Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Calories Well Consumed

From time to time I have moments where I catch myself standing in front of the mirror, poking at the slightly squishy bits and the body parts that are noticeably less pretty than they were ten years ago. My metabolism takes the majority of the beating during these shallow, extrospective rants.

Most often, I find myself complaining about how my metabolism "must be shutting down now that I'm almost 30" as I'm lamenting the lack of rock hard abs (slightly ironic since I've never in my life had rock hard abs in the first place). However, it seems logical- everyone complains that when you get older you can't eat what you once could. But I rarely overeat. Fast food is not a regular part of my diet. Therefore, my metabolism is surely the one to blame, right?!

Annnnd then I think about my food consumption for the week, laugh it off and apologize to my metabolism.

Today was a perfect example... today I have subsisted on carbs, covered in oil, topped with cheese for two thirds of the day.
  • Breakfast: Sourdough bread with tartufata spread.
  • Lunch: Grilled Chicken Salad at Alma.
  • Dinner: A glass (or two) of wine + sourdough bread with tartufata spread and emmental cheese.
Literally, over half of my food intake for the day consisted of carbs spread with a truffle/olive oil paste topped with cheese.  NO WONDER I have jiggly bits!! Although, I have to say... if I am going to splurge, I would so much rather do it with this than a twinkie:
The first time I had tartufata bruschetta was in Rome (above) when we needed a mid-day snack to hold us over until dinner. The cafe had several different kinds of bruschetta and I had a Joey Tribiani moment when I saw this one... porcini mushrooms... GOOD. truffles... GOOD. olive oil... GOOD.

Needless to say, despite it's unappealing presentation, I looooved it. When I found a jar of something that looked somewhat similar in Venice, I snapped it up without a second's hesitation. Luckily it tasted the exact same as the bruschetta at the cafe. Since then I can't stop eating it. I'm so addicted that I have taken the jar and a loaf of bread back and forth from my office three times this week in case I get a craving for it.

So you can imagine my delight when I got home and searched for tartufata on Amazon and found the exact spread I bought in Venice! Now I can enjoy every last truffley, fungi-filled bite of my current jar without worrying that it will take a stamp in my passport to replace it. This knowledge is quite dangerous because lawd knows I did NOT need another excuse to consume wine/carbs/cheese and call it dinner!

They say balance is the key to life, so maybe tomorrow I'll hit the gym and have a salad to ensure guilt-free tartufata consumption for the rest of the week! Either way, I have to say that every single bite is worth it!

*If you like mushroomy, truffly things, I highly recommend you click on the link above and buy yourself a jar. You won't be sorry!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Something MUST be in the water.

someecards.com - I know I am getting old when my friends start having kids on purpose.

It seems like every time I log onto Facebook another friend or sorority sister is announcing that they have a baby on the way. I see lots of baby showers in my future so I've started to keep an eye out for gifts. All I have to say is, if you are in the same boat and looking for baby gear- etsyetsyetsy. Oh my word. It's enough to make a girl go all J. Lo à la The Back-up Plan*.

While I love etsy, if anyone has any favorite "go-to" baby resources- I am all ears! I usually try to give the parents-to-be something cute as well as something useful off their registry. There is so much adorable stuff out there, that it's tempting to go one-track-minded with gifts (and I mean, lets face it- a trip to Babies R Us is a teensy bit scary to those of us that are still single... nipple pads, Budro's Butt paste, "breast friends",yikes!) But obviously the parents are just like you and would rather shell out their cash for the fun stuff rather than bottle drying racks, right? That's why I compromise and go with half cute/half useful.

So there you have my theory on buying baby gifts. Congrats to all my sweet friends that are knocked up!

In the meantime, I am off to find the perfect gift for Jacque and Cutler's newest addition, little Thatcher:


If that sweet little yawn didn't make you smile, there is surely something wrong with you!

***

*Prior to judging my taste in movies, it should be noted that as I general rule, I refrain from all J. Lo movies including, but not limited to: Maid in ManhattanGigli, and the aforementioned The Back-up Plan. However, The Wedding Planner is a notable exception to this rule primarily due to the inclusion of one, Mr. Matthew McConaughey.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Threw a fit. Got it.

Courtesy of Highway 75 in Dallas.
"Saw it. Wanted it. Threw a fit. Got it."

It was all I could do not to punch this girl in the face. Okay, not really since I'm not a violent person and I've never punched anyone in my life, but how ridiculous is this? You should be ashamed that a) you are a grown adult that is "throwing fits" for material items, and b) that you are obnoxiously bragging about it! Get a job and some self-worth and for the sake of women everywhere take that damn license plate holder off your car!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Girly Friday Night

Do you ever have those nights where all you want to do is just hibernate?  I've decided that my wild and crazy plans for Friday night are going to be just that. I've been hitting it pretty hard since we moved to the new place and nothing sounds better to me right now than a night at home with my puppy dog.

On the agenda?
  • A bubble bath with these and this.
  • Take-out from my new favorite Thai place.
  • A movie from Redbox.
  • At home beauty treatments.
Yep, I'm one pint of Ben &Jerry's away from being the ultimate cliché and I love every bit of it. The only thing that could make it better would be if it were to rain tonight.

So let's talk a moment about the last one on the list... I love trying new products, food, wine, music, etc that I hear about through the blogosphere, so I thought I might have the same luck with your secret at-home beauty rituals.

Any great drug store products I should try? Or even concoctions I can whip up in my kitchen? I've always heard about people mashing together an avocado and olive oil and coating their hair in it, but I've never tried any of it for fear of smelling like guac when I'm done. However, I'm feeling adventurous this Friday, so if you have any- lay it on me! In exchange, I'll share a few of my own inexpensive beauty secrets:

My favorite secret is that I use temporary hair dye kits every eight weeks or so. No, I am not a ginger-in-hiding or trying to cover up the grays. I would actually LOVE to be a ginger and don't have a single gray hair {knock on wood}. A few years ago I wanted to grow out my highlights, but didn't want to rock roots while doing so. I came up with a plan to use temporary hair dye to cover up the highlights while they were growing out, and because it washed out after 28 washes or so- I was back to my natural color after a few months. Because I was using dark dye with no ammonia, a surprise side-effect was super shiny, healthier looking hair. I've been addicted ever since and it's my favorite boost when I'm in between cuts and my hair is feeling very 'blah.' I think salons do the same thing but they call it a "glossing treatment" and charge you $50 for it. In the fall I usually go a few shades darker to welcome the colder weather.

I also have really dry skin which gets even worse this time of year. A few of my favorite at home remedies to keep me from looking like a molting snake are One Minute Manicure for my hands, Aveda's Intensive Hydrating Mask for my face, and good old fashioned Vaseline for my lips. And this isn't anything new, but on nights that I hibernate I also love to slather the thickest moisturizer I own on my feet and put on socks.

So girls... any must-try beauty favorites?  What do you do on nights when you hibernate?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Things I am loving...

  1. Ham & Cheese croissants from Paradise Bakery. I forgot how much I loved these things. Paradise Bakeries are few and far between in Dallas, but these are worth the 20 minute drive.
  2. Versa in a Can from Palm Beach Tan. We are still flirting with the triple digits in these parts which means the need for sleeveless shirts and dresses is still present. I always use a gradual self tanner in the summer, but tend to forget and slack off this time of year. This stuff is perfect for when you need a little bit of instant color. It is a really fine mist and is almost impossible to mess up. I say "almost" since I zebra-striped the back of my legs last week, but I'm comfortable enough with it to use it on my face if that tells you anything.
  3. Our new apartment. I really am loving everything about it. I love the layout, the way it's come together and most of all- the location. I walked home from watching the Cowboys game Sunday night, walked to get a massage yesterday, I even walked to a meeting this week after going home for lunch.
  4. Fall shows. I'm not a huge TV watcher, but I'm still excited about the upcoming season of Gossip Girl and a few other trashy favorites. I missed Bachelor Pad this year since it started while I was gone, but on the plus side I'm guessing that I saved a few braincells as a result.  :)
  5. I am still on a cover kick... this one we heard at a bar in Eze and I loved it. Extremely mellow but good for cooking with a glass of wine in your hand:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

August in Pictures

I think I can speak for a majority of Texas when I say thank goodness August is over! It is finally cooling off and I am definitely excited for the crisp fall air!

The Dot celebrating her birthday in Dallas before we left. My parents both have August birthdays and they have never spent their birthdays apart in 36 years of marriage. How cute is that?!

We celebrated by going to see Cirque du Soliel's Dralion. My whole family loves Cirque and we usually try to go whenever they come through town. I've seen quite a few and this was probably my least favorite one I've been to. It just seemed very rough and not as polished as they usually are. We still had a great time though!

Packing for three different climates and a combination of both sightseeing and fancy corporate dinners was a pretty tough.  Add to that an attempt to somewhat color coordinate my outfits so I could mix and match things and this was quite a challenge for an non-Type A.

I got my first shellac manicure before I left for Europe and I can't sing it's praises enough. This is what it looked like on the plane on the way home three weeks later- a little grown out but not a single chip! A normal mani would have been chipped three days in and this lasted seven times that. I probably won't be getting them on the reg since they are a bit pricey, but for long trips or periods of time when you know you won't have time to deal with it- amazing!

Fitting the contents of these boxes into our teeny kitchen was a feat of engineering.

August = football!!  I used to only get excited about college football, but now that we jumped on the fantasy football bandwagon, I am just as excited about the NFL!  Here are Jen, Laura, and Abby during our all-girls fantasy football draft.

The rest of the girls plotting their fantasy picks.

Post draft roomie outing to the Loon. May as well kick off this uptown living thing with a bang!

My team! I think it's decent, but I lost my first match-up so I might need to reevaluate a few things. Mark Sanchez was my only pick that wasn't completely football/skill related. I read this story last year and was completely smitten with him as a result. It is so refreshing to hear stories like Mark's in the midst of all the Vick/Roethlisberger/Farve-esque scandals.

Pictures from August are a bit on the light side, but I promise to make it up for you with tons of pictures from the rest of the Europe recaps. I know you can't wait!  :) 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Primadonna

Have y'all seen this video?  I'm sure you have since it's apparently gone viral, but I thought I would go ahead and post it just in case:



I can't get over this. I'm not a huge madonna fan anyways. Something about the fake british accent just rubs me the wrong way. I've always thought she was a bit of a self-absorbed B, and this completely confirmed that for me.

The only excuse for that type of reaction is if it is well-known that you are deathly allergic to hydrangeas.  My favorite part was the "he obviously doesn't know that".  You're right Madonna- how dare that super fan that pays for your couture and yoga classes via spending his hard-earned cash on your music not know every detail of your life down the minutiae that you "absolutely loathe hydrangeas". Maybe you should update your wiki with that info so no one else has the audacity to make the same mistake.

You would think that after this many decades in the limelight, Ms. Ciccone would be aware of the fact that the cameras are ALWAYS on.

I wonder how much she will "loathe youtube" after this finishes making the rounds...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Falling for the City of Love

Out of all the cities that we visited, Paris was definitely my favorite. It was my second time there and it far exceeded my experience the first time around. I attribute this to 1) my ability to communicate was significantly better compared to the first go round when I had only taken one year of high school french, 2) the locals being much more willing to speak English if needed, and 3) having more freedom to explore the city than I did last time (and the freedom to drink wine with every meal wasn't too shabby either!)Our first day we got checked in and just kind of wandered a bit.  It was my mom's birthday so we took it easy and saw the Notre Dame, did a cruise down the Seine and then got ready for dinner.


The courtyard area next to our hotel, looking out at the Sorbonne. I can't recommend our hotel enough- it was in a great location and the staff was extremely helpful. 

On the Seine with Notre Dame in the background.

No explanation needed.

 Cute little side street.

Every July and August they have this thing called "Paris Plage" where they bring in a bunch of sand and palm trees and turn the banks of the Seine into a beach complete with boardwalks and sand castles.

 People laying out against ocean backdrops.

 A giant sandcastle.

In front of Notre Dame.

After freshening up a bit, we jumped in a cab and asked the driver to take us to the Champs-Elysees area and recommend a few places for dinner.

One of his recommendations ended up being Le Relais de l'Entrecote which I had remembered seeing on Elizbeth's blog a few weeks before our trip. Since we were somewhat familiar, we decided to give it a shot.

