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We just got back from our Austin getaway.  We had a blast, but boy, are we tired.   We did a lot of driving and walking which combined with the Texas heat, really drained us.  Also,  I’m pretty sure I gained at least ten pounds in about 4 days!  We ate and ate. And then ate some more.

We started the trip with a short drive to Dallas and spent an afternoon and evening shopping and eating.  First, we went to Northpark Mall to stretch our legs and do some window shopping.  I love that mall but most of the stores are a bit too fancy for my tastes.  Our little girl had fun at the Disney store.  She had never been in  one before and when we left, she had a total meltdown.  A Wetzel’s pretzel cheered her up again.  That was my first taste of their pretzels and they are really good.  I think I like them better than Auntie Anne’s.

For dinner that night we chose Chip’s Old Fashioned Hamburger.  It was awesome.  The burgers were juicy and very flavorful.  It was my favorite of the two burgers I had on the trip.   The place was pretty tiny and we got there just in time.  As we were finishing up, the place filled up and they started playing the Mav’s/Heat game on TV.  We got out of their fast as I am still mad at the Mav’s for beating my team.

The next day we headed down I-35 towards Austin.  Back in the early spring by husband had driven to Houston for work and stopped at Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana for lunch.  He was so carried away with it that he bought a bunch of bread and cookies back home to me.  Their cherry ice box cookies are his favorite. He LOVES them. Personally, I would rather have a chocolate chip cookie.  Anyway, when we saw a billboard advertising a Collin Street Bakery in Waco we knew we had to stop there for lunch.

I was really impressed with the place.  It was sparkling clean and the employees were super friendly.  They serve sandwiches, soups and salads and also sell pies, cakes, coffee and nuts.  We got sandwiches for lunch and while we ate them we took turns going to the counter to look at the baked goods so we could figure out what we wanted.

My husband wanted some cherry cookies and I ordered a white cupcake.  I wasn’t sure if it would be good but it was delicious.  The cake was super moist and tender and the icing was perfect.  Not too sweet and it didn’t have that shortening taste at all.  I saw people carrying them out by the dozen.  I wish I had one right now!

After our lunch it was only a few hours to Austin.  When we got there, we decided to drive all the way downtown and then work our way up towards where our hotel was located.  My husband loved the eclectic look of sixth street and Guadalupe.  He had no idea what to expect so I was pleased that he was digging Austin.  We checked into our hotel and then decided to head back down to Mount Bonnel for a good view of the city.

We parked our car and hiked up the stairs to the lookout.  The view from Mount Bonnel is very neat.  You can see lots of super nice houses and a pretty good view of downtown.  The only bad part was the heat! It was scorching hot and I had forgotten to put sunscreen on my little girl so we didn’t stay long at all.  We took a few photos and then headed down the mountain in search of a nice cold drink.  I can’t wait to tell you about the rest of our trip.  We packed a lot of fun into just a few days.

 

Doughuts :) by Amy Loves Yah

Doughnuts 🙂 by Amy Loves Yah

Tomorrow is National Doughnut Day.  That is something to celebrate.

Doughnut grease pretty much runs thru my veins.   One of my first memories is being very small, probably only two or three years old, and going to the doughnut shop where my teenage sister worked.  I remember sitting in the small shop with my mom and brother eating doughnuts watching her work behind the counter.  She started working there at the tender age of fifteen and basically ran the shop after the owner went home when he was done making the doughnuts.  He even trusted her to pay herself out of the money from the cash register!

My sister moved on from the doughnut shop after a few years but we still frequented the town’s other doughnut places.  If we didn’t go to get doughnuts on Saturday then we had them at church on Sunday.  As a special treat after dinner, sometimes my doughnut loving mom would make doughnuts with canned biscuit dough that she fried in oil and glazed with a powdered sugar and milk frosting.  Those doughnuts were so good, piping hot and dripping with gooey icing.  Anyone else drooling right now?

My husband and I got a kick out of discovering that we shared a doughnut-laden background.  His big brother had a job at another doughnut shop in town several years after my sister graduated from school.   There was even a time when his parents had to fill in at the doughnut shop for him so that he could start a more promising job at a big local company.  My mother-in-law says she hated coming home smelling like grease and sugar but how bad could that really be?

When I was in college, I saw Rosie O’Donnell raving about Krispy Kreme on her talk show so when I visited NYC for the first time, I sought out the famed doughnut shop and tasted my first one.  It was a cream-filled chocolate-glazed pillow of heaven!  The day that we flew back home, I got up early to take the subway back to Krispy Kreme in order to buy a dozen to take back home for my family to sample.  They somehow survived a full day of flying across country with only minimal smushing.   You can imagine my disgust when my family declared them “okay“.

