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November 29, 2010

big bird fried up all crispy and spicy like

I don't think we'll ever be able to go back to regular oven roasted turkey.

turkey injector

thanksgiving eve had me shooting up that bird with a spicy brine.

helper dudes with beers

afternoon had us dudes in the backyard tending the 375 degree oil bath

big bird in the fryer

that was until....


gran turismo 5 had just been released and I stood by the bird in the cold by myself as they raced, two steering wheels and all.

austin modhouse  cajun deep fried turkey

the bird was super moist inside with the perfect amount of spicy/salty/crispy.  about the only way I like turkey.

roasted red pepper soup

my favorite holiday meal item is usually this cream of roasted red pepper soup.  I floated some pistachio/herb oil in top

thanks from austin mod house

good company helped pass the evening.

we had some friends from louisiana come stay with us the day after thanksgiving.  had a pan seared salmon feast the night after thanksgiving (no pics, people just standing in the kitchen with more eating and drinking)

the hike up mount baldy, wimberley

hiked up mount baldy saturday morning

leaning pear lunch again

cava lunch

took 'em to wimberley for lunch at the leaning pear, found some cava there.

french 75, the amh international cocktail

troy got slightly international with the French 75, then off to the party.

2nd annual westlake blind beer tasting

had a blast at the second annual westlake blind beer tasting.  the theme this year was craft beers.  there was quite a variety of styles represented within that subset.  fun to taste them side by side and try to pick a favorite.

brunch at TNT (tacos and tequila)

sunday morning sent us out looking for some quick and cheap mexican food.  we found TNT and after we had our table we realized there was no menu, just an $18 brunch.  we were hungry so we gave it a shot.  the $18 per adult price ended up being a bargain!  there was a fresh tortilla making station, eggs benedict, salmon enchiladas, flan and so much more.  along with bottomless mimosas and a DJ.  it was well worth it and I bet we'll be back.

austin hike and bike trail

took a stroll along the hike and bike trail.

kat's fried balls

some friends came by and helped kat work on her spicy fried ball recipe.  she is getting really good at this!  tonight's balls were stuffed with stilton and scallion. 

stuffed with stilton and scallion

thanksgiving art 2010

sort of a tradition that I apply a holiday themed drawing to my chalkboard. 

November 22, 2010

zombie farm as life example.

#1 son had been playing zombie farm, it was a frequent meal topic.  kat was the last person I would've thought to get caught up on a virtual farm game.  now her tap ranch takes an increasing amount of time to tap-farm.  she enjoys it, so I figured I'd see what this was all about.  I figured it would be more fun if zombies and the eating of brains was part of my farm/ranch attempt. 

so I started a zombie farm.  then #1 son had a farming failure.  he lost all his zombies and he had no gold.  shortly after that setback, we got a call from his teacher.  while she had admitted that he already knows everything on their curriculum for this year, he is still expected to be interested and behave like a gentleman.  

so I confiscated his electronic devices.  no ps3, no after school tv, no nintendo and no itouch/iphone.

while I had his device, I had a look around his farm.  he had used all his gold to buy a bunch of decorative items that had no utilitarian zombiefarm value.  he had invaded the farmer at early opportunities with the minimum amount of zombies.

he has been so good about not complaining about being bored, he has shown genuine remorse for annoying his teachers and classmates.  so, I decided I would manage his farm while in my care.  when I hand over control of his zombie farm tomorrow, it will have a full army of mutant zombies!  some times you do get a second chance.  I'm glad I can help my son along in life.

mutant zombiefarm

and his zombies are HUNGRY about brains.

black angels at la zona rosa

we finally got to see the black angels!  good show too!  pics from iphone 3gs

my sister, her husband and their twin girls came to visit (nebraska football season)

attempting to photograph twins

we attempted a portrait.  not easy to get one toddler to cooperate, two is near impossible.


they have found out about the ipad....

kids discover the ipad, smells expensive

#2 son was comfortable navigating it right away, thrilled to find a giant iphone.  #1 son is now trying to find a way to make some $ so that he can move into one.   

roll on roof paint for the early econoline

I've started some of the bodywork on the van.  the sun had punished the roof paint away.  not a big problem in dry el paso, but in austin we need to cover any exposed bare metal to keep rust away.  working from the top down.  have also pounded out a few dents and got some new shoes for it too.

#2 son has added a new word to his vocabulary, "VANNNNNN!"

