Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pier 1 Owl

Last weekend we went to dinner with our friend Debbie who lives near a Pier 1. I had a few Christmas ideas I needed to check out, so we went in.

Well - they have gone owl crazy like everyone else! I love them! I don't really want to start collecting owls. I just think they're cute. I want some placed here and there in the house but not everywhere. I'd like some owl jewelry ... maybe a pillow or two.

Well this was my sad sink (and it IS sad, I have been asking Conrad to PLEASE replace it!!!!) before Pier 1.

I picked up this guy at Pier 1 for $12.50 and it was worth it, cause he makes me smile.

Now my sink doesn't look AS sad ... but it still needs to be replaced! Too bad Conrad doesn't read my blog.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sour Cream Noodle Bake- Pinterest

Another great one from Pinterest! Specifically the blog

1 Bag of Egg Noodles - 8 oz., cooked, drained and cooled

In a pan:
Brown 1 lb of ground meat (I used beef), with about a 1/2 onion diced
Drain the fat, back in the pan: add salt and pepper to taste, about 1/2 tsp of garlic powder and 1 8 oz can of tomoto sauce. Let this simmer for 5 minutes.

While this is simmering, put your drained noodles in a large bowl. Add 1 cup of sour cream and 1 cup of cottage cheese. (you really can NOT taste the cottage cheese, but if you're too ooged out, you can use ricotta here or even cream cheese, softened). Stir the noodles, cheese and sour cream together.

Spray a 9x9 pan with Pam
Add noodle mixture to the bottom
Add the meat/tomato mixture on top of this
Add 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and 1 cup of shredded mozzerella cheese to the very top

Bake, uncovered for 20-25 minutes at 350

It was SO good- I can't even wait for tonight because the leftovers will be even better. It was easy and it was a cross between spaghetti and a lasagna. We both thought it was fabulous.
We can get tired of the same ol', same ol.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Broccoli Cheese Balls- from Pinterest

I am a super big fan of broccoli cheese casserole or broccoli cheese rice. Love both of them! Sometimes though you just don't have time ... or you just need a change. I found a recipe on Pinterest I found interesting. The recipe called really for FRESH broccoli, cooked and chopped into miniscule pieces. Well, I had a bag of frozen (12 oz.) that was already hacked to pieces. I went with that!

Bag of chopped broccoli or a fresh head, boiled or steamed and cut
2 cups of cheddar cheese (I grated my own, melts SO much better)
1 cup of bread crumbs (I didn't have any, so I made my own)
2 eggs
Oven on 375 and a greased baking sheet

So yeah, SUPER easy. Throw all ingredients in a bowl and mix together.
Make little balls about the size of golfballs. You'll end up with something like this:

Bake for 10 minutes, then flip them. At this point they won't look like balls really anymore. They will sort of have browned up and spread out. They aren't the prettiest things in the world, but they are GOOD. Here was the finished product after I had started serving. Excuse the ugly pic! I suggest greasing your sheet big time, or not using foil - they were sort of sticking to everything. NOT pretty, but still good!

This is really good and very different. It was easy, it took absolutely no time at all and we enjoyed something different. Sometimes your side dishes can get boring too.

If you wanted them crunchy, then perhaps after you roll into a ball, you can dip them into Panko breadcrumbs. I will be trying that next time!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th

Instead of showing you a picture of fireworks ... I'm going to show a picture of my new 4th of July shoes ... and I guess Memorial Day and Labor Day shoes.... and shoes for a cruise. I've told you before, I inherited my mom's sickness for shoes. I can't have too many. I can't stop buying them. Now we're into holiday shoes ...

I know. They are adorable. I wore them yesterday to work with my jean capris. They brought in Goode & Co. for a hamburger/cookout luncheon. I totally looked festive.

Happy 4th, y'all!


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Worth Waiting For

So ... you know I love Pinterest, right?

I created a board called "Stuff I Want for Me" ... and I just keep ideas of things I see there. Like ... kitchen gadgets I want, shoes I like, a necklace, etc ... I mean, what if someone asks me what I want for my birthday? I need a place to refer back to.

