Wednesday, April 27, 2016

One Thing I'm Good At (This Summer)

My parents were blessed with three daughters. Three daughters that never fought, never threw each other over couches, never borrowed eyeliner with no intention of returning it, and never cheated in Marco Polo. Three angels in heavy disguise. Now that we all pretend to be grown and don't have the opportunity to fight to the death over pool games as much as we used to, having 2 sisters is incredible. There is rarely a day where I haven't talked, texted, face timed, emailed, or actually seen one of them. Truly, the best gift that my parents have given us is each other.

But in no way shape or form did they bother to create 3 sisters that are alike. Yes, in many regards we could be nothing more alike, but in a heck of a lot more ways are absolutely nothing alike. One of the most obvious ways (other than my lack of red hair) were our hobbies turned passions, With an arts background, I see everything somewhat through that lens. When my younger sister played collegiate athletics, I caught so much slack for inadvertently, repeatedly calling her uniforms costume. Potato, potato- right? And sometimes I just think of my life as one big musical... without the singing, without most of the dancing, but definitely including an intermission. Okay I may have included that line to force them to roll their eyeballs back into their heads so far they will get stuck (... I see you through the computer screen!!!) but I guess that is what years of acting classes gets you.

The advantage of being predispositioned to artsy-fartsy things is that I have a plethora of cool things to do, see, or visit. For most performing art genres, organizations pull back from there regularly scheduled programming during the summer months and either go dark or produce something special. This means there are TONS of things to do in the arts over the summer.

So inspired by Chesson's list of things to do in Colombia this summer, here are my Houston Recommendations for a FREE and ART FILLED Summer!

1) Houston Shakespeare Festival

Oh how I love you so. There is nothing like bringing a picnic basket full of wine cheese and crackers to the hill to watch 3 hours of Shakespeare tipsy full of carbs. They rotate 2 plays through the 1 and a half week run (this year Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing), so whether you want a little dose of Middle Aged warfare or listen to gossip in olde english there is something for everyone.

2) Museums

Houston Museum District

Houston has some incredible museums that, as a general rule of humanity in Houston, have A/C. Andrew and I have been working our way through this list of free museum days and the museums that are free EVERYDAY! 

Free Museum Days in Houston Museum District:

Buffalo Soldiers National Museum – Thursday 1 pm – 5 pm
Houston Museum of Natural Science – Thursday 3 pm – 6 pm
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston — Thursday 10 am – 9 pm — Kids 12 & under free every day
Children’s Museum of Houston — Thursday 5 pm – 8 pm
The Health Museum — Thursday 2 pm – 5 pm
Holocaust Museum Houston – Thursday 2 pm – 5 pm
Houston Museum of African-American Culture — Thursday 6 pm – 8 pm
Czech Center Museum Houston – Last Monday each month, noon -4 pm

Free Everyday: Our favorites are the Contemporary Arts Museum and the Menil Collection

Asia Society Texas Center (all spaces except Louisa Stude Sarofim Gallery)
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
DiverseWorks (Gallery Space)
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
Houston Center for Photography
The Jung Center
Lawndale Art Center
The Menil Collection
Rice University Art Gallery
Rothko Chapel

3) Miller Outdoor Theatre- 

Miller Outdoor Theatre is an outdoor theatre in one of Houston's most beloved parks. It offers 8 months of diverse professional programming- and the kicker is it is all FREE! As the largest 'always free' program of its kind in the country, Houston is lucky to have it. I've spent many a summer night sweating there and at first I wanted to write about the Exxon Mobile Summer Nights Houston Symphony performances, but when I looked over the whole summer season there was so much stuff that I didn't even know happened there! My picks would include: Tosca in late May by the Houston Grand OperaHouston Ballet perfoming in early May, and MetDance's Summer Sizzling Dance.  All free, Houston folks!

Okay, so now I will go back to burying my head in the sand and pretending summer won't happen...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Currently 4.25.16

Things have just been a blur around here the past week with the Houston floods and general busy-ness. Instead of hunkering down and getting things done, I have about 15 projects midway done, ideas for 27 more, and not enough motivation to finish any. 

So it is time for another Currently post...

Currently eating: 
No-Fry Italian 'Fried' Chicken
Okay, well we not currently at this very moment, but we made Port and Fin's No-Fry Italian 'Fried' Chicken and I'm still salivating over it. So delicious that when drumsticks went on sale again at the grocery store this week, we went and bought enough for 2 more batches. Just livin la vida loca over here. 

Currently Reading:
King John- Shakespeare's histories have never been my thing, so it is taking me longer than I would like but I have faith.

Currently Watching:
Amazing Race (except I have no idea who these 'social media stars' are) and Game.Of.Thrones. 

