Friday, December 13, 2019

the story of pippi

This is mostly pulled from an email to Bre which is why it is especially rambly but it's been almost two weeks and I haven't devoted a post to our newest family member yet!

So after losing Duncan, Andrew and I decided we wanted another dog. One that was ours from the beginning and that we chose. I wanted an older dog. He wanted a puppy and would not budge. I finally caved after he made many, many promises to be the best dog dad ever, even though we both knew that my work from home schedule meant that I would have the most time with it and have to do a lot more work, considering.

So we looked all over the place and really liked several dogs with Operation Pets Alive, which pulls dogs from the Montgomery Co. Animal Shelters - often puppies or pregnant moms - and then gets dogs ready for homes, of course. We felt super strongly about adopting a rescue and really wanted a puppy smaller than Bauer (who is currently 15 lbs). Andrew preferred a dog that would get to 30-40 lbs, but for me, the smaller, the better.

So the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Andrew was in Austin, but I decided to take a drive to all four adoption events that rescue had that day. I saw some dogs that were cute, but I didn't want to make a decision on my own without him getting to meet it since this was going to be our family member for the next decade or more. Then the two I liked most were adopted. Sad for me. So we got back on the website and there was a litter of four cute puppies and nothing was known about them but they were small and adorable. We put in an application for one because she seemed like the smallest, but she had already been adopted. I put in our email that we were interested in any from the litter and then I stalked the website every day to see if the other three pups were still listed (and therefore, eligible for adoption). There was lots of waiting and follow up (it was Thanksgiving week and our application was somehow "lost" so I'm glad I did!) and when I was finally able to talk to their foster mom, I told her we wanted Pippi (FKA Freckle Nose) as our first choice but were still pretty open to the others. Andrew especially liked the only boy puppy. The foster mom told us she would be at an adoption event on Saturday and we should come meet her and the whole litter. So we planned to do so.

I was so ready to have a dog. We went out on Black Friday and got all the things we thought we would need or want for a puppy to bring home the next day. There were good sales and I like to be prepared!

We got to the event before the time we were asked to arrive and there were tons of people around the crate with that litter. The boy dog was already out of the crate and snuggling someone else, and then he peed on them and I was able to quickly say "nope, not the one for us." We took Pippi out of her crate and snuggled her and she was very cozy and licked Andrew's nose and was a good size and just overall, very puppy cute. I introduced myself to the foster mom and she told us and some others that there were a lot of applications for that litter and after that day and seeing who came and reviewing when applications came in, she would determine who could get each dog. And i was SO sad. I was ready to go home with a dog that day and I wanted to used car salesman her and be like, "what do we have to do to bring this puppy home today?" She just felt like she should be ours.

I was really bummed so I put her back in her crate and since there were a ton of people around talking to the foster mom and wanting to check out "our" pup, I told Andrew we should go inside the mall (the adoption was right outside) and run a few errands and maybe when we came out, we could chat with the foster mom some more. About 15 minutes later, the foster mom texted me saying she had wanted to chat with me more and I immediately texted back that we were still there, just running an errand inside, and could be right back. So we came back out and she said "You are first on the list for her, she is yours today if you want her!" So yes duh, we did. We had a long list of girl names in case we took the other girl in her litter, a few boy names in case we took the one Andrew wanted, and I had said from the beginning that if we took Freckle Nose, her name had to be Pippi and Andrew agreed, so that was easy enough.

Pippi and her siblings were found - no idea about the parents. They were bottle fed and had hookworm and all kinds of crazy ailments and she almost died. The tip of her tail fell off! But you wouldn't know it now, other than her size! She was 8.5 weeks and 5.5 lbs when we got her and we are guessing her birthday to be around October 1st.

I have no idea how to have a puppy. The first two nights, she cried in her pen next to our bed, but she is doing a lot better now. I was also waking up at 2am to take her out to the bathroom but that is no longer really necessary (yay!). We are working on house training (not TOO bad, honestly. most of her accidents are our fault). However, since I am always home, she does NOT like to be left alone. She will climb out of her puppy pen and chew cords (RIP Apple Watch charger) and make messes, so I am working to get her more comfortable there and leaving her in her pen, even if I'm home. She likes to chew which i know is a puppy thing and has a bit of a witching hour from 8pm - 10pm where she wants to nip, bark, growl, and act more aggressive than usual. Bauer can barely stand be in the same room as her unless he chooses to do so, and then he stares at her to rile her up. I miss him because he won't snuggle with us. I did have a bit of a meltdown over the weekend because between Christmas prep and having a puppy, my brain was just... tired. If I wasn't taking care of the dog, I was researching what to do to stop a certain behavior or reading about training or food and if I wasn't doing THAT, I was stressing about Christmas. It is hard and if it's 1/100th of what having a baby is like... man moms, y'all are fantastic. Pip is a total lap dog and more often than not, lays in my lap when I get down to play with her. She eats all things fuzzy and enjoys acorn tops and rocks as well as her numerous chew toys. She has learned to sit really, really well, so now we have to master some new tricks. It has been a tiring two weeks, I can't believe how much she has grown, and I still need to read all the training books but I'm excited to have her in the family!

(And yes, she has taken over my instagram account if you need more puppies in your life!)

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

political thoughts

I feel like five people read my blog but twitter is owned by bots and trolls so this feels like a safer space to say all the political things I want to tweet.

- George Zimmerman needs to take a seat.

- Mayor Pete, also, please stop. I am very sad about Kamala Harris. I hadn't looked into her TOO much (I haven't looked into anyone too much, the pool is too deep) but I much prefer her to Ben Wyatt.

- How is 45 still in office and is this hellscape presidency over yet? I heard family members supporting him over the holiday and really all they could say is he has done good things for their retirement accounts. I wanted to "OK Boomer" them but I may be too old for that?

- I didn't understand a single word of the impeachment hearings. I need a version of The Skimm that tries less hard. Does this exist?

- RBG, please make it at least til January 2021. AT LEAST. I know that date assumes a lot of things that are up in the air but it seems like an optimistic and realistic ask.

- NBC seems to have a huge HR problem among its ranks (see: Gabrielle Union, Matt Lauer, Ronan Farrow's entire book). You're a huge company. You can hire top talent to manage your "top talent" (in quotes because I watch none of their shows and am 100% an ABC watcher). Be better.

- I recently and with a bit of skepticism read Sisters First by Jenna and Barbara Bush. I wanted nonfiction that wasn't full of sadness but I was ready to DNF if it didn't grab my attention. I honestly, truly enjoyed it which I do feel conflicted about in some ways. But, they told really good stories and highlighted that they are not the same as their family members and they can love someone while disagreeing with them, even when what that person wants impacts the WHOLE country. It was very humanizing on what it must be like to play this weird part in history when you had no say in it at all (they even told their dad NOT to run!)

Surely I have more thoughts, but this works for now. I did terribly on blogging every weekday in November but hey, I think I posted more that  month than the rest of 2019 combined so I'll call it a win!

Friday, November 22, 2019

at present

How did I used to write five blog posts per week? Inspiration is tough and I get caught in trap A, of "have I already shared enough of that on Instagram?" or trap B, "who cares?" I was ready to be amazing this week, but I won the Dear Evan Hansen ticket lottery for Tuesday, needed to go to the gym Wednesday night, and then took Bauer to the vet and went to the gym again Thursday. No excuse, really, but going to the show messed with my plans.

I do like to steal from my friends' ideas so Bre's At Present is today's inspiration. We both have October birthdays but are different signs which if you know us, makes perfect sense. I'm not super into astrology, but trust me here.

So I turned 35 last month. It feels bigger than 34 since I am now firmly mid-30s and as close to my 20s as to my 40s. I also try to stop myself and think that aging is a privilege many don't get so while I am thinking about wrinkles and retirement savings, I do understand that I am fortunate to be able to do so. For some reason, it's a little easier when your spouse is a solid 3.5 years older than you are. I mean, I don't look at him and think he is old, which must mean I'm not old.

At Present, goals are working for me and motivating me to go to the gym and write blog posts and that's something.

At Present, I think more about what I need, what I can say no to, and think more on the Why of things. Why do I feel this way, how come I think I need to do that, what would make me feel better in this moment?

At Present, I strongly believe in the power of medication and therapy, and therapy check-ins, even if you think things are all good.

