30 Days of Thanks – Boston Terriers

 For 90% of my life, I have been a self-proclaimed “cat person”. However, on July 25, 2011 everything changed when my boyfriend and I spied a little Boston Terrier puppy (Franklin!) all alone in a little dog carrier. From that day forward, I went to the dark side and transitioned into the dog person I am today. Purchasing dog costumes, researching about potty training, learning the lingo, mapping out the dog-friendly restaurants, and instagramming like crazy – I’ve done it all. I’m so thankful for the lessons this tiny dog has taught me over the past year, and can share with you some of my favorite Franklinisms here:
 

“When things get difficult, just keep your head up and keep paddling.”

 

“Always stay classy.”

 

 “Haters gonna hate.”

 

 “Nothing lasts forever. Especially chew toys.”

 

 “You can be friends with others who might seem a little different from you.”

 

“Be a patron of the arts & experience new things.”

 

 “It’s sometimes hard to try to stand out be different from the crowd.”

 

 “Don’t be fooled! Superheros come in all shapes and sizes.”

 

“Good hygiene is CRUCIAL. Especially when fleas are involved.”

 

“Always dress your best.”

 

 “You won’t get along with everyone. Just agree to disagree.”

 

 “The world isn’t in black and white.”

 

 “Facial hair doesn’t look good on EVERYONE.”

 

 “Sometimes the best adventures are right outside your backyard.”

 

“Mornings aren’t always easy.”

 

 “It’s fine to dork out. Don’t let anyone judge you for being a little geeky.”

 

…and like you can see, I dork out on Boston Terriers… A LOT!

 All in all, looking back I’m so thankful for Franklin, Boston Terriers, and just pets in general because of the love they show us and the lessons they teach us everyday.

30 Days of Thanks: To Nanny’s House We Go!

There are SO many things I am thankful for. Family, friends, and my health of course, but what resonates for me are the little things that have a big impact. This includes a cookbook I was given when I was 15, and the memories that come with it.

The cookbook is filled with recipes from my grandparent’s childhood and was a collaboration with several family members, close friends, and neighbors. It is titled “To Nanny’s House We Go”. All of the grandkids received a copy with a set of wooden spoons. Every time I make a recipe from that book or make something my grandmother taught me, a flood of memories from my childhood come back.  One of those childhood memories came back to me yesterday (Nov 10th).

Years before my grandfather passed my grandparents would honestly have cornbread at LEAST once a week. My grandmother was the one who usually made it but on occasion my grandfather would too. He got tired of having to get the recipe from my grandmother’s recipe box and copied it onto a post-it. He then taped it to the inside the cabinet that had all the ingredients to make the cornbread. I was always spending time at my grandparents and remember seeing the Post-it pop up one day when I went to make coffee.

Yesterday my mom and grandmother were discussing our recipe for cornbread dressing. They were trying

Cornbread recipe
The BEST cornbread is made in a cast iron skillet.

to decide whether or not they should make it that night. They spent a good 15-20 minutes looking for the cookbook to make cornbread. I told them there was a copy of the recipe taped to the inside of one of the kitchen cabinets. They didn’t believe me.

Almost every person in my family opens that cabinet almost 3-4 times a day and they never noticed. it.  I’m not sure exactly how long that post it has been there. But every time I go to my grandmother’s and see that post-it.

It’s amazing to me how an action, smell, or even words can trigger such strong memories and I am utterly grateful for them. :)

Below is the cornbread recipe that my grandfather taped in the cabinet:

1 cup corn meal

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 cup buttermilk

1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Put 1 tablespoon of oil (my family uses bacon grease) in a cast iron skillet. Mix above ingredients and then pour in oiled cast iron skillet. Bake for 30 minutes.

Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

30 Days of Thanks: Mmm…Queso

I’m thankful for a lot of things like my family, my health, my friends, etc. On the other hand I’m also thankful for really trivial things such as kittens, nail polish, Chick-Fil-A Sauce…Oh, and QUESO.

Queso Magic Queso is pretty much amazing, but white queso in particular is where my heart lies.
There are a lot of magical qualities about queso. In my opinion, it’s the ultimate comfort food. If you’re having a long day, end it with a bowl of white queso. While you’re at it, order a margarita because they go great with queso and who doesn’t like margaritas? As a Texan, it gives us something to brag about. Where else can you find better queso?

I’ve eaten a lot of queso. And let me tell you, not all queso is created equal. Want to know the best places to get queso?

