Storytime Wednesday: The Naked Prude

(Programming note: Storytime Wednesday took a break last week since I was in Brazil. Not sorry bout it.)

It was a typical weekend in college and I was participating in wholesome activities with my friends (beer pong). I noticed an attractive gentleman at the other end of the table that I hadn't seen before, and after engaging in coy conversation over Solo cups filled with Miller Lite, I found out that he did not attend my university, and in fact was in only town for the weekend visiting someone I knew and trusted. He was very nice and very cute and I was very interested.

Our flirtation led us to team up and play a game of beer pong together, which we lost shamefully due to his complete ineptitude at the valuable skill of throwing ping pong balls into cups. Somehow he was attractive enough for the insanely competitive part of me to overcome this and keep talking to him. I'm sure you can see where this is going: Our sparkling conversation led us to sneak off and find somewhere to make out.

We ended up in a room in the basement of my dorm that had been furnished with couches, but could be accessed by anyone who lived there. After briefly making out on the couch with my suitor, I got up to turn off some of the lights to really enhance the "dorm basement" atmosphere. When I turned back around from this task, I was surprised to find the guy lying on the couch Burt Reynolds-style, completely naked.

Honestly, I have to respect the superhuman speed at which he freed his body of clothing, but given that 1) The door to this room definitely did not lock and 2) We had made out for like one minute and 3) I was still fully clothed, my first response to finding a completely naked dude on the couch was to blurt out, "We are NOT having sex!" 

"Ohmigod," came his response, as he shifted into a position I associate with teenage girls talking on the phone (lying on stomach, chin in hands, legs crossed at the ankles). He continued, completely seriously, "I'm so glad you said that. Are you a prude? Because I'm a prude too!" 

Irony, folks. 

 

EPILOGUE: We continued to have a conversation about prudes and sex while he stayed completely naked and I internally stressed about our clothing inequity. Noticing that I was not touching him, he finally dressed and we returned upstairs and parted ways. The end.

NOTE: Yes, he probably was the inspiration behind The Naked Man on How I Met Your Mother, though the incident happened years before that episode and the strategy obviously did not work out this time. Someone is stealing my life stories and owes me a LOT of royalties. 

Storytime Wednesday: My Life is Covered in Cat Hair

Four years ago today, I adopted the adorable ball of fluff you may have seen around my blog looking very sassy. In honor of her adoptiversary, here is the story of how we met. 

I wasn't even ready to adopt a cat. I had just moved back to Austin and found a new job. I had my own apartment for the first time, but instead of a couch I had a pile of pillows and instead of a table I had a plastic box. It was an extremely classy period of my life. 

I come from a long line of crazy cat people: when my parents got together they had nine cats, growing up we always had four. Knowing that I wanted to adopt eventually, I went down to the animal shelter with my dad to check out the situation. We were walking around and I spotted this little bundle of joy. 

 Mad Shiloh.

Mad Shiloh.

Wait no, that's not right. Here she is when she first saw me. Tell me if this doesn't look like love at first sight. 

She was seven years old with long silky fur, one orange leg, one black leg, and soft white socks. Even in her tiny cage, she was obviously H.B.I.C., and was way too elegant for this shit. I just...I don't know, I just knew. All the adorable little kittens in the world and I wanted this seven year-old lady cat. One small problem: I was flying to San Francisco for New Year's in two days. I went to the reception desk and asked if I could put her on hold until I got back, but since she was ready to be adopted, the longest they could hold her was 24 hours. And that is how I adopted a cat before I had furniture in my apartment.

Shiloh was not the type to run and hide under the bed when I first brought her home. She lumbered around, poking her pink little nose into every corner before climbing up into my lap. Even that first night, she slept in my bed on my feet, belly up, purring the whole time.

If you know me or even glance at my Instagram, you will know Shiloh is absolutely the light of my life - and she knows it. She was surrendered after seven years with her first family due to "allergies" and "alpha behavior." They also declawed her, which is basically amputation and cruel. Whatever, she lives in the lap of luxury now. Despite not having claws, she has a Scratch Lounge that she LOVES, fancy food, toys, and unlimited pets.

Shiloh is basically the best cat ever. She absolutely loves people, she "talks" a lot, and will jump right into your lap and demand attention. She still sleeps with me every night, either on my feet or snuggled up in the crook of my arm, and though I used to struggle with laying awake at night, her warm, purring body always puts me right to sleep. 

Despite looking regal a.f. at all times, Shiloh is actually pretty bad at being a cat. Her balance is terrible, it takes her several attempts to complete a jump, and she totally sucks at hunting. She found a cricket once, and after five minutes of following it around and swatting it, the thing was not even injured. She does not let this get in her way of being incredibly sassy at all times, and has more than once intimidated a dog into submission for invading her space (which left me feeling simultaneously proud and embarrassed). 

The thing about having a cat is she has given me a home. Before having her, I bounced around a lot - one year I moved nine times in 12 months - and would jet off for a trip without a second thought. I could wear clothes without having to question if they had an inappropriate amount of cat hair. I could vacuum less and didn't have to clean up poop or vomit. I didn't have to reject romantic interests for being allergic (because there is NO WAY I'd give her up). I could work without being interrupted by a thing reminding me that it loves me. I would come home to an empty house, as opposed to the excited chirp of my little furball. I didn't have anything to miss back home, and didn't have to ask the petsitter for pictures to brighten my day. Shiloh fills my condo with fur and scattered litter, but it's lifeless and empty without her. She provides me with a constant source of happiness. I love her more than words can say and am so glad that I am a part of her life.

Storytime Wednesday: Trap Queen

Although 2016 as a whole trumps (intentional) 2015 for "Shittiest Year Ever," the summer of 2015 was real bad for me. The first omen was when I wrecked my beloved 2007 Fiji Blue Honda Civic Si, Pearl. Pearl was a gift from my parents when I graduated college; she was fast, badass (i.e. manual transmission), and most importantly, a vibrant shade of blue. I loved the hell out of that car, and I was more than a little saddened when she met her untimely demise thanks to an uninsured driver running a red light.

Ultimately though, as one of my least sentimental students told me on our last day of classes together, "When the pope dies, you get a new pope."

I already had a pretty good idea that I wanted an Acura TSX, which is basically a more grown up version of a Honda Civic. So, I did a search for blue Acura TSXes in Austin, and there was one in the entire city. I didn't know at the time that you are supposed to call ahead to the car dealership, so I took the day off work and just showed up shortly after they opened. After waiting for like, ever (to be fair, it was probably 9:30am on a Tuesday, not exactly prime car-buying time), I finally flagged someone down and was handed off to a salesperson, let's call him Milton (because he looked pretty much exactly like a Milton).

Milton was a paunchy guy in his 50s with white hair and a bristly mustache. He reminded me a lot of The Simpsons character Gil: he seemed kind of down on his luck, which was sad, but he also had the personality of warm ham. I'm really mystified as to how he got into the car-selling game, much less why dealership management paired him with me, a fairly vivacious girl in her 30s. So Milton pulls the blue TSX around, and we get in and drive, making the incredibly awkward chit chat that I would generally make with someone my father's age. I'm pretty sure we discussed my college major and responsible budgets interspersed with him awkwardly trying to sell me the car by saying things like, "It really goes, huh?!"

Anyway, so after about 20 minutes of stilted conversation, we finally arrive back at the dealership and are sitting in the parking lot when Milton decides to pull out all the stops to make the sale. "Check out the stereo on this thing!" he said, eagerly reaching over to crank the dial. The radio, which had been inaudibly playing in the background, was set on a local rap station, and when Milton decided to get the party going, the stereo started blasting "Trap Queen." 

