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Staycation, all I ever wanted!

I am fairly certain its bad blogging etiquette to say how exhausted I am, but it’s been a crazy few weeks at work, and life has just been SERVING it to me. Lucky for me, I planned a staycation for myself months ago and have the entire week off!

At first, I didn’t think I’d be that excited about a staycation (I’ve never really had one) and I also thought a week (or 9 whole days) off work would be almost too long. Turns out, I’m already feeling like I probably should have asked for two weeks off.

Regardless, I made a list of things I might do next week – with an understanding that I also might just lay in my bed until the morning of July 9th, when I’m expected back at the office. So, here’s what I’m thinking:

Brunch at Holy Roller

This downtown gem is known for their witty, religious twist on their decor and menu items. They are also home of the “Trash Fries” – but I’m also eyeing the “Grilled Cheesus”. Take a look at their menu for their full offering.

Head to the Movies

It’s been a minute since I’ve been to the movies, and I really want to see “Tag” along with the new “Jurassic World” – I even have a free movie pass to use, so I’m really hoping for one of those afternoons where I’m the only one in the theatre…

4th of July Paddleboarding

This is the only event I know for a FACT I am doing because I already bought my ticket… plus, I’m pretty excited about it. This is a 2-hour stand-up paddle-boarding session on Lady Bird Lake at night underneath the Downtown Austin fireworks on July 4. I can usually see fireworks from my apartment, but each year I always wish I would have actually gone somewhere to see them closer… and I think this is about as close as I can get! I have only been paddle-boarding once before, but I didn’t fall, so I’m hoping I have similar luck!

Lounge by the Pool

It’s a no-brainer that at least a few times, I’ll be at the pool with my head buried in a book, alongside a cooler full of snacks (and white wine).

Binge on ‘The OC’

I bought seasons three and four and have no had a chance to start either of them! I really have some catching up to do.

Lunch at Veracruz All Natural

I heard that Round Rock’s Veracruz All Natural has THE BEST shrimp tacos in Austin and I will happily forgo my vegan diet to try these bad boyz. They also serve 32-ounce agua frescas and I am so freaking excited to get a pineapple one!

Cook in the Kitchen

While I do plan on eating out and enjoying food at the Drafthouse during movies, I do want to cook a few new vegan goodies right at home, including Garlic Buffalo Brussels Sprouts from Rabbit and Wolves, and a Banana Cream Pie from the Minimalist Baker #treatyoself

And so concludes my list. I sort of wanted to include a few productive things on my list, like renew my passport, renew my car registration, and wash my car… but I decided to drive myself insane and did it ALL this week so that next week – I’m completely without obligation.

I’ll let you all know how it turns out on Instagram and SnapChat @OrangeJulius7

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BBC: ‘Almost Missed You’.

Rolling right on through my library reserves… If you follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 you know that I picked up two crime fiction novels two weeks ago, both about missing persons. That’s the risk you take with, what I like to call, the Russian Roulette of Reserves.

Of course, it’s like, way less risky… given that the worst thing that’s happened to me is two crime fiction novels in a row, but I’m dramatic. So, let’s get to it!

The latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is “Almost Missed You” by Jessica Strawser. Here is the official description:

Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good.

So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach―just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.

Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.

As the suspenseful events unfold through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin, Jessica Strawser’s Almost Missed You is a page turning story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.

Nothing like having a buzz on the beach and coming back to the hotel to see that your family is missing! As mentioned, this book flips between perspectives, which is sometimes confusing, but it works here.

Around the 100-page point (this has been my assessment mark lately), I started to wonder where this was going. I was into it, but I didn’t feel invested in the characters… until about 14 pages later, and my jaw was hanging. After that, I read it fairly quickly.

I’m recommending this to modern true crime lovers, and also anyone that has a fascination with Craiglist’s Missed Connections… weird, but you’ll understand why if you read it!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club is reading is “A French Wedding” by Hannah Tunnicliffe (I chose this one to read before reading my next crime fiction book) purely because I’m still on a high from the royal wedding.

This weekend, and pretty much until it gets too hot, I’m planning on being at the pool. And when it’s dark out? Parked in front of my TV – summer is here, y’all!

In memoriam: The Fabulous Jackie.

Jackie and the Reatta.

Jackie and the Reatta.

