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.

(Also? TIME FLIES.)

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.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

add it to my list: march 2017

It's already the last Tuesday of the month which means that Bre and I are talking about all the things we're recommending right now, AKA our link-up known as Add It To My List.

The rules are easy - just link up things that you're actually recommending to people in real life. A link back and a comment to us as your hosts is appreciated and checking out other lists is suggested but that's it!


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You can grab the button here if you want.

Anyway - onto my list of things that I can't shut up about right now.

Add it to your People to Stalk Online list

I've explained before that much of Bre's and my friendship takes place via email. We chat about what we're doing, what other people are doing, how weird life is, and other things you talk to your friends about. I've come to realize that there are a lot of people out there who I would like to invite into mine and Bre's friends club because I would love their takes on pretty much anything.

  • Nora McInerny - creator of the Terrible, Thanks for Asking podcast and brains behind the free Nevertheless, She Persisted tattoos that outgrew the tattoo parlor. She's very dry and a little awkward and I can relate which is probably why I want to be her friend.
  • Lindy West - author of Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, one of my favorite books of 2016. She just did a reading in Houston and Bre and I went and I didn't invite her to the friend club even though I wanted to. She had to quit twitter because people are awful but she is turning her memoir into a TV show and she's on instagram and Facebook.
  • Phoebe Robinson - cohost of the 2 Dope Queens podcast. I'll be honest, I don't love 2 Dope Queens because I would rather listen to Phoebe and her cohost, Jessica, talk than the stand-up comedy that's the point of the show. But, she has another podcast I need to check out and I'm reading her book and it makes you think about hard things like race and white privilege while making you laugh out loud and being full of pop culture references,
Oh, and you should also follow Pete Souza on instagram. I think I've tweeted about him before; he was President Obama's official photographer and now uses archived Obama photos to make statements about the current administration in the shadiest way.

Add it to your Playlist

Music from Big Little Lies. I've tweeted about it and it's good. Lots of angst and a good mix of recent and older music. This playlist gets updated weekly after each episode and I love it. And then when I'm done I listen to Leon Bridges' album in its entirety.

Spotify's My Daily Mix Playlist. Check out your spotify account. You have one, too. I only have a free account so it has made me two playlists so far. I love that it pushes me to listen to new things while still in the confines of songs I know.

Add it to your Treat Yo' Self List

I love school supplies and when I left my old job, my coworkers treated me to an amazing assortment of things for my home office. I got these gold Nate Berkus scissors which are unnecessary, I suppose, but they're heavy and pretty and now I get excited when I need to cut things. They're definitely stronger than any other scissors I've ever had. Plus, they're just begging to be artfully arranged and captured on instagram, right?

Add it to your Houston List

Local friends, if you haven't been to Tiny's Milk and Cookies yet, then please go. They have arguably the best chocolate chip cookie in the city and their Milk and Cookies ice cream is perfectly sweet with huge cookie chunks in it. Plus, it's a window attached to the restaurant, so you can just pull up and easily grab treats to take somewhere. Just go.



Friday, March 10, 2017

lately

I had a really good weekend but didn't feel like recapping it so I thought I would do it here with some other thoughts and call it a good Lately post.

- I love local businesses and there aren't a ton where I live. A few months ago, some friends and I were at a craft show and met a really nice couple who just started making their own bath bombs. I saw a post on Facebook last week and thought "hmmm, those look familiar..." - turns out that couple opened a cute home decor store in the historic part of town so I had to stop by. The owner was as nice as I remembered, the whole store was on sale, I got some subdued Beatles decor, and she told me about her upcoming Pinterest project and floral design workshops that my friends already want to go to. Loved it!

- Fun fact: I went to take a photo of my new decor but of course my camera is out of space (it's a constant struggle). Googled for a photo and the same thing is available at Target.com. Of course it is. At least I paid less and bought it locally...

- Saturday was basically a day o' thrifting for me. I was looking for a bookcase but didn't find it. I did stop in a great resale/antique store with lots of refinished furniture (I have come to realize I will never DIY) at fantastic prices. I found a dressing table that I loved but couldn't justify and a pie safe that I didn't need but texted to Andrew and even he said I to buy it. I don't need his permission to buy things, but I am super indecisive and if I don't NEED an item, I'll leave it behind (and normally regret it). I was just texting him things and when he said buy it... I figured I would just find a home for it. It's currently living in the corner of my dining room but I need to figure out how to style it.

