Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Asheville Wedding Weekend

Last we left each other, Jay and I were headed east to Asheville, NC for a wonderful wedding weekend. My sister, Angie, and her darling fiance, Nick, were about to head for the alter in a beautiful mountain town during the most beautiful season.

But first, Jay and I met up in Columbia, SC at Angie and Nick's house to reunite our puppies with their puppies. It was a huge doggy love-fest and a great reunion for the adults too. Angie, Jay and I tied up some loose ends while Nick worked his final hours as a single man. The cars were jam packed full of everything Angie and Nick would possibly need and we all headed to Asheville.

The first night we were in Asheville, Jay and I had an enchanted evening at the Biltmore estate. We started off with a wine tasting, then a cozy dinner, and the evening was sealed with a candlelight Christmas tour of the mansion. Perfect to get us ready for the holidays.

The second evening was a night for the bachelor and the bachelorette. Everyone convened at a pizza joint downtown and then headed off to their respected corners of the Asheville bar scene. Of course the girls had more fun, as you can tell. Impromptu toilet paper veils and lap dances were just a few of the highlights. From what I hear the boys had a great time gambling and harassing their cab drivers. Thanks to my awesome mom, the girls weren't without a sober driver as well.

Friday night was the rehearsal dinner, well it was dinner and a show. The Leyendeckers threw one heck of a party. All the wedding guests who were in town were invited. Dinner was divine and yours truly helped Angie and Nick put a memorable slide show together to celebrate their relationship. But the real show was Nick performing a crowd favorite and blast from the past, "My Ding-a-ling". No fear, I'll have the video on YouTube soon. :)

However, I feel as though I can't describe the wedding day. I know that is disappointing, but I truly don't feel I will do Angie and Nick justice. They arranged an autumn wedding resembling a fairy tale complete with her sparkling princess dress pillowing like icing on a wedding cake, the gorgeous glen where they tied the knot, and the not so poisonous yet sweet caramel apple favors. Everything mirrored the colors of fall and the celebration was so quaint.

But don't think we didn't have a super duper dance party after the cake cutting, toasts, and first dance. Let's just say there wasn't a dry shirt/dress in the place. You know it means it was a good time when we all needed at least a day of recovery after the weekend.

Monday came and it was on to our next journey...Clarksville, TN.

Monday, November 2, 2009

On the Road Again

Update from the traveling twosome:

Lauren Lea will be leaving Arizona Tuesday morning heading to Seguin to coordinate the move of our household goods. From there she'll head to the Carolina's for the big marital shindig going down in Asheville.

Jay will complete his final leg of OCS training on Thursday and will head to Fort Worth and then on to meet up with LL and the bride and groom on the east coast.

Our life again is packed up amongst our two vehicles and we are driving to the beat of our own drums, no doubt playing a Journey's tune. We'll meet back up with you when we finally settle in Tennessee at Fort Campbell. Our new home is yet to be determined, so we'll also update you on those whereabouts then too.

Until then, Gig 'Em and Go Yanks!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Be Safe this Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Our safety brief this weekend: There is no need to drink and drive when you have a battle buddy who has his own breathalyzer. Enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The City, Oh I Wanna Be There...

When the lights go down in the city And the sun shines on the bay I want to be there in my city Ooh, ooh So you think you're lonely Well my friend I'm lonely too I want to get back to my city by the bay Ooh, ooh Its sad, oh there's been mornings out on the road without you, Without your charms, Ooh, my, my, my

The lights definitely never go down in this city. Vegas is all action all the time, 24/7/52/12/365 ... You get the idea. Jay and I were both late to hop on the Vegas bandwagon, but thanks to our great friends Paul and Tara, we are no longer Vegas virgins! The two 'Vegans', as they call themselves, planned an awesome see-do-eat-gamble as much as you can in 2 and half days trip for us. They opened their guest room to us and were our local tour guides all weekend.

Jay and I got on the road Thursday evening, stayed the night in Phoenix and made it to Vegas around lunch on Friday. Just before we made it to the oasis in the desert we slowed down to see the sights of the Hoover Dam. We got a preview of ourselves playing tourists as we slowly drove the winding road through the dam. Our mouths gaping open, hands flying to point out sights, and me constantly flashing the camera with very little effort to focus was a repetitive theme for the weekend.

We arrived in Las Vegas with our tummies rumbling, so our tour guide suggested a dive where only the locals eat, El Sombrero. Sounded perfect to us! We were definitely happy and satisfied as we squeezed out of the tiny restaurant. Next...TO THE STRIP!! Again with the gaping mouths and pointing fingers, oh well it's not like we were able to stop ourselves, IT'S VEGAS BABY, the Entertainment Capital of the World, Imagination Station, Sin City, the Land of Lust!

Our first night was dinner and a show. We ate in Paris at a French steakhouse, Mon Ami Gabi, on the patio at the most scenic table in the restaurant. We were front and center for the Bellagio's water show. Between the bottle of champagne we ordered, the cool desert air, the beautiful people surrounding us, and the serenading water show, we were for sure we had slipped into starring roles of a Hollywood movie. After dinner it was on to MGM Grand for the Cirque du Soleil show KA. The set blew us away. The stage was moving the entire show and the performers moved along with it. At one point were acting on a nearly vertical stage. Read: Me trying to push Jay's jaw closed.

We walked the strip and saw the lights of Las Vegas Boulevard for the remainder of the evening making it an early night due to early tee times for the boys and early massage appointments for the girls. After our pampered morning, the four of us met up for a beverage that would lead us home for a nice nap. We were going to need all the energy we had for the long night ahead of us. I'm sure you've all noticed that our trip has yet to dive into the tables, slots, or roulette wheels.

Saturday night dinner served up a spunky Italian hole in the wall restaurant off the strip called Battista's. Great Italian classics and all you can drink house wine at every table, I mean really what can go wrong here. We knew we were at the hottest place in town when a wedding party arrived for their reception and the groom and groomsmen were wearing classic bowling shirts embroidered with the names of the bride and groom. If you haven't been to Battista's, you MUST go!

We had a lot of pasta and wine to walk off so we headed down the strip again. We just couldn't get enough of the lights! It was the most incredible sight, like a shorter version of time square, but a mile longer. We saw all the major casinos and of course had beverages in about all of them. Tara and I sipped champagne like true celebrities. Like the old folks we are, we all needed coffees a couple of hours in to our saunter down the strip since we still hadn't made it to the gambling tables.

We did finally hit those infamous tables around 2 a.m. at a locale's casino closer to the house. It wasn't nearly as crowded as the strip which amped up my confidence and ability to throw down some bets. We schooled black jack, prayed at roulette, and threw hot dice at the craps table. I was very pleased at how we well were doing. The end of the night rolled around and a few bad hands finally cut us off. We had all boycotted watches for the evening, and it worked! As we walked towards the cab, to our oblivion, the sun was about to rise.

Needless to say, Sunday was our recovery day. Four couch potatoes watched football and baseball all day with only breaks for food and naps. The trip ended on a very tasty note. Paul and Tara fixed fondue for us and we had a lovely, quiet evening at their house. They were the best hosts, better than any casino could have done, and much cheaper! We hit the blacktop again the next morning bright and early, and felt we couldn't get back to our puppies fast enough. Thankfully, Jay was driving and we did make it home pretty damn fast.

Las Vegas - CHECK

We'll definitely be back to this city!

Monday, October 5, 2009


Anytime we see our puppies make an adorable face, sit or lay in a strange way, or play together; anytime they lick their nose, wag their tail, or sniff each other; and anytime they forget they are dogs and act like humans we get the urge to capture their adorableness in a photo or two or twenty.

We're not kidding ourselves here, we know they are ridiculously loved and spoiled. We swoon over them every minute of everyday. They are our little girls and we love to share their charisma, talents, and lovable hearts with anyone who walks by, calls, or in this case follows our blog.

So enjoy this short dedication to Killer and Daisy Duke. The two cutest canines who fill our hearts with joy everyday.

From Dogs

Monday, September 28, 2009

After All These Years

Jay and I checked out a local village this Saturday. They were having an annual wine festival featuring three vineyards in the area. We had high hopes for the event, however once we arrived, we think we may have over shot our expectations. However, it was entertaining, and we definitely had an experience; therefore, we felt it was a worthwhile trip.

The wine and food were sub par, but the people watching was highly entertaining. The scenery was really charming as well, seen in this beautiful chapel atop the festival courtyard.

We didn't stay at the festival very long since college football and Yankees' baseball were calling us back to the house. The unexpected heat was also pushing us back into the air conditioned car, so we headed back for a classic Warren Family Saturday night...snacks, bevies, games, sports, and puppies! Our neighbor joined us for part of the evening and taught Jay a new board game, which required crazy concentration and counting. Good thing Jay and I had only had a couple of drinks. :)

Just another weekend of reminding me of how lucky I am to have found Jay. He has made me the happiest woman in the entire world. We have the most fun together doing whatever, whenever. Which is definitely one of the best perks of our relationship, since we have to be creative with our time together. Between deployments, temporary living situations, long weekend visits, and living on only one income, we're not always given the classic fairy tale or romantic movie setting. However, Jay has given me the most loving, romantic, and fulfilling
life, better than I could have ever dreamed up. Example (one of many): Our first wedding anniversary fell on the same date as a family reunion. All a bride and groom who hadn't even spent 5 months of their married life together wanted was a little time alone. So what did my resourceful hubby conjure up for us...a sweet moment alone in the storeroom at his mom's house. We cuddled up close in lawn chairs and toasted our first year of matrimony with champagne in dixie cups. But all I saw was two of the happiest people in the world reliving every moment of joy over the last year and feeling more blessed than ever.

No matter where Jay and I are living, Augusta or Clarksville, in an apartment or our parent's house, separate or together, I know our love for each other is so strong it will forever keep us bound together and close at heart.

A faded wedding photograph
You and me in our first dance
Our eyes are closed
We're lost in one sweet embrace
Since those days the world has changed
Our love remains the same
God knows we've had our share of saving grace

And I'm proud of all the blessings
You have given me
The mountains we have climbed to get this far
You learn to take the laughter with the tears
After all these years

You make it feel brand new
After the fires that we walked thru
Against the odds we never lost our faith

In a house we've made our own
Where our children all have grown
Precious moments time can not erase

Make a livin' up and down the gypsy highway
Seasons that we've beared to share apart
Somehow in my heart I always keep you near
After all these years

After all these years
You stood by me
The days and nights that I was gone
After all these years
You sacrificed, believed in me
And you stood strong
Cause with our love there's nothing left to fear
After all these years

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

'City of the Angels'

City of the angels, city of the angels

Some of my favorite angels originated from Seguin and as I flew back to Texas for my beautiful sister's wedding showers, I grew more and more excited to be near memories of them again. It seems as I turn every corner in that town I see another memory of my grandma, pa, or my sweet baby girl. Those memories are just icing on the cake now when I venture back to south Texas.

