Monday, August 30, 2010


Ladies and Gentlemen,

If you don't want to read my rant and rave, please don't read further. If you like when I get riled up, please read on. My soapbox was definitely out for this one...

Dear Sackers (and most Checkers) at the Grocery store,

I am beginning to despise you as a cross section of the population. Yes, there are some redeeming people amongst you, but they are few and far between. It matters not where you work, Kroger and HEB both have the distinction of hiring the most incompetent people to bag my groceries. After many years of doing u-scan, I know, for a fact, the job is not difficult. So why does every trip to the store make my blood boil?!?!?

First, if you ask me how I am doing and I (or, more frequently, my husband) asks you how you are doing in turn, a simple fine is a suitable and professional answer. Good, great, doing well, are also acceptable answers. Do not use the open door to release your misery at having to be at work on me. I don't care that you have been at work for an hour and now you are tired. I don't care that you have been at work for four hours and Cindy on lane 4 got to go on break before you. I don't care that you are annoyed with your manager and I don't want to hear any negativity from someone who should have been trained to simply smile and do their job! It really bothers me that you complain about your job when there are people that pass through your line each day unsure of where they are going to cover next weeks groceries because they can't have your job because you are (inadequately) filling it.

Second, many, many people have reusable bags these days. Many companies have also made insulated bags. Insulated bags are usually to help keep cold stuff, cold and hot stuff, hot. In the absence of hot stuff, use the bags for cold stuff. All of it. And no, produce does not trump cheese, yogurt, eggs, frozen goods, or milk as cold products. If there is no room for produce in the insulated bags, it will be ok.

Also, in the event that I forget my reusable bags, I will, of course, settle for plastic or paper. This does not give you the liberty to put one or two items in a plastic bag and hand it to me. A container of strawberries will be just fine with other produce or smaller items. Lettuce and a lemon may look heavier than a single bag can manage, but trust me, you can probably throw in the cucumber, tomatoes, and heck, you might even be able to fit the apples in their too. The only items that should be in a plastic bag by themselves is raw meat and even when I am using reusable bags, it is nice to go ahead and use plastic for those. And never, ever, ever double my plastic bag and I will probably yell at you if you even think about tying my plastic bags into a double knot.

Third, I have a ten month old daughter. You frequently refer to her as a little boy even when she is wearing pink or a dress. This upsets me, but only mildly so. The part I am frustrated about is when you see her burp cloth in the above mentioned reusable bags. I bring it in the event of a spit up emergency. I figured it would be better than having her spit up or puke all over your store where people buy groceries. You don't need to comment about it or handle it, just leave it in the bag. It is very evident that it is a burp cloth...yes I knew it was in there, no don't take it out, no I would rather you did not touch it.

Fourth, GET OFF YOUR CELL PHONE. You are at work, you need to address my needs before you finish texting Mary Lou about your plans this weekend. You don't need to check the time because it has only been one minute since you checked it last time. You would not believe how many times I have had to wait for checkers, baggers, and stockers to get off the phone at work. I think it should be grounds for writing up and dismissal. Imagine if you were at church asking your pastor for help and you looked down to see him texting LOL to someone on his phone. Or if you doctor was in the middle of giving you stitches and looked at the time on his phone every other minute. While I am on things I don't like to see you doing, let's go over this (although I shouldn't have to) no touching your hair (you are touching my food), no eating, no drinking, and absolutely no coughing into your hand or picking your nose. Disgusting...

Lastly, checkers, I will help you out if you aren't sure what fresh ginger or a shallot looks like, but if an item is on advertised special, know what it is...the poor girl didn't know what a plum was today and they have been on sale at HEB for the past three weeks.

Maybe I have the worst luck in the world, but I rather enjoy grocery shopping and wish I could enjoy every aspect of my experience (unlike what I am doing now).

Good looking food on Yahoo

This recipe on yahoo looked simply delicious...I had to share...;_ylt=AlvyqkjkvpbLJmwfVibHfpLkgKU5

New York City!!!

Last weekend we went on a little get away with Matt's parents to New York. We have enjoyed visiting New York each time we go and like that we have done a lot of the tourist-y stuff so now we can sort of sit back and enjoy the city.

MacKenzie did awesome on both flights there and back. She only got a bit fussy for the last few minutes headed to NYC (we were already landed, just moving to the gate) and slept pretty much the entire flight home (which was nice since we were on the tarmac waiting for takeoff for an hour). She caught a few naps and after the first night slept great in her crib. The first night she had been pushed past her breaking point and we had to pull her into bed with us (thank goodness we had a king size bed). I never realized how much this child wiggles in her sleep, she spent most of the night getting as close to me as possible!

Here are a few pictures of our trip and I will interject with the basics of what we did...

