Thursday, June 30, 2011


As I write this post about a mini vacation on the beach in Port Aransas, Texas with my sister, nieces, friend Stacey and her twins I am packing to spend a week in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  I love the beach!

A few weeks ago my sister, Audrey and my nieces were in town.  Stacey invited us to join her and her twins down at her beach house in Port Aransas.  Yes, please!  Thank you Stacey!  We had a GREAT time! 

Pretty beach!
We arrived on a Sunday afternoon and stayed until that Wednesday morning.  Sunday evening involved wine on the deck and Monday was spent at the beach.  Relaxing!  Monday night we did an adult girls night out.  Stacey had a sitter over so we headed out for dinner and drinks.

Lovely ladies enjoying a cocktail.
Lovely cocktail

Tuesday on the beach I found a sand dollar floating in the waves.  I have never found a whole sand dollar on a Texas beach.  Cool.

Ooooh, Aaaaah
Tuesday evening we cooked dinner at the house and enjoyed a little more wine.  Good times!

Chelsie and me on the deck (she had no wine) :)

Painting Date Night

I had so much fun with the girls at Van Gogh and Vino that I signed my husband and myself up for a class at Pinot's Palette.  I had a gift certificate that I had purchased in a silent auction at the BRAtober event I attended, so I figured I would take my husband on a unique date night.  He was a good sport when I suggested going to paint.  We both had so much fun, I recommend it for a cool date night!  He wasn't the only guy there...there were about 6 men in total.

When you sign up for a class at Pinot's Palette you can look at the calendar to choose which class you want to attend.  We chose a class with an original painting by a local artist called Fabulous Company.  We have a blank space in our kitchen above our wine rack that we we were hoping to fill...that is if one of us painted a display-able version.  What a cool bonus, right?  Only one way to find out if you can drink and paint, pack up some wine and go.  We headed out to dinner before our painting class and tried a new place by us called The Queen Vic.  It was pretty great, I must admit.  We split the meat kabobs and they were delicious.  They had a great beer selection which Daniel was very happy about.  Their wine selection was okay, but not extensive.  I found a nice Sauvignon Blanc to enjoy...what better to order before going to a class to drink wine and paint?

Great start to date night
When you arrive at Pinot's Palette they have a kitchen type area with a large wine bucket for whites, lots of glasses and openers.  Your first step is to put on an apron and open a bottle.

The artist was great, she was funny and helpful.  She takes you through the steps to paint your masterpiece.  I took pictures as we went.

Background and bottle outlines, done!
Bottles colored in, check!
Daniel at work

My progress
I like that they encourage you to choose your own colors and put your own spin on the art.  We stuck close to the artist's color scheme since it matches our kitchen.

Giddy on wine couple with finished art
And whose art, you might ask, now graces our kitchen wall?

I didn't have the heart to tell Daniel's his belonged in the den.  Kidding!  I thought we both did a great job, but neither of us will be considering a career change.  :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Locks of Love

I have been growing my hair out for Locks of Love for over a year now and I was finally ready to have it cut and make my donation!  I was excited because for months I had been wearing my hair in a ponytail.  I do not have great hair-do skills, so that was pretty much my only option.  My friend and stylist Rob of Elements Salon got to do the honors.  My sister and nieces were in town so they came with me to watch the chopping of what I thought was going to be one big ponytail.  Rob said that it is easier to cut in several smaller tails and it would also separate out the front which was layered and not 10 inches long.  Good to know!

Rob was fast and my sister had trouble keeping up.  This last picture was posed...thanks Rob.  Donating my hair to Locks of Love is something I had always wanted to do, so check!  It is a great feeling to be able to donate and I have only one regret.  I wish I knew I wanted my hair cut as short as I ended up having it cut before the chopping...I could have probably given another inch or two.

After the initial chop...hi Rob in the background!

Growing your hair for Locks of Love means no highlights.  They accept colored hair as long as it hasn't been lightened or colored over lightened hair.  I had grown out my previous highlights before starting to grow my hair for donation.
So guess what!?

My final style is flippy and fun, as requested and I went all the way to chin length!  I originally thought I wanted to stay close to shoulder length.  I haven't had my hair this short in YEARS!!  Very fun.

Hello short hair
And best of all, Sammy approves.

Sammy gives it a thumbs up!  You know if she had thumbs.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lemon Filled Cake

My mother's birthday is at the beginning of June and she asks for the same kind of cake each year...lemon.  I usually bake her a lazy cake by dropping the filling into the raw batter and swirling it around and then baking it and icing it.  She reports each year that the cake is not lemony enough.  I don't like cakes with any amount of lemon, so I could care less if it is light on the lemon or heavy. 

