Tahoe, Tahoe, off to Cali we go

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MAN, Tahoe was good. It’s just amazingly gorgeous out there. I could have stayed forever and definitely wasn’t ready to head back home. What a way to end 4 out of 5 July weekends flying to opposite US coasts.

The trip started off pretty rough- our flight got cancelled 😦 Since there aren’t a ton of flights to Reno, we wouldn’t have gotten there until late the next day, so we finagled ourselves onto a flight to Oakland. Which got super delayed. We ended up leaving Houston at midnight, renting a car in Oakland, and driving over 3 hours to get to Tahoe. By the time we made it, it was 7 AM Texas time. Phew. Luckily, Dan is a saint and drove the whole way while I slept. Or maybe it was self preservation considering I don’t have the best vision in the dark 🙂 ANYWAY on to the actual fun stuff…

Once we arrived, everything was perfect! The whole weekend was super relaxed. Dan’s mom rented a beautiful cabin so we hung around a lot, playing pool, hot tubbing, and eating at the house. We even did Christmas dinner one night since my BIL was deployed over the holidays. So special! And of course, the nieces and nephew were so fun to play around with. Dan’s mom packed a bunch of water guns and they had a blast with them. We also went on a couple hikes, hung out at King’s Beach, and spent some time in Tahoe City eating ice cream and drinking beer at Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company. I so wish we could have stayed longer- silly vacation day limits 😉

While at King’s Beach, we attempted to play inflatable beer pong. Pretty hilarious considering how big the waves were!!

The adults snuck out for beer and ice cream 😀 I loved stopping for a glass of wine on Christy Hill’s patio- perfection.

These are all from our hike up to Stateline Fire Lookout. Supposed to be kid friendly, but they still had to be carried the whole way, ha! But how cute is Ellie in that scarf Rob brought back from Jordan?! I was also in awe of the size of the pine cones in this part of the world. I wanted to pack some in my suit case.

Still feel so lucky I married into such a great family!

Side note- kicking myself for forgetting to bring the nice camera. These iphone pictures don’t do it justice.

Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day

I love celebrating love. Dan is one of the types that thinks Valentine’s Day is stupid, but I’ve always loved it. What’s not to like about sweet, cheesy cards, chocolates, and flowers?!

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This year, Dan woke up early to pick me up a chocolate croissant (my favorite) from a local bakery/ dessert place- Red’s Dessert Dive. If you know how much Dan likes sleep, then you’ll understand how thoughtful of a gesture this was! He even had a sweet little poem for each piece of our day- even just going church. It was too sweet and I loved it.

Our big event was a beer and cheese pairing at Saint Arnold’s Brewery! Houston Dairymaids provided the cheese and we learned about where it was from (all over Texas) and why it pairs well with beer. Supposedly, beer pairs better with cheese than wine!! Something to do with the bubbles in beer. I was too busy salivating over the cheese. We ended the night with more cheese in the form of Pink’s Pizza. It was a perfect, low-key, day.

 

We actually drank the wine Monday night because I wanted to stretch Valentine’s out. It’s from William Chris Vineyards in Fredericksburg and has the most perfect wine label for the occasion. If I’m remembering correctly, the lip prints are actually from real people at the winery. We’ve been saving it for Valentine’s and totally forgot… for the last 2 years! Ha. At least wine ages well 😉

Sidenote- I’m in love with Emily McDowell’s Etsy shop– her cards are heart felt without being sappy and the lettering is beautiful. I got some Valentine’s cards here this year (and have in the past), but she also has the best sympathy, mother/fathers day, and anniversary cards! I’m not always the best with words, but I think she nails it. A few of my favorites, that I may or may not have purchased:

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And Happy Anniversary to my sweet parents!! Married 35 years 🙂 Look how cute:

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The Boxes Take Music City

A couple of weeks ago, we went on a vacation with my family to Nashville! My mom has gotten really into genealogy, so they spent the week doing research in the area and visiting family, and Dan and I met up with them for a long weekend. And let me say, they don’t call it music city for nothing. Even some of the boutiques had bands playing! I liked to think of it as my personal serenade.

My parents rented a cute, old house for the week right off 12th South (which was an awesome neighborhood- more below) and it ended up being a few houses down from where my cousin lived when she first moved to Nashville! Small world- I love those coincidences.

