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December 28, 2011

Dallas, it sounded like a good idea....

 kat and I had a short visit to dallas in november.  kat kept saying "I wish the kids were here to enjoy this too".  I was a bit more "are you kidding me?  I don't think this is for kids, it's best enjoyed with adults (at meddlesome moth), I think they're happy at home".  but, we gave it a shot anyhow. 

I had mentioned how much I used to enjoy window shopping at stanley korshack at the crescent court... kat asked that I take her this trip.

crescent court shops dallas fountain stanley korshack

I knew there would be a charge to park in their underground garage, the rate was posted.  what we did not know is that they were closed on monday 12-26, the day after christmas (when every other store in dallas is open and packed with customers).  so we walked around the fountain, got back in the vehicle and was prepared to pay my $1.50 for thirty minutes (the posted rate). 

I was surprised when the machine said I owed $5, real surprised.  so much so that I turned the engine off and pressed the help button on the machine.  the security guy explained that $5 was the weekend rate.  I explained that MONDAY is not the weekend.  he was unimpressed with my knowledge and countered with "today is a HOLIDAY SIR!  holiday rate is the same as weekend rate, but I'll open the gate for you".  I hadn't prepared our trip to the nice pretty store to result in debate, but I had grown impatient.  "had I known you were having a HOLIDAY today, I would not have ENTERED your parking garage, there is no need for me to visit a store that is closed and I don't see why anybody should have to pay MORE for your HOLIDAY".  it went back and forth like this a few times until there was silence, and the gate opened.  the kids asked "dada?  are you angry?" 

and that is how it went.  things were MUCH better at the highland park village.  easy free parking and all the stores were open.

molto formaggio highland park village

our last trip to dallas had us loving der scharfe maxx cheese from scardello's, can’t find it in austin.  we found ourselves outside molto formaggio at highland park village and checked to see if they had some.  they were amused by our request, said der scharfe maxx had been rejected by their customers as being "too strong".  we were laughed at the ides of DSM being too strong, this seemed to be a challenge to them.  samples of several cheeses were promptly issued. 

we loved the challerhocker (32.95 per lb) and got a big chunk of it.  they drafted #1 son to be a temporary employee, without employee discount benefits.  also enjoyed were Grayson and Mont des Cats (both 29.95 per lb)

#2 son started to throw a fit.  his mood was swiftly corrected by a scoop of free jellybelly beans by the shop owner.  they have made long term customers of us!

molto formaggio gourmet cheese shop dallas

I used to work in men's retail fashion, at norhthpark mall.  1987, I wore designer clothes and I took designer.... ah never mind.  it's a nice mall with nice stores and I thought maybe, just maybe there was a slim chance I could find a new jacket on sale.  my thrift store purchased armani jacket has finally failed.  barney's is a beautiful store with beautiful items and I found a sales associate with her lovely head of purple hair and we found some beautiful jackets marked 50% off.  at that price there were still about a thousand dollars, or about 10x my jacket budget.  we moved on.

we found some beautiful dresses at neiman marcus, kat could have filled them nicely.  but when #2 son ran straight into the dress display, only to find there was a shelf corner behind the pretty $2,000 dress...  a bruised face he did receive.

all the regular stores were PACKED.  often thirty people waiting in line just to purchase.  and #2 son was not cooperating...  this was not fun.  I asked kat and the kids if there was ANYTHING they wanted to shop for, anything they wanted or any store.  they wanted nothing.  I should be thankful, but it made the whole being at the mall thing sort of silly.  so we looked at the art.

