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Category Archives: Fun Stuff

A visit from Megan!

One of my friends/roommates from college is in TX to visit, and I couldn’t be happier to see her! So clearly, that’s #day4 of my #100happydays.  We worked together to make these yummy lemon shortbread cupcakes – they turned out really yummy (even though I only had 1 1/2 c. of flour and had to add a 1/2 c. of cornmeal on the fly).  We also made the Summer Sesame Noodles from this article, and I added bell peppers.  It was a really nice dinner for the hot day we had here.  Big plans for Galveston tomorrow. . . stay tuned! 🙂

Lemon Shortbread Cupcakes

Lemon Shortbread Cupcakes

Me and Megan!

Day 4: Me and Megan! #100happydays  #day4

 
 

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Witchcraft

Witchcraft

<—The sign that greets you over the front door of Witchcraft – Yes Please!

There were actually lots of things that made me happy today, so it was hard to choose (definitely a good problem to have!)  After a long day at school, it was really nice to head to a local restaurant and enjoy dinner on the patio.  Witchcraft Tavern and Provision Co. in the Heights neighborhood of Houston has a really cool vibe.  Having a beer and savoring the gorgeous weather was definitely worthy of mention in my #100happydays!  The burger with bacon, caramelized onion, and blueberry stilton wasn’t bad either. . . Cheers!

mmmm

mmmm – LIve Oak Hefe

Seriously good burger! (The  side salad instead of fries means it was a healthy choice, right?)

Seriously good burger! (The side salad instead of fries means it was a healthy choice, right?)

Me and my lab mates/buddies Kat and Avante at Witchcraft  #100happydays  #day3

Me and my lab mates/buddies Kat and Avante at Witchcraft #100happydays #day3

 

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100 Happy Days!

100 Happy Days!

As a psychology student, the idea of being intentional about your own happiness is an idea that makes a lot of sense.  In fact, we just spent class today talking about the definition of consciousness, and how attention is a huge part of that – as in purposefully shifting your attention toward or away from particular things in your environment. In practice, however, I’ll admit I’m quicker to gripe than give thanks on some days, especially when I’m overwhelmed (which of course just adds to the negative energy).

On another note, I haven’t posted here in a looong time.  To kill two birds with one stone, I thought I would jump on the #100happydays bandwagon – and post a least a little something here everyday! If you’re not familiar, the 100 Happy Days challenge is about submitting a picture every day for 100 days of something that made you happy.  It helps to shift your attention to those positive things in your world and allow those things to take on more meaning – which can only be a good thing!

So, here goes!  The first one is easy – the two pups in my life (mine and my BF’s, who I’m puppy sitting for the week/end) always make me happy.  They make excellent snuggle buddies.  🙂

Day 1: Tilly and Sam  #day1 #100happydays

Day 1: Tilly and Sam
#day1 #100happydays

 

 
 

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A reminder of why my friends are so great!

I had such an amazing  (and slightly stressful) weekend over Labor Day break.  I traveled back to PIttsburgh, got to see lots of my very best friends in the world, and witness the love-filled (and fun!) wedding of Jamie Rose and Dave.  I also lost my keys and got no sleep going into Tuesday morning, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’d make a terrible event photographer, mostly because I get so caught up in having fun and enjoying the moment that I forget to take pictures altogether.  I did an ok job this time, but once we got to the cake cutting, that all went out the window. It doesn’t matter in the slightest, though, because Jamie and Dave had a phenomenal wedding photographer, and one of the coolest things she did was set up a laptop on the cake table during the reception to show off a slideshow of the pictures she had taken during the ceremony.   Instant gratification!  I loved it.

So, here are the few pictures I did take.

Flowers in mason jars lined the aisle

The beautiful bride and her father!

It was such a nice ceremony.

Husband and Wife!

I didn’t manage to get a shot of the Matron of Honor walking down the aisle. 😦

It was a really nice ceremony, and it fit Jamie Rose and Dave really well! The reception was also really beautiful.  We took time after the cocktail hour and pictures were finished to set up our tents for later in the night, since we’d be camping where the ceremony took place.  Setting up a tent in the rain with a dress on was certainly a first for me, but it was pretty quick and painless.

The barn where the reception was held

The cake!

Aaaand. . . that’s where the pictures stop. I was having too much fun to keep my phone with me, haha.  There was cake-cutting and toast-making.  Dinner was sooo good; it was a barbeque feast (we all know how much I love food!)  Then there were first dances, and everybody got down!  We did the limbo under a necktie (sure sign of a good time!) and the cupid shuffle.  It was such a fun party, and I remember just having a moment where I looked around at all of the lovely laughing people around me and was so thankful to have such good friends!  I am excited to be in Houston, and I feel like I’m settling in just fine, but it felt so good to be back where everyone is familiar and knows me so well.

