31 May 2010

Weekend Update: Caddo Lake and Other Fine Things

On Saturday morning, as we feasted on blueberry muffins and coffee with Coconut Creme creamer, we watched a little TV. Truth be told, I love watching the Saturday morning line-up of That's So Raven, Hannah Montana, and The Suite Life of Zach and Cody. I do realize that I've seen most episodes at least four times, but when you don't have cable for several years, you adjust to the programming on the free channels. And sometimes you like it. A lot. Since Husby was watching with me, I didn't know how much more Hannah Montana he could handle, so I offered to let him change the channel. Wouldn't you know we found the BEST show on PBS?

(I would like to point out those things in the above paragraph that could cause you to pass judgement: Coconut Creme creamer, my preferred Saturday morning viewing, and choosing to watch PBS. Go ahead, judge. Although I DON'T HIGHLY RECOMMEND the television line-up, I DO HIGHLY RECOMMEND the Coconut Creme creamer and some shows on PBS.)

The show we watched--and set to record future episodes--is The Daytripper. It's this guy out of Austin, Texas, who travels to different cities around Austin that make for perfect day trips. I was all ready to get in the car and do this day trip: a stop in Luling for BBQ and a watermelon; then to Gonzales to see the "Come and Take It" cannon and onto Shiner, Texas, to visit a little brewery. Then I remembered that a day trip for him would require a weekend for us. Still itching to travel, by lunch, I decided that we WOULD GO SOMEWHERE. And that somewhere was Caddo Lake.

Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in Texas. Let me tell you, if that's what you get with natural down in the South, I'll take artificially made lakes. And by artificially made lakes, I sure do mean swimming pools. Although mysterious with the cypress trees and Spanish moss decorating the trees, I was a little hesitant that the map given to us had an alligator prominently on the front of it. I really don't do alligators. Oh, and did I mention that we took Crickett? A 14 pound dog would be just the perfect sized snack for a gator. We didn't go too close to the water so that she'd be guaranteed another day. Although, I suppose it would have been fine since people were actually SWIMMING IN THE WATER THAT LOOKED LIKE CHOCOLATE MILK. It gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it!

Since canoeing was out of the question, we decided hiking through the nature trails would be a good outdoors-y activity. We had a great time, and Crickett loved it! I felt like I could become a little more outdoors-y. After a bit of walking around, it was time for lunch. We came prepared with our cooler filled with sandwich makings, cherries, Pringles, and Mini Oreos. Once we felt refueled, we decided to escape the heat of the day with a side trip to Jefferson, Texas. Filled with antique shops, Husby stayed in the car with Crickett and read his book while a perused some of the stores. As we'll have kids one day, we've worked to build a children's library. I found a used bookstore and scored several Dr. Suess books. Then we headed back to Caddo Lake.

We hiked around another trail for a bit before we decided to set out our chairs and blankets for an afternoon read. All was well until Crickett came and stood beside me, at which point I DISCOVERED TICKS ON HER. OH.MY.GOSH. I had a mini-breakdown, since neither of us has had experience in tick-removal. We immediately packed our things and headed home. We received many tips for removing the parasites, but decided to go with the recommended light-a-match-and-burn-it-out-then-touch-the-tick-with-it-before-removing-it-with-tweezers. AND IT WORKED! Hallelu!

So after discovering ticks, I decided that the outdoors could be for others who enjoy sweating. I don't mind it, as long as I know there's some relief. Ha! I much preferred my morning coffee with a great friend, followed by making a Memorial Day dinner of chicken and dumplings with chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

29 May 2010

I Heart this Book

Over the past couple of years, several of my friends read Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. Never being one for giving into trends, especially trendy books, I declined their recommendations to read it. Then I decided that buying it wouldn't hurt anything; it could sit on the bookshelf and wait its turn. Last summer, I conceded and decided that it would be a decent enough book to flip through during a weekend.

Wouldn't you know that my friends were right? Wow, it was amazing. Once I picked up this glossy, orange book, I read it in about 24 hours, flipping through the chapters, wondering how several parts of a book--a memoir--could so closely mirror my life. And this summer, I've begun the re-read. Already, I'm moved. It makes me want to celebrate everyday. It does. I think I'll have it finished over this long weekend. And now, I'm about to place an advance order for her next book, Bittersweet, to be released later in the summer.