A few years after that, Krispy Kreme opened a store near our town.  There was a huge line for weeks to get those things.  Of course, I was one of the carboholics waiting in line for an hour for one of the hot doughnuts.  I don’t think that anyone can deny their awesomeness when hot out of the fryer.  Delicious!

The doughnut theme in our family almost came full circle right after my husband and I got married.  We saw an ad in the paper for a doughnut shop that was for sale.   It cost about ten grand and we even took a drive to go check it out one Sunday afternoon.  We didn’t have the money but planned on borrowing it from my dad.  We thought about it for several days but ultimately decided that it wasn’t a good investment.  When we think about that now we find it kind of hilarious.  The thought of us making doughnuts for a living is too funny.

Sadly, doughnuts again became a staple in my diet a few years ago.  My mother had been diagnosed with cancer and due to the aggressive chemotherapy she was taking, her appetite went down to nothing.  She literally almost starved herself to death at one point.  One of the only things that she could even think about eating were doughnuts.  Before her treatments, we would stop by the doughnut shop that she liked and get some.  The maple glazed were her favorite but she usually would only eat a few bites. During this time, I was pregnant with my girl and I would easily put away three or four doughnuts while watching my mom pick at hers.  I definitely think that eating those doughnuts became a small comfort to me at a time that was so heavy with worry and sadness.   It’s been two years since she passed away and I can’t drive past that doughnut shop without getting a little overwhelmed emotionally.

We’ve passed our love of doughnuts onto our little girl.  She even has some doughnut themed pajamas.  I’ll have to make sure they are clean so she can wear them to bed tonight.   I’m even thinking about making doughnuts with her as a way to pass on the doughnut love that my mom and I shared.  If I do, I’ll post about it later.  Until then, go eat a doughnut and think about all of the ways those fluffy circles of dough heaven make our lives better!

1. In school, I studied french for two years. Hence, the title of this post.

2. Right now, I’m craving Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies so bad I can barely stand it.

3. I’m obsessed with Jersey Shore.  Sick and pathetic, I know.

4.Today I went to the zoo with my toddler and my husband.  It was super fun.

5. I could eat hot dogs everyday for the rest of my life.  They’re that good.

6. My husband and I have known each other since the fourth grade.

7. I have nightmares about gorillas and lions.  I’m kind of worried about tonight. (see number 4)

8. My favorite coffee drink is a skinny vanilla latte.

9. I’m a little OCD.  Actually, this blog was born out of a need for distraction from some of my obsessions.

10. I’ve eaten almost an entire jar of almond butter since Friday.

My birthday is coming up in a few weeks and that means my husband will soon be asking me about gift ideas.  I’m not even sure why he bothers to ask because he doesn’t go out and get my gift on his own.  I’m not exactly sure what goes one between other couples when it comes to birthday gifts but I think that we are unconventional.  Usually, I just tell him what I want and then we end up going to the mall and buying it together.  Sometimes I will just go ahead and buy myself something and then tell people it was a birthday gift from him.   I think the main reason is that we are both really picky people.  Also, we might be a little lazy.

On Mother’s day, we were at the mall and I spotted a pair of Steve Madden sunglasses that I liked.  I bought them and then told him that it could be his gift to me.  He was totally fine with that.  Father’s day is coming up and I guarantee you that we will do something similar for his gift from us.  Would this make other people mad?  Is it hurtful to have a spouse that doesn’t put much thought into birthdays or gift giving?

I know that it does feel special to have a surprise gift because we have both unexpectedly given great gifts to each other in the past and we both loved it.  It makes me think we should really think about doing that some more.  One year, he gave me an iPod right after they came out. I was shocked because it was one of the good ones, with video and everything.  I had mentioned that I wanted one but totally didn’t expect it.  For his birthday last year, I got him a nice North Face jacket.  He was so happy because he like them but thought they were too expensive.

Now I feel really bad about this.  Maybe we need to care more.  Maybe we need to be more into accepting any gift rather than getting what we want.  Oh well. Until then, I know what I want for my upcoming birthday  – a Nook.

Reading has always been something that I loved to do. In fact, when I was an adolescent, my parents used to ground me from books! Crazy, Huh?   That just doesn’t seem right.  Honestly, it was the only thing that would work as a punishment for me.  Reading was basically all I did! I was a nerd, okay?

