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Not Sure What To Leave for Santa? (Here’s a Tip: Leave Him Christmas Cookies.)

December 24, 2015
the best christmas cookies

I don’t know about you, but I am struggling a little bit when I think of how little time I have before Christmas and how much I have yet to do.  How does this happen to me every year?!!!  I mean, I know it is coming and yet I am always pressed for time.  Ugh.  Baking helps me settle the voices, but I know that is not true for everyone.  Lucky for you, these two cookie recipes are easy to manage, and they freeze really well.  The first is an Oatmeal Cookie with Golden Raisins and Dried Cranberries.  I know…I know…you don’t like raisins.  I will tell you this- these cookies are such a hit that the teachers who receive them every year won’t let me make anything else.  I have to share this recipe with someone every year as they can’t get over how much they love them.  But, if you insist that you will not like the oatmeal cookies then I submit to you the Chocolate Chocolate Chip with Peppermint Cookies.  Chocoholics can rejoice, and they look nice and festive as well.  The best part about both of these cookies is that you can use a small ice cream scoop to drop them onto your baking sheet.  Seriously, you can finish one batch in less than one hour.  Heat up your ovens, don your aprons, and don’t forget the holiday music and a glass of wine while you cook.  After all, you deserve it!  Let’s do this!

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Oatmeal Cookies with Golden Raisins and Dried Cranberries
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What you’ll need:

2 ½ sticks of butter, unsalted, room temp

1 cup light brown sugar

1 1/8 cup of regular sugar

1 large egg

1 ½ tsp vanilla

3 cups old fashioned oats

1 ½ cup all purpose flour

¾ tsp salt

2 ½ tsp baking soda

1 ½ cup combo of golden raisins, cranberries, cherries, etc.

(I like the golden raisins and cranberries)

Cinnamon

(I think I use about ½ teaspoon, but honestly I just shake it out over the flower and oat mixture until I can smell it)

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What you’ll do:

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream butter and sugars in a stand mixer with paddle attachment until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla- mix until combined.  In separate bowl, stir together oats, flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.  Add the flour mix to the butter mix (half first and then the rest) until combined.  Finally, add the dried fruit.  Use the scoop to portion onto the cookie sheets, and bake 8-10 minutes depending on your oven.  They should be golden brown and a little underdone in the center as they will continue to cook some once removed.

And then try these…

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Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Peppermint

ingredients

What you’ll need:

12 oz package of dark chocolate chips (go as dark or semi as you prefer)

2 TBS water

6 TBS unsalted butter, room temp

¾ cup sugar

½ tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour

½ tsp baking soda

peppermint chips or crushed peppermint candies

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What you’ll do:

Heat oven to 375.  Set up double boiler with 1 cup of the chips and the water- melt together and let cool some.  Meanwhile, in mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt.  Add eggs and vanilla until combined.  Add melted chocolate until combined.  In bowl, combine flour, baking soda and the last cup of chocolate chips.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.  Here you can add the peppermint chips into the batter.  Or, as I did this time, I scooped my dough, and then sprinkled or dipped the tops into the crushed candies.  Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven.

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BTW, both of these cookies go great with a glass of milk!  Also, they’re total Santa pleasers. Proven.

Bon Apetit!

Kristin Paull is a baker who makes the best cookies I’ve ever consumed in my life. They are like little works of art. Like better than wine. With more traces of lemon zest and cardamom.  Read more about Kristin here.

TBT: Winter Solstice Dinner

December 17, 2015
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Winter Solstice has many associated traditions…Sadly, they’re all pretty bleak. Like the bleak midwinter they honor. But a few years ago we had a Winter Solstice Dinner and it was quite lovely. Here’s a Throwback to some a few of our Winter Solstice Dinner Feast and some of our favorite Winter Solstice treats.

Winter Solstice Pumpkin Soup

Yuletide Yule Wreath

Peppered Guinness Roast Beast with Parsnips and Figs

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce

All these work great for a Winter Solstice meal, or I think I’ll be making a few of them for Christmas this year.

Merry Yuletide!

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TTYL: The Things You’ll Love This Week (Welcome December!)

December 1, 2015
Peace Tree by Laurie White

Welcome, December–and the official beginning to all things holiday. So many hashtags, so many feelings, so many love/hate the Elf on the Shelf comments sections, and it’s only the first day of the most wonderful time of the year. This week we’ll take a look at what’s going on out there, starting out with a great big day of giving, a look at Hanukkah (coming up already, this weekend), plans to celebrate peace and light all month long, and books. Because reading is the best, before or after you see the movie.

  1. Giving Tuesday is on. There are so many causes and such great need out there, it can feel overwhelming to our inboxes, and way more importantly, our hearts. But the good news is that the giving message lasts far beyond today, so the trick is to take it all in, see what causes speak to us, and do what we can all year long to help. Some Texas spots among the many close to our Queso hearts include the Texas Diaper Bank, American Red Cross (shop their holiday catalog to donate an item in honor of a friend or just donate) and the Austin Disaster Relief Network that offer help to families affected by this year’s Memorial Day floods in Central Texas, and the Texas Book Festival‘s work to get books in the hands of kids who need them.

Menorah by abbyladybug on Flickr

Image by abbyladybug on Flickr.

2. As of sundown this Sunday, December 6, we’ll be wishing all of our readers who celebrate a happy Hanukkah. The annual Menorah lighting in Houston is Sunday at 2 pm, at City Hall, and includes all kinds of good stuff for free, including a rock concert by Jewish rock band 8th Day. Shalom Austin has Chanukah in the Hood on the books, and Chabad Dallas will hold a ceremonial menorah lighting at noon on December 10 at Thanks-giving Square a space downtown that promotes the spirit and unifying value of giving thanks in our community, nation, and the world. A good spot for this Festival of Lights, and for all of us, all the time.

Thanksgiving Park in Dallas

3. Speaking of light, we’re celebrating the gift of, and the hope for, peace. Thanksgiving may be all over for the year, but we’d like to carry its good vibes through Advent and the holidays. Contributor Karen just shared this quote from Pico Iyer: “It’s no coincidence that the word ‘holiday’ suggests a holy day, or that the longest book in the Torah concerns the Sabbath. If you wish to advance in any sphere, the best way is to take a retreat.” We want to share our spaces to rest and recharge during this hectic time, because, well, there’s really no reason not to. So. Peace. Light. Gratitude. We’re going to try to hold onto that this season–at least for five minutes here and there.

Bookstore in Savannah by Laurie White

4. One of the best things about the internet that I love so much is taking a break from it. It’s true. Lately I’ve been trying to do this by reading books, on real actual paper, and listening to podcasts, too. (I’m one of the millions addicted to anything Serial podcast-related, and I’m currently catching up on Truth and Justice with Bob Ruff, formerly known as Serial Dynasty. Love Bob! It turns out that traffic is a lot more tolerable when I’m engaged in figuring out a true crime mystery all by myself in my car.) It’s my super late 2015 resolution to read more, and my early 2016 plan, for sure. I just finished Fight Club (loved it) and The Book Thief (loved it more). I’m about to finish Jenny’s Furiously Happy (loved it the most) and to start You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day. I loved that UK booksellers went for Civilised Saturday instead of Black Friday, encouraging visits to bookstores. (And it looks even more civilised with the s instead of the z, doesn’t it?) Double points if you bought a book at an independent bookseller on Civilised Saturday, which was also Small Business Saturday, in addition to just Saturday. Basically all I want is books for the holiday, and to trade them, too. I’m all about that book, bout that book, no…you know. Anyway, what are you reading? We here at the Queso would love to know.

Peace, until next time.

This post was written by Laurie White, who writes, takes pictures, and teaches college students from time to to time. She is not from Texas, but she really loves to visit. Until then, find her @lauriemedia on Instagram. 

TBT: The Recipes of Thanksgivings Past

November 19, 2015
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Over the past few Thanksgivings, I’ve been channeling the ghosts of Thanksgivings past…specifically their recipes. And while I’m living in the house where enormous Thanksgivings were held, I feel like I need to live up to the traditions. The awesome food traditions. Most especially the awesome old-school Texas Thanksgiving food traditions.

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This is a bit tricky for me because I’m not an awesome cook at all, but I can follow directions, and I have a few, different yet simple Thanksgivingish recipes. So I’m going to throw down a few throw backs that have worked well in fairly recent Thanksgivings past, and maybe you’ll find them catchy.

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Pumpkin, barley and sage soup with green apple garnish. I like the idea of having soup at Thanksgiving. We never did this as I was growing up, but I think it’s a solid start. I’m bringing this soup this year.

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Kale, quinoa salad with grapes. I’m also bringing this salad. So I can then eat more pie. That’s just math.

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Ancho chilis stuffed with sweet potatoes, pecans and garlic. This is so Texas Thanksgiving. Like the traditional UT/A&M game, oh wait…except these chilis still happen.

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Pork tenderloin with pumpkin seed sauce. If you’re over the other other white meat, try the other white meat.

Photo Credit: Pork Be Inspired

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Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes. This photo does not do these justice. Trust me. It’s like mashed potatoes’ cool Texas cousin that you really want to watch the UT/A&M Baylor/TCU game with.

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Butternut squash and blue cheese risotto (whoa). This is my favorite. It’s like mashed potatoes’ cool New York cousin that won’t shut up about Hamilton.

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My Great Grandmother’s Cornbread Dressing Recipe. This is the quintessential Texas Thanksgiving must have. Also, it’s so so simple.

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Sweet potato pie with marshmallow meringue. This is like Charlie and the Chocolate factory Thanksgiving dessert without the chocolate and all the whimsy. Just trust me on this.

And finally…no Texas Thanksgiving would be complete without…

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A Simple Pecan Pie. You just have to have it.

So Happy Cooking! And Happy Thanksgiving!

Fishsticks & Queso Party

October 29, 2015
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A couple of weeks ago, we hosted a queso & fishsticks party at a bookstore in order to honor penguins.

 I love that last sentence.

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We actually gathered to honor this lady. Mary Laura Philpott. She wrote a book called Penguins with People Problems. It’s funny.

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And as promised, we had Fishsticks. Lots of them.

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And queso. In the pumpkin head of a penguin who was puking guacamole. Classy.

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And people came! This is Wendi Aarons, co-host and Queso writer on the left. And Omar Gallaga, totally legit Technology, Culture reporter for the Austin American-Statesman. And all-around great guy.

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And Elizabeth Jayne Liu lives here now (sorry LA) and she came! Also, I look like a giant next to Elizabeth Jayne Liu. She is teeniny!

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And Deep Eddy Vodka came.

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Everyone loves Deep Eddy Vodka.

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But in the end, it was really all about this lady in the middle of a Queso sandwich here.

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And Penguins with People Problems

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And Fishsticks.

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And Queso.

Thank you so much to everyone that came out!

You guys are the best.

10 in 10: LAST-MINUTE HALLOWEEN DECORATIONS FOR UNDER $10

October 28, 2015
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I talked to a friend today who was lamenting the fact that she hadn’t done anything yet for Halloween. I was legitimately confused.

“Halloween isn’t until Saturday,” I said.

“No, I mean for Halloween season. I’ve been slammed at work, and I haven’t had time to do Halloween, like carve pumpkins or decorate the house.”

Halloween season? I’m pretty sure for moms in the 70s and 80s, there were no seasonal seasons and “doing Halloween” consisted of buying whatever plastic Star Wars Scooby Doo costume we screamed for the grocery store along with a plastic pumpkin to carry around while we begged for Butterfingers. And maybe, maybe, they served up TV dinners on whatever night the nation collectively watched “It’s a Good Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” But that’s it. That’s. It. Decades before Pinterest happened, Halloween happened three days before it happened. With $10 or less. And I see no reason why we can’t do the same thing now. And that’s it.

