Saturday, May 26, 2012

a find.

We're getting ready to head west in these parts! Although it's kind of hard to pack for a place that's 82 degrees during the day and then drops to 38 overnight. We Houstonians haven't felt temps that low in over a year! Best be pulling out my cardigans...or winter coat? I don't even know...

Anyway, we somehow managed to get out and about this morning to spend some money (before our week of spending lots of money, mind you), and I just had to share this new place we found. I follow a Houston blog called The Heights Life that sends a weekly update with events taking place in that area of town. It's our favorite area of town and we always manage to sneak in some house-searching while we're there...staying a while in Houston would be much easier if we could somehow land in The Heights. This week's post informed me of a warehouse sale at Installation Antiques, a place I'd never heard of that apparently shares a building with a bakery. Score, that's my kind of shopping.

Let's just say I can't wait for my family to come visit again so I can bring my momma to this place. It was truly stellar...WAY out of my current price range, but so unique and inspiring in terms of home decor. I brought out the trusty iPhone to document some of the set-up.

I want those big circle mirrors so bad. Unfortunately they'd cost us a couple week's worth of paychecks...maybe if I ever learn to bend and weld iron I'll DIY it. 

This mirror here was HUGE! I don't know if it's an actual antique that's always looked like that or the crazy creation of the European owner/restorer/woodworker. Either way, it was very cool...

Don't worry, we didn't leave empty-handed. Once we found the "warehouse sale" portion of the store, things got a little more reasonable. I seem to have a thing for old wooden chairs...which is good if you're thinking price, but bad if you're thinking comfort. People are going to stop coming over because I've filled my home with unfortunately hard sitting-surfaces. Oh well. Regardless, I love our find. It's English (apparently), hefty and well-built, and such a gorgeous color of wood.

I think my most-recent Etsy purchase was made for it, yes? I have no idea where I'm going to put it but I like it a lot and that's all that matters right now.  :)

Off to do some more packing! I'm determined to take lots of pictures this week to make up for my lack of documentation our first year of marriage. Plus we'll finally have pretty backgrounds...those are hard to find in Houston. Happy summer!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


It's not a secret I like to plan. There are few things in life that give me more happy butterflies than a brand spankin' new planner at the start of each year...completely blank and anxiously waiting to be filled in with appointments and to-dos and lists of restaurants to try and movies to watch.

I love my husband, and I love my friends, but sometimes my G2 pen and Erin Condren planner are my companions of choice.


My favorite thing to plan? My favorite If I could make a job out of recipe searching, meal planning, and grocery list writing, I totally would. Any takers? Call me. Seriously.

I was pretty excited about this week's line-up. We made our first trip to a Houston farmer's market this past Saturday and stocked up on lots of seasonal produce, then I came home and looked up a few new recipes to use up our findings. Tonight's dinner was supposed to be Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Curried Apple Couscous and green beans...but unfortunately I ended up working late and was in no mood to do much chopping and stirring and what not by the time I got home. And so we called upon the one meal that is always quick and always welcome...

Breakfast for dinner. Yum.

Tonight was a fairly simple rendition of brinner...scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, cheese toast, and some pineapple, but nonetheless it was delicious. I love breakfast food. I could eat it for every meal of the day (and often do). Tonight's meal inspired me to search through my various recipe holdings and share a few I've found that would make a delightful breakfast...or lunch...or dinner.  :)

Mmm, I'll have one of each, please! For real though, now I'm hungry again...

Monday, April 23, 2012

in a nutshell.

Hello world, it's been a while!

That seems to be a trend, huh...

I'm just sitting here killing time before I go spend my afternoon at the DMV waiting to get my official Texas license (yes, it is long overdue...we're just hoping we don't get served fines for waiting like, a year). So I thought I'd drop in and share a little of what's been keeping us busy!

...and thus not blogging.

Jumped on this train a little while back:

Read the first book in 24 hours...which happened to be the 24 hours before the movie premiered. So we went that weekend. Fast forward 3 or 4 weeks and my Amazon order finally arrived with the remainder of the series. Moving right on through this one now...

