Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas With MY Family

This Christmas was outstanding.  It was such a shock to me considering I've been struggling all month to find the excitement I once had.  So when Christmas finally got here, I was unprepared in every way.  I didn't even plan out the menu like I usually do.  And gifts were made in between working and sleeping.  All the sisters volunteered to make something (another shocker) to add to the meal.  We even decided to add more nontraditional foods since this year seemed like it needed a change.  So what made the day so great?  Well, let me lay it out for you.   

The husband, puppies and I left town Friday morning and the trip was pretty good.  It was gray and cold but we missed all the rain.  Four and a half hours later we pulled into my hometown and was so very tired that we hugged my Dad, niece and nephew and lay down for a nap.  My little sister and her husband (and 5 dogs) arrived an hour after we did.  While her dogs slept on the screened porch, mine were stuck inside due to my Sofie being a nervous dogs.  I swear they could smell her 'fear' through the door.  We didn't really do any cooking that day and just hung around catching up. 

The following day the other two sisters showed up with significant others.  Then wonder of all wonders, my oldest brother and his kids actually showed up.  Anyone that knows my family knows he is notorious for being a day or so late for everything.  Everyone was so happy to see he made it because he's been so sick since Thanksgiving.  There were hugs and smiles (and some tears) as everyone greeted each other.  It was so great for all of us to be together again.  I anticipated there would be quite a few people come in so I had made a large pot of chili in advance for the hungry ones.  Who knew teenagers could eat so much!  And who ever said teenage girls were food picking, salad eating folk lied.  My nieces competed with the boys and won! There was chili with crackers, Frito pie and chili dogs.  It was gone in a matter of minutes.

We kicked off the holiday cooking by firing up the barbecue pit.  No Christmas is complete without ribs, chicken and whatever other meat is brought over.  I did my part by baking pies and icing my cakes.  One sister decided to make the dressing.  We were all leery about it but I convinced her come over and we would do it together.  I just had to make sure it would be edible.  She's not the best cook around but she did OK.  Then another sister made potato salad.  The oldest sister took her traditional spot of watching and doing nothing until it was decided that this year she would at least do prep work.  She grumbled but did it.  Later the kids decided to order pizza.  There was a bit of drama with a bro-in-law who felt he was entitled to eat this pizza without putting in.  Ever try to dip when teenagers spent their hard earned money on the food?  It's a no-no...

The drama was minimal and only lasted a few minutes.  No hurt feelings except the bro-in-law. He now knows the rules.  The kids handled it well and moved on very quickly.  We began a game of Phase 10 that lasted a couple of hours.  I was new to the game but we had a good time.  My oldest brother entertained us by telling us stories of his 'unfortunate' hospital stay.  He was hilarious and we were all happy to see that he seemed to be back to his old self.  At about midnight, we all finally decided we were exhausted enough from travel and laughing to lay it down.

Christmas morning started early.  Me, my Dad and husband rose early and started cooking.  I made my Mom's gumbo and the husband did a french dish of some sort.  My Dad sat and watched and talked with us.  It wasn't long before everyone else was awake to get breakfast started.  We didn't open gifts until about 2 that afternoon.  There was a lot of handmade gifts and nothing extravagant but everything was well thought out and appreciated.  My family's good about it being about the thought.

After the gifting was done, everyone made their way to the kitchen/dining area.  My Dad took his position in the middle of the room and gave thanks by prayer.  There was oohs and ahhs and several types of hot sauce came out when the dishes were revealed.  My 15 year-old niece carries a bottle in her purse.  Smh....In any case, the food was a huge success.  We ate our fill and then the table was cleared for the greatly anticipated game of marathon Phase 10.  Eight people, tons of trash talk and 3 hours later, my oldest sister was declared the winner.  We ended the visit with a family picture that turned out wonderfully.

So it rained for 2 days and the trip back to Austin was full of muddy windshields,crazy traffic congestion, and dreams of being home, but it was definitely a Christmas I won't soon forget.  Last year was a bit different as it was our first Christmas without my Mom.  This year was a little better as we realized it was really about celebrating the memories and not focusing on the loss.  I believe she would have been proud to see us enjoying each other and how we've once again found that closeness we once had. 

Hope you had a Merry Christmas and have good memories that will last as well.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Rush Hour Wrapping
Today I gave in to most everything.  I got up at 6 a.m. instead of 5.  There was no working out.   I didn't even bother showering because I did last night.  I wore brown instead of a cheerier color.  Never mind the fact that brown is currently my favorite color.  I threw together a last-minute Secret Santa gift for work.  I was so bad that I wrapped it while in rush hour traffic.  Don't worry, it was done while sitting at stop lights.  The 'wrapping paper' is from the leftover packing paper from the trunk of my car.  The ribbon was pulled from the pocket behind the seat.  Sue me...I forgot about it.  Luckily I had a brand-new scarf and little change purse I was saving for someones gift.  The container was an empty oatmeal carton.  I'm a recycling fool! 

Leftovers after Hungry Women's Raid
Got to work to a ridiculous amount of food.  Cookies, cakes, donuts, quiche, and tamales.  I had a chicken tamale (my friend and her mom made) and only one cookie.  I was trying to be good.  Unfortunately, our team went out for lunch to exchange the gifts.  While they all had creamy, cheesy soup, I opted for the broth based one.  It was good.  My gift just happened to be a large cup of mini snicker bars.  What evil women!  I ate about 5 of them.  Oh well. 

I came home to a husbandless house (out of town) and dogs that had been needing to do their business for hours.  I was starving.  When I finally got back inside, I'd barely kicked my shoes off when the husband strolled in with in-laws and kids in tow.  I was not amused but I put on a happy face.  I was still hungry.  After they left, I decided I was going to have an easy and sinfully delicious meal.  I hadn't taken anything out to cook so we were perusing the fridge for fast and easy. The husband had okra sauce so we put on a pot of rice.  I didn't want the sauce but had about a half cup of leftover beans.  I scrambled and egg, refried the beans and sauteed some peppers and topped it all with cheese.  It hit the spot and then some! 

