Saturday, July 31, 2010

Morton Salt

Hello fabulous readers! I'm trying something different. I had whopping success*  from my Savvy Widget (bottom right widget, what you didn't know it was there?), that I reached out to see if I could get a couple of more advertisers on my little blog. Well, I have been accepted to host a Morton Salt widget. Yeah, you all know the salt, the dark blue with the gal holding the umbrella. Well did you know they had all sorts of other types of salt? You didn't? Well, click the coupon widget or this Season-All link and print off the coupon for $.55 off any season salt. It will ask you to enter a valid email address and confirm using the captcha (duh, not like random people can go out and click print at will just because).

Anyway, if do you get the coupon and you make something with your seasoned salt I'd love it if you blogged about it and posted your recipe/experience, etc...AAAAND, if I have more than 3 people participate, I just might have a giveaway, ok, ok, you twisted my arm, I will have a giveaway! This promotion will run from August 1-31, so go out, have some fun, enjoy the salt!

In what ways do you use seasoned salt? Do you have a favorite brand? What does Morton Salt mean to you?

*a whole $1.83 for 90 days with Savvy Source! YES!..and that isn't sarcasm, that genuine excitement and gratitude for those of you who come to my blog. I hope to break that record, but it's gonna be tough since I only have 17 followers and some of you 17 have 2 accounts that are following me (thanks friends!) C'mon, we can do it!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sewing

Many of you know that I like to be crafty. Creating and assembling are another passion of mine. In doing so, it helps me stop, focus, and it clears my mind. I get to focus on the tactile details, while my mind simultaneously taps into the creative. Last weekend I made a fancy apron for a friend. This weekend, I hope to finish up a shirt 
from some purple jersey knit fabric I picked up this past weekend. I'm making the short sleeve, although now that I think about it, I probably could've made the 3/4 sleeve since it'll soon be Autumn.

Anyway, with that said, I'm going to be participating in my very first a frock by friday put on Kathleen Frances over at Grosgrain. I simply adore her style and taste and I looove many of the dresses she designs over at Shabby Apple (speaking of, they are having a sale. Take 20% off most items. Enter Summer20 at checkout. --Excludes Manhattan, Skyscraper, Bridesmaid, Accessories & can't be combined with other offers.)

Whoa, talk about a serious side track. Yes, I'm going to make the Anda dress from Burdastyle. It's also my first Burda pattern. I've never printed anything at home, so I don't know if I should attempt to do it myself or opt for the copy store printing. What do y'all think?

I'm looking forward to it and especially the finished product. I can see myself wearing this on the weekends when a simple t-shirt isn't going to cut it. Anyway, wish me luck! If you want to participate too, be sure to get your own pattern here, then follow Kathleen Frances' steps each day.

Monday, July 26, 2010

While she was out...

The Sugarbean is out on vacation, living it up with her cousins and grandparents. I imagine she may be tucked in her carseat chatting away with her cousins, or maybe watching a movie on her iTouch. Here's a recent picture of her watching a movie on our DVD player during our trip down to Austin. She's such a great little traveler (knock on wood).



Their first evening, they went to Chuck E. Cheese. This was a pretty big deal because Mari has never been to CEC and she thoroughly enjoys pizza.She really likes to ride any ride that may or may not be age appropriate. Anyway, she'd earned enough tickets to buy some fabulous star glasses.

Wonder where she gets it from?



They trekked across Texas, down to El Paso to make a visit to the bisabuelos (great-grandparents). From what they told me, Mari enjoyed playing outside barefoot in the rain. To hear that is to know two things: 1. Growing up, you weren't allowed to play in the rain outside of my grandparents house, for fear of slipping and falling and hitting your head. 2. You weren't allowed to be barefoot ever, lest you catch a cold and die from a fever. Even if it was 110 degrees outside in the desert! But I could picture her dancing in the rain, I encourage her to do as often as possible, trying to enjoy it with her when I can. I LOOVE dancing in the rain. Anyway, it was a great trip and I'm so glad she was able to spend some time with them. We're looking forward to a potential Quinceanera next April! While there, Grandma shared a photo with Daddy of my bisabuela Maria and bisabuelo Felipe on their wedding day. She remarked how my nephew bears a striking resemblance to my bisabuelo. I see what she means.

While she was away, Don and I have been doing our best to keep ourselves busy. First up, we decided to go on a date. We drove around for a bit and the both of us just finally threw our arms in the air, headed to Market Street to pick up some steaks and opted to cook for ourselves. It was a heck of a lot cheaper to do that and more comfortable. We lounged in our jammies and ate like royalty! Seriously, we busted out the TV trays, and munched away, sipped on a prosecco and watched some episodes of True Blood Season 1 (thanks Dina for the recommendation!).

