Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mud Bowl Glory

And this is love: that we would get up earlier than a school day to sit & coach in the pouring rain for the love of the game & our kids :-P

And it was sooo worth it: the Falcons won their first game!!! 18-13. It was a true back-and-forth nail biter, with tons of drama, offsetting bogus calls, & even the police cruising over in their golf cart at the end of the game to corral a few unruly adults. (I love Texas football!!!) It was the defense who won this game for us, and Will was at the heart of it all. ♥

WillStats a la Daddy: 8 total tackles, 5 behind the line of scrimmage; 2 sacks; 3 forced fumbles (including 1 where he reached over a blocking back's shoulder and grabbed the QB's sleeve)! So proud of my boy!!!

It was wet & gross...but so very sweet!

We went back to the fields four hours later for my & Annelise's cheer game...and yes, it was still raining. My turn to stand in the pouring wet with no umbrella coaching my squad. Our Texans won, too, which was great, but expected. That Falcons team hadn't won a game in two seasons before we showed up this year, so this day of soaked victory really belongs to them. :-)

Friday, September 28, 2012

School Spirit Bling

A few weeks ago, I scored last year's elementary school spirit shirts at the PTA clearance sale for $2 each - way more reasonable than the $12 standard one this year or the $22 bling version with rhinestones that Annelise asked for. With as often as we have moved, I quite honestly get sick of buying shirts for every team/group/function under the sun, just to have us move and then have them gather dust in the closet. (The only former team or school spirit shirt *ANY* of us have worn has been Will's Lee County Brewers; Will wears his.) Plus, being new here, I wasn't sure how often these elementary spirit shirts would actually get worn. Will wore his Lee County Primary shirt twice: field trip day in October & field day in April. And that's fine. But I'm also not buying the $22 bling shirt for two days! :-P

Turns out that this current elementary is FULL of spirit! (Yay, Texas!!! :-D) EVERY student sports their spirit wear often, and especially on spirit day - which is EVERY OTHER FRIDAY! So not only am I proud that my $2 "vintage" shirts will get a lot of wear, but I also told Annelise that (since she'll wear it so often) I would bling her shirt & matching hairbows myself:

I added the scatter across the top, globe accents, sparkle inside the letters, & a necklace for her koala. :-D
Will included here for "before & after" contrast [he was obviously so happy to pose *sigh* :-P]

So it's a win-win-win: cute bargain deal + tons of wear + a new friend for me! When I was at the PTA sale, a mom I'd talked to once before while walking to school & I began chatting. When I mentioned that I may bling the deal shirt myself, she went into her history of blinging costumes, and we instantly bonded over Swarovski. :-D Her daughter is also in 1st grade, and they also just moved here this year, so we made a bling date and did this together. I mean, really - how can you beat sparkles & new friends? :-)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bonnie Blue Bits

Sweet B finally got to the vet here in Texas yesterday. She was deemed "a fine specimen of her breed, with the most ideal weight on a beagle he had ever seen." :-D Our Old Lady Beagle is 10.5 years old now, but she's in great shape! She takes a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement (Dasuquin) daily with her food, and that's kept her arthritis at bay for over a year. :-)

She got up in Will's booster seat for the ride home :-D

The kids have been begging for B to walk to school with us, but I'd been putting them off, since she wasn't completely updated on her shots. No longer the case:
It was so nice for her in the morning - mid 70's. I wouldn't take her for afternoon pick-up, though, b/c it's still 90°F :-) ♥ The walk is over a mile (0.6 each way), and she did great! (...Except for when she howled as the kids left & disappeared into the building. :-P Didn't anticipate that one! :-D)

Gelish: Red with Gold Glitter

I removed my Gelish Princess Tiara glitter mani early this week, and I replaced it with another loose glitter topper:

I wanted to go back to red, and I was hoping the gold would show some Redskins spirit! :-P The Stand Out red doesn't look as dark (burgundy) as I hoped, even with three layers, but I still love it as a classic red!

I've gotten a lot of compliments on it...although I get a strong Chinese New Year vibe. :-D Not quite Redskin enough, but I'm still pleased with the overall look. :-)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


(I can't believe we haven't posted or even taken more football/cheer pics! I guess that's what happens when both parents coach... :-P)

Friday, September 21, 2012

My Dream Car: Lilly Jeep

Y'all - I have found my dream car...and no, I'm really *NOT* kidding. Look at what I saw in front of the grocery store:

Oh yeah, that's right: a monogrammed Lilly Pulitzer Jeep!!!

