April 2013 Round-Up

This April went so quickly for me. It seems like just yesterday I was heading back to Austin after spending the Easter weekend at home. Here are a few highlights from the past month:

  • It was incredibly moving to visit the Bonfire Memorial at Texas A&M University on April 1. I had the memorial entirely to myself and was able to spend several minutes reflecting at Jamie Hand's pillar. It's hard to believe it's been nearly 14 years since the bonfire collapsed.
  • I spent April 4 at home because the internet wasn't working at the office. Since I couldn't access any of my files from my laptop, it was pretty much a free day.
  • During the first weekend of the month, Mom and Dad came down to Austin for a brief stay. We really only had the chance to eat dinner at Matt's on Sunday and lunch at Jason's Deli on Monday, but it was nice to see them one more time before their European adventure.
  • I was excited to finally make good on my promise to explore more of Austin this year. Over the past month, I ate at P. Terry's for the first time (yum!), saw the "You're My Butter Half" mural in East Austin, and visited the peacocks in Mayfield Park. Hopefully I can cross a few more Austin-related things off my list in the coming months.
  • I played bells with Bethany Bells the morning of April 21. The performances went pretty well (even the 8:30 a.m. one).

Unfortunately, this month wasn't without a few moments I'd like to forget. The bombings in Boston and the West fertilizer plant explosion hit very close to home. However, in the midst of all this grief and tragedy, I was inspired by the stories of human resilience and bravery. Good will triumph over evil. Always.

Books I read: Death Comes to Pemberley (P.D. James), The Blue Castle (L.M. Montgomery), An American Childhood (Annie Dillard)

Movies I watched: The Sapphires, Jane Eyre (DVD)

TV: Dancing with the Stars, Castle, Grey's Anatomy, Mr. Selfridge, Call the Midwife, Felicity (DVD)

I decided to try out a new format for my round-up this month. I'm not sure if this is what I will use from now on, but I wanted a change.

About My Monthly Round-Ups
At the end of each month, I take a look back and write a post about the month's highlights, as well as what I read and watched. To see all of my round-up posts, visit this page.

Project 365 | Week 17

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope all of you have avoided a case of the Mondays today.

This past week had a little of everything: a little training, a little cooking, a little shopping, and a little movie watching. It wasn't a momentous week by any means, but hey, this is life.

112/365: Training a new writer

Project 365 | Week 16

What a week it has been! Between the incidents in Boston and West, it was difficult to relax any time I turned on the TV or checked the internet for news. I told some of my co-workers that I hoped this coming week was the most boring week ever, and I really do mean that. Only sunshine and kittens and rainbows, please!

My pictures for Week 16...

Mexican Firewheel
105/365: Mexican Firewheel

Feline, Fit, & Fabulous

Sammy & my iPad
Sammy has control of my iPad.

Two years ago I took Sammy in for his annual vet visit and learned that he weighed more than 20 pounds. This was not good. He was already on a diet regimen at that point, but obviously it wasn't working. I've really worked hard over the last two years to limit his food intake and keep him physically active (even if it drives both of us crazy sometimes).

So you can image my delight when I brought Sammy in for his annual check-up yesterday and learned that he is now a sleek 16.75 pounds. I think this is the smallest he's been since we lived in my first apartment in Boston.

Well done, Sammy!

Weekend with Mom, March 2013

Shopping with Mom

Last month my mom came down to Austin for a long weekend. We shopped, explored new places, ate some wonderful food, and worked on several projects around my apartment. It was wonderful to spend this time with her, and I thought I would share a little bit about our weekend here. (Warning: This is a very text- and photo-heavy entry.)

Mom came down on Friday afternoon, and we spent our first few hours together picking up some chalk paint from a store in Cedar Park and eating lunch at Einstein's Bagels. I had a haircut at 2:30 p.m., so Mom dropped me off and shopped a little on her own. Once I finished at the salon, Mom and I headed up to Georgetown for the rest of the afternoon and evening. We stopped in several of the little shops on the square and found a few treasures. Since we both needed shoes, we also went to the DSW across the interstate (where I found my fun neon blue work-out shoes). Our last stop of the day was Monument Cafe, where we each had the fried catfish and shrimp plate. We split a chocolate pie for dessert; it was good, but I missed having a real crust.

