Favorite Places: Franklin Barbecue

 

Franklin Barbecue (Before)

 

Last weekend I went to Austin to try Franklin Barbecue, which is arguably the best barbecue in Texas. Which is a HUGE deal because if Texas is known for anything, it’s for cooking ridiculous amounts of brisket. Luckily our friend from Austin had been there before so he knew what to expect. But in case you’re in Austin and would like to try it out, here’s what you need to know:

 

  • Going to Franklin Barbecue is definitely an experience. It opens at 11 AM Tuesday-Sunday and closes after they’ve sold out of all of the meat they’ve smoked for the day. BUT it’s such a cult favorite in Austin that people start lining up at 7 or 8 in the morning — we got there at 8:15 on Sunday and the line was already into the parking lot. So if you like to spontaneously decide to pick up some barbecue, this isn’t the place to do it. (Luckily there are lots of other really good barbecue places in Austin to fulfill any sudden barbecue cravings.)

 

  • Come in a group. Since the lines are so long, it makes the experience much more fun if you go with friends. Plus, that way you can send one or two people to go pick up some Starbucks and breakfast tacos to tide you over until lunch.
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That Time I Cried About Cake + Other News

My Favorite Cookie Cutters

 

The past two weeks have been such a whirlwind! Teddy and I applied and were approved for a new apartment, which we’re so so SO excited about! And we have fun traveling plans coming up soon — a weekend trip to Austin to try Franklin Barbecue for the first time and a long weekend on the East coast for a friend’s wedding in June.

 

But while we have some really fun things going on, there’s been one big question mark that’s been hanging around in the background. I’ve been dealing with irregular periods for a few years now, but when it had been over 3 months since my last period, I knew there was something wrong. Now, countless calls to the doctor’s office, two appointments, and two blood tests later, I know that my hormone levels are seriously off, and that it’s probably PCOS. But it could be a thyroid condition. Or a benign brain tumor.

 

We’re waiting for the results of my last blood test, but for now we’re operating on the assumption that it’s PCOS. And since PCOS is a vicious cycle — weight gain messes with your hormones, which leads to irregular periods, and makes it harder to lose weight — I’ve had to make some big changes to how I cook and eat.

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On the Hunt

Wishlist

 

Earlier this week I talked about my goal to make smart purchases, so I thought I’d talk a little more about that. Capsule wardrobes are all the rage lately, and I’ve been really inspired by Caroline of Un-Fancy. While I haven’t quite taken the plunge yet, I am making baby steps. I’ve been adding unworn clothes to the donate pile and coming up with a wishlist of items that I can mix with what I already have.

 

So far it’s been really helpful to live with the holes in my closet for a while so I know exactly what I need, instead of shopping with a vague list. When I’m more prepared, I’m less likely to get distracted by something with florals or stripes (although let’s be real, it still happens). I’ve also been inspired by the Essential Pieces series from Camille Styles, so instead of picking up the first available option, I take my time looking for the shoes or clothing with the best fit and the best quality. This slower approach to shopping helps me find the perfect one — or at least as close to perfect as possible!

 

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April – June Goals

Photo courtesy of Death to Stock Photo
Photo courtesy of Death to Stock Photo

 

How are your New Years’ Resolutions going? I’ve been doing really well with some, and not so well with others. But I really like having these quarterly goals so I can check in with how my resolutions have been fitting into my life and which ones need tweaking.

 

Here are my “big” 2015 Resolutions:

 

  • Write everyday – I haven’t necessarily written every day, but I did finally start writing my novel and have made some definite progress, so I’m pretty happy with how this resolution has been going!
  • Keep a reading log – I fell into a reading slump a few weeks ago, but I made it to the library this weekend, so I’m excited to add some more titles to my log!
  • Be kinder to myself – I’ve been working on this one, but Teddy has definitely reminded me to be nicer to myself when I’m beating myself up over something. I really appreciate having someone to point out when I’m falling into bad habits!
  • Learn new things – I haven’t made any huge discoveries, but I have been experimenting in the kitchen pretty frequently lately, and I’ve really enjoyed it! I love adding new recipes to our list of favorites.