In grade school I was super into The Babysitter’s Club.  In high school, I started reading a lot of the classics.  In college, I read a lot of biographies and history books.   Now that I am an adult, I read a lot of  crime, mystery, memoirs, and non-fiction.  Anything good and interesting, I will read.

I only have a few concerns about this ereader.  One is that I am kind of a tight wad and buying books has always bugged me.  I’ve always been a library gal.  The problem is that my toddler is way too active to take to the library.  When I do take her, I am only there for her.   Borrowing ebooks is an option at libraries now so I’m hopeful that will offset the cost of buying books.  My other concern is just wondering if I will like it, although everyone I know has told me that I will love it and use it.

Stay tuned to see if the husband is listening to my requests.  If I have anything to do with it, he will be.

I’ve told you before that I love to cook but I’m kind of lazy when it comes to making weeknight meals.   The last thing I want to do is make a huge dinner and then clean all of that up before having to bathe my toddler and get her ready for bed.  That’s why I really like recipes that require just a few ingredients and don’t mess up a lot of dishes.

The husband and I are trying to eat more protein and less carbs which means a lot of chicken.   About a week ago,  I wanted to make chicken strips for dinner but didn’t have any bread crumbs, which is what I would usually use to bread chicken tenders.  I dug through my cabinets to see what I had and the only thing I could find was plain Cheerio’s.  Target brand to be specific.  I decided that those would have to work.  What I came up with was the tastiest, crunchiest chicken tenders that I have ever made at home and it only takes about three ingredients to make – chicken, Cheerio’s and Cajun seasoning.  I’m not counting the oil, salt or pepper.

When it comes to making chicken, I prefer frying it. I know that it’s not the healthiest option, but I just can’t seem to make good chicken in the oven.  My baked chicken always ends up being super tough or not cooked all the way.   This fried chicken always turns out juicy on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside.  My husband says that these are the best homemade chicken tenders he has ever tasted.  The cereal seems to add a lot of subtle flavor and texture that you don’t get when using bread crumbs or flour.

The first thing I did was put about 2 cups of the cereal in a large plastic freezer bag and then got my toddler to work smashing them.  I’ve since found, that a rolling-pin is the best way to do this, but you can pretty much use anything heavy.

Crush the cereal up pretty fine, until it is unrecognizable as Cheerio’s.   Then, add about 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning.  If you like things spicy, you can add more to taste.  Also, a pinch of salt and pepper wouldn’t hurt anything right about now.  Once you have your spices in there just shake the bag up a little bit to combine everything.  After that, pour the crumbs onto a plate or shallow dish.

Now it’s time for the chicken. I used frozen chicken breast tenders.  The first time I made this, I tried to take the chicken right out of the freezer and dip it into the crumbs.  The crumbs wouldn’t stick.  I ended up de-frosting them for a bit in the microwave.  They don’t have to be defrosted all the way through, just enough so that the outside of the tenders are wet looking.  That will make the crumbs stick.  Here’s what my tenders looked like before I de-frosted them.

See how they look frosty?  That’s not good.  They need to glisten in order for the crumbs to stick.

The next step is getting the crumbs on the chicken.  The first time I made this, I just dumped the chicken into the bag with the crumbs and shook it around.  That worked, but it was hard to get the tenders out without making a mess.  I’ve since found that it’s better to dip them one by one into the crumbs on the pie plate.

Pour your oil (I used olive oil) into a skillet and place on medium heat.  I usually put a little crumb of cereal in the oil and when it sizzles, I add the chicken to the pan.  Do this carefully so that oil doesn’t splash you. That hurts!  Fry the chicken until it’s cook through, turning once to get both sides browned nicely.

When the chicken is done, transfer it to a paper towel lined plate to cool it off.  Serve with dipping sauce or ketchup.

Tips

If you want to make it even crunchier, you can add another step.  Whisk one egg white up until frothy and then dip the chicken into the egg white before the cereal crumbs.  The chicken will have a thicker, crunchier coating. 

Adding a teaspoon or so of seasoned salt to the cereal crumbs will make it even spicier and more flavorful.

Roach Killers by Thelonious Gonzo

This year we have decided to travel to Austin for our summer getaway.  My husband has never been there, and I have been telling him what an awesome city it is.  Since we had our daughter, the only trips we have taken have been to the big city of Dallas.  My husband loves going to Dallas and thinks it has great places to eat and shop.  He doesn’t think we can do anything in Austin that we couldn’t do in Dallas.  To me, Dallas is more of a concrete jungle.  When we go there, I feel like we spend a lot of time driving and getting in and out of our car.  I’m really excited for him to experience Austin’s cool and laid back vibe.

