Thursday, April 17, 2014

throwback thursday: trying out for who wants to be a millionaire

Today's post is just a story whose details are already getting fuzzy but that I want to be able to remember well into the future. I'll just think of it as a Throwback Thursday...

It was Summer 2009, and Andrew and I knew we would be getting married the following summer. When we first started dating and I was in school and he worked nights, the afternoons were our time together. We loved Jeopardy and Who Wants to be a Millionaire and knew that our knowledge bases complimented one another well (basically he has an amazing memory and I know a lot about pop culture and a little about current events). Who Wants to be a Millionaire auditions were going to be held in Houston with a special audition for engaged couples to play to go on the show together to earn money for their wedding. I heard about them, but didn't say anything. I mean, I had to work, he had school, and what were the odds that anything would come of it? I casually mentioned it to him in a "hey, that would be cool" kind of way and then I told my boss the day before auditions. Her response? "You HAVE to go try, you won't forgive yourself if you don't!" So I went home that night, we gathered the necessary paperwork (I think we needed a copy of a contract or something for a wedding venue or officiant), and we decided to cram.

Now, you have watched Who Wants to be a Millionaire - how does one cram for that? We didn't know, either. I think we reviewed Presidents and major wars, lots of wikipedia-ing pop culture events, and some detail on huge historical moments like Watergate. I remember in one stroke of genius, I wanted to look up the names of the US Supreme Court Justices, so we did.

In line to take the test around 6 a.m.

We got up early and had to stop at Kinko's to make copies, then went across town to the audition site. We were assigned numbers, got in line and were herded into a room full of chairs. As we sat, Andrew was at the end of one row and I was at the start of another. We didn't get to sit next to each other, which meant I couldn't have cheated off of his paper if I had wanted to (not that I ever would have done that... okay maybe I would have...). So they passed out multiple choice tests and gave us a time limit. When it was time to start, I was confident in about half of my answers. They asked who the Supreme Court Justice of the United States was and I was so happy to know it was John Roberts! I also remember a question about Bugaboos (thanks, blog reading) and a few other things we discussed. Time was called and then we sat and waited for a few minutes. Andrew and I tried to communicate how we thought we did and both felt pretty good. They started calling the results by number and got to his first. He was through! I was so happy, but we both had to pass the test to get on the engaged couples show.  Then they called me. We had to come back in a few hours for more auditions.


We went back and had to wait in another line. We met with someone from the show who had our scores and seemed to like us. I don't remember what was said, but I know that instead of leaving like everyone else we had seen, we were shown to an area with a camera and told to give an interview. Now this we had not rehearsed. And neither of us like being on camera. I just remember rambling and talking over Andrew. Oops. But we hoped for the best and they sent us on our way. A postcard would arrive if we weren't invited to New York in the next few weeks.

  I think we have gotten better at selfies since then. I think it's funny that even in 2009 I was insisting on ridiculous pics to document unique activities!

Unfortunately, the story doesn't have the ending we hoped for. The "you failed" postcard actually came on Andrew's birthday that year. We theorized that our scores were so good, they were too worried we would actually win so they just couldn't have us on. We kept our eyes out that whole season for Wedding Week, to see who was better than we were, and we never found it. I like to tell myself that they scrapped the whole thing anyway, so it wouldn't have mattered.

It was a fun experience! I would love to try out for Wheel of Fortune or something one day, and I think it would be even more fun on a couples week or something so I could blame Andrew for anything we got wrong experience it with Andrew.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


I've been on such a blogging roll this week and it feels so good that even though I didn't have a post planned, I thought some confessions might be in order. Linking up with Kathy, as one does.

- The amount of sleep I have thought I needed this week is ridiculous. I took an hour and a half nap after work Monday and fell asleep on the couch before The Mindy Project was even over last night. Let's say I'm making up for lost time and hope I get back to normal next week.

Bauer got the memo and stayed wrapped in a blanket all evening. I confess that I was lazy and didn't edit this photo at all for size or color.

- I cancelled my gym membership yesterday. I know in the land of sweaty selfies, this is crazy talk but I was just wasting money. I hated everything about going so I never went and never felt good after I did. I need to find something that works for me and sorry 24 Hour Fitness, but you aren't it.

- The amount of money I spend on fancy coffee is a little insane but I don't think I'm that sorry about it. Many twenty-somethings go to bars and drink shots of Fireball; I get a $4 latte at least once a week. No big deal, right?

- I'm going to Austin this weekend and I have nothing hipster-y to wear. My husband doesn't understand that this is a real problem and if we are going to a hipster bar on East 6th, I need to look the part and not like I just dropped in from Dallas or something (this only makes sense if you live in Texas, I'm sure).

