Category Random

several weeks of celebrations

The past several weeks have been absolutely full to brim with fun work and personal events! It’s a big month all around!

We kicked everything off with the opening of the Austin Boardwalk. The private donor event was first (and it was so beautiful and perfect) and I got to wear my new Stitch Fix Sally Mixed Stripe dress in a very appropriate cocktail length/summer weather event. Add another to the list for ‘my job exceeds every and all expectations’.

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And then we followed with the public grand opening! And what a memorable day it was – bands playing, drum lines marching, aerial dancers dancing (and a partridge in a pear tree?)! My co-worker and I got this fun photo with the giant ribbon cutting scissors. This project encompasses so much to the community – connection, safety, health, beauty, progress. I’m floored that I got to play the tiniest of little pieces in it’s implementation.

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At the public opening event there was a stunning performance called East~West by Blue Lapis Light Aerial Dancers to celebrate the connections achieved through the completion of the Boardwalk trail. The underpass of IH-35 at Lady Bird Lake was made beautiful (probably for the first and maybe only time) by these talented dancers.

Blue Lapis Light Performs

We finished off that weekend by celebrating a dear friend’s wedding, which took place at the Zilker Clubhouse (check out that incredible view)! Isn’t that hanging backdrop beautiful?

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And we wrapped up the work events with a practically sold out 10th Anniversary of the Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run & Party. The run portion was successful and the party was beautiful, but we were unfortunately driven inside by tornado warnings and rain.

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Next up, celebrating our 5 year old… And then I am going to take a very long nap. 😉

gratuitous cute kid photos (with cute animals too)!

Forgive me ahead of time, this is a post full of photos. Mainly for the grandparents that sometimes check my blog but aren’t on social media. You’re welcome grandparents.

Awhile back, we went to a birthday party. The mom of the kiddo that was having the party happens to be a photographer. Enter awesome pictures like this:

Jude with bubbles

And a traveling petting zoo, Tiny Tails to You. Which leads to gratuitous cuteness. Because a hedgehog… seriously.

Beth with hedgehog

Jude with bunny2

Beth and bunny

And then there are iPhone photos too. Because I’m that mom that takes too many phone photos. I was eating up the kindness and gentleness that my kiddo was exuding while holding chicks and bunnies. So sweet and gentle. Makes my heart hurt that my wild little boy can be so kind.

Jude with a bunny

Jude with a Chick

And then we also have been kayaking several times out on Lady Bird Lake. It’s so beautiful out there and we have had some wonderful wildlife experiences while out there as well. First time:

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Second time:

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And third time, maybe final, because Jude almost tipped us in this last round… Little boys in contained spaces sometimes cause havoc.

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And done in picture land. At least for now. Grandparents can smile and be happy now. :)

Orlando Adventure

I have a lovely friend that I have known since we were Freshman in high school. She is someone I admire deeply, we have shared much of life together – the ordinary, the musical, the artistic, the silly, the ‘learning-how-to-manage-those-eyebrows’, the architectural, the darkest moments and some of the most beautiful celebrations. It is one of those rare, special friendships.

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Riding the Dumbo Ride!

Well, we will be celebrating her (and her wonderful fiancé) in April for her wedding and in preparation, about a week ago, eight ladies joined her for her bachelorette ‘hen’ party in Orlando to visit two magical places. (Best big sister award goes to Rosie – the best bachelorette party planner I have ever encountered! She did so much to ensure the success of the weekend and then kept doing more! Thank you, thank you, thank you!)

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Riding the ‘High in the Sky Seuss Trolley’

First, we visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (which is a part of Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure). We had pumpkin juice, butterbeer, enjoyed lunch at the Three Broomsticks and rode Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (which, oh my, the detail of waiting in line for that ride – totally blew my mind).  On top of all that goodness, my friend’s lovely fiancé went way above and beyond and bought all of us wands from Olivander’s Wand Shop. Tonk’s wand ‘chose’ me (ok, I chose it) – she is one of my favorite characters in the book (because the movie does her no justice) and the hand hold of the wand is a pitcher plant – perfect for a plant nerd like me.

We did spend a little time in other areas of the park, Seuss Landing, Marvel Island (where I got to meet Rogue and Storm) and several of the ladies visited the Simpson’s Springfield. I also rode three pretty intense roller coasters. Yeah, my 31 year old body wasn’t so happy with me for that. But so much fun.

