Tasting at Shack 512

Entering Shack 512 made me feel as if I was instantly transported to a luxurious vacation.  The drive out was a bit of a road-trip, albeit a beautiful and scenic one. But I knew as soon as I was taking the trolley ride down to the restaurant that it would be more than worth the miles.

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Breathtaking views of the lake paired with a relaxed yet stylish environment made me giddy for the rest of the evening. The eats and drinks I was served after, and the service that made me feel like I was part of the family only confirmed my giddiness.

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Shack512 has recently undergone¬†a few¬†alterations, this including name and ownership changes. Speaking with the owner Ashley, it was so clear to me the love and consideration that has gone into preparing each new dish and decision. As most Austinites will attest too, many of our lakeside restaurants are more about the location and less about the food. At Shack 512, the location and food compete for first place. The culinary creations here are unique, flavorful and fun. Take for example the pulled pork nachos that come topped with pico and smothered with queso blanco. Or the dipping sauce that perfectly accompanies this (and many other dishes), the Bourbon Glaze.¬†Said glaze consists of (get ready for your mouth to water)¬†saut√©ed garlic and onions in a sweet Kentucky bourbon and brown sugar reduction. It’s DIVINE, you guys. And let’s not forget the Mexican Martini,¬† which is spiced up with jalapenos and served in a HUGE shaker. It’s just as magical as it sounds.

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Really, I just loved being there. I loved sipping my Mexican Martini as the sun set. I loved the open, outdoor seating and feeling the wind through my hair as I laughed with other guests. I loved stuffing my face with bacon wrapped shrimp and Texas chicken alfredo. The whole evening was just so very enchanting. It was hard to believe that I had never been there before, because it felt like an evening spent with friends.

Did I mention yet that I was delivered a make-your-own-smores buffet with my own personal fire? Because that also happened. And it was just as amazing as it sounds.

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Shack 512 is something special, you guys. They’ll make you feel like you’re at home. But a home with gorgeous¬†¬†and the biggest and the best Mexican Martini you ever did taste. So like, the best home ever.

Going Places

Hi, friends!

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You may have noticed I’ve made a couple of changes? After nearly eight years as christinadoesitall, I am now christinagoingplaces. Bittersweet. Bitter, because I’ve made so many happy memories and friends as christinadoesitall. Sweet, because I’m slowly finding my niche and place in this world. After years of dabbling in a little bit of everything and loving every moment of that, I am beginning to¬†realize my¬†passions. I’m both¬†an MBA¬†student¬†and a girl who just really loves to¬†explore the world. Education and travel are both so very valuable to me.¬†So in¬†more than one sense of the term, my goal is to be going places.

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So here I am! Doing things! Going places!

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Later this week¬†I’ll be heading to Virginia and¬†Maryland to visit my best friend of sixteen years. Because of Meg and her family, this part of the world has become much¬†like a second home to me.¬†I can’t wait to hug and laugh and dance and¬†adventure with one of my favorite human beings.

When I return to Austin, it will be the beginning of crunch time. I graduate in five months, y’all! Part of me is so ready and the other part just wants time to slow down. The past¬†year and seven months of grad school has been a blur of hard work and magic. I’m not¬†ready for another semester of grueling coursework, but I’m not quite¬†ready for it to all be over yet either.

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Speaking of not being quite ready for things. This month I¬†turn twenty-eight. Like what? When? HOW?! I wonder where all the time has gone, but then I remember. It’s been spent doing really great things. Like building a home and a family with¬†the¬†dude I love the most.¬†And getting lost in happy hours and good conversation and captivating reads. Chasing big dreams, and catching many of them. Trying new things and facing fears head on.¬†(Unless this fear involves getting my blood drawn and then I will definitely turn my head away and also¬†possibly pass out.)¬†Driving through states and boarding lots and lots of airplanes.¬†And learning.¬†Always learning.

And all of that? It makes twenty-eight sound way¬†less scary and¬†much¬†more like a wonderland of possibility. I can’t wait to see where I’ll go next.

Pst –

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By the way, I’m way blonde now! It feels fun and right.

Cedro Tasting

Note: I’m posting this at 10pm on a Monday, but as you will soon realize, I wrote most of it¬†on a¬†Friday at 3am.cedro

I recently had a blog tasting at one of my now favorite Italian eateries in town. If you live in or¬†are visiting the Austin area, may I suggest skedaddling to Cedro Ristorante?¬†If you’re struggling with this decision, I have two words for you. Creamy Polenta. Decadent Tiramisu.¬†Delectable Bolognese. I meant to stop at two words, but food this good gets me carried away, y’all.

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Cedro is a treasure found within a North Austin strip mall. The interior is rustic simplicity mixed with modern flair, and I found myself instantly swept away with the charm of the place.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the manager serving me was my former manager at a jewelry store that I worked at in my undergrad days. Small world, right?! It was so great to catch up with Michelina as she stuffed my face full of all of the delicious things.

