Tuesday, February 26, 2019

add it to my list, first of 2019

Bre wanted to write an add it to my list post on the same day but not do a link-up because one of our many traits in common is apathy to additional work, so here we are. Bre is also the enabler-in-chief so if she suggests I do something or buy something, I probably will. I consider it my implicit trust in her judgement (except for adult cartoons. I have to draw the line somewhere).

Anyway, to refresh your memory, Add It To My List came from the fact that I love telling people what to buy or consume in real life, so with this post, I can take that love onto the internet. So, here are some things I have enjoyed lately, broken down by things that cost nothing (and won't add to physical clutter for all of you who have Kondo'd recently), things that are really cheap (~$5), and things that cost a little more.

Things That Are Free:
Cold (podcast) - I guess I am fortunate to have not lived a hard life and to be able to listen to podcasts about difficult subjects. This one is about Susan Powell, a woman whose husband was suspected of her murder after she disappeared. There are so many weird, messed up details and many of the major people in the story kept diaries, plus there are police tape, so it is really well put-together listening. I'm not fully caught up and a few things drag, but I would recommend it if you like podcasts that focus on one case.

Believed (podcast) - This one is also hard to listen to, but I got sucked in while in my car solo on a four hour drive, so the eps just kept playing. It's about Larry Nassar. Nothing is sugar-coated, but it isn't exploited, either. There is enough info for you to CLEARLY understand that he was a criminal, but his acts aren't the focus; his survivors are.

So You Want to Talk About Race - putting this on the free list since I am all about libraries, but this one is worth your money. If you consider yourself a white ally but still have a hard time in conversations about affirmative action, or why there is no white history month, or other some such nonsense that you KNOW is ridiculous but you can't articulate why when approached with such ignorance, you need to read this book. Even if you know those things, or if you are a person of color, you would probably get something from it. I loved it. If nothing else, follow the author on twitter.

Things That Are Cheap
Homemade Medicine Balls! - Thanks to Leslie, I learned that you can make a Starbucks medicine ball at home. I was sick during the Christmas season and spent a small fortune on these at Starbucks. No idea if they actually work, but they taste good and make a nice work-time treat. For the uninitiated, it's a combo of boiling water and lemonade with peach tranquility tea and jade citrus mint tea, plus a touch of honey. Fifteen tea bags are around $5 and you can get them at Target, so the start-up cost to make these is higher than $5 but they save money in the longrun.

Face mask spatula - Bre told me this existed and I went to buy it that day. If you have facemasks that are in large tubes for multiple uses, these are amazing! It helps you apply the mask evenly, keeps your hands cleaner, and honestly just feels fancier. I got mine at Walmart for like, $2 but this Target one came up first on google.

Things That Are Less Cheap
Buying used - I bought a dresser from Joss & Main or Wayfair or something like that last year. I hated assembling it, and only two of the six drawers work correctly. I got some barstools that needed assembly from Target for Christmas. One of them is a bit wobbly. I realized I don't have this problem when I buy pre-loved furniture from my beloved antique malls. I got a lovely 1940s kitchen cabinet this weekend, no assembly required, plus I love that it was previously-loved and better for the Earth.

Stickers - So in #bujo/planner world, there is this company called The Happy Planner and they put out sticker books that are like, $20 each before coupons. Every few months, there is a new release and "planner girls" (yes, this is a thing) swarm Michael's/Hobby Lobby/JoAnn to get the latest stuff because sometimes, the best books disappear, never to be found again. Instagram FOMO is real. So this release happened and the Instagram flip-throughs were everywhere and there were two stickers books I needed. Picture me, at Hobby Lobby at 10 a.m., digging through boxes of not-yet-out merchandise to find my two books, and then asking my planner friends on facebook if anyone needs anything. While I was waiting for my answer, two more ladies came down the aisle and stopped at the empty pegs where the stickers should have been and seemed disappointed. I pointed them to the boxes to dig through and their morning was made. I never expected to bond with strangers over stickers as a grown woman, but here we are. The point here is if something dumb makes you happy, just get it... (and if you want to see how I use them, @brunchandbujo on instagram).

Carry-on Luggage with spinner wheels - I travel solo pretty frequently and can't expense a checked bag unless it's a long trip (nor do I want to anymore). I have a leather tote I use for my laptop and purse essentials, and then I make my way through the airport with my carry-on. I used to have a cheap one that I thought was fine - my bag could get pulled behind me, no big deal. But, I upgraded once I started traveling for work and being able to keep my bag upright in front of me with my laptop bag on top seems to weirdly simplify everything. I move down the plane aisle better, I can navigate through crowded airports faster, and it just feels easier. I got Andrew and I each a Samsonite at Ross for around $60, which is baggage fees for one round-trip flight, so definitely worth the money if you can pack light!

Houston restaurants that should be on your list: Morningstar (pancake balls!), Indianola (get the ham appetizer, and I don't even like ham), and Theodore Rex (it makes me happy every single trip).

That's my list lately - or at least, things I haven't already shared on instagram.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

languages I don't speak

Not real languages. If you take this literally, than everything but English would be on this list. Spanish would get an asterisk. I can at least kind of understand and read that.

I'm talking more about pop culture languages. Things that other people slip into conversation and make reference to and others just get it while you smile and nod. Rent Live was all over my twitter feed the other night, and in the nicest way possible, I just didn't care. I mean I'm sure it's great and I know it was groundbreaking but I don't speak Broadway. I saw Wicked in NYC and Avenue Q when it came here and that's it. I didn't grow up with showtunes, wasn't a theatre kid, and it's just a whole world that exists that I don't understand.

Some other "languages" I don't speak:

Game of Thrones (all the white guys look the same, and the incest. I couldn't get into it)

Superheroes (Marvel? The other one? Crossovers? I know Batman, Superman, and Spiderman. And that I should see Black Panther. That's it.)

Current Pop Music (I'm not in the car long enough to hear it and I guess it doesn't matter enough for me to find it on YouTube? I know Cardi B says "Okurrrt" but that's about it.)

Candy Crush (Lives? Levels? I have never played it!)

Piano (Okay, not really a language but a lot of kids played growing up and know the basics. I can tap out Mary Had A Little Lamb for ya...)

Lord of the Rings (??? There is that weird thing with the rings and Gandalf?)

Star Wars/Trek (Never saw any of them. I get the ships mixed up. I know Trek is pointy ears and Scotty and the main characters of Wars but please do not reference the plots as I will be lost.)

What are some things you know nothing about, or "languages" you don't speak. I have a friend who doesn't speak Harry Potter which I at least learned long ago and can usually reference quite well.

OH and Bre and I are going to do Add It To My List, just as a post, not as a link-up, the last Tuesday in February so put that in your bujo and prepare!

Monday, January 14, 2019

consider this a long, verbose instagram story

Sign me up alongside the loooong list of bloggers who have abandoned daily trips into the lives of others for one reason or another. Blame time, blame instagram stories, blame laziness. All are accurate.

I started bullet journaling in summer of 2017 and have done it off-and-on but mostly on ever since. I have a separate instagram account for it (@brunchandbujo) because grown women posting about pens and stickers is fun for me, as is having an excuse to get together with girlfriends over brunch to ooh and aah over each other's pens and stickers and also meet people I wouldn't know otherwise. If you need something that makes you feel marginally crafty and can document whatever you need to document, I recommend it.

But that was my really long way to say that bullet journaling a) documents how I spend my time and b) provides me with social time I was looking for in blog life. So, there's that.

I can't believe that I've been at my current job and have worked from home for two years in a few weeks. No traffic, no real clothes, no coworkers (what is with me and this sentence formatting? I guess in not blogging, I have also forgotten how to write). But it's been two years of growing professionally and personally and improving my confidence in ways I didn't know I needed. Not all days are good but a lot of them are and I am truly grateful for my professional life more often than not.

Through work, I'm doing an Identity Development... thing. Like, working at a progressive non-profit, race, class, and privilege are something that are common in conversation. I check in-person programming for representation and took "ladies and gentlemen" out of a program today for non-binary inclusion. So, in that work, I am reading a book on race in the classroom (Courageous Conversations About Race, if you're interested, which I have thoughts on) and having near weekly conversations about it with my small group. And from that, I want to hear more voices not like my own. I'm trying to listen to podcasts by or about people not like me, and read books by people who don't look like me. Even fiction with Asian American characters counts. But anyway, it was an opportunity that was presented to me and I wanted to say no because it's extra work but I said yes and I am glad I did.

Um, so what else? I do miss talking books which I decided to highlight on Instagram stories because a simple sentence and screenshot is easier than coherent thoughts, which is honestly the opposite of the point of reading. TV is still my first love but finding shows to watch alongside my husband is a chore. I am watching season three of True Detective with him now, which is interesting, and our old standby Top Chef. We're watching Succession on HBO but I don't love it. I like Kieran Culkin's character enough to keep coming back, though. Halt and Catch Fire and The Americans were my favorite TV moments of 2018, I think, so those are my current recs. Maybe I should do an entertainment post once a month like Bre does because it is fun.

I also miss adding thing to my list. 2018 was the year of skincare for me. Like, moisturizing more days than not and finding value in undereye cream. I am also on the jade roller bandwagon simple because it feels good and it was $15 and that is all I need to know. A friend gifted me Birchbox for my birthday and it's a great $10 per month if you have it to spare on a little surprise for yourself. I store my samples in a caboodle (they're back, y'all) and make sure I use something from it at least once a week, whether it's MAC mascara when I am going out or a facemask at night. And I track that in my bullet journal as self-care. It's all cyclical, y'all.

