A Framework for Gratitude.

November 11, 2015
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It’s a curious thing to live in a space where you are related to almost everyone who has haunted the halls, or the walls, before you. On some days, you feel like if you are quiet enough, reverent enough, or maybe just aware at all, that you can in some way get a sense of the souls who inhabited the space before. It’s the blessing of an old house. Besides non-existent closets, this is something that only comes with pre-war construction. Unfortunately (to me), this house isn’t haunted, but it definitely has a presence. As you walk into this space, it feels like babies were born here. Like dinners were served over laughter here. That something good before you came together. Here.

It also holds a lot of potential. It’s mostly untapped potential of lives lived before the opportunities we have now, but it’s also in its simple layout, its small frame and its considerable age. As I look around, I mostly just see everything that it could be, everything that needs to be done. But in reality, there’s beauty in where it is and what is has withstood.  This home has a lot of stories, euphoric and tragic, there’s no doubt. I just don’t know many of them. But sometimes, if I’m quiet enough, reverent enough, or maybe just aware at all, I think that’s why this house drew me here.

But let me back up. More than five years ago, we moved from the center of giant Houston to the outside of small Austin and into my great grandparents’ house. My mother’s, mother’s, mother and father were the second residents of the home in the 1920s, followed by my grandmother’s brother (my great uncle) from the 1960s through the early 2000s.

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That’s my great uncle on the right. He was a dancer on Broadway in the 1940s, and that is his official headshot. He was born Phillip Jefferson Allen, but always went by P.J.  Except, in New York he went by Leigh Allen (his stage name), and lived on Christopher Street, and danced at the Roxy Theater with Ethel Merman in Something for the Boys and Annie Get Your Gun. He also allegedly ran with Cole Porter, amongst other West Village heroes of the day… and I would give almost anything to know his stories. The sad reality is, I don’t know them, because he never told them. I’m not a hundred percent sure why he didn’t open up, but I’d speculate that we weren’t ready. He was a man born too soon, I guess. I can only guess. But now, instead of his tales, I have barns full of his memories and artifacts of his later profession, designing and building parade floats. But that’s another story.

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And these were his parents. This is a closer shot of the photo on the upper left, a photo of my great grandparents, George and Arnie Bell Allen. I love the way she is smirking into the air…and I really love the way he is looking at her. George was a Texas Ranger, she was kind, loved children more than anyone could understand, and baked bread every day. What I know about them is not enough, but I love this line that was in my great uncle PJ’s obituary:

“His parents loved to dance, and the children were taught to waltz as they learned to walk. In the Allen family, honesty, kindness and manners were of utmost importance. P.J. said his most valued possession was his friendship with his parents.”

Whoa. His most valued possession was his friendship with his parents. As someone who is raising a son, that feels like a lot of good to live up to, and I live in their home.

When we first moved in, probably for the first year or two, we were working on the bones and structure of the house, and I was too intimidated, confused, or overwhelmed to do anything with the decor.  So it sat undone, an open space of drab, incompletely existing in between neglected decay and what’s next. It was odd and sort of depressing.

I wanted to honor its former residents, but I wasn’t sure how. Because a Texas Ranger and a dancer-turned-parade-float-maker have very different styles and sensibilities, and I had no idea how to recognize any of that while incorporating my own thing, especially since I wasn’t sure what my own thing would be.

But then I saw a photo in a magazine of a wall of photos and it made sense. I would fill the walls with those who had lived here, visited here, spent holidays here. I thought if I featured a collection of those who had been here before, it would unlock how I should arrange things now. So I did it. I found a bunch of photos.

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Like this one. This photo was taken on Christmas 1947 in the room I am currently sitting in as I type this. On the left, the third woman back from the front is my grandmother, who was then, in this photo, the age that I am now. Today, there is only one person in this photo who is still with us. The front baby on the right side, that baby is my mother.  Everyone else is gone.

