Thursday, January 31, 2013

Snitches get Stitches

And apparently so do people who misuse immersion blenders.


Last night, I decided to try my hand at this ridiculously yummy pie my sister made at Christmas. It has four ingredients:
  • low fat (or fat free!) Cool Whip (one container)
  • low fat cream cheese (one block)
  • Butterfinger bars, crushed (I used 3)
  • a pre-made graham cracker crust
(For the record, you mix the first three ingredients, spread the filling in the crust, and then refrigerate for an hour or two before serving. So easy and good!)

So I was using the lovely immersion blender above to mix the Cool Whip and cream cheese. The mixture was stuck in the blade area, so I turned the thing off (just unpressing the button on the side) and stuck my finger in to get out all the yumminess. Apparently, my finger reactivated the blade, because a gory scene ensued. 

I will spare you pictures of my blood-spattered kitchen and sutured finger, but here's what I'm working with now:


Only two stitches, but those suckers hurt. Thankfully, the doc gave me painkillers. Be careful with blenders, people!!

In other news, today is the LAST DAY to enter my HTC OneX giveaway! Make sure you enter, cause this phone is awesome. The camera is so good that you can see my actual fingerprints in the picture I took of my stitches. ;) It's really easy to use, too, and so light and thin! Win the phone for yourself or as an awesome gift for someone you love. Enter here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday: Random Thoughts & Pins

It's far too early to construct a well-arced, researched blog post. Instead, I give you five random pins:

1. I got a kindle for Christmas (late to the party, I know), and I can't stop reading. I used to keep Matt up by having the lamp on half the night thanks to my insomnia, but the backlit kindle paperwhite solves that problem! I can read my sleeplessness away while my boyfriend sleeps peacefully. Win-win. In any case, I'm reading this:


and it's just as riveting as Gone Girl. It seems Flynn specializes in disturbed narrators. I'm halfway through and can't what to find out what kind of nonsense happens at the end of this book.

2. My friend Doro came over last night for dinner and wine and to meet Neil Young (he was a hit). I made this recipe I found on Pinterest and it was really good! 


Of course I made a few changes: I used soy "beef" crumbles (the ones from Trader Joe's are actually my fave), left out the rotel but included a jalapeno, and used more taco seasoning than suggested. We ate it with shredded cheddar, avocado, and corn chips and it was delish!

I also made Doro watch an episode of Honey Boo Boo. Hopefully we're still friends. 

3. You probably already know this but there are only two more days to enter this sweet giveaway on my blog: HTC is sending one Bicoastally reader a brand new HTC OneX. It's incredibly thin and light, has a nice big screen, and sports the best camera I've ever seen on a phone. And it's a $500 phone! Enter here to win! Rafflecopter will pic a winner on Friday.


4. Y'all left the best comments on yesterday's post. I keep going back and reading them again. Seems like there's a lot to talk about--let's keep the conversation going! 

5. I really want this shirt. How sweet is this? When you live across the country from where you were born & raised, you need a lot of reminders of home. At least I do. 

Source: thehomet.com via Claire on Pinterest

Thanks to everyone who has entered, tweeted, posted on facebook, etc. the giveaway. I hope someone awesome wins!

Linking up with

                                          
                    Shanna                                         and                                            Michelle

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Real Talk: Relationships


Before we get into this: GO ENTER MY GIVEAWAY! You could win an HTC OneX Android phone!

It's funny what we see (and don't see) in the blog world.

Sometimes, I feel like bloggers only reveal the most ideal, picturesque glimpses of their relationships. Do you know what I mean? Like we hear how each other's boyfriends and husbands make us weak in the knees, and how they're our best friends, and all the good stuff. And yet, I can't help but notice that there's a gaping hole in the blogosphere when it comes to the trials and difficulties of everyday relationships (& cohabitation).


I really, really love Matt. He's the one I wanna spend forever with. At 31, I have been in plenty of relationships, and I have a decent perspective on what's healthy and what's not. I learned the hard way what I couldn't put up with and what wasn't right for me, and I'm so grateful for those relationships that didn't work out. They taught me so much.

I'll admit it: I'm happy and I'm grateful that Matt is my partner. But sometimes, it sure ain't easy! We disagree, we have different core qualities, and we fight with each other over, sometimes, the most inane stuff. And there are nights when I call my girlfriends crying because I just can't understand his perspective on something, or I don't know how to reconcile an argument we've embarked upon.

