Queen of the Highway

Oh, hi there.  Just thought I'd pop in and give a quick little hello.  Today I am off to the Houston area for the Christmas week.  I am so excited!  I can't even remember the last time I was off work or in my homeland for more than just a few days.  It's going to be a week to remember - that's for sure ;)

I've already got a few things lined up.  I might be seeing some old high school friends tonight, tomorrow I'll be attending brunch (!) with my all-time favorite ladies and tomorrow night I'm meeting up with my good friend Amanda.  Sunday kicks off a few days of much-needed family time.  It's tradition that I celebrate Christmas with my dad, stepmom and my dad's parents on Christmas Eve, and then I get see all of my mom's family on Christmas Day.  I'm definitely looking forward to experencing all of the festivities, food and, most importantly, all of the precious faces.

I'll return after the holidays with (hopefully) tons of pictures!  Whatever your holiday plans may be, I hope they are as magical as I know mine will surely be.  MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY UPCOMING 2013!!

Many hugs & more kisses.


Bathing Beauties

My sweet cousin, Sarah, graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University this past weekend with a Bachelor's of Business Administration degree in Economics - Summa Cum Laude, might I add.  I'm so, so proud of her.  She's come a long way from that adorable, doe-eyed little blonde chasing Esther and I around to keep up with our erratic, girlish antics, but she is still as selfless and giving as ever.  The entire weekend was a wonderful treat - getting to spend some much-needed quality time with Esther on the road to Nacogdoches, seeing my sweet Nana, goofing around with my mom, hearing Aunt Kelley's infectious laugh, chatting with Aunt Kandace, eating Aunt Kim and Uncle Dale's always delicious food, giggling with my sister and younger cousins and, of course, seeing Sarah walk across that stage, stepping into that new, terrifyingly uncertain phase of life with the world in ruffles at your feet.  After the ceremony, we all gathered around the table for Frito pie and gelatin salad, and I felt myself get lost in the moment, melting into the eyes of these people surrounding me, every fiber in my body feeling nothing but unconditional love for my family.  This is it.  This is what it all comes down to - family loving and supporting each other to no end.  It's so overwhelming in the best of ways.


Playlist Post: Christmas 2012

Of all the Christmas music I've listened to each holiday season for the past 24 years, these songs take the fruitcake as far as I'm concerned.  Most are the lovable, untouchable classics from Elvis, Sinatra, Dean Martin and Ella Fitzgerald in addition to a few newer versions.  I'd have to say my all-time favorite Christmas song is and will always be "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" by the one and only Judy Garland.  It makes me cry like a baby every time.  So, go toast your footsies by the fire and enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate as you listen to these beautiful songs of love and holiday cheer!



Home Slice Pizza on South Congress - Austin, Texas
Looking forward to: The Nutcracker Ballet on Saturday!  I saw a local commercial for the ballet a couple of weeks ago and immediately felt warm and giddy inside thinking back to when I was younger and would go to ballets and plays with Meme and Papa, particularly around Christmastime.  Sometimes I get so starved for comfort and familiarity up here without being surrounded by family like I'm used to, and seeing the commercial and experiencing the feelings it evoked within me, I knew I needed to do this.  I decided to approach Jason with the idea, and he said he was up for it.  We decided to invite our friends Corey and Helen along, so it'll be a lovely little double-date affair.  I'm definitely anxious for Saturday evening.  We're going to dinner at El Alma beforehand and then to The Long Center for the performance.

Eating: better.  I'm trying to get serious about my eating habits once again.  I know, the holidays aren't the best time for diet modifications. This is always such a struggle for me.  I don't necessarily over-eat; I just love food so much.  I was raised in a family that enjoys food - every aspect of it - the buying, the preparing, the cooking, the eating, the leftovers, etc.  Don't get me wrong - it's a wonderful, potentially beneficial habit to appreciate and love food.  I've just been trying to make sure I incorporate lots of veggies and more fruit into my diet, and I'm attempting to be more aware of when certain produce are in season.  I bought some winter squash, red pears and pomegranates a few days ago, and I'm limiting my sugar intake.  Little by little I'll get there.

