Sunday, October 06, 2013

How to Gain Five Pounds in Three Hours, State Fair Edition

Save for a few TX/OU games, this was my first time going to the fair as an adult. It was also the first time Joe, James, and Kristin went to the fair. Overall we had a fantastic time. Great weather, great transportation (the DART), great food, and great company. I will let the pictures do most of the explaining.
Our friendship has survived Austin, Spain, and now the State Fair of Texas!

First order of business: fried avocado fries. (Yes that is redundant.) Beer too!
Official winner of best fried food: Fried Thanksgiving Dinner

Somehow we did not fall victim to the red velvet funnel cake. There's always next year!
Fried "Awesome Nutella." Sadly, not as awesome as it sounded. 
James and I love ferris wheels so so so much! Joe and Kristin? Yeah, they totallly love them too...
View of the Midway from the Texas Star
Someone loved the Ferris Wheel!

Fried cakeballs. Good, but nowhere near the awesomeness that Meredith can produce.
Pig Races! My money was on Forrest Grunt and Elvis Hogsly. Oink Oink. 
Fried red velvet cupcakes are near! And giant tractors!
This happened. Hands down the best thing we ate.
And with that, I am now in a complete sugar-fried coma. Was it worth it? Absolutely!

I think I need a juice detox now. Fried smoothie anyone?

Life in Dallas: First Two Weeks

Once I uploaded the following pictures, I realized there is a theme to the pictures. Let's just ignore the beverages and focus on the people, cool?

My first weekend was spent hanging out with my parents and friends. Activities included dinner at Flying Fish with my parents, a run on the Katy Trail with my dad, dinner with James and Kristen at Komali, another run on the Katie trail with Natalia, and a Rangers game with my dad.

The Rangers won the last game of their season, which meant they played an additional game against Tampa Bay for a wildcard spot.  My company decided to rent a box for the game, which meant I returned to the Ballpark in Arlington on Monday night for more baseball. Admittedly I felt bad that I went without my dad considering he is a giant Rangers fan... but since they lost I didn't feel too bad.

This past weekend was awesome because Joe came to visit me! We planned to go to the fair yesterday, but thanks to some rain and cold weather we opted to postpone the fair until today. Instead we went to the Cottonwood Art Festival before picking up my parents and eating lunch at Hattie's in the Bishop Arts District. It was fun to explore Bishop Arts, especially because it feels like a little piece of Austin inside Dallas.  Neither Joe nor I were up for doing much else, so we stayed in that evening and joined my dad in a beer tasting. (Having a dad in the the beer/wine industry is pretty great!)
It's been a fun two weeks, and I must admit that I am really enjoying Dallas! Of course, it's much better when Joe comes to visit, but even so it's a pretty cool city. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

First Day!

Today was my first day back at work since last August, and my first day working a real full-time job since May 2011.  Luckily I had some energy to get me through it.
Alright, I didn't actually eat these. But I do love that Joe's brother and sister-in-law gave me $100 grand on my payday.  So clever. In reality, I didn't have to be at work until 9:30 so I was able to hit the gym with my dad and knock out a quick 5K to get my energy up. (I figured it might be the only time that happened, so I better take advantage!)

Today felt so much different than any other first day I have had because I was already at this company last summer.  The typical first-day nerves about how to get to work, where to park, where to go, what to wear, who to talk to, etc... were nonexistent. Since we are training I still have a few days to work up my nerves for the actual work itself. 

My favorite part so far? Reuniting with the other interns from last summer has been wonderful - they are awesome people and make working here so much better. It's like they are family!

After a full day of training and dinner with the new consulting class, I came home to chat with my dad for a few minutes while sharing my leftover dessert from the dinner.  Then I was lucky enough to skype with this guy. 
All around it was a great first day. That being said, I am exhausted and plan to be asleep by 10:45pm. Tomorrow is another jam packed day, and I will take all the rest I can. I definitely feel like I'm in the calm before the storm!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Now What Part II

At the beginning of the summer (on May 22 to be exact) I wrote the following post: Now What? I honestly have no idea how fourth months have passed, but here I am about to start work and begin a new adventure headquartered in Dallas.

In that post, I had a few goals.
1) Take Spanish lessons in Austin.  Well, that didn't happen. I certainly made some attempts, and even registered for Spanish lessons but they were cancelled by the provider. Spanish was not meant to be this summer, and that's okay by me.

