Friday, February 28, 2014

good week, good food, going texan

With one exception, it's been a great week. Here's why:

1) Monday was one of them dayyyyyys that a girl goes through (come on, sing Monica with me, fellow '90s girls!). We got home from work and Andrew took his time getting into the kitchen to make dinner. When he did, the $23 worth of fish he had bought smelled awful and felt rubbery. I flipped out because we just bought it the day before and called the grocery store. They said we could get our money back as late as this weekend, but I didn't trust that, so we went out to do it that night. I grabbed a rotisserie chicken while I was at the store. We got home, cut the chicken, heated up some frozen creamed spinach, and had the worst dinner ever. I do not like to waste food but a lot of that got doused in barbecue sauce or tossed in the trash. Then the cat threw up on the (just-changed) sheets, the dog kicked over a full bowl of food, and the husband smashed his finger. I had cadbury eggs and hard cider for dinner and went to bed. It wasn't anything really bad, just a lot of annoyances piled on top of one another and I was done.

2) I went to another restaurant on Houston's Top 100 List - Local Foods. I had the smoked salmon sandwich on a poppy seed bagel with cream cheese, dill, and capers with kale and barley as sides. It was all really good! I would definitely go back for more smoked salmon.

My plate and then a salmon close-up. There was definitely a good amount.

3) I got snapchat at the convincing of my coworkers, tweeted about it, and immediately got followed on twitter by some guy who had nakey pictures of his junk in his twitpics that I could see at the bottom of his profile. He should not follow me, but you should. Eatdrinklauren. Lots of pics of Bauer and food. I'm still learning though, so be patient. I think I like it so far.

4) I also went to a newer restaurant, Andes Cafe, this week for lunch. I wanted to go because I have heard of the chef and his story is fascinating (he had a stroke while getting a brain tumor removed that made him lose most of his sense of taste... oh and he probably isn't 30 yet). It's basically in EaDo, for all you Houston people, and it's a large South American menu. Now, I went here wanting a cheap lunch and deciding I was just going to get a sandwich. This was a huge mistake. I got a chicken sandwich but it was super messy which impacted how much I enjoyed it. My dining companions, though, ordered all kinds of things from South American mozzarella sticks (HEAVEN) to tamals (similar to tamales, but not) to a fried rice dish that was apparently amazing but it had shrimp in it. One thing I have learned from my frequent trips to Pollo Bravo is that there is a fruit called lucuma that's common in South America. I have only had it as an ice cream flavor, but it is caramel-y and unlike any other fruit; there is really no comparison. Well, one of my friends got a latte with some lucuma in it and wow.... it was amazing. I want to go back for coffee and the cheese alone!

Salchipapas (french fries with fried hot dogs... I don't get it, but it's a Peruvian thing) | My sandwich looked pretty | The tamals, which are larger than Tex-Mex tamales. 

5) As you read this, I'm running around my school welcoming students from eleven other schools across the US to Houston. We are hosting a competition, which has kept me busy the past few weeks. The thing that I hate is that today is Go Texan Day in Houston; the one day a year where dressing like a cowboy is encouraged and expected city-wide. Trail riders ride horses down busy streets and the whole city gets out their boots and tight jeans, my coworkers included. So, I will have a really hard time convincing students that Texas isn't the way it's sometimes portrayed to be - this is the one day a year where it looks like a total stereotype!

See More Good: I haven't forgotten it; I've had this link stored to share for over a month. I love all of these, but especially the shoe-shiner!

No plans for this weekend and I'm totally cool with that. After all, I'm going to have two days worth of blog reading to do...

              THE GOOD LIFE BLOG       

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

favorite songs - non-singles

I loved to love music in high school and college. The older I get, the harder it is for me to stay on top of what's new. Also? I am awful at remembering song titles and awesome at mishearing lyrics. But, when I saw Elizabeth's link-up to share my favorite songs that were never released as singles, I wanted to play along because so many songs are tied to such strong memories that I really wanted to share.

The Beatles:: Across the Universe

The movie was crappy but man I love this song. It isn't my favorite Beatles song, but it's probably my favorite non-single. I like the nonsensical chorus; I find it soothing.
Favorite line: Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup, They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe

Train:: Half Moon Bay

Save Me, San Francisco came out the year I was engaged and this whole album reminds me of that time: working retail, coming in early, and blaring it over the store's speakers before opening while I counted registers for the day. I just love the feelings in this song and it makes me dream of visiting California and falling in love with the whole state. Also, my favorite lyric felt so true as our wedding guest list ballooned during this time with people we felt we didn't really know.
Favorite line: First came love and a baby carriage / Hardly knew the people at my own damn marriage / where an open bar can open your mind

Dave Matthews Band :: Shake Me Like a Monkey

This CD came out around the same time as the Train CD above and reminds me of the same time in my life - wedding planning. This was the first new DMB music to come out in years, and I basically love the entire CD, but this song is kind of random and the lyric below immediately jumped out at me.
Favorite line: I like my coffee with toast and jelly / but I'd rather be licking from your back to your belly.

