While traditionally Valentine’s Day is for couples, to me it’s a day to celebrate love, so why not treat your best girlfriend?  We all love our girlfriends. Hey, we can even treat ourselves! I rounded up a great selection of gifts at all different price-points, trying to accommodate every budget. I think I've checked off a variety of boxes. From beauty to comfort our tea and coffee drinkers, and  even our sexy gal pal. I have you covered. Now, its time to celebrate the day of L.O.V.E. 

Simply click on the pics and shop away!

Your Girlfriend Next Door

Your Girlfriend Next Door


 Hello Neighbors,

Often times our friends are an extension of our families.  Each time I've connected with one of you via social media, or just cyber space in general, it really means a lot to me.  I've made it my mission to be a living example of a life well lived, full of fun, laughter, joy and peace. Well, they say its contagious. Right? I'm not only hear to make you smile, and share good finds, I want us to connect on a deeper level. I want to share things that will make your life easier, all while enjoying yourself at the same time.  So with this new year its my hope to meet more of you in person, share more Life Brands, around the globe, and continue to build a girlfriend community for us all.  You know I'm a woman whose ever evolving and learning in this thing we call life, I'm just glad I have great Neighbors to share this journey with. 

I'm back! So Excited for the new year! I have lots to share. I really hope I'm able to accomplish it all. Stay tuned.... 

From Your Girlfriend Next Door

Live Life in Color
The Next Best You


Hello Neighbors,

This week I've taking a turn, not only do I have some delicious recipes to share, one of my favorite Interior Designer, Rae of Ray Norris Design stopped by to chat share a cocktail, and indulge in the meal with me. We had a blast. 

Rated as one of the Nations Top 20 African American Interior Designers by Pink Eggshell, she is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Based in Northern Virginia, Rae also has an office in Miami, Florida and works with clients around the globe. 

Learn more about Rae at

The Inspirational Designer Behind Ray Norris Designs Is  Rae P. Revelle, Named For Her Father's Sake, Ray Norris Designs Offers Modern Residential Design That Truly, "Speaks Volumes." 

Blueberry Lemon Pancake Pops

Bella Cake Pop & Donut Hole Maker


Pancake Batter
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour, (Spooned And Leveled)
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Milk
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Melted, Or Vegetable Oil
1 Large Egg
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 Cup Fresh Blueberries
2 Tbs Of Lemon Extract

Preheat Oven  In A Small Bowl, Whisk Together Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder, And Salt; Set Aside.
In A Medium Bowl, Whisk Together Milk, Butter (Or Oil), And Egg. Add Dry Ingredients To Milk Mixture; Whisk Until Just Moistened (Do Not Overmix; A Few Small Lumps Are Fine). 
Add Lemon Extract And Blueberries
Heat A Large Skillet (Nonstick Or Cast-Iron) Or Griddle Over Medium. Fold A Sheet Of Paper Towel In Half, And Moisten With Oil; Carefully Rub Skillet With Oiled Paper Towel.
For Each Pancake, Spoon 1 To 2 Tablespoons Of Batter Onto Skillet, Using The Back Of The Spoon To Spread Batter Into A The Holes
Cook As Directed by The Pop Maker Usually 60 seconds 
STEP 6 Allow to cool and add Pop sticks
STEP 7 Roll in Blackberry Syrup and Add Nutty Crunch

Inspired By

Inspired By

Blackberry Syrup
10-12 oz Blackberries
1/3 cup Honey
1 Tbs Butter
1 Tsp Black Currant Preserve 

Nut Crunch (Dean Jacob's Ice Cream CrunchBlackberry Syrup Photo found on

Although this Tourte Milanese looks difficult, it isn’t.  You cook eggs and basil and roast red bell peppers. The rest is rolling out dough and layering ham and cheese along with the three, and that’s it – unless you feel the need to butcher a pig and make cheese. It makes a beautiful brunch treat or anytime main dish.  Switch out some of the ingredients for ingredients you like – for instance, broccoli instead of spinach, turkey instead of ham, cheddar cheese instead of swiss.  Endless possibilities. I decided to try Basil instead of spinach, just to add a twist. And it turned out delicious!



Basil Tourte Milanese

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 1 9-inch round Tourte

Serving Size: 6 to 8 servings, depending on how you slice it

For the Eggs
est of Filling

  • 1 pound puff pastry, chilled - homemade or store bought. If using store bought, roll both sheets together to make 1 lb, then cut off 1/4 lb for the top of the torte. Use any scraps to cut out designs for the top, if desired.
  • 10 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh tarragon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 large red bell peppers
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound basil, trimmed and washed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
  • 4 ounces Swiss cheese or Gruyere, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces Blue Cheese
  • 4 ounces (Lucerne Dairy Farms Blue Marble Jack Slices, found at my local Safeway Grocery
  • 8 ounces smoked or honey ham, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt


half the eggs, half the Basil, half the ham, half the cheese, all the roasted peppers, laid flat Continue layering in reverse order remaining half of cheese remaining half of ham remaining half of basil remaining half of eggs

  1. Prepare the pastry: Generously butter an 8 1/2-inch springform pan. Cut off one quarter of the pastry, cover, and set aside. Roll out remaining puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick round. Carefully fit the pastry into the pan, pressing to get a smooth fit, leave a 1-inch overhang. Roll out the smaller piece of pastry until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut out an 8-inch circle of dough for the top of the torte and lift it onto a plate or baking sheet. Cover both the crust and the lid with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the filling. If using scraps for cut-out designs, like leaves, place the cut-outs on a separate plate, cover with plastiv wrap and chill in fridge along with top and lined springform pan.
  2. Make the Eggs: Whisk eggs, herbs, salt and pepper together. Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat and pour in the eggs. Gently but constantly stir the eggs around in the pan, pulling the eggs that set into the center of the pan. Slide the eggs onto a plate, without mounding them, and cover immediately with plastic wrap. You want a loose, soft scramble since the eggs will be baking for a little over an hour.
  3. Roast the peppers: Place whole and untrimmed, directly over the flame of a gas burner. As soon as one portion of a peppers skin is charred, turn the pepper. When black and blistered all over, drop into a bowl...cover with plastic wrap and let steam (I throw them all in a paper or large ziplock bag and seal it shut) for about 20 minutes. Use your fingers to rub off skin - DO NOT rinse under water, you lose flavor. Cut each pepper once from top to bottom, cut away the stem, open the peppers, and lay them flat. Trim away the inside veins and discard the seeds; season peppers with salt and pepper and set aside, covered, until needed.
  4. Alternatively, lay the peppers on a baking sheet and place them under the broiler, turning them as each side chars, then continue as instructed above.
  5. Note - The peppers release a lot of liquid once roasted. Make sure the peppers are dry (blot with paper towels) before adding them to the tourte. I cut up the roasted peppers because sometimes you end up with big or whole pieces pulling out with each forkful.
  6. Cook the Spinach: in a large quantity of boiling salted water for 1 minute to blanch it. Drain spinach in a colander, rinse with cold water, and press it to extract all of the excess moisture. Heat the oil, butter, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Add blanched spinach and sauté for 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and add a little heavy cream. Bring quickly to the boil and stir so it mixes with the spinach. Remove the spinach from the skillet with a slotted and set aside. Once it's cooled, squeeze as much liquid out before adding it to the tourte.
  7. Assemble the Torte: Remove the pastry-lined springform pan from the refrigerator and layer the filling ingredients in the following order: (quick tip: Sprinkle a little dry bread crumbs or grated Italian hard cheese on the bottom of the raw crust before adding first layer of scrambled eggs to protect against a soggy bottom crust).
  8. With each layer, make certain that the ingredients are spread to the edge of the pan. Fold the excess crust in over the filling, and brush the rim of crust you've created with the egg wash. Center the rolled-out top crust over the torte and gently push the edge of the top crust down into the pan, pressing and sealing the top and bottom crusts along the sides. Brush the top with the egg wash and cut a vent in the center of the crust. Use the point of the knife to etch a design in the top crust, taking care to cut only halfway into the dough. Chill the fully loaded tourte for 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking.
  9. 20 minutes prior to baking; position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
  10. Bake the Torte: Place the torte on a jelly-roll pan, give it another coat of egg wash, and bake it for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until puffed and deeply golden. Remove from the oven and let rest on a rack until it reaches room temperature. Run a blunt knife or offset spatula around the edges of the pan and release the sides. Let cool for 20 - 30 minutes before cutting. I let it cool for 1 hour before cutting because it still felt like it would fall apart upon cutting after 30 minutes.
    Remember, this serves anywhere from 6 to 8 people, depending on the size of the slices.  That’s barely an egg per person.  It sounds much worse than it actually is.

