December 31, 2011

Reflecting on 2011 and looking to 2012...

Well, here we are folks. It's the morning of New Years Eve 2011. Another year passed. The year 2012 is less than twelve hours from making its grand entry.

It was a year filled with joys, sorrows and celebrations. There was work time, travel time, home time and family time. There were some good times and a few not-so-good times.

There was life. And, it was all good.

As I write these words I reflect back on a post I made on a similar New Years Eve morning a couple of years ago. I feel the same today as I did then - Full Of Possibility. And blessed beyond measure.

This year; however, I am going to deviate a bit from my "no resolution" lifestyle and make what I choose to call a few "deals" with myself.

No, I will not call them resolutions.

I have never known of a resolution that was kept and; therefore, refuse to term these "deals" as such. Tomato/Tomato - Potato/Potato!

So here goes.

In the year 2012 I will attempt to...

1) Live a healthier lifestyle - a lifestyle that includes more exercise and fewer plates of fat-laden food.

2) Spend more time doing for others and less time doing for myself.

3) Remember that I don't have a soul - I am a soul. Nourish my soul through prayer, meditation, reading and writing.

4) Not neglect "toes" for weeks/months at a time (see 3)!

There you have it. In writing. My "deal" list for 2012.

Now, here's my "will do" list for 2012:

I will:

Live, Laugh and Love. A LOT.

I will cherish The SeƱor, my family and the life God has given me each and every day.

I wish the same for each of you.

Happy New Year and may God bless you and yours.

October 19, 2011

Reasons I love fall (Number 3)

Comfort food.

Tonight I made one of my all time favorite comfort foods - Chicken and Dumplings.

This recipe is quick and extremely easy (I use frozen dumplings) and oh-so-yummy.

Chicken and Dumplings

Step 1 - Poach Chicken

chicken, 5-6 lbs with skin and bones (I used 4 breasts and 8 thighs)
2 teaspoons salt
2 carrots, each cup in 3 or 4 pieces
1 onion, quartered
4 springs parsley
2 stalks celery, quartered
water to cover

Place chicken into a large pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and add all other ingredients. Cover pot and simmer for 45 - 50 minutes or until done. Let chicken cool in broth. Remove chicken from pot, discard skin and remove meat from bones. Shred or cut meat into desired size pieces and store in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Strain broth and store for another use (broth may be frozen for up to 1 month).

Step 2 - Prepare dumplings

Fill pot with 90 ounces of store-bought chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Add 2 packages of frozen dumplings (I prefer Reames Homestyle Flat Dumplings or Mary B's Open Kettle Dumplings) and cook; following package directions, until done.

When dumplings are cooked to desired consistency slowly stir in one can of Campbell's condensed Cream of Chicken Soup to dumpling/stock mixture until dissolved completely.

Add chicken to dumpling mixture and simmer slowly until desired consistency (25-30 minutes).

October 14, 2011

Reasons I love fall (Number 2)


Seriously, need I say more?

October 6, 2011

Reasons I love the fall (Number 1)...

As has been well documented here, here and here I adore the fall.

I honestly can't understand how anyone could not.

After all, what is there not to love?

I suppose I should mention that I live in Texas. Anyone who has survived a Texas summer knows that we Texans welcome the arrival of cooler weather with great adoration.

As the change in temperature occurs and the earth begins to cool down it is as if Mother Nature breaths a great sigh of relief, relaxes and reveals her true colors.

And what spectacular colors they are. Deeply intense colors of golds, amethysts, reds and orange.

Just imagine it.

Can you see the colors in your mind?

Can you feel the freshness in the air?

Can you imagine it?

Just for a minute, close your eyes.

Imagine you're walking down a country road on a crisp fall day.

Each side of the road is lined with towering trees.

Each tree adorns its most glorious fall wares.

Now, take a deep breath.

In through your nose and out through your mouth.

And another.

And should you choose, take another.

Think about those breathes.

How did they feel?

Were they cleansing?

Did they invigorate you?

Did they add a little perk to your step?

I'd be surprised if they didn't.

Those breathes, they are just one of the things I love about fall.

I love the fall colors and the fall air and the way they cleanse my soul.

September 15, 2011

The Real Difference...

"The real differences around the world today are not between Jews and Arabs; Protestants and Catholics; Muslims, Croats and Serbs. The real differences are between those who embrace peace and those who would destroy it; between those who look to the future and those who cling to the past; between those who open their arms and those who are determined to clench their fists." PARSIMONIA

Beautiful words...

