Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!

Although today is Halloween, we partied it up over the weekend at our friends' annual party.

We went as the Blue Barracudas from Nickelodeon's Legends of the Hidden Temple and I was very proud  with our DIY skills to pull the costumes together.  The only thing we couldn't find on the cheap were the gold helmets.  As much as I really wanted them to complete the costumes, $17.95 a piece just wasn't in the cards.

I will admit that I was a little sadden by the fact that not everyone at the party knew what our costumes were, but then realized that not everyone had cable growing up.

There were some great eats prepared by Iron Chef Lora (one of our hosts, which I'm sad I didn't get a picture of).

The night was filled with catch up conversations (amazing how quickly time seems to fly between hanging out with friends), shuffle board and flip cup.

There were some cute costumes including protesters, a Christmas tree, Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation.  The winners for best costume were Salt and Pepper (which is so funny because that was going to be our back up idea if we didn't figure out any other costume).

Hope you have a happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 30 - Self-Portrait

Today's the last day of the 30 day photo challenge.  I've had so much fun taking pictures for this and really feel like I've learned a new trick or two with the DSLR camera.

It was a late night at the Halloween party and I was dragging today, so here's a shot of me from last night.

Challenge originally found here, be sure to follow along with the rest of the bloggers and photographers who are a part of the challenge here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 29 - Black & White

Gypsy makes the perfect subject if the picture requires her to do nothing but lay there.

Challenge originally found here, be sure to follow along with the rest of the bloggers and photographers who are a part of the challenge here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Guest Postin' on She Likes Ruffles, He Likes Truffles

I'm so excited to be guest posting today over on She Likes Ruffles, He Likes Truffles!  Head on over there to find the recipe for these tasty pizza bites.

Photo Challenge Days 24-28

The last full week oh the photo challenge, which is sort of sad because it's been so much fun.

Day 24 - Animal

As soon as I saw that it was the day for an animal, I had a mini photo shoot with Gypsy. Her age is starting to show above her nose.

Day 25 - Something Pink

Right after our engagement, Chris and I vacationed at Disneyworld (before a cruise with my family).  These pink tokens are reminders of that awesome trip.

Day 26 - Close - Up

Giving a little close up love to my Aggie ring.  Can't believe it's already been over 6 years since I graduated from there.

Day 27 - From a Distance

Looking down a street, with the highway in the far distance.

Day 28 - Flowers

Not sure if these fall into the category of flowers or plants, but they are a pretty addition to the entrance of our apartment complex.

Challenge originally found here, be sure to follow along with the rest of the bloggers and photographers who are a part of the challenge here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Getting Creative For Halloween

Every year around this time, Chris and I start to ponder what are we going to be for Halloween.  Well that's a little off, we start thinking about it as soon as we get our annual invite to our friends' Halloween party.  In past years we've gone as FedEx Delivery guys and Velma & Shaggy from Scooby Doo.

We try to keep the costumes on the cheaper end, and this year we even DIYed part of ours!  Can you guess what we're going to be?

If you were a child that watched Nickelodeon in the 90s then you might remember a game show called Legends of the Hidden Temple.  It was part physical activity part quiz show and when the teams won temple games they were rewarded with a Pendent of Life.

After ordering shirts online (we can totally wear those after Halloween), I decided that $4 each for the pendents of life would be a waste.  I headed over to Michael's and found a couple of round pieces of wood (they actually are basketballs on the opposite side) for 99 cents each, plus I had a coupon for 40% off.  Using wood stain, paint and ribbon that we had lying around I was able to complete this project for $1.71

Thanks to the powers of google, I was able to find and print the symbol on the medallion and then use the graphic transfer trick that I used for our fingerprint tree to get it on to the wood.

I thought I could just trace one and transfer it to both circles, but sadly that was not the case.  My hand did not thank me after tracing and shading twice.

A little paint later and all that's left is to glue on some left over ribbon.

Sending Chris a picture of my work

Next up were the gloves and elbow pads.  At $7.95 & $9.95 a pair respectively ($35.80 plus shipping), buying them online would not be ideal.  

We headed over to Walmart where we found the gloves in a 2 pack for $1.40 and decided to McGuyer some elbow pads out of black men's socks. And bonus, Chris can wear the 4 left over pairs of socks.  He  stepped in to burn off the edges to keep them from unraveling.

