Nov 29, 2017

Healthy Hair ; Healthier life.



everyone shampoo and conditioner
everyone shampoo and conditioner
everyone shampoo and conditioner
I spend much of my time outside and around Texas explorin'. While it's all fun and I love the life its provided takin' care of myself can be challenin' at times. Good chunks at a time I either live out of my car or hop from state park to state park, hotel room to hotel room. Just the realities of bein' on that Texas road photogrpahin' and writtin' I suppose.   Not only do I spend much time away from home but Texas is hot. Real hot. Even in the Fall. We all know it, and we Texas have come to just deal. But, it isn't always easy. Especially for someone like me who not only has short hair that coils and afros but that stays unnaturally dry thanks to a pesky autoimmune problem. Findin' a product that doesn't leave my hair more dehydrated than the Texas Panhandle but also cleans is always a struggle. 

A few years ago I went natural in an effort to help correct some of this. I try my best to leave harsh chemicals and sulfates out of the products I use on not only my hair by my skin as well. And with as much time as I spend out in nature and the Texas sun/ heat, it is much needed.

I was recently able to try Everyone balance shampoo and conditioner and to say I was skeptical is an understatement. Everyone products are not only cruelty-free but gluten and GMO-free as well as sulfate free. They are plant-based. I know, I know that's a mouthful.

Well, I was much surprised when I found they didn't leave my hair dry but instead it felt nourished. I just came from campin' and hikin' in The Texas Panhandle at Palo Duro Canyon, and I purposely waited to wash my hair so I could try everyone products. I was entirely grossed and pleased with how brown the water. My hair even felt weightless afterward which I always love. The lovely smells great for aromatherapy don't hurt either.

I have to say I'm more than pleased and can't wait to pick up some more shampoo at Walmart to take with me on my next campin' trip.


Nov 26, 2017

Why I'll be giving on Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday PSA911

I sit, starin' at the blank screen before me: a youtube video plays in the background but doesn't offer much distraction. I quickly fumble through a few photos saved on my hard drive. I stare earnestly at them willin' the words to come to my fingertips and then again my computer screen. The holidays in full swing I find myself sentimental more and more. 

I chuckle thinkin' back to the conservation I'd had with my mother just earlier that day. She always did get annoyed and act shocked when I'd bring up stories of our childhood and how unreasonable she could be about cleanin' and yard work. 
 And so the story goes: I'd been woken and told to get dressed and help pull weeds. I was angry and rightfully so. It was barely 8 am and I'd yet to have breakfast and Momma was carryin' on about how we were sleepin' our life away. Daddy offered to keep watch over the front door while I quickly made a bowl of cereal. "I got you homes," he'd always say. Twenty minutes later when I didn't return outside Momma came stormin' in demandin' I help immediately, and breakfast could wait. 
She cringes with a laugh as I ask her if she remembers. Of course, she doesn't. And the stories would end many the same way: Me with those beggin' eyes: "Daddy, please. Momma doesn't have to know."

Daddy always did have empathy and compassion for others. I suppose it was his life work. Much of my childhood spent with him workin' nights as a juvenile probation and intake officer. Years later Momma told me he liked the evenings because he wanted to be there when the kids came in. He'd spend his summer working the oil rigs to pay for college. That same degree that allowed him to fulfill his dream of helpin' others. 

I also find myself grateful. Grateful to have someone that not only cared about family but the well being of others. Somone who would help a young person see the path to a brighter future no longer to be bound by past mistakes.

I suppose this holiday season above all else I'm thankful. Thankful for organizations like PSA911 that provides continuin' education to police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs and the like who worked alongside my Dad day and day out.

So join me this Giving Tuesday and do a little more this holiday season by helping those who so generously support us. I'll be giving $25. Will you?

Nov 23, 2017

A Southerner's Guide to Holiday Etiquette



Wente Vineyards Wine


































The holidays can be a joyous but stressful time. Endless dinner parties and functions. Gifts and thank you notes. Growin' up in The South I like to think I've perfected bein' a perfect hostess or attendee. So, I got together with a few of my favorite Southern Ladies and made this guide: A Southerner's Guide to Holiday Etiquette.

Let's start from the beginnin', shall we?

