Monterey

I recently visited downtown San Antonio restaurant The Monterey for the first  time…and I cannot wait to go back!!! What a FABULOUS experience!! Have you been? If not, and you are local, RUN there now….you will thank me!! :-)

Yaaa!!!! The Monterey!!!

 

First, let’s talk about the ambiance….it’s such a cool place. There is outdoor seating, which is really quite pretty, but there was no chance in hell that I was going to sit out there, as south Texas is currently hotter than the surface of the sun. Instead, I got a wee table in the corner, with a view of the place. It’s not terribly large, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in quirk and charm. There are tons of cool pictures on the walls, and the symphony of color is welcoming and exciting, all at the same time. I felt like I was home, and I can guarantee that if I lived closer, that place would be my Regal Beagle, and I would be Jack Tripper! :-)

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Now…on to the reason for the season – the food!! I started with an appetizer of house-made pickles….random, I know, but the palette wants what the palette wants.  Believe me, your palette is going to so want to try this!! I received a plate with a trio of pickled goodness – kimchi, curried pickled pineapple, and pickled watermelon rind with black peppercorns and anise. I’m aware that these probably don’t sound over-the-top appetizing, but they absolutely are! I’ve never had kimchi before, and the flavor was surprisingly pleasant, if a bit salty. The pickled watermelon rinds were fabulous – who knew? (Apparently the peeps at The Monterey) The real winner was the curried pickled pineapple….sweet and spicy simultaneously – bloody mouth magic is what that was!! Awesome!!!! :-)

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Here’s a couple of items from the entrée menu – the first is a brisket burger with umami cheese. I’m not entirely sure what umami cheese is, but I totally intend to Google it – I’ll get back to you. The burger was really, really juicy and flavorful – and the fries were simple, and outstanding. I will have to return here with the Wee One – she’s a lover of good fries. :-) Another entrée I tasted was the seared beef shoulder with shallot chimichurri, and a salad on the side. The meat melted in your mouth (for real), and was perfectly, simply seasoned. The vinaigrette dressing on the lovely salad (major eye appeal on that bad boy – it looked beautiful) was outstanding, and I remain hopeful that someday that dressing shall run out of my taps when I turn on the faucet. So. Good. However, the real star of this dish was the shallot chimichurri. No lie, when I  die I want to be buried in a tub of that stuff, so I can spend eternity just chowing down. It was THAT good. Yum. :-) Here’s more pictures:

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Overall, The Monterey is a super-lovely place to meet friends for drinks (their bar menu is out of this world, and remember I’m Canadian, so I know my way around a bar menu! ;-) ), a really great spot for a romantic dinner, and just an all-around great place to eat some damn amazing food!!! :-) I can’t wait to go back….let me know if you want to join me!! :-)

Xxx

Lucky Star

I visited new San Antonio eatery Starfish last Wednesday night, and I can’t wait to tell you all about  my visit! I ended up there accidentally, as my friends and I had a different dining destination in mind. However, one of the hostesses came out and spoke with us outside when she saw us stop to take a look, and as the door opened, the most gorgeous smells wafted out behind her…and I was sold!! While the service was odd (too much crossover between servers on our table, unusual timing on food delivery, and a never-ending friggin wait for bread), the experience was pretty much incredible…and since this was their fourth night of dinner service since they’d opened, I know that their lovely manager Logan will rectify the front of the house hiccups very quickly. Here are the highlights of our meal:

 

I started with Bread Salad - I've never had Bread Salad before, but this very simple dish is one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. The ingredients were simple, but the depth of flavor was incredible. Love!!! :-)

I started with Bread Salad – I’ve never had Bread Salad before, but this very simple dish is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. The ingredients were simple, but the depth of flavor was incredible. Love!!! :-)

Grilled Calamari - my dindin. Mighty tasty, friends....the sauce was divine!! :-)

Grilled Calamari – my dindin. Mighty tasty, friends….the sauce was divine!! :-)

One of my friends ate shrimp and grits - this bowl had a chorizo vinaigrette in it that pushed the dish to a whole other universe. A-ma-zing!!! :-)

One of my friends ate shrimp and grits – this bowl had a chorizo vinaigrette in it that pushed the dish to a whole other universe. A-ma-zing!!! :-)

