Monday, November 30, 2009

Family Portraits at Stone Creek Park

We headed out early on Saturday morning for family portraits by Jackie. When I get the pics back from our session, I will be sure to share. Until then, here are some of the shots Don took while waiting for our turn to smile and pose. Here's a brief look at the Stone Creek Park in Flower Mound. It was an incredible location and perfect for an outdoor session. Love those rocks!
There was this bridge that we had to cross to get to the creek. Mari had a ball running over it and back. (Hi Jackie!)
Mari was hamming it up most of the morning, wanting to explore, and giddy while she did. However, when we sat her down to snap the photo, she wasn't having it. She totally had a mini meltdown at one point, even refusing marshmallows and M&M's. Here at the end, I tossed her in the air, with the hopes of getting a Mari smile. I think we got one.
I like this shot. Don said she looks like a coach. I told him I agreed. A coach who means business!
And I just can't get over how much this boy has grown. We seriously almost see eye to eye! Wow.
My beautiful sister rockin' the Sheffield Jersey. Actually, it doesn't say Sheffield, but that is who is number 1 this year.


Here's the full set of shots here:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tech v. Baylor at Jerryworld

Saturday night, we trekked out to Arlington to the Cowboy's Stadium to watch Texas Tech play Baylor. The final score: Tech 20 - Baylor 13. Defense won this game, let me tell you. Ruffin McNeill is the man! I love his passion and ability to motivate his players to get it done. And get it done they did. That last Baylor drive had me standing on my feet, Mari perched on my left hip, right arm extended in the air, waving my guns, screaming Raider Power! They stopped 'em and the goosebumps all over my body when they stopped them made that victory all the better. The best thing of all? Don, Mari, Sam, Cristian, Zeni, Mom, Dad, and Danika were all around us. Brother, Missy, Espi, Mikey, Zeke, Xavier, and Rob were all there too! There were tens of thousands of other Red Raider fans in attendance and let me tell you, it was such a wonderful sensation to hear the boom of RAIDER....POWER echo off the walls in Jerryworld.
We sat right next to the band, so getting hyped up was incredibly easy. By the end of the night, Danika knew all of the cheers and hand motions. Mari had a nice nap during the 3rd quarter, but woke up during the 4th to see the victory. Even she was waving her guns when she heard the fight song. (Does she hear it much? I think so.) It was so cute to hear her yell, "go, go, go!"
This is why I love college football! Man, after January I'm going to have to immerse myself in all kinds of crafty goodness to keep myself occupied. So long Fred's Philly. I'll be seeing you again in January for the bowl game and then I'll take a 7 month hiatus until next season.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Times Two

We were very fortunate to have two Thanksgiving celebrations this year. Thursday night, we had a small family gathering, where we conferenced in Brother and Missy. The wonder of technology, right? He was at work and she was at home packing and getting ready for the trip. I'm so glad that we were able to be there together this evening, but it wasn't complete without Zeni and my Pops. Yep, those crab legs were fantastic! That morning, Don and I had whipped out a 10K and fell in and out of awareness while watching football.

We got up super early on Friday for the Black Friday deals. (4:15AM) I really wanted to take advantage of the sales to stretch the donated dollars by my group for the Salvation Army Angel Tree kids. I loaded up on: 2 mp3 players, a car seat, case of diapers, 2 dresses, a pair of shoes, an all-weather jacket, a princess blanket, with matching pajamas, and plate. While out and about, I also found some really cool megablocks for Mari and a Little People farm set. The best deal of the day had to have been the the gun safe we've been eyeballing for a few years now. We've kept Don's rifles in a locked gunny sack, but always wanted a fire proof gun safe to keep them in. We splurged and got it! (By the way, did you know it is illegal to have a gun in the home that isn't locked up around kids less than 12 years of age?) We were very lucky to have people help us to save on the cost of delivery and set up. (Thanks Espi, Simon, and Stacy!) I also scored some nifty plastic shoe boxes at Home Depot and an awesome tool tote that I plan to store my ribbon. AAAAND...we got some fabulous poinsettas for 99 cents! Later on we'll be delivering some of them to neighbors to spread joy. We all took a break for breakfast. While there my mom entered a contest to win a gas grill. Well, turns out, we're a finalist for it. They called us and let us know that the live drawing will happen on Wednesday. Afterwards, I picked up some SASSY gifts that I won't reveal because the surprise is for one of my readers. However, I was less than impressed when my mom and I made an excursion to Chico's fashion. The lady who helped my mom was patient and kind. The woman who checked us out was...well, I don't want to say what she was, but rest assured, a letter is being composed to send to the store manager. Later on, we had a girls fun time getting pedicures. Mari was a hoot. She really enjoyed dipping her feet in the water and getting a baby massage.

