About Christina Does It All

Doing it all, One blog at a time

Hudson’s On The Bend Cooking School

I’ve been lucky enough to have collected a slew of incredible experiences as an Austinite event blogger. In the past few years, I’ve tried ziplining, beekeeping, fly-boarding, indoor skydiving and hot-air ballooning, to name a handful of favorites.

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So when I was invited to join a cooking class overlooking a lake in Austin, I wasn’t really expecting this to go on my blogging top five. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I would love it, and who can turn down delicious food? Not me. But I have just been so honored and humbled by the adventures that I’ve been able to join in on in the past few years, that I looked forward to this one in a more absentminded sort of way.

This made the surprise of my Hudson’s on the Bend experience that much more incredible.

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The event started out at the head chef’s house-mansion-thing-with-views-like-whoa. I turned onto a normal enough looking road and drove for a couple of miles before I then turned onto a gravel road and parked. Nothing out of the ordinary yet. But as I approached the entrance, my breath was nearly taken away. You guys, I have lived in Austin my entire life and have seen some lovely things but this was definitely amongst the most gorgeous of these. The views of Lake Travis paired with the scenery and décor of this abode were bar none. I stood at the entrance, probably with my mouth agape, but was quickly ushered in with a “Go grab a drink and sit down!” I was then promptly handed a vanilla vodka fizz that was always quickly refilled without so much as a request. I sat down to begin watching some pretty extraordinary chefs do their thang, which felt as if I was up close and personal with a comedic yet informative show featured on the Cooking Channel.

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After working up an appetite whilst watching this mouthwatering food sizzle, our cooking group headed back to Hudson’s on the Bend. We were more than ready to eat all of the delicious meals that had been whipped up before our wonderstruck eyes.

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This four course meal started off with rain forest ceviche, a ceviche made with coconut milk, habanero peppers and fresh ginger root marinade and a shaved coconut and pineapple marinade. This light, fresh and tasty appetizer was a perfect palette-greeter and left me greedy for more.

Next came the hot and crunchy avocado with mango jalapeno aeoli, ancho paint and mango jalapeno slaw. Ancho paint, for anyone curious, is made from ancho peppers soaked in hot water and then pureed with a handful of delectable ingredients like lemon and garlic. It was all just as mouth orgasmic as it sounds, y’all. The fruity and refreshing slaw, ancho and aeoli flavors perfectly complemented the delicately fried avocado. My mind kept telling me to slow down and bring home a bite or two for the hubby but my tastebuds were having none of it. I ate it all. Sorry not sorry.

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The main course followed, shrimp and lobster in saffron crepes with a brandied lobster sauce. The phrase in itself is a mouthful with the power to make ones’ mouth water, and you better believe the dish all went into my mouth. This dish was decadent, creamy, buttery and yes, saffrony. I’m making saffrony into a word because the saffron is such a key ingredient here. The most expensive spice in the world added a sophistication and complexity to this dish which left me savoring every last bite.

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Last but not least, the chai cheesecake. Oh my. Everyone at the table was oohing and ahing over this. One of my tablemates even commented that, though she doesn’t like cheesecake, she loved this one. The coconut almond crust and the fruit compote topping paired with the chai and cardamom flavors left us all swooning. And possibly drooling. Or maybe the drooling bit was just me. Great cheesecake doesn’t always allow me to be classy.

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Paired with great company and endless wine, the dishes served at Hudson’s on the Bend made this experience immediately jump to my top five of blogging adventures. I can’t wait to go back, but in the meantime? All in attendance were given a recipe book of all dishes made in the class. I don’t know that my cooking skills will be able to do these recipes the justice they deserve, but it’s really nice that I have the option to try.

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The deets:

Dishes made at Hudson’s on the Bend cooking school vary with each class, and recipes for each meal are given out before the chefs begin. The class, which includes a four course meal and wine, costs $135 per person. Click here to make reservations, y’all!

Note:

I was able to attend this class free of charge, but was not obligated to write anything other than my honest thoughts. All opinions expressed are entirely my own!

