Little Havana

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I realized that I am woefully behind in sharing photos from our trip to South Florida over Fourth of July weekend. And since it is almost the 1st of August, I figured I’d better get on it. Of course, being the shutterbug I am now I decided I’d better break the posts up since I have so much to show you. I apologize now for freezing up any one’s pc or iphone.

So, as I may have mentioned in this post, Eric surprised me by suggesting we take a trip to Florida over the holiday weekend. Due to two cats that require daily medicating, it’s been a long time since we went anywhere. And I’ve been really a little bit sad that we haven’t been able to indulge in one of our favorite things to do – travel. Especially when everyone I talked to asked what our plans were for a summer vacation, and I had to reply “no plans”. So, I was ecstatic when Eric suggested this trip.

We flew out on Thursday evening and checked into our fabulous hotel in Fort Lauderdale, the Riverside Hotel. Eric picked this hotel and it was such a great place to stay. There was beautiful tile work on the floors and walls, as well as a wonderful tropical feel.

Friday morning, we drove to Miami and decided to explore Little Havana. One of the things I really wish I’d gotte a photo of, but didn’t, was the tilework on the building facades. It was all chair rail height and the front of each storefront had different tile. It was so beautiful.

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There were just so many beautiful things to see, and I enjoyed some of the architecture like this old movie theater.

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And of course we visited several of the cigar shops. We had intended to take a tour of one of the cigar companies, but it was closed. But purchases were made in a couple of the shops for Eric.

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Cigars in hand, we went over to the Domino Park to watch the locals play. It’s been years since I’ve played dominos (I think the last time was with my neice). I loved watching all the players surrounding the tables and enjoying each other’s company and their game. And the tables themselves have a map of Cuba on them.

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You can see some of the tile work right next to the domino park and the walkway with a domino pattern. An excellent place to catch a little shade and enjoy a cigar.

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There was a guy sitting on a bench in front of this store, and my photo would have been so much more perfect if I’d taken it from the other side – with him and the Indian in the shot. But I am too chicken to take photos of random strangers when they’re looking at me. Now, taking photos of then on the sly…that’s a different story.

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Key Lime Cola?? Count me in! We didn’t come across any though. But, I have to say Key Lime Pie is my second favorite, right after Lemon Meringue. Just in case you feel the need to send me a pie or something.

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And although we didn’t find any Key Lime Cola, we did find these tasty cold beverages. Eric had the Ironbeer and I had the watermelon. Mmmm…pretty yummy with some plaintain chips.

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Calle Ocho also features this walk of stars along the sidewalk. I was happy to find Celia Cruz’s star. (And yes, Ms. Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine also have a star).

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This was the cigar factory we had intended to tour, but it was boarded up tight. Too bad, since La Gloria No. 7s are one of Eric’s favorites.

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We headed to lunch and decided on La Carreta. It was soo good! Even their iced tea is good. I had a fabulous chicken sandwich with plaintain chips.

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Eric ordered a Cuban sandwich (he loves these and has been missing them since one of his favorite restaurants closed in Dallas). He also ordered fried plantains to go with it.

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After lunch, we went to La Casa de las Guayaberas and shopped for some authentic Cuban clothing for Eric.

From Little Havana, we headed over to South Beach for the remainder of the day. But, later over the weekend we came back to Calle Ocho and went to Versailles, another great Cuban restaurant and bakery, for late night desserts. We shared Tres Leches and Coconut Flan. Mmmm.

I’ll have more posts to share photos of South Beach and Palm Beach. It was an amazing weekend!

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Week in Photos

7/19/09 – 7/25/09

So the week didn’t start out so good. Saturday I went and did my normal 3 mile walk. Saturday afternoon we went to Lone Star park, and by the time we got home I had really horrible horrible blisters on the backs of my heels. So bad in fact, I could really walk or wear shoes. But, I wrapped myself up and went to work on Monday anyway. Good times.

Blisters

Crazy alien sheep joined by a stripey snake that I love.

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And I came home to this bounty from Eric.

Blister Bounty

My new little wristlet bag for storing my needles and scissors. Night Owls again.

VB Wristlet Inside

I finally decided to spring for a new watch.

New Watch

And on Saturday, I went and picked up my team t-shirt for the 5k I’d signed up for. I even got an Omron pedometer (since I was on team Go Smart for Omron). Annnnnd…the shirt was a size smaller than I expected and it fit!

5k Shirt

And what’s that there on the shirt? Well, when I weighed in at WW, I hit my 25% goal, got my 25 pound charm and also a 5k charm for participating in the 5k. Not a bad day at all!!

