Monday, August 31, 2009

Family Vacation Part III (My Birthday in Charleston)

Today I celebrate several things. I celebrate Gracie's recovery. My very sick kitty gave me a very real scare. All is well and she has emerged from under the bed to "grace" us all with her presence. She looks tired and a little beat up from the various IVs and shots and ultrasounds and vaccinations and x-rays. I realize I am not a "mother" to a real, live "human" child but I love my cats fiercely. (And yes, I would, and have, loved dogs just as fiercely.) My heart was breaking thinking of being faced with a difficult decision. I had a good cry with mom on the phone as I left Gracie at the vet. I was preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. I celebrate that my kitty survived (another) terrible ailment. Yes, she has done this to me before and she always pulls through! A testament to how tough she is. So hug your pets just a little extra for me tonight. They bring us such joy. And a special thank you to Karin Hinkle, DVM and her veterinary staff at Huebner Oaks Veterinary Hospital. She called me with updates all day long AND she made several follow up calls today. She didn't have to be so thoughtful....apparently Gracie wasn't the most "gracious" patient (no pun intended). Gracie doesn't like to come downstairs, let alone leave the premises. Add to that a raging fever and an infected bladder and you have one angry cat!
I would also like to celebrate a personal victory. Yesterday I officially achieved "Lifetime Membership" status at Weight Watchers! I have maintained my goal (within 6 ounces) since May 18, 2009. (Yes...I know...that was a VERY long time since my last weigh in...but the good news is that I only fluctuated 6 ounces!) A lot of you have been very supportive of me on this journey. Weight Watchers is an amazing system! It works! Now, I know most weight loss programs claim "it works." Weight Watchers is not a is a way of living. No food is off is just up to you to watch your portion size and budget your points as you would a checking account. I have recently introduced three friends to the system. They have chosen the on-line option. I actually go to meetings. I need "the group" atmosphere. Plus, I always leave empowered and with a new recipe or food item in my tool box. I know that weight loss and maintenance plagues a lot of individuals. I am one of them! If anyone wants more information...or wants to hear my story...or wants some pointers...please talk to me! I trust this process and this system so much. Who day I might put myself out there and lead a group!

As promised...more from The Vela Family Vacation, 2009! My birthday was spent in historic...
One of the first places we walked into was this AMAZING antique shop. The owner travels to France and England to purchase her inventory. I went through the entire store saying, "I want that, and I want this, and I would totally own this, and I need this someday, too!" Mom was exhausted by all my "I want, I want, I want!" But we had a good time imagining where we might place something or how we might use something. Dad even had a good time and I noticed he asked the saleslady a couple of questions. Below are some photos of things I absolutely LOVED!

I have wanted a piece like this for a very long time! Sigh....someday!
Who needs an "island" in their kitchen when you could have this zinc-topped farm table? Just run some electrical up the leg and there you go! I would soooooooooooooooooooo choose this over a brand new island in a heartbeat! Oh, and I will take everything "on" it as well!
And what proper Southern antique shop wouldn't have a courtyard filled with the sweet gurglings of fountains? Can I have the entire courtyard, too?
After the antique shop we found this outdoor corridor.....
with fantastic residences located on either side of it.....
peppered with delightful, charming elements.....
that led to the most spectacular cemetery I have ever visited! Mom and I sat on the bench at the edge of the cemetery for a quick photo. I then proceeded to take what felt like a million photos of various gravestones, headstones, etc. I will include those photos in another post. IF I were to be buried...that is EXACTLY the type of place I would want as my final resting place.
As I mentioned, we spent my birthday in Charleston. My birthday is August 5. This was one of the first headstones I photographed. Coincidence? Of all days....I photographed this one on August 5 which also happens to be MY birthday!
I really enjoyed my visit to Charleston. Mom and Dad claimed to like Savannah better. I was equally charmed by both cities. I hope to be able to spend MUCH MORE time in both locations. One day simply is not enough. When in Charleston visit the following places: Tristan Restaurant and Plum Elements. We ate at another fantastic restaurant but the name escapes me. It is named for the dog that once lived in the old home and spent most of his time on the front porch. Mom and I also found a precious boutique that had some unique clothes, jewelry and cards. I WISH I could remember the name, but I can't. (That is really too bad because the owner was so sweet!)
I am lovin', lovin', lovin' OLOROSO! This SUBLIME restaurant is located in Southtown on South Alamo Street. Chef Josh Cross' menu pays homage to the cuisine of the Mediterrenean with a smidge of "contemporary" thrown in for good measure. My Aunt Sylvia and I dined at Oloroso prior to Uncle Vanya. She is a foodie in every sense of the word. She has also had the opportunity to travel the world and feast on all types of culinary delights. Oloroso impressed her from the very first bite of our mushroom puff pastry (I can't remember the name) appetizer. (It is the only picture I took because I was frankly so intoxicated by the food and wine I completely forgot to take any other photos!)