After the official reception was over, we moved the party down to a big bonfire set up near the pond where the ceremony had been.  It was really nice to have an after-party, especially because I wasn’t ready to go to bed, I was having too much fun catching up with everyone!  🙂  Also, it was sort of fun to not have to worry about getting home, and just crash in a tent!  My family always went camping over Labor Day weekend when I was growing up, so it felt nostalgic.

The wedding was definitely the highlight of my weekend, but it was nice that I didn’t have to head back to Houston until Monday evening, so i had some more time to spend with friends.

Before we left for the airport on Monday so I could go home, I realized I couldn’t find my keys.  We tore Meaghan and Megan’s house apart looking for them, and I called every place I’d been since Friday, to no avail.  I had a quick moment of panic (my keys have my house key, my lab keys, my car keys, basically my whole life) but I got over it quickly.  This was definitely a situation where three heads were better than one.  We came up with a plan b assuming I would never see my keys again.  We scheduled a shuttle home from the airport for when I landed, and I begged one of my classmates for a ride to stats the next morning. I called my other classmate and her husband who were dogsitting for me and had my extra house key to let them know that I’d be locked out, and I felt way better.  I was so thankful to have such smart ladies help me figure it out, and it didn’t feel nearly so catastrophic!

We went out and had a late lunch, and then they dropped me off at the airport.  When I went to check in for my flight, the woman at the counter told me that there was a note attached to my itinerary to pick up lost keys at baggage claim in Houston!  It was some sort of miracle that they bothered to figure out who those keys belonged to, but I was so happy to hear that they were waiting for me.

End of the story, right?  well, not quite.  I canceled my shuttle ride so I could get a refund since you have to cancel 4 hrs before.  However, when I landed in Houston a little after 12 am, the lady at baggage claim had no idea what I was talking about.  She showed me a basket of keys and told me it was all she had.  It was one of those situations where I had been so relieved, and it was doubly disappointing to be stranded at the airport.  By the time she finished looking in the computer system and making a note, it was after 1, and I still had no keys.  I lost it at that point and started crying in the back office of the baggage claim.  It was embarrassing.  I chewed a piece of gum, took a few deep breaths, and pulled it together.  I went out and re-scheduled the shuttle I had canceled, and got home by 2:30.

It was stressful and not the best way to end my weekend, but I went back to the airport yesterday to get my car with my spare key, and checked again with the office and they were there!!!   I am so happy to have my keys back, and that someone cared enough to do some detective work and figure out who the keys belonged to and put a note on my itinerary.  (I think they must have plugged the flash drive that was on my keys into a computer to figure it out).

I don’t know when I’ll next make it back to the ‘Burgh, but I’m so happy I was able to make it for this trip, and I miss all of you already!!!

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2012 in Fun Stuff, Travel

 

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Orientation Week

I know it’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything, but that’s because this week has been really busy!  (Also, I’m pretty sure that’s the direction my life is headed since classes start next week, but I’ll do my best to keep writing when I find a little pocket of time.)  I spent all day in orientation Tuesday, and also on Wednesday morning.  I completed a bunch of administrative tasks, like registering with the payroll office and enrolling in classes. I did enough running around campus to start to have the layout figured out, and I don’t need my GPS to get between home and campus anymore (woo-hoo!)

Last night, I had most of the other first year clinical students over for a potluck to get to know one another better before our schedules get really crazy.  It was fun, and it turns out everyone’s a pretty good cook!  🙂

I made this zucchini casserole recipe.  I also made the red pepper aioli the recipe mentions, but I totally spaced and left it in the fridge instead of putting it out with the casserole.  Duh!  I guess I’ll just put it on the leftovers.

Speaking of which, I made a few freezer meals last week to have for the middle of the semester when I’m sure I won’t feel like cooking, and I finally finished setting up my office space and got a chair delivered.  I’ll take some pictures and post about that soon.

I already have a good bit of reading to do, so I’m going to try and get caught up on that tonight so I can enjoy the rest of my weekend.  (what and exciting Friday night!)

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Cooking, Fun Stuff

 

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For the Love of Pickles!!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love all things salt and vinegar.  Potato chips for sure, but other things too.  French fries at a football game doused in vinegar and ketchup.  Olives, capers, anything brined. But most of all, I love pickles. I’ve never met a pickle I didn’t like, but my favorites would have to be a tie between dill and bread and butter.

Because of this mild obsession, I’ve been hoarding pickling recipes with the good intention of trying to make my own.  And I have to tell you that I made and teeny tiny batch out of two pickling cucumbers today, but it can hardly be called pickling because I ate all of them after they had spent about an hour in the fridge.  Seriously, all of them.  They were delicious!

Before I had eaten quite all of them, I remembered to take a picture. Haha

I used Recipe Girl’s recipe for Bread and Butter pickles, and only made a few slight changes.  I approximately quartered the recipe for the brine since I had such a puny amount of cucumbers, and  I only used white vinegar since that’s what I had.  Also, I used a red onion instead of a white, and I impulsively threw in a very thinly sliced jalapeno, which made them sweet and spicy pickles.  I am definitely going to have to try this again with a regular sized batch, and not eat them all on the first day so they have some time to really “pickle.”

