Monthly Archives: July 2012

Homemade Pesto

Overall, our garden has done… alright. Within the last few months, some of the plants have definitely done better than others! One that has been growing like crazy is our three basil plants. Yes, three. When we first planted our garden, we really had no idea how big each individual plant would get. Had we known more, we would have planted just one basil plant (and one rosemary, one squash, etc.). Anyway, with our basil plants growing pretty heartily, I started to look for homemade pesto recipes online. I figured this would be one of the best ways to use as much basil as possible at once. So after some searching, I found this recipe on Pinterest (I did substitute the walnuts with pine nuts).

Thriving pesto

Making pesto was much easier than I had anticipated, so I’m sure we’ll be having more of it! We used some of it tonight in our pasta and had some of our remaining garden tomatoes on our baked chicken (recipe from Healthy in a Hurry – a great cookbook!). Now I’m off to watching more of the women’s gymnastics Olympic team finals!

PS – If anyone in San Antonio wants a basil plant, we would happily part with one of ours. Really, bring a planting pot by and it’s yours!

Ta-da! Homemade pesto!

Garden tomatoes

Dinner!

Chicago Trip, Part 2!

After our morning at the Evanston Farmers Market, we went back to Rachel’s apartment to drop off some produce she purchased. We then got our tickets for the Cubs game and prepared to make our way over to Chicago! Once again, the location of Rachel and Mark’s apartment is really central so we were able to walk just a few blocks to the closest train stop. Once we got on the train and made our first stop, it quickly filled up with other people in their Cubs gear and we followed the crowd off at the Wrigley Field exit. The game wouldn’t be starting for another hour but the ballpark was already pretty full – those fans take their Cubs games seriously!

Game tickets!

Waiting for the L train

Fans getting ready for the game

I was already really excited to be going to a Cubs game with Rachel; Wrigley Field is just such a classic ballpark! But what made this game even better is that they would be playing the Arizona Diamondbacks! Having grown up in Tucson, I was a pretty devoted Dbacks fan back in high school and my first couple years of college. Not sure if I should be proud of it or not, but I know a few too many facts about our 2001 World Series against the Yankees. However after that 2001 win, the team began to do a lot of trades and soon all my favorite players were gone. It was hard to follow the team while living in San Antonio since I know longer had the dependable Arizona Fox Sports channel to watch and keep me updated. Long story short, I haven’t done a great job following the Diamondbacks over the last five years or so. But. I was still very excited that of all the teams the Cubs could be playing this Saturday, they would be playing my old team. I did feel conflicted over who to cheer, but I had to go for the Cubbies! (although I did quietly clap whenever any of the Dbacks I still followed made a good play or got a hit)

Our seats were awesome… Rachel did a great job picking them out! There are a couple of key factors when buying tickets at Wrigley Field. 1-Watch out for the beams. It’s an old ballpark, so there are a lot of visible support beams that can obstruct your view. 2-The ballpark doesn’t have a roof, so don’t sit along the third base line for an afternoon game unless you plan to get a nice tan/sunburn. Rachel got us tickets along the first base line, under the shade of the level above us and in between two support beams. In other words, pretty much perfect :) The game got off to a slow start, but the Cubs soon got the momentum going and eventually won the game 4-1. We actually left the game a little early at the top of the 9th. It was starting to rain again and we were hoping to beat the rush of people back onto the train. We had pretty good timing and didn’t have any difficulty getting ourselves some seats for the ride back.

Ready for the game!

Play ball!

Such an awesome ballpark

Score outside the stadium

Once we got back to Rachel’s apartment in the afternoon, we started working on our dinner plans. We kept our fingers crossed that the rain would let up so we could go back to Chicago and eat downtown and thankfully, it did! Instead of taking the train again we instead drove into the city and had dinner at this great restaurant called Niu Japanese Fusion Lounge. I highly recommend this place to anyone looking for some awesome sushi in Chicago! I’m no sushi expert (I’ve really only had it a few times) but this was rather phenomenal sushi :)

After dinner, we did some window shopping on Michigan Avenue. For all the on and off rain we had had over the weekend, the weather really couldn’t have been any nicer for our time walking around! The only hiccup in our evening of shopping was Crate & Barrel closing at 7:00… what’s up with that?

Walking to Michigan Avenue

View from Michigan Avenue at night

Hancock Tower

We got back to Rachel’s apartment after our shopping, watched another episode of Downton Abbey (season two is intense!), ate some brownies and called it a night to a very full, long day.

