Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I came home this afternoon with the best of intentions to go work out.  I'd intended to hit the gym yesterday after work, too, but a chaotic and frustrating afternoon just took the wind out of my sails and I accidentally fell asleep.  For two hours.  And still went to bed on time and fell right to sleep.  Apparently I've reverted back to infancy sleep patterns.  Anyway, I got home and immediately grabbed my work out attire, only to realize that ALL of my sports bras were in the washing machine waiting to move into the dryer.  I don't prefer to work out in regular bras so the gym didn't happen.

What's a girl to do instead?  Dust, vacuum, finish laundry, make dinner, and make a surprise treat for her husband!  Except it's not really that much of a surprise.  I recently became addicted to Pinterest and L perused some of my food-related pins and told me what he thought looked and sounded good.  What did I make?

That would be a salted caramel brownie bite (find the recipe here).  Except I haven't made the icing yet and honestly, I'm a bit on the fence about it.  The brownie bites on their own are rich enough and the icing recipe has enough butter and sugar to cause a heart attack.  Plus, L is not always a huge fan o' icing.  Or cupcakes.  And with the frosting, it becomes more of a cupcake than a brownie bite.

If you're now inspired to make these, here are some tips.  I read the comments on that page AFTER I'd bought my Kraft caramels and it was too late to turn back.  I decided to soften them up by unwrapping them all, placing them on a plate, and microwaving on 50% power in increments of 30 seconds (one scorched and the rest were all fine, but for the record, you would probably be fine throwing them in for a total of 45 seconds).  There's no temperature listed, so I baked mine at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Mine were fine, not crispy like that first comment, but maybe that person's oven runs hot (I have an oven thermometer in mine and it was actually 350 degrees on that rack.  Take that for what it's worth).  Happy eating!  Oh and be glad that these are just brownie BITES.  You don't need more than one at a time to satiate a craving.  Oh and one more thing!  Mini muffin cups are surprisingly challenging to find in the summer (apparently they are seasonal??).  I ultimately found Wilton brand ones at Target.  They aren't my favorite- they are INCREDIBLY hard to separate- but they get the job done.

NOW LET'S REWIND AND GO BACK TO THAT PART WHERE I MENTIONED PINTEREST!  If you are not pinning, you are missing out.  I'm a visual person.  Working in my current job has only exacerbated this.  Pinterest is a total feast for the eyes!  I love seeing what my friends have pinned and what's popped up on the "everything" board.  As a Harry Potter fan, this was my favorite pin from yesterday:

I applaud that particular prankster's creativity.  And maybe it's fake, but it still made me laugh.  I encourage EVERYONE to join Pinterest.  It's easy and fun and just a little corner of happiness on the internet because everyone pins things they like!  You do need an invitation so if you want one, just ask.  Happy pinning!

It's my air-o-plane

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Our flights to and from our recent travels were not my favorite things.  We flew out of Baltimore and the older woman sitting in the row behind me and L felt it necessary to hum randomly from the time she was seated until we were safely in the air.  If she'd been humming an actual song, this might not have been so annoying because then at least I could sing along in my head, but I would equate this to a little kid humming away while coloring: no rhyme or reason to the tune, just something to do.  This woman was definitely a nervous flyer and humming was her nervous tick.  Once L and I focused in on the humming, we couldn't not hearing it.  She finally put a cork in it when we were safely in the air and her husband told her we were safely on our way to heaven.  That's the part that really had me wondering.  To me, heaven means death.  I found his wording very strange for someone who is clearly nervous about flying, but whatever.  It silenced her, which was all L and I cared about.

Other than that, our flights to NO were just fine.  We had a layover in Dallas and the flight from Dallas to NO was probably the best flight I've been on in a long time- super smooth take-off and landing and not one hint of turbulence the entire time.

Our flight from New Orleans to Dallas was mysteriously cancelled, so American put us on a flight that left 3 hours later.  We were annoyed at first, but it gave us more time to gamble and as previously disclosed, L did very well, so we ended up happy about that.   L, Nolly, Flad and I were hanging out in a bar at the airport and who did we see three seats down? 

Yes, that would be Kyan from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.  My picture is from a terrible angle, though, so you can't really tell.  Here's Nolly's pic:

Better, right?  Right.  Anyway, we got seats in the bulk head row (loved the extra room!) but not together, so I got to sit in between two larger gentlemen,  But they were very nice.  After three months of reading (I wasn't terribly diligent), I finally finished Gone With the Wind on that flight and I was so sad for it to end.  Yes, it's long (my copy is just shy of 1100 pages, but some copies have text that's laid out differently so they have fewer pages), but it is SO WORTH THE READ if you are ever looking for a good book.

The flight home... wow.  L has priority status so we boarded with the special groups that get to board first and then waited for everyone else to take their seats.  Then we hung out and waited.  It was hot in Dallas that day and in an effort to keep the plane cool, all the shades were drawn.  After waiting for a good 15 minutes for the plane to back out, the pilot announced that the crew that had flown in on the previous flight had had  problems with the auto-pilot, so the computer was being replaced.  We had the option to de-plane if we didn't think we'd be comfortable in the plane for an extended period of time without air conditioning (and he nicely informed us that he expected the interior temperature of plane to reach the 90s or possibly go as high as 100 degrees- awesome).  So then we all start getting prepared to de-plane.  And of course people can't be courteous about this.  We were on row 10 and people from the back of the plane were barreling down the aisle like the plane was on fire.  This gave us both a good idea of how people would behave if there was ever a real emergency on a plane.  FYI- it'll be every man for himself.  Don't wait for someone to let you out of your seat; apparently manners won't matter. 

Anyway, the plane was finally repaired and cooled about 3 hours later.  We re-boarded, and, just like before, we sat and waited for the plane to pull away from the terminal, and just like before, it didn't happen.  Also just like before: the shades were still drawn shut to keep the internal temperature down.  I'm not a bad flyer.  A long, long time ago, I used to be mildly concerned about take-offs (I didn't understand how the back of the plane didn't slam into the ground), but I got over it several years ago.  About 2-3 years ago, I discovered that what will make me lose it on a plane is if I'm on a plane too long and I can't see out a window.  I have no idea what to call that.  I've been on flights that I knew were close to landing and felt nauseous and light-headed for this very reason (we were sitting on a weird aisle that didn't have a window next to us).  I've had a fainting issue since about second grade, but I can usually stop it from happening if I can get cold air, cold water, or lay down.  I came very close to losing it as we sat there on this plane, just waiting to pull away from the gate (apparently our ground crew was off helping other flights because we were already supposed to be airborne).  I definitely started imagining (hallucinating?) that the plane was pulling back, except it wasn't moving at all.  And then once it was moving, I was very disoriented and couldn't tell if were going forward or backward.  This is not a good, sane feeling.  Luckily, ginger ale helped calm my stomach and made my head level out and the rest of the flight was very smooth. 

We landed, took the Metro to Rosslyn, and then grabbed a cab for the rest of the way because we didn't care to wait 18 minutes for the next train.  We got home and discovered that some kind of storm (described to us by our landlord as, "a strange weather phenomenon similar to a tornado, except not") had hit our street while we were gone.  Our house was fine, just missing a couple shingles on one side of the roof (literally, just a couple) and a bush in the backyard was no more, but this is what the rest of the street looked like:

That's the house across the street from us.  There were piles up and down the street in front of every. single. house. just like that.

Our next door neighbor's house.  I have no idea how they got those tree trunk pieces to the street because they were HUGE.  I'm guessing a crane or some sort of heavy machinery was involved.

These trucks came and picked up everything on Tuesday afternoon:

Kind of crazy, right??  I miss Texas thunderstorms, but I'm not sad I missed the storm that did all this. 

