Austin

I enjoyed visiting Austin. New experience. The weather was pretty much perfect. I drove up and down the highways getting lost during my shopping excursions and learned my way around town a little bit.

Among the most memorable things we did:
Olive oil tasting at Texas Hill Olive Country.
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Wine tasting
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The wines were great. It wasn’t really Austin wine since their grapes came from central California. That might explain why it was good though. We got a few bottles.

Hot sauce tasting at Tears of Joy.

Eating.
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We had breakfast tacos every day.

Enjoying live music.
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Shopped at Central Market. A huge grocery store that can only be described as a cross between Whole Foods and Wegman’s. It has everything you could imagine and more. Central Market had me envisioning living in Austin.

But it’s just a fleeting thought. Although I wouldn’t mind living there, it wouldn’t be my top pick. Food and mass transit being two of the bigger reasons.
As much as I say we have a dearth of good restaurants in this area, there are even fewer there. Their renowned bbq spot, Salt Lick was good.
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Look at all that meat! But we actually have some pretty good BBQ places here too. We weren’t blown away by Salt Lick. Food is pretty inexpensive though. Breakfast for 2, $10 (including tip). Lunch for 2, $20. Dinner for 2, you guessed it, $30.

Everything is fairly spread out. Even their “city” is fairly suburban. It’s very bike friendly but I’m not sure it’s realistically walkable. And although they do have a bus system, I don’t think it goes out very far and I wasn’t aware of any metro system.

They weren’t kidding about the live music though. We didn’t even have to really go out of our way to see it. Even on the streets, people were playing violins or guitars and singing. All in all, a fun weekend visit.

Post Lent Shopping

While planning my itinerary for Austin, I envisioned a big post-Lent shopping extravaganza – with the song Pretty Woman blaring in my head and my credit card named Richard Gere. It didn’t really work out that way. Part of it was because I’m a little out of practice and part of it was because everything was expensive. Austin’s food may be cheap, but their cowboy boots are not.

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These loud gaudy babies can be comfortable if you find the right pair. But when you find the right pair and they’re $275, suddenly, they’re now the wrong pair. In trying a whole bunch out, I found Ariat’s to be pretty comfortable and US-made Frye’s were very very comfortable too.

So we made it back with 3 bottles of wine. 3 bottles of Austin-made hot sauce. And 3 pairs of socks.

Hurray for Good Friday!

Today marks the end of Lent. I have a gajillion things in my Amazon shopping cart in anticipation of this glorious day. So how did I do? I think it helped me curb my shopping habits. It started out hard but then got easier as I stopped thinking about it or even coming to appreciate how it forced me to think about all purchases. I’m finding stuff around the house I used once or twice or not at all. Stuff I didn’t really need even though at the time of purchase I really wanted it. So eventually I started looking for stuff to give away or just toss, which is just as rewarding. I think at least in the wake of Lent, I’ll be more judicious about the things I want to buy. Especially if it takes up space. So many wants, so little space.

Kimchee

Love me some kimchee. I eat it with everything. This weekend, I bought a jar of it and started dishing it out on my avocados and bam! A raw oyster came tumbling out of the jar. Then another and another. Holy cow. I did not sign up for oyster flavored kimchee. I like oysters on the half shell and I suspect these are “cooked” much like ceviche but essentially they’re raw. I was majorly bummed. I mean I’ll still eat the kimchee but they’ll be in dishes like cooked in soup and maybe stir fried with eggs or something.

Fermenting
So not to be deterred from getting some kimchee, I decided to make my own following this recipe. Only change I made was I added shredded carrots and daikon. It’s currently sitting on the counter fermenting away! The entire process was pretty easy. After a day it’s already forming tiny bubbles and tastes just the slightest bit sour. I may never buy oyster kimchee again!

Summer Weather in Spring

This weekend has given us a taste of summer with temperatures in the 80s. It seems too soon to be turning on the A/C so we’ve just been keeping our windows open. Breezy but still warm. If it feels like summer, I’m going to eat like summer – bean salads and pickled vegetables. I was tempted to get a watermelon at the grocery store too but it doesn’t seem like the right season just yet. Where are these watermelons coming from?

Tejas

I’ve never been to Texas. It’s such a Confederate state. Kinda’ scares me. Do I need to shop for Kevlar? Yipes! This coming from a Confederate state resident so yeah, I’m totally pot calling the kettle black. But I’m scared of the unknown. Ignorance does that. Gonna fix that next week though. Going to go and educate myself first hand about the second biggest state in the U.S. who somehow got a new drug supply for their death penalty even though the drug companies refused to sell it to them, so they won’t say where they got it from. One can only guess their shady ways. Guess the 6th commandment was lost to them somewhere in there. Political differences aside, I’m looking forward to taking in the local culture.

Ever since we booked the tickets, I’ve been reading up about places to eat. And shop (Lent is over soon!) and eat. And eat. Bbq! (So much for cutting back on meat.) Mexican food! And definitely a big helping of live music at the live music capital of the world.

Austin here we come! I promise not to come back with cowboy boots, a ten-gallon cowboy hat, and an obscene belt buckle.

The bi-annual clothing swap

Time to put away the winter sweaters and bring out the summer T’s. I know it might be still early yet but I’ll take my chances. In the process I’ve also packed away a bag of clothes that are ready to go to another lucky soul. It felt really good to purge. I could probably get rid of more stuff. I’ll see after this summer season what I end up wearing and what keeps ending up at the bottom of my dressers.

Garden

The weather is ready for the garden. I was going to abandon my garden this year and just go with house plants, but sometimes, the plants tell you what’s what. That’s exactly what the mint, chives, and oregano did. They sprouted. So I trimmed off least years dead growth and decided to keep em around another year. I tossed away the old oregano which didn’t make it.

Going Paleo

Part of the reason why I decided not to go vegetarian again for this year’s Lent is because I’m considering trying a Paleo diet. The quick and inaccurate description of it is eating meat and veggies and not much else. No beans, no grains, little fruit. Think of it as the Atkins diet, rebranded. Technically, I would hunt my meat or at least get free range grass fed but I think for purposes of simplicity I’m just going to be lax about the meat types. Because if I have to hunt my meat, Gina will be the first to go. For these past few weeks I’ve been minimizing bread and pasta to practice this new Paleo. The toughest part will probably be having to give up beans and beer and start cooking a lot more meat. I hope this doesn’t make me constipated.