Texan Thanksgiving Guest

You never know what kind of weather you are going to have in Texas for Thanksgiving. Sometimes it’s in the 80s.  This year lower 70s means sweater weather!  Also this year for us, Thanksgiving was not at our house, and for us that also meant nothing to make.  We brought pie.. store bought pie.  I do like to bake things but for years my husband has told me when it comes to Thanksgiving pie to get the one the grocery store bakes.  Guess people are not too impressed with my pie baking skills.  It is really hard to mess up a store bought pumpkin and pecan pie.

I love Austin, it is so pretty.  There are actually some hills.  Our relatives cook turkey in the oven and like to fry them too. I think they inject it with spices and then fry it in peanut oil for 40 minutes (outside of course)  They had 5 turkeys and 18 people.  So lots of turkey left overs.  I love a colorful plate of food.  The turkey is pretty neutral, however the veggies give the meal eye popping color.  My favorite vegetable was the roasted brussel sprouts. I remember really disliking brussel sprouts in the past and if they are boiled, they are awful.  However roasted with garlic, salt and olive oil makes them taste amazing.  Sweet potatoes are also a beautiful vibrant color and the sweet taste is also yummy!  I tried some cornbread stuffing made simply with onions, celery, and some sliced almonds which was a great twist!  And of course Pop’s fruit salad (ambrosia), made with soaked oranges in melon liqueur and rum.thanksgiving


It was such a pretty day to eat outdoors, with all of the people, the table was stretched into the hallway to accommodate the crowd.   It’s nice to have the flexibility in the space to extend the table beyond the room.  Most houses that I have seen in Texas have a formal dining room like this one and a separate “breakfast room”.  The breakfast room is where the family eats 99% of the time and is smaller than the dining room. For me, this is the biggest waste of space. I don’t even have a dinner party every year where we use the dining room table.  Mine right now is holding folded clothes, bills and a puzzle.   We had a buffet, self serve style.  Making a pass through the kitchen you make stops at the cook top and the surrounding counters to create your plate.


I love the outdoor space, it’s very pretty with two twin trellis covers, one covering the outdoor kitchen and the other covering an outdoor Texas fire place.  In between is a large patio table.  I was going for the turkey fryer in this picture.  The stone work and landscaping are very nice!


The cousins always have a good time together, it’s amazing how they have grown.  And it’s great that the family can have a nice time together.  I took my turkey tryptophan slumber watching the Dallas cowboys and woke up for some desert and more much needed rest!  So relaxing and so not me to do this much relaxing!



Texan Thanksgiving Guest

Autumn “thank you” office party


Every year we look forward to having an end of the year office party.  It’s to show appreciation for all of the hard work through out the year! Most people like to do this around Christmas time, but for some reason we can never get the dates to work out so we end up doing it in November. I REALLY don’t like to call this a Christmas party if it’s in November.   Since Thanksgiving is slowly being passed up by Christmas, I’m starting to like the fit of having a thanks giving office party at the end of the year to savor the little bit of autumn we get to enjoy! And the timing, the week before Thanksgiving is good (not before).  It’s hard to plan what you are going to wear, it was 80 degrees earlier in the day and dropped to the 50s!  We are so lucky to be able to host a sixth annual.  Each year we try to come up with a new idea.  Most years we have a nice dinner party at a restaurant and one year we did a dinner mystery, which was different.   We’re not too big in the entertaining department, so this idea to have the party at a restaurant is better than trying to do it at our house.  We invite the team and their spouse or significant other.

The only issue with dinner at a restaurant is that you don’t get to have conversations with everyone, you do get to have a nice conversation with the people that are sitting next to you though 😉

This  year’s party was at Brix which I have learned stands for briks which is a measurement of the sugar content of the grapes at harvest for wine.  They serve great food and wine in a comfortable atmosphere.  We had a grotto style room to ourselves with a huge display of wines (which I was told are owned by individuals and displayed like a collection).  The owner once worked as a software developer and decided to open the place 6 years ago.  And it seems to be doing really well.  We were able to pre-select a meal of options for our guests to choose and picked out a few wines for the table.  Brix’s is in a really nice plaza that is already decorated for Christmas!  I think they start before Halloween around here…crazy!!!

Over the years I have really enjoyed listening to updates on how the team is doing on a personal level and it is so nice that the team has been together through the six years.  They are all very interesting, talented and it’s fun to hear how they all got here and what they like to do for fun!



Autumn “thank you” office party

Orange Theory

A fellow fitness enthusiast friend of mine told me that Orange Theory (which is a workout place) is offering a free trial class and suggested we try it together.  Inspired by my blog, I thought, why not try it and write about it?   I do plenty of fitness (sometimes every day of the week), but sometimes you have to change things up a little.  There will be less tennis during the holidays, so maybe a little new fitness routine may be in order.


