Monthly Archives: November 2010

All I Want for Xmas…

1. friends and family

2. aaannnnnddd these boots.


Don’t worry, you have plenty of time ; )


Weekend Away

One of Jake’s all time favorite things to do is to go camping. He’s been doing it all his life and is always trying to plan a weekend away breathing in the fresh air, eating s’mores, and fishing. I wouldn’t call myself a professional by any means, so I know that I’m in good hands when it comes to Jake planning our camping trips.

Finding a place to go has been on our short list of things to do since we’ve moved and the long Thanksgiving weekend was reason enough for us to take advantage of the time, take a long drive, and pitch our tent. We were originally going to spend Thanksgiving eve camping since we didn’t think that we would have any plans being away from family, but had to reschedule since we had some pretty awesome people offer up some turkey and football.

We dropped off the little man, drove an hour or so east, and stumbled upon an area that looked a lot like California.

Cue Bastrop State Park.

We hiked, ate sinful camping food, read by the fire, and enjoyed our last few days “off” before getting back into the swing of things. I’d like to thank my awesome hubster for making the most comfortable camping bed I’ve ever slept on. SO WARM and COZY!

The fall foliage made for some beautiful pictures, although they never seem to do it justice.

i love this man and his cute backpack. : )

not afraid to ask for directions

kinda reminds me of winter camp. bet they have icky scratchy sheets inside.

a man in his element

why hello!

I’d say this trip was a success…even though it was a bit chilly at night. So I think this will be our last camping trip this season. There are some really amazing places that we are looking to check out in the spring when Texas wildflowers start blooming.

So for now we’ll look forward to some tree lighting and a visit from Jake’s uncle. You guys…only 3 more weeks until we come home! Get excited.

Texas Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving so close to Christmas this year we opted to stay in town and celebrate what we are thankful for with some of our new found friends.

After we trotted our turkey tails in Austin’s annual Turkey Trot. It was only a 5 mile race (can I call it a race if I didn’t run for time?), but I was super excited to participate with the hubster and our good friends, Sam, Lauren and April. I ran and “power walked” the race in a little over an hour. If we’re in town next year we’re definitely going to turkey trot again- maybe some of you with strut your stuff with us?!

Over 17,000 runners/walkers/families participated in the trot this year!

Following our morning run and a dinner at a friend’s parents house, we met up with some friends for the TAMU and UT game. It’s a Texas yearly tradition that these two rivals play each other on turkey day that we were excited to check out. Not that I even have a clue of how football works, but it was fun to check out a game and see what the tailgating was all about.

By the time we made it to tailgate (uhhh 2.5 hours before the game!) it was getting dark so the pictures aren’t the best. Picture loud country music, a sea of tents for over 3 blocks, TV’s, BBQ pits, and couches (YES COUCHES).

Don’t adjust your computer screen…that is a man in cameo BBQing in the parking lot.

47 degrees and freezing. At least there was a BBQ pit to keep us warm!

Carrie and Aaaon- took us to our first college football experience. Their group (and ours for the night) were obvious Aggie fans!

Along with the bone chilling temps (note to self: need to keep/wear a heavy jacket in the fall and winter in Texas. Not in southern Cali anymore), it was definitely an experience that we won’t forget. We’ll be back and ready for some more tailgating action next fall!

It wasn’t what we expected for a Thanksgiving, but pretty good for our first year outta town. Missing all of our families and friends…we look forward to visiting with all of you REALLY soon- 3 weeks to be exact!

A Walk in the Park

We took a walk a few weekends ago. Finding new places to walk/hike are a regular weekend activity in the Vance household recently.

It was a beautiful fall afternoon so we took advantage of it weather and found a park close by.

Love finding sweet little treats… Doesn’t this little memorial make you smile?

Tis’ the Season

Ladies and gentlemen it’s that time again; for gingerbread house, wrapping paper, and lazy days hanging out at home with family and friends. It’s the holiday season!

One of my favorite things about the holidays is giving and receiving holiday cards. I love hanging with up with our stockings, giving the home that “Christmastime feeling”. In the past I’ve opted for a traditional card coupled with a few pictures from the year. The word is still out over whether or not we are going to go traditional or throw in something a little more playful (read: southern/Texas) this year.

Whatever direction we do decide to go in, it better be quick! We’re planning on starting our drive out to California any day between the 15th-17th, and with shopping for gifts and wrangling sugar-hyped 5th graders I need to make this decision fast.

Here are a few (OK more than a few. I couldn’t help myself!) favorites…voting is much appreciated.

The first three are for an x-mas photo card. Although I like this option, I love writing something personal inside or adding a gift card.

The ones below are more of a traditional Christmas folded card. I think I’m leaning toward one of these designs.

Or maybe we’ll break tradition and send out cards for the new year? hmmm….

