Listening, Reading, Watching
Nov 04, 2013

1. Listening to recently…

Ben Rector and Tyrone Wells

I’m going Stubb’s on Thursday to see Ben Rector (headliner) and Tyrone Wells (opener) in concert. It will be my 2nd time seeing them both. It’s guaranteed to be a good show, just hoping the weather outside is nice.

2. Reading currently…



Allegiant is the 3rd book in the Divergent trilogy. I loved the first two books in the trilogy.

I made the mistake of reading the reviews on Amazon before I started the book. They are not kind. So, it hasn’t motivated me to binge read through this book. And coupled with the fact that I read the first two books over a year ago, I’ve forgotten so much and made it confusing at first. But I’m still hopeful and will finish the book.

3. Watching on HBO Go…



I finally finished watching The West Wing. I had to move on to a new-to-me series. I’d always heard great things about The Wire and wanted something different than The West Wing.

It’s a good show. It’s not my normal cup of tea, which is why I never watched it when it was on. But the story lines and writing are great. (If Bubbles ends up dying, I’m going to be so upset!!!)

One fun thing about watching an older show, I keep seeing the cast members on current shows! Bunk is on The Michael J Fox show. Kima was on The Good Wife two weeks ago. Prez was just on Hostages this week. And 2 guys from the show are currently on The Walking Dead.

Annnnnnd I’m fully aware that I watch too much TV!!!! :)

What are you currently listening to, reading, and/or watching???

Do you have a book recommendation for me to read next?

What should I watch after The Wire? I’m thinking Six Feet Under.

What I Ate Wednesday #WIAW
Aug 14, 2013

It’s been a while since I did a What I Ate Wednesday post!

Before my eats, can we talk about The West Wing for a minute? I’m loving The Newsroom on HBO currently, so decided to catch up on the The West Wing (another Aaron Sorkin) show via Netflix. I’m still on season 1, but rocking through it steadily. But I have a question about Charlie…the President’s personal aide. So he comes to the White House to apply for a job because his Mom was killed and he needs to help take care of his sister who’s still in high school.

Okay, I get it. However, Charlie’s got to NEVER be at home!! Those people work crazy long hours! And he’s gone on 3 out of town trips with the President this season already. Who the heck is watching out for Charlie’s sister? Is she just living it up alone??


You know how I live it up alone? I splurge and have Grape Nuts for breakfast! Booyah…stellar segue I did there. Grape Nuts isn’t the lowest calorie cereal out there, but sometimes I just crave that crunch.


My recent guilt-free splurge…the light coffee frappuccino from SB, only 110 calories for a grande. It helps me beat the heat on the hot Austin mornings.

PS…a tip if you live in South Austin near Southpark Meadows like I do…it’s WAY faster just to run into the Super Target Starbucks then to wait in the long ass line at the real Starbucks in the shopping center.


Lunch was a quick combo of grapes, pepper jack cheese, tomatoes, and pretzels. I had a banana later on too.

For dinner, I went to Torchy’s Tacos! I didn’t take a photo, but it was delish as always.

I’m off to watch another episode of The West Wing!! Please tell me that Josh & Donna end up getting together. Oh oh oh and CJ & Danny have to get together too!

Weekend Ramblings
Aug 11, 2013

1.  Who’s excited about Breaking Bad coming back tonight?!?!  Here’s my plan for tonight…Big Brother, Breaking Bad, The Newsroom, wine & pizza.

2.  Last night, I went to the Stateside for a Q&A with Tony Hale aka Buster Bluth from Arrested Development aka Gary Walsh from Veep. It was a benefit for Blood:Water Mission.


It was a great Q&A! He spoke about AD, of course…favorite scenes, the writing & callbacks that are done so well on the show, the characters he loved like Mrs. Featherbottom & Bob Loblaw, how even he was unaware that he was going to lose his hand on the show until he read that script, etc etc.

He also shared some insight that he’s learned along the way about contentment. He shared several stories that he referred to as kind of his own Oprah a-ha moments.


