Sunday, December 4, 2011

I carry your heart with me, I carry it in my heart

Have been kinda absent from the blog, basically because I went and got married to that Craig guy.  And it was pretty much the most amazing and wonderful day ever.  Not to be cliché...but it was.  And I wish I could relive that day over and over, buy my face would probably break from smiling, so it's probably a good thing that we can't make one day repeat itself over and over.

Enjoy the preview video, and pictures to come!  Also, if you were there, please send me your pictures - I'm dying to see them!!  It took every ounce of my being to not bring a camera to my own wedding...

video

* e.e. cummings, if you're curious, for the post title

Friday, October 21, 2011

Deep fried turkey

Does anything more really need to be said?




Ok, one more thing needs to be said.  Don't try to teach babies how to open beer.

Good work, Mike.  On the turkey.  And the beer. 

When a task looms large...make ice cream. Really.

Task looming large:

 
Another task, but enjoyable task, that helps with task looming large:


When faced with addressing a rather large pile of wedding invitations...I recommend ice cream.  Homemade ice cream.  Courtesy of a wonderful shower gift from my future mother-in-law and a few key ingredients...including Guinness.  Beer ice cream.  Not beer with ice cream, which was extremely disappointing in Prague, but actual beer ice cream.  Potential kitchen adventure ACCOMPLISHED.  David Leibovitz's Guinness-milk chocolate ice cream.  So good.

And obviously the invitations have made it out by now.  Phew.  Because with two weeks to go, that would be kinda disastrous.  Now if only all the RSVP cards could come back...

Come back to Texas...

...it's just the same since you went away.  Before you lose your accent.  And forget all about the Lone Star State.

Oh, you're already back?  AWESOME.  Then you can come visit us!!

All in reference to my dear, wonderful, amazing friends from forever, Carrie and Jason and the adorable Alan, who made the journey back to Texas (Houston!) from an extended stay in New York City (which don't get me wrong, I loved visiting them there...but it's nice to have them HOME).  Yay yay yay!!  So of course a summer road trip was in order, and we were more than happy to have them come hang out in Dallas with us for the weekend.

In July.  When it was 28 bajillion degrees outside.  Every minute.  And yes, almost three months ago.  Deal.

We had plenty of chill time, and Mexican food time, and for the kid in all of us...aquarium time!  Also apparently a fun activity...house cleaning time!  Who knew.  Two year olds have a fascinating kind of attention span.

Alan + Swiffer = kitchen tile moments.  Both toy and cleaning apparatus.  Awesome combination.  I'm totally putting Swiffer pads on the knees and feet on all onesies.

Cleaning is exhausting.  Apparently for both dog and human.  Also, tile floors are nice and cool in the summer heat...

I wish I still saw the world through his eyes.  Everything is AWESOME.
Check out the fun in the Picasa album.  Mainly aquarium shots.  I refrained from photographing all of our food.  You're welcome.

Carrie and Jason, so glad you guys are close again!!  See you in a mere two weeks for this whole wedding business!  YAY!!

Giant big deal #1 - we totally went and bought a house

Can you believe it?!?  Normally I'm a huge overanalyzer and delayer of doing and major procrastinator...but we just DID this thing.  We'd spent a few weekends with our realtor checking out houses in various areas to get a really good idea of what we really wanted in a house and where we wanted to be geographically...and did you know there are about a million things to consider when you're buying a house?  Things like square footage (Craig won this battle - his belief is bigger is better) and number of bedrooms and school districts and size of backyard and age of home and how much do you really want to spend and dear HEAVENS the commute time and so on and so on and so forth.  And imagine two people who both like to have their way making this decision together.  We made it through this - good pre-marital test, methinks.

And while I wasn't 100% really ready and totally on board with buying a house RIGHT NOW - it just worked out.  We both fell in love with this place, and it has absolutely everything we want, and I want to live in this house for the next fifty years.  I love it.  And Craig loves it, too.  And when that actually happens, you dang well better just buy the place.  Especially when the sellers are more than happy to do a sale-leaseback so the buyers (ummm...us) aren't stuck with rent+mortgage for a few months.  It just all came together.

So I crunched spreadsheet numbers and panicked while Craig told me it would all be ok...and it was.  I'm such a worrier.

Yay for our own little slice of Carrollton!!
That day we celebrated with lunch at Abuelo's (extremely close to our new home AND site of many fond A-town memories AND delicious Mexican food!!), and then we also had giant steaks and a bottle of bubbly for dinner.  Because food is really the best way to celebrate, you know.  A little anticlimactic since we don't actually live in the house (and won't be there until December/January, btw), but still really, really exciting.  And really, really real when we make that first mortgage payment here in about ten days.  Yowza.

