Happy Birthday Dearest

20140912_161010I wrote this out much earlier but forgot to add the photos and post it.  So last weekend two weekends ago was Richard’s 26th birthday. We’ve decided that perhaps we’re too old busy for an entire birthday week but a whole birthday weekend is just right. I always feel like I drop the ball on birthday celebrations. I didn’t grow up celebrating birthdays so I’m not very good at planning out big to-dos; which is perfect because Richard doesn’t like big to-dos. This year we had what felt like a 3 day weekend together. I don’t have class on Friday and Richard only had one class early in the morning. It was a cold rainy weekend so we couldn’t do much outside so instead we decided to stay in almost all weekend, except to go get food. We had lunch at one of our favorite places, Queenie’s in Utica Square. Queenie’s food menu is pretty simple, think sandwiches, salads and a burger. We always split a delicious grilled cheese and anything else. But really we go there for the desserts. We split a little chocolate cake and a lemon bar. Our waitress went above and beyond making them both very pretty and extra tasty.

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Because of some other issues earlier in the day, we weren’t able to make it to the museum like we wanted so instead we built a fort. We made it super cozy with extra pillows and blankets. We ran to target and I bought Richard a few gifts. I’m not sure if I should call them presents since Richard picked them out and most didn’t get wrapped. I bought a battery pack for our dead X-Box remote and bought Plants v Zombies. I’m not a gamer at all. I only like silly and simple games that usually include repetitive tasks and beating a timer. Richard LOVES video games. The kind that involve shooting and memorizing some sort of map. Those give me motion sickness. After buying our supplies we returned to our cozy fort and played video games for the rest of the day.  We only stopped to go get soup from the Whole Foods up the street.

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The rest of the weekend was a perfectly lazy event filled with more yummy food (steak from Texas Roadhouse… yum!)and plenty of time in our fort.  We watched the OU football game from our fort on Saturday night.  Sunday Richard’s mom came over late that evening and brought a yummy chocolate cake.  I busted out the multiple boxes of Oreo’s I bought just for him.

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I’m thinking this fort building may be a new tradition in the making because Richard LOVED it. He got so excited when I pulled out sheets and he realized I was being serious about crafting our fortress.

p.s. Sorry, the pictures are so grainy… I really need to bust out our real camera more often just around the house.

Canoe Trip

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When I envision natural beauty I envision mountains and slow lazy rivers perfect for canoeing and kayaking. Usually I envision those places reside in other states that aren’t Oklahoma or Texas… the only two states I’ve ever lived in. This summer I discovered that lazy river canoe trips can be had and enjoyed in Oklahoma. I’ve lived in the Sooner state for going on 7-years now and I’m still discovering new things.

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We drove up to the Diamond Head Resort in Tahlequah to rent a canoe for the day. We took a slow 6-mile ride down the Illinois River. Apparently, Richard and his family would do this annually when he was a kid but he hadn’t been in ages.

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I was blown away by the cool but not cold river and all the green trees and grass. Usually, Oklahoma drought makes everything yellow and dry but this summer was a little wetter than usual.

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We also decided to take our doggy because we’d been wondering if he knew how to swim. He does. And he loved it!

We went on a week-day so there weren’t many people around. It felt like our little family was the only group on the river. We packed a picnic lunch and found a nice area along the river to stop and eat.  Since our 6-mile canoe trip was rather short we spent lots of time “swimming.”  I say swimming but I really mean lounging in the river.  Not many spots were deep enough to swim.  But it was still a nice way to cool off once we got too hot.

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We went again later in the summer on a Saturday with Richard’s mom. There were so many people! I would definitely recommend a week-day if you can manage it. I am the kind of person who just likes to enjoy nature in its entirety, meaning sights, sounds and smells. The large groups of people came along with radios and lots of floating beer cans. It was definitely a fun little adventure that I would love to go on again next summer.

Also, for your enjoyment I’ve linked to (above) a quick 30-second video I made showing the beautiful river and our sweet puppy showing off his skills!  Baxter would get so anxious for his humans when they were too far away from him in the water. For any of my Okie readers what adventures would you suggest we go on this fall?

On the Road Again

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I’m hitting the road again this weekend, this time heading to the Dallas area.  This trip is much shorter than the trip to Sweetwater, thankfully.  I love spending time with my family and I’m so excited that it’s a long weekend!  Plus it seems like a while since I’ve seen my adorable baby cousins and that means they’ve probably both stretched out a bit more.  A trip home also means lots of yummy food!  And maybe a little shopping too… IKEA here I come!  Hope you all have a great weekend!

Road Trip Home

Shrimp Salad

I arrived in Sweetwater around 6:20, just in time to unpack my Carlita and make it to my hair salon appointment on time.  Later, I was able to scratch off one item from my food wish list, shrimp salad (and less healthy in the background, fried pickles).  It was so delicious!   My mom and I rented a movie that evening but didn’t end up watching it.  We just waited until my daddy got home from work and chatted into the wee hours of the night.

