Monday, September 28, 2009

Another One Flies From The Nest

Well, it is official. Our home is now down from five to four. There is a bedroom in the house that has been picked over and only the unwanted items remain behind. A stray sock, an old school photograph, a muddy pair of tennis shoes, clothing that was never unpacked from the first move...and of course the candy wrappers, pieces of paper and such that often live tucked away in the nooks and crannies of a child's room.

It is a bittersweet time around here. On the one hand, we are excited to see where the future will take 'the newly independent one'. On the other, we hate to see them go. The house seems emptier already.

Jim and I have always known that our responsibility was to get them ready to launch into the world. We have watched one move out after a year of planning; another move on at the time of marriage. This one made the decision in about a week and had our heads spinning. Yet the emotions of watching each of them move into their first place has been similar...pride in their accomplishments, anxiety about their safety, and a little bit of regret that the time had come more quickly than we had thought.

Tonight I take a good look around the nearly empty room and see the things that need to be cleaned up, say a little prayer for the safety of all three of the children who have stretched their wings...and hug a little tighter the two who are closer to launch than I want to think about right now.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What's On My Nightstand: September

Today marks the beginning of my absolute favorite season of the year. I love fall! I love the changing leaves (of which we see very little) and the crispness of the air (which is still a little ways out for us).

Today also is What's On Your Nightstand? time at 5 Minutes for Books. I love looking at everyone's list and seeing their reviews. I always end up adding something new to my "To Be Read" pile after visiting their blogs.

So what have I read this month? What am I waiting to read? Here is my list, just in case you were wondering.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling - This was probably my favorite series finale EVER! I read all 756 pages in a weekend. The author did such a wonderful job of keeping the suspense going right up until the very end. Since I started this series so many, many years ago...I was very thankful that the clues (which have been building since Book 1) were revealed in such a way that I could remember them, even if it was just vaguely. I can hardly wait for the movies now!

Vision In White by Nora Roberts - This was my first Nora Roberts book. I picked it up at Half Price Books 'just because'...and threw it in my bag for the 7 hour drive to Arkansas over Labor Day. I 'liked' it. It turned out to be a good travel book. This is the story of 4 friends who have grown from playing Wedding Day in the back yard to operating a full service wedding venue. This first book focused on Mackenzie Elliot, a talented wedding photographer who doesn't believe in 'happily ever after'. That is until she meets a former high school acquaintance who is definitely NOT her type and she fears it might be love. I will probably read the rest of The Bride Quartet when they come out. My favorite quote: "Some things in life are out of your control. You can make it a party or a tragedy." How true!

Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark - This is another first read for me by a well published author. It is the story of young man who has been missing for 10 years, yet Mack Mackenzie calls his mother every year for Mother's Day. On the 10th anniversary of his disappearance, his younger sister, Carolyn, swears to him that she will find him. As she begins her search, Carolyn unwittingly casts her brother as a suspected serial killer who has just kidnapped the fourth victim in the last ten years...the first, just weeks before his disappearance. The story was suspenseful throughout, driven by characters with secrets to be kept and those who have information that has never been seen as important enough to mention. I will be looking for another novel by Mary Higgins Clark the next time I want an entertaining mystery to read.

Idols Of The Heart: Learning To Long For God Alone by Elyse Fitzpatrick. This one is my slow, pondering read and may even still be here next month.

To Be Read:
The Secret Life Of Bees and The Centurion's Wife are both still on my nightstand. (Will and I will be sharing The Secret Life Of Bees since it is one of his assigned novels this semester.) The only new book to be added so far this month is Belong to Me: A Novel by Marisa De Los Santos.

So, what are you reading? Leave me a comment and let me know what books I might be missing.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Farewell To The Big Apple

All good things must come to an end...and our trip to New York was no exception. Saturday morning we packed our bags and then made our way to the airport.

We may have missed the colors of fall, but we did see a few trees beginning to change. And we very much enjoyed the beautiful weather (which did not cause me to spill a drop of perspiration all week long).
I don't know why I love the sights and sounds of this city so much...but I do.

Farewell, for now!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

With And Without Rain

When we left Houston for New York on Tuesday morning, we were prepared to face the rain every day of our stay. Thankfully, that forecast didn't hold up.

