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April 29, 2013

50th birthday Celebration Eeyore and Blanton

it was a busy week followed by a weekend of 4 birthday parties... 

austin westlake hill country view west lake hills 78746 

Picked #1 son up from a party here in West Lake Hills.  Would I care for a glass of wine?  well, yes, and thank you!  it was good wine too.

the scene above might lead one to believe we were in some rural area, far from city life.  the great thing about West Lake Hills is that the natural setting is only about ten miles from a bustling downtown, the Tx State Captiol and UT campus.  West Lake Hills is a city within a city, we are surrounded by the city of Austin, but still separate.  an island of rural inside an urban area.

eeyore's pen birthday 2013

It was Eeyore's 50th birthday party. 

eeyore's pen 2013 pease park

onion man Eeyore's birthday 2013 austin

I saw this friendly guy passing by with a fistfull of fresh onions, dirt still hanging from the roots.  "NICE ONIONS!"  I yelled (I yell at people often).  he stopped to complain that nobody wanted his onions.  kat was glad to accept some of his harvest.  "thanks onion man!"

big ass turkey leg eeyore's

some rituals must be observed, the giant smoked turkey leg, best wurst, real ale and saint arnold's

Eeyore's costume contest 2013

some of the costumes this year.

donkey-hote eeyore's 2013 party

he was "Donkey Hote" (Don Quixote)

alice in wonderland cheshire cat costume at eeyore's birthday 2013

unicycle football at eeyore's birthday party 2013

unicycle football...

hula hoop at eeyore's party 2013

Hula Hoops...

hulahoop at eeyore's party 2013

we had a bit of a scaled back Eeyore's birthday this year.  we didn't really dress up, we didn't take along any percussion instruments and join a drum circle...  we had another 50th birthday party to attend that same day.

blanton musuem of art UT 50th birthday party

Blanton Musuem of ART turned 50!

reserved for members of blanton museum of art 50th birthday party

membership has its benefits.  the reserved table and complimentary food... all good! 

the membership is worth this one party alone. 

blanton museum of art party

DJ El John Selector was working in the courtyard

brownout austin latin funk blanton museum of art 50th party

Brownout was AWESOME! 

brownout austin band blanton museum party

break dancing at the blanton museum of art austin

they even had some break dancers getting into the music.

dancing at the blanton austin

break dancer blanton museum of art party austin

T-Bird and the Breaks blanton museum of art austin party funky

T Bird and the Breaks were great as well.  I hope we can find a show to take the kids along to see T Bird, we all love their music. 

T Bird and the Breaks austin band Blanton party

lei'd at lucy's retired surfer bar yelp elite austin

and in the middle of this past week, we attended a Yelp Elite party at Lucy's Retired Surfer bar

white guy with a bunch of asian girls at lucy's retired surfer bar austin

exotic rum drinks, beer from Kona Brewing Co (Hawaii), chicken, shrimp and lei'd exotic women.... 

yelp elite socks austin

YELP even gave us some awsome ELITE socks!  I'll admit that Alicia looks better in her socks than I did mine, won't subject you to a pic of me in the socks.

evening at eanes guitar circle art eat play

the school hosted an evening of art, eat and play.  #1 son signed up to play guitar.  he was happy to sing songs (Deep in the Heart of Texas, Yellow Rose of Texas etc).  he performed steadily for the whole 30 minutes. 

micheladas cafe y cantina austin rooftop party

we attended the "grand opening" of a new rooftop deck downtown, Micheladas. 

micheladas austin grand opening rooftop deck

free alcohol brings out all sorts of people.  it was crowded and it only takes a few tobacco smokers to fog up a whole outdoor area.  the table of 4 next to us chain smoked the whole time.

tacos al pastor at micheladas rooftop grand opening austin

the food and drinks were pretty good!  but we'd had enough second hand smoke.  we made a quick exit and decided we'd rather pay to be comfortable.  we left for some Portugese wine and some salad over at Fleming's.

bar food at fleming's austin

Fleming's was pretty good!  they regularly send us $50 gift certificates to come in and try them, I won't discard the next one!  kat enjoyed browsing their wine list-iPad.

blanton museum of art 50th birthday party face tattoo

we also had a neighborhood ice cream social this weekend, and yet another birthday party.  #2 son asked for a face tattoo as we were getting ready to go hang with the neighbors.... sure. 

