The Best Queso in the Entire Whole Wide World. (Bob Armstrong Dip)

June 4, 2015
Screen shot 2011-05-05 at 1.30.28 PM

Of all the Quesos in the land, I have a hands-down affinity for this one: The Bob Armstrong Dip from Matt’s Famous El Rancho. It really is the best.  And here’s the recipe. Straight from Matt Martinez “Mex Tex” a cookbook of traditional Tex-Mex taste. If you don’t own this book, you should. (Give yourself a present and buy it right now, right here.)

It’s a three-layer dip made in three parts. But even though there are three parts, it’s super simple. Really easy. And uses few ingredients. Awesome.

Bob Armstrong Dip

4 recipes of traditional guacamole (below)

1 recipe of 20-minute Taco Meat (below)

1 recipe of Chile con Queso (below)

Warm a 9 inch X 13 in pan. (Or whatever size you have.) Spread guacamole into the pan, then add a layer of hot taco meat. Top with hot chile con queso. Serve with chips. Party.

Bottom Layer:

Traditional Guacamole

1 avocado

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice

Salt to taste

Cut the avocado in half. Discard eh pit and scoop out the avocado flesh into a bowl. Discard the skin. Mash the juice into the avocado and continue mashing until the guacamole reaches desired texture (I like it chunky. Like my men.) Adjust salt to taste.

Second Layer:

20-Minute Taco Meat

1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped white onion

1 tablespoon plus two teaspoons of Tex-Mex spice (I call this taco seasoning, keep it around always, and the recipe is here)

1 pound lean ground beef

Stir the bell pepper, celery, onion & Tex-Mex spice. Spread uncooked meat on top. Turn to medium heat. When meat starts to simmer, stir and break up meat. Simmer on low for 20 minutes. Done.

Top Layer:

Chile con Queso

1 1/2 cups green chilies

1/2 cup diced fresh tomato

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 cup diced celery

2 teaspoons Tex-Mex Spice (same spice as above…recipe here)

1 cup chicken broth

1 pound American cheese, cubed

Combine all ingredients except cheese. Bring to a simmer and gently cook for about 5 minutes. Turn heat down and add the cheese. Simmer until cheese is melted. Add water if  it’s too think or more cheese if it’s too thin.

So there you go.

Make it tonight.

It’s awesome.

You’re welcome.

And Happy Cheese Day.

Summer 2015. In Color.

June 3, 2015

Three at Ocean’s Edge by Lisa Golightly from Shop con Queso

I’m not going to lie, it’s been a pretty bleak summer so far. Floods have been flooding, camps have been cancelled, and more seriously, it’s been catastrophe after tragedy around here. All around Texas we are still cleaning up messes and attempting to get back to normal.  And I never thought I’d say this, but I’m pretty sure we are all ready for this rain rain to go away. Since I can’t control the weather, I’ve decided that I’m going to mindfully make myself to shift gears and move into a different headspace until the sun peeks through. No more dark clouds. I’m ready for some color.

When I think of summer, I think of oranges and yellows and bright pinks. Oh but no. Not this Summer. The Gods of Pantone have spoken and we are forecasted to have an easy, breezy, beachy summer with enough sea glass tones to make anyone want to collect some shells, take a nap and call it a day. At least, that’s what we think they are telling us. And you’re right, Pantone, we need to take it easy for a few months. Let’s do that.

Plus honestly, right now, I just want to look at some pretty pictures of pretty things that aren’t covered in water or mold. A visual breath of fresh air for five seconds. So in the spirit of color and easy breezy summer goodness, let’s look at how we would bring these colors into life.



1. Aqua and White Sea Shell Linen Cocktail Napkins by Lemondaisy Design from Shop con Queso

2. Seafoam Green Classic Ceramic Teapot from Amazon

3. Indigo Blue Party Ring by Zsuzsi Panyi from Shop con Queso

4. Miz Mooz Drea Sandal from Amazon

5. Seble Scarf – Safari Grey + Dusty Rose by fashionABLE from Shop con Queso

6. Baby Beach by Ann Marie Coolick Impastos from Shop con Queso

Central Texas Floods: The Water, The Cleanup and The Search

May 28, 2015

The amount of water that has fallen down on Texas in the last 30 days is just mind-blowing. Over the past weeks, I’ve talked to so many people who are located elsewhere, and I’ve been a complete broken record about rain, ‘the water just keeps falling, the earth is completely soaked, there’s no where else for it to go’. And I know, I know, it would be great for it to go to California. Someone call Elon Musk to build a pipeline. In the meantime, the current situation moved from crazy-making to heartbreaking.

