Not a lot to say about the books I read this past quarter, but here they are.
Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes
Everyone loved this book; I thought it was just okay. I kept waiting for it to get really good and it never seemed to get really good. It was mostly just predictable.
The Next Best Thing, by Jennifer Weiner
This was cute, as I believe all Jennifer Weiner books to be. Easy, fun read.
The Girl On The Train, by Paula Hawkins
Holly got me this for my birthday and told me it was being talked up as this year's Gone Girl. I liked it! I liked the pacing and thought it had a good little twist. Maybe not quite as twist-y as Gone Girl, but still good.
Yes Please, by Amy Poehler
I enjoyed this very much; favorite book of the year so far. I loved hearing about Amy's entrance into comedy, especially her time studying improv and starting the UCB theatre. The owner of the comedy club where I perform studied at UCB, so it was cool to read her experiences and then compare to how/what I've learned/am learning about improv. I also loved her take on parenting small children AND doing what you love, i.e.: comedy. And I loved to hear that she wasn't cast on SNL 'til she was 29. There's hope for me yet.
Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
Everyone hated this book or couldn't get into it, but I thought it was super fun. This is the second book I've read by this author (the first being What Alice Forgot), so I will read more by her.
What have you read lately?
I don't know if I ever mentioned it, but the contract at my job ended last month, so it's just me and LG here Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. We are keeping her in school Mondays and Fridays, which is nice for two reasons: 1.) Chris has Mondays off, so Monday is officially Monday Funday for the two of us, and 2.) ALONE TIME FOR ME.
The other days of the week, LG and I have been doing library storytime, the park, or getting together with EBJ and K-Dubs. While I am trying to keep us busy, I am a little...lacking for activities. I hate to say I'm bored, because I'm a big believer that only boring people are bored, but damn, I am sort of running out of things to do. I am still on the job hunt, so I have to do that every day, but if nothing new is posted, then applying for jobs (or, not applying for jobs, as it were) doesn't take a lot of time. Plus, applying for jobs isn't really a kid-friendly activity. So, I dunno. Outside of the library and park, we've been spending a lot of time cooking, riding trikes outside, etc., and then Chris gets home and saves us, so I suppose we've been finding stuff to do, it's just the same stuff every day.
If anyone has any insight on letter/number worksheets for the almost-four-year-old set, do let me know, though. I guess it couldn't hurt to continue to hone her spelling/reading/whatever skills since she's now only in school twice a week.
Is everyone watching The Americans? Please tell me everyone is watching The Americans. They are KILLING it this season. I don't think I've been this invested in a show since Homeland season 1, which has been fun. I tend to get confused with the plot-lines of a lot of shows (the final few seasons of Sons Of Anarchy come to mind), so while I am into a lot of shows, I am not as invested as I could be. But The Americans, while a spy drama (so you'd think it'd be super confusing), is easy to keep up with. Occasionally I am like, Wait, what's going on?, but mostly, I can understand everything, which makes focusing on the actual point on the show (the marriage of Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys's characters) that much more enjoyable. WATCH THIS PLS & THX.
I am also enjoying all my Bravo shows immensely. Vanderpump Rules was great. I am looking forward to the Bev Hills reunion starting tonight. Shahs is completely ridiculous. And NYC comes back next week and both Bethenny and Lu are back this season. THE COUNTESS, YES. I am also finally getting into Southern Charm and am watching the newest season of Newlyweds: The First Year. Oh, and Blood, Sweat, and Heels. Lots of Bravo.
Other shows I am excited to see: Mad Men (talk about a show I am very invested in; what will I do when it's over?) and Outlander.
Sigh, I just love TV.
I got a random mini-issue of Eating Well in with my Better Homes & Gardens this month and I am trying three new recipes from it this week. Last night I made pinto bean stew with jalapeno dumplings and it was tasty. I will note that I did mine on the stovetop, not slow-cooker (I used canned beans, not dried), I added pork to mine, and I doubled the salt.
I had a pitiful showing in February (LG was sick, I was sick, we went out of town), with only 16 miles, but March was much better (54 miles.) I haven't been keeping up with my daily yoga, which I am certainly going to try to bring back in April. It's just such a nice way to start the day.
