Tag Archives: family

Twenty-four

Today is my brother’s 24th birthday. Not going to lie, it’s weird to think he’s that old (no offense, bro). It’s to the point where I have to do the math every year. “If I’m 27, that means he’s… 24?!” It’s crazy to think that my little brother is now in his mid-twenties. He’s been in the “real world” for a year and a half now and I’m so proud of how much he’s grown in his position at work, how he’s making a life for himself in Denver, how he loves those around him, how I can see him maturing even when I’m far away in Texas. Growing up in a close-knit Hispanic family, Alex and I spent a lot of time together when we were kids and he was often my closest friend. We would play different games together while my dad was at work and my mom was napping following her nights shift at work when we were younger, throw the baseball in the backyard together, fight over the TV remote, wrestle, and just hang out together. While there were moments when he was less than charming, like when he threw my beloved NSYNC CD in the trash, I love that we have always been close and that we can talk to each other about anything. Who would have thought that I would be talking about health insurance and rent vs. mortgage payments with the same guy who used to put his racecars outside my bedroom door so I would step on them first thing in the morning (sweet, right?…). We may not see each other as often as I would like, but I am so grateful for my brother and that he’s always just a quick phone call away. Happy birthday, bud. I sure do love you.

Trying to teach Alex how to babysit my doll

Trying to teach Alex how to babysit my doll

At our Catholic elementary school

At our Catholic elementary school

After one of Alex's many baseball games

After one of Alex’s many baseball games

Visiting Alex in Denver last November

Visiting Alex in Denver last November

At Fenway during our family trip to Boston

At Fenway during our family trip to Boston

During last year's 4th of July visit to San Antonio

During last year’s 4th of July visit to San Antonio

Christmas 2013

Six days into 2014 and I’m already behind on blogging… Hopefully I’ll get those half a dozen drafts finished up here soon.

Christmas marked our annual drive to Tucson to visit my family. Since it’s a good 13 hour drive to get there, Christmas is really the best time to go since that’s when Chip gets the most days off of work. While the drive itself was fairly easy, getting ready for the trip was a little complicated… Similar to last year, we would be doing a portion of the drive on Friday once Chip got off work and then getting into Tucson on Saturday. The plan had been that I would spend Thursday figuring out which luggage would best fit in my car’s trunk with Chip’s golf clubs and all the Christmas gifts and get started on packing. Well… due to some unforeseen elements, my car was at the mechanic all day Thursday. All is well, but it did throw off my planning a bit as I spent a chunk of Thursday out dealing with my car and didn’t get home from the mechanic until about 1:30 in the afternoon, and didn’t get my car back until later that night. So that meant all packing and loading of the car had to be done on Friday. It really wasn’t that bad, but the day went by much quicker than I had expected. I took Wrigley for his walk, packed up our suitcases, loaded up the car, quickly showered, realized I wasn’t happy with how the car was loaded, took everything out of the trunk, took out some clothes from our suitcases, and re-loaded the car in a much better way. Before I knew it, Chip was home from work and we were quickly out the door. It was about 4:00 by the time the three of us got in the car and after grabbing a late lunch from Chik-Fil-A, we were on I10… where I realized about 40 miles outside of San Antonio that I had forgotten my nice camera at our house. Oops. So I have minimal pictures of this trip. The downfalls of packing in a hurry.

Wrigley helping me pack

Wrigley helping me pack

Ready to go

Ready to go

Wrigley enjoying a TV Christmas special in Van Horn

Wrigley enjoying a TV Christmas special in Van Horn

We had decided to drive to Van Horn that night and stay at the Hampton Inn there since they’re a pet friendly hotel and our best bud Wrigs would be with us. He did really well at the hotel and after finally relaxing and going to sleep, he only barked once, and that was when they slipped our room bill under the door. I guess he hoped we were getting the room for free, right? We got up early on Saturday and finished the rest of the drive to Tucson. Overall, between Friday and Saturday, we drove through some heavy rain, light snow, and sunshine. Definitely the most random weather we’ve ever had on the drive.

He's a good passenger

He’s a good passenger

We got into Tucson around lunch time on Saturday and joined my parents as well as Alex and his girlfriend Teresa at the house to catch up for a bit. We then got our family Christmas tree and decorated it after dinner, which was a minestrone soup I helped my mom make (this recipe is awesome, will definitely be posting later).