We slept in until 11:15!!! Do you know how long it's been since that's happened? Really?!? We awoke ready to tackle the day! First on the agenda, brunch!

Then I went for a haircut. Before and after pic. What a hot mess, right? (BTW, that's my favorite shirt! Thanks Brother!!! It says kiss me I'm Mexican and the lime wedge bears similarity to a 4-leaf clover.) She thinned out my hair enough to fill about 1.5 buckets full of hair!! My neck feels easy breezy!

After that, I went home to flex the ol' creative muscles. I made a vintage inspired apron out of a fancy-schmancy fire engine red satin. I was supposed to have a gather, but after two failed attempts, I opted for a freestyle pleat instead. I think it added to the fanciness anyway. I didn't get a pic of the finished product. However, I did topstitch all around to give it extra flair (thanks Jacki for teaching me!).

That evening, we treated ourselves to some Mooyah and finished off the night amongst friends, both old and new, celebrating the soon-to-be nuptials of a very special couple.

The next day, we headed out to Arlington to watch the Rangers play the Angels. Prior to that we had Taco Diner and indulged in some amazing Mojito-goodness! yum yum! The Rangers beat the Angels and we got there early enough to get free bags too!

An incredible weekend! So far the time is flying by so quickly, but I really do miss our Sugarbean. Momma & Daddy love you!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bikila & CardioTrainer

I ordered the new Vibram Bikila shoes last week and I wore them for the first time while walking around a tiny bit in Austin. Today, I slipped them on for my first running workout. I also used the CardioTrainer app to track some of my progress. 
Sidenote: I know many people who use this application and they like it. Since I now have a Droid phone, I opted to utilize CardioTrainer. It's a free app and it isn't perfect, but I do like that it "talks" to me to give me my pace. 8:03 min/mile was my fastest time, 24:10 min/mile was my slowest time. It couldn't accurately record my sprinting speed, I guess I'm that fast, not sure. It just kinda blanked out, recorded the distance and called it good. LOL. It is a nifty little thing and I like that it integrates with my music (which at the current time I have loaded onto my phone). Those of you with a Droid phone or iPhone, need to go out and install it ASAP because it is good stuff! 



Anyway, the run/review, I'm super-fly, super fast. No, really. It was nearly 100 degrees outside, and it felt REALLY hot on that black track. The air was super thick and I only felt a slight breeze on one side of the track. But, I knocked out that first mile in just under 9 minutes. I haven't done that in a LOOOOONG time. The second mile took longer because I was doing sprint intervals with a walk rest or lunges in between. Either way, the Bikilas hold up much better on my feet than the original Vibram Five Finger Classic. Similar to the KSOs, but they have added grip to the bottom. I'l take a closer look on my next run so you can see what I mean. I have only slight tenderness on my right big toe, but that was completely from my sprint race with a soccer player who was running a 100 for time. He did pretty good, clocking in at just over 11 seconds. I know I was somewhere between 13 and 14. Not too shabby, I think, but of course, the 100 race was NEVER a race for me. Any sprinters would laugh at me and I chased their dust. ha ha ha! Nevertheless, I felt fast! 

I can't wait to go out and do some more.  

(I did not receive compensation from CardioTrainer or Vibram to write this review, but for those of you lurkers interested in letting me be an affiliate or advertise for you, I'm totally open to it!)

Monday, July 19, 2010

At Sonic Somewhere between Belton and Temple

He's on the other side of the country traveling with his partner, exploring all sorts of beautiful shades of green. I'm traveling with my beloved, the sugarbean, and Guapo. The two small ones in the back quietly slumbering as a gentle downpour cascaded down while a bright sun in the distance set. I'm caught somewhere between sleep and awake, attempting to fight the sleep by revisiting memories from my childhood summers and recanting them to my beloved. I don't know if he's genuinely interested in hearing my story or if he's humoring me. Either way, I don't care. My my tummy starts to grumble and he throws out, "Sonic?" To which I responded, "Sure, but aren't we near Waco?" He shrugged it off. The look on his face told me plenty. He was hungry and the sunflower seeds and pistachios weren't cutting it.

We whipped off the road and did funky u-turn under the highway to get to the Pay-less gas station. I hopped out of the car to head to Sonic. Before I took off, I grabbed my phone. I was grateful that the rain had stopped. There was a bit of mud to jump over and some puddles to dodge before I got there. I flipped open my phone and saw a missed call. I immediately called back and got his voicemail. I left a long winded message about nothing really. I missed him. And these adventures he goes on, well, I eagerly await phone calls and voicemails because he certainly has amazing tales to tell. I placed the Sonic order and rested comfily on their picnic table while I dialed my voicemail. Sure enough, his message didn't disappoint. He's in a place where the top place of interest listed is the local hospital! The motel sounded like a place out of a cheap horror movie, but the food, oh the food sounded glorious. I was having a full on belly laugh, while I stared out into the distance. I hit 9 to save the message, and stared off in the direction of the gas station, about 20 yards away. The sky, a gray blue hue to the right, and a brilliant orange purple to the left filled with light gray puffy clouds ready to explode. In that moment I knew I was blessed. In that moment, I paused and gave thanks.

