May 27, 2015

Austin, TX | Staycation

We've lived here almost a year now (crazy, I know!) and we really haven't had a chance to explore much outside of where we live.

We took advantage of the long weekend and booked a mini trip Austin. We booked our hotel through Priceline. I really like their Express Deals, and we've had great success with using them over the last few years. We stayed here, and it was perfect for what we needed.

We stayed almost 48 hours, which was just enough time to get-a-way, without feeling like we needed a day to recuperate from our trip.

After hearing lots of recommendations from friends and ward members, we realized that the main thing to do in Austin, is eat.

We were offered many lists of must eat places, most of which we didn't get to. But the places we did eat at, did not disappoint!

Salt Lick BBQ

This was our #1 must try, and we will definitely be back. Between the three of us, we tried the sausage, turkey, brisket and pulled pork. The sides weren't my favorite, but really, most people go to BBQ for the meat anyway. The sauce was also amazing. Tangy and sweet, served warm. 

We went here at the recommendation of our waitress at the Salt Lick. Amy's has several flavors in rotation and when we showed up the line was considerably long. The line moved fast and their "backyard" featured an outdoor play place, which was Zoe's favorite part. I don't know if all Amy's locations have this, but it was sure a great plus for us. 
Ryan and I had a relaxing conversation while Zoe played her heart out. The ice cream was delicious, and very true to flavor. We tried mango, dark chocolate, blackberry and horchata, they all tasted like the real thing. They do offer add-ins, which they will mix into your ice cream, but we had ours plain, except for Zoe, who got sprinkles on top.

A nice, inexpensive daytime activity. We happened to go during their Woodland Faerie Trail exhibit, much to Zoe's excitement. We spent quite a while examining all of the different gardens they have to offer. It was rainy and cloudy, which made for a humid and muggy walk, but it was worth it. Also, I would recommend bug spray before going here again. Due to the humidity, mosquitoes were out and about. I came home with my ankles covered in bites.

My favorite part of the gardens - the water lilies. They were so beautiful they looked fake. Due to their locations, I had quite the time getting close enough to photograph them, but it was well worth the effort.

This was definitely the most indulgent thing we ate, but at the recommendation of, well everyone, we could hardly miss it. They have two locations, and we decided to hit up the food truck as it was closer to where we were. They serve giant donuts covered in lots of delicious toppings.

We stayed on the calmer side of the menu, but they do offer some interesting combinations. 

We tried:
Naughty & Nice - cinnamon and sugar, served with warm honey butter
Razzle Dazzle - raspberry filling and fudge icing
Miss Shortcake - fresh strawberries with cream cheese icing

They were fresh, delicious and rich. Definitely a sharing kind of treat. 

This quaint little cafe was also on a recommendation from our waitress. This was such a fun place to go to. It was like quintessential small town. The food was good, the decor and atmosphere was even better. We sat next to a regular who knew all the waitstaff by name. The place is known for their pie, they even have a separate pie counter in the back, where people walk in and just order pie to go.
We tried the blueberry, key lime and apple. All were rich and delicious. They had at least 20 more varieties we could have picked from. 

We also got to see the Capitol, which was much bigger than I anticipated. What I didn't expect was how busy it would be. I failed to check the University of Texas schedule, and it turns out it was graduation weekend, so everywhere was packed. 

We drove around Austin, Round Rock, Hutto and some other smalls towns, and spent some quality time together, which is really why we decided to take the trip. 
Our trip got cut short with a combination of the weather and a sore back. Thankfully, we made it back home before the storm started.

We are looking forward to going back and getting a chance to check more things off our Austin to-do list!

Holly & Co.

May 18, 2015

Yesterday was Magic | Ordinary Days

"Enjoying the magic in this ordinary evening."
Yesterday was a typical Sunday. We slept in. Ryan went to meetings. We went to church. We had dinner. We did a whole lot of nothing productive, but somehow it contained the perfect combination of ordinary life that I love.

Zoe's 7th birthday is coming up and I haven't taken any real portraits of her in quite a while. Swimming selfies don't count as portraits in my book. We took a blanket and Charlotte's Web outside with us and enjoyed a special evening full of little nothings. 

