Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I just got back from Texas! One of my best friends moved to Austin while I was still in Korea, and I wanted to see her. Plus it's been the darkest, wettest, coldest Seattle spring in a million years (or something like that) so a hot-weather escape was in order. My friend Will and I went together, and arrived in Austin in the evening. The air was warm and the plants and birds and smells were unfamiliar and we were stoked for a few days in this new place. We had a late dinner consisting of many vegetables from their house farm box (So many things already in season! It's only May!) and some local Texan microbrews and sat out by the backyard fire. It was warm and dry but there was a lightning storm, turning the big night sky turquoise under streaks of forked lightning. We just don't get that in the Northwest.

I figured in the morning we'd wake up and get out the door as soon as possible to see Austin in the day time. But to my dismay, it was pouring down rain! Like, dumping buckets, tropical storm, hail stones, house-shaking thunder, raining. Apparently they really needed the rain, so I couldn't be too bummed, but seriously, we were trying to escape Seattle weather. It was a little ridiculous.
It just meant that the three of us sat around the cozy dining room with pot after pot of french-press coffee, attempting to catch up on the last year of life. Luckily it cleared up by afternoon and got sunny and we headed out for a walk and shopping. That night we met up with Lindsey's roommate at a pizza place for dinner, who also had just had a friend come into town. Incidentally, the roommate and her friend are both also from Washington state, making for a 5-person Pacific Northwest convergence.

The next day the 5 of us walked around Congress street, got ice cream, and then decided to check out the flagship Wholefoods (essential tourist stop, I know) for lunch. It was indeed huge, with beer and wine tasting areas and a chocolate fountain. As we were leaving, the fire alarm went off, which we assumed was not real as the crowds of people flooded out the doors. We went to the car and smelled smoke, and as we pulled out of the parking garage, saw smoke and fire trucks on the corner. Only my 3rd day in Texas, and already I was dodging death.

The afternoon sun was still hot, and we went to Barton Springs to go swimming. It's an awesome swimming area right in the city that is fed by a natural spring and is virtually the same temperature year-round. Unfortunately Lindsey had to go to work, but the four of us swam and sun-bathed and did some good people-watching.
Somehow our foursome dubbed ourselves Team America, and the Team decided that staying outside was the only way to go for dinner. Seriously, I love warm climates, where most of the year you never really have to go inside until its too hot and you need the a/c. The weather couldn't have been nicer, just warm and comfortable. There are a million taco trucks/food trailers in Austin, serving all sorts of food. This one that we went to had Mediterranean food and a doughnut truck and another one that I don't remember in detail but I was eyeing the half a quail. In the end I went for lamb kabob with a blackberry-roasted habanero dipping sauce. Yum! The best part about a lot of these places is that you can BYOB. Again, that would never happen in Washington.
The next morning, Team America went running together around the neighborhood. Linds and Caroline live in Cherrywood, a cute residential neighborhood with a handful of local coffee shops, grocery stores, taco stalls, and bars.
Then, in good Texan fashion, we went toobin' on the river. That's right, not tubing, it's toobin'. We drove about a half hour out of town to the Rio Blanco, where you can park your car, rent a tube, and have a bus shuttle you to a drop point upriver. It was a lot like the tubing I've done on the Nooksack- slow and shallow water, big groups of friends, separate intertubes to float food and drink coolers. Some of the differences though- half of the men on the river had tattoos, and most of them were Texas-themed (state shape or flag) or a cross (usually with a longhorn skull hanging from it). Also, every one was tan. And there were more speakers blasting really loud music. Definitely not as peaceful as the river experiences I've had back home, but super fun all the same.
On Sunday morning we all made a big Sunday brunch together and drank a lot of coffee while listening to the Gospel show on KEXP. In this city so close to the Mexican border, I was inspired to do some regional dishes, so we ended up with egg and poblano chilaquiles, sauteed summer squash, black beans, salsa, and homemade guacamole. Later, we got even more inspired and made avocado margaritas. Sounds weird right? Don't worry my friend, they were delicious, especially on a lazy hot Sunday in the backyard.

It was hard to leave such a wonderful place after connecting with new and old friends. I will miss Lindsey dearly, but hopefully she'll stay in Austin for awhile so I have an excuse to go back.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Horray for Moms

Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there! I hope you had a fun, relaxing, love-filled day.

The past week I've been gearing up for the holiday at a flower shop in Bellingham where I've worked on and off for many years. It was great to be back among old coworkers and the flowers, chatting, laughing, and getting creative with beautiful fragrant things.

While not working I also found time to make dinner with my sister, draw with my niece, run around Lake Padden, go square dancing, see a local play, check out new restaurants, see old friends, play Bananagrams at the bar, drink a lot of coffee, and dream about going to Italy.

On Sunday morning I worked for a few hours, made some corsages for the moms in my family, and high-tailed it back to Seattle for a late family lunch. It was a nice relaxing end to a hectic week, the best part of course being able to be with my mom. She is an amazing woman and one of my best friends, and I couldn't be more grateful for her presence in my life.