John Mayer :: Comfortable

I learned about John Mayer in high school and thought I was cool because no one else had heard of him. I illegally downloaded all of his early stuff and immediately fell in love with this simple love song. I still love the picture it paints, the melody, and everything about it. You must listen to it now. It's hard to pick a favorite line.
Favorite line: I loved you / grey sweatpants / no makeup / so perfect 

Mumford and Sons :: The Boxer

I know, I know, this is a cover but I am including it anyway. It's a bonus track on Babel, I believe. I love Mumford and Sons - I saw them from the front row in June and again in September. I love Marcus Mumford's voice, especially in this song, I love the sadness, and the li-la-lis. Every time it comes on I sing along for half and just listen for the other half. Something about it is so haunting and pretty. And then he sings about whores and it all seems out of place but it works!
Favorite line: Asking only workman's wages / I come looking for a job / but I get no offers / Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue

Matt Nathanson :: Pretty the World

The same high school friend who introduced me to John Mayer also introduced me to Matt Nathanson in high school and I loved him all through college. I think I could devote a post to a few of his songs, but this one popped in my head as a favorite. If you haven't heard of him and like really mellow singer-songwriters, give him a try.
Favorite line: So just take me home / 'Cause I'm a mess and not clean / And I'll lie / Until I believe

Now that I have written this, I'm sure I'll come up with at least ten more songs I should have included. Guess my Spotify will be busy today...

Bleh I hate this cover of Across the Universe but The Beatles aren't on Spotify so this will at least let you know what song I'm talking about!

 photo unknownsongsbutton-linkup_zpsbe5f6b26.jpg

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

what I ate while I was gone

Ten days of no posts means ten days of no food talk and there are some things I just need to document.

- On Valentine's Day, we went to the food truck park. I finally tried The Waffle Bus, which a friend of mine loves. I was unimpressed. I got fried chicken on a waffle sandwich with ancho honey and while I loved the components of the sandwich separately, I felt like they muddled together and as a whole, the sandwich was bland.

But it looked cool...

- We had our dating anniversary/Valentine's Dinner at Oxheart. I have blogged about it at least twice and wasn't going to do so again but it was just awesome. They accidentally brought our first course to other diners but gave us a free glass of wine to compensate. Okay, cool. The servers remember us each time we come in and let us try a not-on-the-menu-yet, brand new dessert they were thinking of adding with a wine pairing and both parts were amazing. The service is great, the food is unlike anything else, and I just love it. A memorable meal, for sure.

Carrots from root to tip including a fantastic dill sauce | Sourdough bread with housemade butter | Smoked swordfish with a cane syrup sauce, cabbage rolls (my favorite), and picked cauliflower | housemade sausage with beets (YUM), beef tenderloin, and sauce made from dried offal which was yummy even though it's made from internal organs | the regular baked chocolate mousse and currant dessert which was great | the extra dessert - basically deconstructed carrot cake - honey cake, cooked carrots, and a cream cheese with candied pecans. 

- Andrew was sweet enough to suggest making a peanut mole using Rick Bayless' recipe, rice and beans, and brussels sprouts with bacon one night for dinner. So so good.

He uses a round cookie cutter to make the rice and beans pretty. I'm impressed every time.

- I went to happy hour with Sara and I thought that $3 wells included all cocktails on the menu. Apparently not. My Moscow Mule was $9. Thank goodness I didn't order a second. These are the problems one faces when one isn't cool enough to go to bars very often.

- A new BBQ place officially opened in Houston. It has been operating as a pop-up for nearly a year and we have gone to that a few times. So, when the restaurant opened, we had to check it out. It opened at 11:00 so we got in line at 9:35, obviously. We were about 10th in line. You could tell a few kinks were still being worked out, but the restaurant was cute inside the and the barbecue was awesome. I typically hate all BBQ place's sides but the mac and cheese and creamed corn at Killen's were fantastic. I also really like their coleslaw and normally coleslaw reminds me of nasty cafeteria food. Turkey is my current favorite thing to order and it was moist and had flavor. The fat in the brisket was rendered into the meat nicely so it tasted great, not like a layer of chewy mess. I got a pork rib and it was good but I didn't feel like gnawing on the bone, honestly. Andrew ordered a pork belly rib, affectionately known as a bacon rib, and oh my gosh.... it's a big, fat, piece of smoked bacon. Completely awesome. This place isn't close to our house at all but we will be back many, many times, I'm sure.

