Sunday, May 31, 2015

It's 5:00 Somewhere

We are coming up on a decade of living in Dallas. That is really hard to believe. We were always so transient, moving every three to four years, and so we have now lived here longer than anywhere else. We are definitely set in some traditions and routines now, and one of those categories would include having a list of our favorite restaurants. 

When we lived in McAllen, we had so few restaurants to choose from, and so when we arrived in Dallas, we felt like the flood gates of possibilities had opened up. We soon discovered - or really rediscovered - a new family favorite. Steve and I actually first found Uncle Julio's in 1991, when he and I traveled to Dallas from The Woodlands {Houston} to do some research on a children's church program. We ate at Uncle Julio's on Lemmon back then, and loved it, and then sort of forgot about it until 2005. 

I would never be able to tell you how many times we have eaten at Uncle Julio's. I can tell you the three locations we love: the tollway (best service and friendliest bar), the one in Allen (easiest to get to and best patio) , the original one on Lemmon (best food, smallest restaurant, and farthest from us). I can't tell you how many guests we have taken over the past decade to Uncle Julio's, but I can tell you that it is in our repertoire of places we love to offer up, and I can also tell you that I have some guests that request {and I really mean demand here} to be taken there. I can't tell you exactly what my sons will order when there, but I can tell you that each and every time, Steve and I will split the same meal. 

The Guadalajara, all beef, no cheese and no sour cream, extra guacamole. The Guadalajara is a combination platter of fajitas and jalapeƱo shrimp brochette. It's just the right amount of food to split. Steve can usually eat one shrimp and three fajitas. I will eat two shrimp and one fajita. We will usually add a side order of guacamole to our dinner, because theirs is some of the best. We never need a menu. We have been going to the one in Allen long enough to catalog the change in servers, and we usually have a little bit of a dialog with the regular, good servers, and we miss them when they move on, as good servers always do. Sometimes I feel like Steve and I are good training candidates for waiters. I know we have trained a lot of waiters at Uncle Julio's.

After eating at Uncle Julio's as a family of four, and then three, for nine of the ten years, we built up quite a tradition of eating there together, most often in the evening, and sometimes on a Sunday after church. Special occasions, celebrations, cold nights when we wanted some warm comfort food. Any old reason will do. We don't have to have it very often, but we do have to have it regularly. When the boys left Texas for college, I knew one of the things they would miss the most would be their Mexican food. And, true enough, when they come home, one of the first things they want is to go out for "some good Mexican food, mom". I do think it is one of the reasons why I might would never be able to move out of my native state.

As the boys have gone off to college, we have turned into that couple that rarely cooks at home. Now, we do eat at home, but it will usually involve a salad with some grilled chicken on it, or some shrimp tacos. Simple meals here anymore. But, we do love to eat out, and Uncle Julio's is in our regular rotation.  We can go there during football season and sit in the bar and catch the game that is playing either before or after our Cowboys play. We can go on a spring day and sit outside and enjoy the weather. We can meet there on a night where we have both worked later than we wanted to, and we are "starving".

I have always loved Mexican food. Back as a child, mother would take us in the summer to Monterrey House on Woodforest, in the North Shore end of the street. I can still see the red sign with the script lettering, and the little man sitting on the cart, being pulled by a burro. I'd always order the Summer Special: a tostado, a taco, and a dollop of guacamole. That combination remains one of my favorites to this day, even though Monterrey House has long gone out of business. Mexican food has morphed over the years, but my love for it has only increased. Steve, of course, grew up in New York and had to be introduced to proper Mexican food. He was a quick study, taking to it whole heartedly and loving it as much as me. ;-) 

Our regular restaurant portfolio shifts a little in the rotation order. Sometimes we crave flautas more than shrimp brochette, and head to Pappasito's. Sometimes we want those yummy cheese enchiladas that Anamia's can serve up, or the nachos we get at Blue Goose. But when it comes to picking a restaurant to dine al fresco in some of our beautiful north Texas patio weather, Uncle Julio's is the go to place. And this gal is always up for dinner on the patio time.

Patio Time ~ Uncle Julio's ~ 2014
This layout was featured in the March issue of Create by Scrapbook Generation which can be seen here on their website. 
Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation 
Paper: Bo Bunny
Title Font: Pacifico, Comic Sans

Monday, May 18, 2015


It was so much fun working with Paper House and My Favorite Things for the May issue! Check it out!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Souvenirs of My Past

It's probably a little silly - that degree to which I love NSD. {I also think it's funny that it rhymes with LSD, which is very bad for you, whereas NSD is very good for you.} Of all the thoughts and memories and ideals I have imbedded in me from nine years as a Creative Memories consultant, setting to the side some lifelong friends that are the very best treasure, I would say that NSD was probably the best takeaway I gleaned from CM, and probably one of their greatest ideas.

National Scrapbook Day was initiated by Rhonda Anderson and Cheryl Lightle, Creative Memories co-founders, in May 1995 and it included an official proclamation by the governor of Minnesota. Of course, that made it officially national. ;-) I was a fairly new consultant at the time, and most importantly I was six months pregnant with my youngest son. Hauling CM inventory around to sell at home classes was one thing. Doing it pregnant was totally another. I guess that is why the first ever NSD is indelibly etched in my brain. And today, just like 21 years ago, women are gathering to celebrate NSD.

