Tag Archives: The Complete Package

The Cathedral of Junk – Austin, TX

We recently spent a weekend in Austin with our grandkids and during that weekend The Complete Package took us out for street food and a sight-seeing adventure at the Cathedral of Junk. Never heard of it? Neither had I, and neither had My Baby who lives in Austin and attended college there {hook ’em}. How TCP knew is beyond us, but he did and we’re glad he did. The Cathedral of Junk is hard to describe, wonderous to behold, and one of a kind. Here’s a peek.

Cathedral of Junk - Front of House

From the street, it’s a bright and eclectic house with lots of color and character.

Cathedral of Junk - Front Porch Collage

But the main attraction is the back yard. It’s a tower of…. well, uh…. junk! Lots and lots and oodles of junk. Junk of all makes & models, shapes & sizes.

Cathedral of Junk - Front View of Tower

There’s metal junk.

Cathedral of Junk - Back Side

And nostalgic junk.

Cathedral of Junk - My Baby & the Trolls

And yellow rubbery junk.

Cathedral of Junk - Rubber Duckies

There is junk with a purpose, like this drum with the story of the Cathedral.

Cathedral of Junk - Story on Drum

And junk that inspires.

Cathedral of Junk - Coldplay Quote

I love me some Coldplay. I also love things that make me laugh.

Cathedral of Junk - Billy Bass & Train

Yes, that is a Billy Bass. He was mounted just high enough to prevent us from pressing the button to see if he would sing. There’s just plain ol’ junky junk.

Cathedral of Junk - Sample Junk

And Austin-themed junk.

Cathedral of Junk - Austin Mirror

The main attraction for some is the Throne of Junk.

Cathedral of Junk - Empty Throne

So kitschy and fabulous, some couples come here to have their engagement photos taken. Click here for a sample. We didn’t see any engaged couples posing when we were there, but we did meet a family who was taking graduation photos of their daughter at fun & funky landmarks all over Austin. What a great idea! This cute little group was willing to pose for a few snaps.

Cathedral of Junk - My Baby, Jonah & Lilly

Yep – that’s My Baby with Jonah Bear and Lilly Bug. My little munchkins.

Cathedral of Junk - Lilly & Jonah

These two cutie-patooties make everything more fun & fabulous. And surprisingly, that’s what the Cathedral of Junk is – fun & fabulous.

Cathedral of Junk - A Peek Inside

At first glance, it may inspire some to update their tetanus booster, but don’t let that stop you. The Cathedral of Junk is a monument to inspiration and creativity. It inspires others to visit daily, donate items or create masterpieces of their own. Jonah left dreaming of his next creation.

If you decide to visit, I hope you’ll stop to drop a donation in the box near the gate. It takes a lot of wire, mortar and cement to hold this cathedral together. If you’re curious about what it takes to maintain, Vince (the artist & homeowner) is always standing by to answer questions. He’s a really, really nice guy and proof that one man’s trash truly is another’s treasure.

Cathedral of Junk - Donation Box

If you want to know more about Vince Hannemann and his Cathedral of Junk, this article in The Daily Texan is a great place to start. Keep Austin Weird, y’all!

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Filed under Family Stuff, Travel Tales

A Pineapple Update

If you’re a regular reader, you might remember that in 2011 we grew and harvested our first ever homegrown pineapple. It was the best of times.

Our first ever pineapple; summer of 2012

Our first ever pineapple; summer of 2012

We’re such dorks, we called our kids & grandkids and invited them over for the weekend so we could harvest it together. The Complete Package helped our grandson, Jonah Bear, cut the first pineapple. Go Jonah Bear!

Jonah Bear puts some muscle into harvesting the pineapple.

Jonah Bear puts some muscle into harvesting the pineapple.

Then Jonah & I immediately cut it up and baked a birthday cake for our granddaughter, Lilly Bug. What a great adventure that was. And so much fun.

Lilly Bug blows out the candles on her homemade cake.

Lilly Bug blows out the candles on her homemade cake.

Well, this year – we have four baby pineapples. FOUR! It’s so amazing. Of the ten pineapple plants currently growing on our back porch, four have bloomed and produced fruit. We are so excited! Here are a few shots of the new babies.

