our yearly date day in austin

our texas christmas our texas christmas our texas christmas our texas christmas our texas christmas our texas christmas our texas christmas our texas christmas We go to Texas once a year, and (almost) every time, Ben and I sneak away for a day trip to Austin. It usually consists of checking out their local vintage clothing shops to find some shirts for Ben, a walk through Uncommon Objects, lunch with one of Ben’s buddies (this time at South Congress Cafe), and then dinner with just the two of us. This time we also visited Austin City Life (we wanted to check out a local church in case we moved), meandered through some local antique malls, and had dinner at Uchiko.

First off, if you’re ever in Austin, get the crab enchiladas at South Congress Cafe. They were absolutely delicious. While we mostly just go to look at the curiosities at Uncommon Objects, I did get a little wooden cheese box for a project. The highlight of the day though, besides getting some one on one time with Ben, was feasting at Uchiko. Ben’s friend had told us about this place a few years ago, but our first thought, “Sushi?! In Texas?! We live in California, I think we’ll pass.” But man oh man, nothing could prepare us for the amazing culinary experience that awaited us at Uchiko.

We weren’t sure if we wanted to go there for dinner, so we didn’t make reservations (reservations are a must at this place). Last minute, we say, “Why not?!” and head there soon after they opened for dinner. There was an hour+ wait, but the bar was open, and we still would be served the full menu there, so that’s what we opted for. Plus, we got a cozy little spot on the corner, so it felt quite intimate.

The bartenders were so attentive, considering we weren’t at a regular table, it still felt like we had their complete attention when we needed. We weren’t sure what we wanted, but we decided to order a few things from their “sake social” menu (happy hour) and then almost everything from their sushi menu (except one or two). We kind of went to town, and each dish they brought out was absolutely delectable. Ben was feeling intoxicated, and we didn’t even have any alcohol! Seriously. He swore they put drugs in the food or something. Each slice of fish was like butter and there was such creativity in each of the dishes. Things you wouldn’t think to pair together, blended so well, and was like a party in your mouth. Ben and I stuffed ourselves silly! And even though I was as full as can be, I still ordered dessert and ate the whole thing by myself because dessert was just that amazing too. If you ever make it there, get their brussels sprouts and try everything on that sushi menu (and get dessert too)!

It’s a really nice place, and while it’s probably not practical to be ordering sushi there every week (at least not for us), it’s definitely worth the splurge. Plus, Ben and I aren’t ones to go out for date nights weekly or even monthly, so we are okay splurging on special dates like this once in awhile. Sometimes our motto is “Go big or go home,” only sometimes though (like once a year). That motto for sure gets applied to our gardening projects. Anyhow, it’s good to be able to have some time to enjoy each other and treat ourselves out! We loved it so much that we left with a Uchi cookbook and I’m definitely going to try to recreate some of the dishes.

See some previous visits to Austin here and here.

 

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winter storm frona changed our plans

winter storm frona winter storm frona winter storm frona winter storm frona Things are slowly getting back to normal here after Winter Storm Frona threw our plans off a little bit. We took off from San Antonio, Texas for home early morning New Year’s Eve, but an hour out and we hit traffic. No one was moving, then our car died. Oye! Ben and I tried pushing it to the side (it’s 25 degrees F outside), and someone saw and offered to find jumper cables from another car. They came back with jumper cables, and did all the attach here and attach there stuff, and our car started. Phew!

Traffic was still stalled and there didn’t seem to be any police activity going on, so Ben braved the weather and walked up half a mile to figure out what was going on. Turns out, a large truck was crossing the bridge, but since it iced over, started to skid and just stopped. Thus, everyone else behind them just stopped. Once Ben relayed the message to some of the cars ahead of us, things started moving until another truck stopped, so we were stuck again. We were talking to the Fedex guy next to us, and word was that all the roads, not just the bridges, were iced up ahead. After contemplating a few things (and praying together), in the end, we thought it best to turn back around to San Antonio.

Seven and half hours later, we were back at his mom’s house. We were exhausted since we had woken up at 3:30am, so we ate lunch and took a nap. Once we woke up, Ben studied the weather and traffic reports online, and we were glad we made that decision to go back to SA. We left everything in the car because we didn’t want to unpack all the junk we put in, so we lived out of a little bag and one change of clothes. Though we pretty much stayed in our pajamas the whole time.