I grabbed the pictures from the realtor website and tossed them into a Picasa album if you'd like a better look.  It's all perfect and wonderful in those pictures (except for the color of the dining room - I'm dying to paint, and other than that it's pefect...and maybe some more painting, because I'm demented and actually really love to paint walls), so it might look a little more sad when we move in and have less furniture (fact of new home ownership, right??  there is a dining set in our near future...), but it will be our home.  For a very long while.  And I'm so, so happy about that.

Oh?  What was that you said?  We're totally insane for adding "home purchase" to the list of life events occuring over the last month or so, especially with the wedding coming up?  I totally agree.  Hoping my stress levels at least burned some calories.

Just a little crazy around these parts...

...what with, oh, I don't know...planning a wedding and buying a house and going to New Orleans AND Philadelphia AND Atlanta and oh yeah there's this thing called fall busy season that I'd managed to pleasantly avoid for a couple of years while doing the DC thing but returned with a vengeance this year and deprived me of sleep and sanity.  You know, just normal stuff.

So get ready for a mini-blog-extravaganza.  Just to catch up.  With shortened posts.  Less wit.  Fewer pictures.  Much sadness.  Think of it as a condensed weekend marathon of one of your favorite shows.

GO!

Also, if anyone has tips on how to get the header picture to actually match the width of the blog, that would be stellar.  I don't have the energy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bat! MOVE!!

Yup, it's almost time for the bat.  And this only happened...you know...two months ago.  A little behind on blogging due to this whole "busy season" thing I didn't miss while in DC and am still not a huge fan of.  Anyway...our last evening in Beaver Creek was off to a perfect, relaxing start - delicious carb-loaded dinner lovingly prepared by Kami.  And then...adventures in dessert.  I will share my scary makeup-free face just to show you my total excitement at scavenging for sticks and finding the perfect ones for marshmallow roasting.



We successfully built a roaring file (I'm so proud!) and proceeded to melt/burn things into tasty deliciousness.  Yes, it was actually cool enough to light a fire.  Colorado during the summer is awesome.

 


Did you know you can smash a peanut M&M into a marshmallow and make something tasty even tastier?  I wish I could take credit, but it was totally Kami's idea.
And then...the bat.  We'd opened up the windows in the condo to let the cool breeze in...and we also happened to let in A BAT.  It swooshed in through a window and set off a great round of screaming and covering with blankets and general swooshing about in efforts to send the hideous creature back to the night from whence it came.  Instead of immediately swooping back out as we hoped, it decided to cling to the stone wall in our condo and REFUSE TO MOVE. 

Not a great bat picture, and in no way does it capture the moment when the bat started creeping across the rock and stared at us with devil bat eyes.  I didn't have my zoom lens on, and you can bet your life I wasn't leaving the room to go do something silly like switch lenses.  And I refuse to publicly post on the blog semi-humiliating pictures of us in various stages of bat defense. 

There's also a video out there.  It largely consists of me screaming "bat!  MOVE!!" while throwing objects (empty water bottles, pillows, small candles...anything, really), attempting to get it to move down to level one where Kami and Carolyn were ready to swish it back out the window.  All in all, I'd say the bat removal process took 45 minutes.  Forty-five very stressful minutes.  Here's what we needed to get ourselves through the experience.  Along with at least one disc of Sex and the City.

After that traumatic experience, we actually slept pretty well - and then we had to hit the road.  Boo.  Like, major boo.  Definitely did not want to leave our vacation.  So...we pinned our hopes on the Colorado lottery.  Which didn't exactly work out, but at least we got a scenic overlook out of the deal.

Goodbye, mountains. =(
We snuck into Denver with enough time for a pretty amazing burger at the Cherry Cricket (have you ever had cream cheese on a burger?  if not, try this immediately!!  so tasty), then it was off to the airport and back to reality.  I gave a vacation rundown to Craig with a drawing...but I don't think he was nearly as amused as I was.

Love you, girls!  Love you, mountains!  So long, vacation!!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Back to the mountains, please?

I'd like to go back to the mountains for a plethora of reasons.  Very near the top of the list is absolute relaxation, which is due in large part to Day 3.  For Day 3, we spent an obscene amount of time basically living at the Allegria Spa at the Park Hyatt.  Massages, spa lunch, poolside time, excessive amounts of reading and relaxing in these amazing heated stone chairs...pure and utter bliss.  Now THAT is vacation.  No pictures necessary.  Not even small children poolside with plans to flood every possible dry surface could dampen our relaxed spirits.

