Monday, October 11, 2010

A few new places we've been...

With hubby working such long hours with the game luaunch coming up, plus work & school on top of it all we haven't been up to too much around here lately. We are finally in the groove though & starting ot check some things out again.

This weekend we went to Urban at the Domain, got some cupcakes from Hey Cupcake, & tried every flavor at Amy's! So, I'll start with Urban, we got a certificate for here off of ($2 for a $25 certificate) it was good. Hubby had the Ribeye & I had the tiger shrimp. I didn't care too much for my dish because it had too much pasta but the shrimp was awesome in it! Hubby really enjoyed the ribeye, he said it was well worth the price. Then, friday before my daughter went out with her girlfriends we stopped by Amy's for the 2nd time, that place is amazing! We always go with the small so we have a lower calorie count but still get a mix in (with the tiny their mix in stuff just goes on top); but we tried several flavors this time, here's a run down of our faves: Mexican Vanilla, Dark Chocolate, Pumpkin, & Campfire Treat. Pumpkin & Mexican Vanilla I bought a pint of each, they are so amazing. Campfire treat is amazing as well but at 4.75 a pint I had to show some restraint. Campfire treat tastes like a freaking s'more. Its awesome. At Hey Cupcake, we go to the airstream at 290/71 in the SW area of Austin, it's near the William Cannon interchange they were almost sold out of everything but I was able to get two Pumpkinator's, a Strawberry Cream, and a Double Dose (which is chocolate). Beware, Pumpkinator & Strawberry frosting are made of cream cheese, so if you don't like cream chese go with another option. Pumpkinator was really really good, but very heavy. We will definitely get them again at some point, but of the three of us none of us cared for how heavy they felt on our tummies after we were done. So, this will be a very blue moon treat.

Another place we went to Saturday was Dick Nichols Park. We didn't even know this place existed! It has tons of play ground equipment, tons of places to picnic or have a gathering with family, it has a pool that a friend informs me is free when they are open during the season, & it has a walking trail that is a one mile loop & it is paved. Throughout the trail they have all sorts of activities to do like monkey bars, climing a latter, sit ups, etc. All the fun things you'd have to do for the presidential physical fitness award. We had a great time walking the trail, it is great for kids so they can get out & be active but not have to walk the three miles or so like at lady bird lake. Here are some photos & videos:

So, these are just a few of the things we have been up to. There will be more to come soon as there are a lot of fun things coming up around town. I will keep this updated more often!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Great places to eat! (Or, in some cases not so great...)

So, since we've moved here we have had the chance to eat at some really great restaurants! I will try to remember them all....

Ok, so this first one isn't exactly in Austin but it is about 45-50 miles away (if you live in South Austin) on the outskirts of San Antonio, it is called Silo. It is an amazing little hole in the wall with the most amazing food! When you enter the building you are on the bottom floor you can walk into the bar and grab a fantastic cocktail or take the elevator to the second floor and be seated by the hostess. We went on a Saturday night and were able to be seated right away. If you check out opentable you can make a reservation as well. So, anyway, we were seated right next to the glass wall so we could look down into the bar. I ordered a Cosmo for starts...made perfectly! Then, we skipped the appetizer, there wasn't anything that really suited our palate. For dinner, I had a stuffed grouper and hubby had a delicious steak! You can check out their menu here. They also have a Prix Fixe Menu which is always nice so you can stay on budget! :) Dessert was a to-die for creme brulee with fresh berries! It was an amazing find, especially since we just happened upon it during a drive to explor the area!

Another great place to eat, but go there knowing you will wait a while is Manny Hattan's. Now, I don't mean you'll wait to be seated because we didn't have to wait (of course we went on a weekday) but it will take a while to get what you order. You see, when you go there, you are going to order the fried chicken and waffles. Yes, diets go out the door. I ran and did p90x the day we went there simply because I was warned it was a carb fest. But, it was the most delectible carb fest I had ever had. Fried chicken, waffles & syrup, mac'n cheese & green beans. Probably one of the best meals I've had in Austin. Can't wait to go back soon!

One place I took hubby to for an excellent steak over Valentine's weekend was Mesa Ranch North.  Now, we went there a while ago so it is hard to remember what we ordered; I know hubby got a Ribeye. I want to say I got shrimp possibly...not sure though. I do remember I was served a humongous martini however. It was awesome! The only bad thing I would have to say about this place is that the crowd is an older crowd. We didn't see anyone our age there unless they were dining with parents, and then I do believe they were much much much younger than us! :) But, regardless of crowd age, the food was great!

