Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Two Years

Not in the mood for smooshy gooshy love? Don't read this.

Our second year of married life has been... good. So good. This past year of marriage has been all about learning and growing with Brendon and appreciating and loving him more than ever. Even though I swear I know him backwards and forwards, he never ceases to surprise me. I learn new things about and from him everyday. Going through life with him is the greatest and most fun thing in the world.

And goodness, the things this man makes me feel. So many butterflies, after seven plus years of messy life together and two years of being his wife. I fall for him more and more everyday. I am crazy about him like a school girl. It's wonderful and scary, in a good way. How can anyone love this much? My heart hurts when we're apart and when I'm with him I cannot get enough. I'm addicted, big time. I crave his touch and his glances and his words. I want everything about him. I want his thoughts, his dreams, his future. I want to make him smile, to make him laugh, to make him happier than he's ever been. There is never enough. I miss him. Life gets in the way. It sucks and it hurts being away from him, but it is that much better when we're finally together again. And being apart gives us good things to talk about and share, although even if we spent every waking second together I don't think we'd ever run out of things to say.

I don't know how this man does to me what he does, but I love it. And I love him more now than I did yesterday and less today than I will tomorrow. Forever and always. I am the luckiest girl in the world, because he picked me. He wants me and he loves me. He loves the bad and good things about me, and is patient and kind with me when I am rotten tomato of grumpiness. Being married to him is the easiest and best thing in the world. I know marriage is not supposed to be easy, but it is. Life is not easy, life is hard and tiring and mean sometimes, but being married to him is like breathing deep gulps of air after life holds you under the water. Having each other is our protection against the dark and crummy things that so often threaten to appear in our simple little lives. Even after or during the most terrible day, knowing that we still have each other makes everything okay. He is my safe place, he is my home. He is everything and he is mine. And I am his. Two years down, forever to go.

And so you don't think we're all serious business:

Holy pit stains batman!

Photos curtesy of Powerhouse Studios. More wedding goodies here .

Friday, April 26, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 17 - simple white cake

This week I thought I'd get back to basics and make a straight up white cake with white icing. Plain jane. I found this recipe from my girl Martha (we haven't teamed up in so long) and gave it a try. Success y'all, success.

Lets talk about this cake batter. Are you into eating your dough/batter/unbaked goodness? Are you totally not scared of raw eggs and love the perfect grittiness of creamed butter and sugar? Welcome to the club. This batter you guys. I basically had my whole face in the bowl. It was delicious. Worth baking the cake alone.

This cake is where it's at. It's pretty flawless, I wouldn't change a thing. It's really your basic white wedding cake. It actually tastes a lot like ours did (convenient, our anniversary is Tuesday). It is also probably a great starting point for more creative versions. I think it would be delicious with some pureed strawberries added into the icing. Or the cake batter for that matter. Oh, and can we talk about this icing? It's the perfect white icing. So fluffy and so delicious. It's officially my go-to for vanilla icing. And like I said, it could be easily altered. I'm really thinking of busting out a strawberry version of this baby soon.

Looking at these pictures makes me want to go cut another slice. Oh and hey, here's the rest of the baking year so far.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Great Austin Hamburger Quest - Opal Devine's

I swear we don't just eat all the time. Food is just all I blog about apparently.

Next up on our quest-o-burgers; Opal Devine's. We'd never been before, for burgers or otherwise, but I'd heard good things and we live suuuuper close to one. It's an American food kinda place with an excellent selection of adult beverages, and a killer patio.

Brendon got the Bandera Burger (fried onions, bacon, pepper jack, and bbq) and I built my own (pickles, mayo, fried egg, and cheddar)! Now for the deets:

Pretty damn good. Thick handmade patty. Our favorite part was the plethora (Brendon's word) of toppings. I got a fried egg on mine! They have tons of toppings and bun choices. They also have a black bean burger that I was tempted to try, but a veggie burger with an egg on it just seems weird. The buns were delish. I got regular white and Brendon had a jalapeno cheddar bun. This place makes a damn good burger y'all.

I am a huge fan of a place that has side options that are not fried. I am not nuts about fried food. I got black beans, but they also had veggies (!) and mac and cheese (!!) among other things. Brendon loooooves fries and he approved of these. They were loaded up with pepper, in a good way. He said they were "da bomb.com". My beans were yummy too!

