« December 2016 | Main | February 2017 »

January 30, 2017

Red Envelope Season, Year of the Cock

year of the cock

Chinese New Year Eve, we went to Chinatown.  

red envelopes at chinatown westlake 

I came prepared with plenty of red envelopes for family and staff.  

gung hay fat choy chinatown westlake  

chinatown westlake austin  

mapo tofu westlake chinatown austin 

We enjoyed Chinese food, and some sushi (thanks Jorge and Gregg). 

sushi at chinatown austin westlake 78746  


Chinese New Year's Day was a big dinner at home. We had the same friends that came for regular New Years (12/30/2016-1/1/207).  

chinese new year west lake hills 78746 year of the cock 

We enjoyed chicken leg confit and quiche in honor of the Rooster and a chicken/egg theme.  

gung hay fat choy 



January 23, 2017

Slated for improvement.

slate tile wall

I've finished the black slate tile and grout up the wall behind the downstairs bathroom sink. It finished out nicely. The Hans Grohe wall mount fixture is plumbed and spewing water as it should.  

austin cotillion 2017

Cotillion 2017 has begun. #2 son got a brand new suit. He enjoys dressing up for the event, he even requested a spritz of cologne.  

austin cotillion 2017 

"May I have this dance?" 

over the top mushroom quiche 

Winter is a time for mastering kitchen methods, recipes, and baking. We are getting so close to the perfect quiche.  

mushroom custard quiche 

#1 son didn't like it.

I've been sick for most of 2017. Some days are OK, and some are difficult to get out of bed. After two full days in bed, I couldn't take it any more. I felt like I HAD to force myself to be productive. I probably shouldn't have tried to work so quickly, using power tools (router). I promptly disregarded all reasonable safety precautions. I ended up in the emergency room. The back of my hand got ripped open. I've blurred the gross parts of the image. I'm all better now.

blurred bloody hand 14 stitches 

The Dr sewed me back up (14 stitches). I'll have some nice scars to remind me "clamp the material down and keep both hands on the router".

January 16, 2017

A quick trip up the mountain

We've had a grudge against American Airlines since the time they refused to let us board our plane to Hawaii, and gave our seats away in front of us. Yes, we were running late, we later realized they'd changed the flight time on us. We'd bought the tickets months in advance. Still, we arrived at the gate while passengers were still boarding, held back, THEN they called names of people to take our seats... Fast Forward to Fall 2016, American Airlines has taken away all our frequent flyer miles for non-activity. I'd been banking miles on AA for 25 years... They gave us a "challenge". Take any round trip flight within six months, and we'll return your frequent flyer miles.

So we went to Colorado. A whirlwind trip to Breckenridge, where we snowmobiled up to the Continental Divide/Georgia Pass.

denver mile high marker colorado capitol  

Denver is "ONE MILE ABOVE SEA LEVEL". My body was OK with that. This marker is at the Colorado Capitol building.

From Denver, we continued up to Breckenridge.  

snowy roads in breckenridge colorado jan 2017 

We were thankful the rental car guy upsold us an AWD vehicle.  There was so much snow and ice in Breckenridge.



breckenridge snow mobile tour 

We loaded on to snowmobile and went up, and up, and up some more... 

breckenridge snowmobile tour 

breckenridge snow mobile trip continental divide 

We reached the Continental Divide at the Georgia Pass (elevation 11,598). 

More than two miles above sea level, I had the head ache and racing heart of elevation sickness.  

breckenridge colorado 2017 

Kat and I spent the evening strolling Breckenridge. We met up with an old school friend of hers. 


irish coffee breckenridge colorado 

Irish coffee by the fire.  

silver plume colorado jan 2017 


American Airlines, please return our frequent flyer miles. We have completed your challenge! 

January 09, 2017

New fixture in progress...

We are in the middle of a mild bathroom renovation downstairs. OK, mostly it's a fixture swap. The old fixture was mounted ON the wall, but not a true wall mount faucet. It was an odd device that I'd found on Ebay.

cast concrete sink with wall mounte fixture 

The old fixture is seen above, back in 2007. It had quit working well this past year. We purchased a new Hans Grohe fixture, ripped the wall apart and had a plumber do the rough-in. I'm going to tile up the wall before we can mount the new faucet.


my project for this week, tile.  

We also replaced the odd red Danish Contemporary sofa and chair upstairs. Ten years with children had caused some serious wear.

red danish modern sofa and chair  

We happened upon a furniture sale at Macy's. The price was too good to walk away from.

jonathan louis sofa from Macy's 

When in doubt, gray always works.  