RSVP:

In the world of online datin' and social media sites like Facebook, it can often be hard to remember things. Waitn' untill the day to RSVP for somethin' is still not ok.  Think of it this way: If dinner will be served the hostess needs to know how much food to prepare or cater and no one wants to be makin' changes at the last minute. You may read this rule and laugh thinkin' it's a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised. I can't tell you how many ladies in my Junior League Brunch group forget to update their RSVP on a monthly basis.

It isn't rare to be invited to more than one function around the holidays. Here in The South, it's common. Just let your hostess know ahead of time if you'll need to duck out early enough where it'll go noticed. But, just remember duckin' out from a dinner party isn't the same as leavin' a gift exchange early. And just as leavin' a dinner party is never ok unless lettin' the hostess know, arrivin' late is never ok. Be mindful and respectful of others time.

PLUS 1

The perfect guest never brings an uninvited guest. If your hostess didn't include them on the invite, there is bound to be a reason. And don't be offended when Aunt Sally doesn't invite the new beau when you can't even keep them straight.

Dietary Restrictions:

Never wait until the last minute to let your hostess know of any dietary accommodations that may be needed. This doesn't mean you don't like turkey.

Distractions at the Dinner table:

A few years ago we had a dinner party at my best friends parents house to celebrate her then engagement to her now husband. I'll never forget one of the boys lookin' shocked when we asked everyone to not only dress like they came from somewhere but to leave their phones away from the dinner table. I later found out his family wasn't very traditional.

Traditional or not there are specific rules of etiquette one must follow at the table no matter how silly they may seem and electronics at the table is a big one. To this day if we are on our phones at the table not engaging with family Grandma Johnnie will reach over and take your phone from your hand. "It just plain rude," she always says. And you should wait to be excused from the table. I'll never forget bein' a kid, and we went to someones house for dinner. Not only did I get up from the table without permission but I took my shoes off and put my feet in the seat. I've never seen my dad madder or embarrassed as he was at that moment. Never again did I do that.

Always offer to help clean and clear dishes even though a gracious hostess will deny the offer.

Side note: Get the Hen recipe HERE

Dinner Talk

It is never ok to bring up politics or religion. I know we all have that one Uncle, but that doesn't make it right. It is, however, acceptable to politely change the conservation when there is an awkward lull. For example, a few years back at a family reunion, we had a BBQ. Even I have that Uncle. I found myself cornered and didn't know what to do or say. My cousin immediately saw and came to my rescue. Some of the younger cousins had started a game of frisbee and, he wanted to know if I wanted to join. A polite way of endin' the political conservation no one wanted to engage in without bein' rude.

Overstayin' your Welcome:

It is never ok to be that person that doesn't know when to go home. My Mother made a joke after Thanksgiving dinner as I helped her wash dishes that she was thankful one of our family friends always knew when it was time to go and put her kids to bed. I marveled at how pleased she was for this.

Thank you notes and Hostess Gifts:

Never be the person that shows up empty handed or doesn't say thank you. While the world has moved digital thank you notes should still be analog, send a thank you note or card within a week of attendin' a dinner party or function.

And always remember to bring somethin' for the hostess. It is still polite to ask if you can do anythin' to help if the invite doesn't say to bring a dish. A great hostess will always refuse your offer, but you always ask anyway.

Personally, I like to bring a bottle of wine as a thank you gift when bein' invited over. I know some of these unwritten rules may sound silly, but you never know who doesn't know. A few years back I had a friend look at me appalled as we stopped at a local wine store before goin' to a Junior League Dinner Party. He didn't realize it was customary to brin' such things.

If you need a good wine may I suggest Went Wine? The Riva Ranch Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon are particularly good choices because they don't have to be chilled as long. Even better as all Wente Wines are under $30 for the short term, and you can get 25% off your order if you use the code 25TOAST. So, you better get to stockin' up cause the holidays are in full swing and I know you'll need a great hostess gift.

What did I miss? What's one etiquette tip you think everyone should follow?

Nov 21, 2017

Travel Guide: Hiking Palo Duro Canyon




Palo Duro Canyon
Three days, two nights, 21 miles and as I soak my feet, I type and rub my nose with Kleenex. 26 degrees. 26 Degrees, Y'all. That's how cold Palo Duro Canyon got at night. I suppose this runny nose is an indication that after darn near 15 years it's time for a new sleepin' bag and tent.

