House Tour: Breakfast Nook

Comfort.

Warm fuzzies.

These are the words that enter my head and cause a smile to spread across my face every time I look into our breakfast nook. This part of our home is where the memories will be made, meals will be eaten and the heart will grow over the years.

There are several meaningful parts of this room, but most essential is the table. This farmhouse table has been in Adam’s family for many many years (probably close to 100).

It has history literally etched into it.

The knife marks on the lower left corner from pigs being slaughtered for family meals and the faint indentions made by a meat grinder that was clamped to the table on bottom center of the picture above are the reminders of distant history.

In the middle of this picture, you see newer markings and scratches. Scars from a more recent history wherein this table held. up. a. house. after a tornado destroyed Adam’s childhood home. Memories, both good and bad, have surrounded this table for decades and now it’s ours.

Ours to create new memories around, as well as to share the old.

Another meaningful part of this room is the painting. I went to college at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and this painting (purchased at the AMAZING RiffRaff on the Fayetteville Square) contains every part of Arkansas that I love.

I look forward to many memories and good times in this nook. Game nights, cookie decorating, pumpkin carving and laughter. This will truly become the heart of our home and I can’t wait!

all photos taken by adam bartlett [aka my handsome hubby]
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House Tour: Den

One of my favorite things about our house is the cozy second living area we call our den. This room is my baby, so to speak. I spent hours thinking about how I wanted it to look, drawing inspiration from Pinterest and shopping for just the right pieces of furniture to fill the space. I wanted a bright, welcoming space that had a little bit of vintage flare to it.

Being new homeowners means being on a budget when it comes to making the new house our home. We ended up coming in under budget on our den, which was our main spending area for the house right now.

The first thing we did when the house was officially ours was start painting the den. I wanted to get rid of the brown textured accent wall as quickly as possible and change the taupe walls to a light dove gray shade. We found the paint at Treehouse, our favorite hardware store in Austin. I love the turquoise accent wall and the slightly darker shade that we used to accent the bar area!

The media center is actually an IKEA find that I love! It gives the look, feel and storage space of built-ins but at an affordable cost. The white shelves against the turquoise wall pops and makes me so happy and gives me plenty of space to play with books and decorative items.

After weeks of furniture shopping and never finding exactly what we wanted, we happened upon the perfect couch and coffee table at a local store called Five Elements Furniture. As soon as we walked into their showroom we immediately felt at home. Their furniture was so us and exactly what I had in mind for our den. The staff is so helpful and friendly and if we ever need more furniture, it will definitely be our first stop!

Because our entire downstairs is tiled, I knew we’d need to get an area rug for the den. Enter Overstock.com. I have a very good friend from college who had used Overstock to furnish her first home and knew she had good things to say about their quality, so I called her up and asked for advice. She told me to focus on pieces 4 star rated or higher and to read the comments because they give the best insight into the actual delivered appearance of your purchases. I knew I wanted a graphic rug for our den, but didn’t like the price of the options at local stores, then I saw the Alexa Chevron on Overstock and was sold. It was the perfect addition to the space!

One of my favorite finds in the den is the faux Eames Lounger we happened upon at my favorite local vintage store, Room Service. Adam begged for a recliner but said if I could find an Eames Lounger in our budget he’d settle for that. Thank God I found one. 🙂 Bonus: It’s super comfy!

Another favorite feature in the den is the vintage “B” we scored on a trip to Fredericksburg Trade Days that Adam then wired as a lamp. Every time I look at it, I smile – it’s such a quirky  part of our house!

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with how our den turned out. It’s cheery, bright, and cozy. Exactly what we wanted for the space!

all photos taken by adam bartlett [aka my handsome hubby]

Austin City Limits | tUnE-yArDs

Last Wednesday, Adam called to tell me we won the lottery. No, not that lottery. We won the lottery to attend a taping of Austin City Limits! To be honest, I had never heard of the artist we were going to see, but a quick Spotify listen proved intriguing.

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Tonight was the concert. In short it was amazing. In fact, Adam and I walked right across the street to Austin Java afterwards so I could write this blog.

The program we received before the show stated that tUnE-yArDs (made up of singer-songwriter Merrill Garbus, a bass player, and a 2-person saxophone section) is “somewhere between Aretha and Yoko.”

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And? She plays the ukulele. Sold.

Every vocal sound that you hear is made on stage by Merrill. And I mean every.

