A BLOG ABOUT A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING

Friday, September 27, 2013

Whirlwind!

Since celebrating these two lovebirds in Ohio, we've jumped into the work week full force.


The wedding was such a sweet occasion, and we were so glad we could be there for it. There were SO many lovely details that were very Molly and John, and best of all was seeing them both so happy.

Sorry for our absence this week on the blog, but the week flew by in a blur of helping students with papers, tutoring, and meeting with committees (core curriculum for Brendan, and faculty rank for me). I even managed to squeeze four workouts in, so I was super proud about that! We're both very glad the weekend is here, but will be spending the majority of it prepping for next week's professional development (at school on Monday) and conference (in New Orleans Thursday--Saturday). Yep, we're hopping on a plane again on Wednesday...slow down a little fall semester, would you?! 

We've got a date night to look forward to tonight, and last night, we watched Room 237 on Netflix, which was pretty zany. We recommend it if you're a fan of The Shining and looking for a fun escape. 

Hope everyone has a great weekend! Here's to stocking the fridge and getting through piles of laundry! 

Oh, and to those cats too, for keeping us company.  

Miss ZO. 

Miss LO.
Happy trails to you: wherever you go, whatever you do!
<3 S, B, L&Z 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pushing On

Something is in the Midland air; And by something, I mean something I must be allergic to. My throat is itchy and a little sore, but I'm pushing on. Work has been using almost all my mental energy lately, so I've been trying to compensate by doing nice things for myself: Monday, a night off with bad TV included, yesterday, a trip to the hair salon (see pic), and tonight, yoga class. 



Brendan and I are leaving for Ohio tomorrow for a family wedding on Saturday. I need to take a Claratin and get to packing! I hope to do a lot of reading (for fun) on the plane. Margaret Atwood's MaddAdam has me hooked.

I recently tried to write a blog post defending Generation Y in response to this post. After a long conversation over dinner with Brendan last night, I realized my arguments weren't holding up. Not sure if anyone else has thoughts on Generation Y. Are we indefensible?

Just wanted to pop in and say hello...it's officially after 5pm, so we've all made it through Wednesday. Woo-hoo!

Hang in there,
<3 S, B, L&Z

Friday, September 13, 2013

Patio Perfect

When you live in under 1,000 square feet, every inch of space you have counts, or at least, it should. Enter the story of how I finally hit my breaking point with the state of our balcony area.

Originally, we had a table and some folding chairs out there. In the spring, summer, and fall, our patio was a favorite place to eat, have a drink, or visit with friends. Then, the cheap patio chairs we had broke in the spring, and over the hectic summer, we never bothered to replace them (granted, we weren't here much). With nicer weather approaching, I finally put Brendan and I on a mission last weekend: reclaim the patio as a space we enjoy being in.

The first step was admitting that it was going to cost us some money. Sure, we could buy more cheap replacement chairs, but they weren't a.) comfortable, or b.) going to last very long. I wanted something better for our space. The table we had, which I bought four years ago, already worked, so finding something that matched the red orange/color was key because we didn't want to spend more money than necessary.

Trips to HomeGoods and Target brought us home empty handed, but we finally found chairs we liked at Pier One. The only catch was that we had to order them and wait a few days for them to come in. Also, we decided the chairs needed something to make them more comfortable, so we searched in the store for some cushions. We choose white chairs with turquoise cushions. We couldn't match the color of the table, so instead, we had to find colors that complimented it. Signing up for a Pier one credit card saved us 10% on the purchase price. We came in under $300, and we hope these chairs will last us a few years (we will move the cushions inside for wind or rain to keep them looking nice).


We set everything up on Wednesday, and then last night, it was a cool and calm evening, the kind that's perfect for dinner on the patio. Here's Brendan, looking very impressed with his homemade pizza and my farmer's market salad:


Finally, we are enjoying all of our space once again. And THAT is priceless! Here's to your weekend and to making the most of what you have!

<3 S, B, L&Z

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Farmer's Market Inspired

Brendan and I try to make it a habit to get to the weekly farmer's market every Saturday morning. It means getting up early, but we always agree, the trip inspires us to cook great things for the entire week, so it's well worth it. It also puts us in a good mood, and we feel like we have a great start to the weekend.


I modified this recipe on Saturday night, made two apple pies from the apples we picked last weekend, and put our farm fresh eggs to use in this homemade vanilla ice cream:



Brendan made his own hot sauce from an abundance of peppers we bought, and he made a tasty eggplant dish last night. Tonight, I threw together a version of this made with heirloom tomatoes and all sorts of veggies. We've been having remarkable salads with market sweet peppers, bell peppers, cucumbers, and lemon cucumbers.

