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August 24, 2012

Habits and Routine


In law, there is something called "evidence of habit."  Pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 406, "Evidence of the habit of a person...whether corroborated or not and regardless of the presence of an eyewitness, is relevant to prove that the conduct of the person ...on a particular occasion was in conformity with the habit or routine practice."

This got me thinking, what are my habits that could be admitted into evidence at trial?*

(1) I have to wash the sheets on our bed every Sunday so that we can start the week off with a good night's sleep on clean sheets. Not so weird, other then the fact that it has to be on a Sunday, not a Saturday. Even if I have time to wash them on Saturday I don't because I only want it done on Sunday.

(2) I have to hit my snooze button numerous times in the morning, so I set my alarm about thirty minutes before I actually wake up. Okay an hour. Yes, my husband hates me.

(3) On Friday night, I don't go out. Even when I try, I rarely make it. I am just too tired. Instead, I eat asian food, drink a margarita, and fall asleep on the couch at around 8:30 p.m.

(4) The first thing I do on Monday morning is download the newest This American Life episode to listen to on my way to work.

(5) During the week, I bring my lunch and eat the same thing everyday. Yogurt for breakfast, string cheese for a snack, turkey sandwich for lunch, string cheese for a snack, and two bottles of water.

(6) I have to curl my hair before I apply my make-up.

(7) ever since I got my new car, the first thing I do every Saturday morning is vacuum it out so that I can have a clean car all weekend (this is necessary because Kadira sheds like crazy and is in my car everyday).

(8) I drink coffee every Saturday morning out of the Starbucks mug I bought in London when I was studying abroad.

(9) The first thing I do when I get to work is check out the MSN homepage top news stories.

(10) I never wear my wedding rings when I am at home. 

What are some of your weird habits?

*Very tongue and cheek.  I realize most of these are not admissible evidence of habit.

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August 14, 2012

San Antonio

{Travel links located at the bottom of the post}

One of my good friends has been living in Dallas for the last year, but is in the process of abandoning me to move to Virgina.  As a last hoorah, we decided to take a quick trip down to San Antonio for a weekend.  We both had never been before, but heard good things.

I am going to make a bold proclamation: San Antonio is the best city in Texas.  So great.  I loved the people, I loved the vibe.  It was the first place I visited in Texas that I think would be worth flying in from another state to take a vacation. 

We started off our trip about an hour of of Dallas, at the Czech Stop.

What is the Czech Stop you might ask?

Well, it is this little bakery at Exit 353 on I-35.  Upon exiting, you pull over to this Shell Station:



I know what you are thinking, a Shell Station? What's so great about a Shell Station?

But it is not the Shell Station, its the Czech Bakery inside the Shell Station...


My understanding is that it is a Texas staple, but this was my first experience.  The line for this bakery was out the door- which is impressive as it is quite literally in the middle of nowhere.  It was full of amazing food, including this chubby:



 Sausage, cheese, baked into a homemade roll.  So good. 

The drive down to San Antonio was pretty horrific.  I-35 was packed and it took us a good five hours, when it should have only taken us four.  We arrived at our hotel a little after noon and checked in.

We picked the Drury Hotel because it was right on the Riverwalk and had a free happy hour. We were on the eighteenth floor and had a decent view of the City:


After freshening up, we decided to head down to the Riverwalk for lunch.  Our hotel had an exit right on the Riverwalk at the bottom of the hotel, which worked out great.  I envisioned the Riverwalk to be more of river running through a city with some restaurants on it- but it was so much more then that.  First, I love how it is set below the city.  Second, it reminded me so much of Venice...but a Texas Venice.  So imagine Venice with cowboy boots and armadillos. 



My friend is basically a travel agent.  No seriously, you want to travel with her because she does her research and always knows the best spots.  We started off getting fresh guacamole and prickly pear margaritas at Boudros

You guys, I died.  I swear to God that if I lived in San Antonio I would go here every damn day.



Ugh! Posting this right now makes hungry.  It was so delicious. We also go the salmon bruchetta:


It is described as the following: House cured with tequila, roasted poblano, cream cheese, marinated cucumber, red onions, sun-dried tomatoes and capers.  it was pretty freaking awesome.



We then went on one of the Rio San Antonio River Cruises, which I know is very touristy but I highly suggest it because it was very informative and allowed you to see the whole Riverwalk. Plus, it was hot as hell (about 110 degrees), so sitting down while enjoying the sights was much more enjoyable then walking in the heat.



After the river cruise we walked around and enjoyed the shops and the scenery. 


 We then went back to the Drury for their happy hour, and you guys, this is why you must stay at the Drury.  They had a full buffet full of comfort foods including mac and cheese, potatoes, nachos, hotdogs, the works.  They also gave you THREE FREE DRINKS.  Do I need to repeat that? THREE FREE DRINKS: wine, beer, and mixed drinks.  Also, if you are really nice to your bartender, they give you doubles.  So basically I will never stay anywhere else, ever.

We then got dressed up to go to dinner.


