Icy Day Workouts, Cupcakes and Puppies

What a strange combination, this really does sum up the highlights of the week.  In Houston we had the ice storm-ageddon.  Schools and businesses shut down, the roads were icy especially the many overpass bridges that are around here.  The city doesn’t have enough vehicles to salt the roads, we hardly ever have this kind of weather.

I love running at night, however with the patches of ice, I figured if I want to extend my ability to run, better do it safetly.  So that means the dreaded gym.  Moving to this apartment has the gym “perk”.   The overall goal is to workout for an hour. There are treadmills, cycle machines, elliptical and some kind of stair thing… Oh and weight machines too.  People were working out on these machines and I snagged the last one.  It’s kind of embarrassing when you have no clue what to do to get started.  After moving and just pressing buttons, I got the machine to work.  My goal was two miles, there was a TV playing a show I never watch without sound so the time goes by like a hamster running on a wheel…booooring!  The people cleared out and I pretty much had the place to myself so I moved to the cycle and eliptical machines and tried a few minutes of each, this time there was no one to watch my awkwardness of fumbling with the machine to get it to work.  Lastly I found what I call the Pilate ball, something I actually know!  The ball had exercises printed on it and they were things we normally do in Pilates.  The hour was finally over….by the end of the week we are in the 70s!!!!


Many people trapped indoors put their culinary skills to work.  In the beginning of the week, we scrounged around to find things to eat because no one wanted to walk to the store.  However, a friend made a night of baking cupcakes and that sounded good to me!  Maybe a cupcake with fresh strawberries?  I came across this Martha Stewart recipe which seemed perfect.  Martha Stewart is the queen of all things home.  And her recipe for strawberry butter cream swiss meringue frosting is a considerable feat.  The cupcakes came out great, but the first time I attempted the frosting it was a flop.  My husband was irritated with all of the mixing that was going on.  I tried again and the frosting worked out for the most part, I used some complicated frosting piper that mixes three icings because it was the only one in the store with a coupler…frustrating!




There is at least one shining star and that is baby Luna.  A puppy is like having a baby in the home.  I don’t like to leave her more than 3 hours.  The exercise pen connected to the cage thing didn’t work out.  Apparently she is a climber at 3 lbs she can scale the wall no problem.  She even figured out out how to get out of the cage, so I had to clip it closed.  This is for her own good because she puts EVERYTHING in her mouth.  I’m so afraid she is going to choke on something or eat something that will hurt her.  We took her to go see the house and I bought a puppy sling to carry her, she wasn’t too thrilled about it.  Oh well, most people love to see her and our few visitors come just to see her!

pooch purse

Icy Day Workouts, Cupcakes and Puppies

24 hours in San Francisco

What an interesting 24 hours ! My Aunt’s 80th birthday was on MLK day and she asked that we have lunch with her in San Francisco to celebrate . The stars aligned and we were able to make it happen. Not without some twists. Have you ever missed a flight ? I booked a really cheap flight and looked at the 2nd stop departure thinking it was my takeoff time . When I checked the flight I saw that it was departing in an hour. Knowing there was probably zero chance of making it , I tried anyway . I actually got to the airport at 710am for a 735am take off time and they wouldn’t let me go through security and head to the gate . To my surprise they rebooked me but I would travel to Chicago first and into San Francisco arriving at midnight (no charge and I had a basic economy ticket) . I missed a day. However I still made it for my Aunt’s birthday .

San Francisco in 24 hours … I met my husband at midnight, we slept then got up and went to pier 39 to see the sea lions .  We took a cable car (F) train there for $3/per person.  It took about 20 minutes from the Palace Hotel and if you ask for a ticket you can use it for 90 minutes on other rides.

cable car

The seals were wrestling and pushing each other off the platforms . It looked like they were playing . It is about 50 degrees here , chilly.


We got back to meet my aunt at the Palace Hotel’s Garden Court . We had a nice lunch and I met her friends and travel buddies . My cousin was there as well .  The hotel is very classy, San Francisco-y.

About the Palace hotel, the building originated in 1875 by a shaky banker and was the tallest building in San Francisco for more than a decade according to Wikipedia.  In 1906 an earthquake and subsequent fire did major damage and what stands today is a restoration reopening from 1909.   The garden court is the centerpiece and has soaring glass ceilings and is decorated with elaborate chandeliers and marble columns.