I think going to a farmer's market is the best advice I have for anyone looking to get out of a cooking rut. You taste new things and feel more excited about preparing food, instead of just seeing it as a routine chore.

Speaking of exciting:


My Amazon order came today, filled with amazing books I cannot wait to dive into. Will I be able to balance the semester with reading for fun? I certainly hope so! We have more energy this week than last week, so lets hope that means we're adjusting just fine. I'm thinking if I do some class prep now, I'll be able to squeeze in some reading for fun before bed; My bedtime has slowly become earlier and earlier...I was out a little after 10 last night. It does feel good to be in the routine again. Summer is a distant memory, but there are so many things I love about the fall, so I'm starting to get excited about the prospect of all that's to come.

We hope wherever you are, and whatever you do, that you're reading and eating!
<3 S, B, L&Z

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Camping in Cloudcroft, NM

Last weekend, Brendan and I set out to take advantage of the long weekend with our first camping trip in over 2 years. This is the first time we've had our own camping gear (last time, we borrowed from friends), so we're finally able to take advantage of some of the awesome locations not far from Midland; (thanks for the awesome wedding gifts friends and family!)

Cloudcroft is 4.5 hours away from Midland. We found a home in the Apache campgrounds and set up. We LOVED this area for its tall pine trees, hundreds of hiking trails, and the cute town it is situated in. Labor day weekend was the last weekend the campgrounds were open, and they don't open again until mid May, so I'm really glad we took this trip. We lucked out with the weather: it wasn't too cold (about 55 at night-81during the day the whole weekend), and it only rained a couple of hours on one day. It was REALLY nice to escape the heat for a few days (still highs in the 90s here).

Here were the highlights:

Hiking the Osha Trail
Apple Picking (at the Orchard's next to the Apple Barn)
The best root beer float of my life at the Apple Barn
Cooking our favorite camp foods (Veggie Burgers, Mac n' cheese, egg sandwiches) on our new camp stove
S'more making by the fire
Playing endless games of Rummy 500
A lecture we attended on Billy the Kid at the campsite
A walk down a cross-country ski path (no snow yet, obviously)
Eating at Big Daddy's Diner in town
Antiquing at "Nothing Fancy" (We found nothing...it lives up to its name!)

Enjoy our photos. We will definitely return to Cloudcroft one day!










Now that I'm finished backtracking with the wedding posts, Lola and Zoe will be much more up to date! Look for a post from us about this weekend soon!

<3 S, B, L&Z

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Backtracking: Our Wedding After Party

Our wedding day went by so fast! From getting ready, to our beautiful ceremony, to our amazing reception, the day was a bit of a blur; but, at the end of the night, we took some time to just take it in. Everyone says your wedding is the only time everyone you love will be in one place at once...we wanted as many opportunities to enjoy that as possible, and thus, the after party was planned.

We had been picked up from the reception in a classic convertible, and took an hour to just take a joyride around downtown Austin. It was really fun because everyone downtown was yelling out "Congrats!" and we had some time to decompress and rest our voices, (and I could finally kick my heels off!) Mostly, we were just thrilled to be married, and happy that the wedding went so well. We had planned for over a year, but that night was well worth all the effort. Our wedding day was definitely one of the best days of my life, and I was absolutely blissful, even at midnight!



Meanwhile, a charter bus took guests back to the hotel or after party, their choice (the same bus transported the guests initially from the hotel to the wedding). 

Best men, Justin (front) and Bill (back). 
Friends Eric and Peggy
The buses were a must for me because I wanted to make sure everyone had safe transportation after an evening of celebrating. They brought us peace of mind, and our guests were comfortable and happy to not have to worry about directions. 

After our joyride, which ended up being a little longer than anticipated, we arrived at the after party. Nomads was the location we picked because they had both indoor and outdoor space, a low key Austin vibe that we love, and affordable drinks. It was exactly the atmosphere we wanted, and it was extremely close to the hotel too. We were REALLY surprised by how many of our guests showed up, given that our wedding ended at midnight; about half of our 175 guests continued partying with us until two in the morning! 


We weren't really tired...there were so many more people to talk to and catch up with. It seemed like everyone in the whole bar was a guest at our wedding (the owner was thrilled and offered us a free submarine tour in Maui, but we didn't end up having the time to go!)

I have great memories of the after party...like singing along with the jukebox to "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" with some of Brendan's cousins, and dancing with my high school buddies. I also got to talk to some friends that I had barely seen at the wedding. Even our parents made it to the after party! 


