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.

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Our First Cookie Exchange

Santa Senna

Santa Senna helped us get ready

I’ve always wanted to host a holiday party, one that might become a tradition, and since we bought a house now’s as good a time as any to give it a go, right?

We brainstormed and decided since Adam and I both have a sweet tooth, we’d host a cookie exchange and that’s where this story begins.

About 3 weeks earlier, we sent out Paperless Post invites and started planning. I researched exchanges and swaps online and defined our “guidelines” based on what I read.

Several blogs I read recommended having each guest/family bring 7 – 11 DOZEN cookies each. We thought that was a bit extreme and went with an even 4 dozen per couple/family/friend. As guests arrived we had them grab a number off the table to label their cookies. These numbers would be used in the competition later – yes, we competed. Isn’t that what life’s about?

Guests ate, drank, and were exceedingly merry before we busted into the cookie sampling.

DSC_7761

B is for…

We had sugar cookies, chocolate chip varieties, bars, brownies, and more to sample before judging our favorites. The most festive and best tasting cookies were given prizes and bragging rights until next year.

DSC_7736

Most Festive

DSC_7742

Best Tasting

After everyone got their cookie induced sugar coma on, we had them fill boxes with their favorite cookies to take home and enjoy throughout the holiday season!

It was a wonderfully festive evening but since it was our first exchange we’ve made note of a few things we’d change for next year:

  • 4 dozen cookies per family/guest is waay too many, our house looked like Cookie Monster threw up in it, not that that’s a bad thing. (I can’t even begin to imagine the leftovers if everyone brought 10 dozen each) Next year we’ll have guests bring 2 dozen each.
  • Full size cookies were a bit too much for guests to sample everything everyone brought. Next year we’ll ask guests to bring bite size cookies or provide utensils for them to cut cookies into smaller pieces.

See? Cookie Monster.

Ultimately, our first cookie exchange was a success – we had a blast hosting it and learned that our house is PERFECT for entertaining. Which is great because we hope to host many more parties in the future.

Thrift Store Makeovers

It was a happy accident, really.

We innocently bought a $10 gold framed oval mirror at Top Drawer, my favorite thrift store in Austin, about a month ago. I had every intention to repaint it gray/silver and put it in our bedroom, because we seriously needed a mirror in there. Weeks went by and it sat in the entry of our apartment untouched.

Mirror Before

Then I had an idea, paint it white since all the frames throughout our apartment are white – that way it would be easy to place in any room. Off we went to Treehouse, our favorite hardware store in Austin, to buy some paint. Once we got there, I was instantly drawn to the bold, bright colors rather than the 25 shades of white. That’s when I decided to buy yellow paint which appeared to be an exact match to the pillows on our bed. Our walls needed a pop of color, plus it’s only paint – if we hate it we can repaint it, right?

After I grabbed the paint sample I wanted, I was then drawn to a chartreuse color I adored. I insisted that we get a small batch of it, maybe I good do some detailing with it around the mirror. Off we went to checkout and get our paint mixed. As our paint was getting mixed, I thumbed through the mistints that you could purchase for $10/gallon. I squealed when I saw the “Eggshell” shade and insisted we buy it, even though we live in an apartment with no walls to paint. I’d eventually have a need for it right?

After we checked out, I convinced Adam to make a stop at Top Drawer just to see what they had – besides their world famous Trannequins. We walked in and it didn’t appear like that had any new pieces since our last visit, then I got closer to the register and saw a sewing chair, with perfect bones, for $12! SOLD!

chair before

I knew immediately what I wanted to do with it, which would include the eggshell mistint paint. We loaded the chair into our car and headed to JoAnn to buy fabric. Originally, I wanted to use a chevron print for the chair, but they didn’t have any. I was cluelessly roaming the aisles when I came upon a coral orange print and had to have it. Plus it was deeply discounted. SCORE!