Since Friday was our last day (and Robin had walked me until my calves ached and the bottom of my feet were sore), we decided to take a bus tour of areas we had yet to see. Neither one of us had been in the Upper East Side, so we decided to take the Uptown Loop on a double-decker bus. (We should have gone with Robin's gut-feeling to wait on the next bus when we saw smoke boiling out from under the back wheels...instead we broke down about 15 minutes later and had to wait for another empty bus to come pick us up at Lincoln Center.)

This is how close our heads came to the traffic lights! It was a little bit freaky at times.

Once we got to the Central Park area, we spent a lot of time ducking the limbs too! It is hard to take pictures and watch for items that are going to smack you in the face at the same time.

We saw Columbus Circle, Lincoln Center, many churches and museums. We drove through the Upper East side, Columbia University, Harlem, Spanish Harlem and Museum Mile as we skirted the entire perimeter of Central Park.

It was neat seeing many of the famous the Apollo Theatre (which is much smaller than it looks on television), the Guggenheim (which looks like a giant toy top to me, others say it looks like the bow of a cruise ship), and the American Museum of Natural History (where they filmed Night at the Museum). I could post a hundred pictures that we took of the sights...but I chose two instead of boring you to death.

Robin was able to snap this picture of the elevated train in Harlem. I have seen this in the movies, but this is the first time we have seen it in person.

The most beautiful architecture we saw on our tour was this church near Columbia University. (I think it is Saint Paul's...but I can't find my notes right now.) This church has been 'under construction' since the 1800's. According to our tour guide, it is still not completed. It is wonderfully ornate while still being reverent. Gorgeous!

After the tour, we stopped for a late lunch-early dinner at Rosie O'Grady's where we each ordered a traditional Irish dish. Afterwards, we went back to our hotel to upload pictures and get ready for the evening.

For our last night, we had tickets to see Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman in A Steady Rain. It is an intense two man drama about two Chicago policemen who have been friends since childhood and their individual accounts of a few horrendous days that change their lives forever. It's run is only 12 weeks...and there was standing room only in the theatre.

We rushed out during the curtain call to try and get good pictures at the stage door.

Here is Hugh Jackman. He is really tall compared to most of the actors we have seen this week.

And a close up of Daniel Craig. (I think I like his James Bond look better with no moustache, though it's fits his character in this production quite well.)

We stopped for a small bite to eat on Times Square and then ran back into Lindy's for a piece of the 'best cheesecake in the world' to take back to our room as we packed. (As for the cheesecake being the best in the world, Ummm...not so much.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Museums And Musicals

Thursday morning we awoke to the threat of rain. So, we decided to add a bit of culture to our trip by visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park.
Evidently, we were not the only ones! (We took this picture after our visit...thus no rain in the picture.)

We started in the Greek and Roman Art area. The most amazing thing to me was the realization of how small statured they were. We saw suits of armor that looked like they belonged to a 10 year old, and a small 10 year old at that. A sarcophagus for a 52 year old woman was not even 5 foot 4 inches long. It was just odd.

Which makes me wonder...just how big was Goliath? I mean, if David was even the size of one of those suits of armor...a 6 1/2 foot tall man would look like a giant beside him.

And we were also wondering...why didn't these people wear any clothes?

I enjoyed viewing the items in the Greek and Roman area, but I was most excited to see the Egyptian art.

We saw several of these caskets. (BTW: The Egyptians looked to be closer to our height.) Several of these were quite ornate and beautiful to look at.

This sphinx stands next to a portion of the Temple of Dendur.

You can see the Temple behind Robin and I. We are flanked by what appears to be two pharaohs.

After viewing the American Art center and wandering through the gift shop, we stopped and picked up lunch from a hot dog vendor in front of the museum.

We were serenaded by a men's quartet singing 50's music and were only slightly threatened by one pigeon who thought he might get lucky and snap a bite of Robin's hot dog as we ate.

Since we took a cab to the museum, we decided to stroll back to the hotel along the East side of Central Park.
Here is a picture of the bow bridge during the change of seasons. What a difference from the snow pictures I posted in February 2008, huh? (This picture is of the same general area, but from a different viewpoint.)

We had early dinner reservations for Toloache Bistro Mexicano. It is really risky for two Houston girls to try eating Mexican food north of the Texas state line. But this time, the risk was well worth it. Robin had carne asada that would melt in your mouth. And, my two lobster tacos had quite a kick but kept you wanting more. (The pomegranate margaritas were pretty good too!)

After dinner, we walked down to the Roundabout Theatre Company to watch the Broadway revival of Bye, Bye Birdie with John Stamos and Gina Gershon.

The show was wonderful and the cast had so much energy! The show is in it's preview stage, but it was a great performance.

Having been introduced to the stage door experience on Tuesday night, we made our way to the barricades as soon as the show was over. The kids were so very gracious and appreciative of the attention. You should see my is covered with their autographs.

I even had my picture made with John Stamos. I am not a real autograph hound, but who would turn down the opportunity to have their picture taken with John?
It was another fun and star filled day in New York City! Who will we see next?

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Lady And The Prince

Welcome to Wednesday in New York City! We were told to expect rain, but thankfully, it never appeared.

We began our day catching the Staten Island Ferry for a ride across the East River. Robin snapped this picutre of the two of us as we were waiting for the next ferry to arrive.
It is the first thing we have done in Manhattan (other than our walk through Central Park in the snow last February) that was absolutely FREE!
We rode across on a ferry that looked just like this one. (We passed this one on our way back to Manhattan.)
We saw Ellis Island and the the Statue of Liberty from our perch on the first deck.
Such a Grand Lady. Isn't she beautiful? On my previous two trips to New York, the weather was in the negative there was no way I was going to get on a boat. We had to settle for pictures of her from the Brooklyn Bridge and the Top of the Rock.
A dream come true. See her standing over my left shoulder?

After returning to Manhattan, Robin and I strolled down Wall Street. Robin tried to get a picture of the bull, but there were so many people trying to take a picture with his famous mug...and a few taking pictures from behind. (You might really be surprised at what some people will do for a picture. First the gorilla at Tavern...and now the Wall Street bull! Come on people, have a little class.) We walked through City Hall Park and saw this beautiful fountain.
We stopped in SoHo for lunch and then caught a taxi back to our hotel for a little siesta!

Wednesday evening Robin surprised me with an elegant dinner at a former speakeasy, now a place where you may dine alongside a politician, a journalist or even the head of a major publishing house. The 21 Club, with it's row of jockeys along the outside, was everything I imagined. The service was superb. The pork chop was huge! I couldn't eat even half of it. The dark paneled walls and cozy rooms spoke of its past club-like atmosphere.
After dinner, we returned to the hotel to change into comfortable shoes and take in some more sights. As we walked through the theatre district, we noticed that Phantom of the Opera was just releasing. Thinking that Hamlet must be about the same length...we decided to check out the small crowd that was gathering at the stage door.
Sure enough, about 30 minutes later, the place was packed and Jude Law made his appearance. "To be or not to be, that is the question" for Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. All I can say is "Cute, cute, cute!"
I never expected to see so many 'stars' among the bright lights of the big city!

I bet you are dying to find out who we saw on Thursday! All I am going to say is, it is worth the wait!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Star Gazing In New York City

"Live...from New York City, it's...."Me. (and we are not too far from David Letterman's studio!)

Robin and I arrived Tuesday afternoon and are having a wonderful time. We are taking a little siesta before heading out to dinner and I thought I would take the opportunity to post a few pictures from yesterday.

After a three hour flight, where we talked non-stop...we were greeted at the airport by our driver. I love not having to haul my own luggage around an airport! We did good though. Only one checked bag each...but at 55 pounds each, I sure was glad they were on wheels.

The hotel in which we are staying is beautiful! It looks like I would imagine a Manhattan apartment would have looked like in the 1940's, minus a kitchen.

After depositing our luggage in the room, we set out to find a bite for lunch. We ended up at Lindy's on Broadway. (The original was a frequent haunt of Milton Berle back-in-the-day.) We ate at the sidewalk tables because the day was so nice.

After lunch, we strolled the streets and took in the sights. We noticed a red carpet being set up just a half a block from the hotel. They were preparing for the New York City premiere of Matt Damon's new movie, 'The Informant'. We walked up to Central Park and then stopped in at Randolph's for drinks before getting ready for the evening. (The lounge is named after the William Randolph Hearst who in 1926 built the hotel for his paramour, Marion Davies.)

