Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Home again, Home again jiggity jig

Aaaaah, I'm back in my own home, I have retrieved my children and my dog and I plan to retrieve my husband from the airport tomorrow.  Tomorrow is also picture day for Emily and the outfit I was going to have her wear is dirty, and SOMEHOW it turns out I have to go sign Emily up for KINDERGARTEN on Thursday!?!?!(!!!)  Real life has resumed.

I will do a quick summary of my last few days in San Antonio, then get back to business as usual  here.


We had breakfast in the room:
Oats cooked with water from the coffee maker, 1 Tbsp peanut butter and 1 Tbsp juice-sweetened strawberry jelly
 plus I got my obligatory skinny mocha.

After that Will had sessions all day so I set out to find amusement for myself.  I started with a jog that ended up being 2.44 miles!  After I completed my jog I walked a bit to cool down (and to snap pictures of areas along my jog that had looked especially pretty in the morning light).

I don't know what this tree is...

...but its flowers smell like heaven

This was probably the tallest tree I saw the whole time I was there...most were pretty low and scrubby

The resort (or as much of it as I could fit into a picture)

A rustic fence to keep wandering non-golfers from bothering the golfers

After I jogged and showered I hopped in my car and drove north for awhile.  My destination was Gruene (pronounced Green) which was a cute little historic town that I explored for a bit.

This is where they filmed the dance scene in the movie Michael

I ate lunch at the Gruene River Grill

A huge, delicious greek salad with chicken
My view during lunch

Once the clock struck noon and alcohol could be legally served, I made my way to The Grapevine.

 This was a cute little tasting room/store that specialized in Texas wines.  Unfortunately the same issue seems to plague most of the state's wineries...I tasted some yummy ones but VERY few were made from locally-grown grapes.

Your first 3 samples (and even more if you buy something) are free!  What a neat place.  I sampled my way down the list and then left with a glass of white merlot just for the sheer pleasure of wandering the streets drinking alcohol (which is illegal where I live).

I saw these beauties in an antique store
 I was very encouraged to see the clothes for sale in the San Antonio area.  A while back the only pair of jeans I could find that fit well had a couple sparkles on the butt and I wasn't sure if it was appropriate for a 30 year old mother of 2 to sport a sparkly posterior.  Now I realize that I haven't been wearing ENOUGH sparkles on my ass.

Now THAT'S more like it

(FREE!) Prickly pear margarita in a clothing store
 Once I had walked off my buzz I said goodbye to Gruene and went to check out nearby New Braunfels.  It wasn't as touristy which is normally a good thing but it was a Sunday so most things were closed plus the sky had clouded over so everything just seemed kind of dreary.  I visited the Faust Brewery but they don't bottle so I couldn't take anything back for Will to try.  I had a chocolate stout on his behalf.

On the way back to the resort I stopped at a strip mall and got a manicure and pedicure.  It was not the best I have ever had (and I think I was supposed to get a paraffin dip but it had already taken an hour and a half so I didn't bother to speak up) but it was much cheaper than getting it done at the Marriott spa!

The timing for today was absolutely perfect.  I arrived back at the resort, got a smoothie at the 3/4 Starbucks (which they assured me had protein powder but no added sugar) and walked down the hall to meet Will just as he exited the conference rooms for the day.  

The most economical way to obtain a banana from Starbucks
 We chatted and changed and boarded a van to go to dinner with a vendor.  We ate at Aldaco's

Although everyone else was afraid of it (and the waiter said he'd rather use it as a dip than drink it), I ordered the Avocado Margarita, and then ordered another because it was so fantastically good.

I NEVER order margaritas because I can't stand it when they're made with sour mix.  That's not much of a problem in San Antonio though; everyone down there prides themselves on their margaritas so they use fresh lime juice.  I also NEVER order creamy drinks, but since the creaminess in this guy came from avocado instead of, well, cream, I went for it.  It was probably fattening but it was made with real food and it tasted just like lime sherbet.  Amazing.

