It is RODEO time in Houston. Every year this time the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is in town for a few weeks. It usually is here during spring break so it becomes one of our day trips as a family. If you have never been to something like this it can be an all day event. Not only do they have a carnival with tons of rides, games and food vendors but there is also over 480 retail vendors with everything like cowboy boots, candy, jewelry, scented candles, furniture, clothing, kitchen gadgets, etc. They also have a kids zone with fun exhibits, rides and interactive activities. Want to see an egg hatch live? They have it! Want to see them milk a cow? They have it! Want to walk around thousands of pens full of stinky pigs, cows, horses, chickens, etc? They have it! They also have livestock auctions and competitions.
The big event is the rodeo and concert held inside Reliant Stadium. They always have a concert after the rodeo that features a headline singer or group. Although I am not a huge country music fan I am impressed with the A list of stars that have sold out shows each year like Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, and Reba McEntire. The rodeo itself includes bucking horses and bull riding, chuck wagon races, barrel races, the calf scramble, calf roping, etc. One of my favorites by far is the “Mutton Bustin”. The announcer actually puts it the best when he says “this is the part of the show where we strap our kids to farm animals and call it entertainment”. If you have never seen it you have to watch the video below. Basically it is a child around 5-6 years old wearing a heavily padded vest and helmet put on the back of a sheep, told to grab on to its wool, and then hang on for dear life when the gate opens. As the sheep runs across the pen the object is to see who can stay on the longest. Over the years I have seen a few kids with tears but the majority have huge grins on their faces and are pumping their fists in the air with excitement after they take that dive to the ground.
What is your favorite thing about a rodeo?
You can’t make this up! My son actually said that to me one night this week. We have a chore chart that rotates each week and some weeks are done better than others. My son is by far the best at doing his chores without being asked and he is only 9. This week his chore was dishes and he made sure they were done! I even found the dishwasher going the other morning to my surprise because I don’t remember many dishes in the sink. Of course when I opened the dishwasher there indeed were only 4 dishes in there and it was going! Too cute! I had to explain to him later that he can load the dishwasher and wait until the end of the day when it is more full to run them.
So back to the title. After doing the dishes one night he decided to clean off the kitchen counter with the cleaning spray. He then moved to the table. Then just started cleaning things around the house like the shower doors, sinks, bathroom counters, etc. That is when we said it was bedtime and he said “I’m not tired can I stay up and clean? Oh if we could only bottle that type of enthusiasm for cleaning! I am still trying to figure out if he really was having fun cleaning or if he just thought that would allow him to stay up later.
We have tried to make our children understand the importance of work as well as the need to help around the house because they live there too. This education and experience will hopefully follow them when they leave home. Their rooms are their responsibility, however most days it looks like a bomb went off. Their idea of cleaning their room is find the closest area to shove something under or into and now that it is “out of sight” it is clean. We are still working on that! We started with chores when they were younger and of course they were more basic but have progressed to larger responsibilities or ones they are required to do without help now that they are older. Our chore chart now consists of 3 different major chores that will rotate each week so they each get a chance to do something different weekly.
- Pick up all laundry around house on floors and from baskets
- Sort laundry
- Fold laundry and help put up
- Pick up dirty dishes from around the house
- Load dishwasher
- Empty dishwasher
- Clean counters and dining table
- Clean trash from floors
- Sweep and spot mop floors
- Take out the trash
- Clean bathrooms once during the week
What chores do your children do around the house?
Photo Credit: grouprecipes.com
My husband’s family grew up loving Red Velvet Cake which quickly became a favorite of theirs for birthdays or special occasions. I had never tried one until I had married my husband. The recipe is said to be the actual Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake served at their hotel and after trying it you could certainly see why. Although if you search it online as Waldorf Astoria Red Velvet Cake you will find a few variations of the recipe.
I have tried to make cakes from scratch before and they have never turned out as tasty or easy as this one. I have to admit that if I am short on time I have cheated and made a store-bought red velvet cake however I will not cheat on the icing. This icing is to die for! It is not like a traditional cream cheese frosting you will find on many Red Velvet Cakes. This one is almost like whipped cream but is very rich. It also is fairly simple to make as long as you follow the instructions and make sure the flour mixture is completely cooled before preparing the remainder of the icing.