Brendan got to put his Red Sox cap on and get comfortable. 

With friends Tony and Cole
My bestie and maid of honor, Corley, still by my side at 2am! 
We left around 2:15 in the morning, and arrived back at the hotel at 2:20...Brendan and I stayed up until 4:00 just reading cards and talking about the day. A guest snapped this photo of us in front our hotel room, and it was the last picture we posed for that day.


We set the alarm for 8:30am, and joined our guests downstairs in the hotel courtyard for breakfast the next morning. Best idea ever: block a hotel with a free, made to order, hot breakfast. Not only did our guests enjoy this everyday, but the morning after the wedding, we were able to eat and visit with everyone without having to plan and organize yet another event. It was definitely a win/win situation!

I wore the sweatshirt Brendan made for me to breakfast. He used Boston Red Sox uniform fonts and colors (our wedding colors were Boston Red Sox red and navy) for the design. The sweatshirt was comfy for the plane as well, and made getting those honeymoon upgrades, (we had a row to ourselves and were able to sleep), easier ;)



Our mom's drove us to the airport that afternoon for our flight to Hawaii:


The whirlwind wedding weekend was over, but the rest of our adventures were just beginning!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Backtracking: Our Wedding Reception

This is the continuation of two previous posts:

Our Wedding, Getting Ready and Our Wedding Ceremony.

Brendan and I were lucky to find a venue that had not only a gorgeous ceremony location, but a beautiful reception venue that had plenty of room for our 175 guests to eat, drink, and dance as well. Of course, after an outdoor July ceremony, air conditioning was important too! It was nice for our guests to not have to worry about transportation between locations.


Outside, to the left, we had a full open bar and several tables. This arrangement kept the bar inside from having a line, and also gave our guests a retreat from the music if they wanted a place to just talk and enjoy a drink. This is also where the cocktails and passed appetizers (Sweet Red Pepper Hummus Crostini and Cucumber Rounds with Chevre) were served after the ceremony. 


During cocktails, we had escort cards available in a vintage card catalog that Brendan's mom found for us. We printed our own table signs that had a number on one side and a book cover on the other side. We bought our own catalog cards and printed out each guest's name and the name and number of their table on it. All of the books meant something special to us, and we had a fun time deciding which guests to assign each book too.


Inside, we had our photo book guest book, photo pens, wedding candle, and card basket displayed on one table.


Another table displayed the cake. I was so blown away when I saw the cake for the first time. I had just sent several pictures showing different parts of how I imagined our cake looking. The baker and florist worked together to create it, and I couldn't have been happier with it.


At each place setting, guests had favors. Our guest, John, took this photo:


We did a set of four pencils tied in twine that each said "Stacy and Brendan, July 5, 2013, Write a Song About the Moon," a line from our first dance.

To kick off our reception, the wedding party lined up outside and the band introduced everyone, including the kiddos!



Brendan and I choose to do our first dance immediately. The band learned our song, "Song About the Moon" for the occasion, and they did an AMAZING job. One guest said at first she thought we had hired Paul Simon to be there! Brendan's request for our first dance was that he just wanted to enjoy the moment. We didn't choreograph anything, but just got lost in singing to each other, kissing, and holding each other. The band told us our song was twice as long as the average first dance song, but honestly, it went by in a flash for us. It was one of my favorite memories of the whole night. Maybe it finally started to hit me that we were really married.






After our dance, Brendan's grandfather led a prayer, the Irish Wedding Blessing, and gave us a blanket with the blessing, our names, and our wedding date. The blanket is on our bed now and brings us such happy memories!



At last, it was time for dinner! The menu included Margherita Pizza with Heirloom Tomatoes & Fresh Basil (not pictured) from the wood burning pizza oven, Roasted Chicken with Parsley, Capers, and Pickled Watermelon Rind, Fire Roasted Vegetables with Garden Herbs, Spinach and Berry Salad, Potato Wedges with Roasted Garlic Dijon, and Roasted Pepper Focaccia. Our venue is the nation's only certified organic event facility, so all of the food was organic and local. Good food was definitely a priority to us, and we really liked everything we got to taste (of course, we didn't have much time to eat!)  




During dinner, our fabulous Matron and Maid of Honor and Best Men toasted us. 

Matron of Honor, Annie (Brendan's sister/my sister in law!)
Justin, Bill, and Curt, the Best Men (Brendan's buds since 2nd grade).
Maid of honor, Corley, (my best friend since high school).
The girls had us tearing up and the guys had us laughing. The speeches were really sweet, and made me glad we had opted for videography, so I can hear them again!

