Saturday, September 27, 2008

3 years

Today was Bobby and my third anniversary - we have been inseperable since the day after I came back from my European Vacation in 2005.

Bobby and I went to high school together our freshman year, and then he switched schools.  At the time, he was dating one of my good friend (Emma's mom), and I was seeing one of his best friends.  Along with one other couple we spent a summer as an insperable group of friends, out nearly every day.  After changing schools, we fell out of touch.  I did have him in a class during my first semester at community college, but I never went to that class so we fell out of touch once again.

Then came MySpace.  Lacee had finally convinced me to create a page.  I spent an evening looking up old friends, and Bobby was among the ones I found.  There was a polite hello, and then no contact again for months.

But that was back when I liked to post bulletins, and occasionally Bobby would respond to share his laughter, or to say how much he liked my posts.  Then one post, something about a conspiracy theory involving 9-11, made him call me and suggest we hang out.  Apparently he likes conspiracy theories.

Wouldn't you know, we only lived less than 15 minutes from one another, equidistant to Disneyland (we are both fans).  I was on my way home when he called, and was able to just meet up with him for dinner at Heroes in Fullerton.  We spent the evening catching up, telling old stories, and filling in the blanks.  Reuniting with old friends can sometimes be awkward, but we spent a good four hours hanging out, eating dinner and then watching Team America: World Police on his giant projector.  But after that, aside from forwarding funny emails, we didn't talk again for a couple months.

Among the things we'd discussed was an affinity for jazz, and he suggested I check out the local cafe, Steamers.  They have live music every night, and there's no door charge during the week.  Jessica and I went a couple times and loved it.  So one night I messaged Bobby to see if he wanted to go with me, and he did.  Again we hung out for hours.

After that we hung out a few times before Jessica and I left for our trip, and I think I emailed him every other day while I was gone.  Okay, sometimes it was every day.  Once I came back from my trip, I was with him every day, and have been since.

It is very rare that we spend longer than 12 hours away from one another, and I know it sounds sappy, but we get a little mopey when we do.  In some ways it feels like we've been together longer, and in other ways it feels like it hasn't been nearly that long.  Coming home to him at the end of the day always makes the day better.

We spent a quiet day alone together.  Aside from going out to breakfast, we didn't leave the house at all.  I made a nice salmon dinner, and we watched a movies together on the couch.  Nothing super special, but it was relaxing, and we both feet good about the day.  As uneventful as that sounds, I am happy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What's wrong with what we eat

I came across this today.  I subscribe to Bitten, which is essentially a food blog on the New York Times websiite.  Near the bottom right of the page was a link to this speech.  Interesting things to think about.

I know I eat too much meat and not enough vegetables.  It's actually something I've been thinking about recently.  Changing is a challenge.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Steak with Parmesan Butter, Balsamic Glaze, and Arugula

This was another recipe in the latest issue of Bon Appetit that caught my eye.  I made it on a Friday a couple weeks ago when Jess and Brian were coming over.  Jessica and I ate the steak salad, but the boys chose to have their steaks whole, and the greens on the side (because apparently, you aren't supposed to "feed a lion lettuce."  Bobby thinks that phrase is hilarious; uses it all the time.  He fancies himself a carnivore, although I can get him to eat his vegetables).

Bon Appétit |  October 2008
Yield: Makes 2 servings

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese plus Parmesan cheese shavings
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 12-ounce rib-eye steak
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon (packed) dark brown sugar
4 cups (lightly packed) arugula
2 large lemon wedges

Mix grated cheese and butter in small bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper; set aside. Sprinkle steak generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add steak; cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to plate. Add vinegar, shallots, and sugar to skillet; boil until reduced to glaze, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Divide arugula and Parmesan shavings between 2 plates. Squeeze lemon over. Slice steak; place atop arugula. Top steak with Parmesan butter. Drizzle lightly with glaze.

It was a tasty treat.  Every time I cook with balsamic vinegar I get a whiff of it in the pan, I think I lose some of my capability to smell and wonder how it could possibly come out good.  But then the finish product is lovely.

