Monday, November 23, 2015

Nashville in November

We are back in Dallas after a wonderful weekend trip to Nashville with our pals Trip and Lindsay.  T&L lived in Nashville for three years while they were in law school at Vanderbilt, so they were the perfect tour guides for our first visit to Music City.

We got to Nashville fairly early on Friday morning and kicked off the day with coffee and popping into a few shops.  At the tip-top of my Nashville list was Draper James, of course.  And it was even better than I imagined it would be - pretty much the perfect store!

After I found the world's most perfect dress that I carried out in the world's most perfect shopping bag, we moved on to continue our exploring.  The guys were very sweet and patient to endure my squealing throughout the Draper James experience.

The joys of being out of the office on a Friday...

We had lunch on Friday at a Nashville institution - Arnold's.  It was so fun and SO GOOD.  As a major lover of cafeteria-style restaurants and meat & threes, Arnold's was right up my alley.  I wish they sold their turnip greens by the gallon.

After lunch we drove around Belle Meade, which was absolutely gorgeous.  Trip and Lindsay took us to a great little spot where we were able to stretch our legs, get some fresh air, and enjoy some pretty fall foliage.

We regrouped at our Airbnb before dinner at Husk, which went entirely unpictured.  We were still a bit full from Arnold's, so we split several apps.  Husk was one spot we didn't make it to on our Charleston trip a few years ago, so it was a treat to make it to the Nashville location, and it certainly did not disappoint.

After dinner we headed downtown for the Opry at the Ryman which was full of Aggies and such a treat.  This was such a fun thing that I'm so glad we got to experience in Nashville.  Lee Greenwood closed out the show with "God Bless the USA" which was so great!

Saturday morning we headed to brunch at another Nashville institution, Monell's.  The family style setting was really neat, and once again, we were surrounded by Aggies.  Also once again, the food was so good, and I wished I could have just kept eating and eating!  We wound up being seated with two couples who go to church with Mary Katherine in College Station.  On our way out, we ran into two other groups of Ags that we knew - so fun.  Everyone must have gotten the Monell's memo.  

We did a little more exploring around downtown and at Centennial Park before it started raining a bit.  To get out of the rain, we popped into a fun coffee shop, Fido, for a giant, warm chai tea latte.  It definitely hit the spot.

The A&M vs. Vanderbilt game initiated our trip to Nashville, and Austin and I were excited to attend our first away SEC game.  Before the game on Saturday night, we bundled up with as many layers as we could stand, popped into Rotier's for a quick bite (where we ran into more Aggie friends - so crazy!) before heading to the stadium.

We nearly froze to death, but the Ags came out on top, and I think my toes have finally regained feeling.

All in all, it was a super trip with great friends exploring a fun new city.  I see more SEC road games in our future - I would love to make it to games in Athens, Columbia, Starkville, Tuscaloosa, and Oxford.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Early Thanksgiving in Dallas

Ever since we were engaged, Austin and I have had the Thanksgiving/Christmas rotation down pat.  This year happens to be our year to spend Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with his.  While we always end up celebrating Christmas with both sides (one just a week or two early or late), we've never doubled the Thanksgiving fun until this year.  Austin's parents came up to Dallas in mid-November, and we loved hosting them for an early Thanksgiving at our house.  

Austin's first time smoking a turkey was a smashing success, and we had most of the Thanksgiving classics.  Thankfully, Suann brought her yummy dressing, because I have definitely never attempted that.  Cranberry relish stole the show for me, per usual.  I forgot to take a picture of our pumpkin pie with cinnamon whipped cream, but it was a highlight as well.  And, I may have gone a tad overboard with the pumpkin as we also had pumpkin rolls with our meal, but, tis the season!    

This was the perfectly timed warm up for this Thursday, and we are still working to polish off our leftovers.  Best of all was getting to double up on Thanksgiving celebrations this year with our families.  

Be back soon with a post recapping our fun weekend trip to Nashville for the A&M/Vanderbilt game! 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October So Far - A&M vs. Mississippi State + Katey's Shower

I have a lot of catching up to do, and two blog posts in one week seems a little ambitious given my blogging frequency right now, so I'm combining two fun October weekends in this post.

The first weekend in October, we made the pilgrimage to College Station to attend our first game in the new Kyle Field.  We met my in-laws there and had a birthday lunch for Austin at one of our CS favorites, Rudy's.  Tasty barbecue was the perfect pre-game meal, and we eventually made our way to campus to see some of the fun new elements of the redesigned Kyle Field.  We happily got to meet up with my sister for a quick hug.  It was also a big treat to run into our friends Ryan and Cassie on campus, and we loved our quick visit with them before heading into the stadium.

We were thrilled to see the Aggies get another "W" for the season and to get to experience our first game of the season at Kyle.

Now fast-forwarding to this past weekend, Mom and I both took Friday off and had a day full of cooking and shower preparations.  It was such a huge treat to have her here and to get to spend the whole day doing things we love.

