another sunny day i met you up in the garden

Our Memorial Day weekend, the first in Austin, was spent celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary and otherwise avoiding the scorching heat. But first, I got a much needed haircut. I went in and said “chop it off!” Then we grabbed some margaritas to ease us into the weekend.

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Memorial Day weekend will always be special for us because we get to celebrate our anniversary by having a 3-day weekend, but we usually don’t do much to celebrate. This year, we decided to have a nice dinner out, courtesy of my friends who bought me a gift certificate for my birthday. Zoot is outside of Austin, to the west in hill country. It was a nice scenic, hilly drive there and the restaurant was excellent! I had the best chilled asparagus soup and seared scallops!

Sunday started with a game of tennis at the courts across the street from our apartment complex – how convenient! We caught a matinee of Hangover 2 at the Alamo Drafthouse – a theatre where waiters serve you food and drinks (alcoholic) at your seats throughout the movie. It was awesome – definitely our new favorite place to see a movie! In the early evening we decided to try out the pool at our apartment complex. It felt backwards, to have gone to a movie in the middle of the day and then to the pool in the evening, but it was genius for 3 reasons: 1) It was still really hot at 6pm, 2) It wasn’t crowded and 3) I didn’t have to worry about getting burnt!

After hanging out in the pool, we were ready for dinner and decided to hit up East Side Cafe, not too far from our apartment. They have their own garden behind the restaurant where they grow their veggies and raise their chickens. Their food is all local and seasonal and delicious.

I love this “bed” of herbs!

On Monday we did some more unpacking, organizing and cleaning around the apartment (and we’re still not done.) And I prepped our kabobs for grilling.

At our apartment, we are not allowed to have our own grill, so there are community grills in the courtyard. We went down to fire up the grill when we saw it was open and noticed that the gas tank was missing. Drew went over to the other courtyard where he saw a huge party going on and they had stolen the gas tank! So back inside we went where I grilled the kabobs indoors and smoked up the whole apartment… (they were still tasty.)

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “Another Sunny Day” by Belle and Sebastian

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no retreat no surrender

Thanksgiving 2010

We thoroughly enjoyed our two Thanksgivings again this year. Two tasty turkeys were turned out by my mom and mother-in-law as always! Was it just me, or did the holidays kind of sneak up on us this year?

We also had two other turkeys in the form of my mother-in-law’s cat Oliver and my sister-in-law’s cat Nanaa for entertainment. Last year I had blogged about their interaction (or lack thereof) and this year was no better. Nanaa is getting braver, but not more tolerant of Oliver. It’s always fun to watch them hash it out.

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

After a fabulous dinner and dessert, we enjoyed the fire and of course, some wine.

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Even Oliver enjoyed the fire.

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Nanaa preferred to keep to herself so as to stay out of Oliver’s way.

Thanksgiving 2010

Don’t hide Nanaa!

Thanksgiving 2010

Later on we played Cranium. Girls against guys. The girls were winning for most of the game, but somehow the guys came back to beat us.

Thanksgiving 2010

Maybe it was my brother-in-law’s awesome blind-drawing skills.

Thanksgiving 2010

Then the boys played some ping pong in the basement. Like boys do on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Meanwhile, Nanaa decided to venture out to the living room hoping that the coast was clear.

Thanksgiving 2010

Look out behind you Nanaa!

Thanksgiving 2010

She was not amused.

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Eventually, they just ignored each other. They were too tired to strike up a game of clawless-paw batting. (Speaking of which, have you seen this video? Hilarious!)

Thanksgiving 2010

Too much turkey I think.

Thanksgiving 2010

Looking forward to the holidays! I better get back to my x-mas shopping. My sister flies in on 12/21!
See the rest of my pictures from Thanksgiving on Flickr.

Thanksgiving 2010

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “No Surrender” by Bruce Springsteen

you can crush the flowers but you can’t stop the spring

This year for Easter we traveled home to Rockford to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday early. We were so excited to give Barb her presents that we made her open one on Friday night. Kari had bought her a bunch of cat accessories. The first thing she opened was some fuzzy mouse toys. “What?” She was really confused and of course we were all laughing. “No. no. no. no.” she said. “YES!” We were taking her to the animal shelter the next morning to pick out her very own kitten! I love how we didn’t give her a choice. HA! Of course, she warmed up to the idea. And of course, I was there with my camera, eager to snap pics of the new kitty. But first, the cake!

I had been reading a great foodie blog – Dinnercakes (I know the author personally through my sister-in-law!) and saw that she made a rainbow colored cake and I thought that’d be perfect for an Eastery-birthday cake for Barb. So I did my version with pastels. (The cake wasn’t homemade, so no recipe to post.) I made it two layers with white frosting. I poured green in first, and then right on top I poured the remaining colors one by one. Then, I dragged a skewer through a couple times to get the colors to move a bit.

I kept the decorating simple (because I’m so not good at that part.) But I wanted it to have the flower theme for Easter – and to go with the little birthday plate I painted for her at Color-Me-Mine. The plate looks like it was painted by a kindergartener (no offense to kindergarteners) – we’ll just say I mean it to be that way (instead of confessing my poor painting skills.) She loved it nonetheless.

The colors of the cake didn’t get as marbly-mixed as I thought they would – you could see the half-circle shapes and that’s still cool! It tasted great too!

Now for the kitty! We went to Winnebago County Animal Services and spent some time with all the kitties there. It broke my heart to see them in their little cages – meowing and pawing to get out. That was tough. But we found a perfect match for Barb! Meet Oliver.

He was a little shy when he arrived at his new home, but it didn’t take him long to start exploring. By the end of the day, he was jumping up onto tables and being held by everyone. He and Barb are gonna be best buds I can just tell! I get first dibs on cat-sitting!

You may notice that he looks a lot like a certain little kitty who’s appeared here before – but there is no relation. Nanaa is from Africa! I hope to chronicle the highly-anticipated first meeting of Ollie and Nans.

Ollie & Nans

After celebrating with Barb and getting Ollie acquainted in his new home, we headed to my Mom’s for a delicious Easter lunch. She had a turkey she wanted to “experiment” with (although all her recipes are experiments.) She did three or four different treatments on parts of it—braised, marinated, jerk-style. It was all yummy!


See more pictures from the weekend on Flickr.

gonna take your mama out all night

For my mom’s birthday, I surprised her by taking her downtown to The Wooden Spoon for a cooking class. As if the woman needs any instruction in the kitchen. But we love to cook together and this was a fun reason to go downtown on a nice spring day. There were 12 people in the class and together we created a meal of crab fritters with curry dipping sauce, goat cheese salad with roasted beets and fig-balsamic vinaigrette, pork medallions with arugula cream sauce, roasted potatoes, and a lemon custard fruit tart with raspberries. And we brought our own bottle of wine to sip on while we cooked.

Yes – those are onion goggles. Both stylish and functional.

Check out the rest of the pictures on Flickr.

The best part of the class? You got to eat what you made! It was all muy delicioso!

i say, a little ol’ wine drinker me

On Saturday, we went to Winefest in Chicago for a bit of wine tasting to get us prepped for our upcoming Napa Valley vaca.  The Californian wines we tasted included a full-bodied blend from Paso Robles, a Pinot Noir from Mendocino, and a Hawk Crest Merlot.  Wines from other regions that we liked were a Pinot Noir from Oregon, a French Pinot Gris, and a Vinho Branco from Portugal.  It was fun to try a bunch of wines while listening to music and perusing the local art collections.