Wednesday, July 31, 2013

mwf seeking bff: my thoughts

Okay so you are probably tired of hearing me singing the praises of MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche, so let me try to get all of my thoughts out at once and then I never have to speak of it again (unless you read it and then we can email incessantly about it).

To put it simply, I loved this book. I loved sociology in college and this book juxtaposed the author's girl-dates with research that backed up things that she experienced. There were so many things I read in the book that made me say "YES!" because it was exactly what I needed to read right now.

For some backstory - I don't think I'm an unfriendly jerk, merely a victim of circumstance. I went to a commuter college, so I didn't really make lasting friends there. I worked in radio and my co-workers were my friends. After I left that radio station, those friendships didn't last. The same thing happened at my first real job - we weren't really friends outside of the office. Now, I have work friends who I hope I will stay close to beyond our time at our company and a few other friends from other places, but I don't have that core group that it seems like everyone else has. I'm seeking some additional BFFs, same as the author in the book.

Adult friendship is tricky. If there's a match.com for it, I haven't heard of it. The author points out that it's perfectly normal for women to find a date online or asked to be set-up. As a society, we are totally okay with it. Why aren't we okay with saying "Hey, I need some female companionship, do you know anyone?" We're worried about being labeled as losers or seen as weird, and we shouldn't be. There's nothing wrong with wanting to expand your social circle. The author talks about Dunbar's number, which is 150. The 150 is an approximation of the number of people with whom one person can maintain stable relationships. Now, I haven't taken out a pen and made a list, but I think I am short of my 150. I can definitely work on building relationships with a few more people.
Oprah and Gayle. I love that they are always there for one another in the public eye.

Bertsche starts her quest looking for a new BFF, which to her is someone she can call with anything at any time to be there for her. She comes to realize that as an adult, that's not plausible. We all have other commitments that may keep us from dropping everything to run to brunch on a whim. What I took from the book is that we all can use friends that fill particular niches- the party friend, the artsy friend, the couples friend, the advice friend, etc. One of my favorite friends is a mom of three, so I can't expect her to go have drinks with me at the last second; however, if I wanted advice, she's the first one I could call. If a friend can fill multiple niches, that's awesome, but we shouldn't go into friendship expecting to create the same relationship that we might have with a best friend since childhood; it just isn't going to happen that way anymore. And that's okay, y'all. Let's grow and adapt together, shall we?

Tina and Amy. I would love to read their texts to one another. I bet they're hilarious!

So I guess basically after you realize your friend "needs," it's time to go meet people. The author was brave in asserting herself in different situations and basically asked out everyone from friends of friends to a waitress at a restaurant. I'm not that brave, but I like the encouragement to be friendlier. She points out that even if a person has too much going on and doesn't have room to cultivate a new friendship they would probably be flattered by your offer to want to get to know them. This really struck me; I mean, let's be honest, the blogging world has taught us that comments are the sincerest form of flattery. If someone takes it a step further and wants to continue our email chats, gchat, text, meet, whatever? I am completely flattered - it's like you want to be friends with me. I know how I feel, but I never considered how another woman would take it. It would make you feel pretty good about yourself, right? It was very reassuring and something great to remember in the future.

Courteney and Jennifer. These two have been through so much and together I bet they know all the best gossip in Hollywood.

When you find someone you want to befriend and you get together, you need to see if you "click." We've all felt that spark with someone where the conversation flows easily and you don't feel forced. I have been known to be awkward, so I have been in situations where the conversation didn't flow and I wondered what I did after the fact to make it so weird. The book basically tells you - hey, it's okay, it happens to everyone. It was something I had never considered too seriously before (I mean, blaming myself comes naturally) so the reassurance that not everyone clicks all the time made me feel better. It doesn't make either of us boring or unfriend-able; we just aren't meant to be.

Ben and Matt. Guys need BFFs too.

To make a new friend, the author says that you have to "date" your friends. Not in a weird way, but you have to work to cultivate the relationship. Focus on what you have in common, make plans to see one another, and follow through. It's very basic but something that I know I take for granted. Everyone loves the kind of friend that you can see once or twice a year and pick right back up where you last left, but who can't use a friend that you can text a pic to while you're in the dressing room? I tend to be bad about making plans in advance so this is a good reminder that it's a necessary step in making (and keeping!) new BFFs.

Beyonce and Gwyneth. Think they'll let me be their third BFF?

