View The Austin Gastronomist blog the traditional way– in reverse chronological order starting with the most recent post.
Today my allergies are awful. My face is itchy and my nose is dripping steadily and I really want to go home and lie in bed. I took all my medicines this morning, but the sneezing persists. Plus, I feel like I am getting a canker sore. And I didn’t really sleep well last night. Also, I am in a bad mood because the washer connections in my apartment leak. Rami was very kind and hooked up my washer and dryer last night. But instead of doing my inaugural load of laundry afterwards, we ended up trying to fix two very leaky old faucets that connect to the washer. I called the apartment’s emergency maintenance man and he is supposed to come this morning to take care of the leaks.
I have two pair of clean underwear left, so they’d better have it fixed by this weekend.
In order to balance the general malaise I am feeling, I think I should focus on something positive. Here are 10 positive things going on with me right now:
10. I got a new brush and as a resulft my hair is drying faster and with more volume.
9. Rami took me to dinner at III Forks last night to celebrate our monthiversary.
8. My mom is coming to visit me this weekend.
7. She will probably take me shopping at either IKEA or HEB.
6. I made a delicious pasta salad this week in my new kitchen.
5. Nathan (my work buddy) and I just finished a really fun photo shoot for UT’s saxophone choir.
4. It is currently September, my second favorite month of the year.
3. There are fresh blueberries and raspberries waiting for me in my fridge when I get home.
2. By this time next year, I won’t remember that I had allergies today or that my washer is messed up.
1. I ate pancakes for lunch.
Before I moved, I was a little worried about how my cat, Chloe, would react to the new apartment. She is an old girl, a rescue from Town Lake, and she’s had a rough life. Not that you’d know by looking at her. She is robust.
Chloe was angry and crying like crazy when we first got to the apartment Saturday night. Luckily I had anticipated her freak-out so I had some cheap canned cat food on hand. (Iams turkey dinner with gravy– her favorite.)
Once she ate some turkey dinner, Chloe was feeling much better about life, but she still seemed pretty disoriented in her new home. She cried for a lot of the night, so the next day I broke out the big guns.
I unpacked Chloe’s BFF, a large snail-shaped boot scraper my sister bought me for Christmas a few years ago. Chloe loved that snail when she lived at my college apartment, and it had been packed away at my storage unit for the last 18 months. Truthfully, I wasn’t really sure if Chloe would remember the snail after all this time.
She remembered. I took this picture about 20 seconds after I took the snail out of the box. I wish I could have recorded video of the reunion, because Chloe was chirping and meowing and purring so loud. The snail was indifferent.
Here’s how I found Chloe today when I got home from work.
Looking out the window, purring like crazy, alongside her friend the snail.
Next time someone tells me that animals don’t have feelings, I’m going to punch him in the face. Not really, but moments like this do make me wonder about Chloe’s former owners. The ones who had her declawed and then dropped her off at Town Lake Animal Center (the kill shelter here in Austin). I can’t think about TLAC or Chloe’s former owners for very long. No, it feels much better to spend time thinking about moments like this one, when Chloe is happy and I am happy and we are both grateful for a snail-shaped boot scraper.
Well, my luck with the free internet connection at my apartment ran out, so this is going to be short. I am blogging from outside a coffeeshop near my house which is currently closed. Luckily they leave their wifi connection up after hours, so I can sit in the dark at their patio table and do homework, check email., etc. It is a little creepy, but free is free, dangit.
My current MBA course is Managerial Economics and I really dig the topics we discuss. One of my assignments for this week was to find an article, blog post, or some other media that relates to a topic in the class and discuss it on our message board. I found this little gem from the Wall Street Journal:
Did you catch both booze puns in the article’s title? Even if the story had nothing to do with economics I would have used it for my homework just so I could post that headline. Luckily, the article explains some supply and demand concepts, demonstrates sunk costs, and relates intimately to this week’s class topic of extent decisions. Wall Street Journal, how I heart thee. You make my homework easy, punny, and interesting.
Plus, now I can be on the lookout for some bargain-basement-priced champagne this year. No way a 40% cut in production is going to offset this crappy economy’s effects on demand. Cheers!
