Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Shifty, dahlin'

A few weeks ago I received an email invite for friends and I to join Fado's Irish Pub for a "shifty" (a round of pints after work) on them! So excited, I immediately invited my best girls to join me - Miss KT, Mai, and Dani. Mai's best girl, Dilly, happened to be in town and joined us as well.
I even got Brando to join in on the party!
I was so excited, but wasn't sure how it was going to be. I reserved a table for six of us and we showed up a little past 6:30pm. I'd experienced Fado's before way back when we moved to Austin and wasn't too impressed. Maybe it was because I was missing the California atmosphere so much. Or maybe it was because they've changed since then. Either way, I was happy to get the chance to experience them again and decided to go Irish with my beer. I followed the very sweet waitresses' recommendation of Harp Lager and was so glad I did. It was light and flavorful without any of the bitterness.
Brando followed my lead and ordered an Irish staple - Guinness Stout. Either I thought I didn't like Guinness, or this was a different kind of Guinness altogether because it was amazing. So rich and full of flavor, but without the normal overbearing taste that dark beers tend to have. We were also treated to a delicious sample platter, that was so good we had to order another when we finished the first. The potato pancakes were so yummy they were the first to go, the chicken quesadillas were not your normal quesadilla - they were packed full of chicken and cheese with the tortilla so thin and a delicious creamy sauce drizzled over it that all you tasted was a mouthful of delicious flavor, and the chicken strips were so lightly breaded and dipped in whatever the sauce was in the middle was were absolutely perfect.We had such a good time drinking, talking, laughing, and really, seriously unwinding on a Friday evening after a looooooong week. Brando and Dani clicked in their strange interests (to me) - i.e. Eddie Izzard, and TV shows I can't even remember the names of because I'm that interested in them. I'm pretty sure this is Dani impersonating an Eddie Izzard joke. It was fun to watch him laugh and have such a good time with friends that I enjoy so much.He doesn't often kick back and just have a really good time! Fado's definitely proved me wrong in my previous opinion. The staff were lovely, including the very first person we spoke to who had a very appropriate Irish accent. They sat us right away, brought us our drinks, and appetizers and constantly checked in. I can't wait to go back for another shifty soon : ) . In fact, I'm smiling to myself thinking about it.

We ordered a few more rounds, made sure to leave a hefty tip (hoping it was hefty any way!! I'm never really sure!), and went on our merry way to another event at Austin Handmade. That event post is to come, but here's a sneak peek (literally) of an adorable dress I found and the picture keepsake we made a tradition of taking if we didn't actually buy it. Wish I could remember the designer's name because it was oh so adorable with the lace ruffles sewn in under the skirt where they would just peek out, thus the picture. Whee!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Austin's CRAVE Launch Party

When I first heard about CRAVE and their launch parties, I wasn't sure what it meant, what it stood for, or what the CRAVE Parties were all about. Then, I went to their website and read this blurb, "CRAVE is about girlfriends getting together. It's about connecting, having fun, indulging, learning more and empowering yourself!

The idea for CRAVE came about in 2001, when then 39-year-old, CRAVE Founder, Melody Biringer realized how much she missed spending time with her girlfriends. As Melody and her girlfriends followed their various journeys through life, it was clear that their busy schedules allowed for little time together." and I was hooked.

Apparently CRAVE goes around to different cities and supports women entrepeneurs and business owners by photographing them, interviewing them, and putting them in a CRAVE book. Then they throw a launch party!! Fortunately the Austin one just came to town and Dani and I made a point of attending.

Mini cupcakes, cheesecakes,tasty melon bruschetta,and an adorable store that looked straight from the set of FRIENDS,
who could resist?

We got there early as we always do and were glad once again for the chance to peruse the scene sans crowds. Unfortunately we didn't get to snag a gift bag as we had received an email earlier saying they were being reserved for the women in the book and their friends.

We shopped and chatted thru the mostly upholstered items store, with some very fun, exclusive items thrown in, called Spruce. One of the shop owners came over to introduce herself, and was very friendly. As I looked at their website to try and see if I could find her name, I discovered they do small upholstery classes as well for items such as an arm chair. I would absolutely love to learn how to upholster my own furniture and make something not usable into a coveted treasure!! She mentioned how much they love animals, and as I looked around I realized it was true. Yet, the items remained very classy. Wood carved bird ornaments,
outline of a deer print apron, butterfly journals. The colors popped off the blank store canvas and made you want to sit down and chat awhile.When the women in the book started to arrive, we were sent outside to get drink tickets for the "general crowd" entrance and come in the back way.
We went outside for our Tropical infused vodka tropictinis and came back inside to enjoy the delicious gazpacho, melon bruschetta from Brandy at Fine Home Dining, cupcakes from Paloma of coco paloma, and other desserts by Paloma such as the cheesecake bites.
and do a little more girl talk - exactly what the CRAVE blurb read - connecting, having fun, indulging, learning more, and empowering yourself! My talk with Dani turned into quite a deep conversation regarding the separate lives we sometimes create for ourselves, or are created for us through our work, school, and family roles. We talked about different ways we end up having to mesh those lives and bring a piece of each of those lives with us, yet still remain true to who we are.

