Our trip to Austin

 

For our anniversary, we took a long weekend trip to Austin (our soon-to-be hometown!). We ate, we laughed, and it rained a lot. Here are a few photos, if you'd like to see...


 

We left Dallas early Saturday morning and got to Austin just in time for lunch. Of course, we chose to eat at our favorite little taco place – Tacodeli. It's a huge local hit, but the line is never too long and the staff is so friendly and helpful. I always order the Otto – black beans, bacon, cheese, and a giant slice of avocado wrapped up in a warm flour tortilla. 

 
 

Across the street from Tacodeli is an entrance to the Greenbelt – a seemingly endless system of hiking and running trails that run along a creek. Having gotten so much rain lately, the creek was pretty wild and fun to watch. The access across from Tacodeli leads to a pretty rocky part of the trails, and I was surprised to see how much Penny enjoyed it! She even stuck her paw in the creek... and this is all coming from a Dallas-dog who won't even step on wet grass. So I guess Penny is pretty granola now. I had a good laugh about it. 

 
 

After our walk we visited a few apartment complexes, since we went with the intention of finding a home! Chris starts work mid-September, and I start seminary classes at the end of August. We figured our anniversary was the right timing to come and put a deposit on something. Saturday proved to be pretty promising, but we didn't make a decision until the next day (I'll get to that later). After our hunt, Penny was getting pretty tired and adorably grumpy. She would refuse to walk anymore and just stand there making sad sounds. We picked her up and headed over to SoCo to get checked into our hotel. 

Last year, for our first wedding anniversary, my parents got us a gift card to stay two nights at a unique hotel they had heard about in Austin, Hotel San Jose. Coincidentally, when they gave it to us was the week we found out we would be moving to Austin! We decided to save the gift card for when we needed to go apartment hunting. The hotel really was unique – it felt like an oasis in the middle of all of the hustle and bustle of South Congress. Covered in ivy with only a few rooms, Hotel San Jose emits a unique style that's effortlessly cool. Penny gave the platform bed two paws up :) Our favorite part? That Jo's Coffee was located on the premises (and offers complimentary coffee in the hotel lobby from 7am to 11am). We were well caffeinated all weekend. 

 
 

Saturday night, we got to enjoy my anniversary gift to Chris – tickets to the Legend of Zelda Symphony! We completely "nerded out" and loved every minute of it. The games were special to Chris from playing them as a kid, and during the last few weeks of our senior year of college, he pulled them back out again (such a typical "goodbye" to college life!). The music is especially wonderful, and it was fun to get to hear it all played in-person by a full orchestra. The venue, the Long Center, was gorgeous with a huge balcony area that faced downtown. Luckily, a fellow Link fan noticed our poor attempts at a selfie and offered to take our picture for us! 

So, where was Penny during all of this? Well, we heard about this amazing service called DogVacay...

 
 

We found a sitter named Stacey, who rocked. She lived close by our hotel in an adorable duplex and was sitting another dog, Bandit, the same night. Stacey used the DogVacay app to send us video and pictures throughout the evening (which totally soothed my #momguilt). What was really amazing to me was that having Penny go to Stacey's house cost the same as sending Penny to daycare, where Penny's usually one of 20 dogs in a small room without consistent human interaction. Stacey was even kind enough to offer to help out with our move when we come back to Austin, and said Penny was welcome anytime (because how could you not love that face!). DogVacay and Stacey for the win! 

 
 

Sunday was filled with leisurely coffee-sipping and naps – we had grand plans of exploring outside but it rained off and on all day. In the afternoon, we went back to one of the apartment complexes we visited and put down a deposit...! I had done a ton of research prior to our trip, and the one complex that we just happened to drive by and say "let's check it out" ended up being the perfect one. We got a great deal, it had all of the amenities we were hoping for and more, plus an incredible view...

 
 

This will be the view from our apartment...! I can't get over it. It's in a great quiet, established neighborhood and only five miles from where Chris will be working downtown. Penny and I will have plenty of fun working and studying from home and checking out the local running trails. 

