Holiday Feasting:  Bacon, Pecans, & Blue Cheese Green Beans

Howdy y’all

First up on my Holdiay Feasting series of blog recipes is my favorite way to enjoy green beans. A few years ago I played around with a few recipes for green beans casseroles and created this deliciousness treat that has now become a traditional dish with my family. Seriously, bacon, pecans, and blue cheese! I had myself at bacon! This recipe is simple and relatively quick leaving more time for other recipes or the reason for this joyous holiday. Celebrating all that we are thankful for with our loved ones. 

Ingredients:

– 1 lb fresh green beans 

– 4 slices of bacon 

– 3/4 cup of blue cheese crumbles 

– 1/3 cup chopped pecans

– 2 cups of ice

Directions: 

  • Chop stems of green beans
  • Boil green beans
  • Fry bacon to extra crispy 
  • Drain green beans and shock in ice bath until completely cooled
  • Drain green beans and pat dry
  • Toss in pan with bacon grease 
  • Add blue cheese crumbles and allow to melt
  • Last stir in chopped pecans and bacon

Quick, simple, and delicious. 

 
 
 
   
  

Enjoy, 

Sydney Charming 

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Taste New Orleans: Day 2

Catching up on some sleep was nice, but there’s so much to explore! Up and at ’em, rise and shine, wakey wakey or whatever cheese morning phrase you’d like to insert. For me, but first coffee. Jesse set an alarm so we could wake up early enough to make a run over to Cafe Du Monde. This  was by far my favorite day of the whole trip.

9:30am we were dress for the day and walking through the lobby to start exploring for the day. We passed Quang who also happened to be wearing a fedora, so I yelled across the lobby “hey, one fedora per crew.” Yep that line from Workaholics, but no one watches it, so I was the only one laughing. He was getting back from an early morning run around the town. Our day 2 adventure was just beging. As we made our way, we passed so many people dressed in white and red that just finished up Running with the Bulls. It was about a 15- 20 minute walk from our hotel, when we arrived at the famous Cafe Du Monde.

Photo Credit: Quang Tran

Whoa the line was so long! Jess estimated it was about an hour and a half to two hour wait to be seated at a table. We double checked our schedule and noticed the steamboat we were going on for lunch boards an hour earlier than we thought at 11am. It would have been a tight squeeze but then Jess remember there was a take-out line that would probably be shorter. She walked around and found it while I was waiting in line. Sure enough, there it was take-out and cash only. I scurried on over and it took about 15-20 minutes. Got an iced Café Au Lait and an order of fresh hot beignets.

We decided to cross the street to Jackson Square, sit on a park bench and enjoy the scenery, while we indulged in our beignets. Our plan was to tour St. Louis Cathedral, before we had to meet the rest of our group at the Nachetz steamboat, for our jazz cruise on the Mississippi River. I didn’t realize how messy eating powdery beignets could be on a warm windy July morning. Powder sugar everywhere! Finishing up and cleaning off, we had to go straight to the boat to board.

We definitely didn’t get the memo, to arrive extra early because people were already boarding and there was still a very long line. We took turns, one of us standing in line, while the other checked-in and picked up their ticket from the ticket office. Thank goodness it was located right in front of the boat’s loading dock. The rest of our group met us in the dinning room. We purchased lunch with our tickets, and indulged in delicious fried catfish, red beans and rice, and mashed potatoes with brown gravy. Our host, Gina, was phenomenal! She gave us plenty of good tips for the rest our trip, and helped the birthday girl celebrate.

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

After we finished eating, we explored the boat, listen to some live jazz music up top, and relaxed. We went back to the dinning room to escape the heat towards the end of the cruise. Some of us decided to head back to the hotel, to get some sun around the pool. Three of us decided to stay out exploring. One of my friends, that had been to New Orleans, suggested to check out Magazine Street. I told the other two about it, and did a quick google search and were set. Before we got off the boat, we decided to sit back and wait until majority of the people got off. After a about 20 minutes, we made our way off.

We made our way off to a bizarre sight. A train had stopped blocking everyone from leaving the dock area and crossing back into the French Quarter. People were actually climbing the stopped carts and crossing to the other side. We waited about 15-20 minutes and it finally got started moving and cleared the way.

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Next, we hopped on a bus and took about a 15 minute ride to Magazine Street. While were on the bus, a young hipster couple gave us a few recommendations. So much to see and taste! We wondered into a costume and vintage store called Funky Monkey. Goofed around trying on silly hats and picking out some funky outfits. We spotted a Buffalo Exchange, and came to the conclusion, that we’d lookup all their locations to find all the hipster city destinations.

