Hometown Hero

7.17.2013

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Way back when, people got all pumped about the idea of exporting and importing goods. We all drew out a diagram of the Columbian Exchange at some point in our educational careers--the Americas shipped tobacco and squash across the ocean in exchange for some olives and malaria (for those who faked it 'til they made it in US History).

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It seems we've since moved on and, in fact, adopted just the opposite means when it comes to finding our food source. Nowadays, it better be built into your backyard or you, my friend, are behind the trend. The Austin community has promoted these eco-friendly, sustainable, cage-free, I-literally-just-picked-this-off-a-tree foods for awhile, and it looks as though the fad has traveled down highway 71 and landed in Houston, as evident by spots like Revival Market.

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Jimmy told me I'd dig the vibe at this "responsible 21st century market", for it flaunts a similar charm  I loved at Joan's on Third in LA. During an overnight trip to Houston in late June, William and I made our way to this Heights foodie haven.

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For such a small space, the range in items available is impressive--you can go home with Galveston sea salt, your produce for the week, a Mexican coke, mustard potato salad, a whole farm-raised brisket, Heights honey, a warm cappuccino, and a killer kolache if you make it before they sell out on Saturday mornings.

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Having already eaten lunch, we shared a gourmet freeze-pop while taking a look around. I got several desserts to-go to satisfy my mom's always eager sweet tooth and he took home a house-made BBQ sauce, validating his "Sauce Boss" namesake.

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Jimmy was accurate in his suspicion. I was into it. Though I've never been the go organic or go home type, you go for the same reason you to a boutique over a department store--it's an experience. But, I took away more from my experience at Revival than baked goods and a couple photographs. I realized I've underestimated Houston for far too long.

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It may does not have the Big Apple's skyline; Austin's Town Lake reigns supreme to Memorial Park in every way imaginable; the San Francisco coast has a bit more of an aesthetic appeal than our shipping ports; and, we lack the cultural flair that exists in cities like New Orleans or a history like Boston or Philadelphia.

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But, we have what really matters when you boil it down: good neighborhoods, jobs on jobs on jobs, great people and little gems like this intelligent mom and pop shop. Happy to call you home, H-Town.


Sense Appeal XXI

7.08.2013

for the eyes:
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Andy liked her, so he put a ring on it! Congrats to my closest brother, Andy, on his engagement to my wonderful soon-to-be sister-in-law, Kirby. We couldn't have asked for a better addition to our clan.

for the mind:
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I like to think that, like books or movies, new blog ideas will never be exhausted. Though the blogosphere may seem monotonous--another DIY/fashion/beauty blog?--there's always something that makes each one stand apart from the rest.

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This thought struck me upon discovering the blog, Humans of New York. Its creator, Brandon Stanton, combines three of my favorite things: New York, street photography and quotations.

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HONY has evolved from a mere catalogue of portraits to a site that has come to life with stories from the citizens of New York City, the cradle of individuality. Each image comes attached with a quotation or small anecdote--all very brief but packed with emotion. He calls his livelihood "celebrating people on a stage every night."

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"What's your favorite thing about your daughter?"
"She sasses."
"I don't sass!"
"She sasses."

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"Haters gonna hate."

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"61 years today!" "62." "61." "62.."

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"After this, I go to work at a pizza shop. My wife and I were college professors in Bangladesh. I taught accounting. But one dollar in America becomes eighty dollars when I bring it back home."

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"No time like bro time."

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"I've never used a cell phone or a computer."

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"Is that your Rolls Royce?"
"No, but I can pretend like I'm getting in."

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"I said you could take my picture. Now you're asking me questions and this is turning into a big deal."

STORYBOARD: Capturing the 'Humans of New York' from Tumblr on Vimeo.
Brandon tells the story of his blogging journey here, which starts from being unemployed in Chicago to where he is now--releasing a book, also titled "Humans of New York", in mid-October. He often wonders--like I think most people pursuing creative careers do--if he'll become jaded one day. But, then he remembers that every day he gets to "photograph everything that makes me happy, and turns out, it makes other people happy too!" He figures it doesn't get much better than that. I think he's right.

for the ears:

Kaskade, the hugely successful DJ, breaks the mold of the typical electronic music producer. My friend Meghan enlightened me on the story behind the artist of the above song, "Atmosphere." This electronic genre has skyrocketed into popularity with the help of artists like Avicii, Skrillex and now Kaskade. In this New York Times interview, Kaskade attributes its surge in popularity to "hip-hop fatigue and the ascent of Lady Gaga", which I found interesting. But, what I found more interesting, is that he has three small children, doesn't drink, and has never used drugs. As a Mormon, he doesn't promote the "substance abuse" lifestyle, though he's aware his music often gets coupled with it. Ryan Raddon (his off-stage name) just continues to make the music he loves while only supplying himself with Diet Coke and adrenaline when preparing for performances in front of his hundreds of thousands of enthused fans.

fashion for feel:
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Animal prints, polka dots and chevron stripes have seen their heyday. Tribal prints make the perfect print to transition from fall to spring as the bright summer hues like turquoises and yellow are often paired with more subdued fall shades like rusty browns and crimsons.

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It's a quintessenital example of fashion being an ode to heritage and culture. It's also a style you can take a more overt or subtle approach with, as it can be incorporated into a look with just a scarf or stacked up your arm in beaded bracelets.

for taste:
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I'd venture to say food trucks are no longer just a trend and are now just a thing. Austin's chocked full of 'em. I've yet to strike out on any food truck experience and I'm inclined to think that has a lot to do with their specialization in certain food items. The small menus allow them to perfect specific items, whether that be crepes, gumbo, cupcakes, gyros, paninis or whatever else they serve up.

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I had my first experience at the East Side Filling Station in--you guessed it--East Austin. After browsing all the trucks, I ordered my lunch at Gonzo Juice, which serves up hearty sandwiches. I got the Ruby Shoes, which was essentially a reuben. And Peyton got the Pig Roast - sweet pulled pork, provolone, tangy carrot slaw and chipotle mustard on Texas Toast.

Next on my list is this grilled cheese stand to compare it to my experience at The Melt Down on 30A; fortunately, I've already found a willing companion for that venture. Have a great day!




'Merica

7.04.2013

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It's a special day in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Today marks the US of A's 237th b-day and all patriotic citizens are invited to the party. I'll forever be enchanted by Europe, but my home and heart will always remain stateside.

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We're a land that loves our Lady Liberty and our dear Uncle Sam; we're obsessed with the Kardashians and the Kennedy's; we're too lazy to get our own pizza; we have bragging rights to legendary sitcoms like Seinfeld and Friends (the latter of which, in my humble opinion, is slightly more legendary); we seem to be the only country that's caught onto iced beverages; we honor our presidents (so much so our fab four are carved into the side of a rock in South Dakota); Ryan Gosling lives here; our cinematic specialities include everything from super hero sequels to old Westerns; we went to the moon in 1969 (and the Disney sitcom "Even Stevens" never let my generation forget it); we have purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain; we gave birth to hip-hop music, deodorant, ATMs and Lunchables--all things the world would be a sadder place without; we boss it up at the Olympics e'ry time; we like to combine two really good things to make a great thing: take labradoodles, Bennifer (Jennifer Garner + Ben Affleck), and Snuggies for example; and when we're not eating one of our delicacies like string cheese, potato chips, pecan pie or Toaster Strudel, we're more than likely watching someone eat it on the Food Network (grubbin', like stuntin', is a habit).

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We bleed red, white & blue and

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will always be loyal to our stars & stripes.

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We're 'merica and we're pretty proud of it. Happy Independence Day!

Botulinum toxin

7.02.2013

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I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that we're six months into 2013.

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As I let that sink in, I couldn't have asked for better company to ring in the halfway point with.

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We made use of the opportune beach setting in hopes of getting some potential Christmas card photos on our last night.

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I'm no professional, but I snapped away and managed to get a few good shots before the sun set of...

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the little ones,

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the sisters (missed ya coco!)

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mother and son,

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the couples,

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the families,

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the cousins,

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bro & sis,

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and some solo shots for good measure.

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In typical McConn family fashion, we closed with a hearty meal prepared by Chef Chris. I went into town to see a college friend I bumped into earlier in the week and returned to the house with an invitation to a couple rounds of Rummikub with Andy and Kirb--the go-to game of many past summers at Lake McQueeney. I can speak for all twenty of us when I say we will cherish our stay at the All Inn in Seagrove Beach.