Speaking of these delicious things. I’m still swooning over that creamy polenta, you guys. I’m writing this blog at almost 3am so it’s impossible to get right now.¬†And when rich, cheesy,¬†savory polenta plays hard to get, you just want it even more. Then there’s the Bolognese. It’s made with old school Tuscan meat sauce, and if no one else was around I would have ugly slurped this pasta up. Like,¬†I kept telling myself to have self control and save room for dessert and¬†I JUST COULDN’T. I’m making myself hungry in the wee hours of the morning now.¬†Please send¬†help. Or food.

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I still¬†ate dessert though, even if I didn’t have room for it. The homemade tiramisu was heavenly, and the cappuccino I was handed paired with it exquisitely. Also, how¬†quaint does eating at a little Italian caf√© with homemade tiramisu and a cappuccino sound?! I want to go do it again, right now. But I can’t. Because it’s 3am.

The moral of this story is that Cedro is delightful and that you should never blog about food at 3am, friends.

Hashtag Goals

So I have this resolution for 2017 to blog once weekly, and I’m already like CHRISTINA. What were you thinking?! seattle5

I’m in the process of writing three papers for grad school. I’m also writing a blog for a company I’d freelanced for before grad school, and was¬†recently asked to freelance for again. I obliged, because I’m insane. Did I mention I also have a full-time job and a toddler? Manic laughter goes here.

But anyway, here I am blogging. Mostly to say HI, GUYS I’M SO BUSY HELP and to get my once a week blogging goal in.

I hope to soon find the time to blog about my Seattle and Vancouver trip. I was so smitten with both of these places, you guys.

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For now, here’s a picture of me and two sweet strangers I found at the¬†Trump Tower in Vancouver. It felt so wonderful to leave the country and to still feel such solidarity¬†with other likeminded ladies.¬†Though I have no problem asserting my opinions in person, I purposely¬†avoid talking politics on any form of social media. Part of this is because I don’t feel like getting into online¬†debacles with my¬†mostly conservative family. Another part is due to the blatant hypocrisy¬†and belief perseverance that I so clearly see on both sides,¬†and especially online.¬†But what is¬†the¬†saying¬†about a picture being worth a thousand words? That.

Damn. It’s 12:10 and officially Monday. Can I get an A for effort on this trying to blog weekly stuff?

2017 Resolutions

I was hesitant to publically¬†show my 2017 resolutions this year as I have a few lofty goals and a couple of scary ones.¬†It’d be easier to skip them if I didn’t flaunt them which is exactly why I’m sharing them. You guys get to hold me accountable. Yay!?

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Here they are:

  • Run a full marathon (see “lofty goals”)
  • Visit three new-to-me states, one¬†new-to-me country
  • Graduate with my MBA
  • Take a solo trip (I have fond memories¬†experimenting with the starts of solo travel. In 2013, I flew to Detroit to film a commercial and met up with the production team upon arrival. Last year¬†I drove to New Orleans solo to meet up with friends and flew companionless to¬†Ireland to¬†then adventure with cousins. I’ve found all of these unaccompanied moments both meditative and thrilling. I’m keeping my options open here. Maybe I’ll have a weekend away in a sleepy little Texas town. Maybe I’ll fly to new lands. Either way, I’m excited for this one.)
  • Get a tattoo (see “scary goals”; I have one tattoo. I’ve wanted a second for years.¬†My one big¬†irrational fear¬†is needles and I was¬†a huge baby when getting tatted at eighteen. Like, the tattoo artist kind of hated me. But at this point I’ve given birth¬†to¬†an actual baby so I figure that process must be¬†scarier and I¬†can¬†handle this.¬†Eh?)
  • Record books read (Every year, I¬†devour¬†so many delicious words¬†and recollect very few of them. I hate that! I started on this¬†goal slightly¬†early, by creating a Goodreads account in late December.)
  • Blog¬†1+ times weekly, post to Instagram 3+ weekly
  • Vlog¬†Resolution Progress Report¬†(I want to have some way of keeping up¬†with these goals, and I’ve also¬†been wanting to start vlogging. Thought I might as well combine the two! This is another lofty¬†objective for me as I have a record of being terrible at keeping up with video blogs. Wish me luck!)

I’m doing my best to get off to a good start with¬†said goals.

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I recorded my first book read of the year, The Girl With All The Gifts. I’m¬†no¬†sci-fi or fantasy fan, and usually shy away from books in either¬†genre. But I found this zombie book for 50 cents at a little bookstore in Brenham, Texas and thought I’d give it¬†a go. Y’all, I surprised myself with how much I adored this one. I originally gave it four stars but when I found myself still thinking about it¬†days later, I¬†went back and changed it to five.

Tomorrow, I¬†fly to¬†Seattle and¬†Washington will mark my first new-to-me state¬†of the year. This has been on my travel list for years, and I’m¬†eager to start¬†exploring with one of my best gal pals.

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It’s January and I’m already feeling the butterflies that travel and good books and¬†new things¬†bring my way. So I’d say 2017 is off to a pretty swell start.

Reviewing 2016

Two weeks into the¬†new year and¬†I still can’t quite believe 2016 is over.

What a whirlwind of 365 days, y’all. I originally spelled that whirlwine, so you all know what’s on my mind.

