Brent & Brian's 30th

Monday

The twins celebrated their 30th Birthday at Sam's Town Casino in Shreveport Louisiana.
Only about a 3-4 hour drive from Dallas, we along with several other friends and family members arrived in Louisiana on Saturday October 22nd ready to honour the twins and usher them into their 30's.

A week prior to their birthday, I took it upon myself to create a memorable birthday cake for them. Being a special birthday, it was important to me that they should each have their own cake and what with the gambling theme to their birthday... I embarked on a lofty aspiration.

Starting with four layers of chocolate cake, stacked upon one another, then cut into 6x6(ish) cubes... I initially attempted my first fondant covering but soon learned that fondant is a royal bitch to roll out. 

 Plan 'B'
Leaving a layer of fondant on top of the cakes for weight and smoothness,
the progressive, daily icing of the cakes began...
Day after day, a layer of icing followed by refrigeration.... 
Despite more icing, more refrigeration, extreme drowsiness secondary to repetitive sugar exposure and being called "Cake Bossy" by Mr. Something, I did not waver from my goal...
Making progress....
Almost done...the dots were cut from pre-made, edible sheets of fondant picked up at Hobby Lobby.

After a two-hundred mile drive to Shreveport in the back seat of a Toyota....
The final result. 
Yes, one 'die' needed more help than I could give it but if you really used your imagination, it could very well have been on a 'roll'.

Mindfulness Monday: Exercise #4

I can safely say that last week's exercise to refrain from using "filler' words like um, er, ah, y'know and eh was a bust. I have no idea if I used filler words or not. Reverting to my old, familiar mindless ways, my energy was totally focused on birthday-cake decorating for my twin step-son's 30th. More on that, in a later post.

New week, new exercise. Appreciate Your Hands. According to How to Train a Wild Elephant, "Several times a day, when your hands are busy, watch them as though they belong to a stranger. Also look at them when they are still."
As in the case of all of these exercises, there are deeper lessons that the mindful practice teaches us. I'm looking forward to what I learn from this one...

An Open Letter to George Clooney

Thursday

Dear Mr Clooney George, 
        First of all ,my good friend Kathy and I would like to thank you for continuing to make movies. Although I am not even close to being an expert, we've seen most all of your films and count ourselves as two of the three people who paid for a ticket and saw 'The American'. Granted, the reviews weren't all that great but hey, you looked good and isn't that what it's all about? Seriously though, you were looking pretty rough in 'Syriana' but we got it and were transfixed in our seats (hope your back is better). 'Burn After Reading'? Different, yes. Entertaining? You bet. By the way, your comment about being "The AARP's Sexiest Man Still Alive" recently was priceless.

      Anyway, by now now you must be wondering why I'm writing to you. 

      This week we saw "The Ides of March". Loved it. Our question is...was Stephen about to "blow the whistle" or was it going to be just another interview? Of course, with all the background rhetoric about integrity etc. I think he was going to spill his guts. Or was his blank stare reflective of his numbness to all things political? We saw that you were one of the films screenwriters so we are going to the source and would love to hear from you, of course.
     
      Between boating in the Mediterranean, attending black tie events (gotta say, we love ya in black tie), supporting humanitarian causes, screenwriting, directing, acting and dating we, as two AARP members in good standing, would appreciate your reply.

Sincerely, Joan & Kathy

PS: I thought you might get a kick out the picture my husband snapped of (a somewhat detached) you and I at dinner together in Madame Tussaud's in London....
      

Finding Your Soul in Dallas: Lakewood

Wednesday

Ahhh, Lakewood.

How to Get There...
Start at Mockingbird and Central Expressway.
Head east on Mockingbird (you'll pass Greenville and Skillman).
Turn right onto Abrams. Carry on for about 3-4 miles.
When you get to Gaston Ave, you're there.
Drive past Gaston and turn right on to LaVista . Park anywhere.

You're in the heart of Lakewood and I'll bet you like it here. 
Stately trees, older homes, apartment buildings and businesses keeping the Art Deco vibe alive.

Circa 1938, this movie theater now hosts live shows as well. 
The Lakewood continues the Rocky Horror Picture Show tradition by screenings monthly at midnight.

Located beside The Lakewood Theater, Matt's Rancho Martinez boasts a very cool patio. 

Never a cover charge for live music every night in this venue between Matt's and The Lakewood Theater. Dark, low-key, un-fussy, relaxed environment.
I refer to The Balcony Club as  "Dallas' best place to begin an affair".
Why? It's so dark in here, no one would ever know.

Let the truth be known...The Dixie House which was held in such high regard for its great southern home cooking is 'The Black-Eyed Pea' in disguise. Not that there is anything wrong with that but be advised. Was The Dixie House the first BEP or was it bought out by The BEP people? I don't know but you've gotta love their rolls and cornbread.
Across Gaston (from The Dixie House) this little breakfast place has two menus.
One for food, the other for Legal Services. 
The owner is an attorney.