Saturday morning we had the best time hosting a shower for one of my oldest and dearest friends, Katey.  Mom truly went above and beyond and brought a Suburban full of shower necessities with her, thank goodness!  We also had five other amazing hostesses, and everything came together wonderfully.  It was so fun to catch up with everyone there and celebrate Katey.  We are so happy for her and can't wait to see her become the best mom and to meet baby P in November!      

favors: homemade honey caramel sauce + a big, pretty honeycrisp apple

We served sausage and grits casserole, chicken salad on slices of green apple, cheddar-pecan shortbread, pecan pie muffins, pumpkin muffins, fruit, mini quiche, and the most delicious petit fours from Society Bakery.  I somehow didn't get a picture of the yummy punch (a modified version of this apple julep recipe), but my very favorite thing might have been the stamped coffee sleeves. 

October is flying by, and we are looking forward to celebrating some friends at a couples shower next weekend, celebrating my mom's birthday later this month, and another trip to Kyle Field to see our Aggies play.  Happy fall to all! 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

So Long September

September, where have you gone?  I can't believe it is almost October; if only the weather would catch up with the calendar.  Since I last popped in here on the blog, I've done two things I do every year about this time when I am desperate for cooler temperatures: (1) have my first PSL of the year and (2) make red beans & rice for the first time to "kick off fall."  Unfortunately, neither worked, and we're still "enjoying" temperatures in the nineties.  We may have had to crank the air down a bit while eating our RB&R, but it was totally worth it.      

Last week, in another attempt to usher in fall, my friend Kylee and I went on a little acorn expedition at our neighborhood park all in the name of fall centerpieces for our tables in Sunday school.  The acorns were abundant, and we threw these little guys together in no time.  They debuted this morning and were a big hit.  I have a slight acorn obsession, and I could not be any more thrilled to have such a huge supply right at my fingertips.  Especially these fat guys with perfect little caps - I die!

We celebrated Austin's birthday on Friday... well Austin celebrated by taking off work and playing golf with some buddies, I celebrated by working.  I did manage to fulfill his request for carrot cake cupcakes though.  Ignore the pink candle...totally spazzed on that.  Thankfully, he was distracted by the cream cheese icing and didn't seem to mind.

This morning we said good-bye to Mary Katherine and two of her friends after hosting them for the weekend.  They were so adorable, and our house feels a little empty without them here now!  MK, Courtney Ann, and Gretchen drove up Friday afternoon and were here with Austin waiting for me when I got home Friday.  We sent Austin off to his football game and enjoyed muffalettas, Scrabble, and Austin's birthday cupcakes.

Saturday morning the girls had big plans to head to the State Fair of Texas and then to Northpark for the day.  How darling are they?

Austin and I stayed back, relaxed at home, and fixed the girls some treats for that night before we abandoned them to go to the A&M game.  The only photogenic thing on the menu was this veggie tray with homemade ranch dip.  The girls also got pigs in a blanket, spinach and artichoke dip, and funfetti cookies for their game watching enjoyment.

Austin's birthday weekend turned out to be a little more exciting than we anticipated when some friends from our Sunday school class invited us to the A&M vs. Arkansas game mid-week last week.  We were thrilled to get to go to the game and even more thrilled that the Aggies squeaked by with a W after a stressful overtime.

Our tickets were in a suite thanks to our friend's company, and the whole experience was by far the most luxurious one I've ever had involving a football game!  Between the view, the comfy movie theater type chairs, the amazing food, and the private bathroom, it was hard to pick my jaw up off the floor and actually watch the game, but I managed. :)   And the Aggies won - whoop for a 4-0 start to the season!    

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Labor Day in Houston + September Happenings

Labor Day weekend took us southbound on 45 to see Courtney and Tyler in Houston.  Casey rode down with us on Saturday morning, and we all had a great visit!  

We got into town just after noon on Saturday, and our first order of business was a tour of Courtney and Tyler's new house.  They picked a good one, and one super fun aspect of their house is all of the huge fruit trees in their back yard.  I was a little jealous of their orchard, especially their great lemon trees!  It is fun to be on this new homeowner journey with them.  Hard to believe we are coming up on one year in our house.

After our house tour, we ventured out for a late lunch at "Jus' Mac," a restaurant that has every type of mac and cheese one could ever want.  It was such a fun spot.  We all loved our gourmet mac and cheese that came in the cutest little skillets.  


Someone (maybe me) thought we also needed dessert, so we found a darling little cupcake shop and had a sweet treat to round our our lunch.  

Tyler chauffeured us around town after our cupcake stop, and we got to see Courtney's school and more of the area around their house.  Back at home, we settled in for a long evening of football watching.  Austin was pretty much beside himself with excitement.  We played a few card games, and before we knew it, it was time to watch the Aggies play Arizona State.  

Courtney and Tyler whipped us up some tasty game watching treats including spinach artichoke dip and barbecue chicken pizza - two of my favorites.  I may have taken a few naps during the game, but I did wake up just in time to see the Ags win.  What a great start to the season!

