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October 29, 2012

fall in central texas, it's a great time to visit, and they did (are)

lucha libre boy westlake

his sister was playing violin with the school orchestra, he wanted to dress for the occasion.

rachel horvitz hcms orchestra

Rachel Horvitz and the HCMS sinphonia!

accordian player at blue dahlia westlake

kat's parents are here to enjoy the wonderful fall weather we have in central texas.  they recently went to Paris, so we took them to happy hour at Blue Dahlia french bistro....  almost the same. 

french food at blue dahlia westlake

Gung-Gung (chinese for grandfather) came back from europe with a love of baguette and was pleased to find them at Blue Dahlia.  He delighted in the various preserves and nutella to spread over the baguette. 

family heirloom chinese dress

every visit with Po-Po (chinese for grandmother) involves a lot of gift giving.  they devoted more than half their luggage space to gifts!  gifts have ranged from antique family heriloom hand embroidered dresses (seen above) to military surplus inflatable life rafts and tubs of colorful dried fruit for making fuit cakes (approaching expiration date). 

this wave of gifts included many relics from the 80's, like 32oz Mario Bros mugs and Kat's old 80's era jacket (below).

80's era jacket

check out those shoulder pads!

uncle david's reversible vest "very good one, be careful!"

#1 son LOVES the gift portion of each visit.  shown here with a new (to him) V-neck sweater and a 80's era reversible vest that once belonged to his uncle David.  he was instructed to be very gentle with the vest "it's a very good one!"  he was happy and now has a vest for varying occasions (brown or blue)

vitamin D texas fall weather

Gung-Gung soaking up the sun for a vitamin D boost.  meanwhile back in DC area, hurricane Sandy is plotting a course up the coast. 

we all went for a walk on the trail that runs behind my mom's house, lost creek austin greenbelt.

fall colors lost creek greenbelt austin texas 2012


lost creek austin greenbelt fall 2012


fall weather, lost creek greenbelt austin 2012


lost creek panoramic


boys throwing rocks lost creek austin fall 2012

boys throw rocks in the water, because that is what they do... 

land and sea (surf and turf) salmon and pork tenderloin

had some friends over for dinner while the in-laws were here.  I do all my prep in the morning.  then I stand around and snack on cheeses and sip on wines with guests.  then, it's time to make it all happen.  I ducked into the kitchen and fired up all 5 burners and both ovens and in 15 minutes  plated meals for nine adults and five kids.  another land/sea combo, this one with pork loin (apple cider sauce not shown)

made a trip down to wimberley to show them the blanco river.

skull hoodie


halloween vampire bottle opener

one of the things I love about halloween, all the seasonal stuff that you can only find once a year.  we use it year round.  I LOVE this vampire teeth bottle opener I found at west elm for $7!

wangs of the porch

enjoying the front porch of the barn cabin. 

blanco river wimberley fall 2012


the tall chuck taylors


wangs of the river (blanco)

clear cool water of the blanco river wimberley

the water is crystal clear. 

then we stopped in driftwood on the way back to austin, trattoria lisina

trattoria lisina storefront driftwood tx

kat had recently discovered (GOOD) italian food, and figured her parents had not had much real italian food either. 

antipasto trattoria lisina austin driftwood italian restaurant

they seemed hesitant to dig into the delicious antipasto.  but once they saw us enjoying it, they quickly jumped in. 


"CHEERS", kat ordered them a nice glass of Moscato in honor of Uncle David. 

grilled swordfish with citrus sauce

grilled swordfish with citrus sauce and fennel. 

trattoria lisina driftwood austin texas italian food

#2 son knows that he can get gelato IF he eats a good meal. 

gelato bribery trattoria lisina

and he ate like a champ. 

gelato trattoria lisina

wangs in driftwood texas trattoria lisina

Gung-Gung's favorite part of the italian feast?  the focaccia of course!  that man loves a good piece bread and I'll have to agree the focaccia at trattoria lisina is pretty good!

enjoying the beautiful warm sunny fall day, while their flights home were being cancelled due to hurricane Sandy.  it's good to be stranded in austin texas during the fall. 


