Friday, October 29, 2010

Weekend Activities in Austin

  • La Condesa will be hosting a Pumpkin Carving Fiesta from 3:00 to 5:00PM on Saturday. This event features three very important Ps: pumpkins, punch and piñatas. All of which can be enjoyed on a very important fourth P: the patio. While we’re talking about La Condesa, have you been there yet? If you haven’t, you need to go. For brunch. And order the huevos chilangos. In case you haven't a short memory, I raved about them just this week here.
  • Don’t you love the Downtown Farmers Market? Having it in Republic Square Park really adds something that you don’t get at the markets in the parking lots at Barton Creek and Lakeline Malls. Well, this Saturday morning is your opportunity to say a little thanks for that beautiful setting. From 9:00 to 11:00AM you can volunteer, helping to weed and clean up the park. You might as well pitch in while you’re there picking up your veggies and such. If you miss it this Saturday, note that they do it alternate Saturdays. Plus, if you take a cooler with you to keep any perishables fresh, once you’re finished with your shopping and weeding, you can head the couple blocks over to La Condesa and have those amazing huevos chilangos. Doesn’t that sound like a fabulous Saturday morning?
  • If you scored like a good competition AND you think you have an awesome Halloween costume (please note, us competitive folk don’t generally like to enter contests we don’t think we’ll win so the second part of this equation is key), then Hotel San Jose is the place for you to be this weekend. They are having a costume contest both Saturday and Sunday nights (if you lose Saturday, my advice would be to get an even better costume together for Sunday). The drink specials will run from 5:00PM to 12:00AM each night, but the costume contest will kick things off.
  • If you don’t have a fantastic costume, but your pooch and/or kid does, you’ll want to go to Howl-o-ween at the Central Market on North Lamar on Sunday. There, the pressure will be off you to come in first place and instead you can live vicariously through your canine or offspring. Even if they don’t win (which really shouldn’t be an option), you’ll still have gone out and benefitted the Austin Humane Society so it won’t be a total waste of an afternoon.
  • Normally, we associate fireworks with July 4th and scary costumes with Halloween. If you’ve ever wished more holidays had a fireworks component, you’re in luck because there is actually a fireworks display Halloween night. Planet K will put on a fireworks show over on the East Side starting around 9:00PM.
  • Also, normally when you hear something like Tour de Fat, your first response isn’t “Sign me up!” But, that should be your response to New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat as it’s actually all about the bicycle as the best mode of transportation. Saturday at Fiesta Gardens will include a bike parade and costumes are encouraged. It is Halloween weekend, after all.
~ So, I’m going to the Worst Fest this weekend!
· Why on earth would you go to the Worst Fest? That sounds terrible.
~ Not the Worst Fest, silly, the Wurstfest.

Don’t you want to go to the Wurstfest, too? This is the 50th Annual Wurstfest and it promises to be the worst wurstest of them all. It’s running this evening through November 7th so there’s plenty of time for you to go celebrate German culture with music, the Tour de Gruene Bicycle Classic, and other events like the Circle Arts Theatre staging of Harry Potwurst and the Order of the Opas (I’m pretty sure J.K. Rowling hasn’t given her blessing to that adaption but it’s all in good fun, right?).

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Today, two of my favorite blogs collided. Tsh Oxenreider of Simple Mom was interviewed by Gretchen Rubin on her blog The Happiness Project.

I finished Gretchen's book, of the same title as her blog, about a month ago and it made (and is still making) a huge impact on me. I need to devote a whole post to it once I can get the words right. I may need to read it again before I write a post. Which is kind of a big deal because I rarely re-read books.

For now, go check out those two blogs if you don't already have them on your daily reading list.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Aquariums? Really?

Today, my favorite little house feature in the New York Times includes a house in Austin.

A house with an aquarium in not just the master bedroom above the bed but also in...

Wait for it...

The kitchen.

That's weird, right? It's not just me who thinks it's weird to stick a couple aquariums in an otherwise gorgeous house.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Let's Talk Turkey Tuesday

For my birthday we tried two new restaurants.

First up, La Condesa for brunch.

I'm sure you gathered yesterday that the key word for my birthday is awesome. And La Condesa was awesome.

Christian and I both had the huevos chilangos because house-made wild boar chorizo with poached egg, arugula, quinoa croquette and avocado salsa sounded too darn good to pass up. If you live in Austin, go. Eat this. This Saturday. If there are two of you, just order one, though, because this thing is huge. The only thing I wish was different is that they would just sprinkle the arugula on top at the end so it would maintain the crispness and flavor. As it is now, it's in the middle of everything else and you don't really get to enjoy the wonderful fresh peppery arugulaness enough.

For my birthday dinner, we went to Parkside. This dinner was heartbreaking. Everything we ate - the garlic shrimp with smoked paprika (much spicier than you think it's going to be), the marrow bones, the pork jowls with polenta, the brussel sprouts and the fries - was awesome.

But, there was a little miscommunication in the kitchen about when everything was supposed to come out and we got the pork jowl entree at the same time as the huge marrow bone appetizer. A word of warning: trying to eat that much meat product in a very short amount of time so your food doesn't get cold (even though it's not your fault there's all this food on the table at one time) isn't a good idea. At all. It made us a little sick. So, we couldn't even finish the marrow bones, which was incredibly sad because marrow makes me happy. And, we didn't have dessert, also incredibly sad because I love dessert and they are supposed to make awesome sweet stuff.

Our waitress and the manager were very nice about the whole thing and took the marrow off our bill and gave us a gift card. We'll go back and give it another shot.

Image via the La Condesa website.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Awesome Birthday

Saturday was my 28th birthday. And it was freakin' awesome.

My awesome husband took me shopping for 8 hours. And bought me some awesome new clothes. And shoes. And jewelry. And fed me some awesome food (more about that tomorrow).

Here are some highlights of the awesome awesome clothes I got.

Wightwick Manor Dress from Anthropologie. Can't wait to wear this with my wide brown belt. I'm still undecided about whether boots will be too much with it. What shoes would you wear?

Tweedy Leaves Dress also from Anthropologie.
So cute. I can't wait until it's under 90 degrees here so i don't feel like a crazy person wearing something that has a wool skirt.

Hot hot pencil skirt from J. Crew (my name for it, not theirs). Isn't that color just awesome?

Some TOMS. I'm dying over how comfortable these shoes are.

That's only a small percentage of all the stuff I scored. I had some major coupons, we found some great sales and my closet is looking a lot fuller.

Awesome birthday.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Weekend Activities in Austin

  • There are a couple very important birthdays happening this Saturday (MINE MINE MINE), including the Draught House’s 42nd. Their party is an all day affair running from 1:00PM to 10:00PM with plenty of beer, food and music. Don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs! Seriously, don’t forget them. There are sure to be a ton of people at this thing and you don’t want to be stuck sitting on the payment.
  • Now, to stick with the beer-related activities, Austin Beer Week starts on Sunday. Beer Week will feature 30 happy hours, 9 dinners, 19 beer and food pairings and a whole lot more. There will be 107 events total in this week of hops and barley. You can even head back to the Draught House on Sunday for the 1st Annual Beer Olympics. Don’t forget your lawn chairs!
  • We’re just a little over a week away from the best candy night of the year so it’s time to start ramping up the Halloween activities. First up, the Halloween Children’s Concert put on by the Austin Symphony at the Long Center on Sunday. In addition to the spooky music, everyone is encouraged to wear their costumes. And you know your kids are just dying to wear their costumes already. And, let’s face it, you are too.
  • To really get in the Halloween spirit (hehe, spirit), you’ll need a pumpkin. So, head out to Evergreen Farms for their Pumpkin Hunt. Not only can you get a great pumpkin to take home and carve into the Star Wars character/death star of your choice, but they also have a real pumpkin hunt where you can take a wagon ride into the Christmas tree fields to search for mini pumpkins that are hidden in the trees. There are also activities like a pumpkin launcher, pumpkin golf and pumpkin spinner. I have no idea what any of those are, but they sound fun, right?
  • Want something spooky? Pioneer Farms has a Haunted Trail that includes a walking tour with fortune tellers, ghost stories around a campfire, and even headless horsemen. The trail is only open this Saturday and next Friday and Saturday from 7:00 to 10:00PM. The scarecrows were already all booked up the other nights with Jazzercize and underwater basket weaving classes.
  • Arthouse at the Jones Center is having an extravaganza of reopening events this weekend. That’s right, construction is complete and they are ready to show off their new space, which sounds amazing. There’s a super fancy (with corresponding super expensive ticket price) celebration tonight, but I’m looking forward to the Public Reopening Party on Sunday. That one offers free admission, plus part of Congress right by Arthouse will be closed that day and there’ll be some yummy trailers on hand.
  • You'll notice that I'm a little obsessed with all the home tours that go on in Austin. My obsession perpetuates because I always forget about a home tour I heard about and want to attend until I’m writing my Friday Thoughts and realize I’ve already scheduled something that I can’t get out of so I’m missing yet another one. So, yes, I’m talking about another home tour. Sunday is the 7th Annual Downtown Living Tour. This tour is a chance to see some of those fancy downtown condo and loft buildings. Sadly, it does not include the Austonian. Or an explanation of why that building is named the Austonian since Austinites don’t refer to themselves that way. Also, sadly, I will miss this one because we're meeting my mom for a birthday lunch.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Let's Talk Turkey Tuesday

We're not actually going to talk about turkey. One of my 30 Before 30 resolutions is to try 30 new (to me) restaurants or trailers and I love food, so I'm now dubbing Tuesdays "Let's Talk Turkey Tuesdays" AKA let's talk about food I've eaten recently.

Since I made my 30 Before 30 resolution, I've tried one new restaurant: Foreign & Domestic.

I'd been wanting to try it ever since it opened but we just hadn't made it down there. I'm super happy we finally did - it's good stuff.

We had the gruyere popovers, the lardo and I had the mac and cheese for my entree (they had a fancy name for it "ditali and cheddar").

The only part of the meal I was a little disappointed in was the lardo. I had it really built up in my mind, which I totally blame Anthony Bourdain for given his constant praising of lardo. I thought it was going to taste like the best bacon fat I'd ever had in my life, but it didn't. It was still good, and it was still really rich, but just not the scrumptiousness I dreamed about.

The ditali and cheddar, on the other hand, was totally amazing. They use a mild white cheddar (always the way to go), put in oxtails and top the whole thing with a soft egg. Pure heaven. If you get it, don't look at the portion size and scoff as I did. It's plenty.

Sadly, we didn't get to try dessert, which was disappointing because they had a bacon root beer thing that sounded right up my alley. But, we'll save room next time. Clearly, we're totally going back.

Added bonuses: great service, cool space and decor, yummy drinks.

(Image via Foreign & Domestic website)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Do You Want to Live Until You're 100?

Then check out this article in the New York Times today: Secrets of Centenarians.

Something that really stood out to me - studies show that optimists live longer than pessimists. Yet another reason to strive to live a happier life (which I'm currently working on). Of course, if you're going to live until you're 100, it'd be much more fun to be happy for most of those 100 years than downtrodden, right?

A lot of the comments were very harsh. But, I can't agree with them. I don't see anything wrong with reading a story in the Times (every once in a while) that reminds us all to live full lives and to live them positively.

I'm sounding a little Pollyanna right now, huh? What can I say, I had a good day and reading about a 100 year old woman who still does yoga in the morning and corresponds with all her grandkids fits my mood.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Anniversary Traditions (update)

I just realized that I never updated how Christian and I did on executing the traditional anniversary gifts: paper for the 1st year.

Well, I think we did pretty darn good.

I got Christian four cookbooks: Momofuku (we had our first real date at Momofuku Noodle Bar), Chanterelle and Staff Meals from Chanterelle (we had our six month dating anniversary there; sadly it's now closed), and The Foods of the Greek Islands (our honeymoon was in Lindos, Rhodes).

I gotta say, before the day, I was totally impressed with myself. Christian loves to cook, loves new cookbooks and those cookbooks all have great meaning for us. He was totally thrilled with them but I feel like his presents blew mine out of the water.

My "card" was actually a beautiful album he made for me on, which made me cry like a baby. (My cards for him were from Target, btw.) And he got me the beautiful Frank Gehry heart pendant necklace from Tiffany seen above. Currently, it's off getting the chain lengthened because it was a little too short. I can't wait to wear it once it's back. What a show off.

Next year will be cotton. A little less than 50 weeks to figure that one out.

P.S. We also had an out of this world dinner at Uchiko here in Austin. That place probably deserves its own post.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Weekend Activities in Austin

