Friday, December 20, 2013

last five on friday of 2013!

Knowing that I have two glorious weeks off has made this week crawl by, even though it was filled with work parties - seriously, I haven't bought my own lunch once! I think it's totally appropriate to wrap up my week, and even a little bit of the year, with five things today.

I love when the sky goes from blue to orange and I didn't take many pics this week so this is what you get.

1) I had a serious case of the blues this week - anyone else? My work life is always busy in December with the opportunity to work late and make extra money and planning graduation and the staff holiday party. Family life was in full swing with my nieces visiting for Christmas extra early and Andrew's dad coming to town. That, on top of gift-buying just had me in a terrible mood for about four days (and also caused blog silence - if you noticed, it wasn't you, it was me). I am an awful gift-buyer because I hate to get you only what you asked for and I hate to get things that I think are boring. Christmas shopping stresses me out every year. Luckily, the blues are gone, the shopping is mostly under control, and I think I can finally start to enjoy the Christmas season... well, what little is left of it! (This also happens every year and has me super sad when it's time to take down the decorations...)

2) Speaking of holiday parties, they have all been great. I may at times get frustrated with things at work but the holiday season brings out so many good traits in people that often get overlooked in the day-to-day. On Monday, my suite had a party with a white elephant gift exchange. The gift I brought was stolen a few times and I stole a gift from the Executive Vice President - a two gallon mason jar for serving drinks at parties. It's cute. Tuesday was the all staff party at Lucky Strike, which is a nice bowling alley/bar. We had Wii, Kinect, and pool on top of bowling and though a few people complained, most of the feedback was great! Wednesday was lunch with one of the deans who always asks us to bring items to donate to a nearby shelter instead of exchanging gifts while he takes us to a nice lunch and gives us a gift. It is so far beyond what anyone expects of him, plus we all get to leave feeling like we helped someone else.

Thursday was lunch with my boss and her other employee - the three of us are the only non-deans in our suite. We went to Haven, another restaurant on the Top 100 in Houston list. I had never been before but I loved it! I peeked at the inside and it was beautiful, but we sat outside and enjoyed Houston's current winter temps in the high 60s. I had chicken confit with bacon spaetzle (a mix between pasta and dumplings) and crispy brussel sprouts - the brussel sprouts were the best part! My boss insisted we get dessert so I had the chocolate ice box pie. While it was nothing amazing, I definitely want to go here again. My boss got coffee and I said "Oooh, I love French press" to which the waiter responded "We're in Texas. That's a freedom press." I thought it was funny and I will be calling it that from now on.

My meal. Yes the photo is wonky but my coworkers don't know about my blog and my need to get a perfect pic would have caused too many questions.

3) I am definitely looking forward to the next two weeks. This weekend, Andrew and I are making marshmallows to give as gifts to my family. On Monday we are having Christmas with my dad. We are going to wake up and have Christmas Morning together on Christmas Eve since we are flying into Baltimore to drive to Delaware to see his dad on Christmas Day. We'll be in Delaware for a few days, then drive to New Jersey to spend our days in New York City. I'm looking forward to a change of scenery, yummy meals, and real, cold weather at Christmastime!

4) Since it's Christmas (and at Christmas you tell the truth) (name the movie!) can we speak for a minute about how great starting to blog has been for me in 2013? Really, I am out of words to describe how great this community is. How I scroll back on twitter as far as my phone will let me so I can see what I missed with you guys during the day. How new comments never get old, how new readers make me so happy, and how good posts I read keep me thinking all day, or longer. Gchatting has become a new hobby, blog friends are now real friends, and it just makes me.... happy. So thanks to all of you who have stopped by, said hi, had email conversations with me, tweeted me back, whatever. Let's keep it up next year!

5) And, since I think it's kind of an unwritten thing that the blog world will be quiet til the new year, I am going to do what many of my blog friends have done and leave you with some of my favorite posts from the past to give you poor souls stuck at work next week something to read...

So, friends, let's stay in touch via twitter and instagram. What is this snapchat thing - do I need that, too? Two weeks feels like a long time to be away but I know it will fly by. I hope you have a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and the chance to relax and spend time with family. Or away from family, if that's what you need. Cheers to 2014!

                                                         THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

best bites of 2013... so far

Does it surprise anyone that my sweet husband suggested that I compile a list of my best bites of 2013 for the blog? Does it surprise you that he suggested it in August? Needless to say, I have been anticipating this post for a while and I think it's perfect for today's linkup. A little disclaimer, though: I am going to NYC before the end of the year so a few things may get removed in favor of things I try there. Actually, if nothing I have there makes the list, I will be pretty disappointed.

So here, in chronological order to the best of my memory are my best bites of 2013. Many of them are common enough dishes, but these showed me how great these dishes could be. Of course, everything is subjective and I could most definitely change my mind about any of it if you ask me tomorrow.

1) Bread plate with Anchovy Spread at Balena in Chicago: We went to Balena because its pastry chef was on Top Chef: Just Desserts and is from my suburb. The entire meal was delicious, but the standout was the anchovy spread that came with the elaborate bread plate (I believe there were five types of bread and three spreads). Neither of us typically like anchovies, but this was beyond amazing, to the point that we were eating it from the dish with a spoon to get every last bite. Salty, creamy, and rich, yum.

2) Coffee Ice Cream with Cocoa Nibs at Mindy's Hot Chocolate in Chicago: I heard about Mindy's from watching Food Network many years ago and wanted to visit if I ever got to Chicago. It's a tiny restaurant in a strip center. We were crowded at the bar and ordered ice cream when it was beyond freezing outside. But the ice cream was creamy as it should be, tasted like good chocolate, and the cocoa nibs added enough texture to take this beyond anything I have ever had before. I wish this was a franchise!

3) English Muffins with Herbed Lard at Oxheart: I got to enjoy this on my first ever trip to Oxheart, so I didn't know there was a bread course. When it was put in front of me, I wasn't interested. I hate English muffins and ew, lard is gross. But since the meal was expensive, I decided to give it a try and I think Andrew and I both locked wide eyes immediately on trying it. The lard was buttery smooth with a strong herb flavor. The muffins weren't like the ones in the bread aisle of the grocery store: the outside was almost fried and the inside was thick. The muffins were tiny- only slightly larger than a half dollar, and we had four. I could have eaten so many more.

4) The Papaya Salad at Vieng Thai: I have said so many things about Vieng Thai, but I love the papaya salad so much. It isn't something I would have ordered without a recommendation, but the combo of fruit with red pepper should be enough to interest almost anyone. Sometimes it's super spicy, but I love it the most when there is just a hint of red pepper and I can taste all of the components of the salad individually.

5) Vegetables at Underbelly: We went to Underbelly in late December or early January and ordered vegetables with fish sauce just to have something green on the table. They were fantastic. We went a few months later and ordered a roast that came with brussels sprouts. Normally Andrew and I both hate brussels sprouts, but upon trying these, we were fighting over them. They were roasted and amazing. We went to Underbelly again last week and the vegetables happened to be broccoli. We both hate broccoli but couldn't get over how good this was. I considered ordering a second bowl of it, but I had to save room for #6 on this list...

