A Texas-Sized Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving, I give thanks for family, friends and my mother’s cooking!


Texas Tradition: Blue Bell Ice Cream

One of my favorite things about coming home is indulging in Blue Bell Ice Cream. Growing up in Texas, I always assumed Blue Bell was everywhere, but unfortunately it’s just a southern company. After moving away, it was quite upsetting to visit the local grocery store with no trace of the Texas based ice cream brand in sight.

Blue Bell’s latest holiday flavor, Gingerbread House, is a comfort food combination of cinnamon ice cream with gingerbread pieces, red and green sprinkles, marshmallows and vanilla frosting. The flavors evoke the Christmas holiday and is the perfect combination of gingerbread and ice cream. If you live in Texas or any of the other states where Blue Bell is sold, you’ve got to try it.

Dogs: The Key To Happiness

Novelist George Eliot once said, “Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.” After over ten years of being a pet owner, I can say that I wholeheartedly agree with Eliot.

My dog is the love of my life. Chico was a shelter dog, abused and abandoned by his previous owner. When my family adopted him 10 years ago, he had major behavioral issues and we wondered if adopting him from a shelter was the right choice. Thankfully, multiple bite marks and disciplinary measures later, Chico finally calmed down and was permitted to spend holidays in the living room rather than the backyard. Despite the hardships, Chico brought my family closer together and continues to bring happiness every day (even when I live a thousand miles away.)

If you have owned a dog, you understand how much of an impact the little animal can have on your life. Whether it’s a lick on the face in the morning or a happy greeting when you get home from work, dogs are truly man’s best friend. From my experience, here are three reasons a dog can significantly increase the quality of your life:


  1. Dogs are great companions. Whenever I walk through the front door, Chico greets me by jumping up and down, running around the room and panting with his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth. It may sound silly, but there’s something very special and uplifting about coming home to someone completely excited to see you. Also, there’s just something about having a dog present that makes you feel safe and at ease.
  2. Dogs get you physically and socially active. Both you and your dog need exercise – so why not do it together? Dogs make great running companions and their energy will help keep you going. Also, according to a study done at the University of Western Australia, pet owners “score higher in gaining trust, making connections and helping out neighbors than non-pet owners.”
  3. Dogs love unconditionally. Dogs have completely open and pure hearts. They don’t care about your outfit or the mistakes you make. As humans, we have so many lessons to learn from dogs about loving wholeheartedly and being the best people we can be.

If you find that there is a dog-shaped hole in your life, consider visiting a local shelter to volunteer or adopt. Adopting a dog is a huge life decision, so if you’re not sure whether or not to take the leap, Los Angeles Animal Services allows the public to volunteer after one simple training session. Volunteering is a great way to experience the benefits of a dog without the daily responsibility (but trust me, after one session you’ll have the urge to adopt).

Do you think having a dog or another kind of pet can increase your quality of life?

Weekend French Toast

Normally I do not prefer sweets in the morning, but sometimes you just have to make cinnamon rolls or french toast to mix things up. Last weekend, my friend and I made french toast loaded with strawberries, blueberries, jam and powdered sugar. I never keep syrup because I rarely eat pancakes and french toast, so I just worked with what I already had. The copious amounts of sugar may not be healthy, but who said you can’t enjoy a delicious breakfast every once in a while?

A Hint of Lemon

Every time I see the cover of Aimee Bender’s novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, I get this urge to make the cake pictured on the cover – lemon cake with chocolate frosting. I found a standard lemon cake recipe and another one for dark chocolate frosting. The cake very subtly tasted of lemon, so next time I will definitely add more lemon juice. The light cake is perfect with a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon. Have you ever tried lemon cake with chocolate frosting?