Love Letters

Jun 20, 2014

This past week was filled with many celebrations:
Father's day, my dad's 50th birthday, and Josh's 27th birthday.
In our family, birthdays (and any occasion, really) are celebrated most appropriately with food.
Also, now that we are of age to partake in adult beverages, we have recently begun to include alcohol in these celebrations as well.
. . . bout darn time.

Dear Ft. Worth Stockyards,
You're kinda cool I guess.
Dear Ft. Worth Stockyards,
Okayyyyy, you can drink beer walking down the street and look at bulls, maybe you aren't that bad.
 Dear Morgan,
After our first blogger blind date way back when, I've been creeping hard on your blog and vicariously living through you and Andrew's ever-changing life.
I'm so glad we were able to catch up, but most importantly I'm glad I got to meet sweet baby Opal!
 Dear Brewed,
You win the award for cutest restaurant/bar/coffee shop combo around.
 Dear Josh,
Your preparedness never ceases to amaze me.
You taught me a valuable life lesson that day: Always have empty growlers on hand in case you come upon a beer fillin' station.
Dear leftover pulled pork from THE GREATEST RECIPE I'VE EVER MADE
Tuck you inside of some tortillas and you work quite nicely with some diced sweet potatoes, cheese, and avo. 
 Dear Josh, 
If bribing you with beer is what it takes to get you to come to the pool with me then so be it.
Wait, no, so don't be it.
 Dear Southern Tier creme brûlée beer,
Although you may not be the most drinkable beer of all time, you sure did work some magic on my salted caramels.
 Dear Dad,
Happy Father's Day & 50th Birthday!
Thanks for raising me right (by taking me to my first brewery at the ripe age of 6 months)
 Dear PBR,
You've now got some competition for the most hipster beer of all time.
 Dear Dad,
So glad I got to spend your birthday AND father's day with you.
I always knew I was your favorite :)
 Dear Hypnotic Donuts,
Please don't ever stop being so darn perfect.
Your Jim's chicken sandwich has singlehandedly changed Dad's life.
(Not pictured, but just imagine: crunchy fried chicken on a toasted syrupy donut with siracha)
Dear Mexican Sugar,
I think it's safe to say your mimosa bar is the freshest thang in town.
Guava, passionfruit, mango combo? 
Yes please!
 Dear Dad, Josh, and Taylor,
Happy Birthday.
For the 99th time.
 Dear previously mentioned beer sea salted caramels,
You make a great dinner.
Dear cute, hipster little baby Josh,
I'm glad you were born, bro.
 Dear Mimi (Josh's grandmother),
Thanks for saving these items from Josh's first birthday.
I can't wait to use them at our future, imaginary kiddo's first birthday party.
 Dear Emporium Pies + Sweetwater Beer (that dad smuggled across the border),
I don't think there's anything that could have made the birthday boy happier.
 Dear Josh's new "one selfie minimum" rule,
You are the worst rule and I hate you and you make my photos look like they were taken on a Motorola RAZR.
 Dear most thoughtful friends Signe & Chad,
We  can't thank y'all enough for the sweet "going away but come back soon" package you gave us.
I think it's fair to say we now have all the essentials for a European vacay, including 20 pesos and face masks (we don't want no SARS, ya hear?)

Happy Friday, folks!

