Music Monday – Spring

It’s spring and nothing puts me in a better mood than driving with an open sunroof listening to good music. I’ve put together a playlist for just this activity and wanted to share it with you. It’s about a random as you’d expect given my love for almost any music with a good beat. Some new, some old – Enjoy!

Advertisements

A Year in Review

Instead of posting my normal Year in Review list I’ve decided to be a bit more long-winded. Humor me, okay?

This past year was almost like a reset for me. In the best sense of the word.

I moved to Austin in late October of 2011 and adjusted to married life – which I LOVE, but I never realized uprooting and acclimating to a new city would take so long.

I had gotten in a funk when we first moved here. I was adjusting (poorly) to working from home and was resentful for a few months that I had been “forced” to move to Longhorn Country.

Living in Adam’s old bachelor pad apartment didn’t help. I’ve told many friends that it felt like a hotel and not a home, I never felt settled. Luckily, we were able to buy our first house and that is what I consider the catalyst to my “reset”.

Once we got settled in our house, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. I could either learn to love this new awesome city I was living in (minus the university just down the road) or be a curmudgeon.I had never been a curmudgeon before – in fact I was usually the exact opposite – so why did I let myself get to that place now?

I learned it took more effort to be unhappy and find negativity in situations and it wasn’t necessarily the most healthy way to go about my day. I was FINALLY married to the love of my life, but I was punishing him because I was being a curmudgeon.

I started doing little things to brighten my day – things I used to love to do. I planted flowers around our yard. I learned to make homemade tortillas. I re-joined Jazzercise. I joined a stitching/fiber arts/knitting group. I hosted parties. I watched the Oscars.

Slowly, I began to feel like my old self and I was happy. Why had I let myself get that dark place when I’m having so much more fun now?

Adam, bless his heart, was amazing. He was patient for this entire year letting me find my place in Austin and our life together. He never became exasperated with my negativity and would force me on occasion to get outside or meet him for lunch. He was truly my saving grace.

This year helped me prioritize my life and my interests. I learned to drop the baggage of unhappiness and find the sun everyday. I learned a smile is the best way to change my attitude and I thank God everyday that I have a husband who can make me belly laugh for hours.

I can be awesome, everyday, and I owe that to myself and to those around me.

Less Traveled

I’m an over thinker to a fault.

It leads to worry and questions of what if.

It’s something I’m trying to be better at.

Because of this, I am always multi-tasking. Always keeping my mind busy so it’s less likely to over-think and lead me down a path of questions and what ifs for which I have no answers. I never allow myself to just be – be in the present and absorbing where I am without distractions.

This weekend changed all of this.

Within 10 minutes of our house is possibly one of the best kept secrets in Austin. A lovely hiking trail and park along a creek. As I was mindlessly following the trails this weekend I chose a path that appeared “less traveled” and in a direction I had never been before. It was scattered with rocks and had roots twisting up through the dirt creating trip hazards. Bordered on each side with thick cacti. I pressed on not knowing what to expect next.

It’s funny that I chose this path. Normally, I’d choose the clear path. The one that had no obstructions and looked totally reliable. Soon the path become a narrow passage through a dry forest of vines and branches, which eventually led to a steep downhill section and followed by a fork in the trail.

To the right, I heard cars speeding by – that would take me back along the road.

To the left, I heard nothing and I knew a creek was close by – I’ll choose that way.

The path continued and soon began to have little offshoots leading into the water. Eventually I ended up here:

I cannot even begin to describe the peace, solitude and contentment that I experienced as soon as I saw this opening. Small calming waterfalls, large dry rocks in the middle of the water to sit and relax on and no one around. The water is shallow enough to take your shoes off and get your feet wet as you wade through to the dry rock or deep enough to get a little swimming action in (as evidenced by the rope swing). The only noise was of the water flowing over the rocks – near complete silence that forced me to just be.

This place quieted my soul and mind in a way I have never experienced before. I was present and free of distraction with nary an over thought in my mind. It was pure bliss and much needed.

I’ve gone back 2 more times since I found this and each time I find myself craving the silence and peace more and more. I never want to leave – but eventually I look down, notice that time has gotten away from me and I head back to reality – refreshed and revitalized.