I have felt all this rain first hand, and yet, even living it, my brain can’t completely get around this Infographic Piece that The Washington Post did on just how much rain has fallen in the last 30 days. Check it. Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 10.56.35 AM

Image Source: The Washington Post

The Washington Post Visualized: How The Insane Amount of Rain in Texas Could Turn Rhode Island Into a Lake.

“Each one of these cubes is 1,000 acre-feet in size, for a total of 1 million acre-feet. The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building at 2,700 feet, is dwarfed by this massive brick of water. The Statue of Liberty is just a speck at this scale. This 3,500 foot tall block of water could supply the needs of a city of 8 million people for one year. The crazy thing? This all flowed into Texas reservoirs in just the past 48 hours.”

And that’s 1 million acre-feet of water. 8 million acre-feet of water have flowed into the state’s reservoirs in the past 30 days.

But here we are, day four after the Memorial Day Central Texas Flood which affected a ton of counties, including Hays, Caldwell and Travis.


The sun came out for the first time yesterday. The first time in a month. I wrote about my parents’ house flooding the other day and included a number of Central Texas Flood Resources for those looking to help. Yesterday also brought a giant dumpster in front of my parents’ house which is now full to the brim.

We are at the point where we’ve done all that we can do at my parents’ for a few days. A flood of family, friends and community members came to the rescue immediately and then a professional drying service came in and ransacked the place.


They flipped everything upside down, tore out all the baseboards and brought in even more fans. The trashcan in the middle of the room is connected to a dehumidifier pulling moisture out of the air. In just a few hours, the giant trashcan was half full of water. Gross. Our neighbors all around us are going through the same thing…in many cases, they were hit a lot worse. Here is a news story about Martindale, and this was filmed at my family’s neighbor’s house. Someone started a fundraising page for my parents’ sweet neighbor Evy, who was hit hardIf you want to help them, go here. 

The house has to remain this way for about 72 hours, so while we were waiting, I heard from Kristin that she was going to help search for the missing families. And they were coming to Martindale.


A search party team was on my family’s land yesterday combing the riverbank and beyond to broken trees and debris, searching everywhere for the missing. Today, there were 20 teams meeting in Wimberley and coming to Martindale. I could help.


I met up with a part of Team 12. This group was made up of colleagues of two missing women, Laura McComb and Michelle Carey Charba. They had driven in from Dallas, Houston, College Station, San Antonio and Blanco. Some had talked to Laura just last Friday as she was driving in to spend Memorial Day weekend along the river in Wimberley.


And they were some of the kindest people I’ve encountered in a long while. We split up and came back together and compared what we had seen. They all agreed that they were very glad they came to help, if only to understand how overwhelming this search  truly is.


There is debris everywhere. Piles of it. Giant trees down. Mud everywhere. The terrain is compromised with a quicksand-like sludge and displaced animals.


And it’s imperative to go through all of it.


It is about 30 minutes by car from Wimberley to Martindale. I’m not sure how many river miles that is…but, it’s about 45 river miles from San Marcos to Martindale…which is only about five miles by car. I can’t even imagine how many river miles need to be searched.


Plus, considering the amount of water that ran through, 43 feet of water  flowing at a rate of 223,000 cubic feet per second — 2.5 times the flow of Niagra Falls, it turns out about 400 yards on each side of the overflowing river were affected. So that much land needs to be searched, for miles and miles down the river.


We searched for anything unusual, photographed each item with geotracking, and marked all large piles and areas searched. Beyond hundreds of random items and belongings, my path crossed a dead puppy, several dead squirrels, tons of dead fish, and about ten live snakes.


I do not like live snakes.


I walked alone for most of the time and kept my eyes open while searching for anything and meditating on peace and love and light.


I hoped…and continue to hope…for continual waves of peace and love and light for all the family and friends of the victims.


This is a tall order. There is so much ahead for them. And there’s a lot of ground to cover.


Kristin said: “Hiking the search area is physically and emotionally exhausting. Please lift all of those working day and night up in prayer- it is essential. I can’t even imagine how spent the families feel- extra prayers for them.”