This year I decided I would put forth a little more effort and channel my friend Kasey of Kakes by Klassic, who makes all kinds of awesome kakes.  My cake was not even close to awesome, so I cannot call it a kake.  :)  Anyway, I made the huge decision that I would bake a plain yellow cake, then actually cut it in half, fill it and then ice it.  Huge step for Ema and her creative baking skills.  I am sure I would never have tried this if it wasn't for Kasey and all her awesome kakes.  You should really check her out...she rocks!

Now back to my mediocre cake.  I baked my boring yellow cake from a mix, since I am that good, on a Thursday night and let it cool on the counter over night.  The next morning I had the genius idea remembered a tip from the cake shows on TLC that cutting of a cake is much easier when the cake is cold, so I put my cake in the fridge.  Friday afternoon I got it out, said a prayer and began slicing it in half.

Before slicing and during prayer

After successfully completing step one...phew
After slicing the cake in half, I was feeling pretty confident that I was not going to be presenting my mother crumbled cake with lemon and icing so that was a great feeling.  I figured I could salvage something cake like even if I split the top half while putting it back in place.  On to the filling.  Note my very fancy foil covered cutting board.  Stylish!

Lemony...yuck!  I mean yum!
Flipping the top back on the cake was easy.  Woohoo for small victories.

Together again
Once I had the top layer of cake back in place, I decided that the top was a little rounded and since I was rocking the cake hacking I might as well trim the top to make it more flat.  The bonus part of this was I got to taste the cake without any lemony evilness, which was delicious.  The bad part...I found out exactly why the cake shows call that first layer of icing below the fondant a crumb coating.  That's right...crumbs all up in my icing.  And the extra special ability to see the places on the top of the cake that were cut through the icing.  Cream cheese icing is apparently very easy to see through.

See how the cake is lighter in the middle?  Nice.
No, I didn't write anything on the top of it...I just added some candles.  I had already put forth all my daring creativity with the actual filling of the cake.  The great news is that my mom loved it and didn't have to add extra lemon filling to her slice.  Awesome.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Van Gogh and Vino

There is an awesome organization called Charity Chicks Houston and their mission is to help other charities raise money or secure volunteers for projects and events.  You may remember me blogging about their October event BRAtober which benefits a different breast cancer research organization each year.  They had an event this month benefiting Houston Area Women's Center that they called Van Gogh and Vino.  Basically ladies were invited to sign up for an art class at a wine bar and proceeds were donated to the center.  Nice!

I got together with some friends and we went.  Our challenge?  Have fun, drink wine and paint for a good cause.

Have fun, check!

Drink wine, check!  Paint?  I'll try!
There were lots of fun chicks in attendance and it was a very good time.  We even turned out some pretty good artwork.  I am happy to say that I thought outside the box and came up with my own color scheme.  Go me for being different.

The classroom

Our art - mine's the blue one
And can I say I loved this table?  Who wants to help me drink enough wine to make one?

My next wine/art project!

Monday, June 13, 2011

My First 5K

On Saturday, June 4th,  I walked my first 5K.  It was awesome!  First of all, we had a beautiful morning; and in Houston during a record setting high temperature start to the summer that is HUGE!!  Don't get me wrong it was hot out there, but it wasn't very humid which was great.  I picked up our packets the day before, which I was happy about so we had no need to rush in the morning.  My friend Kasey and my husband walked with me.

The start was at Marmion Park on Heights Boulevard, which was a very cute park and it was packed with runners and walkers.

Cute gazebo with hard working volunteers.
Packed park with people stretching.  Look!  Our shadows!
We got started walking a little after 7:30, the line up for the start was slightly chaotic, but relaxed.  There was a man announcing that runners should be at the front and walkers at the back...I think we were all a big mix; we were dutifully standing at the back of the pack, but there were still runners around us.  The man did make sure to continually remind us that the balloon framing the start line was not as wide as the street and we should be careful.  I suppose they have had trouble with people running into the huge yellow and blue balloon in past races.  We had no accidents.

Here we go!
It took us almost an hour to walk the course, which was an out and back around the median in the street.  We could see the front runners headed past us toward the finish line about 20 minutes in, we all cheered for them.

Nearing the finish line with my BFFs.  See the large yellow balloon in the distance?
It was a great way to spend the morning.  I should have eaten something before the race.  That was a huge oversight on my part and I will not make that mistake again, but luckily my body did okay.  We went for breakfast tacos after the race...yum egg whites and potato on corn tortillas with salsa!  Delicious!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Plate

We no longer have a food pyramid, we have a plate.  I kind of like do you feel about it?


It certainly makes sense having the food groups depicted on a plate instead of a pyramid...much easier to relate to.


Now I will admit that I never really visited the website before, I searched it today since I knew we were going from a pyramid to something else, but I must say I kind of like the USDA's new Choose My Plate site.  They have a Food-a-pedia that will let you search for a food and see the nutritional information, where it belongs on your plate and the serving size.  Not a bad reference.


I personally think that the dairy group, which looks like it might be in a cup should be re-labeled to wine.  I'm on to something here, I'm sure of it.  What do you think?