Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Aimee's Visit!...and our new table!

Aimee came to visit this past weekend after being in Dallas on business.  Thank you Southwest for having cheap flights from Dallas to Houston!  Aimee pledged Pi Delta with me in the fall of 2005, and the rest has been history...  We lived next door to each other in the dorm sophomore year, shared a bedroom in an apartment for 3 months junior year, and then lived in Royal Arms together with Whitney for 2 years.  Needless to say she is one of my closest friends; I am so very thankful for her!

  Aimee got here Thursday night just in time for dinner.  We took her to one of our new favorite Pearland places and hung out until bed...I missed my 9:30 bedtime :)

Unfortunately on Friday, both M and I had to work, but Friday night we all went to a new Mexican restaurant called Taco Milagro in town.  The food was great; both it and the atmosphere reminded us of Baja Burrito, with a larger menu.  On the way home we passed a sign saying "Houston House of Pies"...None of us could help it, we just had to go in.  And boy, I'm so glad we did.  We took our pies (well M got a cream puff) home and all fell asleep watching TV :)

Aimee and Matthew dancing to the live music.

Saturday we took Aimee to one of our ABSOLUTE favorite Houston places, Central Market.  The only thing I can say to describe it is that it's a Whole Foods on Steroids.  For two foodies like M and me, it's a cook's Mecca.  The best part is the cafe in the store where you can get sandwiches, salads, soups, pasta, quesadillas, vegetables, dips, etc...  We've lived here only 2 months and have made the 25 minute drive 4 times just to eat there.

Saturday night we (or I should say M) cooked in.  He grilled a delicious salmon, roasted some peppers and asparagus, and my new favorite...swiss chard with onions/bacon/and garlic.  Delicious.  How lucky am I to have a husband that cooks!?

Sunday we took her to church, a little furniture shopping, and then sadly the airport :( Aimee it was so fun having you here!  You are welcome anytime!

 So our table finally came in... No chairs yet, so don't get too excited :)  But I am so happy with the table. I was a little leery that it would get there and I would change my mind, but fortunately I have felt no buyer's remorse!  We will be keeping this thing for a VERY long time. 

Here she is!  I'm obsessed with it. 

It's already 8 feet long and it came with 2 two foot leaves...for whenever we have a dining room big enough!

Close up...
That's all going on here!  Headed to Chicago for Labor Day Weekend and then Mom and Dad will be here!!  Can't wait. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Almost There

This picture accurately describes my feelings on this Saturday..especially since our local stations aren't picking up the Titans preseason game tonight, but instead the Pretentious Patriots... Ugh.

Also, Aimee Crick is here for the weekend!  Hooray!  And...the table is in!  Stay tuned for pics :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Life in Houston

 5 Things to Love About Houston

1.  Shopping anyone?  I know.  I'm not the most enthusiastic shopper, but when it comes to quality shopping...don't send a girl.  How can you not love a mall that has a Nordstrom's, Neiman Marcus, and a Saks...all in ONE place!  Matthew can think of $100's of reasons I'm sure.   Add in Gucci, Bvlgari,Chanel, Fendi, Armani, Stuart Weitzman, Valentino, and Versace...just to name a few, and I'm short of a going into a clothing coma. I think everyone knows where Vick the Chick and I will be spending some quality time in a few weeks when Mom and Dad get here!

2.  Professional Sporting Events.  With the NFL Lock-out over and done with, Matthew and I cannot wait for the Titans to come play in January... Now that the NBA season's future is looking dim, M and I are heartbroken.  We were already planning to buy a pack of tickets to enjoy seeing the Rockets...and more importantly Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes play.  And then there's the Astros.... bless their hearts.  Of course, there's always the MLS team, the Dynamos...where they will pretty much pay you to show up to a game.  I'm interested, M would take a little more convincing.

