Sunday, September 18, 2016

Getting the Swing of Things

Greetings, faithful blog readers.

I let more than a week go by without updating. September is always a big adjustment for us: we've been back at work for a month now, but it still feels pretty new. Learning names, getting our classes on track, grading, and returning to meetings all takes a lot of energy to readjust to. There has been a lot of napping in my life, and this week is only going to get crazier: I have three meetings to attend, two workshops to teach, and we both have doctor's appointments on top of all the normal stuff. It'll be a busy week for sure, but I'm excited for the approach of fall.

Here's a few things that made life happier this week as we were getting into the swing of things:

We tried doing our HEB shopping on Tuesday morning this past week, and it was a good idea. The store was so much less crowded, and it was a much more enjoyable experience than usual. Tuesday night, we made quesadillas, one of our favorites. Wednesday, I made stuffed peppers in the crockpot, and we had our friends Kirsten and Alex over for dinner, which was a good way to destress mid-week.

We got so much rain this weekend! Friday, we went to Thai House for dinner (our favorite) and were surprised when we came out and it was raining. The storm even caused us to lose power. Luckily, it was restored in time for Shark Tank and 20/20

Then, we had a beautiful day on Saturday, which was good because we've officially started browsing for my new car. I'm looking into Honda CRV and Mazda CX5. I looked at Ford Escape but wasn't as impressed. I'll probably check out Toyota Rav4 and the Hyundai Tucson before it's all said and done. Any experiences positive or negative with any of these cars? Please share. It's been a long time since I've purchased a car, and I can't say I love the car shopping experience, but there are worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon. 

Saturday night, it rained hard complete with a lightening show. I was happy for our trees and all our plants. We watched another episode of The Night Of. I do like this show (on HBO), but it's stressful and anxiety provoking. I'm SUPER excited about the new HBO show Westworld starting next month. I'm also looking forward to catching the first episode of ABCs Designated Surviver this Wednesday. Also on Saturday night, I got to catch up with my friend Corley. We have similar world outlooks and can always help each other stay positive despite the horrid uncertainties of this sometimes cruel and often chaotic world. It was good to talk. 

Lola basically slept through every storm. The Sentry calming collars are a new must in our house. The cats seem so much happier with them. We order them from Chewy and also order cat food there too (you can have food sent automatically, so it's one less thing to worry about buying).

Last, but not least, another great part of our week was ordering dinner from our friend Jennifer's new venture The Runaway Dish. If you live in Midland, we highly recommend her delicious vegetarian cooking. It's such a treat to have cooking taken off your list of to-dos every once in awhile. Especially when you are in the midst of a busy week! I'm not sure what was more awesome: the dinner (sweet potato and black bean enchiladas) or the leftovers I get to eat for dinner later this week!

Well folks, I hope you all had a great weekend. Make the last four days of summer memorable: fall begins on Thursday!

Here's to that!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

West Texas Weekending

Greetings faithful blog readers!

I'll start off by backtracking a little and saying this week, though short, was packed with events: club fair, meeting with our student group, welcome party for the writing center, etc. School has officially started, and I've officially been reminded of why I don't wear heels to work (it always takes one day of limping to remember).

But the best event of the week was Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires coming to our campus to perform at a free concert on Thursday night:

They were amazing. I can't wait to buy Amanda Shires's new album next week; her voice literally gave me chills. Isbell and the band were incredible. There was even a fiddle and an accordion, so you know I was happy. 

Anyway, we kicked off this weekend by catching MCT's production of Sweeney Todd last night. It was really well done, and our friend Mitchell plays the lead, and he was fantastic in the role. I highly recommend catching a performance if you live in Midland! 

This morning, we headed to the museum to volunteer at Septemberfest. It was rainy, but it was still fun to see all the artists' booths. The fest runs through tomorrow: they have food trucks, bounce houses, a petting zoo, and entertainment for the whole family. The main attraction is dozens of artists' booths where they sell crafts, jewelry, and art.  They charge $5 for adults and $3 for children/seniors, and Septemberfest will run until 5PM on Sunday (tomorrow). 

Afterwards, we treated ourselves to brunch at Lori's. I couch napped later while Brendan watched the Red Sox game since bottomless mimosas at Lori's live up to their name. 

Now, time to make something delicious. We hope your weekend if off to a good start!

Lola, for one, is jumping for joy:



Tuesday, September 6, 2016

When Amanda & Matt Visit

Greetings faithful blog readers,

We had an awesome Labor Day weekend, and we hope that you all got to enjoy a long weekend too.

On Friday night, we headed to the college to see Marilee Salvator's art opening. It was really beautiful work, and we enjoyed meeting the artist and hearing her talk about her process.

That night, Amanda and Matt arrived just in time for a trip to the recently reopened Thai House. Thai House goes on a hiatus each summer while the family returns to Thailand. Friday was their second day back after several months away, so Thai House was predictably crowded, but our food was, as always, well worth the wait.

