What I did for my Spring Break, Part One 2:56 p.m. 2004-04-13

Current Listening: Terms of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
Current Reading: Midlife Mavericks: Women Reinventing their Lives in Mexico by Karen Blue
Recipes of the Day: Menu and Recipes for Build a Taco Party!
I borrowed the digital camera here at school, and took pictures of my house. I have uploaded them to my Photo Album

Last Saturday, I went to Houston to see my best friend, Laura. My husband was kind enough to get up and drive me to the airport, where I made it about one hour and fifty minutes ahead of my flight on AirTran. The place was a zoo, with the line stretched out way down the shopping corridor. However, it moved at a good rate, and I also managed to finally fill out the labels on my bags with my current address before I got to the counter.

Normally, I do not check luggage. I usually make it with one roller suitcase and a carry-on or just my purse, but I was taking some frames and coasters to Houston to show and possibly sell, so I had two rollerboards, my overnight kit, my Sherwin Williams bag and a purse! And of course, I stayed up pretty late getting ready and packing.

After I checked my baggage and got my boarding pass, I made my way to the next line - to go through security. I consolidated my stuff, took off my jewelry, and took off my tennis shoes to prepare for the big moment and I was not detained. Feeling pretty confident, I decided to walk the concourses rather than taking the train. I made it in good time, and decided that I needed a sandwich or something for the flight, since I hadn't eaten and wasn't going to eat until I got to Houston.

Searching for fast food, I tried standing in line for a hot dog, but it was moving too slowly. I headed for the gate, and saw the Last Call stand, which sells coffee and snacks and sandwiches. I was putting my turkey sandwich on my check card when I heard an announcement from MY gate that the flight was closing. I yelled, "NO!!!!!!!" and begged my server to hurry up. Luckily for me, I was allowed through - in fact, the plane wasn't even full, and they were still boarding for 15 minutes after I found my seat.

I was seated in the very last row - my original seat was taken by one of a group of young people, so I sat in the seat next to the flight attendant. I thought that would be perfect placement. I wasn't alone for the flight, however, because a woman got "trapped" behind the drink service and occupied the seat next to me for over a half an hour. She was from Atlanta, and we had a nice conversation. Then, the flight attendant was able to sit for a moment and eat, and we also found that we had horses in common, so we talked a bit. Then, I worked on drawings of hearts with flames and thorns and wings. The kids were very well-behaved - it was the perfect flight.

By the time I got off, went to the bathroom and retrieved my luggage, and made it down to the pick up point, my friend was waiting for me! Perfect timing! We went to a lovely restaurant called Shade in the Heights. I had the fried green tomato and bacon sandwich on homemade wheat bread, accompanied by a deviled egg - it was great. Shade is located on West 19th Street, which is a great shopping street in the Heights, where it happened to be First Saturday - there were shoppers' specials and home tours. I saw a lot of cute stuff, and immediately bought a ring made of false opal and red irridescent rhinestones.

There was a Mexican import boutique, but they did not seem too interested in the new Loteria I was selling - still, I left them the information. Their prices were pretty high, but they had some nice tin hearts that I would have liked to have bought, but I didn't want to spend all of my money the first day! They also had some fabulous Loteria paper, of a texture a little thicker than tissue. I found it at another source for a lower price, and have ordered it to craft with - love it!

That evening, we went on a bit of a wild goose chase to find El Hidalguense, where we went to have some cabrito (roasted goat or kid). It was a lot of fun, but contrary to all reports, it was not at all crowded! We got the complimentary shots of tequila - which I added to my margarita. I ate cabrito off of a friend's plate, but opted for the tulancigueñas, three thick flautas stuffed with ham, jalapeños and mayonnaise, sprinkled with cheese and topped with cold avocado slices. They were the best tacos I have had in a while - and very unique. The rice pudding was not what I was used to - a bit soupy - but I ate it anyway!

We went back home and watched Camp, which is a movie I had not yet seen. I thought it was pretty good, and I really liked the soundtrack. We drank chi-chis - a coconut pineapple drink made with vodka - very good!

The next morning, an Evite had been sent around, inviting a group of friends to enjoy dim sum at a HUGE Chinese restaurant called Ocean Palace Seafood. We had a pretty good number, and shared many delicacies. I haven't had dim sum since I last came to Houston, and really enjoyed it - although one pickled chicken foot would have been enough for all of us! ;-) Here is another review - you must go! Afterward, we grabbed a "boba tea" - I think they meant "bubble tea" and cruised the Asian mall by the restaurant. I liked my tea, despite the gelatinous globs that kept coming up my straw, but my friend was not as impressed with her choice. We looked at gaudy gold jewelry, but didn't buy any.

We bought produce at the huge Asian grocery store, then headed to my area of expertise (Costco) to buy the fixings for a dinner to celebrate Sopranos night. A few friends were coming over to watch a taped episode of last week's show and to watch the current installment. I am still lacking one season of the Sopranos but I was not too lost! I made roasted veggie spaghetti, with the addition of lovely sausage from the Best Stop in Scott, Louisiana. We also tried to cook the gorgeous artichokes we found for 79 cents each at the market, but we didn't cook them long enough. Apparently, it takes 45 minutes to cook them - we saved them for the next evening!

I will stop now, and continue with the second installment tomorrow!

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