Hot Sauce and Aspirin

Some tips and tricks to survive a hangover.

Several weeks ago we had a welcome home party for my great friend and her husband, who came back to us from the wilderness of Delaware.  It was a super fun party, sandwiched in between a very busy weekend. (Story of my life, I know!) Because we had plans for Sunday, it was important that I manage to avoid my signature 2 day hangover.  I had recently been given a code for free Liquid IV, which is really just a re-hydration system, not a tailored hangover cure. It is designed for athletes or illness, as a way to immediately replace electrolytes and provide essential vitamins.  Over the course of the last couple of years, I have learned that hangovers and the effects of running a marathon are very similar in terms of depletion, so things that claim to be excellent sources or hydration are usually worth a try as a hangover remedy.  Since this post is largely personal experiences and no larger data pools, whenever I have the opportunity for several people to try the same thing after drinking approximately the same amount of the same beverages, I jump at it.  Now, I did not count how many beers everyone had the night before, myself included.  But I did buy the beer, so I know we were all drinking the same kind, and we all stayed the night, so I can affirm we all drank more than 1-2 beers.  In order to mitigate the disaster, I handed out B Complex vitamins and Milk Thistle the night of the party, and encouraged everyone to take it with a glass of water.  That alone is enough for some of my heartier friends to sail into Sunday mornings carefree and happy.  For me it’s an excellent base, but doesn’t get me all the way home.  So, after some amount of beer, no liquor and no wine, I woke up Sunday feeling thirsty, tired and like I might be hungover later.  I got ready for our day, we were driving about an hour out to Real Ale for an event, then checking out Jensen Ackles brewery, and heading home.  When I got downstairs, my friends Sonia, Michael, and Charlie also came down looking bleary, and my stubborn husband wandered down as well.  Myself, Sonia, Michael, and Charlie all drank a liquid IV.  The taste was not unlike Gatorade, but it really needed to be very cold, and maybe diluted in 20 ounces of water instead of 16.  It says it provides the hydration of 2-3 bottles of water, using “Cellular Transport Technology.” The claim is that due to it’s proprietary ratios of potassium, sodium, glucose and water the liquid can be efficiently absorbed into the upper digestive tract.  As someone who suffers from absorption issues, and really should not drink at all, I was especially interested in that claim. Brian, the stubborn, said he did not need that, and I believe instead took a blo-fish.  Sonia and Michael went to a family BBQ, Charlie, myself, Brian, and Liam, who does not drink as he is a minor with good sense, all went off to Real Ale.  The one thing lacking in the Liquid IV, as far as a hangover cure goes is a stimulant, but it is not designed to be for hangovers, so it kind of makes sense.  Besides being tired, my nausea went completely away, headache was gone, skin and eyes didn’t feel dry.  It worked for me.  Charlie reported the same findings.  Once the coffee we stopped for kicked in, we were both fine.  Brian, on Blo-Fish, had to stop talking several times because he thought he was going to throw up, and his head never stopped hurting.  We tried to rally, but were all kind of over being out in the hot weather after a long weekend of activity, so after a ridiculously delicious grilled cheese and a mediocre beer from Family Business Beer Company, we headed home.  Sonia and Michael, coincidentally had left something at our house, and ended up back there the same time we arrived home.  They both also reported that their family BBQ was only doable because the liquid IV took care of the hangover, but they were tired and ready to veg out at their new home.  I will absolutely buy more of this stuff, it has no harsh chemicals or stimulants in it, and as a sufferer of chronic dehydration, I will use it to survive hot Texas and Florida summers even without drinking!  To find out more about it, or order some for yourself, here is the link! Liquid IV

Fun side note, the makers of Liquid IV also include a packet that is supposed to be a sleep aid, I have not tried it yet, but look forward to testing it out while I am in Florida.  For some reason, I have a hard time sleeping there. The price point for liquid IV is great too, it’s less expensive than some of my other favorites, and serves more than just one function.  My son could take it to the pool, I can drink it after a run, it can keep me alive after a night out on the town, and when I’m in a bad flare it can keep me hydrated.  Any UC/IBD sufferers out there may want to give it a try as a supplement.  Nuun has been my go to, but I feel like Liquid IV has the edge as far as total hydration goes. If I can get a discount code from them for you all, I will include it at a later time, but in the meantime, it’s worth paying full price for it.