 
 

Naturally, we had to celebrate with food! We drove around to see what our selection was close by and happened upon a P. Terry's with outdoor seating (so Penny could come). We had heard this chain was an Austin gem and I'm so glad we stopped to try it. One of our cheapest and most delicious meals. (We also popped in the local PetCo and it was unlike any PetCo I've seen before. So excited to take Penny there on the reg!)

 
 

Sunday night, Chris had made us dinner reservations to celebrate our anniversary at a seafood restaurant called Perla's. Our friends, past Austin-ites, told us "if you're going to go out to celebrate, Perla's is the place to do it." We ate the best fish of our lives, plus a pretty kickin' mac and cheese. I made sure to tell Chris that next time I'm sick, Perla's mac and cheese will make me feel better instantly ;) This picture above has a pretty sweet story to it – my best friend gave birth to her first baby (!!!) that Sunday and all day I was gushing about it. I was talking to Chris at dinner about it while he looked up something on my phone, and he happened to snap a few pics of me, mooney-eyed. When I realized he'd done that, I sent this one over to my sweet friend and let her know I was on cloud nine for her. Of course she sent a way cuter picture of an hours-old baby boy back to me :) :) :) 

 
 

Monday morning, we grabbed a delicious breakfast and headed out of town a little earlier than originally planned. I didn't think there was any real reason for doing this other than we're morning people, and by 8:30 we'd done all of the Austin things we had left to do on our list, but Chris had something else in mind... a pit-stop in Waco just for me! So insanely sweet. We ate lunch, grabbed coffee at Common Grounds, and popped into Chip and Joanna's storefront, The Magnolia Market. We didn't stay long (partially because I wanted to buy everything and needed nothing, but mostly because we'd left Penny in the car and I couldn't escape thinking about her overheating alone), but I'm so glad we went. After that, we were able to stop by the hospital on our way home and hold the sweetest newborn! I have to say, it was a pretty great weekend.


Have you ever been to Austin (or are you from Austin)? I'd love to hear your suggestions for what we should do – and eat! – when we move in just a few weeks!

Have a wonderful weekend.

that's pretty ace
 

+ some links for your weekend:

Branded Collateral Items for Lauren Kinsey Photography

Lauren Kinsey Photography branding - that's pretty ace
 

I was contacted a few months back by my good friend and wedding photographer, Lauren Kinsey, to create a few collateral items to go along with her new branding. She had just wrapped up creating a new website that she adored, and was looking for business cards and PDFs to send to her clients to match the new site. Anything Lauren touches is golden, so of course I was thrilled to join her journey! 

Lauren was specifically looking for something simple and striking, and had such wonderful inspiration imagery to show me. She wanted to stand out among other photographers in her industry in a way that was powerful and timeless. We stuck to a color palette of black and white with an emphasis on texture, and I love how Lauren's pieces turned out! 

 
Lauren Kinsey Photography branding - that's pretty ace
 

We got to work right away on her PDFs (contracts, invoices, and a collection guide), then finished with her business cards. I sent the design off to be printed by a local letterpress shop, Elefant Press, who did an incredible job. Quick, friendly, and so personable, they made the process easy and beautiful. 

 
Lauren Kinsey Photography branding - that's pretty ace
 

The collection guide is an important aspect of Lauren's business, as it's often what will help a client decide if she's the right fit for their wedding. In keeping with the look and feel of her website, the guide features a "granite" cover with text that appears engraved within the stone. The rest of the pages use her branding's strong serif font and crisp lines to both highlight Lauren's photography, but also express how powerful and timeless her work is.

Lauren Kinsey Photography branding - that's pretty ace

Through simple lines, a classic font, texture, and some stunning photography, Lauren and I were able to give her business a visual identity that better suited the personality of her brand. I'm thrilled with the outcome!

What do you think of the new collateral items for Lauren Kinsey Photography?

2 years later: what we've learned

Today marks two years of marriage. It feels like it's gone by slowly and quickly all at the same time. While a little part of me is sad that the memories of our wedding day grow fainter each year, I'm truly thankful that what's lacking in clarity from that day resulted in an authentically wonderful marriage. Marriage is no cake walk, and it's been the most refining relationship either one of us has ever been in. I put together a list of questions for Chris (because you know I love to interview people) to share a little glimpse into our lives so far...