Walkin' and talkin' and laughin' about
Dreamin' the things that you want will work out
People and places where you wanna be
I'm lost in the city, who's got the key?

City of the angels, city of the angels

Visiting family and friends is therapy for my soul and although I am
usually only in town for a long weekend, I squeeze as much of them in those three days as I can. This trip was no exception since we had family showers for Angie and Nick, as well as babies to celebrate for many of my friends and family. Seriously though, babies and bellies are blooming all over the place. The bundles of joy bring me such a nostalgia and a yearning for another Jay and Lauren Lea creation. Jay and I know it will be our turn again when God feels we are ready.

I've got this feeling that things will work out
I've got this feeling and there ain't no doubt
I'm folding arms, hoping to find
Life in the city can bring peace of mind

My very talented friend, Chelsea Lietz (Chelsea Lietz Photography), gave me something I didn't think I would ever get again. She
captured another beautiful mother-daughter moment and again I realize how blessed I am to have such a strong circle of friends, family and faith surrounding me.

City of the angels - ooh, I hear you calling me - city of the angels

City of the angels - oh, I hear you calling me
City of the angels - just like, just like it used to be, yeah
City of the angels

I left Seguin knowing that I may only be back again in the near future as a flash of break lights, but I felt rejuvenated, ready for the future and what lies ahead for me and Jay.

I'm going home (home), home (home), oh
Bye bye, bye bye, bye bye, oh bye bye, bye bye, bye bye
Yeah yeah, I'm leaving (leaving)
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh-oh, I'm goin' home, my friend, I'm leavin' leavin'...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Be Good To Yourself

Jay's mom and step dad (Betty and Howard), sister and nephew (Victoria and Nicholas and their puppy, Yoda) DROVE to visit us on Labor Day weekend. I know they had some crazy times in that car during the 17-18 hour trip.

"Runnin out of self-control
Gettin close to an overload
Up against a no win situation
Shoulder to shoulder, push and shove
Im hangin up my boxin gloves
Im ready for a long vacation"
-Be Good To Yourself, Journey

Once they arrived and had cooled down from the closeness overload, we all took on full tourist mode. We visited Tombstone, Bisbee, and Tucson. We toured Sierra Vista and Fort Huachuca. Jay and I took them to some great eateries in and around town and cooked for them a few times too. We got to hang out at the house and enjoy some college football, play some Wii, and watch the dogs run all over the place. Fun was had by all day after day. We really enjoyed the company and you know I enjoyed hosting a few dinner parties. hehe

I felt the pictures were better than my words this time. Enjoy.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Mini Vacay to the Fiery Depths of Hell, I Mean Phoenix

To Do List:
*Pack Clothes and Toiletries - Check
*Pack Dogs' Everything - Check (but not really because I forgot the leashes, woops)
*Pack Ice Chest and Snack Bag - Check
*Give Husband a High Five for his Superb Marks on Exam - Check Check
*Make the Most Fantastic Sandwiches for the Drive - Check (Jay couldn't even wait until we got on the road, only 6 inches of his 12 inch sub sandwich made it out the door)
*Drive off into the sunset - Check... nice!

The drive was not too long...just a little uneventful. There really isn't much excitement driving out in the desert, and then when you turn out the lights, there really isn't anything to watch pass by. So a couple hours later we start to get close to Phoenix. We stopped in Tempe to fashion a leash out of some rope at a Home Depot. Jay liked the Eagle Scout way better than just going to the Pet Smart across the street. I stayed in the car while he went on his scavenger hunt because we noticed as we were approaching the store that it was 105 degrees outside!!! Are you serious, the sun had been down for almost an hour! That's when we began to understand the intensity of the scorching desert where which we chose to vacation. The new plan for the rest of the weekend was to stay in doors by the blasting air conditioner unless it was absolutely necessary to go outside. haha

However, the agenda did include a grab and go breakfast the next morning with the dogs. They even got their own bagels from the restaurant. We went to the park and let them run around before the heat was turned up too high. After re-hydrating and a cool down session in the hotel, Jay and I headed out for lunch at a well known pizza joint in Gilbert (suburb of Phoenix) La Piazza Al Forno. Guy Fieri suggested it and Jay was excited about the brick oven in the restaurant. Thankfully there weren't any tables available because that allowed us to sit at the 'pizza bar'. We were front and center for all the dough tossing action and got to chat with the chef who we remembered from the Triple D episode. Very Cool! So what do you think of our selections? Can you guess who ordered what?

One pie is the Italian Stallion and one is La Piazza Verde. The pizzas were made with the freshest ingredients. No shredded mozzarella here, only fresh slices. The dough was made that morning with flour imported from Italy, and the crust was a perfect texture and most importantly, not too filling. Jay topped his order off with a cannoli, of course.

With our bellies full of the culinary worlds' natural sedative, Italian food, we were set for a nap in the freezer we called our hotel room. We hopped into our oven on wheels (very carefully avoiding burns) and saw the truck was on the verge of melting right from under us. 127 degrees, a.k.a. the Fiery Depths of Hell.

