Friday, December 3, 2010

Sunshine: St. Arnold's Brewery

While visiting Houston, by dad suggested that we take a trip to the St. Arnold's brewery. I have no idea that just 15 minutes from my house was the entire headquarters for this Texas beer.

The $7 entry fee includes a tour of the small brewery (mine was by the owner of St. Arnold's), a souvenir half pint glass, and  four samples. The secret is to purchase an additional pint glass and then double the amount of samples.

This is a wonderful way to spend a day. Individuals are encouraged to stay, bring food, and have an indoor picnic in the large dining hall.

Plus, if you are 21 and up, you get thi awesome stamp on your hand:

Lollipops: Cajun Spaghetti

It all began as I was leaving a family house in Lafayette. I was sore off of my family forgetting the biggest suggestion I had made for Thanksgiving dinner: Boudin sausage. As I looked in the pantry for something to take with me, I noticed a large jar of Cajun spaghetti sauce. I grabbed the jar, tossed it in my bag, and prayed that it did not break on my journey home.

This was a simple recipe that my lack of cooking skills could follow: brown a pound of ground beef, drain. Add spaghetti sauce and heat in a sauce pan. On the side, boil spaghetti.

That's it- I can do that. Combine with some garlic bread, and a delicious meal is created!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rainbows: Christmas movies

Jingling bells, snow, outlandish love love of Christmas movies is a not to secret obsession. Though I could indulge in these any time of year, during the holiday month between Thanksgiving and Christmas my love reaches an all time high.

Some of them are classic, some are cheesy, and some are not good at all. But these Christmas movies are fantastic in my mind.

The Santa Clause

This Tim Allen movie shows him as a career focused father whose life takes a turn when he accidentally kills the previous Santa. Due to a clause in Santa's contract, Allen becomes the new Santa Claus. Though nobody believes him as he gains weight and continually grows a beard, he begins his new career as the ultimate gift giver.

Miracle on 34th Street
Aside from "It's A Wonderful Life", this movie is my favorite "classic" Christmas film. The black and white story tells of a mall Santa who claims to be the real Kris Kringle. The daughter of a mall employee instantly believes that his beard and demeanor with children shows that he's the real thing in spite of her mother's skepticism. Though I am past the age of believing in Santa, this movie always gets me close to believing again.

Jingle All the Way

Oh yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger. In a super hero costume. At Christmastime. This was my go to movie as a child, and watching it fills me with joy today. The movie revolves around Schwarzenegger searching for an impossible to get toy (Turbo Man) on Christmas Eve. Though Schwarzenegger may not be the greatest actor of our time, this movie will always remain a classic in my mind.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lollipops: The apple pie

For the first time in my life, I attempted to make a pie from scratch. Here is the recipe that my mother and I followed:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 7 cups thinly sliced pared apples
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Pastry for double-crust pie (9 inches)
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 1 egg white
  • Additional sugar
In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour and spices; set aside. 
In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice. 
Add sugar mixture; toss well to coat. 
Line a 9-in. pie pan with half the pastry. 
Place apple filling into crust; dot with butter. 
Roll out remaining pastry to fit top of pie. 
Cut a few slits in top. beat egg white until foamy; brush over pastry. 
Sprinkle sugar on top. 
Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes. Increase temperature to 400 degrees F and bake 10-15 minutes more or until golden. 

Our pie turned out pretty well, and I will now share a few photos of the process:

Wash apples
Paring dozens of apples (while watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade):
 This is seven cups of apple
 Lemon juice and spices
 All of the ingredients
 Pre-baking and pre-crust
 A "G" for Ginger

 Final products

Sunshine: Winter weather brings coats and stuff

There's a feeling of joy associated with winter. Putting on gloves, hats, and coats makes the time of cold weather feel a little happier.

This year, the fashion trend for coats are:

Bold colors



These coats are so much more fun than a simple black pea coat (example, Ginger):
I also love scarves, knit hats, and gloves. I worry that Texas is not the ideal place to splurge on these, but I love to look at them and dream of living in a place with real winter weather.

Rainbows: Christmas Shopping

I never thought that I would resort to online shopping this holiday season, but I have found many great deals and unique gifts for my friends and family.

A great site for jewelry and other little trinkets is Etsy. This is an outlet for small businesses and crafty individuals who want to share their passion. I have purchased many necklaces and more for my friends. This way, I can find personalized items that perfectly suit the people in my life.

I have also realized the importance of printed photos. Many members of my family will be receiving photo albums that I have had developed at Wal-Mart. Photographic gems like this just have to be framed (yes, that is my father):
This is my new favorite photo album for travel prints.

I have also found Amazon to be a great venue for unusual items. I have a friend with an attraction to anything dinosaur or sandwich themed. With Amazon, I have bought her dinosaur sandwich cutter and sandwich holder. It would be impossible to find such a combination easily.

I love buying gifts for the people close to me. I once convinced my 5 year old brother that I was Santa Claus. With these online stores, I may be getting one step closer to that occupation.

Sunshine: Give me that old time movie

In the time before White Chicks, Gigli and RV, movies set the standards of what made a classic film. With no real predecessors, the directors, actors, and producers had to find their own ways to portray tales. Back when Technicolor and talking films were revolutionary, the films did not rely on fancy lighting or animated effects, but the talent and innovation of the crews.

Nothing makes me happier than the viewing of a classic film. While I am partial to Gone with the Wind, I also enjoy the musicals of the 1940's. Anyone suggesting to view Singin' in the Rain or The Wizard of Oz will automatically get on my good side.

Here are some more of my favorites: