Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.

A number of years ago we visited Arlington National Cemetery. If you haven't been there you should go. There are few things as moving as standing atop the hill next to Arlington House and seeing miles and miles of grave markers stretched across the countryside. I have also stood at the Vietnam War Memorial and been moved to tears by the huge number of names carved on "the wall." The knowledge of how many service men and women have given their lives for our country really hits home at both places.
"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived!" – George S. Patton
My Dad, James O. Skelton

My dad served in the Army during World War II. He rarely talked about what it was like, but he would proudly say "I served in Patton's outfit."

Dad was a tank commander and when the tank he was in rolled over a land mine, he was blown out of the top. He had a severe head injury and lost most of his hearing as a result. He received a purple heart and was decorated for meritorious service.

My mother was actually notified that he had been killed in action. I can't even imagine how horrible that must have been for her. It was two weeks before she was notified that he was alive and in a hospital in England. It was not something that either of them liked to talk about.

When my family had its first family reunion last spring, I learned that military service is a long-standing tradition among the men of the Skelton family. My cousin Rodney is in the process of writing a book about them. I can't wait to read it.

However you celebrate today, take a moment to remember those who served and didn't come home. Remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice. And remember the sacrifices of their parents, wives, and children.

And, thank you to all those who still serve or who have served with honor in our military. I am so grateful for your sacrifices.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

La Fogata Grill - Corpus Christi Restaurant Review

Our Friday night dinner group chose La Fogata Grill for our weekly dinner. La Fogata is located at 6644 S. Staples St. in Corpus Christi. We arrived around 6:15 and our party of five was seated with no wait. As a matter of fact, I don't believe there was a wait for anyone the entire time we were there even though there were a couple of large parties.

Mary Lou and Grams started with the Friday night special $1.50 frozen margaritas. They were delicious and very generously sized.

As soon as we were seated, the waitress immediately served complimentary chips and salsa. The salsa is mild and tasty. If I had any complaint at all, it would be that the chips were not overly fresh and were unsalted. We also ordered chili con queso which was served with an order of flour tortilla chips. The queso and chips were exceptionally good. In fact, the queso was so good I was tempted to eat it with a spoon.

Each of the five members of our party ordered a different entree. So, while I didn't taste everyone's food, I think I got a good idea of how good a variety of their meals were.

Grandad had the beef enchiladas which arrived on a large rectangular plate. The plate had three enchiladas which were served with rice and refried beans. Grandad said the beef enchiladas were very good and he liked the rice a lot too. He thought the beans needed more seasoning.

Mama Ruthie had the Camarones a la Parilla which is grilled shrimp with tomatoes, onions and peppers served with a side of avocados and sour cream. It was served with homemade flour tortillas and looked delicious. I didn't really get her opinion about how she liked them, but I'm pretty sure they were good. She took a box of leftovers home.

Mary Lou had Shrimp Crepes which came with zucchini and rice. She reported that they were rich and tasty. This was also a large serving and Mary Lou also took a box home with enough food for lunch today.

Ron ordered beef tenderloin which was served with potatoes, beans and rice. His tenderloin was ordered medium rare and was done to perfection. He said it was the best piece of steak he had eaten in a restaurant. He did not have leftovers, so it must have been good. I will admit, sitting across the table, I kind of wished I had ordered the tenderloin. It looked that good.

I had Pepita Crusted Mahi with Tomato Butter and sides of sauteed spinach with cherry tomatoes and rice. I loved the pepita crust. In case you don't know, pepitas are pumpkin seeds. It was delicious and again, a very large serving. I have enough leftovers for lunch today.

We finished the meal with capirotada which is bread pudding. This dessert is served on a sizzling skillet and was a cut above any bread pudding I've ever had. The sizzling sauce with cranberries produced delicate strings of sugar on the fork. And the bread was deliciously crispy on the edges. The five of us split one order and it was enough for everyone to have several bites.