I learned yesterday that one of my favorite writers, an inspiration, Jackie Collins lost her very private battle with breast cancer after nearly seven years.

A woman as fabulous as Jackie was never defined by age, and so we’ll not mention how young she was, but we’ll just say, she’s left us too soon. What are we supposed to do without the famous Santangelo saga?

My career as a relationship blogger and columnist would be non-existent if it weren’t for Jackie, as she was a trailblazer for women in literature, which is why this blog has mentioned her many times (read this profile on her amazing self), and she will never be forgotten.

Jackie embodied the lifestyle (in some aspects) of the characters she wrote about; she lived a writer’s dream. Her success in writing about the scandals of the Hollywood elite rewarded her with unheard of sales — more than 500 million copies of her books have been sold around the world. She’s published 31 consecutive New York Times Best Sellers, including the wildly famous “Hollywood Wives.”

She was a class act, and fabulous, by every stretch of the word. Her home reflected her success, but her work ethic was as classic as it gets — she wrote all of her work in longhand before handing it over to an assistant to type. She kept every original manuscript bound in leather journals in her home.

What I find most interesting about Jackie is how she kept her cancer journey private, until very recently. In what would become her last interview, she discusses her decision to keep her battle just between her daughters (her sister Joan found out about the diagnosis only weeks before Jackie’s passing).

Sadly, Jackie suffered from cancer many times before she was diagnosed, losing her mother, second husband, and a fiance to the disease.

But nonetheless, she forged on. And she did so with the type of class that’s rarely seen anymore. She was talented and humble; as the Telegraph described her, “a combination of the down-to-earth with the almost unreachably glamorous.”

She was a feminist because she lived that way; not because she talked about it.

What I loved most about Jackie is that she never, ever forgot her readers. She was quick to take up social media to connect with us, and just as I always write an author when I love their book, she always wrote me back. I will forever treasure her words to me.

May she rest in peace; and may her next life be just as glamorous as the one she lived here. I know no female author can ever replace what she’s done for the next batch, but I hope we can at least try.

Whatever you have a passion for, then you must do. If you want to write, write about something you know about. — Jackie Collins

Pic of the Week.

Surprise! Party's here!

Surprise! Party’s here!

I spent last week in Austin, and made the trek back to Baton Rouge late Friday night. I wanted to visit my kitty, get some packing done, and I had one final shift to work at my retail job. My friend Derek had been telling me for weeks he was going to come over Saturday night for a “packing party.”

So, Saturday night around 7, he knocks on my door with a few bottles of wine (standard practice in my household). We’re chatting and I’m well-aware that he looks dapper and I was in my pajamas having not showered for two days.

And then, there’s another knock on the door. No one ever knocks on my door, so that was weird. Upon opening said door, there were two of my friends — Liz and Ashley — SURPRISE! They had balloons and alcohol and smiles on their faces! It was amazing!

I was so freaking surprised, I can’t even put it into words really. Part of my wished I looked cuter and that my apartment wasn’t a wreck with boxes, but here were my friends, who really don’t care what I look like or the condition of my home. They understood, and it was really one of the nicest things anyone has done for me.

Instead of packing, we ordered takeout and sat and drank and shot the shit. It was a fantastic Saturday night.

I don’t mean this to sound the wrong way, but I was feeling a little weird about my departure from Louisiana. I definitely have mixed feelings about it — I’ve lived in Baton Rouge for 12 years! There are certainly things I will always love about Baton Rouge: the oaks, the drive down Stanford Avenue (bonus points if you can catch the sunset), and the culture. There really is no place like it.

But, I’m excited for what’s to come. Sunday morning, Liz pretty much summed it up: “Are you excited about Austin? Not that many people get to start a life somewhere new…”

And she’s right. Not a lot of people do. And even already, I’ve questioned how I got so lucky for this opportunity that seems to be so perfect, that at times it feels like this moment was formed exactly for me.

Sunday night, I joined my friends for dinner — my “farewell dinner” — and as we were seated, I realized I was face-to-face with the woman who told me my services were “no longer needed” exactly 10 months ago. Things have really come full circle.

My official moving day is Saturday, and I still have so many ties in Baton Rouge that it won’t be my last time in town, of course. But being surrounded by so much love over the weekend made me feel happy and sad all at once.

It made me realize that I’ve been through a TON during my years in Louisiana, and I’m really lucky to have met some amazing people along the way.