At Present, I live in athleisure. Bless whoever made it a thing. If I have to get out of sweatpants, leggings, and cozy, oversized sweaters to do a thing...I may not do it.

At Present, I want to push myself just a little. I joined a volunteer group with strangers and it isn't that bad. I may want to foster a dog in the new year. Maybe I'll set a fitness goal? Probably not, but I'll at least keep watching Veronica Mars on the treadmill.

At Present, I still love the idea of my bullet journal but rarely use it like I should.

At Present, I think working from home is the greatest but also wonder what career opportunities are out there and what it would take to make me commute, wear real clothes, and interact with humans again.

At Present, I am listening to the new Coldplay and wondering when they will tour again as they are one of the few bands still on my must-see live concert list.

Looking forward, I hope 35 is a year of appreciating what I have, trying new things, keeping up with things that serve me, more books, and a renewed ability in expressing myself clearly and in a way that I feel is interesting.

Monday, November 18, 2019

wrong to right

I think there is something to be said for knowing that something is "wrong" with you and also knowing how to fix it.

After a not-so-wonderful work trip last week and a plane ride back in which every tiny annoyance that could have happened actually happened, I was in A MOOD Friday. I had a doctor's appointment that morning that I was actually looking forward to - I was going to use half a sick day and ease myself back into things. But, as I was about to leave, the office called me and said the doctor was sick. So, I needed to work a full day.

So I worked on things that made me the least crabby. It didn't help. I was supposed to go to dinner with Andrew and his friend who was in town visiting that night and realized around 3ish that I didn't have it in me to listen to guys talk about BBQ and be "on" anymore. It just sounded exhausting. I bowed out, took a nap, watched some TV, went to the gym, and ate mac and cheese for dinner. And then some frozen custard. It was super simple but just what I NEEDED.

The next day, I pretty much felt like myself! I spent the morning being pretty lazy and listing things on Poshmark and then I met Sarah for three hours at Dirt Cheap. Dirt Cheap is a store in the south that gets a ton of Target merchandise - clearance, returns, damaged boxes, etc. - and sells it for, well, dirt cheap. It's like a garage sale or thrift store of new stuff. You have to dig. We did, and had good finds (I always post my shopping finds on IG stories if that is your thing). And then we grabbed dinner. Sarah is just such a positive person, and last week when I knew my week sucked but that we were going to hang out on Saturday, I texted her that I was looking forward to seeing her. Like, I knew she was the kind of person whose energy I needed which sounds kind of hokey but some people help you feel your most snarky and some people make you feel your happiest and she is definitely the latter. Which is ironic because she gave me a sweater that says "Don't" on it inspired by David on Schitt's Creek. It is SO soft and I wore it to buy a bottle of wine that night and I feel like people stayed out of my way.

On Sunday, between Bauer and Andrew forgetting his wallet and coming back home thirty minutes after leaving, I was up at 7:30 and decided to do things! This never happens. I spent about an hour in a brand new HEB, dropped off a meal at my friend's house who just had a baby, did some straightening in the house, and then ventured to the mall right at noon (when it opens on Sundays in Texas) to buy two get two free on Bath and Body Works candles and do some Christmas shopping. I can't believe there is only one more weekend before malls get fully unbearable and all shopping has to be done online. I went to my regular 4pm yoga class and almost lost it on two women who wanted to have a whispered conversation and all the people who come in late - especially 15 minutes after it starts. Who does that? This is a very quiet, chill class so people setting up is so distracting. Peak first world problems, for sure, but it happens every week. I came home and made roasted veggie grain bowls (a recipe I pinned after Kristen talked about it forever ago) for lunches this week and set up my bujo and talked to Andrew and his friend about their day.

Since I love when Steph does this, breakfasts for the week are Veggies Made Great apple cinnamon muffins, Kind bars, oatmeal, or a smoothie. Lunches are the aforementioned grain bowls, Thai salad, or leftovers. Andrew and his friend ate a lot of BBQ and bought/were given more than they could eat (including a ton of osso bucco?!?) so dinners are osso bucco with green beans and couscous, chili with leftover brisket, veggie quesadillas, and my attempt at chicken tikka masala in the crockpot with rice and peas (I just bought some sauce and I'm gonna throw it in with the chicken and then put some peas in at the end to defrost - not sure how this will work but seems easy?).

I am 99% sure I am going to add Monday and Tuesday to my time off request for next week so that means a week of work and then a week off and Christmas craziness is upon us. Let's go.

Friday, November 15, 2019


Well, I thought I scheduled a post for yesterday (Thursday) but apparently I had an idea for it and never wrote it, so I kind of failed on my goal. But! I shouldn't let that impact trying to post something for the remaining days.

I was in NYC for work like I mentioned and I think I have said it before, but I do not <heart> NY. Maybe it's because my office is in the financial district and there isn't much to do, or maybe it's because I have never visited on my own and with the means to fully enjoy myself. It could be a lot of reasons. But, the travel time, work time spent in a conference room having lots of conversations, team "fun," and the general disruption to my schedule has me extra crabby upon coming home. Especially because every minor annoyance that could happen to me on my way home happened. Like, none of it was major but it was all the things. I'm tired and in a funk and already warned my poor husband that the likelihood of me joining him and his friends for dinner tonight is slim to none. I think being "on" the past three days has me wanting to curl up on my couch even more than normal.

Some good things from the week:
1) No one in the middle seat on a long flight
2) Cold weather
3) Cheez Whiz fries. We were at a dive bar that prided itself on its Philly Cheesesteaks and my boss felt about those the same way I feel about the Texas Brisket tacos served with 1000 Island Dressing I saw on another menu, so someone ordered fries instead. I never eat Cheez Whiz so this was a weird treat and for whatever reason, hit the spot. And of course I couldn't stop thinking "Whatever, I'm getting cheese fries."
4) I asked one of my friends for a bluetooth shower speaker for my birthday and she got me this one and it's awesome. Since losing our dog, my podcast time has decreased since I did so much listening while walking him, so this gives me another way to listen. Or just listen to music. It is super unnecessary but I really like it.

Surely there are more but I'm hungry and that is all I can think about. More gratitude to come next week, I'm sure.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


I still keep a bullet journal, and I try to keep quick notes of what I am reading/watching/listening to. Here are some highlights in the latter two categories since I talked about books yesterday.


Schitt's Creek: Everything you have heard is true. I watched the first ep on a flight a long time ago and didn't love it so I gave up. Andrew suggested it, so I tried it again and wondered what was wrong with me. It is hilarious. The first season is a little uneven but then the second starts and you fall in love with each character. It's funny and never cliche and memorable. I heard Simply the Best in a store the other day and grinned like an idiot. I suggest it to everyone.

The Boys: Bre told me the premise of this show and I thought it sounded interesting even though I don't speak superhero. But it is its own superhero world and in this world, everyone knows about superheroes and they are highly marketed and tightly controlled. There is corruption and nothing is what it seems like. It's only eight episodes and it's on Amazon Prime. It's dark, sometimes funny, and consistently entertaining. The finale made me ask so many questions and I need season two...

Conan in Ghana: If you haven't watched any of the Conan [O'Brien] Without Borders specials, you need to do that. I love Conan and all of the specials are so good. He is so kind and inquisitive about different cultures and always makes himself the butt of the jokes or makes sure the people are in on whatever he is laughing at. Countries are always painted in a good light, but if there is a serious issue to address - like confronting the slave trade in Ghana - he doesn't avoid it. The Ghana ep came out last week and was really good. A lot of the older ones are on Netflix.

Listening To:

Office Ladies: You've likely heard of this podcast. It's hosted by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey who are real life BFFs and were also on The Office. I was a regular OfficeTally reader back in the day and I watched a lot of DVD extras so I know a lot of what they share, but not all of it. The podcast is... fine. I don't feel like the hosts are comfortable with the format. They repeat one another a lot, are trying to find a schtick, and talk over each other and their guests. I feel like it could get good but so far, it's just... fine.

EW's Binge (the Schitt's Creek season): Apparently the hosts of this podcast binge a thing and then talk about it. They did five episodes on Schitt's Creek (one for each season that has aired so far) that are fun to listen to if you watched the show. I laughed at some of the tidbits shared and when they reminded me of funny things, like Moira and David trying to cook enchiladas. Highly recommend if you like the show.