On Saturday, we were all able to be together. It has been a long while since that happened, and it was really great. It was a little less formal of a gathering, and I can't believe how much food we had. The turkey was so delicious, as was the mac and cheese. (Thanks Brother) Sam was mixing up the perfect drinks for everyone and Zeni was being a gracious non-alcoholic drink server. She was on it, especially with the refills. I loved that everyone helped out to prepare our meal.
This time when we did our prayer of Thanksgiving circle, there were definitely more of us. When it came to my turn, I knew I was going to be incredibly emotional. This year has been a valley amongst our peaks and valleys, but I know I'm so very lucky that my valleys aren't canyons. I have a lot of love and support surrounding me and I'm so very, very blessed by generosity, love, and prayers. It's truly hard to think about the bad when you are surrounded by so much positivity. I'm ever so grateful for special people. And that includes you who are reading this. I swear I'm just putting my words out in the universe, only to be ready by spammers and you special few. Thanks for being a sounding board!


Full set of photos here:

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Moon Fever


I went out to see New Moon over the weekend. I was hard pressed to find anyone to go with me. Primarily due to two reasons: those who were interested had plans to see it at midnight when it opened and the others who think I'm silly for falling victim to this series to begin with. Lucky for me, e-Stacy was available to be my date and my inner teenager silently squealed with delight because I wouldn't have to wait until it came out on DVD.

I didn't have high hopes for the film. I was expecting loads of boring, brooding stares. Heck, it got 1.5 stars and most of that was for the effects. Essentially, I was expecting this movie to suck on an epic level, similar to Gigli. Instead, what I got was a whole lotta Some Kind of Wonderful with hints of TV action sequences. It wasn't bad, honestly. Actually, I enjoyed it. Not enough to spend another $7.50 to watch it in the theater, but I will more than likely buy the DVD when Blockbuster adds it to the 3 for $25 section and add it to the collection.

The revelation I made about this film (and quite frankly the books too) was that it really did take me back to being a teenager: when most of my thoughts were consumed with boys, my future, that insecurity I felt over and over and over again, and the uncertainty of it all. I'm not a huge fan of the Bella character, but somehow Kristen Stewart made her not seem as whiny and needy as she was in the books. She kept her trademark lip chewing to a minimum (for her anyway.) Heck, I wanted to give both her and Taylor Lautner some Burt's Bees lip balm with all of the lip licking and biting. But then I realized that as an awkward teen, you often make silly little facial gestures, revealing what you really want, but not really having the courage to follow through. Anyway, I don't know what it was, but Kristen Stewart looked really lovely in this film. So there you go boys, a little eye candy for you too. My favorite scene was when the guys gathered in Emily's home. There was such an easy feeling and flow to them. Their antics didn't seem forced. They genuinely looked like a tight-knit family. Plus, I love, love, love all of the little details in the movie. How many of you notice the things put on end tables or the photos on the wall in a movie? Raising hand...I do!

And God bless Stacy for tolerating my tiny bouts of snickering every time Edward glittered in full view in the sunlight. I couldn't help but chuckle ever since I read that comparison of him to Michael Jackson's glove. Which, can you believe that glove fetched $420,000 at an auction? I adored Michael Sheen as Aro! He certainly does evil well.

I was also reminded how much my former self was addicted to adrenaline. I am very chicken when it comes to certain things, but never one to back down from a dare (even from myself), I often found myself in predicaments that allowed me to conquer my fears, thus yielding massive amounts of adrenaline. I haven't had a rush like that in years! No, I take that back, it's been nearly two years since the last big adrenaline rush...childbirth does that to you. :D

Anyway, I would recommend this movie. Yes, I wish there was a bit more action, but overall, it is mindless fun and a good way to escape reality for a couple of hours. And it was even better going home to Don and Mari and living my own reality. Everything turned out pretty darn nifty for this former angst-ridden teenager who was once in search of herself and love.

*btw, this movie poster is a fan poster I found on the Internets, but it is way cooler than some of the actual posters.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Chalice Project


This chalice made a weeklong visit to our home last week. Our church is conducting a chalice project, where a chosen family prays a specific prayer for vocations. We are also welcome to fill the chalice with our own prayers for vocations. Along the way, we also filled it with prayers of Thanksgiving, for loved ones, lost loved ones, general prayers, and a very special prayer for Jenna & Joey.

Having such a beautiful symbol of our faith at the dinner table reaffirmed our faith and reminded us truly why we do what we do. We were instructed to put the in a prominent position in our home, so the chalice would move from the dinner table to the counter above the sink. If we aren't eating, then we are in the kitchen prepping or cleaning. As I put dishes away, I would sneak a glance at the chalice, and then catch a glimpse of my husband. I would pause and give thanks for him.

He and I are connected, and together, we were blessed with Mari. And moments later, after catching that glance, she would scamper along, gleefully screeching, while flitting about the kitchen. And yes, even Guapo halted and stood at quiet attention while we pray as a family.

Growing up, my own family prayed together. This was actually my favorite part of the day, when we would lock hands and say grace before dinner. Now, when we all gather together, just before we part ways, we have our family circle, uniting together again for a prayer of thanks and blessings. Each one of us connected, with all of the grandchildren (and granddog, too!) in the middle of the adults.

Prayer is a very powerful thing. To me, it doesn't matter to whom you are praying, but I do believe we are all connected by our own faith. It is this faith that heals and supports in the dark of the night or the quiet of the day. Some people pray silently. Others sing their prayers. Some pray with their actions. Each type of prayer is beautiful and and lyrical...in its own way.

