Tuesday, October 25, 2016

bbq wife life by the numbers

A pop-up is when a restaurant or concept takes over a space that isn't its own for a limited time. Since Doubleback BBQ doesn't have a "home," pop-up is a good phrase for the monthly food services they keep putting on. The one over the weekend was the 6th.

(I struggle with saying "we" in conjunction with Doubleback; on the one hand, I help where I can. I feel pride and a sense of ownership through my husband's hard work and some of my own. On the other hand, I make it very, very clear that this isn't my dream and don't work nearly as hard as Andrew and his business partner.  That's why I like the BBQ Wife concept, and others in similar situation seem to get it. Our husbands are completely consumed by smoked meat, whether it's making it, eating it, thinking about it, or writing about it. Anyway.)

So many good ideas come from Jana and Steph. This post idea seemed to work really well with summing up how the weekend went, and BBQ life in general:

2 - services - both lunch and dinner

4 - types of meat

20 - hours of brisket smoking

3 - extra trips to the store I made because someone forgot something

5.5 - combined hours of sleep on Friday night for the pitmasters

43 - estimated number of apple crumble bars cut and packaged by yours truly

7.5 - lbs of German potatoes prepared and sold (they were an unexpected hit!)

4 - dishwasher loads of dishes from prep to post-event in my house alone

5 - people working for a smooth service

25 - hours spent smoking meat

9 - bottles of Doubleback BBQ sauce sold (all that was made!)

10 - supportive friends and family members of Andrew and me who showed up to eat

1 - amazing birthday cake bought by Doubleback BBQ (ironically, from Truth BBQ) for their wives' October birthdays... it was phenomenal and even half of it was so massive that I'm going to have to freeze it.

50 - forks and knives wrapped with a napkin and sealed with a Doubleback BBQ logo (not by me,  but by my BBQ wife partner in crime who is way nicer) (And they all disappeared and then some so there were probably 65-70 people served, at least.)

90 - lbs of meat (before cooking) prepared for the event

6 - lbs of tater tots in the tater tot casserole

48 - homemade buns made, sold, and eaten for the event (brioche hamburger buns and pretzel hot dog style buns)

2 - number of smokers used

0 - Nothing. What was left at the end of the night. They were completely sold out and had people bummed to have missed out on dinner. What a great feeling.

A pic I took of the aforementioned apple streusel bars during our test run the weekend before, along with mustard made from a local Oktoberfest beer and homemade sauerkraut.

Some things are harder to put into numbers, like how I had to learn really quickly how to take an order in a way that made sense, use a credit card swiper, be friendly to customers (whoa you guys, they have actual customers!), learn people's names, and talk about the food all at once, on a Saturday, when I had been on my feet helping all day. But this was the most successful night yet. People who we didn't know before this started are coming to the bar to eat their food, asking for certain menu items, leaving Facebook reviews, taking photos of their plates, and basically validating the fact that they're doing really, really well at this thing. It's like when you plant a seed and you barely start to see it sprout through the dirt; it's confirmation that something's in there, that thing you started wasn't a dream, and there are things that you can't see working. The change from event to event is small, but it's a huge change from where they were in April. Let's see where the numbers take them next.

Monday, October 17, 2016

the things unsaid

... aka, the posts I haven't written yet. I wrote this post to join Alyssa's non-challenge blogging challenge but realized after mostly finishing this post that I read the prompt wrong and this should be things I haven't written but want to.  I just thought about things I haven't written and honestly, this is all I'm going to say about most of them. I mostly just want to be more motivated to write more.

There are many reasons I haven't written many posts. A lot of it goes back to thinking that no one cares what I think about things and no one really reads blogs anymore which is why I wanted to embrace this challenge at least once while Alyssa is running it. It's hard to find motivation to sit in front of a computer for what seems like no reason.

Many posts are silly and haven't happened because I was to lazy to recap something and now, the moment is gone:

- What to pack on a trip to Napa (this padded, cross-body camera strap was the biggest reason I wanted to write it - I love it!) (Not an affiliate link because I'm not fancy.)

- How we ended our Napa trip... that we took in September 2015. In short, we went on a safari and even though it wasn't supposed to be like a zoo, it was. It was fun but sad. A cool experience, but not a must do.

- A recap of the ATX Festival, season five. That happened in June. In short: it was biker week in Austin so our AirBnB was super loud, Friday Night Lights is one of the best shows of all-time, you should watch the show Search Party when it airs on TBS in November, and Tate Donovan aka Jimmy Cooper playing Jimmy Cooper in front of me in an OC script reading was fantastic. Olamaie is also a must-visit restaurant next time you're in Austin.

On top of our safari jeep in California | In the REAL Panther Fieldhouse with the authentic J. Street signature and Panther P | Tate Donovan in the center, surrounded by Jack from Revenge and Mindy Riggins.

Some things just never got fleshed out, but were probably mentioned in other blog posts in passing:

- Blog Your Unpopular Opinions, volume two. Volume one happened way back in 2013. Volume two includes things like my dislike of Chipotle, Scandal, spirit animal, Fri-yay, and hashtags in blog posts. Sorry guys, they just aren't for me.

- My at home alone behaviors. Lots of trash TV, laying in bed like a starfish, and listening to bad music - what would you expect?

And other things are just hard to write. Or I don't want them on the internet forever for various reasons:

- My feelings on everything election-worthy. If you follow me on twitter, you can see that I'm With Her, but I've never listed why. Normally we don't talk politics, but this election has changed the rules. Voting for him just seems like a step back in history and it seems to be obvious that most people are voting for anyone but him. I've considered elaborating on that beyond 140 characters, but why take a chance on spreading misinformation, pushing my opinion as fact, or trying to be better than many of the awesome things already out there?

- Kids. I don't even want to elaborate on why. I feel it's a very "you do you" topic so I'll just stay over here keeping quiet.

- A time I was wronged that still stings when I think about it. It was a long time ago, and it doesn't need to be addressed, but not posting it does show how much I fear being vulnerable on the internet.

The more I think of posts I wouldn't write, the more topics I realize there are. Some stories aren't mine to share. Some ideas would come across so one-sided that they would hurt others in my life if they ever came across them. Some topics are still such a mystery to me that I wouldn't know how to tell anyone else what I feel about them, let alone why. What are some posts you haven't written, whether you intend to or not?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

book talk

This post is coming to you from day two of a cold medicine induced haze. It's probably a good thing that I didn't read much this month because I don't think I could handle a longer post.

My guess is that the combo of new TV shows, getting up more consistently to go to the gym (which eliminates my nighttime reading time), and nothing good coming up at the library has contributed to my weakest reading month yet. Such is life - more to come this month, I'm sure.

(A) I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections - I read another Nora Ephron book a few years ago and really liked it. When I saw that this one was narrated by her (she wrote When Harry Met Sally and You've Got Mail, among other things), I thought it would be a fun audiobook. Unfortunately, it came across in many places like a cranky old(er) woman was complaining about the next generation. Some parts where poignant and made you think about aging as a whole, but that would have come across much better in a print book. (3 stars)

(A) Calling Me Home - This one may have been recommended by another link-up person. It isn't something I would normally read. A 90 something white woman asks her hairdresser - who is in her 30s and black - to take her on a road trip from Texas to Cleveland to attend a funeral. The story is told from the POV of the older woman, telling the story her forbidden first love with the black son of the woman who cleaned her house and from the POV of the hairdresser dealing with her own love life and children in present day. I hated the audiobook narrators for this so, so much but I was just curious enough about where it would go to keep listening. Had I been using my free time to read this myself, though, I probably just would have quit. Am I the only one more lenient with audiobooks since I use them along with my more passive time? It was fine, but no need to rush off to grab it. (3 stars)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - I started reading Harry Potter books in high school, right around the time book four came out, and anxiously awaited each subsequent book like everyone else. I wasn't sure how to approach the play - JK Rowling has very specifically asked people not to post spoilers - but I really liked it (plot elements follow - if you consider that a spoiler, stop reading). Cursed Child basically picks up at the end of the 7th book, with Harry and friends dropping their kids off to head to Hogwarts. Harry's middle son, Albus, is the titular Cursed Child. It's strange to see Harry as an adult, especially as a flawed parent rather than a clever boy who can work his way out of everything. The play is missing Rowling's trademark descriptors (since it's meant to be acted out and not read) and it doesn't quite carry the magic of the seven books. But, overall it was a fun little visit back to Hogwarts, like seeing an old friend you've missed. I would love to see how some of the wizarding world elements are put on stage, so if Cursed Child ever travels, I definitely want tickets. (4 stars)