Their bouillabaisse was extraordinary...just look at it! It was served in a very cool angled bowl (I'm a sucker for good presentation),and the broth....oh,friends, the broth....insane. The very delicious bread they served was unreal dipped in that broth. Yum. :-)

Their bouillabaisse was extraordinary…just look at it! It was served in a very cool angled bowl (I’m a sucker for good presentation),and the broth….oh,friends, the broth….insane. The very delicious bread they served was unreal dipped in that broth. Yum. :-)

This pork chop was one of the most beautifully-presented dishes I've ever seen....and it reportedly tasted incredible!! Juicy and flavorful, bursts of yummy in every bite! :-)

This pork chop was one of the most beautifully-presented dishes I’ve ever seen….and it reportedly tasted incredible!! Juicy and flavorful, bursts of yummy in every bite! :-)

The kitchen action - check out the jellyfish lights!! :-)

The kitchen action – check out the jellyfish lights!! :-)

 

Dessert #1 - fruit, peanut butter, some tasty cream stuff. Good,but not worth the moolah.

Dessert #1 – fruit, peanut butter, some tasty cream stuff. Good,but not worth the moolah.

Dessert #2 - Key Lime Pie. I know,I thought this thing - pretty though it is - was unlike any key lime pie I'd ever eaten,either. But guess what? It's earth-shatteringly delicious!!!!! Woohoo!!! Plus, anything that throws a macaron on top is cool with me. :-)

Dessert #2 – Key Lime Pie. I know, I thought this thing – pretty though it is – was unlike any key lime pie I’d ever eaten, either. But guess what? It’s earth-shatteringly delicious!!!!! Woohoo!!! Plus, anything that throws a macaron on top is cool with me. :-)

Dessert #3 - the menu calls this Banana Story, which I hope they change because that's a dumb name. What's not dumb, though, is this dessert: banana bread, chocolate mousse, brûléed banana....it was freaking amazing!!! :-) Don't let the name out you off! (Perhaps they'll rename it Leanna Banana in my honor??! ;-) )

Dessert #3 – the menu calls this Banana Story, which I hope they change because that’s a dumb name. What’s not dumb, though, is this dessert: banana bread, chocolate mousse, brûléed banana….it was freaking amazing!!! :-) Don’t let the name out you off! (Perhaps they’ll rename it Leanna Banana in my honor??! ;-) )

Dessert #4 - Basil sorbet, with a mint macaron. It comforts me to think that there might be a heaven...and they might serve this there. Otherworldly, my friends....for realz. :-)

Dessert #4 – Basil sorbet, with a mint macaron. It comforts me to think that there might be a heaven…and that they might serve this there. Otherworldly, my friends….for realz. :-)

 

Starfish is located on South Alamo, my favorite neighborhood in San Antonio. Here are a few pictures of the things I saw in their neighborhood:

The Friendly Spot - my favorite watering hole :-)

The Friendly Spot – my favorite watering hole :-)

I want a letter box like this on my house SO much...and I don't even have mail delivery to my house.

I want a letter box like this on my house SO much…and I don’t even have mail delivery to my door.

Few things are more beautiful than a secret garden! :-)

Few things are more beautiful than a secret garden! :-)

 

 

I hope that things go well for Starfish, and that they are super successful. Everyone there seemed to be really great, and there is a heap of talent in that kitchen…I was humbled by the artistry that went into this meal. I hope you’ll check them out…let me know if you need a date!! ;-)

xxx

 

Baby Girl

Yaa!!! :-)

Yaa!!! :-)

My baby girl turned 8 yesterday!!! I can’t believe it!! It seems like just last week that she was a wee three-pounder wearing teddy bear clothes (for realz, the poor little tiny baby friend!!)…but look at her now! She’s so sweet, kind, smart, funny, beautiful…I could not be more proud of the girl that she’s become. :-) We spent the day together for her birthday – the weather here in San Antonio was rainy and rather miserable, so we ended up heading downtown to take in a Matisse exhibit at the San Antonio Museum of Art – it was GREAT!!! :-) Here are some pictures:

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Beautiful! :-)

Beautiful! :-)

Another Tony Danza!! :-)

Another Tony Danza!! :-)