We flew in Thursday night and feasted on Southern cooking at its’ finest at Monell’s. The whole meal is served family style, potentially sharing with others if your party isn’t large enough to fill the table! Plus, it was in a beautiful historic home- with a neon sign in the front window 😉

FRIDAY

Brunch at Marche! We waited almost an hour for a table, which was a little crazy for a Friday, but I’d say it was worth it. My savory crepes were delightful, the coffee just right, and my almond croissant too yummy (they were out of the chocolate croissants… why are they always out of the chocolate ones?!).

We peeked around East Nashville for a hot second and went into Woodland Wine Merchant, which was definitely the coolest liquor store I’ve ever been in (or “Purveyor of Uncommon Wine, Spirits & Beer” as they call it). The branding is crazy adorable, also.

Next up was a visit to The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home. It has been incredibly well maintained and the grounds were beautiful. We did quite a bit of walking to see it all. The audio tour was also fantastic, and we all learned a lot listening to that.

  

My mom had read about a neat vintage shop (I guess that’s what you’d call it?!) called Old Made Good that we stopped at next. They take old items and put a twist on them- no photos allowed in the shop, but the floors were covered in pink glitter. My dad absolutely despises glitter (3 girls on drill team will do that to you) so it was funny to see his reaction. Some of the funniest pieces were old paintings with a surprise update added. It reminded me of this clip from The Last Man on Earth (does anyone watch that show other than Dan and I?!). Seriously couldn’t stop laughing for DAYS over this. Oh, and BUNNIES!

We ate dinner at The Pharmacy, which I could easily see myself hanging out at on a regular basis if I were a Nashvillian (?). Cold beer, perfectly shaded biergarten, and some seriously tasty burgers. I had the stroganoff burger and now my mouth is watering. Don’t you hate it when you find something so great and can’t get it anywhere else?? Not that I should be eating stroganoff burgers on the regular…

I just really adore this guy. I actually smile every time I see him smile.

That night, the young ones ventured down the street to check out some local joints. We tried The Flipside, Embers Ski Lodge, and 12 South Taproom & Grill. Dan hit it off with a man at the bar (who apparently is the head of a big music association and has an impressive resume) who recommended we go see some live music at Station Inn. This venue has been around forever and I’m SO glad we went. The band was very talented and I think most of them had been playing their entire lives. I especially loved the banjo player, who absolutely killed it.

SATURDAY

We had brunch at Pinewood Social which is the coolest concept. There is a swimming pool. At the restaurant. And a bowling ally. And just really neat places to hang out. I didn’t want to creep anyone out by taking a picture of the pool (and thus people in their swimwear), but it is just the most genius idea for hot climates. You can reserve lounge chairs and have all your drinks brought out to you, just like a country club. The design of the place was also AWESOME and I couldn’t stop looking at everything. Especially the stork wallpaper.


We shopped for a while before heading over Tennessee Brew Works, which was probably Dan’s favorite part of the trip (surprise, surprise). The layout of the space was great- double-decker patio and a plenty of tables upstairs, with plexiglass overlooking the brewery. Considering my love of basil, it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed their basil farmhouse ale. Dan, can you please make lots of beer with herbs?!

Our twins!!!

My mom planned the entire trip with pretty much no help (thanks mom :)), but my one contribution was picking dinner- Rolf & Daughters. Maaaybe one of my favorite restaurants I’ve been too. Is that too extreme? I loved everything about it. Rose? check. In an old warehouse with twinkly lights? check. Super fresh ingredients? check.

Considering we were in Nashville, we couldn’t miss out on visiting Broadway. However, visiting Broadway with an under 21-year-old is a little tricky. We did manage one spot where we somehow devoured curly fries… after our large dinner. Healthy. Tara, Dan, and I stuck around to hear some more music and check out Robert’s Western World before we headed home. Broadway was fairly similar to 6th street in Austin, with a country twist, and if you’re into bachelorette parties, it’s your spot! Glad we saw it, but not even close to my favorite part of Nashville.

 SUNDAY

We couldn’t leave with some Tennessee barbeque. I’m really picky about my beef (hello, Texas), so I generally order pork outside my home state. Edley’s is pretty famous in Nashville and definitely hit the spot.

We spent the afternoon touring another plantation- Belle Meade. If you get married here, you are lucky. It was gorgeous. The family history was also really interesting, as they were the premiere thoroughbred stud farm. Several famous race horses can trace their lineage back to horses owned by this family (think Seabiscuit and American Pharaoh). We also got to see one of my cousins and his adorable family! Unfortunately, no pics 😦

 Thanks mom & dad for a great trip!! I can officially add Nashville to my very short list of places I’d live outside TX.

