Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Coupons anyone?

For date night last week, I proposed to Steve that we get a coupon off http://www.restaurant.com/ to use that night.  A friend of mine is the President of the company and I love to support friends' businesses.  Steve found a restaurant named Chatter's off Washington and bought the $50 coupon for $20, and after the source code only paid $4.  He almost bought the $75 one but after looking at the online menu and seeing that the most expensive item on it was the filet for about $25, I convinced him that we didn't need that much.  Thank goodness for my wisdom...well, almost.  After printing the coupon, I noticed the not-so-fine print that said "$100 minimum purchase" the $75 probably required a $150 purchase.  How the heck were the 2 of us going to spend $100 at this dinner?  Our game plan was this:

1. Get at least 1 bottle of wine
2. Order an appetizer
3. Each of us will get the filet
4. We will order at least one dessert

That should cover it.

When we got to the restaurant, the hostess immediately told us, with great excitement, that tonight was 1/2 price bottles of wine.  Doh!  There was still hope, we would just order the most expensive bottles on the menu...unfortunately for us, this place's wine selection stinks and the most expensive bottle was about $37.  We ordered one of those and then took a gander at the menu to find our filet and an appetizer we wanted.  Problem was, they changed the menu and the filet was no longer there.  Instead, the most expensive thing on the menu was about $17 and the special was only like $18.  This was beginning to get tricky. 

We ordered an appetizer and another bottle of wine because the first one was SOOOO bad we couldn't even choke down 1/2 a glass.  Most restaurants would have taken the bottle off the bill, but we were OK with paying for this one.  I ordered the short ribs that were just okay and Steve ordered the special which was the rib eye.  This "rib eye" was the worst cut of meat I have ever seen.  It was about 1/4" thick!  Aren't we in Texas!?!?  I have seriously seen better cuts of meat at the Waffle House.  Steve ordered it medium-rare and this thing was extremely well-done.  When our waitress came by to check on us, we weren't planning to complain, but I couldn't lie, I told her everything was just OK.  She saw how over-cooked Steve's steak was and insisted on replacing it.  She said it would only be a minute since it shouldn't take long to cook.  About 10 minutes later the manager came by to apologize and offer us a free dessert.  NO!  We want to pay for it!  About 5 minutes later, Steve's new steak showed up and I was sure they had burnt it in that amount of time.  It was actually cooked to order this time so things were looking up. 

We did a quick calculation in our heads of where we were $$$-wise and decided we needed more wine.  I was beginning to wonder if they would tack cab fare onto our bill if we were going to have another bottle.  Not to worry though, because this third bottle was just as bad as the first one.  The second one wasn't great but it was at least drinkable.  We ordered 2 desserts and the creme brulle cheesecake was the best thing to come out of this place all night.

The waitress brought the bill and they hadn't given us the free dessert, but that was okay with us because after all of this food and drink, our bill was...wait for it...$98.40.  I felt like this was a challenge on The Amazing Race and we were losing.  I went ahead and gave them the coupon and she informed me that we had to spend the $100.  Seriously?!?  I told her to ring in a coke or something to make it work.  After all of his wine, Steve said he would actually like an iced tea so she could bring us that.  They ran the bill for us and we left without ever getting Steve's tea. 

Moral of this story:

http://www.restaurant.com/ is great and everyone should try it...just be sure to read the minimum purchase amount.  Chatter's is far from great...don't go there.  (Did I forget to mention the upset stomach I had for 2 days after this meal?)  Don't let your husband pick the restaurant...If you want something done right, do it yourself.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nothing like a little bestie time.

This past weekend, I went to Asheville, NC to visit my dear friend T.  She and I have been friends since our Junior year of high school, and she is the type of friend that no matter what, and no matter how much time has gone by, I know I can count on her and she can count on me.  In true fashion, we picked up exactly where we last left off. 

Thursday night, we went to "Thirsty Thursday's" at the Asheville Tourists' (minor league baseball team) game.  It seemed like every young person in town was there enjoying the $1 beers and each other's company.  Hardly anyone watched the game (or even left the concession area) which made me a little uncomfortable so I kept asking people what the score was.  I don't know why it bothered me so much, and due to my incessant asking, people assumed I was this die-hard baseball fan.  T and I decided to go watch a little bit from the steps (probably so I would just shut up about it), but were told by the ushers to "move it along ladies".  Given the option to commit to a seat or go back to the $1 beers, we made the only sensible choice, and I still have no idea who won or what the score was.