Be still, my heart.

I have wanted a Wrangler, but I did absolutely agree that our beloved minivan was the right way to go when Annelise came on the scene. Plus, when we were living up in the frigid north, no way would I EVER consider a drafty convertible. (My first car was an '86 Mustang convertible - midnight blue, tan top.) I am the utter antithesis of a "car person" [ugh!] but I think that means when I actually *do* have any passion towards a vehicle, it needs to be taken as serious biz. :-D The only two cars I've ever professed actual adoration for are the BMW Z3 and the Jeep Wrangler. Now that I've seen this beauty in our actual neighborhood, I realize the choice is clear:

4-door Jeep Wrangler convertible (yes, I know the one pictured is *not*; I am designing my own BETTER version ;-)) with a Lilly print & khaki top (the print will be slightly less obnoxious with the soft top breaking up the pattern more; see, I've reeeeeally thought this out!) and my giant monogram on the spare.

I'm ready, Honey! Whenever the wheels fall off the van, I'll be waiting!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Will's First Election!

Will participated in his very first election yesterday: 3rd grade student council. (Annelise couldn't run; it's only for 2nd-5th grade.) Here's his straight-shooting speech. Could he be the first honest politician?

I love him saying, "if you want less homework, I can't DO that. Student council doesn't give us less or more homework." :-D

I am so proud of him doing this as the new kid & letting everyone know he wants to be their friend. :-) He also specifically wanted to wear a nice collared shirt, so he "would look like a gentleman." :-) There were two other boys running against him, (they vote for one boy & one girl) and one of the other boys is Will's "only & best friend in his class." Bless our precious son's amazing heart: he actually asked *TWICE* whom HE should vote for, his friend or himself? I could have burst. I assured him that yes, he should absolutely vote for himself, that it's not being mean to his friend. I still can't get over that he asked this twice...that it was laying on his heart that much... ♥ ♥ ♥

So what was the election outcome???

WILL WON!!!!! :-D First stop, 3rd grade student council...on the road to Washington D.C.? :-P (He always has liked making rules for other people. :-P ;-) :-D)

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I am obsessed with fragrance. Scintillating, scrumptious scents. I talked with my friend, Emily, about this the other week. When it comes to perfume, I am NOT a big scent changer - smell is a very intense memory-maker for me, & I do not like switching it up. I've only ever had three signature scents - Curve by Liz Claiborne in college, Weekend by Burberry most of the last decade, and L L.A.M.B. by Gwen Stefani the past four years. I flipped out when I discovered L was discontinued; and although I can still get it on Amazon, and I have a little left, I've felt like I need to be ready to replace my signature. I found another scent I LOOOVE - Relax by Lollia - but it totally doesn't last on me. :'( I practically bathe in it (7 or 8 sprays!!!!) and it's still gone in an hour or two. It's sad how much this is bothering me lately... :-P Do I order more L off Amazon while I can still find it, or give up on both that & the truly-delightful-but-short-lived Relax and move on to something totally different? Coach Poppy Blossom caught me a Ulta the other day...

I really like fresh, crisp, clean, & fruity fragrances with soft floral heart notes and a warm finish. Here are the profiles of my former loves! :-D (It sounds like I'm being all :-P but seriously, I think your scent preferences can say a lot of beautiful things about your personality. :-))

Curve's profile -
Top Note: Peach, Cassis, Mandarin, Apricot
Middle Note: Lily Of The Valley, Freesia, Rose, Cyclamen
Base Note: Musk, Amber

Weekend's profile -
Top Note: Green sap, Mandarin, Aromatic Grassy notes
Middle Note: Blue Hyacinth, Iris, Nectarine, Peach Flower, Red Cyclamen, Wild Rose
Base Note: Sandalwood, Cedar, Musk

L L.A.M.B.'s profile -
Top Note: Green Notes, Violet, Water Hyacinth, White Freesia, Fresh Pear
Middle Note: Muguet, Jasmine, Rose, Sweet Pea, Orange Blossom
Base Note: Frangipani, Peach Skin, Heliotrope, Musks

So, I also made the mistake of going into Bath & Body Works the other day w/ another friend...when I didn't technically *need* anything. I've mentioned the kids' obsession with collecting B&BW PocketBac Hand Sanitizers...a collection obsession I do not dissuade...b/c I like smelling all their choices, too!!! :-P I found myself picking out five new ones to "suggest" Annelise chose next time we go together. Mmmmm, Fresh Picked Apricot. And how perfect is Sweet & Sassy for her? See, I can't stop myself.