Oh hey, five meat plate. Check out that giant beef rib | My three meat plate looks a little healthier but there was a pile of fatty brisket under that turkey.

- Somewhat food related - I mentioned Costco a few weeks ago and my love for it continues to grow. We had dinner there one night for less than $8. The chocolate frozen yogurt is pretty good and it's cheap. We've grabbed calzones to heat up in the oven on a particularly busy night. They have a liquor store attached that is full of deals. I bought the comfiest PJ pants ever there. Andrew brought me flowers from there and they lasted over a week! Basically, I am a crazy person who will tell you how awesome it is at every opportunity. If only I had a million people living in my house and I could justify buying more stuff there.

... and now I am officially hungry again.

Glossy Blonde

Monday, February 24, 2014

social media detox - what I learned

I was away for a week and the world kept turning, blog posts kept happening... basically it was no big deal.

I would love to tell you that I didn't miss it at all, but that would be a lie. I would love to say that I did lots of productive things but unless marathoning Homeland and starting House of Cards season two (OMG that first episode!) count as things worth doing, I really wasn't. But consciously spending time away from screens? That was great.

I admit, I cheated a little. The idea of my bloglovin getting into the triple digits scared me, so I snuck a few posts (less than ten all week) and marked a lot as read every night. I scrolled Instagram one night (I forgot to uninstall it from my iPad) and honestly? I didn't really see anything that made me miss it. I was away, but not completely. I was more like I once was - on the outside of the blog world looking in.

And you know what, blog world? I kind of like it there. I don't remember the day or the post that made me think that posting four to five times a week was just what bloggers do, or when I thought I needed to follow and comment on so many blogs. While I still like the idea that if I read it, I should comment, do I really need to comment when I have nothing to say? I'm kind of thinking not. I want to be involved, but not so involved. I want time to be missed and to miss my favorite bloggers. I have noticed a recurring theme of bloggers taking breaks, getting tired, feeling burnt out. Y'all - we are doing this to ourselves! How silly, right? This is just a hobby meant to be fun and we are starting to dread it. Let's stop the crazy. Now I see why so many bloggers quit.

The commenting to get comments is my biggest issue now. I want to be a good commenter, but not at the expense of living a real life. Of course I like blog comments, but please don't feel like you have to comment all the time. I'm going to work on not feeling that way. There is no rule book that says we are terrible humans if we don't comment on every post, so let's stop acting like there is one. If you have the time and are so inclined, then comment away! But as for me - I am going to try to stop judging the value of my posts based on how many people comment. I would prefer to leave a few meaningful comments a day to bloggers I am building relationships with rather than crappy comments to bloggers who don't know me from the rest of the crowd. "This blog is for you, dummy" - that's what I keep telling myself and maybe what I should change my blog name to. Maybe not, though. I really do like this name.

I can no longer promise that I will respond to every single comment. If someone says "Happy Monday!" or "Pretty" or something... I don't think I'll respond. Kelli gave me great advice once - she said that just because someone likes her blog doesn't mean she has to like theirs, and vice-versa. It is so hard not to feel mean when you don't follow back but fellow bloggers, please understand - I don't have a kid and I don't cook and I am definitely not the pinnacle of health so if any of those are your focus then it isn't you, it's me. Really.

I think I missed twitter most of all, but I am going to attempt to not feel the need to read every single tweet from everyone I follow. Just scrolling back an hour or so is fine. If you are a fan of the Olympics, this was a great time to avoid social media - I really had no idea who won anything the whole time I was "gone." I also had no idea what was going on outside of Houston, so clearly I need to work on how I get my news.

So that's it. I highly recommend getting away from your online world if you feel so inclined. If not, then that's cool, too. My best advice is do what works for you and don't feel like you have to do what everyone else calls the norm. I've always taken pride in doing my own thing, anyway.

I made Valentine cards for my coworkers with some extra time I had from not blogging! | Andrew was eating a clementine when I picked him up from work one day so I took a slice and a selfie, naturally | This awesome mural is one of my favorite things in downtown Houston, and it's also on the block with my favorite bars.

Friday, February 14, 2014

social media detox

For about a week every month, I go a little nuts. I think you know what I mean. So let's blame that shift in chemicals for everything I say today.

Basically, I'm tired of being an obligation.