2) Learn Excel like a pro.  Unfortunately I am no Excel pro either. I made attempts here and there, bought a book, downloaded exercises, and completed my employee training. But I feel like I need to be using it to learn it, and I really had no reason to use it this summer. Again, that's okay by me. (I may be regretting this soon though!)

3) Spend a ton of time with my dogs + Joe.  Success!!! (As I write this Sam is sleeping at my feet.)

4) Do physical activity at least 5-6/week, but with some requirements.  Success!! Thanks to a few influencers (Katy, Marisa, James, Chris) I made it to either Camp Gladiator, Gold's Gym, the Mueller pool, or Town Lake almost every day.  Running wise, I even got up to a 15 mile long run! I feel strong and healthy.  That was my biggest goal of all, and somehow I got there. Of course there is way more I could do, but I am happy to say that I lost the MBA + Europe baggage and am motivated to keep it up. I do have a half marathon to do in December, so I have accountability.  By the way, I am a giant believer in orthotics. My podiatrist made my summer.

4) Fourth goal: I had all kinds of ideas and actually tried quite a few of them. I would say the biggest thing I achieved was writing two e-books! My Shark Tank book is out, and my Barcelona guide book is on its way. Wahoo! I am so thankful I had the opportunity to work with my friend Tanya as she ramped her publishing business.

5) Scuba certification. Knocked that out at the beginning of the summer! Now I just need to go diving. 

So those where my goals. 3/5 ain't bad.  Aside from "goals" I also was able to travel like crazy.
1) Dallas multiple times
2) Birmingham for Girl's Weekend
3) East Coast road trip with Angie
4) Weekend in NYC with Angie
5) Port Aransas with the Walsh family
6) San Diego with my parents (and Rachel!)
7) Mustang Island camping with Joe, Frank, and Michelle
8) Santa Fe with Joe

Not bad!!

As I look back at my summer, I am just so grateful that I had this time in Austin.  Even though I was here during school, I never really felt "here" because I was living in a student world. Over the past four months, I've been able to reconnect with Joe, my friends, my family, my puppies, and Austin. I've been amazed at how easy it is to pick right back up with people.  I also have been able to rest and recover and regroup before my next adventure. I realize how much of a blessing having so much pressure-less time in one's hometown is, and I feel like I made the most of it.

I am obviously sad to leave Austin. However, I have no doubt that I will be back. (I mean, I have to come back at least once a month because Joe + Puppies are here!) Tomorrow I "move" to Dallas and I am in the best mental and physical place I could be to do it. I would say my summer was a giant success.

So we begin!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Santa Fe Art Roundup

As promised... a roundup of my favorite artists on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. (In no particular order.) Sorry there aren't pictures, but I'm trying to respect copyright. Besides, looking comprehensively at each artist's work is more interesting.

1. Geoffrey Gorman

2. Kelly Moore

3. Rebecca Haines

4. John Maisano

5. Jeffrey Schweitzer

6. Britt Freda

7. Juan Kelly

8. Erin Cone
*One day, one day!!!! (Another One Lost)

Favorite Gallery: Nuart Gallery
*I have a feeling I will drop some $$$ here once I have stable paychecks again!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Do you know the way... to Santa Fe?

When Joe and I booked our trip to Santa Fe back in June, it felt like such a long way away. Of course, before I knew it, it was here. This trip was the signal that my last weekend before heading to Dallas and starting the new career had arrived. Gulp. 

Anyway, on to the trip recap! Our first stop was Albuquerque, because that's where Southwest flies. We flew out late on Friday so that we would be ready to go on Saturday morning. Before we headed to Santa Fe, we detoured to see a famous television landmark. Think Joe was excited?

No Walt sightings! (But plenty of drive-by tourists!)

Our first stop in Santa Fe was the infamous Canyon Road, which is a half mile stretch of hundreds of galleries/shops/restaurants/awesomeness. Guess who was in happy town?
Who's so happy on Canyon Road? This girl! This guy! And some red metal creature!

I had to take a picture with a horse, of course.
I don't mean to brag, but I well, I will. Knowing that the Texas A&M / Alabama game was on while we were on Canyon Road, I encourage Joe to watch the game at a restaurant bar while I kept exploring. This worked out perfectly, and I managed to see all the galleries I wanted to. If I have time I will post a "Favorites of Canyon Road" recap.  After we checked in to our hotel, we took naps and then explored the town square before grabbing dinner at The Shed.