I'll make it again, but next time I'll toss the greens in the glaze, since it was a little thick for "drizzling."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My First Stock

I read this post on Michael Ruhlman's blog a couple weeks ago, and it was as if I was in trouble.  I always use Swanson's low sodium broth when I cook.  So, my wrist slapped, I decided to make chicken again so I could make stock with the leftovers.  Last night was the night.

I roasted a young chicken dressed with just salt, olive oil, and crushed garlic, and after dinner I pulled off most of the leftover meat (I left about two cups of meat on it for the broth because I read the article he linked to, specifically this quote: “If you want your soup to taste like scraps and bones, use scraps and bones. If you want it to taste like meat and vegetables, use meat and vegetables.”)

I did not have four hours though, so I looked around in a few places for stock recipes.  Some say to simmer it an hour and a half, some say four hours, some say in the oven, etc...  I went with something that fit my time frame.

I put the whole chicken carcas, with some meat and all the pan drippings (was that bad?), a chopped onion, two carrots, what celery I had left, a bay leaf, and a few peppercorns into the biggest stock pot I have (it's not that big), and filled it with water until it was all covered.  I brought it to just before a boil, then lowered the heat to a simmer, partially covered the pot.  It simmered for just over 2 hours, because that's when I wanted to go to bed.

I pulled the big stuff out of the stock with a slotted spoon, and then I lined a large strainer with cheesecloth and then poured the stock through the strainer into a giant measuring cup.  In the end I had about 8 cups of a rich colored stock.  So if I usually pay around $1.99 for a 16 oz. carton, and I paid $4.50 for the chicken, then I was paid $3.50.  Or I just made $8 in free stock.  Well, I did add all that stuff, but it probably wasn't $8 of stuff.  Whatever, in any case, the stock was basically free.

I'm sure it's low in salt, because I didn't add any so it would only have what I put on the bird itself and we didn't eat, but it may be on the fatty side (I wonder if including the pan drippings would add to the fat content), but I honestly don't eat that much fat as it is.  I stuck it in the fridge overnight, and there was definitley a layer of fat I could skim off the top by morning, but the whole thing had a somewhat gelatinous consistency (I know they make gelatin out of bones, maybe that's why).

Tonight I used it in a soup.

Cassoulet Soup
from, who got it from Bon Appetit
1 small onion, chopped
3 ounces kielbasa sausage or other, fully cooked smoked sausage, thinly sliced into rounds
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1 15-ounce can cannellini (white kidney beans) or Great Northern beans, drained
1 1/2 cups diced leftover cooked goose, turkey or other dark poultry meat
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Sauté onion and kielbasa in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until onion is soft and sausage is light brown, about 8 minutes. Add thyme and stir 1 minute. Add wine and boil until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Mix in broth, 1 cup beans and goose or turkey. Mash remaining beans to coarse puree; add to soup. Partially cover pan and simmer soup until flavors blend, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle parsley over and serve.

I used 4 oz. of keilbasa (because it was easy to divide my 1 lb. package by 4), chicken instead of goose or turkey (that's what I had), two teaspoons of fresh thyme rather than dried (because I have it), and my gelatinous stock rather than low-salt broth (it thinned right out when warmed).   Other than that, I pretty much just followed the recipe, and oh my, was it delicious!  I've never had Cassoulet, so I can't confirm the reviews that said it tasted nothing like the real thing, but I can say it was a very enjoyable soup.  Was it better because of my stock?  I honestly have no idea (cheaper though, yes), I'll have to make it using both one time and do a taste test.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Normally, Friday evenings consist of Brian coming over so he and Bobby can jam until I'm tired and make them stop playing (usually a little after midnight).  This Friday was a tad different.

In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, Jon was having a party at his place, that was to eventually morph into bar hopping in downtown Fullerton.  So Bobby, Brian, Jessica and I got dressed up like pirates and joined the festivities.

We had a great time.  Jessica and I were obviously more dressed up than the boys, but Joh, and Steve, and the others made sure we weren't the only ones in pirate attire.  Bobby and I agreed that we should do it again sometime soon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Braised Short Ribs... and Beef Ragu

Every time I receive the new Bon Appetit, I spend at least an hour perusing through it, making myself hungry, and trying to decide when would be a good time to try out the tastiest recipes in there.  I received the October issue last week, and decided I would start with the Braised Short Ribs recipe.

