Tag Archives: Linley Johansen

Loco Moco… Tales of an Epic Brunch Party

Food War Brunch Brunch Group
The Brunch Edition of the Food War / Food Throwdown Party took place last Sunday.  For those unfamiliar with the dinner party concept that my good friends Katina and Justin started, it’s basically an episode of Chopped meets Top Chef played out among friends and fellow foodies.  [READ HERE for the specific event details & rules.]  From these parties, I somehow managed to  earn a Simon Cowell reputation for my harsh honest critiques, and am constantly asked to put my money where my mouth is by entering a challenge and preparing a dish.   I have only entered one previous challenge where my Peanut Butter Chicken Chili tied for the top spot.  Truth be told, I will only enter any contest if I know that I will come out victorious on top, hence why I never participated in the homemade pasta and Moroccan challenges.

My friends Jaime and Jaden put so much work into hosting these parties at my dream their house, and creating such fabulous dishes, that it would only be fitting that I participate in this edition.  So the challenge was on: contestants must prepare a Brunch Dish, savory or sweet and not limited to specific ingredients, to be critiqued by all guests, but ultimately selected as the winning dish by chosen judges.  The cocktail challenge: to create the ultimate Bloody Mary, not limited to specific ingredients.  Being that I can barely properly pour a beer, I stuck with preparing a Brunch dish for the challenge.

I have a reputation with my friends and co-workers for not knowing how to cook, solely because I may dine out often.  Truth be told, I am a fine, young cannibal chef in the kitchen, and when I throw down, I throw it the @#$! down.   For my brunch dish, I knew that I wanted to create a hearty dish.  I also knew that I wanted to prepare something from Hawaii or Samoa that didn’t involve spam.  (And yes I can make that joke!)  Although, I may have lost this Food War, I am very proud of my dish and had quite the challenge with all of the wonderfully prepared and delicious dishes.  I am looking forward to DESTROYING Jaime and Jaden participating at the next challenge.

Sunday afternoons don’t get much better than spending it with old friends, new friends, enjoying delicious cocktails and homemade food.

 

Here were the brunch dishes entered at this Food War / Throwdown: 

Food War Brunch Dish 02

Jessica & Amber’s Dish:  Peruvian fish ceviche  made with lime, onions, spicy peppers, fresh cilantro, and served with a sweet potato round and toasted corn kernels

 

Food War Brunch Dish 03

Lauren’s Dish:  Homemade almond, raisin monkey bread  served with creme anglaise

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Food War Brunch Dish 01

Areis’s Dish:  Southwest stuffed breakfast pepper – stuffed with eggs, spinach, potatoes, pepper jack cheese, and topped off with black beans, pickled onion, pickled jalapenos, avocodo scallions, and sour cream

 

Food War Brunch Dish 04

The Best Dish in the Universe My Dish:   Hawaiian Loco Moco: coconut beef patty and brown tapioca gravy served over steamed jasmine rice, topped with a fried egg and bacon crumble

 

And of course for the WINNING DISH:

 

Food War Brunch Dish 05

Jaime & Jaden’s Dish:  Sweet potato hash, tossed in a spicy curry and sundried tomato sauce, topped with an olive oil poached egg, bacon crumble, and fresh herbs, and served with a gin, honey, simple syrup, ginger liqueur, fresh lemon juice topped with an IPA.

 

Food War Brunch Winners Judges Food War Brunch Winners

 

A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Jaime and Jaden for not only winning the Brunch Challenge, but for also winning the Bloody Mary Challenge.  And yes… they won Trophies for their victory.  We foodies take these challenges very seriously!

A SPECIAL THANK YOU to Nicholas and Allison with NHIE Tampa Bay, who judged the Brunch Portion, and were amazing troopers for putting up with my bribery, harassment, extortion tactics  allowing me to call them un-American graciously being a part of this challenge.  Be sure to check out their amazing NHIE: Never Have I Ever – Tampa Edition BLOG online at:  www.nhietampabay.com

 

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Happy Everyday

My good friend Katina urged me to attempt the 100 Happy Days Challenge that she and numerous other participants have been posting about.  So, I visited and read the website.  I recognized and understood the concept.  Hats off to her and anyone else playing along with the challenge, because it really seems to be one of the more genuine and harmless social media gimmicks flying around out there.  I definitely am not knocking it, but for me, it’s (simply put) just not me.  Just as I loathe those silly website lists telling me what 20 places I need to visit before I die, or those ludicrous and annoying personality quizzes that “determine” which Real Housewife, 80s Pop Star, 90s Rock Star, Hollywood Movie Star, Boy Bay member I am based on my answers to 5 brainless questions… my happiness, my personality, and my future will never be validated, defined nor governed by any website.

