Shopping with Mom and Laura

My dad had surgery on his back yesterday. My sister, Laura, and I came up to Maryland to be with my mom and dad for a few days. The surgery went very well, and Dad is resting and recovering. After visiting with Dad today, Mom, Laura and I went over to the mall and went shopping.

Laura trying on a gown

Laura tried on some fancy gowns. She found a beautiful gown that looked amazing on her. Hopefully some wonderful patron will read this post and donate the money necessary to make the purchase. We left the gown on the rack, but I did get a picture.

We shopped for a purse for mom, and pants for me. Both of those goals were a bust. Mom is still searching for the perfect bag: not too big, not to small, a strap long enough to put over her shoulder, classic but fun design. She found two she liked, one was Burberry, and the other was Jimmy Choo. So she has great taste, but the amount of money they were asking was crazy talk, and just not something any of us could get behind!

Mom after a long afternoon of shopping

I am looking for taupe, tan, or camel dress pants that are not stretch, and are lined. I think I must be looking for the unicorn of pants. It seems that no one makes lined pants any more. I just don’t know what this world is coming to if I can’t find lined pants at Nordstrom’s! The sales lady said that the lining was originally part of pant construction to “hide the flaws”. I am thinking, “don’t we still have flaws to hide?”. But she clarified that it was to hide the flaws in manufacturing, and now that the computer controlled machines are so much more accurate, there is no need for the lining any more. I beg to differ! I will be looking at Macy’s when I get to North Carolina, where the Southpoint Macy’s has never failed me on the business clothing front.

More pictures from NY Trip – July 2010

5th and BroadwayJoey got all of his pictures from our trip to New York and Tanglewood uploaded to Flickr.

Lisa has also added more pictures to her NYC Staycation 2010 photo set on Flickr. Lisa’s pictures include some great photos of Laura singing at Tanglewood.

Five states in nine hours

mom-at-her-office I previously posted about a crazy drive around Texas, during which we were in three cities in fourteen hours.  Well, this past weekend I completely topped that when I went to see my mom and dad!  I started in Raleigh, North Carolina at around six in the morning.  I flew to Baltimore, Maryland, where my mom and dad picked me up.  We drove through Maryland and Virginia on the way Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where my mom works.

I got to see Mom’s building, office, and classrooms.  We walked around Shepherstown, and had lunch in a nice tea shop.  I browsed through the shops on the main street before getting back in the car and driving toward Mom and Dad’s house.  We passed through Maryland again, and finally made it to Greencastle, Pennsylvania around 15:00 in the afternoon.  Five states in nine hours.

Dec, Jan, Feb 09-10 058 I had a great time getting to see Mom and Dad’s new place.  Dad showed me his projector and screen set-up.  We also checked out his amazing outdoor kitchen.  Dad grilled some fantastic steaks for dinner, and mom made sweet potatoes and sauteed spinach with leeks.  Yum!

The visit ended too soon, and I had to get back on a plane and head back to Raleigh for another week of work in North Carolina.

Survived the Holiday Season

img_7721-final We did not take many pictures this year.  No, not even Joey!  Lee took this one of us together with the dogs on the night we put up our Christmas tree.

We went to the Mercado Christmas celebration with Grandma Margaret on 24 December.  We had a lovely Christmas Day meal with the Lupa/Carlson clan, Joan Jones, and the Reads.  It was pot luck, so we didn’t have to do too much cooking, but we wound up with all the leftovers.  Yum!  Joey did make plum pudding, and it was a hit.

George and Nancy joined us late in the evening on Christmas Day.  We went to breakfast with the Etheredges, Zimmermans and Schoors on the second day of Christmas, and then returned to our house to open presents.

Speaking of presents – after years of nagging and hounding, my husband finally gave me some earings from James Avery.  He feels that James Avery is too easy an answer, and prefers to be more creative.  While I certainly appreciate that sentiment, and I have gotten some fabulously creative presents over the years, a nice pair of earings is fun too!

Mom and Dad joined us on New Year’s Eve.  Lee and Billy came over to assist with the preparations for New Year’s Day.  We held our 6th Annual New Year’s Eve film fest.  This year’s theme was Bruce Willis.  The favorite movies were The Fifth Element and Die Hard with a Vengence.  Lee and Joey kicked butt in the kitchen – it was the most organized I think we have ever been.

On New Year’s Day we ate breakfast with the Mercados and Etheredges before George and Nancy had to leave for the airport.

