Welcome to our adventures. I try as best as I can to document the happenings here in our family - everything from the shenanigans to the spiritual, from the kid to the kitchen, from the cat to the catastrophes. We believe that adventure can be found in everything we do...even in the mundane tasks of the day. When we set our minds on things above in gratitude to God, we find the strength to approach life with a sense of purpose & adventure. The adventure may not always be what we have planned...but isn't that what adventure is all about?

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This evening I had one of those...moments. The kind of moment where a complete life lesson flashes before my eyes and convicts me all in a single moment.

The picture above (taken with my cellphone, by the way!) is a scene from a place called The Old Mill. Now I have been to alot of picturesque places in my life...but this place took my breath away. Actually, I'm at a loss as to how to describe what I saw. If I was held at gunpoint and forced to give some sort of explanation, I would say it was like The Hobbit meets Thomas Kincaid.

The Old Mill itself is not necessarily the topic of this post...see, I DID NOT have The Reb with me (gasp!) and was not able to capture what I saw (I was kicking myself). And my policy is: no pics, no post. We are planning on going tomorrow morning for the "photo shoot". If you are tired of seeing pictures of Abby, I suggest you unsubscribe to this blog now.

Here's the sirloin of my post for this evening...

We knew nothing of The Old Mill...it was NOT in the AAA handbook (and if it is not there, it doesn't exist, right?) or any websites, etc. So, how did we find it? Well, the Amaro's rock the GPS - we go nowhere without plugging in our coordinates. So we were on our way to dinner...tonight I picked, so I plugged the info into the GPS. If any of you have GPS, you know that after you plug in your details there is that option...you know the one.

Fastest Time vs. Shortest Distance

I am ALL about "fastest distance"...why wouldn't I be? I want to be there now...no time for anything else. Because you know...you hit that shortest distance option and there's no telling where that stinkin' GPS will take you. Shortest distance does NOT equal fastest time. That's why you have an option ;)

Well I must have swallowed a little too much chlorine in the pool today because I clicked "shortest distance". Sure enough, we were winding through residential neighborhoods - no freeway within a 5 mile radius for sure. Of course, I was lamenting the entire time as we weaved through wooded areas and hit 15 stop signs and 37 speed bumps. But along the way, we saw it...The Old Mill...tucked in a very unsuspecting spot. If we blinked, we may have missed it. And we surely would not have seen it had I selected fastest time.

We stopped the car and walked down the cobblestone path...and then I laid my eyes on the scene...and then I knew...and then I was convicted.








You know me...when I get schooled, I love to turn the table. So my friends - where in your life might you be in need of the "shortest distance" option?

Slow down...you may just stumble on an old mill of your own.

stop signs, speed bumps and winding roads,

ps - stay tuned for pictures from "The Old Mill"
Monday, June 29, 2009
Entry way to St. Vincent Plaza - River Market district - Little Rock, AK

Right this minute I'm having a little flash back to our 2 month road trip from California to Tennessee. I think it was one of the best times we had as a family. My flashback also includes our "2300 miles" days as well (for those of you remember the blog before the blog). We would pack in all the fun we could handle during the day. Then, after Abby went to sleep, I would scurry off to the corner of the hotel room to process my pictures and write about the days activities so all our family and friends could keep tabs on the adventures.

I have other flashbacks too, but I've been ordered by a court of law from writing about them.

So here I am in our hotel...Abby's asleep, Mike is looking at my pictures from the day and I am here writing to my peeps.

Little Rock, Arkansas...

I know what you're doing right now...you're snickering, aren't you? Don't be dismissin' Little Rock. Just because Bill Clinton is from here doesn't mean that it's not a happening little town. This is actually the 2nd time we've been to Little Rock (you can read about the first time here) and we've decided that we are fans.

Why Little Rock? It happens to be exactly halfway between where we live and Fort Worth, Texas (home of the Grandpapa & the Grandmama), which is where we are headed to. So we thought we'd break up the drive and spend a few days taking in "the rock". We left about 10am this morning and drove 6 hours (not including a stop for lunch and facilities) which gave us plenty of time to check in and hit the pool for some splashing around.

