Friday, December 19, 2008

Family Christmas Fun

Every year we try to find something new to do as a family. Grapevine was our pick this year. Did you know it is the Christmas Capitol of Texas? Neither did we. The Christmas part of Grapevine is really one street, Main Street, with lots of shops and restaurants. There are displays in the town square depicting life at the North Pole. There are carriage rides and a train that goes to the Gaylord Texan Hotel. Some of Santa's elves have escaped from the workshop and are running around town. We had a wonderful time shopping (we didn't buy anything), eating, and visiting.

In the midst of our fun, Chris made a new friend. They visited briefly.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Life, Laugh, Love

Uppercase Living is a company that sells wall letter art. A friend had a show, I loved this expression, and in almost no time and with some help from Caylin, I had wall art! It is a perfect fit for that little section of wall where nothing else seemed to work so well. The items from Uppercase Living can be customized with many color choices. It is fun! I like this expression 'cause it is a good reminder how to live life. Soon after my father passed away (in 1976) Mother made the comment about how she would miss him - "He was just so much fun." That has stayed with me more than any other memory of that sad time - it is something I hope my children can say one day.


Stay-cation was a term we learned while Catherine and I were on a stay-cation. This refers to staying where you live but not at home. Cat and I took a weekend and checked into the Belmont Hotel in Oak Cliff, a boutique hotel that is so fabulous. We felt like we were truly away. We had to walk up a hill then down another hill to eat at the wonderful Cliff Cafe. The hotel and our room has a view of Downtown Dallas that is wonderful day and night. We spent the weekend crafting. Catherine's pictures are included. I worked on knitting projects which are not completed as quickly as Cat's cards, decorations, and jewelry. Knitting will be posted to the appropriate blog later. Surprising, having grown up in Dallas, we never visited the Oak Cliff area much. This is a beautiful part of the city - classic older homes on tree lined streets. We drove through the Bishop Arts District - we are saving the exploration of that area for another trip with Don and Mike.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Favorite Kitchen Toy Part 2

With Don's work schedule, I really like doing a hot lunch. Then, if he comes home at 8:00, he knows that dinner will be hunt and find. Yesterday, I made garlic/rosemary chicken. Here is how: At 11:30, I snipped some rosemary from my garden, washed it off. Then I smashed two garlic cloves with some kosher salt to make a paste. Using chicken breasts with bone in/skin on, I lifted the skin and rubbed the garlic paste on the chicken, followed by the snipped fresh rosemary. Then I let it sit for 1 hour. At 12:30, I turned on the pressure cooker (see previous post), and melted butter and sauted onions. Then in went the chicken, skin side down to brown. Flipped the chicken over, added 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, set the pressure cooker to cook for 15 minutes on high pressure, and we sat down to lunch at 1:05. Awesome!

Friday, October 24, 2008

My New Favorite Kitchen Toy

This is my new and most favorite kitchen toy ever. It is a Cuisinart pressure cooker. I remember pressure cookers from childhood. Mother had one - it was a Presto - and consisted of a pot, lid and a pressure thingy on top. If used incorrectly, the pressure thingy would blow right off. So this type of cooking never appealed to me because of visions of holes in the ceiling and stuff everywhere.

Enter Don's new job at Williams Sonoma. A customer purchased one of these from him and was singing the praises of 40 minute pork roasts. We decided to give it a try. Well, wonders never cease! It is a marvel!

My first meal was basic beef stew. The Cuisinart brand cooker has browning and sauteing features. So I browned the meat, added the rest of the stuff, and cooked it for 10 minutes, added the carrots, another 6 minutes of cooking, and lunch was ready. Amazing! So that night we had Acapulco chicken with rice - everything cooked in about 15 minutes. The next night chili - wonderful. Today I made risotto in 7 minutes with no stirring and it was the best ever. I love my new toy! Sunday we are going to try a roast - stay tuned for updates. . .

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Love Fall!