I am also now utterly obsessed with the B&BW "limited edition" (so I have to buy it nowrightnow before it's gone forever, right?!) French Baguette candle. Holy fresh bread... Not any cloyingly sweet vanilla or fake frosting fragrance, just pure fresh bread. I've never smelled a candle like this before in my life.

I want it.


Problem? I NEVER remember to burn our candles. Ever. If I give into the allure of faux French Baguette, I have to promise myself I'll actually USE it! (Y'all, help me!)

I was also pleased as punch to find out they've brought back my ULTIMATE FAVE home fragrance EVER: Fresh Bamboo. The sales lady said it's back now for good, year-round (she BETTER know what she's talking about!) so I can't wait to have those Wallflowers back in our house this spring! (& by spring, I mean early February!!! :-)) I hope they really *are* still there after Christmas and that I don't regret not buying literally 24 of them right now... #firstworlddilemmas

Am I alone? Does anyone else get all giddy over scents? Do you have one signature perfume, or do you often change it up? What's your favorite B&BW fragrance & product? (Like I need to be further tempted, but I'm curious!)

Edited to add: guess who went back to hit the BOGO candle sale? :-P Mmmm, it smells like a bakery in here right now...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Gelish: Loose Glitter Topping & LED Upgrade

I removed my Texan/USA spirit mani last week, but I forgot to post what Gelish I replaced it with! I used two layers of my light lavender/slightly taupey gray "Princess Tiara" as the color and topped it with some of the loose glitter my BFF Wendy sent me for my bday. :-) I used the "white" (actually clear/rainbow holographic) glitter, which was great, b/c it didn't hide the base color at all, & it doesn't look like dark spots when not directly reflecting light:

[Over a week old]

You could just sprinkle a little glitter, if that's more your style; but everyone knows I like to rock the glitter bomb, so I completely covered my nails. I topped the loose glitter (which stuck to the sticky residue left after you cure each layer) with two top coats. (One would hold the glitter on just fine, but it felt slightly bumpy; the 2nd top coat made all my nails completely smooth.)

I had seen (& LOVED!) this nails inc. cupcake-esque Sprinkles polish at Sephora...but I don't use regular polish, anymore, so no need. Well, surprise! This loose glitter gives almost the same effect, I think b/c of the particle size.

I also upgraded my LED curing lamp! My mom bought the OPI gelshine system at Sephora (same as Gelish, just OPI brand, b/c they had a match to her all-time fave signature color = ideal when it's what you wear all the time and want it to LAST!) when she was here. The only real kit difference was that the OPI came with a 6-watt LED mini professional lamp, instead of mine which came with the 1-watt LED hand-held lamp. The price difference b/t our kits reflected that...but after I used her lamp for my spirit mani, I *KNEW* an upgrade would be worth it! 45 sec vs. 3 min for 15 times (5 layers on right fingers + 5 layers on left fingers + 5 layers on thumbs) = 2/3rds faster to cure! I waited for 20% off at Ulta and bought their Red Carpet 6-watt LED lamp = looooove.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Off My Wall: Sbux Ped Politics Spirit Football Pray

Random shareworthies on my mind and off my FB wall:

* PUMPKIN SPICE IS BACK AT SBUX! ♥ My tall 5-pump chai has transitioned into a tall chai with an extra pump of pumpkin spice.

