All the Stars in the Sky

At some point in my mid-30s, I realized I have never seen a jaw-dropping night sky. Naturally, I googled “best night sky” and up pops hundreds of images of the Milky Way and vivid black skies filled with bright, beautiful stars. “Son of a bitch,” said the jealous, insecure part of me that always feels like I’m not doing or seeing enough of life.

Have I lived my whole life under a mediocre sky filled with specks of low-rent stars? “Yes.” responded the Internet. “Duh,” chimed in Pinterest.

I thought for sure I’d see some celestial skys in Desert Hot Springs.  Nope.  I traveled the west coast in search of stars and returned to Washington, DC in the same starless state as I left.


Starless in San Diego


Nothing in Vegas


Venice doesn’t even need stars. ❤

Well, it’s time for a change.  Enter:  BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, TEXAS.   Take it away, Wikipedia!

photo from

BIG BEND   –  photo credit:

In 2012, the park was named as an international dark-sky park by the International Dark-Sky Association, which recognized the park as one of only ten places in the world certified for dark-sky stargazing. In addition, the association recognized the park as having the darkest measured skies in the lower 48 United States. On many nights, park visitors can look up to the night’s sky to see thousands of stars, bright planets, and the clear outline of the Milky Way band. Astronomers, both professional and amateur, are seen on many moonless nights gazing up at the stars through portable telescopes.


Hello, wall? The answer was here all along.  This will be my first visit to Texas.  I always thought I’d end up taking a trip Austin, but since most of my vacations revolve around guilty pleasures, this next one will find me getting in touch with nature.  

And what kind of person would I be if a rugged adventure like being outdoorsy and getting exercise went un-acknowledged? No, I am an American, and I WILL go to the spa.  I believe in supporting local businesses, and a wellness clinic of any type deserves consumerism. 

Interesting:  Here is Big Bend on the Map of Texas . (Courtesy of

Big Ben National Park borders Mexico for 118 miles and is separated by the Rio Grande. It’s not uncommon for tourists to cross over to visit the village of  Boquillas, MX.  The Rio Grand is all that stands between.  You heard that right.  Mexican cuisine is gonna be amazing.  

It’s been a long winter. The temperature has been so cold that some of the politicians around here have their hands in their own pockets.  

Im dreaming of California days like……. This perfectly overcast evening on the drive from LA to San Diego.  It was great in CA. 

 Im cold, tired and looking forward to being someplace warm. Big Bend will be all about enjoying natural beauty. I probably won’t camp, (cmon now) but I will hike, and luxuriate.

Chicken is only as good as you make it

Today, I’m sharing the best two chicken recipes on the internet.

These recipes capture the two characteristics that define “good chicken”: juicy / flavorful.

There’s enough chickens pecking around out there; when’s the last time you heard about a chicken shortage?   This fabulous bird crosses ehnic and demographic lines around the world. According to Wikepedia, the chicken population was over 19 billion in 2011.


“I’m trying to get a headcount here!”  *photo credit-J.Kennedy-Jones

A big shoutout to the wonderful folks over at Gimmie Some Oven  for their stellar chicken recipe.  GSO is the same place I found the 1-hr Cinnamon Rolls covered in my blog from last week.   Seeing as I’ve made the cinnamon rolls THREE times already, I was more than open to giving their Baked Chicken Breast recipe a try.   As I learned from this recipe, the BBRRR rule works to create juicy, tasty chicken that is also healthy.  BBRRR stands for:
Brush (with butter)
Rub (seasonings)
Rest  (tent the pan for 10 mins after baking)

A brine is a solution made of salt water, and the process of soaking foods is similar to marination.  Want juicy chicken?  Brine.   15 mins is all it takes.  And if you’re interested in learning the science behind the magic- bon appetite.

The other recipe you should know about is Homemade Chicken Tenders.

This one is less healthy, but too good not to try.   These chicken tenders were a huge hit at my house.  They remind me of the chicken crispers at Chili’s.  The batter is perfect- it doesn’t dry out the chicken but rather encapsulates the moisture. (Ick. I said it.)  Oh, and I brine here too.

These two recipes are all you’ll ever need when it comes to making chicken.  Enjoy.

Having kids: is the juice worth the squeeze?

