I pretty much cry at the drop of a hat. Seriously.

Larry doesn't really understand this and gets all freaked out when I'm tearing up in the middle of a random TV show like "Criminal Minds." He is all, "what is the matter?" with a look on his face like "What in the world could I have done to make her upset - we are sitting on the couch watching a sociopath kill all the public librarians in a 20 mile radius for heaven's sake!" I will simply state that I was sad for the sociopath's mom or whatever touched me at that particular moment.

I wish I could control it, but I can't. (Exception - trust me - when you have HAD IT UP TO HERE with 35 teenagers in your 2nd period class and you're trying to make them understand what needs to be happening, it is not always easy to keep it together. But you have to. You never, NEVER cry in front of your students. You might excuse yourself to go out in the hall for 30 seconds while you gulp fresh air and pray that you'll make it through the next 75 minutes, but you never let them see you cry.) Anyway, I've always thought that being a crybaby somehow made me weak. Or too ultra-sensitive. Or something like that.

But I realize now that it is just a part of who I am. Sometimes I just can't hold all the emotions inside of me and so they leak out in the form of tears. This post from one of my best good friends, Amy, really made me realize this. (Go ahead, read it. I'll wait.....)



I really do tear up almost every time I hear the National Anthem.

And I do grab for kleenex during the Biggest Loser or Extreme Home Makeover or 20/20. I'm a sucker for a sad story. And that's okay.

When I see any or all of my brothers performing on stage - their eyes closed, playing their guitars, belting out a tune - I feel so proud and just can't help it - tears form.

Or when I see my sister asleep on the couch, exhausted from being a momma, open her tired eyes to smile and answer her daughter's question , I can't help but be touched.

And the notes that my parents write - about being proud of me and what not - it never fails, I'll have to wipe a tear from my eye.

Or when I'm telling somebody about what a good man MWG is and how proud he makes me and how I wish he could get the perfect job that he deserves so much.

Or the times in church when the preacher seems like he is talking directly to me, saying something that I needed to hear. I usually cough and pretend my eyes are watering because I've got allergies or something, but nope...

I'm just a crybaby.

And that's okay.


light blue

Heavens to betsy, it just sunk in......

In exactly 4 months, I will have a master's degree. (assuming this semester goes as planned!) I've been plugging along, 3 to 6 hours at a time, and I've finally reached my last 3 hours. That, the comps and a full-time job will keep me busy, I know. Say your prayers for Larry, as he feels the brunt of it. I tend to have a pretty short fuse and not very much patience when I'm under stress, so he gets yelled at for things like the commercials being too loud and doing too many loads of laundry. (I know, right?!?!)

I have to order my "commencement attire" soon - my school wears a light blue hood.

I don't *need* this degree. It will not really allow for any advancement within my position or provide a large pay raise. (In case you haven't heard, the state is having some budget cuts - so I'll just be thankful for my job for now and ask for a raise later!) But I just always had it in my mind that I was going to have a masters. I like school, I'm good at school, and it has just always been a goal for me to get this done. I put it off for a long time, but finally realized that I needed to get off my rear-end and just DO IT! So I am. And I'm almost done. The semester started today.

I think I just felt the first stirrings of excitement....


you can call me Quel

1. My favorite quote is: depends on the day. My "go-to" quote is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi - "Preach the gospel at all times... when necessary, use words." However, I also really like the one from Audrey Hepburn: "For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone."

2. A bad habit I have is putting things in piles. Even when I have the time and the energy to put something where it goes, I tend to set it somewhere "just for a minute" and let it sit there for a little while. (or weeks, ahem....)

3. The first time I felt like a "grown up" was when I knew that I just wasn't meant to be with the guy I was dating. There wasn't anything wrong - it was a perfectly good relationship - but I just knew that it wasn't a "forever" relationship. It was sad, but necessary.

4. Weekends are about to become the bane of my existence, as my last semester of grad school starts on Monday. Weekends will be when I have to accomplish most of my work.

5. When I was a child I wished my name was Holly. I also went by the nickname "Quel Banks." It was my "fashion designer" name. (My name in Spanish is Raquel, so I just shortened it.)

