Thursday, April 26, 2012

Poochinis & Peticures

Lofty Dog in downtown Austin hosts Poochinis & Peticures once a month, and tonight's event is sure to be a blast! Join me and some of the cutest small dogs from the Austin Animal Center for complimentary drinks (for the humans) and "peticures" (for the pups). Tonight's event benefits a very special cause- the Hard Luck Hounds of the Animal Center. This special group of volunteers have dedicated themselves to saving the last 10% of the shelter animals, as our city continues to make strides towards being No Kill. These volunteers want to make sure that No Kill really means No Kill, so that even the dogs who just never get picked can find a forever home too.

So if you're in the downtown area, with or without a pet, be sure to stop by!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Out and About: Hopfield's

I'm a sucker for any place that has good beer and a cool atmosphere. Hopfield's tops the charts in both categories. Hunk and I dined there with friends on Saturday night and it's the perfect place for gathering with it's communal tables and open dining area. The place itself isn't huge, but it does lend itself to really great people watching. If you're wanting something a little more intimate, there is another space in the back with 2 corner seating areas, and it's definitely quieter than the main room.

The menu is French-pub, with steak frites, daily tartes, a charcuterie plate and the most delicious burger in Austin (complete with a side of homemade aioli in a cute little jar). After making our beer selection- they have many great choices on draft, including several local beers- we moved on to deciding on food. We started with a Small Bites platter and a cheese plate by Antonelli's (another favorite shop of mine). Hunk and I shared a burger, and everyone else got the steak frites (to rave reviews). Drinks and dinner are ordered at the bar, but a server brings it to you and comes by frequently to make sure everyone is doing alright.

On Saturday night, it was definitely busy, but not too crowded. We could carry on a conversation, but still enjoyed the chatter of those having fun around us. Hopfield's is a casual, yet classy establishment, and I will definitely be going back again!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April Birchbox

My April Birchbox was in the mail yesterday, and I couldn't be more excited about the great things inside. Right off the bat- it felt heavier. Heavier is good, right? To me, it means more things. And I was right, for the most part. While each Birchbox typically has 5 items, 2 of the items have a larger quantity than what I received before.

The theme for this month is "Natural Wonders", with an emphasis on fresh products packed with natural ingredients. As always, the wrapping was adorable, and it as all I could do to not tear into it to find my goodies.

Inside my April Birchbox:

1- Yes To Blueberries Brightening Facial Towelettes: I wanted to use one of these immediately on my grimy, sweaty, post-run face, but I decided to wait (only because I picked a different product instead). I did open the bag and these wipes smell wonderful. The sample size has 8, but a full-size contains 30 wipes for $7.99, which I think is a great deal. I can see carrying these around for post-workouts just to avoid sweaty face for too long.

2- Be Fine Exfoliating Cleanser and Daily Moisturizer: I decided to use 1 of the 3 samples of this exfoliating cleanser to get rid of all the dirt I picked up from running on the trail after work. The exfoliator is made with brown sugar, almond oil and oats. I was expecting it to smell great, but not so much. I think that's a good thing though, because it didn't have any artificial fragrance in it. The exfoliant part was really thorough, but it resulted in a fairly creamy lather. My skin felt fantastic afterwards. There are also 2 samples of the Rosemary and Pomegranate Moisturizer that I'll likely try tomorrow. At $25 for a full-sized tube, I'll think a little more before deciding to purchase one of these. I'm always looking for a good day-time moisturizer though.

3- Lulu Organics Lavendar+Sage Hair Powder: I have only tried one dry shampoo before (a cheap grocery store one) and was less than impressed. I'm looking forward to giving this a try, because I can rarely get away with not washing my hair every day. It's fine, and a little too oily to look good. The site promises that it doesn't leave a chalky residue. If that's true, it's a winner in my book.

4- Zoya TRUE Spring Collection Nail Polish: The color included in my box is Bevin, a greenish-blue tint that I can't imagine will look good on my cadaver-white feet (I usually stick with reds and pinks). The polish itself looks like it would paint on thick and smooth, but I'm not going to bother painting my toes with it. If anyone has a color they want to trade, please let me know.

5- Wonderstruck Taylor Swift: I can't believe I'm saying this, but I love how this smells!! It's fresh, and not too strong. There are hints of both fruit and floral- I really can't put my finger on anything in particular though. All I know is that I dabbed it on my wrists this morning, and continued to catch whiffs of it all morning. It's a great summer scent!

So- who else gets a Birchbox? Did you get yours in the mail already? What do you like/dislike?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lunch in a Box: Vegetable Spring Rolls

I wrote about the Easy Lunchboxes that I bought a few weeks ago, and I am still really enjoying using them. They help with portion control, and the 3 compartments inspire me to fill them with a variety of things. I often post pictures of my lunches on Instagram and Twitter, but enough friends have asked for "recipes" of the things that I make- so I thought I would share some of my favorites.

It has been years since I made vegetable spring rolls, and now I remember why. They take quite a bit of time to make, but the effort is totally worth it. The recipe is really flexible, and you can make as many or as few as you want. I used the recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod as inspiration, but adjusted it as needed. I also made my own peanut sauce, using the things that were already in my pantry.

This is a 3-step process. Cook the rice noodles, assemble the rolls, and then make the peanut sauce. Ideally, they store for about 3 days. I was able to stretch mine to 4. Three rolls made a perfect "girly" sized serving, but I was sure to add a few things to the meal to make it substantial. For this particular lunch, I added a quick and easy edamame salad and sliced mango for dessert.

Vegetable Spring Rolls:

1 red bell pepper, cut into narrow strips
1 zucchini, cut into narrow strips
shredded carrots
romaine lettuce
fresh cilantro, chopped
rice vermicelli noodles, cooked
rice paper sheets (and a shallow dish for soaking them in warm water)

Get all ingredients into an assembly area. Dip rice paper in warm water until softened, and then place on wax paper for rolling. Tear off a piece of romaine to cover about 1/3 of the rice paper, and use it as a base for the other ingredients. Take a small handful of noodles, and then layer 2 strips each of peppers/zucchini, and then a sprinkling of carrots and cilantro. Roll tightly, tucking in the ends as you go along.

Store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

Peanut dipping sauce:

2-3 T almond (or peanut) butter
3 T low-sodium Tamari
3 T rice vinegar
Sriracha to taste
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1 T Agave Nectar (mainly because I used too much Sriracha)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. I'm sure I ended up adding more liquid, but this is my best guestimate. Just taste as you go, and adjust as needed. 

Edamame Salad:

1-2 T vegetable broth
1 cup frozen corn
1 bell pepper, diced
1 cup frozen edamame
salt and pepper
1-2 T lemon juice
fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray lightly with no-stick spray. 
Toss the veggies with enough broth to coat, spread out on baking sheet, and season with salt and pepper.
Roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring once or twice.
Remove from oven to cool, and then toss with lemon juice and cilantro to taste. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Giving the Gift of Love.....eHarmony Style

I decided to dust off my relationship blogger persona long enough to post a giveaway of sorts. The brilliant idea is courtesy of Hunk, so I guess you can thank him for this.

Rarely do I check my mail, and when I do- it's usually not that exciting (unless of course it's Birchbox day!) But this evening, I pulled out an invitation-sized, thicker than normal envelope from eHarmony of all things. In case you're new to the blog, that is how Hunk and I met. You can read that story here. When I decided to shut down my account, I told them it was because I had met someone through the site. They followed up a few months later to see if things were still going well, and of course I answered with an overzealous yes! So either they're really happy for me, or really desperate for some new customers. Either way, they sent me these:

Two VIP Membership cards, good for one month of free eHarmony service. 

There was another enclosure card from the eHarmony CEO himself, saying how happy they were to play a part in finding someone just right for me. He also said that it's an amazing feeling to help bring a happy couple together, so they want to pass along that opportunity by letting me help someone else do the same. Cheesy, I know. But I tell you worked for me!

I'll spare you my long storied internet dating history. Let's just say I've been around the block once or ten times. I've tried most dating sites, and have had minimal success on all of them. When I decided to give eHarmony another go, I told myself that I was in it for the long haul, that I really needed to give it about 6 months in order to expand my dating pool. I just didn't think in the first two days that I would end up connecting with someone the way I did. But there you go.

I think internet dating is a great way to meet people, to learn HOW to date, and- if you're lucky- to meet the person of your dreams. And now I have these two cards to give away to anyone else who wants to try it. Here's what you have to do though. I want to hear your worst dating story. If enough people respond, I might have a vote off for the final two winners. Don't be shy. This will be fun- I promise!!! Feel free to share your worst dating story ever in the comment section, and be sure to use a name (real or fake) so that I can call out the winners. Or maybe you're not single, but you know someone who is and think they deserve to win. Just tell me why they should get it, and I'll consider that too. I'll pick the two winners on April 30th.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sock Bun Fail

I saw a funny saying (that of course I pinned) that said "Being successful is getting paid for doing what you really love. But I have yet to find someone to pay me for drinking wine and browsing Pinterest." Isn't that the truth? Pinterest is home to such lovely little things. But I'm often given false hope that by the simple act of "pinning" an idea, I'll be able to fully execute it myself. Case in point: the sock bun. Have you seen all the adorable pictures of perfectly fussy, buxom buns perfectly perched on these cute little heads?

Well, I did- and I couldn't resist trying it. Surely the secret for a voluminous bun lied in the simple cutting of a sock. Even the pages that promised us fine-haired girls could pull it off lured me into believing it was true. Well, sorry to break it to you.....but they're lies. Lies, lies, lies!!! I cut off the last yucky pair of socks I own, followed the instructions to a T, and was left with this:

Sock bun in the front

Just plain sock in the back

Am I missing a step? I tried it again where I just put the sock at the base of my head, and then wrapped the hair around it, tucking in the ends underneath. I was slightly more successful that way, but there was still way too much of the sock sticking out. Ho-hum. Guess it wasn't meant to be!

Hoppy Easter!

Is this thing still on? Glad Blogger doesn't shut it down after a period of inactivity. The good news is...I'm back!!! They say Easter is a day of renewal, and after 6 weeks of eating plants/beans/grains, I definitely feel renewed (and more ready than ever to eat some cheese!!!) I learned a lot during our Lent-inspired Plant Based Eating, and look forward to keeping up a healthier diet. But moderation is key, and I cannot wait to at least resume a more social schedule that includes the occasional delicious meal.

Hunk and I ended our "Jesus fast" (as a good friend jokingly referred to it) Friday night with pizza from Home Slice- possibly my favorite pizza place in Austin. We didn't have meat on it, but we did have some gooey, stringy cheese with roasted red peppers and spinach. It was amazing, at least at that moment. On Saturday morning, when we were both doing our respective long runs, it didn't feel quite so good. Lesson learned. But over the course of the weekend as we celebrated with family, we indulged in a variety of tasty food, and my stomach seemed to come out mostly unscathed.

It was a beautiful weekend and a great two days spent with my wonderful family. We made the traditional bunny cake (my niece Georgia did her best to help- mostly by consuming all the extra candy we used to decorate.) My mom fixed appetizers and dinner that we enjoyed on the patio Saturday night, and then Church/Brunch/Egg Hunting on Sunday. Hunk joked with my mom that I'm going to have to do some training next year prior to the egg hunt. He was thoroughly disappointed in my ability to find the good eggs. My brother ended up the big winner this year, finding both of the big prize eggs. It all went by way too fast, but everyone had a good time.

My mom saw this idea on Pinterest, and executed it even better than the original.

G says "Happy Easter!"

Table set for brunch.

Amy and Hunk

"Hunting" for eggs.

Another highlight of the weekend- getting my Fantasy Football trophy with my team name engraved on the side.

These next few weeks are busy with house-sitting, garage sailing and evening my first trip to Oklahoma (to meet Hunk's family). But I'm hoping to make time to blog once or twice a week while still finding time to enjoy all the fun things there are to do in Austin this time of year.