Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lake Charles, Louisiana

So ... as part of our getting out of dodge, and off the couch and out of Tomball plan for 2012 - we hit the road last weekend and went to Lake Chales, a little under 3 hours from our house. It's mostly a casino town and about 45 minutes from Beaumont, Texas where I did some growing up. Lake Charles isn't unfamiliar to me at all, but I haven't been in a long time- since my dad moved away in 2003.

Conrad works with someone, who has become our dear friend- who has a husband in a band. We met him Ireland, and found him delightful and now we want to spend as much time with them as we can- but alas, they live 5 hours away. So a pact was made around Christmas that when the band is close, we'll be groupies and meet them when we can!

The band is MoJEAUX and they can be found here:

......... and may I please recommend them because they are fabulous! We had such a blast last weekend and it was great to get out of our 5 mile radius. I was so excited to get out of Texas, I took a picture of it. Here's the Louisiana sign off of I-10.


Laissez les bons temps rouler

All my life, I've driven down that little stretch of I-10 and seen a resturant called Steam Boat Bill's. It's always packed to the gills- and I always seem to drive by at odd times, or I'm in a hurry and I never can stop. This time, we made sure we were good and hungry when we passed by and we FINALLY got to stop and only a few months after they were featured in Southern Living which is my Holy Mecca of magazines.

If Southern Living says to grow it, eat it or paint it - I'm digging, chowing and working. I don't mess around when it comes to them. Sage advise, given monthly - I can't wait when I get my issue every month!

This place did NOT disappoint. I had the red beans and rice and they were FABULOUS. I don't know how they made that roll but it was crunchy on the outside and mushy on the inside and I just wanted to crawl inside it and fall asleep. It was outstanding. The beans were so good, even after I was done and had moved on to just chatting with Conrad and waiting for him to finish his po boy - I spied a grain of rice I had left in the bowl, exclaimed happily, grabbed up my spoon and went in and got it. I can't believe I almost left a piece of rice! I'm still thinking about that dog gone lunch.

You come here to me, you delightful bowl of legumes

Upon arrival at the hotel (which was free, thanks A and M!) .... I settled in to watch some HGTV and Conrad went to the casino to gamble.... after a few hours we met up with our friends- had some dinner ... and then went back to the hotel to get ready for the show.

It didn't disappoint either. They did a really good job and Conrad knows a lot about music. He knew much more of the technical stuff than I did - him and his dad being muscians and all - but I just enjoyed it. Here is our friend up on stage.

Rock it, Mike!

and dancing commenced, hilarity ensued:

... the Dallas Cowboy fan (that would be me) got a shout out from on stage ...  and we really had a good time watching the people dance. There was one crazy guy who was trying to dance "with" the singer, but from the dance floor. I think she was into it at first - pointing at him and kind of dancing along ... but then he sort of got out of control and started "humping" and gyrating at her and so she stopped and tried to ignore him .. and he spent the rest of the evening looking for people to gyrate with him. Always with a beer clutched in hand!

Enjoy this! Sorry you missed it -- and sorry for the poor sound quality. I took the movie from my phone.

Hire MoJEAUX for your next event!

.... and in the next weeks we will begin our search for food and fun in Houston.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Homesick Texan

This is my adopted city, Houston:

I'm ashamed to say I haven't been giving it a chance. November was 5 years since I've moved and I don't regret it. I left Dallas, to come here and pursue some job opps and to marry Conrad. I have a great job (5 years next month) and Conrad and I have been married almost 4 years. I do miss my friends in Dallas, but I've made some great ones here in Houston. Some people I can't imagine my life without. It's so weird that 5 years ago, I didn't even know they existed!

So - it's been good to me in a LOT of respects. But I have not been ready to let go of Dallas, and even now, I'm not sure I need to. I think I just need to embrace Houston. When I talked to my counselor before Christmas and told him that I think I drive too far for work, I don't have time to workout, I don't like Houston, it's an ugly city, etc ... it really came out how much this move affected me. Not all for the bad, not all for the good. I told him I had more energy in Dallas, I had gained weight since coming here, etc etc - the complaints were a list a mile long. It's true that the city is HUGE- like 100 miles from the Northern most part to Galveston - and it's true the traffic is maybe just a shade less awful that LA or New York. I lived 7 miles from work in Dallas- so my daily life has changed a ton. But my problems are not ALL Houston's fault.

