Holiday Lessons

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goodbye

 

 

This year I hosted my very first “big Christmas.” One year before I had Mom and Dave to our place in Somerville. Well, not really our place –they stayed at the Charles Hotel but the festivities happened at my place. Christmas 2013 included My aunt, uncle, mom, step-father, grandmother, two cousins, Kevin and two dogs – ages 9 to 70. The majority stayed at the Omni Hotel but once again, we had all the festivities at my place and my Mom and Stepfather stayed in our second bedroom.

Before they came I spent lots of money and time getting all the right groceries, decorations, and thinking of things we could do. 

None of that was necessary.

Everything went really well but I could have saved my self a lot of stress if I didn’t worry about being the hostess with the mostess. One of the most fun nights was when we ordered pizza in sat around and talked. That type of moment is not something that you can plan for because it’s organic. And I learned that letting the day unfold is much more enjoyable then trying to map every detail of the perfect week. 

My idea of their vacation in Dallas was all about showing them the best sights, feeding them the best food, and making sure everyone’s wish list was met. Aside from a warm sunny day by the hotel pool, everyone’s wish was granted from visiting Monkey Garage Bar & Grill to a Boar hunt for my stepfather. However, there were days when they didn’t want to do anything but hang out together. That did not fit my “schedule” and would stress me out – I would think – but I’ve got to take you to the Natural Museum of Science or you need to see the West Village.  It comes back to spending time together was the most fun. Listening to my cousin’s stories and answering his incessant questions about the cities we’ve lived in, finding out that Nana’s first drink was on New Year’s Eve with her first Husband (my grandfather who was a fire fighter and died while on duty in the South End of Boston when my Mom was two) and it was a Screwdriver. I find these nuggets of information to be worth more then gold. If I would have been pushing people through shops and museums that day I would not have been listening and there wouldn’t have been time for story telling.
 

 

 

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The lesson I learned is that when family is together, even when on vacation, it’s not about collecting memories it’s about making them. The best way to make memories is to make sure that everyone has time together to talk, share stories and more importantly lots of laughs.

 

 

 

 

Thanks to my family for making the trip to Dallas. It meant the world to Kevin and I.

trolley

How did you spend your Christmas? Did you learn any lessons?

The newest member of the Hurley Family

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blind dog

She’s squinting and smiling in this picture. She does this all the time & it melts my heart.

I realize that many of you have probably already heard the story of Penny, the blind cattle dog I adopted from the SPCA of Texas a few weeks ago but I wanted to share the link to where her full story is posted on the lifestyle blog, Travel, Wine and Dine.

As I learn to navigate life with a blind dog, I will be sharing what is working and how we can make her life comfortable, fun & safe. If you have a blind dog, you are not alone! Please feel free to reach out to me if you want to talk, I’d welcome the discussion.

But for now, take a peek at how Penny & I met. A very special thanks to Meghan for sharing Penny’s story.

You Must Fondue.

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The first time I experienced Fondue was on a trip to Montreal to “Meet the Faulkers.” I immediately fell head over heels with this meal and now, it’s my favorite way to eat.

I wish I could say that I only get the urge when it’s cold, rainy or snowy but really this is my all time favorite meal that I even enjoy in summer. I’m not talking about stinky cheese and bread (it’s only done right in Europe or if a European friend sneaks the right cheese across borders – so worth the risk). The fondue I’m talking about is Beef Fondue and it’s so easy.

What you need:

Fondue pot and forks
Steak  - we use Sirloin and cube it into bite size pieces
Cheddar cheese – cubed too
Mini Bella mushrooms
Cipollini Onions – who ever has to peel these should get the last drip of wine from the bottle
Beef broth – buy 2 cartons although you will only need about 1.25
Garlic cloves – I throw them in to the broth because I LOVE garlic
Baguette – I’m told we don’t bake our Baguettes long enough (by the same friend who had his Mom sneak cheese to us for a proper cheese fondue) so pop it back in the oven at 325 for 15 or 20 more minutes
Dip – Kevin’s Mom, Charlotte makes it simple with mayo & chili sauce but you can do any type of variation that suits your senses
Side Salad – make it simple

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Why is this so great? Because you can do your mise en place and then forget about it until you are ready to dine. What’s so great about that? You aren’t creating a mess in the kitchen or balancing the perfect timing act of a big meal. If you have guests over, you can actually socialize with them.  And when it’s over, which is generally a good 2 hours later just throw everything in the dish washer. Voila! My Mom would be so proud of me.

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Fondue is the most social way to eat (more so then small plates) because once you stick your fork into the pot, you’ve got nothing to do but talk and appreciate your time at the table with your friends and family. Once the wine starts to flow and people become more comfortable with Fondue, it’s fun to see how “risky” people get with cooking their food. Kevin’s the king of mastering the mushroom-cheese-steak all on one fork which is a perfect savory bite but for most of us, that’s the big leagues. I’ve never made it past the cheese-steak bite! And when someone loses a bite into the boiling pot of broth, it’s similar to a sporting event where everyone boos in all seriousness.

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Fondue forces us to slow down and take in the time at the dinner table. Something we don’t do nearly enough. So go Fondue and come back and let me know your thoughts! I think you will love the experience.

Fall in Dallas

Fall is one of the things I will miss most about living in New England.

Yesterday, in 97-degree weather I was pleased to make it into the grocery store (Albertson’s) without breaking a sweat. After I proudly checked out – we are eating all Vegetarian this week so I was proud as a peacock of my conveyor belt that moved along vegetables, rice, beans, fruits, greens….I thought the people behind me must be so impressed. Although if they gave me a good look they would know I’m more of a pork belly, pepperoni and hamburger type of girl. I digress, that’s not the point of this post!

So, I was moving towards the door thinking about how annoying it is to be close to 100 when it’s mid September. At that moment I saw our small in-store Starbucks was boasting the fact that it was Pumpkin Spice Latte time! At first I was insulted. Should Starbucks know better then to bring Pumpkin Spice Latte to Dallas in September?  It’s probably more of a November/December type drink – at least that’s when people tell me the weather will be enjoyable.

I stood in front of the sign for far too long that the Barista got creeped out and said – “Ah, Mam. Mam, Can I help you?”  I was taken by surprise and then suddenly felt foolish for my staring off at their signage having a mental conversation that I’m sure was visible my facial expressions so I of course said – “Um, I’ll have a non-fat Pumpkin Spice Latte, please.” And then it dawned on me, order it iced! I quickly changed my order and while I walked out, my taste buds welcomed the beloved pumpkin-y flavor even though it felt like an out of this world experience. In the past I always associated Pumpkin Spice with my favorite time of year: the weather got cooler, you wear sweaters and boots, walking through Harvard Square, the leaves are changing etc. But I have to be honest with you, having that Pumpkin Spice Ice Latte was like a little piece of New England and I completely forgot about the scorching heat of Dallas at 3 in the afternoon. And for once since I’ve been here, it felt like fall to me.

One of my favorite things is when a scent, flavor, etc. can transport you to a different time or place. For instance red cherry Chap Stick makes me think about Christmas because I always got one in my stocking Christmas morning.

What about you? Are there scents or food that can alter your mood?

Exciting News to Share!

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For those who know me, know that Kevin and I move every two to three years and once I moved just 9 months after re-locating to Vancouver. That’s the nature of hospitality, to advance within a brand or to seek the next reasonable position; you must be open to uprooting and starting somewhere new.

That’s one of the reasons why Kevin was attracted to hospitality – the opportunity to travel and see the world. Maybe that’s a part of what attracted me to Kevin (we met in hotels) the thought of moving around the world seems (and is) romantic.

Anyways, I’m not tired of moving – I love discovering a new destination. Whenever I take vacation I’m always sad when I leave after a week (or two if I’m lucky) feeling like I didn’t get to truly understand the location. When living in a new city or country you have so much time to become a “local,” and that’s my favorite way to travel.

