Monday, December 28, 2009

Product Update


This new toy I got is so awesome, I just had to blog about it. You're probably trying to guess what it is. A new Macbook? No, not yet. Still deciding on that one. A new bike? No, don't be silly, I have enough of those (some that I don't even ride anymore). It's a vacuum! Haha, I know I know. You probably think I'm crazy, but let me tell you first. So a few months ago my friends were telling me about this cool vacuum called the Electrolux ErgoRapido that they had purchased. It's a $99 floor vac from Target (or wherever you want to get it) and it has a built in hand vac. I tried it over at their place, then after getting annoyed at the crappy floor vacs that I owned, I asked for one for Christmas. It's awesome. I have hardwood floors and I'm so impressed with this thing. First, the pivoting action on the front end is very nice, plus it rolls so smoothly and the suction is great. I use it on my area rug and it does a good job there too, but really it's for hard floors, not carpet. If you have hard floors (wood, tile, whatever) I totally recommend this thing.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas!


I had the most wonderful Christmas. I got to spend it with my parents and with Jeremy. After doing our family Christmas on the 24th in the am, we headed down to Houston for the meeting of the parents. Surprisingly it went really well. Everyone got along and they talked for hours. In fact we only played one game of apples to apples and the rest of the time they all just chatted away. I requested that Jeremy and I open our gifts alone in bed on Christmas morning, so Jeremy surprised me and brought in the little rosemary tree from the kitchen and put all our gifts around it. It was very sweet. In addition to other things he got me these two awesome gifts. First, a Mario Batali book. . I'm so excited to make all these dishes! Okay, well a bunch of them at least. Secondly, he got me this stoneware piece from pampered chef. It's a small stone plate and it's perfect for making bacon in the microwave. I know, I know, bacon in the microwave doesn't sound that great, but on this stone it comes out freaken awesome. Plus I'm sure you can make other yummy stuff on here. A great investment.

My parents got me a bunch of cool stuff including lots of Craftsman tools (which I desperately needed) and a reciprocating saw! Is it weird for me to be excited about this? They also sent me some flowers when they were in Hawaii. Here's a pic about some of them. Aren't they beautiful! They also sent me an orchid the week before. My house is now filled with all these beautiful flowers plus the rosemary tree and poinsettias from Christmas. My new years resolution is to keep them all alive as long as possible.

Finally I must show off some other cool stuff I got. First, I treated myself to a new knife for Christmas. It's a Ken Onion Shun 7" Suduko.












Also, I have to show ya'll these really cute spatulas from Williams Sonoma. My friends bought me this nice big one, because they know that I'd been looking for the small ones, which happened to be sold out all over Austin. It was really nice of them. (I have great friends). Then Jeremy found one small set (the only ones left in Houston) and got them for me (I have a great boyfriend too!).











Thanks to all my friends and my family and Jeremy for helping me have a wonderful Christmas. It was the best! Check out my flickr page for more photos of Christmas and dinner. But for now, I'll leave you with one more photo. These are the banana purses that I made for dinner last night. Mmmm, yummy!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Merry Christmas... 11 days and counting




The tree is up, the presents are wrapped, and the baking... well the baking has yet to be started. But it will be started soon! The unofficial baking list for this year includes chocolate chip cookies, mexican wedding cookies, peanut butter blossoms, kieffuls, cutout cookies, and butter cookies. Yesterday at the store I bought 8 lbs of butter, 56 oz of cream cheese, 48 oz of chocolate chips, a jar of peanutbutter, 10 lbs of flour, 2 bags of sugar, and a bunch of other necessities... oh yea 4 lbs of confectioner sugar! I'm so ready to bake! If you wanna help out stop by sometime this week after work... I'll be at home with the oven on!

Oh yea, here's a link to some of the Christmas pictures that Jeremy and I took this past weekend. I may try to touch them up in a little while, but for now, they're at least up. After taking pictures we went to this super awesome restaurant, Perry's Steakhouse. It's so delicious, I recommend ya'll check it out. Afterward we went over to Chelsea wine bar in Clear Lake and played some chess while we sipped on our wine. It was the perfect evening.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

MS150, Christmas Prep, Worlds Best Cake???


Wow so much to blog about, but I'll try to keep it short. haha, yea right.

So the MS150 is coming up again in April and once again I'm riding from Houston to Austin. I'm super psyched this year because three of my friends are riding with me, one of who is from Atlanta! Yep, Tanner's making the trip to TX just for this ride. I need to get my training on now! So this is also the first time that I post here about donating to this wonderful cause. Yea, I know it's Christmas and most of us don't have a lot of extra cash on hand, but I'm gonna post this now and then again each month until the MS150 :) No I don't have any cool prizes or awesome contests to run like these guys, but I do have a wonderful cause. Did you know just recently a pill has been designed specifically to treat Multiple Sclerosis? It's the first of it's kind. And it was developed through lots of research, research that is funded through donations like yours. Did you also know there is a study being done to link MS to the veins that drain blood from the brain? Yep, there is current speculation that symptoms of MS are brought about when the veins in the lower part of the brain start to collapse or become blocked and the blood drainage from the brain and the spinal cord is reduced. They don't know much yet if this is a symptom or cause of MS, but research is being done in Italy and in the US to try to reopen these veins in people with MS, and they are seeing amazing results. Really, breakthrough technology. These are just two examples of how MS Research is really going somewhere. So if you'd like to help out with my ride, and help me out in raising money toward fighting this disease please donate HERE. Everything helps, even the little amounts!

Can you believe it's almost Christmas already? Insane! Fortunately I have most of my Christmas shopping already done. However, the baking has yet to be started! This weekend it's time to go get the tree (yep, a real one), decorate it, and get ready for the family. Jeremy's house needs a lot of help before we're ready for company, so that's gonna be the weekend project. Next week will be cookie time! I'm hoping to make chocolate chip, drop a-pea's (butter cookies), cut-outs, peanut butter blossoms, mexican wedding cookies, and of course kiefuls! And lets not forget that it's Matt's birthday next weekend. Hum... I have some things in mind for that too :). And speaking of baking... I was recently sent this recipe for "the worlds best cake." Now, I'm not a huge chocolate fan, nor oatmeal, but it looks good enough to give it a try sometime. Plus I just like reading this guys blog, he's way funnier than I am. Check out that recipe HERE.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!


Whew, what a whirl wind weekend... or should I say week! Last week was great because Jeremy got to stay in Austin for half the week (and the previous weekend) and then we both went to Houston together on Wednesday. (fyi - all roads leading out of Austin were horrible on the day before thanksgiving! it took me an hour to go 10 miles, yuck.) Thursday we had a great thanksgiving with 23 of our closest friends in Clear Lake. Did I mention that there were 7 pies for 23 people: 2 derby pies, 1 pecan cheesecake, 2 apple pies, 2 pumpkin pies. Too bad I left the rest of my apple pie in Houston this morning... now I have to wait until this weekend to finish it up. I also got the chance to do a lot of my Christmas shopping on Friday (aka Black Friday). Thanks to Ami for coming out with me so early to shop. Jeremy even came to meet me at the mall for a few hours, but he just wasn't as much fun to shop with. I think it's his plan to be grumpy when shopping so I stop asking him to come with me.

Also this weekend I made two cake pies. Well cakes really. Okay one cake and one cheesecake like thing. The cake was a chocolate sachertorte and the "cheesecake" was a nobake tangerine cheesecake both from my new chocolate cookbook. This is the second time I've attempted the same sachertorte. While it did come out much better than last week, I just still wasn't that impressed. My goal is to eventually make all the cakes/pies in the cookbook. Two down, many many more to go. (Tomorrow my coworkers will get to try out the tangerine cheesecake and tell me what they think. I think it's good, but I still prefer the baked kind).

For now I leave you with this recipe for buttered rum from the Clem's. Thanks for introducing me to this yummy drink!

HOT BUTTERED RUM

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 cups vanilla ice cream
rum
water
nutmeg

1. Combine sugar, brown sugar and butter in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted (6-8 min).

2. Combine cooked mixture with ice-cream in a large mixing bowl, and beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often until smooth (1-2 min). Store refrigerated up to 2 weeks or frozen up to one month.

3. For each serving, fill one-quarter of a mug with mixture, add one ounce rum and three-quarters of a cup of boiling water. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hueco Tanks!


This past weekend me and 6 of my friends (including Jeremy) headed out to Hueco Tanks in El Paso, TX. Man it's quite the drive, but totally worth it once you're there. Jeremy, myself, Brent, Mari, Neil, Jamie, and Eric all spent three days on this amazing rock. It was great. The first day we headed out on a guided tour through the Hueco Rock Ranch and hit up the East Spur. We warmed up on the boulders in the 'hard to kill' area and then spent some time on the 'black and blue' boulders. This was Jeremy's first real climbing trip, and he did GREAT! We finished our day on a V2 boulder problem called "the vulgarian." It was AWESOME! A bit of overhang, throw a heal hook, reach up, hit the top, find the ledge... waaaaay back there, pull the roof. Although I didn't send it this day, I was able to go back first thing Saturday morning and try again. After resting all night, I sent it on my first try... and second and third. Did I mention it's super fun?

