Monday, December 17, 2007

Weekend Festivities

It was fun to wake up to several inches of snow on Saturday morning! As usual, our local weathermen were a tiny bit off in their predictions, so I was surprised to see a winter wonderland of white outside the window. We didn't have to venture out, which I think makes the snow even more enjoyable....watching the snowflakes fall from my warm & cozy spot inside! We don't get the pleasure of snow often in Texas, so I'm thankful a blanket of white arrived during our time in Ohio.

This weekend, we had our family Trim the Tree get-together! Our whole family was together and we had a fun afternoon of appetizers, decorating our tree and making gingerbread houses. I had forgotten just how tempting it is to lick your fingers when they are covered in icing from trying to add the candy decorations to your gingerbread house. I think we all made the mistake of licking out of habit, only to be reminded that royal icing tastes more like the cement it functions as, and less like the sweet goodness decorating our annual tradition of sugar cookies! We'll have to bake up a batch of the yummy icing soon because playing with all of that icing made me hungry for sugar cookies that taste as sweet as they look! It's always fun to see the individual creativity of our family come out in our houses. I think our gingerbread village is a festive addition to the dining room table for the holidays!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Happy Birthday Truman! (and a short house update...)

The last couple of weeks have been busy with taking care of as much post-surgery unpacking as possible & preparing to leave for Ohio, where we are spending the holidays with my family. We are making progress in the process of settling in, but we have plenty of boxes & work waiting on us when we return to Austin! I was hoping to share some pictures of our house before we left (I'm not ignoring your many requests!), but it wasn't exactly photo ready yet! I thought I would share a sneak peak instead. Tru spotted this rug at Bed Bath & Beyond a few weeks ago and it perfectly ties together the colors and style of our kitchen & living area. It has found a spot in front of our kitchen sink. Below is the "inspiration" photo we played with to choose our paint colors from, with the color palette we chose for our kitchen & living room. (You can see some of the blue wall peaking out in the rug photo.) I can't wait to share some actual pictures from our house once we are little more settled. We are really happy with how the colors came out!

Before we left, we received a sweet gift from our realtor, Shannon Williams, as a little housewarming surprise! I headed out to get the mail one afternoon and found this fun gift basket of goodies on our front porch....complete with personalized "We've Moved" postcards with a picture of our house.

Shannon is the owner of Tribella Realty and I would highly recommend her if you are ever looking to buy or sell in the Austin area. She is extremely knowledgeable in her field and cares a ton about helping her clients find the perfect property for their needs. Anyone that can make a tour of 30 houses in two days not a complete chore has to be a fun gal!

Yesterday was my handsome hubby's birthday and we had some fun celebrating!
If you know Truman, you know that he loves to eat and he loves good food. This year's birthday was appropriately filled with yummy eats!

The party started last Friday when some friends in Austin got together for a Celebrate with Chicken Party. Let me tell you, my husband loves him some Popeye's Chicken & biscuits!!! (I guess a year in Nola will do that to you.) We figured a Popeye's buffet was the perfect appetizer to some chocolate cake & ice cream.

We were back in Cincinnati yesterday for his actual birthday and the celebration continued! Two of Tru's most favorite foods are steak & sushi, so we headed to Carlo & Johnny's for a special birthday dinner. It was my first visit to one of Jeff Ruby's steakhouses and we enjoyed the unique atmosphere of this venue, along with some delicious steak! In the late 1940's, the building was a casino with strong Mafia connections, and the decor is reminiscent of that era.

After dinner, we headed back to my parents' home to have dessert with my family. What Tru didn't know is that there was a little dessert party waiting for him at home! My family, grandparents, and some family friends surprised Tru and we enjoyed some chocolate turtle cheesecake & banana cream dessert homemade by sweet mom. (Unfortunately, my camera skills have a LONG way to go before I can even begin to compete with Tru's. Especially on his fancy camera! Since I was manning the camera for the night and everyone scattered at the mention of a group picture, most of the action shots came out blurry, so I don't have any fun people photos to share. Sad...)

I am SO thankful for my husband and what a blessing he is to my life. Yesterday, I wasn't celebrating how old he was, but how wonderful he is! I hope he felt as loved and celebrated as he is! I missed out on sharing in the first 30 years of his life, but I am excited to share all of the future ones together. I hope you had a memorable and fun 31st birthday, babe!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Getting into the Christmas spirit!

Christmas Mosaic

Anyone that knows me knows that Christmas is one of my most favorite times of the year. I love every part of it....Christmas music, celebrating the birth of my Savior, baking & decorating Christmas cookies, peppermint hot cocoa, watching favorite Christmas movies again, decorating the tree, the twinkling lights, wreaths on doors, picking out fun gifts, and especially wrapping them, church on Christmas Eve, driving around to look at Christmas lights....and the list goes on.

Usually, my tree goes up the weekend after Thanksgiving, if not the day after! My favorite Christmas CD's begin their 24 hour play time and I start making my annual Christmas cards. This year though, this midwestern girl is having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. It just doesn't feel like Christmas to me. Since this is my first year living in Texas, where our climate is a little different than Ohio or Colorado, the fact that I was sweating in capris and a t-shirt yesterday has me tricked into feeling like it isn't December at all. And, instead of a beautiful Christmas tree in my living room, there are piles of boxes that haven't yet been unpacked from the move. There is no garland, no ornaments, no snowflake tablecloth, no lights. I haven't even found my Christmas CD's that are still packed away in one of the boxes.

I decided that a little Christmas inspiration was in order! I did a little shopping this afternoon at one of my favorite Austin stores and picked out some fun gifts for some of my sweet friends. I made sure to notice all of the Christmas lights on my drove home from the grocery store this evening. And, I put together a little collage with many of my favorite sights of the holiday season. I hope it puts you in the Christmas spirit too!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Thanksgiving Revisited!

I know, I know, I've been noticeably absent from blogland for the last couple of weeks. Needless to say, things have been a little c-r-a-z-y here at the Lo house! The sad part is that I've had much to blog about, but, no pictures to post with my updates! My camera power cord is still in our room back at the house we were staying at during the transition time, and I haven't had a chance to pick it up yet. My camera battery is completely dead. SO, more pictures of the settling in process will be forthcoming, but I thought it was time to at least give a brief rundown of our recent activity!

We had a good Thanksgiving with the Lo family! This was my second Thanksgiving with Truman's family, but my first Thanksgiving officially being a "Lo"! With all of the busyness going on with both us and Truman's sister and brother in law, we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving in Austin this year. Truman's parents graciously braved the boxes and came from Houston to stay with us for a couple of days. While it wasn't exactly a leisurely visit (we promptly put them to work), we did feed them well on Thanksgiving! My brother in law, Dennis, deep fried our turkey. It was the first time I'd had fried turkey and it was delicious! I can understand why families' try it once and never go back to the roasting method. We had much to be thankful for this year!

The real insanity began on Black Friday. My wonderful and very patient husband humored me and joined in the shopping extravaganza. I was so thankful to have company and some muscle to help! Since we had just moved into our house, we had some basic items that we really needed to purchase. With our move falling so close to the biggest shopping day of the year, we felt the need to take full advantage of all of those discounts! We were up at 3:15 and in the Kohl's parking lot by 4:00. By 11:00 am we had put in a full 7 hour day of shopping and grabbed some *great* bargains at two stores!!! While Truman vows this was his first and last Black Friday excursion, it was well worth it for the significant savings on some necessity items this year!!

My hubby actually had surgery this morning on his collarbone. He broke his collarbone a year and a half ago in an "extreme sledding" accident in Colorado. I know, don't even ask! His collarbone hasn't healed properly, so they went in to shave some of the bone off and look for any other issues. I'm happy to report that the doctor said the surgery was successful. Though Tru is rather nauseous and in some pain, he is fairing as well as can be expected!

In light of his surgery and knowing he won't be able to use his arm to do any lifting or strenuous work for awhile, we had a very full week this last week trying to get things in order around the house. In the process, I seem to have pushed a *little* too hard and woke up with extreme pain in my right shoulder & arm on Thursday night. I basically haven't been able to use my arm for the last two days! But, after some pain meds, heat & a lot of rest, it seems to be improving. With Truman's left arm out of order following his surgery, we make quite a pair right now!

I'm itching to get back to the process of making our house a home. It's still a wasteland of boxes despite significant progress. Does anyone else ever feel like settling in takes a LOT longer than one might expect? I had finally cleared out a significant portion of our living room when Tru picked up a load of belongings from the guest room where we'd been staying...and now, you can hardly walk through the living room again. We do have some fun projects in progress, including refinishing a great piece of furniture I snagged off of Craigslist, that I look forward to posting about soon! I promise more house pictures will be added soon!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Moving Day!

