Category Archives: Lifestyle

Relaxing in the Hill Country


You know, rarely do I tell you all about my day-to-day goings on because not only would it confirm that my life is nowhere near glamorous, but I’m afraid that it would prove to be down right dull.  However, this time I am going to tell you about last week because it was, in a word “special”.  I think that I’ve said this before, but Big Poppa travels and works a lot and sometimes it can place a bit of stress on our relationship.  Like a lot of other couples we often get stuck in this habit of communicating in sound bytes and assuming that the other one knows what’s going on in our life and, well, let’s just say that it’s not a good way to communicate with your spouse.  Unfortunately, it tends to be a result of always being on the go.  So, between our busy schedules and the absolutely neurotic amount of stress that I’m experiencing over Thing 1 and second grade (I’m  ever so slightly exaggerating), I was insistent that we were leaving town over Spring Break.  Sensing that I might be on the verge of a nervous breakdown (again, only slightly exaggerating), Big Poppa readily agreed and we ended up deciding to take the Dynamic Duo on a road trip to San Antonio.

Neither of us had ever been to San Antonio before, but the big draw was that there is a Sea World and Thing 2 has been asking to go to Sea World for two years now. It’s a long story, but we figured that we couldn’t really go wrong. Plus, as I had hoped, my “Vacation Husband” showed up a full day ahead of the trip, which is almost unheard of.  My Vacation Husband is actually my everyday husband, but way cooler.  He’s funny and relaxed and he doesn’t use words like “budget” and phrases like “continuous improvement” and “weak signal”. He didn’t answer not one email and he didn’t even bring his laptop!  I LOVE THAT GUY!  So, we piled our stuff in the van and off Vacation Husband, Thing 1, Thing 2 – along with their various dolls – and I all went.

Sea World 2014

Sea World 2014

Sea World was great!  There were dolphins, sea lions, sharks, alligators and of course, Shamu. Not to mention bad carnival food like cotton candy, ice cream bars and funnel cakes. The weather was a bit cool so, it was perfect for spending the day outside and we took it all in for not just one day, but two.  However, little did we know that our girls would actually end up preferring our resort to Sea World and there were plenty of reasons why.

Folks, this is an unsolicited advertisement, but if you are ever in San Antonio particularly with your family, I strongly suggest that you book a room at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa.  The facilities, guest rooms and grounds are beautiful.  The staff is friendly and helpful, The food is delicious – even the desserts! There is a playground for children, a pool with a lazy river and a beach, planned children’s activities and babysitting services available if parents want to spend some time alone.  There’s also a full service spa and golf course. I’m sure that I’m forgetting something but, everything that you could ever want is there waiting for you.  However, our girls fell head over heels for the nightly campfires, s’mores and movies outside on the lawn.

S'mores & Campfire

S’mores & Campfire

This was their little slice of heaven and I have to admit that Big Poppa and I were pretty taken with it, too.  It was all pretty perfect and for a few days, life didn’t intrude on us.  We relaxed and talked about politics and religion.  We talked about our dreams for our children and for ourselves.  We actually spoke in complete sentences that contained a subject and a predicate.  One of us completed our thoughts while the other one actually listened.  It was all good and very much in order. The girls cried when it was time to come home because they loved it so much and we promised them that we will return.  We definitely will.  Needless to say, Vacation Husband didn’t even bother getting out of the car when we got home.  That guy is so fickle.  Everyday husband came in and went straight to his office to prepare for his impending business trip.  Me?  I’m good.  I’m refreshed and ready to tackle the last quarter of school.  And, I have wonderful memories of little girls with chocolate and marshmallow covered faces, wrestling with daddy while watching Tiana under a big, starry Texas sky.

A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to Getting Healthy



As I get older, I am much more conscious of my need to live a healthier lifestyle.  Cut carbs, go low-fat, shun sugar & exercise more. For a number of reasons, I have a really hard time with all of these things, but I know that they need to be done.  I need to be healthy in order to continue to be here for my babies.  They’re not exactly babies any longer, I know, but you get the idea.  When I started this blog, I was on a diet and exercise kick all in an effort to be better.  Then I went AWOL.  I don’t really know what happened.  I have tried to remember what derailed me, but for the life of me, I’m drawing a blank.  You know what that means, don’t you?  It really was nothing at all.  Just some excuse for me to go home, find the nearest comfy couch, a bag of Oreos and sit down.  

Ah, but alas…it’s time for me to get back on track.  Yes, you heard me say it here folks.  I need to get my butt back in gear and at the very least, get back on some sort of exercise routine.  But, I’m taking baby steps here, first exercise then diet because, you know, the holidays are here and more than one of you have asked me to post some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes  (that post will be up later this week).  Please don’t make me write about all of the delicious food that graces my holiday table and expect me not to eat it.  That would just be mean.