I found this awesome blog, written by a Houston ex-pat, now in New York City. You totally should check it out.

It's a cooking blog mostly and I am SO getting her cookbook on Friday! She also seems to wax poetic about Houston -- and Texas in general and it really has sort of made me proud to live here. She clearly loves her life in NYC and clearly yearns for home too. Well, isn't that just the way for everyone? I could go back "home" to Dallas, Beaumont or South Carolina tomorrow ... and feel just as comfortable as I do in Tomball these days.

So anyway - I have been reading her blog and she's given some OUTSTANDING tips on what to do, where to go, where to eat in Houston. She gets TONS of comments from people who live here or have lived here and their information rocks too --- and I realized that I get to work as fast as I can. I don't venture far for lunch. When work is over, I hightail it out of here - and I get back to Tomball on the weekends and there I stay. I don't venture out. I don't experience new things. I have no idea really what this city has to offer. One of her commentors said something about going to college here and on the way INTO town, heading down I- 10, she passed all the refineries with a sinking heart. YEAH, me TOO! I used to think Houston was so ugly - so industrial -but, take a gander at the photo again. It's really NOT. I just haven't given it a chance.

I didn't want to make NY resolutions. I never keep them. BUT I think this year I want to strive to come out of my shell a little bit, out of my 5 mile radius on the weekends and get out and experience things. Her blog also said Houston is a "City of Cities" so true. There's no reason on the earth we shouldn't be able to get out here and again and head down the road apiece to one of those cute little cities for a day trip.

As I do, I'll blog about it here.

Here's to ... falling in love with Houston? Letting go of Dallas a little?
Happy New Year


Monday, January 9, 2012



Pintrest is a social CATALOGING site  - like Facebook is a social MEDIA site.

I'm sure most people in the blogging world know what it is, but I LOVE it. I knew about it last year, but I just hadn't had the time to jump on the bandwagon. Now that I'm on, I REALLY don't have time. Although it sure does make my life easier when it comes to seeing a great recipe or a project online and not being able to remember where you saw it. Not a problem now. I just PIN it and forget it!

I think this year I want to try to make at least one FOOD item from it and do one PROJECT from it a month - I think that will be so much fun! I spent hours on there every week. When I get home, the computer comes out and I start pinning away. SAD. I'm hoping I get over the addition soon. Conrad may be wondering if we're still married. I can just make him something delicious from Pintrest and hope that he forgets about it for a bit ... like the pink lemonade cake, or the empandas I pinned yesterday. YES!

At least once this week I vow to NOT go home and open the computer. I need to allow myself a Pintrest break, once a week. I just don't want it to be tonight. Tonight is the National Championship and if it's anything like the high school football game it was earlier in the year when these two teams met, I will need to find something to amuse myself!



Sunday, January 8, 2012

Rachael Ray: Love

I think I'm almost done with my Rachael Ray utensil collection! I MAY still get the spatulas, but only if I find them on sale, or have a coupon.

For Christmas I got the lazy spoon set from my Mom and Brian.

I used them last night - since it's the NFL playoffs, I thought I would do football food - so I made chili and turned it into Frito Pie last night. I used the lazy ladel and it was GREAT. Best ladel I've ever had. SO happy to finally have this set!

Then after Christmas, I bought myself the set I might have asked for (can't remember) and didn't get. It's usually $30 but I found it for $19.99 and free shipping on Amazon. So I went ahead and bought myself the Rachael Ray bamboo set. It's SO pretty when you see her cooking with them on TV. I love the three different colored woods - I think they're beautiful. I just had to see for myself!

They came in on Friday afternoon - and they did not disappoint! They are beautiful. I used the spatula looking one to cook the chili last night. It's GREAT. Best wooden utensils I've ever had. I'm so happy I decided to get myself a set and so happy I saved $10. That just makes them that much more lovely to me.

