Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Texas Thursday Thirteen 6/30/2011

That's right y'all.  This is a TEXAS Thursday Thirteen, documenting our short trip to, well ya know...Texas!  I thank GOD it was a good and safe trip and that we got home safe and sound.  A big thank you to those who knew I needed prayer and did so.  Many, many thanks.  Now let's get to it:

1.  So, I'll admit that when the plan to go to Houston first came about I was hoping it would get cancelled, even right up to the week we were going.  Not that I didn't want to go.  I'm just afraid to fly.  Extremely afraid to fly.  Terrified, in fact that I felt daily anxiety/panic attacks coming on and the last time I felt that way was when drama disrupted my family.  I was once told to get some perspective about flying; that considering there are more car accidents than airplane accidents it's safer to fly.  But then one of my sisters reminded me (years ago) that while that may be true, you have a better chance to survive a car accident than a plane crash.  Uh, yeah.  We didn't travel a lot when we were little and if we did it was by car.  My first plane ride (not counting the one when I was 6 months old) was when I was 22 or 23 and I flew to Hawaii to visit a dear, awesome friend (miss you, S!)  Since then I've maybe flown 3 or 4 additional times, just to the Bay Area.  I'm far from an experienced flier so this trip was a doozie for me, especially since we had to switch planes in Salt Lake City.

2.  Obviously, it's now Summer break for my son.  Yay!  We wasted no time getting to Texas and kicking off the summer.  We left only an hour after my son's last day of school ended.  I told my husband that if there were storms in Texas on the day we were flying out we weren't going (see....still trying to get out of flying).  There were no storms, but I finally called my doctor and explained the anxiety I was feeling about flying.  Now, this is a big deal because I'm not big on popping pills.  If I have a headache I just get through it, I don't reach for the ibuprofen or what have you.  My doctor gave me a prescription and my husband kindly picked it up and filled it.  (He had been feeling the brunt of my anxiety so he didn't think twice about doing that for me.  Not that he ever thinks twice about doing something for me.  But I digress.)  Anyway, those happy pills worked!

3.  The other thing that helped was the fact that on the morning we were scheduled to leave my hubby went and got me a Kindle and a gift card so that I could immediately load it.  For the past couple of years, I've been torn about getting one.  I had 2 books from the library to bring with me for our trip, but they were both only available in hardcover and were very heavy.  Plus, I couldn't decide which one to bring.  That helped my husband bite the bullet for me and get the Kindle, which I'm glad he did.  I immediately downloaded both books.  And with that (along with my happy pills) I was ready to go!

4.  I thought getting through security with two kids in tow was going to be a mess.  Thankfully, with preparation beforehand, the kids followed directions and got through it without incident.  They were VERY excited about getting on a plane.  Going through security on the way back home you would have thought they were seasoned fliers.  Even my daughter got her own bin and plopped herself down to take off her shoes and put her little carry-on on the belt.  The couple behind her thought it was cute and teased her about holding up the line.

5.  Texas was hot and a bit humid though, not as bad as I expected.  We were there for only 2.5 days and it was the most humid on our last day there.  My parents-in-law live in Texas.  We, along with two of my husband's sisters and a family friend and her son, were headed that way for a little get together.  I've met my husband's parents but not his siblings and their families.  My in-laws have met our son, but not our daughter.  Everyone is spread out and this gathering was important to everyone.

6.  Our first day there was a hectic one, especially since we arrived in Texas after midnight and actually got to the hotel a bit after 2 a.m.  Our hotel room had a kitchen in it, so everyone came over to hang out and cook before we headed to see my father-in-law (he's in a nursing home right now getting physical therapy and recovering from an infection.  Please pray for him.)  My father-in-law made requests and from us he requested Filipino food.  He also requested a Custard Pie, which I made since nobody knew where to pick one up (it was good!).  My husband ended up ordering the Filipino food from a restaurant not too far from us since there really was no time for me to cook.  The gathering itself was nice.  Short, but nice.  We were allowed to use the dining room of the nursing home for the event but that limited how long we could be there.  Still it was a great time.

