Almond Praline … Something Like A Dream

A label2LadyGurls Almond Praline Dream Syrup: Lavish and comforting. ….Like a hundred winter weekends trapped- indoors -with- your -lover -kinda -syrup.  …You’ll think you don’t deserve it, but you really do.

You: What time is it?

Your Lover: Who cares?

You: Yeah…, who cares!

When I first became addicted to making syrups, my ritual for tasting them was to make myself a few slices of French Toast to sample with my new flavor before its official debut.  The sampling was critical of course so that I knew how to sell it, what to pair it with, all of its uses or even just to figure out if I wanted it to do something different!   After a while, I started having too many French toast meals and I started wearing it, so I had to “simmer down”{see what I did there?}. Before long I was content to sample it by the spoon for my palate to record the necessary data and go from there.  That is…. until I created this Almond Praline Dream Syrup.

A few days ago I needed to give myself a full sampling of the Praline Dream.  Of course I’d tasted it,  I knew it was good, but I needed to really connect with it fully.  I was going all in.  I was returning to the French Toast ritual because I missed it!  But most of all I felt like I deserved it! All excited, I discovered I was out of eggs. Amazing! That never happens around here. So then I was forced into the next best time efficient alternative which was Coconut Pancakes using the Trader Joes Coconut Pancake Mix. If you’ve never tried it, brace yourself.  …Trader Joes will have you hooked on yet another product and if you are what I call a “Trader Joes Person”, you know of that which I speak.

{…Damn Trader Joes…!}

I made my pancakes and warmed up my syrup. I didn’t want to go to heavy on the syrup, as it is of a more “luxurious” variety but remember,  I also needed to be able to connect with all of the flavors, consistency and texture.  Here is where I started….

almond prailine firstI confess, I do love the color. Up until now all of my syrups have been more euuuhhh….how shall we say, translucent? But not this one.  I prepared myself to dig in but for some reason, even I found myself asking myself for permission to do so! …

almond prailine

Before I knew it I was more than halfway done. …I didn’t even know how I got there! I mean, I took my time, I didn’t inhale it, yet my experience was already coming to a close.  There was about 2-3 tablespoons left in the pot. I wrestled with the idea of going to get it and pouring it over what was left.  The idea won.

almond prailine 3rd

One thing that was really awesome though, is that I found this syrup forced me to slow down.  I savored every bite.  …Sometimes putting the plate down for a few minutes, working a little and going back to it.  Slow eating is never a bad thing.  In fact our bodies prefer it and it ensures our food stays with us longer!  Alas. Now I had plenty of room for my pieces of pancake to wade in  and I was going to get to the heart and soul of this syrup-ticious delight! It’s soul was so smooth and of course sweet.  But not sweet in a way that over powered me, I was still in control and it gave me opportunity to taste it, to understand it, to learn it and ultimately to enjoy it. Many sweets (especially store bought) do not give you that opportunity.  They just say, “Hey! I’m sweet and you’re gonna want more immediately or be overcome by a strange sensation to consume ALL of me in this box!” Those are addictive and preservative laced foods. I call those mind control foods and you never want to be controlled by a food. The almonds were delightful and not intrusive in any way.  All of the elements had married and were working together most harmoniously I must say.  I put the bowl down and began working again.

almond prailine2The flavors still permeating on my tongue,  it called me back as if to say, “Hey look! You forgot about me!”  I wondered if I were being greedy if I scraped the bowl with my fork, but as you can see The Thought did not win.  I did it anyway.  So perfect: the coconut pancake remnants, the slivers of almond, this syrup-ticious delight had almost transformed itself from an almond praline to a velvety, pleasant carmel sauce.  I put my bowl down again.  Savoring the flavors, then I went back to work.

almond prailine3

By all accounts I thought I’d done a pretty good job!  Then something happened.  The bowl….the bowl was not satisfied.  Imagine my surprise when after a few minutes of working it called me back yet again!  I couldn’t imagine what else it wanted! I mean, what did it want me to do? Lick the bowl??  I laughed. You laugh.  We laugh! But before I knew it, I found myself in a shameless, juvenile, compromising position…

almond prailine5

Yeah, I did it! — And I’d do it again. Truth be told you probably would too!    I licked and I licked and I licked. Mmmph!!! Reminding myself how worthy and deserving I was and growing ever more distant from my initial hesitation and unfounded guilt.  What was that all about anyway?!

almond prailine clean plateYou can probably guess what happened next: silence and satisfaction.  It finally stopped calling me.  This boys and girls is what we call, a happy plate.  –Or in this instance, a happy bowl.  This syrup could be used for pancakes, waffles, ice cream (oh yeah!), probably even as a glaze for a cake or cinnamon rolls (holy jesus)!!  If you are interested in purchasing your own jar of LadyGurls Almond Praline Dream for sublime moments in the winter time, e.mail me or message me at $6 for 8oz. and up (please note that does not include shipping).  If you are interested in this bowl, please do the same.  It’s a delightful piece by Currier & Ives.  I also have two more Currier & Ives pieces available here at Rue de Florence.

