Thursday, December 18, 2014

what are you doing in 2015?

I recently had lunch with some friends. Friends made through blogging, but who are more than blog friends and aren't in the same "blog group" as me. They blog for different audiences and reasons. So we were chatting about what was new and I told them I had been largely offline lately and felt okay about that. One friend emphatically told me that I burned myself out, and the other echoed her claim.

And they weren't wrong.

I'm not sure when 4-5 posts per week, responding to every comment, and commenting everywhere became the norm, but somewhere it did. I tried my best to keep up with bloggers who made that look easy. Quantity was king and I wanted a piece of that too. "Only" getting x number of comments was seen as an opinion about my abilities as a writer and stagnant numbers of followers plagued me. I mean, that's dramatic, but it kind of did!

So, as you know, if you know me from other bloggers you read, I kind of... stopped. Or tapered off. Yes, we moved, and things have changed, but I didn't want to come here anymore. I liked not having a pile of comments to respond to or posts I felt guilty for skipping. And others are in the same boat, it seems. Many bloggers I considered to be in my group have scaled back, or quit all together. And I can't blame them. I think we did this to ourselves!

For me, the battle between wanting to write versus not wasting anyone's time with what I shared was huge. Do you, living in a different time zone, care what I ate for dinner on Saturday? Let's be honest and say you probably don't. So I started getting into the "why bother?" of it all and didn't want to write at all.

But I missed it. I miss sharing and interacting. I don't make the time to write, read, and respond like I used to. Maybe one day I will again. But that isn't me right now. I want to focus in 2015 on life and documenting the things worth remembering, whether it gets posted to the internet or not. I want to write for me, whether I think you'll like it. I want to read blogs that I love and not follow anyone because I have to! I want to mostly forget picmonkey exists and just have my crappy phone pics be enough (because seriously? Editing photos takes for-ev-er). I truly want this to be where I document my life and what's in my head, and for that to be enough. So that's my goal in 2015. What are you working on?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

my favorite christmas entertainment, non-movie edition.

We all have our favorite Christmas movies. I'm convinced that if you grew up watching A Christmas Story (like me), then you're convinced it's the best holiday movie, but if you're wrong like my  husband and you grew up watching Christmas Vacation (still good), then nothing will sway you to think otherwise. What can I say? We're a house divided.

(For the record, I also love Elf and Love, Actually).

Anyway, the other day I wanted to watch something Christmas-y but not a movie. So, thanks to Netflix, I watched every Christmas episode of The Office with Michael Scott (I may get to the ones without him,  but let's face it, those were the worst years of the show). And I ranked them for you because it's the giving season and you may not have as much time on your hands as me.

5) Classy Christmas (Season 7) - Eh, this was the beginning of the end. There were some funny Holly/Michael scenes at the beginning, and Michael being Sexy Santa was kind of cute, but this episode didn't pack as much greatness as earlier seasons for me.

No idea why this is black and white but the epic snowball fight was pretty funny.

4) Moroccan Christmas (Season 5) - Meredith went to rehab and Toby got the last Princess Unicorn doll that Dwight bought out of stores. The intervention was awkward, but this episode did give us the innovative drink known as an "orange vod-juice-ka."

3) A Benihana Christmas (Season 3) - Karen and Pam create their own Christmas party, Michael drowns his sorrows at "Asian Hooters" (love when he had to draw on "his" waitress' hand) and we get Angela singing The Little Drummer Boy.

 Oh, Nard Dog...

2) Secret Santa (Season 6) - Michael dresses as Jesus since Phyllis is already dressed as Santa. So un-PC, but still so hilarious. This is one I totally forgot about, watched again, and died laughing.

Couldn't find a gif of this but Michael, dressed as Jesus. You know, the guy who can heal leopards.

1) Christmas Party (Season 2) - My dad told me the entire plot of this episode and that's what got me to eventually give the series a shot. Anytime I hear about a yankee swap, I have to repeat it back like Michael.

 Also, Andrew and I quote this all the time.

I would also highly recommend any snow-y episode of Gilmore Girls and of course, last year's Mindy Project Christmas episode because this.

Because let's be real, being able to use this gif largely motivated this post.

 Any non-movie Christmas stuff to add to the list?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

favorite christmastime details

These are things I love about Christmas that other people may not notice but I just completely love.

- When Bruce Springsteen asks Clarence (RIP) if Santa is going to bring him a new saxophone at the beginning of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

- Hot cocoa in a snowman mug with homemade marshmallows (if only Texas would get below 70 this season).

- The twinkling snowflake lights we just hung above our front porch that make me SO HAPPY. No idea why - our Christmas decor isn't going to win any awards but those damn lights just get me.

- The hideous gingerbread snowman Christmas ornament I made in second grade that still has to go on the tree, even if he's in the back.

-In Love, Actually, when the little girl is singing on the stage and for a brief second, the little boy thinks the "And you" is just for him.

- Mrs. Claus telling Santa to "Eat, eatttt" in Rudolph.

- Cadbury Christmas.... round balls that taste just like Cadbury Easter Eggs.

- George Michael whispering "Merry Christmas" in the second verse of "Last Christmas."

- The Barenaked Ladies version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." I can't pick a piece of it. I listened to it twice today and tried, but it just didn't work.

There are probably more, but those are the ones I was thinking of and it was too long to tweet. Any personal favorite details to share?

Sorry if you hate Christmas, but there are possibly two more coming this week. At least I warned you!

Friday, December 12, 2014

for memory's sake

I forget everything, and I'm sure a year from now I'm going to wonder how I spent this Thanksgiving and the time leading up to Christmas. So this post is more for me than you. But it's also to say hi.

We spent Thanksgiving in Delaware with Andrew's dad and sister. It was much colder there than it was in Houston but no snow, so I was bummed. We flew into Philadelphia and ate lunch at High Street. It was on Bon Appetit's list of Best New Restaurants for the year and I got what was supposed to be the best grilled cheese sandwich ever (seriously, that was the name on the menu) but it was just... eh. I mean it was good but like every other grilled cheese I've ever had, I was kind of over it halfway through. We also went to the Liberty Bell which was underwhelming since the school I work for has an exact replica that I see every day. And there were TONS of kids. Wow.

My grilled cheese | The Bell | My FIL and SIL's dogs at the beach | The only thing Andrew had to do in the kitchen for Thanksgiving, ha.

I finally read the book Defending Jacob and I pretty much hated it (I found it predictable and I hated both the narrator and his son). The restaurants we had been to before in my father-in-law's town weren't as good as they used to be, but he did take us to a Mexican place that was really good. And I took lots of naps. It was nice. When we went back to Philadelphia for our flight home, I really wanted a cheesesteak. Google took us to a pork place that was supposed to have great cheesesteaks. We split a pork sandwich and a cheesesteak and both were just okay. Philly, you let me down. I need to go back just to eat again! But I did get my beloved Thrasher's and tons of Entenmann's donuts as well as a donut from the Fractured Prune, so don't go thinking I starved or anything.

Since getting back to town, things have been crazy. My job goes a little crazier in December since there are so many parties to coordinate PLUS Andrew and I decided to host a housewarming party this past weekend. I really like hosting in theory but always forget how much work it's going to be. But, it was fun to have a lot of my family (including all four of my parents) and several of my friends come over and check out the new place. I was just tired when it was all over. Oh, and worlds collided when an old friend who knows nothing of my blog life grilled a blog friend about how we met. She played dumb like a champ and I'm so grateful because how do you explain blogs to non-bloggers? She even made a comment about mommy bloggers at one point. I had to bite my lip since said blog friend writes for a mom's blog group.