3.  Shipley's Donuts.  How a ball of sugary dough can bring you so much joy is beyond me.  I have NEVER been a donut fan.  I've always been able to pass on Krispy Kreme's "Hot Now!".  But something about Shipley's has me hooked.  I can't get enough of them!  Our house rule is donuts on the weekends only....Sometimes once, other times twice :)

4.  H-E-B- Our local grocery store!  Most people assume that H-E-B stands for "Here Everything's Better"...which is totally true, but a true Houstonian like me knows that it actually stands for Howard E. Butts.  Not surprising that they are trying to distance themselves from the name :)  This grocery not only has the BEST deals, but it's clean, has incredibly fresh produce, coupons attached to items in the store, free food samples EVERY day of the week (not just Saturdays), awesome pre-seasoned/stuffed hamburgers/seafood/chicken/etc..., a homemade sushi station, a cooking demonstration in the afternoons, and a Hispanic lady that makes homemade/fresh corn and flour tortillas everday!  And they are A-MA-ZING.    I seriously couldn't ask for more.  In Birmingham, I missed Kroger a lot.  We have one a couple of minutes from our house here and I've never been...I love H-E-B that much. 

5.  New Friends.  God has been so present in our lives ever since we got here...from placing us behind people at church our first Sunday that we had connections with, to them in turn introducing us to a couple who lives just right down the road.  I know that I've said all this before, but hardly a day does by where M and I fail to mention to each other how grateful we are!

5 Things to Dislike About Houston

1.  Traffic.  I don't ever want to see another facebook status from someone in Nashville complaining about traffic..  Come to Houston.  A 3 minute drive can turn into 30... not exaggerating, it happened to us last weekend.  If you want to avoid traffic, you can take the Tollway.  But in order for me to do that to come home from work, it cost $2.50, ONE WAY!  Crazy?  I think so!  Now, I know, Green Hills traffic can make you want to pull your hair out; I lived it for 4 years.  But here, it's just on another level.  I've got to find me some good books on tape...  Or I guess I should say CD.  Newflash, it's not 1990 anymore.
This is actually Houston, according to Google Images.

2.  HEAT!!  It is unbearably hot here right now.  We are currently on day 23 of 3 digit temperatures..a record here in case you were wondering.  With no end in sight.  Everyday the meteorologist acts as if the city deserves to win a prize for beating the odds once again!  Our grass is slowly dying one blade at a time.  There's only so much watering you can do.  Apparently the best time of day to water is at 3:00 in the morning.  Well, what if you don't have a sprinkler system?...I would rather have dead grass then set my alarm at 3AM to wake up and water the yard.   Although, everyone can just be jealous when it's in the 50's and 60's here in Jan/Feb....I secretly think I'm going to miss the cold.

3.   Hurricane Season.  Right now, anybody in Houston would tell you that we'd love for a little tropical storm to pass right on through.  We need rain badly!  It hasn't rained at our house in close to a month... On the flip side, I'm not looking forward to a big boy of a hurricane making it's way here.  Unfortunately, we live on the south side of Houston, AKA closer to the coast.  In 2008, Hurricane Ike caused $29.6 billion dollars of damages in the US after hitting landfall in Galveston, TX...45 minutes south of us.  Ike caused the biggest evacuation ever in Texas, and I know that a lot of the roofs in our neighborhood wore torn completely off due to the storm.  I think this is actually the hurricane we were worried about hitting us before we left on our honeymoon... I've been told to put all of our important documents in water-proof containers, buy non-perishable foods to keep in the pantry, and always keep a gallon of gas in the garage...Haven't done any of the 3. 

4.  Everything's BIGGER in Texas.  I don't know if this is really a bad thing, it has just taken some getting used to.  Nashville was a decent size city, but because of the southern hospitality it felt more small-town.  Birmingham was even smaller... In Houston, everything is 20+ minutes away.  You could get from one end of Birmingham to the other in 20 minutes!  Driving to church is 30 minutes, work is 30-45 minutes (for M it's 20), the big mall is 25 min...you get the drift.  Thankfully our little suburb covers most of the bases.  We've got tons of restaurants, a small outdoor mall, Target, tons of grocery stores, etc... And Matthew's staples- Best Buy and Home Depot. We don't have to leave if we don't want to on the weekends other than for church, which is nice.

