When I was a teacher and got summers off, my favorite part about it was that I would get to lay out by a pool and read lots of books. Then read more books. Then read a couple more. I love to read, but I get really involved in the story, so it's hard for me to read when I have other (work) stuff going on. I tend to stay up until 4 in the morning to finish the book because I just HAVE to know what's going to happen. As a result, I don't read lots during the week because I neglect the rest of my responsibilities. I'm trying to get better at just reading a chapter or two at a time, but I'm not quite there yet.

So before vacation, I was really excited at the fact that I would be spending hours at a time on an airplane, and then hours at a time at the pool. I have a library card, but I like to sit in the pool sometimes when I read, so my pages get all messed up and I didn't want to ruin a library book. So I went book shopping before we left. I was just at Walmart, so there weren't a ton of titles to choose from, but I got some goodies.

First, I went with one from an author that is always a trusty standby:
I've loved Mary Higgins Clark since I was in high school, and figured that if none of the others were good, at least I would have a back-up. I haven't started this one yet.

Next, I went with another author I know and love:
The first Jodi Picoult book I read was "Nineteen Minutes." It was when I was teaching and it was about school shootings. It was so good. So sad, but very interesting, because she tells her stories from all the viewpoint of several characters. "Perfect Match" was good. She always makes you think from a perspective you might not have thought about otherwise.

I'm now reading one from an author that is new to me:

I'm only about 4 chapters in, but it is pretty good. Kind of depressing, but it has definitely peaked my interest.

The last book I bought is one I'm excited about. It FORCES me to just read one chapter a day - but for 40 days! I haven't seen the movie "Fireproof" yet, but I've heard it is really good. I guess the book is based off of it or something? Not sure, but basically, they give you 40 ways to be a better person to your partner, then you kind of journal in it and write your reflections. I'm not exactly sure how it works yet, but I look forward to trying it!

Oh, I also got a new cookbook, so if you need any low-cal recipes, let me know.


gratuitous vacation post

The Magical White Guy and I had a fabulous vacation. I don't have time to make scrapbooks right now, so this blog post is serving that role, therefore, it is very long. Consider yourself warned.

We randomly decided on Scottsdale, AZ and I'm so glad we did! It may sound strange that we picked a place that is hotter than Austin, but it isn't like the heat was a shock to us. Neither of us had ever been there and the pools looked nice. So, we packed up, headed out,
And arrived to this:
(Pictures never really do justice to vacation, do they?)
Day 1:
The first evening, we hung around the resort, walked around,
and found the delicious cucumber/jalepeno infused tequila margarita. YUM. (also pictured is a $7 miller lite.)

Day 2:
Rental cars are about $100/day in Scottsdale. Unless you are budget conscious and keep looking until you find one for $36/day. Even if it means you have to walk 4.5 miles to go get it. When it is 100+ degrees outside. (That, my friends, is what a magical white guy does.) The rental car was the car pictured in the previous post that we lovingly referred to as the "gold nugget." That thing gets over 32 miles a gallon!
Anyway, Tuesday morning consisted of Larry going to get the car and me going to the gym. Once we had the car, we went to Safeway to buy food and beer for the room since our tab for dinner and 2 drinks a piece the previous night was about $100. We rode white-trash style the rest of the week and brought our own beer everywhere. Once the errands were finished, we decided to spend the afternoon at the pool. Larry spent time under the misters:
Watching sports in the Grotto Bar:
And setting up some nice Alley-Oop shots for some young fellas we met.
I laid out and read, snuck into the cabanas,
and took more pictures of the view.
That evening, we went and ate at AZ88, which is a very trendy place that was bearable since it had good food and good drinks. (I had a Rose Martini- another good choice.) The place was decorated with a wrecked taxi hanging from the ceiling and names and ID numbers of taxi cab drivers on the wall:
And the patio was done in all white. It was so pretty.
Another trip to the lobby bar for a cucumber/jalenpeno margarita, and then we called it a day. We had to wake up early for our day trip to Sedona.

