Friday, January 25, 2013

Town Lake East

Town Lake, or I guess it's Lady Bird Lake these days, is an iconic "Austiny" thing. It runs right next to downtown and is fairly scenic. Plus of course there's the trail. We live near Town Lake and visit frequently. But we'd never been to the eastern end (the butt if you will). It's definitely not the glamorous side that you see in Austin postcards, it's the end of the lake before it goes through the dam and becomes the Colorado river again.

The weather was great Wednesday so Brendon and I decided to explore this uncharted (for us) Town Lake territory a bit.

Pardon the black and white, someone was disregarding her white balance.

Yummy trash. While standing on the dam and leaning over to take this shot, Brendon was losing his cool. He was worried about me falling off. Not an outlandish worry, given my unstable qualities, but a little overkill. He's sweet sometimes.

I'm a little attached to the Colorado river and it's many forms, since I see it everyday. I work next to Lake Travis, drive over Lake Austin everyday, and live near Town Lake. I like living near water. Growing up in New Braunfels there was always a river nearby and here we are surrounded by lakes!

Although this east end of the lake isn't as classically "pretty" as the rest, I enjoyed it. It's still beautiful, in it's own quirky way. I mean, that's what Austin's about, right?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Burgundy Mushrooms

For Christmas my momma got me this awesome cookbook, the Pioneer Woman Cooks. It's yummy stuff, y'all. Delicious home cooked goodness. Recently we made the Burgundy Mushroom recipe. It was actually a long while in the making. I tried to make it one evening a couple weeks ago and upon closer inspection of the recipe I realized it takes NINE HOURS to cook. NINE! So you've got to start this baby early. I started ours at like 9am. And it made our apartment smell divine all day.

Now here's a bunch of shots of mushrooms:

Crazy how dark they get, huh? Aside from the length of time it takes to cook, it's a super easy recipe. You just throw it all together and let it do it's thing. And it's pretty dang good. We served it over egg noodles, the sauce is super rich and delicious. My only complaint was the mushrooms were pretty salty and I didn't even add "salt to taste" at the end. I blame it on the bouillon cubes, next time I'll cut that number in half. Also I had to improvise a bit; it calls for a LITER of red wine and I only had a 750mL bottle, so I made up the rest with... beer. Because that's how I roll. Beer in everything.

So if you've got 4 pounds of mushrooms, a big old bottle of red wine, and nine hours to spare, I highly recommend this recipe! Mushroom it up, y'all!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 4 - Everyday Chocolate Cake

First of all, lets welcome my dear camera back into our lives. My sweet momma shipped me my battery charger this week! Thank you mom!! It feels so great to have it back.

This week's baked goodie was a simple, but delicious, chocolate cake. It is Deb's Smitten Kitchen Everyday Chocolate Cake, a recipe I've had my eye on for a while. If it has chocolate in it I'm usually interested. And it's described as an easy one bowl wonder and I'm all about that. The less dishes the better!

It turned out great! And it really was super easy. I threw it together while cooking dinner, and just popped it in the oven after our meat and veggies were done roasting. Pretty excellent timing. And it was yummy. It's rich and fluffy and has a kind of chewy brownie outside. We enjoyed it with whipped cream and berries as suggested and it was awesome. Also, do you see how DARK that cake is?? While making this recipe I learned that there is a difference between regular cocoa powder and dutch chocolate powder. This is the first time I've used the latter, and it's quite different in taste and, obviously, color. Who knew?

Once again, our tummies thank you, Deb. This bad boy is going into my repertoire of quick, easy, and delicious desserts for sure.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 1, 2, and 3

A few of the blogs I follow are doing a treat or a cake a week, for the entirety of 2013. I started doing this as well on accident (I like dessert okay?), but I really like the idea so I'm continuing with it. Not necessarily always "baked" items, there are some yummy no bake pies and cookies out there, but just yummy things in general. Baking just tends to be my bread and butter. Pun slightly intended.

The first three things were baked on a whim before I decided to embark on this year of yummy-ness. First I made chocolate banana bread (because we had brown bananas hanging on our counter, this is the recipe I always use, I just add chocolate chips), then I made Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies (Ahem, it was a Christmas present. And before I got snotty and baked everything from scratch I swore by that little red box. Turns out my scratch brownies are better!), and this week (today) I made these Mini Morsel Shortbread Squares:

These things, y'all. SO easy. Like ridiculously easy. Just a few ingredients, one bowl, and one pan (and you don't even grease it). And they are GOOD. Eat them warm. And try to just eat one, betcha can't. I stumbled across the recipe on accident. I was planning on making chocolate chip cookies when I noticed I got mini-chocolate chips instead of regular, then I spied this recipe on the back of the bag-o-mini-chips and decided to try it. It was meant to be. Way to go Nestle, it's a winner.

