28 November 2009

SXSW09: The Journey Home

We hit the road for home yesterday afternoon. It was so hard to say good bye, but we wrenched ourselves away and set the GPS for Memphis.

It is a long, flat drive through East Texas and Arkansas. The highway is dotted with ranches and Walmarts and that's about it. So it was quite exciting to cross the bridge over the Mississippi river and arrive in the city of Memphis. Our hotel was right downtown and our room was on a high floor of the hotel so we had a great city view.

Almost immediately upon check in Zoe and I got our bathing suits on and went to seek out the indoor pool. The pool room had 2 walls of floor to ceiling windows with another nice view of the city. The pool itself was big and wonderfully warm. Zoe and I swam until we were exhausted and then went back up to the room and flopped happily into bed.

This morning we went to The Arcade Restaurant which is an old diner kind of place that claims to be the oldest cafe in Memphis. We found the place by accident on last year's trip and the memory of their delicious beignets was more than enough to entice us back. The restaurant is a few blocks from Beale St. in what looks to be an arty area. Zoe really didn't notice the food, but she was quite enamored with the painted parking meters. I have pictures on my camera which I'll post when I get home.

From Memphis we set a course for the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO. Details on that to come.

- Posted from the road

27 November 2009

SXSW Tour 09: Turkey Week Wrap Up

It's hard to believe we're already on the road home, but before I start posting about the return trip, I should sum up 6 days in Dallas.

It was terrific to be with our friends and everyone took up right where they left off last time we were all together. It felt like we barely saw our daughters as they were so busy playing the whole time, they barely paid any attention to us grown-ups. That was a fine arrangement for us all!

As any trip to Dallas should be, the week was filled with good food and good shopping. I had two delicious Tex-Mex lunches including one at my favorite place, Mi Cocina. If you're ever in Dallas, I highly recommend a meal there. The restaurant's proximity to the Tory Burch and Cole Hahn stores is an added bonus. The shopping at Northpark Mall is my favorite in Dallas though. Karen and I did some damage at Sephora and we got new Kate Spade iPhone cases.

Dallas has a wonderful thing -- a drop-off childcare center that is open until 10pm on weeknights. This meant that we were able to go out for a really nice dinner at Cafe R+D without having to bring coloring or order anyone chicken nuggets. The Bellinis there along with all the food were fantastic.

And then I participated in my first Thanksgiving meal cooking. Karen and I made everything together from the turkey to the ice cream. In addition to those things, our meal included corn pudding, baked sweet potatoes, green beans, salad with home made dressing, corn muffins, biscuits, stuffing and 2 kinds of chocolate chip cookies. The only thing we bought were the cupcakes from Sprinkles. Truthfully I mostly cooked the desserts and bread items and Karen did the turkey, stuffing, etc. It was a pretty fair division of labor, but I still can't say I actually cooked a turkey. I was very glad I have been working on my cooking skills this year!

It was one of the more relaxing Thanksgiving Days that I can ever remember. We ended the day in our pajamas watching movies. I can't remember the last time I did that with friends.

It was very hard to leave today, but we have some road adventures to look forward to in Memphis, St. Louis, and Columbus.

22 November 2009

SXSW Tour 09: Day 3

Well, we made it! It's great to be back in Dallas. I know it has been a year, but in a way it feels like we were just here the other day. Zoe and Samantha ran right off to play as soon as we arrived which was wonderful to see. Rob and Ashton are hiding and talking about going to the shooting range (thinking we don't know what they're talking about) while Karen and I are making our own plans for the week. All is as it should be.

Before I settle into our stay here I just wanted to share this one last list...

Things we've seen on the road that you would never see in Connecticut:

Letty's Beauty salon and coin laundry

Get-n-Geaux (gas station quick mart)

Crawfish Tackle Box (@Popeyes drive thru)

Biscuitville Restaurant

Ranches with horses and cattle -- one even had camels

Aligator farms

Billboard advertising $990 cremations

And here's a picture of Zoe and Samantha. Reunited and it feels so good.

- Posted from my iPhone

21 November 2009

SXSW Tour 2009: Day 2

Today has been a great day, but also very long. We have just about reached our hotel for the night and I must say I am ready to get out of the car. Meanwhile here are observations from the road:

There's a whole lotta nothing much of Alabama and Mississippi -- at least in terms of what can be observed from the road.

Atlanta looks like a great city. We spent about an hour at the Underground and then drove around. I would love to go back and see more.

LaZboy furniture is much more popular than I realized. There has probably been one store for every 2 Wal-marts.

There was a big Clemson football game today. Fans go all out decorating their cars. It's amazing!

People in the south are so friendly. It is so unusual coming from the Northeast where everyone is in too much of a rush to be that friendly.

Mullets are still alive and well as a popular style in some places.

And while we spent much of today's ride listening to an audio book, Zoe spent her time with the portable DVD player looking like this;

And after spending the night in Jackson, MS tonight, tomorrow we make it to Dallas!

- Posted from the road

20 November 2009

SXSW Tour 2009: Day 1

Thanks to my iPhone I am blogging while we ride.

We left CT around 7:00 this morning which was only an hour later than we had planned. (Mornings are tough for Rob.). Luckily it is Friday so the morning traffic out of NY wasn't too bad. Coffee and egg sandwiches from Starbucks fueled us all the way to Silver Springs, MD where we made our first stop. Interesting place, Silver Springs. From what little I saw it looks to be undergoing yuppification. That's not all bad or all good, but there were some nice shops and restaurants in one area so we were able to have a nice lunch and meander a bit.

Back in the car we pressed on to Charlottesville, VA. (Emily, please don't tell your parents we were there and didn't stop by to say hello.). After my brief visit there this summer, I wanted to stop so Rob could see the downtown Mall. It just so happened that they were lighting the Christmas tree tonight so things were bustling with music and activity. We walked around, Zoe talked us into buying her a stuffed animal, we had coffees and it was all very nice. I wish we could have spent more time in one of the awesome used bookstores, but used bookstores and 7 year olds are not generally a good combo. Rob said he would have liked 2 hours in the bookstore follwed by 2 hours in the coffee place to read, but alas we also had to get back on the road. Just as we were leaving we saw this cool book chair. Doesn't look too comfortable, but it would be an excellent addition to a library room!

So now we're on our way to Greensboro, NC where we will be spending the night. Tomorrow will be the really long day of driving so we need to get a good night's sleep.

More soon from points south.

- Posted from the road

19 November 2009

SXSW2 Tour 2009

Tomorrow morning will be the start of our 2nd annual South-by-southwest roadtrip. Our final destinatio will be Dallas, TX but we are hoping to make some interesting stops along the way.

Don't worry, I plan to keep you posted as well as keeping very good track of Eeyore.

10 November 2009

Have you seen this? Make Your Own Jeans

What is one of the hardest things to shop for? Bathing suits of course, but second to that is jeans! Imagine if you could have your own custom made pair without it costing an arm and a leg -- wouldn't that be fabulous? Well, now you can at Makeyourownjeans.com.

A number of years ago Levi's did this, but the options were very limited, but now on Makeyourownjeans.com you get so many options it is actually overwhelming. The jeans are made using 7 different measurements that you provide. You choose the type of denim, including options for stretch, weight, and color. You can also personalize them even more by choosing embroidery, buttons, rivets, pockets, patches, rips, washes, and thread color. Like I said, the number of choices is overwhelming.

And most of the jeans cost around $50!

I haven't ordered my own pair yet, but that is only because I have to do all the measuring stuff and I can't decide what I want. I will let you know what I think when I do order.

The only criticism is for the site itself. They desperately need the help of traciedesigns!

05 November 2009

B is for Bathtub

In college I lived in apartment that was the third floor of a house that had seen many better days. The place was kind of dumpy, the furniture was falling apart and it was hellish walking up the stairs just to get to the door, but there was one beautiful feature and that was the enormous claw foot bathtub. It was close to 6 feet long and maybe 2 feet deep. My roommate and very excellent friend HT and I really enjoyed it. We even once auctioned off a bubble bath in our tub for a department fundraiser.

The thing I remember even more than taking baths in the tub were the talks HT and I had while she was taking a bath. She was an end of day bather and would fill the tub with bubbles and go for a soak. I would hang out in the bathroom and we'd talk and talk about everything. Sex, school, life, you name it. It wasn't so much what we talked about as the intimacy of it. Not only because HT was naked under all the bubbles, but because it was so open and so unbound by time and and life's responsibilities. It seems like those moments with good friends are so few and far between these days. It is hard enough to find time to spend with good friends -- life and responsibility get in the way all the time. I'd love to have a few of those nights back. And maybe one more swim in that enormous tub would be nice too.

01 November 2009

Halloween Menu

Because Halloween fell on a Saturday this year, I decided to make a little party out of it. I invited my brother's family and Rob's brother's family. In years past I would have ordered pizza for an occasion like this, but since I have been cooking lately I felt that I could tackle cooking up a Halloween feast -- or at least something that passed for dinner. Worst case, a heavy dose of candy would make everyone happy in the end.

I based the meal around a chicken dish of my own invention and then pieced it together from there with a focus on kid-friendly-ness. The official menu was this:

Cereal Killer Chicken (cereal crusted chicken tenderloins)
Baked Cheesy Brains
Mummy Dogs
Witches Fingers (bread sticks)
Blood Red Wine
Pumpkin Cake (not pumpkin flavored, but shaped like one)

Zoe was my sous chef and she even created this menu:

I think the food was a success. Everyone seemed to enjoy it so I was really pleased. Of course that was all just to fill time before the real event -- trick-or-treating! Bags of candy were procured and there were belly-aches for all. And how could I not post a picture of Zoe in her costume...