Tag Archives: rof

World’s Best Margarita Recipe

30 Aug

Look no further. The best margarita recipe is here. Once you make this, you’ll never, ever use a mix again. These, hands down are the best drinks to usher out the summer.

if you want a plain, delicious margarita recipe, see this. But if you want to shake things up a little bit (that’s cocktail humor) then read on…

Jalapeño Margarita

My boy, ROF, is the best drink maker, I guess you’d call that a bartender. You can watch all his drink videos here.

Here is his video and the recipe follows. This is from a couple of years ago when we lived in Dallas. So it is Dallas approved!


6 Limes – juice them. Have more for garnish

1 cup Jalapeno simple syrup – recipe follows

1 cup Cointreau liquor – orange-flavored liqueur

1 cup Herradura tequila – or any tequila

Pour all into a large pitcher and stir. Pour into four glasses filled with ice and garnished with a lime.

Jalapeno Simple Syrup Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 fresh jalapeño peppers (washed and stemmed)

Make it:

  • Add the sugar and water to a saucepan over medium-high heat and stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved
  • Slice jalapeños lengthwise and add to the pan
  • Bring to a boil, stirring frequently
  • Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and simmer for three minutes
  • Remove from heat and let it steep for 20 minutes
  • Strain to remove all of the pepper

Enjoy! Let me know if you make these! Happy Labor Day!

Killer Chili Recipe

16 Sep

I think I may have found a killer chili recipe.  Actually, I have several really good chili recipes – but this is no ordinary recipe.

This is fancy chili.

This ain’t no throw it in a pot and watch it boil type of chili.  It’s stay-in-on-a-cold-Saturday-afternoon-light-a-fire-in-the-fireplace kind of chili.  in our case, we made it before the super bowl while it was a balmy 7 degrees outside.

I got this recipe from one of my favorite cooks, but it actually isn’t her recipe but an award-winning chili from one of her friends.  I googled this name and found a lot of bloggers have already covered this chili recipe, so if you don’t believe me how good it is – company good- just click here, or here or even here.  I don’t mind, but they don’t have cute ROF in their photos!


1. We cut this recipe in 1/2 and it gave us 6 servings.  Make a note of that or you’ll be eating it for a week!

2. It has coffee in it.  Fancy…!

3. There is a ton (i mean a TON) of hot spices in here.  May want to cut it back just a little if you’re not adventurous like us.   The sour cream is a mandatory topping to cut the heat.

Devon’s Award Winning Chili (Serves 6 to 8 )

Copyright 2010, Devon Fredericks, All Rights Reserved 

5 pounds beef brisket, cut in 1-inch cubes
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups yellow onions, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, crushed
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons cumin
2 green peppers, diced
1 bay leaf
6 cups tomatoes, chopped with their liquid
Salt and pepper
½ cup strong coffee
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans
2 tablespoons basil

Serve with
Sour cream
Grated Cheddar
Diced tomato
Tortilla chips

Pat the brisket cubes dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a very large heavy casserole and quickly brown the meat in batches on all sides. Transfer the brisket to a separate bowl and set aside. Sauté the onion and garlic in the same oil over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes until limp, but not brown. Add the chili powder, pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and cumin and sauté for 1 minute. Add the green peppers, bay leaf, tomatoes with their juice, the reserved meat, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 2½ hours, stirring occasionally.

Add 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste, and the coffee, cover the pot and simmer for one more hour.

Add the kidney beans and basil, and warm through. Serve with bowls of sour cream, grated cheddar, diced tomato, tortilla chips, and guacamole.

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Super Bowl Cocktail Video “Boston Cooler”

3 Feb

Since the Cowboys aren’t in the Super Bowl, this isn’t a big deal to me.  ROF is rooting for New England.  In fact, he is giving us all a refreshing cocktail to sip along with this scrumptious dip or these awesome sliders.

The Cranberry Moscow Mule Holiday Cocktail

7 Dec

the weekend is almost here <sigh> and i’m ready for it! i’ve got a fun weekend planned which includes:

– wisconsin chamber orchestra rendition of handel’s messiah

– five hours of DIY bliss with herbs and essential oils and bath products at a class at the botanical gardens

– ROF making his tasty wintertime meal: beef stroganoff and we might crack open a bottle of caymus.

it’s also Thursday so ROF has mixed up a holiday cocktail for your weekend indulgence!




2oz Vodka

4oz Ginger beer

squeeze of lime

frozen cranberries

Pour, squeeze, stir, dink!

cocktails with ROF jack-o-fire cocktail

30 Nov

all month long , we’re going to feature a signature holiday drink and release it on thursday.

one thing that is fun to do if you’re having a holiday cocktail or dinner party  is to start with a pre-made signature drink.  typically just one to hand people as they come in.  when people come over, try to engage all the senses.  for example, your house is infused with scented candles that have already been burning a while or a tasty dinner in the oven, a holiday playlist with regular music mixed in with holiday music and a signature cocktail!

this first cocktail is the perfect holiday sipping drink.  you’ve got cinnamon flavor with the whisky, vanilla, pumpkin and irish cream all together.

all this month, if you post on social media, send us a photo or comment here on the blog of one of ROF’s drinks you made, we’ll enter you in a drawing to win a sleeve of these:


  • 1 part Fireball Whisky

  • 1 part vanilla vodka

  • 1 part pumpkin spice liqueur

  • 1 part Irish cream

Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with cinnamon stick and ground nutmeg. Recipe from here.

how to make world class scrambled eggs

22 Nov

scrambled eggs?  am i off my rocker?  what about turkey, cranberry sauce or harvest rolls?  nah, you’ve got that covered...it’s too late for that.  but what you really need to know is how to make world class eggs.  guys, listen up.  and by that i truly mean guys.  you have an opportunity here to master this art and win over your kids hearts every saturday morning.

at least that was the case with me.  my dad cooked a few things real well.  steak and eggs.  not together.  he was the world class scrambled egg maker.  in his slippers, saturday mornings, MTV blaring in the family room next to the kitchen.  TURN THAT CRAP DOWN!  sorry, i digress.  now, these may not have been the best eggs i ever had but i would never know it.  my dad talked everything he did up.  so when he served the eggs and bacon he’d say “have you ever seen anything more beautiful than that?”  and “you’re in for a real treat today, kids” – always matched with an eye roll from my mom.

now, i’m married to ROF and he really does make the best scrambled eggs.  i would have loved to have a scrambled egg challenge with him and my dad.  that would have been fun.  but ROF cooks me eggs a lot – even during the week! and i have to say, they are the best.  (shout out to my sis who makes the best over-easy eggs and egg sammies in the world!)

watch ROF at work here and how to make scrambled eggs.  oh, and of course, you girls can master this too! 🙂

grill your pizza, yo!

29 Aug

 ROF was not happy about the idea of grilling pizza.

we were doing our pre-dinner ritual of playing cards when he kept saying things like:

“so i don’t get it.  how does it work?  i mean, do you roll the dough out?”

trust me, love.  look at all these recipe books that have done it – it can be done!

i have to say – on behalf of both of us – it was not good – the pizza was AWESOME.  y’all do this – this weekend!  this is what you do (not a recipe, just directions)

go to whole foods or trader joes and buy pizza dough in the freezer section.  you can buy dough anywhere but i can’t then vouch for how good it is.  thaw it out in the fridge. ours was in there for a few days – no biggie.  get your toppings together.  we fried up some onions and mushrooms from the farmers market on the stove.  might have thrown in some garlic too.  take the dough and just stretch it out with your fingers.

now, get your toppings together.  we fried up some onions and mushrooms from the farmers market on the stove.  might have thrown in some garlic too.  take the dough and just stretch it out with your fingers.  ROF and i did this together and (he won’t admit this) i think he may have had some fun.  his dough turned out much better than mine.

get the grill nice and hot and oil up the grates, oil up the pizza dough on both sides and throw those puppies on!  Cook for about 2 minutes on each side.  bring all your toppings including sauce and cheese down to the grill, open the lid and after the dough has been flipped twice, go to work.  we both decorated our pizza the way we wanted it.  one way is to put the cheese on the bottom, no sauce and then throw the veggies on top.  but we used sauce.

