Jan 31, 2011

January Recap

When I created my list of a dozen really good books I would read in 2011, I figured I'd knock out one per month. A very realistic goal I thought. Well, we have 2.5 hours left in January and folks, I have not finished my book.

Has anyone else read The Life of Pi? It started slow. I didn't know a whole lot about it before picking it up. It was just one of those books I heard was GOOD and felt like I should read. A 21st century classic. However I suppose maybe I shouldn't be so surprised it started slowly. Charles Dickens wrote many classics but I can't say they all started out at sprint speed. I definitely won't have this book done in the next 2.5 hours but I am hoping to either finish it before my NYC trip next week or on the flight up there. Maybe I can knock out my February book on the return flight. (Debating whether that should be The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  or A Cook's Tour. Votes?)

005 (2)On a more successful note, I definitely averaged more than 200 minutes of cardio per week. I can't tell you exactly how many minutes - that would require flipping my calendar back to January and every time I flip that thing I seem to lose the thumbtack so no way - but I think my weeks were 260, 165, 240 and 200. An overall average of something higher than 200.

Other new year's resolutions: eye liner is definitely finding its way into my make up routine a little more. Today in fact! I think we took a few more pictures this month, including this fun one of Lexi wearing a LIVESTRONG wristband. And finally, we saved a little money though not as much as we hoped but given the funky timing of my paychecks with starting the new job, I think it can be forgiven.

One month into the new year, how are your new year's resolutions going?

Jan 29, 2011

Movie Reviews & Recs

Ross and I aren't big movie people. First, we don't really agree on what makes a "good" movie. Second, well just neither of us are that into movies in the first place. Having dinner out seems like a much better use of money to me. Going on four years together and I can probably still count the number of movies we've seen in the theater together.

But last weekend we rented a movie via OnDemand, The American starring George Clooney. Ross was interested because it was a spy-espionage flick and I was interested because of George Clooney. Oh. My. God. Worst movie. After watching it I really wondered "What made Clooney, after reading the script, think 'I have to make this film!'?" mostly I wondered this because the film contained so little speaking. I bet the script was about as long as a children's book. And it had no plot. We couldn't even finish the flick. After an hour fifteen (of just an hour forty-five movie) we threw in the towel. I am so glad we just rented this instead of going to the theater.

And last night while Ross was working I hit up Blockbuster to finally rent Changeling, the Angelina Jolie movie where her son goes missing. The preview showed a great scene where she's standing in front of a train yelling "Where is my son!?". Talk about captivating. I really enjoyed the whole movie and while I won't give away the end, the final answer to where her son is really surprised me. The previews never led me to believe the movie would go in that direction. Very nicely done. This movie I recommend, highly.

For some non-movie people though, movies have become a bit of a Valentine's Day tradition for us. We like going out to a matinee and then having a nice dinner. (It's funny how "a movie and dinner" has taken on so many forms over the past few years. The first year we did this it was just because we were broke. We saw a matinee because it was cheapest and I cooked dinner at home. This year we're going to a matinee at Alamo Drafthouse, fully intending on ordering at least cocktails and then having a schwanky double-date dinner.) As we approach Valentine's Day, I've realized, we have no idea what movie we should go see. I don't even know what's out! So I'm hoping you can offer suggestions. Some of our favorite movies are Taken (this is probably our favorite...hehe and we saw it on Valentine's, very romantic huh?) and Hot Tub Time Machine (could those two be any more different?). We saw Avatar last year and liked it. Ross' favorite movie is Braveheart and mine is probably The Holiday.

Oh and I refuse to see No Strings Attached because the ads for it on Pandora this week have just about driven me up a wall. I don't care if it gets nominated for every Oscar out there and is deemed the best thing since Star Wars, the advertising has pushed it into my Movie Exile.

OK so you know a little about our movie tastes - Valentine's Day movie date suggestions?

Jan 26, 2011

Chocolate Delight

From SpecialK.com
Last week my grocery store had a sale on Special K cereals. I'm not much of a cereal person but I do enjoy a bowl of Special K (as well as the cereal bars which were free with my box of Special K. score!). So I went crazy and decided to try a new version of Special K, the Chocolate Delight kind.