For the longest time, I thought  the expression “the joys of parenting” was said strictly in sarcasm.  My father often uttered other common expressions such as “Sisterly Love” when my sister and I would pick on each other.  Up until recently, I thought parenting was more a hardship than a joyride, or maybe something in between but leaning closer to hardship.  In the 1980s and much of the 90s, kids had bikes to ride to keep them occupied.  None of this “Go play with your tablet!” hullabaloo.  By the time our parents came outside to round us in, they’d congregate with each other for a bit.  It seems like before Facebook,  people would publicly complain about their kids, spouses, and jobs.  The women would congregate and the men would do the same.

The following was apparent:

-Wives were mad at their husbands for not doing something they said they would.
-Wives were tired and had too much to do
-Husbands were tired of their wives complaining
-Husbands were tired too and just wanted to crack open a beer and kick back

Last week I helped a co-worker write an essay for her college class on the subject of “The Challenges of being a Parent.”   Even though I’m not a parent myself, it was easy to contribute towards the content.  Afterwards, I wondered if I would be able to write a piece on the rewards of being a parent.

My experiences with babies and kids have presented themselves in small doses.  And because non-parents don’t always hear about the good parts.  Except in the social media world, which is a bit misleading.  A touch too polished to be taken seriously. Usually, what happens is  parents talk  to me when they are tired, spread thin, or just in a bad mood.  I can’t identify with the joys of having a child– so I took to the google machine.

Personal Sidenote:  While I have not felt the  innate readiness to reproduce, I am considering motherhood, so I took the results quite to heart.  If you go down this google hole, do so with a firm understanding that 75% of what you read will not help in deciding to become a parent.  It’s a scary, opinionated world out there, and the topic of pregnancy stuff (no thank you) and children in general is intense.  What you’ll find on the Internet is a confusing mix of “it isn’t easy”, braggadocio (I GAVE BIRTH NATURALLY!), and message boards for mothers, by mothers (FMBM).  On these boards, everything and everything baby is fretted over and discussed.  Proceed with EXTREME caution.

Becoming a parent is perhaps one of those areas of interest that are better to be researched in an old fashioned way- a reputable BOOK!   How about the classic “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”- it’s a pretty big book.  Probably covers a lotttt of info… hmm.

Some of the Google pic results out there are :


Off the bat, Lifehacker’s article written by a mom covered the 10 things she wish she would’ve known before having a kid.   I don’t get it.  Doesn’t everyone research this stuff beforehand?

A few more clicks into my google journey, this article sounded interesting:   Did new parenthood bring you unhappiness instead of joy?

The first entry was totally depressing, but the other 2 parenthood “reviews” were more uplifting.

So I can’t say I am surprised that some people are less happy after they have children. Or that parents-to-be complain that everyone is quick to tell them about the bad points of having children, but no one mentions the true wonder of it.

But that’s because if we started we might never stop.

If parenting is not rewarding, my next question is:  What’s the point, then?

I wonder about the sense of fulfillment some/all parents possess that those without kids can’t even imagine.  Is that what parents generally feel?

Please leave a comment below.

Cinnamon Rolls for my Honey Bun

The internet does not hold back when it comes to food.

My husband is recovering from a shoulder injury, and the only way I can think to really help him during this time, is make him really fat cook delicious meals for him to enjoy while laid up.

Mmm.  Cinnamon rolls.  I figured Cinnamon rolls is one of those recipes where one already has the ingredients sitting around.  And so, I  googled “cinnamon rolls.”  Within the massive list of results, I realized I should be more specific.  I typed ” Cinnabon cinnamon rolls” and crossed my fingers.

If you haven’t tasted the joy of Cinnabon, you should.  I’m not a foodie, but Cinnabon is the reigning Queen of cinnamon rolls; fluffy, gooey rolls.  Mmm.

I found a recipe, tried it, and failed- the rolls turned out dense. There was some type of misunderstanding between the yeast and the other ingredients.     I waited a week and tried again.  This time, I googled “easy Cinnabon cinnamon rolls.”

I found a recipe for 1-Hour Cinnamon Rolls.  The comments section was 4 pages long, and every review raved.   While the rolls were in the oven, the house filled with the most delightful aroma.  This is gonna be good, I thought.    And?   They were a HIT!



Try this recipe if you’re a cinnamon bun connoisseur with limited time and/or lazy.  You won’t be disappointed.