- We tried Xochi for brunch in the new Marriott Marquis. It was good, but its sister restaurant, Hugo's, is still my brunch favorite. At least they both use the same guacamole recipe (aka the best ever...). Xochi has a chocolate flight on its dinner menu so the buffet desserts were chocolate-heavy, which I didn't hate, but sadly there was nothing there I had to have (unlike Hugo's flan).

The dressing table I left behind | the pie safe that came home with me | Mexican hot chocolate, cake, tart, with passionfruit, flan, and in a strawberry cone. I thought the croissant was chocolate, but it was plain. And fruit because balance.

- It's so warm that it was pedicure time. I went with OPI's Two-Timing the Zones. I kind of feel like a Barbie, but I also really like it.

- Andrew and I are bingeing The Americans. When we went to the ATX Festival last year, it was everyone's favorite show so it's been on our watch list for a while. We tried it when it first started and couldn't get into it, probably because we had just finished Brothers and Sisters, which had the main male actor in a very different role. Time has solved that problem. The show is intriguing and the costumes are fantastic, but so far, I don't get the LOVE for it. I like it and I look forward to watching it, but I'm not obsessed. We're in the middle of season two and the fifth just started airing this past week. I'll keep you updated.

- Not having coworkers that I see daily is weird. I think I've been texting my friends a lot more often and I also started instagram story-ing (is that a verb?) just to share. What are your thoughts on IG Stories? I admit, I was in camp "they are unnecessary, please stop" but I do appreciate how they let me see a more real side of people who appear to be perfect online (that does not include me. I don't think I post anything perfect-looking). I also like hearing the voices of bloggers I've followed for a while.

So that's me lately. What's going on in your world?
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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

add it to my list: february 2017

It's the last day of the month and the last Tuesday of the month which means it's time for Add It To My List with me and Bre. All you have to do is write a post about things that you like and recommend to your friends in real life so we can all add new things to our Amazon lists, Netflix queues, podcast subscriptions, and so on. Then click around and see what other people have recommended so you can add it to your list. If you can't link up today, the link-up is open through next Tuesday, so come back and join in later this week!

Anyway - on to my list!


Add it to your shopping list:
RTIC Cups: I didn't realize how much I like ice cold water until I had it at my disposal every day. I used to use Aladdin cups from Target and they were fine until I got an RTIC and I have ice all day (or as long as my water lasts) and now I want to throw all of my other cups away. They're less than $15, they're from a Houston-based company, and they're totally worth it. If only they weren't hand wash only...

Total Comfort PJs: I got a cute pair of short pajamas from Target a while time ago and wore them all the time, so I asked for a pair in a different color for Christmas. Target started making them differently and my new pair is amazingly soft and stretchy - they make my old pair feel like a ratty old t-shirt. Plus, wearing actual matching pajamas makes me feel like an adult in a good way.

Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burgers: I love Trader Joe's but I find it overwhelming. There are so many things you can't get anywhere else, so I go in there and don't buy much because "what if I hate it?"I love to share the things I buy repeatedly there, though, and these veggie burgers are on the list. They're made from potatoes and other veggies, so no weird soy if that isn't your thing and the Indian flavor is unique enough so you don't feel like you're eating fake meat; you're eating something totally different.

Add it to your watch list:
Sneaky Pete on Amazon Prime. I love a good ten episode season because it isn't a huge commitment. Sneaky Pete has a great cast (Giovanni Ribisi, Bryan Cranston, Margo Martindale) and it's a fun premise - a guy gets out of prison and in order to get money and escape someone out to get him, he assumes his prison roommate's identity so he can steal money from that guy's family. Only the family isn't at all the way the roommate described. The first episode is nothing like the rest of the series. Give it at least two to three episodes if it doesn't hook you right away - it's a good series.

Add it to your podcast list:
I like to check out the iTunes podcast chart when I need something new and since all of my favorites are on hiatus, I found Missing Richard Simmons last week. Yes, Richard Simmons, the older man with the wild curly hair who sweats to the oldies and was always the butt of David Letterman's jokes. Apparently he used to be one of the friendliest celebrities around but he hasn't been seen in public or heard from by his friends in two years. This guy who kind of knew him is trying to solve the mystery. It's part human interest and part mystery and I definitely hope they find him.

