Jul 30, 2011

I hate baths.

Dear Mom & Dad,

If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times: I hate baths. Still, every week you make me take one. Why? I've told you I hate them. Aren't you listening?

Last night was the end of my rope. You gave me another bath. What. the. hell.

001Well take this. I went outside and rolled in all the drought-killed grass I could find. It got good and stuck to me. I'm a mess. A stinky, grass-covered puppy dog mess.

And I know you won't give me another bath because you wouldn't be able to stand if the last day before your vacation, I gave you the I-hate-baths cold shoulder.

Ha. That'll teach you.


Jul 29, 2011

Formula to a Great Vaca

Just now, searching ABCNews.com for a story I was going to blog about (debt ceiling) I found a way more fun article on vacations. And given that today was my last day at work before our Canadian vaca, very timely.

Apparently there is a formula for a great vacation. The ingredients are
  1. Revel in the planning
  2. Be practical
  3. Build boundaries
  4. Pad your trip
  5. Align your expectations
  6. Allow opportunities for the unexpected
I rock at number one. I've been planning for Canada for months. Tomorrow my number 1 goal is getting all of our maps together, making sure we have all our details printed out, etc. It is a planning (and packing) day!

I think we do well at number two. We're going to Canada in part because we have a place to stay (big thanks Mike & Brenda) which is very practical. There's also the practical weather side of traveling very far north in August.

Number three, again I rock. At least this time. Being in Canada means no cell phone (high fees) and no internet (the lakehouse doesn't have it). I'll be setting up my out of office notice tomorrow and I've already alerted everyone that I am officially out. Off. The. Grid.

Number four - check! Ross works tomorrow but then we're both off Sunday to do last-minute things like the puppy juggle. We get back Friday but both have next Saturday and Sunday off before going back to the real world on Monday.

On the itinerary for Friday!
As for expectations...well, I have an itinerary. I have to go on a tangent here. Normally, I require 24 hour entertainment. Very high needs as Ross will tell you. He however can entertain himself for hours or days just kinda puttsing around. But when it comes to vacation time, I am more than content to sit down with a book and glass(es) of wine for hours with no agenda. Ross however requires constant entertainment. We seriously do a complete 180 when we're in vacation-land! I've learned from past vacas so this time around, there's an itinerary.

Number six...OK probably our weakest. But even though we have an itinerary, it's fairly vague and I think (hope) leaves lots of room for last minute "ooo this sounds fun" types of things. So we'll check off allowing for the unexpected too.

If you ask me, we have everything in the Great Vacation Formula. Bring it on!

Jul 28, 2011

Who Did What?

We took a painting class tonight. (Thanks Mom & Dad!) Who do you think did which painting?


Jul 27, 2011

How Much Should We Save?

I called Mom today with this question. And you know what? She didn't have a magic answer. (Though after some conversation she did say she thought 20% of net income would be pretty damn good.)

Shy of not getting a magic answer from Mom, I hit the Internet. I really just wanted to know are we saving at a rate that's good, normal or crap? My gut said not crap since crap savings probably would mean we didn't care enough to be asking if our savings was crap or not. I was guessing normal to good.

I found lots of articles out there on the interwebs. Here's some of the advice they gave.
So we're looking at a 10-30% range for savings. Some of those include retirement (the 40% specifically does) and some don't.

I have to admit, playing with 30% of our income certainly sounds the most fun. A heck of a lot more fun than only playing with 10%. And where do vacations fall in there? We save every month...but then every few months we blow invest some of it in travel.

Also, what about things where you go above and beyond? That first link talks about "committed" expenses. His example is he committed to his kid's music lessons. You could cut or eliminate them but really you've committed. Our big "committed" expense is my school loans. I have Y due but we try our darnedest to pay Yx2 so one day they'll actually be paid off. (Lofty goal I know.)

Math isn't my strong suit and with all those variables (retirement, long-term savings, short-term savings, interest rates, net income, gross income - AH) this feels more like algebra by the minute. But I think I'm determining that at least 10% of our income should go to long-term and/or retirement savings. I can work with that number.

