Tuesday, November 30, 2010

iLove

I am an Apple junkie. I have slowly but surely converted my entire family into mac lovers. And after one too many hard drive crashes, Bossdad finally switched over all our work computers as well so my life is blissfully PC-free.

We are constantly out and about and our iPhones have proven to be quite handy in pulling up and playing mp3's of commercials or showing the latest logo designs to clients while sitting in meetings where wifi may, or may not, be available. So when Bossdad suggested that we go get iPads to "increase our productivity", I had to agree that it was a brilliant idea!

I am in love. With Christmas coming up, I thought I would share my take on this lovely little gadget just in case some of you might be considering adding one to your wishlist. I have to admit, when they first came out I brushed it off as an overgrown iPhone. After having one for a couple months, I would say that yes, it is like an overgrown iPhone but way better. And y'all know how much I love my iPhone.

My favorite features:
  1. The battery life is amazing. I can go days without charging it, and I use it a lot. When you compare this to the typical 4-hour battery life (tops) of a laptop, it makes it much more convenient than a laptop.
  2. The size. I knew I would use it a lot, but the size makes it so easy to carry that I almost always have it on me. Usually the only time I don't is when I'm carrying a clutch.
  3. With movies, music, games, email, etc. It is the perfect travel gadget. No more checking for wi-fi at hotels or worrying about your battery dying mid-flight before your movie is over. And there are tons of guidebook apps for touristy cities... so many handy uses.
  4. The apps in general. Even though it was a work purchase, I use it just as much in my personal life due to the ever expanding app store.
  5. Cooking! I love cookbooks but find myself most often cooking from my laptop. The iPad battery lasts so much longer that I don't have to plug it in mid-recipe, it takes up less counterspace and is less vulnerable to splatters.
I love app recommendations, so I thought I'd share a few of mine:

Yoga HD. This has been one of my favorite finds. I really want to love yoga, but every time I go to a class at my gym I feel so out of my element. I have the balance of a drunk baby giraffe so I always feel so silly. I have been using this app and it's preset "classes" to work on developing my core in private so maybe one day I can attend an actual class without feeling like an idiot.

Flipboard. This basically aggregates feeds from twitter and sorts and formats them to read like a magazine. I love it because when someone tweets a link, it will have the full story without having to click on anything (same with pictures). It's a much more enjoyable way to peruse twitter feeds.

Food Network. You saw this one coming, didn't you? After being less than impressed with the Food Network Nighttime app I almost passed by this one, but I'm so glad I didn't! It is very well thought out and has already proved to be quite helpful in the kitchen.

Some of my favorite features are the ability to search by chef, course, or recipe popularity; the conversion calculator; the timer; the recipe box that syncs automatically; and the shopping list. When you are looking through recipes and find one (or multiple) that you want to make, you can click the ingredients that you don't have...

... and it adds them to a shopping list for you! Since apps are compatible between iPad and iPhone this means that I also have an iPhone friendly version of the app on my phone and always have access to the shopping list! So I can menu plan on the iPad and shop with the iPhone.

Fantasy Football. Sadly, this might be my favorite use. Do you ever see those guys in the sports bar on Sundays with their laptops out and you trip over their power cord every time you get up to use the bathroom? I have found the iPad to be the ultimate fantasy football companion- portable, small, internet capable, and a battery that lasts for days. {Note: this is not an app, but the ESPN Fantasycast website.}

Calendar. Kind of a simple feature to love, but it syncs automatically with my work computer, home computer and my phone. So it doesn't matter where I update my calendar, it will always appear on all four. It also pulls in Bossdad's calendar from his computer so I always have access to his info wherever I am. And it also magically adds the birthdays of all of my facebook contacts as well.

Streaming Players. I have the Netflix and CBS streaming apps downloaded and both work great. It's so nice to have at airports or in waiting rooms. Now if I could only get a Food Network stream I would cancel my cable all together... {kidding roomie!}

Magazines. While the magazine industry definitely isn't hurting as much as the newspaper industry, they surely see the writing on the wall and would be smart to think of ways to reinvent themselves. I've read several magazines on the iPad, and I have to say that Food & Wine is doing the most amazing job (Travel + Leisure also).

Everything is interactive. Reading an article about Joe Bastianich's wines and want to buy a bottle? With one tap you can get over to his website and order some for yourself. The picture above was an article on great wines at every price point and under each wine you can tap and get a recipe to pair it with. Other things I loved: there was a section on Mario Batali and of course it had pictures of the food, but with one touch you could get the recipe or tap and watch Mario cook it himself. It truly is a platform that allows the pages of the magazine to come alive.

Games. I don't play a ton of games, but I love Words With Friends and Angry Birds and both are supersized on the iPad.

Pandora. The speaker on this is much better (if you can't plug it into a player) than the iPhone. The iPod part is great, but I've found myself listening to Pandora most of the time.


I know a lot of people are interested in the iPad for the reader, iBooks. I haven't had a chance to use it yet because I still have a few hard copy books that I haven't finished. However, even when I do finish I doubt I'll be using iBooks. I've found that Amazon offers a lot more ebook titles than iTunes and downloading the kindle app for the iPad does the same thing that iBooks does.

So there's my two cents. For all of you on the fence, I'd say go for it. I absolutely love mine and have been shocked at how much I use it. Be warned though- there are rumors of a new version coming out in the Spring so if you can wait, it might be worth it!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tapas & Vino

I love getting new restaurant and wine recs from blogs (I think Kate turned half the blogosphere on to Vinho Verde when she raved about her collegiate study abroad discovery. Which if you haven't had it, VV is a slightly effervescent white that's perfect for a hot summer day). So I thought I would share the love and tell you about two new favorites that I discovered last weekend:

Si Tapas. I went to this little hole in the wall for the first time Friday night. My dinner date, Erika, had been there before with her husband and raved about it. I hadn't really found a tapas place in Dallas that I'm over the moon about. In fact, I'm not really over the moon about tapas in general, but this place was delish. It's in a quaint little house tucked back off Allen Street in Uptown.

Everything about it was wonderful. Good wine, good atmosphere, and good food. We started with the Idiazabal Cheese and then got this amazing steak that was extremely tender and sliced really thin with a delicious potato cake (sadly, I don't remember the names of either of those. But everything was so good that you don't need to know, if you're in Dallas- just go!


Hop Kiln Grenache. Sunday night I went to my parents' house to make the dressing for Thanksgiving (we call it dressing, not stuffing- my Mississippi/Louisiana elders get a little feisty when you call it "stuffing"). After we got it in the freezer (and a tiny pan in the oven), we cracked open the celebratory wine.

My parents love Napa and tend to start purchasing en masse four or five wineries in- thus forgetting what they purchased until it arrives on their doorstep. So my mom grabbed a bottle of this not knowing much about it since they were trashed hadn't had it since their tasting at Hop Kiln. We were all pleasantly surprised. It was so good that we immediately went online to see if they were still selling it, and low and behold- the 2008 Grenache is not only still available but on sale for 50% off if you purchase a case. This comes to about $11/bottle, so if you trust my taste in wine, click here and order some for yourself.

Enjoy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Moose Monday

I took this picture at work during a meeting last week. Apparently it wasn't a very interesting one since Moose appears to be dozing off (and I was taking pictures!):

I also took care of my parents' little one last week for a few days and discovered that yoga with a 13-week old puppy is not very easy. Since I was on the floor he thought that meant play time. He kept climbing up in my lap to chew on my pants and at one point attacked the top of my head when I was on my back with my legs over my head (plow position, maybe?! That's a total guess- I'm new). He's too cute to stay mad at for long though:
Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

October in Pictures

October felt like a slow month, but looking back at the pictures it definitely doesn't seem that way!  So... here ya go, October in Pictures:

I typed this on the ESPN message board for my fantasy football opponent and had to take a picture because it's just so funny the differences between guy trash talking and girl trash talking. We had all just found out that Caroline (my opponent) was pregnant with twins, so of course I couldn't say something rude without congratulating her on the good news!

Texas/OU weekend. Julie and her sweet niece, Taylor. This was back when we still bothered to watch the Tech games. Oh wait, this was also back when they were actually televised. It's a little hard to watch your team play when they are so bad that broadcasters don't even bother putting them on TV.  Grrr....

Julie's hubs apparently getting some practice with Taylor's baby doll. The man would have babies yesterday if he could only convince Jules.

October was filled with LOTS of Grey's Anatomy.  I missed the season five finale and therefore wouldn't watch any of season six until I had seen that. I finally came out of the dark ages and got Netflix so I could catch up. It was over 20 episodes to get through in less than two weeks... as you can see I even watched episodes while cooking. Hello McSteamy!

My pregame spread for the Tech/Baylor game. Half the crew bailed at the last minute so we had TONS of leftovers, but hey... at least it looked cute, right? And leftover breakfast casserole is definitely not a bad thing to have.

I was particularly fond of these cups and shoved mine in my purse to get it past the rent-a-cops on power trips at the stadium. Seriously, it's a styrofoam cup. An EMPTY one. BUT I also shoved an extra beer in there which proved to be quite handy once we realized that even though the game wasn't on a campus, college games = still no beer sales. Plus one for the giant purse!

MORE BOWS! We observed this curious phenomenon at the Tech/UT game and apparently it's not just a Lubbock thing, because these Baylor girls were also rocking some giant preschool hair accessories. I just don't get it. There are actually four giant bows in this one picture, can you find them all??

Me, Brynn, Alison, and Alex at the game. Media hookups landed us fancy tickets and while suites at the Cotton Bowl aren't exactly your Jerry-world caliber experience, the shade ended up being priceless since it was a very warm day.

All the red shirts flowing out of the stadium... a fun sight to see.

We decided to ride some of the crazy rides before the fried food consumption began. This one looked crazy, but wasn't all that bad bc they had you strapped in so tight. Which was probably a good thing considering I was wearing a dress.

I forgot the name of this spinny ride, but it was so much fun. Again, a dress- not the best option for the state fair. You're welcome creepy guy that kept staring at me from the line while I tried my hardest to keep my hemline from flying up.

When it came to food, we divided and conquered. Everyone went off on their own and got some sort of fried deliciousness and then we met back and shared everything. The funnel cake was probably the winner in my book. The fried beer was nasty.

As you can see between five of us, we managed to do a pretty good job knocking it out.

 Jacque & Cutler during their first dance as husband and wife. Stunning.

Jules, Al, and I at the wedding. The one-shouldered pink dress was purchased specifically for this occasion as an attempt to cover up the giant bruise the State Fair left me with on my arm. (that you can still unfortunately manage to see...)

Scott, Brynn, Jacque, Cutler, and David at the wedding. For you loyal m&l followers, David is the cutie from Atlanta that taught me how to shag. ;)  And you can kind of see the amazing flowers behind them.

E, B, me, Al, and Autumn. 

This picture cracks me up and pretty much sums up the night. Alex's face, me looking unhappy to have my picture taken so late in the night, E posing perfectly, Patrick covering his face up, and Marc looking like he's about to go schmooze someone. Classic all the way around. Such a fun wedding!

 Moose and Corkscrew-the other puppy- hanging out at the office.

Dave and Val, my brother's in-laws came to visit Dallas and I got to hang out with them Sunday after the wedding. They are big golfers so we naturally had to take them to Top Golf. Don't my mom and Val look like sisters?!

 I may have hit one ball that flew off the tee the wrong way so Val took to ducking anytime I busted out the driver.

Backwards flying balls and all, I still managed to squeak one past Dave. Val was another story...

If you watched any of the World Series, you may have noticed the Rangers "Antlers Up" business. Games four and five were Halloween weekend, so I busted out his moose costume so he could get in the Halloween and/or Ranger Spirit. Doesn't he look happy about it?

Here's to November and Turkey Day!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!

someecards.com - I hope the Texas Rangers don't lose the World Series the night you're wearing your Texas Rangers costume
I hope everyone out there had a fabulous Halloween weekend!  I spent this weekend trashing it up, celebrating an 80th birthday, watching the rangers win, planting flowers, passing out candy and watching the rangers lose.  In that order.