HOWEVER… Katina was ON to something, and her enthusiasm with how the 100 Happy Days Challenge has inspired her wound up inspiring me.  I DO need to quit making the excuse that I am too busy to find time to spend with old friends.  I DO need to make more of an effort to stay in touch with others outside of the realm of social media.  I DO need to always remember that I have a pretty awesome life, and to be grateful for its privileges and the individuals living in it with me.

I didn’t quite make 100 days, but I did document the last 7 days that were pretty damn magical.

2014 Edison Okie Steven Dinner

Happiness:  having dinner with one of your best friends

2014 Filthy Richard Okie Jamal Areis Traye

Happiness:  a sudden night out on the town with your boys

2014 Ybor Wine Bar Okie Linley

Happiness: enjoying a long-overdue dinner, movie and wine night with a loved one

2014 GD Okie Neil Jason Areis2014 GD Okie Cody Areis Jason

Happiness: acting as if not one day has passed when reconnecting with your travel crew and best friends from Chicago and New York

2014 GD Okie Dani Steven 2014 GD Okie Nathan Dani Steven Carlos2014 GD Okie Will O

Happiness: randomly running into old friends when in another city

2014 Oxford Exchange Hyacinth Robby Jason Charles Areis

Happiness: when a best friend visits and wants to meet for brunch

2014 Rooster Till Katina 2

Happiness:  nearly ordering the entire menu when dining with a best friend

2014 Little Dragon Group

 Happiness:  experiencing a concert with loved ones
Happiness Bonus:  when the presence of a photo bomber makes you smile

Cheers to #100daysofhappiness A LIFETIME of happiness.

“The world is ours, and no one can take it away except the exhaustion of enjoying it so much.” -my friend Michael Maurer

“Inner Smile” by Texas:  After all these years, this song still makes me feel happy!

 

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The Event of 2013!

Okie Group 07

The beginning of summer.  The time of year when your AC thermostat lowers while your electric bill rises.  The start of beach season and sunbathing.  And that time of year when Pride & Passion, arguably one of thee top events in town takes place.

The 8th Annual Pride & Passion was held on Saturday, May 18, 2013 at the Tampa Museum of Art, which this wonderful event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for each year.  In the four years that I have attended Pride & Passion, it has rapidly become one of Tampa’s signature fashion events known for its pomp, flash and extravagant entertainment and decor.  This year’s event was no exception and easily tops previous celebrations in grandeur and eminence.

This year’s Pride & Passion also happens to be the first that I sat as the Public Relations, Marketing & Host Chair.  So it was fulfilling to not only attend this kick-ass party but to also help plan this event with the rest of the fabulous Steering Committee members.  If you missed out on this year’s festivities or have (gasp) never attended a Pride & Passion, mark your calendars for May 2014 and make plans to be there!

Pride & Passion 2013Okie Boys Group 01Cake Areis Rayda 01Shane Aimee Mike 01Group 01Group 03Okie Boys Group 04Okie Jonathan Cheri Linley JocelynOkie Jess 02Okie Linley 02Okie Linley Billy 01Okie Jocelyn 01

Photography by Radko Keleman
Select Photography by Todd Montgomery & Ruslana.Studio
Noticeable Photography by Okie Tilo’s cellphone

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…and in dedication to my fan that became the it-prop of Pride & Passion 2013:

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Food Throwdown: May 2013

One of my most favorite periodic gatherings with friends, the Food Throwdown (the first one of this year) took place last weekend.  What exactly is a Food Throwdown?  My good friends Katina and Justin open the doors to their home and host these Food Throwdowns which are culinary competitions where a specific dish and cocktail are selected for the event.  Anyone from our social network of friends is free to prepare that particular dish and/or cocktail for everyone in attendance to taste, publicly offer their taste buds’ critique ala Bravo’s Top Chef and then anonymously vote for their favorite dish and cocktail.  (Fun Fact: Katina still holds a grudge from the very first Food Throwdown where I criticized her BBQ Short Rib’s pasta for tasting like Chef Boyardee despite voting for her winning dish.)  What’s fun is that anyone tasting the food is completely unaware of who concocted any of what’s being served.  What’s not fun?  The Food Throwdown winner only wins bragging rights.  (C’mon people, can’t we all throw money towards a prize already?)