The baseball game was next on the agenda. I said a quick prayer that the Astros would actually show up since this was Jay's only MLB game this year. With neither the Yankees nor the Rangers on the roster and it being Louis Gonzalez Day at Chase Field, I found the nearest beer stand to try to smooth things over. However the odds were against me, before the game started we had to endure a tribute to Gonzo's career with the Diamondbacks, and footage of his most memorable baseball moments. This was especially harsh for Jay to watch, since the top highlight of his career was game 7 of the 2001 World Series vs. the Yankees when he hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 9th off of Mariano Rivera. So my lasting hopes rode on the Astros, never a good position to be in. We left before the 8th inning when the Astros were down by 9. Oh well, the pretzel, nachos, and beer were AWESOME! Optimism won.

Unfortunately Jay had to fly out of Phoenix unexpectedly Sunday morning to attend his sweet granny's funeral. She was very ill, and had been fighting Alzheimer's for some months now. She is now reunited with her loving husband in heaven and is no longer feeling any pain. Please keep Jay, his mother Betty, and their family in your prayers.

I thought I would end this entry with a little love song by who else...Journey.

Loved By You
Every time is like the first time tenderly
Loving you is like breathing spring
Seasons change but your heart beats constantly
Count my blessing every day as you love me
As the sunset disappears across the northern sky
You look for forever in my eyes
All I can say, long as I have a voice
I’ll thank God above that I was your first choice

If I should die before I wake
I’ll go into the night whispering your name
If lying in your arms is the last thing that I do
At least I know that I’ll be loved by you

In about a hundred years from now
When all of my love letters are found
And someone reads these words I’ve written only meant for you
They’ll know how forever came true...

Let the years roll on by
These are the best times of my life
I’ll just smile when my days are through
Knowing that I’ve been loved by you
At least I know that I’ve been loved by you

Monday, August 24, 2009

Higher Place

So you think you got it all in place now
No distractions under control
Yet there's something missing inside me
I'm chasing shadows of myself
And the clocks are ticking
Oh my world is spinning
Spinning 'round and 'round
And 'round and 'round again

And I try
I try to reason why
Don't you know I can't go on this way
Baby please don't walk away there is this place
Where I toss away my pride
So you can see that I'm the one
To take you to a higher place this time

Jay and I feel so fortunate to be in such an enlightened place in our lives, where we've climbed out of the sadness of our past and are ready to stand tall again. I think many of our friends and family were very surprised at how gracefully we were able to brace ourselves after such life altering experiences in our first few years of marriage. We are almost at the end of year 4 and it really doesn't seem as though our careers as husband and wife have been that long. That's probably because technically we haven't been husband and wife in the same house for even half that time. Hahaha, you should be laughing too because we find nothing but humor in that. We have experienced many blessings in our short tenure and wouldn't change one moment of the last few years.

We climbed many mountains to get where we are today and because of those journeys we bask in the panoramic views of life that many aren't as fortunate to see. We are very lucky to be standing tall, hand in hand facing what we feel is a peak in our life. We are together and are both very healthy, such an accomplishment in itself for us :). In turn, we were energized to take on a climb to a peak in the Sierra Vista Mountains. I am a hiking virgin, but I am married to a well traveled and experienced climber. So my handsome and rugged tour guide made sure I was outfitted for the trek and we set out for breathtaking views of the valley in which we call home for the time being.

We started out around 6 a.m. on Saturday. The previous night's showers left the air crisp and the sun hidden behind the lingering clouds as it rose; perfect climate for a hike. We hiked, as far as I was concerned, up a very steep grade to our lookout point in about 30 minutes. First of all, I was so proud that I made it, and secondly I made it without getting spooked by any rustling noises that I would swear were snakes. The lookout point was actually a pile of large rocks set out on the edge of a mountain, a picturesque perch perfect for viewing the valley. I couldn't think too hard about hugging the side of a mountain or I wouldn't have done it. I just took Jay's hand and climbed the rocks to the most beautiful sight I had ever seen in Arizona. Jay and I basked in the cool air, God's gorgeous landscape, nearly 360 degree views of the Huachuca Valley, and most enjoyably, each other's company until the sun finally split through the clouds. That is by far my most favorite part of Sierra Vista, AZ.

Our next task on our To Do List for the weekend was to head over to Tucson for a little ink job. You all probably know that we are not foreign to the idea of marking ourselves with symbols, words, or objects that mean something to us. We have been anxiously awaiting our next tattoo for sometime now especially since I've had it drawn and Jay's been carrying it around for over a year. We just wanted to make sure we chose the right artist and we were both in the same place. Saturday at Majestic Tattoo in Tucson, AZ proved to be that right time and place. We both wanted to memorialize Abigail in a very special and everlasting way. Jay and I are so pleased in how they turned out. As we were driving home, we got a sign that Abigail liked them too.