Amazon Prime Music: I was shamed by my friends for still having Pandora and I admit, some of my stations are a bit repetitive. I use Spotify on my work computer but never on mobile because I only have the free version and I don't even know if I can. So I listen to a lot of Prime Music. I mean they have all the Avett Brothers music and Lover by Taylor Swift and pretty much all the John Mayer I need. I'd love to find some better mixes or different artists on there, but hey, when I know exactly what I want to hear, especially if I am close enough to tell my Echo to play it, it's pretty perfect. Any suggestions on what to listen to or how to make it better, though?

Also on the list: Succession, The Good Place (though I am a bit behind!), Mr. Mercedes, Slow Burn Season 3 (about Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.), and still making my way through Veronica Mars...

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

memorable books from 2019 (so far)

So since I haven't been blogging, I haven't been showing you my books. But, I do make an effort to post each book I read in IG stories with the rating I gave it and a quick thought as to why. It helps me remember what I've read. I would make life easy and just talk about what I have read in October and November, but instead I want to share some thoughts I had on books this year.

Linking up with Steph and Jana, of course.

The Girl He Used to Know - No idea how this ended up on my TBR but it was cute and easy. Went between the past and the present, his POV and hers. Felt a little like a TJR but didn't quite capture life the way she does. Then, about 80% through the book, instead of showing the month and year the chapter took place in, like the whole book had done, the chapter started with September 10, 2001. And I was like oh crap, this is taking a 9/11 turn. The story needed some action to tie it all up, but I still don't feel comfortable with 9/11 as a fictional backdrop. I mean I can read WWII books. Maybe because it's my lifetime? I don't know. What do you think? (I did give the book four stars because I liked most of it... but I am still thinking of the 9/11 aspect.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill - I really liked this. Maybe it was the right book at the right time but she was awkward and anxious and there was a cat! It is one of my few, if only, five star books this year. I always worry about giving a book five stars. Like is it too much praise? And in hindsight, I wonder if it really deserved it. Whatever, my books, my rules.

Behold the Dreamers - I feel that a lot of people think "Mexican" when they hear the word "immigrant." Maybe it's just because I live in Texas. This is a story about a family of immigrants from Africa and trying to do the right thing and the complications of the US immigration system. I listened to it and that made me really get into the story. And then, a few weeks ago, I had a Lyft driver in Kansas City ask me if I had heard of his home country of Togo in Africa and I was able to say yes, and I told him about this book.

One Day in December - Kind of a ridiculous, this would never happen in real life romance but there is a little bit of Christmas spirit in it. I remember wishing I was reading it closer to the holidays. So, now I can tell you about it and maybe it will add a little bit of holiday spirit to your TBR.

Just a few books that I had a few things to say about. Interested to see what others are reading to get some ideas to finish out the year with. I think Andrew and I are going to drive to visit family at Christmas, so I would love to find an audiobook we would both enjoy...

Monday, November 11, 2019

a fall weekend

I wanted to write a good, old fashioned, weekend recap because sometimes, it's nice to have a slice of life to look back on.

On Friday, Andrew and I were both super hungry really early so I put on real clothes and felt cute and we went to have dinner at Candente, a Mexican restaurant run by a BBQ place. We sat at the bar because Happy Hour and had good margaritas and really, really good meat. Like, the fajita steak was fantastic. Then we came home and watched The Boys which I will probably say more about in a Currently post...

One of my friends loves birthdays - yours and hers - so she insisted we get together and do a thing for my birthday. I chose breakfast, so we had mimosas and food and caught up and then decided to go to the TJ Maxx in the parking lot. I have to go to NYC for work this week. Last time I was there in cold weather (February), it snowed and my very cute Loft booties were NOT up to the task of keeping me safe and warm on icy sidewalks. I had been looking for some affordable boots with traction and warmth. I was busy admiring some $50 Lucky leather booties that I DID NOT need (and I left behind!) when my friend showed me some Duck boots and I was like oh, those are cute... but they were a half size to a size smaller than my regular size and my friend said "They are J. Crew and $20, you are gonna shove your foot in!" Luckily no shoving was required and they fit and they were a total steal since the same boots in a new pattern are $200. I love that they aren't TOO much for Houston weather - I could wear them on a cold, wet day and not look too out of place.

I made a quick trip to a favorite thrift store on my way home (I got a $4 leather purse which you can see on my IG stories) and then Andrew and I both napped and then went to Target to look at Christmas decor and grabbed some groceries and then we finished The Boys.

Sunday, Bauer woke me up early and then I went back to bed until Andrew came home with warm donuts and kolaches. I did a few things around the house and then went back to Target for things I needed for our houseguest this week/to look at clearance and then to try to take advantage of really good sales at Kohl's and Michael's. I found garland I had been looking for on super sale, called that a win, and was tired of shopping. I went for a walk since the weather was amazing and then went to my favorite yoga class. Came home and had caramelized onion soup with bacon and blue cheese that Andrew made and it was wonderful. Then did more house stuff, got my bujo set up for the week, and started thinking about packing for my trip. I leave Tuesday, Andrew's friend arrives to stay with us on Thursday, I get home late Thursday night, and they are in and out doing BBQ things all next weekend, so we are ships passing this week. That's just the way it goes sometimes.

Friday, November 8, 2019

TGIF (a different acronym)

Brene Brown used to send out a weekly email with a TGIF theme. She stopped, but I am totally ripping that off.

Trusting that one day, it will be okay. We had to make the hard decision to put our sweet dog Duncan down this week. I still find myself looking for him or thinking that I haven't fed him, things like that. It's hard to say that I have one pet, a cat. I know time heals things like this, but that hasn't made this week any easier.

Grateful for messages and cookie deliveries from friends and family, leftover Halloween candy, a cold front, taking a midday walk to vote on Tuesday, lunch dates with friends, and Queer Eye.

Inspired by oh gosh this one is hard. Maybe I can't steal this. Let's say I was inspired by Brene Brown to write a post in this format.

Fun. My work team likes to send the blinking white guy meme to each other, and also the "this is fine" house on fire dog. I love that someone has made the dog into a stuffed animal. If you need a Christmas gift for your friend who can't get off twitter, this is a solid rec.

I have a lot of post writing this weekend because I am in NYC Tuesday - Thursday of next week with likely no free time! Expect an update on my screen time limits and honestly, I'm not sure what else. Week one of my goal is complete!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

what's new?

But really, what is new with me? I feel like October was a blur of travel and plans.

Part of what I do for work is interview people, and there are a lot of surveys involved over where you are willing to travel. I always say I will go to Atlanta since my sister-in-law and her adorable children live there and I would love a free trip... and in October, I actually got to go. The girls were nearly one and not quite two and-a-half at the time and they are SO fun. And funny. But also exhausting, I had a day off between my work commitment and it was great to just spend a day in their routine. I'm SO excited to experience Christmas with them this year!

I also had a week of working at a conference here in Houston which was fun (real people! Human interaction!) but man, traffic and real clothes suck. I have no idea how I will ever work in an office again.

Ohhh Bre and I also went to see Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach. I just enjoy them and their dynamic so much. The event was during an Astros game and we didn't think we would stay the whole time, but the event and programming were SO well done that neither of us wanted to leave. It's called Together Live and if you hear of it going to your city, you should check it out.

I also had an impromptu work trip come up to Kansas City. I was able to catch up with our old friends, David and Mandy, and meet their two sons. David and Andrew were friends in high school and they were in each other's weddings. They have also come to visit us a few times, and I know Mandy through the wonder of the internet, so anyway, it was great to be close enough to grab dinner. Also my work event was super stressful and a real test for me but it was mostly fine, so that gives me a nice boost for the next challenge coming my way. When I travel, I always make it a point to visit local coffee shops and PT's Coffee and Made in KC Cafe were both delightful and made me want to sit and work there all day.

My birthday fell on a Thursday this year, and after not being able to take it off due to work things for the past two years, I decided to make a plan-free, four-day weekend out of it. I've been on a huge thrifting kick lately, so I did a lot of that and took myself to one of my favorite coffee shops for a honey latte. The weather was beautiful over the weekend, so Andrew and I checked out an outdoor craft market and I bought myself a dainty L necklace that reminds me of one my grandparents gave me as a kid. We also went to Rosalie, a new restaurant, for dinner, and it was really cool inside and the food was good. And then I had bujo brunch and my favorite yoga class. Overall, a nice way to spend four days.