This snap shows the baby pineapple on its stalk.

This snap shows the baby pineapple on its stalk.

This one shows the crown starting to form on top.

This one shows the crown starting to form on top.

If you look closely at the tips, you'll see the purple flowers almost ready to emerge.

If you look closely at the tips, you’ll see the purple flowers almost ready to emerge.

So hold on to your britches, folks. This summer promises to bring All The Pineapple Goodies. While I’m sure there’s another pineapple upside-down cake in our future (because last year’s cake was beyond delicious), there’s no telling what the others may become. Pineapple preserves? Pineapple sherbet? Pineapple tarts? Feel free to shout out suggestions! Like all other mothers with new babies, I’m sure I’ll post additional photos as they grow.

Ever the proud pineapple momma,
-Jeanne (NanaBread)

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Filed under Family Stuff, Food & Recipes, Miscellaneous Thoughts

It’s just a number anyway, right?

50th birthday

Wow… that’s a big number. Half-a-hundred. Half a century! Remember when you were just a kid and someone said they were 50 and you thought “Wow, she’s older than dirt!” – well, I’m officially there.

Today could have sucked the wind out of my sails or the jelly out of my donut but it didn’t. Some people may turn 50 and FREAK OUT, but not me. Age is just a number and while my knees often feel 50, in my mind I am still 36. If that’s me taking the denial train, then I’m all aboard. In fact, I kind of like my seat.

The Complete Package (my beloved husband) left this morning for a business conference and while his timing brought him a lot of guilt, I was prepared to spend the day alone shopping for new bras and treating myself to a lemon berry slush at Sonic. That might sound sad to some, but we haven’t really put a lot into celebrating birthdays around here since our daughter grew up and moved out on her own and I started seeing more gray hairs than brown in the mirror.

That is, until this morning when I received a text from my friend Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic while browsing the bra selection at Kohl’s. (That’s right, ladies… if you’re in the market for over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders, they’re on sale this weekend at Kohl’s. You’re welcome.)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but while I was shopping, Kirsten sent a text message that went something like this:

Her: Where are you?!? Why aren’t you on your computer like you’re supposed to be?!? How could you be so selfish?!? (Okay… that’s slightly embellished.)

So I responded with: “Yo! Why you all up in my biz-ness? I’m shopping for B-rahs!” (Not really, but I’m trying to illustrate a point so roll with it.)

So then she was all like: “Seriously. You need to get home and get online.”

And I was thinking: “Sweet! They must have picked a new pope!” (But I’m not catholic, and that was not it.)

As it turns out, my friends from Salad Week & Beer Week & Crepe Week & Sweets Week had pulled out all the stops and thrown me a virtual Happy 50th Birthday party. They were all watching their Twitter feeds for my reaction, and I was at Kohl’s picking out bras to take home and try on (because no one ever wants to try on bras in a public fitting room – am I right, ladies?)

Here’s what greeted me when I opened Kirsten’s blog:

50th birthday button

As I read her recipe for Orange Creamsicle Pie, I began to grasp the scope of it all. There was the list of my blogging besties with all of the glorious things they created for my big day. Shit, y’all. Cue the waterworks and pass me the tissues. So. Much. Love. You know today had to be the day I failed to wear the waterproof mascara, right?

So I’ve been sitting at my computer for hours now, and I’m blown away by the thoughtfulness of others and the karma of timing and the gratitude that comes from having such amazing friends. Anyone who scoffs at bloggers for having imaginary internet friends will never get it. But I do, and I am forever grateful to these wonderful ladies whom I adore:

Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic – the suspected ring-leader who cooked up a childhood memory with Orange Creamsicle Pie

Megan at Country Cleaver – who baked up a lovely batch of Nutella Cream Cheese Turn-Overs

Allison at Decadent Philistines Save the World – who baked an old-fashioned classic Coca Cola Sheet Cake

Anne at From My Sweet Heart – who made this absolutely gorgeous (and pink!) Mexican Ice Cream

Mads at La Petite Pancake – who whipped up some TexMex love with her Cheesy Chorizo Dip

Carrie at Bakeaholic Mama – who had the worst week ever & still managed to whip up a Coconut Banana Brownie Pie