I also had a bit of ceviche...

...and traded half of my fish tacos for half of Will's skirt steak, chicken, guac and beans. 

Finding "REAL" Mexican food in the US is such a point of pride/contention among some people...moreso it seems than most other types of food.  I've never really taken a stance because I honestly hadn't given much thought to the difference between "REAL" Mexican food and whatever other kind of Mexican food is out there that people don't consider real.  This is a bit strange, since I have eaten what is inarguably "REAL" Mexican food because it was served to me in Mexico (and I don't mean in Cancun or Playa del Carmen).  After discussing it with Will on this trip though I think I have now pinned down some important differences and feel comfortable recommending a Mexican place to someone, even someone who claims to only like REAL Mexican food.

"REAL" Mexican food:
-Uses mostly corn tortillas
-Is very fresh (especially the salsas)
-Uses only a tiny sprinkling of cheese (queso fresco)
-Is usually pretty clean and healthy

"FAKE" Mexican food:
-Uses mostly flour tortillas
-The sauces include HFCS and usually come from a can
-Is smothered in cheese (cheddar)
-Is not at all healthy

There are obviously other differences as well, but those are the three biggest to me.

And in case you were wondering, this place seemed pretty authentic :-)

After dinner we went down to the bar at our resort and ordered some of their tasty drinks.  I had a blackberry mojito (which was pretty clean because I ordered it without sugar) and this pretty little drink called a canyon sunset.  I can't remember what was in it though....wonder why.

Then what happened?  You guessed it...I fell right asleep.  I had no trouble falling asleep on this trip, although staying asleep all night was more challenging.


Monday was a travel day and I didn't take many pictures so here's the quick rundown.

Breakfast in the room:

Same oatmeal as the day before

Part of Will's omelette
 followed by a workout and a shower, then I said goodbye to my husband and headed to the airport.  I hit Whole foods first though!  It was born down here so I just HAD to visit.  It was massive, but I honestly didn't find anything especially different or interesting (except for the WINE AND BEER they can sell there. C'mon Maryland, stop being so lame).  I DID get a Pomegranate-Tea KeVita that I haven't seen at stores around me but I didn't enjoy it so I am not sad that I can't find them at home.

My obligatory Whole Foods Salad
I was majorly disappointed in the salad bar!  Whereas the ones near us have a plethora of tasty grain and tofu salads that I enjoy sampling, this one had PLAIN everything.  Plain blocks of tofu.  Plain lentils.  Plain barley and chicken and eggs.  I did find ONE wheatberry salad that had some flavor and fun stuff in it.  The greens mix had raw kale in it though, which I found cool, especially since there was no cooked kale or broccoli on the salad bar either.  I KNOW!

I also acquired the following snacks for the plane:
-9 pitted(!) Castlevania olives (I forget what they're really called, but it sounds like Castlevania)
-1 multigrain roll
-an individually wrapped 3/4 oz hunk of cheddar cheese
-6 dried turkish apricots from the bulk food section
-for dessert, 9 carob-covered espresso beans, also from the bulk food section

I tucked my food under my arm and headed to the airport.  I was thrilled when they let my salad through security so I didn't have to make a fuss and go eat it in the corner before getting back in line.  I munched on it while I waited to board but all that plainness (and raw kale) got less and less appetizing as my departure time approached.  I decided to just finish it on the plane, which was a bad idea in retrospect because I ended up dripping beet juice all over myself as I boarded.  Ew.

The flight was nice and smooth and relaxing, despite being surrounded by no less than 3 babies in the 2-3 month old range.  I'm telling you...ever since I became a mother OTHER people's crying babies don't bother me.  They actually make me feel giddy to tell you the truth because it's a relief to know that I am not the one responsible for calming them down!  I do feel for their parents though.

