Sunday, October 14, 2018

Amazon Prime and Blog, the New Netflix and Chill

Hellooo! We're watching Man in the High Castle Season 3 on Amazon and I have to pay attention attention because I only vaguely remember Seasons 1 and 2, so I'm writing this in choppy pieces, but we have some important things to discuss and I'll try to focus on this without asking James too many "Who is that?" and "What did they just say?" questions. He loves those.

So, first! We drove to San Antonio and back last Saturday to see my grandparents. I remain so lucky to have all of them alive and smiling and hugging my kids (and me!) and even luckier to have them all living in the same building four hours away. We don't take advantage of that enough as our kids get older and our weekends get busier. But on Saturday we had nothing required of us and off we went! Venti chai, car candy, and lunches packed to-go.

We were just going up and back, so Claire packed lightly (or, lightly for Claire). We went to pick up Landon from his sleepover party, thinking we'd head straight to San Antonio from there, but one look at our sweat-soaked tweenager and we went right back home and sent him to the shower. I'm still adjusting to pre-teen life and totally forgot there is NO WAY we could be in a car for 8-hours with an 11-year-old boy who ran for 5+ hours straight with a big group of friends and didn't shower. No way. Fifteen minutes later, we were back in the car, plus one shiny and sweet-smelling boy.

But back to the grandparents- it was so wonderful to see them. It's a long day, but it fills my heart with joy, especially after the events with my grandfather last fall. James's grandmother passed away last month, leaving him without any living grandparents and I know how blessed I am to have my four.

We got back around 10:30 p.m. and then on Sunday did the erranding and barre teaching and planning for the week ahead.

My Sunday class, killing it!

And that night two girlfriends and I went to see A Star is Born. I was prepared with three juice boxes of wine and a king sized bag of peanut m&M's. A large popcorn was procured, mini wine boxes were distributed, and the movie began. And OMG it was SO GOOD. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to go see this movie with girlfriends and a mini box of wine. I got goose bumps, I cried, I grabbed my friends hand for comfort on numerous occasions. I downloaded the soundtrack the second I got in my car and we all listened to it on the ride home (and for the next week thereafter).

I can't wait to see it again.

I also cleaned out my closet on Sunday and as the week pressed on, now with mildly cooler temps (80's are better than 90's!), it took an inordinately long time to get dressed in the morning. I've been wearing clothes all my life, but add a few new things to my closet (and remove some old staples I never even wore anymore) and my whole sartorial world turns upside down. I do love my my newly acquired, properly fitting fall wardrobe, I'm still just absorbing all the pieces into my subconscious so it can figure out what I should wear while I'm taking my shower in the mornings.

(Pics because much like interior house pictures, I love seeing pictures of other people's outfits! And links to be helpful; not affiliated because I don't know how to do that, but do definitely sign up for Ebates before you buy anything online! I'm up to $2,000 cash back and you don't want to leave that on that table. It still kills me that I used to.)

Old Navy Rockstar 24/7 skinnies (LOVE these; so soft!); Old Navy Boat-Neck sweater (light, so soft, not scratchy, and long enough to wear with leggings!); scarf from Express a million years ago

Old Navy Skinnies (also love! I haven't had this color jeans in forever); Target sweater (love the most! so very soft I petted my arms all day); TOM'S Multi Pink Floral classic shoes (sold out, but I adore the pattern)

Old Navy 24/7 skinnies from above; Target tee (I have this in about 5 colors; so soft, and actually opaque); Old Navy vest (I'm new to vests, but I like them? I think!); Riding Boots that Facebook told me this morning I ordered 8 years ago today after working very late in the office one night at the firm.

On Thursday our nanny was out of town and my TCU barre class was canceled because of a football game, so I actually go to take the kids to swimming and watch them swim! It was very exciting. And then we went out to dinner because the skies cleared and the college students weren't overrunning our favorite taco spot (all being at the game) and we ran into two sets of friends on the patio! Margaritas, friends, and a small town city feel. So many of my favorite things.

It rained again on Friday because that's all it does now and the kids and I watched Hocus Pocus. I so enjoy that terrible wonderful movie, though I did have to explain, again, what a virgin was. ("Ohh," said Landon, "because he doesn't want to have children yet?" Right, exactly.)

On Saturday we packed up early to head to Claire's first volleyball game! And we arrived on time! In the pouring rain! To the wrong location! So we ended up 5 minutes late at the right place.

