Friday, December 28, 2012

Keep it Klassy

I realized I have asked a single question too often within the last week.  I've asked co-workers, friends and family the same question.  Here is the question:

Is it hot in here or am I just drunk?

So far, the answer has been "it is hot in here".  Followed by "and, yes, you are drunk".

Being ladylike it SO boring.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas to Me

I did something very un-Amercian this Christmas.  I only bought presents for the kids in my family.  Nephews and nieces got one present a piece.  No presents were bought for the adults.  Shocking, I know.

In an effort to continue on my road to being financially responsible I only bought what I could afford for the kids.  As for my brothers' households I ended up making them three separate dinners, froze them and included cooking/heating instructions with each of the dishes.  Each meal can feed at least 8.  If you calculate the meals to eating out ... their gifts are worth about $240.  They get a home cooked meal without having to dirty a mixing bowl or getting special ingredients at the store.  And those meals are perfect when life gets hectic.

I ended up getting the best Christmas present this year; a financially stable January 2013.

Here is the interesting thing ... Christmas with my family was still fantastic no matter the number of presents.  The kids loved opening up presents (I could have wrapped an empty box and they would have loved it) and we spent time together as a family.

Sometimes we (as a culture) get so consumed with buying more, bigger and newer that we lose sight of what we really need.  I needed to spend time with my family and enjoy their company.  I needed to not spend beyond my budget if I wanted to be able to do more for them in the future.  And I needed to prove to myself that my wants are never better than my needs.
I needed a snowman.  So I built one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holidays Schmolidays

I love the holidays.  Spending time with friends and family, sleeping in, reading books, and just good ol' relaxation are a few of my favorite things.
Yes, I did bust out in song.  And I bet you are singing it in your head, too.
However, I loathe work around the holidays.  Everyone goes from "crazy busy" to "batshit crazy" to "the world's imploding" on the scale of trying to get work done.  Fiscal deadlines, last minute projects, and a short schedule is the reason for this fanatical display of the professionals' freak out moments.  While your co-workers may be wearing Santa hats and wishing you good cheer on the inside their lower intestine is being tied in knots over not finishing a quarterly report.

(You are welcome for not showing THAT picture.)

I can't wait for my holiday break to spend with family and friends.  Cocktails, leisure sipping of coffee, strolling around the neighborhood, laughing, and generally forgetting about all responsibilities for a week are a few of my SERIOUSLY favorite things.  It'll allow for my lower intestine to unwind and lower my threat level from "the world's imploding" to "batshit crazy".

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dallas Flea Market

Yesterday, I ventured to the monthly Dallas Flea Market.  I like to shop local and the flea market offered the perfect venue to do so.  Parking is free and it costs $5 to enter.
The various booths include jewelry, clothes, furniture, artwork, antiques, food, candles, dog collars ... there is a lot of variety.  Each booth is managed by the artist or owner and it is a lot of fun to hear how they have created their business.  I definitely recommend exploring the Dallas Flea Market and finding one of a kind gifts or friends.  Or for yourself ... I won't judge.

3 Bears Studio - -
One of my favorite vendors of the day!  I will probably buy a crap load of the art because I adore quirky and whimsy.

Christina Walker -
Interesting cards made from her photos.  You can send someone a handmade card without YOU having to make the card.  Just sign, seal, deliver and it'll look like you are as crafty as Christina Walker.

F. is for Frank - -
I love this jewelry because I haven't seen anything like it out there yet.  It is fresh, cool and curious.

Folksie - -
Cool chevron designs, unique bags, handmade clothing, and very comfy cowl scarves (I bought a few).  They can also be found in Bishop Arts at Indie Genius at 409 N. Zang Blvd.

Le Gourd on Blue -
These carved gourds are really interesting and one of a kind.  The vendor had them lit up with bulbs inside to show off the intricate details.

Hip & Hippie -
Absolutely love their candles!  The paper on the candles should be planted because they have wildflower seeds in the paper.  Every part of the product is sustainable and recyclable.
Burning in my house as I'm writing this post.  Smells lovely!
Each candle comes with a charm.
Happy Cactus Designs - - Twitter @hapcactus
Seriously cool designs on cards.  Makes me want to go back to snail mail and write some very deserving friends.  In fact, I was so inspired I bought some of their cards so I could do just that!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Charts are Fantastic (Part 3)

I previously posted about my love of charts, here and here.  I felt like I needed to renew that love affair with this post.  Enjoy!

