Saturday, August 31, 2013

Summer versus fall

It's been a while since one of these went down. A terrible webcam photo of yours truly and a boring post without food or pretty pictures, revolving around my actual day to day life and thoughts. Wooo. But first and foremost, look at that busted chair. Thanks, cats. I reupholster a nasty chair with the cheapest fabric in the scrap pile for the living room corner painting studio that I never use and this is how you treat it? Shame.

Pharmacy school has started. Oh pharmacy school. Can we break up already? This is year three out of four, so at least we're over half way there. The constant studying and a certain wife falling asleep alone hasn't started yet, but I can smell it. I'm just trying very hard to look at it from the "the sooner it starts, the sooner it's over" side, but it's got me a little bummed. And I know Brendon isn't stoked either.

This cycle with pharmacy school has brought on mixed feelings about my favorite time of the year. I am not a summer person, and I don't think I ever have been. I look forward to the fall months leading to the holy time of December (so much irony) all year long. But this year, I want to hold on to summer. Not the heat, hell no, not the heat, but the summeryness of summer. The freedom and the fun and the carefreeness. The husband out of school and the adventures we have together. TWO incomes. Bright colors and sunglasses and tan lines and even sandals. Luckily for me, we live in Texas and summer is basically forever, or at least until November, but school starting is the unofficial beginning of fall regardless of temperature. There are cases of pumpkin syrup on my shelves at work, begging to be latte-ed up. Stores are clearancing their shorts and showing off their sweaters (and I want them all, oh my goodness especially this one). Leaves are starting to change in regions of America with seasons. My Facebook newsfeed is unfortunately flooded with football posts. Halloween costumes are being schemed and I've got a hankering to watch You've Got Mail. And somehow tomorrow is the first day of September. It's happening. Fall is happening. And usually I'd be lapping it all up, but I am clinging to summer. I am a fairly forward thinking person, but I want to go back. I want to rewind to May and do it all again. Madness. I blame this on a wonderful summer and funky things happening in my life at the moment. Fall is the season of change and maybe that's what I'm afraid of. But I need to quit it. Fall is the most wonderful time of the year, followed by the most magical month of the year. I am going to enjoy it, damnit. One pumpkin latte at a time (kidding, not actually a fan of pumpkin outside of candles). So bring it on, September. Whatever you bring, I'm armed with a handful of fake red and yellow leaves and an arsenal of fall baking ideas.

And this has nothing to do with anything, but because I'm a maniac and love working 50+ hours a week, I got a second job. This summer I started sewing a day or two a week at a drapery workroom with the sweetest lady ever. Seriously, nicest boss in the world. This job is my happy place. It's the greatest escape and I am learning so much. I get to sew with fancy machines on fancy fabric and learn fancy tricks and techniques. I haven't sewn at home since I've started, but I imagine my little machine will feel... different. But this little job has made me realize even more that I am happiest when I am making something. When my hands are at work. Even if it's drapes for someone's home that I'll never see, I'm creating. I'm not sure where my calling is in the world (honestly, is anyone? If you know, then tell me the secret to figuring it out), but I feel like I'd be pretty happy as long as my hands are at work making something. Preferably something pretty. I think I need to take this more to heart.

End ramble. If you made it this far, congrats. I think all that typing about fall has me ready for it. I'm sad to see summer end, but I'm about ready to tackle this fantastic season. Maybe I'll just pop You've Got Mail in and let it push me over the edge.

Carlsbad Caverns

Did you know that Carlsbad Caverns is actually not in Carlsbad, New Mexico? We didn't either. We planned our trip home from Ruidoso to go through Carlsbad so we could hit up the caverns and see what the caves had to offer. Unfortunately the caverns are actually a little less than an hour away just outside of White's City (which is really just a handful of touristy buildings outside the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns National Park). After a little debate on just how late at night we were willing to arrive at home, we decided to cave it up. Worth it for sure.

Carlsbad Caverns is in what I'd call the foothills of the Guadalupe Mountains. You're basically in the middle of the desert, but I think it's beautiful. You can see for miles on top of the hill the park headquarters is on.

When you go down into the caves, the temperature drops dirastically. It was like 95 degrees out, but year round the caves are at about 56 degrees, and extra humid. You can either take an elevator down, or hike in. We hiked in but caught the elevator up.

We had to change from our summer gear to pants and sweaters. It really is pretty chilly down there, and soooo damp.

There's a colony of Mexican free-tailed bats that live in the caves all summer and you can watch them fly out for the evening nightly. Ironically, we overheard a cashier telling some folks that the drought has been so bad that many of the bats had left the caverns for... AUSTIN, TX. They're all under the South Congress bridge. I felt a little guilty.

