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Airports

I’m weird. I like airports. Lots of hours at airports. Layovers at airports. Whenever people ask about my itinerary when I take a trip and I tell them that I have a long layover in X, they do the obligatory “awwww, that sucks,” and I nonchalantly answer “yeah” to be cool when on the inside I’m saying “cha ching!” I love a good stay at an airport.

Airports have energy, and they have lots of crap that you would never purchase in real life but suddenly screams your name just because you’re traveling…you’re going rogue…the adventurer is alive in you and you must embrace your last opportunity to grab a snow globe commemorating your fleeting location. I come from a long line of shoppers. What can I say? I like to browse through worthless stuff.

I also like to watch people. You can’t beat an airport for people watching…unless you live in Austin in which case this is highly debatable, but as Sofia would say “I digress.” You can be sitting at a bar in an airport and someone starts speaking broken English and the bartender asks where they’re from and they respond with some fabulous location you’ve only read about. I’m always instantly transplanting myself into their life when this interaction occurs. What if I had been born in Czechoslovakia (clearly this is not an option as auto correct is my only prayer for spelling this), Argentina, Japan….how cool would that be? I could be just like that person in that movie. I bet they’re smarter there. I bet they appreciate literature more. They certainly wear better clothes and have better food. Aren’t people who eat a Mediterranean diet supposed to live longer? I just got comfortable embracing black nail polish without instantly having flashbacks of the goth kids in middle school. I bet that’s already out in Europe. Wonder what’s in now? Dang. I definitely need to figure out a way to move to Europe. Then I could have character. I could have history. I’ll probably become a writer (who am I kidding) who wears cute glasses. Perfect.

Growing up, these types of thoughts weren’t just musings, they were goals. One day I will do that. That will be my life. Then college happens and you get the job. Then you get the job and you make friends. Then you meet someone special which is awesome and you stay in the city with the job. Then you’re on the downward slope to 30 (holy cow!) and look what happened…you’re still here. You didn’t go. Life kept moving and you didn’t go. Crap.

True confession…this has caused me major anxiety over the last several years and has caused my poor husband to wonder if I could ever be happy just being. Well, of course not! Duh! The point of life is to keep progressing. Keep moving. Do something crazy. You only live once. You have to pack a lot in, and I don’t have time to sit here and watch football. I was ambitious. I was passionate. I was breaking glass ceilings. And banging my head over. and. over again. I was exhausted. I didn’t (still don’t really) know how to rest.
It’s only been the past year or so, that I’ve said “God, what if I don’t move to Europe or wherever? What if I just stay here and do this job that I do everyday and like it? Did I fail? Will I have regret?” You know what? I don’t think so. Looking back now, life’s been quite the adventure, but as I’ve spent all of my time making my next plan, I didn’t really absorb the story that I was walking through. Now, I want to. I went to college, made great friends that got me through some really hard times, moved to a city where I knew one person, cried when my mom and my grandma left me there, found a guy I would have NEVER envisioned for myself but that couldn’t be more perfect, lost my dad, made great friends, ate great food 🙂

Sounds like a cool story to me. So, maybe this post should be called “I need football.” I need to sit. I need to absorb. I need to be. In Austin. In love.

So, as I sit in the airport about to embark on the most exotic trip I’ve taken yet, I’m excited to shake some new hands, eat some new food (are we sensing a theme?), make some new friends, and then go home. I’ll be really happy to go home. Home is Adventure Headquarters. It’s where we are now, and it’s where we’re meant to be.

One time I read a book that told a story of a woman that never fit in in the US in the 1950s because she had dark hair and was very short. Then she became a missionary in China. She stepped off the boat and saw that for the first time in her life, everyone looked like her, and she said, “Dear God, you know what you’re doing.”

Well, “Dear God, you know what you’re doing.” Thanks for letting me go for the ride.

Meanwhile, here is my favorite part of the Dallas Airport:

We Like Pink Tutus

I can relate

 

Chicken Soup for the Nose

Finally it’s that time of year when ears start closing, drainage starts flowing, and your head feels like a bowling ball. I’m not complaining considering my body temperature is still returning to normal after this summer and this combo of symptoms allows me to make and eat one of my favorite comfort foods. Considering there is a pretty famous series of books with a title quite similar to this post, I think a few quotes are in order. So if you’re not feeling so hot and you’ve accesorized your coffee table with used kleenexes, then keep this in mind:

“It’s all right letting yourself go, as long as you get yourself back.” – Mick Jagger

This is my take on Chicken Soup. I recently amended my recipe since Mr. Barrett has gone gluten free. So, this is actually my take on Gluten Free Chicken Soup.

The base:

I’ve never made my own chicken stock (shameful, I know), but I really can’t justify spending money on a chicken when I’m going to throw most of it away. My attempt to capture some of that same flavor without throwing away a chicken is the follwing:

In a stock pot add:

  • 1 very large chicken breast
  • 1/2 onion with skin still on
  • 1 head of garlic cut in half around the circumference with peel still on
  • 1-2 celery stalks with leaves
  • 1 carrott
  • salt and pepper
  • several bunches of fresh parsley
  • several bunches of fresh thyme
  • 1 box chicken stalk + equivalent amount of water

Cook for one hour over med-high heat. Strain, reserving the liquid and chicken. Discard all other ingredients. Yes, we’re throwing things away, but these ingredients do not amount to much money. And yes, this is a long process, but consider this:

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” – Dolly Parton

The soup:

Wash your stock pot and use it to make your soup.

  1. Saute 1/2 diced onion, 1 diced carrot, and 1-2 celery stalk(s) in a couple of Tbs of olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper until onions become translucent
  2. Add reserved liquid
  3. Add 2 large red potatoes cut into bite sized pieces
  4. Add 5-6 mushrooms, sliced
  5. Cook until potatoes are fork tender

While soup is cooking, shred the cooked chicken and cook 1 link of hot Italian chicken sausage. Cut sausage into small pieces once cooked. The idea is not to eat a big bite of sausage, but to have the spice of the sausage give a little kick to the soup.

Return to the soup and add the shredded chicken and sausage. Let cook for 1-2 mins until flavors combine. You may want to add some water or additional seasoning. I usually add some water, but be careful that you don’t dilute the flavor too much.

Serve in large coffee mugs so that the broth you worked so hard for can be thoroughly enjoyed!

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – JRR Tolkien

P.S. This makes LOTS, so freeze and enjoy the next time you’re not feeling so hot.

And one more, because I like this one 🙂

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” – Mother Teresa

I think Fall is my favorite season. Every year when I walk outside on that magical day that seemingly randomly comes after a scorching summer and is such a stark contrast to the 100 degree day that I survived the day before, I feel excited. I feel more productive. Honestly, I feel more alive. Different clothes, different food, different activities. It’s a welcomed change in many ways.

I love living in Texas. I love the summers in Texas, but I must say that it feels so good to not be hot anymore.

We’ve been taking walks outside. Our grass isn’t crunchy. Our plants aren’t wilted. We’ve sought out restaurants that will let us sit outdoors. It’s awesome.

It’s a great time of year, and it means that the holidays are not far away 🙂

We’ve had a lot of fun so far this Fall.

2 weeks ago we ventured up to Lubbock to watch A&M play Texas Tech.

Last weekend, I made this recipe for pumpkin bread and it was delicious! It also made our whole house smell awesome. (Note: I subbed about 1/2 whole wheat flour  for half of the regular flour.)

Today we went to Bentley’s for a fall treat for the B. Little did he know that his treat also came with a doggie toothbrush and shampoo 😉

This is a dog treat! I want to eat it!

Barney Approved

Michelle at Bentley’s is the bomb. She makes all kinds of creative treats for dogs and she stocks pretty much anything you could dream of in her store. She’ll also order anything you want for you. Go see her! She’s an Austin local.

Happy Fall! If you’re looking for me, I’m outside!

Ah, Texas in the summer. It’s a double edged sword. On the one hand it’s a great time to be in the water having fun. On the other hand, it’s a great time to be in the water having fun because otherwise you might die. Later this week, two friends that we met in Munich are coming to stay with us. I happen to still have the Munich weather report on my phone. It won’t go over 80 degrees there this week, and it won’t go below 100 here. I hope they still like us.

So, what can you do during a Texas summer? Well, if Stephen and I are any example, you can eat and swim. Check out what we’ve been up to!

A few weeks ago, our awesome friends, the Heards, called early on a Saturday to see if we wanted to go out on their boat. Heck yes! We cruised Lake Austin with them and even docked the boat for lunch. It was an awesome day!


Some friends brought their Golden Retriever. They outfitted her with a life jacket and put a bunch of noodles under her so that she would float. She didn't think it was so fun and swam to Stephen for help.