Here are a few of my most favorite passages in the Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist:
I have always been essentially waiting. Waiting to become something else, waiting to be that person I always thought I was on the verge of becoming, waiting for that life I thought I would have. In my head, I was always one step away. In high school, I was biding my time until I could become the college version of myself, the one my mind could see so clearly. In college, the post-college "adult" person was always looming in front of me, smarter, stronger, more organized. Then the married person, then the person I'd become when we have kids. For twenty years, literally, I have waited to become the thin version of myself, because that's when life will really begin.
And through all that waiting, here I am. My life is passing, day by day, and I am waiting for it to start. I am waiting for that time, that person, that event when my life will finally begin.
I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want t sleep hard on clean, white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my every day to make God belly laugh, glad he gave life to someone who loves the gift.
I don’t want to wait anymore. I choose to believe that there is nothing more sacred or profound than this day. I choose to believe that there may be a thousand big moments embedded in this day, waiting to be discovered like tiny shards of gold. The big moments are the daily, tiny moments of courage and forgiveness and hope that we grab on to and extend to one another. That’s the drama of life, swirling all around us, and generally I don’t even see it, because I’m too busy waiting to become whatever it is I think I am about to become. The big moments are in every hour, every conversation, every meal, every meeting.
You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working toward, a body worth feeding, a soul worth tending, and beyond that, the God of the universe dwells within you, the true culmination of super and natural.
You are more than dust and bones.
You are spirit and power and image of God.
And you have been given Today.
I could go on and on; there are so many wonderful passages in this book that is honest and powerful. But if I did, then you wouldn't need to read it. Check it out from the library, borrow it from a friend or pick it up in a bookstore. You won't be disappointed. Your heart will be happy; you'll want to shout "amen" as you read and read passages again; you'll wonder how you can learn to celebrate life everyday.

28 May 2010

A Few (More) of My Favorite Things

It's Friday! After today, the school year is officially over. Since I work as a college advisor, our office is open for most of the summer (minus a few weeks for vacation), but we start summer hours next week. It's like having a part-time job in the summer. For not being a teacher it's a pretty good deal!

Today, I'm participating in Kelly's Korner Show Us Your Life: Your Favorite Things. I posted a few of my favorites in February, but I have a few more, so let's get to it.

A few of my favorite things:


I married him almost eight months ago. (Where has the time gone?!) And I love, love, love him.


Crickett was my Christmas present five years ago. And, oh, how much fun she is. Even though I've suffered embarrassment as she's chased down the dog catcher, I think she's the best dog EVER. For sure, she's the cutest and most expressive! You can read more about her here. Oh, and because I'm sure you're wondering, I finally remembered where her name came from. In Little Women (the one with Susan Sarandon and Winona Rider), Marmee's nickname for Beth is "Cricket." Don't ask about the spelling. I just like having an extra "t."


I like to cook old stand-bys (meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, and apple pie), but I also like the challenge of a new recipe. In the past few months, I've become adventurous in the kitchen. I enjoy using new and different ingredients. My favorite recipe book is Barefoot Contessa At Home. I've not been disappointed by any of the foods I've made.


I love to play games; I always have. After the merger of households, we have a closet FULL of board games. My sweet husband proposed to me while we were playing LIFE. It was my choice of activity for my birthday. (Can you tell you're not on the blog of a twenty year old?) Had I known that's all it took for a proposal, I would have done it WAY earlier. Ha!


I love any reason to celebrate. Pi Day? Every March 14, we have pie for dinner and dessert. (Think chicken pot pie, Shephard's pie, even quiche.) This year, I really wanted to have a Kentucky Derby party, but I found out about the Derby the day before. Next year, it's happening: big hats and mint juleps are a must! The above picture was taken on Husby's half-birthday. Since he has a December birthday, I don't feel he gets as much attention as the rest of us. You know, it's crammed in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm pretty sure he love's his half-birthday cake.

25 May 2010

It Makes Life Easier

By nature, I'm a list maker. And because of an OCD tendency, each list must be pretty much perfect: straight writing, no misspellings, consistency, consistency, consistency. I'm known to rewrite lists. It's a problem. I realize that. But I'm okay with it.

A couple of months after Husby and I were married, I found a pre-made grocery list. I might love The Container Store just a little too much, andI couldn't resist this one item by the register.

(I totally give into the marketing technique of putting things by the register. I'm not too proud to admit that. Athough most of my impulse buys haven't turned out nearly as useful. I mean, really, who under the age of 65 enjoys Reader's Digest ? I do. Because it's by the register. And the stories are just so great!)

Anyway...the fabulous little "All Out Of" list has a magnetic backing, so it stays on the refrigerator. It's so super easy to check the appropriate box when we're out of or low on an item. And if it's not on the list? There are extra blanks! I heart it. A lot. They easily tear off on my Saturday grocery shopping adventure.
A few weeks after the find of the century, I found another item that I L.O.V.E. As a planner, I need to know what we're eating for dinner all week. This "What to Eat" list is a dream! Since it also has a magnetic backing, it's right below our grocery list. As I write in the meals we'll have, I simply check off what I need to purchase at the store. It also has options for eating out and non-dinner meals.
This is my next list to buy. It's a packing list! Several days before a trip, I make an EXTENSIVE packing list, including the brand of the jeans or black shirt I plan to take. (See: OCD.) Inevitably, I forget my pajamas and my hairbrushes. I cannot count the number of times I've forgotten these things. You'd think I would learn a lesson, but I haven't. Now that I have another person to add to the packing list, this is a must. To have a stack of pre-made lists sounds like heaven!

I'm off to make a list for tonight. We're having people over for dinner. And I need a plan of attack!

(By the way, this is not an endorsement of these products by Knock Knock; no money coming my way! This post is my personal opinion. I'm just sharing my love for these items!)

24 May 2010

Vacation Planned? Check.

Because our wedding was in October--a very busy time at both our jobs--Husby and I didn't get to go on the Honeymoon we really wanted. Instead we travelled to San Francisco and Sonoma Valley where we had a fabulous time. I cannot wait to visit those two destinations again!

Our plan was to take our dream honeymoon this summer. And it's going to happen! We bought tickets recently, and--as a planner--I think about it all the time. I cannot wait.

We'll visit:

Budapest, Hungary

Vienna, Austria

Prague, Czech Republic

Husby and I are both very excited about all three destinations. I've visited Budapest on multiple occasions. During college, I spent summers in Romania; Budapest was the nearest and safest city with an airport. We'd fly into this magical city and spend a few days before taking a very old train into Targu-Mures, Romania. (Affectionately called "TM" by the summer missionaries.) I have lots of wonderful memories of the short breaks we'd have in Budapest, and I cannot wait to share them with Husby. We're rounding out our trip to Vienna and Prague--cities we've both wanted to visit.

Have you visited any of these? Any suggestions? (TM-ers, help me remember the name of our favorite restaurants in Budapest.)

23 May 2010

Weekend Update: Things Learned

For the most part, we had a nice, fun and relaxing weekend. Husby and I both took off work on Friday. (I had to plan this ahead of time. One of us is fine taking a mental health day a couple of times a year. The other isn't so much okay with calling in at the last minute.) There were a few things to check off our list (when is there not?), but it was so nice not to have a super-squeezed agenda. Our only must do was arrive at The Ballpark at Arlington for a Rangers v. Cubs game at 7:05pm.

In order of things learned:

1. Passport pictures are now taken with a digital camera. This technology has progressed since my last passport. Hallelu! My passport was my last legal document (I think) to get a name change, but it also came on the heels of it expiring after ten years. Let me say, I hate my current/old passport picture. I was so glad to be able to update this picture. (Secretly, I always hoped to marry before ten years--just so the picture could change. Ha!) But I was somewhat concerned that my fate for the picture would be like Monica getting her driver's license in Friends. Remember when she kept getting ugly driver's license pictures? She paid to get several new pictures. And I wasn't above doing that. After all, when I got my driver's license done in the fall, I asked the lady to see the picture. She chuckled. I'm glad it was a good picture because I'm not sure she would have taken it again. But the lady at Kinko's brought out her digital camera. I was ready to ask to see it after she'd taken it, but before I could, she offered. We both saw my hair sticking out in one place, and she was more than happy to take it again! The second was acceptable. I decided they can't be great pictures because of the white background.