The number of people that like to do "the wave" at sporting events.

Alcohol consumption during the holidays.
Baked a pie and sharing it with friends.

Baked a second pie and kept it home for yourself.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Shout Out: KAZE Sushi & Hibachi Restaurant

I met my brother the day before Thanksgiving for lunch.  When we were thinking about food options I chose sushi as I imagined he and I would not be having raw fish for Thanksgiving.  I'm pretty sure the pilgrims didn't have sushi at the first Thanksgiving.  However, they probably didn't have green bean casserole, either.
Located at the northwest corner of Greenville and Walnut Hill.
Anyway, I told my brother to meet me at KAZE Sushi & Hibachi Restaurant in Dallas.  I had been there once before for a friend's birthday dinner and it was pretty good.  Plus, the location was perfect for me while I was running errands and for my brother who was working from home.

I was pleasantly surprised that KAZE has a lunch special; $8.95 gets you a salad, soup and five small plates of sushi.  And, the best part, the sushi comes on a conveyor belt!  Yes, a conveyor belt of food.  The sushi is cut in front of you and the chefs put it on the revolving conveyor belt that runs the parameter of the sushi pit.  I don't know if where the chefs stand is called the sushi pit but that's what I'm calling it.
The conveyor sushi is like the ring girl in a boxing ring ... showing off the goods.
The sushi is really good quality.  The lunch special is perfect because you get to try out different rolls and cuts of sushi while not breaking the bank.  My brother and I each grabbed a sixth small plate ($1.25 each on top of the lunch special) just so we could be adventurous and try sushi we hadn't had before.
The lunch casualties.
The lunch was fantastic!  Not only did I have great company but if I wanted a quick sushi lunch this is the place to go.  The conveyor belt allows you to eat and get out in under 30 minutes.  But why would you want to rush when there are koi ponds to stare at outside.
Fish food can be bought inside to feed the fish.
KAZE also has hibachi but I have yet to try it.  Perhaps next time but for now conveyor belt food is the best thing since sliced bread.  Or sliced super white tuna.  YUM!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Quick Dish: Carrot Green Pesto

In my latest delivery from Greenling I had a bunch of carrots with their green tops still attached.  Included in the delivery were recipes that incorporated the box's contents.  One of them was a pesto made from carrot greens.

I didn't know you could eat carrot greens.  If you did know this then kudos to you!  You are apparently smarter than me (not a big accomplishment).

The pesto recipe is pretty traditional but substitute the carrot greens for the basil.  The recipe is as follows:

2 cups of carrot greens
3 cloves of garlic
2/3 cups of walnuts, chopped and toasted
2/3 cups of olive oil
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Throw everything into a blender or food processor.  If the pesto is too thick add more olive oil.  The carrot greens are packed with vitamins C and K, potassium, and calcium.  Not too shabby.

I have used the pesto in wraps, on steaks, on shrimp, and in pasta.  It is quite delicious.
I put some in the bottom of a pasta dish.  About 2 tablespoons.
I added pasta to the bowl.  This is portabella mushroom linguine  I get it from my local farmers market.  Yes, it is a brown color.
I tossed the pasta and pesto with some chicken sausage.  Delicious!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Shop Local

Today is Black Friday.  I loathe Black Friday.  I don't care for the mad rush to gobble up consumerism.  People going batshit crazy to save money on items they don't really need doesn't sound like my idea of a good Friday morning.  

If you partake in Black Friday don't be batshit crazy.  It is unbecoming.

However, I will be doing shopping tomorrow on Small Business Saturday.  There are several local businesses I shop at to buy gifts for family and friends.  I like keeping my money local and getting to know the owners.  Their quality of product is better and the customer service is outstanding (not going to find that at Walmart).  The way that small businesses survive is by having repeat customers and they tend to go out of their way to make sure you are receiving the best care.
If you choose to shop at small, local businesses tomorrow I would recommend shopping with cash.  Small businesses, just like the big box stores, are subject to the credit card processing fees.  Paying with cash keeps more of your money in your town.

I love Small Business Saturday.  It gives me the chance to explore and support my community while enjoying the shopping experience.  The unique finds I purchase are always a big hit with the gift receiver and spreads the love of small business.

Above all else please remember to not be batshit crazy. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Pants

If someone is smart, we call them smarty pants.

If someone is skinny, we call them skinny pants.

If someone is thankful, I say we call them thankful pants.

Folks, I'm thankful pants!  Big ol' elastic thankful pants.  

Even though I'm not spending Thanksgiving this year with my family I'm always grateful for the love and respect we have for each other.  This year I will be spending the day with various friends doing various wholesome activities.

A wholesome Thanksgiving is what this girl has in store and she couldn't be happier or feel more loved.  

Post-Thanksgiving ... well, we need to get rid of the wholesome and cut some folks at Black Friday sales.

Kidding.  Sort of.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ladies Afternoon Tea

A few of my female co-workers and I attended afternoon tea this past Saturday at Maudee's off of Lovers Lane in Dallas.  Afternoon tea is a meal eaten between 3pm-5pm and, historically, offered sustenance to the working class poor to make it through a day full of doldrums.

Right. Up. My. Alley.
It is the little things that I love!  All of the place settings were set appropriately and the china was impeccable. 
First of all, Maudee's is a darling place.  The owners (third owners of the establishment) are wonderful folks and their cook does food justice.  When you visit, ask Sharon to give you the history of Maudee's.  If she doesn't tell you the story about their front door make sure you ask.  The previous owner had it shipped from overseas.

My friends and I have been on the hunt for things to do in Dallas that would allow us to call ourselves "ladies".  I'm going more for a "lady of leisure" but my bank account ain't fat enough.  Anyhoo, afternoon tea was our first step in the endeavor.

If you want to enjoy afternoon tea at Maudee's you must make a reservation.  You don't have to be but I would also suggest you are female.  Also, don't be shocked when you attend tea to find yourself the youngest person in the room.  The grandmotherly figures at the nearby tables looked at our table with loving eyes and never flinched at our cackling.

Back to the afternoon tea experience, Maudee's provides four courses.
Menu: side 1
First course: sorbet
Second course: assorted tea sandwiches
Third course: pumpkin muffin and scone
Third course comes with (left to right) clotted cream, jam and lemon curd 
Fourth course: DESSERT!
The food was delicious!  However, you may be saying, "WHERE THE HECK IS THE TEA?!"  Don't get your big girl panties in a wad ... I'm saving the best for last.  The tea is amaze-balls!
Tea list ... choose wisely
The table gets one teapot and everyone drinks the same tea.  However, you can get as much tea as you would like.  (Mack, the other half of the owner duo, politely explains how afternoon tea works when you first sit down and where their bathroom is located.  He's a good, wise man.)  My table ordered the Black Boysenberry Apricot Black Tea, Strawberry Champagne White Tea, and Raspberry Hibiscus Herbal Tea.  All were amazingly delicious.  If you have questions about any of the teas the owners will be happy to explain them to you.  Not only do they serve up tea they are quite knowledgeable about all of them.
A real tea party!
Dessert with the Raspberry Hibiscus Herbal Tea was the perfect pairing!
Strawberry Champagne White Tea ... YUM!
I definitely felt more ladylike after my adventure at afternoon tea.  The ladies and I giggled, shared stories, and thoroughly enjoyed each others company.  In our quest to find more ladylike things to do in Dallas I'm kind of sad that we will mark this off our list.  However, I'm really excited to go do it again but this time as a veteran afternoon tea lady!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Advice from the Wall

I have a lovely new co-worker who just moved to Dallas from Atlanta.  I met her over the weekend at afternoon tea with some lady friends.

Side note: Afternoon tea was awesome!  Read about it here.

We will name this new co-worker Kardashian.  Her nickname, for the sake of this blog, comes from her height (she's a giant), she's gorgeous (she's a leggy supermodel), and she drools over foreign athletes.  Appropriate nickname, no?

Kardashian moved into an apartment that has paper thin walls.  She found this out when her neighbors started a discussion.  A discussion at 2:00 am.  A discussion that lasted for two hours.  Better yet, the discussion is a recurring night time ritual.  Kardashian didn't know what to do about these noisy neighbors but she had some good advice for them.

