Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Monster tree

Internet, meet our tree. The biggest tree we've ever had! We found it at the good old Home Depot, for FIFTEEN DOLLARS. Fifteen, y'all. It was so tall we had to chop off part of the top so it would fit under our ceiling. It is a huge tree. And I love it.

Unfortunately we've always had small trees, so we were a little short when it came to trimming the thing. I had to get a couple more strands of lights, making a whopping six strands total lighting that bad boy up. And we had to beef up our ornament stash a bit. And of course, I spied an opportunity to get crafty and BOOM, Christmas craft night at the Hogan's.

I went to ye olde Lobby of Hobbies and found us a bunch of cheapo plastic "stained glass" and wooden ornaments to paint while we rocked out to some Christmas jams. My happy place.

It's so fun watching Brendon do creative things because he thinks so differently than I do. We are polar opposites when it comes to all that right brain/left brain nonsense, so it was fun to watch him chose colors and paint. And I know he sat through it all just to make me happy. I have a good husband.

Obviously, painting my reindeer that turned into a moose, and looking super stoked about it. After painting our ornaments we added them to the tree so it didn't look so sparse. I love our little collection of ornaments. Most of them are handmade, but we also have some fun ones that were gifts and souvenirs from trips we've taken. The handmade ones are my favorite. They just have so much character! Like Brendon's happy little truck, you can't beat that:


It's so nice to have a tree in your home. Especially when it is gigantic. It smells lovely, it looks lovely, and it makes me feel lovely. And I got to decorate it with little memories with my favorite human.

Nights with Brendon are my favorite. There are not enough of them. And because of that, I'll leave you with a sappy picture to make you puke:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Turkey Day recap

Brendon and I decided to try and "skip" Thanksgiving this year. Brendon was working and I was in serious need of quiet chillaxation. So we decided to just hole up in the apartment, relax, and put up Christmas decorations (my favorite part of Thanksgiving!). Of course, that didn't happen.

We had a mini Thanksgiving the night before at our place with Brendon's mom and little bro, and my mom, her friend Ray, and my sister came up for the day of. Lots of food, lots of dishes, and unfortunately, no relaxing. However it was really great to see family and totally worth it.

My mom brought up and made all the food so I didn't really have to cook any of the Thanksgiving dinner, but I was in charge of dessert because, duh. And I'll give you a hint, the recipes came from certain cookbook I've been fawning over for weeks. I MUST MAKE ALL THE RECIPES.

I made two desserts, one for chocolate lovers, a chocolate silk pie, and a more traditional Thanksgiving dessert, a pumpkin cheesecake.

And this is what happened to the latter:

It fell, no, tumbled, to it's demise. It was in the fridge cooling, perched on top of our water filter pitcher (Thanksgiving = ZERO fridge space), and in the midst of the craziness in our tiny kitchen it fell from it's perch, bouncing down all the shelves, landing in a pile on the floor. I had high hopes for this little guy. It took me forever to make, mostly because I had to crush 100 gingersnap cookies (slight exaggeration) by hand for the crust. And I don't even want to talk about how long it took us to find that size tart dish. So when it fell, I had a "moment" in the kitchen, and I cried.

Luckily, I had also made the best pie in the world, so it was okay.


This pie you guys. I am obsessed. One of my favorite foods in the world is chocolate mousse and this pie is basically a chocolate mousse pie, covered in freshly whipped cream and chocolate shavings. I mean, it's heavenly. I plan on skipping the crust and just making little bowls of this goodness next time. IT IS SO GOOD, Y'ALL. So good.

And here are the holiday mug group shots:

Sheesh, someones immature, who does bunny ears anymore?

It was a good Thanksgiving, full of family and good food. To wrap up the night Brendon and I put up some Christmas decorations and then curled up on the couch and watch Elf to ring in the Christmas season. It was a good day. And the leftovers are phenomenal.

And coming soon, our ridiculous Christmas tree!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy THANKSgiving!

Happy Turkey Day, y'all! How are you spending this day of thankfulness? Stuffing your face with deliciousness surrounded by loved ones? Relaxing? Working, getting that time and a half? Far away from home? Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, have a good Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday. I know, I know, I live and breathe Christmas, but still. Thanksgiving is like Christmas with out the stress. You've got the hope and promise of a whole month of holiday cheer ahead of you. You're surrounded by family without the stress of presents and gifts (don't get me wrong, I love presents, but you know what I mean). The point of the holiday is to get together with your family, eat some great food, chill out, and be thankful. I am thankful for this wonderful life I live everyday, and so often I think, how did I get so lucky? Since today is the biggest day of the year for saying thank you, I am going to blog my thanks. This is going to be long, because I am thankful for a whole lot. Feel free to skip it and continue munching on turkey or giggling with your family; this is about me and your Thanksgiving should be about you.