Cheers!  And be on the lookout for my spin off blog, Shop The Good Guys, a guide to spending your money on earth and human friendly products, while not going broke or joining a cult!  Hopefully coming later today, May 29th, 2019.

This is a huge departure from my normal antics of traveling, drinking, and drinking while traveling.  This is also extremely important, and since hot sauce is my biggest platform to reach strangers, I wanted to announce it here.  Last Thursday, I woke up in a terrible mood.  You ever have those days?  For no reason you just think it’s going to be a bad day, and so it is.  I woke up already defeated, and started scrolling through Facebook.  You know how when you have those days, rather than look at we rate dogs, or dogs of Instagram, you search for the people on your friends list who you really don’t like, just so you can stay annoyed, and you click on the articles about the world ending, school shootings, immigration disasters, and other massive things that you can’t control very much, but can definitely get mad about?  That’s where I was.  Scrolling through my feed past the cute babies, the bluebonnet pics, the new houses, and stopping on the “area priest rapes again”, etc.  Well, one of the articles I clicked on was basically “You are supporting slavery every day.” And grumpy pissed off me was like, “great, what else am I doing wrong?” But, I read it anyway.  The article, which I so wished I had saved, or that I could even remember from where I found it, was from 2018, and talked about Nestle and how they benefit from slavery, deforestation, anti union practices, and child labor.  It painted a horrible and very effective picture of children stolen from beds being forced to pick cocoa beans, species of animals becoming endangered due to the over farming and deforesting effects of palm oil, forced slave labor of both children and adults, campaigns that convinced mothers to use formula in areas where they had no access to fresh water.  I mean, it was terrible.  Still, I thought, it’s 2019 now, probably they were exposed and decided to make a plan to improve.  I fired up the old google box and learned that once they were exposed as the monsters they are, they said it would be more expensive not to use slavery, and in fact increased the amount of slavery they use.  They argued that the slight cost increase to the consumers was a greater ethical issue than actual child slavery.  At this point in my already bad day, I found a flow chart from the free thought project that uncovered the main companies owned by Nestle. Then I learned they even recently bought out formerly Austin owned, and beloved in my household, Chameleon Cold Brew, which I was in fact drinking, right at that moment.  Upset and overwhelmed I turned to Facebook, I figured they broke me, maybe they could fix me.  The question I put forth was, how do I know what is bad, and how can I find something better?  This innocent question, asked from a hopeless place during a bad day, quickly returned an answer.  Then another one, and another one. Some were so small like, I’m sorry your coffee is evil now, but Ruta Maya is ethically sourced and delicious, and available near you.  So, I was like, OK, I have coffee now, but what about every other thing I buy that is terrible? (Coffee was kind of the least of my problems, since I usually get my coffee from a local,  woman, LGBTQ owned cafe any way, shout out to Crema for keeping me caffeinated.)  But one game changer was a link to Better World, which lists thousands of companies in dozens of categories, and ranks them A to F based on their extensive research. Once I learned that just because my toothpaste was evil, that didn’t mean all toothpaste was evil, or that I had to start using baking soda and lemon juice or something, to avoid the evil toothpaste giants, I realized it was not going to be that difficult to avoid the big bads, and send them a message by using my money to support their competitors who operate with a soul.

My plan is to create a blog, separate from Hot Sauce, that provides practical guides for all kinds of things.  A one stop shop for you before you shop.  An ethical pre-store.  It will include what to buy, but also where to buy it.  How to best travel (hint, southwest isn’t too bad if you need to fly.). Where to bank, what cars to buy.  And unlike most of the lists, I will skip the overly crunchy stuff, and focus on cost effective, easily accessible items that receive high user ratings.  Doing the right thing shouldn’t be more expensive, it shouldn’t take more time, and it shouldn’t be something you agonize over. Let me do all that research for you, you just keep shopping and living your best life.  And if any of my drunkies stuck with me this far, I will be making sure that going forward my hangover remedies are all ethically sourced.