As things started to wind down for our personal evening, Jennifer from Milk + Honey approached us and asked if we would like a chair massage. She had asked a few other ladies, and nobody seemed interested with their fancy outfits and done up hair,
so when she asked me I said, "Sure, why not?" My hair had just gone up as the more bodies that came in the hotter it got in there. I didn't have money for tip and told her so. Normally, I bring that with me everywhere, but it had completely escaped my mind earlier. I'd never had a chair massage before, and figured I might as well taken advantage of the stress relief if she didn't mind the lack of tip money, which she didn't. Excuse the goofy smile of, "Take the picture now so I can stop observing how awkward this position is in a room full of people."
Thank God I did, because I nearly fell asleep in the short 10-15 minutes of getting the massage. Normally, relaxing in a crowd especially while getting a chair massage is not my forte! But Jennifer made me feel right as if I was the only person in the room, and dozing off I went. Dani's turn was next while I struck up a conversation with Lizzie, also of Milk + Honey, and Brando passed the time taking artsy pictures with my camera.

I talked to Lizzie a little bit about blogging, and she was so curious and wanted to know all about how Dani, Mai, and I blog and what we blog about. I'm excited that she may start her own blog and will definitely be posting the link when she does. She was so cute and friendly, and even gave the three of us cards for free haircuts to Milk + Honey. I've heard about Milk + Honey before, good things but that they're a little pricey. After meeting Lizzie and Jennifer, though,and seeing how friendly they are I won't hesitate to make them my first choice for a spa day. I am definitely excited to try out the hair stylist Lizzie recommended. She recommended one for each of us, hence the possible blog title for her blog: Hair Yente. My hair stylist has lost her art since I first started going to her four years ago, so I am definitely excited to see if I've found a new stylist!

I didn't actually pick up the CRAVE book, because, well, $20 for a book that I still have to spend more to actually shop the stores seems a little much in this economy right now, but a little girl time, a little introsight, vodka, and cupcakes made my perfect evening. I'll definitely be thumbing through the book as I see it around town and checking out the stores that catch my eye!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Orange County Weekend

For the last two years I've gone to visit my cousin in Orange County in August for a weekend and I just got back last weekend from my third annual trip! Oh my gosh, we had so much fun! She is so similar to me in the way she PACKS her itinerary and goes and goes and goes until we fall asleep. And then we go some more. This year, as soon as I flew in, we hit up Wilma's Cafe for breakfast.
I took the chance to order Belgian Waffles with fresh strawberries and whip cream
while I could since I haven't found any good ones in Austin yet. She ordered french toastand hot chocolate with whip cream which sounded amazing so I ordered my coffee with whip cream : ) .

Immediately after breakfast we hit up Balboa Island for my favorite kind of shopping. The boutiques that have the cutest clothes at rock bottom prices. Everything is $10, everything is $15, everything is half off - you want it, California has it.

My all time favorite thing to do in the OC is rent beach cruisers. Although my cousin owns several, it's easier to just rent them at the beach and enjoy the coastal rideinstead of taking the extra five or ten minutes to ride down there from her house. We've taken different routes every time. This year we rented them from Newport Pier and biked to Huntington Pier. On the way we indulged our annual ritual of attending an open house. The homes are SO gorgeous there,
and have SO much character,and the views are breath-taking!!
I love pretending just for a moment that we could live there.We parked our cruisers with the hundreds of other bikes parked there (SO fun to live in such a biking town!), and walked Huntington Pier. Afterwards we grabbed Jamba Juice to cool off and headed back along the beach to Newport.

After our ride we had to do a little more shopping, then met up with my other cousins for dinner at the Rusty Pelican. Gorgeous views,and delicious food. My first time trying scallops!! I didn't eat seafood until I was 26 and decided I was old enough to like it. I save most of my first adventures for California because it's so fresh, but I always make sure others taste it first and tell me it's the best they've ever had if it indeed is so I can acquire a proper taste for it.

