Tuesday, November 24th

Netflix and Chill

I really, really LOVE TV. When we cut the cord on our cable more than a year ago, I was a little afraid. But in a post-cable world where we can stream everything, cable just isn’t necessary anymore. I have to credit Netflix for changing the game. It was their original content that spurred other companies to follow suit. After a dark period of lackluster programming, things have swung back around to quality and sophistication.

Now we have lots of incredible series. They are being cranked out as fast as we can watch. Projects that might never have seen the light of day on traditional networks now have a shot. It means the shows we are watching are more creative, interesting, and not as targeted toward demographics and time slots. Do you guys realize how huge that is? We’re living in a new world, people.

Netflix logo

In what might be the best fitting partnership I’ve ever had on this blog, I’m now a part of the Netflix Stream Team. That means that once a month or so I’ll be talking about what I’m watching. New things available on Netflix or perhaps old things that I’m just discovering or revisiting. So make sure you give me your recommendations!

This month the Stream Team is talking about five more minutes. Like, what your kids beg for at bedtime. I definitely did this as a kid, as I was a night owl born to two early birds. By the time I was nine I learned that I could fulfill all my late-night fantasies fairly easily. My dad would turn on Letterman and promptly fall asleep, unaware that I was curled up on the floor watching. In my house it was as simply as getting out of bed and crawling back to the living room like a spy.

Violet is only three months old, but she’s pulling that #5moreminutes routine in her own way. She fights to stay awake and half the time when she finally goes down it doesn’t stick. But who could resist this face:

Five More Minutes

I’m sure that when she’s old enough, Violet will give me some compelling reasons to stay up an extra five minutes. Netflix and DreamWorks Animation have teamed up to create Dinotrux 5 Minute Favorites for just these moments. I mean, sometimes your kids need an extra five before bed.

I’ve been streaming a bunch of grown-up Netflix shows lately that are longer than five minutes. One that’s stuck with me is Bloodline. Have you guys watched it? It’s a 13-episode Netflix original about a family with devastating secrets, starring Sissy Spacek, Linda Cardellini, Chloë Sevigny, and most notably, Kyle Chandler. (Is there anyone on earth who doesn’t have a crush on Kyle Chandler?)

Kyle Chandler in Bloodline

The show is a bit slow-paced in the beginning, enough so that I almost gave up. But around the sixth episode it gained serious momentum and I was hooked. I never spoil TV shows, so I’ll just describe the series as mysterious, creepy, thrilling, and quite sad. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Keys, it’s an enticing world to immerse yourself in for a week or so, despite the dark subject matter. I’m even crazy about the opening credits. Season Two will come out in early 2016 and I can’t wait.

Another show I freaking love is The Great British Bake Off. How could a reality show about baking be that good? Trust me, it’s amazing. Right now Netflix is only streaming the sixth season, but I’m hoping they’ll add more. I laughed, I cried, I craved dessert. This is far better than any American competition show. If you’re skeptical, just watch the first episode and you’ll see what I mean.

The Great British Bake Off

What have you been watching?

Monday, February 16th

2015 Guide to Ramen in Austin

Austin Food Blogger Alliance 2015 City Guide

For the past few years I’ve written an annual guide to ramen in the city. What started as a small task has since become a more sizable undertaking, as the city’s demand for slurpable noodles grows at light speed. The more noodles we have, the more we want them! This list focuses on the restaurants that make ramen their main focus, but also includes restaurants that serve ramen alongside other items. As always, if I didn’t include your favorite place, leave me a comment and tell me what I missed!  

There’s no stopping the ramen trend in Austin! The city can’t get enough of the hearty steaming bowls of rich broth and bouncy alkaline noodles. Those initiated into the ramen scene (and it is very much a scene, baby) are addicted to the umami, the toppings and the slurping. The uninitiated just need to give it a try.

If you need more convincing, check out local filmmaker Christian Remde’s Culinary Equation fantastic video all about ramen.

Ramen Tatsu-ya

Ramen Tatsu-ya North 

8557 Research Blvd #126, Austin, TX 78758

Tues-Fri 11-2, 5-10, Sat-Sun 12-3, 5-10

Ramen Tatsu-ya South

1234 South Lamar, Austin, TX 78704

Mon-Sun 11-3, 5-10

Arguably the most famous ramen in Austin,  Ramen Tatsu-ya is a must do. Great for first timers, the menu provides a quirky guide on what to order, how to eat, and definitions for all the unfamiliar terms and ingredients. They offer classic toppings and fun flavors bombs, so you can customize every bowl.