For dinner I selected from the Three Course Pre-Fixe Menu. I have cut and pasted (from the Oloroso website) the options here and I HIGHLY suggest going this route. It is a nice way to sample several items at a very reasonable rate. My dinner choices included the salad, hangar steak and chocolate clafoutis.

Three Course Pre-Fixe

(Available Until 7:00 pm Daily)

Soup of the Day


Salad of Field Greens

Poached Wild Dover Sole with roasted Peppers, Leeks and Fingerling Potatoes finished with Salsa Verde


Braised Honey Cumin Duck Leg with Summer Beans and Swiss Chard finished with Thyme Jus


Grilled Hangar Steak with Fingerling Potatoes, Roasted Tomatoes and Cippolini Onions and Haricot Verts finished with Roasted Garlic Sauce

Buttermilk Pannacotta

Chocolate Clafoutis

Aunt Sylvia ordered the Braised Rabbit Leg. She offered me some and I had a moment of discomfort (you know...the image in my head) but then I let the image drift right out of my head and delighted in this dish. She said, "This is the best rabbit I have ever had!" MAJOR vote of confidence...the woman knows her food!

If you have an opportunity check out this wonderful restaurant. You will not be disappointed. They have valet parking on every night with the exception of First Friday.

I am off to bed! Good night, friends. It is ALMOST Friday! And ALMOST a three day weekend!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Family Vacation Part II

From Savannah we traveled north to Kiawah Island, South Carolina. A friend of Dad's suggested Kiawah Island and put Dad in contact with the organization responsible for the island rentals. As luck would have it we were no additional a condominium facing the water.

This is the back side of the building we stayed in.
This is the building our condominium was in. Our condo is the second balcony below the second chimney from the right. Did that make sense? That is the best way I can think to describe it!
Below are several photos of the view from our balcony. It was so wonderful to sit out there in the early morning and early evening and read, pray, or simply watch the beach-goers.

Above are some photos of the boardwalk to get to the beach. (For some reason I am not being allowed to type underneath each photo. I have learned that Blogger often has it's own agenda and I need to honor it. Not an easy task for someone who wants things to "look" a certain way. However, today I don't feel like fighting the Blogger program. It simply isn't worth the wasted energy, is it?)

Kiawah Island is completely untouched by time. There is one area...that looks much like a village...where EVERYTHING you might need is located. The grocery store, pharmacy, architects, builders, book store, coffee shop, etc are all centralized in this one location. The rest of the island consists of homes, condominiums, golf courses, neighborhood pools and the like. To be honest Mom and I seized the opportunity to relax in the condo, read, rest and not put on any makeup! Now that is what I call a vacation. (Oh...and there were signs EVERYWHERE reading, "Beware of Alligators." Now all of you who know me well will undoubtedly be laughing at me, again. Can I ever escape lizards on my vacations? As a result I was most afraid to walk anywhere alone!)

Kiawah Island is about 30 minutes from Charleston, South Carolina. The next post will highlight our day in Charleston.

Have a wonderful Sunday evening, friends. I have been lazy...AGAIN! I love me some Sunday laziness!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Quick Detour....Rest Stop Ahead

Right now I am lovin' Stella & Dot's Fall Line! My dear, dear, dear friend, Rupa Crow, has become an Independent Stella & Dot Stylist. Tomorrow night is her first official trunk show and open house. I am so excited for her and know that she will be an outstanding success! Best wishes on your new endeavor, friend.
Above are The Garden Party Chandelier Earrings. These stunning earrings are available for 54 dollars. I am excited to say they will soon be making a home in my jewelry box. If you are interested in these earrings...or any other here to be redirected to Rupa's webpage. If you can not make the trunk show click on "Can't Make Party: Find a Hostess" and enter in "Rupa Crow" then order away.

Long day and I MUST turn in so I can be fresh for the Trunk Show tomorrow evening! Goodnight, friends!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Family Vacation Part I

Dear Jace',

Thank you for giving me the strength I needed to approach the blog again today. And thank you for the reminder that my blog is not "too good" for Office Wisdom. My blog and I do heartily apologize for our inconsiderate and insensitive treatment of your Office quotes. My blog and I know you spent many a long, long, long hour compiling the quotes and we sincerely appreciate your efforts. In an attempt to make you happy...AGAIN....we have included one of OUR favorites at the bottom of this post. We promise to never ignore you or your efforts again. (That's what he said...but I think he was lying!)

Love always....Patty and her blog.

Tonight I will begin to chronicle the summer vacation I took with my parents. Many thanks to Mom and Dad for extending the invitation to me. This vacation was EXACTLY what the doctor ordered for ALL OF US! It was a lovely trip....
However it must be a general rule when my family travels together we put the Griswald's to shame. This family vacation was no different! There is only a slight difference...I do not have a brother, my father would have no clue if Christie Brinkley drove up next to us and we are Mexican-American. THAT'S IT!

Here we are...or rather there "they" are. The two heads of the Griswald family. We arrived in Jacksonville, Florida because that is where Southwest flies. From there we took a healthy road trip in this black mafia car my father rented! To his credit, it was comfortable and got some excellent gas mileage. (The fog on the camera is due to the ABSOLUTE SWAMP LIKE WEATHER in Jacksonville. My cold camera met the 100% humidity and fogged up the lens. I am not sure why I expected anything other than swamp like humidity...but I did. Silly girl!)
Below Mom is preparing for one of our flights....
Mom and Dad attempting to pack the mafia-mobile again....
From Jacksonville we drove to Savannah, Georgia. I had long wanted to visit Savannah. Well, ever since I saw Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil as I suspect is the case with many of Savannah's tourists. The trip was roughly two hours; most of which I spent creating a music playlist I thought would please the parents. Once we entered the city limits I was transfixed! I simply did not have enough eyes to take it all in.
We checked into our hotel The Mulberry Inn (Holiday Inn). This hotel is centrally located and perfectly charming! From our window we could see the Savannah river. The hotel has high tea at 4pm daily and a lovely Sunday brunch; both complete with entertainment. It is ideally situated in the Historic District. From here you can walk to a number of points of interest and it is incredibly close to many excellent restaurants. For it's perfect location and left over charm I highly recommend this hotel.

Unfortunately we ran into a good bit of rain. We actually got stuck in this restaurant...which was fine because it had a very unique vibe. (We never thought to take umbrellas with us because we no longer are familiar with the concept of rain.) This restaurant is called B. Matthew's and is located right along Bay Street. The FIRST thing we ordered was fried green tomatoes. I forgot to take a photo...but I did manage to take a picture with my completely normal, not southern, salad! However, it was damn good! I adore goat cheese and it adorned every salad I had on this trip. (And you all know that was many, many, many a salad!)
Below is a photo of Mom and Dad waiting for the cab to take us to dinner.
Above is a photo of Mom and I waiting for the cab to take us to dinner. Note the fantastic Stella & Dot jewelry set I am wearing!

Dinner was at Vic's on the River. Here is a photo of our second round of fried green tomatoes. (Yes...we DID order them every opportunity we had!) I had scallops and risotto and they dish was OUT OF THIS WORLD! If you are ever in Savannah...and everyone should be at some time in their MUST eat here!
Unfortunately we were only in Savannah for roughly 24 hours. That is a shame because there is so much to see. However I am certain I will get back there many, many, many more times! I loved it. Below is a photo of Mom and Dad outside one of the cemeteries.
Below are some photos I took at the cemetery. Morbid...I know. But JUST WAIT for the Charleston photos! Head stones and grave markers galore! I like this photo because I was able to capture bits of the moss that grows on all the trees. Makes me feel spooky!
I played with color and shading on the photo below. I like the way it turned out and am thinking of having this one framed.
Mom and Dad in the cemetery. Dad is frowny faced! It is very hard to capture a likeness of him a)looking at the camera, b)with his eyes open, c)smiling and d)appearing as if he is enjoying himself! God love ya, Daddy!
This entire brick wall was covered with these tablets that sit flush up against the wall. This was the best angle I could get without catching the other people hoping for a similar picture.
I convinced Mom and Dad to drive by Forsyth Park just before we left town. I HAD to have a photo of the fountain that Ms. Chablis is walking towards when she is talking about her "Kickin' Chicken" recipe. This fountain was created in 1858. It is located in Forsyth Park. The park extends from Gaston Street to Park Avenue along the Bull Street corridor.
Below are some close up photos of different parts of the fountain. The park is truly lovely. Again, if you are in Savannah this park is a MUST SEE.