Of course playing in the water always stirs up a hearty appetite...so we hit the River Market district of the city and had some grub at the Flying Fish. A very cool eatery specializing in fried catfish. The ordering process is kind of like Soup Nazi meets Philly Steak shop counter. I can't speak for my familial unit, but my grilled shrimp ka-babs & veggies were fantastic. There was a small little portion of red beans & rice - enough to get you by but not enough to cause problems later if you know what I mean. So yummy.

The flying fish - those are parking lot lights fashioned from boat motors...

After dinner we went walking around the River Market district - a very cool section of town on the Arkansas river. The area had very eclectic buildings and architecture, lots of little eateries and shops. We happened to be walking around just as the sun was setting...great lighting for photography (now if I only knew what I was doing!). Of course, my favorite subjects are always willing to pose for the camera. And when they are not hamming it up, they are actually are quite photogenic (in my un-biased, humbled opinion) - don't you agree?

Just a note for those of you wondering if Mike is joining the military. No...he is not. He asked his personal barber (that would be me) to give him a number 1 all the way around. I just do what I'm told, people.

Out of all the pictures I took, this one is my favorite:

Just a little shot to remind us that we ARE actually in Arkansas. Yee haw. I think the guy that drew this line may have been one taco short of a combo plate.

I encourage you to check out more photos from our Little Rock excursion at the Dropshots site.


ps - Lest you think we just took off leaving Jeremiah to eat the rocks at the bottom of his tank, know that our boy is staying with friends who passed our stringent fish-sitting criteria checklist. Special thanks to The Rutledge family who is dutifully caring for the J-man. Abby said to me yesterday that when she looked over and saw his missing tank it reminded her that Jeremiah was "in good hands". Awwwwww....
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Tonight I'm feeling a little nostalgic. For one, Mike is sitting here listening to old Michael Jackson songs..."Beat It", "Billy Jean", etc. You know, the really good years. It's bringing back alot of memories of the 80's.

As if that weren't enough...as I'm sitting here writing, somewhere in San Diego my high school class is celebrating 20 years. Facebook has been buzzing with all my classmates talking about what they will wear and where the after-party is.

TWENTY YEARS. Am I really that old?

Some may argue that my level of maturity has not quite reached the level of my actual age - but still.

It seems like just yesterday that I was rockin' my Esprit gear, jettin' around in the Dodge Colt with my personalized KRISKOM license plate. Driving like Mustang Sally on a Red Bull...navigating that Patrick Henry exit lane to get out to Arby's in time to slam some lunch before the next class started. I could really go on and on about my high school memories...it could quite possibly bore you to tears unless you were there with me.

This little trip down memory lane has made me think a bit...what have I accomplished in the 20 years since I wore my cap & gown? I have a beautiful family and great friends...I have a great house and community...I have some skills that I have honed over the years allowing me to contribute to the family income. Most important is my relationship with God...He has been faithful to me over the years. He has given me peace and hope through the difficult trials I've experienced in my life. His is the strength that I rely on each and every day...a firm foundation that never leaves me or forsakes me.

So I wonder where I'll be 20 years from now? Maybe Esprit and Forenza will be in again. It's fun to think about, but I'd rather just enjoy today.

Thanks for trippin' with me...
Now I've got to "beat it".

Thursday, June 25, 2009
Welcome to another edition of "Cooking at the Club".

The usual disclaimer...I ain't Martha Stewart, a'ight?

Normally I am all about meal planning but there are just times when planning to be home for dinner is as far as you get. Right now is one of those times. Since we are getting ready to leave the house for 2 weeks, I thought it would be best to scrap meal planning and opt to clear the fridge of any items that may evolve into an unwelcomed science experiment. This is actually my favorite kind of cooking...no recipes, random ingredients. Me and the open kitchen. Bring...it...on.

[Start up that People's Court music....duh nuh, nuh......Doug Llewellyn pipes in with the following narrative]

The Plaintiff: 2 tubes of just BARELY expired pizza dough (always on hand for those random times you don't feel like whipping out the flour for home-made)

The Defendant: 1.23lbs ground turkey meat

Witnesses: 1 can chopped olives, 1 jar Trader Joe's sun dried tomatoes, 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, spices.

