Thursday, May 31, 2012

College Tips: Ramen Is Not Your Friend

    It’s graduation season and this is the time of the year when people get to tell other people, younger         
    people, what to do with their life and how to live it.   And younger people have to listen.  That’s how it  
    works, right?   

     Here is what I've come up with to make your four (or five) years less murder-y, less hangover-y and       
     generally more awesome. 

  • I know someone gave you a cookbook for graduation with a 1,001 ways to make Ramen.  Ramen will never be anything other than Ramen.  Go buy some lettuce once in a while.  Your insides will thank you.  

  • The seedy hotel room you are planning on renting for spring break is disgusting.  That place has seen things…things that can never be unseen.   Grab 3 more people (for an even 47 … you know you were going to cram your entire dorm floor in that room) and spring for a place that won’t require you to testify in a murder trial.  

  • If you’re in a city that has public transportation know the time those services cut off for the night (if they do) and stash enough cash someplace safe (and your best friend’s back pocket is NOT it) in case you find yourself stuck.   

  • Everyone swears by their own hang-over cure concoction and you’ll find what works for you.  It will generally consist of grease, water, pain reliever and more grease. Something magical happens when you ingest grease at 4:00 am.   

  • At the end of four years (or five for some of us) you’ll need to get a thing called a job.  In order to get a job, you’ll need references (and your grandparents don’t count).   I highly recommend getting to know your professors and not just the ones from senior year, spring semester. 

  • If you don’t know the material by 2:00 am, you’re never going to know the material. Go to bed.

Money is probably going to be tight.  So here are a few things that are worthy investments:
A taxi any time after dark or when your roommate decides to go home with the hillbilly not wearing a shirt from the bar.
Pizza any time after drinking.  (Also see McDonald’s, Taco Bell)
The one pair of jeans that will make your butt look exceptional as you walk into your History class.  Late.  For the hundredth time. 
Enough beer to share with a friend.  (I hear drinking alone is frowned upon.  Apparently.)
Not So Worthy Investments: 
A free shirt that says “Go Bucks”  with a fancy Visa logo on the back is not reason enough to sign up for a credit card.  15 minutes will literally haunt you for life.
Anything with the words “tube” and “top”.  Just don’t.
The time spent worrying about that guy/girl that didn’t call you back.  Or the time spent worrying about the guy/girl that did call you back.   Enjoy being single.
The 75 pairs of additional jeans that make you look dumpy, pudgy or lumpy.

Ok, let's hear it…what do YOU wish someone would have told you before you headed off to college? 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Teacher Gifts

Last week was Ella's last week of school.  I know.  She's already doing fractions.  It's crazy.

For her teachers I wanted to make something unique. She had two teachers for Monday/Wednesday/Friday and Tuesday/Thursday. Plus I wanted to do one for each of the administrators that take the best care of her! So there were 6 total.

I found my inspiration on Pinterest, the new social media hangout.  Look me up at Kristen Siler Vennekotter. 
Source: via Kristen on Pinterest

This was a pretty easy project but of course I bit off more than I could chew in a short time span.  So I enlisted some help. 

I picked up 6 terra-cotta pots and 6 trays. 

In addition to the pots, I bought black and yellow craft paint, brushes and markers that write on terra cotta. 

We put the black on the inside/outside of the pots and trays.  And the yellow paint around the rim.   The black went on in two coats, the yellow took about 5 coats! 

Once the paints dried over night, I took the markers and free handed the words on the bottom "Thanks for helping me Grow!" And also used the yellow as a measuring tape and free handed the lines. 

I bought 6 flowers.  Which kind? The pretty kind.  I don't remember the exact name. And some Harry Potter dirt.  It was Harry Potter dirt because the night after I planted the flowers the dirt expanded so that it over flowed out of the pots and all over my floor and counters!  


Here is the finished product! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Relying On My Navigator

I had plans to write about our Memorial Day weekend today but something else is weighing on my heart so I think I’ll change course.

I woke up today wanting to be someone else. I have a little case of the jealousies. Ok, a big case.

