I had to duck into the local craft/art supply store, #2 son wanted to go in with me. I was getting some news print folders so the kids could practice their Mandarin.
As soon as we entered, #2 son said, "remember, last time we were here, you said we could get a bird house?". I had said we could get a bird feeder "maybe some other time". the news print folios were 2 for 1, and I DID have a 50% off coupon in my pocket.... he selected a space ship themed bird house ($5 after coupon).
we got home and I asked him to paint it, "no, I want YOU to paint it". he went on to explain "I want the whole part of it to look like SKY!". so I painted it blue. "NOW, you need to paint clouds on it!". so I painted clouds. "OK, GOOD! but you need to paint a hummingbird, on the front!". I painted a bird... I found some orange paint for the thruster on the bottom, that was my own idea.
the young designer was pleased that I was able to realize his concept. at least i didn't waste an art degree on it.
Kat travels for work a few times each year. She returned home and dropped this one, "I think we all need new luggage. The new luggage has FOUR wheels, ours only has TWO". That, is how it started.
We each selected colors, except for me. I had to ask the daughter's permission if I could use the same color as hers as the luggage only came in four colors (there are five of us). I applied reflective stripes to mine so that they were not identical. THEN, #2 son wanted stripes on his, and then I had to stripe Kat's luggage. #1 son applied a sticker to his...
Then I suggested that we each have a set of clothes that match our luggage, to wear on travel days. Portraits seemed like a logical next step. Maybe, this has all gone too far.
Pe'che' has been hot on the austin craft cocktail scene for a while. we finally got a chance to try their Sunday Happy Hour (all day on sunday, open at 5 PM).
Cocktails are hand mixed and shaken using house made ingredients; bitters, grenadine, ginger beer, etc.
select cocktails are $5 each and a few menu items are half price for HH, it's a really good deal. the fried oysters ($6 HH price) and roasted beet salad ($4.5 for HH) were both delicious.
kat really enjoyed the octopus and shishito peppers.
#2 son made it clear, he did NOT want to go to the snake farm (as seen on Dirty Jobs). I took him anyhow. he was relieved. he thought a snake farm would be like a cattle farm, with the snakes in outdoor pens with "wood tops".
#1 son bought a bag of feed for the petting area. soon as he walked in, a big goat grabbed onto one side of his bag. He knew enough to not jerk back, but then another goat grabbed the other side of the bag and pulled. the entire contents spilled out on the ground. damn goats. we had to laugh as he was left holding the bag.
for somebody that did NOT want to go to the Snake Farm, he sure did enjoy it. notice that he has switched shirts from earlier.
what was once only on the east side, can now be found in west campus, on the drag.
East Side King is a side project by Paul Qui that started as a food trailer, on the east side. Paul is now a famous celebrity chef; executive chef at Uchiko, Top Chef season 9 winner, James Beard award for best chef.... and we now have an ESK that is convenient to us west side people in a real brick and mortar location, inside a bar.
Hole in the Wall is a bar with great draft beer selection and live music, and now they have ESK and foosball too.
the boys got some quarters to dump into the foosball machine while we waited for our food.
#2 son learned to watch out for those rods that don't have handles, they might jump out and poke you in the chest.
food was really good!
the daughter set us up with cheese A through E, a true blind tasting.
last time we did this contest, challerhocker was the winner. we have been unable to purchase that cheese here in austin. that sort of added to its legendary status for #1 son, always wanting more challerhocker and unable to attain it. we did find scharfe maxx locally, at spec's. but then spec's ran dry.
I'd read about scharfe maxx 365; scharfe maxx with a higher moisture content and aged for a full year (regular SM is aged 6 months). I'd been unable to find any. last week I bought the very last wedge at Scardello's (Dallas). I didn't even taste the Scharfe Maxx 365 at the store. my first sample was done blind, along with these other apline cheeses.
we let the kids taste first, and it was like a feeding frenzy. elbows were flying and hunks of cheese were vanishing.... I had to run them off so we could get back to serious tasting, note making and finally, a vote. we did not share opinions while we tasted. comments like "OH, I really like this one" or "I think this one is now my favorite", were discouraged.
votes were tallied and there was a clear winner!
#1 Scharfe Maxx 365
#2 Scharfe Maxx (regular)
#3 L'Etivaz (this cheese has a very distinct bluberry bouquet)
#5 Nidelchas (by unanimous decision, this cheese came in last on every score card)
the low score by nidechlas prompted much discussion. it was as if the tasters felt sorry for the cheese and needed to qualify their low ranking with comments like "it's a great cheese on its own", or "if it were being judged against another set of cheeses, it might be my favorite"
We were fortunate enough to receive an invitation to the grand opening party for Searsucker.
this is the third Searsucker location by "celebrity chef Brian Malarkey".
besides the craft cocktails and small bites passed via tray, they had an open bar with wine, and two buffet tables for cheese and charcuterie.
kat is enjoying a Honey Badger cocktail
the event had everything we could have hoped for. the service was friendly and efficient, the drinks were hand mixed and flowed like a river of magic juice off that bar counter. the food was all delicious and came out of the kitchen fast enough that we didn't have to compete with other guests.
my favorite food item was the CARB FREE CRAB CAKE, with Tabasco Caviar
the Peter Rabbit was our favorite. It's made with Pimm's #1.
if one was good, two should be better.
