Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloweenie Weenies

Dear Internets,

As much as I love Halloween, I usually don't go for work-mandated costumes, because I usually end up looking something like this:


Gah! I thought you said I was going to be a witch, not a drag queen!


This year was actually not so bad, though. Picture 15 people dressed like this:



Then picture those people doing the Oompa Loompa dance around a guy who actually looks like Gene Wilder dressed as Willy Wonka. It wasn't a bad skit.

I think my favorite skit was a group who performed an [employer name redacted] High School pep rally. It was really elaborate. They were the EHS Halloweenies, and their mascot was a dachshund (aka weenie). They had band members, baton twirlers, foreign exchange students (in drag), football players, a principal, a superintendent who measured all the girls' skirts with a measuring stick, and a 40-something male cheerleader who can still tumble and do a pretty darn good toe touch. While the group performed their skit, they played a slide show in the background with pictures of all of them in high school. It was pretty awesome.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend Internets. I'll probably spend most of the weekend washing this face paint off.

Love,
Jane

P.S. The Oompa Loompa costumes only cost $10. The collar and cuffs are made of paper.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday I've got bullet points

Dear Internets,

It's Thursday afternoon. Do you know where your bullet points are? Mine are right here.
  • You know what the world needs? Another wedding planning blog. This one's mine and Achilles'.
  • I had to go to the lady doctor for my annual exam this morning. As usual, I got referred to get a mammogram/breast ultrasound. Even though this is becoming pretty standard for me, it still freaks me out a little. I'm sure it'll be fine, though.
  • I took one of those online career aptitude tests yesterday. After clicking through eleven hundred and ninety million advertisements, it told me I should be an undertaker/funeral director. Say what?? I think the result was due to all the ambiguous questions the test asked like, "T/F: I am a person who follows the rules." I mean, what rules did they mean? "No white after Labor Day" is a little different than "Do unto others." But maybe they are right and I would love being an undertaker. At least the test results were a little more interesting than most other online tests' results. Usually I just get something along the lines of "you would enjoy a helping occupation."
  • My friend's Queen tribute band is hosting a costume party on a boat tomorrow night. That should be fun. I sort of feel like Halloween is already over, though.
  • Another of my friends is hosting a Clue (aka Cluedo) costume party this Saturday. I'm going to be Mrs. White. ("Flames... Flames on the side of my face...") At first the plan was just to watch the movie and eat cupcakes, but I convinced them we should play a miniature game of Assassin using fake Clue weapons. This may end up either being very fun or very dangerous.
Any bullet points you'd like to add Internets?

Love ya,
Jane

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Wedding Weecap tWo

Dear Internets,

We now have a wedding website and a wedding Twitter. (<--- there are entirely too many "w's" in that sentence.) If you would like to check them out, leave me a comment or send me an email or a Tweet and I'll send you the link.

Toodles,
Jane

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Top 5 Tuesday

Dear Internets,

Firstly, thanks for letting me know that I'm not the only person who says "vicious cycle" instead of "vicious circle." Yesterday, I did my best to break out of my vicious cycle by eating three healthy meals and going to CrossFit. Unfortunately, I also had one of those awful nights in which my mind was going 95 miles an hour (or... a lot... of kilometers per hour) until 4:30 a.m. I only got about three hours of sleep, but I'm going to try to avoid letting that derail me.

I thought I'd try something a little different today. Back in the days of my second blog (I didn't really know what I was doing, so I started with TypePad blog and my own domain, then took a giant step backward to a MySpace blog), I used to do a weekly post called "Top 5 Tuesday." It was like my bullet points posts, only better organized. I thought a Top 5 Tuesday post would be a nice change of pace for this blog. (Like ham for Thanksgiving or something.)

Without further ado, here are The Top 5 Things That Kept Me From Sleeping Last Night:

5. Imaginary blog posts. For some reason, I start mentally composing blog posts when I can't sleep at night. I used to get up and actually write down my late night ideas. Then I realized that "great ideas!!" from 2:00 in the morning are rarely even coherent ideas the next morning. They still keep me awake though.

4. Work stuff. I've been stuck on a problem at work. It's boring and computer-y so I won't get into it, but it is not so fun.

3. Second job stuff. Things have been weird there lately. One of the office staff people called me about a minor problem a couple of weeks ago when Bailey was sick. I shouldn't have answered the phone (I'd been crying all day) but I did, and now I feel like they think I'm some sort of crazy emotional weirdo. I don't know whether to try to repair the damage or cut my losses and just have one job for a while.

2. Bailey. As I've mentioned before, he got really really sick a couple of weeks ago. The vet had no idea what was going on, and was saying scary stuff about possible liver or kidney failure. For a few hours, I really thought we were going to have to put Bailey to sleep. He is doing much better now, but he lost about 10% of his body weight, and the vet still isn't sure what happened. I have to make sure Bailey gets enough exercise for stress relief but not so much that he loses any more weight (he was a skinny dog before he lost any weight - he's skin and bones now) and be really careful about what I feed him. I'm sure worrying about the situation isn't really helping anything, but I can't help it.

1. Early onset wedding stress. Before I got engaged, I figured Achilles' and my wedding was going to be a completely low stress and fun celebration. I was not going to be a bridezilla; everyone, including my (one) bridesmaid, would wear what they wanted, eat cupcakes, and dance to fabulous music (even the Macarena, if they really wanted).

Ha. Hahahahahaha.

Internets, something turns screwy in people's brains when they hear the word "wedding." Among other things, I've already been told that I'm too old to wear white (I'm 28), our budget is "ridiculous" if it doesn't include fancy table linens (I don't even have the energy to summon words to express how little I care about table linens in any way, honestly), and that I'm nuts for wanting to allow kids (my 3-year-old nephew is one of my absolute favorite people in the world - I don't care if you have kids at *your* wedding, but I'd like for him to come to mine and Achilles'). One person already threatened not to come to the wedding over one of those three issues. The crazy part is, I'm sure the same people would freak out if I wore a red/pink/blue dress or we spent a ton of money or we *didn't* allow kids. It's hard (for me at least) to believe it, but there are actually people out there who want to be everyone's hop on backseat wedding coordinator.

***
Thanks for letting me vent, Internets. You're a real trooper. I'm feeling much better now that I wrote this all out.

Yours much less stressed-ly,
Jane

Monday, October 26, 2009

Vicious

Dear Internets,

Do you say vicious cycle or vicious circle? I've always said vicious cycle (which is apparently wrong), because that's the way I've always heard it in Texas. It makes me think of something like this:



A cycle seems like it would describe a situation that is frustrating, but not hopeless. After all, the cycle has something that kicked it off, so it could (at least in theory) have something that stops it from endlessly repeating itself.

Vicious circle always makes me think of something much more hopeless:



At any rate, I feel like I've been stuck in some type of vicious mathematical pattern lately. I've been eating terribly and not getting enough sleep, which has led me to skip going to the gym. Not going to the gym has led to further feelings of ickiness, which have caused me to be too tired to cook. When I'm too tired to cook, I end up eating too much fast food/restaurant food and drinking too much caffeine, which makes me feel terrible and not get enough sleep.

Lately, some of my favorite Internets talked about the importance (and relative ease) of being healthy, so I decided to break the vicious cycle/circle and do something about my bad patterns. I took Bailey for a jog yesterday, and made my breakfast this morning. (Achilles made my lunch because he's a sweetheart). We'll head to CrossFit tonight.

The only problem I'm having is that I want to feel better *instantly* and suddenly become Superwoman in every area of my life. Hopefully, I can learn to be patient so I don't fall right back into old habits.

Any vicious cycles/circles you're trying to avoid?

Love always,
Jane

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Of dust and mud and poop

Dear Internets,

Over the past few months, I've been obsessed with the U.S. Drought Monitor website. Particularly, I've been obsessed with watching the drought severity in Texas.



As it has (finally) started raining again this fall, it has been nice to watch the part of the map over Travis County (Austin) get progressively lighter in color, rather than stay dark brown week after week like it did this summer. It has also been nice to watch the grass get greener and to see actual wildlife around occasionally.

Since I took horseback riding back up this summer, I've been taking a lesson once or twice a month at a riding stable near my house. The only downside to all the rain we've been having is that my lessons have been frequently canceled due to the rain.

This week, the weather and my schedule finally matched up, and I was able to go out for a trail ride. My riding instructor warned me that most of the ground was fairly dry, but that there were a couple of places where it was soupy so I should be careful.

I watched my step as I went to get Bart, the old gelding used for lessons. Most of the ground in his pen was fairly squishy, so I did my best to step on the dry parts. Just as I was about to reach Bart, I stepped on what I thought was a small, dry piece of manure. Then I learned a horrible lesson.

Apparently damp manure expands in size (a lot). As soon as I put my weight down on my foot, the ground collapsed beneath my feet, and I sank about a foot and a half into manure. I was literally knee-deep in poo.

It wasn't the best way to start the weekend, I suppose, but after I got myself out of the poop, we actually had a pretty fun trail ride. And now I know better than to toss the "knee deep in poo" expression around cavalierly, lest karma decide to teach me another lesson.

Have a wonderful weekend Internets!

