Friday, July 31, 2009

It's a Cupcake Smackdown!

And I'm a judge. Woohoo! Come out to Cupcake Smackdown 1.0 on Saturday at the One2One Bar (kid & dog friendly) from 4-7pm. Free admission unless ya wanna enter the cupcake eating contest ($10). Proceeds benefit the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Just Keeps Getting Cuter

I don't know why his hair always looks red in pictures. I promise when you see him IRL it's brown. But here, like in other pics, he looks like a ginger kid. This picture is of Ryder in his fav spot in the house: on the floor underneath his playgym.

Flavor Tripping, Part Deux

The flavor tripping party at The Belmont was so much fun and such a success that the organizers have scheduled another for tomorrow evening. Read about it here and don't forget to buy tickets through the link I provide in the article--my readers get a $10 discount.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chicken Feet!

I tried chicken feet today. Yup. Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat. How was it? For the full review, go here. I can honestly say that I probably won't order it again. Definitely an unusual "treat".

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An Etouffee Recipe for the Microwave? Say what??

Yes, it's true. I made this over and over during my time at LSU. It was a roommate's mother who puttered around with an etouffee recipe, tweaking it until she had an easy one that utilized the microwave. The ingredient list calls for canned soup, something you don't normally find in an authentic recipe but the result is a very authentic tasting etouffee. And the addition of green onion as well as regular onion is not a typo. Just do it. The green tops add a slightly different flavor and color.

Nowadays I'll add more Tabasco than the recipe calls for and sometimes more garlic & tomato, too. Just depends on my mood. I've subbed crawfish tail meat for the shrimp, too. I cook it on the stovetop, not the microwave but heck, if pressed for time I won't hesitate to throw it in and nuke it.

Microwave Shrimp Etouffee
1/4 c margarine or butter
1/2 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped green onion
1/2 c chopped bell pepper
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 c diced celery
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley
3 T tomato paste
1 can (10.75 oz) cream of chicken soup
1lb cleaned, shelled raw shrimp
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t hot pepper sauce
1/4 t cayenne pepper

In a 2qt microwave safe bowl combine first six ingredients. Microwave on high for 8-9 minutes until veggies are soft. (May break it up into 3 minute segments, stir). Stir in parsley, tomato paste, soup and spices and heat for another 2-5 minutes until mixture thickens. You want a gravy-like consistency. Add shrimp and heat until opaque and "c" shaped, about 1-2 minutes. Serve over cooked white rice.

Years ago I added this to the allrecipes database. There are some reviews where folks share how they changed the recipe to suit them. Check it out here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

First Time Swimming

Ryder wasn't certain he liked the water. He isn't crazy about baths. After a short while in the warm water, he decided it wasn't so bad after all.

We most assuredly enjoyed our time lounging in and around the rooftop pool at our friends' condo. The luxury condos had a doorman in the lobby, where you stop to sign in. He called upstairs to announce us and, I'm sure, find out if we were welcome. After getting the greenlight, he walked us to the elevator and unlocked it with a swipe of a key card. Swanky. Jaime kept humming the theme to The Jeffersons.
They don't make swim diapers for babies under 16lbs so Ryder wore a regular diaper. Talk about super absorbency! Poor guy weighed 80lbs when we took him out. Had to refill the pool.
It was wonderful to catch up with friends, to laugh and talk, eat great food and drink a few beers. The babies (Ryder has a new girlfriend, just a few weeks younger than him) were held and kissed and showered with attention. Can't ask for a much better time with good people.

20 Things Every Woman Should Do Before Marriage

I lifted this from Sara's Blog.
  1. Live by herself for at least a year. Done!
  2. Live with someone else for at least a year. Yep
  3. Recover from a broken heart. Done, done and done.
  4. Have a vacation fling. Oh, yeah. BTDT
  5. Take a road trip with a group of girlfriends. There was the trip to Mexico which resulted in me being held at the border for no ID. I'd left it in the hotel in the good ol' US of A.
  6. Relish sleeping in a queen sized bed by yourself. I still relish that, when I can get a nap alone. Otherwise I'm all for snuggle bunnying.
  7. Get her finances in order. Hmm. Did this with help. Thanks, Jaime!
  8. Learn to love her body. Finally do, jiggly bits and all.
  9. Have sex with at least one person she'd never want to marry (or introduce to mom). I plead the fifth.
  10. Find reliable birth control. Yeah, I have a surprise son.
  11. Pay off as much credit card debt and student loans as possible. Do you know how long it's been since I was in school?
  12. Spend way too much on something frivolous. I've done this way too many times.
  13. Exorcise all past relationship demons. It took a bushel of sage for smudging and several gallons of holy water but I've finally purged the ghosts of relationships past.
  14. Travel somewhere exotic. Does Cancun & Cozumel count? Or Yellowstone?
  15. Establish a strong circle of friends. My friends ROCK!!!
  16. Forgive her parents for not being perfect. Yes, I did.
  17. Have at least one night she can't quite remember. Just one?
  18. Experience some really bad first dates. Jaime+quesadillas=sour cream in moustache doesn't quite top the "warm from my balls" guy*.
  19. Find hobbies that fulfill her. Finding the time for my hobbies is the new quest.
  20. Celebrate her 25th birthday. Do they make you wait until 26 to get married now? I've done that and celebrated 30, 35 and 40...will be celebrating 42 on Sunday.