That trail “less traveled?” Truly made all the difference.

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…]

Walt Disney World: Part 1

In April, Adam and I went to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida to celebrate the wedding of one of my dear college friends and sorority sisters. We spent a whirlwind 2 days in the parks and rode all of our top choice rides, before being guests at a magical wedding and reception that only Disney could deliver.

I spent the weeks leading up to our trip prancing around our house singing “M-I-C-K-E-Y-M-O-U-S-E” and trying to perfect my Donald Duck impression (I failed), while Adam was in charge of logistics for meal reservations so that we would best use our meal plan. Seeing as it was our first adult trip (and Adam’s only trip), we were fairly naive in what to expect and once we opened up our Unofficial Guidebook we became quickly overwhelmed with options. We decided to read up on the to-dos at each park and then made a list of our top preferences in each to maximize our time.

Honestly, I don’t think it’s even possible to maximize your time in Disney, especially when you only have a 2 day park hopper pass, but we gave it our best shot.

We started our first day in the parks at Magic Kingdom. I had fond memories of this park from when I had come to Disney when I was 7. I remembered the Tea Cups, Space Mountain, Cinderella’s Castle, and The Swiss Family Robinson Tree House fondly – so those were high on our “must do” list.

Space Mountain

Thankfully, the extra hour our first day was at Magic Kingdom, so we arrived bright and early that morning to try and beat the masses. According to our guidebook, we should make a beeline for Space Mountain right when the doors open to avoid lines. Beeline we did and were among the first 50 riders that day. After the ride, we agreed that except for the fact that we felt like we would be decapitated at any moment (not a fun feeling mind you), we enjoyed the dips and twists and thrills. Adam added that he “wouldn’t ride it with children because he’d be yelling ‘Oh shit! Oh shit!’ the entire time.”

Cinderella’s Castle

After thanking God that we didn’t lose our heads on Space Mountain we headed towards the tamest part of Magic Kingdom – Cinderella’s Castle. As we got closer I remarked that “it was a whole lot smaller than I remembered it”.

Oh the dashed dreams and memories of my childhood.

It was still beautiful and enchanting but the scale I had in my head was much, much larger than what my eyes saw in real life.

After we exited the castle, I dragged Adam to buy Mouse ears. Oh yes, I did – and we both wore them proudly for the rest of the day.

It’s a Small World

Once our ears were securely placed on our heads, off we went to what many call the most annoying ride in the park. Grabbing a fast pass for Peter Pan along the way. I know I probably made my parents ride this ride several times as a child so it was the least I could do to ride it once with Adam. It was serene and peaceful and would probably be much more enjoyable under the influence.

Nevertheless, being the pansies we are we both really enjoyed the ride, but agreed that it could get old after 2 turns through.

Mad Tea Party

Once “It’s a Small World” was firmly embedded in our head off we went to the tea cups. It was everything I remembered and possibly has a place among my favorite rides. We had a blast taking video and pictures on this ride. Oh, and also making our tea cup spin as fast as possible. I mean, what else are you supposed to do on the Tea Cups? WINNING!

Peter Pan’s Flight

After the Tea Cups, it was time to use our fast pass for Peter Pan. I felt really guilty when we showed up with our fast passes and cut in front of at least 90 folks in line.

I’m weird like that.

Once I got over my guilt (it didn’t take too long) and we stepped on the conveyor belt that matched us up with our ship, I became truly enchanted.  This was easily one of my favorite rides at Disney. I truly felt like I was flying and really loved all the characters that were included throughout our “journey”. Adam, however, probably could’ve done without my rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly” while we were in our private ship on the ride.

[More Disney memories to come…]

Mölkky

Several years ago, I visited Finland with my mother and sister. We had a wonderful time staying with a past exchange student’s mother in the quaint countryside, eating traditional home-cooked meals, braving windy days, and strolling cobblestone streets.