Hogwarts Summary

The next day we geared up to meet Mickey! We were lucky to have one of our party that was very familiar with the parks! We started at Magic Kingdom, ate lunch in Beauty and Belle’s ballroom (tuna niçoise – fancy!), rode some rides and headed to Epcot. Now, you all may laugh, but my strongest memory of Epcot from my childhood is Club Cool – the place where you can try soda’s from around the world. The girls were gracious enough to indulge me and my favorite soda as an adult was Beverly – a bitter, Italian soda! It’s similar to many apétifs that are popular in Italian culture. We quickly ran through all of the countries and settled down to a delicious pizza dinner in ‘Italy’! After we stuffed ourself to the brim, we headed back for late night rides at Magic Kingdom! As you can see below, we met Minnie, Donald and Snow White (not pictured – Daisy and the wicked step-mom and step-sisters from Cinderella).

The most impressive things to me about Disney were the attention to detail – beautiful mosaics and artisanship everywhere, great food and such happy ‘cast members’! It’s quite a treat to go back as an adult to enjoy many things I didn’t pick up on as a child.

Disney Mosaic

It isn’t often that I get to cast off the need to be the ‘adult’ at all times and both of these parks allowed me to tap into a childlikeness that we all need to remember that we have. It was such a pleasure! Wonderful women, lovely vacation, perfectly planned, all to celebrate a very special bride!

So many more picture here!

Chicago

A couple weeks ago we got to spend a week with some good friends in Chicago, having a great time and exploring their city. It was the counterpart to our Austin staycation last year. I have a feeling this is going to be a yearly thing in some city. I hope. I mean, look at these kids.

Chicago in August

They really are such good buddies. And their parents are pretty good buddies too, if I do say so myself.

We took a Sunday morning to go downtown and visit the zoo, which was quite incredible for being a free zoo. Jude got to meet Trent, the Kenyan Sand Boa.

Chicago Zoo

Which sadly ended with a feverish little monkey that slept on me through our whole lunch and took a two hour nap after. Thankfully it was just a one day bug. Kids, so resilient.

sick little monkey

And I finally got to visit Millenium Park – a space I feel like I knew from all of the pictures I have seen. I mean, haven’t you seen this iconic bean (yes, I know, “Cloud Gate”)? It was even better in person.

Chicago in August

Not pictured, a hungry, tantruming four year old that wanted to ride the ‘L’ train. So after lunch . . . a trip on the iconic train (and much happier children)!

Chicago in August

Then, we got to spend a lovely evening sans kiddos in downtown Chicago at the Girl and the Goat. Love that we got to visit the winner of Top Chef season 4 in Chicago. And the food, so delicious. An epic meal.

Girl and the Goat

We walked around downtown Chicago and got better perspective on how small my beloved Austin really is. What an amazing downtown!

Chicago in August

And of course, our friends have friends that own a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Because, who doesn’t? So we got an amazing tour of the ‘Ravine House’ and I got to geek out on architecture (which I had been doing the whole time – so much history! And Fredrick Law Olmstead! And, and, and…!). Not pictured, the tantruming four year old.

Chicago in August

Despite how difficult it is to try and sight see with kiddos (and yes, despite what it looked like on social media, it was extremely trying), the real gem of our time in Chicago was the time spent with our friends. It was easy and meaningful and such a lovely break from our everyday life.

Looking forward to next year!

 

7th Anniversary

Here we are. Married seven years with an almost four year old boy. It has been more beautiful and much harder than I could have ever expected. We have made it through hard seasons when running away seemed like the most sane option but thankfully we both meant it when we said ‘for better or worse’. We dug in our heels through the worse and we came out ahead. We are getting better at this dance of marriage and I am lucky to have such an amazing, patient partner. I picked the best one for me.

Happy seventh anniversary, my love. Let’s hope for many, many more. I love you much.

 

30th in NOLA

For my 30th I knew exactly what I wanted – to take a vacation to somewhere that I could eat a lot of good food. I struggled with this for awhile because everywhere that I wanted to go was 1) too expensive (Europe, South America, Thailand, Australia …) or 2) too cold. I did not want to be cold on my birthday which is unfortunate because my birthday is in winter. Not much I could do about that. I thought about Cali, Florida . . . and finally landed on New Orleans.