Cook for about 2 minutes on each side.  bring all your toppings including sauce and cheese down to the grill, open the lid and after the dough has been flipped twice, go to work.  we both decorated our pizza the way we wanted it.  one way is to put the cheese on the bottom, no sauce and then throw the veggies on top.  but we used sauce.  i dropped some ricotta cheese on mine because that’s how i roll.   then eat!

best flank steak recipe

27 Jul

just in time for the weekend and back by popular demand…

need a “go to” steak recipe?  this is it.

i call

it the “girlfriend steak dinner” because it’s what ROF served his girlfriends if they made it to date #4.  i know this because one saturday while we were visiting in his kitchen (let’s call this date #5), his friend came over and asked if ROF had fixed me “the famous flank steak yet.”



ROF’s face turned a shade of red i hadn’t seen before as he tried to shrug the comment off and grab his friend in a head lock to shut him up.

the previous weekend ROF had indeed fixed me this famous flank steak recipe along with his butter noodles and some nice red wine.  evidently this is what lover boy did to pull out all the stops for his lady friends!  i’m glad that those lady friends now are my mom, sister and his wife!

well, here it is.  transcribed from a handmade and passed down cookbook.  you can’t go wrong.



2 tsp unseasoned meat tenderizer

1 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp dry sherry

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp salt

1 tsp accent seasoning (see photo below, in case you don’t know what i’m talking about)


honey (to drizzle on steak)

  • pierce surface of flank steak at 1 inch intervals with sharp fork.
  • combine ingredients except honey
  • put steak in pan flat and drizzle with honey on both sides
  • put steak in large baggie and pour ingredients over steak and let stand at least 1 hour at room temperature
  • grill meat over high heat for about 5-7 minutes on each side (use a timer, flank steak is bad when well done!)
  • slice with sharp knife into thin slices carving at an angle against the grain


IMG_5122518b32b3aeeca5f0762bea7edb0fee8ffor more steak ideas from ROF, click here!

drink it: blood orange martini

29 Oct



happy saturday night.

watching the cubs game (sniff), drinkin’ this spooky blood orange martinis with my girls – amy & ruby.

dropping a huge steak on the grill.

life is good.

i hope this finds you well.

happy halloween + go cubbies!


  • 1 shot vodka
  • ½ shot limoncello
  • ½ shot ginger liqueur (expensive, but you’re reuse making this)
  • 1 – 1½ shots fresh squeezed blood orange juice (found them at Central Market)
  • ¼ shot simple syrup (make it here or buy it!)
  1. Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add ingredients and shake well. Make sure you make a face while you shake and hold the shaker like i do.  That’s just for fun.  Strain in a martini glass that you’ve filled with ice and water to chill and then throw it out before you pour the drink in.
Original recipe from cocktailsdrinkrecipes.com

making martinis

20 Aug

and you thought you knew how to make a martini…🍸

throw around words like “dirty”, and “up” with confidence.

by popular demand, here’s ROF’s martini making magic for your drinking pleasure!

Cook it: gazpacho 

27 Jul

get it:

4 vine ripe tomatoes, skin removed and chopped

1/2 cucumber, diced

1/2 green pepper, diced

1/4c red wine vinegar

1/4c olive oil

1 tbsp black pepper

1 tbsp garlic powder (we love bolners fiesta brand)

2 c zing zang bloody mary mix

6-46 dashes of tabasco

make it:

prep all your ingredients. Put them all in a bowl.  add more of what you like and less of what you don’t. mix well.

cover and put in fridge for at least a couple hours – these folks need to spend time getting to know each other in the bowl.

when ready to serve, you can serve as-is or puree half of it in blender and pour it back in the bowl. Gives it a more soup-like texture but with some chunks.  serve in a bowl with dollop of sour cream, some croutons and chopped scallions.

listening to this now… detroit playlist

9 May

who am i kidding?

i’ve been listening to these songs for the past two months straight, not just now. they aren’t for everyone.  which is just how i like it.  i do believe i’ve worn ROF down playing them as much as i do.  i see some head nodding and wavy hand motions if he thinks i’m not looking.

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the music i love the most is stuff that could be the background music for my life.  just press play when i get up.

this particular mix is called detroit because i commute so much up there and stay at my cousins house out in rochester hills.  i get up super early and head out on 75 to make my way downtown.  after getting my flat white at starbucks, i press play and tear off for the motor city at 6:30am.  this is what i listened to in my headphones headed north.  i love this mix. especially spells by cannon.  <sigh.>

what is going through my head while listening to this is that i’m not actually driving down beat-up 75 at 6:30 in the morning.  i’m lounging by an infinity pool in mexico or i’ve got my feet in the sand in belize.  this is playing over the speakers.  it’s breezy and cool.

but now that i’m back in dallas for a week, i play it by our pool and think of detroit and 75 and early morning flat whites.

4 perfect cocktails: #2 the martini

8 Mar

like the margarita, the martini has many great memories for me.

at an early age, i always thought the martini glass was chic, hip + intimidating, all at the same time.  as a teenager and in my 20’s, i used to watch clips of the rat pack and james bond – always with a martini in hand and thought there was something cool about it.

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i can remember a boss i had when i was 30 telling me:  “even if you don’t drink martinis, you need to know how to make one.  if you’re entertaining clients, you won’t look like an uncivilized buffoon. right at that time, i decided that if i was going to make one, i had to actually drink one first.  i went into st. pete’s dancing marlin one evening (one of my regular spots) and pete asked: “RO, what can i get cha?” i said: “a martini”.   with a smirk on his face, he asked: “what kind?”  i replied (painfully honest here) “i have no idea” and then added: “make one that the cool guys drink”.

i watched him chill the glass, mix the concoction, slide it over to me on a bev nap where i took a sip, winced and choked back to him “pete, this is nothing but a cold shot in a big fancy glass.”  he laughed, walking away and said “yep, it sure is!”.

this recipe is for my perfect martini.


stemmed martini glass//shaker with strainer//extra dry white vermouth//olives with their juice//stoli vodka//ice



take the martini glass, put 6-8 ice cubes + a splash of water and let sit and chill for 10 minutes.

while chilling, fill the shaker with ice + pour 3 ozs of stoli vodka, the smallest dash you can pour of vermouth and a splash (1/2 oz) of olive juice (this is called dirt and i like mine just a little dirty).  put the lid on the shaker and shake for 2 minutes.  kind of like this:


take off top of shaker, dump out ice from the martini glass + strain the martini into the glass (no ice in glass) + garnish with two olives.

much like the margarita, this is a sipping drink.   do not operate heavy machinery if you’ve had more than 2 of these!  but, as they say:

“One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough.”
James Thurber

by ROF

this is #2 in a 4 part series.  you can read about the margarita here

4 perfect cocktails: #1 margarita

23 Feb

every man, once he passes the beer only or the tumbler of rum (or jack) + coke phase of drinking, needs to learn how to make a good cocktail.  it needs to be one that he likes, impresses his friends + becomes a signature drink his lady friends brag about.

the first drink, that could be your drink, is the margarita.

probably the most bastardized cocktail on the planet.  i have to admit, i started drinking margaritas, probably underage, using chi-chi’s “authentic” original or strawberry margarita right out of the 2 litre bottle.  i remember a phase in college that i very much took part of drinking the infamous upside down margarita that is mixed directly in your mouth.   i remember doing this with a group of guys at our apartment and at the frat house in college.  all that was needed was a bottle of montezuma tequila + mr. boston’s margarita/sour mix.  together they cost less than $8. the bottles needed to be cold + almost frozen.  the person partaking had to sit in a chair with his head back, mouth open with a dish towel around his neck.  the “mixer” would then pour equal parts of the cold concoction directly in his mouth until his fist rose, which meant enough.

the kind of margarita i like to make now is nothing like these two i just described. 

i gained an appreciation for the REAL margarita after moving to dallas, texas in 1994.  anyone who lives in dallas knows all of the awesome mexican and tex-mex restaurants it has to offer. these are all places i love.  and their margaritas are all so different.  you gotta get the steak nachos at mi cocina and the frozen margarita in a frozen fishbowl schooner loaded with salt.  or go right now to javier’s, where i get the rojo fish and their top shelf margarita served in a stemmed blown glass goblet.  lastly, there is our beloved blue goose on lower greenville.  always get the fajita combo (god, are those good!) with their signature on- the-rocks sour margarita  in a large tumble.  it goes down way too easy.  two nights before my (+ the appreciators) wedding, we went there with my sister, Susan, and my brother in law and group of folks.   we were way over served pitchers of these margaritas but matched it with a platter of fajitas.


after 15 + years of working on my perfect margarita that i like to serve to guests at home with a mexican meal or just on the back patio with friends and family is this:

ROF’s epic margarita

serves: 2

3 oz herradura silver tequila

2 oz cointreau liqueur

2 oz simple syrup (any brand or homemade)

juice of 4 whole limes

cup of ice

place all ingredients into a martini shaker and shake briskly for 2 minutes.   put additional ice cubes in a short waterford cocktail glass and pour in your mixture.

and as i often have to tell my sister-in-law, katie:

this is a sipping drink!

