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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Holidays in TEXAS with a 4 year old

Day One:  Laredo to VICTORIA: 295 km = 3 hours 

Fairfield Inn and Suites:  Kepler enjoyed the indoor pool.

     HISTORY:  Victoria was founded in 1824 by 41 Spanish families.   
     ATTRACTIONS which we could have visited but we arrived too late:
          Texas Zoo:  animals indigenous to the area
          Nave Museum: displays Royston Nave’s Texas landscapes and portraits
         Children’s Museum
          Riverside Park

Day Two:  Victoria to HOUSTON:  200 km = 2 hours
          HOUSTON is “the nation’s fourth-largest city.”

          ATTRACTIONS we went to:  

-          Children’s Museum: open Tues to Sun: the biggest and best we have ever been to:  Kepler's favorite areas:
a huge water section


ambulance:  Kepler is taking the patient's mouth temperature

police car

    Meanwhile, Bryan and Nicole went to the Museum of Fine Arts which also has a sculpture garden

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Kemah:  The Kemah Boardwalk is “one of the more amazing tourist attractions to pop up in Texas” . . . “a sprawling arrangement of restaurants, rides, landscaping with fountains and palms, and docks . . .”


Day Three:  Houston to GALVESTON:  drive about one hour

     Hampton Inn & Suites: 6431 Central City Blvd.

          Galveston is an island-city with mansions built in the mid 1800s. 

          ATTRACTIONS we visited:

-        Moody Gardens:  has a dinosaur exhibit


a Rainforest Pyramid houses “exotic plants, mammals, birds, butterflies, and fish”.  Also an “amazing bat exhibit” 

    32 miles of beaches:  Stewart Beach and R.A. Apffel Park are in the city area and have concessions.



          ATTRACTION we visited :
     Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark:  “a covered, climate-controlled area” with “multiple areas for small children”


Day Five:  Galveston to MATAGORDA:  157 km = 2 hours

          Stanley-Fisher House Bed & Breakfast:  built in 1832 by “one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence”:  We stayed in "the Lodge" and Kepler enjoyed climbing the bunk beds.


-         Matagorda Bay Nature Park:  free admission: great kayak tours, birds, playing on the beach

-         Matagorda County Birding Nature Center:  nature trails, butterfly & hummingbird gardens, waterfalls, flower gardens, kayaking

-         The town “still has a vintage feel to it and has a few stores” and restaurants.


Day Six:  Matagorda to ROCKPORT

Rockport and its twin town, Fulton, “claim to be home to the state’s highest percentage of artists”.  Austin Street is “the main drag of the cute little downtown”.      

          ATTRACTIONS we saw:  

-         Aquarium at Rockport Harbor:  free admission but only Thurs to Mon

-         Rockport Center for the Arts: local arts scene but we missed a sculpture garden 


Day Seven:  Rockport to Port Aransas

          Beachgate Condo Suites

Port Aransas, on the northern tip of Mustang Island, “is in many ways the most pleasant beach town on the Texas coast” with “lots of activities and nightlife”. 

          ATTRACTIONS we saw:

-         Birding center: free admission: boardwalk over the marshes and a viewing tower

-         Nature preserve at the lagoon end of Port St.  Over 2 miles of trails. 


Day Eight:  Port Aransas to LAREDO:  279 km = 3 hours


·         Quotes come from 2 guidebooks:  (a) OFF THE BEATEN PATH TEXAS  (b) LONELY PLANET TEXAS

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Idyllic IRELAND . . . and Irish Ham and Cabbage


Brown's Dolmen


a B&B on the Irish Coast

Ireland is Incomparable!  Just ask . . .

Marilyn and Bill.   



            From BRITISH COOKERY:  a complete guide to culinary practice in the British Isles

4 lb picnic ham
1 bay leaf
6 peppercorns
Brown sugar
1 large cabbage  

·        Boil the ham with bay leaf and peppercorns for 1 hour 40 minutes.
·        Remove ham.  Boil cabbage in the ham stock until tender.
·        Mash cabbage thoroughly.
·        Preheat oven to 450.
·        Strip off bacon rind and coat top of ham with breadcrumbs and brown sugar.
·        Bake ham 15 minutes until crisp. 
·        Reheat cabbage in oven at same time and serve with ham.

*                                                                 *******

I had doubts about mashing cabbage, but decided to try mashing some of the cabbage.  I quartered the cabbage and cooked/simmered it for 30 minutes in the pot with a lid on it.  The smallest chunk did mash pretty well. 

Anastasia and I did a taste comparison on the mashed cabbage versus unmashed and decided that the mashed actually had more flavour!  

So I put the lid back on and cooked the cabbage another 15 minutes.  It did mash/smash up but maybe you could cook it even longer.  I’m just not sure how mashed it’s supposed to be.  But it was good.

THE HAM was SO good that Anastasia said it may even be better than her roasted ham so she's going to try boiling her next ham!  I didn’t put on any breadcrumbs; just a bit of brown sugar.   Also I did NOT strip off the rind.  The ham looked great when it came out of the oven after only 15 minutes.

I served the ham and cabbage with those fantastic Scene-Stealing Potatoes I blogged 5 years ago:

Green Donuts on St. Patrick's Day, 2017, in Rockport, Texas

                     and Green Beer in Port Aransas, Texas  


Friday, 10 March 2017

Spring Break in TEXAS . . . the Plan

 Kepler loves trips and often asks when we go on another one.

So, with a four-year-old in mind, Bryan and I planned an 8-day round trip in TEXAS that would never involve more than 3 hours of driving in a day.


 It's going to be fun . . . lots of beaches! 

Photos from Past Trips with Kepler and Nicole


Bryan and I made potato noodles/gnocchi yesterday and then added them to sautéed cabbage and onions.  Delicious!

2 cups finely chopped cabbage
8 ounces sliced onions
2 tbsp butter
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp dried dill

Sauté cabbage and onions in butter until tender.  Stir in pepper, salt, and dill.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Kepler Moments 2016-2017 . . . and Marble Birthday Cake

 As Nicole says, “He has this weird ability to make every moment the most important and special one.”  

Gage Gardens in Marathon (March, 2016)

Chilly day, but Kepler got really excited about  riding a horse in Fort Davis (March)

                                                                   El Cosmico in Marfa  (March)

                                                                Portland, Oregon  (April)

Trail of Mosses, State of  Washington (July)

Victoria, B.C. (July)

Disneyland (December)

                                                              Cruise (December)

Kepler also makes friends wherever he goes!

                                                        A stranger's birthday party: Carl's Jr in Laredo (February)

Mall del Norte in Laredo

New Children's Museum in Laredo

Kepler's 4th Birthday:


½ cup softened butter
1 ½ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup milk
4 stiff-beaten egg whites
2 one-ounce squares, unsweetened chocolate, melted
3 tbsp hot water
¼ tsp soda

*Preheat oven to 350.
*Butter and flour cake pan.   (13x9)
*Melt chocolate.  Set aside.
*Cream together butter and sugar.  Add vanilla.
* stir together flour, baking powder, and salt.
*Beat egg whites until stiff.
*Beat flour into butter alternately with milk.
*Fold in stiff egg whites.
*Combine chocolate, water, and soda.  Add to ½ the batter.
*Alternate spoonfuls of light and dark batter in the cake pan.
*Bake for 35 minutes and check.   It may take 45 minutes.

Kepler ate one wheel and gave the other one to Grandpa.