August 28, 2011

A Green Chile By Any Other Name Just Isn't A Hatch...

We in the South love green chile peppers, especially Hatch Green Chile peppers. And to quote one of the lovely "Foodies" from foodie heaven (aka Central Market), "we will put a Hatch green chile in anything". And that they will.

Central Market is currently offering products such as (just to name a few) Hatch Green Chile corn bread, Hatch Green Chile hamburger patties, Hatch Green Chile tortilla chips, Hatch Green Chile sourdough bread, Hatch Green Chile popcorn and Hatch Green Chile gelato. Yes, you read right, Hatch Green Chile gelato. And I'll just tell you, don't knock until you try it!

A little history on Hatch. Hatch chiles come from the small village of Hatch, New Mexico. The BBC World News claims Hatch is the home of "the world's best chile pepper". If that isn't enough Hatch is also known as the chile capital of the world and is home to the annual Hatch Chile Festival which is held every Labor Day. With an average population of approximately 1700 people the festival has been known to bring as many of 30,000 visitors to the village for this event.

Coinciding with the Hatch festival is Central Market's Annual Hatch Chile Fest. This is their 16th annual and as our visit yesterday proved, it is in full swing.

Lined along the outside of the front of the store were three or four huge chile roasters and hundreds of boxes of chiles ready to be blistered in the flaming-hot barrels. It was 105 degrees in our neighborhood yesterday which seemed quiet cool compared to the roasting area. How those poor folks doing the roasting were able to bear the temperatures in front of the roasters is beyond me.

Central Market's roasting area...

Check out this super cool old truck they used as a part of their promo....

For those of you who are interested in roasting your own chiles you can simply roast them under the broiler. However, if you wish to become a die-hard-chile-roaster you will need one of these (no, not the man - the roaster!)...

Or you can buy them already roasted by the nice folks at Central Market which is exactly what we did.

Our purchase complete we brought our chiles home and the Senor quickly commenced to cooking.

On the menu, Chile Rellenos with Ranchero Sauce, Pork Chile Verde, flour tortillas and guacamole. There were two variations of the Rellenos, stuffed with chorizo or stuffed with Colby-Jack cheese. I must say, he out did himself on all accounts.

Here's a shot of the Chile Relleno with Ranchero Sauce for your viewing pleasure...

And the Chile Verde...

Let me tell you something, that man can cook!

The Relleno crust was light, fluffy and golden brown. The peppers perfectly roasted and the cheese hot and gooey. I prefer a cheese Relleno to a chorizo but our guests loved the chorizo. It's all a matter of preference! I consider myself a Ranchero Sauce aficionado and for the Senor's first effort it was very, very good.

The Chile Verde was pure perfection! Yes, I realize by saying this he may become near impossible to live with! He said he tweaked a couple of things in his recipe and it was pure, creamy, spicy goodness. The - Perfect - Comfort - Food.

So this my friends is my very own homage to the Hatch Green Chile.

If you're fortunate enough to live near a Central Market head on over and sample all the goodness they have to offer. Or, perhaps your local market is having a Hatch Green Chile festival of their own. Check it out! And let's not forget that Labor Day is just around the corner. Have you ever been to Hatch New Mexico? You might want to check it out!

Bottom line is this. If you've never had the pleasure of tasting a Hatch Green Chile I suggest you add it to your bucket list.

August 25, 2011

It Doesn't Have Me...

I am one of the approximately 400,000 people in the United States and 2.5 million people world-wide who have been diagnosed by a doctor to have Multiple Sclerosis.

This elite club is not one I ever wished to join but, like it or not, I am now a lifetime member.

I must say that I am one of the club's most fortunate. I live in the United States and therefore have access to fabulous health care. I have a top-notch Neurologist who actually hears what I say. I am able to have an MRI when there are questions about the progress of my disease. I have access to a disease modifying drug that works for me and the most fabulous husband a girl could ever wish for who injects that medication in to my leg every week whether I'm overjoyed by the idea or not.

My MS has been quite for the past three years. Oh sure, on occasion it reminds me that its there with its buzzing and tingling and numbness and burning-pain but I have experienced no blurred or double vision, no blindness, no paralysis or spasticity, no loss of memory or speech issues. If there is such a thing as a blessed MS patient then I'm your girl.

For a few weeks now I have experienced some symptoms that made the doctor question the progress of my illness. He ordered MRI's and within five days I was lying in the tube. (Without getting on my political soap box I will tell you that this would not be an option if I lived in a country where there is socialized medicine.)