Badass patio. I love me a good patio. This place is right on South Congress but you feel like you're miles away. It's up on a hill so all you see are trees! I loved loved loved the patio. I'm sure it's not so awesome when it's 105 degrees out, but they have misters everywhere so it's probably not too bad!

Pretty good! Mondays are buy one get one half off on burgers. Also they have a legit happy hour, plus half price apps. Happy hour + patio? Yes please. We got a couple margaritas and they were on point and cheap. And I'm a picky lady when it comes to margs.

Aside from the phenomenal patio? There's a strip club next door. Plus or minus, take it as you will. Thighs and fries anyone? (< Brendon responsible for that query, obviously)

Overall, this place is awesome. Good food and an excellent place to chill. One of our new hangouts I'm sure. Aaaaand it beat out Dan's Hamburgers, sorry Dan!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Little escape

Life has been kind of gross lately. Not really gross, but just real busy and not in a fun way. I've been so worn out lately with work and Brendon's been going nonstop with school. It's just tiring.  But yesterday we escaped down to New Braunfels to my dad's for the day and it was really great. And much needed. We relaxed and just hung out away from everything. I wish we were able to do that more often. There's just something so relaxing to be at home out in the woods. Even with all the crazy animals. There are some insane baby chicks in the chicken coop these days. And these guys were a riot, as usual:

My dad is building this barn by hand, no big deal. He drew up the plans for it and everything. You see where I get this need to make things from?? It's genetic! Retirement = lots of time for projects. Also, retirement = this:

Wild mountain man. Check out that hair/beard combo! Most excellent.

Brendon and I are in need of a vacation. Like a real vacation, a decent chunk of time away from everything. We've been scheming and I think we've decided on a little road trip to New Mexico. Our road trip to Arkansas last year was just so awesome. It was so spontaneous and one of the best and most fun vacations we've had. I've a hankering to do it again, but this time we'll head west. We need to set some dates so I can start counting down the days. I need that light at the end of the tunnel!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Great Austin Hamburger Quest - Dan's Hamburgers

Introducing, the Great Austin Hamburger Quest! Or the GAHQ if you will. I'd love it if you pronounced it that like Gak, that weird jello-eqsue puddy stuff Nickelodeon came out with in the 90's. You know what I'm talking about. Floam too, y'all.

ANYWAYS, Brendon and I have been planning on doing this for a while, but never had the time to get our shiz together. Brendon is a burger fanatic. He LOVES burgers. His grooms cake was, a burger. Long story short, he's a fan. I think burgers are good too, just not to the extreme he does. So a few months ago I pitched the idea of hitting up all the best burger joints in Austin, trying them out, and finding our favorites. And blogging our thoughts. Brendon was on board of course, eating burgers is all he needed to hear. Thus, the Great Austin Hamburger Quest was born.

(On a side note, Austinites, yes, we've been to Hopdoddy. Yes, it is the bomb and our favorite so far. We are trying to find other great burger places, but we will include Hopdoddy in this quest-o-burgers.)

Our first stop on the GAHQ was Dan's Hamburgers at Manchaca and 35. I reached out to Facebook for good burger joint suggestions, and Dan's came up. I'd never been, and Brendon had only been to Fran's. Back story time! Dan and Fran were married and owned a chain of burger joints here in Austin. They split up and Dan's Hamburgers belonged to Dan and Fran's Hamburgers belonged to Fran. Fran's just shut down I believe, at least the one in South Austin, so that's kinda sad. Dan's is still kickin' though.

We've got five categories of comparison for burger joints. Burger, sides, atmosphere, value, and bonus (any extra tidbits of awesome/not awesomeness.

We both got a medium sized hickory burger, which is basically a burger with bbq sauce. Really good bbq sauce. I thought it was great, and it was extra fresh. Brendon thought that the bun could use some improvement and he wanted more topping choices, but the burger itself was seasoned well. And the cheese was probably just American but it was melted into some sort of queso perfection. Oh and did I mention the sauce? The sauce was the boss.

They had more than just french fries which is saying something for a burger place! They had regular fries, curly, and onion rings. We got curly fries, but I saw a plate of onion rings and got food envy real bad. They looked amazing. The curly fries were your average curly fry variety, a la Arby's. But they were super fresh and I approved! We split the large size, but they also have a small.

This is one of those order up front and they call your name when it's ready places. Very dated and a little grungy, but I liked it. Even though you know a gazillion people had been in and out of that place (I'm pretty sure it was a Pizza Hut previously) everything was kept clean which is a HUGE thing for me. I have problems with dirty places. Brendon says it has a "good old boys feel". Not sure what that means, but there you have it.

This place is real cheap! Totally an excellent value. Our two medium (and that medium is the perfect size) cheeseburgers and large side of curly fries was like $11. Super affordable and definitely worth it. Quality food for fast food price.

We got to meet Dan's sweet grandson! He was working the register and was super friendly. Bonus, bonus, bonus, we LOVE nice people. He spoke highly of the place and seemed very proud to be to there. Family owned and operated, for realsies. Way to go Dan's grandson, you won our hearts (and tummies) over.

Thanks for the burger Dan! I was seriously impressed. I was not expecting it to be much of anything, I mean the outside of the building isn't doing it any favors, but it was pretty damn good. That bbq sauce man... put it on everything!

Not sure where our next stop will be. I'm looking forward to it though. We had a blast comparing notes and pretending we were little burger connoisseurs. Any suggestions for future burgers are highly appreciated! They don't even have to be specifically burger joints, just a place to get a good burger! Our only limitations are that it's local(ish) and they serve burgers. QUEST ON!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 16 - banana chocolate chip cupcakes

In an attempt to get some ideas on things to bake, I reached out to the ol' Facebook. My friend Amanda suggested these banana chocolate chip cupcakes (with chocolate chips added) and this cream cheese icing. Bananas and chocolate are a pretty unbeatable combination. Kind of like orange and chocolate. Or raspberries and chocolate. ANYTHING and chocolate really.

These babies came out good! I kind of improvised on the recipe a bit. I was out of regular sugar (WHAT) so I subbed in some brown sugar. I threw the icing together by taste, I ended up using less cream cheese and more powdered sugar than the recipe called for. I also halved it because I only had 12 cupcakes to ice, and I'm glad I did because there was a ton left over. I can't imagine how much I'd have if I did the full thing!

If I made these again I think I would just skip the icing and top them with some more chocolate chips. I have come to the conclusion that I may be over cream cheese icing (I can hear you all gasping). I've used it A LOT lately, and I'm just kind of done with it. Don't get me wrong, it's delicious, but I'm just craving something a little sweeter and lighter to top my baked goodies. Like whipped creamish. Mmmm... whipped cream.

This husband of mine however, cannot get enough cream cheese icing. It's his favorite. He approves of these cupcakes.

Bored and in the mood for food? Check out my previous weeks of baking!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Purple princess dress

Why yes, the title of this post is PURPLE princess dress contrary to how blue this dress looks in these pictures. I promise it's purple. Like really purple. The evening lighting is no bueno for documenting actual colors I guess. Just take my word for it y'all. Or there's a picture on instagram.

This dress was a lot of fun to make, I used this Simplicity pattern. On the topic of color, originally it was supposed to be this badass salmon/coral fabric, but as the sales associate was rolling it out I noticed it had big ol' stripes of what looked like dirty water stains all over it. Homegirl tried to tell my that it was a pattern! I was like, girl. I know a stain when I see one. So I ended up with the same fabric in purple, sans stains. It's a poplin similar to the little blue dress I just made, just slightly lighter weight. More cotton than polyester. Sewing with poplin is so lovely!

I had a couple hiccups making this dress. Well one big hiccup. It ended up a couple sizes too big, which is ridiculous because I followed the measurements on the pattern and then went down a size. So there was hella post-construction construction on this bad boy to make it fit properly. But it ended up just fine (after a lot of seam ripping) and fits like a glove. I dubbed it the princess dress because, doesn't it look like something a princess would wear?? The neckline and sleeves are my favorite.

I mean, how cute is that sleeve?? I love it! Also, the back scoops relatively low, which is fun! Definitely unlike any thing else in my closet.

