Stating the obvious: yes, it’s been almost five months. Cool stuff has been happening, and I’m looking forward to recap the experiences (although, I probably still need to catch up on some of the trips I took last year…).

That being said – this happened on March 13. ;)

Urban Harvest is, IMHO, Houston’s most authentic (and best!) farmers’ market. They’re strict – but in a good way – about what can be sold here. Unlike some other farmers’ markets that resell imported goods, they truly encourage local Texas farmers and craftsmen to grow or make whatever they’re selling. I know some local things can cost more, but every little bit does help. I think going out and seeing all the vendors and meeting people in the community is a very good thing!

Before the market took a break for the summer, I would frequent the Downtown City Hall market where I’d take my lunch. I’d buy produce for my meals, but I’d also venture out to see the people who would come out in support of the market. Yeah, I know some people are grabbing a lunch, but it’s nice to know that we’re all connected in even a simple way.

The best Urban Harvest market day EVER? Their RODEO DAY.

Now, what does this mean?
ANIMALS. PETTING ZOO. ANIMALS.

I want to touch all the animals.

Conveniently enough, I was also making my second trip to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo that evening. :) (More on that…)

There were lots of kids vying to touch the animals, so I had to hold my own. You know, without looking like a complete and utter psycho by shoving them aside because that’s socially frowned upon. And can you believe that some kids were cutting?! I was waiting, too, you know. :|

They had baby chicks and chickens. I couldn’t even get close.

But I did see a baby goat drinking milk!

And then I saw a pig! I even got to feed the pig a handful of Cheerios. Apparently Cheerios is one of their favorites.

Having Urban Harvest Downtown is honestly a lovely venue. You can see people sitting under the umbrellas or lounging near the water enjoying the actual spring weather we got this year:

While wandering onto the other side, I saw a man with a goat. And because I couldn’t even get close to touching that aforementioned baby goat, I politely called out to him, “HI, CAN I TOUCH YOUR BABY GOAT?”

And that man was super nice and said I could totally touch his goat. Her name is Cyclone. They named their goats after rides of the now-defunct Astroworld. He even let me hold her! (It wasn’t that easy; you have to really support their legs or they freak out.) I asked my coworker to take my picture, but the pictures never turned out, so Tim came back and let me take some more pictures. :D

Cyclone was so friendly! She kept kissing me and got super close to me and was all over my ear – probably the most action I’ve seen in months! But seriously, thank goodness she didn’t inhale my earring off.

Tim @ Swede Farm is a real gent and a class act. He also gave me his card in case I ever wanted to raise my own goats (I’m really glad that someone has that faith in me).


Oooh!!


Not the best but one can’t be too vain in moments like these.

Ahhh, this was probably the MOST FUN farmers’ market day ever!! I can’t wait until next year’s. :D

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I never purchase during the season – always after. :)
After my brush with Billy Reid a few years ago, I’ve fallen in love all over again.

I picked up these pieces from his Autumn/Winter 2012 collection and am thrilled to have these classic staples in my wardrobe! All pictures from BillyReid.com.


This was totally my precious. I saw this in their newsletter and knew for a fact that I couldn’t afford this. As such, I saved all the photographs of this coat, so I could salivate over it in the future. Suffice it to say, the Houston store hooked me up! 100% wool, natural horn buttons, leather undercollar, bound seams, made in Italy. I fucking died.

I’m getting the sleeves shortened. I can’t wait until it’s back into my paws. I’m hoping it gets cold enough for me to wear it a couple of times before spring. Please!! :)


The *perfect* coat for sweaters and bulky knits. I’ve been wearing this coat recently, and I adore the wide sleeve openings and warmth provided. I know everyone isn’t a fan of cropped sleeves, but I am! 100% camel hair, chocolate lambskin trim, gold flat-top buttons, made in the USA, woo!


Two flowy silk shirts with natural mother of the pearl buttons in camel and slate. Both proudly made in the USA. These look a lot better on people than on the rack. This is cut slim in the shoulders, so I sized up to an L (hi, man shoulders). The drape is gorgeous; I love how this pairs with a white tank and jeans.

…I’ll get around to that sofa, I swear.

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Every year, my company has a pretty nice Christmas shindig. Seriously, this is the annual highlight of my job. The party is hosted at the Hilton Downtown, and the food is delicious. I try to cram as much stuff into my piehole, roll myself out the door, and then pass out in my bed. A+ game plan if I say so myself!

This year, we decide to make it a family event. Mom brought my brother as her date, and I took my sister. For the first time – honestly – I had a blast. It was a real party. ;)


I am 99% sure that my brother’s phone is fused to his hand.


Family portrait! Time to class things up.


Yellow people are yellow. Oh shi-


Okay, that’s much better. :)


Jerry’s obligatory “pimping” photo.

Okay, so here’s the story on these pictures. I am *terrible* when it comes to posing. Like godawful. It’s so unnatural to me! When Jerry takes pictures, he lifts inspiration from the sorority girls who know how to pose ever-so-perfectly. How do their bodies move that way?!


Awkward!


Nailed it.


My sister and brother rocking it out on the dance floor. ;)

Side story: the DJ played Gangnam Style, and Jerry was shaking his head disappointingly and said people weren’t doing the dance correctly. So he decided to go out there and show them how its done, exactly like the music video.


After the dance number, the kid was high-fived to death after and even got drink tickets from a pretty lady for a job well done. (God, who knew Jerry was s0o0o0o cool.)


Cheers!

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It’s been a long time since I’ve used a cookbook that I really enjoyed. After doing my second Whole30, which is still ongoing, I needed some inspiration. Truthfully, I was getting bored with the food I was eating.

I ordered Well Fed* by Melissa Joulwan during my first Whole30 but never really got around to actually using it. After cooking from it this past week, I wonder WTF was wrong with me.

One thing that I absolutely adore about this cookbook? The fact that there are gorgeous colored pictures for every. single. dish. Why aren’t more cookbooks like this? The book reads well and is packed with a ton of helpful information, pairing suggestions, and tips. Plus, the recipes really demonstrate a showcase of exciting flavors.

I purchased some organic chicken breasts that were on manager’s sale. What to do with them, what to do with them… Personally, breast meat is not my favorite. At all. It tastes flavorless and is easy to overcook.

Enter the Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat.

The secret: brining!
I didn’t use everything in Melissa’s recipe, but I followed the general 8 cups of water to ~3 tbsps of salt. Next time: I’ll use sea salt. I only had the iodized stuff on hand. I threw in pressed cloves of garlic, slices of lime, pink peppercorns, and coconut aminos. I let my butterflied chicken breasts bathe in the salty concoction overnight.

The next afternoon, I pat the chicken dry and seasoned the chicken breasts by sprinkling Mel’s spice seasoning over them, thinly and evenly coating them. I didn’t have chili powder and subbed that with paprika. Over medium-high heat, I grilled them on my cast iron grill pan and smartly used a glass lid to cover my chicken (ha). Note to self: buy a proper cover. Also: grilling indoors, even with the range hood roaring = lots of smoke. Oh well. :)


They cooked in the specified time (whee!). Also: my iPhone’s camera lens is scratched up. Apple, y u use plastic there. Yyyyy.

Words cannot even describe just how succulent this chicken breast was. I won’t lie: I’m shocked that I even made this. And it was damn good.

I paired this with the Moroccan Dipping Sauce (subbed out parsley for double cilantro) on salads for lunch during the week. One of my colleagues tried my chicken and was blown away by how tender and tasty it was. Another loved how the Dipping Sauce smelled. All in all: success.


Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat on a bed of mixed greens, sliced Persian cucumber, heirloom tomatoes, Moroccan Dipping Sauce. Lunch of the week!

*I’m not sure if this is an Amazon affiliate link. I purchase my Amazon stuff through someone’s affiliate link, and I’m not sure if it generates a link that reflect his link for items I look at. Just wanted to be upfront about that. :)

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Happy February!

I’m really excited about this month. I recently acquired a second job part-time, so I’ll be moonlighting on the weekends in a mostly stress-free environment. :) Also, I’ll have a special visitor come the first week of March, so I’ll need to get my home in tip top shape! Should be interesting since I’ll be working at least six days out of the week…

Oh, I’m still riding the Whole30 wave. Tasha decided to do it, so I figured why the hell not. It’s been going well. I still want to eat junk food, but I’m not crippled by it. I honestly don’t get people who go on and on about how fruit is candy to them. Yeah, whatever. I like fruit, but it’s not fucking candy or cake. And frankly, while I do enjoy fruit, it’s not even remotely close to a slice of domino cake.

Anyway!

I made some “egg-like” bread last night using the recipe in Paleo Indulgences. Ingredients are still Whole30 compliant since I subbed out the sweetener with applesauce. My “bread” didn’t look like the recipe, but it’s okay. I guess I expected this to taste like some of those Chinese breads I’ve eaten (ha, wishful thinking!). Despite the bit of coconut flour, it’s not really bread – more like an air filled omelette.


After they were toasted in the toaster.

Since I had an unruly yard to tackle, I figured I’d load up with a breakfast fit for champions. ;) I scrambled two eggs in ghee and made a pancake; then I sliced them into quarters for my sandwich. I reheated three slices of bacon and portioned the pieces out. After slicing a tomato and adding some baby spinach, a sandwich was born!


Boss.

After helping myself to sparkling water and two clementines, it was off to fight the unruly yard!

I should’ve taken before pictures. My yard was *bad*. People who garden would be totally embarrassed for me. Mark fixed the lawnmower that was left behind, and he advised me to mow today. I figured this was good advice since I will have very little free time. Quick yard trims will be done before I drag myself into work on the weekends (sorry, neighbors).

I took a partial shot of what my yard looked like. Now, this is just a part of it, but imagine this everywhere. Imagine dandelion stalks. Imagine even more weeds. That’s my yard in a nutshell!


/shame

My lawnmower was probably thinking, “WTF is this shit.” It quit on me repeatedly because of how clogged it was getting. Mowing a weed-infested yard is tough work! Firing up the damn mower is tough work! I was pouring sweat, but thank god for ridiculous sombrero-like hats. They’re a lifesaver. Oh, I was wearing my Fitbit, and this morning’s yardwork shenanigans earned me about 4K steps.


Bitch be PROUD. :D

I managed to get bitten on a beautiful 70 degree day; probably from disturbing some growing weeds bigger than Ashlin (no lie). Coupled with the pouring sweat, there was only one thing left to do…


Rub-a-dub-dub… Jack Froth + Lush Pud!


It’s a bit like a cappuccino with some cocoa/cinnamon sprinkled on the top, don’t you think? :)

For the rest of the day, I ended up cooking a bunch, and then ran off to Ikea, the big Trader Joe’s, and the crappiest Whole Foods ever… I’m ready to take this week head on!

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I guess I didn’t announce it here, but I’m doing the Whole30 again this month. After a ton of bad eating on my Mexico trip and refusing to go grocery shopping when I got back, I direly needed to clean it up. I may or may not have made a bag of cookies one of my last meals before the Whole30 -ahem-.

I managed to recruit a partner during this! (Hi, Nic/Radiotrash!) I’ve really enjoyed keeping in touch with her, sharing our statuses and encouraging each other. It’s been great.

Anyway, it’s the end of Day 15, and things are going pretty well! It’s been easy to say no and walk away from stuff. I think the accountability has made this go a lot easier.

However, I’m bad, though. I went to the store yesterday and bought some cookies to eat after the Whole30. We’ll see if I still want to eat them. If not, I’ll give them away as gifts. :D Funnily enough, I’m not even tempted to eat them during this process. Woo!

One of my go to meals now that I’ve portioned out is pork meatballs in spaghetti sauce. It was pretty easy to make. Ground pork, 2 eggs (I’d cut it back to 1 next time), lots of minced fresh garlic, fresh basil, almond flour, salt, and pepper. I cooked them on the stove in coconut oil. They’re not perfectly round, but they work. ;)

I then made the spaghetti sauce by browning minced onions and garlic with a can of diced tomatoes. I seasoned with dried basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. After the sauce cooked for awhile, I tossed in the meatballs, so that they could absorb some of the sauce. In went mushrooms, and boom! Lunch for a week.

I currently eat this on a bed of spinach. I have a spaghetti squash, but I’m too lazy to roast it…

Most of my meals are usually the same. I don’t have that much time to cook, and I’m okay with eating the same things each day as long as I vary it up the next week. :)

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My TKB order came in, so I spent the weekend pressing my full-size pigments. I used 36mm pans, isopropyl alcohol, TKB mixing medium, and glycerin. Now, I personally prefer this size for full-size containers.

My favorite “palette” that I made:

Sorry for the slightly washed out colors; they were kind of a bitch to photograph with my phone in natural daylight. Doesn’t help that my lens is a bit scratched up. :(

Comprised of the the following shadows:
- Left top: Morgan’s Crypt Cyprium metallic copper bronze
- Right top: Morgana’s Crypt Enchanted Forest deep brown with intense gold to blue-green flecks
- Left bottom: Fyrinnae Arcane Magic: Dark Fantasy intense grass green shimmer on a black base, which changes to a golden-peach to deep orange-coral (not seeing any of the peach or coral)
- Right bottom: Fyrinnae Dressed to Kill glimmering, glowing, gilded green with flashes of gold and green sparkle” – hello alliteration

More accurate picture of the colors:

My absolute favorite is Enchanted Forest. It is *so* sparkly.
I was really pleased with the quality of Melissa’s eyeshadows. These two looked like the MAC crushed metallic pigments but were smooth and silky in texture. You can definitely see the blue green sparkles in this picture:

Here are all of the full-size containers I pressed:

And as usual, all items were purchased by me. :)

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Last weekend, I attempted to set up my compost containment. After purchasing some fencing wire from Lowe’s and -ahem- waiting for some nice weather, I finally dragged myself to get my compost pile set up. You see, my fridge was pissed and stuffed since I’d been freezing my leftover vegetable scraps to add to said compost pile.

Fencing wire comes on a roll. Once I finished cutting it down to size, I was trying to get a feel for how it’d look. Since I was standing on the wire, I walked forwards, and the fencing wire curled back up, right. into. my. palm. In a nice juicy vein.

I’ll spare you gory pictures, but suffice it to say, I had no idea that I could a) squirt blood that looked like b) red acrylic paint. After running my hand underneath cold water and applying pressure, my hand finally stopped bleeding. Unfortunately, it hurt quite badly. I could barely move my fingers. Long story short, after ringing up a few people and deciding against the ER due to the price tag (but being careful to monitor my hand), I booked an appointment with the clinic the next day to get my tetanus shot.


The aftermath with some bruising. I guess this is normal, but my hand still kind of hurts, only this time, around the site of the entrance wound.

I am pleased to announce to that we’ve settled the score this weekend. ;)
I was going to use my sailing gloves, but I found a pair that was in the shed. You know, I still have no idea why I didn’t wear gloves the first time. It’s unlike me. I guess I just wasn’t thinking, and that’s why they’re called accidents.


I raked leaves and dragged them near my compost containment. After deciding on a spot and fiddling with the wires, the compost containment was born! I filled the bottom with lots of brown matter and went inside to get my green matter.


This is what I had frozen. Can I just say how helpful this 5 gallon bucket was?

I continued to make my compost sandwich. I have one tree located directly in my backyard, but would you know, I have two more, one on each side! I moved some more leaves into the compost pile and went back inside to get my rotten greens.

Prior to vacation, I had some vegetables still in my fridge that have pretty much disintegrated and turned into this nasty goop. Or have mold. So um yeah. INTO THE HEAP YOU GO! I gathered everything in my handy dandy white bucket and added some water to it. I also added 4 tbsp of molasses.


This doesn’t look so bad; just like a sad soup. But seriously, it was the grossest thing ever. D: Remarkably, it didn’t smell like death.

I did some more yard work and moved a lot of leaves. I actually came across some old dog shit (previous owners), BLEH, that got onto my gloves. NASTY. I’m hoping that there’s no other dog shit that got into my compost pile… :/ I pulled out the leaves that I saw that had some poop on them. Just… ugh. (Will follow-up with feed store guys on this.)


Here it is! My handy new composting heap. :D SUCCESS!

Oh, I forgot to mention, I let Ashlin come outside and play. He *finally* allowed himself to leave the steps of the house and venture off into the grass. He seemed to enjoy munching on the greenery and frolicking around the yard.


My little scaredy cat isn’t so scared anymore. ;)

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I went on a Mexican holiday over Christmas. The trip was lovely, albeit, short. I guess that’s what happens when you take a five day cruise, of which two days are at sea. Our first port was Progreso. Unsurprisingly, most of the shore excursions are hella cheesy and ridiculously pricey, but it was worth taking the group tour to Chichen Itza, you know, minus the 2.15 hour hell-in-a-handbasket one-way bus ride.

Progreso was beautiful. Where the cruise ships dock, however, is kind of out in the middle of nowhere, apparently on a narrow ass 6.5km pier. To get into town, you take a bus for about 10 minutes to get to shore. That being said, I’m not sure if you could *not* avoid a tour of some sort to get into Progreso.

We stopped briefly in the town of Piste, Mexico, prior to arriving at Chichen Itza. Instead of actually seeing the town, we were dropped off in a totally manufactured shopping center to take our restroom breaks and get a packed lunch. Kind of disappointing. I don’t want anymore stuff (some of it is junk)! I want to eat local Mexican food and walk around. Alas, nope.

I saw a cute Mexican doll and took a picture with it, but I can’t help but feel that this, along with other products, are all made in China and sold to tourists.

We made it to Chichen Itza shortly afterwards. While we were waiting in line to get to the site, this girl had barfed everywhere and was collapsed on the floor. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Methinks someone had seriously boozed it up way too much…

Although it was fitting to be viewing the Mayan ruins in the month where the world was supposed to end, it didn’t. And we came 3 days later, lol. (Speaking of which, since the world did not end, guess who had to renew her driver’s license…)

El Castillo. The weather was actually quite nice, but it was damned hot because there weren’t any trees near the temples!



(OVERLY GREEN.)

Unfortunately, no one was permitted to walk up the steps, but I understand, in respect to preservation. :(

Can’t really see it in this small of a picture, but on the carvings, you could see traces of turquoise and red inks. Pretty sure that this is Plataforma de Venus.

Templo de los Guerreros.

Heading towards Juego de Pelota – the Great Ball Court. This is part of it. Spectators would climb to the top to watch the game down below.

Our tour guide informed us that the Mayans would play this ball-like game to the death. At first, we thought that the captain of the losing team would get decapitated (!!), but it turns out, similar to the Japanese of sacrifice, the winning team’s captain would consider it an honor to have his head chopped off. D:

Tzompantli, which translates into Skull Platform. I’m really not sure how they displayed the skulls on the platform or if this is solely pictorial – somehow, I doubt it – but I’m okay with not knowing. :) Kind of gives me the creeps. You can see the carvings of the heads in the stone.

Believe it or not, Chichen Itza permits vendors to sell their wares inside. I purchased a marionette-like devil carved out of wood. Maybe made in China despite the story of the seller saying how he handcarved everything… But it was cute and would look awesome in my house! One guy was trying to make a few sales by hollering, “Buy my garbage that nobody wants.” Man. :(

SELFIE.

There was a mini-mart right off of the pier for people to buy souvenirs/booze/junk. :P I really adored their papier mache FLAMINGOS. Man, these were so perfect. Big ones, baby ones… Flamingos galore!! Didn’t even want to haggle because everything else in the shop was obscenely overpriced. Vlad would’ve liked a friend!

Waiting in line to get back on the ship. The wind was blowing. Hard. :)

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I’m not one to write yearly introspective posts. I frankly don’t have the time, but when I do, I try to forget about all the shitty things that happened.

