Thursday, July 28, 2011

Finding My Happy Place

While looking for inspiration to help me with this post today, I have finally come to a realization. I need to just keep writing. No matter how long my day has been and whether or not I feel like writing, I just need to do it.

Writing has been a great outlet for me personally and professionally. Although I'm only utilizing my writing skills to craft the perfect email to my clients at work each day, I still scrutinize every word! I hope to write plenty of interesting things for my readership and don't want any of you to be bored with it.

I've always felt like a storyteller in person and have tried to hone my skills as a writer to have the same effect. Today I realized that life is about finding your "happy place". For some, that may be jogging or cooking, but for me it's as simple as posting to this blog.

I hope you've all enjoyed my work so far, and I will continue to strive for excellence in my writing with a stronger dedication to both of my blogs. It's my happy place.

Thanks to all of you who click my links and read my posts -- I feel honored to have captured (and held) your attention!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ten Guilty [Food] Pleasures in Austin

Whether you are an Austin native or planning on visiting soon, here are my ten guilty pleasures in my hometown. This will revolve around my favorite activity in this city: eating!

UPDATE: I went vegan in February 2012, so I've added my favorite vegan items to this list. 

1) Amy's Ice Cream | You can't consider yourself a true Austinite or even get the full experience without making a trip to one of their eleven location around town.
My omnivore favorite: Mexican Vanilla with almonds and strawberries. We also buy this in quarts!
Amy's doesn't have a vegan version, but another local option that's vegan is Nada Moo.

2) Torchy's Tacos | With a taco to fit every political party and interesting names for each taco, this is luckily just a couple of miles from our apartment.
My omnivore favorite(s): Trailer Park (trashy, of course!) and an order of Green Chili Queso
My vegan favorite: The Independent and Fried Avocado tacos with a side of guacamole, hold the cheese!

3) P. Terry's | Healthy fast food is their priority and there's a freshness that just can't be beat. We love it because even when money is tight, two can done for less than $10!
My omnivore favorite: Veggie Burger with fresh cut onions and a Vanilla Shake
The Veggie Burger has eggs in it, so we haven't visited again. I believe their fries are vegan friendly, and they are amazing, as well.

4) Kerbey Lane Cafe | Our first Austin apartment was conveniently located right behind one. Hungry for pancakes at 3 a.m.? No problem!
My omnivore favorite: Eggs Francisco and a short stack of Gingerbread Pancakes
My vegan favorite: Vegan Breakfast Platter with tofu scramble, soysauges, and a short stack of vegan pancakes

5) Trudy's | Their Mexican Maritini's drew us in, but their tasty Tex-Mex kept us satisfied and crawling back for more. Priced right and great portions made my happy hours more, well, HAPPY!
My omnivore favorite: Cheese enchiladas with Suiza Sauce and an order of their Queso Especial
My vegan favorite: Custom taco plate with vegan refried beans, guacamole, and fixings

6) Thundercloud Subs | Fast, fresh and healthy is their motto catch phrase. Although there are several tasty sandwiches, I can't help but stick to my faves.
My omnivore favorites: The Office Favorite and BLT
My vegan favorite: Veggie Sub on whole wheat with hummus, all the veggies, and double onions

7) Tino's Greek Cafe | I will admit that I had never tasted lamb, but once I had eaten at Tino's, this is the only place I'll ever go to satisfy my taste buds. This quaint little place keeps the meat cooking and spinning with a blast of amazing smells hitting your face upon walking in.
My omnivore favorite: Feta Salad with Lamb
No vegan options.

8) Phil's Ice House | When we lived up North, we found this little gem that serves burgers with sweet buns and tasty sweet potato fries. Once we moved down South, it was a year before they opened up their South Lamar location, much to my delight.
My omnivore favorite: Hot & Crunchy Fish Burger with a side of sweet potato fries
No vegan options.

9) Pluckers Wing Bar | Two words: TRIVIA NIGHT! Every Wednesday night, Plucker's hosts six rounds of trivia including movie lines, the nerd round and sports. I'm not great at all the rounds, so we team up with friends who have varied knowledge for a chance at gift certificates as prizes. PS - We never win, but that doesn't make it less fun.
My omnivore favorite(s): Boneless wings basket with Honey BBQ sauce, blue cheese dressing and a side of macaroni and cheese. Also amazing: fried pickles and sweet potato fries.
No vegan options.

10) Alamo Drafthouse | My preference for all of my movie viewing experiences. I love their restriction on age (18 and up only without parents) and their sense of humor. Oh, and did I mention they have amazing food?
My omnivore favorite: Greek salad (extra cup of dressing on the side, no peppers or olives) -- yes, I know I'm picky, but I feel terrible wasting those ingredients!
My vegan favorite: Veggie Burger (nearly all styles, hold the cheese and mayo) with chips and salsa

Art Imitating Life

Have you ever found one movie that truly speaks to you? I mean to where you compare every detail of your life and create links and meaning to every part of it? When I was younger, I remember taking the extremes of comparison with a little movie called Moulin Rouge.

Now before you go and start making fun of my movie choice, let me be very clear. I was in a time of my life that is completely opposite of my present one. I had no true love (my excuse: I was 15), a passion for singing broadway-style songs at the top of my lungs with music blaring from my dad's sound system from the 80s and felt very much alone.

I believe this was around nine years ago when I desperately wanted a boyfriend, true love and a movie-like life. Moulin Rouge had all of the aforementioned key elements. Like my current situation, the main character was infatuated with a love interest (Satine) who was completely unattainable.

In his quest for true love, he had crept around the squirrelly-looking financier (who thought the same woman was into him) while the dashing Ewan McGregor snatched up Nicole Kidman (Satine). Have I lost you yet?

In a story of impossible love, Satine chose the penniless writer over the wealthy financier. Then she died that same night. How horrible, right? That brought me back to reality and I realized this was not in comparison to my own life. Right when the unlikely character you rooted for the whole movie finally gets the girl, she dies of some obscure disease they vaguely mentioned throughout the film.

I wanted a boyfriend, but not that bad.