The days have flown by since Tuesday when we closed on the house! We have been insanely busy cleaning, grouting & painting and my body is feeling every one of those squats, swipes & strokes!!! A lot of progress has been made (I'll share more details in a later post!), but there is still much to be done!

Friends from our a-w-e-s-o-m-e community group from Austin Stone moved all of our boxes & furniture from the storage unit into the house yesterday morning!!!! Using their patented assembly line method, they completed the move in about 2 1/2 hours!! And let me tell you, they moved a LOT of stuff. Such a blessing. Since all of my belongings have been in storage since the beginning of March, I can't even tell you how wonderful it was to see them coming into the house. I can't wait to dig into the boxes of fun things that have been packed away!

A friend of Truman's gave us tickets to the UT basketball game tonight. We decided it was a great chance to take a break from the back-breaking house work and enjoy a little down time! I sported my very first burnt orange UT apparel, and I can't even tell you how excited my hubby was to see me in his beloved burnt orange. I'm still not convinced it's my best color, but Tru seems to like it!

Well, just looking at all of the boxes stacked around me makes me tired! Back to work....

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's Official!

The papers are signed and it's official....the house is ours!!!!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Lucky # 13

1 3

The number thirteen is often thought to be unlucky, a bad omen, a number that most people frown upon. Hotels skip the 13th floor. Airplanes don't have a 13th row.

For us though, 13 has become a number for good things. Truman's birthday is December 13th. Amber's birthday is April 13th. Our wedding anniversary is May 13th.

And we found out a few days ago that we will be closing on our new home, our first home together, on November 13th. (Also our 6 month wedding anniversary!) Our closing was originally set for November 15th. Then we received a call requesting to change it to the 13th. How very appropriate!

And so, the 13th it is, and our love affair with the number 13, our lucky number it seems, continues....

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Tour of Fredericksburg

Thanks to a very sweet gift we received, Truman & I were able to get away for a few days to a charming B&B in Fredericksburg, a small historic German town about an hour and a half outside Austin. We stayed at the charming Queen Anne B&B and I would highly recommend it, or any of the other Absolute Charm B&B properties in town. I took full advantage of the huge tub in our cozy room, The Aspen, and we loved the delicious full breakfasts served by the Queen Anne chef each morning!

We had fun exploring the shops along Main Street, relaxing (we both finished a book during our 3 days away!), and enjoying some of the local restaurants.

One of my favorite spots on Main Street was the Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe, tucked into a quaint courtyard just down a flagstone path from the main street.

We stopped by for lunch (the homemade soups & sandwiches are delicious!) and though I had read a review about their amazing desserts, we had no idea what a treat we were in for! The desserts are beyond fabulous. We had the Mexican Chocolate Cake & Dollie Bar our first visit.

We loved it so much that we decided to stop by on our way out of town and pick up a couple of muffins & desserts to go. The Peanut Butter Bar & muffins didn't disappoint. It wasn't until our second stop when we noticed all of the magazine articles framed on the walls around the dessert case. We learned that the owner, Rebecca Rather a.k.a. The Pastry Queen, is quite famous and has been featured in a variety of magazines from People to O(prah) and Southern Living. She also has two cookbooks full of her favorite recipes. If you are ever in Fredericksburg, be sure not to miss this hidden gem just past the white picket fence, along the stone path, off Main Street! Quite honestly, it might be worth the drive just to enjoy some of Rebecca's delectable treats. I'm planning a return visit to try the two-layer chocolate cake topped high with fluffy frosting that I had to pass over this trip!

One of other Fredericksburg Favorites was The Nest, an equally fabulous restaurant where we indulged in one of the best dinners we've ever had. It's fine cuisine at its best, and worth the splurge, especially if you're celebrating a special occasion. It's a few minutes from the main drag, and don't let the cute but simple exterior fool you. I had the filet and it was by far the best piece of steak I've had...and I really enjoy a good steak. It was so tender that it melted in your mouth, a texture more silky than is expected from any steak. My hubby had the lamb and it was also delicious. The presentation was beautiful, but it was far outdone by the taste!

