Wednesday, May 23, 2018

BIRTHDAY WEEK ADVENTURES

Did Little Goob Man's birthday celebration end with the early family party at his house? Of course not. It went on all week long! Next up was his first adventure at a splash park.

What IS this place?
So that's how you do it.


Best of all, though? Getting to go to The Austin Zoo -- a non-profit rescue zoo on the edge of Dripping Springs -- with both sets of grandparents. The animals are pretty cool...




but this is what he really came for.

Nate's Parents, Frank and Holly

Not only did we get to see more animals along the way, but there were also gnomes and dinosaurs and aliens and pirates!


Not quite up to Disney standards perhaps, but enough to make one two year old mighty happy.



Tuesday, May 22, 2018

TINY DINNER CLUB GOES CUBAN

I may have mentioned before that the more fun I am having, the less photos I take? Well, that holds doubly true when the event is at my own house. Which is why I have so little to show for the latest meet-up of our Tiny Dinner Club. Since I chose a restaurant on my last turn, it was my time to cook, so I chose to do a Kinda Cuban But Not Really dinner.


If only I hadn't been so busy cooking, I might have remembered to snap a photo of Hubby's little Cuban cigar/rum station he had set up, complete with the cedar strips they taught us to use for the proper lighting of a cigar. Or I might have remembered to snap one of his mojito prep area, or of us all enjoying them out on the balcony with my brother and sister-in-law's Cuban dip, while listening to Alexa's Cuban Jazz lineup.


The main course consisted of Cuban Rice, which has a couple of cloves of smashed garlic added to the cooking water; Cuban Sleeping Beans, which are black beans with lots of veggies and spices that must be cooked the day before and allowed to sleep in the fridge overnight in order for the flavors to meld, then finished off with a dash of vinegar and a bit of sugar; and my not so Cuban but oh-so-good-at-Thanksgiving Spicy Pork Tenderloins With Orange-Cranberry Sauce. For dessert I pulled out an old recipe for Hubby's favorite birthday cake -- a French Vanilla Cake with sort of a Praline Frosting, which I didn't think to photograph until it was half gone!


My favorite part of the whole dinner? Hubby's spec-TAC-ular mojitos. How spectacular were they? Well, as most of you know, I'm not really a drinker -- especially anything with hard liquor in it -- and I finished off one whole mojito. He had never made them before so he started googling for recipes, and we were lucky enough to find one for the Hotel Nacional Mojito -- the one our tour guide claimed to be the best mojito in all the world. I think he just might be right about that! Here is the recipe -- you can thank me later.



Wednesday, May 16, 2018

GUESS WHO'S TWO?

Calvin Helps Decorate
Or will be, in just a few days. Remember that decadent dulce de leche/Mexican chocolate/sugar skull cookie creation I told you about a while back, made by Lex's friend at Cake Monster?  Well, we all were jonesin' for another of Stephanie's amazing cakes, but she has a wedding to bake for next weekend. So, of course, we did the only logical thing. We moved Calvin's birthday up a week!

Stars and Moons, Two of His Favorite Things
Uncle Nootie
Where are the prezzies?
A Swimming Pool!
And A Water Table!
Not being familiar with either of those things, he calls them both "bathtubs".

Time To Cut That Cake!
It's On Fire!
Me Help...Eat All Those Cookies.
Nom, Nom, Nom...
And then, he's right back outside -- his favorite place to be -- wondering why no one has his other bathtub set up yet?


 Happy Happy Birthday Little Man! You're the best present your parents ever got!

Monday, May 14, 2018

KNOCK THREE TIMES

A few weeks ago my daughter sent me a text with a list of four different kinds of art, and told me to choose one. Without even thinking, I shot back "Wood block carving!" She then came back with "Great! You and I are now signed up to take a class together May 11th. Consider it an early Mother's Day gift to us both." Why did I choose that one without even thinking? Well, it seems synchronicity has been knocking on my door yet again!


You see, two and a half years ago I took a screen printing class at Lucky Star art camp, and had a blast! So when, shortly after I got home from there, family started pestering me to update my Amazon wish list, I added anything I could find to do with printing. That's how I ended up getting this awesome block printing set and book from my son and daughter-in-love. Unfortunately, it's been sitting untouched all this time, since, right after that, I got swept up in weddings, new grandbaby, travel and travel journals, etc. , etc., etc.

Welcome to Craft Austin!
A Chocolate-Making Class That Shared Their Bounty With Us
Then, a couple of weeks ago, the newest Maisie Dobbs mystery was released, and I was reminded how much I love the style of art that is on each book in that series. It's the same style that you see in the intro to the PBS series, Durrells in Corfu, and I just adore it! I decided to do a little digging and discovered that both Andrew Davidson and Alex Maclean use wood cuts and engravings in their art!

Our Instructor
Lex Decides On A Pattern And Begins To Carve
Classmates
Then I started reading a great new book last week called The Garden of Evening Mists.  Not only does it take place in Malaysia -- a place we visited often when living on Sumatra -- and involve gardening, a former obsession of mine, but there is also a story line revolving around Ukiyo-e, 18th century Japanese woodblock prints!

Inking Our Blocks
Lex Opts For Delicate And Refined
I Go With Rough And Messy


So, of course I had to choose the wood block carving class. 'Cause, if there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that when Synchronicity keeps aknockin' on your door, you really oughta answer!


Friday, May 11, 2018

COUNTRY MEETS CITY


Dripping Springs is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. I've never understood how it could have so many residents, but offer so few amenities. It's always been more of a bedroom community for Austin commuters than a real town, being just far enough away to offer more affordable housing, but close enough that everyone could drive into the city for all their shopping, dining and entertainment. That is beginning to change, however, due to the string of massive master-planned communities popping up all along the Hwy. 290 corridor, from west of Dripping Springs right on to Austin -- a veritable sea of houses! One of the most immense developments is a 1600 acre community called Belterra, at 290 and Nutty Brown Rd. Though I hope never  to live in one of these developments again, there is one thing I am pretty excited about -- the 93 acre mixed-use development that came as a result of it, and is being developed by the same group that worked on The Domain in north Austin. The anchor is Sky Cinemas, a sister to the art house theater in downtown Austin called Violet Crown. This new one, however, has fourteen screens and will show both popular releases and limited release films, which is how we got to see the movie Tully last week without having to drive all the way to downtown Austin. Woohoo! The shopping center is in it's early stages yet, but there was at least one shop worth checking out -- Breed & Co. -- which is definitely not your typical hardware store!



Another thing we are excited about? Some of the restaurants that are in the works!


Pieous -- a pizza joint more famous for its pastrami -- is our favorite place to eat in Dripping, but from the day it opened it was too small, which made it very hard to get a table.  Hopefully, this newer, larger location will take care of that problem. But probably not, as it will be a good bit closer, and therefore more tempting, to Austin folks.


On my personal burger scale, those at Hat Creek Burgers sit closer to Whataburger than to Hays City, but I do love their outdoor dining pavilion and their playground.




Also in the works, but not yet open, are Torchy's Tacos, The League, Bistro 54, Spec's Wine, Spirits and Finer Foods, and I believe a big HEB as well.

Looks like Hubby's and My "Friday Movie Dates" just got a whole lot more options!