Let me explain.

Most of us are lifestyle bloggers and that's great. We write blogs, read blogs, comment on blogs, and respond to our comments. And repeat. Like I said in this post, it's worth it, but right now? I'm tired.

I like comments as much as the next person. I like building relationships. But sometimes I feel stuck in a hamster wheel of commenting to you, you commenting to me, and we both write responses to each other, often the shorter the better because we are doing such a good job building our blogs that we don't have time for quality anymore. I don't want you to comment because you know I'll write back. I want you to comment because you had something to say. I don't want to have to comment on anyone's post. I want to be able to skip a few days without fear of hurting feelings. And I don't think it's that easy. Most of us take things personally because we are human. I know I do.

So I am challenging myself. A week without blogging (both reading and posting), Twitter, and Instagram. To recharge. To miss it. To be missed. If I come back after a week and I didn't miss you or you didn't miss me, then that's okay. You can unfollow me, no hard feelings. After all, if you don't like food, cats, or rambling, then what are you doing here anyway? I do love blogging, I do, but I'm just tired.

And when I come back, I want to love it again. I want to focus on posts that entertain or inspire me, that show me a new perspective on the way the blogger lives or sees life. I want to write posts for me that some people, no matter how small the group might become, find to hold some value. I want readers who are all in - either engaged in a post or not, no more skimming. And I won't skim either. It's the blogging equivalent of looking at your smartphone while someone is talking to you - why bother trying to talk to someone who's only halfway paying attention?

So as I write this Thursday night, full of ideas of what I'm going to do the next seven days without my head buried in a laptop, I'm optimistic. We'll see how I do. I'll miss you, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? I'm excited to see what I do with all the "found" time in my life. I actually have two events coming up in the next two weeks that could use some focus, two lunch dates next week, and a dinner date with a friend. This is all time I normally spend on social media and I feel "behind" when I lose a lunch break. It's perfect timing, really. I also like the challenge of not filling time with Twitter - perhaps I'll pick up an actual book? I've also decided that stockpiling blog posts during this time is okay. My weird experiment, my rules. Who am I to turn away inspiration when it hits? I won't have blog stuff to talk about with my husband on the way home.

I hope you have a lovely Valentine's Day with someone you love- significant other, friend, family, or furry. For the sake of not getting back on the hamster wheel, I have turned comments to this post off (Also? I don't want this to read as attention-y so people leave comments saying don't go. It's only a week - I'm not making a forever exit!).. Emailing isn't part of this experiment so if you want to reach me, feel free to do so that way. Otherwise, I'll be back to let you know how this little social media detox treated me!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

planning a trip to Vegas with my bloggy bff

I swear this isn't a sponsored post - I am just dreaming of a vacation!

Pretty instantly upon "meeting," I decided that Heidi and I were going to be blogging BFFs. Somehow we have just connected and I am crossing my fingers that her husband gets a job in Houston (or at least Texas) and we can be real life BFFs. So like any good BFF, she goes along with ridiculous things that I say. I like to pretend that she is the Ann to my Leslie (from Parks and Rec, but not a doormat; am I the only one who wants Ann to stand up for herself more?). I encouraged her to watch I Am Britney Jean over the holidays and said that we should go to Vegas together, with or without our husbands. Keep in mind we haven't met so this is a pretty farfetched plan, but stay with me here. She has never been to Vegas and I have been a lot, so of course I have put myself in charge of planning our hypothetical trip.

Where We'd Stay: The Strip is my favorite place to stay, even though I admit I've never stayed anywhere else. While the deals might be better on the far ends, I prefer to stay right in the middle. If I'm on a budget, Harrah's is just fine, but if I have a little more to spend, I prefer The Mirage. I have yet to stay at The Bellagio or Caesar's Palace but if I found a deal or came into some money, they would be high on the list, too.

Oh hey Bellagio, I would love a fountain view room.... one day! Though I don't know that I would ever see the city...

What We'd Do: Besides go see Ms. Brit? Go see The Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil, obviously. I watched the Grammy Salute to the Beatles the other night and got positively giddy when the Cirque performers came out during a few songs. I have maybe been to Vegas four times and have maybe seen this show four times. Yes, it is THAT good. I will gush about it for hours if you let me. Also, the cocktails there are expensive but huge and well worth every cent. We would spend our days going from hotel to hotel and checking out all the different themes and spend hours at the Bellagio Fountains. They make me so happy every single time. Notice how there's no gambling on this list? I mean that's cool if you're into it but I always lose and find plenty to do without risking money in a game of chance!

I actually got in trouble for taking pre-show photos in the theatre so this is as close to the action as you get...

