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Dining in Dallas

Greetings on a warm but wet day in Mexico! I kept telling myself I really HAD to do one post from the deep South and then our vacation took over and here we are on our final day!

It’s raining here and windy outside so I thought I’d take a few minutes to update you. The Internet is Ok here but it’s not working to pull pics off my camera so all I have are a couple I snapped on my phone on the way down.

We were looking for this trip to be as inexpensive as possible so we could potentially swing another trip in Feb/March when we’re dying from the cold weather (speaking of cold, Mom wrote that parts of WI got 4+ inches of snow! I’m NOT ready to come home to that). It’s convenient but pricey to fly out of Green Bay so we opted to try connecting from Milwaukee. That meant packing up right after work, and driving down the night before.

We stopped halfway in Oostburg because Ben has really wanted to try Pizza Ranch.



It was really good. I couldn’t believe how wonderfully friendly all of the workers were there. We “ordered” a pepperoni and sausage pizza from the buffet. Once it’s cooked, they bring it to your table first before putting out on the buffet for others. That way everyone is sure to get a pizza they like. I love that!

We got into our hotel in Milwaukee around 8pm and found out their “free” 24-hour shuttle service (the reason we picked this hotel) was only free between 7am and 11pm. Our flights were leaving at 5:30am and coming back at 11:15pm. Argh!

So we got stuck with a $12 shuttle fee but the driver was a really nice guy who had actually been to the resort we were going to. How funny is that?

We hopped on our first 2+ hour flight and landed in Dallas excited but really, really hungry. More pizza!

We enjoy people watching but I also like to be a bit away from the hustle and chaos so we found a restaurant up stairs that had open windows for viewing below. It was empty and quiet. Perfect!


We chose a pepperoni and sausage pizza with caramelized red onions.


Really good! We were able to enjoy a relaxing lunch, check work emails for the last time, and text our traveling buddies as they were making their connection out of Miami.

In the plane, hat was on!


We totally scored on the second connection into Cancun. We didn’t have assigned seats and so the only spots free were the ones at the front of coach that cost additional $$$. So we were placed there for free AND there was no one sitting in the third seat so we had extra wiggle room. I am never that lucky. Normally we’re somewhere around row 20 and this time we were in row 7. Hurray!!!

It was warm landing in the airport but nothing like Punta Cana last year. We were sticky and sweaty but the airport is closed and air conditioned. We did get the red button and had to have all our luggage searched… and I noticed there was a huge gaping hole in my luggage and the fob that you grab on to to pull your zipper had been torn off. What?

But the rest of the trip to the resort was uneventful. We had fun and talkative people on the shuttle and check-in was easy. We called our buddies who landed 2 hours earlier, swung by their room for hugs while waiting for our luggage, and then took showers (at 3pm).

I have a zillion food pictures to show you. I think right now I’m going to see if I can coax anyone to swim with me in the pouring rain. I am NOT spending my last hours inside!

Just a Few More Hours

Buenas noches, señoras y señores! ¿Cómo estás esta noche? Le gustaría ir a México conmigo?

I’m practicing. So far I can order three margaritas, ask where the bathroom is, and count to ten. I’m ready.

We’re finishing up a few things around the house, getting final packing done and then we’re driving down to Milwaukee for 5 nights in Puerto Morelos, Riviera Maya Mexico. It’s a much needed trip for both of us and we’re once again meeting up with our vacation buddies from Pittsburgh. I have a feeling much more silliness will ensue. We’re young when we’re on vacation! (And just a little crazy)

Will there be more sombreros? I don’t know!


It’s good timing. Even as I’m typing this the rain is pounding down against the window panes and it sounds a little icy. Tomorrow the temps are supposed to be 58 (SO high for this time of year) but then plummet into the low 40s/high 30s. Take me away baby!

I am enjoying the fleetingly beautiful sunrises on the way to work. It feels like there are just a couple weeks when they hit right as I’m driving to work.



Really pretty, don’t you think?

The colder temps are making people realize all of a sudden that the holidays are closer than they appear. For a while it seemed everyone kept grimacing whenever Christmas was mentioned but sheesh, Next week is Thanksgiving!!!

And the stores have been ready… I took this picture the day BEFORE Halloween:


But I may also be in Heaven. I LOVE Christmas!! I was making a quick store return and hopped into the Christmas section to snap this and send to Ben. He just laughs at me. :-)


It’s all good. We’ll be back and re-integrated into work and all that “fun” stuff before turkey day and can see if there’s anything worth fighting the crowds for – but all that can wait for now.

My plan is to throw up a post or two from Mexico but we’ll see how that works with the resort WIFI and how ambitious I am. I may just go directly from the plane to a warm lounge chair and not move until it’s time to head back home.


Practicing for Mexico

Oh we’re getting anxious for our trip next week. It’s funny how that excitement reaches a point where “poof” you just want to BE THERE. I am there! Sadly, we have a few days left to go so we decided some Mexican food was in order.

That means American nachos:


And margaritas the size of my face:


Ben and I decided to split one and I am glad. I took 4 sips and was done. I love margaritas but they seem to be the alcohol I’m most sensitive about. This lady can only handle small doses. That means more for Ben!


