Holiday 2019

This holiday, I spent some time with my family in Duncan, Oklahoma (the small town I was born in) and Houston, Texas (where some of my family lives now).  It was a much needed time catching up and remembering where I came from.  It’s been about 4 years since I last visited Duncan for Christmas and I don’t even remember when I visited the time before that.

One of my favorite moments was when my dad showed me his workshop, where he makes rings and bells out of coins.  The pictures below show the process of him making me a ring out of a Canadian penny.  There were many styles of coins in his workshop including quarters and expensive silver coins, but I ended up choose the copper penny because it has a pretty leaf pattern.

The ring making process is as follows 1) He punches out a hole in the center of the coin. 2) Then, he forms and sizes the ring.  3) Last, he adds color with powder coating and clear sealant to prevent discoloration.  I wanted a dark green color, so we mixed some of his green powder with black powder and it came out perfect!

Fun fact, my dad’s name is Doug Bell and he’s been collecting coins and MPCs (Military Payment Certificates) for almost as many years as I am alive.  He also loves hunting deer and can renovate an entire home from top to bottom.  If you’d like more info on how to get a cool ring made just contact him via his Facebook page PRARIE RINGS.  Tell him his daughter sent you.  It will make his day.

On Christmas Day, we had lunch over in Rush Springs, Oklahoma (aka the “Watermelon Capital of the World” with a population of 1200ish) and we spent some quality time with my stepmom’s side of the family.   This is actually the first time in my life I have seen my grandma Bell (dad’s mom) and grandma Mills (stepmom’s mom) together in one place!  Also, some of my extended family members I haven’t seen in 20 years.  As I get older, moments like these are ones I cherish the most.

Below is most likely the most treasured image from my whole trip.  It’s not often families get together and pose for a formal group shot.  It’s already made facebook timeline cover images and possibly a few desktop wallpapers.  🙂

Back at the house, I made Gooey Butter Cookies with my Grandma.  I learned that she also loves collecting recipes and watching cooking videos.  This is the first time ever, that we’ve made cookies together and it came out yummy!

Later on Christmas Day, my brother’s family arrived early from Houston, Texas.  We opened presents and the next day took the kids to see the 905 Train, which my nephew LOVED.  His favorite movie is Polar Express.  My niece wasn’t a big fan of the train and rather play with her new remote-controlled truck in the park.

The most nostalgic moment for me, was when my brother and I took a trip out to the country to see one of the homes we grew up in.  It was (and still remains as) a double-wide trailer on 2.5 acres of land. Out front off the main road, there are two large pecan trees and a gravel road leading up to the side entrance.  Back in the 80s, my dad built the carport, storm cellar (to protect us from tornados), and added room additions.  I have many wonderful memories of the time I spent summers there including daily chores of collecting eggs and feeding the animals, learning to drive a riding lawnmower, and making sun tea on the front porch.  We had dogs, cats, birds, and unique pets like opossums, snakes and goats. My stepmom has always loved gardening and had a beautiful lush green yard with flowers everywhere.  We road our bikes for miles to go to a corner store for candy, ate ice cream every night, and sat outside wishing on falling stars.

Now, the neighboring properties along Terry Road have been filled in more with homes and the property I grew up on looks abandoned and unloved.  It made me sad but I am still glad I went to see it.

The second, and less documented part of my trip, was spent with my mom and stepdad in Houston.  The following images are the highlights. 1) A beautiful sunset walk in their neighborhood where I contemplated if living in Texas would be a better fit for me.  It would be nice to have family close and stress less about work.  After a really good year with work, I decided it’s too soon to leave Los Angeles, but it’s nice to know I have options. 2) A fortune from a cookie saying “With integrity and consistency, your credits are piling up.”  Yes, that’s definitely a good one.  3) New year flowers of encouragement.

In closing, I have ended 2019 with a humble heart; I am grateful for my family and have a renewed sense of hope.  I’m ready for you, 2020.

Monterey Road Trip

The Cliffs Hotel and Spa

Seals on the beach- sunning.

The place where you can have a cocktail in a river- Big Sur River Inn.

Views from the Intercontinental Hotel.  I loved french toast so much, I had it two mornings in a row.

A little walk down the shoreline to find yummy calamari.

Crystal blue waters outside of the Monterey Aquarium.

Clinton Walker House – Frank Lloyd Wright

Aubergine the restaurant at L’Auberge Carmel- tasting menu.  The fanciest and most beautiful meal I have ever eaten.

Sardine Factory

Farmer’s market snack adventure.  The grilled artichoke and BBQ ribs.