After two nights of snacking on it and one breakfast bowl, I have made an important discovery that will help all Chocolate Delight eaters hereafter.

The chocolate chunks are heavier than the cornflakes. Thus, they settle in the bottom of the box. Therefore, you should eat the first half of the box as a nutritious breakfast cereal. And the second half of the box as a delicious, late-night, chocolatey snack.

This insight brought to you by my three quarters consumed box of Special K Chocolate Delight.

Jan 25, 2011

Three Cheers for Reading & Writing

I'm half-watching the State of the Union...as in I watched it for-real for about 10 minutes and then had to make a phone call and just now took it back off mute. But there was a part in the 10 minutes that I watched that is inspiring a rant.

Education. It's good. I love it. Kids, grown-ups, all people should be educated in lots of things. President Obama thinks kids need further education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and from my time at Girl Scouts, I can tell you that lots of reputable, committed educational organizations and funders think STEM education is tops. And I think STEM is a fine area in which to be educating kids.

From SalemState.edu
But what about basic literacy? We can educate kids in STEM 'til the cows come home but if we don't teach them to read or write, then none of it matters. If you are a rocket scientist - and that is damn cool - you must be able to write down, coherently, the genius behind your ideas. If you want funding for your scientific breakthrough, you have to be able to explain it to funders. And even more basic, if you want to become a rocket scientist or doctor or software engineer, you have to be able to read, comprehend and think critically about the information.

I realize that as a country, we are overwhelmingly literate. Just literate, however, is not good enough. We've all read emails by co-workers that look like multiple paragraphs but are really one long sentence. It's embarassing yet those co-workers count as literate. I've read writing samples from hopeful college interns, and from prestigious schools at that, and the grammar is horrendous. And they are in college! What about all the students who don't make it past high school or even those who don't make it through high school? If our college students can't handle commas and adjectives, how can we expect those with less education to master them?

For my liberal arts degree, I was required to take 2 math courses and 2 science courses yet was only required to take one class in writing. I had less than zero interest in the math or science courses but I had to take them in the name of well-rounded liberal arts education. So why was only one writing class required? In the name of a solid well-rounded liberal arts education, we should certainly expect more writing abilities from our graduates, even those with no interest in it. This is especially true if we are then going to grade them on how they write essays for history, science, economics, etc. Aren't students being put at a disadvantage in nearly all of their courses if they aren't given thorough, structured instruction in writing? And of course that disadvantage extends beyond the classroom to cover letters, business proposals and more.

I say, yes, fund STEM education. But also fund - and emphasize - reading and writing. Remember that though maybe not as sexy, those are the basic skills that students need to excel in ANY field. Without basic communication skills, expertise in other areas is handicapped.

On the same note, and this is much less objective, there's a lot of research out there about women pursuing more degrees and professions in the arts as opposed to the sciences. What's wrong with that? Newsflash, it's never going to be exactly 50/50 along gender lines in any field. It's always going to be at least a little unbalanced. Why is it so bad if a few fields are unbalanced toward women? Communications, marketing, teaching, nursing, social work - these fields are not lesser because they are dominated by women but when girls and women are constantly pushed into other areas instead of these, it kind of suggests that maybe these fields aren't good enough. That really bugs me. (And here comes my inner feminist) Our grandmas, mothers and aunts fought for us to have a choice...so let me have a fair choice in my career (you know, the one I choose to have in the first place) and treat art and language with the respect it deserves from centuries of existence.

Jan 24, 2011

Visitors and Vacations

Wes, far right
It's before 7 a.m. on a Monday and yup, I'm up blogging. A really terrific night's sleep will have you up early, especially when you've been thinking about so many exciting things.

I found out this weekend that my cousin Wes (a favorite cousin, we're only 6 weeks apart in age) had an offer accepted on a house outside of Boston. Yay! Congrats text messages turned into "you should come to town for Ross' 30th birthday" and now I'm expecting a call from him this morning to sort out the logistics. I'm 95% sure that he and his girlfriend will be spending a long weekend with us on Lake Travis in April. Hurray!

