San Francisco

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sorry for being MIA people. We had an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving weekend in the beautiful city by the bay. I love this city. My summer living and working in the city was such an awesome time in my life, and I love the fact that I have a legitimate reason to go back often. My grandparents and Aunt & Uncle both live in the bay area. We had a weekend filled with family, food, sight-seeing, reminiscing, football, and everything else that should happen when 30+ people hanging out in one house. More posts are to come... you are now forewarned of the mass amounts of pictures coming your way.

Hope y'all had as happy a Thanksgiving as we did. What a wonderful time of year.

It's Christmas Cards Time

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You know you have become an adult when you start thinking about Christmas Cards. This thought has not crossed my mind up until this year, but being so far away down here in Texas means we cannot leave our family and friends in the dark! I have been trying to figure out what kind of cards to send out, but I was hesitant to run to trusty old Costco or Wal-Mart, considering they have a small selection of layouts. And then I heard about Shutterfly and their awesome selection of Christmas Cards. But here's the best part -- this holiday season Shutterfly is giving away 50 free Christmas cards to those who blog about it. Easy peazy!

The only problem is choosing from all the different options! Some of the cards that caught my eye include:

If you were throwing an awesome holiday party or Christmas shin-dig, you could even order some creative invitations through Shutterfly as well. Geesh! The possibilities are endless.

I'm excited to order my cards. The quality seems really great, as they are printed on high-quality card stock rather than the traditional slightly flimsy photo paper. You guys should all check this deal out. I'm a fan.

{Hey fellow bloggers! If you want to get 50 free Christmas Cards, too, apply here}

A Week of Thanks

Monday, November 22, 2010

Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week!?!? When did that creep up so fast?? Either way, I'm so excited for this time of year. I know we are supposed to have a heart full of gratitude year-round, but I love how people around the world stop and take time to express gratitude especially at this time of year. I have so, so, so many things I am grateful for.

But rather than bore you all with a list of things I am grateful for, today I want to express my gratitude for my little brother. I look forward to his weekly emails and letters like a kid on Christmas morning. They're full of crazy Japanese stories, uplifting experiences from his mission, and funny Jace-isms. His optimism, faith, and perseverance is so inspiring. I hope to be like my little brother someday.

Being in Japan has apparently made Jace appreciate American food. He does love the food in Japan, but he has become especially obsessed with Navajo Tacos. He claims Mom used to make these all the time, but we are all a little surprised by this random obsession that he references nearly every week. I honestly don't remember eating these all the time growing up. But hey, whatever makes him happy. Look at that smiling face! I miss that goofy grin like no other. And man... I hope my little bro' doesn't show me up in the kitchen when he gets back. He's got that skillet flip down!

I am grateful for Jace and his example to me. I am grateful that I have a good relationship with my siblings. Family is really what it's all about, isn't it?

Now it's your turn -- What are you thankful for?


Saturday, November 20, 2010

I feel like a terrible, terrible fan. I betrayed the very series I have claimed to love so many times. I have been anticipating the release of Harry Potter 7 for some time. Not only did Caitlin and I creepily chase after the man carrying the HP7 reels in Kings Cross Station while in London, but I flew to Florida to personally go to Hogwarts!!! And then what do I do when the actual movie is released? Nothing. I do not go. Ugh. How can I live with myself?

I'm not really sure what happened or why it never came to pass. Right now we are blaming it on the insanely crazy week we just got over, and the busy weekend filled with errands and friends. I guess those are pretty good reasons. Don't worry Harry, we will see you soon.

To make up for the poor allegiance I showed, we decided to watch the Half Blood Prince at home whilst eating the most amazing pumpkin cookies ever. This is not your average pumpkin cookie. The texture, white chocolate, and macadamia nuts puts these cookies in a whole different league. If you have a few extra cans of Pumpkin to use before the Christmas baking takes over, make them as soon as possible. Hmm... I guess it turned out to be a pretty good evening.

Mirror, Mirror

Friday, November 19, 2010

We have a new addition to our family! This has been a long awaited addition. We (and by "we" I mean "I convinced Russ somehow") have been wanting a nice camera for a while, and I guess it took being robbed to get us there. That and I am celebrating Christmas for the next few years early. :)  Thanks again, Russ! We figured while we were needing to replace the camera that had been taken from our home, we might as well get a camera that we actually love rather than another point-and-shoot that Russ would hear constant complaining about. (Have you started to catch on that Russ earns many points in heaven on a daily basis??)

The final decision was to go with a Cannon Rebel XS. It's nothing super-duper fancy (as far as DSLR cameras go), but after much advise from fellow camera-loving friends, this would be a great start to a complete novice like me. I know nothing about cameras or photography. I repeat -- nothing. Looks like I have a few manuals, books, and websites to read. And you, my readers, will get to witness me messing up learning how to take pictures. We've all got to start somewhere, right?