I think this really sums it up. I was so very exhausted when I arrived home. I truly can’t get my brain around how family and friends of lost loved ones are moving and feeling right now.


It was an intense day. And one of many to come. Like I said, I spent most of the day on my own, even within my own small group, but along the way we met others who were there helping the search. So many people, all strangers, coming together to help families that most of us don’t know. We even ran across some New York Times reporters, a very strange and surreal occurrence in Martindale, Texas.


They were very kind and respectful to everyone who was there for so many different reasons. They asked quick questions and went out of their way to join in and stay out of the way, all while doing their jobs. We were a tough crowd, no one really wanting to be in the paper, everyone concentrating on the land below us and in our own headspace. Here is their resulting story:  Hundreds Form Search Parties to Seek Survivors in Texas Floods.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 8.00.44 AM

 Image Credit: Tamir Kalifa for the New York Times

 It’s a really thorough article that begins to touch on how tough this search, recovery and clean up is going to be. Like I said, as small as these sweet Central Texas towns are, the river area to cover is far and wide. And like everyone, I hope it is all over…and everyone is found…soon.

For ongoing coverage on search and rescue efforts…with continual updates…check out this Corpus Christi Caller Times link.  They are actually reporting things way ahead of other outlets at this point. My brother had heard from the local County Commissioner that a woman had been found in Martindale on Tuesday. It wasn’t reported until yesterday, except for on the Caller Times site. It turns out it was Michelle Carey Charba. Debbie Bennet (pictured above) received a call with this news while we were searching. Since then, we have heard from local friends that other people were found. We are waiting to hear official reports. At this point uncertainty and miscommunications are part of the search so we’ll be patient and wait to find the answers as they come.

But the searches continue. If you want to help this family and in their rescue efforts, and you are local, they are calling for more volunteers this weekend. Wear your boots, and be prepared for a physical and long day. Groups are meeting at the Wimberley Baptist Church throughout the day. If you are not local, but would like to help in some way….the search for the missing people is being run by the families. The cost for air support is 100K a day. They need to keep the helicopters in the air, the airboats in the river and the dogs on the ground. This is the only funding campaign sanctioned by the family. UPDATE: Here is a Wimberley Rescue site that was just created and includes all information about volunteering, helping and contributing to the search.

There are also a number of groups who need help that we have listed here.

Memorial Day Floods In Central Texas: Plus Central Texas Flood Resources

May 26, 2015

I woke up at 3:30 am on Sunday morning to a call from my Dad saying that he and my mom were driving to my house because the San Marcos river was heading into their house. My uncle, who lives in Wimberley, called my dad at 3 am and ordered him to evacuate. The Blanco River…which runs into the San Marcos River…had risen 27 feet in 15 minutes. And a wall of water was heading their way. They were disoriented and practically sleepwalking as they scrambled to get out of there and find open roads to head to dryer land. The photo above was taken hours later after the river had gone down quite a bit, but was still up quite a lot (It is usually far below that far group of trees you can see in the distance).

The San Marcos River runs through the edge of my parents’ backyard…probably 300 yards (or, three football fields, as we say down here) downhill from their back door. They built this home 40+ years ago, and the river has come up only a few times in four decades, raising up to the raised back porch once in 1998, but never inside and never beyond. This weekend, it overachieved.

In Wimberley the river level crested at 43 feet early Sunday morning, flowing at a rate of 223,000 cubic feet per second — 2.5 times the flow of Niagra Falls. And all of that water headed quickly down the river to Martindale.

The photo below this is one taken by their neighbor Evy. It is their street hours after they evacuated. Water still up. Their house is not shown and probably 200 yards down on the right. Covered in water.


Photo Credit: Evy Grant Wilkinson I grew up with Evy and they were hit hard. If you want to help them, go here. 

We aren’t storm chasers, so we didn’t drive into the flood to get floody photos. In fact, throughout this whole process, I took very few. But the Austin American Statesman helicopters were overhead. This is the Dairy Queen in San Marcos on the road in to my parents’ house.


 Image Credit: Austin American Statesman

If this isn’t a Texas Flood photo, I don’t know what is. This pretty much sums up the whole weekend.   The Statesman and the people who work there really have done an incredible job capturing images over this past weekend. Check them out. 

When we arrived at my parents’ house hours later, after the roads were clear enough to return, we found a lot of damage. A lot. And yet, so much less than our neighbors in Wimberley faced. 