My trip to see Val in 09

Now, this part was a surprise when checking email before 7 a.m. but I got a note from my favorite law school student, Val, about our summer plans. Her summer schedule is settled (sorry Deltas, will not divulge, you have to call her) and now we know when it would be best for me to come visit. The plan is to fly up to Seattle Thursday, June 23 and stay for a long weekend. It's the 2011 Cheryl-only trip where I go pretend to be in college again.

Add into that my upcoming NYC business trip next month, DC & Chicago probably in March and our vacation to South Carolina for Ben & Anna's wedding in April and it is shaping up to be a fantastic 2011.

Jan 22, 2011

January Holiday Fiesta

My new company, Convio, has their holiday party in January instead of December. I think this is genius because 1) everyone is super busy in December, 2) it's way cheaper and 3) it means I got to go this year.

Before I go any further, I would like to say, Girl Scouts was a fabulous place to work. It was very warm and fuzzy, very mission-centric, very friendly. I learned great skills and was given the opportunity to try entirely new things. Really very good. However that said, I'll divulge - the holiday parties are...interesting. I'll go no further than that but suffice it to say, not my cup of tea. (But I guess it is something that we at least had them. I'm sure some organizations cut them entirely with the recession.)

The Convio holiday party, however, is exactly my cup of tea. It was fantastic! Basically it was any other Saturday night at the bar but you just happened to work with 50% of the clientele and the other 50% were married to/dating your co-workers. Fabulous.

Example of how good looking hubby is
The only thing I would have changed was my hubby's attendance. He's off firefighting tonight - saving lives and the like. You know, just a regular day at the office. And while I'm very pleased that he is doing such noble work, I have to say, I would have enjoyed showing him off tonight. He is, after all, very good looking. But maybe next year. I think his attendance would in fact make it the perfect holiday party. For this I give Convio another tally mark in the "win" column of life.

Oh and PS I increasingly enjoy my coworkers. They have such interesting backgrounds, hobbies and experiences. Every time I talk to one I am so intrigued. Yay them :)

Jan 21, 2011

Lucky Problems

A few weeks ago Ross and I were in bed flipping through channels before going to sleep. We stopped on Comedy Central for a stand-up comedy routine. Now I'm going to paraphrase because the language wasn't totally PC but you'll get the drift.

The comedian was talking about [rich] people problems. Like flight delays. "You're flight was delayed!? THAT'S your problem?! You had to wait to actually go into the air and fly across the country, soar through the sky like a bird, defying gravity. A trip that just 150 years ago would have taken 30 years and if the Oregon Trail computer game taught us nothing else, would have killed off half your traveling party. And you complain because you had to wait. An hour."

Admittedly as I'm laughing about how ridiculous this really does seem, I'm also thinking "but God I hate flight delays. They suck."

He made the point that this was why Americans don't get a lot of sympathy abroad. He made it very comical of course but in short, some people have real problems - like disease, war and hunger. We, the affluent Americans, have flight delays.

I realize there are people in America who suffer from hunger, abuse and a million other terrible things, but as a whole, we don't have it too bad off. Flight delays make the evening news...and most of us have a TV to watch it on.

Knock on wood, things have been going really well for Team Black lately. We realize this and we talk about how lucky we are. A home, good jobs, health, vacations, a loving marriage and the best puppy in the world. And even though we know we're lucky, that comedian, between peels of laughter, made me remember what a lucky problem flight delays are.

