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The latest

School started. Kicked. My. Ass.

Actually it’s not that bad, but tell my anxiety that. I’m feeling more confident as I just finished my first major assignment, but talk to me at 11pm tomorrow night when I get home from round 2. There’s also this infernal thing called APA formatting that was designed specifically to drive me insane. I’m currently printing out a 35 page manual on how to use the software that’s supposed to do it for me. Also insomnia not helping. Still, I think it may be a good experience in the end. I like my classmates, I think it will be a good group to work with.

Shaun is in Brazil and has started his own blog. You must check it out. The boy is funny.

Austin Food Bytes – Coffee, Part Deux: Southside

Austin Food Bytes
Coffee, Part Deux: Southside

In the dead of winter, when it’s dark and cold, uh, or warm and sunny outside, I find I especially need that extra jolt of caffeine to keep going. There are some great cafes south of the lake that help me keep on keepin’ on.

Jo’s Hot Coffee
300 S. Congress
Austin 78704
Hours: Monday, 7am-6pm; Tuesday-Friday, 7am-9pm; Saturday, 7am-10pm; Sunday, 7am-9pm

Jo’s is more than a coffee house. It’s a community center. And it’s actually not a house, it’s a stand with covered seating. Jo’s offers a range of coffee and tea beverages, and also beer. They’ve got a good menu of sandwiches and other nibbles. It’s a great place to have a cup and people watch the shoppers on
South Congress Ave. They also offer outdoor movies on Thursdays during the warm months.

Green Muse Cafe
519 W Oltorf St
Austin, TX 78704-5447
(512) 912-7789

Green Muse Café is hard to spot if you don’t know where it is. Between the pawn shop and the gas station on Oltorf, just east of the South First intersection, you might recognize it by the mural on the wall. Once found, it is not easily forgotten. Green Muse has great coffee and tea, and an excellent selection of panini, salads and home made baked goods. They have a beautiful patio in the back that features occasional live music and performance. I especially recommend the Eshta! Middle Eastern Dance show, second Fridays at 7:30 during the warm months.

Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse
1501 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78705
7am-12am; Sat-Sun 9am-12am

Bouldin Creek is a fun little spot. They have a big back deck, and varied seating inside. They specialize in vegetarian fare, I highly recommend the “El Tipico” breakfast with scrambled tofu. The baked oatmeal is also awesome. If you’re not in the mood for coffee, the ginger lemonade is really tasty and refreshing. Bouldin Creek occasionally features art shows, and you’ll often see jewelry vendors on the weekends.

My Favorite Blogs

Whenever I need a brain break I browse these sites:

Stuff on My Cat
Where else can you see people dressing up or putting things on their cats? Not to be missed.

Hiss and Tell
This funny lady from down under writes a wicked funny blog. And I mean wicked, i.e. some adult content.

Homestarrunner Wiki
Okay, it’s not a blog, it’s a wiki. Here I can find out at a glance if my favorite cartoon site has updated any time in the last 30 seconds.

Nancy’s Notes
Yes, my mom is a blogger. She just started it to chronicle her recent trip to Japan. Check it.

Cute Overload
Cute pictures of cute animals being incredibly cute.

Austin Food Bytes
Harmony is Restored

Now that we’ve spent some time contemplating differences in culinary style between genders, let’s bring it all back together and feature some restaurants and activities that can be enjoyed by both.

Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill
Moonshine is truly the best of both worlds. The décor is a cross between a southwestern ski lodge and a fancy restaurant. The bar is built in an old carriage house, and has some excellent drinks. Moonshine specializes in kicked-up versions of down-home classics. Macaroni and Cheese becomes Green Chile Macaroni, with grilled chicken, corn relish and green chile cream. Apple pie is cooked in a skillet and served with maple ice cream. Entrée prices range from $10-$20.

Central Market Cooking School
When you think of cooking classes, you might remember your home economics teacher – mine taught us how to make pizzas using biscuit dough. Not very exciting. Or you might think of Julia Childs – elaborate continental recipes using all sorts of techniques and tools with names you can’t pronounce. Or maybe Emeril Lagasse – a loud, charismatic chef who yells “Bam!” way too much and seems to have twelve arms and can somehow execute five dishes in 40 minutes.

At Central Market, cooking school has been packaged to fit anyone and everyone’s cooking style and level. If you’d like to impress your date with something different, take a wine tasting class. You will sample six wines with accompanying cheeses, and they also provide you with a light dinner. Or, you can take any number of hands-on classes, where you can learn anything from how to prepare sushi to how to care for and use your cooking knives. The bulk of the classes are taught in classroom style, the cook talks and prepares food, and the class gets to sample medium size portions of each dish at the end. Wine is always served with dinner, and a variety of other beverages. Two caveats: always bring a sweater – they keep the room pretty cold, and make reservations far in advance – classes fill up quickly.

Stay tuned – I’ll be featuring Central Market Cooking School more in future articles.

Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill
303 Red River

Central Market Cooking School
North Lamar at 40th St.

lots of ranting, very little raving

I have a big problem with Austin’s city college. To take a class, I had to bring in my college diplomas to be xeroxed to prove I didn’t need to take an English and Math entrance exam. This was maybe three years ago. I was eventually allowed to register for the dance class I was taking for self-improvement. The next semester they wouldn’t let me register again because they claimed I had to take the entrance exams. They had lost my records. Lovely. Eventually, after many, many calls to the registration office, I convinced someone to take the hold off my registration.

I ‘ve been attempting to sign up for the same class again this week. First they said my address info was incomplete. So I filled out a form and faxed it with a copy of my driver’s license. They took that hold off, and put another one on for an address change form, since I just moved. So I filled that out and faxed it.

An actual person called me to inform me that a driver’s license was not a valid form of identification. Of course. Maybe a chewing gum wrapper with my name scribbled on it would work? Perhaps if my address was inscribed on dried yak hide that had been cured in the fireplace of a Tibetan monk under a vow of silence? No, I have to submit a copy of a lease, utility bill or property tax statement with my name on it to prove I live at the new address. But since my new address is my boyfriend’s house, I don’t have any of those things. So she tells me that it’s fine, all I have to do is come in to the office, get another form, have my boyfriend fill it out and HAVE IT NOTARIZED, and return it to the office. This so I can take a freaking dance class for $50.

At this point I pretty much hung up on her, having decided that my brain was going to explode and start leaking out my ears if the conversation did not end quickly.

Anyone who’s read Good Omens by Neil Gaiman would immediately recognize this as the work of Satan.

How does this school stay afloat? I’ve heard from teachers there that they routinely lose paychecks. One time I registered for my dance class, and got placed in Fencing. The teacher insisted that I had been in his class.

In stark contrast, the grad school I’m going to be attending has been helpful, friendly and incredibly easy to deal with. Maybe they offer a belly dance class. Or maybe I will.

*Update* – it seems there was an additional step I missed.
from ACC:

Heather, I believe you spoke to a staff member at our Northridge campus. Because you have an address hold on your record, we need to have documentation as to your current address. I’m sure it was explained to you that if you do not have a bill in your name at your current address, you could provide an Affidavit of Residential address which includes the form filled out and notarized by the owner of the property plus the property tax statement provided by the owner. The original form and property tax statement needs to be turned into any campus Admissions. We do not take faxes.

Austin Food Bytes – Ladies who Lunch

Austin Food Bytes
Ladies who Lunch
By Michelann Oster

Last week the boys got their say, this week it’s all about the ladies. Lunching or brunching with a girlfriend or girlfriends has been an important ritual for me since college. When I was in school in San Francisco, there were a number of genteel little cafes and restaurants, perfect for a leisurely lunch, extended brunch or afternoon tea. I’ve searched long and hard to find similar places here in Austin.

A Ladies’ Lunch spot has to meet several criteria:

  • The food must be excellent
  • The atmosphere must be pleasant and not rushed
  • It must be the kind of place that would make your husband or boyfriend feel significantly out of his element

34th Street Café
This unassuming little restaurant hides some of the better food in town. Beautiful salads, gourmet sandwiches and lovely pastries abound. The décor is eclectic, but bright, fresh and clean. It gets a little crowded at lunch, so go early or late if you don’t want to feel too packed in.

Hyde Park Grill
If you’re more in the mood for some comfort food, then Hyde Park Grill is the place. The décor is comfortable, lighting is sedated. Many of the tables are tucked away in various corners, making it easy to sit back, relax, and enjoy a long conversation over a great meal and maybe a glass of wine. My favorite dishes include the french fries with cheddar cheese sauce (they’re famous for these), the Asian Chicken Salad, and for dessert, Won Kim’s Peach Pudding. A steamed sweet cake with peaches, soaked in cream, this dessert is worth every single calorie.

Cafe Bistro at Nordstrom
This week I’m breaking one of my cardinal restaurant review rules. I’m including a national chain – but only because it’s so damn good. The café at Nordstrom is on the second floor. You often have to stand in line for a short time, then you order at the counter and are seated and waited on hand and foot. The décor is pleasant but bland, and sometimes the music is a bit too soft jazz for me, but otherwise it’s a great choice. The service is good, the food is invariably wonderful. I especially like the pizzas and the white chocolate bread pudding. They have an excellent selection of salads as well. The two most bonding activities women can share are eating and shopping, and you can do both at the Cafe Bistro.

34th Street Café
1005 West 34th Street
Lunch Hours:
M-F 11 AM
Sat 11 AM – 4 PM

Hyde Park Bar & Grill
4206 Duval St
(512) 458-3168
Daily 11am-12am

Nordstrom Café Bistro
(512) 691-3500
2901 Capital of Texas Hwy South
M-Sat 10:00 – 9:00 Sun 12:00 – 6:00

Further Condensing

I condensed almost all of my pictures into one album, and almost all of my opera career into one scrapbook*. I’ve been pretty brutal about getting rid of stuff. I have one box of keepsakes left, everything opera has been relegated to a keepsake, and decor that doesn’t fit me anymore but I have some sentimental attachment to. I put all the sheet music on the bottom shelf of one of the two bookcases I can squeeze in my office. This is pretty major.

Moving in went without a hitch. Couches were moved, bedroom furniture installed. David’s place looks much homier now, and it seems as if I could have crammed all my junk into one of the FOUR walk in closets, if I’d wanted to. Maybe with a little overflow into the additional two closets and fourteen hundred cabinets and drawers. Of course now I’m in nesting mode and seem to be finding myself at Target every evening perusing closet organizers and drawer lining. I’ll let you know when I perfect my system.

*It was bad enough that someone could have seen me in the scrapbook aisle at Target, I despise the so called art of scrapbook. But the actual process is completely insane. You have this leatherette bound book with twenty layers of binding crap, and weird little screws and nuts and washers and extensions that you have to fit together to bind your pages in. Has anyone ever heard of the THREE RING BINDER? Totally humiliating. Plus I had extra pieces of binding and screw thingies left over, so that can’t be good. I, who am totally handy with the screws and the cordless drill and even a little jigsaw, and I’m defeated by a freaking scrapbook. The rise in popularity of scrapbooking is one of the signs of the apocalypse.