Mar 31, 2013

Trader Joe's: THE LIST!

A couple weeks ago, I wrote this post asking for your suggestions for fun things to buy at Trader Joe's. And you guys definitely came through... I just wrote down a three page list of your recommendations. I am headed to TJ's today and I'm so excited to pick up some new items.

But I want to share the wealth. I thought it would be fun to share this big, ol' list of deliciousness with everyone. Here it is. Enjoy!

{these were the most mentioned items - everyone loves them!}
Cookie butter
Cinnamon rolls {refrigerated}
Hummus {especially chipotle and regular pine nut}
Frozen edamame
Frozen chicken tikka masala
Wheat pizza dough {refrigerated}

Black forest ham and cheese croissants
Chicken taquitos
Penne Arrabiata
Sweet potato fries {yes, love these}
Pork buns
Chicken chow mein
Bell pepper medley
Mozzarella sticks
French Onion soup
Coconut shrimp
Naan bread
TJs pizzas
Orange chicken
Pesto/Mozzarella/Tomato flat bread
Multi-grain french toast

Salsa {red and verde}
Greek yogurt/Organic yogurt
Bagged, pre-made salads {especially spinach/cranberry/feta}
Stuffed chicken
Flank steak
Bagged brussel sprouts
Goat cheese {and ALL their cheeses.. so good!}
Pre-seeded pomegranates

TJ's Lite Kettle Corn {Yep! This is one of my newer finds.}
Asiago Peppercorn Bread
Honey roasted peanuts {apparently, TJ's are the best...}
Dried fruit and apple straws
Boxed soups
"Cuppa Joe" coffee
White cheddar popcorn
Honey Pretzel Sticks {How could I forget about these gems?}
Ezekiel tortillas {But I was warned to freeze them because they spoil quickly}
Dipping sauces and marinades {gyoza, spicy chili, and my personal favorite... soyaki}
Taco seasoning
Pita chips {I love the cinnamon ones!}
Any TJ's pasta sauce {I've heard the vodka sauce is fab...}

Dark chocolate sea salt almonds
Espresso pillows {What are these?! I must find out today!}
Dark Chocolate Potato Chips {This is my own addition! I used to be addicted...}
Maple Leaf cookies
Cat cookies

Mar 29, 2013

Flowers Fade Friday: Things That Make Me Cry

I am not a crier. Not usually anyway. A few times a year, during my most stressful weeks, I might break down and cry for a few minutes. Every once in a while, Micah and I will get into a fight that will cause me to shed a few tears, but even that is rare. I never cry during movies or when reading books. Sometimes I will get teary-eyed for a second at the end of a Parenthood episode {because who doesn't?}, but I never actually cry.

Right now there is a baby the size of an avocado in my womb. It's in there kicking and punching and fluttering all around. Its heart beats about 150 times per minute, and, as of this week, that same tiny heart pumps about 25 quarts of blood each day. And this is the type of thing that makes me cry. Not the baby itself. Not the experience of pregnancy. Not even the crazy hormones that are supposedly raging through my body right now. {I think I've only had one solid hormonal pregnancy cry in the past 16 weeks.}

What makes me cry is God's goodness. His love and His grace bring tears to my eyes. Sometimes, when I sit quietly for a moment and try to fathom God's love for me, for His children, for this world, it shakes my soul and I feel the tears start to well up. How can such a huge and holy God love me so much?

And on Good Friday, I think about how amazing it is that God wrapped himself in flesh and came to this earth to die... to die a horrible and undeserved death... for sinners like me. The fact that Jesus chose to come down from heaven and live among us brings tears unlike any episode of Parenthood ever could. Thousands of years ago, God chose a woman like me... younger than me even... and He planted a seed in her womb. And that seed was Jesus. Fully God and fully man. And Jesus grew just like this child now grows inside me... from a sesame seed to a kumquat, into a lemon, an apple, an avocado .. and finally into a tiny babe... pushed from a womb to save the world.

And He walked on this earth, experiencing all the beauty and all the ugliness this waiting-to-be-redeemed world has to offer. He had a father, mother, brothers and sisters. He had friends, and He had many enemies. He knew the value of hard work. He knew the cost of serving others. He felt weariness, pain, and stress like all humans do. And yet He was obedient in it all. He was never bitter about humbling himself... the God of the Universe never once changed his mind or his heart about wrapping himself up as a sesame seed in the womb, never doubted the Father's plan when He was a poor manual laborer in a tiny town, never looked back when he served the sick, hungry, and hopeless all day long with no break for a meal or for sleep. And He let his persecutors hang him up on a cross for wrongs He had never committed. In what looked like the greatest moment of defeat and weakness in the history of the earth, Jesus Christ conquered death and sin in the greatest victory this world has ever seen.

And I hope you see it. I hope God opens your eyes to the wonder and glory of a loving Son who would come to die and would conquer death and live again. And when you see it, I pray it's through teary, humble, joyful eyes.

...though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:6-11

Mar 27, 2013

Spreading the news...

So now the world knows about Baby Russum {aka "Syd" or "Sydney" since he or she was made in Australia... wink!}, but this is how the news of our little one traveled very slowly from mid-January to mid-March...

My iron-on shirt... thanks Hobby Lobby!

Micah's sister
My darling sister-in-law, Kayla, lives with us, so, of course, she was the first to know. However, telling her happened on accident. One night, just a few days after Micah and I found out ourselves, he and his sis were talking in the kitchen. I was not home. Apparently, their family's upcoming visit in March came up and Kayla thought it was going to be too much to have their whole family in town at once. She was about to call their mom and tell her to change their travel plans when Micah had to stop her... "Ummm... actually we have a reason we want to whole family to visit at the same time..." Let's just say Kayla, who was eating dinner, dropped her fork in shock and excitement. I happened to arrive home like five minutes later. I walked into the kitchen and Micah greeted me with... "I accidentally spilled the sesame seeds" which happened to be the size of the baby that week. Hilarious!

My sister
My reveal to my sister, Katie, was as smooth as could be. When I went to visit her in Austin at the end of February, I was 11 weeks. I patiently waited the whole weekend {which included dumping a glass of wine in the garbage at Salt Lick when no one was looking!} and right before I was about to leave for the airport, I gave her an early birthday card. Inside was an ultrasound picture. She flipped it open and immediately starting jumping up and down screaming "I knew it! I knew it!"

My parents
The reveal to my parents also went really well. I conveniently arranged for them to come visit my grandma in Las Vegas the same weekend I would be there for a conference. I just told them it would fun to be there at the same time and, otherwise, I wouldn't see them until summer. Worked like a charm. I picked them up from the airport on Saturday morning, the day after my conference, and took them back to my grandma's house. Just as I suspected, after initial greetings and dropping off luggage, we all settled down in the living room to chat {don't you love how going to grandma and grandpa's house is always so familiar and predictable in a good way?} What no one knew is that while my parents were getting settled into their bedroom, I went down to my own room and changed my shirt. I had made a bright green shirt with the words "Baby Russum" across the stomach {and "Arriving September 2013" on the back}, and I slipped it on and zipped up a hoodie over it. After we had been chatting for thirty minutes or so, I knew I needed to act before my grandma left to take a nap or we decided it was time for lunch or something. Right after my mom got done talking about when she and my dad might move to Phoenix {soon, grandma, soon... I need a babysitter!}, I stood up and asked, "Do you guys want to see my new shirt?" After raising two daughters, I don't even think my parents thought this was a weird question, as I've shown them lots of new clothing over the past thirty years. I unzipped my hoodie and my mom jumped out of her chair in excitement. There were hugs and teary-eyes all around and then we talked about babies for the rest of the day. Mission accomplished.