Jan 19, 2011

Blog Lag

This topic is two-fold.
Anna, blogger-extraordinaire, borrowing a baby

  1. Sister Deltas - you post so much less often lately. I have 130+ items in my Google Reader and only one of them today was a Delta blog (thank you Anna). I love all the nonprofit, marketing and fundraising stuff but I need Delta blogs. Please blog more.
  2. Now if that isn't the pot calling the kettle black, I've been blogging so much less. The excitement of my life hasn't changed; still just same old Team Black. I think the change is how much more I write for work now. A week and a half in and I've written two blog posts already and countless Twitter and Facebook updates. It may be sad for you, blog reader, that I'm not blogging as much but for me, it's very exciting that my career is meeting my professional interests and wants. Hurray!
Now for some misc updates.
  • Lexi increasingly thinks she's a human. Two nights ago I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to discover that not only was she sleeping in our bed (normal) but was under the sheets - my 1500 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets - and had her head on the middle pillow. Really? You are a dog, I swear it.
  • Ross is working on certification to be a high school baseball umpire. (Wow, I can't believe I haven't mentioned this before.) As you may or may not know, every firefighter has a second gig. His had been firefighting part-time at Sam Bass FD. But now, it will be umpiring. He's excited that it will provide some more variety to his days off and he just really loves baseball. I'm excited because he'll be home overnight more often and I get to be the cute wife who sits in the stands and cheers on the ump. Fun!
  • I've been doing OK on my new year's resolution to do 200 minutes of cardio each week. The week of Jan. 2 I hit a grandslam, 260 minutes. Last week, I sucked. Only 165 minutes. But I think I get a pass on that since a) I did so much the week before, b) I did start a new job that week and c) the weather was wet and cold so Lexi walks had to be eliminated. So far this week I've done 180 minutes and it's only Wednesday! Key to success: pretty weather and thus many Lexi walks.
  • As I alluded to in a previous post, I have some sexy business trips. Fingers crossed, I should be going to the appropriate cities and have just enough free time (as in, a meal) to see Kristin, Emo (OK that one is already booked), Ben, Anna and Meg D. Woohoo! Now if just someone could plan conferences in Boston, Atlanta and Seattle. Maybe one of y'all could spearhead that effort for me?
  • I really enjoy writing in parenthesis and bullet points. Wow, I'd almost forgotten how much both of those rocked my socks.
Peace out homes

Jan 16, 2011

The Science of Tex-Mex, Part 1

The History

It's amazing how a blog post about nothing, just because you are dying to write, can lead to a whole new blog post about one of the most important conversations in Texas: Tex-Mex.

Or as Texas Monthly calls it, Mex-Tex.

First, Tex-Mex v Mex-Tex. According to Texas Monthly, which as best I can tell coined "Mex-Tex" the difference is in emphasis. Many moons ago, the food was more Americanized...or Tex-ized if you will. Recently though, the Mexican influence has come on strong and it's more authentic. I suppose with all the buzz I hear about "Interior Mexican food" I can see this. But for the purposes of this blog, and really, somewhat out of principal, we're going to stick to Tex-Mex as our venacular.

Rules of Tex-Mex, as proven by much research
  1. If you are north of say Dallas, or maybe we can be as liberal as to say Wichita Falls, it isn't Tex-Mex. On the same note, if you are in Australia, it is also not Tex-Mex. It is a well-intentioned impersonation. No grudges against those places or anything, just don't think that because you went to someplace called "Maria's" in Cambridge that you know what Tex-Mex is. (Conversely, going to Red Lobster in Austin does not mean I know two things about Maine lobster or New England clam chowder.)
  2. Chips and salsa should always be free with your meal. If someone tries to cheat you out of this, leave immediately. Complain to the BBB. It is simply unacceptable to call an establishment Tex-Mex (or Mex-Tex for that matter) and not provide free chips and salsa. In fact, two forms of salsa, rojo and verde, are preferred.
  3. "Queso" is not, I repeat NOT, melted Velveeta. At the very minimum it should be blended with pico de gallo and at it's best will include either beef (carne) or chicken (pollo, pronounced po-yo not polo). It's principal purpose is for chips but it is acceptable to add it to any element of your meal.
  4. In any good Tex-Mex place, the English is spotty but that should be fine because as a seasoned Tex-Mex eater you know all the Spanish you need, even if you're foreign language in high school was Mandarin.
  5. The best Tex-Mex places are mildly sketchy looking, hideously decorated, cheap cheap CHEAP and individually-owned holes in the wall. Example: there was this taco/burrito place next to the laundromat back home in Seabrook, and while I never would have gone in there alone as a petite white high school girl, give me a linebacker from the football team as my escort and I could have eaten those tacos all day and still gotten change back from my $5.
I firmly believe in Rule Number Five. Too many experiences have proven this accurate as heck for me to not believe it. However, the whole premise for this post is a questioning of Rule Number Five and our upcoming experiment.