Well I had a pair of shoes on there that I really liked - black flats with spikes all over them. They are by Sam Edelman and are $150. OUCH -but they are so unique and spikes on shoes seem to be all the rage. OH, I LOVE SHOES.

I don't know when I would EVER spend $150 for these shoes, but ... we can dream right? Well this weekend I stumbled upon a VERY similar pair at Kohl's.

I was there to shop for my dad's birthday and saw the clearance sign. I wandered over, and there they were. They were a vast improvement on price, at $69-- but still too steep, but OH - they were on sale for $20! ... and WHO HAD A COUPON? ME. So I walked away with VERY similar shoes for $10. I mean WHAT?

Sometimes it is TOTALLY worth waiting. I needed a new pair of black flats anyway... and I can't even REALLY tell the difference. Love them! 

LOVE LOVE LOVE - and like my grandparents before me, I LOVE a good deal!


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Garage Sale

Bless my soul! Today's garage saling was good times! I haven't been in probably a year ... maybe a little less. It's so hot ... I don't want to get up that early and lately, I've been going to a Zumba class on Saturday morning.

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that Blanca has not been herself and we have been having a TIME with her. It has been frustrating, expensive, upsetting, etc ... I lost my will to Pinterest, cook, blog, garage sale ... basically I went to work, came home, cried and then went to bed. Finally though .... I have gotten myself together and Blanca seems better. So this morning I got up and headed out.

I spent EXACTLY $19.25 today ...

Today's finds:

Guess Purse for a $1 - worth about $50
Clutch Purse for a $1 - worth about $10
Bunch of baskets for $5 - worth about $50 or more
 --- these baskets came from Pennsylvania and were 50-60 years old. The lady selling them said they were from her mother in law's fruit cellar. They are very old, very nice ... and priceless to me and her. She said she has kept a bunch of them and the mother in law is long gone- but she just treasured them and had no more room for them.
Cookie jar for $3
Giant vase that sits on the floor for $5
Toile print plate - $1
Battery powered erector set for nephews - $1 worth about $50
3 Clay pots for $1.50
Bird shaped pot for $.50
2 foot high dressmakers form for doll clothes for $.25

I think the finds of the day were the dressmakers form and the erectors set. Then again, the purses were cool too. I don't know, it was a nice haul and I got way more in merchandise than I paid for. It was a REALLY good day. Only took 2 hours and I was back home with all my treasures!

I sure have missed garage saling!


Friday, June 8, 2012

Picadillo Empanadas

Sorry for the absence ... just have not been feeling the blogging! I am addicted to Pinterest, which frankly would not exist without blogging!

So, last weekend I made picadillo empandas. ANYTHING wrapped in pie crust is delicious and I love them. I made these in the oven, not fried, so they were pretty healthy. You can sub my ground beef with anything - chorizo, ground turkey, chicken, etc  ... I am just a huge ground beef fan.

If you're not familiar with Mexican food, you may not know what picadillo is. It's actually just like taco filling but with little diced potatoes in it. I LOVE IT. All the best restaurants in Austin use it. I've even had it on nachos before. 

So, I made these for the first time and they are NOT pretty --- I used a box of that rolled out pre-made pie crust ... and I used my biscuit cutter. I used the smaller cutter and I should have used the larger one. So these were busting out of their little pies, but it didn't hurt the flavor. Just doesn't look beautiful!


Brown 1 lb of ground beef (or use the subs I mentioned) with 1 diced onion. Once that is browned and onions are translucent add 1 garlic clove, minced and 1 or 2 jalpenos, minced. Give this a few minutes and then add 1/2 cup of water, 1 can of diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted), 1 tbsp of chili seasoning, 1 tbsp of cumin, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper AND ... 1 russet potato, peeled and diced into small squares. Put the top on this and simmer 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.

Roll out your pie crust on some flour and use a glass or biscuit cutter to cut out your rounds.

When your picadillo is ready - fill the little round about 1/3 full and add a pinch of shredded cheese. I used monterey jack. Use some water around half the circle and close the little pie. Use a fork to crimp the edges.

Bake these for about ... 15 or 20 minutes. Oh, I also gave these a light egg wash before I baked. DELICIOUS.

