Friday, November 25th

Where You Lead, I Will Follow

GIlmore Girls

This post is part of my ongoing relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner.

It’s Thanksgiving weekend! But for many the real reason to celebrate is the anticipated arrival of Lorelai and Rory. After all these years we are going back to Stars Hollow with Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Are you a Gilmore Girls fan? Will you be watching?

I have a feeling many of my friends will have binged the whole thing before this post even goes live, so don’t ruin it for me. No tweeting the plot!


We had a good month and a really great Thanksgiving. Professionally, I’m working on something I really like for a couple months. Violet had to switch schools to one that was able to accommodate our busier schedule. It’s a little closer to home and they provide meals, which means she’s getting to try more foods. She’s far from an adventurous eater but we’re working on it.

Work View, downtown Austin

Denver Zoo

We went to Denver last month for a family trip and got to see what it was like traveling with a young toddler on a plane. It was not awesome. But it was worth it to spend precious time with family. Violet trick-of-treated at the Denver Zoo and we enjoyed the city and loved getting away for a few days.

Vote

Imp

We spent Thanksgiving eating seafood and sesame noodles and the perfect chocolate pie. It was nice to forget about the election results and the frightening state of our country for a few hours. I’m lucky that I get to focus on my sweet baby during these troubling times.

Thanksgiving

Chocolate Pie, from The Pioneer Woman

Now we’re full steam ahead till the holidays. I’m looking forward to getting a Christmas tree and taking Violet to see the lights and Santa and all that. See you next month for another Stream Team post!

Tuesday, November 22nd

Wheatsville: A Thanksgiving Bounty (and GIVEAWAY!)

Sesame Slaw

The following post was sponsored by Wheatsville Co-op

As this is the season to reflect on what we’re grateful for, I’m extremely grateful for the incredible variety of stores we have in Austin. I’ll never be one of those people that have my groceries delivered because I enjoy shopping too much. One of our true gems is Wheatsville Co-op, a food cooperative that has almost 20,000 invested owners and specializes in organic, local, and special grocery products.

Wheatsville Co-op

Anyone can shop at Wheatsville, not just investors. I used to live within walking distance to the South Lamar location and would pop in for their famous popcorn tofu sandwiches, smoothies, vegan donuts, organic produce, craft beer, and any number of things to stock my fridge and pantry. When I was invited to find inspiration within their aisles and create a Thanksgiving side dish, I jumped at the opportunity.

Wheatsville Co-op

Now, I should explain that I’m not making a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t like turkey enough to have leftovers for more than a day. Even the smallest turkey would be too much for just Chris, Violet, and I. So I’m preparing a dinner that is more our style: Salmon and shrimp kabobs, lobster tails, sesame noodles, dumplings, and the dish that’ll tie it all together, Sesame Slaw with Popcorn Tofu.

Sesame Slaw

It’s light and crunchy and bursting with flavor. It’s a dish that you don’t feel guilty heaping on your plate and then having seconds. Not to mention, it’s the easiest dish that’ll be on my Thanksgiving table. Total win.

Wheatsville Co-op

Feeling inspired to create something delicious yourself? I’m giving away a $30 gift card to Wheatsville Co-op to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment and tell me about one of your family’s Thanksgiving traditions. I’ll randomly draw a winner’s name on November 30th. (Make sure to include your email!)


Sesame Slaw

Sesame Slaw

Ingredients

  • Napa cabbage, one half
  • Red cabbage, one quarter
  • Red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup matchstick carrots
  • TB Wheatsville's homemade Cashew Tamari Garlic Dressing
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional)
  • One bunch scallions
  • TB sesame seeds
  • TB black sesame seeds
  • 1 package Wheatsville's Popcorn Tofu

Instructions

  1. Thinly slice Napa, red cabbage, and red bell pepper.
  2. Toss with carrots and coat mixture evenly with dressing. If you like, stir in 1/2 tsp of sesame oil to amplify the sesame flavor.
  3. Top with sesame seeds and as many thinly sliced scallions as you like.
  4. Gently place tofu in salad for a yummy tofu boost.
http://madbetty.com/wheatsville-thanksgiving-bounty-giveaway/

Not a fan of tofu? Sub in some shelled edamame, cooked shrimp, or just enjoy as is. It’s a colorful recipe that’s easy to make your own with a subtle variation or two. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18th

A Healthy Interlude

Our calendar has us going through waves of health. New Year’s resolutions, bathing suit body prep for summer, Lent…if that’s your thing. But any expert will tell you that this method of binging or “rewarding” ourselves, followed by a period of denial frames healthy eating as a punishment. Shouldn’t we feel rewarded when we nourish our bodies with healthy food and exercise, not when we eat the junk that makes us feel bad? I realize many do feel that way, but I myself am working on that.

In my continual quest to live a better life, I’m really trying to focus on a diet that’s mostly plant based. And I’m trying to diversify the fruits and veggies I eat. In September I did the Standard Process Purification Program, a 3-week cleanse that allows your body to reset by eating almost nothing but raw fruits and veggies. That means cutting our sugar, grains, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, and anything processed. Yes, it’s hard. But once the caffeine withdrawal subsides you get to just feel good and drink smoothies, eat salads (or more creative recipes) and down lots of water. I slept better, felt less congested, and happier. I craved almond and peanut butter and later, cheese. And always, coffee.

So the cleanse showed me that I could live without sugar and grains if I want to, or at the very least, cut back. I don’t think I’d willingly give up yogurt or eggs completely, and certainly not coffee. But none of these things are my problem.

It was tougher to eat out on the cleanse, although with a little planning I could skim the menu and find what worked for me. Roasted vegetables with a side of guacamole were key! Of course, Austin has plenty of restaurants that cater to a healthy lifestyle. I attended a media event at Blenders & Bowls during the cleanse and while consuming a few nuts and some quinoa were technically cheating on my cleanse, it was well worth it.

I’m starting to frame the idea of eating out in a new light. Refueling my body doesn’t always need to take the form of an entire meal. Small, nutrient-dense bites (like the superfood snacks above) would be enough to sustain me through a busy afternoon of running errands and chasing Violet. Made with goji berry, coconut, cashew, and dates, these were rich and decadent.

Kale and Quinoa Salads at Blenders and Bowls

Photo by Dos Mundos Creative

I make a lot of salads at home and am always looking for salad inspiration. Blenders and Bowls shared their new Kale Caesar Salad and Quinoa Salad with us and both were flavorful and packed with big flavors. The big takeaway for me was that I should be making salads in advance and give my flavors time to marry. I’m always throwing my salads together at the last minute, but am going to make a conscious effort to build a little more time into my meals.

The Fall Bowl at Blenders and Bowls

Photo by Dos Mundos Creative

And I’m going to reveal my basic-ness here and share how much I love pumpkin flavored things. Hands down, my favorite favorite pumpkin dish this fall was the Pumpkin Bowl, above. A silky puree of organic pumpkin, acai, banana, vanilla bean and cinnamon was topped with hemp granola, apples, dates, walnuts, strawberries, and local honey. I could eat this every single day for the rest of my life. It was so hearty and left me feeling full and satisfied, but not stuffed.

I started following Instagram accounts that feature bowls. Looking at the vibrant rainbows and endless creative combinations are almost as good as tasting them.

As I make strides on my journey to better health, I’ll make blog updates on my incremental lifestyle changes. Austin is lucky to have places like Blenders & Bowls that not only promote healthy living, but help us do it so well.

If you haven’t tried Blenders & Bowls, give them a shot! And then report back and let me know what you loved.

Blenders & Bowls

206 East 4th St, Austin, TX 78701

3736 Bee Caves Rd #8, West Lake Hills, TX 78746

Friday, October 28th

Halloween Things

This post is part of my ongoing relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner.

I love this time of year! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and I’m crazy about costumes, pumpkins, and even candy corn. I’ve thrown many Halloween parties in my day, although it’ll likely be a few years before we’re throwing big grown-up bashes again. For now, we’re enjoying the holiday with our little strawberry and finding the spooky in the everyday.

Little Strawberry


As Netflix continues to add more and more things we want to see, our watch list grows exponentially. Here’s what we’ve watched lately:

Mascots

Mascots on Netflix

I was eagerly awaiting Mascots and it did not disappoint. I love all of Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries and was excited that Zach Woods joined Guest regulars Jane Lynch, Parker Posey, Fred Willard, and Ed Begley, Jr. If I had a dream dinner party, these are the people I would invite. I’ll be watching this one again soon.

Tallulah

Tallulah on Netflix

I put off watching Tallulah because I thought it was going to be really sad. When I finally got around to viewing it I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t quite as heavy as the trailer made it seem. Ellen Page and Allison Janney reunited for the first time since Juno and both are tremendously talented and likable actresses. It’s a deep story that plucks at your sympathies.

No Men Beyond This Point

No Men Beyond This Point

Another mockumentary, No Men Beyond This Point is less enjoyable than Mascots. In fact, it stinks. But the subject matter was interesting enough to get me to watch it. In a world where men are no longer needed to procreate, women take over everything. The dwindling community of men either take to the woods or are employed as mannies. It’s a clever idea executed in the most boring, un-funny way possible.

Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids

Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids

I’m an unabashed Justin Timberlake fan. If you’re like me you’ll be happy to see that they filmed the last show of his most recent tour. I didn’t get to see this tour in person and now I know what I missed.

What have you been watching lately? Here’s a Stream and Scream Guide to help you with your Netflix watching all Halloween weekend.

Netflix Stream and Scream Guide

Wednesday, October 12th

Sap’s Fine Thai Cuisine

Saps Fine Thai Cuisine, Austin Texas

Sap’s Fine Thai Cuisine was an early favorite when we moved to Austin. It was Madam Mam’s back then, but it had the same easy, casual service, lengthy menu, and incredibly spicy dishes. We ordered takeout once and settled on something unfamiliar with four peppers on the spice gauge (as opposed to items with seven) and couldn’t handle it. Thai spicy is perhaps the most hardcore, isn’t it?

Mieng Kum at Saps, Austin Texas

My Asian Supper Club typically chooses Chinese or Vietnamese destinations, but we ventured to Sap’s for a change of pace. Unlike our other nights, we were uncertain as to what to order. We stuck to our individual favorites and ate our own meals rather than family style, which is normally our tradition. Of course we passed around plates and tasted each others meals, but it wasn’t quite the same.

My own go-to Thai dish is green curry. It is rich, spicy, and coconut-y. Luxurious in taste, but sadly not very photogenic. Let’s just get that photo out of the way now:

Keow Wan Curry at Saps, Austin Texas

Full of bamboo shoots and basil, I opted to incorporate chicken this time. But it’s also great with shrimp or vegetarian. Served with rice, it’s a hearty meal that provides hearty leftovers. I was grateful to start with a light appetizer like the Mieng Kum, which hits all the sweet and tangy notes, and plenty of satisfying crunch.

Yum Guay Teaw at Sap's, Austin Texas

The Yu Guay Teaw is a noodle dish made with honey, lime juice, lemongrass and chili. It was a little too sweet for my tastes. I prefer the Pad Spaghetti Kee Mao, a spicy stir fry topped with whatever protein you want.

Pad Spaghetti Kee Mao at Sap's, Austin Texas

Believe it or not, this was my first time trying Pineapple Fried Rice. Normally I wouldn’t tend toward a savory dish dotted with raisins and pineapple, but I found they provided the perfect backdrop against the tofu and salty egg and vegetables on the plate. It’s a classic that I would definitely get again.

Pineapple Fried Rice at Sap's, Austin Texas

The other big takeaway (for me) was the Moo Ping, which I think I’ll incorporate into my regular Thai rotation from now on. It’s an appetizer on the special menu, but perfectly suitable to be enjoyed as a healthy entree. A choice of marinated pork or chicken is served with raw salad veggies and a to-die-for spicy tamarind sauce. It’s a succulent dish that I may attempt to try at home.

Moo Ping at Sap's, Austin Texas

Sap’s was our most expensive Asian Supper Club to date. It’s not a pricey place, but I guess our usual family-style ordering saves a few bucks. We normally walk out stuffed to the gills after each chipping in about $12.

Have you been to Sap’s Fine Thai Cuisine? What are your favorite dishes?

Saturday, October 1st

Binge Watching

This post is part of my ongoing relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner.

Sunset Drive

Another busy month in our household. Chris changed jobs and I started looking for a full time job again. Violet’s having a blast at school and we’re enjoying the camera access to her classroom. I check in and watch her eat lunch, settle in for a nap, or just toddle around with her classmates. They are all so cute and tiny!

We were able to get away to the coast for a weekend. It was our first time at Port Aransas and Corpus Christi and Violet’s first time in the ocean. We loved the charm of the Texas coast and we’ll definitely head back as soon as we can.

In her first official modeling gig, Violet had a photo shoot for an upcoming book by my talented friend Mary Makes Good. It was a fun day of outfit changes and baby wrangling. I’ll be sharing links when the book publishes and you can also pick up a copy of her gorgeous natural beauty book here.

Photo Shoot


And here’s a glimpse into our Netflix watching of late:

Limitless

Limitless TV show

I didn’t watch Limitless when it was on CBS but I binged through it on Netflix. It’s an offshoot of the movie and Bradley Cooper does make appearances, although the likable Jake McDorman carries the show. Really, it’s just another FBI crime show. But it’s smartly written and the complex story is gripping. It sucked me right in. There are rumors that they are shopping it around for another network to pick it up, as it was canceled after the first season. Fingers crossed that Netflix takes it!

Everything Before Us

Everything Before Us

My weird pick for the month is Everything Before Us. Now I’m not saying it’s great, because it’s not. But it was compelling enough to leave me thinking about it for a few days. It’s a story about love, with two couples of different ages, living in a world where relationships contribute to emotional intelligence scores that carry as much weight as credit scores and criminal records. Breakups can lead to loss of jobs and social status, so if you’re bad at love you’re also bad at life.

The Get Down

The Get Down

I’m not finished The Get Down yet, mostly because it’s way too long. It’s a colorful telling of the birth of hiphop and is part musical, part kung fu, and part coming of age story about talented teenagers looking to make leave their creative mark on the world. I was hoping to really fall in love with this and maybe I still will, but so far it feels a bit self indulgent.

Have you seen The Get Down? Do I need to stick it out?

The big Netflix news is that they are now streaming Disney movies. They already have Tarzan, The Finest Hours, Holes, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Mulan II, and Robin Hood.

Wednesday, August 31st

PhoNatic

Banh Mi Sliders, PhoNatic, Austin Texas

In a city full of entrepreneurs and freelancers, everyone’s always discussing which coffee places are the best places to get some work done. And Austin’s got no shortage of good coffee and wifi spots. But my little secret work spot is PhoNatic, where I’ve had numerous meetings over steaming bowls of pho, strong Vietnamese coffee, and those famous banh mi sliders, pictured above.

Pho at PhoNatic, Austin Texas

As far as pho, there are many options like the traditional beef broth, veggie, and my favorite, the chicken broth, which is bright and clear and allows the aromatic spices to come through. Pho is always a bargain, starting at $7.95 and topping out at $11.95 for a bowl with tender braised oxtail.

Spring Roll at PhoNatic, Austin Texas

Refreshing spring rolls are a nice balance with hot soup and PhoNatic’s are crunchy, fresh, and a no-brainer. Again, this is pretty traditional and hits all the right spots. More often than not, if I’m working I opt for a vermicelli bowl. (I try not to tempt the fates with broth near my laptop.)

Vermicelli Bowl at PhoNatic, Austin Texas

Chicken Vermicelli Bowl at PhoNatic, Austin Texas

Pork Vermicelli Bowl at PhoNatic, Austin Texas

What makes PhoNatic such a good place to work? Lots of things. There’s not a lot of interaction (or interruption) from staff. You order and pay at the counter, get a number, and take a seat. They quickly deliver your food and you fetch everything you need. Drinks, extra limes and garnishes, hot sauce, chopsticks and spoons, to-go boxes, etc. The tables are comfortable and the spaces are open and bright. There’s parking, the food is good, and the wifi always works. What else could you want?

Crispy Tofu at PhoNatic, Austin Texas

Where are some of your favorite places with dine with your laptop when you want something a little more substantial than coffee?

And what are your favorite dishes at PhoNatic? Leave me a comment and we’ll talk about it.

Monday, August 29th

Living the Stream

This post is part of my ongoing relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner.

It’s back to school season and kids everywhere are crying or excited. Growing up by the beach, I lived for summer and was filled with dread at the impending start of each school year. Even thought I liked school, I never wanted summer to end. Living in Texas though, means that the end of summer break means an eventual respite from the heat, so I look forward to autumn. Of course, I’m not in school. But guess who is starting school soon?

Serious Playtime

That’s right! Violet has her first day of preschool this week in a Spanish immersion program where she’ll also receive Mandarin lessons. Plus she’ll make friends, learn new songs, and wear a cute little uniform. I’m nervous and excited for her. This is uncharted territory for both of us and already the supply list was more difficult to tackle than I anticipated. I mean, a nap mat vs. a “regular” mat? I needed to buy both and didn’t know what either was. Turns out a nap mat is this cute little sleeping roll thing and Violet took to hers immediately.

Nap mat

Also, she turned one year old this month! We celebrated with friends and pizza and toys and presents. She was a happy girl and my friend Foodie is the New Forty captured this adorable shot at Pinthouse Pizza.

Birthday girl


So here’s what we’ve been watching recently:

Stranger Things

Stranger Things

Obviously I’m starting this list with Stranger Things. If your friends aren’t all talking about it then you need new friends. Just kidding. They’re probably just talking about it behind your back. Anyway, believe the hype. This series is a creepy 80s miracle that is so well done. Goonies meets X-Files meets Winona Ryder comeback. While shows like Modern Family might have you thinking otherwise, Stranger Things is proof that fantastic child actors exist.

Spotlight

Spotlight

I was so excited to see that Netflix added the Academy Award winning Best Picture and it did not disappoint. It’s the brilliantly told story of the remarkable journalism that led to cracking the heinous within the Catholic church. You know what I’m talking about. A serious cast and serious writing did justice to the sensitive subject matter. I love a good journalism movie. Time to rewatch another of my old favorites, Shattered Glass.

Internet FamousInternet Famous

I watched Internet Famous twice, because I thought it was good enough to watch again with Chris. A mockumentary about a handful of YouTube stars, anyone who’s familiar with at least one crazy online famous personality will get a kick out of this. Very funny.

David Cross: Making America Great Again

Ugh. I love David Cross and I agree with his politics, but this was a piece of crap. I never thought his stand up was that good and I prefer to watch him in things that others write, but as I had a press pass for this show (filmed in Austin) and didn’t make it, I wanted to see what I missed. And it turned out that I missed nothing but an insufferable night of ranting about politics. Which might be excusable if it was funny, but it was NOT.

What are you watching lately on Netflix?

Monday, August 8th

Tam Deli

Bun at Tam Deli, Austin Texas

In my ongoing quest for delicious, cheap eats in Austin, Tam Deli has remained a constant favorite. It’s nowhere near where I live, it closes earlier than I’d like, and it’s nothing special inside. Yet it’s clean, friendly, has plenty of parking, and I can’t live without it. When the longtime owners sold it recently, many of us panicked.

Like me, countless Austinites had a special bond with the aging family who ran the place. Once when I was eating lunch alone I witnessed Nick refilling water glasses to a chatty table of college kids next to me. He quietly said, “say when” as he tipped the pitcher and he let the water overflow onto the table when no one stopped talking to say “when.” Everyone laughed as he mopped up the water and I can recount plenty of my own personal stories of Nick’s teasing. Thousands of little moments like that are what made Tam Deli feel like home. But also, the food. The Vietnamese staples done well and priced so reasonably.

When I heard that the same kitchen staff would remain in place under the new ownership, my fears at losing a beloved favorite subsided. A group of us stopped by to order our usual dishes and make sure all was right with the world.

Bánh mì at Tam Deli, Austin Texas

The bánh mì is what usually gets me to Tam Deli as they make my favorite version in Austin. (I’ve previously documented a bánh mì showdown of Austin’s most notorious sandwiches, so check it out if you missed it.) It’s a short little guy who’s stuffed to the gills, and I always opt to add a fried egg.

Pictured up top is the vermicelli with grilled pork and egg roll, with springy noodles and loaded with fresh sprouts and vegetables. Like most the dishes we ordered that day, it tasted like it always did and we all felt relieved and happy.

Banh Xeo at Tam Deli, Austin Texas

The Banh Xeo is another regular favorite. On this day it was a little burnt, but normally the crisp crepe filled with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts is delicate perfection. Another dish that was a little different on this visit was the Banh Tom, crispy fritters made from yams and shrimp. They were tasty as ever, but the yams were cut differently. They were more like fries than the shapeless lumps I’d had in the past.

Banh Xeo at Tam Deli, Austin Texas

The service under the new owners was fast and friendly, if a little shy. Over time we’ll make new memories with them and have our own little private jokes, or at least exchange nods of recognition as we drink Vietnamese coffees and order the same dishes time and again.

Vietnamese Coffee at Tam Deli

Vietnamese Coffee at Tam Deli, Austin Texas

What are your favorite dishes at Tam Deli? Leave me a comment and tell me what else I need to order.

Friday, July 29th

Hot and Streamy

This post is part of my ongoing relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner.

July was a good month. Violet celebrated her last official month of infancy by eating (and rejecting) many new foods, growing two and a half teeth, skinny dipping, playing peek-a-boo, and giving lots of wet kisses and snuggles. She grabs my iPhone and holds it up to her ear like she’s talking and can be bribed back to sanity with peanut butter during fussy times. Every single day is wonderful. Look at those chubby arms!

Fish Cake

Barbecue giggles

Swinging

Skinny dipping


 

So here’s what we’ve been watching lately:

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

ANDATORY CREDIT; NO ARCHIVE; NO SALES; NORTH AMERICAN USE ONLY Crazy Ex-Girlfriend -- "Josh Just Happens to Live Here!" -- Image CEG101_0022 -- Pictured: Rachel Bloom as Rebecca Bunch -- Photo: Eddy Chen/The CW -- �© 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

At first I thought the campy comedy might be too silly for me, but by the second episode I was completely hooked on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and am now a Rachel Bloom fan for life. The musical numbers are brilliant and elevate the simple story to something special. The cast is an off-beat, charismatic gang of weirdos, other than Josh, the main love interest. Josh is boring, but the show is anything but.

Fun fact: Rachel Bloom and Broad City’s Ilana Glazer were once roommates.

Degrassi: Next Class

Degrassi Next Class

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m a huge Degrassi nerd. Excepting the original run in the 80s, I’m well versed on all things Degrassi and can speak with authority on all characters and storylines from about 15 seasons of the show. The show stays current, and this new class is all about social media and fluid sexuality. Boldly tackling serious topics, this season gets into racism, cultural appropriation, and mental health. The current cast has few standout actors, most are quite terrible, but some cameos from former students make it worth the watch. (Sorry, no Drake!)

2 Days in New York

An NYC indie starring Chris Rock and is half in French? I loved this 2012 movie and am so glad I randomly stumbled upon it. I thought about it for a few days after seeing it. Man. Chris Rock is so great. I might need to watch Top Five again. I need to go back and watch the first one, 2 Days in Paris, which starred Adam Goldberg alongside Julie Delpy.

 

BoJack Horseman

BoJack Horseman

I haven’t finished the third season of BoJack Horseman yet because I like to take my time and savor it. This is one of my favorite shows of all time. I’m a sucker for the easter eggs and bottomless pool of actors they get to voice the human and animal characters. It kind of reminds me of The Simpsons (way back when it was good) and how each episode pushed the envelope little further. The animated series is hilarious, but also so sad and dark. It might be Will Arnett’s best work and is a nod to his own demons.

What have you been watching? What do I need to add to my list?