From Savannah we moved onto Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Bet you all can't wait until the next post?

Just a final note....The Vela family had a total "Big Ben, Parliament, Big Ben, Parliament" moment. The only difference is now there is GPS and instead this annoying female voice just kept saying, "Recalculating. Recalculating. Recalculating," over and over again!!
It's good to be paranoid. People need to be more paranoid. Case in
point, JFK. If I had been JFK, I would've seen all three gunmen. I
would've pulled out my concealed Luger and fired first. Man in book
depository, boom! Grassy knoll, boom! Fake Jackie, boom! Then I'd shoot
myself, so I don't change history and create a paradox, boom! But right
at the last minute I twist out of the way of the bullet. Nice try,
history. Better luck next year. -- Dwight

Goodnight, friends. Family Vacation to be continued....

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bad, Bad, Bad...

You know it is bad when you are receiving text messages from friends saying, "When are you going to update your blog?" Again...I have no excuse. I can't even blame Facebook this time. I simply haven't had much to say.

Last week was my first "official" week back to work. While it was lovely to see old work friends, I am still trying to readjust to the schedule. I found myself quite sleepy last week. Additionally, I had something to do every evening last week! No...I am NOT complaining...just trying to explain why there has not been a post since last Sunday.
This week I saw Julie & Julia (I also saw 500 Days of Summer~fantastic!). For those of you who do not know Julie & Julia is a movie about Julie Powell who cooked 584 recipes from Julia Child's cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking over a period of 365 days! She blogged faithfully EACH day! I was amazed! I mean...I find it hard enough to blog EVERY DAY...never mind serving up a fine French feast AND going to work EVERY DAY! I was inspired. However....I must have been only mildly inspired because I saw the movie on Thursday and I have only logged on to post today. the end of the movie I turned to my mom and said, "You know...I started my blog to chronicle daily celebrations and as an outgrowth, to stay busy and find things to blog about. Now I am so busy, I don't have time to blog! Guess my plan worked!" I celebrate the fact that the blog served it's purpose!

I am hoping to be more faithful this week....although I can already see where this week is shaping up to look exactly like last week! Busy, busy, busy all week long. Staying busy serves me well. I am the type of person who needs to stay busy. If not....I could have a repeat of today....which wasn't pretty! It was Movie Marathon Sunday. I laid in bed and watched The Manchurian Candidate, The Graduate and Some Like It Hot. The only thing that took me away from the television was an occasional nap. It struck me...I was no better than my cats today!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish my friend Lisa a very Happy Birthday!

Happy Sunday, friends. For those of you welcoming fresh faces wishes. You are charged with a beautiful task. I know it isn't always easy....but you all amaze me every day!


Sunday, August 16, 2009

In Honor of Mad Men

Tonight ushers in the third season of Mad Men on AMC. I have waited for this day since...well...the end of the second season. Let me be clear. NOTHING, NO SHOW can replace Gilmore Girls as number ONE in my heart. However, Mad Men comes very, very, very close.

On the Mad Men web site you can create, or rather re-create, yourself in a Mad Men-esque sort of manner. Below is a cartoon rendering of the character I would be if I were a member of the cast. hair is NOT that red....or even red at all. But in my Mad Men world it is. Notice the filthy martini in my hand! Now I do not advocate smoking, under any circumstance (any longer), but a cigarette was de rigueur and I simply could not pass it up as an accessory. In this case...and this case only...zeitgeist trumps the Surgeon General's warning.
Ahhhhh...if only I walked around with a red bee-hive, scarf, form fitting sixties dress, "Break It To Me Gently" playing in my background with a fresh martini in hand!

Have a wonderful week, friends! I know MOST of you are heading back to work tomorrow. Here's to another good school year......

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Road Trip-Part III (Precious Friendships)

The length of my absence is inexcusable! I was VERY lazy on vacation and have been VERY busy since my return. be honest...I have been spending an INORDINATE amount of time on Facebook. HOWEVER....Facebook is responsible for my daily celebration.'s okay. Facebook has done my heart good.....
Today I celebrate old friendships and new ones! As part of my road trip to Dallas I was able to visit with an old friend, David Leggett! Below is a photo of David in his FABULOUS loft in downtown Dallas.
David and I met the first week of my freshman year at Southwestern University. He had attended high school with my suite mate, Jillian Hasty. I didn't know a soul. She knocked on our shared bathroom door and came bounding in with her dynamite, tiny girl, energy. I believe I ate my first meal with Jillian and David and I had every meal with them from that point on! David also became dear friends with Cara. So when I was planning my trip to see Cara, I sought David out on Facebook and arranged a special date! David was a most gracious host and it warmed my heart that we were able to spend the evening with him...even if I did leave the party to travel down two floors to the Martellus Bennet poolside party! (They share the same rooftop patio! The entire building was invited!)
Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with so many old friends. I had resisted and resisted and resisted and now I am just fascinated. It really is lovely to see people I knew in high school or college living unique lives and allowing me a peek into the paths they have chosen. What a gift to see Kelly Mott as a mother of three and still just as sassy as ever, Jill Bauknight as a mother of three and still just as funny as ever, to re-live my London study abroad days with Laura Goodson and Alicia Schweter, to reconnect with the boys from the KA house and be able to know them as adults...husbands and fathers, to heal through conversations with Amy Gillespie, to keep up with my little cousin Marisa's wonderful LA life, to see how Elena Guerra has not aged a day, to see the joy in Lisa Stroud's daily living, to see Joey Gomez all grown up and filled out, to plan a trip to visit Ramsey Jankowski, Gena Reynolds and Kelly in October! Sure...Facebook is eating up all my time....but it sure does my heart good to see how all these people who have impacted my life are living well! I really could not imagine a greater gift. AND....I convinced my mom to join! Imagine that! And she posts the kindest thoughts. Her posts are an inspiration.

In as much as old friendships are are new ones! This is Meredith and Nathan....
I met them through Logan a few weeks ago and have been enjoying their company ever since! We have all formed a supper club...mostly because Logan is a great cook and Meredith is a CHAMPION pie maker. Jace' and I just watch....mostly. Meredith and Nathan are such a lovely couple and they are so easy to be around. You instantly get the feeling that they meet each and every person exactly where they are at and are absolutely cool with that. We (Jace' and I...yes...we are a "we") haven't known Meredith long but we feel as if we have been friends with her for years. I know I speak for both of us when I say we are excited to see where our friendship takes us in the future!

And here is one old friend and one new friend. You have both helped my soul heal so much recently. I am blessed to call you both....and your mom, friends.
I am lovin' this magnet right now. I am not going to say much....other than I found this magnet on THE MOST PERFECT DAY of my life! Some of you know what I am talking about. For those of you that don't....go ahead and use your imagination. Then multiply that scenario by ten and you have the reason I love this magnet so much.....
I found this magnet on my trip in St. Augustine, Florida. I believe the shop is called Dragonflies and they had THE BEST magnets and cards. I spent 50 dollars on cards, alone! Yes...some of you should be expecting them in the mail soon! The magnet is produced by Anne Taintor, Inc.

I can not publish this post without wishing my OLDEST and DEAREST friend, Najla, a very happy birthday. I love you, little mama! I hope you had a great day with the best gift God could possibly bless you with....your family!

Goodnight, friends. Morning will roll around all too soon and I am just back to work today. My sleep schedule is all over the place.

This blog post is dedicated in loving memory of Bill Pearson (Cara's father) and CJ Liebl (Maria's step-son, Rick's son). They both passed away since my last entry. My thoughts and prayers are with their families. I have to believe they are both enjoying a great glass of red wine right about now.