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Or this photo from 1951. This photo was taken in the next room, the room where this photo hangs now. And man, I would love to hear what they are laughing about. Well some are laughing, some are very serious. My great grandparents are sitting in the middle, surrounded by their seven children and their families. Almost half of the seven took their own lives. There are some stories there, trapped in a time where people didn’t tell their stories or have any words to name depression, much less to understand it. And yet in the midst of it, there is joy. That’s what I wanted to frame.

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I have about 50 of these photos collected. Black and white photos taken at, near, or connected to the house. So I spray painted 50 frames blue and began to hang them up on the wall. Most of them hint at stories I don’t know.

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Like, my great uncle, the “old bachelor” as they say around here, well, he was married once. To a lady. There’s a story there.

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Or my great grandfather, who was not only a Texas Ranger, he was the Sheriff of this county. He is standing tall, back row, middle at the Capitol in Austin where he served as Secret Service. But check out the little dude in front with the giant hat, posing with the cigar and the gun. There is definitely a story there.

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Or this guy. Who is this guy? I have no idea. But he also has a gun (Texas) and he is not messing around with trespassers. As they have trespassed against us.

I began to put these around the house, paying tribute, and slowly (very slowly), quietly, the patterns started coming together. The house, as it currently exists and stands, is starting to look connected.  It sounds completely woo-woo, but it worked.

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Here’s a bit of the collection. Only, a ten-year-old human lives here, a growing human boy child who jumps and runs around and bounces balls on the regular. So as a result and after a while, it is truly impossible to keep the frames hung straight up on the wall, and it starts to look like a janky hodge podge hanging in the Weasley’s house … and not in a good way. (Those of you who are really undone by the uneven crookedness of the photos above, you are my people and I feel your pain.)

It was clear that collected together, the snapshots of the past began to look like clutter.

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So I took them down today.

It now looks different. A bit stark, a bit blank, but also clean and fresh.

The symbolism here is obvious.

Those who came before us may have established the scene that we entered, but it’s clear we are here to create what’s next.

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And for all of that, I am thankful.

The Butcher’s Daughter: New York

November 10, 2015
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Photo Credit: Alison Piepmeyer

If you are ever in New York City, in the NoLita area, and hungry, you should check out The Butcher’s Daughter Juice Bar & Cafe. If only to meet this guy. I mean. How cool is he?

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It’s small, it’s mostly outdoor and the vibe is great.

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But also, the food is good. We went for breakfast a few weeks ago for eggs and requisite trendy avocado toast…have you noticed that everyone is now serving avocado toast?…and thank God for that. The schtick is they “treat fruits and vegetables as a butcher would meat.” And they are good at their job.

You can see the whole menu here, which is swell beyond brunch with salads, soups, sandwiches, charcuterie, plates & boards. They also have a lot (like a lot) of juice offerings, including cleanse & wellness packages for local pick up. But we just came for the food and stayed for the great coffee, atmosphere and company.

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Like this gal. She’s the reason that Laurie White and I stopped in here. Our pal Jordan Ferney (who is usually in San Francisco) was in town for some work (a photoshoot for Martha Stewart) and the night before, she had invited us to stand in line with her for tickets to The Comedy Cellar…even though I was staying about two blocks away from The Comedy Cellar, we declined because we are lame…and then Louis C. K. totally showed up and treated them to a set of new material. I’m not even kidding. Because of course he did! (The moral of this story is always go where Jordan and/or New York City beckon and/or invite you.) So we for sure met her at The Butcher’s Daughter the next morning to hear all about it.

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I am a sucker for dippy eggs and soldiers. Even if their soldiers are actually just triangles.

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So if you are in the area, stop in.  You won’t be disappointed.

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Honestly, it’s worth it just to hang with this guy.

He’s our favorite.