Each Travel Guide I love to link the full #TravelinTexan bucket list so Y'all can see the entire list. Palo Duro Canyon crosses number 37 off the list. Shall we get into this quick little trip? And hang until the end to see what Kleenex and Viva toilet paper has to do with the World Wildlife Foundation and bein' the Travelin' Texan.

Over the last year or so I've found myself fascinated with Native American Culture and it's roots. It's speculated for years that my family has Native American, but it can't be proven, and I have yet to take one of the many DNA tests. Nevertheless, it doesn't stop me from enjoyin' the rich history and the few remnants left of the Old West in Texas. Palo Duro Canyon, located in Canyon Texas just thirty minutes from Amarillo in The Texas Panhandle is abundant with Native American History. You'll find the giftshops and signs lined with information on Quanah Parker, the Comanche Tribe, and the Red River War.

Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the US next to The Grand Canyon. Home to roadrunners, rattlesnakes, lizards, wild turkeys, bobcats, mule deer, and coyotes. While we only saw roadrunners a few times, we did hear the coyotes as they lulled us to sleep. Under the Panhandle stars.

We arrived at Palo Duro Canyon, late Sunday night after a quick 6-hour drive from Dallas. The park closes the front gates at 10 pm, so if you are goin' to show past then make sure to call ahead so you can be left with the code and told where the late check-in box with your temporary pass is. We found our camp area and quickly pitched our tent. The cold night was an understatement even bundled to the high heavens.
MSR Pocket Rocket Camping Stove

Texas Parks and Wildlife Mug

Live with Purpose Mug

We woke the next morin' and drove up the Canyon to the Ranger Station to check in and receive our permanent pass. The drive up and down the Canyon is breathtakin'. Texans often joke about the majesty and vast differences in Texas, but until you travel around the state and see for yourself, you really can never put it into words.

Warm coffee and oatmeal was a must. Anythin' to stay warm and fill our bellies before we hiked. Palo Duro Canyon has some more than 40 miles of trail, and those are just the ones marked on the trail map.
Nunn Hydration Tablets in Palo Duro Canyon

Hiking Trails:

The two most popular trails in the State Park are Civilian Conservation Corps Trail (CCC Trail) and the Lighthouse Trail. The CCC Trail is touted as the most challenging trail in the park because it is the only trail that descends all the way down to the bottom of the canyon. And as Mr. Brandon who was working the gift shop told me when I asked about the trail, "Just remember honey what goes up must come down. You hike down if you want but you gotta come back up." I chuckled not realizin' how right he'd be two days later.

The lighthouse Trail is by far the most popular and colorful trail of the park. Touted as moderate the trail not only goes through parts of the canyon but ends at the base of the famous Lighthouse rock formation. Once the trails end, you can climb to the top at an elevation change of about 600-900 feet, but other than the optional climb to the top the trail is flat and smooth. The moderate ratin' by the state park is because at six miles round trip if you don't have water you'll struggle.
Kleenex

Kleenex

We set out on Monday to embark on the Lighthouse Trail. The plan was to take the smaller Paso Del Rio Trail that travels along the main road in Palo Duro Canyon to Lighthouse Trail and then see where the day led us. Quickly plans changed, after we drove to the Chinaberry day use area to drop off our car and get hikin'. We immediately followed the path that a camper told us would lead to the "Cowboy Dugout" and take us on the trail. I suppose that was our first mistake. Trustin' someone who swore they knew the area instead of findin' out for ourself. After a good 2 hours of hikin' uphill, we quickly realized there was no way we were on the "family friendly" Paso Del Rio Trial. We found ourselves stopped for lunch and I must say thank goodness for the mini Kleenex packs we packed because with the constant elevation change and wind my nose could not stop runnin'.
Rose Garden Trail at Palo Duro Canyon

