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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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


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?

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.

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!


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


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

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!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

add it to my list: a linkup

So my friend Bre and I have an email relationship. I think it's because we started out as blog friends, back when one comment would lead to a long chain of emails. It just seems natural. I mean I see her in real life and I CAN text her, but I'm much more likely to save what I have to say to her for an email.

We tend to share our current favorite things with one another: the new podcast we need to obsess with someone over, whatever we're bingeing on Netflix, what the other NEEDS to buy from Amazon, etc. It's so nice to read a personal recommendation for something rather than a review or an article, you know? As we email, I always find myself saying "Thanks for the rec - I'm gonna add that to my list" whether it's my Netflix queue, Amazon wishlist, podcast subscription - you get the point. And we both always want to share these things more widely, and twitter isn't enough, and I need motivation to blog, and thus: a linkup was born.

Join Bre and me for the Add it to My List linkup on the last Tuesday of every month. We want to hear about the things you're already recommending to your friends in real life from a Costco bargain to a great recipe to your current favorite twitter account and everything in between. Focus on one thing, or make it a list: just talk about things you've already done and tried and are really worth other people's time and money. Show Us Your Books friends, I encourage you to save your book recs for that link-up, but if you aren't a regular participant (you should be!) or if you want to focus on a favorite book for any other reason, then there's no such thing as too much book talk. There are really no other rules but as always, it's nice if you visit with your hosts and other bloggers. I hope you'll play along next Tuesday, January 31!

grab button for Eat, Drink, and Be Lauren
<div class="eat-drink-and-be-lauren-button" style="width: 650px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="http://www.eatdrinkandbelauren.com" rel="nofollow"> <img src="http://i1082.photobucket.com/albums/j368/Laurenmartinez10/my20list.jpg" alt="Eat, Drink, and Be Lauren" width="650" height="431" /> </a> </div>

Button by Bre. And I didn't know that a blog hop and a link-up were two different things. Does anyone want to have a blog hop anymore? They seem so.... big. For now at least, this is a link-up. I'm off to go narrow down the best stuff to share...

Monday, January 23, 2017

the women's march 2017

I woke up on Saturday without much of a plan. I had to be on the other side of Houston later in the afternoon to celebrate my grandma's birthday and there were a few errands I needed to run and that was it. Andrew had BBQ stuff to do, and I knew we would be meeting his sister and her daughter later that evening. It was just a regular Saturday.

I rearranged my closet and cleaned the bathroom - nothing special. I knew that this march was happening, and I saw one of my friends say that she planned to attend the one in Houston. I kept checking twitter for mentions of the one happening in DC, and I didn't see many specifics. A TV critic that I follow, of all people, said that C-Span was the only channel covering the march in DC; he was right. CNN was playing a religious service that president was attending.

I flipped on C-Span and continued with my day. I texted my friend to see if she was still attending the march in Houston, and she said probably, but it had just started to thunder so that might change her plans. I was thinking the same thing. I halfway listened to Michael Moore speak, and then I heard him get interrupted by Ashley Judd, who read a poem written by a 19-year-old who is more wise than I will ever be. Those words, the cheers from the crowd, the delivery, and the very reasons so many women gathered on a cold day in the nation's capital made me hurry to get ready and text my friend that I was on my way.

Laziness and lack of planning prevented me from truly taking place in the march itself. I was behind schedule and didn't know if I could get to the march's start site in time. I decided to park downtown and walk to City Hall, which was the rally point. I heard cheers and felt the buzz in the atmosphere from more than a block away. Since I was alone, I was able to get through the crowd easily and stand right at the edge of the women entering the rally area, like watching the most unique parade I've ever seen. I'm not one to cry over things like this, but I was grateful to be wearing sunglasses because I had to blink away tears. So many women of all ages were supporting one another. So many dads with little girls on their shoulders, literally raising them up. Funny signs, crude signs, and signs that were merely stating facts to remind people of what there is to lose were everywhere.

I never ended up finding my friend, but I didn't feel alone, either. In that moment, I felt part of something. Are my direct rights currently under fire? Is the president going to take away my job, or my citizenship, or my home? No. But can I see people in my daily life who are under attack? Yes. Do I think that a man who appears to view women as objects deserves the privilege of being president? No. Am I upset that the electoral college still exists and that the majority lost in this election? Absolutely.

I felt energized to care more about local elections and that part of life is just showing up. I really reflected on the National Anthem as it was first sung by a five year old girl and then by an opera singer. I listened as a trans woman plainly told the crowd that she went into the restroom for the same reason as anyone else, so politicians didn't need to worry about her. I heard the Mayor of my city wonder why we are fighting such a similar battle to those fought in the 60s and before - marginalizing a group due to their race or religion needs to stop.