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killer company chili recipe

5 Feb

everyone is looking for that killer chili recipe and i may have found it.

this is fancy chili.

this ain’t no throw it in a pot and watch it boil type of chili.  it’s stay-in-on-a-cold-saturday-afternoon-light-a-fire-in-the-fireplace kind of chili.  in our case, we made it before the super bowl while it was a balmy 7 degrees outside.

i got this recipe from one of my favorite cooks, but it actually isn’t her recipe but an award winning chili from one of her friends.  i googled this name and found a lot of bloggers have already covered this chili recipe, so if you don’t believe me how good it is – company good- just click here, or here or even here.  i don’t mind, but they don’t have cute ROF in their photos!


1. we cut this recipe in 1/2 and it gave us 6 servings.  note that or you’ll be eating it for a week. for lunch and dinner.

2. it has coffee in it.  fancy…!

3. there is a ton (i mean ton) of hot spices in here.  may want to cut it back just a little if you’re not adventurous like us.   the sour cream is a mandatory topping to cut in on the heat.

i’m not going to do a step by step post on this because, come on…. you can figure it out.  but both ROF and i highly recommend!  let me know if you make it.

Devon’s Award Winning Chili (Serves 6 to 8 )

Copyright 2010, Devon Fredericks, All Rights Reserved 

5 pounds beef brisket, cut in 1-inch cubes
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups yellow onions, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, crushed
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons cumin
2 green peppers, diced
1 bay leaf
6 cups tomatoes, chopped with their liquid
Salt and pepper
½ cup strong coffee
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans
2 tablespoons basil

Serve with
Sour cream
Grated Cheddar
Diced tomato
Tortilla chips

Pat the brisket cubes dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a very large heavy casserole and quickly brown the meat in batches on all sides. Transfer the brisket to a separate bowl and set aside. Sauté the onion and garlic in the same oil over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes until limp, but not brown. Add the chili powder, pepper flakes, cayenne pepper and cumin and sauté for 1 minute. Add the green peppers, bay leaf, tomatoes with their juice, the reserved meat, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and simmer for 2½ hours, stirring occasionally.

Add 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste, and the coffee, cover the pot and simmer for one more hour.

Add the kidney beans and basil, and warm through. Serve with bowls of sour cream, grated Cheddar, diced tomato, tortilla chips and Guacamole.

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work & life balance. constant journey. found yours?

4 Aug

suddenly i’ve hit an age where i feel somewhat wise.

not in a smart, know-it-all kind of way. it’s just a result of age. i feel wise because, for me, i’ve may have figured it out. priorities. you know when you are in your 20s and 30s (at least 4 me) i kind of – how do you say – worked my ass off. i was single focused on:

finding out what the expectations are and exceeding them. from my boss, from my clients even from my friends. some call that being a people-pleaser and i wouldn’t disagree but i’d add to that definition. i would call it being driven.

and that changed as i grew up. in my 20s, when i started to wonder about the bigger things in life like “where do you go when you die?” and “is this all for nothing” and “is this world really all about… just us?” i dug into all kinds of spiritual things and spun out in a place of faith where i know is the right place to be. but the point here isn’t that – it’s that what i started to be driven towards changed and grew.

but now, in my 40s i’ve started to question the engine that is driving me. i go back to the place i’ll call my eye opening moment. my dad’s funeral. you can read about that here. it was when all the work folks poured in and dealers from all over the country filled the room and i thought to myself THIS IS WHERE YOU END UP! all your stress and your voicemails and emails and strategy – you end up here.

so i came up with my own priorities that i thought about and spelled out and think about now – at least for the past week since I made them up. i am going to run everything through this and it will tell me how worried to get about something or stressed or even happy for that matter.

here it is, in this order, with the background of photos i took in northern michigan last week:

this is my new driver. first God. not my version of God. to each their own, but i know my God. it is the God of the bible and the one you only can know through Jesus. that is most important to me because it puts me on track and is more than just this life.

second is a combo meal. it is health and love. health has never ever been on my radar. i would say my priorities for the most part of my life have been more in this order: 1. work 2. love & feel good. not anymore. i’ve got a functional medicine nutritionist and i’m working the simple plan. striving for a life change and for paris!

love is ROF and my friends and family. if i don’t have my health, i won’t have them and they won’t have me. like peas in a pod. and they mean the world to me. more than work and feeling good and anything else.

third is work. and this is key. this is what i run the most through my stress gauge now. does it affect my relationship with God? am i putting work before God and health and love? yes? then something is off.

we’ll see how this works out but right now, i’m feeling great. now off for a beautiful sunday with ROF driving in JWK (old car) to a car show.

this is JWK:


what is your priority filter? i’d love to know – please share!

paris: the new workout

29 May

we’re planning on going to paris in december.

 i’ve been wanting to go to paris for over 25 years.  i just really wanted to go with someone i loved.  like romantically (sorry mom.)

Amy Robert

so now, ROF is using his one week of vacation to take me there!  december may seem like an odd time to go, don’t you think?  not the spring when the buds on the trees are budding and the lovers are strolling down the Seine.  sidetracked <i hate that word ‘lovers’ by the way.  love-er.  almost hate that as much as the M word.>  

but there is a reason i picked december.  

it is the last month in the year and i’d like to lose 40 lbs before going to paris.  i better start.  that’s a lot of weight in not a lot of time.  the problem is, i don’t really want to change anything.  it’s no secret that ROF and i like the good life.  and that is what it is.  indulgence.  we like good friends, good wine, good food, good everything!  and i love living that kind of life with ROF.  but i’m going to have to tap the brakes, as they say, before paris.

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because this is my DREAM TRIP and i can’t settle for anything less than feeling great while i’m there.

so if you have some diet pointers (other than stop opening your mouth and eating good things) – send them my way.  use the code word “PARIS”.  I’ll know what you’re talking about.

rendezvous with ROF in raleigh

21 Jan

great weekend in raleigh, north carolina with ROF.  he is there on business and i thought i’d swing in and say hello.  as you can imagine, we didn’t eat at burger king.  more like we ate like kings.  oh yeah, it wasn’t any warmer in raleigh except for during the day  – it was a nice 50 degrees (12 degrees now in b’ham folks!)

friday night, we went to a place called THE PIT which was anything but the pits.  upscale BBQ in a rehabbed sweet space in historic raleigh.  fried pimento cheese balls, beef brisket and more.  we had a great time.  it was just great to be with ROF.

saturday morning we walked all over the town and took in the sites of the ice skaters at the rink outside our hotel, played cards at starbucks, napped and then hit the town again.  this time to a street food place called Buku.  inspired by all the street food around the world, they served it tapas style.  we took in mussels (out of this world), pierogi, dumplings and more.  and a bottle of silver oak.  then we headed home to the hotel and started “skyfall” before falling into a sated sleep halfway through.

sunday, we chilled out, finished skyfall and started one of our long lost AFI top 100 movies “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” which, by the way is freaking excellent.  however, it just solidifies my reasons for not getting politically involved.  bunch of rats all of them.

here are some snaps from the weekend.  