November 15, 2010

I am a van man again

when we lived in santa cruz, we had a few vintage bmw 2002s.  we had what they call "round-tail" 02, due to the shape of the tail lights. 

bmw 2002 "roundtail" 

then one day on the way back from happy hour at ninety nine bottles of beer I spotted an odd vehicle next to me at the red light.  it was like a VW van, but not, and it had round tail lights and said "falcon" on the side.  some indie-rock scenester/surfer dudes inside.  I went home and searched the internet until I found out what that thing was, a ford econoline from the years of 61-67, some badged as falcon vans.

I started searching craigslist and after some goose chasing and negotiating, we found ourselves with one of our own (we actually had to buy two as part of the deal but I sold one right away)

rusty the econoline van

and we even bought a second van.  this one (above) was "kat's van"  we named it rusty.

when we moved to austin, it didn't make much sense to ship these to texas.  we'd only paid $500 each.  rusty was sold to a guy with a journalism internship in orange county, he was using it as a mobile apartment (slept in it).  last I heard he was going to attempt driving it home to michigan (or minnesota, can't recall)

my white van was painted yellow by a movie production co.


they had rented it for the movie and managed to get a bunch of parking tickets I had to fight.  I still haven't seen the movie (black august).  I even had a small part as an extra.  filmed at the marin county court house, designed by frank lloyd wright.

more pics from the movie shoot here http://www.schusterphoto.com/movivan.htm

so, fast forward a few years, I am watching a local tv newscast on la boite, shipping container turned coffee shop done by same architect that designed austin mod house.  the reporter was standing in front of a container, and next to that container was an early econoline!  here in austin!

link to architect blog and kxan newscast here

so I started to watch the classified listings.  no cheap $500 vans around here....

the first tx van I bought was a 1966 dodge a100, from deep woods east tx.  #1 son and I fetched it ourselves.  I had relied heavily on the seller's opinion of how rusty it was , upon closer inspection (the next day), it was rustier than I wanted to fix... (pic below is when we hauled it home)


I got the engine running, cleaned it up and sold it at a small loss, pic below is current owner hauling it away.  incidentally current owner called me this weekend!  he replaced all the brakes and it's running well.  he is in the middle of ignition upgrade and hoped I could offer insight, I was no help but glad to hear he is doing well with it. 

then a falcon van came up in middle of nowhere tx.  I made a deal with the seller for $800. 

 falcon van

went to pick it up and found a bit more rust than I was hoping for, renegotiated down to $600.  we got it running and as we drove it to my trailer I asked to see the title.  the seller reached into the glove box and proudly displayed an envelope, with a green registered mail sticker on it, it was unopened.  I opened it for him and found a blank dmv form and a phone number....

I explained that I was NOT buying a vehicle I can't title.  I have done the bonded title bit before and that was more hassle than I was looking for again.  he quickly called the number found in the envelope, "HI! I bought an old ford van from you six years ago, do you remember? NO?  I bought it from an older gentleman?"  about this time I was packing up my empty trailer.  they have since relisted the falcon van for $2000.

THEN, I found one for sale in el paso.  I struck a deal with the seller.  the van had belonged to his father who passed away.  I arranged for a car hauler to get it for me.  my days of wild goose chasing were over.  I had decided I was keeping this one, no matter what. 

the auto transporter's driver called me, the phone number to the seller was no longer active.  great!  there was a brief panic as I'd already paid the seller.  I did a quick internet search using the address where I sent payment, found a land-line number to his mother there, the real seller of the van.  I couldn't get in touch with her.  it was a tense situatuation. 

the driver did manage to find her and arranged to get the vehicle one day later than expected.  he called me the next day, "for a 1966 this thing is in pretty good condition!  a couple dents here and there but it runs REAL NICE!"  WHEW!  that really made my day.  the driver went on to say that he lives there in el paso and since it was now friday, he'd prefer to deliver to me on monday morning so he can have the weekend with his family.  how could I not agree to that? 

monday morning came, and went.  I tried calling the driver to get an ETA but now his cell number was not working, went straight to voicemail.  by afternoon I was getting concerned and called his dispatcher.  by evening they too were concerned and left a mssg with his wife.  tuesday morning came and still no word.  I pressed for details and they finally found out that the driver was in jail! his truck, their trailer and all the vehicles on it, impounded!

I called back early wednesday morning, starting to get impatient.  I was pleased to find out they had sent an emergency driver with cashier's chk for the impound lot (no bail for the driver).  he spent all day liberating the truck and trailer and finally made it here to me after 10 pm. 