On the second day, after playing around on 'the vulgarian' on the East Spur, we went to East Mountain with our guide and played around on 'moonshine roof'. It was pretty cool, but at a V4 it was really hard for me. Especially since it was a V4 roof. I could make the first few moves, but that's about it. Jeremy and I went off to a close area and played around on some V0 and V3's but at that point my hands were so shot we decided to just chill and watch. The last few hours of our day got rained out as we were heading to another warmup area, so it was pretty much a short day.

Sunday morning was super awesome. We all headed to North Mountain with Mari as our 'guide' and got on some AWESOME stuff. First we warmed up at the potato boulders (or something like that). Some great V0/V1 warmups in that area, and this stellar V0+ highball. It's pretty easy climbing, but it's facey and crimpy and about 30-35 feet high. I was very proud of myself for sending it, and I didn't even get too scared at the top. Jeremy took some great perspective photo's which you can see up on flickr (see link at bottom). After warming up we headed to "Nobody gets out of here alive." A stellar, and easily the most popular V2 boulder problem, possibly in the world. Or so I've heard. It was freaken awesome. So get this, you start with your shoulders on the ground, your legs in the air, and your feet wedged into this hueco. Then you do a reverse sit up to start. It's a 7(ish) foot roof that you pull for about 7 more feet of climbing on the face to top out on the boulder. I managed to get the first few moves under the roof, but couldn't bring my energy up enough to reach for the first hold on the face. No matter though, it was super fun. Thanks to Jeremy for taking all kinds of great pictures. We were pretty beat up after this but we all headed over to one last area to try to get on a few more easy climbs. First we checked out a climb called 'godiva' which I was told that I had to get on by our first day guide, Charles. Well let me tell you, this brings a whole other meaning to highball. Are you kidding me?!? This thing was more like a free solo up a 60 foot cliff. Okay maybe not 60 feet, but easily 40-45. No thank you. After skipping this, we went to the warmup boulders and played around a little more. At this point my feet were so swollen that I couldn't get my climbing shoes on and my hands hurt like death. Brent, Jeremy and I decided to call it a day and head back to Austin.

Overall it was a great weekend and a wonderful first trip to Hueco Tanks. Our guide on the first day Charles, was great, and our North Mountain 'guide' Mari was super helpful. Thanks Mari! Without her we would have been lost for a while. Out of the 7 of us, Mari was the only one who'd been there before.

If you want, check out all the pictures on my flickr page HERE.

Friday, November 6, 2009

halloween, hueco, and football


Halloween has come and gone, but the pictures will be here forever! Or at least until they get consumed by other pictures on my flickr page. Once again Sean threw an awesome halloween party at his place and this year it was HUGE. Really, almost a little too big. There were people who said they were there and yet I didn't see them all night. Christen, Merrick, Lisa, and Vinny did a great job dressing up as KISS and of course won the costume contest. There was a large group that did Mrs. Packman, that was pretty cool. Check out my flickr page for all the pictures and costumes.

More excitedly than halloween though, is the fact that I FINALLY get to go to Hueco Tanks next weekend! YAY! Three days of the best bouldering in the world. Okay, I know three days isn't enough, but I'm just happy to get there. I can't wait! Check back for pictures in a few weeks.

One final note. Saturday Jeremy and I will be at boondoggles from 2:30 - 5:00 watching the PSU/Ohio State game. If anyone wants to join, you can find us there! We'll be watching as Penn State stomps all over Ohio State once again... i hope.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Where have our manners gone?


I've been noticing lately that the manners of people here in America have seriously gone to hell. People are rude, they're pushy, and everything is someone else's fault. Now, I'm sure we can all think back to times, perhaps even in the recent past, where we've been guilty of this. Being rude, too much in a hurry, too lazy to hold that door open for the person behind you. Maybe you weren't willing to let someone in front of you at that stop sign, or something that was just an innocent mistake really pissed you off and you over reacted? I know I have. But this goes even beyond these things, though they are at the root of our problems. Here are some things that I've noticed lately, that really annoy me. (in no particular order).

Passenger guy on my last southwest airlines flight. I am aware that you are 150 lbs heavier than me and you could kick my ass, but that gives you no right to cut in front of me in line. B11 is not the same as B07, and yes, they do have the number system for a reason. It's not "close enough" or "approximate." 11 is bigger than 7. I know you know this, so just get in line and stop feeling like you deserve to get in line before me.

Speaking of airlines. Here's two more. 1 - you are allowed one regulation size carry on and one bag to go under your seat. You know the rules so why don't you follow them? Do you think they don't apply to you, Mr. six ton duffel bag that you try to cram into that tiny space in the overhead so my bag doesn't fit? And you, Mrs. I have 3 bags and I don't want to keep any of them at my feet. And 2 - If you're in row 12 and I'm in row 11, I get to get off the plane before you. You cannot just push your way in front of me. Wait your turn.

And this one occurred while I was in the Holocaust Museum this weekend in Washington DC. There were 4 or 5 distinct adults, not children, but adults who were talking. And quite loudly for that matter. It's the Holocaust Museum people, have some respect. When I went there 10 years ago, you could hear a pin drop. Now I could barely concentrate on what I was reading with all the noise around me. Where have our manners gone?

And this one is just a general grievance. Servers at a restaurant. I'm perfectly fine with tipping you 20% for doing your job and making my experience pleasant. But if you are pissy, if you are rude, if you royally screw up my order, do not feel that you are simply 'entitled' to this 20%. It's a tip. It's called a tip, because we are tipping you for doing a good job. If I don't do my job, I don't get paid. It's that simple. Your job is to be pleasant and bring me my warm food. No, I do not think that you are below me in some way, but I do think part of your job is to be pleasant.

And those are just four things that I've noticed in the last few days. Perhaps this acceptability for rudeness comes from a sense of entitlement somehow? We all believe that we are entitled to this wonderful life and others should go out of their way to give it to us. The federal government should bail us out for our mistakes. We should sue someone just because they cough on us or look at us the wrong way. I think we all need to take a good look and remind ourselves every day that we are not 'entitled' to something unless we've done the work to earn it. And maybe if we'd pay a little more attention to those around us and just smile once in a while, the world would be a lot friendlier. So I encourage you, in the next day or two or three, to do something nice for someone you don't know. Open the door for them, say excuse me before you push your way through. Help make this world a better place.

2 Fun Filled Weekends



Well, I'm finally home... in Austin.. and it's been a crazy two weeks. Two weekends ago I took Jeremy out to The Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO. We had a great time. So many beers to try. I discovered that the pumpkin spiced ones were my favorite followed by the wheat beers, though not too wheaty. We also spent Saturday up at Rocky Mountain National Park. It was awesome, and we got to play in the snow, which is always fun! The weather was beautiful and it makes me want to live in Denver even more. We also met up with some of Jeremy's friends Saturday night, Chris and Lisa, for this crazy Italian dinner. Buffalo, covered in bread crumbs, fried, covered in alfredo sauce, topped with prosciutto, covered in mozzarella. Insane!

After the fun of Denver, it was home for a few days (2) and then off to Washington DC. Of course DC was also fun. We stayed with Jeremy's cousins just outside the city, and took the metro in most days to go see the sights. I learned that Jeremy's cousins are just as loud as he is when they've been drinking. It was very interesting trying to sleep in the next room while they were up "talking" until 4 am. We spent most of the time sight seeing: the Capital, Washington Monument, Natural History Museum, Old Smithsonian, Jefferson Memorial, Roosevelt Memorial, Holocaust Museum, Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Korean Memorial, etc... Then on Sunday was the Army 10 Miler. There were 8 of us at Jeremy's cousins house, and 5 people ran it. I think next year I'll give it a try. It was hard to just go watch, and not be active. Jeremy finished in 75 minutes, which was great, and his brother did about 85 minutes. The only disappointment was that I missed Jeremy crossing the finish line. There were 22,000 people that ran the race and they all started coming in so quickly, it was hard to scan the crowd that quick. Overall there must have been around 40,000 people in the area after the race, WAY too many. So we left shortly after everyone had finished. I think my goal will be to finish the race next year at about an 10-11 minute pace. That should be a good goal to reach within a year. Oh, I almost forgot about Granville Moores. Granville Moores is this place I saw on the food channel near Washington DC. They are famous for their mussels and fries. So I convinced everyone to head on over there Friday night. The place was AWESOME. They had such good mussels and the fries were great. Plus it's this tiny little place off the beaten track, which makes it all the better. I would recommend the Mussels with curry, and I'm not a curry fan, but these were awesome!

Check out my flickr page for pictures of DC and Denver. (most of the DC pics are up, and the rest should be up by wed or thurs this week)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

So much to write about...


