Monday, December 14, 2009

Flubbed Texts

I got permission to use this, although I won't identify the participants.

A friend was out to dinner recently. He was at an Italian place. His wife thought he was at Chuy's, since that was his original plan. She has a new cell phone and was having a little trouble with the texting feature. She couldn't call him since he was in the middle of a business dinner. He got these texts in quick succession:

"Your mom"

"Called and I talked to her"


"Should just give up texting, but maybe you could bring creamy?"

Of course, "hate" has become our new in-joke. She intended to say that she hates texting on the new phone, but "hate" was all she got out before accidentally hitting send. It came out sounding like a slam on her mother-in-law -- definitely not intended.

The last text, for those familiar with Chuy's, is a reference to the magical creamy jalapeƱo dipping sauce for chips. She was requesting that he bring some home because YUM. Out of context it sounds a little, um, strange.

So there's your Monday giggle. What else has made you smile today?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sunday Strollin' in Chicago

This is my third visit to the Windy City, but it's really my first chance to explore the place. I'm enjoying it a lot.

We got here on Saturday, collapsed in our hotel for a two-hour nap, and took a train ride to Wheaton to visit friends that evening. I failed to take any pictures, but I'm kicking myself now. Their girls are adorable, and we had a great time hanging out with them. It was also my first time on a "real" train, as opposed to a subway. It took two subways and a commuter train to get us there.

On Sunday, we took the advice of my friend Heather, a Chicago native, and went for some real Chicago stuffed pizza.

This location was only one stop away on the El. Unfortunately, our El stop isn't exactly conveniently located. You get used to the cold and the long walk though. I bet I wouldn't have a gym membership if I lived here. Not a lot of really overweight people here, I'm finding. Even though they eat this.

This is quite possibly the best garlic cheese toast I've ever put in my mouth. Flaky bread, melted cheese, perfect marinara... my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

And that was just the prelude to this.

Yeah. They have to cut around the edge of your plate to separate the cheese from the rest of the pizza. This is my kind of meal.

This was when I started to understand what my Chicago friends mean when they tell me the Austin-located "Chicago style pizza" places aren't the real thing, that they're pale imitations. I din't want to believe them, but I have to say they're right. The flaky crust, the sauce... Giordano's is the place. Yum.

After we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant, we headed to the Belmont subway station to find this funky little tile mural. I had to capture it since it was so fun.

We headed to the State Street shopping district. Macy's here, like in NYC, takes up an entire city block. Also like in NYC, they take their window decorations seriously. I won't bore you with all of them, but there were several places where the scene was reminiscent of "A Christmas Story" with the kids pressed against the glass.

There was also a group of several guys playing percussion on five-gallon drums that were very talented. My new camera takes video and I captured it, but I am having technical difficulties getting it onto youtube. I'll leave that on the to-do list and hope I can manage it soon.

We headed inside Macy's -- the biggest department store I've ever seen. If you're an escalator fan, this is the place for you! I really just liked the lines of this shot.

Once we got near the top, we looked out a window and saw this. The architecture was really beautiful throughout the store.

On the 7th and 8th floors was the Great Tree. You can tell how tiny the people are in this shot; the tree is just enormous.

Once outside, the city was dressed in its Christmas best, breathtaking in the twilight.

This was taken near where we ate dinner. I don't know the name of the building, but I loved looking up through the Christmas-lit branches.

We passed a plaza where there were dozens of trees lit up in front of a Christmas tree.

This is the same plaza, shot from the side.

We walked down Michigan Avenue across the Chicago River, to get to a reputed John Cusack hangout. Sadly, there was no Cusack joy to be found. On the bright side, we met a fascinating lawyer from Houston, a fellow who played football for Texas in the Earl Campbell days. I think I may have had a better time talking to him than I would have to Johnny himself!


Anyway, on the way to the hangout we passed the Wrigley building, which is beautiful at night.

These are their Christmas trees, above the main entrance.

And back at our hotel that night, these are the decorations there. Home sweet home-away-from-home!

I've loved exploring a new place this December. What is your favorite Christmas tradition? What is your favorite new thing this year?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Got My P-Dub On Last Night

Don't be afraid; this is still a family blog.

For the uninitiated, P-Dub is one of the many nicknames for The Pioneer Woman, a popular multi-blog covering life, love, cooking, photography, homeschooling, cattle... I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Ree, a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman, published a cookbook. I can hear my friends laughing that I would buy (or use) a cookbook, but stick with me here. I've been reading PW for a while and love her sense of humor and her "keep it real" tenet. She's now criss-crossing the country on what must be an exhausting book tour, in December no less. So last night, I headed down to Book People, a great independent Austin book store.