In the meantime, LadyGurl wants to remind you that “Your sweetness is her weakness” from 9-5 up in Studio5.


p.s.s. Find me on Instagram under ladygurlgrowing!

Season to Taste & Add Things Slow Before You Know It All Things Will Flow

no frills real meals

Today at the store my baby asked me to buy her a Marie Calendars chicken pot pie (things my mom buys her) to which I replied, “I will not, but I’m happy to make you one!”  Normally I would not embark on such a task on a weeknight but I was so fed up with the iPad and all things speedy, processed or technological on this day, I was willing to do it.   I made her choose her own ingredients… things that she would actually eat instead of just picking out the chicken . She settled on broccoli, carrots, chicken and requested I make it cheesy.

Let me just say right here that I am no recipe writer. …I mean I can when I need to be, but I didn’t use precise measurements and this recipe provides many opportunities to take your own liberties in ways, even if you’re not an expert.  I am vegetarian, but I do allow my child a piece of chicken here and there.  That being said, I made a very small portion as she would be the only one eating it. The biggest highlight here may be the fact that I knocked this out in just over an hour which was pretty awesome for a weeknight.


I used some left over crust I’d made for a peach cobbler over the weekend. If you have some lying around, use that! Otherwise I’m sure any pie crust recipe will do or even the pilsbury ready-made-fold out crust would work if you need to save yourself some time. Line the bottom of your pan with the crust and trim the edges if necessary.  Poke holes in the dough with a fork. Bake at 350 about 10-15 minutes.  But if you’re curious, I used the double pie dough recipe from The Black Family Reunion Cook Book

2.  Broth………………………

I boiled a chicken breast in just enough water to cover it.

Threw in : olive oil, chopped onion, Bay leaf, basil, salt, crushed red pepper, garlic, parsley, a handful of pear tomatoes and let it boil covered until the chicken was nice, white and done. Remove the chicken and discard the bayleaf,  placing chicken in a separate dish with room for you to chop up what you want.  I felt pretty confident in my chicken broth seasoning but wanted to thicken it up a taste. Okay so here I’ll give a measurement:  I’d say mix about 2 TBSP of flour with a shot or two of warm water or until it’s smooth and there are no lumps.  Gradually stir it into your broth while you’ve got a little boil going, but not all at once.  Simmer on a low heat but keep up with the consistency.  You may not need all of your flour mixture.  You want it to be “just thick enough”. Remember, it’ll have opportunity to thicken more once you put it in the oven.  You don’t want it to get too thick or “pasty”.  If the flour doesn’t dissolve perfectly don’t worry, you’re gonna put it in the blender next. …Well, if you want to.

So i blended mine because of the onion and tomatoes in my broth. My child looks for any excuse to pick out an onion but she can’t pick out what she can’t see! If you have kiddos that don’t wanna eat what’s good for them, this is a great opportunity to sneak in all sorts of veggies.  You can create a lovely veggie rich base without them knowing they are eating all the nutritious things. Blend until it looks creamy and beautiful. I like to be able to see my spices and things in there. …Oh wait, may I also add that it could be beneficial to make a lot of broth in this moment? Chicken Broth/Veggie Stock can be frozen and used for so many things later, it’s a great thing to keep on hand as you can use it for many fall and winter delights like soups, gravy, as a marinade… And think of how much LESS sodium is probably in your homemade broth as opposed to what you’d buy off the shelf! Last but not least, it’ll allow to you whip up “scratch made things” in the future without having to scrounge for “scratch made time”.

**Please be careful if you blend this broth while it’s still hot. You may only want to fill your blender up about half way.***

3. Filling…….

In a bowl, combine all of your ingredients of choice. The possibilities are truly so endless here, especially in the vegetarian realm. Mine was fresh chopped carrots, raw broccoli, chicken (boiled), my child requested cheddar cheese, but I took the liberty of adding a little Parmesan too. My portions were a little smaller than a fist sized amount of each ingredient.  Mix it dry and set aside.  After you’ve blended your broth sufficiently and say to yourself, “Oh, what a pretty broth i made!”, pour a bit into your mixture, stirring until all the contents are covered.   Add broth again until your mixture is a wee bit soupy. Spoon into your pre-baked crust and add the top layer.  …I got chastised for not decorating it with the “lattice method” (…kids). I used some circles instead.   You decorate your crust how you choose.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes on 35o degrees, or as my child would say,” bake it until you smell it” and divine pot pie begins to creep through the house.  *If you use the Pilsbury or a ready made crust, I always like to do a final brushing of my crust with an egg wash. It really enhances the texture, the flakey-ness, how well it holds together and gives it a lovely little shine and golden brown tone.

