Thursday, July 31, 2008

Discovery Green

Sounds like there is a great new place to spend family time in Houston-Discovery Green.

This newest park in Houston opened in April of 2008. It is located directly across from the George R. Brown Convention Center. Admission to the park every day is free. There are many activities going on daily at the park. There are yoga and pilates classes offered. There is dancing under the stars, Gymboree classes, Nature Workshops and every Thursday is Green Market. At Discovery Green you will find a lake, gardens and a misting "water tree". There is a restaurant located in the Green that serves lunch and dinner. There is a dog run, a jogging trail and even reading rooms. On the weekends you can enjoy free Bocce, putting, shuffleboard, horseshoes and chess. It sounds like there is a lot to do for families of all ages.

seafood cook off

Living on the Gulf Coast means growing up with sea food. Most of my family loves seafood. Fish, scallops and especially shrimp. Even my daughter who doesn't like to eat meat will eat shrimp! My dad makes a really delicious pepper shrimp. We all love it and gorge ourselves til nearly sick on this feast! We've even had it for Thanksgiving Dinner in place of turkey!

This past year we had a college age friend over for his birthday. I wanted to make him something special that he would enjoy. I asked him what his mom would make him if he were home on his birthday. He told me "Cajun Shrimp". So I emailed his mom and got the recipe. It is very close to my dad's pepper shrimp, but much more heart healthy.

I know that if we had a seafood cook off in our family, Dad would prefer his pepper shrimp. As for the rest of us, I'm not sure. We may just have to plan a seafood Cook off for our Thanksgiving Dinner this year!

Since we live close to the coast, we can use fresh shrimp, which makes it even tastier! If you want to try this dish, it's really pretty simple (and you can use frozen shrimp too.)

Cajun Shrimp
2 lbs large fresh shrimp (shell on)
1 C butter
1/2 C olive oil
5 minced cloves garlic or 1 1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 C fresh lemon juice
1 T salt
2 t crushed red pepper
1/4 C Worcestershire sauce (I may have left this out once...)

Place shrimp in 9x13 baking dish. Melt butter and combine with other ingredients. Pour over shrimp. Bake in preheated 375 oven for about 30 min, basting every 10 minutes. (Shrimp should be pink when done.)

**thanks goes out to GS for sharing this great recipe with me!**

Friday, July 25, 2008

make gifts

Whenever there is an occasion to give a gift, I love to make something for the recipient if at all possible. This would be a great family activity as well. Whether you want to make edible gifts like cookie mixes, cookies or breads, salsa, soup, or hot chocolate, getting the whole family together to mix, bake or assemble is a great way to spend time together as well as thinking of others.

Other great gift ideas are blankets, photo albums or scrap books, music or story tapes/cds, wood burning, or any other thing your family can think of. Spending time working together and thinking of the person for whom you are making the gift can be rewarding for everyone involved.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

making cookies

Lots of families take time to make cookies together for the holidays. Today, my family had a cookie baking day. We were making up cookies for our upcoming Vacation Bible School. We made a big batch of chocolate chip cookies. Then the kids got together to make up the snickerdoodles. It was the first time we'd done those and we got a bit too much cinnamon, so we kept those. Our last batch will be sugar cookies. It was fun all working together, playing, laughing and making some delicious cookies (even if they did have too much cinnamon!) It was really great having a couple of big kids help me out. A pleasant way to spend a summer afternoon. And of course, we had to sample all the cookies, making it that much sweeter!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Based on a comment on my last post, I thought I'd mention the game of Nertz as a great family activity. Growing up, my family used to play "Pounce" which is another name for Nertz. It is basically a game of group solitaire. Each player has a stack of thirteen they are trying to get rid of. To the left of this stack are placed four cards face up. These are played on just like solitaire. No one else can play on these stacks. As in solitaire, the Aces go into the middle. These are fair game for everyone. You build the stack up Ace through King of the same suit. The first one to deplete his/her stack of thirteen yells "Nertz" or "Pounce" to end the round. For every card left in your stack, you must have two in the middle to break even. Any above this number is how many points you earn. Check out the Nertz website if you want more information.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

skip bo

We had a great time playing Skip Bo last night. It is apparently based on an older game called "Spite and Malice". It is a good family game for kids of all ages. The younger ones may need some help, but partnered up with someone else, they can join in as well.

We have an old set, which includes face cards and not all numbered cards, and have not played in years. It was funny me trying to remember the rules. I think I must have combined the rules from two or three different games. We ended up "stuck" and nobody could play. Upon further inspection, I found the rules in the closet! It is not a hard game to play.

There are three decks of cards. Each person has a stack of cards they are trying to get rid of. Aces go in the middle with each player able to build up on them through a king. Once the king has been played, the stack is removed and another can be started. There are also up to four discard stacks allowed. It reminded me of a sort of single player "Pounce" or "Nertz" game.

If you want to get up a game for your family, you can buy a set of cards , or I think you could play by combining three decks. You can find the rules here or elsewhere on the web.

family glasses online

As summer is nearly half over, some folks are already looking ahead to the next school year. There are many things that are necessary to get a family ready for the first day of school. One important item is making sure everyone has had their eyes checked and getting the proper eyewear.

If you are like my daughter, she opted to get two pair of glasses last year. This can really add up quickly. I found a website that offers eyeglass frames from as little as $8. They offer men's women's and children's frames. You simply fill out the order form and the prescription form (help is on the site if needed) all from the comfort of your own home.

If you want to see if this option will work for your family, check out

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

As we celebrate the Fourth of July, there are many ways families love to celebrate together. We have always had a tradition of watching fireworks together and plan to do so again tonight. One year, we were so tired that we decided to stay home and watch them on TV. We enjoyed it, except for my daughter. It was important to her that we go and watch them so I have tried to keep to that tradition, no matter how tired I am!

There are many communities that offer parades and festivals, re-enactments and of course fireworks. These are great ways for families to spend Independence Day together.