Vegan Ice Cream Trail

For my vegan and lactose-intolerant friends and family I cannot imagine the misery they face in not being able to partake in the joy of this sugary-cold dish. Lucky for them (and me) Austin is an accommodating city that offers options for all lifestyles and diets. There are places all around the Austin area that either specialize in or feature vegan ice creams on their menus.

In this map, I have compiled a list of some of the most delicious vegan ice cream locations in Austin, most of them located in the South Austin area. That should come as no surprise since the area is one of the “weirder” parts of the city.

I started at one of my favorite places in Austin, Toy Joy Café. This small café serves vegan soft serve and shakes and is connected to the eccentric toy store of its same name. I had the vegan chocolate shake and immediately was sent into a dreamland of sweet treats.

Next, I ventured into the giant that is Whole Foods where you can find many vegan options to take home and enjoy for those lazy, pajama-wearing days.

People go crazy for my next stop, Bananarchy. As the character George Bluth from Arrested Development once said, “There’s always money in the banana stand!” This stand features frozen bananas with vegan dipping sauce options.

The next place you should try is Daily Juice. Here you can take a little break from just ice cream and grab some sweet, vegan smoothies and drinks. You can either choice from their menu or create your own treat.

Kat’s Ice Cream is a food trailer to my heart. The owner of the same name is a hardworking woman who makes all the ice cream by herself and the results of her labor are absolutely phenomenal.

Hola Aloha is a small, treat trailer that features vegan ice cream flavors that rotate each week keeping you coming back for more.

I ended my adventure at the classic Amy’s Ice Cream, where you can find a delicious vegan option featured on their menu. The flavor is always changing and always divine.

On this sweet path, I no doubt experienced a Candy Lane like euphoria and trust me when I say this, you will too. Plus a vegan treat is healthier and equally as delicious as its dairy counterpart.

Bring Back The Gypsy Picnic

A few years ago I went to the first ever Gypsy Picnic here in Austin, TX.  It took place at Auditorium Shores right on Town Lake on a beautiful and sunny day.  All of the cities best food trailers were present with samples of their delicious treats, as well as music all day with Delta Spirit rounding out the day.  People brought their pups, children, and friends to celebrate this sub-culutre that has taken over Austin.  The idea for the event came from food trailer blogger Tiffany Harelik.  She runs a highly successful blog called Food Trailer Diaries all about the tasty treats being created for the food trailer industry.  She’s even written a series of cookbooks on food truck recipes.

While the Gypsy Picnic was highly successful, it has not made a return since that first year.  My tastebuds are praying to the food truck gods that this event returns soon.

 

A Film and a Food Fix

In my family, knowing how to cook is an essential skill we all must master.  For many, including myself, knowing how to cook in the family is a survival skill.  If what you make is good enough, you may be saved from future “uncle” embarrassment. So cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews work and bake away until they have that one dish they make better then the rest of the family. To show off these culinary talents we usually parade them around the holiday season.

My case is no different and in recent years I have discovered my wondrous ability to make pies, especially blueberry, better then any other member of my competitive family.   Every summer I venture back to Michigan where my family lives.  The summer months are a great time to pick and buy fresh produce and fruit.  Certain fruits are only in season for a few weeks and I always go out to pick fresh blueberries, my favorite.

The recipe is simple, yet every time my mother (who is an amazing cook) tries to make this pie it comes out less appetizing then when I whip it together.

For this “How To” video I made my delicious blueberry pie but I also decided to try a new decorative crust design. Lately I have been obsessed with ruffles, I’m also obsessed with potatoes but we won’t get into that now. What better way to enable this new addiction then to incorporate it into my food.  This design comes from none other than the mother of baking herself, Martha Stewart.

The pie has very little ingredients but how you make it is the most important part to this recipe.  Any one can follow these instructions but just remember to bake carefully and to have fun with it.  If it doesn’t come out perfect the first time, keep trying.  It may be messy but once people taste it, there’s no doubt in my mind they will love it.

Ever since I mastered this pie it has been my go to dish for family get-togethers and our annual dessert contest, although, that prize has eluded me, thanks to my uncle’s suspicious ability to make a dessert that causes euphoria.  I love the feeling of success when members of my family praise my masterpiece and beg for more.  It’s a cheap and simple pie that will impress your friends, family and enemies.

To make this magical dish you will need 3 pie tops, butter (of course), blueberries (fresh if you can), one-minute tapioca package, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon.

The movie “Waitress” chronicles a young woman going through the struggles of life and finding happiness in baking pies. I too find happiness in hearing that oven timer go off, putting on my baking mitts, opening the oven door, smelling bursting blueberries and seeing that perfectly golden crisp dessert bubbling.  So I decided that to celebrate my culinary achievement that I would watch the film.  Call it a themed meal if you will.

I hope Girl Meets World is Good

Boys Meets World was the greatest thing to ever come out of the Disney Channel… Ever.  That’s saying a lot since the 1990′s were a golden era for the Network.  Those were the days when a Disney Channel Original Movie was a cinematic evet (or at least in my house it was).  Those were the days when Cory, Topanga, Shawn, Eric, and Mr. FEEEHEEENYYY ruled the airwaves.  I miss those days, and anytime there are re-runs on TV Im there watching, pining for the simpler times.

It was recently announced that there would be a brand new series centered on the offspring of the original show’s lovebirds Cory and Topanga.  Their daughter will be the main character, middle school aged and much like the role Cory played.  Both Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel the actors who originated the cute couple have signed on to play those characters once again.  Savage’s character will now take on the teacher and mentor role as the history teacher in school.

If any fans are worried, like myself, the stars have a few words of comfort.  Savage tweeted to fans that the show would not be campy, and while it would stay true to the original it would not try to copy it, the show will be completely fresh.  I cannot wait to see the show and as a fan myself I truly hope its a success.  I hope it is as inspiring impacting on the younger generations of today as the original was to me.

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Old School Madonna is the Best Madonna

I love Madonna.  Absolutely adore her, idolize her, cherish her music.  But I should also mention that I’m talking about classic Lady M.  From the 80s into the late 90s and not beyond.  Watching old interviews of her after her first album debuted, I cant see how that person became what she is today.  Old school Madonna was about expression, acceptance, and being real.

Present day Madonna claims to still represent those things and yet lives a life of luxury in a way that isolates her from her fans.  She used to have this smile that was so honest and now her public image seems contrived and commercialized.  No longer a person but only a product of the business.

All that aside, I want to celebrate her music from the early days and the impact she made on the music world.  When Madonna’s self titled debut album came out it was a dance revolution.  She sang of growing up and having fun.  Her soprano voice and rebel style made her an instant star.

When her second album, “Like A Virgin” hit stores we saw our first glimpse into the raw nature of Madonna.  Her no fear and no apologies attitude towards singing about sex and lust and love made the album one that would not soon be forgotten.

Her songs are easy to dance to but their messages of acceptance and expression are what make them so wonderful.  When you listen to “Like a Prayer” you can’t help but feel the weight of the world just shake right off of you.  The song “Vogue” tells you to embrace the inner glamour.  Every famed person she mentions in the song is someone who overcame hardships and who inspires us, her point is that you can be that light for yourself.

If you have a little time over the Holiday break, my suggestion to you is that you watch the 1991 documentary “Truth or Dare” which followed the singer on her world tour.  Its a great insight into where MAdonna came from, what she was like in her early days and an homage to the woman I love.

The Cat Craze

If you enjoy trolling the internet as I do then you will be well aware of the human population’s fascination with cats.  I should premise this post with the statement that I myself am a cat lady.  I have a cat at my mother’s home and a cat here in Austin with my roommate.  They are lovable, cute, and fun but what makes them internet gold is their human like qualities and mannerisms.

A cat’s animals ability to give you the same look your mother does when she’s disappointed in you, the same lounging position you get go into when you’re watching Gossip girl on Netflix, that exact same feeling of a long day of work and the collapse that follows.

The cat species just gets me, they get all of us.  They represent the version of ourselves that doesn’t care what others think, that doesn’t try to put an outfit together, that will treat others however they please.  Their freedom is an envious quality.  That is certainly something the internet can cling to and has.

From a many a memes, to gifs, to famous kitties, cats are winning the internet.  Grumpy the cat took the web by storm just with her special face.  The business cat meme has so many versions Im not sure I could ever see them all.  The cat is the ruler of all things internet.  Found a picture of a celebrity with a cat? GOLD. Put a picture of your cat on Instagram using the Amaro filter? 100 likes.

So if in the future you think to yourself, “I want to be internet famous” , just remember this one thing, include cats. Meow.