Wow, what a weekend. I am just exhausted. Saturday some friends and I went for a mt. bike ride out at Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville, TX. We only got about 12.5 miles in, but it was a lot of work. I encountered one pine tree, which was more funny than anything else. It just jumped out at me, I swear! :) After the ride, Jeremy and I did a little shopping and then met up with Christina to watch the UT vs. Tech game at Waterloo. It was quite the game, and really proved that neither team had a great defense. The score was 34-24 at the end with UT pulling off the win, but there were way too many points in this game. I don't understand why UT is ranked #2, if they were a true #2 team, then they should have blown away Tech.

Anyway, back to cycling. Sunday Brent and I went for a ride down to Kyle and back. Was about 46.5 miles from my house, though we were trying to stretch it to 50, and just couldn't get there. We were both so tired when we got back, that we didn't feel like riding around in circles for 4 more miles just to get to 50. I realized that I didn't eat enough food in the morning, and about 1/2 way back I started to bonk really hard. I'm just glad I made it back. Always remember, eating more than a banana is very necessary when cycling 40+ miles.

Well it's Wednesday now, and I had originally started this post on Monday, however I was overcome by allergies and just couldn't find the will to finish it. I now realize now, not only was I starving for food on Sundays bike ride, but I was also in the beginning stages of an allergy attack. Fortunately lots of Claritin, Sudafed and Advil have made things better. Oh and the 14 hours of sleep that I got Monday night.

So two more awesome things that I wanted to tell ya'll about. First, I have finally told Jeremy about his surprise trip and we are going to THE GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL this weekend! Yes, just two days from now i'll be drinking all that I can in 5 hours from over 2,000 beer choices all sampled out of a 1 oz cup. Okay, maybe not all that I can, but enough that I'm happy to have a shuttle to take us back to the hotel at night. Then on Saturday we are going to Rocky Mt. National Park. I'm so excited to see mountains again!

And lastly, I just want to tell ya'll again about this awesome bike shop that I frequent, Austin Bikes. Those guys are just wonderful. It's a small(ish) shop on 5th street just west of Lamar and they really treat their customers great. Okay, I'll admit that I've been friends of theirs for a while, but they are great to all their customers. They're always helping me out with little tweeks on my bike. Plus, a few weeks ago I had my brake pads replaced, but since then they've been causing me issues and squeaking. When I took it in today, they said that they haven't been having great luck with those pads, so they replaced them out for me with the new Avid ones, free of charge. Awesome guys, they really stand behind their work and their products. So go check them out! (plus you won't have to wait like 5 days to get your bike back!)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Amy's Ice Cream Toss


video

Yesterday, Brandon, Alan, Kateylin, Steve, Dan, Jeremy and I went to Amy's Ice Cream after dinner at Hula Hut. The old ice cream guy, the one that used to work at the Amy's on 6th, was back and did some really cool ice cream tricks for us. Here's a video of him trying to toss the ice cream across the street to Brandon. Brandon caught it, sort of. The ice cream landed in the cup but then everything fell out of his hands. It was awesome. Then they just kept trying but it got messier and messier. Good times.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Inglourious Basterds and Rasin Cookies


This past weekend, Jeremy and I went to see Inglourious Basterds. I'd give it 4/5 stars, simply because I didn't think the flow of the plot was that great. I suppose the overall story line was good (and a refreshing twist on Nazi stories), but there seemed to be something missing. While the movie did grab my attention for the full 2.5 hours, and it was fairly bloody, I felt that some of the little subplots weren't fully developed and/or missing and the scenes could have flowed together a little better. I will say, though, that the acting was great. You really wanted to hate the main villain and Brad Pitt did a good job at his roll. There were also parts that were true Quentin Tarantino fashion. Overall I'd recommend that you go see this movie as well as Hangover. Two different films (completely!) but two of the best that I've seen in a while.

Also, I thought I'd share with you a raisin cookie recipe that I made this weekend. Enjoy!

Jumbo Raisin Cookies

2 cups raisins
1 cup water
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 TSP. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. Nutmeg
1 cup shortening (Butter)
1-3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs slightly beaten (optional, really it's true. i forgot them once, and they were still great)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Place raisins and water in a saucepan; bring to a boil and boil about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool; do not drain.

Mix flour with baking powder, soda, salt, and spices, set aside

Cream shortening.

Gradually add sugar, beating well after each addition. Beat in eggs, if adding

Stir in raisins with liquid and vanilla

Gradually add the flour mixture, blending thoroughly after each addition. Stir in nuts.

Drop from tablespoons, about 2” apart, on greased baking sheets.

Bake 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes

Monday, August 24, 2009

When I get irritable...


I learned a valuable lesson this weekend. If I don't exercise, I get irritable. And not only am I irritable, I just don't feel good. You know, that not sick, but not quite right feeling. All day Saturday I had that feeling. I didn't feel great, I was half tired, half awake, mostly irritable, and I just didn't know why. Well then Sunday came around and first thing in the morning I went mountain biking. After that I felt GREAT! For the rest of the day I was in a good mood. Jeremy noticed it too, and now we've made a pact. Every Saturday morning we have to get up and exercise before we start the weekend. I know it will lead to more pleasant Saturdays.

Also, another happy 1st birthday note. Happy 1st Birthday to Chase. We weren't able to attend his party this weekend because we were in Austin, but I hope he had fun!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday Reese!


You're sure to see many more of these in the coming weeks. A few weeks ago was James's birthday, and last weekend was Reese's 1st Birthday... and there are 3 more 1st birthdays in the next month or so! So Happy Birthday to Reese. This past weekend Ami through a beach themed 1st birthday party for him. There was a big kid pool, a few kiddo pools, and of course, a sand box. Reese seemed to have a good time munching down on his cake, as he was covered in icing by the end of the ordeal. Check out some of the pictures on my flickr page HERE.

In addition to fun parties Saturday morning, Jeremy and I had an awesome Saturday night in midtown. (Houston, TX). We went downtown to our friends condo and stayed there that night, grilling out on the middle deck of the condo, and then swimming in the roof top pools until midnight. Of course we also snuck down to Front Porch for a few drinks before closing time, and had the obligatory 2am pizza run. We had such a great time! Thanks Adam and Liza for having us over!

Movie review: We went to see The Hangover this weekend. I know, I'm behind the times. But if you haven't seen it yet, go see it! It was awesome!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A few notes...


First, Happy 1st Birthday James! Last Saturday was James's first birthday. James it the adorable little child of my friends, Pete and Jess. A bunch of folks gathered at their place for some birthday fun and good eats. Check out my flickr page for more pictures. And some cool ones that I took using their totally awesome Canon Rebel camera.

Second. For those of you that don't know, the Long Center in Austin puts on a free outdoor symphony concert every Sunday through August 23rd. Jeremy and I went this past weekend and it was awesome. Concert starts at 7:30 and lasts about an hour. Also, you can park in their parking garage at 1st and Riverside for free. Sunday 9th is Brass Ensamble, Sunday 16th is Woodwinds and Brass Pops, and the last for the season is going to be Big Band theme.

Lastly, thanks to all my friends who have listened to me debate over the iPhone and iPhone vs. PalmPre for the last few days! It's such a hard decision when you're about to lay out so much money per month for the damn things.

Have a great week!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Bob the Bat



This little guy was seen flying around the third floor of Centaur for the past few days. After day three he was found slowly crawling around the floor, so we were able to capture him and take him to the animal rescue place.

UPDATE: 4 days after the bat was taken to Austin Wildlife Rescue we phoned them to see how the bat was doing. They said he was very dehydrated when he came in but they gave him lots of water (which he drank a lot of) and food (which he ate a lot of), but there were no other problems. The bat is in the hands of bat rehab specialists and will be released back to the wild shortly.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Worlds Colliding?


I have recently discovered some long lost friends on Facebook, and because of my friendships in the past, I have decided to post a little tidbit of my past here on my blog. So why is this post called "Worlds Colliding?" Well, whenever your 16 year old life comes back into contact with your 27 year old life, the people who knew you then are bound not to know you as well now. And your friends now are bound to say "you did what when you were in high school?" So here it goes.

This is me. Well this is me, my mom and my dad. I was about 8 years old in this photo and it was right around the time that I found one of my greatest pleasures of my childhood... Magic. No not like the card game, like hocus pocus and abracadabra. The short version of the story is this. I started doing magic with my dad when I was really young. About 7. We had our own magic business called Mystical Magic and I was my dads assistant. However, that didn't last long. Year after year I'd get more involved in the show, and before you knew it, I was doing over half the show. By age 14 I started my own magic business and doing shows for kids birthday parties and at small amusement parks. That's also the year I started going to magic camp. Yes magic camp. Stop laughing now. It's this week long camp that was at the time held on Long Island, NY. You learn magic, perform magic, compete in magic competitions, etc. This camp really taught me how to perform more gracefully and just overall be more professional. I learned how to present myself and create a show that was more tailored to adult audience. No, not that kinda show. Just more evening style more what you would see in a theater downtown.

