Saturday, May 21, 2011

Seven on Saturday

Seven pictures for this Saturday

 Nathan's soccer team this season.
 Our Sunday morning donuts at the park.

One of many typical rainbows in Arizona this time of year.

An after dinner walk, enjoying the nice weather.  It's time to get a new bike for our FOUR year old!

Sneaking in some reading time at Sears while Greg and Nathan shop the tools department. Seriously.

Putt-putt golf after our Friday night dinner, Nathan's first time!

The only way to survive the rigorous work schedule this month.  Coffee.  Hot coffee, Iced coffee, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, it doesn't matter-just give this woman some coffee!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Family Ties

While in Austin, I made it a priority to visit my Aunt & Uncle who helped raise me.  I lived in this house with them when I was 5 and again when I was 8.  I once read something that said "family is not who you are born to but who understands you' or something like that.  My Aunt & Uncle would fall into that category; they understand me because they understand the history that shaped who I am. 

My Aunt is like a second mom; she bought me clothes, cooked dinner, took care of me when I was throwing up spaghetti in her upstairs bedroom.   To this day, I'll use my left foot to brake while driving because I always wanted to mimic her when I drove.  My cousin, also pictured, was an equally integral part of my history because she became a big sister to me at a time that I needed one.

My Uncle pictured here was always a steady and consistent presence.  I love hearing him talk, I'm not sure why but the sound of his smooth voice is just comforting to me. 

Something I really valued at their house while growing up was a portrait of my Aunt and all her siblings which hung in the living room.  Perhaps my affinity for the 1950's era stems from the countless time I would spend looking at this portrait! Here we are looking at the picture on the kitchen table while I was grilling my Aunt on who was who and how old they were at the time (1955).

Top Row, from left to right, age in parenthesis: Faye (14), Shirley (16), Sylvia (18), Tilda (20), Jean (22).
Bottom Row: Eddie (12), Gary (10) [my dad], Myra (8).

These are all my Aunt's and I lived with almost all of them at one point or another while growing up!

Visiting my Aunt and Uncle was great but they were very quick to remind me that the last time they saw me was 11 years ago when Greg and I got married - Ouch!!  I really need to do a better job at staying in touch....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hulls vs. Food

There was a time when Greg and I watched Man vs. Food on the Travel channel pretty regularly.  In one of those shows, two Texas restaurants were featured and Greg promised that we would visit those two places whenever the opportunity arose.  True to his promise, we did just that.

First - The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que.  What makes it unique? They sear the meat and then move it away from the hottest part of the fire to cook slowly.  They cook it over an open fire fed by live oak wood.  The open fire pit is literally inside the cooking area of the restaurant.  The restaurant front door is literally to the right of the pit where you see the Exit sign.  When you walk in, you walk right beside the 'kitchen' where the open fire pit is located.

The restaurant staff saw me taking a hundred pictures of the firepit and invited me into the cooking area to get a better shot.  Then they set me up for a picture. Here I am behind the firepit, holding a bbq sauce brush.  Don't miss all the brisket lined against the far edge - the pit was loaded with meat!

Unfortunately, I did not get a good picture of my combo plate of 3 meats: brisket, sausage, & turkey.  However, I can honestly say it was the best Texas BBQ meat I've ever had.  Adam Richmond did not steer us wrong.  Final Score: Hulls-1, The Salt Lick-0 because we ate everything on our plates and ordered dessert!

Second - Round Rock  Donuts.  What makes them unique?  The yeast-risen doughnut originates from a bread-like dough; its distinct yellow color (from fresh eggs) immediately sets it off from any other doughnut.
Unlike baking powder doughnuts, this yeast doughnut cannot be machine-made; it must be hand-rolled, cut, fried and iced.  Round Rock Donuts also uses their own orange glaze recipe which also sets this donut apart from others.

Yep, by the time I took the picture, we had already scarfed down 2 from the half dozen we ordered!  The real fun though is one particular item listed on the menu; the Texas Sized donut for $5.99.

The first time we went to Round Rock Donuts, we went through the drive-thru and  I asked to see a Texas Size Donut.  It's a 2 lb. donut.  Of course, I took a picture.

We came back the next day and I then took a picture of the Texas Sized Donut next to the regular donuts for perspective.