Beans, Rice, Eggs, Avocado, Peppers
So I gave in to temptation on a few occasions today.  No one led me there.  I willingly walked right up to it!   I'm OK with that.   I'll do better tomorrow.

Quote of the Day: “I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it”~Mae West

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Evening Stroll

 I've decided I'm terrible at entering my daily miles. Doesn't seem to matter how easy it is. Guess I'm just lazy. But I have been getting in the mileage. I slept in this morning. Well, if you consider sleeping till 730am sleeping in. I tried to stay longer but I was getting restless so I finally gave up. I threw on a tshirt and sweat pants and laced up the sneakers. I woke the husband telling him I was taking the dogs on a short walk. Turned out to be a pretty good one. Not too fast and not too slow. This is big considering Baxter was less than thrilled about going beyond the parking lot. He's gotten to be such a lazy and stubborn old pup. Of course we were going too slow for Sofie but I had to remind her we were only as fast as our slowest partner.

I was feeling a little bit of stress due to car emission issues so the husband thought it a good day to stay in and relax. He actually sat with me through two movies. We hung out and watched sports afterwards and even took a nap. By 7pm, we were both headed back out the door for an evening stroll through the neighborhood. I had been wanting to see the Christmas lights and he reminded me. It was so nice out and they lights were OK. A friend texted me wanting to know if we would meet them at the Zilker tree but I was not in the mood for a drive or company other than my guy. The neighborhood was just my speed. This year people didn't seem to do as much as last year but I can understand that. It was still nice to see them. I tried to take a few pics but I neglected to check how to switch to nighttime mode on my camera and was too impatient to try it on the walk. We joked and laughed and oohed and ahhed like kids.We had a nice walk and got in a nice mild workout. It was fun and I highly recommend it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Leaders, Lessons and Love

I would just like to share a small moment the husband and I had while watching t.v. yesterday. We were watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and there was a part where they decorated the park in this neighborhood.  I said some people might not think Christmas lights were a big deal.  Mentioning that I grew up in an area where it would have been awesome to have that in the middle of the neighborhood but things like that only happened in the richer parts of town.  My husband listened and said it's possible but you must have a leader.   He went on to address exactly what a leader endures while trying to complete a task. 

He said that when you are working to do things for other people you will always meet with criticism.  People will tell you that you can't do it.  They will say you are wasting your time.  They will say that the very people you are trying to help don't deserve it.  Even some family members will try to discourage.  He said that with all of the 'advice' you get, you must push past them and keep your eye on the prize when you are trying to help others.  He said you should never accept that it can't be done simply because no one has done it.  He finished saying no one can be a successful leader without loving what they do.  Then he looked at me and said,  'You are a leader.  I know you want to do so much but sometimes you are doubtful. I see you work hard to move beyond most problems that come and through it all you keep on smiling.'  Then he went on to point out examples and ended with how proud he was of me.  I love him for that.  He's always teaching me something new.  Or at least a different way of looking at things. Sometimes his observation amazes me.

With it being the holiday season, I'm thinking it fitting that I air my feeling of love right here and now.   After all, to me Christmas is about an expression of love.  Not that we shouldn't feel this at all times.  It's just that like Thanksgiving, it is a  time for those that may have a problem expressing it the other 364 days of the year. Christmastime makes it a little bit easier for them to get it out. 

So I would like to go on blog record as saying I love my husband.  He's smart, kind, stubborn, humble and so many other things.  I can't for the life of me figure how I got to deserve someone like this.  When I tell him this, he shushes me with embarrassment but then tells me it is he who is blessed to have found me.  We go on and on like that for a few minutes before both agreeing that we are both blessings from God. 

Our gifts this year will be a repeat of last year.  I can't think of a better gift than a love letter from him.  Sure he grunts and groans saying his English and grammar is not perfect.  Who wants perfect?  Not me.  I'll take honesty and heart over those any day.  I love my husband and I count him as a blessing each and every day.
Love your people  (and pets) and have a great weekend!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Way I See It

There are some things I need to get off my chest and out of my head. I figure holding them won't do me any good. I would hate to offend anyone and since everything posted here is my own opinion (unless otherwise stated) I can't imagine I would. If you are sensitive to opinion then you may as well stop right here.

I'd like to address this holiday season. I've heard so many negative comments regarding the holiday season. People throw hate around like it's a word to be used lightly. Well, it's not. They blame this time of year on everything and everyone. A friend posted the following on FB: "How about a month of obligations, overspending, difficult travel and horrible weather?" - The pitch for the month of December. First of all, who's fault is it that you feel obligated? Someone holding a gun to your head? Same with spending. If you don't have it to spare, why the heck are you spending it? Horrible Weather? We bitched and moaned all summer long about the heat. Now it's cold and gray and we are singing the same song. Don't want to get out in it? Stay home and watch the weather (however good or bad) from your window. It's as simple as that. And then there is the great divide. I'm starting to think everyone is a bit paranoid. If you don't believe in Christmas then don't celebrate it. If you believe it represents something non-religious, that's all you. If you do believe it is religious and want to celebrate it as such, then do it and stop worrying about those that don't. Having people celebrate it as a religious holiday or celebrating as a season of shopping shouldn't get you all riled up and angry. However you choose to celebrate, I'll be willing to bet angry and upset were not part of the plan. As far as I'm concerned, this holiday season is all about what I believe. How I choose to go about life in these final days of the year is my prerogative. You do what you like.