If you are unfamiliar, Trap Queen is basically an ode to drug dealer girlfriends*. Milton and I sat there, too stunned to move, as this rap song, that I am 100% positive Milton did not know the meaning of, blasted from the TSX's truly impressive stereo. Every fiber in my body wanted to reach over, turn the music down, and make this sad attempt at a connection end, but I didn't know if that would just be more embarrassing to him. After an interminable 90 seconds of enduring a rap song playing way louder than I am comfortable with normally, much less with my awkward-dad-salesperson in the car, I just turned the car off and said, "Yeah, that sounds great!" 

Milton did not make the sale that day. In fact, I take my silver TSX (Sheba) to a dealership on the opposite side of town for the sole purpose of avoiding Milton for the rest of my life (also: because they give me cookies while I wait) (it is very easy to keep me happy). 

As much as I never want to experience that awkwardness again in person, I do think of "Trap Queen" as Sheba's theme song. Whenever it comes on the radio, I chuckle to myself, then reach over to turn it up. For Milton.

 

*(If you are one of those people who didn't know what a Trap Queen is, FOH. Pay attention to the context clues!)

Storytime Wednesday: Let's Not Consider the Lobster

My first boyfriend in Milan spoke impeccable English, refused to eat fruits or vegetables, and though he was a rare specimen of Italian man that did not live with his mother, he never went out. I know that in the US staying in and binge-watch Netflix is an acceptable lifestyle, but in Italy it's pretty weird. Unfortunately, it's one of those quirky habits I didn't realize until we'd been dating for like a month. 

I was in Milan to teach English, halfway into a five-month internship that paid 500 euro a month. Despite the meager paycheck, I wanted to experience all that Italy had to offer (Read: the food. I wanted all of the food.) and I had yet to have dinner at a restaurant. Italian Boyfriend was the kind of person who did not understand why someone would go out for gelato when you could buy a carton of it at the grocery store for the same price, but eventually he saw that I was losing interest due to aforementioned hermitude, and offered to take me out. He chose a Sicilian restaurant, which I was super excited about because I'd heard they had excellent desserts (unlike the rest of Italy but that's a story for another time).

We go to the restaurant, and it's very nice, and I open to menu to find that Sicilian food is almost 100% seafood, which I do not like. Now, I understand that will cause me to lose some friends or maybe some respect as a food writer but seriously, the ocean is full of either sea snot or giant, strangely crunchy insects drowned in butter to hide their true flavors. Except crab. Crab is delicious. 

So I'm looking at this menu trying to find something - anything - that will be a form of seafood that I can tolerate, when the waiter comes over. He says that the special of the evening is "Linguine all'astice," a word I do not know. I ask Italian Boyfriend and he says astice is a fish. Promising! Pasta! I love pasta! Fish! Fish are filled with fish glop (official biological term) but I can like fish. The waiter comes back and I order linguine all'astice, and Italian Boyfriend does too. "Excellent choice," the waiter says, "L'astice ancora camina" (The astice is still walking). Oh! I think. What a cute way to say that the fish is very fresh! I am very pleased with myself for picking up on this subtlety of the Italian language.

Italian Boyfriend and I are continuing on whatever conversation a doomed relationship has, when the waiter comes from behind me and, with a flourish, places a plate of pasta in front of me with a giant dead insect on it, its creepy little legs and eye stalks just dangling there. Even better: the giant dead insect is split in half so I can see all of its cooked insides artfully poofing out. Of course, at this point I realize that astice is lobster and that not only have a) I ordered something I do not like, but b) I have ordered a very expensive thing that I do not like c) I have no escape since Italian Boyfriend ordered the same dish. 

I am not allergic to giant insects or anything so I trudge through, eating the pasta and occasional chunks of giant insect (to be fair, the giant insect did not taste terrible despite it being a former prison food, but I still didn't like it). Italian boyfriend is happily eating like I would ever kiss an mouth that ate eyestalks again. Afterwards we get cannoli, which almost makes everything better.

We have taken five steps outside the restaurant when I turn to my boyfriend and demand an explanation for calling astice a fish when it is so clearly not a fish.

His response: "It lives in the ocean! It's a fish!"

My response: "IT'S A FUCKING CRUSTACEAN." (Side note: the Italian word for crustacean is crostaceo so this really isn't a translation problem.)

We broke up shortly after. 

Weekly-ish Recap: Festive Edition + Programming Announcement!

I'm just going to go ahead and put this first since it's the most exciting thing I have to say:

GUYS, I GOT PUBLISHED ON TEXAS MONTHLY!!! 

Sailing Around the World in Her Seventh Decade (Texas Monthly, 12/5/16)

I met Linda via my work with Central Texas Education Funders and I feel very fortunate that she shared her adventure with me (if you want to see how absolutely insane she is, watch this clip of her on the Today Show). Getting published on Texas Monthly is a huge accomplishment - I mean, it's the National Magazine of Texas - and it's especially meaningful since TM has been a kind of second home for my family. My mom started as secretary to the founder and after 35 years worked her way up to president, and TM was where I had my first internship. The people there are so wonderful and it feels very affirming to have them publish something I wrote.

[Plus, my friend (a "real writer") had an article published on the same day, and my article got more likes/shares than his. (What, me? Competitive? Never.)]

THINGS I PUBLISHED RECENTLY:

Austin's Top Sommeliers Share Their Favorite Holiday Wines (Austin Way)

Drink like the experts! Featuring comments from some of my favorite people, John Roenigk of Austin Wine Merchant and Rae Wilson of Wine for the People.

Best Boutiques to Shop for Gifts in Austin (Austin Way - PRINT!)

This is my first time getting published in an actual magazine in several years. You can read the online version via the link above, or pick up a copy of the Insta-Austin issue and turn to page 109 to see my name! There's also a great interview with friends @eatingatx - a pair of very nice sisters who will make you very hungry. Plus, they do all their photography with iPhones!

Kellie’s Baking Co. to Reopen Cookie-Filled Store (Eater Austin)

If you haven't eaten a cookie with your Instagrammed face on it, you haven't lived. Everything I've had from here has been fabulous, plus, after talking to her I found out 1) Kellie is awesome and super nice 2) She makes an effort to hire people re-entering the workforce, so bring on the holiday feels!

INTERESTING THINGS FROM OTHER PEOPLE:

The Last Unknown Man (The New Republic) 

A naked man is found by a Burger King dumpster, with only a few scattered memories of his life. Who is he? 

Make Your Own Pruno and May God Have Mercy on Your Soul (The Black Table)

This is an oldie but a goodie: "Open the can of fruit cocktail and dump it into the bag, along with your own emotional cocktail of nihilism, depression and crippling boredom."

PROGRAMMING ANNOUNCEMENT:

You may or may not have heard that I am currently among the ranks of the unemployed. It's cool, it wasn't unexpected, I'm grateful for the time off, and I have a bunch of projects in mind to be productive with my time and keep me from going slowly insane (but hey, if you know of any jobs - contact me!). For one, I'm in the process of building a new website (hence why it took me so long to update). But more exciting: I'm going to start a new thing called Storytime Wednesdays. A couple of people have told me they miss hearing me write just for me, so each Wednesday I'm going to share one of the exciting adventures from my life. It will basically be like going on a date with me. I hope you enjoy.

Obligatory random picture of me!

 Taken immediately after my haircut because I definitely am not capable of looking like this on my own.  Remi at Aces  is the absolute greatest.

Taken immediately after my haircut because I definitely am not capable of looking like this on my own. Remi at Aces is the absolute greatest.

Weekly-ish Recap: Trying Real Hard Not To Talk About Some Things

Hoo-boy. It was not supposed to take me this long to update my blog. It's been a busy month - I kept saying, "Oh, I'll update when THAT article goes up" and then get 17 more assignments to do. Then last week some things happened (an election, you may have heard) and I had some feelings. While this is in no way the time or place for me to be discussing those feelings (plus, I am not the best at political debates), it also seems wrong to just gloss over it and dive right into all the articles I've published. So, I just want to acknowledge, yes, that happened.