I'm excited to keep up with this little weekly baking challenge. Documenting it all will be fun and now that I am aware of what I'm doing I can plan ahead and get creative! Usually when I bake something it's just thrown together out of whatever I have laying around because I'm craving dessert. This will obviously still make up the majority of the weeks, but I'll try to pull off some fancier things too. Honestly, it sounds pretty easy because well, I love to bake and eat yummy things do it a lot already. But 52 baked things is a lot. And I'm going to try not to do repeats. I welcome any recipes you recommend!

Wish me luck and happy baking! Hopefully I don't gain 200 pounds by the end of the year.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A cup of tea and the motorcycle diaries

Here's a cup of tea. Because I feel like a post without a picture is sad and univiting.

I apologize for the quietness here on the blog. Not only am I still without my life documenter (I will one day acquire a battery charger!), but my life has been relatively uneventful lately.

Brendon started school again this week, which means that our sweet month without pharmacy school has ended. I have been working like a dog as usual, but I am by no means complaining. I've been working like crazy (a 40 hour work week, whats that?), and down time hasn't been suiting me lately. I should be exhausted but I never can seem to relax, I am always wanting to go go go. It will catch up with me eventually I'm sure, no one can run on 5 hours of sleep a night forever (or can they??), but at the moment I'm loving the hustle and bustle of my little life. The fuller the better.

Other things going on, Brendon has started riding Darth Vader, aka our little motorcycle. Shall we delve into why I am not riding it? Why not! I had all the intentions in the world of being an accomplished motorcycle babe... until I laid that puppy down. On top of me. Oh you didn't know that happened? LETS TALK ABOUT IT. Because for a while I didn't want to. Because it sucked. But I'm okay with it now.

So I embarked on my first commute on the bike. I was heading to work at like... 6am? All started out well. I was coming up to a light that was green and rushed so I would make the left turn. Rushing = bad. Rushing + turning = REAL bad. I went into the turn going way too fast, and did exactly what you shouldn't do, I braked. I turned to wide and hit the gravel in the shoulder and WHOOSH, the bike slid out from under me, fell over, and we slid together for a few feet. As it was all happening I was like DAMNIT DAMNIT DAMNIT I KNOW BETTER WHY AM I A FOOL? I ended up in the shoulder, chillin' with the bike on top of my left leg. But I was okay. I planned on picking the bike up and continuing on. Until I couldn't pick the bike up. That bike weighs 350lbs and I weigh a buck and some change. It weighs over three times as much as I do. I found out the hard way that I cannot lift 350lbs.

So there I was, laying in the shoulder, on an overpass, in the dark, with a bike stuck on me. Luckily someone stopped and helped me lift it up. I got back on it and drove it home. While sliding I had bent the shifter so it was stuck in 3rd. I have no idea how I drove it all the way home in third, but I did. So I get home, wake up Brendon, and then notice that, oh hey, my left boot is ripped up. Oh hey, my pants are ripped. Oh hey, ROAD RASH. I tore my leg up. It was gross. I cleaned it and covered it with band aids and went to work. Brendon fixed the shifter (because he's amazing? he also installed new blinkers, this guy is too good at life). My leg was jacked for a long while. I limped for weeks. My knee, ankle, and foot swelled up like a mother and the bruising was awesome. This was in September. My knee is still tender and has an excellent scar. DON'T EVER RIDE A MOTOR CYCLE WITHOUT PROPER GEAR. Oh my god I cannot imagine what damage would have been inflicted had I not been wearing gear. My ankle would probably have disintegrated.

I've ridden the bike since, but the fact that it is a few hundred pounds heavier than me scares me. So I've admitted defeat, for now. I liked riding it but I think I am just a little too small. So Brendon got his license over the break and he inherited Darth Vader. And he is a natural of course because he is good at everything. He's been riding it to work and school (primo parking!) and he loves it. At first I was nervous and scared (who am I kidding, I still am) but he's smart and he's strong and he can handle it. But if someone so much as thinks about running into him I will be out for blood. WATCH OUT CARS OF AUSTIN, my husband is on the road on a little black bike and he's important.

Maybe I'll get a vespa. Or I'll settle for a new car with good gas mileage and AC.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cutting of the hair

I am rather attached to my hair. I have a lot of it and I like it for the most part. After chopping (almost) all my hair off a few years ago I mourned the loss of my long locks (although they were seriously fried and needed to go badly) and now that I have them back, I want to keep them.

However much I may not want to, I still need a hair cut now and then. It's been about a hair cut every 8 months since we moved to Austin (cut 1 and cut 2, I have a thing for blue shirts). Any longer and my hair starts to look seriously ragged and dragging a brush through it starts to hurt. So today I mosied on down to Birds Barbershop and chopped off some dead weight to avoid looking like a dirty hippie.

Hey look, it's that tiny camera!

