Thursday, December 20, 2012

Austin Christmas Traditions

I'll admit it. I was worried that Christmastime in Austin was going to be a bust this year. Family is what makes Christmas the most magical time of the year and we're more than 1,300 miles away from our parents and siblings.

While both Robert and I are lucky to be able to spend actual Christmas day with our families, we had to do something in the meantime to get into the Christmas spirit.

LUCKILY, we've been so fortunate to have made the most hilarious group of friends this year in Austin. We all got together to spread a little Christmas cheer and wear some hideous Christmas sweaters before we all left Austin to spend time with our families.

We started off our Christmas party by cramming 20 people in our tiny, 600-square foot apartment. Collin took over the role of master brewer and made hot chocolate for everyone. 

This is Lindsey, a friend from Robert's work. She hosts the best game nights at her apartment and has an adorable five-pound pup nammed Briley. He's a riot.

Despite our tacky Christmas sweaters, I'd say the ladies at the party looked great!

The men were in the kitchen serving everyon hot chocolate and coffee-- with a little Bailey's or Peppermint Schnapps thrown in for good measure.

These guys...

I keep calling the party a Christmas party, which is so not PC. At our HOLIDAY party, we celebrated Hanukkah as well. Sam, our Jewish friend, brought the Hanukkah cheer with his homemade menorah sweater.

"Most Awesome Sweater" award was a tie between Sam's Hanukkah sweater and Lauren's who had a nutcracker friend on the front of her sweater...

and a nutcracker butt on the back.

Sam brought over some mistletoe, I think with the ulterior motive of trying to steal a kiss from Lety.

Didn't quite work out in his favor.

Collin, making sure the hot chocolate is just right.

Check out that marshmallow action in there.

I searched far and wide to find those adorable winter wonderland styrofoam cups. The ones at the grocery store were plain white and too small. The ones at Walmart were too big, didn't have tops AND were plain white. Worst combo ever. But the ones at Target were just right- medium sized and cute.

Here are my friends who moved here from California. They're turning into Austinites faster than Robbie and me!

I love "before" pictures of group shots. They're always hilarious to look at.

I'm so lucky to have all these crazy people in my life.

Elizabeth managed to sneak her way out of the group picture because she wasn't wearing an ugly Christmas sweater. Snapped a shot of her hiding behind Spencer.

The second phase of the night involved walking the Trail of Lights. Robbie and I live close enough to Zilker park that we walked over as a group to avoid the traffic mess.

The boys...

The girls...

The amazing (and kind of trippy) tunnel of lights at the very beginning of the TOL.

The Trail of Lights wraps around Zilker park. There are different light displays along about a mile-long stretch of road. We went on opening night, so it was PACKED. Here we are at the end of the trail, looking back at the TOL. This was by far my favorite view.

Our last stop was at the Zilker Christmas Tree, a giant "tree" made up of lights. It's tradition to spin under the tree while looking up at the lights. And man, did we spin. I think each of us could only spin around two or three times without falling down. So fun!

This ugly Christmas sweater party may be the beginning of a new Austin Christmas tradition. Looking forward to next year's party!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Birthday glimpse

A couple pictures to let you know we're alive and kicking in Austin! Robert turned 24 this weekend, and my what a weekend it was. These two pictures at Bell Springs will have to hold you over until I have a moment to share more stories with you. For a small glimpse of the craziness that ensued approximately 8 hours later, follow me on Instagram.

P.S. Hope everyone's getting into the holiday spirit! We're looking forward to hosting a tacky Christmas sweater party this upcoming Sunday if anyone wants to join. :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! As many of you know, Robbie and I are Star Wars nuts. One of our first dates was hanging out watching Star Wars together to see who knew more movie lines.


So of course it's been my dream for the past three years to be Princess Leia and Han Solo with Robbie for Halloween. We decided we'd go for it this year.

Growing up, my mom always sewed me and my sisters' costumes. We always looked (and felt) like the real thing while everyone else at our school had the store-bought costumes. My sisters and I got the craft gene passed down to us and all three of us girls have always been more inclined to make our costumes rather than buy them. This year it was ESPECIALLY crucial to make stellar Princess Leia and Han Solo costumes because, well, we're supernerds.

So to make our homemade Princess Leia and Han Solo costumes, we went to the GoodWill to dig up some awesome finds.

Han Solo costume: the only black vest left at GoodWill, a woman's tan button-up, awesome blue pinstripe pants with added red ribbon to the sides, a handmade gun holster out of black vinyl and a black spray painted nerf gun.

Princess Leia costume: gorgeous white dress found at the GoodWill, added long, chiffon sleeves, aluminum foil belt and sock buns!