What's your take on smart savings goals?

Jul 26, 2011

Blue Jeans and Pension Plans

This made me so sad/outraged that it gets a lunch break blog post.

According to a recent Chicago Tribune article on 21 workplace benefits that are going the way of the do-do bird, not only are our pension plans in danger, so are our blue jeans!

While I may not like companies cutting any benefits, I can't say I'm surprised that pension plans, retiree health insurance or home-purchase assistance are being cut. (Really? Some companies help you buy a home? Don't most think your paycheck is help enough?) I may not like it, but I get it. These things are expensive and times are tight. It's crappy but...eh.

But casual dress day!?

Rockin jeans & boots at work today
Me wearing my blue jeans (and awesome boots) to work is not costing you any money. If raises, bonuses, etc are going to go out the window, the least you could do is help me make my wardrobe go farther. Besides being an employee expense consideration, talk about culture killer. You take away my insurance, take away the office season tickets and then slap me in the face with no more casual Friday. Who does that?? Talk about kickin' someone when they are down.

I think my office is probably in the clear on this one since we have casual everyday and not just Friday. We're a fun place and it's part of our culture. Thank the blue jean gods for that!

If your office is taking away your blue jeans, rebel! Rebel I say! Long live blue jeans!

Jul 25, 2011

Boot Scootin' Boogie

A few months ago at a friend's baby's party, the baby mama was wearing a hot pair of cowgirl boots.

I got jealous.

And I told Ross I wanted some cowgirl boots one day. He agreed, some day I should have a real pair of boots.

So this past weekend while we shopping for Ava's cowgirl hat, I tried on boots. I fell in love with a pair of brown, monochromatic, pointy-toed short boots. LOVELY.

Today I came home from work and on our bed was a big gift bag. Inside was a card which to paraphrase said any hubby can buy anniversary, birthday and Christmas gifts but only a husband who really loves his wife buys just because gifts.

001And inside the big bag was my very first pair of cowgirl boots!! They are so beautiful! The exact pair I tried on this weekend. I love them!

If you don't know much about cowgirl boots, real boots are a real gift. I've never had real non-Payless brand pair of boots before. This is a legitimate milestone in the life of a Texas lady.

I am wearing them to work more than socially acceptable this week. Who cares if my coworkers don't think I own other shoes. I'm wearing my boots!

Ross promises to take me out dancing in them as soon as we get back from Canada. We're gonna do the boot scootin' boogie all night long. I can't wait!

Heel, toe, dosey doe come on baby let's go boot scootin'!

Jul 24, 2011

Cowgirl Birthday

006Today the fam and I celebrated niece Ava's 8th birthday (Ross was fighting fires, saving lives, etc and thus had to miss the par-tay) and as you can probably guess it was cowgirl themed. She got cowgirl clothes (including a bedazzled belt), horse books like Black Beauty and for the big gift: horseback riding lessons. Yeehaw!

And our baby niece, Adele, was crawling and tottering all over the place. Not quite walking yet but we think she's close. We think before the summer is over she'll be walking everywhere.

During dessert I had deja vu...well nearly. I remember this one time when I was probably about Ava's age, I think Melissa was staying the night and for dessert we had chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce and chocolate milk. Tonight was the grown up version. Chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream and chocolate wine.

Mama's little chocoholic, all grown up.


In my ongoing attempt to "get" G+ I jumped on there for a second this morning. I figured I'd add some more people to my Circles and see how it's all going.

Look what I saw.

That picture is so not Haila. In fact you might recognize that person as ME. And even if you do not know the lovely Haila, you do know that I don't have a twin so there is no way that she could look that much like me.

When I clicked on it to open her profile, I did get the right photo and info so it seems to be a somewhat superficial bug, not one that runs deep into the system. I suppose that's good.

Here's to hoping they refine soon.