Day 3:
Sedona is about 2 hours from Scottsdale, but it is a beautiful drive. We had reserved spots on the "pink jeep" tour, which is a 4x4 jeep ride that takes you up/down into the mountains. Kind of expensive, but totally worth it. And lest you think we were getting too fancy and big for our britches, here is a picture of the PB&J sandwich that I had before the tour and the roast beef sandwich Larry ate;

I *could* post about 50 pictures of the scenery in Sedona, but I'll just leave it with these:
The above photo is taken at "Chicken point, which was given that name when the jeep tour used to go down a really dangerous area - they would try to see if the driver or the passengers would chicken out first. They had to stop that part of the tour when their insurance company found out.

Our jeep driver, Paul, knew all the best places to take pictures. He even posed us for a few.
The last leg of the tour is something called "Death Road" or something like that. They take you down it at about a 90 degree angle.
I thought I would be scared to death but it was actually really fun. When we got back to the hotel, there were cop cars outside, a lady handcuffed and crying, and a man bleeding profusely. The housekeeping staff was in their hazmat gear cleaning up blood.
Larry thought he saw a drop of blood and made me take a picture. I was too scared to take anymore because there were cops and EMTs everywhere. (We found out the next day that they had a crack pipe or something like that exploded and they cut themselves with the glass. Nice.)

I tried a new drink at the lobby bar this night - a Strawberry Basil margarita. I lovingly refer to it as "that drink that looked like vomit and tasted like I was drinking a pizza." I don't recommend. Tip for the bartender: maybe you could muddle the basil instead of putting it into a blender.
That night, a man got up onto the stage and started playing the piano. His name was Bill. Turns out, he ws in a Journey cover band back in the day and was very entertaining. Larry requested the "Peanuts" theme song - which Bill played, as Larry danced along. None of the pictures turned out and the video is too big, but trust me - it was hilarious.

Day 4 started with a meal at the Breakfast Club:
If you're ever in the area, you need to try it. Then we walked around Fashion Square mall and both found our mecca:
Larry at E-Trade and Me at Sprinkles.
We also went to Trader Joe's so that I could find some dark chocolate covered Joe-Joes. I did. Along with many other delicious items.

Oh! I forgot to mention that we had to take the rental car back, so we rode the bus back to the hotel! The number 72. We spent more time at the pool, met our Scottsdale hook-up Alison for some pizza and went on the gondola ride:
We met our new piano man friend Bill for a drink in the lobby bar and he took one last photo of us before volunteering to drive us to the airport the next day. Thanks Bill!
It was so restful, so fun, so hard to leave...


the gold nugget

You know what is fun?

When your rental car is a gold Ford Focus with California plates and you get to pretend you are a gangster from LA all week.


*I'm not really sorry

I'm apologizing* in advance for these facts:

I like that Miley Cyrus song "The Climb."

Most of the bottles of wine in my wine fridge cost around $10.

I don't have cable and really only miss the Food Network.

I have a thing about eating leftovers - I eat them. I don't like anything to go to waste.

I like to wear twin sets and don't want to wear a clunky necklace with them.

I didn't enjoy "The Shack" at all. Couldn't even finish it, and I'm a person that will read the back of a cereal box.

I will post lots of pictures of my vacation in as soon as I'm able, whether you want to see them or not.


deep in the heart of texas

I've lived in Austin since January 2001. When I was a young lass, I took full advantage of the 6th street scene. But that was about it. I didn't really experience all of the other things that make Austin a neat place. I've been trying to remedy this for quite some time, but actually started making it happen this summer.

The Magical White Guy ("MWG") knew that I wanted to do more "Austin-y" things, so he got me this calendar for Christmas:

Since I'm what some people might call "directionally challenged," he also gave me a GPS unit. I call her Greta and she speaks with an Australian accent:

To start with, "MWG" and I started to eat at more local places on the east side. We went to Cisco's after church one day.