Previous Food Throwdowns have involved a pasta dish with all ingredients including the pasta and sauces made completely from scratch, and a very fun quesadilla and margarita challenge.  This past Food Throwdown had my friends competing by making their favorite tacos and sangria.  While Rayda’s AMAAAZZZING beer-battered chipotle tilapia tacos with homemade peach salsa and tartar sauce did not come out on top with the other guests, Stephanie’s St. Germain white sangria did win proving that there was some palatable justice after all!

And since I’ve been told that I can typically be a bit harsh on my table comments (Chef Boyardee anyone?), I am making a vow to obliterate the competition enter my very first Food Throwdown as a contestant the next time around to prove that I can take the feedback as  much as I serve it.  (You hear that Katina?!  I’m coming for ya!)

Congratulations to Jesse & Stephanie who won this season’s Food Throwdown and a very special THANK YOU as always to the lovely hosts Justin and Katina!  Bon Appetit!

Food Throwdown May 2013

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Commencement to Be

Robby HS Graduation

It seems like just yesterday that the above photo was taken… me watching 18-year-old Robby graduate from High School. 

And then just two weeks ago…

Robby Graduation Okie 2

…Robby graduated from college and moved to Fort Liquordale!  Huh?  WTF?!  Where the @#$% is time going?!

Robby officially became a USF Alumni, and relocated down south with A.J.  To celebrate this achievement, he hosted a nearly 8-hour bar crawl that terrorized my liver and checking account sauntered through the hot spots of Ybor City.  And to celebrate this very same achievement my way, I will post 5 of My Favorite Things about Robby.  Let’s begin:

#1:  Paula Deen… I mean, Robby introduced me to his famous McDonalds Apple Pie & Chocolate Ice Cream Sundae concoction-in-a-bowl dessert.

#2:  Robby forced me to watch the Game of Thrones Series Recap.  After I stopped watching the show during its snoozefest second season, he promised that the current Season 3 was worth watching the show again.  A mere 10 minutes of my life and I am officially all caught up on Game of Thrones.  Bring on the damn dragons!

#3:  Robby watched Madonna’s Truth or Dare documentary and afterwards, remarked that he totally understood why my friends and I act the way we do.  (Now that I think about it… was that even a compliment??!)

#4:  Robby’s random insightful but hilarious text messages like the one he sent when describing his first impressions of being a new resident to the Fort Lauderdale area.  See below:

Robby Text Message

and last but not least…

As two gigantic music fanatics, Robby and I are constantly trying to introduce new and great songs to one another.  The “oh I’ve already heard this before” and the “I’m not really feeling this one” do often pop-up in our conversation.  So when a great song is truly introduced to one of us by the other, it becomes a mini-event.  When Robby first played “Blood” by The Middle East, I instantly fell head over heels for that song and had to immediately add it to my Current Favorites Playlist on Spotify.  To my surprise, the song was already on there.  So Robby playing “Blood” wasn’t my virgin time hearing it.  I still don’t remember ever adding that song to my playlist.  Nor did I ever figure out when exactly I first heard it either.  But just like mine and Robby’s close friendship, there really is no explanation for something that was meant to be.  Oh and #5: Robby has great taste in music.

Congratulations again to my old soul friend for graduating!

Robby Graduation ZOYA

Photo by Branden Hollywood

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Big Foodie Hoes

TOST 2013 Group 2

I relapsed at the beginning of April this year.  I didn’t mean to, but I am powerless against my lifelong addiction.  It completely spiraled out of control from then on out.  Perhaps its time I check into rehab?…  I am of course referring to my endless appetite and the numerous Food Festivals and Food Events that I attended last month silly!