Greg's favorite donuts have always been Krispy Kreme's until now.  He says the Round Rock glazed donut far surpasses.  I have to agree, for different reasons though.  I'm not a glazed donut person, the 'cake' donuts are more up my ally and Round Rock Donuts had an Applesauce Cake donut that was out of this world.  So the final score: Hulls-1, Round Rock Donuts-0 because we ate every crumb without wasting a bite! more on its way...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Austin Steam Train

We scheduled a train ride while we were in Austin as a fun activity for Nathan that grandparents and parents alike could also enjoy.  Our train was a vintage diesel, Austin & Texas Central No. 442, RSD-15 built in 1960.  The only remaining diesel of its type still in operation. 

To say that Nathan was excited about this, would pretty much be an understatement.  I kept thinking he had to go potty but he was just so excited, he litterally could not sit still.  Here is Grandma and Nathan with their train tickets.

We boarded the 2:00pm Buckeye Lake car.

Our car was typical in the 1940s and '50s and originally built for the Nickel Plate and Lackawanna railroads.  The seats could turn and face either direction or recline, the seats were quite comfortable and spacious.  Nathan's smile in the picture below represents his level of enthusiasm at this point.

There were probably 10 cars connected to the engine and we were able to walk from car to car.  The connection between cars created a small space to walk between which was somewhat open to the elements before reaching the next car door.

There was also a concession car with drinks, snacks and souvenirs which was fun.

Nathan was alert and watching out the windows during most of our train ride.

Our train route from Cedar Park to Bertram was about 33 miles one way with a brief layover at the Bertram depot.  The depot was originally built in 1912 and fully restored to museum quality in 1998.  I could have sat in this little depot for hours just imagining how things operated so long ago. 

Just enough time before boarding for a quick family picture.  Fun was had by all...but by Nathan the most!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

 A motherhood quote from my favorite photographer Jennifer Bowen:
"From my own experience with motherhood, it has transformed me on the deepest levels. It challenges me, humbles me, humors me, hurts me, drains me, and fulfills me. Sometimes all of those emotions happen in one day. It taught me patience, showed me the depths in which my heart could feel for another human being, and broadsided me with the realization that I will forever wear my heart on my sleeve."
Perfectly said. Happy Mother's Day!




Friday, May 6, 2011

The University of Texas at Austin

Of course we visited The University of Texas while we were in Austin - it's only 4 blocks from the state capital, after all.  The old Victorian-Gothic main building serves as the central point of the 40-acre campus.

We stopped at the Co-op for some Longhorn shopping, where they had this photo-op set up for shoppers.

Also just outside the co-op is this painted wall of Austin.

Inside the co-op is a Longhorn fan's heaven.  I did not buy these horns but Greg did buy the Texas flag with the Longhorn in the blue, seen here.

The boys also went to a baseball game,  UT-4, OU-3. David was originally wearing a maroon shirt, Greg made him change and fortunately, David packed a less offensive shirt.  :)

Greg and Nathan in front of the baseball stadium, don't miss the fact that there's alot of orange in this picture.

...stay tuned...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The State Capital of Texas

While in Austin, we made it a priority to do a few  important things during our brief stay.  One of those was to visit the state capital.  Perhaps, your wondering why would we want to visit the state capital?

I remember moving to Arizona and making a fuss when I finally saw Arizona's state capital.  Arizona natives didn't understand what my fuss was about, so I'm taking this opportunity to illustrate.

Here I am standing in front of the Arizona State Capital:

Here is Greg and Nathan standing in front of the Texas State Capital:

In Texas - it's big.  It's also beautiful and very impressive but the real reason we went to the state capital was for Nathan.  We've been teaching him the states and after studying the map one day, he asked "What's the stars?".  We explained the star is the capital for each state, a very hard concept to explain.  I thought it might help if he physically saw the capital though I'm not sure if he really understands at four years of age.  That's the real reason we visited.  Without further ado some more pictures from the Texas State Capital.

Completed in 1888, it is recognized as one of the nation's most distinguished state capitals.  It also holds a position in the National Register of Historic Places and is also designated a National Historic Landmark for its "significant contribution to American history."

The dome section of the building is the most impressive, this is looking down at the floor from the fourth level.

This is looking up at the ceiling from ground level.

Greg, on the fourth floor, took this picture of Nathan and me on the 3rd floor, just across the opening.  Though it's hard to see us, Nathan and I are in the smack center of this picture.

There are painted portraits hanging everywhere of former officers of the state, Nathan is looking at Davy Crockett, who fought in the Texas Revolution and died at the Alamo.

 The front lawn and grounds of the capital are meticulously maintained and quite beautiful.  Here is Greg and Nathan as we leave.

More of Austin ahead....