Saturday, July 28, 2007

Happy 50th Birthday Tina - My Dear Friend

Tina has been a friend for a long time. Pops went Jr. High with Tina and I met her about 20 years ago when she moved next door to me. We used to have so much fun. Our kids were all about the same age and we all spent a lot of time together.

She was only my neighbor for about 5 years when she moved a couple of miles away. The distance didn't keep us apart. We talk on the phone regularly to catch up on the latest details of family life and have lunch at Celebrity Bakery often. Her son Matt and his wife Missy now live down the street from Jennifer and Lamar. It is fun to watch them repeat our early days.

Tina comes from a family of 6 girls. She and I could write a book about the events that have happened in our families over the last 20 years. At times it has been extremely dramatic, but God has seen us through the tough times and it has been so much fun.

Tina will be 50 on August 1st. That sounds so old!!! We celebrated a little early yesterday with a lunch at Al Biernat's. We had a great day. The table looked awesome with the huge bouquet of flowers, letting everyone know something special was going on at that table.

We ate great food along with the gorgeous dessert tray that they brought out. It was almost too pretty to eat. We left the restaurant at about 3:00, but we could have stayed longer talking if they hadn't closed at 2:30. We had a little detour on the way home because of the crazy driver. With massive construction on Oak Lawn, I went straight in the poorly marked right turn only lane and got pulled over by a cop along with 4 other people. Even with my carload of friends, we could not come up with a good enough excuse to talk our way out of a ticket.

Happy Birthday Tina!!!

Friday, July 27, 2007

It's A Small World Out There

I am obsessed with blogs. I am reading them and finding new ones every day. It is like reading a book to me. It is finding out about what is going on in someones life, their deepest struggles and their triumphs. After reading a while, you feel like you know these people. I think a lot of times, people are more open on a blog than they are in real life. Blog readers "know" some of these people better than their close friends.

Every morning, I get up, drink my coffee and visit all of my regular blogs to find out what is going on in their lives. It is funny because some of my IRL friends also read the same blogs and we talk about these people like they are our next door neighbor.

That leads me to what a small world this. It is amazing how I can read a blog from someone in California and one of their regular readers is someone I read regularly. (I know this by reading their sidebar, but I am too technologically challenged to figure out how to add a sidebar). Everyone has some kind of connection somewhere. (Everyone seems to know BooMama). I have a new blog obsession I will tell you about.

For 8 years, our family was a "Transitional Care" family for The Gladney Center. It is a fancy title for volunteer foster parents. If a baby, for legal reasons, could not go directly to the adoptive parents, it would come live with us. Most of the time, I would pick them up at the hospital, some being less than 24 hours old. We would keep them until the legal work was complete, anywhere from a few days to 3 1/2 months. During the 8 year period, we took care of 60 newborns. It was very exhausting, but one of the greatest experiences of my life. I loved every minute of it. That being said, I love babies.

During my blog reading, I have found several blogs of triplets and quadruplets. These are so fun to read. If they have already delivered, I go back to their first post and read from the beginning. It is just like reading a book. (I have been known to bring my laptop to bed with me). I am currently anxiously awaiting the birth of quads from an adorable girl named Suz that lives in my area. Karen is expecting triplets any day now. I also recently found two more girls, Joy and Amy that just found out they are pregnant with triplets.

Another thing about the "bloggy world" is that you feel a connection to these people and pray for them. Prayer is powerful and we all can use all the prayers we can get. If you visit their blogs, please be sure to lift them up. I am sure they will be grateful!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hard Eight BBQ

We tried Hard Eight BBQ in Coppell tonight. As we pulled up, I was very impressed with the building and the whole concept. The building is huge with a large wrap around porch for outdoor seating.

When you walk up, you are on the covered patio with the huge smokers. At the smoker, you choose the meat or meats you want; sausage, Jalapeno sausage, brisket, 1/2 chicken, ribs, cabrito (yes it is goat), turkey, ribeye, 2" thick pork chop, etc. You can order from 1 slice to "by the pound." Your meat is weighed and then you take it inside. I tried the brisket, both sausages, the ribs and chicken. It was all good, especially the ribs.

Once you walk inside, the homey concept ends. As you proceed down the line, you choose your sides, dessert and condiments. Everything comes in prepackaged bowls with lids and labels. Luby's cafeteria is fancier than that. It would require an extra employee, but it would be much better to have the sides and desserts in large serving pans and dishing it up as you order it (like Luby's). Plastic containers and lids just takes away the ambiance.