My absolute favorite thing to do in the world is to eat.  I love food.  Everyone who knows me knows that I love, adore, worship food.  Eat, Pray, Love?  Nope… Eat, Drink, Eat!  There is nothing that I have not eaten.  There is nothing that I would not eat.  Seriously, if I were a contestant on Fear Factor, I would win every single one of those crazy food eating challenges.

So imagine my excitement when I nabbed tickets to three of Tampa’s signature Food Events last month.  I took a break from my usual routine of healthy clean eating so that I could binge eat overwhelm my taste buds and indulge.

YTT 2013 Improv 2

My Fat Ass Foodie Adventure began with the Ybor Tapas Trail (part of Ybor City’s Aficionado Days).  18 restaurant stops.  3 hours.  Food samples and a cocktail at each location.  By the time my friends and I passed the finish line, we were all completely spent. All of the eating and trekking in the humid weather took its toll, and I immediately climbed into bed when I got home from the event not wanting to ever think about food again…

TOST 2013 Group 3

…until the annual Taste of South Tampa at Hyde Park Village the very next day.

The Taste of South Tampa featured 27 local restaurants such as Timpano, Jackson’s and Catrinas Cocina y Galeria  each serving a sizable plate of food.  There was live entertainment, complimentary beer and wine, and a text messaging contest for patrons to vote for their favorite restaurant.  Piquant Epicure & Cuisine‘s savory-sweet croissant with sausage gravy was one of my votes, along with JusThai‘s offering of Pad Thai, Springrolls, Fried Rice and Thai Tea.

DCYC 2013 April

The last stop on my obesity marathon Food Adventure was Dishcrawl Tampa‘s Ybor City tour.  The concept of Dishcrawl Tampa is for patrons to dine at four principal restaurants in a specific neighborhood of the Tampa Bay area.  Patrons have zero clue where they will be feasting since each restaurant stop is revealed as you go along.  The chefs at each restaurant are commonly at the dinner table, answering any questions and providing details about their menu items and restaurant.

My friend and fellow foodie Tracy Guida organizes and oversees Dishcrawl Tampa.  She’s also quite a remarkable blogger.  Check out her review of the Ybor City Dishcrawl HERE along with her primary website HERE.

I highly urge any reader to experience a Dishcrawl Tampa event.  Future Dishcrawl stops include International Plaza on May 14th, Downtown Tampa on May 21st, the Westshore district on June 4th and the Dunedin area on June 11th.   Check out all of Dishcrawl Tampa’s events at www.dishcrawl.com/tampa.

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“Let It Be” by Blackmill featuring Veela…  Robby turned me onto this song a few weeks ago, but I swear I heard this song somewhere else way before his introduction.  It’s a melodic, tranquilizing, groovy tune that confuses me.  I don’t know if I should be dancing, performing sun salutations, or both every time I hear it!

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Black, White & Pink Rockabilly Kids from the 1990s!

The problem:  You have been invited to three different parties that are all taking place on the same night.

The solution:  You accept your popularity and attend all three parties adhering to an unofficial party-hopper timeline.

The problem:  How do you dress when each party has a distinct theme?
More Info:  Party #1 is a fun 1990s-themed bday party, Party #2 is a very classy bday party with black, white & pink as the event theme colors, and Party #3 is the Rockabilly-themed closing party for the Gasparilla International Film Festival.

The solution:  You wear a bright pink t-shirt to Party #1, wear a black blazer on top of bright pink tee to Party #2 and then just make sure that you are way too drunk to care by the time you arrive to Party #3.

PROBLEMS SOLVED!!! Crisis averted.

GIFF 2013 Group B

Party #3:  Rockabilly Revival, the closing party for the Gasparilla International Film Festival

Jaime Bday 2013 AParty #2:  Jaime’s Black, White & Pink Birthday Soiree

Josh P Bday 2013Party #1:  Josh’s 1990s-themed Birthday Party




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“Finally” by CeCe Peniston, one of my favorite songs from the 1990s.

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Aquarius Triumvirate

Jess 2013 Bday Okie 2

My dear friend Jess a.k.a. the reigning Queen of running late celebrated her 27th Birthday at Martini Republic in downtown Tampa and at CineBistro in Hyde Park Village over the weekend.

…in all actuality, the entire weekend was spent celebrating Aquarius birthdays.  Three birthdays in one night to be exact.

It was a Saturday night.  My favorite gal-pal Jocelyn and I had plans to start off at her college buddy Mark’s birthday at Mangroves, followed by her sorority sister Michelle’s birthday party at what could only be described as mine and every other red-blooded human being’s dream mansion on Davis Island, and ending with Jess’s birthday celebration at Martini Republic.  Jocelyn and I were no strangers to the party-hopping routine, and have in fact become experts on the subject. (For proof, READ: Legally Fabulous post from January 2011.)

Mark 2013 Bday Jocelyn

BIRTHDAY PARTY #1:  I’ve attended quite a few events with Jocelyn where the statement “all of my friends from UT from back in the day will be there” accompanied her invitation.  Those events are always a good time and Jocelyn’s “old school” crew is always welcoming and friendly.  Mark’s 40th birthday party at Mangroves was no exception.  You can’t help but enjoy hearing any group of longtime friends reminisce with past stories that cement their deep-rooted bond and enrich their history with one another.  (Fun Fact:  According to all of the stories I’ve heard at these blast to the past parties, Jocelyn was just as legally fabulous as a college freshman as she is today!)

Michelle 2013 Bday Jocelyn

BIRTHDAY PARTY #2:  On the way from one 40th birthday party to the next, Jocelyn commented on how “40 is the new 30.”  I used to dismiss those type of statements as something we all say to ourselves and one another as a way to help cure our fears of aging, but Jocelyn is 100% correct: getting older just means more money, better jobs, more mistakes made to learn from and an authentic understanding on who your true friends in life are.

Jocelyn’s sorority sister and college cohort Michelle celebrated her 40th birthday party that evening at her house mansion on Davis Island.  The party was a Hawaiian luau themed soiree equipped with a live band and performers, tiki torches, a balloon entrance arch the size of The Hulk, catering and dessert stations… the works.  As evidenced in the photo above, Jocelyn and I only felt it fitting to pose in corny photos as if we were honeymooners aboard a Carnival cruise ship that actually had running water and working toilets.  Aloha!

Jess 2013 Bday Martini Group

BIRTHDAY PARTY #3 and the final celebration of the night for Jess’s 27th birthday.  Her birthday party was a two-parter this year: Saturday night at Martini Republic and Sunday afternoon painfully watching the dreadful Identity Thief movie at CineBistro.

It’s hard to believe that I met Jess five years ago when she was just 22-years-old, new to the Tampa Bay area from Illinois and also newly separated from her husband.  We immediately hit it off when our mutual friend Harry introduced us that one summer night, and we’ve only been going strong ever since.  Seriously, I love that girl despite the truth that she runs 30-minutes late for every planned event, well except her 27th birthday this year.  But of course.

Happy Birthday Jess & all of the other Aquarii in the world!

Jess 2013 Bday Cinebistro Group

 

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“Losing You” by Solange

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You’re Not Alone

KVBS Bday 2013 Okie KristinKristin, my best friend that I’ve known the longest, celebrated her 33rd birthday at CHEAP in Tampa last Friday with her most favorite friends.  And in honor of her palindrome birthday, I present three FUN FACTS about me and Mrs. Schmidt:

#1:  POP DIVA CONCERTS & OUR FRIENDSHIP DO NOT MIX WELL…

Britney Spears’ Oops… I Did It Again Tour 2000:  A huge fight over post-its an hour before Brit Brit’s Oops… I Did It Again show nearly derailed our plans to see the Mouseketeer.

Janet Jackson’s All For You Tour 2001:  Our first time seeing Janet Jackson became my first time seeing Janet Jackson, because Kristin and I once again got in a huge fight over Sandy Frink.  (Side note: 10 years later, we finally saw Janet together at her Number Ones, Up Close and Personal show.)

Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour 2004:  We drove to Sebring, Florida to be the first in line to purchase tickets to what would’ve been her first Madonna concert, but I wound up taking someone else because Kristin and I got in a silly fight over who’s the Rhoda and who’s the Mary.  (Side note: Last year, we finally saw Madonna together at her MDNA show in Chicago.)