The Orange Theory studio is definitely new and kind of small.  The lighting in the studio is lit with big brilliant orange lights.  The class can have 20 people (maybe a little more) and depending on the popularity of the class they can have multiple groups.  The first thing you do is put on a heart monitor.  They call their class types endurance, strength, power or a combination.   We spent about 20 minutes on a tread mill, and the rest split between a rowing machine and some floor exercises that incorporated some Pilates like movements and equipment like the TRX.   The treadmill exercise was at heart rate intervals.  So the theory, as they say, is to keep your heart rate in the orange zone when you “push it”(for me that was about 150 beats per minute) for about 20 minutes of the class.  That way you will keep burning calories for up to 36 hours (that would be the after burn effect, or a speed up in metabolism).  They split the treadmill work into three groups: “base pace”,  “push it” and “all out”.  And that was split into three more categories based on if you are a power walker, jogger or runner.  There are monitors with your name on it so that you can see your heart rate and the percentage of time you are in the target zone.  This is also important because your goal is to stay in that zone 84% of the time.  And then there is something called a splat point which is earned by remaining in the target zone for a minute.

I’m not a big fan of the treadmill, but I do like the interval training that this offers.  The rowing was more momentum oriented which for me, a big Pilates advocate, is abnormal. The floor work was the same, too fast.  Just because you do more reps at a fast pace doesn’t get you results if you think of working out in Pilates terms.  Slow and controlled is the Pilates way.  I had some questions too, the instructor demo’d the exercise once and was almost too busy to spend additional time explaining.  I guess I am really spoiled by the attention I get at the Pilates studio.  My Pilates instructor is really careful with the 8 in her class watching to make sure your position is correct so that you don’t get hurt.   I don’t feel like this level of attention is given because the instructor has so many to look after.   That is a big red flag, especially as you get older.  I need to be careful working out.  Fitness is something that can turn into injury that will prohibit me from playing tennis.  And I’m not about to let that happen.  I like the slow and controlled strength training you get out of Pilates and the balance work.

Overall the best thing about the class for me was the interval training for your heart.  And for me that is important with tennis.  So many times you go all out in tennis, then have to recover.   The rest, was concerning for me because of the possibility of injury.  I don’t know how places like this make it with easy injury risk.  I think my friend and I were the oldest in the class, but we “killed it”…for first timers.


The cost was not bad.  It’s $59 for once a week for a month.  And $99 for two or three times, and $159 for as many times as you like.  No contract.  And you can just show up for $28. I burned 400 calories. Whoo hoo!



Orange Theory

What the Lululemon girls say

This week I played in a league doubles tennis match against some ladies from Katy.  These girls were very fit and had on Lululemon skirts.  Each lady wore a complementary color to the other so it wasn’t matchy match.  Anyway their appearance was a bit intimidating, but you can never judge a book by its cover!  One of the ladies was from Canada, (Lululemon happens to be an athletic store based out of Canada, and in my opinion is pricey).   We lost in a third set tie break, but I was pretty happy we gave them some competition.   Tennis ladies come from all different places, sometimes we play yuppie types from clubs and sometimes we play people from regular community centers.  One of the ladies at this match was talking about a restaurant in downtown Houston called Ruggles Black.  I was intrigued with talk of chicken enchiladas and coffee served with a chocolate spoon and a macaroon.  They said the food was is mostly healthy.   My husband and daughter happened to be downtown, they asked if I would like to come down for dinner.  I thought, perfect timing to try this place.


The food was spectacularly presented.  My husband ordered a crab tower, I ordered the chicken enchiladas (the girl’s recommendation) and my daughter ordered Pho.  What is Paleo?  Well for one, it’s what 80% of the dishes served at this restaurant are.  Paleo is a diet of lean meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds and healthy fats.  Foods that are not Paleo are dairy, grains, processed food & sugars, legumes, starches and alcohol.  Supposedly the benefits are reduced allergies, balanced energy and improved sleep patterns (overall healthiness).  I was told the tortillas were made out of almond flour (lower in carbohydrates and starch than regular flour).  They were tasty so I didn’t miss the refined flour.

My daughter wanted a bite of my mashed potatoes, and said oh! That is smashed cauliflower.   Needless to say my husband said that he only went there for me.  And the food was way too expensive.  On a scale of 1-4 dollar signs it got 2 which Yelp says is between $11-30 a person.  To me I would rate it 4 dollar signs, just because I thought it was really expensive.  We did order 2 – $10 deserts and a drink so maybe that’s what made me think it was so much more expensive.  Still, eating out IS expensive!  I think it was worth it to save up for this experience by eating pretty much peanut butter and banana sandwiches for the week.   The experience was nice. I would have no problem eating food the Paleo way…tasty!  It sucks that healthy food is more expensive.   Back in suburbia, most of the time I think it’s more fun to try new recipes off of Pinterest rather than going out.  To keep costs down it helps to cut down the recipe so that you don’t make so much if you are not going to eat all of it.

What the Lululemon girls say