Favorite Things: April 2013

I’m considering different formats for this feature, so forgive me if I start playing around with stuff and my posts aren’t consistent.  However, while I debate and consider and ponder, here is a quick rundown of some of my favorite things from April!

Clive Barker’s Abarat: Absolute Midnight

The third installment of the Abarat series, this one is just as delicious as the previous two.  I was having trouble really getting into a book recently, but this one hooked me and will hopefully get me back on track with reading more regularly.  I’ve been reading almost every night again.  Also, the book features so many colorful, fantastic (much like the colorful, fantastic characters that inhabit the story) art pieces done by Mr. Barker.  Chapter by chapter, I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.  And when I’m finished, I will patiently await the next book.

Hempz Treats Body Lotions

Chantel and I have been picking these up at Marshall’s for about $6 each, and they are so great.  They smell like delicious, sugary treats like Strawberry Cheesecake, Pumpkin Spice Latte, and Sugar Lemon Squares.  Yummy!

Making Plans with Friends

Any excuse to spend time with friends is a good one.  Whether it’s tea and a sweet snack at the book store or a trip to Dallas to nerd out at an anime convention with faraway friends, I’m excited about upcoming friend-time.  I always feel so happy when I’m around friends, people who understand me and share some of my interests and loves.  My occasional bookstore tea and treats date with the lovely Vanessa always makes me feel ready to move forward with writing and other projects (even though I tend to easily get stuck and lose my momentum), and my annual trip up to Dallas for A-Kon (which I will hopefully blog about) lets me reconnect with friends I haven’t seen, only communicated with online, for a year.  And this year we’ll be enjoying our Japanese pop culture while celebrating friendship as well as my (and Chantel’s)  graduation!

Saving

I’ve never been particularly good at saving.  Anytime I save some money, I end up having to use it for something instead of being able to leave it alone.  However, almost 10 weeks ago I started a 52-week savings challenge.  Week 1 started with $1 in the jar, week 2 had me adding $2 more, and so on.  The idea is that as the weeks increase, so to does the amount you save each week.  In other words, in the final week, week 52, I will add $52 to the jar and complete the challenge with a total of $1,378 saved.  Then I can use it for whatever I want and start the process all over again.  It feels good to stash that little bit of money aside every week and seeing it (with the help of a nice little print-out to track my progress) add up.

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Chantel and I threw together some fancy chocolate chip cookie dough this evening and are going to bake cookies tomorrow afternoon.  They feature bitter-sweet chocolate and salt.  I love a good salty-sweet treat, so I’m excited to see (and taste!) how they turn out.  If they’re super delicious, they might earn themselves a quick blog post.  ^_~

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Favorite Things: March 2013

Time for my favorite things from March!

1. Trying new, yummy recipes.

My sister and I cook and bake a lot, so we try new recipes fairly frequently, but sometimes we get into a rut and make the same, or mostly the same, meals each week.  However, we’ve tried and enjoyed a lot of new things this month, including a delicious chicken and chorizo dish, a homemade buffalo chicken salad with homemade bleu cheese dressing, and this delicious recipe for Red Roasted Carrots.

2. Sing-along piano bar.

Chantel and I joined our friend Vanessa at the monthly sing-along piano bar held at Brewster Street Icehouse the second Saturday of the month.  I’ve enjoyed this type of entertainment once before at Howl at the Moon in San Antonio several years ago, and I’m glad I have the opportunity to partake of it here in town now.  The guy who sings and plays piano at the show is very funny, and it’s cool to hear so many different songs (and types of songs) performed on piano and in different styles.  His accompanying drummer is funny too.  If you’ve never been to a sing-along piano bar, the idea is to write down a song request and place it on the piano with a “donation.”  It’s basically an all-request show, so you get to hear everything from Journey to Lady Gaga and Backstreet Boys to Tenacious D.  Additionally, the restaurant/bar that hosts the show had really good food and a nice, relaxed atmosphere with mostly open-air seating.

3.  Sales and discount stores.

I love shopping sales, and will frequently pass on buying something if it’s not on sale.  I prefer to get more for my money, which usually works out quite well.  I’ve managed to score $80 jeans for $24 at my favorite department store and buy really nice gifts for friends for a fraction of the regular price.  Something I was particularly excited by recently (in light of recently having my hair cut) was finding a hair product I’ve wanted to try for months at Marshall’s for $5.99 versus the $16 it would have cost me to buy it elsewhere.  Yay!

4. Celebrating with friends.

This month Chantel and I went to San Antonio for an early birthday celebration for our best friend Cynthia.  It was dubbed the Cynthernational Birthday Celebration and was a dinner part with Cynthia and a few of her closest friends.  The idea was that everyone would bring a different international/regional dish to share.  I made jambalaya, Chantel made mozzarella sticks, Cynthia made yellow curry, and there were also hot wings, a fruit platter, and beverages, including sparkling wine with slices of strawberry.  One of Cynthia’s childhood friends made the cake, a rich and delicious Hershey chocolate cake with orange extract.  So good!  And after the party, Cynthia, her roommate, Chantel, and I sat around watching “Pitch Perfect” and enjoying Fox Barrel pear ciders and munching on the leftovers.  It was very nice to enjoy that time with Cynthia and her other friends.

Onward, into April!

Favorite Things: February 2013

I’ve been brainstorming some regular “features” for this blog and thought I’d give a monthly favorite things post a try.

This is going to be a post about things I’ve particularly enjoyed throughout the month.

So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite things from February.

1. Oxfords

I’ve had these shoes (Born, style name Arletta) for over a year, but only recently started to wear them more frequently.   I got good use out of them in New Orleans, where they were a cute and comfortable option for wandering the French Quarter and frolicking through the zoo.   I’ve paired them with tights and skirts, jeans, leggings, and other items.   I must admit, there are some outfits they just don’t suit, but I’ve been able to make them work with quite a few things.   Did I mention they’re comfortable?

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2. Chai Tea Lattes

I think this is the first drink I ever ordered from a Starbucks.   I’ve had them many times since then, but I recently ordered one at Barnes and Noble when I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in what seems like ages.   Since then I’ve been on a total chai tea latte kick.  Why are they so good!?   I need to find a good recipe to make them at home.   There’s one keeping me company on my desk even as I draft this post.

3. The Green Children

I discovered this electro-pop duo on Facebook a while back.   Recently, while adventuring on Tumblr, I happened across a gif set from one of their videos.   Thus, I was reminded of how much I liked them.   They’re great, and their music and videos have elements of fantasy and magic to them.   I’m typically rather picky about female vocalists, but I do like Milla’s voice.  And Marlow is talented (and pleasant to look at) as well.   Additionally, as I re-watched their “Dragons” video, I was hit with some inspiration for a new story (not that I don’t have plenty of unfinished stories floating around here).

4. Time with Friends

I think this is probably always a favorite thing.   However, most of my friends live in different cities and states, so I don’t really get to spend much time with them.   But I recently reconnected with a friend (and former co-worker) who lives much closer and we’ve been able to get together for tea and snacks at Barnes and Noble a couple of times.   It feels great to have someone to spend time with and talk to, especially when we share so many interests.