Tag Archives: pancakes

Musings on Austin, Motorcycles, Grandkids & Sleep Deprivation

Well, it’s Tuesday and I’ve just wrapped up 10 action-packed days with the grandbabies, Jonah Bear and Lilly Bug. I thought I would feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after a recuperative night’s sleep, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I was up until 3:00am, and I’m feeling totally wiped out. So instead of crafting a dazzling literary recap, I’m opting for a random run-down of what transpired. I apologize in advance for taking the lazy way out. Forgive me. I beg of you.

1. Our adventure started June 10th when The Complete Package saddled up the motorcycle and Ziggy and I manned the “support vehicle” for our trip to Austin. It was our annual pilgrimage for the Republic of Texas motorcycle rally. TCP attends the bike rally; Ziggy and I spend the weekend with the kids. The ROT Rally is said to be the largest in Texas and one of the biggest in the US. Approximately 200,000 participants were expected. This year, TCP entered his new motorcycle in an open division contest and took second place in the Metric Custom category. Got a trophy and everything. My Baby and I took the kids downtown to watch the motorcycles parade past the state capitol and down Congress Avenue on Friday evening. Have you ever seen a motorcycle parade that runs for 11 uninterrupted miles and takes more than 30 minutes to pass? It’s pretty awesome, even if you’re not that into motorcycles. The kids were enthralled, and seeing their Papi ride by in the parade was a highlight. In their minds, Papi (TCP) is now a rock star. You go with your bad self, Papi. Here’s a shot of his bike, or as I like to refer to it – “the other woman”.

2. Bama Boy, our son-in-law, introduced us to his favorite meat market. It’s called Johnny G’s and it’s located in Manchaca, just south of Austin. It is best described as a small, family run meat palace. We bought two hand-cut ribeye steaks for Bama Boy and TCP (about 1.5″ thick) and two smaller steaks for My Baby and I. Then we snagged some smoked jalapeno cheese sausage and some spices. It’s a great little Mom & Pop shop, and those ribeyes were Uh-May-Zing.

3. Turns out Peter Pan is alive and well and recruiting Lost Boys in the Austin area. Who knew? If I could bottle Jonah Bear’s energy, I’d be a guhzillionaire.

4. If you take two kids and two adult women, put them in a car in the dark of night with a multi-colored flashing disco ball light stick and a cool blue light saber, add vintage rock music and park them at a Sonic Drive-In, you’re bound to draw attention. It may or may not have been a coincidence that a police cruiser pulled in just as we were leaving. Look, kids! It’s the Fuzz!

5. There’s no such thing as “too many pancakes” or “enough donuts.”

6. Behold the power of cheese! (Remember those commercials?) Hi, Lilly Bug.

7. After spending 6 days in Austin, I brought the kids back to Houston to spend the weekend at our place. My Baby and Bama Boy were celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary, so a kid-free weekend seemed like an appropriate gift. It was a total win-win for all of us. We wore those kids out. Wore ’em out good!

8. This weekend, Jonah Bear and TCP made homemade cherry pecan ice cream and lasagna. There’s nothing better than men who cook, except for men who cook and then do their own dishes. At 4 years old, Jonah is really getting into the cooking part. We’ll work on washing dishes another time. As for TCP, the man can scour a pan. And no, you can’t have him. And no, he doesn’t have a brother.

9. If I’ve seen Disney’s Tangled once, I’ve seen it a millions times. Jonah Bear usually pretends to be the hero. Lilly is the leading lady. I’m usually the villain (totally against type, I know) and Ziggy is the sidekick. This time, Jonah decided the bad guys were cooler, so he played the roll of the Stabbington brothers (twins). That’s right. Just when you think one bad guy’s enough, Disney produces twins. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a really cute movie. My favorite character – the little old cupid dude at the very end. Makes me laugh every single time.

