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Watching: ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’.

Just saw this movie!

Yesterday afternoon, I saw a movie I’ve been eyeing for awhile, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” starring Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson.

“Three Billboards” is the story of Mildred (McDormand), a passionate mother who is trying to push the local police to continue working on her daughter’s murder case. To spark their interest, Mildred pays rent on three billboards along a seldom-used country road to advertise her case.

The words she plots on the billboards puts Ebbing, Missouri into a tailspin – to say the least. But although what she’s doing is not illegal, the police are willing to do anything (and everything) they can to get her to shut up and remove the billboards.

Although it’s not directly related, Mildred and her billboards highlight the systematic racism within the town of Ebbing, solidified by the police force and their brutal actions (not to mention the words they say).

This movie was very dark, and although their were parts that made me laugh – I felt like the audience was constantly nervous-laughing, because it was so dark, and it was difficult to tell exactly what was going to happen next.

It’s obvious Mildred has never quite fit in, in Ebbing, and the brutal murder of her daughter seemed to harden her even more, creating an even greater distance between her and the town. The conclusion of the film (no spoilers) wraps this up nicely.

Although it was difficult to pinpoint exactly when this film took place, it has a timeless sensibility to it. After all, it’s not a recent problem for missing girls to be found murdered, have their killers on the loose, and for a police department to pick and choose who they go after based on race and/or relationships.

I cannot close this blog post without saying that parts of this movie were very difficult to watch. I had my hands over my face for probably 1/4 of it, and was on the verge of tears for at least half. It’s gut-wrenching.

But, it was well-done, and very unique. A recommendation for crime and mystery lovers.

Naturally, I saw this movie at the Drafthouse, so I treated myself to some fries and a salted caramel shake. YUM.

I was happy to go home afterward and make Christmas ornaments though, and get my mind out of such a dark place.

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How to make the most of it.

The world is your oyster!

The world is your oyster!

A big part of this blog is me figuring out how to make the most of any situation. People say it all the time, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!” But no one ever talks about HOW we’re supposed to make the most of it.

So, I’ve taken a look at some typical situations and attempted to figure out how to make the most of them, or at least try to.

How to make the most of your time.

In high school, I had a history teacher that asked us what we would do if we could do whatever we wanted in 24 hours. I don’t remember what I said I’d do, but I do remember calculating that in order to do everything I wanted, I needed 26 hours.

I’d say most people probably have that issue: there’s never enough time. And then someone snaps back with, “Well Beyonce has 24 hours in a day, too!” Yeah, she does, but she also has a staff.

Instead of wishing for more time, you’ve got to look at the time you DO have, and then figure out how you’re already spending it, what things are sucking up your time, and how you want to utilize your newly found free time.

Start by looking at the time you have: everyone does have 24 hours in a day, and 168 hours in a week. Take a look at how you spend your time – and subtract it from your 168 hours, just as you would a bank account.

Of course, there’s things you have to do – like work 40 hours. But do you always work through lunch when maaaaybe you don’t have to? I’m guilty of this, but even if you vow to take one lunch break a week, that’s an hour you could read the book collecting dust on your nightstand.

Once you track where your time is going, pick things you can remove – maybe your time is being taken by checking Facebook several times a day or watching too much TV when you’d rather be doing something else.

Even if there’s an extra 15 minutes here or there you can find – that’s time you can devote to something on your to-do list, or something you’ve been putting off. Cheers to finding hidden hours in your week!

How to make the most of your workout.

I know a lot of people made 2017 resolutions to lose weight or to work out more. But in the essence of time, why not just make the most out of your workout?

When I lived in Baton Rouge, I spent a few years really getting into fitness, and I worked out several times a week at a boxing gym. All I did was go to a boxing or kickboxing class for one hour 4-5 times each week, and it was the best I think I ever looked and felt.

Sure the workouts were tough as nails, but in one hour, I burned a ton of calories and got strength training. I even met some awesome friends while I was at it!

I take a similar approach to my workouts now that I live in Austin. I take dance classes several times a week (I took 7 last week), and even though it may not burn as many calories as the boxing classes, I’ve gained confidence, built physical strength, made friends, and get to express myself creatively – all while burning fat!

So, find a workout that’s going to work for you in more ways than one: maybe it’s something you love, maybe it’s a chance for you to see a friend each week, or maybe it’s just seriously intense (hi, pilates) and you’ll see results quickly.

Whatever you do, don’t just go to a gym and mindlessly do the eliptical, because that burns about 0 calories and you’re going to be wasting your time.

How to make the most of your weekend.

If you work Monday-Friday, 9-5, then you probably rely on your weekend to really get things done, or possibly to just party and let loose. I used to use my weekends to clean and cook, and while I felt productive, I also felt tired on Monday mornings.

So I started doing my household “chores” during the week. As shitty as it sounds, it’s not bad. I made a list of all the little things that need to be done: litter box, sweep, mop, trash, wipe mirrors, etc. Then I bought a dry erase calendar from the Dollar Tree and stuck it to my fridge and put one or two chores for each night of the week.

Of course, doing chores after I’ve worked all day and gone to a dance class isn’t really a party, but most of these chores take maybe 5-10 minutes, so if I want to watch TV, I can usually get it done on a commercial break.

It also helps if you spend just 5 minutes picking up before you hit the sack; then when you wake up in the morning, you’re not greeted by a giant mess.

So, if you get your chores done – or a majority of them done – during the week, you can use your weekend to do something more fun, or work on a bigger project you’ve been wanting to do.

How to make the most of your sleep.

I used to be a very troubled sleeper, and if I’m not careful, then I will have a shitty night’s sleep and that pretty much ruins everything.

Of course, different things work for different people but this is what’s worked for me. I started by finding an all-natural sleep aid that I like (it’s called Rest EZ and it’s from Melaleuca). It helps me relax when I’m ready for bed and helps me stay asleep without feeling groggy in the morning.

Secondly, I stopped drinking during the week, and honestly, I cut back on drinking in general. Date an abusive alcoholic and that’ll all but ruin drinking for you. Sometimes, a glass of wine seems like it will help you relax and sleep, but for me, it made for a lesser-quality sleep and often led to really weird nightmares.

Next, I set a bedtime for myself. Sounds silly, but it helps me get to bed in time to actually sleep enough to function the next day. I use the bedtime app that’s already on my iPhone, and it has a little alarm that goes off when I need to go to bed. If I don’t go to bed then, I am consciously making that decision to be tired the next day.

Other things you may consider doing: using essential oils to help you relax and sleep, making sure electronics and lights are off while you sleep, or maybe even investing in nice sheets or a more comfortable mattress.

Want to get shit done while you sleep? Get one of those facial masks that works to improve your skin while you sleep – I’ve also seen other skin creams you can apply before bed that work while you sleep; or maybe go to bed with the lotion socks or gloves on.

How to make the most of a shitty situation.

Whether you’re stuck on a bad date, had a terrible day, or are running late to something super important, there’s a few things you can do to make it suck less.

One thing I always try to do is figure out what I can immediately learn from the situation so it either doesn’t happen again, or I can prepare better for it next time.

Then, I try and put it into perspective: is this something that’s going to matter tomorrow? In a week? In a year? And react accordingly. Try not to beat yourself up over something small, or something that’s out of your control.

And finally, it sounds cheesy, but find the good in the situation – even if it’s something small. I spent the last 15 months of my life pulling data and dumping it into spreadsheets, but I got to listen to about 45 hours worth of podcast material every week and I kind of loved it. So, there’s that!

