Monthly Archives: February 2013

More on Fredericksburg

While I already wrote about our day in Fredericksburg while my parents were in town a couple of weekends ago, I have to direct you all to my good friend Haley’s post on our time there for a few reasons:

1. I’m a big fan of her blog. You should check out all of her awesome DIY projects, in particular. I hope to have half of her skills some day!

2. She got some beauuuutiful pictures at the different wineries.

3. She also found a gem of a picture of Chip and I from their wedding five years ago…. we look like babies and my dress is a wonderful obnoxious shade of pink. Yikes.

Click here to read her post and enjoy the additional pictures!

Les Miserables

For the first time in who knows how many years, I was able to watch the Oscars in its entirety yesterday, including most of the red carpet footage before the awards show to see all of the dresses the celebrities were wearing. One of my favorite moments from the evening? Why, that would be the performance by the cast of Les Miserables, of course. Les Mis was probably one of our favorite movies of the year and we have spent many evenings cooking in the kitchen and singing along to the soundtrack without any shame. Last night they sang One Day More, one of the best songs in the musical. Not going to lie, I very easily get carried away in the different storylines, interwoven lyrics and flat-out belting at the end in this song. Almost makes me want to start a revolution. So if you missed last night’s show, treat yourself and watch this clip. If you already saw it, well why not watch it again?

Sunday with my parents

Sunday was my parents’ last full day in San Antonio. They came by our house in the morning and then the four of us drove to Edison High School where our church Redeemer Presbyterian currently meets. My parents have been to Redeemer only once before, so it was great having them come with us and getting to introduce them to our different church friends, especially the women I’ve been getting to know in my great Bible study. After church, we went and had lunch at the Corner Bakery and then came home to split up for part of the afternoon. We left the guys to do some home improvement projects while my mom and I went to get some plants for the front porch and ingredients for a homecooked dinner.

As I’ve mentioned before, Chip and I don’t have a whole lot of home-project experience, but thankfully we are surrounded by people who know a lot more than we do. My dad has taught us a few things, like how to properly sand down our doors so they close better, so we were a bit eager when he said he would show us (i.e., Chip) how to fix some of the cracks we were getting in our living room wall since we clearly had no idea how to address this. My dad bought some basic essentials for this project at Lowe’s earlier in the morning, so they had what they needed to get started. Turns out the crack they decided to go after first was a little more complicated than originally anticipated, so a second trip to Lowe’s was required. More on that later.

While the men were working at home, my mom and I also went to Lowe’s to get some plants for the cute pots we had bought at Home Goods on Friday. Unfortunately, Lowe’s didn’t have a whole lot of flowers in yet, so we decided to check out Arbolitos. One thing I appreciate a lot about Arbolitos is that they focus on plants that are going to do well in San Antonio. I love going to Lowe’s, but there’s really no reason why they should be selling hydrangeas here. They just aren’t met for the San Antonio summers (and yet for some reason I’ve still tried them out twice and failed). We talked to one of the employees at Arbolitos and he helped us pick out several different flowers that were low-maintenance (as in I shouldn’t be able to kill them) and do well in pots. Perfect. We loaded up the car with these plants and some potting soil and then went to our next stop: Trader Joe’s.

My parents do a lot of their grocery shopping at the Trader Joe’s back home, so I was pretty excited that we finally got one in San Antonio this past year. Random side note: Chip is the biggest fan of Trader Joe’s. It’s sometimes dangerous to take him there because he will take forever walking around the store and will always find random items to add to our cart and consequently our grocery bill. Thankfully, my mom and I were going by ourselves and with a list for dinner and did a pretty good job sticking to it. We had chosen a pasta dish from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof cookbook followed by a dessert from Pippa’ Middelton’s Celebrate book (we had plans to watch the season finale of Downton Abbey that night, so we felt it was only appropriate to accompany it with a British dessert).

Apparently our wall is pink underneath. Gross.

Apparently our wall is pink underneath. Gross.

We came back home to find the guys hard at work and in the process of cutting several holes in the wall to help fix the crack. Definitely wasn’t expecting that. I don’t know all the details, mainly because I felt it would be better to just walk away and work on the flowers with my mom, but apparently some parts of the wall needed a little extra reinforcement so the guys would be putting small pieces of 1×2’s into the newly cut holes and then putting tons and tons of nails to secure everything. Re-reading that last sentence doesn’t make much sense to me, but it all worked and there is no longer no evidence of the crack (except for the fact that the strip now needs to be painted the same color as the rest of the wall) so I’m going to assume the process was successful. And Chip definitely learned well since he has since then been working on the three other cracks in our living room. Thanks for the lessons, dad!

