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January 30, 2012

whip in, gibson yelp elite and AMH ravioli

gibson austin bar yelp elite party

first yelp elite party of the year was at gibson.  free vodka drinks from three olives, free beer from real ale brewing (love that fireman's #4)...  yes, it was good.  very very good...

gibson bar s. lamar austin tx 78704 yelp elite party

three olives vodka cake girls at gibson's yelp elite party

me and a couple of sweet-cakes... I'm like a king!

luke's inside out provided food

yummy food from Luke's inside out.  the savory cheesecake was delicious, kat said the pork thing was good as well (I'm not eating meat so I just doubled up on the liquids).  we also enjoyed cake balls from SugaPlump, rich smooth and decadent. 

yelp kelly s/ check-in high five 

a friend returned a stainless steel ladle we’d left at her house.  I tucked it into my jacket pocket, went on about enjoying the party.  I used my iphone to check in and was rewarded with a high five to be redeemed from kelly s. (yelp community manager for austin).  I found kelly, got my high five and just as we made contact, the big ladle fell out from the bottom of my jacket, onto the floor between us, with a loud clang.  I just scooped up my ladle and left kelly s. slack-jawed.  I figured it was best to keep my ladle with its shroud of mystery in tact. 

amber's bitch

our friend amber affixed this name tag to the back of her driver for the evening "amber's bitch".  good clean fun and free vodka go together like peanut butter and jelly.... or like mulder and scully

yelp elite pics 2012

yelp elite pics 2012 ladle king

yelp elite party at gibson

happy good times as usual.  so we left to meet up with the kids at imperia, downtown austin.  sat in the Buddha ultra lounge and enjoyed happy hour half priced food.

happy hour food from imperia austin

it was good.

imperia ultra lounge buddha pad thai austin tx

he loved the pad thai. 

the queen of imperia buddha ultra lounge austin

the area we occupied is more like a casual living room.  two couches face each other with a low coffee table between.  it's perfect for us.  kat was queen of the place.


caesarstone dwell contest entry


caesarstone and dwell are having a photo contest.  I took a pic of our apple martini island for an entry.


fun at chaplin cotillions austin

some kids get the idea that the cotillion dances wouldn't be fun.  a few kids don't enjoy it, but the overwhelming majority do.  and some are having a great deal of fun.  it makes me happy to see them enjoying themselves.

austin chaplin cotillions fun


equisetum horsetail plant

our once proud and tall horsetail plant (equisetum) has been sort of sad.  its job is to provide a bit of a privacy screen between the front door and the street.  we have decided to replace it with bamboo.  we recently received a much needed 5.65 inches of rain in one night.  the dirt was nice and soft.  made easy work for the removal.

concrete planter austin modhouse amh

homemade tri color pasta ravioli austin

then we moved in to make tri-colored ravioli.

garden grown greek oregano

the daughter harvested some greek oregano from our garden.

greek oregano from our garden austin west lake hills tx

baked mushroom crisps like bacon

I baked some mushrooms in olive oil and garlic.  they get a bit crunchy and so flavorful.  #1 son says he loves them as much as bacon. 

roasted red pepper pasta sheet

I roasted a red pepper to add to some of the pasta, red pasta...

homemade roasted red pepper pasta

angel hair pasta/noodles!

spinach pasta sheet austin homemade

fresh spinach provided the green pasta tint

austin modhouse made pasta

I had been explaining to kat how I planned to make the tri-color pasta.  she's comfortable with complicated technical writing, but sometimes I can't easily explain verbally.  but once she saw what I was talking about, she was all set.  kat had a firm grasp of the operation and sent me away so she could finish by herself (she works best that way).  I had to go shower for our evening plans anyway. 

tri-color pasta sheet ravioli

pretty pasta!

spinach and roasted red pepper pasta sheet


whip in austin

celebrating yet another birthday, I didn't tell anybody where I was taking them.  just that it would be casual.  the whip in started life as a convenience store on the i35 frontage road.  over years the indian family that owned it added indian food, and then they added draft beer and wine.... they even have a stage in there.