Here’s a list of my top picks:

1. Pappasitos – Don’t let the “chain stigma” fool you. Their queso is legit. My boyfriend swears they put some sort of magical ingredient in the queso (Crack, maybe? Kidding!). Be sure to order the “flaming” white queso because there are 2 queso options on the menu. They literally light it on fire, no seriously.

2. Original Ninfa’s on Navigation – If you live in Houston you have to go here at some point in your life. It’s in a shady part of town, but it is so worth it. The queso isn’t white, but it’s pretty amazing nonetheless.

3. El Tiempo – Again, the queso here isn’t white, but it’s pretty great. It also helps that their entrees are incredible.

4. Del Pueblo – This is a Cypress, TX gem. They also serve killer fried avocados. Mmmm…melted cheese and fried stuff.

5. Berryhill – This is where I go when I need a queso “fix.” You know, those times when you need queso now! It’s quick, cheap and white.

Not into restaurants? That’s cool. You can make great queso at home. I hear the secret ingredient is Mexican crema.

Queso con Rajas Recipe

Ingredients:

1 1/2 large sweet bell peppers, roasted, peeled, cored and seeded
2 large poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, cored and seeded
3 jalapenos, roasted and seeded
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, diced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
pinch of salt
3/4 cup Mexican crema, or sour cream
8 ounces grated queso Oaxaca or Chihuahua cheese
1 1 /2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Roast the peppers on a grill or on a grilling pan until they are nice and charred on the outside and then peel and deseed them. Cut the roasted peppers into 1/4-inch thick strips and set them aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onion until translucent, around 3 minutes. Decrease the heat to low, add the bell pepper and chile strips, then stir in the cilantro, oregano, salt, crema, queso, and grated Parmesan. Cook everything over a low heat, stirring continuously until the queso melts, about 5 minutes. Don’t let the mixture brown or scorch. If the queso is a bit too thick, add some more crema until you get the desired texture and thickness.

Remove the queso from the heat and serve immediately with warm tortillas or chips.

Recipe Credit: Foodsessed

30 Days of Thanks – Loved Ones and Life!

When I look back at this last year and think about everything I’m thankful for, there are so many images that flash through my thoughts.

I envisioned my best friends who’ve always been there for me through the years; through thick and thin.  When I got new jobs and left old ones, they were there to listen to me freak out about the next phase in my career.  When I moved across the country, or even the world, and I had to make new friends, they reminded me that old ones are never really that far away.

 

I envisioned my family.  I’m so grateful to have such a caring support system in my life.  We definitely lean on each other in this journey called life.  Even though my family drives me bat crazy sometimes, I know that no matter what I do in life, they would always accept and love me just the same.

 

I envisioned my fiance and my extended family of kitties! They always bring a smile to my face after any stressful day.

And of course I’m grateful for my health, my job, the great people I work with on a daily basis, and life.  Everyday is a gift and I’m grateful for it all!

Here’s to wishing you a wonderful November and all that you are grateful for in life!

30 Days of Thanks: Thankful for – Body of Work

I am thankful for so many small things this year. Small acts, added together can make a much larger impact over the individual contributions. Being reminded of this, has allowed me to understand the random and planned acts of kindness, charity, faith, forgiveness and brilliance can change someone’s life. Sometimes it even changes a lot of lives.

An Artist’s Body of Work is made up a collection of pieces developed over time and often in a series of repetitive themes. I had a great Architecture professor, fellow professor, friend and fishing buddy that was also an artist. We lost Richard Ferrier to cancer way too early in his life. At his memorial, countless students, friends and colleagues commented on the special moment or gift that Richard (RB) left with them. There were stories of a kind act at one of the Universities we taught at, a personal reference to some needed help, or even an encouraging pep talk. He provided behind the scenes help and encouragement to several generations of artists and Architects. As I heard one story after the other, it was clear that no one person really knew ALL the good deeds RB had provided.

Thankful for a Theme of Art and Kindness

Driving home from that weekend, the stories began to overlap and the theme was clear. There was  a recurring study in kindness that characterized his true “Body of Work.” Sure, there was a legacy of paintings, awards and even archives in the Library of Congress to preserve his artistic work. But, small uncelebrated acts of humanity and friendship were the real collection. He had influenced and changed more people than we ever expected. Richards work was changing people’s lives.