I look all around me and see all of these successful people, doing great things, doing what they love, getting promotions, being who they set out to be. I want to be those people.

I have these big goals and I want to go from point A to point Z. RIGHT NOW. Pleaseandthankyou.

I feel like I’m behind and I’ll never get to where I need to be. The road is too long, the mountains too high, the roadblocks too insurmountable.

Part of me feels like it’s too much work. This isn’t so bad, is it? Why not be happy here? But I know I can’t be happy here. I want more. I am more.

Regret is not something I want to live with. And quitting is not a trait I want my daughter to see. Quitters never prosper, right? Or is that cheaters? I can never remember. I’m so bad with clichés.

So, while my footsteps feel heavy, I’ll keep trudging along. (Also, the apple pie I ate last night probably isn't helping.)

Today is about realizing your path is not my path and being grateful for the blessings bestowed upon me. God has been good. So, so good. I know He has a plan.

You know those GPS systems installed in cars? We call ours Jane. Shes British. I have a tendency to ignore her, to my own detriment, of course. I think I know better than Jane. And then, I'm stuck behind a 4 car pile up for hours. I probably need to give up my ideas about where I need to go & how to get there and maybe I'll hit Point Z before I know it.

I need to trust in His plan. I need to have faith. I need to rely on my Navigator.

So if you see me today and my eyes look a little green just know I’m working on it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hillbilly Is Not A Language

Thank God for the internet. Or should I thank Al Gore? I don’t know. I’m still confused on who made the internet. My point is without email my husband and I would probably not be married.

See, I may not be the best arguer but I can craft a thoughtful, articulate email. When I say “may not be the best”, by the way, I mean I’m the absolute worst possible communicator when I’m angry, hurt, sad, hungry, sleepy or irritable (so any of the 7 dwarfs really).

Our arguments consist of me giving him the silent treatment until he figures out that I’m giving him the silent treatment (this could take a while).

Are you mad at me?

No, of course not. I’m just stomping through the house, huffing and puffing and sighing very loudly to let the robbers in the attic know we’re home. (I always think we have robbers. Why they haven't come out & robbed and/or murdered us already is besides the point.)

Then I announce in an odd, high-pitched, sing-songy voice what I’m mad about and how I can’t believe he *insert stupid thing/comment/action*.

He apologizes and SCENE, if this were a Jennifer Lopez rom-com.

But then he has to go and make it a THING. (Way to go, Mark)

So then we’re locked in a battle over something really important and we have to “talk it out”.

This wouldn’t be a problem if I could think on my feet. But I’m more like a “lie face down” kind of thinker when I’m angry. My points get jumbled; I speak in short hand known only to me, and butcher clichés on the regular. (FYI, I butcher cliches all the time.)

Exhibit A:

I didn’t even think about what I said earlier and I can see how it would make you feel but I didn’t intend to hurt your feelings.

*sob* It’s just….it really hurt my heart…*sob*…my feelings are sore…*SOB* …*SOB* …and, and *SOB* and you just pulled all the air out of my balloon…and lunch is gone....and now my day got a monkey in the wrench.

Translation: my feelings are hurt *sob* and with one comment you took the wind out of my sails *sob* your callous comments ruined my lunch hour and this argument threw a monkey wrench in my day.

Thank god for email because no one is going to win a fight sounding like that.

And I should probably never use cliches in an argument. Hillbilly is not a language.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Happy Birthday To Me

**yawn** Someone, I won’t name names, had us up for 3 hours last night. Apparently, two teeth are not enough for Ella…er… I mean someone and she’s adamant she needs more. She’s staunchly anti-hillbilly.

We might be in for a long ride.

In other news, I turned 32 yesterday!

Maybe it’s the narcissist in me but I love birthdays! And before you get all “it’s just because you get presents”. Well, duh. Who doesn’t love some gifts? No one. That’s who.

But it’s more than just presents, I love the whole introspection aspect. Looking at the last year and evaluating what went right and what went wrong. And the best part, looking forward to what’s coming up!

31 was a pretty awesome year but 32 is going to be AH-MAZING. I can feel it.