I had a biscuit and honey. Mmmmm. Later in the summer, I got to visit Barton Springs pool:
and Deep Eddy pool for the first time. (photo by Steve Hopson)

Earlier this week, "MWG" was in the mood for fajitas, so I googled "best fajitas austin." The restaurant "Polvo's" kept showing up, so we decided to visit it after church on Sunday.
Let me tell you - the Cerveza Fajitas are unbelieveably good. I hear the margaritas are pretty good too.... we'll be back to try those. After Polvo's, "MWG" took me over to Sandy's to get a frozen custard:
It was good, but $1.65 for an ice cream cone? Eh.

I got to experience one more "Austin-y" thing last night... a live taping of the Austin City Limits tv show. My good friend "Country" was given tickets by a former co-worker to the taping of the Dave Mathews Band show. I loved DMB in college, but haven't really listened to much of their new stuff. I forgot how talented they are. Seriously, it was amazing. Here we are outside of the building:
That is the one and only picture I got, because they were tackling people inside if they saw you pull a camera or phone out. The lady working the elevator also told us to be very careful washing our hands if we went to use the restroom, because if we lost our hand stamp, we would NOT be let back in.
Apparently there were quite a few drag rats trying to sneak in. I really do have a new respect for the DMB, as I could not believe how talented all the musicians were. Plus, he looks way better than he has in years. He has lost the gut, lost the pudgy red face, and doesn't sweat near as much. (Although he is a STRANGE, STRANGE cookie.)

Let's see, what else? I finally got tickets for ACL fest this fall. And my last goal for this summer is to finally see the bats fly off the bridge.

If there is anything else I need to be sure and put on my list, let me know...


Alternate realities

I was at a Texas university in the 90's, so YES - I loved me some Robert Earl Keen. Many memories were made with his music in the background - usually involving a jukebox and late nights closing the bar . I've always loved the song "I'm Coming Home," mostly because of this one line:

"Ain't nothin' better than your own backyard."

Because, really. IS there anything better than your own backyard? I love sitting outside, visiting, watching football on the deck, having a glass of wine. There is something so magical and relaxing about just being out there. Not to mention, I think it is one of the most beautiful yards in existance. I don't feel like digging through pictures, but here I am getting some kindling woods for the chiminea:
Isn't it pretty? Larry does such an amazing job at keeping it looking good. (The sprinkler system helps too.)

Growing up, my Dad used to get lots of phone calls. So many, that he made up an alternate universe. Yes, seriously. His alternate universe happened to be located in our backyard, and he named it "Loyalty, Texas." That way, when someone called and he was outside, we weren't lying if we told the caller, "He isn't here right now." Because he wasn't - he was in Loyalty. (He has a very scientific description involving quantum physics and alternative realities, etc.) Loyalty has had several locations since it's creation, but it still remains. It now has a "shack," which provides cover for those cold West Texas nights. A night in the Loyalty shack typically consists of BBQ, beer, guitars, singing, and lots of conversation that may result in differing opinions. Here is the only picture I could find:
(Big bro, Bubba, Eddie Beethoven, Patmom, Mrs. Beethoven and TheDon)

Since then, many of my dad's friends have been granted alternate realities in their backyards. I know that there is a Guppy, an Esperanza, a Harmony and one in Louisville, KY. Larry and I have been trying to figure out what OUR alternate reality is going to be named.

Well, whether we realized it or not, it got named.

This is Sarahenity and her good friend Danny:
Danny came to celebrate with Sarahenity when she got her Master's degree. Larry and I hosted her party in our backyard. At one point during the party, Danny had his patio chair in the middle of the lawn, just gazing out at the trees, golf course, etc. A deer walked by or something, and Danny said, "This place is like the Hamptons." Well, we all gave him lots of grief, because, well, it isn't really anything like the Hamptons, but it was still funny. So ever since then, we've just referred to the backyard as the Hamptons.

Danny came into town this weekend and we had he and his hosts over. Larry decided we would serve "Hamptontinis:"
Ever since then, we've been playing around with the name for the backyard. I kind of just like "The Hamptons, " or "Southampton," while Larry suggested "Hampton del Sur." Regardless, Danny should be proud. I mean, how many people have a part in naming an alternate universe?