Monthly Archives: October 2012

Redeemer Fall Festival

This past Sunday, Redeemer had their annual Fall Festival. This is one of their signature events of the year and it was a little extra special for Chip and I. We started attending Redeemer last year and the Fall Festival was our very first event that we did with the church. Whereas last year I was a little intimidated not knowing anyone (and a bit surprised at the number of kids running around!), this year we had fun talking with different families and playing some football with the junior and senior high youth groups. I am so thankful for the community at Redeemer and how it has shaped our last year. We had never been part of a church that was so active and while it took us a bit to get used to at first, it’s now one of the things we love most about Redeemer.

We are so thankful for the relationships we are developing and families we are slowly getting to know within Redeemer’s community. If you’re looking for a church in San Antonio, come check them out!

Eating some Rudy’s Barbecue for dinner

Brian in his awesome rubik’s cube costume

Redeemer Fall Festival

Ready to play some football

Beautiful evening for the Redeemer Fall Festival

The Last Lecture

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m trying to make more time for reading. Luckily for all of you, I didn’t start this last month. Had I started then, you all would be seeing a rather lengthy post on the Harry Potter series, which I finished re-reading in its entirety once it became available on the Kindle. Don’t worry though, fellow HP fans. The likelihood that I re-read those another time is pretty high which would definitely result in at least a couple of posts on different themes.

This post is about The Last Lecture. I bought this book for my mom a while ago; she likes stories that you can learn a lesson from or that inspire in some way, so this was something I thought was right up her alley. She really enjoyed the book and recommended it, so I decided to borrow it from her while we were home in Tucson earlier this month.

This book isn’t complicated. What I thought made it special was the simplicity in its message. This book was written by Randy Pausch. He was a healthy man in his 40s, married to a wonderful woman and father to three kids when he found out he had pancreatic cancer and roughly three to six months to live. Sounds like a downer, right? That’s where this book surprised me. I had expected it to be deep and a tear-jerker, but I was taken aback at how optimistic this man was despite his condition. Yes, I did cry a few times while reading, but I was struck more by his commitment to leave something for his family, especially for his kids, to remember him by. As he puts it in one chapter, he had a Tigger mentality (as opposed to Eeyore) and was dedicated to living life that way.

As I read his book during my work trip to California last week, I couldn’t help but think about an interview Ann Curry did with Hoda Kotb, a breast cancer survivor. Towards the end of the interview, Ann Curry said that talking with cancer survivors were her favorite types of interviews. Why? Because, as she put it, they know how to live life. They have clarity. This definitely applied to Randy Pausch and is what I’m taking from this book. While his life ended painfully early, he was grateful for the time he had to thank all the people who had made an impact on him and to leave loving videos and notes to his children. Most people don’t know when there time on earth will end and they will be called to live with our Father in Heaven. As cheesy as it sounds, I was reminded by this book how important it is to live each moment fully, to always strive for more from yourself and to love those around you. I sure hope I can better embrace each day I’m given with joy the same way Randy spent his last few months.

If you’ve read the book, I encourage you to watch his actual lecture online here.

Time to read

I’ve always been a bookworm. Growing up, I was that (sometimes weird) kid that would read at any given time. This included at the dinner table, in the car as we drove the eight hours to California to visit family, at restaurants while we would wait to be seated, in the backyard… you get the picture. I looked forward to the local library’s Summer Reading Program every year and wouldn’t log in all of my hours so it would take me longer, maybe even a week, to finish the reading challenge. I secretly enjoyed a lot of my school reading assignments and have discovered a few favorite books that way. More often than not, my parents would have to tell me to put a book down and eat my food when I was little (although I was a great multi-tasker at this. If I got too distracted while reading, I could eat an entire sleeve of Chips Ahoy cookies).

Anyway, for having been a kid that couldn’t read enough, I don’t get as much time now to read for fun. I let myself get too busy with work, house projects and everything else that I could possibly use as an excuse. Now whenever I read a book again, I keep realizing how much I’ve missed this hobby. I can easily get lost in a story and find that to be so relaxing. Well, except for the time when I read the entire Hunger Games series on our honeymoon… we would be laying out on the cruise ship and after reading for several hours and then getting up to grab some lunch, my heart rate would be up and I would have to remind myself that we were on a ship in the Mediterranean with retired people and not in a deadly arena.

Since I’m trying to make more time for reading again, I thought it would be fun to write about these books as I finish them. Don’t worry, these won’t be in-depth school reports, just little summaries and some of my thoughts. I’m sure it will give all of you a break from my semi-successful house projects and dog posts :)

Keep an eye out for my first reading-related entry on the book I just finished: The Last Lecture. And if you have any reading suggestions, please let me know!

