Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Made it

Yes, there were some easy ones here and there with just a picture (although I promise you I spent more time editing them in Picnik than is necessary)...but that's me.  I love the pictures.  And I'm sure I talked about food a lot.  But that's me, too.  So what better to end with than a picture of food?  You betcha!   And in true Erin fashion, it's a LABELED picture of food.  You might want to click on it so it'll expand and you can actually read the labels.  I'm sleepy and not willing to go change the font size for you.  Sorry.

I love Thanksgiving.  It's basically my favorite meal of the entire year.  And you don't even SEE the pies here!

Monday, November 29, 2010

That health kick I mentioned?

Yes, it's time.  So I got things off to a good start by going to the grocery store and loading up my cart with a plethora of fruits and veggies.  I had a minor environmental guilt trip as I kept filling up those little plastic bags, so maybe it's also time to jump on the recycling bandwagon.  I'm an occasional recycler, but I could be a lot better about it....hmmm, add that to the life/planet improvement plan as well. 

Actually, the healthy eating will contribute to the financial improvement plan as well - if I actually take my lunch instead of eating out almost every day, that should help.  Man.  This is looking good so far. 

Lunch plan #1 - spicy quinoa salad.  I cut the recipe in half so I won't get sick of it and didn't put in nearly that much olive oil - just a drizzle.  Also a slightly higher ratio of quinoa to veggies.  And definitely an entire jalapeƱo for the half recipe, because this is me we're talking about.  To be accompanied by a random piece of fruit.  It's tasty.  This could work.

It's even kinda Christmas colored!  I'm totally and unintentionally in the holiday spirit!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ponies, ponies everywhere

Amarillo is covered up in horses.  Plenty of real ones, yes, but there's also a herd of fiberglass quarter horses.  Center City of Amarillo and the American Quarter Horse Association (headquartered here in A-town) have teamed up for "Hoof Prints of the American Quarter Horse - America's Horse," a city-wide public art display featuring fiberglass horses outside local businesses that have been painted by local artists.  We are allllll about the horses here, and there are some really cute ones around town!  Also some odd ones here and there, but we'll focus on some cute ones for now.

Last night we had a need to get out of the house after spending the day in a bit of a Thanksgiving coma, so we drove around a bit and laughed at the people standing in lines during sub-freezing temperatures, just waiting to snag their bargains.  We also checked out a couple of ponies I hadn't seen before...it's Amarillo and there's not just a whooooole lot to do.  This one is "Reflections of Love" outside the Amarillo Children's Hospital.  Isn't it sweet with the mommy horse and the baby horse??  Plus they're shiny, which is just awesome.

But I think I was most amused by the sign accompanying the horses...

Outside the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, there's none other than a black horse (looks just like the Masked Rider, except...you know...minus the rider) complete with a Double T:

One of my favorites is the horse outside Hooters - it's sporting the traditional Hooters waitress attire along with a bright red set of lips.  It's delightfully tacky.  And that's how we do it here in Amarillo.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Healthing it up a bit

When it comes to Thanksgiving...I'm a big traditionalist.  Same menu every year, always followed by the Cowboys game.  Light breakfast to leave plenty of room for the usual suspects.  Roasted turkey, cornbread dressing, green bean casserole...I mean, it just wouldn't feel like Thanksgiving if we had it any other way.  But this year we opted to change things up just a little bit in the interest of maintaining the health kick currently going on (rather successfully, I might add) in the Bryan home.

In lieu of our usual sweet potatoes swimming in their sweet syrup and topped off with marshmallows, we did a medley of roasted root vegetables.  I rediscovered that I still don't like turnips, and rutabegas were a totally new thing for all of us - they were...different.  Kinda crunchy, almost like an apple.  But tastier than turnips!

We added another green veggie to the table in lieu of the mashed potatoes that sometimes show up - browned brussel sprouts with orange and toasted walnuts.  The orange was a total experiment, but the general consensus here was one of "mmm, that's pretty good" - you know, for a vegetable.

And while I do love the cranberry sauce from a can with its perfect rings and the "splooq!" sound it makes when it finally releases, we did our own this year with fresh cranberries and Granny Smith apples and a little cinnamon and sugar - YUM.