Something I've learned since starting to blog is that many of us are seeking additional female relationships. A lot of people are new in town or have grown apart from childhood friends. We all want as much positivity as is realistic on our blogs and saying that life is lonely sometimes isn't really cool. Blogging is awesome because you can gravitate toward people who are in the same place you are without being outwardly mean to those who aren't. So if you're reading this, here are my tips to building blog relationships: 1) Make sure you aren't a no-reply comment blogger. If you never receive comments back from the blogs you leave comments on, you probably are, and that's not good. Comment with your email address and I'll help you out! 2) When commenting on other blogs with a blogger you want to get to know, say something open-ended or ask a question. The blogger is likely to open up more in her response and that gives you a chance to continue the conversation. 3) Quantity breeds quality! Some bloggers may be working hard to keep their blog running and keep up with their family/friends/job, etc. and a new blogger BFF may not be feasible right now. Cast a wide net and you will probably make some great blogger friends and many more blog acquaintances, both of which are better than just reading blogs and not joining the conversation!

There were so many things I loved about this book! If I would have bought my own copy before Rachelle loaned it to me, I would have highlighted and dogeared many, many pages and written even more about it. But since I am still working to cultivate our friendship, I will give it back to her in tact.

What do you think of these points? How have you made friends as an adult? What friendship niche do you think you fill? If you read the book, let's talk about it!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

taste of tuesday: butterscotch parfait pie

Awhile ago, I answered questions in a Liebster Award post about cooking and mentioned a butterscotch parfait pie I liked making and a few people wanted to know more about it. Well, I kept that tucked away until I felt like spending some time in the kitchen. This recipe takes forever to make but it is delicious and SO worth it! The recipe can be found here but I have copied it below and added my commentary in blue since I am obviously a culinary expert whose opinion you need!




Mile High Butterscotch Parfait Pie

Ingredients

Crust:
25 graham crackers (broken into pieces) or 3 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs Crumbs for the win. You'll use a little less than one package!
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)


Butterscotch Pudding:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 1/4 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water, plus 1/4 cup
1 package powdered unflavored gelatin, about 2 1/2 teaspoons
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup packed cornstarch


Chocolate Ganache:
6 ounces quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped I completely forgot to chop the chocolate but I used the thin Ghiradelli bars (which I prefer and were also cheaper than the Bakers brand) and it luckily worked just fine.
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Mousse:
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped I did chop this
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chilled heavy cream, divided
2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy 
We were out of brandy and I made this on a Sunday. It didn't affect the taste, though.
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar


Top of the Parfait:
1 cup chilled heavy cream
2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
Dark chocolate curls The topping tastes too milky for me so I normally add in powdered sugar to taste.


Equipment: a 9 by 3 1/2-inch spring form pan To avoid using a ton of dishes, I kept reusing and re-rinsing bowls, measuring cups, and measuring spoons! The pie is very tall and I had pudding and mousse leftover so you may want to consider a 10" pan.


Directions
To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Pulse the graham crackers and brown sugar in a food processor to a fine crumb. Melt the butter in a small saucepan (who are we kidding? I microwaved it), add it to the crumb mixture, and pulse until just combined. Pour the mixture into the spring form pan and press it firmly along the bottom and all the way up the sides of the pan to make an even crust. Bake until the crust browns, about 15 minutes. Cool and refrigerate while making the pudding.

To make the pudding: In a small medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the dark brown sugar and cook, stirring, until melted and bubbly. Gradually add in the heavy cream and stir over low heat until the butterscotch is dissolved. Whisk in the milk and salt. Remove from the heat and set aside until lukewarm. Pour the 2 tablespoons of water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top, do not stir. Set aside to let the gelatin bloom.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and the remaining 1/4 cup water. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the butterscotch mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until the mixture thickens. It won't get that thick - just a little thicker. Reduce the heat to low; stir briskly, and bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Cover the surface of the pudding with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator while you make the ganache. I let the pudding sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before pouring it into the crust.



Pie ingredients | Pudding pre-simmer | with the plastic wrap attached

To make the Ganache: Put the 6 ounces of chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and butter to a boil over high heat. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate; set it aside for 5 minutes before whisking until smooth.

Pour the chocolate ganache into the chilled crust; then swirl the pan so the ganache evenly covers the sides and bottom of the crust. Set the crust aside at room temperature while you make the chocolate mousse. Swirling has never worked for me but the back of a spoon has. Just don't press too hard. 

To make the Mousse: Put the 8 ounces of chocolate in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of the cream, the brandy, and vanilla to a boil over medium high heat. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate; set it aside for 5 minutes before whisking until smooth. Cool the chocolate mixture to room temperature, whisking occasionally.

In a large bowl, beat the remaining 1 1/2 cups cream until it holds a soft peak. Sift the sugar over the cream, and continue beating until slightly thicker; take care not to over whip the cream. Fold a third of the whipped cream into the chocolate to lighten the mixture. Fold in the remaining cream.



