Feb 28, 2012

The Social Network

Tonight I finally watched The Social Network. I had some interest when it first came out but as I'm not much of a movie person, just simply never got around to it. But given my job and all, I thought I should watch it at some point.

It was a weird movie to watch. It starts in Boston, my freshman year of college at Harvard which given my romantic situation at the time was where I spent many a day. So there was a lot of deja vu in terms of scenes and some of the stuff talked about (ie Final Clubs). Of course it also starts with Mark Zuckerberg and his BU girlfriend breaking up and many not so nice comments about my alma mater.

Then there's the fact that a large percentage of my current employment is based on the existence of this site. So I supposed I'm a bit biased toward it and honestly want Zuckerberg to be a bit of a hero, king of the nerds if you will. But he doesn't come up smelling like roses. Really none of them do which is a shame if you ask me. Oh and ironically, as I sat there thinking "He's kinda a jerk" my first instinct was to post that where else but Facebook.

However I do really like the actor, Jesse Eisenberg, who played Zuckerberg. And Justin Timberlake is always good eye candy, even when he's a bit paranoid. So there's that.

Not my favorite movie by any stretch (though I wouldn't say I actively disliked it), but given that being in the right place at the right time probably is no small coincidence to my current gig, it was interesting.

Oh and what am I going to do tomorrow at work? I'm going to frequently tune in to to a live stream of a Facebook conference to learn about the latest development. The small worldness never ends.

Feb 25, 2012

Husband Surprise

Instead of his regular 24 shifts this week, Ross has been in training 8-5 getting certified in woodland fires. He aced his test Friday afternoon and is just a couple pieces of paperwork away from being eligible to travel around the state fighting wildfires.

His training meant he'd been home at night which had been a great change of pace. However we were under the impression that he'd have to go into the station overnight after training Friday. Color me surprised when he called at 5:15p Friday evening to say he was driving home! Hurray! Turns out the overnight shift was optional since he'd been in training. Score one for us.

When we both got home Friday we walked Lexi and I told him about all the work I hoped to get done this weekend. I recently took on a little freelance project so there were some things there, plus some volunteer work writing the BCRC newsletter and finally a few lingering tasks for the office. Lots on my plate to say the least. I got my second surprise of the evening when he nonchalantly said "well I can do the laundry or grocery shopping for you."

Spring-ified w/new table runner (Target),
fun candle holders (Pier 1) & $4 flowers (HEB)
Glory glory hallelujah! When I decided to do the freelance work earlier this month we agreed that to free up my time for that a bit, he would help more with the housework. However this was the first weekend it became a reality. I'm so thankful that he jumped right in and took something off my to-do list.

Now heading into Saturday night I've knocked out the BCRC newsletter and a little more than half of my freelance work for the weekend. We also have a kitchen full of husband-purchased groceries (after learning that his definition of "do the laundry" did not include folding, I suggested the grocery shopping  might be the more helpful task). With all that (plus a Lexi bath and the spring-ifying of the house) under our belts, it's time for a little fun: out to celebrate a girlfriend's 30th birthday downtown!

Feb 22, 2012

11 Qs

I love these cheesey things so when I saw this one on Anna's blog, I just couldn't resist. Here we go:

1. If you could live anywhere in the world for just a year – where would you live?
At the risk of starting out even cheesier, I'd live in Austin. I might make it downtown Austin instead of suburbia. I feel like when I graduated college I asked myself this exact question and then chose Austin. So it's not "if I could" it's more of a "I decided I could" kinda answer.

2. What were you like in high school?
Chatty. Busy. Mostly upbeat. Really busy.

3. How old were you when you had your first kiss?
12...almost 13. Like within weeks of 13.

4. What is your go-to coffee or tea order?
Tall caramel frapaccino with 2% milk and no whip cream please. And yes, that is saved in my Starbucks iPhone app with caloric information readily available. (Wow. Yuppie.)

5. How many states have you lived in?
Let's say 3 - Texas, Massachusetts and New South Wales which is a state (or province maybe?) of Australia.

6. When was the last time you told someone you loved them?
About 30 minutes ago to both my favs, Ross & Lexi.

7. What is your favorite color?
Pink. And orange. And red. That whole side of the color wheel really.

8. Favorite cartoon character?
Oh wow, I haven't thought about this in forever. Well, for adult cartoons, I really like Peggy Hill. I can't tell you how many Peggy Hills I know in Texas. It's hilarious!

