Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Cookbook Worth Crying Over

At my first shower (remember? the place mats?), there was one gift in particular that made me misty-eyed. I felt a little silly and overly dramatic as the tears welled in my eyes. But what can I say, I'm the sentimental type and this gift took an extra dash of preparation on the part of the gift giver, my sister-in-law Ashley.

To give you a little background, I read this blog every day. Love it. Her name is Ree, aka The Pioneer Woman. Her recipes are good, but what I enjoy most is her sense of humor. She has the ability to laugh at herself, which I find charming.

So, Ree has a cookbook:

How one woman can simultaneously raise four children, help run a ranch, write multiple blog posts daily and a compile a cookbook? ... well, the world may never know. But I've been wanting this cookbook pretty badly. I can't justify buying things like this for myself when I'm already spending out the wazoo on dresses, shoes, good hair, classy nails, accessories, etc. for showers and parties. It's only $30, but I still feel bad, and therefore, I've never gotten the cookbook.

Until my shower.

I unwrapped the cookbook, and was instantly excited. But then Ashley said, "Open it."

  (Ty and I thought this picture was really funny once we noticed my feet at the bottom of the shot. How horrible can one woman be with a phone camera ... and I took photography in college.)

And I flipped out. I think I said, "How did you do this?" about a dozen times. The signing wasn't necessarily what got my emotions. I just thought it was unbelievably thoughtful of Ashley to buy the cookbook, have Ree sign it and get it back to Shreveport in time for me to open it at the shower.

It's the most wonderful gift when someone goes the extra mile for you. I think that's what I loved most ... and then I very stealthily dried my eyes because I thought no one would understand why I was crying over a cookbook!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Weekend Warriors

My future husband works a lot, mostly in the heat, from practically sun up to sun down. He always leaves for work before me in the morning. That's really early. And he usually gets home after me in the evening. That's usually pretty late. Friday morning he left the house well before 7, and he got home at 8:30 that evening. When he returned home, I asked him, "So where are you taking me for dinner tonight?"

He wasn't the only one working. Our kitchen was a disaster from having friends over for dinner the night before. Word to the wise: Make sure your dishes in the dishwasher are clean and put away before hosting a party. So two hours after scrubbing dirty dishes, I was over it. Swearing to myself that I was going on a cooking hiatus ... at least for one night.

Bistro Byronz was a delicious, nearby treat for us. We sat at a table for two, listened to A.J. and the Two Tone Blues Band and thanked God for each splendid bite of creamed spinach.

But, come Saturday, it was back to business starting at 7:30 a.m. Ty and I woke up so we could go to the Farmer's Market before my hair appointment. I adore the Farmer's Market, where we got all kinds of goodies.

Blackberries, peaches, sweet corn, mayhaw jelly, spearmint (for a mojito recipe we've been dying to try) and a baggie of spiced pecans. I would like to tell you how amazing the spiced pecans were, but about five minutes after this picture was taken, I left the room and Lacy stole the baggie off the counter top and ate all my spicy pecans. She's asking for a new home.

I went to get my haircut and came home to this wonderful sight.

I know, it doesn't look like much, but it looks promising to me. The previous owner had the entire area planted as her home garden. Our pups need some grass, and I need less gardening, so the area has been cleared and leveled for grass. I should have taken a before picture, then you would understand my joy.

Finally, Ty began working on a project that he's been talking about for weeks. An aerator for our pool. Sure, you can buy fountains to anchor in your pool that do this exact thing, but Ty was feeling handy.

In just a few hours, our pool temperature dropped three degrees. I've never loved him more. I believe it is fair to say that our home is turning us into project people.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Paper People I Love

I'm pretty sure bridal magazines are the devil's creation. Too many options combined with too many decisions will make a girl crazy. But I've also found some interesting things that I've actually used in these magazines, and now I'm publicly apologizing for calling them the devil just two sentences ago.

My favorite finds would have to be in the realm of paper and invitation people. I actually ended up using two people from other parts of the U.S. ... because I'm a complicated perfectionist who couldn't find anything within the Greater Shreveport-Bossier area for a price that I liked.

