My Pic of the Week is of me, and if you couldn’t guess from how similar we look, my beautiful mom! She flew to Austin from Indiana to visit me for the entire week of Christmas, and we really did a lot of fun things while she was here.
I had to work on that Monday, but she was able to do some shopping while I was at the office. Monday night, we hit up some TexMex at Lupe Tortillia (the shrimp tacos are on point!).
On Tuesday, I really wanted to make it a festive day, so we kicked things off with Christmas shakes at Shake Shack before hitting the ice rink on the roof of Whole Foods in downtown Austin. We used to ice skate together all the time when I was younger, but it’s been at least 10 (if not 20) years since I’ve been on ice skates. I was actually REALLY worried about us falling and breaking something or losing teeth.
But, shockingly, after skating around the rink once holding on to the rail, we both ventured off the wall and were skating like pros! Okay, not like pros, but we were doing great, and we didn’t even fall once! I’m still basking in the glory of that. And, it was really, really cool to be skating right in the heart of Downtown – during a sunset! Beautiful!
After ice skating, I surprised my mom with tickets to Zilker Park’s famous Trail of Lights – nearly 3 walking miles of Christmas light displays. While there were a TON of people there, it was really cool. They had Christmas-themed light displays, but they also had a Beauty and the Beast display (my mom’s favorite) and a Where the Wild Things Are display, among many others. It was neat!
On Wednesday, my mom treated us to an afternoon at Viva Day Spa. We had manicures and pedicures (complete with chocolates and wine), and organic facials. It was so, so relaxing, and I’m serious when I say that it was the BEST facial I’ve had. My mom even bought me some of the organic products they used on my face, including a Licorice Root serum that I’ve been slathering on daily, ever since! Good skin, here I come!
After our pampering, we drove to Lake Austin, where Mozart’s Coffee & Desserts hosts an annual Christmas light show! I’d heard wonders about this light show, but it was PACKED. I mean shoulder-to-shoulder people, all waiting for a light show that was synced to holiday music (if you’re following me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 you got to see most of it). Even though it was chilly, and we had to wait an hour to see it, the coffee and cheesecake was good, and the show was pretty dang cool.
On Christmas Eve, we stayed home (I’d had my fill of being around people) and watched Christmas movies, and enjoyed lots of wine. Of course, Christmas Day, we opened presents and ate way too much food – and my mom got me season 3 of House of Cards on DVD, so we binged on it and watched the first half of the season. Oops!
Saturday, we ventured back out, and I took my mom to The Oasis on Lake Travis. We enjoyed a wine tasting at Lakeview Winery, had beers at the brewery, and ate Mexican food at The Oasis Restaurant. It was a great day, and it even started to get chilly outside!
Unfortunately, my mom’s travel back to Indiana was less than stellar. As I write this, my mom is STILL sitting in the DFW airport, waiting to get on a flight home. Because of all the bad weather in Dallas over the holiday, more than 700 flights had to be rescheduled.
While sleeping in an airport definitely stinks, I’m glad she is okay. For more information on the storms in Dallas, or for ways to help the Dallas victims, visit the Dallas News.
I hope everyone had a great Christmas and is gearing up for New Year’s this week! It’s going to be a good one – I can feel it!
Whether you’re spending the holidays with family, friends, or both, the chances are likely you’ll need a cocktail to get through one more round of dominos with the grandparents or flip through that dusty photo album with your mother-in-law, for the 11th time.
Or, maybe you’re like me, and looking for any excuse to get a sip! As a kid, my dad used to make special drinks for the holidays — drinks we could all enjoy — that simply consisted of cranberry juice and 7Up. We called it a “Cran-Up,” and I always felt so special drinking it out of a festive glass.
The holidays are always so hard on any healthy diet, but they don’t have to be. Earlier this month, Shape Magazine released a list of “Low-Calorie Holiday Cocktails” and they are absolutely fantastic! Below are some of my favorite twists on this year’s list:
The Pomegranate Mojito
1/3 cup light pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 ounce rum
1/4 teaspoon Stevia or sugar
1/2 cup champagne
In a glass, add pomegranate juice, lime juice, rum, and sugar. Mix well. Fill the glass with ice cubes and top it off with champagne and pomegranate seeds.
