Sep 29, 2009

Best Date Spots: Houston

Houston: a bustling hub of diversity and life. One of the largest cities in the South, Houston is a melting pot of different cultures, with no shortage of things to see and do, making it the perfect city to explore with a date. Below are some of the best date spots around the city that natives affectionately know as H-town.

1) Backstreet Cafe - Have a lunch date with your beau? Check out Backstreet Cafe in River Oaks; quaint and cozy, this streetside cafe has a beautiful view and award-winning menu that will satisfy even the most discerning foodie. Executive Chef Hugo Ortega has received multiple awards and rave reviews from critics both in and out of Houston, creating an impressive menu that's definitely not your ordinary cafe-fare; with dishes such as Shellfish Risotto and Duck Confit, the exquisite and carefully selected menu will both delight and frustrate you, if only because of the length of time it'll take to pick a dish!

Each entree is well-prepared and beautifully presented, served by a warm and attentive staff. For lunch, choose from a list of delicious seasonal choices (check the restaurant's site menu for updates) such as Petit Pan Roasted Chicken or Crispy Lobster Sandwich (crispy lobster on toasted brioche with bacon, tomato, arugula, spicy onion rings and red pepper remoulade, served with potato salad). Locals rave for the restaurant's Sunday brunch, which includes hearty, sating choices such as the Bistro Breakfast (grilled 4 oz. tenderloin served with two poached eggs, rosemary potato cake, spinach and tomato hollandaise) and also Crawfish Grits Cakes and Eggs (poached eggs over stone ground grits cakes with crawfish, andouille sausage and choron sauce).

The dinner menu also won't disappoint, with dishes such as Jalapeno Fettuccine and Conchiglioni (baked, giant shells stuffed with spinach, mushrooms and pine nuts with a rustic tomato sauce topped with Pecorino Romano) for pasta lovers and Pepper Crusted Braised Beef Short Ribs and Grilled Rib Eye Steak for the meat lovers.

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Sep 26, 2009

Q & A - How Do I Pick Up Where We Left Off?

Q. Dear Alannah,

So I went on a date with this girl from my university earlier this summer...I'd been liking her for awhile, and our date was right before summer break, before she headed back to her home country to visit family. We went to the movies on our date, went to grab some coffee after, then took a walk around the park, and we ended the night with me walking her to the front entrance of her house and giving her a goodbye hug. This was sometime after the semester ended, and soon after the date, she headed to Asia.

Now school has started up again, and I don't see her often around our university campus, but I want to get in touch with her again. I don't know if she's seeing anyone right now (she was single before summer vacation), but I definitely want to see if we could pick up where we left off, if she's available. She doesn't have Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, or any of the other online resources that make it much easier to send an informal "hello". The only means I have to contact her is her phone number, and I've tried calling once, but didn't reach her (I didn't leave a message, either). How long should I wait before calling her again, and - assuming I can't reach her when calling again - how persistent should I be before I give up?

Sincerely,

Pete

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Sep 24, 2009

Q & A - Friends With Benefits?

Q. Dear Alannah,

So, I have this friend who is a couple of years older than me and whom I've known all of my life, but we've only truly become friends within the past 5 years. We've been close and distant throughout that time, close when we were working together or if we were dating each others friends. For a long time we had a flirtatious relationship, even when one or both had significant others. This flirting had dwindled down, so I was surprised when texting him one night when we started to recognize the fact that we were both single and not looking for relationships, but also both have physical needs wanting to be met.

I'm not going to lie to you, I can be an awkward person. I seem to become more awkward when I'm around him, which makes me a little nervous. I've never had a friends with benefits relationship, but now it seems almost too convenient that we're both in this situation and happen to be living 5 min away from one another. Obviously he and I are not best friends, but I do value friendship above physicality.

Do you think it's possible to maintain friendship throughout and after in a friends with benefits relationship? Do you think it's a good idea for me to go for it?

Jennifer

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Sep 21, 2009

Things That Scream "Douche(bag)!"

