The husband and I don’t have any huge plans for tonight, just dinner reservations at Peché and then we’re heading over to a friend’s house to ring in the new year. Even though it will be low key, the only reason I need to wear sequins is the fact that it’s New Years Eve! Usually, I choose a dress to wear on NYE, but this year I wanted to change it up a bit. These Milly sequin pants were the perfect option for me (I also like this skirt and this jumpsuit by Milly). I just paired it with a simple button up blouse and added a pussybow for a little interest. Whatever you’re doing tonight, have fun and be safe!
There are so many recipe variations out there when it comes to punch. Really, there’s no strict rules – which is part of why punch is so great (besides the fact that it’s delicious, of course). 😉 Today’s Pop Liz Clink recipe, Sparkling Orange Raspberry Punch, is one of those super simple crowd pleasers that takes less than five minutes to make, but will keep folks coming back for more!
This sparkling punch recipe is great for a New Year’s Eve punch, but it’s also a great recipe for wedding showers, baby showers (switch to a lime sorbet for a baby boy), and bachelorette parties. Really, anytime you need a simple drink that will serve lots of people, punch is your best bet.
All you need is orange juice, ginger ale, raspberry sorbet, two bottles of sparkling wine or champagne, and orange slices for garnish.
Even though our getaway to West Texas only lasted four days, it was so action-packed I had to split it up into two separate posts. So, if you’d like to read about the first part of our trip – our time in Marfa – you can check it out here.
After our time in Marfa, we made the hour drive over to Marathon, Texas. Really, there’s not much to this small town except for the historic Gage Hotel, which was beautiful and such a gem in the middle of the desert.
Walking into the lobby, you’d never guess you were entering a hotel in a small West Texas town. Both the lobby and our guest room were beautifully decorated, striking the perfect balance of Texas charm and modern appeal. The hotel’s White Buffalo Bar, which gets its name from the massive white buffalo head adorning one wall inside, was the perfect spot to relax after a long day of exploring the area – we ended both our nights sipping cocktails in front of the fireplace on the bar’s patio (it really was perfect, y’all).
Above is a shot of the inside of the lobby.
For breakfast in Marathon, I recommend Marathon Coffee. There’s nothing fancy to it, but that’s why it’s so great. Just simple, southern breakfast staples done well. I could see how it could get a little slow if there was a crowd, but fortunately for us, there wasn’t too much of one while we were there.
Just casually sippin’ my coffee before we hit the road again….
I ordered the biscuits and gravy, which seemed to me to be the obvious choice in an establishment like this one. After all, I needed to fuel up for our big day ahead at Big Bend National Park!
The park is huge, and we didn’t have enough time in our trip to see it all, so we made the best of the time we had available and just drove through as much of the park as possible. It was the first time that either my husband or I had visited a national park, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect and were a little apprehensive as to how it all worked. But, turns out we had no reason to fear. The park ranger we met when paying our entry fee was really friendly and helpful with recommendations and gave us a super-easy-to-follow-along map (necessary here since cell phone service is spotty).
As you can see from the pictures above, the park is absolutely gorgeous. I had no idea Texas had this type of terrain – I’ve seen the plains, the bayou, the coast, the piney woods, and the hill country – but never desert and mountains like you see here.
The neatest area of the park that we saw, in our opinion, was the Santa Elena Canyon. The awesome canyon formation was carved out by the Rio Grande River, which runs right through it. It was really something to see, so try to check it out if you’re there.
After driving through Big Bend National Park, we headed over to Fort Davis, a true Texas mountain town and home of the University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory, for a Star Party. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but had heard great things from a few friends who had done one. It definitely lived up to the hype.
Make sure you reserve tickets – it was surprisingly crowded considering the sparsely populated land we had to traverse to get there. Also, bring coats and a blanket – even in the summer. It’s cold up there.
But getting back to the Star Party…. Basically, Fort Davis is in the right location – far enough away from big towns for city lights to dampen star visibility and at an ideal high elevation in the mountains – making it an awesome location for star gazing. Hence, why UT built the observatory.
As you can see in the picture above, at the Star Party an instructor/scientist/genius points out constellations with a high-powered laser. I’m telling you, you’ve never seen so many stars (both shooting and stationary) as you will here. After the laser presentation is done, you have an opportunity to view really neat space stuff (highly technical term, I know) through super fancy telescopes.
One thing I’ll say – don’t do Big Bend National Park and a Star Party in the same day. It was way too much driving for one 18 hour period, and we were so exhausted by the end of it. We only did it so we could fit everything in, but in an ideal world we would have had more time.
After all that driving and star-gazing, we were pretty hungry. So, after we made our way back to the Gage Hotel, we ate a late dinner at the 12 Gage Restaurant. Do yourself a favor and order the elk. Amazing.
The next morning, we woke up and headed back home to Austin. But, along the way, we stopped at the Caverns of Sonora – a really beautiful underground cave formation – to break up the drive a bit.
Above is one picture I took from inside the formation during our tour, which lasted about an hour and a half. Below is a shot of a natural pool inside the cave.
Cave selfie…. necessary.
All in all, I’d say it’s worth a stop at the Caverns of Sonora if you’ve got the time. It was definitely a unique experience that makes you really appreciate nature and God’s obvious hand in it.
Last but not least, we happened to hit Fredericksburg just in time for happy hour (happy dance), so we stopped there for dinner and a German beer. It’s such a cute little town with an awesome main street area full of shopping and all things German – heritage, beer, and food. After dinner there, we decided it’s next on our list for another little Texas getaway.
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you’re spending this day surrounded by family and friends, eating a wonderful meal, opening that gift you’ve been wanting, and that you’re truly celebrating the real reason for the season.
“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6
Every year my husband and I co-host a Christmas party with some friends of ours who work in our same industry, and each year more and more of our friends and family join us. The past several years, we’ve had it at the historic Caswell House, located just north of downtown in Austin, which is fully decorated for Christmas. There’s an open bar (duh), we bring in food from Whole Foods, hire a piano player, and use it as an opportunity to dress up.
If I’m being honest, the main reason we decided to host an annual party is so I could have another excuse to dress up. Austin is a pretty casual town, so opportunities to really get dolled up are few and far between. And, hunting down the perfect dress for the party has definitely become a tradition of its own. In the past, I’ve chosen more traditional cocktail dresses with either sequins or lace, but this year I wanted to do something a little different.
I knew I had found the right dress when I ran across this two-piece number by Black Halo at Bloomingdale’s. It was just the right shade of red, plus it’s a more modern and trendy style than I usually lean towards. I also finally bought some Stuart Weitzman ‘Nudist’ pumps to wear with it (I didn’t want any shoes that took away from the dress), and I seriously don’t know what took me so long to pull the trigger on these. They’re pricey, but if you want a pair of simple pumps you can wear with anything – I highly recommend these.