2. Baseball is dangerous, or don't sit above Row 24 at The Ballpark in Arlington, if you're behind home plate. This is a favorite place for foul balls to strike. A poor guy sitting three rows behind us was NAILED in the nose with a foul ball. I've never seen a nosebleed like this. Followed by a crooked nose. Followed by the guy leaving. Probably to go to the hospital for said broken nose. The next inning, a BASEBALL BAT flew into the crowd. Followed by more foul balls than I've ever seen in a game. This game required total attention. Socializing was a very risky behavior.

3. If you attend a baseball game where the opponent is from somewhere up north, don't say things like, "Who are the Black Hawks?" with a condescending tone. This behavior puts you at full advantage for any man (who cares about hockey) within hearing range to turn around and answer, "Umm...the hockey team!!" in a condescending tone.

4. If you eat at Ol' South Pancake House in Fort Worth (which I recommend) on a Saturday morning, the vacant parking lot to the south of the restaurant is off limits. For normal people, authorized parking in vacant lots means that Monday-Friday, don't park in the lot. But for the owner of this lot, he means DON'T PARK THERE EVER!!! Or else after you've enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with lots of coffee and wonderful pancakes, your car will have been towed. Conveniently, said owner is rumored to own the taxi company. Not only does he have your car towed, he gets a little more of your money by providing HIS taxi cab. Also rumored is that he owns the gas station across the street. Racket, perhaps?

5. If in the past you avoid grocery shopping at WalMart, but you've paid an astronomical amount to have your car released from the wrecker lot, then you suddenly feel that WalMart will offer the better deals for groceries. My list is made, and I'm off. Eating out is at the bottom of our "things to do" for the next month or so. Wish me luck!

18 May 2010

Loving Lucite

I've fallen for lucite. I must admit, it took me quite a while to warm up to it. I mean, who uses PLASTIC in their home?! But as my taste has become a tad more modern, I think I'll need to be careful not to overdo it!

This weekend, I attended a graduation party. The mom is an interior designer who is now my design idol. I plan on calling her soon to see if I can come take pictures of her house. (I'm serious.) I fell in LOVE with her lucite dining room table. The shape was so traditional, but the material made it a little funky. She paired it with "real" chairs. I just couldn't get enough. Did I mention that she used light blue gingham dining room curtains? Talk about cute! She also used a lucite end table in a sitting room that has a pinkish couch with green lattice throw pillows. I'm guessing it's "her" room as the only girl in a house of boys.

Here are a few super duper cute lucite items. (At least super duper cute to me!)

This trunk could be so cute in a living room. Perhaps as a coffee table with a couple of stacks of coffee table books? I want it.
Doesn't this room look inviting? I have to think the lucite chair helps. It doesn't break up the room like a normal chair might. This picture confirms my love of using light blue in a house. Did I mention my new decorating idol's dining room is painted light blue? Love.
Have I mentioned my love for light blue? What about that I'm looking for more modern chairs for our living room that what we currently have? Anyone know about my obsession for my sweet miniature dachshund? Did you know I love lucite? Could one picture be any more perfect? Can you see the side of the round lucite end table? Umm. Yes, please.I do love this coffee table. CB2 has their version of this table. I think it might be a must.And my final love for the day: this super great lucite tray. I feel that this is a possible DIY. A simple acrylic tray with some wrapping paper and a little shellac? I think it can be done. Unless I can find this for a GREAT price. It would look great on a non-lucite coffee table.

I'm off to drool over these pictures. And try to work at least one into our budget!

13 May 2010

I'm a Little Behind

In 2009, with wedding and all, I read 18 books. So far, in 2010, I've completed two books. And we're halfway through 2010. My completed book list includes: Three Cups of Tea--required reading for our entire school--and Meet the Austins.

(While reading Three Cups of Tea, I had to have something to offset the awful writing, and I thought Madeline L'engle could do just that, thus Meet the Austins. It's a VERY SIMPLE READ, so I sped through it.)

(I would like to clarify that I TOTALLY SUPPORT the mission of Greg Mortenson. I do not think he or his co-author are good writers. Period.)

(I really wanted to make that a bad sentence to invalidate my position on bad writing.)

(But I couldn't do it. I can't knowingly create bad sentences. But I know who can!)