On another pickleish note, I finally decided what to do with the black-eyed peas from my farmshare box.  Most of the recipes for fresh black-eyed peas (or purple-hull peas as they’re sometimes called) involved some variation on soaking in a vinaigrette after they’d been cooked.   I found this recipe for purple hull pea salad from Homesick Texan, and decided to loosely follow that.  It’s basically salsa or guacamole but with beans instead of tomatoes or avocados.  I decided to throw in some red onion, and once I tasted the final product it was quite spicy (i put in cayenne and two jalapenos, so it better be!)  which I like, but I threw in a pinch of white sugar to balance it out a little.  Also, I decided to put in some corn which I had in the freezer, which is also sort of sweet.

The “cast of characters” as The Pioneer Woman loves to say: cilantro, tomatoes, jalapenos, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, red onion, cumin, cayenne, and salt and pepper.

 

After being simmered for 40 minutes the beans turned an ugly beigey color, but they were nice and tender.

The finished salad. I think it will be yummy as a dip for tortilla chips, or on a bed or greens as a meal.

And finally, if you’re in need of some comedic relief, I took Tilly tubing on the Guadalupe River yesterday.  Unfortunately I don’t have any photographic evidence, but a shot of her in her ridiculous doggy life jacket should give you a pretty good idea.   I wasn’t sure how she’d feel about the whole thing, so I invested in the life jacket as an extra precaution (also, it had a handle on the back which made her easier to grab if I needed to).  She was so not pleased with me for putting her in a tube in the middle of a river, but she was a good sport about it, so it turned out to be a really fun day anyway.  

 

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2012 in Cooking, Fun Stuff, Tilly

 

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Exploring “Historic Downtown”

I took a really fun walking tour of downtown Houston last night.  It was a “Historic Downtown Pub Crawl” and we got to learn a lot of the history behind many of the beautiful old buildings that are interesting watering holes.  It was a good mix of education and recreation.  🙂

First we started at Georgia’s Market, a cool downtown grocery store with a focus on locally grown, organic produce and meats.  Also, they have a cute little bar down in the basement with lots of local beers and wines.  My favorite part was a beautiful wine cellar in the back that you can rent out for events.

The cool wine cellar in Georgia’s Market

Next, we walked a few blocks to a bar across the street from Market Square Park (which has a dog park in it!).  The bar is aptly named Market Square Bar and Grill, haha.  I tried a local beer from Karbach Brewery called Weisse Versa Wheat.  One of the other people on the pub crawl told me that brewery tour is really fun, so I’ll have to add it to my growing list of things to do here!

After hanging out and sipping beer for a little while, we walked on to the next few places.  One of the coolest/most unique places we visited was Char Bar.  Apparently this street used to be called Tailor Row because of all the tailor shops that were there, and this is the only remaining one (yes, it’s also a bar).  They also offer shoe shines; what an eclectic mix!

You know, just shopping for a tie while I have a cocktail. . .

The facade of Char Bar

Pictures showing the history of the family that owns it above the bar

After that, we stepped into Warren’s next door, to check out the atmosphere.

The little stage inside Warren’s (historically occupied by burlesque dancers)

Every place we went had such cool light fixtures; Warren’s was no exception

Next, we stopped for a quick minute into La Carafe, the oldest bar in Houston.  Apparently it’s also one of the most haunted places, and there’s a ghost that has to give you her approval before you can work there.  It smelled heavily of incense, and there was a scary gypsy monkey guarding the cash register.

The monkey (sorry for the not so great picture)

It had such a cool atmosphere, I totally want to come back for a glass of wine sometime!

 

Next, we stopped for a drink in a bar called Hearsay.  It’s in a really old brick building, and they have a two story open floorplan with a beautiful chandelier.

The gorgeous chandelier!

They had an awesome menu, and I really wanted to try a bunch of their cocktails.  I settled on the “twelve spot;” a mix of bourbon, orange, sugar and angostura bitters.  It was delicious!  I think this was my favorite stop of the night, it had such a cool vibe, I’d love to come back for dinner.

The back of the bar

Our last stop of the night was the Hotel Icon.  It’s in a building that used to be a bank, and the vaults are still there.  We got to peek into the back office where you can still see the lock mechanism of the safe.  The building sat abandoned from the mid-eighties until 2007, when a business magnate spent 50 million dollars to rehab it and turn it into an absolutely gorgeous hotel.  They even imported artisans from Italy to hand carve all of the crown molding and plaster work in the lobby.  It’s now owned by Magic Johnson and managed by his son, and they’ve put even more money into it.  It’s really opulent, and very Texas (there were cowhide chairs in the lobby)

The beautiful ceiling in the lobby

Another view of the lobby

Overall, it was a really fun night.  As a total newcomer, it was nice to have interesting places pointed out to me, and I won’t be at a total loss next time I”m in the neighborhood looking for something fun to do.

 

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Fun Stuff

 

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