Mmm, ceviche!

Yesterday, I had a work lunch at the new Yelapa Playa Mexicana restaurant on Richmond and Kirby in Houston. Chef LJ Wiley made us a ceviche sampler, and would you just look at how pretty it is? Mmm, good.


Friendly Estates

You know that person who you just love spending time with? A friend with whom conversations occasionally don't even need to be spoken because you're always on the same page; a person who shares so many of your same interests, that you can hang out all day and never get bored; the one who you call up after time has gone by and it feels like you talked just yesterday.

I am blessed to have several of those friends in my life!

Recently, I spent an evening, night and morning with one of 'em. My friend, Lisa Hunter, and I have been pals since we met randomly at Texas State University as college kids on the hunt for a roommate. We hit it off right away and have been good friends ever since. Many of our low-key week nights in school were spent cooking dinners then sharing a package of Swiss Cake rolls while watching Sex & the City. And of course she's been to countless Roger Creager concerts with me, one of our still-favorite things to do!

Sheryl Crow concert
Friday night we headed up to the Woodlands Pavilion to see Sheryl Crow, thanks to a free pair of tix from a mutual friend of ours. Unfortunately, I have to say that I wasn't already the biggest SC fan and I'm even less so after that show. It wasn't very full and she seemed pretty "lackluster" the whole time, mumping around stage and doing some wierd arm dance most of the night. But we weren't too bothered, since the weather was perfect with a cool breeze wafting over the crowd with our ice cold margaritas in hand.

Lisa & I post-concert
We ended the night with a Blockbuster run for some candy, popcorn and The Hangover. I could watch a movie every day - I love being cuddled under a blanket on the couch with a Diet Coke and a huge bowl of salted popcorn with a cat or two of mine curled at my feet. :)

The next morning (after a taquito run through Whataburger, of course) Lisa took me to my first estate sales. It was so much fun! Both she and her husband hit up the sales on the occasional weekend, finding killer bargains on dishes, furniture and home decor. You truly never know what you're going to find. It's interesting, and a bit sobering, to walk through someone's house with all the cupboards and closets opened and on display, everything priced to sell. I was so proud of myself for haggling down the prices on everything I purchased, go me!

Here's what I got:

A red, white and blue metal candle holder. Perfect for breaking out on the 4th!
My husband warns me not to put too much "antique-y" stuff in our house. 
But I do like to decorate at Christmas with a small dose of patriotic country pride!
Old-school cognac glasses from the State Line of Nevada. 
At 25 cents each, these can be used on more casual nights 
when I don't wanna break out the crystal!
Patriotic dip and chip dish. Notice a theme yet!?
I loved these old-school card boxes. Real wood, holds two decks each and 
features some pretty cool engraving work, if you ask me.
An old checkbook from Maryland.
A vintage American cookbook from the 1960s.
I love the cookbook's dedication. Thank goodness for all those faithful eaters!
A wooden flag tray, marked down to $1! At that price, 
I had to have it for summer parties or a festive centerpiece.

Now I just need a house to put it all in!

But house or not, I'm pretty glad for the friendships I had waiting on me when I returned from Scotland. Like the saying goes...

"Make new friends,
But keep the old.
One is silver, 
The other gold."

It's all peachy!

{Gasping sound.}

It's been so long since I've posted!

Over a week, as a matter of fact.

I'm failing in blogland. Must. write. faster.

The past couple weeks have been non-stop, seems like things haven't quite slowed down since we started burnin' rubber soon as we got back to Texas.

Can you blame us? There were so many people and things that we missed!

But now that we're going on three weeks post-Scotland, I'm thinking maybe it'll slow down a little. I need it to, because I've got lots more things to do!

We're still house hunting - but we do have a contract submitted for one fab find, just waiting on things to get sorted out with the current owner. Waiting. And waiting. Are we done yet? I hate waiting!!!

And we've been visiting friends, and hanging out with friends, and spending time with the folks we're currently staying with, who are so much like family. We love it here!

I also just launched my own freelance company, so as I continue to do all my writing and consulting it's more official. Needless to say I've been slaving away on the computer to get my professional website up and running, as well as meeting deadlines and working with a local PR firm in Houston. Full details to come!

Then we're getting ready to head to Dallas for Labor Day weekend so Mike can go hunting and I can see family and friends! Love that it's no longer six months in between our visits. The highlight of my trip will be getting to see my country love, Roger Creager. If you've never listened to his music, I highly suggest you take a gander 'round his website and check it out.

