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Weekend Ramblings
Feb 02, 2014

Argh, where did January go? I only posted once in January. And that didn’t really even count since it was just one Wordless Wednesday post. Remember when I rocked it in November? I need to get that mojo back.

I will catch you up on recent happenings though.

Austin Beerworks

I went to an event at the Austin Beerworks brewery. It was to celebrate the soon-to-be opening (and it’s now open) Whole Foods at the Domain. I had 2 of the Peacemaker beers & could have downed more but I was responsible. It’s their extra pale ale and that’s exactly what I was in the mood for.

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I also recently had a birthday. I celebrated on my actual birthday with my family and had a big ass beer. Gawd, that reminds me that I should update my About page to show that I’m 35 now. Waaaah!!!! Although, I think I have the writing style of a 23 year old…which I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Let’s just say good.

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After my beer & wing consumption, we played poker on my birthday. I didn’t win. Even after my aunt & uncle gave me some chips after I went out the first AND second time, I still went out first. I guess I don’t know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. That’s a reference to a Kenny Rogers song for all you young punks out there.

The next night, I went out to Javelina on Rainey Street to spend my birthday with friends. I had a tasty tasty burger & sweet potato fries and a few Moscow Mules. It was a good time!

Yesterday, Jessica & I finally ventured out west for lunch at Pieous. We’d both heard great things about their pizza. We were not disappointed!! Although, I disappointed myself and forgot my phone at home, so no pictures. Check out Jessica’s Instagram to view the deliciousness.

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I’d been so so so good and avoided Target shopping other than essentials. But yesterday, I needed to get dog food for Haley. And I needed socks. So….in walking from one department to the other, the housewares department called my name. Julie!! Buy us buy us!!

I’m in the process of house hunting. It partly seemed very silly to buy new decor for my mystery house. But it also made me feel excited. And it was on clearance. Purchases are justified if you slap a clearance sticker on the item.

New Orleans vacation recap
Nov 14, 2013

About a month ago, I met up with my friend, Laura, for a vacation in New Orleans. I’d been meaning to go for years and finally followed through. Years ago, while still living in Charlotte, I won free airfare to New Orleans at a charity event. But due to a flight problem, we were bumped from our flight and had to get vouchers. We decided to trade in our vouchers to go to Las Vegas instead. No regrets on that! I knew that I’d get to New Orleans eventually.

Cut to 5 years later….

New Orleans!

One thing I learned, everyone and their neighbor has a recommendation on where you should eat, drink, go in New Orleans. I can’t do it all people! There’s only so many meals to eat during a few days. So, if blah blah blah is better than where we picked, oh well I still had a blast & it was delicious!

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Oysters & turtle soup at Felix’s.

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Taking a walking break to listen to jazz at the Maison Bourbon.

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The St. Louis cathedral…so lovely. It was great walking around there at night too with all the fortune tellers out. I got my palm read for the first time.

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Beignets & cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde. I was sweating my ass off, but still had to get cafe au lait too. It was the experience of it!!

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Drinks & dinner at NOLA. My meal was great! I had the cauliflower soup & the garlic crusted drum.

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Besides eating some great food, I was most excited to go to the cemeteries. The history of them…so many unknown stories…the pain of them but also the beauty…the peacefulness. I felt calm there.

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Brunch at Commander’s Palace…I had the best Bloody Mary there! When the episode aired the other week on Top Chef New Orleans and they were cooking there, I squealed a bit…I was there, I was there!

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Smoked Pork Eggs Benedict

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Listened to music at Pat O’Brien’s piano bar & drank hurricanes.

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We took a bus tour around the city, which was nice. We also took a steamboat cruise along the river, which was pretty darn boring. Not recommended. It did give me a chance to rest up for more drinking though.

Hand grenades. Love love love, I wish I’d started drinking them the first night.

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At dinner, I drank wine though. I’m classy at dinner.

