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 drawnames.com? 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

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Words of Wisdom For Blogger Husbands

Hi Blog World,

It's Andrew, Lauren's husband (hubs, Mr. Man, whatever other clever names you ladies come up with for your significant others) again. You may remember me from a previous post I did for Lauren (there would be a clever link to it here, if I had the patience/knowledge on how to insert a link). One small change for this post: Lauren doesn't know I'm writing this, and it will publish without her knowledge. She's having a case of writer's block tonight, but really wanted to post. This is my hopefully not lame attempt at helping out my darling wife.

As Lauren has gotten more involved in the blog world and made so many friends that I hear so much about, it has provoked some thought on my end. Are other "blog husbands" as invested in their wives' blogs as I am in mine? I read every post, will scan the comments to see what everyone has to say, and try to help her come up with ideas for future posts. While I hope this has helped her in her quest to have a quality blog - I think most of you loyal readers will agree her blog is entertaining - I think it has helped me better understand my wife. She talks about things on her blog that just don't tend to come up in normal marital conversation. I think it has helped me grasp her thought process and, possibly, helped me get a better idea of how to communicate with her.

So for all of you blog ladies out there with boyfriends or husbands, I hope your man takes the time to read and appreciate the mind of the woman he loves. I certainly am trying to. This crazy world of "theme days" (Five on Friday, Wedding Wednesday, etc.) and lists and product endorsement has been a fun one to get a glimpse into. Now for a few random Lauren facts:

She NEVER, and I mean NEVER, gets out the door on the first try. She always forgets something.

If she does get out the door without forgetting something, she will undoubtedly think she left her hair straightener on and go back in the house anyway.

She calls her cat approximately five different names per day.

She changes outfits a minimum of twice when getting ready for a blog friend meet up. Is this normal?

We have an inside joke/funny "look" she makes sometimes, and she made the silly look in the middle of our wedding ceremony. No one noticed but me of course, but it is one of my favorite moments of our 7 1/2 years (and counting) relationship. It was my wife in a nutshell, and it was perfect.

/// ETA by me, Lauren: Y'all, I honestly had no idea he was doing this. I drafted a post and it didn't feel like what I wanted to say today so I sat and wondered and left the blogger window up and this happened while I was in the shower last night. He even figured out how to schedule it. Now I feel like a jerk for not making him coffee this morning...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

am I broken?

I have noticed by reading blogs and speaking with other women as well as watching movies and TV that there is a trait many women share: they cry fairly often. Whether they are happy or sad or mad, tears from the eyes seem to be the norm. The more I pay attention, the more I realize that a lot of women cry pretty often. So of course, I have to sit back and realize - I don't.

I was a bit of a crier as a child. Mostly because I was sensitive and if I got a grade I didn't think I deserved or was with a group of students who got in trouble but felt like I was innocent in the matter, I cried. And I was usually the only one. So maybe that traumatized me into not crying as an adult? I mean, I cried at my wedding. I almost cried during Jim and Pam's wedding on The Office. Someone went into my office yelling at me about how I was going to get the company sued when I worked at my current job for less than a month and that got me pretty teared up. But honestly? I can't remember the last time I really cried.

I'm not sure what is is that makes some people cry easily and some little, if any. "Having a good cry" rarely sounds like a good idea to me. If a person or situation makes me want to cry out of anger or frustration, I always see it as letting that thing win, and let's face it - I want to win! I don't think I'm an unfeeling jerk, but crying just doesn't come naturally to me. I am far more likely to cry over something sappy, but even that is just tiny tears that don't even make it all the way down my cheeks. Am I a mutant? Or so I just have my emotions in check? Am I missing something? Is there really nothing better than a good cry?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

calm, peace/patience, and understanding

Last week, I had to help put on a huge event at work. Usually my events range from simple meetings to employee events to receptions, but there are a few constants: the events are free to attend, and I am involved in all aspects from start to finish. This big event, however, was different. The school I work for partnered with a lobbying group and had 64 life-sized pet sculptures painted by Texas artists, displayed throughout the state, and finally sold off in a combination live and silent auction. I worked with a committee and did not get to see all contracts, had the event offsite (90% of what I do is in my building), and had to count on a lot of people to do their jobs to succeed, rather than being able to do everything myself. That was a big thing for me. I was anxious leading up to the event. Would people come? Would the art fit in the space? Would the auction company I hired deliver as promised? I basically felt that even though it was a team effort, as the only "events person" on the committee, the entire thing rested on me. Tickets were $100 per person so the event had to deliver. And since it wasn't completely in my control, to say I was uneasy was an understatement.

VooDoo Lucky Charm Kitty | The Notorious D.O.G. (designed by a Houston graffiti artist - now that I know that, I see his work everywhere) | He Answers to Chaos

I am pretty naturally high-strung, even more at work. I want to do a good job. I think we all know that feeling, regardless of your field. I feel like I feel it more intensely because a bad event doesn't go unnoticed. So if I failed, everyone was going to know. There was no hiding this.

Is anyone a Seinfeld fan? Even though it was a little before my time, I have seen most of the episodes. There is one where George decides to do the opposite of his first inclination and everything starts going his way. Instead of making up a life for himself, he tells a woman he meets that he is unemployed and living with his parents and she actually wants to go out with him. He orders the opposite of his favorite food at a restaurant. Things like that, and he had good results. So I decided to take that approach on event day. Instead of doing what came naturally to me - trying to control everything, looking over shoulders, being in the middle of the chaos - I chose to step back. I told everyone my motto for the day was "Calm, Patience, and Understanding." I was choosing to be calm all day. I was going to have patience with everyone working on the event and realize we were all on the same team. And if something went wrong, I vowed to be understanding - we are all human and we all make mistakes, so instead of blaming and covering my ass, I was going to come up with a solution first. Patience morphed into peace throughout the day, which worked too (yes, I forgot my own mantra). And it was the best thing I could have done for myself.

People who knew me remarked on how "zen" I seemed (and some asked if I had come by some Xanax... the change in me was that drastic). When there were too many people and too many things happening, I straightened nametags. I hung signs. Instead of getting in the middle of the fray, I let the person who was supposed to be in control of that aspect be in control. Things went wrong and instead of getting annoyed, I got creative. I trusted people to do the jobs they came to do and got out of my own way. It was weird. It was still tiring. I still worked my butt off, but I took more control over my own role in all situations. I worked on going with the flow. And you know what? It all worked out. I can't do it all alone, hard as I might try, and it was much more gratifying at the end to work with a team. Now, I can't say I can promise to continue this pattern in all things in the future, but it was a great exercise in changing my attitude and it actually working for me.

Have you ever tried doing the opposite of what came naturally to you? How did it work?

Glossy Blonde

Monday, November 11, 2013

a day of shopping by someone who hates shopping

I was a bit MIA last week as I had back to back events but now I'm back and ready to tell you all about where I've been! (And OMG, reason #1297 why I love blogging - sweet texts from blog friends who know you have a big day wishing you well!)

I worked until 1 a.m. Thursday night, which was unfortunate because I planned a spa day at a fancy hotel across town beginning at 10 a.m. Friday morning (not a real problem, but I was tired). I think the spa day will go in a post of its own. I had gift cards and I mostly enjoyed it, but is it normal to feel bruised after a massage? Anyway, I did that, stopped for cookies to take to Andrew at work, and then came home for the most amazing two hour nap I have had in recent memory. Andrew came home and woke me up and I thought it was morning and mumbled something about how "Holly/Heidi said I was next in the system." I don't know what I was thinking and I think I said Holly but Andrew heard Heidi so maybe my bloggy BFF was in my dreams? I have no idea.

Anyway, Saturday is where the weekend got good. Sarah, Miranda, and I met at Rachelle's to check out some of Houston's best resale stores. We went to three different stores and I'm the only one who bought anything (a vintage coffee can to match my antique toaster and a wooden tray to go on the back of my toilet that I snatched up when Rachelle decided she didn't want it). Then we had lunch at Paulie's and decided to check out a bakery pop-up that Andrew texted me about. Pizza and maracons and coffee, YUM!

Friday's cookies because I think the scarecrow is cute | an entire shelf of clowns at one of the stores (creepy) | bread at the bakery pop-up | Pizza at Paulie's

So after all of that, we decided to check out the Nutcracker Market. For those not in Houston, Nutcracker Market is a huge sale put on by hundreds of vendors in an arena that has all kinds of holiday decor, gift items, jewelry, bags, and things you never knew you needed. Miranda and Sarah had never been but Rachelle and I knew what we were getting ourselves into! I tried to refrain from going crazy (plus I still had to carry everything I bought) so I only ended up with a bracelet, a Christmas ornament, and a slate lazy susan that I am going to put in my Christmas gift stash. Being there always makes me ready to decorate my house for Christmas and break out the Michael Buble holiday CD, but I refuse to do so until after Thanksgiving so we still have a few more weeks. It ended up being a fun, jam-packed day with friends.

Getting Christmas-y at Nutcracker Market! | Miranda, Rachelle, Sarah, me

Sunday consisted of a Giants win and brisket and homemade mac and cheese by the husband. Also, two cups of French Press coffee. It is so easy and tastes so good - how have I lived so long without this in my life? I meant to spend the day catching up on blog reading but it just didn't happen. Maybe with things slowing down at work, I can catch up!

Linking up with Sami and Leeann!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

marriage is definitely for me

You have probably seen the article posted all over facebook called "Marriage Isn't For You." Aside from the clever title that did make me click to learn more, I wasn't convinced. The author, who has been married for all of a year and a half, basically realizes that he got married for his wife: to see her smile, make her laugh, and be a good part in her life. And that's great! You should want that in your marriage. But I really don't think most of us get married for those lovely, selfless reasons. I think that's a part of it, but we mostly get married for ourselves.

I know it's Wedding Wednesday, but you're getting my favorite honeymoon pic instead.

Granted, I have never lived alone, but I think being married makes my life easier. Two incomes (or a person with extra time to keep up with the house) are amazing, right? And I love that the things that I am awful at, he is great at. He forgot to feed the dog? No big deal, I'm home to take care of it. We need coffee? He can stop at the store. We're going through life together and, while I love that I can be there for him, my knee-jerk reaction is that I love always having someone there for me.

I am not very good wife material. I have written many posts outlining my faults on this blog in a short time. I am lucky to have my husband; he shows his love by doing things for me. I forget to show my love in any good way most of the time. I definitely got married for me in this case. I have a tendency to get caught up in my own head and neglect to be about him more often than I should.

The so-called selflessness of love gets lost in the day-to-day. You get cranky, you have bad days, you step in ants and wonder why he hasn't killed them yet. He can't believe you still haven't done dishes. But you need one another to get through the day to day. He needs me to hop in on one foot flailing like I got bit by a shark and not an ant so he can laugh at my dramatics and I need his... nudging as an excuse to be sassy and ask if he has a sudden water allergy I should know about that has prevented him from loading the dishwasher. You don't think about it and you don't do it for the other person - you do it because it's life and you're married and you're committed, and it's the only way you know how to stay sane.

I don't do silly things with the intention of making my husband happy; I do them because they come naturally to me. If he didn't think bad jokes were funny, then he wouldn't have chosen me. I feel that the writer of the article says that making your partner happy is always at the forefront of your mind, and that just isn't the case. On any given day, the forefront of my mind is filled with turning off the straightener, recent tweets, weekend plans, and wondering where I left my phone. Making my husband happy and feel important and laugh are all very important to me, but I think with the right person and the right situations, it just happens. It's not an active thing - it's just life. I want to try to make him happy, sure, but if watching ESPN makes him happy and watching Parks and Rec makes me happy and I have the remote, whose happiness will matter most in that moment? Mine. And Leslie Knope's.

We got married for us. We value one another, and we like the way the other makes us feel. I don't live in a fantasy world where I think I can make my husband's life better all the time. I just can't. But I can be there for him, and with him, and make bad jokes when he needs one. And when he drives me crazy, I can try to remember all the good he does for me. I'm lucky he chose me. Except when I have ant bites on my feet. Then I wish a slightly more outdoorsy version of him chose me.

What did you think of that article? Who is marriage for, anyway?

Little Bit of Class Little Bit of Sass

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

the kind of person you're friends with

Last night, Andrew and I were driving home and I was hungry. He can't stand a soggy sandwich so he brings the sandwich meat/cheese/etc. home in case I want to make a sandwich for my lunch during the week. So, I did what seemed natural to me and grabbed a slice of deli cheese (Vermont cheddar, yum...), gave him half, and we chowed down on cheese at a stop light as I realized how unnatural that probably was. I happened to be texting Joey at the time so set the scene for her and ended it with "I just wanted to let you know what kind of person you're friends with." And since we are all friends here in our own way, I want to let you know the kind of person you're becoming friends with.

I'm the kind of person who...

... Makes up silly songs to the tune of whatever song is in my head while I wash dishes.

... Cries real tears when onions are cut or cooked.

... Is loyal to the people and things that I have chosen to love.

... Loves macaroni and cheese and will try it in nearly any iteration in hopes I've found a new love.

... Will keep score and always try to repay you for a good deed.

...Craves Diet Coke the second I walk in the door and contemplates a trip to Sonic to fulfill that need daily.

... Believes in respectfully disagreeing.

... Wears pants to cover up a lapse in shaving my legs.

... Eats cookie butter by the spoonful standing over the kitchen sink.

... Snuggles with my cat before my husband (Andrew understands English; Bauer doesn't!).

... Will probably never spend much time on my make-up, hair, or clothes.

... Is probably irritated with my husband if I'm not giving him a hard time.

... Loves to go against what everyone else is doing, just to do it.

... Always thinks a Gilmore Girls episode is the best thing on TV, no matter what.

... Will immediately wikipedia something in order to prove a point or answer a question.

... Wants to strike up a conversation with nearly anyone.

Those are just a few things about me. What kind of person are you?

Glossy Blonde

Monday, November 4, 2013

the laziest weekend plus how I spent my birthday

I was ahead of the game and scheduled last week's posts on Tuesday so I feel really... out of the blog world. I started to get sick Thursday night so I used that as an excuse to catch up on DVR and do nothing all day Saturday. It was everything I thought it could be. Since you don't want a recap of all the things I watched, how about I write down what I did on Thursday, my birthday, for posterity's sake.

I am a firm believer that your birthday is your day. Whether you want to stay in PJs or go to the spa or just hang out at work basking in birthday wishes, it should be what you want. My coworkers were sweet enough to bring me surprise breakfast, fun gifts, and a thoughtful scavenger hunt on Wednesday so I could take off on Thursday without feeling like I missed out. And it was simple and perfect.

I woke up to a monsoon in Houston, so I was grateful to not be making my thirty mile commute. I lounged around and enjoyed the Halloween costumes on GMA (seriously, could Josh Elliott as Ron Burgundy be any cuter? No, he could not!). I responded to sweet tweets and texts and phone calls. My dad called and invited me to lunch. Normally, I would say no, that he didn't  have to, and that I would rather just be alone, but I thought about it: when was the last time I spent my birthday with my dad? My parents got divorced after I turned ten, so probably since then. So I put on my rainboots and had burgers and Starbucks with my dad, just the two of us. And it was nice. I strongly encourage it, actually. I mean, I'm guessing as a parent your kid's birthday is pretty important to you too, right?

When we were done, I took myself to Target. I love to be in a store on a weekday and avoid the crowds. I spent tons of time with the clearance racks and got a French Press for $3.28 (I was about to spend $20+ on one so this was great for me!). Andrew got home and we had fajitas, margaritas, and cupcakes. It was lovely. Except at dinner when I sneezed and then my head felt full and I felt like I suddenly had a cold. That wasn't lovely.

One advantage of a Halloween birthday... really cute cupcake options!

So that's why I was a bum on Friday and Saturday. And on Sunday, my oldest friend invited me to sit around her house and hang out since that is how we first bonded when we became friends ten years ago. Because I broke up with my boyfriend on my birthday. So really... there isn't much to say about this weekend.

Linking up with Sami and Leeann!