The Hopefuls - I saw this book described as hilarious but it didn't make me laugh at all. All of the main characters seemed mostly miserable and unhappy with their lives with only one really willing to do something about it. I think the thing that really bothered me, though, was that a large portion of the book takes place in Sugar Land, Texas, a suburb of Houston (and where I spent a lot of my teen years). The home in Sugar Land is described as having a basement (we don't have basements in this part of Texas as it floods all the time and we're too close to sea level!) and a big deal was made of Torchy's Tacos, which wasn't in Sugar Land at the time this book took place - a detail that just annoyed me. Overall, though, the book didn't have much of a point or tell a story that was all that interesting. I kept thinking there would be a big reveal, or something that someone was hiding, but the thing to cause conflict that happened at the end was over so fast that it was almost inconsequential to the reader. It's an easy read, and maybe I missed something since I mostly read it while I was sick, but I think it's one that's safe to skip unless you're really into DC life (3 stars).

I just got The Light Between Oceans and I'm Glad About You from the library - any suggestions as to which to read first? Congrats to Steph and Jana on two years of Show Us Your Books and here's to many more!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

stuff and things that are new with me

If you follow me on twitter and read most of your timeline, a lot of this is a repeat. I always go to it when I have something to say but at least I can elaborate here. I need more twitter friends who use it to talk and share so if that's you and we aren't already friends, let's fix that. (I'm @eatdrinklauren.)

- This was on twitter, but it bears repeating: I made a recipe over the weekend that my husband really, really liked. He went to culinary school so I never learned to cook and finding things that I feel comfortable attempting to make that he likes is virtually impossible. This Mediterranean chicken and chickpea dish with turmeric rice was a huge hit and it has now been added to the rotation.

- I tried yoga for the first time over the weekend and surprisingly, I didn't hate it. I know I should do weights at the gym, but it's so intimidating when other people are there and let's be honest, I really enjoy using my gym time as TV watching time. Yoga requires so much more strength than I ever imagined. During the class, I was miserable and I hated it, but thinking about it after (and for the next two days, when I was sore), I actually liked it. My first class was on Saturday and I went again Wednesday so this might become a thing.

- Related: I feel like yoga requires new workout clothes. I need shirts that are longer and looser.

- I tried to go to one of the Gilmore Girls/Luke's Diner things yesterday but the line was literally a block long. It was a cute idea but I didn't want to wait in line for over an hour for a disposable cup and to take a few pictures. The fervor reminded me of seeing the cast at the ATX Festival all over again.

Let's #tbt to that time I was two rows in front of Logan and Jess (even after all the rewatches, I'm still Team Logan...)

- I built a website! Okay, "built" is being generous; I played with a template until I had something I was happy with! Andrew chose wix.com to build a website for doublebackbbq.com but then gave me the awesome task of making it work. It wasn't too bad once I got the hang of it so I would recommend it if you ever need something similar.

- I'm loving the push to get back to blogging basics lately. I'm definitely going to steal Steph's post from yesterday and I think Alyssa's non-traditional link-up idea is completely genius. What else is out there that's a break from the norm? I used to be able to open up to bloggers, and write long comment responses, and turned my blog friends into text friends, gchat friends, and in real life friends, and that hasn't happened in a long time. I'm excited to know there are other people out there who want to be known.

- We're going to Charleston in a few weeks and I'm super excited... but all we have planned is where to eat! What are the best things to do in the city? We'll have to uber everywhere if that affects anything.

- A few weeks ago, we went bowling with three other couples. I was awful but it's so fun. I get worse the more I drink so by the end of our two hours, I was embarrassing myself. I'm glad no one else was good, either.

- If you have a fancy camera, how did you learn to use it? I want to learn to use mine - help!

Okay, that's enough stuff and things that are new with me. Linking up with Kristin and Joey and Kristen and Gretchen.

What's New With You

Stuff, Things, etc.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

my favorite cheap planners

When I talked about my goals, I talked about my planners - specifically, using them more and not letting them collect dust. A few people wanted more info so I'm happy to share.

I went the Erin Condren route a few years ago, and it just wasn't for me. I didn't carry it with me, so I didn't need the pockets or pouch, it was a little bright for my conservative workplace, it was bulky, and it was expensive. After that, I decided Target planners were for me moving forward.