She turns four in 20 days. I didn't authorize this; where should I send my letter of complaint?
Last time we talked, I was thinking of ditching The Momo Show, which I did in fact do. Too political for my liking.
I gave Comedy Bang Bang, Improv4humans, and Indoor Kids a chance, but none of them stuck.
I tried The Moth and Risk--they're both keepers and have made it into the rotation.
I am totally into Totally Beverages And Sometimes Hot Sauce (how is a beverage podcast entertaining? I don't know, but it is.)
Chris and I listened to all the available episodes of Invisibilia when we drove home from Oregon earlier this month. RECOMMEND.
I am newly into a podcast called The Blaze, all about Beverly Hills, 90210. (Beverly Hills, 90210 is incidentally, a show that was left off my Top TV shows list, which was a completely egregious error on my part. I should add it in posthumously.)
Garden season is nearly upon us. I started peppers (bells, serranos, jalapenos, anaheims, and habaneros) from seed, so I hope they do well. I will hopefully sweet-talk EBJ into giving me some of her tomato plants, which always do well. And that's it! I am saying fuqit to trying anything new. I try something new each year and each year I am disappointed. My cucumbers are always lumpy and sometimes bitter and my zucchinis haven't been doing well in years past. So, I will grow the two items that are important to us and then spend a whopping $1 on pounds and pounds of zuccs and cukes at the farmstand and be done with it.
Sort of garden related, we re-did our front area, so now it's not the ugliest house on the block.
I wish I had a true before, i.e.: all the shit that the previous owners just threw into the ground seemingly without planning, but oh well. We've been slowly ripping it out over the years, anyway. Imagine a lot of overgrown crap that makes no sense and looks terrible.
And those are all my updates. C'est fini.
Stolen from Hillary. Feel free to steal for all your blogging needs. (I just went to comment on some blogs and it seems that none of us have been posting much, so get on it. I'm talking to you Holly, MamaBub, Raven, et. al. XOXO.)
The highlight of my week... Installing new lights in our kitchen, FINALLY. It makes me happy whenever I go in there. Also, today's playdate with EBJ and K Dubs was pretty fun, especially when Katie tried to hug LG goodbye and LG ran away from her. The manners on this kid, honestly.
The low point of my week... Waking up this morning with a raging headache. Lack of sleep hangovers are some serious bullshit.
The best book/article I read... I've been reading Yes Please (Amy Poehler) and enjoying it quite a bit. Yesterday afternoon I'd read the part about how the Upright Citizen's Brigade theatre's theme is "Don't Think" and last night at improv I saw a shirt on someone that just said Don't Think on the back and I was like, Hey, I know what that means!
This week's workouts... Consisted of a lot of walking to the dreaded playground.
The best money I spent... I checked my bank account this morning and found that the winery charged us for our next wine shipment, so even if it's not in my hands yet, it's still a good purchase. Also, new lights for the kitchen!
My plans this weekend... Tomorrow LG goes to school, which means my weekend officially begins. I'll go to yoga in the morning and we'll probably make pizza for dinner. Saturday morning, I am going to a yoga class featuring a DJ, which should be fun. Sunday is brunch/lunch with the ladies. Monday funday (Chris's day off and LG's other school day, so an extension of the weekend) is still up in the air. Hopefully something fun with my bae. (I just said bae, how hip am I, guys?)
What about you all--what's new?
So my girl Holly got me the Kat Von D Ink liner for my birthday, along with strict orders to review it. I've been wearing it for about a week and here are my initial thoughts, as compared to the Revlon ColorStay Liquid Eye Pen, which is what I'd been using.
- The applicator is the same style as the Revlon, with the slightly conal shape, and sharp point at the end. I might even say the end is pointer on the Kat Von D than the Revlon. I rarely use the pointy end except for filling in when I don't get close enough to the lash line, so this works for me.
