Friday, October 31, 2014

{ Adventures Before Halloween }

Happy FALL!! I hope everyone is enjoying this season as much as I am. I love all things fall but have especially been thinking about fall holidays, specifically, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, because it's one of my favorite holidays and my side of the family is visiting us! I cannot wait! Halloween because it happens to be tomorrow and it is also Ellie's first Halloween! I think I just really love holidays! They are so fun. But anyways...

As September flew by I could not help but try to think about what the perfect outfit would be for Ellie to wear on Halloween. I saw many awesome candidates! Carter's had adorable baby animal costumes. Babies R Us had an adorable ghost. Then, of course, there was always the generic "My first Halloween" tutu from Etsy. If you took a guess at which one I chose, yes, it was the tutu! So I found my top two, that I absolutely loved, and sent the pictures to my hubby. Usually our system of 'narrow the options and hope we choose the same one' works. But it didn't work so well this time. We both liked different ones. By this time it was the early days of October and if you have ever ordered from Etsy you know to order as far in advance as possible! The pressure was on! I pondered on the tutus and tried to find a third option that we both loved more, but, my search and thoughts turned up nothing. I had decided it would be better to go with the one Joey preferred instead of trying to convince (...ok. manipulate) him to choose the one I liked. I contacted the seller and she quoted me a price...$50. Call me cheap but she's going to wear it once, not going to remember it, she's not old enough to even tell me if she likes it, she is tiny, and I saw how to make it on Pinterest. $50?! Not happening. So yes. I decided to make her costume myself. This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me at all!

I scanned Pinterest to find that pin I had saved so long ago (does anyone else feel like they need to clean out old boards??). I miraculously found it and headed up to Hobby Lobby. I had no idea what theme I was going for and no idea if this would even work. I pretty much thought I would look for candy corn type stuff, or purple, orange, and green typical Halloween colors. The item that sealed the deal was the baby leggings! They only had one pair that looked at all Halloween. They made the decision easy and the theme was born!

I spent the next thirty minutes running back and forth trying to think through all the pieces I would need to make this thing work. Somehow I got everything in the first trip! Not only that, Halloween items, 40% off! Fall items, 20% off! And 40% off a regular priced item! I made it out of Hobby Lobby spending a grand total of $30-ish dollars! I was a little concerned that I had forgot something and that number would continue to rise but, was happy to find that was all I would need!

I made it home and could not wait to get started! The same night I made the tutu. It took me maybe an hour. It was so easy that I watched Harry Potter with my husband while I worked. Score 1 for multi-tasking!

Of course she had to try it on right away...prepare for a sneak peek! We barely go this picture before she realized she was wearing something that was very fun to play with! After she noticed that we could hardly get her attention at all!

The rest of the outfit was procrastinated until the day of the "Trunk-or-Treat". Not a fact I'm proud of happens. In the end, I finished before we had to leave so I consider that a win. On the day of the "Trunk-or-Treat" I had to iron on the letters for her onesie and make her bow. The leggings were done when I bought them. I had to put zero effort into them. The onesie was a rough one. At some point, my instructions for how to apply the letters were thrown away so I resorted to using the trial and error method. The result? Error. I do not think I took a picture of the disaster but I'm not proud of how I thought the letters should be applied. Not my brightest moment!

I did what any other stay-at-home mom would do during naptime...I woke Ellie, forced her into the carseat, drove all the way to the store so I could find another set of the same letters and read the back of the package. Not! I was not about to disturb naptime! I called Hobby Lobby and asked them to read me the directions. Were they thrilled by my request? Not in the least! But did they do it for me? Yes, yes they did. Let me explain my thought process here...when my husband and I built a fire pit for my Dad, Joey had me call and ask the nice man at Lowes for clarification on directions. The man was very happy to help. He even remembered helping Joey pick the stones. So why should the same direction clarification not apply to craft stores? By the way, I readily admit that Joey did pretty much all of the work for the firepit. I had every intention to help more, but he seemed to need me to supervise more than he needed me to dig, lay filler rocks, level, etc. Anyways, major bunny trail! The lady helped, I removed my poorly attached letters, and correctly reattached the letters. I am not totally happy with the way the word 'Halloween' looks but, the end result was still ADORABLE! Shirt finished, I moved on to her bow. 

 I decided it would be too much work to get the sewing machine out for the bow and so I found the tiny emergency sewing kit and got started. In hindsight, it would have been worth setting up the sewing machine! The bow took 10x longer than it should have and I broke the plastic thimble that came in the sewing kit. FYI, there's a reason thimbles aren't made of plastic. The back of a needle to the nail bed...not fun! Not at all! I finished the bow with time to spare and could not wait to show the whole look off to Joey! 