:-)

:-)

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After the Matisse exhibit, we checked out some other collections in the museum – here are some of our favorite pieces:

 

Love these fishies!! :-)

Love these fishies!! :-)

This is a neon pink chair, and I can't even tell you how much I want it!! :-)

This is a neon pink chair, and I can’t even tell you how much I want it!! :-)

The colors in this are mesmerizing!!! :-)

The colors in this are mesmerizing!!! :-)

The birthday girl and her new baby Merry! :-)

The birthday girl and her new baby Merry! :-)

Pretty :-)

Pretty :-)

:-)

:-)

Isn't this just the best? Love! :-)

Isn’t this just the best? Love! :-)

 

The rest of our day was lovely – drink at Starbucks, playing together at home, a piano lesson, dinner with the grandparents at Kona Grill…movie night snuggled up on the couch at home, and a camp out sleepover in the living room. :-) I had the greatest day just hanging with my tiny baby friend…and I’m looking forward to more time like this with her this summer. :-)

Happy Birthday Baby Girl! :-)

xxx

 

 

Simple Stuff

My boss’s daughter got married this past weekend, and I played the piano for her wedding. Fifteen years ago this would have been a minor situation, as I played the piano all the time and was accustomed to playing for people. However, I don’t get to practice nearly as often as I’d like, and my poor left wrist has deteriorated so much that I never know from day to day what feeling – if any – I will have in my fingers. FYI – playing with numb fingers is much harder and less fun than it sounds. Anyway, I’ve been practicing, and I played for the ceremony on Saturday. Clearly, this was not an engagement I wanted to bomb (boss’s daughter and all that) – and I’m happy to report that I didn’t screw it up. Was it my best performance? Nope…but it was okay. :-) I survived….and hopefully nobody noticed my wee mess-ups. :-)

I want to talk about the wedding itself for a minute….I do think it might have been the most lovely wedding I’ve ever been to! :-) There was nothing over-the-top about it – everything was simple, tasteful, and sweet. From my spot at the piano, I could see  the groom’s face as he said his vows, and I’ve never seen such sincerity or raw emotion in my life. It was really emotional, and I ended up weepy myself. It was awesome! :-) The ceremony was performed by a pair of older gentlemen who bore more than a passing resemblance to Waldorf and Statler from The Muppets – they had the witty banter, the sweet way about them….we all giggled throughout the beautiful ceremony.

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I was really struck by the romantic simplicity of this wedding – every detail had a beautiful, sweet, homemade vibe to it, and I felt like I was being embraced by love the whole time. I know that this sounds all mighty hippie-ish, but…there was something very different about this wedding. I felt the love…and that’s not something that happens often. Here’s some pictures:

This is so cute! :-)

This is so cute! :-)

The bride and groom are artistic, creative people :-)

The bride and groom are artistic, creative people :-)

They had wedding-themed Mad Libs on the tables...Wed Libs!!! Loooooved this!!! :-)

They had wedding-themed Mad Libs on the tables…Wed Libs!!! Loooooved this!!! :-)

Pretty :-)

Pretty :-)

The piano :-)

The piano :-)

Where I played my part :-)

Where I played my part :-)

All I need is love :-)

All I need is love :-)

:-)

:-)

The father of the bride made this cake - awesome or what??! :-)

The father of the bride made this cake – awesome or what??! :-)

One of my thank you gifts for taking part in the wedding - cute, eh? :-)

One of my thank you gifts for taking part in the wedding – cute, eh? :-)

My other thank you gift - yum yum yummy!!!! :-)

My other thank you gift – yum yum yummy!!!! :-)

 

 

I loved this wedding, and I wish the happy couple so much love and happiness….may he always look at her the way he did on Saturday – and may we all be lucky enough to be loved like that.  :-)

xxx

Eight Days A Week

 