With a following this strong, Ramen Tatsu-ya opened a second location this year. Their new South Lamar location serves a couple purposes: 1) It brought some much-needed ramen to South Austin and 2) The line is essentially split in half making it more accessible for all of us. The new location is larger than the first and has a gorgeous chic feel.


Check out their website for the full menu which includes highlights like katsu sliders and sweet and sour Brussel’s sprouts.

*Pro-tip: Get there before 5:00 or after 8:45 to avoid the long line. Or just show up whenever and stand in line chatting with fellow ramen-heads, letting the anticipation build. Also, don’t miss the art in the bathrooms of the north location.

Ramen Tatsu-Ya Restroom Art

Whole Foods at The Domain

11920 Domain Drive, Austin, TX 78758

8 am-10 pm daily

Of the fabulous amenities this store boasts, the ramen bar is one of the most best. The Texas ramen gives shoppers a taste of Japanese ramen with a twist. Barbecue! Casual and easy, it’s a treat to have this spot for a quick slurp while you do your shopping.

Michi Ramen

6519 N. Lamar, Austin, TX 78752

Tues-Sun 11am-midnight

3005 S. Lamar, Austin, TX 78704

The ramen groundbreakers of Austin, Michi Ramen was here before anyone else, slinging noodles out of a truck. Eventually they moved to a brick and mortar and very soon, their second location on South Lamar will open. They offer traditional broth thickness options and lots of toppings so you can build your own bowl. Bonus, takeout is encouraged and you can order online.

Michi Ramen

*Pro-tip: Leave room for dessert! The mochi, 2 for $3 is shipped frozen from Hawaii and just heavenly.


Drunk Fish

10000 Research Blvd #139, Austin, TX 78759

M-Th 11am-8pm, F 11am-9pm, Sat 12pm-9pm

Offering a variety of broths and toppings, this Arboretum hole in the wall is popular with lunchers in a hurry.


4917 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751

M-Th 11-2, 5-10, F 11-2, 5-11, Sat 11-3, 5-11, Sun 12-3, 5:30-10

Known for their wide array of fresh and delicious sushi, Komé also makes a kickass ramen available at lunch. Their ramen efforts were so popular that they opened a sister restaurant (see below, Daruma Ramen) dedicated to ramen.

Kome tonkatsu ramen

Daruma Ramen

612B E. 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

M-F 11:30-2, 5:30-10, Sat 11:30-10, Sun 12-9

Daruma is the only ramen available downtown and people happily line up on East 6th to wait for their steaming bowls of noodles. Most notable is the vegan ramen, whose complex broth is steeped with veggies and fruit. Very interesting, and different than what anyone else is doing.

Daruma Ramen vegan bowl


11066 Pecan Park Blvd, Ste 402, Cedar Park, TX 78613

M-Th 11-3, 5-10, F 11-3, 5-11, Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11-9

The reputable sushi spot has an acceptable ramen offering, too, pleasing customers with a decadent seafood ramen as well as traditional tonkatsu and shoyu.

East Side King at Hole in the Wall

2538 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

M-F 11am-midnight, Sat 2pm-midnight

Paul Qui’s ramen offerings are inventive and fun. Especially delicious is the Chicken Tortilla Ramen, a perfect fusing of Japan and Austin.

Chicken Tortilla Ramen


Musashino Sushi Dokoro

3407 Greystone Drive, Austin, TX 78731

Tues-Fri 11am-2, 5:30-10

Should you stray from the sushi menu, there are a variety of ramen bowls available at lunch.

Xian Sushi and Noodle

1801 E 51st St, Ste C370, Austin, TX 78723

13201 Ranch Rd 620, Ste U208, Austin, TX 78717

M-Sat 11:30-3, 5-10, Sun 12-p

Known for their exceptional hand-pulled noodles, Xian (pronounced SHE-ann) offers one ramen in their roster, shoyu. The Ranch Road location is fairly new, proving that the demand for noodles in Austin cannot be stopped.


4404 W. William Canon Drive, Ste B, Austin, TX 78749

M-Th 11-2:30, 4-9:30, F 11-2:30, 4-10:30, Sat 12-10

The two ramen options—Ramen and Spicy Ramen—have a miso broth and are topped with pork, onion, green onion, zucchini, and boiled egg.

Ryu of Japan

11101 Burnet Rd, Ste B100, Austin, TX 78758

M-Th 11:30-3, 5:30-9:30, F-Sat 11:30-3, 5:30-10:30

Ramen items on the menu include miso, shoyu, and cold ramen, described as having pork, egg, vegetable and special sauce.