During the 4 years I went to magic camp, I developed several different shows, but the one that stuck most was the one from which this picture comes. I was 16 in it. Again, stop laughing. While I now look back and see how slightly embarrassing this photo is, the memories behind it make me smile. The magic act that went with this photo was a 7 minute elegant stage magic act. There were no rabbits, kids, doves, etc. It was just pure classical magic, with lots of silks and roses mixed in. Oh yea, and my grandmother hand made the outfit for me. While some of you may be thinking how dorky it is to be in high school and into magic, consider this. My "high school job" was doing magic. This job paid $100/hour for kids parties and $250/7 minutes for my evening stage show. When I was a senior in high school I had the opportunity to be in a larger magic show (I was the second act in the second half) and we did 8 shows in 7 cities over a 6 week time. It was awesome. I was also fortunate to have performed in New Orleans, Vegas, and other awesome places across the country.

... And then came college. While a lot of my friends and fellow magicians encouraged me to take up magic as a full time profession, I knew that I wanted a more stable job. So I went to college. While I tried to keep up the magic stuff during my freshman year of school, it soon became too difficult. Doing and engineering degree is hard enough without having to drive 3 hours back to my parents house each weekend I had a show to perform. And while I still try to do close-up magic (non-stage stuff) every once in a while, it has surely been a long time since I last set foot on a stage as a magician. I miss it sometimes, but I also know that I have moved onto other exciting and adventurous times in my life. Who knows, maybe someday I'll get back into it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A complete list


In the upper left corner of this blog, I've added a list of links to all the other sites that I use. I was tired of having to remember them all myself, lest alone when someone asked me for one of them. The flickr page gets updated most often with pics, and the shutterfly page was really only used for the Costa Rica trip. I use Vimeo for large videos that won't fit on here, but I've gotta learn to just take smaller ones. Enjoy all the pics/videos!

Monday, July 13, 2009

A weekend update... why not.


I can't say anything particularly interesting has been going on, but I figured I'd throw up a new blog for those of you out there that are in dire need of something to distract them from work. This weekend was pretty uneventful, which meant it was great and relaxing. I did some working from Houston this week, so I was able to see Jeremy for 5 nights in a row! He was even so nice as to forgo a friends 2nd bachelor party for my surprise visit Wednesday night! Which brings up an interesting point... don't assume that just because your boyfriend ALWAYS goes grocery shopping on Wednesday night then comes home and relaxes, that he will just happen to do the same thing on the exact week that you're planning on surprising him. Fortunately I questioned his strange and unexpected Tuesday night grocery shopping trip, at which point he informed me of the bachelor party plans for Wednesday. So my little Wednesday night surprise became a Tuesday night over the phone surprise. It wasn't exactly the excited response I was going for, but since he knew how much trouble it was for me to get there on a Wednesday night, he so lovingly agreed to spend the night with me. (In my defense, the groom in question already had one bachelor party, and we are going to the wedding next week).

The rest of the weekend included a stop at Tokyo Bowl (best sushi ever), a UFC fight night at Randy's, a girls night out with Ami and friends, a bike ride, and a movie date to see Night at the Museum II. The movie was pretty good, but I'd have to say the first one is better. The bike ride went awesome. Started at 7am and did just about 40 miles in just over 2 hours. I knew we were riding fast, but I wasn't quite sure how fast. I think our average rolling speed was around 20-21mph, so including slowing down and stopping for all the lights along the way, we finished in about 2 hours 10 minutes. Though as we were finishing around 9:15am, it was already wicked hot out. I couldn't imagine doing the 60 mile route in that heat. The UFC fight night was also very interesting. Though the only real exciting part about watching a UFC fight is when one guy knocks the other guy out cold. I can't imagine that such a beating is really "good" for the body. In two of the three fights the loosing guy got knocked out cold by the subsequent winner. The first time it was pretty quick. You could see the guy just drop to the floor. But in the last fight, the bigger dood just pounded the grap out of the little guy. It was basically beating someone up who was already unconscious. Seemed a little unnecessary to me, but I guess good for television.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ziplining video is finally up!


I finally got some of the videos from Costa Rica uploaded on Vimeo. They are both of us zip lining through the canopy in Monteverde. On the long video Jeremy and I are zipping together but you can't see him well because he is behind me. That was the longest/fastest of the 18 lines that we did. The other video is of me on one of the shorter lines. You can see that this line actually goes through the trees, while the longer one is more on top of the canopy. I didn't realize he was videoing that one until we got done. Click here to enjoy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pictures from Costa Rica


Pictures from Costa Rica are up! 245 of them (yea there's a lot). They are all mine except for the night shot, which is borrowed since I couldn't get one. But that's basically what we saw around midnight.

Click on the link, then "View Album" then "Play Slideshow"

Pictures HERE!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Costa Rica, Post 4 - Manual Antonio


Lastly, we headed to Manual Antonio. What a beautiful town. We stayed all 4 nights at The Falls Resort. It's a small boutique hotel (24 rooms), with the most amazing service I've ever had in my life. From day 1 they knew our names and who we were and were so helpful with everything, explaining tours, booking tours, etc. It was a beautiful hotel, great breakfast, and the bartender was cool too. He made some great cocktails. While in manual antonio we went open sea kayaking, snorkeling, white water rafting (awesome!), took a guided hike through manual antonio park, and took a vanilla/spice tour. I loved the white water rafting the best. And, I didn't fall out of the boat! We did the 1/2 day class 3/4 on the Naranjo River with Iguana Tours. The manual antonio park guided hike was good because the guide pointed out all these wonderful animals that I would have never seen without them. Sloths, monkeys, owls, snakes, bats, toucans, lizards, turtles, etc... If you're there definitely get the guided hike (we used Los Tucanes). The vanilla/spice tour was pretty neat but I think it was a little expensive for what you got. I don't know that I would recommend it unless you're really into spices and plants, etc. Though it was kinda cool. The beaches there were very pretty, especially in the park. It was really beautiful to see the teal waters come hit the beautiful white beach and the brown rocks, then hit the green rain forest. It was amazing. Mostly everywhere you could walk to, but walking was only recommended during the day. The road was winding and people drove very fast. Plus there were basically no sidewalks. Usually we walked down the big hill and took a cab up. In the town of Manual Antonio there are a bunch of local street merchants selling their goods. I got a few cool skirt wraps. We also ate a bunch of great food. The BBQ Cantina had great ribs and beef tenderloin and Costa Verde had the best Mahi Mahi sandwich ever! Auga Azul and Barba Roja had great views of the sunset. Bambo Jam had great live music and we went dancing there one night. But it got really crowded so we left around 10:30pm (which was really late for us!). The fancy restaurant, Kapi Kapi, was okay, but I think a little too expensive for what you got.

Overall we had the most incredible vacation. It was fun and relaxing and interesting. I was sad to leave, but I am definitely looking forward to going back.

Costa Rica, Post 3 - Montezuma


After Arenal Volcano we went to Montezuma Beach. When we got there I was feeling pretty sick, so we picked a place we had looked at online, Los Mangos. Again small cute little cabins, but there was no A/C. Also, these were REALLY small. The first night I took a bunch of Tylenol and zicam and just passed out for like 16 hours. Poor Jeremy had to go into town and eat alone. The next day I was feeling better, so we took a boat tour to Tortuga Island. The boat trip was nice, and the snorkeling was okay, but the water was pretty murky so it was hard to see. Also, if you go snorkeling in costa rica, just realize that there are no coral reefs in costa rica. You'll see lots of fish, but no beautiful bright colors. Also, we were dismayed to find that the hiking on Tortuga Island was closed and you had to pay a dollar to use the bathrooms. So the tour was okay, but I wouldn't really recommend it. Basically it's a boat ride and a nice beach, oh and lunch, which was pretty good. After that we decided we NEEDED a/c (and maybe a cleaner more spacious place), so we left Los Mangos a day early and headed to Amor de Mar. If I wasn't so sick, we would have looked at this place more closely the first day, but man were we glad to be here now. It was beautiful! The room we decided on had a/c and was bigger than the cabin and was cheaper! Plus they had a beautiful garden, lots of hammocks, and a tide pool in the ocean. And... it didn't smell like rotting mangoes. Los Mangos had plenty of monkeys, which were fun to watch, but the monkeys throw down mangoes and the mangoes rot since there are no grounds keepers to pick them up (or maybe just bad ones). Either way we were glad to be at Amor de Mar with a/c, this place really livened up our perspective of Montezuma. That night we ate at this wonderful place called Ylang Ylang. You have to walk to the beach to get there (beautiful walk no cars allowed), and it was by far our best meal of the trip. The next day we hiked to the waterfalls. Right away we met this local hanging out a little way up the trail. He had been there guiding some folks earlier and nicely showed us to the first waterfall. Even though the internet calls it a trail, that trail disappears quickly. We were so happy that we hired him to show us the other waterfalls. It was the best/cheapest tour ever. And totally random. Plus he took lots of great pictures for us and showed us where it was deep enough to jump in. While the water in the falls was clean, it was brown looking. This is because it had just rained and only clears up when the rain has stopped for a few days. Besides the waterfalls, we just hung out for the rest of the day and lounged. We also ate at this great little place Palmatis (again, someone's deck on their house, but what great homemade food).