Currently Sweating:
I tried to run a couple times this week, but until my doctor's appointment for my hip I'm trying to take it easy. Sunday we went on an almost 13 mile bike ride that felt great. I miss the miles though :(

Currently Anticipating:
Trip up to Colorado coming up to celebrate our favorite baby's 1st birthday. Can't wait to see that little girl and her parentals. 

Currently Pinteresting:
Ideas for our front garden. Trying to find something that will be resistant to the Houston heat and be very low maintenance. This one falls squarely in the '15 projects halfway done' pile.

Currently Online WINDOWshopping:
Rose gold Druzy earrings, rose gold earrings, rose gold druzy, Faux Druzy earrings, Druzy Pendant earrings, Boho Jewelry, Druzy earrings
Pendant rose gold earrings after mine went tragically missing, new running shoes, and a PJ set with shorts because... Summer is coming (see the Game of Thrones non-reference reference).

Currently Stressing Over: 
A very hectic work week full of presentations, deadlines, and a couple work-fun things too. It definitely helps that I get to look forward to seeing Faure's Requiem at the Houston Symphony

Currently Grateful For:
Andrew picking up the slack around here while I've been running around like a chicken (drumstick, of course) with my head cut off.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Scariest Movie I Have Ever Seen, That I Haven't Actually Seen

While working from home the other day, I noticed some fishy comings and goings happening in a property nearby. Recently a big fancy townhome builder came in and bought the property up, but they haven't actually knocked down the old building. Because the comings and goings didn't quite look like they were of the townhome-building-meeting variety, I was less than thrilled with the safety of these encounters and called the non-emergency police line. Being married to lawyer, I knew was told that if the individuals were smart enough to lock the door behind them there was very little that the police would do without a real danger, I still kept my eyes locked (through blinds because I'm a wimp) at the property for the rest of the day. The non-emergency police dispatch woman even told me I gave a very good description of the individuals (I watch way too many crime shows and found this the highest compliment). The glamour of city living is not lost on me. Sitting there huddled against the window reminded me of the scariest movie I've ever seen, that I have never actually seen. 

Or I guess, that I've never actually finished. I've lived in fear of this movie for decades. Or close to that. A little after Andrew and I were married, we were debating what movie to watch one evening. Somehow we got set on watching a scary movie (quite the rarity) and I tried to explain to him the scariest movie I've ever seen. I was going through the limited details I remember from a movie that I watched as a child and he asked what happened next. Ugh, I don't know. I didn't ever see the ending. Not only is that a frustrating end to a conversation, but it led to a frustrating google search of what the movie was.

Eventually I found the movie on youtube and with glee started it. I was so scared. I shrieked, I hid my eyes, I gritted my teeth until... well, I fell asleep. Andrew finished the movie that he didn't want to watch anyways and all was well. The next morning I was furious at myself for not finishing it. I prodded Andrew, who was decidedly in the camp of 'that movie wasn't a tad bit scary' until I just turned on the movie and watched it again the next afternoon. Well, something must have been in the water because I fell asleep. Again. 

Over the past couple years, I've asked him multiple times what happens at the end, but have yet to receive an answer. So here I am, a middle schooler away from the first time I 'watched' this movie and I still don't know what happens. Sitting here huddled against the window watching the comings and goings from a closed window kinda makes me want to start it again, but I just don't know if I can end my streak.

The movie was the made for TV remake (I know, I know) of Rear Window.
Rear Window Poster
"Who is watching who?"

Anyone out there if this movie (not the original and not the other one) is actually scary?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Race Recap- Texas Wine Series

How sweet it is to be writing this recap while watching the Boston Marathon! Houston was slammed with some nasty storms on Monday, so I penned this while watching the race live. Seriously, I love watching marathons. It is such a feat of human persistence and their times are astounding. But I digress...

Race weekend! Another one is in the books folks.

I tried to not get too excited, but I had really high hopes for this race. My tempo and long runs had been strong and I was going for the PR (personal record). I did my strength training, created a race plan that matched the course, and wanted it so badly. As a runner, I've never been particularly focused on speed. I love the process. I love the mental part of going into something knowing that it will be hard, knowing I will want to quit, and knowing that I can and will do it. But this time, I was selfish. just wanted to beat myself.

My hip had been giving me some trouble, but when I couldn't even finish my last long run (stopped at 10.5 instead of 12), I got nervous. I foam rolled, worked on nutrition, and skipped my last long run because I knew that if I pushed it early, I might not make it to race day.

It turns out that this time, race day wasn't my day.