Back in the days of yore, I had visited New Orleans with my high school jazz choir – we sang at the International Association of Jazz Educators Festival but New Orleans in high school is not exactly the same as New Orleans when you are an adult. Oh the food. We ate so. Much. Delicious. Food. And my healthy appreciate of Chef John Besh has bloomed into full blown amazement (we may or may not have eaten at three of his six restaurants while there . . .). In case you ever end up in New Orleans, you must go to Domenica during happy hour (4-6) for the 1/2 price pizzas (get the clam pizza!) and 1/2 wine/beer/well drinks. The pizza crust is divine. And then go to Luke for happy hour (4-6) for $.50 P&J oysters and 1/2 off drinks. And then make sure to go to Restaurant August for their prix fixe three course lunch menu ($21 per person) – I could not get over the quality of the food we ate there. One of the best meals of my life at such a great price!!

This was the view from our roof top deck at our hotel (a special shout out to my incredible Aunt that paid me for my time building her a website with the use of her timeshare). Yep. That’s the super dome.

NOLA 2012

As with any city that I spend any time in, I have to get to their museum. New Orleans was no different. Did you know Degas had a house in New Orleans? Yeah, totally biked by it.

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The museum had a lovely sculpture garden that was in the middle of City Park.

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And street music. Everyone had their take – bucket drumming, saxophones, and Delta River Blues bands like this – don’t they look like river rats from Huck Finn? I still can’t figure out how they can sing with a cigarette in their mouth.

NOLA 2012

On the day of my birthday, we took a culinary biking tour. Yep. It was as awesome as it sounded (Little Dizzy’s for fried chicken and Liuzza’s for their NOLA style BBQ shrimp and gumbo). Our guide had some knowledge about the horticulture of the area so I asked her if she could mix things up by sharing some of it if we happened to come across anything noteworthy. Enter giant live oak that is the oldest live oak in New Orleans – the McDonogh Oak. 600 years old. Crazy.

NOLA 2012

We didn’t have a whole lot of room in our bellies after eating so much on the tour, but we still made it out to grab a bite and they were sweet enough to write me Happy Birthday in chocolate.

NOLA 2012

There are some super old churches in the area but most are deserted. Apparently if you are looking to buy a cheap historic church building, NOLA is the place to do it. Saint Louis Cathedral on the other hand, is still gorgeous and in great shape. It was also the site of an unlikely Christmas jazz concert that we attended!

NOLA 2012

And of course, beignets and cafe au laits. We took a mandatory stop at Cafe du Monde to get hyped up on sugar.

NOLA 2012

Other food worth noting? Elizabeth’s Restaurant for fried green tomato egg’s benedict, Surrey’s for fresh juice and boudin breakfast plate (and brie, avocado and crab omelette), Cochon Butcher for just about anything and everything (including bacon pralines), Old New Orleans Rum Distillery (for the tour), Three Muses (food and great jazz!), Cafe Amelie (gorgeous courtyard), Bellocq for drinks, French 75 Bar (upscale bar), and finally Jacque-Imos for alligator cheesecake.

I came away from this trip with more than just a full belly of incredible food. For a town that started out as a bunch of French convicts, Haitian refuges, African slaves, Sicilians, Irish, and a whole hodge podge of other influences… So much character and mystery from their fern and moss covered hidden courtyards, flickering gas lanterns, double tiered balconies and cities of the dead .. there really is no other place like it.

here’s to 30.

Today, I’m 30.

I could go on about this milestone, how I have thought a lot about growing older. That I want to embrace my age, rest in it comfortably instead of fighting against it. I won’t be 30 again next year. Each year I want to experience my true age. I feel settled in who I am and my direction in life and that feels good. It’s taken a long time. Y’all, things get better and I’m not just saying that.

Yet, it feels a little strange to leave my 20s. It felt a bit like I would be stuck in them forever. There was a lot of good, a lot of difficulty and some times I am more than happy to leave behind. Let’s just call them ‘a learning experience’.

Here we go 30. I think these years will be some of the best.

Family Photos 2012

Our friend Dawn is a talented photographer and her family is adopting a little girl from Ghana. In an effort to raise some funding for the adoption she offered family sessions and we jumped at the chance to support her AND get family photos. Really it was a win all around!

Additionally, my friend Krista let me borrow some of her awesome Noonday jewelry to wear for our photo shoot. So fun.

Here’s just a sampling of some of my favorite favorites. Yeah, there were that many good ones. See more here.

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