So, I MAY one day buy these:

I'm just not sure yet - cause the wooden one is a great spatula too. I'll let you know! For now, I am happy .... cause I also got the spoonulas for Christmas and they do a nice job too, although I don't think I could flip a pancake with them.

I only cook pancakes once a year - so no biggie there!

LOVE Rachael Ray cookware!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Oh, Oh, Oh - I'm on Fire (Johnny Cash?)

I headed out Tuesday night to get a pizza. The Sugar Bowl was on, it was the first day back to work and cooking made me feel like crying. Our favorite pizza place had been closed for days - and so I decided to run out and grab a pie.

As I got to the intersection where I turn, I notice the car next to me APPEARED to be on fire. The backseat was full of smoke and while I was contemplating, the driver lept out- and ran over to the other side of the street and ducked back down behind the brick wall by CVS. I didn't blame him - I was thinking at any minute that car was going to blow! I inched up closer to the light and away from the car and finally was able to pull forward and go.

I went down a 1/4 mile - was in Vito's like a minute and a half and went back the 1/4 miles to the intersection, where I was greeted with this:

You can see the empty space to theright of the car ... that was where I was at just a mere 3 minutes before ... That dog gone thing had erupted in flames! By the time I got back around to it- the doors were open, things were melting and dripping out of the car and I could hear little explosions like fireworks- which I think MAY have been the gastank. I could NOT get through that light and away from it fast enough.

AMAZING how fast a car can burn. We drove back by it last night when we went to dinner with a friend and there were black scorch marks on the pavement.

GEE, makes me think twice about parking lot cars in garages!


Monday, January 2, 2012

Lasagna Tip

I've had a nice holiday weekend to catch up on all my shows, including Good Eats with Alton Brown. Sometimes he irritates me with all the science and stuff he talks about, but when he gives a good tip, I usually follow it.

I got a Rachael Ray lasagna pan for Christmas- THANKS CONRAD- and wanted to use it, so this weekend I watched the Good Eats show called "Use Your Noodle" - all about lasagna. I had to watch it in a hurry too, cause this is Bowl Game week/weekend and it's hard for me to watch what I want in between ALL of these games. UGH! :)

Alton says it is not necessary to boil your noodles. You can get them wet by soaking them in hot water - he used tap- and letting them sit until flexible. I actually boiled a small pot of water tonight and poured it over my noodles - and let them sit. I was REALLY worried about it - but it was TONS easier to build my lasagna without using slippery noddles falling apart every time I touch them AND when you boil them, they are screaming hot and hard to handle. So I tried it Alton's way today. It was MUCH easier to build the lasagna, as I said, but I also covered it with foil to hopefully build up some steam and soften those bad boys while cooking. About 10 minutes before it was ready, I took the foil off and let the cheese get bubbly.

All in all, I would say success. The lasagna came out GREAT - it was a little hard on the end pieces - so maybe soaking a little longer? But in the grand scheme of things, a tasty lasagna - no burned fingers - and a much more enjoyable building process!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Ah, we did it - another year gone!

I, for one, am happy to see 2011 go. Thrilled is more like it.
I don't think the entire year was horrible - we did have a great trip to Ireland. Christmas was nice. We both had nice birthdays- and we are closer to building the house. We accomplished a LOT - like, I owe NOTHING but my car. All credit cards GONE.

There were just some things that happened - I barely want to think about them. I'm not being dramatic at all - some things I will just never understand. Some things can't be fixed.

I have spent the weekend cleaning, organizing, putting things away ---- I've used my new labelmaker and all my new Rubbermaid tubs! Conrad cleaned out the garage and put things away. Our trashcan overfloweth. Christmas gifts are up, Goodwill run has been made - things are looking pretty shiny around here.

I've got some goals moving forward - not gonna call them "resolutions".

Here is a great big BUH-BYE to 2011. Don't let the door hit ya!
... and great big HI THERE to 2012.

"May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Phil 4:7