Thursday, October 31, 2013

why being 28 was awesome

Guys, today I am 29. My last birthday in my 20s. I won't stress about the big 3-0 yet as I still have another year before I get there, but I will take the time to think about the fact that 28 was really great. If I had made a list of things to do before turning 29, I would have put all these things on them.

See a Beatle in concert: Last November, I got to see Sir Paul McCartney in Houston. It is hands down one of my favorite memories, ever. Houston was unseasonably cold and the concert was at the baseball stadium downtown. The roof was open at Sir Paul's request so Andrew and I were in our warmest coats and linked our arms for warmth for most of the show. Oh, and in a huge baseball stadium full of people, we had amazing seats on the floor. He sang all the hits and never lost energy or stopped for like, three hours. I say it was the best concert I have ever been to, though I could be biased since he is a freaking Beatle. I would pay a small fortune to see him again in a heartbeat, but I am oh-so-glad I got to see him at least once.

The stage was so close. So close!

Tour Small Town Texas at Christmas: Pre-blog, Andrew and I went to Fredericksburg and other tiny Texas towns to look at Christmas lights. We went to a German market, saw a courthouse covered in lights, watched a small town parade, and shopped in the town where Hope Floats was filmed. It was so fun and I recommend it to any of my Houston friends.

In Smithville (where Hope Floats was filmed) with a replica of the largest gingerbread man ever made.

Visit Chicago: I have loved Rick Bayless since I saw him on Top Chef Masters, and eating his food was one of the things I was dying to do. You can only do that in Chicago. I was in Chicago for nine days and had his food or drink four times (umm, glutton much?)

Go to Washington, DC: DC probably isn't a place I would have ever wanted to vacation, but when a chance to visit for work arose, I took it! I crammed as much into 24 hours as humanly possible and I would have loved to spend much more time there.

Make New Friends: Even though there are posts that are older, I consider February 6, 2013 my first day of blogging. That was the first day of regular posting. Since then, so many great people have come into my life, whether in person or via email, twitter, or text. It can be hard to make friends as an adult, but I think I have learned in my 28th year that it definitely isn't impossible.

Just a small selection of blog friend pics that live on my phone. Such an amazing group of women and I call them all friends now!

Working Out Regularly: I have never liked the gym or moving, period. I got B's in gym in school and A's everywhere else. The age of 28 is when I finally started to take control of my health and trying to work out regularly. I ran 25 miles in a month and finally completed a 5K. Here's to continued fitness success in the future!

Be in the front row at a concert: We saw one of Andrew's favorites, the Airborne Toxic Event, at a small venue back in March and were in the front row. Over the summer, we saw Mumford and Sons in Austin and were in the very front row. We stood and sweated to keep our spot but it was so worth it. I never would have imagined that I would be that close to one of my favorite bands!

Attain celebrity status: After the Airborne concert, I was in the daily email that CultureMap sends out, which was exciting (linked above). More recently, you got to see me in the New York Daily News. For someone who hates being photographed, this is pretty exciting.

Exploring Houston Restaurants: When the Top 100 Restaurants in Houston list came out in 2012, I think I had been to 14. When 2013's list came out, that number was in the mid-30s and growing all the time. Everybody's gotta eat, and I like that we take the time to seek out new things whenever we get the chance. Soon, I will have a food tab in my nav bar so all my food adventures will be in one place!

An amazing carrot dish from Oxheart. So memorable and one of my favorite food photos. What a gorgeous dish!

Of course I have a husband, pets, and non-internet friends and family who also make my life great. I am ready for whatever fun the last year of my 20s has for me! Hope all you non-birthday people have a happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

in defense of my large wedding

I'm pretty sure that Pinterest is ruining weddings for everyone and I have said about a thousand times that I am so, so grateful that I got married before anyone besides my grandma had a use for a mason jar. I feel like lately in blogland, there is a big divide between weddings: those who had a big wedding, and those who had a small one. I feel like many brides who had small weddings emphasize the fact that they focused on the marriage and not the wedding. Good for them! We all should have done that, right? I feel that their opinion about their preparation leads many to believe that the opposite is true: that those who had a big wedding only prepared for the day, rather than the marriage. And so, like the wordy person I am, I want to tell you why that simply wasn't true. At least not in my case. Planning my large wedding gave my husband and I many opportunities to prepare for our marriage.

Program kits came from Michael's but we wrote the content and printed them ourselves. From what I remember, we had to hand feed each page into the printer, which was as awesome as it sounds.

Andrew asked me to marry him on Christmas in 2008. At the time, I was doing teacher training and we thought I would get a teaching job the next fall, so we set our wedding date for June 2010. A year and a half away. Andrew has three sisters as well as an extended "family" in New York who have actually hunted down other family friends who eloped as to not miss their big day. My parents are divorced and both remarried with huge extended families of their own. In large part because of this, but moreso because it's what I had always wanted, we planned for a larger wedding - about 100 people.

I like to plan and I like to have research in front of me. But I kind of hate doing the research. My husband will research all day if he needs to. I scoured the internet for possible venues, caterers, DJs, and more, and he presented me with info on pricing, location, etc. He might kill me for saying this, but he was a great wedding planner. When we signed contracts and had payments due, he was the one who knew when they were due and made sure we had everything done on time. I saw great ideas on the internet about wedding binders and index card boxes with all of your guests' info and he was the one who printed extra copies and reminded me to go buy the cards. It was a great opportunity to prepare for our life together - an ongoing project that we got to work on together.

We folded each box (Andrew was good at that) and I stamped the top with the Vegas sign stamp. Then we cut out pieces of paper for each box that read "To remind you that love is sweet, enjoy this truffle from Las Vegas' John Phillippe Patisserie in the Bellagio, where we got engaged. Thank you for celebrating our wedding with us!"