I posted a similar version of this a few years ago (#wbw/#tbt/#etc), but we hold these truths to be self evident, still, today, now. Plus, we typically decorate for kids…and kids have no concept of timing (one hour = 5 years, to my son) so three days is like forever enough time to celebrate pumpkins, spiced or not. Therefore I give you, again, 10 legit ways to “do Halloween” in 3 days for under $10. Let’s go.3

You can get these little weird gourds almost anywhere. And right now, they’re totally on sale at most places because stores are already attempting to fill up every square millimeter with decor de Christmas, which is so two months from now.

 

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If you are against buying real gourds which are weird, you can get these reusable ceramic numbers at the dollar store. Trust me, I have 5 dollar stores within 5 miles of my house. Work.

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Candy. This is the week for candy. And candy corns. (And around here, we loves us some candy corns) If you don’t like to eat it, it’s cute to jar up around the house…and if you do like to eat it, you’ll love to eat it on ice cream. Plus it’s $1 at 5 places within 5 miles of the house.

 

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They’re cheap. They’re festive. Put a dollar’s worth of them next to your kid’s pencil stash, and you are festive. Well done.

 

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Again, dollar store. Or if you are crafty, you can make them. 

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Or pumpkin lights. $8 at Target.

 

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Placemats. Dollar store. And this set up can last through Thanksgiving.

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Or make it scarier with Poison plates. I like decoration that also has function. Like plates. Melamine plates especially, because as hard a children try, they are hard to destroy. I got these poison plates at Target a few years ago but they are good about having seasonal plates every season. Also Crate and Barrel has some cute black cat plates.  Or Amazon has kooky ghost plates. With Amazon prime, they can be delivered to you in 10 minutes or something.

 

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Dish towels. Like your mom would rock. And you would remember. $1.

 

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Craft store bats. Pin ribbons on them and hang them around. Spooooky!

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I saw buntings for sale at a gas station in central Texas, which only means, they are now LITERALLY everywhere.  $1.

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And finally, my son’s favorite. A Dollar Store foam cemetery. It’s just not Halloween with a few gravestones lying around.

Because nothing reminds you how much time you have, more than a Dollar Store foam cemetery.

No really, it’s not too late.

#YOLO.

Go.

 

Texas Women’s Conference: Epic Women in Texas

October 27, 2015
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Does every state do this?  Bring together thousands of women in one room to talk about important issues? Well, they should!  Huge props to our Queso pal Wendi and her whole team who put this shin-dig together for over 7,000 attendees.  There were so many people there, in fact, that I had to park in the satellite parking.  No problem, the shuttle ferried me to the convention center to drop me at the front door.  Nice.

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I missed the opening speakers, but heard fantastic references to them throughout the day.  One of the morning speakers was Candy Chang who created the “Before I die…” project.  They had a chalkboard wall in the middle of the expo for anyone to chalk up their contributions.  You can check out her book on the project as well.  It was really great to watch women from all walks and stages of life synthesize their goals on this space in the middle of the room.  I think it symbolized the purpose of this conference really well.

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So, I walked in, and collected my swag bag with snacks, treats from Mary Kay and some other fun little things.  The Expo was filled with healthcare information from breast exams to skin care to nutrition.  There was also a marketplace for job and education opportunities.  There were several female-run or focused businesses there sharing their expertise and their products.  They even included a mini art gallery for art done “by women of women.” This capsule art show really highlighted the diversity among women- color, focus, age, personality, etc.  It was lovely.  The Expo had several places to sit and network as well as several round-table discussions.  It was a vibrant place to be in between sessions.

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I was able to do two sessions while I was there.  I listened to Carson Tate talk about “Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style.”  She emphasized the importance of saying “No.”  We like to say “yes” to so many things, but we need to account for the fact that embedded in that “yes” is an implied “no” to something else.  Wow!  That is powerful stuff.  When we fill our time then we leave no time for other things we might want to say “yes” to.  As a habitual over-planner, this stopped me in my tracks.  She went on to discuss the idea of working out a “time budget.”  She said that time is a commodity that has more value than dollars.  You can always go make more money, but you can never make more time.  Be careful of those to whom you give a blank check of your time, and be sure to look at your time as an investment.  All of this is to say that we need to be very intentional with how we spend, use and plan our time.  Excellent advice!

