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Do We Need Needles?

Stephen_AI’ve known Stephen Andrews of Morning Sun Acupuncture for years, and I’ve always considered him to be a kind, thoughtful, and incredibly down to earth person. He comes across as calm and balanced, whereas generally when people meet me (and I’m quoting a certain local weatherman here) I’m “like a hyperactive squirrel darting around” and it’s obvious that my mind is always racing. After a really bad week, Stephen offered to stab me with his magic sticks give me my first acupuncture session. I was a little skeptical, but I came out a firm believer. (Sorry for the magic sticks joke, I can’t help myself!)

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I was a little nervous, and thought that I might feel pain. Rest assured, there was absolutely no pain, not even for the needles that went into my scalp. Also, I didn’t even realize he was inserting them. He had this calm, effortless, and conversational way of nonchalantly applying them unbeknownst to me. He took great care to address my goals, and concerns: I was looking to lose weight, and also to deal with some rather powerful anxiety.

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The room was warm, comforting, and perfectly zen. In all of my constant worry, I was able to let loose, and he gave me a lot of great advice to help unify my mind and body in reaching my goals. Did I mention that he’s smart? He’s incredibly smart, and seemed totally dedicated to making sure I got what I needed, and had the tools needed to try some exercises at home to help with my constant, needless worry. At the end of it all, it felt like I’d just left either a yoga session or perhaps a really good massage. If you’re on the fence about acupuncture, allow me to tip you in the direction of it. I’m certainly going back for more.

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Lucky’s Puccias Opens Brick & Mortar

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Lucky’s Puccias, that locally famous wood-fired Italian sandwich truck, has now moved up the street, and into their own at their first brick and mortar.

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My partner has been a fan of theirs for a while, and even donated to the kickstarter they launched to help them get the restaurant going! That’s dedication, and should tell you just how delicious their hot, crisp bread is; there’s nothing else in town like it.

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With delicious pizzas, bountiful salads, wine, and even gelato from Dolce Neve, this place is ideal for a decadent lunch, or casual dinner just outside of the hustle and bustle downtown.

An English Christmas In Austin

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Have you ever roasted a leg of lamb, popped a Christmas cracker, or even made roasties? (Are you wondering, in Gollum’s voice: “What are ‘roasties’ precious?”) If the answer is: Yes, to any of these questions, then this is the post for you!

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I damn near lost my mind when my British boyfriend decided to leave me, the ex-vegan, a @#%@ing leg of lamb, and told me to cook it for our Christmas party last night. Are you kidding me?! I am not a lamb-eater, and I don’t know if I’m eating the hand of the puppeteer from Lamb Chop, or god-knows-what, and I certainly don’t know how to cook it! Needless to say, I texted him in a panic. (Don’t fret, Dear Reader, because I will tell you how to cook a 4.5 lb. boneless leg of lamb in this post.) I was kind of stuck with All British ingredients, and very little knowledge of how to cook them, despite my stint living there which has absolutely nothing to do with this in any way.

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Now, the vegetables I could handle. (Okay, okay, Dear Reader, I’m becoming that Asshole Blogger that I hate so much when I’m trying to Google a recipe, and they bore me to death with the details.)

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The roasties, however made me a bit scared. There’s a trick to them. (Look at me being a tricksy blogger.)

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Which, luckily, I learned. (So tricksy.)

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Here’s a shot of it: The Beast that had me running scared. (F- it. I said I’d teach you lamb, you endure my photos of said lamb.)

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And,of course, we did some store-bought British stuff. (Can Walker’s just sponsor me already?)

IMG_1541Okay, fine. I’ll give the goods:

Leg of Lamb (Assuming Yours is ~5 Lbs.)

  • Remove the bone. Don’t ask why. My boyfriend did, so I don’t know?
  • Rub it with olive oil (I’m not Ina, I’m not saying use ‘good’ olive oil)
  • Stab it a bunch and put garlic cloves in the holes (more than 6)
  • Cover it in rosemary (In the words of Annie Ray: MORE!)
  • Add some water to the bottom, not a lot, like a splash you’d do in a glass of vodka.

