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