The first 3 miles of the course were on trails and I had my plan. I wanted to run the first 3 miles at 8:50 and then slowly chip that time down to 8:35-8:40 paces when the course made it to the roads. I don't normally run on trails and knew that I needed to really focus on my footwork. That was my plan.

On race morning while running some warm up strides, my hip was just not having it. I tried to push the negativity to the back of my mind, but I started the race nervous. My hip wasn't sore or uncomfortable, it was painful. I forgot my plan and just went into 'get it done' mode. I ran too fast and the first 2 miles clocked in the high 8:20s. By mile 2, I knew today wasn't my day. 

I stopped to stretch, tried to loosen it up, but my hip was getting worse every step (I think the trails further exasperated that). I was so mad. I was so mad at my hip, so mad at my mental game, and so mad that it wasn't going to happen that day. Until mile 4, I couldn't get over it. We all have really cruel things (I'm going to assume this is a universal thing, okay?!?) that at some time or another we have said to ourselves. The thoughts that are normally so far back in the cobwebs of your mind that you never think. The things you would never ever dare to say about someone else, but can be easy to punish yourself with. Those were the only things I could think about. The first 35 minutes of the race, I don't know if I thought a single kind thought that was directed to me.

Prior to the start, I made a deal with myself to say a little prayer for a family member at each mile marker. I wanted to keep things in perspective and knew that the race would get tough (I was thinking at mile 11 not 2). Around the fourth mile marker, while reciting the prayer I realized how ridiculous I was being. Here I was doing something that I absolutely love and was making myself miserable over it. By letting myself obsess over this time goal, I wasn't having any fun. I wasn't thinking about the blessing it is to run. I wasn't thinking about how strong the body really is. I wasn't thinking anything other than horrible, dark, cob-webby thoughts.

So I stopped. Well, no I kept running, but I just stopped thinking about those things. I had fun. I crushed some intense (okay, for me) hills. I petted a horse (really, that isn't a weird euphemism). I joked with other runners. And sang some Michael Bolton at the top of my lungs. I haven't had that much fun on a course... maybe ever. It felt great.

After the half way point turnaround, I saw Andrew (we weren't running together) for a bit and said 'hey if we can, lets finish this together'. I slowed down and while my hip wasn't comfortable, after being on the roads for a few miles it started to feel okay. As much as I had actually wanted to race this course (run it in a way that you're really pushing yourself), running it was still a win for me.

A little before mile 10, the course looped itself back to the first 3 miles of trail running that then took you to the finish line. I looked at my watch and saw I could make my C goal (Goal A= PR, Goal B= beat my January race), but I also figured that Andrew couldn't be too much further behind. I texted him (oops...) and knew he was only a few minutes away. Now this is where I did probably the silliest thing I've ever done while racing. I stopped and waited on the course. Why not at least finish with my favorite running partner? I knew it was manageable for him to get a new PR and since I hadn't been pushing it, I had it in my legs to pace him in for that. So I just stopped and waited.

I felt absolutely ridiculous standing there on the side of the course. Some runners looked at me like I was delusional, some asked if I was okay, and some just tried to ignore the crazy lady who was cheering instead of running. Meeting up with Andrew was fantastic. He had been absolutely killing it and it was great to see him looking so strong. My idea to pace him to a PR was met with rolled eyes (rookie mistake to tell him the pace for the last 3 miles he needed to maintain), but it was nice finishing the race together. I turned off my watch at 11 and just followed his lead until the end. 

So on paper the race was the slowest I've ever run (other than a trail run that covered 1600 feet elevation), but in reality it was a blast. The course was beautiful, the weather was perfect, and the free wine at the end was definitely motivating.

And back to the PR. 1) I know no one other than me cares. 2) I hope that the next time I go all out for a new PR, I don't obsess like I did this year. Lets face it, I'm not even kinda fast when I'm going all out. 3) I don't know when (if ever) I will beat my PR. In 2010, I ran my first (and fastest) half in 1:55. That is 6 years ago. In the past 6 years, I've lived in 3 states/ time zones, graduated college, graduated with my MBA and MFA, had my first adult job, got engaged, ran a full marathon, married my best friend, bought our first house, and all the other mini-moments that make up the days. Maybe someday it will happen, maybe it will never happen. In the long run (get it), that doesn't matter. I'm thankful for this race and hopefully many more to come to remind me of that.

Back to foam rolling and googling hip injuries until my doctors appointment,

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Race Week Ramblings

This weekend, I'll be lacing up my sneakers and headed out on another half marathon. I'm really excited for this race...'s end-  a winery. I've done a pretty good job training with a couple set back recently due to my mystery hip pain that just isn't going away. I need to go see a doctor about it, but am trying to rest on it as much as possible this week and see if I can run on Saturday. I did an easy peasy 3 miles on Monday night and felt great, but a recent interval workout made waking up the next morning feel like death. So my goal for the weekend is to survive and hopefully feel somewhere in between. 

