Archive - December 2015

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» Fighting the Flu
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» REVIEW: 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport (Houston, TX)
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Chosen.
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Our Birthday Month (also Nutcracker & Dave Barnes Christmas review)
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DIY: Bathroom Vanity Update

» Fighting the Flu

Last year our whole family went down hard with the flu days before we were destined for Disney. Since it’s flu season, I thought I’d share some tips on how you might recover from Influenza A. For the record, we had a complete recovery in only 2 days.

1. At first sign of illness I started everyone on Boiron Oscillococcinum. This is a homeopathic treatment, but also prevention. I picked up a family pack (30 quantity) at Walgreens and we all downed a little vial every 6 hours. They are WAY cheaper on Amazon so I suggest keeping some on hand and not going broke at Walgreens or Target. I used to keep this in the medicine cabinet but it’s been almost 6 years since any of us have had the flu so I stopped stocking it. This actually makes you feel better, it’s amazing stuff.

2. We were already taking Elderberry syrup and Fermented Cod Liver oil daily so we continued to do this. I credit a large portion of our recovery to having these things in our system already. We weren’t able to prevent the flu completely but we definitely didn’t get a super bad case! I make my own elderberry but you can grab a bottle from my friend Lori’s site on Etsy, she’s a pro. Also, if you are wondering what the heck Fermented Cod Liver Oil is and why you should take it, check out the info here.

3. We continued to eat a balanced diet, lots of dark greens, oranges and broths. Lots of hot tea, lots of water.  And lots of rest. Well, rest for everyone but me. But you know how that goes.

4. At the recommendation of my friend Michelle, who is a certified health coach, we added 50,000 IUs of Vitamin D3 for adults and 25,000 IUs for the kids. This can be used as a preventative as well, but in a lower dose- 10,000 IUs/5,000 IUs. This is obviously a HIGH amount, you would need to discontinue once you are well.

5. I mentioned hot tea earlier. We specifically love the line of teas from NUMI Organic Tea. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants and they have such an extensive selection. From Jasmine Green, to Gunpowder Green, and my personal favorite Toasted Rice Green, there is so much to choose from. It’s always fun to grab a variety pack and try new teas to expand our palate.

Starting the morning with green. #numi #numiorganictea #antioxidants #greentea @numiorganictea

A photo posted by Erica Ho (@goodbye_normal) on

And that’s about it! To be real for a moment, it’s a LOT of work to keep up with all of this for 6 people. When you are using homeopathic meds and syrups you have to give them every 2, 4 or 6 hours depending on the dosage. You will constantly be rubbing something on someone or putting them in an Epsom salt bath. You’ll be boiling water for teas and heating soups. But you’ll also be taking charge of your health and caring for your family with your own two hands. Sickness can be a time to serve. We are evidence that supporting, rather than suppressing, the body’s function can many times lead to a much faster recovery.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Numi for providing us with tea to sample and review. As always, the opinions are my own.

» REVIEW: 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport (Houston, TX)

Special thanks to Mitsubishi Cars for allowing us to test drive the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. As always, these opinions are my own.

(this post is from Calvin who visited Houston last week)

These days, I try to plan a trip to Houston two to three times a year. It’s hard to believe but it’s now been 10 years since I’ve lived in Houston, the place where I was born and raised. Right before the trip, Erica informed me that we were asked to put the 2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport (GT 2.4) through the paces for a week in Houston. I was excited but I’ll admit that I didn’t have high hopes for the vehicle. You see one of my first high school cars was a gold Mitsubishi Galant sedan, which wasn’t exactly cool at the time.

So I jumped on a plane with Liam, landed in Houston, got our luggage, and there was the Outlander Sport waiting for us. Forget all the reservations I had earlier—the look of the vehicle, Rockford Fosgate audio system, full-length moon roof, and AWC (All-wheel control) won me over quickly.

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So I’ll give you more details about the car but first order of business, food. If you ask a Houston native what there is to do in Houston,their first response will be… grab something to eat! Well with any trip, I absolutely have to get Chinese and Vietnamese comfort food in Chinatown. But I always try to visit a few places I’ve never been, remember, it’s been ten years since I’ve lived here. The good folks at F.E.E.D. TX allowed me to check out their newest restaurant, Lee’s Fried Chicken and Donuts, along with their established confectionery spot Petite Sweets.

1. Lee’s Fried Chicken and Donuts
601 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007

All photos: Justin Wong, Goodbye Normal

Why did I want to go to this place? The name says it all! The modern look and atmosphere of this chicken joint is great. Unless you live in the Heights, you would never known it was a former Church’s Chicken. The chicken portions are huge at this place! In addition, I found out that Lee’s uses all-natural, antibiotic/hormone-free, vegetarian-fed chicken. The taste is amazing and I wasn’t surprised when the F.E.E.D. staff informed me that the chicken goes through a three-day prep and cooking process. You can get traditional fried chicken at lunch or pick up some tenders as early as 10 A.M. Last week was also the first week their drive-thru was operating.