When we first arrived we got settled in the hotel room and then walked around a little bit. When in the elevator we saw somebody with a bag from a store called MacKenzie Childs. We knew we had to visit the store and we were hoping it was a kid or baby store (it wasn't). We did get her a little book from there as they have a small children's section in the back. We then went to Little Italy for the best pizza in the world...

MacKenzie sitting at Lombardi's enjoying the pizza!

With Dee and Doc outside of Lombardi's

We walked around Little Italy a bit and took the subway back up to our hotel.

The next morning Matt, MacKenzie, and I slept in a bit (this was the night she stayed in our bed...not good for sleeping) and Matt's parents grabbed some breakfast for us in the room. While they were out, Matt's dad discovered that they were closing Park Avenue all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge for bikers, rollerbladers, joggers, and walkers. They were also renting out free bikes if you didn't mind waiting a bit. Matt and his Dad decided to rent bikes (because how many people can say they rode a bike down Park) and saw the sights of the city in the morning.

Self Portrait

I want to ride my bicycle...

After they came back we decided to walk down Park to Central Park and look around. It was fun to walk in the middle of the street and not be too crowded to gawk at all of the architecture and stores.


At Central Park we looked at the zoo (which we were planning on doing Monday) and saw the sea lions putting on a bit of a show. We then found a pretzel vendor and bought the DRYEST pretzels ever to feed to the pigeons. MacKenzie liked the birds, but they are apparently well fed because they didn't stick around for long! She also enjoyed watching all of the children with their nannies, but was very confused by the naughty child who needed a good stern talking to and maybe even a good Texas spanking...

Daddy and MacKenzie at the Park

We started making our way back towards the hotel for lunch at a bistro near by, but stopped in FAO Schwartz to look around. That place is pretty amazing and had some really cool toys that I wish I had the money for.

Matt and I then went to see the Saturday matinee for Jersey Boys. The plot/script is not the best out there, but the music and performances were great! Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons really produced a lot of top notch songs that I didn't realize were theirs. Matt's parents watched MacKenzie and took her to the Rockefeller Center where we traded off baby duty! They went to fancy dinner and to Jersey Boys that evening and we met my good friend Katie for dinner.

The next morning we walked around (some more) and headed to the Yankees game. It was sad to see the lot where Old Yankee Stadium used to be, but from what I understand it needed to be redone in a bad way. We were surrounded by a family reunion in our seats at the Yankee game and the family was a little obnoxious, but we rather enjoyed our seats. It was misting and raining the whole game so we were glad we were under cover. Especially for the hour rain delay between the 5th and 6th innings. The Yankees won 10-0 and we got to see a Grand Slam which was pretty cool.
MacKenzie for one of the few moments she was awake at the Yankees game.

The rest of the trip is a little uneventful because the rain never really went away. We weren't able to go to the zoo as planned and we were going to get more pictures with MacKenzie in familiar New York places. We will have to take her back when she is older to do all those touristy things with her...and to eat more pizza at Lombardi's!

Part of our hotel...

I will be posting a concise review of each place we ate on my foodie blog soon, but will post a link here when I do...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Italian Cream Cake

As requested by a dear friend and my sister-in-law, here is my recipe for Italian Cream Cake. It is borrowed from Emeril Legasse, but there are small changes that I believe make all the difference!


For the cake:

  • 1/2 cup shortening, room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting: (I would either double or one and a half this recipe to frost the whole cake)

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • powdered sugar, to taste (some people like cream cheese icing to taste cheesy, others like it sweet)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans.

In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the shortening, butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together onto a sheet of waxed or parchment paper twice. With the mixer on low speed, add the sifted ingredients in batches alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. I do this in three batches.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, and gently fold into the prepared batter. Add the coconut, pecans and vanilla and fold into the batter. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared cake pans and bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle of each cake. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. When the cakes are completely cool, stack the layers with the frosting and frost the sides and top.

While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla and, using an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy. Add the sifted powdered sugar and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the nuts and fold together. Keep refrigerated until you are ready to frost the cake.

This is how your beaters should look when the egg whites are stiff enough. They should slide out of the bowl in one large, foamy clump...

Fold gently...

Make sure not to overbake this cake, frost, and enjoy...

I sometimes top this cake with orange zest or mint leaves for decoration.

Make sure the shortening you use is clean. I once made this cake for Matt's family for Christmas, not realizing that Matt's dad uses the shortening to rub on the outside of potatoes before baking. Potato skin flavoring is very pungent and makes for a cake that does not taste light, fluffy, and delicious, but more like dirty dishwater or pencil shavings.

Fall is coming...I promise

Before my Texas readers say anything, I promise...I am not crazy...but Fall IS coming. I know that you are fanning yourself, thinking about as little as possible so as to not waste too much energy when it is so hot outside, but I swear, relief is on the way...

Headed up to College Station yesterday, MacKenzie was sleeping in the car seat, Matt is listening to me ramble on about nothing, and suddenly on Highway 6 I stop. I take a deep breath, a couple sniffs, and sit back deliciously satisfied. Why? Because I could sense it. What? I could sense FALL. I can't really describe it, but all of you know what it is. It is the turning of the air from humid and sticky to crisp and...well...fallish. The way the air hits your nose and your eyes is just different. And the air takes on a different smell. It is calmer some how, not still, not heavy, but calm and light and almost sweet. This isn't just about the temperature (although Thank God for the coolness we have had...only 90s is great), but it is about how the air feels and envelops you. I can usually sense it a few good weeks before everyone else can, and I am here to tell you ladies and gentlemen, Fall is coming and it is coming in a great way. I sensed fall several more times on the ride there and back and I can promise you that this fall is going to be cool and crisp in a way that we haven't seen for a few years. You want more proof? Look at this picture...

Ok, so it probably doesn't look like much to you, but this is a picture I took from the car on the way home last night. You see the orange dot in the middle of the black sky? That was the moon for a brief time last night. That, my friends, is an autumn moon...and further proof that I am not crazy. Fall is upon us ladies and gentlemen and it is time to get excited.

I love fall. I love sweaters and sweatshirts and long sleeve shirts under short sleeve shirts and jeans. I love pumpkin and apples and cinnamon and squash and soups and stews and chili and turkey. I love the crisp air. I love high school and college football and wearing as much maroon as I can. I love waking up not sweating in sweatpants and having hot tea or cocoa while reading the Sunday newspaper (ok, I just read the ads, but moving on). I love eating and spending time outside without melting. I love fall decorations and colors and the anticipation leading up to Thanksgiving and shopping for loved ones for Christmas presents. I love the way that I feel, after being weighed down by the heat of the summer, the lightness that you feel in the fall. I love looking forward to lighting the fireplace for the first time and going to the drive-in movies while sitting in the bed of Matt's truck. I love when it gets just cool enough to ride with the windows down and maybe turn the seat heaters on just to keep you toasty. I love fall and am so glad that it is coming in a good way this year!

So we won't have a fall like the following picture taken a few years ago in Central Park, but here is to looking forward to it anyways!

10 month pics

Just a few pictures of Mac-a-doodle-doo this past month!

MacKenzie and her BFF- Mommy!

You can barely see her, she is so well camoflauged!

Our trip to see the Mayes side of the family in Ardmore, Oklahoma

Lunch with PawPaw at Luby's...the onesie
is in tribute to Matt's bro-in-law who flies the B-1.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

10 months old


Today you turn 10 months old, I can hardly believe it. Last night we came back from New York and your very first big trip/flight on an airplane. I will commit a post to that later this week. As we were driving home from the airport we passed the hospital where you were born at almost the precise time Mommy and Daddy were driving to the hospital to have you 10 months ago. What an amazing time it has been since then. You give us such joy and happiness in all that you do. We still aren't sure how exactly we have come to deserve you in our lives, but we are glad we have been blessed to be your parents.

This month has been quite amazing. You began crawling and are now a little speed demon who crawls around as fast as you can. You will sometimes crawl to follow us around, but you are also getting confident and adventurous so you will crawl off to play on your own too. You pull up on anything you can and think you can climb onto anything (the couch, the bed, Mommy's head). You also are doing amazing at taking steps when we are holding your hands and helping you walk. You aren't doing much creeping around the furniture yet, but that is probably not too far off in the future. You are so confident in Mommy holding you that you barely hold on to me and you are so trusting that when I pretend to let you fall you just laugh and laugh. You might be a little daredevil in the making!

Speaking of laughing, you do so all the time. You have been particularly good at making us laugh in the past few days which in turn makes you laugh and the cycle will repeat and repeat. You love to be tickled and you like when we make your stuffed animals "get you". Recently, Grammy Kiki and I discovered that you like to "accidentally" bump into people when you are being held and you will laugh hard for that! You love music and you always turn your head to listen for music on t.v. or the radio. You will bounce and bob to the music and have way better rhythm than Mommy or Daddy (or both of us combined). Mommy can appreciate how much you like music because even in the womb you were always active when music was playing. You have really gotten into books the past few weeks and love to sit and turn the pages. You will even pull out all of your books in the living room and "read" through them on your own for long stretches of time. I hope we continue to foster a deep love for reading in you. You love chasing after the basketball and plastic wire ball that are in your toy box. You also get a huge kick out of ripping paper with your teeth and playing with any mundane object (water bottle, bracelet, dust bunny, ect). You really enjoy watching your signing time DVD's as well, but are less interested in Baby Einstein. You have started to reach out for high fives and waving hello and goodbye, but you are very serious when strangers say hello to you. So many people approach you because of how alert and happy you are, but you always give them a serious and stern face!

