Thursday, August 30, 2012

Easy Sangria

Not only am I a huge fan of wine, I am also quite a sangria junkie. The wine...the liquor...the fruit...the bubbles...how can you go wrong?!

And while many good sangria recipes call for numerous ingredients and homemade simple syrup, I have found a great "cheater" recipe...perfect for hot summer nights at home :). 

All you need is wine, brandy, and the "Aranciata" (orange) flavored San Pellegrino. I usually go with (a cheap) red wine, in which case I recommend a full-bodied merlot or cab. If you prefer white wine, I suggest a crisp, light pinot grigio. 


(And yes, we keep a large bottle of brandy around pretty much all the time.)

First, fill up your glass with ice. 


Add one part brandy. 


Three parts wine. 


And two parts San Pellegrino (about half a can). 


Stir together and enjoy! 

You could also add some sliced fruit if you happen to have some on hand, but it is just as delicious without it...and there is no need to get all fancy when you are enjoying it in your pajamas on the couch while watching the opening night of college football ;).



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Restaurant Week 2012

I absolutely love Restaurant Week! The $35 price tag for three courses at some of the nicest restaurants in Dallas makes for a great way to try out new places, and a portion of the proceeds goes to charity. So, we have made it a tradition to schedule several dinners each year. 

This year, I enjoyed three Restaurant Week meals...a girls' night, a couples' night, and a date night with the hubs. 

For our girls' night, Jill, Sarah, Rachel, Laura, and I went to Whiskey Cake in Plano. We got there early to have a couple cocktails before dinner, and I'm glad we did. The bar was great, and many of the drinks are made with fresh, muddled fruit. I ordered a French 75, and while it was not as good as Victor Tango's, it was pretty darn close. 

I ordered the Dips and Spreads with three kinds of hummus, the Farm House Salad, the Prime Top Sirloin, and the famous Whiskey Cake. We also ordered grits and mac n' cheese for the table, which were both excellent. Everything was good, but the Whiskey Cake was definitely the star!

My only complaint about the evening was the fact that the hostess didn't warn us that they would text me when our table was ready. As a result, I didn't see the text for a while, and they had given our table away. They got us seated not too long after that, but it was still annoying. 

I didn't manage to get any pictures of our dinner, but we had a great time! If the restaurant wasn't so far away, I would definitely be back more often. 

Last weekend, my Mom came in town and graciously babysat both nights so Josh and I could enjoy two nights out. The first was our couples' dinner at The Landmark with Laura and Mike, Jill and Steven, and Sarah and Derek. The restaurant is in the Warwick Melrose Hotel, which is a super cool old hotel that was built in the 1920s. 

Again, we got there early to visit the bar (you will see that this is a trend), because we had heard good things about "The Library" bar...that is in no way related to the Library bar in Fort Worth where I ordered way too many $2 Long Island Iced Teas in college :). Rather, this bar is a classy joint that "smells of rich mahogany" and serves up a host of classic cocktails. 


This French 75 was no where close to VT's, but still good. 


Here are some pics taken in the bar (all of them are a little dark and blurry)...






I thought the meal was really good, but the appetizer and main course portions were a little small. I ordered the Caesar Salad, Boneless Short Rib, and Banana Creme Brûlée.

I only managed to get pictures of the various desserts...

the Banana Creme Brûlée,


the Texas Peach Napoleon, 


and the Charred Strawberry Tower with a chocolate Godiva sponge cake. 

We had so much fun, and most of us had quite a few glasses of wine at dinner...as evidenced by the pictures taken at the end of the night...






And you know I have had a few cocktails when I attempt (poorly) to take a picture of my husband's butt. 


Note that the other good thing about my Mom coming in town is that Josh and I were able to sleep in the next morning...so we were ready to go again the next night. 

For our date night, we went to The Capital Grille. And, you guessed it, we got there early to enjoy some drinks at the bar. 

I ordered one of their famed "Stoli Doli" martinis, which is basically just straight-up pineapple-infused vodka. 

It. Was. Delicious. 


In addition to the Restaurant Week special, the restaurant was also running their annual "Generous Pour" wine tasting event. For $25/person, you could taste up to nine different wines. And the name was not deceiving...you basically got a glass of each wine you wanted to try. We knew this going in, so we took a cab :). 

I took pics of all the wine descriptions that I tried for future reference (but some I will likely never have again since they are more than $100/bottle). I especially loved the pinot noir, and it was cool to try a wine from Slovenia...who knew they had good wine?






I didn't get a picture of the dessert wine description, but I'm not much of a dessert wine fan. 

Our waiter was beyond fantastic (shout out to Van...request him if you can!), and he was great about pairing the wines with what we ordered. 

And speaking of our orders, I got the Caesar Salad, Filet Mignon, and Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake. We also each added the lobster tail, and they brought mashed potatoes and creamed spinach for the table. 

Oh. My. Goodness. Can you tell how much I liked my meal?!


The chocolate cake was ridiculously decadent...and it was worth every calorie!!


 Not only was everything delicious, they didn't skimp on the portions just because it was Restaurant Week. They even packed up extra mashed potatoes and spinach with my leftover steak. 

This was definitely one of the best, if not THE best, meal of our lives. I think we might have to make The Capital Grille a Restaurant Week tradition. 

 Now please excuse me while I attempt to start a post-Restaurant-Week workout routine. Maybe. 


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Learning to Share

I call this photo series "Learning to Share: The Ava and Louie Edition."












Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ava's Baptism

Ava was baptized on Sunday, August 12 at Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church in Austin (my childhood church), and it was such a special day!

However, we did have one small hiccup leading up to the big event...someone managed to pack all of her stuff, the baby's stuff, and the baby (which I happen to think is the most important thing!), but forgot to grab her husband's entire outfit for the baptism. Yep. That would be me.