This picadillo recipe was enough for all these empanadas, tacos the next night, 4 more larger empandas for 2 days of lunches AND I froze enough filling for probably 4 more emapandas. CRAZY. Talk about a money stretcher!

Dinner was great. Little sides of sour cream, salsa and cheese .. with some chips. It was the perfect dinner and Conrad liked it too!

We'll be making again. Also, they were GREAT heated up in the microwave for lunch the following week.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Horseradish Potatoes

I spent last weekend in Arkansas with my friends and had a GREAT time ... one of the places I wanted to eat is called Mr. B's in Rogers, AR. That place is awesome --- and we were so lucky to go on the day they made horseradish twice baked potatoes. HOLY CRAP.

Well, tonight I had a hankering for them again. I didn't have white cheddar like Mr. B's, so I used monterey jack.

First wash your potatoes and then rub down with olive oil. Bake for an hour. Then I let them cool about 45 minutes and cut them in half and scooped out the innards into a bowl. I put the skins on a baking sheet.

Into THAT bowl I added salt, pepper, horseradish, monterey jack and lots o' sour cream. I mashed it all up until it looked like mashed potatoes. Then piled the mixture back into the skins. I put a small pat of butter on each one - and baked for about 20 minutes at 350.

BROTHER! That was good stuff!

I also attempted Hawaiian Chicken (I MISS YOU STEAK & ALE!!!) ... in the crockpot. Also a winner!

I use my crockpot EVERY weekend for easy dinners and these crockpot liners are LIFESAVERS! I won't cook chicken any other way.

Run into your kitchen and make these potatoes!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

7UP Biscuits- Found on PINTEREST

Go into your kitchen and make these NOW.

2 cups Bisquick (they do make a Gluten Free version)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup 7UP
1/4 cup or 4 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 450.

Put Bisquick into a bowl and add the sour cream. Cut it in, using a fork - until the flour gets all lumpy. Add in 7UP and stir to combine. Dough will be really soft. You want to dump this out on the counter, on top of a little dusting of Bisquick to keep it from sticking. I just rolled it out and used my biscuit cutters to make my biscuits.

In your pan - melt the butter and let it sit on the bottom. Put your cut biscuits on top. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

These are DELICIOUS, slightly sweet ....  and the bottoms, since they are sitting on the butter - are crispy and buttery.

These are great for breakfast or with dinner! So easy and quick! Better than biscuits from the can.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Exploring Houston: Tomball German Festival

Two weeks ago, we decided to go to the German Festival in downtown Tomball. It was the 12th year, I've lived here for 6 - and I'd never been. I think most people go for the beer and food - but there are crafts and some entertainment too. It's actually a VERY popular festival and it's on a lot of Texas Festival websites, which is cool. They also have a German Christmas Festival in December which is supposed to be outstanding and a great place to find German ornaments and Christmas decorations, plus gifts! I can't wait to go this year!

The first thing we went for was the FOOD! Here is Conrad with his turkey leg. I had sausage. He later had a corndog and I had Frito pie. I've been doing GREAT with my eating plan- but I blew it at the festival and that's ok-  I was planning it!

I take the WORST pictures, but you know ... proof I was there!

We went by a salsa tent. The lady also had jellies, jams, relishes, etc --- and she asked me if I had ever had sauerkraut and I said NO - and she said well you are at the German festival, YOU MUST. So I did and Conrad captured the moment for us all.

DIDN'T love it
Ugh ... moving on ... when we would find a treat to eat, we would take it down to the picnic tables and eat. The tables were set up right by the petting farm. Conrad and a bunch of 4 year olds were enthrallled! Here are the baby potbelly pigs that we all thought were so super cute ... and their baby goat friends!

... and last, but not least - we enjoyed buying stuff for us! This was my giant bottle of Mexican vanilla (goodbye imitation!) ... and a loaf of hatch green chile/cheddar bread. The baker lady was there with all kinds of bread. It seems any kind you could possibly want!

Conrad and I both drive a long way for work ... and weekends are for doing nothing, or errands, if we absolutely have to. So I was thrilled to get out of the house for a few hours and do something different. We had such a good time. It's a very small festival, but so easy for us to get to. Parking was easy and I think we have the hang of it now- when to go, what time to go, etc ... and so we will for sure go to the event in December and this one again next year. SO MUCH FUN!