…And there you have it! If you’ve got additional tips for my list, feel free to leave them in the comments.

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‘Mariah’s World’: Crossing Borders.

Okay, MC.

Okay, MC.

IIIIItttttt’s Monday and I’m not at work, so let’s celebrate that for a good week. It has actually been freezing (literally) here in Austin, so I spent the weekend under my electric blanket, crawling out only to watch what was reported to be the worst hockey game in Texas Stars’ history.

Brrr.

But I still managed to watch last night’s episode of “Mariah’s World”, so let’s get into it…

At the start of the episode,  there’s still a big issue with the fact that the dancers don’t want children on the bus. But, Mariah wants everyone to get along, so she says to just let things happen “organically”.

So… the crew is off to London for another performance on the tour.

The issue this time is that Mariah’s assistant has fired the top hair stylist, and instead, they hired someone within budget, and who causes less drama. But Mariah’s hair doesn’t look as great.

So, that’s an issue.

Her staff is also focused on her “Anniversary” – Because Mariah Carey doesn’t believe in birthdays. Why would she?

But the excitement of her upcoming celebration is plagued by the DRAMA of two things: 1. The tour manager did not inform anyone that there was a time difference in Luxemborg, where Mariah was performing, so they arrived an hour late, and 2. Stella rehires Danielle and accuses her of being the one going to the press about all the drama.

I see the whole time change thing from a few different angles. Of course, I don’t understand how Mariah can have a huge staff around her and no one realizes (or says anything) about the time change. And two, why do people in concert crowds get soooo pissed about that? Have another drink and calm down.

On the Stella and Danielle front, Stella is the one that says Danielle causes drama, but it seems to be the other way around with Stella picking fights and flipping Danielle off for no apparent reason.

Finally, Mariah sits the women down, they talk it out, hug it out, and supposedly everything is just fine (but I’m sure this drama will pick up later).

On the man front, James Packer (Mariah’s then-fiance) is nowhere to be found and pretty much is non-existent at this point. Instead,  Tanaka seems to be her main man, and the staff asks him to jump out of a cake for Mariah’s upcoming anniversary party.

Naturally, this won’t happen until the next episode but this whole fake love cherade is getting old already.

Even on a high of vermicelli noodles and wine, this show is boring AF. Honestly, I think this show is just fake all around, and I think this is just part of the fact that Mariah has never wanted to really let people into her life.

Successful reality shows often let us into the moments we couldn’t imagine otherwise – seeing someone in the hospital, or even just washing their face before bed – those are unscripted moments we can all relate to. So far, “Mariah’s World” is just a dramatic depiction of her life on tour, and not even the cool parts.

We’re only three parts into the 8-part “event” and I’m really hoping something picks up here.

‘Insecure’: Guilty as F**k.

Funny girl Issa Rae.

Funny girl Issa Rae.

Well, I told you guys I was done with HBO’s “Divorce”, and I meant it! But seriously, someone tell me if the show takes a turn for the better.

But, last night I still cozied up for a brand new episode of “Insecure” – I’m going to be really sad when we get to the season finale; I really love this show!

1013506_us_events_countdowntobf2_template_associate_300x250So, this week’s episode is the one happening right after Issa slept with her ex, Daniel. At the beginning of the episode, she is driving home from Daniel’s studio and she can she Lawrence sitting in their living room.

She walks in, and immediately tells him she slept with her ex. And Lawrence slaps her across the face, and I literally shrieked in my living room!

Quickly we realize this is just in Issa’s head, and she’s still sitting in her car, outside her apartment. She goes inside, for real, and plays it off – not saying anything.

Instead, Lawrence shows her that he got a friend to help him get the “Broken pussy” YouTube video removed. Issa starts crying and tells Lawrence how thankful she is and how much she loves him. The next morning, she makes him a big breakfast and says they should finally have a date night – look who’s feeling guilty…

Meanwhile, Molly wakes up on Jared’s couch after her wasted night at her coworker’s engagement party. Jared is still pissed off, even after she apologizes to him and thanks him for letting her sleep on his couch.

When she tries to leave, though, he caves and they end up having sex. Very loud sex. Later, she cooks him dinner at her apartment, where they hook up again. But, as they are eating the meal, they start sharing stories of their dating pasts.

Molly admits to kissing a girl in college and also hooking up with one of her professors. Jared tells her he slept with his first boss who was married, and also says he hooked up with a guy once. This does not go over so smooth with Molly. She wants details, and wonders if he is bisexual.

On their date night, Issa and Lawrence see a movie at the mall, and Lawrence takes her to a jewelry store to look at engagement rings. Issa has flashbacks of her night with Daniel and immediately says they need to go.

At work the next day, Lawrence breaks the good news to Issa that he has a job interview at a tech company. Things, he says, might be finally falling into place for them. And Issa feels like a piece of dirt.

Molly and Issa go out for a drink where Molly says she just can’t shake the fact that Jared was with another guy. She really wishes he wouldn’t have said anything to her about it so she could just keep dating him, but she can’t.

Issa tells Molly she slept with Daniel, but that it won’t happen again. Molly advises her not to tell Lawrence, but instead to just move on.

When Issa gets home, Lawrence is looking in the bathroom mirror, practicing some interview questions. Issa immediately kisses him, and they sleep together.

In the middle of the night, Lawrence gets up to use the bathroom, when he trips over Issa’s bag – and her cellphone comes out. On the screen is a text from Daniel: “So we really not talking?”

END OF EPISODE!

Because of course! My jaw dropped. Because now we have two secrets. Issa has clearly made the decision not to tell Lawrence about Daniel… but will Lawrence bring up the text? Now he has to know something went on between them.

There are only two episodes left, and the previews for next week look insane (think Daniel and Lawrence at the same party for Issa’s work)!!!!! GAH!!

I also watched “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” last night because I’m just so excited that Sheree is back. But I’ll spare you – if you’re watching it, let’s chat. Happy Monday, y’all!

Episodes 5: ‘Divorce’ & ‘Insecure’.

Francis and Robert... sitting in a tree?

Francis and Robert… sitting in a tree?

Good morning! I definitely stayed up writing this entire post last night, and scheduled it to publish, and when I woke up, I see that it published with no words or phots… so there’s the wonder of technology on this Monday morning!

I spent most of my weekend at dance rehearsal, as I performed in two showcases yesterday evening. I have the day off work, and I’m really glad I planned for it, because my legs are so sore! But, more on that later this week. For now, I’ll try and write what I recall from my usual Sunday night TV binge (given that I’ve already erased the episodes from my DVR).

If you recall, last week I said I was giving HBO’s “Divorce” one final episode before I stopped watching it, and that episode was last night’s.

When the episode opens, Robert is hiring a divorce attorney. The guy seems like a complete idiot, but still costs an arm and a leg, and only accepts cash. Robert obliges, and later, the attorney calls the house and Francis answers – a rather awkward conversation follows,  but nonetheless, now Francis knows Robert hired an attorney.

She immediately calls Robert, upset that he is no longer agreeing to mediation. So, she goes out and finds herself an attorney as well – only this guy has a reputation that precedes him. Apparently, she’s going to win this thing, despite her affair, and also admitting to deleting episodes of Robert’s favorite shows on the DVR (pure evil).

Later, Francis finally gets the keys to her art gallery and the realtor tells her all the things it’s been before, kind of making it seem like businesses in that area/building haven’t succeeded. Francis seems like she’s starting to feel a bit of buyer’s remorse on the place, but it’s too late now.