This photo above was taken after the water had fallen back about 50 or 70 yards and after a few hours of work had already been done. My parents had a large group of friends and fellow church members who immediately descended upon them to help. So much was already done by the time we got there! It was unbelievable. And friends brought food, tools, fans, and worked until late that night.

Because of the massive force the river rushing through, 100-year-old pecan trees came down and sped on to create more problems elsewhere. Massive destruction, property and families lost. So haunting. And we were lucky. The worst familial upheaval we experienced was a family of turtles that was still struggling to get out of my parents’ backyard, hours later. Can you spot the turtle Harry is about to liberate from the fence?


This is what the floors of my parents’ house looked inside. Or, at least the muddiest part there. So much mud, and mud and more mud, everywhere.


This was after it had been cleaned four times over two hours. The mud was everywhere. It seemed like it kept rising up again after it was cleaned away. For hours.


The biggest emotional cleaning project that we had came from thousands and thousands and decades of photos. My grandfather’s slides from the 1950s. My parents’ yearbooks from the 1960s. Their wedding album. All of our family photos from 1900 forward. Most were stored in a trunk that didn’t fare well. My mom’s biggest advice now: “Store your photos high.” To which my dad said: “And then you’ll be hit by a tornado.” (We decided that after the last month, my parents might actually get ready for a tornado…a heart attack and ICU visit in Colombia and a flood in four weeks.) My sister then reminded them that over the last three decades they’d experienced a fire (their home completely burned down), a hurricane, and now a flood.  They only need a tornado and they’d have the EGOT…or, uh, the FHFT. And then 2 hours later, there was a tornado spotted less than five miles away, in Maxwell, Texas. Stop talking, Family. And knock on some wood.


This is how we do it. My 9-year-old spent Memorial Day drying out his grandparents’ yearbooks. He was sad for them that “the world was all black and white back then.” Oh little boy, you just said a mouthful.


As he did this, my sister-in-law and I went through thousands of photos to lay them out, dry them out and salvage anything we could. Every flat surface available was hosting a soaking image and most continue to.


This is the dining room. It is still drying out.


And this is what the rest of the house looks like. Stuff everywhere. Fans everywhere. Things drying. This is a slow process because it is still raining. An hour after this photo was taken, we were all under flash flood warnings again and Austin was flooding. 


This is just a bit of the debris. We are waiting for a dumpster to arrive to really clear things out. And so that is where we are right now. Waiting for things to dry. My brother and a high school friend of mine (Thank you, Parker Allred!) tore out a bunch of walls yesterday and got rid of a ton of soaked insulation so things could be ready for the drying process to begin. And we are still waiting for that.

But we are lucky. Infinitely lucky. When I hear the stories of people who lost everything, of people who lost people. It’s really unbelievable. To think that the water rose almost three stories in less than 20 minutes. In the middle of the night. So much confusion, so much loss. Right now people are just working to pick up the pieces. Or find the pieces. As I type this, James is meeting a rescue crew from Corpus Christi on my parents’ land to help them search for the missing. Again, haunting. It’s hard to even comprehend what they are going through.

The Today Show covered it all this morning and interviewed family members. 


Image Credit: ABC 13 Houston. 

And now Houston is flooding.  Enough already.

So friends, we are river soaked down here, please send arks. Or better yet, someone start building a pipeline to California asap before all of this runs into the Gulf. I can’t believe that doesn’t already exist. We’re so good at building pipelines around here.

I can’t help with that, but I can help with information flow.  Here is a list of lifelines and resources that my friend Laurie White helped me pull together for those working to clean up the messes and dry out the floods.

Central Texas Flood Relief Resources

 Hashtags: #ATXFlood  #HoustonFlood

365 Things to Do in Austin — Ways to Help Central Texas Flood Victims — Local organizations and businesses providing on-the-ground assistance.

 Austin Chronicle — Flood of Relief — Updated list of resources

Austin-American Statesman — How to Help Central Texas Flood Victims

 American Red Cross and Partner Shelters across Central Texas

 American Red Cross Donation Page

Austin Disaster Relief Network/ Central Texas Floods Relief Fund – The Austin Disaster Relief Network is comprised of churches, ministries and businesses within the Christian community of Greater Austin to form a disaster relief alliance to help those in need in times of disaster.

