Monday, May 16, 2016

How to Party Plan Like a Pro // If You Feed Them, They Will Come

I just love random, little holidays...such as Cinco de Mayo! It is actually surprisingly difficult to decorate for without buying a million aztecy/southwesterny printed things. But I found a couple of bright and colorful Cinco de Mayo weddings and that game me a little inspiration.



So, the central goal of this party was to feed people. Being that there was a large group...and it needed to be Mexican food of some sort, I opted to make "carnitas" and give people the option to do nachos or tacos. My friend Blair (co-worker, marathon runner, expert dinner-maker) had made this delectable spicy shredded pork for me before, so I knew that's what I had to do. Unfortunately, mine didn't turn out as good. Her's was soooo flavorful and mine was like, eh. So, my recommendation for this recipe is to go crazy on the rub - you can't have too much.  



Then I set up all kinds of toppings: cilantro, sour cream, queso fresco, jalapenos, limes and salas, as well as some queso dip going on in the mini crockpot. People said nice things about it, but like I said...I was disappointed with the pork.



 And in the other ring! I had my Uncle Steve's famous margaritas going on. They were hit and super easy to make and manage. Along with the blending station were limes, sweet/sour salt and little lime drink markers I doodles and printed.

Uncle Steve's Marg Mix

Ingredients:

  • 1 can - frozen lime concentrate
  • 3/4 can - tequila
  • 1/4 can - triple sec
  • 1 Tbsp - powdered sugar
  • Lots of ice  

 Directions for Marg Mix:

  1. Empty one can of frozen lime concentrate into a blender.
  2. Fill the same can from the concentrate 3/4 with tequila and add to blender.
  3. Fill the same can from the concentrate 1/4 with tripel sec and add to blender.
  4. Add 1 Tbsp powdered sugar and blend.
  5. **This can be made prior to and refrigerated until needed for marg making.
Directions for Margs:
  1. Fill the blender or Magic Bullet container 1/4 way with marg mix.
  2. Fill the rest of the container with ice.
  3. Blend and enjoy.




To better incorporate my wall gallery into the shenanigans, I doodled and printed little word bubbles of Cinco de Mayo puns...



I did a ton of prep work for this party (I basically only host parties to force myself to do the really deep house cleaning), but for once I was totally ready before the start time. So, I could actually enjoy a little quality marg time on the patio before any guests arrived.

Oh! And the invites! I doodles those too, so that's kind of fun...


Thursday, May 12, 2016

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Perhaps you recall the last time I made you read about my gardening endeavors? The grass was all patchy, nothing was growing, I was holding a hand cultivator* like a weapon? Anyway...spring came along with rain and warmer weather, and it's made QUITE an improvement!


Obviously, I have plans to plant something here...just not quite sure what yet. I'm hoping I can split off a little of something I already have, but we'll see. 


Look how much better the grass looks! Still a bit patchy, but it's a pretty shady spot...so I'm trying to be patient. 


I'm thinking once I lay mulch we can hide that gutter drain a bit better.  


Look at those little purple guys!



And the peony bush is about to take off...come on, little peony! You can do it!


Last year, these azaleas didn't even pretend like they were gonna bloom. Now look at them - peaking out bright and early to see what the spring's all about.

That's all I wanted to say really. Next steps are to fill in with more plants and mulch the place! It will look nice and neat once I've got the mulch in, but I'm trying to take this whole thing very slow and right now there's so much weed-plucking that I don't have the patience to put deal with mulch quite yet. Any garden wisdom? Advice for a novice? Mistakes I'm making?

*I had to look it up, but yeah...that's what it's called.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Memphis "Momsoon"

We usually brainstorm a family event hashtag prior to our leaving, but it wasn't until we were in the car with our first Instagram post primed and ready that we realized we didn't one! A little discussion was had and it was actually dad who came up with the clever pun of "Memphis Momsoon;" a play on the purpose of the trip (to celebrate mom a bit early for Mother's Day) and a tribute to the gloomy weather predicted during our stay (rain, rain and so much more rain). However, it was quickly brought to our attention that when combined and lower-capitalized in the standard hashtag formatting, the message might imply we would be having a Memphis Mom Soon! Not the case...to clarify.

