Sunday, June 29, 2008

A recipe my kids loved!

Today I was watching the Food Network and watched Sunny Anderson making this Shrimp Pot Pie. It looked simple and yummy so I printed the recipe and asked hubby to make it for dinner. He substituted regular biscuits for the puff pastry. He also left out the cayenne for the kids and just added some Tony Chachere's to our individual servings.

This recipe was so well liked by my kids that my 5 year old asked for more 3 times and my 2 year old asked for more SIX TIMES!

Click here for the recipe!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

If you see a hermit crab. . .

. . . it probably belongs to my son.

See, we hit the beach again yesterday in Gulfport. Did Lynn Meadow's Discovery Center first and then had to do the beach again. The kids wanted to get shells this time. Well, not only did they get shells, but they caught a shrimp, blue crab, minnows, jellyfish and, well, 3 hermit crabs.

The hermit crabs, however, were not discovered until this morning. I sent the girls outside to their buckets of shells to wash them off so my niece could take them home with her today. While my daughter had hers in a pile on the ground she suddenly noticed one shell was making a run for it. She screamed, "It's a crab!"

And that is when the excitement went to full throttle . . .

You have to understand. My daughter and niece spent two days at the beach doing very little swimming and more critter hunting. Anything living was good for them. So to unknowingly bring home 3 (nice size!) hermit crabs was like discovering gold to them! They immediately assigned one to each of them - including my son. And of course named them. Then, they filled up the sand and water table and let the crabs romp around.

When it started to rain, they insisted we go back out and get the crabs and bring them in to shelter. So I took some old plastic bowls with lids and made temporary homes for them. But! When we went out to get them there were only two left. My son's (the original runner) made another break for it and we couldn't find him anywhere. Fast little booger! My SIL and I were stumped as he was only left alone outside for a few minutes. Apparently, he hoisted himself over the edge of the water table and took off. We searched through the sand side thinking maybe he buried himself or something. No such luck.

So if you find a hermit crab in your yard shoot me an email. He belongs to my son!

Oh, and my niece's crab? Well, he is on a plane to Dallas. I hope he made it through security in Gigi's purse!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Waveland Beach Day

Today, I took the family for a day at the beach in Waveland. First of all, Kudos to the residents of Waveland. It seems progress is being made on recovering. We noted lots of new houses, many businesses open and life slowly getting back to normal.

We found a nice spot to swim with a little pool of water where the kids spent a lot of time trying to catch minnows with their buckets - no luck though!

The water was relatively clear and shallow as usual so even the littlest had a blast!

The breeze was great and the heat wasn't too bad so it made for a nice day. We stayed until 6pm. Then we had dinner at Los Tres Amigos. After dinner we crossed the new bridge over Bay St. Louis and took a drive along the ocean to Gulfport where we hit the Dairy Queen before the drive home.

Arrived home after 9pm. Baths all around! Can you say Sand?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Visiting Family, Visited New Orleans

Yesterday my MIL, SIL and niece arrived from Dallas for a visit. We took them into New Orleans today after a big breakfast was cooked by hubby.

We caught the St. Charles Streetcar at St Charles and LowerLine. Parked for free on street. Rode it all the way to canal. Nice cool breeze and great view! Got off at Canal and walked to Palace Cafe for lunch. Service sucked today but the Crab Cheesecake I ordered way oh so yummy!

After lunch we walked down to the new Audubon Insectarium. Had three kids ages 2, 5, and 8. All three had a great time. Very well done exhibit. If you go make sure you do the Immersion Theater show (it is short and worth it!) and hit the butterfly exhibit at the end. Both were our favs!

We hopped on the streetcar for another breezy ride back to our car. Drove back home, grilled some pork chops, baked beans and potato salad. Ended dinner with Bananas Foster prepared by hubby with apple pie and vanilla ice cream!

Baths all around and settled down to watch "The Game Plan" with the kids.

Now I must get to work!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Going for hubby of the year

First of all allow me to note that in no way is my husband perfect. No one is as far as I am concerned. I have been meaning to write a post about how he seems to be going for hubby of the year. Since it is Father's Day I thought this would be a nice gift for him.