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change is in the air

3 Sep

by now you may have learned that ROF and i are moving…

it’s bittersweet. 

i’ve always embraced change but at the same time there is something in me that wants consistency and same-ness. there is comfort in what you know vs. the fear that comes with what you don’t.  however, i’ve discovered that fear dissipates as soon as you push past it.  then it becomes something that you know.

home is where the heart is and my heart is with ROF.  i gave my mom a sign that says on it “home is where your mom is” and that is true as well.  at least it was true for 39 of my 42 years.  however, having said that… i still do love our home.   and while i’m excited for change, i’m sad to be saying good-bye to a home that i love.  but it’s just a home, right?

i bonded with my sister in this home.  we bought it together 4 years ago and we had a lot of fun.  neither of us planned on it being our “forever house” – obviously – but at the time, we were single and looking to decorate.  and we loved to entertain.  i will forever look back on this time together with great fondness and memories.  then the house became ROF & my house!

the entertaining continues….   if i thought katie and i threw some parties, ROF and i really threw some parties.  all kinds.  small dinner parties, bigger bashes.  one of my favorite was ROF’s 40th birthday surprise party.  they opened an old bottle of tequila and things got fun from there – especially the fun with the cake designed to look just like… max.

another real memorable party was my mom’s 70th birthday party.  we had over 50 people here at our house, a band in the back yard, a mobile burger  unit in the back yard, homemade sangria and a special cake.  we had a blast and mom was so surprised.

i got engaged, married and lived happily ever after in this home.  we had an unbelievable wedding weekend in dallas followed by a brunch at our house with many of our friends and family members.  i’ll always cherish that time with ROF and all the people special to us.

i can’t wait to make new memories in our new place, in our new city.  i hope those memories have to do with first snows, cabin trips with card games and good ole mid-western fun.  but we’ll never forget the fun we had here.  whomever you are that gets this house…you’re lucky.  we all loved it!

if you are interested in this house – click here


schwoosh, sniff, sip: our napa wine experience

29 Aug

here it comes... my disection of our dream vacation and honeymoon to san fran and napa.  we just got back yesterday!

i’m gonna break it down in several different posts because, as you will surely see, our concentration was placed in two specific places:  eating and drinking.  (is there anything else?)

ROF and i work well together.  he loves to plan and, coincidently,  so do i.  but neither of us is obnoxious about sticking to the plans we’ve made.  he takes care of the airline and hotel and i take care of the restaurants and things to do (shopping).  on this trip, ROF did an outstanding job of planning out the wineries we went to see —  and that is what I’ve chosen to focus this blog post on today.

the wineries–the drink.

first off, there are a couple of different things you can do at different vineyard’s in the napa valley.

1. there is the pop-in technique

2. the scheduled tasting

3. reserved tour

there are probably other ways to do napa valley but these were the ways we chose.

we had 3 days in napa valley and wanted to make the best of them.  

side note: ROF and i really enjoy good wine.  so this was a special treat for us to learn more about the things we enjoy.  

the first way to make the best use of our time was to get a driver on saturday.  typically, you could never see as many places in one day as we did, but because we didn’t have to drive or navigate we saw lots of places and then headed back to san francisco. at least that is the excuse we’re using.

saturday, august 25th

andretti winery:  owned by famous race car driver, mario andretti who has a taste for fine wine and food.  the building and adjoined house were unbelievable.  this was a good starting place for us and ROF wanted to go because he is a huge fan of mario and his whole family and has met mario before.  he was actually in town and staying at the house but we didn’t see him.  the shop was eclectic with food, cool clothes, books and great photographs of the family.

for the wine tasting, it was ok.  it was not very informative – just a pour and sip.  underwhelming but not bad.  glad we went but don’t need to go back

silver oak vineyard:  this is a favorite “special” occasion wine for us.  we’ve had it several times and the winery was beautiful and very busy.  kind of like you’re checking in at a hotel.  they were extremely knowledgable and nice.  gorgeous grounds and facility and as mentioned, some of our favorite wine.  they only make cabernet.  and it’s good.  real good. 

i’m starting to get used to the drill by now.  small pour, swoosh in the glass observe the color and clarity, take a big sniff and note the notes, undertones, overtones, peppery, smooth finish.  i appreciate the differences in all .

caymus vineyard:  this is my favorite-wine-ever.  i was drinking it when ROF proposed (thanks to paul & kelly!)  we watched a video on this family – the wagners – before we made this appointment and fell in love with the  family story behind this vineyard.

we arrived early and were met by a very welcoming woman who introduced herself and let us know that we were waiting for a bigger party to join us.  this was a scheduled “sit down” tasting (vs the andretti and silver oak pop in.) she gave us two glasses and asked us to sit in a reserved table outside on the beautiful patio.  she brought us a taste of wine and then a nice guy kept coming outside and filling our glasses.  the atmosphere was so friendly – and fun!

when the wedding party group arrived – of about 10 girls – we all went into a private room and sat around a dining room table. believe it or not, as we were chit-chatting (ROF was the only guy at first) we found out that the girl sitting next to us worked for the marketing arm and works in the same building as me.  hello small world.

this wine was presented to us by a passionate and smart guy who worked for the vineyard.  he gave an hour presentation of five different wines including their special select.  to me, this is the best wine in the world.  it’s so complex and every sip is delicious.  i could go on forever.

miner winery:   this was a pop-in tasting and the view was beautiful.  busy shop and the tasting was ok.  great wine and fantastic being there during harvest.  they had a glass wall where you could see the production.

stag’s leap winery:  another one of our favorite wines.  this place was a full on production and quite cool.  it was set up like a restaurant with a hostess stand.  we were a little bit tipsy at this point (the happy, having a ball kind of tipsy) and told everyone we were on our honeymoon and we got some attention.  not that we like attention.  they had barrels set up as tables inside and out.  inside was dark and they poured us some of their great wine.  we got a pretty hard sell to join their wine club but by this time we said “driver – home!”

sunday, august 26th

we were on our own having just checked out of the san fran hotel and we headed up early to napa.

pride vineyard:   got an excellent tip from dave & laura busker, our good friends from NYC about this winery.  WOW, were we happy we went.  ROF did some homework and booked a tour.  this was our first official tour (#2 above, remember).  first of all, the drive up to this vineyard and winery was UNBELIEVABLE.  it was steep and winding and scattered with houses and winerys and huge trees.

once there, it was breathtaking!  

we got paired up with 3 other couples and our tour guide – jake.  we toured the cave which is where good grapes go to turn into wine.   we had samples from stations stationed  throughout the cave.  jake was young, knowledgeable and answered all our questions.  at one point, we drank wine straight from the barrel.  we learned about how much goes into wine – so many variables:

altitude, humidity, what kind of barrel, how old the barrel, when the grapes are picked, where the grapes came from – the mountain, the valley – everything.

the pride family started this vineyard from scratch.  we would highly, highly recommend.  this was a treat!

sterling vineyards:  we pulled into the driveway here and saw the line to get in and kept driving.  drove next door to where there was no one but us!

twomey cellars:  the two words that got us in here were on the sign out front:  in the SILVER OAK family.  quaint tasting room with a friendly man who knew a lot about the wine.  since silver oak only makes only cab, twomey had merlot and pinot that was fantastic.  we schwooshed/smelled/sipped/sampled.  very glad we popped in here and by the time we left, several other people had filed in after us.

schramsberg vineyard:

background:  ROF went here 6 years ago and spoke highly of this tour and of this sparkling wine.  it has an unbelievable story with it’s beginning in 1862!  schramsberg has also played a role in world history. the blanc de blancs was used for President Nixon’s 1972 “Toast to Peace” with China’s premier Zhou Enlai. schramsberg’s sparkling wines have been served at official State functions by every U.S. Presidential administration since. ROF was so excited to show me this place and go on our second tour.

the reality:  our tour guide stunk.  there is no other way to put it.  he was a teacher during the week and gave tours at the winery on sunday.  he talked so much i thought my legs were going to give out underneath me.  he took us into their cave and KEPT US IN THERE FOREVER!!  he poured us 6 or 7 different sparkling wines with his opinion of what went best with each one.  “this one is great with spicy tacos”.  “this one is good with buttery or fatty fish” “this one is good with chips and oreos”.  he repeated himself several times by insisting that champagne is good to drink anytime like after rush hour.  blahblahblahblah!