We swung around and picked Alex up from work since he was taking on a longer shift. He wanted to make a cameo appearance:


I love it! :)

Anything you guys are excited about? Anyone prepping for Turkey day yet? Mom has her menu all worked out but wants to finalize a few things. I’m good as long as there’s plenty of stuffing because that’s my favorite!!!

PS: It’s Friday the 13th!! BEWARE. MUHAHAHAHAHA!

Happy Veteran’s Day

Hello and THANK YOU to the men and women (and their families) who have served and are serving to keep our country a safe place. We can’t thank you enough for your courage and your sacrifices!!

It feels too minimal to just say “thanks” and I was watching football this past weekend and saw a commercial encouraging people to put out green light bulbs to honor and support our vets. That got me excited for the show of solidarity but then I thought… isn’t it just a show? Can’t we do better? Don’t our vets deserve more?

I remember years ago when people purchased bumped stickers during the Afghan war and a portion of the proceeds were supposed to go to soldiers. It’s always hard to know what organizations are the best at taking your dollars and putting them to good use but I did some Internet searching for direct ways I could help support a Vet.

I stumbled across Operation Gratitude – a web site FULL of ways you can directly impact the lives of soldiers and vets!operation gratitude

There are instructions on how you can write letters to vets. They have a variety of interesting programs so you’re sure to find a way you can get involved.

There is a program where people knit/crochet hats and scarves and send them to soldiers and vets:


They coordinate, pack, and ship care packages to soldiers overseas too:


The website talks about items that you can donate. If you’re not crafty or don’t have much time, each package costs $15 to ship and you can easily donate. I made a donation to ship some care packages and I printed out the details because I am thinking of making a few scarves too!

This Veteran’s Day, I really encourage all of you to do MORE than just post a “thanks” on your blog or Facebook page. Let’s support these heroes in ways that will really make an impact!!!

Little Italy

YES, I squeaked by and got a fantasy football win last night. I picked up three players to fill bye slots and between all three, they didn’t even score one point. How does that happen!? Regardless, I eeked by and sit in 3rd place in our league. I can’t remember the last time I did so well this early on. :-)

We have a friend who does a budding part-time photography business and she invited us to come over to Manitowoc (about 40 min away) to get a few pictures taken. We’re not really into posey-posed pics but thought maybe we could come up with something for our Christmas card this year. For YEARS now I’ve sent out long newsy hand-written Christmas cards to friends and get back the Christmas card picture with the canned phrase: “Merry Christmas from the Smith family” or whatever. Last year I used our wedding photo and did the same thing… wow is that cheap and easy. No wonder so many people do it! Just not as personal as a note but after writing wedding thank-yous my hand needed a break! So anyway, we’ll wait to see if any turn out that we can make into our 2015 card.

On our way home we stopped to try out an Italian restaurant just down the road from where we took our pictures.


It was pretty cozy with lots of pictures of Italy on the walls and a fun fact sheet of Italian history as our placemats.

And my wonderful date <3

089We ordered our meals and stared out the window while munching on our salads. I love sitting with a view outside otherwise I tend to people-watch and no one wants to be eye-balled as they shovel food into their mouth. Ha!

086The salads were not bad and they came with a couple slices of garlic French bread. Should it be Italian bread??

Ben decided to try their homemade gnocchi and I selected a hearty slice of lasagna. Both of our dishes came out with monster-sized meatballs. You can’t easily tell by the plates but each plate has a single meatball that was the size of my fist. Very fun in concept but stone COLD on the inside. Bleh!

090 091On a side note, we’ve now tried gnocchi three different times and have never been really impressed. I think it’s one of those things that sound wonderful (pillowy potato dumplings) but really just taste rubbery. I think we’re done with that exploration. Overall, dinner was so-so.

But the drive home was amazing. A+ for sunset!

092I wish my camera could have done this better justice because it was just exquisite. Why do sunrises and sunsets never seem to appear true to color on camera? This was deep and intense color that filled the entire sky.

Another shot:

099That is one benefit of the days getting shorter (or maybe it’s just the temps dropping) but we’re seeing a lot more beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I don’t mind that at all.

Tonight we need to contact the concierge at our resort for our upcoming trip to see if we can get rooms close to our friends, verify check in / check out times, and make sure we’re not at the noisy building so we can get a little shut-eye. I’m SO ready for a little bit of rest.

Winners, Losers, and a new Restaurant

Oh my Packers. These last two weeks have not been good but they also aren’t unexpected. We’ve had these same defensive issues for years and our saving grace has always been an offense that can rack up the scores. When that doesn’t happen… Each time this happens I hope they’ll go back and re-work and get better but it never seems to happen. Argh

The Pack may have lost but I’m in good shape going into tonight’s game to win my fantasy match-up. Let’s hope Floyd scores big and Gates does not. :-)

I also won big at work (ok, not a promotion or anything like that!). Each year we have a 2-week giving campaign where we raise money for various charities and set up next year’s payroll deductions for charity. They have various events – like a craft and bake sale – as well as a bucket raffle. Normally I spend a lot of money on the bucket raffle and occasionally come out with a basket. This year I could never remember to bring cash and didn’t buy any tickets… but they gave us 5 tickets just for doing the payroll deductions which I chucked into a random basket. And won! Check out all this loot!!


I picked a basket that had a spa gift card in it thinking I could use a little R&R. But there are a lot of other fun (and amusing) things in here.

There was a pile of manicure/pedicure equipment that I’m thinking might be gifted to a friend for Christmas who loves this stuff:




Two bottles of shampoo and two of conditioner along with a bottle of styling spray:

028I have Matrix Biolage at home and use it all the time but Joico is a new brand that will be interesting to check out. There were also two bottles of wine. I’m hoping the cupcake Moscato is sweet enough for me but I’m guessing the other bottle will be for Ben (And you can see my picture-taking in the bottle reflections)


Then there were all the cards. I had $20 in non-winning Packer lottery tickets, $10 iTunes, $25 at Bath and Body Works, $80 to that Spa I mentioned (woo!) and a free haircut, eyebrow wax, and style at another salon.031Now I understand the theme of nails, hair, wine, and chocolate – but they threw in some random things as well. There was a jump rope (to work off the chocolate and wine??), a shallow wicker basket thing, and this weird pink rhinestone scarf… I held the scarf up to Ben commenting about this weird design on it and Ben looked at it, turned his head sideways and said: “it’s a skull, isn’t it?”. Pink rhinestone skull scarves are a thing??

They are now. Check out Ben styl’in!

033-1And I can’t believe he let me post that. Ha!

As crazy ugly as I think that is, apparently this is quite a popular style. One of my co-workers offered me $5 to sell it to her. SOLD!

So it was a good haul of goods. I was pleasantly surprised. How often does that happen? I’m pumped!

This past weekend Ben and I spent cleaning up the yard. We’re not completely done but we borrowed a friend’s pick-up and filled it THREE times with leaves, garden plants, and branches. I’m feeling all that bending over but luckily my back is hanging in there. Sore legs but actual back pain is minimal. We still need to wrap our bushes so they don’t get nibbled on all winter and we have a few other gangly bushes that do better when I hack them completely back in the Fall – but those will have to wait. Yesterday was in the 50s and actually felt really nice while we were moving around so it was a good day to be handling the outdoor stuff.

We treated ourselves to an out-of-the-way breakfast at a new breakfast place that opened a couple months ago. They only serve breakfast and lunch and the ingredients are organic and locally sourced.

003At first we thought it was a little pricey, which we expected because of the organic ingredients, but when we looked at our final bill it was only slightly higher than what we’d pay at Ihop.  Has anyone else realized that even “fast food” isn’t cheap anymore?? We have a couple sit-down restaurants here that are cheaper then getting one of the premium hamburgers at McDonalds. And they taste 100 times better.

The place itself was just really cute and one of the owners was our waitress. The tables were cute and it had that non-chain feel that I really liked.


Ben got the breakfast special with organic bacon and eggs, pancakes, and potatoes:

002I tried their breakfast skillet which included a delicious piece of homemade wheat toast:


It was a lot of fun and we will be back. I wish they were a bit closer but not much we can do about that!

Not a lot of plans for this week except we’re prepping for a short little stint to Mexico next week! It will be a quick getaway right before all of the holiday happenings occur. We can’t wait!

Have a fantastic week and fingers crossed on my Fantasy team tonight! ;)

It’s Happening

so it begins

Umm yes, have you noticed Christmas is EVERYWHERE? I went shopping this afternoon and hit one store in the mall. There is not a single Thanksgiving decoration anywhere and all the Turkey stuff they are selling is now cramped in a back corner with a 50% off tag hanging slightly askew. I think I missed Thanksgiving in there somewhere between Halloween and the day after Halloween…

I love Christmas and I giggle as I roll my eyes when I see people post official countdown to Christmas calendars on their Facebook pages and decorate their houses in lights (yes, we have a person on our street with Christmas lights up AND turned on). I’m all for stringing them up when it’s 50 with no snow so you can navigate your ladder safely but you don’t turn them ON yet. That’s crazy – even for a certified Christmas nut-job like me.

Anyways, the mall was packed leading me to believe many people think if they begin shopping now they will be done before the mad crush of people storm the mall doors and prevent you from navigating across an aisle without being smothered by:

A) the unobservant woman who has instantly stopped walking and is now trying to do something on her phone, causing multiple people behind her to ram into each other

B) the person with 3 young children and a cart overflowing with garments that has somehow managed to block both aisles at the same time

C) the person trying to set a record for walking as slowly as they possibly can walk

D) All of the above

Let me get this out there now. You don’t have to wait until Dec to experience this miracle, I experienced “D” just this afternoon. I think I’m done shopping now for a while. There is no item worth my life or my sanity. ;)

I have some lucky ladies to award my giveaway too:

winner 3 winner 1 winner 2

Carrie, Boise, and Joanne – you are winners! Send me your full names and email addresses to alis.kitchen@yahoo.com and I will get your goods sent!! Congrats and thanks again to NuNaturals for spreading the love of Stevia to my little blog on reader at a time. Don’t forget their discount good until the end of the year too!


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