Here are some examples:
  • I'm a total control freak. I like the dishes put away a certain way and I get annoyed if Matt puts them any place else. He doesn't understand this.
  • Matt has two kids, and because he thought he was done, he had a vasectomy. I want kids. Matt's open to more kids. Vasectomies are reversible, but we can't afford for his to be reversed. So there's that, and that's big. 
  • I'm more social than Matt is. I'm trying to be good at compromising, but sometimes I struggle with that. While I would often choose to be out in a busy, public place among friends, Matt would more likely choose to be home. Over time, this can be a tough difference. We've both adapted, though, and we're getting better at this balance. 
  • We struggle with money more than either of us would like. Matt has to pay a ridiculous amount of his paycheck to his daughter's mother for child support and child care, leaving him with very little to work with. Thankfully, we both have parents who help out (my dad shares his frequent flier miles, my mom's super supportive, both his parents help us with travel when they can, etc.), but it's still difficult. I can't help but fantasize about what it must like to be a DINK
  • We're both hypersensitive. We get offended too easily and start arguments with each other that are senseless. Sometimes, they escalate. 
  • It's rare, but occasionally I sleep on the couch. I get pissed, and Matt wants to talk the issue to death, and I get impatient and flee to the couch (even though it makes Matt really sad when I don't sleep in the bed). And then we have to deal with it in the morning.
  • Speaking of talking, Matt likes to do it. When we're dealing with even the most minor issue, Matt prefers to talk it out for as long as it takes to resolve things. And I get short-tempered and impatient and annoyed and can't seem to muster the patience or tolerance it requires to hear him out. 
  • We don't like the same music.
  • And he hates football.
I think what I've learned is this: if you're in love, then you're lucky (I'm lucky). But being in a relationship is a choice--and it's a choice you make each day. I choose Matt. And yet, there will be times when we want to throttle each other. And that's okay! Maybe we're not all ready to talk about it, but I'm talking about it. Sometimes, I want to throttle Matt. And sometimes he wants to throttle me. ;)

But ultimately, he's the one I want to sleep next to every night. And he's the one I want to face struggles with, go to family events with, and laugh with on the couch while watching Catfish.

So tell me (if you're brave enough): what do you and your partner struggle with?

Monday, January 28, 2013

HTC OneX Smartphone Giveaway!

Last month, the very generous people over at HTC OneX sent me one of their new phones to test out. I have to admit, I was pretty anxious about switching from my iPhone (which I've used for years). I decided to give it a try, though, and I'm so impressed with this phone & all its capabilities.

The HTC OneX has a bigger screen than the iPhone and is considerably thinner, for those of you who like skinny phones. It has many assets, the best of which is its superior quality camera. When I was in Texas/Oklahoma last weekend for Jessie's wedding, all my friends wanted to use my camera for pictures since it was clearly the best!


The phone is really intuitive, too. For example, when I'd type a name into my iPhone and make a mistake (If I meant to call Micaela but typed in M-i-v by accident), it wouldn't recognize the name. But the HTC OneX brings up similar names, even if you're a letter off.

My second favorite function (next to the camera) is the Maps feature. There's an option to "Update Route" from wherever you are, which I find incredibly helpful when trying to navigate!

I was able to easily download all the applications I'm attached to (Instagram, etc.), and it comes already loaded with Facebook and Twitter.


Last thing I should mention: the HTC OneX is synced up with BeatsAudio by Dr. Dre, so if you have BeatsAudio headphones, the sound quality will be a-m-a-z-i-n-g (so I hear. I can't afford those headphones just yet!). 

So check it out: the folks at HTC OneX are giving me another AT&T enabled phone to give away to one reader of Bicoastally! Be excited: whoever wins is going to love it. This phone retails for $499.99! Enter below:

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, HTC.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Influenster Holiday Vox Box Review

I was pretty psyched to get the Influenster Holiday Vox Box. It contained such an array of products: from beauty to food to fashion. That's one of the perks of blogging, right--getting to try new products for review? I love it.

Here's what came in the Holiday Vox Box and what I thought about each item:

*NYC New York Liquid Color Lipshine

Source: s.shld.net via Dani on Pinterest


Rating: 8/10
For a lip gloss, I love it. It's glossy and just the right amount of sticky, it smells good (weird, but important), and the color is a delicious nude. It doesn't have a lot of staying power--that's the only downside. But isn't that true of any lipgloss?