I will need some encouragement, some cheerleaders and some coaching.  I’m counting on you all to help keep me going because, like I said, exercise is NOT something that I enjoy. However,  I have realized that I need it (everybody needs it) just like I need air to breath. Not to mention that I do want to look a little cuter in my jeans, too!  Just keeping it real.      

  *This post was written in response to the blog link up on Champagne to Crayons, Day 17: Health, Celebrating 28 days of Thanks.If you would like to read more posts from my fellow bloggers, click here.

Tying Up Loose Ends


This is a big week for me.  I’m going to my first blogging conference – BlogHer ’13 – and I am so excited!  I have no clue what I’m doing but, it’s so exciting anyway! I haven’t been this excited in a very long time. It’ like when you are in high school and you go to see your first BIG concert.  My first BIG concert was Prince.  Yes, PRINCE, but it was so many years ago before he was, like, PRINCE and then, the artist formerly known as Prince, then symbol guy and then I guess now he’s back to being Prince.  It was in Davenport, Iowa  and the authorities had told him no lewdness and raunchiness or they would pull him off the stage (yes, it was that long ago).  My high school boyfriend got tickets and I wore purple. I think that was before purple was his thing, but I’m not sure.  I was so excited and I’m that excited now, except, more because unlike the Prince concert which was one night and a lot of fun, this conference feels like the beginning of something really good for me and my life. Of course, I’m really nervous, too which is why I’m obsessing over every little thing.  What to bring, what to wear, what sessions to participate in?  I’m a newbie and to be honest, I didn’t even know that they had blogging conferences until about six months ago.  The good news is that since I have no prior experiences to compare it to, I have no expectations.  Therefore, I can’t be disappointed, which is a very good thing.  I’m going to keep y’all posted on all of the happenings but, I will not be following my regular posting schedule for the next week or two.  You can check here, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what I’m up to.

I do have to take care of one thing before I go.  A couple of weeks ago a wonderful blogger, Fascinations of a Vanilla Housewife so generously (and surprisingly) awarded me The WordPress Family Award.  She has been a supporter of mine since shortly after I began this blog and I am so appreciative.  In all honestly, her blog is one of the few blogs that I make sure that I read every day.  It’s like my daily dose of comfort and humor (she’s really funny!). I have been remiss with my lack of acknowledgement of receiving this badge but, please do not take it as a sign of being unappreciative.  It’s more of a sign of my disorganization.



Also, welcome to all of my new followers here and on Twitter.  I am definitely feeling the love.  Thank you very much!  🙂


A Visit to the Hardware Store


Shortly after I moved to Texas I met a lovely woman at a party and we started chatting about things that ladies chat about when they move into a new house, specifically decorating.  She was giving me some tips on where to shop around town when she said,

“Have you been to the Ace Hardware over on Mason?”

“Uh, noooo,” because nothing that I had said indicated that I was fixing or building anything.  I like to decorate but, I’m not a big DIY person.  Neither is Big Poppa.

I guess the look on my face said it all because she said “Trust me.  You have to go to Ace.”

Yea, right.  I figured that hardware store decorating must be a Texas thing but, us girls from up North don’t do that.  I ignored her advice for a while but then, one day I was out in that end of town with some time to spare and thought I’d stop in to look around. That and I needed some hooks to hang some art work.


This is the Ace Hardware on Mason Road in Katy.

Pretty normal and totally unexciting.  However….

candles, scarves, lotions

candles, scarves, lotions

this is what I found when I walked inside.

And this…20130610_105702 20130610_105717 20130610_105620

Wait!  There’s more!

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Speechless!  I was speechless.  It’s beautiful, high-end merchandise in an Ace Hardware store.  At first I was confused and then it dawned on me that this is pure marketing genius.  Think about it, no matter what the home improvement project, the wife is the one to go to the store.  She determines what she wants and hubby does it or, as in my case, the hubby pays someone to do it. Here, because of the layout, you have to walk through all of this fabulousness to get to the actual hardware.  I haven’t personally seen the hardware because I never seem to make it past the front of the store but, rumor has it that it’s there, along with a postal station.

On my most recent visit to Ace to take pictures for this post (and to shop!), I met Donna.  Donna is the Gift & Gourmet Department Manager and a buyer for the store.  Also, she is now my new best friend! Did I mention that they have a gourmet foods department?  Yes, you can actually buy gourmet chocolates and coffee to enjoy while you browse, as well as other food items.

