Sunday, October 12, 2014

Renaissance Festival

We returned from South Africa this morning and man! What an incredible trip.

But before I get to that, I thought I would back track a little bit and post a few pictures from the Renaissance Festival we attended a few weeks back. Apparently, they hold this renaissance festival yearly. They even have a village built that's just there year round. I don't really know what happens with it when it's not being used for Renaissance purposes...

The day started off a little bit rainy. We weren't sure how it was going to be, but the longer we stayed, the clearer it got.

We spent a few dollars on an axe throwing "competition." 

Holland actually excels at axe throwing. It's a relief for me, since I am sure someday, it will be a very useful skill. He can fight off zombies and maybe axe some poor deer for our meal one day. Times will be tough, but Holland will provide.

To compensate him for his superior skills, Holland received a banana necklace and a wood pendant with a heart painted on it. We ate the banana but the heart pendant still remains.

We also tried out some knife throwing. Holland was not as good at that, but I wasn't bad. I am convinced that if it came down to it (and if I practiced a little more), I could be an excellent knife thrower. We will be a fearsome duo.

One of our last acts of the day was to watch some jousting. One of the horses was pretty slow and lame BUT on one of the jousts, one of the guys was knocked off his horse. I did fear for his safety, but he survived and we all cheered, "Huzzah!"

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Austin, Tejas

Since Mr. Avery has been traveling to Austin a lot for work, we thought that I would travel to him for the long Labor Day weekend.

I'll have to be honest - though most everyone who lives there loves Austin, I'm going to say that I would never want to live there. I'm just not cut out for the Austin life. Despite my protests, though, I did have a pretty good weekend with Holland. Also despite the fact that Holland's coworker suggested he (Holland) take me to buy some nice cowboy boots and he (Holland) DID NOT.

I arrived to the hotel late Thursday night to a surprise.

Since Holland has been racking up major points with his hotel and they knew I was coming, they left a little surprise for us to enjoy. The first bottle of Washington wine was for Holland earlier in the week. The second was for me. Sadly for these wine bottles, neither were consumed. But we did really enjoy the chocolate covered strawberries and the chocolate truffles inside that chocolate guitar. And I appreciated the Longhorns hat; though, it took me longer than I'd care to admit to figure out what LHN had to do with Texas...
Friday, Holland had to work, so I played hotel by myself. And by that, I mean that I did almost nothing. I had hot chocolate ordered to my room and went to eat breakfast down in the hotel restaurant (because Holland had free breakfast buffet coupons for me too!). 

This is actually Round Two of hot chocolate, but I figured one picture was enough to convey the deliciousness.

I also wandered a little bit around the hotel to try to find a post office. I found out later that there was one maybe two blocks from the hotel that doesn't show up on the map. Much more convenient than the post office that was closed down like a mile away from the hotel...

After we were done, we met up with my college friend, Kurt, and his boyfriend, Steven, for some TexMex. The first Trudy's we went to didn't exist anymore (it was a rough pattern for Friday) so we drove to one a little further away. It was nice to catch up but so odd to think about how much time has passed since college (and how LITTLE time has passed since college too...)

Saturday morning, we got up to go stand in line at one of the good BBQ places in Austin. Austin is known for their brisket and I really didn't think it disappointed (though Holland tells me that he's had just as good BBQ without standing in line in the heat for 2 hours. Didn't stop him from scarfing it down though...)

You can draw on the picnic tables at La Barbecue
When we were a little closer to the front, I snapped this picture. A lot of Austin's food is from a truck.
Saturday was pretty much food themed. After La Barbecue, we went home, tried to go to the pool but were met with hordes of bachelorette/bachelor party people, so we took a nap in the hotel instead. It really is hard to beat a nice comfy hotel bed. And also, I was on vacation, so no judgement please.

We got ready later to go out to celebrate our 5 year anniversary/my birthday since Holland wouldn't be in town with me for either of those occasions.

