Monday, May 31, 2010

There are no sufficient words... express our thanks.

American Cemetary, Normandy, France, 2004

Friday, May 28, 2010

Graduation Day is here!

This darling plate was painted by Houston artist Lindy Neuhaus, whom I've blogged about before (I have a set of her Christmas plates that I love - see this post). The plate was a gift to Hockey Boy from longtime family friends

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And so it begins...


Graduation Week has arrived. Since kindergarten we have been working toward this moment, yet now that it is here, I find the whole experience surreal and bittersweet.

Sunday morning Hockey Boy's senior class had its Baccalaureate service at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in downtown Dallas. The architecturally stunning Meyerson, designed by I.M. Pei, was a beautiful backdrop for this very moving service.

Hockey Boy's last day of class was yesterday (seniors with an average of 80 or better and no unexcused absences are exempt from exams), and the rest of the week is filled with fun events. I am co-chairing a reunion of teachers and students at his elementary school tomorrow afternoon. Thursday holds a Senior Breakfast, Honors Assembly and Picnic. The actual graduation ceremony is Friday night, followed by an all-night party (where Robert and I are working the "early" shift, from 10:30-2:00!).

Let the tears begin.

Me with Dots and Taylor's mom, Jane, before the service (Taylor is the boy from Houston who has lived with us this year)

The seniors processed in, led by the choir who sang from the stage. Hockey Boy is in the center on the front row

The speaker was Gary Cogill, the film critic for WFAA in Dallas

At the end of the service, the choir encircled the senior class and sang John Rutter's
The Lord Bless You and Keep You. It was incredibly beautiful and moving. I start to cry just remembering it!

Hockey Boy is second from the left

A happy Hockey Boy after the service

Posing with his dad

At brunch with friends afterward

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vivian visits a horse barn.


Vivian's class recently visited a local barn that specializes in therapeutic horseback riding. Her teacher sent these cute pictures and reported that Vivian really liked the horses, so I'm going to look into signing her up for some classes this summer. Hopefully that will go over better than the aquatic therapy we tried last summer (I abandoned this after our third visit because it was just too stressful trying to get a highly reluctant Vivian into her swimming suit, into and out of the car, into the facility and into the water!).

Isn't this sweet of the horse resting its head on Vivian's?

Friday, May 21, 2010

What's for dinner: Sweet and Spicy Black Beans and Grilled Cilantro-Lime Chicken Breasts.


Things are busy at my house! In addition to the usual hustle and bustle that accompany the end of school, I've had a slew of senior activities which are accelerating as we approach graduation next Friday. My own senior (and the extra one who's lived with us this year) checked out LONG ago in regards to school; likely about the time those first college acceptance letters arrived!

At any rate, I've been cooking some lately but mostly just for Robert, the girls and me, as the boys are scarcely home (though Taylor joined us for this meal and liked it a lot). Through Simply Sandi I discovered a new blog called Mommie Cooks! where I've found many great new recipes. I've also struck up a nice friendship with Julie (aka "Mommie").

I prepared Julie's Sweet and Spicy Black Beans and served them with Grilled Cilantro-Lime Chicken Breasts and a simple green salad. Everything was delicious! The black beans were similar to baked beans, but they had a much more complex flavor. None of this required an undue amount of prep work, especially since I cheated and bought my onion already chopped at the prep bar at Central Market.


Sweet and Spicy Black Beans
From Mommie Cooks!

2 T olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeƱos, seeded and finely chopped
4 15-oz. cans black beans
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, undrained
⅓ c honey
⅓ c brown sugar
1 t ginger
1 t salt

Grab a large frying pan and heat your olive oil on medium high heat. To the heated oil add your onions and stir. Cook the onions for 5 minutes and then turn the heat down to medium and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes stirring frequently so they don't burn. Your onions should cook down to about half of what you started with and they should be a nice golden brown color.

While your onions are cooking, chop up the jalapenos and garlic and set to the side. Drain and rinse your black beans and add them all to a large pot on medium heat. Along with the beans add your tomatoes, honey, brown sugar, ginger and salt.

After your onions have cooked for an additional 15-20 minutes, add in the jalapeno and garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Then add the onion mixture in with the beans and heat through until hot.

There is also a note from the cookbook that says you don't necessarily have to cook your onions for 20 minutes but this will make the dish if you do. Those golden browned onions will impart a wonderful sweet flavor you won't want to miss.