Don't worry, I've also had two pieces of pie today - pumpkin AND coconut cream.  But we've got the Wii back out, and I'm sure I'll burn off some calories.  At least enough to take care of...well...the butter on my roll.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  It's wonderful to be home with my family.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A-town highlights, Turkey Day Eve edition

I've been up since 5:00 AM EST, which is not the most awesome thing in the world given my general distaste for embracing the early morning hours, which also means that my brain is a little mushy right now.  So you're not going to get anything overly witty or informative today, just a quick rundown of the day's highlights.  Some of which are kinda ridiculous.  That's just how I am.

Item #1:  I'M ON VACATION!!!!
Item #2:  Never having flown Continental out of Reagan before, I wasn't sure what to expect from that terminal...but I was pleasantly surprised to see an Einstein Bros just waiting for me.  Not so pleasantly surprised when my "pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese, please" turned out to be a pumpkin bagel with HUMMUS on it, which I didn't discover until I was at the gate with no time to get it fixed.  DISGUSTING.  WHO DOES THAT?!?
Item #3:  Relatively uneventful flights - always a good thing.  Amused by the pilot on the Houston-Amarillo leg who announced "Ok, take a seat - we're about to go really, really fast."  I like it when they mix it up a bit.
Item #4:  Lunch at Tacos Garcia makes me really, really happy.  You just can't get this stuff on the east of coasts.

Chips and queso are sooooo tasty!  None of this "cheese dip" business!
Item #5:  You know those ridiculous little machines at assorted restaurants and grocery stores that sell silly things like fake tattoos?  Amanda and I chipped in a quarter each to buy ourselves a sticky wrecking ball.  Yes, it's as goofy as it sounds.  But it's provided us with more entertainment than you would think for a fifty cent outlay. 

I'm aware that I'm ridiculous.
Item #6:  I hadn't touched Wii Fit in a year.  But this afternoon I did.  And I'm gravely concerned with what I've done to my body in the last year.  Implementing personal health program ASAP.
Item #7:  "ASAP" for aforementioned personal health program means after Thanksgiving.  I baked two pies tonight.  I love love LOVE baking pies.
Item #8:  We had one of those really beautiful Panhandle sunsets that you miss when you're gone.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, y'all!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Support the little people

I go back and forth on the Black Friday, post-Thanksgiving shopping extravaganzas that grip our nation.  I'm all for a great bargain, but not at the expense of sweet blessed sleep, my sanity, or dealing with the truly ridiculous crowds.  I mean, last year we even drove by Best Buy on Thursday night just to check out the camping situation, and it was pretty ridiculous.  With temperatures expected to dip into the teens in A-town on Turkey Day, I'm hoping those crazy people bundle up and prepare to face the elements so their hands aren't too frost-bitten to carry out their massive purchases.

That being said, the Bryan clan will usually get out and do a little bit of shopping over the holiday weekend - just not before the crack of dawn, that's all.  We like to hit up the stores when all those people who didn't sleep the night before have collapsed at home, therefore freeing up store space for us...the sane people.  And this year, I'm going to make it a point to do at least a little bit of shopping on Saturday to support the little people.

American Express is sponsoring Small Business Saturday, encouraging consumers to head outside of the giant box stores (not that there's anything wrong with giant box stores - they do come in awfully handy, and Target is one of the happiest places on earth) and put their dollars back into their community by shopping at small, independently owned business. And if you’re a proud AmEx card carrier, you’re eligible to earn a $25 statement credit on any purchase of at least $25 on Small Business Saturday at any locally owned independent small businesses that accept American Express.  Register here to get a $25 statement credit.  I'm certain that terms and conditions apply.  That's where the lawyers come in.

I might just have to go spend some dollars at Roasters...perhaps treat my family to some caffeinated treats to properly fuel us for allllll the shopping adventures!  Besides, shopping is my cardio...

Monday, November 22, 2010

To the depths of Virginia we go

Yet another end-of-September adventure just now getting its due on the blog.  Oops.  Which is good considering I haven't yet backed up to the beginng/middle of September that had that awesome trip to Spain.  Super oops.  But pictures are getting organized and captioned and I'll totally write about it.  Hopefully over this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday business, which I just can't wait for.  Where does all the time go, anyway?

