Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gone 'Pausal

"Shocked" by Suzanne Marie Leclair

Momma said there would be days like this...

...and so did my doctor.

I call it “going 'pausal”.

Last year while reviewing with me some of the symptoms of menopause, my doctor asked if I had experienced any sudden bouts of irritability. No, I really didn’t think so (insert husband smiling and rolling eyes here). But, recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that I indeed may suffer from this symptom, and so may all those within my sphere of influence.

It was an uneventful evening, like any other, sitting in front of the TV, zoning out after work, when a commercial came on that captured my attention. It wasn’t apparent what product was being advertised. Must be a new movie, I thought. The screen displayed images of strong women from eras long gone.

“It’s the cradle of life.” Is that supposed to be the mother of Moses, I wondered?

“It’s the center of Civilization.” Cleopatra. I was intrigued. The epic-sounding music crescendoed.

“Men have fought for it…” Two Japanese men leapt into the air, fending off one another with big sticks, a Japanese beauty waiting in the wings.

“…even died for it.” Two jousting medieval knights clash.

As the satisfied noblewoman smiles at her favored champion, we hear, “One might say it’s the most powerful thing on earth.”

The music then cues the audience that we have reached the climactic moment when the goal of this visual enticement will be unveiled.

The next scene shows a woman picking up a bottle of Summers Eve vaginal wash off the grocery shelf.

And, then we hear, “All hail the V.”

That was the moment I went 'pausal.

What?!! Are you kidding me?!! “The V?!!”

"Head of a Woman with a Hat" by Pablo Picasso

I snapped. I began yelling at the TV, spewing forth the full measure of my thoughts about the makers of this utterly unnecessary feminine hygiene product. I was so incensed; I grabbed my laptop and began to pound upon the keys churning out a scathing email to the makers of this ridiculous wash.

Women’s bodies are divinely made, with a perfect pH of their own and in no need of a scented vaginal wash! I realized this propaganda was targeted at young women, who might be self-conscious of their own body and natural scent because of such a product and commercial, and that infuriated me more.

Had Summer’s Eve ever even considered making a PENIS WASH?!! No, of course not!

A few minutes later, not feeling fully vindicated, I decided the topic was worthy of my Facebook page, and feverishly began to jab the tiny screen of my iPhone with one of my menopausal fingers, sharing my thoughts about this atrocity with my 300+ Facebook friends. I hit the SEND button.

As the screen returned from the little comment box to the page, I suddenly realized I was not on my Facebook page at all. I was on my church’s Young Single Adult Facebook Page. “CRAP!!” I yelled, as I frantically found and pressed the REMOVE button. Of course, a blunder such as this did go out by email to all subscribers of that page before I could correct my mistake. (Insert big sigh.)

"Blush" by Fei Liu

If only I had a robot like Will Robinson’s that would warn me of pending danger and stupid things I would do in life. Oh yes, if only I were lost in space. I guess “spacey” will just have to do for now.

"Every speaker has a mouth; An arrangement rather neat. Sometimes it's filled with wisdom. Sometimes it's filled with feet." ~Robert Orben

All Hell to Summer's Eve, Y'all!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Purple People Palate Pleaser

In Thailand, purple is worn by a widow mourning her husband's death.  In Tibet, amethyst is considered to be sacred to Buddha and rosaries are often fashioned from it. In Japan the color purple signifies wealth and position.  Purple denotes virtue and faith in Egypt. In Tennessee and Virginia, the purple bean is a freshwater, bottom-feeding mussel found in fast-moving streams.

But, in Austin, Texas, The Purple Bean Café, at 1200 E. 11th (the corner of 11th & Lydia), is the place to please your palate.

Yesterday, I had a hankerin’ for an adventurous lunch sandwich. Consulting the bookmarks I’d set on my Yelp iPhone app for local eateries, I decided on The Purple Bean Café. Although primarily known for its coffee drinks, many of the reviewers mentioned the yummy breakfast and lunch sandwiches that I decided it was time for me to partake.