We went to church Sunday morning and it was great getting to meet some of Mark and Rachel’s new community. The weather was staying sunny, so we decided to take advantage of the sun and head over to the Evanston beach. Again, Lake Michigan is huge. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a man made beach! We spent an hour or so there reading and laying out in the sun and then walked back to Rachel’s apartment in the afternoon to get my bags packed and ready for my flight in the evening.

I am so glad I was able to spend those couple of days with such a dear friend. I am so impressed at how Mark and Rachel have found their place in this new city, discovering great restaurants and finding new communities. I am so grateful for my friendship with Rachel and hope to be seeing her (and Mark!) sometime again soon!

Chicago Trip, Part 1!

Our good friends Rachel and Mark moved to Chicago last summer where Mark would be getting his MBA at the Kellogg School of Management. Having been friends with Rachel for the last seven years, I knew that I would try to go visit at some point during their time there. Now Mark just finished his first year of his MBA program and got an awesome summer internship out in Seattle; with Rachel still working in Chicago, we were hoping to have a girls weekend at some point during the summer months. Fortunately an opportunity came up last week thanks to work. I was making my first trip out to our client, General Mills, in Minneapolis and would be there until Friday morning. Instead of flying back home to San Antonio, I was able to fly out to Chicago to spend a couple of days with Rachel! I landed Friday around 1:00 in the afternoon and after a bit of a delay to taxi to our gate (we were held back by a lightning storm and sat out on the run way for about 45 minutes), we were finally able to get out of the airport and make our way over to Evanston for lunch. We went and ate at this great local restaurant called the Dixie Kitchen and had some awesome fried catfish. Yum!

Walking around Evanston

After lunch, we drove over to their apartment and dropped off all my stuff. A light rain had come through while we were out eating but it let up for a bit, which allowed us to go for a walk to part of the Northwestern campus and the edge of Lake Michigan. I loved checking out all of the different homes and apartments along the way! Not sure how many times I raved about all of the ivy on the buildings :)

We soon made it to the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern and walked through part of the campus to get to the lake (an area called Lakeside). It’s amazing how huge Lake Michigan is; it honestly looked like we had reached an ocean!

Walking past the Kellogg School of Management

Chicago skyline from Evanston

Rocks around Lakeside where generations of Northwestern students have painted messages

While we were walking around and checking out the different messages on the rocks around Lakeside, we started to hear some thunder again so we walked back to Rachel’s apartment and made it just in time before it started to rain. It didn’t seem like it was going to stop anytime soon and we weren’t going to let that ruin our dinner plans! The rain wasn’t too heavy, so we grabbed some umbrellas and walked over to a place with some great deep dish pizza: Lou Malnati’s. It’s probably a good thing that we walked, that pizza was pretty heavy! :) We ended the day with some wine and two episodes of Downton Abbey – if you haven’t started watching this show yet, you definitely need to!

They have some serious deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s

Saturday was going to be a very full and fun day (which is why this trip will be broken out into two posts!). We got started by walking over to the Evanston Farmers Market. This is definitely hands-down the best farmers market I’ve ever been to. The one here in San Antonio at the Pearl is pretty good, but the one in Evanston hadso much different produce, from berries to carrots to varieties of zucchini. They also had some of the most beautiful flowers I’ve ever seen. Pretty sure I stuck out like a tourist taking so many pictures!

Farmers Market

Farmers Market

Feeling inspired to try growing some carrots…

Farmers Market

Amazing zinnias

So colorful!

Slightly obsessed with these sunflowers

Stay tuned for another post on our adventures in Chicago, including a Cubs. vs. Diamondbacks game at Wrigley Field!

Thank you, ACS

It’s no secret that Chip and I love dogs. We have Wrigley and have been fostering Duke since February. I’m pretty sure I blog more about dogs than anything else. So it’s probably no surprise that when we noticed a friendly stray on our street, we didn’t hesitate to start feeding him. Chip teased me as I plotted how to take care of this dog (if we didn’t already have Wrigley and Duke, I’m sure we would have found a way to take him in!). He was extremely thin but would approach people when called and encouraged. So my plan was to keep feeding him until he put on some weight (make him more easily adoptable) so I could take him to a shelter where he would hopefully find a home. One of our other neighbors had also been feeding him and giving him water, so I felt like this plan would work.