  • This weekend is the Texas Book Festival at the Capitol. There will be more than 200 authors on hand and it’s free for you to get up close and personal with them. If you’re really excited about a particular session, be sure to arrive early as it is first-come, first-served and you may not be the only one who wants to hear, for example, Joseph O'Neill. I also would like to hear him as Netherland was really interesting. By the way, his session is at 10:30AM tomorrow morning. Or is it? Maybe I’m just trying to throw you off track so you’re one less person I have to fight for a seat. How will you ever know? Oh right, I gave you the link to the schedule.
  • If running a marathon isn’t really your thing (too long and running shoes are so not fetch, after all), then the Stiletto Stampede for the Cure taking place tomorrow at the Hill Country Galleria might be more your cup of tea. The race starts at 10:00AM, it’s 100 yards and 2.5 inch or taller heels are required. This isn’t just an event for the ladies; guys, you can also run too. The 2.5 inch heel requirement still stands, though.
  • I was saying earlier this week that there are few things I will run for – like that last cute top in my size, if someone’s chasing me, etc. But, I would run to this next event, if necessary. The 7th Annual Lexington Chocolate Lover’s Festival is taking place this Saturday and will be held in the Lexington Town Square. Admission is free but there are fees for some of the tastings. Random activity also taking place at the Festival is the opportunity for your kids to “have a go” at milking a cow. There are also more run-of-the-mill activities for the kids like plinko and a bounce house (probably best to send them to the bounce house before they partake in all the chocolate tastings).
  • Don’t consume too much chocolate on Saturday because that night is a really cool dinner you won’t want to miss. Amanda Hesser, author of The Essential New York Times Cookbook, Edible Austin, & Farmhouse Delivery will be hosting a picnic, potluck style tasting as Austin Chefs prepare their favorite recipes from Hesser’s new cookbook. The list of participating restaurants/chefs is quite impressive and includes Eastside Café, Perla’s (their French toast is to die for, by the way), Paggi House and Takoba. Tickets are $35 each, the dinner will be out at Rain Lily Farm and you’ll need to bring your own blankets and chairs. All of it benefits the Sustainable Food Center.
  • On Sunday, Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop is celebrating its 2nd birthday. They’ll be providing the free cupcakes (big surprise) and Tito’s and St. Germain will be providing the free cocktails. Like any good birthday party, there will also be ice cream, music, face painting and prizes. There’s also talk of a cupcake cannon but I’ve yet to figure out what exactly that is. But, I’m pretty sure I would like to have one of my own. If anyone’s familiar with cupcake cannons, please enlighten me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We're all grown up and shizzle

Christian and I moved to Austin just over six months ago. Because we moved from Manhattan, we didn't move with much furniture. So, we've been adding necessary pieces as time's gone by. Dressers, a couch and a desk for Christian were the first priorities because I wasn't keen on having our clothes on the floor, sitting on the floor to watch TV, or having poor Christian work on the floor.

As I mentioned before, our dining room has basically been Senor's playland all this time. Well, that finally came to an end on Sunday. That's right, we actually got a dining room table and chairs! And Christian took some pics of them with his iPhone and his Hipstamatic app thingymajig.

The table is the Bjursta from Ikea (a little tricky to put together because it's expandable), we found the chairs at the Crate & Barrel outlet (where I almost had a minor breakdown when the clerk mistakenly told us they didn't have four), the rug is from my favorite place in the whole entire world, Target, we got the bowl on our honeymoon in Greece, and the pitcher is from Anthropologie and was a wedding present from my best friend.

I'm ecstatic over this. We've already had three dinners and a breakfast at this table. All of them were wonderful. Plus, this means when we have friends over for dinner, which we like to do a lot, everyone can actually sit in real chairs instead of sprawled out on the couch and floor cushions.

Surprisingly, The Paws is handling the eviction pretty well. She's very excited about the new placement of her tunnel, which gives her optimal opportunity to attack Christian and me as we walk by.

Monday, October 11, 2010

30 Before 30

I'm turning 28 on October 23 (less than two weeks away - still plenty of time to shop!). With only two more years before I turn 30 (whoa), I thought I would make a 30 Before 30 list. I've seen these on other blogs before and always thought it was a cool idea. So, here's the full list. Some of these are stretch goals, some not as much.

  1. Learn Photoshop
  2. Turn my interest in photography into a real hobby
  3. Make our wedding photo album
  4. Get new pro photos taken of Christian and me (maybe a trash the dress session for me)
  5. Take a rock climbing class (I've already started on this one)
  6. Go kayaking
  7. Establish an exercise routine
  8. Beat Christian at Trivial Pursuit
  9. Cook a Thomas Keller recipe
  10. Eat at the French Laundry or Per Se
  11. Try 30 new (to me) trailers or restaurants
  12. Go on a picnic
  13. Go on the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory tour
  14. Go to Las Vegas
  15. Travel outside the U.S. at least once
  16. Go to Santa Fe Fiestas
  17. Take a roadtrip
  18. Go see at least one Ballet Austin performance
  19. Read 130 books
  20. Take a class - jewelry, language, something
  21. Figure out my 401(k)
  22. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity (this may turn into volunteer for the Austin Public Library because my home improvement skills have been sucking as of late)
  23. Re-learn how to make my Grandma's taffy
  24. Get our apartment in order and get rid of excess stuff
  25. Keep a houseplant alive
  26. Pay for the person behind me in the drive-thru
  27. Learn how to knit something other than a basic scarf
  28. Get a tattoo
  29. Get a dog
  30. Make a career plan (3 year)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Anniversary Traditions

I've talked before about how much Christian and I love establishing new traditions.

Well, tomorrow is our 1 year anniversary (has it already been a year since the best day of my life?), so we're starting to establish some anniversary traditions.
  1. Our welcome dinner (we didn't need to rehearse anything since we got married at City Hall) was at a pizza place below our old NYC apartment. So, each year the night before our anniversary we're going to have pizza for dinner. I think this tradition will be a big hit with the kids (once we have them and they're old enough to eat pizza, of course). Tonight, Christian's making the pizza which is very exciting because I love love love his pizza.
  2. Every year we'll also watch our amazing wedding video as well as this awesome video Christian's best friend made with footage he shot of us answering Newlywed Game-style questions.
  3. We'll take pictures. That's a given.
  4. We're also trying to follow the traditional or modern interpretation of the traditional wedding gifts for at least part of our presents to each other. The first anniversary is paper (traditional) or a watch (modern). Tomorrow morning, which is the designated present time, we'll see how we did.

Weekend Activities in Austin

  • The American Institute of Architects Austin is having its 24th Annual Homes Tour this Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 6:00pm each day. You can look all you want at the 12 houses but be sure to leave your camera at home; any photo taking will get you booted.
  • Yes, it is officially October, which means Fredericksburg is having its 30th Anniversary Oktoberfest this weekend. Key events, in addition to all the eating and drinking, include the parade around MarktPlatz today at 5:25pm, the chicken dance block party around the square on Saturday at 9:45am (sharp!, according the site), and a 42 Tournament on Sunday (if you’re like me and have never heard of a 42 tournament, it looks like from my intensive 30 second Google search that it’s a dominos tournament). Additionally, I will neither confirm nor deny reports that I started doing the chicken dance on my treadmill yesterday afternoon when I heard about Saturday’s activity.
Wait, did you just click that link thinking it was going to be video of me doing the chicken dance?
  • The 2nd Annual Austin Teen Book Festival is this Saturday and it sounds really cool. Like, you should definitely go. Especially if you have a teen who likes to read. The main goal of the day is to connect teens with authors of books written for teens. You and/or your teen can get books signed as well as attend all the free panels with various authors. Since this is an event for teens, seating preference will be given to teens at those sessions. There’ll also be Amy’s Ice Cream (we all know I love any event involving Amy’s), a photo booth (also love me a photo booth, especially when it’s free like this one is) and live music.
  • OK, only one more festival, I promise. I can’t leave this one out because it sounds like it involves really yummy food. Tonight and tomorrow night head over to 408 East 11th Street for the Saint Elias Mediterranean Festival. Stop on your way over at the Twin Liquors to pick up the $5 tickets so you won’t have to wait in line at the gate. Austin Chronicle ranks this as one of Central Texas’ Top 10 Food Festivals so be sure to bring your appetite. You’ll be treated to Lebanese, Palestinian, Greek, Eritrean and Romanian food as well as music and dancing. Don’t stay too late, though. Remember, you need to be up early tomorrow to get to the chicken dance in Fredericksburg at 9:45am.
  • ColdTowne Theater is raising money for a new space and their latest effort to bring in the funds is a 24 Hour Sketch Brawl. Tonight, they’ll be giving 8 teams a string of suggestions and guidelines for their improv shows and tomorrow night those teams will all take the stage and battle it out to see who created the funniest routine in a mere 24 hours. If you like comedy or improv, this sounds like a cool way to spend a Saturday night.
  • Now, have you ever wanted to own your own pub or brewery? I know you’re nodding yes (and probably doing the chicken dance). Well, now’s your chance. You can become an owner of the Black Star Co-op Pub and Brewery. This new co-op is located at the intersection of Lamar and Airport (that new Midtown Commons) and is now open. While you don’t have to be a member/owner of the co-op to eat and drink there, it’s probably the most economical way to fulfill any fantasies you might have of being a restaurateur (AKA the hardest word to spell EVER – why does the poor ‘n’ just disappear?).
  • Oh, and I think there’s something big happening in Dallas this weekend. Cross your fingers Horns fans. And your toes. And your kids’ fingers and toes. And if you see a stranger who doesn’t have their fingers and toes crossed, cross theirs for them too.