When he returned home from work we ate a super fast dinner and then prepared to go to the "Trunk-or-Treat". Neither of us had ever been "Trunk-or-Treating" so we had no idea what to expect. I imagined ten to twenty cars parked in a lot with us sitting behind ours and a few kids running around collecting candy. I couldn't have been more wrong! We pulled up to a HUGE bonfire (courtesy of the fire department), an area for dancing complete with a DJ and a projector screen, games inside the building, and thirty-or-so cars completely decked out! I forgot to mention the hundreds of people!! It was so much fun! Plus, Ellie looked adorable...if I do say so myself.

To wrap things up her costume turned out adorable! She got tons of compliments on it. She loved playing with the tutu. I saved $30. It was super easy and tons of fun to make! And I have enough tulle for another tutu if I so desired! Halloween costume #1...Success!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

{ Releasing the Inner Child }

It's been a while, but that just means that I have plenty of stuff to blog about so, prepare yourself for an onslaught of posts...hopefully (provided life doesn't become too crazy).

I firmly believe that there is a little kid in all of us that keeps day to day life from getting too serious to handle. It's what makes "the little things in life" so exciting and meaningful. That being said, Joey recently had his twenty-something birthday and I threw him a birthday party that really brought out his inner kid! One of the things I love most about my man is how he is able to be serious and also maintain his fun and silly side. Before you read on please note this is a judgement-free zone where Joey's inner kid will be revealed. If you're going to judge, stop reading. But if you're ready to keep an open mind and remember how fun birthday parties were when you were 5, please join me in a cottage in the Deep South of Texas and meet...The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Joey's birthday conveniently fell on a Friday this year so he was able to request permission to stay off base. Ellie and I picked him up and made a stop along the way home. 

Joey knew that several surprises awaited him at home but I don't think he quite understood the magnitude of what was waiting for him. I had ordered a pizza from Pizza Hut for dinner and that was our stop on the way home. This was no ordinary pizza, however, this was a Ninja Turtle pizza. 

As we arrived home, I ran inside to add the pizza to the festivities awaiting Joey. He grabbed Ellie and headed inside. The scene inside was everything Ninja turtles! 

See that smile? Yeah...That says his birthday party is a success!!

Ellie and I bought Joey his favorite TMNT movie, a mask and nun chucks, and TMNT armbands. 

This day quickly became one of my favorite memories, not only from Texas but in general. This is only the second birthday I have been able to spend with Joey and I can not wait to hopefully spend many more with him!

I have been so incredibly blessed with an amazing family! Love these two more than words can say!

His birthday wouldn't be complete if I didn't call him old. What does he expect me to say? 

 Obviously Eliana had fun! Her first party hat!

Joey got to enjoy a birthday cake from our favorite bakery, Bird Bakery. Peach Amaretto...yumm! Bird is a must if you ever find yourself in San Antonio.

We went all out and not only did Joey have a blast all three of us did! The rest of the weekend was full of Farkle, TMNT movies (old and new) and priceless family time! 

Joey's party was fun for the whole family. I hope we never take ourselves so seriously that we cease to enjoy "the little things" in life.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

One Year in the Rear View | Pt.3

This post right now is the definition of ‘in the eye of her storm.’ Ellie has fallen asleep (for now) and I am seizing the opportunity to enjoy some dessert and blog writing!

I’m picking back up with the series of posts I was working on earlier about our first year  marriage. Obviously, I’m not going to talk about every single priceless moment but I am trying to hit the HUGE, life-altering moments. Last post was the wedding. This post is the day we found out about our little bun in the oven! 

September 14, 2013. I’m pretty sure I took a test the day before too but this is when we knew it was official! We were so excited! More excited than nervous but that is because we thought we were pregnant the month before. It’s amazing how being scared to death in August changed how I took the news just a month later. I had a feeling I was pregnant but I’m not sure why. I took the first test. It was very light but I ran to the bedroom and woke joey up by waving the test in his face and asking repeatedly, “What does this look like to you? One line or two? Joey, what does this look like to you?” It was the fastest I have ever been able to wake him up! We were both super excited and could not wait to tell people. But then the questions started in my mind… Is my makeup safe to use? Is it ok for someone to use nail polish remover in the same room as me? Are there other things besides raw meat I shouldn’t eat? I felt totally confused and unsure of what to do. I wanted to ask someone but we had decided not to tell anyone yet. We waited just in case all 200 pregnancy tests I took were all false positives. Ok. I didn’t really take 200 but I did take a lot of them. And I kept taking them “just to be sure”. I tried nonchalantly asking my mom my questions but that didn’t work. She guessed. I’m not surprised though. I’m a terrible lair to start with and on top of that I was so excited I thought I would bust! After she knew Joey and I decided to invite everyone to my parents’ house for dessert to share the news.

