Thursday, April 28, 2011

Creative Exploits

     So, besides getting creative in the kitchen (in case you haven't heard, I'm cooking a new main dish every day for a year).  I have also been trying my hand at various sewing projects and crafts around the house.  I think I'm finally ready to start sewing baby things too, can't wait to get that started!  In fact, we just got our income tax return today so I feel validated going to buy the stuff to do it! Anyway, here are some pictures to show you what I have been keeping busy with over the past 6 months.
     First, I made some curtains for our humongous window in the bedroom.  Not only do they block out the hotel-esque light that comes through the blinds from the complex parking lot at night, they also look really cute and add much needed color to our room!  I had fun combining masculine and feminine and coming up with curtains that would match all 3 different bedspreads.  Polka dots on top, stripes on the bottom.

     At the same time I was working on the curtains, I also sewed and decorated a Christmas stocking for Jackson.  My aunt sewed my entire family stockings years ago and I wanted to make one for Jackson to match.  I learned a lot of lessons and it's not perfect but I think it still turned out pretty cute.  Note the cowboy snowman. 

There was a lot of detail work that went into it.  I used cowboy ornaments to decorate a little wooden snowman that I painted.  Added buttons, used ribbon for the scarf, and cut out fabric for gloves.  Take a closer look at the cowboy boot turned stocking.  It's my favorite part! It was so satisfying to glue those presents and candy canes in! So cute!

Next, I created fabric wall hangings for the big empty wall above our bed.  I bought 1x2 inch pieces of wood, had my dad help me cut them down to equal sizes with his electric saw table then I used a hammer, wood joining nails, wood glue, and regular nails to construct a frame with a flat face.  I then neatly folded fabric around it and used hot glue and nails to secure the fabric on.  It was a cheap project and very satisfying to add some more color and pattern to our room.  And I only got yelled at from a neighbor once for all of my hammering.  

Here's the overall effect in our room: 

About a month ago my aunt came up to Austin and helped me on my t-shirt quilt.  I started it a year and a half ago but have never made a quilt before and didn't know how to do it.  So, my aunt instructed me on how to pin it and together we got it pinned.  Who knew pinning a quilt was an all day affair?!  It was a terribly painful day doing all of that up and down form the floor.  By the end of the day I was holding back tears and shouts of pain because my back hurt so badly.  Never again will I do a project that requires extensive work on the floor while pregnant! But hey, the t-shirt quilt turned out great considering all of it's imperfections and mistakes I made when I was putting it together without any help! 

Last but not least, my sister and I made aprons together recently.  I'll post her modeling the one she made.  You'll have to wait to see me in mine because it looks pretty silly awkwardly hanging over my big belly.  Doesn't quite fit the way it should!  My sister and I used the same main pattern, hers is just a lime green and mine is what I call 70's green.  She used black and white polka dots, I used brown and white.  I think they turned out pretty cute though and not bad for making up our own pattern! 

And that's it.  Now it's time to make cute baby stuff! If you have any great ideas, feel free to share them! 

Friday, April 22, 2011

It snowed in Texas!