What I need from you all is a name!  My friend Leslee (Taming of the Two), said she likes Supreme guide to shopping without raping the earth and its inhabitants.   My niece, who is currently in college majoring in environmental studies likes Capitalist Hellscape Survival Guide.  I was thinking something short and sweet like The Ethical Capitalist.  But what do you all think?  Whatever I decide, it will be launching on it’s own site soon!

I have to take a minute before I start, to say thank you to Stouthaus Coffee for being cool with the 20 people taking up all their table space with our laptops.  I usually write from home, planes, hotels, and once the bathroom (I have IBD, sometimes I spend a lot of time in there!) Today I needed to vacate my house for a couple hours, so I decided it would be an excellent time to catch up on posts over a couple beers.  My husband suggested Stouthaus, since they have coffee and beer, so here I am, joining the sea of laptops, taking up space, looking important, drinking the prettiest beer ever! Shout out to people who “work from home” from bars, that’s such a smart choice, I hope you are ordering something every hour or so to pay for that privilege.  I certainly have been, which makes me think I should have ubered here, but I have left my car in this parking lot more than once!

Moving on, this past weekend was Easter for Roman Catholics and Christians, it was also Passover, so happy holidays if you align with any of those things.  I personally am not religious, but am a sucker for tradition, so we travel to west Texas whenever possible for Easter fun.  My best friend in the universe lives in Odessa, and obviously going there spells shenanigans.  Normally I pack all my best remedies to help us muddle through.  This year everything sneaked up on me, and I found myself shoving clothes in a bag Friday morning as we tried to get out of town.  No remedies, no vitamins, no plan!  We were unofficially hoping that Friday would be the crazy night, so if we were hungover we could still function to hunt for eggs then drive home on Sunday.  It’s a 5 hour drive from Austin to Odessa, Texas is huge.  I have done that drive hungover more than once, it is terrible.  Friday night though, we were so tired.  5 hours in the car, followed by a heavy pasta dinner with Nikki’s parents (we had to see them if we were in town!), and we all came back to the house sleepy and full.  So, I tried to rally, but ended up calling it at 10 PM, and heading to bed.  The obvious part of this story is that meant Saturday we were all well rested and ready for fun.  We loaded up in a car and headed out to buy tiny bottles of liquor for an adult Easter egg hunt, hit the grocery store for beer and snacks and started our day.  At the grocery store I bought some milk thistle, a b complex vitamin, and a hydration/vitamin power, figured it would have to do.  We stuck mostly to beer, despite a successful bottle hunt, but added a dark and stormy and a dirty martini to the mix.   I also made sure to take the vitamins before we started and add in lots of extra water.  Plus, my son brought his switch which has Just Dance on it, so we danced our drunk asses off for HOURS.  So much fun was had by all, and we stumbled off to bed around 2 AM.  Y’all, Milk Thistle and B complex, I know I have told you this before, but it works!  Especially if you add extra water to the mix.  The best part of this particular remedy is that it’s cheap.  You simply buy bottles of vitamins and take one capsule of each every time you drink.  Hell, you can take them every day if you want, they are vitamins, it won’t hurt you! I woke up around 11 the next morning, feeling fine.  Nikki, who can have 2 drinks and end up hungover, was fine, Randall and Brian were also fine.  If you are ever stuck out of town with none of your go to remedies, just hit up a grocery store, target or pharmacy and get some b complex and milk thistle, you will thank me!  If you are allergic to ragweed, be careful with the thistle, it can cause a reaction. We wrapped up the weekend with an Easter Egg hunt at the park and a 5 hour drive, happy, tired, and not at all hung over!  It was a springtime miracle! I hope you are all having happy, healthy, non hung over spring times as well.  If you are, let me know what remedies are working for you, and what your favorite drinks are.  See you soon, my favorite drunkies!