We left Bolivar early Friday morning and, although it was pretty rainy, enjoyed the beautifully green, winding road to Memphis. I had been anticipating this trip for quite some time as I love Instagram captions that are lyrics and "Walking in Memphis," Marc Cohen is just TOO EASY. There had to be one silver lining to all this anticipated rain...and it was the first use of a "Walking in Memphis" lyric:

"Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues, in the middle of the pouring rain."

Upon hungrily arriving in Memphis, we voted to eat at this burger joint called Huey's in Midtown. The burgers were phenomenal, we all took one look at the long list of burger options and had our hearts set on what would ultimately be a uniquely great burger: Sunshine Burger (Mom and Bex), West Coast Burger (Dad), xxx Burger (Sam) and Bluff City Burger (Kait, pictured below).



So, the rain put a bit of a damper on our plans. Initially we had planned to eat at Dixon Gallery & Garden where food trucks would be gathered. Instead we lucked out on Huey's, grabbed a picture at a mural nearby and checked into the hotel for a quick snooze.



The nap was actually very necessary because the evening plans were to attend the Beale Street Music Festival. Another happy accident, because when we planned this shindig, we had no idea this was going on. It wasn't until a co-worker mentioned it was the same weekend that we even realized why it had been so dang hard to find a hotel. The festival wasn't actually on Beale Street, it was at a little park along the river - which was better. We saw Gin Blossoms / Trampled by Turtles (my favorite), Grace Potter / Panic at the Disco and Neil Young / Weezer. We had a great time and although it didn't actually rain while we were there, the early storms and high foot traffic made the park a dreadfully muddy mess.

Saturday morning, we woke up and ventured to a quirky little coffee place called Otherlands Coffee Bar. It was a good wake-me-up before our tour of Sun Studios. It was a cool experience, but definitely a one-time deal. The building is a snug little space with an upstairs room of memorabilia and a downstairs recording studio. Our tour guide was great, and it was fun to hear stories about some of the artists who recorded there. We even got to sing from the same spot and microphone where Elvis, Johnny Cash, BB King, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom Petty, Paul Simon and countless others had sang.



After the tour, we made our way to Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken...where the "line" consisted of about thirty people waiting around outside. Yikes. We put our name in and were told it would be about an hour wait. Luckily the restaurant was in a very walkable area, so we wandered around and took pictures before returning for a beer while we waited.



The chicken was delicious - maybe because we had never been hungrier in our lives? Or maybe because the spicy breading was just too good? Either way, we annihilated our food when it arrived.

After lunch, we popped into the Peabody Hotel to see the ducks. It was cute, but more suited to children than for our group. What was suited for our group was where we went next: Beale Street. Very cool vibe, as I'm sure you can image (or know). Being able to take your drinks into the street and between bars really just creates a whole new kind of atmosphere. Here, I claimed my second Instagram with a caption from "Walking in Memphis"...

"With my feet ten feet off of Beale."

We settled in at a place called Silky O'Sullivan's because, surprisingly, it was a BEAUTIFUL day and there's was the most clearly visible patio. Also, they let Sam (18-year-old) in until 8:00 p.m. It was the BEST. There was a live band who played fun covers and we ordered beer after local beer (Memphis Made Fireside, delightful). I think we were blinded by our happiness there in the Silky sunshine because we completely forgot to eat until it was too late! So, for dinner we popped next door to the closest BBQ we could find, Pig on Beale. It was pretty good - they had an interesting seasoning that wasn't really a rub, so much as add after the smoking process. We visited another bar after dinner before deciding we were tired and headed back to the hotel.

Sunday morning we toured the National Civil Rights Museum, which is built into the hotel where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. It was a very emotional museum experience, as you walked through the history of slavery in the United States. Definitely one of the better history museums I've been to.



