Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Annelise's Ranch 9th Bday Party

Annelise's 9th bday party on her actual birthday, Saturday, April 25th, at Fellowship Ranch ended up being a GORGEOUS day! We were SO THANKFUL God answered our weather prayers - the severe storms completely cleared just as we pulled in - WHEW!!! The kids had an absolute blast with the paddleboat, barrel train, mule muddin' ranch tours, horse & goat feeding, tree swing, barrel & wagon relay races - JOYOUS!!!

And Saturday evening, with the GRACIOUS gifts of precious friends & family, Annelise saved enough to welcome the American Girl of the Year, Grace, into the family! Happy birthday, my love! Je t'aime!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Houstonian Highlights: Pondicheri & Triple Tree Center

My mom flew in from NC to visit for Annelise's birthday this past weekend. (Dedicated bday post coming!) But first, some Houstonian highlights we shared...

We went straight from the airport to Pondicheri, one of the top-rated restaurants in Houston! It's Indian fusion...and I won't lie, Indian scares me; but Trader Joe's has actually helped me give it a chance. I do not like strong curry or cumin, but I've discovered I can happily handle butter chicken (it's at the ultimate top of my spice threshold) and I LOVE chicken tikka masala & paneer tikka masala! I ordered the Butter Chicken Salad: local greens tossed with crisp lentils, blueberries, chevre, & radishes on top of butter chicken = divine! Check out the lunch + dinner menu: [I have a thing for menus. I find them fascinating! I never want to hand back my menu, even after I order. :-P] No, I don't know what 50% of the stuff on there is, but yes, I'm excited for next time! :-D

Now, what REALLY got us to go there, aside from the top rating, is Pondicheri's Bake Lab. It's getting more national buzz than the restaurant, and their baked goods are AMAZING! I first learned about them via their Chai Pie being featured on a Food Network show & went with my friend, Jen; this time, my mom & I dove into EVERYTHING: chocolate chili cookies, chocolate hazelnut cookies, ginger cloud cookies, lemon square cookies, chocolate rice pudding, crackballs, and now I'm officially obsessed with the Pondi Bars, made from housemade chevda (an Indian trail mix of rice crisps, peanuts, raisins and pumpkin seeds) and held together by gooey marshmallows. Yes:
[No, we did not eat all that in one day. It's a week later, and I still have some sealed up. Savoring...]

My other biggest joyful recommendation is Triple Tree Center. It's a "reflexology center" (read: massage place!) in Chinatown (Bellaire & Wilcrest). If you know anything about Houston's Chinatown, you know there is a foot massage joint (or 3 or 4) on literally EVERY SINGLE block. For several miles. No lie. And most of them look...sketchy. How did I find/choose TTC? To be honest, a sweet & über-preppy friend was taken by one of her native Asian friends, and she raved! I knew if it was deemed clean & acceptable to her, we'd be safe! :-P Sealing the deal? $30 for a 60-minute massage. YES:
Their massages are amazing. I can only speak to the "60-minute Reflexology" session, but trust me: that is what you want. It's not just a reflexology foot massage; it's TOTAL BODY! You stay dressed (so don't wear tight skinny jeans that you can't pull up to your knee) and lay on a 180° reclining sofa chair. You begin with your feet soaking in warm water while your therapist spends 15 minutes massaging your head, ears, neck, arms, & hands. All of this happens in total silence - there's NO TALKING, which honestly is a godsend for me: I'm such an extrovert, I feel very uncomfortable *not* talking to someone when it's an option, and I can't tell you how many massages, manis, & pedis I've "wasted" b/c I can't shut up & relax. (I am getting much better at this in general, though; thank you, Yin yoga.) Because I also love following rules, I get great pleasure from not being allowed to converse here; the pressure is off, and I actually let go. Next, they spend 30 full minutes on your feet and legs, before you flip over for the last 15 minutes of shoulders, back, & lower back. Just...heaven. You leave quietly with a bottle of water...and probably drive in silent bliss back to your home area. ;-)

Any friends who want to come visit, these can sooo be on our agenda. :-D Just give the word...

Stay tuned for the ranch birthday party & our Sunday trip to Austin!

