You know what I love about ski trips? It is simple fun. In fact the simplicity takes me back to college: fleeces, jeans, lip gloss and beer. On a cold day, even though there were only a few in Austin, we would throw on a Patagonia, jeans and with a little lip gloss head to class. And of course, there was always a plan to drink beer somewhere. **flashback- Cain & Abel’s**
Well, when I think about packing for our upcoming ski trip I realize it is a fairly (and I use the word loosely) minimal vacation. Truthfully, there isn’t really a need for a ton of accessories or extravagant wardrobe changes. Ski wear for the day, and for the night jeans, sweaters, and snow boots. I am really looking forward to hitting the slopes, again. It has been too long. I cannot wait to fly down the mountain and reward myself with a Colorado pint.
With packing in mind I thought I would share a few ski trip musts.
1. LL Bean Boat and Tote Bag– The good or cheesy news is you can monogram the bag in which I love monogramming items. Brian always makes fun of me. I have this tote without the zipper, and strangers know my name because “Karra” is slapped on the side. And that’s cheesy, I know, and I don’t care. It is a great carry-on tote, then at your destination, whether you are at a ski lodge or beach, you can haul your stuff in it.
2. Sweaters/Fleece– or both. It is an easy layer, keeps you warm and depending the look, simple chic. And I found a similar sweater at BCBG. Have you checked out their 60% sale??!
3. Knit Hat– This particular Kate Spade hat is a little spunky. I tend to buy more neutral colors, with little character. Either way, on the slopes knit hats keep the head and ears warm and at night can be a practical accessory.
4. Ski Jacket– Patagonia and North Face are two of my favorite outdoor brands. This year I found a great North Face jacket at Whole Earth. The two things I love about the jackets are: its versatility and durability. Under extremely cold temperatures the jackets are made to layer within it and for cool, rainy days can be used as a light windbreaker. The materials are lightweight and withstand years of wear.
5. Ski Pants– Whole Earth was good to me. In fact Brian and I found our key ski staples there, including these pants. Functionally, I cannot comment, yet, but they are cute and flattering.
6. Snow Boots– Now, I saw these shoes in the J-Crew catalog and thought they were perfect. In fact I am regretting I did not buy them this morning. The 1-2 business day delivery made me nervous because I need them tomorrow. At any rate snow boots are a must. The last time I visited a location with snow I wore cowboy boots, probably the easiest way to scream, “I am a Texan” or “idiot.” Before tomorrow I have to find a cute pair of snow boots.
7. Simple Accessory– I am a big fan of earrings. It is the one accessory that makes a difference. It completes your look. Of course, if your ears aren’t pierced, then this statement is irrelevant. Nevertheless, I have a pair similar to the ones illustrated, and I like them because the design looks good with my hair up or down. More importantly, I have found them to stay put in the most challenging circumstances, such as water skiing. A small earring such as a stud work with a casual, simple outfit, make-up/no make-up— perfect for a laid-back vacation in the mountains.
I was happy to read The New York Times finds Houston credible enough to make it the #7 place to visit in 2013. By the NY Times recognizing our city’s greatness, and what takes some people, including myself, years to see, was exactly the publicity we deserved.
I have to say it probably wasn’t until I met Brian where I finally saw the ins and outs of Houston. He literally turned this city inside out and introduced me to places I didn’t know existed. I should be embarrassed to admit it. After all, I am a native Texan, prior to meeting him I lived in Houston eight and a half years, he who was born and bred Missourian, midwest man was introducing me to places such as Warehouse Live. I remember going to Brasil for the first time, never knew it was near Empire Cafe. But, yeah, six years later between he and our friends we have literally soaked every part of this town in our souls and look forward to many more great experiences at both our old and new favorites.
With that said I thought I would compile a list of the Top 10 Things To Do in our beloved city. This list started in last year’s blog, so if you read my starter blog, then you will notice #8-10 were written in the past. However, a good friend told me it would be better to list all 10 at once, so with my “re-launched” blog I thought I would provide a full list.