April 22, 2013

TESLA model S C, the Sport Camper edition

over the past couple weeks, I've noticed more, and more TESLA around Austin (especially westlake).  we had some friends come camping down at our wimberley home.  they packed their giant tent and camping gear into the TESLA and made the trip out of town. 

tesla austin camper edition


Cargo space for camping gear is generous, since there is no engine.  it has two trunks!

tesla in front of shack wimberley texas


it almost dresses up our tear-down of a shack.  what would you bet that this is the first TESLA that has been used as a weekend warrior camping trip vehicle?  if only I could get a TESLA that could pull our airstream....

we stopped at Trattoria Lisina in Driftwood for lunch on the way back to austin.  we found THREE other TESLA in the parking lot, just pure happenstance.  I don't think the other people were returning from camping trips. 

antonelli's cheese shop austin

in preperation for our wimberley weekend cheese happy hour, I drove #1 son to Antonelli's and let him select some cheeses.  the friendly staff was glad to help guide his palate. 

alpine style cheese austin texas

his three cheese selections.

cheese tasting wimberley cabin

we tasted along with raw honeycomb and sopressata.

boys playing in the blanco river near wimberley fischer texas

walked down to look at the blanco river.  the water is still a bit chilly, but the boys just HAD to get in.  they enjoyed hot showers back at the cabin before dinner.


metal mcm outdoor fireplace

cheese loving boy inserts planer directly to mouth

he snuck back in and had all that cheese to himself...  I'm not sure we would approve of licking the cheese planer. 

annuals not eaten by wimberley deer

kat's annuals have survived a week!  the deer did not find them in their well protected location.

kiddie acres eanes field trip

I did chaperone a pre-k field trip to kiddie acres. 

ferris wheel kiddie acres round rock

pony ride kiddie acres 2013

liberty tavern austin hilton hotel bar yelp party

kat and I did enjoy a yelp elite party at the Hilton Hotel, Liberty Tavern.

tito's vodka gift bag yelp elite party

Kat even won a Tito's handmade vodka gift bag! 

video below is the daughter practicing her guitar.  she wasn't prepared for me record her, and then post it on the interweb.  I was trying out a new lens for my camera.  I've learned that I need to turn off the image stabilization (whirring sound in background) next time, or use an off camera microphone. 


April 15, 2013

wimberley sketchup #837

I revisted an old wimberley sketchup model.  I worked in a second floor complete with deck that would face the big valley view.

blanco river rapids wimberley


blanco river rapids wimberley modern texas hill country


I realized that having a small cantilevered second floor deck was a more elegant solution to kat's request for a second floor deck that recieved some direct sunlight. 

wimberley modern hill country home


blanco river rapids  

I went back and applied the same method to the sketchup model I posted last week

lizard, lizard, centipede, scorpion, snake and salty sow

Wimberley:  I found an aligator lizard inside the old house.  I called everybody for a look.  it must've thought we were a threat, it ran straight between my legs and over #2 son's feet.  he freaked out just a bit.  not the daughter, she patiently stalked it until she could coax it into her grip. 

texas alligator lizard wimberley

texas alligator lizzard wimberley

texas skink lizard wimberley

she also managed to catch a skink lizard

caught skink lizard texas

kat found one of those giant orange, yellow and brown centipedes.  that sent her running and screaming.  she also found a scorpion (I killed it), and a snake. 

deer salad

kat bought a bunch of flowers.  she had forgotten that deer LOVE to eat flower salad.  she regrouped and came up with a new plan.  hopefully this setting will protect them. 

salad bar for deer to eat

table wine bucket

I finished my in table wine/beverage bucket.  all sealed and ready for ice and bottles.

blanco river wimberley fischer texas


henri's cheese shop austin

we purchased some cheese from a local (austin) shop.  we were looking for the artisan alpine cheeses we love.  this cheese from GA is supposed to be in the same style....  but it lacked the punch in the face flavor (stink) we've grown to love from Rolf Beeler cheeses.

henri's cheese shop austin

happy hour texas

kat and I enjoyed the last of the Rio Star Ruby Red (texas) grapefruit.  she made the kids some age appropriate beverages with some blueberry syrup and lime. 

cheers wimberley


queggs spicy pickled quail eggs delicious

I don't really like boilled eggs... I don't really like pickled eggs... but I DO love these spicy pickled quail eggs, QUEGGS!  SO GOOD!

happy hour wimberley snack

the daughter made a few of these pretty snack bites from toast, raw honeycomb, cherry tomato and salt. 

roasted mushroom au jus

#1 son contributed some juice from of his beloved fire roasted mushrooms.  she said it was really good.   

beef tenderloin with moody blue cheese and gravy wimberley

we enjoyed beef tenderloin (sous vide prepared and grilled over mequite) with moody blue cheese and mushroom gravy. 

deer barrier wimberley

we lined up the outdoor chairs before we left.  hoping to protect the new plants from the deer. 

salty sow austin restaurant week

kat and I had reservations at the salty sow for restaurant week.  we really liked their craft cocktails and I LOVED the oyster and boudin balls. 

salad swap at salty sow austin

we had an issue with the salad.  kat didn't really care for the big cheese cubes.  we checked the menu and noted the salad was supposed to have Point Reyes Blue Cheese.  I tried a cube it it tasted more like an irish cheddar.  then we noticed the salad was missing the carrot, and the bacon lardons, and the dressing was not as described.  I flagged down our server, she checked with the kitchen and confirmed that we were served "yesterday's salad".  she explained the error like this "it's easy to make that mistake when you have a different salad each day.  but at least this one is good too!".  she somehow glazed over the fact that kat had pushed all the cheese cubes to the side. 