Watching her layer vocals, scats, hums, and screams left me in awe of her artistry. Then, just when your fingers start getting into the vocals, she adds in a drum beat, loops it, and your toes start tapping. Then the sax section adds in some jazz runs and I’m practically giving myself whiplash.

The ukulele was unlike any I’d ever heard before. It was pure rock jams and oftentimes I even forgot it was a ukulele.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a concert with so much sensory overload at once. The environment of the ACL studio only added to the atmosphere and I loved every minute.

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I’m pretty sure I’ll be listening to her all day tomorrow.

Meanwhile I’ll leave you with a couple of YouTube videos from some of her older live performances.

Walt Disney World: Part 4

[Click here for Part 3]
EPCOT

You didn’t think I’d leave you hanging on the rest of our EPCOT travels did you? 🙂

As I mentioned in my first post, the reason for our trip to Disney was to celebrate a sorority sister’s wedding. In the days leading up to the wedding, we had a few events to take part in – but the times still allowed us to have some night park time!

Mexico

After taking a nice long mid-day break (due to rain, AGAIN), we were able to get gussied up for the Dessert Welcome Party for the wedding. But first, we had to make our reservations at La Hacienda San Angel in Mexico – while braving the rain. This restaurant was recommended by a co-worker’s wife and I’m so glad we knew about it! The atmosphere was wonderful, the service was great and the food was mouth-watering.

To start, we ordered the Queso Fundido – one of our favorite mexican dishes – which was served alongside some wonderful warm flour tortillas. We then split the La Hacienda Parrillada, which included an unbelievable New York Strip, chicken al pastor, chorizo, and grilled vegetables.

This was more than enough food for us to eat and we ended up sending about half of it back when it was time for the next course, dessert!! Adam ordered the Crema de Chocolate “Abuelita” which was chocolate custard served with crunchy buñuelo strips and caramel syrup.

Meanwhile, I was devouring my dish – Empanada de Manzana, a puff pastry filled with sautéed caramel apples, served with dulce de leche ice cream and cajeta. It was heaven.

After finishing our meal, our hopes of the rain letting up was drenched – literally. So we walked across the street to ride the indoor boat ride, Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros. By the time the boat ride was done, the rain had let up some and we were able to have some picture fun as we headed to the monorail for the Dessert Party at The Grand Floridian.

We had a great time at the Dessert Party catching up with some of my college friends I hadn’t seen since graduating. On our walk to watch the breathtaking Magic Kingdom fireworks show, we passed another banquet room with a band that sounded very similar to Journey. In fact, so similar we had to stop and take a peek. Later that evening, Adam looked up Journey’s website and it was made about 90% certain that the headshots on the website were the same people on the stage. So yeah, we saw Journey at Disney World. No biggie.

After the Dessert Party, we made our way back to EPCOT for extra magic hours. We crammed in some final attractions before calling it a night around midnight. We met Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald!!!

Soarin’

After hobnobbing with the characters, we speed walked to Soarin’, the only ride we had yet to be able to get on due to lines. Lucky for us there was no wait at 11:30 pm. Go figure! So we got to take an aerial tour through California. Adam loved this ride, but I wasn’t entirely a fan. It needed a story. Specifically, a story narrated by Morgan Freeman telling me about the things I’m seeing on the ride. Even with that comment, I did love the “smell-a-vision” aspect of the ride. California citrus smells AWESOME!!

We ended our travels in EPCOT taking the obligatory sphere picture – thanks to the park photographers 🙂

EPCOT Tips:
  • Take full advantage of the Meal Plan. Seriously, it’s worth every penny you spend on it, because it essentially turns your Disney vacation into an all-inclusive resort (with the exception of booze and souvenirs). Best investment ever. Plus, most Disney meal portions are huge so you can easily split entrees among 2 people.
  • Make dining reservations. This ensures that you’ll get a table in the pavilions you want to eat in, at the times you want to eat there. We did this for both Germany and Mexico and it worked out very well for us.
[More Disney memories to come…]

Walt Disney World: Part 3

[Click here for Part 2]
EPCOT

After a fun-filled morning in the Magic Kingdom, we were starving and made our way to EPCOT for lunch in Germany.

Before our trip, we made reservations in 2 countries in the world showcase – Germany for Adam and Mexico for me. The Biergarten in Germany was a total man food heaven while I was happy to eat the mac and cheese from the kids buffet and sip on my Shirley Temple.

