Thursday, August 17, 2017

how i use my bullet journal

I'm a forgetful person, and my brain is a mess of things I could and should do. If there are too many things in there, I get overwhelmed and do nothing. Oh, and I really like office supplies.

That's why bullet journaling is my new favorite thing.

 I took pics with my new pencil bag and used my dinosaur succulent planter as a prop... such a good blogger, right?

When I first heard about bullet journals, I heard about things like keys and collections and future logs. It all sounded really complicated. Plus, who has the time to sit there and draw a grid for a calendar? So I ignored it until I spent an afternoon at Michael's with Bre and she told me all the fun things I could buy if only I started a bullet journal. After going down the rabbit hole of #bujo on instagram and finding a ruler and notebook I already had, I was ready to get started. All you need is that and some pens to see if this system will work for you.

Sections in my bullet journal

The beauty of this is that there's no right way to do it. I don't use a key. Collections is a fancy name for lists of things and a future log is just things that you're going to do... in the future. There are no #bujo graders or checkers so you really can do anything. That was really overwhelming for me, so I just thought more about what I wanted from a planner:

1) A monthly outlook so I could see at a glance what the month was like (basically, a calendar page)
2) Weekly spreads to write in to-dos, appointments, details for upcoming events, and track things like workouts or little accomplishments like chores I give myself
3) A place to keep lists of things I want to remember, by category
4) Somewhere to write what's happening in the far, far future (for example, we are going on vacation in the spring but I need to write down the dates)

The more I looked at other people's journals, the more that creating my own clicked for me.

Planning for the Future

When I realized this was something I wanted to keep up with, I bought a Leuchtturm dotted journal since blank pages make straight lines difficult and lined pages were too distracting. It has two bookmarks, numbered pages, and an index page at the front so I can log what I have on each page rather than flipping through the whole journal.

Yearly outlook on the left (it continues on the next page, and then there's a birthday page) and my year in pixels, so far. Looks like I have had a good amount of good days!

The first thing I created was my future log for the next year. It's a small calendar of the next twelve months with a space to write down any upcoming events. As I make my monthly spreads, I can make sure to document important dates there. I also made a page for birthdays - maybe now I will finally get around to sending cards on time.

I also have a Year in Pixels tracker in the front of my journal. I have a grid that has the next 12 months and a spot for each day as well as a color-coded key. Each day, I give my day a label and color in the corresponding color so at a glance, I can tell how things are going for me. I can likely compare the colors to other things in my journal and get a pretty good idea of what puts me in a good mood vs. a bad one. It will be interesting at the end of the year to see how I rate the majority of my days.

Then, I started on the monthly spreads. I prefer to use two pages so I have plenty of room to write on any date I need to. These can look any way you want. Don't forget that a calendar page should have five weeks on it since there are 30-31 days in most months. Not 28. My first spread was very, very bad.

Unlike my July spread, this one has the right number of weeks. Note the sticker where I wrote something down wrong. The yellow is for blog posts and slightly easier to read in person.

I also added a two-page spread at the beginning of each month where I can write down memories for the month. I have written down something someone said to me that I want to remember, what I did, or how I felt. It's just a sentence or two to document anything worth remembering.

Planning my week

I went a little washi crazy with the spread on the left but it helped to cover a mistake! The one on the right is for the current week, photos taken Tuesday morning.

Every Sunday night, I sit down and work on my spread for the following Monday - Sunday. I like to see the weekend as one full unit and I see Monday as a new start. I like doing them one week at a time because if I don't like the way a layout works, I only have to look at it for a week. I can also adjust my layout depending on what I have happening that week. For example, when I knew I was taking two vacation days last week, my layout was less structured since I didn't think I would be writing many things down. I get all of my weekly spread inspiration from Instagram and then do my own thing with it.

I love color and using pens and washi tape. I am working on brush lettering since this is a good chance to do it. I try to make sure that every spread will still look good if I use a black pen and then an accent color pen and I keep those on my journal's pen loop. If I worked that hard to make my page pretty, I don't want a clashing pen to ruin it! There are all kinds of task managers in bullet journaling, but I don't really use them. I like making a square for any kind of action item and then checking it off when it's done. Some days, I don't have anything to put in for the day so I will use the space as a log of what I did, even if it's just a show I watched or the workout I completed. Again, if I have gone to all of this effort, I might as well use it for something, right?

I also make a small grid tracker every week for habits I'm trying to adopt. There is something about checking off a box that motivates me and gives me a sense of accomplishment. This week, I'm tracking move (aka working out), talking to friends, going to bed by 11, reading, blog time, cleaning for 15 minutes a day, and doing the dishes. Nothing huge, but I feel bad when they aren't all checked off, so I will get up and do that little chore (or go to bed) just so I can check the box!


Try or Buy is for shows and products I hear about (many from the Add it to My List linkup!). The left side of the Blog Post Ideas page are one-time things (like Bullet Journaling) and the things on the right are linkups or posts I can do anytime (like If We Met for Coffee or Currently...). The wine page is the same set-up I use for my monthly memories pages.

I reserved approximately the last third of my journal for lists and notes. For me, this is anything I want to remember - dinner ideas we don't hate, blog post ideas, wines I have liked, things to try or buy, ideas for upcoming vacations, house plans, stuff like that. Some people track books or TV shows, or meal plan, or keep shopping lists in their journals. I prefer not to, but that's the great thing about the system. It's also great for doodling in, writing your goals, packing lists... anything you normally write on a spare receipt or keep in a note on your phone can go in your bullet journal. The lovely thing is that it's all in one place and organized in the way that you work, not in the way that planner makers think you should. I love going digital and having less clutter, but I retain things much better when I write them down.

I know it sounds like a weird instagram fad. I was a total skeptic at first too, but I love the flexibility. I use it more since I actually worked to make it look pretty. I love trips to Michael's to get things to put in it (did I buy stickers that say "gold star adult" over the weekend? Maybe.) and I love never feeling stuck with any part of it since I can always create something else. It also lets me feel a little bit crafty and creative without having to commit to a scrapbook or anything. I am toying with putting ticket stubs and things like that on my monthly memory pages, or getting one of those small, purse-sized printers to capture the things I'm writing about. There's always something new to want to try.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

if we met for coffee, we would have to talk about charlottesville

If we met for coffee, I would want to keep it light and easy, but these days, how can you?

If we met for coffee, the current state of our country would surely come up. I feel that 95% of the people in my life by choice think that the current administration is a joke, negatively impacts them, and that nearly anyone else could do a better job governing us. I would ask you how you're getting your news, and how you retain it. How are you keeping the facts accurate and straight so that when you're confronted with someone who doesn't think 45 is so bad, you can provide actual rationale other than an eye roll or an inability to speak due to blind rage? I feel that the news comes at us so quickly and all of the bad things mount that it's hard to keep anything straight anymore. It's easier just to avert your eyes until the next bad thing strikes, since it's inevitable that something will. But, burying your head and just saying that "he's the WORST" solves nothing, so one must keep up with the latest insanity.

If we met for coffee, the events of this weekend would come up. There are Nazis living life like it's no big deal in America in 2017. The media is covering the domestic terrorist using assault with a deadly weapon to kill someone as the mere perpetrator of a car wreck. That is not okay. That is not accurate. For some reason, because the victim was a female my own age, just trying to do what she thought was right, this murder feels even more senseless. It shouldn't matter if she was like me or not, but the similarity just highlights that it could have been me or you or any of my friends. This might be the way my black friends feel every time we hear about an innocent, unarmed person being shot by police. I thought I got it before, but I feel like I'm understanding it anew. You can be minding your own business or trying to do the right thing and it can all be gone with your name trending on twitter within the hour.

This whole thing has me thinking about the ways in which we talk about race and class in America. We're told as kids to treat everyone the same, since we're all the same inside. While that's great when you're 4, that doesn't carry over to adult life very well at all. When does the lesson come around that decades of systemic oppression guarantee that your friends who don't look like you are being treated differently by society and that in treating them the same, you aren't helping much? I feel a pull to understand more about others' experiences and I see how our human needs are very similar, but the ways in which we exist in society can be very, very different. But, if you don't actively seek out these lessons by making friends who look different from you and consuming media with people who don't share your background, will you ever learn it at all? People who claim to be colorblind are well-meaning, but they are really just society blind if they think that the color of a person's skin doesn't affect anything about them other than their outward appearance.

