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.