Now on to something I feel is a bit more important than the above. Parents and children. I think some parents underestimate what their kids are going through in life. We would all like to think childhood is the same as it was when we were kids but we would be dead wrong. Now what I have to say next might upset, anger or just rile some folk but it's my opinion. I think some parents have forgotten how to be the parent. They think being 'friends' with their kids will encourage them to be more open when there is a problem. Well, based on the headlines it seems kids aren't doing that. I think parents need to be as strong as they use to be. They need to once again be the hero; the role-model. If your child is having a personal problem that they are embarrassed, scared or worried about, they are less likely to go to a friend for help. They would probably prefer to go to someone they feel is bigger than that problem. So you being their friend is not necessarily going to help. When I was growing up my parents were the super heroes. I truly believed they could fix any problem. Why? Because they always listened and reacted in a way that said they would ALWAYS protect me. What child wouldn't want that? Sure I don't have kids but I have nieces and nephews and that's just as good. I'm lucky to be the aunt that they come to because they still think I'm cool like that. They tell me things that they think they can't tell their parents. I listen. I give my opinion and then I point them to their parent(s). Of course I also give my sister and brother (or in laws) and earful of how I think things should go down. They either take my advice or go about it the wrong way. Lol. Whatever. The point is, they are involved. That's all that matters.

Finally, I'd like to address this giving business.  My personal opinion is if you are feeling it, give. If you have to stop and think about where the gift is going, don't. I heard someone say that she gave money to someone on the corner but then she worried that the money was probably going to go towards alcohol or drugs. I asked her what made her give. She said she felt guilty. We may do many things out of guilt, but I don't think that giving should be one of them. I don't think there is anything worse than giving and then regretting. I don't think twice about donating. I don't wonder what kind of life that person lives. I only see someone that needs something at that moment. I sure as heck don't have a lot to give but I give what I can when I can. If I don't have it, I say a small prayer for them. To me prayer is worth more than any amount of change I can give. That's just how I roll.

All these thoughts came from conversations I've had in the last day or so. I'm lucky to be one that can sit amongst people and have them speak freely. Most people (who don't know me well) can't easily tell what my opinion is so I think they are comfortable. They must be because some of them talk a whole lot of smack about things they don't know. Lol. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Quote for the Day: “A good listener tries to understand what the other person is saying. In the end he may disagree sharply, but because he disagrees, he wants to know exactly what it is he is disagreeing with.” ~Kenneth A. Wells quotes

Sunday, December 11, 2011

God Don't Like Ugly...(And He Ain't Too Fond of CUTE!)

The night before last my sister and I were texting back and forth about my nephew and his recent lack of regard for his grades.  He's up for a competition that can get him a full scholarship upon graduation but he's so into preparing for it that he's all but forgotten about his other classes.  She tried to give him advice and he was disrespectful.  She was hurt and angry.  I told her to go to bed and not talk to him when she was angry.  Well, as with many 17 year olds, my nephew thinks his Mama don't know jack and he's getting to the point he thinks his aunt (me) might not know much either. Humph!!! 

After we texted, I gave my nephew a call and we had a talk.  He said some things that annoyed me but afterwards, I got over them.  I remember saying and doing things at a young age that I'm still ashamed of.  I told him about them.  He laughed at some and was silent about others. I think I got through to him.  I hope. I figured I would share some of those things with y'all.

I discovered very early on that following the 'crowd' can sometimes cause regret that last a lifetime.  My first memory of this was when I was in first grade.  Having always been surrounded by my sisters and brothers, I behaved the way we were raised.  First grade was the first time I would have a full day around people that were not family.  Now understand that the way my parents were raising us required we be respectful to all and live above influence.  For the most part, I did that but first grade was quite the challenge.  I could go on and on but I will just point out this one instance that I still remember.  We were at recess and some of the kids I was playing with decided to make fun of the kid in the wheelchair.  They toss about names that I didn't even know and laughed hysterically.  I wasn't real sure what to do because I knew it was bad to make fun of someone but I didn't want to end up on the other side of the taunts.  So I laughed right along with them.  Then that kid, Leo, heard what they were saying and started crying.  In an instant, I felt bad and stopped laughing.  Nothing came of it but when I got home, I told my Mama what I had done and asked her if I was going to go to hell.  She told me God forgave me as long as I didn't do it again.  I guess I took that  and went with it but to this day I've never forgotten that feeling.

As much as that particular moment affected me, I still had moments later in life where I forgot how it felt.  When you forget things, sometimes you repeat them.  There was a moment in fifth grade where I was reminded of that feeling.  We had a new student start.  She came in and the teacher introduced her.  She was wearing a leather jacket and had a good haircut.  Strange that I remember those two things.  Anyway, the only seat available was the one next to me.  She sat down and said hello.  I don't know what possessed me but I looked at her and then promptly turned my back to her.  A few kids laughed at that.  I sat taller knowing I was the center of attention.  I was being cute and snobby.  When I turned around to look at her, she had that look of hurt on her face.  Of course I immediately felt sorry that I had acted in such a way.  I spent the rest of the day making it up to her by being as nice as possible.  It also occurred to me that others followed what I did.  As soon as I decided to be friendly, others did the same.  We became really good friends but she moved away before the school year was up.  Even though we were friends, I never forgot my actions in the first moment we met.  I still wish I would have gone about it in a different way.

The rest of my school years I had such moments.  I regretted all of them and still remember them.  When I think of them, I still get a small knot in my stomach.  But for all of those, I will never forget any of the moments where I was disrespectful to my parents.  I remember thinking they didn't know up from down when I was a teenager. They would try to give me advice and it would slide over me like water on a ducks back.  Not saying that I didn't take any of it.  Some of them where strongly advised to the point where I took it or suffered the consequences.  Lol.  They were strong like that. 

The one story I shared with my nephew about parents was something that happened between me and my Mom.  She had just learned how to crotchet from an older lady she was sitting with all day.  She knitted these booties (socks) and showed them to me.  I laughed at them telling here they looked funny. But then realized she looked embarrassed.  I've never felt regret like I did in that moment.  I tried to backtrack but the feeling clung to me.  When Christmas came that year, I discovered she had made those booties for me.  This increased the regret ten-fold.  I still have those booties and found them not long after she passed.  I would give anything to take back the actions when she first showed them to me.  I told my nephew this to get him to understand that regardless of how he thinks he feels about something, he should try to show respect whenever possible.  His mother is trying hard to do everything she can for him but she can't do it all.  He needed to understand he can't have everything his friends have.  He's spoiled (as are most kids now in my opinion) and doesn't really know the value of hard work.  But I'm his aunt and am harder on him than his Mom.  His butt will sure as hell learn that much when he comes to stay with me and my husband this summer.  I promised him that! 

