Thursday, September 27, 2012

Trip Planning, Anniversaries and Weddings

In just two short weeks, Paul and I will be celebrating our first anniversary!  We’ve discussed taking a road trip (have I mentioned how much I love road trips?) and he likes the idea of Galveston.  We had also talked about going to the biggest state fair in the country, Texas on 9/28-10/21, held in Dallas.  Texas State Fair.   Maybe we’ll combine the two?
We loved our simple ceremony and though we wish we could have had our families and friends with us, when you are our age and you’ve been married before, it’s nice to keep it small and intimate.  We couldn’t have asked for a more romantic weekend last year for our wedding in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  We stayed at the same place our ceremony was performed, the Rock Cottage Garden Inn.  I wonder if I'm the only girl who kissed a horse on her wedding day?

I'll point out that I was close to six feet tall in this picture with heels and big hair so you can imagine how tall this horse was!  Paul wasn't the least jealous of me kissing him either.
I cannot say enough about how wonderful everything was about our wedding and visit there.  They arranged everything and it was perfect.  I look forward to going back there again, perhaps in December this year.  I read something about a cookie festival!  Besides bacon, cookies are one of my favorite food groups!
Weddings are a tricky thing to plan and I went through a lot of angst trying to plan something that wouldn’t break our budget (we had just purchased our new condo) and still be memorable and meaningful.  First we wanted to go on a cruise but then there were ship crashes, fires and onboard illnesses all over the news and we decided why take a chance with our special day? 
Then we looked into a beach wedding in Georgia or Florida.  But prices and locations varied widely and we learned the weather wouldn’t even be warm enough for swimming during our chosen dates.  That defeats the purpose of getting married at the beach!  And they were expensive with every tiny little thing being an extra charge.
We discussed Vegas but that just isn’t my thing.  I wanted more serious and romantic.  At first we joked about getting married in Arkansas, but the more I looked into it, the better I liked it.  Paul can be a little hard to please.  Yes, he’s picky.  Remember, this is the man who won’t eat the skin off pudding.  He had lots of requirements.  I wanted a romantic inn or B&B.  He wanted a cottage or cabin with privacy.  I wanted a location with an onsite chapel.  I’m pretty sure he said he wouldn’t stay in a girly room (pink with lace and ruffles).  We both wanted close to town. 
It took some searching but after my first conversation with Kathy at Rock Cottage Gardens, I knew I was in good hands.  She organized everything exactly the way we wanted it and is an amazing chef.  Our breakfasts were delicious and Gloria who was our wedding officiant and who also assists at the inn was perfect.  She took us two different locations and shot our wedding photos that urned out gorgeous.  She had us laughing constantly, especially at breakfast when the can of whipped cream misfired and covered her and half the people at breakfast with whipped cream!  Both ladies treated us like family.  We can’t wait to go back.

Our wedding turned out so well, it makes me wonder about weddings and how much people spend on them.  Sometimes putting themselves or their parents into debt and turning an important event into a nightmare to plan and coordinate.  It’s a wonder people don’t end up hating each other by the end of it all!  Who came up with the idea that weddings have to be so over the top?  As made obvious by Hollywood, a million dollar wedding can be a complete farce ending in divorce three months later.  Are people in love with the wedding and not their partner?  This is one of those things that make me go hmmm.
When in Eureka Springs, we visited Turpentine Creek and saw all the beautiful animals and Paul sat in the bear chair.  It is a wonderful large animal sanctuary and worth a visit and donations to help care for the animals.

I need to add that I found out via Facebook last night that my best friend snuck off to Vegas and got married.  I didn't even find out via her Facebook but because she was tagged in the photos of a stranger.  My feelings are hurt.  At least when Paul and I got married, everyone knew in advance we were going.  Her new husband rubbed it in when I asked.  I can't believe I encouraged her to date him!  Hmpf!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Saturday Goodbye Party for Jonathan

My best friend Kim’s husband is going into the Navy for boot camp any day now.  Their neighbors held a goodbye party for him Saturday evening and invited us to join them. 

