I heart art

Well, duh. Doesn’t everyone? It’s kind of an obvious statement, “I enjoy pretty things.”

But I also like for art to be personal and unique. (Again, duh. Who wants their decor to be blasé and random and artificial? Just call me Captain Obvious.) Maybe that is because growing up, my mother made a point to stock the house solely with original artwork (a task that’s pretty easy when you’re an art student and so are all of your friends). I was fortunate to wake up in the morning and fall asleep at night staring at custom artwork on my bedroom wall that few others had the opportunity to know as I did. It was, as Miley Cirus might say, pretty cool. Mom has sense recanted on her “originals only” mentality, but the idea still resonates with me. But it’s not easy to obtain something with sentimental value, that’s easy on the eye AND is an original piece. Unique and original artwork, even by local artists, are pricier than what I can afford when I’ve got vacations and renovations to save for. But buying mass produced prints for $10 at Hobby Lobby sort of cheapens the whole idea of adorning your home with personal pieces that speak to you. “Keep Calm and Carry On” is a great motto, but I swear if  I see one more of those posters, I’m likely to bang my head into a wall. Can’t I just have my cake and eat it too?

Enter concert posters, especially concert posters created by one of your closest friends.

Eric, the design guru behind the world’s coolest wedding invitations that I blogged about here, recently started creating concert posters for local showcases hosted by CoolinAustin…a website dedicated to spreading the word on all happenings that are free or under $5 in Austin. (It’s a great site in it’s own merit; check it out if you’re a local.) The shows have been drawing respectable crowds for featuring some of Austin’s favorite bands in some of the city’s more popular venues, and the popularity of the CoolinAustin gigs has been largely spurred on by the quirky and colorful animal-themed posters created by our dear friend Eric. Could it be possible that I have finally found a collection of art that is:

1.) Personal (created by a buddy and often relating to events I have attended)
2.) Unique (think along the lines of a squid holding a pipe or a spooky llama)
3.) Original (not mass-produced, in fact only a handful of copies were printed)

I may have found a way for those of us at the doodle house to enjoy art that is fun to look at AND fun to think about. I’ve already hung the first piece in the guest bedroom, and with gems like the images featured below, I don’t think it will be long before the entire wall is covered. Check and mate!


Happily Handmade

Handmade Christmas gifts are the best. I like to give ‘em, I like to receive ‘em. Something about putting the finishing touches on a mediocre craft and boxing it up to distribute to family who are obligated to love it just feels über Christmasy. This year I was lucky to receive my fair share of handmade trinkets and goodies.

A favorite might have been these ornaments my mom made to resemble Stella and Wyatt. Our tree was lacking in doodle-themed ornaments–something that clearly had to be remedied. See the resemblance?

My sister and brother-in-law, of StormulaOne Photography fame, put together these coasters featuring his photography. I’m a big fan of his work, so getting to glance down at mini prints of his photography on my coffee table is really exciting. I might have to commission more.

Heath’s mother made this reversible hobo bag that I can’t wait to use as a travel pouch.

And of course, let’s not discount all the jellies, jams and baked goods from my mother and from Ranjana that will carry us into the new year.

So, too soon to start working on next years gifts? The wheels are already turning.


Married @ the Mohawk

Check out these amazing photos by Jake Holt from Eric and Lisa’s wedding two weeks ago at The Mohawk. Definitely an unforgettable evening.

 


fiestas and food

Last weekend was our first back in Austin after our globe trotting adventures. The return to our state’s capitol had to be epic. Enter weekend extravaganza of fun times (working title).

Fortunately there was plenty of fun to be had. In 1 weekend, over 2 days, there were 3 parties—all with a common theme: food and fun.

Party 1
Host: Mark and Ranjana
Summary: In honor of a very special occasion–Friday–Mark and Ranjana, or Maranjanark, hosted a pizza-filled fiesta that included a pie made with a bacon crust  (courtesy Epic Meal Time), bacon-wrapped and cheese-stuffed jalapenos and “the salad bowl game” which is essentially the love child of Taboo and charades on steroids. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but had we won tickets for performing well in the game (circa the days of Chuck E. Cheese or Fun Time Pizza) I’d have walked out of there with an awesome water gun or magic kit. In layman’s terms…I did good.