So Monday morning I threw everything together in the slow cooker.  I made a few changes: I used just under 4 lbs. of short ribs, rather than the 4 1/2 lbs. called for (all the packages were just under 2 lbs., and I didn't want to have to go across the street to Stater Bros. because their lines are always atrocious), and I used 8 oz. of mushrooms instead of 6 oz. (again, that was the size of the package, and you know how I am about mushrooms).  I used a Sangiovese for the red wine.

I had stayed home Monday, because I had a morning chiro appointment and was sore from the accident Saturday, and had so many other errands to run that I wouldn't have gotten much work done anyway.  So by midday when I made some awesome roast beef sandwiches (I love my new toaster oven!), the smell coming out of the slow cooker was just lovely.  As delicious as my sandwich was, I couldn't wait until dinnertime.

I made the Roasted Parsnips with Parsley that Bon Appetit paired with the short ribs.  Really simple, just roasted in olive oil, butter, parsley, salt and pepper.  I only made a half recipe of that, because the grocery store only had one 1 lb. package of parsnips, but it worked out perfectly.

The verdict - Very tasty.  I undersalted the meat before starting it all, but the meat was very tender.  I will definitely make it again.  Especially perfect for weeknights, since the work is ultra minimal.

The recipe fed the three of us, and left just enough to make the Beef Ragu with Pappardelle that Bon Appetit suggested making with the leftovers (again, feeding three).  Couldn't have been simpler - 1 cup of the leftover rib meat, 1 cup of the leftover Parsnips, 1 can of tomato sauce.  (I actually put that together when I was cleaning up after dinner on Monday, so I just had to put it in the pan.)  Mix it together and simmer while making the noodles.  I got a 4-serving package of the pappardelle from Trader Joe's.  When the pasta is done, season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.  Takes as long as it does to cook noodles.  If I had more than 1 cup of meat, I would probably throw that in too.

The ragu was even better than the ribs!  But then, that could be because I undersalted the ribs.  I will have to make them both again so I can decide for sure.  I do love pappardelle...


It's been really frustrating lately, hearing of all the turmoil on Wall Street.  I can't help but think that both the economy and these major corporations have been drastically mismanaged.  Unfortunately all of us will suffer for it.

Then today I read an article by Thomas Keller in the LA Times Food section.  Thomas Keller is a chef, owner of two three-star restaurants, and the chef Pixar worked with on Ratatouille.  One statement really stood out for me:

"We always must ask ourselves: "Is this opportunity right for me, for my staff, and for my industry?" If the answer to all three is yes, then you should pursue it to the very best of your ability.  But if the answer to even one of them is no, then no matter how attractive the opportunity might seem, you must make what is often the most difficult choice of all and just walk away"

It seems such a simple statement, and yet so true.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bad Car Day

I was really excited yesterday when I found out there is a farmer's market in Buena Park on Saturday mornings. I've been wanting to go to one, but I hadn't een able to find one that occured nearby when I wasn't working. So I planned to go this morning when Bobby was working on his homework.

Erica had taken the Civic for the weekend, since she doesn't have a car yet, and Bobby and I don't normally need more than one car on the weekends.

But when I made it out to the Accord, the tire was flat. I mean really flat. Like, couldn't be any flatter. The tire has been low consistently lately, and we knew we needed to replace the tires soon. I was hoping to sell it before then but oh well.

We didn't really want to wait while they changed out the tires, but again, Erica had the Civic, and Bobby's employee had the truck. But my dad's truck was at our house. Bootlegger's Brewery was getting a super deal on some new tanks, so my dad and brother had rented a flat bed truck to transport them... leaving his truck at my house. I called to ask if we could use the truck for a couple hours while we had new tires put on the Accord. "Sure, no problem."

So Bobby inflated the tire and hopped in the Accord, while I jumped in the truck. He decided to turn north on Brookhurst, while I decided to take advantage of the green light and continue on towards Euclid. Just after I went through the intersection, I saw the front of a car pull out right in front of me.

The woman had pulled out of a parking lot, crossed all the westbound lanes, and right out in front of me (the police confirmed she was clearly at fault). I couldn't see her until right before I hit her because she was hidden behind all the westbound cars waiting at the light, so I hit her at almost 40 mph.