With Heidi, Miranda, and Bre. Of course I had to take pics with blog friends because I knew they would understand.

This past week I worked on events, first at the gorgeous and restored 1910 Courthouse and then at a fancy country club (George Bush 41 is a member, y'all) and they went mostly well and I'm glad they're over. Just one more week and then I get to be off for two!

I've gone a little nuts with Christmas decorating in the new house. We still have Bullwinkle, of course, and I semi-homemade some lit garland: bought pre-lit garland at Michael's, wrapped wired ribbon around it (sheer gold so you can still see the lights) and then used floral wire to attach Christmas balls to it. I'm always so proud of myself for finishing even the simplest DIY. We had to have new stockings and a new tree skirt, of course, and we started collecting a Christmas village. Our village currently contains a cookie factory, a pancake house, and a Christmas store... clearly it covers your basic needs.

That's the Cliff's Notes version. I love the days when I can come home and actually sit on my couch and watch TV without passing out. I miss my pets and since we returned from Delaware, Bauer rarely lets us out of his sight. Things are busy but good. I hope your things are, too.

Monday, November 24, 2014

thankful post

A weekend/Thanksgiving combo post, since it will likely be my last for a while.

- I'm thankful for blog friends always, but especially this weekend. Nadine came to the Houston area for a wedding and we got to meet up for breakfast. We were in an area I never go to (another suburb, sadly not "in the city") so I was lost as to where to take her and we ended up at Fielding's where we both just ordered pastries, bacon, and potatoes. It was so nice to meet someone I've been talking to for over a year now! I wish I could have taken her to some of my favorite places but, next time for sure. I also got a fun package in the mail from Liz. Her boyfriend started a sauce making business and because we love our barbecue, she sent Andrew and me a bottle of barbecue sauce to try. It's really good - sweeter than the Texas-style sauce that I'm used to - so I'm excited for some variety next time we have barbecue (which, let's be real, will likely be in a week or two).

Sorry for the regrams!

- I'm thankful that one of my work friends lives in the area and is excited to include Andrew and me into her friend group. Her friends hosted Friendsgiving this weekend and were nice enough to invite us. We made headdresses, drank wine, played Catchphrase, and ate awesome apple pie. They were all so warm and I'm excited to get to know them all better.

- I'm thankful to live in a place full of parks and trails and places to explore. On Sunday, Duncan and I walked nearly four miles (!!!) to find the neighborhood butterfly garden. It wasn't as cool as promised. But, on the way, we did find a lake that was really pretty. Last weekend, we were freezing, but this weekend, temperatures were in the 70s so the weather couldn't have been much better. You have to love Houston weather.

The best I could get with an 80 lb dog trying to chase everyone at the park!

- I'm thankful for new challenges. Some things have happened at work that are going to make me work harder and have more projects, but I'll also be stretched out of my comfort zone and be able to learn new things. It might not be the easiest thing, but I'm excited about it.

As my presence in blogland has been next to nothing lately and I feel guilty about the frequency with which I respond to comments, I've turned them off for this post. Have a nice Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2014

life lately: fall 2014

Just to document life lately:

- You may have seen my tweet already, but I kind of already made Andrew buy me us our fifth wedding anniversary gift: Tickets to the ATX Television Festival to see the Gilmore Girls reunion. I have such an attachment to that show. I had to be home to watch every show, or else I recorded it on my VCR (and later, DVR) and I discussed it on the phone with my best friend at the time. I even bought the "Reading is Sexy" tshirt Rory wore in one episode (I want to say season six or seven). I made Andrew watch the entire series and vowed to love him like Lorelai loved Luke in our wedding vows (because she did love him, dammit, and in my head, they got together in the end). It never gets old and I love it so much and I am THRILLED to go breathe in the Gilmore air. So that's happening in June.

- On Saturday we went to Nutcracker Market. It's a market that happens once a year and there are all kinds of things for sale, but mostly Christmas decor and gifts. I was really looking forward to it this year but I found that a lot of things were more expensive than I thought they should be or just weren't my taste. Oops. I guess I'll be hitting Hobby Lobby and Michael's this weekend to see what I can DIY...

- Houston friends, we tried the new Pondicheri Bake Lab. Pondicheri is an indian restaurant that I've been to before, and it's good. The bake lab has spices, coffee, a juice bar, and desserts. Andrew and I shared the chocolate brioche (great) and I got the last of the madras coffee which was creamy, spicy, and delicious. Like a cousin to a chai latte but maybe better.

- We had yet another amazing dinner at Oxheart (the #1 restaurant in Houston according to the Top 100 list). The onions cooked in goat's milk were my favorite (sounds weird but it was awesome). There was also a stew made with "last year's cabbage" that totally gave me pause, but it was fermented cabbage and the stew was really good. They have a record player in the restaurant. It was playing Thriller when we walked in (a personal favorite in our house), then went to Ella Fitzgerald, then a familiar voice came on... I thought no, this can't be, and on vinyl? Upon hearing "Yeahhhh we're happy free confused and lonely in the best way" I knew that we were in fact, listening to an actual Taylor Swift record. I confirmed that it was vinyl with our waitress, who also confirmed that it was the chef's choice of the evening. I told her I would be listening for 1989 on our next visit (just checked Amazon, it comes out on vinyl on December 9th, so of course it went on my Christmas list).

- I am insanely obsessed with the Serial podcast and if anyone besides Kerry (who is probably tired of hearing me talk about it) listens to it, then let's talk because I don't know what I think anymore. Since I last mentioned it, I've caught up, started listening to Slate's podcast about the podcast, and read all of Rabia's blog posts about it. Can't get enough.

This is the last real week of work before Thanksgiving and then December is here and life goes crazy. Weren't we just at this place? Where did 2014 go? 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

making a house a home: things I bought that I love

* title shamelessly stolen from Mindy Kaling's blog that I read when I didn't really know what a blog was.

So moving is expensive, especially if you have to buy a bunch of new stuff to fill your said house. I want all my new things to pull double duty and not only be great and useful in my house, but serve as blog fodder, too. So here are things I bought that I love.

My living room, to the right of the fireplace, is pretty much my favorite corner of the house. I'm in love with this stained glass piece (wrote about making it mine here) because I feel like it fits into my colorful, collected eclectic decor scheme I  have going on. I always knew I wanted to put it here, and it seems right at home.

While we were packing, Andrew came across old records he bought in high school that still looked to be in great shape. He said we should buy a record player and I thought that was the best idea ever. I knew that we would have to put our TV stand next to the fireplace, so I wanted to get a neat looking record player to put on top of it. We looked into vintage record players, but restored ones were too expensive and older ones came with potential issues, so we got this one at Target. It was honestly not one of our best researched purchases (we saw it in the store, it was pretty, we had a coupon, and so we bought it) and it does have some issues, but it normally works itself out and we're in love. Going to Half Price Books and looking for new (to me) records is my new favorite activity and once I realized they have $1 clearance records (!!!!) I have to stop myself from visiting every few days. The sound the record makes before it hits that first note and just the way the music sounds are so much better than I ever realized. We've also bought a few more current records, but the old (and cheap) ones are my favorite. Seriously, Thriller for $1? You can't beat it.