The Judge: The honorable Waffle Maker Deluxe

Jury Notes:

a) Cook turkey, drain.
b) Add sun dried toms, olives & Parmesan cheese, stir (I also tossed in some oregano, basil and garlic, but that goes without saying).
c) Roll out pizza dough, spoon turkey mixture onto one half and top with a handfull or so of cheddar cheese
d) Fold other half of dough over the turkey mixture to make a closed calzone-type thing...make sure to press the edges together (this prevents the much despised leakage)
e) Place on Waffle Maker, close lid and let sit for...oh...4-7 minutes. To steal Rachel Ray's term...just eyeball it.
f) Remove the thing, place on cutting board and use pizza slicer to cut your waffle pieces. You will probably be left with some uncooked dough edges - I like to throw those back on the waffle maker and re-cook.
g) Serve hot...or cold.

The Verdict: Super delicious, 2 thumbs up "Turkey & Sun dried tomato waffle calzone thingy"

Ok, sorry about the whole Peoples Court thing...that was probably confusing. An emotion I'm sure you're all used to as regular readers. But hey, that's how I roll.

So there you have it. You probably won't find this in the pages of "Living" magazine but you KNOW that Martha Stewart would have scarfed this down in a New York Minute during her jail time.

The Turkey & Sun Dried Tomato Waffle Calzone Thingy

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Monday, June 22, 2009
Whad up my peeps. Lest you think I fell off the face of the earth, I'm popping in for a little postie-post. However, I have alot to catch you up on so I'm going to take a "just the facts" approach. The "Readers Digest" version, if you will. This will be challenging for me because as you well know....I AM VERBOSE. I can't stop. Really...I can't stop. I go on and on...you get the picture.

So, in no particular order, here are some things that have occurred or are in the process of occurring or will perhaps occur in the future.

1. Jeremiah is still alive. He is very proficient at building bubble nests. If only he could lay concrete and build awnings. Dang the bad luck.

2. Abby is officially riding her bike without training wheels. See a cool video of that here.

3. We finally saw a Nashville Sounds game. They lost to Iowa. IOWA. Come on people...you can't lose to Iowa. See more pictures here. (Of course most of the pictures are of really, super cute kids...but there are a few pictures of fireworks and a few players.)

4. Abby came to work with me one day last week at the ICEJ. We actually put her to work! She even earned a wage (ok, well our Controller gave her a fake check for $5 and I "cashed" it for her). She thought she was the business, man. It was taking Laura to a whole nutha level. See a few pictures of her work day here.

5. Sad news to report on the bird eggs in my dead front porch fern. I found one day that the 2 sparrow eggs were gone and all that was left was that stinkin' cowbird egg.

6. Abby has a new play kitchen. Actually, it's new to her...but not "new". I can't believe that I'm admitting this, but I was driving in our hood one day and found it on the curb of one of our neighbors! They were throwing it away!! It was in perfectly good condition - just a little dirty. So I called in a favor with the covert ops special forces team (aka, Mike) and had it picked up. A little soap, a little water and a trip to Toys 'R Us for a bag of play food. Badda bing, badda boom...you gotcher self a nice little kitchen setup. I wish that you could hear what goes on in this kitchen. Again...it's takin' Laura to a whole nutha level. I've got the next Sunday Convo lined up already...a clip about how to make croutons. It's a riot.

7. Middle Tennessee is officially hot.

8. We just finished a visit with Grandaddy and Aunt Jan...they drove up from Louisiana and stayed for 4 days. We had a great time! It's always sad to see our company go, but we are excited because Grandaddy will be coming back in July for an extended stay. YAY! Check out some pictures of them here.

9. We went to the Moon Pie & RC Cola festival. Yes, the moon pie has its own festival. How it got hooked up with RC Cola, I'm not sure. It was fun... Pictures of that are here.

10. My high school is having its 20th reunion this weekend. This makes me feel old.

11. Next Monday we are packing up the Camry and heading down to Texas to visit Grandmama & Grandpapa. Fun, fun! We are going to stay a few nights in Little Rock, AR. Perhaps we will run into Bill Clinton while we are there. If anyone knows of something fun to do in Little Rock, drop me a line. If it were just me, my equation would look like this: POOL + BOOK + SLEEP.

12. Our BBQ is getting alot of action this summer. Did you know that you can put frozen hot dogs on the grill and they come out AMAZING? Yeah...what's even better is when you can buy like 10 packages of them for next to nothing and THEN freeze them. They taste even more amazing. Try it - you'll thank me for the tip.

13. Abby now commands me to "Google it" when I don't know an answer to her question. The other day I was trying to teach her how to blow a bubble. She got very frustrated with me and said, "can you just Google it?". Oh to raise a child in the age of technology.

14. Speaking of technology my laptop of 2 years decided to take a dump on me. I bought a new Toshiba Satellite and I dare say that I'm a fan of it. Not to mention I got it for the same price it would have cost me to fix my old one. How does that work?

15. We picked our first cherry tomato (a yellow one)...the official "first fruits" of our garden. We split it 4 ways with B & M - it was so sweet and delicious! In addition, I went over the other day and harvested some basil and made a nice batch of pesto. MMmmm, mmmm! It was delish! One of the varieties of basil that we have is "lemon"...it added a nice little twist to the pesto. Looks like we'll be going crazy with tomatoes soon...and we see a pepper or two. We aren't sure why our garden is not growing as fast as some of the others in the hood. But we are not complaining.

16. Abby catches lightning bugs and puts them in her bug viewer...have you ever seen a firefly? They are SOOOOO cool.

17. Did I mention that it's hot here? I've melted 142 times already and it's not even July.

18. 4 out of 5 dentists prefer Crest. I know that's not really a Club Amaro fact, but I'm trying to make my list go to 20. Extend grace to me.

19. I love magnolia blooms of my backyard tree:

20. Did you know the human head weighs 8 pounds?

There you have it...20 facts. Here's hoping you got this far.

Lotsa love,
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Just wanted to take a moment and recognize four fabulous fellas this Father's Day...I'm sure all of you think you have the market on the most fabulous Dad's, but I've got a pretty good line-up here, so you may as well pack it up and go home.

Dad (aka Grandaddy)

Randy (aka Grandpapa)

Pop (aka Grandpa)

Last, but certainly not least...the man that brings silly to Club Amaro:

MIKE (aka, Daddy)

Thanks for being a part of my life...lots of love to each of you.


ps - on a completely un-patriarchal note....prepare yourself for the mother of all blog posts, coming soon in the next day or two.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Are you ready for some more "Sunday Conversation"?

This video needs some serious setup...so let me get started.

If you've been following this blog for awhile, you may have heard me talk about Laura and Amanda. Laura and Amanda are the pretend names that Abby and I use when we "play" office (or anything else that requires a little fun injection). This started a long time ago when I used to do more web development work at home. I could do my work while making Abby feel like she's part of the deal...a win-win in my book. And I can pretend and ham it up with the best of them (I know, hard to believe...you'll just have to take my word for it).

A few fun facts about Amanda & Laura.

  • I am Amanda, named after the cut-throat Ad Executive from Melrose Place.
  • Abby is Laura, named after Laura Ingalls Wilder (bonnet and all). Quite a contrast, eh?
  • Mike is Nelson, the president of whatever organization we are working for at the time. He's not always in the picture, but he does manage to get involved every so often and approve some paperwork.
  • Abby can become Laura in a New York minute...her entire countenance changes and you better get on board quickly or get left in the dust.
  • Abby will usually sketch out an entire scenario prior to putting Laura "on"....inevitably, it starts with the phrase, "Pretend that..."
  • Sometimes Abby will put Laura on pause and rewrite the entire scenario on the fly. Once I agree, she goes right back to Laura - not missing a beat. It makes my head spin if I'm not caffeinated.
  • Abby must always wear her black church shoes when she is playing Laura
  • I love playing with my daughter in this way...it's a lot of fun. I'm hoping that there will be no damaging effects that creep up later in life as a result of all our acting out.

Ok, so here is the real setup for the video. I asked Abby...ahem...I mean, Laura...if she wouldn't mind discussing a bit about what we're doing over at the bank these days. As usual, she's up for it. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew that I would get some good footage. We set up the filming in front of her dry-erase board in case there would be any illustrations. As you can see, she has a little dry erase marker addiction...we're working through it.

Now this video is a little over 3 minutes which may seem a little long. I promise you, every second will be worth it. And please don't say anything about my messy craft room...it will hurt my feelings.