Our conversation ended with:
Me:  "Do you understand what I'm trying to tell you?'
Him: 'Yes ma'am.'
Me:  'Don't just say that to get me off the phone.  If you slip up and I get wind of it, you know I'll make the drive to come and find you right?'
Him: 'Yes ma'am.  I know.'
Me: 'I ain't playing.  Grow up and get some sense. God don't like ugly and he ain't too fond of cute.'
Him:  'Yes ma'am.  I understand.'

I get my auntie-rearing from my parents.  I think I do OK.  Love your people and have a great Sunday! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Slainzy Sunday

Slainzy: A slow, rainy, lazy day.

I created that word today because that's what it is.  I promised my husband that I would take him out to breakfast in appreciation for preparing dinner all week long.  When we finally got out of bed to take the dogs out, we discovered we had a nice steady rain coming down.  It's still drizzly and gross but we decided it was the perfect day to hit Golden Corral's breakfast buffet. We figured most people were still in church and there would be no parking issues.  We were correct. 

Our theory behind breakfast buffet is that its the best option when neither of us knows what we want to eat for breakfast.  We can try something and if we don't like it, move on.  Wasteful yes...but we budget friendly for the fickle. And we are definitely a food fickle couple.

My husband, who had never been to a breakfast buffet, had suggested IHOP.  He dropped this tidbit of info on me this morning.  Seriously?!?  I nixed that idea and told him how much better the buffet option was.  He wasn't convinced until I gave him the price of buffet vs. menu item.  So off we went. He enjoyed himself.  He got his eggs, potatoes, ham and ice cream.  Lol. Yep, he saw it and wanted it. He asked me if it was OK to get ice cream for breakfast.  I guaranteed him he could get anything he wanted that was displayed.  He was like a kid.  In fact it was only a kid-sized cone but he enjoyed it.  Small pleasures...

Now we are planning on spending the rest of the day lazing around, watching sports and sipping hot chocolate.  It's a good day.

Hope you had an awesome weekend!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

In the Hairdresser's Chair

Kindly ignore the 'natural' gray highlights!
It's been a long week and I was looking forward to the weekend with true longing.  There were some bumps in the week but I worked hard to get over them.  Sadly, I'm still sitting atop a couple of them as they require some time.  But I'll get pass them. 

Let's focus on my weekend.  I had plans to have a very nice and worry free weekend.  All ended well but it was rough getting there.  I started Saturday with car issues. Still trying to work out if my state inspection issues are due to a recent $300 tune-up.  Now I'm in search of a good mechanic. 

I went to get my hair did . Finally! After weeks of thinking and thinking I decided I needed to get braids.  If any of you have natural hair you know how challenging it is to straighten your hair only to have it ruined by a single, sweat soaked workout.  I researched and came across the Yarn Braid.  My hairdresser said she'd be willing to try it so I made an appointment for noon Saturday.  She had two appointments running late so my appointment didn't happen until 3 o'clock.  I could have been upset but I had a good time while waiting. Not sure if you've ever been in the hairdresser's chair where there are predominately African American patrons, but let me assure you that if not, you are missing out. There is quite an experience to be had there.

While waiting I had my share of entertainment.  There was a comedic mechanic there (who will look at my car...Yay!).  He was full of anecdotes and quotes to live by.  At one point he said the best way to made kids appreciate what they have is to take it all away.  He said 'If they don't appreciate that warm house and warm bed, put 'em out!  They'll pick up appreciation real fast.'  They man was funny I tell you!  Then there was the preacher women who happened to be in my stylist's book club. She decided to use our waiting time to do a story time for adults.  She spent two hours reading from the book they were to review.  It was full of sexy scandal and super sins.  And it was hilarious to hear her glide over the not so christian words.  She substituted with words like 'a garden tool' and 'woman of the night'.  Other words she spelled out and inserted blanks so that she didn't complete the full spelling.  Funny enough, it was the men there who were the most enthralled in the story.  They shushed anyone that interrupted.  It was hilarious and very entertaining.  And finally we had the teenage Hispanic kid that came in with fresh tamales, orange soda and cookies for everyone.  Apparently it was from his grandma next door. Did I take some?  Of course!  I couldn't be rude.

When I finally got in the chair, we decided on the imitation dread look.  Two and and half hours later, we accomplished something close to it.  I told her I couldn't do smaller ones because I was not willing to sit there over the 4 hours she mentioned.  I think the results fit me just fine.  I have 2 months to decide how much I like them.  I didn't get home until after 6pm.  My wonderful husband came through once again by having a nice hot meal waiting for me when I got in.  Thankfully, he understands that when it comes to getting my hair styled, it is never a hurried errand. I'll have to repay him for his kindness somehow.

It was a long day and I'm ready to lay it down. 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Been A Good Day

It's been a pretty good day.  Busy but good.  Yes, I was tired but I had my own workload and I set a goal to finish it as quickly and perfectly as possible.  Nothing like a lofty goal to get the blood pumping.  Of course I didn't finish it all but the point is I tried.  Even as tired as I was, I managed a 30 minute walk after lunch.  It was too beautiful a day to stay inside when I didn't absolutely have to.  That small solitary walk gave me energy to finish up the rest of the day.  I even took the slower way home and was happy to find that it got me home 10 minutes earlier than the 'fast' route.  I think I'm going to try it again tomorrow.

I don't have a lot to share tonight because I've made some recent decisions that require posts of their own.  Well....that and I really am tired and imagine I will be asleep before 9pm.  I will say that these decisions require I learn focus, dedication and discipline.  I'm a little bit scared of the three of those standing next to each other.  But never mind that right now.  

