Happy Friday everyone! I’m battling a cold right now. I thought it was just allergies but it bloomed into a gross cold. It’s my all-time favorite holiday this weekend. Sugarface and I are celebrating with a chicken tender taste-off and trying to replicate Cane’s Chicken dipping sauce. I want to make our celebration a pun. Tender Loving Care? Swipe Right on the right Tender? I have a pun sickness.
Enjoy this week’s round up of links that made me feel things!
What women want for Valentine’s Day. I agree with “slight effort” but my favorite gift so far was when Sugarface made me a penguin pop up card with a sweet note inside. I keep it on my nightstand and still read it from time to time.
Happy February everyone! My dogs wish you an early Valentine’s Day. This weekend Sugarface and I are going to a banh mi taste-off and a Superbowl party even though neither of us follow football. How about you?
Here are this week’s pieces of the internet that made me feel things. Enjoy!
So I thought the above brief history on Japan was neat and had this bookmarked to share this week. And when I asked Sugarface if he saw any interesting videos, he coincidentally shared with me the following video. The kids are so cute!
It’s funny how January felt like it was mostly routine days but in actuality there were a handful of big events. Sugarface and I rang in the New Year dressed up at a New Year’s Eve wedding in Arkansas. I had never seen him look so handsome in a tux before! We spent the first few days of the year in Arkansas and enjoyed some quality time with his parents. The dogs got to do some exploring too. Shortly after getting back from Arkansas, we celebrated our first anniversary by watching Die Hard and eating dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. I also made one of his favorite meals to celebrate, garam masala pot pie. It’s been such a sweet year.
There were awesome chance encounters with memorable strangers this month. I met a man on the elevator named James who had a bag full of lilies. He was traveling soon and didn’t want his flowers to go to waste. He gave me a stem and brightened up my day. I also met Victoria and her sunshiney crew on the streets of downtown giving out free warm hugs.
Finally, we ended the month the same way we started it. Dressed up for a wedding.
Not depicted on Instagram was an oil change date with a dear friend. It was the most fun I had waiting for an oil change. We snacked at McDonald’s and colored our coloring books as we talked for almost 3 hours.
Well done everyone! We finished another week. I hope you you did a bit of relaxing to balance out all that work. I found some awesome links this week that made me feel things. The last video had me chair dancing. Enjoy!
Happy Friday everyone! My week whizzed by again. I like the spirit of Januaries. Fresh starts and making plans and goals are invigorating. This weekend my only priorities are sleep and an oil change with a friend. Yes, we actually made a date to have our oil changes together. How about you? What are you doing?
Here are this week’s list of links that made me feel things.
It took reading 14 books in December, but I read 50 books in 2015. It was my fourth consecutive year of reading 50 books a year. I’m reminded every year of what a procrastinator I am in December. I wanted to share my final list of all the books. There were plenty that I loved and liked. What were your favorites from 2015? I haven’t read anything so far this year, putting me already one book behind schedule!
Books I Loved
Americanah was my first of two books by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I resolve to read the rest of her books in 2016!
I’ve now officially read all of Anthony Bourdain’s books and loved them all. I especially loved the essay about his daughter in Medium Raw.
I loved The Color Purple so much. It was an emotional roller-coaster but I still think about the characters.
I read The Old Man and the Sea towards the end of my reading challege. Cherry-picked both for its prestige and its brevity.
I would have read The Girl On The Train in one sitting if I didn’t have to be an adult. So it took either two or three sittings. A page-turner of a mystery with a well-meaning but atrociously unreliable narrator.
About Alice was written lovingly by Alice’s husband in her memory.
I was reading Men Explain Things To Me while waiting for new tires. The man sitting next to me saw the title and chuckled, “Isn’t that what all women want? Men to explain things to them?” I wanted to throw the book at him and tell him the book was written for exactly him.
The Guy Not Taken, a collection of short stories, was a quick read. There were a few good ones.
I found an essay excerpt of Rob Lowe’s Love Life about his son and immediately put Love Life on hold at the library. I enjoyed his writing style. I either read this one and listened to the next one listed (also by him) simultaneously or vice versa. I do recommend you listening to both these books since he did such a great job on the audio.
Stories I Only Tell My Friends recounts many stories of Rob Lowe trying to break into the acting business. It was a comforting read while I dealt with job rejections.
Read Geography of Bliss if you have wanderlust and are curious about how different cultures approach happiness.
I was dutifully reading Never Let Me Go despite not being hooked and about 120 pages in, I was hit in the gut. I’m glad I stuck it out.
I read a few thriller mysteries this year. Bonegap had a bit of the mystical in it.
I read If You Find This Letter on my flight from Austin to Chicago and cried so much the passenger across the aisle gave me her whole package of tissue.
I didn’t think I’d like Stoner but I read it in two sittings. Depressing but beautifully written.