An ottoman project, office update

Late last winter, Chip and I started searching for a storage ottoman for the office in our house. Along with my old desk, we also have a leather reading chair Chip bought years ago at a garage sale. This chair has stayed in great shape over the years and we thought it would be great to have an ottoman to accompany this chair for an optimal reading environment. However, while we were shopping around for one, we realized that ottomans aren’t cheap. As in the average price of what we were seeing was at least $60, which we weren’t willing to shell out.

So while walking around Hobby Lobby one evening for who knows what other project we were doing, Chip found a storage ottoman at a great price ($25 to be exact). I had initially walked by this ottoman for a good reason… it was covered in camo print. While this would have been great for a boy’s room, I didn’t see it matching our house. But Chip was inspired; we could just buy some fabric and I could reupholster it. I know this sounds like a simple idea, but I have never really worked much with fabric (except for my Pinterest jewelry board, I had never even used  staple gun before). But Chip was hopeful. If I was really nervous about messing this up, I could just give my friend Haley a call (she’s a project pro). So we decided to buy the ottoman and several months later, I found some fabric at the Crate & Barrel outlet store in San Marcos (agreeing on a piece of fabric was much more difficult than we had anticipated).

We bought the ottoman last winter… I purchased this fabric this past May… and didn’t get to this project until a few weeks ago… just a small delay. I would say intimidation was a factor. My inner perfectionist was going through a serious fear of cutting the fabric incorrectly and then not having enough, or ruining this little ottoman or just doing a sloppy job. You’d think this was a bigger project than it really was!

My original plan was to remove the camo fabric and then recover with the new fabric. Well, the staples that were used for the camo fabric were pretty intense and really small. I even tried using a staple-remover tool from Haley and we couldn’t get anything out (she tried, too, and when she couldn’t get it, I decided it was time for Plan B). So the new plan was to just staple the new fabric down over the old camo print. Luckily the Crate & Barrel fabric was nice and thick so it covered everything just fine.

Taking the ottoman apart

After taking the ottoman apart, I was finally bold and cut the fabric (luckily I measured everything fine and had enough fabric for the whole thing… phew!). The top of the ottoman was pretty easy to cover, so I moved on to the second piece. This was a little trickier for me, but luckily Chip offered his help. Together (amongst laughing and the occasional staple gun threat) we were able to get this bottom part all nice and covered. Sure, the seam down the side could have been neater or done better, but for my first time covering anything, I’m pretty pleased.

Recovered top

Working on the rest of the ottoman


We’ve done some other small projects to this room. Chip had been dropping pretty big hints that he wanted our desk cleared up a bit (I’m really good at keeping clutter on a desk). Along with cleaning some of this stuff up, we also talked about our printer. It’s pretty big, takes up space, doesn’t look good and doesn’t get used that often. We decided that a small table would be great to put between the desk and the wall to hold the printer and that way the desk would be more clean. We did some searching around at Target and Craigslist but didn’t have much luck….

All for Mr. Wrigley

Until we went to Home Goods one evening. We love Home Goods and we’ll sometimes go there on date nights after dinner and just walk around. We found a small black shelf with whicker baskets that had dog themes. We had also been wanting to get Wrigley’s crate out of the office, but I had been using it as a make-shift table for a lot of his things (his flea prevention medicine, his Christmas sweater, etc.). We also wanted to get his leash and other items out of the laundry room, so this seemed like a great way to get all his stuff in one place. It fit perfectly in the office and now holds our printer, too.

We’re still trying to figure out what to do with the crate. Wrigley now sleeps in our room, so he doesn’t use it every day, but we have used it whenever we have a foster dog. So we just need to find a place to keep it when it’s just the three of us and then bring it back out whenever we have a foster. The easy solution would be to put it in a closet, but our little old home is lacking in that regard.

We’re happy with these small changes we’ve been making to the office, but we still have some other stuff in mind. We’d love to get a smaller and wider bookshelf in here to replace the super tall one we got on Craigslist last year. It’s been fine with this current bookshelf, we just feel it’s too big and interrupts the flow of the space of the room. We’re also hoping to get a tall lamp behind our reading chair and eventually get rid of those plastic blinds and replace with some nicer faux-wood ones. In the meantime, we’ve been enjoying spending more time in the office, reading and checking out the neighborhood with Sheriff Wrigley.

Cluttered desk, hidden camo ottoman and fabric resting on the printer. Lovely.

Office decor doesn’t get any nicer than a crate, right?