A couple months ago, while discussing The Oatmeal's comic about being perfectly unhappy, I said that I considered myself a fairly happy person. My friend asked me what my secret was, and you know, I honestly think part of it is that I love eating so much. Meals are an opportunity to get something I want three times a day (maybe two, given how I've been eating lately). It's a simple pleasure, but it's meaningful, for me - the very act of giving yourself sustenance to keep going. Anyway, I hope you make time for something that makes you meaningfully happy. We all need that now. 

THINGS I PUBLISHED RECENTLY:

Strap in, I've been busy doing things with words.

IHTM: I Served on a Jury for a Domestic Violence Case (xoJane)

Spoiler alert: People are awful!

21 Must-Try Cookies in Austin (Eater Austin)

You may remember I have a thing about cookies. This list was updated to include places outside of lunch range. Important update on that front: Walton's Fancy & Staple is one of my new favorites!

Keep It Special With These 33 Private Dining Rooms (Eater Austin) 

Info for Christmas party season, or for those of you who (like me) can't possibly be bothered to dine with ~regular people.~

5 Luxe Cocktail Rings for Every Holiday Occasion (Austin Way) 

Oooo sparkles!

Where to Eat Delicious Handmade Pasta in Austin (Austin Way) 

My backup true love (second only to chocolate chip cookies...but a close second).

6 Day Trips to Take from Austin This Fall (Austin Way) 

If I hear you say that you can't find fall foliage in Austin, I will assume you haven't read this article and therefore we are not really friends. (Because friends read all of my articles. ALL OF THEM.)

18 Most Comfortable Travel Shoes (Andrew Harper)

Nothing ruins a vacation like blisters. Plan in advance! 

INTERESTING THINGS FROM OTHER PEOPLE:

Ummm a lot of the stuff I have been reading is about the election and I really, really don't want to talk about that here. But, in a similar vein, go ahead and read the greatest thing ever written by Dave Barry

My friend Melissa has been posting about her battle with Lyme disease - if you think it's something three weeks of antibiotics will cure, check out her story.

Also (and I won't do this every time):

AMAZING FOOD I'VE EATEN LATELY:

I get to go to a lot of food events, and have been to some particularly awesome ones lately. If you follow along on my Instagram, you already know about these, but just in case:

Red Ash

The aroma that wafts from this place indicates you're in for something special before you even walk in. Specializing in grilling (they have an array of wood-burning toys), the stars at our table was the wood-grilled octopus and the thick-cut osso buco. 

Flower Child

A photo posted by Erin Russell (@theduckiest) on

Hello, World!

I was not expecting to love this healthy salad place as much as I did (please see above post about osso buco) but everything we had was DELICIOUS. I loved my Thanksgiving-in-a-salad "Winter Sunshine" with butternut squash, arugula, goat cheese, cranberries, oranges, and almonds, and the avocado toast was perfection. (Plus, the decor is ADORABLE - Flowers everywhere!) If I lived in the Domain I would go here every day. 

Salty Sow

A photo posted by Erin Russell (@theduckiest) on

I have two favorite restaurants in Austin. One is Cafe Josie, the other is Salty Sow. Given how amazing their food is ("Holy Trinity" of appetizers = Brussels sprouts, duck fat fries +egg, and fried chicken + biscuit), I don't usually make it to dessert, even though I know how good their bananas foster beignets are (especially when served with nutmeg ice cream). This time, after restraining myself on the apps (though I dove into our pork tenderloin entree so tender we didn't need a knife), I was able to power through. Oh my god. So worth it. 

Brewer's Table

Technically not open yet, Brewer's Table will be offering chef-prepared cuisine paired with excellent beers. If their inaugural event and all-star team are any indication, this place is going to be awesome.

Mac n Cheese Festival

 A+ presentation on this one.

A+ presentation on this one.

Source of my random selfie of the week! My three favorites were District's version with duck confit (of course), Forthright's version with rosemary and pork belly, and No Va's just-enough-kick green chili version. Was really surprised at Schlotzsky's finish as the judge's second favorite - just proves sometimes simple done right will win!

Actually...one more picture. 

 Don't blame me...that's all I'm gonna say.

Don't blame me...that's all I'm gonna say.

Weekly-ish Recap: "How do you stay thin?"

I still feel weird calling myself a "food writer" but I certainly do a lot of it. And as such, I get invited to various dining events, occasionally at an alarming pace - and when a restaurant is trying to show off, they're not going to serve you salads. 

So, since I take many, many (terrible) pictures at said events, a question I get asked a lot is some version of "How do you stay so thin?" or "Where does it all go?" Which is weird to hear because, while I am definitely happy with the way I look, I don't think of myself as "thin" (#soccerlegs). But, to respond to the question, the answer is fourfold:

1) Genes (Thanks Mom and Dad!)

2) I eat pretty healthy outside of my restaurant tastings (which really only constitute three meals a week, max).

3) I am allergic to garlic and have an extremely sensitive stomach, so sometimes there is not a lot of "digesting" going on.

4) I work out more now than I ever have in my adult life. 

I'm always a little confused when people are surprised by #4 because I think I talk about my relationship with yoga fairly often (or maybe it just seems that way because I feel like one of *those people* every time I talk about yoga). I go three times a week and play soccer every Sunday, but this seems to be one of those things that is incongruous with my personality and so people don't remember. I don't really post sweaty selfies, so maybe it's just an "If a tree falls on social media and no one Instagrams it, did it really happen" sort of thing.

And while I know people are trying to be nice, it also annoys me the TINIEST bit when they ask why I'm thin - I worked for that shit! Many hours of squats and sacrifices were suffered through to look the way I do! I am almost never available for happy hour or drinks because if I'm not going to a food event, I'm burning one off. 

That said, I love what I do and the opportunities I get, and I am very thankful for this brief moment of having strength and a killer bod before everything goes to hell due to the inevitable death march of time. 

THINGS I PUBLISHED RECENTLY:

13 Austin Bars Where You Can Eat Well (Eater Austin)

My first for Eater Austin (!!!), this is a list of places you can take your fancy alcoholic friend.

These Are the Hottest Singles Scenes in Austin (Austin Way) 

I did a Facebook poll asking people where to meet singles in Austin, and the most common response was "move to another city." So thanks for helping out, guys.

6 Spiced Cocktails to Usher in Fall (Austin Way) 

It's been in the 50s here at night, which is basically the frigid cold of winter, so be sure to partake in these cocktails while you can.

If you are waiting on an explanation of my sads, it was published! On the deadline I set for myself! But I'm not going to link it publicly because #employers! 

INTERESTING THINGS FROM OTHER PEOPLE:

How a video game about sheep exposes the FBI's broken FOIA system (The Daily Dot) 

It starts with The Daily Dot questioning why the FBI felt the need to make a computer game using a sheep (or goat?) in an attempt to counter religious extremism and really only gets better from there. 

My First Gulfstream (Vanity Fair) 

A billionaire's hilarious journey of buying a jet. By the end of this article you will be like, "Well, OBVIOUSLY you had to spend $36,000 for two flat-screen TVs" and then you'll see the article was written in 1998 and realize the whole thing probably looks super tacky now and cry about life before the tech bubble burst. 

Here's Why You're Still Single Based on Your Myer's Briggs Personality Type (Elite Daily)

I reference this article on a weekly basis so I really should share it. Fun fact: I do not have a conclusive MBTI. 

Glittering garb at NY Fashion Week may spell the end of normcore (NY Daily News)

"This September's Fashion Week looked like a Michaels shopping trip on speed, in a very amazing way." Legit LOLs while reading. 

 

Obligatory random picture of me! 

 This is me from ACL with some rad people. Do I smile with my mouth open like this all the time? Yes.

This is me from ACL with some rad people. Do I smile with my mouth open like this all the time? Yes.