I would want to ask you what you're doing about the state of things, and what you want to do moving forward if we met for coffee. I was disheartened a few days ago when someone (a young person) who I care a lot about told me she didn't think Trump was that bad and proceeded to tell me that Obama had secret meetings all the time "with Muslims." I asked her why this mattered and she said "because, Terrorists." I tried to calmly explain that all Muslims aren't terrorists the same way that all white Christian men don't bring guns to school and was met with something like "I'm never going to become a liberal." I'm not sorry for who I am or what I believe and I'm not afraid to stand up for myself, but I do lack the vocabulary and patience to make an argument that doesn't sound like an attack or a condemnation. What I want to do for my 45-supporting friends is at least put a face to that liberal name. To show them that those of us who Fox News paints as poor people grabbing at their money and giving their jobs to Latinos walk among them and are good people who just want to spread some of the goodness around.

I'd want to compare notes on how to handle all of this. Is saying something cliche better than saying nothing at all? What are you doing to condemn bigotry and racism, and what else could or should you do? I think it's a thin line between seeking attention from someone else's tragedy and actually lending voice and importance to a conversation. I hesitate to add more noise to the world. I don't know what to do to step up. So I would just have my coffee with you and maybe we could think of something to do, together.

And I would implore you to listen to the latest episode of Pod Save the People where Deray McKesson interviews UVA students and the governor of Virginia. If you feel like the media is sensationalized, there is nothing better than a firsthand account. I'm not finished with it yet, but I have heard most of it and it's just very real.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

currently {august 2017}

I'm working on good habits and trying to prioritize things I enjoy. And blogging is one of those things, even in the form of a Currently post...

Watching: I love baseball season because there is something on nearly every night (we only watch the Astros) and less of a need to find something to watch. But, when not watching baseball, Andrew and I are watching Ozarks and I'm Sorry. I'm loving Younger and The Bold Type this summer. I didn't expect to like The Bold Type but it's a good lightweight summer show. Watch it for the clothes alone.

Trying: To create good habits. I'm attempting to go to the gym (again - this happens every August), plan healthy-ish meals at home, do a better job of picking up around the house each evening, and to follow through on things I want to do. Instead of thinking "Oh, I should look into that..." I'm getting out my phone and doing the research right away.

Reading: Catching up on Show Us Your Books posts and adding things to my TBR and library hold list. Looking for new bloggers to enjoy and trying to make blog time part of my daily routine.

Enjoying: The rain in Houston has made the hottest part of summer not-so-hot. The push for more honesty on the internet. The last of my beloved Coke Zero. The How I Built This podcast. It's my one must-listen of the week since it's  nearly always a company I've heard of, the host is great, and there is next to no fluff.

Noticing: That I'm happier when I'm social. People can be the worst, but good people can make your day. I try to work from a coffee shop once a week and make sure to text/tweet/email a friend daily. Working from home can be really isolating, and I didn't realize how only IMing work people and scrolling my feed and talking to my husband could make me lonely. The effort to reach out or just be around other people is so necessary for me that it's worth putting on real pants when no one is making me.

Buying: Well, I bought brush pens and lots of washi tape so I'm really trying not to buy any more paper crafting stuff. We've lived in our house for three years in September and I haven't really changed much since we moved in, so I'm itching to get more things for the walls of our bedroom, find a small chest to put under the TV in there, and give the upstairs bathroom a mini-makeover. Nothing yet, but I'll update if I do anything worth sharing.

Thinking About: How to entertain my nieces this week. I'm taking vacation days today and tomorrow since they'll be in Houston. They are 9 and 17 now - quite the age gap to try to do something with both of them. The older one is going into her senior year of high school (how??) so I don't know how often I'll see her going forward... I mean once she's an adult, she won't have to spend time down here anymore. I have tentative plans for getting our nails done, shopping, a fun restaurant, great dessert, and maybe bowling and laser tag. Definitely open to new ideas, though.

Cheers to my long weekend with lots of family time. Fingers crossed that I can at least beat the 9 year old bowling, but I wouldn't count on it...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

show us your books: july 2017

Don't you hate it when you struggle through a book, hoping it will get good, at it just ruins your desire to read? That's what happened to me this month with The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley. It just wasn't for me and made me scroll my phone rather than try to get into it. I let it expire back to the library and once I made picking up a new book a priority, I flew through several over the course of two weeks. And they were good ones.

Second Helpings (Jessica Darling Book 2) - Partly due to Alyssa's urging, I kept reading the books in the Jessica Darling series. Had I read these books as a teenager, I think I would have loved them, but as an adult, they are a little slow and I feel like it takes too long for anything to happen. This book took us through the end of Jess' time in high school, and while I want to take a peek at her college life, I accidentally read the synopses of the last three books on Goodreads and have a good idea how things will end. Oops. So if you are interested in this series, consider keeping it off your TBR. 3 stars.

Behind Closed Doors - I saw this all over this linkup and it's a good read. I wanted to stay up to read it and while it was highly unbelievable, I found that the author did their best to make the plot they created plausible. It's hard to describe the plot without giving anything away except to say it's the story of when a seemingly perfect marriage is quite the opposite. It's close to a thriller, but not quite, and I would recommend it. 4 stars.

It's Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool, Too) - If you have read my blog for any amount of time, you will know that after discovering Nora McInerny's podcast, I decided I want to be her when I grow up (though she is only a few years older than me). In the span of a few weeks, she had a miscarriage and both her dad and husband died of cancer. This book is her memoir, and though my life hasn't been anywhere near as hard, the way she explains things and writes makes me feel like she has been in my head; does everyone feel the way she and I do, and we are really bad at talking about it? She tells stories about loving someone with a terminal illness, living life after tragedy, and what it was like to fall in love in the first place. I love her voice and I adore this book - I wanted to highlight the entire thing. I never buy books, but I will buy this one, though I'm waiting in hopes that she comes here on a book tour (unlikely but still). 5 (hundred) stars.

Famous In Love - After hearing the author of this series speak on a panel at the ATX Festival, I added this to my TBR. It was made into a TV show that was on Freeform this past spring, and I thought the author seemed interesting, so I wanted to give it a try. It had a love triangle that reminded me of The Hunger Games and an interesting premise - going from a nobody to the star of a much-anticipated book-turned-movie - that I wish had been dug into deeper. That said, I sped through it and will read the next book, and watch the TV show. It's easy, escapist teen drama. 4 stars.

The Hate U Give - I have seen this book a lot of places and was expecting to love it. I was expecting it to be life changing levels of amazing. For what it is - a book written for teenagers about race, police shootings, educational inequity, gun violence, and interracial relations - it's fantastic. For a 30-something expecting an awakening in novel form, it wasn't what I had hoped for. It isn't the book's fault. It's about a teen girl who witnesses her friend being shot by a police officer and everything that happens to her and her neighborhood afterward. There are likable characters, it does a good job of speaking to teenagers in 2017, it deals with heavy subject matter respectfully, and it avoids cliches (or calls itself out on them). I would definitely recommend it to a sheltered teenager, but as an adult, manage your expectations. 4 stars.

I've added reading time as a daily to-do in my bullet journal and I finally have The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo from the library so I expect August to be a great book month. Excited to see what everyone else has read this summer, too.

Linking up with Steph and Jana.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

summer, so far.

August always feels like we're nearing the end of a summer. As a kid in Texas, school started in the middle of the month so once the calendar flipped to August, it was only a matter of time before freedom ended. Though the school calendar has changed and it hasn't affected me directly for quite some time, I find myself ready to be done with summer and embrace fall. It's just too damn hot to want summer to stick around any longer.

But honestly? This summer completely flew by. Allow me to review some highlights:

Memorial Day weekend feels like a lifetime ago, and all I can remember doing is enjoying the fantastic three-course Sunday Supper at State of Grace. The squash casserole sounded wholly unappealing, but I wish I could eat it all the time.

Andrew and I spent our seventh wedding anniversary (and our third in a row) at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas. We had a great Air BnB so we could walk or Lyft everywhere, I saw Milo Ventimiglia IRL for the second time (humble brag? Yup.), saw Adam Scott in person, and came away feeling excited about TV, as usual. I also took part in their twitter contest to go to twenty different things during the festival and they sent me an awesome prize pack with ATX swag, so it was a great experience. I was home for literally a day and then hopped on a plane to Vegas for a work conference.

I know Vegas is the desert and I knew it would be hot but oh my goodness. 110 degrees is no joke. The conference was pretty good (and as an events person, the logistics, food, and swag were incredible) and Andrew came a few days into it since his friend was also in town. I think we have kind of outgrown Vegas, or else we need to have a huge budget to enjoy it more fully, but we loved finally eating at Lotus of Siam (called the best Thai food in America, and it's SO cheap) and seeing the Beatles Love for... the sixth time, I think? I like what I like.

Other June highlights: cutting my hair too short (still mad), being officially asked to be a bridesmaid (first time ever, am I a bad friend?), and the birth of my new niece, Austin.

My sister-in-law was due to have her baby on June 22. She lives in Atlanta, and I had a work event there on July 6th, so Andrew and I decided to fly up there on the 1st since surely the baby would be there by then. Right? Babies are totally predictable and all. Well, Miss Austin decided not to come until June 28, cutting it quite close, but she was safely at home in time to be adored by her aunt, uncle, grandpa, and basically her grandma. My SIL and her husband are saints and let us crash with them for a few days so we could all watch the baby sleep and escape her swaddle. We had a low-key July 4th and learned that we will not kill one another in close quarters, which is good to know since we're all going on vacation together in the spring.

The squash casserole doesn't look like much, but it was amazing | Adam Scott and Craig Robinson aka Ben Wyatt and Darryl from The Office (their new show is eh) | The Bellagio fountains, which never get old | Baby Austin!

After all of that travel, I just wanted to be home in July. Andrew had a birthday which turned out to be a laughably bad trip to the Astros game. It was the epitome of first-world problems, and I can laugh about it now, but in short: it was raining so we were wet and sweaty, our gate ran out of Carlos Correa bobbleheads and when I tried to sneakily get one from another gate, a jerk fan called me out (rude), the area we had tickets in had no seats hours before the game started, and when we decided we would rather just go home, the park security wouldn't let us out until all of the bobbleheads (that they wouldn't give us) were given out. We ended up heading toward the house and getting tacos and it was fine, but in the moment, I felt so bad for suggesting it since it was such a frustrating birthday.

The rest of July? I started bullet journaling (post to follow, probably), I read, I've spent a little time with friends, tried to be a better adult, spilled laundry soap in my car (but it smells great), worried about my cat's impending obesity, went to Home Depot alone (this is huge because I hate that store since I can never find ANYTHING) and went to the movies alone to see The Big Sick. I really liked it and if you like Master of None then go see it. And now we enter the last third of the year. It will be Christmas before we know it.

Linking up with Kristen and Gretch.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

dear instagram storyteller

Dear Instagram Storyteller,

I realize that no one is making me watch or participate in Instagram stories. I know this. But I can't stop staring at my phone and watching a mini version of the reality show of everyone I follow at least once a day (let's be real, if it's someone I like, it's several times a day.)

But this isn't about those people. This is about the ones I don't like. I may like you on regular instagram, but I can't skip past your stories fast enough. Sometimes I just watch them to see if you are still doing that thing I don't like. Sometimes I catch myself watching them for that reason and step away from the phone to discourage such negativity in my life, but I normally end up finishing the story later. Just being honest. So let's talk about the things that make me feel this way.

First of all, sweet storyteller, we all know you are speaking to a camera. You do not need to start every story with "hey guys" or "y'all!" or "sooo..." or "happy <day of the week>." Intros are not necessary. Just do the thing. I seriously watched a HUGE blogger's story the other day and she started five stories in a row by saying "so" and I wondered how she got where she was.

I would also like to point out that next to no one needs to have 20 pieces to their story. Film it for Facebook, write a blog post about it, but please don't give me 20 snippets of your day. And if all 20 are one long soliloquy about how hard your life is? Girl, find you a friend and talk it through. There is no need for all of us to know all your business. I see more dashes than I can quickly count then I assume I have walked into Instagram Novels and I must leave you behind.

I don't have kids so maybe I shouldn't have an opinion on this next part, but when I hear moms say "What did you just say?" and a kid says something toward the phone, I get a little sad. Can't the kid just be cute and funny in the privacy of your home? Does everyone need to hear what they just did? And sorry, but it's likely only really cute and funny to those who know your kid personally. You can have a google album or something for that, or just be in a moment with the kid rather than making them perform for you and hundreds of people who watch them when they're procrastinating on making dinner or whatever.

Also, can we all agree to chill with the dumb animal face filters? Enough. You're a puppy! You can wear a crown! Haha, so funny! Take a pic like that, send it to your spouse, whatever, but you don't need to tell every story with a koala nose. What do you think that's adding? And don't get me started on the voice change filter. Do you know how awful you sound as a deer? DO YOU? It isn't cute, and we all sound the same like that, and I just wish it would stop.

While I'm ranting, I would like to highlight that I have never in the history of story watching run immediately to your instagram to check out your new post that you teased by hiding it from me in your story. I'm sure there's some class about being the most successful instagrammer ever telling you this is a good idea, but really, it makes me want to intentionally NOT like that post because I am a petty instagram follower. If I like you and follow you already, your stuff is already in my story.

Finally, I have to call both of us out here: concert videos are also highly unnecessary. I know. Concerts are fun and you want everyone to see how great your seats were. Been there, girl. I've posted them, too. And I'm going to a few concerts this month and I'll want to share, but can we agree that like, one video is enough? No one's tinny iPhone speakers are going to do what you're seeing in real life justice, so put down the phone and enjoy those tickets you spent your money on.

Lest you think I'm a total story scrooge, I do like some things: animals, food, snippets of daily life, 15-30 seconds of talk about something random, and shopping along with you. However, I do not like when I have to swipe up to shop (just tell me where you are or where you got it) nor do I really believe that so many people have asked you the same question that you linked to it for my convenience. I know how affiliate links work; let's just have some honesty in our stories, kay?

Whew! I am so glad we were able to get on the same page. If you do these things and I like you, then I still like you. If you see yourself in these things, I hope you laugh about it. If you hate people who use Instagram stories to showcase their cat or what they're eating (right here!), then I fully expect you to call me out in a letter of your own. It's all in good fun but really, had I shared this on Instagram stories, you would have skipped right over it anyway.

Living my best life, 15 seconds at a time,

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

add it to my list: july 2017

Huge thanks to everyone who links up with Bre and me every month! I take recs super seriously (to whoever recommended the Dr. Bronner's lip balm last month, I can't find it and I'm very sad!) so it's fun for me to literally add things to my list and actively think of things you can add to yours.

As always, the rules are easy. Write about things you are recommending to people in real life so that we can add them to our lists of things to try or buy. Link back to me and Bre, show the button if you want, leave us a comment, and then click around to add things to your own list. Done.

grab button for Eat, Drink, and Be Lauren
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You can grab the button here if you want.

Add it to your Watch List

I'm Sorry - this show is on TruTV, the channel that plays COPS reruns and shows about dumb criminals, BUT it's a scripted comedy about a mom who's a TV writer and her husband and kid. I have only watched two episodes so far but it made me laugh out loud and was out-there funny and dark and also has a precocious but not annoying kid. Check it out.

(Also, can I take Glow off my list from last month? I recommended it too soon. It was just... fine. You no longer need to add it.)

Add it to your Shopping List

Skimmies - I learned about these last summer and they make me want to wear dresses. They're considered "slip shorts" so they keep your dress from clinging to you, smooth you out without being tight, and they're moisture-wicking which is great in summer, especially for someone who thought that no one had a thigh gap until Instagram taught me otherwise. Costco has a good deal on them now (2 for $15!) but you can also get them at Walmart or Target for around $15 a pair.

Bergamot Orange Margaritas - I'm not a standard bar-drink person and I was tired of wine but I wanted something at the liquor store the other day. I saw this pre-packaged Bergamot orange margarita and I was skeptical since normally pre-mixed drinks are a sugary mess, but for $12, it was worth a gamble. It's delicious - tart but not orangey and you can taste the tequila without it being bitter. I've been thinking about it since I finished the bottle the other night. The brand is Austin cocktails, so it's probably easier to find in Texas, but it is available nationwide!

Mrs. Meyers Basil Soap - I'm cheap. I buy store brand soap and it's fine. But after staying at an Air BnB in Austin where they used this soap throughout and wanting to smell my hands constantly, I bit the bullet and bought $6 soap. I mean if you can't buy all-natural cleaning products in your 30s then when can you?

Add it to your Habit List

The 15 Second Rule - Something I read somewhere, probably on the internet, talked about a rule where if something takes x amount of time, you shouldn't put it off; you should just do it. I decided that 15 seconds was a reasonable amount of time and tried to put it into effect a few weeks ago and so far, so good. My kitchen is cleaner and my clutter disappears a little bit faster.