...and plan to finish off with the third book as soon as I'm done. I finally finished my 3-course online series to attain my BCaBA, so now when I have "free time" (aka not working), it's actually free time. Soon GRE preparation will fill that space, but until then, I get to read things just for fun! 

Our must-watch show of the moment is The Voice. We can usually be found eating dinner on the couch Monday nights since it starts at 7:00 here in the central time zone. I've heard a lot of talk about how the talent isn't as impressive this season, but I've still thoroughly enjoyed the show. Could be Adam Levine and Blake Shelton...aren't they just precious? :)

We've been doing some serious 2012 vacation-planning as of late, finally making decisions and solidifying them with actual flight bookings and hotel reservations. The last week of May, we'll be celebrating our first wedding anniversary (for real??) with a Southwestern fiesta in New Mexico. Our former Sunday school teachers (an absolutely precious and incredibly gracious couple with some ironic Tennessee ties) recommended we look into Santa Fe for a long weekend trip sometime, and we took their advice and then some! We're staying at a resort in Santa Fe for the first part of the week and then will be traveling up into the mountains to Taos, where we're spending a few nights in a beautiful-looking cabin. I plan to lay out by the pool, eat a lot, do some hiking in the SNOW (because it will still be there), and just relax in the beauty of God's creation for a week. My boss actually encouraged us all to take a vacation before the summer so we don't get burned out during our busiest season...I will readily abide with his request.

Can't forget to mention our other big trip of the year come December...time to return to DISNEY WORLD! Once my finals are all done for the fall, we'll be meeting my folks and sister for a week-long stay at Disney's brand new Art of Animation resort in a Finding Nemo decked-out family suite. And it will be decorated for Christmas!! I'm the only one of my fam who has been at Christmas, and I can NOT wait to take them to see the magic intensified! 

I have to share a recipe I recently tried out as well. These were so delicious, both night-of and for leftovers. A twist on the classic enchilada, they are definitely healthier but still so full of flavor. Pretty darn easy too!

Happy weeks everyone!

Monday, March 19, 2012

things that are fried.

Well I think it's official: we are true Texans. We can proudly say we have been to a real Texas rodeo and experienced all that a real Texas rodeo has to offer. Let's get right to the evidence:

Part I: the carnival. Basically a collection of point-and-shoot games with large, stuffed prizes (that hopefully fit in or on your stroller so you don't have to carry them and sweat even more); a plethora of variations on the same puke-inducing ride (you know, you either go up and down, side to side, around and around, or some combination of the three); and we can't forget the calorie-ridden food carts. Pretty sure I saw the largest mound of chili-cheese curly fries on the planet...being heartily enjoyed by an innocent 5-year-old (ahem, child obesity). But I can't judge too much...I'll admit my sole rodeo goal was to indulge in a fried oreo, which I did, alongside a fried Reese cup, fried cookie dough on a stick, and we can't forget the funnel cake. Whew, detox going on today!

 The oreo...

 The cookie dough...

And the multitude of other options...cheesecake, Snickers, red velvet cake, Fruity Pebbles...?

The carnival was a people-watching mecca. Like Dollywood hardly compares to the sights and sounds present here. Well, that not be totally true...but this place was truly Tex-ified, complete with a huge Ford truck sales area boasting truck trivia, remote-control Ford Raptors in a mini mountainous dessert, and 20 or so vehicles, doors wide open to entice Texan buyers. Classic.

Ok, Part II: the livestock show. We went on the last day, so the rows upon rows of cows had unfortunately moved on. But we still got a glimpse at the huge animal birthing and breeding center and the award winning animals...

That would be a $440,000 steer and a $155,000 goat...everything's bigger in Texas I guess! We also got to witness some pretty fantastic pig races:

 Hard to see because they're going SO fast! They were pretty darn adorable though, especially this little gal, who just broke my heart:
That would be Swifty, the swimming pig. She really didn't wanna jump in, but they made her anyway. Like seriously, my heart still hurts. I just wanted to cuddle her up and take her home!

Oh, there were also Texas. I mean, why not?