Let me know how this goes. My child loved it and said I should be called “Mama Marie Calendars”.  I know it’s a haphazard recipe, but it’s low stress. Be creative and don’t get stressed out by exact-things.  Cooking is a creation and experimentation process and I think a lot of people forget that.  This is a safe one for you to get comfortable in and if you pace yourself, season all things to taste and add things slow, it’s hard to mess up.

P.S.S. This is also a great recipe because you can freeze some of this broth for later meals, be it pot pie or soup!

“Oh my, chicken pot pie!”  …Now showing in Studio5.  ~hkai

You Must Learn

…Think about anyone you’ve ever learned anything from:

Friends. Family.  Lovers.  Teachers. Co-Workers….

All lessons unique unto themselves I’m sure

that each came with their own energy.

But think about the last time you learned something from a child.

To learn something from a child.

…To be taught something by a child…

Deliberately or by happenstance is something else entirely with it’s own magic. 

One of the gentlest and sweetest ways to receive some real ass-kickers.

It’s like…………


To be in awe of.

…just thoughts.

“sometimes your mind is just alive. …when you’re hangin in Studio5”


Kid President (a kid you can learn from)

Kid President
(a kid you can learn from)

Beat Biters & Bums

I used to get super heated when people would blatantly duplicate my work or ideas. I got over it after realizing that it really doesn’t matter what they do, they can only “copy” what they think they see before them and honestly most people can’t really “see” all that well. It’s impossible to copy the intention, the inspiration, the time spent learning a specific craft or the true meaning behind a piece and most times so much feeling and study was poured in it never really got explained because it was simply… too much to articulate outside of my brain. …The DNA behind a piece or it’s “coding” if you will. …But that’s the point of birthing the finished product. The culmination of ALL a’that. …Lately I’ve had some really interesting experiences with people close to me duplicating my work and/or ideas of things they actually witnessed being successful. …People I call “friend”. …People I share ideas with before I truly manifest them. One friend went as far as to go through my wholesaler to order the exact same product to sell that she’d once ordered from me. {I only knew after going to her house and seeing her new products on the table.} Something she was only privy to because when I’d initially found it she was the first person I went to in my excitement with the “…look at these!!” I didn’t go completely off, but I certainly went through a new level of the uh…how shall we say, “side-eyeing” . While I only mention this incident it was about 3 incidents and 3 different people in a weeks time: PROfound.   Anyway, I’m over it now and feel like I can only pity them or celebrate myself even more. I don’t know what it means to be moved so much by someone’s work or ideas that I need to duplicate them. I know what it feels like to be inspired enough to be influenced by the work or the artist but I also know how to respect it and know there is no need for repetition {“nature doesn’t repeat itself, why should I repeat Myself?! ~SunRa ;) }.

I don’t know what it feels like to be in need of ideas. … I have notebooks upon notebooks of ideas that I’ve yet to get to. So much so that my only concern is being able to digest the excitement around manifesting them all or even just a fraction of them in this lifetime. I don’t have to work for ideas I just have to be obedient and be a good listener. They are gifted to me always and are my personal connection to the Most High. They are the best conversations, the best visions, the best insights. …They are the language we “speak”…the language of ideas. To say I am thankful for that would be a gross understatement.  From childhood to adulthood I was blessed to receive a vast arts education and wonderful exposure to the arts from my family. It’s because of that that I am able to “bob and weave” in and out of various mediums if I choose and I know everybody can’t do that. I haven’t even begun to reveal them all! ..Shoo…

