Thursday, May 31, 2012

50 Completely Free Anytime Adventures in ATX for Kids This Summer

I am always looking for fun and exciting things to do around town with my daughter, especially during the summer months. My daughter may not be in school yet, but with so many beautiful, sunny days here in ATX, who wants to waste a single one stuck in the house?

As you all know, I am a huge fan of the blog Free Fun in Austin. They just published a fantastic list of of 50 Free Anytime Adventures in Austin. I just had to share this!

  1. Explore the quirky wonderland that is the Cathedral of Junk
  2. Run around Ghost Town in Manor. 
  3. Take your bike on a bumpy ride at the BMX park on 9th Street. 
  4. Dig for dino bones at the Austin Nature and Science Center
  5. Check out the impressive taxidermy displays and aquarium at Cabela’s in Buda. 
  6. Ride the saucer swings at Mueller Lake Park
  7. See the bats emerge from under Congress Avenue Bridge. 
  8. Climb the wooden forts in Georgetown's Creative Playscape
  9. Catch some free music on the Central Market patio, while kids burn off steam on the playground. 
  10. Head to a free Sunday morning kids’ show at Ruta Maya Coffee House.
  11. Play your heart out at the brand new Play for All Abilities Park in Round Rock. 
  12. Explore the Asian Supermarket
  13. Take your skateboard to the downtown Austin Skate and BMX park
  14. Go for a romp at Children’s Playground in San Marcos. 
  15. Ride your bike around the Veloway
  16. Load up on fruits and veggies at a Farmer’s Market
  17. Take a docent-led tour at Laguna Gloria (suggested donation).
  18. Climb Mount Bonnell
  19. Go on a self-led tour of the Texas Capitol. 
  20. Commune with the peacocks at Mayfield Park
  21. Enjoy the air-conditioned Texas Memorial Museum. 
  22. Visit the turtle pond on the UT campus. 
  23. Feed ducks at Mills Pond in Wells Branch. 
  24. Pet the cow statues in The Arboretum. 
  25. Visit the Austin Children’s Museum for free on Sundays, from 4 – 5 p.m. 
  26. Practice amateur Paleontology in Brushy Creek
  27. Take a hike in Wild Basin Preserve (suggested donation). 
  28. Touch a tank at the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry. 
  29. Peruse modern art exhibits at AMOA-Arthouse at The Jones Center (suggested donation). 
  30. Pose for a family portrait in front of the "Greetings from Austin" mural.
  31. Embark on a Historic Walking Tour
  32. Picnic in Zilker Park
  33. Head out on a creek expedition along the Barton Greenbelt. 
  34. Explore the Mexic-Arte Museum for free on Sundays. 
  35. Take the Family Nature Quest at McKinney Roughs Nature Park.
  36. Dine at a local food trailer.
  37. Navigate the incredible maze of costumes at Lucy in Disguise on South Congress. 
  38. Attend a Star Party on the UT campus. 
  39. Go on a scavenger hunt in The Blanton Museum of Art (free on Thursdays). 
  40. Satisfy your sweet tooth at the old-fashioned Big Top Candy Shop.
  41. Wade in Bull Creek
  42. Give geocaching a try. 
  43. Attend storytime at BookPeople
  44. Buy lunch fixins at Whole Foods and eat by the playground on the rooftop plaza.
  45. Tour a steam train.
  46. B.Y.O.Kayak or swim in Lake Pflugerville
  47. Learn about famous Texans, like Stephen F. Austin, who were laid to rest at Texas State Cemetery.
  48. Pile the kids into a red wagon at The Natural Gardener.
  49. Take a dip in Barton Creek.
  50. Visit the chickens at East Side CafĂ©. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A New Adventure

Nearly a year after officially making the decision, I'm starting nursing school today.  My "day job" since I was 22 years old has been in real estate marketing, and I've always had this desire deep down to be a nurse. Actually, my ultimate goal is to be a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist), or maybe even an MD. Who knows? I do know that I'll be making baby steps through this journey. I have this problem...I set huge goals for myself and never think about what it takes to get there, so I usually end up giving up halfway through. Even though it's a long way away, and I've already devoted so much time, energy and money into being successful in real estate (which has never been a dream of mine, but somehow it took off and I became too successful to quit) I've decided to start pursuing this goal now, and to take it one step, one day at a time. Just as with any challenge, if you look at the entire road it is long and arduous, and can make you give up...but I know one thing...I can get through today.