The Question

From AustinEater.com
 In the December 2010 edition of Texas Monthly, which is possibly the best magazine on the planet, the feature story is the 50 Best Tex-Mex (er, Mex-Tex) Restaurants in Texas. I've read other Texas Monthly "best of" features and have yet to be steered in the wrong direction. I may be a lady of little faith but I have faith in Texas Monthly.

The feature included Fonda San Miguel, an Austin locale, as one of the best, in fact as one of the five best in the state. I've heard from several Tex-Mex conissuers (ie native Texans) that this place is caliente and they feel great amor toward the eatery.

But it's also expensive, kinda trendy and in fact, gourmet.

This directly conflicts with Rule Number Five! (Though it is still locally-owned.) So can it be true? Can a pricey gourmet Mexican restaurant really stand up to the many hole in the wall locales I've spent the past quarter of a century lusting after?

The Procedure

Admittedly we're skeptical but very curious. That's why when I got this wonderful new gig, I decided Fonda San Miguel was going to be my celebration location. When I get my first paycheck at the end of this month, we're going to drop a chunk of it on what better be the best Tex-Mex to ever cross the threshold of my mouth.

Though I have not fully determined the variables to be considered during the procedure, here's what I'm considering thus far
  • Salsa
  • Margarita
  • Queso
  • Tortillas
  • Caliente-ness
It's my own little science experiment and I have to say, I'm much more excited about it than I ever was about any of the science experiments I displayed on red tri-fold cardbord in elementary school.

Jan 13, 2011

Girls Night In

Sometime in the next hour, a few of my girlfriends will show up for an evening of dinner, wine, Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice. Really - what's not to love about that?

I'm just about to start fixing dinner: chicken and artichoke in white wine sauce over pasta with salad and garlic bread. I'm stealing the recipe from Alison at eattolivelivetoeat.blogspot.com.  It looks like it will be delicious.

Chicken and Artichokes with White Wine Sauce

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book

1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp dried sage or Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 fresh sliced button mushrooms
1 6 oz jar artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1 tbsp butter
1/3 cup dry white wine (I used a white cooking wine)
1/3 chicken broth
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

In a shallow dish, stir together flour, sage or Italian seasoning, the 1/4 tsp salt, and pepper; reserve 1 tbsp of the flour mixture and set aside. Dredge the chicken breasts with the flour mixture, and cook chicken in hot oil over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside, turning once. Remove chicken from skillet, cover with foil. In the same skillet, cook mushrooms and artichoke hearts in hot butter over medium heat for 3 minutes or until artichoke hearts are tender.

In a small bowl stir together the reserved 1 tbsp flour mixture, wine, broth, and 1/8 tsp salt until smooth. Add wine mixture to skillet, cook and stir until thickened and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes. Pour sauce over chicken, sprinkle with cheese, and serve.

Jan 11, 2011

New Gig in Review

As you probably know, I started a new gig. Since this isn't a work blog (it's a Team Black blog), I won't go into tons of detail. But I'll give you some highlights
  • I like my team. Heck, the whole place has been pretty friendly.
  • The benefits are good.
  • The office is a mini-downtown Austin, complete with street signs. I sit at the corner of 4th and Brazos.
  • My commute is short and the parking is free.
  • I can wear jeans. Every day. Glory glory hallelujah!
  • Many a co-worker has complimented my new blue Coach bag. Obviously they have good taste.
  • The restaurants nearby are delicious and the shopping is excellent.
  • I'm going to be able to travel to places more exciting than Brownwood (sorry to be a hater, Brownwood, but you must admit, our country has sexier cities).
I think that about covers all the important things. My three weeks off was nice but it's good to be back to work. I'm too much of a busy-body to be home that often. I was going crazy and according to Ross, taking him with me.