I started with the maps. Ty and I have many, many out of town guests. Just in our wedding party, we have people traveling from Los Angeles, Savannah and Fayetteville. Most of our out of towners are relatively familiar with Shreveport, but we still needed a map since we're getting married at a location slightly off the beaten path. And I found this girl:

The company is called Merry Maps, and the designer's name is Daley Harris. I love this color map, but I went with simple black and white. You send Daley a list of the places you want on your map and she does the rest. And what makes the map so special is that she looks at each little detail and draws each location to perfection. I'll give you a sneak peak. Here's what our wedding location looks like:

And here's what Daley's drawing looks like:

I think I may name my firstborn Daley because I love this map so much. And I kind of love her name, too! Daley pronounced Daily ... I'm strangely in love with it!

Next, for the invites, I found a lady in Michigan by the name of Robyn Love. She offers multiple types of calligraphy and puts together the entire invitation suite for you. She does a lot more than just wedding stuff. My sister-in-law is having her create some enclosure cards. 


Wedding or no wedding, these are a few cute ideas I thought were worth passing on.  

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What the Crape?

When we moved into our house a few months ago, we were big fans of the gigantic tree living in our backyard. It provided shade for the house and the patio area where we hang out most when we're outdoors. We were in love with all its shady goodness. That was until it started blooming.

Ty speculated soon after we moved in that the tree was a crape myrtle. I didn't believe him because of the tree's freakish size. Have you guys ever seen a crape myrtle this big?

I soon realized Ty was right when it started snowing little white blooms in our backyard and this started happening to our pool.

Fallen blooms EVERYWHERE. And don't think we've been lazy about cleaning. This is what we come home to everyday, and clean out everyday, just to do it again the very next day. How are we supposed to get anything else done around the house when we're always skimming out crape myrtle blooms? The never ending frustration!!

So now the ultimate dilemma: Do we give up our shade tree in exchange for a clean pool? By the end of the summer and a few hundred more skimmings, I think the answer will be crystal clear. ... much like our pool will be next suummer.  

Monday, June 21, 2010

Showers and Scans

We had our first shower this weekend at the house of Ty's family's longtime friend Carri Jo Robertson. Carri Jo knows how to throw a good shindig, and everyone seemed to have a really good time. I loved getting to see old friends, like Kate and Carie, my former roommate Catherine and SB girls Stephanie and Caroline.

Our friends gave us lots of nice things. But I must admit, I got sort of nervous opening gifts in front of all those people. And then I started thinking about walking down the aisle in less than three months, and I freaked about all those people watching me. And then I started asking people about stress-relieving drugs. Will half a Valium make me a stumbling, stuttering mess? I'm going to ugly cry ... I can feel it already.

Anyway, I don't think you can tell in these pictures that I was nervous. I think I started to loosen up after a while.

Have you ever seen someone so excited about place mats? They really are cute ... and square, which I loved.

And then I opened this:

A pet hair vac! And even though Melissa couldn't make it, I thanked her for saving my upcoming marriage, or at least Lacy's existence in our household. Labs shed a lot ... everywhere ... and it never goes away ... ever. I guess we're doing pretty good if pet hair is one of the few things Ty and I don't see eye to eye on.  

Here's our hostess/family picture from the day: Carri Jo Robertson, Lesley Harter, Margaret Jordan, Stephanie the Amazon (it's my shoes), Amy Netherton and my Nana, Betty Netherton.
Today, however, it's been back to reality for me. I'm having a CT scan done tomorrow (I'll explain more on this later once I know what's up), so today I had to go by the hospital and pick up a "contrast." Basically, it's lemonade flavored iodine. And I have to drink this much of it starting at 5:30 a.m.:

And I have to drink more and more every 30 minutes until my appointment at 8 a.m. I'm bound to be floating by then ... and sleepwalking. Wish me luck, and I'll update you all tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Where Exercise Will Get You

I'd like to start this post by giving a congratulatory shout out to my girl LJ. Although I tease her daily about "trying to be the best at exercising", I was very proud of her for finishing this triathlon last weekend ... and for getting a medal. You've got to take those where you can get them.

This next story actually begins with LJ and I exercising. One day last fall, LJ and I were having one of our Saturday morning walks. We love to give our opinions on the houses as we walk past, and pick up for sale information from the plastic tubes. Neither of us were in the market to buy a home. She and Marcus had already purchased one, and Ty and I were up to our elbows in a yearlong bathroom renovation at his Broadmoor home. But out of curiosity, we always grab info from the tubes and decide on whether or not we believe the house is worth the asking price. This is just something us women do.

Then one day, we walked past this house.