In a world where shows such as "Tool Academy" and "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" are becoming more commonplace, you have to notice an unsettling trend in the mainstream media, and, even more unsettling, in real life, in the clubs, bars, restaurants, malls, and other establishments that we frequent (and even the streets that we walk)...that trend I'm referring to is "the douche(bag) trend". It started with "faux" celebrities such as K-Fed and any number of the reality TV "celebrities" on VH1. It's now overtaken your hometown establishments and weekend night haunts.

The Urban Dictionary definition of a douchebag:

“An individual who has an over-inflated sense of self worth, compounded by a low level of intelligence [sic], behaving ridiculously in front of colleagues with no sense of how moronic he appears.”

My post today is one part "what not to wear/do/say" for the guys, one part "who not to date" for the ladies. (Kidding! Douchebags need love, too!)

Below, 10 telltale signs a guy is a douche:

1) Unbuttoning his shirt 3 buttons down from the top, with no t-shirt underneath...if we have a nice, full view of your perfectly waxed chest, you're showin' way too much!


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Sep 19, 2009

Q & A - I Always Have the Stronger Feelings In Relationships

Q. Dear Alannah,

In my past relationships, I have always had problems with having stronger feelings for the other person than they do for me. It started with my first boyfriend in high school, which was my longest relationship to date. I thought he was the one, but he hurt me deeply...ever since then, I've been trying to meet another "the one".

I really want to figure this problem out, because I was (maybe am) dating this really great guy, and I think I may have sabotaged it. It's weird, he was very interested at first, but then all of a sudden, he backed off and said he wasn't ready for a serious relationship, which he thought I wanted (which secretly I did, which is my problem because I always think of a guy I'm dating as a possible future husband). I told him that I wanted to keep things casual and didn't know where he got that idea (I lied because he's such a great person...is this a sign that I have low self-esteem?).

I called him the following night and said that I didn't think we should date anymore because I needed some time to be single and it sounded like he did too. (That was also a lie...I'm not usually a liar so I don't know what's going on...I would feel too vulnerable if I told him that I just didn't want to get hurt if we dated casually). Well, he told me he'd be pretty devastated if we didn't stay friends, so I agreed, and we've gotten together once since then, and it was so much fun. I then drove him to the airport, because he was going on vacation for the weekend. I drunk-dialed him that night (I know, big mistake!) and said that I like him, and he said he likes me, too, and I said I wanted to keep dating, but don't want to get hurt. He asked why I would get hurt...and I said because if I started getting really deep feelings and he didn't want anything serious. He said to make sure that no creepy drunk guys got to me and to get home safe, and that we'd talk about it when he got back.

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Sep 16, 2009

Long-Distance Relationships (Part II)

In my previous post, I discussed long-distance relationships and what you should first consider before entering one. Today, for those who are (or are considering being) involved in a long-distance relationship, I'll discuss tips on how to make it work and keep the spark alive over any distance!

1) Make your time together memorable. When you are in a long-distance relationship, the time you spend with your significant other (SO) is very limited, so you should make the most of each moment you have. Make your time together memorable, especially in the beginning of the relationship. I'm not saying that every trip to see each other has to be an adventure, but plan your dates out in advance when possible. Maximize your time together.

Since your SO doesn't live right around the corner from you, your first few visits together should consist of at least a few well thought-out excursions (not just time spent at home chilling in front of the TV, for instance). Plan dates to go sightseeing in your (or their) city, do things around town that you normally wouldn't do, or go on trips out of town together. Doing "chill" activities is okay, but balance it out with some well thought-out, romantic and/or adventurous dates, so your time together is as memorable as possible! (Well-thought out dates don't need to be expensive, either - just showing you put in effort to plan ahead is what counts! For some great cheap date ideas, click here.)

2) Talk on the phone at least once a day. Try not to go a day without talking to your SO on the phone. This includes using video chat programs, such as Skype. These programs make a world of difference! If possible, video chat with your SO instead of just talking on the phone - it's the next best thing to having them there with you.

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Sep 14, 2009

Long-Distance Relationships (Part I)

Long-distance relationships have always been an interesting topic of discussion; some people are up for it - for others, it's out of the question. My first relationship was a long-distance one, and I will admit, it could be pretty tough at times (it eventually ended not because of the distance, but due to personality differences).

