This post is part of my ongoing relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner
Are we really at the end of June? Each day feels long as Violet is into everything and my time seems to be spent chasing her around and cleaning up messes. And yet, it’s all moving too quickly and I’m cherishing each moment. We’re racing towards the end of her first year and I’m not ready to leave each adorable phase.
But Chris and I are loving every moment. Chasing her, watching tiny little teeth emerge, and seeing the world through innocent eyes makes everything feel exciting.
The no-brainer, of course, is Orange is the New Black. In preparation for the fourth season I re-watched the third, which was not my favorite, but was more enjoyable the second time around. And the show picks up right where it left off. My thoughts on season four are this: OITNB is one of finest shows I’ve ever watched. The writing, the acting (with a few exceptions) and the emotional draw are so strong that I’m in awe. The newest season might be the best one so far. It’ll break your heart over and over. I am very attached to so many of these characters. Even Piper.
I don’t know how Kristen Wiig has had the time to do so many little movies, but I feel like I’m always watching them. The most recent one I’ve seen is Hateship Loveship. I didn’t particularly love it, to be honest, but it’s interesting and short enough to watch, particularly if you are a Wiig fan. She can play a pathetic weirdo like no other.
A friend told me she was watching Murder, She Wrote and got me curious. So I’m slowly working my way through them. It’s outdated, but that’s part of the appeal. Angela Lansbury has so much charm and the seaside Maine town where her character, Jessica Fletcher, lives and solves mysteries is equally as charming. This series is a who’s who of recognizable actors looking much, much younger. I suggest you youngins make a drinking game out of it.
What are you watching lately? What do I need to add to my list?
I’m still figuring out how people balance babies and housework. And, uh, regular work. Oh, and a blog.
Cooking has been particularly challenging. I’ve finally realized that at least one night a week our dinners need to be really easy. Like, frozen meal easy. I’m not proud and no, it’s not exactly delicious. But by Wednesday or Thursday when I’m just burned out and don’t have the energy to get dinner on the table I’m grateful to open the freezer and pull out a pizza or something.
Breakfast, however, is too crucial a meal to phone in. I can’t send Chris to work without some sustenance to get through the day. And I need something easy in the morning, too. I’m dabbling with the DASH Diet off and on, which is why I started making this casserole. It’s packed with protein and filling veggies and because I use lots of egg whites, it’s light and fluffy.
I don’t follow much of a recipe, but I use what’s on hand. Typically I’ll sauté:
Half a pound of sausage, turkey, or bacon
One red bell pepper, diced
One medium onion, diced
15 cherry or grape tomatoes
Something green, either asparagus, spinach, or kale
While the meat and vegetables are cooking, beat ten eggs and 3/4 cup egg whites. Or just use more eggs and skip the whites if you prefer. When your sauté is complete, pour evenly into lightly oiled baking dish. Top with the cheese of your choice. I grate up a big handful of cheddar, Jarlsberg, or anything else I might have. Make it as cheesy as you want. I don’t go overboard with the cheese, but don’t hold back on my account. I’m not the cheese police.
Then pour in egg mixture, evenly covering the filling. Top with lots of hot sauce and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 350°, until no longer jiggly. Skip the hot sauce if you want, but make sure to season adequately.
Allow to complete cool before cutting into slices and packaging up for the week. What I love about this dish is how versatile it is. It’s a great way to use up leftovers and the flavor combinations are limitless. One of my favorite versions was when I threw in basmati rice at the last minute and it crisped up on the top.
What are some of your default meals when your schedule is busier than usual?
If you were in downtown Austin recently and happened upon lots of recognizable TV stars, you weren’t the only one. Despite this being the fifth year of the ATX Television Festival, it still feels somewhat under the radar for an Austin event. People always seem surprised when they see people like Mae Whitman or Scott Wolf wandering around, yet those of us who hit the festival every year know that it’s customary to run into many famous faces.
The thing I love the most about the festival is that it isn’t oversold. It feels intimate and accessible. It’s a small conference for TV insiders and passionate fans, and everyone feels lucky to be there, from the badge-holders to the volunteers, to the TV stars. After all, Austin knows how to show guests a good time and people are more than happy to visit. Industry people and fans alike seem equally happy to geek out over the love of TV.
