Friday, December 31, 2010

Eating through Texas

For a period  in our lives, Greg and I lived on the side of excessive. It's true. For the most part, we've toned it down, a natural occurrence after having children.  One area we never reigned in though was in the 'dining out' category.  This past holiday, we ate our way through Texas.  When we land in Texas, there's an unspoken, invisible banner waving  that reads, "Let the Feasting begin!".

We were in Texas for 7 days and these are all the places we ate.  You do the math and then let me know...excessive?

Saltgrass Steakhouse-Greg's pick straight from the airport!

Chuys: A solid, good Tex-Mex restaurant.

Korean restaurants are abundant in Dallas, so I usually hit up a Korean place while in Texas.

My lunch, Kimchee soup, not for the faint of heart!  You must like spicy-make your nose run & eyes water-kind of hot!

The typical side dishes that accompany every Korean meal. OMgosh, I love these so much!

Some have heard me say, I'm not a fan of American prepared fish, I only like Korean prepared fish, here it is.

Burger House: My favorite Hamburger/Fries combo evah! They make a special seasoning that is sprinkled on the burgers and fries and it's ingredients are top secret and so yum-yum.

Alfonso's:  It's all about the Garlic Rolls.  The bread is a thick, hearty dough, then smothered in butter and garlic.  Brush twice or you'll still taste garlic the day after!

Sonny Bryans: It's BBQ.  GOOD BBQ.
My favorite sausage  is Sonny Bryans because of it's smokey, peppery taste.  The only sausage better than this hails from Elgin, Texas - a bit of a drive from Dallas.

Whatburger:  The equivalent to McDonald's in other areas.  Whataburgers are everywhere in Texas.  If you ever get a chance, I plead with you, just try a Whataburger Taquito.

Hot and Creamy Donuts:  Worst donut store name ever but good donuts and coffee!

Razzoo's: Cajun.  Greg and I both order Chicken Tchoupitoula (pronounced chopa-2-la) every time.  Chicken breast over smoked ham with mushrooms & taters, served with a special butter sauce (the best part!).

Mogio's Gourmet Pizza: Again, we always get the same. The Italian Classic; pesto, chicken, basil, tomatoes, garlic & mozzarella. Hawaiian Sunrise; Canadian bacon, pineapple, cashews, cranberries, mozzrella & cheddar.

Dickey's: My favorite chopped beef brisket sandwich and fried okra! 

Most BBQ places in TX, chop the brisket and prepare your sandwich while you watch.

Boston Market: Homecooked fast food. The only place Greg and I will actually eat creamed spinach.

El Norte:  Tex-Mex.  I ate here for lunch at least once a week for 2 years and never burned out.  It's my very favorite chips/salsa, cheese enchilada, taco, rice....ok, it's my favorite mexican food.

Potbelly: The special sandwich place, we didn't get to eat at...awww man!!

Sooo....excessive?  :o)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's not Where or What about's Who!

It's not 'Where' we spend Christmas, though we travel to Texas every year. 

It's not 'What' we anticipate getting from under the tree - that's the furthest thing on our minds.

It's the 'Who' we spend Christmas with that matters so much more than anything else.

For me, the moment I walk through Grandad's and Nana's door, it's Christmas. The decorations are out, the kitchen is bustling with activity and the house is full of people chattering. It's what Christmas should be like in my minds eye.

The moment I enter their house, my heart is warmed just by the sight of their Living Room, which is filled with Christmas decorations welcoming anyone who walks in. 

The tree is in it's place and hanging all around are red apples marked with the names of every single person in the family.

The table in the Dining Room is set and it looks like we are expecting royalty to join us for lunch.  There's no paper or plastic cutlery here, it's first class all the way - even on the kid's table!

In the busy Kitchen, I can expect to hear Grandad commanding attention for each dish's preparation and I  typically find Nana cooking.

I can't help but smile whenever I walk in the den because dozens of pictures hang from each wall as if to tout loudly the owners pride & joy is in every family member, kid & grandkid.


Before I know it, it's time to eat and then...we are having the most sacred, most holy meal ever. Take a look...

After we eat, it's time to open gifts and Grandad is always right in the thick of it because in reality, he's just a 63 year old kid.  I marvel at how many times I've seen him just like in this picture below -down on the floor playing with the young kids.

The final part of the day is my favoirte.  We just spend time together. We catch up, we tell stories, we laugh.  This time is like gold to me -there's nothing better than this time. This next picture totally captures the fun.  Greg's cousin said something that made me laugh just as the picture was taken.  I love it.

We take our share of pictures. I love that the females in this family are just as willing to pose and take pictures as much I am!

Grandad and Nana are getting up in their years.  Perhaps, that is why each Christmas feels more special than the last because I'm not sure how many more years they will be able to pull out decorations, set up tables, cook up a storm and wash a ton of dishes.  All I know is that Greg's Grandparents and their house IS Christmas to me.  What a blessing the last 14 Christmas'  have been for me because of Grandad and Nana!

Grandad and Nana - Thank you for hosting Christmas year after year.  Thank you for going the extra mile to make Christmas special, for losing the hours of sleep to prepare, for doing more than your poor muscles can handle, for standing on your feet to cook and cook and cook, for making a sacrifice just to buy a do so much to make Christmas special for your family and  I really appreciate it and love you both so much for it.  Merry Christmas.  Love, Julia.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Featured Music: You're Here by Francesca Battistelli
Featured Movie: The Nativity Story

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Traditions...

Like most folks, we have our Christmas Eve traditions, here they are in 2 parts:

Part 1: Candlelight Christmas Eve service.

Part 2: Dinner at Greg's Uncle Geralds and Aunt Marilyns.

Part 2A: We professionals.  The adults...

and children alike...

After dinner, we hang out...

We catch up and visit with each other...

We take advantage of photo ops with our kids...

We invariably try to get family pictures...

After a few hours, we pack our kids and work in our last snippets of conversation as we say goodbye...

And that's what we do every year at Christmas Eve - great memories, every time!