10. Jonah Bear cried when it was time to head home. I cried when he started crying. Then TCP started crying. I’m telling you, we were one hot mess. Everything you’ve heard about being a grandparent is true. There is such joy in watching your babies grow up and have babies of their own. There is such freedom in enjoying your grandbabies without the stress and anxiety you felt with your own children. You really do learn a lot with age, and there’s a great sense of peace that comes with knowing you didn’t screw it up. Our daughter is amazing. Our son-in-law is a blessing. Their children are the greatest gift ever, and in all seriousness, we couldn’t love them more. Life is good. Really good.

Now if you’ll excuse us, Ziggy and I could really use a nap. A really long nap.

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Recipe Review: The Pioneer Woman’s Lemon Blueberry Pancakes

I’ve never eaten a lemon pancake. I know, it’s not a dark confession, but it is a confession none the less. I love all things lemon, but somehow lemon pancakes have eluded me. Until this week, when I saw the most gorgeous photos of lemon blueberry pancakes on The Pioneer Woman’s website. Have mercy.

Luckily, I had 2 lemons in my fruit bowl who were screaming, “C’mon! Go get the blueberries already! We’re dying to jump in some pancakes here!” Taunted by fruit – that’s my life. Since I can’t stand to disappoint anyone, much less a couple of mouthy lemons, I went to buy blueberries. Big, fat, juicy Texas blueberries. Thank God I did, because these pancakes did not disappoint.

Here’s what I loved about this recipe:
1. the batter was fragrant, light and bubbly
2. it took only minutes to whip up
3. except for blueberries, I had everything I needed in my pantry
4. the texture of the warm pancakes was soft & fluffy perfection

Here’s what I would do differently:
a. I would use two lemons instead of one, to boost the lemon flavor
b. I would use sweeter blueberries; mine were a little tart
c. if I had company, I would definitely double the recipe
d. if I didn’t have company, I would definitely eat every single one myself

If you love lemon more than you love blueberries, consider using 2 lemons (juice & zest) to kick up the lemon flavor. If you love blueberries more than you love lemon, make the recipe exactly as it’s written. Personally, I’m all for more lemon in just about every single situation. Except around a paper cut.

As is my custom, I’m not going to re-publish a Pioneer Woman recipe on my blog. It’s much more practical to provide you with the link so you can see Ree’s Lemon-Blueberry Pancakes for yourself, along with the gorgeous photos she provides in her step-by-step instructions. If you don’t fall in love, then you are definitely not a pancake person. Maybe a muffin man, but not a pancake person. PS – Do you know the Muffin Man? The Muffin Man. The Muffin Man?

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Vacation Photos, Part 2: Amsterdam Let’s just say it was…interesting.

Amsterdam - it's an extraordinarily unique city

Okay, so after 7 days in The Hague, The Complete Package and I jumped a train back to Amsterdam for a weekend of sightseeing. I was excited. I’ve seen photos of Amsterdam with its gorgeous architecture and its stunning canals and houseboats. I expected to love it. I mean really love it. Instead, I’d have to say I found it interesting. After some thought, I think a good example would be to compare it to Manhattan. If The Hague is comparable to the upper east side, then Amsterdam would be Times Square. It was crowded, vibrant, always open, and a little seedy. Where The Hague was peaceful, professional and dignified, Amsterdam was a party. And not just any party. It was more like a bachelor party in Las Vegas. It’s been many, many years since I’ve been exposed to that much beer and weed. Really. Like the early ’80s. When I wore layered Polo shirts and boat shoes and cut my hair to look like Lady Di. **nostalgic sigh**

Coffeeshops in Amsterdam don't sell coffee. Seriously. Did you know that?

We stayed in a hotel near Dam Square, which is probably why I’m comparing it to Times Square. It’s a large, open square surrounded by shopping, restaurants and bars crisscrossed by a myriad of trains, trams and buses and sprinkled with a gorgeous old church, a Madame Tussaud’s, a royal palace and this guy.

Neptune at Amsterdam's Dam Square - it's certainly one of a kind!