Disney World {Part 3}

Jun 17, 2014

Sorry for leaving y'all hangin.
I know you were waiting on the edge of your seats for my final Disney post, right?
I'm not gonna lie, I honestly forgot about the fact that I never posted it.
Anyways, here are Part 1 and Part 2 of our Disney vacation in case you missed it.
Part three is basically the part of Disney you despise as a child, but adore as an adult:
Magic Bands.
Did I already talk about how great these things were?
. . . I had to get an action shot of Mikey and his magic band.
These things were pretty darn convenient.
They acted as your park pass, hotel key, credit card, and fast pass.
All you have to do is put "mickey to mickey" and make it light up.
Before we left, I did ample research on the best treats and drinks of each country in Epcot.
One popular activity to do in Epcot is "drink around the world."
I'm fairly certain we drank our way around the world, but we also ate our way around the world, probably a few times.
It's her fault.
Our favorite country:
We actually had dinner at Canada's Le Cellier steakhouse twice.
Well, once was lunch.
As incredible as the food was, if you have a meal plan, I wouldn't recommend eating there for lunch.
Poutine + steaks + icewine + dessert + noon = nap time
. . . but back to the icewine.
Ice wine is a popular Canadian dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine.
Super sweet, but super good.
I recommend trying the ice wine flight.
Another one of our favorite stops was the Rose & Crown pub in England.
Although I've never been to England, it felt mighty authentic.
Did you know that in order to work at a particular country of Epcot, you have to actually be from that country?
Another recommendation (if you need yet another midday snack) is the school bread at the Kringla Bakery in Norway.
This falls in the category of a classic Disney treats, right next to Dole Whips and turkey legs.
We picked up a few on the way through the park (in an attempt to use up our extra snack credits on our meal plan) and the leftovers made for a truly great breakfast on the ride to the airport the next morning.
Another classic Disney treat is the Mickey pretzels.
At Magic Kingdom (in Fantasyland) we even came across some cream cheese stuffed Mickey pretzels.
Drinks we don't recommend getting (although you probably should get them both to just experience the weirdness):
"Frozen" beer in Japan.
It was stupid.
Basically, a beer with "frozen" foam on top.
I'll give you a B for effort.
The Beverly 
It tastes absolutely terrible and makes for the ultimate prank.
Club Cool allows you to sample popular sodas from all over the world.
There is one particular soda, The Beverly, which is supposedly all the rage in Italy (although I don't believe that for one second).
The last time we were at Disney, my cousins and I each took turns running up to different family members (and even strangers) exclaiming how great the beverly drink was and how they must try it immediately.
It was the highlight of our trip to watch the excited look on their face turn to utter disgust.
So, naturally, this trip we had to prank Josh (the prankster of all pranksters) with THE Beverly.
Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of his beautiful face and his much less beautiful reaction.
The sights around Epcot were mighty picturesque, particularly at night.
Italy was my favorite.
I had so many flashbacks to our time in Italy in college. 
I really failed at getting any great quality photos, but for the record, the Christmas decorations were the cutest at Epcot.
Seeing the holiday decorations and traditions for each country was really wonderful.
Also, each night a different celebrity would read the Christmas Story in the Candlelight Processional accompanied by a choir and orchestra.
Mom was really into this (and apparently so was everyone else in the park because the lines were insane, people would literally wait hours to get seats).
While we were there Trace Adkins (woohoo for Webster Parish) and Steven Curtis Chapman were the honorary narrorators.
Recently, Epcot has decided to step up it's game when it comes to the rides.
At the time we were there, Soarin' was by far the most popular ride at Disney (according to wait times at least).
We only rode it once, and thank goodness for our fast passes, because I'm not quite sure I would be willing to wait in line two hours for that again.
Now, don't get me wrong, the experience of flying over California in a hang glider was incredible.
The sights (and smells! sorry for the spoiler) were so neat!
If not for the feet dangling above you, or the vomiting people around you (kidding) you could truly be convinced you were flying over California.
Other rides that were just as brutal as I remembered as a child were Ellen's Energy Adventure and Living with the Land.
Okay maybe Living with the Land wasn't as bad as I remembered it.
. . . now that I'm all grown up and can appreciate adult things like farming and produce.
Ellen's Energy Adventure = nap time
Other Epcot rides that we loved (or maybe it was just me) were:
The Seas with Nemo and Friends 
Captain EO starring Michael Jackson (a 3d movie, basically) 
. . . oh and Test Track, of course.
Which wasn't near as cool as I remember it.
Whatever happened to the extreme heat/ extreme cold part?
We capped off our final night with dinner at Mexico's La Hacienda and caught the firework show over the lake.
(Although some random kid's Pikachu doll got the best seats in the house for the show)
If you are in Mexico, you must get either the blood orange margarita or the avocado margarita.

I can't say enough great things about our resort, The Boardwalk.
Ideal location, super clean, great staff, wonderful restaurants and so darn cute.

Did I already mention how great Kouzzina was?
It's proximity to our hotel room was a good thing and also a very very very bad thing.
We actually considered going twice, for dinner and brunch.
As hard as it was to leave the happiest place on earth, it was somewhat bittersweet realizing that the next time we return will most likely be with diaper bags and strollers in tow. . .

