Category Archives: Austin

hey little thing let me light your candle…

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Last night we went to the Black Crowes show at Stubbs.  I love Stubbs to start with…its a great outdoor venue and chill atmosphere.  We had bought extra tickets and were able to sell them for a profit! (Our tickets to the show ended up being like $15 with what we made!!)

After spending a lazy day watching Alaskan State Troopers and snoozing, this was our venture out of the house event.  The Black Crowes are just good quality southern rock.  I love the twang in the lead singer’s voice.  

The concert started out well–our thoughts were “this is a good time but won’t be on our top #5 list of memorable) and then Mother Nature changed our minds.  It was like the sky opened up and sent Austin all its rain.   We were soaking wet, dancing and laughing.  The other highlight was the 300-lb shirtless, beer belly guy who literally never stopped moving or playing his air guitar. 

Silly but the rain made the concert better.  We definitely won’t forget jamming to “Remedy” with soaking clothes and rain dripping down our faces.  It was one of those moments where I was truly happy to be alive and spending time with my BF/BFF Brad.  🙂

Here’s the before and after:

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cozies and crawfish

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cozies and crawfish

Lately I have been really into reading mysteries that involve food.  My two favorite series are Donut Hearts by Jessica Beck and the Savannah Reid mysteries by G.A. McKevett. I found out that this is an actual genre called “cozy mysteries.”   Cozies provide an easy mystery read set in small town America; I happen to also pick the ones that involve food.

The Donut Hearts mystery series is about a donut shop owner who always happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time: i.e. murders.   The author also conveniently provides recipes for donuts and sweets throughout the chapters.  Granted, the recipes all include gluten.  I decided to try a recipe and substitute GF flour, xantham gum and make some Easter beignets.

The dough was so sticky it was hard to manipulate and took a lot more flour than the 6-7 cups stated in the recipe.  I followed the guidelines on the Bob’s Mill Flour for using xantham gum but maybe it was too much.  Anyway, the beignets turned out more like cake donuts and didn’t have that light airy consistency you find in normal beignet mix.

I found it was easier to cut them with cookie cutters and make shapes rather than the traditional squares and added flour to be able to even pick up the dough.  For a first try, it was definitely edible and enjoyable.

For the afternoon, we had bought a Living Social for a crawfish boil at Corner Bar on Lamar in South Austin.  It’s a nice little neighborhood bar; they leave the doors open and let the breeze flow through.  Brad, our friend Eddie and I enjoyed their Sunday Funday happy hour ($2 mimosas, cheap beers and $5 Bloody’s) and racked up only a $20 tab for the three of us drinking for three hours.

It was my first experience with crawfish and I wasn’t sure how it would go.  I don’t particularly care for seafood.   Eating crawfish in itself is an art; both Brad and Eddie had their own crawfish-eating styles.  Unfortunately, they both said the crawfish was subpar: too small and not spicy enough per these Cajuns.  Eddie is from NOLA and Brad’s family is from NOLA, so I will take their word for it.  Good thing for me, however, was that meat, corn and potatoes are all gluten free and I could join in the fun.

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It’s CRAY CRAY!!

chill

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This weekend Brad and I were a little under the weather so we decided to downgrade our going out activities into some alcohol-free and low-key fun.

Saturday, we got up early to go to the 15th Annual Mighty Dog Walk down at Auditorium Shores. If it hadn’t been cold and semi rainy, I would have enjoyed it more. However, Riley was the happiest (and dirtiest) dog in Austin.

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Riley hates pictures and flash photography, thus this unhappy pose.

She immediately jumped in the river and then rolled in the dirt by the hike and bike trail. We raked in a lot of doggie swag for free. People were grabbing free dog treats like it was Black Friday shopping.

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Dinner was at The Pizza Bistro off Lake Austin Boulevard, thanks to a Living Social deal. We always jump on the pizza ones, especially when gluten-free pizza is touted.

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I ordered the gluten-free crust with half Marguerite/half West Coast.  The WC is olives, tomatoes, avocado and I liked it the best. I found the flavors to be bland, Brad said the same thing but we attributed it to our congestion and colds.  The crust was kinda spongy (?) and could have used some spices. We are going to have to return in better health for a more definite opinion, but overall it was decent.

