8.15.2014

2nd Anniversary - Maui - Part 2

So after a great first day in Maui, we woke up early again - but this time, it was for stand-up paddle board lessons! We went with Hawaiian Paddle Sports as they had the best reviews and were pretty reasonably priced. We were to meet our instructor at 8am - luckily it wasn't too far of a drive from our condo. He was ready for us with two great big boards and two paddles. He explained to us the paddle boarding boards are thicker than surf boards, which is especially helpful when teaching beginners like us since they are a bit easier to balance on. He gave us a quick lesson on the shore, and then we hopped into the water to try it out for ourselves. It was SO windy that morning, so it was definitely an arm and core workout to get the thing moving! The water was so cold too because it had rained overnight, so I was determined not to fall in.  I only fell once, but I think Tyler fell 5 or 6 times. :) Here's a couple pics from our lesson:



Even after doing spinning every Tuesday and Thursday along with two additional days of working out each week, my legs were still KILLING me after we did this for two hours! I totally thought I was going to be prepared, but it took so much leg strength and core and back strength to do this. At least I got a workout in while we were in Maui. :)

All that paddleboarding made us hungry, so after we left we went to the Fish Market to grab lunch. The Fish Market is a totally unassuming little joint in a strip center, but we had heard good things so we decided to check it out. You can order lunch there, or you can go to the fish counter and purchase fresh fish, so we did both.  I got a mahi mahi sandwich and Tyler got a mahi wrap.  Both were SO good.  Before we left, we purchase some fresh mahi from the fish counter so we could grill out that evening.




We spent the rest of the day lounging at the beach trying to recover from our strenuous activity that morning, and then we cooked out again so we could enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery.  It was an early night to bed so we could get up the next morning to drive the Road to Hana!  More on that in my next Maui post. :)

7.23.2014

2nd Anniversary - Maui - Part 1

Woah.  So its been a while since I've sat down and written a blog post. We've had so much going on that I kind of forgot about it!  Oops! I'll try to be better about posting. :)

So one of the highlights of the past few months was celebrating our second wedding anniversary in Maui! Tyler and I of course love to travel so we really wanted to go somewhere special that neither of us had been. Once we decided on Maui, I spent hours researching the best place to stay, the best places to eat, the best things to do, and had an itinerary for each day we were there - yes, I'm a little crazy - but I'm so glad we had everything planned out so we didn't feel like we missed anything.  I'll start with our first day:

Day 1
We flew out at a decent time, so even with the 8 hour flight we landed in Maui early afternoon.  It was a direct flight too, so that was awesome. It was the longest flight Tyler had ever been on, but gotta prepare him for when we go to Europe. :)  Right when we got there we picked up our convertible and went straight to Costco to stock up on essentials for our week. We knew we didn't want to eat out for every single meal, and wanted to be able to just pack an easy lunch and bring it down to the beach so we didn't waste time going out for lunch and it ended up working out really well.  Our condo at Honua Kai was SO nice.  Stainless steel appliances, washer and dryer, huge lania - it was so great. We'd definitely stay there again or recommend it to anyone traveling to Maui. Its just north of Lahaina on the west side of the island on Ka'anapali Beach and really close to town and restaurants. Speaking of restaurants, we got unpacked and settled just in time for dinner and went to Star Noodle. It was AMAZING.  Just a cheap little noodle place, but neither Tyler or I have ever had noodles that good before.  Yummmmmm.




Day 2
Since we were still used to Dallas time, it was the easiest day for us to wake up early so we planned on driving all the way across Maui to see the sunrise at Haleakala. We woke up at 3am to make the 2 hour drive across the island.  Getting to the volcano only took a little over an hour, but once we started traveling up it, it took about another hour and was a little unnerving.  It was pitch black and hairpin turns the entire way.  When we got to the parking area we were shocked at how many people were already there - people everywhere!! At the bottom of the volcano it was about 73 degrees, but once we made it up the entire 10,000 feet elevation, the temperature had plummeted to about 40 degrees with 40 mph wind gusts making it feel below freezing! Everyone was in down jackets with blankets and hoodies and gloves. We found a little spot by the edge and waited for the sun to come up. It was quite cloudy, which I was actually excited about because I knew the sunrise would reflect on the clouds and make for some amazing views.  And, boy, was it amazing.  I'm so glad we made the trek to see it. The pictures speak for themselves.