20130610_105954 20130610_111243 20130610_112342

Donna was kind enough to explain to me some of the marketing concept behind the store as well as some of the new holiday merchandise to look forward to this year.  They have some of the most unique and beautiful Halloween and Christmas decor that I have ever seen.  I can’t wait!  Donna also sold me a couple of items too, but I need to keep that on the down low because I don’t think that Big Poppa has noticed yet.

So, if you live in the area, or are visiting the area, or are planning to visit the area, go to Ace Hardware Cinco Ranch on Mason Road in Katy!  I know of nowhere else that you can buy a pretty dress, blinged out flip flops, some candles for your powder room, a super cute belt, gourmet foods, some new mixing bowls and a wall clock (oh, yea, and a hammer, if you must) in one stop.  Most of all, it’s all FABULOUS!  You will have to choose what gets to go home with you because you’ll want to take it all.   It is truly one of my favorite stores on the planet, because it’s such a pleasant shopping experience and there is always something that you “must have”.  Thanks to you, Donna, this northern girl is a convert!

Too Many Transgressions to Count


Big Poppa’s home!  Just in time for a busy week here in his kingdom (it’s really more like my “queendom” but, I don’t like to rub it in) then he’s off again.  I tell you, if I had his life, I’d be posting all kinds of updates from exciting and glamorous locations around the globe but, alas, you will have to settle for my updates from the local Target, Home Goods and Kroger.   I am happy to see him but, due to some rather unfortunately long shipping delays, he is going to become aware of some of my shopping transgressions and well, let’s just say that I’ve been rather naughty.  Discussions will ensue and well….”sigh”.  I promise that I will do better…really.

Which brings me to another topic where I promise to do better – exercise.  This is where I must fall prostrate before you and beg for your forgiveness.  I have completely fallen off of the “Fitness Wagon” and for the past two weeks eaten what ever I want and done absolutely no exercise. I’m ashamed. I’m embarrassed.  I’m sorry! I could blame it on changes to my schedule, or having a house guest for a few days, or that my cutest work out clothes were in the laundry but, they really are just excuses.  I have fallen off my game and it is mea maxima culpa. I promise that tomorrow morning I will be back in the gym, and every day this week through Thursday.  I do have a very legitimate reason for missing Friday but, you will have to wait until next weekend to find out what it is.  I also promise that I will go back to eating better.  No more chips, no more brownies, no more sweet tea (that one is very difficult for me).  Although, keep in mind that I am in the process of writing a recipe for a pineapple/apricot filled cupcake and that will involve some taste testing so, cut me some slack, okay?

By the way, did I tell you that Big Poppa surprised me with a tin of Garrett’s Popcorn when he returned? And it was “Chicago Mix”  which is cheese popcorn mixed with caramel popcorn.  Soooo gooood!  Now, if you know anything at all about Chicago, you know that Garrett’s is the absolute best popcorn…in the world…ever!  I don’t even eat other gourmet popcorn because everything else is just a poor imitation.  He got home at midnight and yes, the moment he pulled it from his bag, I sat down, opened the tin and began eating.  It’s cheesy and caramely and probably full of lots of fat and calories.  I didn’t care.  I have a list of all of the restaurants that I’m going to visit when I go back to Chicago for vacation and Garrett’s is at the top of that list.  In fact, I probably won’t make it out of the airport before my fingers are all yellow and cheesy.  He remembered this (probably because I have said it like 400 times since we moved) and brought it to me as a token of his affection.  A “Thinking of You” gift.  He’s perfect.  I ate a bit then left the tin on the kitchen counter.  This morning the girls saw it and begged to have it for breakfast.  I gave them the evil eye and told them that  maybe they could have a little bit after church.  Just a little!  Well, after church they got the tin to have their “little bit” and this is what was left:


Yep, they wiped out all of my delicious popcorn and a piece of Chicago – home – in less than 20 minutes.  I should have been grateful for all of the calories that they saved me but, instead, I could barely speak to them. I find their lack of self-control and respect for my popcorn to be terribly upsetting.  Although, it does make it easier for me to think of getting back on the straight and narrow path toward my next pair of reward shoes at the end of my next 10 pound loss.  Not getting rid of the tin though.  I want to hold on to those sweet, albeit brief, memories.

So, please forgive me and cheer me on as I try to get back on track.  I need all of the encouragement that I can get.  Oh, and make sure that you check back on Wednesday’s food blog.  I will be announcing the details of my very first give-away just in time for Mother’s Day.  Oh, and if it wouldn’t be asking too much, can you scroll to the bottom of this page and click “Like” on my Facebook page? It would sure make this girl feel good.  Thank you!