Monday, October 20, 2008

We're #1, We're #1

On Saturday Clay and I attended the UT/Missouri game. We've been in Austin for two years now and decided it was about time we experienced Longhorn football. We got a good deal on season tickets because of Clay's student status. This is our third game this season and I am loving it! The mid afternoon games haven't been too pleasant especially when the sun seems to single you out and direct all it's heat on your seat. This past week's game was especially exciting because of our new status as the #1 team in the country after our stomping of OU. With over 98,000 fans in attendance the atmosphere was intense. There was a lot of shouting, cheering, and high-fiving with total strangers. After attending two other schools with teams that had less than stellar programs it's fun to be at a school that is ranked # 1. Clay will say I'm only there to watch the marching band, and while I do stand up during half time to watch while everyone goes to the bathroom or sits down, I do enjoy the football. I'm already excited for the next game.
Hook 'em Horns!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Our Just Desserts

There are two things that I have learned about the Holland family: One there is always room for dessert, and two they will turn anything into a competition. When faced with the decision to spend our night going to a comedy club, watching the bats on Congress bridge, going to the Drafthouse, or some other touristy thing for Wendy and John's second to last night in Austin, it was decided that we would have a pie making contest.
John called his parents to get Omi's "secret" pecan pie recipe, Wendy and Clay searched the Internet and the many recipe books on our shelves, while I tried to be resourceful and make a pie with ingredients we had on hand. We gave ourselves 30 minutes to come up with a pie and then went grocery shopping. I must admit I thought I would win hands down because I was the only one that had ever made a pie by myself. But the Hollands proved to be quite the competitors.
Each person had a designated cooking spot in the kitchen as to deter sabotage and stealing of ideas. There was a fervor of activity that lead to one almost-disastrous crust, one not-quite-cooked-in-the-middle pie, one is-that-ever-going-to-be-ready pie, and the oops-I-forgot-the-vanilla pie. Thankfully the only causalties were my clean stove and kitchen.

Clay: Buttermilk Chocolate Chip
Andrea: Rasberry Peach w/Streusel Topping
Wendy: Key Lime Cheesecake
John: Chocolate Pecan

We needed some neutral judges so we solicited the help of the Harmans. With our pies in tote we arrived at their house ready for them to declare the winner. After some lively discussion, and lots of pie eating, the secret ballots were cast and the results were as follows...


Nostalgia Factor: Andrea

Best Overall: Clay's Buttermilk Surprise

Best Aroma: Andrea (Cinnamon and Brown Sugar just smell better)

Aphrodisiac: Clay (it was creamy, gooey, and it felt a little wrong enjoying it so much)

Short Bus Award: Clay (I'm not sure what this really means)

Best Presentation: Wendy

Miss Congeniality: Andrea (friendliest competitor)

Honorable mention goes to John's Chocolate Pecan Pie - it was the first one to go.

Finger Lickin' Good

My brother, sister, and I share a common flaw, a flaw passed down from our father. I know what you are thinking, and, no, red hair is not a flaw. As Mark Twain said, "While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads descended from cats." I'm not quite certain what that means, but cats must be better than apes, right? Ruadh gu brath! No, our common flaw is something else entirely, though now that I think about it more, it is not a flaw either. You see, we share in common an inordinate love for barbecue. How could something that feels so right be wrong? So what better way to spend a weekend with my siblings than to treat them to the wonders of Texas barbecue. We all made the 45-minute pilgrimage to Lockhart, Texas, home to two of the top 5 barbecue joints in Texas. How could we decide which one to try? We couldn't, so we had both. The verdict? Mmmm...meat candy. Best barbecue ever. At both, you order by-the-pound from a counter and are handed your meat and white bread or crackers on butcher paper. No utensils, no sauce, and slim pickin's for sides. I was initially skeptical of the no sauce approach, but was quickly won over by the delicious meat. No sauce necessary. Ultimately, I think we enjoyed the pork ribs more at Smitty's and the brisket more at Kreutz. Put the two together and you get one of the best meals you'll have. Of course, since barbecuing brisket is more an art than a science, I'm sure the balance might change on any particular day, so we'll always have to eat at both places so as to be sure we're not missing out. I think Andrea and I will return whenever we come up with a decent excuse to make the trip.The next day we were returning from zip-lining in the Hill Country and couldn't resist stopping at The Salt Lick since we were so close. Prior to Smitty's and Kreutz, The Salt Lick was our favorite barbecue spot in the area. It made honorable mention on that list of best barbecue in Texas. It was still excellent in its own way--we especially love the sauce. Instead of the family style meat buffet, we opted for a by-the-pound approach and still had plenty of leftovers, which we of course ate the next day. Count it, that's barbecue three days in a row. Three magical, delicious days. Thanks for the excuse, Wendy and John.


A few weeks ago John and Wendy came to visit on their way to BYU. As they have been here before we wanted to make sure we came up with new and fun things to do. Luckily we were able to take time off from work and spend more time with them this time around. One of my favorite things we did was taking a zipline tour through the Texas Hill Country. The tour company, Cypress Valley Canopy Tours, has an eco-friendly approach to the tour, our guide Iker told us about the trees and wildlife as we went from platform to platform.

John walking one of the bridges between platforms. Clay tried running accross one with his eyes closed and no hands. I think there might still be a bruise.

Here we are on one of the six zip lines. The harnesses are very flattering. While on the ground we were given a little practice run on braking and landing on the platforms. Suprisingly I never ran into any trees.

We spend a lot of time doing things in the city so we really loved taking a break to be in the trees. It was beautiful! Clay and I want to go back and spend the night in their Lofthaven, a little treehouse for two.

Monday, September 1, 2008

In defense of books

This one's for Ben. Why read the book when you can watch the movie?

The usual response when one has seen a movie based on a book is, "The book was better." I do not think this is coincidence. Authors of books are not, like movie-makers, restricted by time and audience to compress complex plots and thoughts into a relatively short time. The author of a novel can fully develop and provide direct access to thoughts, emotions, and arguments of the characters. In a way, their thoughts become your thoughts for a time, and you must confront or
react to what you read internally. Because you are exposed to greater psychological depth in books, you have a greater chance to become deeper yourself. Relatedly, reading provides more mental exercise. Not only must you visualize what takes place yourself, and therefore
exercise the imagination, but to read well, everything must actively run through your mind. And
books give you the opportunity to take advantage of that experience, because books place you in control. You are given time to question, to consider, to go back and to reflect. Movies must convert and condense everything into faster-paced words and actions that often do not have the penetrating power of words on the page. Watching a movie you are pushed along with the action. It takes less time and less concentration; it is less conducive to rigorous thought. Ultimately, I think, that is the issue. You simply think more and better when reading.

P.S. I love movies. Great movies do make you think (though often after the fact) and can entertain in ways that books often can't. Images provide emotional immediacy, and are often worth a thousand words, as the saying goes. But I simply disagree that movies can provide everything that books can, or that movies can replace books without losing something vital.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Our First Time

Clay: "I don't know what to say. It's hard writing a joint post."
Andrea: "It will only be this one time."
Clay: "I'm not in the mood to write."
Andrea: "You're not in the mood? That's a good line, I'll have to remember that."
Clay: "Fine..."

First times are always a bit awkward. Stay tuned for more from the Holland's days.