Long Busy Weekend!

We were fortunate to have great weather for the entire Labor Day weekend, because we were SO busy! We ended up having plans for every night, and had lots to do during the day, as well.

Friday night was our friend Susan's Paella Dinner Party to celebrate her birthday. The girls arrived a couple of hours early to start preparing the seafood for the paella. There are definitely easier ways to make paella, but we did it the authentic way, including making our own fish stock. There were tons of great appetizers, rich cheeses, and fruity sangria, and the paella turned out to be really great. Susan got lots of cool gifts and we enjoyed celebrating with her.

We stayed busy on Saturday doing yardwork (David) and errands around inside house (Chas). At about 4 p.m. we decided to go to the new track at Reagan high school for a quick run. Honestly, although it seemed nice out, it was actually 95 degrees. We ran for 30 minutes and then headed back home. But it was nice to get out and exercise together - although we take Oliver for walks together, we usually do our workouts on our own.

On Saturday night, our neighbors Alan and Amy invited us over for dinner. We got to hang out with them and see baby Katherine (who is almost walking!) and meet another couple from the neighborhood, Hoyt and Teresa. Alan is a fantastic cook! You know how most men can cook just well enough to get by, but not really well enough to impress guests? So the female ends up doing all of the cooking when company comes over? Alan stayed in the kitchen while Amy socialized with the girls and the other men chatted. We kept kind of wondering if maybe he needed help, since he was in the kitchen all alone and we could hear pots and pans banging around and occasional crashes. Nope - when dinner was finished it was well worth the wait, and oh so good! For appetizers, Alan served bruschetta and cheese. We had arugula salad with proscuitto wrapped peaches and balsamic reduction dressing - impressive! For dinner we had huge chicken breasts which had been seared in garlic and butter then baked to a beautiful crispy goodness. The potatoes he served were just halved boiled new potatoes dredged in lemon and parsley. Everything was fantastic and we will be serving the chicken and potatoes in our house, too!

We spent Sunday morning working...sort of. We got up early (really, very early for a weekend) and went to David's office. David did "real" work, while Chas completed a bunch of homework for her ethics class and started drafting this blog post. After work, we decided to stop by REI to shop for birthday presents for one another. Chas has really been wanting a heart rate monitor to use for her runs and circuit training. Unfortunately, they didn't really have that many in stock. There was only one on the "to check out" list, but nothing else there to compare it to. Amazon, here we come!

After work + shopping, we came home for a rest and, unfortunately, overslept on naps ended up missing two things we'd planned on doing. Our friend Stephen's wonderful girlfriend Liz threw him a birthday party at the Hotel ZaZa that was sure to be fun. And Chas had previously volunteered for a neighborhood event, and she missed the planning meeting for that. But the R&R was much appreciated, although an afternoon ath the ZaZa would have been magnificient, as well.

On Saturday night, our good friends Brittney and Cody came for dinner and a visit. We don't see them nearly as much as we'd like since they moved to the 'burbs a couple of years ago, but we always manage to have a really fun time when we do get together. And was one of the the last times we will see them before they have their first child! Beau is due to arrive in September. We have been wanting to try Shade ever since we moved into the neighborhood, but for one reason or another we have never visited. We decided last night was an occasion that called for a little celebrating, so we headed over. The interior of Shade is very different from most Houston restaurants. It's almost sparingly decorated in Restoration-Hardware-like shades of green, gray, and ivory. It has a great wine list and an interesting menu. The wine list had something to please everyone, and all the wines are quite affordable. The food is a fancy twist on things your mom would make. For an appetizer we all had fried shrimp & cheese grits topped with Frank's Red Hot Sauce. Chas, Brittney and Cody all had the fried chicken breast with Gruyere Macaroni & Cheese, Sautéed Aspiration, Black Eye Pea Salad and a Whole Grain Mustard Sauce while David had the Grilled Double Pork Chop with Thyme Gruyere Bread Pudding, Sautéed Swiss Chard, Tomato Cucumber Relish and Smoked Onion Sauce...needless to say, we forgot to save room for dessert! The food was great, and well-priced for the quality. Our waiter did not provide the service that is expected, but then again, we arrived 30 minutes before closing. All in all, Shade is a good place to take friends for a quiet but lively dinner, and we're glad we got to spend the evening with such good friends. Next time we will just be sure to arrive a tad earlier and hopefully the service will improve.

Monday (Labor Day) was nice. Fortunately, Houston was not hit with the wrath of Hurricane Gustav. We had nice weather, cooler than usual, and only a few minutes of rain late in the evening. We went to Onion Creek for frozen mimosas after lunch, since they were having Happy Hour specials all day. Afterwards, we shopped for a new ceiling fan for our bedroom. I know that the design and style gurus on HGTV say that ceiling fans are out, but apparently they've never lived in Houston! It's uncomfortable and nearly impossible to sleep in the summer without a ceiling fan in the room. We will post a photo as soon as we install the new fan, perhaps next weekend.

Now it's Monday evening and we are winding down from the weekend and gearing up for work tomorrow. Although it will be a short week, the short weeks after a super long weekend (Chas was off 4 days) are always the most difficult to get back to!