Saturday morning, we got up early and went to the farmer's market. I was SO happy when we scored TONS of tomatoes (after getting none two weeks ago, I had given up for the season). We returned home and made waffles using Mimi's recipe. We all toasted Mimi over mimosas.

We had fun on Saturday playing Bananagrams and making pesto (forgot pictures) with roasted tomatoes and tomato/cucumber salad for dinner. We had a lot of backyard basil, and Amanda worked her magic with it making sure we had several leftover batches to freeze. Hallelujah! Then, we went to our friends' house for a get together and had fun playing a huge eleven person game of Cards Against Humanity.

Sunday, we made cinnamon rolls. I took a lot of pictures because cinnamon rolls!

We watched both Trainwreck AND Pitch Perfect Two (both two of my recent favorites), and then Amanda and I did a grocery store run to make this deliciousness.  I think it's safe to say that I will be a new fan of the pioneer woman blog.

It's fun to watch Amanda in her element. I mostly just cut up things or measure things out and have fun playing sous chef!

While we were at the store, the boys made up some snacks, so we could watch the UT game and snack.

Towards the end of the game, we sat down to a nice dinner and watched a most amazing double overtime win. Fun fact: my dad and cousin were at the game!

On Labor Day, we played two games of Ticket to Ride (one America and one Europe), but sadly I didn't win either game (Matt won the first & Amanda won the second!) We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at La Bodega on the patio before Amanda and Matt left around 4PM. We were sad to see them go :( 

We took a walk around the neighborhood and started watching a new HBO show called The Night Of (scary/intense/anxiety provoking). We were still so full from lunch that we just snacked a little and called it dinner. Amanda & Matt left us many delicious snacks from Trader Joes. I'm addicted to the Cowboy Caviar (Salsa) now and must buy all the jars. 

We hope your Labor Day weekend was as delicious and fun as ours. 
This week is already flying by thanks to the three day weekend, and week two is off to a good start. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Along the Way to the Bay

Greetings faithful blog readers!

We've had SUCH an eventful week.

On Monday, our dear friends from graduate school stopped for the night as they were making their way to the bay area. Our former classmate J has a prestigious Stegner fellowship at Stanford University, and the family (plus their dog, Deuce) are relocating from Louisiana to California.

After work (the first day teaching), Brendan and I prepped dinner together. This was a crowd pleaser, and we served it with salad, bread, plenty of wine and champagne, and ice cream (blue bell, of course) for dessert.

After we ate, we played an amazing (long!) game of Ticket to Ride. Brendan won, but it was only because little Justin foiled my plans. We were so happy to get to see our friends; their road trip is over, and they have made it to their new home.

Tuesday we were oh so tired! I'd planned to return to barre, but it just didn't happen. I went back Wednesday after eight days away. It went well, and I've been everyday since. I don't have any pain in my neck, though sometimes I wake up with stiffness. Perhaps I need a new pillow. Any recommendations?

Thursday, we got great news. After a woman ran into my car on June 21st and decided to fabricate "witnesses," who did not pull over at the scene, an epic saga with the insurance company began. It went on and on and on and on. Finally, yesterday, the accident was determined to be 100% her fault. To say it was a relief is an understatement. My dad was a HUGE help in navigating the process and even spoke to the assistant of the CEO of the insurance company. I was discouraged and downright ready to give up: I'd sent diagrams, photos, videos, the police report, and multiple statements were given. I probably called the company at least twenty times. Today, my claim check is FINALLY in the mail, and we can move on. No one was hurt, for which I am thankful. It is sad that there are such dishonest people out there, but I'm glad the truth was finally uncovered.

More good news came on Thursday in the form of this on our doorstep:

Brendan's dad did this collage of Samuel Beckett for him, and we're so happy to have it in our dining room. Our home is filled with Tim Egan paintings, and I show them off to everyone that visits our home.

The final news of our week is that...

Amanda and Matt are coming! We're pretty crazy about these two and can't wait to see them for a long weekend. We're planning to cook, play board games, and also be awesome.

Before I sign off, we all want to say Mazel Tov to my cousins Skyler and Kate. Their B'not Mitzvah is this weekend, and we all wish we could be in Ohio to celebrate. We love you ladies!

Happy long weekend everyone.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Building a Backyard from Scratch: The Grass is Always Greener

Greetings faithful blog readers!

When we last left off in the building a backyard series, I posted a picture of our newly planted grass. Here it is today:

Such improvement! Brendan is always the first to point out that it isn't as perfect as he wants it to be, but I'm like, "this is the desert and we are growing GRASS!"

Herb garden:

So much depends on a red wheelbarrow. Actually, not much depends on this one.

Bloom! There it is (get it?!)

Green things!

Overall, I'm pleased as punch with our backyard progress.

In other news, we just enjoyed a very low key weekend and with good reason. Tomorrow is the first official day of the fall semester, and we have friends from grad school (3 adults, 2 kiddos, and a dog) staying with us tomorrow night (more on that soon). Then, Amanda and Matt are coming this weekend. All in all, it's going to be a busy busy week. I don't honestly feel ready, but one thing I do feel totally relieved about is that my neck is finally feeling better (thank goodness!) which means I am sleeping a lot better too. Right now, I need to wind down early so that I can make it to school early early and be ready to go for 8:00AM. Wish us luck!


Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Painful First Week Back

Greetings fellow blog readers!

It has been a rough first week back. On Monday, bad news from my auto insurance about an incident back in June where another driver hit me (nothing serious: everyone is fine), and after two months, they still cannot process the claim correctly.

On Tuesday, I pulled a muscle getting out of bed (yes, I am getting old). As my alarm went off, I pushed my head back reflexively (but my head wasn't well supported by my pillow at the time) and heard a pop sound. Then I had pain in my neck and shoulder when moving my head side to side or up and down. Using ice and Salonpas has improved things quite a bit. My shoulder is no longer hurting, but my neck still hurts, and it's enough to make me too weary of attending barre class, so now I can't do one of my favorite things until this heals :(

Overall, I'm feeling really exhausted (it's hard to sleep with your neck hurting), but I will say that today is going better than yesterday. It does appear my neck is healing on its own. Now if only it would be instantaneous!

 My office looks nice at least. I'm telling myself to enjoy it now, as it will be trashed in two weeks and never cleaned again until January. My "organization" style=mostly chaos.

Here's a hilarious video if you, like me, need a laugh today.

I hope everyone's week is less painful than mine. Hang in there friends; it's almost Friday!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Soaking Up Summer

Greetings faithful blog readers. In the last week of summer, I'm just being weird full time. Okay, that's every week. Here's a look at the strange things I prioritized this week:

Priority #1: Movies 
Namibia doesn't have movie theaters, so we had some major catching up to do. Monday night, we headed to the drive in for a double feature: Secret Life of Pets and Jason Bourne. The first was delightful...the second was a chore. SPOILER ALERT: Jason Bourne's father didn't want him to be used as a human weapon. Listen, I may have spoiled that movie for you, but I really just prevented you from paying anything for that "secret." What kind of parent would be like "oh sure, make my son a human weapon!" THIS IS JUST NOT A SURPRISE, and there is no reason Julia Stiles should have died to let Jason Bourne know that his father actually valued his life beyond wanting him to be in vast danger All. The. Time. If you want a good secret, go see the animated movie about the pets.

Me smiling: before I saw Jason Bourne. 

On Tuesday, we took advantage of $5 Tuesday movies at Cinergy and saw Ghostbusters: Answer the Call. I'm behind on this, but it was a fun time. Today, we saw Kubo and the Two Strings, which I think I liked best of all the movies.

Priority #2: Food
It has been nice (and necessary for our waistlines) to cook dinners again after eating out so much this summer. We went to the farmer's market and have taken several grocery store trips to restock all our favorite things (we currently have four flavors of sparkling water if anyone's thirsty). I really must give all the credit to Brendan. He has made all the dinners this week, so I'm definitely cooking this weekend! I found Monday night's dinner especially tasty. I'll try to get him to recall the recipe he created.

Priority #3: Fitness
I went to barre class three times and spin class twice this week. We also took long walks on three different days. Brendan went on three runs this week. Overall, we're getting back into our grove and trying to drop the added pounds of vacation weight.

Priority #4: Netflix's Stranger Things 
We watched all eight episodes of Stranger Things this week, and it was amazing. It felt very Stephen King to me, though Stephen King was not involved. If you like supernatural and scary but not gory horror, you will love this show. It also reminded me of the film Super 8. It's good; just watch it! For those that have already seen the show, Dustin is my favorite character. I love that kid!

Priority #5: Unpacking
It took us basically a week to unpack, but finally the suitcases are emptied...is it just me, or is packing way more fun than unpacking?

Priority #6: The Yard 
Again, I have to give Brendan all the credit here. He has done a lot of work in the yard since we returned. I helped clear off the patio and pull some weeds, but he has been out there many more hours. I'm really happy with the progress we made this spring. A post coming soon showing the fruits of our labors.

Priority #7: Laziness 
I've really been indulging my lazy tendencies this week. I got a mani/pedi, enjoyed long phone calls with a couple of friends, downloaded a new book on my Kindle, read magazines, and slept in whenever I could. There were times I felt I should have done something more productive, but it's back to the real world on Monday, and I probably won't regret my lazy day memories when they're in the distant past.

If you need us this weekend, we'll be soaking up the last of summer. I hope everyone has a good one!


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