Listening, Reading, Watching
Nov 08, 2014

Not surprisingly, it was 2013’s NaBloPoMo that I last blogged a Listening, Reading, Watching post.

Are we sure November isn’t over already? I kid, sort of. I do have a list of blog topics. They just aren’t terribly food related. Maybe I should change my blog name from Sugarfoot Eats to Sugarfoot Writes Aimlessly about Pop Culture. Doesn’t have right the same ring to it though.

1. Listening to recently…

Andrew Belle

True albeit embarrassing story, I stumbled upon Andrew Belle when one of his songs was played during an episode of Pretty Little Liars. Is it weird for a 35 year old to watch PLL? If so, I stopped watching last year when I was 34…so there.

I have Belle’s Blackbear & The Ladder albums and really like them both. If you like Matt Nathanson, Mat Kearney, Matt Wertz (you know the Matt’s)…then odds are you’ll like Belle.

2. Reading currently…

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Oh wait, this book is food related….score. I haven’t decided on Medium Raw yet. I have a love/hate relationship with Anthony Bourdain. While I do love his sharp tongue, quick wit, and knowledge…he’s also kind of an asshole.

3. Watching on Netflix…

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Season 4 of Portlandia was recently released on Netflix. Hooray!!

What are you listening to, reading, and/or watching??

Serial: A Podcast Recommendation
Nov 07, 2014

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Who’s listening to Serial? Over 850,000 people, that’s who! If you haven’t heard of Serial, get out from under the rock that you’re living…download the podcasts…listen…join the obsession. Because I need people to talk to about it!

I knew that I was going to listen to Serial as soon as Ira told me to. As a lover of podcasts, I can be a fairweather fan. Some podcasts I leave piling up on my phone until I get around to listening. And some I’m listening to the morning that they are recently. This is how I know I love a podcast. It will motivate me to get up early and excited versus fighting the snooze button if a beloved podcast has a new episode that morning. Serial is such a podcast.

So what is it about?

Serial is a podcast where they unfold pieces of a true story every week. I read it described on Twitter as This American Life meets True Detective.

From the Serial website: “On January 13, 1999, a girl named Hae Min Lee, a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, disappeared. A month later, her body turned up in a city park. She’d been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan’s friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death. Some people believe he’s telling the truth. Many others don’t.

Sarah Koenig, who hosts Serial, first learned about this case more than a year ago. In the months since, she’s been sorting through box after box (after box) of legal documents and investigators’ notes, listening to trial testimony and police interrogations, and talking to everyone she can find who remembers what happened between Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee fifteen years ago. What she realized is that the trial covered up a far more complicated story, which neither the jury nor the public got to hear. The high school scene, the shifting statements to police, the prejudices, the sketchy alibis, the scant forensic evidence – all of it leads back to the most basic questions: How can you know a person’s character? How can you tell what they’re capable of? In Season One of Serial, she looks for answers.”

I am hooked. I was almost hesitant to blog about this podcast as I was sure that my desire to Google the case to find the outcome would get the best of me, which it did. But there’s the interesting fresh twist on this podcast/story/investigation. They only produce each episode a week ahead of time. So we they are still investigating the case themselves. We are in it together. And I have to say–I don’t know if Adnan killed Hae. After one episode, I was pretty sure–yes, he did it. And after the next, I was thinking no way, he didn’t do it.

It does seem very plausible that this story will end with no real answer. Simply presenting as much information/facts as they can and we’ll just have to form opinions versus everything wrapped up in a nice bow. I’m along for the ride regardless.

Are you listening?? Did he kill her?? Does anyone else think Sarah has a slight weird prison crush on Adnan??

Gratitude Journal
Nov 06, 2014

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A couple of months ago…particularly August…it was rough for me. I was in a funk. I was feeling emotionally and mentally drained. I was feeling dismissed by some friends with no clue as to why. I was weepy and sad.

I needed a way to pull myself out. Enter the gratitude journal. It’s not a new concept, but was new to me. You can make it your own. Since early September, I’ve been journaling (almost daily). I’m keeping it every simple as I didn’t want this gratitude journal to feel like a chore.

I simply title each day with:
Today, I’m happy/grateful for

–then I list 3 things. It can vary between being happy that I made it to the gym, happy that I saw a beautiful sunset, happy for my dog…easy breezy.