While I enjoyed all of the cute little shops full of cottage character and unique gifts, Truman's favorite was Rustlin' Robs. For those of you that know Tru's other moniker, The Sauce Man, it comes as no surprise that he was a fan of this shop that offers literally hundreds of sauces and dips. What's the best part you ask? They let you sample them all! Even my hubby, lover of all things food & sauce, was a bit overwhelmed by the choices. From salsa and hot sauce to jellies, pretzel or vegetable dips, they have it all. If you ever get the hankering to try a new sauce or have searched high and low for that one dip that you can't find anywhere, you're in luck because Rustlin' Robs even has an online store for those who just can't make it to Fredericksburg. Just don't expect samples!

Just before we hit the road to head home, we stopped by another charming local eaterie for lunch, The Peach Tree. Both a gift shop and a restaurant, what The Peach Tree lacks in value it makes up for in character. I recommend their daily variety of quiche!

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend! After two months of living in the guest room of Tru's cousin's house, it was a needed escape for some time with the just the two of us. I am quite fond of Fredericksburg and know that I'll make a return trip sooner than later! If you're ever passing through Texas or live nearby, I would highly recommend Fredericksburg as the perfect place for leisurely wandering and simple relaxing....the perfect spot for a little getaway, be it for an afternoon or a few day stop.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fall Festivities

Tonight was our community group fall party & pumpkin carving contest.

We attended as a cowgirl, and a nerd. I hope you can guess who was which. I have to say that my hubby is a VERY convincing nerd! ;) It did seem a bit too natural! We joked that if he had arrived to pick me up at the airport in this getup when we first met, it would've been a very awkward evening!!! We actually won the costume contest....but I'm pretty sure that it was Truman that swayed the judges vote! (I had to add the up-close picture so ya'll could fully appreciate some of the little nerdy touches.) I'm pretty impressed that we (well, mostly me) cooked up costumes from our extremely limited suitcase collection of belongings! I was sad however that my cowgirl boots were in storage!!

(Be sure to note my crazy nephew in the background of the picture! Tomorrow night, we'll be passing out candy while he & his brother head out to collect their share!)

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Beginnings & The Quest for a Home

Sometimes the best of intentions never quite make it to reality. Like my blog, for example. After moving to Colorado, I decided to start blogging, and even set up a blog for myself. That was two years ago. There is something daunting about a first blog entry. That blog had exactly zero entries. Not a single one. I’ve decided that it’s time for a new blog. This time, I’m actually going to blog. Really. With friends and family spread across the U.S. and starting a new phase in life, in a new city, I think this really will be a great way to share updates about my life & ministry. I expect this page to be under construction in the weeks to come as I make every effort to make the design more interesting & more me.
Disclaimer: While I would love for you to check in regularly, remember, low expectations! Don’t expect my blog to be the most interesting, humorous, or even insightful blog you read. You’ll probably be disappointed! You can expect it to be real, random, genuine, creative and very Amber.

Many of our friends & family have been asking if we are all settled in. The answer is, not yet. Though I currently own a home, I can’t live in it. The little home that we now own (inherited by me when I married my sweet husband) currently has a lot of potential, but not a whole lot else….except for what we hope was a “formerly” healthy population of fleas, rats & probably a myriad of other pests that were a gift from the 4 guys who rented our house for the last year while Truman was living in New Orleans. They were living in my home instead. A few of them have been fighting eviction, but most have moved on after a visit from our neighborhood Terminix man. Our original plan to deal with the teal tile in the bathroom and the sink that is no longer attached to the wall, the scary “pantry” in the kitchen that has a hole to the outside, the 1946 cabinets that are without form or function, and a few other problem areas that I will refrain from listing, was an extensive renovation. However, after meeting with the contractor and weighing our options, we decided that our little home was going to require more investment than we have the time or ability to put in at this point in our lives. And so, we moved on to plan B…..the property search.

I am thrilled to say that within weeks, we had found “our” first home & were under contract, had accepted a full price offer on our current house (just a few days after we listed it!), and were well on our way to finally having a home to settle into! We are scheduled to close on our new house on Nov. 15th! It is pretty much move-in ready, and let me tell you, we are ready to move in! I’m going to save the interior pictures for after we move in when there are some furnishings inhabiting the large and very bare space. But until then, I will share a couple of the front and the big backyard I’m excited to relax & entertain in. The front could definitely use a little oomph in the curb appeal department, but we’ll work on that as a part of the list of changes to come! All that I will say, is that the inside is so much better than the outside hints at....