A capp and a latte to start. Ok, if I have to be 100% honest here, I’ll say that the coffee was decent, but not the best I’ve had. The espresso had a nice, nutty flavor to it, but the milk on both drinks seems to be frothed a little too heavy-handed, so the milk bubbles weren’t quite as smooth and velvety as I like.
We ordered a HUUUGE cinnamon roll to share with coffee.
Nate ordered the waffle sandwich, and I stole bites because that’s what fiancés do. It was pretty tasty! If I had one complaint, I’d say that the waffle was a little dry and needed just a daaaash more maple syrup. Ain’t nobody want a dry waffle sandwich.
| FORTHWRIGHT WAFFLE SANDWICH: smoked bacon, gruyére, over easy egg, maple syrup |
I picked the pork belly hash, which was deeeelish. (Nate’s normally the one who always orders the hash, but I picked it this time.)
Just looking at this shot of our brunch table makes me so happy! I don’t know what it is about you, brunch, but I’m your gal. We will be together forever.
Literally my very favorite brunch shirt, 1) because its’ so super soft and comfy, and 2) because it’s so ridiculous and Austin-y.
I’ve been in the Christmas spirit lately! I’ve got my Frank Sinatra Christmas album playing, the tree is up, and I’m working on my holiday shopping! Which is quite a feat for a family the size of mine..
This post is they type of thing I read a lot of about 3 years ago when I was first getting into online dating. I was curious about how it worked, and I wanted to know more about the type of people who *actually* met someone on a dating site. So I’m typing it up for anyone out there who would like to hear about the process of going from online dating -> engaged!
First of all, I should say that the online dating process that led me to my fiancé was my second attempt… The first time I tried online dating was when I lived in downtown Chicago after college. That time didn’t go so well. I met a couple weird people. Ha. I don’t think that I was emotionally ready to be seriously dating. I didn’t give it much effort, either, so the outcome wasn’t anything to talk about.
But this time was a different story, because it’s how I met my fiancé! This is how it happened:
I was approaching my first winter break of graduate school in Austin, TX. I went to a small private school for my undergrad, so I was unaccustomed to the 6+ weeks of winter break that I had during grad school at a large state university. I needed something to do during break other than practice my violin and watch netflix, so I decided to try two different “hobbies.” The first was training for a marathon (which I ran the following February!), and the other was trying online dating.
I’m a planner, so I totally did my research before I signed up for an account. I know…it’s kind of embarrassing. Some people are great at dating, but let me tell you that I am not that girl. Nope. I had done very little dating in my life, and I wanted to have fun with the process and not be freaked out the whole time, so I prepared. I read dating books, (<- uggh, so embarrassing. But true.), I researched which dating site to use, and I read way too many online articles about how to fill out an online dating profile with cheesy titles like “6 Things To Put On Your Dating Profile To Make It POP!” and “15 Things To Never Say On Your OKCupid Profile.” IknowIknowIknow… I told you that I am not a natural at this!
I picked OkCupid because it was 1) one of the most popular sites (more fish in the sea, eh eh?), and 2) it was FREE! (#brokegradschoolgirl) This was several years ago, so I can’t say what OkCupid is like right now, but I’ve heard from a couple sources that’s it’s been going downhill…
I wish I had saved what I put on that profile, because I would love to read it now and laugh! (I’d also love to see my message thread with Nate at the beginning, but I don’t have that either.) But being a girl on a dating site is an easy way to go on a lot of dates in a short amount of time. And I had a blast! Ha. That December, I sorted through a bunch of messages. (Some were kind, some not so much…if you’re using a free dating service, be prepared to filter through a lot of messages. It’s sad how people assume they can talk to others when there’s a computer screen between them.) I went on a lot of dates, and although no sparks flew, I met some nice men and got to experience a lot of new coffee shops and bars and restaurants in Austin, a city that was new to me at the time.
One of the challenges of online dating is to know when to quit. It’s a pretty time-consuming task, which is why I did it when grad school was out of session. It’s not like dating IRL, when something happens every few weeks or months or years…online dating is a constant fire hydrant of attention and messages, new profiles to look at and potential dates to message. It got a little exhausting. I decided to stop when school started again, which was mid-January.
But there was this one guy I had been messaging who I still wanted to meet in person….