I am thankful the ability to appreciate good design, to spell Winsor Newton watercolour with a ‘u’, to catch a trout in the cold tailwaters of New Mexico, to see someone fly in a WWII fighter plane. I am thankful for the lesson – To change the world, all it takes is small acts in recurring themes.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Slowly creating my Body of Work.

Thankful for You Houston.

I have so much to be thankful for. I’ve written here in the past about how I’m thankful for LOLCats, Aggieland, and my mom’s wise advice to always stay positive. Today in particular I am thankful for the democratic process, my rights as an American, and those who serve to protect our freedom. And Twitter. I am definitely thankful for Twitter.

Thank You Houston!

This year for my 30 Days of Thanks post I want to take a moment to personally thank you – the people and the city of Houston, for all you have done for me over the last four years.

It was January 3, 2009 when I moved to Houston. In the years since then you have welcomed me and supported me every step of the way.

Houston is a unique place – the most diverse city in the country, a town that fosters business and supports the arts – and earlier this year topped Forbes’ list of America’s Coolest Cities. I have tried my best to take in as much of it as possible – taking in museums and restaurants and festivals and trying to keep up with everything Houston has to offer. Honestly, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface.

The Big D will always be my hometown (don’t hate), but I have been incredibly blessed to find a great home here. And I cannot be grateful enough.

A Few of My Favorite Things about Houston:

1. A Full Events Calendar - In a city as big as Houston, there is always something going on!

I am privileged to get to go out and support fantastic clients like Miller Outdoor Theatre, Susan G. Komen Houston, and The Art Car Parade. Some of my other favorite events have been Comicpalooza Comic Convention, Free Press Summerfest, and the Rodeo!


Left to Right: Houston Rodeo, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Free Press Summer Fest, Houston Beer Festival, Comicpalooza

2. The Food! – I often tell people the best part of moving to Houston is the food. The diversity of backgrounds and cultures in Houston meld into a mixing pot of delicious opportunities to explore. My latest obsessions are El Gran Malo, Benjy’s, and Petrol Station. (And I am always open to suggestions!)

Houston Food Truck Fest 2011

3. The Schipulites - I work with some of the most talented, hardest working people I have ever met. I learn from you every single day. I have great mentors here and a great team. I couldn’t ask for more.

Thank You!

I have to thank you to all of you in Houston for welcoming me with open arms. Here’s to many more Houstoniversaries to come!

30 Days of Thanks: Having a huge extended family

All my life, I have always moved around. I’ve lived in different parts of Mexico, I’ve lived in the UK, in France, in 3 different states in the U.S and have been happy doing that: A constant cycle of packing and moving, adapting and finally feeling at home.

I’ve come to have so many friends that have become extended family to me. These people went from being complete strangers, to friends, to people I can count on. No matter how far they are or how long it’s been since I’ve seen them, they in some way show me that they are still here with me as I am with them.

Still like a second family, even from a distance.

I am the only person in my family to be living in Texas, and sometimes it can be hard especially when you are going through tougher times. I’ve come to realize that when you are on your own, and these times emerge your sense of fight or flight kicks in. Suddenly you just want to go back to your home - your root home, and just embrace the old familiar.
I think everyone goes through that, and in all honesty if I had moved back home it would have been okay- there is nothing wrong with that really. But I stuck around and plan on staying in Texas, a place that I now happen to love and call home.

With that said, the people you work with are a huge part of your life in general. I mean, You spend more than half your week with these people! You could be doing what you love the most, but without a good team your job would for a lack of a better word – suck.

Part of an Awesome Sales Team

I have yet to work in a place where I do not like/love the people I work with. These people define(d) my day, they make it better and shift my attitude to a positive whenever it’s at a low. And if I were to go down the list of everyone I am thankful for, it would be a really long massive list.

I’ve met some of my best friends at work (this includes my very awesome boyfriend) which are now family. There have been so many times where I wasn’t able to fly home for the holidays and my friends pretty much took me in as an extension of their own family.

Justin and I

The people in my life just make me feel insanely lucky, and I don’t care if it sounds cheesy. They say actions speak louder than words, and it genuinely is something else to have someone show you they are there for you.
It’s little things like when I’ve been sick and gotten chicken soup, stuffed toys and sticker books (a Frankenweenie sticker book, to be exact) to cheer me up. There’s times where I have been devastated, like when I lost my dog Benito and my friends from all over pulled me back together some way. For example they all changed their Facebook profile pictures to their favorite Benito picture to remember him, and remind me that they were there for me any way they could.