Additionally, I think it would be even better if you add to it. As you scroll through the list you will notice I am seeking more insights because the truth is, I haven’t been to all the places I mention. And, yeah, I may be breaking a rule there, but my friend said to provide a full list, so I am taking his advice.
Here it goes—
1. Museum District and Houston Zoo
Honestly, I do not go enough, but Houston offers a great array of art museums, a fabulous Natural Science museum and various cultural museums. For all those parents I know you appreciate the Childrens’ Museum. One I have been meaning to visit is the Menil. Have you been there? What is your most favorite aspect of it or any of the other offerings?
The Houston Zoo seems like this is a place you save for a kids outing, but on a nice Houston day it is a great place to go for a walk and enjoy the sounds and sights of the animals. Another kind of cute thing to do is take the pedal boats for a ride with your significant other or BFF.
2. Music Scene- Go See a Live Show!
Yeah, yeah, Austin is the live music capitol and maybe it is, but Houston has great venues to see live music and some really good bands perform here. I promise.
And by city, I do not mean The Woodlands, even though Arcade Fire threw down the house last year at the Pavilions.
My favorites are:
Fitzgerald’s– The greatest part about this venue is you feel up-close and personal with the bands. We have seen great performances from the White Rabbits, The Walkmen, Iron & Wine, to name a few. Future shows we are looking forward to enjoying are Ra Ra Riot and Local Natives (March).
Warehouse Live– We haven’t been here in over a year, but my first show was 2007 KOL, which holds a dear memory between Brian and me and probably Omar. It is another up-close and personal type place. Oh, some other great memories were Peter, Bjorn and John, Bloc Party and Metric.
RIP Walters on Washington– This was like watching a band play in a dumpy, Victoria bar. White Rabbits, Girls were both great to see here. Of course, as I am writing it I had to Google to make sure it was “RIP”– obviously, have not thought of this place since it closed its Washington home, and turns out it is still alive, but to keep up with the shows you have to link-in through Facebook. I tried to “friend” it, and it said, “sorry, too many friend requests.” Really? OK. Well, then RIP. Sticking to my top 2 places. –and I guess, replace #3 with House of Blues.
And Brian would frown if I didn’t mention, Free Press Summerfest! First weekend in June, come join us as we sweat our asses off and do anything to stay cool. Last year, Snoop Dogg made the bloody, hot day worth it (Brian had no idea I knew all the words. Hello. I am from Victoria, TX), and Willie, well, it was just sad. It was worse than Bob Dylan at ACL, 2007. Nevertheless, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Young The Giant, and Robert Ellis played damn good shows. Looking forward to 2013’s line-up announcement.
3. Dive Bars
For those days when you only feel like throwing on jeans, flip flops and a white tank dive bars rock. A few of our favorites are:
Cecil’s– our neighborhood bar, a destination we can walk Lucy and relax on the patio with a cold beer
Rudyard’s– randomly it offers a menu of a couple of our favorites, fish tacos and spicy pulled pork sandwich. Delicious. Also, a place we can bring along Lu-dog and hang outside on their patio.
West Alabama Icehouse– a Spring and Fall favorite. Lucy also loves this place because she can run free and smell all the various smells from other creatures both human and mammal.
I know, I only named 3, but inHouston what dive bar do you love most?
First, you have to like to run to agree with me here. And if you don’t like running, and are able, you should try it. It is the best stress reliever and challenges the mind and body like no other cardio I have experienced. If you are a runner, then you know a 5am Saturday morning in Houston opens up another world of life.
Great places to run– one is an obvious start, Memorial Park, which can connect to my personal favorite Allen Parkway Bayou trails, leading you into downtown, if you dare, and stopping for water at Discovery Green. Memorial Park also offers trail runs, which are a nice diversion to street running. Another fun neighborhood to run is River Oaks, as it is also an extension of the Bayou or Memorial run, depending which direction you start. Of course, Hermann Park and Rice University are other great places to get your shoes dirty and rack-up mileage.