So you are asking yourself, "What does he do to earn the title of Hubby of the Year?" Well, instead of trying to write paragraphs of explanations. I thought I would just list them here.

- He does 98% of the cooking. He cooks dinner every night we eat at home (which is most nights) and cooks breakfast on the weekends. Today on Father's day he made blueberry pancakes for breakfast, grilled bbq pork pizzas for lunch and grilled sausage with homemade mac n cheese for dinner.

- He does laundry. He isn't the best about folding and putting away. That is often left to me. But he can get all 10-12 loads done over the weekend.

- He cleans. No, he is not the anal type at all. Or the super organized. Or a clean freak. But he mops the hardwood floors when I can't stand them anymore and he knows I hate doing the wood floors - and our house is all wood or tile. No carpet! He also does the bathrooms when I don't have time.

- He lets me work. I have needed to go back to work in the last year. I work from home so he tries to take the kids at night or on the weekends and give me time to work uninterrupted. Today, on Father's Day he took them outside for several hours to swim and spray them with the hose while I worked. Some nights he comes home, cooks dinner, does baths and cleans up the kitchen so I can work.

- He tightens bootstraps. We are a team when it comes to finances. He was not the type to buckle down and tighten the bootstraps very well when we met. But he has learned over time and now says that there is more at stake now (read "Kids!"). We make all our financial decisions together and plan as a team.

- He likes to talk. Many complain that their husbands don't like to communicate or talk about things. We talk all the time and get irritated because often times the kids won't let us talk. We are at our best when the kids are in bed and we can sit outside with a drink and just talk about life, us, family, business, future plans.

- He does things just for his kids. There are a few things my husband just doesn't like to do - like swim in public pools. But, he sacrifices his own hangups to do it for his kids because the kids love it.

- He gets sentimental about the kids and our life. He gets choked up sometimes about the things the kids may do or say. He appreciates our life and what we have - no matter how stressful or tough it may be. He gets touched by family moments such as when we take the kids to the park together or walk along the lakefront.

- He does everything for his family. His drive in life is us. He always says that all his hard work is for us. He wants to provide for us whatever he possibly can. He wants to make our lives easier (financially) and give the kids the opportunity to experience things and go places.

- He respects me. He and I work together on his business often and as much as he doesn't want to, he listens to my opinion. He likes working with me. He appreciates my talents. Many people tell them they could never work with their spouse. He doesn't mind it and actually tells me he enjoys when I am at his office with him. Even when we bicker! I think it is because we are usually there alone with no kids and can actually talk to each other.

- He grocery shops. He often goes grocery shopping without being asked - since he cooks. But, if needed he will go to Wal-mart for me during his lunch. I just email him the list and he does the shopping. He knows it is easier than me dragging the two kids with me. If I have to go and take the kids he will sometimes even leave work and go to Wal-mart with me so we can tackle the task together and quicker. Then, he just goes back to work.

- He understands the importance of family. Our families both live out of state. He always encourages my family to visit, his family to visit and me to go visit them. (He goes when he can but his time is often limited for leisure travel.) He never says no or complains about the cost. He never cares how long my family stays (until they are here for 10 days - just kidding!)

- He gives great back rubs. Almost nightly!

- He has been making an effort not to make me mad or push my buttons. He still does but I notice he is trying harder. In turn, I am too.

He is not perfect. Neither am I.

He is my hubby. And I think I will keep him around. Happy Father's Day Honey!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Meet Mimosa Momma

I convinced my good friend to start blogging because she loves reading my blog so much. So allow me to introduce you to Mimosa Momma!

Stop by. Introduce yourself. Encourage her to keep blogging!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Old Town Pralines & Gifts

Yesterday my job gave me the opportunity to visit an extraordinary New Orleans business and meet the fabulous owners!

I visited Old Town Pralines & Gifts to meet with them and help them get their products online. (work still in progress!) My expectations were nothing out of the ordinary. Meet with client for maybe 2 hrs. Train, educate, discuss, etc. But what happened was that I got an education in the New Orleans culture like no other.