I think I experienced sensory overload standing in Dam Square. I’m not joking when I say we had a “coffee shop” right across from our hotel. For those who haven’t heard, a coffee shop in Amsterdam is a place to purchase and smoke marijuana. It’s not legal, mind you, it’s just tolerated. If you want that machiatto or latte, you’d better ask for a cafe. As for the weed, you don’t really need to buy it to enjoy it. I think I inhaled enough second-hand smoke around town to enjoy an unintentional two-day contact high. No wonder I was craving McDonald’s. Especially the fries. And pancakes. Oooo…Dutch pancakes are divine.

Amsterdam's canals and neighborhoods are lovely

Once you get away from Dam Square, you find peaceful neighborhoods with stunning canals, traditional architecture, street markets, quaint squares, gorgeous old churches and fabulous museums. We were lucky enough to be there just as the Winter Wonderland markets set up across town. We particularly enjoyed the one at Rembrandt Square. The food is the main draw (after the quaint holiday decorations). Our first experience was a mind-blowing waffle swimming in melted milk chocolate. Oh, my. Still brings tears to my eyes.

You're lucky we got a photo before we destroyed this thing

Waffles are a popular sweet treat here. And they cover them in everything known to man…chocolate, nuts, fruit, whipped cream, candy coatings…I could go on and on. I think we ate at least two over the weekend. Maybe more. There were so many awesome vendors. I’ll let the photos tell the story:

Waffles...oh, sweet waffles. You are so delicious!

Okay, this koffee shop actually sells coffee (with booze, no less)

Churros and popcorn being sold from a giant Santa stall

A typical sweet shop at the winter market (notice the olliebollen on the right?)

That's an 18" bratwurst on that grill. Just thought you should see it.

In addition to the winter wonderland markets, there were also great street markets in Amsterdam. From clothes to antiques to cheese and produce, you can find just about anything in a street market here. It’s a great shopping city. Here’s a peek at some of the market vendors we loved, and a look at Amsterdam’s famous flower market:

A woman on TV once said that good cheese "smells like the feet of angels". Ewww.

I can't identify some of these mushrooms, so I'll just call them delicious

There's something for everyone at Amsterdam's street markets

An example of a flower stall in Amsterdam's Bloemen Market

Amaryllis for sale at the flower market - gorgeous!

And now you know how to say DON'T TOUCH in five languages!

Cyclamen are beautiful in every country. These are stunning.

If there’s one thing in particular that Amsterdam is famous for, it has to be their canal system. It’s what keeps the city humming. Boats are everywhere, from sightseeing boats to delivery boats, houseboats to floating museums and bed-and-breakfasts. Water and controlling it are vital to Amsterdam’s existence. It also makes for some beautiful real estate (and vacation photos). Take a look:

Four main canals ring the city of Amsterdam.

A gridwork of bridges cross the canals to connect each ring.

A charming collection of houseboats line each canal.

And a handful of tour boat companies ferry visitors around the city.

And now, here’s a little collection of various photos I took from around Amsterdam. They don’t fit any specific category, but they’re still worth sharing.

I just can't get enough of this architectural style. So very charming.

A cheese cave? Holy crap! It's a cheese cave!

Our hotel room - a step down from the Hague Hilton, but that bed was comfy!

Walk these streets for long, and you'll call them hobblestones, too!

Yup. That's a public urinal, and men really use them.

Oude Church, Amsterdam - my winner for best organ pipes. Ever.

The Bulldog bills itself as Amsterdam's original coffeeshop. Coffeeshop = no coffee

I never thought the words "beautiful" & "train station" went together until now.

I would have loved to include photos from the Rijksmuseum (Dutch masters) and the Van Gogh museum, but they don’t allow any photos to be taken. I did get to see some great Van Goghs including some sunflowers, and I got to see a great collection of Rembrandts at the Rijksmuseum, including The Nightwatchmen. That painting was HUGE, and it was awesome! I love art museums. Okay, kids. That’s it for Amsterdam. Thanks for reading along. Coming up next, my holiday dream trip to Germany (thank you, TCP, for making it come true). Stay tuned!

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