- It's very highly pigmented. With the Revlon, I feel like I have to put on several layers to make sure it's blackblackblack. The Kat Von D takes one layer. Also, it's a shinier than the Revlon, giving it a dark gunmetal color, which is a nice change. (It's still very dark.)
- It stays on all day but comes off very easily. This is what I like about the Revlon, so I was happy to see it's the same with the Kat Von D. As you may recall, the Benefit that I tried a few months ago was very difficult to remove. (Note: The Kat Von D Ink is the waterproof formula; I think the Tattoo is the non-waterproof version.)
- My cat eye needs some practice with the Kat Von D liner. With the Revlon, since I had to apply several coats, a cat eye was pretty foolproof, I just kept fine tuning it until it was right. With the Kat Von D, you really need to get it right the first time since the liner is very saturated and precise.
I think those are all my thoughts for now! If I ever have a need to glam it up, maybe I'll try it on the water line/tightlining (are these terms interchangeable? Please advise) and then report back. (Right now if I line the water line, I use Laura Mercier Tightline Cake Eye Liner (although that seems to be a new name, as mine is just called Liner in Black Ebony) and the Flat Eye Liner Brush. The brush is key.)
This weekend we went to San Diego to relive our youth/celebrate my birthday. I am planning to write a post all about that, including beach pictures (everyone get excited for some true California smuggery!) but before I do that, I wanted to share a quick story.
On Sunday we made an emergency Starbucks stop to use the bathrooms. (In my vast experience stopping to use the facilities, Starbucks are the best because you very rarely need a key and the bathrooms are singles.)
When we walked up to the bathrooms, Chris opened the mens' room door and someone was already in there peeing. "Oh I thought I locked it!" said Peeing Stranger #1 (spoiler alert: there will soon be a Peeing Stranger #2.) I then opened the door to the ladies' room and lo, there was a woman peeing (Peeing Stranger #2!) "Oh my god, I swear I locked it!" called Peeing Stranger #2.
As we waited for Peeing Strangers #1 and #2 to finish up, we were like, "What are the odds we both walk in on someone peeing?!" We had a good chuckle, then Peeing Stranger #1 finished up and Chris went in. (We tested the door to make sure it was locked. It was.)
Peeing Stranger #2 exited (head hung in shame, which was really too bad because I totally wanted to be like, "My husband also walked in on someone peeing! What are the odds?!") and I went in. That's when I saw it. On the door were directions on how to lock the door. "Ah, Peeing Stranger #2 just can't follow instructions," I thought.
After Chris and I were both done, we met outside for a debrief. "What are the odds?!" we asked again. "Did your bathroom have directions on how to lock the door?" I asked. "No!" said Chris. "Here, I took a picture--let me read them aloud for you," I said.
So I've always liked entertaining people, but besides my small role in the junior high play or spontaneously belting out, "GOOD MORNING, BAAAAAALTIMOOOOOORE!" in my kitchen, I really have not spent much time focusing myself on "the arts" or "honing my craft" or anything like that. (Because I am not artsy. Because I do not actually have a craft to hone. These are the lies we tell ourselves.)
Almost eight years ago I started this blog because, as I said, I really liked entertaining people and I also liked writing and I found I could do both here. My readers were, and still are, limited to pretty much family, close friends, and some of my aunt's coworkers. Readers didn't really matter---I just really liked this place where I could be brutally honest (embarrassingly so, sometimes) and I think people enjoyed reading one person's account of how she (and possibly they) really felt about the topic at hand. Occasionally this blog is serious, but mostly I just aim to make people laugh. This is me in real life, too. Serious when I have to be, but mostly not.
My dad (hands down the funniest person I have ever known, ever) has been telling me for years that I needed to do something with the blog material. Like standup comedy. And I knew that! He was right! As he said, "You've written it all down already! You already have a tight 5!" But even though it was all written down, I just could not put together how I was supposed to do this. Like, mentally, I couldn't figure it out. It wasn't a fear of being on stage or speaking in front of a group (TWO THINGS I LOVE EVERYONE LOOK AT MEEEEEE.) I can't really explain it except to say it just wasn't computing for me.