Things I want to remember:
- How exhausting and fun The Little Gym classes can be
- Psyching myself up to face a professional challenge
- A cool, fall-like birthday weekend
- The feeling of connecting with people who work for the same org I do - I always get so much from it
- The excitement in Houston when the Astros went to the World Series for the second time in three years (totally fine forgetting we lost, though...)

So, that was October 2019. Linking up with Kristen for What's New With You...

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

three things

I was feeling uninspired today and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I stole this idea and these topics from Steph.

Songs that make me think of high school
- No Such Thing by John Mayer
- Harder to Breathe by Maroon 5
- Carmina Burana. It's classical music that we played for marching band my sophomore year, but it's common enough to be in commercials and things.

Things I like to give
- Book recommendations
- Personalized gifts (not just picking off an Amazon list)
- A different way to approach a problem

Things I like to receive
- Specific compliments
- Baked goods
- Clear instructions if you want me to do something

Things I hate that many people like
- Pumpkin spice
- Hugs from people I don't know well
- Shrimp

Clothes I find uncomfortable
- Anything suede
- Ballet flats. I used to wear them all the time but now they feel too restrictive
- Strapless bras

Things I love seeing other people post
- Cat pictures (or videos)
- Relatable memes
- Snippets of daily life

Now pick a category and tell me three things about you.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

things that are worth buying

I don't want to be all about consumption, but there are things in life that you have to buy, so if I can share what has made my life easier or better in some way, I feel like I should. I'm trying to be conscious of my consumption, both in terms of having too much STUFF and in terms of environmental impact, but there are always things I think I want or need so I want to share them.

Reusable Make-Up Remover Pads - I used to use cotton with my micellar water but after seeing people talk about these resuable rounds, I decided to get some. These are larger than cotton rounds, SUPER soft on one side (and like a washcloth on the other), and come with a zippered bag to wash them in. I have a little canister on my bathroom cabinet to hold them and then I wash them with towels. They do stain from mascara but I know they're clean so <shrug>. But, they can't be used with dryer sheets, sooo...

Wool Dryer Balls - Honestly, I was mostly tired of finding dryer sheets EVERYWHERE. Tossed on my nightstand or the coffee table when I was folding laundry, somehow on the floor in the closet, stuck to blankets... so I kind of wanted them and then I ordered the make-up remover pads and NEEDED them and now I'm glad I have them. I add a few drops of essential oil to them if I want sheets to smell good and I don't really notice a difference between using these and dryer sheets.

Charisma Plush Blanket (from Costco) - It was time for a new mattress and we went from a Queen to a King. Of course we had to buy everything new and that included a new cozy blanket for winter months. This one was $12.99 at Costco (now on clearance for $11.97) and it is THE softest thing. Seriously, Bauer is obsessed with it - he will lay on our bed ALL DAY when it is on - and we love it too. You can't beat the price. It is a little fuzzy, but I don't mind. I also found it maintains its softness best when I dry it on low.

Scunci Ponytail Holders - I LOVE these. I bought a pack a year ago and then gifted them to friends who loved them, too. I did break a few, and they do stretch, so I just bought a second back. But, I think a year's worth of use out of a $4 pack of ponytail holders when I wear my hair up nearly daily is a great deal. These hold tightly, come out easily when you want them to, and don't crease.

An Unstuffy Laptop bag (good for a man or woman!) - Last Christmas, I challenged myself with finding a bag for Andrew's podcast stuff that was durable, not a backpack, not a briefcase, and not a full-on messenger bag with a flap. He didn't ask for one, per se, but I knew he would use it. I got him this one and he really likes it. It looks nice and professional enough if it needs to be, but isn't weird to bring into a BBQ place. And it has a ton of pockets and fits a lot of stuff. Thought I would share this one since men are hard to shop for - maybe it will help you.

More to come... surely I have bought more things that I want to share...

Monday, November 4, 2019

between now and 2020...

I want to...

- learn how to french braid my own hair
- practice handlettering at least once per week
- go to the gym 19 times (10x per month and I already went once in November)
- Post a blog post each weekday in November, even if it's a quick one, for NaBloPoMo2019
- figure out how to apply eyeliner
- reduce social media scrolling. My friend Michelle has been analyzing her own use here and after seeing her post, I set a limit on my own social time to an hour and 20 minutes per day. Let's not discuss where it was...
- do more things with my newfound free time, like the items on this list, or just keeping a neater house
- write down daily gratitude (thanks Bre for the push)
- do a facemask once a week
- close the rings on my Apple watch more days than not. Still trying to find a "happy place"with those, so send ideas if you've got them on how you set goals that are a stretch but possible.

Blogging isn't counting as social media and I am trying really hard not to cheat and scroll my regular sites on a computer or my kindle. When I hear people don't use instagram or twitter, I always ask what they do with their time. I guess I am going to try to find out.

And posting five times per week... who am I and what is this? What do you miss reading about in blogs? I don't even know if I can answer that for myself...

Monday, September 23, 2019


Houston has a tendency to get really worried about weather. I've lived here my whole life and I tend to know when to ignore it vs. when to pay attention. Post-Harvey, I try to at least pay a little attention - I mean, I make sure we have gas, some food on hand, and that I watch the news. Bare minimum attention.

So last week it was supposed to rain a lot but no one knew how much or how spread out it would be. Andrew works 30 miles from home so on Tuesday night, he set his alarm for a bit later on Wednesday since the weather was supposed to be bad that morning. That way, there would be enough info on the news for him to see if the roads were safe and give his company a little more time to cancel work, if needed. I want to say there was some rain, but nothing major, so he went to work and all was fine. He approached Thursday the same way... got up a few minutes late, checked on things, all was fine, so he went to work. It seemed that most of the rain had been in our part of town (northeast) and things were soggy, but not scary.

I want to say after he left, the decision was made to cancel school in the district we live in. But, Houston ISD was in, and most of the city lives and breathes by their schedule. If they send kids to school, it normally isn't that bad in the rest of the city.

I woke up at 7:00 that day. I had a Starbucks freebie and really, really wanted my first salted caramel mocha of the year. But it was raining pretty steadily and there was thunder and I decided it wasn't worth the tiny risk that I might get in a fender bender or anything. So I stayed home. I also normally judge Houston weather by if they go wall-to-wall coverage or if there is programming as usual. The local news went right into GMA, so I didn't worry much. 8:00 rolled around so I got to work. Around 9:00, I realized that it really hadn't gotten any lighter out since 7:00. Our power went out (luckily for only about 10 seconds, literally), and I could feel the thunder from my office on the second floor.

I had a work call coming up, but I ran downstairs to see how our street look. I didn't expect anything since our street had no flooding during Harvey but this time, the water was up over the curb and sidewalk and creeping into our yard. It was uncomfortably close to my car in the driveway. (Our cars are in the driveway because the garage is full of smokers and BBQ stuff, naturally). I put on rain gear and ran out to parallel park my car as well as I could in front of the garage door. Then I got on facebook to see reports on our neighborhood facebook page that others had similar amounts of water in their yards.

The rain stayed steady and started to move to the south, toward Andrew's office. His street floods in the slightest downpour but generally recedes pretty quickly. I had my call, he ran out to grab lunch, and it started to clear up at the house. The water receded a ton - the sidewalk was clear and the streets would have been fine to drive on. Unfortunately, a neighbor's two-door convertible parked in the street didn't make it. I walked down our cul-de-sac to the pedestrian bridge that leads to a major road and there was a river in front of me. If I looked to the left, I could see the surface of the road - it was like the area right in front of me dipped down enough to collect a lot of water. Cars were parked on the median (luckily it was a large, grassy median) from people who must have gotten stuck in the area unexpectedly. I saw a Mercedes in front of me. The wipers were going but I couldn't tell if there was someone in the car. A man was going around helping people and convinced the driver to reverse so that their car wouldn't continue to fill with water. I wanted to help, but I honestly didn't know what I could do.