Our most wonderful landscaper, John, finished the little bed in front of the house. You will find me on the bench having coffee - please come by for a visit!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Captain Clinton and the Stingrays

Captain Clinton picked us up at the dock in Grand Cayman and took us out on our Stingray adventure. We were a little nervous - and then we saw the 'rays. They were enormous! Yikes! But like the brave tourists we were, into the water we went. Thankfully, Capt. Clinton also got into the water with us, helped us hold our new friends and we even kissed the 'rays for good luck! Hope I can find those pictures on someone else's camera. Chris had taken an underwater housing for my camera and was able to get the good underwater pictures. This was great fun!

Monday, September 8, 2008

In Cozumel, we went to Cooking School! Great fun with Chef Luis, a Cozumel local who had also studied in France and Italy. We made an appetizer, main dish of fish and stuffed pepper, and a dessert dish with cookies and rice pudding. Pam and Mike, Don, Catherine, Chris and I went cooking while the rest of our group took a beach trip.

Nearly every exit from every port found us on Brett and Melanie's balcony enjoying the view and visiting about our day. Here are a few of the pictures.

And we will sail away. . .

Off we go on our cruise adventure! Because the Hurricane Gustav is messing with our schedule, we will be going to Progresso, Mexico, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman. There are 12 of us total: Don and Linda, Catherine & Mike, Chris, Caylin, Don's sister and husband, and 4 friends of Cat and Mike's: Brett and Melanie and Joseh and Michelle. All of the pictures will be coming up in the next few days. Keep watching. . .

Friday, August 29, 2008

A clean plane and a new beginning

As Don landed on Thursday, August 28, and taxied to the terminal, he was met by two fire trucks. They began spraying water as Don taxied under the arches. This was the final salute in Don's Continental Airlines career. He is now officially retired. WOW! Way to go Don!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The new bedroom color

At long last - we got the bedroom painted! Ah, yes, the term "we" is relative. I cooked dinner while Don painted. I brought Don water while he painted. I told him how good it looked while he painted. And I helped move the furniture back in after Don painted. Don said he is through painting for the rest of his life!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Grocery Game is the Best!

So today at Kroger, I bought the Electrasol, 4 ct. crescent rolls, 2 green Kiwi and 2 gold Kiwi and 3 packages of gum (not pictured) for 19 cents. That's right! I had coupons, plus sale prices, plus $4 in register cash back from 2 weeks ago. WOW this is a fun game!

We also went to Tom Thumb (we being DH and me and DH being Dear Husband). Left is that picture - all for $47.72 with a total savings of $46.48. In case the pictures if hard to decifer, there are 2 loaves of bread, 5 packages of Oscar Meyer lunch meat, a pork loin, tomatoes, strawberries, kleenex, yogurt, and scrubbing bubbles. Yes this is fun. Let me know if you want to join!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The puppies grow up

Backyard Puppies
Playing and Resting And finally sleeping

In some order or another this is how the days are spent. With, of course, plenty of chow time. Adorable.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Puppy Update!

Can it get any cuter? This is how they sleep. They are constantly curled up together. Today they played and played in the laundry room. I took them outside but they were not as crazy out the grass and the cement. Both of them got their first taste of puppy food (canned) and they loved it! Could not get enough! They play and tumble and and fuss and have great fun.

Call in the Pros

This oriental rug was purchased when we lived on Guam from 1976 to 1980. It is made in China and very soft. It has been in our living room, dining room, and is currently residing in our bed room. Since we have wood floors, it is a great asset and accent. This was, however, an afterthought - we put the rug in the room after we moved in and had done all the painting. We chose a beautiful green for the bedroom walls that does not go with the rug (refer to picture on right). So now begins the great debate - what color do we choose? Don and I have made at least 3 trips to the paint stores (we cannot even stick with one store) and brought home a variety of colors, some of which have already been painted over by other colors. Please understand that the example in the picture is just one of many similar places on the bedroom wall. It is really quite disturbing.