9. What were you doing a year ago today?
Let's say give or take a day, in which case, apparently blogging about my dad and Girl Scout Cookies.

10. What do you want to be when you grow up?
I went through a handful of phases like any kid but other than the teacher and obligatory gymnast phase (Olympic gold medalist gymnast to be exact) they all kinda stuck to the communications field. For a bit in high school I wanted to be Diane Sawyer. Starring with her on World News is a close second best.

11. Today is going to be a great day because…
It was 83 degrees. In February. God I love Texas.

Feb 21, 2012

Walk Me Down the Aisle Baby

I like to think we provided him
with good wedding practice
Last night Carly and Kevin called me to talk wedding.

First, let me say I think I've met my match with this girl. She's a talker (we chatted for a full hour, love it!) and a planner (they've been engaged 2 weeks and she's knocked out tons already). Clearly she was meant to be in my family.

Now on to wedding. We chatted about a lot of things: who is making the centerpieces (her family), travel plans, day-of coordinator, puppy dog ring bearer, the importance of fake eyelashes (priorities people), the wedding party....which is where it gets exciting! Carly and Kevin asked me and Ross to both be in the wedding!

Same people, different aisle
We've walked down one (very important) aisle together and we're both really looking forward to doing it again. And I must say, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside that they want us as their family to be so involved in the wedding. It's going to be great!

Feb 19, 2012

Shopping Weekend

Yesterday Mom drove to Austin for a serious outlet shopping trip. Having heard me rave about the deals at the outlets in Round Rock, she wanted to check it out for herself. I think we did really good. I was most impressed that she bought 3 tops from Ann Taylor and her total price just under $50. That's some good sale shopping.

As you might suspect, this being the first time we've seen each other since Kevin's big engagement announcement, we talked tons and tons about the upcoming wedding. We were able to call Kev & Carly and get some more scoop from them on the wedding. I'm so excited to know I'll share their big day with them next year!

Next time I see Mom it will be on a plane bound for San Diego to see the lovely couple for a weekend. It even sounds like we'll be able to meet Carly's parents when we jump up the coast to San Francisco. After traveling east so often and living out there for college, I'm really excited to have a good reason to explore the other side of the country. Nicely done, Kev, nicely done.

Feb 17, 2012

EuroTrip Hotels DONE

We booked our last hotel for Europe!

In Austria we'll be staying at the Mecure Wein Zentrum which is one in a chain. (Hopefully that will mean they run like a well-oiled machine and are plenty used to silly American tourists like us.) While we hope there are some perks to the chain hotel, for that reason we did opt out of breakfast. We'd rather try locally owned places throughout the city.

As for location, its very central, in the "Innere Stadt" section of town which I cannot pronounce but I understand to be "downtown." The reviews on Orbitz were all good with a traveler rating of 4 out of 5 stars. And it looks very slick and modern which feels fancy to me and who doesn't want to end their trip with a little bit of fanciness.

Also being modern, downtown and a chain, it's the exact opposite of our B&B in Innsbruck. Looks like we'll be enjoying both sides of the spectrum in Austria.

That's it on the hotel front! March and April, in between my travel and both of our jobs, will be dedicated to making our short list of must-see places and figuring out the how/what/when/where that goes along with them. Yay Europe!

Feb 16, 2012

Giddy Up!

Giddy Ups
Courtesy of Ms. Blair
In true Texas fashion, today's team building event included BBQ at Hill's Cafe, horseback riding and happy hour at the one and only, Giddy Ups.

If you were at the office in the morning with us but didn't know our afternoon plans, you would have been quite amused by our team. Suffice it to say boots, plaid and buttons downs were all plentiful.

It was one of the cooler team building afternoons I've had and really felt Austin-y which I loved. I may have smelled a bit like a horse during dinner with the in-laws and during my post-dinner shopping adventure, but well worth it I say.

Feb 15, 2012

Busy busy bees

Holy mole we've been busy bees!