Mom took care of desserts. Joey and I bought cards to give everyone for the announcement. The funny thing about this whole dessert business is everyone (with the exception of my little sister and out of town relatives) guessed what was going on. There were giveaways though. I can admit that. My mom made what seemed like ten different desserts. Joey called everyone to invite them and was very persistent that they ALL had to come. I couldn’t stop smiling and was blushing as red as a fire truck! When anyone would ask me what was going on, I just smiled. I didn’t even have a good answer ready. But it was still fun! We all got our desserts and then passed out the cards. Everyone opened them at the same time and the baby confetti that I stuffed the cards with flew all over the floor. Everyone was super excited! 

The best reaction was my sister. She just stared at the card then asked me if it was a joke. She was so far beyond shocked. I told her she was going to be an aunt and she just stared. She almost started crying but later told me if there hadn’t been so many boys in the room (Joey’s brothers) she would have. For the rest of the night she just kept staring at me in unbelief. When we told everyone we were less than eight weeks along and decided not to find out the gender or tell our name choices. Baby Thomas was only the size of an orange seed. Thus the nickname was born. Kenzi called our little one Orange Seed for the rest of the pregnancy.

We did an ultrasound at the New Hope Center at eight weeks. I started off going to them for my prenatal care but later we decided to find a midwife and do a homebirth. The first ultrasound was amazing! Our baby was bouncing all around and looked like a little gummy bear! Baby Thomas was super active and remained that way for the duration of the pregnancy. (<-- My ribs would support this statement.) That moment was one of my favorites of all time. I loved seeing the look on Joey’s face as he realized for the first time that we really were pregnant and that there was a tiny person growing in my tummy! That is a moment I will cherish forever! We left from the ultrasound in complete and total baby bliss. Coincidentally, we went and bought the movie “Back-up Plan”. I really wanted to see it again now that I was expecting and we couldn’t find our copy.

My first trimester was uneventful as far as morning sickness goes. Actually it was uneventful as far as anything goes. No home-cooked meals. No grocery shopping. No laundry. No cleaning. I literally woke up twenty minutes before work, sped out the door, drove very cautiously, and got to work just in time. Then after work I would get home, maybe take a shower (if Joey was lucky), fall into bed and be out in two seconds. In the beginning, I couldn’t get enough orange juice, pickles (I know, cliché), avocados, peanut M&Ms, Ramen, frozen lemonade, and wedge salad. That was about all I ate for a few weeks. And all Joey ate too because I never bought anything else at the store. I was just too tired to think of what else might sound good to him.

The second trimester I got a cold and it all went downhill from there. I didn’t really enjoy much food at this point. I know that I really craved pizza. All the time! You can ask Joey, I almost asked him to drive out in a terrible snow storm just to get a pizza! It was bad. But I didn’t. I realized it was not worth it and he stayed home with me. His job had told him not to come in that day. So you know the roads were bad. I went to see a doctor at the beginning of my second trimester because my cold turned into a sinus infection or something like that. The doctor gave me an antibiotic and I then got a yeast infection. It was a terrible cycle, and it didn’t really right itself until my third trimester. The timing was impeccable because then a different area of my life spun out of control. A date opened for Joey to go to Basic Training. From that point on, things were not anything like what we would have expected…

Trimester 3
Trimester 2

Friday, August 1, 2014

Texas de Brazil

As I mentioned earlier, my husband and I celebrated our anniversary this month. It was our first and no we didn’t eat any of our wedding cake fresh from a year in the freezer. There are multiple reasons for that. The first is because the top tier was a little bit, well, lost. I know. I know. Cake doesn’t just walk away, but my wedding cake did. That brings me to the second reason we didn’t re-enjoy our cake. Even though the top layer grew its own legs, the rest didn’t. There was a ton of cake left! When I say a ton, I mean the whole kitchen table was covered. Way too much for our families to eat. So we have a freezer full of cake. It’s just 1200 miles away. I decided it was not worth the drive to Kentucky to retrieve the leftover cake and so now you know why we didn’t eat freezer burned wedding cake on our first anniversary. We did however celebrate with a much more delicious dinner!

