Painting with a Twist, North Austin version

We decided to look for another opportunity to do a “sip and paint” type studio event. A quick google search revealed four different Panting with a Twist stores in Austin. With this franchise, you have to check to see what painting was on the agenda on what day. Sher and I both liked a Valentine’s Day themed picture that was actually designed for “his and hers” to be combined to make one piece of art.

Front desk with the instructor and assistant

Thus we were off to Painting with a Twist of North Austin. Fortunately there was very adequate parking for the RV and it was a fairly easy drive to the studio. We got there plenty early, met the staff and got our aprons on.

Our work station

Work in progress

 

 

 

 

 

There was one instructor and an assistant. The set up was pretty neat: The instructor stood by the double canvas on a small stage. There she could give step by step instructions on how to create our masterpieces. In addition to seeing the instructor on the stage, there were also two large screen TV’s that you could also see her and the canvas as she painted it. Great idea!

Grinning and painting

Our finished two canvas painting in our RV

 

 

 

 

 

There were about 20 couples who were in our session. The instructor kept a running patter going as she gave us specific instructions on what to paint, how and when. She was good at her job, and was able to add humor and levity to her discourse. There was more than one reference to Bob Ross and his painting techniques during the session which was very interesting. Try one of these fun projects sometime. It is a great way to spend an evening. Here is the corporate website so you can find one of the studios near you.

Best doughnuts on the west coast

If you ask the folks that are patrons of Frost in Mill Creek outside of Seattle they will agree with the boastful title of this post. Seattle agrees that they are the best in Washington State. Sher and I were treated to a trip to Frost by our Seattle family.

The doughnut case

Delicate French style macarons

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Frost store is found in the Mill Creek Town Center, an upscale shopping and entertainment complex in this nice Seattle suburb. The store offers doughnuts, cupcakes and French macarons. The macarons are not to be confused with macaroons, a totally different treat.

That is a chocolate filled masterpiece

This perfect apple fritter defines the craft

 

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed a variety of different doughnuts during our visit. Though they were typical in type, all were extraordinary in taste. In addition the gourmet coffees were a special addition to our mid-morning sweet tooth break.

Artistic gourmet coffees compliment the pastries

The next time we are in the Seattle area, we’ll for sure want to  go with our family to the Frost store. Perhaps we will try a cupcake or a macaron on our next visit. But I don’t know, those doughnuts are pretty darned good! Check out the Frost website and be prepared to get hit with a sweet treat craving.

Seattle area’s Tulalip Resort Casino

North of Seattle just off I-5 is the Tulalip Resort and Casino. There is of course a massive multi-story hotel, many restaurants and shops, and 200,000 square feet of gaming floor with over 2400 slot machines and the usual table games.

The casino is currently offering some very good promotions during March. Lots of opportunities to win Free Play and other promotions including reduced hotel room rates. I wonder if this is due to the corona virus in the Seattle area. Perhaps casino attendance is lower than normal, and offering these promos is a way to keep people coming to the casino.

Beautiful display in the entrance fountain

Statue of Tribal member spear fishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

When visiting family in Seattle, Sher and I like to go to the Tulalip Casino, owned and operated by the Tulalip Tribe. It is really huge, and walking the gaming floor does provide some good exercise! We always designate a certain amount to gamble with, and never go over that amount. Sometimes we actually come out ahead.

Lucky spin turned 50 cents into $25.81 !!

 

Tulalip has some great restaurants, and the last time we went we decided to try their buffet. With the senior discount we felt it was a decent enough price. The buffet was good, but honestly had a rather small selection. We have been to better casino buffets for less money. Overall, though, the Tulalip Casino is definitely worth a visit if you  are in the area. Even if you never gamble, it is fun to just see how big the place is. There are also some great displays of Tribal art that are worth seeing. Here is the website.

 

Bastrop Texas

Bastrop Texas is an interesting little town southeast of Austin. We headed there with our Austin family to check things out.  We found a place to park and found a nice map of the town on a large display board. This let us kind of make some plans for our adventure.

Great map allowing for planning the day

Cute gravel alley leading to some shops

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed the visitor center that also had a museum as well. The history  of Bastrop is a tale of the old West that is fun to learn. The town is proud of its heritage and rightly so.

