Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Finally, An Update!

Ok, we finally had a semi-relaxing weekend and I'm finally feeling decidedly less sleep deprived and slightly less busy, so it's time for a recap of our last few weekends!  On Saturday, September 20th we held our 2nd Annual Oktoberfest party and true to form, I barely took any pictures.  And the ones I did take were all of the set up and none during the actual party.  But you can kind of get a feel for it!  Prep work on the party started the Sunday before when I made the Federweisser wine.  We hit up the grocery store for supplies during the week.  I made the cheese dip on Thursday.  And Friday evening after work is when the real cooking frenzy began.  I made the dough for the Zwiebelkuchen, the doomed Kugelhoff (the damn dough never rose - huge fail), the strudel filling, and the German potato salad. 
We also put up our decorations on Friday night!  I printed out about 90 pictures of the highlights from our Germany trip last year and we stuck them up all over the walls in the front room and the hallway.  It was so much fun to reminisce!  I also broke out the blue checked table cloths from last year and the blue crepe paper streamers for some extra festiveness.
S's awesome idea was to put up a map with our route through Germany on it.  We traced it out in hot pink marker and made boxes around all of the towns/cities we stopped in.  Not shown here, S also hung up his speeding ticket from our short stay in Stuttgart - whoops!
On Saturday we kicked into even higher gear.  I remade the Zwiebelkuchen dough (another fail from the night before - I wasn't doing so well at this point) and also whipped up some quick Pfeffernusse German spice cookies to replace the failed Kugelhoff on the desert table (seen in the top picture on the cake tray - they were so tasty).  While I did this, S hung up some wood shelves that were previously the bookcase in my last few houses in the dining room and I styled them up with more mementos of our Germany trip.  I then proceeded to fill and bake the strudel (phylo dough is a bitch to work with...), and make the Schwarzwald Torte (black forest cake), which was my pride and joy of the entire party.  Damn that was a beautiful (and delicious) cake!
We set out trays of pretzels and chips for snacking, set up the kitchen island as food central with beer boiled brats, mustards galore, warm soft pretzels, the Zwiebelkuchen, and the German potato salad and got that party started!  Throughout the night we had a total of 45 party goers in the house!  The cheese dip was gone within an hour, we went through over 1 gallon of the homemade Federweisser wine,  the Zwiebelkuchen rocked my and everyone else's world (definitely putting it into my regular dinner rotation), and by the end of the night we were out of beer and our makeshift dining room table (a folding table with a table cloth over it) had been shanghaied out to the garage for beer pong.  We ended the night with a hysterical game of Cards Against Humanity and finally headed to bed sometime around 3 am.  Definitely a successful party!  The next day we were just a little hunger and a lot exhausted.
That week I was on console at work, plus we had a SpaceX Dragon capsule arrive at the ISS, as well as a Soyuz capsule carrying the next batch of ISS crew members so I was quite busy.  But no time to relax the following weekend, though, because we were Austin bound!  Friday night we went to NXNW brewery and restaurant followed by a late showing of This is Where I Leave You at the Alamo Drafthouse.  It was fun, but we got back in pretty late.  The following morning we got up early to meet S's cousin J and her husband C for breakfast at Tacodeli, followed by a leisurely walk through a farmer's market where I picked up some mushroom flavored pasta and wonky looking yellow zucchini.  This was my first time meeting J and C and we had such a lovely time with them and their adorably little baby boy.  We then headed out to explore the South Lamar area a bit including Moss Consignment shop (I got a funky Marni blouse and a buttery soft blue leather jacket), Henri's Cheese shop (yum), Lick Ice Creams (double yum), and Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company.  At this point we were exhausted, so we headed back to S's aunt's house for a quick nap and then met up later that evening with my friend and former roomie R and her boyfriend T.  We had a delicious dinner at Michi Ramen (their blueberry infused saki was so good) and then drinks at Corner Bar
The next day we met up with R and T again for brunch and then headed over toward Barton Springs to test out their new drone.  S definitely had some fun piloting the little camera outfitted helicopter-like vehicle around while R and T kept cringing every time he got a little too close to electrical wires. 
After playing around in the park, we headed down to the actual springs area of Barton Springs (FINALLY!  I've been wanting to check this out forever!)  We didn't pay to get into the nice section, as we only had about 45 minutes to hang out.  So we hung out with all of the dog owners on the free, rocky side of the fence and decided that we would definitely be coming back one of these days to lounge for a few hours on the pretty, grassy side of the fence too.  The weather was gorgeous, the water was cool and refreshing, and the people watching was awesome.
After Barton Springs, at S's request, we went to check out the new Chive offices in Austin.  We toured the owners of the website and their family around JSC about 2 years ago and so S was excited to get a tour of their new workspace.  He was obsessed with the fact that they had a huge tv, pool table, and full bar with beer taps in the office.  I was obsessed with the design features including Platner chairs, Banksy artwork, and incredible lighting.  We both took the opportunity to act like kids and use the inter-office slide rather than the stairs on our way down.  It was definitely a fun little stop over before we headed over to the W hotel for the entire reason we'd made the trip to Austin that weekend:
The Cochon Heritage BBQ event to which we had splurged on tickets.  It was a huge food event focused on using heritage pigs to create a six course tasting meal.  A number of well-known chefs from both the Austin and Houston areas were there to participate or compete.  There was also a pig butchery demonstration after which the meat was auctioned off and the proceeds went towards charity. 
Our favorite dishes of the night were probably the ribs from Killen's here in Houston (the meat just melted in our mouths), a strawberry dish topped with a super thin strip of pork fat, and a delicious pork and bean dish. But everything, including the many other pork dishes, all of the free beer, cider, and whiskey, the cheese offerings from Antonelli's Cheese shop, and the Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream mini ice cream cones at the end of the event were all wonderful.  We drove back to Houston that night quite happily stuffed to the gills.
So after two crazy busy weekends in a row, last week we were definitely dragging.  We kept things low key during the week.  On Friday, S's nephew came over to stay with us for the night and we made tacos for dinner, played a bunch of games together afterwards (Dominion was the favorite) until after midnight, and the following morning whipped up some egg sandwiches for breakfast.  That afternoon we went to our friends J and Iv's baby shower.  It was Dr. Seuss themed and the party planners did an incredible job on the decorations!
Just check out the details on that cake!!!  After the baby shower we snuck home for a quick nap (we still hadn't really had an opportunity to catch up on sleep yet) and then after a power nap headed into town for dinner with our good friend N and H at Andes Cafe (the ceviche was awesome) and drinks at a new wine and whiskey bar downtown, Public Services.  On Sunday we FINALLY got a chance to sleep in, followed by putting up a batch of chili in the crock pot, running a handful of errands, and then having S's family over for dinner to belatedly celebrate his parents' birthdays.  While we did keep busy, I think we also finally feel like we had a chance to at least partially catch up on sleep as well.

Well, that's it for now!  We're going to take it easy this week too and coming up this weekend - S's birthday!  I'll try to do a better job of keeping up with blog posts now too...

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