Quarantine meal.

We joined in the Becker Vineyards virtual wine tasting last night of their 2018 Cabernet-Syrah Reserve.   It sure went well with pizza!

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All in a day’s work.

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During this prolonged shelter-in-place, when people ask me “what did you do today?” I usually go blank.  But I have been busy!  Aside from the household chores, cooking, and yard work, I have found contentment in these online diversions, which fill my day.

Photography

Nikon is offering their curriculum of 10 online photography classes to be streamed for free until the end of April.  How cool is that?  Link here.

Birding

High Island on the Texas Gulf Coast is one of my very favorite birding destinations during migration in April.  But not only is travel not in line with the current stay-at-home order, but the sanctuaries are also closed.  Thankfully, Houston Audubon, who owns and runs the High Island sanctuaries, is live streaming video footage from their Facebook page at 8AM and 3:30PM every Thursday through Monday.  Their Facebook link here.

Guitar

Fender is offering a 90-day free trial of their online guitar, bass, and ukelele lessons.   I’m a poorly self-taught guitar player of nearly 30 years and I’m learning new things by following their lesson progression, and more importantly, practicing again.  Link here.

Exercise

Lori recommended some beginner yoga sessions on YouTube, from “Yoga with Adriene.” I’m a yoga-newbie and am enjoying them very much.  Link here.

I use an app called “30Days” to help me to do higher and higher reps of traditional strength exercises like plank, situps, pushups, etc.  You pick the exercises, set your starting point, and for 30 days the app will gradually increase the reps, giving you days-off every few days.  I’ve used their app for years, on and off.  I’m 27 days into my latest 30-day stint and am back up to planking for 3 minutes.  🙂   The app isn’t fancy, there are prettier ones out there, but it’s free and it works for me when I use it.  Link here.

Amy recommended an app she used to train herself from couch-surfer to running a 5K over the course of 8 weeks.  They also have a 10K version which takes you from couch to 10K in 14 weeks, which is the one I’m using.  I’m on week 4 and am still enjoying it. They are both free to try for 7 days, and then you have to pay to upgrade to unlimited access.  The provider, Fitness22, actually has an entire collection of fitness apps.  Link here.

After 6 years, I am still wearing my fitbit One tracker every day.  I need to upgrade to a watch soon.  Either way, I use their app daily to track my activity and food.   Link here.

Things to listen to

Amazon Music, one of the perks of Prime membership, has a great selection of music; 2 million songs from their 50 million song library are free to listen to for Prime members.  You can search by song, album, artist, or listen to existing playlists and curated stations for something that floats your boat.  Keeto enjoys George Winston.  Link here.

Amazon Music has a channel on twitch.tv where they are hosting live-streamed webcasts.  Look for #togetherathome hashtag.  I listened to Hayes Carll play live for an hour on his patio last night.  The audio was very well done.  Link here.

I’ve gone overboard subscribing to and listening to podcasts, true crime is my addiction.  I have new content to listen to each day.  I use the Stitcher app to listen.   Link here.

Foreign Language Learning

I still use the free app Duolingo to practice my Spanish every day or so.  Link here.

Things to watch

The British National Theatre is streaming previously recorded theater performances every Thursday in April, on their YouTube channel.  We watched the first one, a comedy called One Man, Two Guvnors, last week and really enjoyed it.  Link here.

The Metropolitan Opera is streaming videos of previously recorded opera performances, a new one every day.  Link here.

Acorn.tv is offering a 30-day free trial of their British TV shows’ episodes (which we enjoy very much) for new subscribers, instead of their normal 7-day free trial.  Use the code FREE30 when signing up.  Link here.

Videochat

Ok, hands down, I’ve adopted Zoom for video chat.  The free version allows unlimited video meetings with a 40-minute time limit on each, which works for me.   Link here.

Online multiplayer games

We have spent many hours playing online games with friends and family.  I think that trickstercards.com and boardgamearena.com are both well done for this.  We combine them with a zoom video chat.

Food & Drink

Virtual wine tasting from Becker Vineyards.  What’s a virtual wine tasting?  Well, Becker is selling different 3 pack bottles of different varietals each week, which you can order to be shipped to your home.  And then a few days later, you tune into their Facebook Live sessions to participate in a group tasting of each bottle with experts from the vineyard.  I just bought the 3rd tasting pack.  It should be good!  Link here.

I posted previously about my ongoing on-line grocery shopping adventures for delivery and/or curbside pickup.  I’ve been pretty good at keeping an order scheduled a week to 10 days ahead of time, to keep fresh food in the house.  Let me say, again, HEB is awesome!  Link to my previous post here.

 

 

 

 

Septemberfest.

Monte and I rang in our anniversary with a trip through the Texas Hill Country.   We had our own mini-Oktoberfest exploring Altstadt Brewery and spent the weekend in Fredericksburg.

We enjoyed the wine and brews of the region and some local good-eats.  We also did our share of antiquing and mantiquing and each brought home a little sumpin-sumpin.

The Longhorns have an off-week, but we caught them chilling in the shade near the Pedernales River:

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We did a number of laps down Main Street in Fredericksburg.  Next week is Oktoberfest in F-burg, so GET DOWN THERE! IMG_9329

You gotta love the Texas wine trail… grape vines and live oaks.IMG_9333

And zinnias as far as you can see…IMG_9336

Happy Anny to us!

Just peachy.

Monte and I took a drive out the Highway 290 wine trail on this windy day in May.  Our mission was to pick up our wine club quarterly selection at Becker Vineyards.

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Future wine on the vine!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We made a few stops.  In Johnson City, we took a pass through some of the antique stores, and found vintage cowboy/cowgirl boots, of course.  Take your pick…IMG_7916 (1)

It’s peach season!  We stopped at an orchard in Fredericksburg, to bring a few home.IMG_7924 (1)

 

My Hill Country happy places.

We took a drive out through the Hill Country this week; out Highway 290 towards Fredericksburg.   It was a beautiful day.  We left early to beat the morning rush hour and stopped at Pedernales Falls State Park to visit their bird blinds.  We stayed for less than an hour, but saw canyon wrens, ladderback woodpeckers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, lincoln and field sparrows, ruby-crowned kinglets, black-crested titmice, cardinals, spotted towhees, and more.

Field sparrow…

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Lincoln sparrow…

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Along the way we stopped at the Pedernales River several times and saw wild turkeys, buffalo and longhorn cattle.

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Then we stopped at Wildseed Farms to buy fresh flower seed to plant after the last freeze.

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After lunch in Fredericksburg, we headed back east, making stops at the tasting rooms of Grape Creek Winery, and Becker Vineyards.

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Our last stop, Hye Rum, was a new one for us, having opened only a few years ago.  Monte especially enjoyed their barrel-aged dark rum.  Check them out.

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We made it back home before the afternoon rush hour.

All good!

 

Saturday.

We packed a picnic basket and visited Becker Vineyard’s annual lavender festival.   The lavender fields bloomed early this year so there wasn’t much purple to photograph today.  But a good time was had by all.  

A fun, full, first weekend of Fall!

We’ve been busy!  This past weekend, we made a roadtrip out to west, stopping first at William Chris Winery, where we caught up with a friend of ours that we ran into, by chance;  then we hopped over to Wildseed Farms to pickup a bunch of seed; then made it over to one of our faves, Becker Vineyards, where we had a tasting, a picnic, and checked out their new field of zinnias.  Just beautiful.

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On the way home we headed over to the Real Ale Brewery in Blanco.  We took the river road south/southeast from Hwy 290 to Blanco, and stopped along the way several times to check out the now lazy river that was uncontrollably raging just 4 months ago, tragically sweeping away homes and families over Memorial Day weekend.IMG_9158

At Real Ale, Monte sampled a flight, and I sipped my favorite – Hans Pils.

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Then Sunday rolled around, and we headed out to see the Anderson Mill historical site, near its original location at Cypress Creek on Lake Travis.   The Anderson Mill Gardeners do a wonderful job of preserving the site and its history.IMG_9183We made it to the boat in time to cheer the Seahawks on to their first win of the season, enjoying the recently repaired air conditioning on Nirvana (yay!).

About an hour before sunset, Kurt, Barbara, Dakota and little Leila joined us on the boat, and we motored out to the body of the lake to drift and watch the supermoon lunar eclipse.

Have I mentioned taking photos of the moon and stars on a moving boat is hard?  I didn’t get any good shots.  But I thought this one was kinda cool… you get the idea.

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It was a great weekend, indeed.

A day well spent.

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted something.  Things have been very busy lately.  So, i’ll take the liberty of a longer post today.

From the base of the Summit Trail.

We took today off, starting a much awaited and long overdue week or so of vacation.  The day was overcast and a tad chilly.  We set out into the Hill Country – destination Enchanted Rock.  This gigantic outcropping of granite rock was formed about a billion years ago.   It’s a stark contrast to the tree-covered, rough limestone hills that surround it.  The summit trail leads up the 425′ vertical climb to the top, which is 1825′ above sea level.  If you look at the picture above you can see a person approaching the top, and a few people along the way – which give a sense of the scale of the Rock.

Autumn in the Hill Country.

It was quite windy at the top.  But what great views!  We don’t get a lot of autumn color, so I really enjoyed seeing this patchwork of rust, gold and green from above.

The close up views were worth seeing as well.  The shot above is of the rust colored lichens that can be found covering the pink granite rocks.

Craggy.

On the way down I couldn’t resist taking this shot of a wind-beaten, twisted, dead oak tree against the sky.

Oh, deer.

After we made it back down we came across several deer, right on the edge of the parking lot.  This guy turned to say bye.

Barrel o fun!

On the way to the park we drove through Fredericksburg and stopped to walk through some of the shops.  We ate lunch at Der LindenBaum – home of awesome traditional German cooking.  On the way home, we couldn’t drive by Becker Vineyards without stopping in for a flight of wine tasting.

What a great day!