My sister lived in Austin when I was a teenager and during the summer I would go stay with her for weeks at a time.  I loved it.   She took me to Hamilton Pool and Mount Bonnel.   One of the best memories that I have of Austin is going to Horde Fest back in the 90’s.    Lenny Kravitz, Dave Matthew’s Band and Rusted Root.  My best friend and I had never been to an outdoor concert before and we had no idea what to expect.  We were sheltered, okay?  It was a super hot Texas day and we just about died of thirst but it was a blast.  We were so young and dumb.

I even enrolled at the community college there for my sophomore year but punked out and went back home for a stupid boy.  Not the one I married.   Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had stayed in Austin. Probably would’ve married a Longhorn fan. Yuck.

To be honest, I am not a big traveler.  I’ve been to NYC, Chicago, Orlando, Los Angeles and lots of other places, but I’ve become the biggest homebody ever!  My husband it getting really sick of it, but I love to stay in my little comfort zone and sleep in my own bed at night.   Plus, I’ve developed quite the fear of flying.  I’m sure that some of my travel phobia is really laziness.  It’s so much tougher to get motivated to go anywhere with a baby or small child.  I’m amazed at the families who take a bunch of kids to Disney World.   The thought of that totally overwhelms me at this point.

One of the things that I don’t enjoy about traveling with a small child is staying in a hotel room.  It’s such a hassle to park your car, check in,  and get your luggage to your room, all with a toddler.  I find it exhausting.  If we can find what we are looking for, we are going to use  homeaway to find a place to stay during our trip.  I think it will be so much better to be able to pull up into a driveway and go right into our rented guest house or cottage.  No elevators, no parking lots.  Oh, and how convenient would it be to rent something with a fenced in back yard for my girl to play in?

Something that I do enjoy about traveling is the food!  We would rather eat at a cheap, fun, and unique greasy spoon than a fancy shmancy restaurant.   When I was younger, my favorite place to eat in Austin was Chuy’s but now that Dallas has a few, it’s not as big of a priority to get there.  Some of our favorites types of food are tacos, burgers, and barbecue. Oh, and anything sweet!    I need to check Urbanspoon to see what is popular.  It’s always fun to find those hidden gems.  I saw a spot on cooking channel about G’Raj Mahal Cafe that really intrigued me.  Indian food is something that I am not super familiar with but the little bit that I have had was yummy.  I’m not sure if it would be a good place for a toddler, though.

I also need to make a list of things to do with a two-year old in Austin.  She is very active so any place where she can run her little legs and explore will be great.  We are thinking Zilker Park and Barton Springs.  Lots of the rentals we have looked at have been near that area.  Hopefully, we can find lots of kid friendly places to take her so she can burn off some of her energy.

The husband and I both love to shop so I”m sure we will be looking for lots of fun stores to visit.  I remember loving a used book store near downtown. That might be a good place to take my daughter. She loves to look at books.  We may even take a side trip to some outlet malls.  I don’t care for outlet malls but my husband thinks he gets good deals shopping them.   We definitely have to go to Ikea and get a cinnamon roll.  I’m obsessed with those suckers.  When we go to Dallas, I make my husband go there several times just so I can eat them more than once on my trip.

I’m really excited to see how Austin has grown and changed since I last visited. It’s been about ten years now and I know that there must be tons of new stuff to see, eat and buy.  If you have any tips please share!

There’s a nightmare in my closet.  Really.

An organizer’s nightmare.

It’s actually scarier than a nightmare because it’s real.  It’s dark and damp.  It smells strange.

I’m sure that it has spiders.  And spider webs.

Once upon a time, it was not a nightmare.  It was a nicely organized space.  Clothes were hanging neatly, categorized by color.  Shoes were lined up.  There were no overflowing plastic bins.

A couple of things happened in my life, though.  And my closet has been neglected.

First, I quit my job so I had no reason to go in there to find something to wear everyday.  Nope,  now  I can I find my outfit du jour on the floor, next to the pile of dirty laundry.

Then, had a baby that has grown into a toddler.  Toys that she once played with have been dumped into this wasteland.

Two years ago I lost my mom to the dreaded c-word. Belongings of hers that I can’t bear to part with but have no useful purpose in the rest of my home have ended up in here.  Her yearbooks from high school.  Her diploma.  Papers and things that she kept for some reason.  I can’t bring myself to throw them away because obviously they meant something to her.

Whenever I am forced to go in here it makes me sad.   I need to find a home for this stuff.

This space is draining my energy.

I’m hoping that airing this out will get me motivated to do something about it.  Any ideas or tips on how to tackle it?