These are a few of my favorite things

Monday, July 18, 2011

Two of my favorite things about visiting my parents (aside from the two of them) are Boomer

(who got his teeth cleaned on Friday - doxies have penchants for plaque and tartar build up when they get older- and was just diagnosed with having high blood pressure!  Yikes!  But all is well; he's on meds for the short term until it's under control.  Also, in case you can't tell, he's totally eyeing that pillow and thinking, "I'd really like to French you."  The pup has a love for upholstery.  And blankets.  And Kleenex.  And, of late, the kitchen trash can.)

and the Nespresso milk steamer my sister and I gave my mom for Christmas this past year.

 You have no idea how hard it was to take that pic and not have me showing up in the reflection.  I'm definitely hiding behind the counter.

Nespresso is amazing.  There are no words.  You may be wondering what makes it so great and why anyone needs this product. I don't really know what makes it so great, other than I love what it does to my coffee.  Probably no one really needs this product, but it's a perfect gift if you have parents like mine who can afford all the things they need and pretty much take care of their wants on their own, too, which leaves you and your sibling(s) wondering what the deuce to get them when their birthdays and Christmas roll around.  For the record, this is a terrible gift for people who take their coffee black.  But if you know a coffee with milk person, this is great.  What exactly does it do?  ALLOW ME TO SHOW YOU IN A SERIES OF HORRIBLY-LIT PICTURES!

You've seen the outside of it.  This is the inside, with the frother piece inside (there's a different fitting that doesn't have the spiral coil if you just want warmed milk for an amazing cafe au lait or other heated milk beverage):

See those markings on the back wall?  You're supposed to use those as guidelines for how much milk to pour in.  I sometimes use those and other times don't.  You probably should follow the guidelines, but for one person, that makes more than you need.   Just go with your gut and fill 'er up.

Put the lid on and press the button on the front.

The button will turn red, which means magic is happening.

After about 20 seconds (if that), your milk will be nice and warm and foamy.

Grab your favorite mug (if you are at my parents' house, it will likely be one of these Clementine Hunter mugs or Royal Doulton Tapestry because THOSE ARE FOR BREAKFAST! and if you've met my mom, you've heard her speak and there's no denying she's Southern so of course there are special dishes for breakfast, or if it's Christmas, you'll receive your coffee in Spode Christmas Tree mugs because why would there not be Christmas china if we have breakfast china?), fill it with coffee, and top it with your milk.  It tastes like pure indulgence.

So if you are a coffee drinker or know someone who is, go buy a Nespresso milk frother thingy.  It's on my list of wants but it makes waking up at Mom and Dad's so much more fun knowing that I get to have fancy milk!  I only wish they'd had it while I was crashing with them pre-wedding. 

Going to the chapel and we're gonna get maaaaaaarried

Sunday, July 17, 2011

After all fun in New Orleans, we headed to Dallas for the wedding for one of my long-time bffs, K.  Who is now K-squared.  We spent time with L's family before migrating to my parents' house on Friday.  The bridesmaids were all treated to a fabulous bridesmaids' luncheon at The Zodiac Room at the Northpark Neiman Marcus.  If you've never been, it's such a fun treat to go.  It's a great place to take your mom or best friends and it always feels like you're truly indulging yourself. 

The pretty flowers on the table:

I love peonies.  These flowers made me happy.  Our lunch was a salad trio

and of course the infamous popovers with strawberry butter, which I forgot to snap a picture of, and dessert was a trio of sorbets (mango, strawberry, and lemon-lime) that were AMAZING.  And I neglected to snap a shot of those, too.  But rest assured, they were so delicious. 

After that, K's mom took us all to get manicures and pedicures.  Let me tell you, after walking around New Orleans for 5 days, my feet totally needed it.  I felt bad for my manicurist.  I always wonder if manicurists judge people based on how gross they are.  I feel pretty certain they do.  But we all left with pretty hands and feet, so mission accomplished; no more HEB feet for me!

