Friday, May 23, 2008

Diary of Anne Frank by Long Beach Opera

As I've written before, I love the Long Beach Opera. Their unique productions really resonate with me - not typically an opera lover. I'm so proud we have this creative little company in our city.

Their next production is "The Diary of Anne Frank," and it's being presented in, of all venues - parking garages! Having visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, I think the garage is a brilliant metaphor for the dank surroundings that Anne and her family lived in for so long. And apparently the acoustics are quite stunning.

The opera is offering discounted tickets: 10% off single tix (code AFEB1) and 20% off groups of ten or more (code group20). In addition to the June 8 performance in Long Beach, there are two shows in LA at the Sinai Temple in West LA. Please help spread the word! Tickets available at

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ah, Austin....

I'll preface this by saying that I used to live in Austin and often fantasize about moving back there. I sing its praises so often that my best friends are sick of hearing about it and the Austin CVB should be sending me a paycheck. So if this entry is overly-effusive, forgive me. I left my heart in Austin (fortunately I took my husband with me).

My mother also loves Austin, so we planned this little journey and thought we'd stay at her favorite hotel, the iconic Austin Motel. Alas they were booked, so a quick search led me to the Park Lane Guest House, and it's now one of my all-time favorite B&Bs! Tucked away under some meandering oak trees in my old neighborhood Travis Heights, this lovely little getaway is an absolutely perfect place to stay if you want some true hippiefied Austin flavor, with Tibetan prayer flags strewn across the yard and an overall blissful zen vibe, and it's walking distance to everything I love to do. We stayed in the Garden Cottage, which has a separate bedroom and a full little kitchen. But if I return I'll opt for the uber-cool Carriage House, which is like a grown up version of a tree house and was recently built and installed by a neat little outfit called Tiny Texas Houses. They build customized little cottages and sheds out of reused, found material. It was so lovely!

For two days we basically shopped and ate our way up and down South Congress, including the obligatory stops at Guero's (see mom and me with mariachis!) and Jo's Coffee. Since we were staying in such a great little home, we were able to invite my Austin amigos over for poolside wine, which we bought at a great little grocer called Farm to Market.

A shout out here to my friend Marla, who's the publisher of a must-have magazine for you foodies out there (whether or not you live in Austin). It's called Edible Austin, and it's a terrific resource for learning about seasonal and sustainable foods. Check it out! There also might be a version that caters to your area (Edible Portland, Edible East Bay, etc.).

I did discover some new additions to Austin. The restaurant Mars (pictured here), which for years lived over near UT, is now located on South Congress and has a really fantastic patio, again shaded by those amazing old oak trees. They have a terrific happy hour and the setting and people-watching can't be beat. That was where we celebrated my anti-birthday (you grow younger in Austin), then set off for a downtown bar I'd never heard of called Lambert's. It's actually a restaurant serving fancy-fied comfort food, but all I can attest to is their quality martinis, and their choice in artwork and music. A band called Pink Nasty played that night, and I just loved them! They reminded us a bit of Cowboy Junkies, but they really made me think of Madder Rose. Thoughtful, melodic, rockin', and a slightly twangy female vocalist. I bought two CD's!

On the walls of Lambert's were gorgeous paintings by a local artist named Gerardo Arellano. This one, System Trap, is from 2006. His work was so vibrant and full of energy, it even captivated me in the dark bar.

In was the quintessential Austin evening - yummy inexpensive food on a shady balcony, followed by stumbling on a terrific band and local artist. Austin, you don't make it easy on me, do you!?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dallas and Austin, my old stomping grounds

Again I'm relying on memory in writing this entry...if any of you daily bloggers have recommendations on how to actually write on a daily basis, please share! I keep letting time pass but I obsess on spreading the word about these great places and things, so I guess it's better late than never.

My grandmother's 95th birthday took me to Dallas last month (she's doing pretty well, thanks for asking!), so I was delighted to be able to see my ol' peeps and visit some new spots, including Fireside Pies, which had terrific pizza and is clearly a hot spot. It's in my old hood near I-75 and Henderson. Back when I lived there many moons ago it was not exactly the hippest neighborhood (okay, we regularly heard gunshots) but now it's like total Hipsterville. Too funny. My cousin Diane and I made our way to Turtle Creek one day and explored a bit of the Katy Trail , a 3.5-mile pedestrian and bicycle path, traces the greenbelt along which the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT or "Katy") Railroad. Oh how I would have loved that little trail back in the day!

After a few days in Big D my mom and I hit the road for Austin but made some delightful stops along the way, including darling little Waxahachie. I don't even want to know the price on the amazingly huge and gorgeous Victorian homes lining those old streets, it'll make me want to pack up and become a Waxahachie housewife. The old town square is so cute! We stopped for a milkshake at Trinity Pharmacy, which was built in 1913, smells like your grandmother's attic, is lined with dusty apothecary bottles and offers Campbell's Soup on the menu! Look how cute mom is at the soda fountain!

We made our way down the back roads to Forreston in search of one of my all-time favorite shops, Bon Ton. It's been almost ten years since I found my way to that dusty old place, and we did at last find it, but alas it's closed on Tuesdays! But for all you vintage-loving shoppers, put this on your to-do list one day. It's am amazing huge old place and the owners are delightful and always have fantastic old jazz music playing. And oh my I just realized they have online shopping now! That's very dangerous.

Next up - Austin yee haw!