Good Old Friends and Complete Silliness

What happens when you put a family of five into an SUV for thirty hours of nearly straight-through driving to visit their old friends and attend the Rose Bowl? They have fun. We helped our old friends get their wiggles out by putting them through our Tourist Treatment, specially constructed for Hoosiers.

You get some terribly centered selfies…

Some Christmas Card worthy photos…

 

A whole LOT of drinking…

 

And pics that were as much fun to see and share as the whole day.

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Seven years ago we were all canoeing on Sugar Creek in central Indiana:

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And this is the ridiculousness into which we have degraded:

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“Look, Mrs. J! I bet she’s not wearing any undies!”

 

 

 

 

On “CBS Sunday Morning,” Friends, and Coincidence

At a gathering recently, a friend and I referred to the same news clip that we each had seen on TV. It seems that another family looks forward to the same news program that The Husband and I have been watching for a couple of decades.

CBS Sunday Morning has been a great way to pass an early Sunday morning. The stories and news clips are great viewing for kids of all ages and we always discover something new. A few weeks ago, we learned about a therapy program designed to help patients with Parkinson’s Disease.

Quite surprisingly, it turned out that my friend is also interested in this program. We took the hint that Coincidence was throwing our way and promised that the very next morning we would drive out together to one of the local boxing and fitness facilities to start asking our questions… I’m glad I have a friend who gave me the push I needed to send off an email and ask about helping out. Hopefully, I will hear back from our Rock Steady Boxing coaches and there will be volunteer positions open.

Watch the above video and ask yourself this: where can I volunteer my time, offer my talents, or donate my treasure? Do you feel called to help out somewhere or with someone? There are so many ways to help everywhere, you just have to get out there and ask. Maybe look for Coincidence?

SoNo Fest- Chili Tasting Meets School Fundraiser

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A lot of people trying a lot of chili… and will be sleeping with the windows open tonight, said one of our friends, ha.

And the Genius Award in the category of Fundraising goes to (drumroll)… The Originators of The SoNo Fest and Chili Cook Off Fundraiser for McKinley Elementary School in San Diego.

The South Park/North Park community has a gold mine here. You buy your little sampler pottery bowl for $20 and get to taste five chilis. Want more? Buy another five sample pass for $15 and reuse your bowl. Bring your bowls back from the previous year, too, if you like.

All of the tax deductible proceeds from this event go to benefit the Spanish, art, and music programs at McKinley Elementary… to the tune of over $50K last year.

IMG_9555I realized really quickly that the best strategy for tasting the best chili is the most simple- when my bowl is empty, I try the chili from the nearest booth. It is that simple- they are all are delicious!! One of my favorites was the Duck Confit, Lardon, Sausage and White Bean Chili from Café Madeleine for a non-traditional chili. I’m not the biggest chili fan… OH MY GOSH THIS WAS DELICIOUS!!

IMG_9557My overall favorite was a Pork Belly and Smoked Brisket from The Deck at Moonshine Flats. An unbelievable, savory, meaty, flavorful taste and overall the best chili I’ve ever had. So there. Eat your heart out, every other place. This is something that is served in Heaven, I am sure.

IMG_9558Another out of this word chili came from City Tacos, and may well have been completely unplanned. When they ran out of their Albondigas Chili, they substituted Carnitas. I am already a huge fan of carnitas, and this sample was pushed over the top when topped by chicharrones and tortilla chip strips. I KNOW, RIGHT??? CHICHARRONES!!!

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Finish that beer, there is more chili to taste!!

“Into the fun zone we go,” declared the ID checker we entered the Beer Garden. When one of our group (we’re looking at you, Johnnie!!) was holding up the Chili Sampling (Round 2!) with their unfinished beer, we decided to institute a new motto: Drink for Those Who Can’t… as in, if you can’t finish fast enough, we are now going to help finish it for you!

Music at both ends of the festival, student pottery available for purchase from the incredible gallery that is partly responsible for the SoNo Fest, unique vendors, and a handful of food trucks rounded out the sights for the day. Food trucks? I guess if you think you don’t like chili, you still will find some great eats here.

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Thorn Street Brewery, a festival sponsor
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Happy puppy, happy drinkers inside Thorn St. Brewery– nice people, too. If you two see this, hi!!
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Inside the San Diego Ceramics Connection, major sponsor and partly responsible for the SoNo Fest
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Buy my son some bow ties, Deedee, go ahead! Find these great ties online at ZBSavoy.com

More gratuitous chili photos:

 

From “Ew. Beer.” to “Mmm… Decisions, decisions… Nut Brown Ale or Stout?”

I swear I am not repeating my adventures, but we did go back to Alesmith Brewing Company last night with Al and Angie, two of our favorite people on the face of the earth.

These friends from our old parish in Indiana now have both of their kids off to college. If I can make this transition half as well as these two, I will consider my entry into Empty Nestdom wildly successful. Recently, Angie told us that on their visits to San Diego, she wants to try new and different pubs and restaurants- how convenient!