In our downtime, we were introduced to a traditional Finnish game called Mölkky (or, as I like to call it, The Finnish Log Game). The game is simple to play and we quickly became addicted to playing it every night of our stay. Towards the end of our trip, I made it my mission to purchase a version of it to bring back to the states. This game has followed me to every picnic, team outing, beach vacation, retreat, and BBQ I have attended in the last 3 years. It brings out the competitive streak in my most mild-mannered of friends and sometimes leaves us scratching our heads as to how a stick of wood can bounce around a pin mere centimeters away.

This weekend I took my Finnish Log Game to a women’s retreat with the church Adam and I have been attending in Austin, and once again I found lots of people enjoying the game and wanting to play many times over. It reminded me to bring it out hibernation when I’m at home, because I love playing it so much.

As with many games, I’m sure the rules I learned to play by are quite different that the original rules, but who cares when you’re having fun?

And yes, I’m aware that video was filmed in France – not Finland – but it was the most fun representation I could find 🙂

The Hunger Games

Living in Austin definitely has its perks. Especially when it comes to movie theaters – thanks to the Alamo Drafthouse.

It has quickly become another one of my favorite things about Austin. Not only can you watch a movie in a standard theater, but you can get beer, wine and other cocktails delivered right to your seat throughout the movie.

But wait, there’s more!

You can also get your movie munchie of choice delivered right to your seat as well. I’m not talking about your standard candy and popcorn, either. I’m talking burgers, pizzas, salads, wraps, and tons of appetizers. Just be sure to save room for cheesecake – which is also delivered to your seat whenever you decide to have it.

It’s an experience that has truly spoiled me.

In addition to the food and seat service, Alamo also has fun “theme” screenings such as Girlie Night: Dirty Dancing, Action Pack: Jiggy Crunk Singalong (featuring all the catchy 90’s pop rap we love) and Quotealong: Office Space. Could it get any better? I don’t think so.

Yesterday, Adam and I decided to catch a showing of  The Hunger Games. We both really enjoyed the movie and highly recommend it. Rather than write yet another review of the movie and how closely it stayed to the book, how the use of shaky camera shots added drama and the [INSANE] uproar about Rue being black I thought I’d share something that we saw prior to the movie beginning.

Alamo – in addition to all their amazing perks – also has a custom reel set up for each movie instead of the standard previews and ads other movie theaters show. For The Hunger Games, the reel was full of 80s Laser Tag commercials, battle royale themed movie clips, Hamburger Helper parodies and this:

Lana Del Rey’s Hunger Games

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OjnbRv3krA%5D

You’re welcome.

Mayfield = Heaven

This past weekend, Adam and I stumbled upon the Mayfield Park and Preserve in Austin. It’s quite possible it’s Austin’s best kept secret..but now I’m letting the cat out of the bag.

This place is incredible. From its perfectly maintained gardens, to its free-roaming peacocks, to its hiking trails along and across streams; it’s officially my new favorite place in Austin.

After the torrential downpour Austin experienced Monday evening and early Tuesday morning, Adam and I decided that later this week would be the perfect time to re-visit Mayfield and hike the trails. Camera in tow.

Wow. I just thought the garden area of the park was gorgeous. But these trails? Some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. It was a total escape and you truly felt like you weren’t in the middle of a large city.

Texas Bluebonnets were in perfect harmony next to the rugged cacti that could be found throughout the park.

And, if you’re patient enough (or, like us, time it just right) you might just catch the peacock showing their full colors.

I’m certain that we will become regular visitors of this hidden Austin gem.

Shake your tail feathers.

Lucky.

That’s the word continually running through my head right now.

20110526-103328.jpg

Just before midnight on May 24, 2010 Adam’s parents’ home was destroyed by an EF3 tornado. Their home for 30+ years. The home where he and his brothers were raised.

His parents were asleep when the storm was about to hit. They woke up with only enough time to ride the storm out in the floor between their closet and bed. They escaped with minor scrapes and bruising. It could have been much worse.

20110526-103422.jpg

They are lucky they are alive. God was certainly watching over them and I praise him for his mercy.

Lucky they have been able to salvage family photos and other sentimental items.