Lilly for Target Reviews

Thanks to my husband, I was lucky enough to score lots of items to consider. I then got even luckier the next day when my friend, Emily, (originally from ATL, but now living in Idaho) showed up at her Target to find merchandise still available. [Let's just say Idaho is *not* a Lilly hotbed. ;-) Em laments when people ask her where they can get the pattern to sew bags like hers: they're Vera Bradley. :-P] She texted me with pics while she shopped and asked if I wanted anything she saw left. I have to say, it was really fun to virtually text-shop with her! :-D

So now to decide what's worth keeping!

Overall impression: the fabric is definitely cheaper (of course - so are the price tags!) and the "satin" is not satiny at all. Not a deal-breaker, but it's clearly how the prices can come down. The kids pieces are AMAZING!!!
Annelise's maxi dress with the thin straps & her jumpsuit both have adjustable straps = FANTASTIC!!! She'll be able to wear them forever b/c of that. And I'm head-over-heels in love with her rash guard bathing suit top! The only kid items I have pause over are the two crop tops: I don't care if they're for little girls, big girls, whatever - I'm not big on bare midriffs. I didn't know they were crops in the original Target listings, so they will be returned.
Em actually grabbed me a kids XL eyelet crop top, too, b/c I knew I could fit in it, and I hoped it would look good. Eh. It does fit, but, again - I'm not big on bare midriffs at any age. I really hoped it would be longer. :-/ The lace is lovely...

I love my two tank tops! They fit exactly opposite: both size XS, but the fitted pink flowered one is tight around my rib cage (I have giant ribs! :-D) while the blue shell one is a super loose, wide swing top. The palazzo pants are a great length, although the XS size seems a little big for XS. The fabric is not luxe, like my regular Lilly palazzos (again: of course,) which makes them seem a little more...pajama-esque? ...but I'm sticking with them. SO COMFY!!! :-) The button down top has a fairly slim fit, and even though I *hatehatehate* layering (I like the look, but I hate doing it; it's just me) I might wear it open with a tank underneath.

I'm debating about the two dresses I got. They look good on...but they don't look "omigosh! amazing!" They feel great, very comfortable, and I like them better than any other generic dresses...but how often will I choose to wear them? I need to decide... [Edited to add: I'm keeping them. :-P But I need a way to cinch the waist in a bit on the long sleeved green/white palm print.]

The surprise joy? A "My Fans" (blue shells) beach towel!!! I thought a beach towel was kind of a waste: we have towels. But I'm SO GLAD Em encouraged pulling the trigger - it actually is incredibly luxe! It's HUGE: beyond bath sheet size, and it has a gorgeous trimmed border. I can't believe how much I love it. :-D

Stay tuned for pics of our first public foray in our Lilly for Target: a day trip to Austin this Sunday! I will tell you: we were asked where we got our "gorgeous matching outfits" multiple times throughout the day! :-D

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pink Sunday: Lilly for Target

And THIS is love: that a man would stay up until 4 AM to fulfill his wife's Lilly Pulitzer for Target wish list when it launched in the middle of the night!!! Yes, y'all: I was singing in church this Sunday morning, so I couldn't be at any 8 AM store openings, and JB stayed up to battle the online beast, so I wouldn't be a total zombie onstage.

Could I be any luckier?!?! #husbandoftheyear All other candidates need not even apply!!! :-P ;-)

After hearing all the in-store horror stories, (the stores completely sold out in less than 20 minutes!!!) I'm even MORE thankful 1) for JB & 2) that I had to sing, so me showing up & being tempted to toss an elbow wasn't even an option! :-D

I taught JB all of the standard Lilly online sale tricks (put 1 or 2 things in the cart & check out, 1 or 2 more & check out, over & over, b/c until you pay, nothing in your cart is really yours; have your card & address stored in the system ahead of time, so you don't waste time typing them in over & over; refresh, refresh, refresh; etc.) and I gave him my detailed wish list of ~20 items with sizes for both me & Annelise.

Could I actually sleep? No. It felt like Christmas Eve! :-P But at least I was resting, so I could be functional at worship rehearsal by 6:30 AM.

