Thursday, August 27, 2009

Food, Favorites, Fantastic Frocks... (F)etc.

I have several friends who love to cook. Some stick to simple recipes while others use ingredients I can't pronounce. I always feel like I'm a few steps behind. A part of me wants to catch up and the other part could care less. Fortunately, Michael married me for reasons other than my cooking (he eats green beans out of the can for crying out loud) so it's not an issue. But this week I have been pretty proud of myself: I actually made real meals. Not only that, I did that thing where I said, "Hmm, I think it needs a pinch of this" and just went with it. And it tasted pretty darn good! It's a bit like exercise, once I start I kind of want to keep it up. We're on a very strict budget right now so it's also a bit of a challenge--what can I make out of what we already have? Anyway, I'm mainly writing about this so I can look back in a few years and know that at least one week of my life I loved to cook.

No other news really. With that in mind, I think I will share with you my 2nd Annual Favorites List. You're on the edge of your seat aren't you? Thought so.

Once again, in no particular order....

1. Neutrogena Acne Stress Control Face Scrub

In my 27 years on God's green earth, I've been blessed with pretty good skin. I'm not talking texture or color (I wish), I just mean I never had to deal with acne. And then something changed around the first week of March and BAM! Acne! I wasn't able to put it together but my mom politely told me I might be a tiny bit stressed about our current situation and that could be the reason for my adult onset puberty. I didn't really think stress could do that but I saw this stuff and figured it was worth a shot. GLOOOOORIOUS! It worked like a charm, smells SO good, and I am officially addicted. So is Michael. I highly recommend it.

2. A lit'l bit o' heaven

Ok, everyone knows I love cake (sans people asking if Keller has pooped, thank you very much). After almost every meal I think to myself, "You know what would make this meal complete? A piece of cake." I don't need a huge piece, just a little something. Baking a cake every week seemed a bit ridiculous and then I saw these. 30 seconds in the microwave. 150 calories. So good. Sidenote: there's a reason they're only 150 calories--the entire thing is about 4 bites. (Maybe 6 if you take tiny bites. Or maybe what I consider "tiny bites" are normal bites for most people? Gaaaah I love cake.) Regardless, it's just enough to fill my craving after a meal. And it won't cause severe weight gain, which is always a nice bonus.

3. This dress:

I don't know what it is with this dress, but I want to go buy it and wear it with flats one day and boots the next. It's not a very Meredith dress and I think that's one of the reasons I love it. Every time I see a dress at Anthropologie I have to ask myself if I can pull it off and most of the time I sigh and decide that no, I absolutely can't. And this might be the same. But since we're all friends and friends are supposed to lie to you occasionally, let us all pretend I can pull it off remarkably well. Thanks, friends.

4. Arizona Sweet Tea

Where have you been all my life? How did I grow up in Arkansas and Oklahoma and not discover you until Texas? I could drink you all day. And lately I have.

5. Harry Pottah

I was J.K. Rowling's biggest critic. I saw the first HP movie at the theater and despised it. Absolutely hated it. From them on, I refused to read the books or watch the movies. I actually laughed at anyone who enjoyed such a ridiculous plot. Michael has seen all of the movies and decided to read the series this summer and seeing that I had plenty of time on my hands, I begrudgingly agreed to read them with him. Holy cow, people. Harry Pottah, will you marry me? These books are absolutely amazing. Her creativity is mind boggling and I read approximately 20,000 pages in 3 weeks. If you have yet to read them, go. Go now. Stop reading Merd's top 5 and go NOW. I promise you won't regret it. I can't say the same about the movies, I regretted several of them (we would read a book and then watch the correlating movie) but the last few were pretty good.

And there you have it, my top 5 of 2009. As soon as I hit "publish" I'm going to think of something else, but such is life.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Not Your Normal Dinner Convo

As soon as Michael walked through the door Friday evening we loaded up the car and drove to Fort Smith to spend the weekend with my parents. I can't remember the last time we visited and it was definitely time. As we got closer I became more and more excited, to the point that I was singing and dancing on the final leg of the trip. (This was also to keep myself up, as it was late and dark. And my companion was nodding off at a very fast rate.) There is something so wonderful about visiting the place you grew up. It doesn't mean I want to move back (I always see a slight panic in Michael's eyes every time I point out a favorite place), but it does make me realize I had a great childhood in a fantastic place.

