A Hill Country Road Trip

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The past 2 months have flown by it seems!  As a family, we’ve just been crazy busy… first leading up to Easter, and then various family-administrative stuff, and now we’re getting ready for the end of the school year.  It’s been the kind of busy where although it’s fun, it’s also been a bit stressful.

I’ve also been running 3 miles a few mornings a week with my husband ❤ and then doing pretty heavy weights, so it’s been a little exhausting, in a happy-fun kind of way at least.

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Whenever I get like this, almost on the brink of “burn-out,” for some reason I feel a strong pull to take a drive in the areas nearby our city where I grew up in the hill country.  I miss it so much… sometimes living in the city makes me feel like a “stranger in a strange land,” lol.

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The craziness of the city and fast-paced lifestyle, seems to evaporate when we’re out there.  I had the sense this last Friday when I took the kids for a nice, day-long road trip get-away, that when seeing those hills and the spacious countryside, I could finally breathe.  I wish I was exaggerating 🙂 , but it’s true that when I left with the kids, we were all tired and a little stressed out.  But on the way back from spending hours out there, the atmosphere in our little caravan was the opposite – everyone was rested, refreshed and optimistic!

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It was simply a day to roam around the country, visit places I loved going to growing up, my old church ❤ , our little town’s main street with all the old buildings and adorable shops; we visited the restaurant I used to work at as a teenager ❤ … we got food and ice cream and traveled on into even deeper, more beautiful and rural countryside.

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This church below is our town’s Catholic church, built almost 100 years ago.

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The feelings and emotions of going back there, back to where I grew up and the places that surrounded me, were sublime.  I’m just so glad that we don’t live too far away where that isn’t possible.  My children get to experience all those things in a small way, and my older son really enjoyed talking to me about growing up out there.

He sat as my co-pilot, my little man!  And when he was gazing at the hills and eating his ice cream, the sense of peace he had was so tangible.

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I don’t wish I could go back 🙂 I LOVE our life right now.  But wow is it fun to take a walk down memory lane, tell them hilarious stories about the people of that town or things my brother and I did 😀 .

It’s nice to be able to go back.

 

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Getting Ready to GARDEN!

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I’m insanely excited about starting our garden this year.  Since the winter wasn’t especially cold, a couple of our herbs from last year stayed fairly well.  But this Spring and Summer I’m looking forward to creating an even better garden than last!  There’s nothing so wonderful to me than creating and nurturing a vegetable and herb garden – it’s so much fun to run out barefoot to go get the things you need for a meal you’re creating, and to know that YOU grew them is just so fulfilling.  And I swear the stuff tastes better, but maybe I’m deliciously biased 😉

My mom gave me this book, Rodale is supposed to be amazing, and so far, his book has been so practical and useful.  It’s also organic, so everything that he suggests is healthy, natural, inexpensive, and easy to do for the most part.  Here is a site I found connected with his family name, called Rodale’s Organic Life.  He was a fascinating man, born in 1898 to Jewish family who immigrated to New York City.  He was a playright, editor, and author who basically was the first person to even use the term “organic” to mean grown without pesticides.  He founded an institute to study the link between “healthy soil, to healthy food, to healthy people.”  It’s great that his legacy is still going so strong today through his *son and that we can still learn from his books!

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The one really big tree we have in our yard was the home to 6 bird nests last year… yes, six!!  I’m looking forward to more birds, their singing, their babies chirping 😀 and just being in the gorgeous sunlight every day working outside.  Just this morning my boys and I spotted two red birds (a male and a female) both in the tree lol… possibly looking at what the nests have to offer!  One thing is for sure, the cats can’t ever get that high, and the birds are always happy there each year.

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Here’s out garden plot, yes, it’s empty and nothing like last year when I had to clear the entire thing from overgrown and very thickly packed weeds.  This year’s clearing will be very easy, and my older son has already started helping me using the shovel himself (tear! he’s getting so big).

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Working in dirt is SO much fun… seriously, gardening is amazing.

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Our handsome male cat looking outside, I thought it was an intriguing picture with the reflection!

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Like… OMG it feels like Spring already! lol 😀

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This was when I was working in the garden and saw he had such a peaceful look on his face.  Babies love being outside.  Our kids have been sick this week, the oldest with an ear infection and the youngest with a cold that turned into a double ear infection.  But this morning was much warmer than it has been, so we bundled up (even though it didn’t really need it) and went outside to get some fresh air after being cooped up the whole week inside.

My gorgeous boy loved it ❤

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The beautiful day did me good as well, felt all flushed and filled with happiness.

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So if you’re interested in some great gardening tips and getting outside, order your seedlings NOW before the spring rush and so that you can get a head start in your garden work and play.  That’s what we’ve been doing 😉

Blessings!

 

*Robert Rodale is the author of the book pictured, Garden Answers, and J.I. Rodale (his father) was the founder of the Rodale Institute.

Meet the Newest Little Member of Our Family

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Yesterday we embarked on a 19 hour journey to pick up this adorable, energetic ball of JOY puppy!  Our newest member of the family, “Super Dog!”

We all woke up around 3:30AM, had everything already packed and ready to go, jumped in the car and head off at 4AM to beat the traffic in our surrounding cities.

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We made a stop in Round Rock to eat some awesome breakfast tacos.  If you’ve never had a Texas breakfast taco, you are missing out on something amazing!

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It was one of my husband’s favorite restaurants that he went to growing up.