Listening to: a variety of different music.  With it being Christmastime, I'm of course indulging myself in A Very She & Him Christmas, Christmas With Coniff, Vince Guaraldi, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, The Carpenters and many more.  I'll probably upload of playlist post of all my Christmas music in the next few days.  We watched an episode of Parenthood a couple of nights ago and had a beautiful cover of Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" by James Blake.  I've been listening to that on repeat this evening.  That tends to happen to me; I'll hear a song that absolutely stops me in my tracks and irrevocably haunts me for weeks on end.  It's a fabulous curse if you ask me.

Watching: some amazing movies that have relentlessly resonated with me since I watched them.  In my opinion, a film is perfect when it forces you to use your mind and it grabs ahold of your heart and wrings it out like a soaking wet dishcloth.  I absolutely love to feel any and every emotion while I'm watching a movie.  I want to feel it swim through my bloodstream, dig through my bones and crawl across my skin.  I've seen two movies recently that managed to do this to me.

The first was Take This Waltz starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen, directed by Sarah Polley.  It's about a young married woman who is seemingly happy and content with her husband of about five-six years, but their relationship has plateaued and lacks the passion she desires.  Enter tall, dark, handsome artist who just so happens to move in across the street.  She falls for him, but struggles with her feelings for him because she doesn't want to hurt her husband.  I really enjoyed the story because it's painfully realistic, and the ending sort of catches you off guard and leaves you unsettled, yet satisfied all at once.

The second was We Need To Talk About Kevin starring Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller and John C. Reilly.  This one involves a super heavy story that switches back and forth in time, revolving around a mother analyzing her past display of abilities and decisions as a parent to her now teenage son, Kevin, who has been disturbed, if you will, since birth.  The dark, deeply thrilling film is visually appealing and artistically shot with red and white color motif from beginning to end.  Needless to say, I was captivated the entire two hours.

Hope everyone is having a great week so far, and, once again, many thanks to Danielle for inspiring these "Currently" posts.



It's 1993.  

I am five years old sprawled out on the green carpet of Nana's "big room" upstairs.  I'm playing an intricately planned game of Barbies.  Ken has just asked Barbie to be his wife, only their names aren't Ken and Barbie - they are Chris and Lisa.  Lisa has a younger sister, Amanda (Skipper), and the little neighbor girl, Kelly, has just come over to help bake cookies.  Life is good in Barbie world.  I have decided all of their ages, occupations and personalities.

I am the master of Barbie universe.
I like playing independently.  This way it's all up to me; everything goes according to my predetermined plan.  I have always been quite imaginative.  I enjoy creating circumstances and story lines.

I am tired of playing Barbies for now; my brain aches.
I go outside to swing on the little round swing that hangs from a thick branch of a large tree in Nana's yard.  I push my legs out and pull them back in until I'm breezing quickly back and forth, back and forth.  I begin to sing a song, but no one knows it except for me.  I am making up the words as I go along.  Such is life...






Let Your Heart Be Light

Sorry it's been a while since my last post - it's been a busy, busy work-filled, family-filled past week, and I've loved mostly every minute of it.  I'll give you the short version of what all went down.  So, I think I mentioned my mom, sister and cousin were coming up for the two days before Thanksgiving.  I had so much fun with them!  It was really wonderful getting to spend some time with close family members around Thanksgiving.  I wasn't looking forward to being without them.  Sadly, as long as I'm in the hotel industry, I'll have to work most holidays.  I can't afford to take them all off; it goes against the best interest of the hotel and my coworkers.  Anyway, my mom and I put together a delicious menu full of traditional Thanksgiving foods (minus the turkey, haha) - Rotisserie chicken, five-cup fruit salad, sweet potato casserole, corn casserole (I should post the recipe sometime in the near future!), English peas, Sister Schubert's rolls (a Kitchen family staple) and of course raspberry tart and peach cobbler for dessert.  Everything turned out really beautiful and more than edible.  While they were here, we also watched some movies - The Help, 500 Days of Summer, Paranormal Activity 3 and The Hunger Games.  We played a ridiculously long game of Phase 10 (card game) that Jason ended up winning.  Tuesday evening, my mom and I went for a walk and checked out the hot tub at my apartment complex before we all went up to the UT campus for some Rita's "Ice Custard Happiness."  They left Wednesday afternoon after lunch, and everything went back to quiet and normal.