Lucky they have friends, family and neighbors sacrificing their time to help them however the need it: sorting through the rubble, doing laundry, cutting up trees to get into the 2 hardest hit areas of their house (the kitchen and living room) which are mere crawl spaces now, and showering them with food and supplies.

Lucky their vehicles and farm equipment, for the most part, sustained minor damage and are all still drivable.

Lucky almost all of their clothing has been salvaged. (Including almost all of Adam’s mom shoes)

20110526-103447.jpg

Lucky that most (if not all) of the antique turquoise FiestaWare Adam’s mom had hung above the kitchen table survived. Unbroken. (The fate of the table appears positive as well)

Lucky that her KitchenAid mixer is a-okay.

Lucky that their liquor escaped unscathed.

Despite the destruction and scary realization that they must rebuild and start anew, Adam’s parents are incredibly blessed right now. It could have been worse. Much worse. They are alive and that is something for which I thank God.

20110526-103706.jpg

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Last night, along with some co-workers, I went to the Grace Potter concert at the Rev Room. I had recently become a fan of hers thanks to a rocking Jazzercise set, so when I found out that she would be in Little Rock last week I was stoked at the possibility of seeing her live. I introduced her videos to my co-workers and they were sold. We were going.

She strutted on stage wearing a gold lamé mini-dress which showed off killer Tina Turner-esque legs that I long for. Accompanied by an incredible band, she put on a great show. Rocking out in all the right places, slowing it down for only two songs and picking it right back up flawlessly. She is a true talent and a joy to watch on stage. I know her popularity will explode very soon and I highly recommend seeing her and her band live if the opportunity presents itself!

Since there’s not not enough words to accurately describe just how incredibly talented she is, take a look at these videos – not recorded from last night, but almost exactly the same as what I saw live.

Medicine

cover of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit

Dallas: Final Reflections

I’ll be the first to admit that I was a bit nervous about going on a weekend trip with someone I met on Twitter over a year ago, later friended on Facebook, and spent a collective three, maybe four, IRL (In Real Life) hours with. I mean, I knew we shared a similar sense of sarcastic humor and neither one of us take ourselves too seriously; we both just go with the flow. At least, that’s what I gathered from our Twitter and Facebook statuses. So I hoped for the best, and had a slight fear of the worst.

Why was I worried? Because we are so.much.alike.

We have blogged simultaneously, have unknowingly (well, until one of us posts it on Facebook) listened to the same song at the same time and share an affinity for Anthropologie. Maybe our strong similarities would be too much. Maybe halfway to Dallas I’d want to jump ship…because someone’s driving on the shoulder.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

Except for the shoulder part.

We had a blast! We laughed and gabbed the whole trip. We found even more similarities between us, such as our love for vintage signage, vintage furniture, the houses of Highland Park, Italian food and perfectly tailored designer clothing works of art we can’t afford.

It almost felt like we were old friends. Jen Lancaster even asked if we were sisters. We just meshed. As far as I know, I didn’t get on her nerves – I mean, she’s still texting me – and she sure as heck didn’t get on mine.

So I guess the moral of this trip is that you really CAN become IRL friends through Twitter. Who’d a thunk it?

And Noelle? Thanks to your super cute Jen Lancaster approved skirt and shorts, you’ve now made me OBSESSED with bold print skirts and shorts.

(yeah, we’ve got that in common, too)

Up in SMOKE

Day 3

[click here to see Day 1]

[click here to see Day 2]

For me, the highlight of our trip to the “Big D” was a happy accident. On a whim, and at the recommendation of one of Noelle’s friends, we drove over to North Oak Cliff in Dallas to have brunch at SMOKE. We didn’t know much about the restaurant, except that their pancakes were to die for.

Well, lemme tell you. Only three little words can describe the meal I had.

Oh.My.Gawd!

As soon as Noelle pulled into the parking lot I had a feeling we were in for a treat. I immediately felt transported to another era, because SMOKE is a part of the adjacent vintage motor-lodge The Belmont Hotel. As such, the architecture was spectacular and the scenery breathtaking. It also didn’t hurt that the aroma in the air was scrumptious. My mouth was watering even before we stepped foot in the door.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I entered the restaurant, but what I opened the door to was a pleasant surprise. In a word, the restaurant was Texas. It was perfectly decorated with everything you’ve ever associated with Texas style – casual, vintage, cozy, and stylish. Plus, when the hostess seating you is wearing slightly torn jeans and boots, you know you’ve picked the right spot. It was? Impeccable.