After the sunrise, we made our way down the volcano. And with the sun out, we could see that a lot of the side of the road had 90 degree dropoffs with no barrier - good thing we couldn't see it on our way up!

video

We then stopped at Hula Lodge for breakfast. I got hot chocolate (yes, hot chocolate in Hawaii!) and the views were amazing.




After breakfast, we drove to Ho'okipa Beach on the north shore to check out some windsurfers. Since this beach is on the north shore its quite rough so its really popular with windsurfers and boogie boarders - lots of locals hang out here. One of the windsurfer's dogs was on the beach and he kept us quite entertained. He'd grab coconuts and then shred them with his teeth! Such a beach dog!


 



After such an early morning, we grabbed lunch at Gestes Shrimp Truck (another must visit, SO GOOD) and then spent the afternoon at the beach.  The beach at Honua Kai is so nice - white sand, clear water, and lots of coral so it was good for snorkeling.


Honua Kai also has really nice grounds and a grilling area with brand new Weber grills, so we decided to enjoy the scenery and nice weather and grilled out that evening.  There were beautiful sunset views!




Such a great start to our trip.  I'll finish out the rest of our trip in a couple additional posts. :)

2.27.2014

Jambalaya

Well hello there. It's been a while. I'm in the middle of 400 projects and I haven't been focused on updating my blog. Sorry. And since I'm in the middle of 400 projects, I don't currently have any before and after shots to show, so I'm just going to share a recipe.

Tyler and I love our house. But there is one thing we really dislike. Our freezer. We have this awesome SubZero fridge...but the freezer, well, it is small. And we don't like it. We have to shove things in there and rearrange like we're playing a never ending game of Tetris. We're about to break down and buy a deep freezer for the garage. Needless to say, I'm constantly trying to use as many of the items in our freezer as I can since we can't really fit anything in there. Some of our friends gave us some frozen venison sausage, and all I could think was where in the freezer was it going to fit! Well, it didn't fit, so it went in the fridge, which meant I had to use it.

Now I would typically use an andouille sausage or a turkey sausage in my jambalaya, but since we had the venison, that's what got used. I guess it was a good mix of Texas meets Cajun. You can use whatever sausage you like best. (Splurge for the andouille!) Here we go:

Jambalaya
2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
1 tablespoon Tony Chachere's
Sausage (the recipe calls for 10 oz, but you can put in as much as you like)
1 lb chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion diced
1 small green bell peper diced
2 stalks celery diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 16 ounce can crushed Italian tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon file powder
1 1/4 cups uncooked white rice (not instant rice)
2 1/2 cups chicken broth


Heat 1 tbsp of peanut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Season the sausage and chicken with Tony's. Saute the sausage first until browned. Remove and then add 1 tbsp peanut oil and then saute the chicken pieces. Remove.

In the same pot, saute the onion, bell peper, celery, and garlic for a few minutes. Stir in the tomatoes then add the red pepper, black pepper, salt, Tabasco, Worcestershire, and file powder. Add the chicken and sausage back to the mixture and cook for 10 minutes.

Stir in the rice and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 - 25 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.

Super easy, right? Enjoy!


12.29.2013

White Elephant Gift Exchange

Tyler and I decided we wanted to throw a little Christmas party this year, so we gathered a few of our friends together and had a White Elephant Gift Exchange.  This was our first get together in our new house where we had more than 6 total people, all strangers, in the house, so we were a little nervous about how Stella would act (we ended up with 14 people!)  Luckily, Collin and Meagan got here first, and since she's known them since she was a puppy, it made things much more comfortable for her. While I was busy getting all the appetizers ready, Tyler was having some sort of serious work emergency, so unfortunately, I was super busy and wrapped up in getting everything ready before everyone arrived that I took zero pictures. I suck, big time.  BUT, here's the skinny on the appetizers I served:

Caprese Sandwiches
Hawaiian King Rolls
Mozzarella log
Roma tomatoes
Salami slices
Pesto

These were basically off-the-cuff, no recipe, but SO easy, and a huge hit. I got a package of Hawaiian King rolls and sliced them, not all the way, but so the top and bottom were still connected.  I spread pesto spread on both sides of the inside of the roll, and then added a mozzarella slice to each, a tomato slice to each (sprinkled with salt), and a salami slice.  HUGELY popular at the party, and super easy!