he drove ROF and i up a wall – or i should say out of the cave!  we finally got out of there by asking if there was a club we could join.  in which he said yes and (got the hint) picked up all of “his” leftover champaign pouring bottles (6 or 7!) and led us to the door.  we paid $90 for this tour and felt it was very unprofessional for such an iconic vineyard and american success story.  we love the product – when you see it  – buy it and drink it.  but we won’t go back there again.

and as it turns out, ROF and i had a better experience the next day – our own story – so it is ok that schramsberg experience stank.

monday, august 27th

oh no…. we’re not done yet.  you may need to go get yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of vino to finish this!

hall vineyard and cellars:  by far, this was our favorite tour of all the places we went.  this was special to us because we’ve had hall wine in dallas at some of our favorite restaurants.  also because the owners of this vineyard live in dallas and he a business owner there.  ROF has friends who have worked closely with him.  their story – craig and kathryn – is fantastic.  i urge you to read their story in the link i provided.

we got to the tasting room a little early and i have to say, i wasn’t too keen on sampling wine at 10:30 in the morning – also after having such a jam packed last two days.  i may have been a little grumpy even but i put on my smiley face and went in.  this was a private tour – just ROF and me and our tour guide, john.  as we found out – john and robert grew up only 5 miles apart from each other in new jersey.

john was the most knowledgable and interesting person we’ve met on this trip.  he said “hope you’re ready to really see it!” and he took us clear into the vineyard itself where we picked different grapes and ate them out in the field.  we saw the bottling process up close and he took us to the huge vats of wine and told us about the process of creating great wine.  this is a boutique vineyard – producing 75,000 cases a year.  he spent a good hour with us walking around the facility.  but then we sat down in the shade and he brought us a cheese and fruit platter and gave us a tasting of 5 of their wines.  we enjoyed talking with him, learning about this unbelievable power couple from our hometown and sipping some great wine.  perfect start to the day.  and of course, after the first sample of wine, i was just back in the saddle again!

we got an awesome surprise towards the end of our time there when john brought out a bottle of wine for us from a business partner and friend of ROF’s – john wilson.  what a treat!  we were thrilled to say the least.

our next appointment wasn’t for a few hours, so we had lunch and drove near a place that our friend dave anderson’s family owned off of sage canyon road and next to chappellet vineyard.  it was a beautiful drive.  ROF told me of great memories he had at this house with dave and some friends.

last, but not least, was opus one.

known to most as simply the best wine there is –  this was $80 for two glasses of wine.  typically, i won’t be so class-less about putting price in here but i had to for this.  FOR TWO GLASSES.  that is like the same as a decent scarf or something!   this didn’t surprise me, because i’m familiar with the wine, but they basically poured you a glass of excellent ’03 vintage or ’08 vintage and you walk around.  it’s just something that you have to do once.  there is also no where else in the world you can get “just a glass” of opus!  you have to buy the whole $200+ bottle.  anyway, it was a stunning, stunning place.  

well that is all for part I:  the wine.  i hope you enjoyed this – but probably not as much as we did going!  have you been to napa valley?  what did you think?

mugging down

1 Aug

i’ve always wanted to collect something.

but could never decide on what.  my sister collected hotel supplies (there’s a story behind that) and shot glasses (so 1980’s).  my aunt is a great collector of various themes.  my mom had dabbled in various interesting artifacts.  i used to gather matches from places we’ve been to but no one hands out matches anymore – i guess so they don’t encourage smoking.  they also take up a lot of room.

well, the wait is over, folks.  i’m collecting city mugs by starbucks.  this DOES NOT MEAN i am a fan of starbucks.  i most certainly am not.  way too mainstream for me.  i am a coffee snob.   however, these mugs have driven me slightly coo-coo obsessive.  ask my friend and sister-in-law, susan and her husband , mike. i dragged them to 3-4 (maybe 5?) starbucks in desperate search of a san antonio city mug.  as it turned out – they were out.  like in the whole city.

i find this fun because i travel a lot and i’m starting to get quite a fun collection of colorful mugs.  this does not mean i won’t accept them from friends/family across the country (hint hint) as susan sent us an awesome indianapolis mug (because someone who shall remain nameless forgot to bring me back one when he was there) and a new york (!!) mug.

they have these all over the world and i’d love to get a paris one – obviously from visiting paris.   oh yeah – these are useable mugs.  ROF and i drink our morning joe from these each day.

snagged at the airport starbucks with a screech of sheer joy

got this yesterday, at the airport, once again. this was way up top, like on display and the lady looked at me like i was nuts asking her to get it down for me.

appreciating: family and keeping it real

9 Jul

“the strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.”  

MARIO PUZO, The Family

there is nothing more loving and more heartbreaking than the dynamics behind families.  and everyone has a story.  no family is without defect.  sure, families love to portray a perfect picture – especially around holidays or weddings but the truth is not one family is perfect.  not one – no matter how many pictures you post on facebook, your not fooling anyone.  the key here is: the goal is not to strive to be perfect.  it is in that striving that a lot of hurt happens.  you never measure up to this leave-it-to-beaver existence and it hurts.  it is only by being vulnerable about your family’s imperfections that you find (maybe) the purpose in which you probably are going through them in the first place.  to help others.  to be able to offer your learnings of getting through a particular situation to someone else going through the same thing.  you can extend words that hit home because you know what it’s like.

it is kind of like death or divorce or cancer.  if you haven’t gone through it, you don’t know.  and (please) don’t pretend you know.  and don’t offer advice.  however, if you have gone through it – your insight is priceless.  it could be one of the reasons we go through what we do.  who knows.

i remember being in my office after hours about 7 years ago.  i thought i was the only one in the office and decided to have a good cry.  my dad was dying of cancer and there was nothing i could do but be with him until the very end.  hold his hand.  tell him jokes.  tell him i will always love him.  i thought i was alone in my office but i wasn’t.  a new girl whom i didn’t know very well was there too.  her name was yareli.  she came in my office and hugged me and told me that she knew what i was going through because her mom had died in a car accident just 3 years earlier.  she didn’t tell me her whole story then and there but the empathy she showed in her action and her words told me that i wasn’t alone, i wasn’t stupid for crying in my office late at night.  i had a friend who knew how to say more than “i’m sorry”.  i will always love my friend for reaching out that night and not just slipping out or writing me an email.

it’s the same with families.  speaking of families, this past week ROF and i got to spend some extra special time with ROF’s sister, susan and his brother-in-law, mike.  susan has written some awesome articles for this blog which you can read here, here and here.  susan and ROF have a wonderful relationship that i know means so very much to both of them.  we had a blast this past week starting with the 4th of july and going until yesterday.  here is a photo diary of the past few days.

breakfast @hypnotic donuts in dallas

4th of july at the blue goose in dallas

4th of july at the blue goose in dallas

headed down to san antonio

dinner the first night – no where else but Rudy’s BBQ!

playing “tumbling tower” (or jenga) at hyatt hill country resort – awesome!

me – goofing off and playing with templates

there is nothing in the world like a loving family.  ROF and i were so thankful to be able to spend time with susan and mike this past week!

live from pagosa

21 Jun

too busy vacationing to write.  here is some eye candy for you:

lunch in durango

the house where we are staying – thank you Beckmans! love it here.

a bit of the view from the inside

lovely durango!

road to the house

bigger picture of the house where we’re staying

best husband/bartender/chef/card player

greetings from colorado

19 Jun

spending some quality time with some very quality folks in beautiful colorado. what an unbelievable blessing it has been to be able to do this two years in a row. i use the word “blessing” and not “lucky” because it ain’t “luck” that got us here to God’s country! we’re staying at some friend’s of ROF’s parent’s house and it is truly unbelievable.

i’ve needed this break for a while. i’ve needed it because i’m truly burnt out. is that PC to say? not too many people admit it when they are burnt out because maybe that is a sign of weakness but i don’t really care. i’m weak right now. so what, i bounce back.