Saturday was spent looking at granite and backsplash with my mom (they are about to re-do their kitchen) and then driving all over Fort Smith to check out venues for our reunion. We also stopped by Southside (high school) and I was blown away by all of the updates. Fellow SHSers, go by and check it out. New windows, new landscaping, new parking lots, new $18k modern structure that doesn't really fit in with the whole "high school" theme but still looks pretty neat.

We played a somewhat friendly game of Trivial Pursuit Saturday evening and the parents ended up winning. BARELY. Michael was the shining star on our team. I refuse to go into specific details, but I will say that after the game was over my mom pulled out the globe and gave me an intense geography lesson. Oops.

We drove back last night and made it just in time for Keller's 4th birthday party (Keller is our nephew). Little did we know we would receive a lesson in parenting. We'd just finished dinner and the cupcakes had been served when Keller quietly disappeared. After several minutes we noticed the birthday boy was gone and then heard the toilet flush. "Oh, very well then," I thought, and went back to enjoying my cupcake. And then I heard it. So nonchalant, so typical, so disgusting (especially whilst at the dinner table). "Keller, did you poop? Did you poop, Keller?" Michael and I gave each other horrified looks and then did the only thing we could do... waited for Keller's answer. After a good minute (and 14 more "Did you poop, Keller? Keller did you poop?"), it was determined that yes, he did poop, and the parents were off to take care of business. No one batted an eye, no one put down their cupcake... it was as if they'd simply asked him if he'd gone to the mall. I had an immediate flash-forward of Michael and I saying the same thing to our kids, which led to a full body shudder.

As we were leaving, Michael's mom tried to send us home with some cupcakes but for the first time in my life I said no. For some reason they no longer sounded appetizing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Way Back Wednesday--TU Edition

On Monday, TU welcomed the freshman class to campus. I saw this information on facebook and felt a surge of nerves and excitement--the same feeling I had when I was the little guy on campus. I was also utterly disgusted when I realized this is the class of 2013. What the heck?

In keeping with that theme, I found some pictures from my first semester freshman year. The year? 2000. The clothes? Dreadful. The friends? Amazing.

Meet my very first roommate, Summer. This picture was taken in our fabulous dorm room in Twin South. Cinder blocks just add so much to a room, don't you think? We took being roommates very seriously. We had a wipe board that announced our whereabouts at all times (including, "I've gone to the coke machine, will be back soon"). If we didn't leave a message, we were sure to receive a call on our gigantic cell phone.

Melissa was my first friend at TU--we met on our freshman orientation trip. We were in the same group and became friends almost immediately. I say almost because the first few days were spent eyeing each other from afar and thinking the other was "so cool." (She did have a tongue ring after all.) This picture was taken at Emily's (see below) 19th birthday celebration held at Chili's.

And the last picture is with my friend Emily. Summer and I made an immediate decision not to like her because she was so freaking outgoing and we didn't care for that. Not one bit. Then we met her and changed our mind (mind = singular--we had one mind that year). This picture was taken at the Sigma Chi formal, which was held at Grand Lake. Remember when I mentioned my first introduction to a straightener? Yep, it was this girl who did it. She changed my life--how could we NOT be friends?

I'm sure you're wondering, "Where's Kaitlin?" I'll tell you where. Twin Towers with her other friends. :) We did not become good friends until sophomore year due to some incorrect theories about one another. So I apologize Kait, but the only picture I have involves lots (and lots) of cheese as well as some fierce sideburns, so I thought I might keep that one to myself. Perhaps I will dedicate the next WBW to you. :)

Let's quit our jobs (ahaha, that was supposed to be funny for me) and be freshman again. Who's with me?

(Kappa Sigma Riverboat...)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Seven Flags Over Texas

So I said I wouldn't discuss the details of my job adventures, but I felt this one was worth sharing.

On Sunday I found a very basic ad in the Dallas newspaper. By basic, I mean ridiculous. No name, no address, just a phone number and a very general explanation of the job. But hey, this gal needs a job! I called yesterday and left a message. A lady called back a few hours later and asked a few questions about my background and then said, "Can you come in this afternoon or tomorrow?" I was a bit flustered and told her tomorrow (today) would be better. She asked me to bring a resume.

Red flag 1: Who asks you to come in for an interview before they've seen your resume?

