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Sunday, December 30, 2012

I'm 31!

It's my birthday!  Whoop!  I had a really great day!  I slept in, had a fancy lunch at Brio with my Mom, brother, and Aaron.  Came home and lounged around all day, and closed off the night with a bunch of tweeting with the Sisterwives finale!
There was a time when I thought being born on the 30th was the worst birthday ever, because everyone either rolls you into Christmas or wants to just wait a day until it is New Years Eve, and then it isn't even anything special.  But now that I am old and like going to bed early, it ain't no thang!  lol.
I used to be sad about getting old too, but I try to keep things in perspective.  We are all aging at the exact same rate, so having a birthday is nothing to get all bent out of shape about.
So what if I am not a millionaire by now like my 20 year old self thought would happen:



And sure I may feel old some days but:




And I have to be thankful that I get to be 31, not everyone does



But back to my point, what is especially great about having a birthday, is getting all the birthday freebies!!

from Sephora!

If you can withstand quite a bit of junk emails, you will be handsomely rewarded come birthday time.  Here are all the birthday freebies I received this birthday season:

Genghis Grill - Free Birthday Bowl, holler!!!  I love Genghis Grill so much!

Dairy Queen - BOGO Blizzard

Sephora - Mini Lip Duo

Einstein Bros Bagels - Free Breakfast Bagel

Red Lobster - $5 off 2 Adult Entrees

Chili's - Free Brownie Sundae

Kolache Factory - Free Egg Kolache with purchase

Luby's - Free Dessert (don't make fun, Luby's is delicious.)

World Market - 10% off

BJ's Brewery - Free Pizookie, heck yes!!!

I am going to go out to eat for 20 meals in a row, yeah!!!  lol

A more thorough list can be found here.  Go and hook yourself up!

I just need to make sure to cash in on all my free desserts before the first, because we are going on diets at the Hinkley household!

And thank you to all the well wishers on facebook, twitter, texts and calls and hugs I got, I felt very loved today :)  





Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Recap/photo dump!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas!  Mine was fabulous and filled with family, joy, and too much food.  And waaaay too many gifts, I am a spoiled brat, you guys.

Christmas Eve was spent baking up a storm while Aaron was at work.  I made chocolate dipped oreos, shortbread, and jewel cookies.  My treats turned out delicious!
We ain't dieting 'til January 1st!

It was so great that Christmas fell on my brother's days off, so when he got home at 6am from the 911 dispatching he does, we opened presents.  And lemme tell ya, I cleaned up!

Squishy kitchen mat!  Will be helpful for when I make my pretty food

New books!  I got two cookbooks on Japanese cuisine which I am obsessed with trying to recreate since my trip to Tokyo.  Anthropology of an American Girl which I have wanted to read for a while now, just never found time to buy it, let alone read it.  And Christmas Trees for Pleasure and Profit for Aaron and I's dream of being Christmas Tree farmers, lol.  

I got my mom's gently used bread machine!  (I told her to get me one second-hand because it is very likely that I will make 2 loaves of bread and be done with it) Bridesmaids on DVD and Wheel of Fortune for the Wii!  I love that game, and I am pretty convinced that I would take Pat Sajak for hundreds of thousands of dollars if I were ever on the show.  I am that good.  lol

TWO Marc Jacobs phone cases!  I love them both, so I will swap them out for even wear and tear :D

and a Marc Jacobs tote bag!  <3  Aaron knows me well :)

And a Costco membership!  Even though we are only two people, we are gonna shop in bulk and it is going to be awesome.  We went today, and the churros alone are worth the cost of membership! (thank you Angela for recommending those, wow!)

Bagel Bites forever!!!

I also got some clothes, Sarah Jessica Parker perfume, some CD's and giftcards and cash.  Spoiled brat. And my absolute favorite gift was from Jeff, he made this totally awesome snapfish book of pictures from our Japan trip, and it was just so cool and I love it so much!  He won Christmas this year.

Aaron successfully pulled off his first prank ever!  Every year since Aaron has spent Christmas with us,  he always puts an orange in everyone's stocking.  And every year Jeff joking complains about getting fruit in his stocking.  So this year Aaron filled all of Jeff's stocking with oranges, and when he saw it we all had a giant laugh.  Looking forward to Jeff's revenge next year, lol.

