Gabby’s BBQ, My Franken-Mug, and Miss Caroline :-)

1. I was supposed to defrost some steaks (cut from one of the beef tenders we got on sale at Rice E.) and fry them up for dinner. Instead, the steaks, green beans, and as-yet-undetermined starch will be waiting for us tomorrow night… Justin took me to the Drive Thru at Gabby’s BBQ. (I am such a cheap date!) I got a meal in a peel. Yum. I highly recommend one. Get extra sauce. You’ll be happy you did.

2. I am a huge fan of good, clean fun. It’s underrated. My new fave spot for GCF is The Mad Potter, a paint your own pottery chain here in H-town. I went there last week with Hannah, my cousin, and painted a Franken-mug. Hannah painted a mustache mug… A ginger mustache mug. I’ll let you in on a little secret: The Mad Potter has excellent people watching on Friday nights. We had so much fun! I can’t wait to pick our pieces up.

If you want to go and try it out, I’d like to send you in with one piece of advice: Don’t get frustrated. I am artistic. I actually almost majored in ceramics. I love making things. And painting the stupid pasta bowl I started out with nearly gave me an apoplexy from frustration. Hannah, an extremely talented painter and drawer, had the same problem. I sympathized with her over our mugs, telling her that the pasta bowl I painted looked like something an 11-year-old had made. Basically we determined that it’s not the same thing. It won’t look perfect, like their little examples they have everywhere. It’s NOT easy. So. When you go in, expect to leave with something it looks like your kid painted, and you’ll be much happier than if you go in feeling like Rembrandt. 

3. Caroline is Justin’s 5-year-old daughter. I adore her. She is a fabulous human being. She calls mermaids “Mee-murs,” and her favorite chips are Doritos. I love her. Today I got to video chat with her. Thanks to modern technology, it took us five minutes to talk Justin’s mom through Google chat’s video app setup, and we actually got to see the little rascal. What a cutie pie! She was wearing one of the shirts I had gotten her for school. I got her a bunch of Gap, Children’s Collection, and Hanna Andersson… Mom and I had to pry ourselves out of the Hanna Andersson catalog today. We love their clothes. They are this thick, indestructible cotton. They are bright. They are awesome. AND… They have a store in the Galleria.

Caroline is going to be a ballerina for Halloween. I am going to get her a ballerina bow from Bubbly Bows. These bows are on another level, people. They are little alligator clips with works of grosgrain art on them. They also had a witch’s hat and a panda bear. Caroline showed us her drawing of the Liberty Bell, complete with large black crack. She said school was going really well. 🙂 She also showed us the book she is reading. Something about the Berstein Bears and “Spooky.”

I can’t wait for her to come and visit again. I am really hoping we get to take her to the Renaissance Festival with us. I think she would love it. Elise and I always did, and every kid I have ever seen there looks to be having a marvelous time. Once we get our plans finalized with that, I’m going to try to make her a costume! That way she can get her face painted, and have the Twisted Sisters braid her hair, and get sprinkled in fairy dust, and eat a turkey leg in high style. I’ll have to consult The Master (Mom) on her costume. I had my birthday party at RenFest one year, and she made all my friends these really pretty purple dresses… Mom also made all of my friends poodle skirts for my sock hop birthday party when I turned 5. Then the Elvis impersonator made me cry (at least I think that’s what happened… it was a long time ago) and we ate cake and everyone went home. What an awesome party! I wonder if she would throw a party like that for me this year…

My Mom pretty much always has the best ideas EVER. When Caroline visited her house in Florida this summer, Mom had all these awesome projects for her to do. They made a tshirt with crayons and sand paper, Mom showed her what seashells to look for, we all went on the beach at night with a flashlight and looked for crabs… Caroline had a stupendous time. Mom knows what’s up. That’s why, tonight when we were talking to Caroline and I told her, “Kelley says hello, and she misses you. She told me that today,” (which she had, while we looked through the Hanna A. catalog) Caro replied, “I miss her too. She is nice and always does fun things. I love her.

I love her too. All moms are awesome, but my Mom is the best. 🙂 She will know exactly what costume to make for the most adorable, pretty, and smart little girl I know for her first foray into the magic that is the Renaissance Festival. Then, when I mess up while making said costume, she will know exactly how to fix whatever it is I did. I’m so lucky to have her on speed dial. I love you, Mom!!!