Stellar service and delicious sandwiches were the Specials of the Day at the Purple Bean Café! I was greeted at the window by Kali, who sported a great big smile and was patient as I asked my questions and snapped my blog photos.

Behind her, the bustling trailer cooks were feverish and friendly as Lavalle (a.k.a. Momma), with her purple-tinted hair and fun-spirited attitude, gladly stopped mid-sandwich for a pose.

I regretfully admit that Gene and I ate our sammiches so fast, I didn’t even have time to snap a picture of them. As a first time patron of the Purple Bean, I ordered the Muffaletta and the Texan. The menu described the Muffaletta as “a meaty, New Orleans style sammich with Genoa Salami, Turkey Pastrami, our own Smokey olive/sundried tomato spread, melted provolone cheeez, sliced tomato, onion, fresh basil, served on a toasted Ciabatta roll.” Mmm….it was delicious! The olive/sundried tomato spread was a wonderful alternative to mustard or mayo, tying the flavors all together with a slight hint of sweetness.

The Texan, though, was my favorite, and was billed on the menu as “Modeled after a Chicago Style hot dog, this big boy uses local pork-venison sausage topped with melted Provolone cheese, Bavarian Sauerkraut, Spicy Mustard, Sweet Relish, Sliced tomato, onions, and fresh basil. A very sloppy sammich that brings a symphony of flavors to your mouth.” Need I say more? Of course I do!

The sausage was extremely nummy and juicy. But, the sauerkraut is what made this sandwich so special. It was very mild and sweet, which I did not expect, and it did not detract from the other flavors or textures. The onions were also sweet, not hot, and the sweet relish was a perfect complement to the meat. The Texan is most definitely a Purple People Pleaser in my book!

Each sandwich comes with a choice of chips. I also ordered the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies for dessert. For a little over $13.00 for two sandwiches, two bags of chips and two cookies, my pocketbook was properly pleased!

Top all that frolicking friendliness and fantastic food with fabulous flora and sidewalk chalk, and you have a recipe for success!

This is a child-friendly and dog-friendly atmosphere that is not to be missed. 

However, if you really don’t have time to linger, fret not, my friends! Phone in your Purple Bean Café order first by calling 512-820-9707. You can also find out what others are saying about The Purple Bean Café on their Facebook page.

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.” --Alice Walker

Eat Sweet at The Purple Bean Café, Y’all!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Return to Wonderment

Cafe Terrace at Night - Vincent van Gogh

To celebrate my return home from a week-long business trip, my husband took me out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, the South Congress Café. Located at 1600 South Congress Avenue in Austin, this eclectic restaurant sits smack dab in the middle of the funky fun SoCo neighborhood.

We were seated at a window booth, and I was struck by the stickiness of the table. When I mentioned it to the waitress, she explained that the tables were in the process of being refinished, and ours had not yet been done. But, the arrival of our salads made me forget all about that.

I ordered the Caprese Salad, a simple combination of fresh heirloom tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella cheese, homemade pesto and pine nuts, drizzled in balsamic vinaigrette.  Delicioso! 

Gene’s salad, which I’ve eaten before and featured here on my blog, is still my favorite – the Very Bleu Salad.  Being a salad snob, it’s rare to find the perfect leafy combination, but South Congress Café has a definite winner.  Romaine, chunks of gorgonzola cheese, rosemary candied pecans (oh my!), hard-boiled quail eggs and their very own balsamic vinaigrette – need I say more?

As for our entrees, we both tried dishes we hadn’t had before.  Gene selected the Cajun Seafood Scampi – jumbo shrimp, ahi tuna, sea scallop, and jalapeno sausage on a bed of angel hair pasta.  Now, I am a big fan of Cajun food and seafood, but I found the spices in this dish to be a bit too heavy and hot for such a light pasta.