After browsing and wonder through a few more stores and art shops we found this place called Balcony Bar. The couple from the bus recommend it. Thank goodness there was Air Conditioner! We were sun drenched and needed to cool off. We made our way upstairs to sit on the balcony, but realized there wouldn’t be air conditioner out there. So we decided to take a seat a the bar up stairs. To our surprise, they had pretty much all local brews on tap. We had them pour us up a round, and we got to talking. Before we knew it about an hour and a half of pretty deep heart-to-heart conversations passed between the three of us. Then we realized we needed to get back to the French Quarter for our Haunted Tour

A little frantic, scurrying and we found our bus back, and made it just in time for the tour to start. The rest of our group already made it there. We did the 4-in-1 Witches, Ghost, Vampires & Voodoo Walking Tour by Witches Brew Tours. I highly recommend them, and if you can get the tour guide that goes by the name Skip. He was pretty fantastic! A little different approach, very honest, real, and threw in some interesting history behind the places we visited. See if you can spot any ghostly images in the pictures I took. Some of the stories included, having dinner with a ghost, a captain haunting a balcony, Jacques Saint Germaine the vampire, Marie Laveau, and Madame LaLaurie.

By the time our tour ended, we realized we had to get back to the hotel ASAP to get ready for the Birthday dinner. Then, with a little more re-evaluating our situation, looking at a GPS, and Uber prices we realized, we could just walk to the restaurant and get there early. A few decided to run back, yeah I’m not that athletic, and stayed with the group that walked to the restaurant.

The reservations were for Cafe Amelie. Since we were about 45 minutes early, we decided to find a coffee shop near by. Well, we didn’t have to go far at all. Next door, is Petite Amelie. Coffee, Wine, beer, breakfast, brunch, and lunch. I guess quick casual gourmet meals, or as they say, “cuisine rapide.” They have the best gumbo!!! (It’s also the same gumbo from Cafe Amelie

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

We checked in for our reservation, and our table was ready. Dinner in the famous romantic courtyard. Everyone that was back at our hotel eventually arrived. Everyone order a different glass of wine and we had our own wine tasting fun. I ordered the Two Run Farms Lamb Meatloaf: cucumber tomatoe salad with tzatziki on brioche. Delicious! Great flavor and portion size. Enough to make you full but not too much that you’ll have to get a to-go box.

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Über back to our hotel to shower and change for another night out on the town. A little bit of drama with who, what, when and where we were going but cleared up and headed to Frenchmen Street. On our ghost tour, Skip, told us of a terrifying legend. The Axe Man, apparently was a serial killer, hacking whole households throughout New Orleans. He wrote a note to the city Newspaper saying that he liked jazz music. Gave a time of 12:15pm with a warning that as he was passing through the city, if he strolled passed a house hold not playing jazz music at 12:15am, he would murder them. So back to our night out on Frenchmen Street. We made sure we were listening to jazz music at 12:15AM. Had a blast hopping from bar-to-bar dancing and goofing around everywhere we went.Towards the end of the night, we decided to head to the casino, Harrahs.

We split into two Ubers, and our’s arrived first. Walked in, for my first time ever in a casino! It was vibrant, noise and fun. We headed to the middle of the casino, where there was a dance floor and Dj. The rest of our friends arrived and we continued to dance the night away. I think we got back to our hotel around 4 AM. Very long and amazing day exploring New Orleans.

This mini vacations was definitely an experience to remember. Traveling with big group that had a vast array of personalities was very interesting. I learned more about myself and the way I handle situations with different personality types. Put those communication skills to work. As I’m getting older, I still use the Golden Rule, but I learned occasionally to get things done or for your own peace of mind, you just have to be direct, honest and not worry if you move forward with or without everyone. Anyone else ever have a vacation go exactly as planned? We all know that’s a rare beauty! Stay tuned for Day 3’s bizarre turn of events that made me really sit back and think about common courtesy, being an adult, and all the crazy racism finger pointing that’s been the media’s lasted two news frenzy. Below are some more pictures from Day 2 and for more information on all the fun places we went, I posted blue links throughout the article.

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

What happened to the Golden Rule?

The other day I saw someone post a picture of a guy wearing a white suit in line at what looked like the ER. This poor guy must have been mortified because from the picture it looked like he pooped his pants. The picture was taken from behind so the guy probably had no idea it was taken. Why?