I have zero good shots from the rehearsal dinner to share.  Rest assured that a good time was had by all.  We had lots of good food and lots of toasts about the bride and groom were given.  The groom is a baseball trainer at a local high school and gave all the ushers, groomsmen, and important men in his life personalized Louisville sluggers as their gifts, which was pretty cool.  Justin Bieber was also there and I wish I'd gotten a pic (okay it wasn't REALLY him, but I swear to you, this kid looked just like J. Biebs.  At least, to me and L.  And Mr. and Mrs. FBI).

Saturday was a day spent beautifying ourselves.  This special guy has made the rounds at several weddings for the girls in our group:

His name is Tito.  Oddly, we've all had Mexican-themed rehearsal dinners, so it's worked quite well.  And yes, he was filled with candy.

Here's the bride's dress:

And the front:

Beautiful, yes??  I assure you, she was one pretty lady.  Our bouquets were so pretty and smelled so good.

More peonies.  Totally up my alley. 

That's about the last of the pictures I have to share.  Somehow I never saw the cakes, so I didn't get any pics of that, and the cakes were cut while everyone was still eating, so we all missed out on that one.  But they were yummy!  We had a great time and we all danced til the very end.  One of my favorite parts: watching BKW dance his heart out all night, but especially when he knew the entire Cupid Shuffle dance and other people were watching him to learn it.  Hilarious!  Apparently his Kinect is paying off.  Kind of makes me want to get one.

She moves her body like a cyclone

Thursday, July 14, 2011

And now, a public service announcement: milk does a body good.

Mr. Man drinking milk at Cafe du Monde

Hurricanes, hand grenades, and cyclones (basically all of Pat O's signature beverages) do not.

Instead of hurricanes, we all decided to try sipping on cyclones while we sang along with the pianos on the 4th of July.  You know, because the sugar explosion would be lesser than with hurricanes.  Or something.  Not everyone woke up feeling fancy and free the next morning.  Spring chickens we are no longer.

Take me back to New Orleans

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Now begins the part of the trip where I entered a photo void for basically 3 days. Sorry. I tried.  I even packed my camera charger and my uplink cord so that I could upload pictures during my trip (I had to bring my computer with me for a work thing and also so that my father-in-law could fix something.  It's such a pain to travel with a computer to two different states, especially if it's a desktop.  Haha!  Just kidding, it's really a laptop.) but I managed to leave my leave my camera at home.  I'm so prepared.  That meant all pictures would be captured by my phone's camera, which is okay but not nearly as good as my real camera.  Anyway, here's the one pic I managed to capture of our hotel:

What are you missing? Well, photos of August, where we ate dinner on Sunday night, and the delicious food we ate. Nolly and I happened to sit next to each other and we ordered the exact same thing, except I probably had the better seat because I had a full view of this guy sitting at the table next to us:

Nolly’s and my meals consisted of the gnocchi (recently featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate), softshell crab, and we split a trio of ice creams (salted caramel, honey, and chocolate flavors, and for the record, that’s probably the order I’d rank them in) for our dessert. Everything was outstanding but if you ever have the opportunity to try the salted caramel ice cream there, for goodness’ sake, DO IT. (The same goes for the pineapple sorbet at Cedar in D.C. It’s like a pineapple froze while on the tree and then fell off directly into your mouth.) Then we went to The Columns hotel for cocktails and then to The Delachaise for more cocktails. There are zero pictures of this, as previously stated. I did have a girl loudly tell me, “Hurry it up, bitch!” at me while I was using the restroom at The Delachaise. That was lovely and so welcoming of her. She knocked on the door while I was washing my hands and I said, “Just a second!” and then she waiting literally A second before her rooting began. I don’t think she expected me to open the door literally one second after she finished giving me bathroom encouragement. The look on her face was pretty priceless, though, and I will give her credit for lamely trying to cover by telling me she liked my dress. It wasn’t sincere, though. Boo on her.