The next day we put the first coat of paint on my coffee and end tables and then drove out to Marble Falls. The road there was super hilly and curvy, so it took a little while to get out there. Once we made it into town, we went to the Blue Bonnet Cafe. There was a long line out the door, but it moved quickly and was definitely worth the wait. We both ordered hamburgers and then split (another) chocolate meringue pie for dessert. Everything was delicious!

Blue Bonnet Cafe
Blue Bonnet Cafe

After we finished lunch, we drove downtown and looked around. The only things we bought were a book a piece (of course). I also enjoyed taking pictures around town (and Mom enjoyed taking pictures of me taking pictures, for some reason). We decided to head back after that but took a different way since the other road had been so hilly (and slow). Along the way, we were excited to spot the first bluebonnets of the season — always a momentous occasion each spring! We also stopped at a flea market in Burnet and found a few things.

Downtown Marble Falls
Downtown Marble Falls

The first bluebonnets!

Once we were back in Austin, we went to JCPenney and Target to look for new curtains (we found some — and a new duvet cover — at Target) and then brought our purchases home. We got out a little bit later to pick up Fire Bowl for dinner and spent the rest of the evening at home, working on our different projects and watching the World Figure Skating Championships on a British internet feed (well, I did the last part).

On Sunday, Mom and I went to church in the morning and then drove down to South Congress to eat at the food carts. The food carts closed after the end of South by Southwest, so we got to eat there on the very last day. We shared Thai fried rice from Coat & Thai and then split a cupcake from Hey Cupcake! It was nice to walk around the area since SXSW was still going on; there were parties at several of the venues along the way and we could hear live musicians playing. At least I can say I've done SXSW. :)

Coat & Thai
Yummy Thai food

South Congress
Strolling down South Congress

Hey Cupcake!
Hey Cupcake!

3-17 Car Mom
An unusual way to park | Mom enjoys our strawberry cupcake


We spent the rest of Sunday finishing up our different projects and managed to get everything done. I'm planning to write another post about everything we did around the apartment soon.

Praying for Boston

As most of you know, I lived in Boston for almost four years, and Marathon Monday was one of my favorite days of the entire year while I was up there. It was a day when everyone in the city came together to celebrate the athletic achievements of those running the Marathon. From the elite, world-class runners to the people running for charity, it was always an inspiring sight to witness.

Today I was saddened to hear about the bombings that took place at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It's hard to understand why anyone would want to harm this special event, and because of their senseless actions, it would be easy to view the Marathon and my memories of it as somehow "tainted" from now on.

But I choose not to.

Instead I choose to remember cheering on the athletics running past me at the eighth mile of the race in Natick, clapping until my hands went numb.

I choose to remember little girls holding out their hands to runners, hoping to give and receive high fives.

I choose to remember searching for the Texans in the crowd of runners so I could give them a personal cheer of encouragement.

I choose to remember being so inspired by the elite runners that I attempted a little run on the way back to my apartment in Natick.

I choose to remember a father who pushes his son in the race each year.

So I don't really care who they finally discover committed this atrocity. It could be a right-wing wacko, left-wing wacko, domestic terrorist, or international terrorist. You can't take the Marathon and my good memories of it away.

I'm praying for all the people of Boston tonight. The city and its people are strong, and I know they will recover from this — and come out on the other side even better. Godspeed, Massachusetts. Godspeed.

Project 365 | Week 15

Good evening, everyone! It was a rather ordinary week around here, but I did have some fun this weekend. On Saturday, I went shopping down south and stopped by the "You're my butter half" mural for the first time. Today I tried P. Terry's for the first time (yum!) and went to the Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve to see the peacocks. It was amazing how completely tame the peacocks were, especially as several little kids got very, very close.

This week I also took my 100th picture of the year, which in my opinion, is an important milestone for Project 365.

Sammy in my chair
98/365: Sammy took my reading chair on Monday night, so I had the couch.