Micah's {whole} family
The next morning I woke up at 5:30am in Vegas, got in my car, and rushed back to Phoenix as fast as I could. The goal was to tell Micah's family before going to a spring training game that started at 1pm. I flew into the house around 11am, hugged everyone {Micah's parents, all his siblings and their spouses had arrived in town while I was gone}, and then we set our plan in action. We told his family we should take a group picture before leaving for the game since it's rare we are all together. Being the picture fanatic that I am, no one thought anything of it. Micah acted slightly annoyed by it, Kayla acted indifferent, and I acted excited and bossy about taking the picture. We had our roles planned out perfectly. Around noon, we got his whole family gathered in the backyard in front of the camera on a tripod. I had again secretly changed into my green Baby Russum shirt and was wearing a hoodie over it, despite the fact that it was shaping up to be a 90 degree day. Our plan was to tell them we were taking a timed picture but really put the camera on video and record their reactions when I took off my hoodie. However, I had some problems with the camera. I thought it was not recording properly, so Micah's family cluelessly stood in the hot sun for a good five minutes while I messed around with the camera settings. Finally, I called Micah over and whispered "The video is not working... should I just take a picture???" We put it on the timer and Micah returned to the group. I pushed the button and then said something about needing to take my hoodie off for the photo. I revealed my shirt and the expressions were priceless... ranging from pure confusion to sheer joy. Thankfully, I was not blocking the camera with my back {since I hadn't actually planned to take a picture I hadn't worried about where I should stand...} and we have great photos from the moment. Funny story: When I downloaded the photos to my computer the other day, I realized that the video function actually was working the whole time. I have about ten short videos of Micah's family talking and shifting around in the hot sun and then this hilarious one, which I will share with you at the bottom of the post...

The moment of revelation...

Please pardon the fact that I look like I'm about to DELIVER the baby here...

My best friends
Apart from telling two Phoenix girlfriends who are both due within two weeks of me and telling a dear blog friend at dinner the night before I told my parents, I seriously didn't tell a soul. In retrospect, I wish I had told all my best friends the week before we told our parents, because it would have eliminated so much stress during that crazy weekend of showing real estate to my dad's friend, traveling out of town, presenting at a huge conference, having lots of visitors, telling our parents such exciting news, and having two papers due at school the following week. It was high stress for sure. I talked to two of my best friends the prior week and I was DYING to tell them. However, I wanted to honor Micah and our parents by telling them first, so I controlled my tongue in agony. I did consider making phone calls on the way to and from Vegas, seeing as I was by myself in the car for ten hours round trip, but it turns out there is NO cell service in the desert of northern Arizona, so it was a futile attempt. This led to me WEEPING, literally bawling my eyes out, the day after we told Micah's family. Now that the news was out, I was so afraid someone would say something before I had a chance to tell my best friends personally. Add that fear to the stress of the whole weekend, and I was a mess. I literally sat on my bed crying and watching the clock on that Monday afternoon, waiting for it to be 5:00 in Texas and 4:30pm in Washington when my friends would be off work and I could call them. I felt guilty for not telling them sooner, since I always thought I would tell them right away, but of course they were completely understanding and gracious and overjoyed as all best friends would be. The rest of the week was spent making calls, emails and sending texts, so we could announce our news publicly before my slowly growing bump started to give me away {and, as it turns out, a few people had already started guessing}.

Thank you for letting me share this long narrative of how we shared our news. Many of you have written to say you want more details, so I hope today's post was especially fulfilling for you! :) And for those of you not quite so enthralled, I promise I will start writing about something other than pregnancy soon. I just have ten weeks of new and exciting information that I have been dying to talk about. Thanks for your patience! And now for the video. I just love my funny, confused face. Guess I'm not a technological genius after all...

We're having a BABY!

Thank you so much for all your kind words yesterday. We felt so loved. But in the midst of all the attention, I was suddenly convicted... this is not about me. I did nothing. Really, nothing {it took us two weeks to get pregnant... We can't even really say we "tried."}. This is about God. He created a human being. And while we are incredibly excited and honored to be chosen as parents, and we are so happy to share the news with all our friends and family, I want to remember that God creates life and sustains life... and He is the one who deserves attention and praise for our growing family! Just a reminder for myself... a repenting attention-seeker! But thank you, thank you for all the love!

And now for the details...

On getting pregnant and finding out...
As I mentioned above, we got pregnant right away. I know we were not entitled to such a quick and easy conception, nor do we deserve a baby at all, so I just want to throw up a huge thank you to the Father for His timing and also give grace and encouragement to those who are trying to conceive. God is good no matter what. {And if you want a hopeful story, one of my best friends is due two weeks after me, after battling with some fertility issues for one and a half years. God is good, even in times of waiting. God is good in hope fulfilled. God is good in times of grief and times of joy.} When we found out... I happened to take a test at the beginning of a Seahawks playoff game when Micah had guys over. After the game, he conveniently decided to go to a movie with one of the guys, so I waited from noon until probably 9pm at night to tell him the the news! I should also mention that he didn't believe me when I told him... and he continued to not believe me, despite the evidence of two pregnancy tests, until two weeks later when we saw the baby's precious little heartbeat at our first ultrasound. Since then, he's possibly been more excited than I am... and it's pretty darn cute.