For Valentine's dining we went to Cool River Cafe. The ambiance was amazing. It was a full house, but we were seated right away for our reservation, they had fires going in the multiple fire places, & even though the dining room was full of diners it was surprisingly quiet. We were able to talk and really enjoy our Valentine's dinner, which was a real treat because we hadn't seen one another in about two months! Hubby, I am pretty sure got another ribeye...are we noticing a trend? At the end there will be a quiz, "What is Mark's favorite food?" I however, got bacon wrapped shrimp! They were fantastic and cooked to perfection! After that we got chocolate cake! I love chocolate so this was a fantastic way to end a romantic dinner.

Ables on the Lake wasn't our intended stop when we wound up eating there! We were originally going to go to Hula Hut next door, but changed our minds and went for Abels. The indoors was underconstruction when we were there so we had to eat out doors, which during a Texas fall was a wonderous experience! The atmosphere was very family friendly & football was going on the televisions. We were sitting over the Lake (I don't know which lake, I would assume Lake Austin), there was a gorgeous view and it was just the three of us spending some awesome family time together. The food was just regular american faire, nothing too notable, but it was good. The atmosphere completely made the whole trip worth it!

A place we went to on New Years Eve is Eddie V's at the Arboretum. For the price, the food was mediocre. We didn't really enjoy it and it was over crowded. We had a reservation, had to wait about half an hour past our reservation, wound up being seated at the bar and paid too much for food that wasn't amazing. This is one place we will not be going back to.

The Oasis is a restaurnt we found out about from my aunt who sent us a clipping from Southern Living Magazine. The atmosphere is amazing. Quiet, great view; however, the food for the price was abismal. We were completely underwhelmed and will only go back for drinks. For us, it is very much out of the way and I really expected more from all the rave reviews it got in articles we read in print and online. However, we were not impressed. Maybe it was an off day for the kitchen, I don't know. But, definitely not our cup of tea-food-wise. :(

Max's wine dive is one we tried to try...if that makes sense. We went there with some friends after work, but we hadn't made a reservation. So, we sat at the bar for a bit but wound up leaving because the wait for a table was just too long! We had waited over 40 minutes before we finally left. So, next time we go we will be making a reservation (& I will have some certificates in hand since I saw them on there!). But, we hung out and had some wine. I had a very sweet reisling that the bar tender recommended. It was awesome! Can't wait to go back and try the food.

Some quick joints we've tried are:
P. Terry's: My daughter and I went here the day we did all of our back-to-school shopping! The menu was very economically friendly and delicious! We got just one meal so we could split the fries and then I ordered a seperate burger. The shakes were amazing...but beware, if you want to eat the rest of the day skip the shake and go for delicious as it was the calorie count in that thing was frightening!

Torchy's Tacos: Unique and delicious. I can't say anymore than that! I was able to get fried crab in a taco with fried advocado and all kinds of amazing veggies. That speaks for itself! Hubby on the otherhand gets some crazy concoction with half a cow in it and five pounds of cheese! My daughter...doesn't care for the place. We went to the one in North Austin, but I am hoping to try the one down by us in S. Austin soon!

Buger Tex: Let me start off by saying the location listed on this site is not the one we go I have no idea if it is really there! The location we frequent is the one at William Cannon and 290/71. This is hands down my daughter's favorite restaurant so far! Burgers and fresh is fantastic!

Lola Savannah is a coffee shop my daughter and I tried just a couple of days ago. It is actually near 360 & Bee Caves next to The Grove (a wine bar). We had received in the mail a coupon for 2 free coffee drinks and 2 free pastries. Unlike most places who get irritated when you come in with a deal like that, they were very accomodating and let us pick whatever we wanted from the menu. They completely won us over! They will always be our first pick now for coffee. The atmosphere was awesome, the barista personnel were awesome, & best of all-the coffee was awesome!

Now, it is getting late and I wrote three end of course exam's today so my brain is becoming fried. These are all the local-ish places I can think of that we have tried right off the bat. Once I think of some more I will add them! :)

Oh, and if you know of any places we should try...leave a comment so we can add that to our list of "to dos"!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Our First Excursions

So, I officially moved to Austin on June 26, 2010…I’ve live here for a month and a half now. We have done quite a bit for just having moved here…but not so much that there isn’t anything left for us to do!

The first thing we did was see the fire works out at Lady Bird Lake. We meant to see them where the symphony was playing but not knowing much about the area we got the location wrong and were on the opposite side of the lake. But, we had some great family time playing uno and watching the fireworks from where we were…plus, that way traffic was easy to get out of too! The second thing we did, the day after Independence day was go to Schlitterbahn Water Park. This park was so very cool! It is about 45 minutes from us in San Marcos, TX, just outside of San Antonio. Now, if you’ve never been to Schlitterbahn it can be a bit confusing. There are actually three parks to the park. There is the main park that has all the original stuff and most of it is fed by one of the local rivers (the Guadalupe I believe). Thewater though, even on one of the hottest July days, was cold! But, that definitely doesn’t ruin the fun, it just makes it way more memorable! So, once you finish at that first park you actually have to take a shuttle over to the other two, they are right next door to one another but to get to them you do have to exit the parks. These had some great lazy rivers to ride in, and those are what we really enjoy!