Note: I’m not sure how they can call this a “Mojito” given that there’s no mint in the recipe. Add a fresh kick to it by muddling a few fresh mint leaves and stirring them in.
Rosemary Gin Fizz
3 sprigs rosemary
1 small lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 ounces gin
3 ounces club soda
In a small drinking glass, muddle the fresh rosemary, lemon juice, and honey. Fill the glass with ice, then pour with gin and top with club soda.
Not a gin fan? Replace it with vodka (lemon vodka would be delicious, too).
Apple Cider Moscow Mule
2 ounces ginger flavored vodka (but plain will work too)
2 ounces apple cider (we love homemade!)
1 small lime wedge, juiced
Ginger beer to top off, to taste
Cinnamon to sprinkle
In a copper mug, add the vodka, apple cider, and lime juice. Fill the glass with ice, sprinkle cinnamon over the ice, and top off with ginger beer. Stir well and garnish with an apple slice and cinnamon stick.
…And there you have it! What are your favorite things to sip on this holiday season? Follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 to see what’s in my cup at any given moment.
Is it just me, or is this holiday season just FLYING by? I feel like everything is coming up so fast and I’ve got so much to do before it’s over!
Nonetheless, it all starts with putting up the Christmas tree, right? Yes. I think every year, that maybe THIS year, I won’t put up a tree. Because… it’s annoying. You’ve got to dig it out, put it together, untangle the lights, and slap on the ornaments in some sort of organized fashion.
It takes forever, and it never really looks the way you’d hoped, yet we do it year after year without question. Well, my mom acted like I was crazy for not wanting to put up the tree — and given that she’s coming to visit me for the holiday, I supposed I should probably not act like the Grinch.
So, I got the tree out, but was scared shitless that the mouse in my apartment (who is either gone or still chillin’ in the lap of luxury), would be waiting for me in its branches. So, I basically dumped the tree parts onto the apartment floor and left it sitting for two days in a pile.
The weird thing was, I only saw 2/3 of the tree. So where the fuck was the 3rd part? I called my mom, asked her if she recalled seeing a rogue Christmas tree during my move. Nope. I was convinced I got so drunk when I took the tree down last year that I’d thrown the 3rd part — the tree top — down the chute. That’s when you know you party; you just assume you got drunk and did something WAY stupid.
But after hours of searching my 600-ft apartment for the remainder of a 9ft tree, I threw the other parts of the tree across said apartment in a rage. And out flew part number 3. Ta-da! Time to get this party started!
Per tradition, I turned on the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting special, and let Al Roker kick off my cheer (did anyone else catch it when he accidentally said “breast”?). I put the tree together, got the lights on, and basically threw the ornaments on in no order whatsoever. I wanted it done and done.
In two hours, my tree was done, I’d hung the stockings, and put a wreath on my tree… and I even put out a festive centerpiece on my island. It’s Christmas, y’all… now, if I could only get my shopping done…
We are just a few days away from Thanksgiving and I’m so, so excited! Thanksgiving means the official start of the holiday season, and of course lots of food and drink, but I’m also looking forward to donating my time Thanksgiving morning.
On Thursday morning, my best friend Sheena is joining me to help Operation Turkey, which is an organization that will be delivering turkey diners to approximately 8,000 homeless people on Thursday. You can see if Operation Turkey is in your city; if not, you can still make a donation that will help those in need!
Sheena and I will be helping to pack the hot meals that will be delivered — we are on cranberry sauce duty. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have my friend by my side while we do even a small part to help those who need it most.
Our upcoming volunteer opportunity got me thinking about other, simple ways to give back during the holiday season. I know you probably have charities you already give to — which is awesome — but there’s so many opportunities to give out there, and some of them are easier than you think!
One thing that’s been on my mind is the military. I feel for the families who have loved ones still overseas, and I also think of soldiers who possibly don’t have family back home to show their support. The AARP website has created a great list of ways to help the troops and veterans all year long.
One really easy way to give? Shop! Many companies have the one-to-one model, where if you purchase an item, a second item is donated to someone who needs it. How easy, and AWESOME! A company I stumbled across last week is donating beanies to the homeless. All you have to do is buy a beanie, then you get a new hat and so does a homeless person — visit the website to check out their selection of beanies.