I felt very fortunate that we were able to fill the chalice with our prayers. We felt honored to have been picked to host it. The underside of the chalice was dedicated in honor of a priest back in the 80s. I meant to write the name down and research the beginnings of how our church first obtained it. Unfortunately, I did not, but it was still nice to have that piece of history in our home.

I send up prayers for all of you and I sincerely hope you get to spend time with your loveds ones, both biological family and family that you have made along the way. May God bless each and every one of you!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Family

When I did a quick search on dictionary.com or wikipedia.com for family you I was not at all surprised at how lengthy the entry was. I did find it to be as basic as you could write about it, but neither topic went into the depths of what family is.

It means something different to all of us, you know, the underlying definition. Some don't like the thought of spending more than an hour with family. Others wish they were granted another hour with their families because they were taken too soon. For me, family is foundation.

I know I often get nostalgic of times since passed, mostly because I miss my family. And yes, I miss that we argue and bickered over the most mundane things. But I learned about sharing, and compromise. I learned about individuality and being respectful of others. I learned that everyone has a job, and even when they don't feel like doing it, they still do it. Everyone has something to contribute.

I miss that I was irritated by little brother. Brother isn't so little any more, and I wish he was around more to irritate me.

I miss irritating my sister by ruining the clothes I would borrow. I just wanted to be like her and wearing her clothes was like putting on a Samantha costume for a little while. Because I have a more womanly shape than when I was 15, her clothes no longer fit. Shirts and pants aren't long enough. Plus, she's no longer a few feet away.

I miss hiding in my parents closet, perched atop my father's dress shoes and behind his suit jackets, waiting to pounce him when he got home. He always let me blow on his tie to make the knot disappear. For so long I thought it was magic, until I grew up and learned the logistics of how to tie a tie. These days, I think it is great that Mari likes to hide in our closet, perched atop my shoes, behind her daddy's shirt.

I miss watching my mother get ready every morning. She was so quick to put on her face. So very glamorous and beautiful. Strong, confident, and nurturing: I often found myself sneaking into their room to spray her perfume on my pillow so that I could smell her when I fell asleep at night. Recently, she stayed with us and her perfume lingered in the room. I kept telling Don to quickly shut the door because Mom's smell would fade so much faster than I wanted it to.

All this to say, they are my foundation. My strength from which I draw upon. My inspiration on so many levels. They are the reason I am who I've become. I love that we've all grown up and not only are we family, but we're friends. They are some of my greatest friends. I often don't speak about my anxieties and worries, but they can sense when it's there. Out of nowhere, I will get that phone call, email, or text, and it will lift my spirit. In that instant, I'm reminded from where I came, and with that strength, where I'm going.

I'm so very thankful to be blessed with my family. Because of them, I know nothing will ever be impossible.

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to the mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Night-Night Brother & Sister

Since the season finally decided to change, I was really concerned about Mari at night. She, like me, doesn't sleep well when it is really warm. Her sinuses dry out and it triggers nosebleeds. However, I don't want her to be too cold either. We've been layering her with a onesie, socks, and fleece footie pajamas or just with the fleece pjs, but we still haven't found the right combination. This is primarily caused by the fact that she likes to wrestle around with her blankets, shoving them off of her toddler crib, or what I think is her favorite: sleeping on top of the blankets.

Last night, we experimented by letting Guapo sleep with her. He used to sleep with us, but as he got older and we grew more and more concerned with potential back issues (dachshunds are known for their back problems AND he sleeps so soundly, more than once he's fallen off of our bed!), we relented and he slept in his own bed within eyesight of me.

Last night, when we headed to bed, he did his usual half-dozed trot to his bed in our room, preparing to burrow under his very own afghan when I paused at Mari's room and asked him if he wanted to sleep with his sister. No sooner had I gotten the phrase out of my mouth, his tiny ears perked up, tail at attention and he raced into her room and hopped on her bed.

He paused in mid-burrow, stared at me for permission and I nodded approval. Normally, he's never allowed in her bed. Even when he helps me wake her in the morning, he will only put his front two paws on the bed, which isn't very far for him at all, since it is less than 12 inches off of the ground (including the mattress height). His tail a-waggin', he happily nestled at her feet, and Mari narily stirred from her deep slumber. I tucked them both in bed, kissed them both good night and whispered into Guapo's ear, "Take care of your little sister." With that, he rested his head on her leg.

This morning, around 6:30, I heard a *THUMP*, then a shaking dog, with clinking dog tags. Dangit, i forgot to take off Guapo's clothes last night! I heard this little nails click on the concrete and I only presumed that he was off to burrow in the nest he's built for himself in the living room. Moments later, Mari sleepily stepped into our bedroom, draggin' her blue star lovey with her. I gladly welcomed her into our bed. She nuzzled with me, and just when I thought she was about to pass out, she perked up, planted a kiss on me and said, "Hiiiiiyyeee Maaaamaa!"