I went home and tuned into twitter and local news, which by this point had gone to wall-to-wall local coverage. The rain that had been in my area was now covering the city and going over already-saturated ground. People wanted to get home before it got worse but streets had high water. Kids were at school and everyone was wholly unprepared. Around 1:30, the radar looked clear from Andrew's office to home so he decided to make the trip. I texted him "are you sure that's the best idea?" but everything looked fine - both roadways and weather - so he headed this way. I, of course, was a worried mess because we say "turn around, don't drown" here for a reason. Sometimes, the water just comes up fast.

I was kind of working but mostly watching the news when a highway intersection I knew he would pass came up. I saw cars getting by, one lane at a time, along the left shoulder. I texted Andrew to warn him to get over to the left when he got there and he was already there and it was slow. No big deal, I thought, people are getting by, and we knew this was going to take a while.

Then the news showed the traffic cam there again. I saw a truck with flashing lights and a school bus. A few minutes later, they showed it again. The truck with lights was blocking the only open path and the school bus had barely moved. No one was getting through. Of course, I texted Andrew to let him know. He said it was barely raining and figured it would recede enough to open soon. The news said that cars had started to float while trying to get through and people had to be rescued. So I reported that to him, too. He sat.

Nothing changed and no one moved. I saw on the news that people were getting over to the right, going UP an on ramp, and ending up... somewhere else? The ramp went up, so it presumably wasn't flooded but I didn't know what it was. Some freeway. I told Andrew this, and eventually, after he was able to make his way from the left to the right, he did that too. And then u-turned on the freeway and figured out how to get towards home. Thanks to facebook, I was able to report which path was clear and he got home, finally. Almost five hours after leaving.

Someone died at the spot where I get on the freeway pretty much any time I go outside my suburb. People whose homes just flooded in May were flooded again. A ton of people lost cars and kids were stuck at school since no one knew this was going to happen. We were caught off guard. This many 100 year floods aren't supposed to happen in the same few years. It was a weird, stressful day trying to check in on people and make sure everyone was safe, or could get to safety. It shouldn't be commonplace to call the Cajun Navy and see boats going down roads. But that's where we are at. I love this city, but it's exhausting, and none of it has ever been that bad for me. Yet. It seems like it is just a matter of time before I or someone close to me gets destroyed by this weather.

I wrote this long-winded post just to document the day and the feelings for me. Having your person on the roads is nervewracking. I trust him, but not other drivers, and not nature. I'm grateful for our safety and can only hope our luck continues through the next storms...

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

a schedule as self-care

For the longest time, I have blamed not blogging on many things, but often our ancient MacBook that made me want to throw it across the room every time I touched it. Only I am too weak to get it to go anywhere. It really is that old and heavy.

I wanted a chromebook because I have a laptop for work and just needed something to online shop on. I hate tablet and phone shopping. So I almost just bought one on Prime Day but Andrew's partner in all things BBQ works for a maker of technology and had said he could loan me one indefinitely, so here we are. If it's free, it's for me.

But back to the point of the story - I am now out of excuses and have to face the hard truth: I have forgotten how to write a blog post. Do I write a story? A list? Can I repeat things you may have already seen in instagram stories?

Not sure what the answer is here, but I guess I can share some things swirling in my head.

I've been thinking a lot about self-care and what it means to me vs. what it means to the internet. I feel like the internet equates it with facemasks and bubble baths, and cool if that works for you. What works for me - or at least, works lately - is being more intentional with my time and knowing where it goes. I don't really follow any of those financial gurus but I know part of their thing is to pay yourself first, and I am trying to do that with my time lately. I'm thinking about where my time goes and how I want to spend it. I opened a page in my journal and imagined how my time would be spent on an ideal work day. It was something like this:

7 - 8: Wake up, feed cat, do something I want to do or that will make my afternoon better (journal, scroll the internet, load the dishwasher, meal prep, walk the dog, watch GMA). The goal here is to get up and do something, not sleep until 8 a.m. and then roll out of bed and go upstairs to stop working.

8 - 4: Work. I work from home every day and usually just eat at my desk. Since this is an ideal day, I would get something personal done like a load of laundry, throwing food in the crockpot, making an appointment, or something else productive.

4 - 7:30: My goal in this 3.5 hours is to make and eat dinner, go to the gym, and walk the dog. This doesn't always work since sometimes I lay on the couch at Bauer's insistence when I'm done working and stay there way too long. Some dinners take forever to make after the gym and some days Andrew cooks and I end up with extra downtime. Stuff like that. But that's the goal.

7:30 - 10: Hangout time with Andrew, usually watching baseball or something on Netflix. Just regular evening downtime, but in reality this is when I usually do dishes, shower, and stuff like that.

10 - 11: Read in bed time. I need this time to wind down or else I can't sleep.

For whatever reason, seeing this written down has helped. I know where I want my gym window to be, and I look at the class times for the classes I want to take, and I try to choose dinner prep that fits in those windows. I try to force myself to get up and do something at 7 a.m. instead of lounging til 8:00. I have also found that I feel better if I moisturize, use some brow gel, and put on mascara in the mornings. It makes work calls where everyone shows up on video much less awkward. It also lets me know where I can do better or should do more. Like I should factor in some time for using my HeadSpace app or jotting something in my bullet journal each day. Having days that closely resemble my ideal days feel like an accomplishment now because I know I got all the things done I need to feel good. And I guess, that's my self-care.

As a whole, I'm trying to be more conscious of how I spend time. I joined a volunteer program because honestly, I have a lot of time that I spend doing nothing and I could use it for something better. I did my first volunteer shift over the weekend and really enjoyed myself. I'm creating a niche for myself at work to better account for my work time. My word of the year for 2018 (not a typo) was Intentional and though I am a little late, I think I'm really living into it now. Better late than never, I guess.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

thinking lately

A lot of things have just been rolling around in my head lately.

The best decisions are last minute decisions. Twice in 2019, I have waited until the last minute to buy concert tickets. First was for The Avett Brothers, who I have already seen... twice, at least? And we are seeing them again in Denver next month. But anyway, I started to have FOMO the day of their concert so I got on StubHub and got last minute e-tickets for less than face value. We were in the absolute last row, but it was a small venue, I got a seat, and the poster was an astronaut riding an armadillo so all was good. I mentioned to a friend that we should go to Dave Matthews Band together because Andrew didn't want to go and she and I went a few years ago. I was really loose with the tickets because I wanted a deal. And I have seen Dave quite a few times and didn't need to go again, but it's always a good time. So anyway, this too waited until the day of the show. I said if I didn't get tickets by 5pm, we just wouldn't go. StubHub tickets weren't getting cheaper, so I checked Ticketmaster and for some reason, some seats were marked down to the same cost as lawn seats. I had no idea this was a thing but I guess since the show wasn't sold out, it became one. So at 4:45 I got tickets, we went to the show, and had a great time. I think this is my thing now.

Thrifting. It really is a thing I like to do. For a while, I did it a lot and sold things on Poshmark, but I feel like that site is oversaturated with the brands I find (J. Crew, Banana Republic, Loft) so I guess now I can focus on me. Do I NEED clothes? No. But if it's $1.50 then yes. It also makes me feel better about consumption. I see so many people posting about Amazon and Walmart fashion lately and while I will never fully rid myself of cheap consumer goods, the prices on those things HAVE to mean that they are being made via the suffering of someone else. So, I guess the compromise that will work for me is to fill my closet with thrifted things and only buy new if I fall in love with something, or if it's something more challenging to thrift, like jeans.

TV. So much TV.  Lately I have watched:
- Brene Brown's A Call to Courage (Netflix). Watch it. Go. Change your thinking.
- The Society (Netflix). Modern teenager Lord of the Flies. Passed the time okay and intriguing enough to keep me going, but not a must-see.
- Dead To Me (Netflix). I liked this but I didn't love it. I liked the characters and would like to see them in a different setting.
- Sneaky Pete Season Three (Amazon). Kind of bummed they cancelled this one. Everything was pretty well resolved, but I think a few things would have changed had they known it was the last season.
- Killing Eve (S2). I think I liked it better than the first.

Spiked Seltzer. It is so refreshing. Some of it tastes beery, but some doesn't. I think it will be really easy to go overboard on, so I try to drink it in moderation.

