I guess I could just say - find your favorite pancake recipe, add several scoops of pumpkin butter, stir and make pancakes; but then, you won't get to read about my woes with coming up with a pumpkin butter recipe. I am on my third jar of pumpkin butter for the season and started to think - there has got to be more I can with this besides smearing it on everything. Seriously everything !

I went on a mission to create a pumpkin butter recipe. I tried a to make a pumpkin butter bundt cake - that failed woefully; then I thought instead of a bundt, maybe cupcakes ?!? - Another epic fail. Then I tried to come up with a pumpkin butter cookie recipe. It tasted fab but the"cookie" crumbled bad - I feel awkward even calling it a cookie. Then, a random Wednesday evening - I decided to try one more thing before calling it quits on pumpkin butter recipe for the year. Bute fate was shining down because - I found my recipe (woo hoo). I love this so much. In the last two weeks - I have made several batches of this and nibble on it for snacks, breakfast, dinner (and just about any time of day, really). Sometimes, I eat it with a drizzle of honey, other time, I smear on pumpkin butter or strawberry jam. The piece de resistance is smearing Nutella on the pancake - hallelujah.

What you need: 

  • 1-1/2 cup of flour
  • 3-1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoon of sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1-1/4 cup of milk
  • 4 tablespoon of pumpkin butter (I get mine from Trader Joe's)
  • oil or cooking spray

How To:

In bowl, combine milk, egg and butter and whisk. Set aside. Sift flour, salt, baking soda and powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk.egg.butter mixture. mix till smooth.

Add pumpking butter and mix until fully combined.

Oil the griddle or fry pan over medium heat. Scoop batter into pan (or griddle) - I use eiither ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup depending on size of pancake I want. Cook until it start to bubble or golden brown, flip over to cook the other side. Serve hot with drizzle of honey or maple syrup OR you smear with pumpkin butter, strawberry jam or nutella.


A few years ago, some girlfriends and I headed off to San Diego for a long weekend. Because, flights to SD were expensive, we chose to fly into LAX and drive the hour and half to SD.  The week before our getaway, news of wildfire in the area around SD broke leading us to consider staying in LA for the long weekend (that was the plan when we boarded the flight). What transpired over the five days we were on the West Coast ,is what I call whirlwind travel and although I returned to Dallas needing another vacation I would not trade in the time with my nearest and dearest,


We checked into our room at Renaissance Hotel Century City around 6 in the evening. After a catch-up session and nap, it was time for dinner at the famous Roscoe's Chicken. After dinner, we headed to China Town, past the Chinese Theater and walk of fame. The area was too crowded for us and because we were still exhausted from the flight it - we called it a night.


Due to reports of heavy smoke fog in the area surrounding San Diego, we deferred our trip to SD and spent the day exploring Rodeo drive.  While trying on Jimmy Choos and deciding to not spend my savings on the Louis Vuitton Speedy Bandouliere, someone mentioned Vegas. Without much thought or time, we hurriedly abandoned window shopping to pick up our rental car from the hotel. One hour later we were headed for Vegas. An hour  and a half into the drive, it was evident we were not the only ones with Vegas on the mind.  The normally four-hour drive from LA to Vegas took us almost seven hours. 

Arriving in Vegas about 8:15 p.m - we were worn out from the long drive. We checked into the Encore hotel and took much-needed nap/rest before heading out to the strip just before midnight. We walked the length of the strip; played the slots at the hotel casino (I won 75 cents - whot !). The Encore is connected to the Wynn and both have an incredible interior. We walked the grounds before calling it a night. 



Before we left for the West Coast "F" had one request - to spend her birthday in San Diego. We left Vegas mid-morning after a lovely meal at one of the Encore restaurants. It was a much pleasant drive than the LA to Vegas drive the day before. We arrived in SD just in time to make our dinner reservations at University Club atop symphony towers. After dinner, we strolled through the gas lamp district before calling it a night.  


Back to Los Angeles - but first, a quick stop in La Jolla and breakfast at Cody's. We arrived in LA mid afternoon and made out way to Santa Monica.  We walked along Santa Monica pier stopping to people watch and stuff our faces with everything unhealthy from funnel cake to ice cream. We missed out on the beach because none of us thought to pack swim suits for a trip to Los Angeles. We planned to round off the day with beverages and an incredible view from  Joan's on third, but the wait was a bit much. Instead, we did some window shopping at Nordstrom.