It wasn’t until my 30’s that I was officially, truly and really really reeeeallyee convinced that a diverse skill level was a blessing as opposed to a curse. Up until then it was always this handicap and thing that only made me stress about how  or where I was going to fit in. …“Fit in”….ugh. I couldn’t stay away from the diversity and wasn’t going to stop educating myself in such a way, but how I was going to live with it, I did not know. Growing up my skills or accomplishments would be celebrated and encouraged but ironically the message for the majority of my adolescent, teen and college-hood became, “You have to choose”. ….Just typing those words now makes me wanna start balling my eyes out.   (did i also mention that despite the exposure and arts ed., art would not be among any of the choices “provided me”. –but I reckon that’s another blog post.)  But if I may add one more thing to the gratitude list, I’m so, so, sooooo thankful that the mind can change, that growth is real and that I no longer believe such things. …That I refuse to subscribe to such a limited thought process and/or way of living and in the world. That I know that God didn’t create “this” for 1 skill to be used while the others sat on the shelf or for me to get caught up in things as petty as The Idea Challenged when I have enough ideas to be the Robin Hood of Ideas if I want!   …Just giving them away while still having access to more! And that is a blessing.  An endless fountain thanks to one better known as Thee Source. If only everyone would connect to Thee Source/Their Source, the need to “cop and duplicate” would be done and oh how much more colorful the world could be.   But if I shall be one of the many that others choose to utilize as a source, c’est la vie. They do say many are called but the chosen are few don’t they?? There’s plenty more where that came from. So I’ve made a conscious decision to use each of these moments from now on to not only celebrate myself but to make some “retroactive deposits” back to the Holly who couldn’t see that she was fine and blessed all along so she can look at herself now and see that others actually try to immolate her work! –Be it tastefully or disgracefully, who woulda thunk it. The rest, I’m deciding is not my problem.

Creativity can be deceiving because while it looks pretty and fun, maybe even easy, most people don’t realize it takes real commitment and that can barely be imitated let alone duplicated. You know I always gotta reference a hymnal. …I can’t help it! If you haven’t guessed by now, there is no separation between art and God for me and while I don’t do much church, I’ve always been hymnal {and history} obsessed so I think I’ll wrap this long story up with the one that just popped in my head. It is just the first line of the Doxology sung in most churches because in my world, ideas are blessings:

 Praise God, from Whom all blessings floooooooow; Praise Him, all creatures here beloooooooow; Praise Him above, ye heavenly hoooooooost; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghooooooooost; Aaaaaaaaaaaaa-meeeeeen}

 P.S. Most of us know that stanza because it’s the only part sung. I am linking the entire piece, as that is only the final stanza of ‘Awake, My Soul and With The Sun’ {and Glory to Thee My God This Night’} by Thomas Ken {1631-1711} which is beautiful and worth reading in its entirety with even more applicable lines to this subject matter.  I could go on all day, but I’ll stop here because as I mentioned earlier, sometimes it’s just too much!! In the meantime, here’s some gratitude for you and you and YOU just for being you (okay and for reading). #weMustGrow  

…Celebrating the often forgotten gift, magnificence and magnitude of the self and giving all praises to the Most High waaay up in Studio5.


Your Chalice Runneth Over first chalice: The TWO hand Chalice

…my first chalice: The TWO hand Chalice

…If you know H.Kai at all, then you know that H.Kai loves her some Rob Brezsny.

In his book Pronoia, — that everyone should have on their coffee table {or positioned ever so strategically next to the family bible}  Brezsny recommends this chalice visualization exercise that’s simple, powerful and magical.  About a year ago I tried the exercise as he suggested and loved it! After some thinking though, I felt like it could be even more powerful for me if I actually drew my Chalice(s) and so I did…

...My second chalice. 'Cause not only was I ready to fill it, but ready to receive all the sweetness.

…My second chalice. ‘Cause not only was I ready to fill it, but ready to receive all the sweetness. Sometimes being “ready” is a whole other thing.

Even before embarking on the sketching, I felt like visualizing my chalice first thing each morning was no doubt actively welcoming in abundance and opportunity as well as generally getting things moving in my life at a time when there was much to be done and moves to be made.  Taking it one step further has helped because I can flip through my sketch/miscellaneous book at random times and it reminds me to stop and visualize again if only for a moment. …Always keeping it at the forefront on my mind. It also forces me to sketch regularly and of course in the time that I’m sketching, it’s more time that I’m forced to focus on thoughts of abundance and the gifts we are constantly being invited to receive.  I don’t know about you but I’m also big on putting things to paper be it words or imagery to support the physical manifestation of things.