Jul 23, 2011

El Arbol

A couple months ago there was a LivingSocial deal to El Arbol. At first I didn't think anything of it but then one of my coworkers said it was the best steak in Austin. That, my friends, is a bold and lofty claim. There's a lot of damn good steaks in Austin.

I couldn't resist.

outside patio (stolen photo)
Last night we went, and holy cow, it was outstanding. First the location is great. It's off of 35th Street so more central than we usually venture but not downtown so getting around is easy. There's an enormous tree on the patio (I'm guessing for which they named the place) and all these lovely japanese lanterns hanging from it. But this is Texas and as you know from my multiple weather posts, it's hot so we sat inside. Indoors had a kinda funky eclectic decor.

We started with pulled pork on bruschetta with a side of arugula for our appetizer. Very tasty. The sauce had almost a mustard flavor.

Since it was the best steak in town, Ross ordered the flat iron steak. I went with the escolar which I had never had before. (Like a tuna but a white fish.) Wow. I mean just wow.

The steak melted in your mouth. It was perfectly cooked with a little dark pink in the middle, just the way I love it. There was a side of chimichuri sauce which Ross loved, I personally preferred it as plain, unvarnished meat.

Now the fish, goodness it was good. It was on a bed of corn and gnocchi with a little tangy cream sauce. Every bite was better than the last. I nearly licked my plate it was so good.

We ate like kings.

We called both of our moms after the fact to tell them how good it was so we can go with them again one day. The only caveat I'll give is that with our LivingSocial deal the price was fine but I think under normal circumstances, it would be a special occasion place. The meal described above (plus 1 glass of wine) was about $65 pre-coupon. At least for us, that's not an every week price point.

Next time you are in Austin, let's go to El Arbol. You can be our special occasion.

Jul 19, 2011

iGoogle - Are You Lying to Me?

I know I've blogged a lot about weather lately but OMG do you live in Texas? And if so, can you count the rain drops you've seen this year on your fingers? Because I can.

Over Easter weekend, Governor Rick Perry asked Texans to pray for rain. That was his official proclamation on the wildfires and extreme drought. Prayer. WTH. Ole Rick should have said things like "statewide watering restrictions" or "be careful, any spark could start a fire." You know, real, secular actionable things. Whatever y'all. It's Rick Perry. Just hope he doesn't get elected president or we'll be praying for the economy to rebound.

But I digress. Among the rain drops I can count on my fingers were some sprinkles Friday night. I'm taking 100% credit for those as I came home from work early, washed my car and then drove downtown where I had to park in a dirt parking lot (in the park). The few sprinkles of rain we got, which were glorious, ensured that my car looked worse than before I washed it. I don't know a lot about meteorology but I am damn confident that washing one's car is a scientifically reliable predictor of rain. Brittney, could you check with Chad on this and confirm please?

Sigh, I took you on another digression.

Like I was saying, much as I would like to believe my iGoogle homepage, the Wednesday and Thursday weather looks just too good to be true. Without car washing or rain praying or even rain dancing, how could this good fortune be true? I just don't know what reliable source we have to think that water will actually fall from the sky in the next two days.

But I am wicked ready to be proven wrong. Rain baby rain!

Jul 18, 2011

All Roads Lead to Austin

Last week I heard that Austin is the number one best city for the next decade. This lofty claim was based on our entrepreneurial spirit (Keep Austin Weird y'all), low unemployment and funky artsy culture.

Earlier this month Austin topped Forbes' Boom Towns for reasons like high numbers of college-educated migrants (holla!), family formation, job growth, population growth and other. Since a lot of Austin's college-educated migrants are under 30, it was a a double whammy in the migrants and families categories.

But apparently it isn't just young, educated entrepreneurs moving to town. According to ABC News, Baby Boomers are retiring here too. It's the number one hot spot for retirees to move to!

No wonder Austin is a town where nobody is native. (Which begs the question, who is more native, me or Ross? Yes he's lived here longer than I've been alive but his birth certificate says Illinois. I may be new to Austin but at least I'm a native Texan.)