We got home and laid paper on our back deck and got ready to give these finds makeovers. We took the cushions off the chair and removed the glass from the mirror before Adam insisted we sand them, twice, before we began painting. So while he was sanding, I started working on the cushions. Taking off 2 layers of fabric to get to the original:

Original Fabric

and then finding that we have something in common. We’re both from Arkansas!

cushion

It took a good hour of pulling nails and staples to get the fabric off before I could begin covering with the new fabric. I used the old pieces of fabric as a pattern to cut out the new fabric. Then I lined the fabric on the chair and made sure I liked the placement of the pattern before stapling. I started by putting a staple in the center on the bottom and then a staple on either side of the center staple. Then I put a staple in the center of the top, pulling the fabric taught as I went, before doing a staple on either side. I repeated this process until all sides were completed. My staples were a little longer than I needed, so I had to hammer then to make them smooth. After this, it was time to work on the corners. It took creative folding, stapling, and fabric tension, to get smooth corners like I want. Plus a hammered fingernail. Which, by the way, HOLY OUCH!

Finally, the fabric was stretched over the old cushions and the furniture as sanded and ready to be primed. We took our time priming 2 light layers on the chair and mirror then let it get good and dry for a few hours before applying our first coats of color. The mirror took much more paint than the chair, but after a day and a half of painting, drying, painting and drying, it was finally done.

The chair took a bit more time. Remember that chartreuse paint I bought? Adam suggested that we use it to make the insets on the chair “pop”. This involved taking painters tape and applying it around the narrow insets to protect the main paint, then liberally applying the chartreuse to a brush and slathering it into the insets – being careful not to get any on the main color. As an added precaution, after liberally applying an inset with the paint, I took a dry paper towel and wiped away any excess paint to prevent pooling under the tape. After a hour or so of this process the insets were completed and we just had a few touchup spots of the main color that needed to be painted. Once it was completely dry (which was the longest period of time in my life) we attached the cushions!

Gah!! I loved how it turned out. Here’s a closeup of the inset detailing:

 Here’s another before and after picture:

And here’s how they looked once we put them in our bedroom.

I love how everything turned out and how cheery it made the room feel!

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 🙂

Year in Review

Well, it’s that time of year again. Time for my annual year in review post. Let’s see what’s changed in my life in the past year, shall we?

You may see previous year in review posts here: 2011 | 2010


  • 2011: I’m sooo over drivers who drive slower than the posted speed. 10 in a 30 is not ok, but thanks for finally getting out of my way.
    2012: I’m not adjusted to the CRAZY traffic in Austin. Between the rush hour parking lots and the folks who don’t know how to drive it’s annoying.
  • 2011: I’m obsessed with the gorgeous clipart from pugly pixel! You’ll find that a lot of them are used throughout my blog 🙂
    2012: Still obsessed. But as I was planning my wedding, I found out about Wedding Chicks and their free downloads. Ummmm….lifesaver! I used several of them to design my own paper details for our big day.
  • 2011: I received an iPad for Christmas (Thanks, Adam!). I now drift off into dreamland playing Mahjong.
    2012: I received a nice upgrade to my work computer this year. It’s made my life sooooo much better. Who knew Captivate could actually run without crashing?
  • 2011:  What [American Idol] season is it this year?
    2012: Idol is old news. I’m counting down the weeks until the premiere of a new season of “So You Think You Can Dance”.
  • 2011: Ellen never fails to make me laugh, then cry, then laugh again as I watch her talk show.
    2012: Thanks to Ellen, I am now enamored by adorable little Sophia Grace Brownlee:
[youtube:http://youtu.be/0gmmRUqgsg4%5D
  • 2011:  Umm, “OMG” was just added to the Oxford Dictionary. I feel like everything I learned in English class was a lie.
    2012: This year, in dispute with everything I ever learned in English class, the Oxford comma was dropped. I feel like my whole life has been a lie. This poster summarizes exactly why this is so wrong:

  • 2011: Does anyone else see something wrong with Jim and Alexis’ relationship or is it just me? So. Wrong. Give her a voice and get your own dang orange juice, puh-lease.
    2012: Why can’t I convince Adam that the Real Housewives franchise is a legitimate television series?
  • 2011:  In a little over 6.5 months we will be married! And living in the same zipcode – yet to be determined.
    2012: Our zipcode was determined. I became an inhabitant of Texas. Lesson? Never say never when love is involved.
  • 2011:  The iPad is the single greatest invention ever. It’s practically attached to my hip when I’m at home. Is there anything it can’t do?
    2012: The App “Paper” is incredible, it’s literally like having an easel at your fingertips.
  • 2011:  In case you haven’t noticed, I’m obsessed with Jazzercise so much that it’s been mentioned on my blog at least 7 times. I will stop you in the street and tell you about it, if you’ll let me. LOVE. IT!
    2012: Honestly? I haven’t been to a Jazzercise class since January. The traffic to the nearest studio is so crazy that my drive time is just as long as my class time, which ends up equalling around 2 hrs. Instead, I’ve found a new exercise regimen in Yoga. I’ve developed a bit of a home practice and on occasion Adam  and I will catch a Vinyasa class at Black Swan downtown.
  • 2011:  Try as I might to not get sucked into the addiction that is Twitter, I’ve failed. And I sometimes clog my followers feeds with senseless live tweets for pageants, award shows and documentaries about ferrets. Truly sorry, y’all!
    2012: For some reason, I’ve kinda fallen off the Twitter world in the past month. I desperately want to get back in – I feel so disconnected – but something about only so many hours in the day…
  • 2011:  The Social Network was the best movie of the last year hands down. I wonder how many of the applications and games Zuckerberg uses on his profile and if he’s one of those every 5 minute updaters?
    2012:  The Hunger Games was incredible and ended up being a great date night movie. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that we saw it at Alamo Drafthouse. I think any movie seen there ends up being incredible.
  • 2011:  Gelato for ZAZA makes me happy, especially Honey Yogurt.
    2012: I long for ZAZA. At least once a week Adam and I crave their salads, but alas an 8 hour drive keeps us from giving into our craving. Of course, after I move they develop the gelato I suggested: Nutella.
  • 2011: Why have I not seen “Gone with the Wind”? <—Still true
    2012: Who cares? Thanks to Netflix I’ve developed quite the interest in documentary films. Some of my favorites? The Cove and Bill Cunningham New York. I’m also looking forward to seeing Girl Model when it comes out.
  • 2011:  A day without Jazzercise most often leads to a less perky version of myself. Need. It.
    2012: Well, I’ve had many days without Jazzercise and, while I think this is true to an extent, Yoga has helped me maintain a perky disposition.
  • 2011:  Still true, but I’m basking in my solo life since it will soon be coming to an end. Then I get to annoy Adam every. single. day. with my perkiness, random thoughts, and Bravo reality shows!! I know he’s excited.
    2012: No longer single, but instead happily married and I’m living the dream as stated above. Life is wonderful!
  • 2011:  Did you hear? Fanny packs are coming back. Which reminds me of the neon green one I wore on family vacations in the early 90s. I think it had “Marlboro” or some other brand of cigarette written across the front. My dad was a grocer and I was the walking underage billboard for cigarettes. [No one in my family smokes]
    2012: In just under 2 weeks we’ll be going to DISNEY WORLD!!! I looked high and low for a bag that in no way resembled a fanny pack for this trip. Lucky for me I found the perfect cross-body purse, it’s by pure coincidence that it’s green.
  • 2011:  Did I mention I’m getting MARRIED in October?!?! CAN. NOT. WAIT!
    2012: October came and went with a wedding. A wonderful celebration with family and friends followed by a perfect honeymoon full of wine and relaxation. I’m so incredibly blessed!

Glorious Junk

One of the nice things about living in Austin is the individuality that you find. Whether it be walking down the street, taking in Christmas lights or just exploring new neighborhoods while aimlessly driving. You really never know what to expect.

This weekend my friend Sarah visited us from Arkansas and we took the opportunity to visit The Cathedral of Junk. A guy started the project back 1988 in his backyard as a way to have fun and build his version of a clubhouse. Since then, it’s become a 3 story tall structure made entirely of junkyard finds and it’s still in his backyard.

He estimates that it contains over 60 tons of junk. Yep, 60 TONS – most of which people brought to him.

Full of lawnmower wheels, car bumpers, kitchen utensils, ladders, cables, bottles, circuit boards, bicycle parts, old AOL installation CD-ROMs, and anything else you could possibly imagine it’s quite impressive and beautiful – in that weirdly awesome Austin way.

It’s a true Austin treasure and one that I’m certain we’ll be visiting again – especially when we have visitors.

Napa Valley Honeymoon

The morning after our wedding we hailed a cab, which had just dropped off Joe Jackson at a nearby IHOP (For real. A friend who was randomly at the same IHOP vouched that he was there) and headed to the airport. Apparently, Mr. Jackson was craving pecans and didn’t tip the cabbie.