On actual Thanksgiving Day, I worked 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. and Jason got off work at 5 p.m., so when he got home we drove up to his parents' place for dinner.  They made a delicious meal as well - Turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, spinach salad with feta cheese, green bean casserole, rolls and pumpkin pie for dessert.  Two Thanksgiving meals ain't too shabby, I must say.  Although, I did gain about five pounds throughout the week that I'm trying to lose again.  I'm so up and down when to comes to fitness!  Don't get me started!  After dinner at Jason's parents' we met up with our friends Corey and Helen, along with a couple of their friends, at the Draught House pub in North Central Austin for some post-holiday beverages, but we couldn't stay long because we both had to work the next day, unlike everyone we were with.

On Black Friday, Jason had to work noon to midnight so after work I entertained myself by idiotically going to Target for a few things.  Despite it being one of the craziest days for shopping, it really wasn't so bad.  That night I ordered Chinese takeout and attempted to watch Smooth Talk and failed because the disc kept skipping, so I caught up on Gossip Girl and did a little online shopping.  Saturday night I got to see Rebecca's sister Cynthia and her husband, Shelby, as they were in town for a wedding.  I got them the hook-up at the hotel and we met one of their friends and his new friend at Trudy's for dinner and drinks.  It was really good to see them - the last time I saw Shelby was back in March when Cynthia was in Italy.  I don't even remember the last time I saw her!  We all decided it was unacceptable, and I told them they should come up and visit more often.

Last night Jason and I put up all of our Christmas decorations, tree and all!  Our apartment looks so cozy and Christmas-y now :)  The cats are probably more excited than we are, however.  The tree is a feline playground as far as they're concerned.  I am a very firm believer in celebrating one holiday at a time.   I refuse to listen to Christmas music, watch Christmas movies or buy anything Christmas-related until AFTER Thanksgiving.  With that said, post-Thanksgiving and up until New Years, I am a Christmas fiend.  I break out my Christmas albums, CDs and movies.  I make Christmas cookies, I wear Christmas colors, I keep my radio on 95.5 FM permanently for Christmas music 'round the clock. You bet your booty I am all about it!  So I'd like to wish each and every one of you a safe and happy holiday season - may the odds be ever in your favor!  Haha.



Itty Bitty Update

I took the above picture this morning when I first got to work.  The chilly fall air seemed the perfect counterpart to the tranquil morning stillness of Lady Bird Lake - I just had to capture it and use the oh-so brilliant new photo-editing app, Afterlight.  

So it's been a little while, but not much new has happened.  Friday night, Jason and I drove out to Gruene to have dinner with my dad and Rebecca at one of our old favorites, Adobe Verde.  Yesterday I went to Evelyn's baby shower with Helen and Krista.  Jason began brewing his first batch of beer today, so we're excited to see how it turns out!  It should be ready for consumption right before Christmas.  The Formula 1 Grand Prix was this weekend in Austin - the first one of U.S. soil since the Indianapolis catastrophe.  I was expecting the city to be in absolute chaos due to the amount of people the event was estimated to bring in - about 300,000 (three times the amount during ACL).  However, I have been pleasantly surprised.  Work has been super slow and chill, traffic hasn't been bad at all (or at least no worse than usual) and it's been an overall pretty positive experience.  

I'm looking forward to tomorrow when my mom, sister and cousin Kaylie come to town for an early, mini Thanksgiving feast.  My mom and I have planned a pretty delicious menu full of my favorite holiday comfort foods.  I have to work on Thanksgiving day, but will accompany Jason to his parents' house that evening for dinner.  It should be a nice, family-filled week.  Cheers to kicking off the holiday season right!



