Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Bikeride to A Taste of Heaven

     Sunday afternoon I met my friend Crystal for a bike ride along the lakefront path to Andersonville's A Taste of Heaven. It was deceptively sunny, and it was in reality, very cold. Crystal was dressed properly, however, with a windproof balaklava.

Crystal in front of Belmont Dog Beach.

My Oma at the Playground.

     After a windy ride north, we cut through the Andersonville neighborhood and arrived at A Taste of Heaven, which has some of the best cupcakes in town. Of course, I was so hungry by the time we got there, I forgot to take a picture of our treats (we shared), until they'd already been cut up.

Rasberry Rapture.

      The Rasberry Rapture had a creamy center, if you look closely and was, as Crystal put it, "Really Rasberry Rapture." The Pumpkin Bundt was also very moist and tasty.

Pumpkin Bundt Cake.

     We had a lovely conversation about all things writerly, as Crystal is also a children's novelist, and it was a wonderful afternoon, even if it was a bit nippy out.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Austin Kite Festival

     One of the highlights of our trip to Austin was catching the Austin Kite Festival. We just happened to see a sign for it in the park as we rode our bikes around and thought it would be worth seeing. Was it ever! We were told that it is the largest kite festival in America.  Everybody in Austin was out there flying a kite.

 It was great to be out with everyone, their kids, dogs, and kites on such a warm, sunny afternoon.

A man and his horse kite.
 I'm so glad we stumbled onto this wonderful festival. In Chicago, our kite festival will be on May 7th, at Montrose Harbor from 10-3 pm. Ya gotta love the kites.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Texas Getaway

Chocolate Texas style at the Whole Foods flagship in Austin.

     Last weekend my husband and I went on a weekend trip to Austin, Texas. It was to give us a break from the winter and it worked!
     There was wonderful nightlife just steps from our funky motel, the Austin Motel, and music everywhere you turned. We ate dinner while sitting outside and enjoyed the reasonably warm temperatures. Anything would feel warm after the freezing weather we've been having in Chicago!

Under the suggestive sign is written, "So close yet so far out." That about sums it up.

South Congress at night.

Neon everywhere.

Fabulous open air music while waiting for a table at Guerro's. (It was wonderful, by the way.)
My wonderful husband with our dessert cupcakes from one of the many food trailers. They were all over Austin and we ate at three different trailers. The food was all very good.

     We rented bikes for the weekend to be able to get around more freely and these were the beach cruisers they gave us. Review? The dutch bike wins in every category I can think of. In particular, I discovered I dislike coaster brakes with a passion. What am I, seven? This bike may look cool, but if it's a drag to ride, who cares? 

Riding around Lady Bird Lake.
We spotted turtles everywhere.

      Then we rode over to the Whole Foods flagship.  Many years ago, when I was a young artist in training, I worked at the Whole Foods in Chicago, in the now defunct North Avenue location. I'd thought that was big, but the Austin flagship is enormous.

There were several restaurants within the store and this pulled pork and root beer were fabulous.

There was even a cake bar, although we were both too full after the pulled pork to partake.
A fully tricked out bike repair station, with tools and air, were just outside the entrance. I've never seen anything like it!

      The following day we rode our bikes on an adventurous trip to the Sundragon karate dojo, an affiliate of the Seido Karate school that we are members of. Riding on the sidewalk is legal in Austin, (except around the capitol building) and a good thing, too, because traffic was fierce.
     It was a great class and we went out for burgers afterwards with a couple of the Sundragon karate-ka. Hopefully we'll get to train together again, because they were super nice!

Senpai K.J., Laura, myself and my husband.

        When we got back to our hotel, I spent some quality time sitting by the pool, reading.

The constant turtle theme.

      We were outdoors as much as possible, as the weather was lovely. Dinner out, sitting by the pool out, and riding bikes out. The only down side is that we forgot what sun could do to you and we both came home with sunburnt faces. Ahh, but it feels good to be burnt! Now the trick is to get back into the winter lifestyle...

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Walk in the Jordaan

     Last June we visited Holland and fell in love with Dutch bikes. Now in the depths of winter, so tired of the snow and cold, I daydream about that lovely trip.
     I'd taken an early morning walk in the Jordaan neighborhood, an area near the hotel we were staying at. It had once been where the dutch working class lived and even thought it has since gentrified, it is still full of quiet charm.
     The walk was fun and the best part was that I took my camera. Come, take a walk with me...

Bikes by the canal.

Taking the early morning sun.

It's raining pets!
Tea time on the street.

Water fountain at a tiny park in the Jordaan.

The Westerkirk.
       At the end of the walk I stopped at Winkels Cafe, for a slice of the best Dutch apple pie in Amsterdam. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture, but we plan on going back and I'll be sure to take one then. Until then, I'll be dreaming of Amsterdam.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Playing with Pasta

      When it comes to having company over, the best is to have them come over and cook for you. Less work for me. This past sunday, our friends Carmina and Rebecca came over and we had them make pasta for us. Actually, we all made pasta together. It was great fun.

Mysterious Carmina and Rebecca play with pasta.
        It's easy to make pasta. All you need is a semolina flour volcano filled with olive oil,

           Or you could just pretend that it's a giraffe drinking at the oasis, as we did. Yeah, more playing with food!

   Once it's mixed up into a dough (adding warm water), run it through a pasta machine, like this one...

You can find one like this at any italian marketon Cicero ave.

     Cook the pasta...

                                                       Put sauce on it and eat it.

                                                          It's that simple!