The ladies at tea all agreed, "You should tell them your advice!"

I found out today at work that Kardashian did just that.  Saturday night, as she laid in bed listening to the recurring nightly discussion, she told the wall, "It sounds like you both want to move but it does not sound like you want to move together."  Next thing you know ... silence.  I guess the neighbors didn't know they could be overheard or maybe the wall was giving them great advice.

Kardashian slept that night.

The next night, while Kardashian slept, she heard, "Hey, you there?"  She didn't speak, move or breathe in hopes that the noisy neighbors would drift off to sleep.  Then she heard, "Hellooooooo?"

Kardashian finally whispered, "I'm here."  And then proceeded to spout off advice to the neighbors' questions.  Through the wall.


Well, actually prisoners do that but Kardashian doesn't live in a jail.  She's a bit flabbergasted by it.  I couldn't offer any advice to her on the matter because I was too busy trying to breathe from all the laughing.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Customer Surveys

I work in marketing and know how important it is to receive feedback.  Both good and bad.  Too many times, companies only hear the bad.  I like to send company management letters of accolades when one of their employees, stores, chains, etc. does something good.  Novel idea, right?

Last week I traveled to Austin and San Antonio for work.  I stayed in hotels in both cities.  Both hotels (different chains) sent me a follow up survey.  I completed both of them.  One hotel was above and beyond exceptional in their customer service and accommodations.  The other hotel, while their staff was great, the facilities were not.  I was brutally honest with both (hence, the name of my blog).

I received emails ... from both hotel chains.  From real people (because I emailed both back).  The one that was not up to par sent me an email to apologize for the hotel conditions and assured me that my survey results would be shared with the staff.  Also, they wanted to make sure future guests did not have the same experience I did.  While they invited me to come back to stay with them again my reply was, "Appreciate the offer but I don't think so."  And, being in marketing, I also let them know I could not endorse them to my vast wealth of social media followers.  (That, kids, is how you puff yourself up to more than what you really are!)

I could have just done the survey for the hotel chain that was not up to par.  But I didn't.  I wanted to give kudos to the hotel that really made an impression on me.

The other hotel, DoubleTree Suites in Austin, was fantastic!  The staff was amazing (a maintenance man inquired about the enjoyment of my stay and asked if the hotel could do anything for me while there), the room was lovely (great view of the state capitol building), and I might have shed a tear when I was checking out.  They understood what "hospitality" meant.  Plus, getting a warm cookie at check-in didn't hurt either.  The one item on my survey that I said would have been nice to receive was a welcome note waiting in my room when I arrived.  (It happened once at another hotel and I thought that was pretty awesome.)  The email I received from the hotel supervisor thanked me for my stay and apologized for not considering having a hand written note waiting for me but valued the constructive input I gave him.

(As I'm typing this I received a follow up email back from the supervisor thanking me for taking the time to email him personally.  It made his day to receive such a nice email.)

Both hotel stays were different.  Both received different survey results.  Both had real people email me back to say that my survey was received and specific pieces of my survey were pointed out in those emails.  Amazing!  Imagine if every industry ran their customer relations the same way the hospitality industry does.

If you get the chance to tell a company how well they are doing you should!  Imagine if companies (and individuals) heard more positives than negatives each day.  I bet things would be a lot more hospitable.
What my cookie looked like before I ate it!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Shout Out: Innovative Auto Works

I love Nellie Mae.  I even declared it on here.  Therefore, when I knew I was renting a car to drive to San Antonio this past weekend I put Nellie Mae in the shop.  I hadn't had her tuned up in a few years (shame on me) and she was in need of an oil change as well as some tender loving care under her hood that I cannot do.

At the recommendation of my good friend S of the Hayley Daily I took my beloved Nellie Mae to Innovative Auto Works in Plano, Texas.  S had raved at how well the shop had taken care of her family's vehicles over the years and I was in need of a new mechanic in my neck o' the woods.  However, I had a schedule snafu that required me to drop off my SUV and pick up my rental car at the same time.  Last time I checked, I can't be in two places at once.

I called the shop and scheduled a drop off time, some of the things I needed them to look at on Nellie Mae and told them about my teleportation problem.  They said we could work something out when I dropped off my vehicle.

