Monday, July 30, 2007

down with nutty brown

(this post is dedicated to Raymond, who yelled at me for boring him to tears with my gazpacho recipe post. so Raymond: here you go, don't ever let me hear you complaining again! also, my gazpacho was delicious, so there.)

last Thursday was shockingly clear and rain-free here in the ATX. it had been an incredibly stressful week, so when a co-worker stopped by and asked me if I was interested in dinner and a drink I was more than eager to oblige. we headed over to Polvo's, an oh-so-South-Austin Mexican spot complete with tons of outdoor seating, a tin roof, and a well-cultivated vibe of laid-back cool. many margaritas later, we decided it was too nice of a night to head home, so we sat in his open-top convertible, debating our options.

and then somehow... we ended up at Nutty Brown Cafe, which is about a 20-minute drive out from central Austin. it's literally on the side of the highway out in Texas Hill Country, but as we pulled up to the friendly neon sign, we noticed that it was packed. now, I had had a big client meeting that day and my friend had had a job interview, so we were both pretty dressed up -- atypical behavior for sure, since he is usually in designer jeans and a t-shirt and I'm rocking the jeans/flats combo. so we walk into the place, thinking that we could maybe sit outside (apparently they're famous for their outdoor amphitheater space, complete with towering live oak trees and tons of starry sky)... only to discover that it's karaoke night, baby, and the place is hoppin'.

karaoke night. I get all tingly just thinking about it.

to set the scene: we are the only non-white people in the place (my friend is Hispanic). there are men with large bellies who are wearing cowboy hats in complete seriousness -- this is not meant to be funny or ironically hip, this is what they wear when they are heading out to a bar. I am the only woman wearing pointy-toed shoes in the entire place. the karaoke area is relatively small, and there is a steady stream of singers up on the stage. we walk in -- me in a dress and slingback heels, he in Prada eyewear and arty cufflinks -- and immediately get sized up by the crowd. surely we've come into the wrong place and are going to turn around and drive back to downtown Austin where we belong?

but hells no, friends, hells no, I say! we grab two stools at the bar and start drinking up. fast-forward a few drinks and I am up on the stage, singing country songs and winning over the crowd, who are shocked to say the least by the dressed-up Asian chick belting Leann Rimes and Jo Dee Messina (M.Lo, if you're still reading -- I completely thought of you and tried to channel my inner Atlanta debutante while I sang it). I even had one fan that called me "Lucy Liu" all night (insert stupid-white-people eye roll here, but hey, he meant well).

it was, in a short phrase, a total and utter blast. we left the nutty brown with many invitations to return and party with them and headed back to the lights of downtown Austin, happy with our random adventure and reveling in our temporary stardom.


it's.... recipe Monday!!

(not that this implies a consistent commitment to posting a new recipe every single Monday... I just liked the sound of that title; plus, that's just way too much commitment for me right now)


last week officially kicked my ass in more ways than one, so I made the decision to spend the majority of this weekend on my couch. friday night? quick work happy hour then home for kraft macaroni & cheese and sex and the city reruns on DVD. saturday? sleep for most of the day, then take advantage of the one non-rainy window to go for a long run outdoors -- only to get rained on, lose my keys, kill my muscles by repeating my run while power-walking so that I could look for my keys and have zero success... so I returned to the couch to watch Grease and a What Not to Wear marathon on TLC. oh, and I went out and got hammered. sunday? sleep for most of the day, get sucked into making of the band 4 marathon on MTV (p. diddy is just incredibly unattractive), go for long power walk around neighborhood... and finally go to grocery store.

I decided I wanted to try to make something I'd never attempted before. after scouring a few cookbooks for inspiration, I decided to make some cool, summery gazpacho. it's super easy! here's what I did:

gather your ingredients:
a few ripe tomatoes, chopped
one red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion (I think either sweet onion or purple onion would probably be best), chopped
1/2 cucumber (I used the long, skinny kind that comes wrapped in plastic), chopped
1-2 cloves garlic
lemon juice
some goat cheese for garnish
some EVOO for garnish (sigh... Rachael Ray)

I didn't use exact measurements but I pretty much two parts tomato to one part onion and one part cucumber.

now, easy-peasy directions:
grab a blender. put tomatoes, red bell pepper, cucumber and onion in blender and pulse until pureed (I went in batches -- it won't work that well if you jam it all in there at once). pour into container, season with s&p and lemon juice. pour into your serving bowl, drizzle with EVOO, add some chopped cilantro and a dollop of goat cheese.
ta-da!!! gazpacho is ready.