The New Year’s Day party was a fantastic success.  The food was fantastic – the hoppin john really gets better every year!  It was fun to see all of our friends throughout the day.  I really missed Ross and Kat, and thought of them several times during the party.  Laura and Jason joined us late in the evening – I am so happy they were able to make the drive!  The first guests arrived at 14:15, and Jason and I left to drive Jacob back at home at 02:27 on 02 January, so the party officially lasted 12 hours and 12 minutes!

Despite the late night, on 02 January, Joey, Mom, Dad, Laura, Jason and I drove to San Antonio to visit with the Rodriguez side of the family.  We had a great time visiting and catching up with all our cousins and Aunts and Uncles!

On 03 January we had brunch at Zax with our cousin Ben, and then it was time for everyone to go their separate ways.  I left with Mom and Dad to go to Houston.  Jason dropped Laura off at the airport so she could fly to Albequerque so she could perform in Amahl and the Night Visitors in Santa Fe.  Jason drove back to Denton, and Joey went home to a empty house to begin the clean-up!

40th Wedding Anniversary

My mom and dad celebrated their 40th Wedding Anniversary today. I am so proud of them! They were married at Los Angeles Heights United Methodist Church in San Antonio, Texas on 13 September 1969. The spent the day together at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to celebrate.

Ginger Dogs

Recently Joey and I have been going to a great bakery that is just on the other side of I-35 from our house.  The bakery is called Pablito’s.  It is a family owned business.  They have awesome empanadas, pan dulce, and all kinds of other baked goods as well.  Joey really likes eating baked goods for breakfast, and their prices are so good that it is reasonable to go there frequently.

My favorite item at Pablito’s is a ginger/molasses cookie in the shape of a pig.  The ginger pig is soft, and not very sweet – more like bread than a cookie.  About a week ago, it dawned on me that part of the reason I like the ginger pig so much is that it reminds me of the ginger dog cookies my mom used to make for me.

I got out the Becky’s Kitchen cookbook that mom made for me and Laura back in 2001, which has all of our family recipes.  I looked, and sure enough, the Ginger Dogs recipe was in there!

Here is what my mom wrote about the history of this recipe:

This recipe is from the Natural Baby Food Cookbook, a very trendy topic in the mid-70′s when jars of baby food were filled with preservatives.  LisaDiane was a toddler when I first made these cookies.  Because the gingerbread “man” was too big for her to eat, I used a Scotty dog shaped cookie ccutter that Grandma Hope had given me.  It made just the right sized cookie, and they became known as “Ginger Dogs”

Joey had given me a dog-shaped cookie cutter many years ago, and even though it is not a scotty dog, it seemed appropriate.  We had all the ingredients, so I made a batch last night.  Billy lent his cooking expertise to the process.  We actually used weight instead of volume for the butter and the flour, so I have included the volume measurements in parenthesis.  One cup of flour weighs five ounces.  Weighing the flour was so much easier than using a measuring cup!

Here is the recipe:

3/4 cup (6 ounces) melted butter
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup honey
1 cup buttermilk
6 1/2 cups (32.5 ounces) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ginger
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon orange extract
Mix melted butter, molasses and honey until smooth.  Stir in buttermilk.
Stir together dry ingredients and add to liquid mixture.
Add orange extract. Mix to a smooth, stiff dough.
Let the dough rest in the fridge for 20 minutes (this step is not in the original recipe, but Billy suggested it, and it worked out well).
Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/3 inch.
Cut into shapes and place on an ungreased baking sheet (I used the silpat half sheet that Mom gave Joey for our first anniversary)
Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 mintues.
Cool on racks
Yield = 48 cookies [dogs]

Joey, Billy, and I ate some Ginger Dogs right out of the oven!  They were delicious, just like I remembered.  The guys both felt that they could use more sugar, but I enjoy the breadlike quality these cookies have.  I only baked about 1/4 of the dough.  The rest is in the fridge waiting for me.

That was in your back!

OK, I am in Florida again with my dad. He is having more of the laser surgeries for his back.


One of the procedures they did was remove hardware from an old fusion that was done on his L4, L5, and S1 vertebrae. When dad told me they would be extracting screws from his back, I thought, small screws. Like the kind they use to put glasses together! That was not at all the reality. The reality is so creepy I have to share it with you!

Upon seeing the picture, my co-worker joked that it was no wonder Dad was having back trouble if the package of kleenex was in his back. The keenex package is just in the picture for perspective, so you can see how HUGE the screws are!