Ingredients with my trusty iPad | proof that I chopped the chocolate | finished mousse

To assemble the Parfait Pie: Pour the pudding into the prepared crust and smooth the top with a spatula. Pour the chocolate mousse on top of the pudding, smooth the top if needed. Refrigerate until set, about 6 hours. In a medium bowl whip the cream and brandy until it holds a soft peak. Don't overwhip. I did, but it still tastes good! Spoon dollops of the whipped cream over the chocolate to cover and decorate with the chocolate shavings. Carefully remove the spring form ring. Transfer the Parfait Pie to a cake stand and serve. Cut with a warm serrated knife.


All the necessary ingredients and then each layer



And after about two hours, you're done! It's delicious and perfect for sharing. Cut the slices small because the ganache makes it super-rich. Trust me.





Do you like butterscotch? Ever made pudding from scratch? Can you believe I spent all this time making a pie? All in the name of blogging...


Proof that it lives up to its name of Mile High Parfait Pie!


Linking up with Ashley and Jessica!


Monday, July 29, 2013

day drinking and domesticity

When you go to bed Sunday night already looking forward to the upcoming weekend, you know you had a pretty busy weekend!

Friday we made dinner and went grocery shopping. So exciting, right? We had to go to the store then so Andrew could smoke a brisket all day Saturday. He is getting better and better each time. I got up early and headed to the gym. I was really proud of myself for running (I use the term loosely - there were many, many walk breaks!) three miles in less time than I had planned. I ate a Kind bar with protein beforehand and I didn't get nearly as tired as I get without breakfast. Those are keepers, for sure.

I ran into the kitchen yelling when I realized he was cutting it without letting me take a pic.
If you follow on Instagram, you've already seen this. If you don't, why not? Laurenm10.

Sara and I have been emailing lately and we made plans to meet at Beaver's for lunch and drinks. I got there, we started chatting over a round of Moscow Mules, and before I knew it, three hours passed! We covered everything from husbands to jobs to blogs to in-laws to food and everything in between. She is so fun and we are so different (seriously, she is like the cool girl who would intimidate me if she weren't so nice!) and I am so glad that we seemed to hit it off really well. I mean, if we didn't, surely one of us would have faked an emergency to leave after an hour, right?



 The rest of my weekend will be detailed in future blog posts because I spent tons of time in the kitchen. Cooking by myself. I know, you're shocked, but don't worry, I documented it to share with you starting tomorrow. So I'll give you some bulleted highlights:
  • Scored an awesome deal on a dog bed that Duncan will just chew up anyway - $12 at HEB.
  • I learned Yellowtail Moscato isn't that bad... but it still isn't a favorite.
  • The handyman finished all the work on the house so we are one step closer to listing this thing (even though he didn't leave til after 8:00 so we had a boring Saturday night).
  • Cleaned up in my closet and got rid of stuff I have been hanging on to for no real reason. I am such a packrat sometimes!
If the KitchenAid comes out then I mean business.

Pretty boring (minus my blog friend meet-up) weekend. No TV was watched and the photos didn't get sorted. I'm hoping for a more exciting week! How was your weekend? 

Sami's Shenanigans




Friday, July 26, 2013

what to pay attention to on ESPN when you don't love sports

So I've already told you about how my husband's love for the New York Giants rubbed off on  me and I am now drinking the blue kool-aid. Even when it's not football season, our TV is on SportsCenter all.the.time. I can tune it out most of the time, but I have learned that ESPN can provide more entertainment than I ever thought possible.

The Faux-Drama: when big sports stories break, they send their poor reporters to camp outside an athlete's house for days searching for non-news. Looking at these poor people who are used to sitting behind a desk with a script struggling to find something new to say leaves me in awe. Like when Aaron Hernandez was still a suspect in murders and no news was coming out? These guys made every segment look like a breaking story.

Via. What were y'all expecting, him to come out and confess?

Mike and Mike in the Morning: One is a journalist, the other a former football player, and they run ESPN's morning radio show, which is also televised. They have ridiculous bets every year during March Madness in which the loser has to do something humiliating (this year they had to learn and perform a Dancing with the Stars routine) so even if you don't know who they are, they are highly entertaining. Andrew and I both read Mike Greenberg's first book, Why My Wife Thinks I'm an Idiot (ladies, if your significant other is a sports fan and you don't get him, it's worth a read. I really liked it!) and his second book is a novel about a woman with cancer and all profits are going to cancer research. Just hearing all of that, don't you want to like these guys already?