This still is the cake my husband loves for his birthday and of course being red it is perfect for Valentines too. I am never so fancy as to do multiple layers as shown but I have cut the cake in half and put a layer of icing in the center. Although I have never done it before these would make really fun cupcakes for Valentines parties too. If you have never had red velvet cake, or never had this recipe you HAVE to try it! Click HERE for the recipe:
What is your favorite cake or frosting?
Valentines Day costs consumers nearly 16 billion dollars a year. That is almost 1.1 billion boxes of chocolates. Jewelry and dining out average 3.5 billion each in dollars spent and flowers bring in around 1.7 billion. We spend almost a billion dollars on greeting cards alone. The average man will spend around $150 and women around $75 for their significant other. All to show our love for others on this special day.
Remember in elementary school where children exchange Valentines with classmates and how paranoid you were that someone would think you liked them because of what your valentine would say. Inspecting each candy heart to verify what it said before it went into the envelope? Maybe the goal was the opposite and you wanted to profess your love for someone by reserving that special Valentine just for them and maybe giving them a few extra candy hearts too!
I think I am a bit of a strange cookie because I have never been one that was big on a specific day set aside to profess my love for someone or them for me. I think we have that opportunity “every” day and frankly getting flowers, cards or other gestures out of nowhere on a regular day says more to me then a set day on the calendar where you feel the pressured to profess your love. There are some that have expectations on Valentines day. When those expectations are not met they often become angry or hurt because they did not receive what they specifically wanted or feel they deserved. True heart-felt gestures of love should be accepted for what they are, a gesture of love. I think expectations can put pressure and stress on your significant other to “perform” and then it no longer feels like a true gesture of love. That said I understand that it is a fun day to make sure we are letting all those important people in our lives know that they are loved and frankly just having a whole day set aside to focus on love itself.
So what gift ideas are trending for Valentines Day this year?
- Lingerie (is that really for her or more for him?)
- Aroma Candles (lets set the mood)
- Music Players or Equipment
- Mood Music
- Digital Reading Device
- Books on Relationships/Marriage
- Romance Gift Basket (PG all the way to X rated!)
- Romance Gift (also PG all the way to X rated)
- Handheld Organizer
- Accessories (belt, wallet, gloves, etc)
- Grooming Products
- Alcohol & Candy
- Bar Set (so they will drink at home I guess?)
Gifts are a fun way of celebrating but they really are just material items and it is the time we spend with loved ones that shows our true feelings. Just as the Beatles song says “All you need is love”. Happy Valentines Day!
What are you planning for Valentines Day? What was your best memory?
I am all about convenience. Fixing a meal certainly is not the highlight of my day so anything that will make that process faster, easier and healthier is right up my alley. We have used a propane gas grill or a traditional charcoal grill for much of our cooking. I do like that meats cooked on a grill are not sitting in fat like when cooked in a griddle or frying pan. Frankly though I hate starting up the grill to heat or waiting for the charcoal briquettes to be ready. I certainly don’t like cleaning up the gunky messy grill plates later. Also the last thing I want to do in the high temperature and humidity of Houston is be outside cooking in front of a hot grill. So where is the happy medium that balances that out?
For my birthday my sweet husband and kids bought me an indoor grill. This is the George Foreman Grand Champ Family Value Grill. Each time I use it I am more excited about the benefits this indoor grill offers and excited to actually cook a meal. The one thing this does not offer that you get with a traditional grill would be the smokey flavor but other than that it does the job very well. This particular grill is just one of many products offered by the George Foreman Line and is their larger family size grill.
There are so many things to love! First of all it does not require any cooking spray. You simply start it heating and the indicator light lets you know when it is ready, which isn’t very long. Being family sized I easily was able to cook 6 hamburger patties on it. What is fabulous is the lid closes down to allow cooking on both sides at the same time offering evenly cooked food, no need to turn anything over, and the food actually cooks faster. This grill is slanted to allow juices and fat to run off into a drip tray. Clean up is extremely easy too because once it has cooled off you simply wipe it clean with a towel and warm water. Any juice or food debris can be easily scraped off with the special spatula scraper they provide. The grill does not need to be washed other than that and the drip pan and spatula scraper are both dishwasher safe. It is by far the easiest clean up of any cooking methods I have done.
So far I have enjoyed cooking chicken, hamburgers and shrimp and look forward to many other adventures with my new indoor grill. So a special shout out thank you to my family for the fabulous gift!
What products are your favorites or make cooking more convenient?