Things You Will Need This Week

November 9, 2015
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For some reason this time of year gets us thinking beyond our borders. Beyond our region. Perhaps it’s because it’s beginning to look a lot like ’tis the season…the New York City season. This is true, no mater what is printed on the cups. Even if you are nowhere near the city, it seems everywhere you turn, NYC is in your face. Whether it’s a parade or a tree lighting or any Thanksgiving Christmas Holiday show ever, it’s probably set in NYC. This is how they get you. They lure you in with their festivities. So we’ll offer some of our favorite NYC things to do, see and enjoy whether you are headed in that direction now or later. Let’s go.

To Get Started, This Week You Will Need:

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1. The Hamilton Soundtrack. Just trust us on this. Even if you aren’t that into theater (we get it), you will get going with this. Because it is epic. (Epic.) Brilliant even. It may take a listen or two, but you will get it and you will get into it, and you will get what we’re saying. Give it a chance, you won’t be disappointed. (Also, you might become obsessed. Or maybe that’s just me.)

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Here’s the deal, Hamilton a rap/hip hop concept mixtape album turned Broadway musical about US Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. Skeptical? Understandable. Here’s an overview.

I saw Hamilton in September (with only a medium interest in musicals), I bought the soundtrack the next day and I’ve been listening to it on loop ever since. I’m finally going to post a whole thing about it this week (Spoiler alert: It makes you feel like this.) but you should know more tickets just released today. So make a plan and go. Don’t throw away your shot, because you want to be in the room where it happens. And speaking of the room where it happens…

 

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2. A Dining Table. Are you hosting Thanksgiving at your house this year? If so, you are thinking about space and family and lots of family in a space. We are reminded of this scene in You’ve Got Mail (NYC, again) where friends gather in small spaces to celebrate by singing about French horns. Or something. We are not sure why this is so ideal, but we are suckers for this stuff. On the other hand, if you aren’t hosting friends and family, you might be thinking about food, which might be something you think about on the regular. It is something we think about on the regular. We are already thinking about the mashed potatoes we’ll be eating as we are watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Which again reminds us of New York.

 

6 3. A Few Great Things To Do In NYC. Even if you are nowhere near the city, we are entering NYC season. It’s true, no mater what is printed on the cups. Whether it’s a parade or a tree lighting or any Christmas Holiday show ever, it’s probably set in NYC. This is how they get you. They lure you in with their festivities. So we’ll offer some of our favorite NYC things to do, see and enjoy whether you are headed in that direction now or later.

 74. Stuff for the Kids. Stuff here and thereStuff to keep them engaged. Stuff to keep them out of the pool hall. Stuff to keep them thankful. We’ll cover it all. And stay alert because ’tis the season for kids to be getting into stuff. There’s some debate about if they should get into Hamilton (and we’ll talk about that later in the week) but they will definitely like the soundtrack. Which brings us back to number one.  And the loop continues. Because this week, it all about the Hamiltons, baby. Which will maybe get you one coffee in New York.

Okay so, save your pennies and get in a New York state of mind.

What To Plant In November

November 5, 2015
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It is finally starting to feel a little bit like fall around here* in the smallest of ways. It seems the plants sense this before I do because the tomato trees that just wouldn’t quit are finally checking their Roth IRAs and thinking about retirement. Ever since I remembered that my grandfather would always plant pumpkins on the 4th of July, I’ve tried to set up traditions around holidays…mostly so I can remember to do them. And the last few years I’ve started picking the last of the tomatoes on Halloween. So right now I have a ton of tomatoes (and even more that I’ve freezed along the way) so it’s definitely time to can them in some capacity. I’ll start doing that next week.

But for now, I pulled out the last of the summer garden and I’m planting for winter. Here’s what that looks like for me.

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Cilantro! You love it. Or you hate it. But really you should love it. And now’s the time to plant it. If you cover it on the rare day that it may freeze (in February), this should last you into the spring. Or plant it in pots (fairly big ones) and move them inside when it gets colder. If it gets colder.