I am now in the Hamilton cult. Saw it and loved it. Totally didn't get it from just hearing the music. If you think you might like it and you have the means to see it, GO. If not, I will respect that. If you are also a cult member, please send me all the most interesting things you have seen about the show or its music. I have about five years of fandom to catch up on.

We're going to Denver in a few weeks. Any recs? We're going to a concert and to see the Astros in town playing the Rockies but things to do downtown during the day would be great...

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

add it to my list: april 2019

Basically I just feel like sharing some things I bought lately and love or otherwise highly recommend.

MAC In Extreme Dimension 3D Lash Mascara - I was gifted a Birchbox for my birthday and a sample of this was in one of my first few boxes. I have short, straight, not very dark lashes and I can never find a mascara I love (Better Than Sex disagrees with my skin and makes me look like a raccoon within a few hours, sadly). I tried this and I love it and used some Ulta rewards to get it for not much more than drugstore mascara would cost. It doesn't work for many reviewers, but I like it a lot.

Fetch Rewards - For whatever reason, I stopped using Ibotta. Then I learned about Fetch Rewards and honestly, it is so easy - you get points just for scanning and it finds offers worth points FOR you - that I have used it ever since. Basically you scan all of your grocery receipts within 14 days of purchase for points which can be redeemed for gift cards at Amazon and other places. I always end up getting something at Target that could be purchased at a grocery store, so I scan those, too. I haven't redeemed anything yet, but honestly it's such a quick process that I don't mind if it adds up slowly. If you want to sign up, use my code WQ3KV for 2,000 points for both of us.

Mrs. Meyers Multi-Surface Cleaner Concentrate - Like many people, I like the scent of Mrs. Meyers over cleaners that smell more, well, cleaner-y. I was buying small bottles at around $3.50 each and when Andrew would do a pop-up or we would cook a big meal, we would go through them SO fast. I realized that they have concentrate that you can mix with water and do the same thing. A bottle of concentrate is $7 and lasts forever (at least, it seems like it so far). I got some glass spray bottles of Amazon and it is one less thing to recycle regularly or have to remember to buy.

Welch's Island Fruit fruit snacks - I got these on a whim at the grocery store and they are delicious. A nice change from your regular flavors if you like to mix things up, and a pretty low-calorie way to indulge your sweet tooth.

Archer and Olive notebooks - You know by now that I entered the world of bullet journaling. I started with a Leuchtturm 1917 dot grid notebook since that is where nearly everyone starts and it was really easy to impulse buy at the bookstore that hosted bujo class. It was fine - no complaints. But, at another class at Brazos Bookstore, someone brought up Archer and Olive notebooks. Someone bought one and I touched it and loved the floral covers and thick white paper. Then Bre got me one for my birthday but being the consummate saver-of-trees, I vowed to finish my LT before starting it. Well, I have two pages left in my LT and in the same of having all of the same month in one journal, I'm starting it this week. It is far more exciting than it should be. I started working on my future log and the paper's thickness and smoothness makes me want to write. I have the pink flower dot grid and it's so pretty.

I'm sure I want to share more things but stopping at five feels good. Let me know if there is something you have been loving lately...

Thursday, April 25, 2019

mealplanning strategy

I have never actively thought about mealplanning, but from the time Andrew and I started cohabitating (2007...), he was the "adult" and I came from my parents' house, so we did a lot of things his way and grocery shopping was one of them. Whereas my mom and her sisters and my grandma keep fully stocked pantries with canned goods, buy things on sale just because, and have extra freezers for meat, we figure out what we are going to eat for the week and buy that.

Before Pinterest, I was inadvertently mealplanning. Now that I eat three meals a day at home during the week, I try extra hard to mealplan. Few things are more annoying than the "there is nothing to eat in this entire house" feeling. And I was chatting with a friend about this and she liked my approach so I will share because, why not?

We generally eat dinner at home Sunday - Thursday. There are two of us. I don't eat shellfish, we rarely eat beef at home (Andrew gets enough of it with BBQ life and it is never my favorite), I don't cook pork, and we rarely eat fish since we both prefer it fresh and have to eat it the day we buy it and that is too much commitment. I don't like canned veggies and I will spend more on meat if it is easy to cook (ie, premade raw meatballs that I can pop in the oven, already marinated chicken...)

Andrew went to culinary school; I started doing more of the cooking since working from home. I'm afraid of undercooking meat, I have awful knife skills, and faster is better. I try to avoid too many convenience foods, a ton of carbs many nights in a row, and only ask Andrew to cook one weeknight per week since his workday is about 12 hours long, including the commute.

Okay, so onto the strategy - Step 1 - Pick a meal that can last for two nights. Cooking is dumb and I like to maximize my time. If the two night meal is something Andrew will cook, we normally have it on Sunday and then Tuesday. If I cook it, it can be any night, but normally it's Monday. Some two night meals that we go to are enchiladas, black bean soup, chili, harissa chicken (one night with cous cous, the next night over salad), stuffed shells, Chinese chicken, or Mediterranean bowls. If we want to have a "bun" food, like veggie burgers, we'll usually plan a second bun food, too. So there are 2/5 nights.

Step 2 - Pick something easy - There is always a night where we don't want to cook, but our "going out" options are limited (read: we are picky and don't like the suburban chains surrounding us) so having something super simple on hand saves many dinner debates. This can be a big salad with pre-shredded rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, salad and a frozen pizza, omelets, ravioli, Trader Joe's orange chicken with rice or frozen veggies, Trader Joe's frozen Indian meals with naan, or veggie quesadillas. I also grab quick options on Costco runs. I grabbed a gyro kit a few weeks ago that we both really liked, and it was a nice change. We're now at 3/5!

Step 3 - Try something new. Typically, this is a new recipe I want to try. Bonus points if it's enough for leftovers. I try to pin things on Pinterest, but occasionally something at the store will catch my eye. Trader Joe's has raw, pre-seasoned chicken in different flavors so that falls into this category. My grocery store also sells Hello Fresh kits, so if those are on sale, I will grab one. I use Skinnytaste and Iowa Girl Eats for recipes most often.

Step 4 - An old faithful and/or something Andrew will cook. A lot of things fit into both of these categories. I don't cook pork, or chicken on the stove. I can cook ground turkey, but I like it better when he does. In a normal week, I'll plan a meal in this category like tacos, lettuce wraps, a sheet pan meal (chicken sausage + veggies), pork and veggies, spaghetti and meatballs, things like that. And that's all 5 meals for the week!

Since I work from home, I also have to plan my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. Those are way less exciting. For breakfast, I love Siggi's Greek lemon yogurt. I keep those on hand, but some mornings I just want a Kind bar or some fruit. I also get Naked smoothies when I catch them on sale to get some extra fruit in. My lunches are most often an "adult lunchable" in which I take the kids concept of a lunchable - meat, cheese, and crackers - and then add carrots, cherry tomatoes and hummus or dip. By getting different meats, cheeses, or crackers each week and switching up the dips, I somehow don't get too bored of this. I'll also get a salad kit most weeks, so my lunches are two salads and three lunchables. I need to have SOME kind of option or I tend to get annoyed.

We do get into food ruts, and I try to write down things that I try or bookmark or pin recipes that are hits. I also follow Costco and Trader Joe's accounts on Instagram so I can see their new products and grab them if they look good. As far as a grocery budget, I don't really try to keep one since I know that if we don't eat at home, we will go out, and that is way more expensive and more calories so I figure anything from the store is a better choice.

Monday, April 15, 2019

currently consuming

If I ever joined a cult, it would be because Bre told me to. I don't know why but she has this ability to tell you about things, non-forcefully, and then you are like, yes, I must try or do that thing. See: bujo-ing and all the crap I have bought because of it. And watching I'm Sorry again. And Add It To My List. She is doing a "Last Week Tonight" post each week and of course it makes me want to share the things I like, too.

So here are consumables that I have been loving that don't cost extra money, assuming you have library access/streaming services/a way to listen to podcasts.

(I hate that I have to get so technical but surely someone will be like "well electricity to run my TV costs money so really that isn't free." I mean not a real someone, but the bitch eating crackers that I imagine in my head who loves to judge me. Anyway.)


This American Life - Beware the Jabberwock - I love TAL but some eps are better than others. This one totally fascinated me by telling me more about a name I have heard from twitter - Alex Jones - and how he came to be, and why he is so problematic. Like I could have told you before that he was awful, but now I can pinpoint exactly what he has done that was bad and speculate on how it came to be.