We went to an Italian restaurant called Vespaio. You can't make reservations, but we didn't have any problem getting in. We had a few dishes that were delicious. My favorite dish (that I shared only a bite with Holland) was the butternut squash & amaretti filled half moon pasta (with locatelli pecorino, sage brown butter, and walnuts). I tell you that it was to DIE FOR. It was my favorite pasta that I've maybe had ever. When we were done with our pasta, the waiter said "Yeah, I really feel like it's a really good autumn/winter dish," to which I replied "Well, I'm not complaining in summer. I will eat it all seasons." or something like that. Holland is probably rolling his eyes with how much effort I'm putting into describing this pasta, but I don't care. (You hear me, H? I don't care!) It is now on my last-meal request list.

After dinner, we walked a little bit down South Congress and snapped some photos. H didn't think we should ask someone to take our picture, but I insisted he take one of just me (not shown) and some kind souls offered to take our picture for us. I knew my trick would work. :)

Also that night (after dinner and after our walk down South Congress), we headed to a local bar to watch the Huskies opening game vs. Hawaii. It was terrible, but at least they pulled out a W. The bar was not our favorite - kind of outdoors so it was really hot, and EVERYONE was smoking. The one highlight (or low-light, depending on how you look at it) was the fight we witnessed. We heard a glass spill on the table behind us (they were picnic tables so it was at the table we were sitting at though we were facing the wrong way) so we stood up to avoid being beer-i-fied. When I turned around, two guys were on the table going at each other and punching each other. As we moved out of the way (Holland even tried to pull me aside, the gentleman!), more people joined in and all of a sudden people were under the table getting punched right where we had been sitting. It broke up pretty soon thereafter, but it was kind of crazy. One guy was bleeding from the back of his head. It's hard to say what happened. Holland says someone accidentally spilled a beer and things got heated. A couple girls were trying to say that the guy INTENTIONALLY poured his beer and that's how the fight started. I guess we'll never know.

 Sunday morning, we had brunch at the hotel at our leisure. Then we walked to the Austin Capital Building. Fun fact, Texans LOVE Texas. Everything in the capital building had Texas written all over it. Sometimes literally in the case of EVERY door hinge in the building. They also had stars all over the place. And the lights in some of the rooms were shaped like a star and spelled Texas. I wish I was exaggerating. And I would be remiss to not mention that the outside of the capital building is made of SUNSET RED TEXAS GRANITE and none of that pink Georgian granite that they used a little bit of on the inside.

One really cool thing about the capital building is that you can go up four floors in the rotunda, so you have a nice aerial view of everything.

We hit up the pool after the capital tour. It wasn't as busy as the day before so we laid out for a while (much to my pale skin's disappointment) and sat in the pool for a while before retiring to our bedroom.

Sunday night, we went out to dinner with my sister, Shelby, and her boyfriend, James, where I was publicly humiliated in front of the restaurant as I sat side-saddle on a horseless saddle and swung a napkin around my head like a lasso to "celebrate" my birthday. The injustice!

But dinner was delicious and I was glad to see Shelby and James, despite their cruel treatment of me.

Monday, I had round two of hot chocolate and then we went and played Peter Pan mini golf. I guess it's sort of an icon in Austin. It's full of these weird Peter Pan-esque (and other) statues. I think I described it to Holland as having been made by the worst sculpturists ever.

If you were wondering, Holland beat me in mini golf by one point. But Holland could probably counter that he gave me a free shot that one time I hit my head on Tinkerbell's crotch. And I would counter that I probably would have won had Holland not cheated and put his ball back on the green when he hit it out of the course and two holes over. I'm just saying...

Mini golf was followed by Torchy's Tacos - a place that Kurt had recommended to us earlier. It did not disappoint (though the outside eating was kind of miserable). 

Tacos led me to another hotel bed nap (what can I say - I love hotel beds and napping on them when I'm on vacay) followed by a sad, forlorn good bye as I made my way to the airport and back to DC.

These were my seat mates. Twinsies.

And this was my view part way through the trip. I guess it wasn't so bad.

Until maybe never next time, Austin!

Monday, August 25, 2014

If you like pina coladas...

This has almost nothing to do with pina coladas. In fact, the only reason I titled the post with that was because I'm listening to that song. And the reason I'm listening to that song is because I acquired the Guardians of the Galaxy sound track. Because I love that movie. And the sound track. H says the sound track is just okay. But I like it, okay? I ramble...