Dad passing on some of his wisdom

Dad passing on some of his wisdom

No idea what step this is

No idea what step this is

My mom and I enjoyed working on the pots and placing them on our front patio. We chose three different kinds of plants in different heights and color. We also got some geraniums to put in the hanging baskets we have in the front, so hopefully these plants will actually survive. I’ve managed to (accidentally) kill the last two plants we’ve tried in these baskets, but hey, third time’s the charm, right? Let’s hope so!

Making the front patio pretty

Making the front patio pretty

Close up on the flowers

Close up on the flowers

After working on these different plants, we started cooking. First, we wanted to get our dessert in the oven and ready. We chose to do an apple and blackberry crumble from dear Pippa’s book (recipe posted below). The recipe itself is pretty simple, but be prepared for a bit of prep work, mainly peeling, coring and dicing over 1.5 pounds of apples. Once dessert was in the oven, we started working on dinner, a pasta from Ina Garten (recipe also posted below). Coincidentally, the boys were ready to wrap up their work on the first crack just as dinner was finished cooking. I have a feeling they stopped working as soon as they could smell it cooking! Anyway, dinner was awesome. If you’re looking for a new pasta to try out, definitely give this one a shot. Partnered with some fresh Parmesan cheese, warm bread and a bottle of Grape Creek wine, we had a great dinner.

Dinner time

Dinner time

We later watched the season 3 finale of Downton Abbey while enjoying our apple and blackberry bake with a little bit of vanilla ice cream. One thing on the cobbler: I think next time I’m going to try it out with gala apples instead of granny smith to make the dish a little less tart. But otherwise, it was really great.

Thanks, Pippa

Thanks, Pippa

Once we got through the shocker of the Downton Abbey episode, we said goodbye to my parents since they would be flying out early Monday morning. We kept busy all weekend, but when we see my parents only a handful of times a year, we always have lots that we want to do together. I am so thankful for the time we got to spend with them and look forward to seeing them again sometime (hopefully) soon!

Wrigley enjoying attention from my mom

Wrigley enjoying attention from my mom

Wrigley makes a great pillow

Wrigley makes a great pillow

Ina Garten’s “Straw and hay with Gorgonzola”

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, cut crosswise in 1/2-inch-thick matchsticks
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 large)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 ounces Italian Gorgonzola dolce, crumbled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 to 10 ounces tagliatelle or fettucine
  • 2 cups forzen peas, defrosted (8 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Paremsan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 cup julienned fresh basil leaves

Directions:

  • Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt, and bring to a boil.
  • Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the prosciutto and cook for 5 minutes, separating the slices with tongs, until crisp. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Prosciutto, anyone?

Prosciutto, anyone?

  • Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the onion to the saute pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the cream, Gorgonzola, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper and bring the sauces to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until thickened. Turn off the heat.
  • When the sauce is almost done, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta, allowing some of the water to remain (note: we chose not to do this part but just drained the pasta normally). Pour the pasta into the pan with the sauce. Add the peas, Parmesan, basil and prosciutto and toss well. If the pasta seems dry (our didn’t), add some of the reserved pasta water. Taste for seasonings and serve hot with extra Parmesan.

 

Pippa Middleton’s Apple and Blackberry Crumble:

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 pounds of peeled, cored and roughly chopped Granny Smith apples
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar (we used regular sugar)
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 8 ounces blackberries
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease a 2-quart ovenproof dish or 8 individual ramekins.
  • Melt 1 stick of unsalted butter in a large nonstick pan. Add roughly chopped Granny Smith apples with superfine sugar, apple juice and lemon zest and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the apples are softened.

  • Add blackberries and toss together, adding more sugar if necessary, then transfer the mixture to the prepared dish.

  • Sift flour into a large bowl and add 5 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter cut into cubes. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Stir in light brough sugar, oats, almonds and cinnamon.
  • Spoon the topping over the filling, sprinkle a little more light brown sugar over the top and bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

A day in Fredericksburg

Chip and I have been wanting to go to Fredericksburg with my parents for a while now. They went to Seattle for their 25th anniversary a couple of summers ago and enjoyed touring some of the vineyards there, so we thought it would be a lot of fun to visit some of our favorite wineries from our anniversary trip to Fredericksburg this past May together. Once my parents booked their flights to come visit us this past weekend, we quickly decided Saturday would be our wine-tasting day.