Since Race Week brings a lot of extra time while I'm trying to fill the time I've been going a little overboard with the carbo loading. I generally do a pretty terrible job fueling before race day. One time I ate a churro for dinner the night before a race... and had no breakfast. Another time I drank 3 beers and ate something fried (and delicious) with zero nutritional value. And another time I ate so many handfuls of gummy bears during a race that they congealed in my stomach and created a massive blob that moved up and down in my belly like a bowling ball. So.... I hope this makes you feel better about your own nutrition. 

But back to carbo loading.... We generally don't eat a lot of pasta around here. Actually, we pretty much never it eat. However, I recently just got a hankering for all Italian all the time and have a couple awesome recipes to share. 

Gnocchi With Pomodoro Sauce |
So good. Try it. Love it. Make me some. I would recommend using less cheese than the recipe calls for. I roasted some broccoli for a side dish and it was incredibly satisfying. Oh, and add lots of red pepper for a nice kick.

You don't even have to boil the pasta with this easy Dump-and-Bake Meatball Casserole!
I won't lie. I found this recipe because I had a bag of frozen meatballs that sat in my freezer for an embarrassingly long time. I didn't want to buy a million ingredients and I waned a lazy meal. It checked all those boxes and more. I add a bunch of fresh herbs, onions, and good Parmesan (but less than the recipe called for) and paired it with brussel sprouts. Easy, filling, and delicious. 

I will start switching to boring foods that are easy on the stomach in a couple days, but any pasta recs before then? I'd love to stare longingly at another tomato/cheesy/delight.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Cal: A Year

Cal turned one yesterday. Big news in our house. A whole year. Yes, we went and got him a new toy for his birthday. It was one of the cheapest ones we could find, but the occasion needed to be marked. When he joined our family he could literally fit in one hand and now... oh, okay, he is still pretty small. 

Andrew and I (who, am I kidding- just me) were reflective the other day about all the Cal things that have happened over the last year. Some good (cutest damn dog ever), some not so good (remember the gardening incident of 2015), and all the rest of the times that we have been high fiv-ing each other on our ability to keep something living for a whole year. Side note: Cal was not the biggest threat to our plants' survival.

The first year- these are my thoughts:

1) Puppies are a lot of work. Every child who wanted a pet has heard this on repeat from their mother, but she is right. They need to pee and they need to eat and they need to sleep in the bed with-- okay, I think you get the gist. 

2) Weiner dogs have a damn mind of their own. Yes, you may teach them how to sit, but it's a 50/50 shot whether they will actually do that trick at any given moment. And the chances become slim to none of them doing it when you are trying to show off your incredible dog handling skills.

3) They also have an A+ ability to purposefully ignore you. Shouting their name before they dive head first to a newly deposited... present on a walk will likely result in them tilting their head, snickering to them self, and then eating all the shit in sight. Or just try waking them from a slumber, no way no how. Apparently Andrew and I are Houdini to Cal; we disappear at his will. 

3) Pups are also like the alarm clock that you never wish you had. I mean this in a couple different ways. The first is... well try sleeping in late with a puppy chewing on your hair. You wake up when they want you too. The second is far worse. Just as you are drifting off to sleep all tucked in for a solid, dreamy 8 hours, your four-legged friend howls. He gets up, lets out a blood curling bark, and proceeds to growl and whine at the closed and locked door. All the sudden that thoughtless sleep becomes an impossibility. The dog has decided you have a home intruder. This imaginary intruder will come, will get you, will ONLY be scared away with incessent barking. Upon groggily waking up, frantically shushing him, and letting the wild hound out into the house to find said intruder, they will look at you and with a knowing smile decide all is well in the world... in fact, they decide it is now bed time. 

4) Even with the bad puppy parenting noted above, I don't even know if its possible to love him more.


Friday, April 1, 2016

Happy April Fools!

Last year on April Fools Day, we started shouting it from the mountain tops that we would be moving to Texas! This year on April Fools Day, we announce... well nothing. With a whirlwind of a year, I'm so excited for fewer moving boxes, less puppy potty training, and more of whatever next adventure is to come.Even with all the ups and downs (house hunting... I'm looking at you), this year has been full of laughter (and pinot grigio). I don't have anything particularly meaningful to say other than... THANK GOODNESS WE ARE NOT MOVING AGAIN.

With the spirit of laughter in mind... I leave with you the April Fools Day tricks that made me chuckle. As always, thank you Buzzfeed.

And these via Dose...

Happy April Fools!