That night, Francis and some of her girlfriends head out to an art opening. Francis meets one of her favorite artists, and at first, it seems they are hitting it off and that something might spark. But then, the artist says something to another guy and they end up punching each other in all all out brawl, and ending the night early. Awkward.

Meanwhile, Robert is out with Nick, who is fully recovered from his heart attack. Robert pulls out his laptop and shows Nick his ideas for “Fun Space” – one of those places that has all the trampolines. Robert is convinced that this should be his next investment, although nick isn’t so sure.

At the end of the night, Robert fires his attorney and also his accountant in a fit of rage. Simultaneously, Francis’ friends tell her she’s probably not going to get custody of her dog. And that’s the end of the episode. Not impressed. Even the previews for next week look like the same old thing. Is anyone else giving up on this show? I wanted to like it! But I’m just not seeing it go anywhere – why did Robert and Francis get together in the first place? It seems like they’ve hated each other for awhile, so I’d love to know the backstory. Someone let me know if that episode ever happens.

Heeey girl...

Heeey girl…

Afterward, on “Insecure” the story is moving right along. Isa is really concerned about the fact that all of the students found the video of her at the open mic night. She apologizes to the teachers at the school and promises she’ll make it right.

This means she goes to Molly’s office and asks her to help her sue whoever recorded and posted the video, since it was done so without her consent. Molly agrees to help and ends up calling her former date – the “Enterprise” guy. He’s happy to hear from her, but seems a little pissed when he finds out why she’s calling.

He was at the open mic night, but isn’t sure who recorded the video. He says he’ll talk to his brother and get back to her. Molly has a new man in the scene, Mike, who seems to really like her, and vis versa. She invites him to come to her coworker’s engagement party that night and he tells her he will see her then.

Later, as she’s getting ready, she texts him to see if he’s coming to pick her up. He tells her he will just see her at the party. She knows this is a bad sign, but heads to the party, where he shows up and tells her coworkers that he’s her boyfriend. Everyone seems impressed, but when Molly pulls him away and asks if he was serious about that title, he says “Of course not”, that he was just doing her a favor by impressing her friends. She’s embarrassed and asks him to leave.

Meanwhile, Daniel is determined to help Isa recover from the leaked video. He invites her to hangout at his studio, but when she gets inside, it’s dark, there’s one guy in the booth (who sounds pretty terrible), and everyone else is sitting around drunk and/or high. Isa seems uncomfortable, until everyone leaves and Daniel asks her to get in the booth.

She records a bit of a song, and Daniel seems impressed. He asks her why she didn’t give him a chance before; she explains herself, and they laugh, but sort of agree maybe there would have been something there. They kiss, and Isa stops it, at first… until things get heated, REAL quick.

Afterward, Isa has another scene looking in the bathroom mirror. You can tell she feels guilty, and she sees what looks to be a woman’s bar of soap in the bathroom, and she quickly leaves.

Meanwhile, Lawrence is working a shift at Best Buy when his lil friend from the bank arrives, wearing a very revealing top. She invites him out for drinks and he quickly reminds her that he has a girlfriend. She seems embarrassed and quickly leaves.

I’ve been listening to a podcast, “InsecuriTEA” that recaps the show, and the two hostesses predicted either Isa would cheat or Lawrence would, and I’m glad it wasn’t Lawrence. I really want him to be a good guy, and it seems he’s really trying, even when Isa’s not around.

The question now becomes, will Isa tell Lawrence about her little affair? We will see in next week’s episode!

The Olympics have taken over my life.

Let the games begin!

Let the games begin!

I’m writing this as I watch gymnastics, and even though it hasn’t been on very long, there’s already drama with the harsh scoring.

Let me back this up. Okay, so Friday night was the opening ceremony, and I have watched them before, but for some reason I always forget how long they are. As in, they are more than four hours long. I’m going to be honest here, I was struggling and almost fell asleep before the torch was lit.

I will say that, it’s always very interesting to me how the host country chooses to celebrate the opening ceremony; what music they will play, what dances they will perform, and I’ll admittedly say that each time I watch, it reminds me how little I know about other cultures.

I always enjoy watching the Parade of Nations, as you get to see all of the different athletes, and often hear their stories of triumph. And really enjoyed hearing Hoda freak out when the shirtless guy from Tonga came out carrying the flag, and he was sufficiently oiled.

Even though the games have only been on for a few days, this is definitely the most I’ve watched. Also, I don’t even understand the coverage. The descriptions on the TV guide are vague, so I never know if it’s something I need to record or not. So, I ended up recording, like, nine hours swimming and a lot of it was repeated.

I just really, really don’t want to miss Ryan Lochte. Here are some of my other initial thoughts on the Olympics thus far:

  • I loved the Polo blazers team USA was wearing for the parade of nations
  • Hearing all the stories of the athletes who’ve overcome adversity made me really emotional
  • Ryan Lochte’s SnapChat is a saving grace
  • I kind of think they’ve overdone the coverage of the “Olympic Moms”. Yeah, we already know, women are awesome!
  • Why does Michael Phelps talk that way? I feel like his mouth is different than everyone else’s.
  • Synchronized diving is seriously insane. They are perfectly together, down to the pauses and jumps… it amazes me.

At the time of writing, the US has 8 medals, including one gold medal in shooting (by a female, I might add).

Aside from spending a lot of my time watching others live their dreams this weekend (seriously, what’s more satisfying than watching the most fit athletes in the world reach their goals, while I sit on the couch shoveling brownie-pretzel snaps into my face?), I did most of the usual: read, hit the library, did some freelance, worked on the blog, and slept a ton.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, and I’ll unpack some of those thoughts as the week continues, right here on the blog.

In all honesty, I couldn’t sleep Saturday night, so I took to scrolling Instagram. Big mistake. I could easily see that the last guy I had a crush on was in the habit of “liking” pretty much every post on my feed – as in, people I’m friends with (mostly single women). Ugh.

Despite us not talking, and not even being friends on social media, I just am not in a place where I need to see that. And even when you have someone blocked, it still shows you all the shit they like and comment on. Thanks, Insta.

But what I noticed more than his desperate tries for attention, was the fact that he’d gone back and unliked every single one of my pictures from when we were friends.

Really? Honest question: is this something people do now and I’m just now realizing it? Because I would never do that.

I get it, he hates me. But, that doesn’t change the fact that at one moment in time (a mere several years), he didn’t hate me, and we had some fun. What’s the purpose of going back and unliking all the pictures? If he was trying to do it to hurt my feelings, it worked.

I spent more time than I should have thinking about it yesterday, and I’ve got some solutions to disappointments such as these that I’ll discuss mid-week.

Until then, I’ll be burning calories and stress at dance class, and working to survive another packed week at work. And yeah, I’ll be watching the Olympics… and probably Snapping about it.

Single Girl Recipe: (Paleo) Lemon chia seed muffins.

Mine didn't quite look this cute...

Mine didn’t quite look this cute…

Over the weekend, I was in search of simple – and cheap, if not free – joys. I’m sure I’ll talk more about this at some point, but I’m currently in a personal budgeting crisis. At the same time I lost two of my good freelance gigs, I owe a massive tax bill,  like now.

Money stresses  me out more than anything, and every extra penny I’ve got must go to paying off this bill. So, I needed to have a weekend full of free stuff (I see a lot of weekends like these in my near future).

