PicMonkey Collage - flying

Home again!  I told my brother Charlie (check out his latest blog post here!) that I think this is the longest time we’ve spent together since we were in high school – 11 days!  I am happy to report that my fear of flying is long gone.  I had no anxiety at all about any of the travel.  I think with all the travel I did last year it helped.  When you only fly once every few years I think you forget the normal sounds of the plane and I would always hear something and think “Is it supposed to sound like that?”  And the last several trips I took before Tony died I flew by myself, so I couldn’t hold anyone’s hand if I was scared.

While cleaning out my brothers garage, we found some of my Dad’s old stuff that Charlie now has – my brother is a Jr., so they have the same initials – that was my Dad’s car key ring – I had totally forgotten about it!  One thing I do miss about Texas?  Flip flop weather!  Although those shoes I bought gave me blisters on the side within a couple days of wearing them.  Get this guys – I actually bought brand new shoes!  Those flip flops cost $19.  I had only brought my gym shoes as another pair of shoes, so when we did a Goodwill run to drop stuff off, I popped in and bought a $2 pair of Columbia flip flops and ended up wearing those the rest of the trip.

I got one last visit with my stepson Joe and his wife Lizz.  As luck would have it Joe started a new job the first week I was there so couldn’t take any days off, and with all the work being done at my brothers house, our time together was short, but glad we were able to get together one last time before I left.  My niece Rachel and I met them at a place called Lupe Tortilla.   They are known for their fajitas, so Joe, Lizz and I decided to share the beef fajita plate.  Joe ordered two pounds of beef for the table – what I loved about this presentation is that all the elements were separate – the sautéed onions, peppers, etc.

PicMonkey Collage - fajita

I fought with them to pay the bill, but I won.  It wasn’t until the next day that I really looked at the receipt.  I saw that our total for dinner was $135, which I though was pricey, but I didn’t want to micromanage the bill at the table.  Um, one pound of fajitas?  $41.95 and we got two pounds!  No wonder – but you know what – the beef was perfectly cooked.  Super flavorful, tender and something I am going to do from now on when I make fajitas at home – a generous splash of lime at the end.  So good!

One of the big jobs that my brother and his wife hired professionals to do was to remove wallpaper from the kitchen.  Lori, I feel for you with all of your renovations at your house – but wallpaper is crazy hard to remove and takes so much time.   This was what it looked like at the end of day two!  And that laundry room?  Seriously took 3 of us like six hours to paint.  Have I mentioned that every single surface of their house is textured, so trying to get the paint to cover was crazy.

PicMonkey Collage - paint


And then just like that, it was time for me to head home.  My brother went back to work on Wednesday, so my niece Rachel dropped me off at the airport – thanks Rachel!  It was a touch cool when I left Austin – 65 degrees cool – and when I landed it was super windy and with the wind chill felt like 41.  Definitely not flip flop weather!  My guilty pleasure?  People magazine for $6.89 and I got a fruit and cheese package for the flight for lunch – which set me back $10.91 – gotta love airport prices!

If you can’t tell from my brothers work badge, he works at Apple’s headquarters.   They have a subsidized cafeteria and most menu items range in price from $5-$8.  You can get stuff like seared ahi steak with a ginger lime sauce.   But what does my brother eat nearly every day?  Ramen noodles.  I wish I was kidding, but I am not.  He’ll add a little peanut butter to the broth to add in some protein and flavor and he’s a happy camper.  Oh, and he eats the apples – all over the campus are baskets of different kind of apples that are free to employees.  All I know is that was one of the things I missed most about leaving my job at Sears corporate headquarters – the cafeteria there was amazeballs.

PicMonkey Collage - windy city

So I haven’t done a full grocery shop yet, and won’t probably until Sunday.  I picked up a few things like fresh fruit, coffee creamer, etc.  Yesterday I spent time working on my LinkedIn page – I am still not very familiar with it, so any tips are appreciated!

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It’s nice working just 20 feet from my kitchen!  Around 10:30 I started looking around to see what I could make for lunch.  I found a chicken breast in the freezer so decided to poach the chicken and then I’d go from there.  I just filled a pan with water until it covered the chicken, then cooked over medium low heat with a lid on for 30 minutes and it was perfect.  I thought, I’ll make tacos!  But a quick search in the fridge I had no tortillas.   I went on Pinterest, and found that King Arthur Flour makes a thin cornmeal tortilla.   I tweaked the recipe a bit to make it more Weight Watcher friendly – I reduced the oil to 1 tablespoon and then upped the water to 3/4 of a cup to make the dough.

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I love the texture of these tortillas – they are super thin, and I pan fried them in a teaspoon of oil, which only added 1 smart point, but gave them the best crunch on the outside.  That whole plate of food ended up being 9 smart points and was delish!

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And I have to give a shout out to Shelley!   She gave me a bag of Texas loot when we met for lunch last week – cannot wait to try the rub out this weekend on something to grill outside –thanks Shelley!

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And the dogs have been like glue to me.  I literally had to put them in Hannah and Jacob’s room when I was trying to work yesterday because they kept jumping over each other trying to get close to me.  I had my laptop on my lap on the couch and I couldn’t even type because they’d just walk right over the laptop.  But if I sit in the back of the house at my desk on the desktop computer, they are content just sitting on the floor by my feet.

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Tomorrow is my birthday!  Oh, and I guess my twin sisters birthday too.   I won’t see her, but we have plans in the near future for her to take the afternoon off from work and we’ll have lunch downtown and walk around – it’s a bit chilly today – only 37 degrees right now.   I love going out to breakfast so the kadults and I will go out to breakfast before they have to work.  For the first time ever, I have not only unpacked my bags, but I have done all the laundry AND put it away – crazy!

I hope you have a great weekend!  I am off in a bit for a group class at the Y.  It was so nice to hit the gym yesterday and I am looking forward to getting back into a routine now that I am home.  Make it a great day!