I am thankful for pharmacy school. SAY WHAT? You're going to lead off with PHARMACY SCHOOL? Yes. Because it means that Brendon and I are living the dream. We are right on track with where we've always wanted to be. Brendon has to work his butt (and brain) off, but he's doing so well and I'm so proud. Not every one gets this opportunity, and I am thankful that Brendon did. I am thankful for all of the wonderful people he has met through pharmacy school, friends and teachers and pharmacists. I am thankful that he is stressed and studying nonstop, because that means he actually cares about what he's doing. And I am thankful that we are almost done with half of our second year, because four years is a long time and it is nice that time is flying.

I am thankful for my job. This "job" has turned into so much more than I had ever imagined. I am thankful for this wonderful company for having so much faith in me, for giving me the confidence to do things I never thought I could, and for helping me kick butt and take names at work everyday. Thank you, Coffee Bean, for creating such a fun work environment where I laugh my way through my days. I am thankful for all the fantastic people I've worked with that have become such good friends and for working at a place that feels more like a family than a company. And of course, I am thankful I come home smelling like espresso beans everyday. Because it could be way worse.

I am thankful for this city we live in. I am thankful that we landed in Austin and that we've made our home here. I am thankful that we live in such a forward thinking city, in a state that is not always so progressive. Thankful that we didn't hate it forever and love it now. Thankful that we've learned our way around this big city and have found our little niche in it. Austin is such a fun, beautiful city. I am thankful for our small corner of it, in this big apartment with the little kitchen, that we don't pay too much for. I am thankful for all of the wonderful things we are so close to, for being minutes away from downtown, from parks, from lakes, and there is always something to do. And I am thankful for all of the good things Austin has brought us. You've thrown lots of challenges at us Austin, but you've also been very good to us. Thank you for being such a good little big city.

I am thankful for Sophie and Greg. THESE CATS. You know how I love them. I am thankful that they fell into our lives and allowed us to be their humans. I am thankful that they are healthy and fluffy and let us cuddle with them (sometimes). And I am thankful that Sophie let me hold her in the kitchen the other day for five minutes straight when I felt truly terrible and extra lonely. She let me sing to her and she purred the whole time. If you know Sophie, this is not the norm. I am thankful that Greg is always excited to see us (and give us headbutts) and that he loves us so dearly. I am thankful that these cats know the sound of our cars and our footsteps and come meeting us at the door when we get home. There's nothing cuter than sitting on the couch with Sophie and Greg, hearing Brendon pull up, and seeing them perk up and run to the door. And it makes me feel extra special when Greg runs and hides when it's anyone but us coming through that door. I am thankful that I am a crazy cat lady and married a crazy cat man, because I know, I know, it's spinster material with this paragraph here.

I am thankful for my friends, here and far away. I am thankful for you all, thankful for those of you in Austin, those of you in North Texas, and those of you who are spread across North America and chilling in the Pacific Ocean (shout out to the Chistys). Thank you all for being so fun, so weird, and putting up with Brendon and I. I am thankful that we have made such GOOD friends. Friends that are there for you no matter what. Friends that feel and are more like family. I am thankful for the quality of friends that have stuck around for the long haul. And I am extra thankful for my best friend Kristy. For her and her wonderful daughter Kennedy and her sweet husband Ryan who have welcomed us into their family. I am so lucky to have snatched her as a bff all those years ago. I miss and love you. One day we'll live in the same city again!

I am thankful for my family. I am so so so thankful for my family. I am thankful that they are just a couple cities down the road instead of a couple hundred of miles away. And that both Brendon and my families live in the same town and that they get along! I am thankful that we have so many "families", and at a time like the holidays when seeing them all might seem stressful, I am grateful that we have so many to see! And that they are all so awesome and fun. I am thankful that my family loves Brendon and his family loves me, that I have been welcomed into his family from day one, and vice versa. I am thankful for all of my wonderful family members across the state and across the country. We have family everywhere. We miss all of you and although we don't get to see you nearly as often as we'd like, we are thankful for the times we have had together. And thankful for the internet for keeping us all connected and making the distance feel so much smaller! Families are never perfect but I wouldn't trade ours for anything in the world.

