January 25, 2015

Weekend Happenings

I totally get the whole Sunday Funday phenomenon. The last day of the weekend is the worst.

I do love weekends though, and this one was just fine.

Friday night we met a friend of ours for a quick bite to eat before headed to see American Sniper. Our pre-movie ritual always involves sitting at the bar at American Pie pizza right near the theater - not sure when we started but a trip to the movies never feels the same without that pizza.

After the movie we met up with more friends at Big Orange for their Reverse Happy Hour. We were home earlier than the rest of the crowd but it made for a very lazy Saturday.

Literally - we ventured out for lunch and dinner but never made it out of our sweat pants. It was awesome.

Sunday, however, we had regained our energy and got a lot done. We started out with margaritas and a spiced pear collin at one of our favorite spots - The Fold.

I'm still not sure if I'm a gin-fan but this drink was really delicious. EH got the blood orange margarita which I know from experience is really tasty as well.

There was also cheese dip with bison. A bit runny but flavor was good.

I went with the Migas with extra sour cream.

EH went for the beef tenderloin tamales - which he reports were really good.

The rest of the day was spent grocery shopping, finally taking down Christmas lights, laundry and the Screen Actor Guild Awards. Which, fashion wise was underwhelming and not too terribly exciting since we haven't seen half of what was nominated. Woops!

Hope you had a great weekend as well and here's to the countdown to the next one!

January 20, 2015

A Few Favorite Reads

I've always been an avid reader. While I don't recall my first book ever, I do have a list of books that I can read over and over again.

1 // A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

This novel follows the lifetime of Francie Nolan in the early 1900's. Reading this book puts me exactly in Francie's shoes - to the point I can perfectly visualize sitting on a wrought-iron balcony with the sun on your face. It's on my bucket list to find a first edition - I have a 9th edition that has the original owner's name stamped in it which is still pretty great.

A small teaser from the beginning:

"There's a tree that grows in Brooklyn. Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed falls, it makes a tree which struggles to reach the sky. It grows up in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps. It grows up out of cellar gratings. It is the only tree that grows out of cement. It grows lushly...survives without sun, water, and seemingly without earth. It would be considered beautiful except that there are too many of it."

I'm a sucker for a great quote.

2// The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

This became a repeat read sort of on accident. I had borrowed a hard back version from a friend years ago when it first came out. When I was gifted my kindle years later I one day downloaded it. A few chapters in it felt oddly familiar and it took awhile to realize I had read it before! This story is just as compelling the second time around though. Autobiographical, it follows Jeanette Walls from her childhood with an unconventional nomadic type family until she finds the resources to make something of herself. Her unwavering attitude towards her family explores the complexity of love and relatives.

3 // The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

A fictional account of Hadley Richardson - Ernest Hemingway's first wife. I have a mild obsession with all things from the 1920's - F. Scott Fitzgerald being my favorite author - and this book is not only a glimpse into the daily life of Ernest and Hadley Hemingway, but an insight into the lifestyle of these famous authors during the time they were first experiencing any sort of fame. And just as importantly, a snapshot of what it was like for the women who both and inspired and put up with them. 

4 // The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Since the mandatory reading of this book in high school, I have pretty much been in love. I really don't have much else to say except I hope you have read it!

And I'll round out my list with a book that I have only started but I feel like could fit in with this list already.

5 // Serena by Ron Rash

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

I'm only on Chapter Four but I already love the style of this author's writing. Set in the 1930's - it follows newlyweds Serena and George Pemberton as they try to build a timber empire. I have avoided much more of the synopsis but I can tell it's going to be good. And I believe there is already a film adaptation with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, so for that reason alone I know it is a must read.

What are your favorite repeat reads? I'd love to hear about them!

January 19, 2015

Opening Day at the Races

Hot Springs holds a very special place in my heart. I used to go with my family on fun day trips; since dating EH we have spent several weekends every summer going out on the lake; horse races, Valentine's weekends, and easily greatest of all - we were married there!

So with warmed up weather, we headed to our favorite spot again for Opening Weekend at Oaklawn Gaming and Racing.

Lake Hamilton is beautiful no matter what time of year. 

The weather was perfect for Opening Day. Sunny, 65 and very little wind. 

"Orange Thing" in hand, we all headed off. Parking is usually found in neighboring home's driveways at $20 for the day. After a bit of walking, you enter through the unassuming North Entrance - where admission is free!

We make it a habit to arrive well before the first race takes off - this gives you time to check out your program to make your selections and hit up the new Beer Garden where the offerings are a bit better than your typical Bud or Miller Light. Though the prices are the same.

The Beer Garden is one of many smoking areas throughout the track, though the bathroom lines are usually nonexistent compared to other areas. But their beer selection (or mimosa, bloody mary and the like) makes up for it. Plus shorter lines all around.