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The next morning, instead of waking up early for a round of golf as planned, my parents slept in and I went for a run.  I forgot how extremely dry and hot west Texas is!  My run was miserable.  Later that morning I undid my run by eating a stack of pancakes and marked off yet another food item from the wish list.  To be fair I only ate about 1/3 of that ginormous stack but I also had 1/3 of a hamburger.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted breakfast or lunch and my wonderful parents decided to indulge my inability to make decisions and split the burger with me.

Golf MommyThe heat was bearable out on the golf course due to the cool breeze wafting about the open lawns.  I’ve never golfed and I didn’t this time either, I just watched my dad play.  The first and last time he invited me to go with him I asked if I could bring a book.  After he said no, I decided to stay home instead.  It wasn’t boring like I thought it would be but you won’t catch me watching a golf tournament on television any time soon.

Texas Theater

Nice picture mom!

Immediately after golf we rushed over to the Texas Theater, the only local movie theater.  It has been in a constant state of renovation for as long as I can remember.  Let me just say this place brings back so many memories!  The theater definitely needs some love but we enjoyed watching Despicable Me 2 together despite the peeling paint, sunk in chairs and sticky floors.

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On Sunday, my mother and I headed to the big city of Abilene for some shopping.  I needed a new pair of sneakers and we found these bright pair at Academy.  Can you be in love with a pair of running shoes?  They are soooo lightweight and pretty.  Thanks Mom and Dad!  While in Abilene that day we also marked another item off the food wish list, paletas!  YUMMY!  I have yet to find a place here in Tulsa with Mexican style paletas that are this good.  I love the ones at Mary’s in Abilene because they have a large flavor selection, most include with or without chile options and most paletas are the frozen juice kind not the creamy kind.  If you’ve never had paletas that last part may not make sense.  Some paletas are more like frozen juice with a healthy amount of pulp included while others are more like fruit flavored ice cream.  I prefer the juice kind because they taste more natural and have fewer calories, I think.

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Kittens

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A few other moments to remember.  My parents have a small herd of cats that have taken up residence outside their house.  There are four teeny kittens and it took all my strength not to capture them and bring them all home.  Too Cute!  There was also a trip to Dairy Queen, yummy in my tummy!  And check out that glorious sky I saw on the way back to Tulsa.  Now after that fun and relaxing trip home, I’m ready (kinda) to start the new school year.  Today is my first day back.  Wish me luck!

There’s No Place Like Home

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Leaving home to head home.

I’m headed home today!  I’ve downloaded some new music to sing along to on the fabulously exciting 7 hour drive!  Not actually looking forward to that part of this trip but I am pumped to visit my hometown one last time before the school year starts.  There’s not much to do in Sweetwater and that’s fine because all my time will be dedicated to my parents and occasionally, when they’re busy, a few arts and crafts projects I’m bringing along.  My precious Mom and Dad have started to fill my schedule for the few days I will be there, haircut as soon as I arrive, golfing with my Dad Saturday morning, Carlita will get her first oil change and tire rotation Monday.  Like I said there’s not much to do when I visit home but there is PLENTY to eat!  One of the toughest parts about going home is choosing where and what to eat.  My mother’s home cooking is fabulous but there are also SOOO many good local restaurants that I crave.  Really the best thing Sweetwater has to offer year round are their restaurants… Big Boys messy barbecue sandwiches, Mrs. Allen’s family style meals, huge shrimp salads at Skeet’s Restaurant, hearty breakfast burritos from Lisa’s Cocina and melt in your mouth pancakes from Oak Street Cafe.  Oh goodness!  Maybe I should try and fit in an extra day of running this week because 3 just ain’t gonna cut it.

If you see a crazy person singing on the road in West Texas wave because it’s me!  I’m taking an extended weekend trip so I’ll post a weekend wrap up on Wednesday!  Oh and don’t forget to check in next week, I have an AWESOME band to feature on Monday and a tasty recipe to share on Friday and some other fun stuff in between!

Farewell Sweet Summer

I have one more week before school starts and Richard’s big day is tomorrow.  (Sad Face)  This weekend was our final farewell to summer time.  We had so many big plans for the weekend but we actually ended up doing nothing on the to-do list.  We went to a couple’s gathering and to meet Richard’s peer mentor ( a student who is just a year ahead of him) Friday evening.  She was very nice and so were the rest of the people we met.  We slept in on Saturday so instead of going on a last Wichita adventure we kept it local.  We went to the flea market Saturday morning as a little family.  I love when we all go together because one of us (usually Richard) can keep a hold of Baxter while the other (usually me) dives head first into the nearest pile of interesting looking antiques.  Baxter LOVES the flea market!  He made some new friends both two and four-legged.  He showed off his sweet skills, his high-five and dance tricks, and earned some free puppy treats.  He also got some more fancy home-made doggy treats because he helped his mommy score some free goodies and she was so grateful.  Then we took Baxy back home and went to eat lunch in the Brady District at a restaurant called The Rusty Crane.  I’ve heard lots of great things about this place and it lived up to all of them.  Let me just say a place that serves you drinks out of a mason jar and has spicy seasoned fries is my kind of place!  At this point I realized I hadn’t been taking any photos of our farewell to summer tour so I started photographing the rest of the day.