Sunday morning we grabbed smoothies and went for a super long walk at a nearby park.  After all of our indulging on Saturday, it felt good to get outside and work up a sweat.  Austin, Casey, and I hit the road to head back to Dallas around lunchtime and were back in Dallas that evening.  It was a quick trip but so good to be together with both of Austin's sisters, and Tyler, too! 

Nothing too notable to report from last week, but this weekend was definitely not short on fun, although it was sadly short on pictures.  Friday night we loved celebrating our friend Emily's 30th birthday at a fabulous surprise party planned by her husband, Jaime.  It was a great night for one of our most favorite people!  Saturday we helped Buddy, Suann, and Casey move Casey from one side of Dallas to the other.  I think she is really going to like her new apartment, and it is looking so good already.  Saturday night brought the return of game night with Trip and Lindsay after a brief hiatus.  Trip and Lindsay fixed a delicious dinner (including a pretty epic cheese board to start - my favorite), we played a fun new game (Ticket to Ride - I want to add it to our collection ASAP), and the Aggies won again!

I think that about brings us up to date in September.  This weekend I ordered a few fun things for the house, and I'm looking forward to kicking planning into high gear for Katey's baby shower that I'm hosting at our house in October.  Mom and I had a great brainstorming session several weeks ago, and I am really excited to see everything come together.  I need to post more about our shower plans soon!         

Monday, August 31, 2015

Goodbye, August

Well here I am on the last day of August posting for only the second time this month.  Where have the days gone?!  Bullet points feel appropriate for this Monday morning after over two weeks with no post.
  • Saturday we had a leisurely morning and made brunch before running several errands.  Casey came over for brunch and spent most of the day with us, and it was so good to catch up with her.  Ten months after moving into our "new" house, we finally checked out the local library and rec center.  I checked out these books:  
  • Last week we tried this pasta dish from the September Southern Living and this salad recipe that I tore out of Real Simple recently.  Both were winners that I'll definitely make again.  
  • I should be wearing all my summer dresses and nude shoes one last time before Labor Day, but I'm to that point at the end of the season where I'm over summer clothes and ready for fall.  I've been snapping a pic of my outfit in the morning to (a) help me remember what I wore when and (b) have some type of pictures to use for a blog post.  Pretty pitiful that the blog has dwindled to this!  

  • I moved into a new office at work, and Austin helped me hang everything on the walls yesterday afternoon.  Never a fun activity, but everything is hung, and I'm thrilled to start the week without random diplomas and certificates leaning up against my desk and walls.
  • I am getting super excited to host a baby shower for my friend Katey in October, and I need to blog about some of the plans taking shape for that.  The invitations went out recently, and it is just going to be so fun!   
And that's about all I've got - goodbye August and hello September!  Linking up with Biana for Weekending today.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Life Lately

Excited to link up with Jessi today for the fun new "What's Hap-pinning" link up!  Here's a little update on our life lately and August so far:

We went to David and Morgan's beautiful wedding near College Station on August 1 and then squeezed in a short visit with my parents for the rest of the weekend.  Austin did what has got to be the all time funniest version of the Cupid Shuffle, and I have major regrets that I failed to capture it on video.  The photographer's pictures will surface soon enough, I'm sure.  Both the photographer and videographer asked me if they could take Austin to all of their weddings.  I was near tears, but as always, he was a huge hit on the dance floor!    

Mom came back to Dallas with us the next day to help us install the new window treatments she made for our living room.  I'm in love!  And I'm so lucky to have a mom who is such a talented seamstress!    

Last week our friends Billy and Carly were in town for most of the week, so we packed in some fun times with them starting on Monday night celebrating Billy's birthday at HG Sply Co.  This was my first time on their patio, and it was a really fun atmosphere.  We hung out there for a while and ordered some appetizers while we waited for our table.  

We had Billy and Carly over to our house on Wednesday, and Carly and I got to squeeze in a lunch date last week, too.  It was such a treat to be in the same town for almost the whole week!

Last Thursday we ventured to Billy Bob's in Fort Worth with some church friends for a night of line dancing which was so much fun!  

Love these people!

We continued our Friday night game night with Trip and Lindsay at our house and then crashed from such a fun-filled week.  No rest for the weary here, though!  Saturday morning we hit the road for Austin for a party at Billy and Carly's to celebrate the reveal of their huge new deck and to see my in-laws and celebrate Buddy's birthday.

We found our new favorite stop on the way to Austin thanks to the receptionist at my office - Slovacek's in West.  Seriously the best gas station ever! We grabbed some fro-yo there for the rest of our drive, and this is where my pictures end.  Gummy bears + sprinkles = best fro-yo toppings ever.

We had a great time Saturday evening at Billy and Carly's catching up with some of Austin's lacrosse buddies and their wives.  On Sunday morning we enjoyed coffee on the back porch with Buddy, Suann, and Casey, and then we went to church and to Buddy's favorite Chinese restaurant for a birthday lunch celebration.  We were glad we got to squeeze so much into our 24 hour visit!

Our pace this week has slowed down a little bit, but I can't believe it is already Wednesday.  August is just flying by!