Where We'd Eat: There is so much to eat in Vegas! Everything from celebrity chefs' restaurants to an unmarked, unnamed pizza place in the Cosmopolitan with cheap and yummy white pizza served until 3am. I love that there's a Serendipity and a Max Brenner Chocolate by the Bald Man (both originally from NYC) and my favorite, John Phillippe Patisserie, which has the prettiest chocolate displays at its stores. Oh, and I guess we would need some real food too. I'm dying to try the buffet at the Wynn - photos of it are beautiful!

No big deal, just a two story chocolate fountain with milk, white, and dark chocolate. It's massive and smells wonderful.

I know it's crazy, but Brit Brit will be in Vegas for two years which gives us plenty of time to become IRL friends and introduce our husbands and make this happen. I just love Vegas so much because there is so much to do within walking distance and every time I have been, I have discovered something new. It's been two years since my last trip and I am itching to go back. Anything I should add to the best blogger date ever?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

what I thought at 21

I was so excited to turn 21. I was in college, working in radio, and living with my parents. I was going to rent a moonwalk to celebrate but most of my friends had to work an all-day concert the next morning and said they couldn't be out late, so I celebrated by dancing on the pool table at home with my friends instead.

You can't see my feet but I am standing on the pool table at my parents' house because I was 21 and drinking a lot. I know you're jealous of my mid-2000s shrug...

I thought I was going to stay in radio and host a morning show. Move around the country where the jobs were. Get a tiny apartment and finally learn how to cook. Go on a string of bad dates so that I would have something to talk about on this morning show of mine.

But as life so often does, there were other plans for me. I met a guy through this radio job and quickly fell in love. And the dreams of 21 year old me changed and shifted to just dreaming of being with this guy.

I didn't want to move unless he could come with me. I didn't want to work in morning radio because it was less time with him. I wanted to live with him because I never wanted to be away from him. I didn't want to learn to cook because he did it for me (well, to be honest, in those early years he took me out to dinner. A lot. Cooking came later).

If you had told me on my twenty-first birthday that it would be my last as a dateless lady, I wouldn't have believed you. If you told me that I was going to meet the man I would marry a few months later, I would have said you were crazy. It's true what they say - love finds you when you stop looking for it.

So today we celebrate eight years together. Eight years since you asked if you could double dip on our first date and you brought me Jason Mraz's Tonight, Not Again CD instead of flowers. It feels like no time at all, but I don't remember what life was like without you in it. Thanks for changing my 21st year and every year since. I'm so glad I didn't know it all at 21. It means we get to go through all of life's unpredictables together. Happy Eight Years!

My College Graduation, December 2007

Our wedding, demonstrating our secret handshake, June 2010

Rockefeller Center, December 2013
(Sorry, I was going to PicMonkey collage these all nicely but it just wasn't cooperating.)

If you want to read how we met, check out last year's dating anniversary post.

Glossy Blonde

Monday, February 10, 2014

that time I ruined my valentine's gift

Sometimes I write a post just to hold on to a few memories. This is one of those posts.

Friday night, we grabbed a bottle of wine on the way home from work, then went to Pizaro's for pizza. They have this special oven from Italy that cooks pizza at 900 degrees for 90 seconds. The ingredients are sparse but high quality. A salad, a sausage and mushroom pizza, and a bottle of Riesling (no corkage fee!) made for an easy, yummy Friday dinner. I proceeded to go home, camp out in front of the TV, and fall asleep at 9pm during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Oops.

This place is casual and I love that it's BYOB... pizza is good too!

Somewhere in there I mentioned to Andrew that Dave Matthews Band tickets went on sale that day. Our wedding song is a DMB song and we have seen them the past two years. This year, they are doing one full band set and one more intimate set so I really wanted to go (I would have wanted to go regardless, let's be real). He first told me he didn't want to go, then when I told him how the sets would be was all "Oh I wish I had known that, we would have gone." So I look up tickets and find some that are reserved (not in the lawn) and told him and was like "It's meant to be I am buying them RIGHT NOW" and he was like no, don't spend the money, blah blah, we don't need to see them a third year in a row. So I pouted and forgot about it. Then I got home and got on twitter and saw that two of my friends are going and started pouting beyond what someone my age should because I wanna see Dave too! when my phone vibrated and Andrew texted me a screenshot of his email with the ticket purchase confirmation from 10something that morning. He had been lying the whole time to surprise me on Valentine's Day but I ruined that one.... Oops. I would say the moral of the story is not to whine but who am I kidding? I am super excited to go to the concert and hoping I can track down Boyd for another awkward hug like last year.