The entry way to the hotel has this arched ceiling and more spectacular chandliers. The glass doors also have an elaborate decorative trim.


The corridors are very nicely done with a soft color scheme and updated carpet in a unique design.  The lighted chandeliers and sconces are a little more modern with the drum shade shape and the doors look like they are older being made of solid wood with fancy brass door nobs.  The detailed molding in the hallway adds character.  Inside the rooms are very tall which is a surprise when you walk in to at least 12 foot or higher ceilings.coridoor

I also loved the artwork around the hotel.  There is a mix and a lot of it is from the 1950s.  I enjoyed seeing black and white pictures of young Americans and the clothing of that time period.  This particular picture is one of my favorites.


There is a lounge called the Pied piper.  The painting in there is an original commissioned from artist Maxfield Parrish for the 1909 reopening.   He was paid $6000 for his art and it measures 6ft by 16ft.  The painting depicts the tale of the Pied Piper leading citizens out of the town of Hamelin, Germany (Wikidpedia).   It has moved 3 times once during the prohibition period.  The hotel tried to sell the painting and as a result to major opposition it was restored and brought to it’s rightful place…an amazing piece of history ❤


After a really nice lunch (I had a Thai chicken salad and my husband had braised ribs) and in the spirit of my aunt who loves to travel and explore, we went to Fort Point to view the Golden Gate Bridge.  This time we took an Uber .


What can you say about the Golden Gate Bridge?  It is spectacular! We have been across before and toured Muir Woods and Sausalito, there was no time this trip . We saw surfers catching waves in their wetsuits . I spotted a light house on the pacific side of the bridge and as per usual we couldn’t get to it and it was closed for the Martin Luther King holiday .

Next stop, Ghiradelli square to purchase the famous San Francisco chocolate for the kids.

We had dinner at the Water Bar. Hoping for pacific fish, I ended up with a tasty striped bass from Maryland.  I do like bass, we thought being on the pacific side there would be more pacific options. We had an amazing view of the bay bridge which is lit up at night .


Back to Houston early .  Again United was good to me, changed my flight to make it back to Houston ahead of the winter storm.   The airport is closed tomorrow due to weather !

24 hours in San Francisco

January is Ruff

With most of the country in freezing temps, there hasn’t been much to do outside.  This is super frustrating, normally running in the cold isn’t a problem (upper 30s) below 30 is a too cold to do anything.   I guess working out in a gym inside is the solution.   I feel so bad not to move around!  This week has been about cooking and hanging with an 8 week old puppy who has exhausted me.   She does not like to be left alone.  Puppies are so cute and very demanding of time.   I went to potty training class today and will make a few adjustments to the potty training.


I removed the pad in her crate which I learned needs to be earned (given after no mistakes) .  I have all rooms that have carpet closed off.  In her pen I put potty pads all over the floor and will remove them one by one as a week goes by.   She is allowed out of the pen supervised for safety.  Next week she will have her 1st vet visit.  And the interesting thing I learned is for good socialization she needs to be introduced to 100 different people and dogs.  As I looked at the class that had dogs the size of a 6 month old German Shepard, I thought, how am I going to accomplish the socializing with a 1 lb spunky puppy?  Other dogs will have her for a snack!  This is the challenge for the year!

Staying at home this week with no tennis means more time for cooking for the family.  On this weeks menu?  Potato soup, stew, meatloaf with spaghetti, chicken tacos and chicken tortilla soup.  I grew up with meatloaf as a weekly menu item, we never had it with spaghetti.  This was a friend of my son’s idea, he has it all of the time.  Their family is from Mexico, so I looked up recipes that might have a latin flare.  I found one that had a sofrito base, onions, celery and carrots.  You cook the sofrito base add worcestershire and ketchup.  Then you add raw ground italian sausage and ground beef, panko and an egg.  I bet his mom used chorizo for sausage given that chorizo is in a lot of Mexican dishes, but I didn’t try it.  I put the meat mixture in a a loaf pan and 50 minutes later in the oven it was done.  My son loved it served with spaghetti noodles in marinara sauce.  I had it over spaghetti squash, (once you mix it all together) yum!