Everything we ordered was professionally prepared and artfully served. This is not your usual Tex-Mex fare and it's a bit pricier than the Mexican food places you'll find in large supply in Corpus Christi. Meals range from around $9 to $21 per person.

I regret that I did not think of taking pictures of the meals. They truly were beautifully plated.

Since I try to blog with integrity, I should tell you that our waitress was our niece Camey, so our service was exceptionally good. But, I'm willing to bet everyone gets the same good service.

Next time our kids are in town, we are definitely taking them to dinner at La Fogata. I highly recommend it.

40 Things To Do in Corpus Christi recommended trying new restaurants around Corpus Christi. This is the first one we've tried. More to come.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Baby Sister's Been Sick

Baby Sister is a cuddly baby. She wants to be held. She wants to be held a lot. Okay, she wants to be held all the time. In her mother's words, "Great for Grams. Not so great for Mom."

Two weekends ago Grams had the opportunity to hold Baby Sister a lot ... pretty much all weekend. While we were setting up for the tea party, Katy said, "If you'll keep an eye on the kids, I'll finish setting everything up." That was good enough for me.

The bottom line is that, unless she's asleep, she wants to be held. If you put her down, she starts to cry fairly quickly.  This picture was sent via picture mail and was captioned "woe is me." I'm pretty sure she started crying right after this.

One of the great things about the tea party was that everyone took turns holding her. She was happy as could be and so was everyone else. Who doesn't like to hold a little baby?

That was two weeks ago. Then last weekend Baby Sister got sick. She had one eye that seemed a little runny and irritated. Katy thought it was probably allergies. Then that night she started running a fever. Katy ended up in the emergency room while Travis stayed at home with Our Little Princess. Two days later, she was still running a fever. They went back to the pediatrician for a follow-up appointment. He sent them back to the emergency room. He was concerned that her fever was not responding to treatment so he ordered a spinal tap. Initial results were clear, although they're culturing it to be sure nothing is growing. They gave her a precautionary dose of antibiotics before they sent them home.

She was much better the next day and I received this via picture mail. Her mom captioned it "happy baby."

They're off to Oklahoma for a family wedding this weekend. We're all so relieved that she's feeling better. She's only six weeks old. That's pretty little to have already been to the ER twice.

On the subject of Baby Sister, I'm not really content with that nickname. It hardly measures up to "Our Little Princess." So, I'm open for suggestions. Any ideas for a new moniker? Or maybe I should just wait and see who she turns out to be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Some Day She's Going To Hate Me For This

Our dining room is perpetually hot. For some reason there is no air conditioning vent in the dining room. Probably because it's part of the kitchen and there's one at the other end of the kitchen. I'm sure that whoever designed the house thought that would be adequate to cool both rooms, but it's really not. When it's just the two of us, we rarely eat in the dining room, but when the kids are home and there are seven or more people around the table, it's really hot in there. A few weeks ago we bought a new upright oscillating fan hoping that it would be useful in keeping the dining room cool.

Our Little Princess is in the process of potty training so, in the daytime she wears pullups instead of diapers. When she was here a couple of weeks ago, she successfully used the potty several times. Then on Saturday afternoon, when we were all working in the kitchen, we turned around and saw this.

Yep, that's Our Little Princess cooling her bare butt in front of the oscillating fan. We could not stop laughing. And, yes, I know, some day she's gong to hate me for putting this picture on my blog.

Grams Made Tea Party Sandwiches

 As I told you in a previous post, Grams, Katy and Bylinda hosted a tea party last weekend. When we sat down to plan the menu, we wanted to be sure we had a variety of food that would appeal to a variety of tastebuds. Add to those considerations that Grams lives in South Texas and it's already hot here. (The heat index today is around 105 degrees.) We didn't want to have to heat up the oven which in turn would heat up the house.

We decided to focus mainly on finger sandwiches, but we didn't want them to be ordinary sandwiches. We were aware that many of our guests would be young ladies who would be having their first high tea experience and we wanted it to be something special and out of the ordinary.

