Thursday, January 28, 2016

What's Making Me Happy This Week

// Finishing the Patrick Melrose novels audiobook. The fifth novel in the series isn't available as an audiobook from the library so I've started reading the physical copy. As I started this book I recognized the narrator from the other incredibly bleak English novel I listened to recently, A God in Ruins. Apparently if you need pathos, Alex Jennings is your man.

// Renting cameras to compare them - thanks for this suggestion Jay! I'm looking for a very small, user-friendly camera with wifi. Because I'd like to learn the basics of photography I bought another recommendation and its workbook. (Any else feel inundated and intimidated by the crush of photos we all have now? Rachael wrote beautifully about it today. What are your strategies?)

// Remembering how much I want to visit White Sands, New Mexico, and pulling out the calendar to make that happen.

// Luke's improvement upon bulletproof coffee: so good. One cup of coffee + one tablespoon of unsalted grassfed butter + one tablespoon of MCT oil + splash of cream + splash of vanilla + sprinkle of cinnamon + squirt of stevia. Blended in Vitamix. I'll talk more about our low carb diet after we've been at it for a while (it's been 4 weeks) but we agree this breakfast is great - filling and energizing.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Wisdom and inspiration from the camera roll.

For when you wish you had done things differently...

Please buy me this zebra shirt.

Now, the interiors. What do they all have in common? Well, they aren't littered with toys, errant pieces of construction paper to slip on, single boots lying squarely in egress areas, and there isn't a hint of the dried banana residue that coats every surface of my home.

Someone teach me how to do this!

And this!

Plant Kingdom.

Brass menagerie.

I saw these lamps at Target and they looked really pricey but were only forty or fifty bucks.

Not five minutes before I saw this Luke pulled some chili out of the microwave and barked "&*#$ this bowl is hot and the food is completely cold!" Hello, Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.


I want to be a lap swimmer! This weekend we stopped into the gym that I belong to but don't frequent, probably because iron class attendance is my priority, and it has an indoor lap pool and an outdoor recreation pool AND a fantastic child care area. I was reminded that I've always wanted to be a lap swimmer (something I've never done, I need lessons) and that C would love the outdoor part when it warms up (it's only 70 right now, hahaha snowbound folks).

 (As the most important part of any venture is the apparel, I was browsing swimsuits and found this and laughed to think how much my flanks would resemble a delicious, delicious pan of baklava.)

Counter space and big windows. (Kid and Coe is a family-geared version of Airbnb).

All is calm, all is bright...

Could Dad make two of these? I texted my mom.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Wintertime and the Living Is Easy

We bought C a bike for her birthday and gave it to her a week early - why not?

Josie has a helmet too, to get in the habit. Of course she clambered on the bike as well and I said 'we should have bought two' and Luke replied that's going to be standard.

We went to Central Market for chicharrones (carb free and as Luke likes to remind me, all the hair is singed off! #gag), steak, vegetables, and the things you don't know you need until you get there, like goat butter and an $18 bag of macadamia nuts (the bulk section can really creep up on you). Josie has learned the word ball, and just like C did, starts squealing and pointing at every circle. There are large cut-outs of fruit hanging throughout the store for the citrus promotion and Josie was beside herself. BAH! BAH! BAH! Both girls enjoy peering into the tank next to the seafood counter at the "cwabs and the wopsters." It's a playground for young and old alike.

Sunday morning breakfast date at Thousand Oaks Cafe.

This family's really into sun protection.

C saw my turquoise eyeshadow and exclaimed, "Your mustache is blue!"

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Day

0430 Alarm goes off. Pull on gym clothes, drive to Alamo 180 for

0500 Iron class. Weights, high intensity work, endurance. We're in the middle of a 2 week burpee challenge: class concludes with as many burpees as possible in ten minutes. Today was my most so far, 77.

I wish my form were this good.

I try to go class every day but 3-4 times a week is the actuality - Luke is out of town, I have a 7 am conference, Josie wakes up ready to play at 3 am.

0600 If we need something (bananas, milk, and toilet paper are the emergency items, in that order), go to grocery store across the street from the gym. Once a man in front of me bought two items only: a plastic tub of cotton candy and a tube of KY jelly. As then, I proceed with no comment.

0630-0715 Get ready for the day.

Drive to work. Work.

1630 Leave work, pick up Luke, pick up girls (this is easiest with two people, given 57 pounds of toddler and 15 pounds of unwieldy stuff).

1700-1800 Dinner. It turns out Josie loves saag paneer. In keeping with our low carb lifestyle change, I'm trying to cajole the girls into more protein and veggies -- more whole foods, really -- and less frequent pasta and quesadillas. C loves hummus. Both will eat an astonishing amount of cottage cheese.
1800-2000 Kids remove every toy from its storage place; do not play with them. I try to prepare more meals - a batch of chili, scramble eggs, etc.

2000 Josie goes to bed without much fuss. But will she stay asleep?! As we peered over her last week, cooing Goodnight, Josie and placing her dog under her arm, she waved goodbye by rotating her little hand right by her face, that arm clutching her dog and the other hand holding the knitted blanket. So precious.

2000-2100 The ever-lengthening bedtime routine of Clementine. Two books, stories, snuggles, at least one I NEED TO GO POTTY, repeat snuggle steps, a plea for WATER, I'M FIRSTY.

2100 Hopefully C is asleep or at least singing to herself happily. If Luke hasn't been home, now I start washing the dishes, packing the lunches, putting together more meals for Luke and me, tidying up the house kicking debris aside. I view this as quality podcast and audiobook listening time and re-casting it in that light, instead of UGH CHORES I'M TIRED, has made a huge difference.

OMG IT'S 2200 all of a sudden. I have to be up in six and a half hours! Groan... Wash face. Set out gym and work clothes for the next day - the ideal but infrequent situation is my leaving the house with everyone still asleep in the morning. This requires me to slip around like a thief in my own home. Lately, the need for stealth evaporates promptly at 6:25 with C calling Mommy! Daddy! I'm a-WAKE!

If Luke is home at night I usually manage to get the lunches packed and meal prep done during dinner and playtime. Then I do have a little bit of time to do all the things I want to do (read for fun*, read for work, work on a cross-stitch project, work on the blog, plans that come to me in a flash and depart as quickly - like watching and then practicing braid tutorials on Youtube) but by this time I don't want to do what I want to do because I've been doing for 16 hours! So maybe I'll go to bed or watch an episode of Top Chef on the tablet. I fall asleep listening to an audiobook, setting the timer for 5 minutes. Every morning I have to back up 4 minutes and 40 seconds because of my nonexistent sleep onset latency (healthy? unhealthy? both?)

*books that I'm dying to read, cannot quite seem to start: intro to photography (x several), Letters of Note, Good Prose, The Sense of Style: A Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, John Irving's new book Avenue of Mysteries ... and that's just what is at arm's length. I usually manage to get each week's New Yorker and New York magazine read by skimming an article or two while the kids play or the brussel sprouts roast. Still spending way too much time on the phone, keeping me from actual enrichment and intellectual nourishment.

Friday is wonderful - I like work, I like the late night with no looming 4:30 alarm (iron class is at 9 on Saturday, oh the luxury!), I like the no lunches-to-be-packed. We watch Daniel Tiger and The Ballet Cracker and relax. We are so, so lucky.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What's Making Me Happy This Week

//  We've been AMRAPing to this remixed run cadence in iron class. I haven't heard it before (or of the show it's from) and it's really catchy (if you need a tempo/respond to the phrase fired up).

//  This made me laugh. (Thanks M.E.!)

//  I bought The Indestructible Houseplant as a reference and am so surprised by how delightful and inspiring the writing is. I ordered her previous book The Unexpected Houseplant before I finished the introduction. (Waiting for this from the library... because even when my plants don't die, they don't necessarily grow). I have ten plants in the kitchen and they make me so happy, especially the neon pothos.

//  Paula's Choice launched two lines for redness and sensitive skin today! Must...finish...what...I...have...

//  Josie spinning.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Long Weekend


Target after school for a friend's present and dinner, a soft pretzel.


Tuesday night: Josie vomits, stays home the next day per school policy.
Thursday night: Clem vomits - I FREW UP IN MY SHEETS! - is given a cup of water by Luke (with other measures). Luke feels somewhat ill. C stays home.
Friday night: After putting Josie to bed, I am suddenly sick. C watches as I throw up - YOU FROWING UP, MOMMY? Luke is out of town and I fervently hope this is only a few-hour thing (it was).