The following days the weather got worse, so we were happily stuck in San Antonio for a few more days. Ben took care of work stuff, I got through most of my emails, and the girls got more Spanish lessons in with their grandma. Our usual NYE plans were changed, but we were with family safe and sound, so we had lots to be thankful for. Anyway, all that to say, we never made it home until about 1am Sunday morning (We left Texas at 6am Saturday morning), and here we are.

We had a wonderful time in Texas. I was able to get some girl time in with his sister, Ben and I went on a couple dates, I even got alone thrift shopping time, and of course lots of family time with jokes and home movies. I’m still trying to get the house back in working order, as we purge through the toys to make room for the new ones they got, and of course unpack and put away all the clothes.

The pictures above were from Saturday when Frona moved onward, and we were finally able to make it westward. She left Texas looking quite beautiful with the dust of snow and ice, though it was very sad to see the many overturned and stranded vehicles on the side. I think Frona is hitting the east now, so I’m hoping you all there are staying warm and safe!

 

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yummy snow monster

33 birthday birthday things birthday things birthday things birthday things birthday things birthday things Though I’m married to a dietitian, who is excellent at practicing what he preaches, he so sweet to indulge my sweet tooth desires. It’s all about moderation, right?! Well, one of my birthday requests was to try the dessert place Snow Monster in Orange County, so we made the trek out to Westminster (there is also one in Huntington Beach). My friend had shared a picture on instagram of this place a few weeks back, and it looked so good! I immediately texted Ben the picture and added it to my birthday request.

We ordered the taro and green tea shaved ice in a large (with strawberries and mochi as sides), and a pistachio macaron ice cream sandwich with Thai tea ice cream. Oh goodness, they were all so yummy. The girls loved the taro shaved ice, but they weren’t quite as fond of the green tea and said it looked like boogers. HA! True couldn’t have the macaron because she’s allergic, but the other girls loved that too. Heck, even Ben liked the shaved ice, and he rarely gets wowed by desserts. My favorite was the macaron ice cream sandwich; that was bomb diggity bomb. One of the coolest things to them were the plastic spoons that changed color when dipped in the cold desserts. The girls were all, “Oooooh! Magic!!!”

I’d like to go back and try some other flavors, so maybe we will just have to plan more trips to Orange County soon. If you find yourself in the area, I highly recommend a stop to try it!

 

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in a corn maze

lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze lost in a corn maze Pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and apple picking, it’s the must-do list of the fall season, right?! If you’re in SoCal, I think the Cal Poly Pomona corn maze is the best one I’ve seen in a couple years. Their pumpkin patch is usually pretty awesome, but we went just a week after they opened, and they were already sold out. Bummer for us because their pumpkins are reasonable and the whole field is a nice spot for family pictures. We noticed they had a corn maze, so we decided to still stick around. We went to one in Temecula a couple times, but this one just felt much more legit. Just like at the apple orchard, once in, the girls took off running. Of course, they asked first, and we gave permission with a few restrictions to abide by. We didn’t want to risk losing one on the patch, oh what a nightmare that would be.

Anyway, the girls just loved roaming (and running) through the rows and rows of cornstalks. We could have spent a much longer time in there, but the sun was going down, and some of the girls started complaining about needing to use the restroom. After they wore themselves out running through the rows, we headed out. We never found the end of the maze, so we ended up sneaking through rows to get out. Oh well!

It’s feeling much more fall-like here, so the sweaters are (finally!) coming out. This weekend it’s even predicted to be in the mid-60s and rain, so I’m really hoping the SoCal weather sticks to that forecast. We coincidentally all matched that day, but I guess I’ve just been into blues lately. True’s dress looks denim, but isn’t, and I appreciate when a dress doesn’t need to be ironed. If it were in my size, I’d wear it. True and Brave are both wearing sweaters from the boy section of Old Navy, even Glow’s high-tops are from the boy section too. Their boy stuff have lots of things that girls could totally rock! I’ve always loved grandpa sweaters for myself, so it’s cute to see teeny versions on my girls. Keep it cool California, we wanna bundle up a bit!

on me: dress, handmade (see here). boots, swedish hasbeens. necklace, gift from my sister-in-law. on true: faux-denim dress, grandpa cardigan, and leopard sneakers, c/o old navy. necklace, made by true. on brave: patchwork denim and marled cardigan, c/o old navy. slip-ons, shoebuy. necklace, made by brave (see here). on soul: denim skirt, denim jacket, and leopard flats c/o old navy. shirt, holt and luluon glow: dress and high-tops, old navy.