Our Sunday started with a drive to the San Marcos Feed Store and Cafe, recommended by the "36 Hours in Santa Fe" article in the New York Times. (Love those articles!) It was a great find, and the food was incredible.  I can't remember the last time I had a cinnamon role, but I'm pretty sure this was way better. 

This totally counts as fuel for hiking. Totally.

After stuffing ourselves, we walked around the restaurant/store to see chickens, turkeys and peacocks before taking a drive down the Turquoise Trail in search of hiking options.  Not finding any, we returned to Santa Fe and spent the next three hours on the Atalaya Mountain Trail. What we thought was going to be a nice two mile jaunt turned out to be a little strenuous! But it was totally worth it as the views were incredible. (And I had a giant cinnamon role to work off!)
They really should rename this "Easier" route.

We made it to the top! And we balanced our camera on a rock! Success!

That evening we went to dinner at the restaurant inside La Fonda. Once again, we ate way too much but the food was incredible. Tableside quacamole + squash blossoms + a cashew cake + chile rellenos + chocolate malt mousse. Yeah, all that happened.

On Monday, we went to breakfast at the town favorite Pasquale's. You would think we would have gone easy on food, but no... the New Mexican cooking was too powerful for our feeble resistance! After breakfast we walked to the O'Keefe Museum, then around the square a bit more, and then decided we had properly seen Santa Fe. 

On our way back to the ABQ airport, we went for another Breaking Bad landmark siting (Jesse's house) and grabbed lunch at Mary & Tito's. Chicken sopapilla for my last New Mexican feast? Yes please!
And with that, Joe and I have checked off another vacation. It was truly a wonderful way to spend my last free funemployed weekend, and I definitely hope to come back.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Reframe! Or even better, Reroof!

A funny thing happened Sunday morning. A giant pecan tree at my rental house broke in half and decided to visit the roof and attic of the master bedroom.  Maybe after looking over the roof for so long, the tree decided it was time to make a move?  Hehe.

Why is this funny? First, it is funny because the day prior Joe and I had visited the house to determine whether it was in need of tree-trimming. It wasn't.  Second, I *just* switched insurance companies which also increased the deductible by about $1,000. (Funny, I thought I was being smart by raising the property value and paying $20 more per month for insurance. Turns out that cost me for more than $20/month!)  Third, we had found damage on the front of the house the prior day... and if the tree in the front had fallen, I could have killed two issues with one fallen tree!

Alas, when it comes down to it - this is just one of those things that comes with home ownership. I've been very lucky with this house, and frankly a mild disaster was probably due.  So I think I reframe is in order!

1. As I said, I have been super lucky not to have bigger issues at the house.
2. I am not yet working so I have time to deal with this!
3. Speaking of dealing with it, Joe stepped up and is putting his PMP certification to work. By that, I mean that he is the one in charge, he's doing all the work, and I am so very thankful for that!
4. I have insurance!
5. My tenant is awesome and making this easy to deal with.
6. No one got hurt!
7. The contractor brought us farm eggs from his chickens. So that was tasty.
8. I'm getting a paycheck soon, and I know exactly what I will be doing with it!
9. Mmmmm, smoked pecan anyone?
10. It's a project. And we all know I'm a project person.  Plus it distracts me from doing excel training. 

So there we go. I'm letting the inklings of frustration go and doing my best to reframe.

Friday, August 30, 2013


Holy moly. I only have three weeks left in Austin!

I must admit, I've been feeling pretty blue about leaving lately.  I know, I know, Joe and the pups will still be here. My permanent address is here. But in reality, I am moving to Dallas and there really isn't anyway to sugarcoat that I won't call Austin home for the next few years. 

Time for a Reframe?! Yes, okay.

On the positive side, in addition to the facts that I am moving because I have a wonderful job and  I will get to see my parents so much more, it's a FANTASTIC thing that Austin is so hard to leave.  If I didn't have such an amazing, full life here - completely filled with people I love - I wouldn't be so sad. And I wouldn't trade my life or the people in it for anything.

So, for all of my talk about wanting to move... Now that I am about to leave, I can't imagine calling any place but Austin home. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Adding "Author" to the Resume

Remember when I wrote that I was going to write a book for BabyBird Guide? Well... I wrote it!

Here it is, here it is!
To prove its legitimacy, here are a few articles about it:

Austin Business Journal: Beating the Sharks

Upstart Business Journal: "Want to go for a swim?"

