This Saturday we followed our friend Christine to a “pup crawl” on Rainey Street to benefit Weimaraner Rescue of Texas. About 60 dog lovers leashed up their hounds to show support for the local rescue organization and to enjoy a cool pint and warm weather in the process. Along with the doodles, I also brought the nikon out for the walk, resulting in the following canine collage.
We actually didn’t do a single home improvementy or garden-oriented project this weekend. Not. A. One. So what DID we do during our weekend with a freshly deposited pay check and perfect weather? I’m glad you (I) asked! Here’s how we stayed busy…in rhyme, of course. As if there’s any other way.
Friday night was a treat you see,
including pizza with friends and a documentary.
“Searching for Sugarman” was its name.
’bout how the singer Rodriguez rose to fame.
Saturday morning we were sleeping late,
followed by a trip to Perla’s for a hot brunch date.
We split some oysters from the East and West,
and had a lobster omelet ‘cuz it tastes the best.
Then we headed south, down the highway
to hang with my Papa who I’m proud to say
is perhaps the wisest person I’ve ever met
a claim upon which I’d place a bet.
We all shared a cocktail and a glass of wine
and we talked all about our India time.
We didn’t build a fence or paint a wall.
Sometimes you need a break from the pace of it all.
It felt real good to move a little slow
without projects to conquer or veggies to grow.
Next weekend I’m plannin’ big things with my spouse,
‘cuz that’s how we do it at the doodle house!
While I’m on a roll here, blogging about my mediocre photography abilities, I thought I’d share a few photos from an East side photoshoot I had with members of Your Friendly Ghost. I figure inevitably, at some point in your life, you wind up making friends with someone in a band. I have done just that with the guitarist of Your Friendly Ghost—a Black Keys-esque quartet trying to make a name for themselves in the Austin music scene. Tristan (more affectionately known as Wolfman) asked if I would mind taking a few photos of the band, and the potential for making four handsome lads pose like members of a boy band was just too much for 14-year-old Kelsey to pass up, so I obliged and we headed to East 6th Street to get our photoshoot on. I’m not sure I have a future in band photography, but I’m pretty confident in my abilities to recreate NSYNC poses. So there’s always that.
This weekend Heath and I met up with pals at the 2012 Texas Craft Brewers Festival at Fiesta Gardens on Lady Bird Lake.
There were dozens of micro brew booths at the fest, which, according to our buddy and home brew aficionado Mike, was twice as many as were in attendance at last year’s gathering. Yes, the surge of micro breweries in Texas has quite literally doubled over the past year, and you won’t hear any complaints from us. And considering that micro breweries may be one of the only industries not in recession, it seemed like the only American thing to do was to get out there and grow the economy, one beer at a time.
The selection at the fest pretty well covered the spectrum of beers: dark and light, bold and mild. We got to taste 6-oz samples from some of our old favorites like Live Oak and some new ones like South Austin Brewery. Neither of us are much in the way of beer experts, but we do know a good beer (and a bad one) when we taste it.
The satisfying and sobering Blogworthy concoctions included:
- Flying Monk by Adelbert’s Brewery—A rich and nutty brew that’s as delicious as it is dangerous at 10% ABV.
- Saison D’Austin by South Austin Brewery— A beer on the dark side with a little kick and spice but still goes down smooth.
- Das Wunderkind by Jester King Craft Brewery— A sour beer, which is apparently “in” right now but looks like foggy water and tastes like vinegar. (In other words, don’t do it.)
- Smokin’ Beech by Circle Brewing Co.— An unusual, thick beer with smokey flavors that aren’t overwhelming but definitely get the taste buds tingling. I could get down on a pint, but think I would need to switch to something less anomalous after that.
Good beers or bad ones, we enjoyed ourselves sipping on cold and distinctive brews on what was the first chilly day of fall, overlooking the lake and chatting with pals. I imagine we will be back at next year’s fest, especially when I know it makes Heath so happy.
Some weeks we gorge on pounds of homegrown lettuce, handfuls of cashews and gallons of freshly pressed juice. And sometimes we eat bacon marmalade and pizza topped with fried eggs. This week was definitely splayed with the latter. Food was the central theme.