I landed JUUUUST too late to be able to see the girls before bedtime so I hit Common Market on the way home to stock my fridge (and get a pack of brown rice salmon rolls to complete my snack dinner) before heading out to my mom's house.  I spent the night there and was awakened the next morning at 6AM by Emily complaining that the crazy fiber optic night light my mom got her was stuck on yellow, which is NOT her favorite color.  

I didn't mind :-)

My food consumed today will have to wait to be posted...I'm am plumb tuckered out and beyond excited to go sleep in my own bed for the first time in a week.  So goodnight, and let's hope that since I didn't drink any alcohol yesterday or today I will sleep less fitfully tonight (but still fall asleep quickly)!

Rancho Relaxo

Greetings! It's another chilly day here in San Antonio. It matters less now though since I am spending more time inside. I am not holding out hope any longer that I will get a chance to get in the pool, but I did get to hang out in a hot tub for awhile today. This morning started with room service delivering our "pastel omelettes", which were 70% egg white 30% egg yolk (isn't that what an egg pretty much is to begin with?) with herbs and a grilled tomato. We augmented it with Great Harvest bread with peanut butter.

Then we set out in search of caffiene. There is a "3/4 Starbucks" in the lobby (the barista's description...apparently it means they don't do sandwiches but they accept gift cards and sell pastries) so I got a skinny mocha which we enjoyed in the "Texas Library", which is a lounge full of books about...Texas. 

After that we headed to the spa!

 We checked in early so that we could work out in the spa-only fitness area. After completing a nice workout (Will taught me the correct way to do Turkish Getups) we had a yummy lunch in the spa cafe. Avocado, pan-seared albacore tuna, salad and 100% whole grain toast (which I am 99% positive was NOT 100% whole grain) and a mango coconut yogurt jalapeno smoothie. I love mixing spicy with sweet but I never remember to do it when I'm preparing smoothies or food at home.

Once we were stuffed with lunch it was time to start officially spa-ing. I was excited to show Will a "real" spa since I had described the nice bathrooms with every possible necessity provided and plunge pools and snacks before we went to the spa in Jamaica....then they didn't have any of those things (plus they tried to dig through the skin in my back).  I had to leave Will though to go to the ladies-only side so when we split we made plans to meet back up in the unisex lounge an hour later. I used the hot tub, the steam room, the sauna and the shower, then went to find a very bored Will down in the lounge. Apparently he doesn't have as much of a tolerance for extended relaxation as I do :-) 

Spa snax
I think she put ALL of those lotions on my face
 I got my facial while Will got his massage, then after a quick turn about the outside portion of the spa I declared it fully explored and utilized so we retired back to our room to get ready for the dinner reception that was the kickoff to the conference.

It was pretty much as I had anticipated.  I saw some faces I haven't seen in 4.5 years since the last time I came to these conferences, and lots of new faces too.  The first day is always overwhelming as you try to dredge up names from your memory while concurrently trying to remember the names of new people.  Imbibing spirited beverages while you try to do this doesn't help either.

The newspaper industry is so interesting.  It is a very old industry, and by this I mean both that it has been around for a long time and also that most of the people working for newspapers are older people.  This was thrown into stark relief this weekend because there was also a drug rep conference going on at the same time and those people were all young and wearing 4" heels and getting blasted all night at the hotel bar.  I prefer the newspaper crowd though, because most of them love to drink just as much (they just hold their liquor better) and I guarantee you those 70 year old men who were newspaper publishers back when that job was like being a rock star are more interesting to talk to than any of the young people from the other conference I saw "networking" at the bar.

I did not take pictures at dinner since it was a more formal setting and we were with business people but I had:

-A glass of Shiraz
-A bloody mary
-A cup of french onion soup, the bread and cheese removed (so basically broth with onions...still delicious though)
-About 5 oz salmon, 2 oz skirt steak, and 2 bites of roasted chicken
-2 sips of a diet coke and rum (didn't like it and I was buzzing hard enough already)
-A small Kir, which was served to everyone in honor of a member who died recently (and whose favorite drink it was)
-A small glass of port because I've been wanting port ever since the Wine Kitchen didn't have it
-NO vegetable side dishes because the only options were buttery mashed potatoes and creamed spinach :-(
-NO dessert, even though they sat a chocolate lava cake (and ice cream in an "almond nougat basket") down in front of me.  I just watched the ice cream melt....