Weekly-ish Recap: Realtalk

I lied to you a few weeks ago. I'm sorry. 

First, let's just all acknowledge that these recaps occur every other week/whenever I have published the necessary amount of new articles to constitute a post. But Weekly-ish sounds cooler than Bi-weekly-ish so I am keeping it. (Plus maybe I will publish that much someday! #goals).

Okay, so the lying. You may have noticed that my writing has been different lately. I haven't published a personal essay in a long time, and the reason for that is threefold: 1) It's harder to find places that publish your personal essays for $$$ b) I am on the job hunt and having your potential employers read about how you're scared you won't have babies is kinda weird iii) I have been...sad, lately. For a while. And it is hard to write when every time you try, your eyes water and you can't see the screen anymore and then you have to go hug your cat and she just in general is not conducive to working and then you go watch Netflix to make your brain turn off. It's also a lot easier to do that than sit around and think about why you're sad. 

I feel really unprofessional saying that I'm sad. But saying I'm happy isn't a problem. Weird?

Every word I write that isn't an assignment feels like I'm slogging through mud with a rope that attaches me to a large water buffalo. Sure, there is some progress, but it's ugly. I keep waiting for the fog to lift but it hasn't. I think I'm supposed to write about it, but I don't know what kind of story has the ending "...and I still feel that way and don't know what to do." I don't know. We're going to find out together. I gave myself a deadline. 10/5. And then you can read about all my problems. Yay?

Anyway, I'm sorry to air my personal life on my portfolio blog. Here is what you came for. 

THINGS I PUBLISHED RECENTLY:

7 Can't-Miss Events Happening in Austin This Fall (Austin Way)
Everything from concerts in castles to a Satanic Panic Room, assuming you have the energy to get off the couch and enjoy life, which I do not. (JK - See you at Weekend 1 of ACL)

Must-Visit Breweries in Every Part of Austin (Austin Way) 
This inspired some heated debate on my Facebook page, but sorry, I made my choices and I'm sticking to them.

6 Restos Locals Don't Want to Tell You About (Austin Way) 
Including a restaurant that I'm pretty sure even natives are completely unaware of! 

INTERESTING THINGS FROM OTHER PEOPLE:

The World is a Thriving Slaughterhouse (The Atlantic)
To go along with the general uplifting theme of this post. 

Scandals! (New York Magazine)
Not so much an article but an issue that I am slowly working through. 

Last weekend I was in Maine for the wedding of one of my best friends, and our photoshoot made it into a Huffington Post roundup! We're #15 :) 

Random photo of me! This is from the Austin Way party at the Domain. Because you know what helps sadness? Stuffing your face with cookie shot glasses. 

 And because I know you'll ask...that amazing dress is from  ModCloth . 

And because I know you'll ask...that amazing dress is from ModCloth

Weekly-ish Recap: It is a Week, There is a Recap

Forgive me while I go on a 1-minute, profanity-laced rant about RuPaul's Drag Race. What? You don't watch? Well look, I have made some bad decisions in my life too, but I don't go around flaunting them when there's a remedy. Go watch. Start with Season 3 or Season 6. You'll love it. 

So okay, Drag Race. ADORE, W.T.F.? I THOUGHT YOU WOULD WIN. Adore Delano is one of the most captivating drag queens to ever appear on the show: She's stupid talented (the only queen to produce songs that actually sound good), charming, and you always have a sense of who she is. I GET that she felt she wasn't being rewarded for being herself, but WHY DID YOU DO THE SHOW? I'm sorry but I'm calling #conspiracy because everybody wants Alaska to get a crown. 

Also, Tatianna has probably had the biggest redemption of anyone this season and she gets kicked off in Week 2? She makes the show infinitely more watchable! And freaking PHI PHI was in the "Top 3?" Not about that. 

What am I about? #TeamKatya. That Björk laugh killed me. 

Okay. I am done. Let's talk about food. 

THINGS I PUBLISHED RECENTLY:

8 Cozy Wine Bars Perfect for Romantic Date Nights (Austin Way)

Need ideas for a date night? You'll hit a home run (in the figurative sense) (but not THAT figurative sense) with any one of these choices.

Austin Food Bloggers Share Their Favorite Summer Bites (Austin Way)

Here's something food bloggers don't tell you: We may eat out a lot and write clever captions, but the prettiest pictures aren't always the things that taste good. Here's the inside scoop from the top influencers in Austin on what is actually delicious. For the record, my favorite things were either the madai nigiri from Uchi, the baked spaghetti (I know how it sounds, trust) from Sophia's, the fromage blanc from VOX Table, or literally anything from Cafe Josie

The Best Travel Books to Inspire Your Journey (Andrew Harper)

Warning: whether you fantasize about lavish globetrotting or retracing the Oregon Trail (in a covered wagon!), these books will give you some serious wanderlust. 

INTERESTING THINGS FROM OTHER PEOPLE:

The Most Exclusive Restaurant In America - This New Yorker investigation into the tiny farmhouse restaurant with a "25-year wait list" will leave you mystified. 

I Got Scammed By A Silicon Valley Startup - AKA one of the many reasons why the Bay Area terrifies me. (Reason #2 - Why are people wearing jackets in August? That is too cold.)

The Best Restaurant In New York Is... - RIP Gawker. 

I am running out of random photos of myself so these are a little uncensored. 

First, here is my mane in its full glory (I have a lot of hair, you guys). 

Second, here is me in my natural habitat. (From TheChive/wherever internet photos are from)

Weekly-ish Recap: Look, Time Is Just A Concept Anyway

Some of you may have noticed I haven't been publishing a lot lately. This is due to a couple of reasons:

1) Writing is hard.

2) It takes away from valuable drinking time. (I know Hemingway would argue this with me. I am not Hemingway.)

So there you have it. HOWEVER, I have a lot more in the works this month, so I will not be lazy on posting my recaps.

THINGS I PUBLISHED RECENTLY:

7 Dainty Jewelry Designers in Austin & Where To Find Their Wares

I very much enjoy the delicate jewelry trend and almost went broke putting this list together. The entire article was inspired by the Zada necklace from pharaō in my W Hotel #SaveFerris swag bag that I love, love, love. 

Best Frozen Treats to Endure the Test of Sanity That Is Summer in Austin

I wrote this for my damn self. 

Review of Sophia's for Austin Food Magazine

Hi yes I love pasta - unsure if you knew this about me? Or if I have mentioned it maybe 70,000 times? Anyway, Sophia's is a swanky new spot on West 6th, and I give their pastas and #thatporkchoptho two thumbs up. (PS - This is my first review for Austin Food Magazine. Go read it so Hayden will pay me to do more!)

6 Ways to Get Your Oyster Fix in Austin

Personally I think oysters are basically sea snot, but I consulted people who know these things to write this article. 

7 Austin Restos Where You Can Have Brunch on Saturdays, Too

REMEMBER HOW I SAID I HAD AN IMPORTANT, LIFE-CHANGING ARTICLE? THIS IS THAT ARTICLE!!! Places that only serve brunch on Sundays are as dead to me as places that only serve breakfast tacos before 11 am. BRUNCH FOR ALL!!!!!!!!

INTERESTING THINGS FROM OTHER PEOPLE:

I dunno man. I'm really the only one who's been interesting this week. But you can read one of my favorite short stories of all time: Italy, by Antonio Elefano. This essay about women and (not) drinking was thought-provoking. If you have a ton of free time, start working your way through The Atlantic's list of exceptional journalism this year. Oh, and anyone who doesn't follow Wonton Soup on Instagram is making a serious mistake. 

OBLIGATORY RANDOM PICTURE OF ME: 

So when I went to the W Hotel party, we had the option to do a fitness class or sit in a cabana with a drink. Guess which one I went for?

Best Frozen Treats to Endure the Test of Sanity That Is Summer in Austin

Being an Austin native, I am not legally allowed to complain about heat — though it for sure helps that I know not to do something foolish like "go outdoors" unless there is a body of water nearby. 