This post is sponsored by Old Navy. I’m thankful for your continuous support of this space and the brands I partner with. 

 

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exploring singapore: marina bay sands hotel

singapore singapore singapore singapore singapore singapore singapore singapore singapore singapore singapore singapore singapore The Marina Bay Sands Hotel deserves its own post. It’s an impressive building and currently the most expensive in the world. You get near it and your jaw drops at how expansive it is. There are three (tall!) towers and what looks like a ship on the top. On our last day, Ben, Abby, and I ventured all the way up. When I say venture, it means we paid a nice fee to have an elevator quickly take us to their Sky Park.

Once you get to the top, you have to pause to catch your breath, especially if you’re afraid of heights. You’re just in awe of the gorgeous view and how extremely high up you are. Then you get close to the glass ledge, and you get a little freaked out when you look down. If your imagination starts going wild, like mine was, you slowly inch your way back to the center. Ben couldn’t even get himself to the ledge, and I needed to coax him for the pictures. We planned our trip to the top right around sunset, so we could we enjoy our last evening in Singapore by having a bird’s eye view of this special country. The view was absolutely breathtaking and it was the best way to spend our last evening there. We didn’t ride the Singapore Flyer in favor of spending our money to go to the top of the MBS, and I’m glad we made that decision.

One thing we really wanted to do was to go to the infinity pool of the hotel, but you have to be a guest at the hotel to go. We looked up what one night might be, and yeah… not in the budget. We didn’t want to go that badly.

The hotel also puts on an impressive light show in the evenings. While we were on the Sky Park deck, people were just waiting on the around for it. I’m sure the view from the top would have been beautiful, but we wanted to spend our last few hours in the city eating, so we skipped out watching the light show. Plus, we already saw it a few days prior from the Esplanade Plaza. I’m sure the view from the top was better, but we were still awed by the spectacular light show from where we were.

If you want to read more of our adventures is Singapore, check out the hawker food culture, all the food we atearound town, their plant nurseries, more around town, and their wet markets.

 

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apple picking in julian, california

apple picking in julian If your local, or visiting Southern California, spend an afternoon apple picking in small town, Julian, about an hour east of San Diego, and two hours south of Riverside. There are plenty of apple orchards for apple picking, but you will want to make sure and check their sites online or call ahead because some might already be out of apples and closed for the season. We went to Volcan Valley Apple Farm because they are an organic apple farm and their apple trees are all trellised, so Ben wanted to check that out. They charge $10 for a 5lb. bag.

apple picking in julian apple picking in julian apple picking in julian apple picking in julian apple picking in julian apple picking in julian apple picking in julian apple picking in julian apple picking in julian apple picking in julian apple picking in julian apple picking in julian apple picking in julian apple picking in julian Once the girls set foot in the orchard, they just wanted to take off running. We found an aisle that was free from other pickers and we let them run wild. Soul loved it the most and kept running up and down the aisles. The workers at the farm told us we were free to eat apples as we pick, and boy we made sure to get our fill. I think each of us ate about 4 apples! The kids were loving that so much. You can see True above doing her best impression of Apple Jack (one of the My Little Ponies). The varieties found at this particular orchid were Pippin, Empire, Jonathan, and Golden Delicious. They had other varieties (Gravensteins) that weren’t available yet, but they should be now, and some other varieties (Gala and Fuji) were already done for the season.

We picked a lot of apples. A LOT! Another wonderful thing about this particular apple farm is that since they have dwarf apple trees, there are plenty of low branches for the little ones to pick from. Glow was initially hogging the apple bag, but once it got too heavy for her to carry, she gladly passed it off to us. People were in awe of how many apples we picked! I think we came home with 15 lbs. We put them in the fridge and they have all kept pretty well. It’s been two weeks, and they all still taste absolutely delicious.

After we went apple picking, we went into town and strolled Main Street for a bit. I really wanted to go to the Julian Pie Company because of the reviews on yelp, but they had already closed for the day. I read that their cinnamon ice cream is amazing, so we may have to make another trip back one day. We did end up getting a slice of apple crumb pie from Mom’s Pies (they had pretty good reviews on yelp too), with a side of cinnamon ice cream. Here’s a tip, the pie shops on Main Street have really long lines, but if you go to the ones on the way out of town, you’ll likely avoid the lines.

I would have loved to check out more of the historical sites in Julian, but we were running out of time. This means we will just have to go back again someday.

 

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