T has two adorable cats, Walt and Royce, and Royce and I quickly fell in love.  Here we are having a little cuddle session.  
We traveled into the mountains to a town called Cherokee where the main attractions are the casino and Santa's Land (a little theme park and zoo).  There were signs for Santa's Land EVERYWHERE and when we used the parking lot to turn around we saw that it is really small.  It also had this creepy sign out front.
Then we went to a little river area where people can raft and kayak.  Although we were in our "activity outfits", we were not water-ready, so decided to have a drink and people watch.  There were all types at this place.  It truly is a little kayak community where all of the regulars knew each other and worked on refining their tricks.  One guy was on a stand up paddle board braving the rapids, which got everyone's attention.  Someone is the popular guy at the river!
We took the Blue Ridge Parkway for part of the trip back which was very pretty, but also very long!  Our patience was wearing thin and then we almost cried when we saw a sign that said Asheville 30 miles and realized we had only gone about 15 miles in over an hour.  The roads are so twisty and turny that you can't go very fast.  There are very few entrances on to the parkway and so we took the next one we found thinking it would be faster to get home.  This was probably not a great plan.  The road we ended up on was so steep and twisty, it was a little nerve-racking.  (We are flat-land girls from Florida...this is all new to us!)  After thinking we were lost several times, we finally found a familiar road and high tailed it back to T's house. 

That night we went to the Mellow Mushroom for pizza and had the BEST Hawaiian pizza I have ever had.  Actually, possibly the best pizza I have ever had period.  I ate way too much but don't regret a bite because it was just that good! 

We headed toward the airport early the next day so we could do a little shopping in Greenville, SC before I had to go.  Using the trusty Google Maps GPS on our phones (which got us in the mess we were in the day before), we got a great tour of the city while taking the least convenient way to the mall.  Google Maps needs to get their head in the game.

It was a great time though filled with reminiscing, serious talks, and lots of laughter. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Favorite Things

With Oprah down to less than 10 episodes remaining, I have been watching every single one; I figure she will make these last shows pretty good.  Since Oprah and I have the same influence on society, and she shares her favorite things with America so they don't have to live in the dark anymore, I thought I should do the same.  Here, however, is the very small difference between myself and Oprah, I will not be giving my audience one of each of the things I list.  Other than that, it should be just as exciting of an experience...ish.

Here we go, Kristi's Favorite Things!
1.  My iPad.          
I am so in love with this little device, it is hard to imagine my life without it.  I love reading books on it. (Have you ever been going on a long trip and had to pack several books so you wouldn't run out? Well, I don't have to do that anymore.)  I also love playing Words With Friends against my, well, friends (guess that explains the name).   I also love all of the mind-numbing, complete waste of time games, being able to read my blogs first thing in the morning (my computer stays downstairs), downloading movies for flights, and all of the other great things it can do. 

2.  Shellac manicures. 
This manicure lasts for about 2 weeks (sometimes longer depending on how hard you are on them), prevents your nails from chipping and peeling-which is what happens when I don't have polish on mine-and doesn't ruin your nails the way acrylic does.  I don't think I'll ever get a regular manicure again.  (Tip: Make sure they use the UV lights...otherwise they aren't doing it right.)

3.  Cooking.                                
Right after Steve and I got married, I cooked every night and was so proud to be the perfect little wife.  Then, our waistbands began to expand and my cooking was blamed...I personally blame the Mexican food a certain someone eats everyday for lunch...so I stopped cooking.  Now I cook about twice a week and love it.  My favorite way to find new recipes has been through blogs.  I need some more healthy recipes though, so if you know of any good blogs featuring healthy cooking, let me know.

4.  Date night.                          
For Steve and I, we enjoy going out to try a new restaurant and different foods (we're foodies).  There are no kids to get away from, but it is still important to go out, get away from the TV, and connect.  I have already laid down a few rules: no group dates on date night, and no going to the movies on date night...we might as well be at home watching TV.  I know my friends with kids don't have the luxury of being able to go out as often, but in my opinion, they need date night even more than I do...even if it's just once a month. 

5.  Reading.                          
Thanks to my iPad, I'm a reading machine.  Right now, I am enjoying some entertaining, easy reads, but I try to switch between those and books that can teach me something.  Here's the problem though, I started George W. Bush's Decision Points about 2 months ago and just finished it last Wednesday night.  It was a very good book and I learned a lot, but wasn't the type of story that you lose yourself in.  That night, I downloaded a couple books and already finished all 350 pages of Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels (which is sooooooo good if you haven't read it), and am 3/4 of the way through Lies that Chelsey Handler Told Me.  Next on the list is Water for Elephants which I'm sure will go just as quickly. 