They serve a huge pot of complimentary pinto beans. They were a little on the bland side. I also tried the potato salad and the cornbread salad, along with the jalapeno corn. The cornbread salad and the corn were exceptionally good.

I was a little disappointed in the bread and the BBQ sauce. The bread was a bag of Mrs. Baird's sitting on each table and the BBQ sauce was good, but it was in a squirt bottle on the table. It would have been much better served hot in a self serve container.

All that said, I will give it another try. I understand that they have jalapeno sourdough buns for their sandwiches. That's next for me.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I Have Finally Found "My Dish"

We have been to Al Biernat's several times and I have tried several different dishes, trying to find something I really like. I has all been good, but just nothing to "die over". Last night, I finally found my perfect combination.

First of all, the bread basket is wonderful. They usually have at least 3 different breads, one of them being 3 Chili Cheese Bread which is on of my favorites at Eatzi's. I started with a tossed salad. The salad was mixed greens tossed with Thousand Island Dressing, not too much, and topped with blue cheese crumbles. It was delicious.

I had Dr. Phil's favorite, the Sea Bass served on Lobster Risotto. It was perfect. The fish was thick, moist and flaky. It had a sweet buttery taste to it.

For dessert, we split the chocolate moulten cake. It is a small round piece with a crispy sugar coating with hot chocolate sauce in the middle topped with vanilla ice cream. I am not a "death by chocolate" person and this is just perfect.

I am going to go back on Friday for lunch for Tina's 50th Birthday. Can't wait!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bad Experience At Pappasito's

Pappasito's (in Ft. Worth) is one of our favorite Mexican food restaurants. We took the whole family Sunday night to celebrate Lamar's 29th Birthday. Unfortunately, it was one of our worst experiences. You would have thought it was extremely busy, but it was very empty. Once we sat down, it took forever to get our drinks, chips and hot sauce.

Most of us decided to order our regular, the "Delmar". It is fajitas with brochette shrimp that are stuff with cheese and jalapenos and then wrapped in bacon and grilled. When we ordered, the waiter told us they were out of shrimp. All of us except Janelle and Jordan ended up ordering the fajitas.

We had to beg for drinks, although I don't know how he didn't see that we had empty glasses. Since he never once took anything off the table, we ended up with 18 glasses sitting on the table along with all of the empty baskets from chips (that were never refilled).

When we finally got our food, we sat there for another good 10 minutes waiting for tortillas. When the manager brought the last of the food, we asked for tortillas and he responded very rudely and it was forever before we got any.

He brought out Jordan's dinner, which was completely wrong and it had the brochette shrimp on it that we were told they were out of.

Since the waiter never removed a single plate, basket or glass, the table looked like a complete disaster area. At least the food was good, because the service was the worst! It is a good thing we love Pappasito's because this experience would make me never want to come back.

Happy Birthday Lamar, aka "My Daddy" and "Damar".

Monday, July 16, 2007

Isn't She Adorable!

Landrie and Justin were in Brian and Melissa's wedding this weekend. We were out of town (poor planning on my part) so I didn't get to see them all dressed up, but did get to see some pictures. I can't wait to see the rest because she is so adorable.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Viva Las Vegas - Hello Bellagio

We just got home last night from a great trip to Las Vegas with Jim and Kathy and Tom and Donna. I am usually a 3 night per trip person, but when I go to Vegas, I am always wishing for a couple of more days.

We stayed at my favorite hotel. We arrived Wednesday morning and spent the next 3 days at the pool. Although it was 109 degrees outside, with 6% humidity it just doesn't seem that hot. We had a cabana that had misters so when you wanted to stay out of the sun, it was very comfortable.

We ate lots of good food. The only place I didn't eat at that I wanted to was Smith and Wollensky's, but there was not enough time. You can only stuff in so much food.

Wednesday night, we saw Danny Gans. That was my third time and I think the absolute best. He is awesome. We saw the Beatles show "Love" the second night and none of us were too thrilled. It didn't match up with the rave reviews. Friday night we saw "O". It was my second time and it was much better than the first. The first time, I tried to "follow the story" and there wasn't any story and I missed all of the production. The performers are unbelievable.

The only game I played was the nickel slots. There is one particular machine at the Bellagio that is still in the same spot and that is the only one I play. The first night just before dinner, I decided to check it out. I put in $5 and won $125.

It was a great trip and I can't wait to go back again soon.

