Sunday, June 5, 2011

I left my heart in Austin

My first Austin experience... and let's just say I may have found my next home.  Some very dear friends from California came to visit.  Life is so much sweeter with friends that you've known for ages... and they still happen like you.  Now, like others have said, Austin is a lot like San Diego... with a Texas flair (and heat).

We stayed at the Driskill.  Highly recommend.  In the heart of downtown- walking distance to all sorts of fun and kept in vintage flair.

After a dip in the Barton Springs (also another rec, although beware... it is a top optional kind of place if you get what I mean)
We had to have BBQ!  Enter Salt Lick.  Heart {and stomach} be still.  

What a cool place with phenomenal food.
But more special was the company.
6th Street was so much fun.  Piano bar... dancing... bikers... whatever your heart desired, it was there.

What a great weekend.  I might be saving now for a move- their prices are also similar to San Diego's. =)  Keep Austin Weird.  That's why I belong.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pool fun... and a lesson in tact.

Our best friends, the Tates, came down for a visit.  We're still trying to convince these Okies that Texas is the place to be. Ain't that right?!

We enjoyed play time, pool time... tried to enjoy in-n-out (we're originally californians) but that wait was ri-di-cu-lous! No food is worth waiting TWO hours for.  hmmm... I may take that back.  Mom's food is ALWAYS worth waiting for. Rewind: no "fast" food is worth waiting 2 hrs for.

Well anyway, they are the NICEST people you could ever meet.  Kind, considerate... 

So my hubby and I thought it would be good to make a quick trip to our neighborhood pool.

and we brought our adorable doggies. Well... someone didn't think they were all that cute.  A mother decided it was a good idea (instead of talking to me nicely/calmly... maturely) to immediately start yelling at me and cussing about bringing the dogs.  So, lesson #1: if you don't wanna see nice people in your face, do NOT cuss in front of their children.  I am embarrassed for you, and your family quickly moving to the other end of the pool.  Lesson #2: clearly we are neighbors since you need a key to get in.  You just made it totally awkward.

Moral of the story: Had you just talked reasonably, I would have understood your concerns and immediately left with no hard feelings.  Why are so many people inept at confrontation? Common sense?  All I can say is that you will not be getting any of my baked goods or homemade jams.  Sad.  That's the mature me, because I seriously contemplated leaving turds on your doorstep.  Now that wouldn't help you to try to love dogs... or your neighbors, would it? I'd be doing the same thing...

Besides, looking back, how on earth could you be rude and mean with this lil face staring at you?  Okay, maybe I will give you goodies... can't we all just get along?

the end.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes & Elizabeth's Strawberry Filling

CUPCAKES!!! My adorable hubby went to the cooking store all by himself and bought me these adorable liners.  He's so sweet I decided to bake him some sweets.  You always have to start with cute. It's more motivating... and less calories. Definitely less calories.

Now, I typically look for recipes that 1.) have ingredients that I'm craving (ie vanilla bean in this case) and 2.) with most, if not all, of the ingredients I already have on hand. Keep it simple. The less trips to the grocery store the better.

This is what I found (thank you, bustybaker, for sharing! I'll be using this as a base often):

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 egg whites
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped 
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

Original Post:

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line standard muffin tin with liners; set aside.
2. In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together milk, egg whites, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds to combine; set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. (Or pulse a few times with mixer to combine.) Add butter, mixing on low until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (It’ll look a bit like the start of pastry dough.)
4. Add half of milk mixture to flour mixture and beat until dough is moist and thick (a bit like cookie dough). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add remaining milk mixture and beat until combined. (Mixture should look more like batter now.)
5. Divide batter among prepared cups, filling with 2 tablespoons of batter each. Bake until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

I also happened to find this AMAZING baking store. Dangerous.  Elizabeth's Cakes in Euless, TX... they have THE BEST filling {among other baking delights} and each huge sleeve is only $5. Get Some.  It's not only great for baking... but in yogurt, used as jam for spreads/cheeses etc etc.   Check them out:

So I squirted a bit into the cupcakes. And maybe a little for myself.  A little for the cupcakes. A little for myself. You get the idea. YUM.
I tried a strawberry buttercream frosting (I'm the type of person that always scrapes it off- I'm very picky).  This recipe was from someone else (who will remain nameless, which is why I didn't include the recipe) because I was not impressed.  If you have a recipe you adore for frosting- send it my way!!
Delicious! Thank you bustybaker.  They were devoured instantaneously.  
Adapted from Baked by Rachel  And Brought to you by The Busty Baker (
Makes 12 cupcakes

Happy Decoration Day! Belated...

Not that decoration... I've been lagging on my posts, I apologize.  Memorial Day! It's not about the start of summer... not bbqs, a 3-day weekend... but a time to reflect and appreciate the sacrifices our military makes for us.  THANK YOU!  My heart goes out to those serving, have served, and to the families that make those sacrifices as well.
Your dedication is appreciated.
Thank you, Toady, for serving and for making us proud.  Not that Memorial Day is for you... you have a long life ahead of you (besides, Mom already made baby blankets for the babies you don't have with a wife you have yet to find). ;)  Just thought I'd take a moment to let you know I always think about you.  I boast with pride and love.  You are my hero!

Love you, Airman. Stay safe.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My First Tornado Storm

Who says summer school isn't exciting?  In the middle of class... we get interrupted to head down to the library for the impending storm.  If that wasn't already scary, my husband sends me this text picture (which is near our house):

Gee, that makes me feel so much better, honey.  We are exchanging texts... and it looks like all will be good. The two tornados forming near Blue Mound/Saginaw/Ft. Worth have gone and never touched.

I decide it would be okay to head home.  Well, probably not the smartest of ideas.  I grew up in Cali! Earthquakes are so much easier to deal with (much more south than Northridge).  Anyway, hail starts... and I'm getting phone calls from classmates that another tornado is expected to head downtown (Ft. Worth, where the school is located) and that I need to head back to the library.  I made the decision to continue to drive and pray like crazy that it will be okay.  So I'm a little more dramatic- I call my husband freaking out. He's such a good man.

I get home safely and am just in awe of the lightening.  Everything else was calm.  No rain, no hail... no noise. Just bursts of lightning like it was a movie screen.  What a magnificent thing, nature.  Makes you realize how small you are, and how much He is in control.  It was an inspiring moment for me.

Well, after I kiss my hubby hello... I grab my camera and head to the backyard.  I am SO thrilled I did.

That was right above our house.  Isn't it beautiful? Maybe it means more to me because I know how difficult it is to capture lightning (I know because I've been trying... without results).

Settings for you camera geeks:  tripod necessary- although I hand-held the exposure (no remote)
125 ISO
Canon 7d, 24-70 2.8L Lens (set to infinity)
aperture 4.0
shutter: 3''
set dial to "B"


Help Joplin

How to Help Tornado Victims in Joplin

  • The Joplin United Way is a great place to start. 100% of donations will go directly to Joplin United Way, with ZERO overhead. Follow this link to donate via PayPal, call 573-443-4523 or text “Joplin” to 864833.
  • The Joplin, MO Tornado Recovery Facebook page is dedicated to aid efforts and contains the latest, up-to-date information on news and how to help.
We will continue to pray.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Going Bonkers!

Are you a family with small children?

Or grownups that sometimes act like small children?  Then Going Bonkers, in Lewisville, might be the place for you.  The cost is extremely reasonable...

but could you really put a price on sleeping children?

Thank you, Going Bonkers!  =)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cha-cha-cha... Changes.