Costa Rica, Post 2 - Arenal Volcano


After Monteverde it was off to Arenal Volcano. It's about a 3 hour trip by car which is about 1/2 paved and 1/2 dirt road (with pot holes), but again, not that bad. That being said, we did rent a 4 wheel drive car and if it would have been raining we probably would have needed it. Also, I should mention here a few things about driving in Costa Rica. 1. people will walk in the middle of roads. As well as dogs, chickens, and whatever else pleases. 2. The street signs/speed limits are more of guidelines. If you're not going fast enough, people will just pass you. You can pass anywhere and everywhere you think you can make it. 3. There are "man holes" on some of the dirt roads. So usually going about 20kph is recommended and is about all you can do. But the road to Arenal wasn't that bad, so we could go a little faster. Also, along the roads you'll pass a bunch of small restranuants. The tico's (locals) call them Soda's and they have the BEST food, even though they look fairly sketchy. Apparently the only requirement for a restrauant in Costa Rica is that you have a porch, a sign, and at least two tables. Anyway, back to Arenal.

We decided to stay one night at the Observatory Lodge. This is a lodge right near the volcano (the closest you can get) that was origionally built for scientists. It's also on the side where the lava flow is currently. It was fairly cloudy when we arrived (we stopped along the road to watch our first sighting of monkeys playing in the trees), so we couldn't see the lava, but we could hear the volcano rumbling. After eating, we settled into the room and around midnight were awakenened by the sounds of the volcano. We rolled over and looked out our big bay windown to see lava flowing down the volcano. It was awesome to lye in bed and just watch the show. We lasted about an hour before falling back to sleep. The next morning we did a guided hike at the Lodge (which was included in the price) and saw some cool animals and a nice waterfall. The best was that we got to see two tucans! After the hike we moved to the other side of the volcano. At this point the west side is where the lava is flowing, but the east side is where all the hotels and activities have sprung up. We stayed the next three nights at Arenal Volcano Inn. Again we had our own little cabin with a view of the volcano. The weather proved to be very nice so we could see the volcano most days and the clouds even parted enough that we could see the top at times. This place was pretty cool, and breakfast was included. I'd give it a 4/5. While in Arenal we took a horseback ride to the La Fortuna waterfall and then hiked down (and up) 480 steps to swim in it, which was awesome. I would recommend this tour, but ask for a fast horse, mine didn't seem to want to gallop too much, unless the guy yelled at it. We also hiked the Arenal National Park, and spent a few hours at the Tabacon Hot Springs one night (awesome!!!). The food was mostly good and we did drive about 10km outside of town to find a small little Soda with a great view. The town near the volcano, La Fortuna, is an okay town, but nothing to really write home about. Next it was off to Montezuma Beach.

Costa Rica, Post 1 - Monteverde


We're back from Costa Rica! It was such a WONDERFUL trip. Since we hit about 4 cities, and there's so much to tell about each, I decided to break up the trip into 4 posts. So here's the first...

First a general statement of Costa Rica in June. June is considered the "rainy" season. That means that everything is a beautiful green, but there is a chance of rain each afternoon. Usually beautiful in the mornings then a 2-3 hour shower (but which the sun is still out) and then clear at night. We found the weather BEAUTIFUL. It only rained hard 3 days of the trip and only for 2-3 hours each time. There were 2 or 3 sprinkle days but everytime it rained the sun was always still out and it was nice. Also because it was the "off" season there were many less people, cooler temps (esp by the beach), and much cheaper hotels (they have 'dry' and 'wet' season prices). I would totally recommend going in June, plus, it's much easier to book tours at the last minute because of the fewer crowds. Usually 24 hrs. in advance is perfect, but the day of is often fine too.

We arrived in San Jose (the capital city) on Sunday May 31st. We picked up our rental car (Dollar) and drove straight to Monteverde. It was about a 3 hour drive north, and the roads so far weren't that bad. The last hour of the drive was off the "highway" (a paved road, but without any lines or "rules"), and onto a dirt road. But really, the driving even on these roads was not as bad as I had envisioned it. Monteverde is in the cloud forest and is very close (walkable) to its sister city, Santa Elena. We stayed about half way between these two areas at a place called Cabinas Los Pinos. They were AWESOME little cabins, with plenty of space, a small kitchen, but no A/C. Which in Monteverde is very common and A/C was totally not necessary when we were there. In fact some nights were a little chilly. Los Pinos is also a small family run hotel, so the service was great and it was very well maintained. We stayed 2 1/2 days in Monteverde and did many things. The first, and by far the best, thing we did was a zip line canopy tour through the cloud forest (think rain forest). There were 16 platforms and it was AWESOME! We used a company called Salvetura and we also did a hanging bridges tour, where you walk through the cloud forest on this series of suspension bridges. We also did a coffee plantation tour (Don Juan), a cheese factory tour (Monteverde Cheese Factory), Climbed a hugh hollowed out fig tree (you'll have to see pictures to understand), and did a night walking tour to find lots of night creatures (our first, but not last, sighting of a sloth). A few quick notes about the tours, I would recommend everything we did in the Monteverde region (/santa elena), it was all wonderful. The cheese factory was actually established by quakers who moved to costa rica from alabama after having served 366 days in prison for not registered for the draft. Military service was against their religino, so they moved to costa rica because it was (and still is) a military free country. And the hollowed out fig tree that we climbed was very cool. It's called a strangler tree, and what happens is that after eating the fruits from a fig tree, the squirls deposit the seeds on top of other trees. If there is enough light, the seed will sprout into another ficus tree, and actually start growing on top of the host tree. The roots of the new ficus grow downward toward the ground and the branches upward. Eventually the host tree is strangled and it's food and nutrients are cut off and it dies. About 50-60 years later the host tree completely rots away and you're left with a hollow lattice work structure that you can go in and climb up. But you have to know the super secret place to find this tree, since there are no tours to it (thankfully). As far as the food in Monteverde, almost all of it was wondeful. If you go, I would recommend Restaurante De Lucia, Stella's bakery, Chimera, and the Tree House for dessert, but I would not recommend Morpho's Cafe. After Monteverde, it was off to Arenal Volcano.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Why I love Austin



Today I got back to Austin around 11am. I knew I had most of the day free and I wanted to spend it outside in the pool! I've been craving the water for a few weeks now, and today was going to be the day. After realizing most of my friends had decided to go climbing at Reimers instead of Pace Bend (my first choice of water activity for the day), I decided to stay in town and go to Barton Springs pool. My first pool trip of the season. I was so excited, like a kid in the candy store. I made my way down to the pool (a short 5-10 minute bike ride from my house) and instantly knew it was going to be a packed pool day. There were people and cars everywhere, but I was happy to see the crowds. The line was only about 15 people long, so after only a few moments, and $3, I made my way into the pool area. For those of you that don't know, Barton Spring pool is a natural spring pool in Austin that is open 365 days a year from some hour in the morning until about 10pm. (free hours are from 9pm to 10pm and tops are optional at all hours for both boys and girls). The pool stays a chilly 68 deg. year round. But man, it feels soooooo good on those hot summer days. Today was only 87 deg out, which usually is a little too cold for me to be going in 68 deg pools, but I was willing to make an exception today. It's kinda funny to say that 87 deg is too cold to be going in the water, but in texas, where it gets up over 105 deg in the summer, and the pool is only 68 deg cold, it needs to be a warm day for me to be jumping in.

After reading a chapter of my book, I headed down to the water. After a few moments of mental prep, I dove head first into the icy cold water. As soon as my skin hit the water, I could feel the cold water engulf me. It felt great! Sure, it's cold and kinda makes your heart stop for a few seconds, but it only takes about 20 seconds to get used to the water. It felt wonderful! I was so happy to be in the water just floating along and relaxing. I spent the next 45 minutes in the water, swimming up and down the pool, watching people around me also enjoying the nice day. I finally convinced myself to get out of the water, but suck around a little more by the pool side for a few quick dives in and out of the pool. Each time enjoying the feeling as the water hit my skin.

After spending a few moments at my towel, I headed out. My fun in the sun was over and it was time to go home and shower to get ready for dinner. As I was leaving I noticed a few things. First was the GIANT line of people now waiting to get in the south entrance of the pool. It was about 2:30 and there were easily 50 people in line. I don't think I've ever seen the line that long. Second were the large and beautiful oak trees surrounding the pool area. And third were the groups of people, all hanging out on the grass outside the pool, some playing music, others playing a pickup game of football. It put a smile on my face to be reminded that this is only one of the many cool places in Austin for people to come relax and hang out. It makes me so happy to be here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Digital Camera


I recently went on a quest to find a new digital camera. What was wrong with my old one? Well, nothing really. Sure the back LCD is all banged up and getting hard to see through, but it's really a great camera besides that. However, it doesn't do all the "new and improved" features that most current handhelds do. And since I'm going to Costa Rica in a week, I wanted something that I could change the scene modes on. it - snow, beach, nature, indoor, night, underwater, etc. I had already decided on getting an underwater housing for my new camera, so I could take it snorkeling and on the kayak without worrying about water. So now I just had to pick the camera.