Our old house had one eating area; the new one has a formal dining room and a breakfast nook. Our "old" (less than a year old) table works perfectly in the formal, so we needed a smaller table we could use every day. I knew it needed to be small and round, and I kept seeing mismatched chairs and loved that look. I thought I might be able to DIY something, so I started looking on craigslist and found Reluvd. It's owned by a couple who finds and refinishes furniture to sell and rent. Seriously, their warehouse is like a beautiful pinterest project explosion. They already had a table ready to go that was exactly what I was looking for, so I was able to look through their chair selection (literally hundreds) and choose what I wanted them to refinish for me to match the table. I was hoping to have at least two chairs with cushions to add color to the space and then two more conventional chairs. I love the ones I ended up with - the padded ones (that I recovered myself with $20 worth of fabric from Joann) are cheapies that were made in China and the others are Ethan Allen that Reluvd sold me for a steal. I hate that our new house is so far away from their warehouse but that won't stop me from continuing to stalk their facebook in case they have anything else I might want...

Then there was a mirror that was just meant to be. I knew that our sofa table was going to become an entry table in the new house. I knew I wanted a mirror to prop up on it, and for some reason, a window pane mirror seemed like the perfect thing. All the ones I found at Kirklands and Home Goods and those places weren't quite right or were too expensive. When I went to the antique mall the second time to get my beloved stained glass mirror, I saw the perfect mirror in the next booth. Andrew wasn't with me (I do like to get his approval, since he lives in the house, too) and I didn't have enough cash to get it that day, so I took a picture and left it behind. I kept online shopping all week, realized it was a fantastic price, and went back the next weekend (with plenty of cash) to see if it was there... and it was. And it was marked down. I claimed that thing immediately and it's perfect.

Honorable mentions: Bath and Body Works Sweater Weather candle, pumpkin in our front yard, ridiculously soft Target bath mats, beehive cream pitcher.

This candle is a favorite in our house | No idea why I love this pitcher so much

I take forever to make decisions. I shop around I read a lot of reviews. But I want my house to tell a story, and I love that my favorite things aren't just the little things I've grabbed at Target (believe me though, there is A LOT of that). They're things with a story, that I searched for an had to have. It isn't the best or easiest way to decorate, but it's been fun for me so far. What are some of your favorite things in your house?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I feel bad about my reading habits

When I was a kid, I loved books. I was an only child, so the characters were like friends and I constantly had something to read with me where ever I went.

I blame the internet for my demise. In high school, I started to prefer the warm glow of AOL instant messenger to my book friends, and reading became something I did rarely, if ever. I still like it, but making time for it (and time to go to the library or shelling out money for new books) are just something I don't do as often as I should. But every once in a while, a mood strikes me. I've been in one of those moods the past few weeks so I wanted to share via Steph's linkup.

I've been meaning to read Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck for ages. I picked it up when we were in Dallas a few weeks ago (for $1!) and thought that reading it as I approached my 30th birthday seemed appropriate. It's short stories of Ephron's observations, mostly spanning her life (she wrote When Harry Met Sally among other things). She talks about falling in love with an apartment and the way she expresses herself through food and has a funny outlook on child rearing. This book was beyond my current stage of life but I still found it to be interesting. Plus after wikipedia-ing her, I learned that she was married to Carl Bernstein and knew who Deep Throat was for years before he came forward and no one believed her. I found that fascinating.

Flat Out Love has been all over blogland, so I thought I would give it a shot. It was a free download on my Kindle. I knew there was a companion book, but I didn't know what it was about. Honestly I was trying to read a preview when I accidentally downloaded it, but oh well. I thought it was a book written for adults but it seemed very YA, which is fine but not what I wanted. I figured out the schtick of it pretty fast so I did read quickly to see how it was revealed, but overall, I thought the story was kind of silly. I read it in less than a day, though, so if you want something light, then it's... fine.

I've read both Mindy Kaling's and Tina Fey's books, but I want to reread them and then get Amy Poehler's. There's also a library nearby that I really should check out... any suggestions? I seem to like short stories rather than novels, probably because I tend to abandon books for weeks at a time. I'm not much of a fan of chick lit or romance novels, either.

I'm kind of cheating because this isn't a book but I feel like Steph supports rebels. People have suggested that I listen to audiobooks since I have a long commute but again, I'm cheap. I heard about Serial from a few bloggers and I was intrigued. I like listening to people talk while I'm in traffic and it was free and I heard it was addictive. I. am. hooked. Serial is a podcast (easily downloaded on an iPhone) that is telling the story of a murder that took place in 1999. A high school student was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend, but the reporter/narrator has taken an interest in the case and explains a new aspect of it in each "episode." (The first one was about an hour, the rest have been around thirty minutes). A new one comes out each week for apparently as long as there's story to tell. The story is told through interviews with witnesses and people close to the victim and the man accused of killing her. If you like Dateline then I totally recommend it. There are a lot of articles about it, too, so if the podcast isn't enough, you can read lots of commentary (and we can discuss because I'm on episode six and I don't know what I think!)

Life According to Steph

Friday, November 7, 2014

making a house a home: the cribs style tour, part two

If you're really into houses and you want to see what the downstairs of my house looks like, check out yesterday's post.

Okay, so now we can go to the backyard. The door is just off the breakfast nook and opens to a large covered deck. Duncan loves having a protected place to hang out outside, and we can't wait to get more furniture out here to hang out with him. Andrew is going to build a little area for his smoker, too. We both love that there is green space behind the house so we'll never have back neighbors. I have no idea why our grass is dying. We have a sprinkler system but I accidentally broke it already.

I forgot to take pics before Daylight Savings and clearly I had a photobomber on my hands.
Still left to do: Put down pavers for smoker, buy outdoor furniture, convince dog that he loves his dog house (yeah right).

Back in the house, I'll show you upstairs. One of the things I loved about this house is that the stairs were laminate and not carpet. I have no idea what to do along the stairway wall. I'm thinking of trying to collect something, like vintage mirrors or window panes, or even pictures of something specific, but we haven't found anything yet. There's a hallway at the top of the stairs and you can go left or right. Walking down the hall, you can see into the living room and entry way. If you go to the left, you'll come to our game room and office/craft room. The game room is open and you can see into the entry way from it. We just got couches to put up there and we plan to use this room for watching Blurays or when Andrew wants to play video games (I normally sit nearby and read or blog). The computer and printer go in the office/craft room. I would love to use this room for gift wrapping or scrap booking or whatever fun hobby I'm currently in the mood for. We also have all of our books in here and all of my extra picture frames, candles, etc. are in the closet so I can see what I have when I get the urge to do some redecorating. We have this extra chair and a half that's in here for now, but it may get craigslisted soon.

View from game room looking down (also Bauer's new favorite perch which TERRIFIES me | The greenspace as seen going up the stairs | From the bottom of the stairs looking up to the game room

The game room from two angles and then the craft room/offce on the top right
Still left to do: Go through old paperwork and file or shred, get a small desk chair, maybe recover couch pillows

To the right of the stairs, there's another bathroom and two more bedrooms. One is a spare bedroom with our old spare bedroom furniture. Nothing too special. I know I'm breaking the home decor rules with the rug but it's in great shape and I don't know where else to put it! The other room was just going to be a "junk" room but my mom was getting rid of a futon, so we took it. Normally when we have guests, we have my father-in-law and sister-in-law, so having two places for them to sleep is a plus. Both spare bedrooms have TVs with DVD players so our guests can watch movies or hook up their laptops if they want to watch TV in bed.

Still left to do: Get a hook for the hand towel in the bathroom. I think the spare bedrooms are fine considering the amount of use they'll get, but is there anything you would do to make it cozier?