Nate messaged me, and we instantly hit it off, messaging back and forth for a couple weeks. I knew that I wanted to meet him, so I messaged him my phone number and told him I’d be deleting my OkCupid account now that school was back in session for the spring semester, but he could text if he wanted.
We texted for a couple more weeks before we finally went out for our first date. I’ll say that, with online dating, expectations are set pretty low for first dates. It’s kinda easy to lie about your appearance/personality on a dating profile. (Everyone who’s tried online dating has a story about that one date whose profile picture was actually 5 years younger or 30 pounds slimmer or a head of hair fuller than their actual appearance, y’know? Haha.)
Our first date was at Craft Pride on Rainey Street in Austin, TX. I knew I liked him a lot from the second we sat down across the table from each other with our flight of beers. That was something I hadn’t I hadn’t felt with any of the other dates. I remember that exact moment when I thought “this one is different.”
(Ha! It sounds cheesy! I just erased that sentence and tried re-writing it, but I can’t explain it any other way… If you’ve met “your person”, you know exactly what I’m talking about!)
The story goes on from there through several years of dating, a proposal, and now planning a wedding! After the initial meeting process, there’s nothing about our dating story that’s different from two people who might have met in person instead of from a dating site. Sometimes we talk about how we met and think, “isn’t it funny that this all started with online dating?” I also often think that if I hadn’t decided to try online dating that month, I most likely wouldn’t ever have met Nate.
So that’s my story! I’m headed to enjoy a yoga class and then do some violin practicing for a weekend gig. It’s finally getting cold in Austin this weekend, and I couldn’t be more excited!! My cold weather clothes have been waiting patiently in my closet for weeks!
I’m back in Austin after a week of exploring Ohio with Nate. His immediate family doesn’t live there, but it’s where he was born, went to undergrad and law school, and where lots of his extended family lives. So we decided to spend the whole week there to explore the state and enjoy the cold weather!
Nate showed me around the Ohio State University campus and the building where he attended law school. I love being able to glimpse into those memories of his.
Oh my gosh. Y’all. I’ve heard about Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams for years now on instagram and blogs. I’m telling you that it did not disappoint. So much yum packed into one little store! I went with salted peanut butter with chocolate flecks and gooey butter cake. Hey Jeni’s: Austin needs you to put in a shop on South Congress, ok?
We walked up and down the shops on High Street and grabbed a couple ornaments to bring back home to Texas.
This weather had me feeling so Christmas-y the whole week!
This book store in German Village is officially one of my favorites. My one, sad, lonely picture isn’t doing a very good job showing how cute this place really is!
The 32-room store is packed with the smell of books! There’s a map showing how to get around (I got lost once or twice..) and arrows pointing in directions up-and-down various flights of stairs to help customers find a certain genre.
While we were in Columbus, we stopped at the house my grandparents lived in about 50 years ago with my mom her two sisters. They were the original owners then, and my grandpa asked us to take a picture so he could see what it looks like now. Still beautiful!
I had to stop and take some pictures of these pretty trees while walking through Victorian Village. They’re beautiful! I have a lot of good things to say about Austin, but I’ll confess that we don’t get these gorgeous fall colors. They were stunning.
After Columbus, we drove further East to Athens, OH, the little town where Nate went to college. OU is Ohio’s first university, and it’s over 200 years old and beautiful! I had so much fun wandering through the brick-lined streets and hearing Nate’s college stories.
The town is teeny tiny, so we were able to walk down the main streets of downtown before we got too cold and went to share a few flights at Jackie O’s, a local brewery in Athens, OH. I love these Ohio shaped serving boards!
Since Nate was in ROTC in college, he had plenty of memories of early morning runs in the frigid air. I told him I could relate with my memories of walking in the snow to swim practice in the dark morning hours. Then we both agreed we’re happy to be living in Texas now. Ha.
The actual Thanksgiving holiday was spent in Dayton, OH with a bunch of his immediate and extended family members. I seriously had the best time getting to know all of these people who will be party of my family when Nate and I get married in just a few months!
We prepared for the feast by eating pizza the day before Thanksgiving. #smartmove
I had no idea that “Dayton-style pizza” was a thing, but Marion’s Pizza is famous for their thin crust pizza that’s cut into little-bitty squares. This pizza is dangerous because the pieces are so tiny, you can’t keep track of how much you’ve eaten!