Kat at Tenaciously Yours – who made one of my favorite obsessions with her Guacamole

Madeline at Munching in the Mitten – who combined several of my favorites with her Fig, Fontina & Pecan Flatbread

Monica at The Grommom – who brought the Aloha all the way from Hawaii with Tropical Ice Cream

Katie at The Hill Country Cook – who baked a big ol’ pan of Texas heritage with her Dr Pepper Cake

Lauren at Climbing Grier Mountain – who put the fun back in mini pies with Key Lime Pies in Animal Cracker Crusts

And Beka at Kvetchin’ Kitchen – who brought the funny & the hooch with her Aged Manhattan Cocktail because nothing says “Let’s celebrate the old broad” like aged whiskey (love it!)

There are not enough words in the English language to convey how much these ladies mean to me. They made turning 50 unexpectedly fun. If you have a minute, please take the time to check out their fabulous recipes. Even better, bookmark their blogs and spend some quality time on each and you’ll see why I find them all so delightful. Much love to everyone and thank you for the sweet birthday wishes. I would gladly blow out a candle for each of you, but there are already enough to warrant a fire code violation in most all public venues.

Hugs to you all & thanks so much! – Jeanne (NanaBread)

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes, Things I Love

Soup Week: TCP’s Shrimp Bisque

Shrimp Bisque - Title Photo

It’s Soup Week – I feel warmer already. Nothing says winter & comfort better than soup, and this week 14 food bloggers joined mittens to warm up your week. Actually, I should say 15 cooks because this recipe is my husband’s. Seriously… it’s all him. We don’t call him The Complete Package for nothing, folks. He not only cooks, he is the Boss of Bisque. And this bisque is boss – it’s rich, it’s plush (if you can call a soup such a thing) and it’s heavenly. I swear it.

PS – Want to impress friends & family or blow their minds with a gourmet-quality shee-shee-foo-foo seafood soup? Well, this is the one. Not only is it ‘scrape the bowl’ fabulous, it’s fabulously easy to make. {our little secret}

The Complete Package’s Shrimp Bisque
3 tablespoons of good quality olive oil
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled & deveined (save the shells)
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup dry white wine (TCP uses pinot grigio)
2 cups cooked white rice (great way to use leftover rice!)
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
3 cubes of chicken bullion (or 1 1/2 tablespoons of granules)
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups heavy cream

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp shells and cook until pink, stirring often to keep them from burning. Remove the shells with a slotted spoon and discard them, leaving all the shrimp-flavored oil in the pot (this creates a more flavorful base for your soup, so please don’t skip this step).

Add the peeled, deveined shrimp to the hot oil and cook, stirring often, until they turn pink and curl up (about 3 minutes). Remove them from the oil with your slotted spoon and place them in a bowl; cover and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium; add the butter, onion, carrot and celery to the pan. Cook, stirring often, until the veggies are tender. Add the water, white wine, cooked rice, bay leaf, salt, cayenne pepper and chicken bullion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and continue to simmer for 10 minutes.

Turn off the stove and then remove the bay leaf from the soup. Add the can of diced tomatoes, juice included, and the cooked shrimp, stirring to combine. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until mostly smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can do this in your blender. Just work carefully and in small batches; be sure to cover the lid of your blender with a kitchen towel to prevent spatters. Be careful; the mixture will be hot!

Once blended, return the soup to the pot; stir in the cream and bring it to a gentle boil over medium heat. Once it’s thoroughly heated, it’s ready to serve.

Shrimp Bisque

The Complete Package insists on serving this with hot buttered sourdough bread. And, as usual, he’s right. But please don’t tell him I said so.

