Sorry I've been so absent: between moving for James' new job and our holiday trip to Florida and back, I haven't had much free time. But now I have some time to catch up on a bunch of stuff, my blog included. Books, Cooks and Adventures: I have a book review, some cooking reviews and a LOT of adventures!
Let's start with adventures, and there are quite a few. Our trip to Florida for Christmas was definitely an adventure. We spent four days driving out there, the trunk full of luggage and the backseat full of puppies. Day one took us from San Diego to Las Cruces, NM. It's a long day (an 11 hour drive) and we got a late start, which put us getting in to Las Cruces at 1 am. We stopped for dinner in Tucson, AZ at the Texas Roadhouse, one of James' favourite restaurants. James found it when he lived in Waco and it has really, really good food. It was great to get a good steak and see the humiliation they put birthdays through. We stayed at the Drury Inns in Las Cruces. Getting in at 1 wasn't exactly fun, but the worst part was that our room had NO sound insulation at all. We could hear everyone walking by in the hallway, and so could the pups. Which meant that they were barking all night long at every little noise. We ended up getting the room 100% comped because neither of us could sleep at all.
Day two was the drive to Beeville, TX. It's about 120 miles south of San Antonio, and James' friend John lives on a ranch out there and let us stay with him for the night. This was probably the most boring day of the drive, as there was almost nothing to see. Unfortunately we didn't get to do much that day since we had about 4 hours of sleep and two long days of driving.
Day three however started with a trip up to San Antonio to see the Alamo! We had a great time. I know almost nothing about Texas history, so I spent most of our time there trying to figure out why the Alamo is so important. It was interesting, even though my image of Davy Crockett was shattered by an exhibit displaying his embroidered and beaded vest; seems he was quite the dandy. We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe on the Riverwalk. If you're ever in San Antonio, I recommend taking some time to spend along the Riverwalk. It is truly beautiful and walking to and from the restaurant was my favourite part of the day. After lunch we headed to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where friends of ours had graciously offered to let us stay at their house.
Day four was another late start. We got up early enough, but we drove the extra hour back to New Orleans and explored for just a few hours. We stopped at Cafe Du Monde for beignets (yum) and then tried to find a lunch place. It's amazing that in a city renowned for its cuisine we managed to find the worst restaurant, but we did. After waiting about 20 minutes for someone to take our drink orders, we finally got drinks served in little tiny 4 oz glasses (water I understand, James' soda, not so much). After we gave our waiter our order, which took another ten minutes for someone to take, we saw him storm out of the kitchen and out the door. Turns out he got fired for some backtalk to another customer. After speaking to the maitre'd multiple times (we asked to speak to the manager, but the request was not granted) we finally got our food out. Only to find that the shrimp had NOT been deveined, nor properly shelled. We called the maitre'd over again and he had to go back to the kitchen to give us a reason for it. The reason? It sometimes happens when shrimp are fresh. Now, I know I'm from California, but we have seafood too. Besides, we know a restaurant owner who buys his shrimp fresh off the boats, and I have NEVER found a shell or shite in his shrimp dishes. We ended up fighting to get our meal free (since I couldn't eat more than 5 bites due to the lack of deveining) and leaving in a horrible mood, stopping at Wendy's for lunch. I do not recommend eating at Montrel's in New Orleans.
Then it was our time in Florida. We went to plenty of restaurants and spent a few days baking our Christmas presents. Gingerbread cookies, chewy oatmeal chocolate chips, palmiers, shortbread, chocolate-dipped ritz peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate dipped pretzels in multiple designs. Our days of baking were quite fun, and our cookies were a hit with the family members. Jimmy in particular could not stop eating them...while they were cooling. As far as the restaurants go, I was obsessed with seafood soup! Gracie Rae's, by the Shrimp Boat, had a delicious etoufee; the only one I liked on the trip in fact. The Captain's Table had fried gumbo pieces and a great she-crab soup that was to die for. A new cafe-like chain place called Newk's (sadly not in California...yet) had the best soup: the ultimate crab soup. We went here because the sandwich shop James wanted to take me to was closed, and we fell in love with their soups. The crab was the best, but the chicken-tortilla was good (though it needed cheese) and the lobster-crab bisque was decent, though nowhere near the crab soup. As usual, we stopped by J. Michael's on our way out of town and I finally strayed from my normal order of gumbo. I of course got a cup of gumbo on the side, since I can't leave Panama City without eating Michael's gumbo. As usual, it was delicious. I also got the Shrimp J Michael, which Beth normally orders. Mmmmmmm. Delicious with Michael's special sauce that has a bit of a curry tang in it. So good. On our way back we didn't hit any particularly great restaurants, but nothing too bad either. We stopped at a Cracker Barrel before we crossed the state line into California (seriously?! we NEED to get some of these places) and enjoyed a delicious, late night meal before a much more satisfying night's sleep at the La Quinta in Las Cruces.
As far as the move goes, it's been a bit tough, but I've been ploughing through it steadily. I've also been sending in applications everywhere and starting to do some more crafting. I finally finished by needlepoint glasses case by stitch and zip, made a failed attempt at a friendship bracelet (figured out what I did wrong), crafted a pretty awesome necklace for a friend's birthday from home depot supplies, began re-knitting the shawl I want (since my knitting lived behind the kennel in the condo, it tasted like bitter yuck) and am working on some shower curtain ring bracelets. I have to say, I love crafting, and think I might add that to the blog. But until then, keep cooking up something new for me because I'm living off of microwave meals and mac'n'cheese. :)