As the time for the MRI approached I tried to prepare myself for the results. After all, the likelihood of no new lesions over a three year period seemed pretty remote. I admit that even with my little internal pep talks I was still quiet apprehensive to get the results.

But guess what?

To quote one of my favorite sayings,

"I Have MS - It Doesn't Have Me".

The MRI's show no new lesions on either my brain or my spine and the existing lesions are much improved since the last MRI's.

Thank you Lord! Thank you Avonex! Thank you Senor!

We are fighting the good fight - and we are winning!

August 24, 2011

One Of Life's Most Perplexing Questions...

While channeling one of my most favorite heroines...

"I couldn't help but wonder"

Do people hate class reunions?

Thanks Carrie Bradshaw, you're always good for a chuckle!

August 17, 2011

It's About That Time...

"As the summer of '11 comes to an end, our plans for Dove Days are about to begin..."

I actually wrote those words 21 years ago, albeit the line went , "as the summer of '90 comes to an end, our plans for Dove Days are about to begin"...

I am amazed at the speed of life. It's definitely true, the older you get the faster time flies by. We are currently preparing for the 27th Annual Duncan Dove Days. Twenty-seven, what a ride!

A few years back I wrote this tribute to our Dove Days "founders" and the effect they have had on my life. On this, the occasion of the 27th Dove Days, I find it appropriate to share again.

July 24, 2011

Our Lovely Girl...

Happy 14th Birthday McKae!

You have brought more joy and pleasure to my life than I could have ever imagined.

You are simply lovely - both inside and out.

Stand strong in who you are and never forget to dance...Mim

Ladies and Gentlemen...

I am pleased to introduce our son Bryan and his lovely bride Micah...

And a few members of their entourage...

April 18, 2011

An Introduction To NYC...

Did you happen to see the Disney movie Tangled?

There is a precious scene where Rapunzel, relishing her newfound freedom, swings by her hair around a tree and happily declares...


Her heart danced with joy.

During our recent trip to New York City I felt as if I were Rapunzel!

My heart danced with joy.

There I was - with the Senor - in the most amazing city in the world.

I just wanted to fly through the air and sing...


New York City is a place like none other - a fact that anyone who has been there knows.

For anyone who hasn't been there it is simply impossible to comprehend.

The sound of car horns, sirens and traffic never stop...

even in the wee hours of the night...

and oddly, the combination of those sounds morph in to a music all their own...

and form a song...

so pleasant...

that this girl found the need to sleep with the window open all night long...

not wanting to miss out...

on a single note to the song.

April 6, 2011

Godspeed my dear friend...

May you dance with the angels...

Linda Leigh Hobbs
1964 - 2011

March 23, 2011

Welcome Spring...

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. ~Nadine Stair

March 6, 2011

Como Como

Not sure how I managed but I somehow failed to document our dinner at Como Como.

Como Como came highly suggested to us by several people - not to mention is raved about on We attempted to have dinner there the evening of day 2 but were turned away for lack of a reservation. Having secured a reservation for the next night we set off down the street to La Bodeguita del Medio - a great second choice.

We arrived at Como Como Saturday evening at 8:00 and were seated immediately.

We ordered a nice bottle of Pino Grigio and the tuna tartare to start. The tartare was truly one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. It in and of itself is reason enough for a return visit.

As a main course the Senor ordered the seafood spaghetti, BIL the roasted chicken and I the ravioli with ricotta and spinach.

We snacked on the tartare, visited about our afternoon at Akumal and Xpu-Ha and had a glass of wine...

we snacked some more, visited some more and had another glass of wine...

the tartare gone we had another glass of wine and visited a little more...

the nice folks next to us (who not only arrived after us but waited a bit to order) received their entrees...

we ordered another bottle of white, had another glass of wine and, well, you get the picture.

Finally, concerned that we might finish the second bottle of wine without ever seeing our meal we decided we should probably inquire about our order.

Upon inquiry our entrees were immediately delivered by three very frazzled looking young men. One of them apologized saying the chef was very busy although that seemed hard to believe as two tables had emptied and waiting for the next reservations to arrive.

Famished and slightly intoxicated we devoured our food and, let me tell you this, it was oh so good! The ricotta in the ravioli was so light and fresh and the pasta was honestly like none I have had before. BIL raved about his chicken and the Senor enjoyed his seafood spaghetti with beautiful muscles, clams and shrimp very much.