I spent the weekend conducting interviews, watching panels, screenings, and soaking it all in. I was especially happy to attend a panel for Royal Pains, which is a guilty pleasure of mine. The final season is about to air and we were treated to an early screening of their musical episode, which was hilarious and campy. The cast and creators were pretty open, discussing everything from the medical terminology in the dialogue to the evolution of their characters. If fans of the show are wondering whether they will ever see Hank settle down with a woman, this final season may not wrap everything up in a neat bow. They revealed that all previous attempts to match up Hank had been rejected by the audience. No one is good enough for our Hank!
It’s an unwritten rule of the festival that everyone needs to be cool and not swarm the stars. I don’t ask for autographs or photos with celebs and unless it’s an official interview I tend to shy away from attempting conversation. If I’m honest, there have been a few people that I’ve wanted to gush over that I’ve run into at the festival or other events. H. Jon Benjamin comes to mind, along with Megan Mullally, Adam Scott, and Uzo Aduba. This year my big fan crush goes to Ben Feldman.
Ben’s been a number of shows I love: Drop Dead Diva, Mad Men, Silicon Valley, and NBC’s Superstore, which was just renewed for a second season. The cast of Superstore was in Austin to talk about the show and I was one of the lucky few who got to interview them.
If you haven’t seen the show, it’s a smart workplace sitcom with a lot of heart. Producer and writer Justin Spitzer is known for another little workplace comedy that you may have heard of called The Office. So I have high hopes for this show and really enjoyed the first season. In addition to Ben Feldman, America Ferrera, and Kids in the Hall’s Mark McKinney, the cast is filled with talented actors who make up a motley crew of blue collar workers in a Walmart-type store called Cloud 9.
America and Ben made the observation that blue collar comedies have fallen out of favor in recent years, replaced by shows that focus on fantasy, rather than reality. The entire cast spoke about working in on a set that looks exactly like a store and how they were forbidden from taking any of the real-life products. The pilot was actually shot in a real Kmart, with the cast and crew filming through the night. The experience inspired the episode All-Nighter, where they are locked in the store overnight.
If you want to watch (or re-watch) the first season it’s available on the NBC website.
Another show that was getting a lot of buzz at the festival is Pitch, which premieres on FOX on September 22nd. It’s the (fictional, obviously) story of the first woman to play MLB. Kylie Bunbury plays Ginny, the talented pitcher who joins the San Diego Padres. Mark-Paul Gosselaar plays catcher Mike Wilson and he and Kylie spoke candidly about their physical training for their roles. Hers was more physically intense, while Gosselaar joked that his training mostly consisted of growing a beard that his wife hates.
Despite my lack of interest in sports, I do think baseball is the most tolerable and I’ve never seen a baseball movie I didn’t like. So I’m definitely going to be watching this series in the fall. Check out the trailer for yourself. This show is great.
Did you miss the ATX Television Festival this year? Badges are already on sale for 2017. See you next year!
This post is part of my ongoing relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner.
We’re at the end of May and in the midst of a long-awaited holiday weekend. Last year Chris’ had to go into the office on Memorial Day. We were still unpacking and doing major renovation in the new house, plus I was in my third trimester. It was a real bummer.
So having that extra day off right now feels positively glorious! We still have some work to accomplish, but our projects are of the small variety: yard work, laundry, cleaning. But we can balance that with some fun, along with grateful reflection on the many who gave their lives for our country. It’s good to have a day to feel patriotic during a gross election year. Is there anything worse than a presidential campaign? Ugh.
Violet is really on the move these days! She’s unbelievably fast at crawling, gleefully using our shiny concrete floors to her benefit. We’re having so much fun with the walker, too, and I think she’ll be walking unassisted before we know it.
Now let’s talk Netflix! As most network TV shows are done for the season, I expect many of you will be increasing your steaming. I’d love to hear your recommendations on what to watch. Here’s what we’ve been watching lately:
Maria Bamford is one of those likable yet polarizing comedians. She’s intelligent, funny, weird…but it’s her voice that many people can’t get past. Lady Dynamite acknowledges this by incorporating it into a storyline, along with her many other hangups like insecurity, bad decision-making, and severe Bipolar II disorder. I’ve watched the ranking of this show fall steady, but I give it a solid four stars. It almost crosses the line into being completely ridiculous, but doesn’t annoy me in the least. And it’s worth checking out for the cameos alone.
Speaking of annoying, I’m slogging through the second season of Grace and Frankie at a snail’s pace. It’s a gorgeous show to watch and full of actors I love, but somehow…I just don’t like it. Am I alone here?