But she did great, her team won, and she made two out of her three serves over the net, so it was a win all around. She still LOVES practice, possibly even more than she likes gymnastics, and that's saying quite a lot.

After the game, it rained some more, so we decided to switch out the girl's closet. Oy. Everything they owned was soon on the floor, but two hours later and they had tried on every single thing they owned, switched everything around for fall/winter, and we had a bin of clothes for "our baby Sky" (my niece/their cousin), a bin for Cora to re-wear in the Spring (they share a closet; we have to conserve space), and a bag for giveaway. A highly successful afternoon.

Somehow, despite continuing appropriately along her height/weight growth charts, Claire remains the same size for the third year, so she and Cora (3.5 years younger) now wear the same size in many things. This lessens the hand-me-down opportunities as Claire gleefully took back many of the things I'd tucked away after last winter for Cora to wear this year, but Cora still has plenty of options. Sweater dresses are her new fave and luckily, at least a few are now too short for Claire.

After the purge, we went to our first Casa Manana children's play of the 2017-2018 season! The Big Bad Musical was funny and as impressive as they all are.

The skies cleared and we went out to dinner after (twice in one week- madness!) and ice cream after that. My parents had sent money for a treat for the kids after their fabulous first round of report cards and they were very excited to spend it!

We went to a newish liquid nitrogen ice cream place and it was awesome. And the ice cream was delicious too! (Cora was generous enough to share some of hers with me.)

It was so nice to be outside again and such a fun night downtown in our city.

So of course it rained again today, but not until the evening, and it's supposed to rain through this Wednesday along with a 30-degree temperature drop, but all the more to justify the wardrobe additions and closet clean-outs.

Oh! I almost forgot my most exciting news! I FINISHED OUR PHOTO BOOKS! Oh yes! We're caught up for the 2016-2017 school year AND the 2017-2018 school year and it feels SO GOOD. As I pressed "purchase" last night about 11:30 pm I had to strongly resist the urge to crack open a bottle of champagne. Particularly after I typed in the "unlimited free pages" coupon code and the 12% (12%!!!!) Ebate for Shutterfly and ended up getting four, hardback, full-color, 103-page, 1,000-picture containing photo books for a grand total of $91. Original total before discount codes: $775. I felt like I won the internet.

And with that, meals for the days I will be in town because I head to Washington, DC on Wednesday to hear Sally Yates speak and attend a conference on regulation, cryptocurrency, and more. I'll be missing James's birthday (and Claire's PTA Performance for which she has many lines; there's really never a good time to be out of town these days), so we celebrated tonight with one of his favorite meals and presents, but we'll recap the rest of that next time around.

Sunday: French Onion Pot Roast (soooooo good), Garlic and Chive Mashed potatoes, roasted rainbow carrots, yellow marble cake with dark chocolate frosting.

Monday: Smoked Apple & Chardonnay Turkey Sausage (from TJ; I slice it in half and broil it until blackened), Homemade Mac and Cheese, steamed broccoli.

Tuesday: BBQ chicken sandwiches, tater tots (the frozen TJ ones, baked in the oven 2x as long as the directions pretend they should be), yellow and orange bell pepper strips.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Loops and Boxes and Globes

I blog largely to escape the news and my twitter feed and turn inward to the glories of a curly-headed toddler who has a song about all the continents, but to be clear, the most positive spin I can put on my mood for the last few weeks is this:

The deadline to register in Texas is Oct. 9th. Check to see if you're registered here. You might have been registered in the past, but have since been unregistered for some reason or another. Check, verify, and register again if needed. The midterms are one month away and I would like my present to stop looking like a dystopian future.

Moving on. I forgot to post these last time, but there's a temporary, interactive art exhibit in the plaza behind my building and we explored it last Friday night after an impromptu al fresco dinner.

It's a collection of large circles you can sit inside and pump a bar back and forth to make black and white animations of well known fairy tales spin around you.

It was super cool and I loved that it just popped up in our backyard!

It was a gorgeous night and we watched the sun set as we drove the 5 miles home.

On Saturday night we did the Frito Pie pizza we were supposed to have on Friday but couldn't because of the gorgeous weather that required patio margaritas and it was SO GOOD. Go make one today. Store bought crusts (thin! thick crusts won't cook under the chili) and canned chili totally allowed and recommended (and until last Saturday I'd never had canned chili in my life, but you need it to be thick and not watery; I did one can turkey chili + one can ranch style beans). Top with a layer of crushed fritos and dollops of sour cream and it'll blow your mind.

