Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

The presents are wrapped, the cookies are baked, I've got a glass of mulled wine and all that's left is to wait for Santa.

Merry Christmas all.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fooling around with acorns

I was a little bored yesterday, so I went out looking for adventure and found...acorns. 
acorn flowers



This was in the Cullen Sculpture Garden, if you are looking for acorns, they have a lot.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Places to have lunch: City Hall

The old city hall: I love the art deco architecture.

If you are downtown on a Wednesday consider the City Hall Farmer's Market.  The variety was amazing: Greek, crepes, tamales, tacos, gumbo, cheese steaks, Indian food, cupcakes.  And since you are wandering from stall to stall, you aren't limited to one particular cuisine. You could start with a greek salad, move on to tacos, and finish with crepes!

Or if you really want a treat, splurge on a macaron.

And I do mean splurge, that little cookie was two bucks. But it was an absolutely sublime way to spend two bucks: crisp meringue cookies on either side of a buttercream filling, a very high-end oreo. The one pictured is peppermint, but there were lemon, cassis, pistachio, and others I can't remember. The best cookie I've eaten in a long while. 

If you want to pick up something for dinner, there are other stands selling pickles, breads, cheeses, carrots, (I'm sure I saw turnips) and the biggest salad bowl I've ever seen. Seriously, it was the size of an ottoman.

And to toss your salad, you can get some custom wooden spoons made by this man.

Matt Adams of Stormware Creations. A green artisan, he only works with salvaged wood and he does take commissions. He was working with another man, Jeremy Grubb, who does furniture as well. ( We had a nice chat about wood types and furniture.  I'm not in the market, but if you are check them out.

I wandered around, had some gumbo, did some people watching and just enjoyed the day.

Bon appetit!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Swiss Christmas market

I love local festivals. Art festivals, watermelon festivals, rodeo, whatever, it doesn't really matter. Local festivals are a great way to see what people in a community care about. This weekend was the Swiss-American Christmas Market. There were carols, cookies, toys, arts and crafts, and of course, a gingerbread house competition.

I think this one made good use of licorice rope for fencing and I liked the candy tiled roof, but 

the marshmallow ski slope on this one was very inventive, and I liked the peppermint over the door. Hard decision. Gingerbread design is a demanding art.

A teenage girl tried to talk me into buying a stollen to support her class. (Only $20!) I didn't, but she did get me to spend $2 on two tiny cookies, and I felt guilty for not buying more. She has a future in sales.

But the highlight was RACLETTE!  I hadn't heard of raclette until last year, when my French teacher described it. Honestly, it didn't sound all that interesting, a way to do toasted cheese without an oven. Oh was I wrong. This stuff is fabulous. And unlike fondue, you don't have to worry about the bread falling off your fork. You get your portion of melted cheese all to yourself.

You could smell the cheese toasting all the way to Rice University. You could have found your way to the market with your eyes closed. Sadly, raclette is not very photogenic. But food that makes people this happy, doesn't have to be.

Happy Monday!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lions and tigers and bears!

Today was such a lovely day. I just couldn't bear staying inside, hunched over a computer filling out job applications.

So I went to the zoo.

Meerkat handles - too cute

I haven't been to the Houston Zoo since I was 8, and all I remember about it is the train (which they still have) that goes all the way around Hermann Park. I didn't take the train this time around, but focused more on the animals.

A natural redhead, you think?

This monkey was pretty calm until one man kept calling him a sloth; then he turned around and refused to let us take any more pictures.

a vulturine guinea fowl

Ugly head, but what beautiful feathers! like a short, balding acountant with a splendid tie. The birds in this enclosure had to cope with sharing the space with tiny antelope ground squirrels, sort of like chipmunks on uppers. They didn't so much run as bound back and forth like kids in a bouncy castle.  Cute, but much too fast to photograph.

The zoo has a lion named Jonathan. Johnathan likes attention. He picks the part of the lion enclosure closest to the people and poses for photographs. It's even on the sign "Johnathan loves attention."  He reminds me of a housecat I know.

Jonathan and his public
Johnathan's showboating was in direct contrast to the tiger across the way, who ignored everybody and refused to turn around.  There was a moment of expectation when he got up, but he simply moved from lying on his left side to lying on his right side, and we never got a look at his face; the big, stripey, tease.

I hope the next thing on the renovation schedule is a new or upgraded reptile house. I felt rather sorry for the alligators, they seemed so confined. Still, they have a good variety, particularly of snakes.  I hadn't seen one of these before.

A rhino-nosed something. I can't remember the full name.
I didn't see the whole zoo, and there was a lot more to see including the birds, the wolves, and the new African Forest exhibit. But I was tired and decided to go home before I got as cranky as this guy.

Grumpy the meerkat 
Have a good weekend!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Funny bunny

Found this drawn on a building behind Zimm's.  Is it a bunny? a demon? or something else with pointy ears, like a Vulcan? Sadly, the artist could not be found for comment.