Christmas pup

Christmas pup

Chip was proud of himself for helping with the lights at the top of the tree

Chip was proud of himself for helping with the lights at the top of the tree

Some of our childhood ornaments

Some of our childhood ornaments

Nice glasses, little Jessica

Nice glasses, little Jessica

The decorated tree and Penny

The decorated tree and Penny

We took it easy Sunday and relaxed around the house a bit in the morning. Alex and Teresa had flown in really late Friday night (or technically early Saturday morning by the time they got to the house), so they were still tired and slept in Sunday while Chip and I went with my parents to Le Buzz for breakfast. It was pretty cold out that morning, so instead of walking there and eating outside with the dogs like we typically like to do, we drove and snagged a table inside (which is no easy feat, let me tell you, that place is usually pretty full!). Chip and I love Le Buzz and are always trying to find something similar to it here in San Antonio.

After breakfast, we wanted to watch some football at home, but my parents’ cable wasn’t working (there was some type of outage in the area or a Comcast conspiracy). So with no football to watch, I drove Chip over to the other side of town to show him our old house, which is where I grew up until we moved in 6th grade to the house my parents are still in. It was fun driving around the old neighborhood since I hadn’t seen it in years. By the time we got back home, the cable was just about back up and running, so we were able to watch football with some family friends that came by to catch up. My grandpa also stopped by so the men had to play dominoes as they usually do.

Wrigley and his cousin Penny taking it easy

Wrigley and his cousin Penny taking it easy

Monday morning we had breakfast at home before taking a stab at a popular holiday tradition: stockings. Now, we’ve always had stockings in our family, but they’ve just been part of our Christmas decorations. I think the only thing they’ve ever held were our Christmas lists to Santa when Alex and I were little. But this year, my mom thought it would be fun to actually “do” stockings for the first time. I have to say, I’m a fan of this tradition since it meant I got some new nail polish and super cute measuring cups from Anthropologie. We also had Teresa open up her gifts from all of us since she was flying back home to Colorado early on Tuesday morning to spend Christmas with her family.

Monday afternoon, we all went and had an early dinner at Gavi’s before driving across town for A Christmas Carol at The Great American Playhouse. To my Tucson friends, if the Gaslight Theater is too far away for you, be sure to check out this new production company in Oro Valley.

The view from Gavi's

The view from Gavi’s

At the Christmas show

At the Christmas show

Tuesday was Christmas Eve, one of my favorite days of the year. The boys were up early, with Alex taking Teresa to the airport, and then all heading out for their traditional game of golf (I think Chip really likes this tradition). While the guys were gone, my mom and I took the dogs for a nice long walk and then got to cooking. I always appreciate this time in the kitchen with my mom working on the meal together. First up were the desserts. This year we decided to do a chocolate chunk candy cane cheesecake and a chocolate-bourbon-pecan cake. Recipes will be posted soon!

Getting Christmas Eve started with a walk with the dogs

Getting Christmas Eve started with a walk with the dogs

With the cheesecake chilling and the chocolate cake garnished, we spent the afternoon cooking  dinner and getting ready before the guys got home. A few of the recipes were from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof book and are becoming holiday staples for my family.

Dad will always offer a helping hand for the ham

Dad will always offer a helping hand for the ham

Dinner time

Dinner time

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake

Cheesecake

Cheesecake

Dinner was delicious and we had a great time hearing the boys’ stories about their day golfing and reflecting on the year together. We decided to wait a little bit before diving into dessert, but a certain pup couldn’t wait… While Wrigley’s behavior had been decent during the trip, he was getting jealous of the food we were eating that day. So after telling him “no” to some leftovers while we cleaned the kitchen, he snuck back into the dining room where the chocolate cake was and helped himself to some dessert… We didn’t think he had eaten that much chocolate since the cake only had cocoa powder but between that and the bourbon, we decided it was better to be safe than sorry and get him to throw up. After some quick googling, my mom saw that just a little bit of hydrogen peroxide will make a dog throw up, so we quickly squirted some in his mouth and took him outside. It worked.

With that ordeal out of the way, we sat down for some dessert and ate the untouched side of the chocolate cake. Oh, Wrigs. Santa’s still watching you.

