Monday, August 31, 2009

Red Velvet Layer Cake

For two days, I've had the urge to make a layer cake. I love to cook but I'm not much of a baker, probably because I just don't have a sweet tooth and I am usually indifferent about dessert. My husband is the opposite so, with the desire to bake and a ready and willing eater, I went to it.

The red dye looked like abstract art or blood in the buttermilk.

Red Velvet

I actually have a cake stand! It is also a punch bowl too so it has been used for sangria before but this was its first stint with a cake. The cake is frosted with cream cheese frosting and it was really hard to get it on the sides and make a nice pattern.

Red Velvet

cooking 009

And the taste test... very good! Austin is leaving his plate out of the dishwasher so he can have a little more tonight while he does his fantasy football draft picks.

Red Velvet

Friday, August 28, 2009

Back to School

It's Friday and I've taught all my classes and taken all but one. The classes I taught were good, one section being more squirrely than the other, and I cannot believe how fast three hours goes in comparison to the four hour stretches I taught in the fall. It's nice to have the confidence of teaching this class several times before, not to mention the lesson plans and materials!

As for the classes I'm taking, so far I've been to Psychology of Motivation and Emotion ("Mo & Emo") and Spanish Syntax and Semantics (grammar blast). The psych class was good and the work load seems manageable. The content will be applicable to my students not to mention to me personally as a bogged down grad student. The professor reminds me of my father-in-law, Dave, a smart, quirky, good person. Next Tuesday I'll start my third class, Psychology of Learning, which I'm really looking forward to and is rumored to involve a lot of reading. Like a LOT. One of my classmates is bringing me her copies of the articles because she feels like she "killed a forest" printing them out.

As for the weekend, we'll be laying low. Austin is shaking off a cold and we're both looking forward to having a full weekend to work on house projects. I'll be enjoying my last study-free weekend too, at least until late December.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Road Trip (squared)

The trip north was uneventful and smooth. We decided to push hard the first day so we could arrive with time to see people on the second day. For dinner, we found an outstanding little Mexican place in Topeka that I'll have to write an online review about, it was that good. Then we cruised on until we were just north of Kansas City and crashed.

The next morning, we were clear of the KC rush hour and pushed north. At this point, we were getting antsy. We stopped for lunch in northern IA and were disappointed that the Culver's there did not serve cheese curds; apparently we were still too far from WI. We got to MN and were welcomed with cool weather and rain, a really refreshing change from the TX summer weather.

Our first stop was Edina to see Austin's grandma in the hospital. We had a nice visit and also ran into Austin's uncle Chris so we were able to catch up with him too. Then we were off again to south Minneapolis and arrived at Austin's parents' house. Austin's brother and fiancee were there too and we were so happy to meet Carrie before the upcoming November wedding. Carrie made us veggie lasagna for dinner and we had a cozy evening sipping wine and talking.

Friday it was time to get to business- we met up with my parents and a friend (shout out to Bad Z!) for an early lunch and then headed to the dealership. It took awhile but soon our new little ride rolled up to the front door and we were off again to visit my aunt Leslie.

We went to Austin's sister's for dinner and my brother-in-law made some amazing homemade pizza. We had a nice visit with nephew Conner. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling so great and spent part of the time lying down. Then it was home and to bed for the return road trip the next day.

Liz made us a big breakfast to send us off and we said goodbye to Carrie and Nick (Mike was out of town). We were off again and, while the trip itself wasn't appealing, the new car was very enjoyable to drive and get to know.

All I can say about the return trip is that it was long. And boring. And in summary- Iowa, you win for having the most road "construction" (lane closures and cones but no visible work) and the nicest rest stops. Wireless internet! Beautiful landscaping and historic tidbits! Lovely. MissouriKansasOklahoma, ummm, well, sorry but I won't miss you.

And now we're home and Stinky is getting caught up on his backlog of love and pets and butt scratches and I've been jarred into the reality that fall semester starts tomorrow. Ack. Scramble. Rush. But more on that later, for now, here are some random photos from the trip.

Our views most of the time:

roadtrip 025

roadtrip 028

Storm tracker truck (this one's for Pucker):

roadtrip 021

Austin's favorite billboard (mine was "fried pies" but we couldn't get a good shot of it):

roadtrip 028

Just because I love this shot of the skyline:

roadtrip 004

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New Wheels

Here's the sweet new ride, a 2010 Scion tC. Details on the road trip later, right now it's time to sleep in our own bed again zzzzzz.......

New Car
We are back in texas and will be home this pm. Loving the new car and missing the furry black roommate.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

We're on the way back after a whirlwind trip. We were happy to see fam and friends and the new car is a dream!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Trivial Updates

For more minutia and details than you can stand, go here. I update it about every hour or so on the road (this is for the non-Facebookers).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Road Warriors

Thirteen hours later, we're checked into a hotel on the north side of Kansas City and ready to crash. It was an uneventful trip, good because that means we're safe and sound but, well, not that most scenic or enjoyable trip. We've got a few pictures of wacky billboards, a biker wearing viking horns, things of that nature, but I'm too tired to put them up.