That is until a couple of days ago when I spoke to our neighbor about this dog and she let me know that she was planning to take him to the vet to have him put down. I was shocked. Yes, this dog was terribly underweight; it was pretty clear he had lost a lot of weight fast since his skin was saggy in different places. Yes, it looked like he had mange, but that’s treatable with the right medicine. His teeth looked in such great condition that I figured he had to be young, he was just down on his luck. I wasn’t going to let this guy go without a fight. So after talking to our neighbor a bit, I asked her for some time to try calling the shelters to see if we could take him somewhere.

Unfortunately, I had trouble getting a hold of any place since the next day was 4th of July and businesses were closed. So yesterday, I came home early to work the rest of the day from home (thanks, Ashley!) and saw the stray wandering around again. I fed him a couple of bowls of dog food, which he scarfed down. After he ate, he laid beside me where I was sitting and rolled over for a belly rub. I couldn’t believe it. I pet him for a little bit and when I stopped, he nudged my hand up, wanting to be pet some more. He had clearly been with people before, yet here he was left to fend for himself. I talked to him a little bit (yes, I’m one of those people that talks to dogs and believes they understand in some way) and let him know that we would try to find him a home and get him to a shelter in the next day or two. I gave him some water and went back inside to get some work done.

After a couple of hours, I noticed our neighbor trying to get the dog into her car. I went over to her house to see if she needed some help since it didn’t seem like he could jump into her SUV when she told me she was taking him to the vet to get put down. He had developed a limp, so she thought he might have been hit by a car and felt terrible seeing him in pain. After talking to her for a bit, we agreed that I would take him in my car to the Humane Society to see if they would take him first. If not, I would see what the vet right by our house would do and hope that they would know of a foster. With that, I got Duke’s old slip on leash he came with, and got it easily on this sweet stray. It did take a bit of effort to get him in my car. He walked up to it fine, but when he realized we were trying to get him inside he panicked a bit. He started to back up and pull away and started to howl. We stopped and gave him some treats to encourage him to try again. We got closer this time but he wouldn’t get in the car. I wasn’t sure if we would be successful and realized that the only thing we might be able to do is walk him down the street to the vet and hope for the best. I didn’t want to give up just yet, so we tried one last time with our neighbor on one side of the car gently pulling the leash to guide him in and me lifting his back paws up to get him into the car. We finally got him in and he quickly settled himself down on the towel we had laid out for him.

With that, I drove over first to the Humane Society. Since he’s so gentle and trusting, I wanted to see if he was by chance microchipped and we could at least call his owner (in which case I would definitely have a few choice words to share!), but unsurprisingly he wasn’t chipped. The Humane Society was already at capacity and since this dog has mange, they didn’t have a space where they could quarantine him. So we had to try another shelter. They gave me a list of other places to call, so we got back into my car (he smelled his towel and walked right in this time) and sat there in the air conditioning while I called other places. At this point, my mom was involved and helping (had to call for reinforcements! :)). Despite between a couple of states away, it meant so much to me that she was searching the internet for other places and sending me their numbers.

I’ve always known that San Antonio has a terrible pet overpopulation and that thousands of cats and dogs get put down each year. In case you don’t understand how much of a problem, chew on this stat: in 2010, 18,000 pets were put down. Yes. 18,000. I love San Antonio, but this city has a serious attitude and responsibility problem. Pets are not disposable, yet so many people abandon their pet if things “aren’t working out” or if they move and won’t find the responsible thing to do with their animals, like find a friend to take them in or even take them to a shelter (case in point, the people that owned our home before us left behind their cats. Lucky for them our neighbors had pity on them and have been taking care of them for years). Our city also needs to become more responsible and enforce spaying and neutering more strictly so we can have less abandoned puppies and kittens left to themselves. Now that I am done ranting, I will continue with this story…

I called just about every shelter and rescue group in San Antonio, Boerne and Fredericksburg with no luck. They were all over capacity or couldn’t take dogs with mange or had a two week wait period or would require him to pass a health test. I sat there in my car while this stray napped in the backseat and realized that I may not be able to save him. I realized that maybe all I could do for him was be his friend and hold him while a vet put him down since that would be something I wouldn’t let him face alone. With that, I lost it and started crying in my car, frustrated that no one could help this dog. Luckily at that point, Chip called me back. I had been trying to call ACS since we got back in my car but hadn’t had any luck and instead had been on hold for a while. But Chip somehow had someone answer right away and they said they would take this stray in. Finally someone agreed to help him!