I made another batch of my coleslaw and Heather and Paul helped me make frosted brownie bites (bite size brownies).  Cowboy Paul went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and got a mini muffin pan for us and Heather mixed up the batter and used the small ice cream scoop to fill the tin.  We baked for 20 minutes (will do 15 minutes next time) and took them out to cool.  The directions on the muffin tin said not to use nonstick spray or oil on the pan so we didn’t.  We had to pull the brownies loose by going around the edges with a toothpick and popping them out.  After they were thoroughly cooled, we frosted them with Duncan Hines sour cream frosting (I made sure to sample a spoonful first to make sure it was fit to eat).  While I frosted the brownies, Paul grated Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate and we sprinkled that on top. 
These turned out delicious and were so easy to make.  The only thing we will change next time is to cook less time.  Paul thought they were too done.  I thought they were just right but wouldn’t mind them being gooier.  I don’t necessarily trust his taste though.  He hates the skin on top of homemade pudding!  How can you trust someone who doesn't like the pudding skin?
The party went great and we stayed several hours until the temperature dropped into the 50’s.  We were outside on their deck and it got too cold for us.  Especially since Heather’s allergies were flared up.  Seems the cardboard dust off the jig saw puzzle she was doing stirred them up and had her sneezing.  Who knew puzzles could be a hazard to your health?!
I'm already getting sad that Kim will relocate after Jonathan is out of basic training.  I will miss her lots and plan to visit when they get settled.  Jonathan is going to let me have his horse for free lease while they are gone and since I love riding Alpo, I am thrilled!  He isn't much to look at but this horse flat covers trails like nobody's business!  He never does anything wrong, no buck, kick, bite or rear.  Can't wait to get him.

Friday Night Out

After a long busy week of work and the drama that goes with it, we decided it would be a good night to go out for dinner, just the two of us.  We hadn’t eaten Greek food for awhile so I used my trusty Around Me app on my phone and found My Big Fat Greek Restaurant in Olathe, Kansas.  We arrived at 5:45 and there was no wait.  The décor is nicely done and more upscale than any other Greek restaurant I’ve visited in town. 
Braden was our server and he did a great job.  For our appetizer we ordered the dolmades appetizer.  He brought them to our table when he came back to take our food order and they were piping hot and delicious.  Maybe the best dolmades I’ve ever eaten and I’ve eaten a lot since they are one of my favorite Mediterranean foods.  Paul ordered the lamb chops, medium rare, and opted for the Greek salad instead of the normal sides of rice and steamed vegetables.  I ordered the chicken breast pita with Greek salad.
Our salads came just as we were finishing our dolmades.  They were quite large and probably would be a meal in themselves if you ate the whole thing.  I only nibbled it and saved room for my entrée which came out very quickly too. 
Paul’s lamb chops were very nicely displayed on the plate.  On the downside, they weren’t cut to equal thickness and none were really thick enough.  The thinner ones were done all the way through.  He did say the flavor was very good.
My chicken pita was huge.  The pita bread was fresh, warm and delicious, filled with a grilled chicken breast that had been sliced.  It was delicious and something I will definitely want to order again.  I was only able to eat about a third of it and got a to-go box for the rest along with my salad.
We looked at the dessert menu and I wanted the vanilla custard with vanilla ice cream topped with caramel.  Paul refused to spend $7 for that and instead ordered the baklava for $5.  I don’t eat baklava because it usually has walnuts and I’m allergic to them.  After he got his two-person serving that Braden confirmed had some walnuts in it along with the pistachios, he told me I could order my own dessert.  I asked if he was going to have them bring me a separate ticket for the $7 dessert.  Since I was already full from my dinner, I didn’t get a dessert.  Paul’s must have been excellent because he ate the whole thing!
Just as we were getting ready to leave, loud music started playing.  Four of the servers and the manager got up and did a dance around the entire dining area (I think it’s called The Grapevine?)  The song got faster and faster, and at the end two young men came out and finished off the dance around the room.  They were fantastic and everyone clapped and cheered.  What a fun end to our meal!
Afterwards we went to the Bass Pro Shop, on the opposite side of I-35 highway.  I found a great puzzle for Heather, my daughter, and I to work on.  She is a puzzle aficionado and can finish the most complicated puzzles faster than anyone I’ve ever seen.   She is also the only person I know who can lick her elbow.  Yes it’s true.  I’m trying to talk her into letting me record it so we can put it on YouTube and she can pay for college with her unique skill.  So far she is refusing my kind offer as videographer. 
I enjoy looking all over at Bass Pro Shop.  They have great outdoor equipment for any hunting or fishing sport you might enjoy.  They also have a section with children's toys, kitchen and household items. 
We spent some time upstairs at the gun counter with a great sales assistant named Gary.  He showed me several high quality handguns that would work well for concealed carry.  Paul and I are going to take the class to get our concealed carry licenses (it’s less if two people take it together).  The world is getting to be a more dangerous place and while I don't know if I will ever actually carry a concealed weapon, I like to have that option. 
I grew up on a ranch and everyone in my family hunted and shot trap so I've handled guns my entire life.  My daddy, grandfather, aunt and uncle were all in law enforcement.  I realize there is a big debate about whether people should be able to have guns or not.  Everyone is entitlted to their own opinion and they can follow their own belief. 
I liked four different hand guns that I wrote down and will try to shoot at the Bullet Hole where you can rent guns to fire at their range.  Though I have to admit, when I saw the price of my favorite gun, it costs the same amount as the fancy new bed I want from Nebraska Furniture Mart!