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Not a good picture, but this coconut cake at Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse was the best!!! So tasty. And how confusing is it with all the Brennan stuff! We made the mistake of going into Brennan’s Bourbon House first and they had to redirect us. And don’t mistake Dickie Brennan’s with Brennan’s—because that’s closed now.

And PS they also own previously mentioned Commander’s Palace. (I listened on my bus tour of the city. :) )

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We took a trip over to the Oak Alley Plantation as well. The trees were amazing and would have loved to have just sat under a tree and read a book. The house was underwhelming for me. It’s hard to get excited about exploring an old house when you’ve been to the Biltmore. They don’t compare! At Oak Alley, they did make a good mint julep though!

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It was a fun trip and my stomach feels full just from writing this wrap-up, whew!

In October 2014, I’ll be vacationing with Laura again…but this time in Key West!

Where was your last vacation? Where’s your next vacation destination?? I know where Linda is going!!

Wurstfest 2013
Nov 03, 2013

Wurstfest

It’s that time again!! That wonderful fall time of year when Wurstfest comes to New Braunfels. Meat, beer, friends, meat, beer, music, meat, beer, carnival rides, meat, beer, crafts…did I mention meat & beer?

Last year, I went to Wurstfest during the day. I’m glad that I day timed it for my first time. It’s much easier to navigate around and get your bearings during the day. Because at night, it gets cra-zy. Crazy fun though!!

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This time, I wurstfested it up with Jessica. And we met up with Mary Helen and her friends.

First things first…get beer.

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Second on the agenda, eat some sausage on a stick!!

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Third, buy a fun hat! Everyone has a hat at Wurstfest. I don’t think that I look good in hats, so I opted for the hat attached to a headband. I got several compliments on it, so yay me!! Mary Helen’s friend bought a beer hat with blinking blue lights on it. It came in handy a few times when we got separated from the group. She was easy to spot with her hat!

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Fourth stop, ride the ferris wheel. I did this last year with my aunt too. It’s a fun way to check out the event as whole.

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No beverages allowed on the ferris wheel.

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wurstfest aerial view

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My favorite picture of Jessica while she was taking pictures. She looks gorg!

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Next up, eat more, get more beer, find Mary Helen and friends again.

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Empty pitchers

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Last stop, end inside Wurst Hall for some polka & chicken dancing.

See you next year, Wurstfest!!

Austin City Limits Music Festival recap
Nov 01, 2013

Austin City Limits 2013

Last month, I went to my first ACL festival. My first year in Austin, I felt too new to the city to go. I didn’t even know where Zilker Park was at that point. But this year, I had to go! At the same time, I was terrified!! I love concerts, but crowds of drunken fools….eh, not so much.

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It was that fear of the unknown that got into my head. How far will I have to walk? How hard is it to get from one stage to another? Will I get beer spilled on me? How hot will it be? What if I have a panic attack due to the crowd?

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Finally, I just had to make a deal with myself. Julie–you’re going!! But if you go for an hour or two and you hate it, then leave! I decided to go to ACL by myself so that if I did get overwhelmed and left, I wouldn’t be putting anyone else out.

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Shovels & Rope

And sooooo, I LOVED it. I had a blast. I randomly bumped into Heather on day 1 and we hung out. And I hung out on and off with my friend, Ben on day 2 & 3. But if my friends wanted to see one band and me another, we just parted ways. I felt so proud of myself for getting over my fears and navigating the mayhem quite well.

Jake Bugg ACL

Jake Bugg

Everyone has their own preferred way to get to ACL. Walk, bike, cab, dropoff….I opted for the free shuttle. I parked downtown and walked a few blocks for the free buses that picked up in Republic Park. There was a steady stream of busses, so the wait time was minimal. Then you dropped off fairly close to the ACL entrance.

Crowd shot during Noah & the Whale

I had a sling bag with me containing cash/ID/debit card, 2 water bottles–one full, one empty, sunscreen, my cell phone, sunglasses, face/hand wipes, and aspirin. You can bring blankets/chairs, but I wasn’t lugging that around. It was easy to navigate the stages from the maps we were given.