Some days are deeper and I’m happy that I felt self-acceptance that day or happy that I didn’t binge eat again.

I’ve felt like a sense of calm since starting the journal. Taking 5 minutes a day to reflect has helped me find peace and not get so caught up in negativity.

As we are in November…the season of Thanksgiving, consider giving a gratitude journal a try.

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***Note: I am in no way saying that a gratitude journal will bring one out of a serious depression that may require the assistance of a medical professional.

Wordless Wednesday
Nov 05, 2014

Dan dan noodles from Sichuan River

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Election Day
Nov 04, 2014

Today is the day! If you early voted, A+ for you. If not, get to your polling station and make a difference.

Vote Badges

Book Review: Food: A Love Story
Nov 03, 2014

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Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

After having been out of town the last couple of times that Jim Gaffigan has been in Austin performing, I was finally able to see him live in October. And with your ticket of a premium seat, you received a copy of his book. Sold!

Gaffigan is one of my favorite comedians. He’s wholesome and very relatable. Not that I relate to his having FIVE kids, but I relate to his food humor. I have read Gaffigan’s first book, Dad is Fat, which I enjoyed, but Food: A Love Story is SO HILARIOUS!

Each “chapter” is only a few pages long, so I soared those this book. If you are a food lover with a humble background (ie not a food snob) and you have a sense of humor, you’ll really enjoy this book.

I’ve already discovered & discussed with friends that I learned from this book at I’m not a “foodie”…I’m an “eater”. Read the book to find out more!!

For now, I’ll just leave you with some of Gaffigan’s gems that kept me laughing:

–Of course cops love doughnuts, because they know the difference between right and wrong. And not liking donuts is wrong. Have you ever met someone who doesn’t like doughnuts? Of course not, because those people are in jail.
–There are some people who don’t like ketchup. I think they are called losers.
–Crackers are the junk food of adults. There are so many different types of crackers for adults to eat while they congratulate themselves for not eating potato chips.
–Hotdogs are like strippers, really. Nobody wants to know the backstory.
–When I have to eat unsalted fries, I often feel like I should be a contestant on Survivor or something. I took forward to telling Survivor executive producer Mark Burnett: “Once I had fries without salt on them, so I could probably live anywhere.”

4.75 out of 5 stars

Weekend Ramblings
Nov 02, 2014

1. Friday was my 1st Halloween as a homeowner. I was super excited to hand out candy. No crazy costume parties for me. Just some beer & candy and seeing all the happy kiddos.

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Thank goodness that I gave away all of my candy on Halloween because I felt like this by the end of the night.

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2. The weather was great today. I enjoyed an afternoon walk at Mueller Lake Park….as did 50 billion other Austinites.

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3. Do you already have an external battery for your cell phone? I just got one and best idea ever. Why didn’t I get one of these before? Never again will I be caught with a dead phone at ACL or SXSW again.

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4. This new-to-me beer from Karbach (Houston based brewery) thanks to Jessica. Recommended!!

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5. I’m going to (hopefully) be blogging every day in November like I did last year. They may be some mini-posts (like yesterday’s “gem”). I hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Fall Back
Nov 01, 2014

Don’t forget to set your clocks back tonight. Enjoy your extra hour of sleep!

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Books Read in 2014…so far…(a confession)
Jun 29, 2014

This is not a post where I humblebrag about how many books I’ve read this year so far. This is a post to call myself out. I’ve only read 5 books and it’s already mid-year.

I only have excuses. I moved. Work has been busy. I read a lot of magazines & blogs & read at work. And man, TV was really good…True Detective, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Orange is the New Black, etc.

But really, I just fell into a rut. I started seeing my iPad more for the Netflix escape versus the Kindle escape. I remember when I was living in my apartment; I had dreams of being outside reading where I didn’t have to worry about neighbors walking 2 feet in front of my patio.

Well it’s time to turn that dream to reality. I have been enjoying reading outside in my backyard recently. Summer reading…outside in the sun, cold beverage beside you, the birds chirping, your skin burning–wear sunscreen!

Let’s make a pact to read more this summer!!

Books I’ve Read So Far in 2014

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This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper

I purchased this book several years ago when I was still living in Wichita. When I read in Entertainment Weekly (see–I do still READ), that they were making a movie with Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and more…I was motivated to read the book. If you like books with an ensemble cast of characters about family with humor, I think you’ll enjoy this book. And PS it was helpful to keep all the characters straight in my head knowing which actors were playing them in the upcoming movie.