Why are we doing this? I really have no idea since we have in our very own family an Interior Designer. I know this because I helped pay for the undergraduate degree and the Master's Degree. And she has earned her NCIDQ. In a moment of clarity (which was hard to find considering the rather catastrophic bedroom walls), I called said family member and asked her to please pick a paint color - any color - and I will paint the walls no questions asked. I hope she comes very soon. Post painting pictures will be posted - later.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Games at Whit's End

This weeks game is called the Grocery Game! It might be hard to identify everything in the picture that was purchased at Kroger - so here goes: 1 package chicken thighs, 2 cans Hormel white chicken in water, cherries, green beans, watermelon, tomatoes, Boston lettuce, 1 case water (Aquafina), Tide 100 oz., and 2 Ocello sponges. All of this should have cost $54.99. Instead it cost $31.74. I can live with that savings!

So how do you play the Grocery Game? I learned from a friend at work who conducted a class. It takes a little work and a little time; the savings are well worth it. There is a website that is worth a preview look: For more information, please e-mail me. I would be happy to write you back or get one-on-one or do a class. It is great fun, and I am able to pass along savings or food items that I have gotten for next to nothing to the children.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

You can go home again!

Today we went home. Sort of. We visited the house where I grew up in Dallas. Mother and Daddy bought the house around 1953 or 1954. We sold it to some friends, Mike and Cindy on the right in the picture, in 1990. They have now sold the house and are moving two streets north. As with so many homes in the north Dallas area, the house will be torn down to make way for a McMansion - hopefully a pretty one!

Above: Chris, Catherine, me and Don, Cindy and Mike

So we walked through the house, reminisced, laughed, and told stories. Current owner Mike has been in and out of the house since he was in 8th grade as his parent's lived behind Mother and Daddy. So between us, we have 54 years of history. Mike and Cindy made very few changes to the house. I have a couple of pictures to post (that are in Chris' camera) of the original (1949) pink tile bathroom! We joke that it finally came back in style. It was great fun to walk back through history. We are amazed that a builder can take this home and tear it down, yet understand the costs involved in restoration and updating. Mike and Cindy are saving the beautiful metal plaque with the address on it (just between me and Don) to give to the new owners of the new house.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

More Baby Pictures

Here are some more pictures of our cuties! We took them outside for a little fun in the sun. Not that they can see anything yet. . .

They each weight in at 10 oz. today.

Wind and Rain

"Climb up my rain barrel; slide down my cellar door. And we'll be jolly friends, forevermore!" Child's nursery song

We are in our second day of high wind. There is no point in picking up the patio furniture until this is over - it will just blow over again. It has also turned rather warm - and there has been no rain for several days.

About a month ago, Don and I decided to try a rain barrel for our new back yard landscaping. After all, it is going to get even hotter and drier and we wanted to water our plants even after the City of McKinney told us to stop watering. Hence the rain barrel. Don ordered one from a website, one with scratches 'cause we didn't care. The first rain filled it up! So he ordered another one and linked them together. We now have 105 gallons of rain water ready - or we will when it rains again. WOW! While we are not exactly the "green homeowners of the year", we are trying to do a little. They are sort of hidden at the end of the patio. It is great fun to fill up the watering can and give the flowers a drink of harvested rainwater. We feel so very earth friendly!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Best plans

"The best laid schemes o' mice and men
Gang aft a-gley."
Robert Burns

I don't speak Old English, but am pretty sure this means that plans don't always work out like we planned them!

We are pleased to announce the birth of Reese's two baby boys - Helio and TK. They are now 1 1/2 days old and absolutely precious, of course. At birth they weighed 7 ounces each.

Here was the original plan: Reese will have a litter of puppies, probably four, and I will raise them and sell them and pay for our cruise in September. Brilliant! Here is how this really worked: Reese had two puppies instead of four. Labor became so difficult for her that we ended up in the puppy emergency room at 3:00 a.m. cause she needed help. #1 was born there, then we came home and #2 arrived a couple of hours later. Mommy and pups are all well now. She is a perfect mother and they are typical males - they eat and sleep! :-)

Conclusion: If we want another doxie puppy, and we do, we will buy one. It will be less expensive and easier on us all!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Happiness is. . .

"Happiness Is a Warm Puppy." Charles Schulz, 1962

Can you even tell how fat Reese is? Her puppies are due the end of this week - May 22 or 23. We are so excited - she is ready to be through with this! More pictures will be posted later.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cooking for the Month

The actual book title is "Once a Month Cooking" and I highly recommend it, especially in these high cost times. To see more information on how Catherine and I spent a Saturday, go to her blog - she has pictures and everything! What I would like to do is figure out a way to teach this to young people - new brides, new moms, or anyone who wants to learn. Is anyone interested?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Quick dinner night

Tip: Always decide by 10:00 in the morning what you are going to do for dinner!

That is sometimes easier said than done, especially if you have to be out the door by 6:30 on your way to work. So maybe the decision about dinner is where to go! :-)
Normally Thursday nights is a fast and easy dinner night because we want to be ready to watch LOST. That show is on a break right now. Even so, tonight's dinner was quick and easy so here it is:

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

Juice of 1 lemon 1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 1 large clove garlic, sliced
Pepper to taste 3 chopped green onions
1 teaspoon dried dill weed 1 1/2 - 2 pound flank steak

Combine all ingredients and pour into a lock top bag. Marinate the flank steak in the bag which has been placed flat in a pan. Put pan in the refrigerator and turn the bag over occasionally for 2 - 12 hours. Broil meat over hot coals for 5 minutes per side for rare meat. Slice meat on the diagonal across the grain. Serves 6.

With this try green beans, minute rice and rolls. Enjoy! And enjoy those good TV shows!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Italian Night

Our neighborhood has a fantastic tradition of a monthly dinner party called Dine Around - we go around to everyone's house. March was my turn. I wanted to create an Italian cafe atmosphere. There were 25 people coming so card tables were definitely in order. Those were covered with white paper a la Macaroni Grill, Chianti bottle candles for the centerpieces, and crayons of course! Everyone brought something to go with the main course which was:

Parmesan Chicken Pasta

3 pound chicken (a rotisserie chicken works great for this)

8 oz. bow tie pasta 1 cup plus chicken broth
4 Tablespoons butter 4 Tablespoons flour
1 cup half and half 1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream 1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons lemon juice 1/3 cup white cooking wine

1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder and cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon each dry mustard and salt
8 oz. fresh mushrooms

Boil chicken and bone (or use the rotisserie chicken and remove from bone). Cook pasta in chicken broth. Make a basic white sauce: Melt butter, add flour and cook until bubbly. Add half and half and 1 cup chicken broth, stirring and cooking until thickened. Add mayo, sour cream, Parmesan, lemon juice, wine, and seasonings (may want to cut the cayenne pepper down some). Saute mushrooms in butter. Place mushrooms, chicken, and pasta in a flat 3 quart casserole. Sprinkle paprika and additional Parmesan on top. Bake 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. This can be frozen. A reduced fat version will also work by using reduced fat sour cream, half and half, and mayo. Do not use the no-fat products as this does not work - I have already tried!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

March Winter Storm

Tip: Be prepared!

We were hardly prepared for two snow events in the month of March - and in the same week! This is a scene from our backyard this afternoon at 3:30. The big white blobs are the "snow flakes" - they are huge!

Fortunately, last Sunday I had decided to decide on menus for the week. That took us through Tuesday. (Would you believe a short week?) Cay cooked last night, and tonight it is pizza. Luckily Don went to the store early today before the snow and got the bake at home kind of pizza. I was so glad I didn't have to cook and could play in the snow instead. One of these weeks I really am going to plan the menus then share them with everyone. Meanwhile, tonight it is a fire and LOST!