Conan O'Brien Needs A Friend - Pretty sure Bre rec'd this too but we share a love of good ole Coco. Even the ads on this are funny ("Conan O'Brien pays off the mortgage on his beach house..." complete with bird sounds in the background). Conan interviews celebrity guests to see if they could be friends but asks really entertaining questions and lets them shine without taking over. Also, his assistant Sona keeps him grounded in reality and calls him out in perfect ways. This one is great, especially the ep with Michelle Obama.


Superstore is a show I never expected to like. I don't love sitcoms. However, I was bored and a friend recommended this and I like America Ferrera so why not? This is a sitcom in a workplace with some unrequited love and long-running jokes, but it also brings light to illegal immigration status, maternity leave (or lack thereof), women's rights, and other issues without being too preachy. Plus it often makes me LOL.

Shrill had to make my list because I love Lindy West so much. But really, as someone who has never felt thin but is not plus-sized, I found SO MUCH of this show relatable, and I'm sure women of all sizes do, too. (The first scene where she is stuck in the shirt...). It is what Girls could have been if the characters weren't terrible. Was Annie always likeable? No. Did I like the last episode? No. Is the book better? Of course. But I loved so many parts of this show, including Annie's roommate, who was the BEST.

The new season of Queer Eye is so, so good. The one where they record the guy saying bad things about himself and play it back for him and then the one with the young, black, lesbian women were my favorites and both had things that I wanted to write down and nod my head to.


My favorite, Nora McInerny, wrote another memoir called No Happy Endings about life after her husband died of cancer. This time, we get to see her grief as she raises their son, falls in love again, and gets pregnant while getting two bonus kids from her now-husband. It's a lot, but if you truly like to see how another person navigates life, it is 1000% worth your time.

Allow me to be the 47th person to tell you to read Michelle Obama's book, Becoming. I really loved it.

I really liked Pachinko, which has been around a while, but if you haven't read it, I really recommend it. It is the story of one family, through generations, and with the backdrop of the Korean/Japanese conflict that I honestly knew nothing about. It really hits on the fact that so many emotions are universal, regardless of when or where they happen.

TL;DR - just consume all these things.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

what's new?

What's new with me is that I miss the connection of internet friends.

Also, recently, the idea of vulnerability keeps creeping up - in my work life, from Brene Brown on instagram, and from my therapist, which is what made me really listen.

(Lauren, you have a therapist? Yup - vulnerability in sharing, y'all).

I feel like those two are tied together - my fear of being vulnerable on the internet can make me, well, somewhat uninteresting. If I am not sharing my whole self, then what is left to read?

Anyway, like many others, I can wax poetic about the good days of blogging circa 2013 - no shade, I like to know I'm not alone - and I can also try to do something about it. So here I am, linking up with Kristen, and hoping some people who are just regular women with no intention of being an #influencer come around and read paragraphs and don't mind a lack of pictures.

So - what's new with me since I actually wrote a blog post with some feelings?

I'm working on being nicer to me. Did you see that episode of Queer Eye in season three where they recorded all the bad things the guy said about himself and then Karamo made him listen to it? That was SO resonant with me. I may not say them aloud, but how many times a day do I judge myself, or think that others will? How much negativity am I spreading internally? Whoa.

So that led me to writing down daily gratitude. Yes, I have scoffed at it before, so if that is you, I totally get it. But, it gives me a reason to visit my bullet journal daily and it can be as simple as how fantastic the perfectly ripe pineapple I just ate was. All it takes is one little thing.

On the life front, I am working to straddle the line between Instagram makes me want to buy everything and not being a mindless consumer. For example, if you listen to my Instagram stories, you know I have recently discovered this store called Dirt Cheap which has Target stuff at HUGE discounts. I will go in there and be like "hmmm, well, this vase is cute and SO CHEAP" and have it in my cart, but then think... why? Why do I need another vase? Is it sparking joy? Usually no - I usually get my joy in "things" from quirky knickknacks found in antique malls - and I am able to put it back. I mean yes, the thing is cheaper than my average Starbucks, but do I need MORE STUFF? Mostly, the answer is no. However, after living in our house four years, I am finally working to make some of our spaces more home-y and adult - a rug under our bed, finally hanging some art in the bathroom, and buying a concert poster with no idea where to hang it mostly because I was in love with it. (It's an Avett Brothers poster with an astronaut riding an armadillo and it was perfectly Houston. I had to.) I guess my personal line is that if it will make me feel a way - comforted, pull up a memory, etc - then I am more than willing to consume.

(But I also saw a tweet of a cartoon with the Marie Kondo landfills where the trash was up to the sky so I really am trying to be mindful of my footprint as a human.)
(The responses not to blame Marie for this are spot-on - WE are the ones to blame for having SO MUCH stuff. It isn't her fault for encouraging people to get rid of it. She didn't buy it for us)

And finally, vulnerability. I mentioned that before. I wrote the aforementioned paragraph and thought about how I would love to connect with some new, regular women who blog or read blogs, and how maybe they love to consume things and it brings them joy, and I wanted to rewrite everything I said. I don't want to hurt feelings. But I have to own what I think, try to articulate it, and accept when I'm wrong, or at least honor a difference of opinion. I have secretly wanted to be perfect in so many ways while trying to tell myself I didn't care what other people think for SO LONG, and it's exhausting. So, to put it all out there, and in the words of John Mayer, "just wanna be liked, just wanna be funny... looks like the joke's on me, so call me Captain Backfire." Not being my full self wasn't me enough, so it's a thing I'm looking to change. Trying to be more moderate and not piss people off worked in a way but was a disservice to me. I like to read real thoughts and feelings and see what everyone else is going through, but all I can control is what I put out there, and I am going to work to make that much more honest and vulnerable. 

SO anyway, if you are new here and made it through that, you might be my kind of people. I am much more likely to post on Instagram than keep blogging going, but if you like blogs, I already have half a post drafted which is more than I blogged all of last month. Cheers to working on you, reading about real people, and killing time on the internet.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

add it to my list, first of 2019

Bre wanted to write an add it to my list post on the same day but not do a link-up because one of our many traits in common is apathy to additional work, so here we are. Bre is also the enabler-in-chief so if she suggests I do something or buy something, I probably will. I consider it my implicit trust in her judgement (except for adult cartoons. I have to draw the line somewhere).

Anyway, to refresh your memory, Add It To My List came from the fact that I love telling people what to buy or consume in real life, so with this post, I can take that love onto the internet. So, here are some things I have enjoyed lately, broken down by things that cost nothing (and won't add to physical clutter for all of you who have Kondo'd recently), things that are really cheap (~$5), and things that cost a little more.

Things That Are Free:
Cold (podcast) - I guess I am fortunate to have not lived a hard life and to be able to listen to podcasts about difficult subjects. This one is about Susan Powell, a woman whose husband was suspected of her murder after she disappeared. There are so many weird, messed up details and many of the major people in the story kept diaries, plus there are police tape, so it is really well put-together listening. I'm not fully caught up and a few things drag, but I would recommend it if you like podcasts that focus on one case.

Believed (podcast) - This one is also hard to listen to, but I got sucked in while in my car solo on a four hour drive, so the eps just kept playing. It's about Larry Nassar. Nothing is sugar-coated, but it isn't exploited, either. There is enough info for you to CLEARLY understand that he was a criminal, but his acts aren't the focus; his survivors are.

So You Want to Talk About Race - putting this on the free list since I am all about libraries, but this one is worth your money. If you consider yourself a white ally but still have a hard time in conversations about affirmative action, or why there is no white history month, or other some such nonsense that you KNOW is ridiculous but you can't articulate why when approached with such ignorance, you need to read this book. Even if you know those things, or if you are a person of color, you would probably get something from it. I loved it. If nothing else, follow the author on twitter.

Things That Are Cheap
Homemade Medicine Balls! - Thanks to Leslie, I learned that you can make a Starbucks medicine ball at home. I was sick during the Christmas season and spent a small fortune on these at Starbucks. No idea if they actually work, but they taste good and make a nice work-time treat. For the uninitiated, it's a combo of boiling water and lemonade with peach tranquility tea and jade citrus mint tea, plus a touch of honey. Fifteen tea bags are around $5 and you can get them at Target, so the start-up cost to make these is higher than $5 but they save money in the longrun.