Back to that September business...one lovely weekend fall afternoon the boy had the idea to make a bit of a drive out to Barrel Oak Winery, which happens to be in the middle-of-nowhere Virginia.  We're talking PAST Dulles Airport here.  Serious business.  But I'm always up for a winery visit!

It was lovely.  Just a nice weekend afternoon - beautiful fall weather, some tasty barbecue, and a bottle of wine.  I'll take it any day of the week.

Oh, and remember that puppy dog you met?  He came with us.  Here's what happens when you try to take a picture with him, I'm on the other end of the leash, and he gets mildly distracted.  Have I mentioned he weighs about ninety pounds?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

He thinks he's a lap dog

Ok, so you're not actually going to see him in a "lap" setting, primarily because it would be pretty much impossible to capture him photographically in that setting while he consumes all your personal space.  In the most loving way possible, of course.

Oh, and I'm not talking about the boy.  Could be a touch awkward if he always wanted to be in my lap.  Yipes.

It's the boy's dog.  His name is Zach, and he's a flat-coated retriever, which I always thought was a made-up kind of dog until I just looked it up.  Basically, he's a giant black golden retriever.  And he's really sweet.  And he'd be happy to meet you and lick you to death.  So consider this your lick-free introduction.  He's cute and sweet, even if he is a little ridiculous sometimes.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pencils of justice!

My sister made it out of the forest and came to visit last weekend!  We had a lovely time doing important things like exploring historically significant buildings, marveling at the awe of our nation's capital, AND...shopping.  Struck a nice balance, if I do say say myself.  One of her few DC-ish requests was a stop at the Supreme Court, which sadly isn't open to the public on weekends, so we hustled ourselves over there as soon as she got in on Friday afternoon.  Side note: it's kinda fun to hop in a cab and say "to the Supreme Court, please!"

We missed the last guided tour by a few minutes, but still had an hour or so to wander the hallowed halls of justice, which are so SO impressive...

...and we spent probably more time than is necessary admiring the set of self-supporting spiral staircases, which are just entirely too cool and lend themselves nicely to fun sister shots...

...and then we also found cool sculptures of the justices (justii?), and I had fun taking pictures of those because I take excessive pictures of absolutely EVERYTHING...

...and then because we were short on time, we cut short the educational/awe-inspiring part of the trip and headed over to the most important part - the gift shop, of course!  There we found quite possibly the most awesome board game ever...

...as well as PENCILS OF JUSTICE!!  How awesome are these?!?  Ok, probably not quite as awesome as I make them out to be, but any double-eraser pencil that basically functions as a Supreme Court gavel is pretty outstanding in my book.  These, of course, are the only thing we actually purchased.

Then, since we had some lovely late afternoon fall lighting in our favor, we had to do some Supreme Court photo shoots.  Good times were had by all, I assure you.

Then we went hunting for squirrels on our way over to Union Station....

...and stopped for some lovely shots of the Capitol, which also has its very own reflecting pool.  You're not so special, Washington Monument!
A delicate balancing act!

Upon our arrival at Union Station, we immediately had to ring the Freedom Bell.  And it actually did ring a little bit! 

After stopping by the convention center to pick up our tickets to see Paula Deen at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show (yes, the Queen of Butter!!), we headed in the general direction of home...and dinner...but not without a stop at a bar I've been meaning to vist, The Passenger.  It's a very cool bar that mixes very cool drinks and serves really tasty tiny olives and Marcona almonds.  I'm kinda in love.

Then we had some tasty Thai food for dinner and did exciting things like make a grocery list and go to Whole Foods (where we almost got stuck in the parking garage - not cool!) and chill to the "Gilmore Girls."  That's just how we roll.

We slept as long as Harry would let us (silly kitty!), then enjoyed some cake for breakfast along with LOTS of coffee and even more "Gilmore Girls," and then we pulled ourselves together and walked over to the convention center to take in the food insanity.  It will never cease to amaze me how people line up for free samples of ANYTHING.  Let's just say Amanda and I were big fans of the Northeast Beef Promotion Board (or something like that...I missed their actual name), where they were handing out STEAK NACHOS WITH GUACAMOLE.  And no one was lining up for this.  What is WRONG with you people?!?  At any rate, that satisfied us as we fought our way through the hordes and into the "theater" to check out Paula Deen in all of her buttery hilariousness.