In late September, I somehow found myself watching a video online of an improv show that I had actually already seen once before, when it first aired on tv a few months prior. But seeing it that second time, it computed. I needed to take an improv class. I did a quick Google and found two options for comedy schools nearby, then went with the one that got better reviews on Yelp. The class started the following week.
For the next eight weeks, I got up in front of my class and told embarrassing stories and acted like ridiculous characters. I learned the fundamentals of improv and had a lot of fun. And then I signed up for the next level class. I told more stories and learned a lot more (A LOT MORE.)
The night of our last class, I asked my classmates what class they were planning to take next. I wasn't sure what I was planning to do...Sketch writing class, standup class? As we were wrapping up, our teacher said that some of us would get the invite to play on the developmental team, which performs every Wednesday, and that some would not, but to not feel bad if you didn't get chosen. Keep working at it, etc.
This developmental team was not on my radar.
The next day as I was reading the class descriptions for sketch writing or standup, I got an email inviting me to play on the developmental team. As someone who cries maybe twice a year, I actually started to tear up. I was so honored and excited and surprised to have been chosen.
For years I've been trying to figure out, within my own mind, how to make this thing I love happen. Well, as Scheana from Vanderpump Rules so delightfully reminds us with her forearm tattoo, IT'S ALL HAPPENING.
Every week I get to go and act like a loon in front of strangers (and sometimes not---hi, Mom and Dad!) and practice and get better and make people laugh. And best of all, it's a relief. It's a relief for me to feel like I'm finally on the path to where I'm supposed to go with this.
Well I sort of feel like a fraud for even posting this, because this week and last week have been shitshows when it comes to food (we've all been sick, send help), but it is Wednesday, so here we go...here are some things we've been eating recently-ish.
Carrot Tahini Salad With Crisped Chickpeas (Smitten Kitchen)
This is so good. I double the garbanzo beans because YES.
Carrots under there somewhere...
Eggplant Rollatini (Skinny Taste)
Even though it comes from a blog with the worst name ever (what, doesn't everyone want to be skinny? Isn't that your main goal in life?!) this was TASTY. I used much more ricotta than it called for (whole fat, too--quick, someone call the skinny police) and I added sausage to the sauce. Neither Chris nor I usually like eggplant, but we liked it here. (Thanks, Maura, for the recipe rec!)
Chicken Shawarma (Panning the Globe)
This was tasty. It'd be tasty with the carrot tahini salad above, but maybe that'd be too much tahini? Possibly. I marinated it for well over 24 hours (used lemon zest, not juice in the marinade) and served it sans pita and on a salad instead. (Again, thanks Maura!)
Greek Meatballs (Michael Symon)
I bake my meatballs to have easier cleanup, but I've also pan-fried them like he does. I served this with roasted garbanzo beans (see the carrot tahini salad recipe for the method) and salad.
We like garbanzo beans here...
Chicken tikka masala (The Kitchn)
This was supposed to be crock-potted, but I was home with an ear-infected kid that day, so I made it on the stovetop instead. It was really good (I used chicken breasts instead of thighs), but it didn't get creamy-looking like the picture on the recipe shows. I used like half a can of coconut milk, so who knows.
That's what we've been cooking up! What about you?
You know what this blog doesn't have enough of? Talk of eyeliner! Okay, yes it does, but some things have changed in my eyeliner game and I'm no longer recommending what I recommended for years, so I thought an update was in order.
Long-time readers will remember that my eyeliner jam used to be M.A.C.'s PowerPoint eyeliner in Engraved. While Engraved wasn't as black as M.A.C.'s kohl liner, Smolder, it went on smoothly and didn't budge (Smolder tended to make its way to the middle of my eyelid, which was not super cute.)
Unfortunately, being a town where there's no mall (and thus no M.A.C. counter) made it difficult to pick up a replacement when my eyeliner ran out. And of course, M.A.C. isn't sold at Sephora, so if I wanted to buy online, I had to go through M.A.C. directly and pay for shipping, which: No.
So, I began using Revlon ColorStay Liquid Eye Pen and found I really liked it. It was great for a cat eye, it wore well, it came off easily when needed, and it was cheap. And I could get it at Target.