I digress…

Our honeymoon took us to Napa Valley, where we holed up for 5 days at The Cottages of Napa Valley, eating, drinking, and generally being married.

Cottages at Napa Valley

I had a small weight gain during the trip, which I attribute to the daily pastry baskets which were discreetly delivered to our doorstep each morning. They looked something like this:

pastry basket

Our first full day in the valley took us to Sonoma. I absolutely adored their quaint downtown area full of locally owned boutiques, museums and tasting bars. On this day we also had a stroke of amazing luck. We drove by a little hole in the wall restaurant called Schellville Grill and decided to stop for lunch. Turns out, Guy Fieri has featured it on the Food Network. I opted for a salad while Adam enjoyed a sandwich. After our meal, we paid (including a tip, don’t call us Mr. Jackson) and headed to our car. That’s when “Uncle Bob” ran over to greet us from his Prius.

Uncle Bob: Are you folks wine tasting today?

Adam: Yes sir! We’re on our honeymoon and just getting started for the day.

Uncle Bob: Congratulations! You should make a stop at Ravenswood. Take my card and tell them Uncle Bob sent you.

Adam: Thanks so much, we’ll be sure to check them out.

Me: So nice to meet you! Have a good day.

We went our separate ways and as we were pulling out of the parking lot, I looked at the card and saw that it was not only Uncle Bob’s business card, but handwritten on the back was 2 free tastings courtesy of him. Typically in Napa Valley you pay anywhere from $10 – $25 per tasting, some wineries let you split tastings, but not many. Thanks to Uncle Bob we saved $30…and used our savings to buy the best Moscato either of us have ever tasted. We’d have never gone to Ravenswood if not for Uncle Bob.

Kaz Winery was also an off-the-beaten path find for us. When we passed the painted wine barrels at the entrance? Adam made a U-turn. Thank goodness for that. Kaz was an understated, no frills winery and had a metal chicken greeting guests at the front door. Though they specialized in dry wines, I was entertained by their random assortment of 80s vinyl while Adam sampled wine. He even got to cork his own bottle!

Sonoma

Day 3 is better known as the day Adam tried to kill me. Ok, not really, but it sure felt like it – and it was my own fault. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Adam’s an avid cyclist. Me? Notsomuch.
  • Adam wanted to rent a tandem bike in Yountville and, being the head over heels in love new wife that I was, I cautiously agreed.
  • Adam wanted us to ride a short 14 mile loop and promised we’d stop at wineries that look appealing along the way.
  • Adam and I are both 6’2″. The back seat of a tandem is not built for a 6’2″ person, so I got to ride for 14 miles with my mid-thighs on a bike seat.
  • Adam failed to mention…err, remind me…that cycling typically means you ride on highway shoulders as cars zip past you at the marked speed limit, or faster. Including large trucks.

Let’s just say I freaked. out.

And could barely walk for a day and a half after the ride.

But hey, we got some good pictures.

Winning.

Day 4 was our last day in the Valley and we made the most of it. We woke up early and headed north. It’s safe to say I drank tasted more wine that day than I have in my entire life. I was quite the cool cucumber.

We walked into a castle, but decided to save our tasting money for a winery up the road we had heard a lot about, Sterling Vineyards. We splurged at this winery, getting the full package for tasting which included an additional 3 tastings after the winery tour – for a total of 7 tastings. All were fantastic, but the highlight of this winery for me was the gondola ride from the parking lot to the winery. It was so serene and beautiful.

Chateau Montelana was also a highlight for us, as we had just watched the movie about it on Netflix in our cottage the night before. The grounds of the Chateau were absolutely breathtaking.

We ended our last day in Napa Valley with dinner at Bottega. We shared our first risotto and indulged in some amazing truffle-parmigiano fries. Adam ordered “Smoked & Braised Natural Short Ribs” with a whole grain mustard spaetzle, Sicilian pickles, quince paste & smokey horseradish jus, while I ordered the “Forno Roasted Chicken Breast” with “Marsala” sautéed forest mushrooms, marinated grilled onions, truffle honey and sherry vinaigrette. Both dishes were exceptional and at the end of the meal our waiter convinced us to order the house chocolate “cake” that wasn’t listed on the menu. It. Was. Phenomenal.