I had headed down to Austin on Thursday night and worked from my firm's Austin office on Friday. Josh flew down Saturday morning, so I was in charge of bringing his suit, shoes, tie, etc., so he didn't have to bring it on the plane. On Saturday night, Josh and I went out to dinner with some friends, and at approximately 8:30 p.m., right after we had ordered our food, the topic of what we were wearing to the baptism came up. When Josh jokingly asked if I had remembered his suit, my face turned white and I literally thought I was going to throw up. Blerg!

Once everyone at the table realized that I was not joking, we frantically searched to see what suit stores were still open/would be open in the morning (Josh is way too tall to borrow anything).  The JoS. A. Bank close to my Mom's house wasn't open until noon on Sundays, but it was luckily open until 9:00 p.m. on Saturday night. We left the restaurant as fast as we could, but promised our friends that we would be back...because we would be in need of some cocktails after this adventure. Josh called the store to let them know we were on our way, and we made it there just before closing.

He picked out the suit, shirt, tie, shoes, belt, and socks all within about 10 minutes, and we were back at dinner in time to enjoy our meal and a few cocktails. Thanks so much to the Tranthams for holding down the fort at the restaurant!

I'm just so glad that it came up when it did, instead of the next morning as Josh was getting ready...I don't know if Walmart carries suits in his size ;). It is also in moments like these that I am truly appreciative of my husband and our relationship. While some guys would have been extremely irritated with the situation, we couldn't help but laugh the whole way to the store. I'm also thankful for a Mom who majored in Home Economics...otherwise Josh's pants would not have been hemmed. Or I would have used safety pins...and that would not have been pretty. 

But once the suit situation was under control, the rest of the weekend was smooth sailing...unless you count Ava waking up at 5:15 a.m. on Sunday (she normally gets up at 7:00), which threw off her morning schedule a bit and also made for one tired momma.


But who could blame her...she was so excited for her big day :).

And it was such a wonderful day. Ava was such a happy baby during the ceremony, and she was surrounded by so many people who love her!

Below is a copy of the program from that morning.


Our best family shot before the ceremony. 



Three of my beautiful sisters. 


(Sorry I didn't manage to get pictures of anyone else before the ceremony.)

Ava was mesmerized by all the people :). 


And then it was time to begin...


Despite my Mom's pleas for a traditional, long baptism gown, I fell in love with this simple linen dress from Jacadi. Normally, I would never buy anything from that incredibly overpriced store, but it was for her baptism, I loved it, and when the sales lady told me everything in the store was 50% off, I was sold! I balanced it out by getting the shoes on sale from Carter's for about $5...and the headband was made by yours truly (it was definitely worth the hot glue gun burn).

And she looked so sweet :). 


The photographer (aka Rhonda) didn't get a picture with Dr. Wilder in it (probably because she was trying to crop out the other family standing next to us), but we are looking at him in this shot. He graciously served as the assisting Elder for the ceremony, which made it even more special. 


Doesn't Josh look handsome in his new suit :).


This picture is really blurry, but I had to include one "action" shot. 


Ava didn't seem to mind the water at all....and he got her pretty good!


After the baptism, my Mom and Jimmy hosted a lunch at their house (they deserve a big thank you for all the work that went into it!).

Ava hung out with everyone for a little while before heading off for a long and well-deserved nap after a big morning.

She loved getting to see her Papa and Grammy, who came up from San Antonio. 





And we managed to get a few more family pics. 




Some of the lovely ladies in attendance: my Mom, Aunt Laura, cousins Isabel and Grace, and sister Charlotte (Lily and Sara had to leave before I got out the camera). 


Aunt Bambi and Uncle David with my Dad.


My Uncle Ryan, Jesse, and Jimmy. Such a dapper group!


Josh with Bonnie and Rhonda.


Becky came by just in time to get Ava up from her nap. 



And she got in some snuggle time with Daddy as the party was wrapping up. 



Ava also received so many wonderful gifts...

This sweet angel lovey was from Lauren. 



And Fred and Debbie gave her these fun bibs. 


(Sorry I didn't get any pictures of the Wilders at the lunch.)

My Dad and Rhonda got her this beautiful, gold cross necklace. 


Gary and Betsy got her this sweet prayer frame. 


And David and Bambi outdid themselves with this cute card...


And this wonderful prayer book. It is all hand drawn/painted/calligraphed by a local artist, and it is absolutely beautiful!


Here are a few of the pages...




Thank you so much to all our family and friends for being a part of the special day!


About Me

My name is Catherine, but most of my friends call me Cat. I was born and raised in Austin, went to TCU, and ended up in Dallas for law school (where Josh and I met). I decided that being an attorney was not my cup of tea and pursued a career in legal marketing instead. I am now a mother of two attempting to balance family with a full-time job, which is always an adventure. I love: my sweet babies, handsome husband, very large family, and fabulous friends; trying new restaurants; wine; TCU football; holidays; cooking; pajamas; La Croix; reading; coffee; podcasts; Central Market; carbs; the beach; mani/pedis; Anthropologie; binge-worthy TV shows; trivia; French 75s; Pinterest; cheese boards; The Ticket; dancing; Sprinkles cupcakes; The Texas Rangers; fresh flowers; thunderstorms; naps; Tex-Mex; the Texas Hill Country; porch-sitting; ranch dressing; throwing parties; and my job. I hate: working-mom guilt; snakes; heights; waking up early; ignorant people; stomach bugs; paper cuts; green fruit; bad hair days; snoring; the sound of people eating (Misophonia); Miracle Whip; scary movies; bad drivers; pulpy OJ; trimming baby fingernails; and working out. I think that sums it up.

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