i hate that i have the same goals and objectives for my vacation as i do for “real life”. i feel like i need to be accomplishing something every day. but my mom just said it best: ” i just want to hang out with you guys and have good conversation, play cards and maybe have a glass of wine or two.” just staring at the scenery has transported us. the picture above is one my sister took off the back porch. pretty amazing. here are some more pictures of our trip so far. ROF has made his amazing flank steak (we haven’t eaten meat in months!) and noodles. katie fixed a scrumptious breakfast of poachies this morning.

oh, forgot to tell you a BRILLIANT idea i had. it is based on something we did for a holiday and currently doing. each person has to bring two $25 gift certificates to anything. we then tape them up to a wall. we then play spades, like non-stop, and the winning team gets to pick a certificate – EACH! mom and i won round one and i picked a DSW shoe warehouse card and mom picked a BRAUM’S ice cream card. she orders a “chunky cappuccino chocolate chip in a waffle cone” from there every week and now she can get 16 of them for free thanks to this game. by the way, that was ROF who was thoughtful enough to get that card with her in mind. you woulda thought she’d won the lottery! so the idea is this… i’m going to bring cards back! i’m going to start a monthly thursday night card party at a local restaurant (louie’s side room?) and everyone has to bring XX and we play cards! will keep you posted.

chef dat underground dinner in dallas

10 Jun

last night we finally did an underground chef dat dinner in deep ellum.

i say finally because i had heard about it from several people including suzanne and some friends of the glasses and always wanted to check it out but didn’t have the chance.

until last night.

what an underground dinner is – at least the chef dat way – is you get on an email list and every week there is a dinner – or a couple of dinners – that you can attend by giving your cc number and reserving your space.  space is extremely limited.  you do this without knowing what is going to be on the menu or knowing the location of the dinner.  you kind of know the area, but not exact location.  so if you’re one of of these types that can’t go with the flow -in terms of being a picky eater-  this is not for you.

chef dat is david anthony temple a 28 year old chef who has been doing this for 3 years and has built quite a following.  he has chef dat dinners now in new orleans (where he’s from), hawaii and ft. worth (new).

we went with the st. peter’s – two of the nicest people we know – and a lot of fun!  they own hypnotic donuts in east dallas (dangerously close to our house!)


will we do it again?  heck yes!  great music, drinks, food and company – we had a blast.  chef dat came out before every course and told us what is in it, how and where he got it and how he created it.  local ingredients, unique and creative ideas and delicious.  what a fun night.

how to pack a cooler.

23 May

because ROF is getting ready for his 30th pilgrimage to the indy 500 this weekend, i thought i’d repost an oldie but goodie.  below are pictures of previous trips to indy and i know this one won’t disappoint.

from the desk of ROF:

there are a few things i do well.

one of them is packing for a trip.  i don’t mean clothes – i’m talking the important stuff  – drinks and snacks. 

i enjoy traveling and did a lot of it growing up.  i always had this fascination with coolers.  i can still remember my grandfather’s cooler.  it was an unpolished, aluminum Coleman – the kind that can keep drinks cold for 2 to 3 days.  

i’ve always been into hospitality.  i was 9 years old in 1979 during the gas crisis.  i sold cold drinks and snacks to the hundreds of people lined up outside gas stations to get gas.  used the first generation, igloo playmate cooler (red base, white swivel top with push button on the side) this was my first job and i had that cooler all through college.

for the past 20 years,

i’ve embarked on a guys pilgrimage to indianapolis the last weekend in may for the grand daddy of all motor sports – the indy 500.  now, i’m using this as an example trip because it is the mack daddy trip for packing drinks and snacks.  obviously, if you’re going on a road trip with just you and your wife, dial this back a little bit.  typically between 4 and 8 guys go on this trip and everyone is appointed a task for the trip.  this trip is a well-oiled machine.  here are the tasks:

1. ground transportation

2. non-race activities (such as concerts, parties, parades)

3. music – both sound system and playlist for the weekend

4. dinner reservations

5. drinks and snacks

i’m in charge of #5.  this is no small task.  it’s obviously a huge responsibility and i take it very seriously.

first the beer.

however much we’re bringing we split half in bottles and half in cans (no bottles at the speedway, folks).  our beer of choice: heinken (glass) and coors light and bud light (cans)

now the booze and mixers.

this takes a little bit more research or you have to just know the group you’re with.  the last few years, when my friend tod eason is with us, we go through an unbelievable amount of petron orange label tequila.  however, a staple of the weekend is vodka.  usually we bring two brands: one top shelf for martinis and tonics and a mid-level brand that goes into gallons of bloody marys and screwdrivers.  i always toss in a handle or two of single malt scotch as well as a handle of boubon.

condiments, garnish and snacks.

essential garnish are: limes, olives, pepperoncini peppers, black pepper, tobasco sauce, worchester sauce, zing zang brand bloody mary mix, tonic, soda, coke, diet coke, orange juice and red bull.  then of course you need styrofoam cups, bev naps, stirrers and a martini shaker.

as far as snacks are concerned, an indy staple has been the sunshine brand of cheez-its (the non reduced fat variety), extra large jar of mixed nuts, double stuff oreos and  pre-made rice krispy treats.

how to pack a cooler – some tips and suggestions

just like getting ready for a road trip – you think about what you’re going to pack, what route are you going to take, all that jazz- to me, what is just as important is what refreshments are going to be brought and how they’re brought.

first, the list.  it’s very important to write down everything that is needed so nothing gets left behind. don’t make assumptions.  use this list to call your friends, ask questions and cross things off.

next, do the math.  take how many people you are traveling with x how many days and then divide by .5 and round up and that is how many beers to bring.  or about a case a person a day.  let me put it this way, we don’t run out.

packing for the road:  put a thin layer of ice at the bottom of the cooler.  then a couple layers of bottles or cans.  more ice.  repeat the layer of cans.  when you get to the top, put a thin layer of ice then lay the cut up fruit, garnish and other snacks that need refrigeration.

pre-cut your limes and garnish: don’t mess with packing knifes and worrying about getting one.  do all the work in advance

pack a small cooler on road trips to keep close with ice tea and diet coke and snacks.  don’t try and go digging in your professionally packed cooler in the trunk while on the road.

now, you don’t have to be going to indy with a bunch of your friends to apply these tips and suggestions.  it is the same if you’re giving parties at your house.  planning is key.



dreaming of friday, on a tuesday.

15 May

one of my favorite things to do, ever

is stay home on a friday night with ROF.  it’s my blog and i can go on and on about my awesome husband if i want.

you see, i didn’t get married until i was 40 years old.  and i don’t regret it one bit at all.

in fact, it was well worth the waiting.  in my 20’s and 30’s, i saw a lot of my friends get married and i’m not going to lie, it was hard.  but i reminded myself to never settle.  i would rather have the mindset to not settle than to “follow the safe and typical road”.  there is nothing like finding the love of your life and your best friend.  sigh.  now, i have the best of both worlds – a fantastic career and an even more fantastic husband.

so back to friday nights…

i read somewhere smart to have an indoor couples activity and an outdoor couples activity.  something that you and your SPOUSE (isn’t that the worst word? ) can do together.  our indoor activity is GIN.  no, not the kind you drink, the kind you play.  we’ve been playing since almost the day we met.  we have a notebook where we keep the score (YES, YOU ARE WINNING, ROF) and we also write down little tidbits of info so we remember what we were doing that day.  we play all the time.  we played with our nephews michael and bill when they were in town.  my mom and dad were gin players big time.  they played right up until my mom gave birth to me – she was winning, she always adds.

when ROF and i were dating, he invited my mom over for a classic ROF steak dinner.  we decided to play gin.  mom was helping ROF by standing behind him because he was very new at the game.  at that point we weren’t even keeping score.  so i asked my mom “how do you keep score?”  and she said “i don’t know”.  which i knew at the time to be a bold face lie.  my mom plays cards (bridge) semi-professionally and was the reining gin queen.  but she’s also not prone to lying.  when i asked her about it, she said “honey, he didn’t even know how to hold the cards in his hands correctly, i wasn’t going to go into how to score.” we laugh about that now because ROF is kicking my butt in our on-going gin game we’ve been playing for over a year.

so … friday nights  – my favorite ones – are filled with ROF, gin rummy, a special dinner and good music.  this past friday, ROF made a special grilled shrimp with a dry rub and then BBQ sauce – which was out of this world!  add to that some grilled sweet potatoes with a honey lime glaze. scrumps!   we enjoyed skinny margaritas, good talks and of course some tunes.

all about ellie

21 Apr

“eating healthy” can be delicious and good for you. 

duh.   everyone stumbles on to things at their own speed, right?  well, it has taken me a while to get to this point.

