Can’t believe I’m sitting down to write this blog and it’s already February 1st, 2019! Seems like just yesterday that we were cheers’ing in the new year. 2019 is already off to an exciting start with our recent move from Austin, TX to Chattanooga, TN and I’m sure we’ll have lots of fun exploring this totally new area and building a new network, as we both establish ourselves in our new jobs.
But first, before 2019 zooms too far ahead, I wanted to do a look back on 2018 and share some of the highlights of each month. Lots of trips, life changes and more happened in 2018 and it was a fantastic year.
My good friend Cinthia and I signed up for an unlimited crafting membership at one of the most unique places in Austin, CRAFT. For about $40/month, we could show up at any time (and with any beverage we chose) and just get creative. The great thing about CRAFT is that it’s really like having your own personal crafting studio, but you don’t have to organize, clean up or do any of the other stuff that makes crafting a burden. Their motto is, “we hoard, so you don’t have to,” and their two rules are, “no judgment and keep your paintbrushes in water.” Love it. Cinthia and I regularly went on Wednesday evenings after work from about 6-8pm and it was such a nice break during the week and a good way to socialize other than happy hour. If you don’t want to sign up for the monthly membership, you can just drop in and craft for $10/hr.
Jason and I took a spontaneous trip to Enchanted Rock in the hill country and he proposed! I was thrilled and said yes and we started planning our wedding asap. You can read all about our wedding planning process in my blog, Planning a Wedding 4 Months.
Jason’s sister got married in Beeville, Texas, not too far from the Texas coast. Her ceremony and reception were at the most fabulous Berclair Mansion and guests even got to take tours of the supposedly haunted former house of five sisters. It was a beautiful wedding with lots of dancing and love from the family.
After Jennifer’s wedding, it was time for our friends, Colin and Ellie, to tie the knot. They had a super fun wedding in mid-March at The Mercury Hall in South Austin. It was a beautiful site for a ceremony and reception and they even rented a fun photobooth trailer for guests to try out.
Jason and I also went to the Austin Rodeo to hear one of our favorite bands, the Turnpike Troubadours. Before the show, we walked around the fairgrounds and spent some time in the petting zoo, holding baby animals. Gahhh! Sweet little goat.
Aww, yes, the season of wildflowers in Texas! This was a month filled with lots of outdoor fun, enjoying the perfect weather before summer hit.
Wanting to see friends and also enjoy the nice spring weather, we organized a Fried Chicken Friday picnic with friends, Jess, Dan and Cinthia. We met up at about 6:30pm at the Mueller Lake Park, spread out a blanket and all enjoyed some juicy, deep-fried, chicken from the very gourmet KFC. Nobody had to host, nobody had to clean up and then we all went for a walk in the moonlight afterward. Easy friday night idea!
We also made a trip down to Corpus Christi to help our friends from CRAFT out with an event. On the way home, we stopped at Palmetto State Park and enjoyed walking through the shady trails and seeing the palm trees.
Vivian (sister) and her boyfriend (now fiance!) took us out on Lake Austin on their boat for an evening cruise. We met them at the Lake Austin boat ramp and they took us up to Emma Long Metro Park and back…just before some storms blew in.
I turned 32! May 9th is my birthday and my family took me out for a fun meal at Hula Hut on Lake Austin. Jason was out of town at a work conference, but otherwise would’ve been there of course. We shared margaritas, fajitas and some delicious chocolate-raspberry cake! If you haven’t been to Hula Hut, you gotta check it out…maybe it’s a little touristy, but it’s so nice being on the water and having the fresh breeze.
Vivian and I also went to Cancun for my bachelorette party and Jason’s side of the family threw us a really nice wedding shower.
My friend, Cinthia, organized a Summer Solstice gathering at the slab rock, just below Barton Springs Pool. She brought blankets, candles, homemade Mexican food and guests trickled in for a couple of hours to enjoy the longest day of the year with each other. Very unique!