But, I am always a sucker for non-drugstore makeup, so when I read a review for Benefit's They're Real Push-Up Liner in my Allure magazine, I knew I had to try it. I tried it and immediately liked the staying power, although removing it was a challenge, especially because I try to use as little eye makeup remover as possible to minimize irritation--contact lens wearers holla!
My problem was the liner only works well only when it works well. Here's the deal: To get the liner out of the pen, you twist the bottom a few times. Then you wait. And wait. And wait some more, until the (liquid-ish) liner pops out the top of the pen. Unfortunately, all the twisting on the bottom of the pen didn't really work until sometime long after I'd applied the eyeliner. So, cut to the next morning, when a bunch of eyeliner was popping out of the top. And because it would have been sitting for 24 hours or so, the eyeliner would be hard and unusable. It felt wasteful to me, to just get rid of this chunk of eyeliner each day.
I was tagged by my girl K, so here we go.
1) What is my current health-related goal?
I was just thinking about this the other night. In 2013, I ran 388 miles (just shy of my goal of 400.) Last year, I made it to my goal of 500 miles. 500 miles was a pretty good challenge. I felt like there were times when I ran (especially towards the end) because I had to run, to meet the goal, and that sort of defeats the purpose of running for me. I don't like doing something because I have to do it, you know? Anyway, I am thinking maybe I'll just try to exceed 500 miles (which could mean 550 or 501) and try to sign up for more races. NOT half-marathons or marathons, but, like, 10Ks and stuff. I also want to do yoga more than just on Sundays at my studio.
2) What is my biggest irrational fear?
K said clowns and while clowns are pretty much the reason I am not watching this season's American Horror Story, I am not actually very fearful of them. I think they're creepy as fuck, don't get me wrong, but I don't have nightmares about clowns. I do have nightmares about intruders breaking into my house, but that's not super irrational, is it?
3) Do I enjoy wrapping presents?
I do! I waited to wrap everything this year until Christmas Eve and I'm thinking next year I'll ration the wrapping out a little more so I can get several days' worth of wrapping fun.
4) What is my favorite cross-training activity?
I'm terrible at cross-training, so I guess I'd have to say yoga (there are pushups!)
5) If you came to visit me, what would we do?
I would take you to Napa for wine/champagne tasting and lunch. If you're here for a few days, I'd take you to my favorite brunch place and then a beer tasting.
6) I have two weeks off work and two round trip plane tickets to anywhere. Where would I go and who would I take?
I'd go to Israel and I'd bring Chris and LG (I guess we'd have to buy her ticket on our own in this scenario.)
7) What’s the most embarrassing thing to happen to me during a run or a race?
I don't think too many embarrassing things have happened on a run...Just the usual biffing it on the ground and hoping no one saw.
8) Three best days of my life? Or at least the top three that come to mind.
The day Chris proposed, the day LG was born, and the day I got my own washer and dryer.
9) Okay, so I HAVE to eat a fast food meal. Which restaurant would I choose and what do I order?
In 'n Out. If I'm getting really wild, I'll get the Double Double animal style, fries, and a vanilla/strawberry shake.
10) Have I ever met a celebrity?
I've met the President and I've met Arnold Schwarzenegger, but that's it. I typically don't count political people as celebrities (although I don't count Arnold as a political person, so...)
12) If I could choose to have a “do over” and switch careers, what would I choose and why?
I can't really think of anything I would like to do that I haven't done in some capacity or am not going to do someday. I've always thought it would be awesome to work in the White House (and I'm currently watching The West Wing from the beginning, so my C.J. Cregg obsession is high), but I have basically done that (on a much, MUCH smaller scale, obviously.) I also want to work in show business. I'm not quite sure how/when that'll happen, but I'm putting it out there.
13) If I won an Olympic Gold Medal, how do I think I would react?
I would probably act all verklempt and then I'd grab a mic and make a big speech and I'd probably conjure up some tears during the National Anthem.
14) What do I want for Christmas?