Here's the point. If you like pina coladas*, come visit DC. I've developed a list of why you should visit. It is not necessarily a complete list, but I think it should entice you nonetheless.

1. I live in DC. (Duh. No brainer.)

2. We have two bedrooms. This means you get to have your own bedroom and not sleep on the couch.

This WILL NOT be your bed.
3. It's almost September. That means that the weather will be tolerable again and we can do things. If you came during the summer, we would sit inside all day, basking in the glory of modern technology and air conditioning.

4. DC is probably the cheapest vacation (after airfare/transportation) that you'll probably ever take. Here's a testimonial from a recent visitor:

5. We have a pretty cute cat. See here.

6. It's possible that if you get stuck at the Philadelphia airport that I will come rescue you.

7. We can take day trips to fun places like Annapolis, Baltimore, Richmond, Philadelphia, Mount Vernon, Harper's Ferry, Shenandoah Valley, Charlottesville, etc.

8. The history. Monticello. Mount Vernon. Philadelphia. Williamsburg. Jamestown. Yorktown.

Jamestown (or Yorktown...)

9. You know you want to take a vacation. Make it here.

10. When was the last time you visited (Derek, excluded, though you are more than welcome to come again always).

So there it is. Visit DC. Visit ME. Do it.

*I might make you a pina colada (virgin) if you visit. And depending on what time of year you come, you might get caught in the rain. So that's pretty solid.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Lest you think I'm all doom and gloom over here...

Many of you probably know that I teach a 12-13 (and some 14) year old Sunday School class for my church. If I've told you that, I probably have also told you that I think they are the best Sunday School class ever. They are just a great bunch of kids and so fun/funny to be around.

Here's something that happened tonight with one of my kids that I want to document for later laughs.

As a back story, we made these in class last Sunday:

The idea of it is that you spin the paper clip spinner once a night and that determines your studies for the night. Each kid got to choose what the put in each of their quadrants and decorated it however they wanted.

Anyway, at the end of church, I was waiting for Holland by the clerk's office, and I saw, in the garbage, two of these spinners that my class had made ONE HOUR earlier.

Luckily for me, I identified the culprits based on what they put in their quadrants. I mean... when you put "Topical Guide" as one of your quadrants, it's gonna stand out. I pulled the spinners out of the garbage and vowed to shame their owners.

Fast forward to tonight. My co-teacher and I held a BBQ for our class as a almost-back-to-school party.

I brought the two spinners to our BBQ and waited. Lucky for me, I didn't have to wait long.

The first kid who arrived was my Topical Guide guy. I told him to close his eyes because I had a surprise for him. I then pulled out his spinner and held it in front of his face and told him to open his eyes.

His reaction was perfect. He looked at it, recognized it, and just started cracking up. He totally knew he was busted. After a good few minutes laughing about it, I made him vow to take it home and hang it on his wall (or at least just throw it away somewhere where I wouldn't find it...)

I tell ya. These kids... Gotta love 'em.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Sometime in the last two years, I made myself a list. It wasn't a normal grocery list or a to-do list. It was a list of things that I felt I had been failing at in my personal life. Things that I sucked at. Things that I thought I could be doing better. It was all of my personal misgivings neatly stored together as one little note on my phone.

I'm ashamed to say that it wasn't that long ago that I deleted that list from my phone.

It's easy - perhaps because I'm a woman or perhaps merely because I am human - to begin a cycle of self-loathing. Mine often begins with the way I look and spirals into hating myself for everything that I am incapable of or doing less-well than someone else.

It's frustrating, isn't it? To live in a society that makes the definition of who you are dependent on what you look like and how much you weigh. Even more frustrating because we give in to it. I give in to it.

I'm working on it, on the one hand. I'm working to eat right and train right. And that's great and it's important. But I think the more important part is changing my mind. Changing the way I view myself. Changing the way I view others.

I wish we could change the saying to "Living up to your potential is the new skinny" or "Doing the best you can is the new strong."

But then again, that's quite a few more words, isn't it?