Love,
Jane

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Wedding Weecap

Dear Internets,

I don't want to annoy anyone by talking too much about wedding stuff on this blog. But since a few people asked for details, I figured I'd give a quick update.

We have a location (Zilker Clubhouse - I've wanted to get married there since I was 17, and it overlooks the park where Achilles proposed) and a date (3/27/2010). I picked out my dress yesterday.

Here's the dress I almost bought* - I love it, but it is just too formal for me. Maybe someday I'll win an Academy Award or something and wear a fancy dress like this, only without the train, because that would just be weird.



Or maybe I'll just stick to making cupcakes and getting distracted by butterflies. Anyhoodles.

Happy Wednesday!

Love,
Jane

*OK, so technically, I *did* buy the dress, decided I had made the wrong decision when everyone told me they liked the other (polar opposite) finalist better, freaked out, and begged (nicely) to be allowed to exchange it for the other dress. I hope this will be my one and only "Bridezilla" moment. I am going to send cookies and a gift card to the saleslady who helped me to thank her for putting up with my Crazy. She was a sweatheart.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Halloween 2.0

Dear Internets,

This year, I think I have set a personal record for fewest Halloween-related posts. (Well, at least a record for fewest Halloween-related posts actuall posted in October.) This is not something I'm proud of, and I plan to do my best to rectify this situation immediately.

Last week, Achilles and I had our annual Halloween kids' movie night for grown-ups. Actually, on second thought my sister and brother-in-law stopped by with my niece and nephew for a little while, so it wasn't technically just grown-ups this year. Oh well. I may have succeeded in convincing Charlie (my nephew) that I always have a table full of cupcakes and candy, and kids' movies in the DVD player, and am therefore the coolest grown-up ever. We'll see.

Here are the pictures. Warning: there are lots.


The food table, before I added the 1950's housewife appetizers (mini quiches, croissant-wrapped mini sausages, etc) and apples. This year I decided to do caramel cream cheese apple dip rather than have a crock pot of melted caramel. I think it was a good choice - the cream cheese dip was delicious, and seemed to be a big hit. I *almost* got Charlie to try some by offering to let him keep one of the little skeletons if he would take one bite, but he thought the better of it at the last minute. Sadly, I did not get any pictures of the dip - I was too busy eating it.


I went a little crazy with the cupcake decorations (who, me?) and made several different styles and sizes. They are all devil's food cupcakes with chocolate ganache. The "dirt" on the tombstone cupcakes is crushed up chocolate cookies. The white cupcakes have a layer of marshmallow fondant.


The two cupcakes on the right (the green RIP cupcake w/skull and the mini cupcake w/foot) were my favorites. I made the tombstones and the bones/body parts out of marshmallow fondant. Allegedly, marshmallow fondant is not the right tool for this. Granted, the tombstones had to be propped up with spider rings, but I am kind of unabashedly proud of the foot. It was about 3/4 of an inch from knee to tiny toes. It's hard to tell from the picture, but it sort of looked like I'd baked one of The Borrowers into a cupcake.


Jimmy Hoffa mystery solved - he is in the belly of one of my coworkers. Achilles was worried I was somehow jinxing Texas football with the OU cupcake. I refuse to take credit for that game one way or the other.


Fondant cupcakes. The fondant tasted like non-stale Marshmallow Peeps. Not really my cup of tea, but pretty decent tasting for fondant.


Achilles made another beer pumpkin. He put dry ice inside the pumpkin, so it looked like the beer was foaming over. It was really cool.


I dressed up as Sandra Dee and/or a future 1950's housewife. As for why Achilles took that picture from such a weird angle, I do not know. At least I think it's the picture angle that is causing my skirt to look like it is swallowing me alive. I could be wrong.


My mom made the poodle skirt for me when I was in junior high. I gave it on to one of my younger cousins when I went to college. My cousin gave it back this year when she got married. (I feel so old sometimes.) Bailey did not approve of the poodle.


Achilles was a 1970's detective. His wig was both intriguing and terrifying.


Of course, Bailey had to dress up too.


Bailey is staring distrustfully at the stuffed witch's cat from the beer pumpkin picture. I think he wants to either give it an unfair trial and burn it at the stake, or rip it apart out and scatter its stuffing all over the kitchen. It's a tough call.


High five for old school Halloween!

Love,
Jane

P.S. Here is the Lucha Libre cupcake picture from a million years ago. Whoopsie! This is why I avoid my archives...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

As promised

Dear Internets,

Four years ago, a friend convinced me that I should buy an extra 3-day pass to ACL Fest, and sell the ticket once the festival sold out.

By early summer, ACL Fest still hadn't sold out. The friend who suggested I buy the extra ticket flaked out completely and decided not to go to the festival at all. I had an extra ticket and no one to go with.