And for the record, I stuck with better for me food all day long. I totally ignored the cup of Twix (es) some 'do-gooder' left on my desk.  If I find out who did it, I will waste no time finding out what their food weakness is.  Revenge by way of food is sweet! Y'all have a goodnight.

Wednesday's Meals

I had a Blue Blast smoothie for breakfast.
The lunch was side salad w/a little balsamic and EVOO with a side of baked Tilapia.
Dessert was cottage cheese with a teaspoon of orange marmalade and blackberries.  My snack was a tangerine.  The husband made use of the leftovers for dinner. Yummy!

That's about all I have to say about my day.

Quote of the Day: Discipline and dedication. Two values fast going out of fashion in a world fixated on pleasure, leisure and the quick fix.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Taste of Tuesday

I rose this morning desperate to hang on to that Monday Motivation.  We were up at 5 a.m. and out in the cold to complete a 3 mile walk in the dark.  Sure, we could have gone to the gym but I convinced the husband that I needed something a little different than the gym.  I knew going in there would only make me revert back to my 'doing it out of guilt' workouts.  In other words, stick with the same thing and not really push hard enough to make a difference.  This is not to say I do that all the time.  No, I just was not feeling it this morning. 

So we threw on sweats, skull caps (scarf for me as there is not a beanie big enough for my fro) and fleece.  You know the good thing about working out in the cold is it makes you move faster.  It was a chilly 41 degrees and we made quick time of our walk.  We kept to the sidewalks and circled the businesses as they were well lit.  I had a little trouble keeping up with the speeding man beside me but I didn't complain.  This was my idea after all.  We finished in about 40 minutes and that included our slower warm up and stretch.  By the way, I don't like to stretch.  I do it because it's wise but I still don't like it.  I don't like to shower either but of course that's necessary too.  Anyway, it was a good workout and I was wide awake and ready for the day afterwards.

Because I didn't have that much of an appetite (don't know what was going on there ) I decided to just whip up a good ole green smoothie.  I didn't have any fresh spinach so I chipped a chunk from the frozen block to use.  I always have frozen bananas so I was good to go.  While I was at it, I pulled together some leftovers and fridge staples for my lunch.  I think it was pretty decent.  Besides, by lunch I was so hungry anything sounded good.  I always say if you want simply bland healthy food to taste great, be hungry when it's time to eat it.  Don't believe me?  Try it.

I would like to say my work day was full of motivation but I'd only be lying.  It was hard to go back after 5 days and the traffic didn't help.  By the time I got there, I was back at 'not feeling it'.  I tried singing and talking to myself to get a pumped up feeling but nothing was working.  When I finally hit the parking lot, all of my usual spots were taken so I had to park farther away.  One good thing that came from it was the fact that I was parked next to the Trooper gathering. I had never seen them all gathering outside before.  Their hands were joined and heads were bowed.  I stopped my pitying long enough to say a small prayer of my own.  I don't know what it was about seeing it, but it gave me a little push to get moving. 

The day went well.  When my husband asked me how my day went, I told him I started out with five fingers of energy.  By the time lunch hit, I was at three.  I coast on the three fingers till about three o'clock.  From there I quickly dropped two fingers and held on till five o'clock by that one finger.  I was tired and worn by the time I hit my sofa at 6pm.  It was at that point my sister called and I let her know that I was not pregnant as we were thinking.  The River was late but it arrived in true energy sapping Diva style. 

Luckily the husband read between the lines in my text and had a good dinner and a smile waiting for me when I got home.  My puppies had plenty of love to give as well.  They all know when I need some TLC and I'm thankful to have them to give me just what I need.

It's not even 9:30 but I'm on the slippery slope to sleep.  It's been a good day but I think I'm going to surrender to seven hours of the sublime sleep.


Today's Meals

Quote of the Day: “Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired. When you were younger the mind could make you dance all night, and the body was never tired...You’ve always got to make the mind take over and keep going.” ~George S. Patton, U.S. Army General and 1912 Olympian

Monday, November 28, 2011

Get Motivated!

The husband and I attended the Get Motivated Business Seminar today. In a word, it was awesome!  I think the experience was just meant to be because everything fell into place so perfectly.

To prove my point, let me tell you how it all went from the planning to the event.  Last night (at the last minute) I finally decided to map out our trip.  This had to be done considering the traffic.  The instructions said to get there early because there was limited parking.  Well, seems there were only 2 parking lots on the provided map for the convention center.  I checked and realized I would be paying $9 for a full days worth of parking. That's IF I even got a parking spot.  I started looking around for other parking options (online) and nothing really satisfied me.  I was getting discouraged and more than a little aggrevated.

The husband was sitting near me watching TV and noticed my chagrined face.  He asked me what was wrong and I told him about it.  It was then that he reminded me that I had asked him about the park and ride option.  This turned into a great reminder because that's exactly what we ended up doing.  We were up at 5:30 and at the bus terminal by 6:45; just in time to catch the 7am bus.  It was freezing (really...the temps were at freezing) but luckily we didn't have to wait long.  The ride was about 45 minutes.  I would be lying if I didn't say I was getting antsy and annoyed at the many stops.  And don't get me started on the little girl that had a full 25 minute cell phone conversation where the entire bus could hear.  Don't kids text now?

See the too-close chairs.
 Anyway, we hit our stop at exactly 8am (the time the seminar was to start) and I was hoping there were other late comers too.  I was not disappointed as we got caught up in the rush of black pea and trench coat pedestrians trying to make their way to the same destination.  I heard snatches of conversation about how bad traffic was and how horrible it was to find parking.  At that point, I was so very grateful to have taken the metro.  We got there and found good seats.  Again we heard more grunts and groans about the parking situation. 

