Top 5 Fabulous Things of the Month: The Wedding Edition

1. Barry Griffith asked me to marry him at dinner for our third anniversary, and I said yes! Well, after about 10 seconds of silent shock on my part, he finally said, “This is the part where you say yes,” and THEN I said yes.

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2. My engagement ring is a beautiful setting containing a diamond that’s been in my family for about 150 years. My German great-grandfather wore the rock in a tie pin, and then my grandfather inherited it and had it set in a big, chunky, gold man ring. When he died, my grandmother, who had never been given a diamond (such a cad, Jim Schmoeller), had the stone reset in a yellow gold “adjust-o-shank” to fit over her swollen knuckles. When she died, through the kindness of my mother and aunts, I inherited the ring. My wonderful boyfriend had the diamond re-set into my white gold engagement ring, and he added a few small accent diamonds down the sides. It’s perfect, and I love it. It’s the visual representation of our individual history and lives melding into something new and unique.

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3. To properly show off my new ring, I got a manicure, and Barry got his first pedicure. The faces he made were priceless. This one was when she slathered his legs with chocolate syrup (he got the chocolate pedicure) and wrapped them in plastic wrap.

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4. Just before Christmas, his company flew us up to Chicago for their Christmas party. I had never been there, and I decided to play tourist on the day he had to work. One of my destinations was the 1893 church where my great-grandparents, August (also German but not the ring guy) and Mary, were married 100 years ago this past October. I never met either of them, so my only physical experience of them was standing on their graves at the family cemetery in the Rio Grande Valley while we buried my grandmother. To stand where they started their lives together, not just where they ended, was a surprisingly emotional experience. And now that I’m beginning the wedding planning process, I want to make sure that in 100 years, my great-grandchildren can find the place we began our lives together. It knocks out the generic event centers that likely won’t be around for generations and gives me a bigger-picture vision with which to view this process.

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5. This man is maddening, annoying, messy, and doesn’t eat NEARLY enough vegetables. But he’s also kind to strangers in need, loving toward me when I am not, and accepting and amazingly understanding of people’s flaws, especially my own. I’m sure planning a wedding will start to be fun, but for now, I’m looking past it and can’t wait to start our new lives together.

 

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So Close!

Since I found out I could participate in working on TV shows while working in Dallas, not in LA or New York, Food Network has been my endgame. Recently, I got one step closer to that goal. I’ve been editing a new show for Cooking Channel, which is owned by Food Network. The star, Chuck Hughes, has been on Food Network many times – he beat Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America, and he was on Iron Chef All Stars last year. He also has another show on Cooking Channel besides ours.

So far, it’s only 6 episodes, and I was only brought in for the last two, but I had a blast and learned a lot. Last week, Chuck came to Dallas for a screening of episode 3. I got to go to lunch with him and the rest of the team, and I edited a blooper reel for the screening event. Getting to meet a Food Network star was awesome enough – he’s a really nice guy – but the fact that a Food Network star has seen my work (and complimented it! in person!) is just incredible. I feel very lucky to have taken part in this show, which is my sixth series on my third major cable network. I’ve actually just become the lead editor for another show on HGTV, so more news to come soon, but for now, here’s a photo of me and Chuck. Next stop, Food Network!

Hiking in Utah: Part 2

The other half of our most recent hiking adventure was Canyonlands National Park. It’s one of the most stark, shockingly-untouched places I’ve ever seen. It struck the kind of primal fear in me I don’t feel very often as an urbanite – that realization that in places like this, nature WILL win if you’re not very, very careful. Parts of Canyonlands take hours and hours and hours to get to, and you have to have everything you’ll need for multiple days just to DRIVE there, not to mention the hiking part. This is the place that the guy in 127 Hours got pinned in a slot canyon by a boulder and had to cut his arm off to escape after several days of, well, dying. We spent our time in the closer-to-Moab parts of the park.

On our way to the remote visitor center and trail heads, we passed “Newspaper Rock,” a rock face on which Native Americans told their stories. I learned that a lot of times these rock art panels are found near water – they were placed there to signal the presence of water to others, as well as tell stories and remember.

One of the big attractions in Canyonlands is the Needles, a network of giant sandstone spires. They look tiny in these photos, but they’re gigantic.

A nearby hiker said these rock formations looked like pudding.

We started with a 4.3-mile hike, which was probably one of my favorites on the whole trip. Chesler Park Trail is much longer, but we did what we could in order to see a lot in one day. I loved this trail because it felt like the Land Before Time, and the elevation kept changing in bits, not just up or down. We went from up on the tops of these spires down into the valleys, twisting and turning, squeezing through narrow slots between rocks, through tiny passages, across flats and dry creekbeds, and up and down steps carved into the stone. I know hikers pass through this place all the time, but it felt totally untouched, and it was amazing.