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I have to smile when I reflect on the adventuring and the milestones marked this last year.

I road-tripped Ireland with two of my cousins and kissed the Blarney Stone. We drove through rolling hillsides full of spotted cows, drank¬†more than our fair share of¬†Guinness in many a pub and stood at the edges of the Ciffs of Moher. We¬†frolicked through the Hills of Tara, climbed on basalt columns at¬†Giant’s Causeway¬†and wobbled in awe down the crickety Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. The beauty and history of this country is something that I feel so lucky to have witnessed firsthand and with people that I love a lot.

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Months later, cousin Shannon and I were checking off another shared bucket list item by whitewater rafting in New Mexico. I almost fell out within the first five minutes and had to be yanked back onto the raft by my lower body. It was exhilarating.

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Summer road trips to Oklahoma and New Orleans left me feeling grateful for long drives, adventures and the loved ones that made these things all the more worthwhile.

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My husband and I spent an anniversary trip in the¬†enchanting Caye Caulker, Belize. We snorkeled with stingrays and sharks and that was slightly scary¬†but mostly¬†delightful. We bought a brownie from a stranger and¬†laughed the night away.¬†I took a group yoga class on¬†a Belizean rooftop, and clumsily moved my limbs as the sun set. We sipped on four for one drinks and devoured the¬†freshest of lobster and rode bikes through sandy, narrow streets. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better way to celebrate seven years of marriage with my best friend.

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2016 marked my first completed year and halfway point of grad school. It marked a year of development within my career and the blogging world. And it marked my one year of attending counseling, which has proven to be a turning point for my personal growth.

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There were a few times this past year¬†where I noticed history trying to repeat itself in¬†detrimental ways. The difference this time was that I didn’t let it. Can I just tell you how empowering that is? I¬†found my voice, and I learned when and how to use it. I learned how to stand my ground, and I realized that sometimes this can¬†and should be done silently.¬†It was a year that taught me to openly make mistakes, to¬†firmly disagree with those I love and to proudly show off both¬†my victories and my scars. I wasn’t always right, so it was also a year that taught¬†me how to be wrong.¬†It was¬†a year that¬†left me feeling strong,¬†brave and inspired.¬†2016 wasn’t perfect, but¬†it taught me to roll with and even¬†to sometimes revel in the imperfections.

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It was a year of discovery, of both things big and small, gentle and wild.

Happy 2017, friends.

Let’s be unapologetically¬†flawed and untamable this year, shall we?

Scoop and Score Ice Cream Tasting

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I love finding treasures in my neck of the woods, and I especially love when these treasures involve things that are delicious.

So you can all just imagine my delight when a blog tasting presented itself with the local-to-me ice cream/coffee shop that is Scoop and Score.

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If any of you are reading this and are from Ohio, Kentucky or (hold¬†up, about to use some Texan¬†terminology on¬†y’all)¬†somewhere up there, than you are lucky enough to have a Graeter’s Ice Cream in your general vicinity.

I had never been this fortunate until visiting Scoop and Score. See, the owners are Ohioans who now reside in Texas. Realizing how much they missed their Graeters ice cream, husband and wife duo Alex and Angie were able to strike up a deal with this family run shop. They are the only ice cream shop in Texas to sell Graeter’s, and this makes me want to do a happy dance.

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Because guys, after you taste this ice cream, there is no going back to the ordinary stuff. Welcome to the dark (aka delicious) side.

Upon walking in, I was immediately warmed by the inviting atmosphere. The interior is at once fun and friendly, with a variety of seating to meet all of your cozy needs.

Okay, okay. I’m trying to be patient but I just need to tell you guys about the Graeter’s ice cream now. It’s the only ice cream in the United States to be made in a French pot. This unique fact is immediately evident in the smooth¬†and rich divinity that is Scoop and Score’s selling point. I tried every single flavor, and they were all insanely and superbly delicious. But, friends? If you have to choose one ice cream to eat for the rest of your entire life, make sure it’s Graeter’s black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream. This is what lactose dreams are made of, y’all.

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Let me brag about this place just¬†a little more. The cones at Scoop and Score are hand spun. The salted caramel affogato? What espresso ice cream dreams are made of. And the chocolate chips in the ice cream? Humongous chunks of heaven. This is no Hershey’s chocolate. It’s Peter’s, if you were wondering. We don’t have a Peter’s chocolate here¬†in Texas, so I’ll gladly just keep getting my fix from Scoop and Score. To make things even more spectacular, Austin’s famous Cuvee coffee is brewed here. Basically, all bases are covered. Score. (I’m trying to make a sporty pun based on their name but feel like I’m failing miserably. Humor me here.)

Another fun fact? Oprah’s favorite ice cream is Graeter’s Butter Pecan. Austinites, Oprah’s favorite ice cream is now just a short drive away. You get a Scoop and Score, you get a Scoop and Score, EVERYBODY GETS A SCOOP AND SCORE!

And how very lucky that makes us.

(Pst- Scoop and Score has some big community¬†goals and plans coming up, and to help with these they’ve started a GoFundMe account. Click here to donate!)