Also, shop using Etsy. Many Etsy store owners give a percentage of their sales to charities, so look for certain shops that donate to charities you love. You’ll be able to check Christmas gifts off your lists while giving back at the same time.
Keep your eyes out for “UberSleigh” this holiday season. In Christmas’ past, Uber has held events asking participants to bring todays to donate. Uber and its drivers then donate the toys to children all over various cities. Very cool!
At the very least, perhaps donate to your local food bank, or adopt-a-family. A little bit can go a long way, and it feels so good to help someone, even if it’s something small. I’d love to know how you’re helping this holiday season — leave a comment and spread the word!
Fall is slowly starting to creep in, and no matter what the season, I’m always looking for fun ways to try new things, without hurting my wallet.
While I love wine, I think it’d be really fun to host a beer tasting at your home this season (or during any season, really)! It’s super easy, and your guests will love it.
Depending on how you want to host it, you can provide as much, or as little for your guests. Love to cook? Great! Or, host a potluck and everyone is in charge of a dish or an appetizer.
Want to provide all the drinks? Cool. But this can absolutely be a BYOB event, as long as people bring beer, and contribute it to the tasting.
When you go to Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or any specialty grocery store, they’ll often let you build a six-pack, so you could get a ton of different beer without having to buy several cases (not that it wouldn’t get consumed, I’m sure).
Provide enough glasses or cups for your guests to taste the beers, and you can even download and print beer tasting scorecards for each guest (get them right here).
- Giant, soft pretzels
- Cocktail meatballs
- Smoky Parsnip Crisps
- Bacon-Blue Cheese Sandwiches
- Roasted Buffalo Shrimp
As for the actual beer tasting portion of the evening, it can be as formal or informal as you wish. A proper beer taste is 4 ounces, and is poured into a flat cup (no tilting to avoid foam). Swirl the glass before smelling and sipping, and a bucket for your guests to dump unwanted beer would be appreciated (even though I’m sure ALL the beer will be delicious).
This, of course, could be a wine-tasting, or any type of tasting, depending on your guests and your taste. The thing I love about tastings, is that it gives you something to talk about with people you may not know, and there’s no wrong answer — if you taste the beer and it’s chocolately, then it’s chocolatey!
While the beer and food will probably be plenty of fun, feel free to add to your night with games or trivia. And of course, don’t let your guests drink and drive. Feel free to use my Uber code for a free ride: hollyp1093ue
It’s fall, y’all — cheers!
* * *
“I need to talk to someone about financing a building.”
The clerk looked Charlie up and down; from his miniature blond mohawk to his worn Chuck Taylors. It was the look Charlie always got; because he was just a kid in South Dakota.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Hoffe?” she asked, eyebrows raised. “Any relation to the painter?”
“Yeah,” Charlie sighed. “He’s my father.”
“Must be proud,” she said. “He’s nearly painted this whole town.”
She pointed to the waiting area outside the glass offices.
“Wait there,” she said.
Charlie sat down and hoped there was no one at the shop who wanted a tattoo. When his name was called, he walked into the office and sat next to the candy dish. He told the woman what he was hoping to do and she scowled at his left arm; the one covered in psychedelic designs.
She gave him a few building options, but listed even more problems. All of the buildings had to be brand new or completely renovated to agree with local tattooing laws. “New” meant money and “makeovers” meant even more money. She suggested he stay put for a few more months to save money. Charlie asked if she wanted a tattoo.
Three months later, Charlie walked briskly into Tucker’s with a grin on his face. Sara was there; she didn’t look up from filing her nails.
“Today’s my last day,” he said.
“I got my own place. No more Tucker’s; no more sharing a sign.”
“Why leave now — you’ve done pretty well here,” she asked.
“I know, but I’ve always wanted my shop, my address, my sign.”
Sara shrugged and got back to her nails. Charlie waited in his corner and spent free time packing his things. He tattooed a semi driver who wanted a nude Elvira figure on his shoulder.
“Good work, kid,” the man told him.