I've gone so far as going online to find a list of nearby festivals. I really want to start going to more. Such a great place for fun and great food- and unique gifts. I just really dig them right now.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Lamp

There is another new addition in the guest room 'cause once again, it will transfer VERY well into my new craft room. It's on the girly side, Conrad wouldn't want it front and center in the living room or anything ...

This lamp was $80 at Hobby Lobby which was WAY too much ... but the day I found it, it was 50% off - so I got it for $40 and I had a $50 gift card from Christmas.


How dang cute is that bird????


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Zebra Pillow - Part 2

My zebra pillow came this weekend from Coldwater Creek!

SO CUTE and SO HAPPY I got it!

The front was as advertised .... and I think it looks REALLY cute in one of the guest bedrooms. I absolutely love it.

(sorry for blurry pic)

Then as you remember, one of the reviewers said the stripes follow through on the back...

They TOTALLY DO. I love it.
I'm really glad I got it. It will be a great addition to my craft room when the new house is built.


Sunday, April 8, 2012


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good Friday was .... a good Friday


Trying to get better about posting- although I feel like no one reads much anymore. :(

Yesterday was Good Friday and it was a holiday at work --- I don't have a ton of money right now- it went to some earlier endeavors- like a down payment on a vacation for later this year (YAY) --- so I really wasn't going to do much yesterday. Conrad had some boy errands to run like Home Depot which bores me to tears unless I'm looking for tile or light fixtures (he was going for Turf Builder and a water filter) - no thanks! ....

So I said you know I am going to take what little money I do have and go enjoy the tea room down in downtown Tomball. Conrad is always willing to go with me, but he usually ends up making a snack when he gets back home, it's just not enough food and not the right kind of food for him. Soup and sandwiches don't hold him. Yesterday the special was chicken/spinach enchiladas. I LOVE LOVE LOVE their tortilla soup and pasta salad too - so that's what I had. DELISH.

I so love that place! Afterwards I left and wandered back towards my car and passed so many cute shops that I so wanted to go into but what's the point? No money! Just keep thinking MEXICO MEXICO --- there's a good reason you don't have any money! HA!

.... and as I passed the Bath Hut I saw they had free lotion samples outside. Just a big basket full of them. So I stuck my head into the shop and the lady said yes, they were free, to please take one. So I TOTALLY did and it smells SO GOOD!

It's not much you know, but it just fulfilled my need to leave with SOMETHING. I don't know why I get like that sometimes- I just need SOMETHING. Usually garage saling cheaply fulfills my need to get "stuff" but being Easter weekend, there won't be many ... so this worked.

YAY good Good Friday indeed!


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Coldwater Creek

I like Coldwater Creek - I've shopped there before ... a little pricey!!!!

I usually try to hit a sale - I found a coupon in a magazine for $25 off a $100 purchase, so I went online to see what I could find. Uh like maybe 2 sweaters -- and even with the discount I'd have to pay $100. No Thanks!

But in the outlet section I did find this SUPER CUTE pillow that would look great in my turquoise/chocolate/pink guest room. It was on sale for $19, regularly $39.95 AND I got free shipping.

I normally would still say $19 was too much for a throw pillow - but then again, this one was so different. It's a totally new and fun play on the "animal print" that I and so many other people love. Supposedly, the stripes follow around the back too - which is really neat. I can't wait to get it. I have been trying to buy more things lately that I can bring to the new house --- so when it's built and we're moving in, it won't be so daunting to try to decorate. This color is going to be one of the main colors in my little guest room/craft room. So - what the heck!

The pillow is also unique in that the zebra was hand drawn on with wax, then the fabric was dyed and this is the resulting image. I am guessing no 2 pillows are alike. I love it.


Friday, March 9, 2012

No Fat- doing good


So one week with NO fried foods. NONE. YAY me. It's been sort of hard, but then again, sort of not. I have limited my actual fat intake quite a bit. It's truly deep fried stuff like fries, chips, cheese sticks I am avoiding but I need to watch the saturated fat too - so fat in general is under the microscope for me.  Before I go out to eat, I look up the nutritional chart first. (I always eat out at lunch). I have been cooking all dinners at home - and have very much limited my sugar intake. Only water to drink.