Jonathan Borofsky (American, born 1942) northpark mall dallas

Jonathan Borofsky (American, born 1942)
Five Hammering Men, 1982

northpark center has a fantastic modern art collection including several works by andy warhol and frank stella. 

double room at anatole dallas hilton, asian theme

the anatole has 1606 guest rooms.  I'll bet no more than 20 were occupied the day after christmas.  we took the opportunity to explore the huge spaces by ourself.

asian art collection anatole dallas hilton

the anatole also hosts a large private art collection, over 1,000 pieces with an emphasis on asian art.  the hand painted plate above is one of ten that have survived the firing process.

rolling down the stairs at the anatole dallas

what?  roll down the stairs?  sure, nobody else is here.  go for it.  they rolled all over that hotel.

kinetic sculpture and reflecting pool in an atrium section of the anatole

two huge atrium allowed for some running, rolling and relaxing.

interactive bar at media bar and grill anatole-sort of lame

I had read up on the hotel restaurants and such.  I figured the family would like Media bar+grill and their interactive bar.  but it wasn't that impressive, my iphone is more impressive.  an ipad is MUCH more impressive.  it took 30 mins to come out of sleep mode.  and when it did wake up, it didn't recognize my touch. #2 son had the best response, it followed his touch.  just more proof that I'm a hollow soul-less shell of a man.  thanks ibar.

media bar and grill anatole, not so impressive interactive bar

meddlesome moth:

kids at meddlesome moth

you can see the kids were excited to be there.  I'd asked them what they want to eat and the answer I got was "enchiladas" (not on their menu).  I let the two older kids each order something.  they got brussel sprout salad and an organic green leaf salad; good for them.

fennel meat balls at meddlesome moth

the service, food and beer were all excellent (fennel meat balls above were really good).  I was quickly worn down by dealing with uncooperative kids.  #2 son threw a fit because they didn't give any crayons.  I asked the hostess to find us some, she did, and then he threw them.  #1 son was laying down or putting his napkin over his head...  I was about to explode.  had to take #2 son outside for a talk. 

meddlesome moth again...

their attitudes changed when the dessert came.  should have ordered that first!

dessert at meddlesome moth

berlin wall sections at dallas anatole hotel

two sections of the berlin wall at the anatole.

communist mao portrait at the anatole dallas hotel asian art collection

a portrait of mao and a plaque that noted that it was part of history and the anatole does not support mao or his communist party cohorts.

we searched for something to interest the kids, dallas world aquarium.

dallas world aquarium

there must have been something of interest over my shoulder.  but #1 son's attention span did quickly dissolve.  about fifteen minutes into the $85 aquarium trip, he started to indicate every exit.  "is this the end?  it says exit, can we exit now?" and so on he went.

shark walk tube dallas world aquarium

shark tube under the water.

dallas aquarium sharks

dallas world aquarium shark tank and people tube

shark tank from above, you can see the people walking through the tube. 

beautiful flamingos dallas world aquarium

the flamingos had the correct color balance and composition. 


kat's dome cake sliced and eaten

kat's dome cake was a HUGE success.  congratulations to my wife for a baking success!

korea house bbq bulgogi austin

went to our best local korean bbq place, cook it ourself, we did.  requested the lettuce leaves too!  better than last time, but not the best korean bbq we've had.  but the best option in austin we've found.

korean bbq food korea house austin texas usa bulgogi and spicy squid

sister creek winery reserve tasting texas

we visited the twin sisters winery more than two years ago.  cellared these two bottles and finally opened them up for a tasting.  the reserve bottle was my favorite, very oaky, not bad!

when #2 son saw this video after the special effect was added, he ran over to the wall sections and pointed to the ceiling, “there is a CAR! UP THERE!” he was convinced it had been real.

Christmas 2011

christmas in texas

had Christmas at my dad's house.  some things remain constant and some things have changed (same fancy table setting, new wife and house).

cajun deep fried whole turkey for christmas and green egg smoked pork

his fried turkey was as good as ever.  we realized how my thanksgiving turkey was not nearly as good as it should have been.

godley texas back yard

the kids enjoyed running in his big flat back yard, he did not enjoy the dirt they tracked all over his new flooring.

christmas buffet

fancy cakes and pie for christmas

new step brother wrestles a fried turkey

with his new wife, we get new step family.  we are all grown and have family of our own, so nobody used the "step" word.  it's great  having some fresh faces around the christmas tree, after a brief time to get adjusted to looking at the new people/family over a good meal.  we've all done it before, no big deal. 

christmas pickles

you know he had to get some pickles.

converse chucks for christmas

organized christmas chaos

#1 son got sidetracked by a game of strategy with someone new.  he completely forgot about his stack of presents yet to be opened. 