Heart-tugging stories: OMG ESPN, I completely cannot stand Rascal Flatts' "My Wish" but when I hear it on your network, I know I am going to see a burly athlete playing catch with a sweet child with cancer and the waterworks start flowing. And then they get autographs and tickets to the game and to go in the locker room too? It is always so precious. And Outside the Lines - the recent episode about the wrestlers where one had no legs and his legally blind teammate carried him and you followed up with them? Amazing. And don't even get me started on the July 4th Soldiers Coming Home Tribute which had me bawling like a baby. I can't even... ESPN brings me to tears regularly with some really great stories.

 SportsCenter Commercials: They are often hilarious and if you don't watch ESPN, you don't see them. They are laugh out loud, rewind the DVR funny. This old one with the Manning brothers is a favorite of mine.


The Jimmy V Speech: ESPN works closely with the Jimmy V Foundation which was named for former NC State Basketball coach Jim Valvano, who died of cancer. After his diagnosis but before his passing, he was awarded an ESPY and his speech was completely amazing. There is always a Jimmy V week on ESPN where they replay the speech multiple times and it is so, so good, not just from a humanity standpoint (the man was dying! He doesn't care that his speech is running long, he has a message to leave!) and from a speechwriting standpoint (hi, I'm Lauren and sometimes I'm still a communication nerd). Watch it. Again, with tissues. But hey, the main point of his speech was to take time every day to laugh, to think, and to cry. I am just really helping you out with the crying part today.


See? If you thought ESPN was all stats and analysis, it definitely is sometimes, but it can be so much more. I love the humanity that it brings to athletes, especially famous ones. For a network whose audience is more male than female, they definitely know how to get you feeling emotional. Do you watch ESPN? Do you like this stuff as much as I do?

Linking up today...
Venus Trapped in Mars

Thursday, July 25, 2013

currently on a thursday

Last night I didn't get home from work because I was proctoring an exam (extra easy money, so I can't complain) and I didn't carpool with Andrew today (he may have to work late) so no post automatically posted this morning at 7 a.m. And being that my sweet husband is my #1 blog supporter and that he brought me flowers this week "for being the best girl," I figured I would do what I could to have a short post for today. I opened up Bloglovin for inspiration and was drawn to my friend Heidi's Currently post which I read and she linked to me because we are destined to be BFFs she's awesome so I knew it was meant to be that I post like her. So  here goes...

Currently...

Reading: While I was proctoring last night I finished MWF Seeking BFF and I basically want you all to read it so we can talk about how great it is. Or you can call me a sad, lonely loser, but based on the author's research, you won't. Full thoughts posted next week for sure.

Writing: Mentally composing a few posts as well as an email I want to send later today.

Listening: The Avett Brothers on Spotify

Thinking: About perspective. We joke about first world problems a lot, but I am trying really hard to keep my complaints in check. Did I work late last night? Yes, but it was by choice. I sat in an air conditioned room and read for a few hours and made extra money. Other people work much longer and harder for much less. Things like that.

So true this morning. Source.

Wearing: A maxi dress and cardigan. We have a few more weeks of relaxed summer dress before going back to business attire and I am taking advantage!

Eating: Drinking creme brulee coffee and dreaming of the yummy lunch I am going on with coworkers today!

Loving: Having no plans for the weekend. I want to pick back up on marathoning Friday Night Lights, sort the hundreds of photos still sitting in my living room, and find a yummy recipe to make to accompany the brisket that Andrew is going to smoke.

Source. I love Landry.

Hating: The current state of my house. We are going to have to do some landscaping on our own (which didn't work so well when I tried a few years ago) and there is still a huge section of exposed foundation in our hall/bedroom. Hopefully everything will be approved for us to get new flooring in like, half our house next week!

Feeling: Like today's going to be a good day. Bring it, Thursday!

This has nothing to do with anything except Bauer looks like he's having a good day, no?

How are you doing currently? Did you watch FNL? I'm at the season after Smash graduated where Saracen has been replaced by a different QB so I have a ways to go before I finish the series...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

you mean I have to write in this thing?

I got sucked into the blog world with promises of new BFFs and the possibility of free stuff. So I signed up for blogger, got the guts to comment on other blogs, and then stared at the blinking cursor wondering what on Earth I could talk about that someone would want to read.

And nearly six months later, I still wonder that, pretty much all the time. But I have some go-to's that have really helped me when I get stuck in a blogging rut.

1) Something that happened. We all have a story. I personally don't follow many niche blogs and I prefer to see a slice of your life every few days. Weekend recaps and Five on Fridays are great for that if nothing amazing that warrants its own post has happened lately.

2) Link-ups. I am a sucker for a good link-up. You give me a topic plus help point people to my blog? SOLD! But all link-ups all the time? Boring. I try to pick and choose, personally, or if I am going to do several in one week, I try to at least mix it up.

