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Bats…they’re creepy…but in Austin…they’re cooL!

16 May

View of bats emerging from below Congress Bridge. Approx 8:15 at night

 

A great day trip to Austin can take your family just about anywhere due to the fact that there is SOOOO much to do!!!  Recently, my husband went TDY and I found myself with a completely open Saturday. Instead of washing the car, mopping the floors or starting a new decorating project…I loaded us up and made a late-day trip to Austin. We started by checking out a local toy store I ran across on the internet called Toy Joy. It’s 100 % safe to take your kids there (no naughty/funny business) They have a ton of “old school” things that took me back to my younger years. In the end, I walked out with a “Pet Tornado”, a harmonica, a bow and arrow, a “thirsty bird”, a battery-operated monkey who smashes cymbals together, and a bunch of  “funny eye glasses”. It was a blast!!!  By no means…not cheap…but worth every penny when I realized we had killed over an hour in a toy shop and I wasn’t about to strangle anyone.

From there, we drove over and had dinner at Shady Grove Restaurant near Zilker Park. The wait was a bit long, but the kids had fun running around in a little shaded, grassy area while I sipped on a WONDERFUL frozen margarita. Dinner was very good, just wish the wait hadn’t been so long (over an hour)
After dinner, we found some public parking close to the Congress Avenue Bridge and followed many other stragglers who were apparently in the mood to see some bats. We settled into a spot under the bridge on a grassy little slope and we timed it JUST RIGHT. Within three minutes of sitting down, the infamous Congress Avenue Bridge bats emerged. The kids LOVED IT and I must say I was pretty impressed. There are soooo many of them and the whole city seems to get behind these creepy little animals as they emerge for their nightly feeding time.  A simple little occurrence that happens everyday in nature and there’s no doubt my kids will remember it for years to come.  Oh yeah…and it’s free!!! .Make sure to check it off your Texas Bucket List too!

Sneak peak at our Christmas

8 Jan

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A post-Christmas follow up. Here are a few pictures of our happy two weeks at home. We spent a lot time sleeping in, cooking, playing and enjoying life in general. One highlight was a trip from my mom and a day spent cooking our traditional Neiman Marcus cookies.
Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe

This is our last holiday season in Texas before the move and I will miss our big house and dressing it up for the holidays.

If you decide to stay put for the holidays while stationed at Ft. Hood, a must-do is to check out BLORA’s (Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area) drive-thru light display. The line can be a little long but turn up the Christmas music and enjoy a fun night viewing the lights in Central Texas!

My Favorite After School Activity

17 Dec

Wine TimeYesterday, a dear friend drove up from Austin to see me. Shawna Adams Kleban. Shawna recently became a new mother to beautiful Ayden Blue. I’ve met Ayden a few times, usually over a cup of coffee at Starbucks or a quick lunch at the Round Rock Outlet Mall where Shawna and I occassionaly try to squeeze a little time in to see each other. This time, I had them all to myself. I got to relish in the baby sounds and smells (the good and the bad) for a whole day and night . After vegging out all afternoon watching Ayden do all the cute baby things that put a smile on a girl’s face,  we walked down to the kids’ school on an unusally warm Texas winter day to pick them up. Instead of coming home, shoving snacks down their throats and  rushing Ella off to tap class like we usually do on Wednesday afternoons, we spread out an old blanket, invited some neighbors over, opened some wine and let the kids and dogs take over our neighborhood. Heaven help those who tried to drive thru the bikes, scooters, and packs of dogs on my street. This is honestly one of my favorite things to do in life. Nothing is better than seeing your children, running around, enjoying just being a kid –getting dirty, creative and plum worn out after a day of sitting in a classroom. Or watching your dogs frolic and wrestle around with other canines til they’re so tired they all resort to laying down in the grass and taking naps. Or catching up on friends’ holiday plans, in-law stories and favorite Christmas cookie recipes. Thanks Shawna for making the trip to see me. Our times like this are very limited since we’ll be leaving Texas soon. I cherish you and our friendship.

1st Annual Tamalada

17 Dec

It's gettin' hot in here...

I decided that this year would be the year I attempted tamales. I’ve always been fond of the masa wrapped, lard filled, Mexican tradition. My mother-in-law has a very high opinion of them, but not on how pricey they’ve become over the years. A dozen will run you at least $15. So, to feel more like a Garcia and check it off my list…I decided to host a tamalada (tamale making party) the second week of December.

We (Catie and I) did most of it from scratch. The pork we  made the day before, but the masa we pre-ordered from a Mexican store in town. We made a homemade chili paste which we seasoned the meat and masa with and began rolling. The actual rolling of the tamales wasn’t the hard part, it was the cooking process. Steaming more than 10 dozen tamales took most of the day. By the time I had  taken the last batch off I was exhausted and my kitchen was a wreck. But after bundling them up, half dozen in each bundle, and putting them in my freezer, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I sent all my friends… who stopped by to cheer me on that day..home with at least a dozen tamales (of course they had to bring me a bottle of wine in return)