Books I Read to Help Me Figure Out My Work Life
An old coworker had pushed Rework on me over and over again. It wasn’t until I got laid-off that I finally made the time. I think anyone managing people or anyone in Human Resources could get a lot from this book.
Essentialism motivated me to pare down every area of my life.
Hello! I’ve returned to the real world this week. I spent New Year’s in Arkansas with Sugarface and it was a bit of a culture shock to reenter the grind. If this was your first week back from vacation, I hope it went smoothly. Here’s this year’s first installment of Friday Feels, links that made me feel things. Enjoy!
“…I could fixate on finding jobs that would help me afford beautiful universes small enough to hold in my hand. Or I could seek out work that would remind me that I was, wondrously, living inside of one.”
This year in review post will be my eighth recap post on this blog! I’ve had this blog for at least eight years! I gave a general break down of 2015 in my Thanksgiving post but here you will find my traditional recap month by month. 2015 contained the beginning of my treasured relationship with Sugarface, one of my biggest life’s accomplishments, and an ugly lay-off that made me question whether I even want a conventional job anymore.
I rang in the new year hosting a party with my roommate. Sugarface was my date and midnight kiss and almost a week later he became my boyfriend. What a great year 2015 forever will be. I had no idea in January where we would go, but now as I’m writing this, I can say our relationship has been the best thing that has happened to me this year.
In February, I hosted a brunch for Valentine’s Day and loved how the decorations turned out. My best friend Kimmy, the keeper of all my memories, came up to visit me in Austin for the first time in a few years. She met Sugarface when I took her to see the local graffiti park. I treated the two of us to a play about dating for her birthday. Also in February, I had a cameo on a food show on Bravo, judged a cake contest, and Sugarface made me a pop-up card that I now keep on my nightstand and read every so often. There were many Mad Men marathons and our first wedding together.
One of my biggest accomplishments happened in March. For many years I dreamed of treating my parents to an all expense paid trip. I’ve tracked my saving on this blog for years and waited impatiently for my parents to finally retire. Within the year of them retiring I took them on a trip! In all my fantasies, I never dreamed Vegas but my mom wanted to experience Vegas after seeing it in the movies. So to Vegas we went! It was the first flight my dad has taken since flying to Houston after escaping Vietnam as a refugee. It was the my mom’s first flight since she took me to Vietnam in high school. I didn’t think Vegas itself was all that great but my parents still talk about it and now instead of being bored with Vegas, I’ll forever be endeared to her. Besides, it was there I shot my favorite light trail photo.
Sugarface and I spent a weekend housesitting for his friends and it was my first glimpse at what it’s like to spend full consecutive days from waking up to falling asleep with him. We spent the whole weekend either in bed and watching Lonesome Dove marathon style or out eating Asian food till our stomachs hurt. Neither of us lived North where some of the best Asian foods in Austin are, so the housesitting was geographically convenient for these binges.
Kimmy came down again for work and we had dinner with Treavor. After dinner, we laid in Kim’s pretty canopy hotel bed and talked about men and shared secrets from our pasts. We then walked along a iconic street in Austin and talked a closed restaurant into selling us dessert. I can’t remember if it was a cookie or a brownie but I do remember feeling struck by how beautiful my life felt.
I took Sugarface to Houston for a wedding of my sweet friend. Funnily, I met Sugarface the same way I met her but their time at the lab I worked at didn’t overlap so they didn’t know each other. During this weekend, he met my parents for the first time. After dim sum with the parents, we shared a snow cone while walking a street festival with my friends.
May might have been my funnest month this year. I went on my annual trip with Ashley and Nicole. We were sad my roommate couldn’t join us. The four of us try to take a trip once a year so we can have some actual real life face time. We went to Utah and hiked Zion National Park. It made me committed to come back and visit Bryce National Park. Almost immediately after getting back from Utah, Sugarface and I drove a new and fancy Cadillac loaner to New Orleans. It was the first time I’ve visited since a few months before Katrina. I met his siblings who live there and relished their childhood stories they shared.
As I was reviewing my monthly posts to write this recap, I saw that in my May recap I wrote about how happy I was and how that scared me. Less than two weeks after I wrote that post about May, I was laid off and subsequently suffered my hardest thing of 2015. As I write this, I know how insecure and anxious being laid off made me. It really affected me mentally and in many ways I think I will continue to be affected. The day after the company layoffs, I met up with my coworker who was also laid off at a coffee shop. We met every weekday for a few weeks and searched for jobs together. I think we were both shell-shocked and used each other as reasons to get out of bed the first few weeks.
During the third week of June, I tried to meet Sugarface in his home state by flying. I ended up being stranded in Dallas after waiting 5 hours for my connecting flight. While I was waiting for the ultimately canceled flight, I conversed with a fellow flyer named Kevin. When the flight was canceled we split a car and drove into Arkansas together. We talked another five hours in the car and that remains the longest conversation I’ve ever had, at ten hours. In Arkansas, I met Sugarface’s loving and funny parents and enjoyed the most scenic boat rides on a beautiful lake. We were barefoot the entire time and I had no cell phone or internet service. Normally that would make me anxious but it gave me a beautiful and idyllic reprieve from job rejection notifications!
We drove back to Arkansas for Fourth of July and had another fantastic weekend there. Sugarface’s hometown has become one of my favorite places to visit. We spent another weekend barefoot on the lake, eating his mom’s gourmet cooking. It was my birth month and for the first time in many years, I didn’t feel like planning a dinner for myself. In years past I worried about finding the perfect venue that would suit varying budgets and tastes and with job hunting and my anxiety, I decided to take it easy this year and not plan anything. For my birthday, my sweet friend Stephanie took me out on the lake and I had my first paddle board experience. On the day of, Sugarface made me breakfast and treated me to dinner at my favorite restaurant. My family and friends made me feel especially loved.
We were in Dallas for a wedding (I lost count of how many weddings we attended this year!) the weekend of Sugarface’s birthday and since we were almost halfway to Arkansas, we drove to his parents’ home to pick up his dog and so he can spend his birthday with his family. We had enough time to eat dinner with them and go on a peaceful boat ride in the middle of the night. I felt lucky and so awestruck by the bounty of stars that night.
September was mostly about moving. My lease was ending and Sugarface planned on living together once our leases ended. Funny fact, last year around this time we almost became roommates but I told him I couldn’t live with him because I found him too attractive. Ha! We went apartment hunting with one of my best friends who is a new real estate agent and fell in love with the first apartment we saw. Three weeks later we moved in. Moving while unemployed was so stressful. I felt like I was hemorrhaging money. The night before my movers came, I spent one last night at Sugarface’s apartment sleeping on the floor in his living room. It felt so right to be moving in with him, the financial worries subsided.
The month of impeccable make up! I was in a wedding of a high school friend. The fun thing about going to weddings of high school friends is getting flashbacks of them as awkward teenagers. Except in this case I don’t think my radiant friend ever went through an awkward puberty stage! She hired a make up artist to do our make up and I never seen myself that pretty before! (Usually make up artists make me look like a ridiculous geisha.) Then came Halloween and my old coworker and now dear friend Jeremiah did my makeup and I was so impressed that this was his second time ever doing makeup! He did the same kind of makeup for himself days before doing mine.
In November, I Feel Better Podcast went live, I accepted a part-time job that also provides health-insurance and committed to freelancing and attempting to monetize my food blog to complement the part-time-not-enough income. The longer I was unemployed the more uncomfortable I started to be with the conventional nine to five. This is a weird place for me because before being laid-off, I didn’t want to ever consider life without the “stable” nine-five job.
For the holidays, Sugarface and I worked out that we’ll do Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with his. So I took him to Houston and we spent a couple of days eating my mom’s food and chitchatting with my parents and brother. Kimmy and I tried to show him cool spots in Houston but all our chosen spots were closed with exception of that Before I Die wall.
Sugarface’s family came for Christmas and it was so much fun hosting them. They included me in their holiday traditions and I felt so touched by their acceptance. His mother spent hours in the kitchen on Christmas day. I’m not a pancake person. I take one or two bites and then I’m usually done. Sugarface’s mom officially converted me with her blueberry pancakes. We spent the day watching movies, opening gifts, and then eating an amazing dinner she cooked. Sugarface’s mom blows me away with her talent in the kitchen. We spent the remaining days being in each other’s company, eating, and watching more movies. They left and I found myself missing them almost immediately and am happy to be seeing them for New Years!
Today we’re driving to Arkansas for a New Year’s Eve wedding that Sugarface is in. It’ll be my fourth visit to Arkansas this year with him.
This was basically a verbose way of telling you 2015 was pretty swell.
Happy Friday and if you celebrate, Merry Christmas! This is my first Christmas with Sugarface and we’re hosting his family. I’m so honored to be included in their holiday festivities. My family never really paid too much attention to any of the holidays so I’m grateful. Wherever you are, I’m wishing you peace.
Here are pieces of the internet that made me feel things this week.
Our holiday episode of I Feel Better is up! We discuss our favorite holiday pop culture and also laugh in embarrassment at our celebrity crushes.
I’m still trying to reach my goal of reading 50 books in 2015. I have 3 more to read! I finished Stealing Buddha’s Dinner in about a day and loved it so much. I had known about this book for a while because I’ve seen it when I browsed food books at book stores but never bothered picking it up. A friend of mine commented on my food blog’s Facebook and recommended it when I mentioned how I didn’t know SPAM was reviled in the states until kids made fun of me in school.