ROF and i are going to a nutritionist for a little over 2 months and have really been watching what we eat.  no, i don’t mean that we’re just looking at what we’re eating – we’re making better choices.  it’s odd because i’ve actually been cooking more.

my latest favorite is ellie krieger.  honestly, i wasn’t a big fan of her food network show and for no good reason – actually really like them now – but probably because i’ve been overly obsessed with ina garten for way too long.

i digress.  back to ellie.

i bought her cookbook and have made a 1/2 dozen recipes and they are over-the-top delicious!

from her website:

A registered dietitian, Ellie has a master’s degree in nutrition from Teacher’s College, Columbia University and completed her undergraduate degree at Cornell University. Ellie was an adjunct professor at New York University in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health. In her years in private practice, she counseled a variety of clients, from homemakers and CEOs to notable celebrities.

Getting married later in life and not having any kids, it is so cool when i actually cook something that ROF raves about and i cook one of her dishes that he REQUESTS (!) on a regular basis.  the baked shrimp with tomatoes & feta.

it only has 293 calories for a cup and 1/2 serving.  it is so flavorful and delicious.  get the recipe here.  i’ve also made…  this is so so good.  one weekend i made it twice in a row.  get that recipe here.

well, i’m off to the “accessible luxury” event for texas scottish rite hospital for children.  am looking forward to it!

happy saturday!

last day of travels – santa fe

16 Apr

yesterday we rolled into santa fe, new mexico. ROF had been here several times (like 8) but it was my first time. he kept saying how much he knew i’d like this place and he was right. he gave me a driving tour of the downtown area and then we stopped at a wonderful restaurant called:


there were many of reasons to love this upscale eatery: the white walls and small rooms, the awesome bar and the great service. but i loved the two ladies sitting next to us who were in their 80’s dishing up the local gossip. they cracked us up.

we had asparagus soup, chicken salad and tiger prawns. great way to start our trip.

we then headed over to the famed canyon road – a couple of miles of of art galleries. #2 in art sales behind new york. these places were fabulous and we spent the afternoon checking out the art. not only was the art work great, but the old houses that the galleries were in were unbelievable.

i really liked a piece by billy schenck. an american painter who incorporates techniques from photo-realism with a pop art sensibility that both exalts and pokes fun at images of the west. he was andy warhol’s assistant. this is the piece on display that i could see hanging in my home office.

we walked around the plaza and window-shopped. it was freaking freezing out! we went to the coyote cantina and sat outside and it started to hail, i kid you not.

dinner that night was absolutely outstanding. ROF and i have been making superior healthy food choices as of the last month and a half. tonight we slightly splurged but not really as we shared. honestly, one of the best dinners we’ve ever had:

coyote cafe

walking home to our hotel, the sky was an azure color and so beautiful.

speaking of our hotel – since we stayed only one night, we mailed it in and stayed at the hilton on the square. but as it turns out, we did not mail it in – it was….SWEET! 400 years old and rooms completely modernized with fresh art – it was a perfect choice!

this morning found us at pasquel’s at 8am opening time for an award winning breakfast and coffee.

now we are back on the road headed to big d. only an 10 hour drive.

luckily, ROF and i love to drive together so i’m looking forward to the day.

ne’er had i found on earth

15 Apr

Ne’er had I found on earth a spot that had such power to please,

Such shadows from the summer sun, such odors on the breeze;
I threw my mantle on the ground, that I might rest at ease,
And stretched upon the greensward lay in the shadow of the trees.
There soft reclining in the shade, all cares beside me flung,
I heard the soft and mellow notes that through the woodland rung;
Ear never listened to a strain, for instrument or tongue,
So mellow and harmonious as the songs above me sung.
from the praise of spring by gonzalo de berceo 1180-1246
–Translated by H. W. Longfellow

there is something magical about new mexico.

the smell of pinon wood burning, the cool breeze, the sense that the grounds have been appreciated by many many people and animals. ROF and i took a great walk this morning – a 2.6 mile trail down to the Rio Grande river and around and back. it was windy and chilly but beautiful. there were signs that said to beware of wildlife like wild cats. i do not appreciate that because i’m instantly scared but ROF’s ever-loving laughter at my fraidy cat tendancies calm me somehow and i march on with confidence.
we were treated to a dance by the indigenous people outside our balcony. we sipped on green tea while ROF joined in the fun:
and then we had an excellent dinner on site at the corn maiden restaurant. it looked so quiet and peaceful outside, inside it was alive and had a great bar and a bunch of different rooms with a view of that beautiful mountain behind us.

hope you have a great sunday! XXOO

appreciating: minnesota, soup & ROF

18 Jan

so i’ve been struggling lately on what to write about.

first i thought about: soupmoderately obsessed with soup right now.  but nah.  i can do better than soup.

then my mind shifted on where i am right now.  i’ve spent the past week in minnesota.  and, boy, this is beautiful country.  my home base was in minneapolis and then drove down to austin, mn south of minny for a meeting then had a minny meeting this morning then headed 3 hours north (i think i’m close to the north pole right now) to duluth, mn.  it is just about as cold as it can get right now.  i know i’m being dramatic but not really.  i’m traveling with beth and i said to her “boy, i bet there is A-LOT of drinking being done up here in deez parts.” and she said that this county has the highest dui arrests in the state.  can you blame them?  it’s cold!

here are some pics i shot today at a quaint italian restaurant in edina, mn (awesome lil city!) we went to for lunch and then some other shots i took.


this friendly guy (a bit stiff!) welcomed us to the restaurant

so now i’m warm and toasty in my bed in duluth with it snowing outside.  unfortunately, there are a couple of very intoxicated girls in the room next to mine (why not? it’s wednesday!) whom seem to have had a little bit of a falling out.  pressing my ear against the door is not beneath me but i couldn’t get the jist of the tears to be able to share.  now they have left.

but what i really wanted to talk about

was how much i appreciate my husband, ROF i’ve told two people today about how he drives me to the airport and picks me up.  when i tell him “thank you” it doesn’t quite capture how cool i think he is for doing that.  we also have an unspoken rule that we don’t text, answer the phone or do anything but talk with each other.  in the past 2.5 years, i’ve driven to the airport exactly one time.  it doesn’t matter what time it is – early early morning, late at night.  it makes me feel so loved and special.  i’m not typically on the road this much (4 days a week the past two weeks) but seeing him pull up at the airport makes butterflies fly in my stomach.  that’s a good thing, by the way.  sometimes he had even gone to the quik trip and got us drinks of diet dr pepper.  i’ll tell you what… God sure answered my prayers when it came to sending me a great husband.  it is this time in being away (cold duluth hotel room, loud, drunk girls next door) that i get teary eyed thinking of how very blessed i am. 

most unbelievable week in review

23 Dec

boy, i’m a very loved person! 

what an incredible week i’ve had to say the least.  if it seems like i’m bragging a little bit, i am.  full force bragging. 

the week started on monday, like most weeks do, but this was not an ordinary monday.  first off, it was raining like the dickens.  not a gentle pour, mind you – the kind of rain where every last leaf fell off the trees and there was a river flowing down our street.  typically, my birthday week includes some sort of girls get together with friends and family from everywhere.  but i didn’t have that going on this year.  why?  maybe i’d grown out of organizing big parties for myself?  nah.  i knew ROF had a lot of tricks up his sleeves so i just didn’t do it.

have no fear – suzanne is here

thanks to suzanne, she put together a small get-together with friends megen, jamie, katie and the 5 of us dashed through the storm to jamie’s new house.  which is an unbelievably beautiful house – and oh so close to mine!  we had crock pot meatballs, cheese, crackers and vino galore.  got some good loot too – a great wine glass, book i’ve been eyeing and an awesome necklace that i had pinned on pinterest.  lucky girl!