I, on the other hand, reveled in my Sea Bass Gnocchi. I think this is the best piece of fish I’ve ever eaten! (That’s saying a lot, since I’ve eaten many fabulous fish dishes!) The dish consisted of a pan seared sea bass filet, homemade herb gnocchi (an Italian dumpling), roasted fennel, oyster mushrooms and watercress. The fennel was such an interesting licorice-like flavor that perfectly complimented the fish. The shift manager, who stopped by our table, commented that the Sea Bass Gnocchi is his favorite dish.

Hats off to the chefs, once again, at South Congress Café!

"5 Chefs" - Laura Barbosa

"All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind." --Kahlil Gibran

"A jazz musician can improvise based on his knowledge of music. He understands how things go together. For a chef, once you have that basis, that's when cuisine is truly exciting." --Charlie Trotter

Ciao Down, Y'all!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Unfitting Fat in Flight

I returned to work in September as a contract business analyst for the same company, working with all same people, after a two-month hiatus when my original contract ended. During this second tour of duty, I have made several trips out-of-town, but probably the most notable was my first trip to St. Louis last month.

I was given very little notice to make travel arrangements, and both legs of my flight were completely packed. However, the segment from Chicago to St. Louis was a bit more packed than I had counted on.

Wagging my cumbersome computer bag and purse through the skinny aisle of the plane, I passed row after row until I came upon my destination near the very back of the plane. Air travel is so stressful, and I had walked at a fast clip from one end of the Chicago O’Hare Airport to another in order to catch my connection (which is always the case at O’Hare).

Let me just stop right here to say, “I really hate the Chicago O’Hare Airport!” Okay, got that out of my system. Now, where was I? Oh yes…

So, there I was, frazzled, looking at my boarding pass to be sure of the seat assignment. If I could just get there, sit down and relax. Almost there…32, 33, 34A… the window seat…right next to…(insert sigh)…the very obese man in 34B. The big guy was engrossed in both his iPad, which was sitting atop his enormously large belly, and his iPhone, which he was holding in his right hand as he feverishly tapped the screen of his iPad.

I got the attention of my new seat mate, and looked elsewhere for a seat as he rose and moved out of the way. I slid into my long awaited respite. As the gentleman reclaimed his seat, he also claimed half of mine. I silently cursed myself for not beginning my diet sooner and losing another 20 pounds. With all my mental and muscular might, I tried to will all the flesh on the right side of my body to draw in as close as possible to my bones. It didn’t seem to make much difference.

I was being terribly infringed upon, but this was a full flight. What was I supposed to do? I weighed the pros and cons of asserting my right to a full seat, having paid a full fare. But, goodwill won out over comfort, and I decided to endure the hour-long flight to St. Louis without contention.

Feeling somewhat intimate with the unwanted body encroaching on my seat, I opted to make the best of things by starting up a conversation. After all, if we were going to be physical, I should at least know this man’s name.

Mr. Big finally ended his phone call and reluctantly turned off his iPhone when the flight attendant came by a second time, again asking that all electronic devices be put away. I casually asked how he liked his iPad, and Mr. B launched into a discussion about this latest, greatest device, rotating it on its perch of massive flesh so I could see the screen better. As he continued to talk about himself, never asking me any questions, I realized how self-centered this man was, how oblivious he was to my discomfort and feelings.

Unless you’ve actually had a close encounter of this kind, it’s really difficult to convey the many thoughts and feelings I had racing through my brain. I wanted to appear interested, kind and considerate. I wanted to be tolerant and empathetic. But inside my head, the conversation was seething with disgust and feelings of injustice.

Why was I to be put in such an incredibly uncomfortable situation simply because the man next to me chose not to purchase two seats instead of one? “If the flight hadn’t been full,” my alter-ego answered, “it wouldn’t have mattered.” But, shouldn’t it matter?!

Why did the airline allow this man on the plane with only one ticket when he was clearly not able to fit into one seat? “Silly woman! Charging an obese man double the price to travel would clearly be discriminatory, of course!” The voice continued, “Can you just see the lawsuits, the negative publicity? Equal rights for weight-challenged people!” Yes, I could begin to see how pressing this issue would cost the airline a lot of money in the long run. It’s almost as if I could hear the airline executives saying, “Let’s just ignore the whole obese passenger situation and hope no one makes a fuss.”