 

One thing I’m really proud of is that I’ve been eating healthier (generally) and I’ve been exercising 3-5 times a week. I didn’t make any express resolutions to exercise more, but I’ve been doing some POP Pilates online videos for beginners and I really like them! They’re so short that I can’t make excuses to not do them, but they’re still hard enough to kick my butt in just a few minutes. I also really like that I can do them in my own living room so that I don’t have to be embarrassed if I fall on my butt every now and then. I totally recommend them!

 

This year I really want to work on my health (I loved this post about having a healthy + strong 2015). I want to feel strong and healthy and more daring, so I can be more adventurous and active than I am now. My goal isn’t to look thinner — I’m hoping to look healthy and happy, and if I slim down a little in the process, great! I definitely won’t be complaining if I can fit into my old jeans from high school again!

 

Besides my health goals, when I was thinking about my goals April – June, the word “intentional” kept popping up. I want to build on all the hard work I’ve been putting in so far and push myself to make some more positive changes. I’m excited!

 

Here are my goals for Spring (April – June) 2015:

 

  • Be intentional about unplugging at night and on the weekends
  • Make thoughtful purchases – we’ve already been working on spending wisely, but since we have some trips and big purchases coming up soon (hellooo new bed!), I want to be really intentional with how I spend my money
  • Make dinner plans for the weekend (and stick to them instead of going out!)
  • Eat more seafood
  • Make hospitality and entertaining a priority

What about you? Do you have any goals you’re working towards?

 

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Apartment Hunting

DeathtoStock__Creative Community8
Photo courtesy of Death to Stock Photo

 

I alluded to some disappointing news in my last Weekend Thoughts post, and I decided I should share it in more detail here, especially since I’ve talked about it a few times on the blog.

 

Last week, Teddy and I found out that we probably wouldn’t be able to move into a new apartment until 2016. Since Teddy works in the energy industry and the price of oil has been unstable recently, a lot of oil companies are planning on starting layoffs soon. It looked like the best decision was to wait a few extra months to move, but it was a crushing realization, especially because I found out after a particularly crummy day. To say I was disappointed would be a massive understatement — if I’m being totally honest, I cried in a Five Guys’ parking lot for a good 20 minutes. Thank goodness we’d already cancelled our plans for that night due to feeling under the weather, because I would have been a total mess!

 

We kept talking about our options over the weekend, and we both realized how much we both really want to find a new apartment that will fit our lives better, and hopefully with fewer technical issues. So we decided to look around a little more, and we found some apartments that are a little farther away from my office, but they’d be cheaper and bigger, so that was really encouraging. We still won’t know for sure whether we’ll be moving or not for a month or two, but it’s way better than knowing for sure we won’t be moving.

 

It’s hard not knowing where we’ll be this summer, and I’m not too thrilled that we may still be living with a regurgitating bathtub* (yes you read that correctly), total lack of natural light, and stucco mustard-yellow walls. Honestly, thankfulness is hard when I’m scrubbing the bathtub for the third time in a week. But I really want to work on being content with where I am right now — and remembering that my apartment’s biggest flaws are mostly inconveniences. Teddy and I are hoping that waiting to move (or moving into a more affordable apartment) will help us pay off my college loans a little faster and save up for a second car, which would make it easier to live a little further away from work.

 

*Note on the regurgitating bathtub (if you get grossed out easily, feel free to skip this part!): from what we can tell, there’s no U-bend in the pipes leading away from our bathtub. So when our next door neighbor drains her bathwater, the water can’t drain properly, so it comes through the pipe into our bathtub. Thank goodness it’s not sewage, just some gross, metallic-y water that stains the bottom of the bathtub. It’s a huge pain, but I don’t think it’s a major health hazard, so it could definitely be worse!! FYI, if you ever visit an apartment and you notice that the inside of the porcelain bathtub is painted, run away! It means the owner tried to cover up a stain, and there really can’t be any good reason for a bathtub stain that’s so bad they decided to paint over it. Save yourself the pain!