Whatever we choose we can’t wait to send all of ya’ll some love this holiday season!

Just Like Popeye

I’ve been getting the Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine for over a year now and besides that one month that was “ode to BBQ” i totally dig this magazine and all of it’s fabulousness. She features a fair amount of veggie options or recipes that I can easily alter to fit my picky standards.

I have a few favorites that have made their way into our weekly routine, both healthy and wallet friendly (thanks Rach!), but tonights din din has seriously made my number one list. It’s so good I HAD to share it with you peeps.

Roast Mushrooms and Kale over Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4 main dishes or 8 sides

2 pounds mushrooms ( i used white although you can get as fancy as you want)
3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
A few sprigs thyme
Salt and pepper
5 medium sweet potatoes peeled and cut 1/2 inch thick slices
1/2 c veggie or chicken stock
1/2 c milk or half and half
1 teaspoon paprika (best spice!)
Few dashes of you fav hot sauce ( I luv tapitio)
1 1/2 c shredded cheddar ( I used the Mexican blend we had on hand)
1 pound ( I bought one big bunch) of kale stemmed and chopped
Grated nutmeg ( I didn’t use bc we didn’t have any)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a large baking sheet dress the mushrooms with garlic and thyme with 1/4 c evoo and spread out. Roast the mushrooms for 20 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, in a pot, combine sweet potatoes And enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook under fork tender. Drain and mash with the stock and milk. Season with salt, pepper, hot sauce, and paprika. Stir in cheese.

While the potatoes are working their magic, in a bowl toss kale with some evoo and season with s&p. Roast until edges turn brown- 10 to 12 minutes.

Combine mushrooms, garlic, and kale. Serve on a bed of sweet potatoes.

I wasn’t sure how it would all turn out but this dinner was a head turner and filled up our bellies on this chilly November Sunday. One of the best parts (who am I kidding all of the parts are awesome!) was the fact that this meal was seriously under 10 bucks (over 5 by def less than 10 especially since I used ingredients I’m going to use for other meals this week) to make and we have leftovers for two days worth of lunches. Totally thinking about bringing this to Thanksgiving dinner or over the holidays when we are back in Cali. Nom. Nom.


Your mouth and belly will thank me later!

You Are Now Free to Move About the Country

Guess I’ve caught the travel bug. Not even close to being sick of this cool little town, but well, ya know how it is.

Here’s a few places on “the list”.

1. Croatia/Greece/Turkey

Jake found an awesome REI trip that he’s got in the works. Hiking, rafting, and kayaking. What could be better?

2. tropical yoga retreat

All you need is your mat, yoga clothes, and a bathing suit. Perf.

3. Chicago (Jake’s work headquarters)

Never been and who wouldn’t want to part take in a semi-expenses paid trip?

4. Home

Yes  Cali, you always have my heart

5. San Fran

6. Chick trip to anywhere with wine tasting, good food, and fabulous friends

Suggestions and ideas are more than welcome!

7. Cabo (who wouldn’t want to relive their honeymoon?)

Who wants to come?

Turkey Day

Are you wondering what we’ll be doing for good ol’ American Turkey Day?

Thought so.

1. strutting our stuff in Austin’s annual Turkey Trot

2. eating all the fixings at our friend’s house

3. swimming in a sea of burnt orange

Can you tell I’m excited to not have 21 children under my supervision for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week? At this point in the year, I’ll pretend like I know what’s going on when the crowd goes wild at the football game. They score runs right?

I really do love my job.


We originally had plans to head out to Enchanted Rock. This magical place has has rave reviews and it’s been on our “to-do” list for some time. Jake recently read that the best time to head out and hike Enchanted Rock was during sunset. So, last Sunday we had plans to get some errands among other odds and ends done in the morning before heading out.

The friends who we originally planned on going with weren’t able to go last minute but we thought we thought we would check it out anyways. After a short Google session (ie while we were driving there), we realized that it was a little farther than expected and is known to close the park early around this time of year because it gets so crowded. Not wanting to waste a beautiful Austin fall afternoon, we searched for another hike we’ve never encountered before.

Enter Hamilton Pool.

Little did we know that this detour would be the highlight of the weekend, providing surprisingly breathtaking views and natural springs.

I’ll let the (iphone) photos do the talking. They have a lot to say…

this pic definitely requires a

A short hike west lead us to a beautiful river. Looks like an amazing spot to swim in the Texas summer…

Aren’t random adventures the best? We think so.

You are Here

Jake and I babysat for a couple of kids who I help out with every other week. Their house is on Lake Travis <hello….tranquility!> so of course we couldn’t say no. Here’s a picture from their backyard.

welcome home

You better believe that this got Jake’s wheels turning. Wouldn’t you love to come and visit?