Thirsty Thursday #16

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you Thirsty Thursday, all the way from Hawaii (for some strange reason I have a lot of pictures from Hawaii that qualify for Thirsty Thursdays…)!!

This little baby is a coconut mojito.  It was the first drink I had in Hawaii.  Blended, not muddled and oh-so-tasty!   While some at the table said the aftertaste was a bit reminiscent of catnip, I thought the creaminess of the coconut with the lingering of mint gave it an extra layer of delicious texture.  Paired with a sinking sun and a beachside table at Duke’s in Waikiki, I was in heaven 🙂

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PS–after some pressing and a lot harassment, it was clarified that it tasted LIKE catnip smells, not that anyone at the table partakes in catnip…at least that he/she is willing to admit!

I Knew A Girl…

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Yesterday I lost a friend. We met through work and other mutual friends.  We didn’t hang out often, but when we did, things just clicked.  She was one of the kindest, most graceful people I have ever met.  She had been handed a very challenging lot in life and yet, always had a smile and kind word for everyone.  She truly embodied the spirit that life is what you make it and you should always choose happiness.

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As I listen to Ann tell stories about “the time when they…” I become wistful that I didn’t get to spend more time with her before she moved out of NYC.

I decided to share this with you today, not to make you sad but to make you stop and think.  Think about who is important in your life and when was the last time you reached out to them.  I’m the first to admit I’m awful about keeping in contact regularly.  I tend to hear Scarlet’s voice in my head saying that “after all, tomorrow is another day.”  But some times it is not and time runs out.

We live in a world where it is so easy to get distracted from juggling 739 things that we often misprioritize the important stuff in our lives.  But you can slow things down.  You can find a place where you choose happiness.  You can make the most out of each and every day.  I know it can be done because I knew a girl who did it.  And even though she is no longer with us, I know that her very-short life had a lot of fullness, a lot of love, and a lot of bursts of happiness.

Goodbye, Rebecca, thank you for teaching me to always, always choose happy.

Aloha Summer Vacation!

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Sorry for the impromptu month off!  It has been–to say the very least–a crazy summer.  Not that I’ve been traveling, but rather, I’ve been visited by travelers (yay!). Additionally, it has been chaotic at work and there are a plethora of other things not even worth mentioning.  Of course, I didn’t mean to be neglectful in my writing–I just had thoughts of I’ll do it tonight, tomorrow morning, this weekend, definitely for the monthly wine writing challenge…but no…nothing.

I was a little less of a slacker on shezzaspeak, mainly because I’ve just been posting pictures.  When I do write actual posts they tend to be much shorter than here or they feature the princess, of whom I can write about ad nauseam (for the masses, that is–I never get tired of it!).

The ironic thing is that while I haven’t been writing, I have actually been working a schedule of posts for when I am in Hawaii (THE one thing worth mentioning!).

That’s right, I said HAWAII!!!!!  By the way, if I were typing this on my phone I would have totally followed that statement with a slew of rainbow, palm tree, volcano, and surfing emoji.  Not that I surf, but well, I feel like it’s quintessential Hawaii.

This is a trip that has been several years in the making, as we were actually supposed to go last year, but something came up.  Then it was planned for this spring–and again, something came up.  Fearing the trip would never happen, we finally just picked some dates, booked hotels and planes, and viola: HAWAII!!  We are now in the planning everything we want to see, eat, and do stage (which is what really is taking up the majority of my writing time…well, that and random Netflix marathons)!  The great part of this trip is that my friend worlds are converging, as I’m going with April, Christi, and Tracy.  Of course, this means that there won’t be separate trips to see them this year, but IT’S HAWAII (yes, you can expect me to yell that out at least 93 more times in this post!)!!

So in honor of our upcoming trip to HAWAII!, I found an article on Mental_Floss that I thought would be fun to share:

15 Things You Might Not Know About Hawaii

1. There are only 13 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet and every word—and syllable—ends with one of five vowels.

2. That apostrophe-like mark you see in some Hawaiian words is called an ʻokina. It’s a consonant that signifies a slight pause. If two words seem to be spelled exactly alike, but one has an ʻokina, you’re looking at two different words. For example, “moa” means “chicken,” while “moʻa” means “cooked.”

3. The state of Hawaii consists of eight main islands, the biggest of which is called, you guessed it, the Big Island. The Big Island’s official name is Hawai’i.