I wanted a Clarisonic and I got one. I wanted gold earrings and I got them. I also got a whole Teavana set-up, which has been AWESOME. As far as non-gifts, I wanted a nice meal with my family (check and check.)
15) What skill do I lack?
None. (Is being humble a skill?)
And now I tag Caitlin, DaisyJD, and Hillary2Ls.
The last time I did one of these, I called the post, "Goodbye 2012, you and your bitch face" and then I didn't do one at all in 2013, so I guess I had a rough few years? But hey, now that 2015 is here, what better time to recap 2014?
1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
Took an improv class, performed in an improv show, ran 500 miles, watched the Seahawks win the Super Bowl.
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't think I made any resolutions. I did try to drink 80 oz. of water a day and eat one salad a day and I did pretty well at that, actually. I set a goal of running 500 miles, which I achieved. For this year, I'd like to incorporate more yoga into my life. I don't need to be doing headstands and shit, but I've been practicing for over 10 years and I still only go to yoga maybe once a week. I know (and I know enough yoga) I can do more on my own.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! Chris's best friend's wife and Chris's cousin's wife. Two beautiful baby girls (my favorite brand of baby, though I may be biased.)
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
None. I haven't visited a country since 2009 and that was just Mexico, so let's go with states. In 2014, I visited Washington, Hawaii, Oregon, and Nevada.
6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you didn't have in 2014?
A finished kitchen.
7. What dates from 2014 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
I am so bad with dates, I actually forgot Chris's birthday. So. None of them are etched upon my memory, clearly.
8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
I got into the pay grade I wanted to be in. I ran 500 miles. I enjoyed my marriage (not that I've not enjoyed it in years past, but I especially enjoyed it last year.) I finally figured out a small piece that was missing in my life (improv, although I don't know that that's specifically what was missing, but it's definitely helping me figure out my path.)
9. What was your biggest failure?
I need to put my phone down after, say, 8pm. I really improved on not bringing my phone out during family time, but once LG and Chris are in bed, it's total zombie phone time. No bueno.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No! And considering 2013 was The Year Of Ailments, this was quite the treat.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Airplane tickets to Hawaii.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
LG's! She is always so amenable when we have big life changes going on. Being yanked from school to home with me full time to being back in (a different) school...She just takes it all with ease.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The whole Ferguson thing, and everything stemming from or related to that, was appalling.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage, daycare, food.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Our Hawaii trip!
16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
Oh geez, who knows. Was it on NPR? Then I didn't hear it.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: A) happier or sadder? B) thinner or fatter? C) richer or poorer?
B) Fatter, probably. Who the fuck cares?
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Read more at night.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Sweeping the floor.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
My parents came over on Christmas Eve and we ate a big dinner and drank A TON of champagne and then spent Christmas morning watching LG enjoy all her spoils.
21. Did you fall in love with 2014?
Sure, why not? It was a damn good year.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
Homeland, Sons of Anarchy, The Americans, The Affair, all the Real Housewives.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
24. What was the best book you read?
I guess Life After Life. That was quite the thinker.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I've enjoyed Sam Baker a lot.
26. What did you want and get?
A family vacation!
27. What did you want and not get?
A finished kitchen!
28. What was your favorite film of 2014?
Preeeeeeetty sure I didn't go to the movies at all and I cannot remember any that I saw, even on tv. We got something out of the Redbox, but I can't remember what. I watcher Her on the flight home from Hawaii and it was WEIRD.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Chris and I went to San Francisco and had a blast JUST THE TWO OF US (as nature intended.) I turned 31.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I really can't think of anything. Maybe a new car?
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2014?
Swans and pineapples. I have also decided to get back into novelty socks. I don't know why I thought giving those up for plain black socks was the thing to do.
32. What kept you sane?
Running, yoga, crossword puzzles, friends, my mom and dad, and Chris.
33. What political issue stirred you the most?
I have steered clear of politics this year and it is glorious!
34. Who did you miss?
All my family I don't get to see enough.
35. Who was the best new person you met?
I met some cool people at my job and also some cool people at improv.
36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.
37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"...And this is All Things Considered."