 
2 years: what we've learned - that's pretty ace
 

When did you know you wanted to marry each other?

Brittany: Chris and I originally met via Facebook while he was studying abroad in England. It was so nice getting to know someone over several months without the pressures there would have been had it all been done "in person." When we finally did meet, it was obvious that all that talking had lead to a genuine relationship that ran deep. I instantly felt like teammates and trustworthy friends, and saw that the bond between us was incredibly special and true. It's hard to put into words, and this is so cliche, but it's something like, "I saw you and I knew." Chris took a little more convincing...

Chris: I’m not sure I can pinpoint an exact time or place. I think, for me, it was more of a gradual process. In the first few months of our relationship, I certainly thought about it, but I’m not sure I can say I knew for sure (although I did more often than not think about the future as our future). By the end of our first year of dating, I was pretty confident that I wanted to get married. And, since we dated for three years before getting married, by the time we actually got married I was very, very sure. :) 

What about marriage were you not expecting?

Brittany: Living intimately with someone actually makes communication even more important. I thought as we lived together and functioned as one true team, that we would start to be able to just "get" how the other one thinks or feels. Turns out, no one can read minds! :)

Chris: I think there is a lot that I kind of expected, but that I couldn’t really understand until I experienced it. One thing that has been beautiful to experience is the constant (and imperfect) pursuit of service. Coming into marriage, I knew that we were committing to serve and love one another by putting each other’s needs ahead of our own. While I knew we were committing to serve and love each other, experiencing that day-in and day-out has been something that must be experienced to truly appreciate and enjoy. Obviously we mess up and are selfish, but the pursuit of service—where we both try to pursue and serve each other—is pretty awesome. 

 
2 years: what we've learned - that's pretty ace
 

What are the biggest changes you've seen in yourself?

Brittany: I've learned (and am still learning) how to serve someone else when all I want to do is to be served (ex. coming home from a long day of work!). Learning how to set my own feelings aside for the benefit of someone else has grown and changed me in so many ways. I've learned that in being selfless, I've honored myself more and don't let myself get caught up in fleeting fantasies or worries. I also get the opportunity to see how deeply Chris loves me, and it furthers our trust to serve one another without intentions of "getting" anything in return.

Chris: Since we’ve been married, I think the biggest change I’ve seen in myself is a growing acceptance of circumstances and an increased belief that there is joy even in hardship. As James 1:2 would say, I’ve learned—albeit still imperfectly—to “count it all joy” during trials. There have been a number of hard choices (e.g., applying for jobs all across the country, trying to discern which jobs to take) that we’ve had to make the last two years, and sometimes the circumstances have been far different than what we had expected or planned for. Many times I’ve found myself anxious and confused about these choices and other circumstances of life, and I’ve even (ever so reasonably) been anxious and confused about being anxious and confused. I don’t expect that difficulties will stop coming my (our) way, and thus I do expect that this is going to be an ongoing area of growth for me. I have come to better understand the lack of control I truly have over pretty much anything, and with that understanding has (by the grace of God) come an increased faith in God’s goodness and sovereignty. 

What's one aspect of your parents' marriage that you'd like to replicate in your marriage?

Brittany: My parents love to have fun together. They love to go on trips, try new things, and accept any and all opportunities for celebration. I've always respected that, and it's been refreshing to remember we're meant to enjoy each other in the midst of serious and tough seasons. 

Chris: Something I’d like to replicate is keeping the romance and pursuit alive, even as we get older. My parents’ marriage is going on 30 years and the romancing is still going strong. Growing up and now, I see them consistently pursuing and seeking to serve each other—kissing each other before going to work, many “I love you”s (in a way that I never felt was insincere), and planning dinners or trips (or anything else, really) with the goal of serving. This constant pursuit and service is a joy for me to see, and I know that growing up in their house has helped me love and serve Brittany better.  

 
2 years: what we've learned - that's pretty ace
 

What spiritual gifts do you see in each other?