After lots of searching, and many trips to the camera store, I narrowed it down to two choices. (I should stop here and say this: if you are looking for a new digital handheld camera, go to Fry's and check them out. They have TONS of display models. I wish I would have done this). So back to my story. I was divided between the Canon Powershot SD 990IS and the Canon Powershot SD 880IS which a friend had recommended to me. Before my friend recommended the 880IS I had already been pretty convinced on getting the 990IS. I really wanted something that had tons of features and was fast. But when I received my 990IS from Amazon (along with extra batteries, flash cards, and a waterproof case) I was kinda disappointed. I took the time to read the manual, and sure it had both program and manual modes, but the shutter lag time seemed really long. Also, the way it felt in my hand was kinda weird. I'm not saying the body style is made poorly, I'm just saying that it wasn't impressive to me. Even from when I first opened the case, I had this feeling that it wasn't the amazing camera I had made it out to be. Sure the pictures looked great, but then again, I have 20 8x10 pictures on my office wall, all which I took with my SD600 6MP camera and printed on my home printer and they look great. So I sat here thinking, why do I have this 14.7MP camera?

It was about at this point that I realized that Fry's had both the 990IS and the 880IS display models. ding ding! I should have gone here before placing my order. none-the-less, I took myself over to Fry's to check out this 880IS camera. I liked it immediately. It was the same size and form factor as my old SD600, had 10MP (plenty for me), and all the scene modes that the 990IS had. PLUS it was wide view. I was a little confused about this "wide view" at first, but then I understood it's just a wider camera angle, but same "4x6" ratio if you will. Plus the shutter lag time is much better than the 990IS (in my opinion) and works just as quickly as my SD600, which was what I wanted.

So now I'm heading to the post office to return my canon powershot 990IS to amazon (thank goodness for good return policies) and I am eagerly awaiting my powershot 880IS from amazon. It's in Dallas right now! I'm hoping it will come by tomorrow, but realistically, I know it will be Tuesday.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Parties, Cakes, and cool things.


First, the coolest thing of this weekend... finishing of the cake. So I made this awesome graduation cake for Jeremy this weekend. It's a cross of the lunar lander, the orion mission, jeremy's education and his hobbies. I was really happy with how it turned out and everyone seemed to enjoy it. The cake was chocolate with raspberry filling and vanilla icing. It was yummy! (check out more pictures here)

The reason for the cake was Jeremy's graduation party. His band, DC3, played from about 6pm to 8pm and it was such a great show! Thanks to all the band members and all the guest players/rappers that helped out! Tim, Ron and Jeremy were joined by several guests for a few songs, Alvero on the base, phil rapping, ethan on the sax, and Dan on the harmonica. Everyone really loved the show. We then continued partying until around midnight when people started to trickle out. Oh, and we had tons of food (as usual). Jalapeno Poppers, cocktail dogs in bbq, pesto croissants, chicken salad in croissants, sweetish meatballs, buffalo chicken dip, lots of salsa, deviled eggs, and chili dogs/frito pie. Thanks to everyone for showing up! We had a great time and were glad that you could make it. (check out those pictures here).

One last thing. I wanted to blog a little about this cool wine device that Jeremy got me for my birthday. It's a wine aerator called Vinturi (google it). It's this device that you pour your wine through and then into your glass, and it adds just the right amount of air to open the wine and bring out all the good flavors. We were skeptical at first, but it really works! And it works well! So if you're into wine, I would totally recommend it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I forgot to write about the MS150???


So apparently I forgot to blog about the MS150. I've told this story like a million times already, so here's the short version...

Rained Friday...
Flooded LaGrange...
Nowhere to sleep Saturday Night...
Day 1 cancelled by the MS Society at 4:30pm Friday...
Too much rain on Saturday, hard to drive...
Camped at a friends Aunt's house outside of LaGrange Saturday night...
Ate too many Taco's...
Lots of karaoke...
Rode 75 miles Sunday in sunny weather...
Felt sick about 1/2 way through from too many tacos...
Finished the ride in about 5 hours...

Yea, that about sums it up!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What a weekend!


Well, I don't even know where to start. This weekend was filled with so much fun and excitement and partying and all types of celebrations. I suppose I should just start at the beginning.

Friday was Jeremy's big day. His brother, Matt, flew in from Columbus, Ohio that morning and a bunch of his friends came in from Houston to support him. Moose, Tim, Albert, Chad, Ron, and Buzz all made the trip, and we were joined by Christina and Justin who live here in town. At 3pm he began his PhD dissertation defense, and by 4:30pm he was congratulated by his committee. I suppose he's not officially a doctor yet, but for all intents and purposes, he is. After the presentation we all headed out to Crown and Anchor for some beers and cheers. This was followed by some Mingo Fishtrap at Threadgills and some late night snacks at Magnolia.

Saturday was met with even more fun as we continued to celebrate Jeremy's PhD, and now also my birthday! We started the day with some lunch at this place downtown called Leaf. If you've never been there before, I suggest you check it out. We also took some time to play mini golf and take a nap before the evening began. At this point everyone from Houston had gone back, but Adam and Liza came up to spend the night with us. The five of us went out to dinner at South Congress Cafe and then met up with some more of my friends at Pete's Piano Bar and then Brown Bar. It was such an awesome night, and thanks to all my friends who helped to make it so special. Check out the pictures on facebook.

We rounded out the weekend celebrations on Sunday with a trip to the Saltlick, after some much needed morning exercise. The Chomel's, Strawser's and Leblond's met us there for some BBQ and Cake that Adam and Liza had gotten for us. We also stuck around afterward to listen to some live music.

Thank you again to all my friends and of course Jeremy for making this such a great weekend! We had so much to celebrate and we were both so happy that you all were there.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Real Quick


So I just had to post these two videos real quick. I usually am not a big you tube fan, but these are both just great.

Train Station Sound of Music

and

Britain's Got Talent

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Weekend



Happy Easter Everyone! I hope that you all had a great weekend filled with food, eggs, and cheer. This weekend was a Houston weekend for me. So on Thursday night, I packed up the car (with way too much stuff... and the cat) and headed down to Houston. Friday day was a relatively uneventful working day, but by 4pm the weekend had started. After a happy hour trip to Boondoggles with some friends, Jeremy and I headed over to the Lillard's for some egg dying fun. Somehow we wound up dying over 11 dozen eggs! Yea, that's a lot of eggs. Apparently we would be using them later in the weekend for some egg cracking fun. Some of the unique eggs included zombies, yellow polka dot bikinis, eyes, and others I can't even remember. Heather showed me this cool trick that some of the kits came with. They are those little clear/decorated plastic sleeves for the eggs. You stick them around the egg then you put the egg in boiling water and it shrink wraps around it. I found this highly amusing, and somehow I never remember doing this before.

Saturday started out with a great bike ride down to Morgan's point, over the Kemah bridge to 96 and then back up Egert bay, for about a 44 mile ride. It was a great last ride, before the MS150 next weekend! The rest of the day was spent like a typical lazy Saturday. Hung out with some friends at their garage sale, took a nap, listened to DC3 practice, and then went to Tokyo Bowl! For those of you that don't know, this Clear Lake sushi restaurant is the best sushi ever! Okay, well maybe not ever, but I haven't found a better place yet.

On Easter Sunday we woke up early and made a bunch of appetizers for dinner later that night. Somehow, I went overboard again and made chocolate bunnies, chocolate fruit cups, guacamole, caramelized onion dip, to die for dip, and chocolate covered strawberries (the berries were on sale at HEB for 97 cents a pound, so I just had to get them). I think I just get so excited about cooking, I can't pick my favorite recipe, so I wind up making them all. After food prep, we headed over to the Lillard's who were nice enough to host 26+ people at their house for Easter dinner. We wound up having enough food for like 60 people! But it was all so wonderful! The "to die for dip" that I made went over really well! It's on cooks.com and I totally recommend making it. I omit the crackers in the recipe, use a bit more green onions, and then serve it with corn chips. After dinner, Betsy put together an egg hunt for us. I forgot how much fun egg hunts were! And because there were only two kids there that could walk, all the adults got to play. We also played a game called "egg knocking." I've never done this before, but you get two hard boil eggs and knock them tip to tip. One breaks and one doesn't, the one that doesn't wins. After 11 dozen eggs, the last one standing is a winner! This was sooo much fun. Everyone really got into the game, and although the dyed eggs turned our hands colors, it was a blast! Finally, as dessert time rolled around, we started thinking of things that we could deep fry. Randy had deep fried the turkey for dinner that night, so all the oil was already set up. We tried twinkies, oreo's, cheesecake, blue marshmallow peeps, snickers, bananas, and sweet potatoes. The twinkies turned out like cream filled doughnuts, the oreos tasted like oreo cake, and the snickers just didn't make it too well.

