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My title should actually read “Hold Please, Again, But While You Wait Here Are Some Random Things I Want To Talk About,” but I thought that was a little long.

So yes, it’s been another one of those weeks. Work went all kablooey last week, which continued into this week, and even though I got everything sorted out on Monday, I had a metric ton of crap to get to afterwards. You know, everything that had gone un-done over the last two weeks or so as I dealt with the kablooey. Plus, the whole gestating business I’ve got as a side-gig over here has really slowed me down this week. However, it’s not fair of me to just leave y’all hanging on updates to my supremely interesting life, so without further ado I present: Things We Did This Weekend. Enjoy.

I believe I mentioned that we had a friend’s birthday party to attend in Austin this past weekend. We had a great time. In a departure from our normal Austin trip routine (where we crash at a friend’s house), we decided to get a hotel this time. We did this mostly because I am very pregnant and don’t necessarily need to be spending the night on the floor or the couch or kicking our friends out of their beds so I can noisily roll around. However, in a brilliant stroke of forethought, I relished our arrangement as our friends’ houses became overrun with party-goers. You see, what started out as a birthday party for Luffy’s friend, we’ll call him Max, quickly morphed into a sort of ultimate birthday party for everyone in our extended friend group who has an August birthday. Instead of celebrating one person, all of a sudden we were celebrating five people. And, of course, their friends were invited too. Instead of just a couple of people coming down from Dallas, suddenly there were dozens of people coming down from Dallas. Everyone needed a place to stay and most of them wanted to do it cheaply or for free. And with that, our friend’s three bedroom (but two bed) house hosted eight people. Max’s single bedroom apartment hosted five. Max’s girlfriend’s apartment hosted four (not including her roommates). There were numerous others spread out around Austin. So basically, our desire for a modicum of privacy and comfort for my pregnant self spared us from being heaped onto the pile of bodies that was our friends’ houses. Yay!

Having a hotel room also allowed us a little more freedom from the group when it came to food. Luffy loves finding delicious places to eat and our food desires often diverge from the groups’. So that’s how we found ourselves racing into a Chinese bakery literally one minute before their posted closing time to find the hidden banh mi shop that had such high ratings. (That sandwich was glorious, by the way.) It’s also how we were able to eat breakfast at a reasonable hour instead of waiting for the entire group to rise and get ready (they’re notorious for planning a breakfast, which turns into a brunch, which actually occurs at 1pm).

Speaking of breakfast, I have to admit that we had breakfast at the hotel both mornings. I got a waffle the first morning and it was such a delicious waffle that I got a second. And then I had another one the next morning. And just this morning, Luffy was looking for the same hotel in our area so he could take me to get another waffle – probably so I would shut up about the waffle already. The waffle is done Belle – it’s gone, you ate it – IT’S NOT COMING BACK. STOP TALKING ABOUT IT.

Ahem. Back to the party. While we did hang out at restaurants and bars (which is always a fun experience while pregnant), the main event of the weekend was a barge cruise on Lake Travis. We had a bit of bad weather Saturday afternoon which had us all concerned, but it cleared out in time and we took off on schedule. We had a lot of fun once they tied us off to a rock island and we got to get in the water. Someone had brought along a kid’s float – one of those tiny little rings with the animal heads. It was a turtle. People joked when Luffy tossed it to me, but that little turtle held me up admirably! It was just big enough to go around me – under the boobs, above the belly – and just small enough to make sure I wasn’t stretched too far. Great fun! So we swam and others drank and everyone danced to our party planner’s custom mix. Then we reached the shore again and the other 46* party-goers loaded up on a bus for the forty-five minute drive back to party central while Luffy and I (in another great move of foresight) got into our own car to drive the twenty minutes back to our hotel.

Anyway, we had a great time down in Austin and I would highly recommend the waffles at Hilton Garden Inn.

* Yes, you read that correctly. Including Luffy and I and the party planners, there were 50 people at this party! AND I ALMOST FORGOT TO TELL YOU THE BEST PART!!! Towards the end of the night, I got cornered by a … how shall I put this delicately … exceedingly inebriated guest. I’d met her a couple of times before, but wasn’t super friendly with her or anything. Anyway, she cornered me and for a good ten minutes went on and on about how excited she was for Luffy and I. Except that, through her thick haze of alcohol, she kept losing her train of thought, so it went something like this: OMG I’m so happy for you guys – I literally started crying when I found out – your baby is going to change the world – Luffy is just such an amazing person – he shut down an internet troll for me once – …. – OMG I’m so happy for you guys – I literally started crying when I found out – your baby is going to change the world – Luffy is just such an amazing person – he shut down an internet troll for me once – …. and repeat. For ten minutes. At top volume because we were standing by a speaker. I was so relieved when she got distracted.

Ode to Champagne

Napa was wonderful, thanks for asking.

We had a few false starts on the trip that threatened to overshadow the whole thing (miscommunications abound and a lesson on why you should never leave men to plan things, or at least, these particular men), but it turned around in the end. The first night, we passed the time playing Cards Against Humanity and drinking wine and/or bourbon. I had never played the game before  and I have to say that I did quite well, although Luffy and I might now be known for some very questionable things (our choices might have provided a little too much insight).

Saturday morning we congratulated ourselves on being capable adults as we managed to both pull together a breakfast feast of eggs, pancakes, bacon, and fruit AND have all eleven of us dressed/showered/ready-to-go by the time our limo bus got there. We then cracked open two bottles of champagne for the bus and headed to our first stop: Domaine Chandon.