 I'll be sure to snap a picture of our full get up at the party this weekend and share with you on Monday :)

Are you dressing up for Halloween?  If so, what are you going to be?

Monday, October 24, 2011

30 before 30: New Wheels

I wish I was on the Price is Right (again) and could hear those magical words..."A Brand New Car!"

A little bit of background, Chris has had issues with his car since he paid it off last year.  We had to replace the fuel pump 3 times in a little over a year (thankfully we didn't have to pay for the last replacement because those things are expensive!).  We knew we would need to get him a new car, but we were hoping to hold off on that for as long as possible (as in after the house).

Last Wednesday he noticed that his car sounded a little strange, but thought that changing the oil would help out.  He backs out of our garage, on his way to class in the morning, and it dies.  Kaput.  Nothing.  I throw him my spare keys and tell him we'll deal with it later.   When he gets back it was time for a nice tow over to the closest, trusted repair place.

I'm not going to pretend like I know much of anything about cars (minus the basics to get by, thank you AAA for my added protection on the road), but they originally told us the problem was the starter.  I choked down the price and tell them to replace it only to find out later that night that it is in fact the engine.  The Engine!  I pretty much burst into tears when they told us the price to get a new one, or repaired one.  Let's just say it was well over the value of the car.

After I had my moment, we sat down, talked and weighed out our options.  Do we shell out a ton of money for a car that we intended to replace in the next year, or do we bite the bullet and move up the purchase time frame for his new truck?  Well as you can tell from the post title, we went for option 2.

Saturday morning we headed out with my parents and hit up 3 or 4 different dealerships.  We found a very nice pre-owned 2011 Chevy Silverado at the first dealership, but ended up getting a good deal on a 2010 Ford F150 at the same dealership that I purchased my Escape and my dad got his Explorer.  My last experience there was actually easy and somewhat enjoyable.  Sadly, this experience was not.  I hate dealing with a bunch of different people all giving us different prices.  Last time we dealt with the one salesman who gave us a price that could not be beat by the other dealerships we checked out and that was it.  But its done and over with and hopefully this means we won't have to deal with car salesmen for another 5 or 10+ years!

Have you ever dealt with car salesmen?  Did you have a good or bad experience?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 23 - Sunflare

This shot was taken off the side of our balcony. It's hard to see when taking the picture, but I like how the shot turned out with the sun peeking around the building.

Challenge originally found here, be sure to follow along with the rest of the bloggers and photographers who are a part of the challenge here.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Photo Challenge Day 22 - Hands

I'm gonna cheat a little on this one and use a picture taken on our minimoon in San Antonio right after we got married.

I love this shot of our hands and wedding bands.  It's also a little shout out that we've been married for 6 months tomorrow.  Time flies when you're happily married and I can't wait to see what the rest of our newlywed year holds for us!

Challenge originally found here, be sure to follow along with the rest of the bloggers and photographers who are a part of the challenge here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Photo Challenge Days 17-21

Another week, more fun pictures for the challenge!

Day 17 - Technology

My husband is the bigger tech fan with his major in computer science and gaming hobby.

I sometimes laugh at the gamer that I married, never thought I would live with so many systems.

Day 18 - Your Shoes

As you can tell by the looks of it (because they look so wore), I'm a big fan of flip flops and probably wear them more than any other shoe.

Day 19 - Something Orange

There has been a little bit of construction going on near us.  When I saw today's prompt these cones were my first thought.

The cones also remind me of a surprise my roommates left in my room back in college.  Oh the good ol' days.

Day 20 - Bokeh

I had to Google this term because I had no clue what it was.  According to wiki Bokeh is "the blur or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image, or the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light."

I don't really know if I captured it correctly, but I am happy to say that I got to utilize my 50mm f1.8 lens (birthday gift from Chris) to get this shot.  I followed the directions found here and played around with one of our cake toppers until I was satisfied with the soft blur around the mini mes.

Day 21 - Faceless Self-Portrait

I'll admit I was a little lazy on this one. You can't really "see" my face in a shadow, right? :)

Challenge originally found here, be sure to follow along with the rest of the bloggers and photographers who are a part of the challenge here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wine Tastin' In Our Backyard

It's funny how I've lived in this area for 5 years now and have never ventured over to the wineries in Grapevine (which is a short drive from our apartment).  Chris decided to book the Grapevine Wine Tours which included tastings at 3 local wineries and a fabulous Italian dinner.