6.  Pinotage.                    
If you haven't heard of this, it is a type of red wine.  This particular grape only grows in South Africa and it rocks my world.  Unfortunately, most liquor/wine stores don't carry many South African wines, but ask one of the employees if they carry it....you'll be glad you did.  Some good wineries are Spier and Kanonkop.  2008 was a great year for SA wines...FYI.

7.  Shoedazzle.com.           ShoeDazzle - Style. Personalized.
This website is a club where, after you answer a questionnaire about your personal style, you are sent a showroom every month featuring shoes, handbags and jewelry that you might enjoy.  Here's the best part...everything is only $39.95.  If you don't like what they sent you that month, they offer you some of the shoes that almost made it in your showroom.  If you don't like any of those, you can request more shoes to choose from.  If you don't like those, you can simply skip that month.  I have acquired about 10 pairs and am hooked.  Important Note********If you want to join Shoedazzle....leave me a comment and I will send you an invite.  You can earn free shoes if you refer people to join.********  http://www.shoedazzle.com/

8.  US Weekly.                 
Maybe this is wrong...but this is my main source of news.  If this is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

9.  Rue La La.                     
This is another shopping website.  This site features designer goods and offers them at a VERY discounted price.  I have purchased several things from them and have been very pleased.  They also have a great return policy.  If you return it for a site credit, you don't have to pay shipping on the return.  If you want your money back in your hot little hand, you have to pay the return shipping. http://www.ruelala.com/

10.  Kettlebells.                   
A client of mine in Sarasota first introduced me to this exercise, and I recently bought a Kettlebell with a DVD for myself.  This exercise works your legs, back, abs, arms....everything!  It is pretty easy too.  You can either do it like I do, in the privacy of my own home in case I look goofy while I exercise, or most areas offer a boot camp.  I guess you could just google that to find it.  Give it a try.

11.  William Guzman. 
William is my hairdresser.  He first did my hair for my wedding and did an amazing job.  I have since gone to him for highlights (just wanted a little change) and cuts.  He is at Satori Salon in the Heights here in Houston.  Best part about William, aside from his glowing personality and great skill: he gives me wine every time I go.  My kind of man!

Well, that's it.  What are some of your favorite things?  I love to try new stuff!

My favorite commerical right now...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Crawfish Season is in Full Swing!

Steve has introduced a lot of new things into my life; hunting in Africa, eating Mexican at every meal, bulldozers, exotic animal auctions, mushy stuff I won't get into, the list goes on and on.  However, one of the most delicious things he has introduced me to, is crawfish.  Red, spicy, hot, succulent crawfish. 

If you aren't familiar with this delicious crustacean, also known as the 'mud bug', here's a very brief tutorial.  They live in fresh water in the south.  The most delicious ones I have had are from Louisiana (and boy do they know how to prepare them).  Throughout the south in the Spring, you can find a crawfish boil happening just about every weekend...or you can just get them at a restaurant.  They are boiled in with spicy, Cajun seasonings with vegetables.  My favorites are corn, mushrooms, garlic, potatoes, okra, celery, and green beans.  You will also commonly find some Andouille Sausage in there.  You eat it by breaking off the tail, peeling off one layer of the shell, and then pulling the meat out of the tail.  If you are hardcore like myself, you will take the head, hold it up to your mouth, squeeze slightly and suck all of the delicious goodness that is inside.  I was HIGHLY skeptical of this last step until I decided to just try it one day.  My life has been changed forever.  Caution:  They are messy, so have many rolls of papertowels on hand when consuming.

Steve and I are coming dangerously close to actually becoming crawfish this year.  We have boiled them at the house 3 times, eaten them at restaurants numerous times (my favorite place being The Porch Swing on Washington and Heights in Houston), and attended 2.5 crawfish in the last 2 weeks.  I say 2.5 because after one of the boils, the next day, their neighbor had a boil and we got some from them and had another feast. 

2 weeks ago, one of Steve's clients threw a crawfish boil for his office staff and customers.  He boiled 800 lbs of selects (the biggest crawfish).  They served piles of them on the cardboard trays you would get in elementary school when you got to eat lunch in the classroom or outside, and Steve and I made ourselves stop after 3 trays because I didn't want to be rude.  We definitely could have kept going. 