*Kiss Nail Dress:


Rating: 8/10
To be perfectly honest, I haven't used these yet. BUT--I've used Kiss Nail Dress before, and they're good. Like all the nail strips I've tried, they stay on a long time and they look great. These are unique in that they're bumpy so you can't help but touch them . . . all the time. Which can get annoying. But they look great! I think I'm gonna sport them for the Superbowl. Over maroon. Go Niners!

*Goody Quikstyle Brush

Source: goody.com via Heather on Pinterest

Rating: 7/10
This was one of my favorite things in the box. I'd been wanting to try it anyway, so it was especially exciting to find in the VoxBox. Does it work? Wellllllll . . . kinda. I think so. At least for the first few uses. The first time I used it to brush my hair while I was blow drying it, I thought it was great. The more I use it, however, the more the "towel" pieces between the bristles get pressed down close to the brush back and lose their efficacy. Still, I think it's a good brush, and I certainly don't think it adds to the time it takes to get your hair dry. I think I'd buy it again.

*Quaker Real Medley Oatmeal +


Rating: 9/10
This was super easy to make, healthy, and totally delicious. Affordable, too! If there weren't more ingredients than I could memorize after a glance, it would get a 10 out of 10. Nevertheless, I will certainly buy these again. So good, and no need to add anything!

*Montagne Jeunesse Face Masque


Rating: 9/10
Loved it! I don't do face masks nearly enough. This one was easy, affordable, and made my face feel super soft. I'll definitely be buying this one again. My skin felt extremely tight as it was drying, but it was worth it when I washed the masque off . . . so smooth and soft. And I've seen this brand available in lots of stores!

*Sole Society Coupon

I didn't try this. I'm trying hard not to spend a lot these days, and even though the coupon was a deal, I still didn't feel compelled to buy a pair of shoes I haven't seen in person. If you've bought a pair from Sole Society, though, I'd love to hear about it!

*EBOOST


I also haven't tried this. While I'm a little wary of energy drinks or powders, I'm willing to give this one a shot on a particularly draggy day. I drink a lot of coffee in the morning--and I love it--but sometimes I drag in the afternoon. Usually I solve that by getting another coffee, but I'm looking forward to trying the natural energy EBOOST as an alternative.

Let me know if you've tried any of these products. And thanks to Influenster for sending all of this my way!

Come back Monday for a legendary giveaway: one of you will win an HTC OneX Smartphone!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

OMG LOL

So yesterday my friend Lindsey sent me this:


And I about died laughing.

A month ago, if someone had sent this to me, I would have been all "Hell yeah you better shut up when Neil Young comes on!" But now that we have a rambunctious kitten named Neil Young, it's all the more awesome.


For the record, when "Neil Young is playing" it's a bit out of control. We suspect he may actually be a cat-dog hybrid. He's totally obsessed with food of any kind (no matter how many times we spray him with water), he licks our faces, fetches a tiny soccer ball, follows us around, plays with anyone who comes in the door, and waits outside the bathroom when one of us is showering.

But back to the playing--he's CRAZY. Yesterday I was working from home, and he was all up in my keyboard: walking across the computer, biting my laptop screen, swatting his hand around the back of the computer. Plus, the bites and the scratches! I think we need a kitten tranquilizer. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Elements of a Country Wedding

This past weekend, I flew down to Texas (& drove up to Oklahoma) for my dear friend Jessie's wedding. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to swing it so shortly after we were in Georgia for Christmas, but thanks to my generous dad (who gave me skymiles & hotel points), I made it! And I'm so grateful. ♥

Jessie is one of the most down-to-earth, straight-talkin', hilarious, sincere people I know. And she's a total bad ass, too.

The best part of all this is that I met Jessie through Micaela and Marianne, my beautiful Texas-dwelling twin friends, so we all got to have a reunion! This time, our get-together was even more special, because I got to meet Micaela's gorgeous 4 month old baby, Felix.

adorable, right?? and leaning against my chest--so sweet! 

I flew into Dallas, rented a car, and drove to Wichita Falls, where Marianne and Micaela live. It had been almost nine months since we'd seen each other last, and it was so good to hang out with them again!

at dinner in Wichita Falls the first night

As much as I wanted to stay out all night with these girls, I was running on about 2 hours of sleep (in the past 36 hours!), so I had to get back to my hotel to catch up. The next day, the girls and I drove up to Waurika, Oklahoma to help the bride get ready for the wedding!

the view from Jessie's front porch in Oklahoma

This trip really made me think about city living vs. country living. I love living in the Bay Area, I love that I can get any kind of food delivered to my apartment at almost any time, I love that I can hop on the freeway four blocks from my house and be anywhere in minutes, and I love that I can walk up the street to an array of restaurants, coffee shops, bars, etc. However, the serenity of the country is compelling. And let's just say that Jessie's mortgage is less than 1/3 of the monthly RENT for my city apartment. OMFG.