Goin' Public

Thursday, November 18, 2010

That's right my friends. The day you have all been waiting for! Our blog is no longer "private," so hurry up and put us on your Google Readers! For those of you who don't use Google Reader, you should look into it. All you need is an account through Google, and it's the best way to manage and read all of your blogs without clicking through a million different links. It's all in one cohesive page. Only public blogs can be seen through Reader... Hence, my loud proclamation you see above! :)

And in closing, you guys have been kind of quiet these days... so I hope y'all continue to stop on over to our actual blog and leave us some friendly comments. I really do love to hear from you guys. That's my only request. Anyway, happy Reader-ing!

Can't Wait To Eat the Leftovers

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yeah, you know you want some. This picture, my friends, shows the Caramel Apple Crisp (w/homemade Caramel Sauce) that I took to dinner at some friends last night. It was as good as it looks. In fact, I was caught red-handed "cleaning the edges" of the pan in our dark kitchen before we went to bed. Yes, I was that girl. I got the recipe from my ultimate favorite recipe blog, A Hint of Honey. I heard about this blog from my friend Lindsay, and can honestly say every recipe I've tried of Jessie's is fantastic. I love her style, her pictures, and of course, her food. Too bad she lives in Virginia, otherwise I have a feeling that we would be friends.

Moving on, it's a Monday, and we all know how I feel about Mondays. But I'm actually feeling quite optimistic about the upcoming week. Nothing huge to report, but I am looking forward to the following:
  • Haircut!!! Ooooo I love getting an update in this department. I'm not doing anything too drastic, but am 99% positive I will bring back the bangs. I just don't think the long flowy bang-less look works for me. I gave it a valiant effort.
  • Harry Potter 7. Need I say more?
  • Potentially making a large plunge with a big purchase. If said plunge occurs, I will share. Until then, you must wait in suspense.
  • Christmas list-making, Christmas decoration-shopping, Christmas anticipation, Christmas everything! I'm feeling it early this year.
  • Last full work week until Thanksgiving!
  • Family pictures taken by the wonderfully talented Sada Lewis.
Here's to making the most of a Monday afternoon, and to eagerly anticipating eating leftover apple crisp tonight. Happy Monday everyone!

    Girls Weekend

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    My mom and sister came to visit us last weekend! Having them here reminded me of how much I miss being able to see them all the time. Despite the minor set-back with the robbery, we still managed to have a fantastic girls weekend (plus Russ, of course).

    Friday we started the day off with sleeping in and going for an awesome run in the park that is right by our house. It was a beautiful day in San Antonio. Mid 70's and sunshine. This is why people live in Texas, apparently. Russ had to work, but I took the girls down for the traditional San Antonio sight-seeing tour, including the Alamo, the Riverwalk (top right), Market Square, and we even ventured up to the temple in Stone Oak (bottom right).

    Saturday took a little longer to get the day going as we were obviously trying to sort through the mess of being robbed, but managed to have a fun day up in Gruene (and the outlets, of course). We ate at the Gristmill, which is probably one of our favorite places in Texas so far. We had an awesome table down along the river (bottom left). And yes, Russ ordered the baby back ribs that you can see advertised on the table. Those ribs really do fall off the bone down here. After dinner we walked around the cute town of Gruene, and managed to pull Russ away from his beloved Texan treasures without any purchases (whew! That was close).

    Thanks again Mom and Brittney for visiting us! We looooooooove visitors, and can't wait till the rest of our family gets to see where we live! (you know who you are.. hem hem... Natalie).

    Be Kind

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    This quote has always been one of my favorites. Even though it's easy to get sucked up into your own little bubble we call life, it's good to be reminded to step out of the bubble time and again. As you can read in the previous post, things have been a little hairy around these parts. I have been stressed and worried -- two words that easily translate to "worrying only about myself."

    Coming to work this morning and catching up on emails/blogs/etc. has reminded me that everyone is fighting their own battle. You may remember dear Sheri who is battling with cancer right now. Her daughter, Lindsay, touched on this idea perfectly in the latest Sheri update (click on link to read, it's a good one), and since I read her post I have not been able to get this quote by Plato out of my head.

    Before I ramble too much longer, I just want to express my gratitude for everything we have been given. I am blown away at how blessed we are in so many facets of life. I am grateful for our families, friends, the Lord, our house (invaded or not), this holiday season, the cooler weather, and most importantly... life. Life is good, amidst the individual battles and all.


    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    We got robbed Friday night. Worst. Feeling. Ever. Here's the story:

    My mom and sister came into town on Thursday (great timing, eh?). Friday us three were out all day long shopping/site-seeing/etc. Russ came home from work at about 6 to drop off his stuff and change before meeting us for dinner. He left the house at about 6:45.