beer and indian food on I35 austin whip in

a total of 72 (yes, SEVENTY TWO) taps of beer with a very impressive assortment of belgian beers.  one of the signs read "finish your beer, there are sober kids in india" 

whip in austin interior

inside was very comfortable and inviting.  the table next to us enjoyed their beers and played games, and we all enjoyed the music and talked to strangers.... 

chana masala whip in austin

the indian food was good too, chana masala ($8) was good as were the samosas

belgian beers from whip in austin

three belgians and a texan (guess which one is from tx).  then back to austin modhouse for dinner.

sockeye salmon wild caught alaska

sockeye salmon!  ok, I'm the sort of vegetarian that doesn't eat land animals.  salmon makes up a good part of my diet... a real good part indeed. 

sockeye salmon dinner austin modhouse

the ravioli were stuffed with ricotta and parmesan along with the mushroom crisps and oregano.  I also made a salad with roasted red pepper, cayenne candied pecans, shrimp and a bleu cheese, honey and lemon dressing.  it was another good meal. 

baby robot

some kids play with dolls or action figures.  he has decided this robot is his "baby"  he carries it around and cares for it.  it's fitting in some way, makes sense for today's tech saturated modern family.  at some point in the future it'll be the robots taking care of us, and yes, they will eventually turn on us and hack us all to pieces.... but for now, it's a cute baby he has.  at least he doesn't want a snake or a spider. 


Gung Hay Fat Choy, Chinese New Year in Austin

chinatown chinese new years austin

we usually go to chinatown shopping center up north for chinese new years.  it gets bigger every year.  we had to park quite a distance and then fight the crowds.  the firecrackers were LOUD.  we ate some noodles while lions danced all over the center and the air became thick from firecracker smoke.

 being intimadated by chinese lion dancer austin tx

I think this lion is trying to intimidate me...

texas lion dragon dancers

slightly less intimidating now...

chinese lion eats dollars lettuce and oranges austin texas

TC noodle co. staff fed the lions lettuce and oranges, #1 son fed them dollars. 


texas dragon lion dancer

each dance crew has a support person that follows with a shopping cart filled with bottled water and bananas.  this guy ran over like it was an emergency.  he SLAMMED TWO bottles of water in seconds, squishing the bottles to get the water out faster.  then he ran back in for more lion actions. 

dragon dancer austin texas chinese new years

then a big truck pulled in with the next group of lions, dragons and drums.  this young man was very enthusiastic about his dragon waving.  they brought a lot of energy with them. 

drummer chinese new years austin

this young man was so happy to get some time on the drums, they made him stop so they could unload.  he looked like he could keep drumming all day. 

gung hay fat choy austin tx usa

dragon dancers austin chinatown chinese new years

asian american austin texas

lions all organized and lined up, lots of stretching to be done. 

stretching lion dancers austin tx

stretch.... and....

lion tamer dancer stretches austin texas

I think this young man above is the lion tamer or Buddha

gung hay fat choy lion tamer austin tx usa chinese new years

and IT'S ON!!  that lion tamer guy was going wild with that fan!

lion tamer austin dancer

lion and dragon dancers austin texas chinatown usa

they made their way to the front of the MT market. 

MT market asian market austin texas usa chinatown

chinatown shopping center austin tx

we got our own lion!

chinese lion dancer marionette puppet toy

January 23, 2012

architects of air MIRAZOZO Luminarium

 architects of air at the long center austin tx 2012 mirazozo

we'd read about this, became curious and decided to give it a view.  it wasn't that easy.  we first tried to go on MLK day, only to find it was sold out.  sold out at $8 per person for a 20 minute viewing...  so we thought some more and doubled our effort.  I went early one morning and bought tickets.  the ticket lady advised me to show op before 3PM to avoid a long line, kids won't be all be out of school till 4PM, the last admission is 5PM...  this was getting complicated.  kat left work early to meet us, I went to p/u the daughter from school, but she forgot and got on the bus anyhow. 

the boys and I drove back home and waited the 30 minutes for the bus.  kat went ahead and got in line back at the long center.  we arrived at 4:45!  I paid $7 for parking, this was now nearly a $50 20 minute event.  but we got in.