I saw a few variations on this recipe... one called for green bell pepper instead of red... one called for parsley/mint instead of cilantro (I tend to prefer cilantro though)... another called for a dash of hot sauce (which I think would bring out the flavors quite nicely... I think it's just a matter of trying the different twists and seeing what works for you.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

i'm alive. just.... molding

it has rained every single day in Austin for what feels like the past two months. a few of you e-mailed me back in June when the central Texas floods were making CNN headlines to ask if I was okay (how kind!), and although I was indeed quite fine at the time, I think I'm officially starting to mold. think about it: Austin is known for having great weather. in fact, I specifically remember when I came here to interview for my job and they told me that Austin is sunny 300 days a year. yet here we are. constant rain. constant clouds. constant mugginess. constant OMG I JUST NEED SOME SUN IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK. bah humbug.

to add to the frustration, it's been one of those work 11 crazy, stressful hours, come home, eat, drink a much-needed glass of wine, sleep, wake up, shower, work 11 crazy, stressful hours, rinse, wash, repeat kind of weeks... hence the rather negligent blogging. (although, miracle of miracles, I have already managed to somehow re-read HP #7. heh. priorities?)

anyhoodle. so yes. sorry about the lack of posts. but trust me when I say you haven't missed much. my life/thoughts these days have consisted of work, rain, Harry Potter, rain, enough with these client meetings already, I'm sick of having to dress like a real professional person, daydreaming about moving to some sunny Caribbean place or heck, I'd even settle for Seattle at this point b/c I'm sure their weather is better than this (exhibit A: Austin weather vs. Seattle weather, I rest my case), blah, blah blah...

I am going to think positive thoughts and think back to this kind of weather instead:

Sunday, July 22, 2007

sweet, sweet relief


yes, caps lock is obnoxious, but totally necessary.


I had been planning on reading it next wknd when I would have some more time to devote to it -- mostly since a) I still hadn't received my copy, b) I knew I'd have a busy week at work and c) I really wanted to take some time to truly savor it... but I ended up reading it today, in four breathless hours, cramped into an uncomfortable in the bookstore next door to my office.

yes, I am a dork (I prefer to call it "hard-core fan"). I had gone into the office today to get a few things done and ended up wandering into the bookstore to maybe just read the first few chapters... then I got completely sucked in and read all 800 pages in four hours of non-stop reading. I didn't stop, I didn't pee, I didn't do anything.


more on the rest of my wknd another time...

Friday, July 20, 2007


fridays are supposed to be the day when you sleep in, roll into work in flip flops, take long lunches, catch up on email, do your timesheets, go to happy hour, read blogs, etc -- not wake up to pouring rain, early morning client meetings, crazy schedules and drama.

that is the end of my vent. or at least all i have time for.

also, i really should not have eaten three slices of pizza for lunch.

oh well. back to work.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

gettin' my worm on

this morning, I voluntarily woke up at 6:15.


let's pause for a second and take that in. let it soak into your brain. choice.

I had agreed to meet my friend Kelly @ Austin high school for an early-morning track workout -- a few laps, some sprints, maybe a few squats/lunges, etc.

(this from a girl who never gets up before 8 unless there is a plane to be caught, and that plane better be flying somewhere interesting. unless, of course, it's for work, and in that case, you better believe that I am going to buy some delicious breakfast tacos at the airport and expense them to my office)

we met. we ran. we stretched. we stared at all the bikini boot camp participants and hard-core runtex running teams strutting their stuff on the track.

I came home. I showered. I ate. and I showed up at work before 9 am.

people, I think this is my own personal definition of "the early bird gets the worm." so much more gets done when you show up before 9 am! it's wildly impressive! I may have to turn over a new leaf.

well, more would get done if I wasn't so busy obsessing over my new pearl. to pearl or to curve, that is (still) the question.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

crippled by indecision

as some of you may know, I can be a bit indecisive. (heh) whenever I go out to eat (which is often), I generally narrow my preferences down to 2-3 entrees and then ask the server for their recommendation (which I may or may not take). I don't know why this is... I've just always been this way.

yesterday I finally decided to upgrade my ancient Nokia brick phone (which, to its credit, has not only survived a million and one business/personal trips around the world but also survived a short stay in my friend Erin's dog's mouth). I have been carrying two devices for a long time -- a work blackberry for work emails and meeting schedules and a personal cell phone for phone calls and text messaging -- and decided that the time was nigh to make the big switch.

after a few cursory Internet searches, I headed over to the AT&T Wireless store to make my purchase... and that's when the indecision set in. blackberry curve or the sexy red blackberry pearl? curve? pearl? pearl? curve? oooooh looky over there at the pretty, pretty iphone (which is admittedly awesome but a horrible business tool -- typing on that thing was a bitch and a half).

