Thursday, December 31, 2009

died and gone to heaven

As I blogged a few days ago, I just returned from San Antonio where I was able to hang out with my family for a few days.

The highlight was meeting my cousin's new baby (he's perfectly adorable, by the way), and spending time with aunts, uncles and cousins whom I adore. Every time we get together, I'm a bit sad that we don't do it more often, so it's sort of bittersweet. But I'm so blessed and lucky to have such dear people in my life, so instead I'll focus on that emotion.

But now ... on to serious business....


Give me a pitcher of sangria and a few hours in that place with some of my besties (Laura and Beverly come to mind), and I think I'd be happier than a pig in slop ... or, given the environment, más feliz que un cerdo en barro.

Not only was I able to add some bling to my Mexican tin ornament collection, but I was also able to visually feast on the colors of a culture I adore.

It was a beautiful day ... both outside and inside. Only in mi querida Texas can the sky be so blue. Plus, I got to spend my little excursion with the guy I married. Again -- más feliz que un cerdo en barro. :)

I swear, this store calls to my soul. There's no way I'd be able to post only a few pictures, so I'm sharing a crap-ton.

Monday, December 28, 2009

short trip to the alamo city

A big chunk of my heart lives in San Antonio, Texas. My dad's "half" of the family all reside in Bexar County, with only a small number of exceptions scattered outside the area.

Growing up, trips to San Antonio for me meant visiting Grandma and Grandpa's house and playing with cousins. If anything else existed in SA beyond the walls of my grandparent's home, it didn't really matter to me -- I didn't need, nor was I interested, in much more.

As I've grown up, I've discovered that San Antonio is a fun place to spend a few days away from home. The culture is uniquely and perfectly Tex-Mex, on a much greater scale than any other city of its size. There's a touristy element (beyond just the Alamo and the Riverwalk) that lends itself to visitors from out of town, but not in an overly garish manner, but just enough to be entertaining.

Tomorrow Ty, Aidan and I are hitting the road for a few days and heading over to the Alamo City. I'm most excited about meeting my new second cousin, Baby Bryson, and visiting with family. But hitting any of the following spots ... some of my favorites in San Antonio, would be queso on top.

1. The Menger Hotel -- one of my favorite hotels in the world. Within walking distance of the Alamo and the River, the Menger sits in a centrally perfect location in downtown SA. But my two favorite (yes, it's a tie) aspects of the Menger are its historically gorgeous bar, built in 1887, as well as the mysterious ghosts and spirits who reside inside the old hotel. I've even had my own unexplained spooky encounter at the Menger ... but that's a post for a different day. :)

According to the hotel's website, the watering hole at the Menger was where Teddy Roosevelt recruited many of his Rough Riders, volunteers for the American volunteer Cavalry in the Spanish-American war. The pub has a paneled ceiling of cherry wood, booths and beveled mirrors from France. It's cozy in size, yet perfectly so. Oh, and they serve a killer a cosmo.

2. Dolores Del Rio Ristorante & Grill Room - Betcha thought I'd be writing about a Tex-Mex restaurant in a post about San Antonio, didn't ya?! Believe it or not, one of the best overall experiences I've had at an Italian restaurant has been in San Antonio. Dolores Del Rio is a magnificent hidden gem. Look for the little place where a tree on the river grows right out of the building.

The restaurant is located in one of the less-travelled areas of the Riverwalk, and if you blink as you walk by it, it's easy to miss. With live jazz 7-nights a week, as well as a belly dancer who makes a sexy appearance at 8:30 in the evening (don't miss it!), the eclectic bohemian ambiance of this tiny restaurant is a total feast for all the senses.

Oh, and the menu and wine list (mostly Italians, heavy on reds) is top-notch. Menu tip du jour: go for the gnocchi and chicken in bay leaf sauce -- divine.

