Monday, June 20, 2011

Inconsistent Blogging

One of the reasons I resisted getting a blog was the time and frequency I felt like I needed to write. Well, it's been almost two months and I feel like a slacker. But I have been doing many things around Austin, like hiking Enchanted Rock, eating German food at Fredericksburg and visiting an awesome bridge by the river. I even went and explored some of the Missions in San Antonio with my friend Naomi. I'm going to slowly add some posts covering all the activities I've done so far.

There are still quite a few outdoor activities I would like to do. I found an awesome deal to go biking on the Lady Bird Lake (yep, on the lake) and can't wait to do that. Other than that, I want to find all the springs, watering holes and places to swim. The weather has been heating up and the humidity increasing. I've decided if I'm not indoor working, I should be outside in water. So stay tuned for photos of my future and past activities. I promise to try to commit some of my computer time to blogging and not just working.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter paradise

Easter and spring just go along. There's something beautiful about walking around nature and seeing all the green, color and wildlife. For our Easter we went to Zilker Botanical Garden (which is free!!), and were amazed at this paradise that is right outside of downtown Austin.

Adrian's almost as tall as a dinosaur -- well, a plant dinosaur.
There is even a butterfly garden. We saw quite a few large ones, and blue ones.
I look like I'm in a tropical locale.
A beautiful mama tree -- and a lizard!
In the Oriental Garden.
The peaceful and beautiful Oriental Garden.
We love bamboo.
There was even a cactus garden.
Yep, all of this right outside downtown Austin.
We enjoyed some yummy Rita's Italian Ice after our stroll through paradise.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A different kind of hike

The past few weeks I have been busy getting acclimated to my new job and schedule, but I'm not one to be all work and no play. And since the weather has been a-ma-zing, we've tried to spend as much time outside on the weekends as we can.

A good representation of the trails.

Yesterday, we went with a friend of mine on a hike in the Greenbelt. The Greenbelt is just southwest of downtown and has amazing hiking and biking trails; there are even cliffs for those who want to go rock climbing. This was my first experience do anything outdoorsy in Austin. I'm still amazed at how green this area is. Hiking in Austin is quite different than the hiking I've done in the Utah mountains, but it's still just as much fun. Next time, we want to hike on the other side where there's a waterfall and we can go swimming. 
We have some other excursions planned for the next few months, especially since I've been told that now is the perfect weather to do all the outdoor activities (I believe it since yesterday was around 90 degrees with a nice breeze and what I would classify as a perfect day). It feels wonderful to know that all these activities are so close.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I love Austin!

I started my Saturday in the afternoon with no plans. All I knew is that it was a nice day and I wanted to be outside. Who knew I would be out until 2 (or 3 a.m. with DST)?

Adrian and I first headed out to the Drag (Guadalupe street right by UT) for some pearl smoothies from Coco's Cafe. Some of the first friends we met in Austin introduced us to Coco's and now Adrian and I crave their pearl drinks. I wasn't quite a fan of boba drinks until I tried their Pina Colada smoothie. Yum!! Now, I try a new flavor every time I go. I ordered a peaches and cream smoothie, Adrian a blueberry smoothie, and we headed out to walk down the street. Obviously, most of the people on the street are students, and boy do they keep getting younger. After we exhausted our drinks, we headed to a park right by the river.

I'm not sure what the park is called, but it is right across the river from downtown. There were people running, walking, canoeing and playing with their dogs. Part of the park is a dog park so the dogs were unleashed and playing with new friends. Austin is one of the top spots for dogs; I feel like pretty much every one has one (and I'm still wanting my Italian Greyhound — one day when I have time). I loved seeing the variety of dogs from the small Chihuahuas to the Great Danes. We walked up and down the river, enjoying the weather and the view.

As the sun started to go down and we got a little hungry, we decided to head over to South Congress and Home Slice for some pizza. Home Slice is one of the top pizza joints in Austin. They make awesome N.Y.-style pizza (their eggplant pizza is pretty amazing). We've gone a few times and even became friends with one of the servers. After eating, we headed off to my favorite cupcake company in Austin, Hey Cupcake. Moist cupcakes with cream cheese frosting —Yes!

While we continued checking out the artisan market and stores on South Congress, Adrian's friend called and invited us to hang out downtown on 6th street. Sixth street is a strip of bars where the local college kids and tourists congregate on the weekends. Our first experience there was Halloween when we had only been in Austin a few days; the phrase utter chaos comes to mind (OK, that might be an exaggeration). For the particularly busy weekends, the street is shut down for a few blocks and people hop from bar to bar. Why I hadn't planned on going out, I figured it was as a good a time as any to experience 6th street (Halloween doesn't count as a true experience since we walked slowly with the crowd for a couple of blocks and then went home. Way too many people for my taste.).

Even though it was only 9 p.m. when we got to 6th street, the place was already busy. In addition to the college students, people were in town for the South by Southwest Film Festival and other conferences based around the event. For the rest of the evening we hopped bar to bar meeting interesting people along the way. I did like looking at the decor and themes of the various bars (oh, the designer in me). Overall a pretty good time.

After such a busy day, Adrian and I crashed into bed and fell right asleep. What a relaxing and busy day it turned out to be. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

BBQ on a beautiful day

To celebrate my new job and getting into grad school, Adrian and I decided to celebrate by trying out the all-you-can-eat BBQ we had been hearing about at the Salt Lick in Driftwood.

Enjoying the beautiful day while waiting for a table.

The open pit where all the meat is cooked. Mmmm.

We arrived two hours after they opened and already they had a wait. This gave us a little time to check out the grounds and the open fire pit where all the meat was cooking. Before we knew it, we were seated at a picnic table and ready to order. The all-you-can-eat menu included sausage, brisket, pork ribs, coleslaw, baked beans, potato salad and bread. Our favorite is the brisket — it was so tender and the smoky taste was amazing. Next time, we want to try out the beef ribs and chicken. 

Our first plate of food.

After stuffing ourselves, and getting some blueberry and peach cobblers to go, we headed across the street to a park to take a nap and walk around. Driftwood, in addition to offering some great BBQ, is also a scenic and beautiful area. You can see the rolling hills, a river and even some stone cliffs. After waking from the perfect, relaxing nap, we decided to drive through Driftwood a little more.  Not much farther, we ran into one of multiple vineyards in the area.

The wine tasting building has an Italian feel.

We stopped by the Duchman Family Winery and learned that central Texas weather is comparable to Italy so some of the same grapes are grown in both areas. We were walking around the grounds just as the sun was setting behind some of the new grape vines. Since this first trip into the country was such a success, we're thinking on the weekends we just get in the car and drive. Who knows what we'll run into next.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Culmination of a lot of work ... and a SURPRISE!!

While putting together my graduate school application I had quite a few moments of feeling overwhelmed. In this blog, I wrote about taking the GRE, writing my Letter of Intent and, finally, actually, writing the Letter of Intent and sending off the application. This whole process was quite different than when I applied for undergraduate schools; I think because I had to be more specific about what I really want to learn and do in my future. Well, all that thinking and hard work paid off — I am accepted to the University of Texas at Austin!!

And, as if things couldn't get any better, last week when I found out about grad school, I also had an interview at an awesome company for a major opportunity. I transferred all my energy preparing for the interview and went in giving it all that I had. While afterward I felt good about the interview, the anticipation of the decision left my mind racing the next few nights. Finally, I calmed myself down enough to enjoy a restful weekend, coming to the conclusion that if it was meant to be, it would be.

When I received a call from Liaison Resources on Tuesday, I received the offer (to be a Marketing Communications Professional/Designer contract employee for Dell) calmly, though perhaps a bit stunned as well. I felt that this was the perfect opportunity for me to grow while also using my diverse skills, but until the position was confirmed mine, I still could not completely embrace this new direction in my life for fear that it may not come to fruition.

Now, my mind has been expanded as to what I can achieve. In two weeks, the direction of my life has shifted in a way I didn't even allow myself to imagine. I had been so stuck in Salt Lake City, just doing what it took to get by and not finding new opportunities to grow, that my mind had still been that way until this new job presented itself. Now I feel like I have grasped on to that same drive I had in college; I know I can do whatever I want — the future has opened up.

I am truly grateful for the guidance and help I receive from my Father in Heaven and family and friends. It's wonderful to have friends and family all across the U.S. and world who believe in me and are willing to give, even just a moment, to think about me and send prayers and good thoughts my way. Thank you all!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Follow the long line

This morning, while running some errands in Round Rock, we drove past a donut shop with long lines out the door and in the drive through. I had never heard of Round Rock Donuts, but Adrian said, wherever there's a long line at a restaurant, stop and try it out -- so we did. I may have gone a little overboard, ordering a dozen mixed variety and a couple sausage kolaches, but I needed to try them all to choose a favorite.

From all the taste testing I put myself through, I would say my favorite are the fruit variety, whether center filled or filled. I've never tasted such authentic fruit flavors on a pastry before. The cherry, raspberry, apricot and pineapple were all amazing. Also, the sausage kolaches were quite scrumptious. The sausage stuffed with jalepenos and cheese was just the right amount of spicy.

The bakery shop has an illustrious history and is touted as a piece of Texas history. I'm excited to have stumbled across such a great shop. We'll be back, especially since I missed a few varieties of donuts in my taste testing and I can't have an unfinished study. Gotta be thorough!