 

This was more of a personal post, so I hope you enjoyed it even though it’s a little different than what I’ve been posting lately. Also, I hope there wasn’t TMI about the bathtub situation that totally grossed you out! I just wanted to include it because I wanted to be honest, and make it clear that there’s more going on than some ugly walls and lack of sunlight — because really, I would feel pretty lame complaining about an ugly paint color. I also think it’s kind of funny despite the grossness, and I really hope the bathtub and I can move past our frenemy relationship status.


I’d love to hear your stories about any ugly/ scary/ crappy apartments you’ve lived in! I feel like everyone has that one really hideous apartment that they talk about for years, so I’d love to commiserate over them!

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What’s in My Purse?

In my Purse final

 

I’m the type who always likes to feel prepared. And since I downsized from a Mary Poppins-style bag to a more manageable purse late last year, I’ve had to whittle down my list of “essentials” to the things I use most often. It’s so nice to able to walk around without a potential wrecking ball attached to my hip! And even though I’m on Instagram much more now that I don’t have room for a book, I think it’s totally worth it for how much lighter I feel now that I’m not weighed down with a million “necessities.” Here are the things that have earned a spot in my purse:

 

In my Purse final2

 

Purse: similar purses a and b, and a splurge

Art of Instruction Botanical Journal (I’ve been using this for my story notes, and I love it! Pretty & small enough to fit in my purse.)

Arrow Print Wallet (Big enough to fit everything I need without letting me hoard receipts for 2 years.)

Medicine pouch (actually a makeup bag inherited from my Grandma – similar and not so similar)

Little mini pill boxes (My Mom got some and let me have a couple, but I think most drug stores should have them.)

Nivea Creme Tin  (Great for dry winter skin, and the tin hasn’t opened in my purse once!)

Tide To Go pen (For all the times I’m wearing white and inevitably spill something.)

Hand Sanitizer  (I’ve been stuck in one too many gross gas station bathrooms on road trips, and I refuse to go on a long trip without hand sanitizer)

Isabel Talsma business card (from card I ordered for a friend’s birthday)

Burt’s Bees Vanilla Bean Moisturizing Lip Balm (Winter means I need chapstick all the time.)

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Lovers Coral (Fun orangey-pink color.)

NARS Lipstick in Scarlet Empress (My current favorite lipstick – it’s great as a berry stain.)

 

Not pictured:

My phone (which was taking the picture)

Keys

Loose Bobby pins + an extra hair tie

(Really old) SD card I accidentally stole from Mom & Dad over Christmas

Rubber band I meant to give to Tonks

 

I’ve been really inspired by Meredith’s Inspiring Items series, and I wanted to try my hand at some styled photos. It’s a fun excuse to work on my iPhone photography and do something creative just because. I’m not sure how successful I was in working around the weird lighting in my apartment, but this was still really fun! Hopefully I’ll be able to do more of these soon!

 

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Weekend Thoughts: My Imaginary Apartment

It’s been a while since I did a Weekend Thouhts post, so since Teddy and I are planning on moving to a new apartment building in a few months, I thought I’d talk about our hunt so far. (Partially because I’ve been all about decorating my imaginary apartment lately.) I don’t have much decorating experience, so I’ve been gathering as much inspiration as I can.

 

Weekend Makeover - Emily Henderson

 

Looking through my Dream House Pinterest board, a few trends pop up: bright and airy rooms, lots of white, black, and blue with pops of pink or yellow, fluffy textures like blankets, pillows, and sheepskin, and some Mid-Century furniture. So obviously this weekend makeover by Emily Henderson is right up my alley. It’s funny because my wedding colors were navy blue and blush pink, and if these photos are any indication, I’m still really drawn to that color palette.