Now, if you know much about me at all, you’ve probably been able to pick up on the fact that I love champagne. I adore champagne. I will never, ever turn down champagne unless you offer me some $2 crap that is disgusting. (Also, because this is the internet and it helps to be clear, when I say champagne I mean sparkling wine, not the actual French champagne. I do not discriminate against sparkling wine or prosecco or cava or champagne. Does it have bubbles? Check. Pour me some.) Anyway, out of all the champagne that I’ve had over the years, I have a few favorites and one of them happens to be Chandon. I love almost every variety of theirs that I try and give mad props to them for being a great value (so good! so well-priced!). So I was super excited that of all the wineries in Napa, the birthday boy decided Chandon would be a great place to visit AND tour. Woo!!

It was fantastic. The tour was great (and enlightening! I had no idea how they made champagne) and our guide was fantastic. We did a private tasting and our group (which, to be fair, did have 10 drinking people) polished off five bottles of champagne and a bottle of wine. Glorious. And it wasn’t just me. It was unanimous that Chandon was our favorite stop of the day. We went to two wineries afterwards, but one was nothing special and the other was ridiculously expensive and pretentious ($30 for a tasting (which is basically one glass of wine), or a free tasting if you bought a bottle (of which the cheapest was $86)). Chandon was definitely the best! After our wine tour, we stopped off at a grocery store for snacks, liquor, and girl scout cookies (great combination, no?) and then headed back to our little abode for an evening of board games.

We had an AirBNB house that was really great – set up high on a mountain and far away from the town (seriously, it took half an hour just to drive up the mountain road). The sleeping arrangements were a little iffy because we had 11 adults and the house promised it could sleep 10. They brought an air mattress for the single guy and called the problem solved. Then we showed up and realized that, yes it could sleep 10, but one couple would be on a pull out couch and another couple would be on a twin trundle bed. Since we arrived the latest of everyone, Luffy and I got the pull out couch (we were saved from the trundle only because Luffy is 6’5″ tall and you try fitting all of that on a twin bed). Other than that hiccup, the house was great. The view, from the back porch, was gorgeous.

Luffy and I left early Sunday morning to head to San Francisco to meet  up with a friend for brunch and then head to the airport. We got back late last night, which means I’m dragging a bit today. But! The trip was short and fun and, most importantly, included really excellent champagne! Smashing success!


We’re back!

Luffy and I, along with some friends, headed down to Cancun for a few days over the Labor Day weekend. We stayed at a wonderful all-inclusive resort down there and had a blast hanging out in the pool, sipping frozen drinks, and trying to fit as many dining options as we could into our limited time (second breakfast anyone?! How about a pre-lunch snack?).

We were only there for two full days, so we literally did not do anything. No excursions. No shopping trips. No planned activities. Just hours of pool and ocean time. Naps for Luffy. Reading for me. We went out to a local club Friday night and danced until our feet hurt. We played in the ocean until everyone’s eyes stung with salt. It was glorious.

The only hiccups in our trip were transportation related (we missed our connecting flight to Cancun in Mexico City because we stood in the Immigration line for over an hour and a half!), but were minor overall. The resort was all-inclusive, as promised, and we enjoyed the fact that they actually meant it. (I hate it when they promise all-inclusive, but then they want to charge you extra for something like water in your room.) Everybody got adventurous with their drink orders because of the FREEDOM of just ordering a different one if you didn’t like it.

We got back Sunday evening and then had the day off yesterday to catch up on errands and get ready for the week. I’m back at work now, of course, with a full day’s work ahead of me but I’ll leave you with some pics from our balcony.


Back in town!

Whew! Hello peeps, it’s been a while. Work has been ridiculously busy and then Luffy and I went out of town. So yeah, life’s been a bit hectic.

But last week Luffy and I took off to visit friends in California. We flew to Los Angeles first and stayed with friends, spending a few days exploring the area. And eating. And drinking. Lots of sushi and even more mimosas. It was fabulous. We visited Malibu beach in the rain (we apparently brought it with us from Texas). We visited the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens and saw some beautiful flowers (click links for my pics!). We ate at Din Tai Fung – a restaurant famous for their Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings). A cool side story is that we actually ate at their Shanghai restaurant when we were in China last year.

Luffy and I then rented a car and drove up the Pacific Coast Highway for a few breathtaking views. We were a tad bit bummed because the morning was overcast, but we still ended up with some great shots. Plus, it was pretty neat to drive up the mountain, break through the clouds, and then look out to a sea of clouds.

Pacific Coast Highway

Our overnight stop was in Cambria. We visited the Hearst Castle and did a wine tasting at a local winery. Luffy spoiled me rotten by buying me a bottle of good champagne (which, coincidentally, we had just seen a 75 year old bottle of the same champagne stored in the wine cellar at the Hearst Castle!). Then he ensured I’d have puffy eyes and sore sinuses the next day by renting Marley & Me.

We then continued on to Napa for possibly my favorite part of the trip – champagne tasting at Domaine Carneros! I’m not afraid to say I had a lot of champagne that afternoon. I might not have been the funnest person to be around later that evening (I get sort of cranky when coming down off of a champagne high). But the champagne was so good, it was worth it.

Champagne Flight - Domaine Carneros

We then stayed with a different friend in San Francisco (technically, he lives in Oakland). We brushed up on our public transit skills (another side note, I always love taking public transit whenever we’re in a city that has a good system – it just always feels so efficient!) and explored Golden Gate Park and Pier 39. Plus more excellent sushi and Chinese food.

We had a fantastic time, but now it’s back to life as usual.