Unfortunately, from time to time I am forced to leave Austin. I’m like a bear being forced out of my cozy hibernation. On those rare occasions, I try to make the best of it, and a couple weeks ago I was definitely not disappointed. I got cake from Brandy the Stewrat in honor of Roomie Matt passing his CCIE exam. I don’t really know what that entails, other than only 800 people on the globe have passed the test, so it’s a pretty big deal.
Brandy cake! It was fantastic, as always. We also got to experience an awesome little Thai restaurant in the medical center area. It was called Thai Corner, and they had awesome lunch specials on the weekend. you can also choose your level of spiciness, from zero to “I’m Thai, make it Thai spicy”.
I got the Panang Curry tofu, spiciness level 2. It was soooo good. Plus, the lunch specials include soup and an appetizer.
Super delicious pot stickers! I want some right this second. They were crispy and savory. Hubby also got a drink called a Jade Monkey.
It is made up of some kind of soda, banana liquor, and mystery ingredients. It was sweet and refreshing, and tasted like a monkey’s personality. That’s the only way I can explain it. Dr. Stacey got a Thai Boba tea. I had never had one before, and I am a total fan now. It was lightly sweet, and the little bubbles were chewy, like gummy bears. All in all, I loved the place, and can’t wait to get back, even though it means traveling to San Antonio.
Sarah of the long red hair has game nights over at her house pretty frequently, and I must not be THAT repellent, because I get invited. Sarah is a master of theme parties. Even if she just does something small, I thinks it’s super cool.
The first game we played last time was called Wasabi.
You have to get ingredient cards to match up with your recipe cards, and then place them on the board. It’s kind of like scrabble too, because you can build off of other people’s recipes that are on the board. To go with the sushi theme, Sarah made sushi petit fours. Cake cut out, wrapped in fondant, then iced, with a bit more fondant for the sushi insides and sprinkles for the rice.
It was soooo hard not to gorge myself sick on them. Only the fact that there were other people around kept me from inhaling the whole tray.
We played another game, and I forgot what it’s called, but we were each building train tracks across the country.
You got points for each track, and for the longest track. You draw cards with two cities on them, say Los Angeles and Chicago, and you have to link the two cities with your track. I wish I could remember the name of the game, because it was really fun. Sarah and her boyfriend Travis have a wall of board games at their house, and every time we go we pick something different to play. It is so much fun!
Yesterday, for the first time, I was called upon to perform my civic duty. I performed admirably. No, don’t thank me. I mean, I did my part to make society safer, but I’m not Batman or anything. I experienced the rush of the case, the testimony of the defendant, and the tough questions of the prosecution…when I got home and watched “Law and Order”. The actual jury duty is much less interesting.
This was my first time for jury duty, and I had a little idea of what to expect. Hubby had to go a couple weeks ago and didn’t get picked. I am not familiar with the downtown area, and I wasn’t really sure where to go. If you get called upon for your first time at jury duty in Austin, here’s what to expect.
I got a letter in the mail telling me to complete basically a survey online. This survey determines if you are eligible for jury duty. I obviously was. I then got an email telling me where and when to show up. I was to be at the Municipal Court at 9am yesterday. They gave me an address, VERY sketchy directions, and a vague idea about parking.
The whole parking thing completely sucked. The Municipal Court is on the Northwest corner of I-35 and East 7th. The main entrance faces South. Across the street from the entrance is a TINY parking lot. There’s a Texaco station between it and the freeway. In the email I received, they told me there were limited free spots available for jurors in this lot, and they were first come, first served. I was the morning shift, at 9am, and several of these spots were available, even when I left. The juror spots are around the outer edge of this parking lot, and they are miniscule. Drive the smallest vehicle you own if you plan to park there. The spots may be harder to get for the afternoon, or 1:30pm shift or jurors.
There are also pay spots in this lot which are $10 each. I was informed by a helpful citizen that they will tow you if you park there, even if you pay. She was also the one that pointed out where the juror spots were. I’m assuming that if all the juror spots are taken, you can pay for parking, and put your jury summons on the dash and you won’t get towed. You will also supposedly be reimbursed for parking. Before I was told where the jury spots were, I attempted to pay for parking here, and no receipt came out, therefore no reimbursement.
In the email, it said to print out said email, write your name on the top, and then place it on your dash. I would do this no matter where you end up parking. The meters nearby said they have a 3 hour max time limit, and I have no idea how mean they are about towing. I do not venture downtown often, mostly due to the whole parking madness, so I’m trying to give you the best advice I can.
Once I got into the building, I had to go through a metal detector. They had said in the email to prepare for a search, like at the airport. This is not entirely accurate. You don’t have to take off your shoes, or have your liquids in a separate ziplock bag inside your bag (not that I did any of that! I’m far too clever!). I just emptied my pockets, put my bag on the conveyor belt, and walked through the metal detector quickly. I made sure not to wear any jewelry, just to make life simpler.
Another note: no food or drinks are allowed in the court rooms. I had my coffee with me, but had to keep it shut, and couldn’t drink it. I also had snacks in my bag for the long wait, and didn’t get to touch one bit of them. Next time, I will bring snacks, but leave them in my car. The car was very close by, so if I needed anything it wouldn’t have been hard to run out there.
What to expect: You basically have to sit there and wait to see if there will be a case or not, and then wait to be asked questions, and wait to see if you get picked. I did not, so I have no idea what happens after that. The Municipal Court in Austin focuses on driving violations people decide to fight, and misdemeanors, so the cases on the list don’t always go through.
What to bring: a book you can pick up and put down easily, because there were several interruptions, and MP3 player, or something with earbuds. You can put these in your ears to avoid conversations with creepy people (it worked for me), a crossword or sudoku, and a warm sweater, because it was freaking cold in there. I would also dress comfortably and wear closed shoes to keep your feet warm. I get cold easily, though.
We spent a lot of time listening to the judge, so I didn’t really get to read much of my book, but the earbuds prevented the weirdo that purposefully sat next to me from talking to me. I’m not being arrogant, I mean I know I’m decent looking and I bathe regularly, but for some reason I am a nutbag magnet. At “Night of the Bat” a creepy walked up to me and talked to me for 20 minutes, right next to Hubby!
The one thing is I should have left earlier so I had more time to figure out where to park and everything. I was racing around downtown before I found the right place, and got to the court room barely on time. Traffic downtown is bad, and getting there is worse, so add a half hour to when you think you should leave. Good luck, and God Speed, my minions.
I baked tons of veggies and meat all at once the other day, and made some beans in the crock pot. This fed me and Hubby for the week, and here are some of the recipes I made with all that.
I started by making a cup of instant rice, mixed in a cup of my beans noir, 1/2 a can of Rotel tomatoes, 3 slices of American cheese, and about a 1/3 of a can of refried beans. I also mixed in some garlic salt, chili powder and cumin.
Add a pile of veggies and some sliced tomatoes, and it was awesome. Healthy, fast, and delicious!
We simply microwaved and ate a bunch of the batch cooking for lunches and dinners for the week. I also shredded a bunch of chicken and made chicken salad, a pot of Mexican chicken soup, and a whole pan of chicken enchiladas.
When we got to the point when there were a couple tupperware of veggies left, I made a big casserole. It was like a broccoli rice casserole, but all kinds of veggies.
This is what you’ll need: 2 cups of instant rice, 1 can of cream of chicken, 1 can of broccoli cheese soup, and about 2 cups of shredded cheese, along with all the veggies.
Mix all that stuff together, but save at least one cup of cheese. Spread the mix into the casserole dish, and spread the last cup of cheese over the top.
And it was delicious! Cheese makes sure everything gets eaten!
Yes! It’s a crafting post! Aren’t you THRILLED? This one is awesome. I have tons of pairs of earrings, way too many for the earring holders I have. They are constantly falling off and making me swear, so I decided to increase capacity this weekend.
You will need: an embroidery hoop, paint, glue, and some kind of loose weave fabric, like lace or fishnet.
Paint the embroidery hoop whatever color your little minion heart desires. I happen to have at least a half dozen embroidery hoops laying around, way more than I’ll ever need to sew things. I painted mine black, let it dry throughly, then painted red glitter on the outer one. Having a lack base coat really makes red glitter stand out much better.
Next, put the fabric into the hoop. Don’t cut anything yet! Use the corner of the fabric, and stretch it across. Tighten the hoop as much as possible. Test your fabric by poking it in the middle. You want it to be taught, but a bit stretchy. You want to make sure it’s not pulling out of the hoop at all. Once you have that ready to go, keep the fabric in the hoop, and cut it away from the larger piece of fabric.
Now cut the fabric down very low, so that only a tiny bit sticks up on the back.
I coated the back edge with glue to make sure the fabric would stay in place. I don’t see how I could ever get the fabric back in place if it slipped even a little, so I decided to prevent that possibility. I used fabric glue, but I think Elmer’s would work just fine here. You just need something that will soak into the fabric, rather than sit on top like a silicon glue would. I let it dry overnight.
This is how awesome it looks now. The flower is actually a hair clip that had nowhere to live, and I think it looks great right there. I put all my black and red earrings on it, and I love it!
You can see why I needed a new earring holder. Yes, I have that many earrings. No, I’m not sharing. The other earring holders are made from Popsicle sticks and window screen material. They were made by my wonderful sis Beans. Yay! Closet cuteness!
I read lots of articles on how to save money. I get sick of reading “stop going out to eat!” Uh, no crap. Maybe you could tell me something useful? Apparently common sense isn’t as common as we’d all hope, because lots of things I’d consider basic ways to save money (“Paint your own nails instead of getting manicures!”) make up entire articles on other sites. Not this site! I believe you all have brains of your own, and don’t need me to spell every little thing out for you. You’re welcome.
One idea I have read many places, whether it’s saving money or eating healthier, is batch cooking. Most articles referring to this suggest that you, for example, make two casseroles, eat one and freeze one. I think this idea is on the right track, but with a couple flaws. 1) I only have the freezer space available in my side-by-side. I don’t believe that buying a whole other freezer is worth the tiny amount I’d save by buying and freezing my own vegetables while they’re in season, not to mention the extra electricity it would take up. Plus think of the clutter! Uck! And what if the power went out and all that food got ruined? Forget it. It’s sounds like one more hassle I don’t need. 2) If I made 2 casseroles, don’t I now need 2 casserole dishes? At least? If I was doing that habitually I should either buy stock in Pyrex, or get a ton of those aluminum catering dish things. It sounds pretty wasteful and cluttery, again.
Obviously I wouldn’t be writing a blog post just to complain. Well, I would, but I’m not at the moment. I put all the clever little gears in my brain to work on the best way to do batch baking, and have I got a bitchin’ idea for all of you! (That’s your reward for fighting your way past my ranting. Give yourself a pat on the back!) Why should you cook just the same thing when batch cooking? My plan is to bake lots of basic elements that can be made into tons of meals. So we start off with veggies.
During this time of year, lots of veggies are in season, and therefore super cheap. I hate cutting vegetables, so I bought probably about 20 pounds of broccoli, zucchini (or courgettes, if you’re feeling fancy), cauliflower and other veggies that were around $0.88 per pound. I busted out my food processor, and let it chop them all to bits for me! Usually, I wouldn’t get it dirty just for that, but I was also baking my Tomato Glut Sauce the same night, and I knew it would be getting dirty regardless.
This is my oven with pans of veggies and sweet potatoes in it cooking. At the same time, I had the crock pot going with beans, and a pot of soup for dinner.
I’m calling these “beans noir” because they looked pure black and white in real life. This was a mix of black beans, northern beans, and black eyed peas.
All those little bitty chopped bits that always occur when you chop vegetables? Where can they go?
That’s right! In the soup! This is the chick that pioneered the almost free soup. Of course it’s going into soup! Plus, little bits of green stuff in soup make it look more appetizing, and like you did lots of work to make it. It’s all psychological, people.
I baked an oven full of veggies, an oven full of meat (mostly chicken), made a pot of soup, and a pot of beans in one night. The rest of the week, all I had to do was basically microwave food, and then eat it. The whole idea here is to minimize the amount of time I have to spend in the kitchen, and to heat up the kitchen only one day a week. I’ll post what I made with the batch cooking later this week. Noms!