Keychain and Charms

And so… I made snickerdoodles. They were pretty fabulous, if I do say so myself.

Snickerdoodles Again

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Summer’s Bounty – Tomato Tart

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Several years ago, I spent a lot of time watching Martha Stewart’s show on tv and had a subscription to Living that I poured through every month. This was all pre-jail time, not that the jail rigamarole had anything to do with my falling a little bit out of love with Ms. Martha. But, one might find my fascination with all things Martha to be a little bit puzzling. Why? Because 1) I don’t cook and 2) I don’t garden. However, I am crafty and like to decorate and entertain. And to be honest, I can cook and bake, I just rarely am inclined to do so. Luckily I am blessed with a husband who is so inclined. So, occasionally my delusions of grandeur brought on by a Martha moment sometimes end up with me purchasing some beautiful rectangular tart pans from Williams Sonoma with visions of whipping up a masterpiece of tarty goodness. I had seen a tomoto tart Martha did some years ago, and since then have wanted to recreate it.

A couple of weekends ago my good friend, Jennifer, came over for dinner. I wanted our dinner to be something summery and light. And I immediately thought of the tomato tart (read: I got a bee in my bonnet to make something). Eric bought some lovely heirloom tomatoes at Central Market that morning for me to use in my tarts. They were so beautiful!

And in case you’d like to make a tomato tart of your own, here’s the Martha recipe (with my changes)…

Tomato Tart

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

2 pre-made pie crusts (I made them work for the rectangular pans)
Spread roasted garlic evenly over the dough
Place Fontina Cheese over the roasted garlic (I just cut irregular slices of the cheese rather than grating)
Arrange the sliced tomatoes on top of the cheese

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Season with salt and pepper
Add more thin slices of Fontina on top
Drizzle with Olive Oil

Transfer to oven
Bake until crust is golden and tomatoes are soft but retain their shape
(about 45 to 55 minutes)
Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes

Serve warm

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Mmm…these were so good. And they fit perfectly with our meal. The perfect summertime companion.

Tomato Tart Leftover

And good as leftovers too!

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Random Tuesday Thoughts

 

 

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On several of the blogs I read, I’ve noticed that there has been an interest in creating a gallery wall to showcase photos and/or art. I wanted to share our gallery wall with you too. When Eric and I first got married and moved into this house, we came to a bit of an impasse about hanging art on the walls. Having a BFA in Art History, I was of course all for bringing art and loveliness into our home. But, we have slightly different ideas of what is lovely. After months of blank walls and a lot of back and forth, we struck on the idea with printing photos from our travels. It began with photos from our honeymoon in Rome and from our cruise in the Caribbean where he proposed. In the past three years we’ve added a few more trips to that list. Initially, I’d scattered the photos throughout the house. But, then I was inspired to hang the majority of the photos together in our entry. I loved the idea of showcasing not only Eric’s photography, but also a gathering of memories of those wonderful places. Eric was a little hesitant about hanging them all together, but I ran the idea past my good friend, Jennifer, the decorating guru. And once Eric was met with the argument that “Jennifer says it will look great,” we starting arranging the photos on the wall. The wall now holds photos from Rome, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Chicago. I am sure we’ll be adding to this collection with our more recent trips to Virginia and Miami. I love how this wall looks, and I feel like it is very representative of us to people first entering into our home. If you want to see some other great gallery walls, take a look at Blue-Eyed Bride’s gallery wall …

and the photo collections over at elefantitas alegres…

Eric and I found we loved traveling together so much, that I gave him this as a wedding gift. It was a promise of many more trips in the future.

World Travels Map

And completely unrelated to my decorating musings, this morning was my first venture back to a regular yoga practice. It is so hard getting up even earlier in the mornings, but I feel so much better when I start my day off with yoga.

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For now, I’m going to do two mornings a week. My body was so happy to stretch today! I definitely needed it. I’m just using a DVD for yoga currently, but I’m interested in giving classes a try again. I’ve had two people recommend Bikram (hot) yoga to me. One girl that I see at the gym alot said that she’s started doing Bikram yoga and is now in the best shape of her life. I may give it a try. There’s a couple of places that offer it near me, Sunstone Yoga and Bikram Yoga Grapevine. I also have a DVD at home of Baron Baptiste’s. He teaches Power Vinyasa Yoga, and from what I remember of doing the DVD some time ago, I really enjoyed it.

So, today was just relaxing and stretching, but it reminded me how much I love yoga and how much I’ve missed it. And after walking 3.2 miles on Saturday and getting huge, really bad blisters on my feet, I really needed both the relaxing and the stretching.