This one looked like a chicken pot pie to me!

This last one might look all warm and fuzzy with Dad’s arm around me, but he’s really just trying to keep me from falling off the edge behind us. He won’t let either of us get within 10 feet of a big cliff. It’s pretty funny!

The rest of our time in Canyonlands was spent hiking lots of shorter trails. On Roadside Ruin Trail, we saw a granary – a food storage bin – built hundreds of years ago by Native Americans. Kept animals out of the corn and grain stores.

We saw a natural spring on Cave Spring Trail. It was cool and damp under there, and moss was growing where water seeps out of the rock face. This area had ruins of a cowboy cattle camp – pens, camp furniture, iron stuff. They settled here because of the reliable water source.

Apparently they weren’t the first ones – we saw some cave paintings and hand prints on the overhangs.

We climbed up a couple of ladders to hike around on the tops of these mushroom-type formations. The spring and cattle camp are underneath. From above, we could see so far!

One of the trails with the most grand vistas was the aptly-named Grand View Trail, which basically takes you 2 miles down and around the top ridge of a big peninsula-type island. It took a long time to drive to because you were driving to the edge of the “Island in the Sky” plateau, of which this trail is at the tip. The cement we parked and walked on in the parking area there was all orange, the color of the earth there, because it was so much easier to use what was there than to haul it so far into the wild. From here, you could see everything we had been to, all the landmarks.

The last couple of trails were tied together, Upheaval Dome and Whale Rock. Some sort of phenomena, either a meteor or salt dome, created this giant hole in the earth, and the force pushed back several ringed ridges of rock and earth around it. The first trail took us over a couple of the ridges so we could see the hole up close, and the second took us along the crest of the outer ring.

Whale Rock was actually a little scary, although nothing compared to the rock fins in Arches. We walked along the top, and the sides sloped off on either side. It made Dad nervous, of course, so when I asked him to pose for a picture, he went and stood in this tiny little 3-inch-deep crater in the middle of the ridge. Because those 3 inches would keep him safe. Too funny.

In all, we walked 25.6 miles in 3 days. We saw some amazing places, and there is so much more there that we just couldn’t get to. I hope to go back someday!

Hiking in Utah: Part 1

I met Dad at the airport, and he greeted me: “Welcome to the next adventure!”

We arrived in Grand Junction, Colorado, to the one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen out of an airport window – snow-capped mountains and dunes surrounded us, and the weather was cool and clear, perfect for outdoor fun. We drove 2 hours to Moab, Utah, a small resort town situated between two National Parks, Arches and Canyonlands. We spent three days between the two of them, resting at our hotel in Moab in between treks. I think it’s normally a quiet, quaint place, but a classic car show was in town, and the main drag was full of men showing off their babies, like this guy. It appears to be the motorcycle version of an El Camino.

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Arches National Park was first up. Our first hike took most of the day and was basically a tour of many famous natural sandstone arches, created when time, wind, and water wear away all of a piece of rock except for an archway. This one, Landscape Arch, is the longest natural arch in the world at almost 300 feet, and the trail under it is now closed because pieces keep falling off. It may not be around much longer (historically speaking).

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The Devil’s Garden Trail took us on a tour of a bunch of these, and they were all beautiful! Some were harder to get to than others…after Landscape Arch, the trail gets considerably harder, and you have to scramble up and over these ridiculous rock “fins,” which is like climbing along the edge of a giant nickel planted in the ground – sheer drops on either side of a thin walkway in the shape of a half-moon (on this picture, I’m on top of one, and you can see others off in the right corner).

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This was definitely the scariest thing we did. I had a really hard time getting over a seam/crack in it – not only a drop on both sides, but you had to jump over one, too! I was horrified, but as soon as we got off the end of it, a bunch of school kids on some sort of sanctioned school trip got on it to go the way we had just come. I couldn’t believe anyone would send kids on that thing!

Here’s another one – it started off innocently enough and got scarier the further up the fin you went!

The arches were beautiful, and although there were some other scary moments (like shuffling along a slick, 1-foot wide ledge for about 60 feet overlooking a 20-foot drop-off – at least – onto solid rock), we had a great time. One of the coolest was this double arch – you can see the scale of this by that guy in the bottom left.

The arches below are called “The Window,” and you can see through them to a whole other area of the park otherwise obscured by massive walls of rock.

We came back to Arches our third day of hiking to see the most famous one, Delicate Arch, the one on all the license plates and postcards. The hike there isn’t super long, but it’s strenuous because you have to trek up this GIGANTIC slickrock mountainside first. Dad is the green dot below, and you can see part of the trail we took to get to this spot, kind of in the middle left. We had to stop several times to rest!

Then we moved through this area that kind of feels like the surface of the moon. Very smooth and bleak – I think I read it is ancient sand/sea floor.

Then comes the part I was a little worried about after our fin “adventure” the first day. You have to walk along a ledge, about 4 feet wide, for about 200 feet, and it takes you along a wall overlooking a several-hundred-foot drop-off down to the moonscape below.

THEN you finally see Delicate Arch. It’s unique because the others have portions of wall on either or both sides, and this one has worn away differently, so that it’s just an arch. Nice view of the mountains behind it. You can’t tell from this, but behind us, between us and the arch, is a couple-hundred-foot drop. To get to the arch, you have to climb over this lip and go along the top edge of a pretty severe slope and over to it. Many people have died simply walking here, falling to their deaths. You can see the ledge a little better behind me in the second photo.

Arches was a very diverse place, even though the arches were the main feature. There was also Balancing Rock…

And there was Park Avenue, named because it reminded someone of walking down a New York avenue, flanked by skyscrapers. The walls were sheer and massive. We got caught halfway down the half-mile trail in a lightning storm. The sound the thunder made echoing off those walls was just awesome, in the full sense of the word. We made it to the car as a flash flood stream began pouring off the rock wall in front of us and across the dry bed a few feet from our car. I know it’s hard to tell, but that is not a small rock formation, and that is not a little bit of water.

Arches was an amazing, unique place, and there was so much we still didn’t see, even though it’s a fairly small park by comparison. Can’t want to go back. Coming up, Part 2 – Canyonlands National Park, where the 127 Hours guy cut off his arm!

National TV Premiere #3!

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Why, yes. My third national TV series credit DOES share the screen with Ediie Cibrian’s dimples. Yes, it does. I’m a rational, professional human being, and I’ve edited footage of more than one celebrity. But his dimples!! They make me all melty and distract me from the point of this photo, which is my name on national television.

It’s so nice to finally see this on TV – I edited this months ago. All that work is finally going to get seen. I’ve learned a lot about interior design through this show, which is saying a lot for a lifelong renter with zero design sensibilities. Jonathan and his team at Pierce and Company in Nashville are very talented, and it’s been so fun to get to know them through forming what this show has become. I wish them all the success in the world!

Check it out – Interiors, Inc. on HGTV, Saturday nights at 8:30 CST!

Breakfast Waffles

I’ve been making healthy waffles for breakfast the last couple of months. My old stand-by is bran muffins, which are cheap, yummy, and a great way to use chocolate chips! But a girl can only eat so many bran muffins, and I’m in a waffle phase. I make a double bath of this recipe, freeze half, and keep the other half in the fridge for the week’s breakfasts. I put peanut butter and berry preserves on top and eat them segment by segment, sometimes even in the car on the way to work. They’re super cheap, super healthy, and super easy to make. This recipe calls for a mix of white and wheat flours, but I use all wheat. It also calls for applesauce and oil, but I just use twice the applesauce, in place of the oil. I also like to get the cinnamon applesauce and add some powdered spices like cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger – whatever flavors you like. YUM.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs – beaten
  • 1 and 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (flours, oats, flax meal, wheat germ, baking powder, sugar and salt).

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, applesauce, oil and vanilla.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

Cook waffles in a lightly-greased preheated waffle iron according to manufacturers instructions.

Serve with pure maple syrup (or peanut butter and jelly!). Enjoy!

Dinosaurs!

This past Saturday, my roommates and I packed some lunch and towels and drove to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX to climb around in some dinosaur tracks for the day. It was a cool, sunny day, and the weather was perfect. We took Jasper, Ashlie and Corbin’s tiny Maltese, and we picked up some picnic food along the way. Corbin kept asking how if we were close, and we just kept telling him to keep his eye out for dinosaurs.

Ashlie’s friend K brought her two big dogs, and they played in the water along with Jasper (although they are significantly taller than Jasper, so they didn’t need help over the bigger rocks and “deeper” water like he did). K is a history teacher, and a really good one, so she taught Corbin about what he was seeing. The funny part is, there’s a “Creation Evidence Museum” down the road, which K has been kicked out of and asked not to return, because she asked too many pointed questions. So we got some actual history lessons from her as we went along our way.

You can see one of the footprints on the lower left here. Pretty cool. It was a lovely day, and it was so nice to get out of the city and be outside in God’s creation. Seeing and being in very old places helps remind me that my concerns, problems, and even joys are very small in the scheme of Great Things.

“What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 1:9