Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy St. Andrew's Day!

Today is St. Andrew's Day, the national day of Scotland. St. Andrew became the patron Saint of Scotland around the 10th century. The town of St. Andrew's houses a world famous golf course and the University which Prince William and Kate attended.

It's not quite as festive as St. Patrick's Day, but Jonathan and I will definitely be toasting to a free Scotland tonight. In honor of the most beautiful country in the world, here are some pictures to inspire you. WARNING: they are contagious and travel bug may result.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Best Day Ever Hall of Fame

I mentioned earlier that Saturday was among one of my best days ever. Good enough to deserve it's own blog post. Well here it is. I woke up early to snag a 7 mile run before my morning facial. Then, it was off to the Houston Zoo. I’ve been waiting to go to the Zoo since we moved here a year ago, but our schedules or the weather just hadn’t cooperated until this weekend. It was such a great date. Seriously, is there anything more romantic than Elephant babies, Red Pandas, and Orangutans? I think not. When we first entered the Zoo we were faced with the impossible decision of what to see first. There were tons of signs with tempting little tidbits like ‘Big Cats’, ‘African Safari’, ‘Reptiles’, ‘Primates’ and of course ‘Hoofed Animals’(Because really, what is a Zoo without a ‘Hoofed Animals’ exhibit?). Jonathan instantly declared that he didn’t even really like Hoofed Animals so we skipped them and headed straight for the big cats. And that’s where we found Jonathan’s animal kingdom soul mate, conveniently also named Jonathan.

Jonathan the lion is described as “vocal, attention seeking, expert nap-taker”. Hmmm…

Actually, the resemblance is quite striking.

While the Big Cats slept, we made our way to the Primates. I am always astonished by the Chimpanzees and how human-like they are. Two of them were entertaining the kids by clapping their feet, beating on the glass, jumping up and down and LAUGHING. Their distinct personalities and individualism were amazing to watch. For instance, not all Chimpanzees are extroverts craving attention. In fact, Jonathan wasn’t the only one with a doppelganger at the Houston Zoo.

Nope, we spotted my twin as well, off in a corner, snuggled in a blanket, just trying to get some peace and quiet. I was seriously waiting for her to plop in a Gilmore Girls DVD and settle in for an afternoon nap.

But of course, the crowning moment of our Zoo experience was feeding the giraffes. Here I am, living the dream, feeding lettuce to Miles.
And if the day had ended there it would have been complete, but there was much more perfection to come. After feeding Miles, we also felt hungry and so went for lunch at Brown Bag Deli in Rice Village. I just love their tuna salad sandwiches, mostly for their buttery honey-wheat rolls. Yum! And since we were already in Rice Village, we might as well do some shopping right? After loading up on MAC cosmetics, we headed home for a power nap. Then it was off to Thairapy where I enjoyed a scalp massage and haircut. Pure bliss.

Since I got my hair did, I wanted to go out on the town. I threw on my new favorite purple dress and we headed to our favorite Belgian Restaurant, The Broken Spoke. And yes, I realize the fact that we have a favorite Belgian restaurant makes us total hipsters.
But really, is there anything better than Belgian cuisine? Don’t answer that. It’s a rhetorical question. There is NOTHING better than Belgian cuisine, trust me on this one. World’s best beer? Check. World’s best chocolate? Check. World’s Best Fries? Check, check, check. Broken Spoke gives the people what they want.

They have something like 20 Belgian beers on tap. One of them, Delirium, actually holds the title for World’s Best Beer. And it’s on tap! They have a chalkboard listing all their featured draft beers, and they even include a few American beers at the bottom for non-hipster folk. We overheard a patron ask the waitress what was good on tap and she replied “Well, they are all good. Except for those at the bottom.” Amen, sister. We took Jonathan’s family there once and his brother ordered a Budweiser. Had I known that ahead of time, I may have chosen not to marry into that family. Just kidding…sorta.
Here I am in my new purple dress with my new haircut, double fisting Belgian fries and the World’s Best Beer.

That, my friends, is what I call a good day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Running Wild

We’ve learned from out short time in Houston, that you can’t let good weather go to waste. So we took the perfect forecast and put it to good use this weekend and partook in some classic Houston activities.

Since Jonathan had Friday off and I got off work at 2, we took Bailey and headed over to Memorial Park. We ran one loop around the main park (about 3 miles) and then took Bailey off leash in the Arboretum. The Arboretum has been a life changing resource for having an active dog in the city. Our friends Brian and Jill introduced us to the wooded hiking trails and we try to go as often as possible and let Bailey run herself ragged.

We so often get frustrated with the attention she requires. Seriously, before you fall for the adorable Brittany breed- read the label. These dogs are non-stop energy, even for the most active dog owners. They really do need a decent sized yard. Did I mention we live in the city? A decent sized yard is about 200,000 over our budget. I run her upwards of 25 miles a week and it doesn’t even put a dent in her hyperactivity.

However, it is a thing of beauty to watch her run wild (see above picture- she’s the adorable white blur in the back). We just let her loose in the Arboretum and she zigzags at a full sprint until before we know it, she’s run 20 miles in the time it took us to hike 3. Glorious! By the time we headed home Friday, she was happy and more importantly, tired, which we’ve learned is a serious accomplishment.