Mary Lou and her daughter were my fabulous hostesses for the day. I walked into their little yellow shop that now resides on Veterans Blvd near Bonnebel. My first impression was that this was like a gift shop found down in the quarter. Similar items for sale and of course pralines. I was immediately greeted and told they would be right with me. I identified myself as they were expecting me but have never met me and was warmly welcomed and invited back to the open area where they make the pralines. I took a seat at their computer which was also right there.

It was 1 hr. before they closed on Saturday. I showed up at that time so we would hopefully have few interruptions. However, the flow of people continued and here is where I say I was completely amused in what was going on around me.

It was like something I have only read about or seen in a movie about the south. And here I was witnessing it first hand. (Remember I am a northerner)

First customer: Elderly woman walks in. Owners greet her by name as they know her (and just about everyone else who walks in). She says her daughter says hello and gave her some money to shop there. I watch as she unrolls one $5 bill and three $1 bills.

"Whatcha want, hun?"
"Big or small, hun?"
"I'll take the small."
"It is $10.80 for a dozen."
"I'll take that."

She goes to pay. She starts to count her money. She doesn't have enough. The owner says,"Whatcha got there, hun? Eight dollars is fine. Let's call it square." She takes her money and hands the woman her bag of pralines.

Second customers: Two women walk in. One the owners know. The other ends up being her sister and of course after learning that they all remember each other. They start talking about when they went to school together at the Cathedral in the French Quarter and Jackson Square being their playground. They talk about the nuns. They talk about aquaintances. As they are going to pay, the sister mentions she is living in Tennessee. And then I hear the owner say, "Don't cry hun, cuz I will start crying too. Tennessee is not that far away." She comes around the counter and hugs her. The sister mumbles "I can't come back." I later learn her leaving is a result of Katrina. The pain still lives on.

Second customers: Man walks in and sits on the church-like bench that divides the store from the kitchen area. He starts chatting away with the owners. They of course know him by name. He even addresses me when he talks like he knows me. I guess because I was behind the counter he assumed I was someone they knew or part of their family??? Anyway, he goes on and on about Hillary and Barack. Finally, they say they really need to get to work with me. He bows out. They mention he studies politics and history so much that he is like a genius. He can go on for hours. He has even been banned from all the talk shows because he stumps the hosts and drives them crazy with his rambles and knowledge.

We work for a little while. Then a knock on the door.

Third Customer:It is someone to pick up an order. (Store closed 30 minutes ago) The man is there to pick up a Havarti cheese covered in praline sauce that has hardened. It is for a shower. He and the owners start talking about this unusual recipe and discussing the intricacies of the sauce. I sit and listen silently. The gentleman looks at me and says, "You would think we knew what were talking about huh?" And he laughs.

"How much?"
"No charge."
"Aw. C'mon now."
"Nope. No charge. We have never made that recipe for anyone and we don't know how it will turn out so we aren't charging you. If it turned out right, just let us know and we will make it for you again."

I later learn that a caterer in New Orleans used to make this recipe and is no longer around since Katrina so the customer was trying to find someone to make it.

Back to work we went. However, everytime someone showed up at the door and peered in they opened back up for business and let them shop. They sold pralines, hand towels, chocolates, etc. This went on until 5pm - 3 hrs past closing time.

And the phone rang off the hook after hours. Family members calling both the ladies. Apparently, they take care of a lot of elderly family at home and they all knew the shop should have been closed and were summoning them. I learned that every friday they feed lunch to their "cantankorus uncle" and his buddies who come into the shop, setup a card table and play cards. Never mind the customers shopping.

After our work was done, I stood there and talked with the ladies for almost 2 hrs. They have the gift of gab and were fascinating and intelligent ladies to speak with. I learned so much about their lives in New Orleans growing up and just general new orleans culture. Oh the stories!

I also learned that they used to be located on Royal Street in the French Quarter for many, many years. Then, they moved to Metairie Road after the storm. Then that location FLOODED! Now, they are hopefully high and dry on Veterns Blvd. (Read more about their history.)