Sure enough, they were great!  They dropped me off at the rental car place and also picked me up at the end of the week.  They were able to call me within 24 hours of dropping off Nellie Mae to say what they had found and offered me a menu list of what could be fixed (listed by priority).  True to their word, she received a great tune up!  They were also amazed at the excellent condition she was in given that Nellie Mae is inching closer to 200,000 miles.

If you are in the market for a new mechanic I would highly recommend Innovative Auto Works.  Professional staff, amazing customer service, and great work ... I'm happy to have Nellie Mae in their hands when needed.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy Birthday to Ma

I'd like to use this public platform to wish my mom a wonderful birthday today.  She has always been a great source of comfort for me and a true joy in my life.  I could make this a gushy posting about what an amazing woman she is but I figured I'd go with the route of fun.

My mom has attended rock concerts with me, joined me on cruises to Mexico, and giggled with me at REALLY inappropriate comments (usually said by me).  We have undertaken and excelled at shopping sprees.  We've giggled uncontrollably at mistaken identities (she almost mugged a guy at a casino) and drooled over gorgeous male celebrities.

If you don't know my mom you should.  Your life will be better for it.

Mom, happy birthday!  You are a fantastic mother and friend.  Thanks for putting up with me and not selling me back to the orphanage like you said you were going to do when I was 9 (however, I wouldn't have blamed you with the way I acted).  I hope you have many more birthdays and continue to share with me all of the things in life that are hilarious, adventurous, and worthwhile.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

When in Rome

Texas now has our own version of the German autobahn.  Well, almost.  It is called the 130 Toll Road near Austin.  The speed limit is 85 mph.  

Since I was driving back from San Antonio yesterday and needed to get back to Dallas before 5pm I decided to take the 130 Toll Road (it was free yesterday but the tolls kicked in today).  I was warned from others to be wary of the feral hogs that roam 130.  In case you are wondering, if you hit a hog going 85 mph it doesn't bode well for the animal or for your vehicle.  

Some people see a speed limit sign and then add 10 mph.  However, the Texas State Troopers keep a watchful eye on 130 because if you drive over 85 they will give you a ticket.  Fair enough.  

So, when in Rome you do as the Romans do.  Driving 130 across a flat landscape at 85 mph is BOOOORING.  I saw no feral hogs but I did see the Formula 1 race track off in the distance getting prepared for the upcoming race.  130 did let me bypass the City of Austin and the congestion that is in the city.  I'm glad I was able to get to Dallas on time and I'm thankful for the Stephen King audio book that kept me awake on the drive.  

Legally driving 85 mph ain't what it is all cracked up to be.  Throw in the danger of feral hogs and then it just gets weird.
Toll Road 130
Artist's rendition of feral pig.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Worst Investment?

While in graduate school my macro economics professor spent the better part of a lecture evening on why playing the lottery was a horrible investment of a person's money.  Statistically, the odds of someone winning are horrible.  And the odds of winning it big were even worse.

Yeah, I get it.  But I still play.

What my professor failed to take into account was that my $1 investment in a state lottery ticket brought me a lot of entertainment and joy.  Up until the point I realized I didn't win.  However, I'm not trying to get filthy rich.

I don't play the lottery because I have bills looming or think my life would be so much better with a large bank account.  I play the lottery (very infrequently) when I want to daydream about what it would be like to go on an around the world trip in first class while visiting my friends all over the world.  Or live overseas for a few months to learn a new language and culture.  Or give a ton of money to a worthwhile cause.  Or gift my family enough money so they can go on vacation.

Most multi-million dollar lottery winners don't end up well adjusted.  In reality, I don't need a large bank account just so I can blow it all on a sports car.  And I don't anticipate my one lottery ticket will allow me to do that.  However, from the time I purchase that ticket until the drawn numbers are announced I have daydreamed that I'm tooling around town in a Bugatti.  Or picking out a temporary apartment on the outskirts of Paris.  Or knocking on the door of a friend's apartment in Korea just to say hi.  Or donating a million dollars to a great local philanthropy.

After those moments of daydreaming I'll happily play the lottery again knowing I have a snowball chance in hell of winning.  Doesn't matter, though.  I'm investing my creativity and having a little fun while doing so.  Best dollar I'll spend all week.
What $1 can rent you for a weekend!