A couple weekends ago the weather was spring time rain multiplied by 10, because it’s Texas and our weather is bigger than your weather.  Not wanting to skip on fun and friends we organized a board game day at Skull Mechanix.  If you have not gone there yet, you are really missing out. They brew a huge variety of delicious beers, have a giant welcoming space, host great bands at night, and are run by some talented guys.  Seriously, go check them out.  There we were, board games, lyft drop off, delicious beer, great friends, ready to laze the day away.  I decided it would be a great opportunity to really give Over EZ the test it deserved.  Myself, I think Brian, and our friend we call Golf Guy all took one with our first beer, and proceeded to stay for several more drinks while we played Joking Hazard, Organ Attack and of course, Trivial Pursuit.  Around 7 we tore ourselves away from the brewery and headed back to our house to play Jeopardy on the Switch and have a couple more beers.  We stuck to beer all day, which is good, but drank enough to really give the remedy a test drive.  Eventually, around 11 PM, I had a glass of water and went off to bed.  Around midnight our smaller dog decided the thunder was too scary to live, and he started crying.  I went down a couple times, my husband went down a couple times, finally at 6, my husband gave up and went and slept with him downstairs so we could all get at least a little rest.  All of that should have spelled hangover, but it didn’t, at least he and I were totally fine the next day.  Golf Guy slept over, but left around 6 as well, thanks Horatio Canine, so I didn’t know if the capsule had worked for him.  That is, I didn’t know until days later when I received this text; “Either that hangover vitamin or the water, or both, kept the hangover away last weekend.  Wish I had one last night.”  I am 3 for 3 with it, and everyone else seems to agree!  If you want to purchase a sample pack to try for yourself, here is a link.  I am going to pick up a larger order of it, the packaging makes it excellent for party favors!  And if you ever happen to be in the Austin area, go check out Skull Mechanix.  You can tell them I said hi, they will know who I am.  (That makes sense if you read yesterday’s entry.) In the meantime, one of my friends sent me a possible remedy that sounds disgusting but doesn’t cost anything, that I plan to try in May, so keep checking back and sending me ideas for remedies or places to check out in Austin or St Pete.  Thanks, my favorite drunkies!

I live in Austin, but we also have a home in St Pete that we visit as often as we are able.  Early April was one of those fortunate times where schedules aligned, flights were cheap, and there was a lot of work to do on the house, so we headed down there.  I love the house, my husband is less excited about it. But he mostly humors me, and helps out when things need fixing.  The best part of St Pete for him is not the house, it is the town.  There are a lot of good reasons for that, and it seems like every time we go the list gets longer.  We live in a neighborhood called Historic Uptown, with better neighbors than anyone deserves.  The neighborhood also recently got a really cute coffee shop that serves beer, and had some kind of a neighborhood craft/farmer’s market/ clothing sale in the park across from the new shop this weekend.  When we bought the house in August it was with the hope that all the “planned improvements” would materialize, and I am so glad they are.  My dream in life is to live in a walkable city, and St Pete is getting as close as you can get.   In addition to the things in very close proximity, there is also the Dali Museum, which is currently hosting a Magritte/Dali team up.  The museum is a little expensive to justify my level of museuming, which is basically, walk through, look at 2/3 of it, find a couple I love, hunt Pokemon, and leave.  We spent $50 for that.  And have done it more than once! What can I say? Magritte is my jam, and Dali is dope, but I have a social media level attention span.  It’s seriously worth it just for the cloud room.  If it had been a Tuesday, I would have just sat in there for an hour.  But it was a crowded Sunday, so we came, we saw, we went to the bar.  The bars are another big draw for us.  I mean, I obviously drink! WHAT? I know, it’s a shocker, but contain yourself, because if you like to drink and hate to live in a city with crowds of douche bags, (sorry Austin), St Pete is absolutely the place for you.  Within walking distance from my house, which I gauge as under 1.5 miles, there are 5 breweries and at least 1 dozen bars.  If you spread the parameter by about 1 more mile, there are 3 times that.  And the best part is, they are never crowded. The weekend we were in town, our next door neighbor warned me that it was a busy time, which it was, relatively.  But there were still zero waits for tables, zero issues with parking, and zero traffic, as long as you stayed off bridge roads.  It’s definitely my happy place, I can’t wait until we are able to spend lots more (almost all of) our time there.