About that time, Mr. Big began to snore. Oh joy.

Notice the nice soundproof earphones? Mr. Big obviously knew that in order for him to get any sleep he would have to shut out his own loud guttural snoring. Wish I’d had a pair. And, just in case you’re not feeling my pain yet, here’s another shot to further make my point.

The only real solution, in my opinion, is to have all passengers take The Seat Test. As with our carry-on luggage having to fit into the overhead compartment, so should all passengers have to fit into one seat if they only buy one ticket. You take up more than one seat, you buy more than one ticket. Period.

As for my most uncomfortable travel experience, I am still deciding whether to demand the airline reimburse me for half the cost of my seat. I figure I could probably get a jury to award me emotional damages as well. I do feel I was violated and did not get my money’s worth of a seat!

As I relive that very long hour of my life, I can hear another voice inside my head saying…

“Good grief, Grayson! Enough already! You should’ve spoken up when you had the chance! Get over yourself! Somebody hand that woman some cheese to go with that whine!”

Yeah, yeah, I hear ya.

As a fitting follow-up to a fat blog, stay tuned for another fabulous food review coming soon to the Texas Twang.

Happy Trails to You and All Your Voices, Y’all!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hot Diggity Dog!

Hot Diggity Dog by Nouar 
Having just topped the 100-degree temperature mark for the 56th day in a row here in Austin, Gene and I pondered what we should eat for lunch. I mean, what do you eat in the middle of the day when it’s scorching hot outside? The answer hit us over the head like an ice cold V-8…a hot dog!!

Gene really enjoys watching the show, “Day Tripper”, hosted by Chet Garner, and is always looking for great ideas for our own weekend day trips. Not too long ago, Episode 210 “South Austin, TX” aired on PBS. As part of that episode, Chet featured food from Austin’s trailer park eateries south of Ladybird Lake. One of those eateries caught Gene’s attention – Man Bites Dog.

So, last Saturday, with hot dog hunger in our bellies, we high-tailed it over to Austin Trailer Park Eatery to find the Man Bites Dog trailer as featured on Day Tripper. To our dismay, we discovered that Man Bites Dog was no longer there.  Disappointment abounded.

Yet, all was not lost as we found out that Man Bites Dog had moved to a brick-and-mortar building with air conditioning at 5222 Burnet Road.  With no end in sight for the sweltering Texas summer heat, I’d say the owner of Man Bites Dog is one mighty smart guy!  While running errands near Burnet Road today, we ferried our famished palates over to Man Bites Dog for a midday meal.

Jeremiah Allen, Man Bites Dog owner, & Gene

We lucked out as the owner, Jeremiah Allen, was behind the counter to take our order.  Jeremiah assured us that Man Bites Dog will open a second location somewhere near the trailer park where he used to be located.  He knows it’s a hike for his customers, who live down south.  But, with this great new air-conditioned location, it’s worth the drive for a delicious dog!  Jeremiah explained that the franks and sausage are all bought locally, and that the idea for opening Man Bites Dog came from backyard barbeques with his friends, as he tried to out-do himself with new hotdog combinations.

The Hair of the Dog

With choices like the Buffalo Hottie, Abe Froman, Danger Dog, Greek Dog, the Cuban, the Reuben and the Howler, I found myself in a dietary dilemma! However, Gene knew right away that he wanted the Hair of the Dog ($6.59), which is a deep-fried, bacon-wrapped, large, Vienna beef frank topped with chili, cheddar cheese, fried egg and TABASCO® sauce. I tried several bites of Gene’s dog, and it was definitely a Weiner Winner with a kick!! Yum!