After becoming semi-human again (since our spa experience transformed us into blobs of happiness and not much more), we had high, high hopes about an evening at the Ritz in nearby Bachelors Gulch.  Just look at these smiling faces ready to go.
Maybe we were setting our expectations a little too high.  But the Ritz...the Ritz was a bust.

Fail #1 - lack of options for drinking and/or dining.  As in...apparently the Ritz is the place to be in the winter only.  So many things were just closed!  How sad.

Fail #2 - table stealers in the form of sweaty mountain bikers.  Noodle-heads.
Fail #3 - incompetence and basic lack of caring from wait staff.  And bar staff, for that matter.  Even if you don't know how to make a champagne cocktail, you pull out the interwebs and just look it up.  So much for customer service.  Not that we don't love just plain ol' champagne...

...but come on, even the Blackberry browser with spotty mountain reception can get you to a champagne cocktail.

So we gave up on the Ritz and headed back through the Beaver Creek gates for dinner at Rocks Modern Grill.  And it was pretty tasty, and they took good care of us, and they sold us another bottle of wine to take home when we realized we all just needed one more glass and everything was closed.  Thanks, Rocks.  Rocks 1, Ritz 0.  Day 3 in the books.

Day 4 dawned...well, it didn't really dawn because it was pretty rainy and kinda gross.  We kept our hopes up, though, and drove over to Vail to check out some different hiking trails.  It took a bit of doing to actually find the trail we were going for, but our brave mountain driver got us there safe and sound!  However, when we got there...

...we encountered this kind man, a real hiker, with poles and shoes and double layers of clothes and the whole shebang...and he basically told us we would die if we tried to tackle the slippery trail.

So...we turned around and went back home.  But at least we got to see Vail.  And we proceeded to take our hiking picnic and turn it into a living room picnic, which isn't entirely a bad thing.  It also gave us the chance to do some fireplace testing to make sure our s'mores plan for that night was a go (and by "fireplace testing" I mean "stuck our heads into the fireplace to make sure the flue was actually, truly, 100% open"), and I brought in wood, which made me feel like a good provider...or something.  Really don't be impressed, though - the wood was pre-chopped and sitting on the deck approximately ten feet from the fireplace.  Still, it had to be done.
Then to work off our picnic, we made the uphill trek back into town, stopping along the way to make some more new friends.  With inanimate objects.  But friends all the same.


We chilled around the fire pit for a bit...

...and then some ominous clouds starting rolling in pretty quickly, so we decided it might be in our best interest to hurry home and have a roof over our heads.

Ahhhh, more relaxation at our home away from home.  Thank you, mountains.  At least until the bat showed up.  Next installment.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Spare time?

What's that?  Oh, I'm sorry - I'm deep in the middle of this thing called "busy season," which I didn't miss AT ALL last year when I was already lost in thoughts of Spain (which I NEVER blogged about, which is completely inexcusable, because now I'm sure my feeble mind has lost all kinds of details - how terrible).  And I'm getting married in seventy days (you know, for anyone who's counting), and did you know there are all kinds of little details that come up in the two months before that amazing wonderful awesome day?  Also, we're beginning a house/home search (eeekk!!), and the formerly exploding basil has now digressed to a point of crunchy deadness given The Oven conditions we're facing, which makes me sad, and I'm just tired.  So the blogging is a little behind. 

When I do have some time to blog, I find myself drawn to other diversions on the interwebs, namely Pinterest - it's where I'm spending entirely too much time lately, but I just can't help myself.  I love it.  Which means I'm spending time finding all of these amazing craftastic and foodcentric projects I want to embark on...but again, I have no time to do them.  Someday...when sewing is a priority instead of silly things like doing laundry and...yeah, ok, sitting on my couch like a blob because I've lost all incentive to do anything.  I blame The Oven.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Escape from The Oven

A little over a month ago...I escaped.  From The Oven.  To The Mountains.  And it was everything I thought it would be.  Except for the bat that swooped into our lives, which I was not expecting at all.  Don't worry, I'll tell you allllll about that particular adventure.  Just not yet.  First let's start with beer.