After dressing for the evening, we headed off down Broadway for our show. Robin surprised me with tickets to God of Carnage.

It started a little slow...but picked up speed very quickly. I can't remember the last time I laughed so many times at a performance.

As we sat down, Robin kept telling me to look at a man sitting down from us to see if he didn't look familiar. She said she thought that he was from ER. As we were walking out of the theatre... there he was right beside us. Anthony Edwards!

She didn't take his picture because he was out with friends...but as we were leaving the theatre, we noticed people standing around waiting for the cast to come out. We missed Hope Davis, but we did get pictures and autographs of Jeff Daniels,
Marcia Gay Harden (very nice and classy lady, in my opinion)

and James Gandolfini!

As if that weren't enough, right next door was the performance of Steady Rain with Hugh Jackman (who we missed while we were getting autographs from the cast) and

Daniel Craig (in the black, signing autographs).
And then we saw this VIP standing in Time Square.
Oh, sorry, that is just me with my dinner from a street vendor. Chicken kabob anyone?

But, as we headed back to the hotel, we did see a gathering of people waiting for the last few people to leave the premiere. Matt Damon and company had all left early...but Robin did snap this picture of Marvin Hamlisch, the composer.

We wound down our evening back at Randolph's before heading upstairs for a good night's sleep.
What did we do today?

I will have to tell you tomorrow...because the majority of this trip is a surprise or an adventure waiting to happen!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Week In Review

Labor Day weekend, Jim, the kids and I traveled to Arkansas for a work weekend. If you remember back in May, we had flood waters in the family fish camp. Once the water resided, we realized that several of the barrels had washed out from under and needed to be replaced. While Daddy, Glen and Jim worked on replacing the barrels and fighting the wasps...Donna, Bri, Jessica and I worked on getting the inside cleaned up and prepared for the coming hunting season.

We traveled home on Monday, which was also Brian's 19th birthday. Meagan, Kelli and families joined us on Tuesday evening to celebrate with fish tacos and strawberry cake for dessert.

On Wednesday evening I attended an Open House for Will. I can tell you that I don't miss high school. Rushing from class to class...lockers...cafeteria lines. Since I didn't have time to go home beforehand, I did a little shopping for decorating the office for fall.

On Thursday we attended Will's ballgame. They lost 0-6 against the Spartans. He was very disappointed. Meagan, Derrick and Davin came too. Meagan says that Davin no longer wants to watch Noggin in the mornings. He wants to watch 'feetball'. She is already outvoted in her household and he is only two.

Friday was a hectic day with all kinds of twists and turns...but I did manage to get the groceries for next week!

Finally, last night we attended a wedding for a family friend that we have known for nearly 20 years. It was a beautiful ceremony at a bed and breakfast in Round Top. A quaint little town that you should visit if you are ever in that area.

Today I will be spending the day packing for my birthday trip to New York. Robin and I will be flying out on Tuesday morning and I can hardly wait. We may actually get to taste a little bit of a real fall while we are there!!!

The blog will be quiet next week while I am away, but I should have pictures for you when I get back.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Love To Cook Thursdays: Green Salsa

During the last "What's On Your Nightstand" at 5 Minutes For Books I stumbled upon this new carnival hosted by Kipi at In My Own Little Corner. Since I am having a hard time coming up with meal ideas these days (whether that is due to the heat or the hectic back to school schedule, I do not know), I bookmarked the page to check back for ideas last Thursday.

Since we left for Arkansas on Friday morning, I just copied a few recipes and promised myself that I would join the fun this week.

I am challenging myself to try one new recipe a week...whether it is an entree or a dessert does not matter so much as trying SOMETHING new.

Monday was Brian's 19th birthday...but since we were traveling home, the party had to wait until Tuesday. When asked what he wanted for dinner, he replied FISH TACOS. Where did that come from? I have never even seen a fish taco! Never mind the fact that I never thought I would eat (much less make) a fish taco.