 

Blue + Pink Color scheme
Sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

 

We went on our first apartment tour today, and the apartments were beautiful. Teddy and I were ready to move in tomorrow, but we realized that since the layouts are way different than our current apartment, we might have to get creative with our furniture arrangement. I have a feeling this guide to creating a design plan will be really helpful for visualizing the best way to arrange our furniture (and that I’ll be thanking my lucky stars that Teddy is better at spacial visualization than I am!).

 

Source 1 / 2 / 3
Sources: 1 / 2 / 3

 

The thing I’m probably most excited about is the chance to finally get a new bed to replace the one I’ve had for years and years. It was already really creaky from my brothers taking running leaps onto it over the years, but then disaster struck the night before my wedding. All of my bridesmaids and other girlfriends were sitting on one corner of the bed when suddenly the leg completely collapsed, sending them all sliding to the floor. I wish I was in the room then, because I would have loved to see that! I asked my Dad to try to fix it, but I was ready to put the mattress on the floor if it wasn’t a quick fix — my Dad, however, had other ideas. Half an hour, 5 tools, and one exhaustion-fueled meltdown later, my Dad had fixed the bed temporarily, but I was too tired and frustrated to appreciate it. (If you’re reading this, thanks for saving the day, Dad! Although next time let’s not try to take my bed apart after midnight!) We found out after the move that the leg is still weak, so it’s currently being supported by a big stack of books so it doesn’t collapse underneath us in the middle of the night. So clearly we need a new bed!

 

We’ve been window shopping for beds at Crate & Barrel (where the nice lady gave me the catalog to make notes in – such a great idea!) and I’ve been intrigued by some of the upholstered bed frames they have. Unfortunately, my cat has already shredded the box spring on the bed we have now, so I think an upholstered bed would be a really bad idea. I’ve noticed that a lot of the bed frames are really tall — is that a thing? I’m not a big fan of them, honestly.

 

What about you guys? Have you been doing any big decorating or renovating projects lately? If there are any design aficionados out there with some advice about decorating for small spaces I am all ears! Whether you’re tackling a big house project or having a quiet day at home, I hope you have a great weekend!

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Input/ Output

Have you ever heard of having creative input and output days? I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately– especially since I’ve been trying to remember where I first read about them. It’s really bugging me that I can’t think of it, but I am still really excited by the idea! The past two weeks have definitely been more focused on input more than output, and while I love inspiration days, I think I’ve gotten a little stuck. I totally agree with Abbigail in her post about why she writes — when I haven’t been writing or “outputting” enough I feel mentally sluggish and frustrated, so I’m hoping that next week will be more focused on output.

 

Input Day

 

1. Emily Henderson’s Materials Girl #5: I’ve been reading Style by Emily Henderson religiously so I can soak up all the interior design advice I can, since decorating isn’t exactly my strong suit. I’m basically going to do my best to copy her entire house in my new apartment. But not in a weird way, obviously. I thought the mix of colors and pattern in her latest Materials Girl post seems like a grown-up, livable version of my wedding colors, which I kind of love.

2. Lettering Set by Noel Shiveley and Alex McDonell, via Kelly Purkey’s Five on Friday: I think I need this quote written above my desk or tattooed on my forehead. It’s something I need to hear every time I start over analyzing my writing, work, life choices, outfit…

3. SMP Living’s Behind the Scenes with Britt Bass Turner: I loved everything about this post– I love Britt Bass Turner’s art and reading her thoughts on her art and career was really encouraging and inspiring. If I lived in Atlanta I would definitely sign up for the next Studio Session!

4. The EveryGirl’s Rebecca Atwood Career Profile: Another really inspiring career profile, but this time with textile designer Rebecca Atwood. I have a whole new appreciation whenever I walk into a store and see how much work went into the textiles for upholstery, towels, clothing, etc. I’m definitely inspired to play with pattern and colors, both in clothing and decorating.