Don’t forget to visit the other ‘souper’ Soup Week bloggers:

MONDAY:
Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Bread Bowls @ Comfortably Domestic
Hearty Vegetable Mexican Soup & Jalapeno Cornbread @ The Girly Girl Cooks
3 Bean & Spinach Soup @ The Hill Country Cook

TUESDAY:
Garbage Soup @ Munching in the Mitten
Gnocchi Pesto Soup @ La Petite Pancake

WEDNESDAY:
40 Clove Garlic Chicken Soup with Parmesan Croutons @ Country Cleaver
Sunchoke Soup with Gorgonzola & Honey Crostini @ Climbing Grier Mountain

THURSDAY:
Coconut Curry with a lot of Aloha @ The Grommom
Beef Bourguignon @ Bakeaholic Mama

FRIDAY:
Eat Live Run’s White Chicken Chili @ Tenaciously Yours
Arizona Mountain Soup with Cornbread @ Decadent Philistines

SATURDAY:
‘Fungus Among Us’ Mushroom Soup @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen
Pink Prosecco Soup – a dessert soup From My Sweet Heart

Nothing like a little dessert soup to wrap up Soup Week.
Great job, ladies! As always, it’s an honor to cook with you. And TCP.

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. No phones. No internet. No distractions. Just peace & quiet. The Complete Package found such a place – a respite from the big city – deep in the heart of Texas. It’s called St. Clare’s Cabin and it was perfection. Here’s a photo journal of our week in the country.

LeakeyTX - St Clare's Cabin

Nestled in a valley near the Sabinal River, St. Clare’s Cabin is between the towns of Leakey and Vanderpool, Texas and only 8 miles or so from Lost Maples State Park. Everything about the cabin’s location is scenic.

LeakeyTX - Cabin Entry

LeakeyTX - Welcome to St Clares

What a wonderful surprise to walk into such a warm, cozy and beautifully decorated home. I think I want to live here. Permanently.

LeakeyTX - Cabin from Bedroom Doors

LeakeyTX - Cabin View from Front Door

I love the dining nook table. It is handcrafted with an inlaid state of Texas in the middle and a star marking the cabin’s location. It’s all about the details.

LeakeyTX - Dining Nook

Here’s a close-up of that equestrian collage hanging over the dining table.

LeakeyTX - Equestrian Collage

This is what it means when someone says “the decorator paid such great attention to detail.” Every touch at St. Clare’s Cabin was thoughtfully placed.

LeakeyTX - Front Porch Love

LeakeyTX - Retro Picnic Decor

LeakeyTX - Cozy Kitchen

LeakeyTX - Gorgeous Dishes

LeakeyTX - Cute Country Bath

LeakeyTX - Bathroom Touches

I’m not ashamed to say I squealed like a little girl when I saw that the cabin was decorated in retro Christmas. I absolutely loved it!

LeakeyTX - Holiday Fireplace

LeakeyTX - Christmas Mantle

LeakeyTX - Pinnochio Tree Topper

Speaking of Christmas, as soon as we got there, Dobie (our Christmas Shelf Elf) found a fun new buddy to hang out with. Literally.

LeakeyTX - Wild Boar & Elf

When he got bored with the boar (ha-ha), he stayed busy pranking the kids. He was found swinging from the shower rod, soaking in a mini-marshmallow bath, and climbing a decorative shutter in the kitchen. I think he was motivated by that little Hershey bar. He’s definitely my kind of elf.

LeakeyTX - Elf Climbing for Candy

After snacking on chocolate, we found him napping in the tissue box. I think it was the only time he sat still all week. He’s an active, mischievous little elf.

LeakeyTX - Elf Treats & Nap

Speaking of sleeping, St. Clare’s Cabin has two lovely bedrooms, each with a queen bed (one firm, one soft). The first was decorated in a cowboy theme.

LeakeyTX - The Cowboy Bedroom

The second paid tribute to a long-lost relative and his military service. Both bedrooms had limestone floor, quilts made by the owner, and hand-embroidered pillow shams. Again with the details. Love, love, love it. Very sweet.

LeakeyTX - Second Bedroom

Also sweet? The cabin’s large front porch. I love a screened porch – a love directly traced back to my maternal grandmother who lived on the Red River outside of Denison, Texas. I have many, many fond memories of playing on her porch. I’m not sure there’s anything better than a cabin with a big screened porch, unless it’s a porch with a swing. Ever slept on a screened porch on a beautiful summer night? It’s a little piece of heaven.

LeakeyTX - St Clares Cabin & Kids

LeakeyTX - Porch View of Front Yard

The fenced yard is huge, and I loved this cute tin-topped table & chairs.