Best Friendship And State Hopping, 2015

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I spent the end of June and the beginning of July in the best of ways — Exploring and traveling with my best friend. We danced the night away in downtown Baltimore, were beach bums for two days in gorgeous Bethany Beach, Delaware and went winery-hopping in lovely little towns of Virginia. Small world as it is, another close friend of mine recently moved from Texas to Virginia. Last summer, Hannah, Meg and I were exploring wineries in Texas. It seemed that we were picking up where we left off, sharing hugs and wine and adventures in just a slightly different location.

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Let me backtrack to the year 2001 and explain to you my long-term love for Meg Tucker. She and I have been best friends for fourteen years. We met when she was nine and I was twelve. I had walked around the block with my dog every day for months, praying for a best friend to move into the very house she eventually moved into. I was brokenhearted when I found out she was a measly nine-year-old with a crush on my little brother to boot. Luckily she let go of the infatuation when she heard him tattle on me, and I quickly decided to let go of the age difference. The instant connection we’ve always shared has led us to believe that we are friend soul-mates. Always, we’ve had a lot of qualities in common and a lot definitely not in common. Current examples: She’s very single and I’m very not. I love to travel and she often prefers a staycation. I jump into things and she takes her time. We both have an intense love for people, new experiences and open-mindedness. She’s an ENFJ and I’m an ENFP. Our extreme similarities mixed with our striking differences sometimes make us want to momentarily kill the other, often quickly followed by the next moment when we’re trying to catch our breath from the fits of laughter. We continuously learn from one another and are both more accepting and understanding because of it. I find it liberating that she’s one of the few people that I can freely snap at, and comforting that she knows things about me that I haven’t ever told her.

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Briefly back to 2015 now. In between all of our travels, we made our way to Ellicott City, Maryland to BBQ with Meg’s fam. Every time I so much as step inside their doors, I am swept away by a sense of complete comfort and nostalgia. Here is where I spent two weeks after graduating high school, and have come back to often ever since. This is the house I slept in after eighteen-year-old me got my belly button pierced for the first time; Where Mrs. Tucker fretted over what my parents would do to her when I got back to Texas. It’s where Meg woke me up early one morning by jumping on me and I, still half asleep, asked her the now infamous question: “Do you think I am an insect that you can squash beneath your grasp!?” Where Meg’s little brother once played guitar for us after my flight back home was cancelled, and where I giddily spent one more night basking in the glow of my second family. In a world where everything changes, the Tucker residence has been a constant of mine for so long. Where laughter, drinks and good conversation are always shared, where Mrs. Tucker provides the best of home-cooked meals, where Mr. Tucker will always make bad jokes, and where I am affectionately and always referred to as “Tina.”

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My evening this time around was spent just like I imagined – Drinking margaritas on the back patio, being in stitches over silly but treasured memories and staying up late chatting with Meg’s mama as Meggie snoozed on the blow-up mattress.

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Reminiscing on my week spent state-hopping with my childhood and forever best gal pal has left me with a plethora of new memories and happy feels. When I think of Baltimore, I think of partying until the wee hours of the morning, followed by sleeping on someone’s floor for four hours, as if I was still a twenty-one year old lad. When I think Bethany Beach, I think of a good summer read and mangoritas. I think of an exquisite creamy crab soup at a little patio café, near the beach and on a gloriously perfect day. I think of getting unexpectedly drenched by the waves, shrieking and giggling and frantically trying to save all of our belongings. When I think Virginia, I think of scenic drives, great wine and even better friendships. I think of rooftop bars and heartfelt, honest conversations. And when I think of Ellicott City, Maryland? I think of my northern home.

Soaking Up Summertime

Life is sweet and full of summertime bliss.

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On Saturday, I leave to visit my best friend of fourteen years in Virginia. Or, we’re at least starting in Virginia. We’re also planning on partying in Maryland and beaching it up in Delaware. A little state-hopping, if you will. I am so ecstatic to start making new memories traveling and exploring with the lady love of my life.

But really, summer twenty fifteen has me giddy about a lot of things….

  • I bought a hammock. I’m growing partial to time spent between the trees, a pineapple drink in one hand and a book in the other. Or just staring up at the stars and listening to the crickets chirp. Paradise in my own backyard.

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  • Adventuring with my little one has taught me that she’s much better at taking selfies than I am.