Missoni for Target Recap, GF Goodness, and Cautionary Tales from Bulk Foods

1. I went to Target yesterday for Missoni. There was so little Missoni I felt like weeping. They done been cleaned OUT. Mom said people at the Target on Main had been taking things out of each other’s carts. Party foul, Target shoppers. Apparently one lady even got all in Mom’s business, asking, “Are you talking to someone at the San Felipe store?!?!?” Mom was talking to Aunt Stacie in Atlanta. Wow. Just… Wow. A woman at my cheap Target on 290 insisted to me that she knows the Chronicle’s fashion editor, and that she said Target would be re-stocking through October. My take? Target only buys the Missoni name for a certain number of items for a certain amount of time. If the website is sold out, then I doubt there will be more Missoni on Target shelves in Houston, Texas. I know, Doomsday. Sorry, loves. eBay has a fabulous selection, though.

2. I love Rice Epicurean Markets. First of all, they have amazing specials on meat every weekend. Beef tenderloins are ridiculously cheap. The guys at the butcher counter will even cut the one you want into roasts and steaks and freezer pack it all for you. Second, it can get crowded, but not in the way Central Market or the gigantic Kroger near my house can. You can pretty much always be in and out of there in less than thirty minutes, even if you’re getting a fair amount of stuff. Thirdly, and most importantly, Rice carries a ton of Gluten-Free options. This is important because Nikki and Hannah (my BFF and Fave Lil’ Cuz-lette, respectively) are both celiac. I have found all kinds of gluten-free temptations on their aisles. GF chocolate chip pancakes, anyone? Yes, please! They are frozen and delicious and perfect for school mornings. Also frozen are GF lemon streusel muffins, blueberry waffles, chocolate-coated donuts, and cinnamon raisin bread. They have tons of different flours, flavored crackers and pretzels, and they even have GF breadcrumbs! It’s so nice to be able to cut that step out of cooking. Trustworthy GF shortcuts are not always easy to find. I got Hannah a bunch of gluten-free booty (arg!) the other day before our girls’ night out, and when I was leaving the parking lot I actually called Rice’s corporate headquarters to thank them for making Hannah and Nicole a priority. How nerdy am I?? While Fiesta is still my usual destination (they also have a lot of GF items in stock), Rice is by far the best place to go for celiac snacks.

3. I made Gluten-Free French Bread for Nikki on our Friend-iversary. It was very tasty, and  it was admittedly difficult for Justin and I to stop quality-controlling her gift. The recipe is posted in PDF on the Recipes page, and linked to the original website here. Thank you, Sonja Stewart, for coming up with this excellent recipe! I will definitely be making it again.

4. A note about the bulk food department: BEWARE. The bulk food section is chock full of cross-contamination. I know, I sound like Alton Brown. It’s the truth, though! There is no way to keep people from using the wrong scoops in bins, spilling items between bins, or (yuck) sticking their grubby hands into bins. I just spoke to an associate in bulk at Central Market on the phone, and he said, “It’s frustrating to watch people just reach on in for almonds with their hands in front of everyone on a Saturday.” NARSTY!!! Apparently their time is more valuable than others’ health. CM, Whole Foods, and Fiesta all had similar stellar sterilization methods for cleaning bins between uses, but unfortunately no one can control that human factor. Fiesta and Whole Foods mentioned routinely cleaning the bulk area, washing the scoops regularly, vacuuming and wiping down the bins throughout the day, and tossing merchandise known to be contaminated with potential allergens. WF goes so far as to set up it’s organic goods above its conventional ones, and non-allergen products above allergens to prevent cross-contamination as much as possible. Good work, Whole Foods! ¡Buen trabajo, Fiesta! (Note: I’m not saying Kroger and CM don’t, but I did inquire about the general regimen and neither of their employees mentioned these things.) So. If you’re cooking for someone with an allergy, say a Nikki, and you want to get some soy powder, it’s probably not the best to buy it from CM bulk where it sits between a wheat product and a milk product, and there is indeterminate white stuff everywhere. I asked the lady to please get me some from the back. Just something to keep in mind. 🙂