Sitting back on my heels, C said, "do you want a cup of water, Mommy?" and filled up a cup and handed it to me. I was amazed and touched to see her empathy blossom and for her to apply what Luke did for her to our situation. Then:

Do you remember when I frew up yesta-day? In my sheets?

Do you remember when you frew up, Mommy? (About 90 seconds had elapsed and we were still in the bathroom.) Yes I do...

OK gross anecdotes over.

At some point I made these egg cups (egg and avocado in ham, baked in a cupcake tin for 20 minutes at 400 degrees). Not as pretty as the recipe photo (top panel, she types needlessly) and less than the sum of its parts, I'd say.

Shopping the new Hanna Andersson catalog. Each time through she picked out the pink two piece bathing suit "WITH THE HAT!"

A glimpse into our bedroom oasis.

First watch of The Little Mermaid. 50% because I want to get her watching a movie I want to watch (sorry, Aristocats) and 50% because I don't think she knows what a mermaid is and they adorn her upcoming birthday bike!

Luke and I went on a Sunday morning date to a diner - steak and eggs for me, pork chops and eggs for him. This low carb thing is very do-able but it's no short stack. Miss you, pancakes. We read the paper a bit and caught up and went to Lakeshore (kinetic sand is cool, if they'd stop eating it).

First friend birthday party -- at the Little Gym. Cake and pizza preceded by an hour of vigorous play. It was great. C announced as Luke buckled her in to go home -- I want to go to Sidney's birthday tomorrow!

She was a blur most of the time.

Friday, January 15, 2016

My Beauty Routine

.... bwhahaha! Lately I've been paying more attention to a dedicated skincare routine and even wearing makeup! - I've found some great stuff that I want to share with you.

First and foremost I've been using Retin-A and finally following Quenby's advice to LET YOUR FACE DRY COMPLETELY. I wash my face, apply toner, exfoliant, serum + booster, let dry for 15-20 minutes (yoga/Get To Work Book/pack lunches/mindless scrolling/I just joined Skillshare and omg I can't wait to fall down that rabbit hole), then Retin-A and moisturizer. Letting my skin dry and being consistent with daily or every-other-day application has mitigated dryness, redness, and flaking considerably.

I enjoy the ritual of it all.


Cleansers and such: It turns out I really love rubbing oil on my face. Remember how oil and fat were anathema for so long but now everything is bacon, prime rib, grassfed butter, argan and essentials oils? Well I love it. It's probably terrible for my skin type but I adore Josie Maran's cleansing oil and its drugstore counterpart (absolutely the same, I'm certain -- see a discussion of the phenomenon that drives my every purchase here). I'm using the Paula's Choice advanced kit for wrinkles + breakouts (the kit pictured below plus the weekly foaming treatment, moisturizer, and antioxidant serum). I've used up the exfoliant in this kit and am using another PC exfoliant that was a gift with purchase (still going at -- I like the face-feel of the Resist product more but as I'm applying this at night, no big deal.

images via Sephora and

I add a few drops of C15 booster (ferulic acid + vitamins C and E) to the antioxidant serum and moisturize either with a PC moisturizer or oil (a sample that I like but don't feel strongly enough about to purchase). [For a description of how to use PC products with a retinol/retinoid, click here].

Other cleansers: My sister gave me a Clarisonic that I use several times a week in the morning. Beautypedia (a Paula's Choice website) raved about First Aid Beauty's Milk Oil Conditioning Cleanser. I like it but the pump struggle is real.  

Sun protection and makeup: I wear at least SPF 30 everyday on my face. My new fave is Perricone MD's Photo Plasma which despite being rather heavy doesn't translate to shininess. Bonus points for titanium dioxide. Maybe I'm hook, line, and sinker for the tagline - No Makeup Makeup - but I love the No Foundation Foundation, No Lipstick Lipsticks (other colors only available as a kit), and No Eyeshadow Eyeshadow -- my enthusiasm for which even confounds me because it's freaking invisible. I'm not saying it makes sense, folks. I like most of the PC facial sunscreens - all are available as single use samples for $1. So much of sunscreen is desired finish and acceptable texture and this is great way to try out several.

** IMPORTANT NOTE: I'm not a dermatologist, just a gal who's enthusiastic about smearing things on her integument. None of this is advice - it's just reporting from the front lines of my medicine cabinet. **

Lipsticks: Armani sheers all the way.

