Hello again!

Well hello there! Nice to see you again; it’s been a while, no? I, unfortunately, had to buckle down before Thanksgiving to get through all the work stuff that I needed to get done. And then Thanksgiving happened and I was too busy stuffing my face cooking for my wonderful family to post anything.

So! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Luffy and I, with Jas in tow, set off to my West Texas hometown Wednesday morning. We made record time now that the speed limits are pretty much all at 75 MPH (which means we go 82, but shhhhh). It was wonderful to see my parents and they’re at the tail end of a home renovation so it was weird/fun to see my childhood home look COMPLETELY different. My mom and I dived right into cooking (a new Brussels sprouts recipe for that evening’s dinner) and drinking (champagne, our favorite). Jas dived right into being Queen and ruling over my parents’ three boy cats (with much hissing and growling). Luffy dived right into eating (ice cream cones that my parents always get for him, like I never feed him anything fun). It was glorious.

On Thanksgiving day, my mom and I made doughnuts for breakfast (baked, for the record, pumpkin and a plain powdered sugar one). Then I made mini cheesecakes and an accompanying caramel sauce. My mom started cooking for Thanksgiving lunch. Everything came together right on time for my half brother and his family to join us. It was all delicious, of course.

(A side note – I have the perfect cautionary tale of why you should never ever, EVER drum up more enthusiasm for a dish/present/whatever than you actually have. Several years ago, my half brother’s wife made a pie for Thanksgiving. It doesn’t really have a name, that I know of, but it has a chocolate cookie crust (think crushed Oreo’s), with a peanut butter filling (it’s lighter than peanut butter, I’m thinking perhaps peanut butter with whipping cream), with a whipped cream top, drizzled with chocolate and peanut butter sauce. Now. Reread that. Do your teeth ache just reading it? Cause mine do. One bite is good. Two bites are ok. And any more than that are just upsetting. The pie is so sweet – too sweet. Plus, I’ve come to loathe these types of desserts that are “no bake, just throw crap in a pan then refrigerate and who cares that everything going in is super sweet on its own and that it’s not really a pie but more like a blob of semi-firm ingredients!” – ahem. Anyway, the first time she brought it, I was being my nice self, I’m sure, and gushed about how delicious it was. The fact that I only made it through 1/4 of my slice blob clearly didn’t matter. But that’s ok! I was just being nice. Surely nothing bad could come from being nice! Flash forward five or six Thanksgivings and she’s brought that pie EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. This year, she even brought two. TWO! When we can barely get through half a pie with the obligatory post-Thanksgiving-feast slice. And this, my friends, is why you never say you love something when you kind of just tolerate it. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!!)

The rest of Thanksgiving passed with a haze of tryptophan and snacks and football until about 6:15, when my phone rang. As I answered the 1-800 number, I saw that I had also gotten a notification from my Amex app. A sense of foreboding spreads…. Sure enough, an automated voice on the other end of the line was notifying me that suspicious activity had been noticed on my Amex account and that I should verify that I had made the following purchase. In a panic, I hit the option to repeat and urgently asked Luffy if he’d used my credit card that day. He hadn’t. I hadn’t. But someone had.

When I responded that I hadn’t made the transaction, I was immediately forwarded to a live-person-type representative who went over the charges with me again. Strange transactions from Google Payments and some restaurant I’d never heard of. I assured the rep that I hadn’t even used my card today – I’d been at home! He shut my card down immediately, issued me a new one, and marked the transactions that had gone through as fraudulent, assuring me that I’d bear no responsibility for them. YAY Amex!! He was very polite and exceedingly helpful and I will forever be grateful that Amex was watching my card while I was enjoying the holiday.

When I got off the phone, I recapped the conversation for Luffy and pulled up my card activity through my app. There were about eight transactions that had gone through, totaling about $90 (Amex had declined the transaction when the thief had tried to push through a transaction for $164). You could see that they’d done several small payments to see if the card number was good. Once they finally had it, they pushed through increasingly larger transactions.

I’m not responsible for any of the charges, of course (YAY Amex!!), but it is a very strange feeling, to have one’s credit card number stolen. I feel vulnerable, like I’ve had my privacy invaded. I have no idea how or where they got it. If it was a pull from a swipe of my card at a physical location or  a hack into a database that stores my info. I don’t know if they got it months ago and just got around to selling it/using it or if they stole it recently. All I can do is update my accounts to my new card information and hope that it doesn’t happen again.


So that put a bit of a damper on Thanksgiving. We tried to turn the evening around though (champagne to the rescue!) and dug up old videos of my brother to initiate his girlfriend.

The rest of the week passed quickly with family activities. More baking. Watching movies together. Cooking. Chatting. Watching more movies. Fun times. And Jas did eventually stop hissing at my parents’ cats every time they moved – success!