Neither car was drivable afterwards, and we were stuck straddling the only two eastbound lanes. Firetruck, ambulance, two police cars, and two motorcycle cops - we got the full treatment. Had to shut down all eastbound traffic on Ball for at least a half hour. Two people in the other car went to the hospital, but everyone was able to get out of the car without aid, so no one was hurt too badly.

Even though it wasn't my fault, I felt pretty bad about my dad's truck. It's on the old and beaten side, so it would cost more to fix it than it's worth. My parents, of course, just keep telling me it's no big deal and they are just glad I'm okay, and now they seem to be excited about buying a new truck, as if I did them a favor by putting the final nail in the coffin.

You would think that were the end of my car troubles for the day, but it wasn't.

My farmer's market plans were aborted, and I just went back home to make some Spinach Artichoke Dip (that is an awesome recipe, and easy enough to half). My mom's family had planned a lunch at the nursing home to celebrate what would have been my grandparents' 54th anniversary, were my grandmother still alive. My aunt made some fantastic lasagna, my uncles a beautiful salad and garlic/butter bread, and my mom a pasta salad.

But when Bobby and I got in the car to head to the nursing home - the car wouldn't start.

After a couple minutes of retrying the key, it finally did start. The battery will likely also need replacing. Just add that to the list.

On the way to the party, we called Erica and told her to just be careful driving today. Call us superstitious, but it seems like we are having really bad luck with vehicles today. At the nursing home, chatting with my uncle, he said he's almost been run over by a car this moring, as a pedestrian. After the party, the car again wouldn't start for a few minutes.

My aunt, uncle and mom came by to chat and try a few wines. Dad and Murray joined us when they were done with at the brewery. We grilled up some burgers and ate leftover pasta salad.

When they all left, Brian and Jessica came over with her brother. Jessica told me that my Civic had been egged last night or early today, but they were able to wash it off before it dried. I'm telling you, a very bad day for me and cars...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

One Last Beach Trip

Emma had a little visitor last night. Brian and Jessica needed someone to watch the kids today, and while I'm not brave enough to take both of them on for a full day, I felt pretty comfortable offering to watch Caelyn. She generally behaves pretty well for me and she's potty trained. Very important.

Emma was super excited. Unfortunately for her, we don't know very many people with kids her age, so she's often stuck hanging out with a bunch of adults - or little kids. But she adores her cousins.

Emma had been asking about going to the beach, and Bobby had said "maybe." This, of course, translated to "yes" in her head, and she convinced herself that since her dad had not said "no" that we would be going. I had to admit, it sounded kind of nice, and though I tried stressing that "maybe" did not mean "yes," I secretly hoped he'd be able to get enough of his homework done so we could go... and made sure we brought beach supplies for Caelyn to come with us.

We didn't leave for home until somewhat late, and I was hoping the girls would be both be crashed out when we arrived. Caelyn did (yes!), but she woke up when I pulled her out of the car. We normally let Emma stay up late on weekends, but I was exhausted, and had them off to bed right away. Emma was pretty insistent that Caelyn could sleep next to her. After hearing a few "Shh Caelyn, we're supposed to go to sleep now" I peaked in to find them fast asleep. I'm quite sure it's not supposed to be this easy.

I woke up on the early side for me. I think I was anticipating that Caelyn would be waking early and wandering the house unchaperoned. That girl is capable of getting into way too much trouble, so I couldn't let that happen. But she wasn't up yet when I woke up (this is still going much too well), so I started making some tasty buttermilk pancakes. At around 7:30 I heard her stirring. So I came in and scooped her up so Emma could sleep in.

Caelyn apparently loves pancakes. She asked me what I was doing. "Making pancakes." Her eyes lit up, "yeah, pancakes!" She wolfed down the first two as soon as they were ready, along with a few peices of cantelope.

When Emma woke up she looked outside and her face fell. There was a considerable marine layer, and it couldn't have been warmer than 60 degrees outside. Not your ideal beach day, right? "We're probably not going to the beach, are we?"
"Well babe, we are maybe going to the beach. Maybe it will warm up in a few hours."