Armani CC Luminessence cream remains my all-time favorite. It has a low Beautypedia rating but I don't care. I love it. On the rare occasion that I apply makeup to go out at night, I use Armani Luminous Silk - beyond fabulous. On a typical day I'll wear sunscreen and add a bit of coverage with the Luminous Silk compact and that's it.

Beautyblender and Blotterazi: a real upgrade from the finger-schmear application technique I usually employ. I like that I use more product because I have so many little bottles hanging around. (Following Gretchen Rubin's advice to use it up!) Blotterazi is a fantastic upgrade from those little papers.

images via

Other Paula's Choice products that I love: the eye cream, body butter (not greasy and a tube not a tub - this stuff is awesome), heavy duty moisturizer/mask (I used this heavily post-laser treatment... more on that later), body lotions with 10% AHA and retinol.

Neurotoxins and laser blasts: I've gotten Botox about every 8-12 months since age 30. Once I'm able to establish a routine I'll increase that to 2-3 a year. Botox is the greatest. I have my forehead, crow's feet, and glabella (the 11 crease between eyebrows) injected. I had my first ablative and non-ablative laser treatment two months ago - upcoming post!

Now for the best part! Click on over to Paula's Choice for $10 off your first order!* I love this company -- their customer service is fantastic and the products are domestically sourced and made in the USA. No animal testing. No fragrance. No bogus claims. There are frequent sales, free shipping promotions, a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and free samples with each purchase.

*if you use this link and purchase items, I receive $10 toward PC products. SO GET SHOPPING. I kid. Then you can refer-a-friend and get money money money.

As I read over all this, I think wow, that's a lot of stuff and wow, that's a lot of money. I suppose some people spend a lot on makeup - actual colors of makeup - and while I have some of that too, I focus on looking like the best barefaced version of myself, both au naturel and made up. I will never, ever buy a contouring kit, for example. That is too much time/effort/skill level in a way that a seven-step-in-under-three-minutes skincare routine isn't to me. I live by the 'ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' maxim -- prophylactic Botox, sunscreen and hat use, retinoids, laser for wrinkles/skin tone - and because I'm actually kind of lazy - I've enjoyed eyelash extensions and keratin treatments by the same principle of investing 2 hours on a Saturday in order to greatly streamline getting ready each morning for several weeks to months.

Happy long weekend, lovers! I'd love to hear about the products, potions, and procedures you swear by.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What's Making Me Happy This Week

// Luke's plating of oven-baked scallops, peas, green beans, and sriracha. Postscript: don't bake scallops, pan sear them. Crust is a must.

// Keeping up with meal prep. Scrambled eggs reheat pretty well.

// Tonight I'm looking forward to broiling a banana, drizzling with a little bananas foster sauce, and topping with whipped cream. (Actual whipped cream - I don't know why but I feel that's important to convey.) Dinner is slow cooker beef stew sans vegetables. Checks, balances.

// Josiecat in a cat hat. (Very cute here -- last night when she was covered in vomit and 20 minutes later covered me in vomit, not so cute).

// Finally getting some nagging projects done at work so I don't feel like this anymore:

Hope your week is truly outrageous!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Coffee Date

Sunday morning coffee date at Paramour. We took the paper but ended up filling out paperwork (hashtag adulting), updating my phone and backing up my photos (hashtag when the huzcat adults for you), and chatting with the lovely baristas.

Rooftop view. That tower makes a cameo appearance in Luke's video.

Trying out a new silhouette after years of tunic over leggings. WHAT ELSE WILL 2016 HOLD?!

jeans; shoes; both ridiculous; I love them

Friday, January 8, 2016

What's Making Me Happy This Week

// Learning about this Netflix series about QE2's life - can't wait to watch this! (I wish it would cover the present day and somehow expose that Kate wears extensions, because whose hair gets THICKER after kids? These are the things I think about.)

// Because I want extensions.

// Justin's white chocolate peanut butter cups. They're organic ok guys?!

// New audiobook: The Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn. Devastating. Heavy and expert and perfect use of similes and metaphors. Also, devastating.

// The Internet shares my ardor for Making A Murderer's defense team Dean Strang and Jerry Buting. Why? (no spoilers here) Because they convey such empathy and compassion and Atticus Finchiness and moral outrage sans righteous. Plus intelligence and eloquence. I'M VOTING STRANG AND BUTING 2016!