LeakeyTX - Porch Table at Cabin

We invited our daughter, son-in-law and two grandkids to join us for a weekend. I think they enjoyed the cabin as much as we did, but Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug reeeeealy loved it. They took full advantage of the great outdoors.

They fell in love with the creek that lines one side of the property.

LeakeyTX - Creek at the Cabin

Or maybe it was the plethora of limestone rocks they could toss into the creek.

LeakeyTX - Kids at the Creek

Over and over and over again – for two straight days.

LeakeyTX - Jonah Tossing Rocks

And then there was the hammock. Those kids loved that hammock.

LeakeyTX - Jonah & Lilly Hammock

LeakeyTX - Lilly in Hammock

We also loved exploring this part of the Texas Hill Country. The Complete Package and I took a different scenic drive every day we were there. I had no idea this part of the state was so lovely.

LeakeyTX - Sabinal River Cypress

LeakeyTX - Scenic Drive - Bluffs

LeakeyTX - Preparing to Cross

LeakeyTX - River Crossing near Concan

LeakeyTX - View of Bluff at Sunset

LeakeyTX - Longhorns

LeakeyTX - Gang of Wild Turkeys

Those are wild turkeys, folks. We saw gangs of them – running amok, causing trouble and tagging cars late at night. It left me wondering how good one of these would be baked up for Christmas Dinner. And then I found myself craving a whiskey & Coke and a turkey sandwich. {heehee}

Each night, I found myself looking forward to sitting by the fire pit with a roaring campfire, or swinging in the hammock as the sun set over the valley, or gazing at a pitch black sky late at night with the brightest stars you’ve ever seen, or curling up in my favorite spot by the window gazing at the mountains.

LeakeyTX - My Baby in the Window

That’s My Baby. She’s keeping my spot warm. Thanks, honey! She’s a good girl.

And now that we’re home, I’m already thinking about our next visit to St. Clare’s Cabin. It’s so lovely in the fall, I want to see it in the spring when the creek is flush and the wildflowers are blooming. And I want to go back in the summer when the rivers are running at capacity and everyone descends on the Frio and Guadalupe Rivers to float in inner tubes and getting a little too sunburned. I want to soak up the fresh air, enjoy the peace & quiet, and watch those gorgeous Hill Country sunsets. And I want to do it as often as possible.

LeakeyTX - Sunset at St Clares Cabin

Want more information on vacation rentals? I highly recommend our two favorite “By Owner” websites – Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) and HomeAway. As with any ‘by owner’ site, the key is to do your homework, read descriptions thoroughly, stick to rentals that include plenty of pictures so you see what you’re getting, and rely on the reviews written by others who’ve stayed there. We’ve rented on these two websites at least 8-10 times, and we have never, ever been disappointed. If you’d like to visit the St. Clare’s Cabin Retreat website, click here.

So… where do you go when YOU want to get away?

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Filed under Family Stuff, Travel Tales

TCP Cooks: Bourbon Pecan Pralines

Bourbon Pecan Pralines - One

The Complete Package, my beloved husband, never makes candy. Ever. Until this December, that is, when he discovered his hidden talent for making Bourbon Pecan Pralines. If you’re going to be a candy savant, this is the recipe to perfect. It’s buttery and caramely and decadent. Oh, and did I mention it has bourbon in it? Lucky for me, he’s made them several times now. Lucky for you, he’s not stingy about sharing recipes.

TCP’s Bourbon Pecan Pralines
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 dash salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups pecan halves, toasted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon bourbon (we’re a Weller Special Reserve family)
butter for baking sheet (or a silpat mat)

Before you begin, prep your baking sheet so it will be ready when the candy is. Either butter the cookie sheet or line it with a silpat mat, if you have one handy.

In a heavy saucepan over low heat, melt the butter then stir in the sugar and brown sugar, salt and heavy cream. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it comes to a boil, remove the lid and continue to boil until a candy thermometer reads 242F, or almost to firm ball stage.

Stir in the toasted pecans; remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and bourbon. With a sturdy wooden spoon, continue to beat the candy until it goes from glossy to creamy and begins to thicken.

Working quickly, drop tablespoons of the candy mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Allow them to cool completely. Once cooled, you can store them in an airtight container or wrap them individually in plastic wrap.