Our final full day in California took us back to San Francisco, with a slight detour thanks to Adam. Turns out Highway 1 is Adam’s dream road. At least in the US.

My hubby is a HUGE Top Gear fan and took this opportunity to channel his inner Stig. Let’s just say I have never seen him so chipper and filled with glee than I did while he was driving on Highway 1. Meanwhile, I was busy saying “OOOHHH! Pull over, I need to get a picture” or “OMG!!! REAL SEALS!!! IN. THE. WILD!!”

Highway 1 was incredible and I think Adam summed up the scenery best when he said, “This is proof God exists.” I have to agree, as I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Mid-way down Highway 1, I mention that I’m feeling a bit hungry and since it was almost time for lunch, Adam informs me that he already scoped out a place for us to eat in Bolinas. Unbeknownst to me, Bolinas is costal community known for its reclusive residents – I’d call them full out hippies, but that might not be PC – who TEAR DOWN any sign providing directions into their unincorporated community.

Thanks to Adam, we managed to find the town just fine.

I think the status I posted to Facebook as we were entering the “downtown area” sums up my feelings perfectly:

I have officially never felt more out of place wearing J Crew than I did when Adam pulled up in front of a “think globally eat locally” cafe for lunch in a very hippie “socially acknowledged nature loving town” called Bolinas. Needless to say, he loves me so much he didn’t make me get out of the car.

And it’s true, I was so scared of what the hippies reclusive residents might do to me that I refused to get out of the car for lunch.

It was a wonderful trip and was exactly the relaxation we wanted after the hustle and bustle from our wedding festivities. Now I just have to figure out when we can go back – I miss our cottage…and the wine.

Halloween Honeymoon Horror

Yep, I’m officially a married woman – the wedding and honeymoon were absolutely perfect, and I plan to share a series of posts about them in the near future. Literally, I’ll be writing a series of posts, because I never want to forget certain moments or details from my wedding weekend.

Adam and I returned from a picture perfect honeymoon exploring Napa Valley, CA to a weekend of packing up my apartment in preparation for my move to Austin, TX.

Yeah, you read right – I’m becoming a Texan and moving to Longhorn Country. Last I checked, the world is still spinning.

Sunday, Adam headed back to Texas to clean and make room for my stuff to be moved in this weekend. When he arrived back at his apartment he called and told me that he was “perplexed” because his kitchen was in disarray. His blinds had been ripped to shreds, his desk area was disheveled and there were black spots everywhere.

Growing up in an old house, my immediate thought is a bird somehow got in while he was gone for the wedding and honeymoon. He’ll just need to find it and throw it away. Unfortunately, according to his stellar shit observation skills, he determines these droppings are not the kind most commonly associated with birds.

Ok, then. What is the culprit?

A mouse. He tells me he has had a mouse destroy his kitchen.

I’m immediately all, “I’m not moving to TEXAS to work FROM HOME with MICE!!!!” Seriously, little mice co-workers running beneath my feet throughout the day? No thank you. The move to Texas? Is off. For reals.

He tries to console me in a somewhat stressed voice, “Don’t worry my sweets, I’m headed to Wal-Mart to buy extermination supplies and will have this solved before moving you in Saturday. I promise, there will not be mice in my apartment by the time you arrive.”

Adam goes to Wal-Mart to buy supplies in Texas while I’m back on my couch in Arkansas procrastinating packing, reading blog posts about unwelcome guests and putting myself in her shoes. It’s not a good image in my head – I can assure you of that.

He calls when he gets back home to tell me he’s identified the “Bait”. His cycling energy bars that were left unopened on the kitchen counter. This is good, right? Never leave energy bars on the countertop. Lesson learned. Now let’s trap this mouse. Pronto!

He hangs up and spends the next 30 minutes cleaning and disposing of all food and other ruined items in his kitchen and desk area. Then calls with an update.

“Megan. It’s not a mouse.”

“It’s not?”

“No. I’m a little freaked right now”

“Why?”

“There’s a squirrel in one of the wedding gift bags.”

My first response is “WHAT?! Which bag? Are the gifts* okay?”

My second response is “YAY!!! NO MICE!!!”