My second sessions was with Wendy Wallbridge on the “Five Co-Creative Powers for Women on the Rise.”  She teaches women to “cultivate the five co-creative powers of energy, thoughts, feelings, speech, and action—the fundamentals of self-creation—in order to redefine success and re-author their lives.”  We did a powerful moment of exchange wherein one woman shared how she opened up to a colleague in a very professional way about some struggles in the office.  That colleague turned out to be a director, and has since become a mentor to her.  In that moment of struggle, she embraced her “feminine” side to make it work to her advantage, and thereby making her a more complete and successful leader.  I am definitely interested to hear more about Wendy’s ideas.

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The highlight was definitely the luncheon speakers.  We heard from several women leaders from different fields leading up to the first main speaker, Patricia Arquette.  You might remember that she won an Oscar for “Boyhood,” which was filmed in and around Austin over the course of 12 years.  In her acceptance speech, Ms. Arquette brought to light the struggle over income inequality for women, issues facing women today in regards to healthcare and childcare, and more.  Anne-Marie Slaughter, former director of policy planning for the US State Dept., interviewed Ms. Arquette on stage.  It was really interesting to see how the dialogue around women’s issues touches us all from actors to politicians to executives to bloggers!  These are challenging and exciting times, and the conversation is often charged.  I think ultimately this is a good thing!  We need everyone’s passion and the different points of view to come together for creative solutions that improve all of our lives.  This is all about building each other up.  Doesn’t that sound better already?

The second speaker was Robin Roberts.  She was interviewed by Tory Johnson, who also works on Good Morning America.  First, let me say, Robin is gorgeous!  She is tall, athletic and high-energy.  I would just love to hang out with her.  I might have to get a trainer to ready myself to really “hang” with her as I get the feeling she is crazy active and athletic!  Anyway, she talked about her rise from athlete to ESPN to GMA, and how she very nearly didn’t take the GMA offer as she didn’t think she could do it.  How often do we limit ourselves?!  Thanks to a friend (encouraging friends are a must!), she took the leap.  Aren’t we all glad she did?  She also discussed her health battles, and her Mom.  It was all very inspiring.  We loved all of the “Momisms” as she called them- so many quotable quotes!  She left us with her favorite one- “When fear knocks…let faith answer the door.”  What powerful words!

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If you get the chance to attend conferences such as these if not this very excellent conference next year, then you should jump on it.  If you make it to Austin for the conference next year…there just might be some excellent queso in it for you as well as an equally delicious margarita!

Cheers to all the ladies out there who are handling it every day!  We are on your team!

This Week: Fishsticks & Queso & Books. Oh My.

October 13, 2015
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Image Source

Announcing FISHSTICKS AND QUESO: The Party*. (*Not to be confused with FISHSTICKS AND QUESO: The Crime Fighting Grocery Store Duo. We are currently trying to trademark that and sell NBC on the pilot, so no stealing!)

Fishsticks and Queso in a bookstore?

Yep, and drinks too. BookPeople of Austin welcomes author and artist Mary Laura Philpott for a signing of the adorably weird little gift book about modern adulthood, PENGUINS WITH PEOPLE PROBLEMS. Don’t miss the warm welcome from Wendi Aarons and Laura Mayes, hilarious local writers from popular blog The Queso.

RSVP here! (We really hope we see you there.) And you can read more about it here. 


ABOUT PENGUINS WITH PEOPLE PROBLEMS

Stress-eating after a breakup? Frustrated by the cost of a good cocktail? Stymied by the weirdness of abstract art? These penguins share your pain. The “random penguins” are a lineup of quirky, lovable weirdos with minds of their own. They understand the agony of social awkwardness, the power of the perfect smoky eye, and the arm- (or wing)-flapping terror of having a bee in the car. In fact, these winged characters get into the same sticky situations we all do. They are Penguins with People Problems.
So meet your favorite new flightless friends. They’re brutally honest (except when they’re lying), comically insecure, and totally relatable.