I always think that something better is going to come along so I am awful at making choices. He was the one who looked objectively at what I loved and convinced me to make a decision. Up until our engagement, we hadn't embarked on any big projects together. The whole thing was a learning experience in seeing how we each handled decision-making, stress, and problem solving. Andrew can be a panicker at times, but one of the few things I can say is that I don't let certain things bother me. We balanced each other out well.

Our biggest wedding project was making the DIY coasters that are now all over pinterest - get the bathroom tiles from Home Depot, cut scrapbook paper to fit, and then mod podge to the top and add cork to the bottom. We thought this would be easy and cheap. Um, no. We hated ourselves through cutting hundreds of  pieces of paper with a wonky paper cutter, almost choking to death on toxic sealant when we had to improvise, and a house that smelled like mod podge for days. If I were on my own, I may have quit, but having someone to suffer with me and who was better at seeing how great the project was going to turn out helped push me through.

The coasters. Also served as escort cards. I punched each card and wrote each family or couple's name and we hand tied them with a ribbon that read "Eat, Drink and Be Married."


We went through highs and lows while wedding planning - none Earth-shattering, but they all seemed really big when you were planning the "most important day of your life." And we navigated them together. We had a fairly detailed wedding and we dreamed it up ourselves. We wanted to be reflected in everything and worked together on gluing invitations, printing programs, creating three types of favors, writing vows, picking music, and more. I wouldn't trade the things we learned about one another in those eighteen months for anything. And yes, you can definitely learn great lessons about your person just living life or planning a small wedding or without getting married at all. While it definitely isn't necessary to plan a larger wedding with your partner to be ready to marry them, I don't think it can hurt. Besides, you never know - he may end up being pretty good at it.


Oh, and for what it's worth? My wedding day was perfect and there isn't a thing I would change! Regardless of the size of your wedding, I hope you feel the same.

Little Bit of Class Little Bit of Sass

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

it's tuesday and this is my brain

I halfway wrote a post in my head but it wasn't coming out right on paper so you just get what's happening in my head so I can post something besides pics of Bauer dressed as a pumpkin. My Halloween dislike does not pass on to animals in costume. Just scroll down if that's all you're here for.

- I went shopping and I don't get J. Crew. Why is is so damn expensive? I live in Texas - I have no use for $80 sweaters at the outlet, but thanks.

- I think too many people are on to TJ Maxx/Ross/Burlington Coat Factory because good stuff is harder to find there. Since when did Steve Madden and Betsy Johnson become the norm? I think Michael Kors is headed there next.

- Does anyone watch Conan? He is my favorite and this week he is doing the best bits from the past twenty years and I am super excited. If you have never seen Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, youtube him at the Star Wars premiere and at The Weiner Circle in Chicago. I think you will die laughing and if not, then that makes me sad.

- I thought I was over the food truck trend, but a new one opened pretty close to our house. Andrew and I went yesterday for lunch (we carpooled and he went home "sick" but felt well enough for a fun lunch) and it just made me so happy because the woman running it was all "Yes, the suburbs need fun stuff to do!" So now we will be devoted customers as we love supporting local businesses. Plus the Taco Nuts truck was pretty awesome. Sorry, no pics, but trust me.

- And... what you are waiting for... Bauer in his Halloween costume. Could he be cuter? No, probably not. Can't you tell he's thrilled?


The top left, he is just confused as to what's happening. By the time we got to the bottom left, he was so over it. Love that killer look he's giving me. Sorry, kitty.

Monday, October 28, 2013

food and movies and more food

Who can I petition for three day weekends and four day workweeks? I wish my company would allow more people to work a 9/80 schedule because I think I would do nearly anything in my power to make that work. I could really use a day to be productive, a day to rest, and a day for fun - how about you?

Anyway.

Friday night we had no plans, so Andrew suggested a trip to buy wine, dinner at our favorite BYOB Thai place, a stop at the French Korean bakery that I so love, and going to the movies to see Captain Phillips. Um, that all sounded amazing. I have talked about the Thai place before and it is just so bizarre inside. There is a fake fireplace that had a set of 10 lb hand weights sitting in front of it, ugly Christmas lights, a jazzy version of Lovefool by the Cardigans playing on the stereo, and Cold Case on TV. I snuck a pic to capture some of its greatness. I also got to partake in my favorite activity "Eavesdrop on a Date," and deemed a couple's date to be going terribly because the woman was late and the guy didn't get off his phone.

Best pic I could get of the restaurant - check out the wood paneling, disco ball, and red rope lights. | Just a sampling of Spec's, the best chain of liquor stores ever | A Riesling that I love bringing to have with Thai - it's only $7.

I really liked Captain Phillips. Tom Hanks is just so good. The real Captain Phillips said that the film was pretty close to reality, which was great to hear. It isn't one you have to see in theatres but is definitely worth the money if you think you'll like it and I highly recommend watching it when it comes out on DVD.

Saturday I wanted to go out and spend all the free birthday money I got from stores. We stopped for lunch at a new place near the house and... it was awful. Who's surprised? My Italian sangria was pretty yummy and I might give it another chance, but the pizza we shared was terrible! It was a gorgeous day and lovely to sit outside, though. Also, I highly recommend signing up for Kohl's and World Market's email lists so you can get free cash on your birthday, too. I am one of those terrible customers who spends as little as possible when I get those deals though. Oops. I look at it like a challenge!

That night we went out for dinner. I chose Provisions, which we have been to twice before but not since late December. I love their cocktail list and the overall vibe of the restaurant. It's all small plates and the bread selections are amazing  - you get a bread, a spread, and a cheese. I also loved their speck, which is a type of ham. So we go and get seated in the middle of the restaurant, where the tables were super close together and it was hard to take pics. No big deal. We ordered pretzel bread with a black garlic mustard and gruyere and also got the speck. The speck wasn't as good as I remembered but the bread and black garlic mustard were amazing! Andrew heard that the Caesar Wedge Salad was good, so we got that next. It looked really cool and it was yummy, but I gave Andrew all the anchovies.