The Beer Brat

I finally decided on the Beer Brat ($4.79), which consists of a Live Oak Beer Brat, topped with sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard.  If you love bratwurst, you will love this dog!!  Did I mention the buns?!  Oh…my…goodness!  The buns make these dogs outrageously delicious!  Soft, huge, freshly baked, warm buns, which have a hint of sweetness, are one of the key ingredients to Man Bites Dog’s success!  
And, if one dog doesn’t fill you up, there’s also appetizers, such as Dojo Dogs – beef franks, green chiles and cream cheese, wrapped in an egg roll wrapper, Pulled Pork Mac N’ Cheese, Chicken Wings, Fried Pickles, Chili Cheese Fries, regular fries and more. Oh, and Kosher or vegetarian franks may be substituted on any hot dog! How’s that for service?!

Our conclusion? Man Bites Dog is an absolute MUST for hot dog and sausage lovers! (I’ve already picked out which dog I’m going to try on our next visit.) So, beat the heat with a hot dog from Man Bites Dog!

Dog of Man by MagrEat

"The noblest of all dogs is the hot-dog; it feeds the hand that bites it." -- Lawrence J. Peter

These Dogs Howl, Y’all!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cool Beans!

Visitas de las Hermanas - Amado Peña

Today, Gene and I saw part of a fascinating episode of the show, Modern Marvels, entitled “Beans”, featured on the History Channel.  The topic is always one of interest, since Gene and I like eating beans so much.

The most popular bean worldwide is the garbanzo bean, also known as the chickpea. Cooked, mashed garbanzo beans are the primary ingredient of hummus, a wonderful, creamy dip originating in the Middle East. Rich in vitamin C, iron and vitamin B6, hummus is an excellent source of fiber and protein, and is traditionally served with pita bread. You can find hummus in your local grocery store, and for a healthy snack, try it with baked pita chips, celery and carrots. Yum!

Below are links to a couple of delicious-sounding recipes using chickpeas that I’m going to try soon:

The second most popular bean in the world is the Pinto Bean, and most of us have tasted this wonderful bean in Mexican cuisine as refried beans. Interestingly, refried beans aren’t fried at all! Check out this interesting Food Tech video on the making of refried beans:

One of my most favorite pinto bean recipes comes from my friend, Drew, in Gatesville, Texas:

Miss Drew’s Beans
3 lbs. pinto beans
1 lb. bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (I use maple-flavored bacon)
2 onions, chopped
3 cans Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles
1 or 2 bunches cilantro, chopped
Salt to taste

1. Wash and rinse the amount of beans you want to cook.
2. Using 1 quart of water for each cup of beans, cook up a big pot of pinto beans according to the package.
3. Do not add seasoning while cooking the beans.
4. If you pre-soaked the beans, cooking time will be 1 to 1 ½ hours. If you did not pre-soak the beans, cooking time will be 2 to 2 ½ hours. Stir occasionally, making sure beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pot, and add additional water if necessary.
5. Fry bacon and onion until cooked (bacon will not be crispy). Do not burn onions.
6. Add bacon and onion mixture (including bacon grease) to beans.
7. Add 3 cans Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles.
8. Add chopped cilantro.
9. Salt to taste.
10. Cook 30 more minutes and serve hot. Enjoy!

Amado Peña

Amado Peña, renowned Southwest artist, created a painting, entitled Tres Hermanas, which depicts the Three Sisters – maize, beans and squash. These were the staples of the Ancient Pueblo People, as well as some of the later tribes, such as the Zuni, Hopi and Navaho.

Tres Hermanas - Amado Peña

The Native Americans used companion planting. First, they buried rotten fish, which acted as a fertilizer, in a mound with maize seeds. Once the stalks reached a certain height, they planted beans, which wrapped around the maize stalk. The beans provided nitrogen to the soil, and the stalk served as a pole up which the beans would grow. Squash plants encircled the base of the maize and beans to retain moisture in the ground, to provide ground cover, preventing sunlight from encouraging weed growth, and as a deterrent to pests due to the prickly hairs of the vine.

One cannot write about beans without mentioning the oh-so-dreaded side effect, flatulence. So, how can we prevent flatulence from beans? Try this tip while cooking your beans. Or, try Beano®, an enzyme-based, dietary supplement, used to reduce gas in the intestinal tract, thereby reducing flatulence. Beano® was developed by Alan Kligerman of AkPharma in 1990. He created this formula while researching lactates in an effort to provide a solution for people, who are lactose-intolerant. The man was a genius!