Happy Birthday, Brother Bear!

Today is my brother Kaleb's seventeenth birthday!  I can hardly believe it.  I still picture that sweet little face on that energetic little body running around the house in his underwear with a homemade superhero cape tied around his neck.  Granted, he wasn't always sweet...he used to beat me up from time to time even though I'm seven years older than him!  I have some really great memories of him from the first day we brought that "little K" home from the hospital to now - watching him play high school football as quarterback.  Our relationship isn't always smooth, but I love him so much, and I'm super proud of the young man he's become.  Happy happy birthday, my sweet Kabo.  I hope you had the best day full of love, gifts, delicious food and sweet treats.  You're always in my heart :)

Gulfshores, AL //  2006

Micah and Kaleb // 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 with Nana

Holding our new baby cousin, Rylie // 2012


Playlist Post: November 2012

Leaves are starting to fall, temperatures are starting to drop (slowly, but surely) and I've made yet another playlist.  Although, October is my favorite month of the year, November, December and January aren't so bad either.  This playlist features some of my new favorites including POLICA and Father John Misty as well as some golden oldies such as Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse.  These songs are best listened to by candlelight with a mug of hot tea.  Enjoy!


A Week of Tricks & Treats

Fortune Teller Me

This past week was really wonderful.  I turned twenty-four on October 30 and got to celebrate with my love the day before by going out to the Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood, enjoying a delicious dinner at Jack Allen's Kitchen and having a few drinks with friends on Rainey Street.  On my actual birthday, Jason bought me some Sugar Mama's cupcakes and made one of my favorite meals - jagerschnitzel with German potato salad.

The previous weekend we were invited to our friends' halloween party so I dressed as a fortune teller and Jason as a juggalo (Insane Clown Posse follower).  We had to cut the night a bit short unfortunately because I had to be at work early the next morning, but it was still a good time.  On actual Halloween, we just had a relaxing night in watching Halloween I & II and Trick 'R Treat.  I bought some last-minute decorations for outside the door and on the window to welcome trick-or-treaters, but we only had one little group of kids.  I can't wait until we live in a neighborhood that's more welcoming and open for trick-or-treaters.  I have such fond memories of the tradition from when I was young.  I would love to live in a small town that really celebrates Halloween like Katie and Danielle.

This weekend we had the pleasure of getting to attend another of Austin's renowned music festivals, Fun Fun Fun Fest.  On Friday I got to see Against Me! for the second time, southern rap artist Bun B and Run DMC.  Yesterday I saw Why?, Paul Banks, Wavves and Girl Talk.  I decided not to go today because I can only handle so much back-and-forth between work and festival, and it turned out to be a good decision because I'm feeling pretty under the weather currently.  A scratchy, sore throat and the chills make for a not-so-fun evening :(

A fortune teller and a juggalo
Some movies I got for my bday
Outdoor showing of Hocus Pocus at our apt complex
On the way to Duchman Family Winery
Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood, TX

Birthday Breakfast
Bday Gifts from Jason
Anxiously waiting on Halloween night

Fun Fun Fun Fest
Bun B
Day Two of FFF Fest
Paul Banks
Girl Talk


Politics & Religion: A Naked Moment

I don't quite know how to start this, and I have to tell you that I'm not super excited to be opening myself up this much on my personal blog.  My intention for this space was to try my absolute best to keep it peaceful, light and as a beautiful piece of the web to hold my memories and pictures.  However, I'm afraid I have to allow my original purpose for this to subside for a moment so I can discuss something very crucial, personal and deep.  I know this will surprise some people, maybe even those that I hold closest to my heart, but that's okay; it's necessary that I voice my opinions in order to be honest with everyone (myself included).  Please know that I am not trying to offend anyone.  I am only telling my own personal thoughts and feelings.