That's it for me. Next month will likely include bullet journaling and its associated supplies, but I'll see if I stick with it before recommending it. Just know that any recs I get from you all will be added to my indexed journal. Oh, and if you don't do so already, you should follow me on instagram. Not only do I post my layouts in my stories, but there are food and cats, too. OH and what do people like to read about in blogs lately? If there's something you like in general (or for some reason care what I think?), let me know. I need a little push to get me writing more regularly.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

show us your books: june 2017

It's either feast or famine at the library. After my last reading slump ended, I added tons of things to my hold list at the library and had literally six books available within the same two days. Challenge accepted - basically, I read like a fiend. It helps when it's summer and my husband is occupied watching baseball every night and that I've taken two plane rides since the last link-up. There's quite the assortment ahead.

Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives - Guns kill a whole lot of kids in our country. We know that stat and watch the news and move on with our lives. A journalist decided to take a look at ten children (the oldest was 19, I think) who all died from a gun in the span of 24 hours. The book is part sociology, part history of each city, part critical look at the circumstances that led to each death (spoiler alert: they were all male and nearly all men of color). One death took place in Houston, near the area where my husband works, and I found the description eerily accurate, so I assume the rest of the book was the same. Some of the victims were wholly innocent, some made poor decisions, but none deserved to die. If you ever needed a human face behind who all those bullets are killing, here it is.

Sloppy Firsts - I think I saw someone on twitter say this was their favorite YA book, so I decided to give it a shot. I appreciated that it took place in high school and was published in 2001 (when I was still in high school), so I could relate to the feel of it - checking caller ID, instant messages, and emails, all things missing in today's YA books. I found the story pretty slow but the narrator likable for the most part, though still annoying in that teenager way. I felt like the book ended just as things started to happen, so I'll read the sequel at least, even if I don't make it through the series of five.

The Roanoke Girls - This book was so messed up. A woman returns to her family's home, where she spent one summer, because her cousin is missing. The book alternates between that summer and the present day with bits of the other Roanoke Girls' stories sprinkled in. It's a messed up book but you will probably keep reading just to see how it all turns out. I did. It was so weird but well-paced and I flew through it.

Small Victories - Nora McInerny (who you know by now that I love) screen shot some of this and posted it to her instagram stories and if Nora liked it, then I had to check it out. You know how you read articles or posts by people who can sometimes see the big lessons in little things? That's this book. It's about grace and forgiveness, trying to be a better human, realizing your own failings, and working on humility. So many things in it resonated with me so much, but by the end I was ready for it to be over. It was too many lessons and too much reflection all in one place.

The Problem With Forever - This was like a Lifetime movie for teenagers. Two kids grew up in an abusive foster home, they manage to get out but separately, and then reconnect their senior year of high school. There's romance and defying parents and love triangles and illness. It wasn't bad, and the main character was likable enough, but I got halfway through this on a plane, which is probably why I finished it. You could probably skip it, especially because there is a character named Rider Stark and I just can't take that seriously.

As Close to Us As Breathing - First of all, this is a great title. This is one of those books where there's a big event that you find out about in the first few pages and the rest of the story is all of the threads of getting to that point and what happened after. It isn't until around 3/4 of the way through the story that you find out what exactly happened on that day. The story follows an extended Jewish family through the summer of the big event, but you learn a lot about what made them who they are and what happened later. It's definitely a character-driven novel. The way the story was told kept me interested, but if you're looking for action, this isn't it.

TL; DR: Another Day in the Death of America is sad but interesting and The Roanoke Girls is screwed up but will likely keep your attention. None of the others were bad, but I'll likely forget them in a week.

I'm excited as always to link up with Steph and Jana and hopefully respond to comments a lot faster this time around (it was bad when I went to write this post over the weekend and realized I didn't respond to June's comments... oops.) And (shameless plug ahead) - if you like talking about things you like in list form, make sure to join me for the Add It To My List link-up the last Tuesday of every month to talk about the things you're loving and recommending to people in real life. Except for books. We save our book talk for second Tuesdays! But I'd love for you to join us on July 25th to talk about TV, podcasts, and everything else!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

someone could have told me

I feel like Nora McInerny is one of the many women I want to be when I grow up. She's not an optimist, but not a total pessimist, either. She's a little offbeat and she speaks in tangents. I feel like she is fiercely loyal to her people and could be the voice in my head that narrates my life, only she is drier and funnier and has dealt with a lot of really hard stuff. I saw this tweet a few weeks ago and listened to the ensuing episode of Terrible, Thanks for Asking and have been thinking about it ever since.

So I started thinking about things I wish I had known sooner. Things I wish I had learned before 30ish.

- Like that a job can be more than just a paycheck. You can work in a field you feel passionately about, or do a job that makes a difference. You can be picky in what you do (sometimes, not always) and you don't have to take the first offer.

- A commitment to clean sheets is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

- The greatest gift we can give to anyone is our time. The time to call or text, or hang out, or to run an errand. To sit and listen. I feel like time gets more valuable the older we get; it's a finite resource with more and more stuff competing for it. Isn't it lovely when someone gives you some of theirs, though?

- And on that note, adult friendships. They're hard to come by and take time and effort to maintain. They show their strength easily when life gets inconvenient.  But the people who get you well enough to share a WTF moment or offer advice when you need it are more of a luxury as you get older, whereas they were just a thing that happened when you're young.

- Everyone needs a hobby.

-It's okay if said hobby costs money. I mean, maybe compulsive gambling shouldn't be your hobby but there is more to life than saving money and watching TV every weekend. Having something that gets you excited makes you an interesting person.

- Flossing is important and you will feel so much better in the morning after you do it.

- You will not wake up one day and enjoy cooking or be a morning person or keep a clean home with minimal effort. Lots of things come with aging, but that kind of magic doesn't.

- Ask questions. Be curious. It makes you informed, and interesting, a good friend, a great job candidate, a listener, a critical thinker. So many things become better when you get beyond the surface.

- Sometimes people just need to vent; don't give them your advice unless they ask. Not every problem is meant to be fixed, and not necessarily by you.

- You need goals, even if they are far off or unattainable. They give you direction.

- Cheap wine is not your friend and never will be again.

- Try the food you think you don't like. I didn't like avocado until I was like 24 since I started hating it when I was 5. I wasted so many years and so much guacamole being stubborn.

And that's just a start. Frame of reference is a funny thing, and my perception is colored by my experiences. What seemed like a revelation to me just days ago may be something you were taught your whole life. And vice versa. Tell me, what is something you wish you had known sooner?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

add it to my list: june 2017

Maybe one day I will get my act together and write one of the many posts in my head and do more than join three link-ups a month. But today is not that day since it's already the last Tuesday of the month and time for Add It To My List with me and Bre.

In the rare circumstance that you're new here, here's what you do: write about things you're recommending to people in real life, leave a comment for your hosts if you're so inclined, and click around and see what other people are recommending. So easy!

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Anyway - onto my list!

Add it to your Netflix Queue:

Glow on Netflix: Andrew and I went to the ATX Television Festival earlier this month (recap possibly to come?) and got to screen this show. I loved it. It's set in the 80s, so the costumes and music are great. It's going to have a female, ensemble cast so I don't think there will be many if any lame romance storylines to get in the way. And, it seems different - I mean I've never seen a show set in the world of women's wrestling before. Andrew seemed to like it too, so we are going to watch it together and haven't had time since it came out on Friday but I am really excited to get into it!

Also on a TV note: Master of None is fantastic. I didn't like it much when it first came out, but I picked it up again and wondered what was wrong with me. It's funny but not laugh out loud, realistic yet still unique, and just a TV world I like spending time in. If you want something lighter and fluffier, Younger starts season four this week (on TV Land if you are old school like me and still pay for cable) and I got to see the premiere at the aforementioned festival and it promises to be a fun season.

Add it to your "things to look forward to" list:

Prime Wardrobe: Have you guys seen this yet? Amazon is starting a Stitchfix-esque service for Prime members. Basically you pick out three or more clothing items (it can be womens, mens, or kids), they put it in a box, send it to you, you try it on at home, and are only charged for what you keep. The more you keep, the more of a discount you get. Free shipping both ways. It is missing a Stitchfix stylist, but I'll try my luck with what I pick out and save myself a styling fee. You can sign up to be notified when it's available in your area. Since I'm already in the market of buying clothes on Amazon, I'm excited to check this out.