Austin Animal Center — Pet fostering and assistance with reuniting with owners needed, follow on Twitter @austinanimals.

Austin Pets Alive — Emergency Fosters and Pet Relief

Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid

United Way of Greater Austin — Text UWATX to 85944 or give online at


American Red Cross of Central Texas

Austin Flood 2015 Relief


You can also read more at Central Texas Floods: The Water, The Cleanup and The Search. 

Loquats Are Not Kumquats

May 21, 2015

Regarding our first printed correction of the New Queso, please note for the record it took no time at all for me to make a mistake. Because my kumquats are actually loquats and loquats are definitely not kumquats. Despite what a number of very confident people told me, this beautiful tree that my great grandmother planted is not of the kumquat variety but rather a very normal loquat tree, and now I love it even more. I am not going to change the name of the Kumquat May martini however, because that name is just awesome. I will buy some kumquats though and attempt to make it and follow up with that there. In the meantime, let’s talk about loquats.

A native of China, a loquat tree fruits in mid- to late spring here in Central Texas. They’re big in southern California…and that makes sense because they look sort of 1960s SoCal to me…they’ve very Donna Parker in Hollywood.  And the fruit is really good…mild, sort of understated sweet. They don’t taste like honey, but they remind me of mild honey for some reason, with a dash of tang. And I was thinking, they’d be really good in salsa.

Because when life hands you loquats, make salsa.

So I did. Check it.unnamed-1


Laura’s Loquat Salsa

– 8 Loquats, chopped

– 2 large tomatoes, chopped

– 2 green onions, chopped

– 1 jalapeño, chopped (I take out the seeds to make it milder. Leave in the seeds to make it HOT!)

– 1 bell pepper, chopped

– A handful of chopped cilantro

– Juice from one (or two) limes. (I use two because I like lime juice a lot)

– Salt and pepper

Mix it all up together in the bowl. Serve with chips. Or, I served it on salmon and it was awesome.

And that’s just the beginning … I feel like you can do so many cool things with loquats…


Photo credit: Loquat Lemon Mint Sorbet from Cafe Liz. I love Cafe Liz. Check her out. 

You could also do loquat strawberry pie.  Loquat lemon mint sorbet. (What?! I am all over this.) Loquat cobbler. (No, THIS!) And of course, Loquat wine & Loquat liqueur. (Loquat wine & loquat liqueur need to age at least one year. Therefore, it would be best to plan in advance. No last-minute drinky here, my friends.) I’ve now given most of mine away, but now that I know what I’m dealing with here… next year, watch out.

Get Started! Plant a loquat tree. 


BTW: Best Things of the Week

May 15, 2015

This week it’s been raining like crazy across Central Texas so mainly we’ve just been sleeping and reading and watching Rockets Games and getting ready for the Mad Men finale. How do you think it will end? Tell me! I have 87 theories. Or four. And I am carrying them all around in my new tote bag. Totes.


Totes MaGoats Tote Bag. Because who doesn’t want a tote bag featuring a goat. Here’s the story behind it.  Personally, I find that giant goat a little terrifying but I do loves the goats totes bag.

And speaking of goats…

Who you gonna call?…


Reddit Credit

I’ve recently been thinking about butter and how I love it so and how for some reason Australia has super figured out how to do butter because their butter is the best and is probably made with crack. I have not yet found a good place or way to buy Australian butter (if you know of one, let me know) but I did find this…


The Butters of the World collection. And I bought this because I am my grandpa. Also because Butters of the World! 

Because when it comes to butter, I am all in. And speaking of all in… (this is a terrible transition, but it is really true that I am all in for butter)… Peabody Award winning journalist Josh Levs just put out a book All In about the current realities of maternity and paternity leave and how that affects us and our children and families.


We grew up on Free to Be You and Me, but as we’ve grown, we’ve found there are actually a whole lot of too many barriers to that.  Why is the U.S. the only developed economy with no paid maternity leave? Why is paternity leave so hard to come by?  These problems come from the same source: outdated norms which in no way match our current realities. With more maternity/paternity leave, families flourish, co-parenting and gender equality take root, and businesses + the economy improve. All In shows how we can get there. Check it. 

And finally…

A Young Couple Gets Increasingly Aged with Make-Up. And freaks out and then cries. But in a good way.

Here’s What Would Happen If We Put All The Myers-Briggs Types Into The Hunger Games Together. So now you know.