So I hang up and shrug my shoulders. Weird, but I guess it was my friendly voice and consummate charm that won them over. :) Michael came home and I told him about the interview as well as the location. He raised his eyebrows and gave a low whistle.

Red flag 2: When your optimistic husband raises his eyebrows and gives a low whistle, that is not good.

Turns out this location is not close to our house (30 miles) and is also in a rough area of Dallas. Last night I started feeling really weird about the whole thing and mentioned to Michael, "Ya know, it's a little scary isn't it? Any serial killer could put an ad in the paper and lure innocent, young funemployeds to a deserted location..." He told me to skip the interview but I blamed my paranoia on just finishing the final Harry Potter book (more about THAT later)!

Red flag 3: Possible interview with a serial killer. (And after driving 30 miles, no less!)

This morning I woke up early and ran several errands so I could dedicate the afternoon to the job interview. I left an hour early and as I was driving I kept fearing the worst. After I turned onto the street I noticed Michael was right: The area was seedy. But it was worse than that.

Red flag 4: Job location in a seedy area...

Red flag 5: in a deserted strip mall....

Red flag 6: with blacked out windows.

Aw HELL no. I drove past it not once, not twice, but four times. Each time I kept looking for a silver lining but realized I was actually looking for a silver bullet to come flying through my window. I know I have no right to be picky right now but this was too much. I went back and forth on whether I was going to go in and then remembered I would be filling out an application that would ask for my address, social security number, etc. After discussing it with Michael (who said "Absolutely not!") and then hearing the same statement from my mom, I did an about face and headed home.

I didn't want to be a complete jerk so I called the place to let them know I was not going to make it. It was then that I noticed their message did not give the name of the company.

Red flag 7: If your voice message does not include the name of your company, you are most assuredly a serial killer.

So 7 red flags later (and I believe I'm being generous, in my head I counted 13), I am back at home, still unemployed, but alive. And that? Makes all the difference.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Is That A Butterfly In The Sky?

Let's get this party started, shall we?

Growing up, did you ever buy a cd (or cassette, I'm not judging) and listen to the entire thing, only to find a certain song that you really loved? To take it one step further, that song you loved... no one else really knew about it. It didn't immediately become a hit, it wasn't played on every radio station, it was simply your secret. And then, that dreadful day came. The day you woke up to it playing on the radio, and suddenly... suddenly it became mainstream and your secret was exposed to millions of greedy listeners. Maybe it's just me (and I'm quite confident I'm being a little extreme with this), but what a terrible feeling.

I feel the same way about great books that turn into movies. One of my very favorite books hits theaters today and I'm not going to lie, a part of me is crushed. The Time Traveler's Wife. I wish I could describe to you the brilliance of this book. I have a problem with getting so involved in a storyline that I dread reading the last chapter because I know my connection with the characters is about to break. This book was no exception. Oh how I adored it. And now I'm terrified of it becoming "just another movie," because folks, it is definitely not "just another book." So plea #1: Read this book. By all means, go see the movie as well, but read it.

Along the same lines, please allow me to mention one other book: Love Walked In. After I finished it, my immediate thought was to turn to chapter 1 and read it all over again (sidenote: I have now read it 3 times, though not in immediate succession). The characters are so real, the writing is brilliant, and I have never felt such a close connection to any storyline. I'm telling you now because I believe they are making this jewel into a movie as well and my treasured secret just might become a red carpet success. So! I'd rather share this book with you now so you'll understand my ridiculous love affair with a work of fiction.

To make it easier for you, just CLICK HERE and then CLICK HERE. Or you can find both at your local library. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Good Times

I spent this past weekend at Grand Lake with several college friends. Michael had to work and was not able to come until Friday night so I drove up Thursday afternoon and was able to have an extra day with everyone. We had a blast!

I've learned that a lake vacation is just as laid-back as a beach vacation. We were all up around 9a each day but we were never able to get on the water until noon. Oh well, less chance of skin cancer (which was discussed numerous times on this trip--we are so old).

Friday afternoon, we reached Dripping Springs and dropped our anchor (DELTA GAMMA! PINK!!!!! AHHHH!) and then the boys decided to cliff jump. I kept warning everyone about the possibility of floating branches/tree trunks, which have killed many people, but no one listened to me. After the men jumped, Summer decided she also wanted to give it a go. She asked all of us, (I murmured "tree trunks") but she convinced her husband to go with her. After she jumped she said she wanted to go again and this time I finally gave in. It was actually a lot of fun! I was glad I did it, don't think I ever need to do it again. Carpe Diem, folks.