I'm not sure how serving food other than what was ordered became acceptable.  still, we liked salty sow!  I looked forward to going back to enjoy the happy hour.  kat enjoyed the mixed grill, it was a huge plate of meat.  however, about 5 hours later, she was less than impressed (food poisoning).  so sorry salty sow.   

salty sow ARW austin restaurant week 2013

April 07, 2013

she likes a nice deck... and we started the garage band project

earlier this year I posted some sketchup ideas for our place in wimberley.  I shared them with the wife to get some opinions.  she made one request, a second floor deck, that receives some direct sunlight as well as provides shelter.  I gave up on my strict constraint of the original footprint, and i also gave in to a full second floor, and I think the design benefited from the new version.

blanco river rapids wimberley fischer


we now have more of a semi-private entry between two larger volumes.  the white section at the front of the second floor would be transluscent (polygal), but would receive no direct sunlight except for the middle of winter. 

wimberley river rapids


I've not worked on a floorplan, or window placement.  But you CAN see the second floor deck on the sketchup below. 

wimberley modern blanco river rapids


off camera ttl ettl

we have an important event to photograph in a few months.  I've already started to assemble my photo bag and list what equipment to acquire/pack.  I’ve purchased a new off camera ttl (ettl) flash cord.  this allows me to move the flash from directly above the lens.  I held it up and out just a bit.  notice the shaddows move a bit to the side and this allows for a slight shading on the face (nose)

off camera speedlight

close crop

Garage Band:

I think it was last summer, I overheard #1 son playing a new song on piano.  I asked, "is that House of the Rising Sun?".  he confirmed it was , but refused to admit it was the same song as played by The Animals.  I checked with his instructor (Owen Summers) and I was right!  Owen said the lesson version was simplified, but they could learn it as it's done by the Animals. 

Then, I printed out the guitar tabs, and asked his guitar instructor to teach the guitar part...  I had an idea 

I figured he could do a cover of the song, where he played all the instruments. 

garage band project amh

I asked him to lay the guitar track today.  he played ... a few seconds, and said, "I'm done".  I was less than impressed, the actual song is more like 4 minutes.  His reasoning was, "it just repeats, so I'll loop it".  I was still less than impressed.  He counted out how many measues (not sure if that is correct nomenclature) and then he did a few clicks, and it did repeat his guitar part.  I was unsure if I should compliment his use of technology or call him lazy. 

garage band piano part

I realized this was not going to be a one day project and we can always go back and replace individual tracks. so we moved on to piano.  we plugged the electric keyboard directly into the ipad/garage band, he could listen to his previously recorded guitar track on headphones and play along.  it was then that he realized his guitar loop was MUCH faster, he had a hard time playing along with it.  he eventually got it.  but again, he recorded a portion and looped it. 


we moved on to the vocals.  we used my ipad to play the original over heaphones, but I had to use the jamup app to speed the track up to 1.5x original speed (50% faster) to match what he'd made.  then we noticed piano and guitar tracks  lost synchronization pretty early on into the deal.  it's a learning curve. 

April 01, 2013

Easter 2013

easter egg hunt wimberley austin

despite a late night with quality time around the fire...  kat and I managed to get up at 5 AM and hide eggs in the dark.

kimono kat easter

coffee, yes, we need lots of coffee to make this happen. 

easter art session

the younger kids enjoyed some art time while waiting for the daughter to get ready for the egg gathering. 

the egg hunt easter 2013


texas hill country easter egg hunt

wimberley easter egg hunt boy 2013

easter egg money gold dollar coin

the easter bunny was good this year, gold dollar coins in some of those plastic eggs! 

out in the country, there is no net (internet wifi)

the kids have no access to internet at our place in the country.  our place is smaller there.  they end up playing together, like kids did in the olden days.

family monopoly game time

out in the country, families play board games together...

blanco river slime ball fischer texas wimberley

out in the country, boys make slime balls from blanco river muck...

sprint time in texas hill country, wimberley 2013 blanco river

basil under the windmill

out in the country, we plant basil under our windmill.  then make a barbed wire, rock, and wine bottle fence around it (hoping we can make pesto before armadillo get to it).

stump teeter totter

out in the country, kids can enterntain themselves with a stump and a 2x6.  #2 son called it a "weight checker".

