23 May 2016

Another New Restaurant or I'm Rocking No. 63....

Another New Restaurant aka Rocking No. 63
(#63: Try at least 12 new restaurants in 2016)

Well, I'm not getting much done these days but I am getting out to eat occasionally. 
Yay for that. 

Last weekend involved a road trip to the Dallas area with some friends for another friend's surprise sixtieth birthday party.   The party was actually east of Dallas but on the way we stopped right in downtown Big D for lunch.

I would show you some pictures but my phone died. Crashed. Cratered. Actually it was wearing prison stripes as its home screen. Not a good look for it, either. It's the first time I've had a phone die without being dropped in water or otherwise abused. 

Anyway, lunch. 

We went to Lark on the Park which wins the prize for most fun name ever. Doesn't it just sound like a place you would love to visit? 

Hey wait! Sweet Peggy took pics and she shared them with me/you. 

It's one of those just too perfect spare urban restaurants with seasonal cuisine, a good craft beer list and a great view of -duh!- the park across the street. I had the grilled cheese- perfectly hedonistic- and the most sumptuous sweet potato chips ever. 

But the thing that makes the restaurant really special to me is the artwork. Giant chalkboards cover the walls and every quarter they have different artists come in and draw huge murals. Past walls have included work by tattoo artists, graphic designers, jewelers, students and professors. What a wonderful way to share art on a regularly changing basis.

 Unfortunately their website does not have info on the current artists.



 This was my very favorite.
Something about prisoners(?) in kitty caps? 
Or adults in kid pajamas?
It spoke to me. 

So much effort for such an ephemeral piece.

Art: it does a body good. Or something like that. 

And the birthday friend? She was very very surprised!


Happy happy birthday, Liddy!

Next week we go to Colorado to watch Bunny graduate with the rest of her class. She's been out of school since December but she's not official until next weekend. 

I can't believe I haven't seen my Twin Sisters since they were dressed in snow. Wonder if it is all gone now?  

The Twin Sisters

Posting will be sparse but I promise to check in at some point. 

12 May 2016

No. 6: Go to the Symphony and No. 63: Go to some new restaurants

No. 6: Go to the Symphony
and
No. 63: Try at least 12 new restaurants this year (2016)


I actually counted this one as done after going to an evening of cello and piano music with my friend Martha. It was symphony music if not the actual symphony.

BUT NOW!

 Warm up time.
Did you know the symphony members are unionized


Now I have been to the symphony for real and, once again, it was with friend Martha.  She's a good friend to have because she likes to help me with my challenges.


Me, Martha and the Houston Symphony in the background.

She and her husband have season tickets to the Houston Symphony and fortunately for me, Martha's husband ended up in Finland the night of this performance.

The program? Mendelssohn Symphony No.4 in A major, Opus 90  along with Fauré Requiem, Opus 48.

The fun part? Martha has been going to the symphony for a while now in addition to being a band mom so she could explain to me all the ins and outs of who was on the stage and why. In addition she explained that this program had a chorus- not that common- and the Requiem was light on the violins- also not common. Plus it was a shorter show than usual which was fine because I loved what I heard, but I didn't need to hear another hour's worth.

The music was beautiful, the singing was lovely and there were solo performances by a soprano and baritone.  All in all, a perfect night of music.

BUT!!!

Martha felt that we had not experienced enough music for the evening so we finished the night at World of Beer listening to a friend of hers that is in a cover band, The Miller Effect. 

Band in the back, ummm, beer in the front.
(Photo credit goes to Martha)

I think I toddled home about midnight.

O! And the new restaurant??

Mexican street food, served inside!

On the way to the symphony we stopped at 100% Taquito on the Southwest Freeway in Houston. Definitely not a fancy dinner but we had margaritas and tacos (I had been jonesing for some shrimp tacos for a few days at that point) and it was so cute and fun and authentic. Not a Tex-Mex restaurant, the menu specifically advises "NOT Tex-Mex". No queso dip on the menu. But good street tacos served in air conditioned comfort, what could be better than that?

A great evening and TWO challenges completed. Not bad for a Saturday night.

Thanks, Martha!




10 May 2016

Well...


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Well...

Well....


I've been absent again. And I've been thinking about why I can't seem to get into this Project Ninety x Ninety.
I think I've figured it out. A couple of things.
One: I'm busy. Not necessarily doing fun stuff but just taking care of business.
Two: and this is the main one: It's too broad a concept. Thirty years. I  can't think that far ahead. I don't want to think that far ahead. (Denial may run in my family. Just sayin'.)