Charlie loaded the Corolla with boxes and supplies and drove home. He opened the door to the other half of his house and setup his tools. It wasn’t a shop on The Strip or near South Beach, but it was his. He opened a box of neon tubing and hung the square in his front window. He plugged in its cord and rolled the switch. “TATTOO” lit up the entire room; a blue and orange glow.
He hadn’t talked to his dad in a good week. His heart was beginning to cool from even trying. But he couldn’t think about that now, his work was cut out for him. The new location brought a new batch of tattoo virgins. He hoped they’d get addicted like he was and return over and over again. He’d done a wolf for the lady next door and a cross for her boyfriend. He’d started a “Starry Night” rendition on the arm of the garage band singer on the corner. He was still eating noodles, but he thought less about it.
He called his dad mid-week.
“Dad, you know I don’t work at Tucker’s anymore.”
“Oh, so you called for money?”
“Nope. Actually, I was calling to tell you to stop by my shop soon.”
“Your shop? Since When?”
“Since…well, since awhile. I’ve been building clients and doin’ okay.”
“That isn’t really what I meant when I said you should look beyond Tucker’s.”
“But this is what I wanted… you should think about stopping by.”
Charlie knew his dad was disgruntled, but he tried not to think much about it. Only Charlie knew what was best for him and he was just glad he really didn’t need the money from his dad. He knew his shop wasn’t up to his father’s standards; it probably never would be.
Later, Charlie was in the middle of a sketch — a thorny rose for the woman bartender in the city — when a truck pulled up. Charlie kept working. It was Charlie’s father. He approached the screen door and stood.
“You okay?” Charlie asked.
“Sure, son. Why wouldn’t I be?”
Charlie opened the door to the shop. His father stepped inside with caution as if the floor would fall in. He slowly gazed at the posters on the walls and looked the bartender up and down.
“Well, this is it,” Charlie said, gesturing around the room.
“Okay, well do you have time to give me a tattoo?”
Charlie’s eyes grew wide.
“Sure,” he said. “You got somethin’ in mind?”
I’m always trying to figure out different things that make people compatible — horoscope signs, personality tests, age, family situation — but what about birth order?
Turns out (after Googling), there’s actually a TON of information out there on this! An article in Women’s Day lays out the characteristics of each birth order “type”:
- Firstborns: Organized, ambitious, and dominant when it comes to relationships
- Middleborns: Good at compromise, however some can be secretive
- Lastborns: Less responsible; less likely to take charge
- Only Children: A lot like firstborns; responsible and mature
Yes, I made this handy chart for your reference. The best matches are Oldest/Oldest, Oldest/Youngest, Middle/Middle, and Only/Middle.
Only children are an interesting breed — I am an only child — and according to the aforementioned article, how only children act in relationships is directly related to what “type” of only child they are. Are they independent and responsible like Older children or are they spoiled and needy?
Depending on the type of Only child you are, that determines your match.
An article from e-Harmony has a little more information about what birth order can offer to your relationship:
- Firstborn: reliable, no guesswork when it comes to relationship; however, they may need help when it comes to spontaneity.
- Middle: makes a good romantic partner; willing to work hard for a happy relationship; however, will typically try to avoid conflict.
- Youngest: Less likely to conform; comes up with creative solutions to problems; may expect others to take care of them.
- Only Children: dependable; sensitive; seeks perfection.
What do you think? Have you had any experience with birth order matches – do they work?
A few weeks ago, I got a Facebook message from my uncle, my dad’s brother, saying he read my post about my nonexistent relationship with my father.
He told me it was obvious that I was leading an unfulfilling life and the only way I would ever be satisfied, is if I consulted Jesus.
This is the same Uncle who called me a bitch years ago, because I’m a liberal.
What would Jesus do?
Nonetheless, his message got me thinking about religion. I’ve never really been religious, as I feel I don’t know enough about different religions to pick one that suits me — although Buddhism sounds appealing.
According to Google (the highest power there is), a religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.
So really, that could be anything.
A few weeks ago, a coworker was telling me that she got married just three months after dating her now-husband because there were no “questions.”
They are Mormons, so they don’t smoke or drink. To her, she said that made it easy.
“I didn’t have to wonder how he would be if he got drunk, because we don’t drink,” she said.
Having dated an alcoholic, this did sound rather appealing.
But it’s impossible to say that any religion is just going to make a relationship perfect.