Good morning to you, sugarbean. :)

Photographers are Awesome


One of the biggest reasons I like the holidays are the photos I take at this time. It isn't that they are super amazing by a professional photographer's standards, but they are captured memories of family and friends that I don't nearly get to see, nor spend as much time with them as I'd like.

This year, I did something out of the norm. I booked a professional photographer to meet us the Saturday after Thanksgiving and get a BIG family portrait of my immediate family and their loved ones. I'm so flippin' excited about this opportunity! Normally, we rush and try to squeeze time and head to a photog-in-a-box. This inevitably is very stressful, because trying to squeeze that many people into a room and get them to cooperate, then finally agree on a photo to buy...well, it's just a mess! This is an investment in a moment captured. Thanksgiving is my 2nd most favorite holiday of the year, just inches behind Easter. This year, we're all going to be together! Not on Thanksgiving proper, but two days after isn't so bad. I can't even remember the last time I had everyone around me. It isn't like years have gone by. I know it's just been a few months, but still. We're a tight knit family and I get a little skittish when it's been too long since we've connected.

Anyway, I first "met" Jackie on a local moms board and later met her briefly in person on another photo shoot. I was taken back by her incredible eye and the photos she took of me blew my mind. Seriously, normally I don't like being in front of a camera. I prefer to be behind one, in fact. However, with her at the helm, I'm confident and know that she'll not only get a great shot, but capture my personality. If she could do that with me, well, then it'll be easy-breezy with the rest of my family. They are all super photogenic! That probably has to do with Mom insisting on getting our photos done in the studio every 3 - 6 months since birth. :D Thanks Mom! Good thing none of our photos have turned up on awkwardfamilyphotos.com

While Jackie runs mini-session specials, which are quite a bit less expensive than a typical session, I wanted to have her keen eye for fabulousness all to ourselves. I have wanted to participate in some of her mini session specials for a while, but the timing just wasn't right. Anyway, she is running a wonderful Christmas special: For $175, you get 3 mini sessions throughout 2010. That's a $60 savings!

Also, one final brag on her, she's giving away over $1000 in custom photography to a very deserving family. If you know someone, you should definitely email their story to her.

Speaking of giveaways, another photographer's blog I stalk is Spink Studio. And she's giving away 50 custom Christmas cards for anyone who enters the contest. Go check it out if you want a chance to win.

What are some of your favorite family photo (or general photo) experiences?

Monday, November 16, 2009

brand new header

First off, I have to give a HUGE, monumental, epic shout out to Amanda over at KevinandAmanda.com for the font I'm using in my header. She has some super duper amazing fonts that she created all on her own based on other people's handwriting. How amazingly awesome is she? I've noticed some others that I've missed that I'll have to put into my font inventory.

Anyway, instead of the breezy, dreamy photo I opted for this little gem that I snapped last weekend. It was a lonely flower in a murky pond, yet, she looked so regal and serene. I figured it needed to be shared with the world, so here you go. Voila!

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bake, Bake, Bake

Alrighty, I didn't bake nearly as much as I initially thought I would b/c I was sidetracked by my re-purposing project and desire to clean every inch of grout in both of our bathrooms (which seriously took about 3 hours!). Any how, here's the baking post. I was very happy that I took photos to share. Yaaay!

So, the first one: duh...Rice Krispy Treats.
Yum, check out that unsalted butter melted with the marshmallows. Small fact, I was unaware that both my BFF and sister hadn't really made Rice Krispy Treats before.
I had a bag of unopened candy corn, so I threw a bit in the mix for kicks and it was delish! I got this idea from The Laws of My Life blog. It was a hit! I only had two pieces leftover for today and that was a very good thing.
Next up, Chocolate Chip Cookies, a recipe that inspired me when visiting Paper Oranges. Only, halfway through making these yummy treats, I realized that I only had one cup of chocolate chips!!! EEEK!!! Instead, I threw in some craisins and chopped pecans for some added flavor and texture. Ok, so this recipe looked oh-so-easy-and-fabulous that I added it to my handwritten recipe book. Check it out:
Remember when I mentioned the aprons? Well, here they are in all their glory! (minus the one that I was wearing.) And yes, that's a bright red double-T on the black apron. I made it as a gift to myself when I graduated. That lil' apron has seen many kitchens and baking adventures.
Dry Goods...awesome Quaker Oats

Here are some more dry good. That first set went in the first bowl and these went in the 2nd bowl.
Here are my awesome measuring cups. I don't think that they've actually graced the blog.

And here are the tiny measuring spoons.Hello spoons!Whisking together the oats, flour, salt, baking powder, & baking soda. Can you spot me in the reflection?
Mmm...light and fluffy: butter, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla.