Ah, that’s better.

Still working on this side

One of the first pictures we took together

One of Sheriff Wrigley’s favorite lookout spots

Arizona trip, part 2!

Sunday may have been my favorite day during our trip to Arizona. After having breakfast at home, we all went to St. Pius for the children’s mass (the amount of kids running around reminded us of Redeemer! :)). After church, we made our way back home and got to work on the rest of the day. We would be having a barbecue in the afternoon with some of my parents good friends, the Morgans, and then heading over to the Gaslight Theater for their latest show in the evening.

In anticipation of our visit, my mom had pulled some new recipes from Pinterest for us all to try out. They were a hit! I’ll definitely be making them over here in Texas. We made a zucchini dish (I don’t know what to call them other than little boats) and some stuffed red bell peppers. Overall, the recipes were pretty easy (although using the melon scooper on the zucchini was a little messier than Teresa and I had anticipated), but they probably would have taken a lot longer without a three-person team working together! Teresa and I also made a couple of pitchers of classic Spanish Sangria. Needless to say, the table was very full by the time we sat down to eat with the Morgans!

Slicing the zucchini

Filling the little zucchini boats

Taking a quick break from cooking!

Watching some playoff baseball before grilling the meat

After a relaxing dinner and some yummy dessert the Morgans brought over, we all drove over to the Gaslight Theater. For those that have never been, the Gaslight is a real treat. It’s not your typical theater. It’s located right behind a small diner, so popcorn, sundaes and other goodies are served while the play goes on. Also, this theater encourages a lot of audience participation so you can always count on hearing people boo whenever the bad guy is on stage, cheer with the good guys and laugh whenever someone messes up a line (the cast doesn’t take themselves too seriously and is always looking to entertain and make the audience laugh). We try to catch a Gaslight play whenever we’re in town and we are never disappointed with the performance. This time, the show was Phantom of the Opera. It was probably the funniest rendition of this musical that you could imagine. While the overall plot line was the same(ish), the music was very different. Instead of hearing “Angel of Music” or “The Music of the Night,” the cast sang songs like “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and Justin Bieber’s “Baby.” It was awesome. Definitely one of the shows that made me laugh the most! Just as good as the show was the entertaining Tribute to Vegas Olio at the end, complete with the Jersey Boys, Sonny and Cher and, of course, Elvis. I’m already looking forward to going home again for Christmas and seeing the Gaslight holiday show! (mom, buy tickets now, please :))

Phantom of the Opera!

The Gaslight Stage

With my parents

Ready for the show!

Group photo

Wrigley checking out the chorizo plate

We made another trip over to Le Buzz on Monday and had yet another delicious meal. I had the chorizo plate this time around (Chip highly recommended it after our first visit there last weekend) and even Wrigley got to enjoy some of it.

Penny resting under the table at breakfast

We took it easy the rest of Monday and spent lots of time relaxing together. Alex showed Teresa different parts of Tucson and brought us all back some Eegee’s for lunch in the afternoon. My grandpa also came over for a bit to play the guys in some dominoes. it was pretty entertaining to hear them at it and trying to figure out each other’s strategy. I can’t remember which team won, the level of trash talk stayed the same the whole way through :)

Playing dominoes

Tuesday was our last full day in Tucson. Since Chip and I had packed his golf clubs in our car, my dad wanted to make sure we put them to good use so the guys went golfing once more. While they played, I went with my mom and Teresa to a pottery paint place at Park Place Mall for some girl craft time. It was a lot of fun! Teresa painted a really cute sunflower bowl, my mom did a little jar for family summer vacation ideas and I did a small plate with a letter N on it. We can’t wait to see how these turn out once they get glazed!

Lots of paint to choose from

Teresa and my mom hard at work

Teresa painting her sunflower

We got the table a little messy

My painted plate!

We had another great dinner at home Tuesday night – I’m so grateful for all the family meals we were able to have together. After dinner, Teresa and I were both craving a little something for dessert… so we did some searching on Pinterest and found an awesome recipe for some homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Yes, they were as delicious as they sound! Teresa had the good idea to double the recipe, so we had plenty of cookies for everyone. I had a lot of fun getting to spend time with my family, but I also had a lot of fun in moments like this getting to know Teresa a little better :)

A perfect combination

Chip and I did our packing Tuesday night and got the car ready for our drive back to San Antonio. My dad likes listening to audiobooks, so he gave us Blink to borrow for the drive back. We listened to it most of the way and actually finished it right as we were getting into San Antonio. Perfect timing!