5. The Effortless Chic’s California Dreaming: It’s so funny to me how much pink there is in this photoset, because I don’t wear much pink. But I LOVE that pink backdrop! I also really like her sweater and the reasons she loves LA. It definitely makes me think of all my favorite places in my hometown, and inspires me to do more exploring in Houston.

6. 100 Layer Cakelet’s Lucy Roux’s Favorite Things First Birthday: Is it weird that I’m a little jealous of this birthday party? It’s so darn cute, and I love that the theme was based on her favorite things. I also LOVE the calligraphy and the illustrations used to decorate the cookies. So. Cute.

7. Design Love Fest’s Dress Your Tech: I’m pretty sure that the Dress Your Tech series is the coolest idea. I think it’s so great that Bri posts desktop backgrounds by different illustrators and graphic designers every week. I love this desktop background by Elizabeth Doyle, and it’s making my desk top extra pretty.

8. The Tomkat Studio’s Calligraphy Eat Cake Balloons: So the pink balloons + calligraphy are so cute that I couldn’t resist including them. I’m not sure if it’s a reference to Julia Child’s famous quote about cake, but I like to think it is.

9. The Vanilla Bean Blog’s Buttermilk Cake with Blood Orange Frosting: There are so many great things about this post! The cake recipe looks delicious, and since it’s blood orange season and they’re Teddy’s favorite, I think I’ll definitely have to make this soon. Also, Sarah announced that she’s writing a cookbook, which is so exciting! And I loved that she mentioned the Nancy Drew/ Narnia/ Sweet Valley mashup stories she wrote in middle school, because that sounds a lot like the stories I’d write when I was 11 or 12, and I would have definitely loved her stories back then.

10. Have you ever seen The IT Crowd? It’s a hilarious British TV show (that’s on Netflix, in case you’re curious). Moss is my favorite character, and this is one of my favorite quotes. Sometimes you have to rely on your weirdness and sweet sense of style.

 

Most of these aren’t writing-related, but I’m just going with it. Here’s to having a good balance of input and output days!

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Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day Ideas
{Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7}
I’ve secretly always liked Valentine’s Day, even though we’ve had a bumpy relationship in the past. Looking back over the years is both amusing and embarrassing.
  • 8 years old: wondering if the roses on Zeb’s Valentine meant he liked me.
  • 9 years old: my Mom always gave us candy, a card, and a small toy before school every year on Valentine’s Day. My favorite was the stuffed animal schnauzer like our dog Henry.
  • 16 years old: My high school let you order carnations, which lead to a crisis about which color to pick – if you bought a red flower for a boy, everyone would think you liked him, but white was “too boring.” So on Valentine’s Day everyone got pink carnations. I loved that all the girls bought each other flowers, although finding out that Mrs. Sattler was your “secret admirer” was always disappointing (no one wants a pity Valentine, especially from your teacher).
  • 20 years old: Sophomore year of college, stuck in a dorm room with Lisa’s heart decorations on every surface, and Karen who HATES hearts. Also, Karen mentioned that Teddy, the guy I’m not-quite-officially-dating, is getting me something, so I should get him a present too. Cut to a desperate last minute Walmart dash trying to find the right gift for my not-quite-boyfriend.
  • 22 years old: Gift-buying panic mode because I have 7 birthdays around Valentine’s Day; two sister-in-laws, my mother-in-law, two college roommates, Teddy, and me. And I’m still recovering from Christmas gift shopping… And it’s our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple! Oi…
In the past it’s been really easy for Valentine’s Day to either feel overwhelmed by the barrage of pink and red (which also happens to remind me that I’m single), or an unspoken pressure to have a “perfect” romantic celebration. And honestly, I think that takes all the fun out of what should be a fun, kind of goofy holiday. I think that Valentine’s Day is really what you make of it. Mad at your ex? Grab some Nutella and a friend and watch John Tucker Must Die. Single and tired of all the hoopla? Invite your girlfriends over and bake some salted caramel brownies (and scoop up all the discounted candy on February 15). Too tired to get all dolled up to go to a hectic restaurant? Have a cozy date night in with some pretty grocery store flowers, a fun pink cocktail and your comfiest pjs.
Personally, I’m hoping for a date night in with This Means War, something spicy, and something chocolaty. What about you? Do you have any fun plans for Valentine’s Day? Do you love it or hate it?
 Treat Yo'self Flowers
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My 2015 Resolutions