And she did not disappoint.  This woman is a hoot.  I mean, truly ridiculous and quite entertaining.  We enjoyed her antics for about an hour and a half while also taking in the delicious smells of Thanksgiving that were wafting our way...cornbread dressing and glazed ham (I'm sure she would have opted for turkey, but seeing as how Smithfield owns her these days, it was most definitely a Thanksgiving ham) and sweet potato gooey butter cakes, oh my!

Then, time to escape the crowds and take in a quick afternoon snack at Busboys and Poets before heading home to embark on a tapas adventure.  We rounded up three kinds of Spanish cheese and a couple of cured meats and sliced French bread and scooped out quince paste and olives and grapes and then attempted to recreate patatas bravas (which I LOVED in Spain...and I'll tell you about them...I promise) and madengrilled chicken skewers and some of the most amazing cookies ever in the form of salted-almond honey wafers, which had me very concerned when we were attempting to make them happen...but they turned out to be delicious and amazing.  Oh, and of course there was sangria!  Then we had a couple of boys come over to eat all this food and watch football and have game night.  It was awesome.

Bobbing for apples, sangria-style

Quite a spread!  And yes, I made cheese signs out of sticky notes and toothpicks - it made me so happy. =)
Sunday was reserved for shopping adventures.  After all, what are sisters for?  Oh, and we also ate more cake.  Kinda perfect.  Great weekend.  Photo spread available here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A little less personal sharing

I decided to embrace National UnFriend Day.  Not necessarily because I have an obscene number of Facebook "friends" who aren't really friends at all, but I thought it might be time to cut loose a few.  Mostly people from high school that I haven't spoken to since high school. Come to think of it, I don't know if I even really spoke to some of these people in high school.  Or those people I've hidden from my newsfeed because their status updates are too annoying or frequent or just straight-up ridiculous.  Sorry, some of you are out there.

But when the time came to hit the button...and "unfriend" someone...why did I feel bad about these things??  It's ridiculous.  Facebook, you're making me crazy.

Don't worry, I kept all my real friends.  No interest in cutting you fine people out of my life.

I gave the boot to a grand total of...eight people.  Didn't make a whole lot of progress there.  This may have something to do with my natural tendency to be nosy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fun in the forest

My sis was in town last weekend, but about a month ago we had another sister reunion...only in the forest!  Well, the forest of Durham, NC, which is was more foresty than many other places I know.  And it wasn't just for the sisters...we had our mom, too!  Amanda had fall break, so Mom flew out for a mini-vacation with her kiddos.  Well, one kiddo.  And then the other kiddo came.  And brought a boy with her.  It's nice to have someone else drive you to the forest.
I absolutely adore Chick-fil-A.  It makes every road trip better.
We had a wonderful dinner at Watts Grocery on Friday night.  And yes, I do things like take pictures of the dessert menu.  It was SO good.

Amanda made us a lovely brunch on Saturday morning!

And all we contributed was this tiny pumpkin...but doesn't it add a lovely fall touch?  Oh yeah, we also brought a bottle of champagne for mimosas - YUM.
Girl power AND Duke awesomeness!  Go Bryan girls!
We went to the Duke-Miami football game on Saturday - I think Amanda makes a lovely blue devil mascot.  Side note - a Duke football game is very similar to a Texas high school football game in terms of stadium and size and crowd.  Except that there are Texas high school football teams out there that could probably smack Duke.  But Duke has really smart cheerleaders.
"D" is for Duke!
Well, the game didn't go too well, but we had fun anyway.  More girl power!
We drowned our football sorrows at LocoPop.  I LOVE their popsicles.
Sunday we went to Southern Season, one of the most amazing kitchen/food stores ever, and the boy and I bought Amanda a bottle of wine to thank her for her hospitality...it was a kinda creepy bottle.  I hope it tastes good.
Here's a link to pictures from the weekend in the forest.  Wonderful weekend!!  Other than that darn D.C. traffic...blerg.