Note from Eloise: I cut this recipe in half for the four of us as it makes a lot

The beans smelled so delicious as they were cooking!

Grilled Cilantro-Lime Chicken Breasts
adapted from a recipe in Cooks Illustrated

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 T fresh lime juice
3 T olive oil
1 t sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T water
1½ t salt
½ t pepper
½ c chopped cilantro leaves

Combine marinade and add to zipper-lock bag along with chicken breasts. Marinate 1-2 hours then grill.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dallas Blog Gathering, Take 3!


Sweet Hopsy from Monograms and Manicures organized a gathering of Dallas bloggers last week in the food court at NorthPark. Even though I was the oldest person there - by about 25 years! - it was a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed visiting with Emily again and meeting Erin, Melissa, Katie, Sarah and Lindsey. (We missed you, Jill!)

We plan to get together again soon and hope that even more Dallas bloggers can join us!

The talented Emily brought these beautiful flowers that she arranged herself

Left to right: Erin, Melissa, Sarah, Emily, me, Katie, Hopsy and Lindsey

Warm thanks to Erin for serving as our very capable photographer!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cousins weekend in Virginia, part II.

Funny aside: I have a good friend in Dallas who attended W&L for two years and then transferred back to finish at the University of Texas. I texted him that I was so taken with the beauty of Lexington and of the Washington and Lee campus that I didn't think I ever could have left if I'd gone there. He wrote back: "You would have left if W&L had been all male and you were craving Texas girls and Mexican food!"

Cathy made reservations for us at this charming restaurant in downtown Lexington called the Red Hen

We elected to order the five-course chef's tasting menu

Before our first course our server brought us this
Amuse Bouche which was a tiny little white radish

I wish I had taken notes on our courses! First up was this Asparagus Salad - it was shaved asparagus with (I think) quinoa

Next was local trout in some sort of broth

Then chopped pork with spinach and another sort of grain

Beef with cheese grits, asparagus and caramelized shallots atop cocoa powder - I remember this one because it was my favorite!

Dessert number one: flan custard

Second dessert: strawberries and chocolate with a tarragon sauce

Oh, no, we're not done yet! Chocolate truffles with our check

I'm laughing at my cousin Cathy who has just spilled wine all over Nancy Baby while trying to have her do a closed-eye wine tasting!

Nancy Baby was a good sport and let Cathy try again, but I couldn't watch this time!

My sister, who is a Food Network junkie, asked if we could meet the chef

He graciously agreed to have his picture taken with us

We passed this beautiful vista of the James River on our way back to the Lynchburg airport Sunday

Marian took this picture of my cousins and me. What a great time we had!

For an earlier post on my wonderful cousins, click here

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cousins weekend in Virginia, part I.


I hope that everyone had a Happy Mother's Day! I sure did. I went to Virginia for the weekend with my sister and cousins. I was only able to go for Saturday and Sunday as Hockey Boy had his final choir concert and banquet Friday night, but we packed a lot of fun into the 30 or so hours I was there, and it felt like I was gone for much longer.

We stayed at my cousin Cathy's river house near Lexington

The setting was idyllic!

After I arrived, we drove into Lexington for lunch. It is one of the most charming towns I've ever visited! There was block after block of beautiful, old, historic red-brick buildings filled with cute little shops and restaurants

We ate lunch on the terrace of a nice little place called the Sheridan Livery Inn

Left to right are me, my cousin Nancy (whom we call Nancy Baby to distinguish her from our Aunt Nancy), my sister Marian and my cousin Cathy

We shared this delicious dessert of warm banana bread with buttermilk ice cream - yum!

I found a cute Lilly dress at this darling shop

After lunch we walked off that delicious dessert on the beautiful campus of Washington and Lee University which adjoins downtown Lexington


Nancy Baby, me and Marian on the W&L campus

My sister took this picture of me. It looks like I'm checking my email, but I promise I was getting ready to take a picture!

Lee Chapel features prominently in the middle of W&L

Robert E. Lee and his family are interred in a crypt on its lower level (my husband was named for Robert E. Lee so he loved seeing these pictures)

The Virginia Military Institute is adjacent to the W&L campus, but their styles are quite different

We returned from town and relaxed in chairs by the river - heavenly!

Then we retreated to the back porch for wine and cheese (lovely shot of me, but hopefully you get the picture!)

Coming up next... Dinner out at the Red Hen in Lexington