I was in love. I pulled a paper from the tube, like I always did, and lusted over the home for a minute or two. Then dismissed the house entirely and put it out of my mind thinking Ty would have no interest. Ty was out of town this weekend, and I was staying at his house to look after his lab, Lacy. After the run, I tossed the paper on his kitchen table and never thought about it again. 

When Ty returned home from his hunting trip, he stood over the kitchen table to flip through his mail, and he saw the flyer and said, "We should go look at this house." So, we did. And soon, Ty was in love, too. Unbelievable, unplanned, but this little house ended up becoming our first home together.

We've enjoyed moving in and having friends over regularly. And it's great to live in a neighborhood where most of your friends live nearby. It's perfect when we've cooked a big dinner because there are always extra mouths around to feed. And it's the place that we'll one day start our family, raise our kids ... and maybe end up sending them off to college. It was built in the 1930s, and its a house rich with history. All of that is interesting, but I'm most excited about the history that's to come.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Three Men and a Little Brisket

The brisket Ty cooked on Saturday has thrown our lives into a full-on, meat-eating frenzy! What are we to you people, nothing more than a piece of meat?

Yesterday after work, I came home and changed clothes to walk with LJ. We walked for about an hour in the blazing heat, and by the time I strolled back up to my house, I was literally a hot mess. Clothes wet, body tired, mouth thirsty. I walked across the front yard, looked in the dinning room window and saw my future in-laws sitting down for some brisket. As they enjoyed Ty's delicious brisket, I visited with them from a safe and non-smelly distance, guzzled down some water and ran to the back to change clothes. There was no time for a shower because after Butch and Margaret left the house, we had more brisket business to tend to.

Around 8 p.m., we drove over to the Smiths house to deliver some brisket to Lauren and Jonathan. When you have a baby that's only days old, you take the home-cooked meals where you can get them. This was the second batch of brisket and potato salad we'd delivered to the Smiths in two days. Like I said, it's pretty good eats.

Around 9:30 p.m., another request came in for some brisket. Jonathan Andrews, our music/youth leader at church, wanted to pay us for more brisket. At this point, we were happy just to give the stuff away ... leftovers are only so tasty after three or four meals. So, we drove a few streets over to the Andrews house and dropped off the last of the brisket.

I must say, it's good to be brisket free. What will we do with all of our spare time now that we're not brisket running anymore? Thank goodness most of our friends live in close proximity. That makes dealing brisket a little easier.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Our Weekend Backyard Bash

Ty and I have gotten very used to busy weekends. Not that we mind. After sitting around the house for one day, we're both eager to get moving again. To the contrary, it seems that we're always on the move and very rarely get even one lazy day a week.

This weekend, we hosted the annual T&A party at our new house, which we moved into about three months ago. The babies and moms swam in the pool, while the rest of us just sat around and ate, ate, ate. The cooking and cleaning started early in the morning. I made a trip to Akins to pick up a few plants for the yard, and Ty started heating up the smoker around 8 a.m. By 4 p.m., the house was ready for guests and the huge pit of barbecue was ready to be devoured. Check this thing out:

We borrowed the smoker/trailer. Please don't judge me by thinking this thing sits in my driveway all the time. Although, my future husband would probably love that! And after tasting his brisket, I might actually go for it. Kudos to the guys, the food was delish!

My responsibilities mostly fell under the realm of indoors -- meaning making this amazing Blackberry Sangria. We got the recipe from Carrabba's ... it helps that Ty knows EVERYONE. He's got all the pull!  

We added wedges of fresh fruit to the sangria for this beautiful presentation. Thanks to LJ for getting me the drink dispenser off my bridal registry for my birthday. It comes in handy when were providing refreshment for the masses.

Outdoors, the party was going strong. For those of us who weren't swimming, it was pretty hot outside. So Ty set up a few fans to make us all a little more comfortable.

Baxter included. He's actually quite the fan hog. You can't blame a man who likes a little wind blowing in his beard.

In other news, this weekend was also a big deal for my future in-laws who run COSST (City of Shreveport Swim Team). After watching this news clip on the Damon McCoy Invitational, I hope they never see me swim! They will be greatly disappointed in my efforts!

Friday, June 11, 2010

We're Goin' to Jackson ... Go Comb Your Hair

A few months ago we learned that our good friends, Adam and Kristen Blancher, would be moving to Jackson. This was bittersweet for many reasons:

  • We really like the Blachers.
  • They bring a lot of talent to the church band - Kristen on vocals, Adam on guitar. 
  • We will miss them and Thomas dearly.
  • Jackson is several hours away.
  • They're always up for Tacomania, where Kristen first introduced me to the Queso Asada Billy. I knew our friendship would be long standing. We had cheese in common.
  • We laugh a lot when we all hang out. 
  • So on and so forth.  
  • They were some of the first people to sit in our gigantic master bathtub (fully clothed) to help us estimate if it was large enough to sub as a hot tub. And it is. 
  • When they return, we'll be able to call Adam "doctor" and get free therapy.
  • Adam will be done with schooling and they'll never leave us again.
The deal has since sweetened (at least for us) since the original announcement. Kristen will be staying in Shreveport, while Adam moves to Jackson for a year. With Adam's departure date approaching, we all wanted to send him off knowing that we won't be the same while he's gone.

So, tomorrow we're throwing our second annual T&A (Ty and Adam, you pervs) party. Tonight, Ty and I will go to Sam's and buy brisket, sausage and some other meats for about 50 of our closest friends. Tomorrow, I'll trim the hedges, clean the house and make an early morning trip to Akins. Ty will tidy up the pool area, lift all the heavy things that I can't and fire up the grill. Adam will help Ty and then go inside and watch the World Cup at 1 p.m. And Kristen and Thomas will swim because she's pregnant with her second, and I just can't put a pregnant woman to work. By the time the party starts, everything should be nice and pristine ... and we'll try to distract everyone from the garden area we're currently digging up in exchange for a plot of grass (I'll show you pictures of this later).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Latest News and Newest Shoes

The News
Monday afternoon, Ty and I took a short day trip to Clinton, MS, to have our engagement pictures taken. I'm sure many of you are thinking much like my dad, "You couldn't find a photographer here to do that?" And, truthfully, my answer was no. And it's a long, drawn out, boring story that none of you really want to hear. So, yes, we went to Clinton to take our engagement pictures.

The photographer's name is Robby Followell, and I think his work is spectacular. We had a lot of fun spending the afternoon exploring Clinton and Jackson and taking pictures. Ty was a natural ... handsome as ever, and on the other hand, it took some time for me to loosen up. I think they turned out great, and I'll share them when we get them in.

After getting home and passing out Monday night, we were both a little groggy yesterday. But my sweet friend and bridesmaid, Lauren Smith, knew exactly what we needed. Last night, Lauren delivered her precious baby boy, Gunner Ross. He's a handsome one, too. With a head full of hair just like his daddy. Ty took Jonathan (that's the dad) to grab some fast food, and I sat with Lauren and got to witness Gunner's first poopie diaper. That's was the first time I thought poo was really, really cute!!

The Shoes
I think most people left our engagement party Saturday with much to discuss. One topic being the shoes on my feet. Mine were gold, but look at these babies:

Lauren has the same shoes, and offered to let me borrow them, but I couldn't allow myself to go there. After all, I probably would never have given them back. And friendships can end over shoes like these.

It's a lethal dose of high heel. The entire evening I explained to our guests that these shoes were, in fact, very comfortable. Thank goodness none of our guest saw my feet when I took them off. Exchange my toes for five little stuffed sausages and you get the picture. They're still worth each and every swollen little sausage toe.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Countdown Begins

Now that preliminary wedding plans are out of the way, I hope to return to my old blogging frequency. Remember when you used to have something to read each day rather than every three months? That's what we're aiming for. I'll try to spare you boring details of invitation paper and bridal fittings, but I would like to share with you the joy that we've been experiencing for the past several months.

While wedding planning is known for being stressful, it really is the most magical experience. In less than 100 days, I'll be married to the best guy I know. The guy who drives me absolutely everywhere, skims all the crape myrtle blooms from our swimming pool (more on that later), worships beside me every Sunday ... and a million other little thinks that make our everyday life very fun. I get excited about the commitment we're going to make in a little over 3 months.

I came across this picture the other day:

I can't remember how many years ago this picture was taken, but this was one of the first few times Ty and I went out together as more than friends. The picture was taken at Moss and Michel Duvall's rehearsal dinner, which happened to be at Hill Country Village, which also happens to be where we'll marry in September.

We've grown a lot since (older, too, if you couldn't tell), and this weekend, we celebrated ourupcoming nuptials with an engagement party at David and Bertel Fite's camp. It was a gorgeous party with all of our closest friends and family. Of course, we're excited about our wedding and marriage, but it was great to be surrounded by so many people who are just as excited as we are. Really, it's nothing shy of magical.