Now that we’re in Houston until at least June the quantity of adventuring that we’ll be doing is going to decrease a bit. The traveling plan has shifted but that’s just fine because Houston is great so far and we’re really enjoying it. We’ll continue to bring you stories about the cool things we do here and the adventures that we do go on but we realize there’s only so much we can talk about Houston before the people who don’t live here get bored. So, in the interest of continuing to provide value to everyone who reads this blog we’re going to broaden the focus a bit. We’ve got some cool ideas coming down the pipe and intend to do more writing about things that we think are awesome and want to share. To kick off that theme, I want to highlight a few things that we think are sweet. Check them out, you might dig them too.
Ira Glass: great radio journalist and storyteller
Ira Glass Live – Ira Glass is the host and producer of the NPR show ‘This American Life’ and he gave a live performance last week in downtown Houston at Jones Hall, the Houston equivalent to the Kennedy Center. ‘This American Life’ is an amazing radio show that is poignant and well-presented. In his live show Ira Glass spoke at length about how the show is structured, the process of making the show, and many stories from his 20+ years in public radio. He was humorous, educational, and inspiring; if he comes to a city near you I can’t recommend it enough. Also, if you’ve never listened to ‘This American Life’ then check it out online or at iTunes.
- Blitzen Trapper – We caught Blitzen Trapper live at the Houston House of Blues earlier this week. The band is an interesting blend that I would classify as indie folk-rock. Their live show was great and they brought the house down. They didn’t just go through the motions of reproducing the music they’ve put out on their records and their skill as musicians really showed through. Check out their music and tour at the Blitzen Trapper website. I don’t have the same glowing words for the Houston House of Blues which featured a pathetically small crowd and frigid temperatures that had me regretting the decision to wear shorts. We are thinking that all future music shows will have to be seen in Austin.
Laura tackles mussels in a recent post
in widening circles – Amanda’s close friend from Marquette, Laura, recently started this food-focused blog. She also covers a variety of other cool things and on any given day you may find a new homemade recipe or a song recommendation. Her writing style does a great job of conveying her effervescent personality. If you like to cook or just enjoy reading about food then check it out.
- Cerveza Clara – Clare is also a friend of Amanda’s from her Marquette days. A writer by trade, her blog is well-written, features great pictures and covers a variety of topics including her recent 17-day road trip across the U.S. Her post about New Orleans features some of the most excellent writing that I’ve seen in a long time.
- Bald, Fat, and Crazy – This is the first-person tale of a woman who found out, in the span of three days, that she had breast cancer and was pregnant. Three years later she is blogging her inspirational story of perseverance and recovery. If you’re facing something in your life that you feel is impossible to accomplish then read this blog and realize that anything is possible.
- Read It Later – This application isn’t new but it’s still excellent. If you’re anything like me then you’ve got about fifteen different tabs open at any time in your browser with articles to read or videos to watch at some point. Most of them sit there for weeks before being read or sometimes closed with the realization that my interest has departed. Enter Read It Later, an application that allows you to quickly save pages from your computer or smart phone into a list that can then be read at any time without requiring an internet connection. There are also mobile versions of the application for the iPhone/iPad and just about every other smart phone out there that allow you to clip pages and read your list from anywhere. If your computer time is limited and you’ve got information overload then give it a spin.
- Plants vs. Zombies (iPhone/iPad) - I’m a huge gamer so I’d be remiss if I didn’t toss out my all-time favorite game application for the iPhone. Again, this isn’t new but it’s amazing so if you’ve never played it and you have an iPhone jump on it. Be warned: you will have immense quantities of fun and will not want to stop. This is the greatest way to kill a subway/bus/plane ride or any other short wait.
Read Full Post »
I was talking to my Aunt Ellen a couple of nights ago on the phone, and towards the end of our conversation she kindly asked me, “Do you and Matt have any friends in Houston?” My reply was a confident, “Oh yes!” After we hung up, I couldn’t quite figure out what would make her ask such a question and then I realized that all we’ve been posting about is how we make moonshine in our apartment (alone) and are aggressive book nerds (alone).
Ellen, fear not! We have friends!
Both of those glasses aren't mine. One is Matt's, I swear.