A lot of people have asked us why we got such a big house for two people. Honestly, there's no real, good answer. The game room and 4th bedroom are beyond what we were looking for but they're both nice to have. If Andrew is watching football, it's nice to have somewhere to go besides our bedroom if I want to watch TV. When we have company, if the women split off from the men, there are two places to go. We don't need all this space, but we'll definitely find a use for it!

So basically, that's my house. I'm really loving life out here. My commute to work is cut nearly in half (but Andrew's drive home is longer). We've found a lot of cute, local restaurants. My coworker friend has invited us into her friend group, Duncan and I go on walks almost every day, and we're trying to meet the neighbors. There are trees everywhere and so far, watching planes land has yet to get old (we're really close to the airport). It isn't pinterest perfect, but it's ours, and that's more than enough.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

making a house a home: the cribs style tour

Hey y'all, welcome to my crib. Today I'll call it my Humble abode. The suburb we live in is spelled Humble but is pronounced "um-ble" because Texas is weird, so make sure you're saying it right.

This is our house! Most houses in Houston are brick, either all the way around or on three sides with siding on the back side. This house is all siding. All the homes in our part of the subdivision are like that. It's different, and we really liked that. We also have a front porch, which is unique to a lot of homes in Houston but again, is something you see in all houses in our section of the neighborhood.

Still to do: Spraypaint the knocker and paint or remove the kickplate

Walking through the front door, there's the formal dining room on your left. The furniture we bought this past spring worked perfectly in there; we just added a new rug, curtains, and placemats. The doorway goes through to the kitchen, but we'll get there. A lot of my fall touches are out right now, so things will definitely change in the new year I'm sure. The wine rack was actually in a bedroom in our last house because we liked it but didn't have space for it. I'm happy we kept it.

Still left to do: find artwork to go above the wine rack.

To the right of the front door, you can see the stairs and a hallway that takes you to the garage, half bath, coat closet, and utility room. I'm oddly fond of the half bath because it's the first room I decorated in my head before we moved in. I love the wainscoting, too. When we first moved in, the mirror was so tall I couldn't see myself in it. We fixed that pretty quick. I love the utility room because it's a logical place for Bauer's litter box - no more putting it in an area we use daily. We also have tons of storage in there for Christmas decorations.

The half bath, the view of the entryway from inside the house, and a peek at all of our storage space. I spared you a shot of Bauer's litterbox.

I put our old sofa table in the entry hallway. I love the window mirror on it (more about that in another post) and the "Happily ever after starts here" sign I made for our wedding. Our growing record collection is stored on the bottom shelf. Down the hallway is our living room. The whole house has new-ish cream paint. While it isn't my top choice, we're going to live with it for now and might paint some of the rooms with shorter walls in the future. I love the high ceilings and the windows that add extra light. We added a section to our existing couch to fit the space better, but that made our rug too small and I've yet to find one to replace it. We also couldn't fit end tables in our old house, but now we can, so we need to buy those. I know mantles aren't everyone's thing, but I love that this one is a little chunky and I'm excited to be able to decorate it each season. I refashioned our old gallery wall with a few new things so it would be a little taller since the ceilings are so high.

Bottom right photo: We have many very unfortunately shaped lights, don't you think?
Still left to do: Print photo for top right of gallery wall, hang curtains on living room windows, buy end tables, buy area rug. I'm dreading the day the lightbulbs burn out in the ceiling fan and have no idea how to clean those windows!

To the left of the living room is the breakfast nook and the kitchen. The wainscoting and trim around the windows in the breakfast nook is one of the things that made me love this house more than the less expensive version down the street. The kitchen had been redone by the previous owners. I was happy to have white cabinets. I also really like the sink - it's asymmetrical, with one really large, deep side, and a smaller side with a garbage disposal. I never knew I had a sink preference, but apparently I do. We had to replace the faucet the day we moved in because it was loose, but other than that, we haven't touched the kitchen. We have a good amount of storage, but not as many drawers as we had in our old house so I had to get creative and put a lot of utensils on the counter. Our pantry is huge and has lots of storage space for all of our small kitchen appliances. The breakfast nook is another one of my favorite spaces in the house. I wanted to find a wall shelf to display all the fun vintage items and other fun things we've collected and I'm happy to have found one with plenty of space. The table is another favorite thing that I'll talk about more in another post.

I forgot to include better pics of the breakfast nook but they will follow when I talk about my beloved table more!
Still left to do: Buy a new fruit bowl and find something funkier to replace the vase next to the fridge (it's where we put bottlecaps that I save for some weird reason). Find frame and hang print in breakfast nook. Buy new placemats.

The master bedroom is also downstairs, and it's the space that is the farthest from being done. Our old bedroom furniture was a hand-me-down from Andrew's dad, and while it was nice, it wasn't my taste. We got an iron bed frame to go along with the vintage, collected decor of the rest of the house. Just off the bedroom is the master bathroom, which is huge compared to our old one (which had roughly 15 square feet of floor space). I've found that I'm not a huge fan of the shower stall (I hate getting my face wet) but my love of the tub makes up for it. Our closet is on the other side of the bathroom, and we put our dresser in there. There are also built-ins where I created a little jewelry station for myself. It makes getting dressed more fun, in a way. In our old house, I felt claustrophobic if I had to get ready with the bathroom door closed, but I don't mind it in this house at all.

I haven't decided if I want a bedskirt or another rug next to the tub yet. The future bedroom sitting area will be next to the floor lamp.

Still left to do: Buy nightstands, a small dresser to go under the TV, and a slipper chair for a small sitting area. Find art and maybe curtains. Hang candle holder above bathtub and find something to hang over towel bar. If we have any "leftover" art, hang it in the water closet (not pictured because it isn't very exciting).

We still have lots to do before it's "done," but it definitely already feels like home. I'll show you the backyard and upstairs tomorrow!

Linking up with Joey and Kristin

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

it was my birthday

And if  you read that title a la Dwight Shrute's birthday banner, then we'll get along just fine.

I turned 30 on Friday (yes, Halloween). And while I wanted to make a big ol' thing about it on my blog, I never found the time or energy to do so. I have no wisdom to impart, no bucket list of things done... it was just a birthday like all the rest, except the number on the left was changing. My husband is in his thirties, lots of my real life friends are in their thirties or beyond, and lots of my blog friends have turned thirty without falling apart, so I figured I would quietly join their ranks. But that doesn't mean I don't want to talk about what I did.

So I'm a firm believer that you should not go to work on your birthday, assuming you have a vacation day tucked away. I do not want to answer emails or make small talk on MY day. This year, Andrew decided to take the day off, too, which was nice but I did complain about a little since I am horribly ungrateful but I like what I like. I always get up around 9:00 and then watch Kelly and Michael (and all of the things it was before) because they have the best costumes. Then I usually go shopping and end up at Starbucks for a salted caramel mocha. It's just what happens.

This year, Andrew woke me up with Kelly and Michael paused and coffee made. He had decorated the house (granted, I did leave out all the birthday decor for him... sometimes you have to insist on ridiculousness) and I returned some phone calls from family members checking in and opened presents (my friends Kate [Spade] and Kendra [Scott] made appearances this year). I slowly got moving and got packed for the staycation he booked for us downtown.

View from my couch of one of the birthday banners. You can see that we were watching Kelly aka Piper and Michael aka Crazy Eyes.

