray, pre heat grill to 350 degrees
  • Dip chicken wings into the coffee spice rub and then grill them in batches for 20 minutes

The subtle bitterness and acidity from the coffee actually blend very well with cajun seasoning and brown sugar! I gave it a try last weekend and it turned out to be surprisingly delicious!

The coffee makes it savory, the brown sugar balances it off with its sweetness. And when you serve the wings with your favorite BBQ sauce -- oh, that's perfection!

If you're baking them, deep-fry the wings for 15 minutes after you bake them. Seriously, you won't regret it. It makes them extra crispy and flavorful!

You can find this recipe and many other delicious coffee-inspired Game Day recipes on the recipe booklets found attached to Community Coffee Tailgate Tradition packagings or online here. 

Now if you're a true coffee-lover with an undying love for football, you would want to read this paragraph below.

Why?

BECAUSE YOU MIGHT WIN TRIPS TO SUPERBOWL 51 NEXT YEAR!!

Community Coffee Company is partnering with Southwest Airlines® for its annual Instant Win Sweepstakes game and sweepstakes, Tailgate Traditions. From July through September, 2 million packages of Community® coffee will give fans a chance to win an all-expense-paid trip to Houston for the Big Game along with over 500 instant win prizes.

To participate, you can purchase specially-marked packages of Community® coffee in a variety of blends and flavors. Each package will feature an on-pack sticker containing a unique game code, which can be entered online at TailgateTraditions.com for the chance to win. In addition to saving 55¢ on a future Community® coffee purchase, you will be eligible to win a variety of valuable prizes.

This year’s grand prize includes a trip to Houston with two tickets to a sponsor-designated event, round trip airfare on Southwest Airlines® and hotel accommodations, as well as a $1,000 gift card, coffee brewer and one-year supply of Community® coffee.

Instant win prizes include Flat Screen TVs, Keurig® K300 Brewers & Coffee Bundles , Outdoor Grills, and more!

Community coffee is available for purchase at grocery stores throughout the Southeast region of the United States and by visiting CommunityCoffee.com so get yours today!!

This post was written by me through an activation with HireInfluence on behalf of Community Coffee. Although I received compensation for participating in the campaign, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Pairing Fine Texas Wines & Cheeses at Cross Timbers Winery

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Labor Day weekend has passed and summer is officially over but the excitement continues in the City of Grapevine! As you might have read in my previous post, the ultimate wine experience, GrapeFest, is coming next week from September 15th through the 18th and you and your family are invited! To celebrate, I got a little bit of a head start last week when I went to sample an array of exquisite local wine & cheese selections at Cross Timbers Winery.

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Located in the Historic Brock Family farm house, Cross Timbers Winery  now serves as a popular venue for weddings, receptions, parties and other special occasions. Providing 'wine tasting with wine education', the winery's tasting room is open for public from Tuesday to Sunday (see complete schedule here), with a wide variety of wine to choose from including reds, whites, single varietals, and blends.

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For this particular evening, I got to taste the Cross Timbers Muscat Canelli, Cross Timbers Chardonnay, Cross Timbers Sangiovese, and Cross Timbers Tempranillo.

We paired the wines with the delicious cheeses from Dallas' very own, Mozzarella Company . Owner Paula Lambert hosted this session, as she guided us through each pairing.

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Lambert fell in love with fresh mozzarellas when she was on an extended visit to Perugia, Italy. Due to the absence of such delicacy back home in Texas, she decided to bring the art of cheesemaking home with her. Her factory has been making fresh, award-winning cheeses by hand now for 34 years!

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We sampled Queso Blanco with Chiles and Epazote, Smoked Seamorza, Montasio Festivo, and Caciotta Black Pepper and Garlic (a lot of people's favorite that evening!).

My favorite combo was definitely the Cross Timbers Chardonnay with Smoked Scamorza! I loved the smokiness of the smooth, hand-formed cheese (they were smoked over pecan shells!) paired with the light-bodied Chardonnay.

But there was a wild card pairing! And it turned out to be my ultimate favorite!

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Cross Timbers Sparkling Wine with Cella and Rosemary Montasio! I loved the Cella cheese best! It is a mixture of cow's and goat's milk, with a subtle citrus flavor from lemongrass. Excellent, excellent flavor. I couldn't get enough of it!

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Some of the lovely ladies I met at the event include (left to right) Julia Sizemore (GrapeFest volunteer), Paula Lambert (Mozzarella Company), Carolyn Lease (event organizer), and Sharon Kircher (with Bank of the West, the presenting sponsor of GrapeFest).

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And the lovely lady on the far right on the picture above is Penny Bigbie, owner of Cross Timbers Winery.

Kimberly Foster from Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau was kind enough to get me a cookbook from Paula Lambert (signed!!) called Cheese, Glorious Cheese and this sweet encounter between the two of them in the photos below wrapped up my beautiful evening at Cross Timbers!