Recipe by Michel Richard Video of Michel Richard making the Tourte Milanese - Starting at 6:23

The Cocktail: Blackberry Lemon Rise

Fresh Blackberries
(1 small pack) Courvoisier Cognac or your cognac of choice
 Limoncello Fabrizia 

Soak Blackberries overnight in Courvoisier cognac and Limoncello (Leave in the refrigerator until ready for use)
When ready use the juice from the blackberries, pour in glass 1/4 full and top off with your favorite Riesling wine or white wine...Cheers!

BERRY PANCAKE Muffins PREP TIME 15 mins COOK TIME 26 mins TOTAL TIME 41 mins

Author: Original

Serves: 12 German pancake bowls

Berry Pancake Muffins

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

  • Berry Filling
  • mixed berries (optional fresh or frozen blackberry,
  • blueberry, raspberry, can also use apples as an alternative)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Crumb Topping
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

  • Berry Pancake Muffins: Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease cupcake pan.
  • In a large bowl, or your blender, combine all of the German Pancake ingredients except the butter and blend (or whisk) until smooth. Add butter and blend until well combined.
  • Add batter to the tins using a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. They will be VERY puffy but will deflate as they cool.
  • Berry Pie Filling: While the pancakes are baking and resting, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add berries, cinnamon, lemon juice and brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender and the liquid is absorbed, approximately 8-10 minutes.
  • Crumb Topping: While the apples are cooking, combine the sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, and butter, in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with pastry cutter, 2 forks, or place mixture in the blender and pulse into the mixture is crumbly.
  • Assemble: Evenly spoon cooked berries into German Pancake Bowls then top with the Crumb Topping (its okay if it gets messy!). Broil on the 2nd rack (approximately 10 inches from broiler) for 3-6 minutes, rotating pan half way through so the topping browns evenly. Remove when crumbs are golden.
  • Top with ice cream (optional) and consume.

Recipe inspired by Carls Bad Cravings 



LIVE LIFE in Color

    Living Your Vision


    Creating a Vision for your life should be the FIRST thing that you do if you are dreaming of a life of success and if you want to see big things happen in your life!!  You are capable of much more than you believe,  you only have to see it, in order to make it happen.  That’s where the magic is!

    "Create the highest grandest vision possible for your life because you become what what you believe." -Oprah Winfrey

    Recently I was suffering the web for some inspiration, and came across an interview dated August 2010, from Carolyn Rubenstein. (Sometimes dated material is the best material) The article was titled, Purpose of “Living Your Vision” Series: To focus on the journey – the how – of unconventional success. The series emphasizes that life is truly a verb – not solely a string of accomplishments.  The interview was with co-founder of the book Style Statement This peaked my curiosity, so I had to read further.  