While we were in town, we hit St Pete Brewing company, Cage Brewery, Pinellas Ale Works, MacDintons, and of course The Hollander Hotel. We also ventured out of downtown for an afternoon and headed to St Pete Beach to check out a bar/restaurant/boat house owned by a friend of a friend, that was highly recommended to us.  Downtown St Pete is urban, you see hipsters, yoga people, homeless people, office working folks, a smattering of tourists, typical city fare.  But 15 minutes in the car over to St Pete Beach and the entire scene changes.  It becomes typical beach dwellers, retired folks and vacationers.  You will catch fun conversations from locals, and find traditional beach food like crabs, fish and fries.  The beer selection is not what you will find downtown, but it’s a decent offering for a beach bar, and the views from the rooftop are excellent.  If you happen to be in the area, go check out Crab Daddy’s at Blind Pass.  Tell them I sent you, they won’t know who I am yet, but they will learn, if enough of you say hi!

Brian and I were responsible humans during our quick weekend getaway, and as such no remedies were needed, though I did take an over EZ just in case.  We are hoping for another quick trip mid May, perhaps the results will vary, so stay tuned!

Saturday kind of got away from me, but I had a feeling it might, so I was prepared. Not prepared like, ok, today has a lot of activities, only have one drink at each of them. Not adult prepared. But prepared like, I just received a new hangover remedy in the mail, so figured I would take the day as an opportunity to test the limits! Here it is, with mimosa #2 at Jack and Ginger’s in the Domain. You take it while drinking, which is the best type, because if it’s after, you are too drunk to remember. I like a just before you start, or early on in the process remedy. If I’m being honest, and why would I lie to you? I was skeptical when I read the first batch of ingredients. It was the usual suspects of b vitamins and magnesium, but at 100% of the daily dosage, instead of some other ones I have tried that have 1000%. Where it separates itself from the pack is in the proprietary blend. It has the old faithful milk thistle, but it also has chicory root, grape seed, beet root, and some other great stuff you don’t usually come across. That gave me some hope that Sunday might turn out ok. Anyway, my day continued on, 3 mimosas and a beer, with a glass of water at the first place. A stop for ramen, a beer, and a glass of water, then an art show at Friends and Allies where I had 3 more beers, and bought a new photograph! I have not hung it up yet. But it is by Melissa Fontenette-Mitchell, her stuff can be seen Here. After that we called it a night, at the respectable hour of 8:30! I think I fell asleep around 10, then one weird thing happened. I woke up from 3:30-4:45. I wasn’t really hungover, I think my body was just super confused by going to bed so early. While I was awake anyway, I drank 1.5 pints of water, and eventually drifted back to sleep until around 10. When I woke up that time, I was completely fine. No trace of a hangover. People who have been following me from the beginning know that sometimes 4 drinks over a whole evening will put me out for 24 hours. So, this is promising! If you want to try it for yourself, I found it for you on amazon, right here! I have 5 more packs, and am planning a more scientific approach soon, where a few of us will all try it and drink different things, and report back the findings. But for now, I cautiously call this a success! Thanks for coming on this adventure with me, I hope it helps! It was fun getting back to the heart of the hot sauce! Cheers, my faithful drunkies! Until the next adventure, don’t drink and drive, and come follow me on Instagram, @hot_sauce_and_aspirin! Remember to use the #Hellodrunkies for your party pics, to get some love from me and mine.

To sum up parts 1&2, ICYMI, my husband and I spent the weekend doing unofficial SX things, to see how much fun could be had without purchasing a badge or spending a lot of time RSVPing to parties and waiting in lines. Friday was a success read about it here: Unofficially SXSW, Entirely Austin: Part 2, and that leads us to Saturday.