Why yes, I do watch Wheel of Fortune every night and I did have to rewind it to take a pic for this linkup.






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So tell me - what should I add to my list?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

what's new with me: february 2017

If I can't use Kristen and Gretch's link-up to talk about what I've been doing lately, is there any real reason for me to write a blog post? And if that link-up isn't until next week but I don't realize it until AFTER I've written my post, I should just publish it now and link up later, right? Say yes.

I've spent most of 2017 so far unsettled. I had a final interview for a job on January 5th, got a call the next week that it was mine but I had to wait a week on the offer letter, got an offer, put in my two weeks' notice, started a new job, and am still training and trying to figure out where I'll be traveling to in the near future. It isn't bad, but it isn't delineated. I haven't found my new normal yet and I spent so much time waiting for things this year that I'm ready for routine and to be able to expect what's happening next, but I continue to feel unsettled.

But that isn't to say I've been sitting idly. My husband and his business partner had their biggest BBQ service yet where they sold four briskets in four hours (for those not in the BBQ know - that's a LOT of meat!) and then went on to serve other food for four more hours so the prep for that and the clean-up and recovery took forever. The week before that, we went to see Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds do an acoustic show and it was fantastic (even if I have still yet to see Dave's Cornbread after 5+ shows...). The week after the big BBQ event, the guys did a catering which was small but still time-consuming.

Houston hosted the Super Bowl, and we hosted my sister-in-law, her husband, his mom, and a friend for that weekend so they could go to the game. We tried a new restaurant with them, One Fifth, which was unfortunately disappointing, introduced them to kolaches, and tried to dissuade them from a trip to Whataburger (it didn't work).

My time wrapping up my old job was the definition of bittersweet. I was fortunate to build lovely relationships with many of my coworkers and got to celebrate with a happy hour, cake at work, last lunches, and thoughtful gifts which include the cutest office supplies for my new home office since I'm obsessed. I left rubber ducks for my favorite people to remember me by as I've collected them for years and it was the first thing people noticed upon entering my old office. You never realize how much people like you until you're leaving, I guess. It was fantastic and I felt so loved, but what no one tells you is that it's very emotionally draining to tell people where you're going, give hugs, and promise to come back so many times in a few days. I'm nonetheless grateful for the support and such a nice ending to that chapter.

My old office, my ID with my pic from my first day on the job, and a cake trying to get me to stay behind.

I started my new job and there was fortuitously an event in Houston at the end of my first week, so I got to meet a bunch of great people and get really excited about the organization as a whole. For week two, my team of five traveled to NYC to spend some time at the home office, eat soul food in Harlem (in the name of supporting local businesses - love it!), and I snuck away to have pizza at Eataly (so so bad) and coffee at the cutest coffee shop. Twice. Because it was around the corner and they had bagels and latte art.

In non-work news, weekends have stayed busy even when BBQ life doesn't take over. We went to Brenham and found the cutest biergarten that was indoor/outdoor, served beer and wine, had local goods for sale, and had a cooler full of meats and cheeses that you could buy to snack on. The music and murals were also fantastic. We celebrated a friend's birthday with bowling at Lucky Strike, I got to eat my favorite cake in the world on a BBQ run, and I got to visit with one of my oldest friends and meet her baby when they were visiting from Hong Kong. (I just realized I instagram a lot of my highlights. You should follow me there if you like this kind of thing). Valentine's Day kind of passed me by since I left for NYC the next day, but we celebrated with one last dinner at Oxheart since it closes next month. We each decided to go to separate bakeries and get the other a Valentine's treat and a chocolate chip cookie to celebrate the day of. Great minds and all of that. We always do a little something around Valentine's Day since we started dating on February 12 11 (we disagree on the date but know that this year makes 11 together!).


Dave and Tim | The best chocolate cake ever from Truth BBQ in Brenham, Texas and I got the first piece of the day.