mirazozo austin tx

architects of air austin 2012

mirazozo architects of air 2012 austin

mirazozo austin


I've noticed a lot of people got new DSLR cameras for christmas.  good for them.  unfortunately many of these people have NO idea what they have.  they find the auto modes, point, and click.  that works MOST of the time.  I've grown impatient with these dslr slingers who are ignorant of basic light knowledge.  like when we were at the dallas aquarium and people were trying to use the flash, in a dark space, up against a giant wall of glass, that reflects the flash back at the camera.  or at live shows when I see people using the flash for a subject that is WELL BEYOND the reach of their flash.  they preview the result on the back of the camera, lift it up and try again, and again.  we saw this once at the one world theatre.  the girl was blasting us all with her flash and not getting the band on stage at all.  she finally told us "it's not my camera, somebody gave it to me and asked me to take pictures"

anyhow, there are really only about 4 adjustments you should learn about your dslr:

shutter speed: length of time the sensor is exposed to light, faster to stop fast moving objects and slower to allow more light in

f-stop: size of the hole through the lens that adjusts depth of field (focus from shallow to infinite) and also how much light comes through (shutter speed and f-stop are the two main adjustments to set the pic)

digital cameras have brought two new manual in camera adjustments not present on film cameras

ISO: this is the sensitivity of your sensor to light.  lower numbers offer less noise and more detail, but need more light.  newer cameras have a huge iso range and if the pics are going to be sized down for web posting, high iso settings can still yield plenty of clarity and work in low light settings.

WB (white balance):  this is an adjustment for light source.  this is usually left to auto, but there are times when you need to change it to record the light as you see it.  super saturated color situations can really throw the AWB into messing up the color

for the pics above, I first bumped up the ISO to 1600, slowed my shutter down to 1/25 of a second and an F-stop of 7.1.  the blue color was WAY off in my test shots so I turned the white balance to Daylight.  a wide angle lens at 10mm was used to get the most of the small-ish spaces.  regular focal length lens would have captured bits and pieces. 

I try to avoid using a flash unless for fill-flash, as seen below.  yes, you can shoot directly into the sun and use fill flash to light your subject if you don't want them to appear as silhouettes.

if you can't wrap your head around all that, just use your iphone.  it's pretty damn good for a point and shoot with enough light. 

into the light




downtown austin at dusk sunset

austin sunset from the long center

super tall double decker bike guy austin

on the way to the mirazozo luminarium, I saw a guy riding a bike that was about 12 ft tall.  he was at a red light, working hard not to tip over and land on the roof of the car next to him.  he managed to keep it up and slowly advanced when the light turned green.  at the next red light I saw a guy riding his bike, shirtless, with his cat on his shoulders...  it's good to live in austin. 

chocolate fountain boy

the chocolate fountain is the stuff dreams are made of. 

bmw 2002 paint

I have spent SO MUCH TIME working on removing body damage and repainting the wife's "72 bmw 2002.  it used to be mine, but she started driving it regularly and fell in love with it so...  the paint and bodywork are not perfect, but I've reached the point of "it's good enough" and I'm putting it back together.  bit by bit and piece by piece, another vehicular puzzle.

austin skyline from west lake hills

temps have been in the mid to high 70's!  went for a neighborhood walk, this is the downtown view from our street. 

wimberley cabin barn loft

I've told kat that all decisions about fixing up her barn/cabin on the blanco river near wimberley were up to her.  there are a few things that have to be done FIRST.  I've learned when she starts off with "I had an idea" I should not respond with "another one?".  she has ideas for shelves and flooring and walls...  I am more about what needs to be done first and I'm trying to not help (lead) any decisions.  I did offer that "a window that swings out from one side" is called a casement window.  they are not that common, and certainly not cheap.  she found some on craigslist, but they are MUCH too big for her cabin.  but after she saw how much they cost new, I was dispatched to go get them anyhow.  so now I have to build a home around two jeld wen 2'x7' casement windows.  we gotta start somewhere.  at $130 each, it was a bargain.  but now we have more stuff to store and the garage is about to burst. 

jeld wen casement windows for the future


January 16, 2012

train in vain and some skrillex too

 three day weekend, what to do?  #2 son was watching a video about metropolis II, the giant hot wheels and train art installation at the los angeles county art museum.  #2 son got excited about the train.  I had a brilliant idea!  he's never been on a train, I figured we'd go ride the new-ish metro rail.  I studied the map and schedule.  we parked downtown (yes, we are reverse commuters) intending to ride to the crestview station where I knew we could get a snack to eat and some beverage and then ride back downtown.

austin cap metro rail fail

parked, metro rail platform found and ticket machine said "out of service"  we noticed an LED sign that said the rail line would be closed on monday for MLK day, but this was sunday.  I found a phone number for help, called...  and eventually got a human that explained that the rail does not operate on weekends.  we could not find that information posted anywhere around the rail platform.  so we got in the car and drove to the crestview station.   

black star co-op brewpub austin

ahhh black star co-op!  a brewpub where you can buy an interest in their operation. 

austin brewpub black star co-op crestview station

the beer was good.  everything was very democratic, absolutely no tipping and many items are self service. 

pickled turnips at black star brewpub co-op austin

we LOVED their cheese/charcuterie plate.  many interesting options, loved the pickled turnips.

cheese plate at black star coop brew pub austin

the crestview station is directly across from black star. 

cap metrorail austin does not run on weekends

the train platform illuminated for trains that don't operate on weekends. 


truluck's happy hour

met some friends for saturday happy hour at truluck's to celebrate a birthday.  all cocktails and bar food is half price 5-7! 

negative calorie food: texas grown ruby red grapefruit

kat believes the grapefruit is a negative calorie food.  she burns more calories operating the squisher than the fruit offers.  what you see above is really an exercise routine

blistered shisito peppers

I blistered some shisito peppers.  set some aside for seeds to grow our own.

blistered shishito peppers

SKRILLEX for the Moment of Silence:

eanes elementary friday pep rally assembly moment of silence skrillex scary monsters and nice sprites cover piano

#1 son played for the friday assembly once again.  he has been learning a skrillex song, scary monsters and nice sprites.  he shortened it and slowed it way down to make it applicable for "the moment of silence"  his version below, and the original by skrillex

January 09, 2012

spinach ravioli and wimberley property inspections

 kat worked long hours all week and into the weekend, I had some evil bug that had me feverish all week.  but we all took a break on sunday.  we've not visited our wimberley property(s) for months.  figured we'd go down to check on them.

leaning pear quiche wimberley restaurant

after a fantastic lunch at the leaning pear.  we have started our annual vegetarian schedule. 

stuck in the mud wimberley off grid house

we found that somebody had come to look at the off-grid property and got stuck in the mud!

blanco river between wimberley and fischer tx

it's always the river, blanco river where we really relax. 

january 2012 blanco river

rock hopping winter in texas blanco river wimberley

it's january but temps have been in the high 60's and low 70's all week.  the boys had to get their feet wet.

blanco river baby

kat hatched an idea to make pasta, I reminded her we have a pasta making machine deep in the pantry.  I also suggested ravioli.  and so we did....

pasta dough

beer bread dough

the daughter made beer bread.

spinach pasta dough and the pasta machine

I osterized some fresh spinach to add to the pasta.  watch out kat!  that spinach pasta is trying to get into your grapefruit juice mixture!

ravioli filling for homemade pasta

I mixed up some goat cheese with sun dried tomato and a bunch of fresh oregano from the garden.  we sealed it up with egg wash.

spinach ravioli with sun dried tomato and goat cheese

home made ravioli austin

some fresh basil that we brought inside before the freeze and a bottle of brazin.  I had some leftover leek stock from soup I took to a party on new years day, combined that with a cream of sun dried tomato for the sauce and it all made for a great sunday night meal at home.

shiner holiday cheer beer bread

daughter's beer bread was the best I ever had.  my dad had sent us home with a bunch of the shiner holiday beer "cheer".  he didn't like it, and we found we didn't like it either.  has peach and pecan in it and ....  just doesn't work.  however, it makes GREAT beer bread. 