 

Happy Birthday to me!

Luffy and I celebrated my birthday over the weekend. He picked up a bottle of my favorite champagne and got all  my favorite (and his least favorite) flavors of macaroons (lemon and pumpkin)! Plus I got full control of the TV to binge-watch my current favorite guilty-pleasure show (Gossip Girl). All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. And I got it because I learned a very important lesson about relationships.

You see, when I was younger, I always thought that birthday surprises, among other things, just happened. And I don’t mean that someone didn’t have to plan it. More that Person A automatically knows what to plan out and how to celebrate Festivity B with their partner, Person C…… and that was slightly convoluted. Let’s try again. I thought that when I found my lobster, he would just know how to celebrate my birthday or Chistmas or our anniversary. SPOILER ALERT!! That’s not always how it works. Some people, like Luffy, need direction.

Luffy’s just not a big celebration guy. I’m not sure if it’s cultural (the Chinese have very few holidays and rarely give presents that aren’t cash) or personal. You would never find him decorating for Christmas or gushing about his “birthday week” (lololol). Truth be told, he doesn’t even have his birthday listed on Facebook and actually chided me when I posted a happy birthday note on his wall the first time. (True story – his boss texted him happy birthday this year and his legitimate FOR REAL response was – how did you know it’s my birthday? He was very disappointed to learn that apparently his work’s HR program reminds bosses when their employees have birthdays.) This is what he wants, so I respect it. True, I tell him happy birthday about 500 times (in person) on the day, because I am genuinely glad that he’s around and I love him to pieces, but I’ve stopped any sort of public declaration of love and devotion and OMGEES IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY!!!!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes – I always thought that having to dictate your own celebration would make it less special, less exciting. I was very pleasantly surprised to find out this weekend that it did not. Not one bit. A couple of weeks ago, I said I’d like champagne and cupcakes and a day of doing nothing (Luffy had wondered if I wanted a present… and, you know, what to get). Luffy took those marching orders and delivered my favorite champagne, and a cupcake, AND macaroons, AND excellent girly TV, AND my favorite lazy meals (brunch out and cheese/salami/fruit plate). It was fantastic. And, on Friday night, as he was detailing out our plans for Saturday, I was over the moon excited and couldn’t wait to begin.

So yeah. Never be afraid to ask for what you really want. He may be my husband, but he can’t read my mind.

Changing Topics

Whew – my ovaries have been front and center for the past …. scrolls back …. keeps scrolling …. keeps scrolling … well, several weeks. I think we’re in dire need of a topic change around here. So:

Thanksgiving!

It’s just three weeks away people! Woot woot!

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. There are several things going for it (1) food, (2) lots of food, (3) a legitimate excuse to stuff your face with lots of food, (4) none of the present-buying pressure of Christmas (but all of the cookies), and (5) a legitimate excuse to open wine around noon (we have Thanksgiving lunch in my family). It’s the BEST, in my personal opinion.

Luffy and I head to my parents’ house, usually the day before Thanksgiving and then stay through the weekend. My mom and I bake up a storm the entire time and we both help make Thanksgiving lunch happen (so that one of us isn’t chained to the kitchen the entire morning). We always have fun planning our menu and finding new dishes to try (the only “traditional” thing we serve is a turkey). Last year, I introduced my family to my amazing cauliflower mash. It could pass for mashed potatoes and indeed it DID pass for mashed potatoes until my brother’s girlfriend spilled the beans. My dad was affronted that I had managed to sneak vegetables to stealthily past his radar! Good times.

Along with all this fantastic eating is the general laziness that comes whenever you visit your childhood home. Does this happen to any of you?? I’m a perfectly capable adult and yet when I go home I revert back to this teenage self. I don’t want to make breakfast for myself and I’m just fine with letting my poor, overworked mother clean up after lunch. I’m happy to sit and watch TV all weekend and barely get out of my pajamas by noon most days. It’s glorious.

I’m counting down the days to turkey time.

Halloween!

And how was your’s? Our’s was fantastic, thanks for asking. No, we didn’t dress up in an adorable, punny couple’s costume or visit a haunted house or anything like that. We stayed home. I watched a few 90’s rom-coms on Amazon Prime (they have When Harry Met Sally!!! I had been looking for that on Netflix forever) and then passed out about 150 pieces of candy (give or take a few that I ate along the way – those Kit-Kats called to me!). I enjoy passing out candy to all the neighborhood kids (my favorite this year was probably the little boy who was PSYCHED that I had candy corn. PUMPED. BEST. CANDY. EVER. in his humble opinion) and love to see all the costumes and parents out and about. I am not, however, a big Halloween fan. Everyone has their holidays – mine is definitely not Halloween.