7.  After the party everyone headed back to our hotel to swim.  This was my daughter's first time in a swimming pool.  She really took to it.  Take a look:
Here she's jumping in.  She kept doing it over and over.

Daddy threw her way up in the air and caught her underwater.
8.  On our second day in Texas we spent the day with my mother-in-law and eldest sister-in-law.  The others had to leave early Sunday morning to drive back home.  We did a lot of driving while in Texas.  After we turned the rental car in, my husband saw the mileage and said we drove the equivalent of a drive from Los Angeles to the East Bay of San Francisco.  That's a lot of driving for staying in the same general area and not really going anywhere!  Anyway, we also went to Walmart (This was only the second time I've been in one.  My first experience was not a good one.  That was a very ugly Walmart.)  I joked with my husband that we flew all the way to Houston to go to Walmart, since that was just about the only "sight-seeing" we were going to get in the short time we were there.  Ha!

9.  My sister jokingly asked if everything in Texas was bigger.  After the short time we spent in Houston, I have to say that from what I saw, everything wasn't bigger, everything was BUTTER.  Yeah, you read that right, BUTTER.  And for me, it was a bit horrifying.  We lunched at a Japanese Steakhouse which ended up being a horrible knock off of Benihana.  First, you would think that at a restaurant in hot Houston, where you are sitting at a Teppanyaki table, they would have decent air conditioning.  Not here!  It was almost as hot inside as it was out.  Next, the chef was not entertaining or engaging at all.  His tiny onion volcano was pitiful and to me if we were going to pay Benihana prices then I wanted Benihana quality!!  Then, my Chicken Teppanyaki was overdone.  The topper, though, was the butter he dolloped on most everything. The amount of butter he used while making the fried rice ALONG with several squirts of oil was appalling!  You know those long handled metal serving spoons you encounter at a buffet?  He used that size spoon and heaped 2 huge scoops of butter onto the rice.  The rice was mushy and greasy.  I don't think I've ever seen fried rice glisten.  When he was cooking my chicken I asked my husband to make sure he doesn't slather it in butter.  Thankfully, he didn't.  I guess I'm spoiled because this place got pretty good ratings on Urbanspoon.  Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.  I witnessed a lot of excess butter being put on a lot of food during our trip.  Yikes!  Don't get me wrong, I like butter too...I bake, but I don't slather big chunks on everything I can.

10.  After lunch we headed over to the nursing home to visit with my father-in-law and to deliver the goodies we picked up for him from Walmart.  We then headed back to the hotel so that the kids could go for a swim before dinner.  I think if the kids had their choice they would have never gotten out of that pool.

11.  The last day in Houston is what I'll call The Amazing Race, Food Network Edition.  We had to leave for the airport at 2:30 p.m. and there was no way I was going to leave without hitting at least ONE foodie spot.  Luckily we sprinted and hit TWO after visiting my father-in-law one last time.  The first was Kenny & Ziggy's which was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  They tout themselves as a New York Delicatessen Restaurant.  They did it right!  I like them better than Jerry's Famous Deli out here.  Their portions are as big as their pictures depict and downright delicious.  My husband and I split a sandwich knowing the serving would be huge.  It was very, very tasty.

12.  The next spot was The Chocolate Bar featured on Kid in a Candy Store.  Mind you, next door is a store called Candylicious, owned by the same guy running The Chocolate Bar, so we actually hit THREE places.  Yeee!  Anyhoo, we walked into The Chocolate Bar and we were hit full blown by the mouth watering smell of chocolate.  Oh, glorious chocolate.  Some pictures:

13.  I wish we had purchased the Texas Frito Brittle from The Chocolate Bar but we were unsure of how it would taste and we were already on the way out.  We did, however, have just enough time to indulge in a extra large slice of Uncle Daryl's Chocolate Cake before making our way back to LAX.  That was thee best chocolate cake (aside from what I bake ;-) that I have ever had.  It was moist and rich and not overly sweet despite the looks of it:

They took a couple of bites before I could take the picture.
It was bigger than her head.  I think it was bigger than my head!
And with that, this California, nay, Southern California gal is going to do a little online shopping at The Chocolate Bar's website.  I can still try the Texas Frito Brittle and bring a little Texas goodies to the Westside!

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