Add it to your phone:

Ibotta app: This app is legit and I am kicking myself for not using it for so long. You grocery shop every week, so you can get money back every week. You check the app before or after shopping, select what you bought, scan it if needed, take a photo of your receipt, and you get paid. I love that there is often cash back for produce I bought anyway or .25 back from any grocery receipt. You can even access Uber through the app for money back. It also seems to be the first place to feature new snack food, so sometimes I scroll through the offerings and add things to my shopping list because I know it's on Ibotta. I love things that make money off of what I'm spending anyway. (Disclosure, that is a referral link. You get $10 in your account if you sign up using it, which is halfway to redeeming for a reward, so we both win.)

Add it to your shopping list:

Salted Caramel Craze "Trail Mix" at Kroger: This stuff is so bad for you. I shouldn't admit that I eat it. It's SO addictive, though, and satisfies my afternoon sweet craving. I try to just eat a little handful at a time (but sometimes I fail). It has almonds (healthy!), butterscotch chips, chocolate caramel candy, and I think cashews. I put trail mix in quotes because really, it's candy, but everything in moderation, right?

That's all I've got for now - tell me what you're loving this month!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

back in the reading game

Travel time means book time! I've had a few trips in the past two months and found a few books I couldn't put down, so Show Us Your Books is looking pretty good for me. Excited to link up with Steph and Jana when I have something to share.

Damage Done - This book kept my attention, but it was unfortunately compared to Gone Girl which means I was looking for a twist that was pretty apparent less than halfway through. There was a little more to said twist that wasn't revealed until the end, though, so even though it was a twist that I could barely see happening in real life, there's that. This book totally kept my attention but it had the typical YA puppy love mixed with tragedy. I wouldn't say I would recommend it, but I gave it four stars on Goodreads simply for keeping me entertained enough to want to read again after a long slump.

The Hearts of Men - I really liked the way this story was told. It started with a boy in the 60s at Boy Scout Camp and featured a character who had shown him a small kindness, then went to feature that character as an adult with a teenage son in the 90s, and ended with the son's wife a few years in the future. Much of the story revolves around the camp itself. It's one of those books where not a lot happens, but I liked the internal thoughts of each character enough to want to keep reading.

Her Every Fear - A British woman who has already experienced one traumatic event switches apartments with her cousin in Boston and a murder takes place the day she arrives. The story switched POVs, but it annoyed me here less than in other books; it seemed to do so for a reason. The way it was written made the main character's anxiety and paranoia come through on the page. The plot requires a huge suspension of disbelief, which I often have a hard time with, but for whatever reason, I stayed up late reading this book. I would recommend it as a quick plane or beach read - nothing life-changing, but it should keep you interested.

The Handmaid's Tale - When I was in college, I tutored high school kids in standardized test prep. One of my "regulars" had a huge project on this book, so I sped through it, thinking that it was awesome and I wished I had been taught it in high school. Then I never really thought about it again until it became a show on Hulu that people like. It was a free download with Amazon Prime, so I was excited to give it a reread. Some of the things in it are so freaky when compared with American life today. It's about a woman in a dystopian future America; not like a Hunger Games dystopia with crazy TV and fancy make-up, but one that looks a lot closer to real life. It makes you think while telling a great story. I think the fewer details you know, the better, but it's worth picking up.

Small Great Things - You guys. If the words white privilege and equity and social justice mean nothing to you, please read this book. You will learn something and you will read an interesting, thought-provoking story. I feel that any gateway is a good gateway to understanding systemic racial issues in the U.S. I have also witnessed so much "accidental racism" lately (ie, people who comment on how well-spoken a black person is... that is not a compliment) that I love this book for giving examples and explaining how what you think is a nice thing to say really shows that you are expecting something negative from a person of color. In addition to that, I thought it was an interesting story and I wanted to see what happened next. While the ending was a little ridiculous, everything it took to get there sold me.

Talking as Fast as I Can - This is Lauren Graham's memoir. I have to respect a celebrity who doesn't give a tell-all to sell books, but I also maintain the right to comment on the fact that a book doesn't have enough info in it to be terribly interesting. If this book wasn't written by a beloved actress, I don't think anyone would have read it. While her tidbits about filming the Gilmore revival were cute and sometimes interesting, her use of extended metaphors throughout the book to avoid giving more details got a little old for me. I did love her old lady character who doesn't understand our culture's social media obsession, though. Nonetheless, I tore through this really fast and found it entertaining; it just wasn't what I was hoping for.

I'm excited that the latest from Taylor Jenkins Reid is out today and I'm on a plane headed to Vegas for a work conference. Hopefully I can spend some time with a good book while I'm there.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

what's new with me: april and may

I meant to recap April in a post and never did, so this post is going to be a double whammy. It definitely qualifies as a post that's more for me than for you, but if you ever wanted insight into the minutiae worth remembering in my life, here it is.

In April...

- Andrew and I had our annual BBQ and Bluebonnets trip to the Hill Country where the only requirements are smoked meat and pretty flowers. We found a great spot and had good food, so I was thrilled.

- One of my favorite friends got engaged! I thought we were at dinner for another friend's birthday, but really, that friend and another had worked with her (now) fiancé to get her out of the house. I was riding home with the birthday girl when we got a text from the newly engaged with the news. She (and I!) had no idea. This is exciting because I think she is my last close friend to get married and she is letting me plan things for her, which I love.

- We staycationed at the Sam Houston Hotel in downtown Houston. We maaaaay have said it was our anniversary and were treated with strawberries and champagne (it was six weeks post our dating anniversary so that kind of counts, right?) and we used points, so the stay was free. We had dinner with friends at Ritual (so meaty, with a butcher shop in the back of the restaurant - the squeamish like me need to be mindful when choosing a seat as to not have to watch), bar-hopped a little downtown, and tried a new speakeasy called Tongue-Cut Sparrow hidden in the back of a noisy tequila bar. Then we had brunch at Kitchen 713, an old favorite in a new location.

- I went to NYC for a Benefit Dinner for work. I still feel really new in my role, so seeing how an organization like mine brings all event elements together was really interesting. I also got to see a lot of my colleagues in person who live in NYC or who also flew in for the event. I fell in love with the Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts from Gregory's Coffee (what is in that? still dreaming about it.) and got to eat Rick Bayless food at the airport in Chicago on my way home. The prickly pear aqua fresca would make a fabulous cocktail, in case you were wondering.

- Andrew and his BBQ partner sold sauces and spice rubs at a church craft fair. I spent an inordinate amount of time creeping on the petting zoo. The piglets were so cute, I vowed to stop eating pork. That lasted less than two weeks, though so far I have only had bacon and sausage; I'm not sure when I'll eat pork chops again.

- I went to New Orleans for a work meeting. There is an awesome place there called W.I.N.O. where you get a card and put it in a machine and can self-serve wine from dispensers in either a taste, half pour, or full pour. By the time I met my coworkers there, they were nearly ready to leave so I didn't get to do as much tasting as I would have liked, but I found out there's a place here in Houston with a similar set-up that I need to go check out. I didn't have much time for good food since the meeting took up most of my time, but the hotel restaurant was a John Besh restaurant, and I have been wanting to eat his food for a long time, so at least I got to do that (Luke at the Hilton on St. Charles. I had a fried chicken biscuit and some amazing savory grits).

- U2 was scratched off my concert bucket list! A long time ago, Andrew and I talked about artists that we would have to see in concert if they came through Houston. U2 was on it, so when The Joshua Tree tour was announced, he used his ticket ninja skills to get us tickets (he has the best luck with Ticketmaster; it's truly a gift). We got there when doors opened to get a good spot since we opted for general admission floor seats and it was worth it to see such a great show up close. The stage was phenomenal, but I don't know that I need to see the band again. I'm so glad I got to once, though. And, The Lumineers opened and were fantastic - this was my second time to see them live and I liked it more than the first.

- I almost got another cat. I have wanted another cat for so long, but since Bauer has medical problems and can be expensive and is also kind of a jerk, Andrew doesn't fully support this. But, I was out walking Duncan one day and he pulled harder than usual toward a tree. The tiniest grey kitten was under it, all alone and crying. At the same time, a woman and her son came walking toward us and I asked if they happened to be looking for a kitten. They weren't, but the little boy was about eight and started giving his mom a hard sell on the cat even though she said they couldn't take it. I couldn't leave the poor thing there, so I called Andrew to bring the carrier and started dreaming up names. I picked up the cat and fell in love at first sight (even though it hissed and tried to scratch me) but then passed it to the mom and her son. He was so persistent that they agreed to keep it. I was a little sad, but happy the kitty had a home since I'm traveling a lot in the next few weeks and it isn't an ideal time to get a new family member.