This is just a glimpse of the ultimate wine experience that The 30th Annual GrapeFest has got to offer next week! I can not wait to see y'all there! If you haven't already, get your tickets here

 

Rustic, Cozy, & Generous - It's Great Harvest Bread Co.

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

The long weekend is almost here! To celebrate, I'd like to talk about our new favorite spot in the city of Southlake that has got us falling in love with bread all over again, Great Harvest Bread Company :) GHS (5 of 15)

The first thing you'd notice when you walk into this place is the rustic, magnolia-ish vibe that they've got going on here with wooden tables, wooden crate boxes, a marquee sign, and metal signs.

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You can hear songs like Vance Joy's Georgia playing in the background, and sometimes even the sound of the employees karaoke-ing to the store's playlist while happily preparing your sandwiches.

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I dig their mission! Especially the part where it says, "Run fast to help everyone and give generously to others." That should be our life mission in general!

Love the nice Texas touch there with the God Bless Texas sign, the pale blue hydrangeas, and the coffee marquee sign. This place feels like a cozy country home that you just want to stay in for hours. And don't get me started on their housemade bread! And butter!

The Vanilla Honey Butter served on a warm toast (ask for Bread of the Day!) was just divine! That, served with a cup of locally roasted coffee or craft tea? Hmm...I know where I'd be going for my Fall/Winter-warm-beverage-fix this year!

If you're craving for something more filling than breads and muffins, they have a great variety of sandwiches and salads. My favorites  was the Grown Up Grilled Cheese! I had it with some sparking clementine soda, and topped it off with their delicious Cashew Crunch Bar!

If you plan to visit this place at anytime soon, I suggest you to start at the bread tasting board. Just pick a bread, maybe a little butter, and sample the delicious baked goods! You won't be disappointed!

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Of course my little J wouldn't sit still. He was dancing while standing on his chair and drinking soda! Notice the camo cast on his left hand? Yeah, he's back on it for a couple of months to speed up the recovery process. If you're wondering what it's for, read about it here :)

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Their mission about helping people is not just for the sign they hang on their walls. GH Southlake actually saves their breads for homeless shelters!

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Now that's a bakery, as it ought to be --> Feeding the hungry and bringing a little happiness to people's hearts with one fluffy, made-from-scratch, quality bread at a time.

Can't wait to come back here and chill with my family :)

Have an awesome Labor Day weekend y'all!

YAY

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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Black and gold. It's all about the black and gold today. Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 7.49.52 AMyayyay2

A few months ago I thought to myself, "Instead of just piling up the money I was making (however little it was) and spending it on lashes, emergency chick-fil-a runs, and whatnots, why not cultivate it and make more money from it with what I love and am passionate about?"

And then this idea of opening up an online store came to mind. I only have 8 products so far, but it's a start. Gonna start adding up more soon and I ship worldwide. Click here to shop :)

The One Who Time Travels Through Stories

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

I'm super excited about this month's heroine. She is a dear friend of mine who seems to know just the right thing to say at the right time. She founded this community called Openseat, press play and watch the video before you read this article :) https://youtu.be/EVF9wkmzj54

She is a queen in the her own right, a storyteller, a speaker, and most of all she is a wife and a mom. This is Queen K. Smith :)

You describe yourself as a story teller. How did you get into it? Why are you so passionate about it?

I grew up in a very community centered culture in Cameroon, West Africa. We must have coined the phrase, "it takes a village to raise a child,'' lol! One of my fondest memories was when the whole family, 18+ of us (yep you read that correctly!), would gather around the fireside and listen to stories from the elders. My father was an incredible story teller; I guess you can say like father like daughter. I remember being captivated by stories at a young age. Those stories allowed me to time travel, and every time a story was told I felt something different. It didn't matter if I had heard the story before. I pulled courage and inspiration from the moments shared.

During some of the stories I held my breath during the conflict and exhaled when hope was about to break through! Now as an adult nothing has changed. I still marvel at people and their stories and I still love eating with people I meet. I want to know where they have been/where are they now/ and where they are going. As a story teller I get to take you on a journey (without paying for airfare lol).

A lot of people write stories, but not many are good in telling them. What makes the two so different?

I know some amazing story tellers, I honestly think everyone I encounter is a story teller. When I do I share, I do so with intention to build and not to destroy. A good story in the wrong environment does not accomplish anything. A great story teller paints a visual picture that will not appear if he/she is disconnected from their audience and merely just sharing an experience.

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Do you personally feel like stories could make an impact in people's lives? How has it helped you personally?

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Girl yes! Stories are up there with chicken tacos with avocado! Stories help encourage, reveal, teach, to pass knowledge and they help us other understand others. I have personally learned from other people's story to avoid mistakes. I have personally helped others uncover their story and their core. Stories often times bring clarity and wisdom.