Brittany: Something I've always admired in Chris is how genuine his love is for the people around him. And I don't necessarily mean a "lovey-dovey" or sappy kind of love – the love Chris offers to me and to others in his life is honest, straightforward, and loyal. It's something rare and so of God. I don't think I can express how much I appreciate his sweet, steadfast love for me – and how much that has taught me about how Christ sees me. It brings me to my knees. I've watched others continue to find truth and trust in being Chris's friend, and I'm in awe of the way he serves the people God brings into his life.

Chris: Brittany is filled with grace and loves others well. She has an amazing ability to see needs and seek to serve in a way that fills those needs. Her love for others—even those who wrong her—and her desire to serve them has helped me better understand the power of forgiveness and grace. Not only do I see Brittany loving others, I’ve also had the joy of watching her love increase. As we’ve been married longer and longer, Brittany has been quicker and quicker to forgive and to love. 

What's your ideal date night?

Brittany: Chris, a glass of wine, and a beautiful view. Time to just sit and chat for hours is so good for my soul. (Though I'd never turn down a plate of fajitas and a margarita with him, either!) 

Chris: Sitting together in a cabana in Costa Rica and watching the sun set over the ocean while drinking pina coladas after eating some freshly caught fish… But, if we aren’t in Costa Rica and there is no ocean, sunset, etc. available, I’m nearly as content splitting fajitas, walking Penny, and drinking a margarita (not two, because if I do that I usually get a stomachache)—although not necessarily in that order.

 
2 years: what we've learned - that's pretty ace
 

What is one dream you have for your future?

Brittany: To pick just one, I would dream for Chris and I to grow together in our love for God and His glory. I've already seen God do so much of this work in our hearts and our lives, and I know He always has more of Himself to give us. My dream would be that Chris and I continue to lean in, holding hands, trusting in His goodness for our lives – a "humble bravery" that is completely authored and rooted in Christ. I have no idea what that looks like, but I pray that God moves in big ways.  

Chris: I’m notoriously bad at thinking too far into the future, but I think I can at least say that my dream is that we continue to pursue each other and the Lord, loving each other and others in a way that’s glorifying to Him. I don’t know exactly what that looks like (as in, where we will be, how many children we will have, etc.), but I think that regardless of changed circumstances, that’s where I want us to be. Of course I also hope to have children, have a home, and grow old together, but these are secondary to us becoming increasingly close to the Lord and submitting to His will daily together. 

Two years out, is there one moment from your wedding that stands out the most?

Brittany: There was a moment during the ceremony that my dad read a passage of Scripture to the audience. I remember finally feeling like I had the opportunity to look out where everyone was sitting, and I ended up taking in everything – the chapel, it's tall ceilings, the flowers, and all of the incredible people who came so far to celebrate with us. I felt such a warm wave of immense joy wash over me. I knew everything from that day forward would be different, but standing there, holding Chris's hands, I felt wonderfully happy and present, able to enjoy the moment and soak it all in without fear of the future. It's too easy to be thinking about "the next step," and I love thinking back on that moment and reminding myself that the present is incredibly good and wonderful, just as it is. 

Chris: Brittany walking down the aisle was big for me. I had thought through that moment 1,000 times before the wedding. I knew I’d probably cry, and I did (very hard). I think that was the moment that it felt real for me. It was great seeing her come down the aisle and knowing that we were going to get to grow together and seek each other for the rest of our lives. While that thought is also a bit scary when you’re 22, that fear was more than compensated for by the joy of knowing that we were committing to be one: to pursue and serve each other, to lean on each other during hardship, and to encourage each other to grow in faith and love.


Photographs by the wonderfully talented Lauren Kinsey

P.S. If you enjoy a walk down memory lane: getting ready, our first look, the ceremony, and our reception.

Have a lovely weekend.

IMG_4314.JPG
 

This weekend, Chris and I are headed to Austin! We're celebrating our second wedding anniversary, but we're also looking for an apartment for our move in just a few short weeks. I'm mostly excited just to eat good food and spend time outside with my guy... and Penny! Naturally, she's joining us in the most dog-friendly city in America. Maybe we'll even let her pick the apartment ;) Have a fun weekend!

+ some links for you: