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SXSW con Queso: Picks & Minimal Recommendations From A Local

March 11, 2016

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We’ve seen an extraordinarily large number of unnecessarily complicated guides to Austin and SXSW this year…so so many write ups on the must-dos, must-sees, must-drinks, ad nauseam…most from people who don’t live in Austin. Most from people trying to be as “cool and as real as it gets”  and give you a list of 200 things YOU MUST DO in the 27 waking hours you are in town.

On the other hand, here’s a really short list adapted from a post we did a couple of years ago. Not much has changed but some things have…including our picks for SXSW 2016. Enjoy!

A few friends have asked what to expect from SXSW this year, what to do, who to see. And I say you’ll for sure see these people.   You should also get far away from that and go to our pick for Best Maker Event: SX CREATE presented by Dremel. And Best Empowerment Event: The #SpeakBeautiful Effect with Dove and Twitter. 

In addition, an exhaustive list of other official free events is right here. 

Beyond that, I don’t really care. But while you’re here, I would suggest that you look into a few, more localized activities. Things like this:

1. Get Some of The Best Queso in Austin. Here are my suggestions. I could talk more about this and I’m happy to. But you can’t really go wrong with most places in town so you’re probably fine no matter what. You’ll be especially pleased if you get your cheese from somewhere where there are no lines and whose name you can’t really pronounce.


2. Go See My Cousin’s Band. I’m not even kidding. That’s him right in the middle there. They are called Chasca, they are local, and they are awesome + beyond entertaining. Trust me. You won’t be sure what you are watching, but you won’t be disappointed.

There are two Chasca shows this first WEEKEND! Friday they play with girling at Hard Luck Lounge from 9-10 pm. Saturday they play with Alien Knife Fight at The Highball Austin at 11:30 pm. No cover. Have fun.

Photo of (from left) Keith Schmidt, Susie Schmidt-Franks, Chad Franks and John Fullilove courtesy of Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman.

3. Go To My Favorite BBQ Spot In Town. Don’t wait in a six-hour line for meat.  Schmidt Family Barbecue  is the cousin child of the legendary Kreuz Market and Smitty’s BBQ in Lockhart. Here’s more. To sum up, the new joint is from the next generation of cousins from the ultimate BBQ family of Texas. It’s closer to town, in Bee Cave. And it’s worth the drive from downtown. Go. (Also, PS, I’m not sure what you’ve heard, but The Salt Lick is in no way the best BBQ in town. Not even close. And Franklin’s is worth the wait normally…but not the wait this week.)

4. Go Outside. This is especially important if you are from anywhere north of Waco. But wherever you come from, get away from downtown. Go to Barton Springs. Or Deep Eddy. Or the Kite Festival. Or Mount Bonnell. Or just really anywhere that’s not a line flowing into a parking lot.

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5. Go to Mozart’s for Coffee.  Go to Hula Hut for chips, salsa and margs on the deck. Go to Taco Deli for tacos and to Matt’s El Rancho for enchiladas and to Maudie’s for anything else. If you want fancy food, go to Counter 3. Five. VII. or Lenoir or Uchi (or, even better, Uchiko). If you don’t want fancy food, go to Ramen Fukuya. Catch a movie at Alamo Draft House. Don’t go to any of those ridiculous donut places. If you need donuts, go to KC Donuts. And go to Lick for ice cream. You won’t be disappointed. An none of those places will have SXSW lines.

Enjoy our town. It gets better the further away you move from the convention center. Trust us on this.

Soundtrack: That’s Right. By this smart guy with really great hair from Klein, Texas. 

SXSW con Queso // Best Maker Event: Dremel Brings Makers and Motorcycle Fun to SXSW

March 11, 2016

It’s March in Austin, Texas, which means two things: rain showers and SXSW. And while we like both of those things quite a bit, it’s SXSW that has us really excited this year because of SX CREATE presented by Dremel.

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What’s SX Create, you ask? Why, it’s the hardware hacking and maker arm of SXSW! This year it’ll be held at Palmer Events Center on March 11-13, 2016 and they promise “more space, more fun and even more hands-on excitement” with activities like 3D printing, drones and biohacking. I’m not so sure what biohacking is, but I’m intrigued!

The good news is that SX Create is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Sorry for the all caps, but that’s kind of exciting since so much of SXSW requires a badge. Here’s the info:

SX CREATE

March 11–13, 2016 | 11:00am–6:00pm

Palmer Events Center (900 Barton Springs Road)

SX Create is FREE with Guest Pass

SX Create presenting sponsor Dremel is a company built on a tradition of exploration, and they’re all about handmade artistry. After all, they invented the high-speed rotary tool in 1934, and since then they’ve been helping Makers make magic  with their full line of versatile tool systems like Multi-MaxTM oscillating tools, Ultra-SawTM and Saw-MaxTM multi-saws and FortiflexTM flex shaft tool, and the Idea BuilderTM 3D printer.

To celebrate the Maker spirit, Dremel is bringing a unique mashup of new technology and new partners to SXSW. They want to not only inspire, but to challenge Makers, via incentives, to leave their mark. And to show that, they have some majorly cool things going on at their booth (Booth #401 — write that down). Cool things like:

An Indian Scout Motorcycle sweepstakes!

Even if you don’t know much about motorcycles, you’ve no doubt heard of Indian. They were founded in 1901, and they’re  classic, beautiful bikes that pride themselves on craftsmanship. And for that reason, they make the perfect partner for Dremel. An Indian® Chief® Vintage motorcycle will be at the Dremel booth, #401 at SX Create, and noted Makers Hank Robinson of Hanro Studios and Paul Niemeyer will put a customized spin on the bike’s leather and metal parts with live, detailed etching and engraving. Seriously, look at this thing. I totally want to grab a helmet and head out on the open road until my kids are in their 30’s. Va-room.

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After the SX Create bike is finished, it will then be unveiled at the Indian Motorcycle display at the 2016 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August. (Have you ever been to Sturgis? I have. Once, by mistake, in the family station wagon. Long story. We don’t ever talk about it.) The bike will then tour select Dremel and Indian Motorcycle events, and be displayed at Dremel HQ for all to drool over.

But wait! There’s more! You can WIN a bike!

Dremel and Indian are co-sponsoring a sweepstakes that grants one lucky winner the chance to own a one-in-a-million ride. Because they’re all about individualistic style, Hank the Maker will personalize an Indian® Scout® Sixty motorcycle unique to the winner’s own interests. Like, if you are a huge fan of Texas, he’ll engrave a Longhorn and/or Willie Nelson on it and then everybody you know will be jealous of you for the rest of your life unless you give them rides on it.

The sweepstakes runs March 11 through September 30, 2016, and fans can enter online once per day at www.dremelmakeyourindianmotorcycle.com (Note: site does not go live until March 11, 2016. Visit the Dremel and Indian Motorcycle Facebook pages for the other prizes up for grabs, too!)

More fun at Drexel Booth #401:

Make your own customized leather luggage tags! All SX Create visitors will have the opportunity to make their own however they like, then take it home with them to use on their next trip. Mine would either say, “BACK OFF, THIS IS MY BAG” or “PROPERTY OF RYAN GOSLING.”

SX Create visitors can also meet Dremel Chief Maker and Austin native Celina Muire talking about her work on Saturday. Celina is a “pyrographer,” which means she makes amazing things via burning wood, on purpose, in addition to gorgeous pieces of art like this:

Via CA Muire Instagram

Via CA Muire Instagram

 I totally want that in my house now. That is going to happen, Celina. Get ready for my phone call.

Dremel will also debut its newest 3D printer, the Dremel 3D40 Idea Builder, a part of their complete 3D printing ecosystem for the classroom and Maker workshops, at SX Create. Per Dremel, this “second-generation printer increases design flexibility and ease of use for students and techies with USB- and Wi-Fi-enabled printing, a larger building platform, and the new Dremel 3D app for iOS and Android, which enables users to design 3D objects remotely. The 3D40 Idea Builder is also compatible with HP Sprout, an immersive 3D scanning system. The synergistic technologies create an intuitive design, scanning and printing process that encourages communal problem solving and activates imaginative thinking. Fans can experiment with both systems live at the Dremel booth.”

Whew. I just need to know if it can print out a 3D Ryan Gosling for me so I can tell him I have his luggage.

If you’ll be in Austin or at SXSW, be sure to stop by SX Create at the Palmer Events Center March 11-13 and visit where? That’s right, Dremel at Booth #401 to see all of the amazingly creative and innovative things they’re doing, and to enter to win that sweet Indian Motorcycle.

For more information about Dremel activities at SX Create, visit https://www.dremel.com/en-us/Pages/default.aspx and the Dremel Facebook page. To learn more about Indian Motorcycle and HP Sprout, visit www.IndianMotorcycle.com and www8.hp.com/us/en/sprout/home.html.

This post was sponsored by Dremel. All information provided by them, all weird, colorful commentary provided by me.

SXSW con Queso // BEST EMPOWERMENT EVENT: DOVE Raises the Level of Conversation & Brings Its New #SpeakBeautiful Technology to SXSW.

March 10, 2016

It’s no secret that we are fans of Dove. They are long time partners in the Mom 2.0 Summit. And frankly, we just really like their mission, their people and their products.

We also like that they are actively working to raise the conversation about conversation online.

According to research commissioned by Dove, eight out of 10 women have seen negative comments in conversations about other women’s looks on social media. And four out of every five negative tweets about beauty and body image are written by women critiquing themselves. That’s why they teamed up to launch #SpeakBeautiful, a campaign encouraging women to be more positive when tweeting about beauty and body image. Well, that and because it’s about time. And it seems they are always the go-to group to make things happen.

“Ideas and opinions about body image are now fluidly shared every second through social feeds, and sometimes we do not fully realize the resounding impact of the words in even one post,” Jennifer Bremner, Dove’s Director of Marketing, said. “We can positively change the way future generations express themselves online.”

So that’s what they are rolling up to Austin with…a lot of smart women, positive vibes, good manners and beautiful words…all things SXSW could do well to embrace … and we say bravo! All around.

Dove has designed this SXSW event for those looking for a very cool, interesting discussion on women’s empowerment and online harassment with an inspiring panel of trailblazers.

Saturday, March 12, 1 – 3 pm. Trinity Hall. (See more details in the above image.)

We wouldn’t miss it.

RSVP to the SXSW event here. 

Find out more about the Dove campaign here.

Fishsticks & Queso Party

October 29, 2015

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.

Texas Women’s Conference: Epic Women in Texas

October 27, 2015

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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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

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
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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Jenny Lawson “The Bloggess” Gets Furiously Happy con Queso with an Interview, an Announcement and an Old-School Giveaway

September 21, 2015

Jenny Lawson is my BFF and it just so happens that she has a book coming out tomorrow. Or today if you are currently in Australia. I say that because a whole chapter of her new book is set in Australia…and I know that everything Australian in the book is 100% true because I happened to be with her in Australia when it happened. So sayeth the Koala.

jenny-sydney

Exactly. And that part didn’t even make the book. A lot of other things did though, things that were even better. But the book isn’t about Australia, not at all. It’s about being furiously happy…which, granted, is somewhat easy to do when you are in Australia, but that’s not really the point.

The point is about choosing. Choosing life. Choosing happiness. No, more than that, choosing to be freaking furiously happy no matter what is going down. And with Jenny, there’s always a lot going down. At this point, she would make a really lewd joke and I wouldn’t get it or even know what was going on, and then she’d tell me between fits of laughter what I had just said and then I’d be like, crap, now I have to edit that out, that’s not at all what I meant, and then she’d laugh so hard she couldn’t breathe and we’d forget what we were talking about because she was now effectively dying of not breathing. And really that’s sort of what the book is about. Seeking and finding and celebrating happiness and laughter and joy even in the midst of confusion and embarrassment and suffocation. Or something. It has a lot going on. And it’s good. It’s my favorite thing she’s written yet. Keep reading.

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A little backstory: Jenny and I have been friends for a decade now. We met through blogging when she was writing for the Houston Chronicle on Mama Drama and I was writing here at Blog con Queso.

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Photo credit: Ed Schipul

One time we threw a party called Mama Drama con Queso at a random Mexican restaurant for really no reason at all.  (We even had a logo! And listed and linked everyone who attended. Old school, y’all.) It made zero sense, but it was fun. That pretty much sums up most of my favorite things.

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And this pretty much sums up our friendship right here.

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Over the last decade, we’ve been to an embarrassing amount of blogging conferences together. I even help run one now. I know, so nerdy. So fun. Photo credit: Rita Arens 

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And here we are at the Kirtsy book launch, where Jenny was first published. I think that’s true. This was in her “I wear comfort wigs everywhere” phase.

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We quit our jobs at the same time. (Purely coincidence. She left to write a book. I left to take naps in the middle of the day.) Photo credit: Karen Walrond. Although I’m not sure how that’s possible since Karen is in the photo. Magic!

 

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We moved to the country at the same time. Related, her dead dog was half pulled up from the grave by vultures. So I helped run off some vultures. (Texas forever.) All that was in her first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. 

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This was us the moment we found out that her first book had debuted #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List. Oh yes it did. So now you’re caught up. And now Jenny has a new book that’s coming out, and we are furiously happy about it!

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Are you ready? Because new book. And it comes out tomorrow (today if you’re in Australia). And you should get it. Like right now. Go.

Harry-and-Jenny

While you’re doing that the rest of us will look at this photo of Jenny and my son Harry, who happens to be turing 10 on the same day that Jenny’s book comes out tomorrow (today, Australia). He is a bit younger than 10 in this photo. THAT IS HOW LONG IT TAKES BOOKS TO COME OUT. I feel like we’ve been waiting for this one forever. And now it’s here! Finally!

So let’s do this. An interview with Jenny Lawson, a big announcement and a totally rad and ridiculous giveaway. Keep reading. And get ready to get happy. Furiously Happy. 

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Laura: Hi Jenny. You are nice. And I like your outfit. What are you doing?

Jenny: Thank you!  They’re pajamas.  Don’t tell anyone.  BTW, your hair looks fantastic.

L: Thanks! It’s real. Okay, some serious like I know what I’m doing questions now. Are you ready?

J: Ready! And I will try to pretend like I’m a responsible person who answered these questions on time. * cough *

L: Okay. Let’s go.  When we met, you were doing spreadsheets for a living, basically. Did you ever think you’d be writing books?

J: Yes. I just didn’t think people outside of my house would ever read them.

L: Fair enough. But then they did! And people seem to like them. I’d even say they’re quite inspiring. So what are your greatest creative inspirations? 

J: I read a lot.  Possibly too much, if that’s possible.  Dorothy Parker, Nora Ephron, and David Sedaris inspire me with their irreverence and humor in tackling hard subjects.

L: Good answer. Remember that time you stalked Amy Sedaris? Good times. Ok. What is your favorite word? 

J: Tintinnabulation: The sound of ringing bells.  My favorite definition of it though is the lingering sound of a ringing bell that occurs after the bell has been struck.  I love that there’s a name for that noise that comes after a noise.

L: Deep. What is your least favorite word?  

J: Panties.

L: Valid.  And what is your favorite curse word?

J: Fuck.  It’s a verb, a noun, an adjective.  It’s positive or negative depending on the tone.  It’s the most flexible thing I own.

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L: What is your favorite room in your house? 

J: My office.  It’s filled with books, my computer and a shitton of taxidermied animals wearing Victorian clothing.

L: Not unlike the taxidermied animals you wear out in public. Favorite spot in the world not in your house? 

J: The swing in my backyard with a good book.

L: Speaking of, what are you reading right now?

J: I always have a lot of books going at once because I like to read what best fits my mood.  Right now I’m rereading Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune for the 5th time, Kindred for the 2nd time and Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood for the 1st time.

L: The best part about being your age?

J: I don’t have to go to high school ever again.

L: Nightmare job? 

J: Scorpion tester?  Is that a job?  Because I wouldn’t want it.

L: I don’t think that’s a job. But maybe. In Australia or something. That’s a teaser for the book. Get it? How about a talent you wish you had? 

J: I wish I could not care what people think about me.  That probably isn’t a “talent” but it’s something I’m working on.

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L: Your definition of kindness:

J: Forgiving someone who never said they were sorry.  It’s a kindness to them and to yourself.

L: Your definition of awesome:

J: This guy: https://instagram.com/dallasclayton/

L: What’s your favorite new discovery or find?

J: Calamityware.  It’s like the blue willow china my mom had, but infested with octopuses and pirates and aliens. http://calamityware.com (This just in: Calamityware has added to the giveaway below. Keep reading…)

L: A six-word memoir that captures your life as an artist OR your art life.

J: “I apologize for everything in advance.”

L: Okay, but that should not apply to this new book because it’s awesome.

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L: But shifting gears, this is The Queso after all, so here are few Texas questions for you. First, what’s your favorite Texas food?

J: Kolaches.  Not the meat ones.  The fruit/poppyseed ones.

L: Your favorite season in Texas?

J: We have seasons in Texas?

L: Allegedly. What about your fave Texas word?

J: Y’all.  It’s almost as versatile as “fuck”.

L: Almost. Where’s one place in Texas that everyone should visit?

J: Big Bend

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L: What’s one quintessential Texas experience everyone should have?

J: Watching a thunderstorm storm blow in from your porch.  That amazing smell of rain hitting dust.

L: Texans get a lot of crap for being obnoxious…and sure, we get that…but what’s one thing that makes Texans unequivocally awesome and/or pretty great?

J: Friendliness.  Especially in the country when every time you pass someone on the road you wave at them.  Not a full wave, but lifting two fingers from the steering wheel in recognition of “I see you.  We’re both here.  Thanks for not hitting me.”

L: Who is your favorite Texas artist right now? Music or Maker.

J: Miranda Lambert.  She’s perfect to sing along to when you’re really angry or really happy or both.

L: Favorite thing about being Texan?

J: That there are so many definitions of being Texan.

L:. Preach.

J: Right?

L: Completely. Favorite “Texas” recipe? 

J: Um.  Booze slushies?

L: Interesting. And you don’t cook, so very apt. I will follow up with you on this later. I see Jenny’s Boozy Slushies recipe will be here in coming weeks.

J: No.

L: Yes. 

L: Okay, where’s your recommended spot to get the best queso?

J: Your house.

L: Aw! Come over right now!  

J: I can’t I have a book coming out tomorrow and I can’t find my shoes.

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L: Legit. But seriously now, let’s get serious. We’ve all read this blog post which was the origin story and inspiration for Furiously Happy…but what inspired you to take it to the next level and write this book?

J: Being a bit “touched” is so intrinsically part of being me that I thought it would be the next logical book.  Write what you know.

L: What was your favorite discovery you found when writing Furiously Happy?

J: That even people who didn’t have or understand mental illness were still interested in learning about it.  I was afraid that this book would have a very limited sort of audience but it turns out that everyone can relate to a little bit of crazy.

L: What is the one thing you want people to take away from Furiously Happy?

J: That depression lies.  That everyone is fighting his or her own personal battle.  That kindness saves lives.  That being different is nothing to be ashamed of.  Wait, did you say “one thing”?  Sorry.  I suck at math.

L: That’s okay, I am too, and I like all those things. The more, the merrier. And the book covers even more than that. As well as our trip to Australia and a fancy dermatologist amongst other things. But all and all and in the end, what’s your favorite definition of Furiously Happy?

J: Madly joyous.  That looks like I just used a thesaurus but I did not.  I can’t even find my thesaurus. I suspect it was abducted by possums.

L: What’s your deal with possums, man?

J: What’s YOUR deal with possums, man?  You’re practically infested with them.  We went on the other side of the world and you still managed to find them.  I think you might be haunted.  With possums.

L: Rude. That’s also a teaser for the new book, yes?

J: I can not confirm or deny this.

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The above photo is also a teaser for a chapter in the new book. It’s less scary than it looks. Possibly.

L: Right but now to the questions we’ve all been wanting to know: Is blogging dead? No really. Is it dead? The blogging? HA HA HA. Hahahahaha. Ha.  

J: What’s “blogging”?

L: That’s what I thought. What else do you want us to know?

J: That my feet are shrinking.  They got bigger when I was pregnant but in the last 6 months they’ve shrunk and now I’m walking out of all of my shoes.  What does that mean?

L: I think it means you’re probably going to be the next helper on Doctor Who. Or personal assistant. Or whatever.

J: COMPANION! And You’re Fired!

L: Okay, Donald. Role of BFF is so wide open for the taking, folks. Because nope.

J: Yes! And okay, you’re not fired. But you just have to watch it with me, YOU HAVE TO! You will change your mind.

L: No, no. I already watched that one long one with you and it was totally scary, like worse than Fantasy Island scary. And I didn’t like it. And I still have bad dreams about that creepy kid. 

J: No. You have to keep trying. You have to watch at least three. That’s the rule. TRY! TRY AGAIN! Everyone knows that. You have to watch three.

L: I will watch three if you will come back and tell us your favorite boozy slushy recipe.

J: Okay. I’ll make something up.

L: Deal. But most importantly, before you go. What’s the password?

J: Password.

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Are you still here? Still reading? Well if so, I’m extremely impressed because that was long, so you get two rewards.

  1. You get to be one of the first to know that Little Ms. Jenny Lawson will now be writing at The Queso from time to time. Oh yes she will. And two…
  2. We’re going to do an old school, old fashioned giveaway here. Old school blogging, y’all! If you leave a comment here on this post, you will be entered to win the randomly selected by randomized Bloggess Prize Package that has at least seven things in it. Probably more. Here’s what that looks like. At least.
The Old School Giveaway Bloggess con Queso Prize Package

A signed copy of Furiously Happy.

A signed Traveling Rory. The original Traveling Rory, in fact. Total collectors item.

 A signed copy of Jenny’s audio book which she recorded herself. Well, I mean it’s her voice reading it.

Some other random crap I find around that I get her to sign. This could be anything. God help us, every one.

Basically anything else I think of or find to throw into the care package. It will be good, y’all.

A certified certificate that states that you are a WINNER!

Some Sour Patch Kids.

Aaaannnddd….THIS JUST IN!…

The artist owner of Calamityware has reached out to us and he would like to play along in the Furiously Happy Old School Giveaway Bloggess con Queso Prize Package madness so he is throwing another high-quality item into the mix:

(Only he’s not actually throwing it, because it’s porcelain, and he is responsible.)

AND Jenny’s favorite Calamityware plate 

So LEAVE A COMMENT RIGHT HERE telling us what you think of Jenny and/or books and/or possums and you are immediately and instantly ENTERED TO WIN! And my God, I hope you win.

Also, go to Jenny’s At Home Book Party on Tuesday night and join us at Book People in Austin on Wednesday night.  In Houston on Friday night. In Dallas on SaturdayAnd/or go see her anywhere on the road between now and December.

Or come back here. She’ll be here, too.  Consuming Queso as per usual.

But first…

A FEW BIG UPDATES!!!!!!

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A) Jenny’s book debuted at #3 on the New York Times Best Seller List! Whoa! Go Jenny! Go You!

Also…

B)  Here are some photos of the goods one of you will win!  Here’s how it shakes out.