Tony telling a story about Liza Minnelli.

3. After the event, my friend, Sylvia & I got some food at the Llama’s trailer. Then we met up with Mary Helen and checked out the Russian House.


They have a large selection of infused vodkas there, of course. I sipped on some apple cinnamon vodka. It was tasty, but I would have preferred it in the fall versus summer.


Mary with a Russian bear that attacked her.

4. We ended the night at the Iron Cactus.



Thank goodness for misting fans & frozen margaritas.

Hope you all had a great weekend!!

Weekend Recap: Rewind to last weekend
Aug 05, 2013

Today at work, I started writing out that today was Friday. Wow, I’m really getting ahead of myself. What a bummer to think that a Monday is a Friday!

I didn’t do much this past weekend. I had to finally take advantage of the quiet in my apartment building.

So I’ll recap last weekend instead!


1. I had a blog date with Denise & Corrin at Noble Sandwiches. We had a good conversation & I can’t wait to do it again. Book club, Corrin, book club. :)


2. I went to Linda’s 30th birthday party. (Linda’s in the middle.) Linda is always so happy and her spirit is infectious. Her party theme was BALLS. Kind of like….oh balls, I’m turning 30. It was so fun. All the food was ball themed. I went the easy route & just brought cherries & grapes…and also peanut M&M’s and lemon drops.


My fellow Julie, me, and Amy


3. On Sunday night, I went over to Mary Helen’s for burger party. Her nephew is in town, so she invited everyone over. This picture was an afterthought. I was too busy chowing down…nom nom nom.


4. I binged watched Orange is the New Black last weekend on Netflix. After 4 people on my Twitter feed were raving about it, I knew that I had to watch. I immediately started reading the book once I finished season 1. I’d actually bought the book a few years ago and hadn’t read it. I’m almost done already!


5. A few weeks ago, I bought these notebooks (Target impulse buy). I wanted to start a personal journal. I remember after my grandma passed away finding some notebooks of hers. It wasn’t deep thoughts…it was more like, went for a walk today. But I was still fascinated. Although mundane details, it was compelling to me. So, I’ve started my own journaling. Maybe I’ll stick with it for years (hopefully) and maybe not. But in the hopes that I will…I returned to Target to buy out the remaining notebooks. My journals have to match!

Okay, I’m off to watch the season finale of RHOC….er I mean to write in my journal.

Mini Shepherd’s Pies for the Downton Abbey season 3 premiere
Jan 06, 2013

mini shepherd's pie

Tonight is the season 3 premiere of Downton Abbey. I’m excited to see how things are going for the Grantham family.



I’m not really a fan of Lady Mary and Matthew. Lady Mary’s a tad whiny for me. My favorite Grantham sister is Lady Sybil.


Branson & Lady Sybil

And I’m especially Team Bates & Anna. Oh Mr. Bates! Swoon!

Mr. Bates  Anna


If you’re looking for an English classic with a twist to enjoy during the show tonight, might I suggest Mini Shepherd’s Pies.

shepherd's pie downton abbey

The Countess Dowager may not approve of finger foods, but I’ll never tell her.

Mini Shepherd’s Pies

Recipe from LHJ Feb 2013, adapted

Makes about 36 bite-sized pies


1 17 ounce package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed
3 tablespoons EVOO
1/2 pound of ground beef
2 tablespoons minced tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup corn, canned
1/2 cup peas, canned
salt & pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes (I used Simply Potatoes, but you can certainly make your own too!)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a mini muffin pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

Unroll your puff pastry sheets on the counter. Cut into 2 inch rounds. (I don’t have a pastry cutter, so I just used a shot glass to cut the pastry into circles.) Press the rounds into your muffin pan. Prick the bottoms of the pastry with a fork. Place the muffin tin into the freezer while preparing the filling.

Heat 1 tablespoon of EVOO in a skillet over medium heat. Brown the ground beef. Stir in the tarragon, chives, cumin, and garlic powder. Transfer the meat into a bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO to the skillet along with the diced onions and carrots. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the corn and cook for about 2 minutes. Return the meat to the skillet and stir together. Add in the peas to the mixture along with salt & pepper to taste. Stir.