Dana hace Yoga en la Playa

Photo from leo.prie.to via flickr

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A Day at the Races

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For the past few years we’ve gone out to Lone Star Park to see the races. Every year we have a great time and this year was no exception.

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We get seats inside where it’s nice and air conditioned and we have a good view of the track. We have lunch and get ready for the first race.

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We always try to go out to the track so that we can get some photos when they’re running on the track nearest us.

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I love picking my horse before each race begins. We rarely bet, but it’s fun to pick your horse and have someone to cheer on!

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About midway through the afternoon we usually go out to see the horses getting ready for the next race. They walk them around the winners circle and you can see who you’re betting on.

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And look…lawn jockies…

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I love a good race.

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And by the end of the day, we start to wind down.

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But I just love going to see the horses. (Oh, and I get to wear a hat.)

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A Week in Photos

7/12/09 – 7/18/09

I am so in love with our gallery wall. In fact I did a post on it here.

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And the map I gave Eric for a wedding present to mark our travels together.

World Travels Map

I eat salads pretty often for lunch which can get old. But let me tell you, the salad I had here was so delicious – avocado, egg, steak. Yum!

My Salad

And rounding out the week, Lone Star Park photos here.

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Chameleon

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Ok, so I’ve been thinking lately (never a good thing, probably). In my mental wanderings two things have come to my attention. 1) I cannot stand misspellings (typos we all make, granted) and 2) I need to be selective in what I choose to read.

So, as far as the misspellings go, Blue-Eyed Bride already touched on this in her recent post. But, yesterday I was reading a fanfic (my recent obsession) and two things kept annoying the hell out of me – the use of “your” vs. “you’re” as in “your in trouble”. One time I can overlook, but when a writer does this every time, it tells me they don’t know the difference between the two. This writer is apparently also a fan of shopping at Victoria Secrets or also sometimes referred to as Victorias Secrets. First, Victoria is possessive. Second, Victoria only has the one secret. If it’s so confusing, just say “La Perla”.

As far as the second thing on my mind, what first brought it to my attention is the book I’m reading for Book Club. I am slogging through this book. We always get our book assignments in threes, and of this last set of three this was the book I was looking forward to. Unfortunately, it sucks. It sucks hard. And while the last two sucky book were only about 100 pages of suckage, this one is in the 250 page range. Gah! And as I’m reading along in this book, I just keep thinking “life is too short and my time is too important to be reading a book I hate.” But then the other voice in my head says “but you paid for the book club session and you paid for the book, so you need to read it.” So far, the “you need to read it” voice is winning out. And there are moments when the suckage level goes down just slightly and the book is readable. Can’t say I’ll have it finished by next Friday, though. Oh well, at least there will be wine with the discussion.

But, along with my “life’s too short” revelation, I also had something else come up for me. I love reading, absolutely cannot get enough of it, although in the past few years I haven’t had as much time for it. I think some of the reasons I love reading so much are because I have a very active imagination and I love escaping into a book, my suspension of disbelief kicks in really quick with a good book, and also I tend to get really invested in the characters and stories. All three of those things combined allow me to really delve into a good book and live in that world for a time. That is such a curse and a blessing. After I read a really good book, one that I have fully immersed myself in, it often takes me awhile to get back out of it. I am still thinking about it and the characters, and the feelings that the book brought up for me are still there on the surface for a time. I’ve never really been able to explain to anyone why this happens so strongly for me. But, it does. A really sad, depressing storyline can leave me feeling listless and depressed for days after. Also, due to my vivid imagination, I do have to be careful what I read right before bed. I had to ban myself from reading The Historian right before bed, because it stayed with me all night and I would wake up during the night totally freaked out. But, damn that was a good book. You might be thinking to yourself, if she’s so sensitive why does she love vampire books? I can’t answer that. And yes, admitting this does make me feel like I am totally hypersensitive, or being overly dramatic or like I have a weak constitution or whatever. But, maybe I’m not the only one that books have this effect on? What brought all of this up for me is a fanfic (yes, I know) and the storyline is just horrible. I mean horrible in the sense that what is happening in the story is horrible. And yesterday after reading about twelve chapters, I just thought, I can’t take this anymore. I was so upset (granted I was also hungry and had a headache, which didn’t help), that I just couldn’t stomach any more of it. It made me realize that I really do need to maybe be a bit more selective with what I choose to put in my brain. I am pretty selective about television, so I’m not sure why I’m not that way with books. Maybe I’m too trusting of books, and when they let me down, I don’t know what to do with myself.