And, speaking of geniuses, Benjamin Franklin outlined the easiest of all solutions in the eloquent essay he wrote around 1781 entitled, “A Letter To A Royal Academy”:

“It is universally well known, That in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Creatures, a great Quantity of Wind. That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it. That all well-bred People therefore, to avoid giving such Offence, forcibly restrain the Efforts of Nature to discharge that Wind.”

Eat Beans & Hold Your Wind, Y’all!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Don't Let 'Em Get Your Goat!

Last week, I paid a long overdue visit to my friend, Paula Tarver, who raises goats and chickens in her backyard. I’ve wanted to see the animals for some time now. Coincidentally, it was milking time for the nanny goat, and she was udderly ready!

Paula Tarver milking Eve

The goats were amazingly tame and friendly, enjoying a good scratch on the head and back (just like dogs). This up-close exposure to these very interesting animals caused me to ponder more upon goats.

The Tarver Milking Setup

Goats will eat just about anything in their path and I know a number of families in the country that raise goats to manage the brush levels on their ranches. When I was young, we sang songs during road trips, and one of our favorites was “Bill Grogan’s Goat”. To jar your memory about this infamous goat, click on the video below:

Ever heard the phrase, “get your goat”? It’s an idiom that originated in the early 1900s in American literature, which means to make annoyed or angry. According to The Phrase Finder, an alternate explanation of the phrase's origin stated that goats were placed with racehorses in order to keep them calm. When an evildoer wanted the racehorse to run badly, they would “get your goat”. However, there’s no evidence to support this latter theory.

Allergic to cow’s milk? Try goat's milk! Many individuals who are allergic to cow’s milk may be able to tolerate goat's milk and goat cheese. (However, people with lactose intolerance may still be unable to drink goat milk.) Although research studies have not been able to prove exactly why goat milk may be more easily digested by people allergic to cow’s milk, some studies indicate that cow’s milk contains certain alpha-casein proteins, lacking in goat's milk that can cause allergies.

Goat's milk has also been found to contain anti-inflammatory compounds that may benefit individuals suffering from asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic ear infections and eczema. Goat's milk is also an excellent source of calcium, riboflavin (Vitamin B2), potassium and protein!

Photo by Melissa Schneider
One of my most favorite cheeses is goat cheese. I love to crumble goat cheese in my salads. The tangy, interesting flavor of goat cheese is not as overpowering and sharp as blue cheese can be, and has just as many uses.

Photo by Melissa Schneider

The first time I ever tried goat cheese was on a gourmet pizza! Knowing all the benefits, we should all eat more goat cheese. Try sprinkling it on your soup or bake it on top of a sliced tomato. Yum!

For those meat eaters, there’s always goat meat, also known as cabrito or chevron. The Onion Creek Ranch, near Buda, TX, specializes in raising meat goats, the Tennessee Meat Goat™ in fact. Although I haven’t personally indulged, I am always “game” for new meats and foods. Click here to read about a great-sounding Cabrito Guisado recipe!

“Don’t approach a goat from the front, a horse from the back, or a fool from any side.” –Yiddish Proverb

“He who lets the goat be laid on his shoulders is soon after forced to carry the cow” –Italian Proverb

“If you put a silk dress on a goat he is a goat still.” --Irish Proverb

No Goats, No Glory, Y’all!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Simmering Summer Cold Remedies

On Friday just after leaving the Austin TX Chapter IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis) monthly meeting, (which was very informative and interesting), I stopped off at Marshalls for a bargain-hunting shopping fix. I needed another set of workout togs and a new pair of tennis shoes.

Just as I spied a spectacular pair of Saucony athletic shoes, which I bought for $20 less than the last place I saw them, I began to sneeze...and sneeze...and sneeze.  I was gettin' blessed by all kinds of people. 

"Bless you!"

