Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summer Wrap-Up

A few weeks ago, I posted on here about how the summer was flying by and how I wanted to make sure that I didn't miss out. I included a link to a list of "101 Bits of Summer Fun," and I used that as my springboard. Since then, I've managed to have quite a few bits of summer fun. Here are some from the list:

*Stay up late (I did this several times in order to finish books.)

*Read a book, or seven (See the right-hand margin for recent reads.)

*Write a letter

*Plant something (Unfortunately, the hibiscus had a short life due to the drought, but most of the vinca is still thriving.)

*Eat breakfast for dinner

*Go to the library (I checked out The Mountain Between Us.)

*Take a class (I took 2 at Arthur Murray--thanks to a Groupon--and learned how to waltz!)

*Sing a song (I did this in the car, but I counted it.)

And then, I made up some of my own:

*Attend worship led by Kari Jobe (Amazing!)

*Plan a reunion with my small group (We met for dinner each month, which was a lot of fun.)

*Attend the opening night of The Help (This was worth going on a week night!)

*Try a new restaurant during restaurant week (Eddie V's in Dallas was fantastic!)

*Attend the Longhorn Rally at Joe T's (It was fun to see all the burnt orange and get an update from Coach Brown on what to expect this season.)

I'm blaming this summer's record heat for the fact that I didn't attempt more. Most nights, after walking in the 110-degree heat from the building to the parking garage and climbing the stairs several flights, I just wanted to come home and sit under a fan. So next summer, or maybe even this fall, I'll be a little more proactive and reach out to others by working in a soup kitchen, baking cupcakes for neighbors, or taking books to the children's hospital.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Peace in Austin

The traffic southbound on I-35 is always a nightmare, but the three hours are worth the stress once I arrive in Austin. Every time I arrive, a sense of peace settles on me.

I can't explain why Austin has this effect on me. I don't know if it's because it was the first place I lived on my own after college. Or if it's because it has the best restaurants in the whole state. Or if it's because my favorite football team is there. Or if it's because it's close enough to home to feel like I'm with my family. Whatever the reason, I try and find opportunities to get to Austin whenever I can.

[The view from my hotel room was a view of the building I worked in many moons ago.]

I was just there at the end of May through the beginning of June, but I took the opportunity to spend the night there on my way to a conference in San Antonio. And while I was in Austin, I managed to try a few new places.

First stop on this trip = Lunch at La Patisserie, which has earned rave reviews for their macarons. The lady at the counter was the friendliest cashier I've ever met, and she was thrilled that I correctly identified their sweets as "macarons," not "macaroons."

After some shopping at Kendra Scott and a few of the vintage shops on South Congress, the heat demanded that I make a stop at Sno Beach. There's a reason that Austinites mark their calendar each spring for the opening day of this place.

Dinner was take-out from Hyde Park Bar & Grill, known for their fries, and then I also grabbed some breakfast treats from Quack's Bakery for the next morning.

I got to hear the executive pastor from Mars Hill preach at The Austin Stone, and then I headed to Driftwood, Texas, to grab a bite to eat at the world famous Salt Lick BBQ. The BBQ lived up to its legendary status, but I wasn't a fan of their sauce.

After more stressful southbound I-35 driving, I arrived in San Antonio, right when the Cowboys were there. They were staying at the Grand Hyatt, while I was at the Hyatt Regency. Their buses were visible at all times, and they received a police escort whenever they traveled throughout the city.

The best part of the conference was catching up with two of my grad school friends and trying new restaurants with them. Here we are at Paloma Blanca after eating some great fish tacos and delicious tres leches cake:

Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures when we were at Paesano's, Druther's Cafe & Catering, Dough, or Tre. But I did snap a photo at Boudro's of the chicken with guacamole risotto, which the waiter told me not to get because he thought I should get a steak:

It was absolutely delicious! And I'm glad we ignored all of his dessert recommendations.

On the way back, Austin called my name again. This time, I tried my first trailer food in the form of cupcakes from Hey Cupcake.

And when I returned, I went on a diet. THE END.