6. I wish there really was a magic cure for losing weight. Obviously there isn't, because Oprah would have found it by now. I also wish that my dog didn't have rotten-shrimp breath.

7. A secret I have is how much Blossom's dog food costs. I'm embarrassed to admit it.


De gustibus non est disputandum

There are certain things that I wish I liked. I mean, I really want to like them and I keep trying but it just doesn't happen. In no particular order:

Yoga - granted, I've only been to an official class twice, but I was horrible at it both times. I've actually got pretty good balance, but you wouldn't have known it as I staggered and swayed through the moves.

Sweet potatoes - the answer to your question is YES. I know how good they are for you and I want to be the type of person that eats them every day. And YES - I have tried them baked, I have tried them broiled. I have tried them sweet and I have tried them savory. I have tried them as fries, chips, mashed and at Thanksgiving. I think it must be something to do with the texture.

Foie gras - I guess I don't really care if I like Foie gras, but it is certainly difficult to be fancy if I don't. Guess I'm destined not to be fancy, because again.... the texture of this delicacy leaves much to the imagination for me.

Touchscreens - one of these days iPhones will be cheap, and at that point I will get one. But for now, YES - I really do prefer the keyboard of my blackberry. I also prefer the fact that I got the brand new one for one cent. As in one penny. (Go to Amazon wireless and you can get a .01 phone too!)
I try to type on the touch screen keypad just so I can practice, and I don't like it. I think it says in the Constitution that I don't have to like touchscreens if I don't want to. (Now the iPad I can dig. It is a little bigger so it isn't quite as frustrating. I will get one of those one of these days.)

Pleather purses - Just so you don't think I am all "holier than thou" because I don't like liver or iPhones, I will admit that I am ruined when it comes to purses. I've just reached a point in my life where I don't want to carry a purse if it isn't leather.

Going to the gym - I don't really like to exercise. I tolerate it because it is necessary. I have been going daily since our return from New Orleans due to the excessive amount of food I inhaled, but I'm always just trying to get through the workout. This also applies to running. I think I would be an excellent runner, as I don't really mind it when I actually do it. It is just the whole business of having to get up and go run that I dislike.

You - ha! Just kidding. Of course I like you. I just didn't want to end this entry by admitting that I would prefer to be a couch potato than a gym rat.


la bonne nourriture et de bon temps

I never visited New Orleans when I was younger, and I'm kind of glad I didn't. I think that back in the day, I would have spent the entire time on Bourbon Street, drinking sickly-sweet concoctions out of glasses that were ginormous. I would have stayed out all night and slept til mid-day, then headed back to Bourbon Street where mardi-gras beads and boobs are the featured attractions.

I was in NOLA for about 4 days last week and spent all of 10 minutes on Bourbon St. - and that was only because I forced Larry to take me so that I could at least see it. (I'm lying - we actually walked down Bourbon St. on our way to catch the St. Charles streetcar, but it was during the day so I don't know if it really counts.)

Anyway, what an amazing city. The buildings are beautiful. I would love to be in an Architecture course and travel there to go on a scavenger hunt. Sarah captured all sorts of other great observations on her blog, such as how friendly the people are and how much that city loves their NFL team. (Saints banners EVERYWHERE!) St. Louis cathedral is incredible, Royal St. has the best shops, the French Market is like a fun giant flea market, the houses on St. Charles are - well, I'm running out of adjectives - they are um, pretty. It is safe to say that I really enjoyed our trip there.

However, I am now feeling the repercussions. As in.... my jeans barely fit. We seriously ate our way through New Orleans. Between Larry and I, we enjoyed the following:

Thursday night: Shrimp Remoulaude and red beans and rice at The Napoleon House.
Friday morning: Beignets at Cafe du Monde followed by an omelet, burger and grits at Camilla Grill.