When you think of classically Austin places, Antone’s Record Shop is usually somewhere on that list. Which is why, when we learned they were hosting their annual all day music showcase we jumped on it. If you happen to be in town next year, mark you calendar for Freddie Steady’s 20th Annual, Frontier A go-go. We went for the music, we didn’t even know there would be free beer provided by St Arnold Brewing, that was just a great coincidence. The record shop is pretty small, so getting everyone in was a bit of a challenge, but we all made friends with our neighbors and had a great time! Plus, we got to be up close and personal with Austin greats, Raul’s Royal Foot! The show started at 1:00, and minus a little lunch break we hung around until 4:45, when we had to hit the next party, an exclusive event at 512 Brewing Company, that we were just sort of right place right time for, and scored an invite. So, more free beer, not a terrible way to spend a Saturday. After that we headed way up north for a birthday party, then called it a wrap and headed back home to sleep again before Sunday Funday was afoot.

Now, I know I have mentioned this on my hangover heavy entries, but I’m 40, so at this point in the weekend, I was exhausted. We entered day 4 of shenanigans by hitting one of my favorite coffee joints, that happens to be next to Still Austin, (call back to Friday,) Spokesman Coffee. They roast their own beans, have a a super cool Austin vibe, and great art. They also have Gatorade on tap, so hangovers can find help there! Since Sunday was St Patrick’s Day, Spokesman teamed up with St Arnold Brewing, and if you ordered one of their beers you got a coozie and St Patrick Swayze prayer card/sticker. Obviously I was there for that! So I downed a cappuccino then ordered a beer. Swag in tow, we headed to the next stop, Nosh and Bevvy, way up on Burnet by 183. They were celebrating the holiday with a representative from Stella Artois giving away free beer, and an Irish punk band entertaining the masses. The band was called Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead. They were so fun that after their set, we followed them over to Kick Butt coffee to see their 6 PM set too! By this point I was exhausted, not at all sober, and ready to wrap up our 4 day adventure with some pasta and a good night sleep! We put some miles on our uber drivers, our feet, and on the car this weekend. But we also had a rare moment of zen, where everything that normally drives me crazy about this city was charming and exciting again. Even the tower of confiscated scooters made me laugh and shake my head at the nonsense of it all. Seriously, thank you for visiting our city, for bringing us your money, your talented performers, and the beautiful weather. We will see you back here next year, and not a moment sooner!

For the rest of you loyal drunkies, I just received notice that a hangover prevention remedy that is new on the market has shipped to me. Once I receive it, I’ll be making a plan to test it out and will be reporting back soon! Thanks for humoring me while I explore more to life than being hungover! I appreciate all the likes this month, the shares, and the comments. Please keep that going! Also, my dog, Horatio Canine, has his own Instagram now, so you can follow him too. It’s @Horatio_Canine.


Quick recap in case you missed Unofficially SXSX, Entirely Austin: Part 1. Last weekend was the closing weekend of South By South West, and my husband and I made our annual donations to the gods of music and indulgence, as a way to maintain street cred and continue living here. (Its a real thing, Austin is mysterious and you must pay homage, so it’s easier just not to move here.) This year we decided to learn what fun could be had with no RSVPs and no badges.

