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June 28, 2010

tropical storm alex causes second thoughts

 we were supposed to be prepping for our trip to south padre island later this week.  but we noticed tropical storm alex is also scheduled to dump rain on our 4th of july parade.  so we sort of took it easy.

red bud island gluttony

first summer kayak around red bud island and the all you can eat twinkies and ding-dongs were welcomed by the amh youth.

just floated in the shade and enjoyed some mexi-beer with lime.

aviary wine bar

we have a stack of living social/groupon certificates.  took the opportunity to try a few of the non kid friendly places from the list.  had a great time at aviary; a wine bar inside a furniture and housewares store.  we ran into a friend and enjoyed taking a new iphone 4 for a spin.  what good times.  love when we just happen upon people we know and like.  we lived in santa cruz for nearly four years and that never happened.  despite the fact that santa cruz is about 1/100th the size of austin.

snack bar

we also sampled snack bar.  kat can multi-task, read the menu and pour her organic german heffe.

snack bar beaker

water comes in beakers at snack bar.  fun place with a great location.  I do appreciate small menus biut theirs is not that interesting.  kat did enjoy the fish tacos.  also, they only have beer/wine lic here, something to note if you have a taste for cocktails.

we also ate quite a bit of asian food this weekend.  the daughter is starting to have mexican food withdrawls.

chinese bbq austin

I spent most of my spare time trying to install a new carpet kit into the vintage bmw 2002tii.  I had forgotten how much work it was to remove the seats, console, seat belts etc.  turned into a big job and then I find my new carpet kit is incomplete.  I was shorted one piece, scheduled to arrive later this week.  delay, delay, delay.  at least we have red bud island. 

 anybody want to go to RBI this coming wknd?


June 21, 2010

dancing the day away...

 rio rita's

I am always looking to try something new.  I'd read about the Rio Rita lounge on yelp and it was on the way so...  it was everything we had read about, quirky and odd, intimate and a bit unpolished.  the spiciest bloody mary we ever had along with a nice tree of celery, olives and peppers!  like spicy liquid salad.

world's best bloody mary habanero

kat agreed with all that said this was the best $10 bloody mary in the world. 

the habanero infused tito's did not encourage quick consumption and perhaps delayed us just about five minutes too much...  we were on our way to the califa arts collaborative, a partnership of dancers, musicians and visual arts. 

foot view

all the seats had just filled.  our friend michelle sourced some chairs for us to stand in, behind the back row.  when seated we were looking under the other people who had gotten there just a few minutes before us.  not the best seats in the house, but we didn't complain.  the show was great and worth standing in chairs for.

home with yellow fever, lisa del rosario

Home with Yellow Fever was fun.  I loved watching Lisa Del Rosario jump, dance, sulk, hide and become frustrated with her living roof furniture.  I had to wonder if she even realized there was an audience there observing her emotional fluxuations while alone at home with the music turned up loud. 

jarrett killeen califa arts collaborative 

jarrett killeen delivered a great soundtrack for movements expressing love, loss and attachment; my brief description of the dance piece, Hiding Places choreographed by our friend Michelle Thompson. 

Caroline Wright and Jason Marlow provided the visuals projected on the screen and our friend Caroline also accompanied some of the musical arrangements on her cello 

 caroline wright and michelle thompson 

caroline and michelle take a bow,

califa, jordan moser, caroline wright, orlando canova, oren porterfield. michelle thompson, beth terwilleger

I'll just list the people I know, Jordan Moser, Caroline Wright, Orlando Canova, Oren Porterfield and Beth Terwilleger; another santa cruz resident now living in austin (green shirt).  a big thanks to everybody who helped make that show such a success as we sure enjoyed experiencing it. 

east side to west....

a quick drive from one side of austin to the other to attend a back yard party at a friend's house.  several guys from treachery of others were also there enjoying this fine summer evening, and with a little coaxing took the stage while the first band was on break.

 treachery of others pick-up gig


quick tip: Maiko has happy hour all night on sunday.  reduced beer and sake along with an extensive food and sushi menu.  the smoked pork udon, sliders, qyoza and smoked pork sandwiches are at real bargain prices. 