That’s what I asked when I saw the picture. Now the acquaintance that posted the picture has alway posted dumb things. Usually I ignore them, but this one saddened me. What happened to the Golden Rule? What happened to respecting another person’s dignity?

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Do unto others as you would have them do to you. In high school and college and volunteered and worked for a summer camp. Children’s Association For Maximum Potential Camp or C.A.M.P. Camp. A very special camp because we adapted all the activities so that children with disabilities could participate. It was an eye opening experience, to be a camp counselor, 15 years old, taking care of a child that couldn’t community their every day needs. Working with these children, taught me so much about dignity and empathy.

I remember my first camper was a 6 year old girl that had Angelman Syndrome. She didn’t talk, had difficulty walking and always appeared to be so happy. Those are some of the characteristics of Angelman Syndrome. Because of the disability she was born with causes severe intellectual development, I wasn’t sure what she could and couldn’t comprehend. Her parents indicated her mental age was equivalent to about a 1 year old. Stop and imagine this. Imagine being a 6 year old child, now imagine having difficulty walking, not being able to understand words, or any speech. Imagine waking up day-to-day, as a growing human being and possibly not having any thoughts on what’s going on around you and just following along as guided. Not being able to say I’m hungry, tired, full. It’s a very special life. You bring understanding, patience, and beauty to the world.

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One day my camper had an upset stomach and already leaked through two changes of clothes. I already sent her other clothes to be washed but I couldn’t let her skip her activities while we waited for clean clothes. She only gets to experience camp once a year. So I dug through my, trunk of clothes and dressed her in my clothes. They were a little big but she still got to have fun.

That was just my very first camper. Over the next few years, throughout high school and college, I had the privilege of taking care of many special campers. Each one taught me different things about disabilities, enjoying every precious life, and respect others.

Remember, no matter how educated, talented, rich, or cool you believe you are, how you treat people ultimately tells all about yourself. Integrity is everything. Do you feel like people treat you the way you want them to? Have you treated them with the same respect or better if they have not?

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HEAVEN’S VERY SPECIAL CHILD

A meeting was held quite far from Earth! It’s time again for another birth. Said the Angels to the LORD above, This Special Child will need much love. His progress may be very slow, Accomplishments he may not show. And he’ll require extra care From the folks he meets down there. He may not run or laugh or play, His thoughts may seem quite far away, In many ways he won’t adapt, And he’ll be known as handicapped. So let’s be careful where he’s sent, We want his life to be content. Please LORD, find the parents who Will do a special job for you. They will not realize right away The leading role they’re asked to play, But with this child sent from above Comes stronger faith and richer love. And soon they’ll know the privilege given In caring for their gift from Heaven. Their precious charge, so meek and mild, Is HEAVEN’S VERY SPECIAL CHILD.

by Edna Massionilla December 1981 The Optomist- newsletter for PROUD Parents Regional Outreach for Understanding Down’s Inc.

Reverb and Dave Matthews Band Bama Green Project

Have you read Laudato Si’’ ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME by Pope Francis? Applause if you have and completed it. I’m only at section 64 of 240 sections. Obviously I can’t speak too in depth about it. So far I under stand we should be more aware of our environment and help to care for it.

We must be grateful for the praiseworthy efforts being made by scientists and engineers dedicated to finding solutions to man-made problems. But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly. We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.

Yes! I love volunteering! I found a pretty cool organization called Reverb, that I recently volunteered for. They are definitely making some moves to change the impact music tours have on our environment. Austin is know for live music and amazing concerts. So Reverb coming through helps with band tours help our community greatly.

REVERB is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 2004 by environmentalist Lauren Sullivan and her musician husband, Adam Gardner of Guster. REVERB creates and executes comprehensive, custom programs to green the tour itself while engaging concertgoers to take action for the environment.

Pretty cool huh? I had the opportunity to volunteer with them for the Bama Green Project for the Dave Matthews Band 2 sets tour, at the 360 Amphitheater Circuit of the Americas. Some of the things they do consist of setting up Eco Villages, encouraging recycling, providing bands with aluminum reusable water bottles to refill, switching the tour busses to biodiesel, just to name a few. But so much work and planning goes into these tours. The volunteer coordinator explained to us that our volunteer t-shirts and the merchandise were designed about a year in advance. Organic merchandise, shirts made out of recycled materials.