My thoughts on relationships are that it is already difficult enough as it is to meet someone and have these three criteria fall in to place in order for you and the other person to begin dating:

1) You both need to be available (duh!)
2) You need that chemistry, that initial spark (sounds simple, but is very hard to find -- in the minds of most women, anyways!)
3) You both have to be good for each other and treat each other right (again, sounds simple, but when combined with #2, so very hard to find!)

To me, it is already difficult enough as it is to find these three criteria in a potential mate (all at once), that when you do meet someone who fits the bill, if they just happen to live a few hundred (or thousand!) miles away, I feel the tough part of meeting or finding them is already one of the largest hurdles you'll already have overcome!

As mentioned earlier, though, long-distance relationships aren't for everyone, so if you are contemplating one with a special someone you've just met (who just happens to live a couple of hundred miles away), here are some things you should first consider before entering in to it.

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Sep 11, 2009

Style Files: September '09 Women

With cooler weather comes a change in our wardrobes...more layers, lower hemlines, bulkier fabrics, and less skin. Of course, that doesn't mean the fashions are any less fun! For Fall '09, check out the latest styles for women to hit the runways!

1) Hot pink. This fun, sassy shade is making a comeback this Fall, in everything from clothes to accessories to even make-up (hot pink lips, anyone?). All over the Fall '09 designer runways, hot pink dresses, tops and skirts made a vibrant splash on models, and, worn as part of a hot new color pairing, with red (a pairing formerly thought of as a fashion faux pas), anything hot pink is sure to attract loads of attention!



Versace Fall 2009

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Sep 10, 2009

Q & A - Does He Like Me, or Is It Just Work-Related?

Q. Dear Alannah,

I need your advice on this issue. I met this guy at work 4 months ago who had just started working there, and we hit it off since the first week we met. We became friends pretty quickly, would have lunch together, and were always smiling at each other at the office. I started to feel really attracted to him, and I got the feeling he felt the same. I think even our colleagues at the office started noticing.

After 2 months, I got a very good job offer elsewhere and left the company. Of course, we exchanged phone numbers and even added each other on Facebook. After I left, he called me so we could get together and hang out (and talk about how things are at work), but I couldn't on that particular week, so we postponed the hang-out date. So, we're planning on meeting soon, but I'm quite confused about what his real intentions are with me. We've chatted a few times online, and he told me that that he misses me at work, but now he doesn't get distracted by me (which seems to me to be a way of showing interest in me); at the same time, each time we chat online, he ends up talking about things at work, and always mentions that we should get together to speak about work! To talk about the changes in the company since I left and how he's dealing with things there.

So, I'm a bit confused about whether he's really interested in me in a romantic way (because I am in him), or, if he just wants work advice since I have much more experience in this particular field than he has. Or maybe he doesn't feel totally at ease with me yet, so he's using work as an excuse to meet me, since he doesn't know how I feel either? I really like him, and I don't want to meet him if he's only interested in talking about work! Well, when I was seeing him every day at work, I felt as if he was attracted to me as well, but who knows!? Can you please give me some advice?

Sincerely,

Susie

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Sep 7, 2009

Style Files: September '09 Men

With summer now over and fall weather slowly creeping up on us, it's time to pack away those summer clothes and give your wardrobe a fresh update for the new season! Below, the latest looks for Fall in men's fashion.

1) Tuxedo jackets. For Fall '09, tuxedo dinner jackets are very hot, and you don't need to wait for some fancy-shmancy dinner party to wear them, either! Worn over trousers or jeans, the tuxedo jacket helps infuse elegance and style into your look. Look for satin finishes and notched or peaked lapels on jackets to incorporate this style - bow-tie optional!



Dinner jacket trend on the runways at Dries Van Noten, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Kris Van Assche.



Salvatore Ferragamo Fall '09



Dinner jacket, McQ by Alexander McQueen

2) Plaid. For more casual looks, go with plaid. Plaid has been a popular pattern this year, and for Fall, it is still a strong trend, showing up on shirts, scarves, hats, even outerwear. Pick up an item in plaid in a bright color to stand out against the sea of neutral colors prevalent in Fall.



Newlook plaid shirt.