To give you an idea of where we live/work/drive.  We live in Pearland...Although our house is actually west of the Pearland marker.  We go to church in Sugar Land.  And Matthew's work is right inside that interstate loop that surrounds the city.  My work is directly north of Sugar Land on the interstate that takes you directly west out of Houston towards Katy.  Far..

5.  Being Far Away.  I'm NOT adjusting well to the "flying only" option for traveling home.  1. I don't love flying (I'm not phobic, I just don't always like it) 2. It's expensive.  Right now, we're debating flying to Cinci for Thanksgiving vs. buying a new rug and loveseat.  The flights are so expensive on those dates that the latter option might possibly be cheaper.  The furniture we can keep for a while, while a trip is only a few days...but then again memories are priceless :) 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Birthday Celebrations!

Friday night M and I took what turned from being a 25 minute drive to a 50 minute drive to get to dinner...  Who would have thought that in the 4th largest city in the US, traffic can be a bit of a problem? At 7:00 though..seriously??  Since my husband set a precedence before we moved here that we would never use the tollway for ANY reason...we got to Cheddars a little later than anticipated.  Nonetheless, we arrived, and the Casual Cafe did not disappoint...I had been saving up calories all week.  Chicken tenders, bbq ribs, and the infamous cookie monster.

Birthday boy excited about Cheddars.
We figured our arteries weren't clogged properly enough...
  Saturday night, we hosted a dinner party to celebrate Matthew and Kelly's birthdays.  Kelly and Glen are our new incredible friends that we met the first Sunday we went to church in Houston...  We have a lot in common with them...and it also helps that they have one of the cutest/happiest babies ever :)  Sam and Christel and their sweet baby boy Eli came as well!  We all live within a couple of minutes from one another, such an awesome blessing to have friends that close in a city this big!

No, our dining room table still isn't in.  Hopefully this week.  Thankfully Sam and Chris have a folding table that seats 6!

Matthew and I spent most of the day Saturday cleaning, cooking, baking, and other chores... Lexi really must be used to sleeping ALL day while we are at work because this is what she looked like around 3 in the afternoon... bless her heart.

Baby Glen wore something special in honor of M's birthday...his Birthday Suit!

We served one of M's favorite homemade meals... Fish tacos with homemade slaw, cilantro/lime sour cream, Mexican rice, and black bean salsa.

Christel and sweet Eli

Big Glen and Sam

The Birthday Kids.. Homemade carrot cake per M's request.

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


The Big 2-8.  Happy Birthday to the sweetest, most caring husband who showers me with Christ-like love everyday!  I'm so incredibly blessed to have Matthew as my better half....  I can't believe that the first time I called M to wish him a happy birthday he was turning 23 in 2006!  Here we are 5 years later...

2007- Our first dating birthday celebration.  I surprised him for his 24th in Bham with a German Chocolate cake on the way back from the beach with my family.  

2008-  Due to M's birthday falling less than a month before our wedding, we were crazy busy.  The closet picture I could find to his bday was at our bachelor/bachelorette parties a week later... I do know that the weekend of his birthday, we watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics on 08/08/08...and celebrated his 25th birthday at Demos!

2009- Panama City Beach.  As luck would have it, we got to celebrate M's 26th birthday at the beach during Smith family vacation!

2010- M rang in his 27th by working all day on GrandDaddy's farm.  M would rather be breaking a sweat at Happy Acres than doing pretty much anything else!  Grandma Eva cooked a delicious birthday dinner...and a few days later we left for our cruise!
This year, M's one birthday wish was to eat at Cheddars tomorrow night... And Saturday we're having some couples over for dinner to celebrate as well!  Happy Birthday Matthew.  I love you, and I hope that we get to celebrate 60 more!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Since We've Been Here

I got off work early today.  Score!  As I was walking to my car, I briefly contemplated that I might go to the pool and take in some rays, until I got into my car and realized that today it is 105!  My chalky white skin could definitely use some sun, but definitely not enough to die of a heat stroke.... So, instead I opted to sit in bed and blog while watching my DVR'd episodes of ENews... I know, trivial as it may be, I can't get enough about The Royals, it's borderline obsessive.