And of course, you knew this part was coming, I am thankful for my husband. I am thankful for Brendon Hogan. Oh, how I am thankful for him. I am the luckiest girl alive. I am thankful to have met my other half at such a young age, to have had all of these years with him. I am thankful that I fall more in love with him everyday, that I have never been crazier about him than I am now. I am thankful for all that he is, that he is so smart, so funny, and so kind. Thankful that he is such a badass, such a hard worker and so determined. I am thankful that he puts up with me and my shenanigans. I am thankful that he loves me. That he married me, that he loves us as much as I do and works hard at us everyday. That we are never bored together, that there is never any amount of time together that is too much. That as soon as he walks out the door I want him to come back. I am thankful that he is so supportive and has more faith in me than I do in myself. I am thankful that he takes care of me, helps me remember all the things I forget, helps me up when I fall (figuratively and literally), and that he always knows what medications I can and cannot take together. I am thankful that he is handsome and getting more handsome everyday, because, yes, I am shallow and it is really nice that my husband is cute. I am thankful for this loving life we've created for ourselves, for how far we've come and how hard we've worked. I could write about how grateful I am for this man all day, it seems cruel to fit it all into a paragraph. Simply, I am thankful that he exists, that we found each other, and that we are happy.

I have a good life. It is not always easy, but it is good and filled with good things. And as often as I say "I am lucky", it is not luck. Brendon and I have worked hard for this life. We have busted our butts everyday for who knows how long to be where we are, to have this wonderful life. We surround ourselves with good and push out the bad. And I am thankful that we are capable of this. Thankful that so many people in our lives are too. And I wish nothing but the same for everyone. It's your life, do with it what you want. And that's the best part, you can. Above all, I am thankful for this. The ability to live life and live it well. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cape in progress

Somehow I forgot we live in Texas and decided to make a cape. My first adventure in outerwear! I will probably get to wear it twice, because apparently seasons don't exist here. It's still hot outside and it's November. You'd think being a Texan my whole life I'd be used to it, but nope. I still have dreams of winter wonderlands where you wear scarves and sweaters and capes.

I am using this Burda Style Magazine pattern. And when I say "in progress", I mean seriously in progress. That hood is definitely not attached to the rest of the cape in that picture. It's just hanging out on my head. And it's held together by pins, not stitches. It took me a good half hour to figure out how those hood pieces went together. The pattern is very.... simple. As in no pictures and very minimal instructions. Luckily I have something that might resemble a brain in my skull and a decent amount of sewing experience. But it has still been a challenge. Once I figure out where things go I'm like, "duh, that makes absolute sense!" but getting there is the rough part.

But I have high hopes, it's a simple and classic design and it seems to be coming together beautifully, although slowly. I'm using the softest charcoal grey wool/poly blend. It's a dream to sew. And although there are no instructions for it, I'm fully lining it with some pretty maroon lining. Flying by the seat of my pants with that lining nonsense, so wish me luck.

I have roughly 100 projects lined up. Holidays, y'all. I'm interested to see how many get finished and how many get pushed onto the giant pile of would-be-but-Marie-doesn't-have-the-time-or-the-attention-span-to-see-through projects. It's like the Island of Misfit Toys. All my almost and unfinished projects hang out together and talk about how ridiculous I am. One day I will rescue (finish) them all. Maybe.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Meatloaf and movies

I have never liked meatloaf. I'm still not sure if I do, because these were really just big ol' meatballs. And they were good! Meatloaf has always freaked me out because ketchup is a key ingredient and I despise/fear ketchup. I hate the way it smells, looks, tastes, and I put my hand in it enough times on accident while waiting tables to tell you I don't like the way it feels. But this stuff has a sweet and tangy sauce that is damn good in place of ketchup. This lovely meal was straight from, you guessed it, the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook! Yes, again. It's a gold mine, okay?

So Mr. H and I were extra wild this week and saw two movies in the theater. We saw Sky Fall and... Breaking Dawn Part Two (poor Brendon, I know). Two very different movies for sure. Let us discuss.

I really enjoyed Sky Fall. Casino Royale was fantastic and Quantum of Solace was pretty good. Sky Fall was better than Quantum of Solace but wasn't quite good as Casino Royale. BUT it was still awesome. Daniel Craig is a boss and I love him as James Bond. He reminds me of my dad. Oh and Voldemort was in it. Kinda. I cannot see Ralph Fiennes in anything and not immediately think of Voldemort. But I liked him in this movie, he was great and I forgot about him being He Who Must Not Be Named after a while which gives credit to him as an actor. I loved all the throw back references and everything coming full circle. The movie was well done aesthetically, very visually pleasing. So many beautifully laid out shots. And that house at the end? Such a fantastic old house. Also, Q was EXTRA cute. Smart messy dark haired boy in glasses? Yes please. Obviously I have a type.