Now, I hope you enjoy your lunch ;-)

9th day of Christmas

Laura and I started the morning with a trip to the gym.  We took a Body Pump class.  Laura did great, and even got a compliment on her performance from the lady standing behind her.  The class was at the Hester’s Crossing gym, and I decided I don’t like the group exercise room as much as I like the one at Tech Ridge.  It is much harder to see the teacher, and I am uncoordinated enough to really need to see the teacher!  It was a good class, and we got a great workout.

After our workout, Laura and I dropped by to see Rachel, Asher, and Chiara.  Asher was kind enough to show Laura his trampoline.  We all got a chance to jump on the trampoline.  As I was climbing on I broke the step stool that Asher uses to get onto the trampoline.  Yikes – back to the gym – maybe if I reach my goal weight, a step stool will be able to hold me ;-)  Rachel assured me that it was already cracked, and while I do believe her, I also believe she might have told me that anyway so that I didn’t feel bad about my weight.

After my step stool mishap, Asher took me on a trip on his boat.  We sailed to Algeria, Andora, and Argentina, specifically Buenos Aires, which just happens to be one of my favorite cities!

20090102 Laura, Elanor, and LD When we got back to our house we ate some lunch and rested a little bit.  Then we went with Joey and Elanor to Walnut Creek park for a hike.  The weather was fantastic, and we had a lot of fun.  Joey showed Laura and I a tree that he had found while riding that was decorated for Christmas.  Elanor chased a stick, met several new doggy friends, and played in the water.  She actually got into water deep enough that she had to swim!  She wasn’t too fond of the actual swimming, so she resorted to hopping through the water.

Mom and Dad drove to San Antonio to attend my great-aunt Francis’s funeral.  She was my grandma Margaret’s older sister.  She passed away on 23 December.  She had been a sargent in the army, and we found out after the funeral that she had been awarded three bronze stars.

Jason had to work on New Year’s Day, so he drove down from Denton today.

By the time Laura, Joey, Elanor and I made it back to the house, Mom, Dad and Jason had all arrived.  We spent a pleasant evening together.  We watched Big Fish and Almost Famous – my mom and dad had never seen either movie!

New Year’s Day

Yesterday Joey and I hosted our tenth annual New Year’s Day party.  A great group of people showed up!  We ate hoppin’ john, bean soup, and sausage balls (aka meat cookies).  Dad, Asher, Laura and Joey decorated the garage and side walk with chalk.  The Etheredge siblings were all present, and our nephew Daniel was charming, as usual.  Chiara played with Elanor.  Lee and Billy brought their friend Melissa, who talked physics with Dad, and then discussed opera with Laura and Alissa!  We finished the evening with a round of Apples to Apples.  In short, it was a wonderful day, a perfect start to 2009.

Etheredge Christmas – the third day

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me… family, a bell mishap, and a shopping trip.

Troy, Kay, Andrew, and Daniel all came over to our house for breakfast on Saturday, 27 December.  Andrew and Dad cooked eggs and sausage.  Joey made sticky buns and hot sauce (not to be eaten together, those are just the things he prepared).  Everyone sat down and we really enjoyed the meal.  Next we opened our presents.

I got a perfume, and framed picture of Joey and me from Joey.  Troy gave us a copy of his wedding video, and a gift card to Alamo Drafthouse.  Kay, Andrew and Daniel gave us beautiful handmade gifts: bath salts in several different scents, and a book of recipes.

Daniel enjoyed opening his presents.  He mostly liked the paper and the bags, but the cup that his Uncle Troy and Aunt Christinne gave him was a big hit as well.  Elanor seemed to have a good time during the celebration – there were all these people sitting in a circle, and they were all petting her – what could be better?

Lee came and picked me up for bell choir practice.  We drove toward church for about five minutes when I realized we needed the keys, so we turned around and went back to the house.  It took quite a bit of searching, and a call to Joey to find the keys – they were in his coat pocket.  We finally made it to church, but were a bit disappointed because no one except the two of us showed up!  After I called one of the other members she came by and we did manage to pick some music, and plan for the next rehearsal.

Later in the day Mom, Lee, Billy, and I went shopping.  Mom and Dad got Joey and me a new trash can, sounds boring, but it is pretty fancy.  It is bigger than our old one, and you don’t have to use your hand to open the lid.  The can we had previously could be opened by stepping on a peddle, but that feature broke awhile back, and it has been bugging my dad every time he is here.  Ask my dad about it – he is dying to tell you about the physics of this particular trash can, and why it will last longer than the one we had before.  Mom found an awesome salad bowl and salad tongs and got those for me as well.