jet-setting and jalapeño cheese balls

Spring was our season of travel.

Which is why you haven’t heard from either one of us on the blog recently. We’ve been jet-setting for what feels like a month solid, and unfortunately none of our trips were together.

The first foray was my two-week work trip to Mexico. This was the longest I had ever been away from Lilia, and my uncontrollable pre-departure tears pretty much summed up how I felt about it.

The trip itself was incredible but challenging.

I was fighting a cold half the time; the jungle was overbearingly humid; the long drives were arduous; and after awhile all I wanted was a salad. [Three three-course meals per day is enough to make anyone exhausted.]

But when I look back on it all, it’s the epic experiences that stay with me.

Gliding through the misty waters of Xochimilco. Climbing the impressive Palenque archaeological site after-hours. Strolling through colorful San Cristobal de las Casas. Viewing the vivid murals of Bonampak. Indiana-Jones’ing my way to Yaxchilan. Indulging in my private casita [with plunge pool!] in the Yucatan. Regarding the kingdom of Uxmal from the highest structure. Seeing a coati for the first time. Salsa dancing with locals in Merida. Swimming in a private cenote [and tasting iguana for the first time]. Trekking and wading through the many caves of Rio Secreto. Waking up to the sound of the ocean. Eating one of the most generous meals of my life at BeefBar near Tulum.

Just, WOW. I feel like a badass just writing it all down.

Needless to say, I love my job.

Almost as soon as I returned from Mexico, it was time for me to turn right back around for a long Memorial Day weekend in Rehoboth, Delaware with my grad school gals. Between my extensive Mexico trip and my 36-hour layover home, I didn’t have a chance to get properly excited for this annual gathering, even though it had been on the calendar longer than any other commitment.

But it didn’t matter. The total relaxation of the impending weekend washed over me almost as soon as I saw each of their beautiful faces.

It had been two years since our last reunion [as a couple of us were drowning in newborns last year], but we fell into our familiar rhythm with ease.

The beauty of our friendship is its effortlessness. That’s because all of us are “get it done” types. [We went into arts management, after all.] Nothing falls through the cracks. Lists are made and completed. Options are presented and executed into well-informed plans. Nothing is rushed. And food and games are prioritized.

Do you know how rare it is to find friends like that?

I said this before, but I’ll say it again: These are the kind of friends who never require a television or a prompt. They never judge you or doubt your abilities. They lift you up and make you laugh. And they can engage in every conversation under the sun from telekinetic art and donor ethics to the Marvel universe and DJ Khalid.

I had been traveling for almost three weeks straight at this point, but I think I could have stayed in that little beach town condo forever if it meant one more day of Celebrity, Dogfish Head beer, and inside jokes with them.

By the time I came home, I was rested and ready to return to our home routine. To my great fortune, my dad arrived in Denver the same day I did. His presence made the transition home just that much easier. He fed us every meal, mowed our lawn, killed our weeds, walked Watson, and took Lilia to the park every day.

At this point, the month of May had utterly spoiled me. My dad made sure of that.

Less than two weeks later, I was bound back for the East Coast – this time to New York. I had a work event in Lake George, but I had somehow been able to squeeze in a mere 24 hours in the city to see my favorites and their sweet children.

It had been more than two years since my last visit [again – thanks, kids], and I was dying to see my girl Mallory in action as a mother of two.

We had the most delightful Brooklyn park playdate with our besties Zach and Mary Elizabeth along with their brave boy Ari.

Then we ditched the kids and had a parents’ night out on the town. Mallory and I had the most delicious Caribbean meal at Imani, then we met up with Zach and M.E. at a cocktail bar nearby. Three hours later, and we were still there – talking about everything from their incredible jobs [seriously, they’re changing the world] to potty training to who knows what. All I remember is that it was 1am by the time we got home, and it was the most relevant and empowering evening I’d had since I became a mom.

For one night, we pretended like we didn’t have kids. But all we did was talk about our kids. Then remember we had kids when they woke us up at 5am the next morning!

Sleepy and disheveled, I said my farewell to Mallory and her brood and took the train to Jersey. I was meeting up with my colleague at Newark Airport but was adamant about making a detour to South Orange to celebrate Pentecost with our dear friends David and Casey and their son Gabriel at their home church.

We may have only had a couple of hours together, but it was worth every moment if only to hear their choir sing, listen to enchanting harp music, and catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in years.

new jersey

By this time, my 24 hours was over. It was time to road trip to Lake George with my coolest and favoritest coworker, Katy. I go to a lot of trade shows, but this one had to be the most surprising and inspiring. We learned so much about what it means to be truly conservation focused and how to encourage creative spontaneity by going outside your comfort zone.

We learned about the vicious cycle of worldwide poverty. We brainstormed ideas on how we might improve our business through new perspectives. We ate pizza for breakfast every morning. We went to a rodeo. Heck, we even went forest bathing. [Look it up, it’s real and it’s amazing.]

Have I mentioned how much I love my job?

AND my husband?

Don’t worry – Jason was able to fit in a quick jaunt to Idaho in the midst of all of this. But it was nothing compared to the luxury I had of traveling all over the Americas while he held down the fort and our headstrong toddler at home.

Thankfully, the only travel we’re doing in the next few months is together — as a family.

And it all starts with California today. Let the adventures continue!

Bacon Jalapeño Cheese Ball

This is Homesick Texan recipe has become a tradition among my grad school friends. It’s not a reunion weekend without it. We wouldn’t usually share someone else’s recipe on this blog, but we promise it bears repeating. Don’t be surprised if it disappears in an hour.

bacon jalapeno cheese ball1

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 2 Tbs cilantro, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
  • 6 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled
  • Salt
  • 1/4 c chopped pecans
  1. In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together, reserving half of the jalapeños, half of the bacon, and all of the pecans. Be sure to taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Roll into a ball and set aside.
  2. On a plate, stire the pecans and remaining jalapeños and bacon so evenly distributed. Place cheese mixture on the plate and roll in the jalapeños, bacon and pecans until covered.
  3. Chill covered for at least an hour before serving. Serve with crackers. It tastes even better the next day!

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