My flower petal chalice. { The name of my business is we.must.grow. hence the, “Grow” embellishment.}

Whatever shall go in my chalice? Whatever shall go in YOUR chalice??  Get crazy (but serious) in your mind about what you are tossing in your cup. Sky is the limit and I say go for the gold! It’s not hurting anything or anyone and our minds love play.  I’m sharing my sketches with you today, but most of all I hope you try it too. Read the instructions below first for the visualization and then work it out from there. Should you actually take on the sketching project, let me know how it works for you and I’d love to see your pics! Mine are just pencil yours don’t have to be.  …Ink it, color pencil it, marker it, pastel it, crayon it, paint it, collage it just do it!  You can even “doodle it”!  Please remember the most important thing and that is this: You need NOT be an artist to do this exercise. It’s for you and no one else. It is not about the skill it’s ALL about intention!!!>> Continue reading

Literary Selfie #2: The Black Family Reunion Cookbook

The Black Family Reunion Cookbook: Recipes and Food Memories From the National Council of Negro Women

The Black Family Reunion Cookbook: Recipes and Food Memories From the National Council of Negro Women 1993

Ladies and Gentleman, these are my new literary selfies.  While I was pondering the evolution of the “selfie”, I wondered where it could really go? How could it ever truly evolve? So I decided that I should include my books in my selfies because I love them!  I feel like they are worthy of some shine too and last but not least as an educator i BELIEVE in literacy (and cooking)!

This is The Black Family Reunion Cookbook.  I love this cookbook!! My mom gifted me this cookbook in college.  I’m not really sure why considering I was so broke in Boston I squeaked when I walked! (i got that from someone the other day, hehee)  But seriously, the only thing I could afford to eat regularly were egg sammiches a million ways. {NOT sandwiches, SAMMICHes okay?}  The recipes in here are awesome and all, but I love it because I’ve gone into so many kitchens and seen this cookbook on the shelf.  It immediately reminds me of how we are all connected. …How we all have a hunger and thirst to embrace the cultural aspects we have been able to retain and much of that is through our cuisine or what I like to call our “culinary chronicles of blackness”. I don’t use it much anymore, especially since I became vegetarian.  Still a great cookbook with a few stories from people like Patti LaBelle, Wilma Rudolph and recipes like Mary Mcleod Bethune’s Sweet Potato Pie and even a Black Family Reunion Pledge by Maya Angelou!

I consider it a staple cookbook.  Own it, gift it, check it out from the library!  It’s really more than a cookbook.  It’s a cultural treasure.


“…Feel the kitchen vibes of Studio5 and keep your culinary chronicles alive.”


Home.Working: A Public Service Announcement

If you’ve ever worked from home, you know what a challenge it can be.

…The discipline required, the boundaries that must be set, etc.

The other day I was stoked! Because after all it had been a most productive day.

Internal thoughts: “Yesss! Score!!! I won!!!!” and all that.

After I picked up my Sunshine I just knew I’d get her fed, and get right back in the room with Kenny Sewing Machine and together we were gonna wrap up the days production on my Picket Sign Pocket Books because you know, we were on a roll! By the way, before you say anything don’t judge my sewing position, okay?!  I’m well aware of the fact that this is like an “Ergonomic Crime” I’m committing, but for some reason, I love to sew on the floor with Kenny sometimes! …Not all of my machines, just Kenny. ;)

Me & Kenny: my faithful accomplice of 28 years...

Me & Kenny: my faithful accomplice of 28 years…

Just as we’re goin’ in for the big finish, The Sunshine enters my room plopping herself on my bed right next to my mess on the floor.  I thought my mess may deter her, but no sir.  Removing her socks, I sensed she was preparing for something and our conversation went as follows:

Sunshine (ever so politely) : Mommy, will you rub my feet??

Me: {Sigh} …..Yeaah……

Sunshine: ….Do you…like rubbing my feet???

Me: …Yeaaaaaaah…

9 year old baby feet rubbing...

9 year old baby feet rubbing…

And soon after we fell asleep.

This, childless-ladies-and-gentlemans is pretty much the long and short of parenting:  It doesn’t ever matter what your own agenda may be.  You can trick yourself into thinking that you have one, but don’t stay married to it because in an instant your baby might want their feet rubbed and you my friend are NOT going to say no.  In fact you will be happy to do it.  …Even reminiscing on how you used to rub his or her feet before they could ask despite the fact that you don’t know how you’re going to get things done in time and you’ve watched that precious much needed hour float away into the moonlight.  …Knowing it could be another 24 hours before you get it back.  The benefit is that all the while you are feet rubbing you are in the now and regardless of what we think, that is what matters most and children have a wonderful way of reminding us of such simple but often forgotten concepts.

If you don’t have any children I’d say, “what have you been doing with your life?!” Oh wait,  that’s what I asked myself AFTER I had a child, whoopsie!  I mean to each his own my peoples and of course it’s not for everyone. But let me just take this opportunity to tell you that nothing, nothing on the planet is better than baby feet to ground you and if you really wanna know who you truly are??


That is all.

~It’s all good in Mama.Hood. I’m alive (x2). … In Studio5.~