* We had our first non-well-check ped visit in AGES on Tuesday: Will sounded awful, coughing & like he was having a hard time breathing, on top of the fact that he cut his foot in FIVE places (two really bad) on a rock at the beach the day before. I was ready for us to have to shell out $$$$$$ to replace the albuterol nebulizer our movers *LOST* and for Will to scream his head off again & be scarred for life, having to get his wounds flushed out. Neither was the case! It was a 20-minute total visit; Will was out of school less than an hour. His foot showed no signs of infection & the ped didn't touch it; we just needed to soak it at home. [JB also used his former-player expertise to wrap Will's foot really well all week, so he didn't even miss any football practice!] Then, even as bad as Will sounded, he was NOT wheezing! (Huge!) He had just lost his voice w/ allergies. Both kids are also old enough now to use albuterol in this holding chamber-tube-thing instead of a nebulizer the few times a year they get sick & need the extra intervention; so we did NOT have to buy a new neb, AND Dr. White gave us the chamber & albuterol free samples! Praise the Lord!!!

* Two pics from our arrival Monday at the Pleasure Pier, (pre-foot-cutting. :-P)

* I hate talking politics, b/c I don't believe anything I "argue" will change "the other side's" mind; I feel like it just causes rude rifts in relationships. I do have few political notes, though, but they're not partisan or divisive. :-D
...Read this amazing article - 7 Things Christians Need to Remember About Politics: How to be in the world, not of the world, in a culture of political vitriol. It’s time we talk politics in a way that models the teachings of Jesus rather than mocks them.
...A beautiful convention benediction that echoes my heart - Praying for the Nation
...It was SO COOL to see one of my sweet college girlfriends sitting beside one of *her* oldest BFFs, Chelsea Clinton, Wednesday night at the DNC! I squealed when I saw Elizabeth on TV! :-D

* FURIOUS!!!!!!!!! Someone stole my Redskins cling off the back of our van!!!!!!! I honestly feel violated. AND ANGRY!!!
I can't even blame it on being in cowboys country, b/c this is Texan land, and the Texans HATE the nasty cowboys almost as much as the Redskins do. At least it was in the crazy-crowded grocery parking lot. This would never happen in our neighborhood! This area has TONS of different team logos on cars, b/c youth sports with national team names are HUGE here. I'm chalking it up to some nasty, bitter loser on his way back to dallas. And YES: I am sooooo replacing it!!!

* We were THRILLED to hear the Drew Peterson guilty verdict last Thursday!!! Our BFF Neil was the pastor Stacy Peterson confided in, telling him that Drew killed his 3rd wife, Kathleen...just before she herself disappeared. I was singing with Neil's wife at church when Drew was arrested in May 2009. Over three years later, finally some justice! It has been gut-wrenching for them & everyone - there were so many times we thought Neil wasn't going to be allowed to testify & Drew would get away with it. SUCH RELIEF!!!!!! It's crazy, now that he can speak freely w/o fearing his testimony will be compromised, to see and hear him being interviewed on TV! God is using him in AMAZING ways as an advocate for stopping domestic violence. Pray for his continued strength, (being in the national spotlight is weird!), and that the 1 in 4 women in church who are victims of domestic abuse get access to the kind of support they need, before like Kathleen & Stacy, they become one of the 8 women that die each day at the hands of their abusers.

* I scored each kid "vintage" (last year's) school spirit shirts & also matching hair bows (yay, TX!) for Sis, all for $2 each at elementary curriculum night!!! Waaay better than the $12 or $22 each on the order form that was sent home Wednesday! [It's a little sick, the kick I get out of deals...even when I'm undercutting the PTA! :-P] I felt a little bad that I had told Annelise she could get the new $22 "bling" (w/ sparkly crystals) school spirit shirt, but there was NO WAY I was passing up the $2 shirt instead; so I told her I'd bling this one for her myself! :-D

* Getting up for football on Saturday earlier than we get up for school days is a little messed up :-P but I had my Sbux chai & my full spirit on! JB & Will's Falcons did an AMAZING job, scoring 26 [should have been 34] points and only losing b/c their last TD run was called back on a suspect holding call. Watch out next Saturday, Cowboys... My & Annelise's Texans won - yay!

* Saturday afternoon, I went through Heart Rate Zone Training with my new gym. It was fascinating! I love that they're paying for me to get tons of different training w/ them (heart rate zones, group fitness stuff, CPR, first aid, etc.) - all great! - but I don't think they'll have me teaching regular classes there until at least January. I was disappointed by that at first; but I'll still get my free membership now, I get to sub Zumba, and I can take yoga & do weight training there now to workout, so I can stop practicing Zumba full-out on my own at home (even with good shoes, the tile floor is really starting to bother my feet) and I can just mark my Zumba routines at home to keep up with them. It's actually nice to be getting paid with that membership to just be a sub!