Scoop a small amount of filling into each puff pastry cup. Bake for about 16-18 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for just a few minutes. Remove from the muffin and pipe a dollop of heated mashed potatoes onto each pie.

Enjoy immediately while still hot!

shepherd's pie

*** If you’re looking for a recap of Downton Abbey to prep for tonight, my friend, Kristin, wrote a great one here!

Weekend Ramblings
May 12, 2012

1.  It’s been raining here in Austin.  I know we need the rain.  Be grateful for it.  But my apartment complex decided to dump a bunch of sand in the parking lot right before the rain.  To help soak up the oil spotches from cars, I guess??  Cut to this sand + rain + oil creating a slippery mess in the parking lot!  Cut to Julie eating it in the parking lot & falling…hands full of grocery bags.  UGH!  At least no one saw me.  Someone witnessing your fall is way worse than actually falling.

2.  My new favorite smoothie….Banana Biscoff Smoothie.

3.  My new favorite breakfast…Runny eggs over asparagus.

4.  My new favorite ready-to-drink cocktail….Skinnygirl’s White Cranberry Cosmo.  SO GOOD!!


5.  Are you watching Girls on HBO?


This show seems to rile people up.  People hate it….or love it….or love to dissect it.  It’s a hot button issue for some reason.  I happen to LOVE the show.  I relate to it….or rather my earlier 20 year old self related to it.  It’s awkward and real.  I went through some of those experiences, self-deprecating thoughts and emotions.  The show literally makes me cringe as I’m transported back in time.  I love the show though because I know that I come out on the other side stronger and wiser!

Okay, I’m done.

Weekend Ramblings
May 05, 2012

1.  I finally got on the Downton Abbey bandwagon this week!  Please tell me that Mr. Bates and Anna get married!!  When will MY Mr. Bates come into my life?!  I may throw a temper tantrum if Season 2 Disc 1 isn’t in my mailbox tomorrow.

2.  I’ve been dreaming of Trader Joe’s horseradish pub cheese since I had it at my friend, Sarah’s, in Charlotte.  Sadly, there is no TJ’s in Austin (until next year!)  But I did find Pub Cheese at Super Target this week!!  Hot Buffalo Wing flavored pretzels dipped in pub cheese…DO IT!

3.  After reading so many positive things about the Clarisonic, I bought one myself.  I’ve always had bad skin, which at 33 years old is utterly unfair.  Clarisonic, bring me a skin miracle!

4.  I went to JCP this week to buy my Mom a Mother’s Day present.  Annnnd, I bought myself this ring and 2 pairs of sunglasses.  Loving the ring!

Don’t worry…I got Mom a present too.

5.  I gave Haley a bath yesterday.  Ha!  Obviously, you can tell that she just looooooves baths.  Hehehe.  She will turn ignore me for the next 48 hours to punish me for her bath torture.

Have a great Cinco de Mayo / Kentucky Derby Day!


BBQ Meatballs
Apr 26, 2012

**April 28 Update: Voted into Foodbuzz’s Daily Top 9.**

I love behind the scenes/day in the life posts from bloggers.  I’m so bad about planning and keeping on a consistent blog schedules.

I’ve read that some bloggers have went so far as to not have cable TV.  They wanted to eliminate cable as a distraction from focusing on their blog.


I couldn’t do that.  First of all, I’m too weak to give up cable.  And second, not having cable would actually lessen my blog content.

If I didn’t have cable, I couldn’t tell you about my 2 new favorite shows!  (See how I tied that together.  I’m smooth.)


Have you watched BFF on NBC?  It’s hilarious!  The 1st two episodes especially…I was rolling!


Scandal is the newest show from Shonda Rhimes.  Rhimes has finally broken out of the hospital realm (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice).  Scandal is well…scandalous, crimes, affairs, love, government, etc etc.  I’d say if you like the drama of Grey’s plus the better story lines from The Good Wife….then Scandal may be for you.