Saturday started slow, but then we got out to check out the new Costco basically down the street from the house. I have never been to one before and I wanted to buy everything. $30 Toms? $15 queen-sized blankets? And all the food on top of that? We went in undecided on a membership and then fell in love, so we stood in the super long line to get one. We didn't buy anything too exciting this time through but we did buy more paper towels than I can store so I already feel like I need a stockpile room like the ladies on Extreme Couponing.

The most exciting part of the weekend was visiting a food truck park close by. A former favorite food truck, the Modular, decided to focus their efforts on a restaurant, Goro and Gun, a few years ago. A few weeks ago, they opened their food truck back up as Goro and Gun's The Modular with a new look. The truck was painted by a local artist who also painted my favorite animal in the art project I worked on in November. It was gorgeous!

Andrew ordered their Yaka Mien, which was a beef soup with ramen and a 63 degree egg. I tried it pre-egg and it was delicious. I would definitely order it and let him have the egg. A 63 degree egg basically looks like a hard-boiled egg, but the yolk is barely set. You can basically pop it open and stir the yolk into the broth. We also got an order of flash-fried brussels sprouts to share and you guys... they were amazing! They had pickled raisins in them for a little sweetness and I could have eaten two orders on my own, easily.

Andrew ordering from Goro and Gun's The Modular | Brussels Sprouts | The Beef Soup | Mac and Cheese Eggrolls | We were giggling at this unfortunately-named truck. Really people??

I had a party to go to that night, so I just wanted to snack. I ordered beef and mac and cheese eggrolls from a truck called Muiishi Makirritos; they were good, but the beef flavor was almost too strong. It was a really interesting concept, though, and came with a creamy cilantro sauce that I didn't like with the rolls but was great by itself. I wished I had some tortilla chips to dip in it!

My friend since high school's sister had a housewarming party on Saturday night that was pretty much ladies-only, so I left Andrew behind to attend. I have known their family for so long that it was great to see not only my friends but their mom, cousin, and family friend and catch up! The family friend has a cookie decorating business and made cookies as favors. They were so cute!

Sunday was cleaning and laundry day since Andrew was smoking a brisket and was pretty chained to the house. The brisket came out really well and he made smoked guacamole in the middle of the day as a snack. He also grilled corn. I give him a hard time whenever possible but I am really am lucky to have a husband who enjoys cooking. We also started watching Season 3 of Homeland and really, I am kind of getting why everyone hated Dana so much. She is driving me nuts!

So, that's basically it. Do you ever whine and ruin someone's plans? What are your favorite non-single Dave songs? What's your favorite thing to get at Costco? I feel the need to go again already...

Friday, February 7, 2014

five things making me happy right now

After being real and vulnerable on yesterday's post, I feel like being light and happy today. So how about a little refocus onto five things making me really happy right now:

1) Cold weather is hot chocolate weather. Temperatures have been freezing or below every night this week and my hands and feet are never warm. Not like I need an excuse to drink hot chocolate, but being in the mood for it makes it extra delicious.

2) Shameless. Please tell me someone else watches this show? It is completely hilarious and completely offensive to everyone and about everything. This season, they have found a way to make incest funny. I know it sounds terrible, and finding a gif without bad words was hard work, but I am so glad it's back (and that we're paying for Showtime right now and can watch it). If you aren't offended by much at all really, you should give it a try.

3) Football Season is Over! I don't mind football season (when the Giants aren't awful), but I am always glad when it's over. We can go to brunch again! I can sleep in and we can go to the grocery store when we want rather than scrambling to be back by noon! No more Thursday night and Monday nights with football - we can watch our shows! It's a little thing but I like it!

4) Being busy at work. This semester has been a little slow-going, event-wise. This week though, it was like everyone remembered that I exist and could help them. So I have gotten to do what I'm mostly good at. It's nice to be productive.

5) The Olympic Opening Ceremonies. I am so ready for them. They will either be amazing or a huge failure... I am kind of thinking the latter has a good shot. I may not be home to see them, but thank goodness for twitter and youtube - they will provide everything I need to know.

See More Good: A man here in Houston paid the account balances for over 60 kids' school lunches so they could eat a hot meal, rather than the cheese sandwich being given to them since they had delinquent accounts. No matter what mistakes the parents have made, elementary school kids shouldn't have to go without food. What a nice man.

So I really want to know - what's making you happy this week?

              THE GOOD LIFE BLOG        photo H54Fbutton-1_zpsa7aaa665.png

Thursday, February 6, 2014

my honest-est post ever

It's my blog's birthday. I wrote an entire post full of things I learned about blogging, read through them, and realized you have all read them before. Several times. So I decided to stay with the same theme, but to really get real with them. And with myself. And write the honest-est post I've written.

It's kind of hard to believe that for the past 365 days, I have been a slave to my email inbox; pre-blog, email was merely a vessel for groupons and store promotions. No personal communication took place through there. But upon entering the blog world, connecting my comments to my email, and realizing the thrill of the words "new comment on..." in the subject line, I haven't been able to leave my email alone for more than a few hours on a day I post because I love the fun of getting comments. Quality over quantity, for sure, but who didn't get excited the first time their comments got into the double digits? Realizing that people were reading what I had to say and then took the time to comment on it was more exciting than I ever realized.

Speaking of comments - don't you have some days where you wish you could just blog and get comments without giving them? Not that you don't love and adore your blog friends, but aren't there just days where reading words and forming coherent thoughts seems like a lot of damn work? I mean, can't you guys just let me bask in adoration while I give nothing back in return? You know I'm kidding - I love keeping up with blog friends - but had I known how much work it was to find new blogs, connect with bloggers, and build a relationship, would I still have done it? Probably. But I am lazy, so you never know.

And then there's writing itself. We have all stared at the blank screen with nothing to say or deleted an entire post because, well, it sucked. But there are also the times where words just flow and things come naturally and you feel like your greatness is going to break the internet, it's just that good, and you have like ten pageviews, three of which can be attributed to your husband, and no one comments. They were all too busy commenting on that blog that discusses dryer lint and uses bad grammar every damn day. I'm going to be honest, here. It hurts. It hurts when you feel like you write your heart out and nobody gets it, like you said it wrong or could have said it differently and then everyone would get it and think you are the best, too. It's hard not to take it personally; when you feel like a blog post is so indicative of you and who you are and no one cares - it's rough. It takes developing a thicker skin, which I know isn't something I considered before setting up an account on I'll be honest - I skim some blogs I don't always enjoy, sure. I read the comments and wonder what is "wrong" with the people who think their posts are amazing. Am I jealous? Yup. Do I want to leave some "honest" (and possibly bitchy) comments? Yes, always yes. But I don't. As constructive as I think my criticism might be, I stew (mostly) privately or just try harder the next time to write something that will get my readers, the way the post that irked me stirred her readers. I thought I was a person who gave zero effs but you know what? I'm not. I give a lot of them.

Even though I say I blog for me, and I feel that I do, if I were completely honest with myself, wouldn't I just blog privately? Maybe using paper and pen, or at the very least without tweeting my blog link daily and joining link-ups and pimping myself out in the subtlest way I can manage? The truth, I think, is that we like doing it with one another (twss). We like to document our ups and downs, for ourselves, yes, but because they are so much better and more when we can experience them outside the bubble of our own life experiences. But the insecurities and the doubt that can creep in during this whole experience - was that boring? Did they get it? Should I tweet about it? Do I tweet too much? I don't have a DSLR, should I even bother with photos? Was I wearing that in the last pic I posted of myself? I read her blog and comment all the time and we follow each other on twitter but why doesn't she follow my blog and comment, too? It's truly ridiculous how much I have questioned myself over something as simple as a blog post. Over something that I need to realize no one else even notices. And things that I need to realize are far beyond my control.

So that brings me to... blog friends. I started this and I blogged and I read no other blogs. And no one read mine. And one day something clicked and I found people whose blogs I enjoyed, and who (presumably) enjoyed mine. And doesn't that make it worth it, at the end of the day? Isn't it amazing to know that if you stopped blogging tomorrow, you would be missed? You would have people to keep in touch with via twitter or instagram or whatever if you left this crazy, stress-inducing world of blogging. If you are as lucky as I have been, to make real, honest-to-goodness friends from this, that you can have drinks with or go shopping with or text or call on a whim or whatever - then I really think all the stress, all the questions, everything - it's worth it. I love that through blogging, I have learned that snow is a bitch and I don't really want to live in a climate that sees it often. I have learned how to dress and what make-up I should get if I'm in the market, that apparently some place called Cookout has awesome milkshakes (seriously, there are a lot of NC bloggers), gifs are always appropriate, and that I need to watch Mean Girls again. Blogging made me want to watch Parks and Rec, tweet more, and made me try to see my world in a more interesting way - whether it's taking a picture of Bauer from a more interesting angle or thinking of how I can phrase a story to share it on the blog. Despite some of the hard parts, and the fact that it is the most narcissistic thing I've ever done, I do love it. While I can't promise I'll blog forever, I will do it for a long time. So thanks to everyone still reading (my blog in general and this post specifically. It's long). You make it worth it. You give me confidence when I need it and inspiration and ideas and motivation to spend more time with my laptop. So, really, thank you. When I look back on my late-twenties, I think the memories of creating blog posts and loving social media will be a huge part of what I remember.

