Mission Cantina - The Best Mexican Ever

So I’ve been meaning to do a blog about this amazing place for quite some time. Truth is, when I go, the only thing I’m thinking about is tacos. #foodieproblems So finally, here it is.

Starting out, this place was firstly a food truck. You can see their truck parked right behind the restaurant. Apparently it was such a hit, no surprise there, that the owner decided to try a standing spot. Best.Decision.Ever.

Now it’s not a big space and it’s connected to some sort of tiny sandwich shop, but it is every part of the word amazing. On this particular visit, Easter day at 4pmish which is when they open, we were able to get right in and get a table. This never happens. Of course by 4:45 there was already a wait for a table, so today we were the lucky ones. Every other time we have ever come to Mission Cantina, there is nothing short of a 45 minute to an hour wait. And as crazy as this is going to sound, Carlos and I have actually waited 2 hours to get a table. Sorry people, it’s just that darn good. 

It’s a dark little place packed with candy skull decor. Because they open later in the day the staff is the same and they’re just as awesome. The menu is small, which I love, there’s nothing more aggravating than going somewhere to eat and trying to decide between 3 pages of options. All the options are fresh and you can’t go wrong no matter what you choose. 

My recommendation would be to start out with the queso fundido appetizer. It’s packed with cheese, onions, peppers, chorizo (the best part), and other veggies. It comes with chips and is so delicious! I generally could eat one of these myself. Safe to say I don’t hold back when it’s Mission Cantina night. 

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For my meal I usually get 3-4 loaded tacos with chorizo, I love chorizo. Their tacos come with chopped onions, tomatoes, and what seems to be pickled cucumbers along with your usual lettuce and crema. You don’t need the beans and rice to fill yourself up, this will do the trick. The flavors are fantastic, you can taste the freshness of everything. 

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Their drinks are great as well. I typically stick to a bottled beer but Carlos really enjoys their margaritas. There’s never anything left to take home and you leave feeling super satisfied with life. I could gloat about this place all day. We typically go to eat here just about once a week. I love mexican food and I have never found a place more delicious than this. There’s even a happy dance that occurs once my tacos have arrived - you would have to eat here to understand. This is hands down a must try if you are in the Amherst, MA area. 

Easter Brunch

For a blended family, holidays require a little more effort if you want to make memories and keep traditions. This year, the boys were set to spend Easter with their bio mom. For us this means they will stay the evening before Easter with her and we will get them back the evening of Easter. We wanted to have a family get together so to accommodate the schedule we chose to have a brunch Saturday morning with Easter festivities to follow. Keep in mind we had just gotten home from the Hospital Friday afternoon for Carlos’ neck surgery and had to pick the kids up the same evening along with a grocery store run for Saturday’s brunch menu - so the house was a little hectic. 

I chose to make a super yummy breakfast crescent ring that I’ve made only once before and something new I hadn’t tried, a french toast bake that everyone loved. The adults indulged in tequila sunrise mimosas and the kids enjoyed fresh fruit cut into bunny and egg shapes. The brunch was an all around success - which is crucial to my southern roots of perfectionism and hospitality. Plus we got to use our newly built table that comfortably fit everyone including the food. 

After stuffing ourselves with tequila and breakfast we retired to the backyard for the traditional easter egg hunt. This year was a lot more fun because Dex, who is almost 3, was able to run around on his own and find his egg colors without too much help. 

I always categorize the colors before the kids go out to the yard. Everyone gets a chance at a basketful of eggs plus it makes the hunt a little harder since you can’t grab the first egg you see. The kids love it.
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Once everyone had found all their eggs and the adults did a walk through of the yard for stragglers (which turned up hours later when the kids went to play outside) we went inside to unveil the goodies.

I’ve always had a hard time trying to fill these tiny eggs. This year seemed a bit easier. I wanted to spend the least amount of money. To me it’s about the experience and not so much what is inside the eggs. Additionally my oldest, Vince, is not much into candy so I have to be creative. Here’s what we had this year:

~ We spread out $7.50 in quarters between the eggs
~ Gummy bear candies in different shapes. For the girl I did ring and cherry shapes and for the boys I did regular bears, snakes, and bottle shapes. This all came in one small gummy bear bag that was $1 at Walmart
~ Bouncy balls for the boys, 98 cents at Walmart
~ Tiny jeweled rings for the girl, 98 cents at Walmart
~ Neon balloons, 98 cents at Walmart for a bag
~ What was left we filled with Easter Hershey Kisses and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups that I had bought anyway as after breakfast sweets for everyone

As the kids emptied the eggs, we blew up all the balloons which kept the kids entertained for a couple hours popping them, hiding them, and trying to see who can keep their balloon up the longest. It was also Carlos’ mom’s birthday so we did cake and candles. We got blessed with some beautiful spring weather so of course we went back outside to take advantage of that. Around here you never know when another snow storm will pop up. It was so nice being out in the sun while the kids played in the yard. 