Colin Powell
To shorten this adventurous story (I can get long winded, I know) I will just get to the point.  We began with Howard Putnam (CEO of Southwest Airlines).  He was very good and motivational and made very good points on how to run a successful business.  Following him was Krish 'I'm Not PC' Dhanam.  He was hilarious and managed to made some ridiculously good points.  I really did enjoy him.  Then we got to see Colin Powell.  Of course he was THE man.  I was so excited. My husband was just as excited and soon left my side to get closer to the stage for pics. 
Following him came this other guy who had many tables, graphs, pie charts....you name it, he had it.  I don't really recall his name.  He was pretty good if you were into learning about your investments and how to make them count.  I would have totally enjoyed him had his presentation not lasted 45 minutes.  Wayyyy to long for pre-lunch information.  Everyone was starving and squirming and wondering around it seemed.  By the way, lunch was not at noon.  Luckily I had packed sandwiches, nuts, fruit and water.  The food provided in the back was crazy expensive.  No way I was going to spend $2.50 for a 10 oz bottle of water. 

Just before lunch we got a presentation by General Stanley McChrystal.  Equally as motivating as the others. Then there was Tamara Lowe.  She did the rap that's gone viral on YouTube.  Very interesting and spiritual.  Finally lunch was out. We went in search of other food but there weren't many places that didn't have 50-60 people standing outside waiting to get in.  We found 2nd Street Market to get more water as it was cheaper.  Even the line there was ridiculous.   We made it back and got better seats and had our lunch there (as did many others).  On the return we got to see Mary Lou Retton.  She was so cute and I felt like I was 12 years old all over again after watching her clip her famous gold medal win.  Another very spiritual presentation. 

Bill Cosby

Amazingly, she was followed by the wonderful Bill Cosby.  I expected them to save him for last but there he was.  He did an amazing job and kept bringing up things Mary Lou said. I found that to be most awesome.  He was hilarious of course.  Again, the husband ditched me in search of a better pic.  

The ball.
After Mr. Cosby, came a real estate dude.  Unfortunately, I can't recall his name because it was about that time a headache decided to invade my joy.  His presentation started out funny but once he go into the 'numbers of real estate' bit, everything got foggy and I was a little light-headed.  We made it through the entire thing but left just after he finished.  We didn't get to see Mary Buffett or Rudy Giuliani but I think I'll live.  However, we did score two beach balls from a pump up segment. The ride home was welcomed as all I had to do was close my eyes and let my Excedrin to it's thing.

 We had a 15 minute wait for our bus so we strolled along to see some sights.  Austin definitely has some interesting sights.  I got just a few on my camera phone. Not the best I know...

It was such an amazing experience made even better by the fact that I got to share it with my husband thanks to the extra ticket from my job.  I told him that the seminar defined him as a leader.  He shushed me and looked embarrassed.  But he is that...a leader.  I'm blessed, happy and newly motivated.

Quote of the Day: 'Never, never, never, never give up!'~ Winston Churchill

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vegging Out

Enjoying the endless holiday movies.
It's a cold and windy morning.  Perfect for a lazy day.  So this morning I told my husband I was going to spend the day vegging out.  He was sitting at the dining room table glued to his laptop.  He tore his eyes away just long enough to look at me and then turned back.  I went to the sofa and started flipping channels thinking he understood I intended to do much of nothing. 

Fifteen minutes later he said, 'I thought you were going to cook vegetables.'   I looked at him and cocked my head to one side in confusion.  I sat there trying to recall any conversation where I might have mentioned cooking vegetables.  Then he seemed to get annoyed at my silence and staring so I had to give in and tell him I had no idea what he was talking about. 

He said, 'You just said you were going to spend the day making veggies.'

I laughed and proceeded to explain that 'vegging out' meant to do nothing.  I even googled it to prove my definition.  He shrugged and took his laptop to the bedroom. Guess he's going to spend the day 'vegging' while watching soccer.  Sometimes living with an ESL-er can be quite interesting.  It keeps you on your toes and can create some very amusing moments.  Man, I love my crazy life!

Cheers to a sweat pants, ugly tshirt, furry sock wearing, vegging Sunday!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holiday Week Ups and Downs

It's been quite a week.  Many ups and downs.  Heck, even some sideways if you ask me.  Anyway, I had a lot of time to document the week by pictures. 
Hairdresser is still MIA. I think I'm going to have to face the fact that my hair may be a bit too much for her.  I washed and picked it out before slapping on a scarf to head out the door for some shopping.

I'm disappointed in myself.  I slacked on the eating and working out while I was unemployed.  While trying on new work-wear, I see where that was a big mistake.  This suit was more snug than I would prefer but I got it anyway because I refuse to go larger.  I will hold on to it until I slim down.  And yes, this does work....the buy and workout to fit thing.  I'm too cheap to be having new clothes in my closet that I don't wear.

I even considered buying this.  It was comfortable.  But I texted the pic to my sister and she called and talked me off the ledge of 'comfort' wear.  Needless to say, I didn't buy it. 

I came home to start prepping for our Thanksgiving feast.  Nothing like having the crock pot to do a good portion of the hot work for you.

After telling my husband about my unfortunate dressing room experience, he prepared this meal for us.  It was pretty good but it did little to make me feel better. He said at least it wasn't a cheesy bready meal. Yeah...so?

Then we went to my SIL who showed me how to prepare Tchep Djen.  It's a Senegalese dish.  Everyone was expecting to have it included in the holiday meal.  We didn't disappoint!

Then there was some serious baking to be done.  I did  a peach cobbler, chocolate caramel cake and two sweet potato pies.  I intended to make a pound cake but I decided we would be fine w/o it due to the time.  Unfortunately, my husband kept mentioning the fact that there was not one.  It's his favorite. 

My trip to Thanksgiving dinner started with low visibility.  It was worse than this picture shows.

But the ride eventually cleared up.

My sister drove so we were able to get some nice landscape shots. 

We thought this would be a quick and easy trip but got word that my oldest brother was admitted to the hospital in Dallas.  Of course this extended out distance and our day.  Everything turned out OK.  He was discharged today.  I can only hope he finally decides to take better care of himself.