That said, obviously the best solution to surviving the summer is to eat ice cream as often as possible. (Side note: I know that some would argue that summer is almost over, since it officially ends on September 21. To those people I say: LOL #Texas.) Here are my favorite frozen treats I've had this summer.

Please note: My shitty photos in no way reflect how delicious these creations are.

1) Vegan Ice Cream Sundae at VOX Table 

 Vegan (!) sundae from Vox Table

Vegan (!) sundae from Vox Table

I went to VOX Table during a marathon evening described in my last round-up (five-course dessert tasting at VOX followed by at five-course dinner at Eden East. Honestly I consider it one of the greatest achievements that I did not explode from happiness). Anyway, we met dessert chef Annabelle, who was terribly nice and specializes in creating food for special diets. This vegan sundae she created with coconut milk ice cream, almond brittle, and CHICKPEA MERINGUE was a friggin' piece of art (trust me on the meringue — it's delicious!).

 Fromage Blanc from Vox Table

Fromage Blanc from Vox Table

She also created probably one of my favorite desserts of the summer, the Fromage Blanc. Like, I am down with cheese, but I generally don't like it anywhere near my desserts (and don't even get me started on people who would rather have a cheese course than dessert), but this concoction with cinnamon shortbread and maple pecans was fantastic. All the flavors tied together beautifully. Also try the Jen at Barb's cocktail with peach, ginger, and oolong tea. Okay, I'm done now.

 Jen at Barb's at Vox Table

Jen at Barb's at Vox Table

2) Frozen Irish Coffee at Oasthouse 

 Frozen Irish Coffee at Oasthouse

Frozen Irish Coffee at Oasthouse

Best. Idea. Ever. Made with cold brew, cinnamon syrup, coconut and condensed milk, and, oh yeah, whiskey, I pretty much wake up craving this on Sunday mornings (read: every morning). While you are there for brunch, feel free to try their delicious chicken and waffles. 

 

3) Tiramisu with Espresso Fudge at Prohibition Creamery

 Prohibition creamery

Prohibition creamery

Booze + ice cream = genius, right? Well, to be honest, the first time I went to Prohibition Creamery, expectations were high and I left a little underwhelmed (I sampled Bourbon and Chocolate Whiskey that time). However, the second time, I got the Tiramisu ice cream with espresso fudge. (My server, Benton — who suggested that I mention him if I wrote an article — advised me that there was already espresso fudge in the ice cream, and was I sure I wanted to add more? Benton. Extra chocolate? And you must ask if I am sure?) This experience was life-changing and I have now started mixing bourbon into my hot fudge at home in a sad recreation of Prohibition Creamery's excellence.

Also, their drinks during happy hour are $6 and what is not to love about that???

 

4) Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet at Launderette

This was brought out to me to finish my birthday dinner at Launderette and totally made my night. It was light, tart, summery and everything a sorbet hopes to be when it grows up.

 Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet from Launderette

Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet from Launderette

 

5) Chocolate Root Beer Float at Trace 

 I DO NOT HAVE A PICTURE OF THE CHOCOLATE ROOT BEER FLOAT AND IT IS A TRAVESTY. However, here are some other pictures of tasty cookies from Trace.

I DO NOT HAVE A PICTURE OF THE CHOCOLATE ROOT BEER FLOAT AND IT IS A TRAVESTY. However, here are some other pictures of tasty cookies from Trace.

Lunch on the Fly at Trace is my favorite thing. Free valet parking, two delish courses, AND a box of cookies to go for only $12? Seriously, if someone wants to try it, I will go any day.

During their Ferris Bueller's Day Off anniversary party, which was so incredible I can't even begin to describe it here, we got to try some of the items from their normal menu too, which included the deconstructed Chocolate Root Beer Float. Chef Angel (who is both crazy talented and super nice) explained that she created the dish for her sister, who loves root beer floats. Chef Angel she does not, but loves chocolate (same, Chef Angel. Same.), so the tinkered with a recipe they could enjoy together and ta-da, magic. To be honest, I'm not sure how "frozen" this is (I remember it being cold? But this was also after several Mangoliciouses from the Wet Bar — and I am sure THOSE are frozen!), but it was so good I am listing it anyway. 

 I do, however, have a great picture of the Mangolicious.

I do, however, have a great picture of the Mangolicious.

 

6) Salted Caramel Sundae at Cantine

 Peach Empanadas, Salted Caramel Sundae, Lemon Semifreddo

Peach Empanadas, Salted Caramel Sundae, Lemon Semifreddo

My parents are die-hard Asti fans, so we're already pretty well aware of the capabilities of Emmett and Lisa Fox. The house-made vanilla bean soft-serve here is really something special. 

 

7) Passionfruit Gelato at Gelateria Venezia

To be fair, I do automatically love any place where I can practice my Italian with actual Italians. However, the gelato here is also pretty legit. The tart passionfruit, which was topped with rich, fudgy chocolate, was my favorite, although the chocolate coconut was also a strong contender. Plus, you can get their gelato in those adorable little donuts!

 

8) Frozen Bee's Knees at King Bee

I've already written about my love for this dive bar several times (proof 1, proof 2), so if you haven't been to King Bee to try their Frozen Bee's Knees at this point, there's really nothing I can do to help you. And that's fine. More of it for me. This perfectly sweet/tart/COLD concoction is topped with a flower, which I love, because I am very fancy. 

 

9) Torta Barozzi at Juliet Ristorante

 Watermelon Mule from Juliet

Watermelon Mule from Juliet

Two things stood out to me about our dinner here. The first was the Watermelon Mule, which was cooling, refreshing, and perfect (and I don't even like watermelon!). Drink a copper mug of this on their breezy patio immediately. The second was the hazelnut stracciatella gelato (which I'm pretty sure may contain crack) that came with the Torta Barozzi. 

 Being a food writer is really hard, guys.

Being a food writer is really hard, guys.

 

10) Frosé at anywhere that serves Frosé

In case you were not aware: I am a white girl. This was made for us. If there is a place in Austin that serves frosé (which I thought was spelled frozé, but whatever), please alert me immediately, but for now my favorite incarnation is a strawberry version made by my friend Rafiq (who is also a white girl, even if he tries to deny it). It can also be made with other summer fruits (helloooooo peaches). 

Weeklyish Recap: Extremely Late Edition

Yeah okay this time I have no excuse. Writing has just been difficult lately. Especially last Thursday after a five-course dessert tasting from VOX Table (everyone go try the fromage blanc immediately) followed by a long-awaited five-course dinner at actual farm Eden East. That's 10 courses, six of which were desserts. DON'T TELL ME WRITERS DON'T WORK HARD! 

Thank you Hayden (of Austin Food Magazine) for this picture during the Eden East dinner that captures my true elegance.

 

THINGS I PUBLISHED RECENTLY:

Spicy Cocktails You'll Want to Drink All Summer

Do you like some heat in your firewater? Check out my list of spicy cocktails in Austin. My friend Marissa also recommends Mark at Ranch 616.

8 Travel Apps To Download Now

If you're planning a trip, check out my handy list of travel apps for Andrew Harper that covers everything from inspiration to translating to sending a postcard from your phone.

How To Never Give Up On Love Even When It's The Only Thing You Want To Do

An old post of mine was republished on Thought Catalog. Literally the day I got the request for republishing was a day I just wanted to stay curled up in bed and hide from everything in the world, so it was pretty serendipitous timing to get this encouragement.

 

INTERESTING THINGS FROM OTHER PEOPLE:

My friend Hussain is an amazing filmmaker and his short Low Tide was just released. It's only 13 minutes - check it out: http://www.lowtidefilm.com/

Wedding Announcement For the Most Insufferable People In The World - What do you think is the worst part? Personally, I enjoy the line "she asked him: “‘Is this fair? We are not too close, right?’ He said, ‘No, we are just two pilgrims along the way, traveling together for a while.’” Seriously. Someone said that to another person and then they got married.

