Monday, November 29, 2010

A Texas Thanksgiving

As we make the long trip back home to Alabama, I have 13 hours more or less to reflect on the events of the last week. It was a last minute decision to go to Texas for the Thanksgiving holiday. We had originally planned to stay close to home, since we had just opened the second location, but this is typically the slowest season of the year for our business and we decided rather than stay home and sweat the slow times, we would head to Texas and enjoy the Holiday.
Rod, Lindsay, David (Rod’s brother), Buster and Myself all piled into a rental car the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and began the long journey to Mom and Dad’s house in The Woodlands, Texas. Mom and Dad didn’t know we were bringing David with us so they were completely surprised when David got out of the car.

My Mother was looking forward to taking time off from the ranch renovation in order to spend some time with us for the Holiday. This was a real treat for me as my Mother and I have spent very few holidays together as she has always worked in retail in one form or another and there is no such thing as time off  in that line of business. I have decided that I’m going to get to see a lot more of my Mother now that she is retired.

As Thanksgiving day approached everybody prepared for the traditional feast. Rod’s Mom and Dad had been able to complete a lot of the pre Thanksgiving grocery shopping prior to our arrival thanks to an email grocery list that I had sent before we left. Isn’t the internet a life saver? The day before Thanksgiving Lindsay and I prepared the fruit salad, orange mashed sweet potatoes, squash casserole and green bean casserole. Rod’s Mom made the dough for her famous rolls, the ones that none of us can duplicate (I tried one year and it a was a total disaster). My Mother showed up on Wednesday with dewberry, dutch apple and lemon cream pies in hand.

The Thanksgiving Side Dishes

More Side Dishes

Thanksgiving day Rod was in the kitchen all day cooking the turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy and wild rice stuffing. Mom finished off her rolls and made some applesauce while Lindsay and I put our dishes in the oven to finish cooking.

Mom’s Famous Rolls Fresh Out Of The Oven

Rod’s sister JoAnn brought over a red velvet cake, but she warned us that something had gone terribly wrong and the cream cheese frosting had not set properly. We all decided to take a look and offer our opinion of what might have gone wrong. When Joann removed the lid to the cake carrier, we all burst out laughing. That poor cake had some major issues and try as we may no one knew what had happened. Speculations were abound, but no one had a definitive answer. I told JoAnn a picture of her cake had to go on the blog for all the world to see. She was quite the sport and even posed with it for a photo.

The Infamous Red Velvet Cake

We had a house full of people and Rod’s niece Heather, her husband Ron and her son Matthew were able to join us as well. About an hour before the meal was ready, the men and dogs started circling the kitchen in anticipation. Our meal was the traditional Thanksgiving fare and of course we all ate way to much. After the dishes were done, everyone stumbled to the living room or the kitchen table and took their places to nurse their overly full stomachs. Of course that didn’t stop the pies and cakes from being devoured. About 9:00 pm Mom and I had a mini version of Thanksgiving dinner as we were once again hungry.

Rod Carves The Turkey As Dad Supervises

Let Me In I Smell Turkey!

David Opts For A Platter Rather Than A Dinner Plate

The next morning Mom and I drove into Houston to meet with Lynn a good friend of hers to have a girl’s day out. Our first stop was at a fabulous store called Surroundings which offers a unique mixture of home furnishings, housewares, gifts, and personal accessories from around the world as well as locally. They specialize in handcrafted or artisan made items imported from Mexico, Guatemala, and other Latin American countries. Mom and Lynn wanted to meet with the owner, Robert Hawkins in order to get his opinion on some pieces that Mom had purchased while in Ecuador. Mom and Lynn are toying with the idea of importing some of the handmade items from Ecuador and selling them over here in the States.