Not many other tales to tell. It was ridiculously hard to make reservations for Sunday and Monday because of the 4th of July (lots of places took the day OR WEEK off) and, no lie, because of the Essence Festival. Seriously, some places close up for the duration of the Essence Festival because they don’t want to serve the attendees. I was shocked when our friends told us that on Saturday. It’s literally like time warping back to the ‘50s. We ended up taking the suggestion of the bartender at our pool and going to dinner at a place called Snug Harbor on Monday night (very tasty, except for the death punch that Fick ordered TWO of. In his defense, he wanted to souvenir cups and he walked away a very happy man). After that, we walked back to the Quarter and watched the fireworks show on the bank of the river. Then we killed the rest of the night between Pat O’s piano bar and waiting for L to dazzle us at Cat’s Meow (unfortunately for the entire bar, there was no dazzling. Someone else had just signed up to sing L’s signature song, Humpty Dance so L was relegated to singing Keep Your Hands to Yourself by Georgia Satellites, and that's just not a good fit for the venue).

Dinner Tuesday was at Delmonico and sadly, it wasn't nearly as life-changing this time around.  Still good, but not earth shattering.  But it's also hard to really enjoy and savor your meal when your husband does not feel right as the rain.  Our traveling companions all went to NOLA that night for dinner and apparently their meal was to die for, so at least there's that. 

Wednesday morning, we got up and were determined to make the most of our last day in New Orleans which included my goal to take more pictures.  We headed over to Cafe du Monde and partook in the usual beignets and cafe au lait and then it was off to the French market.  Yes, it's touristy, but we were tourists!  And I hadn't been since I was a kid.  The good news is that if you're in New Orleans and you forget your cell phone charger, you can probably find another one on the cheap at the French Market.

After that, we stopped and explored Katrina exhibit at the Louisiana State Museum.  It's definitely worth a visit; we both really enjoyed it, at least as much as you can enjoy something that is about massive destruction and human suffering.  We got a lot out of it.  The whole thing is very well done and moving.  I have a thing about taking pictures of museums or memorials so this is the only pic I have of it; it's the ceiling when you walk into the building.  The bottles represent lives lost (I think- might have been lives impacted, but either way, this whole piece covered the entire ceiling of the room) and inside each bottle is a letter.  Each letter represents all the things that Louisiana and her impacted residents were in need of in following Katrina.  The blue glass hands hanging down represent those who gave aide in various ways.  Incredibly moving.

It was pouring outside when we finished the Katrina exhibit (the irony of which was not lost on us) so we headed upstairs to check out the Mardi Gras exhibit.  I'd seen it before (or a similar version of it) a long time ago, but the revamped bathrooms were new to me.

Hilarious!  They look like Port-o-Potties but behind the Men and Women doors, there were normal restrooms.  Very creative and helped make you feel like you were outside watching a parade.

After that, we braved the rain to get an umbrella and poncho and then headed over to the casino to meet Nolly and Flad.  I ended up +$18 for the trip and L was more like +$200 by the time we left Harrah's on Wednesday afternoon.  Our flight was delayed so we all ended up grabbing afternoon snacks at Bourbon House and then picked up our .  Nolly and I both enjoyed these:

That would be a bourbon milk slush or something, with espresso instead of nutmeg.  I was hesitant at first but I assure you, it is delicious.  I have no idea how it's made but I don't think I want or need to know.  One is plenty because it can't be good for you.

And THAT sums up our trip.  Lots of fun, lots of sun, lots of good friend time, lots of yummy meals, lots of relaxing, and my favorite parts: getting to finally meet Flad and all our boys getting to know each other better!  I'm so glad they all got along so well.  Hooray for a fun trip!