Some neat old stuff

A very unique raised flower bed

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed the 602 Brewery and Restaurant for a beer and a delicious meal. (read our review of the 602 Brewery here) After our meal we walked around the Main Street looking at the stores and shops. We also took a driving tour that led us to several historic homes in and around the downtown area.

Posing with a tortoise outside Visitor’s Center and Museum

Main Street, Bastrop

 

 

 

 

 

All in all we really enjoyed seeing Bastrop. There seem to be a lot of activities planned during the spring and summer months. There are over 30 festivals planned each year.  The 900 acre Lake Bastrop has a plethora of recreational opportunities. This town is proud of its heritage and is most welcoming to visitors. Put Bastrop on your list of Central Texas places to visit.

Austin’s La Hacienda RV Resort activity

We were pleasantly surprised to see an announcement that the RV resort where we were staying was offering a “Paint and sip” type activity. For $20 each, the park offered to provide all the materials needed to create your own masterpiece.  Sher and I had enjoyed a similar type event last year in Seattle, so we decided to sign up.

Sher getting her design layout on the canvas

Paint that RV’s door!

 

 

 

 

 

The technique for this event was different from what we had done before. Instead of an instructor doing a step by step, we were given a line drawing and carbon paper. That resulted in a rough sketch transfer onto the canvas.

The finished products!

The final results came out pretty well, I’d say. Sher and I enjoyed  the chance to drink some wine, interact with fellow RV park patrons, and create a couple of “masterpieces”.

Top It Yogurt Shoppe is the place for frozen treats

When we visit our daughter and her family in Seattle we always enjoy the town of Snohomish which is across a large agricultural valley north of Seattle. One of the unique places in Snohomish is the Top It Yogurt Shoppe. This popular shop is at the top of the hill on First Street.

The interior of the Shoppe

When you enter the store you are given either a cup or a cone for your yogurt or  ice cream. There are “serve yourself” stations where you can fill your cup or cone with the flavor(s) of your choice. Eight different flavors are offered.

Lots of toppings

Start here at the self serve machines

 

 

 

 

 

Then after you have filled your cup or cone the fun really begins. There are over forty different types of toppings for your treat. Name it, and you’ll find it in the tremendous array of delicious toppings you may choose. I chose hot fudge and two kinds of nuts for my cup of chocolate and vanilla swirl.

Even more toppings!

Syrup, syrup and more syrup

 

 

 

 

 

Ready to enjoy after checkout

Once you and the others in your party have your treats prepared to your liking, each serving is put on the scale. You see, you pay for your treat by weight, then enjoy your delicious creation. What a great idea to have for a mid-afternoon snack. You can get some more information at their Facebook page here.

Austin’s Jack Allen Kitchens utilize locally sourced foods

Our son and his family introduced us to Jack Allen Kitchens restaurants. This local chain of 4 establishments in the Austin area has really set a very high standard for reasons beyond high quality menu items. We went to the Anderson Lane version of the restaurant.

A portion of the interior of the Anderson Lane location

The base concept behind this eatery is a combination of local sourcing and local involvement. By utilizing local sources nearly entirely, you can be assured of fresh ingredients in every dish served. The company is very much involved in local charities as well.

The menu? Folks, you can’t get any better than the culinary delights found at Jack Allen Kitchens. The atmosphere is one of the most relaxed that you will ever find. You never feel rushed. The service is 5 star provided by truly professional wait staff.

Wedgies Salad

All of the cocktails are superb. The appetizers are great. (Try the house made pimento cheese and flat crackers. Yummy) But let’s talk the entrees! Sher had the “Wedgies salad”. It was huge, and as she said, the best ever. Garnished with onions, grape tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles, this salad was topped with green goddess dressing.

Chicken fried chicken, mashed ‘taters and veggies

I fell in love with the menu listing the “Chicken Fried Anything”. I went with the chicken breast, instead of the pork chop, ribs or meatloaf. (Yes, meatloaf.) The chicken fried chicken breast came smothered in gravy, resting on a portion of the large helping of mashed potatoes and accompanied by a squash medley veggie. Our son had the chicken fried meatloaf. He let me have a taste, and it was good too.

The dessert

And at the end of our meal, we were tempted with the dessert offerings. Biff (our waiter) offered to bring us 5 spoons and plates so we could share the decadent chocolate/pecan/ala mode you see in the picture. It was twice as good as it looks.