Did I leave out your favorite running route and/or location? If so, then, please, share it. I am always up for a new scene.
One of my favorite pastimes. Good and bad, the internet has taken me away from my usual browsing, but I still enjoy the satisfaction of buying and immediately taking it home with me. For all things running, Luke’s Locker is my favorite. For all things gym, yoga, etc. like many other consumers I love Lululemon’s selection of all things pretty. Cosmetics, Chanel counter at Neiman Marcus. Menswear, I hate to give away Brian’s favorite, Rye 51, but for the men it is such a cool, manly place to shop. How does a glass of scotch and a little personal service sound? Where are these types of shops for us? I wouldn’t mind a glass of bubbly as I shop for my new pair of jeans. Speaking of jeans, Nordstom’s selection is pretty decent. For me Hemline’s newer location in River Oaks is very convenient, great place for a last minute dress or even cute top and jeans. Shoes- well, really they are everywhere, but the sleek, fancy feminine shoes at Joseph’s are so fun to look and dream, same with Saks and Neimans’ departments, Nordstrom’s offers a great spectrum of shoes from designer label to what Brian may call, the more practical shoe. Practical is so boring, though. Bliss on 19th is a great place for gifts. Some people are big Kuhl Linbscomb fans, but recently I have noticed the retail agents are not very warm, which is sort of annoying. Their jewelry selection is very dainty and beautiful, for example a friend of a friend’s line is there, Amanda Sterett, love her stuff. I still haven’t been to Restoration Hardware’s new store in Highland Village, but can only imagine it being a place to spend an afternoon in awe. I will save it, until we buy a house. I have to draw the line somewhere.
Where is your favorite place to shop in Houston?
6. Dog Parks
Do you have a little four-legged buddy? If so, then you know your little furry friend likes to run amongst other little furry friends. Lucy’s favorite is the water fountain on Allen Parkway. Since she is a Boxer she tends to overheat most of the year in Houston’s beautifully, sunny weather, so we take her to play Frisbee where she may get quick relief in its water. Right next to it is the first dog park I knew. Dogs enjoy jumping in the Bayou. The only thing that freaks me out about that place is the inevitable question- are there alligators in the Bayou? We used to take Lucy up to the park off Westpark and 610, but she got to a point where she just sniffed around and ignored the other dogs. She isn’t much of a swimmer, but that place is great for dogs that do. And if you live near it, then that is an extra bonus. Now, a concept you know you have thought it should have been your business idea is Boneyard- a bar and doggy park! Drink a glass of wine or ice-cold beer and let your pup meet and play with other pups. For play-dates it is a win-win for both parents and four-legged “children.”
7. Houston’s Cultural Festivals
In my opinion the best part of Houston is its diversity. With diversity comes the celebration and sharing of it. The International Festival takes place over two weekends in mid-Spring. The rodeo may not sound diverse, but think about it. It is. It is a great place to experience cowboy hats, boots, BBQ, music and ice-cold beer. The Chalk Art Street festival sounds random, but one year I stumbled upon it and found it to be quite creative and cool. And I can’t talk about festivals without mentioning Lights in the Heights, White Linen Nights, Italian Festival at St. Thomas, Art Car Parade, all very memorable times.
What is your favorite festival?
8. Houston Sports Complexes- Old Post
This is an obvious must. I mean, it is nice being in a city where you can watch PROFESSIONAL basketball, football, baseball, soccer, hockey, etc. Even if you are like me and find most of your teams visit Houston, well, at least, they visit Houston and you get to see them play. However, I must say two Houston teams I definitely cheer for are the Texans and Dynamo. Speaking of the Dynamo– the new stadium is really nice and orange.
With the new stadium, aka, BBVA Compass Stadium, it will bring other events to Houston, such as rugby. Who went to rugby Saturday night? We did. Who knew anything about the game? We didn’t. Who watched the entire game? We didn’t. Isn’t that awful? I shouldn’t even write about it because I have nothing worthy to state about it, EXCEPT its fans. I must say the USA Rugby team has some pretty loyal and expressive fans, which made for a great people watching evening. If it weren’t so damn hot, then maybe we would have stayed until the end, just to see if any of the expressive fans could make us shake our heads or laugh more.