What was so apparent that day was that the effects of Katrina still lives on. These women told me so many stories. They joked that they became social workers after the storm. People would come in and just sit there on that bench and let it all out. They listened. They cried. They hugged. And as I saw that day. They still do it.

As I was leaving I decided to make a few purchases. I bought my kids these great plates:

I also bought each kid a big swirl-ly lollipop as that is their fav. As I was paying, the owner walked up with two pralines and two bags of her version of Heavenly Hash called N'awlins Hash. "Just a little lagniappe for your kids." (That's means a little something extra for all you out of staters.)

Well, let me tell you this much! Heavenly Hash can't stand a chance to Old Town's N'awlins Hash! Here is a picture and it is incredible!

So if you are in the area be sure to stop by to visit Mary Lou and her daughter. Support an old New Orleans business that is struggling to keep going since Katrina.

Don't worry, you will get your laginappe!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Attention New Orleans Area Entrepreneurs!

I would like to take a moment to suggest some additions to the northshore that could make some entrepreneur very wealthy.

1. We need a mobile dog groomer. Seriously. Dog-Gone Purrfect was my go to dog groomer. She had her own truck and showed up at your house. Took the dog out to her truck for like an hour. Walked the dog back to your door and drove away! Perfect. I never had to put my hairball dogs (golden retrievers) in my car. And to top it off, it was a meer $24 per dog (large breed price) compared to others who charge around $60 or more! Someone please start this service up again and keep the prices low! I need it! DGP either moved or went out business for some reason. It wasn't from a lack of clients. I could barely get an appointment and for the last two years her voice message said she couldn't take any more new clients. This is niche area for any dog groomer looking to go out on their own!

2. And would someone get a clue that this is a very family-oriented area and put in some sort of Family Funland and make sure it has one of those awesome put-puts with the moutain, trees, waterfalls, tunnels, etc. Add go-karts, arcade, coffee shop, ice cream parlor, paint ball, batting cages, driving range - all in one stop shop. I am sorry, but current Funland on West Causeway Approach just doesn't cut it at all!

3. Speaking of family fun we need one of those cool bowling alleys that is like an adult Chuck E Cheese. Neon balls, arcade, bar with beer. Dallas has this cool place called Strikz and it rocks! I am sure it is probably a franchise. So if you got the dough and need an idea please check into a kick-A bowling alley. Again, Tiffany Lanes is not cutting it for me and the fam.

4. Another thing this stay-at-home mom community needs is a drive-thru post office/shipping center. I HATE, i repeat, I HATE draggin my kids out to run into the post office to ship a package. And then there is the line to wait in. Ugh. I want to pull up, hand my package through the window to the attendant. Wait for them to weigh and pay and go. If you could just add a chocolate shake service too that would be cool. Or better yet, Starbucks. Ship and sip. Now there's a name!

Numbers 2 & 3 would also benefit the teens and college age people who have nothing to do around here. Maybe it would keep them out of trouble. And we all know their parents have the cash to support them patronizing these places.

So come on Nola Entrepreneurs. Step up and use my ideas. I just want free passes, coffee, shipping credits, etc for giving you my expert advice. Yes, I am an expert. I live here, stay at home and have a family. So that makes me qualified!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I met my BFF 29 years ago

My Girl is going to kindergarten in the fall. Go back 29 years in my life to her current age and this would be the summer I met my best friend to this day - Jenny, now refered to as Jen.

I remember it pretty well.

There were a good bit of kids to play with in my neighborhood (unlike where I live now) and I remember being able to play freely up and down my street at the meer age of five. One summer day one of the other neighborhood kids informed us that a new girl just moved in. I was of course very curious as the boys in our hood out numbered the girls.

I don't remember how we ended up meeting but I do remember finding out she was my age and starting kindergarten in the fall like me. I then invited her over to play on our swingset. It was there that we decided to be best friends. And we still are to this day.

So it makes me sad to think that my daughter is at that same point in her life already. Currently, her best friend Ava has moved to another state far away. They met at age three. I wonder if this friendship will survive the distance between them. They talk of each other often despite the fact that they rarely see each other.

Regardless, I can only hope she finds a best friend as good as mine!