And for our final meal in Ohio, we ate at Skyline Chili, which everyone told me I had to try. In case you don’t know this (I didn’t…), Cincinnati chili is a whole thang. It’s not like the typical chili I would expect, which is thick of beef and almost like a stew, served with corn chips and cheese. Cincinnati chili is thin, sweet (with what I think is nutmeg and cinnamon), and layered on top of a pile of spaghetti (weird, I know!) and a HUGE pile of shredded cheese on top. This is 3-way chili, and you can choose to make it 4-way by adding either beans or onions, or 5-way by adding beans and onions. Everyone has their own opinion about which way is best, and they all seem to be pretty passionate about it! Haha.
I chose 4-way with beans. I never thought I’d be eating chili, spaghetti, and beans all on the same plate… It was actually pretty good 🙂
Thanksgiving was such a blast this year. I’m grateful to have experienced this part of the country with my fiancé. I love hearing his stories and memories from the years before we knew each other. And I’m especially thankful to be building more memories together!
Last week, I accomplished something I’ve been working on for the past year.
I made my final payment on my student loans! This is something I’ve been working on paying for the last 11 months. I buckled down and paid them as quickly as I could (which was no small feat on a classical musician’s salary, ha!), and it feels so. so. good. to be finished!
We walked in without a reservation and lucked out on the last two spots at the chefs counter, overlooking the busy kitchen. That’s my favorite place to sit in a restaurant because I get to see the action, smell the food, and check out how the dishes are being made!
Cocktails to start, because we’re celebrating!!
|Army Navy: Gin, Pecan Orgeat, Lemon|
And bubbles for me! Nothing says “special occasion” like a glass of bubbly!
Emmer & Rye is a small plates restaurant, so we picked a few dishes to start and added more as we needed. One of the coolest things about this place is that they don’t only make their own bread and pasta…they mill their own flour, too!
Ok, get ready. This next dish gets its own paragraph. If I could give it its own website, I would. This Cacio e Pepe (translating to cheese and pepper, for this who are rusty on their foreign language skills like this girl..) was so simple and so perfect. After I took a bite, I’m pretty sure I told Nate that our engagement is off because I need to marry this pasta. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted. I wanted to order 4 more servings right then and there.
The homemade pasta was perfectly chewy, and the Challerhocker cheese (which, according to our waiter, is a hard cheese from Switzerland with a nutty, caramel-y, salty flavor) gave off a slightly sour, creamy, salty, stunning flavored that was perfectly cut through by the bitter dandelion greens.
Emmer & Rye changes their menu based on what’s available, but it’s no shocker that this dish has been one of the few that’s been around since the restaurant’s opening.
Ok, I’m done now.
|Blue Beard Cacio e Pepe, Challerhocker, Dandelion Greens|
Wine with dinner! Just taking a quick little taste to pick one…
Something really fun about Emmer & Rye is that the restaurant has a dim sum cart that rolls around, stopping at each table to offer plates! We declined the first couple of dishes, but on the third try we picked a couple to try. Like this one:
|Emmer Johnny Cake, Confit Pork, Cheddar, Nuka Radish, Creme Fraiche|
We also picked these GIANT shrimps off the dim sum cart. They were messy and creamy and so, so good!
Ahhh! Just enjoying some wine, knowing that I have no more student loans to pay!!
No lie, every single dessert on the menu looked perfect, and it was hard to see all of the delicious desserts leaving the kitchen in the waiters hand, heading toward someone else’s table, and not order every single one. But I was stuffed, so Nate and I topped off the meal with this one:
|Brown Butter Apple Tart, Honeycrisp Apple Compote, Red Fife Strusel, Creme Fraiche|
I hear they do a brunch, which I’m excited to try some day. For now, I’m THRILLED beyond belief to have all of my student loans paid, and I’m thankful for this delicious celebratory meal!
I already shared my engagement story here, but I haven’t posted any other pictures from my trip to San Francisco! Here’s what we were up to for the long weekend:
Fresh off the plane! We booked a super early flight so we could have an extra full day in San Fran instead of traveling all day. CUE THE COFFEE! Our first stop for a much-needed cappuccino was Saint Frank Coffee.
Walking to dinner, we went past the Japanese Peace Pagoda, a gift from San Francisco’s sister city, Osaka, Japan. It’s beautiful!