We decided to split a large order of pasta - pumpkin with beef short ribs. The pasta was chewy, as if it was undercooked. I thought maybe they put pumpkin in the pasta dough but Andrew said probably not. There was no pumpkin taste in the dish at all - it was very savory and mostly tasted like the veal stock used to cook the short ribs. I was super disappointed! Luckily, we shared Nutella softserve with potato sprinkles for dessert. The sprinkles were amazing - they tasted like potato chips - and were just the hint of saltiness to take this above basic ice cream.

Photo of me at lunch | Wedge Caesar, check out those anchovies | the "meh" pumpkin pasta

Sunday I was lame and laid around all day. I also tried to figure out the new camera I got from my father-in-law. I wanted to go the DSLR route, I did, but I am really bad about learning new things. I figured I would probably use it on the auto mode all the time and make excuses about how I needed new lenses and stuff before I could really use it. So, I opted for a highly rated point and shoot. I love my iPhone and I'm sure I'll still mostly use that, but for intentional blog pics and our upcoming Christmas trip, I think I'll be glad to have a dedicated camera.

Wow, that was a lot. So, how was your weekend?

Linking up with Sami and Leeann!

Friday, October 25, 2013

bad food, good food, beer, halloween, and cats.

It's Friday, which obviously means that my brain only works in multiples of fives. How about yours?

1) When you take food seriously, it maybe isn't such a good idea to let your friends take you to a restaurant with poor Yelp reviews in the 'burbs. That happened to Andrew and I last weekend and while the company was lovely, my clearly-from-a-box bowtie pasta and Lean Cuisine-esque lemon basil sauce was not. I tried to go with the flow, I did, but it was awful.

2) Speaking of food, sometimes an old standby is all you need. I met up with blog friends (is that qualifier still necessary? I'm thinking not) for dinner at Torchy's Tacos and dessert at Cloud Ten Creamery (which I discussed here). If you are in Texas and haven't experienced Torchy's, you need to, and if you aren't in Texas, I'm sorry. I love it.

That would be a fried avocado taco and a taco with pumpkin-seed crusted chicken and yummy spicy carrots. Oh, and the absolute best banana split ever.

3) If you follow me on twitter, sorry for the repeat info, but a beer leaked in my purse. Andrew was going to give one of his coworkers one of his prized pumpkin beers so he put it in my purse to not forget it but forgot to take it with him when he got to work. I tried to be a good wife and take it into my office with me so it didn't get warm in the car (we still have highs in the 80s, people!) and somewhere along the way, the cap got loose and beer poured into my Kate Spade bag. Luckily the bag is black and you can't see it from the outside, but I let it air out and my office smelled beer-y all day. I was not a happy camper and told Andrew that he now owes me a new bag since the lining is ugly and stained. Not a real problem, I know, but my whining for handbags doesn't have to make sense.

4) I was so excited when I tweeted that I didn't like Halloween the other day and actually had people agree with me! Costumes are expensive and I'm cheap. If I went to your house on any other day and it was filled with cobwebs, I would be grossed out. And we teach children to take candy from strangers - what? Honestly, these really aren't the reasons I don't like it, but it's just not for me. I prefer sitting inside with my porch light off, thanks.

5) Little things: The Giants finally won a game! If they can win this week, they will have the same record as the Texans and I might be willing to wear my Giants shirts again since all of Houston still wears their Texans shirts with no shame. G-Chat is making my work days way better. And my cat is precious. See?

We call this Peek-A-Bau. He goes behind our bed frame and jumps up to say hello. See all the scratches? It is definitely not my favorite way to wake up but he looks so cute when he does it!

I love the idea of Q&A posts. Got any questions for me? I would love to have an easy post answer them next week! Happy weekend!


                                                         THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

the worst kind

So, I have been doing some thinking, and on paper, I am pretty much an awful person. Examples:

I am chronically late.

Some of you might already know this because we have met in real life. I know, I know. Late people are jerks with little regard for other people's time. They're lazy and irresponsible and inconsiderate. I know. I have people like that in my life, too. But that's not me!

Okay, maybe it is me, but only accidentally.


I neglect to think about how long things take. We're meeting right after work? Cool, I can get there in fifteen minutes, with traffic... but I didn't factor in the five minute walk to my car. We need to leave for dinner at 7:30? Okay, I can be ready by then. Oh but I still have to feed the cat, find my keys, and find a jacket on the way out of the house. Oops, I guess that was an extra five minutes.

You would think since I know this about myself, I would be better at being on time, but it seems that no matter the circumstances, I am consistently late. I don't want to be late. I am just awful at avoiding it. My husband is one of those that has to tell me we need to leave five minutes before we actually need to leave so we're (mostly) on time when we go places together. He can't stand being late.

I'm a little... messy.

It seems that as a whole, bloggers like to clean. I don't. I hate it. I can't think of much that I take pleasure in less than scrubbing and dusting. I love having a clean house, but I don't like doing it myself.

This also carries over into stuff. I will get home and leave mail on the table. If I go to the gym, my water bottle will stay in a chair, untouched, until the next time I go to the gym. I can live with piles of clean laundry rather than putting it away and pulling clean dishes from the dishwasher as I want them, rather than putting them away, is perfectly acceptable in my head.

I realize that I am getting older and less of this needs to be okay. I mean, let's not even talk about my tiny office at work covered in paper and just... stuff. So I am working on it. Kind of. When my husband complains that I need to clean up, mostly.

I can be selfish... sometimes... mostly about things that don't matter.

When you're raised as an only child, you get used to certain things. When you don't finish all your cookies, you expect the remainder to be waiting for you next time you're hungry. Sometimes if you have an idea of what you want to do for the day in your head, you get a little inflexible when other people's plans don't fit in with that. What can I say - I always want the bigger half when something big is cut in two and I make sure to hog more than my side of blanket every night when I fall asleep. I think my selfishness is mostly seen by those who know me best. I try to stay on my best behavior for everyone else.