Overall it was a great weekend! Thanks to everyone who helped out and cooked food over Easter, and thanks again to the Lillards who opened their house for Easter festivities all weekend long. Check out my profile on facebook for more pictures from the weekend!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A lot going on....


Okay, so most of you know this by now, but last week was rough week. My grandfather passed away last Sunday (March 29th) and I was home in PA all last week dealing with that. Fortunately I was able to get time off work to spend up there and Jeremy was even able to come up with me for a few days. I was surprised how many people turned out for his funeral, and how many people he knew. He will be missed dearly by all who knew and loved him.

On other, happier, news... Jeremy and I went to see Seinfeld last week at the Bass Concert Hall. I was still getting over being sick from the week before, but it was such a great show. In fact I was laughing so hard that my throat was killing me by the end of the set. The next day I could barely talk at all. The only thing I would recommend to anyone going to Bass Concert Hall, is get tickets on the ground level. The 1st balcony was not bad at all, but I would have preferred to see his face. Either way though, I was happy to be there.

The rest of the weekend was mainly spent relaxing around the House. I got some more work done on my front yard, (the landscaping is currently a work in progress) and I managed to get in a 37 mile bike ride on Sunday. I would have liked to go longer, but the wind was pretty strong and I was still slightly sick. Also, on Saturday, we went out to Mandola Winery for dinner with Jeremy's friends, Christina and Justin. The restaurant was pretty good, fairly fancy, and definitely expensive. Though we did have 2 bottles of wine between the four of us.

Overall the relaxing weekend helped to make up for the week before and to get me back into work mode. Also, check out my facebook profile for pictures from Christen's Bachelorette party!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Austin Rodeo, BBQ, and House Projects


Well it's Monday morning and everyone has left. My parents were in town this weekend and Jeremy came down from Houston. It was the first time the four of us hung out, but it went really well. Thursday night we did the traditional Rudy's BBQ dinner and just relaxed for the rest of the night. Friday, Dad and I decided to install a light off the back deck of the house by the grill. A few trips ago we had installed a light on the other deck, but I was getting tired of grilling by headlamp, so I decided that it was a good time to put a light on the grill side too. It went fairly well, and in the end there was only one extra drill hole that had to be patched up. Not too shabby. We also tried installing a heat radiant barrier on the skylight in my living room. That project did not go so well, and after about an hour or less we decided that it would be better to call someone to have this done instead of trying it ourselves. (On a side note, I've since learned that domed skylights cannot be tinted, or it's impossible to find someone to do it. So I need to move onto plan B for the summer, which is to rig up some kinda shade structure over the skylight) Saturday the four of us went to the Austin Rodeo and Livestock Show. It was AWESOME! This past weekend happened to be the BBQ Cook off, which is so much fun! So there were about 20 different teams there all cooking away for the entire weekend in different competitions (beans, bloody marys, ribs, brisket, etc). Then what they do is allow you to sample all of the food, the only thing they ask is for a small donation which all goes to charity. Basically the four of us ate all we could eat for like $15. Oh and did I mention the drinks are free too? It was INSANE. We all ate way too much, but the BBQ was so delicious. After leaving the BBQ cook off and walking around the rest of the rodeo for a while we thought about going back, but then decided that our stomachs probably couldn't take in any more food. So what did we do next? Well naturally we went home and cooked more food for dinner! Sunday we spent most of the day working on the front yard, redoing some of the landscaping. After about 6 hours of that, we went to Mandola winery and then to the Saltlick. Overall it was a wonderful weekend. And now I'm looking forward to a relaxing week.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Limestoner is over... and my parents are coming this week!


So first, the Limestoner recap. Last Thursday we made a collective decision to push the Limestoner to Sunday instead of Saturday. The threat of rain for Saturday was still about 30% and it was supposed to pour all day on Friday, thus making the rock very wet to climb on Saturday. So we pushed it, and so the weather decided to turn. Saturday turned out to be "okay," in that it didn't rain at all, but it was cloudy and overcast all day and the rock was still very wet from Friday. Then Sunday came... and so did the rain! It rained from about 8am - 11am. Not pouring rain, but the nice steady pain in the butt type rain. Fortunately we have a lot of dedicated climbers here in Austin and about 40 people registered for the comp, even though it was raining all during registration. And also, fortunately, it was still relatively warm. By about 11am the rain had stopped and the clouds were beginning to part. After crawling out of the car (where I was hiding after I got everyone registered), we walked down to check out some of the climbing activity. As the clouds continued to lift, so did peoples spirits, and by 3pm people were pretty happy and just having a good time. There will still a few clouds in the sky but the sun was shinning brightly and it got really warm. Overall it turned out to be a good day and we even made a little money. Which is great considering the weather we had to work with. I'm told that Joe's slideshow went great, but I only stayed for part of it, because I was dead tired from the day. Check out ctmrocks.com for updates on who won what categories. Congrats to everyone who won and thanks to everyone who showed up!!!

Also, my parents are coming into town this weekend! They are coming in Thursday afternoon and will be here through Monday morning. We may try to go downtown and check out some of the free SXSW shows and at some point I'm going to take them to the saltlick, and probably go out to Rodeo Austin. We'll probably also work on the yard out front, relax in my new patio furniture, and grill some steaks and fish. If we're really motivated, we may try to put a light out back by the grilling area so one doesn't have to use a headlamp at night to grill. It's going to be a fun weekend. Oh yea, and did I mention that Jeremy hasn't met my parents yet? It could be an interesting weekend.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Lots going on... as usual.


This past weekend was crazy as usual. I came down to Houston on Friday night, and I'm still here as I type this message. Friday night we went out for Sushi (at Tokyo Bowl of course) and then Saturday we went to the St. Arnolds Brewery for the 1pm tour. As always, a great time was had by all. After a short trip back to the house to make some green rice crispy treats, we headed over to the O'Medina birthday/st. patties day party. Yea it's a bit early, but who says you can't party for the whole month of March? We played a game called "guess what's under Edgar's hat." Okay, maybe it doesn't sound like that much fun now, but when you've been drinking... it gets interesting. Sunday we just hung around the house most of the day and relaxed. Yea, nothing too interesting. The daylight savings change really threw me off.

But in more exciting news, this weekend is the 10th Annual Limestoner Climbing Competition! Make sure you come out and compete, because there are a lot of great prizes this year.

Well I wish I had more interesting to write, but I don't. Hope to see ya'll this weekend out at Reimers!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A beautiful week in Austin


This week has been wonderful! First, the weather has been fantastic. Can you believe it's the last week of February and it's over 85 deg outside in Austin?!? That's insane! Thanks to this beautiful weather, I've gotten in a mountain bike ride at Walnut Creek, and went climbing for the first time in over a year at New Wall tonight. It felt great to be back on the wall, but also very tiring! Man after bouldering so much, these Austin routes seem HIGH! This weekend should also be great. Saturday is the Austin Kite Festival at Zilker Park, and Jeremy and I are going to a wine pairing at Flat Creek Estates. I'm also hoping to get a bike ride in at Becker and Buscher State Park.

In other exciting news, the 10th Annual Limestoner Climbing Competition is only 2 weeks away! Saturday March 14th at Reimers Ranch. Camping is allowed Friday and Saturday night and registration is from 7:30 am to 9 am on Saturday. Joe Kinder will be our special guest. You don't want to miss this!

Oh yea, and lastly, I found this cute 'little black dress' this week for my friends bachelorette party. Okay, so the party isn't for another 5 weeks, but I've never owned a 'little black dress,' so it's very exciting.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fastnacht Day... a day late


What is Fastnacht Day? Well, Fastnacht or Fauschnaut Day is the day before Lent, more commonly known as Fat Tuesday. But in the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition, it's known as donut day. This is the day when all the women get together to use up the remaining fat and lard laying around the house before fasting for Lent (starting of course on Ash Wednesday, the day after Fat Tuesday). Instead of explaining it more on my own, here's the article that was published in the Morning Call yesterday.


"They're greaseballs disguised as doughnuts. Make that almost-doughnuts, potato-based look-alikes sold for $5 a dozen the weekend before Fat Tuesday.

More than 130 volunteers were working six-hour shifts over 36 hours last weekend to fill thousands of orders. The fastnacht's popularity here has made the sale Trexlertown Volunteer Fire Company's biggest fundraiser
.
Linda Gorr, one of the organizers, said that after expenses the sale reaps around $15,000, not a bad profit for selling something that could, if eaten regularly, destroy the healthiest of hearts. Thankfully, they're available just once a year.

''This is a way of life around here,'' said Gorr, whose father and husband serve with the fire department.

Fastnachts, she said, came with the original Pennsylvania Dutch, who wanted to fatten up their caloric intake before fasting for Lent. After digesting a few 300-calorie fastnachts (translation: fast night), fasting over the six-week Lenten season was, well, a piece of cake.