KVBS Bday 2013 Kristin Cake

#2:  KRISTIN AND I HAVE MATCHING TATTOOS…  and matching tramp stamps to boot!  Sue me.  I was 21-years-old.  I was in in Ybor City with her, and we both randomly made the decision after knocking back a few Jack Daniels’ drinks.  I always told myself that I would never ever get a tattoo unless it was original, designed by moi and had personal meaning.  So the Japanese symbol for “God” may not be original nor was it designed by me, but it does carry a lot of personal meaning because Kristin and I are both trashy and tramp stamped branded with it.

#3:  MINE AND KRISTIN’S THEME SONG IS…  no not that one Madonna song.  And no, it’s not a song by Britney Spears.

Every great friendship has that one song that when randomly heard or played manages to make you instantly think of the other person.  For some reason, Olive’s “You’re Not Alone” (below) is our song.  I do not exactly know how or remember when it was decided that “You’re Not Alone” would be blessed as the one-song soundtrack to our 22-year-old friendship.  Yet everytime I hear that 90’s electronic-trance-pop masterpiece, I immediately think of Kristin.  (And no we both weren’t sporting JNCO pants and sucking on lollipops when this song became our anthem in the 90’s.)




Happy Birthday Kristin!  Click on image below to enlarge photo:

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Congratulations, Happy Holidays & Farewell

Congratulations, Cheers, Farewell… it seems that the trend this year was for every celebratory event to conclude with a goodbye.  (Click here.)  I have always disliked saying goodbye and try to make the situation as short, sweet and to-the-point as possible.  Last weekend was yet another weekend filled with commemorative celebrations followed by a goodbye.

I know a handful of people who have been in school since what seems like 48 B.C.  When I first met Bryan 7-8 years ago, I thought that he too would be one of those people I refer to as a lifetime student: a person who takes one class every other semester and swears to the high heavens and Madonna that graduation is the ultimate goal.  Well what do you know?  Last weekend, Bryan graduated from USF with not just his Bachelors but his Masters degree and threw a party to celebrate.   So congratulations to Bryan for busting his ass and working so hard to accomplish his goal, for proving me wrong in my very initial assumption and for putting up with Jocelyn’s 40-balloons graduation gift.

Bryan Okie 1 Bryan Jocelyn 2 Bryan Boys Jocelyn Balloons 2 Jocelyn Balloons 1



After recouping from Bryan’s Greygoose-filled evening the night before, I had a Holiday Dinner with friends to attend at Texas de Brazil the next day.  My good friends Cheri and Mike were in town from Los Angeles for just one day, and maximized their brief time in Tampa by inviting their closest friends to dinner.  Every year, my best friends and I throw a Holiday Party / Gift Exchange.  Given everyone’s crazy schedules this year, Cheri & Mike’s dinner doubled as this year’s Gift Exchange.  As always, it was wonderful to see Cheri and Mike again, to consume 931 lbs of meat at Texas de Brazil and to remind yourself how friends can also become your family.  Happy Holidays and cheers to Cheri, Mike and everyone and anyone else who is reading this!

Cheri Group

Cheri Boys

Cheri Girls

Cheri Okie

Cheri Jocelyn

Cheri Billy

Cheri Linley

Cheri Robby

Cheri Jaime

Cheri JadenCheri NielyCheri Kristin Cheri JonCheri JessCheri Jaime Jaden



The celebratory weekend concluded on a bittersweet note with my friends Jamal and Lorena leaving Tampa and moving to Los Angeles.  I first met Lorena through mutual friends three years ago, and since then we’ve traveled together, lived with one another (best roommate ever), worked together, shared a toy poodle (and the best dog ever) named Zoe and devoured chili dogs and taters in the middle of my living room floor at 4am.  Although I will miss her and Jamal dearly, its encouraging to know that my annual trip to California is right around the corner.  So for now, farewell to Lorena and Jamal.

Okie Lorena Jamal Okie Lorena

 



I willl conclude this entry with a lyric video for the song “I Am Yours” by the band Churchill.  Right now, the band is right on the brink of taking off with their hypnotic and catchy current single “Change” but this particular song has been receiving much more love on my iPod and Spotify.

Congratulations… Cheers… and Goodbye… but Hello to new music!

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