Why did I go to the march? To show my support and say that these changes the new administration wants to make are not okay with me. If I were a part of a group being marginalized, I would hope for others to stand with me. I want to say that it isn't okay for the government to tell us who we can marry, or prohibit both abortions AND access to affordable birth control (I mean either one is really bad... both is completely unacceptable), and I want Republican Texas lawmakers to know that things have changed and they no longer represent the majority of their constituency.

I had someone I don't know try to argue with me on Instagram and ask how women's rights are currently being taken away. They aren't outright yet, sure, but when a man holding the highest office in the U.S. is allowed to talk about grabbing a woman the way he did and normalizing so-called "locker room banter," (vomit) when most of us would in the very least be chastised by our employers simply for uttering that word, I feel like proactive is the way to be. I've had people tell me this weekend that since Trump's kids have been on the right side of the law so his "family seems nice" and that he "wants to end the massacre of gays" that I should give him a chance. If you ask me, that is setting the bar incredibly low. I went to the march so that our lawmakers can know that we demand better.

I posted a picture from the march on instagram and facebook. I don't use facebook much, and never post anything political. I come from a conservative family who I knew full well I was going to see later that day, but I'm tired of being silent (at least, on facebook. I am far from silent on twitter!). I tried to be as respectful as possible in my post. My grandma pulled me aside and told me that she disagreed with me but respected my rights and of course loved me. I mean... baby steps. If I can show anyone in any generation or from any background that those on the left are just normal people with different ideas and not a group to be vilified, then maybe that's a step in the right direction.

So  my regular Saturday ended up going in a completely different direction. I'm not saying anything here you haven't read before, but as this was my first time taking part in some social action, I needed to document it. I am so proud of all of my friends who attended marches, posted their own stories, and motivated me and others to take more action. I hope this feeling lasts and we aren't left with apathy that grants us four more years of the status quo in 2020.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

thinking about the year

As usual, I'm late to the party. No really, if you know me in real life, then I do tend to run late, unless my husband is invited and then I'll be early. But it comes as no surprise that it's taken me this long to really reflect on the past year and the future.

For me personally, 2016 was... just a year. We made our house more adult and then moved in 2014. I got promoted and we adjusted to our new home in 2015. And then in 2016... well, it was just a year. I mean it was the year that my husband started Doubleback BBQ but that's for him to reflect on, not me.

I started to feel kind of bummed about 2016. 365 days and so little to show for it. Thank goodness for my friend Bre and her post about how Elizabeth Gilbert said that people are not like corporations. She says that we're humans and we don't have to improve over last year. Sometimes we try things that don't work and sometimes, we don't produce anything new at all and that's just how life works. And I started to feel some contentment. 2016 was my year to be supportive and to try to learn to cook and to care more about politics and the world. It was the year of making goals and realizing I still don't like them, of trying to be a more thoughtful friend, and of finally feeling like maturity is a thing that can be learned, or at the very least noted when we start to realize we're getting some measure of it.

But, that said, I don't want 2017 to pass me by. My newfound maturity is making me realize that these are some of my best years; old enough to know better, but not old enough to feel stuck. I'm not into a word of the year and we've established that a list of goals doesn't fulfill me, but an idea to stick to and to measure my progress against sounds wholly appealing.

I just want to work to do things that Future Lauren will be happy about.

I admit, it's one of those weird things you see on pinterest that often pertains to fitness. But I'm thinking of me as a person. Is Future Lauren ever going to care about Buzzfeed lists, who in Hollywood is dating whom, or endless selfies of someone I knew in high school? Not likely. So I should spend less time scrolling through those things on my phone. Future Lauren will thank me for doing the dishes tonight even though I want to sit on the couch. She'll thank me for taking thirty seconds to clean up a mess instead of letting it pile up, or having an easy meal in the freezer to heat up when no one wants to cook. Future Lauren will be glad she read those books and listened to those podcasts so she has ideas and opinions and things to discuss outside of her sliver of the world. She will love reading blog posts she wrote to document the mundane because time really does fly by and who can remember all of the details that make up a life? So I'm going to try hard to make my future self happy. Do a few squats while I brush my teeth, take a second to text a friend so that those relationships last, save a few bucks where I can, and try to consciously act in a way that will make me proud to be me. I have a tendency to get caught up in moments, both good and bad, and react so full of adrenaline that I can't fully remember what I said or did. I want to work harder to really be in each moment and not already mentally on to the next thing. I think my future self will appreciate the memories.