My Mom is eager to finish the 50 Shades of Grey series.  Gross.  lol

My Mom won Christmas according to Aaron by giving him the vacuum cleaner of his dreams.  I refused to let him buy it because our vacuum works perfectly fine and we only like in 900 square feet of carpet, so we don't need a new vacuum at all.  
I married a weird guy, I know.



After we ate breakfast and such we loaded up to go to Austin to celebrate with my mom's family in Austin.  

Granny and Aunt Gloria are working on the feast, stylishly festive of course!

Opening gifts

Yeah!

Heather and Randall

Mom

We brought back kimonos from Japan for the ladies :)

And Sake for Uncle Howard

My Granny is the biggest Spurs fan on the planet, which is sort of hilarious

Travis, contemplating becoming a flight attendant? 
(that was the ongoing joke from the day, you had to be there...)

And there you have it, Christmas 2012!  I hope everyone had as great a day as we did! :)

What did Santa bring you??


Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Most Hated Christmas Songs, and tamales

It was a full day of activities yesterday!  I went out to my mom's house because my brother and I decided we were going to be real Mexicans this year and make tamales.  It was a very labor intensive process, and they came out mostly weird and misshaped with a less than ideal masa to meat ratio.  It was what was to be expected from total amateurs.  Here are some pics from the day:
Please enjoy the irony of Jeff's drink: Mexican Coke

Champion of the blender.  Looking hot with wet hair and no makeup. :\

Business time.

Mom helped too

and Santa-Gwen helped keep the floor clean

So the entire time we had the Christmas radio station going, and you can bet I was singing along with every single song (mostly to annoy Jeff, lol) and being the music connoisseur that I am (ha!) I pinpointed the three Christmas songs so offensive to my ears that I want to rip my eardrums out of my head.  And I wish to share those with you now.  :)

3. Christmas Shoes by Newsong


So unbelievably cheesy, unrealistic and it manipulates your emotions.  The song came from a forwarded email story (the kinds that moms are always sending around) and now it is a song, and I think a lifetime movie.  It just ruins Christmas for me.  Patton Oswalt (standup comedian) does a bit on this song, and it is the best!  btw, nsfw.  I love to speak in initials!  


2. Do They Know it's Christmas? by Band Aid


Some thoughts from Morrissey:

In a 1985 Time Out interview, Morrissey gave his views about the song:
'I'm not afraid to say that I think Band Aid was diabolical. Or to say that I think Bob Geldof is a nauseating character. Many people find that very unsettling, but I'll say it as loud as anyone wants me to. In the first instance the record itself was absolutely tuneless. One can have great concern for the people of Ethiopia, but it's another thing to inflict daily torture on the people of Great Britain. It was an awful record considering the mass of talent involved. And it wasn't done shyly it was the most self-righteous platform ever in the history of popular music.' - wikipedia.
To paraphrase, starving children in Africa is no excuse to make awful music.
Phil Collins and Sting really lost some of my respect by putting out something so offensive to the ears with their names on it.  They should be ashamed!

1. I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas - Gayla Peevey


UGH that voice!  The second I hear this song, the station gets changed.  I just cannot stand it.  And I don't know what it is, but little children trying to blatantly to be 'cutesy' is nauseating.  I wish you could ban songs like they ban books, I would gladly spearhead an effort to remove this song from the planet.  

but anyway, 

It soon become 7pm at night and I had a gathering to attend at Chris and Judy's, so I bid the family fare-well.  Here are some pics of the finally finished tamales!
All that work for only 14 tamales.  Only kidding, there were a bunch more.

tasty!

Are there any cooking traditions in your house?  Or Christmas songs you hate that you'd care to share? :)



Farewell U of H

The world did not end after all, surprise surprise.  And I got the best news ever the Thursday before, I passed my advanced accounting class!!!  So I am officially done with school for now (who knows, an MBA might be in my future or something) and I am moving onward to the CPA exam in 2013!

I wanted to take the time to bid adieu to my not so beloved University of Houston.  You will not be missed that much by me.

My life expectancy and likelihood of being robbed has decreased substantially.  It is going to be a delight to not receive a weekly email from the U of H dept of public safety about the latest armed robbery or car break in going on at my school.