Nicole's Bachelorette Weekend

Jun 12, 2014

A few weeks ago one of my favorite girls in the world got married.
She had a absolute dream wedding on a plantation in Natchez (more on that coming later!)
Photo by Three Nails Photography
The most important part about any wedding is the bachelorette party, right?
Thanks to Liz, Maid of Honor extraordinaire, we were able to throw the baddest of ass bachelorette party (worst of ass? most bad of ass?) for our girl.
We surprised her with a weekend in Texas, starting off with a night in Austin followed by two nights in the cutest city in the south: Gruene.
In Austin, we stayed at The Residence Inn, which was an ideal location . . . two blocks from 6th street.
Side note: They also had a nightly happy hour for the guests with free wine, beer, and apps. 
As soon as the bride arrived, we were ready to celebrate (with shots in hand).
. . . wedding cake shots, to be exact

Mary Catherine planned a scavenger hunt, with some pretty brilliant tasks.
(You can find more of her custom party scavenger hunts and pub crawls on her Etsy shop StudioFourty60!)
Not many of the pictures from the scavenger hunt deserve the glory of making it to the interwebz.
. . . except for this one, I mean, just take a look at this wee little man.
We had high hopes of finishing off the night in the karaoke cab, but apparently he chose to drive some "really rich people" instead of us.
So whatever.
Regardless of that garbage, it's true Austin, we fell madly in love with you.
You know the night was successful when the bride is on the ground from laughing too hard.
Oh also, I can't forget to brag on how our sweet little bride absolutely spoiled us with hangover survival kits AND TORY BURCH FLATS.
Just saying.
Friday morning we nurtured our little baby hangovers with nothing but the best: diabetes with a side of Gorgough's donuts.
Left: Fat Elvis {Peanut butter icing, bacon, grilled bananas & honey}
Right: Mother Clucker {fried chicken strips with honey butter}

Austin treated us oh so very well.
We gathered ourselves (somewhow) and made the 45 minute drive west to the sweet town of Gruene.
We stayed at the Gruene Homestead Inn, which is where David proposed to Nicole this time last year.
It is a quaint little bed and breakfast in a good location, oh, and it's SO darn cute.
Side note: If you are interested in booking a room here, just be aware that they typically require a two night minimum.
To start off our day in Gruene we went to The Grapevine to experience their daily wine tasting.
The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable, and they will definitely point you in the right direction when it comes to buying a bottle (or two) of wine.
The weather couldn't have been more perfect for us to enjoy some wine in their well shaded, so cute garden.
Have I mentioned Gruene is so darn cute?
Following our wine tasting, we walked right across the street for dinner at Gristmill.
If you can, try to get a seat on the patio overlooking the Guadalupe River.
It's shady, breezy, and they have onion rings the size of your face.
You pretty much have to go.
We returned from dinner to surprise Nicole with a little lingerie shower.
Margarita cupcakes!
My aunt made these for my cousin's bachelorette party a few years ago and I fell in love. 
You can find her recipe here.
Side note: There is tequila in the cake AND the icing.
Are you drunk just looking at it?
You were warned.
We played some games, Nicole opened her gifts, and then we donned our plantation gowns for a night out on the town.
You are probably looking at this photo thinking "oh cool another typical, cheesy fake laughing pic"
This is a legitimate laughing pic.
We asked a random passerby to take our photo, and he just so happened to be a super sloppy, but very kind drunk.
His last words before snapping this pic were "You gals look like the balls of the belle!"
Exactly the look we were going for, sir.
Mary planned another game for the night, a pub crawl around New Braunfels.

For more great custom party pub crawls, go check out StudioFourty60 y'all! 
Gruene, it's just so darn cute, remember?
We made our way to stop number one, Pour Haus
. . . and then we never left.
We actually loved it so much, we came back Saturday night.
So much for the pub crawl.

We can't quite remember if there was a winner or not in the Pub Crawl, but that's kind of the point, right?
Saturday morning, we started the day off right with some Coopers barbecue.
Once we were stuffed to the brim, we donned our bikinis, loaded up the ice chests, and hopped in the river for 2398439284 hours of toobing down the Guadalupe River.
We used the rental company Rockin R.
They are located literally right down the hill from the Gristmill, so the location is ideal if you are staying in Gruene.
You "put in" right in front of Gristmill, and depending on the water levels you can experience 2-4 regions of rapids.
At the final point their bus will pick up you and your tubes and return you to your car.

The river wasn't nearly a cold as we expected (besides, after a few drinks, I don't even remember the water having a temperature)
Somehow we managed to collect ourselves enough to recuperate, shower, and look presentable enough for another night at Pour Haus.
We just really loved that place.
We could not have had a more perfect weekend in Texas.
We had an ideal group of fun-loving, laid-back girls who kept each other laughing excessively.
We experienced excellent weather, ate some incredible food, and absolutely spoiled our bride with so much love.
There is genuinely nothing better than a weekend with your best friends.
  . . . only 140 days until we get to do it all over again in Vegas!
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