2 weeks ago we celebrated Stephen’s 26th birthday. I bought us a cooking class at Whole Foods where we learned to make Spanish tapas. I loved Whole Foods before, but now I am a walking billboard. This has got to be one of the coolest things Stephen and I have ever gotten to do together. The food was amazing, the chef that taught us was great, they opened unlimited wine, and we got to bring any unused ingredients (read goat cheese, bread, salted cod) home. Talk about getting your money’s worth! Undoubtedly, the best part is that there’s this guy that follows you around preparing your ingredients and cleaning up after you. Unfortunately, he didn’t fit in a to-go container or we would have brought him home too 🙂 Stephen and I have made several of the dishes that we made in class at home already. Easy, delicious, and we feel fancy.

Our awesome chef instructor

Brunch on Stephen's actual birthday where I made one of the dishes we learned in class

Our good friends Jett and Kelly heard about a place in Wimberley, Texas called Blue Hole that they wanted to visit. It’s an awesome spring fed place to swim. A lot more natural than Barton Springs (big trees, no concrete around the water). It was great!

We ended the day at Salt Lick in Dripping Springs. Yum!

 

Hunting in Packs

Since we hung our two new bird feeders last weekend, there’s been a lot of activity in our yard. This has not been lost on the B who now refuses to come inside lest he miss a bird or squirrel. The sad thing for B is that I’m pretty sure I pick up on about 3 times the number or critters in our backyard that he does. He’s no hound dog, but you can’t blame him for trying, and he is persistent.

This is Barney ever on guard in the backyard. I feel safe.

What he does have going for him is the backup of our plus sized and beautiful Siamese cat who actually knows what’s going on. She waits on the porch for some action, and then makes her move….

Lily Pad looking out for the B.

As you can see, Lily Pad is stalking a bird at the feeder that the B has no clue about

I think she feels sorry for him, so she’s willing to help. The funny thing is that when Stephen and I started dating, the cat and the dog couldn’t be in the same room together. They hated each other. Then, when we got married and B and I moved in, they could tolerate each other, but they would not sleep on the same bed or be within a few feet of each other. Now days, they’re really good friends. Just the other night, Lily got stuck in the guest bedroom and Barney cried and cried by the door until I got out of bed to figure out she was stuck in there. He’s Lassie 🙂 Now, they’re on the same mission together….to reclaim the backyard.

Neat how two totally different animals can become such good friends 🙂 Kind of a picture of what’s needed in a lot of situations in life.

 

It’s Good to Be The B

Barney had a weekend of firsts. He swam in a pool, he hung out in a hammock, and today he saw and was in his first parade.

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Pimp My Yard

Sooooooo……for a while now, Stephen and I have wanted to make our backyard feel like it’s a bigger deal than it is. We spend a lot of time out there in the summer, and even though we have a normal plain ol’ backyard, we knew there were some ways to make it a lot more fun. A few years ago, my parents went to Costa Rica and brought us back an awesome hammock, but we had never hung it up. This was a great starting point. Also, recently. my mom was here and got us a hummingbird feeder which inspired me to add a regular bird feeder to the mix as well since we see tons of Cardinals and Blue Jays all of the time. We also envisioned some cool lights to make our backyard seem more like a party. We already had our colored Christmas lights on our patio because we forgot to take them down 😉 but we also wanted to add some lights to our trees to light up the whole yard.

We took a trip to Home Depot today after analyzing the hammock situation and bought some chain and carabiners to hang it up. Also, we picked up some Rust-o-leum to preserve my cow bell from my childhood treehouse so Stephen can tell me when dinner is done. Ha! This was all pretty cheap. Finally, we made a stop at Target and splurged on some lantern style lights for our trees.

Check it out!

Hummingbird Feeder...thanks mom!

New bird feeder....$5 at Home Depot 🙂

Stephen and Barney trying it out

When the sun goes down

Brownies de Fromage

About a year ago, Stephen and I were watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay when he challenged the Vermont Brownie Company which is famous for putting goat cheese in their brownies. I saw this episode and knew I had to try this. Since I wasn’t going to be in Vermont anytime soon, I visited Google to see if anyone had figured it out. Turns out someone had (and this person had seen the same episode I had), and I’ve made this recipe twice producing AMAZING brownies. I’m not a big sweet person. I like dark chocolate, but I mainly stick with more tangy flavors. This is a perfect blend of savory and sweet. Try it!

Happy Birthday, B!

Today we celebrated Barney’s third birthday with a peanut butter cake from Bentley’s Biscuits & Bones. Michelle over at Bentley’s is awesome and makes all kinds of homemade dog treats. Since Stephen is in Brazil, Mom came in town to celebrate with Barney, Lily, and me! Check out the pics!

Barney tried very hard to get some more!

Barney had icing all over his face, and couldn’t get enough. He licked all of the icing off of the floor and begged my mom to give him more. Happy Birthday, Barney!