On Friday night,  I hit up the laundromat, which didn’t cost me anything since I had money loaded up on my Washatopia card. Score! I did go to the grocery store afterward, as I needed eggs and something to drink at the pool on Saturday. I found this organic cucumber-lime and chile Italian soda that I figured would go perfect with some tequila I had in my freezer. I escaped the store in $7.

On Saturday, I spent a little time looking for freelance work, and then I hit the pool. I packed a small cooler with some snacks – chips, hummus, cheese, and grapes – and enough tequila and Italian soda for three large drinks.

For two hours, I was the only one there. I sat, and I read – finishing one book and starting another. I stayed out there for almost five hours. Cost: $0 and I even improved my tan.

I came home and tended to my plants, replanting some grass for Blanche, watering all the other plants, and sweeping the patio. I also made dinner instead of going out – I made brats and fries – and had a few beers that were already stashed away in my fridge. I watched a few episodes of “Dexter” before I was sufficiently freaked out (I only have a few more episodes before I’ve watched the entire series twice) and had to switch to “The Vanilla Ice Project”.

On Sunday, I slept in, enjoyed some coffee, searched for more writing jobs, and then I went to a library that’s pretty close to my house. I’d been there once before to tutor someone, and it’s really nice. I decided to get a library card and spend a few hours hunting for more good reads for Blanche’s Book Club.

The library is really nice, but I will say they checked my address twice to make sure I actually lived within the district. I had no clue libraries were so exclusive. After about an hour of searching, I got “The Friday Night Knitting Club” by Kate Jacobs and “The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating” by Carole Radziwill.

I spent the remainder of Sunday reading, looking for writing gigs, cooking, and I baked these paleo lemon chia seed muffins to eat for breakfast during the week. I found the recipe on The Iron You, and I’ll say that even though he calls them Coconut Lemon Chia Seed muffins, there is no coconut flavor in them.

They were pretty easy to make, and for paleo muffins, they turned out delicious – better than anything I tried to bake when I was actually on the paleo diet. The only other thing I’ll say is that my batch didn’t rise that much, so they look like “half muffins”. I will probably make another batch, and I think I’ll use the mini muffin tin to make them look more muffin-y.

The good news? One muffin is 92 calories, with only 3g carbs and 3g of protein! Yes!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup of coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Pinch of fine grain sea salt
  • Zest of two lemons
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of milk of your choice (I used coconut)
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine coconut flour, chia seeds, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, milk, honey, coconut oil, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar.

Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix very well until fully incorporated, the mixture has thickened, and there are no clumps of coconut flour left. Pour the batter into the lined muffin tins, 3/4 the way to the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Carefully remove from muffin tin and let cool on a wire rack. Makes 12 muffins.

Let me know if you make these muffins, or have any other great healthy recipes!

That 3-day weekend tho.

Whew! It’s sucky because it’s kind of like a Monday, but it’s a little less painful knowing it’s Tuesday, and in just four short days, I’ll be running out of the office a la Kevin McCallister on Christmas Eve yet again. I hope you all had a fabulous weekend – I know I did!

I pretty much did everything on my list; I got started a little early and hit up a taco truck Thursday night. I got two beef tacos, complete with pico and fresh lime, along with some nacho chips. I walked a few blocks home and scarfed them down with a few glasses of Chenin Blanc + Voigner by Pine Ridge.

Friday, I left work and hit the wine shop and found a bottle of Rose that looked delicious (Mulderbosch 2015 – perfect for red wine lovers). Then, I went home and made bacon-burgers with tomato jam and slaw. YUM!

On Saturday, I enjoyed a leisurely morning with coffee (of course), did a few hours of freelance work, and enjoyed a nap. I also cleared out a few hours of TV from my DVR, including “The People’s Couch”, “The Voice”, “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” and “Real World: Go Big or Go Home”.

Then, I drove to Round Rock to see my first Express baseball game – versus the Reno Aces. For starters, the stadium is really nice. I had a third row seat, which meant, I was really close and could see the players nice and well, just in case any of them were cute.

Patrick Cantwell.

Patrick Cantwell.

A few innings in, and I’ll be honest, I was starting to miss the excitement of the Texas Stars games. But then they called up Patrick Cantwell, catcher for the Express, to the plate. His walk out song was “PYT” by Michael Jackson (which is one of my favorite songs), and his number is 3 (my lucky number). Hmm… I flipped to his page in the program. From New York.

Perfect! He is sooooo freaking cute, I thought (pay no mind to the fact that he’s only 26). And then he cracked the bat, scoring the first homer for the Express. They ended up winning 5-4.

I wasn’t really hungry during the game, but I had been thinking about a hot dog all day. So, I swung by Sonic on my way home and got a coney dog and one of those Turtle Pecan blasts – holy shit, those are good!

On Sunday, I had a decent amount of freelance work to get done, so I got up and tackled it for about 4 hours while I watched the Indy 500 in its entirety. I also gave myself a pedicure, and then headed to the Drafthouse to see “Neighbors 2”, where I enjoyed a “Blood & Honey” on draft and another cheeseburger. I told you I was going to eat this weekend!

The movie was pretty funny; very similar to the first one, of course. Zac Efron looked fan-fucking-tastic – nearly too buff, but I’d still take him, no questions asked. I finished up my night with a few glasses of wine in bed and a little TV.

On Monday, I slept in, and stayed in bed as late as possible, out of sheer principle that it was Monday, and I wasn’t at my desk. Glory to God in the highest!

I had my coffee, and I finally ventured onto my patio to get a few things done. I planted the remaining seeds I’d boughten weeks ago – filling two pots with soil for wild flowers, two more pots with soil for cat grass (this is a regular thing I do for Blanche), and filling a final pot with soil for a packet of seeds I got online – tulips! I swept my patio and got things looking clean.

That’s when I realized that it was totally supposed to rain all day Monday and it was sunny, and hot as hell. So, I packed my new beach bag and headed to the pool for THE FIRST TIME. I was surprised to see that there were only a few people there,  so I lounged with my book (“What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty) and my white wine spritzer (yeah, I said it) for around 3 hours. It was fantastic!

I got home, got cleaned up, and cooked some chicken, had some wine, and watched “JAWS” – which is the first time I’ve watched it in awhile and it’s definitely interesting seeing it as an adult.

What were you up to this weekend?

Finally crossing things off the list.

Ah Monday, we meet again.

This weekend was a decent one, although too short, per usual. But I feel like a lot of things “finally” happened this weekend. Simple things, but they finally occurred.

I kicked off my weekend by finally using a coupon for a free meal at Chipotle. I didn’t really celebrate Cinco de Mayo, although I did have breakfast burritos from Taco Deli. So, I figured I’d treat myself to some sloppy carnitas at Chipotle – a sad excuse for Mexican food, but it was free, and I took it to go so I could make a proper margarita at home.

Once I got home, the first thing I noticed was that my magnolia had FINALLY bloomed! I know this sounds really kind of silly, but you don’t understand. Plants were some of the first things I bought for my apartment when I moved to Austin, in hopes of sprucing up my patio that overlooks a Taco Bell drive-thru and an Auto Zone.

So, I bought a glittery fir tree and a magnolia shrub in an effort to cover up the weird view. I bought these plants in mid-November, and somehow, they’ve survived the chill,  and a few really bad storms, and I’ve even repotted the magnolia twice… I was so excited when I saw new growth on it after it was brown all winter, and I’ve been checking the damn thing nearly every day to see when the buds would spring open.

