Friday, February 13, 2015


When daughter Lex told me that the 1st Annual Texas Tea Festival was to take place at the historic Saengerrunde Hall in central Austin, I had no idea where or what that was.  Turns out it's connected to the old Scholz Beer Garden. Now that is a place I'm familiar with -- as is pretty much anyone who graduated from UT.

What I didn't know was that, back in the late 1800s, a German singing society was established here in Austin, called Saengerrunde, and one of their favorite places to hang out was Scholz -- a beer garden/restaurant/dance hall/bowling alley owned by a St. Louis brewery. At some point they started leasing the property from the brewery, and then eventually purchased the entire place! Under the stewardship of today's Austin Saengerrunde, these facilities continue to encourage members and guests to enjoy German heritage. Kinda cool, don't ya think?

So, back to the Tea Festival. Hubby and I couldn't make it this year, as we had other plans, but these guys went in our place -- with instructions to take lots of pictures and give me a full accounting!

Here is a brief glimpse of all they saw and did...

and this is what Lexi had to say about it...

"So the whole thing was in an old men's lodge right next to shultz beer garten. While waiting in line there was a tea bus having a tea party sampling a whole bunch of teas bought directly from the farmers.  I tried a cup of Indonesain tea and it was great. Nate tried one made mostly from the stems of the tea plant, which tasted really green and interesting.

Inside, once you check in, you are given a cup, and they had a whole bunch of vendors (including Ruckus Tea House from downtown) all brewing up sample cups for you to try, and selling yummy stuff. Nate had a Macha Tea Cupcake.  There were lots of Chinese teas, Turkish tea, and the classics like Earl Gray.

There were also talks going on, which were super crowded. We got to watch a tea ceremony where they put a lump of rock sugar in the bottom of your cup, then pour strong black tea over the top, then add a tiny bit of heavy cream. But you don't stir. As you drink it the cream on top represents clouds, the middle tea is earth, and I think the sugar at the bottom is water.

One lady was giving out tea eggs, which are hard boiled eggs cooked in Oolong tea, which gives them a very strong smoky flavor and marbles the egg inside the shell. Very cool looking, but very strange tasting."

Can't believe she got Nate to try this, as he never eats eggs of any kind!
Well, guess I'd better put this on my "must do" list for next year, huh? Not only do I love me some tea and some singing, I'm even a little bit German!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


I think I've mentioned before that one of my very favorite things to do in any country is to go have tea and experience the local rites that go along with that. I had only heard about Sudan's special way of brewing coffee however, and feared there would be no tea to be had. I was wrong. Just try googling "tea ladies of Khartoum", and you'll see just how mistaken I was!

I first read about the Sita Shays, or Tea Ladies, in this blog post about the night life in Khartoum. I also found several interesting videos about them. I especially liked this one done by a local student.

Fortunately for me, although I did see some warnings about avoiding cold beverages, ice, and street vendor foods, hot beverages seem to be acceptable -- probably because the water is boiled. 

Now all I have to do is decide which flavor to try, and practice saying Sukr Bala!

Monday, February 9, 2015


Hubby, looking rather French, don't you think?
Warning: If you live up north, and are currently buried under several feet of snow, you may not want to read this post.

The sun finally came out late last week, and we were positively giddy about it.  Our old friends Paula and Tim came to town on Friday, and the sun made their visit just that much better. Paula and I had been invited to a retirement luncheon for our friend Nurse Nellie, whom we met back in the late 70s when we were all living in Bahrain. Her daughter ordered one of those yummy cakes from Sugar Shack for the celebration.

Nellie's grandbaby Wyatt gives it his seal of approval!
While we were at the luncheon, our three hubbies went to the newish Black's Barbecue over in San Marcos, then paid a visit to their favorite little cigar shop down on the square.

Saturday was such a pretty day that we opted to spend most of it out of doors. We started by taking Paula and Tim for a walk through Wimberley's lovely little cemetery, which holds some of our earliest settlers, then on down to the Blue Hole. After lunching at Inoz, overlooking Cypress Creek, we took them back to get packed up, then we all headed out to inspect Fall Creek Vineyards new tasting room that recently opened up across from Salt Lick Barbecue. Apparently they just bought some little old lady's house and didn't have to do much to convert it.

I could live in that house! Only problem is, you'd be hungry all the time, because of the smoke drifting over from Salt Lick. Did you know that Salt Lick has their own vineyard now? Fall Creek actually uses some of those grapes in one of their wines. Wonder if it has hints of BBQ in its bouquet?

Unfortunately, our visit with the Sanfords had to end right after that, but the outdoor weekend fun did not! Sunday afternoon we met up with a group of friends we haven't got together with since Lexie's wedding. One couple has a young daughter and a teenaged Russian exchange student. Both were delighted to spend time here.

The adults spent their time here, chowing down on some of Outdoor Woman's fabulous Mexican cuisine.

Best of all, I am ever so happy to report that, after several false starts, I have finally figured out how to make my favorite Tout de Suite Praline recipe come out just right in my new microwave.

Hubby, Paula and Tim were more than happy to help me get rid of the not-so-perfect ones.

So I ask you, could a weekend in February possibly get any better?