As you know, because I’m sure you are an avid reader, bordering on stalker, Hubby and I got a puppy a few months back. We adopted him from the Alpine Humane Society where my sister Beans was working. Our sweet puppy Flapjack is doing well, and so far has only destroyed several rolls of toilet paper, and one other thing which I will show you.
Yes that is a real picture I actually took of my puppy. It is not from a pet calendar or anything like that. He’s really that adorable. Ok, let’s all get it out of our system together: Wook at that cutesy widdle face! Schmooky booky boo! Feel better?
Here’s my proof this is really my dog:
There he is, joyfully sitting in the midst of his destruction. That was my upstairs bathroom carpet, which we had planned on replacing…eventually. Looks like that will be happening earlier than we hoped.
This is Flapjack with our fat cat Mushroom. Flapjack loves Mushroom, and thinks they are best friends. He lays next to him and plays with him all the time. Mushy kind of tolerates Flapjack, and periodically whines while Flapjack attempts to play with him. They are freaking hilarious to watch, and I think Mushroom is starting to like Flap.
That’s your “awww…” for today!
Hubby stumbled across this movie on Netflix, and realized the main character is the lead singer of the Talking Heads! It’s set in a small, fictional town in Texas where the town is getting ready for a big celebration. John Goodman is in it as a lonely single man, looking for a wife.
The whole movie has a really unique look, and is somewhat odd, but completely endearing. It reminded me of a John Waters movie without the disgusting stuff or cynicism. It was also somewhat similar to Edward Scissorhands. I definitely recommend it. I was so surprised by how interesting it was!
Let me start by saying, I freaking love tomatoes. I will cut up a bunch of them raw, and just eat them. During this time of year, when all the tomatoes are ripe, delicious, and super cheap, I have a hard time not buying out the store. I usually buy several pounds more than I can finish, and here’s what I do with the extras.
Once the tomatoes start to get a little soft, not rotten or anything, just a bit soft, I make them into homemade tomato sauce. It’s perfect for spaghetti or bruschetta. A couple years ago I found this recipe for tomato glut sauce on Care2.com, a website I like a lot. The best part about this recipe is that you don’t have to peel the tomatoes! That would take forever.
This is my pan of raw, seasoned vegetables. One piece of advice I have is either cut the carrots REALLY small, or cook them some ahead of time. They take a long time to cook, and mine were still really crunchy.
This is after I baked it all. It smells fantastic, and it’s super healthy. Lots of commercially made pasta sauces have lots of sugar and preservatives added. After this step, you run it through the food processor and then eat it or freeze it. This is a great recipe for freezing, and it comes out tasting just as good.
Hubby made pasta for us the other day using this sauce (Yes! He cooked! And I didn’t have to screech at him or anything!) He took some ground turkey and browned it in BEER, then added the glut sauce. It was so freaking delicious, I hardly even needed the pasta with it! We had some beer in the house neither of us was that fond of, and it cooked up great. This would also be a good recipe to use up some white or red wine that either you don’t like, or has turned to vinegar. It also gives you a great excuse to buy beer! You’re welcome.
We have several Asian grocery stores around town, and they have all kinds of awesome and weird stuff. I like to go get different foods and try them out.
I haven’t tried this one, but I thought the label was funny:
I think these are durians. Each of these is significantly larger than a football, and very hard. I’m thinking about getting one, cracking it open, and trying to make bowls! We’ll see though.
These are duck eggs that they dye to differentiate from normal eggs. That shade of dye can’t be healthy.
I love pho (pronounced fuh, according to my Vietnamese friends). Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup with a very distinctive broth, and usually with beef and herbs in it. When I found pho bouillon at the store I had to try it.
I got some rice noodles to go in it.
It came out pretty good, but it didn’t taste the same as what I was looking for. Pho at a Vietnamese restaurant is usually about $5 for a bowl the size of a basketball, so it’s worth it to go out and let the professionals handle the soup making.
I hope you all enjoy the massive amount of photos! Now that I can upload, I have a ton saved up to share!