Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy 60th Birthday, Dad!

Today is my Dad's 60th Birthday. Unfortunately I am unable to be with him today... BUT he is surrounded by family. Mom and Dad accompanied Grammy out to Winters, CA to visit our "west coast family". It's a full house over there... my aunt and uncle, Rosanne and Ed, my cousin Jean and her husband John, their two girls Anne and Katie, Grammy, Mom and Dad. I know they will have a fantastic week.

In honor of my dad's birthday, here are some pictures over the years...

The family around 1983

James and me playing in the mud, dressed in Dad's Army gear, as Dad looks on.

Faithful husband... he ran to Sonic to get Mom a drink on my wedding day... raspberry iced tea I am sure.

Proud Papa on my wedding day!

Dad... I hope you have a fantastic day with everyone! Know that I wish I could be there with you! I Love You!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Admiral rolls in the mud...

We took Admiral to the dog park today. It's a beautiful day today after raining all week. We met our friends Jason and Jennifer and their dog Drake and Jon and Natalie and their dog Daisy. All are labs...Admiral is white, Drake is black and Daisy is chocolate.

Admiral loves the dog park. It's so big and open and he likes to play with the other dogs. We even got him to go through the doggie tunnel a couple of times!

When we got to the park, I saw the mud puddles from this weeks rain and told Ryan I knew Admiral would go lay down in one of them before the day was over. Sure enough, after he got nice and tired, he ran right over and plopped himself down.

All the other doggie parents had a good laugh as he came out of the puddle looking half white lab, half chocolate lab.

At least he had that haircut yesterday so he was easier to clean and dry off. He's passed out for the day now. Lots of chasing other dogs!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Texas Country Wedding: Kevin and Steph

This month we started the Wedding Circuit: Part 2! Last year we had a long list of weddings to attend throughout the year and throughout the country. This year is shaping up to be pretty similar with weddings from Brenham/Round Top, TX to Nashville, TN. And, to top it off, two of the weddings are Ryan's brother's so its a busy year for us!

We started the year of weddings with Ryan's middle brother Kevin and his new wife Steph. Steph and Kevin decided to have a "Destination Wedding" to the little towns of Round Top, Brenham and Shelby, TX. This area is the Antique Mecca of Texas and provides a beautiful backdrop for a classy, Texas country wedding.

The groomsmen (and their significant others) all stayed at the Scenic Hills Resort -- a cute, fantastic little place with one main farm house (3 bedroom) and 7 smaller (1 bedroom) cabins that are walking distance to the farm house. It was so fun to have everyone all together. We cooked breakfast in the morning, soaked in the hot tub, and just enjoyed each other's company.

Ryan's parents hosted a fantastic rehearsal dinner. It's always so fun to see the pictures of the bride and groom growing up, especially when they are family. And of course to hear all the wonderful and funny stories the friends and family have about the happy couple. Also, a chance to get some pictures of the cousins.

The day of the wedding, we took a quick trip to Round Top for Lunch at Stone Cellar Pizza. It was a cute wine cellar and pizza place and the food was fantastic!

The wedding ceremony was held at the cutest little chapel, Shelby Chapel and the reception was held at the La Bahai Dance Hall. The food was delicious and it was a excellent party! It was great to see all of Ryan's family and to celebrate the start of Kevin and Steph's married life together.

Kevin and Steph, we wish you many years of happiness! And Steph, welcome to the family!

Admiral Gets a Haircut

Today, Admiral had his first haircut. It was for dual purpose:
  1. It's warming up and he spends a lot of time outside
  2. He sheds... A LOT

Here are some before pictures from Christmas...

And some after pictures...

His wrinkly neck

Streeeeetch! Notice the darker stripe down his back. Its sort of like a white/yellow skunk.

And another full body shot.

In general, he doesn't look THAT much different, but he definitely looks skinnier. The groomer said he didn't behave too well while she was trying to trim him. He was a little wiggle worm. But, she was successful! I hope he likes his new 'do.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Food Network Cooking: Fried Chicken

I had a couple of chicken breasts thawed out and was trying to decide what to make. I saw Guy Fieri make fried chicken on the Food Network a couple of weeks ago and had been wanting to try it. So, I went back to the Food Network website and started looking at Fried Chicken Recipes, intending to use Guy's. But, the idea of Paula Deen and Fried Chicken really just made the most sense. I couldn't resist trying her "Grandmother Paul's Fried Chicken". I think it was a sign.

Ryan's parents gave us a bunch of leftover's from Kevin's rehearsal dinner... mashed potatoes and green beans are a perfect compliment to Fried Chicken! Made this meal even more worth it to only have to cook the chicken! Thanks!

My grandmother (my dad's mom) made a mean fried chicken. She made fried chicken every time we came to visit--everyone's favorite! This is one of the recipes, like her chocolate chip cookies, that no matter how many times she showed us how she made it, our attempts were never quite the same.

Paula's Grandmother did not deep fry the chicken... she pan fried and steamed the chicken... basically frying in a little oil, with the lid on. I had to watch the video of the episode where Paula (yes, first name basis here) cooked this to make sure I understood. I'd suggest you do the same... its less than 3 minutes. All in all, it was a good recipe. The meat was a little dry... maybe I should try soaking the chicken in a brine like Guy's recipe calls for.

