Friday, August 28, 2015

{Five Things}

The most adorable Texas earrings from Beth for my birthday! 
The weather in Abilene is still hot, but now I'm getting a few more cool breezes as I sit outside in the morning drinking coffee and reading. It seems like everyone can agree that fall is the best time of the year, and I'm ready for cooler weather. This weekend I'm attending a bridal shower and catching up on some much needed downtime. Happy Friday!

Spicewood Vineyard on Katie's bachelorette weekend. Great wine and a little Spanish practice, too!
Some very close-up time with Jack, my grandparents' sweet dog (one of them, anyway).
Cheese board Mom and I created for my birthday party.

And finally, a reminder that this exists and that Will Ferrell is amazing. (h/t to Katie for sending it.)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Wonderful "Surprise"

I know, you guys. I KNOW. I have been busy and my world is changing and everything is different and blogging has kind of gone by the wayside. Not only have I been all over celebrating two bachelorettes, but I have approx. 123875423 things to do before I move across the pond and zero time to do it. But you don't want to hear about that.

After two lovely weekends in Charleston and then Horseshoe Bay for two friends' bachelorette parties, I found myself in my last week working at the store. It was a bittersweet feeling yesterday, my last day, to realize that I won't walk in there and run to the back to immediately drop the nine bags of food, etc. I brought to work. I won't make a trip down to United to grab lunch or a drink, or have an afternoon of checking things in, which was really just a thing that my coworker and I did while we shared our lives. Even if every moment wasn't all rainbows and unicorns, you tend to forget the bad or weird, and all the good comes into clearer focus. That's how I'll think of Surprises: the place that offered me refuge from the voice that raged in my mind asking me constantly what I was going to do with my life. So as I type I'm grateful and feel somewhat dewy about the place and people I got to know and love.

We had the best visitors.

And the best views (sometimes...)

And the best snacks.

And the best people.*

*I don't have a picture of us, Donna, but thank you.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Keep Austin Awesome

Sunday, I decided to make a quick trip down to the Texas Capital. I haven't really spent much time in Austin, but I've always had a good time anytime I'd been and felt like a jolt of "Texas" before my year abroad. I arrived Sunday and had drinks with my friend Caroline, who ended up being my hostess for the next two days. We had some rose and then headed out to dinner at Z Tejas, a delicious tex-mex place on 6th Street.

On Monday I walked down to Cafe Medici for coffee and some time lost in my current book.

Then I headed out to Mecca, aka BookPeople. The famous book store in Austin has some great events, and though I only browsed their shelves and picked out some titles that I want to read, I could have spent all day in there. I love getting lost in titles and book descriptions, and I only left because it was lunch time and mama was getting hungry. I decided to go to the Whole Foods, which I hadn't been to before and since we know how much I love grocery stores, I was so excited to shop around. Well, I ascended the escalator and didn't even know where to look. There was a very intense cheese section, specialty items from all over the world, a huge nut and trail mix bar, BBQ stand, sushi section and lots of things that I wanted to put in my mouth right away. I thought I would grab some food from their main little pre-made section, but I was extremely overwhelmed. I kept going back and forth trying to decide what I wanted. But it's kind of difficult to listen to your stomach when half of Austin is very assertively walking with purpose to the sandwich station and salad bar while hurrying to get back to the office. I approached the counter with sandwiches, pastas, meat and fish, and told the guy that I was a little overwhelmed. He looked at me very sympathetically and said, "yeah, there's a lot of stuff here." You can say that again.

Though I was kind of enjoying the chaos that is Whole Foods at lunchtime, I wasn't feeling any of it. I bought some delicious-looking hummus, salsa and thai-seasoned cashews and headed to my car. I'm sure when I go again it won't be so ominous and scary, but at the time I felt like Jon Snow about the climb the Wall with no Ygrette there to help me out. I ate a handfull of cashews in the car and felt better. Cashews make everything better.

Moving on. I drove around downtown for a bit and decided to go to lunch at 24 Diner on Lamar. I sidled up to the bar and had an amazing turkey burger and a glass of rose. One thing I've learned throughout all my solo travel is to always eat at the bar. You meet people, get to know the bar tenders, and it's really not as awkward as you'd think. I had time to catch my breath and meet some strangers just passing through.

Later, I met Caroline for dinner at Odd Duck and had a great meal of little bites before we headed to a pub quiz with some of her coworkers/friends. I did lots of pub quizzes in Nicaragua and was happy to be back at it, even though this one was really hard and I only knew a few of the answers. Regardless, it felt like the perfect Austin night: a foodie dinner followed by fun bar activities.

One of our dishes: a twice baked potato with braised goat, cheddar fondue and green tomato.
Caroline decided to take the next day off and we went to the Barton Springs pool. A spring-fed pool within the city limits, Barton Springs is the perfect place to go when temps are in the low 100s. We swam in the cold water, people watched on the grassy knolls, and caught up on life.


So pretty.

As we were driving back into town to change and get BBQ, Caroline suddenly shouted, "Jennabeth! How do you feel about snow cones??" I hadn't had one in ages and didn't exactly know how I felt about them. But she swore that they were a good idea on that hot day, so we pulled into Sno-Beach for some refreshment. Plus, desserts before meals are always a good idea. There's a reason snow cones are a typical American treat. They were so cold and good after our swim and I relished the throwback to childhood. Except for when a bee thought my snow cone was a flower and was really trying his darnest to pollinate it. I screamed "BEE!!" to the amusement of some passersby. I'm turning red just thinking about the embarrassment...

It's all smiles until a bee decides to RUIN YOU.

After a delicious BBQ lunch, we said our goodbyes and Caroline dropped me off at the condo. Driving the long drive home last night, I knew it wouldn't be my last time in weird ol' Austin.