    It started off with, Unconventional success redefines what we consider possible – it’s success that has not yet been defined by others. Essentially, it means paving a path through uncharted territory.  This is so me, and possibly you too. How many times have you sat in your vision, and truly believed in yourself, but once you share it with someone else, you're open to so much self doubt and misunderstanding.  Sometimes things may be so clear to you and others, just can't seem to grasp your vision at all.  

    The Article:

    Carrie McCarthy is the founder and co-author of Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design, she has been featured in Real Simple, Vogue, Body & Soul, and Domino. Style Statement is an intimate process of self-revelation and empowerment, An hour-long consultation that provides a blueprint of sorts for a woman’s personal, emotional and life styles-all designed to help her live authentically.”

    As an interior designer, Carrie founded her company on the principle that true style creates both beauty and ease in people’s lives. She has designed for multi-million dollar estates and small studios, and styled for lifestyle magazines, luxury hotels and architectural firms. As a graduate of the London College of Fashion, Carrie established “Robe,” a successful wedding dress company, which was a dramatic contrast from her early career as a nationally ranked track and field athlete.

    How are you living your vision?

    My vision is a work in progress, one day it feels graceful and full of ease, another day it feels difficult and wobbly. And I’m okay with my paradoxical feelings. I’ve given up thinking, “I need to get it right,” instead I ask three questions:

    Does this bring me joy?

    What am I committed to?

    Who may I ask for support?

    Asking myself these questions guides me towards my vision especially on those days of insecurity, overwhelm and abundance of choice.

    Andrea: Wow! Do you often question yourself; and forget we are all a work in progress. These three questions are amazing. I feel a sticky note on the mirror moment coming on!

    What is your Style Statement? Please share what that statement means to you.

    My Style Statement is Refined Treasure. I’ve always been refining my business, my choices, and my lifestyle. On the deepest level, my Style Statement reminds me that it’s always valuable to refine my plan, and treasures always show up. And when I have been less than my best – I’ve been the opposite of my Style Statement, ignoring my intuition, rushing under pressure or neglecting my needs.

    When I treasure myself, I find the treasures in others.

    Andrea: Amazing. Similar to Life Branded®- Style Statement helps you communicate who you are through your style and intentions. Life Branded® helps you walk in what you were created and create that as your life's work and brand. 

    y Style Statement: Designed Inspiration

    y Life Branded: To inspire others to see the best in themselves 

    Wow it's amazing how these two can work hand in hand to create a life and vision you love.

    When working on an exciting project (one that you are passionate about), how do you quiet your thoughts and shift your mind-set in order to do “other” things?

    Some people can work through a bomb going off, not me. A beautiful environment is essential to my creativity, I sit at my French monastery table with a view of the forest, a cup of earl grey tea, a pencil, a pad of grid paper, my mac book and my mind is clear and alert.

    What are three to five lessons you’ve learned during your personal journey?

    • I am responsible for my life.
    • Nature heals.
    • Beauty inspires.
    • I am perfectly flawed.
    • Big egos are big problems.

    Andrea: The questions just keep getting better.  I had to pause on this for a moment:

    1. It's okay for your path to lead you in a different direction
    2. Spread Knowledge
    3. Heal the heart
    4. Act in forgiveness
    5. Cherish Lifeships

    How do you acknowledge & celebrate personal success?

    I’m not great at this, it’s one of the reasons my second word is Treasure. As a student and athlete I learned to go without until it became a habit, then I met my husband and he has taught me to fill our lives with goodness and celebration. Hands down the birth of our son has been the greatest gift and in celebration of his birth we planted an olive tree on our property.

    Complete the prompts in bold…

    • I know… knowing yourself is beautiful.
    • This week, I want to… swim 2km.
    • This month, I want to… complete our cottage on the Gulf Islands and spend the rest of the summer there.
    • In this lifetime, I want to… foster what I love and make a difference.
    • I don’t know… so much.
    • I am… complicated and brave.

    Andrea: This should be interesting...