We were seated next to the fireplace at a table for two and immediately eyed drinks we had to try. Noelle picked the Bluebonnet – a mixology she’s STILL combing the Internet for – and I chose The Icepick – which contained my favorite Sweet Tea Vodka in the world. Hands down, it was the best cocktail I have ever tasted: citrusy, southern and refreshing. I can’t wait to recreate it at home this summer.

As we looked over the menu, Noelle decided to go with the recommendation of her friend and ordered the pancakes, while I decided to try out their made to order omelet. I’ll let Noelle speak to her dish, but as far as omelets go, this was the best I’ve ever had. The fluffy eggs were stuffed with spinach, cheddar cheese, tomatoes and pork andouille shredded sausage. Additionally, my omelet was served with a side salad tossed in SMOKE’s own Radish Vinaigrette dressing, which I could easily have drank by the gallon. It was THAT good.

We both also ordered a biscuit and side of bacon. May I just say that this biscuit was the biggest biscuit I have ever seen, and I enjoyed every.last.bite. Additionally, the bacon? Oh, the BACON. It was at least a quarter inch thick, cooked and seasoned to perfection – I’m talking better than Petit Jean perfection (Arkansans, please don’t disown me) and caused me to feel guilty for not being able to finish my serving – I barely ate one piece! I even joked that we should take what bacon we didn’t eat to go and enjoy on the way back to Arkansas. Thanks to the bacon, our relationship came full circle at SMOKE.

Biggest.Biscuit.Ever.

Thickest and Tastiest Pork Belly Bacon Ever.

After stuffing ourselves to the brim at SMOKE, we decided to walk around the grounds of the Belmont Hotel. It literally felt like an alternate universe there. The vibe felt very Palm Springs and I even commented that I felt like I was at The Parker [based on my limited knowledge thanks to Bravo]. We walked up the hill from SMOKE to the lobby entrance and there it was: a pristine vintage Thunderbird convertible. I was in Heaven.

Then? I entered the hotel lobby and saw the stairs. The tile-trimmed stairs. My heart skipped a beat, or 10.

As I rounded the corner of the lobby, meandered through the bar, and walked out on the back patio I encountered what I have declared the most perfect view of the Dallas skyline on this trip. Though, sadly, this picture doesn’t it do the view justice – blame the photographer [aka moi]. Just pretend the skyline continues out to the right of this picture and imagine yourself sitting on the patio, sipping an Icepick and reading Jen Lancaster’s latest book. Stopping occasionally to take in the perfectly overgrown yet maintained flowerbeds, colorful mosaic walkway and the idyllic Dallas skyline in a single glimpse. I can’t wait to go back.

Then we walked down the stairs off the patio and back up to the top of the hill, where more rooms were located, each turn and incline leading to a more incredible view than the last and each step begging me never to leave. The perfectly unadorned architecture continued throughout with pops of vibrant colors appearing in outdoor furniture and hotel room doors.

Then we reached the pool. I have no words and I’ve run out of adjectives so I’ll let these pictures do the talking…

Unfortunately, we realized that we  eventually had to head back to reality and decided to begin our short trek back to the car. After we passed the final Bar Belmont sign, I knew this weekend of complete perfection was quickly coming to an end.

We had only two more stops to make: We Are 1976 and Sprinkles. Or, at least we thought we did, until we saw this:

The yard of this pepto-colored house was jumbled with all types of vintage chairs and we just had to make the block and see what was inside. Turns out the house appears to be under the ownership of four very nice Hispanic men, all of whom appeared to be straight as the day is long and share a common bond in refinishing diamonds in the rough. Every style and condition of vintage chair could be found in this house, along with a plethora of fantastic fabric options and paint finishes. If only I had a house to decorate.

One day, right Adam? 🙂

Final Reflections post to come…