Our final stop in Memphis was for brunch at the Arcade Restaurant - no Sam, there aren't any arcade games there. It was a classic, all-American breakfast and, damn, it was good. The menu was extremely limited (only seven or so items), but everything was reasonably priced and came with a side of biscuits and gravy, so no one complained. Then we loaded up and were back on the winding road home again. It was such a fun trip and I anticipate going back again! On the next trip, I want to be sure to...

1. Spend more time on Beale Street
2. Try a couple different BBQ joints
3. Tour Graceland
4. Wear my blue suede shoes

Until next time, see ya Memphis!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Oklahoma City was OK!

Actually, it was better than OK. It was great!

Because Blair is a girl after my own heart, we had scheduled two Outlook appointments prior to our trip to plan and revise the itinerary.



A little background...

Blair is a fellow Marketeer with me at JES Holdings. She moved to Columbia about two years ago when her husband started residency at Mizzou. She was born in raised in Oklahoma, just outside Oklahoma City, and I have never known a person to be more passionate, positive and dedicated to a state as she is to hers. So, for the last two years, I've listened to her rant and rave about how great Oklahoma is and tell stories of her friends and family there. Next thing I know, she's talked me into running the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and the plane tickets are already booked.

We left work a little early to take the 2:40 p.m. flight to Dallas, then Dallas to Oklahoma City where we landed at about 6:30 p.m. Her sweet mother picked us up and was a spitting image of the Blair I've come to know and love here in Columbia. Friday night we spend grilling and sitting around the bonfire in their beautiful backyard. This is Blair's favorite thing to do when she's home and I can definitely see why. Their family was kind and welcoming, I felt like I had been sitting around that firepit every Friday night for the last 25 years.


Saturday morning the Oklahoma City tour began. We drove into downtown and have breakfast at an adorable little place called Kitchen 324 near where Blair used to work. Then we walked down through the small city towards the expo center where we do out packet pick-up. Along the way, we toured/walked through the Devon building, Colcord Hotel and Myriad Gardens. The city was so clean and well maintained with beautiful landscaping and sculptures on every corner. The Myriad Gardens was a little park right off the city with delicate flowers, trees, walking paths and a small pond - so quaint! Our last stop downtown was the art festival. It was early and we had already eaten, so we just wandered through and looked around a bit before walking to the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial. As upsetting as it was to be here, I am so grateful we went. There is so much hype and excitement to running a marathon, but this particular race means so much more, not only to the individuals who were directly affected by the lives lost in the bombing, but to everyone in Oklahoma and in attendance this weekend. The memorial was beautiful and heartbreaking.


After our tour, we picked up our packets and headed over to Classen Curve for some shopping. Little did I know this strange word "Classen" would be my WORST NIGHTMARE by mile 22 of the following day's marathon. We got (matching) running tops from Lululemon and stocked up on Clif Blok Energy Chews in preparation for the run. For lunch we at Republic Gastropub...where we enjoyed painfully cool views of all the beers they had on tap, which we couldn't have pending the marathon. After lunch we popped over to Whole Foods (my first time) and bought Nana some flowers. We drove out of the city and into the suburb of Edmund, where Blair grew up. It was a cute little town and she had a story for every corner we passed.

When we arrived at Nana's house, we walked in to find her at the computer watching Purple Rain! She laughed at everything and sweetly asked all about our day, travels and on-goings back in Columbia. Being as that most of Blair's stories involve Nana, it was good to finally meet her.

A rest was much needed at this point in the day and we were ready to recover before a bit before gussying up to pop by a bridal shower her parents were helping to host. Here, at this party, I am fairly certain that I met everyone in Oklahoma. But we were in and out and off to dinner at Pizzeria Gusto where we allowed ourselves ONE beer and then headed home to bed.


We woke bright and early, got dressed, pinned on our numbers and had a filling breakfast before Blair's dad drove us off to the race. Although our timing for drop was perfectly planned...there were some unexpected road closing that resulted in our jogging three blocks to arrive at our corral as the first corral took off. We had plenty of time (about ten minutes) to recover as we walked along the other 25,000 people to the start line. And then we were off!