gamers unite on christmas day

then he walked away from the whole present opening event... left his stack there on the floor.  he only opened half of them.  that is how much power the game has over him. 

christmas whack-a-mole

this was the first christmas #2 son had a good handle on the situation.  he really enjoyed every gift and all the people/family around

portal 2 shirt

all three kids received portal 2 related shirts.  he had to put his on right away, and he requested it every day since. 

plants vs zombies for ps3!

everybody got what they asked for and more.  they've been good kids.

valve comic and portal gun shirt

layered peppermint cheesecake from southern living melodie belcher

they put a lot of work into this layered peppermint cheesecake recipe found from southern living.  I'd say they did a great job recreating it.

xbox kinect calorie burning for christmas feast

there is a new xbox and kinect at my dad's house for christmas.  we spent 36 hours oscillating between burning calories by jumping over virtual logs in a virtual raft so we could return to the real buffet and intake more calories. 

burning christmas calories with the kinect

kat and the christmas cows of godley texas

kat and I braved the cold to go check out the neighborhood.

christmas champagne cocktails the ruby slipper

as the sun set, the champagne cocktails started to flow.  that first bottle went fast, what?  you have a second, well if you insist.

remote control bloody hand stump

and #2 son had a blast with a remote controlled hand.  it even climbs the wall.


December 23, 2011

yum, yum, yum, PICKLES! happy holiday wishes from the folks at AMH 2011

yum yum yum pickles


we've noticed the two boys have an odd phrase they drop at random moments, often followed with laughs and giggles; "yum, yum, yum, PICKLES!"

then, about a month ago, the wife and I were going through school papers.  kat appreciates checking in on their assignments this way, she struck gold.  we found that #1 son had chosen a pickle theme to his work...  (below)  "get me some pickles now!"

pickle related imperative and exclamatory sentences

(click here for full size version)

"hey Joe buy me a pickle cannon!  This food is horrible!  but look at that pickle!"

it was a rather serendipitous moment, we knew then and there what this year's holiday portrait theme should be.  pickles. 

so, merry christmas, xmas, Hanukka, kwanza, festivus or whatever you choose to celebrate this holiday season.  we have christmas, if you don't, that's ok by me.  I'm not one for telling other people what to think, follow or believe.  I expect other people to respect the beliefs or non-beliefs of others.  that is what this country was really founded on.

go be merry, do good deeds and don't have your pleasure/joy come at the expense of others.  after all, that is what Jesus would have wanted for his birthday. 



December 19, 2011

christmas of 2011, all prepped and ready


kids are out of school this week.  we had a mad rush this past week to get the christmas shopping done and presents wrapped.  kat was happy with her ribbons, pretty paper and such. 

dome cake prep

12 years ago, kat worked at the PTO in northern virginia during the day.  she commuted by train/metro; two hours in each direction.  all while finishing her last year of law school, evenings classes at UB.  we had one car and one infant.  I stayed home with the infant and served as driver for the mad dashes to catch the train etc.  I had a lot of time between train station/school runs to cook, while the daughter napped (wich was not frequent enough).  I made elaborate meals for the weekends and big pots of food to serve as her weekly packed lunches. 

kat remembered the chocolate dome cake I used to make.  she decided to attempt to make it herself.  they often say that cooking is an art and baking is a science.  kat loves science.  she is the scientist, I am the artist.

the perfectionist understands that if the directions are followed exactly, the results should be predictable.  but, without much real baking experience, some things that may be intuitive for one baker are not so to her.  I'm always surprised when she finds unexpected challenges from the recipe that seem clear to me.

the perfectionist follows a recipe and directions differently than how I would work it.  she works each item to completion before advancing to the next instruction.  experience teaches you that the double boiler required for a future step, should be started ahead of time.  the recipe often doesn't spell it out.  a recipe that might normally take an hour to complete often requires longer in the perfectionist's kitchen.  it was a slow weekend, we had the time.  it was fun.

there were a few speed bumps.  I carefully lobbied the kitchenaid mixer to be a better option than the her breakfast bowl and hand whisk whipped cream method, the freshly melted chocolate setting up all the while. 