Next, my daughter and I had to check out what is called “swimming hole”. Now, let me tell you, I am from Florida if it isn’t a pool or if it doesn’t have a shore we don’t swim in it! Here however, it is a whole different story. So, we went to Twin Falls off of Mopac & 360. There is a lot of hiking to be done here and you would actually have to hike to the areas where you can swim. Now, the area we like to go to actually has a spot that is 15-20 feet deep where you can jump & do tricks and stuff. The bottom of the river is covered in stones, we did it barefoot our first time but after that I would definitely recommend wearing some sort of water shoe because we were slippin’ and slidin’ all over the place! But, it was a fantastic experience and a place we will definitely be visiting again!

Then, we went to visit the Children’s Museum downtown. This is on 3rd & Colorado. Every Wednesday they have a community night, this is from 5-8 and admission is by donation only, it is a fantastic deal! Their big exhibit is the Big Game and they had really large versions of classic games! It was a ton of fun & of course they have your classic milk a cow, super market, interactive kitchen, and building area. It was a great time & with all the picnic areas it was extremely economical entertainment! (My iPhone acted up and I no longer have the pictures I took here, boohoo :( )

Then, just a couple Saturday’s ago we went downtown to see the famous Bats! Unfortunately they didn’t do the awesomely fantastic flying out from under the bridge thing they do most nights. I guess that is the unfortunate thing about nature, you can’t make it cooperate! But, we still had a really enjoyable time; we could see them fluttering under the bridge and boy were they a sight to behold! Truly amazing all of those animals live under that bridge! We parked down by the Austin-American Statesman (parking in their lot is free I do believe after 6) and there is a grassy area to sit and watch the bats, next time we go we will bring a blanket and a game along with a picnic and bunker down for the evening!

We also went to Zilker Park. This isn’t what I would think of as a park. It is HUMONGOUS! But, we went over by the Barton Springs pool, on the other side actually and my daughter got to play on the playscape there and then we rode the train around the park. It is a beautiful park; there are many running/hiking trails, places to rent kayaks & go out on the lake, plus the pool that is fed by an underground spring! Truly an enjoyable place to visit and beat this Texas heat!

Then, last weekend while my hubby was out of town I took my daughter all the way up to Round Rock to go to the Rock’n River “water park”. Technically, I suppose this is a pool but there wasn’t really an area just for swimming. It had two big slides (one open air & one enclosed), a lazy river, and two great areas for the little guys to swim. My daughter and I had a blast on the lazy river and the big slides. We were there for four hours. My recommendation is to get there early though because it gets packed fast!

The last thing we did here recently was check out the South Austin Recreation Center & Park. This was so much fun! I looked it up and previously it was owned by AISD, so I would assume it was a school at one point. It is off of Lamar in a neighborhood, I would never have found it had I not been looking for it! But, it has tennis courts, soccer fields, basketball courts, a beautiful plasycape for the kids, & lots of picnic tables and grills & plenty of places to lay down a blanket under a tree if you prefer to picnic that way! We spent a good hour there on a hundred degree day because there was so much to keep my daughter occupied!

So, as you can see we’ve been pretty busy here…trying to discover all the treasures Austin has to offer us newbies!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New in Austin...sort of!

So, Mark moved here about a year ago now. Cammi and I got here in June. I will say we are not ones to sit still. When we were first married in the first year we moved twice, and I'm not talking across town, I'm talking across country! Since then we've moved a number of other times. Most of the times to other places that I thought were really cool and always wanted to live there, and others that I thought would be dreadful, but turned out to be pretty awesome once you got to know the area. Well, here I am, eleven years after that first move, in Austin, TX. I have to be honest, I had heard of Austin since it's the capitol of Texas, other than that though I had no idea what this place would be like! I'd tell people we were moving to Austin and they got excited for me throwing around things like "Austin City Limits", "South by Southwest", and countless names of bbq places to was a bit overwhelming but helped to get me excited since I had no clue what this place was about.
So, here I am, almost two full months after having moved here...I am completely, totally, utterly in love with this place! There is always so much to do whether indoors or out! There are family friendly things, and things just for adults. Now, we live in South Austin and it is so fitting for the personalities in our household. It is so charming I don't know as though I could imagine living anywhere else in Austin...and after my travels this past week I saw a lot of Austin & it's suburban world!
So, this blog is pretty much going to be about my travels around Austin. I love this place and we've done so much. I cant' wait to share with everyone!