canned ham

while driving down fischer store road, between wimberley property #1 and #2, we saw this....  we had to pull over.  my long term plan is for kat and I to have something like this to pull behind a vintage van.  these "canned ham" trailers are light enough for most vehicles and plenty room for two adults.  I noticed an old man giving us an eagle eye from the porch of an old house up the hill.  I waved but got no return signal.  then I heard "clip-clop, clip-clp, clip-clop"  he was hobbling down the driveway fast as he could scoot those boots.  his bright blue eyes all shiny with enthusiasm.

our three kids patiently sat in the car as he told us all about his life.  the beauty of eastern tenessee, his years working for dolly parton, his wife that passed away a few years ago and the fun they had camping in their 30 ft allumalite. 

I hope that if I get to his age, I'm still as enthusiastic about the life I've led.  he didn't know much about these trailers or how much his grandson was asking for them, but he was happy to have guests.  I now know all about eastern tennessee and the blizzard of '93, he'd start over every five minutes or so. 

scotty canned ham

odd river house find:

the property we bought on the blanco river has an old house on it.  it needs to be torn down.  the place was never cleaned out.  it's full of old books, clothes and misc junk (including the two hole bowling ball I tried to use).  I sift through the debris every visit, hoping to find burried treasure. 

walking around the back yard, I spotted this...  a small casket lid.  looks like (hoping) it was never used. 

small coffin lid mystery

the placque says:







January 02, 2012

2012, the year of the squirrel and nabe (nah-bay)

we acquired the necessary munitions for scaring away the evil spirits, also worked for toddlers and dogs.

fireworks stand on bee caves rd

same stand, new year.  I had to make all the selections, the kids were completely uninterested in looking at and picking out fireworks, except #2 son who wanted to hold "bombs" in the car.

UT campus art museum blanton

the weather was to nice too let the kids sit indoors playing video games and watching dr who.  the daughter has a dr who marathon each day.  #1 son made it clear he was disinterested.

blanton museum cafe

lunch at the blanton cafe was pretty cheap with my member's discount.

blanton museum of art

further expression of disinterest from #1 son.

blanton museum of art pennies bones and wafers

"this is where they store all their money!"   the daughter enjoyed the museum, #1 son and I left on bad terms.  lost his gaming privileges that day, he did.


nabemono shabu shabu meat

back in the early 80's, my dad went to japan a few times, as guest of the sony corporation.  one of the things he came home talking about was this "shabu-shabu" dish.  for years, I have imagined this exotic and foreign food.  recently there has been talk of making it ourselves and this seemed like a good opportunity to try something new.  our friends acquired the devices and the food stuffs to make nabemono, or nabe.  shabu shabu is a variety of nabe.

nabemono shabu shabu pot

I set the studio light on a boom over the table.  the table top burner and nabemono/shabu shabu pot in place.

nabe nabemono shabu shabu ingredients

pretty to look at and nibble on, just like the ladies. 

shabu shabu nabe nabemono meal

french 75 rio grand valley ruby red grapefruit 803

then it hit us!  we combined our love of the ruby red grapefruit from the rio grand valley and our love of the french 75 cocktail and it was born!  the french rio grand 803!, grapefuit juice, plymouth gin, a bit of organic agave nectar, shake and pour over ice, top with champagne.  MAN I'M TELLIN YA!  that was GOOD STUFF!

nabe shabu shabu asian fondue

it was fun, not the kind of meal you enjoy in a hurry.  I like it.  sort of like an asian version of fondue.

nabemono chicken balls

using spoons to make chicken balls to cook in the broth.

happy asian girls

happy/pretty girls

fireworks austin 2011/2012

we used fireworks to frighten away the evil spirits.

kids and sparklers new years eve

fun with sparklers and slow shutter times.

sparkler austin

kids with sparklers

and while I had the light out... 

schuster family new years eve 2011/2012

mrs. schuster in her new years eve dress

it may not be the two thousand dollar dress from neiman marcus, but the wife filled out a new dress for new years eve.  and as the hour came closer...  I showed my true self.  a man-squirrel hybrid. 

squirrel dude of new years eve 2011-2012

happy new year from austin modhouse 2011/2012