And just for fun, here are some posts from my early months of blogging if you want to see how far I've come.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

culinary guilty pleasures

I've been "into" food for a few years now, so people often ask me for dining recommendations in my city and love to tell me about places I have to try. Adding the words eat and drink to my username on social media has made it worse. I feel like I have to give an awesome recommendation all the time, and I really try to, but the truth is that sometimes I like to eat plain old junk food. Just like everyone else, I have childhood favorites and things I turn to when I'm stressed or just plain lazy. I think of them as my guilty pleasures...

I was going to insert a collage of stuff here but figured you didn't really need to see it. Like I say, lazy always wins.

- Sonic. Man, I love their tater tots and drinks. My go-to order was always a footlong chili-cheese coney until I looked at the nutrition info and I haven't fully enjoyed one since. Hopefully I'll forget how many calories are in that soon because the grilled chicken ciabatta sandwich just isn't the same.

- Cheese dip. Growing up, queso was the yummy cheesy dip I got at Mexican restaurants as a treat; cheese dip was the stuff made from cubed Velveeta and Rotel tomatoes at home in the crock pot. I loved them both equally. These days, my love for cheese dip has waned a bit - I only have it a few times a year if I'm at my mom's - but I still really like it.

- Chocolate outside/yellow inside donuts. I touched on this when I talked about my trip to Delaware. Entenmann's really are the best, but in a pinch I can settle for those locally available. Since they aren't the same, I can usually talk myself out of them but if you put them in front of me, it's hard to say no.

- Spoonfuls of sweet stuff from Trader Joe's. I have already shared the wonder of cocoa almond spread with you. Add to that my new love of chocolate-cookie butter spread. It's amazing. I get a jar and double dip to my heart's content so I don't have to share. It's pretty gross but at least I use a spoon and not my fingers!

-Boxed Macaroni and Cheese. I prefer the Kraft kind with the liquid cheese (what is it with me and fake cheese?)

- Peanut Butter M&Ms. I like to say that I won't waste calories on inferior chocolate. M&Ms aren't exactly quality candy but MAN are they delicious. I also go crazy for Cadbury mini eggs and can't wait for them to be be out with the rest of the Easter candy!

I'm sure there are many, many more, but these are the most dominant. Will you still trust my food opinion? Any food guilty pleasures you want to confess to?

These feel like confessions so I'm gonna link up with Kathy!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

my non-mission statement mission statement

I like to blog about blogging so I hope you like to read about it. It's something that I assume we have in common since I assume my blog friends are the only ones reading this, though I'm sure some lurkers are, too (Hi! Join the fun!). So today I want to talk about something bloggy: Mission Statements.

I went to a blog conference last fall. It was a nice experience and I got to connect with a lot of bloggers I already knew and meet some new ones, which was fun. At the conference I got overloaded with info, took tons of notes, and honestly... haven't touched any of that stuff since. But one thing I remember was talk about your blog having a mission statement. My readers are supposed to know what I'm about and what they can expect from me.

Well, that's all well and good, but that isn't me. I don't want a mission statement! Right now I focus on food as often as I have something to say about it, likely bore you with how much fun I have with my friends, post too many pictures of Bauer, and just generally rant. I get swept up in the cycle of blogging just to blog and often need to remind myself why I'm here in the first place.

1. To make friends
2. To document my life as it is now.

...That's it.

Mission statements are good for some people. If you are working to build a brand so that you can write sponsored posts or ask bloggers to sponsor you, then maybe a mission statement is necessary to focus your posts and let people know what they're spending their hard-earned money on. But I have been thinking about it a lot, and I AM my brand; my brand isn't something to curate and cultivate because it's sitting right here typing this post for you. Whatever I am should be reflected in my blog every single day. So while some days I might think I have a great idea for a blog post that will generate great comments, if it doesn't reflect something happening to me or that I'm feeling that I want to share, then I don't want to post it. I'll narrow it down to 140 characters and share it via twitter instead.

Bauer gives serious stink eye when I don't follow my non-mission mission statement.

So potential brands and readers old and new - the mission of this blog is just to document who I am here and now and what's happening in my head. Some days it rambles and some days it lists but at the end, it's just me being me. That mission is enough for me and I hope it's enough for you, too.

Glossy Blonde