6) Caramel Popcorn Pot de Creme at Underbelly: I had this for the second time last week and it was as good as I remember. After chocolate, caramel is my favorite flavor. The creamy caramel custard is served in a small mason jar and topped with fried pieces of soft pretzel and vanilla ice cream. I love the textures of everything and the subtle popcorn taste in the custard, but honestly, the pretzel is my favorite part.

7) Cream Cheese Croutons on the Caesar Salad at Graffiato in Washington, DC: I visited Washington, DC by myself for work and was afraid of public transport, so I had to visit restaurants in walking distance of my hotel. Luckily, I was game for walking and the weather was beautiful because Mike Isabella (from Top Chef) had a restaurant fairly close by. I sat at the bar and had dinner alone for the first and only time in my life. I started with the Caesar and decided to go all out - I wasn't going to hold the anchovies, even though I wanted to. The star of the salad was the croutons. They were made from lightly fried cubes of cream cheese with the slightest crunchy outer layer. When I bit into them, they broke apart in a warm, gooey mess. I wish DC was closer.

8) Macaroni and Cheese at Pecan Lodge in Dallas: Full disclosure: my note about this was actually about the burnt ends of the brisket that were a special the day we visited Pecan Lodge, but due to a nice coworker of Andrew's, I have gotten to experience the mac and cheese more recently, so I'm including that instead. The mac and cheese is really thick but doesn't taste chalky. It has enough cheese to not taste like queso and green chiles added in for a little something extra. My favorite part has to be the bacon crumbled on top. I know that in the food world, bacon is becoming passé and too much of a good thing, but I still love it.

9) Blacksmith's Iced Coffee: Blacksmith is another favorite that I get to go to all the time. I hated iced coffee until I tried theirs this summer. It's dark and strong. I like to add two packets of raw sugar to it and a splash of milk but really, it's still good when my ratios are off. Now that it's cold outside, I have to force myself to get a hot drink. I crave coffee on a daily basis, but I crave this specific coffee as a special treat all the time.

10) Cloud 10 Creamery: Okay, this one is kind of a cheat. There are many components of things at Cloud 10 that I love, but I have never had them all in the same dish. I love the nutella with marshmallow ice cream. It actually tastes like nutella, not weak chocolate like so many nutella-flavored things taste like to me. I love the Cafe Sua Da ice cream - it's coffee ice cream but so much better. The coffee is less dull than other coffee ice cream. And of course, I love nutella powder. What's not to love? It's unique and it's tasty and it's the best banana split topping I've ever heard of.

So, those are some of my best food memories from 2013. Can't wait to see what makes 2014's list!

That's What She Read

Friday, December 13, 2013

five things for my 200th post!

Hey hey, who knew I would make it this far? This is my 200th (published) post but since there has been wine involved, I worry about becoming a sentimental mess. Why don't I just keep it simple with a Five on Friday instead?

1) This was most definitely a week of too much food. We went to a favorite, Underbelly, for dinner on Tuesday and ate 18 month dry-aged beef. It has its own twitter account and everything. It was tasty but I really didn't get it. When you smelled it, it was stinky like bleu cheese. It had the texture of an Italian meat. I would eat it again if it was placed in front of me, but I don't have to have it again. The broccoli roasted in fish sauce won the night for me, and I hate broccoli. I loved the gratin and the papaya salad too, though - maybe I just wasn't in a meat mood. The coffee was also OMG amazing and I have been dreaming of it since.

"Allen the Leg" (yes, the waitstaff called it that) | Wagyu Beef Skewers with Papaya Salad (yum) | Sweet Potato Gratin | Broccoli and Pork Leg | Broccoli roasted in house-made fish sauce. I hate broccoli but I could have had this for dessert!

2) I just started following Anna's blog and the other day she talked about cat health. You know I love Cat Bauer more than I ever thought I could love a cat, so it really got me thinking. Bauey gets steroid shots every quarter that can cause long term effects, but that seemed to be the only thing that eases his hacking caused by feline asthma. Anna's post made me do research and switch him to gluten free food. A lot of websites were Jenny-McCarthy-vaccines-are-bad crazy, but I did find some things that made me think getting rid of grain for him might help his respiratory problems, so I figure it's worth a shot. We are only on day two so it's too early to tell. But it is damn expensive! Have you ever switched your pet's food for its health? Tell me it's worth it!

3) Speaking of following blogs, how come now when I follow a blog on Bloglovin', I follow the blogger too? I mean I like you guys but I don't need to know every blogging move you make. It's too much and I unfollow you (but not your blog) right away. Is there something I'm missing or is this as annoying as I think it is?

They always have interesting mugs! | Andrew and I each got our own caramel popcorn pot de creme since he told me he wouldn't share | My FIL got a fried sweet potato pie and it was amazing.

4) Politics aside, I loved this article. Texas, feel free to put a Festivus pole in your Capitol. This voter will support it. I really feel that I would excel in the Airing of Grievances! (Hmmmm... post idea for next week - maybe Thursday? Who's with me?)

5) I have pretty awesome Microsoft Paint skills. I know you are jealous but don't worry, I would be happy to draw you something, too. I was gchatting with my friend Joey and we were talking about her gallbladder (it's basically an a-hole) so I had to draw it. I have no idea why - I had probably been in a quiet office too long and needed to entertain myself. I have no idea what gallbladders look like at all, for the record. So, now when things get scary or uncertain, I will just draw them in paint and make them less threatening.

It's the last real weekend to shop of the Holiday Season. I have so much to do. Hope you have a great weekend!

                                                         THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

wednesday confessions, number one

I am still in a food coma after five consecutive days of amazing meals, so what better thing to do than link up with Kathy for Humpday Confessions? I like to spout off opinions in a sentence or two so here goes.

If you didn't follow me on the Blog Baton last week, this Bauer/Mama selfie is new to you!

- The stupid Geico commercial made me hate the term "Hump Day." The incessant quoting of that has died down a bit, so hopefully I can tolerate it again soon.

- Twitter makes me crazy when The Voice and now The Sing Off are on. Damn you NBC for encouraging people to clog my twitter feed with who you should save or whatever.

- I am counting down the work days until I am off for nearly two weeks and really looking forward to all of the work parties happening next week.

- I love Christmas time and don't mind giving gifts but man I loathe the shopping part. And the wrapping.

- I am on the hunt for new blogs to love and read obsessively over Christmas break (hello, archives). But man that stuff takes time. I mean I don't want to add someone to my Bloglovin' and then realize they aren't for me! Being unfollowed makes me sad, y'all, and I feel so guilty when I have to unfollow someone else.

- One of my friends knows about my blog and was asking me about it and it was so weird to talk about it with a non-blogger and how some blog friends are like, actual friends and stuff. If you don't do it, you don't understand!