So without further rambling, here is the latest installment of "Sunday Conversation":

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

Please note that Facebook viewers & Feedburner email subscribers may not be able to see the embedded video...please visit The Adventures of Club Amaro for access.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I'm not kidding you when I say that every time I buy a hanging plant for my porch, this happens.

a nest with 3 eggs nestled in my dying fern plant

Each season I buy a new hanging plant...envisioning how it will spruce up my porch ambiance. And each season - in a matter of days, I tell you - my new plant falls prey to a winged developer looking to move on up to the east side from the birdie projects. Of course I can't bring myself to water my new plant for fear that I will disturb the delicate nest environs (nevermind the fact that the little bird family poops all over the nest and somehow THAT doesn't disturb anything...nevertheless).

I can say that it is fun to watch the birdie cycle of life...the egg sitting, the hatching, the chirping, the feeding, the flying lessons and the flying of the coop. Don't think for a second that I don't pull the plant down and take a little look-see....how do you think I got that picture?? Mom gets a little spun out when I do it, but every year she manages to get over it. The whole experience does make me feel like the money I spent on my plant did not go to waste.

Sigh. So each season after the little birdies learn to fly and take off into the great blue yonder, I throw away my dead plant.

Oh the sacrifices I make for the little birdies.
Monday, June 1, 2009
You know "the man", right?

The man is like...the Bill Gates or the Larry Ellison's of the world. Or those corporate suits that take million dollar bonuses 5 minutes before taking government bailout money. You know him....he's the man. Ok, well...maybe it could be the woman...but "THE MAN" sounds so much better. Say it. THE MAN.

There is nothing I like better than sticking it to the man. (Please make your checks payable to, "Club Amaro Therapy Fund") That's not true, there are many, many things I like better than sticking it to the man....but I REALLY like sticking it to the man.

I can't help it...I'm all about the little guy...the mom & pop shops...the corner stores. I'm anti-big business....anti-monopoly. Ok...so my husband works for one of the biggest banks on the planet. We can look past these little hypocrisies, can't we?

So here's a little story about how I stuck it to the man today.

In a few weeks, Club Amaro will be welcoming another round of company...Grandaddy & Aunt Jan...YAY! So, here at the Club, we have deluxe accommodations for our guests. However, if we have more than one set of guests, we have the "slightly less than" deluxe accommodations. Those accommodations include an Aero bed on the floor of my beloved craft room...and...if you're lucky, we'll throw in a pillow and some linens.

In an attempt to boost the rating of our 2nd party facilities, I set out to buy one of those really cool Aero beds that have the extra layer on top. You know....I'm not sayin' that anyone is old or anything...but, getting in and out of an Aero bed that's about 4 inches off the ground is not fun even for the young people. Ok? So, the "double high" Aero would be so cool...perfect, right?

Off to Bed, Bath and Beyond with my 20% coupon (does ANYONE shop there without one of those?). Gonna hook my peeps up with a double high, baby.

Then....I saw the price.


Turn your speakers down for a sec...


"Attention Bed, Bath and Beyond customers....THE MAN has been spotted on aisle two in bedding department"

Jam it, man. I'm stickin' it to ya.

So I had a brilliant idea. I already have one Aero bed which I purchased many, many years ago. (Note, in the world of Kristin Amaro this is like I never paid for it...things that are more than 7 months old do not have any costs associated with them. P.S. be glad that I'm not teaching your kids economics) Since they have many upgraded Aero beds out now, the "old school" Aero's are much, much cheaper...coupled with a 20% off coupon, we're looking at a good deal.

So I bought a 2nd, twin sized Aero bed identical to the one I have now. And to make it a double high, I'm going to do a stack-a-roo with the two of them. But wait...won't the top one slip and slide off the bottom one posing a potential risk to the guest sleeping on it, you ask?


May I present to you my latest invention....the "AERO BELT". MuuuuurrrrrHAAAAHAAAAA (that's my evil laugh).

Two pieces of elastic, some Velcro and a few zips around with my Sew Mini (thanks Mom Amaro!) and you've got yourself a set of nice little belts that hold my two Aero beds together.

There you go...you got you some height. AND, you can sleep safely through the night knowing that your top Aero will not slip off of the bottom one. Potential risk ELIMINATED!

HA HA HA!!!! Take that, Aero Bed executives! For the price of one discounted old school Aero and a few bucks at the fabric store I've got my double high...

The man has been stuck.

Tomorrow, I take down Microsoft.