Here's a play-by-play...


Mile 1: Basically retraced our steps Saturday morning by the Devon building, Myriad Gardens and the expo center.

Mile 2: Here we entered Bricktown, which was a really cool part of the city with brick streets, fun restaurants, renovated buildings and the neatest little river running right through the middle. Firefighters are walk/running the half marathon and if you think about it too much you start to get a lump in your throat.

Mile 3: Boring...this was kind of through the OU Medical School. Hilarious signs from spectators: "If Trump can run, so can you!" "Remember, you paid to do this!" "I trained all week to hold this sign!"

Mile 4: Bathroom break! The lines were long early on, so this cut us back on our pace a bit

Mile 5: Mmmm, smells like bread...

Mile 6: We are feeling soooo good! This part is a neat little neighborhood with small, old houses and a nice little park centrally located. Definitely the most fun spectators: serving beer, jello shots, donuts and gummy bears.



Mile 7: Gorilla Hill! Not actually that difficult as far as hills go, but they've erected an inflatable blue gorilla and the route is lined with people in banana costumes handing out bananas.

Mile 8: *Photo Op* See ya, half marathoners! It is scary how strong the wind is at our back, knowing we'll be running into it on the return route...



Mile 9: Blair's parents meet us with high-energy spirit, Blok Energy Chews, ibuprofen and encouragement.

Mile 10: We turn into Nichols Hills, a little tiny town surrounded by Oklahoma City - beautiful houses and big trees, lots of spectators who've wandered out of the homes looking very comfy and glad not to running.

Mile 11: Nichols Hill still, we're feeling great!

Mile 12: Still Nichols Hill.


Mile 13: HALWAY!! Blair's parents are waiting for us again with a couple of her friends and stop quickly to refuel and take pictures.



Mile 14: Now...we're on the Lake Hefner: beautiful view, WINDY AS HELL. I see Hannah finally! It is impossibly hard to find anyone when there are so many people on the course.



Mile 15: Still on the lake. Still windy as hell.

Mile 16: We turn away and follow the edge of the lake through some trees and by some baseball/soccer fields. *Photo Op* At this point, I say out loud, "10 more miles. 10 miles is easy," but I'm breathing pretty heavily.

Mile 17: Ok, we're feeling less great than the first half of the marathon. It's clear we'll be running into the wind from here on out and the runners around us have started walking.

Mile 18: Back into Nichols Hills, lovely houses and we're along the prettiest road through a little park. Someone handing out water says, "Thank you for running..." and I think I'm gonna cry. But it hurts too much to breath when you're throat closes up for crying, so I just keep running.

Mile 19: Still along the park road. We stop for our final bathroom break and the lines are much shorter. I have to start talking myself down through the miles now...Seven more miles. Just seven more miles...

Mile 20: This is the last time I can remember what happiness feels like, because now we're on Classen Boulevard: long, straight road; boring, commercial storefronts; slight incline and that mother...loving WIND. Six more miles. 

Mile 21: Five more miles. Five miles is so easy...you run this all the time. Why are we on this road? When can we turn and run on any other road in this whole damn city??

Mile 22: THAT WAS THE LONGEST MILE OF MY ENTIRE LIVE. HOW CAN THERE BE FOUR MORE MILES?!

Mile 23: I think I just turned off my brain at this point. We're running through "The Village," which is really cute and people all have their signs and are cheering really spiritedly, but I HATE THEM. No. I don't. I just don't appreciate them as much as I did in miles 1 through 14.

Mile 24: Blair is like killin' it. I don't know what drafting is really...but I think I might be drafting off her for the remainder of the race.

Mile 25: THERE IS ONLY ONE MORE MILE. HOW IS THIS SO HARD?? DON'T TELL ME IT'S THE "HALF MILE AISLE," JUST SHOW ME THE FINISH LINE!!

Mile 26: And there's the finish line...just let your legs fly, just like when you're little and you run the last 100 meters of a mile... *Photo Op*



Mile 26.2: Are the green finisher shirts for the marathon or the half marathon? I really want a green shirt. I'm gonna cry if they hand me a gray shirt...





I got a green shirt and a pretty green medal, which I wore all day and to work on Monday. Blair's parents and friends were there at the end to hold our things (like ziplock bags of ibuprofen covered in butt sweat) and take our pictures and generally help us recover enough to walk to the car.


When we got home, we showered and assembled ourselves best we could to milk another day out of this sweet city. Blair's mom took us to The Garage Burgers & Beer for some delightful burgers and much needed beer. We met up with a group of Blair's high school friends there and then made our way over to The Bleu Garten: a cool open-air patio/bar surrounded by food trucks and yard games. From here, we went straight to the airport, hopped from OKC to Dallas and then landed in Columbia at about 9:45 p.m. I came home and crashed so hard, like 26.2 miles hard.


Friday, April 22, 2016

How I [ IDEALLY ] End My Day

Assuming I leave work right on time, if not a bit early...
5:00 p.m. Leave work
5:25 p.m. Commute home
5:30 p.m. Change clothes, rinse day dishes, tidy up
5:45 p.m. Start dinner
6:45 p.m. Eat dinner and watch TV
7:30 p.m. Clean up dinner dishes
7:40 p.m. Complete a weekly to do item

  1. If it's a bath night;
    • Take a bath, read a bit, enjoy a bottle glass of wine (1.5 to 2 hours)
  2. If it's a creative night;
    • Hide out down in the craftroom, fight through a project, clean-up (1 to 1.5 hours)
  3. If it's a blogging night;
    • Settle in front of the TV, fire up the laptop, get to bloggin' (1.5 to 2 hours)
  4. If it's a game night (no technology);
    • Welcome Zak and Jordan, pick a game to play, play! (3 to 4 hours)
Assuming an average activity time of 1.5 hours...
9:10 p.m. Brush teeth, wash face, apply face cream
9:20 p.m. Settle into bed and read
10:00 p.m. Lights out and asleep

A Few of My Favorite Things ... Running Gear

In 46 hours and five minutes, I will embark on the activity of running for about five hours straight. The marathon is almost here and to reassure myself that we can indeed do this, I've put together a list of all my trusty friends who've made the training miles (kind of) bearable over the last couple of months.




Reliable Pair of Earbuds
These are the greatest earbuds of all time...apparently everyone else agrees, because they were discontinued and now cost $60. But, if I had to buy another pair, I would bet on this similar style by JVC (the same manufacturer). Either way, what makes or breaks your running game is a solid pair of earbuds. It has to be something that fits snuggly in your ear through bound after bound, rain (or sweat) or shine. This isn't something you can settle on...buy new earbuds, it's worth having a pair you love.

LifeProof iPhone Case
Unfortunately, I'm sweaty...and I run with my phone strapped down under my right arm between my sweaty skin and my sports bra. So, I can't mess around when it comes to iPhone protection. I recently switched over from my iPhone 5 and the LifeProof case to an iPhone 6 with the LifeProof Nuud case. While both were totally effective at keeping my phone dry, the Nuud is sooooo much thinner that it actually makes the iPhone 6 feel smaller than the iPhone 5 tucked under my arm. In addition to it's slimmer size, it doesn't have the plastic over over the screen AND it detects your thumbprint ID through the case...making for easy use even when it's covered in sweat.

Clif Shot Blok Energy Chews
Thank you, Hannah Harris. I had been taking those energy jelly beans on my runs, but only like three or four right when I left. Hannah suggested these lovely (though a bit too chewy) Clif Blok Energy Chews regularly throughout the run and they have been incredible! Seriously, just a burst of energy to get you out of those slumps when you're struggling. 