How far along am I?
I will be 16 weeks tomorrow! We waited a crazy long time to tell people ONLY because we wanted to tell our parents first and in person {first-time grandparents on both sides}, which is difficult since our families live in different states. However, we knew we had this rare opportunity to see all of our parents during the same weekend in March, which meant we waited eight excruciatingly long weeks after finding out to tell anyone. Although it felt painful to keep such an exciting secret at times {and it did lead to me weeping on my bed one day because I was upset I hadn't told my best friends yet}, it was totally worth it to surprise our families. I will post pictures and a hilarious video of the reveal tomorrow.

Have I been sick?
Not at all. Again, praise the Lord. When I found out I was pregnant in mid-January, I got really nervous. I happen to be in the midst of my hardest semester of all of grad school, and when I thought about how crazy my schedule was going to be in February and March, I felt overwhelmed by the thought of being sick. But then it never happened... I woke up each morning between weeks six and eight thinking "How do I feel? Am I going to puke? Can I get out of bed?" And then I quickly realized I felt fine. On some mornings though, I would wander to the kitchen and eat a Saltine cracker... just in case. I finally stopped this craziness when my nurse told me at my first appointment that if I hadn't gotten sick by week eight I probably wouldn't get sick at all. I am so incredibly thankful for a peaceful first trimester and a really healthy pregnancy so far. I've hardly even felt tired and I still work out 3-4 days a week. Although my groin ligaments are stretching now, and sometimes I limp a little bit after leaving the gym... but if that's my worst symptom, I'll take it!

Are we finding out the gender?
Nope! At least I don't think so... I love surprises and always thought it would be fun to not find out, but I always figured that whoever I married would want to find out, so I never tied myself to the idea. However, Micah is shocking me and he doesn't want to find out either. You must know that Micah HATES surprises. I can't even take him to a surprise restaurant for dinner. He has to know where we are going, what we are doing, and what we are eating at all times. But for some reason he is all about being surprised with the baby's gender, so, of course, I am happy to play along. The ultrasound tech had a guess at our 13 week screening, but we wouldn't let her tell us. Now we will see if Micah holds strong during our anatomy ultrasound in a couple weeks...

Any cravings or food aversions?
I haven't had any lasting aversions; I just find myself being picky and impulsive about what sounds good or bad at any particular time {one night tacos sound great and a burger sounds gross and the next night it's the exact opposite}. One day I brought a peanut butter sandwich to school {no jelly because I don't like it, preggo or not} and the thought of eating it disgusted me all day. I thought maybe it was the idea of eating peanut butter, but PB and apples sounded great, while peanut butter on bread sound like the grossest thing in the world. As far as cravings, I have been loving mac and cheese and just cheese in general. The week after we found out, I bought a wedge of gouda from Trader Joe's and ate about 3/4 of the thing in a single night... with crackers of course. My SIL watched me do it and she might be forever disgusted with me! But I need a lot of calcium during pregnancy, right???

Just wanted to answer the most frequently asked questions for you! I'll be back tomorrow to share about telling the grandparents!

Mar 26, 2013

The post you've been waiting for...

It's true...

I'll be back with more details tomorrow! So glad to share our exciting news!
Praising our Father, the Creator, for the gift of life.

Mar 14, 2013

Flowers Fade Friday: Open Doors and Starting Again.

I've been reading over I and II Corinthians for the past few weeks and the Lord has been impressing upon my heart the wisdom behind Paul's ministry. Paul is a man who worked for the Lord. He moved by the Spirit's leading, but he also had to make plans as a missionary. He had to decide which town to visit next, how to get there, how long to stay, when to move on. He had to write letters, encourage, exhort and settle disputes. He was a busy man. Even though I am not a missionary {but I am involved in missions - everyone is called to be involved in missions!}, I am called to work for the Lord and share the Gospel. Because of this, I know I can gain insight from Paul's letters. I think all of us can.