4. The Big Island’s getting bigger—by more than 42 acres each year—thanks to Kīlauea Volcano. It’s been erupting for 30 years! Mauna Loa, one of the world’s largest volcanoes, is also on the Big Island. Astronauts once trained for moon voyages by walking on its hardened lava fields. Most recently, six NASA-funded researchers spent months on the northern slope simulating a Mars space station.

5. Hawaii is the only U.S. state that commercially grows coffee, cacao, and vanilla beans. (Also: It can take up to five years to grow a single vanilla bean.)

6. The Aloha State’s also good at growing… people. It’s got the highest life expectancy in the United States (81.3 years), despite the fact that…

7. The people of Hawaii consume the most Spam per capita in the U.S.

8. No matter how old you are or how long you’ve lived in the state, only people with Hawaiian ancestry are called “Hawaiians.” People of non-Hawaiian ancestry—even those born and raised there—call themselves “locals.”

9. One Hawaiian: Thermion grallator, also known as the happy face spider for a great picture–go to the Mental Floss article!

10. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hawaii has the highest percentage of Asian Americans (38.6 percent) and multiracial Americans (23.6 percent) in the United States. It also has the lowest percentage of white Americans (24.7 percent).

11. In Hawaii, no celebration’s complete without a lei. And the flower garlands come with strict rules. For starters, it’s impolite to refuse a lei, remove it in front of the person who gave it to you, or wear one that you intend to give to someone else. A lei should never be thrown away. Instead, it should traditionally be returned to the earth, ideally to where its flowers were gathered. And it’s bad luck to give a tied lei to a pregnant woman, as it suggests an umbilical cord around a baby’s neck.

12. The state gem isn’t a standard mineral. Black coral is technically an animal, but it’s often used to make jewelry.

13. The Aloha State is one of four that have outlawed billboards. (The others are Alaska, Maine, and Vermont.)

14. Snakes are also outlawed. The only legal serpents are housed in zoos.

15. When you picture a beautiful Hawaiian getaway, you might imagine a black or white beach. They also come in yellow, red, and green.

Snakes are outlawed?  Hmmm….perhaps not just a vacation, but research for permanently relocating??  Ya’ll would come to visit, right? 😉

HAWAII!!!!!

Fabulous Not Forty Birthday Dinner #2

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What would a birthday trip be without a special birthday dinner?  Granted this one was a lot more low key than the first one.  It was equally as memorable–this time for the food–nor did I get drenched!

First stop: dinner! at a swanky seafood and steak house in St. Paul called Kincaid’s.

We started with Country Fried Calamari, which were (as one would imagine) battered and fried.  What made them unique was the addition of artichoke hearts.  I’m not a big fan of artichoke hearts, but when they’re deep fat fried and served with a garlic aioli, I am aaaaaallllllllllllll over that!

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Of course, we were nearly done before I even thought to take a picture (I’m so embarrassing to take out to eat these days!), so I tried for an artsy shot with my Chateau St. Jean cabernet sauvignon!

When the main course arrived, I grabbed a few quick shots of my surf & turf and April’s shellfish fettuccine.  Of course, I was way more focused on the food than on actually focusing the shot (as you can see)–but trust me, if you would have been smelling dinner, you would have been eager to get to it as well!

Everything was so delicious that stopping with enough room for dessert did not seem like an option.  Besides, who am I to waste delicious steak, shrimp, and au gratin potatoes?

After dinner we took a stroll through downtown St. Paul, headed for our second stop: The Ordway Centre for the Performing Arts, where we had tickets to see Nice Work If You Can Get It. It was a fun show, with lots of great singing-a-long-songs (don’t worry, I refrained from singing–much to everyone’s delight!).

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While a much more low key event than FNFBD#1, Birthday Dinner #2 was a great evening spent enjoying delicious food & wine, lots of laughs, and hanging with one of the coolest people I know–it doesn’t get much happier than that.

La Bella Vita

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Happy New Year!

I hope your holidays have been wonderful and bright and all that jazz.

I recently have been playing host to 4 friends from very different parts of the globe.  Now that they have all gone, stillness has quietly crept back into my house (aside from the yelling at the &%*I$(#^&^%$^ football game), which has allowed for some inner reflection of the craziness that was 2014.  I had some pretty spectacular moments; unfortunately they were not all happy spectacular moments, but a few gut-wrenching ones as well.

Don’t worry this isn’t going to be a sappy-Shez-has-had-too-much-champers-and-going-to-make-everyone-cry post.  First of all, I don’t do sappy very well and secondly, I need to get a move on because it’s halftime and I definitely don’t want to be writing/editing when the game comes on again, lest my laptop be accidentally thrown in a fit of screaming “my granny could run faster than that!”