I'm hoping with all these new people we'll get
  • More (big name) concerts and plays
  • More airport terminals
  • More direct flights
Clearly you can see my focus.

And so long as we're adding concerts, plays and, most importantly flights...

Hey Mom & Dad - why don't you come too? One day, in a bunch of years, when you retire, you could just move west. All the other Boomers are doing it.

Jul 17, 2011

Senorita Crocker

Last night we went out for Tex-Mex with our friends. As I drank my margarita and ate queso covered chip after queso covered chip, I wondered how did I make it through college with so little Tex-Mex. How?? I can't imagine going a week without Tex-Mex now but I would practically go months at a time in college. Unbelievable. Sad really.

In my love of Tex-Mex, I'm becoming quite the little Tex-Mex chef (see last weekend's awesome enchiladas). In fact forget Betty Crocker, you can just call me Senorita Crocker.

On Friday my coworker Emily shared this corn guacamole recipe with me. Emily understands my obsession with avocado and she knew it would be right up my alley. Spot on. It became the basis for my whole lunch today.

I bought an ear of corn and Ross kindly grilled it for me (while I may be rockin' at Tex-Mexing, I am still grill handicapped). I chopped and sauteed red and green bell peppers, onion and mushrooms then tossed them, along with a little chopped tomato, onto a tortilla with some cheese to make a super-awesome veggie quesadilla.

(Note: the best lazy thing my bro ever did was forget to take his quesadilla maker with him when he moved out of our shared apartment in 2007. Thank you so much Kev for being forgetful and then for being lazy enough to never claim it again. We're making great use of your quesadilla maker!)

Then while the corn was grilling, onto the guac. One large avocado, about 1/4 of a white onion, 1/2 a tomato, cilantro, lime juice and garlic salt, because as AJ and Jane taught me, everything can be made better with a little garlic salt. Once the corn was done, I cut off the kernels and added them to the deliciousness.

Ta-daa! Yumminess.

Holy cow was it delicious. The corn gives it a hint of sweetness which I found fun and new. The only warning I'll give is it was one of the most time-intensive, messy guacs I've made. (But usually I just whip up salsa, avocado, garlic salt and lime so I suppose it doesn't take much to surpass that everyday-in-a-hurry guac recipe.) Totally worth the extra time and clean up though.

Tex-Mex Tip: If you keep the avocado seed in with your guac it won't turn brown. It will stay that pretty guacamole green color. I don't know why this works but it does.

So delicious and filling. I had to have Ross and Lexi both help me finish the quesadilla slices
and there's still guac in the fridge for munching on later tonight.

Mr. Maybe

I like dumb girl books. I have dozens and have read even more. They are fun, easy and mindless. They usually are pink or purple in color. They are almost always in paperback form.

They all also have the same protagonist: a single girl working in mass comm in New York or London who really likes to shop. This means character development is a breeze and you can get straight to the plot.

Therefore it should be no surprise that Mr. Maybe is about Libby, a PR* living in London, searching for the right man and spending way too much on designer clothes in the process. I won't spoil the story but there end up being two guys in dear Libby's life, one that is right on paper and then the other.

It isn't an award winner but it was a fun, easy read for the middle of a hot summer. Good pool/beach reading. And it had a couple steamy scenes and some clothes/purses that even without pictures made me drool.  

Verdict: sure, why not. It's hot out. You need to turn off your brain for a while.

*This was the only thing in the book that really bugged me. The character actually describes herself as "a PR" as opposed to a PR pro or a public relations pro or something like that. I always wanted to say "Dear Libby, no you are not 'a PR' as that is as good as saying you are 'a public relations' which obviously sounds dumb. Love, me."

Jul 14, 2011

Seattle Delta Style

This actually happened a few weeks ago but I don't know what happened. I didn't blog about it or my excitement. (Actually I think 4th of July weekend happened is what it was.)