Austin Business Journal: Lights Camera Revenue

*Updated: Austin I-Lab Radio Interview: Shark Tank

I can now add "author" to my resume, which is pretty darn cool. Much cooler than I expected.  Thanks for the accountability, blog!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What Motivates You?

Recently I've been having conversations with people stemming from the question "What motivates you?" How do some people end up super successful while others falter. What keeps some people going beyond adversity? What does motivation even mean? And is it nature, or nurture, or both?

Before I was born, my parents decided that they would provide me as many opportunities as they could AND be as supportive of me as possible.  Hopefully this blog has made clear that I have them to thank for the things I have experienced in life. Anyway, I found the card they gave me when I graduated with my BBA from McCombs in 2001.   It made me smile because they could have given me the same card earlier this year.

"But most important, remember to have fun, keep healthy, and be happy."

"Enjoy your life. In the long run, that is what counts and is what you remember."

When I think about what motivates me, perhaps the biggest component is the drive to make my parents proud.  Twelve years after receiving this card, I have definitely followed their advice.  As I start a new stage of my life, I aim to still be the person that my dad pictures me: "Be happy and loving everyday." 

Motivation at its finest.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Because I Choose To...

Long story short: I lost my new orthotics. The very orthotics that have given me new hope in the world - hope that I can walk pain free again, that I can actually be a runner, that I can justify a $600 expense for my feet!  Somehow, between my front door and my car, they have disappeared. I have spent the last 3.5 days extremely frustrated about it.  (Joe may have other words to describe my droning and complaining, but I will stick with frustrated.) I am so clueless as to where they might be, that I have even considered the possibility that ghosts stole my shoes.

During our morning run, Katy told me a story about a lady who had lived in a Japanese internment camp and lost her baby.  When Katy asked her why she was such a positive, wonderful person without resentment or bitterness, her friend told her "because I choose to."


Life is like that. You can choose to do/be/think/act however you wish.  

While it's a much much much much almost laughable non-comparably-much less big deal than Katy's friend, I have a choice here. I can choose to be frustrated... or I can choose to order new orthotics and go about my business.  Guess which one I choose.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Feelin' Crafty, Part II

Previously I mentioned the bedroom painting mishap of 2011. Lesson learned: paint samples are your friends! At least I had fun with the color!
Anyway, Joe and I finally decided to repaint and cover the blue.  While we were trying to decide a new paint color, we primed the wall with grey paint. Much to our surprise, we really liked the grey! And thus... painting was complete!

I used the leftover grey primer and tester paint to fulfill my Pinterest dreams of making easy artwork. Ta-Da! Now our bedroom looks so much better!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Makin' Stuff & Feelin' Crafty

For the past few weeks, I have been tackling one of my biggest fears: cooking. Thanks to some not-so-subtle yet needed hints from Joe, and a batch-cooking partnership with my friend Marisa, I am slowly getting over my fear of the kitchen.  It's quite an empowering feeling, I must say! I don't know that it will be sustainable once work starts, but until then I'm quite enjoying trying out recipes and getting to know my kitchen a bit more.  For example, today Marisa and I made coconut nut chicken tenders with a mango dijon dipping sauce, moroccan turkey meatballs, and sweet potato breakfast hash.
Delicious and freezable!
So this is what a food processor does. Who knew?!

So much deliciousness! Is it breakfast yet?!
Building upon this "making stuff" theme, I've also been feeling crafty lately. I busted out my robot-making box a few days ago and put it to use when Joe's nephew came over one day.
With the end result being projects like this.
One day I got pretty bored with paint chips...
But honestly, it was because there is a bigger project in mind...

The blue that has resided on our bedroom back wall was a result of an impulse paint purchase from home depot. Time for a change... all inspired by desire to make some art! All I need to do now is learn how to use a paint roller.

Some *might* say it's time for me to start working again. Honestly, I am not sure I could argue that!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

San Diego Photo Dump!

I now present a short recap from our family vacation in San Diego! Because I ever so brilliantly packed my camera, and then forgot where I packed it, these photos are courtesy of my phone. They also mainly feature food, as that was generally the highlight of our days!

Upon arriving on Sunday, we grabbed lunch at the Broken Yolk Cafe in Paradise Beach before heading to our hotel, the Paradise Point.  I selected this hotel because it reminded me a bit of Hawaii - it was on its own island, had numerous pools, activities, dining spots, and a gym. While it was a bit spendy, it was worth it due to the aforementioned amenities.   That evening my dad and I ventured out in search of seafood, and after attempting to go to the Pacific Beach Fish House, we ended up at Fat Fish.