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I opted to not drink any beer during ACL. 1. I wanted to keep my wits in case it did get super crowded. 2. I didn’t want to have to trek out & wait for the port-a-potties. Ew. Basically, it was so hot on Friday & Saturday that I just sweat out all the water I drank & didn’t have to pee once. Overshare!!!

HAIM at ACL 2013

I actually started to feel like I was going to pass out on the first day after only being at ACL for an hour! The sun was beating straight on me. I hightailed it for a shady area and chugged some water and just sat until I felt okay. I was a bit freaked out by this & thought about leaving, but that’s when I ran into Heather—so she really saved ACL for me!! After that, I was more conscious of my water intake & was a-okay.

Pro tip: (yeah I’m a pro now) During ACL (and SWSX), KGSR & KUTX offer free morning shows. It’s so worth it getting up early to see this show. It’s several bands…only a couple songs each…but I was on the 2nd row at the KGSR show on day 2. I was able to resolve some concert conflicts as these bands were playing at ACL during the same set times as other bands I wanted to see.

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Court Yard Hounds

Court Yard Hounds

Walk the Moon

Walk the Moon

Bands that I saw during ACL 2013: Noah and the Whale**, The Lone Bellow**, Franz Ferdinand, The National**, Haim, Little Green Cars**, Dana Falconberry, Silversun Pickups, Lissie**, Walk the Moon**, Aaron Behrens and the Midnight Stroll, Wilco, Kings of Leon**, Court Yard Hounds, Shovels and Rope, Jake Bugg, fun.**, and Vampire Weekend**

**the ones I liked the best

I’ve already bought my 3 day pass for the first weekend of ACL festival 2014. Hope to see you there!!

Weekend Ramblings
Aug 11, 2013

1.  Who’s excited about Breaking Bad coming back tonight?!?!  Here’s my plan for tonight…Big Brother, Breaking Bad, The Newsroom, wine & pizza.

2.  Last night, I went to the Stateside for a Q&A with Tony Hale aka Buster Bluth from Arrested Development aka Gary Walsh from Veep. It was a benefit for Blood:Water Mission.

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It was a great Q&A! He spoke about AD, of course…favorite scenes, the writing & callbacks that are done so well on the show, the characters he loved like Mrs. Featherbottom & Bob Loblaw, how even he was unaware that he was going to lose his hand on the show until he read that script, etc etc.

He also shared some insight that he’s learned along the way about contentment. He shared several stories that he referred to as kind of his own Oprah a-ha moments.

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Tony telling a story about Liza Minnelli.

3. After the event, my friend, Sylvia & I got some food at the Llama’s trailer. Then we met up with Mary Helen and checked out the Russian House.

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They have a large selection of infused vodkas there, of course. I sipped on some apple cinnamon vodka. It was tasty, but I would have preferred it in the fall versus summer.

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Mary with a Russian bear that attacked her.

4. We ended the night at the Iron Cactus.

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Thank goodness for misting fans & frozen margaritas.

Hope you all had a great weekend!!

Weekend Recap: Rewind to last weekend
Aug 05, 2013

Today at work, I started writing out that today was Friday. Wow, I’m really getting ahead of myself. What a bummer to think that a Monday is a Friday!

I didn’t do much this past weekend. I had to finally take advantage of the quiet in my apartment building.

So I’ll recap last weekend instead!

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1. I had a blog date with Denise & Corrin at Noble Sandwiches. We had a good conversation & I can’t wait to do it again. Book club, Corrin, book club. :)

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2. I went to Linda’s 30th birthday party. (Linda’s in the middle.) Linda is always so happy and her spirit is infectious. Her party theme was BALLS. Kind of like….oh balls, I’m turning 30. It was so fun. All the food was ball themed. I went the easy route & just brought cherries & grapes…and also peanut M&M’s and lemon drops.