Grandmother Paul's Fried Chicken
By: Paula Deen
"My Grandmother Paul always said to season chicken and return it to the refrigerator and let it sit as long as time permits, at least 2 to 3 hours. And always use small chickens."

Salt and pepper, for seasoning chicken
Crisco shortening, for frying
3 eggs
1/3 cup water
2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 (2 1/2 pound) chicken, cut into pieces

Heat shortening in a cast iron skillet to 350 degrees F.

Beat eggs with water in a small bowl. In a shallow bowl, season flour with pepper. Dip chicken pieces in egg mixture and then coat well in flour mixture. Carefully add to hot shortening, in batches if necessary, place lid on top of skillet, and fry until brown and crisp. Remember that dark meat requires a longer cooking time (about 13 to 14 minutes, compared to 8 to 10 minutes for white meat.)

Food Network Cooking: Banana Nut Bread

I've been craving Banana Nut Bread recently. The Banana Nut Loaf is the only reason I go to Starbucks... I don't drink coffee. Something about Banana Nut Bread reminds me of home. Maybe it's the pecans, I dunno? Of course, Ryan doesn't eat pecans so this whole loaf went to work with me and was gone by the end of the day. I can't really say that proves it's great, the people at my work will eat anything. But, several did come back for seconds, so I feel pretty good about this one! :)

I've bought banana's a little more often recently but never seem to eat them all, so I have been sticking one in the freezer here and there. I finally had enough to make some bread so I searched the web for a good recipe. I decided I'd try the Food Network website and hope Paul Dean would have a recipe... I thought Banana Bread would be right up her alley. Either she didn't have one or I didn't like how it sounded, so I picked Tyler Florence instead.

Note: Peeling banana's that have been frozen is not fun. I suggest peeling what you can while frozen, then using a potato peeler to get the rest off. Once they thaw, it is complete mush and not fun!

Banana Bread with Pecans
By: Tyler Florence -- Food Network Host

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together for a good 3 minutes; you want a light and fluffy banana cream. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla; beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated; no need to overly blend. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Give the pan a good rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.

Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Don't get nervous if the banana bread develops a crack down the center of the loaf; that's no mistake, it's typical. Rotate the pan periodically to ensure even browning.

Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes or so, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Toast the slices of banana bread, dust with confectioners' sugar, and serve.

Next time, I think I'll make these as muffins that way I can make a couple without pecans for Ryan.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


We picked out all our granite. It was hard to get good pictures so I tried to find some stock photos from the web of the one's I knew the name of. Hopefully you can get the idea. We tried to pick as many of the smaller areas (vanities, niches, etc) from a granite fabricators scraps to save money and we found some awesome stuff. We hope to only have to buy full slabs for the big areas like the Kitchen and Master Bath.

Hope this gives you a general idea of what we picked.


Master Bath (Similar to kitchen, a little lighter and more gold)

Wine Room/Breakfast Hutch

Powder Room

Niche's (Matches the tile inserts for the floor)

Downstairs Guest (Mom, thats your room)

Upstairs Bathroom that has Slate Floors

Other upstairs Bathroom


There was not much major change this week. I haven't been to the house since last Monday as the framer had to go back to finish some items at one of Ryan's other houses most of last week.

Ryan took some pictures for me today and you can see that the rafters look mostly finished so you can really see the roof line.

And the back...

This is a great picture from "across the pond".

And a close up of the same shot...

I think things are going to be a little slow the next couple of weeks with the rain in the forecast and spring break. Hopefully I can make it out to house for a quick look on Friday before we head to Brenham/Round Top for Ryan's brother's wedding.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Goodbye "Best Boat Ever" :(

Saturday was a sad day. We sold our boat... the boat that Ryan always called the "best boat ever". We loved that boat and had some awesome times on it. From just the two of us going out early morning to ski and wakeboard to long days with 10+ friends to weekends with our families--it was better than we could have ever imagined when we bought it in 2007.

I grew up skiing and always hoped to have a boat and a lake house one day. We loved having the boat.

Ryan learned to wakeboard and got pretty darn good at it.

I got to spend heavenly moments on my ski... just me and the water...

Until that time I fell... hard... that sucked. (click for captions)

Lots of friends joined us on the boat and there were several LONG and super FUN days on the water!

Admiral made a couple of trips to the lake with us... and loved it!

We spent a great weekend with my family where Helmi got to drive the boat!

One of the best memories is Ryan's parents on the tube...

And my mom skiing again (she did get up and ski for about 100 yards before she got tired).

And then, of course, one of the worst memories was the day my dad broke his pelvis. The first time they visited after we got the boat, Dad fell trying to get up (he had not skiied in several years). He felt something snap which led to a long ordeal getting him in the boat and to the emergency clinic... where the xrays showed several fractures. Luckily there was no surgery required and we do laugh about it now!

I cried as the boat left with its new owners. A family with two teenage girls... I know our baby is going to a good home. They say the two best days in a boat owners life are the day they buy it and the day they sell it. Only half of that is true for us. I hated to see our boat drive away. One day we'll get a new one and hopefull, one day, we'll have that house on a lake too!

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