We're heading out tomorrow hoping to get to the Twin Cities in the afternoon sometime tomorrow.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cat Cam!

The web cam set up that Austin created is off and running. It works great; there are two cameras that take a picture every minute. These pictures are then archived in 15 minute chunks which is perfect since we know the general patterns when Stinky goes to eat or snooze. I'm so happy we'll be able to see him and make sure there aren't any glitches with the automatic feeder (which is securely fastened to a post to prevent any tipping).

If you want the link to the site, let me know in an email and I'll pass it on.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Man At Work

We spent the weekend trying not to freak out that we're driving across the country and back again. The Legacy has been detailed inside and out, both professionally and with Austin touching up every blemish or imperfection he could. We'll give her a final wash in MN right before we set her up with her new owners.

I'm also nervous about leaving Stinky alone though my worrying won't come close to the trauma he'd go through if we boarded him. We picked up an automatic feeder that Austin programmed to administer a set amount twice daily at kitty breakfast and dinner times. It's going right now and working great. Austin has also spent a large chunk of today setting up two web cams so we (me!) can get visual confirmation that Stinky is doing fine, not trashing the place or partying too much. Luckily we had three web cams on hand because that's how my man operates :-) Here's a picture of him at work, it was just such a typical Austin moment I couldn't resist taking a photo.

Austin at Work

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Wheeling and Dealing

In a very short amount of time, a big plan has been conjured up. Austin and I had been talking about how much we needed a hatchback or some other type of vehicle better equipped for hauling House Stuff. We test drove a few options and found the ideal vehicle but we weren't ready to commit to the finances when I had a perfectly lovely, workable car. Still, every other week or so, we were cramming things into my car in ways that nearly defied the laws of physics.

We casually mentioned this to my parents who had casually mentioned to us, once upon a time, that they'd love first dibs at my car when it was going back on the market. One thing led to another and, with Cash for Clunkers sweetening the deal, and we worked out a great situation involving them getting our current car and us getting a discounted new car (all legally!). This plan came together during my last days of summer school and with the fall semester rapidly approaching. Austin finagled time off work and we're just barely able to head north, swap vehicles, and head back. Whew. I wish we'd thought of this earlier though there really wouldn't have been much wiggle room given my teaching schedule.

Anyway, we'll be heading north midweek and I'm set to blog from my cell phone. We also had my car detailed today and Austin spent hours tweaking minor paint imperfections and other blemishes. We picked up an automatic cat feeder that drops a measured amount of food on a regular basis. I'm completely, ridiculously terrified to leave Stinky unsupervised for five days (technically three if you don't count departure and arrival days). Austin, ever the provider of technology-based solutions, plans to set up a web cam so I can check on that furry black roommate for peace of mind.

We'll load up the car Tuesday night and head out first thing Wednesday morning. Oh yeah, and here's the sassy-sweet ride we'll be coming home in. The Scion tC has a perfect hatchback that, as Austin puts it, opens up like a big alligator mouth. So in spite of a hellish roadtrip schedule, we get to have a quick visit with the fam and work out a win-win car situation. Not bad at all.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Quinnroy Visit


We had an awesome visit with the Quinnroys (click on the above photo to see more). We spent a lot of time enjoying our house and backyard, just sitting around talking and looking at Hailey's cuteness. We also had some good Tex Mex, BBQ, brunch, and grilling and Arrested Development marathons. It was the kind of fun that goes too fast.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Texas Visitor!

Look who surprised us at the door with her mom and dad. It's going to be a fantastic weekend!

Hailey and me

Sunday, August 2, 2009

One Year Texiversary

Today marks exactly one year that we've lived in TX and, as is often the case, I can't believe how fast it's gone.

We celebrated in style last night with another couple by deep frying dinner Wisconsin-style. I was unable to find cheese curds anywhere so we made cheese cubes from a brick. I asked more than once at the grocery store, only to be met with blank stares and confusion. Our friend M, who is from Missouri, thought we were referring to cottage cheese. Oh no, good sir, we meant the awesome Wisco curds that squeak on your teeth when you eat 'em, the kind that are also fried in a delicious beer batter. Yeah, those. The cheese cubes were a decent approximation and M & K were two more people in this world who now are in the curd club.

We also made fried chicken and onion rings and, for good measure, threw together a green salad topped with pears, walnuts, and some parm. Austin bought a selection of weird beers that he and M enjoyed thoroughly.

We were also presented with a lovely housewarming gift, a big bag of atomic fireball candy and a "Super Hindi Hits" cassette tape circa 1989. Between the gift and the frying, you can imagine how we had too much fun to take any pictures.

Cheers, Texas, it's been a great year and we're going strong!

Saturday, August 1, 2009


We had a beautiful sunset on Thursday night which gave me the opportunity to practice with our new camera. For a few minutes, everything was tinted pink, the stones on our patio, the fence, the curtains inside, it was fantastic.