I got my van!

like the first driver had said, body is in good condition, no rust, just a few dents here and there.  and it runs great!  starts right up and hums nicely.  all the brakes, lights and windshield wipers... everything works!  I'm happy.



of course kat has already noted that we can't live with that green.  looks like I have another body and paint project.

was happy to find a bunch of spare parts were loaded into the back.  I didn't even know they were part of the deal!

when the electronic games are not an option...

funny thing happened when we spent the weekend off-grid, the two older kids played TOGETHER.  I went down early, kat had some business to attend to while the youngest caught a long nap at home.  while I worked, I told the kids to occupy themselves, but not with nintendo or iphone.  a short while later I heard laughter!?  they were playing with a round inflatable thing (ball) and a hula hoop. 

I even overheard "oh, no!  the ball went on the roof!"  then I heard it roll off, followed by another round of actual laughter!  I don't think I've ever heard them say anything about a ball/frisbee/kite landing on the roof.  I thought that sort of thing only happened 30 years ago...

anyhow, they had actual real fun and managed to do so without i-devices

I made a tool shed that piggy backs off the bathroom.  the cabins are so much nicer when they are not pulling double duty as storage sheds.  made mostly from scraps.  I also made a roof between the bathroom and long cabin.  this will be the shower area.

(larger pic here) the kids enjoyed the camp fire 

off-grid bathroom composting toilet and waterless urinal

starting to resemble a real bathroom

sleeping loft

made a sleeping loft on the tall cabin.

really starting to feel like a second home!

we even took our bikes for a nice ride around our wimbelrey neighborhood sunday morning.  like a mini-vacation

saturday night.... one of our favorite restaurants,

campus oaks zinfandel 2007 at leaning pear wimberley

we ate at the leaning pear saturday night.  they have an $8 corkage fee so I took a bottle of kat's favorite wine, campus oaks zinfandel (lodi).  while I loved the 2005 vintage, appreciated the 2006 vintage, I find the 07 to be quite the fruit bomb.  I found the intense raspberry hints to be overpowering for a meal.  maybe when paired with certain cheeses, but not nearly as utilitarian as previous vintages.  kat was happy. 

in shade tree mechanic world....

custom porsche battery bracket

still prepping the porsche 911 for sale, the battery strap broke and I was struggling for a clean method of install.  I said to myself "if I only had one piece of metal that bend like this and then like so and...."  I love to do my own custom fabrication.  after days of head scratching, it only took about fifteen minutes to fabricate my own bracket and it installed first try.  works just how I imagined it.

1972 bmw 2002

oh yeah, I am also doing body work on the vintage bmw...  the big dents have been removed, now to remove all the trim and glass to prep the body for paint.  not easy to do with a troublesome 2.5 y.o. at home, I get an hour here and there, but I really need a few solid days, a helper would be nice too.


November 08, 2010

red team/blue team, FOR THE WIN... we all lose (no win situation)

I usually keep my conversation free of politics and religion.  I often note how I don't really care for sports...  although I see a lot of people who seem to be quite religious about sports and as of lately politics seems to be more of a sport with just two teams.

 we did vote on election day.  I don't subscribe to one particular school of thought and it is difficult for me to understand how all the issues can be polarized down to just two choices, red hats or blue hats.  both teams seem to be more interested in securing power than actually serving the public.

I listened to NPR that afternoon, they interviewed voters as they finished voting for their particular teams.  one woman seemed to sum up the voter sentiment accurately.  she readily admitted voting for the blue team two years ago, but has now switched over to the red team this year.  her reasoning was the recent loss of her job and healthcare....   this reasoning left me more confused than ever.  this method of knee jerk reaction voting and blaming one/or the other team for immediate circumstances is like determining your vote on the weather.

and while I'm breaking my own rules here, it really irks me when I hear conservative party people talking about "christian values".  I'm not sure those people have a good understanding of what Jesus was trying to promote.  he would have certainly been for a healthcare system that included everybody.  and jesus would have surely promoted a conflict resolution that did not involve invasions and bomb strikes.  I'm not saying I have an answer, but I don't see government/politicians applying any "christian values"

what is the role of government?  how much is too much?  two years ago the people and politicians cried for the government to fix the economy and banking system.  similarly confusing was this health care issue.  it seems poor people already get healthcare via medicare at the cost of tax payers.  part of the new laws require for everybody to buy health insurance (gov't sponsored or private) and this has voters in an uproar.  I don't hear of people complaining about gov't requiring auto insurance, that seems to be an acceptable part of life here.   

 there are two main schools of thought on what ended the first great depression.  some believe it was government spending while others believe it was WWII.  tough choices indeed.  the political atmosphere of today seems to blend in with all the other reality tv shows, just another form of bad entertainment.  I don't see that either team is looking to cooperate and help their constituents.  mostly a bunch of flag waving chest beating and finger pointing.

 stepping off soap box. 




E.A.S.T. (east austin studio tour) opening reception 2010

bay6 schuster photo east 2010

there was a fun opening reception at bay6 this past saturday eve.  I have one piece hanging for EAST this year. 

big giant pencil artifact at BIGmedium

in a simultaneous event, the EAST catalog release party was happening next door at BIGmedium.  #1 son learned about the town of grip river and some of the associated pencil artifacts.  I had the pleasure of sharing some laughs with the mayor of grip river, ian o'brien.

I also spent some chatting with local cabinet/furniture maker, Mark Macek.  during a previous east  I had inquired about his work and received an odd response.  but all is good now and a fine example how misunderstandings can be worked out over a quality beer.

how I felt hats

my mom has found a new skill as felt hat maker. 

vintage porsche 911t for sale

some last minute clean up of the trunk on the 1970 porsche 911t (911rs tribute).  I plan to list it for sale later this week. 

baby on bike

our pool has been out of service since july.  my exercise schedule has suffered.  I used to love riding my bike but they have laws against leaving the kids at home to fend for themselves.  now I can ride with #2 son as passenger.  we rode up the street for an open house.  we walk by the house often and used the opportunity to get a closer look. 

designed by john watson this concrete dome spans the ravine like a bridge with the living areas underneath, but this was no troll habitat.  

jon watson architect 

many pools and water falls run down the middle and underneath.  it pained me to hear the realtor tell every visitor that the architect had studied at "tally-essence".  for commission on a 1.4M home I would expect she could learn how to say it correctly; Taliesen 

infinity edge pool

the home features an extremely beautiful pool


my EAST contribution

November 01, 2010

Halloween 2010, where the wild things are

 Halloween 2010, started in the neighborhood...

amh halloween 2010

party up the street.

amh princess

international cocktail

then to a second party where we found that the french 75 still manages to spark things up just a bit.  haven't found a situation where it does not apply...  truly international.

marvin the chicken dog

the word over at the elementary school is that the Lion and Rose pub is haunted.  this was news to the staff there, but we had to let the kids explore it for themself. 

halloween lion and rose pub

these two holed up in the game area over some chess.

Uchiko pulls out ALL the stops. five stars!

 Chef Tyson Cole has a food blog that has been following the opening of his latest restaurant; Uchiko (the sibling of Uchi).  the pics of the food had sparked our interest so we made a date with some fancy-food loving friends to go experience this place ourselves. 

uchiko good eats

I made reservations via opentable.com  there was a field for "Special Requests".  I figured if they were offering, I'd go ahead and ask for something "special".  I requested, winning lottery numbers, a gnome riding a unicorn, pretty women and fast cars...

uchiko gnome riding a unicorn

it was like christmas came early when Chris (server) presented me with the artwork above.  this place really does all they can to ensure your visit is memorable and everything you could hope for.  I was certainly pleased by my gnome riding a unicorn.


crunchy tuna roll, hama chili

we had started our meal in the bar area.  they have a "social hour" from 5-6:30 PM every day.  a great selection of food offering are available at half price.  this is a real bargain not to be missed if you are going to be dining here.  the specialty cocktails and a wine selection were also at half price.

uchiko social hour


hot rock beef uchiko

the hot rock beef was fun, but not my favorite.  a big hot rock on rock salt is served with raw beef, you apply the beef to the rock, cook it yourself. 

koviche- Uchiko's signature scallop ceviche

the koviche (Uchiko's signature scallop ceviche) was one of our favorites along with the Hama Chili (also available at uchi).

in other news, also had a nice meal at Ranch 616

ranch 616 huge plate

the plate above is ONE entree' at the ranch 616, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, two beef taquitos, a quail and a nice sized fillet mignon.  easily feeds two.  their delicious fried oyster appetizer seen at the back.

EAST, east austin studio tour 2010 opening reception

East Austin Studio Tour 2010 is approaching.  the good people at Bay6 have an opening reception Saturday Nov 6th from 6-10PM.  always a good time to be had at their opening receptions, you should add it to your calendar.  I will be in attendance as I have a featured work hanging during EAST, stop by and say Hi!

Bay6 Gallery E.A.S.T. 2010

the address is

5305 Bolm Rd #6

austin, tx 78721

in other art/photo related news, had a great family portrait session for some friends of ours.  the pics turned out nicely.  funny thing about the "JUMP" pics, you never have to ask to say "CHEESE".  jumping produces natural smiles that can't be produced on command.

jump portrait schusterphoto.com