We went to an Italian Restaurant called Zocca on the Riverwalk, and to be honest, I was extremely underwhelmed. I got the Lobster Ravioli and my friend got the Tagliatelle.  We agreed that all the food had one ingredient that just took over the taste of the dish so you couldn't enjoy it. If you have a suggestion for a better San Antonio dinner stop, perferably on the Riverwalk, please advise. 




The Riverwalk at night is a pretty beautiful place. I was impressed with how low key the vibe was. There are not a ton of bars, mostly restaurants, so it was more relaxing and less of a party scene.



The only complaint I had of the Drury was that getting down the hotel elevators at checkout was a disaster, it took almost twenty minutes, because all of the elevators were full.  We eventually told a full elevator to "suck it up and let us on," and it was a very uncomfortable 18 floor ride down.  The valet took another twenty minutes.  I had consumed a limited amount of coffee at this point, so people were lucky they didn't get stabbed.  

Before hitting the road, we went to brunch at Guenther House:


Guenther House is a beautiful old mansion that serves breakfast.  It must be really popular because it also had one hell of a wait.  Almost two hours.  Thankfully, they give you free coffee, which is a special house blend and very, very good.  We put our name on the list, downed a cup of coffee, and bounced over to check out the Alamo.


The Alamo underwhelmed me.  I think its because I am not from Texas, and because we didn't take the audio tour so I didn't fully understand its value.  Next time I'll put a little more effort into understanding its historical significance, but I was more worried about missing our brunch reservation.


For the record.  Brunch was amazing.  And I am glad we didn't wait two hours in the Texas heat. 



Overall, the trip was a great one.  I wish we had stayed longer but I am really excited to go back and explore more.  For those of you who have been to San Antonio before, what did I miss?

Travel Links
Czech Stop
Drury Hotel 
Boudros
Rio San Antonio River Cruise
Guenther House
The Alamo

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August 7, 2012

Books 16-25

One of my New Years Resolutions was to read 25 books this year, and its August and I already hit 25! I am pretty proud of myself because the last couple years I have struggled to meet my goal, but my long commute and audiobooks have helped my numbers.  

 My First Ladies: Thirty Years as the White House Chief Floral Designer My First Ladies: Thirty Years as the White House Chief Floral Designer by Nancy Clarke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was such a pleasant surprise. Nancy Clark was the chief floral designer at the White House and was there from Carter through Obama. All the first ladies wrote short introductions to her chapters (except for Hillary, shocking), and her insight was fascinating. What I was particularly impressed with was that even though Nancy had her favorites (Barbara Bush and possibly Michelle Obama), she never said a bad thing about any of the First Ladies who she perhaps had some trouble working with (Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton). Yet despite her respect for their authority, this book remained both honest and engaging. I was sad to see that Nancy recently passed away, but so glad that she wrote all her memories down for history to cherish.

*****

The Art of War for Women: Sun Tzu's Ancient Strategies and Wisdom for Winning at WorkThe Art of War for Women: Sun Tzu's Ancient Strategies and Wisdom for Winning at Work by Chin-Ning Chu

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I really did not enjoy this book. First, it was braggy. And not in an "I am accomplished so you should respect my thoughts on this subject" way, but straight up just braggy. Second, I thought the author talked down to woman and made comparisons between men and woman that were completely outdated and inapporopriate. Third, I don't think the author did a very good good job using Sun Tzu's Art of War and translating it to a context that would work for woman. This book just did not work. There are so many better books out there on this subject, this book is not worth reading even if you get it for free.

*****

Sarah's KeySarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

*spoilers*
I know that this review is going to be met with a chorus of "boos" but I loathed this book. First and most importantly, talk about no resolution. Who cares about Sarah's son! The whole purpose of the book was Sarah's struggle and the author just killed her off. Julia was not the character your reader cares about, its Sarah, and to make her story so meaningless that you literally drop her as a narrator halfway through is beyond disrespectful. Yes, I used the word disrespectful. I think its disrespectful to the story you are trying to tell.

Second, I hated the abortion sub-plot. So inappropriate as I do not think that subject mixed well with the underlying holocaust storyline. Not that it wasn't an engaging story, but it was not meant for this book.

How this book every got a movie deal is beyond me, but I am interested to watch it to see if it was able to make this horrible story any better.

*****

London Is the Best City in America by Laura Dave

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The goodreads image for this book is not working, for whateve reason.

This was the second book I have read of Dave's, and I love her writing. I think she has a great talent in capturing the normal and making her readers connect to those moments. I was confused through a lot of this book regarding not only what I wanted to happen, but what I was a supposed to want to happen. The story was complex, the characters were great, but the plot seemed a little sporadic. The ending was abrupt and unfulfilling, but I didn't really mind because it seemed real. I heard Reese Witherspoon bought the rights for the movie and I actually think it would make a great movie, but they are going to have rewrite the ending to make it more final.

*****

The Divorce PartyThe Divorce Party by Laura Dave

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was really good! I think it is my favorite of Laura Dave's three novels. I enjoyed the foil of the two woman and their relationship troubles, and as always, I thought Dave's writing was geat. I think this would make an excellent movie- Reese should have bought the rights to this one!

*****

Knit the Season: A Friday Night Knitting Club NovelKnit the Season: A Friday Night Knitting Club Novel by Kate Jacobs

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I can't really describe this book other then to say the series just went on too long. The storylines weren't very good, the flashbacks were a bit overdone, nothing really progressed. While I really enjoyed this series and don't regret finishing the last book, I am glad Jacobs has decided to shelve these characters and write fresh storylines. I hope she keeps with that promise.

*****

My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict's Attempt to Discover If Not Being A Dumb Ass Is the New Black, or, a Culture-Up ManifestoMy Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict's Attempt to Discover If Not Being A Dumb Ass Is the New Black, or, a Culture-Up Manifesto by Jen Lancaster

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have read a bunch of Jen's books, and can I just say how much adore listening to them on audiobook? Jamie Heinlein reads them and her inflection is spot on. If you get the chance, you should listen to some of her stuff on tape.

This book was entertaining, as always, but sometimes I feel like Jen reaches a bit too far for a theme. I would say 1/3 of the book is about her search to "culture-up" and 2/3 was just random funny stories. Not that it matters, becuase her stories are hilarious, and I could really care less about the "theme" of the book anyways.

*****

Divergent (Divergent, #1)
Divergent by Veronica Roth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*FIRST READ: August 2011*
*SECOND READ: July 2012*

I was a bit skeptical because the book seemed a lot like the Hunger Games and I thought Roth might be trying to capitalize on HG's success and write a copycat story. I suppose it would be fair to say that the overarching theme is a lot like HG: the setting is this post apocalyptic world, separated into factions that serve different purposes, sixteen year olds must pick their factions and undergo an initiation process that resembles the same level of brutality we saw in the Hunger Games, etc. Plus its also a trilogy, with the other two books yet to be released. However, when I got to the final pages of the book I decided that this book has so much more potential then HG. I loved the first Hunger Games book, the second was still good but was a copycat of the first, and the last I hated. This series has the potential to just keep getting better, and I am really looking forward to the release of the next book.

*****

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)Insurgent by Veronica Roth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

*Spoilers*

Hm. What to say about this book? On one hand, my expectations were so low due to everybody's criticisms of the book that it was more fast paced then I was prepared for. Also, while definitely full of lots of teenage angst, I liked the fact that Tris didn't do whatever Tobias told her to do (like in the book Matched, so annoying). Not sure if I like Tobias as a love interest, I was bracing for him to turn bad at some point. Also, REALLY didn't like that Caleb turned bad, and I thought it was a bit unrealistic that he would be on board with his faction torturing and killing his sister. I once again was impressed with Roth's willingness to kill characters off, but thought the overtaking of Jeanine in the end was pretty anti-climatic. The ending was wierd, and didn't really leave me hanging...I am just confused? Not sure what the next book is going to entail but I'll probably read it, I just wont be as excited for it as I was for this one.

*****

GlaciersGlaciers by Alexis M. Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Delightful! A quick, easy read at around 180 pages- I loved this book so much. It is about a librarian in Portland who collects postcards.  Oh, and falls in love with a soldier.  This book is so beautifully written. The "feel" reminded a lot of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society. Add it to your beach read list, or a book to read on a rainy day.

2012 Books
-Books 1-5
-Books 5-10
-Books 11-15

August 4, 2012

July Photo a Day

 

I randomly decided to partake in this month's July Photo a Day Challenge. What's funny is, you would think that the purpose of the Photo a Day challenge is to remember what you did each day, but none of the photos even remotely capture the big moments of the month:

Dan got into a car accident (he'll live)
Buying a second new car in four months (ugh!)
Roadtrip to San Antonio

So, I guess what I am trying to say is please don't think I sit around all day drinking coffee and reading books (although that would be delightful). For me, the challenge is less about capturing the most important moment of the day, but rather using the right portion of my brain that gets neglected in the doc review and the report writing of my mundane daily life. 

So, without further adieu...


 Late night self portrait


Busy at work!



My morning coffee is often the best part of my day


Fun lunch of cheese fries at Snuffers!


Poor little guy, always having to look up from his view on the floor 

 
Love enjoying a cocktail in this chair  


Rose from my garden 


Skipped lunch to make room for jambalaya for dinner

 
A big coffee was necessary to make it through the day 


My favorite color is red, and I often write with this pen just because it makes me happy


A letter from Austin (telling me to pay my bar dues, lame)

 
The texture of my wallet 



wide open spaces 


Buildings on my book


Finger is a dumb prompt, but a cupcake makes this photo better!


I saw the sign 
 

My favorite animal 


My eyes


9 o'clock involves me reading my book in bed!


Upside down view of all my new shoes

 
My vanity mirror


heart on my new Emily Giffin novel


No sunshine in Texas

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