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We decided to walk around downtown for a bit after lunch.  We visited the Guthrie Green for the first time.  Then headed to Mod’s for gelato! Yum!  Richard tried something berry flavored and, though I tried the birthday cake and it was delicious, I selected pistachio.  I am obsessed with pistachio anything these days.  We also wandered around some pop up shops that are down town next door to Mod’s.  They were really cool but I left empty-handed mostly because Richard wouldn’t let me buy everything… party pooper!

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I also finished up a big project this weekend with some help from Richard.  He’s just better than me at everything so he usually ends up “showing me” how to do it which actually means he just does it.  I’ll be posting more about it tomorrow including step by step photos.

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Baxter now has snuggle privileges and he loves it!  I’m not sure why but this weekend for some reason we considered how long a dog’s lifespan is.  I’m not sure how the subject came up but we both got really choked up thinking about life without our four-legged child.  We decided that, though it may be considered a bad behavior, bed time snuggles should be allowed.  We just love him so and he’s so warm and snuggly.  And since he’s so small what does it hurt really?  He only gets up there when invited.  And he’s most happy when he’s near us.  He was so happy to snuggle that he made a sound that I’ve only heard from cats… Do dogs purr?  Hope your weekend was just as relaxing and filled with happy moments!

Last Weekend of Freedom

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Photo by Jim Sisko. Click the image to view his Flickr photo stream.

This week Richard began orientation and started his new schedule, switching from vampire hours to normal human hours.  I love having him home at night! I am the worlds biggest chicken and often booby trap all the doors before I go to bed, so now I sleep a little lot easier.  Next week he starts for real and so does the stress.  He will be taking 26 credit hours and will be switching class schedules every two weeks.  This last weekend is likely the last time we’ll be stress free for the next 4 years.

Image from Atlas Obscura.  Click the image to visit the article about the Wichita Mountains.

Image from Atlas Obscura. Click the image to visit the article about the Wichita Mountains.

I’m starting to feel a little nervous, scared and a little sad about the unknown journey we’re about to embark on so this weekend needs to be full of all the fun adventures we used to have.  We’re thinking about heading down to the Wichita’s for a hike up Mt. Scott and some bison spotting.  Then we’ll grab a bite to eat at Meer’s Burgers… MMMM long horn burgers and peach cobbler!  I can’t wait!!!  Hopefully we can also sneak in a couple of movies at the dollar theater, we’ve gotten so behind on movies this summer.

Photo by Expedition Oklahoma.  Click the image to visit her blog.

Photo by Expedition Oklahoma. Click the image to visit her blog.

Weekend Low Down

Starting since Thursday we have been so rushed.  Every moment filled with a task needing to be accomplished and too many others awaiting their turn.

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Richard has been working hard since Thursday night to complete a major DIY project he undertook, finishing our desk.  He is so pleased with the way it turned out and I am so proud of my handy-man!  I’ll probably do a separate blog focusing on that project later.

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We also had lots of errands to run and crafts to complete before this weekends big event, our engagement party.  I’ll post more on that later as well.  This was the first time both of our families had come together.  I think it went really well!  I am never happier than when I’m surrounded by my family and Richard and I know Richard feels the same… except with his family and me.  The flowers and cake and all the little projects for the day turned out better than I had imagined!

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Also Richard’s white coat ceremony was this weekend.  My parents stayed in town the day after the engagement party to watch him be cloaked… yes that’s what it called when they put your white coat on you.  I am so absolutely proud and in aww of my intelligent and ambitious fiancé.  Though, I must admit, I am anxious about the stress and workload that awaits him and our relationship these next four years.

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I made beef enchiladas for the first time using a recipe my mom recited to me over the phone.  I was a bit disappointed with them at first but, after my mom and dad tried them and gave them a thumbs up, I feel better about how they turned out.  (I’m glad you liked them, Richard, but I don’t trust your opinion of Tex-Mex food quite yet.)

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We took our inaugural Sunday evening stroll.  I’m trying to initiate a few new traditions that will hopefully help us maintain and strengthen our relationship particularly through these next four years, this is one of them.  I think a Sunday evening walk will help Richard get some much need moments away from his books and will give us a chance to talk, spend time with our four-legged son, fit in some light cardio and allow us to soak in some tranquility and nature.  But I’ll probably need to find some time to get new sneakers in between now and next week’s Sunday stroll.  These have seen better days!

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Also Carlita is really growing up!  She hit the 6,000 mile mark on Sunday.  I remember when she barely had any miles on her!!

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And Richard’s mommy made us bitty curtains for the small four pain window on our front door.  Richard dreamed up what he wanted them to look like and they turned out exactly as he imaged them.  Perfect!

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve likely seen many of these photos already.  If you don’t follow me already, search for me under WhitneyOrtega!