Collard Greens. Kale and Spinach. I only really eat collard greens on New Years day and the first few weeks of January when I’m still attempting to keep “eat more greens” resolutions.  But now’s the time to plant collards for that. (Halloween seeds = New Year’s greens). Kale grows really well and it’s a nice thing to plant, as we all tolerate it in our lives because it’s good for us, yes? So right now we are stuck with kale until something more trendily awesome comes along, which, honestly couldn’t be that hard to do or that far off. And of course, spinach is everyone’s green go-to Popeyed friend. You should for sure plant that.

Onions and garlic. These are super easy to plant and grow. Just get your starters at your favorite seed/bulb supply or big box hardware store’s nursery department. They can help you. Or read more here. Basically you just put the starters/bulbs in the ground and get out of the way. Which brings me to…

Bulbs. I am not an expert on these at all, but my grandmother was, and I’m attempting to learn this year. I do know that Fall is the time to plant Spring bulbs. I like the symbolism behind this, so I’m working now for things to grow in the Spring. That’s a nice thought. Here’s a handy bulb planting guide that I’m using and you might like it too. And speaking of planting for the spring…

Fruit Trees. November is the month to plant fruit trees for the future, and here’s a list of fruit trees that grow well in zones 7-9. This house is planting a kumquat tree so we will have one and a Satsuma Orange Frost tree because the Aggies say they are the best.

Whatever you put in the ground this November, I wish it lots of sunshine and water to grow strong into the fake winter. And we plant with hope that we once again have a fake winter. Because we probably will. Enjoy the greens!

*This is written for zones 7-9

Play Outside: Take a Family Hike

November 2, 2015
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Besides “Drink more water” the phrase my kids hear most often is “Go outside. Now.”

For me, everything improves when it’s outside. And fresh air is the single most effective head-clearing, attitude-shifting tool I have in my arsenal, so I tend to get evangelical about it with my own offspring.

The problem is, kids are not always immediately receptive to their parents’ brand of gospel, so over the years I’ve had to learn a few extra tricks to make outdoor outings fun for everyone. Spoiler alert: it’s not complicated. Just aim for simple and light-hearted and the fun will follow.

Today let’s talk hiking. Remember hiking? It’s like walking but with all your senses in overdrive. It’s like exercise dipped in make-believe.

So how do you make hiking fun for your whole family? Besides the commonsense guidelines of “Know your route; stay together; wear sunscreen; carry water” here are a few of my favorite tips.

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How To Make Hiking Fun for Your Whole Family
  1. Don’t call it hiking. Call it adventuring! Hiking means trudging along one foot in front of the other. Adventuring means exploring new lands and bringing home treasures. It’s all in the pitch, y’all.
  1. Keep your expectations realistic. Before you start, establish a general timeframe with a beginning, middle and end. “We’ll explore for a while, stop for a swim, then go get tacos at the end.”

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  1. Bring a snack no matter the distance. A granola bar goes a long way if anyone gets grumpy. There’s also no shame in amping up the treats. On longer hikes I never leave home without a candy stash. This is especially effective if you limit candy during their everyday lives. I grew up associating peppermint lifesavers with extended church services. Family hikes are now our form of worship, and my kids get through the long ones with the help of Saint Jolly Rancher. 
  1. Travel light, but smart. I’m a big fan of making kids carry their own water because they have easy access to it, they feel independent, and of course because I’m not schlepping it for them. Camelbaks or similar water packs come in all different sizes, and your kids can also use them during bike rides, sports practices or field trips.   
  1. Make a game of treasure hunting. Find the perfect hiking stick or a small rock or leaf to bring home. Our family is always on the lookout for heart-shaped rocks, but we typically bring home only photos of them.

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  1. Look for local birds, animal tracks or even better…scat. Show me a kid who doesn’t like to talk about poop! And really, if you’re out in the nature it seems more than appropriate.
  1. Entertain each other on the trail. Sometimes we make up stupid songs or wild stories. More often we play Categories (where you take turns naming fruits or Harry Potter characters from A to Z.) When questions come up like, “What kind of tree is that and why does its bark look that way?” we try to answer without our friend Google…which usually means, “I have no idea. Let’s brainstorm the reasons.” Remember the fun of not knowing the answer to something? Old school!
  1. Talk to each other, or not. With older kids, hiking is a great time to simply be in the same place with them, even if you aren’t talking. On the trail, I never have to push the conversation with my tween or teen–it usually happens at their own speed and on their own terms. They love this.

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  1. Stop periodically. Climb a tree, build a fort from branches, skip some rocks, or take a dip in a creek.
  1. Quit while you’re ahead. When in doubt, finish early so you end on a high note. Next time you can push it further. For now, go get those tacos and plan your next adventure.

 

Great places near Austin for hiking/adventuring:

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Elizabeth McGuire is a writer, photographer and mother of three from Austin. Her words and images have appeared in print, online and on stage. She is a 5th-generation Texan who loves boots but somehow doesn’t eat barbecue. (www.ewmcguire.com)

Things You Will Need This Week

November 2, 2015
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Happy November. We are so grateful that we survived the week of candy and crazy and crazy candy. Between Halloween and the time change and impending climate change and/or doom, we somehow made it through. And we are grateful (oh so grateful) that we are here, in November, our favorite month of gratitude.

All throughout the month we will be counting our blessings for so many things, and this week we are starting with the basics. So here’s a roundup of things you will need this week. We will also do our best to fulfill them. Let’s go.

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1. You Will Need To Go Outside. Now that we have reached a month when it is not 1,000 degrees outside, we are very happy to encourage you to go outside and enjoy every single second of it. The weather is becoming ideal for anything outdoors. Hiking. Zip lining. Golfing. Running (some of us are starting Couch to 5K training this week). We have lots of outdoors in store this week because it’s a good time to be in this part of the world and be outside.

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Well, mostly…Except for a variety of residual hurricanes and resulting torrential flash floods. I mean, other that those 16 inches of rain that fell on our houses within a few hours on Friday, not to mention the tornadoes, it’s totally perfect.

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AP Photo/The Austin American-Statesman, Jay Janner

And speaking of last Friday, last Friday’s floods, A) What the heck was that? and B) the tornados shut down all the Internets, so we couldn’t share Elizabeth’s post about how you should go outside. IRONY? We think so. We also still think you should outside now. Because today, it’s quite lovely. Although you know what they say about Texas weather….so you should probably hurry.

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2. You Also Will Need To Not Forget Thanksgiving. I opened up my Facebook this morning to no less than five (FIVE) humans who were sharing their Christmas tree decorations that they put up yesterday. No. Just, no. Do not forget Thanksgiving (unless you are in Canada and Thanksgiving was weeks ago) But America, you got to chill. No Christmas until the Turkey has been made into turkey curry salad for leftovers. Thems the rules.

So this week, we’re going to talk about space and family and how we’re getting ready for the most wonderful holiday of the year (Hint: It’s Thanksgiving. And it’s offended by your preemptive Christmas tree.)

 

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3. You Will Need To Consume a Good Bit of Water. Admit it and face it, you are still hungover from last week’s high fructose corn syrup overload. There’s no shame to your game, but your body wants water and fast. We are also starting a new face/skincare regimen around here to help with that. We will let you know how that is going later in the week.