2700 Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78757

11am-9:30pm daily

Most people visit Shabu to get hotpot and plain ramen noodles are one of the many options to enjoy with hotpot along with meats, veggies, and various toppings. Non-hotpot ramen options include BBQ Pork Ramen, Ramen Shrimp and Shitake, and Street Ramen which has Spam, beef, and lots of veggies.


2501 W. Parmer Lane #500, Austin, TX 78727

M-F 11-10, Sat 11:30-10:30

Ramen comes in three sizes in chicken, beef, and seafood, and “regular” as choices.

Thursday, January 29th

Super Bowl XLIX: Ad Preview

Another year, another Super Bowl. Famous for my not-caring-at-all about football, I do care very much about the commercials. It seems like the last few years have been disappointing. Will this year be a repeat? Here’s a preview of some ads you’ll be seeing on and leading up to game night.


Wednesday, September 10th

In Case You Missed it: Big Announcements from Apple

In case you missed it, all eyes were on the Apple live stream yesterday. Well, when it live stream finally worked. It wasn’t the smoothest start.

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

Anyway, the new iPhone comes in two models, the 6 and the 6 Plus with retina HD displays of 4.7″ and 5.5″, respectively. The sleeker, curved models are a departure from the classic boxy shape and are improved with ion strengthened glass, faster processing and graphics, and battery life with considerably longer talk time and slightly longer data time. It has faster wifi and if you have T-Mobile, you can make calls on the wifi. Sustained processor performance means the phones will be better for gaming, if that’s your thing. The M8 processor measures relative elevation, so you can track flights of stairs.

iPhone 6 camera

I’m always amazed at how great the cameras are in the iPhones and we’re getting improvements there, too. The new autofocus system will be twice as fast and the new sensors have larger pixels. The two versions offer different stabilizations. It has better face, blink, and smile detection, improved details like sharpness and contrast and will let in 81% more light. You might as well throw out your old camera, because this one rocks. The video capabilities are kicked up, too. We’re all going to have fun with the slo mo.

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus can be preordered on September 12th and will be available September 19th.

iPhone 6 prices

iPhone 6 Plus prices

Other cool things

Apple Pay is a virtual wallet that looks to replace your credit cards. Since the phones are so much larger, you might need the extra room in your pockets/purses anyway. It stores credit cards, but not their numbers. Apple can’t see your credit card numbers, what you bought, or what you paid. (Merchants won’t see your numbers either.) It’ll work with major credit cards and lots of merchants like Whole Foods, Macy’s, Sephora, Uber, and all the places I like to spend money.

The new Health app is a dashboard of health and fitness data, which is becoming increasingly more popular and important to everyone. (And I think that’s just groovy, baby.) Track things like your cholesterol, calories, blood sugar, heart rate, exercise, and whatever else you want. Health Kit is a tool that makes that data shareable which means you can send info directly to your doctors, nutritionists, and more.

Apple Watch

This is where Apple really blew it out of the water. The sleek design of the watch with the revolutionary interface is like being caught between the past and the future. The interface is controlled by the crown, or wheel, just like winding an old-fashioned watch, but you can detect someone else’s heartbeat. This is so sci-fi romantic, I could die.

There are tons of styled straps and two sizes for larger and smaller wrists, with the main body coming in sport edition, 18k gold, and a polished stainless steel. You need an iPhone to use it. In addition to things you’d expect like calendars and music capabilities, you can send messages and text analysis makes asking questions fun and easy. Kind of like those notes you’d write in grammar school. Do you like me? Yes or No. Even more childlike, you can customize animated emoji. Send a smiley face, or touch it to make it smile and wink.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch has integrated maps and navigation, two-way messaging, and sketching abilities. There’s social media, travel apps, and tons of other third party apps that would be handy on your wrist as well as plenty of fitness tracking. You can unlock your hotel room door with it. And of course, use Apple Pay. They aren’t messing around with this no wallet thing. And because Apple products play so nicely together, you can use the watch as a remote for Apple TV or your iPhone camera. Out early in 2015, the watch prices start at $350. I can only imagine what the 18k gold one costs.

While the iPhone is a necessity for many of us, the Apple Watch is like candy. I want some, might not get some, but I’ll still want it. No doubt it will be a very profitable revenue stream as the cult of Apple fans will race to get them. As always, Apple doesn’t take any shortcuts and they continue to be creative, innovative, and brilliant.

*Photos from Tech Crunch.