We spent the next several hours pouring over our programs and eavesdropping from other racing enthusiasts around us. While my in-law's study and use actual reasoning when picking their horses, I tend to gravitate towards a name I connect with. Or a grey horse. Or sometimes just a feeling.

Which paid off on the 2nd race! I bet the #2 to WPS on a whim, had to be walked through placing my bet by strangers, and ended up he won! So thank you #YankeeDime for tripling my bet. Sorry I ended up wasting it all at the casino.

One thing you have to do while at the races is treat yourself to a Reuben sandwich. They are to die for.

Also, get yourself lost in the Bronx region of the track - some weird 2nd floor bar area that is ridiculously less crowded but also a mystery. None of our group had ever seen this area before and we weren't quite sure how we got there. Or out.

I thought I had taken a better picture but maybe that's just the mystique of this strange area. The beer was .50 cents cheaper. I swore mine had the faint taste of bananas.

After a trip to check out the new extended casino, we headed back to the lake house to cook dinner and hang out.

Onion and shrimp stuffed peppers wrapped in bacon.

Vegetable medley and salad.

Steak. Lots of steak.

Wine and Whiskey. Lots of that too.

I love these weekends - everyone over eats and over indulges and there is so much laughter and fun.

Moose enjoys the scenic views the most.

That was our weekend! And we've already conquered Monday so this week is off to a victorious start.

January 15, 2015

A Few New Favorite Things

Though I'm on a bit of a spending freeze now (just ignore that $20 receipt for sushi over there..), I thought I would share a few products I have tried over the past few months that I have really liked. Hopefully there is a little bit of something on here for everyone!

1 // Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer - I have long been a fan of Smashbox primers. I'm pretty lucky that for the most part I stay blemish free, but my skin gets really oily and shiny. I've normally used the clear color Photo Finish primer which has a super soft, silky feel. After a friend suggested this though I decided to try it out. It doesn't have near as nice a texture as some of the other variations, but I definitely notice a difference in how my makeup stands up throughout the day. Even after applying my makeup at 7 in the morning, it lasts well into the night - which is great when you need that work to after hours transition!

2 // Yeti Ramblers - I first heard of these through work and I balked at the idea of a $35 tumbler. $35! For a stainless steel tumbler! But let me tell you what - these things are awesome. The perfect gift for the person who has everything. EH and I both received one for Christmas and they are awesome. EH made a whiskey drink in his around 8pm one night and the next afternoon it still had perfectly formed ice cubes and was barely watered down. Insane!

3 // eos Honeysuckle Lip Balm - No matter how hydrated I keep myself, my lips are perpetually dry and chapped, to the point of pain in the winter. I usually stick with good ole' Vaseline but I'm a sucker for a honeysuckle scent. This lip balm is light enough that it doesn't feel greasy, and the smell is awesome.

4 // Yeti Hopper - At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Yeti really knows how to make their stuff. I got this for EH as a YAY You Passed the PE/Christmas gift and he's still bragging about this thing. A ton easier to carry around than their hard cooler and it still holds the same amount of beer beverages. A small investment, but it comes with a guarantee!

5 // Hide a Squirrel Squeak Toy - This one's for the Dogs. Santa Paws brought this for Moose and I think it's officially approved. Though I'm almost positive these are chipmunks. Amp up your dog's agility, or watch them frustrate themselves until they pick up the entire toy and just carry it around.

6 // Blanket Scarf - I know I'm a bagillion days behind the super cool bloggers, but man do I love this thing. I ordered mine from Brina Box (two actually!) and they're just so convenient and pretty. I use one as a literal blanket in the mornings until my car heats up. EH goes the budget route and uses the living room throw.

Any new products you've found? Let me live vicariously through you as my spending freeze continues.

January 12, 2015

Conquering Mondays

Oh, Mondays. They're difficult enough on their own but they are even worse when the entire day just doesn't go very well.

But it's almost over and the rest of the week always looks up from here. So I'll start and end with the one real sad thing weighing on my mind today. 

My Granny passed away late last Thursday. It was a long battle that we knew was drawing to a close but it doesn't really minimize the pain I think we all feel. Her Funeral was today and it's been hard to think of too much else. I wish I could have been there.

That's my MeMa (My Mom's Mom) on the left in the blue and Granny (My Dad's Mom) on the right, in her kitchen down in Glen Rose, Texas. This would have been 1987 I believe - right after my Mom and Dad's wedding. 

This picture has been on my fridge for years. I just love looking at it. Her kitchen never changed from this photo as far as my memory serves. And I now know where my love of mini cherry cheesecakes must have come from.