Where was I?  Oh yes: I just wanted to say thank you.  Thank you to all the wonderful bloggers who support me and challenge me and make me laugh.  And an even bigger THANK YOU to my amazing family and friends for, well, everything.

I’ve had some very surreal moments this year.  Snorkeling with jelly fish, for example, or watching the Times Square ball drop and being covered in confetti or sitting on a deck in Minnesota, staring at a beautiful sunset looking out over Canada or standing next to my cousin while she solidified her life with a really great guy (although NO ONE tell him that because we’ll never hear the end of it!).

Not too long ago, I was having coffee with my friend Des, who remarked that her favorite thing about me was that it didn’t matter what crazy place she wanted to go or what crazy thing she wanted to do, I had a story about why it would be a great idea.

I realized at that very moment that I had been blessed with a very unique outlook on life that made it unpredictable, but oh-so-beautiful.  It was nothing like I ever imagined it would be when I was growing up smack dab in the middle of Texas and it certainly isn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I think–no, I know–that I have spent a lot of time in the past few years obsessing about the negatives and everything that has gone wrong, and so my goal for this year is to focus more on the positives and figure out a way to create even more beauty in my life….starting with reminding the Cowboys they are actually playing today and figuring out how to get them show up and win (what? surely you didn’t expect me to end on a sappy note?!?!).

Best wishes for a happy, prosperous, and beautiful 2015!

xoxo,

Shez and the darling princess pupcicle

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Back on Track with Thirsty Thursdays!

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind.

Where was I before interrupted by Thanksgiving and tryptophan-induced laziness (hey, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)? Oh yes–Key West!

It is only fitting I resume my Key West tales on a Thirsty Thursday, given the copious amounts of adult beverages consumed…

Here James & I pose with our brunch drinks. While the restaurant (more about it later!) no longer offered its Tableside Bloody Mary Cart, we were allowed to build our own Bloody Marys–well, TK and I, that is. James & Christi had piña coladas and mimoas respectively.

A tasty start to brunch, indeed!

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Giving Thanks

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Since mid-August, I feel like my crazy life has been one big trip.

That is not a complaint in any way, shape, or form–just a statement of fact, as for the most part all the trips were amazingly wonderful.  But there is something to be said for being at home with the pupcicle and doing something for the first time in a long time, which was breathe.

There was no thinking about work or planning the next trip or cleaning or planning of ET posts.  I gave myself permission to have a day all about doing what I wanted to do, which was a whole lot of cooking, yelling at stupid ^&*&$%*@&(%) football games, a Harry Potter movie marathon, and snuggling with the Princess Pupcicle, who was happy to oblige.

It was completely opposite to my amazing Thanksgiving last year in Florida.  Nor was it the Thanksgiving I thought I would be having (aka in Texas with the Fam), but it was truly what I needed–so for that I am exceptionally grateful.

I got to geek out with my roasted pumpkin soup by roasting the seeds and adding them to the top.

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And took the time to make mini pumpkin pies with fresh whipped cream (thanks April–Lucille makes it soooooo easy!).  I loved how they turned out–perhaps not Food Magazine worthy, but you can tell they were made with love….AND A LOT OF TIME ROLLING DOUGH!  Poor Addy, she thought she was getting cookies (perhaps a task for this weekend!).

This +

THIS +

that =

THAT =

YUMMY!

YUMMY!

Happy Thanksgiving–even if it wasn’t what you thought it would or should be, I hope that in the end you had a great day!  Gobble-gobble!

The Road On The Overseas Highway Is Paved With Good Intentions

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Okay, I’ll admit it–I’m not the best about reading the Travel Guides thoroughly.  Sure, if something catches my eye, I will read it. But for the most part, I just skim and glance and flip through the pictures.

So when I read that The Florida Keys had over a thousand islands, it didn’t register properly.  Obiviously, as I was suddenly struck with the grand idea to check in (on Facebook) at each island as we passed through on our drive from the mainland to Key West.

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I thought I was being clever and funny.  Honestly, I was expecting to drive through maybe 10 islands.  MAYBE.  Oh, but no…there were more….so many more, much to everyone who follows me on Facebook dismay.  Apparently there are 43 islands connected to Highway 1–so really everyone on Facebook should be thanking me because I know that I didn’t check in to that many islands.  I saw several on the way back that I know I missed, but in order to keep the Facebook peace, I figured it wise to NOT check in on the way back, even to those islands we missed on the way down!