Tuesday, September 2nd

Top Ten TV Intros

True Blood

If I had a TV show, I’d care deeply about the opening credit sequence. A great show doesn’t necessarily need a sequence. Plenty don’t have them at all. But personally I think there’s no better way to hook an audience and build excitement for the show. The creativity, passion, and budget in the intro are often indicative of the quality of the show. Without further ado, here’s my top ten list of of TV intros.

10. Arrested Development / I love the quick set-up of the show’s premise and the fun graphics. And I’m a sucker for Ron Howard. It’s short and sweet. Perfection.

9. Fresh Prince of Bel Air / If I ever get called onstage and am forced to rap, this will be my song. I love the bright 90s neon esthetic and this reminds me of being a kid. My sisters and I used to sing this together in the living room and mimic Will Smith rolling his head around at the end.

8. The Sopranos / Obviously there’s some Jersey pride with this one and most of my family can pick out personal landmarks in the opening. The gritty highway imagery is beautiful in its ugly reality and is made poignant with glimpses of the Statue of Liberty and Twin Towers. And while the debate about whether Tony Soprano is still alive, sadly, James Gandolfini is not. I love that this opening features just him and no one else in the cast.

7. BoJack Horseman / This is the newest show on the list and has only been out for a week at the time of writing, but it captured my heart right away. The lounge-y theme song was written by Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney and the animated scene is so LA. It’s a good preamble to the subtle darkness that lies within the show.

6. Treme / The show was a total love letter to New Orleans, so it’s no surprise that the opening features powerful real-life photos from the city and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The photos changed in each of the four seasons and reflected the progress of the city, becoming a little less dark each season. The fantastic music is by New Orleans jazz musician John Boutté.

5. Cosby Show / By all accounts, having the characters dance in the intro should be cheesy and terrible, but damn it, those lovable Cosby’s pulled it off season after season. We watched the kids transition from little kids to the awkward years, to teenagers doing trendy dances, to adults. Cliff was always a little silly, Claire always classy.

4. Mad Men / The silhouette of Don Draper immediately became the iconic image of the show. The dreamy opening is mysterious and a bit swanky, just like the show. It may be the best 30-second representation of any show without showing any actors. Simply put, it is brilliant.

3. True Blood / The opening is edgy, sexy, a little disturbing, and Gothic southern. The music, the fast cuts, the smears of real blood on the film…it’s so well done. It’s a bit more serious than the campy show. The elements of birth and death were included in an overall theme of evil and redemption, with violence, nudity, and lots of other stuff that make us uncomfortable. In the case of True Blood, the opening was the best part of the show, which exhaled its last tired gasp a couple weeks ago before finally succumbing to its own true death.

2. Northern Exposure / This opening makes me happy in its cheerful simplicity. The moose wanders through the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska and we get to experience an outside glimpse at the businesses where much of the series takes place: the doctor’s office, the bar, the general store, etc.

1. Six Feet Under / It wasn’t hard to land on Six Feet Under as the number one title sequence for my list. I believe this opening to be the most beautiful and meaningful. There’s something comforting in the way that death is represented in the wilting flowers and lone tree (among other images) with artistry and elegance. It’s the real death we all know, not the glamorous movie violent deaths that we can write off so easily. Funeral homes, coffins, grave stones. Things we all have to encounter and never want to think about. The haunting music was written for the show by celebrated composer Thomas Newman and it won two Grammys. Years after the show went off the air, this opening still feels just as powerful and compelling.

So those are my top ten. I have many others that I love that I couldn’t squeeze into such a small list. Which of your favorites did I miss?

Tuesday, December 10th

Pop Music in 2013

I love pop music

Countdown to the end of the year! It was a blink-and-you-missed-it year, but here’s a little something to remember it by. Check out Daniel Kim’s masterful pop mash-up of the best (and worst) of 2013.

For me, I’ll hold on to the Pharrell and Macklemore moments and try to forget about the Miley Cyrus and Ke$ha moments. What were your favorite pop moments of the year?

Wednesday, March 27th

Wrong and Weird

The title of the movie is Wrong. And it’s just weird. The closest comparison I can make to another movie is Napoleon Dynamite. Only weirder and more somber.

The basic premise is that main character, Dolph, wakes up one morning to find his dog missing. Right from the get-go, Dolph is strange, his neighbor is strange, his gardener is strange, and every other character and situation are strange. From beginning to end.


Some weirdness takes place for comedic or emotional effect. The rest is sheerly for the sake of it, like the constant, pounding rain in Dolph’s indoor office. Like everything else, it is never explained or addressed. We are just supposed to accept the indoor rain.


There are some familiar faces, if that adds to the legitimacy of the film for you.



There’s a bit of mystery, magic, delusion, and I hate to overuse the word “weird,” but it’s simply the best description.

I don’t want to get into any details, because discovering the surreal quirks as each scene unfolds is likely the only enjoyment you’ll get from this movie. It’s part of the collection of films the Alamo Drafthouse owns, so there are plenty of opportunities to see it in Austin if you go in the next couple weeks.

I’ll leave you with this clip and you can decide for yourself whether you want to see it. Maybe surrealism is your thing.

Friday, March 22nd

Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica

What will we do when The Office ends in a couple months?

Monday, February 4th

Supa Bowl

Did you watch the Super Bowl last night? I did, sorta. I watched the halftime show and commercials and messed around on Twitter the rest of the time. The thing I was most interested in was Justin Timberlake’s performance at the DIRECTV party Saturday night. Not much video available yet, but here’s a peek at what went on.

Oh, to have attended that show. But at least I got to attend Beyonce’s halftime show from my living room.

All the high energy dancing and fierceness that we want to see from Beyonce. Loved the Destiny’s Child reunion on stage and appreciated that Beyonce gave them both a turn in the middle. Beyonce always looks flawless and gives a great performance. And after the presidential inauguration lip-synching scandal, it was guaranteed that she would sing live for the show and bring her A-game. It was Alicia Keys that really won me over though, with her understated, note-perfect anthem, her piano on the field with her.

Overall, the commercials were much better this year than in previous years. I watched as many as I could in advance because I love commercials that much, but there were still tons I hadn’t seen yet. Here are the ones I found to be the most notable.


Mercedes-Benz. Selling one’s soul to the devil for a luxury car? Great concept.

Samsung Mobile. The next big thing. Love the casting. Really love the tagline.

Got Milk? This national campaign has been going on for years and has utilized so many celebrities. This extended version was done on such a grand scale, how can you not love it?

Best Buy. I was really looking forward to this one. What a disappointment. Amy Poehler deserved better material than this.


Budweiser. Not gonna lie. This one made me cry.

Dodge Ram Trucks. God Made a Farmer. Voiced by Paul Harvey, this was simply beautiful.


Volkswagen. I’m always watching the VW commercials closely, because they were historically so good at advertising. Before they got bad, that is. When I was an advertising student in college we talked about VW a lot, and their campaigns were truly groundbreaking. Companies like Apple and Target have employed similar methods, but VW was first. Anyway, this one cracks me up.

Toyota RAV4. This “wish granted” commercial features the car quite a bit for such a kooky, nontraditional car ad. Brilliant.

Doritos. This fan-made commercial is my favorite of the night. I’ve already watched it more times than I want to admit.

Um, what? 

Calvin Klein. This was an absurd ad to air at this time and I loved it. I’m not sure if it was targeted more towards women or gay men, but it created plenty of buzz on social media.

Taco Bell. Viva Young might be a funny concept, but this wasn’t done well. I’m not sure what age group the young target is here, but only the truly immature would find this comical. It’s mostly just an overused cliche.

GoDaddy. I’m glad I changed my hosting a long time ago. I don’t mind their normal sexist Super Bowl ads, because it creates buzz and works for them. They are HUGE compared to other hosting companies. But this is so poorly done and so gross that it offends me. Not as a woman, but creatively. It’s just garbage.

Pistachios. This ad starring Psy is another part of this wacky campaign featuring bizarre celebrities. It’s silly and well, nutty. Perfect.

Most fun

Coca Cola has such a polished advertising legacy. They always get it right, whether they are doing sexy commercials, funny, family-oriented, edgy, you name it. This two-part ad is just pure fun and let viewers determine the outcome of the race.

Oh, yeah. And the Ravens won. So happy for Baltimore!

Friday, January 11th

The Incredible Bruno Mars

Ugh. Have I talked about how good the new Bruno Mars album is? I can’t even take it. Like his first album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, the newly released Unorthodox Jukebox contains ten songs, with one reggae number, a couple upbeat tunes, and a slew of romantic ballads. His lyric writing has improved a bit since the first album. His style has evolved in that he and his band are dressing more casually, trading in the retro suits for regular clothes and his pompadour has given way to a small afro.

Bruno Mars

And that voice. Damnnnnn. Just keeps getting better.

Listen to this live version of “When I Was Your Man,” one of the best songs on the new album.

Bruno! Come to Austin!