On an impulse, I offered my extra ticket to a friend who was in Arkansas finishing up his last year of law school. Abe and I had kept in touch off and on since high school, but had recently been emailing each other more frequently: he had torn his Achilles tendon earlier that summer at an ultimate frisbee tournament and, since he couldn't drive or walk well, had been essentially housebound for several months. I had an insane boss whose weird demands kept me from having a social life. We were both having fairly miserable summers.

To my surprise, Abe said he'd love to take my extra ticket. He only had one class on Fridays that fall, and he figured he'd be able to skip it and ride down to Austin with an old college roommate who was also attending ACL Fest. Besides, he said, since he had torn his Achilles tendon and not his ACL, he wouldn't be exceeding the festival's irony quotient.

So, three years ago Abe, his former roommate Ian, and Ian's friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend Jennifer piled into Ian's car and drove down to Austin for ACL Fest 2006.

That weekend we danced like hippies at Ray LaMontagne and sang along with Willie Nelson and tried our best to stay cool in the 100+ degree heat. I laughed so much my face hurt. By the third night, I was pretty sure I never wanted the weekend to end.

Unfortunately, the weather seemed to have other plans. That Sunday night, a major thunderstorm hit just before Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (the headliners) were supposed to take the stage. When the band still hadn't taken the stage 30 minutes into their allotted time slot, thousands of other festival-goers headed home, assuming the lightening wouldn't stop and the band wouldn't be allowed to play. Abe, Jennifer, Ian and I huddled near the concession stands, still holding out hope.

Finally, the lightening and thunder stopped and the band took the stage. As the opening bars to "Listen to Her Heart" began to play, I touched Abe's arm to let him know that Jennifer and I were going to move closer to the stage. As he looked down at me, it hit me like a ton of bricks: I really liked this guy.

We danced and sang in the rain like we were the only people in the world. At some point during the concert, Abe put his hand on my shoulder. "I owe you a ticket to ACL Fest next year," he said.

By ACL Fest 2007, Abe had finished law school and moved back to Austin, and I had just purchased my condo. We had only been officially dating for a few months, so we spent the festival staring moonily into each others' eyes and holding hands and likely being fairly obnoxious.

Two weeks before ACL Fest 2008, Abe moved in with me to my condo.

And two weeks ago, Abe knelt down in the mud at ACL Fest 2009. He told me that on the way home from the festival three years ago, he'd told Jennifer and Ian that he was going to marry me someday. He held my hand and asked me to marry him, and I cried and said yes, and he gave me a ring.

And hopefully, this is the part where we live happily ever after.

Love,
Jane

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The very first song that the radio sang

Dear Internets,

Last night, I heard the Old 97's (Barrier Reef!) on the regular radio!

I've heard the Old 97's on the radio before - on NPR's "Fresh Air" and local NPR's "Texas Music Matters," on KGSR (Austin's Texas/old people music station), and once in Dallas on my way to an Old 97's concert.

But this was a mainstream country station! (Do they call them top 40 country stations?*) After the song was over, the DJ mentioned "lead singer Rhett Miller's great new band, Rhett and The Serial Lady Killers**." I felt like I had slipped into an alternate universe where music I like played on the radio and Arrested Development came on after Veronica Mars on Tuesday nights. I almost sent the DJ flowers.

It was magical.

Love,
Jane

*Is it OK to admit that I sometimes troll country radio in hopes of hearing Taylor Swift songs? It's kind of a guilty pleasure. Don't judge me.
**My imaginary Old 97's tribute band's name is The Lights Fantastic. I wish I had posted that before Rhett Miller's new band came out, because now it just looks like I'm copying. But that's OK.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

You rock, Internets

Dear Internets,

Thank you so much for your sweet comments. I am very excited and only slightly overwhelmed, which I figure is pretty much standard for this stage in the game.

I've been working on writing a post about how Achilles proposed, but it's taking me longer than I planned. Firstly, there's a lot of back story, and I'm not the world's greatest storyteller. (I don't tend to be a very linear thinker, which leads me to write stories that don't have a beginning, middle, and/or end.) Secondly, Bailey had a bit of a health scare this week, and I've been a little shaken up about it. He's much better now, but I still get a little weepy sobby thinking about the whole ordeal.

Anyhoodles,
thank you so much for being awesome, Internets. You pretty much rock my socks off.

Love,
Jane

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gratuitous Baby Horses

Dear Internets,

I am a pretty big fan of twin baby anythings, but these guys are particularly cute:



I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Budweiser's advertising company finds out about the little guys and we get the Best Super Bowl Commercial Ever OMG PWNIES.

But that is just me.

Love ya!
Jane