    • I know… following your heart leave little disappointments
    • This week, I want to… believe in myself
    • This month, I want to… land a book deal
    • In this lifetime, I want to… allow my life brand to touch and inspire others
    • I don’t know… what's at the end of the rainbow
    • I am… creative and hard on myself

    What’s an inspiring tip you’d like to share with readers?

    Underneath each complaint is a wish, what are you wishing for?

    Andrea: Now that is a good point. I need to stop complaint and be honest about my desires. 

    Andrea's Tip: Remember the desires and vision you shared with your young self. It's never too late to make it happen. Do it!

    What’s a question you wish more people asked?

    What are you curious about?

    Andrea: What were you conceived  to do?

    Thank you so much, Carrie, for sharing your incredible responses! I am so inspired by how you are living your vision :).

    What do you find yourself consistently longing for?

    Andrea: Completion, and I won't fall short.

    Now I hope this was as thought provoking for you as it has been for me.  I hope to continue you to move forward to, The Next Best You.

    Interview Origin Carolyn

    The Greatest Detox Bath... Time To Reflect

    This week I was tested personally and professionally. It made me question, who I am and what I am doing. I know we all face challenges, however often times we allow one situation or person confuse out mission and purpose. Sometimes depending on the scenario, it may even make you question your existence. This is when you have to sit back relax, and gather yourself, remember who you are, and the purpose you are fulfilling.

    We all have something unique to offer, and the world needs each gift that only you possess.  God made us different for a reason, we may have similarities, but the world is like a big puzzle; if we all came together and uplifted one another we would reveal a beauty picture.  

    It is important that we take time, and learn from each lesson that is presented to us. Taking time to reflect, meditate, and pray is all very important. Its food for our souls, and a way for us to clear our minds and connect to our journey. I realize that my purpose is to inspire others to live a life that is fulfilling and connected to their purpose. I know you hear this a lot. No everyone shouldn't go out and quit their job, and paint for a living, it's about identifying the path you're on, recognizing your passions, and fulfilling your journey. Hence, why my motto is, The Next Best You.  We are all on a journey to fulfill that one thing in our lives, that no one knows about, but you have a burning desire to fulfill, if you had no fear. Yes, NO FEAR, of what others would think, what your bank account would look like, and the fear of you making the right decision to move out of your comfort zone.

    I coined the term and mission Life Branded® just for that purpose to help individuals, Live and Discover their Life Brand. We live and are identified by our Life Brands daily, rather you know it or not, everything your do is a representation of your brand and people will treat you accordingly.  We can identify how others view us by observing our own life map. It's no secret humans are very intelligent and can see pass the tangibles and read your soul.

    What's in a Life Brand:
    "It Is What Have You Been Placed On This Earth To Do.  It Is A Sequence Of Events That Have Evolved Around You That Has Yet To Be Discovered.  It Defines What You Have Been Branded To Do, But Requires Fundamental Guidance To Allow You To Discover It.  Many Of My Clients Have A Million Ideas About What They Believe They Should Do, But Need To Be Pointed In One Single Direction.  Once We Lay Out Their Roadmap, They Realize It Was There All Along, But Just Needed To Know How To Get There."

    So about this bath. Because, I was really in my feelings this week. I needed a major detox, overhaul, and some self-reflection time. I'm sure you guys have been there too. I wanted to share this detox, so when you have one of those days, and you're feeling down, this is a great way to refresh the senses. Now note, I'm not saying this isn't an excellent way to detox the skin anytime. I just know most of us, don't take the time out to actually sit in a tub or 30 mins, to be honest, I've seen people so busy that a 10 minute shower seems like a stretch. Now I know, I'm not like most. I really take the time to smell the roses, and yes I have the time to do so, I love my life and not making any excuses for the way I choose to live. I just hope others take the time out and care for themselves just a little more. 

    As always I'm saying this out of love. 

    Become The Next Best You

    From Your Girlfriend Next Door

    Live Life in Color