My pants feel loser -- and I feel good in general. I can't say I have had some epiphany or anything with not eating so much fat- I am just making better choices and doing it on purpose. The last two times I ate lunch at Chili's - I got broccoli instead of fries. I've had sandwiches instead of burgers. No cookies at night ... or anything like that. No Girl Scout cookies here at work...

Today I went to The Corner Bakery for lunch. I checked online first and chose a soup/sandwich combo which was pretty ok in calories and fat. I ignored all the cookies and cakes and just marched up to the counter ordered my chicken sandwich and my lentil soup and marched back and sat down. I can do this --- I was telling myself, even though that little mini bundt cake looked goooooooooood.

When they brought my food I was SHOCKED to find the space between the soup and sammy FILLED with potato chips. CRAP! That wasn't mentioned on my menu. They looked SO GOOD too. But I ignored them. I ate my stuff and I didn't even touch ONE chip. I am so proud of myself today. I also scraped off some of the mayo and removed some of the cheese. Here is my lunch today when I was done with it.

I did eat the pickle- cause it was touching a chip and I was thinking mmmm... I bet a little taste of that chip grease got on you Mr Pickle. So I ate it to see but, no ... just vinegar. :(

.... and this won't be forever. I mean it's not like I'll never have another chip. Someone told me today, "Well you can cheat this weekend" ... NO I really can't. I know me. I need to get into a routine first. It takes 21 days to get into a routine - so .... I am maintaining this strictness for 21 days. THEN at that point I can have fries once a week or a piece of cake or something - but if I do it now, I think I'll ruin it. I'm just now starting to see the cravings going away ... so no need to ruin it now. But that first chicken strip meal will probably make me cry. LOL

The next thing I suppose is to get back to the gym. I was doing so well last year before my gallbladder surgery. I just never got back into it. But ... one life change at a time, I say!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Exploring Houston: Soto's Cantina- Houston

Soto's Cantina
10609 Grant Rd., Houston, Texas

Ah ... deliciousness! I am ALWAYS on the hunt for delicious Mexican food and this little visit was BEFORE I decided to go "no fried food" -- cause alas, those deep fried chips are OFF the diet for now!

I went online and was reading some reviews on restaurants in Houston and found one about this resturant which is pretty close to my house. If you are from Houston or have been here for any time, this is the family who used to own the La Parrada restaurant on 1960. They closed it down and opened this one: Soto's Catina.

Soto's outside
 It's REALLY cute on the outside and easy to find. When we went in, it was relatively quiet for a Saturday night - but within 30 minutes it was PACKED. That speaks for itself!

We ordered queso right away and it was good. I don't know if it's US and we're just killed our tastebuds with hot stuff or what, but once again, we had to ask for jalapenos on the side to jazz up the queso. Once those were added, we jumped on the train to Flavortown and it was ON. Nice queso!

We got the teeny one
 Their menu was GREAT. It was very nice and had pictures and was very descriptive. They even have some $17 steak on it which has apparently won awards, statewide. We didn't get it because I wasn't up for trying the steak AND a new restaurant all at the same time, not for $17!

I decided to go with a combo plate - just a little of everything. My plate also came with a "taco" which was al carbon- which just means like fajita meat as opposed to ground beef. Well this was ONE FANCY taco with queso and everything poured over it. Well ok, I'll take it! The beans and rice, which are usually the REAL test were EXCELLENT --- and we would totally come back to this place! I also ordered a chicken enchilada to really test it out because traditionally, I don't dig chicken in mexican food (except for fajitas).

Rice, beans tamale and chicken enchilada

Super fancy taco
 This was a great place and we'll be back! I recommend it and I'm sure the 200 people that were in there with us will recommend as well! The only bad thing was, upon getting home, we found out Whitney Houston had died and that will probably forever stay with me. Every time I go in here I will probably think about her. It makes me sad and sad/delicious Mexican food don't mix.


Sunday, March 4, 2012


Ah, the New Year!