I was really excited that my daughter’s Christmas gift came in this week.  I wanted to help her cook her first meal in the toaster oven.  Her studio apartment doesn’t have an oven.  Sadly she wasn’t happy with the dials on the oven.  It is a Cuisinart which is a great brand, and it’s compact size which is important to conserve space.  I made her ziti (actually a recipe she found).  OMG that is really good.   To the pasta, I drenched it in my simple alfredo sauce (butter, whipping cream and Kraft parmesan cheese) then mixed the marinara with it and I added browned ground sausage. Then you just melt the mozzarella cheese in the toaster oven and it did that well!  I tried out toasting, all good.  And finally baking cookies!  It didn’t work at 350 degrees, the top of the cookies got too brown too fast.  I changed the setting to 300 and had perfect cookies!

toaster oven

January is Ruff

Luna New Year

Our New Year began with welcoming baby Luna. Coincidence that it’s also a full moon?  I wanted to get another dog after enough time past since we lost our first dog in April.  I have been over to friends houses and left early after spending time with their dogs and missing mine so much.  I ran with my sister-in-law’s dog over Christmas…again missing the companionship of a dog.  Since we are in an apartment my thought was that we would wait until we moved into the house, however, another thought was that we can get through some of the puppy training in a smaller space.  I have been following some breeding websites online and decided to call the one near me.  They didn’t have any babies posted, but I figured I would find out when they might have puppies again.  To my surprise they had two available.  I asked the family to go with me and see.  Our last dog was really nice to me and my husband and the family for the most part, but was really mean to everyone else.

We walked in and saw two Bichon puppies.  My husband immediately picked one out and my son liked the other.  My daughter also liked the one my husband picked out, a spunky runt.  This is much like our first dog.  The difference this time is that I promise to train this dog and to socialize her.  I see how we failed last time.  These dogs are so tiny I was over protective of the fragile little body.  That feeling came back again. I am going to fight it.  She is about the size of a guinea pig.

I am going a little crazy.  I got a small crate for her and she cries to be let out. So of course she is sleeping in our bed already.  When I leave, she has to be crated.  I thought I would try a pen, I even connected it to the crate (usually animals like a place to go that is covered).  I went to the store and within 5 minutes my husband couldn’t take her crying and when I returned she was happily snuggling in his lap.  Oh no!  We are in trouble.  The little pup is already trying to rule the house.

The breeder was crate training the puppy, she tries to only pee there.  NO! So now I’m trying to train her on a potty pad next to the door.  This is a hit or miss on day two.  Oh boy, we have some sleepless nights and a lot of work ahead of us.   I love the breed.  The Bichon just reminds me of a companion, loyal and will just hang out with you, they don’t shed and I love their curly frizzy hair.  She follows me everywhere.  Currently she is at my feet with her head on them.  I spent the last two days bonding.  I don’t normally like moving only a little, however, I believe this was necessary time together.  And it is below 30 degrees outside, so what else are you going to do? (There is no skiing in Houston!)


Luna New Year

End of the Year Wrap up

It is a challenge to keep up your cheer when you have things hitting you from every end.  Whenever you can go out and do something you enjoy…savor every moment!  It’s your time to recharge so you can think clearer.  On the way to visit family for Christmas I took advantage of some time to hike part of the Hill of Life in Austin.  Austin is so very cool!  They have lots of outdoor things to do.  Friends from the Big Bend trip told me about this hike.  It’s on Austin’s Barton Creek greenbelt.  The best I can guess is that this is a 6.7 mile hike one way.  I knew that I would only get a taste of this with my kids and figured we would walk to the water…which is spectacular and back and I was guessing it would be a couple of miles.  You have to know the capability of your company!  This trailhead begins in an older neighborhood.  There are many people hiking with dogs and even mountain bikers.

hill of life

You walk down to the water and the “hill” is the way back.  The rocks are a challenge, there are pea size to grapefruit size rocks.  A lot of unevenness.  When we got to the bottom we saw clear water.  There were two waterfalls not far apart.


If it were warmer, I would be swimming!  My daughter got me some Chacos for Christmas, very cool water shoes.  It was too cold to wear them this day.  We met a man with a Brittany and a black dog, they were well behaved despite their venture way ahead of the man who brought them.  We made our way back up the hill in time to travel an additional 5 or so miles to the Austin 360 bridge also known as the Pennybacker bridge before sunset.  This was my daughter’s idea and a great one it was!  So my husband is not the hiker, however my kids were intrigued.  I’ll take whoever will go with me.