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The baby had his own toy dalmatian to play with…  happy baby!

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Donut stop!

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Everything really IS bigger in Texas….  The famous Round Rock donuts (Texas-sized) are great to share with friends.

Do Not Eat Alone.

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We passed miles and miles of country farms and fields… Texas country is so beautiful.  We were supposed to sleep during the drive, and the baby actually did – for almost the entire trip that baby slept beautifully!  But my son and I were too excited to get any real sleep –  everything was just gorgeous!

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There is nothing quite like small town living.  If you’ve never grown up in a small town, you might not understand what I mean, but having a community of people who know you – when you know you can’t go anywhere without running into someone that you know, its just a sweet existence that city living cannot replace.  Growing up, I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing someone we knew, friends, family, parents of friends, teachers from school (lol try to explaining why you aren’t studying for a Chemistry test to your Chem teacher who sees you out at a fair with friends!).  You’d see coaches while you were trying to eat pizza and drink sodas… church folk, and even your pastor!

Talk about accountability.

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We finally got there!  The puppy was so sweet and took to our son immediately.

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The drive back took almost 10 hours because of stops and visiting with some family (Great Grandparents) along the way.  I had no idea traveling with kids would have so many potty breaks – it was hilarious!

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The puppy was so cuddly I couldn’t believe it – so different from a cat!  It slept most of the way, when he wasn’t cuddling with us… only threw up once in the car (at the beginning of the trip back), and didn’t have ANY accidents!  He knew to wait until a rest stop to go in the grass smart pup!

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And the baby still had his own puppy to hold….

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The sunset on the way back was so peaceful and a perfect ending to a long long long trip in the car with 3 littles.

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When we finally got home around 10:30PM, this is what the puppy ended up looking like – asleep on the floor board and hard to wake up (traveling is hard you know?).  LOL  So cute.

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And now… we’re officially a DOG family!  ❤

A Texas Rodeo

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Every year, since I was a little girl, I’ve gone with my family to the Stock Show & Rodeo, which comes into our town every February like clockwork.  It’s a part of our city’s foundational traditions, and a favorite of every little kid in town.

Like a country romance come true, it’s always (for our family) paired with Valentine’s Day & my husband’s birthday; the days are full of Stockshow fun while the nights are for the excitement of Country Music concerts & Bucking Broncos.

We were beyond excited to be able to take our littlest to his First Rodeo. ❤

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His first Cowboy Jacket.

His first Cowboy Jacket via Baby Gap.

My oldest son's outfit while he tried to escape the camera ;)

My oldest son’s outfit while he tried to escape the camera 😉

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My rodeo outfit, minus makeup.

My sexy Cowboy date

My sexy Cowboy date

Let the ambiance begin… Pictures to give you the feel of a real Texas Rodeo

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Talking to Bee keepers about how bees live & the honey they make.

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Cowboys talking over BBQ

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Alligator Wrestling Show from Florida

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Baby Albino Alligator – he was sweet.

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Love Guns & Crystals

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The Golden “Calf” of the Rodeo

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Cowboy Buckles

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Cowboy Buckles from Las Vegas

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The Carnival

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Tracy Anderson’s Chili + Black Beans = Burritos

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I love this tiny woman, and this chili recipe was amazing.  I altered it to add my own black bean recipe because in my mind, they taste amazing together in a wrap or burrito.  We use those large spinach tortillas since they are our favorite, but you can also get tomato or even jalapeno tortillas to go with this and any kind of wrap you’d want!

Chili Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 lbs grass-fed ground beef
  • 3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 large or 2 small zucchinis, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 Tbsp. roasted garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. cumin
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • Cayenne pepper to taste

Spray a large saucepan (or deep wok) with cooking spray.  When pan is hot add roasted garlic.  Saute and add diced zucchini. Cook for about 3 minutes and then add diced bell pepper and jalapeno.  Saute until veggies are al dente.  Add ground beef. Combine all ingredients, stirring continually. Add cumin and paprika.  After meat is completely cooked, add chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Black Beans

  • 1 package of dry black beans
  • 2 Tbs of cumin
  • Crock Pot

Sift through the dry beans to filter only the good ones in, place in colander and rinse thoroughly.  Add beans into the crock pot and cover with water until there it is about 3 inches above the beans at the bottom.  Add spices and give a quick stir, then turn crock pot on low heat for 7-8 hours or on high heat for 5-6 hours.

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To create the burritos just add a scoop of chili and add a scoop of beans, cheese or guacamole (avocado) into the tortilla wrap.

If you don’t feel like a burrito, it’s a great simple bowl of chili:

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Enjoy!

(Chili Recipe from the Tracy Anderson Method Dynamic Eating Plan)

Southern & Smoked Fried Chicken

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My hometown in 1890

If you live in the South, it’s pretty much a given that you appreciate fried food – I know I do… and like any good Southern girl, I love fried chicken.  This past weekend I decided to try my hand at this homemade recipe.  It is so much easier than you’d imagine!  Just make sure you use something with a lid (think dutch oven or deep fryer…)  do not, know matter how great of a cook you think you are, try to use anything more shallow, you might just burn your pretty little face off!  Being the health-nut I am, I used a healthier oil not realizing the smoking heat was a lot lower… sooo the entire house was slowly filled with smoke!  It was still delicious & we enjoyed a nice evening on the patio eating it outside. The End.

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(Black & White photo of Boerne, Texas, 1890 from Traces of Texas)