And finally, I feel as though you are all waiting for me to discuss our delicious delectables we dined on this weekend. After all your comments, I felt so guilty for making everyones' mouths water especially since you all were probably reading that entry at work where there wasn't much but snacks to dive into in your desk drawers. But don't worry I'll be back soon with another enticing entry on good eats in the Phoenix area when we visit this weekend.
I will, however, leave you with one food for thought... After hearing how vegetarian diets are better on the environment and our carbon footprint, Jay came to a decision that he was willing to try one vegetarian day a week. To my surprise, and I'm sure yours as well, my carnivorous husband was opening his mind to food in ways I had never expected. I was so pleased to hear that since I have been eating less and less meat over the past few months. So we had our first vegetarian day Sunday, and I am happy to report Jay was fully satisfied Sunday evening when we sat down to read before heading to bed. He even suggested we try adding an additional vegetarian day every couple of weeks. I was shocked! even think there might be an entire vegetarian week in our future...holey tofu Batman!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wine and Dine Weekend

This weekend edition is jam-packed with fun times and good food, so strap on your seat belt and hold on tight!

Jay and I were planning to play some golf last week, but the rain delayed it until Friday after work, which proved to be the best time to play golf. No one on the course, great weather, and half price green fees! You pay for 18 holes and fit in as many as you can before the sun sets. We were able to shoot 15 holes. As the sun set, the jack rabbits began to take over the course. Crazy stuff, apparently they are used to balls flying by them because they didn't hop away when my ball rolled by. We kept seeing signs warning us of poisonous snakes and how they are protective of their homes. That was almost too much for me. But Jay, the Eagle Scout he is, reminded me that they don't really attack unless they feel attacked themselves. I will never be okay with those creatures. We managed to avoid the water, sand, and animal traps and shot some not so consistent golf. Oh well, it was good hubby and wife time, we saw a beautiful sunset and it allowed us to plan the rest of our weekend, which we were both really excited about! Well it's more appropriate for me to say I was excited, and Jay was thrilled for what the weekend had in store...

After golf, we decided we needed to experience Mexican food in southern Arizona. We tried out La Casita in Sierra Vista and were pleasantly surprised. Jay had a dynamite margarita and I had a lovely Sangria to start, both tasty tonics. We moved on to our table passing the full crowd, so we figured so far we had chosen the right restaurant. However, we all know the salsa is the first true sign if you are in the right place. The waitress approached, placed a bowl of chips and salsa down on the table, then asked if we would like the hot salsa as well. We said, oh YES! The mild salsa was very flavorful, a little chunkier than we prefer, but very good. The hot salsa was less flavorful, a little hotter than medium and just okay. Cut to us asking for another bowl of the original salsa to put on all over our meal.

Mariachis serenaded the restaurant and it really took us both back to the Mexican market in San Antonio. We were a little nostalgic for a short while but then our food arrived and we came back to reality. I ordered my staple, a tostada with beans and guacamole and a chicken enchilada. They both were delicious. The enchilada was served with a red sauce and was far from dry. Jay ordered the carnitas plate which is basically a fajitas plate with pork instead. His was awesome!! The pork was so moist and tender not to mention had really great flavor. The tortillas were perfect, except that they only served 3 to Jay with his plate; none for me :(. Needless to say, I had to drive home because Jay hurt himself over eating, AND we still brought home leftovers. So far we like Mexican food in southern Arizona. (We'll be researching more and will bring you the results as they digest)

Saturday was predicted to be a big day, especially for Jay. All he had been talking about for the past two weeks was In and Out Burger. He learned about this west coast burger joint a long time ago, and everything anyone ever said about it was that it was life changing or the best burger joint ever. So when Jay discovered there was several locations in Tucson, it moved to the top of his To Do List. However, at the top of the 'Household To Do List' was a trip to the grocery store to fill our barren kitchen. If any of you have yet to learn this about me and Jay, grocery shopping is, in the words of one of Jay's instructors, a significant emotional experience for us. Love is not quite right, it's more of a passion for walking the aisles, feeling the fruits and veggies, and singing/dancing to the always upbeat music playing.

After an hour or two of filling our cart with our upcoming week's recipe necessities, we headed to the house to prepare for our drive to Tucson. The dogs were prepped for a long afternoon nap and we were prepped with empty tummies. We ran a couple of errands before we made it to In and Out just to make sure we were famished enough to really enjoy 'the best fast food burgers in the world'. We finally made it to the burger joint around 3 p.m. thinking it would be less crowded. I mean who wants to take on a hugely popular restaurant on a Saturday around noon in a college town. But to our surprise the restaurant parking lot was packed and the drive thru line was wrapped around the 3 P.M.! The restaurant was so crowded you had to stalk people for their table. I actually asked someone if they were about to leave before they even got up. I mean, it was everyone for themselves. We waited for about 15-20 minutes, or as Jay would refer, a lifetime.

We made sure we had rehearsed our ordering lingo since there are no menus and you've got to have the inside information to know your ordering options. They only offer a hamburger, cheese burger, or a double double (double meat, double cheese) with all the standard toppings at the register. However, they have secret ordering options for which we opted. We both got ours animal style (mustard flavored patty, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, grilled onions, and their special sauce), and of course Jay doubled up. I don't think I have really built up the anticipation he was feeling, so I felt the need to capture it in a picture. I don't think I really need to describe him, the picture sells it.

After we downed our burgers and fries, I thought I caught a lasting glimpse of hunger in Jay's eyes. I looked at him, and said, "You're not done, are you?". He smiled a huge mischievous smile. You'll see him again at the counter anxiously awaiting his second ride, this time with a chocolate shake! So in the end...In and Out Burger definitely 'Quality You Can Taste'!