This post is named after the restaurant itself because it was just that amazing! Seriously! Let me just tell you about the world’s best dining experience that can only be beat by Momma or Grandma’s home cooking! Texas de Brazil is “an authentic Brazilian-American ‘Churrascaria’, or steakhouse, that combines the cuisines of Southern Brazil with the generous spirit of Texas.” What that means is they have a salad bar with over  fifty seasonal items that contains meats, cheeses, olives, vegetables and so much more. If you only want the salad bar you can dine that way, but the real experience is in the main course. When you sit down to your table there is a card that is green on one side and red on the other. This is how you let the servers know you would like to enjoy more of their delicious cuts of meat. The red side stops the servers and green means, “More meats please!” In the salad bar area, there are also side items to accompany your dinner such as rice, mushrooms, au gratin potatoes, and soup. As though you don’t already have enough options, your server provides you with garlic mashed potatoes, fried bananas, and traditional Brazilian cheese bread on the table. Yes, this is for real! 
At the San Antonio location, there is also a huge wine cellar where you can watch a server on a harness find your wine selection. If you haven’t had enough to eat by the time you’re done with dinner, they also have very attractive dessert options.

After giving you an idea of how a Brazilian steakhouse works, I’ll tell you about our experience. It all started with making a reservation with Open Table. It was a super easy process. I had never used Open Table before, but being a Saturday in downtown, I wanted to make sure we wouldn’t be late for Joey’s curfew. I knew from my research that they had valet parking and since we are unfamiliar with the area, and would most likely have to pay close to the same amount for parking anyway, we went for it. I’m so glad we did! You literally drive up to the front door on a main road downtown and there is not even a pullover area. You jump out, the valets jump in. The atmosphere in the restaurant was cozy, warm and inviting. We were seated right away, and our server explained the whole process to us. He was really thorough and very friendly.
Joey and I both took trips to the salad bar where we tried all sorts of appetizers. My favorite was the thinly sliced pineapple with basil. It seemed like a strange combination but worked really well! When we had finished starters, Chris (our server) offered us clean plates and brought the mashed potatoes and bananas to us. Now I’m not sure why they serve mashed potatoes, other than that they’re delish and probably keep guests from eating all meat, but the bananas have an interesting job. Apparently, fried bananas are a palate cleanser that allows you to taste the difference in the cuts of meat. Then the real fun began.  Joey switched his card to green and immediately we were approached by several different servers offering us bacon wrapped chicken, filet mignon, strip steak, lamb chops, pork ribs, and the house special, Brazilian picanha. These meat servers are apparently called Gauchos and they carry the more than 15 meat selections around on sword-like spears. But warn the others at the table when you flip your card because you are about to get bombarded! Everything was amazing! My favorite cut was the picanha. It was a top cut of sirloin. Joey’s favorite was the filet mignon. The service was so impressive. Every last detail was attended to. The manager introduced himself to us. My water glass never reached half full. Whenever we got up from the table, someone came by and re-folded our napkins. They remembered how we both preferred our meats cooked. We were never rushed. Chris even took our picture for us! We were too full to try dessert, but I’m sure it would have been just as amazing as everything else!

My advice? Try it!! It is the perfect dining experience for a very special occasion. I don’t think you’ll regret it. If you do decide to go…you have to try the cheesy bread, pineapple with basil, and picanha. You will not be disappointed! Joey kept on saying how much he loved the restaurant. I’m pretty sure he would have lived there if he could! The atmosphere was perfect for an anniversary or even just for a night out with friends. I’m glad we went early (around 6) because when we left there were tons of people waiting for tables. Who knows, maybe we’ll go for our anniversary again next year too!

Even Ellie enjoyed dinner!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Kind of Hopping

Today I am writing my first food post and prepare yourself because it is going to make you jealous. How do I know this? Because I tasted all this yummy stuff today, I know how good it was, And I know what all yall are missing out on.

If you know me, you know that I love to bake. What I love about baking is the creativity behind it. I can bake a cake and decorate it and then by the time I'm done I have no interest in eating it. The lack of interest has nothing to do with whether or not it will taste good, but everything to do with the fact that I already did the fun part! I'm artsy, what can you do? I always love going to bakeries. I enjoy trying new things and looking at the work that others do. When someone else has made it, I enjoy eating it as much as I do looking at it. Also, since being pregnant I have been craving sweets like nobody's business! So, while here in San Antonio, I have been scanning through my trusty urbanspoon app and have discovered several places I want to try. Today is the glorious, bakery-hunting, day! Joey is off, it's a beautiful (and by beautiful I mean as hot as the place below!) day, and we are both in the mood for some goodies!