Now that you are caught up, it is Friday evening and we venture into the madness. First we checked out an event at Still, where Balanced Breakfast was hosting several bands and local artists. The owners at Still Austin are incredibly welcoming, one of them gave me a little demonstration of their mini still and told me about the giant scale one as well. They specialize in whiskey and gin, and even though neither of those is my favorite, the drinks were delicious and I will visit them again! After Still we decided to head home and dump the car so we could Uber downtown. (Responsibility is cool!) I also drank a bottle of Morning Recovery, in case the night got away from me! Since we had no clear plans, and were totally embracing the winging it angle, we had the Uber drop us off on South Congress. We figured pizza was a good start, so we went to the window at Homeslice, scarfed down some amazing pizza, and headed down Congress toward the city. Our first stop was at SXSJ, it’s an outdoor venue between Jo’s Coffee and Hotel San Jose. It’s always free, no badge required, and produces some awesome shows. We happened to wander in just in time for Broken Social Scene, and they were so fun that we stayed for their entire set. #SXSJ also had shopping, art, and beer, so we had a drink while we danced, then headed back into the night! While walking toward downtown, I realized I had to pee, so voted that our next stop be indoors. We walked over the gorgeous South Congress Bridge, and the Four Season’s beckoned to us promising clean bathrooms, great service and a full bar. Once I was situated at the bar, I took stock of my surroundings a little bit, and realized that David Komie of the Dharma Kings was at the other end of the bar with his band. Never a dull moment during SXSW! We ended up having 2 drinks there, then heading back into the crowd. The Four Season’s is a quick walk to Rainey Street, which is a street full of old houses that have been remade into bars. It’s pretty much the worst place in the world if you are over 30, but during SXSW, it’s the place to go. On Rainey a lot of the events were badge or rsvp only, but there was still a lot to do for those of us who were less prepared. We ended up going to Craft Pride, where Beth Lee and the Breakups were starting a set. They were the perfect continuation of our mellow night. Of course, it wouldn’t be Rainey Street if we didn’t witness a bouncer take down a patron, followed by a dramatic arrest. Once all of that subsided, it was around 12:30, and we felt like we accomplished Friday, and were ready for the rest of the weekend.

I also feel like this post is long enough again, so there will be a part 3 tomorrow covering Saturday and Sunday!

If you follow me on Facebook, you know I promised an entry today. The stipulation was that I would blog as long as I was not too hungover. I am not, and so here we all are!

Living in Austin is not without its hardships. Our property taxes are those of a city with much better amenities and infrastructure. Our traffic is terrible. Our houses are bizarrely expensive. Our people are entitled. But, for all of that, we have ACL, SXSW, The Congress Street Bridge, Dazed and Confused, and live music everywhere, all the time. We also still have the fastest growing population in the country, even though we have repeatedly asked you all to please stop moving here! For that, I place the blame squarely on South By Southwest. The weather ends up being annoyingly gorgeous, everyone is out in their quirky artistic glory, clothing is fabulous, celebrities are out on display. Austin appears as a glittering beacon of hope for all artistic types to earn salvation, or at least a living wage. What they don’t know is that for the rest of the year, our wages are low, rents are high, and everyone has a college degree and 7 jobs. But I digress! The point of this was not to paint a realistic portrait of life in this gorgeous city, it was just to tell you what I was up to last week. It just escalated so quickly.

Anyway, SX happens for 10 days during March, and it brings with it parties, free drinks, and a full social calendar. My husband and I never take time off for it, but we always dedicate at least 1 full weekend to finding some new bands and wandering around people watching. We also always sneak in an hour to hit the bar at the Four Season’s. It’s an excellent place to see the most random people while catching some mellow cover band. This year, we decided to go crazy and hit the town Thursday-Sunday. Normally I check my emails and rsvp to a few parties, but this year we decided just to wing it. No badge, no RSVP, no wristband, just 2 people wandering around to see what an average person could find without preparing or spending a ton of money. While there were a lot of events we were platinum badge only, there was still a ton of unofficial or low key things to do. On Thursday we decided to completely bypass all SXSW madness and hit a brewery. We went to Independence Brewing, andenjoyed a couple of their tasty offerings. Thursday also appeared to be trivia night, which drew a decent little crowd. We were too late to play, we walked in on round 3. But the quizmaster did a great job and had an diverse soundtrack for between rounds. If you are a trivia person, I would head to their Website and check that out! Let me know if you need an extra member for your trivia team, I’m always down for fun when I’m in town. That was it for Thursday, Brian had work early on Friday, and we still had a whole weekend waiting for us! But this post is already so long, and you all have lives to live. So come back tomorrow for the exciting conclusion where we actually hit up the SXSW events!