How God Created Animals - These always make me chuckle.

"If The Serial Killer Gets Us, He Gets Us" - This Texas Monthly story on a serial killer in Houston is both horrifying and timely.

Oh and PS #blacklivesmatter

 

Weeklyish Recap: Birthday Edition

I'm sure many of you were glued to this blog last week waiting for me to post for the second time, only to be sorely disappointed. "How," you may have asked, "could she have forgotten about doing a weekly update only one week in?" But! I did not forget. It was my birthday, which means celebrating for a week (#onlychild). Happy birthday to me!

Plus, I only had one article published, and I am not about to write an entire post for only one link that directly benefits me. 

Anyway, on with it:

THINGS I PUBLISHED THIS WEEK-ISH:

Austin's Top Chefs Share Their Favorite Food Trucks

Apparently Paperboy is a thing that I need to try? Also shout out to my fave, Via 313, who did not make the list, but provided me with vital sustenance during my birthday celebration.

How An Artist Turned His Quirky Passion Into A Career

It is fascinating to me how artists end up actually making money (pretty much how this series - which includes a UX designer and a book cover designer - has turned out). Also, my friends are soooo awesome.

5 Ways To Step Up Your Business Lunch Game

So many restaurants in Austin are now offering lunch made by actual chefs - there's no reason to go to Chipotle. 

The Secret Sadness of Being Independent

One of my more personal articles got reposted on Mogul this week. Reread and feel all the feels!

INTERESTING THINGS FROM OTHER PEOPLE:

I Packed Up My College Room, And With It, The Memory Of Him

The author of this article over at Literally, Darling is going to do her MFA at Columbia and after reading this reflective piece, it's pretty easy to see why.

How To Survive A Mass Shooting

A Shot In The Heart

Interview With A Woman Who Recently Had An Abortion at 32 Weeks

Sorry to be a downer on a Sunday, but these are the big stories. Probably better if I do not comment. (OK, one comment. That late-term abortion? $25,000. Upfront, cash.)

On a lighter note, RuPaul's Drag Race is doing a second all-stars round! #TeamAdore

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! I'm sorry but you'll never be as cool as my dad, who makes the best/worst puns, had a character-building paper route through several feet of Iowa snow, and writes GameFAQs that receive far more hits than my articles ever will. 

 Russell Family birthday dinner at Launderette where we all managed to look like normal humans, for once. Haha - we tricked you!

Russell Family birthday dinner at Launderette where we all managed to look like normal humans, for once. Haha - we tricked you!

Trying Something New: Weekly Recap

Though my "Everything" tab is always updated pretty instantaneously, I realize that's not necessarily the best way to find new articles I've published, and they can get lost in the fray on Facebook. So I'm going to try a little post every week with the things I've written, plus other interesting tidbits. Please be patient with changes since, per usual, I have no idea what I'm doing.

 

THINGS I PUBLISHED RECENTLY:

These Boozy Frosties Will Be the Only Cocktails You'll Want to Drink http://austinway.com/delicious-frozen-cocktails-to-drink-this-summer 

For Austin Way, I covered (mostly) non-margarita frozen beverages (minimally coincidentally, I am currently reading The Master and Margarita because of this article). Anyway, if you haven't had the frozen Bees Knees at King Bee, you are missing out on life.

A Surfer Life Breakfast For The Type-A Cubicle Set http://roadsandkingdoms.com/breakfast/surfer-life-breakfast-type-cubicle-set/

Most of you were probably aware of how excited I was to be published in Roads & Kingdoms, a food porn/travel stories blog backed by Anthony Bourdain. I met the editor at SXSW this year and congratulated him on this article on ragu being nominated for a James Beard award. He asked me if I wrote, and after I mentioned a recent article on the very important topic of veggie burgers, he told me I should submit. It took me two months to work up the courage to do so - but I guess it paid off.  

6 Ways Bachelorette Weekends Suck So Much More Than Bachelor Parties http://elitedaily.com/women/bachelorette-weekends-bachelor-parties/1496091/ 

Okay, so this was published two weeks ago but I refer to it often. As much as I wish that it didn't come off as a little sexist, it's totally true. 

INTERESTING THINGS FROM OTHER PEOPLE:

Do you follow Juniper Foxx on Instagram? You should. That tail. Jesus.

Everyone's been posting this Hillary Clinton profile and I finally read it during my Sunday morning post-crossword lounge sesh. I don't generally enjoy reading about politicians but this is a fascinating profile of a woman in power regardless of your political stance. Choice quote:

...she encounters people on rope lines who tell her, “ ‘I really admire you, I really like you, I just don’t know if I can vote for a woman to be president.’ I mean, they come to my events and then they say that to me.” But, she maintains, “Unpacking this, understanding it, is for writers like you. I’m just trying to cope with it. Deal with it. Live through it.” Here, Clinton laughed, as if living through it were a hilarious punch line.

I had "The Experience" at Cafe Josie last night and it was probably one of the most amazing culinary experiences I've had - and only $40 per person. More on this later.

Sorry to be a downer on a Sunday, but it's important to read this letter the Stanford victim read aloud to her rapist in court, especially given that his father referred to the rape as "20 minutes of action" today. If you want to know what rape culture is, this is it. Right here.

Oh, I guess I should have some sort of picture here now?

I went to a bachelorette party in Chicago last weekend - here is a picture of me putting a temporary tattoo on my friend Emily while we have brunch, which meets two of the criteria from my article (no one ended up crying though, so, success!).

Where To Get Your Lunchtime Cookie Fix In Austin, Assuming You Work Near Me

People tend to remember the aspects of my personality that they can fit into a trope. Sad single girl with cat who has an album of Tinder nightmares. White girl who loves yoga and brunch. Competitive person who went to smart school, keeps all kinds of spreadsheets, and should not be allowed near board games. Writer, whatever the THAT means.

Then there are the (very strong) aspects of my personality that get lost along the way because they don't fit in to how people think of me. Former resident of Italy. Soccer player. And, most importantly for this article, cookie monster.

Maybe people don’t notice because I usually eat lunch on my own, or they make assumptions since I'm thin, but regardless, it is honestly problematic. I literally base my lunch choice on how good their cookies are, and I have one pretty much every day. It's bad.

That said, here is a ranking of cookies near my office in terms of deliciousness. A few ground rules:

  1. This is all based on chocolate chip because nothing else matters.

  2. “Crispy” is not a positive thing in a cookie.

  3. I do not have a nuts vs no nuts preference or allergies or anything. Just make it good.

  4. Cookies should be made with lots of butter and/or whatever industrial palm oil that is probably going to give me heart disease but also makes them soft and delicious.

  5. I work near 24th and Lamar, plz don't stalk me kthxbai.

  6. I am going to say some harsh things, because I am a tough critic. Also, I make some bomb-ass cookies, which means I have room to judge because I know it's just NOT THAT HARD, PEOPLE.

  7. It's important to remember that at least all of these places offer cookies, and are therefore infinitely better than places with no desserts. Plus at the end of the day, just like pizza and sex, it's still a cookie.

 #imadethese #nofilter #10/10 #wouldmarry

#imadethese #nofilter #10/10 #wouldmarry

Dishonorable mention: TacoDeli

For a while, Tacodeli offered salted dark chocolate cookies from a baker that I randomly met at a party who was super nice, though apparently she couldn't keep up with the supply and had to cease production. I didn't understand the salt thing, but sure, they were acceptable. However my main problem is that these cookies were THREE DOLLARS. FOR A COOKIE. Much like their tacos, this kind of price gouging meant I eventually evolved past Tacodeli to better things. Now I feed my twice weekly taco habit down the street at gas station trailer trailer (what up, Taqueria Anyeli!) for half the price and twice the flavor. AND they serve breakfast tacos with REAL-ASS POTATOES, ALL DAY. But I digress. Back to cookies.