Clint and I took a little risk moving to Texas.  We both had fantastic (and I do mean FANTASTIC) jobs in Washington, DC.   I know I had the dream- working in a lobbying firm, learning a lot, meeting amazing people, helping people (lobbying is not the dirty word most people think it is and I'd be happy to fill you in if you'd like at a later time), and working with some of the best people I have ever met in my life.  It was a family and it was becoming more like a "home."  Except, for both of us... something wasn't quite right.  We were called to make a change.  As Clint got out of the Marines, we packed up what we accumulated in five years of city living (which surprisingly was a lot, especially since I started that journey with only two suitcases and a lil determination) and moved to Texas.

Now, none of it could have been possible without Clint's family (and my family too).  In particular, Clint's grandparents.  They opened their home to us- even our pesky yorkie.   While we were trying to plan a wedding, find a home, start school, find jobs... they were there for us.  Mimi and Papa opened more than their home- they opened their hearts, and we will forever be grateful.  I don't think we could have done any of it without them.

Well, I do believe they have been called to make a change.  This past week we watched them pack up what was left in a uhaul and drive south.  We couldn't be more excited for them, and we know this is the best decision.  They will have so much fun in Georgetown.  I can't help be a little selfish, and a little teary-eyed, feeling that we won't have our Mexican dinner nights {as much}.  Walking through that empty home was like they had been my grandparents my whole life and it tugged at my heart just a tinge. yup, I'm a total sap, remember?!  They are incredible people and we are SO blessed.  We do know there will be much fun in the future... who knows, maybe we'll even move closer to Austin one of these days ;)  I just hope Mimi and Papa know how loved and appreciated they are... and how much we will miss seeing them as often.

all the fun excursions. always a treat.

 Coco and Tank will miss their sisters: Molly and Penny.  But we can't wait for the reunions!
Enjoy your time, Mimi and Papa! We know you'll love the new place, meet new friends and go exploring again!!  We'll still be here... if you ever want to buy your house back... for the 3rd time :)  We love you and we'll see you soon!!!!! xoxo

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Beach Dreaming!

Missing California...

Here are a few of my favorite things lately to help me cope.

TJMaxx is one of my all time favorite stores.  I just recently found this beauty: Lilly Pulitzer lotion in Beachy. UH-MA-ZING! If you find more in TX, please let me know.  From $21 to $8. Yes please! It smells like I'm at the beach: suntan lotion in one hand and a drink in the other.

I love hair flair. period.  I have quite the collection of headbands, flowers etc... and will make them to match my wardrobe.  I dont care what your age is, it always looks good.

My mom and dad send goodies from CA... from beef jerky, candy, lemons, to recently phenomenal tangerines.  I bought this pitcher from Anthropologie and always get compliments.  It's useful to boot.

And lastly, this actually isn't my favorite candle, but it's definitely top 3.  I have a thing for candles (and Bath and Body works plug ins... okay, anything that smells good). Clearly.  But when it's summer time, this candle is a must!  

Happy Beach Dreaming!

I heart Photoshop

I heart photoshop.  Sometimes a little too much, and I'm trying to correct that.  Not that I make a habit of editing things out of pictures that I could have easily fixed when taking the picture... seriously, I could have tucked that string in and saved a lot of time, but I guess I was a little distracted.  It was probably the chiggar bites from the farm.

Well, I didn't... and my best friends: the clone stamp, patch tool and some lighting tweaks (with a little cropping) can change that image to one that is actually frame-worthy. :)  But my niece is ADORABLE, I would have framed it anyway- she's always worthy.

When I grow up, I wont be a motivational speaker

So this week marks the first time I gave a presentation to the execs at work.  I'm sure they learned a lot about legislation, regulation, and court proceedings.  It's all very fascinating, I know.  Although I've been a 'speaker' for athletic/running events (I used to work at two very incredible specialty running stores... oooh for about a decade.  west coast:  east coast: I probably know more about pronation, hydration, and running shoes than anyone should know in a lifetime! and proud of it!) and other things for school, nothing makes me more self-conscious than work and law school.  It's as if I have something to prove, that I'm personally being judged.

Well, I can't say that talking in front of people is comfortable.  I am always reminded of the movie 'old school' where will ferrel has a debate... not that I magically sound intelligent, but I feel like it's an out-of-body-experience and don't quite know or remember the words that leave my mouth.  Hopefully it was somewhat coherent.