 

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4. And You Will Need Some Vegetables. And ’tis the season to plant them. Besides corn syrup, Halloween means picking the last of your tomatoes, pulling out all of your summer garden, and planting for the winter. We’re going to talk about that on Thursday. And finally…

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5. You Will Need a Break. Some Ease. And Some Easy Ideas. If you have small humans in your life, getting through last week was no small feat. Between the candy and the parties, the sportsball games, and the time change, well, bless your head. You need a nap. But you can’t have a nap because we are now entering the most wonderful time of the year which demands that you are ready with crafts. It’s a whole thing. So until you can bust out the Shrinky Dinks Christmas set (not yet, see #2), you need easy, fast and smart ideas to occupy hours and brains. So Tish, mother of two little ones, will share really easy ways to encourage creative play…or a slacker mom’s guide to surviving craft season. Same thing. And several of them involve sending kids outside. Which brings us back to number one. And the loop continues. Because this week, it all comes back to backyards. And kids.

Okay so, Happy Kids and Dogs Outside Week!

Fishsticks & Queso Party

October 29, 2015
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A couple of weeks ago, we hosted a queso & fishsticks party at a bookstore in order to honor penguins.

 I love that last sentence.

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We actually gathered to honor this lady. Mary Laura Philpott. She wrote a book called Penguins with People Problems. It’s funny.

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And as promised, we had Fishsticks. Lots of them.

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And queso. In the pumpkin head of a penguin who was puking guacamole. Classy.

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And people came! This is Wendi Aarons, co-host and Queso writer on the left. And Omar Gallaga, totally legit Technology, Culture reporter for the Austin American-Statesman. And all-around great guy.

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And Elizabeth Jayne Liu lives here now (sorry LA) and she came! Also, I look like a giant next to Elizabeth Jayne Liu. She is teeniny!

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And Deep Eddy Vodka came.

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Everyone loves Deep Eddy Vodka.

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But in the end, it was really all about this lady in the middle of a Queso sandwich here.

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And Penguins with People Problems

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And Fishsticks.

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And Queso.

Thank you so much to everyone that came out!

You guys are the best.

10 in 10: LAST-MINUTE HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS FOR UNDER $10

October 28, 2015
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I talked to a friend today who was lamenting the fact that she hadn’t done anything yet for Halloween. I was legitimately confused.

“Halloween isn’t until Saturday,” I said.

“No, I mean for Halloween season. I’ve been slammed at work, and I haven’t had time to do Halloween, like carve pumpkins or decorate the house.”

Halloween season? I’m pretty sure for moms in the 70s and 80s, there were no seasonal seasons and “doing Halloween” consisted of buying whatever plastic Star Wars Scooby Doo costume we screamed for the grocery store along with a plastic pumpkin to carry around while we begged for Butterfingers. And maybe, maybe, they served up TV dinners on whatever night the nation collectively watched “It’s a Good Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” But that’s it. That’s. It. Decades before Pinterest happened, Halloween happened three days before it happened. With $10 or less. And I see no reason why we can’t do the same thing now. And that’s it.

I posted a similar version of this a few years ago (#wbw/#tbt/#etc), but we hold these truths to be self evident, still, today, now. Plus, we typically decorate for kids…and kids have no concept of timing (one hour = 5 years, to my son) so three days is like forever enough time to celebrate pumpkins, spiced or not. Therefore I give you, again, 10 legit ways to “do Halloween” in 3 days for under $10. Let’s go.3

You can get these little weird gourds almost anywhere. And right now, they’re totally on sale at most places because stores are already attempting to fill up every square millimeter with decor de Christmas, which is so two months from now.

 

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If you are against buying real gourds which are weird, you can get these reusable ceramic numbers at the dollar store. Trust me, I have 5 dollar stores within 5 miles of my house. Work.

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Candy. This is the week for candy. And candy corns. (And around here, we loves us some candy corns) If you don’t like to eat it, it’s cute to jar up around the house…and if you do like to eat it, you’ll love to eat it on ice cream. Plus it’s $1 at 5 places within 5 miles of the house.

 

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They’re cheap. They’re festive. Put a dollar’s worth of them next to your kid’s pencil stash, and you are festive. Well done.

 

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Again, dollar store. Or if you are crafty, you can make them. 

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Or pumpkin lights. $8 at Target.