Breaking Dawn Part Two. Sheesh. Those movies are all pretty terrible. And I went into this one knowing that fact. I was prepared to watch a bad movie but secretly love it. But it was just really kind of bad. Worse than the others. Maybe it will grow on me, but I was mostly like "are you serious?" the whole time. Brendon and I were actually laughing at some points, and not because the movie was funny. I mean, it's corny stuff, but damn. Renesme was creepy. And the movie seemed a little short. To be fair, the material is uneventful in that half of the book. The end is pretty anti-climactic and I think they did a good job drawing it out and creating a little action. I feel like I'm being overly critical, it is Twilight after all. Over all it was a fairly entertaining movie, it was nice to see it all come together (and end). And the opening credits were really great actually. I like well done credits. Come to think of it, I didn't care for Sky Fall's opening credits at all. So I guess that means squat.

I'd go see them both (obviously only see Twilight if you've read the books/somehow got hoodwinked into being a fan of that nonsense). Sky Fall is great and Breaking Dawn Part Two is... well it's a Twilight movie.

I am very excited about the Hobbit coming out next month. I was a big Tolkien nerd when I was younger. My mom played the Hobbit for my sister and I in the car (on tape y'all) when we were real young and it was all downhill from there.

I love going to the movies! It's such a nice little escape from reality. If only it weren't so pricy.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Brownie cookies

I had grand plans of baking through my two days off, but I mostly ended up just curled up on the couch pouting about not feeling well. I did manage to whip up some quick cookies though!

This recipe is courtesy of the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which I'm sure you'll see a whole lot of in the coming weeks. And yes, I copied Deb and totally used a flower cookie cutter too.

Nom, nom, nom, sugar and butter. The back bone of any acceptable cookie. I need to give a shout out to my Kitchen Aid hand mixer and baking sheets for rocking so hard. Those things get lots of (ab)use and they take it like champions. A big thank you to whoever wedding-gifted them to us, I love them and you.

My favorite thing about these little guys is the perfect amount of saltiness they have. I'm a big fan of salted sweet things, and the salt and chocolate combo is no exception. They're simple cookies, nothing fancy or crazy. A snap to make and real yummy. I'm all about recipes you can just throw together, and this sure is one of them. Added into my "omg we need dessert NOW" recipes, right next to snickerdoodles. My only complaint is that a few of my "flower petals" broke off. But that's just cosmetic and another reason for me to consume more cookies. Oh no, another one broke, I guess I'll have to eat it...

Bake on folks! I'll leave you with my cat-child who loves hanging out in the warm kitchen with me.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Lynne!

Happy Birthday to my super cute step-mom Lynne! She just turned 1, obviously. We're so glad you were born, I don't know what my daddio would do without you. You're the best step-momma ever! My dad once again (the symmetry between that post and this post is uncanny), baked a cake. He skills are becoming unmatched these days. I lucked out, it was my favorite kind, yellow with chocolate icing. Bonus!

We ate at the Tea Room in New Braunfels, it's a super cute little place in an old house (like everything in Gruene) decorated with all kinds of tea pots and tea cups. And a random deer head my dad's friend donated to the decor? My dad knows everyone. We used to go there all the time for birthdays and such when I was younger, it was fun to go back! We had a good time talking and laughing and catching up. Life has been so nutzo lately I haven't gotten to see my family nearly as much as I'd like. It was good to see these folks. Family time is good time.

I jumped at the chance of seeing the world outside of work and dressed a little fancy.

This is what you look like when you're sick and trying real hard to pretend you're not. You can't really see what that dress looks like at all and I've never blogged about it, but I made it (surprise) and it's probably my favorite and most worn thing I've made so far. It's just a plain fitted navy dress made of some sort of stretch cotton-poly fabric, it probably cost like $8 to make. And that extra cute scarf was a thrift store find, 99 cents, y'all!

Always the ham. Brendon has to dress up a lot for school (professional schools, y'all, they're fancy!) so he dresses better than me 90% of the week. What kind of bs is that?

We also got to see my siblings! Jules and my stepbro Jason. Sorry for the creeper shot Jason, I blame it on Brendon's excellent photography. See that random deer head? 