Best things about moving to my new apartment
1. The hired movers carried everything heavy up the stairs. No damage to anything. Total moving time from storage unit to apartment was about three hours.
2. It rained all day, but my carpet still looks new thanks to the awesome adhesive carpet protector for sale at UHaul. I will probably purchase the carpet protector for the next move even if it’s not raining. Good thinking, Andy!
3. Rami, Beth, and Andy were great helpers.
4. We ate Rudy’s Barbecue all together for lunch after the heavy lifting was done. Creamed corn and extra moist brisket, how I love thee.
5. The ceiling fan in my new bedroom is really strong, allowing for maximum snugglage on my wonderful, pillowtop, full size bed.
6. I am currently blogging using a free internet signal. The connection is a little spotty, but I am so relieved to have some internet access until I spend the big bucks for RoadRunner.
7. Chloe (my cat) made the move A-OK. She was really angry during the car ride and subsequent minutes in her carrier, but then I fed her some canned cat food and it was like nothing happened. Now she’s asleep in the living room, purring.
8. All the boxes and furniture that were in storage are in great shape. A little dusty, but no moisture damage and no creepy crawlies. This is a huge relief since I did not visit the storage unit once during the 18 months I lived with Beth and Andy.
9. I have a kitchen! and a living room! and my own bathroom!
10. I can walk to Sun Harvest to buy groceries tomorrow. Or, if I haven’t unpacked my kitchen by then, I can walk to Starbucks for breakfast, Jimmie John’s for lunch and Zen for dinner.
Tomorrow is the big moving day! I am feeling very prepared: I rented the truck, the appliance dolley, a few dozen furniture blankets, and two burly men.
I wasn’t planning to hire help for my move, but I found some inexpensive, convenient movers from the website movinghelpers.com and decided at the last minute to splurge. Apparently this website partners with Uhaul (brilliant!) to offer folks who reserve a truck online the option of purchasing moving help. The quote for movers was unbelievably cheap–only $130 for two guys for two hours–so I am psyched.
The forecast for tomorrow calls for rain, but we are going to muscle through it and get this b**tch done by noon.
Then we are going to go eat barbecue at Rudy’s and watch the Texas game at Beth and Andy’s house at 2:30. I am planning to use the game time to tackle the gargantuan pile of laundry that’s growing in my bathroom. I hate to move dirty clothes, especially a nasty, huge pile of dirty clothes, to my new place.
Bonus points: I packed up my dresser this evening and moved all the contents of the drawers to my apartment already. Bummer: that means all my clean underwear and my deodorant are at my apartment already. Whoopsy.
I think these surveys are dumb, but I do enjoy reading my responses years later. And someone tagged me on Facebook. So here we are.
1. Who was your FIRST prom date?
I think his name was Brent. He had red hair. We didn’t kiss at the end of the night, and I don’t even remember what I wore. What a great prom.
2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love? We are friends on Facebook, but we don’t talk in real life.
3. What was your FIRST alcoholic drink? Tequila in College Station before a country music concert. I remember feeling warm all over and thinking, “oh my gosh, I hope I don’t get sick” after one shot.
4. What was your FIRST job? Teaching swimming lessons for Mr. Clark.
5. What was your FIRST vehicle? Dark green 1995 Chevy Blazer. Her name was Molly.
6. Who was the FIRST person to text you today? No one texts me. And don’t start, they cost me 25 cents a pop!
7. Who is the FIRST person you thought of this morning? Myself. I was looking in the mirror.
8. Who was your FIRST grade teacher? Peggy Ogden.
9. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane? I don’t remember for sure. It may have been to Hawaii for vacation when I was six years old. I do remember kicking the seat of the guy in front of me. He yelled at me, so my mom and I had to switch seats.
10. Who was your FIRST best friend and do you still talk? Ceren Unal. We are friends on Facebook, but we don’t talk in real life.
11. Where was your FIRST sleepover? Ceren’s house. We had a snow-cone stand and made like $6 that day.
12. Who was the FIRST person you talked to today? Myself. I was looking in the mirror.
13. Whose wedding were you in the FIRST time? My childhood babysitter, Lynette Books.
14. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning? Listen to “Morning Edition” on NPR. I would not be able to function without that show.