Land of Beer and Beautiful Weather (at least sometimes…)- Portland!

Wow, I’m WAY behind. Work has been crazy between traveling (to Midland- most exciting city ever ;)) and us moving floors and just lots of projects. Trying to play catch up now! And this post deleted mid-writing so forgive me if it’s not very detailed, because I just got a little tired of it.

A few weekends ago, we flew up to Portland for a family visit. My brother-in-law grew up there and was our official tour guide! Considering I’m such a huge planner, you will be shocked to discover- I did no planning. NONE. I looked at one Thrillist article about Portland breweries and that was it. Weird for me, but also kind of nice to just go with the flow. The main point of visiting was to hang out with family anyways, so any activities were just extra.

Y’all, the weather was beyond unbelievable. Having visited in January, I know it wasn’t the norm, but man was it good. I swear, we’ve been the luckiest lately! First NYC, then Portland. Fingers crossed this continues. We spent the evenings just hanging on the back porch of Rob’s parent’s house, in their beautiful backyard, surrounded by raspberries bushes. Which I ate handfuls of. The summers there are like something out of a dream. Mostly because that could never be a reality in Houston. If we try to sit outside, we get covered in mosquitoes and start sweating within 3 minutes.

We got into town fairly early, so we headed to Portland Brewing Co. for dinner. They make Pyramid, if you’ve tried that! It was the first of many breweries. The fish and chips were great! Then after the kiddos went to bed, we walked over to Laurel Public House. They have a few locations in Portland. Heavy on IPA’s so not my favorite ever.

The next morning, we drove up to Mt. Hood to see some snow. They had a dry winter, so while there was snow, there was’t much. However, people were still skiing! We got to see Timberline Lodge, which was beautiful with really nice woodwork inside. This is where the exterior shots of the lodge in The Shining were filmed.

After that, we drove on to Hood River for lunch at Full Sail. Their Amber is one of the best and there was a nice view of the river. We also tried out Double Mountain Brewery. The service was fantastic and they had a Red Ale called the Engineer just for Dan 🙂 Plus, we hit a couple great fruit stands. The cherries… and blueberries… and everything, so yum and fresh. I could have spent days in Hood River.

To take a break from beer, we visited Cathedral Ridge Winery. The wine was great, but even better was sharing a bottle while laying in the grass and enjoying the scenery. Man, I really loved it.

On the way back into town, we stopped at Multnomah Falls. This is a can’t miss when in Oregon. Beautiful!

Saturday morning, we went to the Rhododendron Gardens which were stunning. The kids (and adults) loved feeding the ducks and geese. I was legitimately more scared of the geese than the babes were. I’m a huge chicken. But they were mean!!

We had lunch at Widmer Brothers. Their hefe is one of my all time favorites. The brewery scene is SO different in Portland. Pretty much all of them serve food and it’s actually very good. We spent the afternoon brewery hopping in the Pearl District.

Deschutes- Packed! But great. The actual brewery is in Bend, which we hope to visit sometime.
Fat Head’s- A crowd favorite. Lots of fun beers, like blueberry, which was surprisingly tasty and not at all syrupy. If you ever visit, try to branch out of the norm. Dan’s mom picked her flight, to the boy’s skepticism, and it ended up being the best. Tons of options!
10 Barrel Brewing- I liked the interior and the beer but it wasn’t super special.
Rogue- We sat on the patio and tried some pretty interesting beers. For example, Beard Beer, made from yeast in one of the brewer’s beards. Weird, yes. But it tasted good. They also have several local influences, like Marionberry and Voodoo Doughnut beer. Loved it.
Cascade- On the way back, we stopped here for their sour beers. And I’m sorry, but I’m just not a sour fan. Yuck. Not sure how this is becoming popular, but I guess some people like it!
Forewarning: Dan and I take a picture in front of every brewery we visit… it’s the only time he willingly takes photos with me so I take advantage.

That evening, we soaked up the weather while Rob grilled. We also had to soak up being around our niece and nephew!! We most likely won’t see them until November, and when you’re that age you change so much. I’m going to miss them so much. We’ll miss you too Rob & Jenny 😉 Ugh just look at these cute faces.