Sunday was another feast-ive day, but this time we started early at the Sierra Vista Diner...I know what you are thinking...we are so gluttonous, but really we just love to try new places to eat! We do it well and have fun at the different eateries. Such a cute place screamed our attention. Our breakfasts were perfect, not too big but with good variety. They filled us up just long enough until dinner when we feasted at home on Asian surf and turf. Grilled tuna and chicken wings with a soy ginger glaze, grilled pineapple and mango, and edamame fried rice. We felt like we were at a restaurant again it was so good!
We're hoping to tempt some visitors to come see us and let us cook for them....huh huh any takers???

Monday, August 17, 2009



Such a short word with such an fulfilling promise. A word that seems so certain, predestined in fact. But for what, for whom, and for how long. The latter being the most consequential mystery of all.

The hesitancy that can come with not knowing what lies ahead can overtake our ability to really enjoy the present, a time that is blooming with possibilities. Opportunities can be overlooked if we aren't remembering the blessings that stand before us. Our gratefulness abounds when we step back and recognize what gifts we have received. Those gifts can take the shape of anything such as a moment, a setting, a relationship, or the most familiar, a person.

The most significant gift Jay and I have ever received was a beautiful baby girl named Abigail Jane. Whose life was so uncertain from the very beginning, yet predestined and no doubt fulfilling a promise. God vowed to change our lives forever and to make us stronger than we ever thought we could be. And she did just that, by making us so blessedly happy with just one squeeze of our finger. Her unyielding strength inspired us to face the unknown in life and enjoy the entire ride.

Her breath was taken away one year ago today, but her life will echo between the hearts she touched forever. Join us in remembering Abigail Jane...

Monday, August 10, 2009

I Got a Reason

Lyin' there I watch you sleep
One kiss before I leave, what you've done to me
I'm gonna tell the world... Yeah

We hope you all had a great weekend! We did, and it was quite successful! Friday night Jay had the opportunity to socialize with his classmates over drinks and appetizers. Spouses were not included on the guest list due to limited budget, so I offered to be his designated driver and dropped him off at the Blues Cafe (side note - I've been wanting to try the Blues Cafe since we arrived in AZ of course they choose it as the site of their social). It felt as though I was taking a teenager to a friend's house on a friday night. As he closed the door, I yelled in a motherly tone, "Call me in a couple of hours, and I'll come pick you up". So silly.

Saturday we thoroughly enjoyed the Yankees/Red Sox game and later were invited over to our neighbors' house to watch the UFC fight. Our other neighbor was there as well, and we had a great time laughing, getting to know each other and watching several men kick the living crap out of each other. However, I still don't get the thrill of it. I mean, come on, it's no WWF circa 1990 when Randy Savage takes on the Undertaker. It looked too real.

Sunday was probably the most successful day since the Yankees ended up sweeping the Red Sox in an exciting rivalry series. Jay was screaming like he had just won the lottery, but in a way he really kind of did. The Yankees are up 6.5 games over the Red Sox in the AL East AND the Rangers are now tied with the Red Sox for the wild card position. Sadly I have no really exciting news to report of the Astros, but maybe someday I will. Until then, I can relish in my adorably ecstatic hubby's excitement.

Also on Sunday morning, we took the dogs for a walk down by this park we found. It was a beautiful morning, as most are in Sierra Vista around this time of the year. Nice and breezy and not too hot. After a few laps we thought the dogs might like to a try a different activity. Killer kept pulling us to the shady spots as we were walking so we decided to let them play in one of the few shady spots, aka the jungle gym. You know the ones with the slides, tubes you crawl through, the different ladders and steps. They LOVED it! Killer was a little weary at first, but her first swoosh down the slide settled her in. She slipped and slid on her backside for a short bit, but landed squarely on all fours. Daisy was a pro and all about the climbing and sliding. Killer's favorite part was the fact that it was in the shade. We felt like kids again and can't wait to ride down the slides with our own kids soon.

Another great weekend with the one and only person I was meant to be with. We have such fun together and we are so thankful for our time together. I love the fact that we can make the best out of any situation we are thrown into. Life is funny sometimes, and I think the best thing we can do is laugh along with it instead of trying not to smile. Wouldn't you agree! So don't forget to smile at life today, and everyday that follows. :)

I got a reason to feel alive
You put the smile on my face
There'll be no more lonely nights in this town
Oh no... no... 'cause I got a reason

Friday, August 7, 2009

Happy Weekend!

As I take a break from drawing, I feel like giving a shout out to all our family and friends in hopes that you all have a wonderfully awesome spaztastic weekend! You deserve it!

I want to remind you all that Jay and I love you all so incredibly much. You have stuck with us through all of our swerves, flat tires, speeding tickets, and construction zones of life. We know it couldn't have been easy for you to stay so supportive and always think of just the right thing to say. You all rose to every occasion and provided the utmost unconditional support we could ever need. Each one of you is a guardrail bouncing us back on the road and keeping our eyes on the prize. There is no way we would have made it back on track without you. Please know we thank God everyday for you and your loyalty to us. We are so incredibly blessed to have each one of you riding shotgun with us down our boulevard of dreams.

Okay so I know those were some silly repetitive cliches, but I thought I should stick with the traveling theme and reflect our blog's title. I just hope I perked a smile or two. :)

Happy Friday everyone! We love you!!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Turn Down the World Tonight

Caught up in living
Getting through each day
When all the tomorrows become faded yesterdays
Are you slipping away?

Lighted by our schedules
Rushing here and there
Become strangers to each other
Miss you everywhere
How did we get this way?