October 23, 2012

Patty around town, the school carnival and a HUNTED house of torment

Our good friend Patty came in for the weekend.  we took her to a few places around austin.

carillon austin tx  ut campus restaurant

chef Josh Watkins at Carillon makes edible art. 

beef tartare chef josh watkins carillon austin UT

tastes as good as it looks.

white tuna salad with soba miso and mirin candied shitake carillon austin tx chef josh watkins

easy tiger austin beer garden and bakery

quick stop at easy tiger for a beer and a pretzel.  kat appreciated the size of it.

easy tiger austin fresh made pretzel

midnight cowboy oriental models craft cocktail mixologist 6th street austin harry craddick

midnight cowboy, I took my own oriental models to enjoy the cocktails. 

vertical tasting of miner wines oracle 2004 2005 2006

some friends came over with a vertical tasting of Miner Wines Oracle 2004, 2005 and 2006.

surf and turf or land and sea with asiago chive biscuits

I made a land/sea sort of surf and turf with seared salmon and braised lamb shanks. 

patty and kat

the two girls had a quiet moment to catch up.  they go back 20 years or so. 

blanton museum of art soundspace 80 trombones

soundspace at the blanton museum of art.  80 trombone, a keyboard and one soprano. 

piece for 80 trombone eighty

blanton museum of art UT soundspace 80 trombone

gerbil ball at the eanes elementary carnival fiesta 2012

Eanes Elementary fall carinival.

gerbil ball at eanes elementary carnival fiesta 2012

games of skill at the eanes elementary carnival westlake austin

good shot by #1 son (close-up below)

bullseye!  eanes elementary carnival fiesta 2012

botticelli's austin beer garden happy hour PEI mussels $5

over to the SOCO area to catch junior brown and a pre-show snack at botticelli's.  the PEI mussels and shrimp and polenta are just $5 for happy hour (all day on sunday).  they were both done perfectly. 

we enjoyed the beer garden out back at botticelli's.  will definitely be back as everything we had was enjoyed. 

house of torment austin 2012

I took the boys to a haunted house earlier in the week.  #2 son didn't want to get any closer but he talked about it for days later.  "some day I will make small hunted house, with flying pigs, and flying cows that say MOOOO (in a monster sort of cow voice) and ZOMBIES, and my blue hair chicken that is a tree at the bottom"

house of torment austin 2012

the house of torment was MUCH spookier this year.  the effects were better and many more spooks and ghouls that jumped out and scared me.  #1 son was unflappable, he just said "HI monster" and waved.

Junior Brown! sunday nights at the Continental club

junior brown #1 house rocker continental club sunday night


Austin has many great local musicians that it's easy to catch some of their regular shows in an intimate setting.  if you haven't seen Junior Brown, go see him sunday nights at the continental club 7:30 pm.  the man is a true master of his craft.  fingers going at lightning speed and never missing a note. 

junior brown guitar continental club austin texas


junior brown country surf guitar


he plays a custom made half electric guitar and half full sized 8 string lap-steel guitar. 

junior brown guitar continental club

junior brown surf guitar


Junior Brown was voted the #1 House Rocker by Guitar player magazine.  often described as a cross between Jimi Hendrix and Ernest Tubb. 

junior brown country guitar austin continental club

the experience reminded me of my first concert ever, Van Halen 1980.  I was amazed at Edie Van Halen with his extended guitar solo.  my friends and I were all outfitted with free VH swag, Edie's wife (Valerie Bertenelli) went to the same High school as us, one friend had some personal connection.  if you managed to miss out on early VH or Jimi Hendrix, DON'T miss your chance to see Junior Brown. 

junior brown custom made guitar continental club austin

junior brown guitar pedal

junior brown band continental club austin

junior brown lap-steel slide guitar

junior brown hat

junior brown smiles at the continental club austin tx sunday nights @7:30

pretty girls at the continental club austin tx

and the evening was enhanced by my pretty dates. 


October 15, 2012

cedar tree turned into columns for the arbor

helper son #2 wimberley

we went down to wimberley saturday.  kat got caught up on sleep, the older two kids laid around but #2 son asked if he could help me.  really, he did!  and I appreciated his effort.  he poured the water for some concrete I was mixing.  making footers.

young W hotel designer

then he showed me his design for a hotel, "the restaurant can go here and the rooms can be in the tall part". 

blanco river rapids park access stairs

the boys and I walked down to the blanco river.  it was hot and muggy out, I needed to cool off.

river rapids blanco community park

then we went to the leaning pear for dinner.  one of our favorite restaurants in central texas. 

leaning pear wimberley

he looks so innocent...

leaning pear wimberley crimini mushroom soup of the day

the soups are always perfect.  the crimini soup was no exception.  really, really good. 

leaning pear wimberley weekend special oven roasted Rockfish with Scallion Risotto Cakes