dome cake ganache

end result looks delicious.  can't wait to bust into that dome!

chocolate dome cake with orange liquer and genoise

I love chocolate!

dodge a100 split windhshield install

we enlisted the help of the daughter.  SUCCESS!  installed the split windshield in the dodge a100 hotrod van ourself. 

cuatros video screen table

we met kat at cuatro's friday evening.  they now have touch screen computers embedded into the tables. 

cuatros cucumber gin margarita

we sampled what the waitress described as a "cucumber gin margarita".  I realize it's not a margarita at all having no tequila, but it was tasty and I will be experimenting on making a better (no high fructose corn syrup) version at home.  stay tuned thirsty reader. 

texas ruby red rio star grapefruit

texas grown rio star ruby red gf!  I hear the local HEB has 18lb bags on sale for $4.98!  well known to annihilate cold and flu bugs, I'm heading to pick up a bag(s) soon as I hit this here publish buton.

squishing ruby red grapefruit

this is my GF squisher (GF=grapefruit, not girlfriend)  we get half a pint from each GF.

afin modern japanese tapas and sushi happy hour

took the kids to Afin for the all day sunday happy hour.  $2 kirin draft beer and half price sushi!  sunday-funday just became cheap eats sushi good times day. 

hill country middle school orchestra eanes 2011

daughter performed with the hill country middle school orchestra. 

westlake high school center for the performing arts hill country middle school orchestra rachel horwitz austin

the westlake performing arts center is a great venue. 

rachel horwitz hill country middle school orchestra eanes 2011

rachel horwitz does a great job with these young musicians.

soco south congress austin motel 

warm weather (high of 61) this weekend afforded us a leisurely stroll and shopping trip down south congress/soco.  marvin wore his holiday best.  he also graced the barton creek farmer's market with his canine charisma.

barton creek austin farmers market

December 12, 2011

it's the first wave of christmas and a new van came to me...

 highball christmas party

kat's firm had their annual holiday party at Highball.  real 1950's vintage bowling lanes and private karaoke rooms.  lane number 3 is not exactly flat, but it was fun. 


highball bowling alley austin tx

I noticed kat was a bit perplexed when the whole karaoke room busted into a sing along with Bohemian Rhapsody.  it was a new song to her.  imagine her confusion to see her colleagues shouting in unison...

"I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouche, scaramouche, will you do the fandango?
Thunderbolts and lightning - very very frightening me
Galileo, galileo,
Galileo, galileo,
Galileo Figaro"

bowling with cocktails

the amazing mutli-tasking attorney can bowl and manage a cocktail/martini at the same time.  he didn't spill a drop.

early christmas 2011

we have an early christmas gift exchange with my mom.  she goes back to nebraska to spend the holiday with my sister. 

trickle down iphone

his sour mood improved after he received a hand me down iphone.  now, #2 son gets the itouch and we are a complete i-family. 

fireman's #4 at pluckers

it was also kat's birthday.  she enjoyed a free meal from pluckers, and a big #4.  then a fancy dinner at carillon that eve. 

fried oysters from carillon

Carillon has quickly become our favorite fine dining option.  we arrived early to enjoy happy hour and fried oysters (above) at the bar. 

deconstructed caesar salad from carillon at&t conference center austin

we don't enjoy large portions.  the three course menu was perfect for us to share, a real bargain!  we really enjoyed the fun to look at, and delicious to eat white asparagus caesar salad. 

hamachi carillon austin

they have an open kitchen at carillon.  I requested a table as close as possible, I love watching the action.  the chef did not hesitate to gather his staff to note any imbalance in the presentation.  he carefully corrected their implementation using tweezers.  the endless pursuit of perfection. 

olive oil poached tenderloin carillon austin att

they split the olive oil poached tenderloin for us.  what you see above is half of one entree.  it was plenty for us and VERY good.