Bad pup

Bad pup

Slicing the non-Wrigley side of the cake

Slicing the non-Wrigley side of the cake

With my mom

With my mom

My dad loves dessert

My dad loves dessert

Nance family picture before Midnight Mass

Nance family picture before Midnight Mass

My brother, mom, and dad

My brother, mom, and dad

We played a few games after having dessert and soon it was time for Midnight Mass. We’ve been going to midnight mass pretty much my entire life and it has become one of my favorite traditions. I love singing carols together, hearing a message about Christmas, and having Communion to mark the beginning of the day. With my time off of work since mid-November, I feel like I was more able to reflect on the season of advent than I have in past years. I am thankful for this time of rest, for really reflecting on how huge it is that God came as a helpless baby to a broken people, and for being reminded that I am called to wait for Christ and His second coming.

Christmas morning, just about everyone slept in (something to do with going to bed at 1:30, I guess). It doesn’t matter how old I get, I will always naturally wake up early on Christmas. Once everyone else was up, it was time to start opening gifts and have breakfast. Wrigley and Penny stole the show playing with all of their new toys and Wrigs stealing wrapping paper from us all to shred all over the living room. We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon relaxing around the house together. Both Chip and Alex had to be back at work on the 26th, so we took them to the airport in the afternoon for their flights back to San Antonio and Denver. I was bummed they both had to leave on Christmas day, but so glad for the time we did get together around everyone’s schedules.

After taking them to the airport, I was able to spend some one-on-one time with my parents, which doesn’t happen very often. We relaxed and watched TV together before snacking on leftovers throughout the evening.

My mom and I had planned on doing half of the drive back to San Antonio on the 26th, but after realizing that our Hampton Inn in Van Horn was booked, we decided to just spend the night in El Paso, and do the majority of the drive on the 27th. This meant we had more time in Tucson the morning of the 26th, so we just had to go check out some post-Christmas sales. We spent a couple of hours over at La Encantada and got some serious deals at Anthropologie (got some suuuper cute dishes that I absolutely love). We got on the road around 2:00 with Wrigley and were in El Paso by dinner time, which was a stop at Pei Wei before going to the Holiday Inn.

Ready to drive to El Paso

Ready to drive to El Paso

Unfortunately, Wrigley didn’t do as well at this hotel as he did in Van Horn… this Holiday Inn is cabana style, so all of the units have outdoor entrances. We were also on the first floor, which meant there was a lot of foot traffic outside of our door since the hotel was pretty busy. Now Wrigley has a really strong protective instinct that I’m normally very thankful for, so as people were checking in and out and walking around at all hours of the night, he was a growling and barking machine. By about 1:00 in the morning, I was telling my mom we should just put him in the bathroom (not nice to my pup, I know, but I was so tired, and also slightly worried our neighbors would complain). My mom stayed up pretty much all night trying to keep him company so I could get some sleep since I would be doing the driving. At 5:00, we gave up on trying to get any more rest and decided to just get up and get on the road ahead of schedule. We had great weather on our drive and were back in San Antonio around 3:00. We slowly unloaded the car and by the time Chip got home from work an hour later, we were pathetically lying on the couch with minimal energy, but found a way to get up for dinner at Salata. I had a great time driving to San Antonio with my mom, it was some of the most one-on-one time we’ve had in a long time. And while we were plenty tired the second day of the drive, I would totally do it again!

The only bit Wrigley slept in El Paso was right when we checked in. Oh, pup.

The only bit Wrigley slept in El Paso was right when we checked in. Oh, pup.

Still dark out while we grabbed Starbucks Friday morning

Still dark out while we grabbed Starbucks Friday morning

Overall, this Christmas was great. I’m so grateful for all the time I was able to spend resting and reflecting during this holiday season. I’m thankful for the time spent with family and for getting to spend everyday with Chip and Wrigley. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Thankful For: Home

Or rather, I’m thankful for who I share my home with. We may always have projects that we want to do around the house and don’t even get me started on how we could always clean/vacuum/dust, but as long as I have Chip and Wrigley, I’m happy. I don’t mean to be overly mushy, but it’s the truth. Those two boys may drive me crazy sometimes, but I can’t imagine what my daily life would look like without them.

 I am so thankful that I married my best friend. That he can make me laugh easier than anyone else can. That he can help me overcome my fears and weaknesses and is my number one supporter. That he works so hard for us. That we can serve alongside each other.