Celebrating life is a good thing. Maybe if we celebrated life a little more, we’d all be a little happier, a little more content, a little more loving towards everyone around us. Maybe that is what we should wish for when we blow out those candles.

Since Mark had navy reserve duty this weekend we celebrated on Friday with dinner at one our favorite restaurants, Trulucks. Those of you in the Houston area I highly recommend it! They have exceptional seafood, most flown in fresh from Maine and Florida daily.

We started out with Jonah crab claws, fresh from Florida.

I had the heirloom tomato salad with buttermilk dressing, bacon crumbles and shaved parmesan. I could have licked the plate. So freaking good.

This was what I had been waiting for...a ginormous king crab leg. Heaven!
Last but not least, chocolate bread pudding with chocolate ganache frosting.


Saturday and Sunday were spent running errands with my little teeth-er.

Grocery shopping.

We walked down to the pool.

Drying off after our swim!


Post swim nap! She was worn least for a little while.

While she napped, I made my birthday treat... Strawberry cupcakes with strawberry buttercream icing.


Finished product...that one needed to be tested. Happy birthday to me indeed!


Friday, May 18, 2012

High Five For Friday

It’s been a great week lovelies! It’s going to be an even better weekend – it’s my birthday on Sunday! I love birthdays and even as I’m creeping into my 30’s I love them even more (GASP!). Check back on Monday for my birthday post!

I'm linking up with Lauren From My Grey Desk Blog Here are the highlights from my week. I want to hear about yours - leave them in the comments!

An article of mine, Five Frat Boy Movies You Need To Watch Now, was posted on the online women's magazine Curvy Girl Guide. I love CGG. It’s a great online women’s magazine that promotes healthy self-image, builds women up instead of tearing down. Plus, you can find lots of fun gossip and reviews on all your favorite trashy TV shows, movies and books! Go check out the article and tell me what you think!

The charming man who talks me down from the ledge on a semi-regular basis sent me these in honor of my birthday! What girl doesn’t love flowers?

Also…my birthday present! I can’t wait to test this baby out. I’ve been wanting a new bike for AGES.

The hubs has navy reserve duty this weekend so it’s just going to be us two girls!

We’re going to one of our favorite restaurants tonight to celebrate, Truluck’s. I may already have my dinner planned out. It calls for stretchy pants.

Hope your week was sunny and bright! Enjoy the weekend!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Throw Out The Cell Phone & Grab The Croissants

No. I’m serious. My cell phone just LIT up like it was calling someone but I didn’t touch it.

I promise you, your cell phone did NOT just turn on by itself. Did you get a text?

Oh… I just got a text. I’m just saying these Apple products are eerily smart these days.


It’s powering on. Please stop screaming.

Did the toaster just unplug itself?

No, I just unplugged the toaster. Jeesshh. I’ve never letting you read another sci-fi book ever again.

If you have read the book Robopocalypse you would be having these same conversations with your husband. Unless, of course, you are saner than I, which I know some of you so let’s not kid ourselves, ok.

Let me just state for the record that I am in no way a science fiction fan. If a book starts out “on planet Rom-a-Long-A –Ding-Dong…” I’m not interested. Call me a genre-ist. My husband, however, pleaded with me to read this book.

It’s a FASCINATING take on how deeply intertwined the human existence is with that of machines.

Ok, well, he didn’t say it exactly like that, mainly because my husband isn’t a tool, but he did suck me in with his “this book is sooo good” and “I can’t put it down.”

OK. Fine, Mark. I’ll read your stupid book.

AND OMG y’all. I couldn’t put this dumb science fiction book down.

It’s a take on what happens when the computers and machines become smarter than the humans (which seeing some of us in action shouldn’t be too difficult). In order to stop the humans from sabotaging the Earth (which sounds so weirdly sci-fi I still can’t believe I read this one) the machines rise up and eradicate civilization (total bummer). Then, of course, there is a small band of resourceful humans who serve as the revolutionaries and blah blah blah. I will let you read it or just email me and I’ll tell you the ending.