Old Navy Men's Patterned Dress Shirts, on sale $15.00 (regular $24.50) at Old Navy

3) Denim. Men's jeans styles for Fall '09 includes a wide range of choices from which to choose. Whether you prefer comfort in "looser" fitting jeans, a slimmer, straight-leg fit for a "neater" look, or you prefer perennial favorite bootcut jeans, you won't be limited in your choices this season!

a) Relaxed fit jeans. Don't let the recent rash of "skinny" jeans for men deter you from this style -- there's room in men's fashion for both styles, and if your preference is comfort, relaxed fit jeans are a great choice.



7 For All Mankind Men's Relaxed Fit Jeans in Montana Wash, $195 at Bloomingdales

b) Straight leg jeans. Somewhere between the skinny jean and relaxed fit jeans lies the straight leg jeans. Comfortable and yet "put together", the straight leg jean easily takes you from a casual day at work to a night out on the town!



Rock & Republic Henlee Jeans, $205 at Neiman Marcus

c) Bootcut jeans. As mentioned in my previous post, bootcut style jeans are considered universally flattering (for both men and women). For guys with long torsos and/or wider mid-sections, bootcut jeans help balance out their frames, and helps give their lower half a leaner appearance.



Levi's 527 Jeans, on sale $36.99 (regular $54.00) at Macy's

4) Color. As mentioned in my previous post, colors for menswear this Fall include a wide range of rich shades, including bottle green, blue, gold, burgundy and gray. Find shirts, ties, scarves and other accessories in any of these shades for a quick update to your wardrobe!



AX Seamed Slim Fit Shirt in Blueberry, $78, at Armani Exchange



Banana Republic Slim Fit Military-Style Shirt in Pearl Gray, $70 at Banana Republic

5) Outerwear. Many outerwear trends prevail in menswear for Fall '09, but the ones that stand out the most are the military trend (as mentioned in my previous post), and the classic trench coat.

a) Military trend. As mentioned previously, the military trend is very popular in menswear for Fall '09, and it can be seen prevalently in men's outerwear. The details that make this trend are in the buttons, necklines, and silhouettes.





Dolce & Gabbana Fall/Winter 2009/2010 Collection



Burberry Raised-Seam Peacoat, $895 at Neiman Marcus



Coat from H&M, Men's Fall 2009/2010 Collection (plaid pants optional!), hm.com

b) Trench coats. A seasonal classic, this is one coat that never goes out of style. Night or day, rain or shine, the trench coats offer protection against the elements with a classic yet stylish edge. Their typically lightweight structure allows for easy movement and light coverage, perfect for cool Autumn weather!



Rag and Bone "Great Coat", $745 at fastforward



Banana Republic Double-breasted Trench Coat, $200 at Banana Republic

Sources:

- fashionising.com
- gq.com

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Sep 5, 2009

Q & A - Should I Pursue Someone Who's Moving Away?

Dear Alannah,

So, I used to work with this girl in the same company, but different department. I only saw her about 3 days a week, and we talked to each other about 15 minutes each day when it wasn't busy. I slowly started to find her attractive, and the next thing I knew, we were having a farewell party for her at work, because she is moving away to attend a different university. On the night of her farewell party, we went to a club. People from both our departments were there, and the only person she hugged was me when she arrived at the club. (Now everyone in her department suspects I have a crush on her, probably because it's a little obvious that I talk to her the most out of everyone at work.)

While we were dancing and roaming around the club (on the night of the farewell party), she took my hands and held on tight (fingers intertwined) for most of the night. We had some physical body touching while we were on the dance floor, and she didn't mind it at all. Then when I drove her home (I was not drunk and was in total control of the vehicle) we had a normal, sober conversation, and she did some texting to someone at her house to have someone open the door and let her in. When we arrived at her driveway, we had a friendly hug and kiss on the cheek... And then she started moving her face to my mouth, so we made out for a bit, and that was the end of the night.

The next day, she came to my work place, (where she no longer worked) to visit some of her ex-workers and me, and we chatted for a bit. Because she is leaving in two days, we might meet tomorrow for a short time, if she gets all her stuff done by tomorrow. I want to ask, should I let her know how I feel about her? She will be back in December for Christmas break and summer in May. Or, should I just forget it and look for someone else?