Although it’s from 2012, Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land was new to me. It’s a fairly uncomplicated and well-told story of a small town divided on the subject of fracking. Matt Damon carries the movie, supported by the wonderful Frances McDormand, John Krasinski, and Rosemarie DeWitt.
Chelsea Handler seems to be able to do whatever she wants. I was not much of a fan of hers until I read a few of her books, which showcases her deadpan snark and intelligent humor maybe more so than her TV persona does. Her documentary series Chelsea Does was somewhat enjoyable and Chelsea the talk show feels like an extension of that in bite-size pieces. Netflix releases three new episodes a week, which is a new approach to their streaming TV shows.
I don’t normally use my blog as therapy or get too personal here. But something happened in my life that is so intensely painful that I’m having trouble moving on. I’m hoping that the practical process of writing and organizing my thoughts will serve as a means of catharsis.
A close friend of mine died last month. It came as a surprise. She was young in years and even younger in spirit. We hadn’t spoken in several months, which was not unusual for us. Our friendship didn’t require constant maintenance or checking in. She shunned social media so our catch-ups happened over email or even better, in person. I would save up stories and photos our mutual friends shared on Facebook and deliver the news, savoring each piece of juicy gossip. She always had news for me, too, and even after marathon sessions of chatting, we never ran out of things to talk about.
If I had known the last time I saw her that it would be the very last time, I would have made every moment count. I would have hugged her tight and said the important things that friends should say to each other: You taught me so much about being kind and selfless, just by being that way yourself. You are worthy and talented and smart. You are supposed to be on this planet a long, long time because you make it a better world.
I didn’t get to say those things and apparently she didn’t know those things. It took several weeks of digging and finding out information in small terrible pieces, each one deepening my grief, lessening my understanding. Eventually it was through the police that I found out my sweet friend took her own life in a horrifically violent, punishing way.
When I was trying to find out answers, suicide was not something I considered. Because she was healthy and happy. She could (and did) run marathons without even training for them. She regularly did yoga and got massages because she believed in treating herself well. She didn’t struggle for money, nor did she care about material things. She volunteered constantly because she enjoyed giving back and didn’t even view it as a sacrifice. She played the violin and never missed a performance of the Austin Symphony, buying season passes and bringing a different friend to each show. She had no enemies, only legions of friends who loved her. Her family was doting and supportive. She loved good food and didn’t smoke or do drugs, and could barely handle a glass of wine. No, she lived life unaltered and wasn’t looking for an escape.
Except that she was.
There was no depression or mental illness, but something was very, very wrong and I missed it. We all missed it.
And now it’s too late. There are no more answers to be had, only questions upon questions. Still, I google her name in vain. I check her obituary online several times a day, hoping that someone new leaves a comment that will provide some answers. Anything. I compulsively look at the one social media account she had—LinkedIn—which I made her get when she was job searching years ago. But there are no answers.
Eventually I’ll have to let this go and learn to live with the questions. I’ll have to stop obsessing over the terrible way she died and try to remember the gentle way she lived. But this loss has left a hole in my heart. I look at Violet and see all the promise and happiness the future holds and it devastates me how much my friend lost. I think of her parents and my body shudders with sobs. It’s a tragedy unlike any other I’ve ever experienced and my sorrow feels bottomless.
So much of Austin reminds me of her. Our regular dinners at Whole Foods downtown where we’d linger at the seafood counter. Of Eeyore’s Picnic. Of a North Austin spa we went to and a restaurant around corner where we sipped wine and ate oysters in a treat yo’self day. The Driskill Hotel, where we met at a Halloween ball and were wearing the same costumes. So many memories.
Death is a dreaded topic on its own, but suicide is so much more complicated. Because mixed in with the grief are confusion, regret, and anger. I feel all of those things. I’m angry that she robbed herself of a future. And that she robbed us of her. And I’m filled with regret that I waited too long to reach out and plan our next dinner. And I’m confused as to why she didn’t think her life was worth living. But through those feelings, it’s the grief that has the tightest grip.
We’re at the precipice of a new season, where it goes from hot to hotter in Austin. It’s my least favorite time of year and I start dreading summer as soon as March rolls around. However, summer does bring about some tasty nostalgia. When I think of summer, my memories are filled with hotdogs and burgers on the grill, thick slices of juicy watermelon, and piles of corn on the cob. Kerbey Lane puts their own spin on summer and they just rolled out their newest seasonal menu. Best of all, you don’t have to wait till it’s 105° since it’s available right now. I attended a blogger preview last week and sampled the menu.
