Monday, June 29, 2015

Picking lavender while the sun shines

A few weekends ago was the Lavender Festival in Blanco, about 45 minutes outside of Austin. I'd wanted to go, but we had friends in town and it also wasn't ideal outdoor festival weather, so we stayed in town. The existence of the Blanco Lavender Festival did give us the important information that there are a bunch of lavender farms (enough to create a festival around them anyway) right outside Austin. I looked a few up, weighed my options, and then Sam and I sat out to day trip to the Blanco area and specifically to Hill Country Lavender where you can pick your own for a nominal fee.

Sam is a seasoned lavender picker. 
It was a lovely drive out and perfect weather. Arriving at the farm, we had the whole place to ourselves, although when we left several groups of people were arriving. The farm is small, but they have a number of lavender products for sale (your soaps, your candles, and weirdly sachets that can double both as tea bags and bath fragrance). They also sold several different varieties of lavender. I bought a small plant for my garden and am hoping for the best.

Strolling the fields.
We also partook of the pick-your-own lavender to have a little something nice to smell for the trip home. I hadn't thought of what to do with it other than occasionally pick up the bouquet to smell it, but now I'm considering infusing it in oil as well.

Now that's one of many summer day trips crossed off the list! Many more to go...

Monday, June 22, 2015

2 years and a month (well, almost)

Our second anniversary was celebrated a little late this year. We had planned to go for dinner at a nice restaurant in Austin we haven't tried yet. Unfortunately, that was the day after we came back from our trip to New York to flooding in Austin. The resulting 8-hour unplanned diversion to Houston had us arriving home at 3 in the morning. After a late night and a full day of work, we both decided to bag our dinner plans, order take out, and pass out around 8:30. 

Luckily, Sam had already booked follow-up plans. Knowing my enjoyment of a good high tea, he arranged to have one at the Four Seasons in Austin as a surprise. (So much of a surprise was it that he actually forgot about the plans himself and we had to reschedule). At any rate, nearly a month after our official anniversary, we had tea this weekend and it was lovely and decadent as high teas in fancy hotels so often are. 

We had already eaten two scones before we thought to take a picture. Quite a spread!

Me, as seen by my tea partner, when his head is presumably tilted. 

The waitress asked if we were celebrating anything special,  and I told her it was a late anniversary tea, so she came back with this. Since it came after we had already consumed the above tri-level of food, this little guy had to come home with us. 

A rare shot of the two of us that isn't a selfie. 
All and all a lovely way to spend a rainy Saturday (or a sunny Saturday, I imagine, but there's something nice about joying tea while watching the rain). Looking forward to drinking tea together for many years to come.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Feasting with friends: a weekend in Austin

I know, I've been a terrible blogger. I haven't been taking many pictures lately, and haven't wanted to subject my readers to a visual-less post. That said, you're in luck this week! Sam and I entertained some friends in town this weekend. In addition to forcing us to get out and enjoy touristing in Austin, one of these friends is also a constant photo taker, so I stole all of hers and can now entertain you with them. This friend is also very effusive and positive about pretty much everything. In a way, I feel like she made me appreciate the city in a new light. Or maybe it's just nice to take a break and have a weekend of eating all the things and spending money with abandon. After all, they were on vacation, so we might as well be on vacation too.

I collected one friend from the airport and then her husband from a hotel downtown (he had a conference here which was the reason for the timing of their trip). Their first request was BBQ, so get BBQ we did. I enjoy the picture below because it is one of a series of rib eating shots she took. In none of them are both Sam and Ryan looking at the camera and in most they're just varying degrees of ignoring her and eating the ribs.

Rib-eaters, in the wild. 
After BBQ, we took them to Rainey Street, which is a pedestrian friendly area with a ton of bars and restaurants. I've been there a few times but always parked on the other end of it, so there were several places I hadn't seen, including a bar made out of shipping containers. We also stopped at the only sports bar on Rainey Street to watch the U.S. vs Sweden women's World Cup game. Turned out to be a boring game, but at least the company was good.

Now that I am reminded the World Cup is happening, I've decided I'm routing for Thailand (in addition to the U.S., of course)
On Saturday, we lucked out. There had been talk of thunderstorms all weekend, but we were given a reprieve and the weather was sunny all day. We got some breakfast tacos and then headed to Barton Springs. The popular cold spring had been closed for the last few weeks because of damage from the floods last month. Definitely fun that it's back open. After Barton Springs, we went for a hike on the Greenbelt and did a little swimming there as well since the creek was pretty high (another result of the aforementioned flooding) and we already had our bathing suits. All in all, a nice day full of things that would not have been possible in a thunderstorm.

We're the ones in the middle, waving. 
That night we took them for Mexican food at Curra's (home of the avocado margarita). You would think having had tacos for breakfast, we would choose a different dinner spot, but you can never have too many tacos in a day. After dinner, we walked around South Congress, mostly to work off some of the many-taco-day, but we also ventured into the few shops what were open.

This retro candy store is one of my favorites. And it turns out the best time to go to a candy store is when you're too full to be tempted by anything.
 Sunday the promised rain happened, so we confined most of our activities to indoors. We got brunch at 24 Diner, which has an amazing plate of chicken and waffles if you're willing to wait an hour to get a table. This was actually our last big meal of the trip. After this one, we realized we all felt terrible from our binging of previous days and switched to salads and light sandwiches for the remainder of their trip. That said, the chicken and waffles is worth it.

The only group picture. Thanks, waiter!
 Because the weather wasn't as nice, we decided to do a little self-guided tour of the capitol. I hadn't realized there was an enormous extension underground you could go in. It's mostly offices, but they also have a gift shop and restaurant down there.

Francesca and I, dwarfed by the enormity of Texas pride. 

Members of the Texas House of Representatives in the 1890s. All the other posted photos of different years were normal, but this one was kind of terrifying. 
The rain stopped for a bit, so we drove up to Mount Bonnel to give the out-of-towners a nice view of the city. It's a short walk up to the top. We managed to walk up, enjoy the view, and walk down in maybe 20 minutes. Right as we got to the bottom and into the car, it started pouring. Excellent timing.

The Austin skyline, probably being rained on. 

Sam and I walking up. 
It's nice to return to normalcy and eating healthy again, but it was a fun vacation in our city. It reminded me that the thing I miss most about New York is the friends I made there, and those can always travel.