We went to Triniti for lunch, which is on the Top 100 Restaurant list and hosted Michelle Obama a few months ago. It was beautiful inside and the food was really good. Somehow our drink order was lost, and we honestly didn't even mind, but as soon as someone saw the oversight, they comped our drinks and gave us two vouchers to use on our return visit. I was super impressed with the whole experience.

After that, we went to Kuhl-Linscomb, which is an upscale boutique with lots of gift and home decor items. I thought it was awesome but very expensive so we didn't stay too long. Since I had gotten two pairs of the same Kendra Scott earrings, I went to exchange one. When I did, I mentioned that I wasn't in their system to get a birthday coupon (50% off one item) so the girls working there were super nice and told me to pick something out for half off. Another customer service win. After that, we were close to Cloud 10 Creamery so we had to stop in for ice cream. We split two scoops - sour cream with banana jam and sweet potato marscapone. Both were excellent.

We checked into the hotel and had some down time in which I was still full and didn't want to start drinking yet. There's a nice movie theatre nearby, so I decided we should go see Gone Girl (if you like the book, you'll like the movie. It was a really good adaptation). We got out and started people watching by getting some food at Batanga and then drinks at Moving Sidewalk. It's a new bar and I liked that the outside of the menu had a graph on it going from light to boozy and bitter to sweet with the various house cocktails plotted on points so you knew what you were getting. These two guys were in furry dog costumes and had lingerie on over them. They looked ridiculous and told the bartender they were sexy bitches which cracked me up.

We went to Bad News Bar for more people watching and then down the street to Public Services which is new and serves wine and whiskey. I said it reminded me of a hipster granny's house because it was all antique furniture and old decor. It was very quiet and bright - the kind of place you would want to go to really talk to people - and I liked it. But, I was tired and knew that my 30-year-old self couldn't handle many more drinks so we called it a night when we were done there.

See, it totally doesn't look like a bar | I could eat this bagel combo daily and be fine with that

Saturday morning we went to my beloved Revival Market because it was Bagel Saturday (every Saturday they have a different awesome treat). We checked out a few shops and a fall festival in the area, and then I was kind of over shopping and requested that we go home. So we did. I guess my old age is making me even more of a homebody.

Some other highlights:

- On Wednesday, we went to Coltivare for dinner because they had gotten in fancy truffles that they were giving away for free on some polenta. It was delicious and according to Andrew's  math, about a $100 dish. Add that to the bucket list (also I was singing about tuxedos for no reason in my head the whole night).

The polenta topped with truffles and a butternut squash and brussels sprout salad which was awesome, too.

- Coming home on Thursday to a surprise birthday package from Kerry. So unexpected, thank you my friend!
- There's this awesome thing called Tiff's Treats that basically sends you still warm cookies to your home or office. Well, the things I like are well-known because I got three dozen at work on Thursday.

Two of my three dozen, with milk and beautiful blue hydrangeas from another work friend.

- I love Entenmann's chocolate glazed donuts and they aren't available in Houston so I was thrilled when my father-in-law sent me two boxes with my gift (I probably would have been happy with just the donuts, but let's not tell him that...)

So that's how I spent my Halloween birthday. Next year is my Golden Birthday (31 on the 31st) so I'm already excited to see how I'm going to spend that!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

making a house a home: the new place

So I think we have finally, mostly unpacked. A few people asked me for house talk and pics, so those few people are getting what they asked for. Sorry, everyone else. But, who I am kidding, I mostly want to remember this awful/awesome time in our lives.

Let's rewind. If you remember, a simple news article I read to Andrew is what set this whole thing in motion. I asked him the other day if he thought we would have moved had I not brought it to his attention and he said he didn't know, which translates to no. We've considered moving twice before so we knew we were basically on the same page. Since our purchase of a new house was dependent on the sale of the old house, the timing had to be perfect. We kept our eye on real estate listings daily and very few things caught our eye. Houston's real estate market is booming and a lot of great homes were out of our price range.

Here's what we were looking for:

Two stories (just personal preference, no real reason)
Covered outdoor space
No pool
Large master bathroom and closet (enough space for us to get ready at the same time, hampers, etc.)
Indoor utility room
High ceilings
Gas stove
Built in 2000 or newer

And here are some things I was oddly picky about:
Double sinks in the bathroom
No door to the backyard in the living room (I prefer it in the breakfast nook)
As little carpet as possible

This one house kept popping up, as did one down the street that was the same floor plan. One was more expensive since it had more upgrades. We toured them both on our own, since we had yet to receive an offer on our old house and our realtor didn't want to look with us until an offer was in place. And, something about the more expensive home (of course) just felt right to us. A week went by, and both homes were still on the market when we got the offer on our house. After that, we told our realtor that we had found THE house. We put in an offer (I went into a little more detail about that here) and it was accepted! Honestly, house hunting for us was so easy. We did a lot on the internet, there weren't many choices, and we got really lucky. I was really looking forward to a day of hating perfectly good houses and an agonizing decision, though.

As far as moving, we did as much as we could ourselves and with my mom and step-dad. All boxes and light furniture came with us. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but since the houses were 48 miles from one another, we put in a lot of miles and spent lots of time just driving back and forth. We hired movers for the heavy stuff and they made everything look so easy that in the future, we would want to put as much in their hands as possible. I was mostly just happy when it was all over.

Our last pic outside our old house | One of many trips | Boxes | Bauer loved the giant wardrobe box | Duncan wanted to ride shotgun on the way to the new house

So, back to that list from the beginning. Does this house have everything we want? Almost. It only has one sink in the master (#thestruggleisreal) and there's no gas stove. The entire house is laminate or tile, so that was a huge, unexpected bonus (but man, why are rugs so expensive?). It has things I never knew I wanted, though, like green space beyond our back fence, an improved commute to work (for me - Andrew's is worse), and a huge dishwasher. It's been a month now, and I still look around the house and it feels too good to be mine. I've just never had a place that I picked out and that I was proud of - I went straight from my parents' house to living with Andrew. And now I do. But keeping it in good shape is a lot of work. Should have added "live-in maid" to my must list...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

we did dallas

A few months ago, pre-Ebola scare, Andrew and I bought tickets to see the New York Giants play in Dallas. He was born and raised a Giants fan and I've learned to love them in the almost nine years we've been together. Since it's a four hour drive, we decided to make a little weekend of it.

We got to Dallas and stopped for lunch at Off-Site Kitchen. It's a small place with counter service and a large patio. The 48-hour smoked brisket was highly recommended, so Andrew got that (it was freaking fantastic) and I got the bacon chile cheeseburger with special sauce. Also good, and great prices. Small place with no frills that I would recommend if you were ever in the area.

Repost from Instagram

We checked into our hotel then went to the JFK Museum. I went in high school but didn't remember much, and Andrew had never been. He is really into JFK and all of the different theories about the assassination, so I thought he would like it. Tickets are $16 each and everyone gets a headset to go up to the 6th floor of the book depository where Lee Harvey Oswald (allegedly) shot JFK from. There aren't too many artifacts to see at the museum, and you get a lot of information overload between the headset and all of the info presented on the panels. It's an interesting historical account of the facts of the day and looking out the window and seeing the X painted on the road where the fatal shot hit the President is a unique experience. I think it would be better on a weekday, or if you had a lot of time to listen to the headset and read all the panels - a Saturday afternoon was just too crowded. But we got the gist of it, and also walked out to the grassy knoll and saw where Zapruder stood for his famous film.