Don't ask me what the ingredients are (flour, mashed potatoes, sugar, eggs, Crisco and margarine) because it doesn't matter.

The key to making a good fastnacht (and clogging your arteries) is the 900 pounds of lard used to fry them.

For the uninitiated (my hand is raised), lard is animal fat that's been banned from commercial use in some cities thanks to its trans-fat content. But it's that banned fat, which comes from local pig farms, that gives the fastnachts their addictive taste and keeps people coming back each year for more.

In Trexlertown, fastnacht orders are taken the week before the sale, said Gorr, with last year's cutoff point of 3,500 dozen exceeded this year by 500, bringing a record sale of more than 4,000 dozen -- or more than 50,000 fastnachts. They've been selling fastnachts here since 1965.''They're so good with powdered sugar or molasses on them, '' said Joyce Damczyscyn, a retiree who stood in a long line hoping to bag a dozen without pre-ordering. Unfortunately for Damczyscyn, she left empty-handed, but eyeballed the seven dozen her friend had purchased and followed her out the door.

Trexlertown Fire Company has its own equipment, including the fryer that heats the lard to 450 degrees. I plopped the little doughboys in it for two minutes (fry for one minute on each side), and became part of a 250-year-old tradition.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Is the weekend over already?


It seems so strange to me that this weekend flew by so fast. Well, I guess most weekends do that, but this weekend especially. There were so many people from Houston in town, that it was hard to keep up with where we were going and who we were seeing. The quick summary of the weekend was as follows: Went to Cissi's wine bar, made homemade pesto (mmmm), got new padio furniture, had a wonderful valentines day dinner, longest game of chess ever, brunch at Miguels, play at sam bass theater, dinner at hula hut (yes, more tex mex), drinks downtown... and now i'm sitting at work. Whew. Oh yea, and I think I rode my bike in there somewhere... but it was only for a short distance. Eh, better than nothing!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Herb Garden & James



Check out my new herb garden. Okay, well it's not really that new, I got it at Christmas from my parents, but look how wonderfully that it's growing! I'm growing basil, dill, thyme, chives, oregano, and mint. It's nice cooking with fresh herbs, but my basil is growing so quick, I don't know what to do with it all! I think this weekend I'm going to learn how to dry it.

Also check out this cute picture of my friends baby, James. I found this little onesie for him down at parts and labour on South Congress.


Monday, February 9, 2009

well... It's monday.


Really, is there anything else more to say?

While the downside may be that it's Monday, the upside is that this weekend is Valentines Day and Presidents Day. It's also the weekend of the Austin Marathon and 1/2 Marathon, so lots of Houstonites will be up in Austin for the weekend... YAY!

This past weekend was also great. I went climbing on Saturday out at Reimers and got in 5 good climbs. It's not a lot, but I was really happy to be out climbing. I'm getting close on Crankenstein as well as Bongo Furry. I'm also trying to convince myself to gather the courage to lead climbs like Bolt Talk and Unnatural Selection. I've sent these a few times on TR, so there's no reason that I shouldn't be leading them. But really, if someone else is there to do it... might as well let them. That's my theory.

On Saturday night I went to a Dessert Off. It was so yummy and delicious! The Best Overall was a cherry tart like thing with pineapple. I will have to try to make this one day. Also on Saturday night, I got to see my friend Brian from college. Him and his marine/navy buddies were up in Austin for the weekend, and we hung out down on 6th street. It was great to see him again and reminisce about the old days. I also learned that taking off in a jet from a carrier is basically just holding on for dear life as they catapult you off the ship. Oh yea, and on another side note, I remembered what it was like to feel short. Man those boys are tall!

Finally on Sunday I dragged my butt out of bed and went on a bike ride in the AM with some folks that had gathered at BSS. Now, this isn't my favorite ride in the world, usually, but since the Austinbikes guys were out racing all weekend, I thought, why not. Well... this was certainly a different ride than I had been on before with the BSS people. We rode 65 miles down to Kyle, around the east side, and back. There was a group of 7 people and man were they FAST. It was everything I could do to hold onto them. Fortunately, as I started to fall back, Mikey and this guy Ryan (I think) were nice enough to stay back with me. Even still at this "slower" pace, we were going at quite the clip, and I was hurting. But at the same time it felt good. I was really happy to get such a wonderful ride in. And although my legs felt like jello for the rest of the day, I was on a biking rush, and I was ecstatic that I made it so far, so fast.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Riding across bridges...


So, last Sunday I went for a ride in Houston with the Bike Barn group. I usually like to ride with the '18' group, but I figured if I want to get faster then I need to start riding with a faster group. So this week I jumped on with the '21's. I quickly noticed that the downfall of this group is that it's HUGE. There were about 30-40 riders in the pack, and that just never works out well. Each time we hit a stop light, the people at the beginning of the group would take off at like 24mph and the rest of the group would have to kill themselves trying to catch up. Eventually we just split into 2 or 3 separate groups, which made staying together much easier. The group I joined up with was mostly people doing the 100 mile ride that day. But there were three of us who decided that 40ish miles would be plenty... especially since it was getting colder and rainier by the minute. The coolest thing about this group was that they convinced me to take a side detour, which added about 12 miles, but included taking the fairy across the bay and then riding back over this awesome bridge. I remember driving from PA to Houston and crossing over this bridge years ago. So it was definitely very cool to ride over it on my bike. And although I was cold and wet when I got back, it was worth the extra 12 miles of riding. Thanks to the people who rode with me and kept the pace going.

And don't forget... the 2009 MS150 is just 2 1/2 months away. Check out my personal site here!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Reducing the stress... and cycling more.


This year I set two New Year's resolutions for myself. One was to go see a space shuttle launch before 2010, when they stop flying, and the other was to reduce the unnecessary stress in my life. Now, the first hasn't happened yet, but hopefully sometime this fall it will. The second one has begun to take shape. I've decided to stop stressing myself out over the little things in life. I don't *have* to go to the store tonight, I don't *have* to get that new shirt I've been wanting for 3 months, tonight. You get the point. The little things in life can wait, and the world won't end becuase of it. Part of this also includes only allowing myself to do one or two things a night, max. That is, it would be nice to eat dinner before 9pm at night. And it would be nice to just go home after work some nights and not worry about being out until 10pm running around town.

Also, as part of my "reduce stress in my life" mission, I've decided to step down as CTM Treasurer. I'll make this rant short, but lets just say there were a few things that were just annoying me, and people that I could no longer work effectively with. Mainly, I'd really like to know why one cannot just open a bank account in a organizations name without having to contact the IRS for a tax-id number. And then when you talk to the people at the IRS, some tell you that with a tax-id number you have to file taxes for that organization, and others tell you that you don't necessarily have to file taxes just because you have a tax-id number. That was it, the last straw. So now I've just gotta finish updating the member list (which I should have done this weekend, but forgot about), and then I've reduced my stress count by one.

On a total side note, this year I've decided to start climbing more, and mostly cycling harder. Last week I got a new rear wheel and trainer tire for my indoor trainer. It's so nice just being able to switch out wheels on my bike, so I don't have to worry about ruining my road tires. And now that I've figured out how to set up the trainer properly, I should be good to spin and not ruin this tire either. All total the rear wheel plus tire cost about $170, but it was a good investment. I also went out on a Sunday morning ride this past weekend with Brent. We road barton springs rd. to mopac frontage road, across the mopac bridge, west on southwest parkway to HW71. Up HW71 to 2244 (scariest part of the ride), back east on 2244 to 360, south on 360 to mopac frontage road north, back to barton springs road, up robert e lee, and back to my house. It was about 32 miles total, but almost all hills. It was a great workout, and great training for the MS150!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

So Much Fun!


So last night Steph and Nic hosted a Crappy Christmas Gift Exchange party at their house. It was sooo much fun. First, let me say, it's amazing the type of stuff people buy for each other. For example, why would anyone ever want a small figurine of three pigs eating out of a troff? Or a candle with beads wrapped around it? Or a cookbook called "the best of the best" from 1996... that was just given to them as a gift this year! Other interesting gifts included grapefruit shower gel and bath beads, a calendar that shows you how to make a different paper airplane each day of the week, a melon baller, items from a dollar store, pink fuzzy vibrating slippers, a bad cat calendar, green fuzzy socks, and a porn video. So the party was basically a white elephant exchange with gifts people got for Christmas but didn't want and/or need. There were 25 people at the party and it was a lot of fun.

After most people left, Steph broke out the shredded paper. Apparently Nic and Steph have this fun game they like to play called, throw the shredded paper and old phone books into the ceiling fan. Now, if you've never done this before, you don't know what you're missing. Sure, it's messy, but it's sooo much fun! Jeremy tried to stay out of it, but as soon as he said "I don't want to," Moose tossed a handful off paper at him, and he was dragged into the mess with the rest of us. We were finding little pieced of paper everywhere when we got home. Who knew shredded paper could make its way down your pants.

Thanks for hosting a great party guys!

Oh, and check out more pictures here!