Homemade Body Scrubs

To me, there are few things better than having super-soft, moisturized skin.  I absolutely hate when my skin is dry, especially my hands.  It weirds me out to touch ANYTHING when my hands are dry and scaly.  I keep hand cream in my purse and on my nightstand, and I am constantly guilty of having too many lotions in the bathroom cabinets and/or counter.  I've always loved body scrubs.  The rougher, the better.  

A few months ago, I went to get a pedicure at a local nail salon and decided to splurge and get the "deluxe spa pedicure."  Oh my word.  It was amazing!  The best part was when she used a sugar scrub on my calves, shins and feet.  I could just feel it scrubbing away all the gross dry, dead skin cells and revealing fresh, beautiful soft skin underneath.  I was shocked by what a difference it made, but I really didn't feel like going over to Bath & Body Works to buy a scrub for $20.  So when I got home, I did some research to find out what it would take to make my own.  

Because I am currently obsessed with coconut oil, the first body scrub I made included coconut oil, brown sugar, white sugar and a couple drops of vanilla extract for a sweet scent.  I just mixed up all of the ingredients and scooped it into a small mason jar with a screw-on lid and put it in the shower so I could use it easily while bathing.  

Last week, I decided to make another one because I had run out of the vanilla one a while ago and was missing my super-soft skin!  This time I used coconut oil, lime juice, honey and white sugar.  This one has a very light citrusy scent, and I'm really enjoying it so far! 

There are no limits as to what you can put in your body scrub - after all, it's going on your body!  I've read about some scrubs that use coffee grounds or lavender or tea leaves, and more.  I can't wait to experiment with other ingredients!  I adore my new hobby.  :)



Farewell Little Red Barn House

How do you bid adieu to a house?  A house that has been a part of your life from day one.  A house that is the very blood in your veins.  A house that you thought would always be there to go back to whenever you pleased.  A house so beautiful it makes you jealous to think another family will be living there soon.  Too soon.  

My heart will break into little pieces on July 31.  

That uneven brick driveway, the oversized azalea bushes out by the street, the rarely-used front door, the huge backyard that once housed Pop's vegetable garden, the tree I would swing from in the side yard, those times when there would be close to ten cars parked in the driveway and out in the yard, the time I found a baby garden snake slithering through the grass attempting to not be seen, the crunch of the leaves under your feet on Halloween night, the frogs that were always hanging around the side door, the outdoor phone on top of the refrigerator, the croquet set in the corner of the garage, the patio Pop constructed himself, the mornings we would sit out there and smell the Crosby air.  

There are so many things about that house I'm going to miss, and I know everyone in my family feels the same.  It has been a sweet, untouchable symbol and foundation for our family for over 50 years, and it's going to be so hard to let it go when July 31 is upon us, but we'll always have the memories and the pictures of all the wonderful times spent in that little house on Nightbird Trail.



Anticipating: My dad's 46th birthday tomorrow!  He and my step-mom, Rebecca, are driving up from Houston to spend some time in the lovely hill country (and one of my dad's favorite cities) to celebrate the occasion.  Tomorrow night we're having dinner at Mai Thai per my dad's request for Thai food.  I've actually never tried it before, but it has great reviews, and seeing as it's had a downtown  location for a while now, I'm guessing it's not hurting for business.  Saturday I will be joining them, along with some of their friends, at the Oasis on Lake Travis, a popular tourist destination restaurant with some of the absolute best sunset views.

Enjoying: My day off from work today.  The past few days at work have been very trying.  I can't exactly pinpoint what is making it so stressful; I suspect it's just a lot of things changing and happening all at once.  It's sort of felt like a whirlwind of issues spinning around me one after the other.  Just when I've got something under control, another thing pops up and smacks me in the face.  Here's hoping things settle down soon!