You might recognize some of the featured items from last season, like the Crab Mac and Cheese Bites. These are yummy and I’m glad they are keeping them around a while longer. You can also get the crab mac as an entree. My preference is the small bites for the ideal crab-to-pasta ratio.
Kerbey Lane likes to get playful with their Eggs Benedict and their version over steak enchiladas toes the line between breakfast and lunch. Perfect for those who can never decide what to get at brunch.
If you’re like me, you have to get a pancake at Kerbey. Right now the seasonal flavor is Lemon Poppyseed which is my favorite. But if you want something more adventurous, the twist on chicken and waffles is as bold as it gets. Cinnamon beignet pancakes are topped with crispy fried chicken and a maple buffalo sauce. Total showstopper!
For the more diet conscious eater the Chicken Caprese Salad doesn’t skimp on the treats. Avocado, chicken, bacon, mozzarella, grilled chicken, and tomatoes hit all the savory, creamy notes. Slivered almonds provide a balancing crunch.
Other menu highlights are the Greek Lamb Skewers, with tabbouleh, hummus, Kalamata olives, and grilled pita, kicky little Fried Green Tomato Sliders, and Summer Chicken on a bed of seasonal vegetables like tomatoes and red bell peppers, accompanied by bacon-cheddar mashed potatoes.
For dessert, a formidable key lime pie from The Cake Plate is a delicious rendition of the classic.
What are your favorites when dining at Kerbey Lane Cafe?
This post is part of my ongoing relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner.
We’re just coming out of a month that was so incredibly busy that we’re finally just getting our bearings again. Normally I’d block off a little recovery time after SXSW, but we had no such luxury this year. We had back-to-back visits from my parents and Chris’ dad, both of which were wonderful. We took a road trip to Fort Worth and went to a wedding, the zoo, and Cane Rosso for dinner. Then last weekend was AFBA’s Colossal Curry Cook-off, which was a huge success!
Violet’s getting so big. She races down the hallway in her walker, babbles away, and tries to put her pacifiers in our mouths. So far, she’s really not digging solid foods much, but we keep trying a little everyday. My mom brought her a whole bunch of CDs and it’s so fun to watch her recognize the music and try to sing along. Sesame Street is her favorite, especially the songs sung by Grover.
We haven’t had much free time to watch TV, but I’ve relished those rare moments when I could relax on the couch and decompress with some entertainment. What we’ve been watching lately:
I enjoyed this so much I watched it twice. The light-hearted documentary focuses on Ravi Patel (who you may recognize from Master of None) and the cultural pressure to get married. It was impossible not to fall in love with his whole family.
This is decidedly NOT kid-friendly, but F is for Family is a cartoon worth watching. Bill Burr, Laura Dern, and Justin Long anchor this series that’s filled with recognizable voices. It’s some good clean 70s fun. BoJack Horseman is still my favorite though.
I’d watch Kim Cattrall in just about anything, but this was hard to get through. It’s highly stylized and on the surface, sophisticated, but also…really annoying? Cattrall is just fine. It’s Don McKellar, the male lead in season one, who rubs me the wrong way. But I’ll persevere and give the second season a chance.
What are you guys watching? Leave me a comment so we can discuss. Having trouble deciding what to watch? Make a fortune cookie!
Next Saturday the Austin Food Blogger Alliance will be holding its first fundraiser, The Colossal Curry-Off. As the current president, I’m excited that we have this fun event that will not only help sustain our organization, but explore a versatile dish not commonly featured in Austin. We chose curry as the subject of our first event because it’s virtually limitless and doesn’t exclude anyone with dietary restrictions. It can be vegan, vegetarian, meaty, glutinous or gluten-free, spicy, mild, expensive, or cheap. It can derive flavor inspiration from India, Thailand, South America, or anywhere!
People who enter cooking competitions are a unique breed. I am not one of these people, as I do not possess the skill nor the bravery to commit to such an undertaking. But I’m friends with a few cooks who enter contests from time to time and they all get that same gleam in their eyes when it comes to competing. They all seem energized by the planning, the creativity, and the excitement that comes from feeding masses of people from a makeshift outdoor kitchen space that might consist of little more than a picnic table and whatever they can carry.
I can’t divulge any secrets, but I can tell you that our 20-some contestants are bringing their A-games. The descriptions of the curries are outrageous. So buy your ticket, come hang out with us at Shangri-La, and help vote for the best curry in Austin! Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door, which is a total steal for the gourmet bites you’ll be getting. We’ll have a kickass DJ, too.