I can't wait to hear more adventures and make some of my own.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Defining Style

I read a lot of blogs and happen upon awesome pics all the time. While browsing Quality Peoples, I stumbled upon this photo. This sums up my style, or the style I would like to have. I love it!

Married!

After months and months of planning and talks and discussions, my BFF was married! It was a whirlwind of a day that literally lasted all day. I was up shortly before 9AM and went to sleep around 4:30AM. I was running off of 1/2 a cup of coffee, a coke, and a whole lot of anxious-love energy. Thanks to my amazing husband for being right there with me working just as long and hard as I. With all that said, it was a beautiful wedding, Ada made a gorgeous bride, and I was absolutely and completely honored to be her matron of honor.

Here is a shot of my make-up and my hair in progress. The make-up was a bit more than I was used to, but after I blotted the eyebrows (yes, I said eyebrows), I felt a little more like myself. My hair was not how I had originally requested, but it certainly fit the criteria of off my neck with a part in the front. I later added a brooch in my hair and I hope the photographer or someone got a photo of it.
What special event is complete without a bucket 'o rollers!


The make-up palette. 

I had to include this photo for multiple reasons. One, Don took this photo and I needed to show off his skills. Two, this is Toch, Ada's younger sister. First time I met her was 13 years ago. She was still a girl and to see her so grown-up like this...it brought tears to my eyes. I've always seen her as Ada's little sister, and by default, my little sis. When I turned the corner and saw her all done up, well, she was just absolutely breathtaking.

Anyway, after we were all done up, we battled the rain and headed on over to the venue. We get there and Don got to work and took the following photo. He was assisting the caterer, Food Drunk Food which is my cousin's company from previous posts where I've mentioned meals. My other BFF, Michael's sister-in-law and her business partner were the florists for the wedding. By the way, I took all of the photos on her guestbook table. I was very proud of myself with the way they turned out!
Mari walked down the aisle without any issue. This is embarrassing, but I had tucked my cellphone in the cleavage space on the front of my gown. Incidentally, there was enough room in there for me to keep a lollipop to award Mari with her effort for walking down the aisle without any issue. Anyway, I was glad I did, because I caught the following shots:

This is Nick putting the ring on Ada's finger. That extra bit of light was two of the three photographer's flash going off.
This is them listening to the reading. Ok, despite the rain, this venue had tons of windows which allowed the natural light to spill in there and flood the room with extra yummy light. Do you understand how difficult this was for me to not have the silver bullet and snap away photos?
This is the sand ceremony. It was quite lovely and I think this shot wasn't too shabby. Of course, I was supposed to back away when the walked up, but I paused to snap the pic and lingered a little longer than I should have.
This is their first dance, At Last sung by Beyonce.
And here's another. You can see a blur of one of the photographers in the background.
Unfortunately, my battery on my cell phone died near the end of this reception, so I was unable to capture any images from the Nigerian reception. After cleaning up this venue, we headed on over to Garland and arrived around 12:30AM. We made it just in time for them to be formally introduced along with the rest of the head table. This was a very colorful and beautiful reception. Most wore traditional Nigerian clothes, and the women donned amazing hat dresses! I sat with Don admiring all of the styles and pointing out my favorites, finally settling on one that I would love to have. Don said it looked to him to be a good cross between the Western world and Nigerian culture. I told him I liked it because the pleating and full skirt.

One thing I did take from this celebration that I plan on using during Mari's Quince is the toast. They played a gloriously fun song where everyone stood up and created a type of conga line where they danced to the front and toasted not only the bride and groom, but the parents as well. It was so great! We lingered on for a few more hours, indulging in all kinds of traditional Nigerian food, all the while I was giving thanks to God for putting Don in my life so I could finally eat different types of food without fear. I had tried a couple of times to eat Nigerian food when Ada cooked it and it was always with great difficulty. This time, a piece of cake! Speaking of, I only had a small bite of cake from the first reception and it was ok. The bite I indulged in at the 2nd reception totally hit the sweet spot!

As I drove home, I reflected on the day and immediately gave thanks for everyone that helped. I think Ada loved her wedding and I know her Mom was very proud and appreciative of all that we did. Actually, as I was giving my farewell to her mother, the look in her eyes was so sincere, so genuine, so very penetrating that all of the emotion I'd held back all day was instantly released in an overwhelming surge. I leaned in and hugged her tightly. She held me like my own mother holds me, like I hold Mari. One day, I hope that I too will share in her gratitude as a mother towards her daughter's friends. Congratulations Ada & Nick! I love you both and I hope you enjoy Mexico!