My Granny was so many wonderful things and there are so many fun memories I attribute to spending time on her land and in her company - watching hummingbirds from her front porch swing, seeing what felt like thousands of shooting stars from the pasture where no lights encumbered your view. Learning about leeches and catching toads with my brothers. Lots of hide and seek. Go cart rides out to see hay bales and checking for foxes. Cattle guards and collecting peacock feathers. Dinosaur footprints. (How funny, it appears they've fenced them in.)

She was my last Grandparent. My memories are so story book. It's been a sad day.

January 11, 2015

Weekend Happenings

I can't believe we're already facing another work week! We need to start campaigning for a longer weekend I think.

On Friday EH and I took it super easy - ordered in pizza and salads and watched whatever movie came on HBO. I really enjoy our lazy nights at home - where you come home and put comfies on and just hang out. 

Saturday we woke up and grabbed turkey salad sandwiches from Burge's - if you're local and you haven't tried - please go! Though I don't think I've met a Little Rock native who hasn't tried it yet.

While EH and his friends went on an afternoon duck hunt, I finally made it out to Home Goods and picked up some new picture frames and a fun new box. I've been wanting to slowly obtain more gold items for our guest room and these frames were just what I had in mind!

After the guys got home and cleaned up, we headed to my new favorite sushi spot - Kemuri's

Kemuri deserves it's own post entirely so look for that but just know it was delicious. The wine was great too.

Apart from grabbing lunch and restocking on deodorant from Target, we've stayed cuddled under blankets (or in Moose's case - a towel) during the cold and rainy Sunday. 

Only 5 days left until the next weekend! 

January 4, 2015

Fashionably Late for 2015

Well hello! Happy 2015! I hope everyone had a Merry Holiday and a wonderful start to the New Year.

It's been a crazy couple of months but we've rounded out the Holidays with several days of much needed rest (i.e. being completely lazy) and I feel like my batteries are recharged and I'm ready to take on 2015.

Here's what we've been up to in the mean time:

We made our annual trip to Paul Michael's - where along with new Christmas baubles, we rode a giant rooster. 

 Paul Michael Company is where I also inherited these sweet foxes. Since EH won't budge on a second dog, I suppose I'll just have to pretend. 

December was full of Christmas Parties which are always good and fun but the pinnacle of events was seeing Garth Brooks live. A concert where I had so much fun that I both teared up, got in trouble by Security for dancing in the aisle, and danced and sang my little heart out until I lost my voice. Hence the lack of pictures!

Jury is out still if my hair was oddly lumpy up top or if someone was standing behind me but regardless - I wore a sequin maxi skirt, danced and sang my heart out and had the time of my life. Hair style be damned!

Gearing up for the Holidays, I rallied to keep two Christmas trees in the living room. Something about symmetry just soothes my soul.

I lost this one but maybe one day - who can resist twinkling lights? What we ended up with was pretty spectacular though so my disappointment was short lived.

I did win on scoring a larger tree this year - which was all thanks to a very kind and generous Target manager. The story is very sweet in my mind but probably boring to anyone else so I will spare you. Just trust that there are still very helpful and kind people out there, even over the most trivial of things.

Before I forget, we also attended an event to benefit the Arts Center from EH's hometown - great food, drinks, live auction and bonus! Sequins were encouraged.

With all of the cheer and excitement from the Holiday season, there was still a lingering cloud above our heads. EH took his Professional Engineer exam back in October - anyone remember? I certainly do. Hours each night studying and just stresses all around. Well, I'm ecstatic to say - HE PASSED! As I knew he would because EH is the most wicked smart person I know. But to say we weren't both extremely relieved would be an understatement.

We celebrated several times but my favorite were drinks at the Pantry Crest - where the food is not only delectable but the drinks are a work of art:

We also celebrated with Moose cuddles - because without him I don't think either of us would have made it through the long months of studying and worrying.

It all deserves an entire post of it's own, but EH is as humble as he is smart so I'll leave it mixed in with these random updates. I'm so proud of him - though never a doubt in my mind, it's so inspiring to have known this guy since before he even thought about Engineering, to have passed all the initial exams, landed a great gig with an awesome company, and now he has the stamp to prove it. And he's so handsome! Lucky girl right here. 

After all of that excitement, I really didn't think I could be any higher until Christmas came. Which brought Santa!

A very convincing Santa Claus, and just my type - though he did seem to prefer Miller which was disappointing.

The guy to the right was just as excited as Santa after a long day of ...making toys? Who knows what this Santa was really up to.

He did make time to stop by our house Christmas morning though. 

Since then it's been a whirlwind of parties, duck hunting, Harry Potter movie marathons, taking it easy and getting the house back in order. 

It's still too early to call, but 2015 has been pretty terrific and I have a feeling that the rest of the year will be the same.