So, anyway the past couple of nights I’ve picked up Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to read when I get home. It’s been a while since I’ve read it (this will be my third time through), and with the movie having been released on Wednesday it seemed only fitting. And I’m finding it rather soothing after all the yuck that I’ve put in my brain. So that’s what’s been on my mind and I just felt the need to share. Miami photos next time, I promise. And it’s Victoria’s Secret, people. Google it.

And P.S. for the fool on Goodreads: it’s Yul Brynner, not Yule Brenner. Seriously.

The photo at the beginning of this post is one of the photos I took in Miami. It’s a Chihuly.

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Dallas After Dark

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At the end of June, Eric invited me to go on a photo walk around Dallas with a group of Photographers (actual real live Photographers). Although it was hot as anything, I do think it was worth going for the few good shots I got (even with my point and shoot camera).

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We started off our walk at Dealey Plaza and then went over to catch some shots of Reunion Tower as the sun was setting.

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We walked back past the Old Red Courthouse and then down to the West End.

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I’ve learned that I really enjoy taking photos of neon. It could be that whole attracted-to-bright-sparkly thing I’ve got going on. But I took a ton of photos of the neon down here.

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And those rainbow neon tubes are where Planet Hollywood used to be, I believe. Eric and I ducked into Spaghetti Warehouse for something cold to drink while the rest of the group was enamored with a horse-drawn carriage. Other than the chihuahua in a dress sitting in the carriage, I didn’t really feel the need to take a photo. I think the cold drink was a better idea!

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I just love the photo below, with the green building all sharp and the people below blurred.

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Of course, when you’re walking around with a group of twenty or so Photographers all with huge amounts of camera equipment and tripods, people ask what you’re doing. I think some guys used the explanation that we were paparazzi. And while we’re on the subject of tripods – let me just say, Photographers, there is a right way and a wrong way to carry a tripod. Jutting out behind you, and smacking people (me) with it every time you turn is bad form. Just sayin’.

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Mmm…pizza.

And the photo below, is probably my favorite photo of the night.

West End

I just had a point and shoot with me on the walk, so I just kind of wandered about snapping photos of whatever caught my fancy, while the Photographers set up with their tripds and long lenses and flashes. I had fun.

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From West End, we walked over to the Dallas Aquarium. I was starting to get tired and hot by this time. We’d been walking for several hours at this point. Why didn’t I wear my pedometer???

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And our last stop of the night (for Eric and I) was Fountain Place. There are tons of fountains here, and it was really pretty lit up. I liked this photo with the pink begonias in the foreground though.

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After that, Eric and I decided to head home as we were both tired. What a fun night though. Thanks, sweetie, for inviting me to go out with the Photographers! Photos from our Miami trip are coming soon!

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A Passion for Polish

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We are back from our trip and it was wonderful. I haven’t yet had the chance to go through my photos though, so I have nothing beach-worthy to share. In the meantime though, I thought I’d blather on about something near and dear to my heart…nail polish. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that Eric is understanding about the necessity of regular mani/pedis. And I take my manicures very seriously. Before Eric and I got engaged, I had a weekly ritual for my nails because I did them myself. Every Sunday night I would pick out a new color and give myself a manicure and pedicure. So every Monday morning I showed up at work with a fresh new color. I loved that. It was my little way of pampering myself when I couldn’t really afford to go and have it done. And I really enjoyed it. The best part of course was picking out a new color.

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I am a big fan of OPI, but I was also relatively recently turned on to Essie by a co-worker who showed up in a fabulous blood-red color. Last summer I even splurged on some new Essie colors for myself. But, I am at heart an OPI girl. And I always enjoy choosing a new color, especially as the seasons change and I can pull out my summer colors or my fall colors, etc. Even now that I have my nails done, I still bring my own polish with me. I just don’t get a fresh manicure every week anymore!

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Sorry for the blurry photo – the acrylic fumes must have gotten to me!

I had to laugh a few weeks ago when I realized my polish matched the book I was reading – perfect summer colors!!

And recently I made my very first Chanel purchase.

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Love how it came wrapped like a little present! A present to muh-self!!

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The color I went with was Cosmic Violine, after seeing it on this wonderful blog, All Laquered Up. I decided to take the plunge with this star of Chanel’s Celestial Lights collection. It’s a coppery brown and even though it’s more of a fall/winter color. I totally rocked it on my toes this summer.

Cosmic Violine Pedi

And of course you saw my vacation manicure a couple of posts ago, with my OPI La Paz-itively Hot. That hot pink was the perfect thing for South Beach. I think I may go with a brighter neon for my toes next time around (that’s about the most I can get away with at el trabajo. And of course, I was inspired by Cupcakes and Cashmere‘s latest post. So, maybe I’ll find a great bright for my little toes.

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