If you haven’t realized, Valentine’s Day is this coming Friday, so we are now officially in Love Week. You can’t miss the signs of love everywhere – the stuffed toys and boxes of chocolates pouring off the store shelves, the never-ending stream of obnoxious TV commercials (I beg to differ, by the way – I’m willing to bet that on any given weekend, more kisses begin with beer and tequila shots than with Kay, but…what do I know?!), and the local restaurants promoting their Friday night dinner special events. Whether you have a Sweet Baboo or not, I hope that you will find a way to show someone some love this week – I hope that the love is returned, but if it’s not, then that’s okay, too. I love you – so it’s all good. :-) There’s a lot of pressure on people to do Valentine’s Day right, don’t you think? I hate that – we should show love every day, not just on special days that are endorsed by Hallmark and the Ferrero Rocher company. I try to always show those that I care about some love – I’m not always successful, but I mean well. :-) What are your thoughts on this? Are you a looooooooove show-er???! ;)

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Here’s a fun one for you: Did you know that online retail giant Amazon recently named San Antonio (where I live!!) the most romantic city in the United States?!??!?!  Here’s the article: (*and here’s another one!)

SAN ANTONIO — Whether it’s riding in a horse-drawn carriage down Houston Street, eating a candlelit dinner at an intimate restaurant on the River Walk or having a cocktail atop the Tower of the America’s, San Antonians know how to spice up a date.

In fact, just ahead of Valentine’s Day, the Alamo City was named the most romantic city in the country by Amazon.com, who tabulated purchases per capita from 2013 of romantic propaganda ranging from Marvin Gaye albums to adult toys.

“Love is in the air in San Antonio,” said Stacy Keller, a spokeswoman for Amazon, adding that this is the first year San Antonio cracked the top 20 since the list began five years ago.

The purchases recorded include romantic novels, movies and albums, as well as “sexual wellness products”, which include adult-themed novelties, lotions and condoms.

Seattle, Knoxville, Miami and Alexandria, Virginia, rounded out the top five, respectively. Round Rock, ranked 14th, is the only other Texas city on the Amazon list.

New York and two cities in California, El Monte and San Buenaventura, finished as the least romantic cities.

This cracks me up, and I’m not sure why! I know that indeed there are TONS of romantic things to do here in SA – it’s such a pretty city :) – but I kind of think that even a dirty, ugly city can be romantic if you put the effort and love into it, don’t you?? :) What makes for romance in your eyes? :)  Considering what you know about me (which is probably way too bloody much since I’ve not been blessed with much of a filter), you probably think I’m a miserable princess who is ridiculously hard to please. You’d be wrong, because I’m not like that (I hope), not even a little bit. It takes very little for me to be excited and happy – I’m not a girl who would ever expect a man to buy me a giant sparkly diamond ring…if I want a ring, I will buy it myself. I am so grateful for any and all kindnesses that come my way – I love it when someone buys me a bag of my favorite candies or a coconut water, because they know that I love them. :) I love few things like I looooove a silly poem – and someone will never go wrong by quoting some of the great romance master writers to me. I don’t need to be wined and dined…the way to my heart includes a stop at the nearest Whataburger for a patty melt (no joke – patty melts are my life). While I love all of the fancy things in life, I don’t depend on someone else to get them for me – if I want something lovely, I will find a way to have it…it’s pretty simple. I think that true sentiments from the heart matter far more than any sparkly bauble, don’t you? :)

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Here’s what Ludwig von Beethoven wrote to the love of his life – his immortal beloved:

Though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us – I can live only wholly with you or not at all – Yes, I am resolved to wander so long away from you until I can fly to your arms and say that I am really at home with you, and can send my soul enwrapped in you into the land of spirits – Yes, unhappily it must be so – You will be the more contained since you know my fidelity to you. No one else can ever possess my heart – never – never – Oh God, why must one be parted from one whom one so loves. And yet my life in V is now a wretched life – Your love makes me at once the happiest and the unhappiest of men – At my age I nedd a steady, quiet life – can that be so in our connection? My angel, I have just been told that the mailcoach goes every day – therefore I must close at once so that you may receive the letter at once – Be calm, only by a calm consideration of our existence can we achieve our purpose to live together – Be calm – love me – today – yesterday – what tearful longings for you – you – you – my life – my all – farewell. Oh continue to love me – never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved.
ever thine
ever mine
ever ours

Beautiful, eh? I know…those words up there? Worth more than any sparkly jewel. :) Ever thine, ever mine, ever ours. Le sigh. :) I hope that you have a happy Valentine’s Day this week, my dear friends…and I hope that you have the love that you need and deserve. Je vous aime. :)

xxx

PS: Here’s “Something” for you :)