Jan 9, 2011

Geek Alert: Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding

In an attempt to knock out one of my weekend goals - to get caught up on social media/NPO blog reading - I was going through my Google Reader when I got to a post by Beth Kanter re: Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding. Sounds interesting but when all your blogs subscriptions are marketing and nonprofit in nature...well ya know, it's also a pretty normal topic.

I started reading the post and discovered it was actually about a book called Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding by the love of my professional life, CAROL CONE.

I wish I could tell you that I've actually met Carol. I have not. I first learned about her at BU as she is an alumna of the COM graduate program. Score one point for coolness.

Carol's claim to fame is cause branding. As in she started it. The Avon breast cancer campaign - totally all her. Score a million points for coolness.

She also started a communications firm, Cone Inc, in Boston. (Score several for coolness.) I desperately wanted to work here in college. Unfortunately the internships are unpaid (lose one point) and I wasn't ever able to swing an unpaid gig.

Several professors referenced her in lectures, gave us case studies on her work, etc. And on the flight back from...our honeymoon perhaps, I read an amazing article about her success in transforming October to the fantastic pink-fest we know it as today.

Suffice it to say, Carol has her act together and is a rockstar in the marketing-nonprofit-corporate branding world. And frankly, I would love to be her when I grow up. But for now, all I can do is run, run, run to the bookstore (or amazon.com) and purchase her new book, Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding and read the heck out of it. And then review it for y'all...though I'm pretty sure it will be amazing, possibly life changing. I. CANNOT. WAIT.

Btw can you believe after all that gushing about her wonderfulness, I actually wasn't paid to write this blog post? Nope, just your average, ordinary geeked-out marketing lover.

Jan 7, 2011

Before Monday

On Monday I re-enter the world of the fully employed. It's been a great three weeks off...so great I still have a lot of things to do. So here I am, putting out there the things I have to get done before Monday at 9 a.m. I hope this inspires a little accountability in  me.
  • Laundry. All of it.
  • Finish The Nasty Bits
  • Catch up on social media/NPO blog reading
  • Grocery shop
  • Pick up pants from tailor
  • Pedicure (I know this is too fun for a list but I must must must go)
  • Lots of gym time
  • Pick out clothes for Monday (much harder than it should be. Casual workplace but it just feels wrong to wear jeans the first day...but coworkers will proably be in jeans so don't want to stand out. And it's a high of 39 here that day and I don't really own winter clothes because I don't like them. Sigh.)
OK Not an exciting blog post but I needed some accountability. Now to start on all of it I'm going to...do something not on the list at all and have lunch with Meredith :)

A.M. Adventure

In all the excitement of the new truck, Ross' firefighting gear didn't make the transition between garage and truck. So at 6:25 a.m. today, I loaded my sleepy self and his gear into my car to trek up to Georgetown (ie 15 miles each way).

Normally, I would not be jazzed about this drive and admittedly, when I started it, I wasn't. But in my PJs, I decided to power this adventure with Starbucks. I pull into the drive through and via the intercom thingy, Josh asks for my order. I'm giving him my order, "tall caramel frappaccino, 2% milk and no whip--" when I hear "what!? Drive thru? You always come inside!" the voice of my favorite barista, Chantal. That girl is so good, she recognized my voice/order and jumped in on it.

When I explained that I was wearing yoga pants and bedazzled flip flops and was in no condition to be seen by the public, she laughed, empathized and gave me possibly the best frappaccino ever. Have I mentioned that I love Chantal?? She's fabulous! (Dear Starbucks people, give her a raise or at least a bonus. She's earned it.)

Also on my early morning drive there was a lovely bright orange and pink sunrise. Coupled with my delicious liquid breakfast, it was a pretty excellent early morning drive...and it means I'm up and home early enough to watch most of Good Morning America. Not so shabby.

Jan 6, 2011

New Truck!

004We got Ross a new truck! Woohoo!

It's a 2010 Toyota Tacoma PreRunner, access cab with two seats in the back.

We'd been talking for a while about how he would definitely need a new vehicle pre-babies. The Jeep, while very fun, only had two doors and a soft top, neither of which would be practical with kiddos.