That night, we went out with Dan’s parents in Nob Hill (a bartender had told us it was cool), just because we could because we are kid-less. Gotta take advantage while we can! Will have to explore that neighborhood more the next time around.

Thanks Rob & family for showing us a great time in Portland! We truly had a blast and hope to visit again soon.

Memorial Day Weekend in the Hill Country

After a bridal shower in Houston, we were off for Memorial Day weekend! Barley was clearly stoked.


We got in fairly late Saturday night and met up with Dan’s parents at Cultures Bar. Pretty typical bar/grill with a good beer selection and ice cold mugs. Bonus points for icy mugs. Dan needed a cold one after how intensely he had to concentrate, driving through all the rain! Dan’s mom had made dinner reservations at The Nest, which was just divine. It’s in an adorable old home, a few blocks off Main Street with the perfect amount of lighting and the most affable servers. We had a French grandma who was a hoot! Not to mention the quality of the food, which all of us agreed was top notch. Dan and I both had seafood (scallops and shrimp) while his Dad had the filet and his mom tried the quail. We finished the night with a chocolate martini, because when you’re with Ann, chocolate is a requirement 🙂

We stopped by House Wine on the way back to the hotel and they let Barley come in and hang out. He loved it, of course.

  

Sunday morning, the sun came out and we were all surprised at what a beautiful day it was! Luckily, El Milagro has a charming patio with a fountain where we ate breakfast and enjoyed the weather. Note: only 1 breakfast taco is necessary. Barley mostly enjoyed chasing the birds and debating drinking the fountain water.

Later on, we met up with some of my best friends from home for lunch at Fredericksburg Herb Farm in their Farm Haus Bistro. The cutest, with a big garden in front! I was also shocked at how affordable it was too! The weekend was definitely full of good food at new places. You can stay in the most precious cottages on the farm too. Maybe next time 🙂

      

Afterwards, we just had to hit up some wineries… because when in Fredericksburg this is a must. First up was Hilmy Cellars. I had been wanting to go back because of the good wine, but mostly for the cute wine dogs 🙂 No sighting of them that day, but JB made friends with the rooster out on their gorgeous patio and we had a guinea sighting! A view of vineyards makes for excellent scenery.


    

Then we were on to Grape Creek to meet back up with Dan’s rents. They have been wine club members there for a while and I have to agree that it’s the most beautiful winery in Fredericksburg. Best to just buy a bottle (or 2) and sit and enjoy. The live music wasn’t too shabby either!

Barley’s face!! Derp.

        

We headed on to Johnson City that evening and had dinner at Pecan Street Brewing. Not that there are many other options in the small town, birthplace of LBJ with a population of 1,700. We were seated in the front and scarfed down our brick oven pizza. Then, I saw a sign in the back pointing to games & dancing! Through the door it was a totally different restaurant. Garage doors pulled up to let in the warm air, a big band playing country classics, and locals two-stepping across the dance floor. They also had a huge loft with pool tables, shuffleboard, and folding chairs galore. Even though the boys got fairly competitive at the shuffleboard table, it was a blast. Dan even swept me around the room while they played the last song of the night and it was the best. Just have to get a few beers in him to get him dancing 😉


The next morning we visited some re-sale/vintage shops where Joanna Gaines gets some of the things she uses on Fixer Upper! They were pretty awesome and I could definitely see the potential  of a lot of the pieces. My favorite was a wooden trough, but it was $300, which was a little expensive for a centerpiece. Dan’s mom was able to find some awesome doors to use as a countertop on their kitchen island, and gorgeous sliding barn doors! Successful trip for them!


A Very Full-Bellied Weekend in NYC Part II

SATURDAY

We managed to get up a litttle bit earlier. Definitely needed my coffee so I had “coffee that doesn’t suck” as we made our way south to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a fairly long walk from Kim’s all the way to Brooklyn, but the weather was so amazing, it felt like I was in heaven. And walking across the bridge is pretty awesome, even when crowded with fellow tourists. It’s such an iconic structure and when you look behind you as you cross, all of Manhattan is splayed out before you.

   

Once we got across, we grabbed a pizza from Juliana’s and headed down to the park under the bridge to have a picnic. Green grass + blue skies + views + pizza = oh yes. We walked along the coast (is it called that?) to get to the subway and they had soccer fields and basketball courts out on top of the piers. I can only imagine getting to play on that as a kid. The subway stops are a little farther apart in Brooklyn so we got to see some really cute neighborhoods as we walked, which I loved. Every time I’m in NYC, I pick another place I’d like to live and I think Dan and I decided on Brooklyn this trip. I wish we could have spent so much more time exploring.