Johnson’s Backyard Garden was the local organic farm they partnered with. As a volunteer, I helped sell these awesome water bottles, made from recycled materials, before the concert started. The money that was raised selling the water bottles was donated to Johnson’s Backyard Garden. Then the monetary value of organic produce from JBG was donated to the Austin Food Bank. So much done for the local community!  Oh, and by volunteering, I got general admission into the concert. I highly recommend volunteering with them when they come through your town.

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This Is My Confession

Big girls don’t cry right? If only that were true! So I wrote about PMDD in The Fear of Falling Apart II, and how it can bring me to tears. Of course, life must go on, and I can’t let it define me. Even though I can be in an incredible amount of pain, sometimes I have too much going on to stay crying about. How do I pull myself together and look put together?

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Let me introduce you to my best friend for that, Confessions of a Concealaholic by Benefit. The current kit I have was a little dismembered by one of my Godsons that wanted to color.
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It’s s adorably packaged like a diary. Inside, there’s a mirror! Perfect if you’re using it on the go.
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There’s also a booklet, detailing how to use each product, creatively written like journal entries.
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My knowledge and use of make products is not very vast, but this takes me from a blotchy-eyed mess to a glamorous bright eyed beaut.
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My questions for y’all:

Has anyone else used this fabulous miracle? What did you think?

Any other recommendations?

8 Central Texas Day Trips For Kids

******Wow! The first time I posted this summer fun list was two years ago. Now these two munchkins are teenagers going into high school! (They are also both taller than me!) So far, every summer, they still ask me to take them on at least one YO Adventure. *****

First Day of a new school year is less than a week away for most Central Texas schools. There’s still plenty of time to take your family on a few adventures! The past two years, majority of my spare time was spent adventuring Central Texas with my baby Sister and Godson.

Catherine and Dominic are just about the same age, just a few months apart. As they we coming into their preteen age, they started developing the own attuides. So, to get them out of the house and back down to earth, I started taking them on day trips. Dominic is fan of Drake, and around the time we started these adventures “Y.O.L.O.” was a popular phrase. While taking pictures of our trips, they started posing as a “Y” and “O”, calling them “YO Adventures.” Aren’t they cute?

Well here’s a list of a some of our “YO Adenventures” in the Central Texas area. Most of these places are inexpensive and only need a day to conquer! Don’t forget to pack bug spray, sunblock, and stay hydrated. Have fun and use  #YOAdentures if y’all post pictures. Our instagram is  @YOAdventures

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Jacob’s Well: Wimberley, TX

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Enchanted Rock- Fredericksburg, Texas

*hiking

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Glass Bottom Boat Tours -San Marcos, Texas

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McKinney Falls State Park – Austin, Texas

*swimming, hiking, and camping

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Canoeing – Austin, Texas

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Kayaking -San Antonio, Texaimage
image Fiesta Texas – San Antonio, Texas

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Sea World – San Antonio, Texas

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Barton Springs – Austin, Texas

Taste Texas: Castroville: Haby’s Alsatian Bakery

A deliciously delightful Texas must stop, Alsatian bakery on the drive home. I’ve mention plenty of times before that I am from the city of San Antonio, but my Mom’s family’s hometown is D’Hanis, Texas. Located slightly southwest of San Antonio, a beautiful Texas country side drive down Highway 90. 

 Some thing else I may not have mention, I went to elementary school outside of the city, in the first charming small town going down 90, Castroville. St. Louis Catholic School, now we’re talkin’ real small town, schooling. When I attended, there was only about 100 kids in the entire school. So one class of about 15 to maybe 20 students for each grade level. Yep, I had the same classmates every year. Well, one of my favorite Texas bakeries, was just down the street and around the corner from my school. (Actually, everything in this town is basically down the street and around the corner.) 

    

Last week my Mom and I were driving through town and stopped by. We ended up sparking a petty good conversation with the friendly staff and customers. “The meat market down the street, Dzuiks, how do you pronounce the name?” Everyone pronounced it differently. “The ‘D’ is silent.” “No, the ‘Z’ is silent.” “I’ve always pronounced it with a ‘J’ sound.” I guess next time I’m passing through I’ll have to stop by for some deer jerky and ask the staff. 

 Haby’s Alsatian Bakery! Castroville is a French-Alsatian settled town. Founded by Henri Castro, in 1844. A lot of the original settlers from Alsace, influence is still visible today. Haby’s has an assortment of fresh baked pastries. So delicious, light, fluffy, and sweet. They also bake cakes for every occasion. Oh, the oatmeal raisin cookiesare my favorite! 