Friday mid-morning snack for Larry: fried chicken from the Brother's convenience store
(photo courtesy of Sarah)

Friday lunch: fried chicken and sausage and rabbit jambalaya at Coops
Friday dinner: Stella restaurant (we all wanted a "fancy" dinner, plus it was Dale's birthday.)
I had "Lobster Scented Lemon Fish with Grilled Eggplant Ratatouille, Fried Pearl Mac & Cheese, Tomato Confit and Garden Basil Pesto and Tapenade Butter,"
Larry had "Miso and Sake Glazed Japanese Mero Sea Bass with Udon, Green Tea and Soba Noodles, Canadian Lobster, Blue Crab and Shrimp Broth."
It was fancy but perfect - it started with an "amuse-bouche" of one shrimp and a shot glass that contained pureed mango with champagne and caviar. It ended with a fancy complimentary assortment of bite-sized desserts - some truffles, raspberry marshmallows, pralines, meyer lemon tartlets, etc.... Since we aren't exactly well-bred, Larry grabbed one of the chocolate peanut butter desserts as soon as it was set on the table - hence the one missing dessert in the photo:
Saturday brunch: Muffaletta at Central Grocery
Saturday dinner: ravioli, cannoli, pesto pasta, meatballs, roast beef, Italian wedding soup, caprese salad, chocolate covered strawberries and about a zillion other things at the wedding (Not to mention an open bar...)

Sunday brunch: The Palace Cafe - Shrimp Tchefuncte and crabmeat quiche (picture n/a)

Sunday dinner: 2 dozen chargrilled oysters and a roastbeef po'boy at Acme Oyster House (where we shared a table with a very nice math professor from Canada that teaches in Arkansas - he shared his pitcher of beer with Larry. I declined, as I wasn't drinking any beer other than Abita.)
Monday morning: a muffin at the airport (not pictured)

Monday lunch: boneless wings at Buffalo Wild Wings in the airport (not pictured)

It was really almost a perfect trip. When you travel with 14 people, you never know how things are going to turn out... but this was an amazing group of friends and we had a great time.

Laissez les bon temps rouler indeed....



A lovely couple got married this past weekend in New Orleans, so we went and had an amazing time. I'm sure I'll elaborate on all that later. For now, I just want to show you something....

Everybody stayed at Hotel Provincial, which is a little off Bourbon Street. (We wanted to be able to sleep at night!) Apparently, this hotel has quite a history and is very popular with ghost hunters. There are quite a few stories - ranging from bloody soldiers lying in pain and moaning, footsteps, screams, being grabbed, etc.

I had heard these stories and didn't really think much about it. Until I noticed something on the wall of my room. More specifically, the words "HELP ME!" You can only see it from one spot in the room and the light had to be shining just right. As a result, it was really hard to take a picture of. The word "HELP" didn't show up at all, but hopefully you can see the word "ME."

It wasn't paint, it wouldn't wipe off/smear and it wasn't raised at all. It was just shiny words. I'm sure there is a logical explanation for it, but that wouldn't be nearly as interesting, would it?


my 11:11

It's no secret that I have an affinity for 11:11 on the clock. I seriously see it at least once a day, often twice. Some people make a wish, I say a little prayer. (Same thing if you ask me.) If I was going to celebrate any momentous day this year, I would want it to happen on November 11. (Save the date, just in case. I call dibs.)

So, in no particular order, here is my list of 11 things I'd like to accomplish in 2011, or my "11:11" if you will.

1. Complete my masters
2. Do some sort of community ed type class once I finish my masters - I'm leaning towards upholstery but would consider Spanish, flower arranging or calligraphy (of course, if I choose to continue with a second masters this will become void)
3. Send a birthday card to every immediate family member for their birthday (my nephew Vincent's will be late, as his birthday was yesterday... sorry Vin)
4. Get the MWG a phone that allows text messages
5. Take my stupid daily vitamins
6. Learn how to work the lawnmower
7. Get rid of at least 25 pieces of clothing from my closet
8. Get rid of at least 5 pairs of shoes (purging is a process....)
9. Make the strawberry margarita jello shots
10. Put away a good chunk of money into savings every month and continue tithing
11. Use my new crockpot at least 11 times

I think I can be quite successful at the above items. And if nothing else, completing them one at a time gives me 11 automatic blog posts for days when I'm not feeling inspired to write about anything else.