After hanging out at Jessie's for a bit, we grabbed some beers and headed to the reception site to unload some of the necessities:

country wedding must-haves

We had to wait to bring the beer in cause there was a D.O.C. inmate cleaning the floors of the reception hall. LOL. 

Next, we headed to Jessie's granny's house. It's on a lot of land (seems like all the houses are) and she has all kinds of animals, including these adorable deer! She's raised them since they were babies, so they're super friendly and tame. Look at this one nuzzling me!


And the groom--there's something pretty precious about a cowboy and a deer:


Jessie was busy with her rehearsal and entertaining out-of-town family on Friday night, so the twins and I headed back to Wichita Falls and had a girls' night with some of their friends at a place called Whiskeyta. ;) Conveniently, it was across a parking lot from my hotel! It was nice being out with the girls:

Micaela and me reunited!

all the girls 

My only complaint is that everywhere is so smoky! I'm used to California where you can't smoke anywhere. My bra REEKED by the end of the long weekend. 

The next day was wedding day! Jessie looked exquisite. Her dress fit her like a glove and her makeup was perfect. But even better than that? I love her groom. Isn't it the best feeling watching your friend marry someone wonderful? Here are some pictures from her big day:

a proper country wedding has custom camo koozies

and grooms in cowboy hats & jeans
(I'm particularly proud of this picture--isn't it such a good one??)

how cute are those cake toppers??
(Neil's from Texas and Jessie's from Oklahoma)

the four of us together--oh how I love these girls!

I'm so glad I got to be a part of Jessie's wedding day. It meant so much to see all the girls together (and celebrating such a momentous occasion!). I'm already planning my next trip to "Texoma" . . . Jessie's granny says she has baby deer in the summer, so I've got my sights set on August. ;)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sometimes life surprises you.

I met Ricardo nine years ago.

Ricardo and me on Monday night

It's funny how Facebook brings people together. There are so many people I would have lost touch with if it weren't for Facebook, and for that I'm really thankful. Ricardo is one of those people.

Ricardo and I met in the strangest of places: at the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami, Florida. I was 22 and on a fellowship teaching Poetry/Creative Writing in prisons around the country, and I was so excited about what I was doing. I've never felt like I had more purpose than I did that year teaching in prisons and jails. I had spent the first third of my fellowship year at San Quentin State Prison out here in the Bay Area, was teaching at the FCI in Miami for the second third, and later headed off to New England to spend the last third of the year teaching at various prisons and jails in Vermont.

Often, when you're a teacher, you have a student whose passion and aptitude is far above the norm. That student stands out as exceptional: an exceptional learner, an exceptional person, any kind of exceptional, really. Ricardo was all of those things. He had never written a poem in English before taking my class, and before I knew it, he was writing sonnets and sestinas and villanelles with amazing fluency and skill. It was so inspiring, and I was so lucky. When I left the federal prison in Miami, I was really sad that Ricardo wouldn't have a poetry class anymore. I knew how much it meant to him.

Given that he had four more years in prison and I'd moved across the country, we lost touch. I often wondered how he was doing, though: if he'd found a good job, how his family was, if he'd stayed out of prison. And then one day last fall, I got a Facebook friend request from him. It was so nice to hear that he and his family were doing wonderfully: he had a successful business, a great wife, and was expecting his third daughter.

This past week, Ricardo and his beautiful family were visiting California. They all came over for dinner on Monday night, and you'd never know it had been nine years since we'd seen each other. We shared food and wine, reminisced about our poetry class, and talked about our lives.

Ricardo, his wife Maryzol, me, Matt, & their middle daughter, Alex

When they left, Matt said to me: "Wow, they're an incredible family." Their love and openness is palpable, their daughters are beautiful, and I'm lucky to have them as friends.

So many things have been swirling around in my head since Monday night. Among them:

*How many people would write Ricardo off because of his time spent in federal prison?
*In this vast and changing world, how unlikely that Ricardo and I would get the chance to reconnect almost a decade later, across the country from where we first met?
*Although he and I only knew each other for four months back in 2004, isn't it amazing how much that class meant to each of us?

It's students (and people!) like Ricardo that make it all worth it.