Spontaneity, is who I am referring to as I recall Journey's lyrics. As many of you may have noticed I enjoy schedules, thrive on planning, and relish in research. The excitement of creating such a perfectly planned day gets me all worked up.

Man that is sad, just as I reread that, I felt sorry for my pitiful self and for Jay. But to his credit, he does battle my anal methodical mind by hyping up his dear friend, Spontaneity. He presents it as such an attractive raw alternative to a safe sure thing. He claims it's more exciting, it gives such a thrill, it really knows how to curl your toes, and it creates memorable experiences like you could never know amidst a planned day. And when I rebuttal with my 'what if's and 'but's, he swats them away with a well known mantra he encourages me to chant along with him daily..."Screw It". Supposedly this minimalist two word phrase can solve all my anxiety towards a hap hazard way of life. Two measly words will make up for all the options A, B and C's; the rainy day plans; and the reviews from experienced patrons. Ummm you've got to hear the scepticism in my words, right!

Well I subtly ventured in to the relaxed way of life this weekend, and in more than one way, I might add. Friday night, Jay and I talked about having a date night. We tossed around some options but never narrowed anything down, so come Friday afternoon as you would guess I would typically be researching reviews of restaurants and menus, but no, I decided to just wait it out and see what happened. Jay called on his way home and asked if he could pick anything up for a toast to the weekend, and what did I say..."Surprise Me". Yeah that's right, I didn't even think three times about it, I just thought once, twice, and then said it with a very "screw it" tone. However, when he arrived with my favorite beer, I felt awful when it just wasn't what was tempting my taste buds that evening. How great a husband was he, when he went across the street and got me a mini bottle of wine. Okay, so give me time...I'm getting to the really crazy stuff.

We ended up at a new sushi restaurant and martini bar. An exciting choice since it was so new there weren't any reviews or menus online. We went in blind and after a long extended evening there, decided it had decent sushi with better drink options than service. A decent date with Spontaneity.

The next day we planned (haha sometimes I rub off on him) on celebrating the dogs birthdays since there were no formal parties this summer for either of them. Daisy's big one was in June, literally she turned 1 and she's huge, and Killer turned 3 in July. So as we were talking about what their birthday weekend was going to entail, I casually mentioned that there was a wine festival at a nearby vineyard. We decided on the fly that we would check it out and postpone the dogs' day to Sunday. We grabbed our gear, being each other and our 'screw it' attitudes, and headed west into the thunder mountains, to which I believe they are referred.

Sonoita Vineyards was a lot of fun. Wonderful panoramic views and great weather set the scene for wine tastings, vineyard tours, wine pairings, live music, and grape stomping. We thought the spontaneous afternoon was a hit, very romantic and a tasty treat. Later that night we headed back to the house to grill some turkey burgers and watch some Triple D. (if you don't know what that is, you are missing out big time!)

Sunday was puppy day, and we started off at the doggy park we found in town. It was expansive and deserted, perfect! The dogs loved it, they could run for days, but really it was barely an hour before they were both tuckered out. The sun was beginning to make it unbearable for our little Killer. We got them two new frisbees and were headed back to the house for a big succulent bone. As the dogs slept off the morning, Jay and I headed off to take in a movie on the fly. The first showing of the day=great matinee price! We slapped our legs and laughed our heads off at "The Ugly Truth", mimicking my sister's reaction.

What happened next was sooo unlike me and I loved it! Jay suggested we jump in the car and drive north to Tucson for the evening. I shockingly retorted, "But, it's Sunday!". Obviously a day when I never saw, thought about, or even flirted with Spontaneity. But Jay had that 'screw it' sparkle in his eye, combined with a killer smile and I couldn't say no. We had no idea where we were going once we got there, just thought we'd find some shops to look at and then maybe have dinner.

To my surprise it worked out really well, the shops were open on Sunday afternoon which is always a gamble. We found an Olive Garden right near by and I just happened to have a gift card from my parents in my purse. Um yeah that's what I'm talking about, when everything just seems to fall into place! That's what curls my toes! So me and Spontaneity rubbed elbows a little bit this weekend and I must confess, I kind of enjoyed it. I'm glad we could reunite and combine forces to create a fun filled, non-chaotic, and romantic weekend. It may have even helped me and Jay enjoy each other even more. So lesson learned, less time planning can sometimes lead to surprising more fulfilling experiences.

Help me turn down the world tonight
Take a quiet moment, somewhere we can unwind
Losing touch, we forget to take time
To share what's in our hearts
Speak what's on our minds

So much information streaming at us fast
What I really need to know is if
We can make it last
I wanna keep you close

Friday, July 31, 2009

Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'

"Lovin', touchin', squeezin' each other

You're tearin' me apart
Every every day
You're tearin' me apart
Oh what can I say
You're tearin' me apart"

Were the lyrics that popped in my head as I walked the booths of the local farmer's market. All the onions, oranges, tomatoes, peppers, and peaches were so tempting as I squeezed, smelled, and sampled the goods. Beyond the produce, the farmer's market offered several booths of fresh baked goods, soaps, honeys, nuts-mainly pistachios, dried fruits, and grain fed meats. I was thoroughly impressed with the abundant selection and all the wonderful colors bursting from the bins.