Robert, Lynn and Mom

Beautiful Dishes On Display

A Neat Window Treatment Made Out Of Wooden Utensils

 Beautiful Textiles And Furniture

After spending some time at Surroundings, we decided we were all starving and ready for lunch. The first place we stopped to eat was one of Lynn’s favorite restaurants, but it turned out to be closed. We were so hungry we ran next door to a deli and bought a sandwich and spilt it three ways just in order to make it to the next restaurant. Lynn suggested Carrabba’s Italian Grill and we all agreed that at this point Burger King was starting to sound good.

Carrabba’s was fairly busy, our waiter, Christopher was fabulous and the food was outstanding. I was very pleasantly surprised as I had not been to a Carrabba’s in several years and I didn’t remember it being so good. Lynn and I had the Chicken Bryan, a grilled chicken breast topped with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes and a basil lemon butter sauce. All I can say is that it was absolute heaven in my mouth. Mom had a pasta dish that she also thoroughly enjoyed. When the meal was over, Christopher and a few of the other waitstaff came to our table with a huge cream puff with a candle in it and sang Happy Birthday to me in Italian. On Saturday I was turning the big 50 and typical to Mom and myself we started the celebration early.

Our Waiter Christopher


Birthday Girl

After lunch we headed to do some more shopping and picked up some books at a great price. We went to an antique mall and although we didn’t buy anything, it was fun to browse. Mom and I were amazed at how much Houston had changed and agreed that neither one of us even recognized many of the streets that we had once known so well. After a fun filled day of shopping and yes, eating, we headed to the house for some much needed R & R.

Lindsay And Mom Relaxing With Their Laptops

Saturday turned out to be another day of shopping, only this time Lindsay went along with Mom and myself. We discovered to a fabulous resale/consignment shop called StillGoode Consignments not to far from the house. Mom bought a French Au Gratin dish for $13.00 only to find out it retails for about $65.00 (what a buy). I told her that if I had seen that dish first we would have been rolling around on the floor for sure. I ended up getting a set of canisters that I think I can make a tidy little profit on ebay with. We stopped for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. Mom and I had a roasted pear and Gorgonzola Pizzette to die for and Lindsay had a lunch size veggie pizza. Once again we used my birthday as an excuse to treat ourselves to a nice lunch.

When we returned home Rod got busy preparing my Birthday dinner. He cooked his famous pepper crusted tenderloin, mushroom rissotto, roasted asparagus with balsamic vinaigrette. I made a spinach salad with pears, dried blueberries, toasted almonds and also a balsamic vinaigrette, it was a new recipe and I changed it up a bit, but was very pleased with the results.  Heather, Ron and Matthew were once again able to join us and we all enjoyed a nice quiet evening at home with yet another fabulous meal.

Sunday morning, Mom, Lindsay and I hit the streets one last time before we would have to return home on Monday. Mom was headed back to the ranch to resume her remodel and we had to get back to business. Sunday night, Ron and Heather invited us over to their house for dinner. Heather made a wonderful brisket, garlic mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and Matthew grilled corn on the cob for us that was delicious. We ended the meal perfectly with cheesecake and coffee and once again groaned about eating to much.

As we head home now I think back on our Thanksgiving and can’t help but wonder how we will celebrate Thanksgiving once we are living in Ecuador. I don’t even know if Turkey is a bird that is raised in Ecuador, but I suppose we will find out. It will be fun to merge our traditions with the Ecuadorian culture and create a whole new way of celebrating Thanksgiving.

I just remind myself that Thanksgiving is really all about being together with Family and Friends. I think we can accomplish that no matter where we are as long as we have family and friends to share with. For now we will be celebrating our holidays in the states and look forward to Christmas when we will once again be heading to Texas.

On one last note, I got a wild hair recently and decided I wanted to change some things about my blog. I went to my Apple store and proceeded to tear the whole blog apart. Please bear with me through this transition as I add more information to hopefully add to your reading enjoyment. My hope is to eventually add photo albums, which means I have to organize and title all of my photos, something I have neglected to do and will now have a massive project ahead of me. As with any project, there is always what my Mom and I affectionately call “The Ugly Stage”. Hopefully it won’t be ugly for to long.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stop This Ride,We Want Off!