***

My Days Have Fifteen Minutes
                Ricardo Martinez, FCI Miami, 2004

The line of men waiting for an empty phone
gets shorter with the passing of each instant:
my sunrise is near. I can already hear some daring
birds chirping and flapping their wings in the dawning sky,
as they greet friendly branches in their journeys

through different trees. The sun begins to show its glittering
crown, just when her infant voice glides through the telephone
line, penetrating my left eardrum, like nourishing
seeds entering a nightingale's beak. She calls me papi, 
and then she mumbles some words, which meaning

I can hardly decipher. I hear about the last, risky
adventures of Mulan, as the sun marches swiftly
through its usual path. We sing together "El Payaso Pimpim,"
the infant tune about the famous clown who pinched
his red, bulging nose to make children laugh; our voices

embracing each other, as they travel toward
their longed-for destination. A recorded female voice
interrupts us to remind her that the caller
belongs to a federal prison: This is no longer your dad,
she would interpret if she were a year older. 

It's noon when I ask for a kiss; my mind quickly picturing
her tiny, wrinkled lips forming a microscopic circle,
inhaling a small quantity of air, as a kissing sound
breaches my ear's spiraling grooves and takes a dwelling
in the silkiest fiber of my heart. A beeping sound

reminds me that the call will end in less than a minute,
as I gaze at the sun's face hiding behind the highest mountain,
like a murderer who can't stand the accusing glance
of the victim's relatives. I hear her tender voice
reminding me that she loves me, te quiero papi; 

her innocent mind unaware of the unwelcome nightfall 
that approaches to engulf us in its gloomy shadow.
Only when I say goodbye does she realize that my day
is ending. A weeping sound escapes her mouth, escorting
the only word I wish would not exist in dictionaries:

Nooo, she cries, as the unmerciful phone line
leaves us speaking to ourselves. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Georgia's Finest: Mama June

People who read my blog for thoughtful material & insights, avert your eyes:

Matt and I watched Here Comes Honey Boo Boo for the first time the other night.

We're kind of obsessed with Mama June. I mean . . . I'm in awe of her. And I want to meet her. I wonder how far the Boo Boos live from my mama's house in Marietta? Check out these ridic Mama June .gifs:


hmmm . . . when's that? 


this one's almost enough to make me vom.




WTF is she doing?

sexy as hell, right?

Do you watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo? Unfortunately, I don't think we're going to be able to stop. I suppose it makes sense that we found a show about the badly-behaved people of my home state to replace our former fave, a show about the badly-behaved people of Matt's home state

*all .gifs found here

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mortified

Hopefully, many of you already know about Mortified. But for those who don't:


Mortified is a hilarious show in which people read from their teenage diaries and/or share other debris from those laughable years. You'll crack up over your cocktail (they always happen at bars) while hearing all about things like someone's first French kiss, how much he hates his parents, or how totally in love she is with Luke Perry. It's amazing. Saturday was my second time going to a Mortified show (though the first one I saw was years ago), and I kept thinking: why don't I do this more often??

basking in the hilarity 

two of the Mortified crew, one of whom happens to be a friend!

You can check out the website here to find out if they'll be near you anytime soon. I can't recommend it highly enough. :)

link up here

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Catfish

When I was in Vegas back in November, Lindsey told me all about a documentary film called Catfish. She forbid me from googling it and simply insisted I watch. And so, like a dutiful friend, I did.

WOWZA.

This was just before the tv show aired, so I got the back story just in time. Have any of you seen it? If you've seen the tv show, then you know how the documentary turns out (cause it's in the credits). But if you've seen neither, watch Catfish the film immediately.


I'm guessing that many of you already watch the show. I must confess that I'm addicted. Which is kinda silly, since it pretty much turns out the same way every time. And yet still, I find myself experiencing a kind of shock-n-awe at the end of each episode. WHO ARE THESE CRAZIES??? I have some lingering questions, and would love your opinions & insight:

1. Who "dates" someone online for 2+ years without meeting him/her? Have you ever done this? Known anyone who has? Isn't it fishy when your love interest can't even so much as skype?

2. When Nev swoops in and solves the mystery, why do the perpetrators of this weird world show up and reveal themselves? That gets me every time. Somehow, they all magically agree to meet up when Nev calls, and the truth of the situation comes to light. But isn't that strange/unrealistic? One would think that they'd refuse, given that they're about to be humiliated on national tv. I need to get to the bottom of this. 

Are you as into Catfish as I am? 

Source: instagram.com via Brook on Pinterest