First, I called a friend to ask her what constituted a "proper" fish taco so I would be able to recognize a decent recipe if I saw it. Next I read a description of what has been called the best fish taco in Houston to get some pointers on what to look for. Finally, I searched the Food Network website for a recipe that was close to my friend's description and the Pappasitos menu. I settled on this recipe from Bobby Flay.

I thought for sure this would be my "Love To Cook Thursday" entry...but as it turns out, Kipi had already posted a fish taco recipe. As the other two posts thus far have been TexMex in nature, I thought I would stay with the theme and share a delicious green sauce recipe that I found a few years ago.

Salsa Verde Cocida

2 pounds tomatillos, husked and washed
2 jalapenos
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cumin
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon salt

Put tomatillos and jalapenos in a medium saucepan, pour in enough cold water to cover, and bring to a boil. Cook until jalapenos are soft and tomatillos tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes.

Drain mixture in colander. Wipe out saucepan and set aside. Put the tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic and cumin in a blender and blend for a few seconds, just until the tomatillos are coarsely chopped. Add the cilantro (stem first) and blend until the sauce is smooth and speckled with finely chopped cilantro. do not over blend, or you will grind the tomatillo seeds and make a thick and pasty rather than smooth, shiny sauce.

Heat oil in pan over medium. Pour in the salsa, bring to simmer until lightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Store sauce in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat over low heat before using.

Before moving to Texas in 1988, I had never seen a tomatillo...and when I saw my first one in a Houston area supermarket, I thought it was just a green tomato. (even though that didn't make sense because it had a husk) So, if you are wondering what a tomatillo looks like, here you go.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Bulldogs Visit The Rangers

For some strange reason, maybe it has something to do with the upcoming holiday, this week's games were all moved up a day. So, even though it was Wednesday, we had us some Thursday night Freshman football.

The Waller Bulldogs traveled to Rosenberg (70+ miles away) to meet the Terry Rangers. We were a little late arriving at the game...missing the first three minutes. (It always takes me twice as long as it should to get to Rosenberg. There seems to always be something holding up the traffic, no matter which route I take!) The score was 8 - 0, Bulldogs when Jim and I arrived.

Will didn't have quite the stats that he wanted or that he earned last week. Even though he got real close to the quaterback a few times (as seen here)
...most often, he was met by this wall of Ranger defenders. (Three on one, how is that fair?)
He had several blocks and assists, but no sacks or tackles.

I took this picture at half time. It made me smile. Where else would you see a pair of cowboy boots sitting on the track but in Texas?

Will didn't play as much offense this week as last, but here is a shot of him playing in the second half.

(One of his many Coach's Conferences during the game)

The Bulldogs were able to hold them scoreless...
right up until the last play of the game. The horn sounded, but the Ranger was already at the 15 yard line and showed no sign of letting up. Thankfully, the Bulldogs were able to prevent the run for extra points.

Final Score:
Rangers 6
Bulldogs 8
Bulldog White team is now 1-1 for the season.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More Football Pictures

Remember when I told you yesterday that one of our newest customers also has a boy that plays on Will's team? Well, I also found out that he has a website where he posts pictures of the games as well. So, if you would like to see more pictures from last week's game go to click on the football tab and choose 2009 8/27 9B to see even more pictures. On the second page you will find seven pictures of Will's second sack of the game from a sideline position. Pretty cool!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Just Another Day

I am sitting here in Jim's chair watching Armageddon for like the three hundredth time. What is it about this movie that sucks me in EVERY TIME? This one, Forrest Gump, Mummy (1 or 2), Apollo 13, Princess Bride, Sweet Home Alabama...they get me over and over again.

Jim is out dove hunting this evening. It is opening day here in our area. He and our partner were invited to go out to one of our new customer's places...and found out his son plays football with Will.

This afternoon he and I drove across Houston to visit a friend whose wife had a little boy yesterday. Then we had to rush back across town to pick up our 'little boy' from football practice. I told them to enjoy the years that lie ahead...because it seems like just last week that Will was born and we were bringing him home from the hospital.

Tonight we will have a quiet time here at home because tomorrow night we have another ball game for Will. I don't know why they moved it from Thursday...maybe it has something to do with the Labor Day holiday. The only bad thing is that it will be a good hour and a half away. :-( The good thing is that I may actually be able to talk Jim into eating out after the game!

What did you do today?