We've been here about a month and a half.  I figured I'd fill everyone in on life in the Lonestar State....  Other than it being blistering hot, we're slowly(or maybe quickly...who knows) adjusting to life here.  We've already found a great church...we're placing membership on Sunday.  The congregation has been super friendly and made it very easy to get plugged in.  Answered prayer.  We found a small group that meets in our neighborhood with couples our age... HUGE answered prayer. And we found some really great friends, making it easier to be so far away from our old ones...never to be replaced though! Jobs are going well.  M is still getting used to having a set time to go into work and leave :)  He's also still tying up loose ends in Birmingham... he has had 2 reviews to write and submit, and another paper of his just got accepted...I'm failing to remember the name of the Journal.  Whoops.  Anyway, all that to say, Matthew has been extremely busy.  Going in to work early, leaving late, and getting home to do his "old" work.  I'm so proud of him!  Other than that, here are some pictures to bring everyone up to speed.

We went to an Astros game the 2nd week we were here.  It was a lot of fun, but definitely a different experience with the Park being enclosed.  Not to mention that the Astros are TERRIBLE!

I tried my hand at a chocolate souffle.  The recipe was awesome...although I wanted mine to come out fluffier... I'm pretty sure it's because I over folded the egg whites.  Thankfully it was an aesthetic issue and not a taste one :)

JULY 15-  Does the date give you any idea where we were? Waiting in line for HARRY POTTER!    It lived up to every expectation.  Definitely sad.  I'm not gonna hide it, of course I cried.

We literally received all 3 of these publications in the mail in 1 single day.  The mailman must think we are total losers. 

And 1.5 month later...  Guess what came in the mail today?
Due to a mix-up,  we made it to Houston without 2 things.... Our toolbox and my make-up (long story).  SO excited to finally have this back in my possession!  Call me shallow...I don't even care.

Guess what else is supposed to come in the mail today?  My new phone!  Goodbye stupid Android phone and hello Blackberry.  Sprint, you are terrible.  I hate your stinkin guts... I know hate is a strong word, but after spending 3.5 hours on the phone with them this past Saturday... I'm so over the "Now Network"... and as soon as our contracts are up next summer, we are peacing out!  IPhone 5's all around for these Hardisons! 

House pictures:  Here is what we have done with the house thus far.   We still have a lot to do.  Baby steps. 

Can't wait to get a new beautiful rug for this room.. Wait being the key word.  It's way down on the priority list for now.  Also planning on getting a loveseat...at some point. 

I love how Lex is chillin in the corner of this picture. Notice the pretty flowers M brought home! 

Our first furniture purchase in Houston.  We found this antique buffet/sideboard at a furniture flea market in the antique district in Houston.  Built in the 1950's... I'm obsessed with it... Not to mention we got a great deal on it.  I'm still contemplating whether I want to paint it.  I guess I will wait until we get our dining room table in... that we just bought this past Sunday!  The table was on back-order so it won't get here for a couple more weeks.  The house will definitely feel more complete with it... disregarding the fact that people will probably have to sit on folding chairs until we get real ones!
That's about it.  Gearing up to celebrate M's birthday next week!  Hint hint..it's the 11th :)  He has a presentation the day after his birthday, so it looks like we'll be waiting to celebrate until the weekend.  My good friend Aimee is coming to visit in a couple of weeks.  Labor Day we are going to be in Chicago with the Allens, Hasselbrings, and Joneses.  We are staying a couple extra nights to celebrate our 3 year anniversary!  And the week after we get back, Mom and Dad will be here for a short visit!  Looking forward to all the fun!