I Believe

This is pretty much what I believe and how I choose to live my life:

Beautiful, eh? I love this – and I try to live it every day. I think it’s really important to model this kind of thinking for my Wee One as well, and I had a great opportunity to really show her earlier this week. I picked her up from school in the middle of the morning to run her to an appointment downtown – getting to see her in the middle of the day was a huge treat! :-)   As we were parking, I noticed an older couple struggling with the parking payment machine. Although there were some other people standing around watching them, I felt compelled to ask if I could help – they explained that they had stuck their credit card into the wrong slot on the machine and that it was wedged inside and stuck – and yes, they’d be grateful for the assistance. I noticed that the gentleman was wearing a Team Canada Olympic hockey hoodie exactly like one that I have – I asked if they were Canadian, and they were (from Edmonton); I told them that I hailed from Manitoba, and then plunked down on the ground to figure out how to get their credit card out for them. While I used my keys to work on loosening the card, they chatted with the Wee One – and still the other people just stood there, taking this all in. Why they didn’t offer to help, I don’t know…whatevah. I had the card nearly out but was going to need some Tweezers to finish the job – happily, they were traveling by car and had some in their luggage, and we had the card out in no time! :)   I helped them with retrying their parking payment – we realized that part of the problem was that this machine didn’t accept their Canadian credit card. I happily paid their $10 parking fee for them, and gave them their ticket – and set about the business of paying for my parking. The man tried to pay me, but I didn’t want his money – if you can’t do a good deed for your fellow man, then what is the point in being alive, eh? However, he insisted – and gave the money to the little one, who didn’t know any better and was excited to add it to her Paris fund piggy bank. :)   We thanked them, and headed on our way – but before we got too far, they called out to us again and asked for some directions and help. They wanted to see the Riverwalk and the Alamo, of course, so we walked them over to the edge of the Alamo property, and showed them where the stairs to the Riverwalk could be found. I also pointed out a bunch of other sites to them, recommended the river boat tours, and some excellent lunch spots in the downtown area. As we walked and chatted, we shared some details about our lives with each other, and they invited us to join them for lunch – however, since we both had to return to work/school, we politely declined and went on our way. As we walked away, the little one loudly declared, “We make friends and bring joy everywhere we go!” She’s right, you know – I kind of do make friends and speak with people in my travels, and I’m happy that she’s learning to do that as well. This is so important to me – even though we live in a huge city, we can treat those around us like they are our friends…remember, strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet! (*Don’t worry – she understands that she isn’t to speak to strangers on her own and she’s well-versed in Stranger Danger rules and practices)

This type of encounter would have been pretty commonplace in my hometown in Canada – I remember sitting in the local watering hole with some of my girlfriends once (20 years ago, in fact…where the hell does time go??! The years pass by, and yet I look no older – mysterious! ;) ), when a young man walked in and tried to order a drink – in French. The woman working the bar was not a French-speaker, so she called me over to see if I could help. I introduced myself, translated his order, and then invited him to come and sit with us. His name was Stéphan, he was from France, and was on an agricultural exchange for the summer in a nearby town. He’d been so busy on the farm since his arrival in Canada that this was his first night out. He sat with us all evening, practicing his (very) broken English, and I filled in the blanks with he and the others at the table. He asked if he could see all of us again, so we gave him our numbers – and then proceeded to spend the summer taking him places, showing him the sights, teaching him how to golf (one of the most hilarious things you could ever imagine)…it was great. :) There was no great love affair between us – it wasn’t about that (even though most of my girlfriends thought we were doing ‘le shag’ on the daily); it was about being kind, helping somebody out, and doing things to make someone else’s life better. And you know what? There’s nothing better than that. :)

That picture up there is really on to something, don’t you think? Next up for me: Be courageous and wild at heart. Look out, world!!!!! ;)

xxx

Breakfast At Tiffany’s

On Saturday night, one of my friends from work and I went to Painting With A Twist for a great night of drinking, laughing, and painting – it was AWESOME!!! Even though neither of us won the Tiffany pendant they were giving away, we had a fantastic time! Painting is so soothing for the soul…I can’t even tell you. If only I had some talent!  ;-) Here are some pictures from the evening:

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The original piece that we were working from :)

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Drinking JD always helps with the quality of the painting! :)

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Early stages :)

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Ta-dah! My finished product!!! :)

Fun, eh??? Yaaaa!!! I get so unreasonably excited when I do this….it’s ridiculous!! :-) I mentioned above that we didn’t win the Tiffany’s pendant they were giving away (boo! hiss!) – but I’ve been doing some window shopping online at the Tiffany’s website and have found some lovely things you might want to put on your Christmas list!!