She was not convinced. But I was right, in a few hours we were looking outside and you could see the sun suddenly come out. Emma went running into the back room to tell her dad it had warmed up enough to go to the beach.

She won. I made lunches and packed up some beach stuff and headed to Newport. Caelyn was asleep shortly after we left the house. Perfect, I thought, she'll take a nap on the way there, we'll wear her out at the beach, and she'll fall asleep on the way back out to Norco. She is notoriously difficult to put down for a nap, so this was just making everything easier for me.

At first, Caelyn didn't want her toes to even touch the water. When it approached she went running away from it, so I scooped her up and held her so the water couldn't get her. For awhile she was scooping up freshly rinsed sand, throwing it into the water, and then turning and running back to where Bobby was camped out. Eventually we got her to touch the water, and it didn't take long before she wanted to be out there in it with Emma. Bobby normally goes out into the water with Emma while I lie around reading, but he was camped out doing homework, so I went in the water with the girls.

Caelyn had this kid's life vest thing on, and I was bent over with my arms around her chest. Each time a wave would come I would say, "Ready.... jump!" and she would jump into the wave screaming and giggling. The girl must have been up to her armpits in water, and I had to hold her back from rushing out further.

Every time we go to the beach (or any other public place), I'm surprised by how much more adventurous Emma has become over the last year or so. It wasn't long ago that she would panic if she thought her dad or I were too far away. Even going into bathrooms alone was scary. Now we have to remind her that we need her to be within sight when she's in the water like that.

Both the girls had a really good time. The 2 1/2 hours we spent seemed like a perfect amount of time, and I was shocked they didn't both pass out on the way to Norco. Caelyn wasn't too excited about dropping Emma off, and wanted us to turn around and pick her up again (me too). When we did get to her Nana's house, the normally rambuctious Caelyn was content to sit on the couch quietly with her aunt Katie watchng Finding Nemo.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Chores, Workouts, and Babies

My poor house is neglected.  I'm occasionally too tired (or am in too poopy a mood) to do the dishes, water the lawn in the backyard (where I have no sprinklers), do the laundry... you know, the basic stuff.  

I should be watering a little every day, but I wind up watering a bunch on Saturday morning because my grass is browing.  Even my poor little potted plants and vegetable garden get watered sporatically rather than regularly.

So I stayed home today rather than go with Bobby.  Erica needed to stay out in Anaheim too - she had a memorial service to go to down the street.  Apparently her friend's mom died in July, and even though they live in Norco, the service was in Anaheim.  Why, and why after so long, you ask?  Because the husband wanted to have the service in the church they got married in.  So he booked it as soon as he could, and waited.  So sweet.

I was super productive though.  Laundry totally done, kitchen clean, everything watered well, bedroom cleaned, back patio cleaned... everything!  Yeah me!

I also made lunch.

Mmmm... lunch at home.  Why do I love it so much?

I probably should have just heated up some leftovers (we are building quite a collection - pea soup, chicken corn chili, rice), but I had a basket of assorted cherry tomatoes that needed to be eaten soon, and this blog post I read yesterday made me want pasta.

I halved a bunch of cherry tomatoes and tossed them with some sea salt.  Sliced 4 cloves of garlic and a shallot, and chopped some fresh basil from the garden.  As my pasta was cooking, I sauteed the garlic and shallot in a healthy bit of olive oil, and turned it off once they looked soft.  When the pasta was done, I tossed it with the garlic/shallot olive oil, tomatoes, and basil.

It was good, but I was slightly disappointed.  Like it needed something.  Erica said it was really good, but she also said that about the salmon I overcooked last night, so I'm thinking she was being polite.

But then, a few hours later, I tossed in a tad more salt on the leftovers in the fridge, and took a few more bites, and oh my god it was delicious.  I'm not sure if it was just undersalted, or if it's just better cold, after having time to mix the flavors, but now I can't wait to eat the rest of it.

When Erica made it back fromt he service, we drove out to Norco together to meet up with Bobby and the rest of the family.  We watched the kids play in the yard for a bit, and then Jessica, Katie, Emma and I decided to do Jessica's work out video together.  She has these 10 minute workout videos and has been pretty good keeping up with them.  I, on the other hand, am terrible.  And I really could use the exercise.  So we picked the Total Body Workout video.