In or near Austin? Go to the Jack Allen Kitchen website here. Find the facility handy to you, and by all means go and enjoy a unique and memorable dining experience.

Great craft beer at Twisted X Brewing Company

Dripping Springs , Texas is in the Hill Country near Austin. A bit south of this eclectic town is the Twisted X Brewing Company. Sher and I put it on our agenda one Thursday afternoon, and were glad we did!

The tasting room

The tasting room at Twisted X is open air and very comfortable. The Thursday afternoon we were there also had a fella playing guitar and singing which was a nice touch. We ordered a flight of four to sample. The bartender picked out the samples for us, and he did a good job. Some of the beers are available only at the tasting room.

Bar and brew list board

The brewery logo

 

 

 

 

 

I really liked the Austin Lager, and even bought a couple of cans to take with us. By the way, it is an advantage to travel in our RV, as the fridge is right there, and you don’t have to ever worry about your brews getting too warm before you get home. You have your home with you!

Our flight of great craft beers

Anyway, the Twisted X Brewing Company is another fine brewery in the Dripping Springs area. They have brewery tours on Saturdays and Sundays. Private events are also hosted. Check the Twisted X website here for details. Put a visit to this brewery on your agenda, folks. You will be glad you did!

Texas Hill Country Olive Co.

We had just finished checking out the town of Dripping Springs in the Hill Country outside of Austin and were waiting for another brewery to open. I spotted a sign for an olive company the opposite direction from the brewery, so off we went.

Striking architecture of the Olive Company

About five miles later we saw what looked like some kind of Italian mountain villa. Yep, that turned out to be the Texas Hill Country  Olive Company. We had no idea what to expect, except that it would involve olives. Well, what a nice surprise when the hostess showed us to the free tasting stations. Yes, we were invited to taste different olive oils. I sure got an education.

Olive oils on the left, balsamic vinegars on the right

Fun signage

 

 

 

 

 

I had no idea that there were so many different kinds of olive oils, all of which were made by this family owned and operated business. Sher and I both enjoyed tasting the different olive oils. You taste them by putting a few drops in a small cup and either tasting it directly by mouth or dipped on a small piece of bread.

In the showroom in front of one of the tasting stations.

In addition to the oils, there were several varieties of balsamic vinegar as well set out for tasting. These were all imported from Italy, and there was an amazing range of flavors. The balsamic vinegar we bought was a blackberry flavor, which will be perfect to mix with the olive oil we bought to make a great salad dressing. Yum! The showroom also has a wide variety of gift boxes and other goodies.

Olive trees at the Olive Company

Olive tree beginning to flower

 

 

 

 

 

This place should be on everyone’s list of must visit places in the Hill Country. The site has lots of olive trees in their on site orchard. Our hostess explained that the company also has many more orchards in south Texas as well. Yes, olive trees grow in places other than Southern Europe and the Mid East. You can experience them at the Texas Hill Country Olive Co.

 

Back in Austin and the sunshine

Sher and  I thoroughly enjoyed our time in Seattle with our daughter, son-in-law and grandson for the past 3 weeks. On our way out there, we flew Delta from Austin to Seattle with a layover in Salt Lake City. Scroll though our blog for recent posts about the highlights of our Seattle trip.

Real winter in Seattle 2020

Before we left someone commented that we were nuts going to Seattle in January. Guess they were right as we were snowed in for three days the first week we were there. Seattle does not have the road equipment to handle snow! Oh, and Seattle maintained its reputation of rain, fog, rain, fog and more rain. We witnessed the sun one day, I should say about 3 hours, while we were there.

Returning to Austin we had the de-ice process at Cincy airport on a heavy frost morning

This is the first time in over 10 years since we have traveled by air. (You know, with an RV you don’t need planes!) Next time we fly we’ll have one large suitcase to check and each of us will have a small carry on bag. It was a pain carting those “carry on” size suitcases and stuffed smaller bags around. Coming back we flew Delta from Seattle to Cincinnati for crying out loud. Now I know what they mean when they say “red eye” flight. Left at nearly 11 pm, got into Cincy about 6 am. Got in to Austin about 10:30 am.

Welcome home!

Once in Austin, we got back to the La Hacienda RV Resort. Got the RV out of the storage yard, parked in our new site, hooked up the utilities and got things somewhat back to normal. My were we tired! Got carry out fast food for supper. We’ll hit the store next day. It was good to get back to our RV.