Bourbon Pecan Pralines - As big as your hand

Note: If you’re like TCP, you’ll drop about 1/2 of a cup at a time and make these babies the size of the palm of your hand. Which is great if you love pralines; not so great if you’re prone to sugar-induced napping. Unless, of course, you’re on vacation for the holidays or you like naps, then it’s a total win/win.

Bourbon Pecan Pralines

Wishing you a Happy Holidays with plenty of pralines,
NanaBread & The Complete Package

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Filed under Food & Recipes

Day of the Dead Papier-mâché

Halloween is a favorite holiday at our house. I’d like to say it’s the pumpkins and costumes and kids trick-or-treating, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes it’s more about the candy (or the fact that we tend to sneak/eat some of it prior to October 31st), and sometimes it’s more about the decorations or crafts.

Colorful masks in the Dia de los Muertos tradition

This year, The Complete Package decided to tackle a papier-mâché mask for Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. It’s a holiday celebrated in Mexico and other cultures around the world in honor of those who have passed. In Mexico, it’s a national holiday celebrated on November 1st. For us, it’s yet another way to celebrate Halloween with a cultural twist. Why? Because skeletons play a key role, and we can’t help but be drawn to these colorful and charismatic crafts.

In our case, TCP did the crafting of the mask and I did the embellishing. This was so simple, it’s almost unbelievable. The best part is that it only requires a few simple items you probably already have around the house.

What You’ll Need:
aluminum foil – to create a form
thin paper or newspaper – cut into strips
flour & water – to create simple paste
acrylic craft paints (small bottles) or colorful makers
black Sharpies or permanent markers (fine point)

It starts with the papier-mâché. Using 2-3 layers of aluminum foil, press it onto your face to create a form to work on. This is TCP in foil form. It reminds me of several things, one of which was Han Solo frozen into a block of carbonite.

Or this one: ‘Come with me if you want to live’ – name that movie!

Next up, the pasting and papering:

Papier-mâché – much easier to make than it is to spell.

See? I told you it was simple. Once the entire mask is covered in 2-3 layers of paper, dip your fingers into the paste and use it to smooth all the loose or rough edges. Place your mask in an out-of-the-way place to air dry; it may take a few days to dry, depending on the humidity where you live. In Houston, humidity is always a factor. That’s why we call it “air you can wear”.

Once dry, you can cut out holes for the eyes, nose & mouth (if you plan to wear your mask) or leave it intact and start to paint (if you plan to display your mask). I started by printing off a few examples from the internet for inspiration. Using a Sharpie (or a pencil), sketch your pattern onto the mask.

Stage 1 decorating – drawing your patterns

Once I was happy with my basic design, I started filling in the areas with colorful acrylic paints from the craft store. Bright primary colors are key.

The contrast between black & white and the colors make it pop

Once dry, use a black permanent marker to outline your design; it makes it really stand out. Then fill in the blank areas with decorative flourishes.

Outlining sharpens the detail of your design

If you want to use this for years to come, I recommend spraying the finished mask with a spray varnish or sealer. It will protect the paint and keep bugs from going after the paste when it’s stored. Just check with your local craft store on which varnish works best on paper crafts. We decided to leave ours as is.

Our finished Dia de los Muertos mask

It’s kinda creepy. It’s kinda cool. I kinda like it. A lot. And if you decide to give this a try, I hope you’ll share photos here. Next up: Sugar Skulls so stay tuned!

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Filed under Craft Projects

Good News / Bad News

It’s been one of those days. You know, the kind where you start something with the best of intentions and something else gets in the way; or you get distracted. In my case, it was less of the first and more of the latter. I’ll give you examples.

Good News – I decided to tackle my freezer; it needed to be reorganized.

Yes, that’s vodka in the top drawer. For penne. Don’t judge.


Bad New – I got distracted by what I found.

Good News – I am now infusing old frozen vanilla beans in the vodka for the win AND I found a bag of frozen dinner rolls that make the perfect winter coat for the Pumpkin Spice Kisses Megan sent me.

Kisses in frozen rolls = dessert in a pinch, literally.

Once the dough rises around the kisses, I’ll pinch them shut, bake them off, and smother them in a caramel glaze. Yes way!

