Monday, April 28, 2014

Update

Well, pretty quick update this time.  Both the week and the weekend really flew by!

Last Tuesday we went to see Phantogram at Stubb's.  The tickets were a birthday present to me from Amy.  We originally had tickets to see The National, but  those tickets went away because of a long, complicated situation involving a cancelled credit card.  We ended up getting tickets to see Phantogram at Stubb's instead, and it ended up being a really fun show.  It feels very much like Phantogram is a band on the rise right now.  I saw them just a few years ago playing on a tiny wooden stage behind Homeslice pizza during SXSW with only Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel performing to a handful of fans in a parking lot.  Now they're playing to a capacity crowd at Stubb's on a Tuesday night with touring musicians backing them and a really cool light show.  Se really good concert.  I've been going to ACL Fest every year and witnessing the rise of electronic music.  There's a lot of it out there right now, but Carter still writes uniquely infectious grooves, and Barthel's voice oscillates between pleading, powerful, and ethereal in a way that sets the band apart.  Thanks for the concert, Amy!

Thursday night Amy hosted her book club over at our house.  They had dinner and discussed some sort of strange, gothic novel.  It seems like she had fun.

Friday we took it easy.  We relaxed and watched TV and played with the dog.  It was nice.
Saturday we went over to have dinner and play games at Adam and Katie's house.  We had a really good time.  We played a game called Puerto Rico, which was fun.  Adam and Katie made a delicious dinner that included prosciutto appetizers, lasagna, and lava cake for dessert.  Amy made a salad with homemade garlic dressing, and I brought beer.  We had a really nice night hanging out with them.
Sunday Amy got up and went to church to participate in a sort of question and answer session about environmental issues (which took place after the service).  I went for a bike ride, stopping by Ryan's house to chat with him for a few minutes.  Sunday evening I had band practice while Amy went to the gym.  After band and gym, we went out and met up with our friend Heidi for dinner at Clay Pit.  It was good to see her!  She was in town from Lubbock for a librarian conference, so it was really nice to have some Indian food and catch up.

And that was it.  Hope everyone had a nice weekend!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Weekend

Well, our Easter weekend was pretty good.  Friday night we went out and had dinner at Elizabeth Street, a Vietnamese restaurant on South 1st Street.  The food was good, and we had the chance to sit outside at a nice place on a very pleasant spring evening.
On Saturday we ran errands and took care of some chores.  Saturday night Mono Ensemble played at a party in North Austin.  The party was a benefit for a friend of ours (Heather) whose dog needs surgery.  Hope she raised some money!
On Sunday we went to church at Central.  Afterwards we went over to my parents' house for a nice Easter brunch/dinner.  We had a nice time.  There was ham and turkey and lots of other food.  Amy made some sort of minty orzo salad along with a key lime pie and banana pudding.  Attendees included Susan, Ciara, Uncle Donald, Ryan, Jamie, Matt, Nicole, Juan, Alex, Monica, Judy, Don, Sarah, Mom, Dad, Ben, Cindy, Amy, and myself. It was an unusually large Easter gathering, but it seemed like everyone had a good time!
So that was the Easter weekend.
Hope everyone had a nice one.


Mom and Amy get dessert ready while everyone else goofs off



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Miami Trip

Well, Amy and I went to Miami Beach, Florida, for an overdue honeymoon trip last week.  We left Thursday and got back on Monday.  We stayed at a sort of resort style hotel called The Palms.  It was on the ocean, just north of South Beach.  It was a really nice hotel-  a beautiful place by the ocean with a cool building and lush, tropical grounds.  It was very relaxing.  We spent a lot of time just lounging at the beach and near the pool.

The Palms Hotel at sunset

beaches make Amy happy

looking toward South Beach

the view from our room

breakfast at the hotel

apparently the best time for kite surfing is
later afternoon
 
the lobby at The Palms

evening on Miami Beach

a good porch sit at The Palms
 
















We ate at Essensia, which was a sort of farm-to-market restaurant in our hotel, and at Restaurant Michael Schwartz in the Raleigh Hotel.  Essensia was pretty good, but I think we were both much more impressed with Restaurant Michael Schwartz.  The food was better, the waitstaff more enthusiastic, and the setting was casual, intimate, and classy (although Essensia has a really cool colonial Caribbean motif going).

Dinner at Essensia
Restaurant Michael Schwartz
My wife!




We also stumbled upon a Peruvian restaurant called Chalan on the Beach while wandering around Miami Beach our first night.  It had sort of a bustling, cozy, fun neighborhood feel, and the food was pretty good.  I really enjoyed it.
On our last day we drove over into Miami proper (I realized during this trip that Miami and Miami Beach are practically two different cities) and had a late lunch/early dinner at a Cuban restaurant called Versailles.  It was really good.  We had a fun experience trying it out.


in this picture I have just eaten some really good
Cuban food
Our trip was relaxing and fun.  We had some good beach time, we ate some good food, and we got a chance to unwind and enjoy each other's company.  I had a great time

Love you, Amy!!

Monday, April 07, 2014

Update

Hello!  The weekend was pretty good, albeit overcast and a bit rainy at times.  Friday night we got home and exercised and went out for a nice dinner at Thai Passion.  Amy and I both like their food.  We had a nice time.
On Saturday we drove out to The Domain to meet my folks and do a little shopping.  We used a gift certificate that we had gotten as a wedding present (thanks, Magsigs!) to get some serving dishes, and then we walked around a bit and had lunch.  Then I bought a hat.