We got home late but it was so good to spend time with everyone.  And I didn't eat as much as I thought I would.  I just didn't have an appetite.  Probably because I was thinking of the ill fittings earlier in the week.  All in all, it was a pretty good week.  No Black Friday shopping for me.  I couldn't find anything that I needed in the sales advertisements or online.  Instead I spent those days sleeping and watching holiday movies.

The weather is cold ,windy and rainy and I've no responsibility to be anywhere.  I still have two days before I have to be back at work so I'm going to relax as much as possible.  Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Social Peaker

I have a confession to make. I'm nosey.  More specifically, I like to peak.  Not in the way you are probably thinking.  I'm not at all interested in peaking at people that have shut themselves away from view.  No, I like to take a peak at people's lives through social networking.  Those who have their accounts set up to be viewed by the public.  That's OK right?  Well?  Hm...Or maybe I'm just curious. 

Anyway, with the facebook changes, sometimes you have access to other's pages that you would never have discovered had a friend not commented on their status, photo, etc.  So anyway, on the rare occasion (like today) when I've accepted the fact that I'm just not going to be productive, I explore the lives of complete strangers via facebook photos.  If you've never done this, you should try it.  I perused the photos of a friend of a friend just now.  They had a good stock too.  So many nouns.  Get it?  People, places things and even some ideas!  This particular person I liked.  That doesn't always happen.  Sometimes I wonder how and why my 'friends' are friends with them.  But that's beside the point.  Heck, I don't really know most of the 'friends' I have on facebook.  Do you? 

Back to today's stalki...er...viewing.  As I said, I liked this person.  Looking through the photos was like watching a mini movie.  I saw all the places they've been.  Learned what they liked to do in their off time.  I even learned what they ate for 2 weeks straight due to food-journaling via iPhone photos.  The vacation photos were fabulous.  And the people they hang with seemed to be just as interesting.  After checking out some pretty good pics (nice, colorful, magazine-like ones), I concluded that if I knew this person, we would more than likely be good friends.  Well, if personality through pics are any indication.  I will probably never meet this person and really have no desire to do so.  It's just fun.  It's a bit like taking an evening stroll and seeing a family having dinner through their fully lit dining room window.  You look, you smile, you move on.  I think that's OK.  So, I checked out all the photos and then moved on to something more interesting. 

And there you have it.   I'm very curious and slightly nosey.  I just wanted to put that out there.  It was on my mind and my mind is an open blog.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

My view of the Running Man (or youtube video). 
It's Friday and I'm finally winding down.  My drive home was eye-opening.  Not really but it was one of those moments when I get all deep with myself.  These deep moments usually end with me turning everything that previously was hormonally devastating into a positive.  Luckily my mind eventually buffs things up enough to show the bright side.  This week was no different. 

Since I've started this new job I've complained about the traffic.  Woe is me....it's so terrible....I'll die of exhaust fumes....I'm going broke buying gas.  You name it, I've said it.  Fortunately (sorta) on my trip back from my Dad's this weekend, we got stuck in traffic.  There was an accident miles up the highway and we were stuck going not more than 10mph.  It was terrible.  Luckily 45 minutes into it, we were able to exit and ride the access road pass the accident.  After that it was smooth sailing.  I say this was fortunate because bright and early the next morning on my way to work, I hit traffic.  We weren't really going at any speed but we were moving.  It didn't bother me. It wasn't until I was almost at my destination  that it occurred to me why.  I remembered how hard it was to be stuck at 10mph.  My slowest commute speed that morning was about 30mph.  Virtually a high speed drive compared to the weekend.  See, the bright side.

Work has been interesting.  I have a 'trainer' that doesn't really know the job.  She's still learning as it turns out.  But she's so happy and positive and keeps saying 'We'll learn together'.  This works most of the time.  The manager claims she knows the job but doesn't offer to train.  The other person on my team should know it but says she does not.  I suspect she is just one of those that likes to just work and not have to teach.  I could be annoyed but as it turns out, this is like going back to school.  I like school. I gather knowledge from anyone that offers it, bring it home to study and am back the next day to absorb more.  It's a good thing.

I think I mentioned I was back on the muscle relaxers due to back spasms.  Seems they are less and I only had to do the relaxers a couple of days.  I'm notorious for not following Dr's orders and working at doing it naturally.  This was no different.  Of course taking the relaxers made me loopy all night and the next day so it was imperative I get off of them as soon as the weekend ended.  Can't make a 'speedy' commute under the influence of loopers.

My commute home has certainly been good for me.  It's even more congested than the drive in but it has more to offer.  I'm going home so I'm so much more relaxed as I'm not on a time table.  I've discovered the route is slower but that has forced me to check out my surroundings.  I have since discovered Rockin' Rice, a restaurant that has pretty tasty Korean food.  There are also a couple of really good retro junk shops.  I passed one for days drooling over a pair of chairs.  I'm going this weekend to get them as I'm sure they were meant just for me.  I also get my daily Rundberg Dancer performance.  He's there every weekday dancing at the intersection.  I just recently found out he's not coo-coo as some think.  He's working out.  I tried to take a pic with my phone. Not a very good one but I also found a youtube video.  He might be one of the only things to smile about on that particular intersection.  Watch the video...you'll see. 
Last but not least, I get to come home to two guys and a girl that love me unconditionally.  My husband greets me with a huge hug everyday.  Of course while I get my hug, I have two ankle scratchers competing for my attention below....my puppies.  It's a nice feeling. 

Have an awesome weekend!

Quote of the Day: When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble, give a whistle and this'll help things turn out for the best...And...always look on the bright side of life...Always look on the light side of life. ~Monty Python's Life of Brian

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This Mind of Mine

My idle mind is something else. When I'm bored, my imagination drifts from the simple to the most fantastic. Sometimes I'm amazed at where it takes me. Other than the places I dare not mention, I can say most times they are great and often result in a pretty decent reality. I figured I'd give you a little glimpse of just how awesome I think it is.