We finished the weekend with a round of golf at Butler, which is like a mini golf course for adults. Brad even bought me my first pitching wedge from a resale shop (the only lefty one there). I don’t plan on becoming a serious golfer, mostly because I am highly competitive and get mean when I lose. Sorry baby! 🙂

Right now, some GF cinnamon rolls are in the oven and I am content with baking, blogging and hanging out with Brad while he watches March Madness.

For the cinnamon rolls recipe, visit Lauren’s Latest.

Miles of chocolate

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So after a long day of work (I work 12s at the hospital), I crave chocolate sweet desserts. Unfortunately, my schedule doesn’t lend to baking and most of the gluten free stuff is nasty pre-packaged.  Tonight I decided to head to Live Oak Market, a cool hippie market in South Austin, to grab some root beers to go with dinner (Virgil’s Root Beer is delish and GF).

I asked the store clerk if they had any gluten free brownies and he said I was in for a treat. I quote “the best brownie ever.” He pulled it out of the freezers because apparently they are “gooey and delicious” at room temperature.  My interest was perked so I didn’t mind the $2.39 price tag.

I warmed it in the microwave for 15 seconds and then bit into this little piece of heaven. You can’t even tell that its gluten free AT ALL. Worth every penny and apparently the store clerk was right when he said I would be back for more.

They are sold locally here in Austin, but an online shipping option is available at http://milesofchocolate.com/ The creator of these gooey, delectable treats is a Texan also. Win win situation: supporting local and delicious treats.

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My little piece of heaven today

Top and bottom 5 of SXSW

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My boyfriend is notorious for his “top and bottom 5” lists. Anything that sucks immediately gets called a “bottom 5” label.  Since SXSW ’13 is finally over, I thought I would assess the festival from a local perspective.

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TOP 5

1. Getting day drunk on Sixth Street with my boyfriend on a weekday. How often does that happen??

2. Free swag: water bottles, t-shirts, stickers, Starbucks cards oh my!!

3. Gluten-free beer and cheesy bacon waffle fries at Frank’s

4. People watching anywhere and everywhere. I know Austin is supposedly weird but I don’t think it was all us.

5. Auditorium Shores JJ Gray and Mofro on Saturday. It was a nice relaxing day, beautiful sunny and it felt like Austin. Good music, local vendors and food.

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Brad and I laying on the grass at Auditorium Shores

BOTTOM 5

5. ATM fees. Were. Outrageous. We had to search for the machine that charged $4. I know what do you expect? Still is insane to charge $7.95 to get money out.

4. I am not a hermit crab by any means, but eventually the sheer amount of people and stress of just walking down the street takes its toll on you. Alleys are awesome to avoid this we figured out.  And the city was totally trashed, it was almost a Bourbon feel by Friday.

3. Beer prices. Brad paid $4.50 for a Lone Star, let me repeat–for a LONE STAR.

2. Not getting to see Soul Rebels. 😦 They are one of the brass bands Brad and I always check out whenever they are playing. We figured “eh…no one will know about them. I should be able to get in as public and Brad with his wristband,” which brings me to “bottom 1″…..

1. Hierarchy/caste system of SXSW: This is certainly not a festival for normal people AT ALL.  Badges are first priority, then come wristbands, and we will let the plebeians in last for a fee.

I just had a much more romantic view of SXSW before I moved here. I imagined secret shows and seeing cool bands for free.  I find the festival fun but not for finding music (especially since I didn’t get to see much due to ridiculous lines) but for just hanging out in the daytime and taking in the sights and sounds in general.

no more (disposable) bag ladies

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March 1st.  That’s the date that the official bag ban goes underway in Austin and the day I have to start having a memory.

I happen to have about 20 of the reusable bags that I can’t ever seem to remember to bring in the store.  Usually on my shopping trips, I will start filling my basket with goodies and get halfway through the store before I’m like “dammit I left the bags in the car.”  And in my sloth, I cave and get the standard bags rather than parking my cart and running to my car.