The event is 21+ because DRINKING, but you could use a couple hours away from your kids anyway. There’s pretty much no reason for you not to come. If you think you don’t like curry, that’s probably because you haven’t tasted enough yet. (It’s like saying, “I don’t like sandwiches.” Just because you don’t like salami doesn’t mean you won’t fall in love with grilled cheese. Or peanut butter and jelly.) This is your chance to find the curry you love. Will you get another opportunity to taste a ton of curries for $15 while listening to some old school hip-hop in East Austin? Probably not.
We have all kinds of great sponsors partnering with us, like Whole Foods, Wheatsville, TRACE, Savory Spice Shop, and more! The first 50 people in the door will get swag bags to take home.
Your support means so much to the Austin Food Blogger Alliance. The organization is run by volunteers and your ticket purchase goes towards helping us pay for expenses like: insurance, taxes and accounting fees, domain and web hosting, other technology fees, and supporting our own philanthropic activities for other organizations. We care about feeding the community, helping sustainable food communities thrive, and supporting educational endeavors across multiple food-related fields. It’s an active group and I could not be prouder to be in it. We even published a book!
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to enhance the Austin-area through our cooking, writing, photography, and celebration of food. There’s a lot of creativity, passion, and hard work that goes into doing what we do, and most of us do it just for the love of it. Events like this keep it affordable for members so that we can include everyone who wants to be a part of this community.
Once again, here’s the ticket link! We’ll see you at Shangri-La on Saturday, April 16th, 2-4 PM. Come hungry!
Have you guys heard about The Detour yet? The yet-to-be-aired family comedy on TBS stars creator Jason Jones (Queer as Folk, How I Met Your Mother) and Natalie Zea (Justified, Californication) as parents who take their kids on a road trip fraught with disaster. TBS used to be known primarily for rerunning our old favorites, but now they have a whole slew of original programming and The Detour will be a great addition to their line-up with its funny, edgy writing.
Check out the trailer:
Like what you see? You can be one of the first to watch it before it airs! I’m hosting a screening party at Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline next Thursday, April 7th. Sign up here to get free passes for you and a friend. Come hang out with me and TBS! We’ll have cocktail hour and snacks at 6 pm, and the show starts at 7. There will be a photo booth, gift bags, and chances to win stuff. It’s going to be a fun night!
If you’ve never been to an advance screening before, now’s your chance. Grab your girls (or your guy) and join us for a night of laughs.
This post is part of my ongoing relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner.
We’ve been busy over here, with work and life and SXSW. We were those crazy people who brought a baby into the heart of Austin’s craziest scene! Our plans were to not go at all this year and we didn’t have badges. But once the parties and invites rolled in, there were a few events we couldn’t resist.
A photo posted by Kristin Sheppard (@madbettyatx) on
One of those events was the premier of Pee Wee’s Big Holiday. It was Violet’s first movie and while she didn’t grasp the plot, she loved sitting in an audience of laughing people. She also chewed on her little red Pee Wee bow tie! We mingled with the cast and crew of the movie at the intimate afterparty. Paul Reubens was kind enough to let us snap a photo with him. The whole evening was a blast!
A photo posted by Kristin Sheppard (@madbettyatx) on
Violet was a popular little guest no matter where we went and was in good spirits. She loves being out and about, so we take her as many places as we can. I was surprised by the dozens of people who approached us and expressed admiration for bringing her along. Most had babies themselves. She had her photo taken by lots of people and loved the attention. We made some great memories.
As we cherish all these special moments, we look forward to all the fun things that lie ahead. Netflix sent us some LEGO sets for the launch of their new LEGO shows and I can’t wait for Violet to get into all these fun toys I have stocked away for her. I’ll gladly invest in some LEGO slippers to spare my feet!
The IFC series features the brilliant Fred Armisen and Bill Hader in parodies of classic documentary parodies like Grey Gardens and The Thin Blue Line. It’s hilarious and smart. Here’s a guide to every documentary mocked.
The dark and disturbing series just announced that they are filming the second season, so I thought it time to finally get around to watching the first season. Elizabeth Moss carries the drama set in New Zealand, proving her acting chops go far beyond Peggy Olson.
It’s been questioned whether Will Arnett can carry a series and Flaked doesn’t really provide an answer. The slow-moving series is mildly appealing and Arnett is always likable, but this could have been better. I almost didn’t stick with this one but there was a satisfying payoff in the end. It’s just a little arduous getting there. Also, I can’t stress how much I loathe the opening credits.