Venus Trapped in Mars
Um, duh. Today's linkup was a no-brainer! Linking up with Sarah and Helene.

3) Something borrowed, something new. Other blogs are a great resource for content. Should you copy? Never ever ever. Is it okay to post a similar experience and give credit where it's due? I would think so. Amy's cute post about her travel in 2013 made me realize that I have seen a lot this year too, so I have considered a post like it. I also loved Steph's post about the ways in which her husband finds her predictable. I have blog friendships with both of these ladies and I think if I sent them a quick "Hey, do you mind if I..." email, they might not mind. You can also put your own spin on it - list restaurants, concerts, dates, etc. for 2013 instead of travel, or ask your real life BFF how you're predictable.

My first trip in 2013 was to Chicago so of course I had to be a total tourist at the Bean.

4) Lists. I have never seen as many lists as I have now that I'm in the blog world. Bloggers love lists. Have some disjointed tidbits? Find a way to link them in a clever list and BOOM, instant blog post. My weekend was boring last weekend, but instead of telling you that, I presented it in list form as to why it was actually secretly great. Clever.

5) Fun stories that happened (gasp) pre-blogging. I had a life before February 2013 when I started my blog. I've told you about how I met my husband, the time I got fired, and a little about planning my wedding. But there's more! What about seeing Sir Paul McCartney in concert? All of my trips to Las Vegas? Trying out for Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Adopting Bauer BooBoo? Believe me, I am going to get as creative as I can to make these into legit blog posts that don't make me look like I'm living in the past. (Pssst... Bauer's 5th birthday is in a few weeks so maybe I already have that post mentally written).



Some great advice that I got at my first blogger meet-up? The posts that you work really hard on and think will resonate with people will get no comments and the posts that you throw together about something you got from Target's dollar bin will blow up. It's hard to predict these things, so I try really hard not to get bummed when one of my favorite posts has two comments and run with inspiration whenever it strikes. In the end, I need to keep the focus of my blog in mind, which is documenting my life right now, and anyone who actually cares enough to both read what I'm saying AND leave a sweet comment just enhances the experience.

So, what inspires your blog posts?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

soundtrack of my memories

I'm pretty sure that if you are a living, breathing human being with ears you can say that music has played a role in your life. I'm not here today to make any monumental declarations. Sorry bout that.

But there are certain songs... you know the ones... when they come on, you are immediately transported back to the first time you heard them, or at least the first time they ever held meaning to you, and no matter what else happens, you can't shake that first time. They give you chills and for a split second take you to another moment, a moment beyond just thinking about how much you used to love that song. I mean, I am loving "Blurred Lines" like every other person listening to pop music this summer, but will it stand the test of time in my memory? Probably not. But these will.

"Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band / Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you'll marry a music man / Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand" - Elton John, Tiny Dancer

I was in 8th or 9th grade and my dad came to pick me up from my mom's. He had his laptop in his car (which seemed SO high tech at the time) and pressed play on a slideshow of photos of him and his brothers and sisters as kids as the song played. I'm sure I had heard it before, but I never listened. Every time I've heard the song since, I think of my aunt in a tutu as a little girl.

And yes, seeing Almost Famous a few years later helped to cement my love. Let's not talk about the Penny Lane suede coat I had, kay?

"Something in the way she knows / 
And all I have to do is think of her / 
Something in the things she shows me / 
Don't want to leave her now / 
You know I believe and how" - The Beatles, Something





The Perks of Being a Wallflower was my favorite book in high school. I was re-zoned from a school where I had friends who got me to a school where I never quite fit in. I read this book and basically wanted it to be my high school life. The main character, Charlie, hears the song "Something" and vows that he will give his record to the first girl he finds that's as beautiful as the song and I always thought that was a wonderful sentiment. (I haven't seen the movie; I worry that it will affect my affection for the novel). It has always stuck with me and I think of it each time I hear the song.




 I saw Paul McCartney in concert last year and he played this song on ukelele and dedicated it to George Harrison and it was beautiful, but I still prefer the original.

"If I knew all the words I would write myself out of here / If I was all the colors I would paint you pretty in gold in a picture" - Jason Mraz, Zero Percent Interest

If you've read my how we met story, you know that Andrew and I were largely introduced via Instant Messenger. The year was 2006 and he was a huge Jason Mraz fan and I loved Matt Nathanson. We were having a "Who's a better songwriter?" competition and he IMed me these lyrics, which I had never heard before and said something along the lines of "How can you argue with a song like that?" I couldn't. I think he sent me more of the verse but these are the lines I remember and every time I hear this song on a Spotify playlist, I feel fuzzy inside. Seriously, if you were a Jason Mraz fan pre-"I'm Yours," you need to hear this song!