Rose Garden Trail at Palo Duro Canyon

After a good rest and cool down we found ourselves at a crossroads. I could see other hikers above us, and I could see the road below us. The problem was the trail poorly marked. Moments later a middle-aged couple came upon us and informed us we were just a fourth of a mile from the Rock Garden Trail lookout. "I knew it," I shouted. Avery looked over at me puzzled. I hadn't told Avery as not to alarm him but when I realized we were still goin' up, I pulled out my phone and opened my compass app. I looked at the longitude and latitude coordinates and saw they were identical to the ninth point of interest on the map the Park Guide had given us. That had put on us in between the Juniper/Riverside Trail. We weren't off the trail. We'd never been on the right trail, to begin with, and should have never trusted that camper. After a little arguin' with Avery, we agreed that he would rest and I would walk the last fourth of a mile up to the lookout to take a few photos and video.

We eventually made the mile down usin' the well-marked Rose Garden Trail. Again we pulled up my compass app, and I spun into a circle until the red arrow pointed north. North, we begin to walk. We walked quickly upon a map kikos that showed we were goin' in the right direction and were never on the side of the canyon we wanted to be on to begin'. A good hour or so later the sun began to set as we saw the car in the distance. The only one left in the day use lot. Avery dramatically fell on the floor after he pulled out his GPS app to see we had hiked near 13 miles. Well over the six we had intended to hike. I pulled up the map and stood near the car tryin' to see where we had gone wrong. I quickly realized the reason the trail we were on seemed poorly marked was that we had hiked the strenuous bike trail. Bikers look down when they ride so the flags were the markers and the x's we saw on the ground at the fork in the trail were not indicating that that path closed. It was lettin' bikers know that section wasn't safe and to stay right. I chuckled as the cold set in, and we drove our tired bodies back to camp.
viva paper towels

We made quick work of dinner and camp bedtime rituals. Much of the meal spent laughin' over the day's hike and what would become of the mornin' before we left. Avery insistin' that he wasn't goin' on the CCC Trail with me. We compromised. I'd make the short trail in the mornin' before he woke.

That next mornin' I rose frozen beyond belief. Avery rode along as I drove to what I assumed was the trailhead, parked the car on a side indention and readied myself to hike informin' Avery that if I wasn't back in two hours to follow the map and come lookin'. The sun rose over the canyon as I made quick work of the short path in the bush that lead to the trail. A fork in the trail approached, and I chose to go right to continue along the path. Moments later I realized I was again only goin' up, but determined not to stray from the trail I forged. Thirty short minutes later I found myself at the top of the trailhead. I tried not to look annoyed as kids and parents bustled around me. What was it with the poorly marked areas in Palo Duro Canyon. Why have a sign that says the CCC Trail this way in one-fourth of a mile when the actual start of the trail was up the top of the canyon? I sat for a second gulpin' water debatin' what I wanted to do next. I looked at my phone's and decided for safety and time I'd abandon gettin' to the bottom of the canyon. I'd accidentally seen most of it the day before anyway. I'd just Take the top of the trail back.

Halfway through takin' the trail back, I found myself lookin' up to see the trailhead and all the people and lookin' down to see there were no more trail markers. To go back to the last marker I'd seen or not? The smart decision would have been to turn around, but I opted not to. I could see the road and realized I wasn't far into the bush. I forged forward off the trail until about thirty minutes later I saw the canyon road. I walked the canyon road down until I saw Avery holdin' a water bottle filled with coffee. He was jumpin' and wavin' to get my attention. He saw me comin' and wanted to make sure I remembered which direction the car was.

We arrived back at camp to see that the disrespectful Texas wind had blown our tent across the park and stakes were strewn every which way. We made quick work of breakfast and packin' anxious to get on the famous Lighthouse Trail before we headed back to Dallas. Appreciative of our Viva paper towels, Avery had hung them from the side of our picnic area for easy access and reach.
Palo Duro Canyon

Hiking Palo Duro Canyon
lighthouse trail Palo Duro Canyon

I made a massive groan as we approached the trail at noon only to realize what we saw on the map was one way. Avery smiled hopin' that would change my mind, and we'd just head out. "Not a chance," I hollered. I climbin' the top of the lighthouse.