JB did AMAZINGLY WELL!!! The overwhelming national response was frustration, b/c - OF COURSE - the site kept crashing as soon as it went live ~3 AM; but he kept fighting to get through, and he ended up getting ELEVEN ITEMS!!!!!!!! [Most of my friends - if they got ANY (lots didn't!) - got maybe 2 or 3 items, tops.]

These six are for me:

And these five for Annelise:

I'll do another update + reviews when it all actually arrives!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mid-April Catch Up: 13th Anniversary & ...Infected Ears?!

Whoa - I didn't realize it had been so long! April is absolutely EVAPORATING!!! We've just been busy with life. All happy stuff. All things I could do individual posts on...or I could just catch you all up here & now:

Apparently National Sibling Day was back on April 11th. I wished the happiest to my 1st partner in cookie- and trouble-making:

More cheer meetings & all-day registration events...and I'm loving every second! I have such a strong, quality team of new ladies behind me, every second is fun. We actually *ENJOY* all of our cheer obligations - as it should be!!! These women are a gift from God. No exaggeration. I also finally officially fired a huge problem from last year who wouldn't respond to anything for months & then suddenly appeared, wanting to take back over everything she did (poorly) last year. Ummm, no thank you. So now our Cheer Committee is even more stable and relieved! ;-)

Zumba is awesome, and it makes my heart sparkle when members ask to take a selfie with me after class. :-) They are all such rockstars!!!

This last Monday, the 13th, was my & JB's 13th wedding anniversary!!! ♥ ♥ ♥ Yep, lucky #13 on the 13th! Awwww...

Check out the gorgeous anniversary flowers JB got me:

And what says, "HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!" better than one kid barfing & discovering the other's pierced ears are infected?!?! Yep. That was our celebration. It *was* kind of perfect, though: we got married to create a family together, & this is what families do - the good, the painful, & the messy! Will's stomach bug was a simple 24 hours & done, and - PRAISE GOD!!! - no one else succumbed. Annelise's ears, however, were super gross: puss, blood, & the backs scabbed onto her lobes. :-X She's been very good about cleaning, so with the shared FB advice of BFFs, we are 100% sure it's an allergic reaction. She has such sensitive skin, anyway, and there was no issue until she started switching them. We had her pierced with 14k gold, so we cleaned her holes with TONS of peroxide & Neosporin and put the originals back in. They are ACTUALLY HEALING, so random metal sensitivity confirmed. Only pure gold earrings for her for the foreseeable future. Most of my friends with older girls who went through this said their girls could start changing with regular earrings, again, after a few years. I still cannot believe we actually saved her holes!!! I almost wish I would've taken gruesome before pics, just so you could see how miraculous her recovery is... (You're welcome that I didn't. ;-))

Our 7-on-7 passing league football season was supposed to begin Friday night...but severe storms canceled them. This football family was SOOO READY to get back out on the field for our Friday Night Lights!!! :-( Only amazing thunder & lightning made up for the recision...

Saturday marked 18 years since my Dad passed away and what would've been my Grandmommy's 103rd birthday...

I got to sing in church this morning and lead the song "Do What You Want To" - really great! We sang it a few weeks ago, and it just kept sticking in my head. I didn't know why - it wasn't my solo then, but wow. God definitely meant it for me today... "Lord, we love to see You move!" Early morning rehearsing...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Atlantis: BONUS PICS!

I was so excited to receive my MIL's Atlantis pics to share & scrapbook! What a sweet excuse to reminisce, again... ♥ [See *ALL* of our Atlantis trip here!]

1st Atlantis Speedway race:

1st night dinner ready!

Serpent Slide!

JB feeding me grapes! :-D Ahhhh, luxury!!! ;-)

Mayan Temple Pool play:

Sweet cabana life:

The views from our hotel! From our room:
From Grandma & Grandpa's:

Exploring The Dig: There's only one place in the world where you can embark on a journey through the streets and tunnels of the fabulous lost city of Atlantis by way of stunning life exhibits. Reflecting the tunnels and thoroughfares of the lost continent, The Dig at Atlantis Paradise Island features over 100 venomous Indo-Pacific Ocean Lionfish, 500 piranhas, iridescent jellyfish, and six-foot Moray Eels. Special environments hold nine species of enormous groupers, while smaller separate “Jewel Habitats” are home to multitudes of brilliantly-colored tropical fish.

Last morning on the beach: