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... 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!!
Some notes on hiking:
  • if you're on a paved path...or a freakin''s not hiking
  • if you encounter your dream home along the way, possibly inhabited by a delightful young man named'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 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!!