Summer, summer, summertime... Time to kick back and unwind

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

L and I took our summer vacation last week and met Nolly and Flad and Neredith and Fick (bet you can't guess any of their real names!) in New Orleans for 5 days and then ended the week in Dallas for one of my bff's weddings. We had an AWESOME time and I was thoroughly exhausted by the time we got home on Sunday.

Some highlights of Part 1:

The trip got off to a bad start.  Why didn't I think to wear my see-through top and tie-dyed leggings??  I couldn't believe I hadn't thought to wear them with the stifling heat outside.  Obviously I was crushed. 

We spent Saturday night with our friends (they're the ones who were getting married when we went to NO in April 2010) and they showed us around their 'hood.  We spent several hours with the two of them and lots of their friends at The Delachaise, where they serve delicious Pimm's Cups and red-headed hoes. 

Then it was off to dinner at a fabulous place called Boucherie.  Never would've found this place without our friends.  I have no pictures from it but the meal totally made up for the fact that I'd forgotten to wear my tie-dyed pants and clear top earlier.  I could rave for a while, but that might get boring without pictures so just take my word for it when I tell you that I'm officially a fan of collard greens now.  Also, five words: Thai Chili Chocolate Chess Pie.  Quite the slow burn on that one but what a way to end a meal!

Then it was off to another fun place we wouldn't have ever hit up without the accompaniment of locals:

Live music + great beverage selection + cool interior space = loved it.  Bonus: there's no smoking ban in New Orleans but they voluntarily went smoke-free a while back.  Hooray for not going home with smoky hair and stinky clothes!

We didn't stay out too late both because we were still on Eastern time (we'd been up since 5:50 that morning without any naps) and because we're all kinda old (which sometimes means lame).  So we headed back to their house and called it a night. 

I love all the artwork in our friends' home.  The older I get, the more I realize I love a lot of color in my wall hangings.  Our friends have some great pieces that include among other things original artwork, Jazz Fest posters from different years, and this little gem:

It's so cute and charming in person.  I want one.  Or something as equally as cute and charming that works in our house.  Plus, I like the word desire.  It totally works on so many levels and would be great in all kinds of different areas in a house.

And with that, I'm off to bed.  More coming this week!

Summertime... and the livin's easy

Friday, July 8, 2011

1. My plans this summer include a wedding for a bff and a recently completed vacation with 3/4 of last fall's Las Vegas trip and their men.  Woo hoo!  Hooray for lots of fun and excitement!

2. The best summer I ever had was this is super hard to pick.  Fifteen of my summers were all relatively the same and were spent at this place and I loved it.  Since I stopped heading there for summers, I'd say my favorite summer was probably 2006-ish, though I'm not totally sure why.  Just sticks out as one that was fun.  Update: actually, that was the first 3-ish months of me and L dating.  That was definitely fun.  I recall concerts, a trip to Fiesta Texas (I swear we aren't obsessed with Six Flags and we don't have season passes, although L actually did have a season pass in 2007 but that's another story that involves The West Wing as the catalyst for purchasing said season pass).

3.  Summer is sunny and hot and has the best fruits - I love me some watermelon, peaches, strawberries, raspberries... I mean if it's a fruit that produces red juice or has a very fragrant scent, it's pretty much a winner in my book.  L would probably say summer is good for baseball and even better because it means college football is around the corner. 

5.  The best way to quench a summer thirst is lemonade.  Or a sno cone from Sno Beach in Austin.  I miss those.  Or beverages of any sort on a patio. 

6.  My summer uniform consists of skirts or shorts on weekends and dresses to work or out at night.  L is all about shorts and finding a shirt to match said shorts that is appropriate for whatever location he is off to.

7.  The best thing about summer is the heat!  In case I haven't made it abundantly clear yet, I AM NOT A COLD WEATHER/SNOW PERSON.  L would probably agree with this and also say sunshine and baseball.

Go check out the original here.  Happy Friday and have a fabulous weekend!
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