Before and after. My stylist said she took off an inch and a half but looking at this picture, length-wise, you can't really tell. She did put in hella layers, I feel like my head weighs at least 3 pounds lighter. It was basically almost all one length before, aside from my grown out bangs. It was kind of nice because when I braided it a million pieces didn't stick out everywhere, but it also was very very heavy. And the ends were horrendous and would create this giant frizzy tangled mess since all the ends were chillin' together. Now I've got all kinds of layers and it feels super short to me. I know it doesn't look much shorter but it feels way shorter. And so instantly I never want to cut my hair again, as I always feel after a hair cut. Obviously that won't happen. I'll cut it again in 8 months or so.

My hair looks, feels, and is so much healthier and homegirl did an excellent job. If you need a haircut and are in Austin, I recommend Birds. It's super laid back and you get a complimentary Shiner! I went in the morning so I didn't have a beer, but I imagine it's nice. Beer usually is.

And for laughs on this lovely Friday (seriously, the weather is great, go outside Texans), here's this:

Boom, new facebook profile picture. Someone take that tiny camera away from me.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Lost without:

I have been without my sweet big camera since the Saturday after Christmas. I left my battery charger at my mom's house in New Braunfels and so, my baby has no life force. I've been a little lost without my camera to document my wild and crazy life. Joking, obviously. I just really wanted to take some pictures of my new Pyrex. Wild and crazy.

So to fill my photography void, today I busted out my little Canon PowerShot (the little guy who took all the pictures in the last post) to play around and was pretty amazed at how different it was from my rebel. Not that my rebel is the fanciest of cameras, but still, it's what I'm used to. I mean first off, that PowerShot is super small and so light. And I kept trying to look through the viewfinder and it just doesn't work that way. I'm pretty sure that viewfinder is on there for looks. It's too small to see out of. Although seeing and using the image on the screen is nice (apparently you can do that on my big camera too, you just have to change some setting and I don't know how/don't care). Also, going from shooting in manual all the time to whatever kind of auto setting that PowerShot has was extra weird. And it does not like taking pictures without a flash, and I avoid the flash like the plague when I can.

But I see the benefits. It's tiny and light and would be great to use for little snapshots on the go. I definitely see the upside of a little camera. I mean, it fits in your purse, y'all! But I guess I just use my phone for "snapshots" these days, the quality actually is pretty similar. However, the quality is world apart from my big camera. I just really don't like that you can't change the settings like you can with a DSLR, especially when you are shooting without a flash in artificial light (aka my terribly lit apartment).

BUT, it is extra easy to take these kind of pictures with a camera that weighs a few ounces:

There is chocolate milk in that tea cup.

I'm still a hella newbie when it comes to photography but I've gotten accustomed to my little big camera and I'm ready to have it back in action! I need to just buy a spare charger (and maybe a spare battery pack) because I lose everything. Always.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

That one time I went to New York, NY

Way back in March of 2009, my soon to be best friend Kristy and I went on a rather spontaneous trip to New York City. We worked together and I remember just hanging out one day when it was slow and she just kinda pitched the idea of going to New York for a weekend, probably half joking, and I said, sure! I had a little extra cash (oh the simple days of college!) and we had an excellent hook up on a free place to stay. So boom, Kristy, her friend Stacy, and I were off to New York.

We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria which was really swanky. I wish I had taken more pictures, it was so big and old and fabulous. I had never been to New York so I was basically in a constant state of "OMG LOOK AT ALL THIS" and it was awesome. Stacy and Kristy had been before and were excellent tour guides. Kristy was there for a while for school so she knew her way around the city. I can't imagine going without someone who knows their way around, it's so BIG!

I was a little obsessed with all the fantastic churches. They were everywhere, hiding in between modern skyscrapers, like a time warp on every block. I was also obsessed with all the art. We went to the MoMA, the Met, and the Guggenheim, I was in heaven. At the time I was in the midst of a slew of art history courses so it was kind of surreal to see the works of art we had been studying and writing papers on, in person. It was like seeing a movie star. I was ALSO obsessed with the Subway. And how everyone really did wear black. And the taxi cabs. Basically I was obsessed with New York.

Let's recap via a lot of photos. Excuse the quality, I was rolling with a little canon point-and-shoot back in '09.



Why yes, that IS me. Somehow. A much tanner, black haired version of me. It was a different time you guys. But my thing for firetrucks (firemen) hasn't changed:

On our way back we had a little layover and we took that tiny little plane up there from Houston to Dallas. I felt like the President, walking outside to my plane. But once we got inside, I did not feel like the President. That thing was tiny! 

Best trip to New York ever. One of my favorite trips of all time. It needs to happen again. Sooner rather than later! And because Kristy is so awesome, I leave you with this:

Let's go to New York again ASAP, Kristy!