Our crazy trip itinerary was starting to catch up with us. We had an early (and quiet) dinner at Baja Cantina before calling it a night at the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey.  Next morning, we packed up and headed back home, but not before stopping at Whiskey Red for brunch. This place was recommended as a great brunch spot, I thought it was overpriced.


Every year on my birthday, I pick one area that I want to work on, improve etc. This year I decided to shift my eating habits. Nothing extreme, just little tweaks and changes in the way I eat, less salt, less fat, less eating out and less take out. Better portion control, meal planning, home cooking, ingredients and recipes. I also wanted to infuse delicious meat less recipes and I finally have a great one to share with you - Chana Masala aka chick pea stew. This has become my go to healthy, meatless option. I usuallty serve it with brown rice or just by itself. 

Chana Masala

I usually use canned chick pea when I am pressed for time which is just about everytime I make this , but you can also use raw chick peas. Follow the cooking instructions on the pack to prep it before joining into the recipe below. 

What you need:

  • Two tablespoons of clarified butter (ghee)
  • One tablespoon minced garlic
  • One large onion (diced)
  • Half teaspoon salt
  • Half teaspoon coriander
  • Half teaspoon turmeric
  • One teaspoon garam marsala
  • Half teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • One 6 oz can of tomato sauce
  • One heaping tablespoon of tomato paste
  • Two 15 oz cans of garbanzo beans
  • One teaspoon cilantro
  • Bay Leaves
  • Half teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Vegetable stock (optional)

How To

  • Heat clarified butter over medium heat. Once hot, add garlic and onions and cook for five minutes.
  • Add spices - coriander, turmeric, salt, red pepper flakes, stir and cook on medium heat for seven to ten minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add tomato sauce and tomato paste, stir and let it simmer on medium to low heat until the mixture start to bubble up (seven to ten minutes)
  • Rinse the garbanzo bean and add to mixture. Add garam masala, bay leaves and cilantro and stir. If the mixture is too thick add water or vegetable stock. Taste and add more spices as needed. You can add the cayenne pepper now if you prefer it spicy (if not, leave out).
  • Place lid on the pot and let it simmer for ten to fifteen minutes.
  • Serve with basmati rice - white or brown.


Lately, there has been a sense of disconnect - things are going fine, but something is missing. It's not the first time I have felt that way and in times Iike this I find the issue is almost always tied to my time of meditation on the word of God and communication with God either via prayer or worship. The last time I felt the disconnect was last fall in Barcelona. See , the weeks leading up to European trip last fall was busy with deadlines, early mornings and late nights. My head was buried in all of it, I did not notice how the busyness had disconnected me from my anchor until I arrived in Barcelona on November 17th.  

Barcelona was not my first solo trip and it was not the most challenging part of the twenty-five day trip, but for some reasons I was not myself.  That morning, I checked out of my Paris hotel at 6:45 a.m for the hour commute to Paris Charles De Gaulle airport. My excitement to get to Barcelona was on overdrive.

Barcelona was a last minute addition to the Europe 2015 itinerary, but it was the one I looked forward to the most. I had a comfortable flight. Luggage was slightly delayed (but nothing extraordinary). I found the shuttle bus from the airport to city center easily. There was a mix up at my hotel when I arrived, but the tray of sweets and complimentary cava made up for the mix-up; so why was I coming unhinged.  My emotions were on a rollercoaster.

From anxiety to fear to discouragement to intimidation all in a matter of hours (sometimes minutes). Fear and anxiety gripped me so much, I could not leave my hotel room for hours. I just sat in a daze trying to snap out of it (whatever "it" was). I decided to call a voice of reason aka mom and shared my emotional rollercoaster with her. She encouraged me, we prayed, and she suggested spending some time praying and mediating on the word and getting some fresh air. I  took some of her advice and went for a walk through La Ramblas.