The Oh Happy Day Shop is now open! Jordan Ferney opened the cutest online party shop and it has everything. Check it. 

And… it turns out my Kumquat Tree is actually a Loquat Tree and that is even better except I am not going to change the name of the Kumquat May Martini because that is just too good. I am, for the sake of accuracy, now going to have to buy some stupid kumquats and make the drink again to make sure it’s as good as the loquat drink which is called Kumquat May… which is really apt when you think about it. And it looks like I’ll be posting more about loquats and how they are far superior to kumquats next week. Okay so, until then…

Happy Weekend!

XOXO & Queso,





Kumquat May Martini

May 14, 2015

My great grandmother planted a couple of trees next to (and now under) the giant pecan trees in the backyard of the house I live in. They are large but almost look like overgrown bushes in comparison to the 80-year-old pecans. But I kept them around because the leaves are pretty and they are evergreen and oh my gosh I just figured out that they are kumquat trees. Mostly because they are producing at lot of kumquats right now.


I told my brother David about this and he mentioned that he had consumed this incredible kumquat drink in Canada (I know, that sentence is funny) and that he would email the bartender to get the drink recipe. Because of course my brother has the email of a bartender who makes mean kumquat drinks in Canada. Just in case.


So yesterday I get this forwarded email from my brother.

Hello Mr. Harrison!

I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed your stay with us at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. It’s nice to know that my cocktail was memorable enough for you to ask for the recipe.  I’m flattered and more than happy to share my secrets with you:

 Although Kumquats would be delicious I’m sure… I actually use ground cherries  for this drink, also known as Physalis.

Fred’s Original Loosey Goosey 

(From the the Mallard Lounge at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler)

-Muddle 6 Physalis in shaker glass


-1.5 oz. of your favorite gin (I use Tanqueray)

-.5oz. St-Germain Liqueur (also delicious with Champagne)

-.75 oz. FRESHLY SQUEEZED lemon juice

-.5 oz. simple syrup (1/2 sugar 1/2 water ratio)

 Shake all ingredients and fine strain to avoid having seeds in the drink. Serve up in chilled martini glass garnished with ground cherry on the rim.


Wishing you and your wife a great summer.


Fred Lemieux

So, our take-homes here are A) Fred Lemieux is awesome. And B) I now want to go to Whistler and stay at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Amen.


Also, I like Fred’s ideas here. But I’m not a super fan of cherries, I don’t really know what Physalis are, and I have about 568 kumquats in my tree outside.


So I made my own recipe and because I wanted to use what we already had in the house…which mainly means that I didn’t want to put on pants and/or leave my home to go to any stores. This is what I had, so this is what I did:


Kumquat May Martini  

-Muddle 3 Kumquats in shaker glass


-1 oz. of your favorite gin (I use Bombay Sapphire)

-.5oz. Prosecco (also delicious with Champagne)

-.75 oz. FRESHLY SQUEEZED mandarin cutie (this would also be really great with lemon but I didn’t have any lemons)

-.5 oz. simple syrup (1/2 sugar 1/2 water ratio) (I didn’t have this so I made it. Boil sugar in water. Done.)

Shake all ingredients and fine strain to avoid having too much fruit in the drink. Serve up in chilled martini glass garnished with kumquat + rosemary on the rim.


If you don’t have any rosemary, just go ahead and get a rosemary plant and plant it.


It grows like crazy, smells good, makes the bees happy and you always need it. This one is a little out of control but I’ll do something about that eventually.


Also, I finally just took a few sips and it’s possibly the most yummy drink ever.




How to Grow Your Own Kumquats

How to Grow Kumquats in Garden Pots

Buy a 2-3 Year Old Kumquat Tree in a Pot. Party.

Soundtrack: Come What May. Or the Glee version. 


I’m Like a Room Without A Roof

May 12, 2015

Harry made this for me for Mother’s Day at school from the given prompt “My Mom Is…” And I’m honestly surprised he didn’t say “EXHAUSTED!” But I’ll take HAPPY. In one way, it’s the best compliment he could have given me, because it suggests that when he looks at my eyes looking back at him, I am. Happy.

And I am.