* Who dat?!?! IT'S THE Washington Redskins, BABY!!!!!!! HTTR!!!!!! [Skins wins = happy Sues]

* Finally, today (Sunday) is National Grandparents Day...and my only living grandparent I've ever had is not doing well. Grandmommy is 100 years old (she turned 100 in April!) & is in the hospital. My mom says: "She cannot swallow. A few moments she is sharp, a few very confused, mostly she sleeps." Pray for my fam, for special comfort for my mom, for us being the only non-local immediate fam, (we're 1,100 mi/18 hrs away, & it hurts that we can't just drop by the hospital,) and for God's will to be done. My sweet mom posted on FB: "She is at peace. You be at peace too. God is good." ♥ ♥ ♥ It's funny that Grandmommy is the only one of us I'm *not* hurting for. :-) I know she's right with the Lord and ready whenever He is. I feel really good that the last time we saw her with the kids was right before we moved here/end of June, and she was doing great - we went out to eat, and she was so proud of Will being a baseball player. :-D She told EVERYONE that he plays baseball. ♥ It was quality. :-)

Feel free to copy my "Off my Wall" title picture and link up here at the bottom. :-)

Friday, September 7, 2012


Awesome Andie at Sweet. Southern. Spirited. just bestowed upon my blog the Liebster Award! I love the name: "liebe" in German = love. ♥

The Rules of the Award: The Liebster Award is given to bloggers, by bloggers. It is a way to acknowledge each other and say, "You are doing a great job." It is for blogs with 200 or less followers, so it is also a great way to spread the word about smaller blogs and get them more readers and followers! When you receive the award you post eleven random facts about yourself, and answer eleven questions from the person who nominated you. You pass the award onto eleven other blogs, (make sure you let them know they were nominated,) and ask them eleven questions. You are not allowed to nominate the blog that nominated you.

Sooooo, 11 random facts about me:

1. I am very into local restaurants, any & everywhere we go. I would balk at going to Olive Garden over a local Italian place. I hate most national chain restaurants, esp. bar food places like Applebee's. (I do have a few national exceptions, like The Melting Pot, Papa Murphy's, etc.) We like finding a place and becoming "regulars".

2. Despite my despise of national chains, I am a die-hard Starbucks devotee. I try the chai lattes at EVERY local coffee shop I can find...and NONE are as good as a tall 5-pump Sbux chai.

3. If I were on "The Next Food Network Star", my culinary point-of-view would be salty sweet. My favorite flavors on meat are teriyaki & barbeque, I love pairing fruit & cheese, I adore kettle corn, etc.

4. I make a point of watching the headlines at the top of the hour on the "Today" show and on "NBC Nightly News" every single day, if I'm near a TV. If I miss it, I feel uninformed and out of touch.

5. I was a national anthem singer for Charlotte's hockey team during their championship 1995-96 season. The game crowds I sang before were of almost 10,000 people! (Odd but true: the bigger the crowd, the less nervous I am.)

6. I have danced my whole life, but I CANNOT do gymnastics. I am even terrified of doing a cartwheel. I dream of running across a mat and flipping into a back handspring, but my brain will not let me throw my body over my head. I'm jealous of those who can, esp. when I watch the Olympics or competition cheerleading.

7. I am a museum junkie. I LOVE them, and I love when we take the kids.

8. Thunderstorms are my fave. (The more violent, the better! I don't want anyone or anything to get hurt, of course; but I love them!)

9. I have hypersensitive bitter taste buds, so I hate celery, all peppers, blue cheeses, and pale ales, b/c they are all so bitter to me, I want to gag.

10. I am addicted to the feeling of "shared experience" - anytime anything of consequence comes on TV that's a national or world event, I am completely enraptured. Military pageantry (ceremonies, airshows, etc.) also make me misty.