Basically, if I was writing a personal trait resume, I would never get hired as a friend. I kind of suck on paper. But we all have our faults and we are all our own worst critics and I know I do a pretty good job of hiding these things from most people. Just make sure you tell me to meet before you really want me to get there. Make sure you don't peek in my car because you'll see my mess. And please, we'll each order our own meal, okay? If we stick to that, I'll come across as a perfectly nice person. I promise.

Make me feel better - how are you bad on paper?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

what I'd rather be doing today

Today I would rather be enjoying a beautiful latte from my favorite coffee shop, but a K-Cup in the breakroom will  have to do...

I would rather be in my PJs snuggling my kitty than upright at my desk at work...

I would rather come home to a freshly-run dishwasher than the sink full of dishes that awaits me (seriously, how do they pile up that fast?)...

This evening, I would rather adore working out and see it as a stress-reliever than something I have to suffer through to make sure my pants still fit....

I would rather think things through than speak out of turn...

And when it comes to blogging, today I would rather chat with my blog friends one on one than wrack my brain over something to say for mass consumption. So if you need a sounding board or a friendly hello, leave a comment. And if not, then I will be back later this week, when I think of something to say worth writing down. Hope you have a great week!

Friday, October 18, 2013

five things that feel new to me

From restaurants to behavior to the realization that I've needed new people in my life, this week was full of things that felt new to me.

1) So I have been absent this week. I was in a funk. I think it happens to us all. No apologies from me, but a realization: I need to stop talking and writing just for the sake of doing it. From now on, if I have nothing to say, then I will try to keep quiet. Do you ever find yourself commenting on a blog post because you feel like you "should?" I feel that way a lot and I just want to stop - if I have nothing of value to add, then I won't say anything. That doesn't mean that a topic has no value, just that I have nothing of my own to add to it. Also, time saved on my end of trying to say something beyond "I love that!" This also applies to my own posts. I am going to put less pressure on myself to blog five times a week unless I have something I want to share.

2) Girlfriends. I didn't know what was lacking in my life until, well, I had them to add. I had a three hour dinner with the always fun Sara the other night and we talked about so many things that I never knew that I needed or wanted to talk about. I get it now. Girl talk. I feel like I haven't had a good dose in a long time with someone who knew me outside of work, outside of growing up - who just knew the me that I have become as an adult. And when I was in my funk this week I had Joey giving me perspective and Heidi reminding me that duh, we are inexplicably bonded, and I was so grateful to have people in my life to give me what I needed when they didn't even know they were doing it. Enough of a sap fest for ya?

3) In my quest to tackle as many of the Top 100 Restaurants in Houston as possible, I went to my 39th on the list with Sara - Dolce Vita Pizza. Honestly, I paid more attention to the conversation than the food, but it was good! We had pumpkin and goat cheese croquettes, a salad with escarole and pecorino, and a pizza with butternut squash, mozzarella, red onion, and pancetta. The pizza was thin and charred and not like Americanized pizza at all. As long as that's what you're expecting when you go there, you won't be disappointed. Oh, and the patio is really cute!


4) TV. It's fall TV time and I mentioned that I am not watching anything new for the first time pretty much ever. I am relying on my old standbys to entertain me. The Mindy Project has really grown on me and I laugh out loud nearly every episode. Plus, I don't think I have ever coveted a TV character's wardrobe more! New Girl was one of my absolute favorites... until this season. Nick and Jess together are so boring. The only redeeming thing is Winston's cat, which is precious. I really thought Modern Family was back to being great again this week and you know Andrew and I were dying over Phil's "I trusted his opinion. He looked like a Mumford and Son" line (but did anyone else think they were going to steal from The Office and it was going to be a ladies' suit, a la Michael Scott's Miss Sterious?)

5) Some unsolicited advice for you: Pull out some old music and listen to it. I pulled out my iPod for the 5K last weekend and haven't seen the thing in over a year. I have been listening to it in my car and it makes traffic so much more bearable. I really like "Royals" and "Roar" when they first came out, but after hearing them on every car trip I take, I need something new old. So dust off your CDs or or something and sing to all the songs you used to know all the words to (in my case, it's lots of Dave Matthews and John Mayer, circa 2003).

It finally feels like fall and I hope it stays that way! I hope your weekend is a great one!

                                                         THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

questions the internet makes me ask

I spend a lot of time reading blogs these days - probably more than I should. I see a few things pop up over and over, so you probably do too. Maybe we have some of the same questions. In case we do, I have researched answers to the questions that the internet, and blogging in particular, makes me ask.

What the hell is Fireball?

Y'all, I had never heard of this til I entered the blog world. Maybe it's because I don't frequent bars and didn't go away to college, but it is cinnamon flavored whiskey. That sounds terrible! Probably because I prefer drinks that taste like kool-aid. But bloggers love the stuff! So maybe I will too?

What is a Type B personality?

SO many bloggers call themselves Type A. I was reading Kerry's post and had to wonder - what are the traits of a Type B personality? So, I went to the most reliable information source in all the land - wikipedia - and learned this:

" The theory describes a Type A individual as ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status conscious, can be sensitive, truthful, impatient, always try to help others, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, proactive, and obsessed with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving "workaholics" who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.

People with Type B personality by definition generally live at a lower stress level and typically work steadily, enjoying achievement but not becoming stressed when they are not achieved. When faced with competition, they do not mind losing and either enjoy the game or back down. They may be creative and enjoy exploring ideas and concepts. They are often reflective, thinking about the outer and inner worlds."

It makes sense why so many bloggers describe themselves as being Type A. I don't know many people who aren't stressed out when they don't achieve, but if this is you, please teach me your calm ways.

