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Better Half

June 10, 2018

We have a new-ish bar/cafe in our hood, and we’ve been there approximately 732 times since it opened this spring. Of those 732 times, I have ordered the same cocktail (the Chili Parlor) 732 times. (Do you like rum, lime, and pineapple? Do you like it a little spicy? You’re gonna love the Chili Parlor!)

All that to say, we love Better Half.

We love it at brunch, with ham-stuffed biscuits, and English muffins filled with ripe tomatoes, crunchy hashbrowns, fried egg, arugula, and smoked paprika aioli. And the Chili Parlor.

We love it for afternoon drinks. AKA the Chili Parlor.

We love it for pre-meal snacks of crispy mushrooms and fries (and the Chili Parlor).

The ham flight is pretty insane. (I had the Chili Parlor.)

The S’mores Cake is amazing (after you’ve had the Chili Parlor).

Sometimes I work there in the afternoons and snack on cauliflower tots with beet ketchup (and a Chili Parlor).

Just go, peeps. Order the Chili Parlor. You won’t regret it.

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BG, 2yr 10mo

May 27, 2018

Remember my lovely teenage niece, Kourtney? Yeah, she grew up. And she got married, and she had a baby, who turned out to be the most amazing, gorgeous little gal I know. Let’s refer to her as BG.

Here they are, in all their cute glory:

Here’s BG, with her insane pigtails:

Here she is in her insanely cute dress:

Here they are, falling asleep in the back of the boat this past weekend:


How does time fly by so quickly? How does your baby niece grow up and have a baby before you know it? How does your baby grand-niece get old enough to call you “Tía,” just like her mama did, so that when you hear it your heart explodes?


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No School Like the Old School

May 21, 2018

Sometimes (okay, a lot of times), I miss old-school blogging. Back before there were ads and sponsors, before there were “audiences” and “influencers,” when people just kept their journals online, and we all read them and learned things and were happy.

Maybe it’s time to bring that back. For those of us who are tired of seeing every blogger write about the same products, all within the same month (coincidence? I think not); for those of us who just want to read about the lives of other interesting people (and see what they eat!); for those of us who write to update our moms and our old friends who refuse to join social media but still look at our blogs for updates (hi Linds!).

I often think I can’t blog because I have nothing to say – but the truth is, I have plenty to say. It just may not be trendy or influencing or beautiful or Insta-worthy or profitable.

This blog started as my online journal, 13 years ago – a web log: a blog. Back when we were all on Blogger; when we all somehow knew each other; when a “meme” was just a list of nerdy questions we asked each other. Over the years, the internet got kinda crazy, and I felt like I didn’t belong on it any more. I was fine with Snapchat until I wasn’t; with Facebook until I wasn’t; with Instagram until I wasn’t. But in the end, this little blog is still here, my journal, my personal space, my non-taggable, unlinked, non-monetized space.

So – hi mom! Hi Linds! Hi J! Want to hear about the boring things I’ve been up to? :D

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The Instapot

January 16, 2018

I keep calling it that. I know it’s an Instant Pot, but still.

I adapted our original Peggy’s sauce to work in the Instapot! For future reference, here’s how I did it. I usually add at least 2 zucchini and 2 yellow squash, and 3 full cans of tomatoes, but I didn’t want to overfill the pot. This seemed to work great!

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 bulb garlic, peeled and chopped
  • big handful dried basil
  • big handful oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1/2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed with your hands do this one can at a time)
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sweet vermouth or red wine
  • 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • Salt

Press the SAUTE button on the Instant Pot. Heat the olive oil in the Instant Pot. When hot, sauté the onion, carrots, and celery, until softened, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and bay leaf, and sauté for a couple minutes more. Add the vermouth and the mushrooms and stir well.

Add the tomatoes from 2 1/2 cans, and the juice from just one of the cans. (You can just crush the tomatoes directly into the pot. Save the rest to use in another recipe.) Add the zucchini and yellow squash, and a good bit of salt. (You can taste the sauce at this point and add more salt as needed). Press CANCEL.

Close and seal the pot, and pressure cook on MANUAL for 10 minutes. Carefully QUICK RELEASE or allow to naturally release. Carefully open the pot, stir the sauce, then taste and adjust salt if needed.

This makes a ton! We usually eat 2 hefty portions on pasta for dinner, have 2 more for lunch leftovers, then save the rest in 3 – 4 quart-sized freezer bags. (Make sure you lay them flat to freeze so they’re easier to store!)

Source: Me and my old pal Peggy.

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Things and stuff

September 27, 2017

I can’t even remember where I got that phrase, but I use it all the time. Things and stuff. Anyway, here are some things I like. And stuff.

I really, really loved this post by Christina. I think a lot of us (me included) tend to underestimate the work that bloggers and YouTubers and Instagrammers and Twitter peeps do. Many bloggers have written posts about how hard the work is, but this is the first one that had me totally hooked, reading through, thinking, “GIRL. That’s a lot of work.” For me, social media on its own would be a hard job. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with multiple platforms, multiple daily posts, responses, links, follows, etc. GAH. Makes me tired just thinking about it. Anyway, I thought this was really well written and interesting. I LOVE day-in-the-life type things. Maybe I’ll post one soon.

So my friends Mia and Josh just had a baby girl named Zara Grey. I haven’t gotten to meet her yet, but I’ve seen photos, and I just want to scoop her up! I also think I should probably call her Zara, but I love Zara Grey so much that I’ve decided it’s her official Crystal-name. Like, one word, Zaragrey. (I think I end up renaming a lot of my friends’ kids, though often, they all become Pickle, because for some reason, to me, Pickle is the correct name for something tiny and cute and sweet.)

I read this post and really loved it. There are some really juicy bits – about finding patterns, designing an environment conducive to being the person you want to be, and reducing the amount of energy it takes to do something that moves you toward your goals.

We have reinstated Monday Movie Nights. We used to go to the movies every Monday night – it gives me something to look forward to, especially on Sunday evenings, when the world seems to become sad and grey, and I begin to dread the work week. (Even though I actually do enjoy my work, it’s still work.) So this Monday, we went to see mother! I’ve decided that it’s not a film I can recommend – it’s violent, over-the-top, sometimes offensive, possibly gone-too-far into the realm of art and pain. But I can’t stop thinking about it, and I don’t know if that means it was a successful film. It reminds me of how I felt after watching Requiem for a Dream or Precious. Kind of horrified, but still intrigued. How’s that for a vague movie description?

Other films we’ve watched recently: The Big Sick (SO GOOD, and now I adore Kumail Nanjiani, and I might possibly watch Silicon Valley), Baby Driver (I totally resisted watching this movie just because of the title, but I ended up really liking it, and also, the soundtrack is heaven), and, unfortunately, Kong: Skull Island. I really, really did not like this movie. (Insert sad face here.)

Current song in my head: White Gloves by Khruangbin.

That’s it for today. Unless you want to look at this.

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