 Oh my, and I now realize I had a glass of sparkling rosé before I even went to dinner!

 Looking back, I'm no longer surprised that I didn't eat all that much  because I definitely filled up most of my stomach space with alcohol :-/  Oh well, I wasn't paying and I didn't have to drive or be responsible for kids the next day.

My other random snacks for the day:

My hand looks like a horrible bruised crab claw

I wrote the beginning of this blog post the day it happened, and I am finishing it up now because #1 I stopped being able to blog while on vacation thanks to running out of memory on Google, then on our iCloud, wifi not being friendly and myriad other reasons and #2 because I obviously passed out the minute I got back to the room.  I will say that I did not ever suffer a hangover though, despite my not-so-great drinking habits during this trip.  Perhaps it would have been better if I had though, maybe it would've stopped me from continuing to drink my weight in alcohol each day.  I don't normally do this...I guess I was using drinks as my "treat" since I was eating well all the rest of the time.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Good God! I finally managed to get my post for yesterday up, even though the pictures were uncaptioned and in a crazy order. Apparently Apple products just hate Google applications and that's the best I can do :-(

Today was fun though. I passed right out at 9:30 but then woke up confused but refreshed at 4:50AM. With a little effort I managed to get back to sleep until 7:30AM. We're only 1 hour behind here, but it is really messing with my energy and sleep!

We had a nice breakfast of oatmeal with fruit and a hard-boiled egg at our B&B before we checked out and headed on our way. Our first stop was Great Harvest to get some bread. We were hoping to get some sandwiches too, but apparently none of the locations down here make sandwiches :-( They also had a couple different types of bread with HFCS, which I thought was a Great Harvest no-no?

Next we stopped by Hertz again to pick up Will's jacket because he had left it there the day before. It was a nice warm 85 degrees yesterday, but today it is a windy 61 degrees so a jacket is quite necessary!

Once we had bread and were properly clothed we headed to Green, which is a vegetarian restaurant. I love vegetarian restaurants because you can always get interesting and well-prepared veggies whereas most restaurants tend to treat vegetables as an afterthought. I got a raw collard green wrap with mushrooms, pecan hummus, cranberries and all kinds of other yummy stuff that would be a big pain to chop up and prepare for yourself. I loved leaving there feeling stuffed without feeling weighed-down and unhealthy.

I found space in my stomach for a raspberry wheat beer at Freetail Brewery, then we drove north to Dry Comal Creek Vineyard. I was very interested to check out a Texas winery! It was a cute little place, but it turns out that although they make about 14 different kinds of wine they only grow one variety of grape on-site. I get so irritated when wineries do this! I guess I understand that they need to make money while they get established, but why would I want to buy wine in Texas made from grapes grown in California? I can just buy WINE from California and cut out the middle man.

The wine was ok there...the woman kept telling me various wines were "dry as a bone" when they tasted awfully sweet to me. The one she said was "sweet" was painfully sweet. I guess they jut have a different definition of "sweet" than I do.

After our day of driving around exploring the northern San Antonio area we found our resort and checked in. Everything we've seen in this area looks brand-new, and our resort is no exception. It is also massive! I hope it warms up so I can go check out the pool, complete with slides and a lazy river :-)

Will and I were tired so we had dinner here at the hotel...we shared our veal chop and striped bass half and half. The star of dinner was a raspberry habanero margarita. They have ALL KINDS of infused tequilas at the bar there that I might have to check out more thoroughly in the next couple days.

Now I'm headed to bed...I have some serious spa-ing to do tomorrow (this time with Will)!