I feel like talking about 2017 without talking about the U.S. in 2017 is ignoring the huge elephant in the room. The state of our government has me all kinds of uncomfortable and I'm worried. I want to know things, but not be so inundated by it that I have to bury my head in the sand. I want to have informed opinions for myself if nothing else and stop enclosing myself in a space where everyone agrees with me simply because it's more comfortable. I still want to be wrong about the President-Elect, but two months later, things aren't looking so good.

So - cheers to the new year, twelve days in. I'm off to make good on my promise and put the electronics down in favor of a book. Future Lauren promises to tell you all about it.

Linking up with Kristin and Joey for Stuff and Things.

Monday, January 2, 2017

whatcha been doing?

I was responding to blog comments from last week's Show Us Your Books and wanted to send the same message to nearly everyone who I missed, who I normally talk to via blog at least few times a week but haven't "talked" to in weeks or more because I've been a slacker. Because work was busy and reading on my phone was the only option, because forming a coherent thought seemed like a lot of effort, and because as is my every-so-often custom, I felt that leaving a comment was unnecessary and whatever I had to say wouldn't be missed (note to self, you have been at this blogging thing for a long time and you have only thought that a comment was ridiculously unnecessary like twice, and those were spam, so shut up). But responding to comments takes long enough so I kept it to book talk but really, here is what I wanted to say.

Hi! How are you? I miss you/your blog/checking in with you. Did you have a good fall and Christmas? Mine were both busy. Andrew's family came to town and we hosted Thanksgiving. It was the best menu ever, since we planned it and it was all things we wanted to eat - not a canned cranberry in sight! - but I was left washing sheets and dishes for days after. It isn't something I want to do annually, but every few years would be great. I always have lofty goals of finishing my Christmas shopping by December 1st and it never happens. I'm always stressed out at the last minute, I always worry that I didn't do enough, and I wait until the last minute to wrap everything. That on top of it being my busiest season at work (graduation, donor dinner, employee party, etc.), a last minute Doubleback BBQ pop-up, and just life in general left me feeling out of breath at nearly every turn. Once again, I wasn't really able to enjoy the Christmas season. I say every year will be different. Maybe it will really happen in 2017.

One really fun thing was that we were in town for Christmas and hosted my mom, step-dad, step-sister, and nieces. I don't think we have ever had Christmas together since they normally travel to see my step-family in Louisiana on Christmas day. My youngest niece is eight and no longer believes in Santa, but her opening up her Furby and raising it above her head like a wrestler winning one of those hideous belts almost made up for losing that bit of magic. We decorated ugly sweater Christmas cookies and watched Home Alone. There's nothing like kids to make you realize how fast time flies.

I was very spoiled at Christmas this year and got a coffee maker (bye bye, French press dependency) and the robot vacuum that Stephanie recommended. We aren't BFFs yet - I think my house has too much stuff - but I'm working on a way to make it (I named it Rosie, after the maid on The Jetsons) work for me. I got some fun stuff, too, like lots of necklaces and an Amazon Echo so it wasn't all adulty. We stayed home voluntarily on New Year's Eve and treating it like any other day and adding fancy champagne made it seem less lame. Did you get any gifts I need to know about? How did you spend new year's eve?

Hmmm, what else? I went to a bar that was almost a club for the first time in years for a friend's birthday and decided to dominate karaoke when Ashlee Simpson came on (why?), started and stopped yoga (still undecided on it...), and attended my first trampoline fitness class. I didn't make any new year's resolutions, but my fall goals all still need to be at the top of my mind; I didn't do very well on any of them. What are some of yours?

My house is happy that the Giants are in the playoffs. I'm dreading taking down all of my Christmas decorating and I'll miss the coziness that the lights add every year. I started watching American Crime and The Man in the High Castle and both seem fine but not amazing - I need a show! My reading mojo is coming back. The time I get off from work at the holidays went way too fast, as it always does. How is it 2017?

Bauer and the tree | One of our Thanksgiving tables | Our Christmas card pic taken in Charleston (I sent cards to people whose addresses I had at the time and made better notes for next year...) | the whole collection of ugly sweater cookies | Cat Bauer as the Grinch. There will never be a more accurate costume for him.

Okay so maybe my notes to everyone wouldn't have been quiiiite that focused on me, but I definitely want to ask all of those questions of you. Blogging is getting harder for me the more I overthink it (are you sensing a pattern here?) so I tend to grab the laptop, log in to Blogger, stare at the screen, and decide no one cares. A lot of this is on twitter or instagram already, but not everyone checks all the things so sorry not sorry for repeats. I want to get back in the swing of the oversharing and talking about everything and nothing on the internet. So, here's a step in that direction.