Upon being seated, we were informed that there was no menu because they only served one thing- steak frites. It wasn't exactly what we had in mind seeing as how it was my mom's birthday dinner. After a quick debate, we decided to stay and I'm so happy we did. It was amazing:

By the time we had ordered there was a line wrapped around the building. Not too shabby for a place that is a one-trick pony:


And then there was this guy. He was sitting next to us and everything about him reminded me of Robert Pattinson. He had the same unruly hair, the crooked grin, etc. So of course I had to try to strike up a conversation with him in french to ask him if anyone had ever told him that. He blushed about four shades of red and then admitted that, yes, he gets it all the time. He and his friend were about as charming as they come and chatting with them made our dinner even more fun. Here he is flirting with The Dot. :) 


The next day we went by the Louvre on our way to Musee D'Orsay. As I said before, the Louvre wasn't at the top of my list of things to do in Paris, so I was happy when The Dot agreed to skip it. However, the pyramid is so iconic that we had to stop by.

 See mom! Now you can say you've been to the Louvre!

As it turns out, it was probably a good thing we didn't go to the Louvre since my mom SPRINTED through the Musee D'Orsay. I had an inkling she wasn't much of an art buff since she did the same thing at the MoMA in NYC, but this trip confirmed my suspicions. In her words pertaining the famous works of art housed in the D'Orsay... "I've seen the pictures of all of these paintings my whole life. I'm here, see the real thing and they look the exact same so now we can go."

This was my favorite- Monet's Londres, le Parlement.

Our favorite moment at the D'Orsay was not appreciating a stunning piece of art or admiring the brushstrokes of an original Van Gogh. It was when we were sitting on a long concrete bench resting our feet before continuing on and this little, old man next to us sneezed and simultaneously farted so loudly that I swear it echoed throughout the whole museum. He then proceeded to stand up, SHAKE OUT THE ASS OF HIS PANTS, and leave. We tried to stifle our giggles, but as soon as he was out of earshot, we were laughing so hard we literally had tears streaming down our faces. 

After our hysterics at D'Orsay we left to find this little street that my mom had heard about named Rue Cler. We stopped and had a crepe, people watched for a bit and then shopped our way down the little street. We had reservations at the Eiffel Tower at 6:30 which was about two hours away, so we decided to pick up a bottle of wine and some cheese and have a little picnic in the park in front of the Eiffel Tower*.
*It should be noted that there are signs everywhere saying that alcohol was not permitted in the park, but there were also random hustlers selling tourists bottles of wine and Eiffel Tower key chains, so we figured if worse came to worse we could probably blame the illegal hustlers saying we thought it was okay. While, I do not condone said approach, it was quite enjoyable to have a little boozy picnic with such an incredible view.

She can't claim to be an art connoisseur, but she CAN claim to be a lightweight. One glass of wine at lunch + half a bottle during our picnic did this one in. She was hilarious! We had a great tipsy time traipsing around the tower. {Say that three times fast!}

 View from the top of the tower.

 The very top has a champagne bar. It was really more of a champagne closet, but who are we to judge?      We just wanted some bubbly.

We took an elevator to the halfway point and then walked down the rest of the way. They cram as many people as possible into the elevators and I was lucky enough to be herded into the elevator in such a manner that when the doors closed, my nose was smushed into this 6'4" european dude's armpit. And let's just it was very apparent that he had been sightseeing all day long. Longest elevator ride of. my. life.

 Sunset.

 Looking down one of the "legs".

 In the guts of the tower.

We made it to the bottom just in time for the first round of sparkles. After dusk, the entire structure twinkles with sparkly lights every hour, on the hour. I have seen it before but I still got butterflies. :)

Happy girls!

The next day we wandered around, went back to see the inside of Notre Dame, and explored St. Germain des Pres.  For some reason I just loved the front of this little cafe.

Our dinner the third night wasn't quite as successful as Le Relais de l'Entrecote. We had walked by this place the day before and thought it was adorable, but its appeal unfortunately did not carry through to the food. The waitstaff however, was hilarious. My favorite moment was during dinner when I was attempting to get the waiter's attention and said "Excuse moi, monsieur" to which he replied (as he zipped past me) "I'm coming baby!" to which my mom replied "that's what she said".

And then I'm pretty sure red wine came out of my nose.

***

My absolute favorite thing we did while we were in Paris was a wine class at Ô Chateau. If you ever find yourself in Paris, you must do this. Seriously, don't let me find out that you went to Paris and didn't. Deal?