We went to Melt on Magnolia Ave. for the greatest sundae ever afterward. (Scoops of Salted caramel + Apple Pie + Pecan Butterscotch Cake with fresh whipped cream topped with some magical crispy granola-y crumble.) James ate 95% because I'm not a big ice cream person, but my stolen tastes were so incredible I considered coming over to the ice cream dark side.

We bought the kids McDonald's vanilla cones on the way over because they cost 50 cents each and we're cheap and they don't know the difference. All in all, it was a great night in my favorite part of town.

On Sunday we had a great family walk with our little CoraBunny riding her big girl bike the whole way! We've mastered turns and stopping, but still need a little push to start. She is SO PROUD and has maybe finally turned the corner from wanting to jump right back on her beloved scooter after a few back and forths on the bike to actually being excited by it and wanting to ride it even when we aren't strongly suggesting it. Later in the day Claire asked to go with me to my barre class. I told her she could only watch, but she was an enthusiastic +1 with her vintage American Girl doll book (currently devouring the Samantha series) and the last ounces of my chai latte.

Her little face peeked through the window between our lobby and my class and she got a total kick out of seeing me teach (just like I got a kick out of waving at her throughout). I gave her a big hug at the end and she yelled "ew! you're all sweaty!". But with love.

As an update on the last post: mere hours after publishing it, I woke up and ripped the tags off the Stitch Fix jeans and striped top and wore them to work. If it hadn't been 95-freaking-degrees I would have worn the burgundy blazer too. I love them. Thank you for all your comments, I felt your strength and solidarity for great black jeans as I pressed "check out" on the website.

It was casual week to celebrate the fiscal new year and I wore them with my burgundy Saucony's and a necklace I actually got from a Stitch Fix box two years ago and felt very pleased indeed. Even better- on a whim, I listed the green maxi dress on a Stitch Fix b/s/t board and it sold in about 2 minutes. I mailed it off today and now I get to keep my 25% discount, not pay for a dress that wasn't perfect, and keep my other four items guilt free! It was all so fun it's taking all my willpower not to sign up for another box immediately. Who knew not-shopping could be as fun as going shopping?! (Referral link: If you sign up here, you get $25 off!)

And then, fresh from my Stitch Fixed success, I got to wear my ghost leggings for my Thursday night TCU barre class! Huzzah! Ghost legging season is here!

(A friend asked about the set-up for this headstand, so I had James snap a quick video this morning. Once you're up you can hold it forever or use it as a fun variation to mix into your chaturanga.)

Yoga has been such an empowering things for me. I'm still not very flexible, but I can do the strength poses and mastering a new one is a high like no other.

Speaking of highs, Cora is VERY excited to show you her latest school project.

It took days. Punching out the continents.

Gluing everything in the generally geographically correct location.

And then a song! A song so joyfully sung SO MANY TIMES.

I adore preschool.

On to food! We're headed to San Antonio for the day tomorrow and will eat lunch in the car on the way and dinner at my grandparents' retirement community, but here's the plan for the rest of the week after that:

Sunday: Cheesy Cauliflower and Potato Soup, served with sliced meats, cheeses, and crackers. (We were supposed to have this last week, but ended up eating Thai on the couch while watching Season 3 of Man in the High Castle.)

Monday: Chicken Pot Pie

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Vegetable and Beef Barley Soup (I add a bunch of sliced carrots), serve with warm crusty bread.

Wednesday: Southwestern Quinoa and Black Bean Casserole, with chips and tortillas on the side.

Thursday: Out! My barre class is canceled bc TCU has a home game, so I'm going to swim lessons and getting to watch all my kiddos! Then we're getting something to eat out on the town because it's just that kind of crazy mixed up night.

Friday: Pizza night! Maybe more variations on the pesto pizza rolls, maybe calazones, maybe just regular pizzas. Definitely with this dough because it's easy and works every time.

Saturday: Crockpot Chicken and Wild Rice soup, served with warm bread, obviously.

(Btw, this butternut squash pasta from last week was amazing. Highly recommend.)

It may never actually feel like fall, but I'm determined to eat like it anyway!