My third response is “Is it dead?”

Adam responds, “I’m not sure. I’m gonna kick the bag.”

I wait…

“Ok, the squirrel didn’t move but I’m still afraid I might get attacked by it. What else should I do?”

This is when I suggest he take a broom and push the bag across the floor. He does so, deems the squirrel “dead as a doornail”, uses a garbage bag to pick the squirrel up and places it on his balcony as evidence for the apartment manager Monday.

Here’s the crazy part: No one has entered Adam’s apartment in 10 days. All of the doors and windows were shut and locked and the dryer vent appears to be properly connected.

In other words, there is no sign of forced squirrel entry.

But hey, at least I’ll have a really clean new kitchen to use once I get moved to Austin.

*No wedding gifts were harmed in this story

Tailgate [Dis]Agreement

Full disclosure? It’s rare that Adam and I don’t see eye to eye about something, I guess we’re lucky in that regard. But this week? Notsomuch.

You see, we are huge Razorback fans and  have a shared dream of a tailgating vehicle. Originally our dream was to find an old University of Arkansas Transit bus or school bus, but given the difficult game parking scenarios on campus – not to mention the gas bill – we have decided to forgo that option. For now.

Since this realization, we have been brainstorming other ideas. First, I thought we could convert an old VW Bus. I had the whole plan in my head, it was going to be amazing. That is, until Adam’s brother reminded us that they are rear engine and crushed my dreams.

Then, I had the idea to save up and buy one of those pimped out Ultimate Tailgater trailers. I mean, have you seen these things?

They smoke your BBQ. While. You. Drive. For serious. And they come with 3 TVs, surround sound, refrigerator/freezer, taps for beer and soft drinks, and much more. It’s PERFECT. However, the price tag deters us. As do the university tailgating restrictions for our parking lot. But it’s ok, there are other options, right?

According to Adam, YES!

We could buy an ambulance and convert it to the “Razorback Fanbulance”. In theory it’s perfect. You can buy used ambulances for next to nothing on eBay – I’m talking $255 and they already have a/c power adapters so we can sink the majority of the budget into tech-ing it out (him) and making it super cute (me). There’s only one problem with this vehicle: most likely someone DIED there.

Adam isn’t convinced though, as he responded, “They probably would appreciate you partying in the ambulance. Joy out of heartache.”

Responses like this will become my forever in one month.

Or, we could buy a 15 passenger van and take out the bench seating. Build a party deck on top and attach a grill to the back end. Put a little seating inside and install  TVs on either side. He was so excited about the party deck that I called him a frat boy and he immediately began to pop his collar.

Someone please help. I need ideas. Ones that don’t involve death or wannabe frat boy dreams…

And if we choose yours? You’ll get invited to the first official tailgate in our dream tailgating machine.

Until this gets resolved we’ll be picking up pizza and tailgating from a Coleman folding picnic table – like amateurs. Woo Pig Sooie!

Let the Music Play 2.0

Happy Fourth of July!!!

This weekend was a time of road trips, cookouts, laughter, humidity, buying wedding bands and being us. There was also a little dinner meeting of our parents – wherein I learned a secret about Adam and his family.  It was low-key and perfect, even if Adam had to drive back to Texas today…

Oh well, his loss, as I’ve spent the afternoon watching DVRed episodes of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and cross stitching a sampler for our home. I know he’s jealous.

I also spent today reflecting a bit on my blog. It was during this reflection that I realized it was time for my traditional “30 songs” post. For this post, I put my iTunes library on shuffle and then [stupidly] tell you the songs that play. You may click here for last year’s post.

I’ve told you before that my taste in music is schizophrenic, so let’s see just how random it is this year!