I got there later than I wanted (6:30 for the 7pm event) and found a couple hundred people waiting -- and no chairs. Now, I have plenty of padding, but I really don't enjoy sitting on the floor for long periods of time. Call me a grump. But I found a friend and settled in.

Marlboro Man (the widely accepted name for Mr. PW) and all four of the pioneer kids (called "punks" on the blog) appeared around 7, and Ree made her appearance at 7:15. Unfortunately, my video didn't work out sound-wise, but here are my first glimpses of MM and PW:

You may be able to tell in MM's pic that he's signing a cookbook; he had his very own line. He's such a quiet man. I'm sure he's ready to head back to the ranch and leave the hundreds of women behind. Or maybe he enjoys the attention just a little. After all, PW's adoring posts have caused women all over the country to swoon when MM walks in the room.

For anyone who may be curious, I took notes on the Q&A. Here is what I wrote down, with quotes for what she actually said and no quotes when I wasn't fast enough to keep up with it.
  • Q: Will you publish "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels" (the love story of PW and MM)? PW: Yes, she's working on part 2, and it's due to be published on Valentines Day 2011.
  • PW on Bonnie Hunt (PW was recently on her talk show): "She has cute hair. I'm shallow."
  • PW accidentally bought Spanx in a size too small for her: "I'm finding it hard to breathe. If I turn blue, call 911."
  • Q: Does she like photography or cooking more? PW: They're so intertwined now it's hard to know, but probably cooking since it's done to please others.
  • Q: How does she get everything done? PW: "I don't get everything done. I do what's fun for me." She went on to talk about how she doesn't have to start school at 8:30 and how her closet is a mess.
  • Q: Where do you go for groceries? For other stuff? PW: Ponca City for groceries, milk and butter. Tulsa for a serious run into town or "to see the picture show."
  • Q: Do you read all your comments? PW: Yes, all of them. Well, not the contest ones. Then her closet would be an even bigger mess!
  • Q: Is Ree your real name? PW: "My name is Anne Marie. Mike called me Wee Wee." It was later shortened to Ree, and she was thankful.
  • Q: Why do you pots always look so clean in the pictures? Do you buy new ones for shoots? PW: laughed, said they're just scrubbed. She does not photoshop her pots.
  • Q: Who would you cast as yourself in the movie of your life? PW: Elle Macpherson. Q: What about MM? PW: "Let me think about that..." (never answered)
  • Q: Do you have new [photoshop] actions planned? PW: Yes, in about 6 weeks.
  • Q: How much butter do you use? PW: "That's a personal question. I don't have to answer that!" [pause] "Pounds and pounds."
  • Q: How is your family handling being on the road? PW: "I'm in denial; we all agreed to meet here."
  • Q: Has Oprah called? PW: "No, but Bonnie called!"
How much fun is she? The rest of her family is probably ready to get back to the quiet of the ranch (and she may be too, for all I know), but she handled the crowd with grace and humor.

She called an end to the questions so the line for signing could begin. We were all given colored bracelets, and the line was in rainbow order -- ROYGBIV. Red and orange bracelets could get in line first. Since I was so late, my bracelet was blue.

While I was waiting, I got in the shorter line to have MM sign my book. Here is his signature:

There is also a picture of his famous Wranglers on the last page of the cookbook, with the notation, "The End." When people asked him to sign, MM would inquire, "front or back?" Ha!

I told him I'd like to give his lovely wife a gift and asked what colors she likes and/or wears a lot. He said bright colors, especially red and turquoise. Hmmmm, didn't have anything that color with me. But since I had so long to wait, I whipped up a selection of single beads on cords for her to choose from:

At the insistence of the women behind me in line, I gave her a business card as well. She chose the purple-red heart on the right and asked if I have an Etsy store. (I didn't then, but now I do.) She said I really should. I then gave Betsy, PW's sister, her choice of the remaining beads. She chose the next one on the right, the one with multi-colored stripes.

Here are the lovely ladies behind me in the line, who really wanted to be on PW's blog and who graciously let me do bead market research on them:

And this is the biggest reason I'm still cursing myself for forgetting my new camera last night. The BookPeople folks were taking photos of people with Ree as the line moved along... but my camera phone did not cooperate on the most important pic of the night. Here is my very blurry photo with the Pioneer Woman:

Still, a great night and some fun memories. Thanks, Ree!

I failed to blog seeing Don Miller on his book tour (I didn't wait around to meet him), but that was a great night as well. His partner in crime did a monologue, and he talked about a mishmash of his books.

If you've hung in this far, a few questions: have you ever been to a book signing / reading? Did you hang out to meet the author? Was it worth it?