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We finished up our early Easter by dying eggs. Dex really enjoyed this, he was so fascinated by his eggs I could barely get him to look into the camera with the others. Before the kids left to go to their moms, their aunt and grandma surprised them with easter baskets. What a day!

My heart was so full. We couldn’t believe all the stuff we were able to accomplish in a few short hours but everyone had such a great time. These are the things I look forward to and hope that the kids always remember and cherish. Happy Easter! 

Neck Fusion - Adventures at Mass General

Carlos has been a proud member of the United States Air Force for approximately 12 years. However, as with most military jobs, the wear and tear of required gear and the job tasks in general can result in many physical problems. For Carlos, 2-3 of the vertebrae in his neck had worn down and begun to rub and squish against his spinal cord. After months of physical therapy and shopping around for a good doctor that actually cares, we chose a neurosurgeon at Mass General Hospital in Boston (Best.Decision.Ever)

You never know exactly what to expect when you’re planning your stay at a hospital. We knew we would be staying at least 2 days but of course it could always be more. I packed for simplicity about as possible as a female can. Same pair of jeans, 3 different sweatshirts, one pair of sweats and shirt to sleep in, and of course the hygienic necessities. 

The night before we couldn’t sleep and in no time 4am was upon us. It took about an hour and a half to get to Boston and we shuffled into the quiet empty hospital expecting to be the only ones there for surgery. We immediately burst into laughter, we turned the corner to the room and standing in a long line were about 30-40 other people apparently also having surgery that morning. Thankfully the line was moving along pretty quick. We were checked in with a little hand held pager that was something out of Texas Roadhouse and found a little spot in the massive waiting room to sit.  

Before long he was taken back to change and prep for surgery and I was left to the adventures of exploring the ginormous maze that is Mass General. There’s a surgical family waiting room set a part for those who want to wait comfortably and stay up to date on their loved ones status. This quickly became my home for the next 8-9 hours. The room is ran by a nurse and two volunteers. Once you check in, they let you know when your loved one’s surgery has begun, when it ends, and when you can request to see them. I picked a space on a long desk with a privacy window and plenty of outlets so I could do some of my work. I am definitely blessed to have a job I can literally take with me anywhere. I also brought a book for any work downtime and I made a couple trips to the cafe down the hall for coffee, water, and a muffin. The cafe was uber cheap which is great when you’re stuck waiting for so long. Plus you’re in the middle of downtown Boston, you don’t want to have to go anywhere. 

Carlos was in surgery for a little over 2 1/2 hours. His doctor came down to tell me everything went great, which was awesome. A couple hours after that I was told I could finally go see him. I followed a volunteer through winding halls and about two elevators until we had finally arrived at his recovery spot. I say spot because that’s just what it was. The teeniest of spaces with just enough room to fit a stretcher. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I would see him so my nerves were a little wrecked right before I walked up to him. He was obviously very tired and in a lot of pain. All in all, his incision looked great and I squeezed into the space, popped open my book and let him rest until we could get into an actual room. There was no phone signal in the recovery area and I had been updating friends and family for the past 8 hours, but it was nice to know he was ok and enjoy the quiet alone time we had for a couple hours. 

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He finally got a room and so began the treck through more halls and only one elevator this time. The room was amazing. Because we were in Boston and in such a huge hospital, we assumed he would be in a shared room and that was if he got a room initially at all. That wasn’t the case, he was given a beautiful private room with plenty of space and not too bad of a view. Not like that mattered since the only direction Carlos could see was straight. 

The next three days was spent trying to get back to a new normal. Carlos would take little walks that felt like refreshing 5 minute escapes and we experimented with what he could actually swallow. So far it’s been yogurt, broth, and lots of ice water. It’s taking him a bit to get used to help. He and I are very independent people and so needing help with shoes, pants, and anything that requires bending down can be frustrating. He’s stuck with a very fashionable neck collar for the next two months and will begin physical therapy after that to learn new posture and movement techniques. 

The nurses and staff at Mass General were beyond more than we could ever have asked for. They are genuinely dedicated to their profession and really love what they do. Since we’ve come home, Carlos has posted up in the basement recliner that we moved into the living room and I’ve taken up on the couch. Things like this sometimes make you do an inventory of your relationship and how far we’ve come. Things could have been worse or gone badly, but they didn’t and for that I’m very thankful. For now we’re looking forward to less pain and some rest and relaxation at home.