So basically, Ô Chateau is a wine bar that does educational tastings that teach you about french wine, in english. You learn about the wine producing regions of France, how to read french wine labels, what to look for when you're tasting wine, etc. It was great information and our guy, Remy, was funny, knowledgeable, and spoke impeccable English with just enough of that sexy french accent.


This quote from their website talking about why they are different sums them up perfectly:

(We are) different because we are a young company started by young people, different because we don’t see wine as something we should worship (how about drinking it for starters), different because we happily acknowledge that everybody in this company gets drunk regularly (too much?), different because we hire our sommeliers based on their personality just as much as their wine knowledge, different because in the end… teaching foreigners about French wine is really a different job!

And if  I haven't sold you yet, they also do cheese plates to go with your tasting:

Ô Chateau was started by this (french) guy, Olivier Magny. Who in addition to being easy on the eyes, wrote a very funny book "Stuff Parisians Like." The book pretty much spends 300 pages poking fun at the seriousness of Parisian culture. Gotta love a self-deprecating frenchman.
He was there during our tasting so I bought a copy of his book and he wrote a funny little inscription inside the cover. Later on we had a slight shopping bag mishap, so my book is now permanently covered in red wine- which for some reason just seems so appropriate.

 Our last day in Paris we spent checking out Sacre Coeur, shopping, and eating.

Despite both of us being in pretty good shape, we were hobbling around like little old ladies after taking the stairs down the Eiffel Tower. Needless to say, The Dot was none too happy when she realized this was the one and only route to the church (and this was halfway up).

Sacre Coeur is up on a hill (obviously) and is a very prominent part of the Parisian skyline. It was targeted during the bombing of Montmarte during World War II. I forgot how many bombs were dropped but not a single life was lost and the only damage to the church was that the stained glass windows were blown out. Pretty amazing.

Our last night before heading to London, we went to Les Deux Magots for dinner. I have always wanted to eat here and while I'm glad we did, I think there are other lesser known spots that probably far exceed the food at Les Deux Magots. It was good, just a bit over-hyped in my opinion. However, mid dinner it started pouring down rain which I just loved. Tucked just far enough under the patio awning to stay dry in my favorite city in the world with my favorite weather made the romantic in me swoon. {You could put good money on the fact that if I had been there with a boy instead of my mom I would have had #14 checked right off my 30x30 list before the waiter had a chance to bring "l'addition"!} 

***

I was so happy that we decided to leave a week early in order to add Paris to our trip. I loved seeing it through "grown-up" eyes and, as always, my mom was a great (and patient) travel buddy. We almost got to spend a little extra time in the city since we missed our flight to London the next day, but that is definitely a story for another day...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tip of the Week

My iPhone, among other things, is my primary source of navigation. I use the google map to find the closest location of places I need to go, estimate distances, and of course, get me there. Living in a woefully unpedestrian city such as Dallas, I most often find myself using it in the car. I know Big D like the back of my hand, so figuring out which direction to head at the beginning of a route is no big deal.

However, put me in any. other. city. and this is NOT the case.

My oh-so-intelligent method of figuring out which way to begin is typically "let's just start walking/driving/kayaking and see if the little blue dot follows along the line or goes in the opposite direction." You can imagine how inefficient this is (and how frustrated this can make my fellow travelers when my 50/50 shot goes the other way). Not to mention the fact that in certain foreign cities that $%!#ing little dot hops around the map like a jumping bean.  I'M LOOKING AT YOU, PARIS!

Anyways, that's a whole other story- back to the point.

I just learned on one of my nerd blogs that your iPhone (assuming it has a compass, so 3GS or later) will tell you which direction you are heading in the google map! It is just tucked away in a place where it won't interfere unless needed. To find this little gem of a feature:
  1. Open Google Maps.
  2. Double tap the button in the bottom left corner. (I call this the "where am I" button, although I'm sure it has an official name)
  3. Hold your iPhone flat and away from you.
  4. It should then pop up with a pie shaped graphic coming out of your "where am I" dot that points you in the direction you are headed. Turn the iPhone and the entire map will swivel with it! Pretty fancy...
A lot of you may be sitting there going "duh, I've known about this for years" but in the off-chance that some of you didn't, I thought I'd share the love. This would have been very handy a month ago prior to discovering first-hand that Italians apparently aren't so big on street signs. 

Such is life...

Enjoy kiddos!