Alesmith was the answer, with the Tony Gwynn Gourmet Food Truck providing the eats.

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photo from the Alesmith website

Angie liked her Stout, and I really liked my Nut Brown Ale, one of the choices I wanted to try on our last visit here during San Diego Beer Week. This is a great brew! Don’t like hops like me? Try this beer- dark, but not sweet, English style bitter, but very low IBU (hops aren’t the only thing you taste… unlike most of San Diego’s famous beers). I have gone from “Ew. Beer.” to “Mmmm, what to have… Porter? Stout? Or an ESB? So many choices!” And none of these choices have to be a West Coast-style, quadruple-hopped, San Diego IPA.

And by the way- the fried wings of the food truck were some of the best wings I’ve ever had. I’m going to be hunting down the schedule for the Tony Gwynn Gourmet food truck, man they were GOOD! The foods all have baseball themed names, which make a lovely nostalgic pairing with Alesmith’s SD Pale Ale .394 (Padre’s fans understand the connection).

 

 

Girls’ Day Out #2- Frutilandia and more!

In June I went exploring Liberty Station with one of my most favorite friends- two moms on the loose having a lot of fun!

Six months is way too long to wait. Time for another “field trip,” this time with Dee Dee and Suzanne, friends from our church’s Bunco Club. Incidentally, Bunco Club needs to be renamed to “Let’s Have a Blast Chatting about All Our Favorite Things, Then Finally Get Around to Throwing Those Dice” Club (at least on the day it was held at my house, oops). Well, we chit-chatted about so many different favorite products, foods, restaurants and other places that we promised to go on a field trip to a few of these spots the very next week.

IMG_9304Which brings us to today: Fruitilandia, Pancho Villa’s Farmer’s Market, and Penzey’s Spices. Two of our stops I was very familiar with, but Fruitilandia was my new venture for today. This place was really neato-burrito.

According to Dee Dee, Fruitilandia was once a dumpy-looking small shop across the street from it’s current location at 4328 University Avenue in San Diego. Now it is located in a bright spot, still offering smoothies and all kinds of fabulous Mexican drink specialties.

We asked about the different snack options and were all in for sharing a Tostilocos, and tried the Strawberries and Cream (unfreakingbelievably delish), Pico de Gallo Fruit Salad, Fruit Salad with cottage cheese, raisins and honey, and a Licuado.

IMG_9313Holy cow, where has a Licuado been all my life? It is kind of like a Mexican milkshake, only lighter, like a smoothie. And tastier. And more refreshing. Choose which of many fruits you want blended into your drink with the milk- I chose pineapple and mango. Wow. Delish.

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Ermuhgersh! Tostilocos!

The three of us split a snack that we decided was like a Walking Taco… on steroids. We barely made a dent in the Tostilocos- served in one opened small bag of Tostitos was cucumbers, jicama, fried peanuts, tamarind bits, spicy sauce and chicharron strips. I’m pretty sure there were 42 other things in there, we just couldn’t get down to the bottom of the bag.

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Three forks-full of chicharron… not fried.

Imagine how sad I was to find that the chicharrones were not fried… boo hoo hoo! I definitely prefer my chicharrones fried. Pork skin cooked this way is like calamari, only a little more firm. Not bad, but not to my taste.

Fruit Salad Pico de Gallo- something I never had, but always meant to- chunks of fruit with chile. Definitely tasty, now all my So Cal and Mexican friends and family can get off my case. I think I liked the papaya and watermelon best.

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Fruit Salad Pico de Gallo

Fruitilandia could take over the country’s smoothie market. I hope it does.

And I NEED to get out with the women more often!

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Out and about, trouble times three, ha.

 

 

On Being Flexible…

The setting goals is always an interesting endeavor. We often accomplish more, we are encouraged to do better… “Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” (Norman Vincent Peale) We need goals and drive to accomplish them.
But, we must also be flexible. In being flexible, we are open to surprises and blessings we might otherwise have missed! “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” (Albert Einstein)

I’m temporarily setting aside my month’s goal of attending to home fixer-upper chores this month. There will still be time to repair the damage from barstools gouging into the wall under our kitchen counter, and I will eventually repaint my stair risers to cover up six years worth of scuffs. Instead, it looks as though we will be swapping over my two teens’ rooms and adding on a third one. Teen, that is, not rooms- oh my GOSH, I don’t think I could put up with remodeling a home… I’ve heard the horror stories.

We have never played host to an exchange student or any houseguest for more than a month at a time- usually, it has been my mom and we have had a ball with her long stays. But my parents, on the other hand, many years ago they have had a few of my friends live at their home for one, three, twenty-five months at a stretch. They made me proud. To know that my parents were ready, willing, and able to help out a friend gave me such a good feeling about my family. They taught me well.

If we can, I look forward to having one of my teen’s friends hang here for his senior school year, as my parents did for my friends.

It will be a pleasure.