I couldn't pass up a wonderful trail mix including dried peaches and strawberries or some Kentucky bourbon roasted pecans in support of our future region. I also picked up some rustic sweet potato cornbread, a plump purple eggplant, and for Jay (that's right I didn't forget about him in my harvest haze) a smoked jerky that was so potent I was afraid all my other goods were going absorb the smokey flavor. I held off on the produce because I foolishly forgot to prepare menus for the following week and wasn't sure what we would need. I will definitely remember that next week.

And speaking of next week, I already have my eye on several groceries that will be making it into my green HEB bags. They include: agave nectar (which my friend Joanna has pointed out is a delicious sweetener for just about anything, a must try!), any fruit or vegetable, fresh honey mustard, and of course pistachios (I've got to get these, apparently they are the local nut here--hmm, a title Jay might be vying for soon) hehe. But the most important fair we must try are the tamales. I haven't mentioned them yet because they sounded so delicious, I figured I should save the best for last. There were a couple of venders selling tamales and I couldn't help but stalk them to see if they were possibly giving out samples...unfortunately no luck, I didn't notice any offerings. The descriptions of the varieties were mouth watering. Just take a look for on the menu picture...and tell me those don't sound tamale-rific!
So sad the market is only open once a week.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Household Duties

Taking a break from the lyrics, lets talk home economics. In our efforts to make this temporary duty furnished apartment more like our home, Jay and I purchased some homely effects. We are now growing herbs including basil, oregano, rosemary, and parsley. We also hung some curtains to fight the sun beaming in the house in the afternoon hours. They are helping tremendously with the temperature in the house as well as creating a more convincing movie theater atmosphere.

We grilled again on our second night with tasty results. The fish tacos were delicious and their southwestern flair was reflective of our new territory. We topped them with a refreshing citrus jalapeno coleslaw and made a black bean-corn salsa to accompany them. As you may be guessing, Jay and I love to cook together. He has become very experimental and open to new foods and combinations. Cut to us sharing apples and fresh almond butter yesterday. I'm so proud of him.

We toured base so that I could locate the Gym, Library (where you can rent movies), Commissary (grocery store), PX (everything store like Target or Wal-Mart), hospital, and where Jay will be training most days. It is a very small base set at the base of a huge mountain range. It's a very awing site since I come from Texas where the highest peak is in the hill country.

Lastly, yesterday was laundry day and Jay and I ventured out into the big city of Sierra Vista to the Snow White Launderette. It was obviously not the popular time for laundering since we had our choice of 30 or so machines. A few pages of our books flipped by along with an episode of the new and improved (uh not so much) Price is Right on their TV. Before we knew it we were so fresh and so clean. We had a folding party, one of my favorite kinds, and then headed back to the house/movie theater. Here are some photos from our launder-venture
Sierra Vista

Sherlock Holmes and homemade popcorn made for a great afternoon ending Jay's mini vacation before training starts Wednesday. I'll try to keep up the regular updates even if they are lacking the thrills of excitement and catchy lyrics you are used to reading. hehe


"Highway run into the midnight sun
Wheels go round and round
You're on my mind..."

Oh yes Texas you are on our minds and forever in our hearts. But we have to leave you behind right now. Our family has some ground to cover, but don't worry, we'll be back someday.

Take a look at the journey from Texas to Arizona through the lens of our camera.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Don't Stop Believin'

"Just a small town girl...Living in a lonely world"


That's right everyone we're back! together that is. Jay and I have joined forces to take on the world once again. It has been a long time since we spoke over this communal world wide web. When we last left off, we were saying goodbye to our angel, Abigail Jane. Well so much has happened since then, if you can believe it. Yes I know we have set the bar extremely high for life altering experiences in the first few precious years of marriage, however, don't underestimate us. Since last August, almost a year ago, Jay and I have acquired a new member of the family, Daisy Duke, a beautiful yellow lab.

The adoption story is quite entertaining, involving an ever anxious Jay enthralled in his first experience bidding at a live auction. He was quite successful, which is most often the result when Jay is determined. Consequently, we (Killer hesitantly included) are enjoying her tremendously.

Also since our last visit, Jay began Officer Candidate School (OCS) January 8th while I stayed in Seguin with my ever hospitable parents. He began his training at Fort Benning, GA. Of course in army fashion, Jay's start was delayed two months and he completed what was supposed to be a three month course in May.
May 14th, 2009 Jay Warren was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. YEA!! You would think at this point we could reunite and start a new chapter. But oh wait, he's not done, no he has two more training courses to complete before he can be assigned to his next duty station. He then moved to Lawton, OK to complete a very futile course lasting 6 weeks. We could both taste our reunion. It was so close, just a few weeks away. We could do this, hell, we'd done 7 months when he was in Afghanistan, and we didn't even get to see each other then. But the time did seem to drag especially since Jay's training was not a sufficient distraction for him.

Jay and I had decided that the family would rejoin in Arizona for the last leg of training. We were willing to fight the heat and claustrophobia to be together again. Killer, Daisy and I prepared for our adventure with our soldier in a furnished TDY (Temporary Duty) apartment expanding only 625 square feet at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, AZ.

The bags were packed and the truck was packed, I mean PACKED, and we had one thing on our minds...Luling barbeque. Gosh it was going to be so hard to drive past it without stopping! Yeah Jay was on our mind too, but come on, you guys know how hard it is to resist those ribs!

So here we go, the Journey begins...

"Oh the movie never ends...It goes on and on and on and on"