Mother’s Day is a fine enough holiday if only because it was created to encourage people to take a break from killing each other during the Civil War. And honestly, how can you argue with that? However, over the years, it has morphed into an often forced and potentially lovely Sunday lunch gathering of flowers and florals and all things maternal. It’s a nice sentiment that makes a lot of people sad because they’ve lost mothers or children or both. I get this. I’ve lost more children than I’ve had, and as much as I don’t want it to be, Mother’s Day is always a silently roaring reminder, rolling in a quiet storm of dark clouds. I always work to push through it, focus on the happy, and I am for sure thankful that I get to spend my day with my mom and my son. But I also understand the blue periods or blind rage that people feel. It’s a complicated day full of shiny, happy Facebook photos of multiple children and moms of all generations. Happy and sad at the same time.

Of course that really sums up life in general, doesn’t it? This one afternoon that produces hundreds of thousands of photos and a rush of every emotion available to us as humans. Beauty. Miracles. Tragedies. All rolled up into one gathering. It’s all there over a few short hours, and if you read too much Facebook in one sitting, it’s really exhausting. But if I get to choose…and I do…I’ll go with Harry’s vision.

I’ll choose happy.


On Mother’s Day, we swim. #Texas

There’s a lot to be happy for and about and with and through. I’m also really happy we don’t have to celebrate anything today. Although National Chicken Dance Day is tomorrow. So you’ll want to get ready for that.


It’s Been An Eventful Three Weeks.

May 12, 2015

Three weeks from today, I received word that my dad had a heart attack on a boat in the middle of the ocean, headed to Colombia. So then I headed to Colombia.


Two weeks ago from today, I flew from Colombia to Scottsdale, Arizona for Mom 2.0 Summit and The Iris Awards.


One week ago today, we relaunched The Queso.


And then I took a nap. Thanks for hanging with me while I was napping. But I just woke up and I’m ready for what’s next. Also, I have a lot to share as do Karen (who is in Malawi right now) and Kristen (who is up to her eyeballs in 9-year-old baseball and I know this because I’m on my way to a game too).

Andrew McCarthy

But I can’t wait to talk about Andrew McCarthy. For starters. Let’s do this.


What To Plant In May: This Time, With Kids.

May 6, 2015

This post is sponsored by the good people at Garden Collage, a new lifestyle and gardening publication, which features stories on the new role that gardening takes in our modern lifestyle.  Be sure to check them out! They are my new favorite thing. For real. I just learned about Fiddlehead Ferns for the first time the other day (I randomly ate some in Phoenix) and then here they are. And Mikaila from BeeSweet Lemonade (who is featured here) totally goes to my son’s school and her family is awesome. Love it. Seriously, this is my new favorite inspiration site. So share your garden shots with me on Instagram and Twitter with #GardenCollage. I want to see what you’re doing. Let’s grow stuff! 

May is my favorite month to plant things…because it is the end of so many things around here. The end of the school year. The culmination of my favorite big event. And I like to combine endings with beginnings. It’s the best to plant seeds at the end of one school year and harvest them as another one begins. I tried to explain this to Harry last night and he just sort of looked at me like I was insane.

There are so many ideas out there on how to make kids like vegetables. And I have tried them. I’ve tried everything. I even tried planting things as a group project, together.

It did not work with my kid. (It may work with yours…And I wish you so much luck and good tidings of great joy.)

But every seasons he does humor me and go along with planting things together…and he does actually like watching things grow and pulling fruit from the greenery. I’ll take anything at this point.

garden 1

Karen talked about this the other day here (Gardening  with Kids) and her child is an angel and super into it. Kristen has been running her children’s school garden for years…and teaching kids how to garden…and she is going to talk more about that next week. I’m really looking forward to that because I need new tricks.

What I do know is what grows well around here (Zones 7, 8 & 9) in May. We are getting close to the end on some of them (squash & watermelon) but there is still time. So this is what I recommend for May.

what to plant in May

So this is what I’d like to do. If  you are thinking of planting something or trying something, let me know. Leave a comment here or email me ( or tag anything with #gardencollage. I’d love to see what you’re planting, what you’re growing and if it’s working. I’m always shocked when it works. But, water and sunshine, man. Magic.

squash 2

I just planted all of these things, so I might be just a few weeks before you, but basically, we’re all on track. For instance, just three weeks ago, I planted some squash. And just like that, this plant went from the one above…to the one at the very top of this post. I’m telling you. Magic. Squash blossoms everywhere.

And I’m planting watermelon and okra this weekend. So join me! There’s still tons of time.

It’s going to be a good summer.