Thursday, February 25, 2010

Restaurant Smells

I have been given the "gift" of a great sense of smell. That can be good, and it can be bad.

I think smelling great food sometimes triggers me to overeat. I can be completely satisfied after a meal and smell dessert cooking, and that immediately triggers a desire for the dessert. That desire usually does not go away until I taste that dessert.

If I cook, which is a very rare occurrence these days, I will usually close my bedroom door and light a candle in there, so that the lingering smell of the meal will not be noticeable. If it is still lingering, I will wake up in the middle of the night and smell it all night long.

Now for restaurant smells. When I go into a Mexican restaurant, I expect to have a strong smell of Mexican food. When I go to an Italian restaurant, I expect to have a strong smell of Italian food. If I don't, I am immediately suspicious about the restaurant. If it doesn't smell like the food they are cooking, it may not measure up to my standards.

On the contrary, I have to be really prepared to go to two of my favorite restaurants, because I know when I leave there, EVERY part of my clothing and hair will stink. That would be La Hacienda Ranch and Pappasito's. Like I said, they are my two favorites. When we are making a decision about whether to eat there, I have to decide, "is it worth the smell?" We don't wear coats in there, or a scarf, or anything that can't be laundered. Sometimes, we will leave our clothes in the garage so they don't smell up the house.

But . . . the WORST smell for me is industrial soap. I have a big aversion to public bathrooms, and it is partly because of the smell of the soap. We are very easy customers to please, never send food back, don't complain if we don't like it, but if I am seated close to the bathroom, I will ask to move. It was kind of comical, but there was a period of time that it seemed like every time we went out to eat, we were automatically seated by the bathroom. I finally got bold enough to start asking to be moved.

If Pops has used the soap and is sitting across from me in the car or restaurant, I can smell it. We will be in the car and he will lovingly stroke my cheek or run his fingers through my hair. My response should be, "I love you", but it is usually, "You used the industrial soap, get your hands away from me!!!"

Gotta love a great nose!

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Show Us Your Ministry

I am participating in the link party at Kelly's Korner Blog. I am not doing this to say, "Hey look at what I am doing, aren't I great?", but I am doing it because the organization that I have chosen as my ministry desperately needs more volunteers. My hope is that others reading this, will have the same desire that I did, and volunteer with this organization. They are in desperate need of volunteers.

The following is a copy of a post that I wrote last June as I was starting my training:

Fifteen years ago, I started a volunteer "job" that was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had in my life. It was also very rewarding for my entire family. For eight years we were a Transitional Care Family for The Gladney Center. We took care of newborns until their legal work was complete for adoption. We had 60 babies during our eight years, and we all loved it so much.

Many nights of interrupted sleep finally took its toll on me. I also knew that I would be having grandchildren soon and didn't want to be "burned out", so I resigned. I still think about returning, but I know that it would be hard to do now at this stage of my life.

I have been looking for a volunteer opportunity for quite a while now. The problem is that I could not find anything that was the perfect fit. I volunteered at a couple of places where I was in a back room doing "busy work."My last volunteer job was brutal. I would arrive on time and the person I was working for would not be there yet. When she arrived, she would always say, "Oh my goodness, I didn't realize it was Wednesday. Come back here and let me see if I can find you something to do." It would be something that would keep me busy for three hours, only to be shoved aside until the next time she couldn't find anything for me to do. It was just busy work and didn't make a difference. After 6 weeks, I decided that sitting at home and watching TV would be better than that. Rather than my work helping out and making a difference for them, they were trying to find something to keep me busy.

I was watching TV recently (Dr. Phil Show), and I heard that they needed CASA volunteers
. Dr. Phil and Robin are the national spokespersons for CASA. When I read the description of what is involved, I knew it would be perfect for me. A CASA is a court-appointed special advocate for children who have been removed from their home because of abuse and neglect. In these cases, CPS removes the child from their home. There is the CPS caseworker, the attorney for the parents, and ad-litem attorney for the child and possibly other professionals involved in the case. These professionals all have a huge case load and to them the child is a "case" and not a delicate human being.