You all know how much I love our pup. He can be a downright conniving pest (many of you have seen him try to steal food while we pray before a meal), but I am so grateful for the joy he brings in our life. There’s nothing better than coming home to his excited face ready to lick us and throw himself in our laps for a belly rub.

So today, I am thankful for Chip and Wrigley and how they make our house a home. Please feel free to share whatever you are thankful for, hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

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Thankful For: Travel

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m trying to take time this week to consciously consider what I am thankful for and share it with you all. I would also love to hear from you on what you’re reflecting on this week, so please share in the comments!

When I first thought about what I’m thankful for, I realized how much is equipped by travel. This thankfulness works two fold: on the one hand, it allows us to see friends and family that live outside of the great state of Texas, and on the other hand also lets us to see new places for the first time, which is something we really enjoy.

Sometimes it can be really hard not having family in town or having some of our good friends live so far away. If we weren’t able to hop on a plane or get in a car for a road trip, there is so much that we would miss out on in the lives of those we love. I’m grateful that this year we have traveled far more than we had ever anticipated. It allowed us to go to our friends’ wedding in Nashville and be part of their special day. We were able to attend my brother’s college graduation which was so wonderful to see. We were able to go to Rochester for my cousin Denisse’s daughter’s baptism, which meant meeting precious little Daniella and getting to spend time with my goddaughter Isabella. We were able to share sweet time with my family during trips to Boston and Maine. Chip and I were able to explore Nantucket and San Francisco on our own during work and anniversary trips. Just this past weekend we were able to go to Denver to visit my brother as well as one of my closest college friends (stay tuned for a post on that trip!). I’m thankful that we live in a time where travel is as advanced as it is; let’s be real, if we were still in the Oregon trail days, we really wouldn’t be able to see anyone past Boerne. 

Riley and Becca's wedding in Tennessee

Riley and Becca’s wedding in Tennessee

Alex's graduation from Creighton

Alex’s graduation from Creighton

With Daniella after her baptism

With Daniella after her baptism

With my aunt, mom, Daniella, and goddaughter Isabella

With my aunt, mom, Daniella, and goddaughter Isabella

With Chip in Nantucket

With Chip in Nantucket

In Boston with my family

In Boston with my family

In Maine with my parents

In Maine with my parents

In Napa during our trip to San Francisco

In Napa during our trip to San Francisco

With Alex and Teresa in Boulder

With Alex and Teresa in Boulder

With Rachel in Denver

With Rachel in Denver

So today, I am thankful that we have been able to visit so many dear people as well as see new places together. Here’s to visiting more new places next year and continuing to visit loved ones wherever they may be!

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Alex’s Creighton Graduation

This past weekend, my little brother graduated from college. I know, I’m still trying to wrap my head around this as well. This kid…

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday

…is now a college graduate. Pretty awesome, right?

Alex completed his undergrad degree at Creighton University in Omaha. So last Friday morning, Chip and I flew out to Nebraska to join my parents and grandmother as we got ready to celebrate my brother. We spent a lot of time hanging out together Friday afternoon before having a belated Mother’s Day dinner that evening. We went to 801 Chophouse for dinner and thanks to our awesome waiter Lloyd, we ate like kings. I’m talking appetizers of crab cakes, mussels, lobster corn dogs (yes, you read that right and, yes, they were delicious), and a shrimp cocktail. Juicy steak and salmon for dinner. A side of wonderful macaroni and cheese. Different desserts of creme brulee, carrot cake, and chocolate souffle. Needless to say, my pencil skirt was feeling a little tight by the time we left!

The beginning to a great dinner

The beginning to a great dinner

Corn dogs have never looked so classy

Corn dogs have never looked so classy

I have a serious love for mac n cheese

I have a serious love for mac n cheese

At dinner on Friday

At dinner on Friday

Old Market

Old Market

After dinner, we felt the need to walk around a bit to help keep us from going into a food coma, so we drove over to Old Market. Old Market is probably one of the things I will miss most about Omaha. It reminds me of a more vintage Quarry and I love how different the stores and restaurants are. There’s one boutique my mom and I have loved going to over the years, so we had to go one last time for old time’s sake.