11. I am ENFP. What are you?

And the 11 questions Andie gave me to answer:

1. What's your favorite color? purple

2. Have you ever been to New Orleans? Yes! The first time was in 11th grade on our Honors US History class trip. We got to pick where we wanted to go...and we surely made the most of it!!! ;-) I had my bachelorette party weekend in NOLA; my bridesmaids were spread out all over the country, so if we were going to have to travel to get together, I wanted it to be to somewhere fun! JB & I also celebrated our 1st anniversary there.

3. If so, did you love it? Absolutely!!! One of my fave cities in America!

4. Favorite food? This is too hard. I love Southern barbeque, Asian dumplings & noodles, Italian pastas, pineapple pizza, Caprese salad with balsamic, stone-ground grits, unique ethnic & fusion cuisine, French fries, sweet potato fries, bean & whole grain salads, fresh bread & bagels, ALL desserts...

5. What would your last meal be? This is too hard, too! Maybe...pulled pork barbeque, corn fritters with tomato jam, and a ton of fried green tomatoes with a huge chocolate malt & salted caramel brownies for dessert.

6. Favorite book? Sarah's Key, The Help, and Rebecca Wells' books

7. Favorite movie? Another hard one for me. Gone with the Wind & Steel Magnolias are my quintessential faves. I love World War II movies, mafia movies, mockumentaries, football movies, & super Southern flicks.

8. Description of your personal style, please! Everything possible monogrammed, Lilly Pulitzer, sparkles & yellow gold, sundresses; but also comfy in classic jeans; not a big tons-of-shoes or purses girl

9. Favorite Candy Bar? Hmmmm... I'm not a big candy bar person; I'd rather have lots of bite-sized candies. But I *have* fallen in love with dark chocolate chili candy bars. Lindt makes a nice one.

10. Favorite Christmas movie? Tie b/t Elf & A Christmas Story

11. Favorite TV Show? Geeze! Also too hard!!! I love TV! Enjoying Everyday Life; reality competitions like The Amazing Race, Survivor, Master Chef, SYTYCD, Top Chef, Project Runway, etc; Downton Abby, The Newsroom, Homeland, Boss, Dexter... I have SO MANY! [And I really miss Friday Night Lights]

Finally, I pass this award on to the following fellow bloggers:
Tracey at Girls to Grow
Liz at Smithical
Nikki at Nikki's Notes
Whitney at Devotionista
Emily at everydayMOM
Emily at Hello Little Peepers
Jackie at Absolutely.Seriously.Fabulous!!
Katie at Blessed By 3 Miracles
Amy at Arrows in My Hands
Phyllis at Just Bcauz
Amy at Plasma Physics Mom

Y'all feel free to list 11 random facts about yourself and answer the following:

1. What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
2. What is the most daring thing you've ever done?
3. What is something you wish you could do better?
4. What are your favorite food flavors?
5. What is your favorite dessert?
6. What is your favorite thing to actually cook?
7. What do you long for?
8. How do you celebrate your favorite holiday?
9. When/how/why did you know your spouse was "the one"?
10. What is your favorite beverage?
11. What is one tradition your family had when you were growing up that you'd like to continue with your family?

I can't wait to read your responses! And thank you, again, Andie!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chuy's Tortilla Soup a la Costco

I am out-of-control obsessed with Chuy's tortilla soup, so now I'm trying to make my own at home. It smells AMAZING!!!

How is this going down? I started by dumping a lot of this into a big soup pot:

* half of a Costco rotisserie chicken (We ate the other half for a dinner; this is the rest, picked off the bone. I also pulled it all part into reasonable bites. The bits of dark meat add so much flavor to the white! And PUH-LEEZE - DO NOT use diced chicken in a can; use a freshly roasted chicken. You don't have to cook it yourself; thank you, Costco! :-))
* four cups of mixed veggies (I always have a big frozen bag from Costco; you can't beat pre-chopped veggies always on hand that won't spoil.)
* one 8 oz bag of steamed Peggy’s Premium Edamame (far left - before I popped them all out of the shells; this is another great Costco item - you get 12 servings of this size in individual microwave steam bags for ~$7. No, Chuy's version doesn't have edamame, but I'm using these in place of the avocado, b/c they're both green, slightly creamy, & I already had this in the freezer!)
* eight cups of water (plus four more I added about half an hour into simmering, b/c it was getting too salty reducing down)
* eight [gianormous] teaspoons of Better than Bouillon organic chicken base (1 tsp + 8 oz of water = chicken stock; my mom turned me onto this stuff - SO MUCH BETTER than any other store-bought stock I've ever tasted! It's quality & lasts for ages; you can also easily add more base (like I did ;-)) for a more intense flavor. Also buy at Costco: in the grocery, an 8 oz jar is the same price as the 16 oz jar at Costco)