I attend several of his performances every year, including our annual trip to the Guadalupe river. We partake in a six-hour float down the water in a tube (armed with a cooler full of booze), followed by a typical country night out at Gruene Hall - one of Texas' oldest - headlined by Creager himself.



My bachelorette party in 2006 entailed a Creager concert, followed by some time hangin' out with him and his band backstage. We're best buds, as you can see.


Speaking of bachelorette parties, I got to spend a lovely weekend on the beach in Galveston with several of my favorite gals. (Known some of 'em for 16 years!)


The bride-to-be, also a good friend, ties the knot in October and I couldn't be more excited for her!!! We all had a blast lounging in the sand and the waves - which was just a hop, skip and a jump from the beach house we shacked up in for a few nights.



I love sun and sand and water. Perfection!


Though I occasionally feel a little overwhelmed right now - I mean, I have been living out of a suitcase for nearly a month! - I am very thankful for every day and every experience. The husband and I try not to take all the little things for granted. We enjoy being busy, but we just as much enjoy sitting still and just soaking it all in.

So here's to the "mini-moments" (and memories) that make our lives complete...

Sweet Tooth

Why hello there. You, my friend, have my name written all over you in sticky, yummy syrup.


How good does that Crème Brulée French Toast Casserole look?

Get the recipe here.

For more delicious bites, check out Bakerella's mouth-watering cheesecake bars.

Not in the mood to cook? Try out these free candy bar wrappers, they're a treat.

And here's a handful of Texas Tales posts you might have missed on yer way out...



“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”
~Ernestine Ulmer 

Young Memories

I am happy to report this week is off to a good start. I'm working on getting my own freelance company set up, which shall be revealed to y'all in due course! I'm working on my logo design, website and DBA paperwork. All that's left is to obtain a home address so I can complete the requirements and get on over to the courthouse and make it official.

Our house hunt is still ongoing. I don't think I ever fully explained our situation on here, but we own a house that's currently rented out to a wonderful lady; and since we didn't know where exactly we wanted to be in the area and were up for a "fresh start," we have decided to live in a renter for awhile. A nice one. Which is currently the holdup, because the "nicer" rent houses don't take as kindly to you when you mention you have four hairy hoodlums pets. We're perfect in every other way, but all they hear is "two dogs, two cats... yada yada yada."

Then we talk about buying, but then we'd have two houses. But it might be easier and make more sense. Yet renting is more suited to our situation, but are we just investing into an "empty house?"

So we're still looking.

In the meantime, I'm working on a story about our road trip across Scotland and fulfilling other various freelancer work that's (thankfully) keeping me occupied and filled with purpose. Job hunting is always a creative challenge for me - I love to see what interesting things are out there!

But it's not all house hunts and pen to paper. I'm headed to the pool for a swim workout and enjoying the blue skies and sunshine that grace our every day here in H-Town. (Except for that nasty downpour yesterday that drenched me on the way out of the grocery store. Been awhile since I was hit with a Texas-sized raindrop. Sheesh.)

And my mind often wanders to recent memories from Scotland, which seems so far away but not that long ago. I mean, we were just at our friend's wedding in Aberdeen, singing along to a dance remix of John Denver's "Country Roads."




There's even the little things, like a trip to the grocery store. I'm seeing all kinds of new American products, snacks and food on the shelves that I haven't even tried yet! Funniest yet, though, is the UK section I spotted at Kroger yesterday. It was only a fraction of an aisle, but they had everything from Heinz Salad Cream (bleck) to Walkers Shortbread cookies!! I thought, oh how the tables have turned. I remember our International "corner" at the Asda store in Aberdeen; that's where we got our tortillas, refried beans and salsa!


Needless to say we're digging all the good eats we've missed, but are constantly reminded of our life in Scotland, still fresh in our minds. There's nothing like an out-of-country experience to make you see everything in a new light!

Beautiful Surroundings

In the middle of all our running around, living out of suitcases, crazy sleep schedule, house hunting and getting readjusted to American life, we've had a couple wonderful moments to appreciate pure Texas beauty this weekend.


Nothing beats a sunny afternoon drive in your truck, country music blasting on the radio, and an ice chest of cold beer in the back waiting to be opened at your destination.




“A good country song takes a page out of somebody's life and puts it to music."
~Conway Twitty



Texas, My Texas.

We are home!

And this past week has been a doozy. But so worth it, as we're now back in the US of A.