At first we figured we'd make this purchase in 2012, a little closer to when we want kids. But then one day it dawned on us that our hopes in 2012 were to go to Europe, possibly start a family, buy a new car and buy a big, new forever-home.

What the hell. We couldn't do that. First, wow, big stressful year. Second, we probably couldn't get financing for a car and house in the same year, let alone make monthly payments on both. And if we actually were to have a baby on the way, we would be in severe need of both. That's when we decided to make 2011 the year of the vehicle.

001Ross got excited and started searching online. We definitely thought we would wait more than six days into the new year but he found a dealership that had exactly what he wanted, as determined by weeks of research. We put the Jeep on Craigslist and then this morning headed to the dealership to make sure that this truck he thought he wanted was really all we dreamed.

He drove it and we loved it. The price was right and the on-the-fly trade-in estimate we got was spot on. Add into that a rockin' interest rate and I would say we more stole this truck than bought it. Shortly after lunch we drove off the lot with a new truck. Hurray!

I, for one, am super glad that we were able to land a 2010. The plan had always been for this vehicle we bought, whether we bought it this year or next, to last us at least eight years. I think our chances of that are significantly better since it's a newer truck than we thought we'd get. Also, it's a smaller truck so the gas mileage is pretty good, about 10 miles per gallon better than the Jeep. And though it's small, it has the LATCH system in the back (ie what you secure a baby's carseat with) so it is definitely a family vehicle and should meet our needs for the next eight years.

Verdict: Win.

Jan 5, 2011

Big Girls' Sorority

With Margo, left, (who btw just got engaged!) this summer
Christen, Anna, Margo and I once had a Facebook convo about how there are sororities at all stages in life. Girl Scouts in K-12, legit sororities (ie TriDelta) in college and Junior League in grown-up-hood. Really when you think about it, they all provide the same thing to different ages of gals: organized opportunities for do-good-ing, friendship and fun.

You know I'm well versed in Girl Scouting and I'm a proud TriDelta and today I completed my membership form for the Junior League of Austin.

TriDelta was the best thing to happen to my college years. Seriously. FANTASTIC. And while I have great gal friends in Austin, I've found myself craving that large group of girls dynamic provided in a sorority.

The Girl Scout office did a pretty good job; we only had 3 guys working in the Austin office so it was in essence a chic-fest. But still, that included work things and thus some social boundaries. Now looking forward to my new, undoubtedly more co-ed gig (very excitedly looking forward I might add), I feel even more of a craving for a girls-only club. Hence, membership in Junior League.

I'm looking forward to the admissions meeting at the end of the month, meeting my sponsors and starting a new chapter of chic-centric social and philanthropic endeavours.

Jan 4, 2011

Imagine if you won the lottery

With tonight's big lottery drawing, the news has done several stories. And the "what if we won" is a conversation Ross and I have had several times...you know, because since the odds are so in our favor we want to be sure we're prepared.

Here's what we've come up with:
  • Pay off all debt; ours, parents', and siblings'. We think this should only take a fraction of a fraction of our winnings...unless someone is seriously hiding something.
    From worldwideaspen.com
  • Relocate to a lakefront mansion. But still stay in the Austin-ish area.
  • Hire a housekeeper. Or two. Let's be honest, if we started making about $10k more or lived in a house with even just one more bedroom, this would be really high on my list. Like higher than cable TV. We're really crummy at doing chores and are chomping at the bit to be able to justify having a housekeeper.
  • Become Oprah's Bahamas neighbor. Oh yeah, we're totally buying the vaca home next door to Oprah in the Bahamas. Our honeymoon solidified the heck outta this.
  • Give money to the parents. If they have multi-millionaires as kids, there's no reason for them to work right? Now siblings we haven't decided about... ;)
  • Buy a ranch. Guess who is behind this one? Yeah, totally Ross. To go with his ranch I will be buying an airplane and hiring a personal pilot to help me commute from said ranch back to civilization. I mean really, ranch, airplane and pilot are a package deal.
  • Travel everywhere. Duh. But I can't even begin to imagine where we'd start. Egypt? China? South Africa? I mean heck, I still need to see the Grand Canyon! I'm not sure where we'd start but I'm pretty sure we'd see it all.
The one thing we've never actually decided on is if we would quit working. I mean probably. I don't need to send my hubby into burning buildings if we are millionaires. But I think we would both get bored which is why it's never the first thing we shout out. I can see us quitting our current gigs and going into one of those fields you have to be rich to even get into - like owning a football team. (Note: in a totally separate conversation we've discussed how the San Antonio-Austin metro area really needs an NFL team. As in we've come up with names [Los Caballos possibly] and decided the stadium would be in Buda. Perhaps if/when we win the lottery, we'll be the owners of said team.)