But anyways, Val emailed me an itinerary (a Google doc entitled "Seattle Delta Style") for my Cheryl-only trip next month. I fly up early on a Friday and back on a Monday. Here's what we have planned.
  • San Juan Islands
    Friday: Val's tour of Seattle, to include the Space Needle and yummy food.
  • Saturday: Wine.
  • Sunday: The San Juan Islands which is where Justin works and as I have recently discovered, is one of those places all travel literature says you just must visit. Excellent.
  • Monday: Fly home.
I've never been to the northwest corner of the US of A so I'm really pleased to be seeing a good portion of it while I spend some highly coveted QT with my Val.

Just 17 days until Canada and 35 until Seattle. Bring on the summer vacations!

Jul 12, 2011

My Recent BCRC Project

Recently I mentioned that I'd been working on a project for the BCRC. Specifically I was working on their first mass email in probably about a year.

Last week it was sent to and received by about 3100 constituents. You can see it here.

Their email list might not be big yet, but I gotta tell you, it's choice. The benchmark for emails from health related nonprofits is that 17% of them get opened. This BCRC email was opened by 33.6% of the recipients! The average click-through rate is 3.3% but they reached an astonishing 15%. Again, it might be a small group but it's a small group of people who want to hear from them and then want to learn even more.

If you want to learn more about the resources they offer to people fighting breast cancer, you can become their Facebook fan or sign up for their newsletter (either by following this link and scrolling to the very bottom or just by telling me and I'll pass your name along). I highly recommend it; I think you'll be very impressed.

Helping people navigate the murky waters of breast cancer is important and I'm excited to be a part of it. I'm really looking forward to helping them with more email newsletters and lots of other marketing projects.Woohoo!

This image is a flier I recently made for use around my office.
It's pretty basic but then again, so is the project it is for.

Jul 11, 2011

Flickr, This Means War

First, I should qualify this with I know that I have OCD and I know not a single one of you has ever noticed what I'm about to complain about. But God Almighty it drives me crazy.

Post wedding I changed EVERYTHING web in my life to be "CLBlack425." Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and last week, even YouTube. I cannot change Flickr.

It drives me insane. If you are in marketing, you can appreciate the value of consistency. It's how you brand something. Not to say Cheryl Black is a brand (yet) but my inner-marketing person just wants to be consistent. Am I being a bit of a perfectionist? Yes.

When I got onto Google+ this week (more on that later), this inconsistency stared me down

Do you see that? Consistent, consistent, consistent - BAM inconsistent. 
I've now written to Flickr for a second time begging to be allowed to change my URL. After all, I actually *pay* for Flickr. That's right pay. I'm not sure if they'll bend but I sure hope so.

I also created a new Flickr account with the URL Flickr.com/photos/clblack425. I am slightly tempted to start moving all my photos over. Slightly. Do you know that I have 3000+ photos? And it would have to be done manually, one at a time. Even at 10 per day it would take me a whole year! Am I that insane? Maybe. I haven't decided yet.

Jul 10, 2011

Domestic Bliss

To quote Frank the Tank: "Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we're going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don't know, I don't know if we'll have enough time."

Ross came home from work this morning and we had ourselves a pretty nice little Sunday. First, the Lexi walk, complete with leaps as you saw in the short film, "Leapin Lexi." Then we hung three new decor pieces in the bedroom. Note: I have a terribly hard time decorating bedrooms so three new decor pieces is a freakin' big deal for us.
New Wall Art
(If you have other master bedroom decor ideas, I'm taking them. The furniture all matches [and is dark wood] so that's a good start and our color scheme is chocolate brown, champagne and turquoise. Ready, set, go.)

Then off to the Home Depot to buy a new shrub for the front yard. We have a transformer in our yard that is a bit of an eyesore and it needs something to cover it. We're hoping the Chinese Holly we bought will do the trick.

Throw in a little gym time (during which I watched the Phillies destroy the Braves in the 7th inning and imagined a smiling Anna) and some Canada vacation planning (suspension bridge walk over a forest) to pass the afternoon.