Watching: As far as television goes, I've been keeping up with Mad Men, The Killing and True Blood, which all air on Sunday.  Thank goodness for AT&T U-Verse!  On top of all that, the final season of Dexter premieres this coming Sunday.  And in the way of movies, we saw Man of Steel in IMAX 3D about a week and a half ago.  I really enjoyed it for the most part, although it did feel a little TOO action-packed at times.  I like my superhero movies to have a good mix of love-story, action and background.  Man of Steel included all of these elements, but the love-story and background parts felt pretty buried under all of the swooshing, crashing, bashing, smashing and mass-destruction going on.

Missing: my dear friend, Emily.  She was in town visiting this past weekend, and we had so much fun together!  It almost felt just like the good old college days minus all the crazy Keystone and Coors Light-filled adventures.  We had some more mature adventures this time around, venturing out to Krause Springs in Spicewood, doing some modest drinking on Rainey Street, stuffing our faces at Gourdough's and shopping around the eclectic South Congress district before she drove her little rental Fiat back to Space City.  I would have devoted an entire post to her visit, but she wrote one herself that I won't even try to out-do!

Devouring: This scrumptious Curry Chicken Salad that Jason made.  He's made it a few times before, and lemme tell ya, it's to die for!  It's got grapes, apples, celery and pecans in it too, which makes for a delicious, slightly-healthy-if-it-weren't-for-all-the-mayonnaise little lunch.  I'll post the recipe sometime in the near future so you guys can try it for yourselves!



My Hair Care Essentials

I have maintained a love/hate relationship with my hair since middle school, when I started really caring  about what I looked like.  Throughout high school, I kept my hair pretty short - meaning chin length or a little longer.  I occasionally let it grow to my shoulders, but it never got much longer than that.  The first time I chemically-treated my hair in any way was my junior year of high school when I died my naturally auburn hair a darker red.  Senior year of high school was a dramatic year for hair changes.

I went from blonde highlights:

Back to a closer version of my natural color:

To dark brown right before graduation:

In college, I kept it mostly a strawberry-blonde:

And red:

Basically, I've damaged my hair quite a lot over the past eight years, and I continue to damage it by getting partial highlights every eight weeks and using heat styling tools on it at least twice a week.  Despite all of this hair destruction, I manage to get tons of compliments on my hair, and I truly believe I owe it all to my current hair routine and the products I use to keep it healthy.  I am very excited to share what works for me!

First of all, I was blessed with normal/dry hair so I only wash it 2-3 times per week.  I know some people have super oily hair and have to wash it everyday, but if you have normal/dry hair like me, you're really harming your hair by washing it daily.  It's good for your hair to get a little oily - it keeps it healthy.  Because my hair is chemically-treated with color, I use color-safe shampoo and conditioner.  Now, let me tell you, I've tried a multitude of shampoos and conditioners, from cheap brands to pricey, salon brands, and Pureology is the best.  Because my hair is naturally wavy, curly, thick and frizzy, I chose Pureology Super Smooth to help relax the kinks.

After I lightly towel-dry my hair, I liberally spray it with Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Wheat Leave In Conditioner and comb through it with a wide-tooth comb until I get all the knots out. 

Then, I use my all-time favorite product - Moroccan Oil.  I use two pumps of the oil on the ends (driest part) of my hair and then smooth what's left on my hands on the rest of my hair, careful not to get too much of the oil on the top of my head because that can make it look gross and greasy.

After I use Moroccan Oil, I let my hair air-dry for at least 30 minutes, depending on how much time I have.  Before blow-drying what's left of the damp hair, I spritz on some Pureology Heat Fortifying Spray for heat protection and spray my roots with a little Pureology Root Lift for added volume at the crown of my head.  I don't always use the root lift, only if I feel like I need a boost.

After all of my hair is dry, I use one pump of Moroccan Oil to smooth over my hair before curling or straightening.

I hope you all find these products as beneficial as I do, if you should choose to try any of them out for yourself.  This has been my routine for the past couple of years, and I'm happy I finally found the right products that work for my unruly hair!


Wednesday Summer Inspiration

I don't know about you guys, but I am beach-dreaming like MAD!  Grooving to the Beach Boys, craving pina coladas, pining for a new pair of oversized sunnies, inhaling the summer air and wishing I could go swimming in the sea...