Who decided that pumpkin and chocolate go together?

I guess you all did. Let's agree to disagree with this one as I am definitely in the minority. I just can't wrap my brain around pumpkin spice M&Ms.

Why so many rules?

I like linkups. I think a lot of us like linkups - a blog topic I don't have to think much about and the possibility of new readers? Sign me up! But then there are rules with linkups like you need to follow all the hosts (there are 10 of them) in multiple ways (there are at least five options) and it's too much clicking! All I want to do is type my post and crop my own image in the linky tool and try to make new friends! I get that it's a way to come together and market your blog but do you want me to sign up to follow you just so your numbers increase? I mean maybe, I get that, I guess, but don't you want participation in your linkup too? There were a few different opinions about this on twitter yesterday and I would love to hear yours. And don't even get me started on giveaways... I have to really want something or it has to be ridiculously easy for me to enter one. Also, I am lazy and I enjoy going against the grain.

How do you get your nails so perfect?

My friend Joey tried to answer this the other day (perhaps via email as I can't find a blog post) and said that she washes her hands with really hot water and then gets rid of the excess polish by... picking. My word, not hers. Is that your secret? Because my nails are always a mess.

Can you provide more insight into any of these questions? What are some questions the internet has made you ask?




Monday, October 14, 2013

so, about that new to me thing I did this weekend...

The biggest thing I did this weekend was participate in a 5K with Caitlin. She Instagrammed about how registration was half off on Thursday so I signed up and the thing took place on Saturday. I was completely unprepared as I only consider myself a sometimes newbie runner. In order to explain to you how it went for me and answer any questions that my non-runner friends might have about the whole thing, I present to you the questions that my Friday self was asking about this whole thing and the answers my post-race self would give since the experience.

Post-race with an iced coffee. They ran out of water but I would have chosen this anyway.

So, what should I do to prepare for this?

Well, self, you should have decided to run this more than 36 hours before, and you probably should have gone to the gym at some point in the week leading up to it. The 20 minute run you had the night before because the internet said it was a good idea really doesn't count. You should probably also get lots of rest the night before and not eat dinner at 9pm and stay up doing chores and getting your stuff ready til midnight.

What should I bring with me to the race?

You little over-preparer, you! You brought your phone in a new armband thingy, headphones, an iPod nano (just in case), a new headband, and new non-slip grip sunglasses. But really you should plan ahead to have all this stuff on hand and not spend hours shopping for it all the night before, along with bananas the right amount of ripeness and your favorite flavor of Kind bars. All that mess will really tire you out. Oh, and your car keys - tie it to your shoe! Be glad you thought to ask Amy about that one on Friday.

What's the race like?

There will be lots of pretty and fit people. Some girls will be wearing sports bras and tiny shorts and doing weird things with their feet to warm up. Hang out in the back with the people with strollers where you are less intimidated. You should definitely not try to take pics at the starting line or else you won't be able to get your phone back in the armband in a timely manner and you will be thrown off completely because you are half running, half fidgeting with your phone so you will decide to stop to fix everything and never catch back up with your group. Not that you would let that happen to you. You are far too prepared for that.

What about the weather?

75 sounds like a great temperature, but once you start moving, you will probably feel like there is saran wrap over your mouth and nose and you can barely breathe. This is called humidity, which you have never experienced since you only run indoors. It's awful. It will ruin any athletic ability that you thought you had.

What's the end of the race like?

It's the best part - you're done! This race had free Chick-fil-a and free iced coffee (the good kind) so it almost made the whole thing worth it. Almost.

Anything else I should know?

Don't set your Nike app to 3K instead of 3 miles or you will be sorely disappointed about 2/3 of the way through the race. Have a playlist or something ready to listen to. Your earphones will probably strangle you the whole time. Don't try a new headband because it will only let you down.

Would you do it again?

Hard to say. I hated it during the race. HATED IT. I set my goal for my time very low and beat it easily. Now I want to see if I can beat this time with additional preparation. However, the feelings of "I can't believe I spent money to get up early and run in the heat and humidity" were very strong for 3.1 miles. I kind of think running competitively isn't for me, but I'm glad I can say I tried it. Never say never, but I am definitely not seeking another race to try right now.

Linking up with Sami and Leeann!

Friday, October 11, 2013

good friends, awesome cake, and celebrity status

Hey hey it's Friday and I have lots to say. And you may not have heard it all before, or at least I can elaborate on it a little more.

1) Monday was great! I had lunch with two blog friends turned real friends and you didn't even know about it because we didn't take any pics. Rachelle and Sarah both workout near my office so I convinced them they needed a post workout lunch. It was good to see them, especially on a blah day like Monday.

2) On Wednesday, we celebrated both the school I work for and our general counsel/professor turning 90 this year! The professor has been involved with the school since the 1950s as an adjunct and then started working there full-time after he retired from his first career in the 80s. He still works full time and he is one of the smartest people you could ever hope to meet. When I came up with this event, I just said that I wanted a stack of law books cake and my dean approved it. I got to work with the same woman who did my wedding cake and she was amazing! The cakes were called the "star of the show" and most people thought they were actual books stacked on the table. Oh, and they were delicious too.

The detail was amazing. The top book was a recreation of one that the guest of honor wrote; he also taught Admiralty and Constitutional Law (bottom book). It hurt me to watch it get dismantled! I ordered sheet cakes to feed the guests so that we could keep this in tact as long as possible.

3) Dinner date! I came across Caitlin's blog and we have been trying to get together for a while. She lives in my area (yay!) so we got together on our side of town for dinner. Again, no pics, but we were too busy talking! I could tell you all about her family and her fiancé but I won't. Go check out her blog to learn more. I see many coffee dates and wine study breaks in our future...