Next to the grassy knoll. The spot you can see on the road is an X which marks the spot JFK's car was at when the fatal shot hit.

The next stop on our tourist's trip to Dallas was the Dallas Arboretum. I admit that basicness took over and I had to go see its awesome pumpkin village in person. Can you blame me? The pumpkins were the main attraction, but there were lots of paths and flowers and plants. It was a beautiful space.

So so many pretty spots. Photos don't do it justice.

After that, we wanted to check out Half Price Books' flagship store since it was nearby. It was huge and very impressive, but unfortunately, everyone must look there for record bargains because we didn't find anything amazing.

So lately, and I know this is a shock, but I have been food-ed out. I just wasn't in the mood to get dressed up and eat a big meal on this trip. Andrew found a place that had won awards in Dallas magazines for being great for coffee and dessert, so we decided to go there. We followed the GPS and couldn't find it, so I turned to Yelp and realized... it was inside a mall. Now, think about it... how many great restaurants have you dined at inside a mall? But a plan was a plan and I wanted to stick to it, so we went in the mall, found the restaurant, and even though there were several empty tables, we were told we had to wait fifteen minutes. A table still wasn't ready, so we left.

Deep Ellum is an up-and-coming part of Dallas. It had some highly rated casual restaurants so Andrew suggested we go there since I didn't want anything fancy. Sometimes in life, especially when we are together, it seems that the simplest tasks are made exceedingly difficult. Finding parking in Deep Ellum was one of those things. After 20 minutes of driving around, we gave up and headed to another location of the first restaurant we tried.

The restaurant is called La Duni, and to put it simply, it kind of sucked. The service was bad, food was "eh," and the dessert that had been touted as award-winning and the best of Dallas was overpriced and nothing special. At least my mojito was good. We stopped at the hotel bar on our way back to the room and if we're snapchat friends, then you saw that I took a glass of wine to bed with me to watch Jeopardy. Party animals.

The next morning, we went to Ascension for coffee which was good, but again, more expensive than I'm used to (and I spend money on food all the time!). We made our way back to Deep Ellum to get in line for barbecue at Pecan Lodge. When we visited last year, I fell in love with their mac and cheese, so I was pretty excited for a return trip. We got there at 9:30 fully expecting a line (common at top Texas BBQ places) and there was none... the next person didn't arrive until 10:10. We were joined by many more in line by the time the doors opened at 11 (including lots of Giants fans!) and were the first people to order. I wasn't excited about the meat at all and the mac and cheese was better in my memory. I don't know if it was the fact that they changed location or my expectations were too high, but this wasn't my favorite Texas barbecue spot. But, the decor was really cute...

If I ever post a house tour post, you'll see why I loved the decor so much!

After a necessary stop at Eatzi's, a deli-cafe that closed its Houston location years ago, we headed to Cowboys Stadium. Parking vouchers started at $35 online which I thought was insane. I googled a little and came across ParkWhiz. I had never heard of it, but I found parking the same distance as the $35 parking for... $8. I figured it was worth the $8 gamble, so I bought it. You guys, ParkWhiz is legit and it's awesome. Businesses that are close to attractions basically make their parking spaces open to people for a fee. We parked at a law office that was about a mile away. It had an attendant when we arrived (other places had someone the whole time) and we just stuck our pass on the dashboard and that was it. So easy and I love saving money. (Not sponsored, but I needed y'all to know about that site!).

 There was a weird reflective thing kind of like the Bean in Chicago... we're somewhere on the left.

Our seats were awesome | the glasses were awesome (and free) but I sent them to Andrew's coworker since they had an awful Cowboys star on the side | Hi, Eli! (#10) | We could see the small screen and it was plenty big. The large screen was unreal.

Anyway, so after being offered a jello shot for being a Giants fan by a stranger (Andrew wouldn't let me take it... he thought it was roofied), we made it to Jerry World. It was awesome. An open air plaza with dancers and drumlines. A Rascal Flatts concert. Guy Fieri was even there. Those last two aren't my thing, but it was cool that they were offered. Our seats were in the end zone, which was cool, but I really wanted a glimpse of the massive screens almost as long as the field. Unfortunately, you needed tickets to get to that part of the stadium. There were a good amount of Giants fan there, though, so while we did get booed a few times, we had a few allies, too. The lines for the ladies' room was totally manageable, but the line for the men's room was insane, like a herd slowly being allowed into the room. I've never seen that before. The stupid "We dem Boys" song that they play all the time is catchy and I hate that I think so. The cheerleaders never stop moving - it's super impressive. The Giants lost and we were sad, and then we Andrew had to drive four hours home. It was a fun weekend but I've been feeling behind ever since. Also, Houston is still better than Dallas.

Friday, October 17, 2014

some things lately

It's Friday and I'm going to Ebola Central Dallas this weekend. I'm packing plenty of Purell and don't have any plans to get crazy and exchange bodily fluids with any strangers. I'm excited to attend my first-ever New York Giants game, but after the way they played last week (lost 27-0) and the fact that my favorite salsa-dancing player, Victor Cruz, is out for the season, my excitement is tempered. Regardless of how they play, I'm sure Jerry's House is a sight to see so we'll have a great time.

Now, for a rewind. There's been lots of stuff in my head and on my phone that I haven't shared yet.

I read this and I no longer want to enjoy my formerly beloved Two Buck Chuck, yet somehow the $4.99 bottle of wine sitting next to it is still okay in my head. Ignorance is bliss, especially when cheap wine is involved.

In September, pre-move, we went to Austin for a day for the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival. I don't know if it was the threat of rain or the glut of things going on in the rest of our lives, but I was hugely underwhelmed. The festival was as organized as it could be, but several places were disappointing and the best ones had lines we didn't feel like standing in. I think I'll sit this one out next year, but I was happy to experience it once for myself.

On the way home, we stopped in the small town of Smithville, where the movie Hope Floats was filmed. We've stopped there often and I really like the shops in the middle of town - all kinds of vintage items and antiques, a candy shop, and the world's largest gingerbread man, all in one place. Unfortunately, Sunday afternoons aren't ideal shopping times in a small town, so a lot of places were closed, but we'll definitely stop there again soon.

The BBQ Festival with the Austin skyline in the background | Smithville charm | Duncan on the trail

I've decided I love baths. We have a separate tub and shower in the new house which means the tub takes far longer to get dirty when it isn't used daily. I'm fully getting on board the "baths are awesome" train and look forward to spending lots of money at Lush soon... what do you recommend?

For the past few years, Duncan hasn't been very good on his leash. I thought a change of environment might lead to a change in him, so I've been trying to take him out for a walk every day. We've discovered lots of cute paths and trails in the neighborhood and now that fall is finally trying to come to Houston (highs in the high 80s instead of 90s, whoa), it's been really nice to be outside every evening.

There's a pumpkin beer that Andrew developed a love for a few years ago. It's a limited release, and normally there's a two bottle limit at most stores. We normally spend a few days looking for it and getting plenty of bottles so he can enjoy some now and age some for later (especially now that he has his own beer fridge...). Well, this year, I happened to go to a nearby grocery store for gas and found tons of bottles of this beer, no limits, and we were able to get all he wanted. It was a pumpkin beer miracle, I tell you! Maybe our new suburb isn't too bad after all...

And on that note, I think you're pretty much caught up, other than house stuff. I like to be nosy and read about other people's house stuff, so I will probably write a ton about that. Maybe next week. No promises, though. A month in and I still have unpacking to do...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

this is where i jump right back in

Oh hey. Believe me when I say I've missed you all.

