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!
Oh my goodness. I’m so silly, stupid, happy in love and I still grin ear-to-ear and get all the butterflies when I think of this day.
Here’s the story..
Sunday, July 3rd
Nate and I went to San Francisco for 4th of July weekend. We decided to travel to San Francisco on a whim; I went once when I was very young, and he had never been, and we both love to explore new cities, so we booked flights to spend a 5-day weekend away from Austin and work.
First of all, I should have known that San Francisco would be chilly. I mean, I checked my weather app every day leading up to the trip and knew it never got over 60 degrees, and I had just been in LA 2 weeks prior, and I was FREEZING the whole time and promised myself I’d bring a warmer jacket next time I was in California! Apparently, I learn things slowly, because I didn’t pack anything warmer than a light jean jacket. So while Nate and I were walking around the bay area, I was constantly cold.
On Sunday, we spent a day in Berkeley. It was wonderful, and we have lots of fun memories and stories from that day. In the evening he thought it would be fun to make it back to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner with a view of the sunset, which I thought was incredibly sweet and romantic of him to want to do. (Note: I had no idea proposal was in the books for this trip…I had kind of guessed that my birthday weekend, 3 weeks later, or sometime in the fall would be when he proposed).
So we grabbed an Uber across the Oakland Bay Bridge and we were dropped off at Pier 39 on a freezing cold, windy, cloudy Sunday night. I was miserable.
Now, Nate and I don’t love super touristy things in cities, unless they’re well justified by being super sweet. Fisherman’s Wharf is kind of like a carnival on steroids. There were drunk tourists stumbling around, lots of chain restaurants, and annoying, loud music played by flimsy rides and cheesy games. And it was cold and windy, and after wandering around and finding nothing better to eat than Bubba Gump Shrimp or Applebee’s, the night was getting later and we were both really hungry. And COLD!
I think that both of us expected Fisherman’s Wharf to be a more serene place with cool views of the harbor and good seafood…and it is not that, friends. It’s loud and obnoxious. Lesson learned, San Francisco.
So we had to find somewhere to eat, and I could tell he was wanting to find a nicer restaurant with seafood, but on a Sunday night at 8:30 there weren’t a lot of options. And I was FREEZING. Like, so so cold that I couldn’t even think.
We ended up standing in a Starbucks just to escape the wind for 10 minutes while we yelped and googled and tried to find anything in the area that was A) open on a Sunday night, and B) not Hard Rock Cafe…
BLESS! We found Bar Crudo, and although it was a long Uber ride from the Wharf, it had the most delicious seafood chowder I’ve tasted, a good wine list, and a interesting take on Branzino, a fish we both discovered the week before at dinner with my grandfather! So we knew we should order it 🙂
The dinner itself was lovely. I was still cold and asked to borrow Nate’s jacket, which he wasn’t using. He hesitatingly handed it to me, which I thought was odd. (Geez, don’t be so stingy with the jacket…) I had not the slightest idea that the ring was in the pocket of his jacket, which was sitting on my lap all night. Clueless..
Now, for some reason I decided to bring up the topic of a ring during dinner. We had never discussed it, and he had never asked me my ring size or what sort of ring I wanted. I had also mentioned that we don’t have to do the traditional route with a ring if he didn’t want…I could be happy with or without a ring, but I just wanted to subtly bring it up. (Note the heavy sarcasm…nothing about my comments that night were subtle).
I asked if he should propose…or me? And when might it happen? He rolled his eyes, said he wanted to propose, maybe it would be sometime in the near future, and we don’t really need to talk about it any more. I quickly dropped the subject…and just as quickly picked it back up again 5 minutes later. Hehe… He was giving me NO answers! His version of this story is that I kept bringing it up all night during dinner, although I feel preeeetty strongly that I didn’t mention it any more. No one really knows..
After dinner I had tunnel vision for my bed. All I could think about was getting home and under the warmth of a quilt. Cold. Tired. Apparently Nate mentioned taking a walk to the Japanese Peace Pagoda, which I hardly remember him mentioning because I was just so cold! Did I mention I was really cold?
Long story short, we almost got engaged on July 3rd, but Kelsey was being such a brat about being cold and tired that it didn’t happen. #sorryNate
4th of July morning
Nate and I are both coffee drinkers, so we love to try a different specialty coffee shop each morning when we’re in a new city. On Monday we walked about a mile to Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters, a shop we were excited to try! The bay area isn’t known for bright sunny mornings, but this one was clear and warm, and the good vibes were flowing while we walked up and down the hills to get caffeinated.
Nate saw a city park on his google map and asked if I wanted to go out of the way of our route to walk up the hill for the view of the bay. I happily obliged. It was a gorgeous morning!
We walked and talked, just like a normal morning. The views were incredible so he handed me his phone and told me to take a selfie of us. While I was fidgeting with his phone and took the gorgeous ring out of his jacket pocket, turned me around, and asked if we could spend our lives together.
Although I was completely surprised by the timing of the proposal, I had thought it through many times before he popped the question. The thoughts that went through my brain when he asked this question were very rational, which I never expected to feel during a proposal. I expected happy tears and laughter and then my brain might probably turn to mush. But there were no tears at that moment, and my brain was functioning as well as I could hope. I just pictured, very clearly, what a lifetime would look like with Nate. I imagined going through all the big stages left in life with Nate as my partner in life, thinking is this what I want?
Yes. Yes, it is.
I realize that doesn’t sound incredibly romantic to a lot of people who might have wanted to have the tears and laughter and mushy brain. But, first of all, remember that I’m an ISTJ, and I like that my brain responded in its normal way. The feeling was perfect to me, because I really really knew that I wanted this man by my side for the rest of our lives. The proposal was actualized, and I thought through my options, and I definitely knew that this is the thing that will make be so, so happy. And knowing that we’re both 100% certain in our decision is the most romantic thing in the world to me.
(Oh yes, and poor Nate…he tells me it took about 45 seconds for these thoughts to go through my mind before I said “YES!” while he stood there with the ring. He is an incredibly patient man.)
The ring fit perfectly! I have no idea how he guessed, because I couldn’t have even guessed my ring size, but even after going to the jeweler to have it sized, they told me not to change anything.
And the rest of the day? Pure bliss. The tears came soon after, as well as the mushy brain. The day was sunny but my mind was in a happy fog all day.
We chose not to tell any family or friends for the first 24 hours while we enjoyed our first day of being engaged.
We went to a game at AT&T Park to see the Rockies play the Giants. I remember absolutely nothing from that baseball game, except that the view was beautiful and I had a diamond on my finger and a fiancé by my side.
I am the happiest ever!
Oh, and after he proposed we finished walking to Wrecking Ball for a couple coffees and scones. The pour-over was a really good one, so we bought a bag of their Columbia roast to bring back to Austin. Every cup made me so happy!
I take a ring selfie just about every day…because no matter what I told him about not needing to have a ring to get engaged, it’s just really fun to have a diamond on my finger. 😉
So much happiness, friends. Thanks for taking the time to read!