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My fellow Julie, me, and Amy

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3. On Sunday night, I went over to Mary Helen’s for burger party. Her nephew is in town, so she invited everyone over. This picture was an afterthought. I was too busy chowing down…nom nom nom.

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4. I binged watched Orange is the New Black last weekend on Netflix. After 4 people on my Twitter feed were raving about it, I knew that I had to watch. I immediately started reading the book once I finished season 1. I’d actually bought the book a few years ago and hadn’t read it. I’m almost done already!

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5. A few weeks ago, I bought these notebooks (Target impulse buy). I wanted to start a personal journal. I remember after my grandma passed away finding some notebooks of hers. It wasn’t deep thoughts…it was more like, went for a walk today. But I was still fascinated. Although mundane details, it was compelling to me. So, I’ve started my own journaling. Maybe I’ll stick with it for years (hopefully) and maybe not. But in the hopes that I will…I returned to Target to buy out the remaining notebooks. My journals have to match!

Okay, I’m off to watch the season finale of RHOC….er I mean to write in my journal.

Another 2 Month Update
Aug 04, 2013

So another 2 months has passed since my last blog post. It seems I only get the itch to blog after 2 month hiatuses.

June started off strong with lots of fun with friends and traveling. But for the last 6 weeks, I’ve been battling my upstairs neighbor with an annoying dog and tennis elbow in my right arm.

I had no problems with my neighbor for months and months. And then it seems his girlfriend broke up with him and moved out. And I was left with this jerky jilted neighbor and his jerky dog. (I don’t know that he was jilted, but I like to imagine that the girl came to her senses & left him.)

The neighbor guy worked at night and the dog didn’t deal well with being alone at night. The dog would bark and howl from about midnight until the owner came home from work at 4 am. UGHHhhhhhhhhhh!! I would call every week to complain to my leasing office. And I left notes on the neighbor’s door. But he didn’t seem to care.

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I had to leave my TV’s and ceiling fans on at night to try to dull the noise. And I wore earplugs every night. I really feel for new mothers now. I was going bonkers. But the guy finally moved out a few days ago! It’s been blissfully quiet for the past few days. Haley seems to be in better spirits too. I know I’ll only get a few weeks of peace before a new neighbor moves in. Is it too much to ask for that it’s a 70 old woman with no pets?

As far as the tennis elbow, it still hurts. I have a brace that I wear during work, since I type all day long. And I have exercises to do from the doctor. I also ice it at night. But it’s frustrating. I’m pretty sure it should have healed by now. I’m just ignoring it basically. :/

Let’s move on to the FUN things I’ve done the past 2 months though!!

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1. I went to BlogHer Food 2013! And Mary Helen & I met the Pioneer Woman! Ree was so gracious and sweet!!

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2. My BFF’s Chris & Sarah came to Austin to visit.

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We went to the Mumford & Sons concert! It was my favorite concert to date! Loved every moment of it!

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I ate this amazing quinoa salad at Snack Bar!

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We had Sunday Funday by starting with brunch at Max’s Wine Dive. Get the SXSW…jalapeno cheese grits with pulled pork! I want to eat that again right now. Yum!

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We continued Sunday Funday at Kung Fu Saloon for drinks and games.

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I took Chris & Sarah to Gourdough’s. It was my first time too!! We may have went twice in one day…it was vacation after all.

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We finished off the trip with a visit to the Oasis on Lake Travis.

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3. Only 2 weeks after Chris & Sarah came to Austin, I flew to Charlotte to visit them. We plan visits around concerts. Mumford & Sons in Austin……ANDDDDDD……NKOTB/98 Degrees/Boyz II Men in Charlotte. I met up with Sarah, Kelly, and Trish my first night in Charlotte to see this boy band extravaganza. It was so much fun!!! NKOTB put on a hell of a show. We really got our money’s worth.