(this will make a great "Have you seen these men?" pic
after Dad and I have to go on the lam)

The Domain (a big ol' mixed use, residential outdoor shopping mall in North Austin) is interesting.  Part of me found it soothing and fun and relaxing- exactly the way it was designed to be.  Sculptures, landscaping, outdoor fireplaces, and energetic, nonthreatening music piped in through unobtrusive speaker systems along the walkways.  Another part of my brain was sort of wary of the fact that an entire small village had been artificially constructed with pretty much the sole purpose of making a person want to buy things.  Shopping malls are nothing new, I know, but something about the whole experience still seemed a little off.  Maybe it's the fact that with condos and apartments located in the Domain, the designers are trying to pretend that this is something other than a big ol' monument to commercialism.  I know I'm probably over analyzing things, but there's just something discomforting about the notion that people are being squeezed into the shopping experience instead of  stores springing up in an area in order to meet the actual needs of residents.  In The Domain, the residents seem to be present in order to accommodate the needs of the retail environment (i.e., presenting the impression to shoppers that they're buying in a small community instead of in a more traditional shopping mall).  I didn't see a lot of post offices, grocery stores, and pharmacies.  Instead I saw high end art galleries, expensive clothing, and gadget shops.  Most of the stores in the Domain must not actually fit the day to day needs of the people living close by.  So maybe I'm more comfortable when things work the other way around.  The Domain holds itself out to be some sort of pre-planned retail/residential utopia, but it's surrounded by parking lots and concrete, with large paved areas creating separation between The Domain itself and the surrounding neighborhoods.  I didn't see a lot of sports fields for kids to play on, and the parking lots and narrow streets between the shops didn't leave much room to ride a bike.
Anyway, our shopping trip was good!  I had a really fun time hanging out with my parents and Amy. It was fun to window shop and watch people at The Domain.  The place just feels a little like a retail amusement park- which is fine!  But it seems like The Domain takes itself a lot more seriously than that.

Saturday afternoon I went for a nice bike ride in the cool, cloudy weather while Amy worked out.  Saturday night we watched Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles.  Because my wife is cool.
Sunday we went to Juan in a Million for breakfast.  It had been a long time.  Still good.
We went grocery shopping and did some chores.  It rained a lot on Sunday.  Well, we didn't get a ton of water, but it rained lightly for much of the day.  Late in the afternoon I went to band practice over at Reed's place.  We had a good Mono rehearsal. 
Sunday night Amy made a good dish with mushrooms, pasta, and wine sauce.  It was tasty.

It was a nice weekend.  Kinda quiet, but nice.

Hope everyone is doing okay!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Update

Well, things have been a little busy.
On Friday we just sort of laid low.  We got some exrecise and took Cassidy for a walk, which resulted in us hanging out with Mandy for a bit in her yard for a bit (so nice to have some neighbors who are also friends). 
Last weekend was nice.  On Saturday we got up and went grocery shopping.  We had a carpenter come and look at our house.  He's reshaping the roof in order to accomodate an oak tree which has slowly, over time, grown into the side of our house and started to lean on it.  He came out on Tuesday and "boxed out" a small section of our roof so we could keep the tree without having it slowly push apart our house.  Looks like did a really good job (thanks to Mom and Dad for being there for the roof repairs!).  Saturday afternoon I went downtown for a bike ride.  I rode from my house to work, going across the bridge on the new bike lanes on South 1st Street.  It worked pretty well (just a little over half an hour).  The ultimate plan, when we get showers in our office building during our current remodel, is to start commuting to work by bike several times a week.  I kinda painted myself into a corner on this by drumming up a petition in my office to get the showers and then sending it to the county commissioners.  Now I feel like I sorta have to lead the charge with the bike communting or I'm gonna look like a jackass.  Gonna miss that air conditioning.
(Pye Jar Party!  That's us in the back corner)
The weather was beautiful over the weekend.  So nice!  Saturday evening we went to a party that one of my coworkers was throwing called The Pye Jar Party.  My friend from work, Laura, is thinking about starting a business where she will sell liquors, mostly vodka and bourbon, that have been infused with various ingredients (like vanilla, fruit, herbs, coffee, etc.).  The Pye Jar Party was sort of a tasting event to explore some ideas associated with this proposed business.  The party, hosted at another coworker's house out in Westlake, was fun.  Nice weather, nice folks, nice view over the hills, and tasty drinks.  Now to see see how the business goes.
(somebody taking somebody for a walk in the park)
On Sunday we went and had breakfast tacos.  Then we took Cassidy over to Garrison park for a walk.  We wandered around and sat on a bench for a while and did some reading.  I've been going through The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs.  It was fun to sit in one of our local parks and read Jacobs' thoughts on how city parks should be designed and used.  Afterward we ran some errands, and I went for another bike ride.  In the evening Reed came over and we worked on some songs for our two man (so far) side project, Wastewood.  Amy made a tasty asian noodle dish with a sort of peanut sauce. 
Very nice weekend.  Amy and I are both much happier people when the sun is shining.