Oh, scrapbooking and I have sure come a long way in two decades of women gathering everywhere to scrap together on the first Saturday in May. Today marks that anniversary, and this 21st NSD finds me just as in love as ever with my beloved hobby. Just think - I have been scrapbooking for 21 years, and I have the wall of albums and scrap stash to prove it!  ;-) That's almost half of my life! I think what I love the most about my hobby, as I analyze it, is that I have passed the tipping point and can now say that I have been scrapping outside of CM for more years than I scrapped inside it. For over a decade now I have been just a regular scrapper, having tendered my CM resignation in May 2004 after 9 1/2 years of sharing how to create, preserve and remember. September 2015 will be the 21st anniversary of my starting to scrapbook. 

I can say that after all this time, even with the boys gone, and the shutter on the camera clicking less and less often, I absolutely love my hobby more than ever. I have a broad base of friends that share this hobby with me and I have an incredibly supportive husband, who never minds me piddling in my room, and I have my little bi-monthly allowance that hasn't been eradicated by tuition bills, and I have access to a plethora of incredible supplies, at both a store that is 66 miles from me, where I can go when I absolutely need to touch and feel a room full of paper and have three hours to spare, and an online store whose incredible service and free shipping options make "getting my fix" sometimes far too easy. 

I have celebrated NSD with both of "my stores". The Crafty Scrapper puts on an incredible weekend retreat each year on NSD weekend and Scrapbook Generation does an all out online event {and also an event in their store} that allows me to play along from the nook in my home that I have christened Scrap Central. There's just something fun and celebratory and slightly decadent about having a DAY that is earmarked National Scrapbook Day. If you want to roll it into a weekend retreat, or a week long online store sale, I'm down with that. What these two stores have in common, though, is that I found both of them through Two Peas in a Bucket.

Two Peas led me to Creating Keepsakes events, which led me to the Great American Scrapbook Convention, which led me to the booth that The Crafty Scrapper had there. I remember looking up TCS on a Saturday in April when Steve and I were taking a road trip, and we happened to drop into their store on their birthday bash. I can still remember the joy and camaraderie that day being palpable in the store, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that. Years of traversing the miles to the store for crops, classes, retreats, and card stock runs have been such a treasure for my heart. I even guest designed for them briefly and that was an added honor. TCS restored my faith in the sisterhood of scrapping, and taught me how to connect and create and craft and collect. I am so thankful for their store and all the lovely talent there. The owner, Carolyn, is just an energetic jewel and I never get enough time with her. She's an incredible lady. I still love TCS and just can't find enough time it seems to make that trek. I was able to go help them celebrate their 10th anniversary a few weekends ago, and I know I will be back there in a couple of weeks as I head south to retreat with my scrapping peeps.

Two Peas also led me to Scrapbook Generation. I don't think any of my online friends really can recall exactly WHO posted the first thread on the General Scrapping message board about the sketch books from Scrapbook Generation. But, I know that I bought my first two in January 2010, and started following their blog right around that same time. Shortly thereafter, I subbed to their Super Saver Sketch Club, and received my first ever SS kit for the March layouts on my porch in April 2010. Oh, those were life changing days! I can tell you that I was made for sketch books. I have that need for creativity...and order. The clean lines of the sketch books brought me back internally to my journalism/yearbook training and gave me a form that supported my going off the CM grid, and how to really have fun with a blank 12x12 canvas. So, this is my fifth NSD with SG. I keep hoping one year I can actually SPEND NSD at SG, but it will have to fall right on the calendar with work scheduling, because the first of the month is always full and busy at work. Now, I have been blessed to meet the SG team and crop with them several times. They are just like Lay's Potato Chips thought - you can't stop at just one! I love these ladies, marvel at their creativity, and depend on their inspiration. I am so incredibly blessed to be part of their CREATE team. 

It's funny that in 21 years of NSD that I have morphed from a gal hosting events for others, to a gal going to events with others, to a gal staying home alone, dependent on the internet for a little interaction and a ton of inspiration. I guess my scrapbooking journey is really trekking along the same path as society. The internet has changed us all - for good or bad - with it's opportunities to "connect" with others. I cannot deny though that the online crops and at home events are the easiest to pack for. ;-) 

I created this layout below in 2013 more than likely, if I do some detective work on the supplies used. It is an SG sketch of course, and I know I used my Silhouette to cut that title and the little cameras. The photos are from NSD 2011, the next to last NSD that I would spend online at Two Peas. {Who could predict their demise?} I am thankful that I snapped some photos that day - and that I had Steve take a picture of me sitting at my computer. As it turns out, I am looking at an ad for the Scrap 'n Easel on my computer, which seems fitting, since I do a fair amount of online scrap shopping. ;-) That year, NSD 2011, was the kick off of my scrapping our 2010 vacation for which I used Basic Grey Wander. I just love my paper. I just love my hobby. I guess you could say I am still crazy about scrapping after all these years. 

Happy National Scrapbooking Day to you -  whether this is your first NSD or, like me, your 21st. Take some time to document your scrappy life. You just never know what is around the corner, and it's always a good thing to create, preserve, and remember. I love the quote at the top that SG posted on Tuesday of this week. It's true. And I like to think of each one of my layouts as a souvenir of my past - a very special memory that I was blessed to live through and cobble together a story to tell of it. Happy Scrapping!

National Scrapbook Day ~ An Homage to Online Crops ~ May 2011

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation I think - confirming from friend - I did a lift for a challenge
Paper: October Afternoon
Title Font: Lavenderia

Editors Note: I changed the layout for this story because I realized this morning after I published this post that I had already blogged that layout. So, then!, I decided I needed to do another layout about NSD since I have only ever done that other one. So, I CAN do a layout in an afternoon - this proves it. And how fun to scrap about NSD ON NSD??!! Thanks Rona/Jaffa for the inspiration for the layout and thanks SnY Tink for the challenge to scrap lift a friend.