The oven will be set for 375, and you’ll want to watch this. It may take 3 hours, just keep track of the internal temp on a meat thermometer (I totally didn’t). It should be 140-160, but my boyfriend came home to a happy 180, and it was still okay. Again, it takes about 3 hours or so, so don’t start this thing at the last minute.

Oh, the roasties (super delicious British delicacy that is not the same as roasted potatoes):

I shoved them in the oven when I figured the lamb had about an hour to go. (I did those roasted vegetables earlier, because I figured people wouldn’t notice the temperature as much – in case you’re wondering, about 30-45 minutes with balsamic and olive oil.)

  • Par-boil some peeled Russet potatoes
  • Shake them vigorously in a bowl (or strainer) – it’s necessary because it gives them a floury exterior: IMPORTANT
  • Drizzle, LOL JK, DOUSE! them with oil of choosing
  • Bake for about an hour

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I hope you enjoyed the recipes, and I hope you have a great year full of empathy, and forgiveness. Why do I mention that? Why not??

Class Pass: A New Way To Get Fit

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Class Pass just launched in Austin, and I am genuinely excited. Have you ever wanted to take a cardio rowing class? Perhaps you hoped to someday visit Ride Indoor Cycling? Maybe you’re more extreme (like me) and are just dying to sign up for a torturous session of boot camp at Heat? Class Pass charges a flat monthly fee of $99 that let’s you take a plethora of classes at places all around town.

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The site is super easy to navigate: You choose your neighborhood(s), activity, time, and date. You can input as much or as little information as you’d like, and once you spot a class you like: you reserve the spot. I’ll be taking my first class on Friday and can’t decide between Zumba and barre. Don’t wait until after the holidays to get in shape! Class Pass gives you so many options that you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll enjoy.

Disclaimer: I will be trying these services free of charge. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Eating East: Nasha Indian

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Finally! There’s Indian food on the east side! Nasha recently opened it’s very colorful doors, and I’ve already been twice.

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The first time I went, I was a little put off by the harsh lighting inside, but absolutely adored the outdoor patio (warning: acorns will fall on you). On my recent visit, I noticed that the indoor lighting may have been changed for the better. Hurray ambiance!

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Both time I had the Malvani curry, ordered desi hot, and absolutely loved it. It’s exotic, coconut-y, and bursting with flavor.

nasha-indian-austinMy friend grabbed the Millionaire curry, medium hot, and wasn’t quite as impressed, but still ate every single bite. (He can say he’s underwhelmed all he wants, but I saw him lick the plate.)

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The wine and beer are fairly priced, and overall it’s a great spot if you are craving Indian, but simply don’t want to endure the hassle of traveling to north Austin. Did I mention that they made Indian tacos? I’ll just leave you with that.

Beauty Blog: Jose Luis Salon

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You may be wondering how this healthy, happy hair (shown above) happened. Especially considering that with color treatments, and a staunch refusal to lose any length of my proudly grown hair had led us to what you see below.

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Ouch! (And yes, both of those pictures were taken on the same day.) I decided to get over my haircut paranoia, and visit the luxurious (really luxurious) Jose Luis Salon on West 6th.

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It was there that these two magical people transformed my look from Tara Reid ca. 2003 (sloppy makeup, and about a half foot of split ends) into sleek, modern fierceness. Tyler, a master stylist and I presume very talented musician from Minnesota, was well versed in current trends, and happy to talk to me about which direction he thought I should go.

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He understood that I was scared of losing length, but also eased me into what needed to be done: chopping the dead weight off. We discussed blunt, razored edges, and he gave me exactly what he told me he would. (I should mention that he gives one killer scalp massage, and wanted me to disclose that he was only dressed as a cowboy for Halloween.)