Thankfully, this year was a bit different. It was actually pretty good! More self-discovery. Lots of new meaningful relationships with people both in Houston, down under, and across the pond who *want* to be my friend and actually give a damn about me. Getting closer to my awesome friends who are sadly scattered far away from me. Dumping toxic, emotionally draining assholes who fell under the pretense of family/friends/good acquaintances. Less misanthropy (okay, maybe not).

2012, you were surprisingly enjoyable!

Things that made me happy this year (in no particular order): GO.


I bought a house! I love living in a house. Although I had the best landlord ever with the best Houston Montrose rent EVER ($585 including gas, water, and trash), I was so over the non-deliberate noise from my neighbors. Honestly, it got intolerable, especially with the dogs barking ALL THE TIME. I bought an old house that came with a beautiful antique tub (albeit poorly refinished prior to my purchase and stained thanks to my affinity for baths). And I started taking baths multiple times a week again.


I’ve experimented and tried a lot of diets; the Whole30 is the most sound to me. I had the results to show, and I can truthfully say that I never felt better. Unfortunately, with all the traveling and holiday eating, things kind of went downhill. I want to feel better, and I want to look better. So I’ll be repeating this come 01/01 with Nic!


I’ve heard of this before, but until I actually had some coconut butter, I didn’t know what life actually was. This is orgasm in a jar. Yeah, totally dramatic, but I have never tasted an ingredient as pure and fragrant as this. My toes curl in joy when I eat this out of the jar with a spoon. Ahhh, bliss.


Swamplot was the best new-to-me blog of 2012. Although a Houston real estate blog, it’s cleverly written, and the commenters are a huge plus. I learned so much more about the city I grew up in but never got to know very well. Swamplot filled my days with so many laughs, and the posts became a highlight of my day. Yours truly has a few comments featured in the Best of 2012 Swampies, woo! ;D My username shouldn’t be too hard to decipher…


Trader Joe’s opening up in Houston this year was a lifesaver. High-quality products with a low price tag? YES PLEASE. I know TJ’s doesn’t have as much as Whole Foods, but that’s totally okay with me. Affordable and (sometimes) organic produce and dry goods like spices for a fraction of what I usually spend? If I could, I would kiss TJ’s on the lips. Plus, TJ’s HAS THE BEST “GOURMET” JUNK FOOD. Not like I should/can eat that moving forward… (Goodbye, seasonal dark chocolate sea salt caramels; you’ll be sorely missed.)


Mumford + Sons Babel; Of Monsters and Men My Head is an Animal
These two records were my absolute favorite from 2012. I listened to them nonstop. Flawless. Guess what I’ve been listening to as I typed this…? :)


I had my eyebrows permanently filled in by Connie Pearson of Permetika Cosmetics. I bought a Groupon (yeah, I KNOW, but this one worked out!) and had my brows done. :) Connie is seriously the best. She does excellent, beautiful work and ensures that her working environment is completely clean. My brows here were immediately after the procedure – pardon my greasy mug, but they lightened during the healing process. I love them. LOVE THEM. I don’t have to spend time in the morning trying to fill in my brows evenly; nor am I concerned about wiping half of my brows away when pouring sweat. No regrets. Knowing what I know now, I would be more than willing to pay Connie full-price to do my brows.


Photo from my sister’s Facebook account.
Growing closer to my sister but our relationship is hopelessly volatile. However, I really enjoyed writing her letters and sending packages to her while she was deployed, and I looked forward to her responses and replies. I felt like we really got close; I’d email or call her first about things going on, heartaches, etc. I’d like to think that things can maybe change, but due to differences in personality, this seems virtually impossible. I made a wish at one of the lava pools with a coin I found hoping that things would work out. Maybe one day.

And last, but not least, perhaps the absolute #1 highlight of my year…
My beloved Ashlin who lets me shower his little head with kisses and is a topnotch heating device. Without him, I’d be an absolute mess.

Happy New Year! May 2013 be filled with joy, prosperity, and happiness to you and your loved ones.

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