One of my many friends that changed their profile pictures to cheer me up.

I could not have better people in my life that have become an addition to my already truly amazing family. So that is my “30 days of Thanks” Thankful post, I am thankful for all of you, because you just make me feel lucky and extremely loved, and I hope you guys know how much you are loved in return. Thank you.

30 Days of Thanks, Day 4 – The People Who Believe in You

This Thanksgiving I am most thankful for the people that believe in me.

I think that we all forget about these people sometimes, but they are the most important people

in your life. These people genuinely see your potential and your desire for greatness. They believe that you have good character within, and that in the long run your character will win over and you will have success. These people are able to see through the short run of your mistakes, and continue to believe that you will learn and grow from them.

This type of support can come in all forms and sizes: family, friends, relationships, authoritative figures, co-workers. The main point is in that some way they encourage you to reach for greatness, and affirm that you are capable of attaining it. Think about the HR manager who believed that you would bring success to their company and hired you into your first full time position when you had little experience. So many people have had a positive impact on your life by believing in you.

These people that choose to encourage you are applying principles of positive reinforcement and effective motivation. Some of these same principles are taught in a book by Dale Carnegie, a pioneer in public speaking, interpersonal relationships and personal development. How to Win Friends and Influence People is Carnegie’s bestseller self improvement  book with 15 million copies sold since its release in 1936.

In this book, Carnegie uses examples of people who experience motivational success. One of Carnegie’s keys to motivation is by sticking with people through their rough patches. Some people will take the time to understand you from the inside out; they believe in your inner greatness. Appreciate these people and keep them in your life.

Everyone needs someone to they can come to in the tough times. The most supportive people in your life are there during your worst moments, in the wake of your biggest mistakes. In times of turmoil these individuals are there to listen, share in your disappointment  and then affirm that you are better, and that they expect more because they believe that your character will persevere. They acknowledge that you are not a lost cause, and that you are not defined by any one action.

My grandfather used to tell me that the best measure of a man is not the tally of his mistakes, but his response to these mistakes. I love this because it frees me up to learn in my own method and make mistakes along the way. Always speak about your desire to be better and be great and to improve so that people know where your heart is.

Choose to believe in people in as many people as you can. Believe because you remember how people influenced your life by believing in you and staying in your corner. This is a large underlying theme in How to Win Friends and Influence People. People respond better when you separate the behavior from the individual. Everyone wants to be the best they can. We all strive for personal greatness in our own ways. Realizing that everyone wants the same thing will help you to deal with people and create meaningful relationships.

My grandfather had his deal of struggles in life. I believe that part of the reason he overcame so many obstacles was the support that he received from those that were closest to him. My grandfather left this world with all of those who had always supported him feeling proud about the man that he had become. They hung with him and were rewarded by seeing him succeed . They received genuine joy that they were there for my grandfathers transformation. I will always remember him telling me that he just knew I was going to be a great and successful person. I believe him because I saw him struggle more than anyone and saw him transform into the great man that we all knew he would always be.

Remember those that believed in you and try to give this gift to as many people as you can.

For Me, It’s You

My husband!

I am grateful for my husband. I am grateful for my children. I am grateful for my family. I am grateful for my friends. My job. My cats. The internet. Wifi. Gas in my car. My shoes and the shirt on my back.

Life is hard and can be exhausting and everybody needs something to change their focus when they are feeling off centre.

I always aim to do my best but I don’t always succeed. When I need a mood changer, I use music. My current anthem that I use for inspiration and a song by the California rockers, Train.  The song is the title track from their 2006 album, For Me, It’s You. The message of
the song is about paying it forward and sharing what you have.

My sister and my kids!

Give it if you’ve got it
Get it if you don’t

I love the message of this song and it reminds me to focus on what’s important.

My favourite lyric is

Give it to somebody that don’t have a thing
Ain’t got soft shoes to dance or a love song to sing – no
Get yourself on the right track
Let somebody ride your back for a while

Ireland, mom, Sharon and Rania.

LET SOMEBODY RIDE YOUR BACK FOR A WHILE.

That resonates so strongly with me. How many people have carried me to be where I am today? I could never thank them enough to the same measure that they helped me. I hope that I have had a similar impact on the people that are in my life.

I’ve seen Train perform live many times in Houston and they are an amazing live band. If you get the opportunity to see them, do it.

If you haven’t ever seen them live, here’s the next best thing. Enjoy, my friends!

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