And then, this is the crowning moment people, I whipped up a DELICIOUS dinner of veggie and chicken enchiladas. I've only made enchiladas once before and they were so-so but during our 60 hours of vegetarianism last week, I thought veggie enchiladas could be a good dinner option so I was all pumped up about trying something new.

Here's what I did: chopped and sauteed a white onion, two bell peppers, mushrooms, 1 yellow summer squash and since we are not vegetarians, one chicken breast. Then right at the last minute, I added some baby spinach just long enough to wilt it. Then dipped the tortillas in mild green chili enchilada sauce, both sides, and rolled them full of my chicken-veggie goodnees. Filled up a casserole dish with them and topped with cheese, salsa and a little  more enchilada sauce. Bake for about 10 minutes just to let everything melt together. Yum. I would show you a picture but it is all in our bellies.

And while I was doing all that it RAINED in Austin. Glory glory hallelujah, that made everything 10 times better than it already was.

Now it's almost time for another Lexi walk (don't have to wait until dusk since the glorious rain cooled it off outside) and then laundry folding while I watch TV.

Seriously y'all, I'm fat on enchiladas (and guac), have a naturally-watered lawn, a freshly decorated bedroom and the promise of clean clothes for the work week. I am happy as a clam.

Leapin Lexi

A few weeks ago I attended a social media training that ended with a product pitch. Good training, good product, just not a product I need at work right now. Not to be big-headed or anything, but of this group, I was clearly on the advanced side of the spectrum...like by a mile and probably the only person using social media enough to be a prospect for the product. So they've been courting me like champs ever since

Case in point: I was "randomly" selected after the event to receive the door prize. Random? Are you kidding me? The only potential sales lead just happens to be the person who wins the door prize, the door prize that you didn't draw in front of us? Puh-lease.

But hey, the door prize was a FlipCam and now we can do our part to even the cats v puppies score on YouTube.

Here's our second Lexi video in just one week! Look at her leap!

Jul 8, 2011

Defeat in the Frozen Foods Aisle

Back in May Ross said he wanted to try going vegetarian for a month. He'd heard people who are veggies say they never felt healthier than after they went veggie. He digs health so he wanted to try it. And since I wasn't about to have us cooking two separate dinners every night, I decided to go along for the ride. (Except I was still gonna eat fish, at least on the days he was working.)

I can't remember why exactly but July was deemed to be the best month to go vegetarian. We got to the very end of June and for about the twentieth time I asked him if he was really really sure about this veggie thing. He was...except he didn't think we should start until July 5. Who were we kidding thinking we wouldn't eat meat at a 4th of July BBQ?

On July 5 we went veggie.

Jump ahead all the way to...July 7. Our friend Jeremy is about to go off to a month of Army training so his girlfriend organized a going away BBQ and pool party. Since Ross had relented and agreed to also eat fish, I said we should take salmon with us. No way no how, salmon is a pain in the ass to grill I was told. OK fine, despite a house full of vegetarian food, we went to HEB to find something grill worthy.

As we stood in front of the frozen veggie burgers and veggie dogs, it happened. My husband caved. The vegetarian stint ended. After admitting defeat and acknowledging that I would be blogging about this defeat, he made a beeline to the sausage. Good, processed, all-American and probably multi-animal sausage.

On the drive home from the party, Ross summed the whole thing up with "I just don't know how people do it. Why would you ever want to turn down delicious things like sausage and steak tips and burgers and..."

Jul 7, 2011

Lexi is Famous

Today my husband emailed me this

Subject: Lexi is Famous

and then he texted me this: "I did it so you can always take a walk with Lexi even when you're on your trips."

Isn't he the sweetest, most thoughtful, cleverest husband you've ever known? I think so.

Jul 6, 2011

Whole Foods: You Have Been Replaced

I guess that title implies that I shopped regularly at Whole Foods. I do not though for what it's worth, until about 15 minutes ago I wished I did.