Last weekend, we went to New Orleans for our friends Jacques and Barb's annual crawfish boil.  This is the 3rd year I have attended and I am already salivating for next year.  They boiled about 300 lbs and they were so spicy and juicy....couldn't get enough.  Barb is a wonderful cook and so the crawfish were just part of the feast, but I simply found myself a seat at one of the mud bug covered tables, and went-to-town. 

The next day, I looked out their back window and noticed that the neighbor, who had boiled our crawfish for us the day before, was having a boil of his own.  I began strategically sending people out back to "get something" in hopes that he would invite us over.  The boys and I went to play a little golf (OK, so I only drove the cart and had a few beers) and when we got back, Jacques' brother was walking back from the neighbor's with a bag of crawfish.  My dreams had come true!  We dumped them out on the table and ascended on them like vultures.  There was no speaking at the table, just eating and slurping.  Then, after about 15 minutes, there were 5 sad faces standing over the table as we realized they were gone. 

If you take nothing else from this posting, I want you to take this:  I love crawfish.  I love them at home.  I love them at a restaurant.  I love them at a friend's house.  I love them big.  I love them small.  You need to eat some.

Workfat Tool

If you are confused by the title of this post, join the club.  I am obsessed with seeing where people who read this come from.  So, these were the keyword searches that generated viewings this week:

ace of base
ace of base pic
workfat tool

I know what the first two are, but what the heck is a workfat tool.  Of course, I decided to google it to see what this is, and much to my surprise, my blog is the #3 result.  Seriously?  After that search fell short, I switched over to images and came across this little gem:

Could you IMAGINE if that happened to you???  I don't even know what I would do.  Well, I take that back, first I would vomit, then I don't know what I would do.  My first question about this video is, Why would you let a shirtless man with a huge belly stand that close to your face on a public bus???  Did you know this man?  And if so, why didn't you insist he put a shirt on?  

So there you have it, that is a workfat tool....I guess.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

When I grow up....

I want to be the Pioneer Woman.  Tonight I made another one of her recipes and it was deee-lish.  She posted the recipe and instructions for Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork back in March and I have been dying to make it ever since.  Dr. Pepper is referred to as 'crack' in this house because Steve and I can not control ourselves when it is around, and pork is delicious any way it is made (except for ham....I'm not a big ham person).

I followed her instructions as usual and here are my thoughts.  If you like spicy, add all of the peppers she instructs....they have a kick to them.  It's a spicy that hits you in the background, which is how I most like spicy food, so that was a win.  Winning.  haha  If you aren't huge into spicy, I would still add the peppers, just cut back some.  I opted for the brown sugar that she suggested because I love me some sweet BBQ.  I seemed to help cut the spicy-ness but didn't really make it sweet though.  The Dr. Pepper tenderized the meat so it really just fell apart after cooking for a little over 6 hours...yum yum yum.  Unfortunately, the 23 flavors that make up the deliciousness of Dr Pepper didn't come through in the meat as I had hoped, but the syrup and the acids did their work on this meat.

We made tacos with the meat like she did...not because she did, but because we live in Texas and NEVER eat Mexican, so we thought we'd try something new.

This meal passed Steve's test with flying colors...which is a good thing because there are lots of leftovers.  Perhaps I'll freeze some to save for a rainy day.  I love pulling something that takes a lot of time to make (chili, this, etc) out of the freezer and getting to eat it again without having to do all of the work.
P.S. I registered for a dutch oven when we got married and am sooooo glad I have it.  If for no other reason than that it is the easiest thing to clean in my entire kitchen.  Had I used a regular pot for this dish, it would probably be soaking over night to get all of the yummy cooking remnants off, but I was able to clean this dutch oven as soon as I was done eating with nothing more than a kitchen sponge (I compare it to the ease of cleaning my crock pot).  If you don't have one and you cook meals like this, get one, it's a good investment. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

I could have died...

Sorry it has taken me so long to gush, share, analyze, and speculate about the wedding of the decade.  I'm sure you have all been waiting with bated breath. 
When Steve left the house Friday morning, I woke up and was a little irritated that I couldn't go back to sleep.  Then I remembered....THE ROYAL WEDDING!  (I had it set to record on DVR...on several different channels...knowing that I am not a morning person.)  Could the wedding have been any more perfect??????

Do you think when Kate (from now on to be called Catherine) was little, she pictured her wedding would look like this?
One takes thee: The couple kneel at the alter in Westminster Abbey as guests look on
My guess is no.