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Tender at the Bone, by Ruth Reichl

Until reading this book, I knew little of Reichl other than I think she’s guest judged once on Top Chef. Tender at the Bone is Reichl’s memoir of growing up and her adventures with food. Her very eccentric mother would plan lavish dinner parties with food that would make even people with iron stomaches ill. Reichl had to save face for her family and save the guests. She later parlayed that into being a food critic & editor of Gourmet. I really enjoyed this book!

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One More Thing, by BJ Novak

Confession time! I bought the book, One More Thing, purely out of hope of seeing Mindy Kaling. BJ Novak was in Austin during SWSX for a book signing at Book People. And I knew Mindy was in town for SXSW and they are besties. I thought maybe, just maybe, she’d come support him at his book signing.

(Geez, you see why I need to read more….)

I’m not normally a fan of a book of short stories. But humorous stories, I’m game.

Some of my favorite stories in the book:
Missed Connection: Grocery spill at 21st and 6th 2:30 pm on Wednesday
Chris Hansen at the Justin Beiber Concert
Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Missing Bicycle
There is a Fine Line Between Why and Why Not
One of These Days, We Have to do Something About Willie

If you like audiobooks, I highly recommend the audio version of the book! Listening to Ryan the Temp, er I mean Novak read the stories brought a smile to my face.

Where We Belong (7/24/12)by Emily Giffin

Where We Belong, by Emily Giffin

Giffin’s Where We Belong is the story of a girl searching for her birth parents. It alternates chapters from the girl to the birth mother’s point of view. I don’t have a lot to say about this book. It was good, not great, but an easy summer read.

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Ali in Wonderland, by Ali Wentworth

Another confession! I just read this book yesterday. I knew that I was going to be writing this blog. It was just too depressing to say I’d only read 4 books. Five sounded so much better.

If I’m in a rut, funny memoirs to the rescue!! It was not nearly as good at Reichl’s book, but it served a purpose as a fast read that made me smile.

One gem from Wentworth: “The Queen or Kate Middleton should knight whoever invented the epidural. (And also the person who invented Skinny Cow ice-cream sandwiches.)”

And now I’m off to watch TV….oops, I mean read more!!

Brunch Spotlight: Freedmen’s
Jun 24, 2014

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When thinking of a new brunch spot to try, I don’t automatically think of BBQ. But I will now! I hadn’t been to Freedmen’s since an AFBA event over a year ago. It is a little harder to navigate due to yet another apartment/condo building going up in Austin. Once I was inside the patio area, all was well.

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Freedmen's Austin patio

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Freedmen’s serves brunch on Sundays. They do take reservations, which you may want to do if you’d like to sit inside. They have ample outdoor sitting which was my preference. However, if it had been much hotter or if you wanted a longer leisurely brunch, the summer sun + your “meat sweats” wouldn’t be the best combo.

Drink Me Freedmen's Austin

For my brunch beverage, I tried the Drink Me. It’s a combo of tequila, lime juice, Campari, ginger beer, and basil. I’m a sucker for a cocktail with ginger beer. Although I had no problem finishing the drink, I would suggest just sticking with a Moscow Mule for your ginger beer fix. Or ever better, opt for a Bloody Mary which for brunch at Freedmen’s is $3 cheaper than the Drink Me.

Freemen’s has a limited brunch menu. You can order from the regular menu though if you’d not in an egg-y mood. Brunch, eggs, and me are BFF’s though. And man, oh man, I’m glad we invited brisket to our friend circle.

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The Barbecue Benedict was delicious. The foundation was a hearty biscuit, not fluffy, so it could hold up to the meat. On top of the biscuit, you have your choice of meat. I went the brisket route. Over the meat, there are two poached eggs with a creamy smoked tomato hollandaise sauce. I would go back and order this again immediately!

My only caution is that it was quite peppery! I do love a lot of pepper, so I didn’t mind but those who aren’t into a lot of spice—what’s wrong with you?–I mean, you may want to ask them to go easy on the pepper for you wimps. I tease, I tease!! Now, go dig in!!

Freedmen's Austin barbecue benedict brisket

For other brunch spots in Austin, check out this post.