After all, I’ve had an affair with a man who had very large religious tattoos. Supposedly, he was a strict Catholic. Still a cheater, though.
I recently joined “Coffee Meets Bagel,” a dating app that looks through your Facebook friends and tries to set you up through mutual people.
On my profile, it asked about religion. I put the usual: Not religious, but spiritual.
What does that even mean?
I do believe in an afterlife, a higher power, reincarnation, and karma.
Most of the men I’ve dated have been Catholic, but I’ve never been with someone really serious about it.
In college, I dated a guy who would say he felt guilty after we had sex. He would say, “Ugh, I regret that,” right after we finished.
It did wonders on my self-esteem.
I suppose that since I’m questioning where I stand on the religious front, it’s directly related to the types of men I date.
I don’t think I could date someone who was really strict into any religion, since I wouldn’t understand it.
I like brunch on Sundays; not church.
But if a person is really devout in their faith, I’d hope they’d be with someone who was just as devout.
After all, religion affects lots of factors in life, in marriage, and it often dictates where and how you can get married.
I’m not against religion at all. But I’ve never met someone that was really true in their faith.
Any religious person I’ve met is filled with just as much hate as the next person.
Call me a hippie, but I’m a firm believer in love and kindness.
I may skip out on Sunday service, but I’m a volunteer and a donor. I smile at strangers, and when I can, I pay it forward, Starbucks’ style.
I want to date someone who’s equally kind, and won’t lie to me.
I appreciate my uncle looking out for me on the religious front, but I’m pretty sure he cheated on his wife, so there’s that.
He can keep Jesus, and I’ll just go with love.
It’s been 10 months since I’ve talked to my father. I haven’t seen him in two years, and it’s been about 10 years since I’ve spent a holiday with him.
I don’t have his address (it’s somewhere in Kentucky), and the last e-gift card I sent him for his birthday went unopened (and I kept getting automated emails reminding me about it).
Shortly after my 16th birthday, my dad bought me a car, took me to lunch, and told me he was moving out. He left that night.
I can’t and won’t say that I had a bad childhood. I didn’t, and I know my parents worked really hard, and sacrificed a lot to make sure I had the things I needed.
In fact, my dad and I have mostly had a friendly relationship over the years. We have a lot in common; we are both writers, techie-nerds, and we love to laugh.
But I wish he would have been there when it really counted — to scare the shit out of every guy I dated, to teach me how a man should respect a woman, and to give me confidence in my achievements.
My dad is a subject I told myself I’d never touch in this column or on my blog. I know he’d hate me for it.
But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a woman with dating issues is usually suffering from daddy issues, too.
Multiple studies over the years reveal that women without a solid father figure are more likely to be desperate for male attention, sexually promiscuous, have an unplanned pregnancy, and perhaps go through a divorce.
For years, I never thought I had these problems. I actually thought I’d beaten the statistics — I didn’t have daddy issues!
But the dots started to connect.
I’ve dated men who abused or manipulated me; I had an unplanned pregnancy, which resulted in an abortion, and I have terrible self-esteem.
I don’t recall my dad ever being happy for me or proud of me. Graduating from college, getting a job, buying my own car… none of those things ever earned his approval.
Many times, they seemed to piss him off.
He started setting rules that made it so we couldn’t see each other; bringing up past court battles with my mom, or saying he doesn’t drive on holidays.
I spent years working around his rules; I just wanted him to support me and love me.
But last summer, I’d reached my breaking point and I finally stood up for myself. I told him the words I’d let build up inside me for years.
And in return, I got silence.
I’ve been through therapy, and am still trying to resolve the question that haunts me daily: if my own father won’t talk to me, love me, or be proud of me, why would anyone else?
Even though we are both adults, I hope that he can understand my feelings, tell me he loves me, and we can move on as a family.
No one can fulfill the relationship a daughter has with her father, and I’m still wishing that ours can be resurrected.
If you’re able to see your dad this Father’s Day, or even talk to him, thank him for being there when it really mattered.
Not all of us are lucky enough to have that option.
I spent all of last week with my mom, as she was in town to visit. I hadn’t seen my mom in an entire year! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to ask off work, so I still had to put in 40 hours while she was here, and a lot of our visiting time was early in the morning or late at night.