Our flight from Scotland landed Friday afternoon, August 6, and was as enjoyable as a flight can be when you're crammed into coach seats in the very last row of the plane with a tiny monitor as your source of entertainment for 8.5 hours. (Okay, maybe a monitor and a magazine. Living in the lap of luxury here, folks.)

Both our moms, and my step-dad, were anxiously standing outside the International Arrivals door at DFW airport when we finally came through with all our luggage and carry-ons. And how exciting it was to see them! It was an emotional two days: saying goodbye to all our wonderful friends in Scotland, and saying hello to our family and friends in Texas. We were home to stay!


{Photos courtesy of my mom's blog, Linda's Life Journal}

My mom had cold Bud Lights and American flag koozies waiting for us at the house. We were happy to dump our bags, say hello to all our pets and soak up the 104 degree heat. Bring on the sunshine, momma ain't in Kansas Scotland anymore!!


And we wasted no time getting back into the "taste of things," since we met all our parents for dinner that night at Texas Roadhouse. Hello juicy steak, fried onions and tall frosty beverage. Get in my belly!


Seeing our pets was definitely a highlight, next to all the people we missed. Our sweet dogs were literally bouncing up and down like pogo sticks:

video



How can you not just fall in love with this adorable little face??


And my two cats, who both became very deathly ill while I was gone, are now back in good health and doing quite well. Snowball is my 12-year-old white furball of love; and July is my 18-year-old grumpy little tabby cat. I candidly remind my husband on occasion that they have been around far longer than he has! :)




Much of the past week has been spent in our usual fashion when in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area after a long absence: we hauled around in the Avalanche to see parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. But we managed to work in our favorites, like trips to Sonic for the most delicious fountain drinks ever, and lunch at On the Border (mmm, fajitas and tortilla soup!). I even managed a mini-shopping excursion with my sister to Target. Gosh, I missed that place.

My mom hosted a welcome home party for us on Sunday, which was such a blast. So many close friends, plus a lot of family, made it out to say hello and welcome us back. There were kiddos running around like crazy, loads of homemade food like brisket and potato salad (courtesy of my step-dad's talented cooking skills!), tons of laughs and jokes, a few tears shed (mostly by me), and we even ended the night watching a pre-season Dallas Cowboys football game. Hell yeah!

{Click on image to enlarge}

Mike and I enjoyed a trip out to Weatherford one particular afternoon, where we spent some beloved time with his grandpa. Mike's parents also joined us, and we ate yummy fried dinners from Chicken Express and enjoyed homemade peach ice cream on the porch. There's just something about a Texas sunset, a warm breeze and the sound of goats maa-ing in the background peace. (Grandpa Bell lives on about an acre of country land and the neighbor's goats act as automatic yard trimmers and hedge-keepers. Handy, but noisy little buggers.) 



We also spent some time in candid conversation with Grandpa Bell, who's never short on his own stories to tell as he spent a great deal of time living in Germany around the end of World War II. He was part of the first civilian troops to go into the country post-war.


He also met his wife there, she worked in the local post office and their paths crossed often when he delivered military checks every week. His face never ceases to break into a grin when I ask him when he finally decided to ask her out. Though she has since passed on, it's so heart warming to see that his love for her has not dwindled the slightest bit, and he misses her every day.

There's something to be said for experiencing a lifetime love.


I also got to see six of my seven close girlfriends, who make up the synchronized swim team I was with for 11 years, and still compete with in the US Masters nowadays. One of the gals was in Arizona, soon to be headed to LA for a month-long filming session as a mermaid in Pirates of the Carribean 4! So excited for her!!


Most girls are lucky to have one or two close pals. We each have seven amazing, wonderful, supportive, tell-it-how-it-is, reliable friends. And we always value every minute we get to spend together, especially since we all lead very active lives. It's like time stops for a little while when we congregate - long enough for us to get in our share of laughs, bitching and story telling. I always leave with a little more spring in my step thanks to them.

All in all, I'd say it's been a really epic week. And that's still an understatement.


Just in case you haven't noticed... Mike and I like to have a good time. And you can bet your bottom dollar that we'll find just as many ways to get into the fun, even though we're not galavanting around Scotland or Europe anymore. It would plain go against our nature to sit still for too long. We only tend to park it for enough time to enjoy a cold brew, a good conversation or a quick snooze.

{Click on image to enlarge}

This weekend we're house hunting in hopes of finding a nice little rental we can live in for the time being; and there's still a grand group of familiar faces we have yet to meet up with in H-Town.

Between Houston and Dallas, it's almost like we have two home bases, two sets of families, and twice the love.

But like my mom often says, "more is always better!"
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