Monday was spent exploring San Diego.  We started with brunch at my favorite, Hash House A Go Go. I dream of this place, so it was fitting that we started things off here. Luckily I knew enough to split two breakfasts between the three of us, but it was still food overload. Glorious, glorious overload.
Next we headed to Balboa Park. We walked around the rose gardens before making our way to Spanish Village.

My parents picked out a beautiful painting at one of the studios, and then we headed downtown.  My dad, in his unbeknownst to him quest to see every ballpark in the US, was quite happy to stop at Petco Park.
After this stop, we headed to Coronado Island for a while and then back to the hotel to swim with Rachel and Elie before heading to Enoteca Adriano for a delicious Italian dinner. Who loves no-corkage fees? We do, we do!

On Tuesday we headed to Solana Beach and did some shopping in the Cedros Design District.  We spent another afternoon by the pool, and then my dad and I braved the crowds at Pacific Beach Fish Shop to have some of the most delicious fish tacos ever.  We had to energize for our following day at the San Diego Zoo!

We started early on Thursday and headed to La Jolla. The highlight was the infamous "Coast Toast" at Brockton Villa.  I will definitely be attempting to recreate this masterpiece at home! Think my dad liked it? "Best french toast ever!" he proclaimed!
As for me, I tried to steer a bit to the "healthier" side with an egg white/soy chorizo scramble.
We spent the morning walking around the beach, admiring the famous seals, and exploring art galleries. I would love to come back here and go kayaking with the seals!  Or live in a house here. Either would be fine. I'm not picky.

Guess what we did that afternoon? Pool time!!! I was happy we had a room by the adults-only pool.
That evening, Rachel picked me up for a wine-tasting event at a hotel in La Jolla. We stayed for a while before venturing to Roppongi and sharing appetizers, including these diver scallops on potato latkes.  We followed it up with dessert nearby. All efforts at eating well stopped at this point of the trip!
Friday morning included brunch at Mission Cafe, and unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the delicious strawberry banana pancake stack we shared.  Next we visited Rachel's house and admired her amazing design skills and fantastic children's book collection.  It was so fun to see the actual house after seeing so many pictures of it.

Our last big adventure of the week was a visit to Stone Brewing Company. Although it was a bit of a drive for us, we figured it was worth it to visit the most famous of San Diego's breweries.  (Selfishly, I also had decided that Joe needed an "Arrogant Bastard" t-shirt. Because nothing says irony like calling Joe an arrogant bastard.)

My dad and I headed to dinner at Tractor House, a sister restaurant of Hash House A Go Go. After stuffing ourselves with beer, burgers/fries, salmon, green beans, and corn bread... we decided that we were over our food adventure.  This night created a giant food coma for us both.

Saturday was a pretty lazy day.  However, a highlight was getting to walk the bay with Dorine in the morning! She had seen my zoo post on Facebook and checked to see if I would still be in town. It was great to catch up with her, especially with San Diego as the backdrop.  Later my dad and I tried to utilize the resort's entertainment, including croquet and basketball. For all the times I've won at Scrabble, my dad showed me who was boss at physical sports.

That evening we went to the Prado in Balboa Park.  We had enough time to wander around the lily ponds and snap some pictures before enjoying a terrific meal and dessert.  My dad and I had apparently forgotten that we were over our food adventures.  And thus begun "food coma part two."

My mom wanted a fancy brunch to celebrate our last day of vacation. We tried to eat at Snooze, but were thwarted with a two hour (!!!) wait. We ended up at Babycakes instead and then spent some time driving through Little Italy and along the harbor.
That evening, I went with the Wellands to Dante Enoteca for dinner part one. Rachel surprised me by bringing the babies from Jenna's baby shower to dinner.
Before my parents ventured back to Little Italy for dinner part two, I relaxed for a while and spent time reflecting on the trip.  I had a wonderful time with my parents! Our last family vacation (a Paris/Rome combo in 2000) was not exactly a smooth one, even though it was a great trip. (Put a 20 year old and her mom together for two weeks... recipe for one stressed out dad!) But this one went swimmingly. Because of all of our pool time? He he. Good to see I've grown up over the last 13 years, huh?
It was also wonderful to hang out with Rachel and her family, and I can't wait to visit again! San Diego Family Vacation was a great success!