Another of our traditions (and because we have so many traditions we decided to break it up next year and do San Diego and Hollywood - whoo hoo!! SD and the city of Stars here we come, we will SO do it up right!), is watching a movie or two together with a box of red vines. Each. This time we watched The Ugly Truth (so cute! and wayyyyyy better than He's Just Not That Into You) and promised to think of each other when we watched Julie & Julia when it came out later this month.

So. That was Friday.

Saturday we woke up and hopped on her adorable leather seated Vespa, Ollie. The camera caught the laugh as a lady walked by when we were taking a self-timer picture and said, "I hope you're taking a picture, because otherwise you're just weird."We headed down to Balboa Island for only the BEST cinnamon rolls in the world at Cinnamon Roll Fair. We found a dock to sit on and swung our feet in the water
while we enjoyed our sticky, delicious, original with icing cinnamon rolls, coffee, and zen inspiring view.
We could've sat there all day. But, of course, we didn't.

We rode Ollie over to the kayaking rental place in Newport and rented a kayak to paddle around Lido Island. I don't have a waterproof camera yet, so my picture of Lido Island during takeoff will do.So much fun!! Once we got the hang of paddling down, we raced the little engine boats with canopies people like to rent around there and almost beat them! Loved watching the seals take over the boats (poor boat owners), the houses along the coastline, and the boats parked in the harbor. So relaxing and enjoyable, but boy were we tired.

But we didn't stop. Not even time for a nap this time around! That's usually one of our traditions, too. This time we hit up BJ's for lunch and did some more shopping in Newport. Then, we headed up to Pelican Point resort
and enjoyed their AHmazing gelatto, gigantic doors,and chilling by the pool with live music,
and the gorgeous ocean views.

On to Laguna for dinner at C'est La Vie on Laguna Beach,
and of course a picture at Laguna Beach. This one is just of it.Then, finally, back home to get ready and go out for salsa dancing at Tapas! Oh my gosh, that was so much fun! And, after going to the salsa dancing class last night here at Oasis, I realized how great the class was. Hopefully I will find a similar one here! The women and men stood apart from each other, then paired up and stood around the instructor in a circle. There were maybe 10 of us couples. The instructor taught us a step or a turn, then the male partners would rotate to the left. It was perfect, because not only did I learn from the instructor, I learned new hints and things to make it easier from each partner, new to the art or not. We stayed after the class and danced for hours. Then realized once we were leaving and the best dancer there made a point of saying hi to me next time we would ask the better dancers to dance because they were always too requested to ask anyone! We got home and stayed up til' 2am yakking away like the lost sisters we are.

Sunday we scootered down to Huntington Beach on her other adorable Vespa, the much lighter one they don't take on highways, The Fly,
for shrimp tacos and chicken quesadillas
at Savannahs taco baron the beach
while we enjoyed live music
at Huntington Pier. So relaxing. Another place I could stay forever.

We shopped at my favorite store there, Huntington Surf and Sport also known as HSS,then hit up a random street fair next to the entrance of the Pier. That was the first time I'd seen it there and they had the BEST handmade items. The boys got two handcarved turtles from Jarred. The shells come off the back to reveal a secret place to stash the shells I dove for later and picked up for them. I found handpainted t-shirts for Brando from a tattoo artist, whose sister is the number two surfer in the world. Wish I could remember the name of the artist!

I was dying to get in the warm 72 degree water of Southern California, so after food, music, and shopping, we hit the beach for an hour, and walked underneath the pierat Huntington Beach,
which provided the perfect shady walk to get to to our spot. Once we got situated waited I dove into the water and spent every
in the waterand LOVED it. The waves were washing shells up on to the beach and pulling them back out with the current, so I spent half my time diving into the tide like a little kidand coming up with handfuls of shells. My reward was getting home and having the boys have a blast splitting them up between them and hearing Shawners say, "Oooooh, this one's a beauty!"

We stopped by for strawberry milkshakes and fries at In N Out,then I hit the airport with my bathing suit still on and sand in between my toes. Fortunately my flight was delayed and I hit up the restroom to change before I boarded the plane and was completely satisfied that once again, I had an amazing weekend in the OC with my cousin.

If you need a weekend getaway, this is definitely the place to do it. I can let you know all the things we've done the previous weekends as well! Or you can just read about it here, and here. Apparently I thought Costa Mesa was in San Diego two years ago, and guess I was too exhausted from all the craziness in my life in 2008 to blog about my trip much because I just found a short blurb for that one about sand between my toes and the warm ocean water!! Just enjoyed it!!

On a bloggy note, I am SO happy to have my internet back(ish). Okay I'm borrowing it from the neighbors until ATFT gets their act together and gets ours set up. I have so many events to catch up on from this week! I've been having a blast and can't wait to share it all!


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