A lesser-known song.

"Am I more than you bargained for yet / I've been dying to tell you anything you want to hear / Cause that's just who I am this week" -  Fall Out Boy, Sugar We're Goin' Down

Oh, College. Growing up and being out on my own with no curfew and access to alcohol. Driving around with no real destination, waiting for a friend with their own place to invite a group over. That's what this song reminds me of. Blaring it in a friend's car where at least four of us sang it at the top of our lungs but it didn't matter because the speakers were turned up as loud as they could go anyway. To me, this song is the carefree part of growing up: old enough to be on my own, but young enough to not yet realize the stress of full-time employment and real bills. 

This song definitely hasn't stood the test of time but I still like it.

Those are just a few songs that make me happy and remind me of one certain moment. What songs make up your soundtrack?

Monday, July 22, 2013

components of a perfect weekend

So as we all know by now, not all weekends are blog-worthy. Some are downright boring. I thought this weekend was one of those, but then I really started thinking about it and realized that this past weekend had nearly every component of what I would call a perfect weekend. I guess just because it isn't blogworthy doesn't make it bad.
1) Exploring my city - There are so many things to see and do (and eat) in Houston. This weekend, Andrew and I wanted to give Hubcap Grill another try. It is yet another restaurant on Alison Cook's Top 100 list and we have been before but weren't hungry that time and so we shared a burger. It gets tons of praise so we went to try it again and... it's just not my favorite. Andrew's either. He did, however, try the sticky burger that has crunchy peanut butter on it and actually liked it. The smell of peanut butter and taste of meat wasn't for me, but he said he would get it again. I got a burger with bleu cheese dressing and we shared the stinky fries with malt vinegar and garlic - that was my favorite part.

Would you try a burger like that?


2) Scratching something off of my to-do list - Am I the only one with tons of things that I want to do but never both time and energy to do them? I have wanted to redesign my blog for a month or two now but I knew that it would take some time (since I am no expert) and finally on Saturday, I started on it. It's nowhere near perfect and I really wish I could figure out how to make the header as white as the background (the image is transparent - tried that already) but it's a start! If anyone wants to offer to provide me with assistance as I go forward, I would be super grateful!

3) Sleep - I love sleep more than I should. A weekend morning where I can sleep til at least 9:00? Perfection in my book. A completely necessary piece of a perfect weekend. And then, even if I have slept in, I can always go for a good nap. On the couch with my kitty and my husband? I call that family nap time. Whether it's twenty minutes or two hours, I wake up feeling so warm and cozy.

4) Breakfast! Extra points if the breakfast in question involves mimosas. This weekend, that wasn't the case - we just opted for a different donut place near the house than the regular - but any breakfast is good breakfast.

5) Good TV - I have probably mentioned my love of Gilmore Girls a time or two. If it's on, I'm probably watching it. This is especially true on weekend afternoons because SoapNet plays at least three episodes a day and I have to watch at least part of one if I'm home for my weekend to feel complete. If I don't get to spend time in Stars Hollow, then time spent watching whatever my current Netflix love of the moment is will work, too.



Bonus - a weekend getaway! I love weekends where we have the chance to go to Austin, Dallas, or even a staycation in Houston, but those can't happen all the time. But any weekend that involves a road trip or a night in a hotel? Definitely my favorite kind.

Even though this weekend was really low-key and I spent way too much time at home for my liking, I guess it really wasn't that bad. What goes into your perfect idea of a weekend?

Linking up as usual...



Sami's Shenanigans

My Beautiful Crazy Life

Friday, July 19, 2013

best week in a long while

This has been a pretty good week, which makes for a pretty good Friday blog post. And who doesn't love that? So let's get to the five best things about the week, day by day for once, shall we?

1) On Monday I got to meet Rachelle from Inner Loop Adventures for lunch. We barely stopped talking for an hour about everything from work to husbands to the things we can't say on our blogs and I definitely did not want to go back to work when we were done! I am so thankful I got to meet her and am looking forward to more lunches (or happy hours, I'm flexible!) in the future.

We didn't take any pics, but Rachelle did loan me this book and I'm pretty much obsessed with it. Full post to come.

2) Tuesday I tried out a new to me class at the gym. Ever heard of BodyCombat? It's by the BodyPump guy but completely different. Basically you spend an hour kicking and punching and jumping to music like there is a ninja by your side attacking you. It was pretty tiring and my arms were still a little sore on Thursday. I don't know that it was my favorite workout, but it was definitely a challenge and a good way to step out of my comfort zone!