4) Hart of Dixie came back this week. I love this stupid show. I am not watching any new shows this fall season (a first for me!) so I was excited to have something new to watch. I forgot how much I loved the little town of Blue Bell, Alabama. Sometimes it's the little things, right?

5) I can't have a Five on Friday without mentioning that I am basically a celebrity because my face and words were in yesterday's New York Daily News. Yes, I am being sarcastic because I realize that my face is now in the recycle bins of hundreds of New Yorkers, but it was fun for a day! Also, look how big our pic is in the print edition... I had to share. Luckily my father-in-law picked up a few copies to mail me.

Sorry for the quality- my sister-in-law's friend texted it to her. But OMG, there we are!

As I type this post, I have some ideas for what the weekend holds, but I don't know for sure. I'm thinking of impulsively trying something new and I am going south to Wharton, Texas. If any Houston friends are interested in joining me, you let me know... it could be fun!

                                                         THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Thursday, October 10, 2013

can I retroactively put this on my bucket list?

You guys, I don't have a bucket list, but let's go back in time, write one for me, and add "give interview to news outlet and be quoted in an article" to it, okay? Because if we do, then I totally could scratch it off right now. You know, how when you make a to-do list with things that don't require real doing so you can scratch a few things off right away.

Anyway.

On Monday afternoon, I had an email in my inbox titled "Wife of a NY Giants Fan." I had blogged briefly that day about their awful record so I figured someone found me through a linkup and just wanted to chat. But that wasn't it.

The email was from a reporter at the New York Daily News. You know, the newspaper that the late night hosts always hold up with the quippy covers? Yeah, she was from there and she was legit. She was writing a story about being the wife or girlfriend of a Giants fan during this awful time and wanted to know if we could chat for a few minutes. Um, yeah. I like to talk to people, especially about inconsequential things.

So she called me the next day and we chatted about what I do on Sundays, how Andrew reacts when the Giants lose, and how this season is extra tough to get through. She ended the conversation by asking if I had any photos I could send her of us watching TV or in Giants clothes. Have I mentioned to you guys that we wore Giants shirts as one of our engagement photo outfits? Yeah, we did. Those are pro photos and several lbs. ago for me, so I gladly sent her those, along with a few photos from our Lost themed Groom's Cake.

Photos I sent that weren't used

I know you're dying to read the article. Find it here. The friend I mention who has been wanting to have Sunday Funday is Sara, so hey, I guess we need to make that happen. I think the reporter found me through twitter - isn't it crazy what social media can do?

Now, who wants to get drinks on a Sunday?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

on becoming a food hobbyist

So I might have a problem. You might have noticed that I take food very seriously.

I wasn't always this way. I grew up in a house where going out to eat was a luxury rarely realized and Chick-fil-a was too expensive. To this day, I don't really care for Whataburger (a SIN in Texas!) because I didn't grow up eating it. It didn't have a 99 cent menu. My mom worked for most of my life, so I ate what she cooked- baked chicken, spaghetti, canned veggies - and I was very picky.

As I had my own income, I was able to decide what and where I wanted to eat a little more. I developed a Starbucks habit and was thrilled to have Chick-fil-a at my school and close to my work. And then I met Andrew. A seafood lover since birth who rarely ate salads. We influenced one another's tastes quite a lot and very fast. Something happened and we started watching Food Network. Bobby Flay was our shared favorite, with Emeril a close second. We were able to travel to Las Vegas, eat at both of their restaurants, and a love of food grew from there.

Andrew attended culinary school and had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco for a week with his classmates. I think that is what made him realize the amazing things that local, trained chefs had to offer. Since significant others weren't invited on the trip, he did his best to share his love with me once he got home.

I don't remember the moment that we started saying no to Chili's, that Denny's stopped being on the radar, and that a trip to the drive-thru only happened when necessary. But that's the way it's been for quite some time. We eat at local-chain restaurants whenever possible because I feel that food at the bigger chains are only step above what I could purchase at Costco and fry up at home myself for much less money. We seek out restaurants with awards and accolades anytime we travel (and in our own city, too). It doesn't have to be expensive; I've sought out donuts in Chicago and had Korean BBQ from a small restaurant adjacent to a convenience store in Atlanta. Eating at a restaurant of a known or celebrity chef has become a feather in the proverbial cap and when I can say that I've eaten at Kevin Gillespie's and Mike Isabella's and Jose Andres' restaurants and someone knows who that is? That's the equivalent of reading the smartest book or having the hardest to get bag in my mind. Or whatever else makes people happy. I've become someone who goes to new restaurants and reads about food for fun.

At e by Jose Andres in Las Vegas - the plate is a cast of the chef's hand and that's a raspberry tart flower | "Jewel box" with dehydrated beet jewelry. This was a 23 course meal. Yes, 23. I made a photobook for Andrew out of all the pics.

There is always a new place to try or a dish to get. Need help finding somewhere good? Look at Eater.com. It covers most major cities and has a new list of the Eater 38 every few months (I've only been to 16/38 on the newest Houston list but they have a new editor and I have some beef with some choices on this list!). Yelp is also a great resource to see what's new in the area. Well-trained chefs start kitchens all over the country all the time and they are dying to get their businesses off the ground. For about the same price as going to a chain, you can check out one of these places and help a chef achieve their dream, as cheesy as it sounds. I encourage you to do so next time you have a chance.

Monday, October 7, 2013

read this for food pics

You have a lot of recaps to read and my weekend wasn't too special, so let's keep it short and sweet, shall we?