For our annual girl trip, this year Kami and Carolyn and I opted for something a little close by, a lot relaxed, and INFINITELY cooler than The Oven (also infinitely cooler than last year's trip, thank goodness) - to Colorado we go!  Specifically to Beaver Creek, where you're not exactly roughing it.  I mean that quite literally, since that's the slogan for their ad campaign.  We really did leave everyday life behind when we went through that magical gate.  But before we got there, we spent a little time at Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver (source of the beer sampler above - I really loved the chile beer...imagine that!) and made the drive through some rather cool and picturesque scenery to get to our mountain escape.

I see mountains!!

Really, REALLY glad we never needed to make use of the runaway truck ramps - YIPES.
Since we were in the land of microbreweries (and since we had a late check-in at our condo - might as well kill some time with another stop for alcohol, right?), we stopped along the way in the cuteness that is Breckenridge and checked out the offerings at Breckenridge Brewery.
Just look at all of those adorable tiny beers!  I was actually very pleasantly surprised by the vanilla porter - dessert beer, yum.
After navigating the mountain passes and picking up provisions, we checked into our ENORMOUS (yay for summer rates!) condo at Ridgepoint and got settled.  Which for us means...

...wine and cheese hour in the living room.  There's really no better way to start the night.  We barely managed to rouse ourselves from the really comfortable couches, but we pulled it together for a late dinner at Vin 48 (it was outside the prestigious gates of Beaver Creek!!  but the food was really delicious) - boots and all.  We embraced the slight chill in the air and went all out with sleeves and cardigans and boots.  Coming from The Oven, it was a truly wonderful sartorial experience.  Day 1 in the books.  And yes, I realize that in the five pictures above, two feature landscapes and three feature alcohol.  We have our priorities right.  Pictures of actual people to come, promise.

The next morning we made the hike into Beaver Creek proper/the village/land of really expensive stores and hotels and restaurants and promptly made a new friend while grabbing lunch.  Meet Lexi.  Carolyn almost stole her.

After carbing up, we decided to tackle some hiking - after consulting a very large, very informative map, of course.

 


And into the woods we go!!
Byeeeeeee
Some notes on hiking:
  • if you're on a paved path...or a freakin' ROAD...it's not hiking
  • if you encounter your dream home along the way, possibly inhabited by a delightful young man named Hans...it's not hiking
  • aspen trees are really lovely - you might even refer to them as nature's Q-tips (so skinny and so fluffy at the top!)
  • if there are signs telling you how to avoid bears - then it's probably really hiking, at which point my ability to actually hike will fade considerably

We made it back safely, no bear attacks, and made our way back home...DOWNHILL!!...with short stops along the way to investigate the most enormous dandelions ever and some really beautiful views.


Chill afternoon at home, and then we again donned boots, cardigans, and sleeves (yay!!) for a drink on the gorgeous patio at the Park Hyatt and fancy dinner at Grouse Mountain Grill.  Great night.  Day 2 in the books.

Don't worry, that bat story is still coming.  I'm saving it for you.  You can check out the full photo spread here, though, and just know that the bat lurks within.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

God bless America. And cake balls.

Happy 4th of July!!   Oh, what?   That was a month ago?   Gotcha...just a touch behind on catching up on the blog.   Don't worry, I'll get there.   It's a little different blogging from The Oven rather than the D of C just because...well...life is different.   But I still want to blog it.   So here goes. =)

First and foremost, I'm back in the land of hatch chiles!!!   So when we came across some at the farmer's market over Pendarvi weekend, I immediately snatched up an entire bucket with big plans - namely, a smallish 4th of July bash coming up where Craig and I would whip up food for approximately twenty when we knew our attendance would be six adults + one cute baby.  We sometimes go just a little bit overboard...




Back to the chiles - I roasted them over open flames (only a teensy bit dangerous, right?), and they miraculously transformed into burger toppings and hatch chile guacamole.  Yum x 1000.

In addition to the massive amount of black bean and corn salsa...and burgers...and chips...I also went a little dessert crazy with red velvet cake balls and mascarpone stuffed strawberries - let's hear it for the red, white, and blue!  This was my first time actually making cake balls, and I have to thank Sarah for introducing me to the tasty little creations years ago...about time I tackled them!  And yeah, it's a little bit messy.

Eeeeekkk, scary red velvet hands!!  Good camera work, Craig. =)

It's an army of patriotic cake balls!  Ummm, yes, one cake kinda makes a LOT of cake balls.

I think they're just adorable!