And our gift to Lynne, the best gift of the night (ahem) next to the fishing reel that fell apart from my dad, a board game called Donkey Racing (or the "Ass Game" as my dad named it). The back says something about having fun while learning the "antics of the donkeys". It looks riveting. We're playing it on Christmas.

And keeping with tradition, here's the weird ass photo of the bunch:

Creeper much? I'm embarrassed that I was actually sitting like that in real life. You can see the crazy in my eyes, that's fosho! After Brendon took the picture, he said aloud at the table, "ooo, that's sensual". Sheesh. At least my hair looks good.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Days off

Today, I do not have to work! And today, I have practically zero plans! This has not happened in.... a month? Since before I went to Dallas? Who knows. My days off usually consist of running around like a chicken with it's head cut off, trying to catch up on life. But today, I have oodles of time to do whatever I want. And I have tomorrow off too! With not a plan, errand, or must-do in sight (well, one birthday dinner with family). I am excited. BUT, of course as things always seem to work out for me, I am sick. Some sort of cold+allergy combination of death that has been plaguing me for the past month. When I got home from Dallas I brought with me with a fever and a sore throat. And I still cannot seem to shake it, which probably has something to do with the fact that I am constantly going and going and going nonstop on a small amount of sleep. Life's busy y'all. I can't decide if it's a cold or allergies whooping my butt, but the fever part is really annoying.

So after crashing last night at 8pm and waking up today at 6:30am (coffee shop habits, y'all), I have been chillin' extra hard on my couch. Aaaand possibly watching the Twilight series in preparation for Breaking Dawn Part 2... Hate all you want, I know it's terrible.

I also recently acquired this bad boy:

You know what that means. HELLA FOOD BLOGGING. The culinary genius behind the blog Smitten Kitchen, Deb, has just come out with her first cook book filled with all kinds of amazing recipes with mouthwatering pictures. The desserts alone you guys. Seriously. Deb is coming to Austin to talk about her badass book this month and my friend Tyler and I are going to see her! SO STOKED! I'm pretty sure she and I will be bff's at first sight. And then I can hang in New York City with her in her little kitchen (little kitchen cooks unite!) and we will bake and laugh and eat wonderful things. Creepy blog crush much? Whatever. So today in my lovely free time today I do believe I'll bust out this book and bake me some yummyness. Because the best cure for sickness is dessert. I'm sure I read that somewhere. It's science.

Oh and this is too good not to share:

My new favorite shirt. Yes, that is t-rex, real upset 'cause he stubbed his toe. So good. The Chisty's always come with gifts (they spoil us rotten), and this weekend Brendon and I were showered with adorable and clever t-shirts from Sarah. She worked at Woot, where they have all kinds of deals online (UH, check out today's deal! In the market for a camera??) and where they make all kinds of awesomeness in t-shirt form. The best part is the descriptions of the products. Worth checking out for the laughs alone. So thank you Sarah for my amazing shirt! Not only is it hilarious and cute, but it's hella soft. Bonus.

Now, excuse me while I delve into the feverish world of baking and vampires. It's just me, my couch, and my kitchen for hours. Love it, even with a fever.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Chisty's in Austin

As if this weekend wasn't fun filled enough, Sunday we got to see one of our favorite families in the world, the Chisty's! Z lives all the way in Hawaii and although Sarah lives up north in Dallas now, she's about to move to Wisconsin! And Mrs. (and Mr., though not pictured, he was there in spirit!) Chisty live in Montreal! So I am very very glad we got to see them before they leave Texas for who knows how long.

We took them to eat at Hopdoddy (if you haven't eaten there, go, right now), last time Z was in town we tried to go but the line was too crazy. This time we braved the line and it was worth it!

After stuffing our faces with amazing-ness on buns, we meandered down South Congress and popped in a few shops. We definitely went a little crazy at the Big Top Candy Shop. Candy is good. Later in the evening we went down to Auditorium Shores for a little walk and Brendon got verbally abused for not knowing who Stevie Ray Vaughn was. Oh Austin, you are ever entertaining.

Also, I swear I took these with an iPhone, not a flip phone from 2006. Grainy is cool right? It's like, retro.


It was so good seeing Z, Sarah, and Mrs. Chisty. They are seriously some of the nicest people in the whole world. I am always blown away by how wonderful the people in our lives are! I will say it a million times over, we are so lucky! It is really sad that our friend-families live so far away. Oh well, sounds like a good vacation opportunity! Hawaii? Wisconsin? Montreal? I'm in! We miss you guys already. Come back to Texas!!