It has been a while since I have had a chance to put an entry into our blog and I literally had to steal away to our local Apple Store where I sign up for personal projects, just so I could get some writing done. The personal projects last for two hours and are more or less like a study hall. You work on whatever project you like and there is always an associate nearby to help with any questions you may have. You work at a wooden table and sit on a hard wooden stool with no back. I can’t imagine a better motivator to get some writing done.

It has been a busy, more like crazy last couple of weeks and lately our lives have been akin to some wild carnival ride. The kind that spins you round and round and then flips you upside down until you’re ready to scream “Uncle.” Rod has been busy trying to get the second location up and running, while I am doing my best to hold down the fort at the first location. And my Mom is still busy with her kitchen redo at the ranch in Texas. I personally think we all have A.A.D.D. (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder). I don’t know if any of us would know how to act if we didn’t have our plates absolutely full and spilling over the sides. I would however like to try a bread and butter plate on for size as opposed to a dinner plate.

Rod’s mom and dad are still with us and Dad goes to the shop in Decatur everyday and acts as Commander in Chief, telling Kevin how to run wiring, install ringers in the office and the bays, and reset the timer on the lights for the pole sign. When Dad is not instructing, he plays Gopher and makes countless trips to Lowes and Home Depot picking up odds and ends. Mom on the other hand is my angel at home. I come home to clean laundry every night and dishes put away from the dishwasher. This is a real treat for me.

The Front Of Our Second Location

Our Sign

The Bays All Cleaned Up

A couple of weekends ago Rod’s mom and I decided to take a drive to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro. We had originally planned to go to Franklin Tennessee, but decided to opt for Scottsboro instead. I had never been to the Unclaimed Baggage Center and thought it would be fun. We were hoping the leaves had started to change to make drive even more enjoyable.

Unclaimed Baggage Center

When we walked through the front doors we were literally overwhelmed. The place was huge and looked more like a mall than the small store I had expected. There was even a cafe to eat at. All of the merchandise was organized neatly and the clothes were even sorted by color. Mom and I spent some time browsing, but in the end neither one of us walked out with a thing. It was just fun to touch and feel as Mom says and marvel at the things that people have lost on the airlines and never claimed.

I saw a several pairs of brand new designer shoes that were priced in the three digit range. I thought to myself if I had lost a pair of expensive designer shoes on an airline, you had better believe I would be at the airport every day hounding the lost and found counter until I got my shoes back.

The weather was absolutely beautiful and on the way back to Huntsville we stopped for lunch. About half way home we spotted the most beautiful tree, the leaves had already changed to a brilliant red. On the way to Scottsboro all we kept saying is how the leaves were just beginning to change color, but it wasn’t the show we were hoping for. Here stood this tree all by itself, while all the surrounding trees around it were still wearing their green leaves.

Mother Nature In All Her Glory.

On top of everything else it has been a mad rush to get ready for the Holiday selling season on ebay. I have been listing as much as possible and last weekend I sold a set of beautiful dishes to someone in Georgia. My goal for the last month or so has been 300 listings and I finally hit 320 a couple of days ago.

Rod has been so busy with the new location that he hasn’t had a chance to get his car parts listed and it’s driving him crazy. Now that the second location is open, hopefully things will ease up a bit and we can concentrate on other things. We are definitely moving into our slow season for the Garage business and it is time to switch gears and get busy with the online selling to help pay for the renovations in Ecuador.

This is one of those beautiful plates that went to Georgia
Visit My ebay Store

Meanwhile the roof and wall repairs continue in Ecuador and Sebastian sends us photos on a regular basis. Apparently the weather has been really cooperative and has allowed the workers to continue to make progress.

Lately my thoughts have been more and more focused on Ecuador. Probably the craziness of our lives at this moment has left me longing for a more quiet peaceful life. Until then we have to keep reminding ourselves that all the hard work we are putting in now is to afford us the opportunity to make the move to Cuenca, the place we will eventually call Home.