And finally, one has! And it’s so pretty, and it smells wonderful. So, I sat on my patio Friday night, eating my free carnitas and chips and sipping my grapefruit margarita, and stared at the pretty flower.

But upon staring at it, I realized it may have a fungus or some type of mold. There are little black dots on most of the leaves. Great. I Googled and read message boards for a solid hour, and just like the WebMD effect, I still have no idea what’s up with the plant, aside from the fact that it likely has cancer, and will die a slow, tragic death.

So, if you’re a plant person who knows anything about magnolias, hit me up. I don’t want it to die.

Later in the weekend, a few other things finally happened – like I finally cleaned my car, which still had one FINAL box from when I moved… 8 months ago. Whoops!

I’m not sure why I waited so long; probably because the box had nothing of real relevance in it, despite it being super heavy, and when the move was over, the last thing I wanted to deal with was hauling one more stinking box up the stairs. But I did it, and now my trunk is clean.

I also finally found a supply of Arctic Zero ice cream at the grocery near my apartment. Have you heard of this stuff? I’ve been keeping my eye out for it for years, after hearing a nutritionist say it was perfect for staying fit with a sweet tooth, given its low calories.

Well, I bought a pint of the stuff, in peanut butter chocolate flavor, and it said on the package that even eating the whole pint was only 150 calories, had very low sugar, and even a few grams of protein. SOLD.

So, Saturday late night, after guzzling a beer, I decided to crack open the pint of this miracle dessert. About two bites in, I’m thinking a few things, one of them being, “This tastes less like chocolate and more like snow.”

I quickly checked the ingredients… and the first on the list? Purified water. So, I was eating ice. Basically, it tasted like if you made a chocolate protein shake with water. The first three ingredients were water, whey protein, and cane sugar. So, yeah.

It was dairy-free, so it wasn’t thick or creamy. And it barely tasted like chocolate. It really started to piss me off. So, I offered it to Blanche; my bitchy cat. Even she refused.

And you know what? I decided right then and there that it’s just unnecessary torture. I don’t care about looking good in my swimsuit enough to sit here and eat frozen chocolate water. If I want ice cream, I’m just going to eat it.

So, on Sunday, I finally did something else I’ve been dreaming of: I walked across the street and went to a frozen yogurt shop and got some yogurt with sprinkles. Because why not? And in reality, is it really that bad? Everything in moderation, right?

And then, I ate my fro-yo while finally watching “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” with Matthew McConaughey. It’s been on my DVR forever, as one of those movies I hadn’t seen but feel like I should have. Meh, it wasn’t that great. It was kind of like a Christmas Carol, only for dating purposes.

Basically, it’s what we all wish would happen to our douchey ex-boyfriends who treated us like shit; we wish they’d travel back in time and see how lame they were and get a reality check. It had some funny parts, but I think I’ll be okay if I don’t see it again.

Anyway, I’ve got a pretty packed week ahead, so I’m already looking forward to Friday (per usual), but I’d love to hear how your weekend was. Did you do anything that’s been on your to-do list for awhile?

Some-kinda wonderful weekend.

No alarm clock: the definition of freedom.

No alarm clock: the definition of freedom.

Last week at work was quite a doozie – I don’t want to go into details, but let’s just say our staff is dwindling. All for respectable reasons, but it’s always a little sad, and hectic, when people move on.

I always look forward to Friday, but last week held an exceptional urge to get to the end of the week. And BTW, I did try some of my “tips” for not hating Monday last week, and I think it helped some. It will be an ongoing process.

Another process is the weekend itself. I want to have this balance of doing fun and relaxing things, but being productive as well, whether it’s cleaning my apartment or working on upcoming blogs for the week, or even just hitting the grocery.

Somehow, this last weekend, I felt like I was able to hit that balance. It was a simple little weekend, nothing too crazy, but I’m coming off it feeling good, and like I have a little energy to conquer the week. Here’s a little bit of what I did:

Friyay

6:00pm – Laundromat. Raced through two loads of laundry. I don’t have a washer and dryer, which is something I’ve always been provided at the apartments I’ve lived in. I thought I’d see how long I could last going to the laundromat before I hated it and bought my own units, but I actually don’t mind it. It only takes around an hour and about $5 to get all of my clothes and linens clean. I’ve found Friday evenings are the best time to go because there’s about no one there, except losers like me. Plus, it’s a good excuse for me to read; which is exactly what I did Friday evening.

8:00pm – Hip-Hip Master Class. I signed up to take a Hip-Hop Master Class with the very talented Dylan Cheek. I definitely got worked, but it was pretty cool. He was a really nice guy and taught us an advanced hip-hop routine to Future’s “March Madness“. It was a tough routine, but it made for a good challenge (and a good workout), and it was a switch from the things we usually learn in class. Expanding my horizons one dance at a time!

Saturyay

8:30am – Finally got up after my devil cat had been bothering me since 7. Made coffee and eggs. Ate breakfast on the patio with said devil cat. Decided to thoroughly clean the kitchen while catching up on an episode of “The Real Housewives of Dallas”. Still not really liking this show.

10:30am – Folded laundry. Conquered three baskets of laundry while watching episodes of “Watch What Happens Live”. Realize that in order to put laundry away, I’ve got to clean my wreck of a closet. So, I do – even vacuuming and then decide to hang my nail polish organizer. I got it for Christmas; it’s like the ones you see in nail salons, with the little clear shelves. I hung it, and loaded it up with all 100 bottles of my nail polish, in color order. I then continue the cleaning sesh to clean the bathroom and take out the trash.

Perfect for cocktails.

Perfect for cocktails.

12:00pm – Feeling accomplished. Make a grapefruit margarita (Hornitos silver + grapefruit juice + grapefruit LaCroix + squeeze of lime) and watch a few episodes of “Jersey Shore” – the ones when they are in Italy.

3:00pm – Head out. I started at Goodwill, just to see if they have anything interesting. Found a pair of blue and white polka dot shorts, a plastic mason jar cup with an “H” on it, and a Christmas coffee mug that has gold foil stars and matching lettering on it. I cannot pass it up for $.99. If you’re new here, just know that I love to bargain shop. I head next to Big Lots (a place that always makes me happy). I find a beach-themed jarred candle collection that smells exactly like it sounds – buy the “Sun Tan” and “Beach Bonfire” scents. No, seriously. These smell amazing! I also found a bubblegum pink pair of aviators for $6. Win.

4:30pm – Walk to Half-Price Books. Start search looking for a book I heard about on a podcast a few weeks ago, “The Coincidence of Coconut Cake”. Realize I forgot the little notebook where I keep everything, so I Google the title to find the author. Find it, get to the right aisle and start my search. Crouch down to reach the “R” authors, and simultaneously get hit by a 3-year-old girl running full-speed down the aisle. Fall over, drop my phone. The mom, who was chasing after her, drags the brat back over and says, “Apologize to her, she dropped her phone”. “I’m sorry,” says the girl. Roll my eyes, and collect myself. She hit me pretty hard, and I feel like her mom is equally a shit bag for not also apologizing. Find the only copy of the book I’m looking for. Hit the checkout and wish I would have flipped that little shit off.

5:30pm – Head to the grocery. Grab my weekly needs: organic apples, almond butter, yogurt, and protein bars. Okay, and wine. Checkout, and head next door to the sushi bar. Order $30 worth of raw fish to go. Read more of “The Silkworm” while I wait. Get food, head home.