You know what else may be for you?  Meatballs!

BBQ Meatballs

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman


For the meatballs:

1 & 1/2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cups Old Fashioned oats
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons finely minced onion
1 & 1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste

For cooking the meatballs:

1 cup flour
Canola Oil

For the sauce:

1 cup Heinz ketchup
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
4-6 tablespoons minced onion
1 dash Tabasco


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all of the meatball ingredients.  Roll into small-to-medium sized -balls and place them on a cookie sheet.

Place the cookie sheet in freezer for five minutes.  The freezer helps with meatballs hold their shape.

After 5 minutes, remove the meatballs from freezer.   Dredge the meatballs in unseasoned flour.

In a skillet, heat your canola oil.  Add the floured meatballs to the oil.  Cook until just browned.  Place browned meatballs into a baking dish.

Combine all of the sauce ingredients.

Pour sauce over the meatballs.

Bake for 45 minutes.

The meatballs were great!  It was a fun alternative to meatloaf.  Try them for dinner yourself this week!  You can even eat them in front of the TV while watching BFF!

Butterscotch Walnut Spice Cake
Jan 03, 2012

Did you see my post yesterday about movie actors?

Well, far be it from me to not give TV actors some love!!

Julie’s Top 5 Drool Worthy TV Actors

5.  Patrick Dempsey


Who knew from Can’t Buy Me Love that he’d become McDreamy?

4.  Jason Sudeikis


A funny man with a great head of hair?  Yes, please.

3.  Timothy Olyphant


Do you watch Justified on FX?  It’s a great show plus the eye candy.

2.  Jon Hamm


I’ll be Don Draper’s secretary any day.

1.  Taye Diggs


No explanation needed.

I made this cake while dreaming that I was guest starring on Private Practice.  Taye Diggs will be my doctor and fall madly in love with me while saving me from near death.  Addison doesn’t stand a chance.  (Annnnnd, I need to get a life.)

This cake is easy-peasy, semi-homemade.  It’s a perfect “in a pinch” cake to make when company is coming.  Or take it to book club with your friends….where you can talk about the book for 5 minutes and then talk about hot actors for 2 hours.

Butterscotch Walnut Spice Cake


1 3.5 ounce box instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
1 box spice cake mix
1 bag of butterscotch chips
1 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 inch cake pan; set aside.

Make the vanilla pudding according to the package directions, using 2 cups of milk.  Add spice cake mix to the pudding and mix well.  Pour batter into your prepared cake pan.

Sprinkle butterscotch chips and chopped walnut on top of batter.

Bake for 35 minutes.

I LOVE this cake!  So delicious!!


Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
Nov 21, 2011

If you had to pick, what would you pick as your favorite TV ever??

I choose Friends!!!

And yesterday, there was a Friends marathon on TBS.  So, you know what I did yesterday…..watched about 12 episodes of Friends.  (I cleaned, did laundry, and caught up on blogs too during this time!!)

My favorite episode is the Thanksgiving episode where Monica puts the turkey on her head.


And Rachel makes the trifle with meat.

“What’s not to like??  Custard, good.  Jam, good.  Meat, good!”

While watching Friends, I did not try my hand at making a trifle.  But I did make cream cheese swirl brownies.

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

Recipe from Jane and Lorraine

Yields:  12 brownies


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar + 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites + 1 whole egg
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
8 ounces of cream cheese


Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 8 x 8 inch baking pan with non-stick spray and set it aside.
In a small bowl, beat butter and 3/4 cup of sugar until crumbly.  Beat in one whole egg, one egg white and vanilla until well combined.
In a separate bowl, combine flour and cocoa.  Gradually add your dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until blended.  Pour into your baking pan and set it aside.
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth.  Beat in your second egg white.
Drop by tablespoonfuls over the brownie batter.  Drag a knife through the batters to make a swirl pattern.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Allow brownies to cool before enjoying.
With the cream cheese swirl, I think these brownies are best served after chilling in the refrigerator!