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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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. 

Fear of Falling Apart II: Living with PMDD

It’s absolutely life crippling! The overwhelming rush of anxiety, the excruciating pain that brings you to tears and the depressing thoughts that consume you. As soon as it starts I wish it would stop. Heck, I wish it would never even start. 

Today, I’m trying second by second to pass the time. I started trying to organize my clothes, so that I can take some for donations to flood victims. Here I am, two hours later with barely any progress. I have to keep stopping because the cramps back pain fell like someone is stabbing me with red hot iron rod trying to brand me. Lay down, stretch, cry, get up move a few pieces of clothes, feel a surge of pain, feel like passing out, fight tears, sit down, lay my head in my knees, fight more tears, hug my legs so that I’m in a fetal position, give up, lay down cry and repeat.

So what is PMDD? Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Say what? Premenstrual? Isn’t that PMS? The answer is yes, but it’s much more severe. The cramps and back pain, the emotional and behavioral symptoms are intensified.

Relationships with friends, family and loved one are often damaged. My family has learned to be understanding and supportive. They help me by asking about my diet, giving friendly reminders to consume plenty of calcium and vitamins. I’ve lashed out a few time or broken down in tears with them. They’ve prayed with me and help through it.

Ugh relationships! I know I sure have jumped the gun on scaring some away. The anxiety creeps in and takes over. I wanted nothing more than to be hugged and comforted through this time. Usually it comes across as me being needy, because I’m not ready to reveal what I’m actually going through. “Oh hey, btw, I have PMDD it’s like PMS but a million times worse. Now hug me and don’t let go until it’s over but watch what you say to me please.” Even my best friend now still gets frustrated because I bottle up a lot of what I’m feeling and thinking and lash out little things I normally wouldn’t mind.

I don’t like that I have to go through this every month. I especially don’t want to burden anyone else. It’s 10 days! 10 days that will eventually pass. I forget how intense it can be until the next month rolls around and I am back on the floor uncontrollably cry because of the pain and emotional waves I’m feeling. It seem to have amplified with some of the recent stresses I’ve felt. My best friend helped me discover I’m very expressive with my thoughts, in my writing about things, I wouldn’t otherwise say out loud. We’ve worked on some of my communicating what I’m feeling through writing. Making writing therapeutic and sometimes a way for getting that turmoil out. It has helped us both. As you can now understand some of my more personal articles have been working through these things and more like letters. My friend has often read my writings and told me they had no idea that’s what was going on in my head.

I captured this picture of myself trying to fight the awful thoughts going through my head and the physical pain I am feeling. No filtering, this is me at, what I think is my worst reflection of myself. I have been cry all day. Thoughts normally that would never cross my mind anxiously build up. “I am home alone. My dog is my only friend. I’m hurting so much right now and what if I pass out and nobody knows. Where is my friend. Why isn’t he here. Am I doing something wrong? I haven’t let him get to know me because I keep so much thoughts hidden inside. When will this pass? What if he doesn’t like who he thinks am I. I feel like I’m about to pass out. What if he doesn’t really know me. Is this a panic attack? I need to tell him all this stuff now. Understand that this passes and I will be back to my sarcastic busy self soon. Busy self, I have so much I have to do. Am I too busy? Am I not giving enough attention to all the people I care about? I can’t move. My back hurts so bad. I need to sit down.” All this within seconds, on repeat in my head. Whatever hormones I get an excise of during this time, that makes me feel like there’s an emotional and physical storm happening to me, I strongly dislike you!

It’s been so hard living away from all my loved ones. Writing, taking hikes, and working on recipes help when I can pull myself together. There are days were just turning in bed feel too much to bare. Sometimes I wish to be able to move back and be around all of my family and close friends. Then, like right now, something happens that helps me be at ease. Scrolling down Facebook someone posted Psalm 55:22.

“Cast your cares on the Lord & He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.”

I know I’m not alone and God is here with me. This is temporary and I will get through it. Until then I have to remember to redirect my thoughts to prayers and just talking with God. I pray for all the ladies, and their loved one, out there going through the same thing. Have patience and peace you’ll get through it. I pray for anyone that has long term anxiety, depression or chronic pain. I know that is a different monster to battle than what I face. Just breathe and even though I may not personally know you, know that I understand a little of what you’re going through and I’m praying for you.

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

Hey, where have you been Sydney?

I am about a month and a half behind on posting all the articles I’ve written for y’all be cause I’ve been stressing. My work contract ends today, March 26, 2015. Well, get ready for some delightfully delicious, faith and Texas inspiring reading because I just signed the offer to work directly with the company I’ve been contracted with for the last year.

Five years ago, if you asked where I’d be in five years or what’s my five year plan, I never in my wildest dreams thought I be right here. I would have told you “still in medical school, probably just starting residency.” Or Working with autistic children. Of course life doesn’t always happen the way you plan or want it to.

I left undergrad school, with a pretty decent GPA, and MCAT score and just a year left to finish. Starting to look into medical schools. Why did I leave? My family needed me. Faith, family, and food that’s me. My mom was going through a terrible divorce that lasted almost 4 years. I’ve written about her ex-husband, that horrid nightmare, here. My brother and sisters were about 12, 10, and the youngest 7 years old. I moved back home, helping with school pick-ups, drop offs, finances, parenting and still working at the golf course. Eventually shifting my goals to business banking and working my way up.

Summing up the last few years, my family was able to overcome our hardships and move forward. Now what to do, go back to school? I lost that desire for medical school. I guess move to a different city? My friend, Jack, directed me to a contracting job for a pretty big tech company. I was hesitant, told him, I don’t know anything about tech stuff but he assured me that I would do well because I understood the business aspect of companies from working in business banking.

Alright, said a prayer and took that leap of faith.

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So for the last year, I’ve pretty much been competing for my job with other contractors. Now this company is located in Austin, and so many people living in the city and working for this company embrace the “Keep Austin weird” culture and strive to be unique and different from anyone else.

Let’s face it, come on, come in close, group hug, they’re actually all the same. Shocking! I’ve met some really nice and interesting people. Then I met a just a ton of one uppers and realized how little patients I have some times. Jack, was right. I was able to succeed because of my business knowledge and hard work. I also stayed true to myself. Always keeping in mind to stay balanced with the exciting innovations and remembering the business needs.

Finding balance is what I was born to do. Seriously, my mom is Catholic and my dad is Buddhist. Obviously their marriage didn’t workout but growing up I learned a lot of traditions, had culture overload, strong Catholic faith and also learned to always take a step back. Look at the paths behind me, see the possible paths ahead of me, trust in God so that which ever step I take forward he’s right there with me leading me to where I should be.

How do you shine in a crowd of unique individuals lusting to outshine everyone else? Know yourself, hold on to the traditions and culture you’ve always known. Be open minded and acknowledging of different. Balance and you’ll surely emit an incandescent glow shining brighter than the rest.

Que Pasa Central Texas

Mid-September is already here and festival season has begun. There’s so many events happening in Central Texas this month. So pack your sunblock, bug spray, and water bottles and head out to an event on this list, deep in the heart of Texas. See y’all out and about.

*Oui! Wednesday|Passport to Paris: French Language
Where: San Antonio- McNay Art Museum
When: every Wednesday- December 17
Time: 2pm
More information
Cost: Free with museum admission

*Art|Music|Food-Second Thursdays
Where:San Antonio- McNay Art Museum
When:every 2nd Thursday of the month
Time: 6-9pm
More information
Cost:Free

*Movies in the Park: “Raising Arizona”
Where:Austin- Republic Square
When: September 11
Time:8pm
Cost: Free

*2nd Fridays: Art Walk
Where: San Antonio- N.St.Marys street & Josephine Street
When: September 12
Time:6pm- 10pm

*Second Saturdays
Where: San Antonio- S. Flores St.
When: September 13
Time:6pm- 10pm
More information
El Campo will be an awesome band to checkout

*Banger’s Smoke-out Saturday
Where: Austin- Banger’s on Rainey St.
When: September 13
Time: 11am
More information

*Utopiafest
Where: Utopia-Four Sisters Ranch
When: September 12-14
More information

*Capitol of Texas QuiltFest Fiesta
Where: Austin- Palmer Event Center
When: September 12-14
http://www.captxquiltfest.org

*Los Lonely Boys
Where: New Bruanfels- Gruene Hall
When:September 12
Time: 8pm
http://gruenehall.com

*Viva Mexico!
Where: Austin- Mexican American Culture Center
When: September 13
Time: 7pm
More information

*Échale! Block party
Where: San Antonio- History Pearl Brewery
When: September 13
Time: 1pm- 6pm
http://atpearl.com/calendar/echale

*Kings of Leon| Mechanical Bull Tour with Young The Giant and Kongos
Where:Austin- Austin360 Amphitheater
When:September 13
Time: 5:30pm
http://austin360amphitheater.com/events/kings-of-leon-with-young-the-giant-and-kongos

Tour de Vin by The Food & Wine Foundation of Texas
Where: Austin- W Austin
When: September 18
Time: 6pm
http://www.winefoodfoundation.org/events/tour-de-vin/

*Fowler Fest 2014
Where: Austin- Nutty Brown Cafe
When: September 20
http://nuttybrown.com/concert-calendar/fowler-fest-2014

*Texas Craft Brewers Festival
Where: Austin- Fiesta Gardens
When: September 27
http://texascraftbrewersfestival.org

*South Texas Corn Maize opens
Where: Hondo
When: September 27
More Information

*Schlotzsky’s 32nd Bun Run with fastest dog in Austin race
Where:Austin- Alterra Parkway & Kramer Lane
When: September 28
More information

*San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Bar-B-Que Off & Festival
Where: Freeman Coliseum/ AT & T Center grounds
When: September 25- 27
http://www.sarodeo.com/attractions/bar-b-que-cook-off-and-festival

Transformation Tuesday: Getting Healthy

Just a few weeks short, from two years, since I had the shingles. Oh what terrible experience! About six months before I started working out with my friend, Brandon, that is a personal trainer. Now I’ve always been relatively petit, but I wanted to be fit.

We’d workout once or twice a week, cardio, boxing, weight. My work schedule at the time never allowed me to get on a constant routine. Eh, I was still slowly getting stronger. Now, I did not change my diet, if any thing I probably ate worst. So I wasn’t seeing results, just feeling stronger.

It was about mid-September when I woke up in the middle of the night. There was a stinging feeling along my lower right side of my back wrapping around my hip. There was a trail of bumps that looked like spider bites along my hip. The next two days I went out and about with my day, but the pain was getting worse.

I showed my grandma, telling her I thought it was spider bites. She gasped and told me it reminded her of when she had the shingles. She said it follows my lower back nerve line, “and those bumps that look like spider bites are going to start blistering.” Of course, she was right. I went to the doctor the next day and sure enough, diagnosis, Shingles. I was quickly put on pain meds, given a strict diet, and instructed to stay away from babies and senior citizens.

What is Shingles? Well, you chicken pox? The virus never leaves your body. It stays dormant in your nerves, your whole life. When it reactivates, it painfully emerges as the shingles. It can be activated, by stress, low immune system, etc. It starts off looking like bug bites. It follows a nerve line. As days progress without treatment, it’ll start to blister. Then after about 2-4 weeks the blisters go away and you are left with scares and pain. The pain level, during blistering, is said to be worse than child birth.

It was about 4-5 days in before I started any treatments so my case ended up being relatively severe. Since it was along my long back and hip nerve line, I could barely walk. I grew very weak and was in bed for about three and half weeks. The strict diet limited pretty much everything, so my body would absorb the medication better. My scars have mostly healed, but the pain still slightly lingers.

Once I recovered, and was able to have a regular diet again, I started running. I tried running a few fun 5k marathons to help get my strength and endurance back up. I still felt weak and my weight, was way under healthy, my size. So, I decided to just eat everything I want for a few months, no holding back to put on some weight on.

In April this year, I finally reached a weight a little over my previously normal range. I was so excited, because I wanted to start working out again. This time with a goal to reach my peak fitness. Now I don’t want to become one of those scary buff looking girls. I’ve concentrated on making healthier choice. Subbing quinoa for rice has made a huge difference! You have no idea how hard it is for an Asian to give up as jasmine rice.

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Taking my vitamins everyday has also helped me have more energy, making workouts and running a little easier. I’m not as strong as I want to be yet, but I definitely on my way to being my healthiest self yet.

Music Monday: No Man Is An Island

Lately it seems a lot of people I know are going through some difficult circumstances. Most people tend to retreat to their own island trying to figure things out on their own. I am definetly guilty of this. Either out of pride or embarrassment, I like to figure things out on my own. While driving in the car I heard, Tenth Avenue North’s song “No Man is an Island,” it’s remind us that we should not carry our burdens alone. Choosing to walk by faith in God, who is a Trinity, we are also supposed to live as a community. As a community sometimes we need to reach out and help others and sometimes we are the people that need help. Someone else in your community just my have that fresh perspective that can help work things out. “For none of us lives for himeself, and none of us dies for himeself” -Romans 14.7