An Evening of Singin' & Dancin'

photo credit: modern-vinyl.com
Jason and I had the pleasure of seeing She & Him tonight at the Moody Theater downtown, and boy, oh boy, did I have a good old fashioned blast singing along, rocking my hips and tapping my toes!  This duo (along with four other fantastic musicians and two lovely back-up vocalists) really know how to put on a fun show.  Jason isn't as into their music as I am, but he was good sport by my crazy side.  Surely you've all heard at least one song by She & Him (Zooey Deschanel and Matt Ward), but, if you haven't, I would personally describe their sound as the indie, new-age version of Patsy Cline or Tammy Wynette at a luau.  Most of their songs have a vintage feel, and some even have a tropical, surf-y feel because of Zooey's ukulele and Matt's subtle, short guitar strums.

The set list for tonight's show was really great.  They played some old favorites - "Sweet Darlin'", "Thieves", "You Really Got a Hold on Me"and "I Was Made For You."  They also played some new favorites - "Never Wanted Your Love", "Together", "Baby" and "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me."  And of course some irreplaceable covers - "Rave On", "Roll Over Beethoven", "Stars Fell On Alabama" and "I Put A Spell On You."

I didn't get to take any pictures tonight at the show because the venue staff were being oddly restrictive about the use of photography - even camera phones!  However, I did see She & Him a few years ago at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, CA, so I'll share a couple of pictures from that with you.


Happy 49 Years of Marriage to Mike & Carol Kelley!

Photo Credit
Last night Jason and I met my grandparents for dinner at Green Pastures to celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary.  They drove into town yesterday afternoon, and I happily made accommodations for them at the hotel where I work.  They lived in Austin for a short time during the 1970s and were heartbroken when they left Austin so my grandpa could fulfill a career at Texaco in Houston.  They've always been fond of Austin and come up every few months to check out the city and to see me.  My grandpa was in the military when they lived here, and he once coordinated an event for his military buddies at the fabulous Green Pastures, a french-inspired restaurant that's been a part of south Austin culture since 1864.  They decided that's where they wanted to have their anniversary dinner last year and again this year.  It was a really nice, intimate affair - just the four of us, and the food was sensational.

Now, I don't eat at fancy restaurants often so I'm going to be very descriptive about everything we ate because I am still day-dreaming about it!

We each indulged in a glass (or two) of wine from their extensive wine list.  Before we ordered, they brought out a crostini with a small piece of seared ahi tuna.  For appetizers, we decided on crab cakes with dill cream and lemon caper butter along with the mushroom martini, a variety of sauteed mushrooms with garlic and Vermouth.  Jason, Meme and Papa all chose the tomato basil soup, but I went with a fresh field green salad with a house vinaigrette.  After our salad and soups, the server brought out a little scoop of mango-ginger sorbet on a lemon slice to cleanse our pallets, which was so yummy!  For our main course, Meme and Papa both ordered the Texas Redfish topped with crawfish, sweet corn, spinach, coconut butter and guajillo over sauteed red potatoes.  Jason chose the Espresso Cocoa Ribeye with portabella mushroom, gruyere, pecan green beans, vanilla carrots and garlic butter.  And I went with the Pecan Salmon with Lobster Bread Pudding (!!!), honey carrots, candied jalapenos and herb butter.  Now, that I've made myself hungry once again, I think I'll go heat up my leftover lobster bread pudding!  Mmm mmm mmmm!

But before I do that, I just need to say that I feel so incredibly lucky to have grandparents that are excellent role models for how a marriage should be.  It's not always hearts and kisses - in fact, most of the time it's going to be really hard, but marriage is a commitment that you do not break or give up on when the ceiling starts to cave in.  You cover your head, buckle down and fight through it.  Unless, of course, there is an extreme circumstance.

So, here's to you, Mike and Carol!  I wish you many more years of love and happiness, and I can't wait to celebrate the big 50 with you next year!


Hemlock Grove

I started watching Hemlock Grove, the Netflix original series, a few days ago, and so far I'm really in love with it.  Yeah, it's all over the place.  Yeah, there are a few plot holes.  Yeah, Famke Janssen's fake accent is terrible and inconsistent.  But, PEOPLE, have you SEEN Bill Skarsgard (Roman Godfrey)??  My estrogen levels are up and down with Lance Liboiron (Peter Rumancek).  He's got gorgeous eyes, but he's a little too scruffy for my liking, and I noticed he has long finger nails which is a total turn-off for me.  Also, I've read reviews that say the acting is bad.  I don't know if we're watching the same thing here because I think the acting is pretty splendid.  For me, this show is like True Blood meets The Vampire Diaries.  It's fairly graphic, from what I've seen so far (S01E02!), yet it's got the teenage appeal because the characters are still in high school.  And, SHOCKER, they actually show them in class some of the time, unlike many other shows with high school characters.  I think the primary draw for me is the overall dark, melancholic mood of the show.  I also enjoy the sadistic, narcissistic nature of the characters, and the soundtrack is amazingly spot on.  Whoever the music supervisor is for the show is an absolute genius.

I don't want to give any details in case you're planning to check it out, and I highly recommend that you do.  It's creepy, it's campy, it's dark, it's seductive and I need more of it in my life.


My Personal Guide to Austin Restaurants

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I have been working on a local restaurant guide to pass out to guests at the hotel.  Guests that aren't familiar with Austin are, of course, frequently asking where to find the best BBQ, tex-mex or brunch spot that's nearby the hotel.  I tried to keep most of the locations within a few miles of the hotel because many people that stay with us do not have cars with them and have to travel via cab or on foot.  With that said, there are many places that I just couldn't bear to leave off the list because they're just that good, so I included a few spots that are a little further outside of the downtown area.  I left out a couple of my favorites and didn't realize it until I'd already saved it as a pdf and printed it out, and I honestly just don't feel like going back in because it took me long enough to finish this thing in the first place!  So without further rambling, here it is --

Music & Memories

As you should all know by now, music is a pretty important part of my life.  In fact, it's a huge piece of my day-to-day routine.  I am constantly singing whatever song is stuck in my head at work or something someone says reminds me of a song and so on.  I've been thinking about how crazy it is that a certain song can remind you of a specific time, place and/or person, and every single time you hear it you feel like you've been transported back in time to that very moment.  As I mentioned in my last post, I've been listening to a lot of Eve 6 and other late '90s - early '00s bands as of late, and it's been taking me back to high school little by little.  Obviously, everything wasn't perfect for me high school.  (Is it for anyone really??)  But I was surrounded by some wonderful people, and I was a part of some unforgettable experiences.  It was definitely an exciting time for me for many reasons, and it's really neat to be reminded of all of those new, uncharted feelings and emotions that consumed me during that time.

Listening to Eve 6 reminds me of being fourteen.  So unimaginably ecstatic that my dad was taking me to see Eve 6, Good Charlotte and Goldfinger at the Verizon Wireless Theater in downtown Houston.

"Swallow my doubt, turn it inside out, find nothing but faith in nothing. Wanna put my tender heart in a blender, watch it spin 'round to a beautiful oblivion.  Rendezvous now I'm through with you." 

Tegan and Sara, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, We Are Scientists, The Academy Is..., Saves The Day, Dashboard Confessional, The Blood Brothers, The Killers, Bright Eyes, Thursday, Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, The Moldy Peaches, Action Action, Be Your Own Pet, She Wants Revenge, Gym Class Heroes, Something Corporate, Jack's Mannequin and so many more take me back to when I got my first car and wanted to drive EVERYWHERE with my best friend Jessica.  We would belt out those songs like we were the only two people on the planet.

"I kissed a girl with a broken jaw that her father gave to her. She had eyes bright enough to burn me. They reminded me of yours."