Party 2
Host: Avee and Rajia
Summary: The Saturday day party (that inevitably went into the night) celebrated Rajia’s birthday with yard games like badminton and ping pong. And of course, there was beer, queso and party snacks to boot.

Party 3
Host: Candace and Chris
Summary: The party celebrated both a birthday and the couple’s recent decision to c0habitate.  Playing starring roles at the love fest was an abundance of hip home decor, homemade edible goodies, keg beer, hipster music and a 90-pound doodle-like dog that fell too much in love with one of the party guests.

Party on.


Mussels Anyone?

For some people (me) it’s difficult to envision slowly killing a living, breathing creature by boiling them in a cauldron of hot water or steam until their flesh turns red from the heat or their once-closed shells hesitantly crack open after a two-minute struggle to protect it’s vulnerable insides. It’s barbaric! It’s savage! And it’s also how we kill millions of lobsters, crayfish, mussels, crabs, oysters and other fresh- and saltwater-dwelling creatures every year. I’m no vegetarian, and don’t have qualms with eating meat that has been humanely cared for and killed, but there is something about boiling an animal alive that gives me the willies. Afterall, we don’t throw chickens in the oven still clucking, (believe me, we know after one life-changing experience), and we don’t throw live pigs on the fire before eating bacon (though my Philippines-born grandfather will tell you that’s how it’s done in his birth country), so why is it so acceptable to engage in this horrible, savage form of murder on our exoskeleton-bearing, aquatic invertebrates brothers? I had to do some research.

Friends Eric and Lisa invited us over for a mussel-making experience a few weeks ago. My hesitance to participate in the mass murder of dozens of shellfish was an issue, but ultimately I made the decision to suck it up, ignore the hypocrite inside that begged to indulge instead in a mammal killed weeks earlier, far away from my safety zone—and just go with it. We picked up some french fries from the beloved P.Terry’s and headed over to the Lighthouse for our first tryst with steamed mussels.

Step 1 | Clean ‘em and shave ‘em
As my bearded friend Eric said, “Unlike people, mussels are not better with beards.” The fuzzy beard of byssal threads, or fibers emerging from the mussel’s shell, had to be identified and removed before the execution could begin. We also picked through the bunch, looking for any mussels whose shells were opened—a no-no if you want the best mussel-eating experience that money can buy. And of course there was the rinsing, scrubbing and removing of any barnacles that we didn’t want making their way into our steamed mussel stew.

Step 2 | Prep the broth
In our case, the seasonings we used to enhance the mussel flavor was an array of fresh herbs (parsley and thyme), tomatoes, and the tried-and-true flavor-making ingredients of salt, pepper, butter, olive oil and white wine.

Step 3 | Let the execution begin
Once everything was prepared, the next step was pretty simple–combine and cook. Very little water is actually used in the steaming process because, when heated, the mussels open up, releasing their own delectable juices that blend with the tomato/white whine/herb mixture. Too much water and I’m told the flavor is lost.

Step 4 | Relax and literally dig in
Once on the table and surrounded by hand-cut french fries, fresh salad and homemade bread, the mussels didn’t seem as intimidating as I had envisioned. Onto the plate went each of the sides as they were passed about the table. And when no other side options were left, I made room for the mussels on my plate. Into the shell opening went my fork, releasing the meat from its encasing. It emerged with the unfamiliar, opaque blob of protein that is the mussel’s essence. It went into my mouth, onto the buds of my tongue and down my throat. With each movement of my jaw as I chewed, I processed the experience, challenged my preconceived notions of mussel murder, and made my conclusion: steamed mussels are sinfully delicious.

…Perhaps instead of a geyser of death, I can conveniently consider the cauldron more of a shellfish sauna.


Pulsifurry

Pulsifurry is the combined celebrity nick name of Eric Pulsifer and Lisa Murray, one of my all time favorite couples in the history of the universe. They are getting married in September and graciously allowed me to snap a few pictures of them this weekend. Here are some of my favorites.








And…end it on a chest bump!

 


An Austin-born love story

There is much to celebrate in Austin this week.

Last night this guy (Eric)

proposed to this girl (Lisa)

At this music venue (Mohawk)

…where they met more than two years ago at South by Southwest music festival. Heath and I were there to help them celebrate this momentous occasion, and it was indeed momentous. Congrats to Austin’s happiest couple!

 


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