dumpster dive briefcase

#1 son found a leather briefcase that was being thrown out near his mother's office.  he now has a yelp kit ready to record the every detail. 

gyoza boy

he selected the gyoza and had an enthusiastic approach to the consumption of those dumplings.  he also loves miso soup.

yelping since 2010

taking careful notes.  I'm hoping to see a yelp report crafted from his extensive notes.  I created a form for them to capture greater detail; similar to forms used by a secret shopper.  but let's face it, these two are easy customers.  nothing but four and five star ratings have been issued so far.

unagi avacado roll

I was sharing some unagi and avacado roll with kat when #2 son reached out for some.  he then shoved the whole piece in his mouth.  he was a good eater at maiko.  maybe we need to serve more japanese at home?  #2 son also enjoyed the udon and edamame.


"HEY! STOP, taking my picture"

maiko street scene

sunset on w. 6th with the AMH street team.


no drilling required (bp stab)

solar charge controller

the first solar panels is up and charging the battery for the smaller room at our wimberley off-grid cabin project.  no oil was spilled to harvest this power.  this PV panel powers LED lights and the power point the kids use for gaming devices and DVD watching.

composting toilet

the composting toilet is all sealed and ready for a deposit.  the circular white vent is the intake and exhaust is out the side via fan that will be piped up and out.

urine diverter

here you can see how the urine will be diverted for seperate treatment.  that bathroom also has a waterless urinal for the guys.  the box itself has a removable plastic tub with a layer of peat moss.  the tub will be emptied regularly for composting outside of the bathroom. 

June 14, 2010

carousel lounge and treachery of others

this place has some austin weirdness.  if this is a dive bar, let's dive in.

drink set-ups at carousel

this circus themed bar is BYOB, they do sell beer and wine.  if you want cocktails, bring your own handle and just set it up on the bar or your table, most do.  they will sell you a glass of ice and a mixer for $2.  this worked well for us.  a top shelf vodka tonic at most bars would involve a deeper wallet dive, but not at the carousel.  I also appreciate the actual carousel behind the bar with a crazy chicken on it.  you can't just make this up, authentic kitsch flavor takes time to steep.

yes, this place has been here since that was modern technology.  each table had one, but they are no longer operating.  they also had TVs that must have been a foot deep, odd.  wonder what they are hiding behind the screen.

Johnny enjoying some PBR before the show.  the walls have circus themed murals on them, and a certain bouquet that has been mellowing like fine wine.

a good crowd came to support the home team.

treachery of others

treachery of others put on a good show for their adoring fans and made some new ones.  the joint was rockin'!

added a slide guitarist to the mix of bohemian musicians.  yes, that is a pink elephant behind them.  he is not normally part of the band, but they let him sit in for this special event.

dancing at the carousel austin

then, a girl got up and started dancing, her partner soon joined. 

I know, you are noticing that piece of drop panel ceiling that is peeling.  you may consider to try this at home, but trust me, it takes decades to perfect this look.  you can't just make it up in 48 hours like some HGTV competition.  it will look contrived in your home.  come enjoy the authentic ambiance of the carousel.

more dancers at the carousel

then another couple took to the dance floor.  I know the boys in the band must have enjoyed this as these dancers were not part of their usual friends and family that come out to enjoy their music.  these were just regular neighborhood dive bar patrons enjoying good music on a muggy friday evening.

the carousel closes promptly at midnight and the band played till 11:59, the bar shut down before midnight as I saw the bartender refused to serve some guy at 11.55. 

off grid cabin back breaking labor camp

concrete screet

we had decided on a solid concrete floor for the bathroom.  not very complicated but carrying 21 80lb bags of quickrete mix in through the woods, and then 21 gallons of water, and then mixing, and pouring and screeting...  WHEW!  took us over 3 hrs.  we have to work off all that food we have been eating. 

 random pattern...

we had also agreed that we would place these eliptical black glass tiles into the concrete, in a "random" pattern.  kat took this task and I pointed out her pattern didn't look "random" to me, in fact it looked quite symetric...  she considered my statement, looked at her work and concluded her brain doesn't do random well; left brain/right brain.  she tried harder to achieve randomness and I like the result.

more random

off grid sleeper sofa

some friends found they had some extra unused twin beds to donate to our cause.  we shuffled some furniture around and we now have a sleeper sofa in the tall cabin.  looks great in there! 

 koi feeding

part of his morning routine involves feeding the fish.  they are growing very large.

home grown onion harvest

harvested some red onions from our garden.  they were delicious.

funeral for a bird

came home on evening to find kay-so (the cat) was beating up a dead bird.  we had a quick burial and the daughter played blackbird.

volunteer pumpkin flowers

volunteer pumpkin, from the remains of our jackolantern, is taking over the front yard.  the flowers remind me of chicken feet and that reminds me of pluckers and that reminds me of giant fireman's #4 beers and that reminds me of the carousel bar...

summer food fest continues

fried twinkie from pluckers

you know this post might just represent a few calories when it starts with a plate of plucker's fried twinkies.  this one serving was enough to satisfy five kids and four adults.  it is RICH and delicious.

face clean fail

kids are still taking notes and making their yelp entries, even though he can't seem to properly scrape the wings and fried twinkie from his face.

odd duck pork belly kimchi slider

had a great meal at Odd Duck Farm to Trailer.  what you see above is grilled banana nut bread with duck meat covered with cream, peaches and mint.  behind that is the glorious braised pork belly slider with kimchi.  the heirloom tomato salad and also the grits did not disappoint either.  this place is BYOB so bring your own drink of choice and any accesories needed to serve/open ( glasses/wine key).  next to Odd Duck is the famous Gourdoughs


Kat was skeptical about a "gourmet donut".  but gourdoughs did not fail to impress and all the hype was true and their prices have increased as well. 

back at the farm....  kat harvested some of her onions and I made several onion based meals this past weekend including french onion soup complete with locally sourced beef soup bone from grass fed organic cattle.

amh kids plate

this would represent a typical austin modhouse kid's plate, seared salmon over vermicelli in a cream of onion sauce, onion vinaigrette baby green salad and asparagus.  older two kids have always enjoyed this type of food.  so far #3 is still not cooperating. 


June 09, 2010

summer rain delay, time machine

having a big rain here at the moment, kids are watching Phineas and Ferb.  those two have fixed a time machine.  here at AMH I realized that I have not downloaded one of the cameras, #1 son's end of year school party pics have now been liberated.  now we can go back in time as well,  back to a sunny day in the park...

zilker park squirt gun party

tradition dictates they have a squirt gun party at zilker park.  I was here about four years ago with the daughter's class, #1 son was a toddler and came along with me. 

the party is unstructured squirt gun chaos, balls bubbles, pizza and cookies.

#2 son came along this year, and I expect I will be back here doing the same thing for him in another four years, tradition.


refill station.

there ya go, squirt the camera.

zilker park soaking tub

the tubs also served as his personal soak stations

pogo levitation

and a final levitation pic, unrelated to the eanes end of year party in zilker park

ballerina abduction


June 07, 2010

summer jobs and the yelp project

the daughter has graduated from elementary school.

one thing that I always love to find are people in the background, smiling at the camera.  I don't realize they are there when I take the pics, but find them when I am later editing the pics, grinning over the subject's shoulder.


the two older kids had their hearts set on a particular pokemon nintendo game that came with a pokewalker (a pedometer that will charge a pokemon with pokewatts).  they were discouraged at the expense and needed a way to raise some funds.  the first solution was to help me clean up the wimberley lot.