ABOUT MARY LAURA PHILPOTT

Mary Laura Philpott is a writer and illustrator whose work is featured regularly in major media. She is the author, most recently, of PENGUINS WITH PEOPLE PROBLEMS, as well as the founding editor of MUSING, the online literary magazine produced by Parnassus Books.

Read more about Mary Laura Philpott right here. 


We hope to see you Friday night, October 16, at BookPeople in Austin for Fishsticks, Queso & the Resulting Shenanigans.  

Tips From A Local About How to Approach, Enjoy and Even Really Love ACL Fest 2015

October 7, 2015
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Photo from ACLFestival.

Well it’s that time of year around here. We’ve made it to another weekend of Austin City Limits Music Fest.  I think this is possibly our fifth year to go, and we kind of have a love/hate relationship with it.  I love it, and my husband hates, well, parts of it. But no matter your chosen emotion, there is definitely something for everyone there…and there are a lot of everyones there.

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For those who don’t know, ACL is a big music festival with six main stages for music of all kinds– alt rock, hip hop, rap, country, etc.  It spans three days, and is staged in Zilker Park in the heart of Austin. A few years back they (thankfully) moved it from September to October, so we have decent weather now, but you can still read that as HOT…and you should.

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Every year they say there are 70K people in attendance, however every year they report actual numbers around 100K.  So, there are certain times of the day that can get very crowded.  (Earlier in the day, shown above, it’s completely great.) (Later in the day, shown below, it starts to fill up.) (And then in the late afternoon/evening…well…see for yourself.)

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When heading in that direction, park where you can or carpool, and then ride your bike to the park…or someone else’s bike (there are pedicabs everywhere).  We take our whole family, and treat it like a staycation, and this year was especially great. Here is the breakdown of what we loved, and my tips for those attending the second weekend!

What to take:

Camelback (you can fill with ice but can only fill with water once you are in the park), sunscreen, extra toilet paper, Advil, allergy meds, battery packs and chargers, hat, sunglasses, light sweater, go cashless with your wristband.  We take the folding chairs with built-in shade.  We like to sit back in the chair sections with more room and a little less sound.  If you like to head into the mix, then you might just want to have a small towel or blanket for the occasional time you want to sit down.

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What to wear:

Hat, sunglasses, lightweight shorts and shirt or tank top, flip flops (Birkenstocks if you can- lots of walking), pony tail holder for long hair.  It gets hot especially in the middle of the day with no breeze, so you need to dress for when it feels like it is 100 degrees.  Light dresses work as well if you don’t sit on the ground.  This all changes if it is rainy.  Then, you will need rain boots, a poncho, an umbrella, etc.  Definitely avoid cotton in the rain.  If you are trying to be all in fashion here, then it looks like you should wear high-waisted booty shorts, lots of fringe and leather boots.  This looks like the most uncomfortable festival wear to me, but to each his own.  Hippy chic is what the kids like to wear these days!

Food

What to eat:

Damn!  ACL Eats is always super fun!  My annual must-have is from Chilantro- the Kimchee Fries with Korean BBQ Beef on fries with kimchee and a creamy siracha sauce.  This was perfection with the Breckenridge Agave Wheat beer from the Craft Beer Tent.  We also loved what East Side King was throwing down- Brussel Sprout Salad (roasted, fresh and a little spicy), Pork Belly Steamed Buns (crispy pork, soft buns and fresh herbs and spicy sauce), and Karage Chicken (fried chicken pieces with pickled vegetables, fresh herbs and jalapenos).  

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I was also digging on the Real Ale Hans Pils from the beer tent.  The fresh lemonade from Shade Tree Lemonade was so refreshing.  The kids ate their weight in burgers from PTerrys as well as pizza rolls from Austin’s Pizza.  

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Who we loved:

Nate Ruess- lead singer of F.U.N.- He had great energy to match that great voice.

Brandon Flowers- lead singer of The Killers- another one with a great voice.

George Ezra- who hasn’t heard this guy?

Foo Fighters- pillars of rock n roll, no?  Keep healing, Dave!  Thanks for rocking it out in Austin!