15. What was the FIRST concert you ever went to? Dallas Wind Symphony during my childhood. My first adult concert was Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in college in 2003. I saw John Mayer, Eric Clapton, BB King, Carlos Santana, and Jimmie Vaughan all jamming out together on stage. Amazeballs.
16. First tattoo? No tattoos.
17. FIRST piercing? No piercings.
18. FIRST foreign country you’ve been to? Ireland.
19. FIRST movie you remember seeing in the theater? The Little Mermaid.
20. FIRST Detention you had? No detentions. I play by the rules.
21. What was the FIRST state you lived in? Texas
22. If you had one wish. What would it be? This question doesn’t have anything to do with FIRSTS. I reject this.
23. What is something you would learn if you had the chance? See above.
Two of the things I will miss the most about living with my sis/bro-in-law are their cats, Sebastian and Skylar. Cats are fickle, so who knows whether Sebastian and Skylar will miss me.
I have a feeling Sebastian will miss me. I took this shot while he was laying on top of me on the couch this weekend. He is my Saturday morning cartoon buddy.
Then again, Sebastian will lay on top of pretty much anything to take a nap.
He loves to lay on top of the cushions while I sit in our chair. Since I’m leaving it will probably become his chair. Still, I think he’ll miss me (or at least my body warmth and willingness to scratch his chin).
I’m not so sure about Skylar. It took her about six months to come into the same room as me after I moved in. Occasionally she will purr in my presence, but almost never long enough for me to take her picture.
To get her to pose for this shot I had to stuff some stinky dog treats inside the toy, set it down, and wait for about two hours for her to settle near the toy and lay still. I got off about 12 shots before she lost interest and ran away.
I should mention that Skylar has the softest fur I’ve ever felt. It’s silky and soft, and one of the most comforting things to touch in the world. She may not miss me, but I will definitely miss her.
Remember Napster? I do. I was in high school during the Napster revolution, and during that time I got a little obsessed with downloading bizarre covers of familiar songs. I also got a little obsessed with the Beatles tune “Blackbird”. Plus I got kind of obsessed with my then-boyfriend.
One night in 11th grade I stayed up until 3 AM making him a mix CD with 16 different covers of that song.
That sounds a little crazy now.
I probably should have just kept that mix CD for myself.
Anyways, I miss Napster. I miss the Beatles. I miss staying up until 3 AM discovering bizarre, awesome music. In tribute:
Does the ability to limit myself to four covers mean I am only 25% as crazy as I was when I was 16? I hope not.
Labor day kind of snuck up on me this year. I didn’t even realize that I had a three-day weekend until around noon on Friday, at which point I yelled “Praise the LORD!” and wiggled my feet with joy under my desk.
There are definite pluses to unexpected three-day weekends, namely the absence of ambitious home improvement projects and other planned activities. I did almost nothing productive this weekend, and I had a thoroughly good time.
On Friday night Rami and I went to see the Miro Quartet play an all-Bach concert at UT. The concert was so wonderful and inspiring; I highly encourage all my friends in Austin to try to see Miro perform at least once! After the concert Rami and I went to Blue Dahlia Bistro for cheese and wine. It was (as usual) delicious and reasonable. An aside: UT changed its evening concert start time this year to 7:30 PM, up from 8:00 PM. At first I was annoyed because it can be tricky to eat dinner before a concert that begins at 7:30. Now I am psyched about the change because it means that most concerts will conclude by 9:30 PM, leaving me plenty of time to make it to one of wine bars near campus before the doors close at 10:00 PM. Win!
Saturday was wonderful. My sister made breakfast tacos and mimosas, which we consumed while watching college football. I did not move from the couch until 4 PM, when I got up to cook dinner before the UT game. My brother in-law smoked a brisket and I made blue cheese-stuffed bacon wrapped dates and baked beans. Katie and Rami came over, and the five of us watched UT kick some LaMo butt on Saturday night. I am so excited about UT football this year: Colt McCoy looks great, and our receivers seem stronger than last year.
I slept in until 9:00 on Sunday and took a nap from 12:00-2:00. After that I did some homework until dinner time, when Rami and I went to South Congress to hang out with Rami’s college friends Josh and Katherine. We ate dinner at Guerro’s and shopped a little on SoCo. Did you know that Big Top Candy Shop on South Congress has 30+ different flavors of saltwater taffy? Rami and I got 2 pieces of cinnamon roll, caramel corn, caramel mocha, and chocolate chip cookie flavored taffy, which we ate later that night while we were watching True Blood. For the record, the caramel corn was my favorite. Look for a whole post dedicated to salt water taffy coming soon.
I was sort of productive today (Monday). I slept in until 10:00 and then I made corndog casserole. We’re not eating it until later in the week, but I probably won’t have time to cook then, so I was working ahead. Around lunch time, my sister, bro-in-law and I put on our team colors and went to Chick-Fil-A for some free chicken sandwiches! It was packed, but the chaos was pretty entertaining since there were so many cute kids in UT outfits. After lunch we went to Ikea where I bought some bedding for my new apartment. I got a sheet set, pillowcases, a comforter and a quilt for under $100!! Tonight, Beth made blue cheese and onion sauce for some steaks that Andy grilled. We also ate corn on the cob and sauteed mushrooms.
See, with very little planning I managed to have a wonderful, relaxing labor day weekend, complete with 8 college football games, 4 pieces of saltwater taffy,29 hours of sleep, and about 200,040 calories.
In case you haven’t heard, I’m moving into my own place next week. I am super psyched about having an apartment, but the increase in rent means I will have about $200 less disposable income each month. Luckily I live in Austin, where there are lots of free things to do. These are some of my favorite free things to do in Austin!!
1. Watching the sun set over Ladybird Lake. Thanks to the Austin Trail Foundation, there is a well maintained walking trail around the perimeter of Ladybird Lake. I love walking a two mile loop in the evening and watching the sun set over the lake. The trail is dog friendly, so there is always great dog and people watching around the lake, and lots of benches where you can chill. Bonus: Run Tex provides free water at the Lake Austin entrance to the trail (near their south Austin store) and free trail maps at their website.
2. Eating free samples at Sun Harvest, Central Market, and Whole Foods. Not to sound chintzy, but sometimes I stretch out my weekend grocery shopping to include all three of these awesome stores just so I can maximize my sample-tasting opportunities. This allows me to purchase everything on special, too! The Central Market in central Austin (40th & Lamar) always has awesome produce and meat samples between 11 AM and 2 PM on Saturdays, and occasionally they have special events like the Hatch Chile Festival where the samples are even better than usual! Sun Harvest usually has samples of their prepared foods (chips, cookies, crackers) available on weekends, as does Whole Foods.
3. Looking at art at the Blanton. This is free for UT staff/students/faculty every day, and free for the general public every Thursday. Every Third Thursday of the month, they have special classes, Yoga, and meet-the-artist sessions which are free to the public. The Blanton is pretty much amazing, especially their collection of modern art and special exhibits. Here is my favorite painting at the Blanton. Look for it when you visit!
4. People watching at First Thursday on South Congress. It’s hard to go to South Congress without shopping at all the cute boutiques, but it is possible! Every first Thursday of the month all the stores on South Congress Avenue stay open until 10 PM; some have free live music and other activities. There’s inevitably a weird drum circle at the south end of SoCo and a really great vibe on the street. Lots of hippies, too. I usually tuck a snack and a bottle of water in my purse to help me fight the urge to buy food along the street. And whatever you do, DO NOT TAKE CASH to First Thursday. There are lots of cash-only street vendors who sell adorable jewelry and other handmade goods along SoCo. Having cash in your pocket makes it nearly impossible to keep this event free-of-charge.
5. Listening to concerts at the Butler School of Music. Almost all concerts at UT’s Butler School of Music are free for BSOM faculty/staff/students, but an enormous number of the school’s events are free for everyone. There is an event calendar on the school’s website where you can browse upcoming concerts and see which ones have free admission. Best bets include any doctoral recitals, which are always free to attend and feature professional-level players in most cases. Other awesome free groups include the UT Trombone Choir, Saxophone Choir, Concert Chorale, Bach Cantata Project, longHORN choir (a French horn ensemble), and the percussion ensemble.