Oh! And yesterday, I chopped off my hair. A good 5-6 inches. It's been too long for too long and when I had a cancelled conference call and the salon had an opening, I went in to do it. I've been loving long, wavy bobs lately like Adele at the Grammys and Gina Rodriguez on Jane the Virgin but I told my stylist to go two inches longer than she thought she should. It's short for me, but so far I love it.



Hair triplets, am I right?

I think that's the gist of it. I've missed just doing a general recap of life. If you're like me and you're only motivated to blog when there's a link-up involved, join Bre and me on Tuesday for Add it to My List, where all you have to do is talk about things that you like.

I'm also going to link up with Kristin and Joey since the Stuff and Things linkup is actually happening today... oops.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

trying to show you my books but I don't remember them

I have an awful memory. I've said it many times before. It most definitely spills over into my "book life." My last SUYB post was right at the end of 2016, and after that, I had time off of work in which I read a lot. So much, and so fast, that as I try to write this post... well, I don't exactly remember what I read. Thankfully, I took a few notes on my phone and rated some things on goodreads or this post would say next to nothing.

(Also speaking of forgetting things, Valentine's Day is completely passing me by this year. Andrew and I celebrated our dating anniversary over the weekend [which we count for V-Day] and I've been otherwise busy with work so it's like it isn't happening.)

Left Neglected - I flew through this and I liked it, but I don't remember much. If you like Lisa Genova books, add this one to your TBR. I found it far less depressing than others, but it still makes you wonder what you would do in a similar situation.

Animal Dreams - This is one of Steph's favorites and since I remember reading a book by the same author in high school and enjoying it, I thought I would try it. If you enjoy the setting becoming a character, read this. It was sad and descriptive in terms of scenery, but something about the writing made me feel like the characters were being kept at a distance from me. Many of the themes and ideas are resonant today, even though the book was written in 1991. Check it out if you're in the mood for something a little more literary.

Scrappy Little Nobody - I wanted to hate this book. I don't really like Pitch Perfect and, I don't know, I just thought I was going to find Anna Kendrick annoying. Nope. I found her totally likable and I want to be her friend. She's quirky and insecure and so darn relatable. No one is ever going to tell you what becoming an actress is really like, but she does a good job of showing you how she was far from an overnight success and I love how she is still wondering how and when she became an adult (same here, sister.). I find it hard to find time to read real books, since you need to have proper lighting and all, but this was borrowed from my former boss and I finished it in just a few days since I enjoyed it so much.

Elsewhere - This was recommended to me by Kristin since it's by the same author as The Storied Life of AJ Fikry. It's a completely different book, but some of the whimsy is still there. At first, it was a hard story for me to get into - a teenage girl is killed in a car accident, and the story is about the author's vision of the afterlife. I definitely appreciated the creativity it took to create that and I enjoyed the premise overall. Once I got into it, I really liked the theme of being in the moment, regardless of the outcome, and I think for a YA book, it did a good job of looking at a bigger picture. Some parts of the story seemed to drag while others were rushed, but overall, I enjoyed it.

Every Exquisite Thing - I love the way Matthew Quick captures being a loner and a weirdo in high school, but I didn't love this story. There wasn't enough backstory with the main character to make her make sense. Part of me understood her teen angst while the rest of me was able to just see her as a spoiled brat and not get past that enough to empathize with her. Alex was a strange character whose motives weren't clear, either.

I totally forgot that I read Every Last Word but I knew that there was a setting in my head about a swimming pool. The main character in Every Exquisite Thing plays soccer, so I knew the pool had to be somewhere else. I'm glad my Kindle tracks all of this. It was entertaining enough - I think I read it in a night or two - but it glosses over OCD and the driving plot point, when revealed, just makes you scratch your head.

DNF - Where Am I Now? - This is Mara Wilson's book. So, so different from Anna Kendrick's. They're different people, obviously, with different careers, but I felt like this book was too much about the mundane and didn't provide much perspective from someone with a really interesting life. There were tidbits here and there that were interesting, but overall, I just didn't care about her life anymore. I mean I wish her well and she seems like a nice person, but the fact that the girl from Matilda paints her toenails while on FaceTime with her sister isn't interesting to me. Maybe that was the point. I got to the last chapter and after repeatedly falling asleep while reading, I just quit.