The first one was easy; we settled on chicken salad right away. Katy made the chicken salad, which was absolutely delicious. Here's the recipe.
Chicken Salad

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 rotisserie chicken, deboned and chopped
2 cups red seedless grapes, halved
1 cup pecan pieces

Stir mayonnaise, sour cream and lemon juice together to make a dressing. Toss dressing together with remaining ingredients and chill.
The next choice was pretty easy too. We made cream cheese, cucumber and sunflower seed sandwiches. These were my personal favorite. This sandwich was inspired by one that was served at a restaurant that used to be in the central business district of Corpus Christi. Here's how we made it.
Cream Cheese, Cucumber & Sunflower Seed Sandwiches

2 packages Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
roasted, salted sunflower seeds
2 English cucumbers sliced very thin
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Stir the garlic powder into the cream cheese and spread on bread.  Put the sunflower seeds in a wide, shallow bowl. Dip the bread with cream cheese (face down) in the sunflower seeds. Top with one or two slices of cucumber and another slice of bread.
The restaurant where I used to eat this sandwich added alfalfa sprouts to the top of their sandwich. We opted not to include them.

We knew we wanted to offer a third kind of finger sandwich but couldn't decide what kind. We ruled out tuna salad as too ordinary. Then, after looking around on the internet for ideas here is what we came up with. Katy did the internet search and I don't know where she found the idea, although I would gladly give them credit if I knew. We made apple and cheddar sandwiches. The recipe couldn't be easier. I have to tell you that I didn't love this sandwich at first. The sharp cheddar, the strong mustard, and the apples have a very tart bite. But by the second bite, I was sold. I liked it so much that had the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Apple and Cheddar Sandwiches

Extra sharp cheddar cheese, shaved very thin
Granny Smith apples, washed, cored and sliced thin
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
Whole grain mustard

Toss the sliced apples with the lemon juice to slow down discoloration.

Then just spread a very small dab of the mustard on bread, place a little stack of cheddar cheese on top, then top it with two slices of apple.
All of these sandwiches were made on a variety of bread from Central Market in San Antonio. We used dense, whole wheat, nutty breads as well as sour dough.

In addition to the sandwiches, Bylinda made homemade brownie bites with dark chocolate chunks and chocolate icing. We served cinnamon scones which also came from Central Market. Then we added lemon bread and three flavors of cheesecake bites which came from Sam's Club.

We filled my punch bowl with unsweetened iced tea and Sonic ice. And, we offered three kinds of hot tea -- Earl Gray, Chamomile & Bavarian Wild Berry Black Tea.

There were not a lot of leftovers, so I guess they liked the food.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Women On My Walk - My Young Friends

There are a couple of young ladies Grams would like you to meet. Their names are Kandyce and Jenny and I've known them since they were little bitty girls. They are lifelong friends and have been my neighbors since they were small. Their moms are two of my best friends. This is how they look in my mind.

This is how they look in reality.

And this is how they looked on Saturday morning when they both graduated with honors as Texas Scholars from Calallen High School.

Last weekend Katy, Bylinda and Grams hosted a Tea Party in their honor. It was fun to have friends and neighbors just sit and visit for a few hours. I especially enjoy passing on gentile traditions to new generations of women. Both of these young ladies are beautiful, kind and smart. I know they both have bright futures. Grams is honored to call them my friends.

Here are a few pictures from the tea party.

I would especially like to thank my sister Bylinda and my daughter Katy for helping me with this party. They drove from San Antonio and LaVernia to Corpus Christi and spent the weekend helping put everything together just right. It's so nice to have family you can count on to really pull their weight when entertaining.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Playing in the Park

Last weekend Katy and the girls visited. Katy was here to help host a graduation tea party for two of my neighbors. It was late by them time we finished cleaning up on Sunday evening, so they stayed until Monday. On Monday we decided to take the girls to the duck pond at the park to feed the ducks. But, apparently the ducks had already been fed. They were not at all interested in the bread we had, but in South Texas you can always count on the seagulls. So we fed the seagulls instead.