After finishing the book I was thisclose to coming up with a Robopocalypse Survival Guide. I didn’t get too far, mainly because I’m lazy and not a crazy Prepper. (Thank you National Geographic Channel for introducing us to the nut jobs who will outlive us all should the unthinkable happen).

This is the basic outline of my plan: Run. Oh, and bring lots of those little chocolate croissants. Those are my fav.

I’m going to be so screwed when my toaster unplugs itself.


If You're Looking For A Cool Gift Look No Further

I enjoy giving people gifts that mean something. I love finding that perfect gift and seeing their faces light up when they open it. In that vein, I wanted to share with you my Mother’s Day gifts that I gave to my mom and mother-in-law, Shutterfly photo books.

Obviously, Mother’s Day is long gone but Father’s Day is coming up and graduations and heck, July 4 is right around the corner too! These books can be customized for any occasion. That is the best part.

First, you can choose a theme (I chose Mother’s Day/Grandma’s) or just start with a blank book. Then you choose the size you want. They have everything from 5x7 to 12x12 and then you choose either a hard or a soft cover. I choose a hard cover in an 8x10 size, which gives you 20 pages to work with.

Then you pull your photos to the Shutterfly website and save them in an album, where you can access them later if you want to do other projects. In determining how many pictures you need to move to Shutterfly, I picked 20 photos but ended up needing more because I chose different designs that included 3 pictures on one page.

Once you have all the pictures you want to use, Shutterfly has several pages of different layouts with varying picture/text formats you can pick from. Click on Page 1 to get started, you choose your layout and then drag your picture to the page. Add text as you like. You can pick different backgrounds with different colors; add ‘stickers’ to the pages or just do basic text/picture combo for the same price. There were several pages where I didn’t add text at all, as the picture took up a lot of space or text wasn’t necessary.

From start to finish, each book took about an hour to finish. It was really user friendly (although I did cuss several times but only due to my inability to watch Game of Thrones while crafting). As we live so far away from Ella’s grandparents, this is a nice way for them to have unique pictures of her. And if you’re like me and never actually print off any pictures from your cameras this is a way to get them from your computer into someone’s hands. The gifts went over very well and even Daddy has said he would like a book in the future! The final price tag for each book (don’t look Mom) was $25.00. Not bad for a unique and touching gift.


It's a good thing I shaved that day!

By the way, this post is just because I really like the product. I haven't received anything from any sponsors.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My First Mother's Day

My mothers day was lovely! I'm a lucky girl to be called Mommy and even luckier that I get to call Ella my daughter. How was yours? I hope you got lots of kisses and snuggles (if they aren't teenagers of course because I hear they don't snuggle so much as complain). I'm not going to lie, there were some tears that were shed (blame that old foe, miscommunication) but frowns were turned upside down in short order. I mean what is a holiday around here without someone breaking down at least once?!

I got to spend my day with my two favorite people in the whole wide world.

We went to lunch at one of my favorite places, The Black Walnut.

Momma, I must object to these lunch time photos shoots.

Hmmm... Your ideas on social welfare intrigue me. Let me think on it while I eat my applesauce.

I received two lovely cards, which brightened my day even more. I don't know about you but I love a good greeting card! They make me happy. And the most thoughtful gift was a lovely framed photo of four generations of Standley/Siler/Vennekotter ladies.


Four generations of love and good genes!

To end the evening, Mark stole inspiration from our honeymoon (Barcelona) and made a crazy good paella from scratch and an even crazier sangria to go with it. He knows the path to a woman's heart is through her stomach and with diamonds (shhh... he doesn't need to know the truth on that one).

And we finished off the evening with a cupcake the size of my head.



Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day. My first as a real life Mommy. (Thank goodness those cabbage patch days don't count or I'd have a lot of explaining to do with CPS.)


Today is the day where we give thanks for our Mothers . The project manager, the crew, and the materials all in one loving woman who built us from the ground up for 9 months.


I have had the grand fortune of having a wonderful mother and a wonderful grandmother that have made me into the woman I am today.


My mom was and is the one I call when nothing has gone right, when everything has gone well, on a Monday, on a Saturday, when I'm well or when I'm sick. And she's still I the one I look too for my baby.