Bad News – If The Complete Package doesn’t pitch in to help eat these, I’m going to be in trouble. Serious trouble. Which brings me to the…

Good News – It’s sweat pants season! Wahoo!

Cheer Sweats by Nike; love the ‘Hook ‘Em Horns’ orange

Bad News – I never finished organizing the freezer because I found the end of a bag of frozen shredded hashbrown potatoes way in the back.

Good News – I decided hashbrowns with soft-fried eggs smothered in Texas Brew Salsa was absolutely essential for today’s lunch. It was a good call.

Bad News – It was gone way too quickly, just like our Texas Brew Salsa Giveaway this week.

Good News – You still have time to enter! Comments close at 9:00pm CST Friday, October 5th so click here and leave a comment. You could win a big box of Texas Brew Salsa of your very own. And that’s always good news.

Texas Brew Salsa – it’s *that* good!

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Filed under "Buy Local" Spotlights, Food & Recipes, Miscellaneous Thoughts

Where have I been? Vancouver!

Vancouver, British Columbia – it’s on Canada’s western coast. Ever been? It has been on our bucket list for years. So when The Complete Package & I decided to take a trip to celebrate our 30th anniversary, we picked Vancouver. Why? For the mountains and the ocean and the food and the culture and the whales, of course! And it was every bit as beautiful as I thought it would be.


I don’t usually photograph airports, but Vancouver’s is lovely. This gorgeous sculpture greeted us as we stepped off our plane. As far as airports go, Vancouver gets a solid A+ (in case you’re rating airports).

For lodging, we decided to rent an apartment in the Yaletown area of downtown Vancouver. Apartments are plentiful in Vancouver, and this one really stood out. The location was perfect, the apartment was beautiful, the private rooftop terrace was a total bonus, and the views were stunning. I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the floor when we walked in. Here are the snaps we took once we recovered.

I’ve mentioned HomeAway.com and VRBO.com before, and we used it again for this trip. I can’t say enough about our experiences except that each place we’ve rented has been completely different and each has been spectacular. This rooftop “Skybox” apartment in hip Yaletown was no exception. Everything about it was fabulous. Did I mention the views? Because I just can’t say enough about the views of Vancouver from this apartment.

It wasn’t easy, but we did actually leave the apartment long enough to see some of Vancouver. Here are a few of the places we visited:

The Capilano Suspension Bridge & Treetop Walks

Chinatown & The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden

Historic Gastown

Granville Island & Public Market

The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia

Whale Watching along the San Juan Islands

The Vancouver Aquarium

Miscellaneous Sights Around Vancouver

And in case you’re a foodie, there was food. Lots of food.

Recognize that last one? That’s poutine – it’s a Canadian thing. French fries topped with cheese curds, then smothered in gravy. It was on my “must try” list, along with Nanaimo Bars and local wild salmon. If you make it to Vancouver some day, give it a try. Poutine. Remember that name (if you love gravy).

Vancouver was glorious. The friendliest people on earth live there, and I’d be friendly too if I were lucky enough to live in such a wonderful place. They have a temperate climate. They have ocean views and mountains galore. They plant flowers on every corner and hang them from every street light. Vancouver is beautiful; plain & simple. And if it’s not on your bucket list yet, it should be.

Note from NanaBread: this blog post was long on photos but short on text, so if you have any questions please leave me a comment. I’m happy to answer anything I can about our Vancouver trip.

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“Avast, Ye’ Scurvy Dogs!”

Avast, ye dogs! We’re here to blunder yer booty & yer ice cream freezer!


Ahoy, matey! I just got back from 11 days in Austin with my kids/grandkids and now I’m off again for another week of travel. If things don’t slow down, I’m going to need a vacation from my vacations. What a terrible problem to have, right? While The Complete Package and I are off celebrating our 30th anniversary (yes, I got married at the tender age of 7 – wink, wink) I’ll leave you with these little scallywags. Fair warning – hide your wallets. These tiny pirates must be in search of treasure, because they’ve already stolen our hearts.

Captain Jack Sparrow & Elizabeth Swan in their early, more formative years.

PS – Yes, they are the greatest grandkids ever. PPS – Yes, I am totally biased.

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