Mindfulness Monday: Exercise #3

Monday

Last week in my effort to become more mindful, I embarked on Exercise # 2 from Jan Chozen Bays book, How to Train a Wild Elephant. My mission to "Leave No Trace" in our bathroom (post-glamorization) was very successful. Did Mr. Something notice? I think not. But none-the-less, it was I who benefitted (?) most. The bathroom stayed tidy and it didn't take but a few seconds out of my day to keep it that way. In fact, the practice continued to other rooms of the house. Win-win.

I think I need more outside activities

This week's exercise is to become aware of the use of "filler" words like ah, uh, you-know, like, um and eh. I have come by "eh" quite honestly though as the Canadian in me just won't let it go, eh? I don't think I use these words a whole lot, but this week I will take the advice offered in the book and enlist the help of family and friends in helping me identify their use.

Mindfulness Monday: Exercise #2

In an effort to become more 'mindful' of each day, I have embarked on a series of weekly exercises derived from the book, "How To Train a Wild Elephant" by Jan Chozen.- Last week's exercise was to use my non-dominant hand to complete basic daily tasks - Mindfulness Monday: Exercise #1.


Exercise #1 - Use your non-dominant hand. 

Brushing my teeth, playing Angry Birds and blogging were time consuming and frustrating while using my left (non-dominant) hand but do-able. The exercise made me much more aware and strengthened my appreciation for my health and well-being.

It was in make-up application, hair styling and dressing that I reverted back to my right-handed ways for fear of channeling Tammy Faye...
Exercise #2 - Leave No Trace: Choose one room in your house and leave no sign that you've been there.

I'll choose the bathroom.
After I'm done trying not to look like Tammy Faye, the sink and counter are so cluttered with several different hairbrushes, a blow dryer, curling iron, hair products, contact lens stuff,  make up and various skin care products that Mr. Something has been known to (ahem) take issue with the lack of space available to him.
If anything, I'm thinking this exercise will at least promote bathroom harmony.

Weight Loss Wednesday: Week Fourteen

Wednesday

Has it been fourteen weeks since I started my most recent weight-loss journey?

It all started on July 6th, 2011 when my original goal was to lose 20 lbs by now. My total weight loss to date = 4 lbs. That's 0.28 pounds/week. I guess I really can't complain though...I could have gained 4 lbs if I hadn't been blogging about it. There is something to be said about being accountable.

While on the subject of accountability....this seems like as good a time as any to confess my recent obsession...
Cupcakes. Is it self-sabotage or just the lure of 'pretty' that draws me in?

My cupcake obsession started a couple of weeks ago while at the mall where I just happened to notice a new Cupcake Shop. Cute pastel-colored cupcake shops are springing up all over Dallas these days. I must say that the aroma of sugar, butter and vanilla really are intoxicatingly tantalizing for an addict such as I.

Needless to say, my 'inner child' came rushing out and before she knew it I was all over a Vanilla Sugar Cupcake like a monkey. It was fantastic.

My obsession began.

As there was no way in hell that I could justify making two cupcakes for 'Mr Something' and I, my justification for baking twenty-four cupcakes was on the auspice of "taking them to the neighbour's kids". There are exactly four kids on my street that I know personally. That would make five cupcakes per kid, right? But first I and 'Mr Something' would have to sample one (or two) just to be certain that they tasted good enough to give away...long story short - each kid ended up getting 3 cupcakes.

So what did I do with the other cupcakes? I feel confident they can be found in equal measure on each of my thighs.

Mindfulness Monday: Exercise #1

Tuesday


As life continues to progress at startling speed, I reflect on this past year and I am struck. With awe.

As of January 2011... my brother-in-law was diagnosed with brain cancer, moved in with us and died in our arms. My step-son married. Now, he and his bride are expecting their first child. My husband is retiring from his 35 years as a firefighter. My eldest step-son became a Police Officer. Our Aunt "Sissy" suffered a stroke (she's OK now).

If it weren't for life altering, big-deal moments in life, I question whether or not I have yet learned to stop, breathe and experience life. My tendency has been to go on 'auto-pilot' until I receive a proverbial slap-in-the-face. I have been on 'auto-pilot' for several months now and I don't like it. It interferes with my creativity.

I'm back now.

Listening to NPR on my way to work one Sunday Morning, I learned of a book that had my name written all over it..."How to Train A Wild Elephant and Other Adventures In Mindfulness" by Jan Chozen Bays. The gist of the book surrounds training yourself to learn "simple daily mindfulness practices for living life more fully and joyfully"

Bear with me as I share some of 'mindfulness' practices with you. Maybe you will become more 'mindful' along with me.
.
This week, my mission will be to use my non-dominant hand as much as possible. I am to place a band-aid on my dominant hand as a reminder...I'll let you know how it works for me...

Paranoid in South America

Anticipating travel to South America was both exciting and scary. Admittedly, reports of muggings, kidnappings and police corruption go...