I'll give you the rundown:
  • Work (duh) and today, very long work.
  • FD Union meeting; hubs is on the social committee!
  • "The usual" for the hubs, you know, saving lives and such.
  • Fancy Valentine's dinner at Eddie V's. Yum! Details to come.
  • Summer beach trip planning. One word: Limealicious.
  • Lexi hung out and was worn out at Camp Bow Wow.
  • Tax documentation printed, organized and ready to go.
  • Dinner and taxes with in-laws tomorrow.
  • Friday...rest? relaxation? Yes, please.
  • Saturday: Mom! Shopping! Yay!

    Feb 11, 2012

    People actually read this thing

    I don't know why it surprises me. Not to say I am that super interesting or anything but I see Google Analytics (and slightly inexplicably different Blogger analytics). I should know that people are reading this from that alone.

    However I'm still always surprised when someone says "I read your blog" or as happened repeatedly at the company party when introducing Ross to people "Oh I read so much about you on Cheryl's blog!".

    Same gang, different night
    Last night when our buddy Aaron came down from Dallas (Hi Aaron!), we were sitting at the bar and he says "I read your blog." I was as surprised as ever. I never realized Ross' buddies read my blog! That's a whole new audience!

    Out of love for the Aarons of the world, we tried to convince Ross to start blogging but that didn't get very far. Sorry boys, looks like you are stuck with me.

    Feb 10, 2012

    Mucho Gusto

    It's been a while since I wrote a restaurant review I feel. But lucky for you (and for me) the hubby and I discovered a tasty little Italian place earlier this week.

    We were celebrating some good work I had done at the office so it was my pick. Our qualifiers were moderate price point, not a chain, outside of downtown and per the hubby's request, Italian. I poked around on Yelp and came up with a brand new place, Gusto Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar.

    It's in the Rosedale neighborhood of Austin (which I find has all kinds of places I like) which meant central-ish but without the inconveniences of being smack in town. When we got inside we found this place to be cute, cute, cute! A kinda funky, art deco motif with murals on the walls and plenty of warm colors. It was about 75% full so no wait for a table. We sat at a high top in the wine bar-ish area. I say "ish" because while we were close to the bar, I didn't feel like I was sitting "in the bar;" it still had a restaurant feel.

    I had a delicious glass of chardonnay, Ross had an iced tea and we split the antipasti appetizer. The whole appetizer was good but I especially loved the green olives (I ate all but one and only stopped at that point because Ross called me on not saving any for him). For my entree I had the chicken wrapped in prosciutto with a side of mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach. DELICIOUS. It was dressed in a tasty cream sauce and the portion was just right. Ross ordered the Italian job pizza which included sausage, mozzarella cheese, goat cheese, red peppers and onion. Very tasty gourmet pizza indeed.

    The service was pretty good too. When I asked the waiter about the menu, specifically would it change seasonally, even though he didn't know the answer he was very quick to bring me a comment card to give all my feedback through.

    Our total bill, with tip, was $55 so from a price stance, also pretty good. Definitely someplace you could go monthly if you were so inclined.

    VERDICT: We're going again. Wanna double date?

    Feb 9, 2012


    Wanna know what's new around here?  Just check out lil bro's recent Facebook announcement. It's pretty amazing.


    Carly's Ring(And if you are too lazy to follow the link, just see the pic for a darn clear hint.) Happy happy day!

    Feb 8, 2012

    I was blogged about!

    Usually I'm the one doing the blogging but I'm very excited to share with you the flip side of the coin, someone blogging about me.


    I am very flattered that someone would blog about me. Also as a result of this, I feel quite fancy.

    A little spring in my dress

    This past weekend I had a need to shop. Just needed to punch up my wardrobe with something. Per the usual though I wasn't aiming to spend tons of money so I ran up the road to the shopping center with a Marshall's, Old Navy and Kohl's.

    I hit the jackpot!

    As close as I can find online
    I was about to leave Kohl's empty handed when this springy floral and denim dress jumped out at me. It was $64 (a smidge steep for what I was looking to spend) but was on sale for $48 (much more reasonable). I tried it on and in a word - SCORE. Then I remembered that I had $22 in a gift card from a Christmas return which brought my end price all the way down to $30, including tax.

    I'm sporting it today to the office. Now I read enough fashion blogs (ie one, that of Austin Delta alumna Alta who keeps up this fashion/family blog and continues to wow me with her very large and on a budget wardrobe) to know wearing the belt that comes with an outfit is risky business. Of course, I've also been myself long enough to know I can't be trusted with accessory decisions, most especially when it comes to belts. I rely on the stores and my personal shopper Nichole to tell me how, what and when for all things including belts.

    iphone_picWhile self-portraits are not my specialty in life, I think this one via my iPhone does a decent job of showing off my new springy dress (in February because apparently we are not having a winter this year). Complete with the paired belt which I have to say, I think looks pretty good.

    Feb 4, 2012

    High Five HEB

    On Wednesday when the hubs and I were finally reunited after 4 nights apart due to GFD and NYC, he surprised me with beautiful red-tipped yellow roses. My favorites!

    However I was very bummed when by Friday they were starting to wilt. He had gone to HEB, which despite being a grocery store, always comes through for us on the flowers front. This was definitely an anomaly. I remembered though that the wrapping on the flowers said 7 days guaranteed fresh and I was determined to get my full 7 days.

    New flowers now gracing the table
    This morning I took the receipt (luckily it was just sitting in the truck console) and a picture of my wilted flowers to HEB to request new flowers.

    The good lady at HEB didn't even make me show her my picture. In no time flat, I was walking out with two (less expensive) bouquets of pink and purple flowers, guaranteed to be fresh for 14 days and a few dollars cash a la the difference in cost.

    I didn't think about it in the moment, but I totally should have given the very nice lady at HEB a high five for that excellent customer service.

    Feb 2, 2012

    The Lincoln Lawyer

    Last year I read The Lincoln Lawyer. It was a really good book, very interesting twisty plot. A non-John Grisham Grisham-like read if you will.

    Without giving it away, it's about Michael, a criminal defense lawyer in LA who is hired for a high profile assault case. It doesn't take long for his client's real colors to show through and the craziness begins.

    Flash forward to now and our (very expensive) Netflix membership which I am determined to get the most of. I rented the movie on Blu-Ray and settled in Tuesday night to watch it while Ross was at work.


    I guess if you hadn't read the book but did see the movie, like Ross, you might like the movie (he did). But if you read the book you would have been disappointed in the movie, as is so often the case.

    It simply didn't take long enough at the beginning to develop the characters which made the twists significantly less interesting. Also the first plot twist, the one that really matters, didn't have the dots connected very well. Even having read the book a few months before I was thinking "huh? how did he draw that conclusion?" Finally a few plot deviations are a given from book to movie and while they didn't have any major ones, I thought the ones they chose lessened the story quality overall.

    Verdict: Book or movie. Not both.

    Feb 1, 2012

    Marie Claire & Me on Money

    Since I discovered on my flight to NYC that my book. Making It Up, was awful, I splurged on the February issue of Marie Claire for the flight back. I liked the feature on Christina Aguilera, loved the feature on Gov. Nikki Haley and thought the Money Matters section was good enough to share here with you.

    Here's a few of my fav tips from Money Matters + my own commentary:
    • "Maximize your paycheck. Take pretax dollars from  your salary to ensure you have funds for things you need. A flexible spending account (FSA) lets you pay for health expenses..." The tricky thing about an FSA though the "use it or lose it" clause. For the first year you open one of these, I suggest figuring out your sure-thing expenses like contacts, birth control and other regular prescriptions. Only set aside enough for those and depending on how you spend, consider increasing the next year.
    • "Skimp on the small stuff." This is why my college friends associate me with cheap toilet paper...and toothpaste, paper towels, etc. Needless to say, name brand is not always the way to go, especially on daily household purchases.
    • "Make small changes at home. Save $33 a month: Turn your fridge temperature up to 40 degrees and your freezer up to 0." You bet I immediately checked my fridge. The other ideas here include surge protectors and compact fluorescent lightbulbs. I'd like to add in variable or low-flow toilets and keeping your home really warm in the summer and really cold in the winter (guilty as charged).
    • "Shop solo. Browsing with a friend triggers competition; you'll be more objective alone." I have to admit this one isn't any fun but I know I do by less when I'm alone so there must be some truth to it.
    • Take your lunch. OK this one wasn't in Marie Claire but I find it to be one of the best cost saving things to do on an almost daily basis. When we really need to save we take this one step further and instead of buying lunch stuff will make just a little more for dinner and take that with us. Dinner leftovers are especially cheap when it's pasta night.
    • Use cash. Again not in Marie Claire but tried and true in the Black household. If you can't pay for it in cash, you can't afford it.