Rockfish with Scallion Risotto Cakes (weekend special)

wind chime boy leaning pear wimberley

not so innocent now...  he decided we needed to hear the "wind-chim"

river rapids tear down

(BIG and UGLY)

I'd planned to start dropping the old run down house this october.  but it doesn't seem to be happening just yet. 

it rained overnight and into the morning.  but, the sun came out and I was glad to get on with my project. 

wimberley arbor sketchup 3d model

the sketchup I'd shared with kat, she approved.  she suggested a few changes, like using the cedar trees I'd recently cut down for columns.  I was thinking steel but I'm flexible. 


so we squared and trimmed the ends of a few straight cedar sections that were just laying around. 

cedar column wimberley

cedar column wimberley wax trax shirt blublocker

it was hot and humid again. 

wimberley chainsaw artist

when I was done with the chainsaw, kat played around with it for a while.  after a dozen precision cuts, she successfully made one of the stumps flat...

cedar columns arbor wimberley fischer tx

it was a successful day.  worked hard, we did. 

cedar arbor wimberley texas

wimberley glass tile

I also finished grouting the glass and stone tile counter in the screen room. 

we raced back to austin, cleaned our dirty selves and went to imperia for dinner. 

imperia austin two for one sushi rolls happy hour all day sunday

#1 son recently told me imperia was his #1 restaurant.  he loves their spicy tuna roll. 

imperia austin ultra lounge sofa area family games

this is how we do imperia with kids.  we go on sunday night, usually not many people there.  we do not sit at a table, we sit in the lounge area.  we get two big comfy sofas with a large coffee table between.  we pretend we are at home in our own living room.  we even took a board game with us. 

imperia austin buddha bar lounge

kat gets very involved in games of strategy.  #1 son (her opponent) is not always the best at remembering/following the rules, a necessary component to mastermind

games of strategy austin imperia sushi lounge

but they made up and everybody was happy again.

austin downtown sushi imperia lounge

he doesn't want any more hair cuts, "I want to let it get longer, so I can put it in a rubber band".

austin best edamame imperia house

the house edamame at imperia are the best I've ever had.  they put chillies and vinegar in there!

shrimp and lobster pad thai $24-95 imperia austin

#1 got his favorite, the pad thai with shrimp and lobster.  not cheap at nearly $25 but the shrimp were big and fresh as was the lobster. 

eating white rice like a dog at imperia austin

#2 son said "I remember this restaurant, I ate like a dog last time I was here".  and so he did again. 

amh austin modhouse spooky door

came home to enjoy the freshly applied spookiness to our front door.

October 09, 2012

garner state park, shine on you crazy airstream

1964 airstream polish

I put in some airstream shine and polish hours.  it's about 75% polished.  we took it out  for some fall weather camping, garner state park.

uvalde county texas road

it's a beautiful drive (just over 3 hours) down to uvalde county texas. 

spaten german beer as airstream level

tradition dictates we use a beer to check trailer level.  gotta do what we gotta do. 

sunset as seen from garner state park uvalde utopia tx

we had a beautiful view from our very large camp site.

flamingos at garner state park site #430

glow sticks at dusk garner state park  tx

kids had fun with glow sticks

airstream and teardrop at garner state park

we enjoyed a nice camp fire, no burn ban this year!

and a beautiful sunrise for breakfast.... it doesn't get any better than this!

sunrise on old baldy garner state park tx

old baldy (left) catching the sunrise. 

young boy hikes up to crystal cave garner state park

and this was the year, #2 son climbed up the mountain on his own.  it took extra time, but we did not carry him this year. 

hike to crystal cave garner state park tx

crystal cave garner state park

he did NOT want to go in that cave. 

inside crystal cave garner state park tx

from painted rock to old baldy garner state park paul schuster

my mom walked him back down, we took off over the top of the mountain. 

view from painted rock to old baldy garner state park texas

that is a decent elevation gain.  we started down by the river. 

on painted rock garner state park texas

makes me nervous... back away from the edge please.

then we went down to the river.

rio frio garner state park texas

there had been some grumbling and I heard a few people claim they had no intentions of getting into the river this year. 

rock toss rio frio garner state park tx

but attitudes soon changed when we saw the river is back this year.  plenty of crystal clear water. 

rio frio water kick garner state park

rio frio garner state park crystal clear texas river


clear river water of the rio frio garner state park texas

happy rock at garner state park

board games at the samp site garner state park 1964 airstream overlander awning zip-dee

board games for the camp site. 

guitar practice at garner state park

sunset at garner state park site #430

happy hour! 