The Indian version of chips and salsa was pretty cool but I hated the dark sauce | Andrew's Biryani - came with a yummy bread dome over it | BodyPump necessities | Love latte art
  • 38/100:  I went to my 38th Restaurant on the Top 100 Restaurants in Houston list. It was an Indian place called the Great W'Kana. I always order Chicken Tikka Masala on my first trip to an Indian place and I feel that the dish was too Americanized to taste like much. Plus the portion was very small for the price. I wasn't feeling great, so I will chalk up my less than stellar thoughts to that as Andrew's Chicken Biryani was much better. (In case you are wondering, Andrew is at 40/100 so I need to catch up with him and work on beating him.)
  • BodyPump: Still good, but I need to push myself more. I wasn't in any pain this week. Noted for next time.
  • Gravity: We were going to see Prisoners but then Andrew read that Gravity was supposed to be pretty good in 3D. Amber tweeted that she was there and also said it was good, so that was enough for me. I am not a movie person but the visuals on this movie alone were fantastic. The story was good and I rarely relaxed through the whole thing. If you see it, spend the money for the 3D!
  • Cool Front: If you follow any other Texas bloggers, I apologize for us losing our minds over the cool front, but it is fantastic. I got to wear a scarf and a cardigan at the same time and I didn't even sweat.
  • Breakfast outside: I wished for it in Friday's post and my husband listened. We went to my favorite coffee shop, Blacksmith, fully intending to sit inside as it was overcast and drizzling. There were tons of people in there, most notably people studying and reading (it was loud - they couldn't have been really getting anything done!) so we had to sit outside to eat. Luckily, the rain stopped long enough to enjoy ourselves.
Other highlights include a productive trip to Trader Joe's (love their pumpkin bread mix!), putting away my Giants t-shirts til next season (0-5, ouch), and Sami herself kicking my butt in fantasy football (I still have a player to play tonight but two of her guys had amazing games so I'm not hopeful). I hope you had a good one!

Linking up with Sami and Leeann!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Influenster Paradise VoxBox - Perfect for Date Night!

If you follow me on twitter or instagram, you know that at the end of August I received my Influenster Paradise VoxBox. If you aren't already a member of the Influenster program, get on board! Personally I love getting free stuff in the mail and this was my second box. I liked it even better than the first.

I received these products for free for reviewing purposes but all opinions are mine. Would you expect anything less?

The day I got this, we had a date night planned for that night and I was able to use everything in the box, so that was cool.


Goody TangleFix - This is a palm-sized brush with short bristles that is supposed to help get rid of tangles. If you have a daughter, then this product is probably awesome. I mostly use it when I have second day hair because it makes my hair less frizzy than running my regular brush through it. It also causes less breakage on my wet hair than my regular brush.

Olay Fresh Effects Shine Go Away Face Wash - I have pretty oily skin and I need something with some punch. I used this almost exclusively for a week and got several blemishes, so I went back to my regular soap. I will use it for my second wash of the day or on occasion, but it's not strong enough to be my only face wash. It's too bad because it smells great!

Dr. Scholl's For Her - I liked these a lot! I put them in my highest heels and they added a nice cushion, plus they took up some extra space which is helpful for me and my narrow heels. I would definitely recommend them if you need a little something extra in your shoes!

NYC New York Color Sparkle Eye Dust - I know nothing about make-up but I really liked this. If you like a dramatic look, you can just apply it with the brush for dark color and lots of sparkle. I don't wear a lot of make-up, even on date night, so I dabbed it on with the enclosed brush and then spread the color around using a q-tip. It was the perfect amount of color and sparkle.

Suave Professionals Moroccan Infusion Styling Oil - I love this stuff! I was using a similar product by another brand and really didn't have an issue with it. However, this is way better! It's lighter and it smells better. My hands aren't left feeling as oily after use and it tames the frizzies pretty well. I am a fan of Suave products already (gotta love cheap stuff!) and this just further cemented that.

I almost did a vlog about this never did... maybe next time!

five on friday. oh my

Five on Friday, I've missed you.

1) I read this article in Vanity Fair about teens and social media use last weekend and I have been thinking about it since. I have a niece who is 13 and all of the sites that she could possibly be a part of completely blows my mind. I'm grateful her mom keeps a careful eye on her but how can a parent keep up with all of it? This is a great read if you have, work with, or love a teenager. (In googling this, I am seeing all kinds of backlash against the article so I am going check that out too...)

2) Goal check: September into October. I kind of failed at goals last month. I did really well with eating, working out, and my fitness pal for about half the month til I had a crazy schedule for a week and quit. I'm trying to get back on it, though! I tried BodyPump, so that was new to me, and I still don't have any sodas in the house but oh how I miss them. When does that feeling go away?

3) The Pastry War. Y'all know that I love trying the newest places in Houston, but it's rare I go to a bar because drinking and driving isn't cool. I had plans to meet friends downtown last night for a few hours (see #4 below) so I knew I had plenty of time to metabolize one drink. The Pastry War is a tequila bar. It's really cool inside and the strawberry balsamic margarita was so good. Smooth and sweet without being sugary. I definitely want a reason to go back to this place!

 The ceiling has skulls stencilled on it and I was obsessed | yummy margarita \ sweaty selfie (it was SO hot) | VW Bug and parking meter inside.

4) Rachelle and I wanted to go play Bingo in Market Square Park and invited other bloggers along. Miranda and Sarah joined us and it was great! Bingo was kind of intense (you got six cards per game) and we totally misunderstood how one round worked, but we all laughed at ourselves and had fun despite the nasty humidity.

My card, after I realized I had messed up and was playing wrong | Sarah brought Flat Stanley along and Rachelle and I let him have too much fun, oops | Miranda, Rachelle, Sarah, and me

5) It's birthday month! I'm excited to use that to my advantage as much as possible until the 31st, which is my actual birthday. I keep getting asked to make a birthday list and I have no idea what I want. Help me out - what's on your wish list?

I have no idea what's going on this weekend and I couldn't be more okay with that. Houston is supposed to get a cool front on Saturday night and I think I speak for us all when I say BRING IT. If I can wear a light jacket and have breakfast on a patio Sunday morning, I will be a happy person. Hope you have a great one!

                                                         THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Thursday, October 3, 2013

my pop culture shorthand

I read this list the other day and came across a quote that I had to hold on to.