U of H, I know you want to rapidly expand to house your ever growing population of commuter students, but ripping up 50% of the parking lots to build 8 new parking garages to be available in 2015 is really poor planning.  There have been times when I attended or visited other universities and thought the parking was bad.  You, U of H, are by far the worst.  I only took night classes and STILL at that hour I would have to circle the lot for 30 minutes in hopes of spotting someone leaving so that I could follow them to their spot.  My advice to future and current students, get a moped or a motorcycle if you want to have a prayer of a parking spot.  Or a bus pass.  

Parking and life endangerment aside, I have learned a boatload at U of H and my professors have mostly been really good.  The school has a really great program in the business school to get you all professionally developed, and there are 1000 opportunities every other week to network with the giant companies in town, along with career fairs and mixers.  It really is a pretty decent school, all things considered.  Not to mention, all the really great people I have met in classes and on projects and stuff.  So thanks for all that U of H.  

I am glad to be done with this chapter in my career life and be able to spend my nights and weekends as I please.  Now on to the daunting task of the CPA exam!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

5 reasons I hope the world doesn't end on Friday

I am back in full effect!  My office internet was broken this morning, and yesterday I was cramming for a final I had that night (it went horrible, thanks for asking:\).  I so I wasn't officially participating the the day of silence that a lot of blogs I read did, it just happened to work out timing wise with me having more pressing matters at hand.

So after my test, I was pretty happy with the idea of the world ending on Friday.  Then I thought about it some more and I thought of a bunch of reasons why I hope it doesn't.  (For the record, I am very certain the world wont end on Friday)

Either way, I give you:

5 reasons I hope the world doesn't end on Friday

5. Inconsistent Church Attendance

Ever since Aaron got his new Target job, he has been on the closing shift Saturday night.  So when he is getting home at 1 in the AM, waking up early for church isn't really happening so much.  Then I have been having tutoring for my horrible class most Sunday afternoons, or it has been raining.  We are fully of excuses, I know this.  But yeah, if Friday is it, I think I could be in better graces with the Man Upstairs than what currently stands. 
 
4. I am about to have 1000 days off.
 
This may seem like not a big deal to teachers, or the stay at home moms out there, but I have 11 days in a row where I don't have anywhere to be!  I love vacations like you wouldn't believe, but I am the type that will work half a day when my plane leaves at 2pm so that I can use that half day on my next trip.  I don't really call in sick ever, because the sad thing about being a one man accounting department is that when I don't show up, I just get to double time it the next day.  All the work I ever have to do gets done by me, so there is no 'real' vacation happening.  But yeah, we are super slow during this time of year, so rather than waste money keeping the lights on so we all can surf the web all day, they are just shutting down the whole week!  New Years day falls on Tuesday as well, so they went ahead and threw in that Monday too.  Aaron and all my family will be working, so I will just get to be a stay at home wife for a week and a half (minus Christmas Day when we go to Austin).  Oh, the closet organizing plans I have in store...!
 
3.  It is about to be Christmas!!
 
I am pumped to go to Austin and see family!  And I am pumped (albeit selfishly) about where I know Aaron shopped for one of my Christmas gifts:

I am getting something fancy!!
 
2. Tamale weekend!!!
 
I am really excited about this weekend, my brother and I are making tamales for the very first time!  We have loved eating them for decades, but now we have decided to take it to the next level and embrace our culture.  No longer will we be the whitest Hispanic kids in town, this is official street cred.  And I will probably start talking with an accent after, so just be prepared. 
 
We sure do love some Mexican food though
 
1.  Honey Boo Boo Holiday Special
 
This would not be a blog post from yours truly without reality TV being mentioned, right?
 
 
Alana and Co. will be gracing our TV screens again on January 6th, so I really don't want the world to end yet.  I know this show has many naysayers, but it is so so hilarious!  And I am not even laughing at them, they are in on the joke and embrace it.  They are who they are, and make no apologies! 
Barbara, Tim and I get it.
 
 
So here is hoping Saturday happens! (and all the days after as well!) :)
 
Are you anxiously awaiting 12/21/12?
 





 
 
 



Saturday, December 15, 2012

New Years Resolution: Food Edition

I am a plan ahead kind of gal.  It is borderline crazy how I sort of have the next 10 years outlined for where I want to be with my career and family planning and our finances and stuff.  It is out of control, I know this.  So it should not be surprising that I have been thinking about New Years resolutions that I want to tackle in 2013 for about a month now.

Since I will be finished with classes in 3 short days (YAY!) I am super excited about being able to come home after my work day and cook a healthy and delicious dinner for Aaron and I.  Ever since day 1 of our marriage school has kept me from being home by dinner time most nights of the week.  Then I am exhausted from a busy week and when I am home we go out to eat or pick something up.  Lazy town, and it gets expensive too.  And it bums me out that instead of having our dining out experiences at somewhere cool and hip, we just go eat at Pei Wei or Chipotle constantly.  (Don't get me wrong, those places are delicious).  But dangit, we are in the middle of a giant city and in close proximity to really awesome places, and we are eating at Pei Wei?!

This is just wrong, and it needs to stop.  So I want to make a resolution to a. eat out less, and b. spend our dining out dollars at places that are cool/local/new to us.

This brings me to my next food related resolution, is that I want to learn how to make pretty food.  Like something a pretentious foodie hipster would love(Aaron.)((love you, dear)).  No joke guys, we have subscriptions to Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Martha Stewart Living, VegNews, and probably some others that have seriously beautiful looking food.  Everything I make tastes like blah, and ends up like this:

                                                                             Source: thechive.com via Natalie on Pinterest

I want to remedy this and since I will have the time, I want to make things that look more like these:



Not to mention we have like 1000 cookbooks that I rarely use!
We have 63 of those bad boys.

So while I am not having a Julie and Julia kind of year planned, I do want to make a much better effort in the kitchen.  

Has anyone else thought about resolutions for 2013 yet?  Or banking on the fact that the world is ending on 12/21 and not worrying about it? lol  


Friday, December 14, 2012

Today was heavy.

It is hard to find just the right words on this solemn day.  My heart just hurts, and I can't shake it.

Days like today make it undoubtedly clear to me that we live in a fallen world.  I generally like to keep things light over here, but I think writing my thoughts will help me feel a little bit lighter.

I feel so sad for those who lost their lives today.  The little kids who barely got an opportunity to experience life, the brave teachers, and even the shooter.  I know there was certainly something evil within him, but I am certain that this couldn't be carried out by anyone who wasn't deeply troubled and mentally ill.  Something or a lot of somethings molded his rational to make this action the solution to something.

My heart breaks for those who knew and loved the ones who are no longer here.  I think of present under the tree meant for them, little ones who aren't getting tucked into bed tonight.  Those parents are falling apart right now, I am sure.  Plus how many children and teachers are going to be a little afraid every time they go to school for the rest of their lives.  It just isn't fair.  My beliefs are that Jesus has saved us from death, so dying, while so scary, I faithfully believe will be the best thing that can happen to us.  It is unfortunate that they left the earth before they were little old people, but this world is horrible.  Even with everything beautiful and wonderful in it, it doesn't hold a candle to what is in store for us.

Is this a gun control issue?  Yes and no.  The statement 'the time to talk about gun control was yesterday' resonates with me, but that is just because I hate guns.  I think they are dangerous, unnecessary, and designed to inflict harm.  My husband and my brother and everyone in Texas it seems love guns, and enjoy shooting them and being perfectly responsible gun owners exercising their 2nd amendment rights.  I think gun control is only useful in keeping guns away from thugs knocking off the 7-11.  Which absolutely has value, don't get me wrong.  These cases overwhelmingly involve people who have every legal right to purchase a gun, and a perfectly clean record.  You'd have to make guns illegal, or somehow give a psych evaluation to everyone trying to purchase a gun.  It is just impractical and will never be perfect.  These tragic occurrences will continue to happen, unfortunately.  I think the problem is just this day and age.

I think the best and only way to 'prevent' (as best we can) things like this from occurring is to slow down.  Make meaningful connections with people.  Care about those around us.  Most people who carry out these violent attacks are troubled and isolated.  This kid was somebody's son, and brother, and even friend or at least colleague?  Was anyone is his life reaching out to him, and being a friend or a mentor?  Or were they too involved in their work, or blogs, or facebook to bother?  We (as Christians) are called to be the light of the world, and I think that translates into shining that light into others.  Light their darkened path.  Be there.  Then maybe those troubled will have a reason to want to live and see the value of life in general.

In closing I hope all those affected can find peace and forgiveness.



Yeah, today was heavy.





Dear Advanced Accounting,

I hate you.
P( $&*# %Y_$*W#(YPHIUWEPHHFIUBSDLIUGFP( &* _($^#_%(WQ*#Yihateyou.

 
 
I don't just hate school for not good reason.  I can appreciate a good challenge, and I totally like accounting a whole lot, but this class is ridiculous.
 
I 99% place blame on our teacher.
 
This fool is crazy disorganized.  If you ever go to his office hours you will learn that his office is like an episode of hoarders.  Not at all surprising that he runs his courses with equal disarray. 
 
On day one, we got a syllabus spelling out the course and the schedule and how we will be graded.  Awesome.  Except we didn't really stick to that schedule whatsoever.  We reschedule tests the week before, the 4 homework assignments that were to be due all through the semester were just given to us and due on the day of the final(like we don't need to be spending this time studying...), and we ran out of time, so the last two chapters we have to learn on our own. 
 
You come to class about 20 minutes late every single week.  You question our work ethic, because everyone is doing poorly.  I took an unofficial survey of people who sit around me, and my D level grade was the highest.  Which, for that, I can only thank the TA who tutors me and a few other classmates since the beginning of the semester.  Never in my life have I had to pay for tutoring?!  And then to still be doing so awful?!  It is infuriating.
 
To be honest, I like getting good grades and all, but they are a low low priority to me compared to my grasp of the subject matter.  I am going to start sitting for the CPA exam next month, and I am not going to pay $1500 bucks for one of those BS review courses when I should have learned all the stuff I need from the $25,000 worth of education I have bought over the past two years.  And in this class, I feel as lost as I did on day 1.  Can I request a refund?
 
And to add insult to injury, EVERY professor I have had in the program has been some adjunct person who doesn't even really work there, and THIS guy is a real professor at U of H.  wth.  He is the absolute worst.  The WORST!!!
 
So while I should be looking forward to a fun filled Christmas-ish weekend, I must give more time and money to tutoring.  I have to meet the tutor tonight, and Sunday afternoon so I have a prayer of doing okay on our final exam on Tuesday.  And why on earth is this final happening so late?  It is for real a week from Christmas.  Nuts.
 
And don't even get me started about how stupid work is being lately.  They love starting new projects when we are busy as fug with closing out the year and stuff. :\ 
 
Ugh I want it to be Wednesday already.   
 
</rant>
 
sorry for all the complaining, I hope to be happy again soon, lol.
 
 
     

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Letter from My Prison Boyfriend

I had to share this story because it is just too funny...and a possible love connection is at stake. 

So maybe 3-4 months ago I was sifting through the office mail.  I sort through it because it is usually a bunch of checks from people paying their invoices, and that is my department.  Well in there on that day was a letter addressed to Manuela Martinez.  There is no one at my office with this name, but the address was for our office, so it didn't just get delivered to the wrong place.  It sat on my desk for a couple days, because I knew mail fraud is for sure a federal offense.  But it was kind of my name... (I am still legally Natalie Martinez, I haven't made time to change it ever...)

Plus the letter came from prison, so I figured someone was requesting me to bake a cake with a file in it to help them escape.  Based upon their crimes, I'd consider it.  (no I wouldn't.)
I googled it, and this is totally from prison.

I'm sure he meant Natalie...  





Obviously I opened it. 

And drats, it was all in Spanish.

No hablo Espanol :\

Enter Tony, our IT guy and also resident Spanish language interpreter of the office.
Turns out, this is a love letter!

I took the letter home to show Aaron, and inform him that I have a new prison boyfriend.
And also that he can start calling me Manuela from here on out.

So we had a good laugh about it, and occasionally I'll wonder about my prison boyfriend if prison happens to come up in conversation.

So today while I was blogging working diligently, I got an email...

Well what to my wondering eyes should appear?

GASP!
Manuela Martinez, right there in my inbox?!!
(she was emailing me regarding an accounting issue her company was having)


So now I have an ethical dilemma...was this letter intended for her??

If so, how on earth did it end up at my workplace?!

Tough questions, guys.

Either way, Cesar and I are no more, thanks for asking.





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