At the end of September, with the help of our trusty Groupons, me, Matt, and our Houston friends, Rachel and Billy, hauled it to the First Annual Houston Wine Festival. Although it was rumored to be fall in some parts of the country, it was still very much summer in Houston with the temperature hovering at a comfortable 95 degrees with a hint of back sweat. As we walked into the festival, we spied someone with either a) alcohol poisoning b) heat stroke or c) a dynamic duo of both, sprawled out on a stretcher. I vote (c). Wine festivals seem to really bring out the best in people.
The wine fest took place in Sam Houston Park, which is a really pretty and serene place at the edge of downtown equipped with fountains and duck ponds. In addition to wine, there was live music and a variety of jewelry/art tents and food tents (read: Panda Express), which Matt kept me out of for fear of losing me to orange chicken. To my dismay, I also spied a Budweiser tent. I was sure to give anyone caught drinking a Bud Lime an aggressive thumbs down for their poor performance at the WINE festival.
With our combined 20 drink tickets, we were able to sample some delicious wines from around Texas. Matt’s favorite was a Syrah from Calais Winery. Mine was a Prosecco-like sparkling wine, cleverly named “Sparkles.” We also tried a variety of Mead that made me really want a turkey leg and to challenge someone to joust.
We had a great time at our (and Houston’s) first ever wine festival and are proud to say that we left on our own two feet without the assistance of the emergency stretcher. Win!
Read Full Post »
I just finished reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (ELIC) by Jonathan Safran Foer and it was one of the best books that I’ve read recently. That being said it is by no means perfect. The book is stylistically odd and the presentation may come across as gimmicky to some. To read ELIC you have to be willing to let go of conventions and simply go along for the ride. The story is told across generations and constructed like knitting a scarf. Separate strands that seem unrelated are revealed and gradually interwoven until the story becomes clear.
Read it. Think about it. In that order.
While many criticisms can be made of this book –and they would all be fair– it has an undeniable sense for the importance of life and love. The book is constructed around the events of 9/11, something that happened, historically speaking, very recently. This may sound heartless but I’ve always held a weird detachment to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I can remember where I was when they happened and how the rest of my day and week unfolded in their aftermath. I’ve always understood how terrible that day was but for some reason I was never hit with a monumental wall of sorrow. Maybe it was because the event was so surreal. Unbelievable video footage was played and then replayed for days on end. Talking heads conjectured, the President gave speeches, and then we went to war. In all of that the real tragedy seemed lost to me: the fact that nearly 3,000 husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends were taken. Maybe I just wasn’t paying close enough attention. This book made the enormity of that day finally hit home. Bearing witness to a child in his search for something to connect with the father he lost that day was so tragically human. For me, this book finally put faces to a tragedy that had previously been represented by objects-planes, buildings, smoke, rubble. (more…)
Read Full Post »
High Class Target-brand Espresso Grounds
There is a McCormick & Schmicks shi-shi steakhouse down the road from our apartment. They have bangin’ happy hour specials; however, the most delicious drink I’ve ever had- their espresso martini- is naturally, not one of those “bangin’ specials.”
My mom and I used to joke that when shopping, we had the uncanny ability to fall in love with the most expensive thing in the store or the only sweater in the store not on sale. Turns out I have this talent with food and drinks, too.
At $13.00 a pop, these delicious drinks quickly add up, tossing them in the non-economical range. After infusing our own chipotle vodka, Matt and I decided that attempting to make espresso-infused vodka was the only logical next step!
It’s pretty painless to infuse vodka with espresso. The only materials you need are:
- Coffee press
- Medium shelf vodka (we like to stick with the Tres Olives, for good measure).
- Espresso grounds (I’m sure you can find classier grounds than Target Brand…)
- Coffee Filter
Pouring espresso infused vodka back into bottle via funnel & coffee filter
- Fill coffee press with 4 scoops/tablespoons espresso per 750 ml vodka
- Pour vodka in coffee press and cover. (Do not plunge the coffee at this point).
- Wait 10 minutes (no more, no less to prevent the vodka from becoming too bitter)
- Slowly push/plunge the grounds to the bottom of the coffee press
- Pour the vodka back into vodka bottle via funnel with coffee filter inserted to catch any loose grounds and…
…TA DA! You have delicious espresso infused vodka!
We like to shake up two shots of the infused vodka and one shot of Godiva Chocolate Liqueur for our DIY, <$13.00 martinis. You could even add some milk for extra deliciousness!
Give it a shot and let us know what you think!
Read Full Post »