My friends and I also started a relaxed running club called the Funners (…Fun Runners) and we did a couple of runs together. One morning, we met up at the Barton Springs Pool House in a torrential downpour and still decided to go out for our run. We tromped through puddles, sloshed in our shoes and goofed around in the mini “waterfalls.” It was a blast!
Oh yeah, we got married and took our honeymoon to the San Juan Islands in Washington.
In July, of all months, I signed up to take a puff pastry baking class at Make It Sweet in Austin. I took with my friend, Sarah, and new friend, Allison, and we all had fun making homemade poptarts, cheese straws, elephant ears and more. I recommend taking classes there…keep an eye on their facebook page for 50% sales.
In July, I also became a Certified Personal Trainer and passed my written, and lab, exams. I’d been attending two classes per week for the previous 6 weeks through a professional education program at UT. I learned a ton and took the course and became certified!
Jason and I took a trip to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, which you can read more about in my post: Exploring Los Angeles and Santa Barbara on a Budget. When we got back from California, the first thing we did was meet up with family to go for an evening kayak paddle on Town Lake. It was a great way to spend the evening and catch up with everyone.
August in Texas is all about staying as close to water as possible. In addition to kayaking, we also spent some time at Barton Springs Pool, enjoying the refreshing water. It’s best to go during the week, when the water is clearest and the crowds are small.
Election season was in full swing and Beto O’Rourke was running for Senator and bringing a breath of fresh air into state politics. He spoke at Texas State and Jason and I went down to see him and Mom joined us.
Mom, Vivian and I also participated in the CASA Superhero 5k in Austin. We dressed up (thanks for the costumes, Mom!) and had so much fun running about 3 miles with hundreds of other folks in costume.
We took a weekend trip out to Fort Davis, Texas for an Open Weekend at the Davis Mountains Preserve. You can read more about this adventure and hiking Mt. Livermore in my blog: Hiking Mt. Livermore in Fort Davis, Texas.
Ahh, back to the perfect temperature days of Central Texas. Jason bought an old fishing pole from a friend and we spent an afternoon at St. Edwards Park, just enjoying the sunshine and quiet time. St. Edwards Park is kind of an undiscovered gem in the Austin area. It has about 2 miles of trails and lots of little pools of river water, which is usually pretty clear. It’s in Northwest Austin, off of Old Spicewood Springs Road, and you definitely need a car to get there.
Mom and I also took a day trip to Doeskin Ranch in the Balcones Canyonland National Wildlife Refuge. It’s free to visit and offers 3-4 miles of hiking trails. I don’t think dogs or bikes are allowed, so just plan to come for a couple of hours and maybe have a picnic.
Jason got an interview with a company based in Chattanooga, TN. It went well and they flew him out for an in-person interview…I tagged along to see what I thought too.
On a couple of Sundays, Mom and I met for church and then lunch afterward. We’d been trying out First United Methodist downtown and really enjoying the sermons, friendly congregation and nice building. Then Viv came downtown and met up with us for post-church lunch.
Then, before we knew it, the holidays were upon us! We celebrated a couple of Thanksgivings, the first was on Wednesday in San Marcos with my side of the family. We celebrated early because Vivian was working on Thanksgiving Day.
We found out that Jason got a new job in Chattanooga, TN and that we’d be moving there at the start of 2019. In December, we tried to maximize family time and see each other often! We also decorated for our first Christmas as a married couple and set up a tree.
We spent Christmas Eve with Jason’s side of the family and had a really fun party complete with a build-your-own-burrito-bowl bar, a White Elephant gift exchange and many ugly Christmas sweaters.
We were with my parents in San Marcos on Christmas Day and the day after and made a trip down to Gruene, TX to see my mom’s side of the family.
I also got some new gouache paints and did this little piece from a photo in a magazine. I want to do more in 2019!
Vivian and I got new hats for Christmas and have been enjoying wearing them. After Christmas, it was time to start packing for the big move to Chattanooga!