The cool thing about eating in Germany was that you got to meet other park-goers. Every table in the Biergarten is set for 8 people, so we were able to meet a family of 4 and a local couple over lunch. Lucky for us, the locals where actually a part of the Disney family, the husband was a cast member in EPCOT and gave us a few tips of must-dos while in the park. At the end of lunch we were treated to a show of traditional German music – which we wouldn’t have known about had we not ended up eating with a cast member. 🙂

Throughout our trip, it became evident that EPCOT really didn’t want us to stay long. Every time we entered the park we had to rush through to avoid getting rained on. So after our lunch in Germany what did we do? Walked really fast through the rest of the World Showcase, snapping minimal pictures along the way, and took the bus back to our hotel. The downpour started immediately after we closed our room door. At least we got to see an awesome juggler in Italy!

The next afternoon, we finally got a few hours in to enjoy EPCOT without the threat of rain. During this time we got to take full advantage of the International Flower and Garden Festival that was taking place throughout the park!

The flowers were absolutely breathtaking and we had a fun time goofing off as we made our way throughout the park.

Mission: SPACE

After we spent sometime taking pictures, it was time to ride some rides. First up? Mission: SPACE. We had heard that there were 2 tracks to take in this ride and we chose the calmer of the 2 – The Green Team. This was the perfect choice for us pansies and we really enjoyed being the crew of a mission to Mars. The video the showed throughout the ride really made us feel like we were in space – I’d definitely ride this again we we come back!

Spaceship Earth

Yep, it’s in the iconic EPCOT sphere.

Call me crazy, but this might have been one of my top rides in all of Disney. I really enjoyed the trip through history and the slow-pace of this ride. My favorite part was at the end – it’s still etched in my brain. I’m not sure if the developers of this ride intended it to have such symbolism, but at the very end your “car” turns around and you face the parts of the ride you just went through. I immediately leaned to Adam and said “I love the symbolism.” He looked confused, so I continued, “You know, how you have to look back at your past to move into your future.” Who knows if this was the goal of this ride, but it’s what I got out of it.

An added bonus was getting to create a movie about your future that you could then email to yourself for future laughs. Very, very cool!

Our final evening of having a park pass also proved beneficial because it was Extra Magic Hours at EPCOT and within an hour we were able to speed walk and see all the attractions we had missed or were too impatient for earlier in the afternoon.

[More Disney memories to come…]

Walt Disney World: Part 2

[Click here for Part 1]
Tom Sawyer’s Island

After surviving all those rides without a breather, Adam and I decided to start the calm part of our Magic Kingdom tour. Off we headed to Tom Sawyer Island where we could go at our own pace and take pictures of whatever caught our fancy.

Tom Sawyer’s Island was like an oasis in the middle of family friendly madness. No lines to take the raft over from the “mainland” and we didn’t really run into another soul while we explored the gorgeous trails and made our way through the dimly lit caves.

As soon as we arrived on the dock, Adam began the soundtrack of our tour on the island – Rush’s “Tom Saywer”. Which I’m sure is EXACTLY what Disney envisioned as they began developing this attraction.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to snap a picture (or even think to get video) of the Barrel Bridge. It was truly one of my highlights of the Island…or maybe it was Adam’s shock when the barrels became unstable as soon he tried to cross. HILARIOUS!

Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse

One of my most vivid memories from Disney when I was 7 was climbing through the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. I have always loved the movie and remembered the treehouse as being really awesome.

I also don’t remember any other families being around when we went up in it, unfortunately that wasn’t the case when we toured it. It was PACKED, you really couldn’t stop to take in all the elements because there was a steady stream of people right behind you. Nevertheless, we enjoyed it and really liked being in the treetops above the park. I’d definitely climb it again!

The treehouse concluded our tour of the Magic Kingdom, because we had lunch reservations in Germany! But we couldn’t leave the park without the quintessential park picture, could we?

Magic Kingdom Tips:
  • If you get the Unofficial Guide that I recommend in the previous post, follow the plans to the letter. We never had to wait more than a few minutes for any ride because we used it religiously.
  • Need a family portrait with everyone in it? Ask any park photographer hawking the Photo Pass to take your picture with your camera. Not only will you get everyone in your photo, but you won’t have to pay Disney prices to get copies after your trip. Additionally, the photographers are strategically placed throughout the park to get the best background in the shot! I’ll admit we felt a little weird taking advantage of this the first couple of times, but after a few awesome shots we never thought twice about asking and this works in EVERY park!
  • Start early! We got there when the park opened and were able to get in all of our must dos before lunch. Sure, we easily could have spent the entire day there, but since we only had 2 days in the parks we had to cram in what we wanted quick and early.
[More Disney memories to come…]