Then we went to the playground where Our Little Princess played on the slides and the swings. Then she and her mom ran and played for a while. Katy figured she would sleep most of the two hour drive back home if we got her good and tired first.

It's hard to believe that she just had a baby one month ago, isn't it?

While Mommy and Our Little Princess ran and played, Grams and Baby Sister enjoyed the sun.

Here's a little video of Katy spinning Our Little Princess in circles. I used to do the same thing to her. We sure did have fun.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Grams is Part of a SITSahood

 Besides being Friday the 13th, it's finally my SITS day. I've waited months for this, my moment in the sun. And being Friday the 13th, naturally, Blogger, the platform that hosts my blog, crashed two days ago. Not only does that mean that no one has been able to leave comments on my SITS day, but my SITS day post, which was all ready to post this morning has been lost in cyberspace until the last few minutes. Now that I've found it, here it is. Better late than never.

One of Grams all-time favorite movies is White Christmas. I love all of it, but this morning, the Haynes Sisters opening act is running through my head. Cue Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen.

Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters.
Never had to have a chaperone  "No, sir." I'm there to keep my eye on her
Caring, Sharing, Every little thing that we are wearing.
When a certain gentleman arrived from Rome, she wore the dress and I stayed home.
All kinds of weather we stick together, the same in the rain or sun.
Two diff'rent faces, but in tight places, we think and we act as one.
Those who've seen us know that not a thing could come between us.
Many men have tried to split us up but no one can.
Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister
And Lord help the sister who comes between me and my man.
Grams learned early in life how important it is to have the support of your sisters. I grew up with three sisters and we've been through a lot together. I learned early that my sisters were there for me in a way that few others would ever be.

The Skelton Sisters - Grams, Kay, Bylinda & Jan
There is another group of women who have supported Grams since she started blogging almost two years ago. They are the SITS girls. SITS is the acronym for the Secret Is In The Support. This is a SITSahood of more than 8,000 women bloggers dedicated to supporting one another by leaving comments. Lots and lots of comments. But they're also so much more than that, they teach women all the tricks of the blogging trade, with participation in online classes, Bloggy Boot Camp, and tutorials. They are truly a "go-to" source of knowledge and know-how for women bloggers.

Every day the SITS girls feature a blogger who is a member of the community who has been an active participant in supporting other bloggers. I'm very excited that today is my day to be featured.

Welcome SITSas. I hope you'll stay a while and get to know me.
  • I'm the proud Grams of two beautiful girls, Our Little Princess who is 2-years old and Baby Sister who is 1-month old. These babies light up my life like nothing else ever has.
  • I'm a self-confessed Starbuck's junkie who will drive 23 miles for a latte and the atmosphere. 
  • You might want to check out my reading list while you're here. 
  • I'm also proud to have lost more than a hundred pounds after I had gastric bypass surgery and really did make a huge lifestyle change to get healthier. 
  •  If you look around a little more you'll see that I also share my favorite recipes. I recommend Capellini with Shrimp, Peppers and Salami. It's quick, easy, and delicious.
I hope you enjoy your visit to Grams Made It. I promise that I will visit each and every one of you within the next few days. I'm up to my elbows in plans for hosting a high tea this weekend in honor of two of my neighbor girls who are graduating from high school, so it may take me a day or so to get to your place.

Monday, May 9, 2011

It Was Almost Perfect

Grams and Grandad had planned to just hang around the house this weekend. The only plans we had were to join Grandad's siblings on Sunday for lunch with their mother.  But all those plans changed on Wednesday when Nick called and offered to treat us to a trip to his house in Houston. Then, when I told Katy we were going, she and Travis decided to join us there.