 

A Family Tradition: Quinceañera

I remember turning 14 and my mom asking me if I wanted to have a quinceanera. (These extravagant birthday parties take about a whole year in advance of planning.) “No thank you,” I replied. I was a really shy kid. A crowd of people watching me attempt a dance. Nope.

 One of my cousin’s recently had her Quinceanera in our family’s hometown of D’Hanis, Texas. Emily has grown into a beautiful lovely young lady. I remember there was quite a big scare when she was born. Her mother is my second cousin. (It’s weird cause she looks much like my mom but she’s family so that makes sense.) Anyway, my cousin Donna went into labor at just a mere 25 weeks of pregnancy. I remember Emily was so tiny. There was neonatal experts taking care of her.

 She made it through and now she’s 15 years old! I’m not really close with her but a birthday celebration is a huge milestone and it was amazing to see who she has become.

 She was surrounded by her parents, and school friends. She still seems kind of quiet and shy, just like I was.   Quinceaneras usually have a Mass at church, then a dinner followed by a waltz and then a dance for everyone to join in. While the finally set ups for the dinner were taking place we were entertained by some mariachis and a little dancing. I had to leave before the dance to get back up to Austin but again. I love getting celebrate and see how lovely of a little lady Emily has grown into. 

Taste Texas: San Antonio: Casa Rio

It’s the Riverwalk. It’s family. It’s delicious Tex-Mex food. It’s tradition. What else do you think of when you hear someone mention San Antonio’s Casa Rio? 

My mouth waters, my stomach hungrily grumbles, I feel all warm and fuzzy and I think of the countless memories eating there with my family.  I’ve mostly eaten on the patio, so I picture those iconic vibrantly colored table umbrellas along the river walk. Centrally located, it’s so easy to find. Commerce, “you know right by that big red sculptor, but go down stairs along the Riverwalk.”  If you’re from San Antonio you probably given directions like this.  My grandma and I usually order the Regular plate: “A Favorite Since 1946 – Cheese enchilada, tamale, chili con carne, mexican rice, and refried beans.” Did you read that? Do you see the picture? It’s so much food! Oh glorious Tex-Mex food!

The restaurant was established in 1946. Making this one of the oldest restaurant and businesses on the Riverwalk. They host private events and with their historic space and catering. They even have river barge dinners. Next time your on the Riverwalk of San Antonio, stop by enjoy the atmosphere with some delicious San Antonio Tex-Mex and maybe a margarita while the mariachis serenade you.  

Visit Casa Rio

Rain Rain Go and Play: 7 South Austin Rainy Day Pick-Me-Ups

Rain, rain, rain. The Austin weather forecast has been flooded with rain everyday. (See what I did there?) My family, recently, came to visit and of course it was raining the whole time they were here. We didn’t let it damper our weekend. So what is there to discover in Austin on a rainy day? Well grab your umbrella or poncho and try these seven places!

1. First stop Chi’Lantro:– mhmm! Korean BQQ and Mexican infusion. Austin favorite for their mouth watering Kimchi Fries. 

2. Hula Hut:– it’s nice and pretty during the summer months to sit out in the sun with friends and enjoy some refreshing beverages, but it’s also just as relaxing on a rainy day. A little therapeutic, indulging in some chips and queso, sipping on a piña coladas, while listening and watching the rain fall on the lake.  

 3. Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds:– wall-to-wall of costumes, vintage clothing, and ascessories. So much fun looking around! You’ll probably leave with something you didn’t know you want but don’t need.

  

4. Uncommon Objects:-whew sensory overload! Wall-to-wall and floor to ceiling of antiques furnishings and just like it called Uncommon Objects.    



 

5. Gordough’s Public House:-This one was my family’s favorite! Donuts for buns!!!

  
  
  
6. Allen’s Boots:– With all the food in this list, you have to have some nice comfortable cowboy boots to walk it off. Don’t forget, just because we are in Austin (it’s a little weird), we’re still in Texas. They have such a gorgeous selection.

  
  
 
7. Lick Honest Ice Cream:– My favorite ice cream shop in Austin and San Antonio. Simply delicious! All local, Central Texas, ingredients. This time, I got Texas Sheet Cake, Goat Cheese Thyme & Honey, and Pecans & Cream. My sister had the Roasted Beets & Fresh Mint. My mom had the Dark Chocolate with Olive Oil & Sea Salt