- I wait until I am out of an essential article of clothing (jeans, work pants, underwear) to do laundry pretty much every time. This results in five loads, minimum, and I hate myself every time.

- I have yet to even purchase Christmas cards so will anyone be all that sad if I just don't send them this year?

- I have dirty second day hair today and we have a Board of Directors meeting which should mean I look my best. Oops.

- I check the Bloglovin' Up and Coming list more often that I should admit. How do you get on there? (Also - it is a good place to find the aforementioned new blogs to follow.)

Well that feels confess-y enough. What are some things you want to get off your chest?

Dateless in Dallas

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

going beyond french fries

I consider myself to be relatively open-minded when it comes to trying new foods, but up until recently, if you suggested French food, I would probably wrinkle my nose and ask if we could go somewhere else.

Why? French food often seems pretentious. It involves a lot of eggs (which I mostly hate). There is duck, which I will only eat when I have to (blame my rubber duck collection for this one) and liver (not a fan) rounded out by yummy things like crepes and croissants. But sitting through weird mains with unpronounceable names just to get to something I could get at a bakery without going through a whole meal was not something I was interested in.

Enter La Balance. It's a French restaurant that opened in my suburb, which is a big deal! I am thirty miles west of downtown Houston so having something near me is amazing. And then the place got a great write-up by Houston's only food critic worth listening to. And then it came up on groupon. The stars aligned and plans were made. The more I looked into their menu, the more I wanted to go.

On Friday night, Andrew and I tried it out. Though it was in a strip center, the interior was cute and updated. There was a case of desserts that I made mental note of to grab as birthday surprises or hostess gifts in the future. I had a glass of wine and started with a fig and prosciutto salad; Andrew got the green pea soup. He liked the soup and I loved the salad. I am a huge fan of the salty/sweet combo and I thought it was a generous portion for a starter.

Pretty Lights | Fig and Prosciutto Salad

Going in, Andrew told me I should order boeuf bourguignon. He made it in culinary school and knew I would like it. In the (edited) words of Joey Tribbiani: Meat... Goooood. Onions... Goooood. Carrots.... Gooood. So I was about to, and then he pointed out that we were going to a steak house the next night, I don't like red meat that much, and maybe I should switch it up. So I got the salmon with asparagus and mushroom cream sauce and he got the boeuf bourguignon. Upon tasting his dish, I immediately regretted my decision - mine was good, but his was amazing! It was a cold night and the warm, rich stew was exactly what I didn't realize I wanted. We WILL be going back, even if we just get two boeuf bourguignons to go! The bread served with the meal was also yeasty and amazing and I could have easily had more of that too. It was served so hot it almost burned my fingers in the best way.

Boeuf bourguignon | My salmon with mushrooms | The other dessert

You can't go to a French restaurant without trying the chocolate souffle, so we did. It came with a hazelnut cream sauce and dark chocolate ice cream. I haven't confirmed this, but I think souffle is French for "lava cake" because that is kind of what it is. Not really, but close. It takes lots of time to make and has to rise properly to be fully enjoyed but when it's good, it's amazing. We also got another dessert that I didn't like very much. The texture was weird and the passion fruit sauce on the plate wasn't my favorite. But it looked pretty! The coffee they served was also delicious. Judging a restaurant by the quality of its coffee is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do.

I was too full to fully enjoy this but it was so good.

So basically, I loved this place. We will be going back. And knowing that there is nothing weird about boeuf bourguignon made me more eager to try other French restaurants. When you know there is a "safe" dish on the menu, it's far easier to try new places.

Have you ever tapped into your inner Julia Child and made boeuf bourguignon? If you want to and you need a taste tester, I'll be happy to help you out....

     Glossy Blonde                                                     

Monday, December 9, 2013

busy family weekend

This weekend was so good in so many ways. So let's get to recappin' because I think this is going to be a long one.

Friday night we checked out a new French restaurant in our 'burb called La Balance. It was fantastically good and I think it warrants its own post, mostly because you might be thinking "Ew, French food, too fancy." And I want to prove you wrong. We got home and I cleaned and wrapped gifts and didn't stop til midnight which didn't make for a super fun Friday.

After getting Bauer his steroid shot for his asthma (high maintenance cat), we went to my mom's to have Christmas with my step-sister and nieces. They currently live in Louisiana and are moving to Oklahoma during the girls' Christmas break off school so we had to celebrate early. My grandparents came over too. It was so fun to watch the girls open their gifts, especially the five year old. She got a robot dog and it was awesome. I got her a knock-off Rainbow Loom, which is apparently far too advanced for an adult to figure out. My boss' kids have them and she knows how to do it, so I am going to get lessons! My grandparents came over and we made s'mores on my parents' fire pit which has become our holiday tradition. The sweet five year old clearly knows her Aunt Lauren well - she came over to me and whispered in my ear "Remember last time I came, and you took us to Chik-fil-A? Can we go there again?" I would have gladly taken her, but my mom was making lunch for everyone so I promised that I would next time. It's a date!

OMG she's 13 and she was drinking coffee. I can't. | Twinsies! | She was drinking hot chocolate | Love my first niece so much. Also, don't mind her crazy hair. Apparently she thought it would be fun to let her friend cut it for her and she went to get it cut by a professional later that day...

We left around 3:30 to pick my father-in-law up from the airport. He and Andrew are so much alike in their sense of humor that it cracks me up. We went to have dinner at Killen's Steakhouse (my 42nd restaurant on the Top 100 in Houston) and it was fantastic! That will probably be another post of its own. We picked up our new TV later that night - it's a SmartTV. Have you heard of these things? I said we didn't need one but Andrew wanted it and after cashing in American Express points, it was less than $100. It is awesome and super high tech. You can stream Amazon Prime by just hitting one button. If I disappear from Blog Land, it's safe to assume that I have fallen into the black hole of streaming all five seasons of Parks and Rec.

V with her s'mores - she is a marshmallow roasting pro | My grandparents. They have been married 58 years this month. Can you imagine? | Andrew and I - this is almost SO Christmas card worthy but the jerk wouldn't look at the camera! | V's marshmallow kept catching fire, but Uncle Andrew blew it out for her | M is almost as tall as I am. How did she get so grown up?

Yesterday I did get up and go to the gym - to try to counteract all the food that's been happening - and then we went to brunch at Hugo's. It's a Mexican buffet (not Tex-Mex) and I have mentioned it before and it was excellent, as always. I am a sucker for cinnamon so when they told me about some Mexican coffee that they make in a pot with cinnamon and sugar, I was sold and it was fantastic. I spent the rest of the day on the couch napping through football and catching up with my blog friends. Stellar Sunday, for sure.

Thank you guys for liking my pics on The Blog Baton! I tried to show a piece of my life and let me tell you, it was intimidating to go from my number of instagram followers to the several hundred the baton has. If you are participating in it in the future, let me know and I will be sure to like all of your pics!