Once we left Old Market, Alex wanted us to all go to Krug Park for drinks with some of his friends and their families. It was pretty fun watching all of the guys and their dads interact together.

Manly men

Manly men

Saturday was graduation day. We let Alex do his own thing in the morning, so while Chip studied and my dad had breakfast with my grandma, my mom and I decided to go for a walk at a nearby park. I’m so very grateful for the one-on-one time I get with my mom since it doesn’t happen as often as I would like! The weather was great and we enjoyed being outside together, seeing some ducks along our walk.

Out for a walk

Out for a walk

Quack quack

Quack quack

We then made our way back to the hotel to get ready for graduation. The ceremony didn’t start until 1:00, but my parents wanted to make sure we got good seats, which means we walked in to the CenturyLink Center around 11:30.

With Chip before the graduation ceremony

With Chip before the graduation ceremony

I sadly don’t remember a whole lot from my Trinity graduation four years ago, but I thought the Creighton graduation was great. Each speaker did a great job and I was so impressed at how smoothly they called everyone up!

Alex walking in to graduation

Alex walking in to graduation

Creighton graduation

Creighton graduation

After graduation!

After graduation!

Two thumbs up for the college grad

Two thumbs up for the college grad

My dad and I were dressed like twinsies (kind of). This was our first attempt at taking a picture together.

My dad and I were dressed like twinsies (kind of). This was our first attempt at taking a picture together.

There we go, Lopez

There we go, Lopez

My grandma and mom with Alex

My grandma and mom with Alex

Love these guys

Love these guys

After we took the pictures above, we drove to Creighton’s campus for a few last pictures. Creighton’s campus is absolutely beautiful, check it out in the pictures below.

Happy parents

Happy parents

Good work, buddy

Good work, buddy

Proud family

Proud family

By the time we finished pictures, we were all pretty hungry so we made our way to dinner at Fleming’s. Once we ordered our food, we had Alex take some time to open all his graduation gifts. Once we ate and were getting ready to order dessert, Alex’s roommate Brandon joined us followed shortly by Teresa.

Sunday was a busy day. Alex had to be out of his dorms around 11:30 and like a good Lopez man, he still had most of his packing to do as of Sunday morning. My mom and grandma were helping him pack up his clothes and clean while my dad got the U-haul that they would be taking to Colorado on Tuesday. Soon, my dad, Chip, and I started making trips from the dorm across the street  to the U-Haul to get everything loaded up. And while Saturday had been a beautiful sunny day, we were dealing with some light rain on Sunday. Gross. Not my preferred type of weather while moving. We cut it pretty close, but Alex was ready to check out during his assigned time slot. He turned in his keys and left Creighton behind him!

Moving Alex’s stuff definitely brought out my appetite (and let’s be real, with that comes a level of crankiness) so we all went to Chipotle together before Chip and I flew back to San Antonio in the afternoon.

I’m so thankful that we were able to spend this weekend with my brother. Alex, I’m so proud of your hard work and am so excited for all that lies ahead of you! Now go kick some butt in Denver ;)

A weekend with my brother

I haven’t had a spring break in years. Four years, to be exact. While I normally get a little jealous while young college students get a week of freedom, this year I was grateful for this unofficial holiday since it allowed my brother to come visit for the weekend. I last saw Alex while we were in Tucson for Christmas and was pretty sure we wouldn’t be seeing him until his graduation in May. So when he called me a few weeks ago asking if he could come visit us in San Antonio, I said yes in a heartbeat. Not going to lie, it makes me feel a little cool that my 22-year old college senior brother wanted to use part of his last spring break to hang out with his sister.

The timing of his trip worked out really well. Chip was actually out of town most of this weekend, so I got some good one-on-one time with Alex for the first time in a few years (no offense to Chip, of course :)). Alex flew in from Omaha Friday night and after a quick stop at Target, we went to the house to feed him some dinner (whoa, had forgotten how much he can eat) and spend some time catching up.