I won a blog giveaway for a pair of Powersox so that motivated me to get to the gym. Bauer had to approve them before I could leave, though.

3) I went a little overboard for Andrew's birthday on Wednesday. I didn't know what to get him, so I went through the downtown tunnels for a variety of treats! Plus, a super sweet professor brought me a box of dipped fruit and a gift card as thank you gifts and seriously, it was so nice and unexpected. I am just doing my job but it helped her out a lot and while I would never expect anything extra from any of the faculty (besides a nice email for my file... which she also provided) it was just beyond sweet. Speaking of sweet, there are an abundance of them in our home right now...

4) Thursday I didn't blog because I spent the morning having coffee with a friend, which is always a great way to start the day. (Houston friends, you need to go to River Oaks Donuts and try the filled donut holes... the lemon are heavenly and the cappuccino cream is also so good!). The Emmy nominations also came out, which has me super excited for Fall TV. And Breaking Bad. Vulture.com is doing a Breaking Bad-vent calendar (get it? Like Advent?) that you should check out. I am especially in love with the 9 minute recap below. Don't watch it if you aren't caught up with the series!

 

5) And that brings us to today. We are getting some home repairs done tomorrow so I'm not sure if we will be able to go out and do something fun or not. But, that does give me lots of time to research. Houston friends - are you familiar with Houston Restaurant Weeks? Basically many of the best restaurants in the city create special menus for the month of August through Labor Day and a certain dollar amount from each meal goes to the Houston Food Bank. We explore different restaurants every year and, let's be honest, this is like Christmas in our house. This year we are already eyeing Etoile, Hugo's, and Coppa (which we went to last year with some friends so we may just make that a tradition) but I wouldn't  mind trying at least one brunch. And we are currently saying we are only going to two restaurants, total (let's see if that lasts!). Many other cities have similar programs throughout the year, so definitely google to see if it's offered in your town to dine at a great restaurant for an amazing price and help those in need, too.

How was your week? Try any new workouts or books? Eat a lot? Planning on trying any new restaurants any time soon? Hope you have a great weekend! Linking  up today... if you're stopping by from one of these, please say hello and I'll be sure to return the favor!

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

happy birthday, honey. sorry your party is so lame.

10 points to anyone who gets the reference in the title.

So, today is Andrew's birthday. Happy birthday, Stinky! For some reason I started calling him Stinky a few years ago and it stuck. He showers and everything but I call him that and he's never stopped me. I guess that makes him a pretty good husband.

I'm really not one to get overly mushy in public - the birthday boy would hate that - but here are some reasons I love my husband.

1) He loves Bauer, even though he is in total denial. PROOF!

What's this? Only the sweetest moment ever caught on film in pixels.

2) He pays all the bills on time. Often before they are due. If that were my responsibility, all of the bills would come on festive pink paper if you know what I mean.

3) He keeps me fed. I don't touch raw meat so without him I would live on salads and mac and cheese. Thanks, hon!

In his element... waiting in line at Franklin BBQ.

4) From blogging to work to everything in between, he is super encouraging of my often ridiculous ideas. (Case in point? He proofreads all my blog posts but I won't let him read this one so there's probably a typo.)

5) He pushes me to try new things. TV shows, food, putting myself out there - I don't think I would do the half of it without someone to do it with me or to tell about it as soon as it's over.

Hot and sweaty at Mumford and Sons but he knew I needed a pic of us for the blog!

Happy birthday to my favorite husband! Love you lots!

Do you have ridiculous nicknames for your significant other? A problem paying your bills on time? How many other bloggers don't cook? I know I'm not alone...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

things I forgot

The other day, Andrew and I were talking about saving texts from one another on our phones. Back in the pre-smart phone days, he would delete texts at the end of every day and I kept all of mine for as long as I could... the received ones, at least. Remember how we used to have different options for sent and received texts? I am so spoiled on the conversation layout that I forgot the way things were...

OF COURSE there are a million other things like that in life. Remember when soda started coming in wide mouth cans and that was sooooo innovative? Because I really need help downing my Coke Zero faster. Thanks for that.

My coworkers were saying the other day that they remember when 911 was introduced. You mean Alexander Graham Bell didn't think of that one himself? (Honestly, I had never thought about that until they brought it up!)

I drive a Honda, and the speedometer is digital. I can't remember what it's like to have a dial anymore. Yes, it will be a huge first world problem if I have to go back.

Oh, and let's not forget texting pre-QWERTY keyboard. So tedious... and I was terrible at it!

I have loved TV since I was younger and I remember getting my first VCR. But how often did I forget to set it to record my favorite shows (Dawson's Creek wasn't available to stream online when it originally aired you know)? And then finding a tape that was empty, making sure there was nothing left on it I still needed to watch, and setting the timer correctly? Too much to handle. DVR, I love you. I forgot how annoying the VCR could be.