7:00pm – Decide to eat sushi dinner on the patio with Blanche. Pour a glass of wine. The weather is beautiful, my patio is nice and clean (and has a working little fountain thanks to last weekend), and I’m just taking it all in. I listen to the latest Manrepeller podcast, “Monocycle”. It’s one of those moments that just feels great. Isn’t it crazy how these little things can just completely change your mood? It’s not like I went out and bought a car or saw an inspirational movie. I just had a simple little day, where I got lots of things done but also had a little bit of fun.

Sunyay

2:30am – Wake up to an armful of mosquito bites (I’m allergic). Find Caladryl and Benadryl. Spray myself with bug spray; turn on all the lights looking for the blood-sucking bastard. No luck. Watch two episodes of “The Vanilla Ice Project”. See the little sucker fly by the TV. Kill it. Back to Vanilla Ice until I fall asleep and let the West Nile Virus spread throughout my veins.

9:50am – Wake up and get up. Coffee. Eggs. English muffin. Hit the couch for hours of TV and blogging.

2:00pm – Drop-off rent check & head to P.Terry’s for fries and chocolate shake, despite the fact that I looked absolutely horrible in shorts the day prior.

4:00pm – Nap. 

6:00pm – Meal prep for the week/cook a few Green Chef meals.

10:00pm – Back to the couch for all the wondrous Sunday night TV until my eyes close…

2 Recent discoveries + your weekend TV watch-list.

Hello, double hotness!

Hello, double hotness!

So, Justin Bieber looks like Zack Morris. Like, how did I not notice this before?? This recent, and quite amazing discovery came last week during a random (and kind of drunk) homemade marathon of “Saved By The Bell”.

For the first time, I thought, “Damn, Zack is kind of HOT!”…and then I was feeling like he certainly looked familiar. Then, holy shit, he looks like Bieber, my ultimate celeb crush (besides the obvious).

Turns out, lots of people think this, as there was already an entire article devoted to the subject: 7 Times Justin Bieber Was Zack Morris.

Hey, they’re both hot, and I’ll take it.

Did you ever watch “Flipping Out” on Bravo? Mark Paul Gosselaar was on one of the episodes, as he was remodeling his home, along with his wife, of course. He’s definitely not as not now, but still looks good.

Speaking of hot guys, I was also watching an episode of “Hollywood Medium” and Tyler (the medium) did a reading for Rob Dyrdek, aaaaaand his WIFE was totally in it. Um, when did he get married? Hell, when did he even ever have a girlfriend??

Like, I was (and still am) floored by this! She’s absolutely gorgeous, and 24, and he’s 41 – which I always assumed he would be 31 forever.

Although I spent a decent amount of time Googling, I couldn’t find out how they met, although they have been dating since 2013. There was a lot of information about their engagement, for which Rob put himself in the Aladdin musical at Disneyland and proposed – because of course he did!

On the episode of “Hollywood Medium”, Tyler told Rob to be expecting a son, and two months later, they announced a baby boy is on the way. Cute, even though I’m a little jealous.

Alright, now for your weekend TV guide, because why not?

Separation Anxiety – (Friday, 10 pm, TBS) Separation Anxiety is a comedic, relationship-based game show featuring a unique twist that isn’t revealed to contestants until after they’ve played the game. If I try to explain it, it won’t make sense, just trust me on this; it’s funny!

The Vanilla Ice Project – (Saturday, 10 pm, DIY Network) Vanilla Ice is back to tackle his toughest Florida flip ever. The pop icon and knock-out home renovator has taken his biggest risk yet, investing in a high-dollar lakefront dump in need of a top-to-bottom transformation. That means ripping rooms to the studs, adding a new pool, a boat dock with a tiki hut and state-of-the-art technology all around. Will his champagne taste end up costing him a profit? Or can he and his crew flip this tacky mess and still come out on top?

Shahs of Sunset – (Sunday, 7pm, Bravo) Fashion designer Asa deals with the stress of a new business and a photo shoot for her rapidly expanding new line, Asa Kaftans. The group plans a camping trip to address GG’s increasingly erratic behavior, and a night at home with Mike and Jessica reveals bigger issues in their marriage.

#RichKids of Beverly Hills – (Sunday, 10pm, E!) Your favorite rich brats are back with a brand new season, and Morgan is finally getting married…or is she? Totally just made up that second part. It’s gonna be juicy; plus, I heard there’s a new cast member.

Me? Aside from relaxing on the couch, tonight I’m taking a Hip-hop Master Class with Dylan Cheek, which I’m SUPER amped about!

Here’s a little info I found on Dylan from Number One Music:

Teen entertainer Dylan Cheek has been dancing and performing since he could walk. As early as six years old, the Atlanta-born prodigy would steal the spotlight at school talent shows, and he’s been known to spontaneously showcase his skills right on the street.

Dylan — or “DP,” as his friends call him — grew up admiring N-Sync, the Backstreet Boys, and Michael Jackson. He also loved hip-hop and discovered break-dancing after watching 80’s hip-hop flicks Breakin’ and Beat Street. He was instantly drawn to the urban dance style and began emulating the slick, “pop-lockin” moves of the b-boys he saw on TV.

It wasn’t long before Dylan’s natural talent was recognized by the professional dance world. In 2005, he attended the PopStarz ATL Hip-Hop Workshop and was chosen by celebrity choreographer Dave Scott to be part of the Junior Dance Company. Dylan then went on to compete in dance battles such as Dance Invasions, where he became a four-time championship winner. He’s also participated in Monsters of Hip-Hop Workshops in Atlanta and throughout the US and has taken home several scholarships and top honors at numerous Freestyle Battle competitions.

I’ll also be watching the Texas Stars play in the Calder Cup playoffs – the game is away, but there’s a watch party at Plucker’s, so wings, beer, and hockey? Yes, please!

Have a fantastic weekend with lots of sleep and wine and good TV y’all… I’ll see you right back here on Monday!

Podcasts: Serial.

BEST. PODCAST. EVER.

BEST. PODCAST. EVER.

So, around a month ago I realized two things: 1. I am not really cut out for an “open office” environment. I get really, really distracted, and the sound of other people typing ignites a rage inside my blood that I cannot explain or deal with.

And 2., In order to block out all the noise (I’m the Grinch: the noise, noise noise!), I decided to stuff earbuds into my head from the moment I get to work until the moment I leave. This means I need 9 hours of things to listen to each day – 45 hours of listening content each week.

I looked into an Audible account, but it was ridiculously expensive. So, I asked YOU guys for cool podcasts I could listen to. And you delivered! Currently, here’s my list:

  • Johnjay & Rich
  • The Jillian Michael’s Show
  • What Should I Read Next?
  • Modern Love
  • Mystery Show (finished)
  • Breakdown
  • The Blog Millionaire (finished)
  • The Agents of Change
  • The Daily Boost
  • Content Warfare
  • On The Page: Screenwriting
  • Curious About Screenwriting
  • Oh Boy!
  • Monocycle
  • Serial (finished)

Obsessed much? I’ll talk more about some of these other podcasts one day, but I really wanted to talk about Serial, because I finished listening to both seasons last week, and my days are pretty empty without it.

So what the heck is Serial? From the website: Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial tells one story—a true story—over the course of a season. Each season, we follow a plot and characters wherever they take us. We won’t know what happens at the end until we get there, not long before you get there with us. Each week we bring you the next chapter in the story, so it’s important to listen to the episodes in order.

Currently, there are two seasons. Don’t worry, I’ll warn you if I drop any spoilers.