We didn't hang around to see the bats, but we did explore the caves and it was pretty dang neat. I've been to caves before (I basically grew up on top of Natural Bridge Caverns), but not in a good decade. It was very awe inspiring and a little magical. We were keeping an eye out for the American Gringotts Bank. I bet if we weren't such muggles we would have seen a goblin or two.

The drive in and out of the park is very pretty. We stopped to take a few pictures, but we didn't last long outside of the car. It was hot as heck outside and we were still feeling spoiled by the cool mountains. But there is something to be said for the desert. It's beautiful and wild and one of the many reasons I love New Mexico.

Our drive back to Texas was smooth and uneventful. And very very very long. But thankfully the speed limit was eighty most of the way so I think we made good time. We chased a storm all the way home and though we drove on damp roads, it never rained on us.

And that's the last New Mexico vacation post. This was a perfect vacation. I loved every minute of it with Brendon and can't wait to get back to the Land of Enchantment. We jumped back into reality on Monday and it was a little rough. And Brendon started school Wednesday, so you know that sucks. It's been a not so great week, but anything compared to our week in New Mexico would seem a little lame. All I'm saying is, when's our next vacay?

Friday, August 30, 2013


Our day exploring Ruidoso was filled with rain. No, not rain, an insane storm. Like lightening cracking in the near vicinity so loudly it shakes your body and hurts your eyes. The main road through town turned into a mud filled river and shops were shooing water out of their front doors. We were troopers though and hopped between awnings and explored all the shops, getting little souvineers for us and family. We got some mind blowing salsa from here.

This is a grumpy husband who's tennis shoes were soaked via running through the road-river. He should have listened to his own advice when I inquired if I should wear my faithful boots with a dress and he said, "yes, it's supposed to rain." Silly boy, how I love you. So glad you never stay grumpy for long.

Christmas shops, you are the best. The lovely lady running this place greeted us with a joyous, "Merry Christmas!" and told us there was only one hundred some odd days until Christmas. A woman after my own heart. What a dream job!

The largest piece of carrot cake ever from the Blue Goose Cafe (which is delicious and run by a UT fan!). Freaking monster cake. He ate some then, on the drive home, and finished it off the day after we got home.

Other great places to eat: The Village Buttery: adorable little soup and sandwich shop with a killer patio, the asparagus soup was phenomenal. Grace O'Malley's Irish Pub: BEAUTIFUL place, so classy! Great food, excellent beer list, and an awesome patio. Sacred Grounds Coffee and Tea House: excellent breakfast and excellent coffee! We had some seriously note worthy oatmeal and the best little bagel with honey cream cheese. Best breakfast of the trip and maybe my favorite meal.

Also, I must mention how kind everyone was! Everyone we talked to was super sweet and not at all "ew tourists". Maybe it's because they live in such a pretty place and that effects their mood, but everyone was just so genuinely nice us!

We stayed at the cutest little hotel, the Sitzmark Chalet. It was adorable and that was our selling point. We got the last room (they even switched on the NO vacancy light after we checked in!) and it was teeny tiny, but perfect for us. After getting soaked in the rain, we spent the rest of the evening curled up in bed reading. Perfect day. These pictures were taken the next morning, which was a beautiful day and made leaving that much harder.

The next morning we packed up and headed down out of the mountains for good. And I cried a little in the car. I don't know why being in the mountains has such an effect on me, but it's like I'm supposed to be there. It's my happy place. I am scheming a way for us to end up there for a long period of time. And I'm not sure if I'd feel the same way if we lived there, but my whole life I feel like I've just wanted to be in the mountains. I blame the Sound of Music.

Ruidoso you were so good to us. I love you and I can't wait to get back to you.

The rest of the trip here.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Climbing every mountain

On our third morning in Ruidoso, we decided to get our extreme hike on. At the end of Ski Run Road, before the ski resort, there is a trail head to all kinds of trails in the White Mountain Wilderness. Like miles upon miles of trails. You could probably spend a week hiking through those mountains. We spent one morning. I'm not sure how far we hiked, we ended up on a trail that we're pretty sure was closed (we disregarded the notice at the trail head) and at a certain point just turned around and went back the way we came.

This is why the trail was "closed". Burned forest. Incredibly sad. We hiked through so many burned areas, and a lot of them hadn't started recovering yet, which is probably why it was closed. Burned mountain sides are dangerous without all the plants holding everything together. Landslides, falling trees, etc. Hiking through these sections was very humbling and also very difficult. We had to climb under and over an insane amount of fallen trees. Thankfully there were sections of untouched forest as well!