Part III: the rodeo. Now we might be true Texans, but we are seriously spoiled true Texans. As in we enjoyed the rodeo and accompanying Alan Jackson concert from a box suite...meaning we had a private bathroom, waitress, and in-room Texan buffet. Oh, and an ice cream sundae cart that created your custom treat right in front of you. (Since we needed more dessert after the fried fest). So are the perks of working for an oil company. Well, not Ben's oil company, we actually have some fantastic friends who were SO kind to invite us to join them for this swanky rodeo opportunity. But anyways, back to the action: 

K, so that's the only picture I got of the actual rodeo...the empty stadium floor. But it was actually quite entertaining! Those guys are super courageous...and must live off of ibuprofen. Those bucking broncs and bulls gave me a headache just watching!

This was a classic event I just had to share: it's called Mutton Bustin'. I'll describe it the same way the announcers did--"We strap your kids to the back of farm animals and call it entertainment." Yep, they sure do.
 Can you see that? There's a small 5-year old child hanging on to that sheep for dear life...thankfully they wear helmets and don't have to go far. It was really quite adorable. I told Ben I wanted our children to be Mutton Busters someday. Character building.

Man down.

All in all, it was such a fun day! We felt like we got to truly enjoy all the rodeo had to offer, and I'm already excited to return next year. Yay for classic Texan fun!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

sunday fun day.

I've gotten pretty used to working on Saturdays. I usually have at least one other morning during the week to sleep in, so I don't miss that too much. I'm incredibly blessed with a loving husband who still wakes up with me and makes a special breakfast almost every weekend. And the center has a totally different vibe on Saturdays...different kids (lots more kids), the addition of Social Skills classes, a bit of a "let's all bind together and conquer this day" mentality...altogether it's a pretty lively environment.

One downside, though: I feel like I've missed out on some serious Houston exploration opportunities by giving up my free Saturdays. This city has some outstanding museums, a plethora of great parks and outdoor hangouts, and tons of cute little coffee shops just calling you to come spend your Saturday morning enjoying a cup and chatting away with friends or husbands. I feel like my list of places to try and things to see is never-ending!

So this past weekend I decided to overcome my lack of Saturday and tackle the city on Sunday.

Our first stop: the Houston Urban Market. I learned about it from a Houston design expert in our Sunday School class and couldn't wait to drag my sweet husband to it. We perused through booths full of antiques, art, handmade pillows, and more...and while I somehow restrained myself from making any purchases, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and plan to return to the next market in May. I swiped these pictures from the internet on account of it was FREEZING Sunday afternoon and I couldn't take my hands out of my pockets to use the camera.

both via

Had to include this one, too. It was the key to my success with my husband's attendance. Golden Beginnings, a Golden Retriever rescue in Houston, was also at the market, sweet puppies in tow. I kinda thought we would leave with such luck. :(

So as I mentioned before, I'm pretty sure Sunday was the coldest it's been in Houston since I've been here. Solid low 40s all day...brr! I saw this as the perfect opportunity to go thaw out at with a nice hot beverage. We ended up at Agora, a coffee shop/bar in the Montrose district (aka the cool people area). I was a little intimidated (hence why I've yet to venture here alone), but felt a surge of courage on this day, so off we went. My hazelnut latte was divine...and huge. I kinda thought I would never sleep again (I was wrong). 

 They even gave me a little chocolate chip cookie to dunk. :)

I would definitely go back. It was a pretty relaxing atmosphere, though most everyone there was doing work or studying for something (who does that...not me!). It was packed, too, which I expected for a cold and dreary Sunday afternoon. Ben and I got lucky and swiped a table as a group of ladies were leaving. We sat long enough to warm up and enjoy our drinks, and then off we went! Time to go home and tackle this...

Yep. I roasted a chicken. Inside a brown paper bag! I might have been afraid the oven was going to blow up in flames the whole time, but it was worth it. Possibly the juiciest chicken I've ever had, all thanks to an earth-friendly Central Market shopping bag. I found the recipe here and just had to see if it really worked. I'm here to report that it did and highly recommend trying it. Maybe you'll have better luck carving it...turns out I don't know my chicken anatomy very well...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

creative outlet.