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There’s the whole signed Furiously Happy package of goodness. Book that she used to do her reading (the book she read from) at her first Furiously Happy Tour Stop book reading (!) which happened in Austin. Signed copy of the audio book. Signed Rory mask. And the original traveling Rory. 

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I forgot to pick up random items in my house, so I just pulled random items out of my purse for Jenny to sign. Like some playing cards, a receipt, a package of tweezers, a scarf. Oh and teabags…signed by Jenny, Victor and Hailey. You can have tea with the whole Lawson family.

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Plus, Calamityware added one of Jenny’s favorite plates to the mix: Tentacles. 

Plus, a certificate, some other things, sour patch kids. It’s really good. You’ll see. But this contest is almost over (midnight CST 10/2) so if you haven’t left a comment to enter, do that now!   On this post.

Also…

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C) Our Texas Conference for Women giveaway ends tonight, too (same time, midnight CST 10/2) so if you haven’t left a comment to enter that one, do that now!  On this post.  We’ll be there. You want to be there. Celebrate good times, c’mon.

Go.

Texas Women Are So Awesome, They Even Have a Conference

September 16, 2015

Where will you be this October 15th? If you’re anywhere near Austin, the answer should be, “Why, I’ll be at the 2015 Texas Conference for Women, of course!” Because we will be there. And you’ll be there right? Because you’re smart like that, aren’t you? (And keep reading for your chance to win a ticket to the conference.)

Here’s why you should attend the 16th annual conference held at the Austin Convention Center: Thousands of women from across the state attend for a full day of networking, inspiration, professional development and personal growth. The one-day Conference features keynote addresses, and breakout sessions led by more than one hundred experts in the fields of business, philanthropy, health, finance, media and professional development. The nonprofit, nonpartisan event draws women of all ages and backgrounds who are interested in building communication skills, leadership strategies and work-life balance tools.

Plus, sometimes they have free cookies.

This year, one of the keynote speakers will be Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Emmy winner, author, two time cancer survivor and all-around inspirational person. Plus, she looks awesome in orange:

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Not many people do, you know. Look awesome in orange.

Patricia Arquette will also be keynoting. You may remember Patricia from when she won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Olivia in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, then gave a heartfelt acceptance speech on the gender wage gap in the U.S. You just know her keynote will be smart, powerful and full of calls to action about pay equity and how we can achieve it.

Patricia Arquette Photo: Randee St. Nicholas/CBS © 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Patricia Arquette
Photo: Randee St. Nicholas/CBS
© 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Also keynoting on 10/15 are the amazing Candy Chang, urban space artist and designer and TED Senior Fellow, and founder of the “Before I Die…” project, and Bert Jacobs from Life Is Good who will talk about how we should all “choose optimism.” He seems very “the margarita glass is half-full,” so that’ll be a fun speech.

In addition to the keynoters, there are 100+ speakers appearing at the Conference, including Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family and president of New America Foundation; Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva and Profounder; Mary Spio, CEO of Next Galaxy Media and author of It’s Not Rocket Science: 7 Game-Changing Traits for Uncommon Success; Aliza Licht, DKNY PR GIRL and author of Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job, Kill It in Your Career, Rock Social Media; Elizabeth Thornton, author of The Objective Leader: How to Leverage the Power of Seeing Things As They Are; Azita Ardakani, founder and CEO of LoveSocial; Gloria Feldt, New York Times best-selling author and co-founder of Take The Lead; Major MJ Hegar, Foreign Policy 100 Leading Global Thinker; Gloria Mayfield Banks, world-renowned leadership coach and many more.

Now back to the free ticket business: Want to win it? Go visit the Texas Conference for Women website, take a look at the speakers, then come back here and leave a comment telling us who you’re excited to see. Check out the Conference Agenda, too, for more insight. Winner will be chosen at random, and they may possibly get to sit next to an esteemed member of The Queso during the keynote luncheon, too.

And just in case you’re not our lucky winner, you can still use this super secret password that will get you $10 off the ticket price. You can purchase tickets here and use the password TXBG15. Win/win/win! Good luck!

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