Monday, November 29, 2010

Writer's block

I have so much to catch you up on, but somehow I don't know what to say. 

So for now I'll just share some pictures of what's been keeping us busy lately. 

Hopefully I'll be back soon with the info that goes along with these.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Christmas for "our kids"

Operation Christmas Child Banner

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry coordinated by Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse.  The project involves packing shoe boxes with small toys, school supplies and toiletry items for children in need around the world.  I don't recall how I first learned about this ministry, but I have loved it ever since.   I've participated for about four years now.  In 2008 they initiated a bar code system that allowed you to find out the destination of your box.  Mine went to Indonesia.  Sadly, I did not participate last year, and I really missed it.  This year there was no way I was going to miss it.  I've been collecting items for months. 

The other day, as I was wrapping the boxes and finishing up the packing, Will asked me, "So, what are our kids getting for Christmas this year?".  This comment warmed my heart and made me smile, because that is exactly how I feel.  For this year, the children that receive these boxes are our kids.  They are part of our family and it is our prayer that through this ministry they will come to know our heavenly father and we will become brothers and sisters in Christ.  For the first time this year I included a little note and a picture of us in each of the boxes.  I even put our address.  It's not guaranteed, but how neat would it be to receive a note from the children that receive these boxes?!  At the very least I'll get to know where they went. 

So, without further ado, here's what our kids got for Christmas.

2-4yo boy

5-9yo girl
10-14yo girl

A few stuffed toys got added to the final product.
Quite different from the type of Christmas' we're used to here in the US.  I just hope this box will bring a smile to a child's face and a little joy into their day.

I'll let you know when I find out where they end up.


Food Finds - New Orleans

We like to eat.  There's no getting around it.  I have a serious taste for sweets and carbs.  My 6' 4" husband has a love for spaghetti, meat, meat, nachos, spaghetti, and meat. 

A lot of what we do when we are in a new place involves the local cuisine. 
With around 20 more trips to New Orleans in our future, and two meals per trip, I'm pretty sure we'll have a good handle on the local flavors and the places not to be missed.

On our most recent trip we visited The Gumbo Shop on St Peters St. in the French Quarter  and Nacho Mama.

The Gumbo Shop is about a block from the cathedral in the Quarter.  They serve Creole food which is less spicy than Cajun food.  The dining area is simple, with a slightly old world feel, and is very intimate.  If only based on our wait I could tell you that this is a local hot spot.  We arrived around 9pm and had to wait in the alley like entrance for about 20 minutes before being seated.  When we were seated, we were practically sharing a table with the couple next to us.  For this first time I stuck with simple and had red beans and rice with sausage.  Will had the combo platter with shrimp creole, jambalaya, and red beans.  It was good food, but a pretty substantial wait, even after being seated.  I would recommend it, but don't be in a hurry.

Night 2, Will's prof took us to Nacho Mama, not far from the seminary.  It's a casual atmosphere with big screens and a bar.  Will completely scorched his mouth with the unexpected spicy heat of the pulled pork nachos and I had fish tacos.  We enjoyed it enough, but probably won't be on our list of places to return to. 

These two meals were eaten with Will's profs and classmates, so after class let out on Friday night we decided to have a little date, just the two of us.  We found our way to Sucre on Magazine St. in the Garden District.  I can't help but saying, this one takes the cake for the weekend!  Fancy, handmade confections for reasonable prices in a hip setting, what more could you ask for.  With about 25 gelato choices, about 10 gourmet plated desserts disguised as works of art, a case full of individual chocolates, and the coffee and hot chocolate to accompany, it was difficult to decide what to get.  But when I saw dark chocolate and raspberry, I couldn't think of anything else.  A match made in heaven.  Will went for a slightly unconventional pairing.  His apple pie was topped with a cheddar and bacon crumble and was served with a scoop of butter pecan gelato. 

How pretty.  You too, babe!

Sooo me.  Rich, creamy, decadent.

My thoughts exactly.  MmmAzing.  :)

 Unfortunately, Will was underwhelmed with his apple pie.  The cheddar and bacon flavor didn't come through in the topping, so it wasn't as special as it first appeared.  However, the gelato was very good.  They had a carrot cake gelato that I might have to try next time.  I can say with no uncertainty, we will be visiting Sucre again in the very near future. 

To round out the trip we stopped at Central Grocery in the French Quarter on our way out of town and picked up a whole muffaletta for the road.  This is said to be where the muffaletta was invented.  Somebody must have put the word out because the line this time was out the door and down the sidewalk.  In the three times I've been, I've always had to wait, but never that long.  But it's well worth it.  I'm not a huge green olive fan, but the olive salad is very balanced, quite chunky.  The cheese is delicious.  This time the bread was slightly softer than before, and for me, that really put it over the top.  I doubt there will be a trip that we don't make a stop at Central Grocery. 