If it sometimes seems like we’re nothing but empty vessels that parrot quotes and references, it’s because that’s how we best interact with each other — drawn together by our shared pop-culture shorthand.

I think it comes naturally for many in my generation to remember quotes from movies and TV shows to naturally slip into conversation with people who may have seen the same thing. It creates a bond and quickly establishes shared interests if someone else gets what you are saying. I do this all the time and as most of my coworkers are a bit older than I am, it mostly goes unnoticed. However, I have noticed there are certain phrases I've picked up from TV that I say all the time. My husband even slipped that fact into our wedding vows. So today, I wanted to share with you my personal pop culture shorthand. I am presenting them to you as I say them, which may not be as they were delivered originally, but the same idea is present. Would you get my references?

"That's what she said."

"There's always money in the banana stand."

"I drive a Bike... cycle."

"It smells of rich mahogany and many leatherbound books."

"I'm kind of a big deal. People know me." (I say this at work all the time and people take me seriously.)

"I'm always one step ahead. Like a carpenter who builds stairs."

"Oh fuuuuuuudge."

"You know I don't speak Spanish."

"I'm not mad, I'm impressed!"

"I hate so much the things you choose to be."

Huge hint because I love this movie.

I'm sure there are many, many more, but those are the ones I use most often. And they are drawn from similar sources. What quotes should I know to understand your pop-culture shorthand?




Wednesday, October 2, 2013

how to get a spot in my reader

After last week's post about how to get kicked outta my reader, I thought I would follow up with things that I love seeing in a blog that will keep me reading for a long, long time. There are lots of great blogs out there and I feel like I have barely scratched the surface, but this is my completely personal list of things I love to see.

1) Personality. If I read a blog and feel like it's someone I could have coffee or drinks with, then I am set. Personality comes through in writing like you're talking to an old friend and being open and honest.  Bloggers who sound like they are writing for people they know are my favorites.

2) Leaving Good Comments. If you leave good comments for me or for other bloggers, chances are your posts are pretty solid and well-written. It's not a must for staying on my blog reader, but it is definitely how I find new bloggers to add.

3) Tell Me About Yourself. My favorite bloggers are those who give me a glimpse of their life, whether through stories about their past, discussing the day-to-day, or dedicating an entire post to a current obsession. I want to know about the things that make you you.

4) A Little Bit of Everything. One day you go list, the next you rant, the day after you tell me what you bought and love. I kind of like the element of surprise when I open my reader every day and can read about politics, sports, Kate Spade, food, Justin Timberlake, husbands, and cats. And anything else imaginable.

5) Meeting a blogger in real life. I admit, I find it very hard to take someone out of my reader who I have met in real life. What if I see them again? Will they notice? Will it be weird? So yeah, if we have met and I follow you, it will probably stay that way. I make enough awkward situations accidentally to create one that I know I can prevent!

For the most part, I love Blog World. I want to get a little ranty here and there for reasons mentioned in last week's post,  but there are so many bloggers who are amazing that every day I wonder how I am going to keep up, both with reading so many great blogs and with trying to be better myself. Tell me, how does a blog earn a permanent spot in your reader?


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

this should probably embarrass me... but it doesn't

After my confession a few weeks ago that crappy pop music is my guilty pleasure, a lot of you admitted that it's yours, too. In emailing with Steph, she made the comment that a shared love over the same crappy song can bond two people for life. I loved that idea, but why stop at songs? I'm going to confess my love for some things that others may declare awful and who knows, we may just develop ourselves a bond.

Songs (this list could go on forever...) 

Sometimes - Britney Spears
(the awful video is still hilarious)
Bye Bye Bye - *NSYNC
Burnin' Up, Year 3000, and We Rock - The Jonas Brothers
Dancing in September - Earth, Wind, and Fire
Has Ace of Base not gotten old to anyone else yet?
Party in the USA - Pre- foam finger Miley (fun fact: I got married when this song was still pretty popular. I wanted it on the "must play" list at the wedding and Andrew wanted it on the "do not play" list so we agreed that we just wouldn't bring it up. Well, at the wedding and after some wine I wanted to dance so I asked the DJ to play it. He didn't want to because honestly, he was killing it with the music and it didn't fit but since it was my wedding, he knew he had to. He introduced the song by saying "This one is on at the bride's request..." Before I knew it Andrew was at my side saying "You promised..." but I already had my hands up and was nodding my head like yeah.)

You know you do this when you think of the song, too.

Food

Velveeta
. I know it's not real cheese and probably closer to plastic than actual food but I kind of secretly love it.
Sweet Wine and Sugary Coffee. I say I love wine and coffee. And I do. As long as it's a super sweet wine and an extra sugary coffee. You can keep your Pinot Noir and your Americanos; I'm good with Moscato and Macchiatos.
Cocoa Almond Spread. If you haven't had this deliciousness from Trader Joe's, then you are missing out. I may eat it out of the jar by the spoonful.


Clothes

Soffe Shorts. I am too old and they are too short but they have been my favorite PJ shorts for over ten years and if only Andrew and the guy who works at the donut shop ever see me in them, it doesn't really count, does it?


Movies

Enchanted. I love this movie. If it's on, I'm watching it, pretty much guaranteed. And singing along.
Awful Teen Movies from the late 90s - early 00s. I just watched She's All That this weekend. I can probably still recite 10 Things I Hate About You. Basically if it's a movie that I saw in or before high school that gave me a completely unrealistic expectation of what high school would be, I still want to watch it.
Josie and the Pussycats. I still love this movie but I haven't seen it in years. On one of mine and Andrew's first dates, we went to Best Buy and he saw me looking at this CD so he bought it for me and then basically teased me for wanting it in the first place. But have you heard the soundtrack? It's still so fun!



Okay, I shared. Now you tell me something that you think should embarrass you but doesn't.