I'm sure there's more, but those are the highlights! I especially wanted to talk about the food since I feel like my online persona hasn't been much about eating or drinking lately, despite my username. What's new with you?

Linking up with Kristen and Gretch.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

add it to my list: may 2017

It's the last Tuesday of the month which means it's time to share the things you're recommending in real life with me, Bre, and everyone else. The Add It To My List link-up is where you can compile the things you really, truly like and have tried and want others to try too. It's nice if you leave a comment for Bre and me and then see what others are recommending. So, let's talk...

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Add it to your Netflix Queue:

Dear White People - I feel like this show was added to Netflix and no one said anything about it. I really liked it! If you understand white privilege and what's happening in society now, it's an interesting look at what it's like to be a black college student today. I mean it's still TV but it makes you understand how a young black man feels when faced with a police officer or how a black woman tries to be less black in certain situations. It's funny and coming of age and serious and you will breeze through the episodes while also getting a primer in social justice. I highly recommend.

Add it to your Podcast List:

Pod Save the People - While we're talking about social justice, here's a podcast that boils down social issues in terms we can all understand. The host and two others will talk about news issues and why you should care about them, and then there's an interview or two with an expert, politician, or celebrity talking about issues they care about. I've learned more about 45's tax cuts and why they're scary and more about Medicare and Medicaid since I started listening. The eps are long but worth it and also the host is an alum of the organization for which I work, so it's safe to say I'm hoping our paths cross soon.

This American Life - Tell Me I'm Fat - You already know that I love This American Life and Lindy West. I first learned who Lindy West was from this TAL episode, which you can download again this week (you can only go back so far to download TAL episodes via iTunes; otherwise, you have to listen to past eps online). If you haven't listened and you want a better understanding of being overweight in America, you should.

Add it to your Shopping List:

Sea Salt Garden Veggie Straws - Sometimes, 3 o'clock hits and I'm not hungry, but I need a snack to stay awake. I discovered these and I love them.  I feel like you can eat a ton for not many calories, they are wonderfully salty, and the crunch makes them satisfying. Are they the healthiest choice? No, but they are far better than many other things I could grab. Also, I've tried other brands, and these are far superior.

Clothes... on Amazon - Sometimes I see a really cute top online and I try it on in the store and it looks horrendous on me because I am not size two like the model (no offense, size two friends). I understand that they can't get models in all sizes for all clothes but seeing other body types in a lot of clothes would be nice, you know? Enter Amazon. There are so many clothes available on Prime (with free returns!) and tons of reviewers have posted pics of them wearing said clothes! When I see different body types looking great in an article of clothing, I'm much more likely to buy it. I bought a dress via Amazon last month which ended up just not being to my taste and I have this bathing suit in my cart now since it looks great on women of all shapes and sizes... I hate water but maybe this will make me change my mind? (not an affiliate link, click away).

Add it to your People to Stalk Online List:

Dan Rather/News and Guts - Who knew that a retired news anchor would continue to be a person we could look to to explain what's happening in the U.S. and why we are living in such an interesting time? Dan Rather writes open letters to the president on Facebook, compares current times to the past and predicts what might happen based on lessons learned, and continues to examine the cracks in our democracy. It's terrifying, but it also makes for good reading when you know what's happening in America doesn't feel right but you can't quite articulate why. I suggest following both on Facebook for maximum impact.

@hereisgina on Instagram - You know I love Jane the Virgin. I listened to a podcast with Jane herself, Gina Rodriguez, and then I started looking at her Instagram and her insta-stories are really fun - you feel like you're hanging out with her as she tries to do pull-ups using her at-home bar or plays with a giant bunny. If you want a normal celebrity to creep on, I suggest her.

Hopefully you found something new to add to one of your many lists. I'm excited to see what is on everyone's list now that it's officially summer!

Friday, May 26, 2017

a reminder, and a poor metaphor.

Well hello.

I miss our little talks. Both you coming over to talk to me, and me to you. My extra hour of morning time has been spent sleeping or watching Good Morning America to see what his orangeness did overnight.

In April, I actually did one of those things that bloggers say you should do and wrote an editorial calendar and it kept me focused and made me want to write again (well, twice a week - vast improvement!). And then I had a really busy week at work and then it was May and my remaining two topics were never addressed and now we're here, nearly all the way through May.

Since we are nearly all the way through May, I wanted to remind you that Bre and I are still hosting the Add It To My List linkup the last Tuesday of the month. That would be this coming Tuesday so you have a three day weekend to think about the things you would recommend. After a lackluster April, I'm excited that I have been keeping up with my recs so I can at least bring something to the linkup party. The one that I co-host. Last month, I felt like I invited you guys over and only had a bag of pretzels on the table. This month, I can at least offer you a decent cheese tray.

So please join us! I know you have opinions and spend money and like to share. Plus, you can write it on your editorial calendar. Win-win. Share about it if that's your thing. There's plenty of decent cheese to go around.

Friday, April 28, 2017

currently {april 2017}

I felt like I just did a Currently post. Like, that it was not too long ago and so maybe I shouldn't do it again but then I searched my archives and the last one was a year ago next week. I feel like 51 weeks is a pretty fair amount of time in between.


Watching: Felicity on the ABC app! I've never watched it before and the 1998 fashion is awesome. Felicity is kind of the worst, though. Better Call Saul is back, and so very different from Breaking Bad but still so well done. Considering the thought behind each shot, line, and choice on Vince Gilligan's shows makes me appreciate TV even more. I also started Rectify which I had never heard of (it aired on Sundance and is on Netflix) and it's got an interesting premise.

Trying: To find more balance. To get away from my desk and move around my house more, to find time to decompress (which used to be my drive time), to be happy and proactive, and to not be controlled by how I feel in this moment. Things change quickly so chances are, it won't always be this way.

Reading: I finally found a book that's holding my attention (Damage Done - it's YA but compared to Gone Girl)! My slump has been in effect since late January so this is exciting. I also read this article about what bullets do to bodies and found it fascinating. It talks about how the people who survive gunshot wounds are the story we aren't talking about and how trauma surgeons have gotten so good at their jobs that there are many gunshot wound survivors so they don't seem like as big of a deal anymore, but they are.

Enjoying: Champagne on a Thursday. Not wearing my contacts most days. Cool mornings. My vet refilling Bauer's steroid prescription without an office visit (huge win - he's terrified of the car). Leftover Cadbury mini eggs.

Noticing: That somewhere along the line, I forgot how to think critically. I spent six years (professionally) knowing that if one person was happy with my work, then I was seen as doing a good job. As long as I did what was asked of me, my job stayed easy. When I questioned or asked why, it didn't matter since pretty much everything was beyond my control. Now I'm in a role where I need to ask questions and think everything through. No details are too small and I'm surrounded by people who don't understand my role, so I have to explain it to them and do great things with my own job. It isn't bad, it's just different. But through it, I realized that I forgot to ask why. I got in a habit of following orders, I stopped thinking creatively, and now I need to get that back. It's a weird lesson, but I don't hate it. I just wish it were easier.

Buying: A shower gift for my new niece or nephew. New luggage. A pedicure on Saturday. And probably more since a woman in my neighborhood turned a room in her house into a really cute boutique and she's doing an open shop today. I won a gift card at one of her previous events, so I think I need to update my spring wardrobe.

Thinking About: Travel. I'm going to NYC for work this week, New Orleans later in May, Austin for mine and Andrew's anniversary/the ATX TV Fest in June, and then Las Vegas for a conference the week after that. I like to be busy, and it will be fun, but it seems daunting. Plus, the NYC event is a benefit dinner with fancy rich people and I have nothing to wear. The story of my life, you guys. If you have any recs where I can find a fairly inexpensive professional dress today or tomorrow, let me know. I got one dress from Amazon and hated it and another that my husband said made me look Amish so I need help.

I'll be reading on the plane, instagram story-ing where ever I go, snapping pics of the Fearless Girl (my company's NY office is right behind it), and searching for the best spots to spend my per diem. Gotta find those silver linings.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

add it to my list: april 2017

I haven't done much lately, but I still feel like I've been busy. I haven't taken the time to try many new things and I'm still in a reading slump. BUT! The link-up should still go on. So glad Bre and I do this together because I need the accountability.

(But true story, I saw her on Saturday and we were both in shock that another month had passed and it was time to do this again).

So to remind you, add it to my list is a place for you to share the things you already recommend to people in real life. Anything goes and all we ask is that you leave comments in a few different places and bonus points for doing so with us. That's it.

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Add It To Your Shopping List

Lash Princess Mascara. Steph got it and posted about it last month because Stephanie posted about it and when it was compared to the Too Faced Better than Sex mascara (which I'm tempted to try but I'm just cheap!), I had to go find it. I went to two Ultas and both were sold out of the False Lash Effect but one had a two pack of that one plus the Volume mascara. It was $8 for both so no huge financial gamble. The volume works well for me during the day and the false lash effect is nice at night or for dressing up. I can't speak to how it compares to more expensive brands, but I like it.

Add It To Your Dinner List

These Mediterranean Chicken Bowls. This is a recipe that I feel comfortable cooking that actually tastes good. You can prepare things ahead of time, which I appreciate, and it's plenty for us to have leftovers. It's a lot of garlic, though, so I normally use half of what's suggested. Otherwise, it's perfect.

Add It To Your Houston List

My husband and his business partner dreamed up chicken enchilada sausage - chicken, enchilada sauce, onions, peppers, and corn tortillas IN a sausage - and it's delicious. I was looking forward to having some over the weekend, but they sold out of food in a little over two hours and I was working so I was late to the event. So sad. I wish making sausage was easier because we would have it every week, at least.

And you know what? That's it from me. Sometimes you're just tapped out of recommendations. I'll work harder to try new things in May. Here's hoping I get some good things to try from you.

Friday, April 14, 2017

fun facts

I always like reading fun facts about other people. Here are ten about me.

I barely touch my eyebrows. I see brow powder and sticks and microblading and it all scares me because I never know if it's "in" to have thick brows or thin ones. I don't do anything to mine unless they wildly misbehave but the internet leads me to believe that this is strange.

I hate the beach. The sand, the sun, and the water are my enemies. I love your photos from there, but I just can't get into it myself. More space for you.

I went to my husband's high school graduation but I didn't know him then. Andrew and I are four grades apart. We went to the same high school at different times. He's actually the same age as my cousin and step-sister, went to school with both of them, and graduated with my cousin. So we were in the same space at the same time long before we ever met. Small world.

Sometimes when I run, my legs get ridiculously itchy. If that isn't a reason to watch TV on the couch, I don't know what is. They get red and splotchy and I can't think of anything else. Usually a shower helps. It doesn't always happen and I wish I knew what triggered it.

With few exceptions, I have always had a cat in my house. I got my first cat when I was two. The first year and a half Andrew and I lived together, we had no cat. Other than that, I've had a cat in my house for my whole life and I always plan to. They're jerks but so much easier than dogs.

I can barely ride a bike. I didn't learn how to ride one until I was 12 and haven't practiced much since. Last time I got on a bike was probably five years ago and I ran into a little girl on the sidewalk since I'm not good at maneuvering. My niece still reminds me about that and laughs.

I love cheese. I mean I love chocolate, too, but lately cheese has been my real love. I check any fancy cheese shop to see if they have my favorite Mt. Tam triple cream brie. Queso, babybels, in any form, really. If I go to the grocery store and decide to "figure out" dinner while I'm there, it's probably going to be meats, cheeses, hummus, and crackers.

I have the worst memory. I don't know why. I barely retain anything I read or watch for very long. If I binge a show, I won't remember much about it a month later. If I watch a show in real time and have to go months between seasons, I usually can't remember what happened last. It's really frustrating, but can be nice since nearly everything feels new to me. I can also be a story repeater. I need people to call me out on that.

I have lots of freckles. This seems very self-explanatory, but I have had many people who have known me for a while and one day look at me and say "I never realized you had freckles." So, since we are likely online friends and great things like instagram filters might hide that from you, I thought I would let you know. As a kid, I hated them. As an adult, I'm pretty indifferent but do use their darkness to gauge if I need to up my sun protection.

I'm a terrible shopper. I talk myself out of everything. I convince myself I don't need it. I'm cheap. It takes me forever to make a decision. As such, I always hate my entire closet of clothes because they're not cute anymore. However, if I'm shopping with you, I'm a total enabler and I want you to buy everything.

There it is. Ten things. Tell me something about you.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

in which my slump takes over

I don't know if it's the lure of social media or what, but I can't get into reading a book lately. I spent about 30 minutes this weekend looking for something new to read; nothing sounded interesting. It's like when you're hungry but nothing in your fridge full of food sounds appealing. That's me and books right now. I'm hoping that, like it has in the past, linking up with Steph and Jana will give me a renewed desire to read. Let's see.

The Good
You Can't Touch My Hair (and other things I still have to explain): This was a memoir told in short stories, as most books I enjoy lately are. Jessica Robinson is a comedian who hosts two podcasts and loves pop culture. She's black, and her book talks about how being black affects how she sees herself and how she's treated. It sounds serious, but it's FULL of funny references to keep things a little light while still dealing with some serious ideas. It made me laugh out loud.

The Less-Good
The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: I fully expected to love this book. It started off fine; you should care less about what other people think of you with a brief overview of how that can affect your life. Great. But the more I stuck with the book, the more repetitive it seemed. Either you're the kind of person who doesn't care what people think of you, or you're the kind of person who does. I don't think reading a book will flip you. Perhaps it will give you a new perspective and you can realize that other people's opinions don't matter, but this book seemed so absolute that I got tired of its message pretty fast. "Clearing out my mental barn" or whatever just isn't something I was on board with.

The Awful
The Marvelous Misadventures of Ingrid Winter: This was an Amazon freebie that sounded interesting, so I saved it to my Kindle. I was stuck on a plane with a dying iPad and no internet connection and I had this, so I was grateful to have something. That also explains why I finished this disorganized mess. Let me first say that it was translated from another language (Swedish or Norwegian) so perhaps that's why it felt so strange and disjointed. It started as chick-lit with an overworked mom of three trying to juggle too much and who impulse-bought a house she can't afford. It then became a workplace drama where she isn't doing enough at work and her coworkers notice. Then, it takes a strange turn where the woman takes a business trip, kisses another man, thinks she's involved with an art theft, and develops a bit of a cough syrup dependency for a few days. It was all over the place and made no sense. It was terrible, but I kept reading because I had nothing else and I really wanted to know if things would tie together (they didn't). If you too downloaded this for free, please don't waste your time...

And that's it! It's not good. I checked something out last night and have already forgotten the title, so perhaps something I come across today will get me out of my slump. Let me know if you have a surefire, amazing book that I have to read in the comments - I need help!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

if we met for coffee

If we met for coffee, it would likely be iced because the warm weather is coming to Houston. Summer is around the corner which means it gets too hot to move. April and October are Houston's best months so hopefully we would be somewhere with a patio.

If we met for coffee, I would try to think about what I've been doing lately. I've been really lucky to get to spend time with friends, and it's been nice that Andrew and I have couple friends to hang out with. We've gone to Corkscrew BBQ with the Westbrooks and Baby C, have friends who live nearby that we can meet at our shared favorite bar for a drink, and got to see one of our couple friends twice this month. They taught us to play Parcheesi which was surprisingly hard but also unexpectedly fun. We learned a lot about Columbian soccer, food, and dancing.

If we met for coffee, I would inevitably ask you what you're watching. I love to talk TV. Andrew and I binge-watched The Americans over the past month and are now caught up to watch it in real time. It's so well done and intriguing but also a little scary in today's climate. I'm sure you're watching Big Little Lies and if you read the book, I especially want to know what you thought of it. I read it, and I thought the show was a great adaptation and I stayed interested, even though I knew the ending. We might talk about Jane the Virgin and how I think it's fun and light but also serious and well thought out. I would tell you that I'm over The Walking Dead but pumped for Better Call Saul and I would hope that you can recommend something new for me.

If we met for coffee, I might ask you what you do for lunch every day. I find lunch to be a necessary evil; I need to eat and I like taking a break, but finding something healthy, satisfying, and quick that I don't get tired of is a challenge. I would tell you how my life was made because I thought I could make avocado toast but I was (and still am) out of red pepper, which is essential. We could then compare first world problems. My current favorite thing to complain about it my robot vacuum.

If we met for coffee, I would have to ask you if you listened to S-Town and if you did, what you thought. I binged it right away. I thought it was great storytelling - really, listen to some non-NPR podcasts and you will appreciate their production so much more - but maybe not a story I needed to hear. I was kind of disappointed at the end that I spent seven hours with very little payoff, but at the same time, it was passive time so nothing was lost. I would want to know what you got from John B's story.

If we met for coffee, I would want to talk about goals. I'm not good at them, but I feel like I need something concrete to work toward. I would tell you about how I started Couch 2 5K last week and I pretty much hate it. I'm only running 90 seconds at a time; next week's three minutes at a time might as well be three hours. I also want to set some travel goals so I want to talk about where you've been and what's next on your travel wish list. Oh, and I would tell you that I have a goal to get back into blogging more regularly and have post ideas for every Tuesday and Thursday this month. Maybe talking about it will make it happen.

If we met for coffee, it would likely veer into a serious or political discussion. Depending on you. I'm trying to inform myself and feel confident in my assertions. I wouldn't want you to feel attacked but I don't want to stay in my echo chamber. I've been thinking lately about privilege and what it means to me as a person who looks white but has a Latino last name (both married and maiden, if you didn't know) and who never fully identified as white or Latino but selecting two boxes in the race section wasn't always an answer. I think about how I have mostly been lucky in my experiences, but I have definitely been treated differently because I am a woman. I would want to talk about where you get your news and opinions and what you care about in such a noisy, political landscape.

If we met for coffee, I would worry that I wasn't interesting or too negative or not enough. My insecurities seem louder lately and I try to ignore them and be content with who I am and where I am.  I have to think about the actions that speak louder; that the gift of your time shows that I am enough, that our friendship is worth the effort it took to sit in traffic and get to this place, and whether we share deep thoughts or observations on the weather, it was time well spent.

Linking up with Kristen and Gretch for what's new with you.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

never gonna be instagram famous

I'm torn between not giving a damn that my blog and instagram aren't "big" and wondering why they aren't growing because I've been at this for four (!!!) years now and I feel like some people started posting yesterday and they have 10K followers (or more). Sometimes I want to do better but most of the time,  I like the fact that I might be an acquired taste and if I did some of the things that the big accounts do, then I wouldn't really be me anymore...

Things like:

Wear the right clothes. I can't tell you how many big bloggers wear clothes that I would never want to wear in real life. Off-shoulder tops may be great for you, but strapless bras are not great for me. I look like a poorly-dressed window when I wear large ruffles. And those huge bell sleeves that girls are wearing this spring? I mean great if it works for you, but I go out to eat way too much and reach across far too many tables to ever keep those looking clean, never mind Instagram-worthy. And don't get me started on shoes. Heels are my nightmare, those lace-up sandals look way too difficult, and shoes bought to perfectly match one outfit just seem... expensive? I'm just too cheap to follow the trends. Where's the not-so IG-worthy group of women in their t-shirts and jeans?

Be a creative photographer. A lot of bloggers have an eye for highlighting beautiful parts of life around us. I like following them. I'm just bad at that. Other bloggers get... er, creative... in how they present their lives. You guys, I'm never going to hold my arms over my head to take a photo of my legs and my laptop from above. I would feel like a fool, my husband would laugh at me, and I would inevitably get an unflattering angle featuring my stomach that I would analyze for days to come. I can't stage a flat lay to save my life, either. If I try to pile some cute-yet-disparate items together and photograph them, it just ends up looking like I bumped into my table and a bunch of random stuff fell over. If you can pull it off, then let me know what I'm missing.

Liking color too much. True story, I'm terrible at decorating. When Andrew and I first moved in together, the color scheme I settled on was blue and brown. Everything was blue or brown because I didn't know how to add in anything else (Also? It was 2007. Don't judge). When it came time to redecorate a few years ago, I decided I wanted our house to be all the colors. Almost anything goes and I want to make anything work if I love it enough. My house is cozy, but it's never going to be a place someone else is dying to copy. There is nothing white, or marbled, or subway tiled. And that's okay. My cat would eat one of those sheepskin rugs, anyway.

#liketoknowit. I'll admit, I've never signed up for Like To Know It. This isn't about you not being able to make money from your blog. You do you. This is about me not wanting yet another email in my inbox because I liked your t-shirt once. But like we've already talked about, the clothes I feel best in are rarely featured on instagram anyway, so I don't think I'm missing out on much. I would also be terrible at using the service since most of my clothes are a) from Target b) concert or food t-shirts c) hand-me-downs from my previous coworkers (they had good taste, never tried things on, and were generous with things that didn't work for them!) - I don't think those are options you can tag.

I could go on. I'm a terrible hashtagger, inconsistent with posting, and my captions are a little long. But, I always like to show something that I think is real and worth sharing and interesting to me. And if only (let me see...) 312 people are into that, then that should be enough for me.

After all, as far as I'm concerned, there are few things in life that are heels and strapless bra worthy. Instagram isn't one of them.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

a day in my work from home life

So I work from home now! I thought it would be full of long lunches and short days and and I would love it. Before I had the opportunity to work from home, I saw people who did it as lucky. I only saw the good and couldn't really conceptualize what it would be like. Now I can tell you that basically, I was wrong.

I set my alarm for 6:30 a.m. because as much as I love sleep, I love mentally preparing myself in the morning more. I get up by 7:00 (earlier if Bauer insists) and make my way to the couch with some coffee and my personal laptop. I flip on Good Morning America while I read blog posts and otherwise catch up on social media.

Each week, I try to look at my schedule and get an idea of what I will wear, the same way I did when I worked in an office. When I know I have video calls, I try to at least wear a non-embarassing t-shirt; if I have lunch plans or need to run an errand, I know I'll wear jeans that day. Otherwise, I throw on "work PJs" which are leggings or running shorts and a t-shirt. My hair and make-up are minimal at best and I love not putting my contacts in daily. I try not to look like a total sloppy mess just because it makes me feel better about myself, but some days are just lazy.

My work day starts at 8:00, especially since the rest of my team is on the east coast. My schedule is flexible, but it's understood that I may have 50 hours of work to do each week. My company is pretty technologically advanced in that we use Slack (you can direct message, group message, or join channels based on your team or interest), Zoom (video or audio conferencing), and our Outlook is super integrated, so it's really easy to get ahold of anyone you need. I work from my home office (an upstairs bedroom in our house; the master and living spaces are downstairs) most of the time since there's no TV in there and I like my dual monitor situation. I try to take at least two 15 minute breaks a day where I get chores done around the house like laundry, getting the house ready for the robot vacuum, or wiping down the bathrooms. I also try to do simple things like use the bathroom downstairs just so I get a few more steps in. I wore a fitbit for a few weeks and I only get 5000 - 7000 steps on an average day!

I've come to realize that I need a change of scenery and to leave my house every so often. I like to work from a coffee shop or the library for a few hours each week and I have a friend in my neighborhood who also works from home, so we've had lunch a few times. On other days, I make sure to take 30 minutes to an hour outside of my home office and take a walk, watch TV in the living room, or run an errand. It's nice to have the flexibility of being at home, but some days, it's so hard to get back to it. I just want to finish my show or run one more errand while I'm still out, but I can't.

Since I'm still new, I'm not super busy so I normally end the day around 5:00, assuming I'm not working on anything time-sensitive. To help get out of work mode, I change clothes and walk the dog and listen to a podcast for 20-30 minutes. Andrew is still doing most of our dinner prep and cooking, so he's usually home and in the kitchen by the time I get back. Then we just have a regular night like we did when I worked in an office.

I don't miss the annoyance of awkward coworkers and forced small talk, but I miss having my work friends within arm's reach if I need to vent or run an idea past someone. I don't miss two + hours in traffic a day, but I do have a harder time finding time to listen to podcasts.  I don't miss being stuck walking to my car with someone I have nothing in common with, but I do miss building relationships face-to-face with people who are essential in doing my job well and building that trust to know we're on the same team. I miss my boss saying that I should leave early or take a long lunch but I don't miss the guilt that comes with being a few minutes late to work because of traffic or poor planning. All of the extra time I thought I would have doesn't exist since I still need to put in my time and get work done.

Overall, this change has been a good thing, but it isn't without some loneliness. It's an adjustment to stay motivated when I would rather get distracted by my house since there's no one looking over my shoulder. It doesn't have the freedom I imagined since other people depend on me to get their work done. But! I save money on gas. I don't need to buy clothes or make-up, really. And, my sheets have never been washed more regularly. Plus, it's motivated me to use Instagram stories when I have something to share or just want to hear what other humans are doing - I mean that's got to be considered a good thing, right?

Any questions or things you've always wondered?

Linking up with Kristin and Joey for Stuff and Things.