Beginning as far back as I can remember, I was raised to be a Christian - to believe that God created the world; that Jesus Christ, his son, died for our sins so that we could be born again and spend eternity in heaven after we die.  It seems so easy...simply stated - just believe this and you will not spend forever in the fires of hell.  As a child, hell definitely didn't seem like a place I'd like to live someday, and the idea of God sounded surreally wonderful.  I chose to believe it; to believe something no one can prove or see with their own eyes, but it somehow made sense to me and I rarely questioned it.  When I did question it from time to time I was told, well, that's what faith is...believing something you can't see.  You just have to trust it and know in your heart that it's the truth.  Okay.  So I continued to believe.

In the later years of elementary school, I remember attending a local baptist church with my family.  I've never been a fan of church, especially the services.  I was always incredibly bored unless I suddenly noticed many people laughing at something the pastor had said, and that would get my attention for a little while as I listened intently waiting for the man with the strange accent to say something funny again.  I attended children's choir at this church, and I was actually given rather large acting roles with singing parts and even solos in a few different plays put on by the church.  At this time, I was enjoying going to church on Wednesday nights, singing with my church friends and learning about the Bible.  I was even baptized when I was 9, if I recall correctly.  I remember being told that I had to make the decision to have a personal relationship with God in order to be baptized and washed clean of my sins.  It seemed strange to have a personal relationship with something I wasn't even 100% positive existed, but I was convinced He was real and I needed to do this to spend my afterlife in heaven with the people I love.

I've always heard people say they have conversations with God, or God has spoken to them and told them what to do in tough situations.  I used to try so hard to talk to God.  I would pray and pray and pray and ask God to send me a sign.  I think I may have gotten a sign a time or two, but it could have just been a coincidence.  Who really knows?  I prayed harder than I ever had in my life when I saw my Pop having a seizure in the passenger seat of his friend's car sitting in the driveway when I was 11.  I fell while running up the stairs to get away from the chaos, squeezed my eyes shut so tight as tears came streaming out and I prayed.  Why is this happening?  Make it stop.  Make him all right.  It isn't time for him to go yet.  He died ten days later.  I remember seeing his body - bruised, yellow in coloring laying on the hospice bed, lifeless after having fought so hard.  But I continued to believe.  Bad things happen sometimes, and we cannot control it.  It was time for him to go.  God wouldn't have taken him if it wasn't time.  Although, some people in my family didn't believe he would go to heaven, so for all I know he could be burning in hell right now.

Back to the topic of church.  By the time middle school rolled around, I was attending "Surge" which was a youth group that met on Wednesday nights.  I really enjoyed the youth leader.  He always made sure we were having a good time, one way or another, with silly songs, props and dances.  The thing I didn't like about it was that my old choir friends were different.  We weren't really friends anymore.  The youth group became very cliquey and no matter how hard I tried to be a part of their groups, I didn't feel welcome.  I felt like an outsider that didn't belong.  It was almost humorous how quickly things had changed.  It's not that they were rude to me and it may have solely had to do with the fact that they all went to the same school and I attended a different one.  Whatever the reason, I started disliking church again.  My freshman year of high school, there was a church youth group for high schoolers that was "all the rage" called M-Pact.  What I found interesting about M-Pact was that the same kids I would see worshiping and praising the Lord with their hands lifted up and waving in the air, tears pouring down their faces because of the feelings they were supposedly feeling, were the same kids cursing in school, drinking, running around in the hallways grabbing each other's body parts to be funny, being disrespectful to teachers and so on.  It just didn't add up to me.  These kids considered themselves Christians?  This made me view the idea and institution of church even more negatively, and I gradually stopped going to M-Pact.

Fast-forward to college.  Everyone knows college is supposed to be where teenagers grow into adults and make decisions and choices that shape who they will become.  It's true.  I met a lot of different people from various backgrounds with various views and opinions.  I made some wonderful friends and formed relationships that I still cherish and respect.  It was an extremely happy time for me, and there are many things about that time in my life that I miss a great deal.  Now, I'm an adult.  I have made the afore-mentioned choices that have begun to shape me into the person I am and will continue to be.  Some of these unfavorable decisions have disappointed my family.  I moved in with my boyfriend right after graduation.  We had been dating for about a year and four months, and I saw it as a waste to pay for my own place because I was almost always over at his apartment anyway.  So for reasons of finance and love, I moved in with him.  Two apartments later, we still live together in - what some would consider - a bed of sin.  It's a pretty delightful bed of sin if you ask me.  He's my best friend and I learn more and more from him everyday, about him and about myself.  I'm content and, it's really wonderful.