Before I knew it, it was time for the parent dances. My Dad and I danced to "My Girl" by the Temptations. The song was a surprise for my Dad, who didn't know what I was going to pick. This seemed fitting though, since we listened to it all the time when I was growing up. I don't think I've ever seen my Dad have so much fun. 


Brendan and his mom danced to "Forever Young," the Rod Stewart version. His mom picked the song, and I thought it was the perfect choice for them. 


After parent dances, the dance floor was open, and the band had EVERYONE dancing. They played everything: Black Eyed Peas, Michael Jackson, Oldies, Country, Journey, Usher, the Cha-Cha Slide...no matter what they were doing, they always sounded great. They put on a great performance too. At one point, they were singing "Shout" and I looked over and they were lying on the floor during the "little bit softer now" part of the song. I was having so much fun, I didn't want to leave the dance floor for a second, and I pretty much didn't! 

Brendan's grandmother and our ring bearer, Sawyer (Brendan's cousin)
Dancing with my sorority sis, Tara. 
Dancing with my prom date and our groomsmen, Cole! 
We took a brief pause to cut the cake. The cake was also organic and was Italian Cream with Cream Cheese Icing. It was so beautiful and also tasted amazing. One guest told my Dad it was the best wedding cake they'd ever had! We choose to serve mini key lime pies and mini cheesecakes instead of Groom's cake. 




This first picture makes me laugh so hard. The bottom layer of the cake was impossible to cut. We looked at our wedding planner and said in horror, "it's frozen!" She informed us it was a fake layer. Our expressions here are priceless. 


We used the cake cutter that Brendan's parents used at their wedding, engraved with their names and wedding date. We used a cake server engraved with our names and wedding date. The champagne flutes are Waterford and were a gift from Brendan's mom. The band played "How Sweet it is to be Loved by You" while we cut our cake.




After cake, it was back to the dance floor. 
My Dad congratulating us. 
Dancing with my brother and our groomsmen, Graham. 
One of our flower girls, Clara, was celebrating her 8th birthday on our wedding day, so we had the band sing "Happy Birthday," and we brought her out a slice of cake with an 8 candle on it. 


Our band played the song "Crazy Girl" and my mom and I had an impromptu dance that was seriously the only time I cried at the wedding. My mom and I went through so much together in the past year planning the wedding, and I owe her so much. She has always been my source of strength and wisdom. I couldn't stop saying thank you! 


Our guests started a conga line to "hot, hot, hot," so Brendan and I just went with it! 



Dancing with Brendan's Dad: 


It was amazing to be surrounded by our friends and family all night on the dance floor. 





The band took a break while we did the tosses, but left music playing for us. We choose "All the Single Ladies" for the bouquet toss (obviously!) and my florist made me a smaller tossing bouquet. 



My sorority sis Cher caught the bouquet! 



For the garter toss, we choose the song "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies. 




Anthony, the boyfriend of Brendan's cousin, Katie, caught the garter!



The band played "Sweet Caroline" and dedicated it to Dina. Dina is our sorority sister that died in a car accident on July 5th eight years ago...we performed a dance in her memory to the song "Sweet Caroline" at Greek Night the next year and won first place. This was the first time we had all danced to the song together in YEARS. It was also the first time we were together on July 5th, and I think somewhere Dina was smiling seeing that we made a happy memory on that day in her honor.


Our other guests that did not know Dina were dancing along too. It was definitely still a happy moment, but an emotional one for the eight of us that knew and loved her.


Friends singing "you've been so good to me!" during "Shout!"


Goofing off

My mom dances with Brendan's dad (front) and my dad dances with Brendan's mom (back), so sweet! Our parents get along really well, which makes us so happy.


We danced together most of the night, but still danced a ton with friends and family too.


We picked "Moon River" for our last song. It was a perfectly romantic way to end the evening.



In honor of our fourth of July weekend wedding, we did a sparkler exit. While we were in the house, we could hear our friends outside shouting "Stacy! Brendan! Stacy! Brendan!" it was very funny. Our friends really did make us feel very special on our wedding day. 



We had a 1967 Oldsmobile Delmonte Convertible waiting for us outside. We hopped in for our joyride in downtown Austin. 



Waving goodbye to family and friends. This was kind of a fake goodbye, because we were going to see them in an hour at the After party!


We were married, and had enjoyed the most wonderful reception! It was nice to have an hour or so to just take it all in...at this point, it was already midnight, but I really didn't feel tired at all. We just had so much adrenaline from the day! It was lucky we still had energy, because we still had another party to go to! 

All photos by Amy Kate Photography (unless otherwise stated). 
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