The real question is: what is the money maker for this new ban?? What will be the invention that reminds even the spaciest, most forgetful consumers like me to remember to take the bags in? 

I’ve been brainstorming, hoping I could cash in, but so far I haven’t come up with any winners:

1. Fold-up bag that fits in your wallet–probably too hard to fold and would be super hard, I’m imagining origami to get the thing back in your wallet

2. GPS-type app–alerts you whenever you have arrived at a known grocery location or mall, can set reminders for your phone, it might work but I’m not tech-saavy enough to create this technology

3. Windshield sticker–like the kind you get when you get your oil changed but says don’t forget your reusable bags, low-tech, but I know how I become complacent to the “change your oil soon” reminders.

For now, I will just try to work on my pulling into H-E-B, grab my bags routine.  

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Where all my bags never leave, the back of my car. 🙂

For more information about the ban, check out http://austintexas.gov/bags.

Texas wine country

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Last weekend we headed out 290 toward Fredericksburg to celebrate our friend Rachel’s birthday. We stayed at the Exotic Resort Zoo, which proved to be rather interesting. The “resort” was a couple of cabins decorated with dinky animal print and weird elephant pictures, but that didn’t really matter.

Anytime you can get drunk and pet a donkey in the middle of the night, it’s a good time.  Outside the cabin area is a small petting zoo with donkeys, geese and deer who will walk right up to you. The best part however is the tractor/trailer tour (free if you stay at the resort). The animals are so domesticated they come running when they see the “meal wagon.”

I liked the camels best. They are calm, gentle and eat out of your hands. My boyfriend, Brad enjoyed pouring food into the Buffalo’s mouth. Overall, it’s a good place to have some barbecue, drink some beers around the campfire and relax. Only negative was the hot tub wasn’t working.

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Brad and our friend Zach feeding the buffalo

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But the weekend didn’t stop there, we took a quick run through Texas wine country on 290.  Here’s a quick rundown of the places we stopped at:

Grape Creek Vineyards:
http://www.grapecreek.com
High quality production, our guide was really friendly and knowledgeable, free glass if you did the tour also, tour includes looking at their cellars and trying from different barrels before the tasting. $30
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Favorite wine: Cabernet Blanc. Nice sweet strawberry taste and is palatable for non-wine drinker like me. Brad liked the Merlot and bought a bottle.

Pedernales Cellars
http://www.pedernalescellars.com

Definitely the place I enjoyed the least. They give a decent number of tastings and a free glass with tasting. The girl who was doing our tasting seemed annoyed with her job and didn’t provide the “experience,” which I think is half the fun. The redeeming quality was the beautiful views of Hill Country out on the patio and Moscato.

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Rachel with a giant bottle of their wine, probably not supposed to pick that up 😉

Favorite wine: Moscato, but mostly because we drank a bottle with Rachel’s heavenly birthday cake.

Woodrose Winery
http://www.woodrosewinery.com

This place was my favorite of the wineries!! First of all, you actually get to sit down to drink, which is awesome after standing all day. The tasting was in this old dance hall style room with wood floors and vaulted ceilings. Our guide and owner, Mike, was knowledgeable and efficient. I took the Sweet Flight, of course.  I even could tolerate the Port here, it was paired nicely with some dark chocolate. (The Port at Grape Creek was really overpowering for me).

Mike educated us on the tannins and how drinking a red wine in between bites of steak, for example, makes each bite taste like the first time.

Favorite wine: 2010 Sea Breeze. Sweet and fruity just how I like it. Brad purchased the Unfiltered Cabernet/Syrah.

By this time, we were all “wined” out and swung by the Garrison Brothers Distillery. They have a great hometown operation to make real quality Bourbon. Even my whiskey-hating self can tell it’s top notch. The tour is $10 and walks you through their process. It’s a small group who work together to make it happen.  The owner even signs and numbers every bottle. The atmosphere was exceptional: music playing, free beer and horseshoes before you even head to the tour.
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And of course, we ended the weekend like any good Texan would: stuffing our faces at Dairy Queen. 🙂

For more information on wine tours on 290, visit http://www.wineroad290.com.