Avery bowed out at the end of the trail. Optin' not to climb the 600 feet up to the top. I found myself sad as I climbed alone. Not a soul to in sight who would take my picture I selfishly thought. I reached the top as the wind threatened to topple me over. Once on top a family with small children cautiously made their way on the narrow rock child by child. The mother looked at me and went, "Want me to take your picture? Ohh, lemme scoot back so I can get angles and everythin' in view." I smiled and mutter a very appreciative thank you before sittin' and takin' in the vast canyon. I could see the Panhandle for miles.
lighthouse trail Palo Duro Canyon


I always joke with people it's not campin' that I love. If I'm bein' quite honest, I do not get a thrill from sleepin' outside in a tent or cookin' over campfire or stove. I enjoy hikin'. I appreciate the feelin' of pushin' myself.  Of bein' on the side of a canyon holdin' on for dear life as I continue to climb up. I never did understand those who like to run on a treadmill or stationary bike as you are goin' nowhere. I camp because that's how I get to hike. I need to be outside seein' Texas.

With that bein' said one of the many selfish things I love about bein' able to partner with Kimberly-Clark Cooperation is that I purchased all the Kleenex and Viva Choose-A-Sheet Paper Towels from my laptop and had them delivered next day.  Easy convenience so I could focus on other fun parts of campin'. And Y'all know I love a good coupon or deal; I get it from my Daddy, or so I'm told. You can save $2.50 off in coupons and up to %15 with the subscribe and save on Amazon. With the holidays comin' up and items such as these bein' a staple in households, you can't beat that deal. You can also get the same deals with Cottonelle and Scott.

But, the best part. Yes, the best part is that from now until 2020 the Kimberly- Clark Cooperation is partnering with the  WWF and Forest Steward Council to raise awareness on the importance os usin' products that have fiber that comes from managed forest responsibly. As someone who has not only made Texas my bucket list but I spend much of my time when I'm not brunchin' outside in Nature, I'm on board. It also helps that I went to a college that is one of the top Foresty and Agriculture Colleges in the state of Texas.


All, you have to do is make sure when you shop  the package has the Forest Stewardship Council label and you're all set. I like the idea of doin' good and findin' a way to "Heart Your plant."  Somethin' so simple but will have such a huge impact.



Nov 8, 2017

Tamale Pie



tamale pie

tamale pie
Great Midwest cheeseHappy cows come from California, or so they say. I chuckle every time the commercial runs on my tv; my Momma on the other hand winces. Spendin' much of her childhood in Wisconsin, "Everyone knows happy cows come from the dairy state," she always says. Some of my favorite cheese comes from the Midwest, so I suppose this to be true. Growin' up spendin' summer in weeks of Summer in Wisconsin I knew this to be true. Not only was it a chance to get away from the unforgivin' heat of a Southern Summer but many cheese cords were eaten.

Growin' up here in The South Tex- Mex became a staple of my diet, particularly Tamales. Tamales and pupusas at the holidays as you visit with friends; always a treat.

As I spent the day in the kitchen cookin' away I found myself muchin' on more cheese than I should. Each bite of Great Midwest cheese remindin' of summers past. To be expected with Great Midwest bein'  artisan crafted in Wisconsin.

As my family munches through dinner rootin' and ravin' about how good it is I find myself grateful for Junior League and another recipe passed down.


Ingredients:
1 /4 lb Chorizo
1 lb ground beef
1 chopped yellow onion
1 chopped bell pepper
1/2 c chopped celery
2 1/12 cup blended tomatoes
1 1/4 cup kernel corn
2 t. chilli powder
1 t salt
1 t black pepper
Cup of water
1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal




Directions: 
1. Cook Chorizo in a skillet or cast iron.
2. Drain some of the fat and add in the ground beef. Cook until brown.
3. Drain some of the excess fat and add the onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook until they start to wilt.
4. Now, add in the corn, tomatoes as well as the chili powder and salt. Pepper. 
5. Cover and simmer. For 10-15 minutes and while the skillet is simmerin' mix the cornmeal and water well in a bowl. 
6. Slowly add the cornmeal mixture to the skillet and let thicken.
7. Grease a bakin' dish or ramekin. Gradually add the tamale to the bakin' dish and back at 350 for about 1 hour.
8. Layer the top of the Tamale Pie with the both Great Midwest Cheese and bake until cheese melts
Now you're ready to serve and enjoy.


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