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I didn’t mean to miss them–honest!  But we were driving through some of them so quickly (as in the island itself was tiny, not that TK was driving fast), that sometimes I was still waiting for one check-in to post as we entered a new island!  Somehow I feel that no one minded (other than my OCD) that I skipped a couple.

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Keys were everywhere!  Sure, there were the famous ones we’ve all heard about like Key Largo and Islamorada, but then there were random Keys, such as Elliot Key and Pelican Key and Jeep Key and Sugar Loaf Key and Summerland Key and Big Pine Key and Little Pine Key and I could go on and on and on.  Rather, I dutifully checked us in every time we crossed a bridge into a new Key!  TK thought he’d be hilarious and checked us in (well, since he was driving TECHNICALLY Sissy used his phone to check us in) to Car Key.  HA HA HA HA.  It’s funny.  C’mon–even if you weren’t there because if you were, you’d think it hilarious!

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By the end, probably no one was more sick of my genius plan than I was.  I happily checked us in to Key West (because I am NOT A QUITTER!) and threw my phone in my bag to observe the end of Highway 1, as we literally ran out of land.  So we hung a left and went to the airport, where James was waiting patiently for us to pick her up for our Key West adventure to begin!

Margarita Monday, Part Cuatro

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I wasn’t actually planning on Margarita Monday to be a regular thing, but I figured what the heck–who doesn’t like margaritas?!?!?  Also, if you’d like a picture of your tasty margarita to appear here for Margarita Mondays, please tweet it to me @epicurioustexan!

In honor of today’s Big Birthday: Not 40, Just Fabulous, I thought it appropriate to honor this Margarita Monday with my cranberry margarita from Chevy’s during my Birthday Trip #2 (because when you’re turning Not 40, Just Fabulous, you get multiple birthday trips!).

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Easy as ABC…

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Now that you have The Jackson Five playing background music in your head, I have a confession.  You know those silly/annoying emails that circulate every couple of years in which you answer questions about yourself?  Yeah, I’m one of those annoying people who not only fills them out, but sends them to nearly everyone in my email address book.  I’m a details kinda girl and I love collecting tidbits of information about people.  Who knows what you might learn about your friend that you’ve had since the 2nd grade or some great blackmail information on the annoying coworker 4 desks down?

A couple of months ago I saw a getting to know you post in the format below.  It’s been a long time since I filled one out (probably because everyone on my email list has a secret pact with each other to NEVER EVER send me another!).  Aaaaand it is different than any other that I’ve seen, so I thought I’d give it a go!

How is it different?  Why, thank you for asking: rather than answer questions, you simply list (although WARNING: I never list–I always have to explain!) 26 interesting things about you, each item starting with a letter in the alphabet.  While I’m horrible at explaining, I know that you’re brilliant and by the time you get to “A,” you’ll have it figured out!

One last thing before I begin: individuals did not make this list.  So if you are just reading this in search of your name stop right now and go back to work, uh, I meant lunch.  Don’t pout–invariably I’d leave someone out and then I have to endure years of guilt trips.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  And honestly, how am I supposed to pick between Bubba and beer?  Although, actually that’s rather easy because I’m 250% sure that Bubba (aka my brother) would agree it should be beer.

Now, back to the task at hand.

The ABCs of Shez:

A is for Addy, my darling pupcicle (you know, in case you weren’t aware that I had a darling pupcicle whom I adore!)…and before you call me out on it, yes, I broke the “No Individuals” rule, but it’s the ONLY time I promise.

B is for Beer…mmmmmm….beer (I hope you heard that in a Homer Simpson voice!).  I don’t think that needs further explanation.  Plus you should have seen it coming.

C is for coffee.  Again, no further explanation is needed, especially those who have had the “pleasure” of seeing me in the morning before coffee–it ain’t purty!

D is for dogs.  Pupcicles are special because they bring so much love and joy into our lives–in so many ways.  Of course, it ain’t all sunshine and roses, particularly when you live in NYC and have to pick up poop for a very large dog.  But they make our lives whole with their amusing antics and unconditional love.  PS–if you’re wondering how much I love dogs, I picked them over dessert!  If that’s not love, I don’t know what is!

E is for Eso se que es, which literally translated is confusing so I like to go with the loose translation of “it is what it is” and whenever I say it, people look at me like “did you just say socks in the middle of my rant?”  No, but yes.  Anyway, it is a reminder that life is bigger than all of us and that any time you think everything is perfectly mapped out, the Fates will take the opportunity to intervene so they can laugh at you.  Thus to keep sane, I like to remind myself of three things: eso se que es, que sera sera, and Lord give me coffee to help me change the things I can, and wine to help accept the things I can’t.