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  • I’ve been occasionally volunteering at my nearby Alzheimer’s Center for a few years now, so I’ve known program director Bernard for a while. I don’t see him much but love catching up every time I do. His combo of good heart and fun personality makes him a winning human being. He also seems to think I’m pretty cool, and since I’m actually a weirdo, I appreciate that.

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  • San Antonio is quickly becoming one of my favorite cities in Texas. This is mostly because two of my favorite people in the entire world reside here. Also because the Riverwalk of San Antone is a lovely place to laugh the night away with said favorites.

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  • Date nights with the husband always leave me wonderstruck. Whether we’re eating garlic naan in a cozy cellar followed by being photo-bombed by an extremely tan gentleman (see if you can spot him below…) in downtown Austin or drinking beer out of mason jars in New Ulm, Texas, magic is always made when we’re together. Especially magical when we come home sporting matching dinosaur stamps from da club.
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  • I don’t know how it’s possible, but my job voluntarily pays me for doing things like organizing lip-dubs and dancing like a tune deaf white girl. You can watch the full embarrassing footage here.
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  • Family moments in my household sometimes include squishing ourselves into tiny children’s forts and capturing the moment with a selfie.

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Summer 2015 has me smitten. I’m soaking up the sun and as many of these beautiful moments as I possibly can.

We Wore Our Sunglasses At Night – May 2008

These are the words I held back, as I was leaving too soon..

Please don’t be in love with someone else,
Please don’t have somebody waiting on you.”

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 Seven years ago I met this pretty cool guy at a house party.

We talked all night. I told him I could spell anything when I was drunk, and he lied to me and told me he liked some country music. I believed him because his voice sounded like a sweet southern song, but I’d later find out that he really hates almost all country music and much prefers techno and dubstep. For reasons too many Jell-O shots won’t allow me to remember, we took our first picture together, sporting sunglasses at night.

I attacked his lips with smooches before he left, and he proceeded to ask me on a date. Days later, he messaged me on MySpace with a quick message: “What’s up, spelling bee?”

The rest is history. But a history that I love to tell and retell.

For so long, the way he treated me felt so brand new. Part of this was because I was only nineteen, and fairly new to the whole dating scene. But more than that, what I had witnessed of serious relationships in my previous eighteen years had left me substantially incredulous for someone so young. Robby was what I had only dreamed a partnership could be, not what I had ever known the reality to look like. From the very beginning, I was taken aback by the complete freedom I felt when I was with him.

In our earliest of days, he once left my friend’s apartment living room in the wee hours of the morning to head off to work. I was barely awake when I heard the door close and then, moments later, open again. He had walked back inside just to give my half-asleep self a quick kiss goodbye.

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And that was how it always was with Robby. He looked at me like I had hung the moon, told me he loved me entirely too soon and quite often, gifted me with sweet surprises and constantly gave my hand quick pecks, just because. His happiness was contagious and his complete adoration for me slightly baffling. It seemed too good. I worried that it wouldn’t last.

Yet here we are more than seven Mays later, with years’ worth of love and happiness and our own little Brynlee Mae Boudreaux. Today I woke him up in the wee hours of the morning to tell him that I couldn’t sleep. He was barely awake as he stroked my back and snuggled until I felt relaxed enough to doze off again. I’m still occasionally surprised by his sweet smooches, thoughtful actions and loving words, but I’m so grateful that it’s all that our Miss Mae has ever known. I’m happy to share his hung-the-moon gaze with this sweet baby girl that we made all by ourselves.

Seven years later and our love still feels like freedom. Like the deepest of belly laughter. Like seeing fireflies in your backyard hammock on a star-studded summer night. Like kissing at sunset on the Jackson Street Bridge, or getting lost in Venice in the rain, or renewing wedding vows in a silly little Vegas chapel. Like the grandest of adventures. The kind that you just can’t wait to continue for the rest of your days.

Life with Subtitles

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It’s summertime and the living is easy and worthy of subtitles. Here’s what’s up:

1. The Big Cojones

Did y’all know I was in a dodgeball league? No? Because I totally was, and it was awesome. Our season just ended, but the memories and friendships I’ve made from playing on the Big Cojones have not. Side note — I did not name our team.