Linking up with Sami and Leeann!

Friday, December 6, 2013

five on friday: presents and food!

Why does the holiday season fly by? This week is no exception! Here are my Five on Friday, and if you want more of me, don't forget to check me out on Instagram on The Blog Baton today!

1) I am loving twitter this week. I think I say that pretty often but this week it's just extra fun. The interaction during the day just adds a little something to the monotony of work, don't you think?

2) I always like Spotify, but moreso during the holidays. Are you on it? Let's be friends! My username is my first name and last name, no spaces (I don't want to write it out for google purposes but if you don't know it, ask and I will share). To find any user with their username, type in spotify:user:username in the search bar and there they'll be!

3) I got to try a new to me restaurant, Jus' Mac. I have been wanting to try this place for forever but as I am never impressed with mac and cheese, Andrew hasn't wanted to go. Luckily, some friends wanted to go so we did and I really liked it! I thought the prices were reasonable for the portions, the texture was great, and it had flavor. Some mac and cheese just tastes like flour and is too thick. Not this place! I was really impressed and I will definitely go back! I had one with poblano peppers and pepper jack cheese. Next time I want to get The Big Easy that has bell peppers and andouille sausage!

Top: Rachelle's Chicken Mac | Left: Sarah's Mexican-ish Mac with tomato and avocado | Right: Miranda's Frito Pie Mac | Bottom: My Poblano Mac

4) Good friends! I can't stop bringing up how happy I am that this blog has brought me girlfriends. I never knew how badly I needed them until I had them. Somehow, Miranda, Rachelle, Sarah and I spent three hours at Jus' Mac - no drinks, just dinner and lots of girl talk. I love that we are four people with little directly in common besides the fact that we blog, but somehow we work. And there were presents! Rachelle made us all a pretty handmade card and a little notebook with a glittery gel pen that we all fell in love with (seriously, it was like 8th grade all over again). Sarah made yummy oreo balls and packaged them all cute with holiday gift tags that you can print for free on (one of) her blog(s)! Since we didn't talk gifts, Miranda and I both showed up empty handed, but we think that our uncrafty selves should make something for them together. I'll update you if that ever happens.

The photo doesn't do any of it justice but our lady date was long and I still had to type up this post! I am in love with the embossed envelope behind the card!

5) Family time. My step-sister and nieces are coming to town this weekend and I am so excited to see them. It's a quick trip and I will only get to spend part of Saturday with them but it will be great. The little one just started Kindergarten so I can't wait to see how grown up she seems! My father-in-law is also coming to visit and let's just say that Andrew has filled out our meal plan with yummy places quite nicely... updates to come next week for sure!

                                                         THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Thursday, December 5, 2013

gifts for my blogger friends

Hey hey hey, I no longer have one of those .blogspot names - check out who finally got her own URL! I had to pick a blog name so that I could buy one and now it's done - welcome to I also have a new button to celebrate. With an actual photo of me, if you're into that. The plain one with text is there too, and if you have my button and I don't have yours, let me know - I would love to support you!

Also exciting this week - I am going to have The Blog Baton tomorrow, Friday the 6th. Don't know what that is? Find out here, follow along, and please please please like some of the pics I post? I don't ask for much but nothing will be worse than holding the baton and having no likes. It's Friday and you won't want to pay attention at work anyway. I have some fun food plans in the works if that will entice you any...

Now, I bet the title of this post grabbed your attention, and sadly, I will not be doing any giveaways today. After seeing an item on Instagram that I thought would make a good gift, I went to to try to find it. I have never really shopped there but I do like to check it out when I'm near one because they really have cool stuff. As I was looking for the item in question (National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation pint glasses that have since sold out), I kept scrolling past things that made me think of bloggers in my life. No, not family and friends, but online friends. You guys are a big part of my life too! So, I thought I would share what I saw as well as include a gift idea for any blogger you might be looking to buy for this year. Bonus: I may just have helped you meet your new favorite blogger. You're welcome!

This isn't a post sponsored by Urban Outfitters or any of the bloggers below - just my real thoughts while online browsing!

All images but the cookbook from

So first, if I was buying a gift for the always honest and sometimes slightly traumatic Kathy (read her post on childbirth, then commence never having a baby), I would definitely include this snowman card. No woman uses the word boner the way she does.

Then I saw this cool book and thought of Jess - I have already asked her about twenty questions about being a vegetarian (she has a post on this but I CAN'T find it!), but I'm not sure if she has Trader Joe's in her area or not. I love that place, so I bet this would be awesome for her!

My sweet friend Joey mentioned to me one day that she really likes totally hates the phrase "like a boss." So now, anytime I can slip it into conversation, I tell her that I am doing things like a boss. Eating lunch like a boss. We have matching rugs because we shop like a boss. She would love to drink her coffee every morning like a boss - I just know it!

I think Steph  has a graduate degree in both finding perfect someecards and knowing when to say eff this ess (still keepin' it PG-13 here, y'all). I totally thought of her when I saw this (also - go check out her giveaway for $25 to a charity of your choice!)

I could get all gushy about Heidi and how I feel like I have known her forever when we haven't met but that might be weird for her. She is one of my many cat lady friends and I love this so I think she would, too. I would get it for her in addition to two one-way tickets back to Houston (or anywhere in Texas, I guess) so her and her husband can live here and we can let the kitty marriage between Bauer and Fancy finally happen.

I first learned about the Supaboy on Kathy's blog above, but when I saw it again I thought of Nadine and Ashley (come back, friend!). They both love video games and I would even love one of these if my mom still has my Super Nintendo games somewhere!

And finally... because I don't want to leave anyone out... how about a Selfie for all my blogger friends? Someone can hold the phone and someone else can hold the button? I don't really get the point of this so I think I'm missing something but if there is one thing bloggers like besides coffee and wine, it's selfies. So picture me like Oprah giving an imaginary one to all of you! Selfies for everyone!

This is from Oprah's "You get a car!!" moment in case anyone wasn't a huge fan of hers!

Do you find yourself thinking of blog friends nearly as often as real friends, or do I just need an extra hobby?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

lady dates I will decline

I was talking to a friend the other day and she told me that she was invited to another friend's house for pizza, but at the almost last minute, the hostess informed her that she would be serving eggplant and spaghetti squash instead. What.the.heck. So of course I freaked out and said that a lame food switch like that was totally grounds to ditch the lady date, but my friend is a kinder person than I, attended, and ended up getting pizza in the end when the veggie dish didn't cooperate. But that got me thinking (now I sound like Carrie Bradshaw...) - what types of lady dates would I decline?

It's the only Carrie at the computer gif I could find.

No matter how much I like you, I will decline an invitation to:

- Go bike riding

- Play a sport of any kind, really

- Attend a heavy metal concert

- Binge-watch CBS sitcoms

- Eat at Chili's, TGI Friday's, or any other chain restaurant that makes me cringe

- Search with you through a million stores so you can find one specific dress/top/shade of eyeshadow you have in mind

- Go to an event where I have to google what the dress code means

- Listen to the opera

- Knit

- Cook

For the record, I enjoy sitting and talking over a cup of coffee or glass of wine, eating (obviously), failing at painting pottery or canvases, Bingo, shopping with no real end in mind, pedicures, and just plain talking the day away with no end in sight.

Are there any lady date activities that you would refuse?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

things I want to ban from instagram

People are all in an uproar because there are instagram ads now. I rarely ever see them, so honestly? They don't bother me. But there are lots of things I see on instagram and facebook that I wish I could ban forever... or at least mostly unsee. - I'd pay $1 billion for you to stop sharing your Instagram photos with me
Okay, maybe not a billion but...

1) Animal carcasses: I get it. I eat meat, too. That doesn't mean I need to see the gory details of how that venison got on your plate. I'm squeamish, I have never shot a gun before, and to me that is still Bambi. Just because you did it doesn't mean everyone wants to see it. Save that for a direct email or text messages to your friends who understand the work or effort or whatever went into it.

2) Breastfeeding babies: I am probably going to catch hell for this, so come at me. I have no issue with breastfeeding at all and how you raise your child is totally up to you. Buuuuut... when  your nipple is on my instagram, I'm just not a fan. When little Johnny is a freshman in high school, won't it be a little traumatic for him to see his cute little baby face and mama's bathing suit area in the same shot on the internet for the world? Bond with your baby, feed it however you please, and even photograph it - but really, there is no need to run it through Toaster or X-Pro to see how many likes you'll get. I promise, your baby will do way cuter things that won't make him turn as red when he finds your outdated Instagram account in 18 years.

3) Starbucks cups: For the love of all that is holy, I drink Starbucks, you drink Starbucks, we all drink Starbucks (because we all shop at Target and it's so convenient, duh). I do not need to see your Starbucks cup. I don't care if it's red. It might be kind of funny if they spell your name wrong, I'll give you that. But for the most part, $4 coffee trips can totally be kept to oneself.

4) Shop My Closet Sales: Can you just use twitter for this instead? Please?

5) iPhone notes, instagrammed: There's this cool thing called Twitter that you probably have. Yeah, I know 140 characters is hard sometimes but it forces you to be creative and succinct. I like that. This especially bothered me when the default Notes font was so Comic Sans-esque. You have twitter, Facebook, and probably a blog. Say what you need to say there, please!

Honorable Mention: I really, really hated Instagram video til my smart friend Sarah told me I could stop them from playing automatically. You're able to build up a lot of rage when you are too lazy to dig into your settings.

So, these are a few of my least favorite Instagram things. What do you hate to see there? I hope it isn't food or cats or else you probably hate following me... But if you're into that, find me here.

   Glossy Blonde

Monday, December 2, 2013

long thanksgiving weekend

Well, wasn't that a great, unexpected vacation from pretty much everything?

I didn't go to work for five days. I don't think I have had that much time away from work since Christmas and New Year's 2012. It was lovely. Since I wasn't at work, I wasn't in front of a computer. Now I have lots to catch up on, and I want to catch you up on me.

Thanksgiving was nice. We spent it with my mom's family, at my aunt's house about 45 minutes away. Our contribution to the meal was homemade vanilla bean ice cream, whipped cream, candied pecans, and a cinnamon chocolate sauce. It was a hit!

We went and saw Catching Fire. I loved the Hunger Games books but didn't care much for the first movie (honestly? I fell asleep). I didn't want to see Catching Fire but there was nothing else going on Thanksgiving night so we did. The internet was so OMGCRAZY over it and I liked it, but it wasn't the best thing ever. I think it's a very faithful adaptation of the book so perhaps I just wasn't wowed?

Lots of lazy time with this snuggle muffin, who is clearly tired of his mamarazzi.

There was nothing we had to have on Black Friday, so we went out for breakfast at Pecan Creek Grill (one of my favorites) and out looking for some deals. There was surprisingly little traffic and not a ton of people in the center we were in. It was a pleasant shopping experience! I also finally watched Pitch Perfect and this is another thing that I am going to have to agree to disagree with the internet on. I mean Fat Amy was pretty funny but the songs mostly got on my nerves and I felt like the entire movie was trying too hard to be quotable.

On Saturday, Revival Market was doing kolaches. They do a different breakfast item every weekend and kolaches are by far my favorite. This time, they had lemon and cream (too tart, which was a bummer), apple-pecan (amazing and my favorite), boudin (yum) and sausage and cheese (also really good, but kind of small). We killed time until the liquor store opened because Andrew was looking for a certain beer, had no luck, and then just came home to hang out. I watched This is 40 (we have free HBO this weekend, I should mention) and wow, it was kind of depressing. I mean the characters' fights were so real it was like watching an unscripted reality show. It kind of went nowhere and just felt like an excuse for Judd Apatow's crew to get together, have fun, and get paid. It isn't the worst thing I ever watched and there were a few funny parts, but I don't need to see it again.

Kolaches to share and a flat white for Andrew, so pretty!

So that just about catches you up on what's happening with me. I'm looking forward to catching up with all of you...

Linking up with Sami and Leeann!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

the story of bullwinkle

Sometime in high school, I had to sell items for a fundraiser. I bought a set of Rocky and Bullwinkle fan pulls to attach to the chains of my ceiling fan and they lived there for years and years. Even though I haven't lived in that room for quite some time, my mom still keeps Rocky there - I don't know what ever happened to Bullwinkle.

Anyway, Andrew saw these when we were dating. He said that his family had a Bullwinkle holding a star that they put on the top of their Christmas tree every year and it was one of his favorite things about Christmas. I thought that was cute.

I imagined something like this. Source

A few years later, Andrew's dad got all of the family Christmas decorations out of storage and had them sent to our house for our first Christmas cohabitating. We got everything out and Andrew told me stories and memories behind each ornament. And then he got to this... thing. A paper maiche animal with antlers wearing a red and white dress.

"Bullwinkle!" He was happy to see this relic from his childhood after years of not decorating a tree.

"Ummmm... what is that? It doesn't look like Bullwinkle." Clearly I was not a fan.

"It's Bullwinkle. In his choir robe. He goes on top of the tree."

In the way that you can never tell a child the truth about Santa, I couldn't tell my husband that his beloved Bullwinkle was in fact, probably a reindeer wearing a dress. So it went to the top of the tree.

Bullwinkle with one of Andrew's sisters, probably in the mid-80s | with Andrew when he was 10ish, so early 90s

I never had the privilege of meeting Andrew's mom, but I know his memories of Christmas are closely tied to his memories of her. In the box of ornaments and decor, I found a Christmas tree topper that was more my taste - gold metal, a sunburst of stars to come off the top of the tree. I asked him if we could try that one year. After all, his mom chose it so it would still have that family connection.

"No," he flatly told me year after year, "Bullwinkle goes on top of our tree. It's my only family tradition." And so Bullwinkle has kept watch over us each Christmas season for the past several years.

I have repeatedly accidentally called Bullwinkle an it, or even worse, a she. Every time I receive a death stare and a simple "But I love Bullwinkle." Every year I work hard on making our tree pretty, only to resign myself to the fact that this artifact (the date beneath Bullwinkle's skirt robe says 1970) will have the top spot, essentially disrupting the gold and glittering Christmas tree vision I imagine.

Ready for her his closeup | Proof that he's an old man

"Bullwinkle is an old man. He deserves your respect." I heard this last year, so I bought Bullwinkle his own home for 11 months out of the year - a tupperware shoebox that he lives in, wrapped in bubble wrap. I hope he's very happy there.

So if you see my tree, or anyone else's for that matter, this year, and it has some... interesting decor on it... please be kind.  Ask about it. Some of us don't deck our trees in Pottery Barn at Christmas. Some of us don't live in homes straight out of Southern Living. Some of us live with a man who will always be a little boy, missing his mom, wanting something simple to remind him of the magic and tradition of Christmases past.

Our tree, this year. Bullwinkle and all.

But you better believe I held on to that sunburst-star topper, in case he ever changes his mind.

   Glossy Blonde

Monday, November 25, 2013

(late) weekend recap

I was at a wedding last night (on a Sunday. Weird, right?) so I didn't feel like blogging at my regularly scheduled time so here I am, late. But I think we are all in vacation and short week mode so everyone will probably be looking for an excuse to not do real work today so surely you will see this. Right?

Anyway, the weekend. Saturday was busy. I wanted to unplug and I accidentally left my phone at home for four hours and I felt so out of touch. Andrew wanted to scratch another restaurant off of the Top 100 List, so we went to La Guadulapana for breakfast. It's in a tiny strip center with a convenience store and a washateria. I hate eggs for the most part but figured when in Rome, so I got the Omelet Especial because it had veggies, meat, cheese, and was covered in ranchero sauce. It was actually really good and didn't taste egg-y at all. The beans were my favorite part, though, and I wish there had been more of them! Andrew got a seafood soup that smelled terrible (but only to me) and some tamales. He loved the soup, called the tamales dry. The food was pretty good but the service was awful. It took repeated requests to get water refilled and forever to get our food. If you have the opportunity to go on a weekday, I bet that would be a better experience!

We continued with being "in town" by going to Blacksmith for coffee and then to Revival Market. Revival Market is a market/store that sells and serves nearly all local produce and food items. I basically wanted one of everything. This restaurant here, Hugo's serves the best hot chocolate and Revival Market sells tablets to make your own at home but they were out of them. It was a sad day. But we got some Bourbon Cajeta (goat milk caramel) and it is delicious. The rest of the day was filled with other errands, like a Trader Joe's run, buying a wedding gift, and finally getting new boots because the heel was coming off of mine. I know I rarely need boots in Texas, so it was far easier to justify a new pair when mine were broken.

Simple food and simple presentation. That bowl of soup was huge, though. | Bourbon cajeta (and it's local), yum!

Oh, and I also decorated the house for Christmas. But I am sure that will get a post of its own, eventually. My cousin's wedding was last night and there was an open bar. If you follow me on twitter, then you already know that I was traumatized by my mom and aunts on the dance floor. And that Walter White Heisenberg's lookalike was there and I almost peed my pants watching him dance. I mean, he is the one who knocks and all.

Almond croissants from Trader Joe's that we had with pumpkin butter - YUM! and so easy | See, doesn't he kind of look like Walter White?

I'm loving that I am already a few hours into my two-day workweek. Now, to go try and get some work done!

Linking up with Sami and Leeann!

Friday, November 22, 2013

five things I learned from blog comments

I kind of kicked myself after publishing yesterday's post because those are the types of short thoughts that are perfect for five on Friday. Oops. I was trying to think of five more things I wanted to share with you, and I thought about comments I've received on my own blog. I know that I read blogs in the morning; some posts already have a lot of comments, and some have few. I rarely read comments others leave on a blog, honestly, because who has the time, so I expect many others are the same. There is a lot to learn in the comments section, though. For example...

1) Um, a lot of us are guilty of wearing pants in favor of shaving our legs. Sorry, men in our lives, but laziness always wins.

2) Bloggers seem to feel very strongly about being on time, but those of us who are late at least admit to it! The response on that one was pretty mixed; see it here.

3) Making friends as an adult is hard. A lot of us are lonely. I mean we have significant others and families and coworkers and a few friends, but a lot of us are looking for a particular type of friend and aren't sure how to find it. I think it's hard to admit it at first, but we aren't alone! I love the comments in this post because we all kind of agree - childhood friendships were so much easier!

4) Okay, this next one isn't from a blog comment but from a tweet - I asked how much you pay for a haircut, pre-tip, and I got a wide range of answers! I know geography and having a relationship with your stylist plays a large part, but we all pretty much agreed that my coworker's assertion that $75 was the going rate is ridiculous. $50 or less seemed to be the most common, but a few people are bigger spenders. I love being able to get on twitter to either confirm or deny my own opinions.

5) We all need to unplug every once in a while. I did it a few months ago and y'all were so supportive and so many people said they needed to do it, too. We're going into a holiday week where we are supposed to be thankful for things that matter. My cousin posted something on Facebook the other day along the lines of "Life is what's happening while you're staring at your smartphone." Um, yes. While I am spending time with family next week, or even just with my husband, I want to make a better effort to be present. So, here's another reminder to me, and to you if you need it: put the phone down. Twitter won't miss you that much.

But wow, can't social media teach you a lot? This is why it's so hard to unplug! I have a pretty busy weekend ahead but only a two day work week next week, yay! Enjoy your last non-holiday weekend of 2013!

                                                         THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Thursday, November 21, 2013

things to know on Thursday

Here is proof that I will never be a food blogger: after just two days of food-centric posts, I'm don't want to write any more! So, instead, here are some things worth knowing today, on Thursday.

This picture has nothing to do with anything; I was playing with the VSCO app and thought Bauer looked very gentlemanly.

1) I should clarify a few things from yesterday's post - first, the portions were pretty small so while 23 courses was more than enough food, each course was nowhere near a normal restaurant portion! And second, my husband thought it was very important that I share with you that we went to this dinner a week after the Giants won the Super Bowl - as season ticket holders, we were able to buy tickets to the game and resell them for a very nice profit. If not for that, the meal never would have happened. Just thought I would share that because I know that I would be wondering how and why someone would have a meal like that! I believe this is known as keepin' it real in the blog world.

2) Since I am trying to be industrious and get as much Christmas stuff knocked out as possible now, I wanted to make sure y'all are using ebates. You are, right? It gives you cash back on your purchases and lets you know if there are any coupon codes you should be using. If you would sign up through this link I would be oh-so-appreciative. It was so nice to get a check for like $50 after doing my holiday shopping using ebates last year!

3) Speaking of Christmas, I am still trying to hold off on listening to Christmas songs, but I did want to share my three favorite lesser-known songs: 1) Need a Little Christmas by Johnny Mathis (it was playing as we got engaged) 2) Donde Esta Santa Claus? by Guster (This is the version I prefer. Andrew hates this song with a passion so I like it even more!) and 3) Cold December Night by Michael Buble (He wanted to create his own special Christmas song and I love it!). What are some of your favorite lesser-know Christmas songs? I want to add some new things to my Spotify playlist!

4) I often feel behind on blogging. This week is one of those times. I figure people would rather get a comment on their new post than a response email from me from my post a few days ago. Is that right? I will catch up, one day, and I am trying to be better about sending responses as soon as I read comment emails - because you better believe I read them the second I see them. Just life, ya know?

5) I'm going to a wedding this weekend and the high is going to be 51 degrees. That is so rare in Houston and I have no idea what to wear. This is causing undue stress. I should mention that it's my cousin's wedding so the only people I will know at the wedding I have known my whole life and it really shouldn't matter. The more I blog and pay attention to other people's clothes, the more I realize how ill-equipped my closet is for any situation besides being mostly a bum and going to work. Perhaps "dressing like an adult" should be added to my New Year's Resolution list.

6) Okay, can't get Christmas off the brain. Have you heard of My extended family draws names for Christmas (there are like 30 of us) and you can draw names online so everything is secret, create a wish list, and set it up where spouses don't draw spouses, parents don't get their (adult) kids, etc. My family is using it this year and so far I think it's awesome! If only I knew what to add to my wish list...

So I think these are enough things for you to know on this lovely Thursday going into a holiday week. I don't know about you, but I am really looking forward to only working a few days next week and then fully immersing myself in the Christmas season!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

the best meal I ever had

Today I am still marking the transition from Method to my Madness to Eat, Drink, and Be Lauren by sharing the best meal I ever had with you.

The best meal I ever had was at e inside of Jaleo at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

You make reservations a month in advance and once they are confirmed, you get a gold ticket in the mail like Willy Wonka!

We went on Valentine's Day 2012, which is our dating anniversary. I call it our mortgage payment meal because yes, it was that expensive.

You have to have the full meal, which was 23 courses when we went. We told them I was allergic to shellfish and morally opposed to foie gras because I don't like either, but that sounded nicer. We had both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage pairing.

A potent cocktail in a perfume bottle was at every place and it was delightful | Drinking my perfume drink | Andrew was more comfortable with the perron.

It was a three hour meal that started at 10pm Texas time and lasted til almost 1am. The beverages were potent and I don't completely remember the final courses - I was tired, sated, and ready to be done.

The chefs almost dance as they prepare your food. There are two seatings per night, with eight people at each seating. You can ask any question you want and every dish and ingredient is explained to you in great detail. You can watch your meal as it's plated with tweezers. The attention to the plating is amazing, really.

White sangria in one spherified bite | a chicken "oyster" on chicken skin with rosemary foam - so memorable | flan with a granita of watermelon | bizcocho with a fruit-cream filling

I tried things I had never tried and learned where everything came from. The dishes were tiny but there were so many of them, I couldn't not be full. More than anything, watching my husband's eyes open wide at the description of every course was probably similar to watching a kid at Disney World for the first time - he was truly in his element. If you are ever tempted to go to e, I would love to talk you into it talk to you about it. It was most likely a once in a lifetime experience but so unique that I have nothing to compare it to. I would love to do it again, but told Andrew that we have to wait at least twenty years between trips...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

on appreciating food more

I wasn't born loving food. It's something I have gotten more into as I have gotten older. When I talk to people about some of the restaurants I like, one of the first things they want to say is "I don't know if I would like that." Part of me wants to shake them and convince them to give it a try. The other part of me totally gets it. I grew up eating simple meals and not liking much of anything. My mom worked full-time so we had the easy stuff- hamburger helper, spaghetti, chicken nuggets, and canned and frozen veggies. And there is nothing wrong with that. It just didn't breed very adventurous eating habits in me. I hated seafood in any form besides canned tuna. I had only eaten your basic veggies and didn't really like them. And I ordered chicken something at pretty much any restaurant, all the time.

I don't remember how or when it happened, but early in our dating days, Andrew and I got hooked on the Food Network (which I can't stand now, but that is another story for another day). He shared an interest in cooking with his mom when he was younger and really got into all of the different meals featured on the shows. Up until that point, he was pretty picky in his own way - sure, he loved seafood but his sisters joked that they never saw him touch a salad until he met me. One of our favorite restaurants to go to was Buca di Beppo (if there isn't one near you, it's an Italian chain with stuff on the wall that rivals TGI Friday's). On our first trip to Las Vegas together, we visited both Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse's restaurants and I think that started us on seeking out the best chefs, celebrity or otherwise. When planning trips out of town, the places we were going to eat became the most important thing to consider.

At Buca di Beppo in 2007 | Our third trip to Vegas together and our second visit to Mesa Grill (December 2008).

The more good restaurants I went to, the more I wanted to try different foods. Chicken seemed like a wasted opportunity to try something amazing. I would lean toward the beef or pork instead. Or fish. Yes, during this time, Andrew started culinary school and began making fish at home so I gradually acquired a taste for it (though I still don't like shellfish). All of those new-to-me dishes were served with sides that I thought I hated. Mushrooms? Ew. Avocado? No thanks. I tried them again, made well, and fell in love with both! 

I have certain things I really don't like. I have to really trust a chef's reputation to go near broccoli. Andrew hates tomatoes. But for the most part, I like to attempt to trust a chef and that a meal will be good. Do I sometimes hate what I order? Yup. That's what husbands are for. We can usually swap plates. But, more often than not, going out of my comfort zone teaches me that I don't hate something as much as I thought I did. I didn't die after eating oysters or squid ink or raw fish, and while they may not be my first choices, I'm glad I can say that I tried them. 

I ate the vegetarian version of this dish at The Pass almost a year ago and I am still thinking of it. The noodles are made with seaweed and the silkiest, yummiest piece of tofu was inside. Photo from The Houston Chronicle.

All of my best dining experiences have included trying something new. It is hard to get past the "I don't like it" mentality but I assure you, your tastes have probably changed since you were 13 and decided you hated certain foods. Mine definitely have in many ways. You don't have to eat like Anthony Bourdain to have a good time at an offbeat restaurant. My best advice is to order a mixture between familiar and new. Go with the vegetarian option if the proteins are too weird. And, keep an open mind to enjoy the experience. If you go in with the mindset that you are going to hate everything, then you probably will. And I will never invite you to dinner. Unless we are just having chicken. That's always safe. But I will make sure to have plenty of sides on hand and encourage you to try something new.

     Glossy Blonde

Oh and I am guest posting on my friend Bree's blog today to celebrate her wedding anniversary week. Go check it out!

Monday, November 18, 2013

food, fun, football

I have been so busy in the best way this weekend that I kind of don't want to blog. But much in the way that a new outfit for work makes Monday more bearable, the idea of "showing off" my new name and design makes the idea of forming real sentences more appealing.

The weekend will best be summed up in (long) bullet points:

- Friday we carpooled and went to dinner at the food truck park. Several years ago, there was a Cuban place by our house and I fell in love with Cuban sandwiches (ham, pork, swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles on grilled, yummy bread). Well, that place closed and there is nothing that has totally filled the void for me. I heard that a food truck had an amazing Cuban so I had to have it and.... it wasn't what I imagined. Couldn't taste the cheese and there was aioli instead of mustard. However, the house made ketchup and the aioli for fries was worth going back for. It's called Speers Rolling Bistro for all my local friends (and the lady recognized me from tweeting to them so that was cool).

- On Saturday, we tried The Grove Donutz and Deli thanks to Bre's instagram. They have all kinds of crazy donut flavors like tres leches, cookie butter, rocky road, and s'mores and boudin kolaches (if you don't know what those words mean, let me know because they may warrant their own post). They also make their own version of the cronut (remember when I tried the "dosant" elsewhere and it sucked?) so together Andrew and I got their cronut holes (yum, flaky with cinnamon and sugar), a caramel macchiato donut (loved the texture, pretty good), a boudin kolache (hated it), and a tres leches donut (also yummy). It is worth the drive for a breakfast treat every so often!

- I also had a lady date with my for real, no disclaimer needed friend Sara on Saturday. You may remember her as Sara in Texas or Simply Sara Elizabeth but she isn't blogging anymore. We spent over an hour at Sam Moon, which is like Charming Charlie with less organization and cheaper and bigger and then had lunch at Pizaro's with a bottle of Prosecco. And lots of catching up. If I hadn't had so much to do at home, I think our date could have lasted well into the night!

- Quick rundown of Pizaro's - it's BYOB and the pizza is thin crust and made with high quality but low quantity ingredients. I have never had a bad pizza there. Sara and I got one with meatballs, ricotta, and basil and it was delicious. It's inexpensive in my opinion and so, so good! The menu is really only pizza and salad and it isn't much for ambiance but the staff is friendly and it's super casual.

The Cuban | Tres Leches Donut | Pizza

- For Sunday, I was given free tickets to the Texans game by a coworker. Andrew didn't want to go, so I invited my dad. Our seats were nosebleeds but I don't complain when they are free. We had the genius idea to park at my office and ride the lightrail to the stadium to save money. Well, that was great for getting there, but when we left, about eight blocks from our stop, we were kicked off the train because there was an accident ahead blocking the tracks! So it was a 12 block walk in 85 degree weather after the long walk down from the nosebleed section and across the parking lot to the rail stop in thin sandals not meant for walking. And the Texans lost. So I have pretty much decided that Texans games aren't worth the effort for me. They aren't my team, anyway. But, it was nice to spend time with my dad.

View from my seat - it really wasn't bad! | Both Presidents Bush were in attendance

And on Saturday night during my free time, I was busy with blog design because when you are stubborn and doing DIY, it is time consuming. This week to celebrate my new name, I am planning a few food-centered posts. I think some Eating and Drinking emphasis will be fun to write (also - who doesn't love having blog topics thought of a week in advance?).

Linking up with Sami and Leeann!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

notice anything different about me?

After Friday's "tease" that a change was coming and your sweet comments looking forward to it, I found myself dying to sit in front of the computer tonight and just change everything. I compromised and just changed a few things. More will come, but I took care of the big stuff now - namely, the header, my button, and my twitter (@eatdrinklauren) and instagram (eatdrinklauren).

Why Eat, Drink, and Be Lauren? Well, like I said before, Method to my Madness just didn't feel like me. I think those of you who know me know to expect food pics and recommendations and stories about the food I have eaten lately. And if I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about being me - what I like, what my life is like, what I am annoyed at right now, and more. Being Lauren. Plus now every time I think of my blog name, I think of "Tripping Billies" by Dave Matthews Band which isn't a bad thing. And I incorporated "Eat, Drink, and Be Married" into my wedding. And I clearly have a leaning toward using common phrases as blog names. And I just like it, okay?

So, other than a new name, I plan to blog about the same things I did before. I don't want to be a critic or a reviewer - just someone who enjoys food. I just wanted to let you know that you're in the right place!

Friday, November 15, 2013

five things to be happy about

Annoyance of the week: whining over first world problems. We all have them, but if all I hear from someone is how hard their life is, then honestly? I don't want to hear what they have to say anymore. I am far from happiness and sunshine all the time but I try really hard to keep perspective and be happy about little things. And these are some things currently making me happy on this lovely fall Friday.

1) The anticipation of Christmas music: This is the shortest that the Christmas season could ever be, I'm pretty sure, so it feels like Thanksgiving is taking its sweet time getting here and Christmas will be here and gone before we know it. I am trying to force myself to not listen to Christmas music (specifically, Michael Buble's amazing CD. Get it now and thank me later!) until at least the week leading up to Thanksgiving. But it's so hard. Looking forward to it is making me excited for the whole season, though.

2) Hot chocolate: Coffee is great year-round, but I can only do hot chocolate when it's cold. This week, it was cold and the hot chocolate was amazing. I grew up with powdered hot chocolate mixed with water but of course now have upped my game to fancy hot chocolate shavings with milk. YUM. The Williams-Sonoma hot chocolate mix makes a great gift, just saying.

3) Coworkers who just get me: I am not a normal Crate and Barrel shopper but one of my coworkers brought in the catalog for me because so much of it "looked like me." She was so right. I just want to buy the entire store and then ask the staff to come decorate my house. Is that too much to ask? I spent more than a few minutes ooh-ing and ahh-ing over everything and I think I may have to get a few things soon...

This laser cut village is so simple and cute | I think the galvanized collar is so cool instead of a tree skirt and I kind of want to make a paper version of the metallic garland....

4) Time to be: The last few weeks, I have been stressed and tired and just... ew. This week was great. I have had time to answer emails, read blogs, keep up with twitter, watch TV, gchat, and just do little things that make me happy. Sometimes life gets in the way of the little things and I'm glad that wasn't the case this week.

5) A change is gonna come: I started blogging under a completely different name and then went with Method to my Madness because... I don't know, I liked how it sounded? If I came across my blog name, I would think it was about a woman who was blogging about living with a mental illness or something. I know what I mean by the title, but it isn't easy to figure out from the get-go. After lots of brainstorming, I think I have come up with something simple that will be my new online identity. Much more me and and a better idea of what my blog is about. Plus, I will finally buy a domain. I am super excited but committed to staying with DIY blog design so it might take me a while to make the swap. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later because I am ready to change my twitter and instagram right now!

I hope to spend my weekend having a new food experience or two and maybe getting some Christmas shopping done. Hope you have a great one!

                                                         THE GOOD LIFE BLOG