I don't normally order a dessert at dinner, too much sugar.  but, I did enjoy this petite gift from the chef (above).  a perfect ending to a perfect meal.  chef also gifted us a nice amuse bouche at the beginning of our meal, a citrus glazed salmon tartare (not shown), delicious. 

piano eanes elementary assembly pep rally moment of silence

#1 son performed for the whole school this past friday.  (video below)

 new paint on a dodge a100 hotrod

so I'd known about this van...  sounded like a an opportunity for somebody who would enjoy a puzzle.  it had been take apart for paint but never reassembled.  price was fair, and then the seller lowered that price.  I went for a look, I was prepared to walk away.  then.... the seller made me an offer I couldn't refuse.  so I went back this morning and drug it home. 

dodge a100 1967 hotrod van 

dodge a100 1967

those wide rear tires hint at what makes them roll (spin)

dodge 318 a100 v8

this engine is a real beast.  sounds like a rabid grizzly bear who was prematurely disturbed from hybernation. 

December 05, 2011

all these voices... singing in my head... or at the capitol

texas state capitol austin

texas winter weather and rain were lingering about, but we stuck to our plans and went to the capitol.  A Cappella Texas was having a holiday singing event.  we know one of the singers in that group; gary, he makes good jelly/jam. 

texas state capitol ornate details

we've lived here for years, but this was our first time in the capitol.  many ornate details that you'd expect of an important municipal building, sort of like being inside a wedding cake. 

texas state capitol rotunda barbershop singers

texas state capitol rotunda ceiling

texas state capitol rotunda floor

I did not like it up there at the top.  grabbed a pic and ran back from the edge I did.

texas house of representatives christmas tree

found a christmas tree in the house of representatives.

texas capitol house of representatives christmas tree 2011

toddler invaes texas house of representatives

"uh, hey!  get back here.  you're not supposed be in there"...  does he look like he cares? 

jim bowie in the texas house of representatives

only portrait of Jim Bowie

texas chili parlor austin 

I'm very opinionated about chili.  several years back I had a REAL chili, real chili flavor, from actual chilies, and chunks of fork tender meat (not ground) and a real spicy kick to it (no beans).  I worked on my technique until I was no longer happy with any other chili.  until....  texas chili parlor.  GO THERE!  it's right by the capitol and cheap too!  their gumbo was also good.


we did enjoy the exhibit of works by El Anatsui, but then something caught our attention.... the tall skinny white girl on high heels was doing karaoke to sexy back (justin timberlake).  we were amused... 

blanton mueum of art b-scene karaoke

and what followed...  could only happen when you have a bar, inside an art museum in austin texas  (examples at the bottom)


nutcracker at the blanton

carillon pate appetizer UT att conference center

one of our favorite stops near the blanton, carillon at the att conference center.  duck liver pate' with house made fig mustard.

more rain and cold weather....  it was inevitable... guinness time

best english pub in austin half/half at the dog and duck pub

we've concluded that the BEST place for a proper english/irish beer is the dog/duck pub. 

texas girl eats 20 jalapenos like it's nothing

I warned the daughter, "that chip you have has at least twenty jalapeno slices on it".  her reply, "yeah?"  she easily gobbled it up.  her brother was a bit more reactive when he accidentally got jalapeno juice in his eye. 

apple tartlets

kat is back at the tarts.  a work in progress. 

highland lane austin bowling alley

sunday at the bowling alley.  kat's dream of us getting better at bowling is coming true.  it takes three consecutive sunday trips to the bowling alley.  I finally gave up trying to use my "found" ball that has only two holes that are way too big for my fingers.  I switched balls and tried to break into triple digit scores.  and then it all came together, STRIIIIIKE!  on my final frame I even got back to back strikes.  everybody saw a good jump in their ability to get the ball to make contact with the pins.  I finished at 117 and I was happy with that. 

air hockey

kids also played some air hockey.

bad korean food austin

hot korean soup sounded great after all that bowling, but the place we landed at sort of sucked.  so we went to the dog and duck pub, again.

dog and duck pub pinball

#1 son claimed this was the first time in his life he saw a "real" pinball machine.  he'd only known the virtual type.... so we stuffed some quarters in it.  or as they say at the korean cafeteria "ONE-FOURTH!"

spicy fried green beans at dog and duck pub austin

the spicy fried green beans at dog and duck were good, as was the fish and chips.

dog and duck pub walrus