Cheap Sunglasses
There are some things you need to spend money on in order to meet your needs...for me, sunglasses is not one of them. Do they shade the sun? Do they stay firmly on the top of my head when not needed? Are they lightweight and require minimum fidgeting? Then there good enough for me. Unfortunately, last year for the float trip, I ordered wayyyy too many of these cheap sunglasses...fortunately, they meet all of my running sunglasses standards and I have about 100 of them in case I lose any.

Halo II Pullover Headband
While I'm willing to go cheap on sunglasses, I'm not gonna settle with what I use to hold by my whispy hairs. This Halo Headband has been my reliable, trusty headband choice since I purchased it in order to meet the minimum for free shipping on a pair of shoes. My mom once stole my Lululemon headband and offered to trade it back for this Halo one...and I wouldn't do it. That's how much I love it.

Nail Clippers
Specifically, toenail clippers. Although this piece of wisdom was shared with me before I had even started my marathon training by my wonderful and marathon-experienced ex-track coach, it wasn't until the 18 mile run where I experiences the pain and agony of running long distances with slightly too long toenails. THEY WEREN'T EVEN THAT LONG. But I now have three purple/black toenails and keep them as short as possible for my remaining runs.

That's it. Those are my favorite running things. I have sports bras I prefer and spandex shorts that I like to wear for races...but they aren't really my favorite. I have standards, ya know?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How I [ IDEALLY ] Start My Day

6:00 a.m. First alarm goes off
6:15 a.m. Second alarm goes off
6:30 a.m. Third alarm goes off and I finally get out of bed
6:35 a.m. Brush teeth, wash face, apply face cream
6:40 a.m. Hair fixin' time...
  1. If I showered last night and my hair had time to dry to before bed;
    • Use a straightener to do loose curls (30 minutes)
    • Pull it back into a lazy ponytail (1 minute)
    • Tease a bit and french braid down the side (2 minutes)
  2. If I didn't sweat yesterday and can "rewear" the same hair;
    • Touch up flattened curls or flatten kinks (5 minutes)
    • Tease and pull up top half of hair (5 minutes)
  3. If I showered last night, but went to bed before it was dry;
    • Cry, then take another shower and scrunch hair (40 minutes)
    • Pull up into a top knot or ballerina bun (5 minutes)
  4. If I go on a morning run or just want to feel fresh all day;
    • Shower, blow-dry and straighten or curl hair with a straightener (1 hour)
Assuming an average of 20 minutes hair styling time...
7:00 a.m. Moisturizer, make-up, deodorant, perfume
7:20 a.m. Dress (hopefully this only takes one try)
7:25 a.m. Make lunch
7:35 a.m. Leave for work
8:00 a.m. Arrive at work
8:05 a.m. Put away lunch, drop off workout clothes, plug-in and fire up the laptop
8:10 a.m. Upstairs for coffee and back downstairs for cream
8:20 a.m. Partake in coffee and breakfast


Overnight Oats have been my favorite breakfast for a about a month now. Equal parts milk and oats, coconut shavings, slivered almonds, blueberries and strawberries. Let sit in the frig overnight and take to work ready to eat the next day!
8:25 a.m. Check and respond to easy emails
8:30 a.m. Begin the day

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

70 and Sunny

With the weather this weekend finally hovering around 70 and sunny (the weather conditions most satisfying to say and enjoy), I got a little a tickle for some pretty flower illustrations. So, I put them all here for you to feel a little tickled too!

Margaret Berg Art Illustration
This Margaret girl is killin' it with the watercolors. She has so many and they are all so beautiful!

Margaret Berg Art Illustration

Margaret Berg Art Illustration

Graphic Box of Creative Market
I liked this one as a different take on spring florals: a bit of a southwestern take.

Happiness is Homemade

Jones Design Company
This company has a beautiful illustration for every season and I am sooooo in love with them all!
Something about seeing all the little pieces of spring makes me giddy.
Found on Pinterest...
Kristine Brookshire Etsy
I don't know if I even want to wear a flower crown, but I want to be the kind of person who could.
Rifel Paper Co.
Of course, Rifel Paper Co.

Kelli Murray on Society 9