We made our way over to ACS and the dog followed me in timidly into the receiving building. I signed us in and we sat in the little waiting area. When I sat down and this sweet dog followed suit, putting his head in my lap. I started to pet him and he eventually relaxed and laid down. Once they called me into the back room, we put the dog into a large crate while I spoke to one of the staff members. She checked the dog’s teeth and confirmed that this dog couldn’t be over a year and a half in age. She was just as shocked as we were that someone had left him behind and that he had been living on the streets. She took a bunch of notes on him and his sweet temperament to include in his little information card. She also felt that he looks like he has some German Shepherd in him, so she sent a note shortly after to the German Shepherd Rescue organization. With that, I got ready to leave. I pet this pup one last time and left.

He only has until Sunday morning for someone to adopt him before he gets put down. So we may not have completely saved his life, but we gave him a chance. I’m hopeful that someone will come by this weekend and fall in love with his floppy ears and long, wagging tail and foster or adopt him. He’s a gem, and deserves to be given a second chance. So SA friends, if you’re interested in helping him in some way, please go visit ACS (his reference number is A220578). And thanks to ACS for taking him in and trying to help him find a new life.

Standing outside our neighbor’s house

Enjoying some dog food

Walking towards me after getting some food

In my car on the way to ACS

Holly and Lufe get married!

I’ve known Holly since her freshman year at Trinity. I was a senior and co-leading a first year girls Bible study for RUF with Bekah and Nell. We were blessed to be leading a phenomenal group of young women and I have loved seeing them grow over the last four years (still in a little bit of denial that almost all of them have graduated! Where did the time go?!). These ladies have created some of the sincerest friendships and are hands-down incredible.

Flash back to the girls’ freshman year!

Because these girls are so cool, just about all of them studied abroad for parts of their junior year at Trinity. From the Dominican Republic to France to Australia, these girls were off exploring the world. Holly and Jessie chose to do the Chile program I did years ago and it’s safe to say it ended up being a life changing trip. While she was in Chile (for a full year!), Holly met this guy named Lufe. They started dating and once Holly came back to Texas, it wasn’t long after that Lufe followed and they soon got engaged. This past Sunday, they got married on a beautiful, sunny evening in Rockport. It was so special to see them celebrate this special moment and I loved seeing how they brought their two cultures together (loved the Chilean flag for the groom’s cake and the alfajores for a sweet treat!). Holly and Lufe, we wish you two all the best and are so excited for you guys! Thanks so much for letting us be a part of your big day!

Going to the chapel…

Inside the church

The beautiful bride!

Getting married!

Mr. and Mrs. Torres :)

Holly’s brother walking Stephanie and Katy out of the church

Delicious alfajores!

Six Flags Fiesta Texas

After a busy start to June, Chip and I got to spend part of last weekend with some of his family that we hadn’t seen since Christmas. Saturday morning, Chip’s mom drove in with her husband Don, their granddaughter Julianne and Chip’s brother Dale. They still live in Corpus Christi (where Chip is originally from), which is about a two hour drive from San Antonio. Sue and Don hadn’t seen our house since we bought it last spring, so we were happy to show them the place we call home. They got in town early in the morning and we got the day started by having breakfast at the new location for Magnolia Pancake Haus, which is closer to our home and also on the way to Six Flags Fiesta Texas which is where we were going to spend most of the day.

Day at Six Flags Fiesta Texas

We got to Fiesta Texas shortly after they opened and were surprised at how crowded it already was. It seemed like the rest of San Antonio had the same idea we did! We spent most of the morning and early afternoon going on different rides with Dale, who definitely enjoys a good rollercoaster, while Sue and Don took Julianne to the water park and on the different kid rides. All of the lines were pretty long, but the waiting was worth it! We got to go on the new ride, SkyScreamer, and also rode the Superman (definitely one of our favorites!), Road Runner Express and the Twister. By early afternoon, the heat was getting to be a bit too much, so Chip, Dale and I left the park to go get food for dinner while Sue, Don and Julianne spent some more time in the kid-section of the park.

We had already bought most of the food needed to grill fajitas for dinner, we just needed to go pick up the meat. For those in San Antonio looking for good, tasty fajita meat, look no further than Bolner’s Meat Market. Hands down some of the best fajitas we’ve ever had. Their meat is pre-seasoned and super easy to grill. Needless to say dinner was delicious and went perfectly with another one of our homemade gelatos and homemade chocolate chip cookies that Sue and Julianne made! The day was busy, but we had a great time with Chip’s family. We’re grateful they made the drive over to see us!