***Here’s when I started getting tennis elbow so hence the few pictures in Charlotte or back at home. :(

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4. A week after returning from Charlotte, I drove home to Wichita for 10 days. My Mom had recently broken her hip, so wanted to see her and be home for the 4th of July. She’s recovered now and is walking without a walker or cane, yay!!

For the 4th of July, I offered to be in charge of appetizers and dessert. My parents are very meat & potato-y, which is delicious, don’t get me wrong—but after a week, I was craving fruit & vegetables. So I happily went to town on the appetizers.

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Dessert was a make your own ice cream sundae bar! I thought of this idea on a whim, but it was really fun!!

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I always love going home to see how much my 4 nephews have grown!

That’s all for now. I’m going to do my best to not wait another 2 months until next time. But if I do, I’ll have fun updates as I’m going on 2 more trips over the next few months. :)

Slice of Life: Sarah’s Visit to Austin
Jan 04, 2013

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In November, one of my bestest friends in the whole wide world, Sarah, came to visit. Sarah did a little research online first and asked if we could go to La Condesa for dinner her first night in town. Far be it from me to say no to tacos, guac, and beer!

I asked Sarah…..will you get up and stand in line at 9:30 am to eat BBQ with me tomorrow? Sarah said yes, of course. Yesssssssss!!

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I finally got to try Franklin Barbecue!

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Franklin’s is known for having some of the best brisket in the country. Just ask Anthony Bourdain. It was delicious, but I liked the ribs even better.

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After devouring some meat, we headed off the duck tour of Austin. I don’t think Sarah blew her duck whistle once. But I made up for it for the both of us.

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The State Capitol building

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Lake Austin

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During Sarah’s visit, we also took in two concerts. We saw Snow Patrol (great concert!) at Austin Music Hall and Counting Crows at Stubb’s.

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I was very nervous for Snow Patrol as I’d read bad reviews about Austin Music Hall. So maybe the reviewers were whiny….or the hall was improved…or both, but I really enjoyed the venue!! The only downfall is that since it’s near condos/apartments, they have to stop concerts at 10 pm. I wish that Snow Patrol could have played longer.

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Our other adventure during Sarah’s visit was the Austin Eats Food Tour. I’d been wanting to try the downtown Austin tour for awhile and had a Groupon to boot! The tour met on a Saturday morning the Republic Park farmers’ market.

Our stops on the food tour:
1. Dai Due Butcher Shop
2. Tacodeli
3. Hut’s Hamburgers
4. Haddington’s–I’d already been to Haddington’s twice before, but this was my first time trying a Moscow Mule! Loooooooove!!
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5. Walton’s Fancy and Staple — The shortbread cookies are so good!
6. Frank’s
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7. Delish Bakery

For Sarah’s last day in Austin, I suggested a Sunday Funday of brunch and bar hopping! We had brunch at Bess Bistro (otherwise known as Sandra Bullock’s restaurant–as is Walton’s). Then we headed over to Kung Fu Saloon and met up with with my friend, Brandi, and her hubs.

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To end on a killer high note, Sarah and I had dinner at Uchi. Oh Uchi….I love thee!! Uchi, you are way better than Uchiko (sorry, Paul Qui). If you’re in Austin and you love sushi, you must go to Uchi. Go early (happy hour prices), get the shag roll, get the maguro sashimi and goat cheese…thank me later!

Sarah, I hope you come again in 2013!! Maybe for a little ACL concert action!

Slice of Life: Omaha trip
Dec 10, 2012

Shortly after I got back from Cleveland, I was off to Omaha to spend the weekend with my BFF Chris. I wanted to visit Chris in Omaha before he moved (back to Charlotte). And it didn’t hurt that Bryan Adams was in town for an acoustic concert. I love me some BA!! :)

It was a weekend filled with food, drink, shopping, and music. My favorites things! We checked out DJ’s Dugout Sports Bar, The Zin Room (yum!), and Upstream Brewing Company. I know we also went to an Irish bar that was in a basement and it kind of freaked me out…like I could see a random fight breaking out at any moment! So, it must have been an authentic Irish bar. ;)

Chris lived right by the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, which is also known as the Iowa/Nebraska bridge. I loved this bridge and part of town. This was the view from Chris’ balcony. Of course, I made him walk the bridge with me. Wait, I’m in Iowa…no I’m in Nebraska!