Talk about a dream come true! Mother's Day weekend was spent surrounded by my family. It was almost perfect. We got there in time for dinner Friday night. Grandad made his world famous fried egg sandwiches for breakfast on Saturday. Then I spent Saturday afternoon taking care of the girls while Grandad and the kids went to the movies.  As it turned out, the babies napped while I watched a movie.
Baby Sister and Our Little Princess napping on the sofa

Baby Sister is the cuddliest baby I've ever seen. She is most content when being held very closely. Great for Grams ... not so much for Mom. We all got plenty of cuddle time with her and play time with Our Little Princess.
Uncle Nick cuddles Baby Sister.
Uncle Nick and Our Little Princess playing together
We had absolutely no plans except to relax and spend some time together. It was a formula for the perfect weekend. This is how I spent most of my weekend.

Plenty of time to love on my Grandbabies!
On Saturday evening we went to our favorite Italian restaurant, Buca de Beppo. Our friends Xavier and Susanna and their beautiful baby girl Rynne met us for dinner.

X, Sue and Rynne
Our Little Princess meeting Baby Rynne
On Sunday morning we took both girls to church with us while Katy and Travis stayed at Nick's house. Katy was excited about spending a couple of hours without the girls. Her plans included taking a shower. I remember what a luxury that can be when you have a new baby.

It was such a wonderful weekend. The only thing that would have made it more perfect would have been if Nick's wife Marie would have been home to spend time with us.

Marie & Nick
I've told you before that Marie works for Exxon and works on a 21-day rotation in Canada. She left Tuesday for her last trip to Canada. Then she'll be back in Houston for a month before moving to her new assignment in Norway. She'll still be on a 21-day rotation. It is my understanding that Norway is a very desirable assignment. We miss her ... but we're very proud of her success.

All in all, I could not have asked for anything more. It was a near perfect Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Here's Your Sign

Grams would like to introduce all of you to my mother-in-law.

Her name is Ruth and she's a very sweet lady. And, she's not just my mother-in-law, she's also my friend. Seriously, in the almost 36 years I've been married to Grandad, Mama Ruthie and I have never seriously butted heads or gotten crosswise with each other.

She was widowed several years ago and, shortly after that, she sold her house and moved into our neighborhood. It's nice to have her nearby. She's closer to her doctors and we can get there fast if she needs us. She joined my bunco club. We take her to dinner on Friday nights and we pick her up for church every Sunday morning. Then we go out for breakfast after church. So I see her on a very regular basis. At almost 81 years old, she is still mostly healthy and able to drive and live independently. You would never know her age from meeting her or talking to her. She's still sharp as a tack.

But to tell you the truth, I've been a little worried about her lately. It all started when I saw this sign on a door in her kitchen.

Okay, at first I didn't think too much about it. After all, it's the door that leads to the utility room and the garage and the trash can is out there. And the grandchildren might be a little bit lazy about keeping the door closed. Maybe she thought they would close it more consistently with this little reminder. That was several weeks ago.

Then last weekend, all of her sons met at her house for a work day. They trimmed trees, planted shrubbery, redid the flower beds, repaired the storage shed, painted and just generally worked all day. The wives met there for lunch and then we went out for a little sister-in-law time, running errands, shopping, and, of course, a lot of talking. While we were at Mama Ruthie's house, I went to use her bathroom and saw this sign.

In case you can't read it, here's a close up of the sign.

I must admit I giggled the entire time that I was taking care of business and ran to get my camera as soon as I was finished.

Now, my mother-in-law doesn't live alone. One of her adult daughters lives with her and her other daughter and two of her granddaughters are frequent visitors. But, they're all females and, in my experience, women are not usually lax about flushing toilets. So, after I thought about it for a while, I had to ask what the heck was going on. Not pictured here, but on plain display in the hallway is a sign on Laurie's bedroom door that says "LaLa's Room."

When I asked her, my mother-in-law informed me that MacKenzie, one of her granddaughters put the signs up and it's not the first time she's put similar signs up. Maybe she's a tiny bit obsessive-compulsive.  But she's really smart and just got selected for her middle school's varsity choir.

This is my niece MacKenzie ... I'm very proud of her, but now I'm also a little worried ...