// Making A Murderer has been weighing so heavily on my mind that I just bought the current season of Top Chef to defervesce, media-wise.

// Loving the trial size of Photo Plasma. Pros: nice finish and texture, not shiny, titanium dioxide sunscreen without a whitish cast. Cons: you have to dip your finger into it rather than dispense with a pump, a tiny pot of it is $20. Sidenote: I really need to take the Sephora app off my phone, all these little packages just keep showing up...

// Gif keyboard again. This pug being held aloft, paddling. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year's Weekend

Another four day weekend! My in-laws are in town and they accompanied Luke to the TV station to film his promo for his NYE gig at La Cantera.

The resort just underwent a huge makeover and has a spa complex opening soon that I'm gonna have to explore. For you. You're welcome.

Pat and John watched the girls and I accompanied Luke to La Cantera - he dropped me off across the parkway at the mall (ostensibly to return a pair of shoes) while he loaded in his gear and had soundcheck. I went to Sephora to redeem a mascara voucher, bought a ridiculous patchwork rabbit fur purse from Jasmine, a super sweet salesperson I always chat with, and was caught bread-handed at the Bistro with a carb-bomb dessert by Luke. Nabbed! Anyway, solo mall-wandering plus mini date was just divine. 

photo by Mike Gomez

And then! The next day Pat and John treated us to a night at the new Hotel Emma. The lobby is full of wonderful little nooks ('microenvironments'*, Luke tells me). I bought the current issue of Lucky Peach at grocer/coffee/eatery Larder and we read here for a bit.

*reminded me of an interesting book from a while ago with a discussion of the prospect versus refuge concept that I think about all the time.

I've decided to become a hat-wearer.

The rooms are so beautiful and beautifully appointed. Even the toiletries smelled fabulous - I find myself today reaallly wanting a $36 bottle of body wash. The hotel has a signature scent that I brought home in the form of a candle from the most curated and lovely hotel gift shop I've ever been in. The lighting, the sheets, the aroma, the brass fixtures, the heavy curtains, the margaritas upon check-in -  the atmosphere was so sumptuous and sensuous. Ooo la la!

Too many superlatives sound suspicious but the shower did have the highest water pressure ever.

I'm going to wear hats because I don't brush my hair, which is both true and not a surprise to anyone.

Dinner at Supper, the hotel restaurant. On the way to our table I saw the kitchen-adjacent chef's table was unoccupied and asked to be seated there.

We faced the grill and looked directly into the kitchen.

We ordered too many dishes anyway but the sous chef brought us small plates of many more. Our server was delightful, the wine was delicious*, and we laughed and talked and ate too much and it was wonderful.

*simultaneously the most expensive bottle of wine I've had and the cheapest one on the menu

A weekend in San Antonio -- it's a getaway I heartily recommend!

In the morning we ran into friends on their way to brunch at our destination so we had fun catching up. During the meal Pat sent a photo of Josie where she Turned Into A Little Kid. She's looked like a baby to me until this moment. Bittersweet. And now we're calling her Bam Bam, although I realize now we meant Pebbles.

We spent Saturday and Sunday around the house and binge-watching Making A Murderer, an experience that threatens to send me down an Internet rabbit hole for weeks. I'm equal parts outraged and mystified.

The long weekend was so restorative in terms of time away as a couple and home time with the fam, and I was able to cook a lot. The grocery planning, the trip to the store where Clem sings "Oh My Darling Clementine" at the top of her lungs, the cooking - I love the entire process. I made pork tenderloin with cranberry sauce, broiled steak, roasted Italian sausages Luke claimed were 'the best ever', roasted a lot of veggies, tried out ATK's paleo chicken wings, made my favorite sausage and squash sheet pan supper, whipped up baked custard in the blender (very similar to this), and a flourless chocolate cake because I had twelve bars of bittersweet chocolate in the pantry. Eight more to go. I need to work more fish and shellfish into our meals ... but, ugh, fish.

I'm off to a pretty good start with my January goals: one weekend of meal prep, finished Carrie Brownstein's memoir, one date with Luke, 1.5 days of weekday vacation scheduled to de-clutter the house. I'm following along with Apartment Therapy's January Cure.

 Happy 2016!