Season One: The Case Against Adnan Syed

Adnan Syed

Adnan Syed

Here’s what Serial’s website says about season one:

A high-school senior named Hae Min Lee disappeared one day after school in 1999, in Baltimore County, Maryland. A month later, her body was found in a city park. She’d been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was sentenced to life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.

Sarah Koenig sorted through thousands of documents, listened to trial testimony and police interrogations, and talked to everyone she could find who remembered what happened between Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee. She discovered that the trial covered up a far more complicated story than the jury – or the public – ever got to hear. The high school scene, the shifting statements to police, the prejudices, the sketchy alibis, the scant forensic evidence — all of it leads back to the most basic questions: How can you know a person’s character? How can you tell what they’re capable of? In Season One of Serial, she looks for answers.

This case is interesting for several reasons, but for me, one of them is the length of time that’s passed. I cannot remember shit, so if I were being asked now about what happened in high school on one certain day, there’s no way I’d be able to recall.

Also, the “evidence” in the case is super shady. Three words here: Cell Phone Data. It was 1999. You do the math. Anyway, that’s all I’m going to say. If you’ve listened to season one already and are hungry for an update, I found one here.

Season Two: The Case Against Bowe Bergdahl

Bowe Bergdahl

Bowe Bergdahl

This is my first time really seeing what Bergdahl looks like. He’s cute, no? If you pay attention to war news, the chances are likely you’ve heard of Prisoner of War, US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. It was very high-profile, even pre-Serial. Here’s what the Serial website says about season two:

In May 2014, a U.S. Special Operations team in a Black Hawk helicopter landed in the hills of Afghanistan. Waiting for them were more than a dozen Taliban fighters and a tall American, who looked pale and out of sorts: Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier, had been a prisoner of the Taliban for nearly five years, and now he was going home.

President Obama announced Bergdahl’s return in the Rose Garden, with the soldier’s parents at his side. Bergdahl’s hometown of Hailey, Idaho, planned a big celebration to welcome him back. But then, within days—within hours of his rescue, in fact—public reaction to his return flipped. People started saying Bergdahl shouldn’t be celebrated. Some of the soldiers from his unit called him a deserter, a traitor. They said he had deliberately walked off their small outpost in eastern Afghanistan and into hostile territory. 

Hailey canceled its celebration. The army launched an investigation. Finally, in March, the military charged Bergdahl with two crimes, one of which carries the possibility of a life sentence. Through all of this, Bergdahl has been quiet. He hasn’t spoken to the press or done any interviews on TV. He’s been like a ghost at the center of a raucous fight.

Now, in Season Two, we get to hear what he has to say.

For this season, Sarah Koenig teams up with filmmaker Mark Boal and Page 1 to find out why one idiosyncratic guy decided to walk away, into Afghanistan, and how the consequences of that decision have spun out wider and wider. It’s a story that has played out in unexpected ways from the start. And it’s a story that’s still going on.

Nightly News Update from March 2015 (no spoilers here):

Lots of people found season two to be boring, but I found it FASCINATING, to say the least. I will admit, because of my politics, I do not listen to as much war-related news as I did years ago. But, hearing a lot of this information firsthand was very, very eye-opening.

I found a recent update on Bowe’s case from January 2016, if you’re game.

So, will there be a season 3 of Serial? YES. Recently, season 3 was announced and is set to drop this spring. Details? Serial’s host, Sarah, has revealed the season 3 topic here.

And that’s a wrap, y’all! It’s Friday, and I hope you have a fantastical weekend that goes by nice and slow. I’ll see you right back here, on Monday!

Blogging for Beginners at UT!

Blogging for Beginners is coming to UT!

Blogging for Beginners is coming to UT!

Dare I say “Hook ’em“? Because I am so, SO happy to (finally) announce that my course, Blogging for Beginners is being offered as an informal class at the University of Texas at Austin! Registration started last week, with our first class being held on Wednesday, May 11.

My blogging course started at Louisiana State University, before moving completely online, and will now be a part of UT’s Informal Courses’ extensive list of offerings. And in case you were wondering, yes, I will be the instructor. Because of course!

I didn’t realize how much I loved teaching until I actually started doing it, and teaching something I love doing has been a really rewarding process for me. Interested in taking the course? Here’s the official info:

Are you curious about blogs and the blogosphere? Do you have a passion you wish to share with the world? Have you started a blog but need direction and/or promotional help? In this class, you will explore the basic concepts, tools, and functions to create a living, successful blog. Learn the ins and outs of three blogging platforms, including WordPress, BlogSpot, and Tumblr. You will also encounter other bloggers and complete assignments to ensure your experience in this class is helpful in the blogging world. Click here for additional information on this course.

Holly A. Phillips is a writer, blogger, and an SEO Analyst living in Austin, Texas. After earning a bachelor’s in creative writing from Louisiana State University, she started her first blog. Almost 10 years later, she’s created several successful blogs with followers around the world. She has also written and published four books from her online content in the blogging world and has served as a Blogging Instructor for four years.

Ta-Da! If you do not live in the Austin area but still want to take my class, I’ve got great news. You can take it 100% online right here (discounted just for you for $15). If you have any questions about either of the course offerings, feel free to contact me and I’ll assist you in any way possible.

In other techie news, I received my certification in Google Analytics last week (if you haven’t taken the exam yet, it’s no joke!), and have also received my Inbound Marketing certification from Hubspot. I’m learning new things every day, folks – never a dull moment!

I celebrated my recent certifications and blog course successes with a road trip to the Zapp’s Beer Festival in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It is one of my favorite festivals, and I never miss it. The event features the beers we all know and love, from Shocktop, Budweiser, and Abita, but is mainly a place that showcases home brewers.

Every year, more than 200 home brewers show off what they’ve been crafting and they really make some delicious stuff. This year, one of my favorites was a Strawberry-Basil beer! I also enjoyed an Oatmeal Cookie beer, Chocolate Stout, Peanut Butter beer, Melon beer, and a Banana Split Stout, among many others.

Afterward, my friends and I enjoyed a delicious batch of boiled crawfish (my first of the season), along with potatoes, corn on the cob, mushrooms, and sausage all cooked in with the crawfish. Perfection!

I hope you guys have a good Monday – if you’re at all like me, you’ve already got your eye on that Friday prize. Hopefully, this week’s blog content will help make the week a little more enjoyable. I’ll see you all here tomorrow!

Britney sing-a-longs & ‘The Birdcage’.

So, let’s talk about it: the Britney Spears Sing-a-long at the Alamo Drafthouse. Yes. I went last Saturday night and it was pretty fantastic.

I’d heard about it from a coworker, but pretty much everyone I know in Austin (read: 3 people) was busy with other raging Saturday night plans. I wasn’t sure if this would be super lame going alone, buuuuut I kind of LOVE Britney, and it was one of the last times the Alamo was going to show it.

Obviously, I decided to go, and brave it – another date night with myself! I bought my ticket online and upon arrival, I already saw lots of fans dressed up, and even the male waiters were wearing Britney garb: the Catholic school uniform and the flight attendant uniform from the “Toxic” video.

If you’ve never been to the Drafthouse, it’s a movie theatre that serves REAL food, desserts, cocktails, and beer, all from the comfort of your seat. Upon entering the theatre, everyone was given a glow necklace and a wand with streamers on it.

I promptly ordered a beer and the hatch chile cheese fries (yum!). When 10 pm (kickoff time) finally rolled around, we were instructed to sing-a-long, dance, and cheer on Britney for the next TWO-AND-A-HALF HOURS! That’s right, it was more than two hours of solid Britney songs!