(Wait, I think I just invalidated myself by starting TWO sentences with BUT!)

What is wrong with me?! Two books in 5 months! Currently, I'm working on City of Thieves. I'm also re-reading Anne of Green Gables (read when I was quite young) and Cold Tangerines (a book off of last years list). I love, love, love Cold Tangerines, which is why I've added it to my list of current reads. It's not that I don't like the others that I'm reading, but I feel like I need to complete a book that I really enjoy to continue on my way of reading several other books this year.

On my list of things to read THIS YEAR are: The Help, The Sign for Drowning, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, Same Kind of Different as Me, The Know it All, The Almost Moon, and Bittersweet.

But that doesn't quite add up to 18, and I'm determined to at least meet the number of books read last year. I would LOVE suggestions. What's been a good read lately? I'll read almost anything; I'm not a huge fan of "chick lit." (I'm not a huge fan of the word, for that matter.) And just so you know, I totally judge books by their cover. Rarely am I disappointed.

12 May 2010

Some Stuff I'd Like To Share

1. At lunch today, I realized that when I refer to a year, it's considered August through July instead of January through December. My brain never fully switched over the non-school way of thinking. Which could explain why I didn't enjoy the "corporate" world. (Not that I was ever really in the corporate world, but what else could I call the non-school world?) I love working in a school. And I also love planners that run August through July. There's continuity.

2. I'm on the downhill slope of--quite possibly--the busiest year (see above explanation) of my life. And I made it! And came out of the deal with a husband. Nice!

3. Our house is at a busy intersection. Since we live in an area of town where kids walk to school--most often without a parent--there's a crossing guard at that intersection. And...he worries me. A couple of months ago, another crossing guard showed up. The regular guard is a little older, so I assumed he might have gotten sick. You know, like older people do in the winter. Then he returned. With a walker. Recently, he's upgraded to a cane. (I guess physical therapy is going well.) So, he hobbles across the street with a cane in one hand and his stop sign in the other. I just know one morning, I'm going to have to save the crossing guard. I don't know if that's a good thing for the children to see.

4. Two weekends ago, my husband DID throw me a birthday party. We had so. much. fun. People came over; we grilled out; we played games; we laughed and laughed and laughed. I loved it. And I love being 30. It's not so bad.

5. I have a new favorite food: avocados with blackberries and lime. Holy moly. It's so good! It makes a super-quick lunch or maybe a dinner with a little wine. Yum! Cut up one avocado, mix in 1/4 pint blackberries and squeeze 1/2 lime, and stir. You have to try it. Have to.

6. Husby and I are relaxing tonight. The DVR is 82% full because of our lack of TV watching-time, which isn't a bad thing. I foresee a Top Chef Masters and Ugly Betty in store for us. Along with a few loads of laundry. Fun times tonight!

04 May 2010

I Think I Have a Problem

This is my 100th post! I started this post last week and wanted it to be super great and maybe include a giveaway, but that's not going to happen. Though I'd love to do a giveaway, I have major issues making decisions. Just ask Husby. I have to talk through everything and every option with him. I know he loves it. After all, he really does care what I order for dinner when we're out. Ha! So, I couldn't decide on what I should giveaway. And what if people don't really want it? That's a bust. So, I'm going for the typical, bland post. Welcome to my blog!

Can I tell you how much I love etsy? Umm, maybe too much. I've known about it for a couple of years and love to just browse through the pretty things. But last week...last week I actually bought things! (SEE, IT TOOK TWO YEARS TO BUY SOMETHING. TWO YEARS!) I bought things that I saw on other blogs and things that I've wanted and things that I love. It's all artwork, and I can't wait to use it!

Some of the purchases will be stashed away until we have a nursery. (Not preggers, no need to ask.) But some will go up ASAP. And by that, I mean, as soon as I can find cheap enough frames. Since they're a little bigger than the typical 50% off Hobby Lobby frames, I'll have to wait for the poster frames to go on sale. It really excites me to have some art in our house.

Said purchases include:

Don't you love them?! I do! I have so many more pieces that I'm dying to have at some point. Here are some etsy sellers that are my favorites; choosing one piece from each will be tricky: Studio Mela, John W Golden, and Dutch Door Press.

Happy May!