Then we all took a turn on Big Mable (who was later referred to as "that bitch"), which was a fun albeit painful experience for some of us. Summer found out later she'd received a concussion from that bitch. Emily and I went together and made a pact that neither of us was going to be the tough guy and as soon as we felt the need to go, we were going to just let go, man. And that we did.

Michael and I continued our summer of separate vacations as he called Friday and sounded like I had the past few days. Sick, sick, SICK. He'd stayed very late at work on Friday and was talking about coming up Saturday morning at 5a. I convinced him to stay at home and rest, therefore making myself the 7th or 9th (depending on the day) wheel yet again. Just a reassurance, we do love each other very much and actually enjoy spending time TOGETHER, it has just been a rough few weeks.

Each night we played Catch Phrase or Taboo and I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard (yes I realize that is so cliche but it's true--my voice was gone for 4 days and I know it was due to the insane shouting and laughing). I love my friends. I will share one example. One of the guys (who shall remain nameless to protect his identity and intelligence) had to describe Nelson Mandela. He laughed and said, "Ok, I know I'm supposed to know who this is but I don't" (keep in mind, none of us knew what word he had). One sentence background info for those of you like my friend: Nelson Mandela was the former president of South Africa. He broke apart the name and got the boys to come up with "Man" and "Delta" before time ran out. The girls couldn't think of anything so he told us the answer. This wouldn't have been so funny except that Steve (Summer's husband) is FROM South Africa and had been sitting directly across from him, guessing the entire time. It was awesome. I don't think Steve was as amused.

Sunday evening my parents were driving back from Florida as I was driving back from the lake and our paths crossed so we pulled off at Atoka, Oklahoma (population 4) and had dinner together. I told them about the cliff jumping to which my dad replied, "Haven't you heard about floating tree trunks?" I couldn't help but laugh. I am not laughing now, as I have a major bruise on my left leg that occurred whilst jumping and I am now thinking I might have found one of those blasted trunks. Hmm...

And there you have it. Lake Trip 2009, which we have all decided will become an annual event. Although I'm not sure Big Mable will be invited again...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Florida & Way Back Wednesday

And I'm back! Our vacation was fantastic! However, it was the first time I was not highly depressed on the last day. Not to get all corny on you, but vacations sans husband are just not as fun. Every time someone said something funny, I wanted him to be there to hear it, and every time I said something stupid (which happens more than I care to admit), I expected his oh so loving voice to call me out on my ridiculousness. So while I had a terrific time with the entire family, I was pretty ecstatic to see him at the airport Saturday night.

I can't say much about the trip because we purposefully don't DO much. Most families have big plans each day, whereas we look at it as a true vacation. You wake up, you go to the pool/beach, you eat lunch, you take a cat nap, you go back to the pool/beach, you eat dinner, you chat, you go to sleep, and repeat. It's glorious! We all had a great time with Evan and each other. I might have complained 498 times about sleeping on the couch but really, who wouldn't? All in all, fabulous trip.

Unfortunately, I woke up Monday with either allergies or a bad cold and have been coughing/sneezing/ and er... other gross stuff ever since. Have you heard me sneeze? If you live in Texas, the past few days have not been earthquakes. On no, they have been aftershocks from yours truly. Thumbs wants nothing to do with me as I have frightened her multiple times. Even Michael looks at me a bit peculiarly. Needless to say, I'm ready to be healthy again.

A few pictures from the trip. If you want to see more, CLICK HERE. Don't worry, I did not post all 466 of them. Apparently when you have a 9-month old with you, you become the paparazzi.

And since this is Way Back Wednesday, two pictures for you. The first goes with the theme of this post and was taken at Sanibel 10 years ago. Don't worry, I discovered the hair straightener exactly one year later (thank you Emily H) so I did not spend my entire freshman year in college with poofy hair. Yeesh.

Also! A great friend of mine celebrated her 5-year anniversary a few weeks ago so here's a tribute to her! Leslie is the beautiful bride, and Julie is the beautiful bridesmaid (does she look familiar? Look up!).

Whew! Enough pictures! Enjoy the rest of your day!


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