But what does get tiring is starting a new job, making great connections in an office, being part of and believing in a mission only to have to leave everything behind. Of course, I’ve made irreplaceable friendships along the way that I’ll carry with me but I wanted to find something that I could do no matter where our journey takes us.

Drumroll please……….

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What’s the secret Texas woman are keeping?

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I barely survived Dallas. 106 degrees today with no electricity in our house from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. I had the bright idea to check out yoga class at noon and assumed I’d go to the pool after. No such luck – the pool was like bath water and there was no relief in sight. 

I headed home, took a cold shower and tried to stay as still as possible. Nothing was working so I headed out on some errands. One of which ended up being a pedicure (why not?). As I sat there completely drenched and thinking back to my yoga class I realized…… Texas woman don’t sweat!

Yes, you heard it here first (if you didn’t already know, that is) and I’m going to find out what the secret is. Hopefully it’s something that can be learned by us sweaty New Englanders. If it turns out to be a secret society – I want in and unfortunately, will not share the details here but I hope you will still read my ramblings anyways…..

I’ve survived my first week.

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My first week in Dallas was far from reality – my Mom was here and Kevin had a long weekend so there was lots of pool and relaxation time.

We had a lot of fun checking out new places and our two favorites for last week were:

Cork Dallas – a technologically savvy Wine Tasting spot where you can pick up a bottle of whatever you liked. I also like how they have some of the wines categorized. I will say the first time we were there (when we were considering moving to Dallas) the hostess explained each taste and had a lot of helpful information, this past time – not so much, which was a little disappointing. However, I love the concept and will most certainly be back to give it another try.

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Hurley Road Trip Essentials

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Fresh off a road trip with Casey the Wonder Dog and my Mom from Boston – Upstate NY – Pittsburgh – Dallas, I thought I’d take a note to share the 5 best practices for having an enjoyable long road trip.

1)   Books on CD. Most books on CD range from 7 to 12 hours and are the perfect way to pass the time. Visit your local library before hitting the road and pick up a couple. Trust me, it’s better then listening to the same songs played over and over on the radio. There’s only so many times I can hear Icona Pop’s “I Love it” before I want to crash my car into the bridge and let it burn.

2)   Insulated picnic basket. Eating is one way that I’ve always kept myself awake and engaged on a road trip but cheesy poufs and fast food will make you feel terrible. Instead, pack an insulated bag with frozen travel packs and the foods you should consider traveling with are:

  1. String Cheese
  2. Fruit
  3. Almonds
  4. Water and flavored water. Staying hydrated will help you stay awake and alert.
  5. Veggies – Snap Peas, Carrots and Hummus are my favorite.
  6. Yogurt
  7. Trail Mix –home made is the best and I opt for sprinkling in peanut butter M&Ms

3)   Take advantage of the picnic tables at rest areas. Just a 10-minute break can do wonders on road trip morale. It’s important to get out, stretch, have a snack (hummus & carrots are best saved for when you aren’t driving) and in my case, let Casey run around.

4)   After packing a picnic basket for yourself, pack a bag for your dog with all the supplies you might need – travel bowls, his own water bottle, snacks, doggy bags, a regular leash and a long lead for opportunities to give them more leash to run around (don’t use those plastic flexi leashes- they’re dangerous), and a pet travel first aid kit.

5)   If you will need to stop to get some shuteye, I highly recommend using the TripAdvisor App, which has a page that shows “hotels near you.” It’s the fastest and most efficient way to see rates, reviews and whether they are pet friendly or not.  They Days Inn in Forrest City, Arkansas was a pleasant surprise -clean, cheap, and comfortable – I’d give them a 4 Star. They could have been a 5 Star but after I said three words a local said – “You’re a Yankee” and then went on to tell me I needed to work on how I spoke and wished me the best of luck “with that accent.”

Of course there are a lot of other items that could be included on this list, what would you add?

Addendum: My Mom reminded me that a good sense of humor is important for survival. We made it a game to find a song (and sing it) from a random word during any of our conversations. Example: Can we stop for a pee break? —- Stop! In the name of love, before you break my heart… You get the point. It’s a fun, competitive game to get the most outlandish songs into our conversation. 

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