*Worst bad date ever involved a man who, while going into the movie theater, offered me a handful of starlight mints. I declined, and as he was stuffing them into his pockets he said "I know, you want one later, when they're warm from my balls." After throwing up a bit in my mouth, I politely replied "I didn't want to know you had balls." Never went out with him again.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dear Past Lovers: You Totally Screwed Up

I had a moment this weekend when I stopped the whirling stream-of-consciousness that is my thought process and concentrated on the moment, thankful of how amazing my life has become. I'm grateful that I have an incredible life partner who's a wonderful father. And I'm happy with the way I turned out, too. Dear Past Lovers: You totally screwed up when you dumped me. I'm a catch that's been caught.

The pianist Arthur Rubinstein said "Love life and it will love you back." I firmly believe his words although there were years when I felt like I was pouring my love out and not getting much in return. Now, with my family, I understand what life was saving up for me. It's like being a child and expecting to get a small piece of candy as a treat but instead you're served an enormous ice cream sundae. I love life and life's loving me back, all the chocolate fudge and whipped cream covered minutes of it.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Not Latina Enough

I've always been proud of my Mexican American heritage. Very proud. I'm much closer to the Mexican American side of the family than I am to my Anglo relatives; therefore I identify as Latina. But I'm never Latina enough, it seems. I know this is an insecurity within myself that has been nurtured over the years by the many times that people see only my pale skin, not the fiery Mexicana-americana underneath. And it's a nerve that I hit myself, when I clumsily converse in Spanish.

Although it was my first language, I have never been fluent. Nunca. I want more than ever to become fluent now, with a son to teach to speak. I want his first words to be bilingual, like mine were. Yet for him I want more. I want him to grow up speaking both languages. And for myself, quiero ser bilingüe. It's important to me to help my three-fourths Anglo son learn about his culture, his familia, his roots. And that involves me learning to speak better Spanish.

We're on a severely limited budget, so I'm doing what I can by checking out bilingual books from the library and reading. I've found that when I read Spanish it touches some distant memory inside me, sparking a moment of recognition, as if my brain already contains the knowledge but needs me to learn the pathway to fluency.

I wince when I speak aloud, though. I hear my terrible accent and feel like a sham, not Latina enough. But I find myself whispering to my son in Spanish without thinking about it. "Shhh, mi hijo. No llores." I sing to him the few songs I know in Spanish, a lullaby and La Cucaracha.

There's many, many versions of the last verse of La Cucaracha. I think most people have heard of the one that ends "marijuana por fumar". Interestingly enough, one version pokes fun at American Anglos who can't deal with the rising tide of bilingual culture:
El tonto Anglo, el tonto Anglo
ya no puede platicar,
porque no tiene, porque le falta,
español que hablar.
I feel like that song was written about me. The silly white girl who can't make conversation because I don't have any Spanish to speak.

I can at least take comfort in knowing that mi hijo will grow up eating tortillas, caldos, enchiladas, menudo and other home-cooked ethnic comfort foods. Por la gracia de Dios I will feed him like a Latina mamí.

Ryder's Not Sure About His Bumbo Chair

Diaper Bag is My New Purse

It was bound to happen. There's too much to carry when you have a baby. You have to start jettisoning belongings and paring down what to schlep around. My diaper bag has replaced my handbag.

And for my babydaddy, he's gained a bag. I have my chocolate brown & light blue diaper bag; he has his plain black daddy bag. I keep a camera, mascara, ID, credit card, lip gloss and cell phone in the extra pocket of my bag. I think he usually carries a camera as well.

We both have the usual assortment of baby-related items: diapers, extra change of clothes, clean burp cloths, blanket, Mylicon (that stuff is gold, I tell ya), Boudreaux's Butt Paste, wipes and gallon sized Ziploc bags. The Ziplocs are perfect for sealing off baby clothes in the event of a nuclear reactor melt down and ginormous blow out poo. Ryder's odd microwave buttered popcorn poo stench can be safely contained.

I feel like the mama-hood equivalent of a "What's in your wallet" commercial.