Summer's End Sounds

I can't believe it's the last week of the summer already. The weeks seem to fly by faster and faster.

Phee's in acting camp this week and very excited to be doing a small performance of Annie on Friday. She only has two afternoons left in her current classroom and then the school closes for three days. Next Monday, she'll be in the last preschool class. It all happens so quickly!

Anyway, I'll be driving her back and forth to her morning camp which will have me in the car more than usual. I usually listen to the radio, but that's been getting old lately. At work, I listen to Xbox music or Pandora. I can't stand to have a quiet office all day. I don't know how my coworkers do it.

So, here is a last week of summer playlist to make the most of the last bit of freedom and fun before school starts, traffic gets worse, and everyone has somewhere to be.

Summer's End Sounds: tunes to see the summer out #music #playlist #summer

Summer's End Sounds
(click the link if you have a Microsoft account and want to listen on Xbox music)

This Time Tomorrow The Kinks
Out of My League Fitz and the Tantrums
We the Common Thao & the Get Down Stay Down
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa Vampire Weekend
Ways to Go Grouplove
Sleepyhead Passion Pit
Cannonball The Breeders
Gold Soundz Pavement
Me + Yr Daughter Brite Futures
Over & Over Smallpools

What are you listening to while you're closing out the summer? I'd love to hear your favorites right now!

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30 Minute Marinara

We are big pasta eaters. It's hard not to be when you've got an Italian around! Doug is in charge of most of the Italian cooking and we are regularly spoiled with really delicious dishes. He's usually the one that makes sauce, too. For some strange reason, we seem to make it more often in the summer than in the winter. Because everyone wants to simmer tomatoes on the stove in 100 degree weather apparently.

Anyway, I used to make the sauce more often than he did so I'm no stranger to the process. Like usual, though, I'm always looking for a faster way to get dinner on the table. I decided to make up a quick version for weeknight dinners when we really want tomato sauce, but don't have any in the freezer.

30 minute marinara! A quick and easy weeknight dinner solution. #pasta #italian

30 Minute Marinara (Weight Watchers = 3PP per serving)
makes 6 servings

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1 T Italian seasoning
  • 1 t basil
  1. Saute the garlic and onion in olive oil for 2-3 minutes in a large frying pan.
  2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and seasoning and stir well.
  3. Simmer on medium-medium low heat for 25 minutes. 

You can serve this over warm pasta, use it in a baked pasta dish, or even use it as pizza sauce. It's not quite the same as Doug's regular version of sauce, but it certainly did the trick for a mid-week dinner.

Do you make your own sauce, or do you stick to jarred sauce? If I get jarred sauce, I like to get one of the Muir Glen varieties. I love their tomatoes!

30 minute marinara! A quick and easy weeknight dinner solution. #pasta #italian


Austin. Music. Live.

I've been going to a lot of concerts this year. In the past, I didn't go to much of anything, even though there are so many shows that come through Austin. Doug and I don't really like the same music. I mean, we like a lot of the same stuff, but when it comes to bands you want to go see live, we don't have a lot of overlap. So, I just didn't go.

Last year I got a pass to the ACL festival and went by myself. I had a friend that was going and we met up a few times, but I mostly spent the weekend wandering back and forth, hearing whatever bands I wanted to hear, having a blast.

And so this year, I started going to see bands I wanted to see. If you recall, back in April, I went to something like four shows in a month. Completely unheard of for me.

I wasn't always by myself, but when I was, it really wasn't a big deal. I don't know why I was so uncomfortable doing that before. In a crowd of people who are all together to see the same band and hear the same music, you're never really alone. There's such a great group experience in live music. Everyone has their own take on it, their own memories to recall and to make, but you've all just shared an evening, singing along, hearing your favorites, making friends.

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down taping for Austin City Limits #austin #acltv #music
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down taping for Austin City Limits
 Last night, I got to go to a taping for Austin City Limits. Talk about amazing. You walk in and there is that iconic backdrop of the Austin skyline. I've seen this show on PBS for years. I don't remember really watching a lot of full episodes, but I've caught bits and pieces for years. I have a VHS tape kicking around somewhere with Tom Waits episode on it from a re-airing. Phee and I rocked out to the Flogging Molly episode a couple years ago, well past her bedtime.

My favorite part of live music is the goosebumps. When you hear your favorite song, when you get that perfect mix of crowd, music, lights... those goosebumps are amazing. I love to be swept up in the moment. I come out of every show wanting to go to more.

Luckily, in Austin, there's never a shortage of bands to see. I've already got a handful of tickets for shows in the fall. I can't wait to get in the middle of the crowd again and feel the music.

Do you go to a lot of concerts? What's the best concert you've ever been to? 

ACL Fest 2013 #austin #acl #music
ACL Fest 2013

Old Crow Medicine Show at Nutty Brown Cafe #music #atx
Old Crow Medicine Show at Nutty Brown Cafe

Sarah McLachlan at ACL Moody Theater #music #austin #acl
Sarah McLachlan at Moody Theater

The Slackers at Flamingo Cantina #austin #music
The Slakers at Flamingo Cantina

Vampire Weekend at Stubbs 2014 #music #austin
Vampire Weekend at Stubbs

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Extra cheese? Freeze it!

When we try out fancy new dishes, or have people over for dinner, we often buy special ingredients. Sometimes that means ingredients that we can't use easily in another dish. Sometimes that means we accidentally buy the wrong thing because we don't read recipes or write things down. What can I say... we like adventure!

We recently bought some Mexican cheese for a fish taco dinner. Usually we forget the special cheese and end up using cheddar. This time, we remembered, but got the wrong kind. Seriously, it's always interesting to be in the kitchen with us. We plan ahead and Doug and I are both great in the kitchen, but we also end up winging it a lot, too.

Freeze extra cheese and defrost as needed when you buy in bulk, or buy specialty cheese. #cheese #kitchentip

So, what to do with the extra cheese? We popped the cheese in the fridge, but I had no plans to cook a whole bunch of Mexican dinners. I didn't want the cheese to languish in the fridge, though, because given our track record, we'd just forget about it.

I chopped the cheese into cubes. This cheese in particular was aƱejo, a hard cheese (I think that's what it was. I tossed the wrapper before I could double check.) Anyway, it's a cheese you can grate so I cut it into cubes so we could grab one at a time for particular dishes. I take one out of the freezer and let it thaw a bit and then grate it.

I love this solution. We've got cheese for some great meals when we want it and we didn't waste any of it by tucking it in the back of the fridge.

What's your favorite food-saving tip for extras? I'm always looking for great shortcuts and kitchen tips, especially ways to take care of bulk purchases and extras like this cheese.

Freeze extra cheese and defrost as needed when you buy in bulk, or buy specialty cheese. #cheese #kitchentip

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We went bowling a couple weeks ago. It was Phee's first time and she absolutely loved it. Her enthusiasm and joy makes everything so much more fun. We had a great time, a million laughs, and through the first 5 or 6 frames, she was beating me. It would have been nice if we could have all used the bumpers! In the end, I was victorious. It was my birthday after all.

Linked up at A Star in My Own Universe.