I do still have a deep love for marketing, and run a marketing company devoted to small businesses. Who knows, maybe someday I can eventually bring my two passions together.

I'm a little nervous, but not as much as I am excited to get this challenge started. Wish  me luck!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Official Review: Fifty Shades Trilogy

I've officially finished the entire Fifty Shades trilogy, by E.L. James. It includes Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed. I read through all three books in a little under a week. They are a very quick read, but oh, so delightful.

I don't want to say they are poorly written, because I think the storyline itself is incredible, as are the characters. I do think it could have used a little more editing, but frankly, editing is going to be the last thing on your mind when you pick up these books.

The stories center around Anastasia Steele, an inexperienced recent college grad and Christian Grey, an extremely eligible multi-billionaire, megalomaniac, control-freak extraordinaire. I would love to do true character study on these two characters. Ana is so easy to relate to, she could easily be one of my best friends. She's shy, caring, and yet so strong and willful. Christian is so opposite, though he appears to be "Master of his Universe", as is quoted so many times, he is so fragile and insecure. What starts off in the first book as nothing but "Mommy porn" actually turns into a beautiful love story. Yes, there is sex in these books...okay, it's not just sex, it's whips, chains, all kinds of things that will make you blush. I'm blushing just writing about it!

I've always had a thing for "bad boys" as most girls do, and most girls want to fix them and make them perfect...well, that's pretty much how it happens in these books. (Doesn't usually work that way in real life girls, trust me I've tried...several times.) Although, several things happen in the middle. Several things that make the series worth reading.

I HIGHLY recommend you read these books, as long as you can stand (even enjoy...oh Heavens to Betsy! I just said it...what will they say now!?) the occasional explicit romp in the hay.

I can't wait for the movie to come out. I think they could probably take the whole trilogy and turn it into one movie, in fact, I hope they do. I wouldn't want to wait any longer! Although, I still have no idea how on earth they are going to make this movie with anything less than an NC-17 rating.  You'd lose the "spirit" of the book if they took too much out!

So now, just for my own enjoyment, and perhaps yours...I've chosen my mental cast for the Fifty Shades of Grey movie just like so many other bloggers have. :) Enjoy.

I will NEVER be able to picture anyone but Armie Hammer as Christian Grey. He's so outwardly strong and commanding. Oh yes, he will do quite nicely. 

I think Lilly Collins is quite possibly the only person who could play Anastasia Steele without doing it all wrong. I know there is this whole "Kristen Stewart-Rob Pattinson" movement. PUH-lease. They would be horrible as Christian and Ana, especially Kristen Stewart. I'm sorry, I like Twilight, but I thought she lacked emotion through the entire thing. Anastasia is extremely emotional, and Kristen could never pull it off. Just wait, though...I have the perfect part for her.

I pictured Victor Garber as Carrick Grey the whole time. He just fits.
Who better to place Dr. Grace Trevelyan-Grey than Sela Ward? 
Elena came down to Michelle Pfieffer and Ellen Barkin. I honestly think either one could pull it off.
Chace Crawford as Elliot Grey. He's just eye-candy, had to throw him in somewhere.

Kristen Stewart as Lelia Williams. I always thought she'd be perfect to play a crazy loon.
Ashley Greene as Mia Grey. I pictured her the whole time I was reading the book.
Blake Lively as Kate long as she can appear a little less flighty than she usually does.
 David Morse as Taylor. He's perfect!
Jessica Lange as Mrs. Jones. Doesn't it just make you laugh to think of Jessica Lange cleaning the Red Room of Pain?
For obvious reasons....I think Charlie Sheen would be a PERFECT Jack Hyde. He could act like himself and pull it off wonderfully. WINNING!

Thank You

I want to take a moment to remember those that have given their lives for this country, so that we may enjoy the freedoms that we so often take for granted.

In this country, we enjoy so many rights and freedoms that many people in other countries could be killed for.