Like the Lord of the Rings and the Hunger Games, this saga will come in a trilogy, but the movie version will be in 4 parts, so I can make more money and spend more time at Disneyland to “film” during food and wine. Am I a genius? No, but I play one in part four of my LA Story trilogy.

I am a Disney World girl. Being born and raised in Massachusetts, it’s basically expected you will vacation in 3 places, “down the cape”, “on the Vineyard” (Nantucket more so these days), or “down to Florida”. Growing up we definitely spent more time going down to Florida than the other two, and some of that time was spent at Disney World. The first time I flew on a plane, I think I was around 5, and that plane headed to Disney World. After that, we revisited the holy land a few more times. But kid Julie had nothing on adult Julie. Now I take annual (or more) pilgrimages to stay at the house of mouse. Out of all the reasons to travel down to the parks, Food and Wine at Epcot is my favorite. In fact, there are photos both on previous blog posts and on my Instagram (hot_sauce_and_aspirin) where I am testing out hangover remedies at Food and Wine. With all of this well documented Disney Food and Wine love, imagine my excitement when I realized that the dates we planned to be in LA were also during their food and wine festival. Imagine my further delight when the random hotel we got as part of the Ellen package, (remember, LA Stories: Part 1,) was only 15 miles from Disneyland. So, I did when any Disney loving human would do, and purchased plane tickets that left LA at 8 PM (which became 9:30 PM, thanks weather.) and bought an extra pass for California Adventure, giving myself 2 full days to experience everything Food and Wine had to offer.

Upon arriving to California Adventures, I noticed immediately that it was not Epcot, so the funnel of people got pretty dense. They don’t have a whole world showcase to seamlessly merge with, so they use the walkway by the vineyard, on the way to Pixar pier for the bulk of it. The crush of humans was the only downside. The food was much better than the Florida counterparts. Almost every kiosk had a vegetarian option, and they were great! A lot of the ones in Epcot are desserts, so unless you just want cake and wine, it’s not always the best. I had fried corn nuggets, beer cheese soup, sliders, ceviche, sushi, other things I can’t remember right now, and it was all vegetarian! Plus, the drinks at the kiosks are full sized. That one is a little good, a little bad. You pay about what it costs for just samples at Epcot, but you are stuck with entire drinks, so you really can’t try them all. I mean, maybe you can, but I got way too drunk trying! How cute is that bottle? The beer was not bad either, but see what I mean about full sizes.

The selection was great, portions were great, but what about the prices? Honestly, for Disney, they were great too. For $54 you get the “sip and savor pass” which gets you 8 food items or non alcoholic drinks. A lot of the food items cost $9-11, so you save quite a bit of money that way. My sister and I each bought one, and we only ended up using 12 of the vouchers, so I gifted the last 4 to a lucky bystander. My recommendation would be to buy them 1 at a time for your group, repurchasing as needed. I also recommend that you skip using the vouchers for non alcoholic drinks, as most of them are between $5-6, it’s better bang for your buck to use the voucher for food and pay for the drinks out of pocket. Or better yet, just buy alcoholic drinks and use water fountains to hydrate. #ThriftyDrunkie.

Of course while you are at the park for food and wine festival, there are still all the awesome rides, which kind of makes Disneyland better than Epcot too. No offense to the Frozen ride or Spaceship earth, but Guardians of the Galaxy Breakout is far superior! Last recommendation, get the Max Pass. You can make unlimited fast passes from your phone, so you can ride Guardians 6 times. Or the Cars ride twice and Guardians 4 times, I don’t want to tell you how to vacation, you do you! Either way, if you plan on hitting up Disneyland sometime in the next couple of years, try to plan it during food and wine. Then you too can eat all of this!

And if you end up drinking every offering and you feel like garbage the next day, try less drowsy Dramamine, so you can still ride all the rides and not want to vomit or sleep! #HappyDisneyDrunkies

So ends LA Stories, the trilogy. And unlike the Divergent series, the protagonist lives happily ever after.