Perhaps they were having an off night but from what I saw the service at Como Como leaves much to be desired. With that said, the food is spot-on so perhaps folks will be willing to overlook lack of service for to-die-for tuna tartare and scrumptious ravioli. I know I'll go back.

March 5, 2011

Going home day...

Oh sadness - day 5 - otherwise known as going home day. We got up and started trying to gather some of our things but decided pretty quick that breakfast had to come first (of course!).

We walked down the beach to our old breakfast stand-by, Playa Maya, for some chilaquiles rojos. Well, I had the chilaquiles rojos - The Senor and BIL had bacon and eggs or pancakes or something - I was much too focused on my chilaquiles rojos to worry with what they were eating. Breakfast at Playa Maya is always good. It's simple, the service is good and there are always some interesting characters hanging around regaling folks with stories of the night before.

After breakfast we walked back to the condo and went about the business of packing our bags. Even though it would be several hours before the van would be there to pick us up there were new guests arriving that day so we needed to vacate the condo by 11:30. We decided to take this opportunity and spend a few hours at Cannibal Royal. The BIL had never been there and The Senor and I love its funky vibe so we grabbed a taxi and off we went.

Cannibal Royal was as funky as we remembered it (although their furniture has become VERY weathered) so we settled in and enjoyed the ambiance for a couple of hours. While there The Senor and I discovered a new smoothie that is out of this world. From what we could gather is consists of guava puree, mint and lemon (which I feel sure means lime) juice. Very refreshing! We decided to try to duplicate it at home so I searched our local specialty food store for guava puree but struck out. We went ahead and tried it using guava juice, lime juice and mint and although it wasn't exact it was pretty dang tasty. I love it when things work out that way!

We decided we should have a little snack before heading to the aeroporto so we ordered their yummy sashimi tuna flatbread and papas fritas (I swear the reason they are so good in Mexico is because they are fried in lard!). I had been craving the flatbread since our visit LAST February and it was just as good as I remembered it to be. The flatbread is crunchy and super thin, the tuna fresh out of the sea; it is sprinkled with purple onion with a chipotle aioli sauce drizzled over the top - oh my, a tuna lovers dream!

Our pick up time was drawing near so we headed back to home base to pick up our bags and meet up with our driver. As always I said goodbye to Playa with a heavy heart but happy knowing I would be back again (I just took a peak at my vacation counter and we only have a mere 125 days to go!).

We got to the airport and breezed through check in because - woo-hoo - WE GOT OUR UPGRADES! I failed to mention in my day 1 trip report that not only did we get our upgrades on the way down but we flew a 767 so we were in high cotton with the 767 seat/beds and all. Loved it! The plane on our return flight was a 757 so no fancy seats but we still got our upgrades both ways - yea us!! Entry in to the good 'ole USA was quick and painless and we were back home and on our sofa by 9:00 PM.

Whew, what a trip!

March 3, 2011


Day 4 - We wake up Sunday morning to the realization that we only have two more breakfasts until we have to get on a plane and head back to Texas. Oh my, decisions - decisions! I was really wanting to try Nativo but we hadn't made it to La Queva del Chango yet this trip - we discussed it and the monkey cave won out.

La Queva del Chango is booming on Sunday mornings, packed with both locals and tourists alike. There was a 20-30 minute wait and I visited with the most delightful 5 year old during our wait. Turns out she lived in New York City and was in Playa trying to escape the cold. Yes, she and everyone else from the good 'ole US of A!

Without going in to too much detail about what happened next I will just say this - about half way through breakfast our trip took a real sharp turn from laid back fun in the sun to dead-stop serious. From this experience we learned the following:

when in tropical climates one should drink a lot of Gatorade to ward off possible dehydration - water does not have the same effect as it does not contain electrolytes and escapes the body quickly

the wait staff and manager of La Queva del Chango are some of the kindest people I have ever met

orange juice with lots of sugar added can help to bring a person out of shock

pure honey can also assist in this effort

very low blood pressure is a symptom of shock

Dr Carlos of Xcaret not only wears great shoes but is a really good doctor

Needless to say with what little you now know about our breakfast at La Queva del Chango we spent the remainder of our day back at the condo napping and if there was any drinking going on it involved shots of Gatorade.

That evening we took a stroll up to Don Mario's for dinner. BIL had the Fettucini Alfredo, The Senor a pizza and I the Caprese Salad. I had recently read some not so flattering things about the food and service at Don Mario's and was very relieved to find that our meal was, as always, fabulous.