Surely strolling the streets of Barcelona and fresh air will get me back to center - it did not. The events that transpired the rest of the afternoon did nothing to improve my mood. Eventually , I gave up trying to get into the tourist mode in Barcelona and returned to my hotel room. 

I was in Barcelona living my dream, but I was unraveling. Why ? Then it occurred to me  - I was becoming unhinged because I was no longer connected to my anchor. What anchors you ? Who or what keeps you grounded ? My relationship with God is what keeps me anchored in the busyness, instability and uncertainty of the world around me. However, in the busyness leading up to the trip and my whirl wind tour of Europe, I did not realize that I was no longer connected to who anchors me. It had been several weeks since I had a proper interaction with God (something more than the quick prayers whispers as I dashed out in the morning or shut my eyes to sleep). It had been over a month since I had a true conversation with anyone - communications with family was limited to text and wasapp informing my mom I was departing a city or arriving, I was disconnected from what mattered most, I was off center. 

I arrived back at my hotel and did what I should be doing every day (maybe multiple times a day); I turned on my worship playlist and had a worship session on the bathroom floor of my Barcelona hotel. I worshipped, I cried, I prayed. I did not pray for anything in particular, I just told  God about the day and the emotional rollercoaster I was on and feeling like I was spiraling. In that moment, I was reminded of two scriptures.

a. 1 peter 5:7 - Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (NIV); and

b. Matthew 11:28 - "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (NIV)

So I did just as the scripture said, I cast my anxiety and spiraling emotions on him. I told him about my unwarranted fears. I did not ask for anything, I just had a conversation with God and as I did, I felt the weight lift and the anxiety discipiate and peace and joy flood my heart. A short while later, I skyped with mom and we chatted for about an hour. By the time I called it a night - the anxiety and fear was completely gone. The next day, I had one of the most incredible time exploring Barcelona and left Barcelona with some of my favorite memories from the trip. 

Last week,  I had moments of feeling disconnected and I knew exactly what was off and the cure. Without meaning to, I allowed everything that did not matter take my focus and time away from my anchor. As much as this post is unlikely for a travel blog, I hope if you have ever felt disconnected, you find some encouragement. It is important that we don't allow busyness and schedule overload to pull us from our source or what and who keeps us grounded. 



A must visit if you are in London; with over a hundrerd stalls selling a variety of things (mainly food). Borough market should be a bucketlist item for every foodie. I try to limit myself to one visit per London trip but that never seems to pan out. There is so much on offer - it is possible to have every meal here and some stall even have prepakaged meals that you can take home. With everything on offer, it can get overwhelming on a first visit (or if you only have a few hours to spare), I put together a list of my favorite stalls in the market. If you have explored the market and have a favorite spot - please share. I am always looking for recommendation. If you are planning a trip, make sure to check the market website for the most up to date schedule of individual stall openings, their locations and directions to the market.

La Tue Pasta. I recommend the tortelloni filled with Italian sausage and porcini mushroom. I stood outside the stall and inhaled my tortelloni (seriously!  no joke). You can also pick prepakaged pasta to take home. 

Le Marche du Quatier. If the duck confit is available. Get it. No questions asked and you can thank me later.  

Gourmet Goat. There is a huge mediterranean influence on the menu.  This is where I get my vegeterian fill with the most delicous, hearty salads. 

Bread Ahead Bakery. The Bread is outstanding (but so are the other baked goods) offered here. Offerings include Eccles cakes, Saffron buns, doughnuts.  I am partial to the breads (and the cakes). 

Artisan Food. Sweet and savory baked good. I always go for the savory variety and I have never been disappointed. The quiches are a winner , but if you want something sweet, can I recommend the chocolate brownies if its available.   

Tea 2 You. The Marsala Chai was my favorite. Brewed to order with fresh ginger added. They have limited seating, but if you are lucky to snag a seat - this is a perfect vantage point to people watch. 

Monmouth Coffee. The long wait lines on most days speaks volumes. Great coffee menu and several tourist and locals recommend it as the best coffee in London.

Gelateria 3Bis. The gelato is so rich with a silky textures that just melts in your mouth. Depending on what time of day you visit, you can watch them churn fresh batches of gelato.

Share your favorite spots at Borough Market in the comments. Cheers.