We had a great time in Tucson and really wish we could visit more often. We’re definitely looking forward to heading back for the holidays! Thanks to my family and Teresa for a great trip! Wrigley says thanks to Penny, too :)


Sunrise in Arizona, Sunset in Texas


Arizona trip, part 1!

Chip and I just got back from a great trip to visit my family in Tucson, Arizona. We hadn’t been there since last Thanksgiving, so we were definitely looking forward to our time there. My brother and his girlfriend would be in town for their college Fall Break, so I thought this would be a great chance for us all to be together. Instead of flying out to Tucson, we decided to drive out there. We had just enough vacation days to do so and we thought it would be a great way to save some money (wouldn’t have those crazy costs of flights and we wouldn’t have to pay to board Wrigley since he would be coming with us). It’s around 850 miles to Tucson, so we wanted to make sure my car would get us there smoothly and safely. We got the tires balanced and aligned, got the oil changed and Chip spent some time cleaning the headlights so we would get as much light as possible while driving in the dark. We then got the car packed up Wednesday evening with our suitcases, Chip’s golf clubs and Wrigley’s old crate (got to keep him safe in the car!).

Ready for the drive!

We got on the road early last Thursday and had a really smooth ride to Tucson. Well, it didn’t start out too smooth… we had been planning to listen to an audio book during the drive to help pass the time since we were expecting the drive to be a good 12 hours. Well, after a few days of looking up different books online, we had finally chosen one, which wasn’t an easy feat since Chip and I have very different taste in books. Well, I didn’t have time to order and download online before hand (okay, I’ll be honest, I didn’t make time to do that), but I figured we could download the book directly on one of our iPhones. Turns out I was wrong. You need either wifi connection (we couldn’t connect to a wireless network since we were driving up I10) or to download through iTunes (and then we found out the book took up the majority of the available space on our phones). Road trip fail. Oops.

Luckily we did fine without the audio book. We listened to some sports podcasts (so fun…) and took turns playing our different Pandora stations on our phones (yay, smartphones!). Chip drove like a champ and did all 12 hours and Wrigley was a very patient passenger. All in all, the drive to Tucson was a breeze!

Wrigley checking out I10

Little bit of rain the first part of the drive

Wrigley relaxing in his crate

Driving through West Texas

Entering New Mexico!

I sure do miss the desert.

Hello, Arizona!

Love my Wrigs

We got in around dinner time, and spent the evening with my parents catching up over some Cuban food my grandparents had dropped off for us. So good to have some platanitos again!

When we woke up on Friday, we went for a walk with the dogs to a restaurant my parents love going to: Le Buzz. It’s about a mile and a half away from the house, so it was a great walk to get the dogs a little tired. Wrigley loved LeBuzz and had no shame begging for food and occasionally making a desperate jump for the table (a gentleman sitting next to us got a kick out of it).

Walking to Le Buzz

Breakfast time!

We had another key meal later on Friday…. Eegee’s for lunch. Of all the restaurants in Tucson, Eegee’s is definitely one I miss most. It isn’t super fancy, it’s just sub sandwiches but they’re sooo good. And the fries… delicious. And you can’t go to Eegee’s without getting one of their classic Eegee drinks (my personal favorite is a strawberry-lemon combo). Since we had a rather large breakfast at LeBuzz, we went by Eegee’s later in the afternoon and ate over at my grandparents’ house. We spent a few hours over at their house and went back to my parents’ in the evening to get ready for my brother, Alex, and his girlfriend, Teresa, since they would be flying in that night.

First Eegee’s of the trip

We got to the airport around 10:30 Friday night and were so excited to see Alex and Teresa. My parents and even Chip had already met Teresa (Chip met her during his trip to Omaha for a CFA Bootcamp), so I was looking forward to meeting her. Their flight got in on time and we made our way home where we spent some time catching up before going to bed – Alex and Teresa were pretty tired after their long afternoon of flying!

Saturday was a busy, full day. The boys went golfing while us girls went shopping (I do love these types of days!). I had a great time with my mom and Teresa shopping around La Encantada. We found some great stuff at Francesca’s and Anthropologie and had a fun lunch over at AJ’s. There was also an adoption event going on at La Encantada, so of course I had to stop to pet a bunch of the dogs along the way. Once we were done shopping and the guys finished golfing, we all got ready for dinner. We went with my grandparents to a great Italian restaurant – Gavi’s. It was delicious. I had some awesome lobster ravioli… and just about cleaned my plate. Pair that with a glass of wine and the marble cheesecake I had for dessert and I was more than ready for bed when we got home :)

The guys take a break from golfing

More to come on the rest of our trip!