Monday, December 21, 2015

Hamliton (not the musical)

I'd been wanting to visit Hamilton Pool since moving to Austin, but hadn't gotten around to it. A large part of that is because it's a popular swimming spot, but was closed to swimming all summer due to flood and later because of high bacteria levels. Nevertheless, biologically toxic waters notwithstanding, it's also a pretty spot, so we decided it was worth a little visit, just to walk around. Here's a few photos:
Sam got a selfie stick from his office Christmas part white elephant exchange, but we were too embarrassed to use it in public. 
I told Sam we should just tell people we're that couple, because if so this would be a fantastic picture of us. 
My attempt at take a panoramic shot from under the rock overhang. It's pretty cool, but I feel like you lose the scale of it. 
One more without the random couple. You can make out people behind the waterfall, to get a sense of the size of this place. 

Unrelated to Hamilton Pool, but we're going to try for the lottery to see Hamilton the musical when we're in New York. Seems unlikely since it's sold out until June and I've heard close to 1,000 people have been known to show up to the lottery. I've had good luck in the past though, so hopefully I'll have a post about Hamilton the musical soon.

Monday, December 14, 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Things have been a bit hectic around here with holiday mayhem added to the normal why-did-I-take-on-3-books-this-season mayhem and a dash of annoying master's program application stuff. All of which is to say, I'm impressed with myself for staying with my (admittedly worse than before) track record of posting every other week. I'd like to think that now that I'm nearing the end of writing and applications (1 book + 1 application to go!) that it means that I'll have more time to blog. Then I remembered that theoretically I will actually be spending time taking classes next month, so we'll see how it goes.

At any rate, setting aside the boring GRE taking and book writing (unless you want to learn more about the Neolithic Revolution, as I am now a fount of information), holiday parties and get togethers have been aplenty. We were also excited to decorate the house this year. Hard to believe this time last year we were just seeing it for the first time and it was still several ugly paint choices away from being our home! We decorated the inside with the usual assortment of Santas plus a few additional ones that were donated to us this year (thanks, Barrie, for letting us raid your Santa stash!). While in our small apartments, the numbers of Santas seemed to fill the space quite nicely, in the house, I feel like the decorating seems almost a little too subtle. Nevertheless, I resisted the urge to buy more things. I'm liking the fact that we still have empty storage spaces right now and am in no hurry to fill them with Santas. Our two holiday decorating purchases were a wreath for the door and some twinkle lights. A modest display, but they turned out nicely.
You can't really appreciate the wreath or the twinkling, but I think the fact that our house is already painted in Christmas colors adds to the effect. 
In addition, to decorating, we've been doing a fair amount of eating and drinking. I've now attended a gingerbread house building party, a cookie swap, a Hanukkah brunch, and a holiday dinner party. It's been filling to say the least, and we're still only gearing up for the true onslaught of food that is Christmas proper (or any meal really) at Sam's parent's house. 

You may remember I made this bread last year. But this time I made it with 6 points instead of 8, to be more on theme for the Hanukkah brunch. 
Our finished house. For the record, he did the side with the candy canes. 
To theoretically counteract the eating, I signed up for the Trail of Lights fun run. Actually, the reason I signed up was there was Groupon deal for it back in September, and I figured it would be a less crowded way of seeing the Trail of Lights. Turns out, that's not the case. There were 6,000 people in the fun run, so it was just as crowded and involved just as much walking as normal Trail of Lights attendance. Our first clue that this 2 mile run was not at all competitive (other than the fact that it was called a "fun run" I guess) was when one man was carrying a plate of fried potatoes at the starting line. One friend, who was more dedicated to running led us in dodging and weaving through the crowd during the first mile, but at some point we gave up. We at least traveled the whole 2 mile course though, so some exercise did happen. 

During a more competitive run, we would not have had time to stop and take photos. 

Now I'm done with my holiday shopping and many of my other assorted tasks and I'm looking forward to enjoying a little rest and relaxation before the next batch of to-dos.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Another year, another delicious turkey

I do believe this is the fifth Thanksgiving I've recorded on this blog. It does make me rather impressed with this blog's longevity, even if I haven't been updating with quite the same regularity as before. I think I actually started back in 2010 with two posts a week! I think I had a lot more time back in 2010. Anyway, point being, most of you know the Thanksgiving drill by now. In fact, most of my readers are even a part of said drill. This Thanksgiving was like many of the others in all of the best and most comforting ways. It was also a bit bittersweet because it was the first Thanksgiving missing one very important person.
The turkey master surveying his domain.
We had all the usual favorites, plus some cauliflower I snuck in (recipe here if anyone is interested). Our normal habit of frequent post lunch walking was held in check by nigh constant rain. I don't think it stopped raining for more than a couple of hours the whole four days we were there. Without the ability to exercise, we had no choice but to hunker down, eat more, and work an obscene number of crossword puzzles. Some also chose to nap. I think it could be best described as a "hibernation." It was the perfect respite, especially because I've had a pretty busy November and a very busy December approaching.
Some favorite people, and me standing very awkwardly for some reason. 
We did make the occasional venture out. One day we went to the Kimbell in Fort Worth to see the Caillebotte exhibit. Truthfully I wasn't entirely sure who was Caillebotte was prior to the exhibit, but I did recognize his most well known painting as one that my mom has had on an umbrella for decades. The exhibit was a really good one. Nice to see more about an impressionist's work who I wasn't previously that familiar with. We also had a nice lunch at the Kimbell, which was a welcome break from Turkey leftovers at that point.

You couldn't take pictures in the exhibit, but they hung a giant print of his painting "Paris Street, Rainy Day" outside it with props so you could join in as a rained on Parisian. 
 Since we'll be spending Christmas with the other side of the family, we did our annual Thanksgiving gift exchange. I enjoy this particular tradition because it enables me to get half of my Christmas shopping done early. This year I got a particularly lovely gift. My mom created this beautiful portrait of Dinah. It's not hanging in our office, but before that I wanted to do a photo shoot with the painting's subject. I wanted her to pose like the portrait, as that is usually her natural stance. Of course getting a cat to strike a pose is rather difficult. Below is probably the closest I came.

This was the point in the photo shoot when she started to tire of my need for documentation. 
After a wet drive back on Sunday, we're back in Austin, where the weather has not sunned up too much. Looking forward to putting up Christmas lights on our house for the first time though, rain or shine!