Sincerely,

Mike

A. Dear Mike,

Before you decide what to do next, you should first decide whether or not you'd want to pursue a long-distance relationship...also, you need to figure out what your feelings are for this girl, whether it's a fleeting crush, or whether you see potential for something more serious. (It's good to first be realistic with what your expectations are before jumping right in to things.) To me, I believe if you have feelings for someone (if it's reasonably within your means to try the long-distance thing), then you should pursue it...better to try and give it a shot than to never know and always wonder "what if", right? But I know that long-distance relationships aren't for everyone, so you should first weigh the pros and cons here before deciding on your next course of action.

If you never saw or heard from her again after she moved away, would you be okay with that? If you happened to run into her again a few years down the line (let's say she's moved back in to town), but she was no longer available, would you regret not having told her how you felt? On the flip side, would you be okay with seeing her once every few weeks or so, or less? Would talking on the phone every day (and using video chat or other telecommuncations methods) suffice until getting to see her for just a few days at a time?

If after thinking over these things, you decide you would not be okay letting her leave without telling her how you feel and that you're willing to try dating long-distance, definitely let her know before she leaves. From what you've said, it sounds pretty clear that she's interested in you from, all the signals she's sent (spending time almost exclusively with you at the club, moving in close for the kiss, coming back to your workplace the next day to visit when she no longer works there, etc.), and it sounds like she's waiting for you to make the next move. Tell her in person (if possible) that you're interested, and ask her if she'd like to try dating long-distance. Then, take it from there.

Best of luck!

Alannah

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Sep 2, 2009

Q & A - Is He Playing Hard to Get?

Q. Dear Alannah,

I just started seeing this new guy recently, and I don't know what the deal is with him. I had discussed this with a guy friend of mine, and he was telling me the guy may be playing hard to get.

So, me and this guy have had two dates, the second one this past Friday night. During the date, we had a great time, and kissed and cuddled, and he asked me if he was going get to see me this weekend. I responded with "Maybe," but in a joking tone. When I left, he kissed me goodnight.

The next day, he IM'd me on Facebook and asked me what I was doing. We chatted for a bit, and I asked him what his plans were. He told me his plans, and then asked, "Why? What did you have going on?" Since I had nothing to do, he said I could go to his (car repair) shop with him, but the guy he needed to see ended up not being there when he called, so we didn't go. I invited him over, and at first he said maybe, but wasn't sure, then later said he wasn't going to be able to come since his roommate had the truck (they share it). I asked him if he wanted some company and he said no because he was still kind of cleaning around his place and gets easily distracted. I told him I'd talk to him later at that point since he was busy.

So what gives? Is this guy just all of a sudden not interested, or is he playing hard to get? He told me Friday night that he kind of liked me. I was like, "Oh, just kind of like?" And he was like, "Well, maybe a 'bit' more than like." I didn't think it was possible for someone's feelings to change THAT drastically over night.

Sincerely,

Amanda

A. Dear Amanda,

This guy is definitely trying to play hard to get with you, and you are playing right in to it. This does not mean that there is no hope; however, you definitely need to balance the scales. Right after your second date, you should have let him ask you about hanging out again, instead of asking him. I know this may sound like game playing, but like I mentioned in my previous post, men need to be the pursuer in a relationship (not the other way around) in order for it to work out.

This guy does sound interested in you, but from what you're saying, it sounds like he is trying to bait you into pursuing him. Don't fall for it. Since he has already declined your invitation to hang out again, let him call you. Let him ask you to hang out again. He's taking any sign of reciprocity from you as you "chasing" him, so let him initiate the plans.

For the next two dates (at least), let him be the one to ask you to hang out. I know this sounds like a dumb rule, but if you guys have fun on your dates, he will ask you out again (if anything just to satisfy his ego and to see if you're interested and want to continue seeing him). If the next two dates are successful, you can bring up the next date yourself, but don't seem too eager. If he "ditches out" again (or says he's busy), let him make it up by suggesting an alternate time.

By the third date (or rather, fifth date, including the first two), he'll hopefully have stopped with the "let's hang out oh wait I'm busy" business. If he continues with it, you'll just have to decide if a guy who is flaky and/or intentionally plays games (hard to get) is someone you would want to date.

Best of luck!

Alannah

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