Justin and "The Girls"

I am a little slow posting pictures, but here is Justin with Karsyn and Landrie last week at Babe's.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My Restaurant Pet Peeves

I love salt. I am not one of those who automatically salts my food before tasting, but I don't have any problem adding it until it tastes just right. Sometimes I do go a little overboard. I could probably drop my blood pressure medicine if I lost the salt shaker, but I would rather just take a little pill and enjoy my food.

I have decided that some waitstaff in restaurants don't want you to use the salt. If you do, then that means at the end of the day, they have to refill it and they don't like to. They will pack it in so tight, that nothing will come out. At Blue Mesa, they use sea salt and it is so large, it won't fit through the holes of the shakers. My favorite shakers are the new "grinders" that a lot of restaurants are using. The salt is fresh and comes out easily and it has a cap on it so hopefully if parents let their children play with it, their slobber doesn't get on the inside. How many times have you tried to get salt out of a shaker only to discover it is damp and stuck? I hate to think about what made it damp.

When I drink tea at a restaurant, I add Equal until I get it just right. I hate it when I am not paying attention and the waiter fills it up and messes with my mix. It takes time to get it just right again. I had a really nice waiter at La Hacienda Ranch last week ask me if it was okay before he filled it up. That was a first.

Another pet peeve is if my Dr. Pepper is empty and I don't have anything to drink, please just bring me another one. You don't need to ask, just bring it anyway.

A bad smelling restaurant will make me want to run out of the door fast. A seafood restaurant that smells is scary. A old musty smell makes me worry about the condition of the kitchen. Very rarely will I ask to be moved when seated, but a seat close to the bathroom will make me bolt quickly. At La Hacienda Ranch, there are several tables close to the bathroom. They have a very strong deodorizer that they use, so when you are at those tables, you don't smell fajitas, you smell deodorizer.

Last but not least, is when I don't order alcohol with my meal and I am given the snub. We go to a lot of nice restaurants. When you refuse the wine list, you can see the look on the waiters face. "Why did I get these people at my table. There goes the good tip I was hoping for." I give good tips, even when you have an attitude and don't give me good service. I will make it worth your while.

I would love to be a restaurant consultant. Eating out as much as we do, I definitely have strong opinions about dining experiences and service.

Monday, July 9, 2007

2 New Ones and an Oldie Revisited

I survived July 4th/birthday week. This is almost like Christmas for me. For the past 20 years, I have had the July 4th party along with birthday celebrations for Justin and Janelle. I have always tried to make everyones birthday their special day.

Friday night, Pops and I wanted to eat some place different, so we tried a new place to us in Haltom City on Denton Highway called "The Wooden Nickel." When we pulled up, I wasn't sure I wanted to go there. It could use a little "fluffing" on the outside. When we went inside, the first thing Pops said to me was, "this place smells musty." He got the words out before I could. That is one of my famous phrases when going into an old restaurant. I am always concerned when the smell of "mustiness" out smells the food.

The food was actually pretty good. The inside was also pretty run down. If the food was served at a better location, I would probably go back. I had the catfish and Pops had the "smoked brisket."

Saturday night, for Janelle's birthday, we went to Babe's in Carrollton. It was sooooo good and soooo fattening. Everything was good, especially the corn. Babe's is in an old building, but I didn't smell any "mustiness" at all.

Last night, we decided to try Pappa's Burger. I must say, I was a little shocked by the prices. Now I don't mind dropping some $$$$ for good food, but $9.75 for a hamburger is a little steep. The ordering set up is kind of strange too. You walk in the door and order, get your bill and your drink and then find your own table. Your waiter comes to your table and then asks if you want additional food and then brings your food and your check. Not only are you paying big bucks for a burger, but you also pay $2.25 for a drink + tax and tip. That is $15+ for a hamburger.

The buns were really good, but I do not like thick meat. The hamburger pattie was barely seasoned and tasted like a just a big old blog of meat. The french fries were okay. I probably won't go back.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Happy Birthday Janelle

My baby girl turned 20 today, 07/07/07. I can still remember the day she was born. She has turned in to a beautiful sweet girl and I am so proud of her. She will be starting her junior year at college in August. She works for a clothing store in Southlake in her spare time and she is always getting recognized for her accomplishments. Just this week, she was recognized for having the most credits in the district. Way to go Janelle.