It brings all sorts of things - car inspection, HOA payment is due, all your doctors start calling to have you come in. Between January and March I will have three checkups - all different docs - girly doc, thyroid, dermotologist, etc ...

Saw the thyroid doc a few weeks ago - levels are fine, they actually have been for several years. I haven't had to change medicines I think in at least 2. This time he surprised me and ran a cholesterol, sugar, etc test. I saw it marked down on my sheet before I headed down to the lab. DARN IT! I know I have been being bad. Lunch is my comfort. Sometimes I need that hour to just fall into something delicious, go out with a friend, maybe read my book somewhere ---- and I knew it was catching up with me. SO SCARED about the cholesterol too cause my dad's side of the family has terrible heart troubles. Gosh darn it, I KNEW better!

Well, this past week the results came and WHEW --- talk about dodging a bullet! My sugar was a perfectly lovely 65 and my cholesterol --- SO proud to say 144! My bad cholesterol was low and my good was just fine ... what a load off! BUT --- (DUN DUN DUN - scary music), my trigylerides were not good. 169 ---- and they are supposed to be under 150. CRAP.

I looked it up and it's fat in the blood. Ah, there's my bad eating catching up with me! It's not on the sugar or the cholesterol, but it's on the fat in the blood --- and the doc left me a little note (watch what you eat!) ... CRAP. Fine.

Anyway I choose to look at this as an early warning sign- nothing terrible or life threatening ... but you better snap out of it girl! SO --- here's what I'm doing. NO fried food. NONE - not even chips and salsa at this point. After a few months, I will allow it for special occasions or whatever - but right now, none. I also am going to add some lean fish to my diet- twice a week. I like salmon ok --- but the rest, UGH ---- not a fish girl ... but some grilled salmon, I can choke down. I was never a soda person anyway, but I am increasing my water intake and really limiting sugar. Sugar isn't going to totally go away --- I think a cookie once in awhile or a piece of cake at a birthday party is fine --- but fried foods are GONE. Some fat is ok and actually needed, so I'm not going to freak out about cheese on my sandwich, etc. I also spent the week learning about saturated fats, transfats, etc. I think I've got a handle on it!

I am going to get my regular doc to retest me in June -- give myself three good months. Hopefully I'll see some difference.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Broccoli and Cheese Soup: Pioneer Woman


I was needing some comfort last night ... and I had just recently watched an episode of the Pioneer Woman's cooking show on Food Network - and she made Broc Cheese Soup. YUM. One of my fav's. Conrad says his mom uses Velveeta and to be fair, I've never had it. Her soup, that is ... but it just seemed too much like queso to me and you know, processed food = bad. I wanted to use as fresh as I could. Plus there are hundreds of recipes for this- this is just one and it's the one I had and the ingredients were on hand. So I went with PW's recipe and YUM. I did add some Tabasco once I had my bowl poured, but that is just a preference for me. I am so partial to hot stuff!

In a large stock pot drop a 1/2 stick of butter and a half of a diced onion in --- and just make sure you go until the onions are translucent- about 3 minutes. When that is done, you need to slowly start adding flour to the mixture, until it's all balled up and combined. It's sort of like making the first part of a beshemel sauce - just cook out that flour taste - about a minute. Don't really BROWN the flour mixture, just get it to where it looks sort of like cookie dough.

At this point, add in 4 cups of WHOLE milk and 2 cups of half and half. Stir to combine. I used a whisk so I could really get my floury stuff all combined. At this point, just add in a tap of nutmeg. Seriously ... not even a 1/4 teaspoon. Just enough to where you can see it floating on the milky mixture. I have it on medium heat at this point- don't scald the milk! Add salt and pepper to taste. Remembering the cheese is salty!

Then I cut the heads of big bunches of broccoli and threw them in there whole - and then cut up small pieces of the stalk. Not a lot - but I don't like to waste, so I added in some of them. Put a lid on the pot, and turn down to low. Go 25-30 minutes.

While that was going on I grated up a block and a half of cheese. I used a full block of Sharp Cheddar and then some Medium Cheddar. When 30 minutes has passed, you pull the lid off, add your cheese and stir it in. It melts RIGHT away and you can see you have broccoli cheese soup! I really would NOT use the cheese in bags, all pre-shredded. It just doesn't melt the same.