First, I love the idea of hats required at the wedding.  Wish I had enforced that at mine...  There were some that were very classic and beautiful - like these:
Catherine's mom, Carole, the Queen, and Camilla all looked so great.  I loved the Queen's yellow outfit.  So cheerful and classic.  The show I was watching criticized Carole saying her outfit was "plain" but I thought it was fantastic.  It also fit her perfectly.  The detailing on Camilla's dress was so pretty, it could have been tailored a little more though. 

Then there were some ugly hats.  Like these:

And how about the Prime Minister's wife not even wearing a hat.  It was on the invitation.  How do you NOT wear a hat?

I thought the trees in Westminster Abbey were gorgeous.  So unique and the perfect amount of color.  I like this much better than tons of flowers and they said that the plants that were around the base of the trees smelled fantastic. 
Kate Middleton enters Westminster Abbey

I was so glad they traveled to the Abbey in cars...the horses and carriages would have taken SO long.  Plus, this is the new generation of Royals.  Luxury cars all the way.
Rolls Phantom VI Kate Middleton
MEN OF HONOR   photo | Royal Wedding, Prince Harry, Prince William

William and Harry looked so handsome.  I loved the red uniform William wore...very regal.  Harry looked more nervous than William did which was cute.  I was dying to know what Harry whispered to William as Kate..whoops...Catherine was approaching him, and after Googling it, found out he said, "Right, she's here now."  Less glamorous than I was hoping for, but that's OK. 
Best brothers: William and brother Harry arrive at the Abbey

OK, let's address the DRESS now.  Was Kate not absolutely STUNNING?!?!? 
Stunning secret: The Duchess of Camrbidge's fairytale gown, designed by Sarah Burton, at Alexander McQueen, was finally revealed as she stepped out of the Rolls Royce at Westminster Abbey
I mean, seriously.  They kept saying how they thought she would go against tradition regarding the dress and I was a little worried about it.  Yes, you are a modern bride, but this is still a Royal wedding and you need to be respectful.  Then, when I heard a designer at Alexander McQueen made the dress, I got even more worried.  He was a little out there with some of his designs. 
But I could not have been more pleased with her dress...not that she really cares what I think...it was classic yet modern, conservative yet sexy, simple yet fit for a princess....in a word - breathtaking.  I especially loved the neckline.
Kate Middleton after her wedding
She is so beautiful.

Then there was Pippa.  Beautiful, beautiful, thin, striking, Pippa. 
I loved the ivory dress, the fit, the color, the style, all of it.  She wore it beautifully also.  People have criticized her fake tan, but hello this is England...land of no sun.  She would have been completely washed out in that dress without a tan.  Some have said she outshined the bride, which although a great compliment to her, I completely disagree with. 
Pippa Middleton and Prince Harry
Anyone with me on this one????  I could go for another Royal wedding.  I'm sure Chelsy Davy doesn't appreciate these comments, but maybe she should have brushed her hair before the wedding....there was competition present.

I don't think I'm alone when I say I got a little nervous when William struggled with the ring.  My question is, why isn't he wearing a ring????
Tight squeeze: Britain's Prince William manages to get the ring on Kate's finger after a moment where the world thought it might not fit
Also, I think it's time for William to look into a shorter hair style.  That bald spot continues to grow.  Bald is beautiful William.

My favorite part of the wedding was watching the little glances and whispers William and Catherine exchanged.  They are such a cute couple.
SIDEWAYS GLANCES   photo | Royal Wedding, Kate Middleton, Prince William

The carriage ride back to the palace was beautiful, so I'm very glad they kept that tradition. 
Loyal subjects: William and Kate drive through a sea of red, white and blue as they travel to Buckingham Palace
Mind the train: Prince William helps his wife The Duchess of Cambridge from the carriage.
Such a gentleman.

Then there was the kiss.  Both of them.
Big moment: Prince William kisses his new wife Catherine Middleton on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to a worldwide audience of two billion

I love love love love that they took a surprise trip in an Aston Martin to say hello to everyone.
Just married: William and Kate's impromptu drive by in a vintage Aston Martin thrilled the crowds gathered outside Buckingham Palace

Check out this cake:

Is it rude to have seconds at a Royal wedding?  How about thirds?
Here is a picture I just found.  Apparently, Catherine changed into another Alexander McQueen dress for the reception and William put on a very handsome double breasted tuxedo.  Gorgeous.

I hate that people compared this wedding to Charles and Diana because to me there was one obvious difference.  Catherine and William are clearly in love and are so happy....Diana and Charles looked so disconnected the whole time...in my opinion, which counts for nothing. 

I think this Royal marriage has what it takes.  Best wishes!
Kate and William leave Westminster Abbey