Face mask spatula - Bre told me this existed and I went to buy it that day. If you have facemasks that are in large tubes for multiple uses, these are amazing! It helps you apply the mask evenly, keeps your hands cleaner, and honestly just feels fancier. I got mine at Walmart for like, $2 but this Target one came up first on google.

Things That Are Less Cheap
Buying used - I bought a dresser from Joss & Main or Wayfair or something like that last year. I hated assembling it, and only two of the six drawers work correctly. I got some barstools that needed assembly from Target for Christmas. One of them is a bit wobbly. I realized I don't have this problem when I buy pre-loved furniture from my beloved antique malls. I got a lovely 1940s kitchen cabinet this weekend, no assembly required, plus I love that it was previously-loved and better for the Earth.

Stickers - So in #bujo/planner world, there is this company called The Happy Planner and they put out sticker books that are like, $20 each before coupons. Every few months, there is a new release and "planner girls" (yes, this is a thing) swarm Michael's/Hobby Lobby/JoAnn to get the latest stuff because sometimes, the best books disappear, never to be found again. Instagram FOMO is real. So this release happened and the Instagram flip-throughs were everywhere and there were two stickers books I needed. Picture me, at Hobby Lobby at 10 a.m., digging through boxes of not-yet-out merchandise to find my two books, and then asking my planner friends on facebook if anyone needs anything. While I was waiting for my answer, two more ladies came down the aisle and stopped at the empty pegs where the stickers should have been and seemed disappointed. I pointed them to the boxes to dig through and their morning was made. I never expected to bond with strangers over stickers as a grown woman, but here we are. The point here is if something dumb makes you happy, just get it... (and if you want to see how I use them, @brunchandbujo on instagram).

Carry-on Luggage with spinner wheels - I travel solo pretty frequently and can't expense a checked bag unless it's a long trip (nor do I want to anymore). I have a leather tote I use for my laptop and purse essentials, and then I make my way through the airport with my carry-on. I used to have a cheap one that I thought was fine - my bag could get pulled behind me, no big deal. But, I upgraded once I started traveling for work and being able to keep my bag upright in front of me with my laptop bag on top seems to weirdly simplify everything. I move down the plane aisle better, I can navigate through crowded airports faster, and it just feels easier. I got Andrew and I each a Samsonite at Ross for around $60, which is baggage fees for one round-trip flight, so definitely worth the money if you can pack light!

Houston restaurants that should be on your list: Morningstar (pancake balls!), Indianola (get the ham appetizer, and I don't even like ham), and Theodore Rex (it makes me happy every single trip).

That's my list lately - or at least, things I haven't already shared on instagram.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

languages I don't speak

Not real languages. If you take this literally, than everything but English would be on this list. Spanish would get an asterisk. I can at least kind of understand and read that.

I'm talking more about pop culture languages. Things that other people slip into conversation and make reference to and others just get it while you smile and nod. Rent Live was all over my twitter feed the other night, and in the nicest way possible, I just didn't care. I mean I'm sure it's great and I know it was groundbreaking but I don't speak Broadway. I saw Wicked in NYC and Avenue Q when it came here and that's it. I didn't grow up with showtunes, wasn't a theatre kid, and it's just a whole world that exists that I don't understand.

Some other "languages" I don't speak:

Game of Thrones (all the white guys look the same, and the incest. I couldn't get into it)

Superheroes (Marvel? The other one? Crossovers? I know Batman, Superman, and Spiderman. And that I should see Black Panther. That's it.)

Current Pop Music (I'm not in the car long enough to hear it and I guess it doesn't matter enough for me to find it on YouTube? I know Cardi B says "Okurrrt" but that's about it.)

Candy Crush (Lives? Levels? I have never played it!)

Piano (Okay, not really a language but a lot of kids played growing up and know the basics. I can tap out Mary Had A Little Lamb for ya...)

Lord of the Rings (??? There is that weird thing with the rings and Gandalf?)

Star Wars/Trek (Never saw any of them. I get the ships mixed up. I know Trek is pointy ears and Scotty and the main characters of Wars but please do not reference the plots as I will be lost.)

What are some things you know nothing about, or "languages" you don't speak. I have a friend who doesn't speak Harry Potter which I at least learned long ago and can usually reference quite well.

OH and Bre and I are going to do Add It To My List, just as a post, not as a link-up, the last Tuesday in February so put that in your bujo and prepare!

Monday, January 14, 2019

consider this a long, verbose instagram story

Sign me up alongside the loooong list of bloggers who have abandoned daily trips into the lives of others for one reason or another. Blame time, blame instagram stories, blame laziness. All are accurate.

I started bullet journaling in summer of 2017 and have done it off-and-on but mostly on ever since. I have a separate instagram account for it (@brunchandbujo) because grown women posting about pens and stickers is fun for me, as is having an excuse to get together with girlfriends over brunch to ooh and aah over each other's pens and stickers and also meet people I wouldn't know otherwise. If you need something that makes you feel marginally crafty and can document whatever you need to document, I recommend it.

But that was my really long way to say that bullet journaling a) documents how I spend my time and b) provides me with social time I was looking for in blog life. So, there's that.

I can't believe that I've been at my current job and have worked from home for two years in a few weeks. No traffic, no real clothes, no coworkers (what is with me and this sentence formatting? I guess in not blogging, I have also forgotten how to write). But it's been two years of growing professionally and personally and improving my confidence in ways I didn't know I needed. Not all days are good but a lot of them are and I am truly grateful for my professional life more often than not.

Through work, I'm doing an Identity Development... thing. Like, working at a progressive non-profit, race, class, and privilege are something that are common in conversation. I check in-person programming for representation and took "ladies and gentlemen" out of a program today for non-binary inclusion. So, in that work, I am reading a book on race in the classroom (Courageous Conversations About Race, if you're interested, which I have thoughts on) and having near weekly conversations about it with my small group. And from that, I want to hear more voices not like my own. I'm trying to listen to podcasts by or about people not like me, and read books by people who don't look like me. Even fiction with Asian American characters counts. But anyway, it was an opportunity that was presented to me and I wanted to say no because it's extra work but I said yes and I am glad I did.

Um, so what else? I do miss talking books which I decided to highlight on Instagram stories because a simple sentence and screenshot is easier than coherent thoughts, which is honestly the opposite of the point of reading. TV is still my first love but finding shows to watch alongside my husband is a chore. I am watching season three of True Detective with him now, which is interesting, and our old standby Top Chef. We're watching Succession on HBO but I don't love it. I like Kieran Culkin's character enough to keep coming back, though. Halt and Catch Fire and The Americans were my favorite TV moments of 2018, I think, so those are my current recs. Maybe I should do an entertainment post once a month like Bre does because it is fun.

I also miss adding thing to my list. 2018 was the year of skincare for me. Like, moisturizing more days than not and finding value in undereye cream. I am also on the jade roller bandwagon simple because it feels good and it was $15 and that is all I need to know. A friend gifted me Birchbox for my birthday and it's a great $10 per month if you have it to spare on a little surprise for yourself. I store my samples in a caboodle (they're back, y'all) and make sure I use something from it at least once a week, whether it's MAC mascara when I am going out or a facemask at night. And I track that in my bullet journal as self-care. It's all cyclical, y'all.

Hmmm, what else? Drinks. Those feel important. I finally acquired a taste for La Croix after many years of trying. Andrew and I have been drinking hot tea at night instead of dessert as the caffeine doesn't impact either of us and I like that, too, after a lifetime of being a tea hater unless I was sick. And I got a Nespresso for Christmas and it's life-changing and delicious, albeit totally unnecessary. But, it saves me from cleaning the coffee maker and "having" to go to Starbucks. So needless to say, I am starting 2019 super hydrated, if nothing else.

In 2018, I tried to focus on being intentional and I want to carry that into 2019. I'm not doing the best with friendships and relationships, so that is a place to start. Reaching out and making plans, asking questions, and being there. Blogging at least quarterly to justify a part of paying to keep my custom URL and use the hashtag houstonblogger on instagram should be on that list, too. Cheers to my best intentions.