---and a very special thanks to all of you who helped out and lent a hand. You know who you are and you know you worked really hard. I hope you know your efforts were completely appreciated! Y'all are the best people on this planet!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Polished: A Review on the Salon and Axxium Nails

In preparation of the big wedding, I went on Monday to Polished to get a french manicure with Axxium gel. I knew I was going to be paying a premium for this service, but I wanted something that would last at least 4 days and a regular french polished manicure has never lasted that long for me. The only thing that has lasted are those fake acrylic nails, and frankly, I didn't want to have to deal with all of that. Based on Charmed Valerie's recommendation for them last year, I decided this was the occasion to spring for them.

My MIL accompanied me to the salon. It was raining outside and when we walked it, the gal greeting us and checking us in was very friendly and inviting. We didn't smell the familiar nail salon smell. The walls were covered with pink and it was a large open room with many spa pedicure chairs along the curved wall. There were large televisions around. We checked in and paid up front to not mess up our nails. We were prompted to go ahead and include gratuity, but I was hesitant because I was unsure how well my "estitista" would perform. I hastily wrote down a number, telling myself that I would tip more if I felt it warranted more.

This is the result of that visit:

For $61 plus tip, I received a Sparkling Mani ($25), Axxium Nails ($30), with a french finish ($6). The manicure was completely unappealing. My nails were soaked in tepid water for a few minutes and the gal cut away my cuticles. She filed them a little more than I wanted, but the shape was nice. Then she immediately began to apply the axxium gels. It is a combination of a white with a pink. She applied 3 coats, and in between each coat I had to set my hands under the lamp to allow them to "set." Meanwhile, my MIL received her manicure and had to wait for my estitista to finish up with me since she was the only one who could apply the axxium gel. I was wet from the rain and the a/c inside was on full blast so I was a bit cold. We were sent to a private room in the back solely devoted to manicures. The television was off, and they turned it on after I requested they do so. The technicians spoke English, but it was still very broken. They were friendly, but I felt bad because it wasn't like we were able to have a conversation. At my regular nail spa Nails! Nails!, they do speak EXTREMELY broken English, but they do their very best to talk to me and get to know me. I've been going to them now for 6 years, so they have gotten to know me quite well. That was just an aside. Anyway, the television and talking with my MIL filled the silence. They worked away and on my 2nd coat, I noticed a nic in my middle finger. She just smoothed it out and dismissed it. She added the 3rd layer and a top coat and that was it. I had about a 2 second massage. Ok, ok, it was more like 2 minutes, but still. Not a very long one at all. My MIL had a significantly longer massage with her mani and honestly I was a bit jealous. Her estitista was a man with strong hands and he definitely seemed to work out some of those knots that linger in the forearms. It was still raining when we walked out of there.

By Thursday, I'd already lost 3 nails! Lost meaning the gel peeled off from the tip down to the center of the nail. Sure enough, the first one was the middle finger that had the small nic on it. By Friday, wedding day, I'd lost another two. The next morning when I got up, I'd lost all but one nail. I was told it would last as much as three weeks. I figured for me, it may be just under 2 weeks because I'm a skeptic when it comes to all things manicure related. But not even a week!!! Over $60 spent for nothing! Grrrr...I was extremely mad. Now I must say, when I called to complain, the lady working the desk told me to come back in and they would gladly fix it or redo, but I just needed to come in. They were very friendly about it and I hope to go in and take them up on that offer. Customer service is top notch for Polished, but I am definitely not going to pay extra for the axxium nails. Lucky for me, my BFF has a steady hand and she did a regular french polish on my hands the night before. I should've just had her do it all along.

And as far as my other salon, Nails! Nails!, they were amazing. We went in to get a Baby's Butt pedicure and right at an hour later, I had my french pedi with a touch of sparkle. Since Mari was with me, they even clipped her nails and painted them a baby pink color with some sparkles. She was in heaven! I don't even think they charged me for her. LOVE THEM!!! I spent less than what I spent on the mani for longer & luxurious service and the amount I spent included the tip!Yes, they are busy on the weekends, but call to make an appointment or go during the week. Ask for Kevin, Tammy, Queen, or Mike, they are all extremely talented and very detailed. Plus, my polish hasn't chipped or faded. I have no idea why I didn't use them for my mani. Kicking myself for that one.

And to complete this post, here's a bit of Mari cuteness for you. Don was gifted a brand new grill for his birthday and here is Mari playing in one of the boxes it came in. I hide. I hide. tee hee hee hee WHERE'S MARI? Ta-da!

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