Before heading out to Fredericksburg, we went to the Guenther House for breakfast. Chip and I hadn’t been there before but had heard great things about their food, particularly their waffles. Our breakfast definitely didn’t disappoint! We had more than enough food to go around. Their sweet cream waffles are a must, and be forewarned, they have the biggest biscuits known to man. With a solid meal in our bellies, we got on I10 for the drive to Fredericksburg where we would be meeting our very good friends Matt and Haley. We were so excited that we would get to spend the day with them at the different vineyards, especially since they were celebrating their 5th anniversary, so there was definitely good reason to toast to a glass of wine (or two) and celebrate.

Breakfast at the Guenther House

Breakfast at the Guenther House

My parents at the Guenther House

My parents at the Guenther House

Since we would be getting into Fredericksburg around 11:00, we decided to spend a little bit of time checking out a few of the cute stores on Main Street before grabbing a quick lunch and heading out to the vineyards (11:00 just seemed a little too early to start having wine). If you’re looking for some places to shop in Fredericksburg, look no further than RedinFred. They have some of the cutest and unique items for your home (although they can be a little pricey).

RedinFred

RedinFred

So true.

So true.

After checking out a couple of stores and having lunch, we were ready to head out to the vineyards! Our plan was:

  • Start out at Becker Vineyards – it’s the biggest vineyard in Fredericksburg and Chip and I enjoy buying their wine at HEB, they’re pretty much the only local vineyard that can be bought in store.
  • Head over to Grape Creek – we love how this vineyard goes for the Italian feel!
  • Four Point – one of the newer vineyards in the area, we really enjoyed this place last May
  • Pedernales – we thought this would be a great one to end the day

Becker was packed. It took us a little bit of time to buy the six coupons for our tasting, and even longer to finally shimmy our way up to the counter, but we eventually made it. Our tasting took a while since there were so many other people there, but we still enjoyed our time at Becker. We finished our visit with some of their free chocolate samples and music from a cute little folk band.

Big crowd at Becker

Big crowd at Becker

Super cute band

Super cute band

Dad and Haley in line for chocolate

Dad and Haley in line for chocolate

It was a beautiful day on Saturday, so there were people outside each vineyard enjoying wine and snacks

It was a beautiful day on Saturday, so there were people outside each vineyard enjoying wine and snacks

After Becker, we drove the short distance to Grape Creek. Hands down, Grape Creek is now my favorite vineyard. I’m a big fan of their ambiance and Italian-esque style, definitely reminds me of our honeymoon! We found out when we got to Grape Creek that they were offering private tours which included sampling three wines straight from different barrels. That was pretty much all the convincing we needed! We had a great tour led by Maureen and enjoyed the sampling from the American and French oak barrels (my dad was particularly eager and was consistently one of the first to extend his win glass for his sample). Turns out I like the flavors provided by the French oak barrels the best. I feel so refined. The tour ended with a private tasting of six of their different wines, all of which were great. By the end of it, we had bought a couple of bottles and my parents had signed up for the wine of the month club. If you are going to one vineyard in Fredericksburg, make sure it’s Grape Creek!

Happy anniversary!

Happy anniversary!

Mom and dad at the start of the tour

Mom and dad at the start of the tour

Grape Creek Vineyards

Grape Creek Vineyards

Ready for our tour at Grape Creek

Enjoying the tour

Tour at Grape Creek

Tour at Grape Creek

Don't we look like wine pros?

Don’t we look like wine pros?

So thankful for family and friends

So thankful for family and friends

Maureen serving us wine from the barrels

Maureen serving wine from the barrels

Tasting room

Tasting room

Chip and my dad chose the same wines for their tasting and even marked them with the same x's. I married my father.

Chip and my dad chose the same wines for their tasting and even marked them with the same x’s. I married my father.

By the time we drove over to Four Point, it was approaching 6:00, which is when the vineyards close on Saturdays. We had a faster tasting there and called it a day afterward. A very successful day, mind you. As for Pedernales, we’ll just have to save that for next time.

We left Fredericksburg and went to one of our favorite spots for dinner: Fralo’s. There was a bit of a wait to sit inside the tented area (it got pretty cold that night), but we eventually got to enjoy some warm pizza accompanied by one of our new wines from the day.

Ending the day at Fralo's

Ending the day at Fralo’s

I feel the same way about that pizza, Haley

I feel the same way about that pizza, Haley

All in all, we had a wonderful time in Fredericksburg! We are so thankful we got to spend that time with my parents and the Behams. We had a full day at home on Sunday, more to come there!