As a CASA, I will be assigned to a child as his/her personal advocate. I will visit the child, go to parent visitations for observation, go to his/her foster home, talk with Dr.'s and teachers and most importantly the child and find out what is in the best interest of the child for a forever family. I will also "investigate" to see if there are other possible family members that would be willing to care for and provide a loving environment for the child. From there, I will attend court hearings and make recommendations to the Judge, along with the professionals.

I am SO excited. Besides the fact that it will make a difference in the children's lives, I will be doing all of the things that I enjoy; investigation, legal, court and talking to lots of people. I can't wait to get started.I have passed the application, recommendation, interview and preliminary background process. (I was clear on my last criminal check for grand jury in the fall and I don't think I have committed a felony since then, so I will probably pass). The next step is 30 hours of training that starts mid July, and then 2 times of court observation. I will get sworn in by Judge Boyd and then I will get my first case.

I got my first case in August, and it has been everything I thought it would be and more. It has been frustrating, heartbreaking, gut wrenching and made me smile. I love that I feel like I have helped make a difference in several people's lives. I wish I could write about some of my experiences, but the cases are confidential. Confidentiality has also caused me much grief. There have been people that are in bad situations that could have been remedied, with just a little bit of help. Unfortunately, I have had to say "I'm so sorry, I can't." That is hard to do when the reason you are doing this is to help people. That has been one of the hardest parts of this job.

On a happy note, who do I feel like I have helped?

The foster children

The 2 sets of foster parents

The CPS case worker

The parents of the children

Why would I not love a ministry like this? I hope this inspires someone else to check into the life changing work of becoming a CASA. Right now in Tarranty County, there are 300 children that are waiting for volunteers so that they can have a CASA.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010


When we go to restaurants, we usually order the same dish. We find the dish we like and don't change from that. For me personally, it seems like if I try something new, it is never as good as my favorite, and I am disappointed. I have thought about doing a "best of" for a while, but I think the list could go on. So, here are a few of our favorites:

Burrito – Chipotle
Fried Chicken – Babes
BBQ – Smokey’s and Salt Lick
Crab Dip – Hibiscus
Mole Enchiladas – Lupe’s
Pizza – Palio’s
Upscale Pizza – Fireside Pie’s
Cheesecake – Fireside Pie’s
Burgers – Simply Burgers, Clown Burger
Cranberry Chicken Salad – Celebrity Bakery
Vanilla Thumbprint Cookies – Celebrity Bakery
Fajita’s – Pappasito’s
Salad Bar – Jason’s
Crawfish Chicken – Water Street Seafood
Mexican Breakfast – Mi Tierra in San Antonio and Esparanza’s
Donuts – Krispy Kreme
Meatloaf – Dixie House
Cinnamon Roll – Dixie House
Steak – Nick and Sam’s and La Hacienda Ranch
Seafood – Pappadeaux
Deli – Jason’s
Sandwich Shop – Firehouse Subs – The Italian
Gourmet Mexican Food – Javiar’s
Favorite Seafood Pasta Dish – Chef Point – Blacked Catfish
Brunch – Blue Mesa
Italian – Maggiano’s
Bread – Logan’s or Texas Roadhouse

Have I missed anything?

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Fun Valentine's Weekend - Way Too Much Food

Since we started our Valentine holiday on Thursday, it made for a long, but fun celebration weekend.

For my gift, I got some roses and a spa gift certificate. Can't wait to use it. I got Pops a shirt and a book. The shirt was a replacement shirt for one of his favorites that got ruined at the cleaners.

Sidebar here: A couple of weeks ago, he spoke at an annual meeting for a group in Austin. There were approximately 250 people in attendance. He had picked up his clothes from the cleaners and they went straight into his baggage. About an hour before he was to speak, he started getting dressed and realized that he had a 2 inch rip in the fabric just to the side of his collar. He only brought one dress shirt, and there was not enough time to go buy a new one. I think it bothered me way more than him. I reassured him that it "didn't look bad". I asked him if anyone mentioned it and he said no, and that he had forgotten about it completely. Lesson learned: always check your wardrobe before you pack, and take an extra shirt and pair of pants.