bike-a-cycle at garner state park

nasa space suit at garner state park

we wore our jump suits, went to the saturday evening dance at the pavillion.

saturday night dance garner state park

garner state park dance pavillion 1941

campfire at garner state park tx

then we had a roaring camp fire as the temps dropped quickly.  we woke up to find winter had arrived in texas (46 degrees)

winter weather at garner state park tx

roasting burning marshmallows in the fire

we found burning marshmallows in the fire was more fun that roasting them. 

chili con carne over the fire at garner state park texas

chili con carne cooked over a real fire. 

root beer boy

he loves that root beer. 

der lindenbaum fredericksburg german food texas

we stopped for german food in fredericksburg on the way home.  it's october so... we did enjoy a spaten oktoberfest at der lindenbaum.

german food fredericksburg tx der lindenbaum

bratwurst, schnitzel and goulash were all really good.  I wish they had spaetzle or dumplings with the goulash.  we really enjoyed the warmed red cabbage kraut.   


swift's attic and the yelp elite party at abel's


we closed austin restaurant week with a meal at swift's attic.  the table we were most looking forward to was swift's attic.  we made the extra effort to go, went on a tuesday. 


swift's attic austin

my side of the table was dark.  real dark.  the menu is in this cute (small) font that I could not read without using my iphone as flashlight.  I was ok with that, but the salad...  I shouldn't have to hold my iphone to my salad to eat it.  (pic above is taken at ISO 6400).  kat had better lighting on her side of the table, from the skylight behind her. 

neighboring tables were so close, we had a difficult time speaking over their conversations.  this proximity was achieved by using tiny tables that complicated the "small plates" format of swift's attic. 

swift's attic duck wings austin

most of the food was good.  but the location of our table detracted from the enjoyment of the evening.  (duck wings above are illuminated via iphone). 

fried oysters at swift's attic austin 

my favorite plate was the fried oysters (seen above using iphone flashlight as light source), those were something special.  ARW has restaruants make a prix fixe, it usually takes the stress of how much a meal will cost and usually (as most often a bundled package does) some price advantage.  our meal at botticelli's would have cost us $47 if each item was purchased individually, but was $37 prix-fixe for ARW.  there was no effort put into the ARW menu at swift's.  they simply allowed you to pick three items and when added up, the menu prices came in at around $37.  if you didn't do the math, you could end up paying MORE by ordering from the ARW menu than the regular menu, for the exact same thing. 

I came home and posted a review of my experience on yelp.  somebody didn't like my opinion, started to send me argumentative notes via yelp.  I was told I had "no business complaining" and that if I didn't like crowds I should not visit popular restaurants or dine during ARW, and I should only eat out monday- wednesday.  this argument did not sway my opinion, it only cemented the fact that I won't return to swift's attic.  in the end, I'd given swift's a 4 star review and a 2 star (three star average).  you can go if you like, order the oysters and you will be rewarded.  but avoid sitting along that back wall unless you bring a flashlight and don't mind missing out on dinner conversation. 


yelp elite party abel's austin

we live just up the road from Abel's on the lake, but this was our first visit.  they have a great view of lake austin and perfect location to take in the setting sun.

lake austin deck abel's yelp elite party

sunset view of hula hut lake austin from abel's

abel's on lake austin oysters yelp elite party

and the oyster buffet was greatly appreciated. 

oysters with horseradish on lake austin abel's yelp elite party

kat loaded her oyster up with horseradish and loved it!  and her yelp swag sunglasses were also appreciated. 

adelbert's brewery austin naked nun belgian wit beer yelp elite party

the adelbert's brewery naked nun mixes well with..... uh, us!

paul schuster austin texas

adelbert's brewery naked nun belgian wheat beer austin

I like how the girl behind me (right side) is curling her lip in disgust or shock.... I often inspire both. 

we were promised some sort of "show" on the lake, and we got one!

water rocket man on lake austin yelp elite party

dude riding a water powered rocket device... available for rental if you want to try it yourself.