 

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Placemats. Dollar store. And this set up can last through Thanksgiving.

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Or make it scarier with Poison plates. I like decoration that also has function. Like plates. Melamine plates especially, because as hard a children try, they are hard to destroy. I got these poison plates at Target a few years ago but they are good about having seasonal plates every season. Also Crate and Barrel has some cute black cat plates.  Or Amazon has kooky ghost plates. With Amazon prime, they can be delivered to you in 10 minutes or something.

 

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Dish towels. Like your mom would rock. And you would remember. $1.

 

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Craft store bats. Pin ribbons on them and hang them around. Spooooky!

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I saw buntings for sale at a gas station in central Texas, which only means, they are now LITERALLY everywhere.  $1.

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And finally, my son’s favorite. A Dollar Store foam cemetery. It’s just not Halloween with a few gravestones lying around.

Because nothing reminds you how much time you have, more than a Dollar Store foam cemetery.

No really, it’s not too late.

#YOLO.

Go.

 

Texas Women’s Conference: Epic Women in Texas

October 27, 2015
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Does every state do this?  Bring together thousands of women in one room to talk about important issues? Well, they should!  Huge props to our Queso pal Wendi and her whole team who put this shin-dig together for over 7,000 attendees.  There were so many people there, in fact, that I had to park in the satellite parking.  No problem, the shuttle ferried me to the convention center to drop me at the front door.  Nice.

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I missed the opening speakers, but heard fantastic references to them throughout the day.  One of the morning speakers was Candy Chang who created the “Before I die…” project.  They had a chalkboard wall in the middle of the expo for anyone to chalk up their contributions.  You can check out her book on the project as well.  It was really great to watch women from all walks and stages of life synthesize their goals on this space in the middle of the room.  I think it symbolized the purpose of this conference really well.

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So, I walked in, and collected my swag bag with snacks, treats from Mary Kay and some other fun little things.  The Expo was filled with healthcare information from breast exams to skin care to nutrition.  There was also a marketplace for job and education opportunities.  There were several female-run or focused businesses there sharing their expertise and their products.  They even included a mini art gallery for art done “by women of women.” This capsule art show really highlighted the diversity among women- color, focus, age, personality, etc.  It was lovely.  The Expo had several places to sit and network as well as several round-table discussions.  It was a vibrant place to be in between sessions.

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I was able to do two sessions while I was there.  I listened to Carson Tate talk about “Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style.”  She emphasized the importance of saying “No.”  We like to say “yes” to so many things, but we need to account for the fact that embedded in that “yes” is an implied “no” to something else.  Wow!  That is powerful stuff.  When we fill our time then we leave no time for other things we might want to say “yes” to.  As a habitual over-planner, this stopped me in my tracks.  She went on to discuss the idea of working out a “time budget.”  She said that time is a commodity that has more value than dollars.  You can always go make more money, but you can never make more time.  Be careful of those to whom you give a blank check of your time, and be sure to look at your time as an investment.  All of this is to say that we need to be very intentional with how we spend, use and plan our time.  Excellent advice!

My second sessions was with Wendy Wallbridge on the “Five Co-Creative Powers for Women on the Rise.”  She teaches women to “cultivate the five co-creative powers of energy, thoughts, feelings, speech, and action—the fundamentals of self-creation—in order to redefine success and re-author their lives.”  We did a powerful moment of exchange wherein one woman shared how she opened up to a colleague in a very professional way about some struggles in the office.  That colleague turned out to be a director, and has since become a mentor to her.  In that moment of struggle, she embraced her “feminine” side to make it work to her advantage, and thereby making her a more complete and successful leader.  I am definitely interested to hear more about Wendy’s ideas.