From this point, I also added some onion powder (b/c I have no actual onion; if you do, sauté & use it!), garlic powder (b/c I love it), three shakes of cayenne, and maybe 12-15? shakes of Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning. [OK, so I know this isn't sounding very "Mexican" with the garlic & creole, but
1) it's getting just enough heat for my spice-baby-self; you can always add more to suit your personal taste.
2) I hate peppers, (but if you don't, please add away!)
3) Chuy's tortilla soup is purely chicken-based: NO tomato paste or salsa. If you want it tomatoey (& I *do* LOOOOVE tomatoes! Just not for this copy-cat attempt) add a can or two of diced tomatoes, tomatoes with peppers & Mexican spices, or a jar of salsa. I'm sure it would be great.]

I simmered all this, tasting often (which is how I knew to add more water when it was getting too salty) for an hour or so. The actual minutes don't really matter. Just know the longer the ingredients sit together, the better it will taste. :-)

To serve, I will add some halved grape tomatoes (see! getting my fresh tomatoes in, instead of cooking them down :-)) and freshly shredded white Mexican cheese (queso fresco). Something about that cheese melting in the soup just makes it... Chuy's also adds tortilla chip strips on top and serves with a fresh tortilla on the side (like a bread accompaniment), but we're out of chips, and I *do* have fresh whole wheat tortillas from the tortillaria inside our grocery (heaven!!!), so I'll just serve with those.

Mmmmmmmmmmm... Time to eat!!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier

With football dominating our every weekend now through November, we really wanted to take advantage of this Labor Day holiday to do something special. For me, summer = beach, and there is no other location on earth that makes me feel happier & more alive! I couldn't imagine us living less than an hour & a half from the beach now and *not* having gone even once this whole summer!!! That is now remedied...

See that amazing amusement park behind us on the pier? That's the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, where we spent the rest of our day! Looking across at the pier from our table at lunch:

Teacups, log flume, frog hopper, carousel, & swings:

What we don't have pictures of are the big, scary rides we conquered! (I couldn't hold my camera during the action to get any! :-P) Will really surprised me: at *HIS* behest, I rode the Iron Shark rollercoaster with him. It was officially the SCARIEST coaster I've EVER ridden!!!!! Scarier than ANYTHING at Cedar Point, Carowinds, etc. "The Iron Shark will attack when least expected with its 100-foot vertical lift and beyond-vertical drop. Tracking at 52 miles per hour, the vehicles will glide the 1,246-foot coaster track which includes a diving loop, a greater than vertical drop and four full inversions." The first 100 feet straight up was the worst...and what made it scarier than ANYTHING was me thinking, "OMIGOSH - if I feel like I'm going to slip backwards out of this car and fall out, how much closer to that actually happening must my tiny 8-year-old baby be next to me?!?!?!" :-D :-P

Annelise's daredevil choice was the Galaxy Wheel: the 100-foot-high giant ferris wheel at the end of the pier. It was surprisingly smooth and relaxing!!! Our ride was just us girls, and the view was spectacular!

Finally, Will blew me away with his riding the Cyclone: "Test your courage on our 60-foot tall looping coaster ride. Go head over heels at 25 miles per hour while rotating forward and backward." *I* would never ride that! It holds for a second at 60 feet up upside down! :-O I'm glad he decided to ride that while Annelise & I were on the Rock N Roll coaster, b/c I probably would have dissuaded him. :-P

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Houston Museum of Natural Science

Thanks to four sets of tickets from a blog friend, our family got to experience the Houston Museum of Natural Science and Cockrell Butterfly Center this Sunday. We drove right downtown after church - so quick & easy: 30 minutes - and ate at Bodega's Taco Shop before beginning our adventure...

In the Cockrell Butterfly Center:
[Patiently waiting for butterflies to land on us...]
[They landed on Daddy!!!]

In the Hall of Paleontology:

And the Egyptian exhibit: