Apr 28, 2010

Dinner and a movie

We went to a special event at the Alamo Drafthouse tonight — a wine / dinner pairing and the movie Bottle Shock.   The movie is based on the real story of the Chateau Montelena vineyard whose Chardonnay won 1st place in a Paris blind tasting in 1976, putting put Napa Valley wines on the map forever.

It was weird to eat food that you couldn’t really see in the dark.   But the food, wines and movie were all great.   Love the Alamo!

Apr 25, 2010

Hill country in bloom

It was an absolutely gorgeous day today.   We went for a long drive past Johnson City through the Willow City Loop to see what was left of the wildflowers.   The bluebonnets are on the decline, but many others are taking stage against a hill country backdrop.  This field was full of white prickly poppies.

Apr 23, 2010

Thunderboomer

It has been very humid for the last few days… getting ready for a front to blow through tonight.   Right around sunset this evening the clouds started building up into thunderheads ahead of the front.   This is a shot of the sunlight from the setting sun coming from behind one of the clouds.    We didn’t get too much rain, but got a nice lightning show after dark.

Apr 22, 2010

Yellow rose

Today we drove down to visit my Aunt and Uncle — my mom’s brother — in San Antonio.  We got a great visit in with them and my cousin, her husband and adorable daughter.   We picked a great day to go sailing yesterday, it was beautiful.   Today was drizzly and overcast all day — a good day for a drive.

My aunt is a wonderful gardener and she gave us a tour of her lovely backyard.   This is a picture of one of her St. Patrick roses… it was even more beautiful in person.

Apr 21, 2010

Oasis sunset

I’m very excited that Noreen and mom arrived last night for a week long visit.   Today we spent the afternoon on the lake.  Mom is a natural sailor, and Noreen quickly mastered sailing the catboat.   We ended our cruise by motoring up the creek and feeding the ducks.

Afterward we went to the Oasis to experience the traditional sunset ritual.   This is a shot right before the sun dipped below the hills.  Windy Point is the land jutting out on the right.  Some lucky soul below has the best view — all to themselves.

It was a beautiful day on the lake, one of many we’re fortunate to have.  I’m happy that mom and Noreen got to share it with us today.

Apr 20, 2010

Mystery plant

Earlier this year we spent time preparing the planting bed along the fence in the backyard.   We’ve planted zinnias, basil, morning glory, and transplanted a few other plants to the bed.   This little specimen, however, was not planted by us, but I’ve let it grow from a little seedling into this big leafy bush.   We’re not quite sure what it is yet.  I’ve tried googling images on the web and think it’s a green pepper.  It has some tiny white blooms on it, and I’ll wait to see what they turn into.  Several years ago I did have green peppers planted in this bed, so it very well could be a volunteer.

When and if I get confirmation of what this mystery plant is, I’ll post an update.

Apr 19, 2010

Indian paintbrush

This was one of the best years for wildflowers that I can remember, but they have peaked and are starting to fade.   I’m going to miss going out back every day to look for new arrivals.   This is a closer look at the indian paintbrush that showed up.   I think these flowers have one of the best names — the leaves/petals really do look like they’ve been dipped in paint.  I can’t wait until next year to see how they’ve multiplied.

Apr 16, 2010

Hmmm

A Toyota being pushed through the lobby of the Houston Omni Hotel.    Today is the Friday before the MS-150 bike ride weekend, which is a 2 day bike ride from Houston to Austin, raising money for fighting Multiple Sclerosis.   For the last 8 years or so I’ve been driving my cycling friends to the event in Houston, helping them with their gear and driving their truck back to Austin the next day.   I call it being a “sherpa.”   It’s alot of fun with my girlfriends, and a great deal – as they treat me to a wonderful dinner.

This year Lori and Laura are riding, and Irene has joined again for co-sherpa duties.   We were walking back to the hotel room late at night and saw them pushing this Toyota official MS-150 support vans through the lobby.   I guess they didn’t want to start the engine.  It was amusing though because the guy in the drivers seat kept putting on the brakes.

Anyway.   I could have taken lots of pictures of bikes, but this moment caught my fancy.

Apr 15, 2010

Biscotti!

I made a batch of almond biscotti tonight for a road trip tomorrow.

Almond Biscotti (makes about 2 dozen)

2 c flour
1 c sugar
1 c slivered almonds
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 eggs + 1 egg white
vegetable cooking spray

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.  Combine wet ingredients in separate bowl, and then add to dry mixture, stirring until well blended.  The dough will be very dry.

Turn dough out onto  lightly floured surface and knead lightly 7-8 times.  Shape dough into 16″ long flat loaf.  Place loaf on baking sheet coated with cooking spray.   Flatten loaf to 1″ thickness.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 mins.   Remove loaf to cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Cut loaf into approx 24 half-inch thick slices and place, cut sides down, on baking sheet.

Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees and cook 10 minutes each side (cook slightly less on each side if you like softer biscotti).   Remove from sheet to wire rack and let cool completely.

Enjoy!