I finally decided upon the red pearl (what can I say, I love red accessories and the curve only comes in silver) but am having a bit of buyer's remorse. the pearl looks amazing but I'm still not quite used to the keyboard... I can text like a maniac but the layout of these keys takes some getting used to and now I'm wondering if I shouldn't have paid the extra $50 for a curve with a full QWERTY keyboard. the pearl is prettier, but the curve is probably more practical.


what do you think?

Friday, July 13, 2007

extremely important news that I can't believed I waited so long to tell you

[I think that wins as the longest post title ever]

on Tues night I got an IM from my work buddy Kelly. she works in our media department and had extra passes to a special sneak preview of the new Harry Potter movie (6 pm, which was way before the national opening time of midnight), was I by any chance interested in going with her?

I nearly passed out in my office due to my excitement.

the new HP movie? for FREE?? before ANYONE else in America gets to see it?!?! with zero obnoxious kids wearing lightning scars on their foreheads and talking through the whole thing?

dude. I think you can understand my excitement.

I think it also goes without saying that I am a BIG.HARRYPOTTER.FAN.

(also, I think it goes without saying that my friend Kelly kicks ass. this is the same friend who had a huge gift card to a fancy-pants seafood restaurant downtown -- given to her by a rep, man oh man why don't I work in media -- and shortly after the invitation to the HP movie, she asked me if I was interested in going to this restaurant to help her spend the $150 on lump crab cake and seared ahi tuna and crab fried rice. scha-wing!!)

without spoiling it for the rest of you schmoes who don't enjoy the ridiculous connections that I do (heh), let me just tell you that this movie kicked some MAJOR wizard ass. it was dark, it was scary, the acting was better than past movies and the dueling scenes were visually amazing. and when I say it was pretty dark and scary, I'm not lying -- I probably watched about 65% of the movie through my fingers (this coming from a girl who's read the book at least five or six times, so it's not like I was going to be surprised by some unexpected plot twist). interestingly enough, it was surprisingly short -- I think I read somewhere that this is the shortest HP movie so far -- so there are never any parts where you feel like the movie is moving slowly or that this is a good time to get up and go to the bathroom. no, you're pretty much engaged the whole time, eyes riveted to the screen, completely caught up in the drama (omg! Harry's going to kiss Cho! omg! this is when they meet Grawp! omg! watch out! the Death Eaters are behind you!)... I actually came out of the theater with a raging headache because I had been staring at the screen intently, entirely wrapped up in the experience.

they left out a lot of the details that are in the book, so if you haven't read the book in a while you may be a bit confused -- but the movie is so well-done that you won't mind. only dorks like me who say "hey! the sneak who snitches on Dumbledore's Army is supposed to be jinxed with the word 'sneak' across her face and I so wanted to see that" are going to notice the plot differences. (man. I think I just established myself as a complete and utter dork. oh well.)

in summary:
1) I kick ass with my cool connections,
2) I saw it before other people,
3) when I came out at 8:30ish the line for the midnight showing was already out the door,
4) go see it now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

worth a thousand words

the Canadian cottage life:

o Canada! f*ck yeah! (no idea why I decided canada is so hard core that it needed not only an angry expression and a stuck-out tongue but also a hand signal and a yellow headband)

urban graffiti/directions in the famous Kensington Market:

Charlie's Angels?

Monday, July 9, 2007


the whirlwind tour of canada and north carolina has come to an end, and I have reluctantly returned to my regular workday schedule. charlotte was awesome -- for you new-ish JMWT readers, my college buddies have an annual Redneck Yacht Club meeting @ my friend Erin's parents' lake house in NC. it's very serious. you must wear redneck gear (I wore a John Deere hat), you must be willing to "pop the top @ 10 am" and you must listen to country music while out on the boat. oh, and you must be willing to imbibe unhealthy amounts of alcohol whilst consuming piles of delicious bbq ribs.