We're all moved! And kind of unpacked. I will overshare all of that in another post, surely. If you follow me on twitter, then you know I lived a long ten days with no internet but that problem is now resolved so... no excuses. Except for the fact that I no longer carpool with Andrew so I don't have my extra hour in the mornings anymore. That's kind of an excuse.

In other, non-moving related life happenings:

- I saw This Is Where I Leave You a few weeks ago. The cast is so good and it made me like Adam Driver a lot more (even though he's very similar to his Girls character). The movie itself just feels like it would be better as a book - I bet the characters make a lot more sense on paper. It was good, but not worth full-price admission in my opinion.

- Houston's Food Christmas has arrived. If you've ever clicked on the "Eat" tab above, you'll see that I'm keeping a record of the restaurants I've eaten at that are on Houston's Top 100 List. Well, 2014's list came two weeks ago and I'm pumped to have been to 46/100 (lots of ones I had been to are off the list or have since closed) and eager to try the 54 I've yet to visit. 

- TV is back! What's on your DVR? I'm excited for the final season of Parenthood. I recorded Gotham and Red Band Society too, but so far nothing else new. Between unpacking, working late, and just other general life things, I haven't watched much yet.

- I chopped off five inches of hair. I've been growing it out for years, and it was time. I'm still not sold on it being shorter, but at least it's healthier, so there's that.

Due to the head tilt, it doesn't look as short as it feels, okay? Also, perfect chance to tell you that we celebrated Sarah's baby girl over the weekend! This is Miranda and Sarah if you don't already know them.

- It's my birthday month, and also my last month in my twenties.  More to come on those feelings, for sure.

- Bauer is completely terrified of the new house. It's been two weeks and he won't voluntarily leave my bedroom. Luckily, he has dared to venture from the safety of laying in his letterbox (ew) so... progress?

I've missed blog life and real life and all things not involving unpacking or buying things for the house (very first world problems, I know). I have super old comments that I do want to respond to so expect some very dated emails to hit you soon. So tell me, what's new with you?

Monday, September 22, 2014

goodbye, peppermill

Oh, that house. The house Andrew bought when we had only been dating a few months. The one he saw so much potential in. We went through a phase where we imagined what a deck would look like, and what we wanted to see, and then reality and cost smacked us in the face and we never really spoke of it again.

This is the house where I attempted my hand at gardening. I bought flowers and watered them religiously until they started looking tired and I let them die. We replaced the decaying wood around the flowerbeds, brick by brick, getting dry hands in the process. We got a couch stuck in a hallway and nearly got a van stuck in the garage. I moved in, and Andrew worked nights, and there was my room and our room, until there was just our room and it started to feel like our house.

This is the house Baby Bauer came home to. I still remember going to dinner at The Melting Pot (my, how things have changed!) and coming home to his little face peering into the entry way for the first time, the way he has done nearly every day of his life. When we got laminate floors, the click-clack of his paws on the floor was new to us all; now our house doesn't feel complete without it. The garage is where we spent some of our most trying times, trying to get Jake to eat in his last days. It's where we learned teamwork and compassion and how to say goodbye. I'll miss the duck pond that Duncan and I visited so often in those first few days after his buddy was gone.

We painted the rooms, replaced the sink, and made a home. The attic housed my engagement ring for so many months and I didn't have a clue. This is the home we came home to post-honeymoon, decorated by my maid of honor with rose petals and champagne, and the place where all those DIYs happened. We've celebrated all of our Christmases here so far.

Christmas 2012

I'll never forget the pattern in the ceiling that I stared at so intently the morning we woke up and Andrew suggested I move in. The familiar sound of the screen door opening that lets the pets know not to worry, it's their people who are home. I'll always have a scar on my right forearm forever tying me to this house. My father-in-law accidentally broke the lip on the globe on our ceiling fan, but it was still able to hang. It started falling down one night and I reflexively tried to catch it. It slashed my arm instead, and the scar will forever remind me of him and the room where it happened. And my floors. Oh, those floors. I never knew I could have a love so deep for laminate, but I do.

The house that was ours is on a ridiculously-named street often confused for "peppermill." I hope the new owners have fun spelling it out every time they give their address over the phone. I hope they bring home a kitten or a puppy or a baby for the first time to this place and make their own memories. I hope their meals are shared with people they love and they quickly learn that the oven runs hot. Christmases will be celebrated and I hope they put the tree next to the fireplace - it really does look good there. Maybe they'll have their own vision for the huge yard and they'll execute it, and they'll paint the house colors I never would have dreamed of but wish I had. Mostly, I hope they're lucky enough to build a life and memories there as great as the one we've worked on the past few years.

So, house on Peppermill, this is goodbye. I've hated you and wanted to leave you for as long as I can remember, but now I realize I'm going to miss you and your quirks (except your low water pressure - not going to miss that!). May our life and memories in the new house be even better than those we shared with you.

Friday, September 19, 2014

soon I won't have moving to talk about

As per usual, there will be no apology for my disappearance as of late. Suffice it to say that buying a house is a huge timesuck. We set up everything just to cancel it and set it up again. Deliveries are being rerouted, time off work is being renegotiated, and the packing. Oh, the packing.

Clearly, Bauer is over all the boxes, too.

BUT... there is light at the end of the tunnel full of paperwork and cooperation (and money. Lots of money). We successfully closed on selling our house on Wednesday and now, quite possibly as you read this (7 a.m. central time) we're making it official on our new house. I feel like Beyonce's Put a Ring on It is an appropriate song for the situation, but maybe in a parody form, like Put a Wreath on It? Like I liked it, as in my new red front door, so I put a wreath on it? Get it? Can someone get Weird Al on that?


There's still much to be done with moving and decorating and picture hanging and the like. I basically want to go to Waco, Texas, buy everything at Magnolia Market, and then kidnap Joanna Gaines (form Fixer Upper on HGTV) to make my house look perfect. I keep trying to figure out an affordable, legal way to make this scenario work, but so far, no luck. I guess Hobby Lobby and pinterest will have to do. And antique malls, at which I have become a regular. Apparently there aren't many almost 30-year-olds searching out quirky teapots these days.

Oh, and I applied to be on House Hunters on August 5th because YOLO and all that. I honestly forgot about it because the reality of buying a house was bigger than possibly being on a reality show. I got an email yesterday - six weeks later - from a casting agent asking where we were in the process and that ideally we would be newly under contract. Sorry lady, that ship has sailed... but it's kind of a bummer because how pretentious and ridiculous would I have been? The answer is very. Gotta play it up for the cameras.

Beyond house stuff, I did get to have a little Mindy Project watch party with two of my favorite people and it was great. Thai food (in honor of Beyonce Pad Thai), champagne, and girl talk during commercials. A simple night, so fun, and we've already decided we have to do it again for the finale.

I'm taking Friday and Monday off of work to move and being that Comcast is nothing but problems, who knows when I will actually have internet? I'm sure I'll be posting on instagram because I have to see which filter my new house looks best with, so keep up with me there.

Friday, September 12, 2014

friend time and good finds

This week was s-l-o-w. If only the weekend moved at that pace, am I right?