Our first stop was Lily's Cookies. This place was so cute! It's a bakery dedicated to all things cookie related! 

They had a cookie bar, which had around fifteen different cookie jars on it! Every jar held a different kind of cookie and you could make your own mix. They had everything from red velvet crinkle cookies to Mexican wedding cookies, chocolate chip to ranger cookies! Seriously, cookie heaven. I couldn't get a real great picture of the cookie bar but there is an awesome picture on their website. From the cookie bar, we tried a Mexican wedding cookie, Texas honey, and toffee almond crunch. Each of them was delicious. The Texas honey surprised me the most. What surprised me was it tasted a lot like a spice cookie and was very soft. Lily's sells their cookies from the jars for just $0.65 each or $7 a dozen. That little detail, coupled with their delicious variety and taste, makes this bakery very dangerous!

Lily's also had a case full of decorated cookies. There was just too much cuteness to describe! Today, the cookies in the case were to celebrate the San Antonio Zoo's 100th birthday. They change from week to week I believe. Either way, they were super cute! I chose the pink hippo. I couldn't help myself! I have been wanting to try to make frosted cookies like these for a while now. When we are settled (we're in a transition phase) and all of our kitchen things are in one place again, I will be trying this and more than likely sharing the experience on here. More to come on iced cookies. I left feeling very inspired though.

As though cookies were not enough, they also had a few different kinds of dessert bars. We tried the lemon bar and the snicker's brownie. Oh. My. Goodness. Lemon bar = heaven! The crust was amazing! It had no powdered sugar on top, so I didn't choke by accidentally inhaling it, which was a plus. Everyone does it. I am not ashamed. The Lemon bar tasted like lemon meringue pie with out the meringue. Yummy. The snickers bar? Super sweet, but amazing! I'm sure Joey will be asking me to figure out how to make those soon. He loves his peanut butter and chocolate! My favorites were the lemon bar and the iced cookie. I will definitely go back at least once more while I'm here. The only downside to Lily's Cookies was the hours. They close at 5:30 during the week and are only open until 3:00 on Saturday. We caught them just before they closed and I am so glad we made it!

Our second stop was unplanned and also right at closing time. Joseph's Storehouse and Bakery was on our way back home from Lily's and claimed to be the best bakery in San Antonio so we had to stop in.

They were closing but still had a decent selection. Joey chose the snickerdoodle and I chose the danish. First of all, please notice the size of these things! HUGE! You can hardly see my fingers around the cookie when I hold it! The danish was a cheese danish and was amazing. It reminded me of the one my mom buys from Emerson's back in Kentucky. The dough you could tell was made from scratch. So yummy. The snickerdoodle was also quite yummy. I only had one bite though. By that time, there was probably enough sugar in my body to sink a ship. I didn't totally fall in love with Joseph's or get the feeling that it was somewhere I HAD to go again, but it was still yummy. Another downside was the customer service wasn't great. We waited a rather long time while one employee was on the phone and the others were just walking around not really doing anything. Overall, not crazy about it. I could find a better bakery. That's just what we did!

The last stop of the day was a cute little place called Nothing Bundt Cakes.

As soon as you walked in the door you could feel the energy. It was bright, cheerful and welcoming. The concept of this bakery was all bundt cakes. The bundt cakes came in all different sizes, from the normal size to "bundtlets" to "bundtinis". Nothing Bundt Cakes (NBC) had adorable artificial cakes all over the place to show you different decorating options. As soon as we walked in one of the employees offered us a sample of the cinnamon swirl flavor. It was so moist and delicious! Nine different flavors were sold as well as a seasonal flavor that changes monthly. Joey and I agreed on the white chocolate raspberry bundtlet to share and it even came in adorable packaging. We had intended to try it after dinner as our one year anniversary cake, but we were too stuffed from dinner. For dinner we went to a Brazilian steakhouse which was one of the coolest dining experiences! More on dinner later. We still have yet to try our cake, but if it's as good as the sample, we have nothing to worry about. NBC was a great experience all around. You could tell the designer of the store took everything into account. They even had merchandise such as, kitchen gloves with mustaches and lips, a spatula called the battter finger, and all sorts of cake picks and candles! I would definitely go back to NBC. It was such an inviting bakery!

Overall, we had an awesome time bakery-hopping! I really enjoyed spending the time together as a family sharing something as simple as good dessert. I can't wait to go back and try more new things or even hunt down other gems! For now, I need to finish my pink hippo cookie, brush my teeth, and head to bed.