Seven Minutes in Heaven

I respect and admire comedy writers to infinity and beyond.  Their work makes me laugh so hard sometimes I pee and I can;t be mad at them for the embarrassment that entails.  One of the writers I love that many may not know by name, but perhaps by work is Mike O’Brien.  He is a writer on the SNL staff, a writer for the MTV Movie Awards, and the great creator of the podcast “Seven Minutes in Heaven with Mike O’Brien”.  On this blessed program, O’Brien hosts a celebrity guest and comedy genius ensues.  The show is literally held in a closet, and guests do short improv sketches and awkward dialogue.  At the end of the show, O’Brien reminds the guest that the show is indeed called seven minutes in Heaven and you know what that implies…

 

 

freaks and geeks

In the most recent issue of Vanity Fair the magazine decided to celebrate comedy and in their parade of funny they included a reunion of the cast of the cult favorite show Freaks and Geeks.  The show that single handedly let me know it was okay that I was a weirdo, a nerd, a bonafide freak.  It’s characters were more real then any TV show today. These weren’t teens in heels, dolled up in designer clothes and perfect hair.  They were the outsiders with adorned in the clearance items from the town department store.

The show featured many actors and actresses who would later become superstars.  Hollywood favorites like Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Jason Segal all had their first real sense of fame from the show.  In some ways they owe that stardom to the show and the shows creator, Judd Apatow.

THe show’s plot lines were hilarious, awkward, sometimes uncomfortable but you were always pulling for the characters.  The cast was one big cluster of underdogs and I rooted for them all.  From the time they threw a party and the beer was switched out with nonalcoholic beer, to the awkward love triangles and kisses, to the jesus freaks and the little brothers.  This show had it all, and I relive it on Netflix as much as I possibly can without someone giving me an intervention.

So thank you Vanity Fair for so perfectly bringing my favorite cast back together.  All of them look just as their characters should, its just too much of a euphoric feeling to see them in the high school gym, taking those first day of classes pictures again.

TheBarBat

When someone flatters you, its a warming feeling.  Just to know you are noticed, what a joy.  Having someone ask to take your picture is the peak of physical flattery.  At least from my point of view it is.  So when I was out with my close friends about a month ago and a photographer approached me to take my picture, I couldn’t help but feel confident.  For the rest of the night I felt like my outfit was stellar, my hair was looking good, my make-up was polished and that I was someone worth looking at. Then, when the photos showed up on Facebook, to my elation, I was on the cover of the album.

The photographer that gave me this boost was a well known Austin nightlife photographer who goes by TheBarBat.  Real name, Brandon Scott, TheBarBat gives nightlife photography a good name.  When other nightlife shutterbugs are a joke and don’t have a true artist’s eye, Scott uses a creative technique to capture the moments.  He has his regular, weekly events, mostly on the East side at places like Barbarella, The Eastern, and Dirty Bills but also has been working on his own personal projects for just as long.

He can make anyone look gorgeous.  His style captures the epitome of a night out.  Losing yourself on the dance-floor, engaging in a conversation with a stranger, a night out with friends and booze.  He gets it all.

TheBarBat makes myself and my friends feel cool, hip, young again.  He captures us in our best moments while other pictures of us on Social Media may light us in less attractive ways.

So thank you Brandon, thank you so much for tricking people into thinking Im a cool cat.

Teen Sex on TV

Your first time is never what you thought it would be.  The first time a person has sex might not be when they are of legal age, it may not be with someone they love, and they may regret it.  Im not saying teen sex doesn’t happen, of course it does but there are teen dramas on TV now that highly glamorize sex.

Television shows like Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries feature teen characters who fool around.  A major problem with this is that their plots are always either that the two people are madly in love and their sex life confuses nothing or that sex means nothing to teenagers and is super casual.  The heightened emotions of a teen would suggest that sex could not be casual and even love as teen can be confusing.

Another show that has included a hefty amount of teen sex and sexual content is The secret Circle.  This show has one character, a bad boy, living alone in a house where his teen sex partner has a key to.  She reforms him and turns him into the perfect boyfriend.  To all the little tweens watching at home: this doesn’t happen in the real world of sanity.

You will have noticed by now that each show I have mentioned airs on The CW.  If you didn’t notice, will then Im telling you now. The network is constantly pushing the envelope of what is appropriate and what isn’t.  The shows on the network are targeted towards teens and although the actors on the shows play teens, they are adults.  This misleads teenagers about the truths of sex and growing up.

If you are not convinced that there is a pattern on The CW  and its highly sexual shows then take a peek at this video. It takes a show that is most definitely not on The CW and puts the network’s spin on things.  This edition: Game of Thrones.