I swear to the Cullens I am not a vampire. The twilight (HA, yes, pun intended) just accentuates the fact that I have basically no pigment in my skin these days. Now that it is getting warmer (except for the past two days which have been stupid cold, what the heck Texas?) maybe I'll look towards the sun every now and then.

So welcome to my wardrobe little purple princess dress! You were super fun to make and I love you. I'm already planning on making another version. The variations of this pattern are pretty... variant? Little changes to the neckline and sleeves turn it into a completely different dress. Can't wait for round two!

And here's my cute and very sweet husband, who took a break from studying to snap of few pictures of my dress. Thanks boo, you're adorable.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Siblings Day

Well, that was yesterday. I didn't even know Siblings Day was a thing, until everyone and their moms blew it up on Facebook. So here, have this collection of images:

Throw back huh? You guys are just lucky I only have access to pictures from 2007-now. My momma's computer has the real gold. One day I'll raid it and you'll all be subjected to eyeball injuring walks down my memory lane.

Julie Boolie, Jules, Jules Verne, I love you and you're the best sister in the world. Thank you for always being there for me and always being hella supportive in everything I've done. Thank you for being so sweet, so funny, and still loving me even thought I hit you with an N64 controller (and other things) when we were kids. I have loved being your big sister, more than you'll ever know. I can't wait to keep watching you grow up. Yes, I realize you're an adult now, but you'll always be a baby to me. You're the best Jules.

Jason, or as I'll always and forever call you, JJ, thanks for being an awesome step-brother. We've grown up together through some crazy times and didn't killed each other (although there were close calls), and I'm glad. Thanks for putting up with me in my teen years, I'm sure that was terrible. I'm glad you came into our lives. You're hilarious, incredibly smart, and a fellow crazy cat person. I'm glad to call you family. Love you bro.

And here's my all time favorite picture of us:

If that stupid time stamp wasn't on there (or if I knew anything about photoshop) I'd totally have a least an 8x10 of this on my wall. I need that nonsense. I mean, teen angst much? Plus I'm blonde??

Love you guys. Thanks for being my siblings. Lets hang out soon.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 15 - chocolate zucchini cake

After last weeks minor fail, I decided to go with something I know I'm good at baking, cake. Chocolate zucchini cake specifically. This little book of old recipes my momma gave me is pretty legit. Nothing from here has turned out terrible, yet. And the recipes are SO SIMPLE. Thanks Women of the Farm Bureau from 1950-1980ish! I subbed regular butter for the margarine and used buttermilk for the sour milk. Because I googled sour milk and after seeing how to make it, I just couldn't do it. I can't watch milk sour in minutes and then use it. Just... no.

Please excuse the excessive amount of zucchini. It said two cups of diced zucchini and I was all like, hmmm... how many zucchini do I need for that? THREE! Nope. One and a half. We're having zucchini with dinner this week fosho.

Chocolate and veggies? Slightly unnerving. Sure didn't snack on this batter.

The recipe called for 1/4 cup of chocolate chips sprinkled on top and I was like, B please, you best up that to at least 1/2 cup. And I should have done more. There are never enough chocolate chips ever. But that being said, the cake still came out pretty dang good. It kind of tastes like a fluffy brownie. And I think it would be phenomenal with whipped cream. I might will whip some up for my next piece.

Also, when I cook, I try to use every measuring cup available. Because I looooove doing dishes.

In nonbaking television news, we finished the third season of Glee. We're waiting to watch the fourth when it comes out (IT BETTER BE SOON) because we are not trying to pay any moola to watch it now. Also, my boy Cory is in rehab and wont be in the last few episodes of the current season and that makes me unreasonably sad. You got this Cory. Also, the end of the third season? ALL MY TEARS. I got WAY too into that damn show. I blame it on the fact that Finn looks like Brendon and we were high school sweethearts, blah blah blah emotional girlyness.

We are now watching Pushing Daisies which is extra silly but also extra cute. And Lee Pace? You can smile that crooked smile at me all day. Plus all those dresses? Get in my closet. There's only two seasons and I heard it ends a little oddly, but I'm hoping I'm not adversely affected by it like I was with Glee. Seriously, I was in a funk for like three+ days because of that last episode. DAMN YOU GLEE. Making me feel things.