Baked Brie Phyllo Cups with Craisins
Adapted from this recipe on SkinnyTaste (If you haven't checked out SkinnyTaste yet, you seriously need to!)  I didn't have walnuts, and I was lazy rushed for time and just put the brie in the cup, topped with craisins, then drizzled honey.  No mixing, still yummy.

image via SkinnyTaste

Puppy Chow
This is a holiday staple, right?  Luckily, I had premade a huge batch and given mason jars of Puppy Chow as gifts, so no prep was needed the night of the party.  Perfect.

Recipe from Chex.
image via Chex
Chocolate Swirl Cookies
I also made these ahead of time, so all I had to do was slice them!  This recipe makes a pretty big batch, so I was able to bake several logs and just keep them in the fridge throughout the holidays.

Recipe from Recipe Girl.


image from Recipe Girl

Spiked Apple Cider
I wanted to have a warm beverage option, and something different than wine or beer.  This was super easy, and made a large batch.  Easy to make virgin or with alcohol.

Recipe from Lauren Conrad.

image from LaurenConrad.com

We had several different groups of friends join us, but everyone got along really well and mingled amongst themselves.  It was so great!  We all had a really great time - even Stella was a rockstar and everyone was obsessed with her.  She was so well behaved once we introduced her to everyone - we were definitely proud parents!  We had some super fun gifts unwrapped ($10 value) - I think the two most popular were the Hot Booties (socks that you put in the microwave to keep your feet toasty) and a bottle of Crown Royal, half emptied to meet the $10 maximum value (we have some creative friends.) The party finally shut down at 2am.  I'd call that a big success!  We can't wait to do it again next year!

12.15.2013

Life with an Australian Shepherd

In honor of our puppy dog's upcoming 1st birthday, I thought I'd put together a post of things we've learned about having an Australian Shepherd as a pet. We have so many people stop us when we have Stella out around town that tell us what a beautiful dog we have, how unique she is, how its so cool she has two different colored eyes - and of course we agree but we're partial because she's our pet and we love her! But there is so much more to having an Aussie than their good looks. Having an Australian Shepherd is definitely hard work!! Yes, everyone says she's still in the puppy phase, but from speaking with other Aussie owners and breeders, and reading (LOTS of reading) this "puppy phase" doesn't go away anytime soon.  Here is a list of several things we had been told prior to getting Stella and have absolutely learned to be true about the breed (along with some cute pictures!) over the past 10 months:

2 months old
2 months old

High Energy Dog
Every breeder and owner that we talked to prior before committing to the breed warned us that Aussies are high energy dogs. And, boy, they weren't kidding! Australian Shepherds are working dogs and are born to run and run and run, and herd farm animals in rain, snow, and heat. Stella needs hours upon hours of attention each day. She enjoys running (several miles), playing fetch with tennis balls, chewing on Nyla bones (bacon flavor is her favorite), tugawar - non-stop from the second we get home from work until we go to bed. Our lifesaver has been bringing her to doggy daycare twice a week. She can run all day and also gets exposure to other dogs - socialization is very important!

5 months old

Herding Dog
As I mentioned before, Aussies are born to herd. Because of this, its a never ending battle to keep her from herding Max and it tends to get chaotic indoors. Stella also tries to herd squirrels in the backyard, the stray cats that live next door, and even me and Tyler! We often have Stella nipping on our heels!

5 months old
Smart Dog
Australian Shepherds are extremely intelligent and highly trainable. Stella was house trained by the 2nd day, was able to sit on command by day 4, and over the past 10 months has learned the following commands - lay, crate, place, and sit, and has learned to not move out of those commands until we tell her to. She also knows "inside", "outside", and "treat" (which also means 'get in your crate'.) She knows the diffence between "Dad" and "Mom", and we have to be VERY careful about saying the "S" word (School!)  I've heard stories about Aussies being able to tell the difference between letter A and letter B on wooden blocks.  We're not there yet. :)

5 months old
Velcro Dog
Along the lines of being extremely smart, Australian Sheperds have a nickname of "Velcro Dog" because they're obsessed with their owners. All they want in life is to please their owners, which goes along with being highly trainable. Stella will follow us around, and literally wants to be touching one of us if at all possible.

11 months old

11 months old

Guard Dog
Because Australian Shepherds place such high importance on their immediate family, they tend to be a bit stand-offish to strangers, and very protective if they feel like someone is intruding on their home.  Stella's bark is fierce, and is a great deterent for intruders. However, it sometimes makes it difficult to have friends and family over. We have to make it evident to Stella that these people are our people and that she needs to chill out. It takes a good 5 minutes for her to feel comfortable with guests, and we have to make a production out of it. She has NEVER been aggressive, and we don't think she ever would be, but we always make sure we are right there with her when she meets new people.