and that was only monday

flash to wednesday and this was my first day off of work until jan 3rd.  what complete bliss.  but of course i worked, but it just doesn’t seem like work when you’re laying on your stomach on your bed peddling away on the laptop.  that night…ROF surprised me by taking me out for a pre-birthday dinner at the petroleum club in downtown dallas.  just so you know where this place is… it is on the 40th floor of the building with the big hole in it – chase tower.  this is a private club – you don’t even pay, dahling…you just sign for it.  it’s been around since 1934 primarily for oil men (cue the music from the dallas tv show)  ROF’s friend is a member and this was the second time we went there – the first being the night we got engaged.  here are some pics I snapped.

our table was snug right up against the window and the view amazing.  ROF started with a salad, me with my favorite – escargot !  then i had boston scrod in a lobster sauce and goat cheese polenta, side of lobster mac & cheese and mushrooms.  ROF had lamb and side of sauteed spinach and asparagus.  truly, we were spoiled!  and an excellent bottle of vino as well.  after that we went from high atop dallas to our favorite local dive – louie’s on henderson.  just for a nightcap cuz that’s how we roll.

thursday was the actual birthday of me and the festivities started while i was still in the pjs.  ROF gave me a beautiful new purse  and the new cartier perfume.  spoiled.  rotten.  and loving it.

and i got some fabulous cards (thank you prendevilles & karen!!)  and facebook messages (isn’t that fun?) but then ROF took us both to get deluxe manicures and pedicures at my fave salon down the street.  it was PACKED solid in there.  these little twerps, i mean, adorable kids kept saying:  “MOM WHAT IS A BOY DOING IN HERE?!” which made us giggle.  some people need to realize that not everyone thinks their kids are as cute as they think they are.  geez.  i did snap a pic of ROF with his hands all wrapped up in towels but thought i’d have to run for cover if i posted it.

then we headed over to henderson to go to the porch for lunch.  we love that place.  it is like someone opened up their house to a whole bunch of people for lunch.  we sat at the bar and had a lot of fun together.  we love to laugh and talk.  he’s the best.

then i took a nap.

but the real fun was just going to be underway.  mom and katie came over and we did our christmas with them since we wouldn’t see them on the 25th.  as a surprise, ROF ordered steak and all the fixings from a very awesome steak place in dayton, ohio.  it was a place mom & dad went to a lot in 1967 and 1968 before they had any kids.  imagine the look on mom’s face!  plus the steak was absolutely outstanding.  but wait…back up… first katie’s job was to bring an hor d’oerve.  and she made this from barefoot contessa.

this would be puff pastry with guyere cheese and pepper salami.  seems too heavy but it is not.  it was heavenly.  we had that with an apple martini to start the evening.

and we had steak, noodles with green onion, salad with pine club dressing.

and then as a special surprise to me…  german chocolate cake with amaretto frosting… best cake i’ve ever had….

lastly, was fooling around with a new app and took some pics of the house:

thanks for letting me brag on my most fabulous week this year!!  thank you ROF !  and mom, katie, suzanne, jamie – everyone.

Happy Holiday!!  XXOO

the best home offices…for me

16 Dec

if there was one luxury i’d want in a house it would be my own office. 

it is most important that ROF have his own office for all his boy stuff because let’s be honest here girls, the rest of the house is pretty much my playground for creative experimentation.

but ever since i can remember, i’ve loved my own little creative corner.  a place where i can hang up inspiring things, post them to a board and just be surrounded by things that get my mind going – quotes, color, design and just, me.  i read a great book by one of my favorite people luci swindoll called “i married adventure”.   

this is a book i would highly recommend.  luci is the most fascinating person to me.  she never got married but not because she didn’t like men or love but because she was such an incredible free spirit.  she sang in the dallas opera and traveled the world with them, she was a high powered executive at mobile oil a long time ago before it was even cool for women to be in high powered positions.  i love this book because she spills all her best ideas and finds.  for the purpose of today’s post, i bring her up because in her home, she transformed a walk-in closet to an office where she lined it with boards to pin articles and pictures that inspired her.  she collected things from her travels that she kept there.  one thing she did was send herself post cards from all her travels and she got them when she arrived home.  sometimes she would even have strangers write a note to her on a postcard (like a bus driver, or cafe barista) that she would then send home and post in this office.  i love that.  it’s like an adult playhouse!

i gathered from houzz.com some of these great office spaces i found. click on the image to make them bigger.

and then these you can see details on my pinterest board located here.  let me know if you need an invite to pinterest.

and then, of course, who doesn’t love office supplies.

these are also on my pinterest board, link above

vintage goods above c/o etsy, also on my pinterest board.

what would your dream room be?  (other than a pantry you could step into and shove food in your mouth and none of it would count!)

slumming it at the mansion

11 Dec

this time of year with all the parties is so much fun –

friends, work, family and i love it all. it’s fun to get cleaned up and be wined and dined and i got to do this last thursday. ROF and i were invited to the duke party at the beautiful mansion on turtle creek.

this was a party that ROF told me was one that couldn’t be missed- not only because it was in this historic, beautiful hotel but because the people were the best. and he was right. what a treat…

the party started with cocktails and hor d’oerves, which most do, and after everyone took their seats, i noticed a sweet little blue box at all the ladies places that was oh so recognizable…

everything was twinkly and gorgeous sounding

with a set of people playing the strings in the corner. the evening started with lovely jeff turner welcoming everyone. he had his guitar and everyone sang a couple of stanzas of ‘silent night’ together. it is always awkward … singing together in a place that isn’t church or at least there is another loud instrument (like an organ) to drown you out. people are let into the fact that you are clearly mouthing it or mispronouncing words (i tend to always say “wild” instead of “mild” in silent night) but nonetheless it started out the evening with a sense of comaraderie and i loved how it made me feel – all warm and fuzzy.

dinner was outstanding: famous tortilla soup (this was where it all started with mr. dean fearing) followed by salad, lobster and filet and desert. the merlot was flowing as well. i snapped some pics as i floated around in the fairy tale land that is the mansion. we ended up floating by the bar which – i have to say – is way cool. ROF and i decided we are definitely going back there. dark and black and white with little rooms and a live band…everything a good evening should have.

view from my plate

front lobby and restaurant

ROF and good friend tim

new friends at our table

looking down from the top floor

entrance to the bar

week in review

22 Oct

what a fantastic week i’ve had

and how great that i have this blog to remember it.  today we launched the first of 27 chevy sonic adventures across the country.  this is a partnership between agency 720, SCVNGR and chevy.  this week – who am i kidding – this whole month has been completely surrounded with prep for what is coming over the next 7 weeks.

Michael Hagen and Sonya - the SCVNGR team

ROF, someone i appreciate a ton, made a full on fancy dinner thursday night before i left for the weekend.  steak, baked potato, brussel sprouts & some awesome jeni’s ice cream that our friends suzanne & bryan gave us a while ago.  we had a medley of buttercup pumpkin and amaretto cookies, black coffee and salty caramel ice cream.

saturday: week in review

10 Sep


this week was awesome.  i’m so appreciative of so many things.  it was labor day weekend and we had monday off and lots of stuff going on.  good friends, parties, birthdays (D turned 40!), seeing friends haven’t seen in a while.  but then it was back to work.

thankfully, i love my job (for real) and this week it took me to beautiful savannah, georgia.  although i did fly in a little early, i worked in my hotel room until dinner and then i got to walk the streets of this beautiful town. the chevy dealers and i got to talk social media the next morning (which is one of my favorite subjects!) this was the second time i got to spend time with them.  super nice.

lastly, ROF had to get his monthly injection in his left eye on friday morning.  seriously, is that not the WORST place ever to get a shot?  i needed to drive him home because he can’t see after that and is in a lot of pain.  thankfully we love his doctor who gave us the good news that there is no bleeding or fluid in his good eye and he can wait 6 weeks instead of 4 for another shot.  we decided that after each shot, once he rested, we’d go to our favorite restaurant, cane russo for dinner.  something to look forward.  so very very good.

here are some pics:

this was the best dinner i had in savannah ever!!

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