- I get irrationally irritated over stupid things like coworkers using valuable mini-fridge space for tortilla chips. They're chips! They can be at room temperature - my salad can't! But since I'm at work, I can't say anything. So I tell you all instead...

- I love to rant and commiserate with others about things that bother us. Some call it gossip, and it probably is, but I often need someone to confirm to me that I am not, in fact, totally crazy. As long as we rant and commiserate in confidence, does it count as gossip?

- I had a weightier post in my head for today's confess sesh but it just didn't get written (see point one). But I love participating and all the new people I meet on Wednesdays so you just get what's in my head, confession style.

Tomorrow I have a Throwback Thursday post already written about the time I tried out for Who Wants to be a Millionaire so if you just found me today, make sure you come back tomorrow for dorky selfies from 2009!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

things to know about Texas

I've lived in Houston for my whole life. Most of my extended family is here, so I don't get a chance to see how other people live very often. I think that's part of why I like blogging; I love to see what things are like in other places. So, assuming that you do, too, I just wanted to share a few Texas experiences with you that are just part of life to me.

- Bluebonnets. I'm sure if you follow any Texan via social media, you'll see that we are deep in bluebonnet season. Bluebonnets are Texas' state flower and as kids, we were all told that it was illegal to pick them. While that isn't true, most people think it is and that means that the fields of bluebonnets on the side of Texas roads stay in tact as long as possible. It isn't uncommon to see families pulled over and taking pictures in fields along highways. It's just our thing.

Last year's bluebonnet pic - hopefully we can take another this weekend.

- Tex-Mex versus Mexican food. Hate to break it to you, rest of the world, but the food you call Mexican is actually Tex-Mex. Think queso, nachos, quesadillas, and things featuring flour tortillas and sour cream. Mexican food is richer, uses less cheese, and seems to focus more on the way meat is cooked and featured in the dish. So if I am learning about a new restaurant here that's described as Mexican, I have to follow up with "Traditional or Tex-Mex?" For the record, I typically prefer Tex-Mex.

- Kolaches. It makes me sad that the rest of America doesn't have these as a breakfast staple. Basically, there was a large Czech population that settled in Texas and they brought kolaches with them. Traditional kolaches are a sweet bun with a dollop of fruit mixture on top. However, for some reason, Houstonians also call meat-filled buns (think a pig in a blanket on steroids) kolaches, too. Pretty much any donut shop in town also sells the meat kolaches. They're staples here.

Left - the fruit kolaches. Right - the kind with meat inside. These are smaller than the ones available at most donut shops.

- The feeder road is the frontage road. I just learned a few years ago that the thing I have always known as a feeder road is a frontage road in the rest of the world. Apparently Houstonians are pretty much the only ones who call them feeders. Why, and why is it so widespread? So weird.

- Houston has no zoning. I don't even know how to properly explain this because I've only ever lived here, but the fact that Houston has no zoning laws baffles anyone who comes here. You might have a strip club down the street from a grocery store with an office building behind it. While I just see that as first come, first served when it came to buying property, others find that odd. Apparently pawn shops are seen as shady in other parts of the country, but here they are everywhere. There's one in the same shopping center as my dry cleaner. It might as well be a Walgreens as far as I'm concerned - I'm indifferent to it.

- "Don't Mess with Texas." For as long as I can remember, this has been a slogan to deter littering on Texas highways. Other people interpret it as being something slightly menacing - like ohhhh, Texas is too big to be messed with. Nope, it just means don't litter.

image from here.

- Whataburger. It's a fast food burger chain. My mom didn't really like it so I didn't eat it much growing up and don't particularly care for it now, but I'm in the minority; people love it. It's open 24 hours so it's notorious drunk food. People go crazy for their ketchup and it's now sold at HEB (Texas' best grocery store). It's considered blasphemy to say I couldn't care less about it, though, because there are people who crave it and have to eat it as soon as they cross state lines.

So those are just a few things that seem commonplace to me but might strike you as crazy. So tell me - what should I know about where you live?

Monday, April 14, 2014

so tired, so full

We've been waiting for "one day" for awhile now. One day when we have friends, when we can invite people over, when we will make dinner for them and serve drinks, have a use for the servingware and salad tongs that have been taking up space in the kitchen for no real reason for far too long. One day.

Well, Saturday was finally one day. As simple as it seems, and it should be, there was finally a day where the stars aligned and I had friends, opportunity, and a home in which to host a seemingly simple barbecue for relatively newfound friends and their significant others. We talked and laughed, ate and ate some more, and got to know one another better. Seeing how your friends and their mates fit together in a perfect compliment, and how they were all as they have been described came as no surprise but was a treat nonetheless.