We chomped down on dishes from some east side establishments we’ve been meaning to try for a long time, but hadn’t yet got around to visiting: Blue Dahlia Bistro and East Side Pies. Blue Dahlia is a European fusion bistro, popular for its patio dining and open-faced sandwiches on soft, freshly baked bread. East Side Pies is nearly the exact opposite—a pizza joint which enjoys notoriety for it’s crispy thin crusts that serve as the canvas for unconventional toppings like salami, sauerkraut and avocados. (Not all on one pizza, though. That would be too bizarre even for Austin standards.) Though each provided quite different experiences, both warrant return visits and reminded me why I love living in city that embraces things like curry pizza and pets on the patio.
Of course, once you’ve broken the unhealthy eating seal, it’s easy to justify making poorer (but not really) decisions down the road. Saturday we made three different stops at friends’ homes across Austin that featured slow-cooked braised rib, fried polenta, Niagara Falls portions of home brew and a dessert of strawberry crepes. The calorie count may very well rival the Michael Phelps diet.
Why stop there? Mondays are the days to start anew. You wake up early and run a quick 5K, down a protein shake before work, eat a salad for lunch and skip dinner altogether, except for maybe a few grapes or a handful of almonds. Yes. That kind of eating is for Monday. Sunday is a day for brunch. And that means a pancake bar, basil mimosas, brown sugar bacon, habanero apricot dip, poached eggs and homemade tortillas. Every bite of brunch was sheer ecstasy, and the food coma that followed was definitely worth it.
I’ll just say, it’s a good thing wedding season is nearly over and I don’t have any bridesmaids dresses to fit into in the near future. After this weekend, I may need to fast for the rest of June. Worth it.
There are few rituals Health and I abide by religiously: one is watching every game of Heath’s favorite sports team The Dallas Cowboys, one is playing foosball to decompress after work, and one is attending a weekly ceremony appropriately known as Movie Night.
Movie night started as Mad Men Mondays–a time when friends would come together to mooch off each other’s cable television and watch the previous night’s episode of Mad Men. But then the show went on an extensive hiatus and we were still itching for some way to pass the time with dinner and TV. (No books of course. A book club would be way to classy for the likes of us.) Thus, Movie Night was born.
Movie Night has become a staple for we doodlers for several reasons. First and foremost, it gets us out of the house and prevents us from being weird anti-social hermit crabs. (This is extremely important as Heath and I can often get sucked into home improvement projects and forget the rest of the world exists. We even bailed on SXSW this year to redo our kitchen, so it’s sort of a problem.) Second, it’s a terrific way to see films I probably never would have known existed, much less watched, on my own. Third, like watching an episode of Lost, we get some pretty good backstories on our friends. Selected movies are usually given some context for why they were chosen—whether it was a Christmas-time family tradition, a film that had an impact, changed someones way of thinking, etc. You can learn a lot about someone based on their movie choice for this most precious of traditions.
As you may have presumed, Movie Night operates as follows:
- A different person volunteers to host each week
- A specialized cuisine is prepared by the host (sometimes related to the film, sometimes not)
- A film is selected, screened, and discussed.
One truly enjoyable aspect of the ritual, is there are virtually no limitations or parameters set for what type of film can be screened. We’ve viewed everything from Ding-a-ling-Less, the part-comical, part-bizarre story of a fictional man who is, well, minus one ding-a-ling, to Waltz with Bashir, an astonishingly original animated documentary about the 1982 Lebanon war. (And oddly enough, both were chosen by the same Movie Night Patron.) Having no guidelines, no theme, no confines from which to operate within has allowed for some wonderful cinematic experiences that have been eye opening, contemplative, riotous, thoughtful and other diverse but intriguing adjectives.
I’ve started to view movie night as more than just a weekly social gathering. On paper, I suppose that’s the gist of it, but for me personally it has taken on a greater role. While not a totally original concept (I know, dinner-and-a-movie is a classic date-nightish staple in American culture), this weekly gathering of friends, communal cooking, humorous reflections and fresh cinematic experiences will forever be engrained in my memory as unique custom specific to a truly remarkable stage of my life. Most of us are existing in a weird, post-college transitional stage where we’ve all disembarked, in one form or another, from our own families and family customs but have yet to create our own. So in a sense, Movie Night is my family’s Saturday trip to the public library, my after-school ballet rehearsal, my summer trips to my grandparents’ house. It’s a custom I take great joy in experiencing, but know–like my ballet rehearsals—will eventually come to a close. I aim to cherish it while it’s here.
Mom to me: So in between all of this traveling back and forth to Denton for wedding responsibilities and working on house projects, when are you finding time to have fun and do your own thing?