When I was younger, trick-or-treating was not a thing for my family. Our neighborhood was populated mostly by aging residents, whose kids had moved on or out. We also lived on a fairly busy through street, meaning what few trick-or-treaters we did have did not stop by our house. Thus, my family didn’t trick-or-treat or pass out candy. When we were little, our parents dressed up my brother and me and we’d head to the local mall to trick-or-treat there (although that pretty quickly devolves into one long line as kids shuffle from store to store). Once we got to middle school though, that stopped. So I sort of blame the circumstances for my lack of enthusiasm on trick-or-treating and dressing up.

Halloween’s just not my thing. Now that we have a house, I look forward to it only so that I can pass out candy to adorable little kids (and some not-so-adorable middle schoolers just trolling for candy).  I enjoy watching for the trick-or-treaters and dropping candy into their buckets. I like watching the little ones zoom around and the older ones dutifully saying thank you each time. I like seeing the princesses and the super heroes and the I-have-no-idea-what-you-are’s (or that one poor pre-teen girl in heels who was probably so excited she got to wear heels as part of her costume and then secretly died in agony while traipsing through the neighborhood all evening).

We did see some great family costumes this year. Mom, Dad, and baby all dressed up in matching or coordinated costumes. I tried to picture Luffy and I dressed up to match a toddler and couldn’t see it happening (Luffy is even more apathetic towards the holiday than I am – he opted to play video games while I passed out candy).

Anyway – not really a point to this – other than to explain why there are no pics of me dressed up in my costume du jour. Or, costume du an might be more appropriate. I hope you had a fantastic Halloween and I also hope the scale at my doctor’s office has some sort of Halloween-candy-allowance adjustment tomorrow for my three-month follow up appointment.

Fair Food

So, remember a few months ago when I mentioned that my brother moved to the DFW area? I love having a family member so close now, but I also sort of forget he lives nearby. He, and his girlfriend, usually join us for Sunday lunches at Luffy’s parents’ house every two weeks, which is fun, but I forget that we can do other stuff together. So it was actually Luffy that suggested the four of us go to the State Fair together. Way to go, Belle at remembering that you have a little brother!

We decided upon this past Sunday. It was a beautiful day and the temperatures here in Dallas were down around 80, which is a miracle considering August and most of September was approximately 5,000 degrees (if I remember correctly, you know). I drove us all down and congratulated myself on avoiding traffic and then broke down because I had to park. I chose a paved lot (the guy waving the flag was very insistent that THIS was the lot we were looking for), paid my 20 bucks, and was then led off of the very nice paved lot, down an alleyway, to the back of a building, and a dirt lot. Boo. Plus, as we got there about an hour after the fair opened for the day, the lot wasn’t full and they were still creating rows and I was the lucky driver who got to create the next row and I spent damn near 5 minutes trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. (For the record, the guy wanted me to turn the car around and reverse into the spot so that I was back-bumper-to-back-bumper with the row behind me.) Anyway! It was fun. And also kind of shady. But that’s the all part of the State Fair experience!!

Now I don’t know about you guys, but once I outgrew the ride-riding phase of fair wonderment, I moved on to food. Going to the fair is all about the food now. Luffy and I scope out the best foods before we go and plan out which ones we want to try. This year, we were all about something called Cowboy Corn Crunch, which is what we sought out immediately upon arrival. It was delicious – little fried balls of cheese and corn and bacon and peppers. NOM. We also shared a turkey leg with my brother, downed fried queso balls before we even got away from the counter, and Luffy had to have a corn dog. My favorite dish, however, was the funnel cake fries. Yes! Funnel cake, in fry form. The vendor we got it from had the best batter too, with a bit of cinnamon, I think. Oh, it was so delicious.

Beyond the food, we walked the entire fair grounds. Saw lots of cars (the Texas State Fair is essentially one big car show) and enjoyed the antics of the game hawkers. We walked through the butterfly house and saw some snakes. Then we blew the last of our coupons on cotton candy (Luffy and I came away with two bags between us, my brother left with six!).

We left weary and on a slight sugar crash, but we had a lot of fun.

It’s only the second time I’ve been to the State Fair. To be honest, I really don’t enjoy going all that much. I mean, it’s fun. I like eating the food and walking around, but it can be such a beating getting down there. Traffic is always horrible, parking is dicey, and admission prices are steep. I guess I’m sort of lazy about experiences like that – I’d rather stay home and not deal with it all rather than go. Which is why I’m excited that my brother is here because he is not like me in that regard. I am positive we stayed much longer, and covered much more ground, because he was there (as opposed to just Luffy and me who probably would have eaten our way through the fair in two hours tops and then hightailed it out of there — assuming we even went in the first place). So thanks, little brother, for forcing me out of the house to create some precious memories. Next time, maybe I could just fry up some cheese in my kitchen though?? Thoughts?? I could even charge you for parking if that helps make it more realistic…