Friday night we grilled porkchops and went for frozen yogurt at Menchie's in the Heights. We discovered Menchie’s last week and I am full on obsessed. It is self-serve and they have about 15 fun rotating flavors to choose from. By fun flavors, I’m not talking about your average variety vanilla-chocolate-strawberry, but gingerbread, cake-batter, red velvet, peanut butter, pumpkin, etc. And the toppings are equally exciting. Once I saw they had frosted animal crackers as a topping, I knew I’d be a lifelong customer. And plus, how fun is it to say "Menchie's"? That alone is worth a weekly visit.
We capped off the night by watching Never Let Me Go (Meh- read the book instead). Sound like a good day? Well it was nothing compared to the bliss that was Saturday...Saturday was such a good day that it deserves a spot in the Good Days Hall of Fame. Or at least good enough to deserve it’s own blog post.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Hunger Games

Move over Animal Farm. Just a minute there Poisonwood Bible. Not so fast Count of Monte Cristo. Maybe next time Harry Potter. That’s right; there’s a new favorite book of all time in the house and it is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Trust me, I absolutely hate jumping on bandwagons and usually resist doing so at all costs, but this is seriously worth the hype.

I started reading The Hunger Games last week and was unable to put it down. It took all the self-control I have to stop reading at night and just go to sleep, knowing that I had to wake up at 5 AM. I wish I was the kind of person who didn’t feel completely unethical about playing hooky from work, because this is a book I could have happily finished in one sitting.

I finished reading the book Friday night and by Saturday, Jonathan was hooked. As we read in bed Saturday night, I found myself feeling jealous that he was reading The Hunger Games and I was not. I woke several times Saturday night and into the wee hours of Sunday morning to find Jonathan still reading, and it turns out he finished it around 2:30 in the morning. In one delicious sitting.

So I’m sure by now, you’ve already had a bazillion people tell you how good The Hunger Games is and you probably already know the premise of the story, but just in case: The Hunger Games is a sci-fi young adult novel set in post-apocalyptic America, in a nation known as Panem. Each year, the Twelve Districts that comprise Panem each send two children to fight to the death for fame and fortune. The story follows Katniss Everdeen in her ambivalent quest for survival.

Suzanne Collins deserves a Standing Ovation. Her writing style is simple and effective and her plot and character development are truly magnificent. As a writer, I could definitely learn a lot from her about the pacing of a novel. Reading The Hunger Games, I never felt rushed. In fact, I wanted to savor every chapter in order to hold on for a little bit longer and truly experience the story. I can’t wait to read the next two books in the series, Catching Fire and Mockingjay.

In fact, I’m thinking they would perfect books to read in one sitting. On a beach. In Hawaii. In January. Holla!

And it turns out, though the book that I am reading may not be at the best-book-ever level, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova is pretty amazing, especially if you like that whole spooky, paranormal, vampire, historically accurate mystery novel type of thing. And really, what’s not to like about that?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Honey Badger Don't Care

I, like so many, have been profoundly inspired by Pinterest. I have pinned more crafts and recipes than I could ever make in a lifetime, even if I didn’t have a full time job. I never would have thought that the first thing I actually made from Pinterest would be a fancy champagne cocktail called “The Honey Badger”. However, special times call for fancy drinks and this past Saturday, my LSU tigers battled the BAMA Crimson Tide for the number 1 ranking in College Football. Now, normally, college football gatherings call for kegs of Natty Light, and not sophisticated cocktails consisting of French Liquor and homemade honey syrup. But it just so happens that one of our star players has earned the nickname “Honey Badger” for his ferociousness on the field. And it just so happens that I am kind of obsessed with him. So it just so happens that I am also obsessed with any and all Honey Badger paraphernalia. When I saw the recipe for this cocktail on Pinterest (because I may or may not have been specifically searching the term 'Honey Badger'), I knew I’d be making it for the game. And now, I have a new favorite drink.
Ingredients: Orange slices, honey syrup, St. Germain Liquor, Champagne To make the syrup is super easy, and it is also super impressive to say “Yes, I made the honey syrup from scratch”. You just mix one cup of honey with one cup of water and stir over heat until it simmers. Then you let it cool before putting it in whatever fancy container you want. Since I was attending a football game and not a bridal shower, I put it in a disposable ketchup bottle. You know, all fancy like.

St. Germain is a French liquor made from Elderberry. Some describe it as slightly sweet with floral undertones and a hint of peach and citrus. Uh, whatever. It’s awesome. Trust me.

To make the cocktail, just squeeze an orange slice into a glass and toss the remaining orange in, squirt a bit of honey syrup in (you can only ‘squirt’ if you have stored your fancy syrup in a disposable ketchup bottle, otherwise, spoon it in), pour in a shot of St. Germain followed by a glass of Champagne and voila- Honey Badger.
Everyone really enjoyed the special drink, especially in celebration of our overtime victory. It was seriously adorable to see a bunch of guys toasting the best team in the land with a champagne cocktail. Us LSU fans, we keep it classy.

You got that right, Honey Badger: We're number 1. Geaux Tigers!

Monday, November 7, 2011


I finally finished A Breath of Snow and Ashes, and just to show you what a big accomplishment that was, here is a picture of my 3 November books stacked up against it.
Impressed yet?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


It's no surprise that I did not finish Diana Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes by the end of October. Currently, I have about 100 pages remaining. Not finishing was a conscious decision based on the fact that my Amazon package carrying my November set of books was not scheduled to arrive until November 3rd. Since I didn't want to be in book limbo for those 3 days, I decided to extend my deadline rather than stay up all night in order to finish reading. However, I just received notice that my Amazon package has been delivered. As of today. November 1st. And I still have 100 pages standing between me and The Hunger Games. If that's not a motivator, I don't know what is.