About 15 minutes ago though, I unloaded the veggies from my first farm-to-work order and ate a delicious tomato.

012Farm-to-work is a program we have at Convio. Every week you can order seasonal veggies through the Sustainable Food Center and Farmer Ottmer and on Wednesday afternoon, they magically appear at the office. The price is great, the food is fresh, there is no middle man, I don't have to drive and the website includes a little bio about the Ottmers, their kids and their farm.

Today's veggie delivery included tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, basil and an onion. AWESOME.

So unless Whole Foods can start delivering, well, then I think it's been replaced (Sorry Lindsay!)...well except for their chocolate chip cookies.

Mmmm...Whole Foods fresh baked cookies...

Update, 9:07 p.m.
I used my veggies to make this Eggplant Tomato Casserole. I substituted basil for oregano since I had that fresh and added a little more cheese because cheese is delicious (duh).  When I do it again I might add yet more cheese or maybe more pepper as it was just a tad bland for my taste.

Jul 3, 2011

Stepping up my Holiday Game

Last night we had dinner at Jack and Nancy's. Now if you don't know my mother-in-law, there are two things you need to know.

  • Though she's an elementary school teacher, her degree is in interior design.
  • She never half-asses anything. Go big or go home.
Take those two things and apply holidays. Christmas is like walking into a (Celtic) Macy's. Even St. Patty's Day gets the royal treatment. Also consider that she just renovated the backporch, which as you know is the official room of summer.

Needless to say her patriotic 4th of July spread was simply epic.

It was as sea of red, white and blue for miles. Seriously, she had a candle tree with one layer red, one layer blue and one layer white. There was a star spangled table runner and blue sparkly place mats. It was intense.

For what it's worth, this baby has been on our front door since early May.

But after seeing Nancy's patriotic display, I decided it was time to step up my 4th of July game. Thank you Target, Pier 1 and HEB for the assistance.


Tomorrow Ross will mount and hang the flag on the front porch and then our Ode to America 2011 will be complete.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get to two official 4th of July past times: a pool and a strawberry daiquiri.

Jul 2, 2011

Y'all Are Freaks

And I'm probably even more of a freak for being able to report back on your freakness.

In addition to my love affair with ABC World News, travel, nonprofits and Tex-Mex, I also have an obsession with Google Analytics. Please refer back to the nerdy post when I installed Google Analytics and last month when I reported back on how many of y'all there are.

New nerdiness: Google started an Analytics benchmarks newsletter. HOLLER! Love it. I received my very first edition of this nerdy awesomeness today and it told me that y'all are kinda freaks.

According to their benchmark, 85% of website visitors are on a Windows system. Only a piddly 5% are on Macintosh. But you blog readers, you are so cutting edge, progressive and in some cases, hippie. A whopping 33% of y'all are Macs. And if the PC v Mac commercials taught us anything, it's that Macs are wicked cool.

(I'm a PC but with Dell in our backyard, we get the hook up on the employee discount from friends and have a whole city worth of tech support experts available. Also my laptop is pink and came with a matching mouse and bag. I think that makes me/it pretty damn cool.)

Between October 25ths

Somewhere between October 25, 2009 when we got married and October 25, 2010 when Kevin began boot camp, I became a sobbing mess for military-families-reunited stories. Every time I see one, I cry like a baby. (The worst was a two part series. In the first segment, the Dad watched his baby's birth over Skype from Afghanistan and a few months later in the second segment, he held his baby for the first time.) It's a combination of imagining what it would be like to have Ross gone for an extended period of time and with Kevin's enlistment, having a renewed appreciation for military service.

So last night when ABC News (I told you I'm a committed viewer) honored our military and their families as the "Persons of the Week," I just stood there in my kitchen, loading the dishwasher and cried. It's so beautiful to see these soldiers come home to their wives, kids, girlfriends, parents, siblings. Really, could any homecoming be more exciting for a family?

If you want a good little patriotic cry, here's the clip from last night.