Whoop!

Whoop!

Let’s see if I can remember them all: “Scream & Shout” feat. Will.i.am, “Pretty Girls” feat. Iggy Azalea, “Perfume”, “Criminal”, “Til the World Ends”, “Hold it Against Me”, “3”, “Radar”, “Work Bitch”, “If U Seek Amy”, “Circus”, “Womanizer”, “Break the Ice”, “Piece of Me”, “Gimme More”, “My Perogotive”, “Everytime”, “Toxic”, “Me Against the Music” feat. Madonna, “Boys”, “I Love Rock N Roll”, “Overprotected”, “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman”, “I’m a Slave 4 U”, “Stronger”, “Lucky”, “Oops…I Did it Again”, “(You Drive Me) Crazy”, “Sometimes”, and “…Baby One More Time”.

For starters, I definitely had forgotten about a few of these songs – I hadn’t even heard of or seen the videos for “Perfume” and “Criminal” – both right on track as far as Britney songs go: catchy, a little corny, but complete with hot guy in video with her looking amazing.

It was also interesting to look at nearly her entire career over 2.5 hours of time. There is such a difference between those “Sometimes” days versus the “Gimme More” days – and those are the ones Britney fans are forgiving her for (I still cringe thinking about that MTV performance).

Between the Vegas residency and her last few songs (hello, “Work, Bitch”), she’s making as big of a comeback as someone can ask for. I think she’ll always be an entertainer in some form, and it’ll be interesting to see where the years take her. I know I have looked up to her as a dancer since “…Baby One More Time”. The choreography in “I’m a Slave 4 U” has always been some of my favorite.

Of course, there’s always that fantastic flashback of the fashion. Personally, I love the gold top she wore in “Work Bitch”, and am a huge fan of all of the denim she’s sported over the years. During the show, pretty much everyone was on their feet, singing and dancing, and it was really fun! I woke up Sunday with barely any voice, so I know I was really belting it out. Truthfully, I’m not sure what my favorite Britney song is, although I love “Stronger” and I also love “Circus”.

Finally saw this one!

Finally saw this one!

As for me, I’ll be visiting the Alamo very soon, as they are hosting a “Justin vs. Justin” sing-a-long, as in Justin Bieber vs. Justin Timberlake, complete with themed cocktails, and they are also hosting a “Bridesmaids” quote-a-long that includes a free champagne flute. YAS!!!

A few weekends ago, I also finally watched “The Birdcage”. You may recall that I’m kind of on a mission to see all of the movies that I should have seen by now, but haven’t (read about me finally seeing “The Breakfast Club”), so this is just another step in my pop culture journey.

The Birdcage” was released in 1996, so this year marks its 20th anniversary! It stars Robin Williams, and as described by IMDB: “A gay cabaret owner and his drag queen companion agree to put up a false straight front so that their son can introduce them to his fiancée’s right-wing moralistic parents.”

So… I had no idea how funny this movie was going to be. I really had no clue what it was about; read the description on my TV, and I took it that it was going to be a sad movie. So, I braced myself, and then right off the bat (when the bar owner won’t front free drinks for guests), I was laughing.

I don’t want to give anything away, in case I’m not the only person that’s just now seeing it, but in the end, it was a little sad. But, I think it was realistic – and I think it was kind of interesting to watch during an election year, given the political father that was at the dinner.

I also watched “Hairspray” – the John Travolta version – but didn’t think it was so great.

I hope you all have a fantastic holiday weekend; I’ve got some fun things planned, and you can watch it alllllll on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 …or I’ll see you back here on Monday!

Pic of the Week.

PrimeTime Burger at Hopdoddy.

PrimeTime Burger at Hopdoddy.

I realize I talk a lot about being a recluse and spending my weekends indoors, and well, part of this is because I find great joy in relaxing at my home, in my sweat pants.

Another thing is that, since I’m working all week, I spend a majority of my weekend writing,  reading, or attempting to just relax. But, I am also realizing that I live in a pretty cool city and I’m not going to discover it or meet people when I’m sitting on my couch.

So, I made it a goal to get out and do some things I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. And so, I did! On Saturday, I got up, had my coffee, hit the showers, and put on something cute, so I could go explore.

I started at Nordstrom Rack, because there was no Nordstrom Rack in Baton Rouge when I lived there (I believe there’s one there now), and it’s been years since I’ve been to one!

Now, you guys know how much of a bargain shopper I am. And yes, Nordstrom Rack has some great deals, but these are “designer deals” meaning, even at 50% or whatever, they are still just too much for my little budget. But, it’s still fun to look.

Gorgeous.

Gorgeous.

I did spy a gorgeous, gorgeous bag (I’m definitely a bag lady, y’all) by Deux Lux, which is a brand I recognized from my seasonal employment at Anthropologie last Christmas. I used my 50% discount on one item and that was a Deux Lux Weekender bag that I couldn’t stop staring at.

It’s plaid and sequined, and was actually in my car when it got broken into, but the thief took my ancient, nearly ripped Coach bag instead. Little did the thief know, the Deux Lux bag was worth more.

So anyway, this “Rivington Weekender” bag at Nordstrom Rack was gorgeous, woven cognac suede, massive in size, and had this navy blue silky liner. I really loved it. But did I need another bag? I walked away. Then looked longingly back at it… then just snatched the sucker up. It was the last one on the rack, and listed for a third of its original price.

It will make a super cute work bag, not to mention a great carry on when I plan my next flight! I also picked up a super slim phone charger (mine was also stolen), that was on clearance for $8 (originally $35).

After skipping out of Nordstrom Rack, I was really excited to hit up a restaurant I’d heard so much about: Hopdoddy. Not only had my coworkers raved of the place, but I also saw it on an episode of Food Porn on FYI:

Hopdoddy is most known for their burgers, but they also sell pretty decadent shakes. I was originally going to go for a shake, but I ended up guzzling some local beer (Thirsty Goat Amber by Thirsty Planet).

Anyway, I headed to Hopdoddy and as predicted, had to wait in a line that was wrapped around the building. But, I was too excited to care.

I’m also facing my fear of eating alone in the midst of all of this, but they sat me at the bar, and the bartenders were nice. I got my beer, and to my delight, it was frosty and delicious, and the Oklahoma/Kansas game was on. Win-Win!

So, I ordered the PrimeTime burger: Texas Akaushi Beef, Brie Cheese, Arugula, Caramelized Onions, Truffle Aioli, Steak Sauce, along with a side of Parmesan Truffle Fries.

Y’all. This shit does not compare! I’ve had In & Out, Shake Shack… no, no. This shit was amazing. If there weren’t so many awesome restaurants here I want to try, I’d go back this weekend! Wow. I’m still dreaming of it.

I sat there, and I stuffed myself, and I recognize that getting straight up nasty with a burger, beer, and fries probably isn’t the right way to meet people, but I’m more interested in getting every morsel of deliciousness to my stomach. And I did.

I left Hopdoddy with a slight buzz. I was full, it was sunny and 74 degrees, and I’d just done what I thought I could never do: enjoy a great meal alone. I felt great, and I promptly went home and took a food-induced nap. It was a lovely little Saturday.

So, I’m certain I’ll be going on even more adventures in this little city of mine. I’m excited to share them with you, of course! Don’t forget to watch “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” tonight! See, I haven’t lost my reclusive tendencies, completely.