After our walk, we went to Aksarben Village to walk around the art festival. Aksarben = Nebraska spelled backwards…Google is a wonderful thing. The first thing on my agenda though was coffee!

I was immediately drawn to Jones Bros. Cupcakes. This place was a-jumpin’ too!

My favorite piece from the art festival.

My favorite stop in the Aksarben Village was by far the Luvbird Boutique. It was so cute!! I could have done a lot more damage in that store.

After trying & failing to get donuts on Saturday night, I still had donuts on the brain come Monday morning. So immediately after Chris got up on Monday morning, I said…let’s go get donuts!!

My last day in Omaha was spent shopping and gambling at the casino. We didn’t win any money. :/

Happy Hour at Roja Mexican Grill before the concert

En route to the concert

6th row for the concert! It was a great show…acoustic is the way to see Bryan Adams. It was my 3rd time seeing him and the best yet. And can’t wait to visit Chris again in Charlotte this time in 2013!

Slice of Life: Cleveland trip
Nov 06, 2012

With this being election day and Ohio being a battleground state, it reminded me… I never blogged about my trip to Cleveland! I went to Cleveland in September for a work trip. I came to town 2 days early to meet up with friends.

There was beautiful weather when I visited! I couldn’t get enough of the sky!

The night I arrived, I met up with Anita, Amy, and Angie for dinner and drinks at Paladar. If you’re a mojito fan, you’ll enjoy Paladar.

The next day, I put on my tourist hat and hit the town with Angie and her husband, Dave. Angie had told me that we definitely had to have brunch at her favorite place, Lucky’s. Lucky’s is a great, quaint farm-to-table restaurant.

Lucky’s has a small garden on-site. Items not harvested there are from local Ohio farmers.

I couldn’t decide between a hot or cold drink. So I got both…hey, I was on vacation! :) I had the Hazelnut Mocha Shaker and the Ginger, Peach, and Grape smoothie. They were both fantastic!!!

Omelet with sausage, Ohio sweet corn, and white cheddar…served with strawberry coffee cake on the side. Lucky’s was so delicious! If it were in Austin, I’m sure I’d be there every weekend.

After brunch, we walked around the Tremont area to see the sights and shop.

After walking around for awhile, we headed over to tour the A Christmas Story house!

Angie & I

P.S. I’m short.

Angie & Dave

The infamous leg lamp…..fra-gil-e—-must be French.

Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.

After leaving the A Christmas Story house, we did some more sightseeing downtown. Then we dropped Dave off so he could watch football. Angie and I headed over to Little Italy to explore.

We stopped at Presti’s Bakery for some caffeine and sugar. Yay for chocolate dipped macaroons!

My day of exploring Cleveland ended with dinner at Melt. I was told by several people to go to Melt. A restaurant devoted to grilled cheese!? Yes, please. I love the random Halloween & Easter decor. Even more than the grilled cheese, I was exposed to my first banana bread beer!! I was skeptical of ordering this beer, but SO glad I did! It’s so great. Try it if you haven’t!

I opted for the Big Popper: fresh jalapeño peppers, cheddar & herbed cream cheese, crispy battered & deep fried, mixed berry preserves

Yeah, you’ll want to change into your fat pants after eating this sandwich!! You certainly won’t be able to finish it all in one sitting.

Angie got the Falafel grilled cheese, which was a special item. Dang, I wish that I’d have gotten that one!!

I had a great time in Cleveland and Angie was an awesome tour guide!

And if I’m ever in the market to buy a leg lamp, I know where to go now.