I definitely need more practice, but what meant the most to me was the added responsibility.  There's nothing like the feeling of appreciation and respect- way more important than that nervous feeling.  To have bosses recognize my work and knowledge and to trust me in delivering our message to stakeholders, is amazing.  And I did thank them for the opportunity.  So next time you are in a busy mtg, there's a speaker... remember that he/she prepped, worked for that moment and there is so much more to that person than the time he/she is in front of you.

*on another random side note: I say I'm a ninja and it's a joke between my husband and me... but I actually do have a black belt in taekwondo.  Crazy, right?  And my dad used to tell people that we studied under the grandmaster when we lived in Japan- shorin ryu style.  If I showed you the pics, I'd have to kill you- it was the 80s and 90s, I had a horrible perm.  Just trust me.  But see, I'm definitely multi-dimensional. Again, thanks to my parents.  My brother and I used to also do shows/competitions with the do jang/do jo (sp?).  I was never nervous for those- wearing a white uniform that looked like pajamas and screaming... yet this stuff makes me self-conscious?!

*another side note: My brother just texted me that if I don't capitalize, I lose all credibility and interest... So my APOLOGIES.  I am the Editor/Grammar Queen at work and school... and don't generally dot my i's or cross my t's in my personal, casual life.  I'll start CAPITALIZING, just for you, Toady.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

California Dreaming

meet the gorgeous parents that made me! (i will not include where they live... so don't go trying to egg the house or tp-ing it on my account).  i've grown up, somewhat. don't hold that against them.

anyhew... my parents. Aren't they adorable?  That's my incredible (2nd?) cousin, Jane, visiting in the center. She rocks (even though she's a pelosi fan- I can look past that for family functions)!  If you don't know me, my mother is full vietnamese and my dad is half german and half irish. i don't count france.

My parents did not meet overseas, and yes my dad was in the military. yes, my mom does nails. are you done with your stereotypical jokes yet?  Aside from my brother and my hubby, they are my life (in addition to my aunt, grammy, and in-laws).  I'll have to create a separate post, I can't put into words how amazing they are.  and i'll get all teary-eyed, it's pathetic. They have taught me: how to [try to] be a better christian, how to work hard, be thoughtful and considerate, how to make a grasshopper bow, how to change a tire and shoot a gun (not at the same time, but that would be interesting), how to be financially savvy (i'm still learning that one), how to cook, how to love to learn, to have goals and reach them, and they've just taught me my very values that i'll hopefully pass along to [not near] future wee ones. except the grasshopper thing. that's just weird. i hate bugs.

Anyway, I've been missing them, my brother, california, the beach, breakfast burritos and teri cafe- in that order- a lot lately.  thankfully, there will be a mini-reunion in chicago next month. I can't wait! And folks, if you're reading this... please bring a burritto and terriyaki beef combo with fried shrimp!  =) I'm wasting away with all of this chicken fried steak, brisket, fried pie and fries around here! As far as the beach and california, i have another post coming soon about some of the things i've found that has helped me cope, somewhat.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Summer... school.

Just another beautiful day in the neighborhood. I actually can't remember the last time I made it home before the sunset. Another semester under my belt and I'm half way there... two more years. Goodness.

Well, I can't quite describe the anxious feeling you get during school... I always feel like I have something to do, catch up on, read... something I'm missing and you can never relax. Just as soon as I enjoy a "break," I am faced with the harsh reality that summer school starts next week! Joy. At least the classes are over at 8pm instead of 10pm, so it won't be that bad. I'll get to see my husband, Clint, for a little... and probably cook dinner occasionally.

At least I'll have weddings to look forward to! June is going to be a busy month, on top of school and I'm so excited to delve into wedding photography. Stay tuned! For now, I'm off to enjoy some home-cooked porkchops with Clint! ... and a little Real Housewives of New Jersey. don't judge!
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