She's the one who gave my brothers and I the foundation for our strong, unwavering faith in the Lord.


She's the one who loved us enough to tell us we could do anything we set our sights on and then let us explore the world. That is how I was able to go to graduate school four states away and find the man of my dreams and live the life I was supposed to live.


She's was the one that knew I had to back to that first grade classroom after I had my ever so teeny-tiny accident (it totally wasn't my fault. The classroom was watching a video and the teacher didn't see my hand raised and I was too scared to get up and just go to the bathroom sooo...) and I was MORTIFIED. I didn't like her very much that day. But looking back, if she hadn't made me walk back in there that same day I would have never gone back (or it would have cost a TON of tears).


She was the one who slept in the hospital with me with every asthma attack and made sure I had my inhaler at all times. That is still one of the questions I get "Do you have your inhaler?" And I'm 30 years old.


She's my teacher, my doctor, my babysitter, my taxi driver, my cheerleader, my protector, my devil's advocate and my friend.


I love you Mom!



Friday, May 11, 2012

High Five For Friday

Our little family has had a great week! Ella's off deciding where she's going to go to college & oh wait... she's not that old yet. But she did start waving voluntarily at random strangers but refuses to wave to her parents. And oh, yeah, she said her first word. Minor, really, in the grand scheme of things but OH MY GAWD. She said her first word!!

If I could upload a video of her saying it over and over again I would but I can't seem to figure it out. So maybe some day.

Here's the other 5 highlights from my week. I'd love to hear how good your week was! Leave it in the comments.


I started working out...again. This needs to happen.

This was taken right after we taped her saying her first word (over & over again)!!

I may have picked up this little baby this past weekend.

And these shades!

These piggies make me happy.

And one extra... I'm grateful for scotch tape today. The second skirt in a month to lose it's hem. Awesome. TGIF.




Thursday, May 10, 2012

We Are So On Top Of Things Around Here

We willingly spent our weekend at the Container Store with a list as long as your arm. We are going to get a handle on this clutter! (I love saying things like this, I feel like such an adult.) Once we have a clean, organized house life will be simpler, easier, better!

Enter new draw dividers, shoe boxes, new kitchen containers, plastic tubs.


The clothes in the tub aren't even supposed to go in there. I just needed to bring them upstairs.

So close, yet so far away.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It's Not You, Double Pleasure On The Grill, It's Me.

I'm a little OCD, like even with my food. I hear this bordering on "medication required" OCD just means I like to have some sense of control over my life. Whatevs. I highly recommend this form of mental instability. The only problem I see is you get to places on time, you make copious notes so you never forget anything (even at 2:37 in the morning when you can't sleep because you're remembering what shirts you need to take to the dry cleaners)** and oh, yeah, you eat the exact same thing all the time...until one day you don't.

This normally wouldn't be a problem. Who cares if you only order Kung Pao Chicken at every Chinese restaurant you go to? Only to end up hating said Kung Pao Chicken and never going to a Chinese place again. Since I am not single, it creates a weeee bit of an issue.

When we first started dating I was on a Chipotle kick. I introduced Mark to Chipotle and much to my enjoyment he LOVED it! We made kind of an obscene habit out of Chipotle tacos (we are so not a burrito family. Ew.) They knew us by taco toppings. It was sad.

Weeks went by and we were in taco and tomato salsa heaven. Until one day the mere thought of a taco made me gag. It comes on me quickly and without warning. And then Chipotle was over. I couldn't even handle the smell of the place. He was all You're crazy. And I was all No, YOU are! ( we argue like second graders sometimes). And it's not that he doesn't go there by himself but what fun is it to eat dinner at two different places? And eventually, I'll get that lovin feeling back, but it takes time.

Then it was the Italian place on the corner, the gelateria, pork chops, the sandwich shop, the peruvian chicken place, beef vegetable soup, brown rice and finally, most recently the Thai place down the street.