But nonetheless, it’s still fun to have your mom around. She cleaned my apartment, really getting my bathroom in tip-top shape, and she cleaned my bedroom carpet, and dusted nearly the whole place. I am really thankful for it, because it’s something I feel like I never have time to do.
We also got to eat some yummy local food (gator tacos, boiled crawfish), did some shopping, got our nails done, and just caught up (even though we talk every day).
For Mother’s Day, I gave my mom a few gifts, one of which was a bracelet from Little Words Project. I’ve become obsessed with them after following them on Instagram @Littlewordsproject. Basically, they make and sell bracelets that have words on them, words of encouragement. You give someone a word you think they need, and when they’ve gotten all they need from their word, they pass it along to someone else who may need it.
In April, someone gave me a “Courage” bracelet, which I’ve been wearing ever since. When I went home to Indiana, I gave my friend one that said “Imagine” and then I gave my mom this “Laugh” bracelet.
I love wearing it, and although it’s kind of silly to think, seeing that word (courage) really does give me strength throughout my day! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend with your moms and families.
Alright, I’m going to admit that I’m really bad about this whole “Introducing the significant other to your friends” thing.
In the past, I get really excited when I meet a new guy and we start hanging out (who doesn’t?), and I want him to meet my friends, whom I love so much. I don’t mean for it to be a serious thing, although it is a good idea to see if he fits in with the crowd.
What ends up happening is that it doesn’t work out with the guy, we stop talking, and my friends (or I) never see him again. And I’m left feeling like a big jackass because I just introduced a guy to my friends who ultimately was a blip on my life’s radar.
My friends have assured me that I shouldn’t feel like a jackass — they’ve been single, too, and they know how it goes. I still feel stupid.
In my recent dating adventures, I told myself that I wasn’t going to introduce a guy I’m seeing/talking to anyone, until things are serious — as in, we’re exclusive, and in order for THAT to happen, we have to have been talking for at least three months.
I know, rules. But if I don’t crack the whip, I’m just going to stay single forever, right? I still might ;)
Anyway, I did a little Google searching to see what the interwebs had to say about the matter, and I found a few things.
For starters, YourTango.com suggests that meeting the friends too early can actually put pressure on your FRIENDS, because they feel like they’re pressured to make relationship decisions for you. I’m not sure if this is true, but… they do suggest waiting to introduce a guy until you’ve been on at least three dates (duh) and to keep it casual for the first meeting.
I found some decent advice on April Beyer’s website, which suggested asking yourself WHY you’re introducing your girl/guy to your friends — approval? Locking in the idea that you’re a couple? April suggests waiting until it feels natural, which sounds like a solid idea.
It’s safe to say it’ll be awhile before I introduce a guy to my friends, if I’m ever that lucky. But when I do, I’ll make sure I’m doing it for the right reasons.
Thursday night, I could not wait to finish with work, jump into my sweats and walk right on over to the movie theatre for the midnight premier of “The Longest Ride,” a film adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks bestseller.
I was really excited for several reasons: 1. the book was fantastic. I have very, very fond memories of laying out on my terrace, getting a tan, sipping on a wine spritzer (no, seriously), and falling in love with this unique story, 2. SCOTT EASTWOOD IS FINE, and 3. I allowed myself a cheat and got a junior popcorn, with butter.
But seriously, that second point needs to be mentioned one more time… because how have I not noticed him nor his hotness before now?
Anyway, “The Longest Ride” is the story of two couples — very similar couples — in different time periods, whose lives intersect in a very unique way.
The movie and the book tells both of their stories, while in turn, offering a tale of love… as only Nicholas Sparks could. Read more about the book from a previous blog post, here.
I think this movie struck me in an interesting way, because some of the issues in the story are easily things that could happen to anyone. Lately, I’ve been having a lot of questions and uncertainty when I think about love and my future. The movie touched on those issues, and although it was a little overwhelming at midnight on a Thursday, it was cathartic.
While I’ve seen all of the movies and read nearly all of Sparks’ books, this one is definitely one of my favorites (I just love “The Last Song”). I don’t, and won’t, spoil the movie for you, but per usual, don’t forget to pack the Kleenex!