Places I cannot rank because I haven't tried their cookies:

- The Steeping Room (I have had pastries here, they were good, so cookies are probably good).

- Upper Crust (I have had cakes here that were good and pastries were NOT good [UC, how do you fail at muffins so hard], so unsure of cookie quality).

- Searsucker (Went there for lunch and saw the table next to us get complimentary warm chocolate chip cookies but when our check came, nothing. NOT THAT I AM BITTER)

THE ACTUAL WORST: Quack's Bakery

It's possible that some things at Quack’s are good, but I haven't had them because their cookies are god-awful. Remember how I said cookie is better than no cookie? Not in this case. They are hard and legitimately difficult to eat. With no viable cookie options nearby, this means my beloved Julio’s is only a lunch option if I've done the baking myself.

17. 34th Street Cafe: Everyone at my office goes nuts over the Asian Chicken Salad here. I don't get it. Also do not get cookies because there is no softness to them whatsoever.

16. My Sweet Austin: This is a new bakery right by my office run by a very lovely woman who I kind of don't want to include on this list because maybe she just didn't have her cookie operation fully running yet, but #journalisticintegrity. They are not good. Her cookies have the opposite problem of the previous two in that they are WAY too soft and cake-y. Cakey cookies are weird.

15. Thundercloud Subs: This can actually vary based on location  some of them are fine, if tiny. They're also like 50 cents. So.

14. P. Terry's: Again, acceptable, but still too hard for my taste. And what is this oatmeal bullshit? Are you trying to get fiber into my body? I will not be fooled.

13. Food! Food!:  This little Tarrytown takeaway spot is SO GOOD! I just discovered them on Super Tuesday. It's the kind of place where everybody runs into neighbors and stays to chat. However their cookies are like a 6/10  too flat. Going to give the blondies a go next time though.

12. Panera: Why does everyone like their chocolate chip cookies? They are sub-par. Sure, they're soft, but taste like nothing. The best cookies at Panera are unquestionably their toffee nut variety, which are only available "seasonally" (I have not yet determined when toffee is in season)(?).

11. Moojo: I wanted to enjoy Moojo so much more than I actually did. They make you a cookie ice cream sandwich where you can choose the cookie and the ice cream. Sounds amazing, right? Not as good in actual practice.

10. Fricano's: These are also slightly crispy for my taste BUT they're usually still warm so the chocolate is a little melty = 100 emoji.

9. Houndstooth: SUSTAINABLE LOCALLY OWNED COFFEE BREWED WITH THE PURIFIED WATER FROM AFRICAN SAVANNAH RAIN blah blah their cookies are great, but they're usually out of them :(

8. Whole Foods: Now we are starting to get into the cookies that I legitimately crave. And don't think I'm talking about the Whole Foods chocolate chip cookies  get that crispy bullshit out of here. The Vegan "Big John" cookies are where it's at. First of all, true to advertising they are gigantic. Second, they have huge chunks of (vegan, so, dark?) chocolate. Third, vegan => it’s a fact that all vegan things are healthy and good for you. So it’s like I’m not even eating dessert at all. Bonus! However, due to lack of actual butter, they don't fulfill that sumptuousness that a cookie needs. 

7. Jason's Deli: Great cookie. Solid choice. Lots of vanilla flavor. Much yum.

6. Central Market: Have you had a chocolate chip cookie with dark chocolate, milk chocolate, AND macadamia nuts? If no, you have not lived. If that’s not your thing, they also have chocolate chip and pecan. And chocolate chocolate chip. And normal...look, just get their cookies, they’re delicious.

5. Texas French Bread: I can tell that the cookies here are made with actual ingredients, not like, corn syrup masquerading as vanilla extract or anything. This is a plus.

4. Subway: YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE. For all their “fresh” and “healthy” menu, Subway is being sneaky because their cookies are too tempting for any dieter to pass up. They are the gold standard of cookie quality, as you can get three for $1.20 which is just stupid. Again, I’m sure these are made of things that I cannot pronounce, WHATEVER, they’re good. So what could possibly be better???

*~Honorable Mentions/Dance Break!~*

Before we get to the top 3, these two places have some serious cookie game but as they are in the Arboretum, are a bit too far for me to go for lunch. Does that mean I haven’t made the drive, speeding down Mopac in my hour allotment? Absolutely not. Again, people seem to underestimate how crazy I am about cookie quality.

Zoe's Kitchen: I can eat literally nothing here because I’m allergic to garlic, but I saw their cookies in a Houston list so decided I should try. Holy shit. Terrific cookie. Two kinds of chocolate, gooey, flavorful. Yum.

Blue Baker: Lots of pecans in these. Great texture. Wunderbar.

3. Foodheads: Foodheads is good at pretty much everything they do, and cookies are no exception. They did change the recipe a while ago and I think the original was better, but still, assuming no one burned the cookies to a crisp that day (has happened), they are some of the best. Good size, just the right amount of softness in the middle. And the adorable atmosphere does not hurt.

2. Cafe Express: I get this weird vibe from Cafe Express, because it’s like, corporate? But chef-inspired? But they give you your food on a tray? And it’s right by the hospital so filled with people wearing pagers? IDK. However, I will gladly tolerate the weirdness because their cookies, which they usually run out of, curse them, are SO GOOD. Again, it’s all about balance: they are baked just right, they have lots of chocolate but the vanilla and butter of the cookie shine through. A+.

~And the winner is...~

1. Tiff's Treats: Was there even any doubt? Buttery cookies, delivered right to your desk while they are still warm? A guy sent me some after our third date and after a year and a half together he is one of the great loves of my life. Coincidence?

Although, for the record, I have a very specific reason for preferring Tiff’s Treats: They make cookies with chocolate chips AND M&Ms. I cannot stress how infinitely better cookies are with M&Ms. It’s like extra chocolate but with the added benefit of crunch and candy. It’s just a scientific fact, okay?


So there you have it. If you work near me and need a cookie fix, these are your best options. If you disagree 1) you are wrong 2) please leave a comment and let me know your misguided opinion. And feel free to bring me cookies for sampling.

 By the way, it's almost SXSW and I'm short on random pictures of myself, so here's one from my very first SXSW!

By the way, it's almost SXSW and I'm short on random pictures of myself, so here's one from my very first SXSW!

A Look Back at 2015 - Good Riddance

I generally stay pretty positive. I know that, overall, my life is incredibly privileged and I am lucky to have it. But man, fuck this year. 

I started the year by getting broken up with. Then, my car got totaled by someone with no insurance. Then, I had to cancel celebrating my 30th birthday due to not being able to stand up without immense amounts of pain, which turned out to require the removal of one of my organs and severely limit one of my greatest joys in life: food. The accident and the surgery cost significant amounts of money, causing me to not be able to attend my friend's wedding, among other cutbacks. I got rejected lots of times, my favorite band canceled on my interview request, and my cat started using my couch as a bathroom. Oh, and I got to end the year with a breakup too. Yippee. 

...

...

YEAH OKAY FINE GREAT THINGS HAPPENED THIS YEAR TOO. It was my New Year's Resolution to get paid for my writing, and I accomplished that on January 8th with my xoJane article. I started doing yoga and finally found a form of exercise I can actually keep up with (not to mention that losing an organ and the ability to eat food made me lose 15 lbs in the least joyous way possible). I had an article go viral-ish and even had a reality TV show contact me about it. I went to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Montreal, and Italy (with my mom!). And I'm not dead. 

However, I have to say I'm really glad this year is over and a new one is beginning. Sure, I'll have to endure more people at my yoga studio, but it's time to set new goals. I was able to accomplish the two I set for myself last year, and the two I have for this year are a bigger deal and will require fairly significant life changes. Let's see what I can do.