I came back to Austin feeling exhausted, dehydrated, tanned, and incredibly lucky to have the friendships that I have. these are amazing, interesting, accomplished, kind, hilarious, kick-ass, talented women (and men, of course, but it's mainly about the women) who are loyal friends and, most importantly, upstanding members of the Redneck Yacht Club.

as I went into work this morning, I faced the worst possible coming-back-to-work-after-vaca scenario: an all-day client meeting (dun dun dun DUNNNNNN -- beethoven). all I could think about throughout the entire meeting was "why did I choose TODAY to wear these pants?" I had decided to resurrect some fabulous white slacks that had long been languishing in the back of my closet. I paired them with black heels, a black three-quarter sleeve blouse and a turquoise chunky necklace (long pants and long sleeves being necessary because I still have residual marks from the Attack of the Killer Canadian Mosquitoes)... and then as I sat down in my meeting, I realized why I never wear these pants.

they are high-waisted pants.

read: normal waist.

as in: practically up to my belly button. channeling the Mom Jean. cutting off my circulation at every possible moment. as in: please kill me now, I am dying over here in these pants.

it was seriously all I could think about all day. that and "why do these heels hurt my feet so badly" and "why did they choose to have barbecue for today's client lunch when I am totally wearing white pants?" and "what possessed me to buy natural-waist pants?" and "how do women wear these every day?"

I mentally whined all day. work drama. all-day meetings. staying until 7:45 when your mind is completely dead. uncomfortable pants. uncomfortable shoes. leftover prescription anti-histamine grogginess. gross feelings of "all I've done for the past week and a half is drink obscene amounts of alcohol, OMG I want to go on a long, long run but it is too hot outside." whine, whine, whine.

so the first thing I did when I came home (at 8 pm, argh) was shuck off the offending pants, take off the constricting button-down shirt, change into a tank top and underwear and nothing else, flop on the bed and call my friend E to catch up.

life is now officially good.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

attack of the killer canadian mosquitoes

you'll be glad to know that despite combined efforts of Paula's incredibly hard-partying friends, the wonderful lure that is Toronto and venomous flock of canadian killer mosquitoes, I have survived my trip to Oh Canada and lived to tell the tale. it wasn't without a ferocious fight on their parts, however, as the non-stop partying of these crazy canadians' annual Paula's birthday / Canada Day blowout was fierce to say the least. when I (stupidly) suggested that I was tired around 2 a.m. on Fri night, they gave me a look that made me realize just how blasphemous my words had been. staying up until sunrise was a normal thing, so we spent our days/nights hanging out on the lake, drinking, playing bocce ball, drinking, grilling, drinking, sitting in the hot tub, drinking, building bonfires, drinking, stargazing, drinking, setting off fireworks, drinking and roasting marshmallows. oh, and did I mention the drinking? holy crap. I'm surprised my liver still functions.

as a whole, I must say that our neighbors to the north are indeed a friendly people, they do indeed mispronounce "out" and do indeed say "eh?" after every single sentence. it's a funny place, that Canada -- I kept on giggling because I just felt like it was a fake America... which, I'm sure, is something only a presumptuous, self-absorbed American would say, but I can't help it! it's just so bizarre. I will say, however, that I was very impressed with a few things in particular:

1) lay's ketchup chips - why don't we have these in the states? hot damn they are good. potato chips + ketchup = it's like the best of both worlds. I brought two bags back with me to prolong the goodness.
2) tim horton's (aka timmy ho's, heh, I like that version better) - like dunkin donuts, but perhaps slightly better, and on every single street corner. fantastic coffee, excellent timbits (like holes).
3) cesars - bloody mary made with clamato juice (clam juice + tomato juice). spicier than most average bloody marys and with a slightly more complex flavor.
4) toronto - what's not to like? an international city, clean, polite, cultured, great food, lots of bars, a young and upwardly population.
5) the "cottage" life - everyone has cottages here (as opposed to lake houses). you pack a cooler, a tent, some cesars, and you hit the road. aside from the seven-hour car trip we endured on the way back to Toronto on Mon night, it was fantastic.

I've saved the only negative bit for last = Attack of the Killer Canadian Mosquitoes. holy crap. when I say that I am covered in mosquito bites, I am not exaggerating. the only reason I'm not uploading a picture as proof is a) because I like you all and do not want to scare you away and b) my camera is at home. apparently I got eaten alive by mosquitoes and then had a severe allergic reaction to them -- severe enough that I went to the dermatologist today to get a steroid shot and some prescription-strength antihistamine. I am also considering bathing in calamine lotion for the foreseeable future. the worst part? I am going on another vacation tmw morning (to another lake house, ah yes, this is the pimped out life that I lead) and am supposed to spend the entire wknd in a bathing suit. I'm not sure if I can achieve this without scaring small children and people with sensitive digestive systems, but I will do my best and report my results back to you all.

happy belated 4th!