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2. Pool party at the Dell Diamond

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I kick-started these sizzling months by partaking in a pool party at a baseball game with one of my dodgeball lady loves. A pool party at a baseball game! How fun is life!?

3. DJ Dash. 5k?

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My first summer run was an interesting experience. It was the first 5k I’ve ran that, uh, wasn’t actually a 5k. Being a bit of a running enthusiast, I asked where the timer was upon crossing the finish line. A kind sir informed me that they didn’t have one, and also because of our crazy Texas weather and muddy conditions, it had to be cut to only two miles anyway. And here I was thinking I ran the fastest 3.1 miles of my life. WHATEVER.

4. That Chinese kid

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I’m going to stay with one of my best gal pals in San Antonio this weekend. My best (Vietnamese) dude friend of nearly ten years (Gah, that makes me feel so old. We were just exchanging notes in high-school the other day, I swear it.) also lives in SA, so I asked if he wanted hang out. This somehow turned into him overanalyzing how my family feels about him. I am not aware of them thinking any of these things, but he made me laugh just the same. I’ve told other friends I’m contemplating starting a “Sh#* that Bryant says” domain.

5. Cheese Style

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Also amusing is when you text your dear husband a grocery store parody of T-Swift’s ‘Style’ and he has not even the smallest inkling of what you might be doing.

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6. Excuse me sir, I need your hat.

Because sometimes at a brewery it’s necessary to borrow a cowboy hat for a good photo op.

7. Getting feisty with a floating elephantpooljune

I highly enjoy spending time at the pool with my baby, a best friend and a child’s floating device that I may or may not have been passionately smooching once a margarita entered my system. (Luckily my child was napping at this point so she didn’t witness such atrocities against her elephant.)

8. All in a day’s work

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I like when freelance work leads me to the 28th floor of a building in the heart of downtown Austin.

9. That face.

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It’s the one I’m lucky enough to wake up to every morning.

10. These two

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They are just the very best.

Blissful Weekends and Annoying Love

Last weekend felt a lot like pure summer bliss, y’all.

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The weekend started off with a mini road-trip to the in-laws’ place in New Ulm, Texas. Their house always feels more like a vacationing retreat to me. Many of my best weekend getaway memories come from this abode, and I always look forward to making more lovely memories with some of my favorite loved ones.

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This time my moments included breakfast at the Texas Star, watermelon and BBQ eating, coffee-drinking and back-porch book reading, and feeling awestruck at the sight of a nest and bird eggs sitting atop a wreath on the front doorframe. So beautiful were these little eggs that I couldn’t even quite believe they were real.

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Also included on this trip were pit-stops at an adorable winery for a quick tasting and later sipping on the wine purchased (because duh I bought wine) up in the in-law’s tree house. In three weeks’ time I’ve had coffee in a treehouse in Lafayette, Louisiana and wine in a treehouse in New Ulm, Texas. I guess you could say I have a thing for traveling and treehouses. And coffee. And wine.

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My daughter also realized that she likes to purposefully carry baskets the size of her body around the house and that she has very mixed feelings regarding the swing.

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We ended the weekend with my blood kin back in the Austin area, with yet another BBQ and pool party to boot.

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I end this post with a note on love. On Saturday night my cousin called me while I was still in New Ulm. She asked if I knew the whereabouts of my brother. The weather in Texas has been a little insane as of late, and on this particular night we were experiencing some intense flash flooding in Austin. I hadn’t talked to my brother that day, and was a little worried when she told me that a dude cousin had expected him hours before at my aunt’s house. Justin is one to lose track of time, but given the weather I was a bit concerned. Flash forward to an hour later and my entire family was in a panic. My mom crying, my dad out searching for my brother in the midst of the storm, and my grandpa calling the cops to see if any accidents have been reported. I too was in tears at this point, and by that I mean sobbing in front of my in-laws. My husband, bless him, held and comforted me and had the genius idea of texting my brother’s best friend. Brother’s best friend promptly texted back something to the effect of, “Yeah man, he’s over here.”  My heart felt light with relief as I talked to my brother for a moment, told him he was a dead man and proceeded to let the rest of my family know that he was alive.