This morning the husband and I just happened to be awake at about 4:30am. Don't ask. We were in the gym by 5. With it being Tuesday, it was an unplanned workout so there was no mapped out challenge. We did our own thing. Winging it, I started out on the treadmill. I wasn't really motivated nor was I feeling lazy. I was satisfied with the middle of the road feeling.  Walking at a comfortable misting pace, my mind did its thing. I started thinking about watching the NYC marathon and how amazing those people were. I've always wanted to be able to do something like that. Not necessarily to run the actual marathon but to say I can do it. My mind immediately sent up an image of me actually running a race. Well, one thing led to another and before I knew it, my motivation rose a few notches and I reached up and increased that speed. On top of that, the husband got wind of this new attitude and decided to challenge me. I never back down from a challenge so I ran a while just to show him how awesome I was. 

Now every now and again, the mind gets away from me and I have to reign it back in a bit. This happened at work today. I didn't have a lot to do so I was working hard to look busy. As I was 'reviewing' a file, my mind went on a pretty awesome adventure. I kid you not, it was a freakin' action movie. Working in a place where I regularly see uniformed officers, I had a good setting for this scene. Picture me leaving the secured area to get water or whatever. As I swipe back in, I float in all carefree and smiling only to be grabbed from the back and put in a headlock. In this dream, I have quick reflexes and I quickly take control of the situation by knocking the assailant on his butt. Once he's down, another comes out of nowhere and I am caught up in a Jackie Chan type fight. I win and am the hero of the moment. Sadly because I should have been working I had to end that dynamite dream. It did make me smile and that sparked a little more energy to carry me through the last couple hours of the day.

So I have a fantastic imagination and it appears right about the time I have nothing better to do. The good thing is I can turn it into a less fantastic reality with a change or two...and less life threatening actions. Lol. Less fantastic is still pretty good right?

Here's to adventures of the mind and a satisfying, less kickbutt reality. It's all good!

Quote of the Day:  "Everything that is new or uncommon raises a pleasure in the imagination, because it fills the soul with an agreeable surprise, gratifies its curiosity, and gives it an idea of which it was not before possessed."  ~Joseph Addison

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Daddy's Jelly

I took a special trip home to see my Daddy this weekend.  Luckily with Friday being Veteran's Day, I was off work.  I set out Friday morning with the husband and dogs in tow.  Traffic was a breeze and 4.5 hours later we made it into town.  Oh!  I forgot to mention I didn't tell my Daddy I was coming.  I wanted to surprise him.  Amazingly, neither of my sisters let on that I was coming.  You'd have to know them to realize how big that was.  Anyway, I drove the whole way and it was OK with the exception of a couple moments of  sleepiness.  Luckily the husband actually agreed to sing along with me. Car singing is always an eye opener. 

We hit town right at 2 o'clock so the husband called my Dad on his cell.  My Dad was so surprised when my husband said, 'We are home.  We will be there in ten minutes.'  I could almost see the shock on his face.  Lol.  It was awesome.  He was out running errands by the time we got to his house but he left the doors unlocked for us so we had plenty of time to get settled in and rest a little.  Once he came he had so much to tell us but I eventually ended his curiosity telling him that I intended on making jelly with him this weekend.  He was surprised.  We'd been talking about this for some time now but I just couldn't seem to find the time to do it whenever we were down.  Well, this trip was just for that.  He was so happy he started going through my Mom's recipes right away trying to find the plum recipe because he knows that's my favorite flavor. 

He was so nervous.  Not that he would admit it but it was obvious.  He showed me the recipe 5 times and kept asking me if I read over it.  I just politely kept telling him yes.  He pulled out every box of jars from the closet.  That night he showed me the jug of plum juice three times asking me if I thought it would be OK sitting out all night to thaw.  Again, I nodded and said yes all three times.  I found it amusing and almost heartbreaking to see my Dad like this.  I knew he would be excited to be doing it but I never expected the nervousness.  I think it was because  this was the first time he would be doing it without my Mom being there. He kept saying things like,' I know your Mama would use a certain amount but I just can't remember how much' or 'I can't remember if she liked to use this pot or that one.'  Each time he would get a little flustered and frustrated because he wanted to do exactly what she would do.  You also have to remember that he had surgery on his brain a couple of years back so sometimes his memory is not as good as he would like.  But I think he's doing just fine. 

Anyway, we got down to jelly making business Saturday night.  My 8-year old niece decided to assist me in documenting this Father-Daughter moment.  She was so excited to have a part and she did quite well.  Rather than continue going on and on about it, I will just show you the pictures.

This is my Daddy. 

This is the plum juice.  It's from wild plums. I don't know the actual name of them.

Contemplating one recipe or two. We decided on one.

I'm 'helping'. Yes I am...


We opted for the 4 pint recipe.

And it begins!

I'm still helping. Truthfully, I was just there to hand him things.

Like handing him themometer, lids, rims, etc.

Yep...steam and stickiness.

We think it's ready.

Skimming the foam.

This was the fun part. I handed him the hot jars by the way.

This is a hot job. See Dad sweat. Or maybe it was nerves.

Giving them a final hot bath.

Voila! Plum jelly. Ain't it purty?

Oh! Can't forget to include the photographer.
  And that's how it went.  We were both so proud of it. I know my Mom would have been grinning from ear to ear seeing us working to get this done.  We only did 4 pint jars but plan on making 12 the next time so that there is plenty to give away.   I'll leave my Mom's recipe ( the one we used).  I promise it will ruin you for store bought jelly. Enjoy!

Mama's Plum Jelly

5 1/2 C Plum juice
1 pkg powdered pectin
7 1/2 C sugar

Combine juice and pectin in large pot.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.  Return to a boil.  Boil hard 1 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.  Fill hot jars leaving 1/2 inch space on top.  Process 5 minutes in boiling water bath. 

Yield:  4 pint jars.