Forgot to get the source of the phone screen, sorry! | Pre-wide-mouth can | 911 | Non-digital speedometer | Non-QWERTY phone | VCR

I know there are a ton more. What are some things that you forgot?

Monday, July 15, 2013

cheers for my three-day weekend!

I am feeling so, so much better than I was after Friday's post. I think I really just needed to get it out so thanks for your kind words even though I know there are people in way worse situations. It's just frustrating, ya know?

So like I mentioned, I took off work on Friday to hang out with my nieces while they were still in town. I went to my mom's in the morning and heard all about their trip to the circus. Just the three of us went to Chick-fil-a, and as we pulled in the parking lot I saw people dressed as cows and realized that it was "Cow Appreciation Day." The little niece actually had an "Eat More Chikin" shirt at my mom's and had I known, I would have made her wear it! Being that I am cheap I love to make memories with them, I asked them if they wanted to detour to Target to improvise a cow costume. $3 later, we had scissors, tape, and posterboard and sat in the car to cut out cow spots and a cow ear headband. It took awhile and they were hungry, so no spots for me, but they ended up getting free lunch! The older one wouldn't let me take her picture (she was just allowed to get facebook this week and would be mortified if I posted pics), but the little one was super impressed with her headband that I threw together and loved hugging the cow when we got into the restaurant. A day she'll remember for sure, I think!

She is such a ham. I didn't tell her to pose like that.



I took the little one back to my mom's for a nap and the big one and I went to The Chocolate Bar together. It was nice to just have some time to chat with her. We got a little treat and I got some pre-birthday treats for Andrew and I for over the weekend. I hate that I am always feeding them but at least I only see them a few times a year!

Caramel and chocolate covered pretzel stick


I had to bring her back a little something...

 Friday night we waited for three hours for our handyman to come and give us an estimate... and then went to dinner at 9:30. I was more than ready for a margarita and starving so everything was great. But, note to self- suburban restaurants don't really like you when you show up that late. Oops. At least we were done by the time they closed at 10:30.

Yummy yummy Alicia's. Also on the Top 100 List that I reference below...

After getting rid of the industrial fans on Saturday morning (yay!) we cleaned until we were starving in the late afternoon. Andrew wanted to go back to Vieng Thai (which is on the top 100 restaurants in Houston list [which I discuss here]). We've been once, thought it was so-so, but keep hearing rave reviews. They were blaring country music and playing NASCAR inside, but it was BYOB and we brought a bottle of wine, so that helped numb the lack of authenticity. The food was good, even the papaya salad that set my mouth on fire, and I ate plenty, but for some reason the wine hit me. Are you following me on twitter? Because if so, you probably saw my tipsy tweets. And we still needed to go to the grocery store. We went to my favorite Korean grocery for coffee to help my situation and I'm pretty sure Napoleon Dynamite was parked next to us...

If you look closely, you can see use of The Club on the steering wheel. I really liked the white tiger t-shirt used as a seat cover. It reminded me of a liger. The passenger seat also had an interesting tee covering it.

After the grocery store, we went home and watched House of Cards and drank more wine.

Sunday, Andrew woke me up and played the "birthday weekend" card again to get me out of bed to go back to Killen's BBQ. He told me they had turkey so I was sold. We got there at 10:25 and by 11:00 when they opened, the line was about 75 people long (we were about 6th in line). The brisket was disappointing but the turkey was pretty awesome. I would gladly drive back out to Pearland for that again.

It's currently a pop-up, so everything is outside and they have to put it up and take it down every Saturday and Sunday. This guy was chopping meat on a truck tailgate. Also? There's free beer, if you like Lone Star.

Andrew's plate on top and mine on the bottom. I barely finished one piece of brisket and Andrew didn't finish his. But you better believe I took care of that turkey!

The rest of Sunday? Finished House of Cards (I ended up liking it. Bring on season 2!), a few more errands, and he made me a good dinner. Oh, and NFL Network played two hours worth of shows about the 2011 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants so I might have excitedly watched it like I didn't know the outcome. AND I caught up on blog reading so I can start the week with nothing in my reader. The little things, am I right?

And, to make this Monday way less painful, I am going to have lunch with Rachelle at Inner Loop Adventures! She is trying something new every week this year and I think meeting a blog friend in real life will be her new thing this week. If you live in Houston (or even if you don't), go check out her blog because she explores things in the city that I've never even heard of!

Can't wait to hear about everyone else's weekends! Have you ever dressed up for free Chick-fil-a?

Sami's Shenanigans