These friends didn't see the chipped paint or the bare flower beds that I wished I could change with the wave of a wand in the hours leading up to their arrival. They were gracious guests full of kind words about our food, our home, and our invitation to spend time together. The wives even chased their husbands with coasters and explanations about new furniture and being careful when eating near the couch. It didn't matter that we brought lawn chairs inside and plates were eaten resting on laps; it was a house full, and having more bodies than actual dining chairs didn't seem to bother anyone. 

It's so ridiculous and I've said it so many times, but I am so grateful for these friendships and these people who are a part of my life. Who I can have standing text dates with, last-minute lunches and girls' nights, plan weekends away with, and email with links to things I want to buy but need another opinion on. I have an amazing friend and partner in my husband, sure, but I need girlfriends, and we need couple friends, to make life feel more complete. To share the mundane and the fun with, to pass along leftover barbecue to, and to lean on for support for an unknown "one day," when we will surely need it. To believe that on days or weeks or time beyond when I choose to stop making my presence here a regular occurrence, that they will still be there to live life with.

A friend and I recently joked that if something wasn't on Instagram, then it didn't happen, or else it wasn't any fun. Well, there was zero documentation of this small gathering; purses were left on a bench by the door and phones barely checked all night. No hashtags or check-ins or filters needed - instead there was eye contact and stories not suitable for social media and hopefully memories made. I looked around the room at one point to see some of my favorites all together and I just felt full - beyond the brisket Andrew started cooking in the middle of the night - just happy about the fact that these people were in my life. I wish I could have invited everyone, near and far, who has become a friend in the past year, but there isn't enough room in my house (or on Andrew's smoker) to host a barbecue to celebrate all of the relationships I've been lucky enough to form.

So thanks, internet, for existing so that I could make the real life connections I so desperately needed. Thanks, friends, for being willing to go beyond the pixels and type into real life friendship. I'm grateful that one day arrived and look forward to many more memory-filled days to come.

Friday, April 11, 2014

life lately, five on friday style

Oh hi, unintentional blog hiatus. Here's what I've been doing since I've been gone (you may all sing Kelly Clarkson to yourselves all day long; thank me later).

1) I F-I-N-A-L-L-Y got to meet Heidi from It's a Westbrook Life on Friday! I found her blog last summer-ish and we immediately hit it off since we went to rival high schools and have the same TV news loyalty, and we both like cats and food. I mean really, what else does a friendship need? She is moving back to Houston after two years in North Carolina and I am thrilled that we got to start our real-life friendship sooner (I mean, if she'll have me...). We had drinks and lunch and more drinks and talked about life and husbands, a tiny bit about blogging, and guys she brought me a present! Is she not the sweetest EVER?? So come onnnnn, June, so we can have regular lunch/wine/coffee dates!

We had to document with a few pics, obviously. And my present - so thoughtful! A magnet that says "Yay! Cupcakes!," some Carolina BBQ sauce, some Cadbury Eggs (some may have not made it into the pic, oops) and a notepad with a grey striped cat like mine that says "Get this done right meow.... I'm not kitten." Cats and puns!

2) Houston had a BBQ Festival. There were 20 booths. I tried 17 in some way (some looked unappealing so I threw them away after a tiny bite, sorry cows) and I was sick the next day. Too much meat? Coincidence? It was fun, but I don't think I need to experience it again. But, we posed for a pic for Houston's newspaper and made it into the slideshow so at least there's proof that I went once.

I had a raincoat, Andrew had a free poncho.

3) Customer service is a dying thing, but Bed Bath & Beyond's is mostly awesome (sidebar: that was my first-ever job. Hated it then). I bought an iron from them in late January and it stopped working last weekend. By some weird miracle I had my receipt so I took it back and exchanged it for a bigger, better iron that only cost me $10 more. I bought some things there online, brought in a stack of coupons, and ended up with $20 back on my card for that stuff. Plus I used ebates on the initial purchase. Saving money is awesome and if you're one of those "But I never think of that" people, this is a reminder to use coupons, ebates, whatever.

4) They're saying that new twitter looks like Facebook, but don't we all love twitter because it isn't Facebook? I haven't looked into the changes much but I'm skeptical.

5) Real life is keeping me busy so blog life suffers. I know you've heard it all before. But I was recently challenged with providing a link to one of my best posts lately... and I drew a blank. I'm not saying enough here and I'm not doing all that much worth documenting (unless watching four consecutive episodes of Property Brothers counts) because work is busy and I want to relax or exciting things like pulling weeds and cleaning the inside of the fridge are just tiring and I want to just sit and not think for a while. I want to keep using my blog to say something - so I'm going to work on that. On having opinions and thinking of things to share. I have missed all of my regular interactions this week since I have barely commented (but I've read a bunch!).

Five on Friday should just be called "Friday Crap" because don't we all struggle to come up with five things when the time comes? I have a busy weekend planned that I think will be great. Hope yours is, too!

Linking up for Five on Friday.