So...what to do?

Think I'm going to steal a line from Buzz Lightyear.  I'm going back to Sixty x Sixty and just change it to "Project Sixty x Sixty... and Beyond."

Today's inspiration.

I'll still have me a list of challenges. I'll still post but maybe not regularly. Or maybe it will be. It will be looser until I figure out exactly what I'm doing with myself.

Apologies for the confusion. It's my state of mind recently.

BUT!

I have been having fun which is another part of the picture.

In the past month I have been to a musical with the former President George H.W. Bush and his lovely wife, Barbara.  I have slept with Frank Lloyd Wright.  I have partied with Florida Georgia Line.

Let me clarify.

A sweet friend took me to see the Sound of Music. A Sunday afternoon performance. The former Prez and his wife live in Houston and are great supporters of the arts. They were also in attendance and were acknowledged by the theater. It's funny, but I have been to three performances over the years where the Bushes have also been in attendance.  This time was particularly interesting as we happened to walk out right as they were also leaving.  Traffic was stopped- both pedestrian and vehicular. Mr. Bush was wheeled out in his wheelchair.  Secret Service men swarmed. The Bushes were loaded up and some very innocuous looking cars suddenly started flashing lights. Off they drove.    I was probably 40 feet from them at the time.

Apparently this is the obligatory "I was here" photo. 

( On another note, I have seen three presidents in my life time. President Kennedy when he was in San Antonio, two nights before he was shot.  President George W. Bush when he was still Governor of Texas and he led the Ft. Bend County Parade one year. And the Senior Bushes at the theater.)



Sleeping with Frank Lloyd Wright? Well, of course not literally.  He's been dead since I was four- that would be gross.  But I did visit a friend whose house has art.  And over my futon was a piece of wallpaper- original and hand printed-from his home furnishings collection, Taliesin.  Tacked to the wall with push pins. I was petrified a stretch during the night would result in a wallpaper tear. 




And Florida Georgia Line? They were at the  Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo where I went with my friend Martha. 



Me and Martha. 
Contemplating new careers 
as Rodeo Clowns.

They were much twangier in person than I expected. But a great show and a wonderful evening. 



Florida Georgia Line in concert at the HLSR.

Anyway, to infinity and beyond!! 

(And getting a great giggle at the fact that I've managed to include a toy action figure, a country music band, a former President and an acclaimed architect in one post.)

Three Friends and No. 63



Thursday, February 11, 2016


Three Friends...Forty Two Years Apart


Three Friends Over Time.


Forty two years ago these three girls spent Spring Break in San Miguel de Allende. It was our senior year of high school. I spearheaded the trip because I had been going to San Miguel for six years already and wanted to share this magical place with my friends. 


Me and Mary 



Mary and Emily                                                 

We went by TRAIN! Overnight in a sleeping car  from Nuevo Laredo to a field NEAR San Miguel. Someone picked us up I guess. I don't really remember. I do know another friend's uncle drove us back to the train stop and we sat in the back of his truck, drinking beer and nibbling on crackers in the middle of this field, until the train came. Frequently I look back and wonder how I knew how to do this stuff.    


Waiting for the train. 
In a field. 
With cocktails. 
Of course. 

The train trip was memorable mostly for the flasher who was outside of our window in Monterrey. We were stopped for over an hour and this lovely gentleman in his official flasher raincoat stood outside our window putting on a show. One of us- no names will be named- stayed glued to the window screaming "O my God! Look what he's doing now. O no. Don't look."  And if we tried to peek, she pushed us away so we didn't interfere with her view.  

While there, we shopped. 



We ate street food.

Mary takes her chances with some churros.


We went to the bars and met handsome Mexican boys. 

Me and Eduardo. 
I believe we also talked those boys into buying us drinks.
And dancing. 
Even in 1974 there were photo bombers.

Fingers and toes were painted. 

 Apparently that red shirt got passed around. 

The day after I got home from Mexico 
I fell off a horse and broke that leg...


And then we came home, graduated and grew apart. We went to different schools in different states or - in my case- a different country.     
I have seen these ladies at high school reunions and a funeral over the last 40ish years. Possibly five times total. (More really, but not much.)

Last Monday we had lunch. 

A three and a half hour lunch. 

So much has changed yet so little.  

Mary, Emily, Me. 
No handsome Mexican men to buy us cocktails this time. 
And we've improved with age, no? 

It is now irrelevant which "groups" we are in and surprisingly we all expressed the fact that we felt marginal/invisible/unimportant in high school even though that wasn't true.  Perceptions. 