wimberley cedar stump teeter totter

happy texas hill country kids

lever jump

shiner bock in the blanco river

out in the country, shiner bock is enjoyed in the blanco river. 

blanco river fun 2013 spring wimberley fischer

polygal outdoor shower door

out in the country, we shower outdoors.  I built a new solid shower door with leftover polygal from construction of AustinModHouse.

low flow dual flush toilet with rain water catchment

out in the country, we flush with rain water.  we finally replaced the old toilet in the A-frame (tear-down) in wimberley.  the OLD toilet was SO inefficient.  it took almost 3 gallons to flush, and wasn't that great with the actual flushing.  we flush using rain water from the roof catchment, all those extra gallons down the hole resulted in a lot of extra work filling jugs. 

the new low-flow dual flush toilet works SO much better and uses a LOT less water.  the light in there is also via solar power (solar charged 12v battery).

dog playing fetch the stick in blanco river wimberley

out in the country, dogs like to play in the river and fetch sticks (not our dogs though, they are busy watching our home in austin)

wimberley sunset on oaks

and when the sun sets out in the country, and that golden light illuminates oak tree trunks... it's awesome.  our home is up on a bluff 50 ft above the blanco, so we get that last bit of golden light before night provides the darkness.

march 2013 texas hill country fireplace midcentury modern

and when the darkness arrives, we enjoy time around the fire when we are out in the country.  HEY!  notice the hole in the table is gone!  I've made a solid walnut piece to fill it, OR....

recessed wine bucket in the table

remove the walnut lid, and we have a recessed ice or wine bucket in the middle of the table. this will get more use now that summer is on the way. 

sunshine on my shoulder paul schuster austin

out in the country, I don't shave but I do have sunshine on my shoulder...

iphone DJ app slussen

out in the country, we DJ... 

a few weeks ago, at the Urban Outfitter's SXSW party, they gave me a gift bag with this slussen iphone device.  it's supposed to split the audio out so you can separate headphone and speaker output.  they also have a free slussen app that brings up two songs on virtual turntables with DJ features to queue, synch and adjust BPM.  you can even scratch using the app.  I was demonstrating my DJ technique when the boys became interested.  #1 son was VERY interested while I was mixing Seven Nation Army (The White Stripes) with Elephant (Tame Impala Todd Rundgren mix). 

hours later, we found #1 son was up WAY past his bed time, had those two songs repeating because "they sound so good on my headphones".  he (we) paid for his lack of sleep the next morning. 

seagate mobile wifi media hard drive 

while the kids may not have internet via wifi out in the country, we do have a mobile wifi media server.  this clever mobile hard drive has its own battery and local wifi.  it has plenty of space for the entire itunes library and movies.  it can serve several devices at the same time.  (purple U device is the iphone DJ slussen thing).



catch and release, a guppy fish story

 some years back, the daughter caught some guppy fish down at garner state park, in the rio frio.  somehow we also had a few come home from school.  we had a small guppy school on our counter, for years.  I figured they don't live long.  over the years, they died off, except this one survivor. 

guppy in home aquarium

at some point, we figured it must be lonely (unless he was finally glad to be rid of those other fish...)  either way, we decided it was time to return it to the wild.  guppy in car about to be released

we often see guppy around the rocks in the blanco river near our wimberley cabin.  a plan was hatched to take him from his aquarium in our austin home, and release him in the river near our wimberley home.  one final car/truck ride to say our goodbyes.

path down the blanco river

a quick walk down the path from our cabin to the river.

guppy in about to be released

we were all back to nature.  kat let the water temper for twenty minutes, did a partial water exchange, and let it go..

catch and release guppy rio frio blanco river

be free little guppy fish in the blanco wimberley

it stayed in the same spot where it was released for quite a while (I used photoshop to darken it in the pic).  then it swam away... 

light saber and light fixtures

light saber darth vader toy

somebody got a light saber for his birthday.

light saber chop toy

and his first watch. 

years ago, when we built the house...  the budget quickly shot way above what we'd all (architect, builder, and ourselves) had agreed on.  the builder was quick to note that he shared no responsibility for the budget (despite going to the bank to sign a contract that had an exact dollar amount) and seemed eager to get rid of our architect.  we scrambled to save $ any way possible.  although I don't think we saved much on these light fixtures, we've been unhappy with them since day one.  we have now replaced them with recessed can lights, as the architect had originally intended.   

led can lights modern

one reason to make the swap now is the availability of LED fixtures at reasonable costs.  these fixtures cost over $100 a few years ago, now cost $30.  they have a life span of 25 years and use almost no electricity.  but, we now have some dim spots on the counter in the kitchen...  I'll sort that out. 

led bullet lights outdoors

we also replaced the pendant lights in the screen room.  the recent wind storm had ripped one right out and we had broken glass everywhere.  the new bullet lights also have LED bulbs.