You have two paths, one steeper than the other.  At the top, to the left you can see the Austin skyline.  Once we climbed to the top we saw a marriage proposal in rose petals with sand and lined rocks.  So sweet this was done at sunset.  You can also see cedar trees lining the highway, people decorate them as Christmas trees.

cedar trees

This was an amazing day.  We had a great time together and then had a really great dinner.  Christmas was amazing, the food the company, everything.  I know how lucky I am.  I hope you find your happiness too.  This is the BEST part of life!

End of the Year Wrap up


One thing I have learned about recovery is sometimes it goes quickly sometimes slowly.  This is something that I have repeated for many many months so I know.  Today is the beginning day of strength recovery for my mom.  She was transferred to a rehab hospital to work on getting that strength back.  Yesterday as soon as I came into her room I wanted to get her out of bed and into the chair. Believe it or not you actually do use your muscles to help keep you up right even sitting in chair.  The hospital mom was in was good for getting her back to health, however not much more can be accomplished past a certain point.  A therapist came in and worked with her for 20 minutes, today in her new location, she will get 3 hours a day of therapy that will help her and my dad at home.

We waited forever for the transfer transport.  This causes issues with the next dose of medicine, meals and insulin.  When we finally got outside, I asked my mom what is the first thing you notice?  She read the letters on the transport vehicle which were actually pretty far away.  This makes me sad, the first thing I noticed was the warm air, the blue sky with no clouds and a pretty flamboyant tree near a peaceful pond.  It was her first time outside since December 4.

When you work yourself up over an expectation, you are are setting yourself up for disappointment.  Another thing I learned from recovery.  It is so true!  And expectations can be linked to control.  There is no way you can control most outcomes…yet another thing about recovery.  Once you accept this fact, you begin to see things clearer.  That is not to say forget your hopes;  No! hope is the one thing you can always hold on to.  Hope and expectations are two different things.  Hope can evolve into what you need.  It’s one thing to say I hope to walk again.  The very definition of the outcome of what you can acheive may be very different than what you expected.  And still that outcome can end up being better than you were, liveable or even better than what you thought you could acheive!

My dad really wants mom to come home for Christmas.  It’s a strain to be going back and forth to the rehab hospital.  While I hope she can come home by Christmas, I also know that pinpointing a specific day may not be the best outcome.  She is really weak at night and needs the gift of time to work up that strength so that home care will be acheivable.  In the end, that is the outcome we are really hoping for.  We will see what happens.  Merry Christmas!



Staying Positive Day 4

Ok, it’s hard to shake me.  I’m staying on that positive path, I will say people try to shake it out of you if you let them.  My normal routine keeps me up beat and I do mean exercise and taking care of yourself really helps.  I must say I’m not doing that and it hurts.  Still eye on the prize.

I walked into the hospital today and mom is doing ok.  Today, my goal was to get her out of bed.  And that was a goal accomplished.  That in itself needs to be recognized!!!!  It was really nice that my mom was eating by herself.  The therapist helped her get to a wheel chair so that I could get her out of that room she has been in the hospital since December 4.  I showed her the beautiful Christmas tree, the nurses station, the secret room where there is a large supply of crackers and where the linens are.  We couldn’t go far.  And I showed her the window she can’t see because it is behind the bed in a corner.  We spent the day talking.  I know the procedure is to get help to move her, but by the time she says she needs to move, 40 minutes later the nurses show up…again I know they are busy.  So against the policy, I got my mom from the wheel chair to the chair, to a toilet chair.  I’m pretty sure the therapist thought getting to one was enough for the day.  I pushed it.  She got to brush her hair, brush her teeth, stretch her shoulders, get out of bed and see something different….HUGE!!!!

I thought my dad would be thrilled of mom’s progress, but given his age and where she was before the illness, I believe he was disappointed.  Regardless, she did amazing today.  Progress is slow especially when you are older.  It’s so hard to give ourselves time.  The situation does present a decision point of what to do next.  He needs assistance and there are options not all of them favorable.  I recognize this is a tough part of getting old.  Decisions.

Tomorrow is a new day.  Out the window, I see and appreciate an amazing sunset on an eventful day.  The nurse told me, the ones that have hope are the ones that do the best.  I’m not really sure where my mom is with hope, she is fragile and has been through so much illness.  We discussed her routine at home and how much better it was than being in the hospital.  I hope that I didn’t give her a false sense that she would be home sooner than later.



Staying Positive Day 4