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The highlight was definitely the luncheon speakers.  We heard from several women leaders from different fields leading up to the first main speaker, Patricia Arquette.  You might remember that she won an Oscar for “Boyhood,” which was filmed in and around Austin over the course of 12 years.  In her acceptance speech, Ms. Arquette brought to light the struggle over income inequality for women, issues facing women today in regards to healthcare and childcare, and more.  Anne-Marie Slaughter, former director of policy planning for the US State Dept., interviewed Ms. Arquette on stage.  It was really interesting to see how the dialogue around women’s issues touches us all from actors to politicians to executives to bloggers!  These are challenging and exciting times, and the conversation is often charged.  I think ultimately this is a good thing!  We need everyone’s passion and the different points of view to come together for creative solutions that improve all of our lives.  This is all about building each other up.  Doesn’t that sound better already?

The second speaker was Robin Roberts.  She was interviewed by Tory Johnson, who also works on Good Morning America.  First, let me say, Robin is gorgeous!  She is tall, athletic and high-energy.  I would just love to hang out with her.  I might have to get a trainer to ready myself to really “hang” with her as I get the feeling she is crazy active and athletic!  Anyway, she talked about her rise from athlete to ESPN to GMA, and how she very nearly didn’t take the GMA offer as she didn’t think she could do it.  How often do we limit ourselves?!  Thanks to a friend (encouraging friends are a must!), she took the leap.  Aren’t we all glad she did?  She also discussed her health battles, and her Mom.  It was all very inspiring.  We loved all of the “Momisms” as she called them- so many quotable quotes!  She left us with her favorite one- “When fear knocks…let faith answer the door.”  What powerful words!

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If you get the chance to attend conferences such as these if not this very excellent conference next year, then you should jump on it.  If you make it to Austin for the conference next year…there just might be some excellent queso in it for you as well as an equally delicious margarita!

Cheers to all the ladies out there who are handling it every day!  We are on your team!

Things You Need This Week

October 26, 2015
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We are going to try a new start this week with a new roundup of things you will need this week. We will also do our best to fulfill them. Let’s go.

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Photo credit: Lions And Daisies

  1. Candy. And possibly an item of clothing that references candy. (From Lions And Daisies on Etsy). Because a lot of kids will be swarming your house, demanding candy. And if you’re in Texas, the minis are probably wanting the good stuff, and by good stuff, we mean Candy Corn. Because according to Influenster, who surveyed more than 40,000 people to find out the most popular candy in each state, Texas kids are children of the candy corn. top-candy-in-the-usThey probably didn’t factor in/know about Sugar Skulls though (we’ll talk about those on Wednesday) Also, I just read that that Americans will spend more than $2.8-billion on candy this Halloween, and A) that is gross and B) that is equal to the cost of almost four trips to the moon.  And no one’s doing that anymore. Our priorities are sugar-coated.pumpkin-puke
  2. Pumpkins. Or at least one pumpkin. ‘Tis the week to buy a pumpkin. You know it’s true, and we’ll talk more about that tomorrow. We’ll also features some photos of our Fishsticks & Queso party, like the one above where a penguin pumpkin is puking. Classy.curry

  3. Spice. But not pumpkin spice. That crap jumped the tank in 2009. We’re talking spice to cancel out your sweet (see #1). We recommend curry. Come with us on Thursday for a trip to Brick Lane.H-dipping-2-624x415

  4. Fruit. You’re also going to need this to cancel out your candy. Or in our case, to complement it. Friday we’re doing a throwback roundup of ways to Halloween costume your favorite candied apples.Elizabeth-hiking

  5. To Go Outside. Trust us, you need to get your backside outside. For one, to go all around the neighborhood, begging for candy. And for two, to work off all those Butterfingers you’ll be swallowing. You know it’s true. And around here, as of just this week, the weather is finally fine…so get outside and get to it. Elizabeth recommends hiking, and she’ll let you know about it on Friday. Just in time for your hike around the neighborhood, begging for candy. Which brings us back to number one. And the loop continues. Because this week, it all comes back to candy.

Okay so, Happy Candy Week!