Austin Cityscape from the river

Keep Austin Weird: 10 Unique Things to Do in Austin, TX

Austin’s famous unofficial motto is Keep Austin Weird. Established by local businesses, it’s an effort to encourage individuals to buy from Austin-run businesses and grow the local economy. BFF hates it and dislikes when she inadvertently (inevitably) describes something in Austin as weird. I kind of love it, however. To me, it embraces that which makes businesses exist there and not elsewhere and experiences you can only have in Austin. But it also expands beyond the businesses to the people themselves. Austin welcomes that which makes us unique as humans. And that’s pretty cool.

With BFF and family living in Texas, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Austin. During my summer of travel, I got to experience a month of Keep Austin Weird and break away from the traditional tourist items on lists on this topic. Everyone knows about the Museum of Weird or the Cathedral of Junk. I wanted to find things a bit more “local” that might not be on lists as frequently. So here are my 10 recommendations for distinctive, Austin activities. Continue reading

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Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats

Deliciously Peanut Buttery Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats

For years I struggled with peanut butter flavored rice krispy treats. I never thought they were very good, and they certainly were never very strong in peanut butter flavor. What is the point if they don’t taste like peanut butter?

So, I decided to make my own.

I spent years testing it, trying different ingredients, and adjusting the amounts, until I finally found the perfect recipe.

And, if you’re looking for a last minute treat for Halloween, these are perfect! Continue reading

Irish Castle

Ireland – Off-the-beaten-path Dublin Activities

So week two in Ireland was just as fun, if not quite as filled with touristy things. Now that the three-day weekend was over, it was back to work – 4 hours in the morning, a 3-hour break, and 4+ more hours in the afternoon.

Tuesday, based on a suggestion by Miss Model and Tall One, BFF and I went on one of those splash boat tours. The tour in Dublin is Vikings themed – complete with Viking helmets. The bus goes around the Viking area of Dublin, then into the river, but I didn’t think the information particularly focused that much on the history of Vikings in the city. Or perhaps that’s just because we already went to a museum that has a whole floor dedicated to Vikings so I was underwhelmed. We did, however, get to growl and scream at people as our bus went down the road. Our group managed to startle one person; most just looked at us with amusement. It rained on Tuesday for about two hours. Can you guess when? That’s right while we were on the bus! We were in the first row without a roof. Kind of miserable. Definitely plan for rain and sit where the roof will cover you. We treated ourselves to hot chocolate from Butlers afterward. Yummy! BFF and I tried different kinds, and we both recommend the marshmallow one. Continue reading

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Ireland Weekend: In the Face of Sadness We Explore

Memorial Weekend, Tall One, Miss Model, BFF, and I planned on traveling to Amsterdam so I could cross of another country from my list. We couldn’t quite get our schedules to work (Monday was not an Irish holiday so Tall One (my sibling) had to work and Miss Model (sibling’s girlfriend) had an event on Sunday). Instead we checked off something else that was on both Tall One’s and my bucket list – Northern Ireland. Continue reading

Woman crouching to take pictures of flowers

Ireland, we have a problem out here…

There’s no way to talk about the rest of the summer without talking about a not-so-slight hitch that occurred the first Friday night of my trip. And that requires some background, so bare with me.

3 years ago, I graduated from my master’s program jobless, recovering from a stalker ex-boyfriend, and completely unsure what my next steps should be. I knew that in a few months when my apartment lease was up if I didn’t have a job the smartest choice was to move back to CA and live with my mom to avoid a rent I couldn’t afford. But while I love CA, I also love DC and so I kept searching for something that would reasonably keep me there. And as I tried to figure out that part of my life, I knew I had to get over the fear my ex had put in me. So I went on a few dates because I figured the chances were high I’d move across country and therefore I didn’t have to fully make myself vulnerable because I don’t think long distance relationships can work.

And then I met a guy who changed that. Continue reading

The Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin, Ireland

Ireland Week One: I brought the sun!

Landed in Dublin mid-morning on Sunday. I actually had great flights. The middle seat on both the flight from SF to London and London to Dublin was empty. Huzzah! I managed to nap a bit on the long flight, but the real trick to beating jet lag is to STAY HYDRATED. Every time the flight attendants come by with water, have a glass.

My sibling, Tall One, picked me up from the airport (so nice) and after dropping my super duper heavy suitcase off at the apartment, we had a lovely brunch at Angelina’s. I was skeptical about the quality of avocados being from CA and so far from where they’re grown, but I ordered an avocado toast and was most certainly not disappointed. Continue reading

Empty chairs at an airport with a plane in the background

Let the Adventure Begin…

My parents instilled a sense of wanderlust in me (and my sibling) at a young age. I was barely 6 months old when I traveled to a different state by plane – Hawai’i – and I was 7 by the time I traveled to Europe for the first time.

So I’m always up for a travel adventure. I enjoy skipping about different cities and countries, some times in style, sometimes not. Exploring the touristy options as well as finding fun spots off the beaten track thrills me. Recently, I kept seeing advertisements for Remote Year on Facebook and thought how cool it would be. A year might be a little much (my work does host a huge conference, after all), but the idea of spending months working remotely and staying in places long enough to feel like you lived there sounded like a dream.
Continue reading

Pesto Pizza Poppers on a plate with dipping sauce

Pesto Pizza Poppers

My work held our second annual Spring Bake-off recently. We have both sweet and savory categories. I wanted to bake something a little different rather than a traditional baked good, so I went with the savory category.

Flour, sugar, salt, olive oil, pesto. yeast, mozarrellaI remembered from last year that a lot of our savory treats were yummy, but not very filling – read with bacon jam, savory shortbread cookies, etc. I thought it would be nice to provide something a little more substantive, but I needed it to be easily transportable and enough for 15 people to try. I was inspired by pizza monkey balls. That seemed easy to make into an eat-while-standing treat.

Thus, Pesto Pizza Poppers were born. Continue reading

Black schoolgirl with molecular structure at the desk in chemistry laboratory

#MakeWhatsNext – Misses the Mark This Year

Three years ago, Microsoft launched a spring campaign to encourage girls to join STEM fields. Girls Do Science, the first of their ads, was inspirational. They gave girls hope – in the form of letters – that they could one day be the inventor, the maker. Year two (2016) gave them women to aspire to be. Inventors who made their mark in history.

This year, they released multiple advertisements in a row. The first two were great, again following the inspirational nature of the original campaign. The girls featured in the ad got to play with awesome technology (proving it is in fact still an advertisement for Microsoft products). They are even named inspirationally: Find the Cure and Be the Solution.
The third 2017 advertisement, however, dangerously misses the mark. Why dangerously? Because it follows the same common theme we teach girls and women (and honestly all minorities). Continue reading