1) Last weekend, a pastry chef who grew up in my suburb, was on Top Chef: Just Desserts, and who now works in Chicago (I liked her enough to make sure I ate at her restaurant when I visited) came to Houston and did a breakfast pop-up with a Houston chef who was also on the show. I mentioned this to my awesome, food-loving coworker friend and then told her I wouldn't be able to go because the pets had vet appointments and Andrew had to go to work. She texted me a little after 8:00 that morning saying she was on her way with one of everything from the pop-up. Amazing treats (house made plum pistachio pop-tarts, everything kolaches, and funfetti cinnamon rolls to name a few) and good company showing up unexpectedly made my week.

Funfetti Cinnamon Roll  (very sweet, not a ton of cinnamon) | Clockwise: Everything kolache (bread with cream cheese in the center and then garlic, bacon, and green onion sprinkled on top), plum pistachio "pop-tart," basque cake (kind of spongey with a light, buttery middle),  kouign-amann (like a smaller, slightly sweeter and crispier croissant), and chestnut coffee cake (kind of disappointing but maybe I just don't like chestnuts?)

2) I got it in my head that I wanted an antique stained glass windowpane to hang somewhere in our new house. I found one that was perfect and half the price of every other one I found at an antique mall. Twenty minutes after spotting it, I went back to get it, and the dealer had closed his booth for the day. I was so bummed - it was mine. I went back to the antique mall six days later, spotted it laying behind something else, and learned that someone else had put it on hold the day before... but hadn't paid a deposit so it was up for grabs. I held onto it until I handed over my credit card and made it official. I'm the queen of wishing I had bought things when I saw them so the fact that this thing is now mine is a small miracle.

3) I got to have drinks with my friend Heidi the other night! You might remember her because she used to blog but since moving back to Texas, hasn't found the time. I can tell you she's doing great. We went to Heights General Store because they had a $5 happy hour menu. The prices were right and drinks were good, but the food left something to be desired. Maybe if we had spent more than $5 per plate, it would have been better, but we were too busy catching up to care too much about dinner.

4) If you have Kohl's near you and you don't shop there, I think you should start. I'm not a great shopper but I love a deal. A few weeks ago, Andrew and I stopped in because I had one of those great "free money" coupons and found a small patio set for 90% off. After coupons, it was $25! The more I shop, the more coupons they send and they are often $5 or $10 with no minimum purchase. I have no shame running in there just for a bottle of nail polish or something...

5) And for a little moving update - we are currently scheduled to close on selling the current house on September 23rd and buying the new house on the 24th. Our realtor negotiated a seven day lease-back into our contract so we would have a week to move. Movers, cable installation, and utilities have all been set up accordingly... until I got an email yesterday that the buyers of our current house want to try to close as early as Thursday. I'm not prepared! We have plans this weekend that were made pre-move and I'm slightly panicking, but also excited because I'm ready for our new house. I'll keep you updated, whether you like it or not!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

losing my voice

I think if you know me, and especially if you know blog me, then you know that I am mostly as I seem (within reason - I don't want to put ALL my business on the internet). I don't have opinions about books but I have tons about food. I don't love movies but I could binge watch a good TV series all day (please note that "good" can mean Emmy-award winning or a Lifetime movie...). My point is, and to quote my favorite TV doctor Danny Castellano, I'm all in. I don't pretend to be something other than me in real life or on my blog because, quite honestly, that takes a lot of time, and as I often say, lazy always wins.

I have thoughts I share readily. I want to challenge you and be challenged. If you hate a food, I want to know when you last tried it and see if you're open to doing so again. If you love the gym, I want to know what motivates you so maybe it will get me back in my long-dusty running shoes. I want to know the whys and the hows and expect that you want to know them, too. But apparently, to some, the whys and the hows, the questions and the prodding and the difference in opinion comes across as judgement or disapproval.

So what about the times when being me is less than palatable to someone else? When someone feels that I'm not who I seem, that the goods they purchased in building a relationship with me weren't what I advertised? How does one toe the line between IDGAF and caring enough to want to change, to be better, or to at least listen to some criticism? Can you ever go too far when being yourself and not caring what other people think?

I've lately been told that I crossed a line, I went too far, and there's no going back. Just being me wasn't enough and the effort required was too much. It's been a tough pill to swallow. On the one hand, I want to accept the criticism, to be better, and to over-explain myself and my feelings. On the other hand, IDGAF. I'm me and I never pretended otherwise. I don't want to hurt feelings or come across badly, but I can be blunt and I will share how I feel. It's part of the friendship experience - we all have something different we can bring, so let's discuss it, right?

This recent experience has made me feel like I've lost my voice. I want to talk about my house must-haves, but if I don't like something in a house and you have it in yours, will you think I'm judging you? I overthink comments and text messages and the things I say in fear that any semblance of disagreement will come across as negativity. I want to keep asking the whys, keep voicing my opinions, but I worry about how it will come across. I don't like that. I like being me, as tactless and upfront and enthusiastic and opinionated as I can be. I can also be loyal and empathetic and encouraging. It's all a part of the package.

So today I confess that I do GAF. I want to be me, and I want that to be enough.

linking up with Kathy

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

some thoughts, in confession form

It's been too long since I linked up with my friend Kathy so here's what's happening, confessions style.

This has nothing to do with anything, but it's from a place near my house that specializes in building backyard ponds. I loved the HUGE lily pads that look like trays.

- Andrew and I are big on traditions. You may already know about Bullwinkle on the tree and he loves to have crabs on the first Sunday of football season. One year, before football season started, I lamented that we wouldn't be able to have Sunday brunch during the season and I was sad, so he took me to Hugo's for an amazing brunch buffet. And from that year on, we decided to go with it - the last Sunday before football brunchstravaganza. We went this past Sunday and it didn't disappoint. I confess that I ate so much that I didn't eat another real meal for over 24 hours.

- I confess that the amount of joy I felt when I realized Apple would replace my crappy phone battery for free was a bit on the ridiculous side. Not leaving home without a charger and charging at least three times a day made my phone a lot less mobile. It took two hours on a busy Sunday, but my phone is fixed and it feels so good. If you have an iPhone 5 with crappy battery life, see if your serial number was affected.

- Wedding planning and buying a house are similar in that money loses meaning. When you're getting married, it's all "Oh, we have to invite that family of five? What's $500 more in the grand scheme of things?" and then you snap back to reality and realize that there is no other time where you would ever spend that much to share a meal with those people but you do it because they're your family even though you've never met them. With our house, we just had to make a concession that cost us a few thousand dollars. House buying Lauren said why the hell not, let's get this thing sold. Real life Lauren freaked out a little internally because my first car didn't even cost that much. I confess that I'm trying to make sure Real Life Lauren stays out of matters until the papers are signed and we've moved.

- I confess that "collected and eclectic" is the look I'm going for in our new house but I really don't know what that means. Follow me on pinterest as I try to figure it out. (Sidebar, I found something I pinned three years ago that I forgot about that looks eerily like my current living room, so at least my tastes are consistent?)

- I confess that I still don't like or really get pinterest but it has helped me see that wrought iron beds can look cool and updated and I don't have to get an upholstered headboard just because they're everywhere (no offense but my cat will turn that into a scratching post at the first opportunity).

- Finally, I confess that I fell in love with Bath and Body Works' Caramel Bourbon candle over the weekend but $22 for a candle was crazy so I'm depending on blogs and twitter to tell me when they're on sale. Help this non B&BW shopper out!

For those following along with the house hunting saga at home, things are still looking good and if all goes according to plan, we close on buying the new house three weeks from today. I'm more excited for all the new things I can buy than the actual act of moving itself, but I think I'll be the most excited when it's all said and done. I will undoubtedly continue to update about it. Bet you're happy I stopped blogging five times a week!