Isn't this cool? We went to Brenham, Texas over the weekend and stopped in a used book store. I couldn't resist a $2 "Blind Date with a book." There was a shelf of wrapped books with descriptions and info on the outside. You can see the one I chose and the book I ended up getting. It sounds a little more like a romance when you read the cover but we'll see...

Linking up with Steph and Jana and hoping to find some books that will keep me awake long enough to finish them and that I can hopefully remember from month to month!


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Friday, February 10, 2017

friday six

Shamelessly stealing this from Jana because I wanted a quick post idea so I didn't keep silent until Show Us Your Books.

So it's been a week on the new job! What I love about events work is that it's never consistent. I spent two days somewhat training myself since my team was preparing for a huge event that happened to be in Houston. I was able to meet two of my four teammates, help prepare materials for the event (including a really cool art installation that I'll probably post on snapchat or IG stories), and then check out the event prep to get a feel of the scale of events that my new company does (it's HUGE compared to where I came from... I'm both excited and nervous!). I miss my old coworkers more than I realized and I need to rearrange my home office to make it better suited to me, but otherwise, it's been a great first week!

Reading: First week on the job means I'm working pretty hard and when I take brain breaks, I do things like laundry instead of catching up on social media. Most of my reading is done in the evening now and catching up on the news I missed during the day. I broke up with a DNF earlier this week and nothing new since.
Watching: This Is Us, of course. Top Chef since it's the only food show I still enjoy. Trying to catch up on Jane the Virgin even though like an idiot, I saw this week's spoiler. Andrew and I are also watching Sneaky Pete on Amazon when we have time.
Listening: Dog walking time is the only time I really have for podcasts now! I enjoyed this week's How I Built this because it was with Kate Spade and her husband, Andy. Did you know she isn't even involved in the company that bears her name anymore? They amicably sold it several years ago and now have another line, Frances Valentine.
Quitting: Being in my shell. This new job and project I'm on are really pushing me from my comfort zone. I like to be a wallflower and observe until I'm comfortable and then start talking to people more and making connections. This week, saying "Hi, I'm Lauren, and I just started here on Monday" has been an awesome springboard to get conversation going, ask people what they do, where they're based (people are in from all over the country! So cool), how they got involved with the group, and things like that. It's so much more fun to just start talking to people and giving unsolicited food recs than it is to worry about how I'll come across. It's a fun change for me. 
Planning: A fun Saturday with Andrew to celebrate our 11th dating anniversary (BBQ, outlets, fancy dinner) and then a quick work trip to NYC next week. I think I have a few free hours, mostly during the evenings, so I want to grab a quick treat or coffee near my hotel and I want to visit the 9/11 Memorial if I have a chance.
Laughing: The other night, Bauer got scared of something so he ran into our kitchen at full speed. He needed to make a 90-degree turn and moved too late, so his paws went into the turn and his body smacked into a cabinet. Andrew saw it, but I just heard the noise. Bauer was fine, though embarrassed, I think, and it was hilarious.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind in many ways so I'm looking forward to a weekend of doing what we want to do with no real obligations (and no football!). Looking forward to Tuesday and book talk.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

secrets

Okay so first I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who linked up with Bre and me on Tuesday for Add it to my list! I haven't gotten to read all the posts yet (you'll see why, below) but we're both so grateful and ready to do it again next month! Anyway...

My pregnant blogger friends have made comments about how it's hard to blog when you find out you're pregnant because it's all you want to talk about.

I am so not pregnant, but I can relate.

I've been itching for change for a while now. I've had basically the same job for six years and while it's a great place to work and I have many coworkers I really, really like, I've felt that it was time to change if the right opportunity came along. And one day (in mid-November) I found that opportunity. I applied and waited and heard back and began a long series of interviews and waiting for results.

So I would want to write a post, but I would want to talk about job searching. Or not say much because what if the potential employer found my blog and I wrote something they didn't like? And what else did I have going on besides thinking about this possible job and how great I would be for it and imagining myself doing it and stressing about if they liked me or how many other candidates there were or...?

For the past two months, I've imagined myself in a new role, saying goodbye to my current coworkers, and thinking about what it would be like to plan events in cities I haven't even visited. A few weeks ago, I learned that the new opportunity is mine! I'm excited that I'll be planning events nationwide for a non-profit with a mission I believe in. That means I get to travel once or twice a month, putting me even more outside of my comfort zone. It also means that I get to work from home! This is the best part. Houston is huge and spread out. I currently spend about two hours commuting, round-trip, and that's a good day. I optimistically set my Goodreads book goal far lower than last year's in hopes of getting this job and no longer having audiobook commute time. Less time for books and podcasts is a small price to pay if I can get that time back in the form of actual useful hours.

As with any change in life, I'm nervous. I'm worried I'll get lonely or that I can't stay focused. I feel like wearing leggings as pants will be wonderful, but also make me feel like a sloppy mess. I worry about having to drive rental cars (something I've never done!) and that I'll miss my husband and cat too much when I'm gone. But mostly, I'm excited to join a new team and try something new. It's time to grow.

So if you have any tips on working from home, send them my way. Or let me know if you are on gchat all day and could use a friend for a virtual coffee break. Or if you will have real coffee (or wine!) with me should I find myself with spare time in your city - help me out! My last day at my current job is tomorrow, so it hasn't hit me yet that everything is going to change on Monday. On top of that, Andrew had a huge BBQ event this past weekend and we will have houseguests (who are attending the Super Bowl!) this weekend, so I have been cleaning, planning, and prepping at work and at home for the past two weeks to prepare for the transition. I'm so ready to settle into my new normal!

Linking up with Kristen and Gretch since I can finally share what's new with me.

What's New With You
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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

add it to my list: january 2017

Yay, today is the day where I get to talk about things I love all in the name of sharing great things with my friends. Thanks for joining Bre and me. I know the U.S. is a bit of a mess right now (understatement of the year) so it almost feels strange to talk about leggings, but maybe you need a break or a reason to treat yourself so you don't go insane over some idiot on Facebook. At least, I do sometimes.

If you're linking up and want to grab the button, check out this post.

Add it to your podcast list:
Terrible, Thanks for Asking: Bre actually talked about this in her post that helped us get this linkup together and it's a gooooood rec. If you like sad stories and empathizing and hearing more about terrible situations you haven't been in (or maybe you have and it sucks and you need to relate), then check this out. You might cry, or want to cry, or leave with more perspective on your own life. Also I love Nora's sense of humor and want to read her book now.

How I Built This: An NPR podcast so the host has a nice, soothing voice and is a great interviewer, which is always a plus. It's always one interviewer talking to an entrepreneur who you've heard of, or whose product you know. I love seeing how these people started with an idea and are now millionaires. My favorites are the ones about Spanx and Drybar. If you need some inspiration to start a business or an idea, give it a try.

Add it to your twitter feed:
@RealDonaldCntxt: The Washington Post created a twitter account that retweets the real Donald's tweets alongside a graphic explaining what he missed. You can keep up with what the guy is saying without following him and while remaining more in-the-know about, you know, actual facts.

Add it to your shopping list:
Felina Leggings: My friend Sarah at Pretty Providence recommended these and said they were really comfortable and they're on sale right now for $12 for two pairs so I had to check them out. They definitely can't be worn as pants, but if you have a shirt long enough to cover you (both front and back) or like to wear leggings around the house, then buy them. They're super soft and have a little compression to feel extra warm.

Fresh Sugar Rose Lip Balm: I'm normally of the opinion that all make-up should be able to be purchased at Target and I can't understand pricey stuff. But, Steph recommended Fresh Sugar lip balm forever ago so I added it to my Amazon list and forgot about it, thinking that maybe someone else would get it for me. Someone else did for Christmas and I totally get it. I'm in love. A little color, a lot of moisture, and I'm totally suckered in.

Add it to the list of useless things that will make you laugh:
Ditty on Alexa: If you have an Amazon Echo, enable the Ditty skill and then think of a phrase to make Ditty sing about. It's so dumb but so funny to hear mundane phrases sung like an opera. Or, maybe it's only funny to me since I regularly sing ridiculous songs when I wash dishes.

See, I really do add things to my list that my friends recommend! If you want to link up with Bre and me, that would be great. Visits to both of our blogs are the polite thing to do, but not required because I don't have time to be the link-up police. I'll likely be slower to respond than usual because this week is crazy (more on that tomorrow, maybe) but I am SO looking forward to adding things to all of my lists!