Friday night we headed to a Halloween party at Julie's parent's house. They throw a party every year, but I believe this was the first one that had a theme: white trash. It was fairly amusing to see everyone's version of trashy. Unfortunately, I only have one picture from the whole night that our friend Tim took of me to send to my GBF:
Hard to see in this picture, but elements of my costume included:
  • pregnant 
  • pink ruffle-y bra exposed
  • bad girl devil tattoo on left arm
  • giant heart and dagger tattoo on right calf
  • boob tattoo
  • cowboy boots
  • hickey
  • scrunchy
  • blue eye shadow
  • pink hoop earrings
  • Marlboro Reds tucked into bra
  • Boone's Farm chugging
It was a lot of fun. We stopped at a gas station on the way to the party to pick up the Boone's Farm and the attendant asked Alex if I was really pregnant. Frightening to think that pregnant people buying booze happens often enough to make him ask that.

Saturday was my grandmother's 80th birthday and we cooked dinner for her at my parent's house so everyone could watch the Ranger's game. She was so excited because it was the first time in her life she had ever gotten balloons for her birthday.  :) It truly is the little things in life.
I spent Halloween morning replanting my urban "garden". All the decorative, non-edible stuff was starting to look really sad, so I ripped it all out and put fall/winter flowers in. Since I use the herbs a lot, I typically leave those in until the cold kills them.
 Pansies & Cyclamen
 3rd floor window box
 Window box off kitchen- pansies and these new pink flowers that I've never planted before- hopefully they will be hearty enough to survive with my brown thumb.
 My mint and rosemary have grown all up in each others' grills. I tried to fight it, but have given up.  They used to be in the window box above but got relegated to this pot since they have a tendency to survive through the winter but not necessarily while looking good.
Front porch: white cyclamen, yellow and purple pansies.

Sunday night I headed to my parents' house to cook sloppy joes and pass out candy. Unfortunately living in a semi-urban/somewhat sketchy area means no trick-or-treaters and I'm a sucker for the age-appropriate costumed children (read: not 18 year olds or infants with no teeth being carried by candy-seeking parents). We didn't get a ton, but enough to enjoy the festivity of the holiday.

But back to the food, Sloppy Joes are a Halloween tradition for my family. My mom always made them for us before we went trick-or-treating because it was quick, easy and got something in our stomachs before all the candy. I think she was a little amused when she found out that my brother and I continued this tradition when we left home for college and beyond.  So last night we sent Clint this picture:

And he sent this back:
So funny that he was miles and miles away continuing our little family tradition.

I have been seeing this recipe for homemade sloppy joes all over the interweb, so I figured it was the perfect time to try it.  This is a healthier version of the canned classic thanks to the added veggies and the lack of preservatives that are in the can:

Sneaky Sloppy Joes

  • 1/2 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 3 or 4 pieces
  • 1 large red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed and halved
  • 1/2 large zucchini, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey (or beef)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder (*Probably used 3-4 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar (not packed)
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar*
  • A couple of dashes Tabasco
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp creole mustard
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste (*Used significantly more of this as well... next time I would use one of those small cans instead of just 2 tablespoons)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Buns
  1. Finely chop the onion, red bell pepper, carrot, zucchini, and garlic (in a food processor if you have one handy). You want this pretty much a pulp so you can hide it in the sloppy joes... sneaky, sneaky!
  2. Cook ground turkey/beef in a large skillet. Strain fat away from the meat and transfer the meat to a bowl. 
  3. Add olive oil to the pan and heat over medium high. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes, until most of the moisture is gone and the vegetables begin to brown. Stir in the chili powder and cumin and then add the cooked meat back to the pan.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, water, brown sugar, vinegar (to taste), mustard, Tabasco, and tomato paste to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and seasoning with S&P to taste.
Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake

I would cook the veggies a bit longer next time to get rid of that raw carrot taste that these still had traces of. It also needed quite a bit of doctoring while simmering, but we managed to get it tasting pretty delicious.  I will definitely be keeping this one as a healthy alternative when I have some extra time on my hands.

Happy Halloween and Go Rangers!