Craft paper: Sugar Paper Signature Planner | Green + Gold: Ashley G Blue Sky Planner | Pink + White stripe: Sugar Paper Weekly/Monthly Planner

After my less-than-great experience with a nice planner, I have exclusively gotten Sugar Paper planners from Target. They normally come out in November for the upcoming calendar year (and then again for the school year). In 2015, I got the basic Weekly/Monthly Notes layout. It's spiral bound with a clear, rigid plastic cover, laminated monthly and notes tabs, and is about the same size as the Erin Condren Life Planner but much, much thinner. The notes section is pretty ample - about 30 pages. The pages do suffer from some bleed-through, so if that bothers you, this isn't for you. I typically press down hard when I write so bleed-through is just a fact of life for me and I don't mind. The spirals were about the same size as the Erin Condren planner, so I was able to use the ruler/placeholder from that planner in this one.

Weekly/Monthly Planner: Monthly layout | Weekly view. I liked the pink accents throughout.

For 2016, I wanted something a little different. For a $15 investment, if I hated it, I could get something else. I decided to try the Sugar Paper signature planner. It's a little larger than the Monthly/Weekly (about 1" wider and longer with a similar thickness). It's spiral bound with a craft cardboard cover on three sides an an elastic band to keep it closed. The monthly tabs are all laminated but there's no notes section in the signature model.

I use my planner to keep up with dates and make checklists for work, so this model was really appealing to me. Each month has a page for monthly notes, work goals, personal goals, financial goals, a focus, important dates, and "etc." As I've mentioned, I'm not a goals person, and those pages are inconveniently placed (between the monthly spread and the first week of the month), so I never use them. I think they would be a really good place for others to get organized and plan for the future, though. Each month also gets its own traditional two-page spread.

The weekly spreads are my favorite part of the planner, though. On the left, there are spaces to write your top three for the week, lists labeled To Call, To Do, To Email, and To Buy, a don't forget box, and a place for this week's goal. My top three are normally things that need to get done that week. To Buy works really well for me as it's where I list any catering or other supplies I need to order for events. To Call/Email reminds me about vendors I need to reach out to for any reason, and then general things that need to get done go under To Do. Each line has a check box next to it and getting to check something off of my list - literally - is very satisfying. The right hand side of the spread is divided into seven parts  by each day of the week. I don't like that Saturday and Sunday are each in separate boxes, but because of how I use the planner, it doesn't bother me too much. I write reminders, meetings, or events in each day as well as notes of things that come up that need to get done that day from people who pop by my office.

Sugar Paper Signature Planner: Cover with elastic band | Weekly View | Monthly Notes and Goals | Monthly Calendar Layout

My office planner lives on my desk. I'm fortunate to rarely have to bring work home with me. But, I found that I needed somewhere to track my home life a little better - everything from plans with friends, dentist appointments, work-outs, when the dog needs his medicine, and stuff like that. I was also always full of ideas - blog posts I haven't written yet, podcasts to try, chores I needed to do, and other things that needed a place to go. I wanted a monthly calendar so I could keep up with dates along with a notes section to keep up with ideas. Target to the rescue, again. I was browsing around in late July and flipping though every calendar I could find when I came across the Ashley G for Blue Sky planner. It's very, very plain, but perfect for my needs (and it was only $9, I think). The first 24 pages are nothing but monthly layouts that run from August 2017 - July 2017. There's a pocket divider and then a ton of notes pages. No tabs, which is kind of annoying, but I solved that problem with a few post-it flags. The cover is just cardstock; it's very basic and gold spiral bound. There are some polka dot accents on the notes pages, but that's about it. For what I need, it's perfect. On days where all I do is go to work, I try to at least write down some kind of highlight from my day if nothing else. It's a good memory keeper.

Ashley G for Blue Sky planner: Monthly layout | Notes pages

This is what works for me, at least now. I'm already thinking about next year's planner and while I was in Target over the weekend, I saw the Sugar Paper Daily planner that had a page per day with sections running from 7:00 - 6:00, a box for evening plans, a to-do list, and a top three list. I thought about getting it, but I'll at least wait for the 2017 version to come out. Tell me about your planner use - I can always use mine more.