No, not recently.  Don't worry, it's like 93 every day this week.  And I'm not even sure if I've seen moisture hit the ground since it snowed back in February.  We are in such a terrible drought (worst one in 45 years... and it just keeps going.  We're praying those wildfires stay away from Austin and San Antonio!)  Anyway, I've lived in central Texas for a good 11 years of my life and have never seen snow that actually stuck on the ground.  I figured I'd add a few posts to share some of the fun we've been having pre-blog creation.  So, the first week of February was a COLD one.  Temperatures dropped to the teens and it brought back nightmares of winter in Provo.  However,  with all of the cold, it actually snowed and stuck twice in one week!  And the snow didn't melt by mid-afternoon, it stuck around for a few days!  An incredible feat for central Texas.  On February 4, 2011 I woke up and just KNEW that it had snowed.  Had this feeling.  So, I peek out the window, give a squeal of delight, and run out to our balcony.  Here's what I saw:
     I dragged Jackson out of bed and made him go on a walk with me.  Snow is not his favorite thing, but he loves me so he humored me.  He couldn't go to work anyway, Texas is not equipped to make frozen roads safe.  In fact, they are so wise that they managed to put salt down the night before which melted the ice that was already formed but then all that snow and previously melted ice just refroze on the roads, even worse than before since they had melted it first!  (Even when Jackson did go into work around noon he almost died like 3 times from other drivers)  Here's what the roads were like everywhere (in Provo driving on snow wasn't too big of a deal, but here, it's not snow, it's ice.  Everywhere.) 
Anyway, I enjoyed the excuse to put on my boots, tried to make sure my husband wouldn't freeze too bad (he has no winter gear, no coat, no nothing.  Just a hoodie.  It's an unfortunate tale of how that came to be, but he was a trooper) and we headed down the sidewalk of Lakeline Blvd. 
Early on, Jackson tried to shove me to make me slip.  I had a good laugh when I stayed upright and he was the one that took the fall! 

    This picture is especially cool because it looks like he's doing some crazy matrix move!  After I finished laughing at him, I helped him up.  Later, he did manage to make me fall (being the kind husband that he is, he didn't let me take the fall full force but, rather caught me on the way down and let me fall gently to the concrete. I didn't get nearly as wet as he did!  

We enjoyed our short walk down our road and I got my snow fix for the year. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Saturday at the Park

     This past Saturday we went to Zilker park near downtown Austin.  One of Jackson's very good friends from high school was visiting us and so we took her to see some evidence of Austin's incredible urban planning.  We're only 90 miles from our parents' houses but I'm amazed at how different Austin is from San Antonio.  San Antonio is home and we love it but I just LOVE how active Austin is.  We have 20 miles of biking and running trails basically right outside our front door.  There are lots and lots of spacious parks with creeks, rivers, and lakes galore.  It makes me anxious to have this baby and have my body back to take on some of those trails!  (The baby can come too of course... I would just rather push him in a stroller than have an awkwardly large belly and loose muscles!)
     We began by checking out the Botanical Gardens in Zilker Park.  Unfortunately, flowers were hard to come by, and the shrubbery and landscaping looked a bit overgrown and the ponds were surprisingly dirty and we felt bad for the fish in there.  So, we do not recommend the Botanical Gardens in Zilker Park, but I do recommend taking a break from walking in this chair:

     From here, we ran into the Townlake trail which goes straight through downtown but hugs the lake the entire way.  I can't wait to run and bike on it in the Fall.  First though, I want to try out the kayak rentals!  I love boats and I especially love kayaks, there are few activities better than enjoying a day on the river or lake, exploring at your own pace and jumping in the water when it gets too hot.  
     Jackson Allie, and I enjoyed the view before heading off to our picnic lunch. 

     We enjoyed a relaxing day at the park and are excited to return to swim, kayak, hike, and bike!  Luckily, we have a park with similar options right by our house.  However, this one has an urban feel that makes it even more fun.  It was great for me to get to know Allie and she was a wonderful guest to have.  We hope she visits again! 

Monday, April 4, 2011

On the Ranch

     This past weekend we drove 140 miles south to Uncle Tommy's ranch.  He has 130 acres, cows, horses, the tank (a pond), fish, more dogs than I can count, chickens, and plenty of wild rabbits.  We arrived around 9:30 PM Friday night and spent the evening on the back porch with guitars and singing.  Uncle Tommy is quite the country musician and we enjoy listening to him play (we REALLY wanted him and his band to play at our wedding reception but it didn't work out).  As we sat on the back porch, it sounded like pigs were joining in with the music.  I wondered if they had pigs in the brush behind us but didn't ask for fear of sounding silly.  Turns out they don't have pigs.  Just TONS of very LARGE bullfrogs!  I had no idea bullfrogs could sound like full grown pigs.
     The next day we slept in and then ate some delicious peppered bacon with eggs and toast and then Jackson and I headed out to the tank to go fishing.  I haven't been fishing in at least 12 years.  Luckily Jackson knows what he's doing and taught me the basics.  As we walked down there Jackson told me to watch my step for rattlesnakes.  Earlier in the cabin I had been shown lots and lots of rattlesnake skins hanging on the wall.  3 of them had been killed last week.  The snakes were all at least 3-4 feet long.  As we walked out there I felt a little overwhelmed at having to watch my step for rattlesnakes, cow pies, AND try to keep an eye on all of the bullfrogs that were entertaining us with their high pitched screeches before jumping into the water to escape us.
     Jackson discovered his old boat that was docked at the tank.  It looks like it has seen better days:

     Jackson baited up his line with some chicken to attract the catfish and I put some corn on mine to attract the perch.  The perch were biting like crazy, we could have caught at least 20 of them.  But, after I caught the first one, I decided we should leave them alone.  They were too small to be worth the trouble of cooking them.  So, we threw mine back.  After some time, Jackson had a good tug on his line and he reeled it in.  As he brought it up out of the water he saw that he had caught a catfish that weighed at least 1.5-2 pounds.  He was so excited!  Unfortunately, as he reeled it in, the fish hit the dock and was knocked loose!  Sadly, I didn't even get to see the fish because at the same time a bunch of the horses had come down for a drink and being the horse lover that I am, I was distracted watching them instead of my husband and his great catch. 

     Jackson was a great teacher and I learned all sorts of things about fishing.  Who knew there was more to it than just throwing your line out there and reeling in the fish? 

     Here's the bass that I caught.  This one was really exciting to me.  But, it wasn't big enough to keep so I threw it back to fatten up some more.  Yes, I actually grabbed it's lower lip and tossed it back.  Maybe next time I'll actually unhook the fish I catch too.  This time, I left that to Jackson and Aunt KK. 

    After an afternoon of fishing and getting really bad sunburns, we ended the day at a barn yard bbq for a cousin's wedding shower.  I met lots and lots of family and further impressed my husband with my name memorizing skills.  
   Sunday afternoon we had a big family fish fry.  It was so nice of everyone to come over just because we were in town.  The catfish was delicious as were all of the sides! (Especially the peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!) 

     Just to prove the immense name learning task I had, here's all the people I can remember meeting:  Aunt Sherri, Aunt Susan, Aunt Mary, Aunt Linda, Aunt KK, Uncle David, Uncle Richard, Uncle Tommy, Uncle Patrick, cousins Brittany, Pauline, Kayleen, Sherman, Richard, Daniel, Will, Brian, Daisy, Erin, Taylor, Jake, Jennah, Charlie, and Edna.  Also, cousin's kids: Adelle, Claire, and Bailey.  There are also 1 or 2 uncles that I can picture but can't name and one cousin whose face I can also picture but can't name.  
     Count it up. That's 30 people!  And that's only who I remember.  I remember meeting lots of other people at the BBQ too, but I only have faces for them.  Here's a picture I snapped of Uncle David: 

     Jackson and I weren't wearing the cowboy boots and cowboy hats like so many of the Calame's but we still fit in just fine.  It was a beautiful afternoon with a nice breeze and plenty of time to visit with family, eat good food, and enjoy the scenery. 

     Before heading back to Austin, Sherman gave us a tour of their property, as well as Uncle David's adjoining property.  While driving around, Jackson spotted a rabbit and shot it.  Sherman finished it off before throwing it in the truck.  It was my first time to see an animal shot.  I handled it pretty well although as of yet I have no interest in doing the deed myself.  We took the rabbit back and gave it to the dogs.   Just helping to keep the food chain in place, I guess.  Either way, Jackson's shootings skills impressed me.  

     It was a fantastic weekend.  Not only was it great to get away and relax, but it was a very important trip for me.  It was really nice to finally meet the Calame family, only some of whom I had met for only a few moments at our wedding reception.  It meant a lot to me to meet the family whose name I have taken and whose name my children will carry.  We're grateful to Uncle Tommy and his family's hospitality this past weekend!