Happy New Year, everyone, and here's to a better 2016.


(PS - I have no intention of writing in this blog on a regular basis, so don't get excited). 

A Few Recommendations For Italy (from someone who lived there)

My mom and I just got back from a 12-day trip to Italy. It was spurred by her reading this article in the New York Times and getting super excited about trying all the different kinds of pasta and exploring the concept of "sprezzatura." She couldn't wait to try cacio e pepe.

Shortly after arriving in Rome, we discover 1) she doesn't like Pecorino Romano (the "cacio" of cacio e pepe) 2) She doesn't like meat in her pasta, which limits her classic Roman pasta options to, basically, cacio e pepe

Our trip was full of these kinds of things: my mom doesn't really give a shit about food, while it is 80% of my joy in life; my mom wants to wander through churches and see art, I want to see historical places and the bottoms of wine glasses; she's drawn to old crumbling walls, I love modern developments. I knew this going in, of course, and we definitely found a happy medium of activities. We started in Rome, then stopped in Milan (for me), Venice (for her), and then back for an extended stay in Rome. Here were the highlights of our trip:

1) Rome

Important things first. Where to eat:

La Taverna Dei Fori Imperiali

Hands down the best dining experience we had on this trip. Don't be fooled by its location near all the touristy spots, this place serves up some serious pasta. It's not that expensive, either! Call ahead to reserve — we arrived around 2pm for lunch, but they were full...luckily the waiter returned while we were regrouping outside and told us they had a table for us. I had pasta alla grigia (basically bacon pasta) with chewy homemade tonnarelli and perfectly crisp guanciale — it was incredible. My mom even admitted it was "another level" above her beloved Da Tonino (see below).

Da Tonino

This tiny restaurant was my mom's happy place. A popular neighborhood spot, there's a decent chance you'll have to wait, but it's worth it for the cheap and delicious dishes. My mom got the ravioli every time, I was partial to their version of carbonara.

Mimi e Coco

When you get tired of pasta all day every day (I guess this is possible for some people?) this is a cute place to come with other options. Mom got one of their crispy potato dishes, I got a salad, both were exactly what we needed. 

Trattoria Monti

It was unfortunately closed during our trip, but I have fond memories of this family-run place and the incredible mosaics in the museum next door. 

La Sagrestia

Great Roman-style pizza.

(Side note: Our food tour and Trip Advisor sent me to Da Enzo 29 — there was a huge line to get in but I was NOT impressed with the food. Their tiramisu is bomb though.)

Things to do:

Oh geez, I don't know. It's fucking Rome. We skipped the Colosseum and Roman Forum because we had been before, but you should go if you haven't been. The Capitoline Museums were great if overwhelming — definitely save a lot of time for these, as we saw maybe half. My favorite part of Rome (other than shopping at Abiti e Sogni, which we passed by on our jet-lagged first day there and spent the rest of the trip searching for again —but I found it!) was probably wandering through the Borghese gardens, while my mom savored her favorite church, San Luigi dei Francesi (yes, it's French). We had a lovely walk down Via dei Coronari, which had lots of cute shops along the way. Next time we go, I definitely want to explore Castel Sant'Angelo.

 Da Tonino

Da Tonino

2) Milan

I lived here for two years, so I could write a book about things to do in Milan. I loved exploring the new (to me) construction by Porto Nuova (there was a Christmas market with an ice skating rink when we went, but the fountain area is beautiful all year long). My favorite aperitivo place (you pay about 10 euro for a drink and food buffet) in Milan is La Ringhiera, there are also some good ones in Brera. There's a beautiful walk (full of good shopping, I might add) from Duomo down Via Torino, by the Colonne di San Lorenzo, by the park/church of San Lorenzo, ending at the Navigli. My mom's special place is Castello Sforzesco; she loves imagining life within the old walls. This city is very close to my heart, so there are too many things I love to fit into one post.

 Piazza del Duomo. My mom is still learning how to be an  Instagram Husband .

Piazza del Duomo. My mom is still learning how to be an Instagram Husband.

3) Venice

I did not have high hopes for Venice, as I had been unimpressed on my previous two visits. We stayed in Hotel Moresco, which immediately changed my mind about the city. Welcome drink upon checkin, bottle of prosecco waiting in the room, a snack buffet in the evening, and gorgeous view of the canals. Speaking of snacks, seafood-heavy Venice is not really my culinary scene, but I tried cicchetti (had never heard of it before — basically Venetian tapas) at Cantine del vino gia' Schiavi, which were great! Of course, St. Mark's cathedral is stunning — pay the extra 5 euro or whatever to go upstairs. But my favorite thing we did in Venice was go see Ca' Rezzonico. Think of it as "MTV's Cribs" for 18th century Venice (PS, if you think rappers go overboard now, just wait until you see the ceiling frescoes). Absolutely beautiful, with a colorful history to match. Can't wait to go back and explore the other palazzi. 

 Hot chocolate at Hotel Moresco

Hot chocolate at Hotel Moresco

Overall it was a wonderful trip. We didn't go anywhere I hadn't been, or visit my favorite Italian city (Sorrento), but I was happy to get to know Rome better. I was lucky to enjoy classic, delicious food, see historic beauty, practice my other language, and of course, spend time with my mother. Happy to provide other recommendations as desired!

Friends!

Strangely, I do have human friends too. Their blogs are super-awesome and you should check them out:

Stat Badgers: http://statbadgers.com/
My college roommate Kristian has a PhD in statistics from Duke and she and her husband James use their mathematical prowess to write about important things like lemur testicles and Masshole drivers.

Strugglista: http://www.strugglista.com/
Daniela was in a writing class with me at Rice and I still remember her essay. I couldn't care less about fashion but I read every blog post because she is hilarious.

Beth Cakes: http://bethcakes.com/
Beth is a writer for Literally, Darling and her baking blog is full of pretty and delicious treats that make me super sad I don't live closer to Alabama.

Also, to continue the trend of gratuitous pictures of myself with each blog post, here is one of me with a turtle that I absolutely would not trust.

My Condensed Life Story

I was born an increasingly long time ago in Austin, Texas, on a particularly awesome national holiday. My mother worked for a magazine here in Texas and my father is a math teacher. That really should explain a lot about me: I'm a pretty even combination of the two. 

After high school, I went to Rice University in Houston and majored in biology because I thought it was "harder" than my favorite subject, English (I also studied Italian, for some reason). I then did some internships in animal behavior (including spending my 21st birthday in bustling Boyd, Texas, a dry county) and realized I hated it, but graduation was imminent so I had to stick with biology. I did score a pretty awesome internship at Houston Modern Luxury magazine my senior year.

Upon graduating, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I had been to San Diego on vacation a couple of times, and that seemed like a pretty good place to figure out my next step. I flew to San Diego for four days, found a job and an apartment, flew back to Texas, and packed my car to move across the country. At the first pit stop during my 20 hour drive, I was informed that I received an internship I had applied for months ago to teach English in Italy. So, I started my first job knowing that I would quit in six months.

I moved to Milan in January of 2008. I liked Italy but I LOVED teaching, so when I returned to San Diego, I decided to go back to Milan to get certified and see if I could find a job. Once again, I flew to a faraway place and found a job and an apartment (eventually...I moved nine times that year—I am now REALLY good at packing). I spent the next two years teaching English in Milan during the school year, and in San Diego during the summer.

I returned to the States permanently in June 2010. In San Diego, I worked for an online university, which was interesting, and was involved with a nonprofit called Reality Changers, which provided some balance on the good/evil spectrum. In 2012 I moved back to Austin to be closer to family, and promptly got a cat (Shiloh, love of my life). I lucked into a year-long externship at Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and I also started writing for a fledgling blog called Literally, Darling that now gets over 100K unique visitors per month. I continue to work in philanthropy and write as much as I can.