You can leave a small handful of cheese out to just garnish if you want and add hot sauce if you want.

I left my broccoli heads whole. The Pioneer Woman uses an emersion blender to make it all smooth. I think that's fine too, but I wanted my soup to be really chunky and bulky last night. It's really just an illusion to trick Conrad. If he saw all that silky smooth soup he would be like WHAT? Is that supposed to fill me up??? But the big heads of broc floating around totally fooled him - and he ate it with no problem. Veggie haters CAN be fooled!


Friday, February 17, 2012

Angry Birds

Well ... as we start to approach March, nothing like doing all my Christmas posts!
JEEZ was I just "off" for awhile, or what?

Blanca received an Angry Birds toy from her SC grandparents. She loved it --- I was actually unpacking our Christmas packages box when she saw it laying in the box, jumped in and took it. How she always knows what toys are hers, I will NEVER know ... but she saw it, claimed it and played with it.

I thought she was SO cute.

Even took a video:


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rustic Star

Conrad got me some new dinnerware for Christmas - western dinnerware and I LOVE it. It's called Rustic Star and he got it from RND Rustics, my new favorite store. After Christmas, I went back and got the chargers. 4 for $ 22 - steal and deal! Conrad was so happy ... I thought it was a bit odd that a man was dancing around the kitchen because of a great deal on chargers - seeing as how he didn't know what chargers WERE in November- but it turns out the lady at the store told him I NEEDED them and it was a MUST HAVE and he should buy them for me. My table would not be complete and would be SAD without them ... he was really upset about that! Only at that time it was about $80 for 4. RIDICULOUS! Here are my dishes, with chargers!

I went ahead and decided to unpack the plates. I was going to wait until we were in the new house, but it could be a year or even MORE at this point - and I wanted to enjoy them now. I was thinking in the new house, I would have so much more room. I could have 3 different plate sets if I wanted! (Our everyday plates are still Mikasa French Countryside C's grandma bought him) So I took the Christmas table and turned it into the western table. Really most people don't leave dishes out unless they are staging their houses, but what the hay - I can do what I want!

Christmas Table:

and then fully set western, Rustic Star table:

I love it!  ... and maybe someday soon I'll even relax enough to let us eat off them. Won't THAT be a treat??? I was going to wait for the new house ... but, it doesn't make much sense. I bet my grandma's chili will taste goooooooooood in those bowls! YEE-HAW.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Happy (?) New Year

I have found this year, so far, to be pretty exhausting. Thus, little to no blog updates.

It's not a BAD year so far ... (I mean hello 2011 - that was BAD) it's just ... super tiring. I'm so glad we already went on one trip this year- to Lake Charles- and we had a blast ... because I'm not sure yet when they next one will be. When I set up this Explore Houston thing- I was thinking at least one "trip" a month - and truly I was thinking a day trip an hour away would count. There's tons of stuff around here - Galveston, First Monday in Winnie, Beaumont, Alvin, Lake Conroe, Livingston .... but thinking about going to one of those places in the next 3 weeks is really exhausting! I'm not sure it will happen!

But I'm still committed to it - just not sure it will get done in February. I have another restaurant review or two ... there's a new "fancy" grocery store I discovered .... there's lots of things to discover right here, I'm just disappointed that I'm so dad gum tired already 5 weeks into the New Year! I also don't want to drag Conrad out and about, if he's exhausted too and he is .... but I suppose I could always climb in the car and go by myself if he's not interested in visiting the Dollhouse Conservatory of New Orleans (not a real place) ---- and I can only imagine he would NOT be excited about going! :)

I don't think it's a health issue or anything - it's just I had two weeks of really hard, rough weeks at work. When you have that going on, you can barely drag yourself to the couch and just sit there until bed time. It was hard and for me, emotional ... and I didn't feel like doing squat when I got home. I barely even grocery shopped or cooked. I think we lived on pizza for at least one week. Weekends were my time to just get back to normal and by the time I did, it was Monday again ... and another rough week.