And don't worry, I know there are more adorable things in life than stuffed strawberries...adorable things like Zach and Gracie playing ball together (well, kinda) under the kitchen table.  Squeeee, I love it!!  Sweet kids.
That's what I call baby-sitting.
A certain someone's mom has gotten pretty good with a sewing machine lately, and in yet another display of adorable, Gracie's 4th of July outfit was just too cute for words - we even got her to wear the hat for just a couple of quickly snapped pictures.


Happy 4th of July, everyone!  Only a month late!  Hey, America's awesome no matter what day it is.  Except for maybe now with those debt crisis disaster terribleness going on...oh, I'm sure there's still awesome to be had.  There's optimism and confidence for you.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Battling the heat with frosty beverages

Weekend before last we hopped in the car and set off for the FW in this whole DFW metroplex thing - Craig had never been then, AND we had big plans to meet up with the Vaughns for an afternoon of...well...Mexican food and alcohol, when you get right down to it.  So, first stop was the patio at Joe T. Garcia's, an institution in the arena of Mexican food and Ft. Worth things to do.
Yes, please.
My previous experience with Joe T's has been (1) you can only order enchiladas or fajitas, and (2) the food's just ok but the experience/ambience/patio makes it all worth while.  So imagine my surprise when an actual MENU came out with TONS of options!  I stuck with the cheese enchilada but also added a taco into the mix.  And while I'm happy to report the expansion on (1), (2) still holds true...although you get a little less atmosphere when there's no live music rocking the patio.  But we had shade and fans, so that certainly helped.  As did margaritas.  Duh, margaritas always help.

After loading up our tummies, we headed over to Rahr & Sons brewery for the Saturday afternoon tour.   When we showed up, I was a little worried about the line...


...but we were in without a problem!  Into the un-air conditioned brewery, that is.  Which we knew going in.  And we knew it was going to be hot.  H-O-T.  But still.  I wasn't expecting to be quite so shiny throughout the afternoon.  Thank goodness for the fans.

And the tour wasn't much of a tour (ummm...we actually kinda missed the whole "tour" part of the afternoon, but our $7 for three beers + a glass bargain pretty much made up for that), but we did enjoy catching up with friends, hearing some tunes, and checking out something new.
She was pretty good!

Craig showing off his glass, and blocking his face, which is how he prefers to be photographed.

The sweetest baby alive handled the heat pretty well...although she looks a little worried here.  Good work, Gracie!
Tooooooooooo hot to do anything!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Showering, no shampoo needed

Last weekend...ok, wait, make that weekend BEFORE last since time is completely disappearing and sneaking away from me...I got to spend the afternoon surrounded by dear family and friends at this only-comes-around-once kinda thing known as a bridal shower.  And it was absolutely fantastic.  Craig's mom flew in, the amazing Dana made the journey from Virginia, my MOHSOB (maid of honor sister of the bride, duh!) trekked halfway across the country, Mom & Dad (although no boys allowed at the shower!) drove down along with a wonderful aunt and cousins...and then there's all the people here in the oven who made it a point to be there, too! 

To celebrate me.  Well, and this Craig guy.  It was pretty awesome.  Mexican food, margaritas, Bob Armstrong, and absolutely no games.  I'm not really a games kinda girl, especially when it comes to...myself.  But I do love board games.  Excessively, actually.

It goes against every ounce of my being to NOT take pictures at an event, but my goal here was to actually be present and enjoy the time with my family and friends. Which meant no picture-taking allowed - just soaking up the moments and memories.  Therefore, all of these pictures are courtesy of the amazing Sarah and her fantastic fixed lens that I just might go out and buy for myself.  And she's a pro at uploading and Picasa sharing in a timely manner.  Just one of the many, many reasons I love her dearly.

That being said, here's the one picture I'm contributing to this event, which was taken on my phone mere moments ago with a nifty little diddy known as Vignette, which I've completely fallen in love with.

Love love LOVE these invitations so much!!  Carolyn, you do good work.
And now...thank you, Sarah, photographer extraordinaire!
That sweet, crafty Sarah went and made me the cutest apron...with a "P" in the corner!  I think I wore it for half the shower.
Wonderful Sarah friend person crafter photographer amazing.  Just summing her up.
Diana was an absolute pro with the cake balls.  For bringing them AND for serving them so beautifully.  What a fantastic friend!

Ok, yes, I was enjoying my margaritas.  Amanda looks perhaps a touch concerned.

Quite a pile to work my way through!

My beautiful, amazing, wonderful beyond words bridesmaids (MOH and sistah friend is sitting next to me stage right, of course).  Love these girls more than you can ever know.
A giant thank you to everyone who could be there!  I had such a fantastic time celebrating with all of you!