There is actually only one vineyard that grows grapes, which we didn't get to tour because it closes at 5 pm, sad face :(  The wineries that we did visit, with our group of 12, were all refreshingly different from the next.

We started off at Homestead Winery which is a set of tasting rooms located in a 1890s Texas Victorian folk-style home.

This quaint home was full of Texas hospitality!  Unlike most tastings where you select a handful of wines based on your taste preference, we were able to try as many different wines as our tour time allowed.  This probably wasn't the smartest idea since we had yet to eat dinner, but I loved branching out and trying more dry wines with my usual sweets.

Sweet & Specialty Wines

Dry Wines

The vineyard originated on the family farm in Ivanhoe, Texas so several of the wines today are named for that area.  Our favorite reds were the Ivanhoe Trio (a blend of Petite Verdot, Zinfandel and Ruby Cab), Ivanhoe Knights (a Ruby Cab), and the Homestead Red (Blend of Merlot, Ruby Cab and Pinot Noir).  Chris enjoys the dry reds much more than I do, but I really enjoyed these blends.  

The top white wines at this stop were the Prairie Rose, the Sweet Home Ivanhoe (a Muscat Canelli) and the Moscato.  The specialty, or Piney Woods Country wines, were a hit with some of our tour members but I can't say I was a big fan.

The Blueberry wine wasn't too bad, but the Cherry Chocolates aftertaste reminded me a little of cough medicine.  We selected the Prairie Rose and Ivanhoe Trio to take with us and boarded the bus for the next stop Su Vino Winery which was all decked out for Halloween.

This was our favorite stop of the trip, as evident from the 6 bottles that we left with!  According to their website, Su Vino is the first "custom winery" in Texas with grapes that are grown in a variety of locations and the wines custom made in Grapevine.  They allow guests to participate in the wine making process by bottling, corking and personalizing the labels.  This would be great for wedding favors or Christmas gifts! 

With 6 selections each, Chris and I made sure to share with each other.  While Chris picked from the red wines, champagne and after dinner indulgence, I stuck to the crisp & fresh and summery refreshment sections.  Those summery refreshment wines were AMAZING!  We loved each of those four different wines!  I asked what happens after the summer to these wines, and Jean informed us that they make them year round.  They also have holiday selections, so I knew Chris would go for the Bat Blood.  We might have to come back in December for the Tipsy Reindeer.

 The six bottles we walked out with were:
*Strawberry Blonde - Strawberry White Merlot
*Bat Blood - Halloween Sangria
*Peachy Keen - Peach Apple Chardonnay
*Summer Rain - Green Apple Riesling
*Island Paradise - Kiwi Pear Sauvignon Blanc
*Cheeky Monkey - Banana Pineapple Viognier

With all of these tastings and no dinner, we were eager to get off at our final stop Farina's Winery and Cafe

We had an option of tasting 3 different wines, or one glass of our selection.  I opted for the one glass of the Stella Rose, while Chris went with the smaller tastings.  One of his wines was from Messina Hoff the winery located near College Station, TX which brought back fond memories of my time at A&M.  

For dinner we started off with a tasty Italian salad with pepperoni, green olives, artichokes, kalamata olives & pepperoncini peppers.  I don't know if it was really amazing or we were all just so hungry from all of the wine, but everyone at the table knocked off every last bite of salad.  Chris selected the baked lasagna with a family recipe that has been served in Farina's restaurants since 1951. 

My mouth watering entree was the baked white fish, fresh Basa filet baked in a roasted garlic lime sauce served with grilled asparagus and penne pasta tossed with a pine nut basil pesto sauce.

This was an incredible meal that I could not leave anything behind, it was that good!  After cleaning off that plate, there was no way I could stomach any more food, so Chris enjoyed the Coconut pie on his own.

This tour was definitely not something that we could do every week (it was a little pricey), but was an enjoyable night and I am so glad that Chris suggested it!

Our take aways from the wine tour

Are you a wine fan?  Have you toured any vineyards or wineries in your area?