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I went to bed thinking that my brother was dumb and that my family did not deserve such nonsense. The next morning my mother-in-law told me, matter-of-factly, “I would have been so irritated if I was your brother.” I was immediately defensive but eventually took a moment to step back and look at the situation from her, and his, point of view. Here is a twenty-three year old adult who lost phone service during a bad storm and stopped at his buddy’s house to stay safe and hang out for a while. Next thing he knew he was told that his father was searching the streets, his grandpa had called the cops and that his entire family was just about planning his funeral. How annoying, right? But that’s just how we do things in my clan. We care too much and we love too hard. We have each other’s backs, even when it’s unwanted or completely unnecessary. We love so big, it’s really annoying. I’ve been on the receiving end of this love more than once, so I can tell you firsthand. We are all so very lucky to be surrounded by such irksome endearment.

Summer of Sam Hunt

Summertime is quickly approaching, and already I am feeling its magic.

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Two weekends back was just the beginning of my enchantment with the warmer months.

My little brother and I road-tripped it up to Louisiana to see our favorite country artist perform live. I purchased tickets back in March for his birthday, but in all honesty they were just as much for me. Sam Hunt is also performing in Austin, but I will take whatever excuse I can to explore the world. So tickets in Lafayette it was. And a wonderful decision I made.

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Each summer brings with it a slew of moments that are sure to all too quickly turn into treasured memories. These moments can usually be easily triggered in my mind by a scent, a phrase or a song. Not unique to me, music has been a huge part of my world since I was a young teenager. Some of this love comes from its ability to wrap me in nostalgia and instantly transport me to a different time and place. My infamous and long-term adoration for T-Swift stems not from the album 1989 (Though I also love her for sharing a birth year with me and making it immensely popular) but for melodramatic songs like Teardrops on my Guitar, Cold as You and Dear John that got me through things like high-school puppy love and first heartbreak. Despite the solid ground that I’m on now, I hear those songs today and can still feel those first shaky pangs.

So already, I know. Already there are these tunes and things collecting in my mind that I know will forever stay with me.

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Summer 2015, I’ll think.

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Summer 2015 was the summer of Sam Hunt. Of songs like Take Your Time, and Vandalizer making me hardcore swoon, and House Party and Leave The Night On instantly transporting me to my happy place. The summer of drinking coffee in a Louisianan treehouse, of Cajun food and endless mimosas, of getting to know strangers and their cats while boarding in someone else’s’ house. It’s to be the season of long drives at 3 am as the little brother snoozes in the passenger seat, of staying in a room full of trinkets, appropriately named “Imagine”, of double fisting on blue drinks at the Blue Dog Café and of drawing such moments on paper tablecloths. The time of delightful breweries, gluttonously cheesy grits, exploring an Acadian village and rushing back to Austin in time for Mother’s Day celebrations with my beautiful little family.

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I know I’ll never forget my despair upon breaking and losing my glass perfume from Italy whilst in a rush to the concert. Heading back from said concert, little bro acted as if he didn’t really care but, just the same, helped me thoroughly inspect the sidewalk until we finally found the broken glass. Obsessed with inanimate objects as I am, I joyously carried my perfume bottle remnants back to the car with cops in sight. I’ll also never forget breaking into laughter as my straight-laced brother told me, “The cops are going to see that and think it’s a crack pipe. They’ll think, ‘Huh, so she’s just going to carry that out in the open?”

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I’ll fondly reminisce on the next morning, listening to live music over champagne at the adorable Artmosphere. When the electricity went out and the microphones stopped working, the band kept on singing just the same.

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 It will be remembered as the summer of fried catfish, fireflies and the sound of coming home to sweet baby laughter.

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And the best part? It’ll be the summer of many other things too, because that summertime feeling has started before the official summer has even begun. I know it’s to also be the summer of family pool parties, outdoor brunches and more delightful travels. Of margaritas and flotation devices, of mini road-trips and wine dates with gal pals, of “Cop Car” playing on repeat on my mind and on my phone. Of sharing long and sweet kisses, sunset walks with our girl, back patio festivities with friends and of more magic that I haven’t even been able to imagine up quite yet.

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I feel bubbly and entranced with the charm of it all.

Let the summer of Sam Hunt commence.