I must add before I finish this post, that Heather finished off my Greek food leftovers just as soon as I got home.  She thought it was great too.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thursday Night at Prairie Manor

Cowboy Paul was marinating country style pork ribs when I got home from work.  He recently discovered a local store that carries thick juicy ribs that have so much meat on them you have to use a fork and knife to eat them.  Don’t tell anyone I used utensils to eat ribs, I would lose my hillbilly card! 
He fired up his giant Weber Rancher Kettle grill that is big enough to hold a whole pig or a couple dozen burgers and hotdogs all at once!  Our patio isn't big enough and I may have mentioned a couple of times that it is a little large when he’s cooking for just two of us.  Cowboy Paul said, “Its fine.”  Have I mentioned he is a man of few words?
My kitchen assignment for the evening was to make coleslaw.  I pulled out my trusty sauce pan, added 1/2 cup of white sugar, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup white vinegar, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and a few shakes of onion powder and heated over medium heat until the sugar was melted.  I set it aside to cool while I shook a bag of shredded cabbage into a large bowl. 

Paul was busy fixing BBQ baked beans and grating an onion.  He grated enough extra for me to add about half a cup to my shredded cabbage.  Once the dressing was cooled, I drizzled it over the cabbage and onion mixture.  After mixing well I let it sit for a few minutes on the counter.  To me the flavors seem to blend better at room temperature.  Cowboy has other ideas about these things and he stuck the bowl in the fridge. 
I prefer Paul's homemade chimichuri sauce on the ribs and he prefers BBQ sauce on his. Looks like he is putting me on a diet now that I see how many ribs were for me and how many were for him!
I would like to mention that vinegar based coleslaw is great when you live where it’s hot and you like to take slaw to outdoor gatherings.  You don’t have to worry about food poisoning like you do with mayonnaise based slaw sitting out in the heat.
Dinner was delicious!  No jalapenos!  It was touch and go, Paul wanted to put them in his BBQ baked beans.  They didn't need heat, they needed bacon!
I asked him to share his chimichuri recipe with you, but he is very secretive about these things.  They are locked up in his head and he plans to write a cookbook.  I do know he uses fresh herbs from our patio herb pots.

During dinner, Cedric Montfort, our noisy alien mostly hairless cat was hanging off my leg trying to convince me he wouldn’t survive without ribs.  Unfortunately for him he begged on the side where Paul sits and Paul doesn’t believe critters should be fed at the table. 

 Actually Paul never had an indoor critter before marrying me and thinks all cats belong in the barn.  Can you imagine Cedric Montfort in a barn?
He can't either!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hillbilly Millie Writes a Blog

Hey y’all, I’m Hillbilly Millie.  I’m really not considered a hillbilly in my hometown of Savannah, Georgia, but Yankees seem to think anyone with a southern drawl is automatically a hillbilly. So who am I to argue now that I’m living in the land of Yankee people?  
Yes I like fried food and grits, lots of butter on almost everything, and bacon is its own food group.  Marrying a Texas rancher means that now I am really trying to embrace jalapenos in everything too. 

Since he thinks he’s the chuck wagon boss at Prairie Manor, I’m having quite a time of convincing him that a pint of peppers and bottle of Louisiana hot sauce isn’t needed in the chili, especially if other people have to eat it too! 
But that’s okay, he’s my John Wayne and I love him, spicy peppers and all. 
Pass the Rolaids please.