The ideals of Christianity, faith and the afterlife honestly don't cross my mind too often these days.  I'm not saying I believe there is no God; I would still like to believe that there is, and sometimes I do.  I mean, truthfully, no one knows what happens after we die.  People either choose the road of believing in heaven and hell as real places of the afterlife, or they think it's all an idea/elaborate story to make people feel better about death.  At this time, I'm not really sure what I believe, and it's been this way for quite some time now.  People are always pressuring me to believe something - I HAVE TO believe something.  All I know is that I believe in family, love, happiness and being the best person you can be during the short time we have on Earth.  No one knows what's next, and that's okay.

Now personal views aside.  Let's talk about the Bible.  The Bible says homosexuality is wrong, an "abomination" is the word used I believe.

"If a man has sex with another man, kill them both." Leviticus 20:13

Okay, that's pretty clear.

Others sins in addition to homosexuality, according to the Bible, include getting tattoos on your body (I have a tattoo), cutting your hair and/or beard (pretty sure most people do this on a regular basis), eating pork, eating any kind of seafood (these organisms are considered unclean) and having wounded genitals (yes, you read that right).

"He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord." Deuteronomy 23:1

Another sin mentioned in the Bible is cursing at your parents.

"And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death." Exodus 21:17

Getting remarried after a divorce is also considered a sin, unless of course your husband cheated on you.  Also, working on the sabbath is a sin punishable by death.  That scares me a little because I don't have the ability to choose my work schedule and therefore work most every weekend.

"Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people."  Exodus 31:14-15

What I find a little odd is that Christians have somehow evolved and managed to forget some or all of these sins except for homosexuality.  If God views all sin the same, what sets homosexuality apart from getting remarried after divorce?  This cherry-picking just doesn't make sense to me.  These are the kind of inconsistencies that make me question the whole belief.

I have an endless amount of respect and love for my Nana because she has come to terms with having a gay daughter.  She struggled with it for a little while and finally decided to "love the sinner, hate the sin."  She doesn't nag my aunt about her choices and her lifestyle.  She loves her just the same as her other daughters, and told me personally about the gratitude she has toward my aunt for taking such great care of her in this difficult last year and a half that Nana has developed health problems.  Not a single day goes by that my aunt doesn't call to check on Nana, and she even had a new room built onto her house that Nana lived in during the past year.  They are two of the best people in my life - pure souls in a mixed-up world.

Moving on to a somewhat current topic in politics with the presidential election upon us - women's rights.  This is a subject that never ceases to infuriate me, but I'll attempt to keep it brief.  It's disconcerting that this is even still a present issue in society.  

Here are some verses from the Bible concerning women's rights:

"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." 1 Corinthians 14:34-36

"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord." Colossians 3:18

"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Genesis 3:16

I don't even know how to react or respond to these verses.  No wonder our country isn't willing to give equal rights to its women or let them make decisions regarding their own bodies.  These are the philosophies and beliefs many people grow up reading and studying.  What do you say to this?  I'm sorry, but a husband should not "rule over" his wife.  It's called a partnership for a reason.  It's not a master-slave relationship.

As far as the election goes, I honestly don't love either presidential candidate.  I watched parts of the debates and they both use colorful, buttered-up vocabulary and talk about percentages and numbers like they've got the bandage for our wounded country, but when it comes down to it, they're just trying to win us over with their words and their promises.  Amidst the shred of honesty they may convey, most of their talk is lies.  We've seen it happen over and over again.  This time it's no different.  Unlike many others, I'm not going to flat out announce who I'm voting for, but it's probably pretty obvious given this post.

I'm not trying to convince anyone to believe anything other than what they already do.  I just had to tell this story and get some of these thoughts out of my head and into real words.  It feels good to be open and honest - a breath of fresh air, a naked moment.