(Babies' first Starbucks tea; by their attire, you can tell it's freezing outside.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Surprise Stitch Fixing, Pizza Rolls, and Sporty Bears

Yesterday was a nice snapshot of a fun day in the life. I woke up at 6:30 (after reading until 1 a.m., but that's a problem that's entirely my fault), took a shower, chatted with 2/3 of my children through the glass door during those luxurious 6 minutes, got ready (hair on top of head, obvi), came out to the kitchen twice to give kisses and hugs (James pointed out last week that Landon kind of flips out if I don't come out to say goodbye before they leave, which is new, but certainly something that is avoidable), packed up yoga clothes and barre clothes and a plastic bag to hold the sweaty rounds between and a lunch to eat at my desk since I was doing yoga at lunchtime. And my water bottle, yeti with pumpkin spice tea, and Lulu bag of random papers I brought home Monday night. I pack for work like I'm leaving town for days.

I left at 7:30 and sat at my desk at 7:45. I worked, emailed, and phone called until 11:45. Went to lunchtime yoga and did 8-angle pose for the first time. Wiped my sweaty self off, re-donned my work clothes, and headed back in to the office for a few more emails and phone calls and those billable hours I don't bill anymore. Left at 4:45 and got to TCU by 5:00, giving me a bonus 15 minutes to try out some new barre moves on their non-anchored barres that are very different from the anchored ones I teach with on Sundays at Urban Yoga. Then I did some chin stands, completely freaking out the first person who came in the room, who had never been to barre before and thought head stands were part of it. Class was full and awesome and fun and sweaty and then I RAN to the locker room to towel off and put BACK on my work clothes for the third time to race to my PTA Board meeting that had started 30 minutes earlier. I gave my membership report (VP-Membership right here!), listened and nodded along to all the wonderful women who make our PTA work, and then followed two of them home a few streets over so they could drop off their cars and carpool with me to our friend's (and fellow board member's) birthday wine night. (I got her this mug, it was perfect.) I called the kids on the way (our T/Th nanny had picked them up from school, supervised homework, and dropped them off at swimming, from which Coach Dad brought them home) (and then that nanny came to my barre class and gave me the whole afternoon report, which I love) and got the highlights of the day. We got to Kent & Co (SO good!) at about 7:45 and the eight of us celebrated our sweet friend with 4 bottles of wine and all the appetizers. It was so fun and we laughed so hard that my abs, which had withstood MANY MINUTES of planking earlier in the day, cried out for mercy, along with my cheek muscles. It was a great night.

I dropped everyone off and was home a little before 11. James had watched something with terrible ratings and too much violence (his favorite combo), I took a bath, and we reconvened on the couch to sum up the day and get in bed about 11:45.

And that was Tuesday. Not enough kid time, but filling my soul with adult girl time, and knowing I had the rest of the week to balance it out.

A balance that happened quicker than expected because Landon woke up puking at 5 a.m. (and he hadn't even shared 4 bottles of wine!) and I took off the last few hours of the afternoon to tag-team with James and hang out with our quarantined kiddo. He clearly felt like death and called me "Mommy" all day which he hasn't done since he was at least 5. I got to take the girls to gymnastics at 4 and then get Claire ready for her first-ever volleyball practice at 6:30. I made pesto pizza rolls from scratch in between (which were supposed to be Friday's meal, but Landon thought maybe he could eat one, so we bumped the up) and generally enjoyed luxuriating in some house time.

Always working on a project

Pizza rolls: I doubled the recipe and made half as directed and the other half with pizza sauce, pepperoni, and black olive. Omg they were both so very very good.

Claire got home at 7:45 and marched into the house yelling, "MOMMY I *LOVE* VOLLEYBALL!" and then told us everything excruciating detail of her practice, all the new things she learned (which is everything, having known exactly nothing about volleyball before today), and how many serves she made it over (many; her coach kept asking her if she'd played before and it was delightful to see her so flush with a little piece of sporty success).

Everyone was in bed by 8:30 and we're all crossing our fingers that Landon keeps dinner down and wakes up feeling back to his energetic self because the listless pale human who sat on the couch all day is someone no one recognizes and it was terribly sad to see.

But, in exciting non-pukey news, I got a Stitch Fix box today! I haven't done Stitch Fix in FOREVER (my blog archives inform me that my last box was in March 2017), but I recently got an email that I had a credit that was about to expire, so I figured why not. I'm settling in to a slightly adjusted size, it's a new season, and I got a spot bonus a few weeks ago for getting my case recommendation done- let's do this! I'm all about spending $100 to save $30 because that's how economics work (#PhilosophyBiologyMajor; also, I do our taxes, which makes tons of sense since James has a Finance degree and MBA). I barely bothered to update my profile, told my stylist I was looking for some fall options and am terrible at layering and decided to let the cards fall where they may.