    We arrive home after our long day at 9:45. The minute I walk inside I say out loud "it smells funny in here." My mom agreed. It wasn't a bad smell, just different. We go to the kitchen and start unpacking the various finds from our shopping excursions. At one point I go to the double doors in the kitchen/dining area and notice the back door is cracked open. I immediately rationalize and think "oh, mom must have gone outside for a second after we got home." I shut the door, lock it, and think nothing more. After about 15 minutes of being home, still no one has noticed anything. Next step: change into sweats immediately.

    I walk back into our bedroom and see the blinds are completely drawn and the window is WIDE open. A lot of times when we are home we crack the window for some air (especially now that the weather is nice). But it was open as wide as it could go. Again, I rationalize and think "wow, Russ must have been really hot when he got home from work." And then I look at the dresser and most of the drawers are cracked open. The master bathroom drawers - cracked open. Our bedside table drawers - cracked open. I go to close the window and realize the screen is gone. It clicked. Someone was in here. Before freaking everyone out, I run back into the living/dining/kitchen area and look on the kitchen table to find my laptop, where I know we had left it that morning. Gone.

    "Russell....." I say in a loud, kind of crazy voice. I tell him to come back with me into the bedroom. Again, I didn't want to freak my mom and sister out if I was just jumping to conclusions. I show him the window and say "I think someone broke into our house." He looks down by his side of the bed and says "yes, my work backpack is gone." This backpack had his work laptop and secure ID badge inside. Gone.

    We start running around the house like crazy. After a thorough investigation, we notice the following are gone:
    • My laptop
    • Russ's work laptop/backpack
    • My 16 GB ipod (from my bedside table drawer)
    • Our camera
    Our windows have ADT stickers on them. When you open any door or window the house beeps. We are not paying for the service, but apparently that wouldn't have mattered because he still broke in with the stickers on. He didn't know we weren't paying. And plus, the beep probably freaked him out, and he was undoubtedly in and out within 60 seconds. So ADT would have called the cops and they would have showed up 15 minutes later? So what? He would have been long gone. We go onto the back porch and notice the even more disturbing part. Before attempting to open and break into our bedroom window, he first tried to pry open our kitchen doors with a crowbar. This guy was going to get in no matter what. The doors will need to be replaced. We called the cops who were really nice and helpful, telling Russ he needs to get a gun to protect himself.

    In the end, it's just things that he took. Luckily we have renters insurance, and we are working with the insurance to get everything replaced. Russ is vigilant about backing documents and pictures up, which I am grateful for. But that's not the point. It's the fact that our "home sweet home" was penetrated and invaded. We immediately changed all of our passwords to everything online, seeing as he has my laptop with saved passwords. We all do it. You think you are safe in your home. Until you're not. I hate the fact that he dug through my drawers. I hate the fact that there was a thief who ran through my house, saw pictures of us, and still had the gall to steal from innocent bystanders. Russ went around our cul de sac Saturday morning to tell the neighbors. Most people he talked to told him they haven't heard of a robbery in this neighborhood the whole time they have lived here. Guess that's just our luck. We move in and two months later get robbed. C'est la vie, right?

    I look forward to the day when I will be able to sleep soundly again. These last few nights have been rather restless. I now know that feeling safe is not a feeling you should take for granted. It should be cherished.

    Lewis Elm

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    You know how when you move into a new place it seems to take forever until you have everything "put together?" It seems to be never ending, actually. Oh yeah, and kind of pricey. Why did no one ever tell you that decorating a house could literally clean your wallet out?

    Needless to say, we have been attempting to budget and buy things on sale, re-purpose items we already owned, and even attempt some D.I.Y. projects. I have been wanting a simple, looooooong, black shelf for the bedroom for a while now. I have searched this massive city high and low, and the only shelf that seemed to fit the bill perfectly was from none other than West Elm. The Deep Picture Ledge was just what I wanted, except for the price tag, of course.

    So on a whim we decided to make the Lewis Elm shelf, a literal recreation of West Elm's picture ledge.

    We did have to buy a few tools, but I grew up with a father who never counts tools in the final price of a project. They are merely investments, you see. It seems Russ has inherited that trait. Here is a rough breakdown of supplies:

    Wood: $3
    Stain: $7
    Wall Mounts: $2
    Wood Glue: (already had)

    Yup, that's it. Pretty straight forward. As I mentioned, I wanted it to be long. So we even added a foot onto the original West Elm's dimensions (theirs is 4 feet, mine is 5). Even better.

    And how 'bout them vases? Remember them from long ago? I didn't mean to leave you hangin'. Anyway, we still have a ways to go with everything, but gosh darn... I think it's coming together!