I normally skip the sweets, but I do have a weak spot for chocolate and pretty girls. they were good, as should be expected. everything was perfect.
We really enjoyed Searsucker and hope they do well in Austin.
the kids and I can do a 9 hour drive without much hassle. then, we look forward to our break in Dallas. kat drives up from austin for the reunion. we stayed at aloft, by W hotels. the kids LOVED it.
it has that modern W hotel style, but the beds are not as comfy and there is no restaurant.
we enjoyed dinner at NOVA, a gastropub in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas. the kids found some balloons that were left by a 40th (over the hill) party.
food was good, craft cocktails were hit and miss. fried smoked buffalo mozzarella caprese above, ham and local peach pizza below.
I used to live in this building on the south end of downtown. sort of an industrial artists loft. the upstairs was a flop house frequented by hobos and alcoholics, skid row type of place. I forgot to lock my front door once, a drunk hobo walked right in and stood in my living room. I started yelling for him to get out, he just stood there, dazed and confused. I started to push him back as I yelled "OUT! OUT" his heels caught the door sill and he fell backards onto the sidewalk, he still had that confused look on his face as he lay there on his back.
I recall another fine evening when my GF decided my midcentury modern dining set should be put out (for good reason, I'm sure). a local hobo quickly claimed one end while I grabbed onto the other. we tugged and i did more yelling and he pulled a knife out and some of my friends came out and the hobo ran off. I took my table (and myself) away from dallas and the newland hotel. I was bohemian back then. I have kids now and don't have to try so hard to keep life interesting. now I fight with the kids over the laundry and I admit I have an unfair advantage, with all the experience I have from hobo-wino conflicts at the Newland Hotel.
we paid our respects to the ancestral burial grounds while in nebraska.
#1 son picked out an area as his final resting spot and did a song and dance.
"it's not depressing, because I'm, gonna die with a smile on my face". watch out ancestors! there's an entertainer in the mix!
conversation I overheard while at the family cemetery:
#1 son: were any of our ancestors involved in the civil war?
my mom: none of us had arrived here at that time.
#1 son: what about the first or second world war?
my mom: I guess you could say they were involved in the second world war.
#1 son: in what way?
my mom: they were in the concentration camps
we spent our final Nebraska day at the farm of my aunt and uncle. they were celebrating their 40th anniversary.
I even drank a Busch Lite. I had to explain that Austin is not near Moore OK and we did not suffer any tornado damage. I also came to realize that the term "stay home dad" is something foreign up that way. it inspired the notion that I home schooled. our whole family life and configuration seemed to be confusing for the nebraska relatives.
#1 son is into dinosaurs. we returned to the Morril Hall to see the bones. He was in a sour mood last year, this was his second chance to get something from Morrill Hall.
Archie is the largest mounted mammoth in America. He was excavated from Lincoln county Nebraska.
he got some hands on experience.
I even packed his favorite dinosaur shirt for the trip, the stegosaurus.
BIG allosaurus bone.
HENRY DOORLY ZOO in Omaha
the Zoo in Omaha is often noted as one the largest and best in the world. I hadn't been since I was a child myself. We all enjoyed it.
many of the animals roam free among the large exhibits. many bats can be found just hanging around.
no trip would be complete without a stop at the state capitol building.
we stopped at my Dad's house on the way up to Nebraska.
we gave my dad a rhubarb recipe book last year. he tried out some of the recipes. the strawberry rhubarb pie with almond paste topping was delicious. best pie I ever ate!
he grilled these jalapeno peppers that were stuffed with cheese and bacon. I ate five.
the daughter received her papers from middle school. next stop, Westlake.
she was overwhelmed with emotion (sarcasm). I drove her to school the very last time, asked her if she was sad. she thought a minute, looked back at me and said "not really". she is not prone to emotional outbursts. but, I understand she does write some powerful poetry.... according to her AP teacher and classmates.
we have an end of school party each year. we included a sack race this year. had kids ranging from 5-13 years of age participating.
there was an awards ceremony for the winners from the sack race.
First, second and third each received a viking hat.
we had prizes for everybody.
neon hats, arrow through the head and "80's style sunglasses". (I remember the 80's... partly, but I'm pretty sure we did not have these louvered glasses.... but the kids liked them)
and we had the usual group effort on singstar (karaoke). this group loves Eye of the Tiger by Survivor.
we got up the next morning and kicked off our summer with a trip to schlitterbahn