And then they came today! And weirdly, this might be the first time I keep all 5 things! (Maybe.)

In the past Stitch Fix didn't work for me because I didn't mind shopping, I usually shopped at very cheap stores (Ross forever), and my body was often right between sizes and with proportions that didn't work with a lot of their clothes. But now, I almost never go shopping. I could, I'd just rather go to yoga or go get wine with girlfriends. The idea of paying a little more for the clothes to just show up sounds more appealing. Also, I'm fitting a slightly different shape of myself, so having someone else make me try things on I wouldn't pick out has new value.

So with that in mind, here we go:

(My face is cut off because I'd just taken a bath and put on my pjs when I realized the box was here, but I was so excited about this box of mysterious things that I put back on a bra and got to modeling (... in my poorly lit closet hallway next to the hamper I should have moved).

(1) Kaileigh - Tahlie Faux Wrap Knit Maxi Dress, Green (Small; $58)

VERDICT: On the fence.

This is my only undecided.

I love green. The dress actually fits very well and it's even long enough which is VERY rare. I don't know that it's the most flattering cut? But I can wear a regular bra with it, which is a plus, and it feels pretty on. The style card showed it with a jean jacket, which I do own from a million years ago, and I think would look really cute. Mostly though, if you keep all 5 items you get a 25% discount and that 25% discount is worth $20 more than this dress costs, so on that alone, it may hang out in my closet.

(2) Just Black - Cordelia Skinny Jean, Black (Size 2, $78)
(3) Colette - Chavez Pop Color Cuff Knit Top, White/Mustard (Small, $44)


I hate trying on jeans with a fiery passion. I don't know why, they're just my personal shopping waterloo. I don't even mind trying on swim suits, but put me in front of a rack of jeans and I'm out. Which is a long way of explaining why I don't own any black jeans even though I think they'd be super useful to have around, particularly since I don't currently have any black work pants that fit and these could masquerade as such. And they fit PERFECTLY. And they're soft and so comfy I didn't even mind taking of pj pants to wear them. And I didn't have to go to a store to try on many others just to find them! So I feel like they're meant to be.

And I love the top. I love stripes. I love yellow, black, and white. I love that this all comes together in this one super soft, but thick enough to not be see-through, white stripey shirt. It's perfect for our faux Texas fall.

(4) FrenchMauve - Melanie Knit Tunic Blazer, Burgundy (Small, $88)


This is nothing I would EVER have picked out- I usually skip over the non-structured knitwear, but I think I really like it? The price point is a little high for me, but I must admit it hangs beautifully and fits my shoulders so well. I love the pockets. I love the burgundy color; I don't have a cardigan or jacket that color and I could wear it with black pants, jeans, and my black skirt.

(5) Girly-Joyce Infinity Check Scarf, Navy ($34)

VERDICT: KEEPING, if I keep the whole box.

This was the first item I saw and I immediately thought "going back." I love scarves, but I HAVE scarves, and I don't wear enough of the ones I already have and this one is simpler than what I usually go for. But then I put it on, purely for the picture/blog post and I was like, wait, I really like this. Maybe the reason I don't wear my scarves as much as I wish is because I'm like a magpie for colorful, crazy designs and they don't match as many things as you'd think. This is simple and classic and I can totally see throwing it on in the fall.

All five items total to $302, but with the $20 styling fee deducted, my $30 in referral fees (that expire Oct. 9!), and the 25% discount worth $75.50 it would be $176 for everything. Thoughts? I did force myself to try on a pair of jeans at Old Navy this past weekend that were comfortable and came in black and which I could procure for about $30. I don't have to have the tunic/blazer/cardigan thing. I'll admit I'm deeply in love with the striped shirt and am keeping it no matter what, but I could do that, use my credits, and not be out anything else. Am I just excited to get a box in the mail with things that feel like presents? (Gifts are my love language.) Or are these actually cute and should be kept? I welcome your input.

(Oh! And I need to add, my link to Stitch Fix has a referral code. If you sign up, you get a $25 credit if you try it and so do I. So if you don't like shopping, or your need to pushed from your clothing comfort zone, and you're willing to be surprised by a box of five potential clothing items you don't pick out, I think it can be a great option. But you can also see my past posts for a totally honest opinion from back when those exact features that make it special just didn't work for me at the time, though I never regretted trying it out.)