  1. Breakout – Swing Out Sisters. Am I the only person who thought this was Gloria Estefan? Shamefully, I admit I just realized it’s not.
  2. Speak Like a Child – The Style Council. This is 80s pop music at its finest. This song is like candy.
  3. So Lady – Mary J. Blige. I looooove Mary J. Her songs always have a great beat and you can always count on her vocals to be spot on.
  4. I’ll Never Be – Reel Big Fish. You can thank Adam for this one, he insisted I put Reel Big Fish in my library earlier this year. Truth be told, they aren’t that bad – in fact, I might kind of like them…
  5. Irresistible Delicious – Missy Elliott. I’ve loved Missy Elliot ever since high school. I remember wearing out her Miss E…So Addictive album while driving around town in my Jeep Liberty with the windows down during the summer of 2002.
  6. Rumors – Timex Social Club. When I rediscovered this song a little over a year ago I cannot stop jamming to it EVERY. TIME. IT. PLAYS. Have I mentioned I’m a hip hop fan?
  7. Straight Up – Paula Abdul. And then the cat gets let out of the bag. Yes, I have a Paula Abdul song in my iTunes library. In fact, I own every single one of her albums and I’m not at all ashamed.
  8. I’ll Be Doggone – Marvin Gaye. R&B music is the most versatile genre out there. You can dance to it, you can chill to it, you can cook to it and you can drive down scenic highways while it plays in your car. Marvin Gaye delivers every. single. time.
  9. Missing You – John Waite. 80s. Enough said.
  10. I Can’t Wait – Nu Shooz. Yet another hip hop/pop tune from the 80s. Are you sensing a theme yet?
  11. Better be Good to Me – Tina Turner. I would give anything for her legs. Seriously.
  12. Blame it on My Youth – Jamie Cullum. I will take Jamie Cullum over Michael Buble any day of the week. If you haven’t ever heard of him or his music, YouTube him immediately. You’ll thank me and I’ll say, “You’re welcome”. And thus will begin our mutual appreciation of Jamie Cullum.
  13. Graceland – Paul Simon. I was raised on Paul Simon. I will forever be grateful for this.
  14. I’m a Believer – The Monkees. I was also raised on oldies like this. Many a summer vacations were spent stuck in a van [or suburban] being forced to listen to these songs. Now, I’m glad I was – they just don’t make music like they used to. (For the record, I’m 27 not 72)
  15. 1, 2, 3 – Gloria Estefan & the Miami Sound Machine. Gloria is my go to karaoke artist. Speaking of which, it’s been over a year since I’ve sung karaoke. Who wants to go??
  16. A Fifth of Beethoven – Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band. Yes, I have 70s remixes of classical pieces in my iTunes library. You don’t?
  17. Heavy Traffic – Elton John. After seeing him live in concert with my sister, I appreciate Elton even more than ever before. He’s a legend, an entertainer and a chameleon. Plus, who can’t resist a guy behind the piano decked out in bedazzled jackets?
  18. Get Up! (Before the Night is Over) – Technotronic. Early 90s dance music = it’s how I clean my apartment.
  19. My Guy – Mary Wells. Every time I hear this song I think of “Sister Act” and sing “My God”. It’s a classic.
  20. Hole in My Life – The Police. Favorite! Band! Of! All! Time!!!
  21. Hate on Me – Jill Scott. After a rough day at work, I get in my car, roll down my windows, open the sunroof and BLAST this as a I drive home. I may or may not also sing along at the top of my lungs. Oh, who am I kidding? I SO sing along. Works. Like. A. Charm.
  22. It Takes Two – Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock. Another 90s dance track – for use when cleaning my apartment.
  23. Joseph’s Dreams – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. After seeing this musical over 4 times, and being of the children’s choir in middle school, it’s safe to say it’s in my Top 5 favorite musicals. I know every word to every song, and I’m close to knowing the choreography too.
  24. Elenore – The Turtles. Another oldie from my childhood. Thanks Mom and Dad for showing Maddie and me what real music sounds like.
  25. It’s Not Right, But It’s Ok – Whitney Houston. In her heyday, she could not be touched. As far as I’m concerned she’s still on top of the pack when compared to most everyone who has followed her.
  26. Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat) – Digable Planets. Old school hip hop delivers yet again.
  27. All Day – Lisa Loeb. Ever since the summers of my childhood, when I listened to her cassette tapes in my Walkman while reading The Boxcar Children, I have loved Lisa and the simplicity she has in her music. It’s like medicine to me.
  28. You Got Yr Cherry Bomb – SPOON. Another band I’m thankful Adam introduced me to – or rather informed me that they had good songs other than I Turn My Camera On.
  29. Overkill – Men At Work. Have I mentioned I looooove 80s music? 🙂
  30. I Need A Man – Eurythmics. Actually, I don’t, but this song rocks – as does the band.

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…