February visit

We just wrapped up a great weekend with my parents and my heart is so very full. I am so grateful that we’re getting to see them more outside of just regular holiday trips! These more frequent visits definitely make the 800-plus miles between us a bit more manageable. My parents flew in this past Thursday afternoon so we met them after work for a Valentine’s double date. After brainstorming some of our favorite restaurants for dinner throughout the last week, we decided we would go to Paloma Blanca; while my mom had been there once before with us during a wedding planning trip a couple years ago, my dad hadn’t experienced their tasty food yet. Fun story about Paloma Blanca: Chip and I actually had our very first date on Valentine’s Day 2007 and he had intended for us to go to Paloma Blanca together. He went to the restaurant the week before to talk to the seating hostess and see if he should make reservations for the two of us. She told him not to worry, we shouldn’t have a problem at all getting a table that night. Fast forward a few days later to our first date. We walk into the restaurant and it really couldn’t be any more full. We squeeze our way towards the seating hostess and ask for a table for two… she tells us the wait is three hours. Needless to say we didn’t get to eat dinner there that night, but instead eventually made our way over to a great dinner at Paesano’s. With this story in the back of our minds, we made it a point to not only make reservations for this past Thursday, but to also call and confirm, just in case. Thankfully there were no snags in the evening and we enjoyed a great dinner together.

Friday morning, my parents came over to the house for breakfast before we split up for the day. The guys would be going golfing while my mom and I would get some shopping done. If you’re seeing a pattern in our time spent with my family, it usually involves golfing and shopping at some point! My dad and Chip were joined by our friends Matt and Curtis and had a great time at La Cantera’s Palmer Course.

The Palmer Course

Great day for golfing!

Dad enjoying the golf course

Dad enjoying the golf course

While the boys were away, my mom and I were significantly productive with our time. We started out at Home Goods (where we got some awesome garden pots on sale!), browsed Kirklands, enjoyed a President’s Day sale at World Market, and then made our way over to La Cantera. We were enjoying some easy and relaxing shopping at Anthropologie, Williams-Sonoma and Nordstrom, but the day was made during our time at J.Crew. When we first started shopping on Friday, I was hoping to find a dress for our friends Riley and Becca’s wedding this coming May, but we weren’t having much luck. So we went into J.Crew with few expectations, but that’s when we met Tucker, one of the store’s stylists. Let me tell you, Tucker knows J.Crew’s inventory perfectly. He put together such great outfits and any little suggestion he made polished everything up. Thanks to his help, we not only found a dress for our friends’ wedding, but also for my brother’s college graduation, my cousin’s daughter’s baptism and any other events that come up for us in the next few months! I feel like our experience at J.Crew with Tucker is what people on What Not to Wear feel when they shop with Stacy and Clinton. I loved it.

We all decided to have some fish tacos at home for dinner, so after leaving La Cantera in the best of spirits, my mom and I stopped by HEB to get all the necessary ingredients. I’m a big fan of a mango salsa we’ve made a couple of times now, so check out the recipe at the bottom of this post if you’re interested. After dinner, my parents hung out with us for a bit while we played Spades (thanks, Matt, for teaching us how to play!). Like any other game we play with my family, my dad tried pushing the different rules to the limits and kept us all laughing (and shaking our heads) throughout the game.

Fish taco time

Fish taco time

Saturday was a very full day in Fredericksburg, so stay tuned for more on our day there!

Mango Salsa Recipe: (modified from Simply Recipes)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 3 tbsp diced red cabbage
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Walking with Wrigley

One thing that amazes me about Wrigley is how he can always tell when he’s getting to go on a walk. Always. I know he’s a smart dog and he’s definitely a creature of habit, so it’s not completely surprising that he’s realized he’s more likely to go on a walk on Saturday mornings when I don’t do my normal shower-and-get-ready routine. But lately, our walks have been happening a little less often so I have no idea how he figured it out this evening.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous today so I knew I needed to take the pup out for a jog when I got home. I had just put away my purse and computer when Wrigley started spazzing out more than he usually does when we get home from work. He somehow already had a suspicion. That or he’s becoming a mind reader. By the time I grabbed my tennis shoes, Wrigley had run down the hall to the study room and stood staring at his basket that holds his leash and harness. The little stink definitely figured out our plans. So with that we went on a quick walk/jog which ended with him happily napping in the living room while I catch up on this week’s episodes of The Bachelor (I know it’s shameful, but I’m terribly addicted… so much drama!!).

A very happy Wrigley

A very happy Wrigley