Well, it's time to cash in all those blessings, because I have definitely caught something crummy!  My head feels like somebody stuffed it full of cotton. My chest is cinched tight. I can't lay down without the sensation of drowning in my own sinus pools.  And, today, this crud has moved down to my throat and is threatening to invade my lungs. 

So, I've pulled out all the stops.  This morning began with a dose of nose spray, Listerine, Alka-Seltzer Cold & Flu Daytime, Loratadine (for allergies), Mucinex (the miracle mucus pill), a workout at Planet Fitness followed by a protein and "greens" shake, krill oil, and last, but not least - NeilMed Sinus Rinse.  You may recognize the name NeilMed® as the maker of the infamous Neti Pot.  (I, however, could never allow myself to use anything called a "neti pot".  That just sounds wrong to me.)

With all the medication I have doused down my throat today, it's a wonder I'm not comatose.  And, at the end of Day 2, I'm still sick.  The best I felt today was at the funeral we attended (R.I.P. Tony & Sussie Herrera), and even then I was having hot flashes throughout the entire service, which was beautiful and uplifting.

The odd thing is that I'm happy as a clam! (Are clams really happy? Click here to find out.)

Sniffling, snuffling, snorting, sick and smiling.  Weird, huh?  Yeah, I know.  I could win the Weird Woman Award and wear the ribbon with pride stuck to my forehead. 

I welcome any of your granny's or your own homegrown remedies for a summer sinus cold.  However, with 100+ temperatures here in Austin, chicken noodle soup is definitely out of the question. 

Pass the Kleenex, Y'all!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pamper Yourself!

Okay gals, let’s talk about nails. Getting a manicure or pedicure professionally is a luxury in which I have rarely chosen to indulge. However, this past year, I made a choice to pamper myself regularly, having my nails done by a salon.

Through years of nail biting and cuticle picking, I managed to damage my nail beds, which caused my nails to grow out wavy. With all the hammering on my computer keyboard during the day for work and all the hand quilting at night, I couldn’t manage to keep my nails long. They were constantly breaking and chipping.

For the first time ever, I decided to try solar nails. No, solar nails are not powered by the sun. They are the next best thing to my own nails, though – better, in fact. And, I found the most wonderful salon to get them done!

Viv Nails & Salon, located at 3115 S. 1st Street, is the third place I tried for solar nails, and it’s the last place I’ll ever need to go. Chau (pronounced “Chow”), the owner, named the salon after her young daughter, Viv. On their business card is the slogan, “Experience the Excellence”. Viv’s certainly lives up to that motto!
Chau is a lovely, gracious woman, with a radiant smile, beautiful eyes and the longest natural eyelashes I’ve ever seen on a person. Chau is always dressed beautifully, wearing lovely dresses and fashionable high heels. She is a perfectionist when it comes to nails – a quality I truly appreciate! Unlike other salons, my solar nails from Viv's were the same length, wonderfully thin and they’ve never broken off – not even after 4 weeks of washing dishes, typing, quilting and scratching the dog. When Chau gets done with my nails, they look so natural! Even my mother couldn’t tell they weren’t mine.

On one very indulgent visit I decided to also get a pedicure.

Oh, how I would love to get a pedicure done on a regular basis! Chau’s sister-in-law, Thanh (pronounced “Haun”), with her sweet spirit and friendly smile, gave me a delightfully relaxing pedicure. She was gentle with my feet, provided an addictive foot and calf massage, and expertly shaped and painted my toenails. All of this luxury while sitting in a most fabulous massage chair.

The lovely ladies at Viv’s Nails & Salon do a wonderful job of serving and pleasing their customers. I am always offered a bottle of water. And, during my last visit, Chau noticed that I was excessively hot, although the salon was perfectly comfortable for her other patrons. She excused herself for a moment, and returned with a small fan, which she plugged in and pointed at my face. It was such a thoughtful gesture to a middle-aged woman having a hot flash!

I am so grateful to have found these lovely ladies and their smartly decorated salon where I take an hour every 2-3 weeks to leave the world behind and indulge in a little “me time”.

Rejuvenate at Viv’s, Y’all!