Picking up Alex from the airport

Picking up Alex from the airport

Now last week had some awesome pre-spring weather, so I was looking forward to having a bit of a full outdoorsy day on Saturday. Then in true San Antonio form, the weather quickly changed… we may be in a drought, but of course the rain comes the weekend my brother is here. The original plan for Saturday was to take Wrigley to the dog park and walk around the trails there, drive to Austin and possibly do a small hike there, go to Shiner to tour the brewery and end the day at the Salt Lick in Driftwood. And then the weather looked more like this:

So rude. Needless to say, we had to change our plans. I also found out that the Shiner Brewery is actually closed on the weekends, so that was out of the plan as well. I know, I was shocked, too, who would have thought they would be close on weekends? So instead we took it easy Saturday morning and since the rain had actually stopped for a bit, we decided to take Wrigley on a quick walk in the neighborhood followed by breakfast at home.

We figured we could still go to The Salt Lick for lunch, the weather wouldn’t be able to stop us from some famous barbeque. We got in the car a little before 11:00 to head out to Driftwood, which is a little over an hour away. That may seem like a bit of a drive for some lunch, but if anyone would appreciate a good barbecue it would definitely be my carnivore brother. That and Alex really enjoys road trips of any kind, so the time in the car went by pretty fast between our conversations and the different Pandora stations Alex played for us.

We were a bit hungry, okay starving, by the time we got to The Salt Lick, but we lucked out and only had a 20 minute wait. I would definitely wait longer for their food if I had to. Saying it was delicious is an understatement. It was my first time there and I will definitely be going back with Chip since he’s actually never been there yet.

Alex had the four meat Rancher plate while I had the three meat Thurman’s Choice plate. They both came with potato salad, cole slaw and beans. And were followed by a hearty food coma. We had also brought some Shiner beer with us that we had bought at Target since we couldn’t go to the actual brewery. I was hoping we would have room for some cobbler, but it wasn’t possible. Alex even had to loosen his belt by a notch to account for all the food we had already eaten. So we decided to save the cobbler for the next time we go to Salt Lick, so Alex, feel free to book your flight whenever.

Alex with our (Target) Shiner beer

Alex with our (Target) Shiner beer

God bless Texas barbecue

God bless Texas barbecue

Yum yum yum

Yum yum yum

Once we got back into San Antonio (much quieter than we were on the way out haha), we made a quick stop at Trader Joe’s to pick up food to make for dinner. Since my brother likes cooking different pastas with his girlfriend Teresa, I thought it would be fun to make the pasta dish my mom and I made a few weeks ago. I think I may have over-cooked the pancetta slightly, but it was still really good and will definitely become a part of our dinner rotation. After dinner, my brother helped me make some snickerdoodle cookies to take to church on Sunday. With the cookies baking, we spent time watching the new season 3 episodes of Duck Dynasty. Happy, happy, happy.

I was pretty tired Saturday night, so I tried going to bed a little early while Alex watched a little more TV. Before I knew it, it was 1:00 in the morning and Wrigley was up in bed with me shaking. After a few seconds I realized that we were getting a pretty good storm with plenty of rain, thunder and lightning. For some reason, one of our living room windows leaks a little bit of water whenever we get a lot of rain, and since it sounded like it was coming down at a good rate, I decided to go quickly check on the window. I was worried about waking up Alex, but the night owl was still up and able to help me check out the window and lay out a towel. We both went to sleep pretty quickly after that, feeling a little tired in the morning thanks to Daylight Savings kicking in.

We had some breakfast, went to church and brought the snickerdoodles we had made the previous night to have after the service. It was great getting to introduce Alex to some of the different members at Redeemer, I think many of them were impressed by his beard. We then went to HEB to do the weekly grocery shopping before enjoying lunch at La Fogata. La Fogata is probably our favorite Mexican restaurant in town, so I thought it would be great to take Alex there since the Mexican food scene in Omaha is a bit lacking.

After lunch, we spent the rest of the day relaxing at the house. Chip got back home early in the afternoon and we all watched the end of the Creighton basketball game together, had a lasagna for dinner, watched a little more Duck Dynasty and played a game of Settlers of Catan. I also made another batch of cookies for the guys since we didn’t have any leftovers from Saturday’s batch.

Chip kicked our butts

Chip kicked our butts

More snickerdoodles

More snickerdoodles

I took Alex to the airport Monday morning on my way to work. It was a quick weekend, but I am so grateful for the time I got with my brother and look forward to (hopefully) having him visit more! For now, I look forward to seeing him again in May for his graduation from Creighton. And yes, I’m totally weirded out that my little brother will be a college graduate in just a couple of months. When did he become an adult? ;)

Until next time, bud

Until next time, bud

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.