It started out slow, like all good relationships. Then it quickly progressed into something more serious. My favorite dish, double pleaure on the grill, and I were seeing each other on Friday nights, then it transitioned into an afternoon date on a Saturday. Finally, we were doing take out on random week nights. It was good, until it wasn't.

Double pleasure on the grill just wasn't what it once was. Why not another option, you might say? I like what i like and nothing tates as good as that first date with double pleasure on the grill. Scallops, shrimp with little pineapple chunks! We had it good once but it can never be regained.

So until I find my new Thai food soul mate the Thai place is no more.

Sorry, Mark! Love you!

** However, I completely forget Ella's school check, my lunch, what to set out for dinner and sometimes deodorant. So not always a fail safe.







Thursday, May 3, 2012

Being Me

We all have our things right? You might eat PB&Js without the PB or maybe you can recite the Gettysburg Address by heart. Whatever it is, it's what makes us unique. I'm to the point in my life where I am grateful for what makes me different. I don't want to be like everyone else. I want to be me. And I want you to be you and revel in all your "you-ness".

So here I am...

I only read the NY Times for the Modern Love and Wedding Celebration stories in the Style Section.

I have GOT to go to bed by 9:00 (10:00 at the ABSOLUTE latest) or else I get weepy and emotional.

If left to my own devices I could live on buttered noodles, but I won’t because I’m a grown up…obviously.

The only way I wake up in a good mood is if my husband wakes me up. Alarm clocks make me angry.

I detest coffee (the smell, the taste, how hot it is) but drank it (several times a day even) in order to spend time with my then boyfriend, now husband. Oh, and I used to work at Starbucks but never drank their drinks.

I hate getting the mail and refuse to do so. Unless it’s around Christmas or my birthday when there might be cards in the mail. The hubs lets me open all the cards.

I always wanted an arm cast and braces growing up. I never broke anything nor needed braces. Such a bummer.

I’m an exceptional speller but I still need to sound out ‘together’ like my 3rd grade teacher explained it to me: to-get-her.

I have a fantasy of camping out in Yellowstone National Park but I’m fairly certain the reality would be me getting eaten by a bear, mauled by a cougar (NOT Courtney Cox) and head-butted by a bison all in the same day. Also, I don’t like bugs.

So do tell lovelies, what makes you you? Leave it in the comments.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Some Wednesday Morning Love


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Only Brownie Recipe You'll Ever Need

I’m what you’d call a brownie aficionado. I’ll eat most all brownies (except those nasty ones with the nuts in them. Why are those even around these days with all the nut allergy craziness and the fact that they are not good?)

They have to be just right – fudgy and a little gooey with a crisp crust on top so it snaps when you slice through them. And I found the perfect recipe. So perfect, in fact, that I feel I must share because if I eat one more brownie that is dense and dry I might cry. What are you people doing wrong?!!

This recipe originated with the actress Katherine Hepburn. We’re besties, Katherine and I.

Actually… we’re not besties, exactly. I have googled her and found out she liked brownies (soooo it’s kind of like we’re besties). She provided this recipe to a reporter and it’s since been on every food blog once or twice.

It’s easy enough that you’ll probably have most of the ingredients on hand. You can get mad props when you mention they are made from scratch. And possibly the best part, if you don’t want to share, an 8x8 pan is pretty much a single serving size (at least in my mind).

Items you’ll require:

1 stick of butter

2 squares of your favorite chocolate. (I use Ghirardelli’s)

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup all purpose flour

¼ teaspoon of salt

Enough powdered sugar to sprinkle on top

Pre-heat oven to 325. Grease an 8x8 cake pan. Melt the butter and chocolate together. I use the microwave. Add the sugar, eggs, vanilla and stir vigorously until well combined. Stir in the flour, salt. Pour the batter in the pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. I usually bake it for 30-32 and it comes out pretty gooey. For an added bit of deliciousness, I sprinkle powdered sugar on top.

I've been the only one home for 2 days. No judging.

If you make them, I’d love to hear how it turns out!

What is your go to dessert? Leave it in the comments.

**Updated: I use Ghiradelli's 4 ounce chocolate baking bars, which is divided into squares. I use 2 of those squares. Happy baking!