Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Internet inspiration

I have a bit of an obsession with The Black Apple.
My place is covered with her artwork.
She writes an awesome blog too where she posts about her art, stuff she bakes, decorating, and just all around interesting things she is up to.

And if that wasn't enough, she has a fashion blog (which currently also has a large amount of posts dedicated to old children's books)

Any etsy seller(s) you are particular to?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Feeling Fancy?

Hello, internet!
Long time, no talk.

Apologies for the lack of updates, but my husband's mom and grandmother were in town and most of my time away from work was spent with them gorging ourselves on food. I think I've gained 15 lbs. this week alone! And you'll see why in several of my upcoming posts.

First we'll start off with the loveliness that is Walton's Fancy and Staple. My mother-in-law is a big fan of Sandra Bullock, so of course we had to take her to Walton's since it is owned by her.
I love going here for the desserts, although the sandwiches are fabulous as well. The decor is quaint and welcoming. Its the perfect place to get dressed up and eat cake with your favorite friends.

For lunch I had the Caprese sandwich, which has pesto, basil, mozzarella, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.
Although the sandwiches are very filling, we could not pass up the opportunity to go back to the counter and choose dessert.
The bee cakes were so cute I had to take a picture. 
I ended up getting the chocolate mousse while the rest got cupcakes (one carrot cake and one chocolate mint)
 Apart from food, Walton's also has a florist who you can buy custom and signature arrangements from. They also sell French soaps and other fun items. 
If a particular dessert strikes your fancy, I suggest going earlier in the day, as they can get pretty popular around lunch time, although I have been later in the evening and been happy with the selection availability.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday Shopping Haul

Sunday newspapers = new weekly ads + new coupon inserts.

Using coupons plus CVS bucks from last week I was able to get:
Lysol disinfecting wipes
Lysol neutra air
Air wick aqua mist x2
bottle of Purex natural laundry detergent
Alive women's vitamins
Olay Regenerist Eye Roller
Skintamite shave cream
Nivea for Men shower wash/shampoo/shave cream

price paid: $22.05
savings: $47.91
Plus I got $31 in CVS bucks back
The girl at the register said "That's amazing!" when all the bucks started printing out.

I'll probably donate about half of what I bought today to the shelter. I don't know if they'll take vitamins, and  the Nivea for Men probably isn't good for a women's shelter.

Here are some good deals at CVS this week if you want to do some shopping of your own
If you want to get started in couponing, the first thing you should do is buy/obtain somehow a Sunday paper each week. Grocery coupon guide also has some good suggestions on how you might be able to go about getting coupon inserts for free, if you are willing to do the legwork.

Burgers and 'bagos

I am ashamed to admit that after spending the majority of my life in Austin, yesterday was the first time that I have ever eaten at Hut's Hamburgers.
I understand if you are so repulsed by my confession that you stop reading here and now.

But for those of you who are willing to overlook that small flaw in my life, I am happy to report that I have eaten at Hut's, and it was delicious.

I gorged myself on their All American Buddy Holly burger (with a veggie patty) and veggie chili cheese fries. I think I would have liked a little more cheese on them, but they were otherwise completely satisfying.

After lunch my husband and I headed down to Antonelli's Cheese Shop. We have had very bad luck with finding authentic British cheeses here in Austin. Several times I have gotten excited after finding a double gloucester or a red leicester only to be severely disappointed after trying them. My husband was starting to give up hope, but then I heard about Antonelli's and surprised him by taking him there. Several great things about the shop:
1. They know their cheese. They stock a variety of cheeses that changes frequently, so although they didn't have the two specific cheeses my husband loves, they were able to recommend cheeses that would be similar.
2. You can taste before you buy. No more wasting chunks of cheese after one slice when you discover it is barely edible. They offered us tastes of many of the cheeses, even offering to let us try more after we had already decided what we wanted.
3. Friendly, personal service. They really took the time to talk with you, suggest items, and share their passion for cheese. They can also keep a list of cheeses you have bought so if you come back in the future and are like 'I think I had a cheddar of some sort....?' they can know exactly what it was to best serve you.
For us we went with an English clothbound cheddar, but it was a tough choice between that and a Swiss cheese. I'm sure we'll be back, especially since I was eyeing up the Parmiggiano Reggiano.

After a quick stop at home to put the cheese in the fridge, we checked out our neighborhood's new library which opened a couple weeks ago. The building itself is pretty awesome with a rainwater harvesting system, solar panels, and lights that dim themselves where there is adequate daylight. I got to check out a recent Danny Wallace book (who is one of my favorite authors) along with a couple other books I have been wanting to read. My husband also got his very first American library card. ~*So proud*~ lol

In the evening we were going to go out dancing with some friends at my favorite club, until we realized that one person in our group was only 20. The night was saved, though, by the Alamo Drafthouse where we saw the documentary Winnebago Man.
At one point or another a lot of you may have seen the outtakes of a Winnebago film with an angry man swearing and ranting in take after take after take.

Obviously, clip is NSFW due to language.

Well, a filmmaker loved the clip and started to wonder "who was this man? what made his day so bad? is he aware of his internet fame? what does he think about it?" and set out to find him.

The film is funny and endearing, and I'm really glad we ended up seeing it instead of going out dancing because I don't know that I would have watched it otherwise. A+

*whew* that was a long summary of my Saturday. Hope your weekend was well!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

So this is what a tropical storm is like, eh?

It's been raining.
And raining.
And raining.

Having lived in Wales for several years, I don't really mind the rain so much. Tornado warnings are another story... I HATE severe weather.
radar screenshot taken from kxan.com/subindex/weather

Everything was fine and dandy with good ol' Tropical Storm Hermine. Until this evening. She decided to start up the lightning. And the thunder. And the tornado reports. And, most fun of all, I hear a *drip* *drip* *drip* coming from the closet near our bathroom  which houses (I believe) our hot water heater. Great. Best of all as I looked around at the several places I see water coming in from the roof, I notice that they choose to run water straight down onto a switch. A switch that says on.
So I taped a plastic bag over it. And have taped a bowl below it. And don't feel like I can go to bed because I have to make sure to empty it because the tape holding it in place isn't very strong.
Exhibit A:

And if that wasn't enough - there is also water coming in through the window in our bedroom. So I have been changing towels out and trying to make sure water doesn't get anywhere else.
I don't see an emergency number for our property management anywhere, so all I could do is submit a repair request form online.

I think it may be a long night...


Monday, September 6, 2010

Strategic Shopping

With the popularity of sites like Groupon, using coupons and getting deals is becoming cool again. Still, I don't know how many younger people would feel hip doing their grocery shopping from a list with an envelope of coupons.

Lately I've been reading several personal finance blogs that give strategies for doing your grocery shopping with coupons, and I've gotten hooked on working out the best deals I can. I never really cared for math in school. In fact, my worst grades were in math and science classes, but there is something addicting about working out how to get stuff with little or no money out of pocket.

One of the blogs that I've really taken an interest in told how a guy was able to eat for less than $1 a day of 100 days and even donate hundreds of dollars worth of food to his local food pantry using coupons. You can read the series here. He also has a website about using coupons to donate loads of stuff to food banks. I don't know that I'd ever be comfortable buying 100 of the same product with the same coupon to get stuff free, but I admire *why* he is doing it. After using some of his and other sites' methods  for the last several months to stock my cabinets with soaps, shampoos, razors, laundry detergent, etc. I decided it was time to put this to use to help someone other than myself. Last night I looked at the wish list for a local women's shelter to see what most needed items were, and what CVS had on sale that matched up with recent coupons.
Today armed with a stack of coupons I was able to buy $70* worth of stuff for $19.70 out of pocket, but I received $17 back in CVS dollars.

*I do feel that CVS' prices are higher than regular grocery stores, so the real total savings is probably a bit off from the $53 saved on the bottom of my receipt. Also I probably won't be donating all the candy bars, but my total came under what it needed to be to use a $10 off coupon, so I had to scramble at the register to bring the total up in order to bring it down, if that makes sense.

I have some razors, soaps and other toiletries as well that I have put aside to take to the shelter.

I will do a post later with more of the personal finance sites that I like, along with some methods of getting started with coupons.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Everyone could use a Sugar Mama

There are some places that I drive by often and think to myself "I should check that place out" but never get around to it.

Until yesterday Sugar Mama's Bakeshop was one of those places. It is nearby, and I've checked out their website several times, but I just hadn't ever made the (small) journey there.

After spending a good chunk of yesterday cleaning my place I decided that a cupcake sounded like a good treat. What really sealed the deal was how yesterday was one of the nicer, cooler days we've had in weeks, so it was comfortable to walk there in the evening.

We got there about 45 minutes from when they closed, and they were completely sold out of cupcakes. Apparently you have to get there early in the day to get the best selection, but I was happy anyway. I got a peanut butter pie that I don't see listed on their website to direct you to, but it was delicious. My husband got a lemon bar which he said after eating it he felt like he had eaten half a jar of lemon curd (which is a good thing in his opinion!).

I took about half of mine home, because it was a little hard to break the chocolate with a plastic fork.

Hungry yet?

The place was nicely decorated, and even had cute aprons on the wall that were for sale.

I will need to remember to go early the next time I visit so I can try one of their cupcakes... or one of their "frosting shots" which are little cups of frosting with sprinkles and a little spoon. Cute!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Machete don't text

I wore this dress for the first time on Thursday evening to the Austin premier of Machete at the Paramount Theatre.
 I got it at Forever21 several month ago, but hadn't found a good reason to wear it until now. I paired it with green shoes from Topshop that are ever so slightly too big for me so I had to stuff tissues in the toes so my
feet would not slide out all night. (Excuse the mess on the floor, but it has been a busy week, and I hadn't gotten around to straightening up. The living room is much cleaner today though!)

A fair amount of the cast showed up, since it was filmed in Austin and a lot of the minor characters are local.
It almost seemed like a little LOST reunion because Michelle Rodriguez and Jeff Fahey were both in the film and in attendance, but Ken Leung (Miles Straume on the show) was also randomly there. My pictures from the red carpet arrivals aren't very good because my camera was not being cooperative. For example:
Oh look! It's a blurry picture of Michelle Rodriguez having her picture taken by someone else.

The movie was really entertaining, and it was fun to watch Austin displayed prominently in another film, although they made it seem like it was mostly full of either illegal Mexican immigrants or conservative, money-hungry, right-wingers. I could overlook all that though, because it's not as though the film was setting out to be super realistic - just super awesome!

The cast and Robert Rodriguez did a Q&A afterward which was interesting to listen to, but I couldn't help but think about several of the women "I've now seen you naked." We also learned interesting movie maker tips such as the best sound effects to mimic the cell of a lady pulling a cell phone out her hoo-ha.

After the premier we headed to the afterparty at Austin Studios. It was supposed to be 'stunt filled' but nothing really happened in the hour we were there. Most of the vehicles from a prominent sequence in the film were out for people to take pictures with or admire.

There was also loads of free beer about, but I had to be responsible and not have any since A) I was driving and B) had to be at work early the next morning.

Jeff Fahey, Ken Leung, and Robert Rodriguez were about being social, but I didn't see Danny Trejo or Michelle Rodriguez mingling while we were there.

All in all it was a good experience, but I think the party would have been more fun if it was on a weekend.
Robert Rodriguez said that he had just flown in from Venice, missed him plane in Houston, had to rent a car to be back in Austin for the premier AND was starting filming Spy Kids 4 the next day. So I felt really lazy compared to him. I wish I had that stamina.