Time to add the eggs. I <3 brown eggs! yaaay
Now to fold in the chips, craisins, and pecans.
Last time I baked, there was a bit of caramel overload onto the bottom of the pan and well, it hasn't gone away. I've attempted to use the self-cleaning setting on it, but I'm not sure it is really doing anything. In any case, our little convection oven saved the night.
Voila! yummy goodness!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

First Re-purpose

Thanks to Make It and Love It, Macaroni & Cheese, and Fabric Floozie, because of each of them I had enough confidence to attempt my very own re-purpose. (And a shout out goes to my Grandma, Mom, and my MIL, too! Grandma patiently taught me to sew and encouraged me, just like Momma. Carol left the new machine here for me to use after the one my mother initially gave me wore out.) For those of you who don't know what re-purposing means, it's exactly as it sounds. You take something and re-purpose it for another use. Kind of like recycling.

In a time not so long ago, I went to trusty Old Navy and came upon a shirt that looked vintage and just like the perfect shirt for Don. Being blue, I knew it would make his eyes pop. Well, fast forward a few years and it has gotten to a point where he was ready to donate it. It lay in the bag and I knew I was too emotionally attached to it. I stowed it away and had every intention of finding another use for it. Well, today was the day that I embarked upon that journey.

I took one of her dresses and put it on top of his shirt. I snipped away, and as I went, an idea came to mind to make it 3/4 length sleeves, with two ruffles going down the front. I'd never made ruffles before, so after inspecting over and over again, and watching a youtube video, I figured it out. And well, here's the end result:

I didn't take another clearer photo before writing this entry. In any case, I survived it and I am pretty happy with myself. Next time I do this, I will take photos along the way. I was unsure how this one would turn out, and I was fearful that I was going to have to cut what I started into quilting squares instead of having a dress as the end result. All in all, it took me just under 2 hours to complete. Not too shabby for a shirt that cost less than $10 because I found it on sale. Glad the wee gal is going to have some use out of it too! Hooray for a cutesy winter dress!

Here's to hoping she'll wear it!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Date Night: Queen of Sheba

Last night, Don took me out on a date! This was a bonafide date, folks. Last Thursday when I got home from work, he politely asked me out for the next Thursday. I was totally impressed. He'd arranged for us to have a sitter (Thanks Sam!) and told me not to worry about planning a thing. I was so excited. When Thursday came around, I was anxious, and actually considered my outfit and was lamenting that I didn't make time to straighten my hair. He'd kept our destination a surprise all week, so I was very eager to learn what the night had in store.

We headed out towards Addison and I realized that we were heading to Queen of Sheba. We had been talking about eating Ethiopian food for a couple of years now and FINALLY today was the day.

Our server was incredibly beautiful and gracious. We definitely felt like royalty. I thought it was sweet that Don had called in to make a reservation. Our table had a small reserved sign in the corner. Of course, when we walked in, two ladies had walked out, and there was just one other table that was occupied. Empty, but that just added to the romance of our date. The layout of the restaurant reminded me of those old supper clubs, which didn't surprise me much because it was right next door to the Italian club. AND this place serves both Ethiopian and Italian food. I wasn't sure how the two of those meshed together until we pulled up and noticed their neighbor to the left. It was ornately decorated, but welcoming at the same time. The mood was relaxed, unpretentious, but definitely evoked a higher level of class.

To make things easy on me (and my incredible indecisive nature, especially if there's an exhaustive menu!), we opted for the Queens Dinner. It is a 3-course meal, complete with appetizers for two, a shared plate of several dishes , honey wine, dessert, and coffee. We asked them to make it mild hot. Still wanted some spice, but not out of control heat. And for a tiny side of heat for Don. We had no idea what food they were going to bring out. We knew, though, that we'd be in for a treat!

Our server disappeared momentarily and reappeared with a fancy, fancy gold pitcher, and a gold plate with 2 freshly sliced lemons. She instructed us to use the lemon like a bar of soap to cleanse our hands. Next, she poured perfectly warm water over our hands and into the bowl. The top of the bowl had a lid with slats that made it easy to contain the water and prevent splashing. It was heavenly and my hands felt oh-so-soft! We made a mental note to wash our hands with lemon once a week to achieve that same silkyness. WOW, such service!

Next, we each had a sambusa, spiced ground beef in a pastry wrapper that reminded us of a cross between an Indian samosa and an Allsups burrito. Both of which we very, very much enjoy. The lentil sauce was awesome. There was this tomato "sauce" that was a lot like pico de gallo minus the cilantro. It too was very good.

Then she brought out the honey wine and a very large plate of food. We also had a side of injera, which is the sourdough spongy bread used as a utensil to eat with. You're supposed to eat with your hands, not traditional silverware. Even though she did bring out a fork, we did our very best to stick with just the injera. This plate is MASSIVE and smelled incredible. Looking at it, I was reminded of the first (and only) time I'd eaten Ethiopian food back in DC. (Thanks Breeyon!) I explained to Don what we should do, but he was already tearing away and diving in. I remember when I was younger, I used to use tortillas to eat my meal, so this felt familiar. The honey wine is very, very sweet. Not sweet like a Riesling, but sweet like nectar with a kick. I want to find a bottle to enjoy some time at home. I know it would pair wonderfully with a freshly baked loaf of whole wheat bread!