Following dinner we headed back to the condo where we sat on the patio and listened to the sound of the surf. As I sat there I said a little prayer and thanked God for the beauty of Playa, for the kindness of its people and for my family whom I love.

to be continued...

Just another day in paradise...

Day Three...

We started off the day with a hearty breakfast at El Bistro at La Tortuga. I have read rave reviews of El Bistro - especially of their Eggs Benedict - and let me just say, we were not disappointed!

The Eggs Benedict were dreamy (in fact I would LOVE to have an order right now) as were the coffee and orange juice. Brother In Law (going forward to be known as BIL) says the guacamole was the best he has ever had. The sad thing about that is that up until then MY guacamole was known as the best he ever had! Oh well, El Bistro is definitely not a bad place to be beaten out by!

It turns out breakfast at El Bistro was just what the doctor ordered for a little self-inflicted case of the "virus"! Chris and I must use the same doctor because we ran in to she and Josh while we were there and she said she had a little case of the "virus" too!

With breakfast behind us we were off to meet Jerry; our taxi driver for the day. Jerry picked us up at 11:00 AM sharp and we headed south for some relaxing time on the beach in Akumal.

The Senor and brother in law found themselves a couple of stools at Lol-Ha and I found myself a perfect spot for a siesta (is that a view or what?!).

After a few cerveza's for the boys and a nice siesta for me we located Jerry (who had parked himself under a nice tree as well and was enjoying his own siesta!) and headed for my happy place - Xpu-Ha. My motto, a day at Xpu-Ha is a day in paradise.

We settled in at The Beach Club at La Playa and had some lunch - yummy!

My darlin' BIL had the shrimp brochette and The Senor had the fried fish. I personally do not care to eat anything that has fins and is staring back up at me from the plate but he swears by it and orders it every time we're there!

I didn't get a shot of my food as I my favorite thing to eat at La Playa are the papas fritas and guacamole and I had scarfed them down before I thought about the pictures so you'll just have to take my word for it that they were, in fact, yummy.

The Beach Club at La Playa has live music these days so we hung out, listened to some music and basically spent a few hours in this beach lover's paradise.

to be continued...

March 2, 2011

Day 2 - a wedding planner, a beach and a little Havana dreaming...

Our second day in Playa we slept a little late, enjoyed the view from our patio and set out about 10:30 to meet with what turned out to be one delightful lady!

Our son and his fiance are planning a July wedding in Playa and asked that we meet with Maria of Our assignment was to check out Maria, the proposed wedding venue and sample the venue's culinary offerings.

We met Maria at Fusion for a quick smoothie and then rode with her to The Beach Club at Grand Coral.

Before I tell you about the beach club I must say this, riding with a local in Playa is an adventure. Maybe even more so than riding in a taxi. Also, it should be mentioned that Maria is Italian. And, to quote Maria (imagine hand gestures moving dramatically through the air!), "the Italian in me comes out when I drive".

With this said, Maria took a "shortcut" to avoid the highway construction. The "shortcut" gave us the opportunity to see several Playa sites we had never seen before including a gentleman carrying two chickens by their feet. The chickens had apparently just met their demise and were off to what was surely a large pot of boiling water.

On our return trip I would bet my bottom peso we actually collided with another car. The other driver and Maria exchanged words through sign language without ever slowing down.

Just when I wasn't sure what might happen next our delightful Italian lady gestures to him as only she could and says, "oh, **** off"!

The Senor, brother-in-law and I sat in silence willing ourselves not to laugh. All I could think was, well, all righty then!

Back to the mission at hand...

We found The Beach Club at Grand Coral to be the perfect venue for the upcoming nuptials.

Our report back went something like this:

Maria is (I'll say it again!) delightful!
The venue is spectacular!
The food was muy excelente!
Let the festivities begin!

We spent that afternoon at the beach basking in the beautiful sun, sand and atmosphere that is Playa (oh - and I had a massage!).

The beach was crowded and I enjoyed listening to the various accents from around the world. Dutch, French, German, Spanish, English and some we didn't recognize.

To quote the song, it was a "lovely day...lovely day...lovely day...lovely day"!

We had dinner that evening on the north end at a very cool Cuban restaurant, La Bodequita Del Medio.

The food, the service, the atmosphere and the band were all top notch. La Bodequita Del Medio is now on my "highly suggested" list.

Like most of our nights in Playa we ended up at Fusion...

watching the moon...

and the stars...

listening to the waves...

and trying to solve the worlds problems...