Because these soldiers fought for my freedom....I can write this blog, I can protect my family, I have the right to privacy, I can go to school, I can vote for the leader of my children will have the right and freedoms to succeed and flourish in ways not possible in other countries around the world.

Despite the constant battle in Washington between political parties, the rising cost of living, and all of the other things we complain about throughout the year (which we have the RIGHT and FREEDOM to speak and debate about, which in itself is amazing)...we live in the greatest country in the world.

Thank you to each and every soldier that has sacrificed their lives, sacrificed time away from their families, fought on the battlefields, the air or the sea, for every spouse and child that is torn away from that soldier for months, sometimes even years at a time and fears what each knock on the door may bring...THANK YOU. I am so proud and honored to know so many of you.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fifty Shades of....HOT

Well, I gave in...I very reluctantly bought Fifty Shades of Grey right in the middle of the hype. I usually wait until after the hype has died down. I really don't know why I do's my way of rebelling against society, I guess. AnyHOO, I decided since this clearly wasn't a book that all the teeny-boppers and Twi-hards were going to be raving about, maybe it could be interesting after all.


Exquisitely Explicit.

As my dear friend Lori so eloquently described it...Mommy porn. I think she hit the nail on the head! Although, I will say this book has many graphic moments. However, that's really not the heart of the story at all. It revolves around the innocent Anastasia Steele and kinky, jaded billionaire Christian Grey and how they come to have a real relationship. Unhealthy relationship, absolutely. I don't think that E.L. James was trying to portray a happily-ever after perfect existence between these two. I think she meant to show their relationship and their characters exactly as they are...imperfect people with  deranged inner demons in a toxic relationship.

I've never written a book review, and don't really intend to start, either. However, if you are looking for a good, quick read that will leave you and quite possibly your significant other with a great big smile, go pick up the whole series. I've only read the first book, but I am waiting impatiently for the next one, Fifty Shades Darker to come in on Wednesday.

I may write an actual review once I finish the series. In the meantime, go buy a copy so we can all dish about it! :-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

tarka Indian Kitchen- Round Rock

I don't think I've mentioned on here, but as of Monday...I am a vegetarian. I'm not making this choice because of any political reasons. I still believe that cows were put on this Earth to feed man. I have decided that at least for the next 30 days, I'm going to give this lifestyle a shot because of the numerous health benefits. It's been two days, and I honestly haven't missed meat yet. 

Anyway, recently when I mentioned to some friends that I would be making this lifestyle change, they told me that Indian food was a great cuisine for vegetarians! When I was pregnant, I worked in an apartment community that was predominately folks of middle-eastern descent. At that time, having never tried Indian cuisine before,  and having an extra sensitive sniffer I had pretty much sworn off all Indian food before trying any of it. I pride myself on being able to try new things without hesitation, so I didn't want this to be any different! Today a friend of mine marched up to a local Indian kitchen and decided to give it a whirl! 

We went to tarka Indian Kitchen in Round Rock. The atmosphere was lovely! Reminded me  of Pei Wei a little bit, just brighter. For a party like us, that was slightly nervous about the unknown, the atmosphere was welcoming and familiar. 

We both ordered the Tikka Masala. My friend got hers with chicken, and I got mine with Paneer (a creamy Indian cheese). I decided to get this because it seems to be a pretty popular dish, and I wanted to err on the side of caution. The masses can't wrong, right? Ha! At least not when it comes to food. I'm so glad this was my first experience with Indian food. It was absolutely delicious. Not only were the serving sizes perfect, but it was so tasty! I got mine "medium spicy". I can handle heat, but the difference between TexMex heat and Thai heat is outrageous, so I didn't know what their definition of heat was yet. I could have easily done hot, the medium was just a little spicy, but only enough to tingle. Served with Basmati Rice, which is one of the best rices out there in my opinion, it was a perfect lunch! It had an interesting flavor, I can't really compare it to anything I've ever had. I would get it again in a heartbeat, and now I'm more open to trying other dishes, too. Oh, if you go, get the garlic naan. good.

tarka Indian Kitchen is in Round Rock across the street from IKEA. 
201 University Blvd., Round Rock, TX 78665

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