Open doors. Americans, and Christians especially, love to use door analogies... "God opened the door for this opportunity" or "God is clearly shutting the door on that plan."  I wasn't even sure if these metaphors were Biblical until I noticed Paul using the same language in I Corinthians 16:8-9:

"But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries."

So it's accurate to think of the Lord's guidance as Him opening and closing doors of opportunity or beginning and ending specific seasons of work. However, notice what Paul says right after He says God has opened a wide door in his ministry... "and there are many adversaries." Paul knew God had provided fruitful ground for ministry, and yet he saw many adversaries at the same time. But that did not hinder Paul. Neither should adversaries hinder us. Christians all too often use minor adversaries as an excuse not to purse a ministry or an opportunity from the Lord. If the first mentor meeting goes awkwardly, if a weekly meeting makes Wednesday's schedule really chaotic, if something doesn't seem financially feasible at first, if someone persecutes you or questions your work for the Lord, you want to quit. I want to quit. It's easy to say God is now "closing" the door you thought He was opening. But no. There are wide doors for effective work and there will be adversaries. Don't quit because it's hard. Pray for God's guidance and seek His truth through Scripture. If He really wants you to quit the work He first called you to, He will show you by His Spirit and His Word. But don't quit because there are adversaries. Expect them.

Begin again. How many of you have started a project, set a goal, or pursued some kind of ministry and then let it fall by the wayside? If you read my post from a few weeks ago, you know that I used to be consistent about memorizing Scripture. Now I'm not, but I'm trying to pick it up again. Maybe you said you would meet a friend for prayer weekly and it only lasted for two months before life got too crazy. Maybe you said you would increase your tithing by 1% but only wrote one check for the extra amount. Maybe you were convicted to reach out to a neighbor to ask about his or her faith, but haven't yet because of fear or busyness. You should start now. Right now. Whatever God called you to... weeks, months, or years ago... that thing, that project, that ministry that He laid on your heart, the one you forgot about or sinfully avoided... that thing... do it now. In I Corinthians Paul asks the believers of Corinth to start a collection of money that he will later take to the persecuted saints in Jerusalem. The Corinthians eagerly and joyfully start collecting money... for a little while... and then they get distracted by life, and arguments, and divisions in their church, and they stop collecting money as they had promised. So when Paul writes to them the following year {II Corinthians}, he says "Hey, remember that money you were going to collect? Remember how you neglected God's calling? Well, you need to repent and start giving your offering again." He doesn't tell yell at them. He doesn't tell them they owe back-tithes for all the months they missed. He just says, in a spirit of love, "So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have" {II Cor. 8:11}.

God speaks to us in the same way. "You know that project I called you to? Remember when you were eager to do My work, but then you sinned and fell away? Take up the task again, child. There is grace to cover your lapse, but start again and complete the work I have called you to..."

Not to turn this into a Taylor Swift song, but "begin again" is at the heart of the Gospel... :) God's mercies are new every morning and because of that we have the power to work for Him - in the face of adversaries and even if we have neglected His calling for a season. Work for Him. Share His Gospel. Spread His Fame. Start now.

Mar 12, 2013

The Closet Challenge: A Major Update

This past Saturday night, I stayed up until 1am ironing. Now what could possess someone to do such a thing, you may ask? Because who irons on a Saturday night? Perhaps a better question is “Who irons at all?” Because this girl doesn't. At least not usually. I wouldn't want the glorious invention that is Downy Wrinkle Release Spray to go to waste…

But on Saturday, I made an exception and dug the squeaky ironing board out of the closet. Why? Because way back in September I started The Closet Challenge. I challenged myself to wear every single item in my closet. If I don’t want to wear something, I have to get rid of it. It’s now March, and I am almost done. In a few days {or in a few tank tops and pairs of pants} I will be completely finished with wearing my whole closet. I had a hunch it would take me about six months to wear everything, and it turns out I was exactly right.

See all those backward hangers?!

I've had some other ladies join me in the challenge, and they said it was depressing to do laundry and hang up clothes that you know you won’t wear again for a very long time. {My method is to re-hang my clothes with the hanger facing the wrong way after an item has been worn.} And I get that. I remember looking at my racks when I had only worn about 10% of my clothes and realizing that the challenge was going to take a very long time. But it gets so much better! The past month has been really fun. I have so few items left to wear that it’s been so easy to weed out items I hate…. because, let’s be honest, if I haven’t worn something by now, it probably needs to go.