That completes our food tour for this time.  Much more to come.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Orleans Trip #2

3:15 AM

This is not a time of day I see often.
This is not a time of day I care to see often.

This is the time of day we get up to leave for New Orleans once a month.
This is the time of day that put me in a slightly cranky mood last week.
This is the time of day that I met with more excitement the first time around.

The novelty of this time of day has worn off. 

There was one glimmer of hope for this time of day, and it was quite literally a glimmer.  A couple hours into the trip, I was stargazing out the window, a favorite pastime of mine.  I found Orion and as I was looking, a shooting star came flying into view and then was gone.  I felt like God had sent that shooting star just for me.  I had to smile and get over my slight crankiness.

Overall, our second trip to New Orleans for Will's doctoral work was met with less, let's say, energy, than the first.  A pair of congested sinuses, runny noses, and sore throats were trying to rob us of our fun little getaway.  But with a box of Kleenex in hand and an assortment of decongestant and cough suppressant in tow, we were able to make it through the weekend.

My plans for the weekend were to spend my time in Audubon Park visiting the zoo and taking pictures of all the trees clad in their fall colored leaves.  The first part of that plan was very successful.  The second, not so much.  I didn't see one tree, not one, with the yellow, orange, or red leaves I was expecting.  Just a bunch of green.  Don't get me wrong, green is excellent on any other day.  But on this day I wanted some more variety.  I think I would rather have missed the whole leaf dropping process and had bare trees than all that green.  This is what happens when you have an expectation and it isn't met.  But then you have to move on, so that is what I will do now.

The Audubon Zoo was great.  It's a very nicely kept zoo with open exhibits that allow you to feel very close to the animals.  There were some animals I felt they were lacking, but the ones they had were awesome.  It was a crisp, cloudless day, perfect for the zoo and much more relaxing than trying to navigate myself around town.  The animals...

Momma and baby orangutan

Hungry monkey

Suspicious duck

Playful Jaguars

Curious giraffes

Elegant White Bengal Tiger

Mischievous Asian Elephants

Talkative Macaw

I love the zoo.  I can't wait to take Will back with me.

I'll end this post there and come back later with a recap of the food we ate.  It deserves it's own post. 


Monday, November 1, 2010

A not so spooky, but very cheesy Halloween

15 - crockpots
11 - 1 gallon cans of condensed cheese product
4 - 1 gallon cans of chili
3 - 64 oz jars of jalapenos
16 - 3lb bags of tortilla chips
~250 servings of sub par, artery clogging nachos

After spending all of yesterday afternoon and evening up to our elbows in this soup of food dye posing as cheese, I am completely turned off of the stuff.
The youth choir sold nachos at our churchs' Halloween alternative, Festival 31, as a fundraiser for their summer trip.  It was a kick in the pants after an already abnormally long, somewhat stressful week.  It reminded me again of why I chose not to work in fast food with a lot of my friends as a teen.  Food service is hard work. 

A few things I learned last night:
Texans like it hot...these people can eat some jalapenos
Crockpot liners - our saving grace of the night.  Use them!  These things are ingenious. 
People don't eat chili when it's 80 degrees.
Get roasted corn first thing, unless you want to stand in line for 20 minutes or risk them running out.


Being responsible for the food booth, we didn't try to dress up this year, nor was I able to take any pictures of all those who did. 
The biggest tragedy of Halloween this year - I did not have a single piece of candy!  How can this be?  Oh yeah, 250 servings of nachos in 3hrs!
I'm thinking I need to remedy this asap. 


The extent of our spooky activity for the weekend involved watching this...

File:Great pumpkin charlie brown title card.jpg

and this....

Yeah, pretty innocuous. 

Will grew up watching Beauty and the Beast on Halloween instead of trick or treating.  With the new release of the movie this year, it was only appropriate we continue the tradition.  This is definitely one of the best of the Disney princess movies.  The music is amazing.  I couldn't help but sing along.  Paying about $7 for the Blu-ray & DVD combo pack after coupons and mail-in-rebate made it all the sweeter!

Speaking of Belle and Halloween...

Hoop skirt and all. 
Look at the makeup!

 But nothing quite compares to this pair!

That's the recap of our Halloween, and a quick look at Halloweens past.

I've already had a few thoughts about some possible costumes for next year.  As far as the food goes...I'm thinking Cotton Candy!  Spinning sugar must be easier than melting cheese, right?!   On second thought...

Until next time,