They are extremely talented and hard working women. While I have loved my life and think going to school in Mexico certainly formed me, I do occasionally regret not getting a degree. I just couldn't settle on what I wanted to be when I grew up. I'm still wrestling with that. 

And this lunch was at a new restaurant for me so there's another notch on No. 63's belt. 

We ate at Seasons 52 in Houston City Centre.  Fabulous crab cakes and salads.  We were a boring group and basically all had the same meal. Only the salads varied. No worries. Our meals were fresh and delicious. 

The best part of the day? A phrase which came up and I have co-opted as my rallying cry for the year, the decade, the rest of my life.  
"I'm in." 

Works, doesn't it? 



No. 65: Travel to a New State



Thursday, February 4, 2016


No. 65: Travel to a New State and more Reconnecting

No. 65: Travel to a New State (Trying to see how many I can visit)
and More Reconnecting!

Somehow along the way January (and now February) became the poster child for meeting up with friends new and old. This makes me very happy.  I have seen high school friends, bunko friends, neighborhood friends.

This past weekend I managed to travel someplace new AND meet up with some neighbors who moved away from Texas 15 years ago. Winning!

The reason for the out of state visit?  Bunny wanted to see the University of Mississippi, one of the schools that was on her short list for college next year.

So last Thursday Bunny, my bunko and neighbor friend Nancy and her son Cade all headed off on a road trip to Mississippi. It's a long drive. Longer if you stop at the roadside attractions like the chain saw carver in Carthage.

Rick Kuper/ Chainsaw carver

But we made it!

 Thursday night arrival!


Friday morning dawned in Oxford, Mississippi and we were at the University for a tour by 10am.

And....
we were charmed.

What a perfect little college and perfect little college town. Brick buildings. The epitome of Southern style. The quad. The Grove.  The town square. O my.

Gorgeous architecture.
Look at those columns!


Friday night Bunny spent the night in a dorm with a friend and attended a frat party. "Mom, they're just like in the movies! Crammed with people, everyone drinking, it was fun!"

The school tour was so good, we had to go find t-shirts.

While I realize Oxford is not all of Mississippi, that's ok. Looks like I am going to have plenty of opportunity to see the rest of the state in the next few years.

A college decision has been made. Ole Miss it is!

Bunny at the entrance to The Grove.
In her new t-shirt.

Now, to the reconnecting part of the weekend.

From Mississippi we headed to Little Rock, Arkansas- another place I had never been.

And there we met with our old neighbors, Carrie and Bobby.  They used to live two doors down from me and around the corner from Nancy before they moved off to Little Rock.

Our children (their firsts and my last) were born October, November and January, all in a row. So we got the kids back together ....

Bunny, Cade and Grace
(January, October and November)


And enjoyed a wonderful meal with lots of laughing and reminiscing.




Carrie, Nancy, Bobby and Me.


All in all a pretty perfect weekend,
And I visited a state for No. 65.

(Arkansas didn't count as new.  I once spent a weekend in Eureka Springs when my aunt was married in Thorncrown Chapel.)

No. 63: Restaurant #1 of 12

Friday, January 22, 2016


Restaurant #1 of 12/ No. 63

No. 63. Try at least 12 new restaurants in 2016. 
Restaurant #1

My original thought was try a new restaurant a month but that might be too limiting.  I don't want to have to run out on the last day of the month just to fulfill a challenge. So twelve restaurants in a year, sounds doable and just enough fun to keep it interesting.

It also goes along with my desire to reconnect with people that I haven't seen in a while or people I "talk to" on Facebook but don't actually see in real life.This gives me an excuse to get out of my comfort zone and go....(Like I need an excuse!)

Anyhooo....


A couple of weeks ago a sweet friend from High School  asked me when I was going back to Colorado and if we could have lunch first.    Confessing that I wasn't going back anytime soon did not get me knocked off the lunch invite AND she even planned where we were going.  That was a huge relief as I have been getting lost in my little tiny space that I drive everyday. It's funny how things can look unfamiliar so quickly. 

We met at State of Grace which was so perfect and trendy and oo-la-la that it almost hurt.




Snapped a quick pic before I left... even the entry is perfect.

A lovely private-ish dining area, excellent food and eh...a little spotty service. Hey! You can't have everything, I guess.

There was a queso fundido to start, although it did not come with serving ware or plates. Details. The second time we requested plates and spoons, someone actually came and assembled tortillas full of yummy cheese for us.
We both had a Shrimp Cobb salad with Green Goddess dressing which I am pretty sure is a throwback to the sixties, but Man! it was good.

The cute lady at the table next to us snapped our picture. She had a delightful English(?)/ Caribbean(?) accent. She did a good job, no?!

My fabulous luncheon partner, Ann. 

So... 2016 is underway and I've got my first new-to-me restaurant under my belt.  Wonder what's on the menu for February??

.....................................................

And look who my new writing buddy is- at least for the time being. 
No more wild animals out my window but instead I have sweet Ruby sitting next to me. 
Moving all the furniture and animals around, chinchilla included. (Stinky the turtle also got a new location but not near me. Not yet.)


Ruby Roo. Never dreamed chinchillas had such personalities.


Carlos and Ruby love to play chase. 

No. 74: Finish this book

No.74: Write in my book

No. 74: Write in this book....

This book:



I totally bought it on a lark at Anthropologie after Christmas.  Having a December birthday always gets me a good discount at Anthropologie for the one month that I seldom buy myself anything. But this year I planned. Made a point of going after Christmas and seeing what was on sale and using my coupon. And what did I buy? This book and a new coffee mug because I inadvertently left my favorite ones in Colorado. (Also from Anthropolgie...)

I bought the book because...why not?    Writing prompts are good. Makes me think.

And then I sat down to write. Some of the pages are divided in half, some in quarters. The ones that are in quarters I think "Well, I only have to write a tiny bit. This morning I'm busy but I can squeak out a few minutes to write."
But you know what? It's never a "few minutes". I get into it, lost and then surface an hour later. I think this is true whenever you create, whenever you are totally into what you are doing.

So I am writing in it a couple of times a week, trying to get myself into a routine. I think I might be better off heading to Starbucks or somewhere that is not my house. I need to go to my studio that I don't have.  But so far I have just been at my kitchen table or in my bed, scribbling.

And what have I written? Here's a sample.

The prompt:  Set something on fire.
(Well, you just never know what will pop into your head.  Honestly, I totally understand what Michelangelo meant when he said "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it."  The stories are in there, they just need to be put on paper. And maybe I have a tiny evil streak....)

The match sparkled, sizzled and then settled into a slight flame. She hesitated.
"Will I need more?" passed through her mind before dropping her one lit emissary.
Hitting its target, there was a brief flash before the lone match died out.
Or did it?
Smoke wafted.
Her nose crinkled as the combined odors of accelerant and hair filled the air.
Finally.
He'll be gone for good. Or so she  thought.....


It's gonna be a fun book.

I Think I Can: Part Three

I Think I Can: Part Three....I Can!
(or officially No. 76: Learn a little carpentry)

If you missed parts one and two on this little baseboard saga, click here and here.

Otherwise, behold the almost finished project:



Corners cut. In a good way.


 Aren't those 45ºs pretty? 

And look at that bull nosed wall end. 

Paint is next but that will probably be ALL of the trim so no rush.

Last week there was a stumbling block in the form of needing a table saw and not having a table saw. I had kinda given up, figuring that I was not going to be the one that finished the project.
Bunny asked what happened next, most likely fearing her bathroom would go on looking even more ghetto than it had before.  I told her the Daddy-O would probably hire someone to finish it up or at least make all of the cuts for me to finish.
Bunny looked at me and said "But that totally takes away from everything you have already done if someone else finishes it."
I confess, I loved her just a bit more at that moment. It was so sweet to have recognition that I was trying to do something hard.

So.  A quick note on Facebook with a plea for a table saw to be used.
Who knew my niece and her husband had a table saw in their garage? Certainly not me.

 Brian, who officially has the title of BEST Nephew-in-law.
(Apologies to Wade, Ford and Manny.) 
Showing me how to adjust the blade angle.
The man has the patience of a saint.

Measure twice, cut once.


My biggest challenge? 
Not running my fingers through the blade.




O! And measuring correctly. 
Measuring twice doesn't count when you get it wrong from the outset.
Somewhere along this corner I lost ¼" on two pieces. 
(as Belle noted "you almost had it, mom")

Since my measurements were off on that bullnose corner, it took a second trip to Brian and Amanda's for the table saw. I am certain they had better things to do after a long day of work for both of them and corralling not one but TWO three-year-olds into bed, but they were as sweet as they could be about my spending two fun filled nights in a row at their house, sawing away.

Then I got to play with the nail gun!! Woohoo! Those babies are efficient.

And finally, caulk.

Googling "how to caulk" got me a video from "Uncle Knacker" on the secret to perfect caulking. As I watched this guy eating a popsicle to get to the "secret weapon" I was getting a little concerned maybe I had clicked on porn by mistake. But no. The secret weapon is the popsicle stick.
Made caulking super easy and kept my fingers clean.

Except...

Fingers clean, jeans not so much....

Not paying attention resulted in a quick strip down and wash for me.   Then it started storming.
So guess who had to come into the teeny tiny bathroom with me? 

Some of the caulk brushed out, the rest will just have to shed out. 

I'm not sure how Carlos got caulk on his tail but he did. We were in pretty close quarters.

Anyway, there are new baseboards in the upstairs bathroom. No one had to swoop in and save me at the last moment.  Even thought this wasn't an official challenge I am giving it a number and counting it as such.  (Number 76!)

Because...

I learned a ton about carpentry and trim work. It's not hard but you do need to think it through. The proper tools for the job really really help. One piece builds on another and if one doesn't fit, it throws the connecting pieces off.

And sometimes, in the true spirit of these challenges, you just need to start and then figure out how to finish. I think it's called taking charge.

Pulling off the baseboards and THEN figuring out how to finish the project reminded me a bit of my neighbor Sue. She had a tiled kitchen island counter top she hated.  One day she took a hammer to the island. When her husband came home (fortunately he's a great handy-man) she told him she wasn't sure exactly what happened but they needed a new island top.  If he hadn't fixed it, I'm sure she would have found someone who would have. But if she hadn't taken the hammer to the island in the first place, I bet there would still be tile there.

Things work out. Just start and then see what happens.

So No. 76: Learn a little carpentry is officially done.


03 May 2016

I Think I Can: Part Two

 I Think I Can: Part Two


Ha!

Well.

Just because I think I can, does not necessarily mean that is true.
(See last week's post if you have no idea what I'm talking about.)

Reality is, you have to have the correct tools for the job.

 Thursday morning found me out in the garage, gathering the mitre box and the portable work table. An earlier trip to Home Depot had resulted in a brand new hand saw. YouTube had been consulted. Measurements had been taken-twice. I was ready to conquer the bathroom baseboards before noon. 


Looks like a positive start...

And then.....
The mitre box needed to be secured to the table. Where were the clamps? A search of the tool chest, nope.  A search of the work bench, nope. I KNOW we have clamps. I found one. Where were the rest? 

Ok, I'll work with one clamp. Maybe that would do it. 

One lonely clamp does not a secure work place make.

Nope. The mitre box slid, it wasn't right. Nothing worked. The tools weren't where they were supposed to be.  A few experimental cuts and frustration reigned. 
NOTHING. WAS. RIGHT. 


A mess of a tool chest. 

I banged and slammed and complained. One wise friend pointed out that possibly my anger was not with the saw and mitre box but with the entire situation.  The mess, the fact that the baseboards needed replacing and no one else had noticed or bothered, that I was the only one that seemed to care. 

So, I did what any one would do in the same situation. Conceded defeat for the day. 

Friday I was out in the garage bright and early and I CLEANED. Emptied the tool chest. Sorted every single tool in there. Found ummm...ten?....clamps. You know, those ones I was looking for the day before.


Sorted. Organized. Happy.

 When I was done with the tool chest, I tackled the small screw and nail cabinet.   
The wood screws no longer were consorting with the metal screws. The bolts no longer roomed with the washers. And Hallelujah! The cotter pins had their own little space. 


Chaos not so quickly became order. 

And clamps? We had clamps galore.


An assortment of clamps. 
Where were they the day before? 

Baseboards were still undone but I had accomplished SOMETHING. Order. 

Sunday I got a new mitre box and corralled the Hubs with a demand for help. 

Hand sawing= No fun

Box secured, boards measured, cuts made. The first two pieces fit beautifully. 


Look at that beautiful corner!

The third piece some how was off. The mitre box was plastic and the sawing had worn the sides of the slot just a tiny bit,  making our cut slanted. Workable but not perfect. 


Hmmm. Maybe with a little wood filler? 

And then....reality jumped up and bit me again. 

A bullnose corner requires a 22.5° cut. The mitre box only had slots for 90° and 45°. The bathroom has TWO bullnose corners. 

Back to Home Depot. I could not convince the Hubs I needed a table saw. Just a little one. It does 22.5° cuts. All the baseboards could be replaced. Wouldn't that be a great idea? 


Some nonsense about emergency room visits and missing digits kept that table from coming home with us.
Maybe it will be a Mothers Day surprise? 
Hey! A girl can hope. 

(And if there is to be no table, some peonies would make very happy, also. Just sayin'.)


My most favorite flower in the whole world.