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As soon as my hair was finished, they offered to throw in some makeup. What?! I was getting my hair AND makeup done?! I felt a little bit like Cinderella as Sarah worked her magic with the airbrush on me. (Okay, at this point I felt more like Beyonce than Cinderella, which we all know is an even better feeling.) She let me ask a ton of pesky makeup questions, and didn’t bat an eye when I changed my mind for which direction I wanted my look to go in. She was so gentle, patient, and understanding when I complained that my eyes were watering during the eyeliner application that I told her she should be a pediatrician. (I have a hilarious image in my head now of her being a pediatrician for one of the kids on Toddlers & Tiaras, given her makeup talent.)

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You saw how perfect my hair and makeup looked in the first image of this post, but as you can see in the one directly above, my whole look (minus the lipstick I surely drank off between F1 day parties and happy hours) held up. I looked and felt amazing, and had way too many people hit on me that day. (No lie.) If you want to to get your hair and makeup done for an event, or perhaps just to feel so good about yourself on the outside that it pierces your inside, I definitely recommend taking a trip to Jose Luis, and checking in with Sarah and Tyler.

Disclosure: I did receive complimentary services, but opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Food Find: Terry Black’s Barbecue

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We made a quick stop in to Terry Black’s to try Austin’s most talked about, new barbecue stand. The weather was nice, and their patio offered plenty of seating with a beautiful view of the Long Center.

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It was late in the afternoon, but we still managed to grab some of their last brisket. Given that I can’t have beer lately (blame it on the low-carb diet), I was happy to see wine offered by both  the bottle and half-bottle ($12-$18). There were no lines, despite the restaurant being moderately busy.

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We thought what we had was above-average, and even better when you factor in that there wasn’t a 2 hour wait, or a 3 hour drive to acquire it. I should also mention that given you don’t have to jump through hoops to get their food, it’s not necessarily an insane, melt-in-your-mouth, Franklin-esque experience. It’s still good though, and definitely worth a try on a lazy Saturday afternoon after a dip in Barton Springs.

East Side Find: Jalapeno’s Taco Bar

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I went to Jalapenos Taco Bar expecting not to like it, and boy was I wrong.

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The place was small, but not cramped, and the salsa was delicious.

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I mixed it into everything.

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The ceviche tostada was overloaded with fish, and my boyfriend’s bacon breakfast tacos more than filled him up.

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Their prices were already low, but we had a Restaurant.com coupon, and the check was unbelievably cheap. We essentially had a Mexican Thanksgiving feast for what came out to be around $13. I highly recommend stopping by this place for good, cheap tacos.

Beer Pairing: Central Market + Brooklyn Brewery

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Nothing says summer quite like burgers and beer, but Central Market decided to take it one step further with a multi-course beer pairing featuring selections from the acclaimed Brooklyn Brewery.

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It was admittedly my first time at the Central Market Cooking School, but I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. We were provided with menus, recipes, and an in-depth guide to the beer that we were about to sample. First course: Grapefruit, Asparagus & Pecorino Salad paired with Brooklyn Pennant Ale ’55. The Brooklyn Brewery representative, a very experienced brew master, mentioned that this beer was English-style, and my English partner agreed.

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Next up, we learned how to prepare Lobster Chorizo Pasta. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s lobster that is cooked alongside chorizo, and not some mysterious, new seafood-sausage dish. The beer for this plate was the Local 1, a delicious Belgian-style beer that’s fermented inside the bottle (like Champagne!). This was probably my favorite thing both food and drink-wise of the night.

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After further stuffing ourselves with burgers and Brooklyn Summer Ale, we moved on to a presentation on how to prepare Lamb Scottadito, meanwhile learning the proper way to taste beer between each plate.

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The lamb was served with a dark, brown ale; a contrast to the East India Pale Ale that we were about to sample both inside and outside of our crepes.

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The final course came around, and surprisingly we didn’t explode before it arrived. The crepes themselves had beer as an ingredient, and we were taught the short, but painstaking process it takes to prepare such a delicate dish. The beer proved to not be painfully hoppy, which was a pleasant surprise. If you’d like to catch one of these dinners near you, be sure to check out Central Market’s website. And if you don’t have a Central Market nearby, you’re still sure to have easy access to a delicious array of Brooklyn Brewery beers.