Hmmm, what else? Drinks. Those feel important. I finally acquired a taste for La Croix after many years of trying. Andrew and I have been drinking hot tea at night instead of dessert as the caffeine doesn't impact either of us and I like that, too, after a lifetime of being a tea hater unless I was sick. And I got a Nespresso for Christmas and it's life-changing and delicious, albeit totally unnecessary. But, it saves me from cleaning the coffee maker and "having" to go to Starbucks. So needless to say, I am starting 2019 super hydrated, if nothing else.

In 2018, I tried to focus on being intentional and I want to carry that into 2019. I'm not doing the best with friendships and relationships, so that is a place to start. Reaching out and making plans, asking questions, and being there. Blogging at least quarterly to justify a part of paying to keep my custom URL and use the hashtag houstonblogger on instagram should be on that list, too. Cheers to my best intentions.

Monday, September 10, 2018

check in

The whole summer has happened and I have not posted a thing, but I have used my trusty bullet journal to document some memories and I make a conscious effort to check in with IRL friends (even if they are friends I have never met IRL but have a real life text/gchat relationship with) daily, so the needs I created my blog for - friendship and remembering my life - are still being met. And I think that's important.

I like to do my day-to-day life updating via Instagram story and I feel like most people I interacted with regularly here are there, too. If you want to know what I have added to my list lately, chances are, it's there. I like the challenge of brevity, the imperfection, being able to make faces, and how it's so much easier to respond. As someone who normally hates every photo of myself, only wants to take photos when my hair is a certain way, and has historically only seen the negative in her own image, it's also a great mental exercise for me to just put something out there. Chances are, in the ten seconds I'm sharing, you are listening to me (probably only halfway) and can't tell if I'm wearing mascara or if I have a pimple or whatever.

The world is a dumpster fire and I have created my own online echo chamber, and in a way, a web of IRL friends who are all like-minded. It's safe to talk about politics at work because even though it isn't a political org, it is an inclusive one and the current administration isn't. Like if I am going to go see friends on the more conservative side of the spectrum, I have to remind myself not to talk about all things political or at least to do so kindly. I explained white privilege to someone the other day and maybe made her understand, at least a little.

We got a new (to us) car a few months ago and I realized it came with a Sirius trial. I played with it this weekend (Andrew was driving, don't worry) and fell in love with the Yacht Rock station. This Spotify playlist has been getting me through this dreary, icky Monday. I'm tempted to make some tea and burn a fall-ish candle because the lack of sun has the temps at a humid, mosquito-y 77 degrees which means I'm not forced to move downstairs to work in the afternoon. We have central AC, but the upstairs gets warm and I don't have a ceiling fan.

I miss book talk and new books recs so maybe I will be back tomorrow to join Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books. I have yet to find anything I absolutely adored lately, so even when I don't play along, I do creep for recs.

Monday, May 14, 2018


At this moment, I miss blogging and as it is the end of my workday, I'm gonna seize the opportunity.

I think with all of the different forms of social media, it's really easy to know where people are and what they are doing. I doubt there is a single person reading this who doesn't "know" me elsewhere. But, as I have been lazy about even bullet journaling, some reflection via typing just felt right.

So this weekend I was in a wedding and you have likely heard about the dress fiasco. What no one complains about loudly enough when it comes to weddings is how expensive and almost ridiculous it is but then how seeing your friend that happy and glowing makes it worth it. Almost. It was damn expensive. Glad I could put my event planning skills to good use and diffuse crises while wearing a long dress. Being in a wedding also highlighted how little make-up I wear on a daily basis. How does one teach herself to use an eyelash curler at the age of 33?

We went on a vacation. I think being in your 30s is the height of needing a vacation from your vacation. But really, getting life in line and figuring out how to be a solid adult is hard. I went to the grocery store at 6:30 a.m. so I could feel somewhat together this week.

My cat woke me up on Mother's Day by puking twice. True love, am I right?

Still reading a lot, still scrolling too much. Read The Wedding Date in one sitting (on a plane, but still) and it was easy and delightful. Highly recommend if you need something for the beach or pool.

We are going to the ATX Festival for the fourth year in a row and TIM RIGGINS will be there and I am psyched. And also an Americans reunion/reflection on the series. That show is worthy of a rewatch.

I want to be better at sharing. I see so many things shared, or going viral, and I am like ME TOOOO, why didn't I think to say that?! How do you train your brain to realize where you are unique, and where you bring value? I have the same issue at work - it's hard for me to realize where I am an expert. I feel like so many things I know are common knowledge, but they aren't.

I need to make an agreement with one of my friends that I will be their Jonathan Van Ness and they should be mine. I love how every pronoun is "her" and he doesn't allow negativity and I want to be that bright light but I think my DNA is just too sullen. It's always funnier to point out the ridiculousness of something, but it's much more satisfying to pick out the good stuff.

(Responding to comments is my kryptonite...)