F is for FOOTBALL!

G is for Grace.  By that, I don’t mean elegance or beauty or charm.  Did I mention I was clumsy?  Well, I am.  I come by it honestly (right Auntie K??).  As such, my Ome would always call me Miss Grace (as in, I am anything but).  To this day whenever I hear the word grace, I think of my Ome.

H is for Hamburgers.  Preferably ones with cheese and bacon and avocado and served with onion rings….but any ol’ burger with cheese will do! 😉

I is for Ice cream.  And anyone who doesn’t think it should be on EVERYONE’S list is just wrong.

J is for Jigsaw puzzles.  I love to put them together–although I haven’t put one together in a long time.  Why?  Well, whenever I find one that I love and makes me want to set up a card table and put it together, I remember that I live in a house with Princess Adelaide Grace, who is so named because like me, she is anything BUT graceful…

K is for Kaas (Dutch for cheese).  I couldn’t leave cheese off the list, thankfully the Dutch helped me out a bit.  And before you accuse me of using Google Translate to find a language where cheese started with a different letter than C, I will have you know that I was a Rotary Exchange Student to The Netherlands.  How does this relate to cheese?  I used to live about 6 miles from Gouda and would go on Thursdays to the cheese market…because…how can you go wrong with a cheese market???

L is for Laughter, because it truly is the best medicine–unless you have TB or malaria or something like that, then I would highly recommend medication.

M is for Molasses cookies, my favoritest cookies in the world!

N is for Nelson, as in Willie (and Waylon and the boys).

O is for Oven–I love baking and roasting and I can go without a lot of things, but an oven ain’t one of them!

P is for Peckish.  For most people, it means slight hungry.  But I’m never slightly hungry, so when you hear me say peckish know that it means “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse and chase the rider, but I don’t want you to think me gluttonous, so I’m going to just pretend that I’m kinda hungry and then either eat all of the snacks you foolishly set out or go back for seconds and thirds when we do eat.”

Q is for quixotic, which is just fun to say…quixotic, quixotic, quixotic!

R is for reading and don’t ask me to pick a favorite book.  I’m still trying to narrow my list down to 10 so I can post it on FB (and we’ll just pretend I wasn’t tagged to do it a month ago…sorry Becca!)

S is for Shiner…and failing that, Stella (and don’t tell me it’s cheating because I’ve already listed beer…it’s MY list!)

T is for Tolkien.  You thought it would be TEXAS! didn’t you?  I just wanted to share a line in a poem in Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, which completely sums up my life:  All those who wander are not lost.  I do hope, though, that you appreciate that I was still able to work TEXAS! into the T slot 😉

U is for umbrellas.  I totally have Mary Poppins to thank for my love of umbrellas.  Ironically, I hate using them in NYC.  People here are oblivious when using them and tend to poke other people in the head, repeatedly until I feel an urge to grab the umbrella out of their hands and give them a good smack with it.  I refrain, of course, but I know that I’m one huge rainstorm away from needing bail money.

V is for vino.  What?  It’s a word.  It is in my house….and that’s all that matters.

W is for wanderlust.  The reason wine is called vino in this list.  Traveling is truly my passion.  Even more so than eating and drinking.  Luckily, I consider imbibing in the local food and drink an integral part of traveling!  I was bit by the wanderlust bug when I went to The Netherlands (see K is for Kaas) right after high school–and I have no plans to stop any time soon and “I haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on my list.”

X is for Xi, which is one of my favorite words to play in Words with Friends.

Y is for Yoga, something I’ve recently started doing.  Who knew stretching and finding on your inner zen could be so draining?  Please don’t write in and tell me yoga is more than stretching and finding your inner zen.  I know it is, but when you’re watching others it looks so relaxing and graceful.  I’m here to tell you for me it is neither relaxing nor graceful, but I do enjoy blundering through class–even if I look like a bull in a china shop.

Z is for zazzy.  And yes, you have to say it like Sheldon.  And if you need further explanation, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore (if you’re worried about it, I can totally be bought with wine, beer, and cheese….but not crappy cheese–if you’re trying to bribe me, it had better be aaaaaaa-mazing cheese!).

And that’s me in a nutshell!

For the record, this was a lot more tedious than I thought it would be, so not as easy as the Jackson Five would have you believe!

Thanks for indulging me!

hey mom are you done with the stupid laptop yet?

hey momma are you done with the stupid laptop yet?