Or maybe we'd just live on our millions and be professional volunteers. Also likely. At least, far more likely than actually winning the lottery in the first place.

Jan 3, 2011

Page Ideas

My inner marketing/web/social media nerd LOVES the new "pages" feature from Blogger. If you aren't familiar with it, it allows for static web pages on the blog. The examples Blogger gives are "about me" and "contact."

Note: that is a borrowed baby

I first discovered these when Jane added them to her blog -http://acceptanceenergyhappiness.blogspot.com/. See? Don't you love it?

(And right now I'm more than a little jealous of her 2011 A-Z Reading Challenge because that is an excellent page to have on her blog.)

I want to add pages to this blog...again, mostly because I'm a nerd and it sounds way cool. But I'm not sure what the content should be and as a good marketing person, I want to be sure I have worthwhile content if I am going to include it. So I turn to you, loyal blog readers, what content do you think I could/should include on some permanent blog pages?

Lexi's Resolution

002As you know, Lexi is a puppy. However, Lexi does not know this. She thinks she's a people.

She eats cereal off of a spoon. She takes showers. She watches TV. She sleeps in a king size bed. Sometimes she even sleeps with her head on the middle pillow and body stretched out between Ross and I. And sometimes, when I'm not here to stop it, I hear she actually sleeps under the covers.

Knowing that my pup thinks she is human, I explained the new year's resolution I chose for her based on this. (Yes, I explained a new year's resolution to my dog. Don't judge.) If Lexi really wants to be a people, she has to act like people and people do not jump at the TV. Thus Lexi's new year's resolution is to not jump at the TV.

She didn't get a vote in this. As the puppy-mommy I invoked my powers and authority and imposed this resolution upon her. It will be achieved through the evil water bottle that magically squirts at her when she does jump at the TV.

Come on Lexi - you can do it!

Jan 1, 2011

New Year, New Resolutions

Happy 2011! I hope you are looking forward to a rockin' awesome year.

A few resolutions to make my year rock:
  • Read a dozen really good books. I totally already gave this one away with my 2011 reading list.
  • Work out at least 200 minutes per week. I've been all over this for the past two months and am loving the results. I can basically eat whatever I want (knock on wood) and with this much cardio can mantain my weight. I wonder what will happen when the holidays are over and I quit eating like crap. Maybe I'll shed a pound or two!
    The little family saying "adios" to 2010
  • Eye liner. I don't wear it often, mostly because I am lazy about make up, but when I do wear it I really like what it does for my eyes. So I am resolving to wear it at least a little more often.
  • Take more pictures. This is a Team Black resolution, spearheaded by the hubby and actually, made possible by the hubby and the fancy new camera he got me.
  • Save $$. Also a Team Black resolution. We've looked at our finances for 2011 have set an ambitious but achieveable savings goal. We have a dollar amount that we want to save each month. (Since we use our savings for vacation I think this will be an easier way to track our savings than just the total at the end of the year because as you'll see from the next and final resolution, I plan to spend a hefty chunk of it.)
    From TravelInStyle.com
  • Book our trip to Europe! I'm looking forward to this one most. We're probably going to Greece (see picture, what I hope to spend 10 days looking at) and looking to go in spring 2012. In September/October Ross will put in his vacation request for that fiscal year and then we'll know when we're going and I can book it. Woohoo! Come on Europe!