9. Eat Out in Houston- Old Post
Another obvious choice. I mean, it is one of the best parts of living in a city, restaurant choices. My 3 new favorite places to dine are:
Uchi (http://uchirestaurants.com/houston/)- I was probably one of the last people to finally try Uchi. A part of me was waiting for the hype to subside, but another part of me thought, maybe, it is just hype. Therefore, I walked in to Uchi with low expectations, sad to admit. BUT, I am here to state, it is my new favorite restaurant. I love the food’s creativity and flavor combinations. The menu is so fun to read, a little overwhelming, but still, fun! In fact my girlfriends and I couldn’t concentrate, so we had the Chef’s Tasting, which is a great way to try things you may or may not otherwise choose. We picked a fabulous bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, and it paired well with everything we ate. My favorite dishes were raw or undercooked. While the hot dishes were tasty, I preferred the cold tastings. Perhaps, I was just in the mood for the raw fish. Nevertheless, the place rocks! Finally, something from Austin worth the hype. Sorry, Torchy’s.
Underbelly (http://underbellyhouston.com/)- In my little ol’ opinion Chris Shepherd is the best chef in Houston. When he closed Catalan, I was devastated. Then the chatter began about Underbelly, and it couldn’t arrive in Houston soon enough! LOVE IT!!!! Of course, we die for the Korean Braised Goat and Dumplings. When has anything partied like that in your mouth??!! The goat is so well-married with the spicy, tangy, sweet sauce, and the light, cuddly little dumpling– will make you beg for more. And we do. Thank you, sir, I’ll have another. Everything I have eaten at Underbelly has been delicious! In fact there was a month or so we went at least once a week. Well, last Saturday we returned from a small break, so the weekly streak may need to start, again. TOO GOOD TO MISS!!!
Brasserie 19 (http://www.brasserie19.com/)- At this point this place is old news, but I don’t care. It is consistent, and worth every last bite. The best bread and whipped butter in town. The best selection and quality of oysters in town. The best Dirty Gin Martini in town. Another place where I have liked everything and anything I have ordered. The house-made Salmon Gravlax was a dish I had never heard, and oh, wow! It is a perfect hors d’oeuvre- salty, creamy and added to toast the flavors dance on your pallet.
10. Sundance Movie Theater- Old Post
Have you been to it, yet? Well, Brian and I went Friday evening and decided to take full advantage of the food and wine bar and experience everything the movie theater had to offer. I mean, the whole idea of watching a movie with a glass of wine, legally, and eating a gourmet meal sounds pretty appealing. If you have already been there, then you know you pick your seats with your tickets, which is very convenient.
We walked over to the food and wine bar and ordered a margarita pizza and BBQ chicken quesadillas. OK, so that is not really gourmet, but it isn’t a tub of popcorn, covered with fake butter or a greasy hot dog, either. Anyway, we took our food and drinks to our assigned seats and were ready to watch Safety Not Guaranteed. The food was decent. My wine was tasty, and I believe Brian enjoyed his beer. Now, the movie was pretty funny. Mark Duplass from The League and Aubrey Plaza from Parks and Recreation were hilarious. Brian kept telling me not to laugh as loud, but if you know me, that is sort of impossible. Overall, I am glad Sundance is opened. The concept makes sense. We loved going to Angelika and were sad when it closed, so at least something a little better took its place– definitely better than another Edward’s Cinema. Overall, highly recommend you check it out, if you haven’t already.
The Houston Marathon is officially less than a week away from today. Are you ready? You are. It will be one of your life’s finest journeys. As for me I will be on the sidelines cheering for you. In the previous five years 2012 was my first time to be a spectator and cheer. It was exhilarating, and I am looking forward to doing it, again! If you haven’t watched and cheered runners in the Houston Marathon, then I highly recommend you step out of your house with your coffee, curlers, slippers, whatever and offer support. As a past runner I can tell you it is so motivating to hear people call out, “Go Kerra.” No stranger ever pronounces my name correctly, but in the race it lacks importance. Even if someone called me “Karen,” I was thrilled and would wave back and smile big.
Sunday, look for us around mile 7.5, then for marathoners we will be there, again, around mile 24. Sunday, I bought poster board and markers, so this year we will have signs, as well as, my obnoxious hat and bell. Cannot wait!!!
Anyway, it is part of my personality to be full of advice. Ask my friend’s teenage son. I have overwhelmed him with college advice, he may think I am a little off my rocker. In the spirit of preparation and Karra’s awesome advice here are a few race day tips I have either read in Runner’s World or were verbally shared by my fellow runner friends, coaches. Speaking of runner friends, please, feel free to add more because I know many of you have run 50X the number of races I have.
Do not try a new outfit or shoes. It could be a total disaster. Stick to clothes and shoes you have worn in your training long runs.
Men: Rub Glide on your nipples or cover with bandaids. My guy friends who have experienced not doing it, really regretted it. Big time.
Use Glide or vaseline in areas where your clothes are sure to rub. You can decide where.
Do not try new foods Friday or Saturday nights. In fact do not eat any greens or fiber Friday or Saturday. The last thing you want to do is interrupt your run with a little cha-cha-cha. And, please, do not pull what I saw one elite runner do in the 2012 Houston Olympic trial run, –shat in his pants. Yuck!
This advice was given from an elite runner. Marathon 2009 Brian and I were volunteering for the Saturday’s Childrens’ run, day before race, Meb Keflezighi introduced himself and said if he could offer one bit of advice, then it would be: “Sleep with your feet upright, against the wall.” He said it would help bring the circulation down from the legs and feet, making the run easier. That night I forgot and did it an hour before getting up, didn’t really make a difference, but really, was I the right judge? Little ol’ amateur me. I remembered the advice in 2011’s Marathon, but, again, who am I?! Anyway, who knows. Maybe, it will work for you. And it came directly from Meb’s mouth, so I had to share it.
If you have any aches, and I am not an M.D., so take this advice lightly, start taking Advil Friday and pack a couple in your pouch in case you need it during the race.
It looks like there is a little rain in the forecast. If it may rain, then wrap your shuffle in plastic wrap. In 2011’s race I ignored that advice, and it poured basically from mile 1 to 14, so by 15 my shuffle was D.E.A.D. Ugh. No bueno.
Relax. It is just a competition with yourself, unless you are an elite athlete, then, well, you are not reading this blog.
Smile. Have fun with it. Enjoy the crowds and support. You will be pleasantly surprised. I think, every year Houstonians get more and more involved with the marathon.
Good luck! We will see you along the course, cheering you on with coffee breath, then possibly, bloody mary breath.
Here are a few more pics from last year’s Olympic trials…didn’t capture stinky pants, thankfully.
Have you been to the Brooklyn Athletic Club, yet? If not, then you should try it. It is owned by the same folks as Glass Wall, a favorite of mine. Anyway, we went Friday night and enjoyed dinner over a fire pit (the fire is gas-operated, so your clothes and hair won’t smell like the BBQ cook-off). If you remember, it was quite chilly that night, but between the fire, heat lamps and wine we were mostly comfortable. When the weather is nice, so April and October, it will be a great place to eat/drink outside and enjoy the various games offered such as bocce ball and croquet.
The wine list is decent, as well as, the beer selection. I noticed a cocktail menu, so I will have to try one next time. Brian and I shared the cheeseburger and mac & cheese. Both were rather tasty. The fries were thin, salty and pretty perfect. Our friends had the mussels, pork rillette, and papparedelle & meatballs, all seemed to enjoy their dishes, as well. It is a cute, new place, definitely worth trying– and I will gladly add it to my list of places to eat/drink outside.