Dinner at Iza Ramen in the Lower Haight. Like I’ve said many times about this trip, it was cold! Haha. This Texan girl is a complete wimp in cold weather. We were both craving warm, comforting ramen for our first dinner.
We walked around the corner to Tornado Pub so I could taste Pliny the Elder, a double IPA that has won so many awards it’s ridiculous. I heard about this beer even before I started dating Nate and learning about beer, so that tells you that it’s actually really well known;) Delish!
They had these little cards to take home for instructions on different coffee brewing methods!
Sniffing, tasting, enjoying. I love enjoying a cup of coffee across the table from him 🙂
I was really excited about brunch! I made reservations at Aster, a new restaurant in the Mission that recently received a Michelin Star. I hadn’t ever bought a meal at a Michelin-rated restaurant, so I was excited to cross that one off my 30 before 30 list.
I picked the apple and sweet potato hash brown with maple, bacon, and ricotta. This thing was insane! It was basically shredded sweet potatoes and apples that had been mashed together and put in a waffle iron to make a waffle shaped “hash.” I totally need to learn to recreate this!
Nate chose the duck confit and potato hash with poached egg, corn, green garlic aioli, and aged balsamic. 9 times out of 10, he’ll pick a hash at brunch.
Yum! It was a delicious brunch! I’m still having dreams about that apple and sweet potato hash brown.
Wondering through the Mission District.
Clarion Alley is a little alley connecting Valencia St. and Mission St, and every inch is covered in beautiful graffiti!
It’s equal parts overwhelming and beautiful.
Wandering through the world’s most narrow and hilly art gallery..haha.
These pretty little things grow all over the city. I have no idea what they’re called, but they’re stunning!
I was told to go to Bi-Rite Creamery for a scoop of ice cream, but when I got there the line was around the block! I waited for half an hour for this scoop of creme brûlée ice cream, and it did not disappoint.
I love my ice cream!
On Friday night we had tickets to see San Francisco Symphony perform Mahler 2. I had never seen them live, and it was extra fun to see this concert with Nate, who has started picking up my love of classical music since we’ve been dating.
Except for, y’know, getting engaged, this was the highlight of the trip for me!
Afterward we walked to Cala, for some cocktails and snacks!
This tostado of dungeness crab and asparagus and avocado was to do for. To. Die. For.
On Sunday we spent the day in Berkeley! I stopped at Project Juice for breakfast after feeling the margaritas from the night before…
I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the last day I’d call this guy my “boyfriend” instead of “fiance!” Ahhh!!
After taking the train to Berkeley, we went to Gather for brunch. This is right across the street from UC Berkeley, and I can imagine it being full of college students in the fall when school is in session.
French toast for him, breakfast sandwich for her, sides of bacon for both. Because Vacation.
We spent the day wandering through town. Pegasus Books is one of the independent book stores in Berkeley, so we stopped in to browse for a while.
These gorgeous flowers again! Does anyone know what they’re called?
I still get chills when I think about this morning! I already posted all about my engagement story here!
That afternoon we went to a baseball game at AT&T Park! The Giants were playing the Rockies, and I don’t remember anything about the game because whenever I tried to pay attention, I would look over to my left and see my fiancé and then glance down at my left hand and think ooh sparkles! Haha, truth. Smitten.
AT&T Park is incredible. Even with our seats way up in the nose bleeds, the view was amazing.
After the game we went to 21st Amendment Brewery for some pints and grub (toaster pastry IPA, anyone?!). It was packed after the game, but we managed to snag two seats up on the second floor where we could start talking about how we envisioned our upcoming wedding. Y’all. It felt surreal!
The rest of the Fourth of July was honestly a blur! We walked a lot, talked a lot, went to China Town for dinner, and watched fireworks. It was such a fun day!
On Tuesday morning we had a few hours of time to kill before catching our flight home, so we got coffee and walked around the beautiful city.
We climbed up to Coit Tower. Holy hills!
And after a quick stop for sushi we said goodbye to San Francisco and headed to the airport.
Oh, San Francisco. I love you! What a cool city to explore. This summer I got to experience Los Angeles and San Francisco for the first time, and I have to say that I loved both of them equally. For the rest of my life, San Francisco will hold a piece of my heart because it’s the city where we got engaged. But I loved LA’s athletic, healthy feel and beautiful beaches. They’re both fantastic cities and I’m happy to have been able to see both of them!