Creepy much?

We were hiking over the mountains adjacent to the ski resort. Very pretty, even when not covered by snow!

We hiked for three hours, and the whole time we were thinking, what would Reverend Mother do? She would Climb Every Mountain. (too much Sound of Music? too bad.) Like I said though, at a certain point we just turned around and went back. Mostly because I got two giant blisters on the BOTTOM of my feet. So awesome. I was limping for the rest of the day.

After our hike and a yummy lunch, we hung out at the campsite for the rest of the day. We read for a few hours in the sun (and both got sunburned!), played card games, and grilled up a fancy feast. Can't every day be like that?

And for your viewing pleasure, this is what my cute husband's hair looks like after three days sans showers. On our fourth morning, we packed up camp and headed into town for a day of civilization and a night in a hotel. It was a sad morning, I did NOT want to leave. We took a couple parting shots of the mountains we had just gotten to know and headed down.

In case you're wondering where my dream home is, it's that tiny cabin down there. Heaven on earth. My heart hurts being away from these mountains!

The rest of the trip here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hair hair hair

Before and after, clearly. The last time I cut my hair, I told my self I was going to go a year without cutting it. What a fool, I can never make it much more than eight months. My ends were getting slightly disgusting and my hair was like, seriously, long. Scary hippie long. Unmanageable and heavy and the hottest mess. So I got it cut, brought back the bangs, and obviously I lost my mind and dyed it. I haven't dyed my hair since 2008. I stopped dying it because my hair was fried and I wanted to see what my natural hair color really was. I was a redhead through high school, went blonde for a bit in college, and then rocked the uber dark almost black for a while.

Turns out I really like my natural hair color and have rocked it for almost 5 years, but I was itching to mix it up. So I went ombre and had my ends lightened and then got real crazy and put two little purple streaks in it. These purple babies wont last for long, but I've always wanted purple in my hair and I love it! The only reason I went with this look is that since the roots are natural, I don't have to dye it again any time soon, if ever. And I'm not going to lie, I miss my natural hippie hair a little already. But this is really fun and hair is just hair and it will grow back. Plus, if there's anything to make you look younger it is purple in your hair. And I'm all for looking younger.

I got my hair cut and dyed by Damien at Birds Barbershop on South Congress. It took over three hours (I have too much hair!) and he was a damn rockstar, and I love my hair. If you need color work done, go see Damien.

Previous hair cuts, in which my hand is perpetually glued to my hip and I'm always wearing blue?

Flower crowns and four legged friends

After getting back from the White Sands, we headed back to the campsite to chill out. As soon as we pulled up to our tent, it started raining! It was perfect timing because the windows of tent were definitely open. So we jumped out of the car and snuggled up in the tent while a terrific thunderstorm raged outside. Brendon read a book (we're on that Game of Thrones nonsense) and I eventually zonked out and had a little nap. I woke up about an hour later to bright warm sunshine that turned our tent into a little oven. A nap in the mountains during a thunderstorm? Up there on my list of awesome life moments.

After stumbling out of the tent and waking up a bit, I got down on making a flower crown. As soon as I saw all those flowers in our meadow, I knew I had to get my crown on. It was actually really easy and fun! I used nothing but flowers and leaves to hold it all together and it worked out pretty dang well, except for that bug that ended up in my hair.

It looks better on him. I used the white flowers as my base, used long blades of grass to tie them together into a circle, and then just kind of threaded in the other flowers. Not too shabby if I may say so! It held up for the rest of our time there and we left it at our campsite, so hopefully another camper found it and made use of it!

After my flower making escapade, we did a little hiking through the mountains around our campsite. I cannot express enough how much I loved it here, it was so beautiful. Although it was beyond pretty and green, this forest is still recovering from a terrible forest fire from June of last year. So many charred, fallen down trees. It was heartbreaking, but thanks to all the rain, much of the forest is recovering! Nature always finds a way.

Lookie there! A little friend! She just stared at us and then went on munching on her grass while we took selfies.

While camping we ate all of our dinners by campfire. We brought lots of veggies to grill and made a pit stop for some hotdogs (GASP, meat!) and of course we roasted marshmallows. Cooking on a campfire is my new favorite. We had some roasted corn that was to die for. Also, check out our dinner guests!

There was a herd of deer just hanging out in the meadow with us while we cooked and ate dinner. They came down the mountain side, one by one. There ended up being like ten of them and three were little babies! The grass was so high you could barely see them. Best dinner entertainment ever.

You know there's more to come! This is going to be like a week of New Mexico, y'all. Sorry boutcha eye balls.
The rest of the trip here.