It is hard to believe that I don't have any teenagers anymore. I have had one for the past 15 years. I guess that means I am getting old. I can't keep pretending that I am 40 when all my kids are in their 20's.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Time Travel Tuesday - Your Wedding Day

Annie at "My Life As Annie" is hosting Time Travel Tuesday. The prompt is to travel back in time and visit your wedding day.

Pops and I met when we were 15. All I wanted to do was get married and have babies. I got engaged when I was 20, and married at 21. My Dad told us that if we would get married at home, he would give us the money that he would spend on the wedding. We used it as a down payment for our first house.

All we wanted to do was get married and be together. We didn't want a honeymoon. We just wanted to be in our house. It was supposed to be finished around the first of November. We chose November 24th as our wedding date to allow for any delays. Unfortunately, the house was not finished because it was in the middle of deer hunting season.

We had a nice wedding and reception at home with a few close friends and family members. We went to dinner at "The Keg", which was our favorite special occasion place at the time. We decided to spend the night at "The Green Oaks Inn". We got up the next morning and went Christmas shopping all day. We had to go back to my parents house and stay there for a week. It was kind of crazy because my sister and her husband and my grandmother were also living there. One big happy family.

One of the funniest memories I have about my wedding day is that my mother-in-law asked Pops that morning if he wanted her to buy him some pajamas and a robe. He has not owned a pair of pajamas since he was in elementary school.

It has been almost 29 years and we are having a blast!

Happy Birthday Justin

My only son turned 25 yesterday. He is so much fun and I am so proud to be his Momma. From about 16 to 23 he lived a rough life. He lived on the edge and life was a constant party. Partying can be a great thing, but not the way he partied. He finally decided at about 23 1/2 that this was not the lifestyle God had intended him to live and he made some major changes. I still think it is funny that even though he was not living like I wanted him to, he called every single day, at least once.

He used to promise me he would quit partying when he graduated from college, but he continued a while longer. I am proud of the person he has become. He has a great job, has started a landscaping business on the side and just bought his dream truck. All he needs is a good woman. I have been his woman for the past 25 years and I am ready to hand that job off to someone else, and he is too.

We had a fun party last night with Marc and Tiffany and their family. After the party, Marc, Steven and Justin went to the tattoo parlor against my wishes. Thank you Marc for talking him out of it AGAIN.

Justin has never had a birthday cake, because he doesn't like cake. We have had lots of pies and ice cream desserts. Sandra, an interior decorator that shares office space with Justin is always bringing him food and she brought him a Strawberry Cake that he loved, so he wanted me to make it for his birthday. It was so good. Here is the recipe:

Strawberry Cake

1 Duncan Hines Strawberry Supreme Cake Mix
2 10 oz. packages of frozen strawberries, thawed
1 small package of instant vanilla pudding
1 C. milk
1 8 oz. Cool Whip

Make cake according to the directions in a 9 x 13 pan. Bake and cool. Poke several large holes in the cake with a wooden spoon handle. Puree strawberries with juice in a food processor. Evenly spread on cake. Mix pudding with milk and fold in Cool Whip. Spread on cake. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Happy Birthday Justin

Fun Summer

It is hard to believe that 5 days ago, I was relaxing on the beach in La Jolla. It only takes about 24 hours to come back home and get back to the real world and forget how fun and relaxing your time away was. The only negative about my traveling is that while I am laying on the beach, Pops is working. We need to add on a couple of days so he can relax too.

We are going to Vegas soon, so he will get to do his favorite thing, which is lay out by the Bellagio pool and read. This trip will be extra fun because we are going with Jim and Kathy and Tom and Donna. I can't wait.

The rest of the summer, it looks like we will be going to San Francisco again, San Diego two more times, Philadelphia and Vancouver. Although Pops has to work, he does love having a dinner companion at night and someone to sleep with. :)

I am hoping the weather will calm down. I don't know how many more stressful flights I can take. When we were at the airport at DFW on Tuesday, we were watching the planes stack up and NOT take off. After an hour, they had still not moved and we counted 30, but we could not see the whole runway, plus there are several runways. I got a little nervous. They still loaded us up and took us out to wait. I took 2 pills before I got on and then took 2 more after the pilot said there were 40 ahead of us and not moving. I was so relaxed and sleepy that I didn't even care. The AC was on full force and I slept a bunch. I even slept in the car on the way to the hotel. I was quite happy!!!!

On our way home, we were delayed by 1 1/2 hours, but we were waiting in the airport, so that wasn't as bad. I hope the rain will stop after this week and we will be smooth sailing the rest of the summer.