Easter in Pictures

I was so excited to spend Easter weekend at home with my family in Henderson. I drove home Thursday evening after work and didn't start back for Austin until after lunch on Monday. Over those few days, Mom and I went to Canton and explored the Azalea Trail in Tyler, the whole family dyed Easter eggs at the farm, and we all went to church on Easter Sunday. Perhaps the most meaningful part of my weekend was visiting the Bonfire Memorial at Texas A&M on Monday. I was able to see the pillar that honored Jamie Hand, and it was definitely worth the trip to College Station (even if I spent most of my time in the town worried that I would be called out for the Longhorn emblem on my car).

And as promised, a few pictures...

3-28 Wildflowers
Texas wildflowers

3-29 Doors
In Rust We Trust

3-29 Globe
The whole world

3-29 Pyrex
Pyrex and more Pyrex

3-29 Quilts
Beautiful quilts

3-29 Duck family
The original Duck Dynasty?


Corn dog stand
Corn dog stand

Box of sticks
Box of sticks

3-29 Pink azaleas
Pink azaleas

White azaleas
White azaleas

Azalea Trail
Tyler's Azalea Trail

Sweet kitty
Sweet kitty

Dyeing eggs
Dyeing eggs at the farm

Dyeing eggs
Blue egg

Unimpressed with Easter eggs
Unimpressed with egg dyeing

Bonfire Memorial
Bonfire Memorial

Project 365 | Week 14

Happy Monday, everyone! It was a busy, unusual week for me — I took Monday off from work, spent Thursday at home when the internet was down at work, and enjoyed spending Sunday evening with my parents. Here's my week in pictures:

Bonfire Memorial
91/365: Bonfire Memorial at Texas A&M University

March 2013 Round-Up

Happy April Fool's Day! It's time for my March round-up.

What I Read...
  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys: This book told the story of the woman in the attic from Jane Eyre. It was interesting in spots, but it definitely wasn't my favorite.
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: The only way to describe this book is WOW. There was so much going on that it's hard to describe the story without giving too much away. I'm glad I was finally able to read it after putting my name on the library waiting list a few months ago.
  • The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult: This book was a departure for Picoult, but I enjoyed it because it focused on the story of a Holocaust survivor. As often happens with stories that switch between the past and present, I found the older story more compelling. It was still a great book, and I'm glad I was able to finish it this past weekend.
What I Watched...
  • Oz the Great and Powerful: It was okay, but I like the original Wizard of Oz (and Wicked) more.
  • Admission: I was surprised this movie wasn't any funnier since Tina Fey and Paul Rudd were in it. I did like one character quoting the prologue to The Canterbury Tales, though — it brought me back to senior English for a moment.
  • I watched a few older movies on TV: West Side Story and Pride and Prejudice (1940). 
  • I caught some of the World Figure Skating Championships on my laptop. One of the internet feeds was from England, and it was fun to hear the commentators describe the action ("What a cracker!"). 
  • DVDs: I finished the second season of Felicity this month. I also watched half of When Harry Met Sally before the DVD stopped working.
  • TV: Castle, Grey's Anatomy, DWTS, some March Madness, Brady Bunch reruns on TVLand
What I Want to Remember...
  • Having my mom spend a weekend with me in Austin. We shopped, worked on several projects around the apartment, and visited the food carts on South Congress.
  • Spotting the first wildflowers blooming around Austin.
  • Meeting Michelle's new puppy Eva.
  • Spending Easter weekend at home with my family. We packed a lot in the last few days — a trip to Canton, egg-dyeing at the farm, introducing Handy and Max, Easter dinner, and more.
  • Seeing Meryl Davis and Charlie White win their second world title in ice dance (in Canada, no less.) I was also happy Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold skated well enough to earn the U.S. women three spots for the Olympics.
  • Getting ready for church in less than 20 minutes when I overslept for our early bells performance the morning after the time change. I can get ready quickly if I put my mind to it.
  • Seeing the ground covered with hail from an overnight storm. It really did look like snow.
  • Working out in my fun new work-out shoes.

Easter eggs

About My Monthly Round-Ups
At the end of each month, I take a look back and write a post about the month's highlights, as well as what I read and watched. To see all of my round-up posts, visit this page.