Well folks. It's Tuesday. There's a new season of Housewives, it's Neal Caffrey night, and I've kind of had a long, hard day. But AT&T Uverse still seems to think it's a good idea to paste a big red "X" on our tv screen, so here we are. You get a blog post!

So for the past couple of months I've been developing a bit of a love affair with all things paper. Stationery, gift tags, party invitations, you name it...the creative possibilities seem to be endless. Cute little paper company blogs are piling up in my Google reader and I've started researching things like chevron-patterned digital paper packs. This past weekend I finally acted on my new interest and created a set of handmade notecards for a friend's birthday. Unfortunately my technological design resources are in Microsoft Word and my trusty HP printer from I'm emphasizing the handmade aspect here. Crafty, yes...sleek and chic? But I was very happy with the result and had a great time working on them. Yay for new friends and Texas birthdays! :)

(She's a native Tennessean turned Texan by husband's post-college job as well, so I thought a little greeting from the Lonestar state would be appropriate.)


I think the little yellow flags are my favorite part...I went ahead and invested in one of those nifty paper cutters so they'd be somewhat straight and uniform. I ended up getting to use it for a whole lot more than the little flags though, since the pre-cut cards I bought refused to get sucked in by my printer...too small I guess? Instead I just bought standard paper-sized photo paper, printed 2 cards per page, and glued the cut-outs to a thick piece of cardstock to give it enough heft.

I had lots of crafty entertainment while watching my online videos this was pretty great!

I've already started thinking about possible designs for other folks with bdays in the near future, so you just might find some in your mailbox soon! Or I might make you come visit Houston in order to obtain them. Paper bribes anyone?

Monday, January 23, 2012

hello and happy monday. it 80 degrees where you are? In January?

No? Then you must not be in Houston, my friend. So much for ever getting to wear that new coat I got for Christmas...I could wear shorts and flip-flops if I wanted to. In January. Ohh Texas...

Anywho, despite the unseasonable warmth, today is a good day. Scratch that, a great day. Why? Because I finally got a day off! An end to to the seemingly endless 6-day work weeks (that doesn't involve tornado warnings, major flooding, and day-long power outages...don't ask). I'm not sure I've ever been so excited to do only real must-do of the day.

I've got other plans too, though, like spending some serious time in the kitchen, hopefully having success making this and these (the first is a completely indulgent and unhealthy rendition of apple pie from the butter-and shortening-loving Pioneer Woman...the second is an attempt to make up for said butter and shortening--no-flour, no-egg, no-sugar cookies that still sound interesting and quite delicious).

I also might snack on some of these leftovers from last first successful pot roast attempt. It was delicious. I credit its overnight bath in a bottle of pinot. :)

Hubs and I did some much-needed escaping from the apartment this past Saturday afternoon. I've had Pottery Barn gift cards burning a hole in my pocket since Christmas, and having finally recovered from the Highland Village December traffic catastrophe, it was time to do some shopping. We purchased a nice little 4-foot shelf to (hopefully) hang over our TV as a pseudo-mantle of sorts, something I've been wanting to do for awhile now. Really I just have an accessory-buying problem and need more places to display my mercury glass addiction. I think it will look nice...if we can find studs in the wall.

On that same Saturday evening outing, Ben and I finally made it to a Bryan Caswell restaurant: Little Bigs. Chef Caswell was once a competitor on Next Iron Chef, and since I tend to go a little Iron Chef crazy any season the show airs, you can imagine I was totally stoked to find myself in a city home to one of its stars. Granted, this particular restaurant was a pretty darn inexpensive hole-in-the-wall sliders and fries joint...but still, the Iron Chef finesse was definitely evident in the food. My vanilla shake did come out of a machine, but it was mighty tasty. Our "4-minute" fries were divine, and we were both more than satisfied with our slider selections. The hamburger version was delish, the chicken rivaled Chick-fil-a, and Ben's pulled-pork was totally Memphis-worthy. Maybe not the nicest building or decor, but a definite winner. Thank you, Bryan Caswell, for providing Iron Chef food even I can afford. :)

Time to fold my laundry! Happy weeks everyone!