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Elsa Peretti for Tiffany ring

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Tiffany Bow Earrings

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Tiffany Bow Ring

 

I hope you’ve made Santa’s Nice list this year!!! Come to think of it….I hope I have, too!!!!! ;-)

 

Xxx

C’est Si Bon

I’ve been dying to go to the local San Antonio restaurant La Frite for ages, but for whatever reason something has always happened that kept me from getting there. I finally went for lunch this past Wednesday, and thankfully it didn’t disappoint.

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Heaven in crepe form :-)

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Damn respectable sandwich :-)

I wanted to go there originally for the mussels – I’m crazy for mussels, and Moules Marinières are my absolute favorites EVER. SideNote: I learned how to make mussels this way in a café in Brussels, Belgium -I mentioned to the waiter how very much I loved them, and he invited me to the kitchen to chat with the chef. I happily took him up on the offer, gushed to the man in charge about how magnificent his mussels were, and he tossed me an apron and a knife, and proceeded to teach me the proper way to make these. I’ve followed his precise instructions every time I’ve made them for the last 17 years, and I’ve had a ton of compliments on them. They are kinda yummy, if I do say so myself. :-) I’d heard that La Frite’s Moules were pretty yum, too – but I decided not to try them on Wednesday, because I was there for lunch, had to return to my training, and could not drink wine, which I think is an essential accompaniment to any good batch of Moules. :-) Instead, I decided on a ham and cheese crepe with a side salad, and some Belgian fries on the side – and my dining companion had the Croque Monsieur…very good. My food was absolutely bloody AMAZING, no joke….divine!! The sauce that accompanied the crepe had the most delicate favors, and the hint of wine was just perfect. The ham was slightly smoky, and the smoothness of the cheese provided the perfect counterpart and kept the ham from being overpowering. Fabulous!!! The crepe itself was light, perfectly cooked,and deliciously thin….just fantastic!!! I loved La Frite – the staff was attentive but not at all annoying, the ambiance was lovely, even during the day. It was GREAT!! I highly recommend La Frite downtown – I can’t wait to go back for dinner!!! :-)

Xxx

Out Of Sight

I’ve had company from Canada for the past week (yaa!), and while I felt dreadful that I’ve been so busy with work and getting the school year started that we didn’t spend enough time together, I tried to make up for it with a weekend of sightseeing! On Friday night, we had a most excellent dinner at The Cove (I have taken a new lovah – the Latin Lover burger and a warm beet salad!), followed up with drinks at The Friendly Spot downtown. Love that place! :) On Saturday, we toured the historic King William district, the Pearl Brewery, and did some excellent shopping at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods…yaa! :) On Sunday morning, we checked out Mission Concepcion and Mission San Jose – SO beautiful! :) Here are some pictures! :)
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San Antonio really is such a pretty city – and I know that I don’t take time enough to visit the tourist attractions, stop running around all the damn time and see the city through different eyes. I totally should, though…it’s gorgeous here. :)

xxx

I Found A Masterpiece In You

Now that I’m finally taking a bit of a summer vacation, having the time to do fun stuff with my Muppet is just the absolute best. :-) Today we took a trip to The McNay Museum here in San Antonio, and we had a fabulous time! :-)

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It’s a bit disgusting that I moved to San Antonio 10 years ago next week (!!!) and have never visited the McNay before, but I’m happy to have remedied that today. I will definitely go back, if only to sit in front of the Monet ‘Water Lilies’ painting that they have and bask in its glory. I’ve seen many many Monet paintings over the years, and the beauty still gets me in my heart, brings tears to my eyes, and chokes me up…but isn’t that what life and art are all about? :)

xxx