Friday Five: the Austin edition

I’ve wanted to explore Austin for a while now, so we took a trip down last weekend to see what we could see. Following is my list of five things we saw, ate, or experienced while we were there.

#1 – The capitol
So this was the obligatory stop, but it was actually pretty cool. The girls even really enjoyed it (mainly because there were a lot of stairs, which is always a bonus in their opinion) and neither Jerm or I had ever been. The capitol building was huuuuuge. I guess everything really is bigger in Texas.

IMG_3522

He wanted to point out the republic part...

He wanted to point out the republic part…

IMG_3528

The staircases were very Gone with the Wind grand.

The staircases were very Gone with the Wind grand.

IMG_3548

IMG_3549

IMG_3560

The Samson pose.

The Samson pose.

IMG_3563

IMG_3566

#2 – The bats

So I read about how there are millions of bats that emerge from the Congress Bridge every night at dusk, which seemed pretty cool. I knew Jerm and Mad would both really enjoy seeing them, so we planned our evening around it. Except, we waited for over two hours and they never came out. We could see some of them circling under the bridge, but it was pretty much a bust. The girls were totally over it by the time we left and I’m not sure seeing the bats would have even mattered at that point.

IMG_3585 IMG_3588 IMG_3601

#3 – The view

We stopped at Mt Bonnell on the way into town because it was supposed to have a killer view of the area. And seriously, it really did. Even though it was hot out, this was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It wasn’t a hard or serious hike, but it was nice to walk a little after being in the car all morning and the views were beautiful.

IMG_3472 IMG_3476 IMG_3482 IMG_3483 IMG_3486

You can see Austin behind us. We're pretty much the worst at selfies,ever.

You can see Austin behind us. We’re pretty much the worst at selfies,ever.

IMG_3497

#4 – The weirdness

No doubt about it, Austin is a little different. It actually reminded me of Portland – kind of hippie. For whatever reason, street art is a big deal there, so we stopped at a park to check some of it out. Graffiti really isn’t my thing, and in retrospect, I would rather have picked one of the other sites (more painting, less graffiti), but oh well.

IMG_3603 IMG_3602

I took this photo for Phil.

I took this photo for Phil.

IMG_3611edit

#5 – The chow

Austin is known for it’s BBQ and it’s food trucks, so we tried a little of both. Personally, not a giant fan of BBQ, although southern stuff is so much better than anything I tried growing up. Still, Jerm and I weren’t too impressed, but I think it’s just not our preference.

IMG_3511

Monte Cristo from Hey! You Gonna Eat or What food truck. (Apparently it's won awards.)

Monte Cristo from Hey! You Gonna Eat or What food truck. (Apparently it’s won awards.)

IMG_3512

IMG_3507
IMG_3578

IMG_3575

 

 

IMG_3577

 

We did a few other things, too, and had a great time. Have you ever been to Austin? What did you enjoy? I love exploring new places.

signature

Friday Five

Wow, second week in and I’m already behind. I started this on Friday morning and then Jerm came home and we suddenly had all these places to go and didn’t get home to eat dinner until almost 10, then we were gone again by 7:30 and out all day Saturday and I was too tired to remember to finish this bad boy up.  So it’s the Friday five on a Sunday (and just barely at that).

#1 – We had a fun 4th with the family (excluding the Papa Bear, who was sorely missed). The girls were especially excited to see the fireworks since we were in Fairbanks last year and it was too light out to shoot any off. They loved Alaska and talk about it frequently and fondly, but they are APPALLED that there were no fireworks. They kind of wonder how the people up there survive without them in July. (Special thanks to uncle Josh and aunt Michelle for supplying the fireworks this year.)

IMG_3417 IMG_3423

 

#2 – We killed it on school this week and only have a few more weeks left until all of the work is completed for the current grades. I can’t believe I’m about to have a 2nd and 3rd grader. I distinctly remember being in third grade. It doesn’t seem like all that long ago. (Okay, it does. Whatev.) Anyway, I’m busy making lists and getting ready to order curriculum for the next year. And I swear this school year I am going to make it to one of the homeschool conventions. I’ve been trying for three years now and I’m always out of town when the one I’m interested in is in Dallas. Boo.

#3 – I’ve been reading Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster to the girls and I’d forgotten just how adorable this story is. If you haven’t read it, it’s free for Kindle on Amazon. Get it, you won’t regret it. And if you don’t have a Kindle, get it from the library.