Conrad's parents are supposed to be coming in early March - so we have some decluttering and organizing to do anyway. Both guest rooms have been storage rooms since Christmas- we have that to look forward to. I heard someone or read something one time that said the state of your house reflects the state your mind/emotions. So perhaps if I declutter and get things cleaned up at home - things will realign themselves in my brain. Right now, if you looked at my house, it would reflect a crazy, lazy brain.  

Everyone has these periods of non-creativity and exhaustion and non-productivity!

Here is to making February a little less tiring than January was!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Exploring Houston: Cypress Station Grill - Cypress, TX

Well, Explore Houston 2012 has begun! I looked on some Houston foodie blogs and they mentioned this place had the "Best Comfort Food of 2010" ... I'm a little late to the party - but I looked it up and it's still open, had decent reviews and was only 20 minutes or so from the house. Explore Houston begins --- and begins pretty close to home!

Conrad and I agreed to try it out for Sunday lunch and all the reviews I read said the food was really good - even outstanding in some instances. They said the service was terrible and the place was run by "young kids" - and since Cy-Fair High School is literally across the street, it made sense to me!

We arrived and it's a very unassuming place - right next to the railroad tracks - I guess, thus lending the name "Cypress STATION Grill". Clever.

They have a HUGE parking lot which always wins my vote! They also have a pretty decent outdoor area - for outdoor eating, concerts, etc - had it been evening, no doubt the fireplace would have been lit. It's very nice. I liked it! We are thinking of building a very similiar fireplace outside, when our new house is built.

The interior was nice and they had various railroad company logos all over: Union Pacific, Amtrak, BNSF, etc ... clever. Menus were fair (sort of boring looking) ...  but they have a HUGE selection. Tons of apps --- salads, tons of burgers, pastas, and comfort food. It took forever for us to decide, but in reading the reviews everyone recommended the chicken fried chicken. Said it was NOT TO MISS. The prices were fair - burgers about $8 although they did offer a bison burger for $15. The pastas were around $12 - the apps were $4-5.

So we finally decided and ordered the queso to start. DEFINITELY the star of the show. The chips were warm and crispy - and the queso was WHITE QUESO. LOVE LOVE LOVE and it's so rare! This queso came with taco meat, guacamole and pico de gallo on the side in little cups. So we added that, of course, and it was delicious. Still missing something though- so we asked for jalapenos to add. They came and it was PERFECT. It didn't have much zip without them, and Conrad and I are pretty zippy people. I recommend this queso - I mean I would DRIVE there just to get it. It's pretty, huh?

Conrad got a burger. I asked him was it akin to Chili's ... or a more homestyle burger like this place in Tomball - Mel's --- and he said more like Mel's. So I thought this was good. Homemade type burgers always win my vote. I went with the chicken fried chicken. It was HUGE - and the gravy was really nice. I went with green beans which were a good solid B - they had the bacon and onions like I like but were a tad too crunchy .... and the broccoli and cheese was off the CHAIN. It had the white cheese like the queso. I could have licked the bowl. The CFC was a bit of a disappointment. It was seasoned well - and was pounded out to a nice thin/but not too thin, thickness - and the batter stuck to the chicken. BUT it wasn't near crispy enough. I like it be like --- when you go to Long John Silver's and get the crispys ---  I like to have a few really crispy, battery pieces on it and this one didn't have it. You can tell by the picture the batter just isn't brown enough. It should be dark, in my opinion, KFC dark, you know?

We give this place a good B+. The service was great - we didn't have a problem in the world and the place WAS filled with kids that worked there. Our drinks were filled a million times, the food came fast - it was fine. The queso is worth the trip --- and I'll go back for that, if nothing else. They DID charge me $.79 for the jalepenos which I think is CRAP and I left them a note to say so. I buy giant jars of them for $1.19 --- that is a RIP OFF. It came to us in this tiny little cup (see the honey mustard cup next to Conrad's french fries? It was a cup like that, SMALL) - probably 15 altogether, I mean REALLY? I don't like being nickeled and dimed to death - it was already a $30 check for goodness sakes. That was a turn off, or I would have probably said A- on this place.

Explore Houston will be continuing! I won't always be talking about restaurants - I want to see other things too and I have an idea of what those places are, but I'm hoping there will be tons of resturants reviews too. Finding new places is probably one of my favorite things!


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