Girls' Weekend in Houston

Photo credit: Heather B.
I love getting to hang out with Jason on a daily basis; he's my best friend and whether we're out on an elaborate, romantic date or just sitting on the couch watching TV in our fat clothes, we're always having a great time just enjoying each other's company and presence.  Sometimes, however, I just have to be with my close girlfriends, and I'm so so grateful that we've kept in touch regardless of our living in different cities and moving forward in our own individual life paths.  I'm incredibly lucky to have such solid gold friendships with beautiful ladies that have equally beautiful souls.  I don't know where I would be without them; good or bad, they have helped me become the person I am today.  Mushy stuff aside, I had the pleasure of getting to meet up with Emily, Sarah, Sam and Heather this past Saturday night for a short, but much-needed and treasured little trip.  I got an awesome deal with my IHG employee discount at the Crowne Plaza in River Oaks near downtown Houston.  I was really excited to get to go out and experience Houston night life because although I was born and raised there, I was never old enough to get into the decent 21+ places because I was already living in San Marcos when I turned 21.  While checking in to the hotel room I ran into one of the hotel managers/concierge that I had met about a few months ago when she came to my work to give us customer service tips and ideas.  She was super helpful and welcoming and gave my friends and I some suggestions of where to go and how to get there.  After everyone arrived at the hotel and we were all dolled-up, we took a cab to Rice Village where we found Baker Street Pub to be extremely packed so we went next door to 55 Bar and ordered some appetizers to share as well as a few beers.  After a sad goodbye to Heather, we decided to take my mom's recommendation and head over to Midtown to check out a popular bar/pub called Celtic Gardens.  To our initial disappointment there was a long line all the way down the side of the building to get in.  I noticed a few girls going right up to the front of the line and being let in, so I decided we should do the same.  We got in easily, of course! (haha) A few drinks, three shots, a couple of midgets and one baldy later, we closed down the bar and grabbed a cab to take us back to hotel where Emily taught us how to dance to "Gangnam Style" before we all crashed.  The next morning Sarah had to leave early, but Sam, Emily and I ended the short, but sweet visit at Barnaby's Cafe for brunch.  I love time with my ladies, and I'm hoping I don't have to wait until Christmas to see them again!

Photo credit: Emily G.


Austin City Limits 2012

It was super last minute, but thanks to some interesting/lucky circumstances, Jason and I got to go to the Austin City Limits music festival at Zilker Park completely for free!  I was given two three-day wristbands to the festival by an appreciative guest staying at the hotel.  Because it was so last minute, and we weren't planning to go, both of us were scheduled to work over the weekend which was a bit of a bummer only because I had to wake up early for work each day and Jason wasn't able to go Friday night.  However, we still had a great time and got to see some amazing shows.

Seeing Jack White play with his all-female band was probably the highlight for me because (1) it's the closest I'll ever come to seeing The White Stripes live because, let's face it, they're never getting back together (thanks, Meg) and (2) I've been a huge fan of mostly everything Jack White has ever done, he's entertaining to watch and he's one of the greatest guitarists of our generation.  He opened with one of my personal favorites, "The Hardest Button To Button" and closed with the timeless "Seven Nation Army" which was a sure-fire crowd favorite.  I got to see him back in 2010 with The Dead Weather at Coachella, but this was better because he played a few songs from each of his musical collaborations.

Another highlight would be seeing Ryan Gosling about ten feet away from me (!!!!) as he was exiting the Austin Ventures stage during The Black Lips' set.  He and Rooney Mara are in town continuing filming for Austin director Terrence Malick's new movie.