We were left with a ton of leftovers and at first I was hesitant to share it with my friends. Not because I didn’t want to share but because I didn’t want their first experience to lack the “fresh out of the kitchen” quality. Well I ultimately decided to share and everyone absolutely loved it! My one request of the restaurant is to have a sweet and savory combo that includes chicken and donuts, like the name.

My Favorites:

Traditional Fried Chicken: Lee’s has tenders and sandwiches but if given the choice, I’m a traditional chicken kinda guy. The tenders were just as amazing (and big!). Make sure to get a side of creamed corn and sour cream mashed potatoes with gravy!

Sauces: Don’t mistake this for Chick-fil-a sauce. All of these are made in-house and really bring the chicken to the next level. My favorites were the spicy mayo and bacon jam.

Donuts: Ummm yes. OK if I had to choose just one, I’d have to say blueberry cake with blueberry icing.

 

All photos: Justin Wong, Goodbye Normal

2. Petite Sweets
2700 W. Alabama, Houston, TX 77098

I felt guilty stepping into this place without Erica because she is a macaroon fanatic. The staff and environment was just as welcoming as Lee’s. The pictures speak for themselves. The taste of these macaroons and other lovely sweets are just as good as my friend Justin’s pictures. And if you’re wondering, no, he’s not a professional photographer. For my friends and family in Houston, I learned that Petite Sweets is really known for their custom orders. I know some of you out there are already planning the next party as you’re reading this, give Petite Sweets a call!

2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport (GT 2.4)

I’ve realized that over time, I’ve lost the aggression and shameless, sporadic lane changing it takes to drive in the big city. So after driving in town for a week, I thought I’d share a few thoughts that crossed my mind when driving:

  • There are so many lanes! But wait, there are so many more cars, too.
  • Remember that defensive driving class? Don’t let your guard down in the parking lot.
  • The speed limit is 70. Why is this guy going 40 and everyone around us is going 85? (this happened multiple times)

So after a full week bobbing and weaving through Houston traffic, here are my conclusions about this machine.

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Photo: Justin Wong, Goodbye Normal

Performance

Besides the constant braking and accelerating needed to overcome the Houston streets, The Outlander Sport’s handling and response was very good. In fact, I try not to drive like a maniac with kids in the back seat because, you know, car sickness. For the record, Liam never once said his stomach hurt. So kids, this whole time it’s been the car, not me. Lastly, the fuel efficiency (reported 25 city, 32 highway) I would say is accurate even with all the starting and stopping I had to do.

The Look

The pictures speak for themselves. This is a great looking car! I was not embarrassed at all driving this thing around town. I even got compliments from all the friends and family I was able to see. Also remember that we’re talking about the Sport here but I still do like the other models. Mitsubishi has come a long way in the looks department.

The Feel

There is a lot of leg room in the front. The compromise is that the back seats don’t have a lot of leg room. The leather seats were very comfortable and the A/C is great. According to my dad, Mitsubishi makes one of the best A/C systems for cars (I believe that most, if not all, Mercedes Benz vehicles use Mitsubishi’s system). The touch-screen dash is close so you’re not extending too far to operate the GPS system or change the audio settings.

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Conclusion

We will always have at least one van in our family but when we’re due to replace the Saturn Vue we currently have, I definitely won’t rule out the Outlander Sport. Here are some of my favorite features:

  • 168-hp, 2.4-liter MIVEC engine
  • Super-wide High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights with fog lights and LED running lights
  • 7-inch touchscreen audio display with Digital HD Radio® and rearview camera
  • FAST-key passive entry system with panic feature and One-touch Start/Stop engine switch
  • Leather seats with heated driver & front passenger seats
  • Automatic air conditioning climate control
  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers

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Also, thanks to F.E.E.D. TX Restaurant Group for allowing us to review your restaurants. As always, these opinions are my own.

 

Chosen.

In less than two weeks I will board a plane with my son and 18 students from Clemson Univeristy. It’s quite emotional to have so many worlds colliding at once. My love for Uganda, my son’s first international mission trip and my alma-mater. My heart is just falling to pieces as I imagine Elliott’s worldview exploding in front of him. As we’ve talked and prepared for the trip he has shared that his main goals are to play soccer with the kids, buy mosquito nets for malaria prevention and learn more about Uganda. He also has some plans to buy a spear… but we’ll see about that one.

Many have asked if I have any fears about bringing an 8 year old on a trip like this. And honestly my answer is… I’m afraid not to. As parents we all wish to instill certain values in our children. And one of the virtues I wish to see in my children is compassion. A compassion that reaches beyond the borders of home and country. A compassion that is fueled by love and faith. A compassion that leads them to diverse friendships, activism and action. I feel that I’ve done what I can to expose them to the diverse needs within our community and country and this is the next step for a child who has watched me go and come back countless times.

He is ready to face the needs himself this time. He is ready to see with eyes wide open, the struggles and joys of the world. I wait, with great anticipation, to process with him and listen to his questions. And I wait to see how he embraces the people and kids that I love without the pre-conceived ideas adulthood carries.

The wait is almost over. And with great thanks I think of all of you who have allowed Elliott to take this journey with me. You have scheduled family photos, paid Elliott to pick up sticks, purchased a pallet Christmas tree and given funding. You are at the forefront of our minds as we prepare to go. My friend Kim texted me this week, she works in the Children’s ministry at our church. She shared that a question was posed “Has there been a time when God chose you to do something?” Elliott excitedly raised his hand and shared “I was chosen to go to Uganda.”

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So friends and family, let your faith take you somewhere for a moment. Your investment in a young life has sparked something. A genuine desire to go where God calls and love who God loves.  I can only imagine where an early step in that direction will take him as he grows older. So thank you again for being a part of being chosen.

Our Birthday Month (also Nutcracker & Dave Barnes Christmas review)

December is always a busy month for families. Add two birthdays (Calvin and mine are five days apart) to the mix and it gets really fun. Over the years, we’ve started to gift and enjoy experiences with each other rather than adding to our things. So we arranged a few strong babysitters for our strong-willed kids and it began. Last Wednesday we enjoyed our Small Group Leader Christmas party at church. Then on Friday night, Calvin and I had sushi and attended the Dave Barnes Christmas concert. The following day, we enjoyed a family day in Nashville with a trip to Cumberland Transit to pick up some supplies for Uganda, lunch at Noodles and Company (free bowl during your birthday month!), and the opening show of the Nutcracker Ballet. After the show, we rushed home to feed the kids and pass the baton to our babysitter so that we could have “Christmas dinner” with our beloved small group.

Christmas season is definitely busy but it does allow us to spend some pretty special moments with friends and family.

Many of you have asked about A Very Merry Christmas with Dave Barnes and the Nutcracker so I’ve included my recaps below. There’s still time to get tickets for both:

1. NASHVILLE’S NUTCRACKER

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Call us crazy, but we brought the whole family to The Nutcracker! (I did not include pictures of the actual show as photography is not allowed.) Charlotte has taken ballet and was of course totally in awe. What surprised me the most was my swaying, enchanted 4 year old. He was spellbound the entire time. Elliott, our oldest son, enjoyed the magician in the first half of the ballet. We truly felt there was something special for everyone. There were actually a lot of kids there for those of you hesitant to take yours!

As a nice addition the Nutcracker folks offer dance instruction before the matinee show at 1:15. Charlotte was really looking forward to this but I’m sad to report that we didn’t make it in time. I suggest arriving at 1:00 otherwise the doors will close and you’ll miss the fun! Below is the remaining 2015 schedule:

Saturday, December 12 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sunday, December 13 at 2 p.m.
Friday, December 18 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, December 19 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Sunday, December 20 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Monday, December 21 at 2 p.m.
Tuesday, December 22 at 2 p.m.
Wednesday, December 23 at 2 p.m.

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2. A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS WITH DAVE BARNES

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We adore Christmas concerts! We typically choose one a year so this year Dave Barnes was up. In years past we’ve attended Matt Wertz’s Christmas and Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of Glory performance. This was also our first visit to the Schermerhorn, one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever been in. Dave did a mix of songs from his two Christmas albums and his many other albums, combined with some very special guests doing their own songs. The most well-known guest was Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum. The songs were flawless and the great talent on stage undeniable. The atmosphere was a perfect way to start the Christmas season. The most surprising (or maybe not surprising) element was Dave’s personality in between songs. His stories and song explanations give you an appreciation for his art but his jokes and antics have you belly laughing. This is why we love a live show… you just can’t capture the humor and passion in a recorded album. He also announced that he will be playing the Ryman next year which I would love to see!

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Disclaimer: The folks at the Nashville Symphony and Nashville Ballet kindly allowed us a admission for this preview. As always, the opinions are my own.

DIY: Bathroom Vanity Update

A little goes a long way. When we moved into this home three years ago, the bathrooms were newly renovated but lacked the personal touch and character that I desired. The bathroom “character” project has been very patient with me. I purchased gorgeous marble back splash tile almost a year ago ($3 per sheet clearance at Home Depot!) I had just completed our kitchen back splash and was in the DIY mood. The week we had planned to take care of this three-hour project, one thing led to another and we ended up with our kitchen being a total hazard zone. I tend to just pull the trigger on things. This Wall removal craziness was one of those things. Sure! Let’s go for it.

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But that’s another blog post for a later time…

Back to the bathroom. Unlike our downstairs master bathroom, we have two restrooms that were remodeled at some time before we moved in. This made it hard since we couldn’t just tear the whole thing apart and start fresh. I couldn’t justify or afford something like that. The cabinets were new and good quality but the finish wasn’t holding up at all.

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So we decided to enhance what we already had. When a project needs freshening up, paint is always in the equation. I chose a steel gray color for the vanity and these Franklin knobs from National Hardware in pewter. This paint is practically bullet proof. I dare the kids to try and mess it up.

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The pictures don’t do it justice at all! Now that the vanity is done, I can’t wait to add the back splash. I’m so happy with the color and how it pulls the gray tones out of the existing tile. The back splash and second bathroom reveal will go down over Christmas break. Moral of the story in home renovations… a little goes a long way.

Disclaimer: The folks at National Hardware kindly provided the cabinet hardware for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

 

All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal