Tuesday, March 26, 2013

mock trial challenge 2013

Well, I survived my second annual busiest week of the year! There was lots and lots of stress, some hilarious students, and a pretty good overall feeling when it was all done.

If you're following me on twitter, you know that A and I suffered from some awful food poisoning on Tuesday. It really threw my preparation for the week off, but luckily I was almost back to normal on Wednesday. It's a good thing, because I didn't really get to rest again until I went home on Sunday. I was exhausted!

My co-worker friend Hayley and I do this event together. She works for the department that hosts the event, and I do the events at the school, so it works well. It also helps that we are friends and have stayed friends through two of these now! She kindly gave in when I told her we needed to take a pic every night to document this year.

Wednesday:
Welcome event at Lucky Strike went very smoothly. The hotel ran out of rooms, so we were roomies for a night.

smiling after the first event | roomies!

Thursday:
Chaos begins. The hotel was supposed to provide charter transport for all of our competitors to the Courthouse each morning. When I went to the lobby about 30 minutes before the first bus was to depart, there was no record of our reservation. I panicked, but the Concierge said to put everyone in cabs and the hotel would reimburse. There were lots of cabs around the hotel, but not nearly as many as we needed, so we ran a little late. I learned two things from this mess: a) just because something is in a contract will not guarantee that it will happen and b) even if you feel like you are being a pain for double checking something, check it again, insist on confirmation, and then check again if needed. I asked what I thought were the right questions and was told that the hotel would handle everything if we had any issues since we contracted transportation through them, so I didn't worry when I didn't receive a confirmation. My sales rep and event manager at the hotel had record of what I needed, but whenever it came time to communicate the need for our reservation to the person who made the reservation, it didn't get done. Lesson learned.

FaceTime with Kitty (and husband) was a must

That night, we had an event at Pete's Piano Bar. On the way to the event, I passed the Cleveland Cavaliers getting into the elevator. They were really animated when faced with trying to cram into a tiny elevator together, and of course they were all HUGE. I wish I could have gotten a pic of them! I said I wasn't going to drink during MTC but after the crazy day of mix-ups, I thought I deserved one hard cider. All the law students were doing shots so that was nothing.

LOTS of people to feed

Friday:
The hotel apologized to our group with a free breakfast, and after lunch, Hayley and I came back to school to prepare for the night's event - fajitas on the terrace. I got dizzy at the sight of the ladder, but luckily Hayley was game to hang all of the pinatas I bought.

my apology gift from hotel  (not breakfast)

We went to the hotel bar that night and met a man who owns a business school in Kazakhstan. Apparently it was some holiday in his country and he wanted to celebrate by buying us drinks. Unfortunately, we had to get up early the next day and weren't in the mood to play host to him, so we excused ourselves pretty quickly. I spoke with some of the others in our group though, and apparently he was the life of the party at the  bar that night and was sending bottles of champagne all around. You really never know what you will encounter at a hotel bar.


Saturday:
Saturday was the home stretch and I was just ready to be done. We had an event that night at the gorgeous Hotel Zaza and it did not disappoint! If you ever get the chance to stay there or have an event there, I highly recommend it. It is beautiful and the service is excellent!

At Zaza | Trophies | Chandelier and piano | Food

View out the window from the Phantom Ballroom | Kitty Chair | Cool mirror

Sunday:
The final round takes place on Sunday, and it is always interesting to watch. For our competition, each team that comes is assigned a witness that is one of our students who is told that they are to do whatever the team asks of them for the duration of the competition. The witness gets very close and truly bonds with the team in such a short time, and the teams always feel that the witnesses really affect the outcome for them. The team that wins the competition gets to split a $10,000 cash prize and each member gets a pair of custom boots. Well, Campbell Law School won the competition and they were so bonded with and so grateful to their witness that they each donated a portion of their winnings so that she could get a pair of custom boots! When they told her, she burst into tears and I even felt emotional for her. These are all law students with debt who could have used the money, but they felt they wouldn't have won without her and did something so nice for someone they had only met a few days prior. To say that I was impressed by their kindness doesn't even describe it. It was a great ending to the competition.

I was so, so happy to get home to my husband and kitty. Andrew cooked a great meal with dessert - pot de creme with cinnamon whipped cream - so it was a great homecoming! The dessert is one of the best he has made in a long time, so I will have to post the recipe.

Yummmm

This week my nieces are in town and I am back at work, and still trying to catch up with my favorite blogs. Hopefully I can get back to it next week. I kind of miss the blogging world!

Monday, March 18, 2013

on facing anxiety...

This weekend was yet another great one. It was four days for me and I spent Thursday and Friday sleeping in, shopping around, and watching ridiculous shows (Why does Flea Market Flip exist? And why did I watch it for an hour?). It was great!

On Saturday, Andrew and I made a Trader Joe's run and ate lunch at Zabak's near the Galleria (really good, cheap Mediterranean - I recommend!) We went to our friends' house that night with bottles of Two Buck Chuck and had a great time. They have three sons, ages four and under, and put us in charge of the youngest who just turned one for about twenty minutes while they got the other ones to bed. I think Tammi was trying to give me a case of baby fever, but luckily, it isn't contagious!

(I did remember to take a few photos but was told they were not suitable for the internet, so just pretend.)

On Sunday, I faced my anxiety (because fear is too strong of a word) and went to the Houston Blogger Meet-Up. I didn't know what to expect and I actually had a dream about it the night before - that I showed up, my clothes weren't right, my hair wasn't right, and I immediately alienated myself by the first thing I said - so I had to give myself a pep talk to be able to go. But, I am really glad I did. All of the blogger girls were so open and they were all chatting like they had been friends for years, when I learned that some were only on their first or second meet-up. It was a fun way to connect and a great way to learn about new blogs to read.

(I didn't take pictures here because it would have been like "hey, I just met you and even though you're a blogger and you understand, can we take a pic together in hopes that we become blogger BFFs?" And if that is your style I LOVE IT but it is not mine and just makes me feel awkward to do the asking, but I will be in your pics if you ever need a buddy, okay?)

It was great to be surrounded by people who were all there for the same reason, who weren't freaked out by someone asking questions about their lives, and who were okay with a sometimes extrovert like me. Here is my one thought, though - there were two bloggers there (at least) whose blogs I read regularly and have emailed with a few times after I have left comments. One I brought this up to and it felt a little weird to admit it but she was SO NICE, and the other I let think that we had never crossed paths before. What should I have done? I mean, it is a little strange to be like "yeah, I know what you did yesterday, I TOTALLY follow you on twitter." Blog life meeting real life is crazy, y'all. Emily Post needs to create a manual for these things. (NOTE: If we met and I haven't started following your blog - let me know in the comments - I would LOVE to! I just don't know that I remember all the blog names!)

This week is the week that I love/loathe the most for my job. We are hosting 45 other law schools in a competition that lasts from Wednesday - Sunday. There are events every night so I live in a hotel and work via iPad and phone (so, sadly, no time for blogging - let's talk via twitter instead?) It is so tiring but so rewarding if it goes well. Crossing my fingers! Any tips for blogging on the go?

Friday, March 15, 2013

bloglovin'

Hey y'all... jumping on the bloglovin' bandwagon (even though I don't really understand the crazyness because I never used Google Reader but HEY, when in the blogosphere, do as the bloggers do, right?)

Find me here - Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I will probably love this and not know how I lived without it and do a much better job of keeping up with people on wordpress so really, this is probably the best thing that could have happened.

I RSVP'd for the meet-up on Sunday, Houston girls... if you are there, please find the girl talking too loudly and too fast and say hi to her... that would be me, and I do that WITHOUT FAIL when I am nervous (also, I turn red, but please don't point that out til later...)

Have a great weekend!

five facts

I was tagged by the super fun Elle at wishingoodluck to give you five facts. I love her blog - I love hearing about a law student's life, since I am surrounded by them daily but I don't know very many and she seems to keep an amazing balance in her life, so her blog is not about law AT ALL. Check her out if you haven't already!

So, I'm supposed to give you five facts about moi. This is much harder than I thought.

1) I am a TV junkie but I can rarely stay awake through an entire movie.
2) I taught SAT and ACT verbal skills to high school students when I was in college.
3) Las Vegas is my favorite city (so far)
4) I've lived in Houston my whole life.
5) I didn't understand football until I met my husband

Now, some elaboration, if you're interested...

1) Being a TV Junkie - I don't know what it is, but I can't get enough. I could spend the rest of this post telling you the names of shows that I have seen every episode of, but I won't bore you. My cat is named Bauer after Jack Bauer (24), I referenced numerous TV shows in my wedding vows (Gilmore Girls, Everwood, The Office), we had a Lost-themed Groom's Cake at our wedding, and my go-to "travel" t-shirt says Dunder Mifflin and I get stopped by strangers in the airport every time (The Office). I can watch episode after episode of a show that I'm into, but turn on a movie? I'm asleep halfway through. Even in theatres. I hate it, but it just happens about 90% of the time.

Our Lost/NY Giants (see #5) Groom's Cake

2) Grammar Girl - I loved helping students one on one with the verbal sections of standardized tests while I was in college. So many things that I had to teach them have stayed with me and honestly, in blogging, I notice so many errors that I want to point out but I DON'T because that would be rude (and we all make mistakes and think faster than we type!). I am far from perfect, but for what it's worth, things pique your interest, you are giving readers a sneak peek, and if you are climbing a mountain, you would travel to its peak. Drives me bananas. Also, I am a huge fan of the Oxford comma. And, I like to write like I talk, so you will not see grammar perfection here- just expect to see semi-colons used correctly and only a few egregious errors (I hope.) (I also taught SAT vocab).

No pics of me tutoring, so you get Bauer instead. Jack Bauer fought terrorists; Cat Bauer fights mosquito hawks that get into the house.

3) Vegas, baby - Andrew took me to Vegas right after I graduated from College and I loved it! We have since been back four more times and even got engaged there (a story for another day). I love that everything is in walking distance. The shows are amazing (we have seen Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil every time we have gone), you can eat anything you want, and you can't ask for better shopping. I don't even gamble and I love it. Just walking through each casino and looking at the decor is fun. NYC isn't for me, I loved Chicago, and I really love Austin, but give me a choice and I'll pick Vegas anytime (though I have told Andrew we can't go back there again until we try somewhere new!)

30 Seconds post-"Will you marry me" next to the Bellagio Fountains. I clearly had NO IDEA I was getting engaged or I would have had a proper dress coat that wasn't black over my brown dress. That STILL bothers me to this day!

4) Living in HTX - From West Houston, born and raised. I was going to go to UT in Austin but decided it wasn't for me when I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I stayed here, went to UH-Downtown, started working in radio, met my husband, and have yet to leave the city. We both have jobs and roots here. My whole family is here, and until last year, Andrew's dad's job was based here (he has since retired and moved to Delaware) so leaving never made sense. I remember Astroworld, I can pronounce and spell Kuykendahl, I know the difference between the North Freeway and the Northwest Freeway, and I remember Rock 101 KLOL. I lived for hearing "Slime in the Ice Machine!" every Friday night as a kid so I could mimic it and I will watch Channel 13 News forever. Houston is getting so much press as a great place right now that I am proud to say that this is home! But, if an opportunity presented itself to move, I would definitely consider it!

My sweet niece at Houston's waterwall - it has been one of my favorite things in the city since I was a little girl.

5) Football - Even though I did two years in high school band, I never "got" football. My dad watched it casually, my step-dad didn't at all, and I just never had an interest. My husband is a diehard New York Giants fan, so when I met him, not watching football wasn't an option. Every Sunday, our world shuts down and he is in front of the TV to keep up with his fantasy football team and cheer on the "G-Men." The first few years, I ignored it and did my own thing, but after awhile, I got more interested and learned how the game works. I rarely watch any game but the Giants, but I love to cheer on Eli Manning and Victor Cruz (love his salsa dance!) on Sundays in the fall and I am a little embarrassed to say that I have FIVE NYG t-shirts...

In 2012, when the Giants made the playoffs, I told Andrew that I would make NYG cookies if they made it to the Superbowl... they did (and they won!) so I made good on my promise!

So, there are my five. If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged :)

I am currently enjoying the two days of spring break that I get for working in higher education. This weekend we have plans to go to a friend's house and I may go to the Houston Blogger Meet-Up. I'm a little nervous, to be honest! But, maybe I will feel brave and RSVP tomorrow because I would definitely like to get to know many of them in person! Hope you have a great weekend!


Monday, March 11, 2013

putting good in to get good out

Just a quick note on this chilly (for us!) Monday evening to share what's on my mind...

(because blogging is supposed to be what's on your mind, right? I have kind of been lacking in the "real-ness" department here and I want to work on that...)

Last weekend, I made a conscious effort to try to do things better. I don't think I am a terrible person by any means, but I will often take the easy way out. Get wrapped up in MY needs, MY life, ME ME ME and forget that there's a world of people with thoughts and feelings out there. And I wanted to be better.

I started with something small. We waited for what felt like forever for a parking space at the grocery store. The car left, left their cart partially in the space, and I had to get out of the car to move it before Andrew could park. ANNOYING! They left their prescription (completely unopened) in the seat of the cart. Part of me thought that it served them right for leaving their cart there, but I thought about being the better person. About how this $16 prescription might have been a stretch for this family. About the inconvenience of calling the doctor to get it replaced. So I took it back in to the pharmacy. The pharmacist was so thankful for that and said she would call the person who left it behind. It was a tiny, tiny thing - I am not trying to achieve sainthood for this, I assure you - but it was the right thing to do in the moment.

Last week I also made a conscious effort to help a coworker. She was noticeably stressed out and hasn't been taking lunch breaks, has been working late, and just isn't herself lately. I was craving Torchy's Tacos (um, yum) and knew what she ordered when she went there, so I brought her one. Nothing big. Just a small gesture, trying to say that I realized how hard she was working and that maybe she could find five minutes for a lunch break. And as terrible as it is to say, that is not usually how my mind works. If I am hungry, I eat lunch and I normally expect others to do the same. But, I tried to think about how nice it can be to be on the receiving end of a small act of thought and pay it forward, just a tiny bit.

And, I have to tell you... I think the universe is trying to tell me that I am on to something. I was lucky enough to get into the concert over the weekend that I wrote about today and Andrew and I had a great time and we will be thinking about how much fun we had for a long time to come. And, I had a mini-miracle at work the other day (basically, due to spring break, no checks are being cut for two weeks. I didn't think about that and desperately need a check for an event before they will be issued. I called accounting and they were VERY nice, super accommodating, and I got the check the day I asked for it without having to call my vendor and ask for a favor). Everyone in my office asked what I had done to deserve such special treatment. I told them that I have been putting good vibes out, and was lucky enough to be getting them brought back to me.

Like I said - short(ish) post, not too deep of a thought, but I do want to remember that making an effort matters. And even if there were no rewards to putting good vibes out there, I need to do it anyway. Be a better person. Focus less on the me. I will forever be a work in progress.

what a weekend - houston staycation

This weekend was one of the most fun I have had in a long, long time, so naturally I have to link up about it!


It all centered around the chance we had to see the Airborne Toxic Event, which I will get to in a minute. Since we knew we were going to do that, we decided to plan a little "staycation" to revolve around the concert. Andrew and I are no strangers to staycations; we have stayed at the Four Seasons before seeing Lewis Black and the Hilton before trying out Uchi and Anvil, and we love being able to go out and have a good time and take a cab back to a hotel for the night. I definitely recommend it, especially when you live in the suburbs of a city with terrible public transportation like we do! We did a Priceline Name Your Own Price deal and decided to type in $60, even though the "suggested rate" was $154... and we got it! So, we ended up staying at the Hyatt, right in the middle of downtown.

Hotel room | A giving me a fake kiss so he doesn't have to be "in" the photo | perplexed at how everyone else's mirror pics look good and mine look dumb.

On Saturday, we had errands to run and finally made our way to Gatlin's BBQ around 1:30 for lunch. It is supposed to be the BEST BBQ in Houston. We knew that waits were long and that they ran out of food, but since it was supposed to be open until 7pm, we figured we were okay. After a 20 minute wait, we placed our order. They were already out of pulled pork, brisket, and spare ribs, so we ordered other meats. About 40 (!!!) minutes later, they came out and told Andrew they were out of the sausage he wanted, so he had to choose something else! It took about an hour for us to get our food from the time we ordered (which I don't understand because I am pretty sure all of the meat is done cooking when they open for business) and it was really good, but maybe not worth the wait again. If we were to go to Gatlin's again, it would be on a weekend. If you are in Houston and want to try it out, I definitely recommend going early and not in a group larger than four because seating is hard to come by!

Since we were in the Heights anyway and Andrew has been following Fat Cat Creamery on twitter and saw they were at Buchanan's Plants, we decided we needed some ice cream. Buchanan's is a cute nursery with a great gift shop and friendly staff. But, we were just there for a snack. I tried the Mexican Vanilla (yummmm) and Andrew got the Chocolate Stout (too beer-y for me, but I HATE beer). We both loved what we got and I can't wait until their shop opens in the Heights this summer!

Since we were going to have a late night, we decided to stop at Catalina Coffee on the way into downtown. It is one of Houston's newest coffee places. While I didn't love what I ordered (probably due to my need for overly-sweet coffee), my latte art there was some of the best I have had in my insane coffee quest of Houston.

Outside Gatlin's | lunch | Fat Cat | best latte art ever

We made it to the hotel and hung out for a few hours before our plans for the night. The room was pretty big and the bed was comfortable.

The concert didn't start until 8:00, so we decided to go try out OKRA Charity Saloon for happy hour. This is a bar where the proceeds go to charity, and for every drink you buy, you get a ticket to put in a box to support your favorite charity that they are promoting. At the end of the month, the charity whose box has the most tickets gets that month's proceeds. So, while you are out drinking, you are making the world a better place. Win win, right? The building is old and has lots of history, the jukebox was varied, the crowd was really diverse, and drinks were great. I had the punch of the day and then asked the bartender to make me something lemony. Both drinks were exactly what I wanted (Andrew had a beer and an old fashioned and was really impressed with his cocktail).

Lemon drink | Beer and punch (round 1) | OKRA Charity Saloon

Finally, finally, we made it to the concert. If you read Friday's post, you can see how I used social media to get us into this concert. I am SO GLAD I did. This was one amazing party! There was free food and drinks (open bar with the good stuff - hello, Patron!), a patio with lounge furniture to enjoy the amazing weather we have been having, and enough space to move around. You could also register to win a Cadillac, which explains the annoying tweeting I was doing all night (sorry followers, it won't happen again). We ate our way through the party and waited for the band to go on.

Andrew loves this band, so before they were scheduled to go on, we went to the stage area (which was in a really small room) and staked our claim right up against it. I rested my drink on the stage. And we waited... and got more drinks... the band ended up going on an hour late, but with free drinks, who could complain?

The Airborne Toxic Event finally came on around 9:45. They put on a great show, probably made even better by our proximity to them. They are one of Andrew's favorites, and though they aren't one of mine, I loved seeing them in concert. I took a ton of pictures, so I will try to spare you.

Us at the concert | So close, I can read the set list | Tiny room | the band

The Airborne Toxic Event


After the show, they walked around and chatted with their fans. We watched the girls in short skirts talk to all the guys in the band from afar. As we walked out of the concert, they gave each of us a brownie, a Sprinkles cupcake, and a USB car adapter. Great party, Cadillac!

(This is where I should say that the weekend was not all perfection, as we couldn't find a cab for about twenty minutes, and when we did and I said "Hyatt Downtown" he heard "Heights Boulevard" and proceeded to take us to the wrong place! We racked up a pretty big cab bill, so I told him we would only pay half, which he actually accepted).

Awesome stage lights

Since we are huge gluttons who had to take advantage of being "in the city" a while longer, we went to Sunday Brunch at Hugo's. We have been there for dinner a few times, but never brunch. The buffet was really large and I liked most everything I had, though I would have been happy with nothing but the tomatillo avocado salsa and flan. I definitely recommend it if you like authentic Mexican food, though!

It doesn't end there... I still had plans with my former coworkers, Tammi and Krystal. I didn't take any photos, but we did spend some time together catching up and making tentative plans for a girls's weekend in Austin. LOVE them so much and they were definitely the best part of my old job!

So, this is super long, but it was such a great weekend that I want to remember it all! I also checked my email this morning to see myself front and center on Culturemap's daily email.

Who's that girl in stripes? Andrew was at the bar and missed this....

Have you ever taken a staycation in your city?

Friday, March 8, 2013

high five for friday: vol. 5

Linking up with Lauren at From My Grey Desk for my FIFTH high five for Friday!

1) Easter candy, you're my favorite. I love Cadbury Mini Eggs like nothing else.

2) HEB, I adore your Mexican Chocolate ice cream. Remember that time it was late getting to the store so I emailed your corporate office about it and you called me to tell me it was on its way? Gotta have my favorite ice cream flavor while it's available. (Seriously Texans, go get some!)

3) This chilly weather makes kitty want to snuggle. No complaints from Mama (or Dad, lately).

4) Social Media, you are the best. I tweeted to Culture Map that I needed to get into their party this weekend featuring the Airborne Toxic Event and they DMed mean invitation. Andrew loves them and I am excited for something fun (and free!) to do.

5) Justice Girls (who are actually grown women), I can't wait to see you this weekend! (My best worst job ever was working at Justice while I was planning my wedding. Loved the people, didn't love the work.)

(Click to enlarge - this wasn't the best way to display all of these!)
source | photo I texted my aunt bc I got her addicted too | little precious | source | source

I also want to spend some time this weekend creating a horizontal nav bar because I realized I don't stick around on a blog for very long if they don't  have a good About Me tab. I also want to find another blog design or figure out how to make my own. If you  have any links to any tutorials, please share!

Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

why i will be useless in the zombie apocalypse

So, like many people, I enjoy The Walking Dead. The general badassery of Rick and his crew keep me entertained and I love the scenes where they kill a bunch of walkers. But sometimes, they have to show a scene where the Prison Gang is just getting by - Carol doing the laundry, Hershel doing something medical, and the singing daughter whose name isn't important taking care of the baby. These scenes make me wonder - what role would I play in the zombie apocalypse?

(Is it normal to think these thoughts?)

(And why is Andrea so dumb?)

(Said thoughts also apply to NBC's Revolution. Can't believe they took it off the air for this long. Do I even care about it anymore?)

I have already established that I don't cook. Blood makes me squirm. And, if I were told to keep watch, I would probably run screaming every time the wind blew. Laundry - eh, I would do it, but is that enough to earn my keep? So, I have been thinking about it, and I have tried to come up with some roles I could play should zombies ever take over.

- Stuff-Haver. People would let me into their group due to the sheer amount of stuff I had at my disposal when the world changed. In my purse or in my car on any given day I have bandaids, water, some kind of food or snack, a flashlight, Advil, and Claritin. Perhaps my supply advantage would win me a space in a group?

- Chief Sleeper. Some people can't sleep in times of crisis. I can sleep anywhere, anytime. Maybe my awesome slumbering abilities would influence others to rest when needed (not likely, but I'm working with what I got).

- Group Troubador - When the zombies are at bay and we needed some entertainment, the group could call on me to sing them a fun song. I could cover Madonna or Britney or better yet, make up a song about the personalities in the group. Keep in mind, I can't carry a tune, but I love to rhyme so maybe my creativity could outweigh my lack of skills?

With these as my only options, I am feeling pretty useless. What should my angle be? What skills could you bring to the zombie apocalypse?



(Yes, these are the things I think of while stuck in Houston traffic.)

(No, I do NOT think a zombie apocalypse is going to happen, for the record!)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

a day in the life - event planning

Whenever I tell people that I plan events for a living, they always say something like "Wow! That sounds fun!" and I usually reply with "Oh yes, it is..." except sometimes, when it's not. Like when it's budget headaches, wanting people to ACT FASTER, waiting for permission to proceed, getting criticized because the food/invitations/food/music/food/timeline/food wasn't right (can you tell people love to complain talk about food?). So, before you go and start thinking this is a dream career, I want to let you know what it's really like, both on an office day (Rules! Paperwork!) and on an event day (Fun! Stress!).

My desk, on any given day. That is actually pretty neat.

Let me also say that academic event planning is a lot different from wedding planning or social event planning. I used to think that I wanted to plan weddings, but working in higher ed means that I work normal hours, few nights and weekends, and my paycheck is steady. Plus, no Bridezillas. This is just my take on working in academia, which is the only events job I have ever had.

I work 8:00 - 4:30, which is great. I have different, sometimes boring office tasks to do each day, from menu planning, filling out purchase order requests, submitting room set-up diagrams, ordering drinks, paying invoices, researching upcoming projects, creating timelines, getting contracts signed, zzzzzz. See, no glamour, but all completely necessary. I plan everything from weekly lunch meetings for 30 to Graduation for 300 to a 48-school competition at the end of this month with four receptions, two cash prizes, and over 100 alumni judges. But, all of my events require similar paperwork.

Last week I edited the program for said competition. This was before I realized that this schedule wasn't typeset correctly and had to adjust everything.

Event days are my favorite days. Some events, like the Receptions that follow Board of Directors' Meetings, are always the same - catered appetizers, takeaway desserts, and cocktail tables. Other times, like last week, I get something more fun to plan - a retirement party. For this one, I spoke with the woman retiring about six weeks before the party and learned that she loves to travel. So, I centered the party around that. My coworkers thought I was a little crazy when I started asking them to bring in souvenirs and Houston Texans memorabilia, but I was really able to make my vision come together to create centerpieces for the event (Remember, higher ed means that every dollar spent is student tuition money, so I have to pay special attention to budgets and can't really spend a lot on decor). And now, perhaps, my blog moniker makes a bit more sense.

{Click to enlarge}
Each table had a fun fact about why the place was significant and blank "postcards" for guests to fill out.
Houston Texans | Galveston Mardi Gas | Cruise | Las Vegas | NYC | Hawaii | Elephants (she collected them) | San Antonio


So, on this event day, my day went as follows:

8:00 - Arrive at Kroger to pick up flowers.
8:45 - Arrive at work. Make two trips (1/2 block each) to get all flowers from my car.
9:00 - Change into flats, throw hair in ponytail. Shove all flowers into vases. The hydrangeas are already wilting!
9:30 - Conference call with a vendor about a completely different event. Try to obtain free parking for guests attending the day's party (takes some crafty emailing).
10:00 - Begin flower arranging in the breakroom. I needed 9 table arrangements, plus one large arrangement to go in the Waterford vase given as a retirement gift. Answer about a thousand questions about what I'm doing even though a reminder email about the party went out that morning.
12:00 - Finally done with all the damn flowers. Clean up water from the breakroom tables so people can eat their lunches. 
12:15 - Transport all of the collected centerpiece stuff and flowers up to the room where the event will be.
12:30 - Unload and begin placing everything where I wanted it to go. Panic because there's not enough stuff for the New York table! Run around large conference room until I'm satisfied.
1:15 - Caterer arrives. I mildly offend him by saying that the quotes around "Happy Retirement" remind me of Cakewrecks.com (Notice I hadn't eaten yet. I blame low blood sugar).
1:30 - Find more NYC and elephants through friends in the building. Sit at desk and consume as many crackers as possible while checking the emails that have piled up for the day. Call coworker from my cell to discuss another event so I don't have to be stuck in one place. Put all "fun facts" in frames only to realize Hawaii is missing! Panic! But our graphic designer saves the day by printing a new one. Drink a diet coke. Caffeine is the answer.
2:30 - Grab the corsage for the guest of honor - don't want to forget that like I did at the last retirement. Turn music on the '60s station, per her request, and stalk her until she identifies her friends and relatives who have joined us so they can be acknowledged  Take photos of all tables for bloggy purposes, but forget the Law Library table, oops.
3:00 - Party time. Heels back on. Sit awkwardly. People did come up to comment on the decor, so that was nice!
3:45 - Speeches! So glad I don't have to make one - I just had to make sure the mic was on and the gift was in place.
4:00 - Finally sit and eat something since I am pretty sure the guests have been fed. Wow, I am a good order-er. Either that or I'm starving.
4:30 - Most guests have left, so the guest of honor wants to leave to hang out with her friends. I start cleaning up, and luckily one of my suitemates offers to help.
5:15 - Return to office with a cart of decor and leftover food. I shoved the stuff in my office and the food in the staff refrigerator.
6:00 - Finally leave for the day - the best kind of exhausted!

The cake. It's nice, but not what I envisioned, and I didn't like the quotes!

So, I hope this gives you a peek behind the scenes of what event planning is like. Lots of work, some creativity, willingness to adjust at the last minute (I am TERRIBLE at that), and tons of attention to detail. Is it what you thought it was? Let me know. I love talking events of any kind!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

food for thought: the top 100 restaurants in Houston

I promise, this isn't going to be a blog with posts solely pertaining to link-ups, but as this is the first Taste of Tuesday, I wanted to take part because as I have already said, I really like to talk about food.



A post isn't much of a post without photos, but I didn't plan this too well, so you'll have to bear with me...

In June, Alison Cook, the Houston Chronicle's food critic, put out her list of Top 100 Restaurants in Houston. My husband and I were pretty happy to see it. Finally, a tangible list that could point us somewhere good when we wanted to try something new. We poured over it, looked at all the photos, and compared numbers (at the time of publication, I think mine was higher than his... now I think we are about even). I can't even imagine the amount of time and effort put into this list. It contains everything from fine dining to food trucks, hole in the wall ethnic places to experimental, first-of-its-kind-in-the-city places. As much as I like to go out in this city, I can only say that I have been to 29 on this list. I want to highlight a few of my favorites and show the diversity not only of the list, but of the City.

43) The Burger Guys: I could talk about this place forever. How one of the chefs is a Giants fan and now knows us by sight. How the bun has the perfect sweetness and doesn't get soggy until you are almost done with your burger. The bacon is thick, the fries are cooked in duck fat, and the ketchup is made with balsamic vinegar and I want to eat it on everything. The Cafe Sua Da milkshake is also to die for, but I never have room for it. I think the Westchase location is better than the one downtown, but the same menu is served at both and it's worth the drive no matter where you are.


Why yes, I did have pics of a Burger Guys meal saved on my phone. Is that not normal?

6) Underbelly: Andrew's current favorite in Houston (for what it's worth, mine is Pass & Provisions, which was too new at the time the list came out to be considered). It's hard to explain this place. We are planning to go later this month so I will make sure I say something about it then. The portions are small and the options are varied. We usually end up getting some kind of roast. Last time we were there, there was a charred green onion butter with sourdough bread that I am still dreaming of. It is a great place to take people who are new in town- there is a little bit of everything, and all plates are meant to be shared.

12) Melange Creperie: Normally found in the parking lot of a coffee shop in Montrose or at a farmer's market, this isn't a restaurant but a stand. Buffalo Sean, it's proprietor, is one of the friendliest food guys I've ever come across. He skillfully makes perfect crepes while chatting with patrons in line, taking money, and taking the orders of the next three people. The long line at the City Hall Farmer's Market is well worth it for whatever the weekly special is. As much as I love Nutella, I have yet to try one of their Nutella crepes because the savory options are always too appealing.

94) Alicia's Tex Mex: This is a chain only found in Houston, and when one opened in Katy last summer, I insisted that we go. I love Lupe's and Pappasito's. but after seeing Alicia's on the list, I had to try it. I am so glad we did. They have $3 margaritas before 7pm, which would be a reason to go, even if the food was terrible. I always get the El Presidente, which is a mushroom enchilada, chicken taco al carbon, and rice and beans, and I like it so much, I have only strayed once to get fajitas. Andrew always gets the dish that Cook recommends, the Puntas Chimino, and has only finished the entire thing once. It tastes even better the next day. We can get a round of drinks and dinner for around $30 - not a bad deal.

1) Oxheart - I shared my thoughts on that previously here. It was a great meal, but I don't give it my top spot.

There is so much more I could say about these places. About how Himalaya is a hole in the wall and the owner's cluttered desk sits alongside the tables in the dining room. About how Bernie's Burger Bus made me want to stalk every food truck in the city. How I ate squid ink at Uchi, the best brunch of my life at Quattro, and tried oysters for the first time at Gilhooley's. But those are other posts, for other Tuesdays. I'll make sure to bring my camera.

Does your city have a list like this? If you're in Houston, have you seen this list? What's your number, and what are your favorites?

Monday, March 4, 2013

pretty sure I should go to the gym every day this week

The past few weekends, A and I have been trying to be good and not spend so much money on going out to eat. This weekend, I think we were finally tired of marathoning Shameless (we are now all caught up) and eating at home, so we went a little nuts. I decided to link up my weekend this week.


Friday:
I got off work early and went to Bering's. If you live in Houston and have never been, you need to go. It is a little pricey on some things, but a great place for inspiration or unique pieces to finish a space.

(I want to decorate with pigs in our future house's breakfast nook)
Pig cutting board - $28 | 3D Cookie Cutters - $12 | Spoon Bowl (foreground) - #70 | Pig Soup Tureen $37.50 (clearance - saw the same thing at a shop in Fredericksburg for $70)


Picked A up from work (yay carpooling!) and we had dinner at Beaver's (near Midtown). I wasn't super impressed with the food, but I think it would be a good spot for catching up with friends over drinks. We also had a really cute visitor try to get our leftovers.

No pictures, please. Just some leftover fried pickles, if you don't mind.

I always fall asleep crazy-early on Fridays so we decided to try Cloud Cafe near our house for coffee. It wasn't the best, but I would give it another shot.

Saturday:

 A had an eye doctor appointment so I went shopping while he was there. I didn't have time to try things on, but I did spend a lot of time at Old Navy. I usually don't like to buy from them because I think the quality is poor, but I may have to change my attitude.

His eyes were dilated after the appointment so we went out for Thai and then home so he would be out of the sun. I started teasing him that he should plan a date for me.

He was on a quest for GOOD ice cream and saw that a coffee place in the Energy Corridor was supposed to have ice cream from Cloud 10 Creamery so we had dinner at Beck's Prime and then went for coffee and dessert... only to have the place no longer carry Cloud 10. But, we stayed and drank our coffee and I tried to livetweet a couple's first date.

We went to see Side Effects that night. I didn't really like the way the story was told and I fell asleep through a lot of it (I am NOTORIOUS for this and I really hate it). The end was pretty good, though, and Channing Tatum didn't hurt things.


Sunday:
We decided to go out for brunch (yes, I know, gluttons). It was somewhere that I really wanted to like, but I wasn't impressed by it so I am going to wait until I go there again before calling them out. Then we ran errands. We bought a harness for Duncan, our 65 lb-but-thinks-he's-a-lapdog boxer mix, and I took him for a nice, long walk. As I tried to get him in the backyard, he broke the harness somehow and went running down the street. It was awesome (But not. I had to call Andrew to bring the car to get us.).



We ended the night eating dinner at home and watching The Walking Dead. I also spent some time trying to figure out how to make a navigation  bar, and I think I found a great tutorial, but if anyone has any tips, please share!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday Social - my first

I decided to link up for Sunday Social this week. I'm not sure if I want to do it every week, but this week, it really appealed to me so here we go...

Sunday Social

5 Songs you'll listen to the rest of your life
1) With or Without You - U2 (never gets old!)
2) Got To Get You Into My Life - The Beatles (not a #1 but one of my favorites)
3) You & Me - Dave Matthews Band (our wedding song)
4) You and I Both - Jason Mraz ("It's okay if you have to go away, just remember the telephone, well it works both ways" something about that line gets me).
5) Tiny Dancer - Elton John (my dad made a slideshow of family photos to this when I was in high school and I have loved it since).

5 Things on your bucket list (this was the hardest question for me)
1) Visit Napa
2) Go parasailing
3) Visit Europe
4) See U2 in concert
5) Plan a celebrity event (or at least one that would make a celebrity proud!)

5 Celebs you'd love to hang out with for a day
1) The sitting president. Let's not get political here, but I think it would be really interesting to see what a president's life is like.
2) Jennifer Lawrence (doesn't she seem fun?)
3) Oprah (seriously, all that cash?)
4) Kate Middleton (Hello, Princess)
5) Katy Perry (she also seems like she would be tons of fun)

5 Things you always carry in your purse
1) Chapstick (at least two varieties)
2) Claritin
3) Gum (I think it is hideous to chew gum but I can't stop!)
4) My dorky "I heart Andrew" flip flop keychain that my cousin bought me when we first started dating. Pretty sure it was designed for middle schoolers but I'm attached to it now.
5) Starbucks gold card

5 Books on your reading list
1) Defending Jacob (Andrew read it and thinks I will like it)
2) The pile of Entertainment Weeklys on my coffee table (there are so many, it might as well be a book)
3) Bossypants
4) The Giver series. (The Giver was my favorite book in elementary school and I just recently learned that a few other books were written that continue the story.)
5) The Fault in Our Stars. (I have heard it was good but also that it was kind of sappy so it's at the bottom of the list).

5 Share the last 5 pictures on your phone

Bauer taking up half the couch


Duncan and I on a walk. The harness broke as I brought him back to the yard so I had to chase him down the street. So fun.

 Tried to use Bauer as a pillow, but he didn't like that.


Sunday Brunch - cappucino with pancakes filled with blueberries and bacon at Eatsie Boys

Drinks at Beaver's on Friday Night



Friday, March 1, 2013

High Five for Friday: Vol. 4

Wow, I never realized how amazing link-ups are for meeting new people! If you are coming to visit me from From My Grey Desk, thank you for stopping by!

So we're staring Friday in the face again. YAY. Here's what helped me through the past week:

1) Green smoothies. I decided to jump on the bandwagon and y'all, people aren't lying- they ARE good and you CAN'T taste the spinach! I have been using a cut banana, several cut strawberries, honey vanilla yogurt, and a handful of spinach. Blend til smooth, refrigerate overnight if you aren't a morning person, and drink on your way to work the next day. So easy and lots of vitamins.

Before and after. And I know you are jealous of my 1980s laminate countertops. Moving is definitely in our future!

2) Flowers! I stopped and bought a ton for a retirement party at work on Wednesday and I am enjoying some of the leftovers on my desk. If you're interested in what event planning is really like, I want to do a "day in the life" post next week!

Front seat floor and back seat floor... I took a lot of Kroger's inventory that morning.

3) PB&J. I went through at least ten years of life saying that I hated PB&J because I hated jelly. Sometime in the past seven years I decided to try it again and I weirdly love it and crave it. Nothing says professional like making PB&J with a plastic knife at your desk.

Just keeping the good stuff at my desk...

4) Amazing weather. Texas is hot, y'all. People were wearing shorts and doing their Christmas shopping this year. This week has been L-O-V-E-L-Y and I am looking forward to spending some time outside this weekend playing with the dog or brunching on a patio.

Unreal.

5) New Girl. Seriously, I love this show and I would gladly move in with Nick, Jess, Schmidt, and Winston and learn to play True American. It took a while to grow on me but now it's one of the few things that my husband and I actually watch the night it comes on.

There's my five... what are yours? Have a great weekend!