All of the food was amazing, but I did enjoy a couple just slightly more than the others. My favorite meat dish was a lamb dish, either the Yebeg Wott (lamb with butter) or the Yebeg Alitcha (lamb with garlic and ginger). I really enjoyed two vegetable dishes: Gomen (spinach and onion sauteed in olive oil & garlic) and the Shiro (pureed yellow peas with olive oil and garlic sauce). Of course, we tore up the injera! When our server came by to ask how we were, the spinach dish was gone. She took notice, smiled at our approving grunts and smiles, and returned with a side of more spinach and injera! Wow...we were already having difficulty finishing what we had. We knew we weren't going to be leaving empty handed. We NEEDED to-go dish, because this food was too delicious to not enjoy the next day.



Then came dessert! Like who had room? But we made room. Traditionally, she would have brought us out some Baklava, but instead she gave us the choice from their selections. We asked her for her favorites and the first two she mentioned we selected: Chocolate Godiva (dark chocolate cake) and Tiramisu. Both were the perfect finishing touches and both of us had an incredible desire to just sit and be.

We spent the next half hour, sipping our honey wine, tasting the coffee (which we got to go because it was unlike any other coffee I'd had. Tasted like chai tea, but coffee.), and generally catching up on life and discussion. One of the things that I first loved about Don was our ability to talk about everything and nothing, and walking away feeling not only like I connected to someone, but that I also learned something. I look forward to those moments where we can just talk and not worry. Not once were we interrupted by our server. I do remember glancing down and noticing that our water glasses had been filled, but I couldn't tell you when she'd come by.

It was such a romantic date and I would highly recommend Queen of Sheba to anyone! The food delicious, the service is impeccable. If you can swing it, opt for the Queen's Dinner ($35 a person), you will NOT be disappointed! I enjoyed it so much that I'm considering having my birthday celebration there this year. It's already outfitted with a small stage, dance floor, speakers, and best of all, a disco ball!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Aprons & Holidays

Every year around the holidays, it is a baking frenzy in our home. This is probably due in large part to my own mother fast and furiously whipping up all sorts of nummy-nums when we were growing up. Autumn and Winter go hand-in-hand with flour, butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Lately, I've been finding myself stocking up on this stuff without realizing it. Last night when I was fishing around the cabinets looking for something sweet, I realized that I had a full container of sugar, a half opened bag of sugar, and another bag of sugar stashed away in the storage pantry. Not to mention the three kinds of flours hiding along side the sugar container, the two bags of brown sugar, and the 10 sticks of butter I have in the fridge. Wow...I think it is intervention time.

No seriously, hopefully this weekend I'll get to whip up some goods and freeze them to be ready for all of the holiday baking. This year, I really want to whip up some delicious kinds of cookies and give them to family to enjoy. We'll see how that works out.

Anyway, for those who have been to our home, they know that as soon as they walk in the kitchen, they will notice the large silver hook and how it is adorned with nearly a dozen aprons. They are in several different sizes, colors, and styles, and each one of them means something different to me, all are very special!

I remember both my Grandmother (dad's mom) and Mother wearing aprons while working over a stove or when baking. When I was around 5, mom began allowing me to help her in the kitchen, but she always insisted I wear an apron. I still remember it was an old maroon ladies apron, very industrial. She would put it over my shoulders, then fold the longer side in half, completely wrapping it around my small body, and even then, it nearly dragged on the floor. But I felt fancy and bold in that apron, and boy did I create all sorts of fabulous goodies in it. Over the years, I eventually grew into the apron. When I graduated from school, and moved off to my own place, Mom tried to give the apron to me, but I told her I wanted her to keep it there, so I'd have something to wear when I would come to visit. I hope it is still there!

Anyway, this post was inspired by a new blog that I happened up while visiting another blog that I frequent. Sivje over at Goosegirl Sews is giving away one of her delicious Yaya aprons. I do so hope that I win. If you want a chance to enter, go read more! Click here to check it out.

Do you have a favorite apron/baking/cooking memory?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Komen 3 Day: Spectator

The night before the big walk, I met up with Margie at Macaroni Grill for a pre-walk carb load. It had been an already long day for me, but I was so excited to see her and give her last minute positive vibes before her monster journey. When I got home that night, I sat down to finally make a personalized flag for her. Instead of cutting out irregular shaped letters, I decided to use ribbon and bonding tape to secure the letters, then I later used the sewing machine to secure them. I had also found a cool "hope" iron-on transfer to go with it. Don fashioned a flagpole and even put a small dowel through the top of it so it would stand out. Just before midnight I finished up, and I had butterflies in my belly with awesome excitement.

At 4:30AM, I got up, then rushed back to sleep. I got up again at 6:05AM and got ready for the day. After loading up the car with the signs, seats, flags, snacks, and such, we headed out to our first stop of the day. After half an hour of waiting, she showed up, among the first pack of people. She looked vibrant, alive, and happy. We hit up two more rogue cheering spots before we took a break for lunch. Following her from Plano, all the way over to Richardson.

While on our break, we ate some delicious food, and I was able to chat with my mom and aunt and listen to their stories. I do enjoy listening to their stories! We also hit up Wal-mart near 635, before realizing that we needed to hit up the final spot of the day before she made camp!
I was so afraid that we weren't going to make it, but as fate would have it, we saw her! I quickly grabbed the red velvet cupcake from Sprinkles (who has a ding b/c they wanted to charge me $1.75 for the box to put the cupcake in, but whatever, a sack was fine) and quickly rushed to her side. I gave her a big hug and handed her the cupcake. Far from looking perfect like it had been when I picked it up, but I think it hit the right spot after a long day!
I forgot my camera battery on the 2nd day and I was so upset about it. Picture it: a 3 car caravan piled with people, driving all around Addison, stopping and hollering "Raider Power...Margie Power...Raider Power!!!" We proudly waved the Tech flag, the Jolly Roger flag, and the Margie flag. It was a great time! Truly, it was very emotional seeing the flags, the signs, the inspiration behind why everyone was walking.

Then on Sunday, I didn't get to make it to the opening or to run around town to chase her, but I was there for the end. Although she'd finished by the time we'd gotten there, it was so very, very refreshing to see her. When the crowd broke and I could make out her frame, my eyes welled with tears. I was so proud of her accomplishment. I was so proud I was her family. I was so overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. I rushed to her and held her in my arms not wanting to let go of the moment.

I was so grateful that she is a survivor. A living hero, alive, a bonafide badass, certified cancer butt kicker. Seriously, she's a hero. She's a sister, a friend, a wife, a daughter, a godmother, a mother, she's my prima: Margarita Reyna De Leon Hernandez Olivarez.
Cheers Margie! 60 miles, 3 days...Margie Power indeed.

**Congrats to Kandi and Jackie of Team Tatarazzi and the Legacy Makers too for their accomplishments.**

Friday, November 6, 2009

Happy Birthday - Mikey-Mo

Another birthday come and gone, he flew into town for a whirlwind weekend that had us driving around most of North Dallas and celebrating long into the night with close friends and family. He hit up almost all of his favorite places to eat here in Dallas (you'll just have to hit up Potbelly in two weeks!), including, but not limited to: Sprinkles, Chipotle, & Fred's Philly Cheesesteak.

Saturday night, he mentioned wanting Chicken Marsala, so Don and I headed to the grocery store to get all of the ingredients. Since he'd brought in a nice bottle of tequila, I figured that a margarita would be something delicious to enjoy after our heavy pasta meal. The chicken filled everyone up and while we were all lounging around, we sipped on the margaritas. YUM! Since the tequila was out, we went ahead and toasted another year of his life, because you should never miss an opportunity to celebrate life.
Happy birthday, priMo! Hard to believe it's been 24 years already. Man where did the time go? By the way, I'll be sure to have a box of Corn Pops just for you. :D

Margarita Recipe:
25 medium Limes
3 Grapefruit
5 C simple syrup
1 1/2 C Tequila
1/2 C Patron Citronge
Ice

Squeeze the limes and grapefruit into a bowl. In another bowl make your simple syrup with hot water and sugar. In a pitcher, add the tequila, then pour in grapefruit/lime mixture, followed by the simple syrup, then the Patron Citronge (or triple sec if you want), and finally finish off with ice.

Enjoy!

Poor Guapo...

We took Guapo in for his annual vaccinations, when we remembered it's been nearly 2 years since he's had his teeth cleaned. Bad parents indeed. :(

His breath has been pretty brutal these days, so we knew a cleaning was in order. While he was going to be under, we had a really large wart removed from his cheek. Well, turns out, they had to do some extractions during the cleaning. When I picked him up from the vet, they told me that he had 9 teeth removed. YES NINE!!! How incredibly guilty did I feel? Seriously, how did I let it get so bad that he needed 9 teeth removed from his mouth. Poor guy. He's on antibiotics and pain medication for the next two weeks. In addition to that, he will have to eat soft food, so it looks like Guapo is eating chicken and rice with green beans.

He let me take a look and while he still has all of his molars, he's missing quite a few of his front teeth and one canine. He was hopped up on morphine, when they handed him to me. He was delicately wrapped in an old towel, slightly trembling, but mostly out of it. They handed me the medications and a small baggie that contained his rotten teeth. Not sure what I'm going to do with those, but still.

$433 later and he's all better. I know how much tooth pain hurts me, I can only imagine how it was for him. But after a good night's sleep, he was back to being Guapo. Seriously, I hadn't seen him that active in a while, just jumping around, searching for food, and being extra friendly. I'm so glad he's all better and he doesn't hate us.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

HDMR: World Series, Red Dawn, and Duplicity

Since it is Wednesday, it is time for the Hump Day Movie Review. We haven't watched a whole lotta movies this week. Instead, we've been watching a lot of baseball. Yes, a whole, whole lot of baseball. It is the World Series people! C'mon!

2009 World Series - Yes, I'm going to give you a quick recap of the series, for those of you refusing to watch the game or just happened to miss it and you want the Cliff's Notes version. Ok, ready...the World Series is a baseball series, the best of 7 games. Philadelphia Phillies are playing the legendary New York Yankees. This series also has some familar faces since they are alumni of the Texas Rangers. Some of those faces include: Mark Texiera, Chan Ho Park, and the famous A-Rod. (maybe he's FINALLY gonna get that ring) It's been a FANTASTIC series. The pitching at the forefront, only being overshadowed by Utley & Matsui's bombs. Of course, those were phenomenal homeruns. Sabathia & Lee (Phillies) have quickly become favorite pitchers, joining Game Over Rivera, and Pettite. I've enjoyed watching the series, especially seeing as how it showcases not only the player's talents, but the new Yankee stadium. I sincerely hope to go there someday since I was unable to make it to the old one. (breaking my heart!) Some would say that Steinbrenner bought a World Series. Well, his 423 million investment in 3 players this summer, along with A-Rod's 323 million deal, you can see how quickly a billion dollar budget adds up. For that reason alone, you have to respect the Phillies since their budget is ever so much smaller than that of the Yanks. But still, you can't help but love the pinstripes! If you didn't get to watch it, you missed a great series. In the future, your homework is to watch a future World Series. THIS is what baseball is about and this is why I love it. This is why so many others love it. The biggest game on the biggest stage, doesn't get better than that!
Red Dawn - Yes, yes, I know it is from 1984. That was the year my brother was born, so I barely remember much of it the first time I saw it. I just remember really liking the Wolverines and wanting to be a Wolverine myself and Commies were not nice. This time around, the movie's effects apeared campy, but the story was good. Plus, I couldn't help but getting a little emotionally attached to it. Ever so grateful that I not only live in Texas, but I married a man who grew up on a farm. Yes, we have weaponry in our posession. While I didn't grow up with any sort of firearm, I do know how to use it, although, I still claim to be better at yielding a bat or throwing a knife. The casualty counter in this film was outta control and just accidentally came upon it. Check that out in the special features if you see it. In any case, it was worth the Netflix rental.

Duplicity - I like Julia Roberts. I like Clive Owen. (Heck, I even met him once in Austin, where he was ridiculously drunk, barely sitting up, and the guy was still flashing those bedroom eyes. But this was before he broke it big, and I recognized him in a little movie that he made called Greenfingers, but that's totally off tangent.) Anyway, I don't like Julia with Clive. No, no. Sorry if you liked this film. I tried my very, very best to get into this film, but it just wasn't happening. After 40 mintues into the movie, I just shut it off. it just wasn't worth it to watch the rest of it. I have very little down time these days and quite frankly, I didn't want to waste it on a lame movie. Instead, I picked up my crocheting and watched an episode of Mad Men from OnDemand. Yeah...sorry.

Pomegranate=Granada

The World Series is on and while it is the first of November, the end of another baseball season and the uncharacteristically warm weather has me nostalgic. When I was younger, but not that much younger (probably in high school), we were in Austin one summer when my aunt was eating a pomegranate.

Never before had I seen a pomegranate. Then again, I wasn't much into eating fruits (unless it was a banana), because I just wasn't a fruit eater. That was back then, before I developed a palate for all sorts of flavors. In any case, she offered me some and I wasn't really sure how to eat it. She explained the mechanics to me and so I gave it a whirl, with a bit of skepticism.


After all, when it is open, you just kinda stare at it, not really sure what to do. Well, after you cut it open, you get a section, and chew on the seeds until you have all of the "meat" and juice from it. Most will spit out the seeds, but there are a handful of people who will eat them. I guess it's just more fiber for you to process.

Regardless, that first bite etched into my mind the end of sweltering hot summers. When I see pomegranates in season, I can't help but pick up a couple to chew on. The red juice staining my lips, my fingertips, and making me giggle and smile all over again. Bite, chew, slurp, swallow, bite, chew, slurp, swallow, until my cheek is filled with seeds, poking out like a fat chipmunk. Then I discreetly spit them in a paper cup, and cover it with a paper towel until I have more to spit in.

Just like the first time I had fresas con azucar (strawberries with sugar), I was hooked! If you've never tried a granada, you should. It's sweet and tart at the same time, and very, very juicy. Definitely not easy to eat, but I think it is worth it. Thank you Tia Vicki for sharing!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Prizes

Remember I had a giveaway? Well, here's a photo of the three sets of gift items. Included in the packages:
  • 1 tiny glittered pumpkin
  • a tiny frame with a photo that I've taken
  • a CD with some of my favorite tunes
  • a homemade eye mask
  • inspiration cards
And since one of the gals was so very, very patient, I threw in a small jar of homemade fig butter. YUM!

I hope to have another shortly after the new year. In the meantime, for you aspiring photogs (or just lover of taking pics to better remember the memories), I'm having a house party on behalf of Kodak Gallery to launch their new site. If you don't currently use them, they are similar to Snapfish, Shutterfly, and other online photo sharing sites. They are currently running a $15 promotion, where you can use that $15 credit on anything! I actually used mine on photo cards and prints. Since their prints are only 9 cents right now, you can very well get quite a few prints with that credit! And if you can't make it to my party, but would like to be there virtually, you should take some of your own family photos that day and send them to me or do a blog post. I will save 1 prize from the party and send it to my favorite photo submission!

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