11 months old - my smiley puppy!
Fluffy Dog
One of the items on my wish list for a dog was soft and fluffy - Stella definitely fits the bill! Aussies have an under coat and a top coat, which means she sheds a lot and must be groomed often. We have to vacuum daily and brush her at least twice a week so her hair doesn't get matted. One interesting thing we've learned about her coat is that it is waterproof (so they can continue to herd in the rain without getting weighed down) so giving her a bath seems to take forever because the water just rolls off her fur. However, she's perfect for petting and cuddling because she's sooooo soft and fluffy. :)  Some other distinguishable characteristics of Aussies is that they have docked tails and no dew claws. They will not be recognized as Australian Shepherds if they have either of those things, and Mini Aussies are also not recognized as Australian Shepherds.

There are also several different colors of Aussies. Stella is a Blue Merle, which is evident by her spotted coat. They often have blue, or multi-colored eyes. It is also common for them to have an eye that may be half blue and half brown. Stella actually has a small brown spec in her blue eye. Aussies can also be tri-colored, red, or red merle. We've talked about maybe getting another one (when we have a bigger house), and we'd love to get a little tri brother for Stella!

11 1/2 months old

11 1/2 months old - no tail :)

Stella has such specific personality traits. She's SUPER sweet and cuddley.  She tends to worry (she gets that from her mom) but tries to look at the bright side of things. Sometimes she's mischevious and has her own hidden agenda, which usually means digging in the flowerbed in the backyard.  But she always runs back to us and smiles and we forgive her immediately.

10 1/2 months - taken by Angie Ochoa

We would tell anyone considering getting an Aussie that they must have the time and dedication to give them as much exercise and activity, as well as mental stimulation, as they need to prevent them from becoming bored and destructive. Even when we're exhausted we make sure we try to wear her out because she could totally destroy our house if she had the opportunity.  We've found that the best toys for this are Nyla bones for her to chew on, ropes (Target has tug-a-war ropes for $1, we go through them very quickly!), tennis balls, and the Starmark Everlasting Treat Groovy Ball - BEST $25 I've spent in my life. She also loves stuffed animals with no stuffing, but those get torn up within 1 night and then she insists on playing with the scraps.

Overall, Australian Shepherds are a lot of work, but worth all the effort. We're so glad she had one "grey spot" that prevented her from being a show dog so she would ultimately become our pet - we love our Stella Bear!

10 1/2 months - taken by Angie Ochoa

12.07.2013

Homeownership project #5: Refinishing the hardwoods - Complete!

Hi guys!  Sorry for the delay on this post - things got a little busy with Thanksgiving.  The floors are complete!  They look so much better, and it wasn't even that big of an inconvenience to go through the process of getting them redone.  It probably helped that I've been putting off buying furniture so we didn't have much to move!  The color is a nice, medium brown - not too dark, not orange at all - and it looks so nice in the bedrooms.  Here are a few pictures:




 






They look a little orange in the pictures, and I even tried adjusting the white balance on my camera but they still kept photographing slightly warm, but I promise they're just neutral brown!  Next on the list:
  1. Repaint baseboards
  2. Paint bedrooms
  3. Fill with furniture
I've already ordered some chairs for the front room.  They were custom order so they should be arriving towards the end of January.  Also on the list is to get a new bed (king size!) for our master bedroom, and then move our current bed into the empty guest bedroom.  After that I'll just have a few more key pieces that I really want, and then will be time to finish the decorating portion.  So glad to have the wood floors done - now things will really start to come together!

11.18.2013

Homeownership project #5: Refinishing the hardwoods - During

Wood floors are under way!  The carpet was ripped up and all the floors were sanded down. Here are a few pictures from when I got home today:



No carpet!!

So glad the carpet is gone!  Can't wait to get those walls painted!





Front guest room
When the contractor got here this morning, we peeled back a corner of the carpet in the guest room to see the entire floor underneath.  He realized that the carpet pad was not glued down, but there was glue on the floor.  That means this is at least the second set of carpet that's been down on the floor.  I can't believe it was in style to cover up those beautiful wood floors! I picked out a medium brown stain that will go down tomorrow. I can't wait to come home from work tomorrow to see how it turns out. :)