I feel as if I could go on and on about the music that helped to build this person that I am today, but it would honestly be never-ending.  I love that I can listen to a song and be blinded by the beautiful, everlasting memory of something that was once so meaningful to me.  It's a comforting, yet overwhelming thought for me.  And to know that I'm only making new memories connected to new songs and artists that I fall in love with each and every day is just such a perfect gift.



Watching: Dawson's Creek.  I know I am a SERIOUS late bloomer on this show, but the whole series is streaming on Netflix so I thought I would give it a try.  I'm such a sucker for TV shows, especially the extra dramatic ones with a side of teen angst.  I'm not sure why I never watched the show while it was on.  I guess I was just into other things at the time, plus I've never been a huge fan of Katie Holmes, but I am a true lover of Michelle Williams and Joshua Jackson.  I'm somewhat impartial to James Van Der Beek because I'm pretty positive this is the only thing I've ever seen him in.  I wouldn't say I'm obsessed with the show like I was with Gossip Girl.  I only watch a few episodes each week, and I never really have the urge to rush in to the next episode.  I do, however, enjoy the '90s soundtrack and attire!

Listening to: the Eve 6 Pandora station.  I'm not sure how it happened, but a few days ago I got the sudden urge to listen to my old high school favorite, Eve 6, which in turn made me want to listen to some other late '90s - early '00s favorites.  Instead of searching through Spotify for hours tracking down a bunch of old songs, I decided to open up the rarely-utilized Pandora app on my iPhone, and boy am I so happy I did!  Let me tell you.  I was JAMMIN' on my way to work that afternoon - singing every single word of the songs that came on from Blink 182, Sum 41, Lit, Everclear and so on.  Needless to say, that has been my go-to playlist every time I've gotten in the car since then.

Working on: an extensive guide to some of the best restaurants in Austin to give out to guests at the hotel.  We're constantly getting asked for bar and restaurant recommendations, and I feel like I'm always suggesting the same places over and over, and then later on I'll remember other really good places I should have recommended.  So to make it a little easier on everyone I decided to take it upon myself to type up a little (or quite long) list of places complete with hours they're open and helpful tips and suggestions for each one.  It has turned out to be quite a task, but I'm still happy with my decision to take on the project.  I know it will come in handy, and hopefully everyone (staff and guests) will find it beneficial.

Eating: lots of berries, bananas, avocados and chips and salsa!  I just can't seem to get enough chips and salsa.  I ordered some for lunch at Torchy's Tacos the other day, and since then I've made my own delicious homemade salsa and I've been snacking on it constantly!  

Loving: my new confetti mixing bowls by Zak! Designs that my mom sent me!  When I was younger and still living at home, she had a set of the mixing bowls from Crate and Barrel, and I've always been so in love with them!  I know, I know. I'm in love with mixing bowls!  NERD ALERT, but when you love to cook they are your best friends.  Anyway, I've been pining for my own set for years, but never got around to buying some.  I was so elated when I came home from work last night to a package from my mom and even more excited when I opened it and saw my brand new, beautiful set of confetti mixing bowls!

Once again, thanks to Danielle for providing the inspiration for these Currently posts.


Busy Body!

Whew!  My schedule has become super sporadic and all-over-the-place ever since I got this promotion. I just spent the last hour updating my calendar so I won't forget all of the upcoming things I have planned.  I've just been storing them in the file cabinet of my mind, trying to remind myself of everything on a daily basis so I don't forget, but this will be much easier now that it's all written down!  I always seem to underestimate the month of June.  It's just a silly little summer month; who knew I would have to cram so many things into those 30 days?  Let's see there's -- job training, Father's Day, my dad's birthday, the She & Him concert, new season premieres of The Killing, True Blood and Dexter, my girls are coming to visit, my grandparents' anniversary dinner, my best friend's birthday....and I really hope that's everything 'cause that's all I can think of.

Anyway!  Sorry I don't have time for a normal, lengthy post today, but I'll try to get one in tomorrow before work.

Hope everyone has a Saturday to remember! ;)