The Wind and the Wave

Waters

Twenty One Pilots- great show, great music…feels like musical slam poetry

Walk the Moon- perhaps our favorite show of the whole weekend!  Try not to dance!

Sheppard- tied for WTM for our favorite show- fantastic energy and they are too adorable!

The Decemberists- my son loved this show!

Of Monsters and Men- we love so many of their songs- must see for my crew.

Hozier- He put on a great show, and it was packed.

So, if you are up for weekend two, then you have our report of weekend one.  Some of them will not be there, but some new folks will be.  Those I would add if I were heading out for this weekend:  Gary Clark, Jr., Florence and the Machine.  

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Have fun, party people!  

Kristin Paull is a long-time Austin resident who attends ACL Fest every year. She almost always has extra snacks, sunscreen and water. You can count on her. You can also read more about Kristin here. 

It’s a Party and You’re All Invited!

October 5, 2015
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We here at The Queso believe that October is the perfect time for entertaining. The weather’s a little cooler, the leaves are turning color, and we’re ready to just kick back, put on a sweater, and celebrate Autumn by shoving massive quantities of fish sticks and cheese into our pie holes. Care to join us?

Announcing FISHSTICKS AND QUESO: The Party*. (*Not to be confused with FISHSTICKS AND QUESO: The Crime Fighting Grocery Store Duo. We are currently trying to trademark that and sell NBC on the pilot, so no stealing!)

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Yes, your favorite people from The Queso, and even the ones you don’t care for a whole lot, are hosting a night of laughs, literature and lukewarm fish on October 16th! Join us at BookPeople in Austin as we welcome one of our favorite-est funny women, Mary Laura Philpott.

ML (as we like to call Mary Laura because we’re like, super tight) is a columnist and speaker who has written for The New York TimesHuffington PostThe Toast, and USA Today. She is the social media director of Nashville’s independent bookstore, Parnassus Books, as well as the founding editor of its online magazine, Musing. She lives in Nashville with her husband, two children, and two wicked pooches named Woodstock and Eleanor Roosevelt.

And her (truly funny) book is called Penguins With People Problems. The “random penguins” are a lineup of quirky, lovable weirdos with minds of their own. They understand the agony of social awkwardness, the power of the (not so) perfect smoky eye, and the hilarious terror of having a bee in the car.
This is ML. Not a Penguin, as far as we know.
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And now here’s a little Q&A between Wendi and ML

1. If you could be any kind of penguin, what kind would you be?

The one that lives on the spine of Penguin Books. That bird gets to go everywhere.

2. Why is Texas the best state in the world?

Because it’s like Tennessee but with an ocean.

3. Why are there no penguins in Texas?

I’m not qualified to speak on immigration issues.

4. What is your favorite humor book?

My publicist would probably appreciate it if I said it’s mine, but come on — David Sedaris all the way.

5. Who is your favorite humor writer named Wendi Aarons?

David Sedaarons.

6. What does “queso” mean in Spanish?

I believe it means, “Whose bicycle is this?”

7. What does “queso” mean in Arabic?

“It’s my bicycle, actually.”

8. What would a penguin do if you rubbed her tummy?

One of my penguins, you mean? Probably slap you. Most of my penguins are at least partially based on me, and I cannot stand to have my stomach touched. Also, I’m going to need you to take about five steps back right now.

9. Is Danny DeVito the sexiest penguin of all time?

You can take the question mark right off that statement.

10. What is your best fish dessert recipe?

I would say Swedish Fish, but if you’re really into gummies, the best thing to do is to fill a Solo cup with Trader Joe’s “Gummy Tummies” penguins and just tip it back into your face. I did this before a book signing in Memphis, and I think the audience was impressed with how amazingly fast and high my voice was when I was superjacked on straight sugar. My teeth vibrated for a week.

See? Told you she was funny. So, mark your calendar, hire a sitter, and come out for a night of cheesy fish! And fishy cheese! And fishy, cheesy people! Wait. Maybe not that last one. But there will be sangria, humor, laughs, and lots of books! It will be the best night you’ve ever had in your life, and that’s not a load of hyperbole, either.

RSVP here, and we’ll see you soon!

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