 I made a deal to give them each $10 for two hours of dragging sticks.  I promised to provide cold water, plenty of breaks and no expectations of them to move sticks beyond their ability.  an agreement was made and they would soon have their pokefunds.  the daughter went down first, she worked hard and didn't complain once!  we really made a difference.

summer stick carrying job

but then came time for #1 son to do his two hrs of work.  he had started complaining a week in advance.  he was worried it would be "too hard" (with a nasal sort of whine).  then he did the math and figured out he didn't NEED $10, he only needed $7.  he tried to renegotiate our agreement, he now wanted $7 for ONE hours work.  I told him we had a deal, two hrs work for $10.  take it or leave it.  he could't leave it alone, he then tried to strike a deal to work for 1 hour and a half for $7.  I explained that a deal was a deal and my patience grew thin on his renegotiation strategy.  he eventually did drag sticks for two hours and had to suffer the extra $3 his work provided.

she got her pokewalker funds first and we chose an ebay seller from roundrock, about 20 miles north of us.  she anxiously checked the mail box every day, and each day we grew more skeptical.  #1 son also selected his pokewalker game from an ebay seller, from ohio, purchased a few days after his sister's.  his arrived in two days!  her's was still not here.  this was not the lesson I had hoped she would learn.

I eventually filed a paypal claim against the ebay seller in roundrock and we purchased her pokewalker-game at sam's at a similar price offered by the ebay fraudster. 


the summer yelp report project

for additional summer fun I have stockpiled dining deals using groupon/living social.  the two seen above have been challenged to write a yelp review of each restaurant we redeem a deal/certificate.  the nintendo DS at the table have been replaced with notepad and pen.  they make notes on service, food taste and ambiance.  both of them took careful notes and did not share info.  the opinions in the reports are purely their own, he is an easy five stars, she is a slightly tougher customer.  FINO did put in a big effort to get their five stars from both, Ryan (server) did a magic trick and the manager also came out to introduce himself to the both of them. 

cava mimosa

the brunch at FINO was a big hit.  the daughter LOVED her "made to order donuts with vanilla crema" and kat's braised short ribs hash with black truffle and runny egg was delicious as well.  #1 son has been on a salad eating streak, he chose the mixed greens with moscatel vinagrette and manchego cheese.  the bottle of cava and carafe of pomegranate for $20 was also an adult brunch pleaser.

drink set-up at Rio's

for the evening summer project entry we travelled to austin's east side.  it was well worth crossing the tracks to eat at Rio's Brazillian restaurant.  we had a living social deal to get $40 worth of food and four drink "set-ups".  they don't have a liquour/beer/wine lic so you bring your own.  they brought out mason jars with pre-muddled limes, mint and sugar.  megan (server) poured our rum in and she shook with great skill and enthusiasm.  the food was quite good and we enjoyed many items we've never eaten before.  for $40 (paid $20 via living social) we got MUCH more food than we could eat at any one sitting. 

summer camp trip #1, pedernales falls

 wet crossing

loaded up the airstream and hauled it 35 miles to pedernales falls state park

twin falls pedernales

arrived in plenty of time for a quick hike to see the twin falls.

68 airstream overlander

terrible two!

he is really into this "terrible two's" role.  without any notice he will throw himself down on the ground, he will squeal and scream if we try to pick him up, squeal and scream if we don't pick him up and then suddenly he jumps up in a good mood and runs away...

I had done a google image search before our visit to pedernales falls.  none of the images do it justice.  it always seems so small in the pics compared to the actual size, too much to fit into one pic.  it was beautiful.

sandball toss

he loved playing on the sandy beach at the bottom of the falls.

I think those cactus are desert spoon, used to make sotol

no swimming allowed at the falls as the currents are strong.

he never missed an oportunity to make a sandball and throw it in the water.

there are several levels of falls and it requires a good bit of climbing and hiking.  each dose of effort was rewarded with new pools, falls and vistas.

after lunch we made our way to the section of river where swimming is allowed.

the banks of the river area were blanketed with wild flowers.

we spent the entire afternoon soaking in the river and napping in the shade on soft sandy beaches.

merida hammock

nearly ten years ago we purchased that hammock while visiting one of my favorite cities, merida.  glad to see it getting some good use.

V8 lover

the first two kids were not picky eaters.  they always loved to try new foods and ate whatever we ate.  #3 IS a picky eater, but he sure LOVES V8.

less than an hr to get home.  I think we'll soon return.