It is a big no-no, forgetting to take pictures to share in this post, and I apologize. Fortunately, their Facebook page is fairly detailed. Check it out.
The best way to watch SNF is with one of my husband’s delicious sandwiches. Tonight, he made a Philly Cheesesteak, and it was, maybe, the best I have had (and I am not just saying that because he is my husband). We are still dreaming of our very-own sandwich shop. And despite the fact I am supposed to do less dreaming in 2013, sometimes it is just fun. Plus, the sandwich shop is really his dream. I am just here for support.
The key to the sandwich is the meat. I picked up a ribeye at Whole Foods and had them thinly slice it. After a little seasoning, fry the meat, add sauteed onions, mayo and cheese, then serve in a french loaf. Yum!
In the spirit of New Year resolutions I have made a list of things I hope to do more and less this year.
Do more of…
Practicing Spanish– Continue my exhausting attempt to become bi-lingual. Espanol Con Amigos will start its second year, where a group of our friends get together and explore other Latin cultures through food and language. More to come with a blog post about it.
Read– “Go read a book” or several. I must read more. Please, send any suggestions. My attention span is terrible, so recommend your best.
Giving Back– Taking it a step beyond money and giving my time to charities. Two of my primary focuses are Dress for Success and Houston Area Women’s Center.
Thanks– Through notes, prayers and time, spending at least 3 minutes a day being thankful for something
Do less of…
Watching Television– The Ringer marathon threw me over the edge. Combine it with Lipstick Jungle, Cashmere Mafia, Glee, Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and it is OUT OF CONTROL. How old am I?
Complaining– Too many good things are happening in life to focus on negative energy
Dreaming– Stop dreaming about what I could do, could be and start executing on what I can do and who I will be
Hi! I am back from a long hiatus. Now that the Gossip Girl series officially ended, and Scandal, Revenge, Grey’s Anatomy and Glee are on break until January I have some time on my hands. Seriously, something is wrong with me. I haven’t watched this many shows, ever. And, yes, I know, my show choices are another talking point, but I don’t want to hear it. Perhaps, my husband’s love for TV has rubbed off on me. However, he probably likes the “cooler” shows: Breaking Bad, Empire Boardwalk, Game of Thrones, Boss, etc. Nevertheless, something has to give, and what better distraction than MARATHON training. This Marino obviously needs a TV break.
Brian and I are running our first ever marathon outside Houston, so we thought we would pick a beautiful place to start, Big Sur. April 28th. Training began a couple weeks back, and I am totally stoked to be back in it. As our fellow running club friends near the end of their Houston training, only to stop for probably 2 seconds before running another marathon, we are looking to you for inspiration and support. I thought starting the blog, again, would help a few folks hold us accountable to our training and what we hope to be our best marathon, yet. And, yes, we haven’t done that many Houston marathons (or marathons, in general), but enough to know mile 18’s belly dancers fail to distract the pain, mile 19’s beer isn’t appetizing, and by 21 the legs hurt so bad 26.2 seems another 20 miles away. But, crossing the finish line is so worth it!
With this training we are trying a different approach. It is taken from the Hansons’ training method, two brothers who train elite runners. Their philosophy is your entire week’s mileage matters most, focusing less on gaining up to the one day’s big mileage and more on increasing your total weeks’ mileage. They are convinced there is no need for a long run to be more than 16 miles (non-elite), as long as, your weekly mileage averages around 30-38 miles (again, non-elite runners). The daily back-to-back runs, speed and pace workouts throughout the week allow the body to race the last 16 miles. After running 3 marathons I know I can make it through 26.2, so the reason for a different regimen is I want to have a more pleasant marathon run. I want my legs to feel less pain and body to have more strength to get through the final 10 miles. Will the Hanson method make 26.2 more pleasant? Brian and I will let you know April 29th, and along the way we will keep you posted with our progress.
Let me know if you have tried this sort of training and feel free to share any insights. If you have run Big Sur and have any advice, then, please, share.