We started our celebration Thursday with lunch at Rise. All weekend long, when we have received the bill for our meals, the joke has been that each one was half the price as Rise. But Rise was definitely worth it and we will go again.

Thursday night we went to Lupe's for some Mexican food because it was so cold and snowy. Friday night we went to Saltgrass Steakhouse. Saturday we went to Mi Chula with Justin and Shannon and we finished off Sunday big. We went to Ft. Worth for breakfast at Esparanza's and then to Frisco to Maggiano's for dinner.

It was all so good, but I am getting ready to pay for it big time at the gym.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Unexpected Treat

Yesterday in Texas, we had a unbelievable snow storm. When it snows, everything comes to a halt. All of my plans for the day got cancelled. I am not one to let anything stop me, so I made alternative plans.

There is a really neat restaurant in Dallas, Rise No. 1, that I have been wanting Pops to try. I was a little reluctant to take him for two reasons. The number one reason is that they don't take reservations for parties under 5, and it is always extremely crowded. The second reason is that they serve souffles. That is not really a hearty man's meal.

With the snow day, I was trying to think of someplace unique to go. I thought it would be the perfect day to go to Rise. I figured everyone would stay home and we wouldn't have to wait. Wrong! It was just as crowded as it normally is. Our option was to wait at least 45 minutes, or sit on the patio. The patio was covered with an awning and plastic sides, but there were heaters outside. We opted for the patio and it was so cool. It was snowing so hard and it was so neat to just sit outside and watch the snow fall down.

Pops had a cup of onion soup and I had the Rise salad. He had the crawfish souffle and I had the ham and cheese souffle. For dessert we split a raspberry souffle. He loved it!!! The atmosphere is awesome. The only warning I have, is be sure and bring lots of $$$, or take out a bank loan. It is not priced like your typical lunch. It is pretty pricey.

We decided this meal would be the start of our Valentine holiday. Can't wait to see what else is to come!

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Love Second Chances

When we try a new restaurant, we usually have one of three thoughts. We love it, we have just given it two chances - the first and the last, or it was just okay, but worthy of a second chance.

The first time we went to Mi Chula's in Southlake, we thought it was just okay. Nothing bad, but nothing great either.

A few months later, we decided to give it a second chance, and I am so glad that we did. It is now one of our favorites. I don't know if they got some kinks worked out, or if we just ordered differently and found our favorites. The "extra good queso", yes that is the name, is great. The hot sauce is very different and very good. We now always get the chicken flautus. The guacamole that comes with it is delicious. Oh, and don't let me forget the dessert. At Mi Chula's, we can't leave without getting dessert.

The sopapillas just might be the reason that we are so smitten with Mi Chula's. They cook them just as you finish your meal. The are little bitty squares, about the size of donut holes, dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon and served with a cup of honey for dipping. Oh my gosh, can I just tell you how great they are???

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

I Made It Without My Hubby

I am joining the party at Shanty2Chic this month. I finally have something new to post.

About 2 1/2 years ago, when Jordan got her new office, she asked me to make a collage for her. I bought the paper and several bits of bling to go on it. At the time, I just didn't feel like doing it. I even pulled all the stuff out about 6 months ago to work on it, and just couldn't.

Finally, last week, I decided to do it no matter what. Now that it is finished, I can look at it and see so many things that I would have done differently, but it is all glued on with Gorilla Glue and there is no changing it now.

I started out with a 24 x 36 inch canvas. I attached torn paper that had been inked on all of the edges. Tearing the paper is rough on your fingers. I attached it with Mod Podge and then put Mod Podge all over it. When dry, I painted the edges and tried to give it a distressed look with some more paint. I then put more Mod Podge on it and let it dry. Then it was bling time. It doesn't show up very well in the picture, but it has crystal swirls on the canvas as well.

The "party" starts at 9:00 p.m. tonight. Go check it out at You will get some great ideas.

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