Wedding Registry: DOs & DON'Ts

Congratulations, you're engaged! It's such a fun and exciting time, but it can also be a bit overwhelming with so much to do in so little time.

Indulge in all of the cake tastings, have the caterer create mini samples for selection, and don't forget to register for your favorite things. After all, it only happens once in a lifetime. So when registering...

DO - Have plenty of options

Some people like to buy that one original gift "so they always think of me when they use it" whereas others want to buy whats practical, like your everyday glassware. Different items and different price ranges will be pleasers.

DON'T - Be too practical

Quit saying to yourself, "Oh, I don't want someone to have to buy that for me." It's their decision to buy it for you, so have fun! Now's the time. It's a rare occasion that you get to shop with other people's money.

DO - Keep it in the family

I'm a big fan of passing things from generation to generation, whether it be traditions, everyday practices, or material things. So if grandma has a set of China, or Aunt Judy has a set of silver, and long lost 2nd cousin half removed so-and-so has a set of crystal to pass along to you, take it! And then build off of it.

DON'T - Over register

Granted, all of this being said, don't have so many outrageous options that you end up receiving impractical items that you will never even take out of the box (our juicer falls into this category).

DO - Copy cat

It's totally acceptable to look at registries of other friends and family and take note of their ideas. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery.

DON'T - Forget your own style

Hot Drink Season

Cold comes quickly in my beloved Washington, and just shy of a month ago Martin's came out with their Fall Cocktail menu, featuring the Autumn Delight. According to the menu, it's a warming blend of apple cider, galliano, and cinnamon vodka. Sounds delicious, Washingtonians rejoice.

Well, my new hometown of Austin is just now catching up to the 30/40 degree temperatures of the season and I am reaching for anything in arm's way to keep warm, inside and out. And what's better than warming up with a hot cup of tea? Well, if it's after 4 o'clock...

Hot Buttered Rum. Hot Cider and Rum. Hot Water, spices, and Rum. They're all a win, win. Serve it right up in a lovely latte mug. Now how's that for Grandma's cough medicine?



Lunch at Walton's

Walton's Fancy and Staple, the sister restaurant to Bess, serves up breakfast, lunch, and a plethora of sweet treats. Today we stopped in for lunch.


Salads and sandwiches are always freshly made to order.


Some of my favorites being the Pastrami with whole grain mustard on rye...


... the roast Beef Bleu with just the right amount of complimentary ingredients finished with a perfect horseradish aioli...


.. and of course, the Reuben, served here as a healthier version than most.


Last but not least, my favorite of them all, where breakfast meets lunch, the Ham and Egg Sandwich, served open faced with that perfectly cooked fried egg.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Halloween.

It's a time for ghosts and goblins, costumes and candy, pumpkins and... pumpkin seeds!


Cut off the top of a pumpkin.

Scoop out the seeds.

Rinse with water and discard all of the orange gunk.

Place on a baking tray with Parchment Paper and plenty of salt.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Bake until slightly browned.

  

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

After my husband and I were engaged, my future in-laws suggested that we take a trip down to the small village of San Miguel, Mexico, a vacation retreat for his family for many years.

Nestled in the middle of the country, San Miguel is not one of the typical beach destinations that draws many tourists, but rather a truly Spanish looking pueblo.  We rented an adorable Hacienda located on the hillside with a magnificent view of the city.  There are wonderful local women for hire that will pick your meals, do your grocery shopping, and boy oh boy can these ladies cook!  Yummy.  Plus, their Margaritas are the true Mexican recipe.  They go down easy as pie.

The ciudad itself has much to take in and enjoy.  There is an old-school architecture to be found throughout the city and many of the buildings are highlighted with magnificent colors.  The center of town is in el jardin, or the garden.  Here local merchants set up shop selling paintings, jewelry, clothing, antiques, and flowers. 
And of course, there is the joy of the real Mexican cuisine.  Thanks to my future father-in-law, I learned what a Chile Relleno was, and begged to go back for another one the following night.  To this day, I still drool at the mouth thinking about the food I was able to savour down there.  From Carne Asada to Huevos Rancheros and a true Cesar Salad, which recipe was handed down to me by my mother-in-law at a wedding shower.  I keep it locked up safely.

Hot off the press this morning - San Miguel has been ranked 5th in Conde Nast Traveler's Top 25 Cities in the World for the 2014 Readers Choice Awards. Obviously, I couldn't agree more.

And American visitors, not to worry, thanks to the many Texans that have decided to retire to this retreat, you can still find your Starbucks.

Pedernales Winery

The Pedernales Winery (pronounced Perd-a-nales) is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Rose Hill in the beautiful Texas hill country. Literally, they are less than 500 feet apart with a boardwalk connecting to two sites. So, the wine tasting makes for a perfect B&B detour, no DD required.


Whether it be morning (no judgement), noon, or night, great views are promised to be had, and a few extra sips (or bottles) will make it all the merrier.


Pumpkin Soda

I'm not sure whether it is the enticing labels or the flavors that float my boat (it's both!), but Maine Root sodas get me every time. And with it being October, the first full month of Fall with Halloween just around the corner, I'm a sucker for their Pumpkin Pie.

The soda has a warming sensation with a finishing zing to its flavor. Definitely gets you in the mood...

But better yet, you can try making your own Pumpkin Soda! If you're into that kind of thing, which I am... The easy way? Buy some pumpkin syrup and club soda. Add 3-5 pumps of syrup to the soda, and taste to your liking. Voila!

Alternatively, you can go really homemade with it. If you take a little extra time and put in a little extra effort, you'll have more control over the flavor and contents. Remember, as warm and inviting as pumpkin sounds, the squash itself is actually quite bland, so you'll need a spice or two, but then it's just three simple steps.

Ingredients:
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon all-spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Pumpkin Puree (homemade or canned)

Directions:
1) In a small pot, combine the water, spice, and sugar.
2) Bring it to a simmer on top of the stove until the sugar is dissolved into a simple syrup consistency.
3) Remove the pot from the heat and add the pumpkin puree.

After the mixture cools, add as much, or as little as you'd like to a cup of club soda for a homemade Halloween treat! The mixture will hold best when refrigerated. Or better yet, freeze some cubes of the mixture and add to soda for that extra flare.

Cheers!

Lockhart, TX

All you need to do is look around to see that Lockhart is your quintessential Texas town.

The city is old, but many of the original buildings still remain, like the Courthouse in the middle of town square. Some of the shops have transitioned into different stores, but that classic western style, and even some of the old signage, still remains the same.
Lockhart, Texas Courthouse

When it comes to eatin' in Lockhart, you best be bringin' your appetite.

Known by some as the best BBQ in Texas, and actually entitled such by the Texas legislature, there are three main stomping grounds: Black's, Smitty's, and Kreuz's.

Black's is a classic BBQ joint with a line out the door and a sign that says they are open 8 days a week. Again, Texans take their BBQ very seriously.

Smitty's is housed in the spot previously occupied by Kreuz's. They have kept the original set-up for display, and have plenty of mesquite lined up to fill their wood-burning BBQ pits.

In Lockhart if you go by the Texas theme that bigger is better, then Kreuz is King of BBQ. It's new location may be outside of the town square, but the building itself is hard to miss.

In Lockhart it's a no frills mentality. This kind of BBQ is No Sauce, so don't even ask. But don't worry, the meat itself shines on its own, and before you know it you will be asking for more. They always do...



Y'all come back now, ya hear.