October 01, 2012

wine'd-ing down the weekend

kat and I woke up bright and early saturday morning, we dug holes, filled the holes with plants, weeded etc.  finished just before another big rain storm moved into the area.  that was Ok with us, we had indoor plans. 

pretty girls at eleven plates and wine davenport village westlake austin

a fine dining restaurants near us was having their one year anniversary party.  entry included food and sixteen wines for sampling.  we all sipped, savored and selected our favorite wines and turned in a score card.  the top rated wines will be added to their wine list.

wine tasting at eleven plates westlake austin

eleven plates and wine westlake austin

I've recently heard a few negative things about the offerings and service over at eleven plates and wine, but everything was perfect for our experience. 

wine sampling westlake austin eleven 11 plates and wine davenport village

fried shisito peppers eleven plates and wine austin 11 westlake

the fried shisito peppers were especially good and appreciated. 

food at eleven plates and wine westlake austin

scrutinizing the wine at eleven plates and wine westlake austin

close evaluation and comparisons yielded two clear favorites, one from calathus and scout's honor from saddleback cellars. 

eleven plates and wine tasting party score vote austin westlake

then kat had the urge to make pasta and harvest her empty heart (water spinach)

home made semolina pasta dough

I think she has the upper hand on this pasta process!

pasta making machine

#2 son lended a hand as well and cranked it up a notch. 

empty heart water spinach harvest

WOW!  the cool temps and regular rain prompted her empty-heart (water spinach) to grow like crazy!  she was so happy as she harvested and carefully tripple rinsed it all.  a weeks worth of home grown garden fresh greens.  I stir fried a batch with lap xuong and garlic. 

pasta eating boy #1

those kids love the noodles.  I made a sauce from slow roasted tomato, garlic, onion and capers.

pasta eating boy #2

and sunday I resumed lumberjacking at wimberley, with #1 son as my helper. 

cedar choppers wimberley fischer texas

I'd asked kat which cedar trees she wanted removed, and which ones can stay.  the verdict, "I want them ALL CUT DOWN".  no pardons or second chance.  it was a solid death sentence.  I have most of the big ones near the cabin down.  my chain saw is a couple years old and I may upgrade before I finish the cedar execution/slaughter.  the oak trees are enjoying the justice system process and are happy that they will no longer be threatened and abused by the cedar trees.

school function at austin pizza westlake eanes

then it was a race back to austin to get cleaned up for school functions.  kat took #2 son to a birthday party while the daughter and I took #1 son to a class function at the local pizza joint.  they had at least 8 bottles of wine open for sharing, so I sampled a few. 

being antisocial behind blublockers

the daughter and I spent half the time at a distance, being anti social.  several of the parents watched us with a curious eye.  one kid commented on my manner of dress, said I looked like I was going to eat mexican food.  then a few friendly faces showed up and we clustered around the... samples. 

then it was off to botticelli's!  austin restaurant week is nearly done and we were really glad to get this one in. 

botticelli's south congress austin soco

$15 corkage and I took one of kat's favorites.  old vine zin from lodi, she likes fruit forward wines and this one went well with the food. 

roasted beet and goat cheese napoleon salad

roasted beet and goat cheese napolon salad.  pretty and delicios. 

seared duck breast with duck confit ravioli

seared duck breast with duck confit ravioli and a fig sauce.  we also had lamb chops with a molasses glaze.  our fruit bomb wine went well with these offerings. 


a sausage man, and a watermelon man walk into a biergarten...

sausage man: 

we enjoyed a mid week diversion and checked out a hot new eatery for austin restaurant week, banger's

 banger's austin sausage house made biergarten

banger's specializes in house made sausages.  all the ones we tried were really, really good.

banger's austin sausage and beer 104 taps

and they have 104 beer taps (one hundred four!)

banger's austin beer garden biergarten rainey street

a huge outdoor beer garden (biergarten).  but the weather was so nice, the outdoor tables were full at 6.45 on a wednesday.  we sat inside.

p-nut and soo-tall enjoying beer at banger's austin

two beers tested and approved of, 102 to go.

banger's asutin beer and sausage hall

the biggest problem of sitting inside was the noise.  it got really really loud in there. 

banger's house made vegetarian sausage austin

the daughter tried one of the vegetarian sausages.  the smoked mushroom and asparagus sausage was great!

fried chicken sausage banger's

my fried chicken sausage with green horseradish sauce was good and very different.  the greens and biscuit that came with it were also good.

beer flight banger's austin

our austin restaurant week package came with a flight of beer that was specific to each sausage ordered.  FUN!  the only negative was the server.  he screwed up more than once.  at first, I excused his errors with the loud room, maybe he just couldn't hear us.  then it became clear he was just forgetting things.  I'd love to go back, but I'd like to sit outside where there is less noise. 

watermelon man:

eanes elementary moment of silence piano herbie hancock watermelon man

#1 son played piano for his school during the friday morning assembly.  he had selected a song by herbie hancock, watermelon man.

eanes elementary friday assembly

#2 son was happy to be able to attend the assembly and sit next to his talented big brother.