   

  
Next stop was Brooklyn Brewery, because we can’t go anywhere without a brewery visit these days. The line was long and our throats were parched, but once we were inside with a cold one, all was right again. The tour here was also one of the best we’ve been on, with a lot of insight into the founders and why they started brewing, as well as their link to Brooklyn. I can only hear about how beer is made so many times. It was also interesting that the branding is by the same guy who did “I heart NY”.  Oh, and apparently NYC wins water quality awards? Drink from the tap people. I also found an IPA I liked!!! Hallelujah, my beer palate is finally developing. It was the Gold IPA and is only served at the brewery, so that’s a bummer. After the brewery, we grabbed a bite at Spritzenhaus, which was rocking. Great hot dogs and a huge beer selection.

 

      

Then it was time to head back into Manhattan for a show!! We had bought discounted tickets at TKTS that morning for Matilda and I couldn’t wait. It was SO GOOD. The kids in the show were so talented. The girl who played Matilda was only 8! We saw her on the street afterwards, walking with her parents 🙂 Too cute. It followed the movie fairly well, but obviously  not everything translates between a movie and the stage. It was also a musical, and that part was fantastic. We loved Miss Trunchbull the most- they actually cast a man and dressed him up like a woman and he was hilarious. So perfect because Miss Trunchbull is supposed to manly to begin with. We stopped by a low key bar, Tom & Jerry’s, while we waited for Kim, and then had another late dinner at Blue Ribbon’s Fried Chicken :/ It’s prettty embarrassing how much we ate over the weekend.

6th row!


    

SUNDAY

More good food- we brunched at Sarabeth’s Tribeca, which is just about the prettiest place ever. From the giant fresh flowers to the white everything, I loved it all. And the food was good too 🙂 To work it off, we rented bikes and did the loop around Central Park, which is about 7 miles. I love seeing all the nature in the middle of such a big city. The blooms were beautiful!


Ellie would have loved this 🙂

              

So sad to leave. Already dreaming of going back. I heart NY.

A Long Easter Weekend

It was SO good to spend the long weekend at home. Can I call it that anymore? I haven’t even really lived in that house except for a few weeks at time, when home on college breaks since they moved into it after I was already at UT. Either way, it’s the same place I grew up, off the same road as before. And my sisters were there, so I think I can still call it home for a little longer. Maybe I’ll stop after I have my own kids.

I’m rambling, but it was a fantastic weekend filled with gorgeous blue skies, sunshine, lots of food & beer, and quality time with family.

FRIDAY>> Deep Ellum Arts Festival. Tara moved into this Dallas neighborhood for grad school and it’s changed immensely. Very cool area. Artsy and modern with older building mixed in. Only purchase was a hat for dad! None of us were prepared for the intense sun and all ended up with sunburns. Glad we got it because it’s supposed to rain for a week straight here in Houston. We all really enjoyed lunch at Brain Dead Brewing. Chips and salsa were to die for and the beer menu was really diverse. And Deep Ellum Brewery was awesome! Fun place to hang out, both inside and out.

Nanny nanny boo boo, I’m taller than you

Bar LOVED this. Obviously.

A 200 lb, 5 year old Dane, named Admiral

SATURDAY>> Shopping with the girls and lunch in Ft. Worth at The Bearded Lady. Also, Easter egg dying. What do you expect from a family of girls? We even got Dan to do a few 🙂

It wasn’t our best year…

Mine & Dan’s favorite eggs

SUNDAY>> Easter! A day of celebration. We went to the church I grew up in for the service and afterwards my mom made a delicious lunch. Home cooked food from your mom can’t be beat. And my mom still puts together a killer Easter basket. Then we headed down to Waco for Easter with Dan’s family. The little ones did great at their egg hunt- Ellie would intentionally skip eggs to only get the pink ones. And we got to make our pizza’s in Dan’s Aunt’s brick oven! So nice that all the cousins, aunts & uncles, and grandparents are within a couples hours of each other. Makes me wish all mine were closer!

The whole time we were decorating, Dan’s only concern was if he would get to make deviled eggs out of them. He got to.

Dan’s Easter “basket” from me.

Barley’s “I am not a horse” face

**Most photos from Tara’s camera