You eat whatever we eat except for oats, seafood, and nuts. We will give you seafood and nuts at about a year to test it out and the doctor said to wait on oats for awhile since you were having difficulty with them. You have recently developed a love for macaroni and cheese, but also love yogurt, grapes, green beans, and crackers. If we have different kinds of food on your tray you will go for the green beans first! We are working on you drinking more from a sippy cup and even taking one of your nursings out in favor of the sippy cup filled with milk. You make a mess, but you are learning! Sometimes you will do a happy dance when you are eating which makes us feel more and more like we are raising a little foodie to be!

You sleep great, from 9:30 until 7:30 or so and lately have been taking two really great naps. This has been wonderful so Mommy can get some things done! When we put you in your crib you roll over onto your belly, tuck your legs underneath you, reach for your blanket, and pretty much fall right to sleep.

Thank you for a wonderful month. We love you so much and cannot believe that we will be planning a birthday party soon!
Hugs and Kisses,
We love you!
Mommy and Daddy

P.S. Pictures later!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Her stats...I know I am tardy

At her 9 month appointment (yes I know she is almost 10 months, but the post is what is late, not the appointment) Mac did really well. She is hitting all of her developmental milestones, except the nurse asked if she played patty cake and I had to answer no because I had never thought to play that with her (does that make me a bad mother?). Her height was in the 97th percentile at 29 3/4 inches, her weight was 85th percentile at 21 pounds and change, and her head was 75th percentile. So like the doctor said, she is a big girl, but not a fat girl by any means. Almost directly after her appointment she started crawling and is now following us wherever we go. She knows that walking would be more grownup of her so she likes to try to stand, but is too timid to take her hands off the ground. She does great pulling up and walking with our assistance though! The doctor was happy with her eating solids and told me to keep up the good work!

Here are some pictures:

MacKenzie and Henry went to see Toy Story 3 at the Drive in movie together
In this picture Henry is showing MacKenzie all of the characters!

I'm not sure what she ate that got on her face

My big, happy girl...she really is like this 95% of the time!

Such a sweetie pie!

We are getting ready for her first plane trip as we are taking a little trip to NYC. We are excited to show MacKenzie the big city and to indulge in our favorite city things!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Missing the WHC

At the end of last year as I packed all of my things from my classroom many people asked if I was sad to be leaving Cy-Ridge. I told them no because it didn't really feel like I was leaving. Every year I had moved classrooms so I was used to packing up all of my belongings. Additionally, every June we say goodbye to seeing each other every day and we say goodbye to our students some of whom (due to moving and avoiding us like the plague) we will never see again. This summer just felt like any other summer with a baby added into the mix.

This morning however was different. Today starts inservice for CFISD and next Monday all the little children will present their shining, smiling faces to their new teachers. And I am not a part of that. I am so excited to be working towards staying home with MacKenzie and looking forward to finding an income source that fits into the needs of our family, but it is still strange. For the past three years I have been a part of a very special teaching team. We genuinely cared about each other and for the most part enjoyed being around each other. Like any other group of people we had our differences, but we were like a family. So I think it is normal that I am feeling a twinge of sadness. I am happy and sad at the same time...I am sappy? I am had? Whatever word you decide that I am, know that the World History Crew (WHC) at Cy-Ridge High School was a very, very important part of my life and gave me some wonderful memories!

All of this being said, note that I am not sorry about missing filling out paper work, working on my syllabus, getting copies ready, thinking of those first few days of procedures... I am sorry to not be a part of a good group of friends though...

Part of the WHC when we were
victorious in the Social Studies Olympics
(this is very normal behavior for us)

All of this being said, the search for something part time or at home is still on...please forward on any ideas or suggestions!!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pulled pork

So I failed at putting up other recipes...o well, that might be an ongoing project. In the mean time...

Pork butt (tee-hee) was on sale for .97 cents at Kroger this week. I grabbed the smallest one I could (10 pounds), an onion, a jar of pickles, and some bbq sauce. Once home I grabbed my handy dandy crockpot, rough sliced the onions and threw them in the pot. Matt cut the pork into smaller chunks to help expedite the cooking and breaking down process (pork butt is a wonderful piece of meat, but has a lot of connective tissue that needs to slowly cook away to become wonderful flavor). We topped off the onions and pork with some of the sauce, 1/2 cup or so of pickle juice, 1/2 cup of water, house seasoning (garlic powder, salt, pepper, red pepper) and it is now cooking away on the high, 4 hour setting. This started at 1:30 and the flavor is great, but it needs more time to become tender and delicious. Give it a shot! We are serving it on yeast rolls, with the pickles, and sliced onions at small group tonight. I think we are also having potato salad and a green salad so it should be a great time to be had by all!