11737888_1067568849928771_962443356338340315_n

#4 – Okay, peoples, I don’t know what the deal is, but I feel like we’re spending all of our lives in the doctors offices and/or emergency room. Mad tripped on our daily walk on Thursday night and she’s been walking around like she has a broken wing ever since  so I’ll be back in the doctor tomorrow (or as soon as they can get me in) to have her wrist x-rayed. Her wrists are so tiny that we didn’t even realize it was swollen until Friday evening. Poor kid…I’m hoping it’s just a bad sprain and nothing is broken. (I should probably clarify that we did have Jerm’s aunt, who is a nurse, look at it and she recommended that we take her to her dr’s office  instead of the ER. She isn’t in constant pain or anything, just so nobody thinks we’re torturing our kids.) I woke up early Friday morning with my second helping of kidney stones (that’s always fun), so back to the hospital we went. We just can’t get enough, I guess.

#5 – I don’t have a photo yet, but I got the best-ever fabric haul at an estate sale this weekend. It was an amazing deal, and I’ll def. take a picture and share next week.

signature

Under the Sea Party

Susannah’s under-the-sea theme was so much fun. Probably my favorite party so far. I can’t believe the girl is 8 already.

Under the Sea Party 9

 

I think the octopus (jellyfish?) cupcakes were my favorite part. I mean, I wouldn’t have eaten one for $20 (marshmallows…blech), but they were so dang cute. Under the Sea Party 1

Jerm especially enjoyed eating the claws off of the lobster candies. Under the Sea Party 2 Under the Sea Party 3 Under the Sea Party 6

Susannah loved the hanging jellyfish so much that she had me hang them up in the playroom after the party.  Under the Sea Party 7 Under the Sea Party 8

Under the Sea Party 10 Under the Sea Party 11 Under the Sea Party 12 IMG_0155 Under the Sea Party 13

The kids loved the jello. I meant to add crushed graham crackers on the top for sand but I forgot to buy them…oops. Under the Sea Party 14

I had a treasure hunt planned for the kids to search out their favor chests but it rained so much the day before the party that I had to nix that idea. It wasn’t worth them squishing around in the backyard bog we’ve had all summer. Under the Sea Party 15

Oyster cookies. Under the Sea Party 16

My weirdly disproportionate crab plates. Oh well, they worked.  Under the Sea Party 17

I made these out of salt dough and planned to hang them as a garland but they were so heavy that I ended up scattering them on the table instead. Under the Sea Party 18

I’ve never had Sonic’s ocean water, but whipped up a batch for the party and Susannah LOVED it. Weird, because she’s not a coconut fan, but I think she drank about half of it herself. Under the Sea Party 19

The birthday girl. Under the Sea Party 20 Under the Sea Party 21 Under the Sea Party 22 Under the Sea Party 23

The girls with their mermaid tails. Poor Audrey got last pick and hers was way too short. Little girls are so cute. They’re fun to sew for, too. Under the Sea Party 24 Under the Sea Party 25 Under the Sea Party 26 Under the Sea Party 28

Happy Birthday, girlie.

(Linking here.)

Friday Five

Instead of doing my week in review, I’m going to try to pick 5 things from the week to highlight. Maybe it will make posting easier for me. (Fingers crossed.)

#1 – We started back to school this week, but it was a short one due to the holiday. We took advantage of having Jerm here for several extra days and went to one of the local aquariums. We were disappointed that the octopus was asleep, but enjoyed the rays, sharks, and jellyfish. (Excuse the extremely poor picture quality. I think I was the only one in the entire place who obeyed the no flash signs posted everywhere. Although I doubt flash would have made them better.)

IMG_0191 IMG_0201 IMG_0211 IMG_0220 IMG_0225 IMG_0242 IMG_0246

 

#2 – Susannah’s been very much enjoying getting gifts and cards in the mail this week. She thinks birthdays are awesome. (I hope to post about her party soon!)

IMG_0180

 

#3 – The girls have already completed enough summer reading to earn a free book from Barnes & Noble, so we took them to pick out their prize yesterday. Susannah also had a giftcard from grammie and poppy and she wants me to inform everyone that she picked out:
a) a princess sticker book where she can create royal outfits (this is what was on her list to find)
b) a joke book (crucial to 8 year olds everwhere)
c) The Little Princess (my suggestion)

Bookstores are a dangerous place for me; I always find myself scribbling notes and taking photos and in general, coveting. Because even though I already own a copy of Little Women, that cover.

IMG_3406

 

#4 – Jerm’s dad (aka Papa Bear) is doing so much better. It’s a for real, honest-to-goodness miracle. They moved him to a rehab place this week and he’s working on building some strength back up, but it’s just amazing that he’s himself, you know? No photos, because I’m fairly certain that he doesn’t want pictures floating around of him in a hospital gown, but the difference is remarkable.