We had a fabulous time on Saturday night hanging out with the Harts at their Halloween Hootenanny (they put on the best parties) and our little group of friends afterwards at Phil's house.
Top left to right: Blog friends at Ruthie's party! (Mallorie, Shanna, me & Ruthie), Phil & Lauren as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, pumpkin carving on Sunday and PRINCESS LEIA COSTUME!

What are your plans for Halloween?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Weekly traditions

Do you have little rituals that are precious to you? As a creature of habit, I take comfort in little routines that turn small tasks into symbols. Aveeno moisturizer smells like bedtime to me. Taylor Swift's music without question always brings me back to my early college days in the dorms. Buying cinnamon pine cones means that Thanksgiving and Christmas are here.

And Tuesdays are my Michelle days. We have a standing lunch date every Tuesday where we meet for almost an hour to chat about life, writing, our blogs, the future, Austin... anything that comes to mind. It's a nice little break from work that I look forward to every week. We pick a new place to meet for lunch or sometimes just coffee, but we stick to our little tradition week in and week out. A few weeks ago we tried Sandra Bullock's restaurant, Walton's. I'm totally hooked. The french onion soup is to die for.

Do you have any small, special traditions that you treasure?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A bad case of the Busy Trap

Have you ever read "The 'Busy' Trap?" If you haven't, please do; it'll take 5 minutes. My best friend's sister posted this on her Facebook a while ago and it really resonated with me. I think about this article every time I feel too busy.

Lately, I've had a bad case of the Busy Trap. I've been feeling "too busy" doing things that my brain tricks me into thinking will make me happy, when these self-imposed tasks actually kinda stress me out. I have a natural tendency to want to take care of the people around me. I think most people do. Where I find my annoying "busy" factor kick in is when I try and take care of the people and things around me that don't exactly matter. It makes me feel important. Which in turn, my brain thinks, should make me feel happy. There's a difference between wanting to do something important (spending time with your loved ones, making a difference in the world, providing for your family) and wanting to feel important (taking on tasks for recognition). Lately, instead of wanting to do something important, my actions have shown me that I just want to feel important. Do you ever feel like that? 

"Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day."

So, as a way to combat my bad case of the Busy Trap, I'm hiding out. Just like this author did. I'm hiding from saying "yes" to new responsibilities that I don't necessarily want to take on. Responsibilities that I would normally take on to make myself feel important. Instead, I'm going to focus on finding out what's actually important to me.

In the photos above, you can see the fun busyness that's been going on in my life!
Top left to right:
1. First day of selling beer at ACL.
2. ACL venue statue.
3. The last day of ACL. Robbie and I were exhausted!
4. Some pretty lilies Robbie got for me.
5. A hilarious dog at Progress Cafe.
6. Wine tasting with Robbie's parents!
7. Rainey Street bars with Lety and the gang.
8. One of many sewing projects covering the kitchen table.

"Life is too short to be busy."

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Movers & Shakers

It's true- the Californians are taking over Austin. More specifically, the Riversidians.

My two good friends, Collin and Ryan, from elementary school-college decided to move to Austin about a month ago. I've known these two knuckleheads forever; Collin since third grade and Ryan since sixth. This past weekend, Robbie and I picked them & their four bags up at the airport, housed them for two days, then dropped them off Monday morning at their new apartment complex. We feel like empty nesting parents, calling them to make sure they're finding their way around the city ok, making sure they have a couple rolls of TP at their apartment. Robbie called me yesterday at work and asked, "How are our children? Did they get to the apartment ok?" We're excited to have them live in Austin with us.

In other exciting news, my sister and brother-in-law are moving as well! They're currently living in San Francisco and are moving to Phoenix, Arizona in a couple of weeks! I couldn't be more happy for them. As wonderful as San Francisco is and as tough as it will be for them to leave their first home together, it's a great time for the both of them to start a new adventure together. Plus, instead of being eight hours away from our hometown, Riverside, in Southern California, they'll be about four hours away.

As for Robbie and I? We're staying put in ATX for the time being. It's a pretty wonderful city and we're just beginning to look past the major attractions the city offers and really explore the nooks & crannies.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Catching the Sewing Bug

Robbie's parents got me a sewing machine for my birthday back in March. After a failed attempt at sewing earlier this year, I finally faced my fears and pulled out the sewing machine for another crack at it.

Turns out, I just had my sewing machine threaded wrong.

My b.

Since successfully making this beauty:

I've been obsessed with sewing. I made another fun dress (courtesy of Trip Over Joy's tutorial) and have been dying to try new tutorials.

 Here are a few of sewing/crafting blogs I've come across and now adore:

She's starting her own fashion line. Check out her beautiful lace pencil skirt and cardigan tutorials.

I have all the supplies to make this clutch and want to make this cute dress with pockets.

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