I’m a day late and a dollar short on this one, but hey, let’s talk New Years’ Resolutions!

Historically my attempts at New Years’ Resolutions have been half-hearted at best. I always picked the typical resolutions: eat healthier, exercise more, go to bed earlier. They were boring and vague, and if I slipped up I felt like a failure, and wasn’t motivated to keep going. I definitely wasn’t setting myself up for success.

 

New year, new notebooks

 

I’m not sure what makes this year different (Maybe it’s my new notebooks?), but I’m really excited for the fresh start! I read about other bloggers’ process for picking New Years’ Resolutions: specific, realistic goals that don’t take themselves too seriously. One of my favorite ideas was from Elsie Larson’s Four Simple Goals… Before 2014. She recommends making goals that will enhance your life, which I think is great because you’re more likely to succeed when you’re not trying to change everything about you. I also loved the idea of making yearly and seasonal goals, so I have short-term goals as well as my big resolutions for the year. Plus, I can make some new resolutions in 2 or 3 months if I get bored or think of something new to work on. It’s the best of both worlds!

 

Here are my “big” resolutions for 2015:

  • Write everyday
  • Keep a reading log
  • Be kinder to myself
  • Learn new things

 

I didn’t officially pick a word for 2015, but “practice” might be my unofficial word of the year. Spoiler alert: I am really bad at keeping up with routines. So this year I really want to work on adding little habits that will build a practice of writing and reading… that doesn’t require becoming a morning person overnight. I’m already making good headway on my reading and writing, and I’m excited to explore them more as the year goes on!

 

While I definitely wanted to make goals that will stretch myself, I also want to be kinder to myself this year. Anxiety runs in my family, and while I haven’t been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, I have noticed an increase in anxious tendencies since I’ve entered my twenties. I also can have really unrealistic expectations of myself, so this year I’m going to work on self-care and being kind to myself.

 

One way I want to be kinder to myself is by resolving to learn new things, which actually gives me permission to not know things. Sometimes I feel disappointed in myself if I have to ask for help when I don’t know something I “should” know (see aforementioned unrealistic expectations of myself). So this year I’m going to work on looking at things I don’t know as a chance to learn something new. Another bonus about this resolution is that it gives me a great excuse to experiment just because. It’s a win-win!

 

I am so inspired by these big resolutions! They’re just small shifts in my thinking process that I think will make a huge impact, and I couldn’t be more excited!

 

Winter 2015 Resolutions:

  • Eat a fruit or veggie with every meal/ snack
  • Eat less refined sugar
  • Organize my closet
  • Read a new-to-me fantasy series
  • Read some nonfiction
  • Multitask/ procrastinate less

 

These resolutions might sound like the “eat better, exercise more” resolutions, but I like them because they’re small, concrete things I can add to the things I already do. Instead of trying to eat a salad for every meal or eating no sugar at all, I can eat some extra fruits and veggies at lunch, and eat a little bit of chocolate when the chocolate cravings hit. The other resolutions may turn out to be a little overly ambitious, but if I don’t accomplish everything on this list I’m going to take a note from Erin of Reading My Tea Leaves – Don’t sweat the deadlines. My resolutions are written down, so even if I don’t start right away or find myself eating cereal for dinner, my resolutions will still be there. And I can always try again tomorrow.

 

Here are some of my favorite resolutions from other bloggers:

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