#5 – Susannah came up with this little melody on her own. Now if only I could get her to practice what she’s supposed to be learning…

 

signature

May/June Goals Update

Wow, peoples, it’s July. May and June were all kinds of weird and crazy, with huge chunks of time spent at the hospital. (We’ve learned that hospital waiting rooms are a strange time warp where you can lose hours and days at a time without even realizing it.) Luckily, I had scheduled June off from school already, so I had a little bit more time to catch up on all the stuff I was behind on.

I’m doing well on my reading goals, am a little ahead even. I’m one book behind with the girls read-alouds, but I think we’ll catch up pretty quickly. We just started Daddy Long Legs, one of my old favorites. Susannah’s been reading everything she can get her hands on lately (remind you of anyone, mom?) and she’s already blazed through several of the books I had picked out to read together so I’m looking for suggestions for good read-alouds. (Not Beverly Cleary, though. I’m not a fan.) Here’s the stack I’m currently working on/about to start.

IMG_0183

I’m a little behind on my Documented Faith journal, but not by much, and I’m working to catch up on it. I started using my Documented Life journal again, but without the weekly prompts. Instead I’m using it however I want for personal pages. I only sewed a couple of banners for a friend in May, but I’m still counting it since I did use the machine. And June’s project was mermaid tales for the girls at Susannahs party.

Under the Sea Party 24

 

 

My biggest accomplishment was finallllly getting the bathroom walls and cabinets repainted, which has been on my to-do list for several years now. Actually, other than a little work left on the trim, our floors are finally finished and we are so happy to be done. Now we can start looking for another house and start all over again. :)

Although I haven’t kept up with all of the goals I set for myself, I’m pretty okay with the progress I’ve made the first half of the year. I’ll try to update every few months to keep myself accountable.

signature

Chocolate, Strawberry, and Nutella Cake

IMG_0015

You guys, it has been forever since I’ve posted a recipe on here, but this one is worth passing along to you. I found it on the Pioneer Woman’s website, though, so OF COURSE it’s amazing. I don’t think she’s capable of making anything that’s not totally drool-worthy.

And this cake definitely falls into that category.

Chocolate Strawberry Nutella Cake

CAKE:

  • 2 sticks Butter
  • 4 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup Boiling Water
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cup Nutella

STRAWBERRIES:

  • 2 pints Strawberries, Hulled And Sliced
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla

WHIPPED CREAM:

  • 2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar

Line two 9″ round pans with parchment paper, then coat with non-stick spray.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then stir in the cocoa until smooth.
Add the boiling water, let bubble for 20 seconds, then remove from heat.
In a separate bowl, mix together buttermilk, baking soda, eggs, and vanilla. Set aside.
Mix together sugar, flour, and salt, then add in the chocolate mixture.
Pour in buttermilk mixture and stir until combined.
Pour into pans and bake at 350 for 17-20 minutes.
Remove from pans and let cool completely.

While they’re cooling, add the sugar and vanilla to the strawberries, and let them set for 15 minutes, then drain the excess juice.
Meanwhile, whip the powdered sugar with the heavy cream.

To assemble, turn one cake upside down on platter, spread half of the Nutella on it, then add half of the whipping cream, followed by half of the strawberries. Repeat for the second layer and keep chilled until ready to serve.

Yall. This cake is so good. The cake is dense, almost like a brownie, and the strawberries and cream make it a perfect summertime dessert. And helloooooo, Nutella.

Make yourself one, and do it soon. You’re welcome.

IMG_0035

 

Linking here.

On dads

I’ve had dad’s on the mind lately and since Father’s Day is tomorrow I thought I’d write about my two for a little bit.

My dad is pretty awesome.
Growing up, I didn’t always respect him the way I should have.
I rarely understood his point of view.
I was a jerk to him on more than one occasion.
I wish I could take all of that back, but I can’t, and in a weird sort of way, I’m glad.
All of my stupidity in my growing-up years taught me to appreciate his wisdom and instruction.
He’s not a phone guy so I rarely get to talk to him (let’s be real, I’m not much of a phone girl myself), but I love seeing him when I get the chance.
I enjoy sitting and talking to him and am always amazed by how much he knows about the Bible.
He’s one of my heroes and I love him.
Thanksgiving - mom and dad

My other dad I gained through marriage.
He’s awesome, too, and I get how lucky I am to have two great dads in my life.
Having my father-in-law close by made moving away from my family a little easier.
He’s a great listener and he also gives excellent advice.
I love his stories and our Saturday night BBQ’s.
He’s been in the ICU for exactly five weeks now and it’s been really hard coming so close to losing him.
His absence has left a huge hole in our family and we’re all so thankful for his (excruciatingly slow) recovery.
We have hope that he’ll be released to a rehab facility in the next week and back home again soon.
I love him; he’s the best father-in-law/second dad I could ever ask for.
PicMonkey-Collage-1024x1024

Happy Fathers Day, dads!