By Saturday night, my “get rid of basket” was packed so full I couldn't fit anything else in it. That’s when I decided it was time to actually get rid of the items that have been accumulating in the pile since the fall. I busted out the iron and devoted myself to the worst housekeeping task known to {wo}man. After about two hours, I had freshly pressed clothing on hangers and another basket of neatly folded clothes and shoes to sell. I dropped off my best items at my favorite upscale consignment store in Scottsdale the next day. I’ll probably stop by Plato’s Closet with the rest this week, and if there are any good items left, I will host a “shop my closet” sale soon. Stores here are only taking spring/summer clothes right now, so I might have some cold weather threads for you! If you want to know more about how I sell my clothes for cash, read this.

The overflowing basket.

Piles of clothes to sell. See those yellow loafers and those cute green smoking slippers? I've worn them each one time {they ended up being too big} and they will be for sale on the blog soon!

I’ll be back in the next week or two to share some of the things I've learned from completing this challenge. I am obsessed with organized closets full of flattering, wearable clothes, and I would love to share my tips with you.

And how about some winter outfits, before it hits 90 degrees in the desert this weekend??? I successfully wore every single long sleeved shirt and sweater in my closet this "winter." Hooray!

Left: Shirt: Elle for Kohl's // Sweater: Gibson at Nordstrom // Pencil skirt: Kohl's // Shoes: Novo {bought in Australia}
Right: Shirt, sweater and jeans: Banana Republic // Shoes: Minnetonka Moccasins at Nordstrom

|Linking up with What I Wore Wednesday|

Mar 11, 2013

Calling all Trader Joe's shoppers!

I've been meaning to write this blog post for a while now. I need your help. What in the world should I buy at Trader Joe's? I am not an avid TJ's shopper, but I like to go there about once a month, just to add some variety to our usual groceries. 

Here's what I like to get specifically from TJ's:
  • Cheap wine. My favorite is the the Le Grotte Lambrusco in Bianco.
  • Specialty cheeses. I'm really into various kinds of Gouda lately, but they have lots of fun kinds of cheese to try. At my wine and cheese 30th birthday party, we had the Toscano dusted with cinnamon, which was unique and delicious.
  • Frozen french cut green beans. I like to keep a package of these in the freezer at all times. If we are out of fresh veggies, these are the perfect addition to dinner. Just steam and add olive oil, garlic, and salt.
  • Gyoza Potstickers. These make a great snack or quick lunch, or you can get creative and add them to soup.
  • When I'm feeling lazy, I get a bag of TJ's organic apple slices and eat them all week. They usually stay fresh for 5-7 days.
But what else? I know there are gems from Joe's that I don't know about yet! Please share your best Trader Joe's items below. If we all share our favorites, think about how much fun our next grocery shopping trip will be! I can't wait to try your recommendations.

Mar 4, 2013

Austin {A morning on SoCo}

This will be the last of my Austin posts. Sorry if you're bored, but it's just such a beautiful city and I love sharing bits and pieces of it with you. Sadly, though I'm running out of iPhone pics from our fun trip... and I'm still lamenting that fact that I forgot my DSLR. I've been so bad about hauling out the big camera ever since we got back from Australia. Must change that...

We spent our final morning in Austin browsing the shops and grabbing lunch on South Congress. I've never been to the SoCo neighborhood before, and I must say it was a delight. I have, however, been wondering where I might find Austin's "I love you so much" wall that I frequently see on Instagram. Turns out it's on the side of Jo's Coffee on SoCo. Of course, we took plenty of pictures by it.


After our coffee stop, we wandered in and out of all the cute little boutiques on both sides of the street. Lots of cute clothes, but I wasn't in the mood to splurge. I really liked going into one of The Impeccable Pig's brick and mortar stores after shopping their website for so long now. So many cute dresses there. So many.

I want to stay at this hotel, by the way. Does someone want to suggest it to Micah as an anniversary trip?