Emma quit about 2.5 minutes in.  Then wanted to do the 10 minute Yoga video.  She sort of half did it, while the rest of us tried to keep up with the pace, and getting into the poses.  It was much too fast for a yoga workout with no primer.  Maybe if you had gone through all the steps first, and then sped up, but there was none of that.  But it reminded me of how much I miss yoga.

I've been thinking about that a lot lately, actually.  Time and money and whatever it takes to get me down there seem to be working against me, but it really is something I enjoy doing.

Jessica was in the process of finding someone to watch the kids tomorrow, and Emma was asking about the possibility of going to the beach, so I told Jess I could watch Caelyn (I'm not brave enough to take on both, and Caelyn is potty trained and attached to me; Chase would want to play with Bobby all day, and Bobby has homework he needs to focus on).  We packed her some clothes, a swimsuit and sunscreen, and put the car seat in the car.  Emma was super excited.

We brought her home tonight, and although she woke up when I took her out of the car, she and Emma climbed into bed together and it didn't take long for them to fall asleep.  Now we just need to see how tomorrow goes...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Week Three: Check

I've done it!  For the third week in a row I have successfully brought my lunch to work.  We ate at the spa on Monday, so I only had to make it four days.

During this short week, I only went out to lunch once, but it was someone else's treat, so I still didn't buy lunch.  I stopped at Ralph's last weekend and picked up some shaved roast beef, and some grinder rolls.  I only made half sandwiches all week.  Using my oil-vinegar compilation to soak the meat in all morning came out really well with the roast beef.  I need to start mixing it up so I don't get tired of my sammiches.

Somewhat related, one of my co-workers today mentioned that he eats the same thing for lunch every day - a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, string cheese, and a peice of fruit.  The peice of fruit changes up, but that's it.  Even on weekends.  Every day.  He says he loves it, that inside he's 12 years old.

It is still easier to eat in the office most days, but I'm eating quietly at my desk and then stepping out to run an errand, walk around the building, or go read somewhere.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Back to the Spa

To celebrate Labor Day, Jessica, Brian, Bobby, and I didn't participate any labor at all.  Instead, we went to a day spa, lounged in the pools, soaked up the sun, went through the Grotto, etc.  It was a lovely, much needed relaxing day.  A facial or massage would have made it better, but we'll have to do that next time.

I have not had to pay to get in for 11 years now.

When I was like 13 years old or something, my parents loved going to Club Mud, at Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa and occasionally they would take us along.  This was before it was only open to a 16+ crowd.

When they made me go looking for a job the summer before my senior year in high school, I refused to even apply at a fast food place, and found myself looking through the classifieds for anything else at all.  Wouldn't you know, Glen Ivy was hiring.

I worked there for four years - two in the cafe, and two as a receptionist for spa services.  I cannot say how much I enjoyed the atmostphere there.  Sure, there were a couple people I didn't care for or really get along with, but overall it was a pleasant place to work.  I had unlimited access to the spa, and discounts on services.  I knew over 100 massage therapists and estheticians, and because I would willingly massage their tired hands and shoulders, they willingly took care of me too.  I was spoiled with facials and massages and body treatments.

After I left, I still had friends working there, and could get into the spa whenever I wanted.  I had to pay for my services now, but a day in the sun and water, combined with even a brief massage is a great way to relax.  I loved laying on a floatie in the lounge pool, reading a book.  In the cooler season, when the spa is very slow is also a great time, as many of the spas are hot - just be sure to bring a nice fluffy bathrobe.

Soon my younger sister got a job there, and I was able to maintain my free access.  Gma and mom loved it too, so we would periodically plan trips; it was what we did together.  They had since built the Grotto, an "underground cave" where they paint you with an aloe-kelp clay, and then you sit in the warm room while the clay softens your skin.  The showers in the Grotto were the inspiration for the showers mom and dad put in Gma's house.

My younger sister left a few years ago, but it wasn't long until Bobby's sister-in-law started as an esthetician.  I'm glad Bobby enjoys going to the spa with me, and indulging a little.  He may even love massages more than I do.  We discussed going again in October - Brian mentioned buying me a massage, maybe Bobby can buy me a facial that day too.  I do love the pampering.