Friday night I went to the festival by my lonesome and got a bite to eat and a beer before finding a spot for the Alabama Shakes.  Sadly, I could not hear Ms. Brittany Howard too well because of all the chatty Kathys surrounding me, but I stayed for the majority of the set before heading over to see The Black Lips.  I had been wanting to see this foursome for quite a while by this point, and they definitely didn't disappoint. They played one of my faves, "Not A Problem", which they referred to as "a golden favorite."  I was up front for their show because it wasn't too crowded, which I was relieved to find because it was a zoo of bodies pretty much everywhere else in the park at all times.  After that, I got some Amy's Mint Chip ice cream and made my way back over to the Barton Springs stage for the musical delight to my ears that was M83.  Their light/laser effects were pleasing to eyes as well - a perfect ending to the night.

Saturday night Jason went with me and we got to catch the very end of Band of Skulls before going over to the Bud Light stage to catch The Roots and then to AMD for Jack White.  Unfortunately, Jack White played at the same time as Neil Young and Crazy Horse so we had to make a pretty tough decision.  We went with Jack White, but got to catch a couple of Neil's songs as we were exiting the festival grounds.

Sunday night was the last night and we had the pleasure of seeing The Civil Wars (who have stayed at my hotel before), Die Antwoord (for the second time), Iggy Pop & the Stooges (which was amazinggggg!  He opened with "Raw Power" and "Search and Destroy"), Crystal Castles (headache) and then about the first five songs from the Red Hot Chili Peppers because the sound was super bad.  It wasn't necessarily their sound; they just weren't loud enough.  Apparently ACL experienced the same problem last year during Stevie Wonder's set.  Pretty silly.

It was an exhausting, yet fun-filled weekend, and I'm so happy and honored that we were given the spontaneous opportunity to go.


The Little Things

People always say that, in the grand scheme of everything in life, it's the little things that matter the most. Everyone gets caught up in "life goals" and ultimate destinations or deadlines, profits and spreadsheets, but when you manage to get a break from all the day-to-day chaos, you can actually see pretty clearly what is most precious to you.  You just have to remind yourself to pause every so often and relish in the moment.  Breathe deeply and temporarily erase all the little worries eating away at your mind and soul.  I know I sound like a weirdo, but this time of year always brings this out in me.  The temperatures finally start to cool down, I can wear my tights and my boots and walk outside without being immediately drenched in sweat.  I'm reminded that it can actually feel nice outside in Texas, if only for a short while.

Needless to say, I had a great two days off.  After work on Saturday I met up with my Dad, Rebecca and a couple of their friends at Red's Porch for a late lunch before they headed over to the UT football game.  It was nice to catch up and visit with them if only for a brief time.  I also spoke with my aunt who informed me that Nana has decided she no longer feels comfortable living alone, so the plan is for her to sell her car and her house and rotate living with each of her four daughters in three-month increments for as long as she's able.  It's sad to see her lose her independence and suffer from so much anxiety over her health, but I know she's in wonderful hands.  She's still one of the strongest, most beautiful souls I have ever encountered, and she deserves to be taken care of in the best way possible.

Last night I made a delicious dinner of Paul Deen's honey & goat cheese chicken, au gratin potatoes, peas and crescent rolls before Jason and I met up with our friend Amanda at Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane to see LOOPER.  The movie was really great.  The story line was super captivating and intelligent.  I definitely recommend it.  I was a little disappointed with the service at Alamo however, and I hate to complain because I work in the service industry, but really?  How hard is it to make a mimosa?  Yes, I drink mimosas at night.  Shut it. So I ordered a water and a mimosa, and they gave me a Sprite and a champagne flute full of what tasted like 100% orange juice.  Oh and I later ordered a sangria that I never received.  I'm not closing the door on this location by any means.  I realize it's a new theater, and I'm sure they were swamped as it was a full theater.  I just hope our experience is better next time.

Today was pretty relaxing.  Jason and I both slept in, I did a bunch of laundry and we drove (windows down!) to End of an Ear to buy a replacement needle for our record player and each got a new record.  When we got home we caught up on last night's episode of Dexter.  The new season has actually been pretty entertaining so far.  For dinner, Jason made amber ale barbeque beef sandwiches and sweet potato tots while I squealed over the season six premiere of Gossip Girl.  Chuck + Blair 4 lyfe.

Twas a good couple of days indeed.  Now, it's back to work for both of us tomorrow...ick.