 To you personally, what makes a good story?

Truth and Authenticity makes a great story. The key is to not make your story look like someone else's.

 You are a mom. Have you always wanted to be one? 

Always!! I come from a huge family and I have dreamed about having a football team as well, jk. We have a beautiful 2 year daughter that I prayed for. I think she looks like me, that’s my story and I am sticking to it lol. Everyone thinks that she looks like her dad. I love my family.

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Do you tell stories to your daughter? If yes, what's her favorite story?

I sure do and I go all out.  She is two and I can already see in her eyes that she thinks I am dramatic. She has the beginner's bible with stories about Jesus for children; we thought that was perfect for her to learn about Jesus, the ultimate story teller.

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The cool thing is that most of the stories are the miracles Jesus performed, I want her to dream big. She loves all those stories.

 If people want to listen to your stories, where should they go?

I get to do Story Telling at our Open Seat Community and different conferences/events. One upcoming event in particular will be at the Miss Africa Texas Pageant this Saturday in Plano, TX. I also have a YouTube channel under the name, Queen K Smith. I have some upcoming stuff that I am going to doing specifically geared towards stories. Be on the lookout, you may visit my website and subscribe for upcoming activities and events.

A Taste of France in the Heart of Grapevine

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

The beauty about being a foodie, a.k.a someone who loves food and is open to trying many different kinds of food (mostly gourmet), is that you get to travel the world without having to leave town. Finding different types of foreign cuisines is not that difficult these days, especially if you live in a big city. Last weekend, our 'destination' of choice was France, and we're so thrilled that we got to savor some delicious French-American dishes at Chez Fabien at the Main St. Bakery on Main Street, Grapevine.

We usually come here for breakfast on the weekends because we love the pastries like the Dessert Trio, Almond Croissant, and the giant macarons.  Or when we're in the mood for something more filling, we'd go for Le Parisien, Chocolate Chip pancakes, and Belgian Waffles.  

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This time however, we're going for the dinner menu! So I dressed up a little bit to welcome the weekend and the fact that I got to be off duty for a little while (what up clutch bag reference! hehe). Well not really. I am never off duty ;)

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We were greeted by a friendly staff who took us straight to this cute spot by the Le Place des Bisous sign, which means the place of kisses. Aaww...

Kisses aside, we were hungry, so it was time for us to order some appetizers. The bread basket had this creamy butter with scallion in it that I loved, and the escargot were buttery and flavorful, we couldn't help but to ask our server to not clear the plates yet so we could dip the bread in the remaining melted butter, garlic, thyme and all of those herbs!

J had just woke up from his long nap so he was a bit cranky. And by a bit I meant crazy cranky lol. The manager Pauline was very understanding though. We immediately ordered him some Grilled Salmon and Fries. What? Yes, they have good menus for kids, not just some basic mac n cheese or pb & j. And check out that old school entertainment! Etch the Sketch! But of course, being born at 2013, J thought it was an iPad.

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I asked our server Casey to surprise me and he ordered me the Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken. The chicken fell off the bone, you can taste the herbs all the way to the bone, and the purple baby carrots added just the right crunch to the whole dish.

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I paired it with their summer cocktail Concombre Bouquet which balanced the whole dish with its fruity, fresh taste. Mr.Man went with Pinot Grigio out of the 60 wine selections that they offer.

This is how I eat every day by the way. With a toddler boy holding my neck and jumping up and down around me lol.

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Mr. Man had the Friday night special which was the Bouillabaisse, a seafood stew that's originated from the port city of Marseille with ingredients like garlic, tomatoes, fennel, fish, and shellfish. Here at Chez Fabien, they add their own spin to it though by adding King Crab. The broth was on point, I would highly recommend you to try this dish instead of the more Americanized selections, although they do serve burgers :)

What added a more oomph to the whole French vibe going on here was the live performance by Isabel Crespo (she performed La Vien Rose!). If you can't make it here on Friday nights, there's also live music on Thursday and Saturday from 7 pm to 10 pm. That awesome sparkler birthday candle on the left is just what the bistro usually does for customers who are celebrating their birthdays. That's lit!

As a happy ending to our lovely evening, we savored some Banana Nutella Crepe and Bistro Bread Pudding. They are so generous with nutella on their crepes so if you love nutella like I do, you should order the crepes! The bread pudding is always available from breakfast to dinner, it's got the chewy texture that I like, and it comes with lots of peanuts! Yum! If you're allergic, make sure you let them know :)

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Over all, it was a sweet family nightout accompanied by sweet acoustic live music, delicious French dishes, and some craft cocktails (they make their own syrup and juices here!). The best thing was we didn't have to travel very far.  Can't wait to go back here :)

If you're coming to GrapeFest this September, Main St. Bakery will have a booth open outside the bakery/bistro serving their famous Croi-Dough and also sandwiches!