I didn't actually consider opening my wallet to buy anything though until we made our way down to Uncommon Objects. If you haven't heard of this place before, you are missing out. It's an awesome shop full of whimsical antiques. Every corner of the store is covered, floor to ceiling, with the most impressive curated displays of the most random knickknacks and cool pieces of furniture. It seriously took me a good 30 minutes to get through the shop, and I felt slightly rushed at that pace. In fact, I took so long that the girls left me there and walked over to Guero's Taco Bar to order lunch while I finished my perusing. Although I wanted to buy a number of things in the store, I settled on just one purchase.... a horseshoe {made in Texas} for my gallery wall.

{Technically, my gallery wall exists only in my mind at this point, but I have been collecting things for it since last spring and the horseshoe was a nice addition.... maybe in our next house I will actually create this imagined wall. Just thought you should have this disclaimer.}


I met the girls at the restaurant, where we scarfed down some delicious tacos {and, of course, more queso} before we had to take Sarah and Whitney to the airport. Such a fun weekend with some of my favorite girls. Thankfully, my flight didn't take off for a few more hours which gave my sister and I a chance to stop by the performing arts school where she works and play on the gymnastics equipment in the gym. Then I said my final goodbyes to Texas and my sissy over a bowl of Amy's Ice Cream. Gosh, I love Amy's Ice Creams. And I love Texas. The end.

I love being an adult.

Mar 3, 2013

Austin {Cruisers and Cookies}

On our sunny, seventy degree Saturday in Austin, we did the best possible thing. We rented beach cruisers from Barton Springs Bike Rental and rode them around the city. Side note: I really think bikes are best when visiting a new city. You can cover much more ground than you would by walking, but you get a close-up view of buildings and people, unlike you would in a car. And if you have never biked around Coronado Island in San Diego, you should probably stop reading the post, and fly there now. Cruising Coronado is a must in life.


Anyway... cruising around Austin was almost on par with Coronado; it was just missing ocean views and the Hotel Del. However, our trek did include a stop at Austin's historic hotel, The Driskill, which turned out be the best decision of our lives.


This is how it happened... we stopped at The Driskill because Katie and Lynae {her roommate} said it was cute. Also, we needed a bathroom break. Our bathroom stop turned into us all buying iced coffees from The Driskill Grill. Our coffee sipping turned into us gazing through the huge windows into the kitchen, where we admired a beautiful chocolate groom's cake {decorated with Texas Longhorns, obviously} that was sitting on the counter. Our cake gazing refocused on the pastry chef behind the window who was building yet another cake. As an amateur cake maker I was taking mental notes. {Did you know you can bake directly on your silicone spill mat to easily remove a cake from the pan after it comes out of the oven?! Life changer.} We gawked and gazed long enough that the pastry chef took notice of us. When he was done putting the final layer on his cake {which we later learned would be turned into petit fours... so southern!}, he suddenly gave us a smile through the glass and motioned to a tray of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Would we like one? Uh....yes! Long story short, the pastry chef came out with a plate of warm cookies, which we discovered were recently rated the best cookies in Austin. They would have gotten my vote for sure! As we were eating our amazing {free} cookies and asking him about the groom's cake, he offered to give us a tour of the kitchen and show us the accompanying wedding cake back in the refrigerator  We were like eager 2nd graders on a field trip! We got to go in the fridge. We got to look at the cake and other pastries for the afternoon "high tea." We learned about flash freezing. And we got to talk to the other assistants in the kitchen who were busy putting an ungodly amount of butter into a huge commercial mixer. It was amazing and completely unexpected. Hats off to Robin Foster, the Pastry Sous Chef at The Driskill Hotel. If I had to re-do my wedding {but thankfully I never want to!} he would make my cake for sure... but my cake just might be made out of chocolate chip cookies!


We also did other things on our trip... besides stuffing our face with coffee and cookies. We visited the Texas Capitol Building, obviously. We cruised around UT's campus. I requested we stop at Tyler's on The Drag. I was hoping to score some good running shoes on sale, but I walked out empty handed. Our stop wasn't in vain though... because both Sarah and Whitney walked out with new Frye Boots at half off the regular price! And as we cruised back down Lamar toward Barton Springs, we had stopped at the flagship Whole Foods for a snack. Sarah is obsessed with Whole Foods, so this was high on the list of priorities for the weekend.


If you go to Austin, rent bikes. It's the best way to see the city for sure!
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