20 year old natuzzi sofa 

We had a second freezing weather event this winter. That's two more than we had last winter. We enjoyed a lot of quality time near the fireplace. That Natuzzi leather sofa has been with me for more than twenty years. I special ordered it, from Italy. It cost a lot, to me at the time. But it's one of those examples of buying quality can pay off in the long term.  I've stripped and re-dyed the leather three times in that time.


I took a portrait of a very special beer, Spon from Jester King. I thought the flowers were even more interesting in their end of life state.

jester king spon methode gueuze 2016 


for the photo geeks, the BTS is below. 

behind the scene portrait jester king spon 1 portrait bts 

Our X5 35D has spent a week at the dealer. I'm having them check an electrical issue related to our messy return trip from Dallas. The dealer here is one of the top rated in the US. They have 225 new model loaner cars. I get a loaner even if I'm taking it in for oil service so I don't have to wait. This has been my car for the last week:

bmw of austin 428i 2016 loaner 

One of my favorite cars I ever owned was a Porsche 944. That car was so easy and fun to drive. I loved road trips in the 944. This 428i is probably the closest driving experience I've had since. The way it takes the corners with its 50/50 weight distribution, I like it.  

bmw of austin loaner  

This car has been SO much fun to drive. I much prefer the sports car style seating over the upright position of the X5. But the family is less impressed. The rear seat accommodations are notably less than what they are used to. That said, I think we're all ready to get our old car back soon.

For fun, I figured I'd see what a similarly equipped 428i would cost. I had a good laugh when I quickly found the exact car I'm driving listed on their site:


52k... I think I'll buy some new windows for the house in VT before I get another sports car. I've appreciated it this past week all the same.


January 03, 2017

The Universe displays artistry to spearhead 2017

Winter in Texas is nice. We have short bursts of chilly/cold weather that typically last less than a week. Then we're back into short sleeves and sunshine. The sunsets are nice too.  

The view from our balcony January 2nd 2017: 

january sunset from west lake hills texas austin tx 78746 


The Moon made a special early evening appearance.  

winter moon westlake 78746 austin tx 


New Year's eve 2016/17

It was not easy staying up this year. I came back with a slight cold and the Cedar pollen was at record level highs here in Austin. But I made it.

takoyaki ball making kat 

Kat has really perfected her Takoyaki ball making device. We no longer put the Tako (octopus) in the balls.

takoyaki ball device austin texas 

The New Years Eve balls included a Crispy Bacon and Cheddar Ball, along with a Lap Cheong and Scallion Ball. Mmmmmm. good balls.

The Baby New Year of 2017 arrived and we all went home/to bed.

walter the baby new year 2017 

(not our puppy) 

The Dallas Christmas after party.

The final component to our annual Christmas in Dallas is the getting together with friends. It was good to see the people.

last supper at Meddlesome Moth 



We started at the Meddlesome Moth and finished at Stirr in Deep Ellum.  

dallas skyline view from Stirr deep ellum 


club clearview deep ellum time travel 2016 

another attempt at time travel, Club Clearview... 

Medieval Christmas Time

We usually enjoy a few days in Dallas after Christmas. The kids have been to the Perot, the Aquarium, the DMA so many times, we were struggling to find something to interest them. We got Medieval, VIP style.

Medieval Royal VIP 

I'll be honest, I had low expectations.  

medieval tims dallas  

yellow knight medieval times dallas dec 2016 

That's our knight, the Yellow dude. He did pretty good. I appreciated the opportunity to yell encouraging words to our guy, and insults to the enemy knights. The daughter wasn't so sure. I was caught up on the medieval spirit, "YOU SUCK GREEN KNIGHT!".


The food was not nearly as bad as I had expected. Kat and I had planned to go to dinner afterwards, but that half chicken didn't escape the plate.  

medieval times dallas 

It's another one to check off the list. I think we've done Dallas.  

Stack of Hoodies Christmas in Dallas and the fried bird.

christmas morning light saber battle

Christmas morning, Santa had dropped a bunch of Light Sabers. 

funyun for christmas 

#2 son was very specific with his Christmas wish list. He was happy that he DID get his Funyuns.  

hoodie for christmas 

#1 son had no wish list. He did need a new hoodie. He wears his hoodie every day, regardless of weather. His old one had a few wear holes at the elbows. He was happy to receive a replacement.  

and another, and another, and anothe hoodie 

As he worked through his tack of presents, hoodie, after hoodie, after hoodie...  

man with multiple hoodies for christmas 

"I guess I should've made a wish list", he now has a hoodie for every school day (M, T, W, Th, F) 

laptop with terraria for christmas 

#2 son, with his very specific list was over the moon with each unboxing. His big haul was the "laptop with Terraria".  

schuster christmas turkey fry 

Possibly our last turkey fry together. Changes are in the works for the future Christmas.  

fried christmas turkey 

happy kat 

Kat LOVES that fried turkey.  

fried christmas turkey