She read a few pages, then decided to climb the trees nearby, in her dress. That's our girl. While climbing she discover a nest of rollie-pollies. She grabbed my camera and took some pictures. Some monarch butterflies flew around her - she jumped down off the tree and chased them for a while. I wish I had a video of that 10 minute stretch of time. It was like everything that's great about being a kid, rolled into a few minutes.

Lately, her aging seems to be lightening fast. She is has gone from little girl to full blown girl and tween is in the horizon. This age has been the most special by far. She shares her secrets with me. We talk about all the many topics she is interested in. She loves math and devours chapter books within hours. 

She has the most adorable freckles just on the bridge of her nose. She idolizes her daddy and jumps at any chance to spend time just the two of them. 

A cherry slush from Sonic makes her day and she asks to go to the pool everyday; rain or shine. She gets compliments on her manners anywhere we go. She has a better handle on the tough stuff than I do. She loves her Book of Mormon and brings it to school to read during free time each day. 

Animals and nature are by far her favorite things. She has a soft spot for animals, including insects. She has a big heart, and I hope it always stays that way.

March 19, 2015

Trip to Utah | Spring Break 2015

Texas has been so gloomy lately. (and this is coming from someone who loves cloudy weather)
Thankfully, I was able to find some cheap flights to Utah for Zoe and I for spring break!

I got some kind of stomach bug the day before our trip and let's just say it was a miracle I made it on the plane! Zoe hadn't been on an airplane in years, so for her, it felt like her first time flying. She was giddy with excitement. It was so fun to watch her squeal and squirm while we were waiting to take off.

She requested a window seat for all of our 5 flights (there and back) which meant I got a middle seat for all 5 flights. The things we do for our children!

Our 7-day trip flew by! 
Lucky for me, I have old friends located just a few minutes from my parents. It was like an all inclusive trip, friends and family in one trip.

We took a trip to the Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point with our old friends, the Stauffers. It is so crazy to see these kiddos now. When we met, Ethan was a tiny baby. So much has happened since then. It's fun to see how they are still close friends despite all the distance.

Noah, Ethan, Zoe

Zoe, Preston, Noah, Ethan - Circa 2006

We got to spend lots of time with my sister and my darling niece, Lily. Zoe just eats up spending time with her - although she likes to tell her what to do most of the time. We took the girls to an indoor pool. I took Zoe down the two story slide - let me tell you, that was one intense slide. It was pitch black inside and really fast. It took me several minutes after one ride to catch my breath. 

And what is a visit to Utah without spending some time with Wilbur?
 Zoe is such an animal lover, it wouldn't surprise me if she ended up working as a vet. She reminds me of my friend, Calli, who always had a special love for animals.

We also fit in a visit to the Aquarium, lots of late night laughs, a trip to see the new Cinderella Movie, shopping, and a morning at Grandma's house helping her with her computer and then seeing priceless photos of my late Grandfather during WWII.

It's amazing how quickly a week of vacation goes by. 
But, we were happy to come home to Ryan and a clean house. 

Holly & Co.

February 28, 2015

We've been hibernating | Snow in Texas

We've been in Texas 7 months today!
To say this week's weather was a surprise, is a bit on an understatement.

When Zoe went to bed Sunday night, school for Monday had already been cancelled. She was over the moon excited thinking about the snow that was predicted.

Snow in Texas is more of a combination of freezing rain, ice chunks and snow. It's not really fun to play in, but it definitely put me in a better mood.

I'm a winter weather lover, and when we saw 80° in January, I was depressed thinking that I would be soon thrown into shorts weather. Well, somebody upstairs loves me, and gave me my winter back. We've been enjoying hot chocolate by the fire and snuggling in blankets reading books. Winter is my kind of heaven. 

One of the best parts of 3.5 snow days, is being stuck inside. My sewing machine has been hard at work lately. I've finished 1 quilt top, 1 blouse for me, and 1 baby quilt for work. All in one week! 

I was hoping to be able to open my Etsy store this month, but due to time commitments, that has been put on the back burner for now. I will definitely keep you all posted on it's opening date!

Holly & Co.