If you're lucky enough, you'll be seated right by the kitchen, which usually isn't the best location in most restaurants. But the owners and chefs at Dolores are eager to share old world stories about Italy, as well as tidbits about the menu. Again, such a super overall dining experience. It's hard to leave!

3. Alamo Fiesta on Main - THE place to go for gaudy (yet fun!) Tex-Mex party supplies, arts and crafts, as well as furniture and textiles from abroad -- an explosion of Dia de los Muertos, sugar skulls, papel picado, piñatas, and cascarones.

Located in an old white house near San Antonio College close to downtown on Main, Alamo Fiesta epitomizes color. It's also from where most of the ornaments on my Mexican tin ornament tree originated!

¡Felíz año nuevo!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

christmas eve

And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, Which shall be to all people.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David A Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, Lying in a manger. "

-St. Luke ii. 10-12

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"...on my way to where the air is sweet ...."

I'm truly so sad.

Actress Alaina Reed-Amini of Sesame Street has passed after a long and courageous battle with breast cancer.

Reed-Amini joined the Sesame Street cast in 1976 and played Olivia, a photographer and sister of the character Gordon. "Olivia" lived on Sesame Street for 12 years and was a very big part of my childhood, along with all of her other neighbors.

Sesame Street was such a big part of my childhood -- it made learning fun long before the likes of Nick Jr. or Sprout.

Godspeed, Olivia. Thank you for letting millions of us kids of the 70s and 80s hang out with you in the neighborhood.

Monday, December 21, 2009

happiest states

Considering the fact that we're facing imminent news about being moved across the country (or the world, for that matter), I'm constantly trying to gather info about different places and people.

This list falls into that [informal] research-gathering category -- I thought it was interesting.


The results are based on an examination of two data sets, one that included personal reports of happiness for 1.3 million Americans and the other that included objective measures, such as how crowded that state is, air quality, home prices and other factors known to impact quality of life.

Click here to learn more about the survey and what it means.

Here are the 50 U.S. states (and the District of Columbia) in
order of their well-being:

1. Louisiana
2. Hawaii
3. Florida
4. Tennessee
5. Arizona
6. Mississippi
7. Montana
8. South Carolina
9. Alabama
10. Maine
11. Alaska
12. North Carolina
13. Wyoming
14. Idaho
15. South Dakota
16. Texas
17. Arkansas
18. Vermont
19. Georgia
20. Oklahoma
21. Colorado
22. Delaware
23. Utah
24. New Mexico
25. North Dakota
26. Minnesota
27. New Hampshire
28. Virginia
29. Wisconsin
30. Oregon
31. Iowa
32. Kansas
33. Nebraska
34. West Virginia
35. Kentucky
36. Washington
37. District of Columbia
38. Missouri
39. Nevada
40. Maryland
41. Pennsylvania
42. Rhode Island
43. Massachusetts
44. Ohio
45. Illinois
46. California
47. Indiana
48. Michigan
49. New Jersey
50. Connecticut
51. New York

Sunday, December 20, 2009

four alarm party

Aidan's fourth birthday is December 23rd. Because of his father's and my poor timing, the kid has been pretty much screwed out of a decent party on his actual birthday, due to the busy tme of year. So we're going to have to continue to get creative in the future.

We were very fortunate to find a cool locale this past weekend to celebrate his first "official" birthday party -- the Houston Fire Museum. Up 'til this point, I was able to get away with just a family celebration, but this year, he was on to me from the get go.

The museum was a fun spot for 15 rowdy three and four-year-olds to give off some steam in the middle of a busy holiday season. And I was able to sneak in a cooler/large thermos full of screw drivers to provide some holiday cheer for the adults that were also present.

Aidan's grandfather from Portland, OR also flew down for a few days just for the occasion, so it was a fun day.

How is it possible that my baby is almost four years-old? I didn't fully understand the meaning of the word "bittersweet" until I became a mother. Watching him grow up is exactly that -- bittersweet.