Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas 2015 was fast and furious and I can't believe it is already over!  We traveled to see my family the weekend before Christmas and then spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Austin with Austin's family.  We managed to celebrate a little bit here at home, too.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is adding an Old World Christmas ornament to our tree each year.  This year we decided on a gondola to commemorate our first ski trip together earlier this year.  

Wrapping gifts is almost as much fun to me as giving them.  Since our tree was mainly blues and greens, Austin insisted on a little bit of red in our wrapping... the boys got red plaid ribbon and the girls got my pick of gold and pine cones.  

Blue and green are my favorite colors and are pretty much the only colors in our house, so I decided this year I wanted our tree to be filled with blues, greens, and neutrals.  I loved it.  Austin is begging me for more red next year...

When Christmas cards started rolling in, I decided to use mini clothespins and gold ribbon to display them on our pantry door.  The ribbon quickly filled up, and I quickly ran out of mini clothespins - washi tape to the rescue.  This door was such a merry sight all December!

Our trip to my parents' house was super quick, but we managed to fit in three delicious meals, an afternoon of present opening, and one game of Catan.  Mom's decorations were stunning as usual, and our celebration there got Christmas week off to the best start.

Our pretty cross-stitched stockings. 

 Mom and Dad sent us these adorable "kissing balls" this year - we hung ours in a doorway, but I loved Mom's hanging from her dining room chandelier. 

 Dad's smoked pork tenderloin with apple onion chutney, roasted potatoes, cheddar biscuits, and salad with homemade blue cheese dressing

My favorite gingerbread cookies, Mom's fun drink station, and cherry pie with a very festive crust.

These cookies are as photogenic as they are delicious.  
And the leftovers are all tucked safely away in my freezer :)

MK's perfect gift for Mel - a Riley portrait! 

Riley's festive garb was out in full force. 

On Christmas Eve, we headed south and started our festivities in Austin with a Christmas Eve service.  I got one good picture outside the church, and then barely picked up my camera for the rest of our visit there.  I will be picking it up more soon though, thanks to a new lens from my in-laws!!  

More good food and family time followed, and we loved getting to see so many friends and family.  We had a lively game of white elephant on Christmas Eve with extended family, a fun Christmas morning unwrapping gifts and eating two tasty breakfasts, and more family time on Saturday.  We also squeezed in a breakfast date with our favorite Austin friends, Billy and Carly, on Saturday morning.  Thankfully, we made it back to Dallas safely Saturday evening despite the horrible tornadoes and storms that ripped through DFW.  We're staying warm and dry and taking down our decorations this afternoon.  I love a clean house to start the new year!       

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas Eve!

I have high hopes for getting caught up on our December during these next few days off from work, but I couldn't resist popping in for a quick Christmas Eve post.  Merry Christmas Eve to all!  

This morning I'm enjoying this view, attempting to organize pictures from our Christmas celebrations so far, and looking forward to sharing our December fun here over the next few days.  Hope your Christmas Eve is filled with peace and joy.  

Friday, December 11, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

This Thanksgiving was wonderfully relaxing and dampened only by the fact that I was sick for our entire visit with my family.  As luck would have it, I started feeling a little off on Wednesday afternoon, and I progressively got worse on our trip to my parents' house that evening.  A Thursday morning visit to an urgent care clinic for a steroid shot that helped a tiny bit, and I did get to enjoy Thanksgiving lunch (what I could taste was delicious as usual!) and lots of laziness on Thursday afternoon.

We took a few pictures Thursday afternoon, and Mom, Mel, and I all had high hopes of getting a shot for our respective Christmas cards.  I think we got some good ones.  Thursday was rounded out with two of our favorite games: Headbanz and Shanghai.  

Friday, we headed to The Woodlands so that Austin and I and my grandparents could see Melanie and Clark's new house (not that new any more, but none of us had seen it yet)!  It was adorable, just as I expected, and I can't wait to go back.

December is absolutely flying by, and I can't believe Christmas is so close.  Since Thanksgiving, we've been busy shopping, wrapping, and decorating.  We're celebrating Christmas early with my family, so I'm off to wrap a few more gifts!  Hoping to pop in next week with some peeks of Christmas at our house.           

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!