Good point, Mom. It is high time I started being way more selfish and irresponsible.(What? That’s not what you meant? Well, that’s how I’m taking it.) I mean, when your own mother points out the fact that you are kind of being a lame 20-something-year-old, you really owe it to yourself to pick up the partying pace. Don’t mind if I do take a weekend off from painting and pruning to indulge in some merriment.
The first non-home-improvement related activity of the weekend: backyard party and musical extravaganza.
Our friends Tristan (musician) and Monte (intellectual) hosted a backyard shindig to celebrate the former’s birthday. Among other things, their late-night get-together featured a keg-loving kitty and live performances by Your Friendly Ghost. We’ve experienced a healthy variety of interesting party panoramas (including a cheap beer taste test and drinking among living manikins at The Gap to name only two), and this one lacked the grandeur of some of our other weekend romps in terms of food or fanfare, but was nonetheless a thoroughly enjoyable evening (completely free of drying Spackle or matching paint colors). After all, it’s not every day you’re granted front-row seats to an exclusive musical performance from one of Austin’s most talented up-and-coming bands. Point, Robinsons.
For day 2 of our vacation from renovation we went to the Live Oak Brewing Company on the East side for the local microbrewery’s 15th anniversary celebration. I attended an eerily similar event last year which I blogged about here. The biggest difference between that event and this one is mostly (and by mostly, I mean totally) in the numbers (14 years vs.15 years). The party was pretty much identical to the previous celebration…from the music talent, to the weird school bus themed bounce house, to the tortilla wrapped bratwurst. But it was free beer (the best in Austin), free food and perfect weather…so not at all something at which to turn up your nose.
From there we wandered to campus to hear Minus the Bear play at 40 Acres Fest. The annual concert is free for all, and in the past has hosted much bigger players like Little Richard and The Roots. This year’s show was much more scaled down than others I had experienced, and probably drew about 1/4 of the crowd, though even then, I’d venture to guess there were 400 or so MTB fans in attendance… mostly (as to be expected) students. Heath and I felt like old codgers in our folding lawn chairs off to the side of most of the concert action, but still had to hand it to ourselves for making it out after several hours of day drinking.
Lucky for us, sound was still pitch perfect from our side seating…AND we got to see the most ridiculously huge Texas flag hanging from the main building and acting as a backdrop to the emo/rock music. So, no curtain hanging this weekend, but definite flag hanging for sure…in fact, I’m fairly certain I’ve met my Texas flag quota for the year.
On Sunday we finally broke. We had to stop at Home Depot to get a few knick knacks for some side projects we have planned for later in the week. After all, we’re only human and can’t be expected to stay away from our calling for long. So I guess the weekend wasn’t COMPLETELY without thought of home improvement projects.
To make amends for our infidelity, we opted to spend the later morning/early afternoon taking in Sunday brunch and cocktails at Nomad. The neighborhood bar has time and time again won awards from The Austin Chronicle for having the best bar staff and being one of the best neighborhood bars, and it’s my prediction it won’t be too long before it gets a nod for its brunch. The brunch, by Mark Rivas Catering, is $13 for all you can eat brunchy goodness that includes a waffle bar, omelet bar, fruit bar and 23480234234 other options that get me in a tizzy. Admittedly, I probably love it so much because it’s walking distance from the house and has an option for bottomless mimosas, but since moving to the new casa, it’s been tough to abstain from brunch binges at Nomad.
And just like that, our weekend was done. We tended to the chickens and watched the latest episode of Mad Men, but other than that the house was unchanged. On Monday morning, the old house looked just as she did on Friday afternoon.
I know when my mother said we should take time for ourselves, she didn’t so much mean “take time to party, and sleep in, and be lazy.” She meant take time to travel and explore and experience new things, which is still on the docket for a weekend in the very near future; but heavens, I did enjoy my weekend of reckless disregard for my status as “homeowner” and drinking adult beverages with child carelessness. Still, I might be a little excited about returning to my rightful role of diligent caretaker to the doodle manor in the coming days.
Sometimes on your lunch break you have to grab a sandwich. Other times you have to grab some good design ideas to get you through the weekend. No, I don’t mind if I do spend 30 minutes of the lunch hour perusing the rooms of Uptown Modern, my favorite vintage furniture shop in Austin.
There’s a lunch where I won’t mind asking for seconds.
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!
Downtown Austin as seen from Ladybird Lake during a Sunday dog walk.