I had the pleasure of going to brunch with one of my best friends, Phuong at Macondo Bistro in Houston last November. She's not always this emo-looking, I promise, I just liked this photo. After a weekend of bridesmaid dress shopping for her double wedding extravaganza (more on this later) we were pretty tired and we chose something close to her house.

By double wedding, I don't mean she's getting married simultaneously with another couple, and I certainly don't mean it's like that Mowry sisters Lifetime movie. She's having not one wedding, but two - to the same dude, too. She was a wedding planner for a while and is now a florist with her own little studio called Mi Bella Rosa. Two weddings means twice the awesome flowers, right?

It was one of those breakfasts where the company was more memorable than the food, so I'm struggling to recall the particulars of the meal itself.

I had an omelette with black beans and hashbrowns with a chai latte, while Phuong had the sausage, scrambled eggs, and plantains. I remember it being decent, but it was really more about hanging out with a good friend than anything else.

Oh yeah, Macondo is next to this joint. Remember Spaghetti Warehouse? Is anyone else amused by the fact that they own

I Quit

I did it.

I quit my job as an Online Merchandising Analyst at Living Direct. After three years featuring countless hours of hard work and plenty of shenanigans I've left a familiar windowless cube for a new windowless office.

During my tenure, I was able learn more than I could ever imagine about compact (and sometimes not-so-compact) appliances. In that time I learned not only what to do, but more importantly I learned what not to do.

It is still somewhat strange to know I will no longer be asked to test Kegerator manuals nor will I facilitate and (take second place) in T-shirt contests that involve Jason Roussos. I also won't be hosting ice cream bridal showers for overzealous Bengals fans.

photo by Annie Ray

I miss my Living Direct work friends but am lucky to have met so many smart and talented people who I will keep in my heart.

Leaving so many wonderful people has been difficult, but I have much to look forward to in my new position that is decidedly in the right direction.

Exactly one month ago I started my new job as a Marketing Coordinator at the University of Texas at Austin and am surrounded by some of my loves - mainly food and Texas Longhorns. I'm still somewhat surprised that I got what I wanted and will be paid for doing social media (among other things). You can follow me at work @utexasdining.

In my new adventure, I will be challenged with managing people and marketing very large amounts of food. I will also have more "free" time to work on my own projects as kathyphantastic.

I leave you with some pictures from my parting celebration. The Living Directors created a cake pop of memories and dressed trendy for me. Am I really that trendy? I was aiming for stylish. I guess that's okay.

Farewell happy hour at Vivo which spilled over into Red House Pizzeria.

In true kathyphantastic style, I "cuted up" the Roussos shirt for my Roussos lunch/farewell festivities.

Living Direct, thanks for the memories. I hope you enjoyed the cake pops and the lunch recommendations.

And yes, I did leave this banner on my dual monitors with the help of a friend.

I Quit banner, kathyphantastic on Etsy, $19

Cupcakes and Gas Station Girl Date at Giovanni's Pizza

Last fall Sharon Love This and I had much-needed dessert catch-up dinner at Giovanni's Pizza Stand (inside the Valero gas station).

We had our priorities straight and ate dessert first. We left our respective workplaces and drove straight to Sugar Mama's Bakeshop where I was thankfully able to tweet at @SugarMamas to save me the last Great Pumpkin (pumpkin chocolate chip cupcake). When we got there, cupcakerie owner Olivia managed to find us another great pumpkin. Bonus greatness. It may not have been willing to share such deliciousness.

After our quest for the right gas station and ordering our pizzas, I introduced Sharon to Maine Root. She liked it. Not feeling overly adventurous, we stuck to root beer, though I did spy a pie flavor. Now I know where to get my late night Maine Root fix.

We stayed for 2 hours sitting on their barstools. The owners were giving us weird looks towards the end and a random creepy guy tried to scold us for not watching the UT baseball game. Hey, we were paying customers - just taking our time enjoying our root beers and pizza. As for the creepy guy, they're everywhere. Ick.

I miss that lady. I hope to see her next time she's in Austin.

Living Direct 2010 Christmas Party Photobooth by Annie Ray

Remember how I mentioned December was crazy? One of the reasons was the Living Direct Christmas party I had been planning for months (initially with my friend and former coworker John) was a blast.

As a company with mostly north Austin based employees, we chose Maggiano's Little Italy at the Domain as our location. Our (waitstaff) captain Andrew was great and super attentive. Maggiano's offered gluten-free and vegetarian options for the protein averse like myself.

I heard little complaint about food, location, or parking and almost everyone seemed to be in good spirits. That's all I could ask for...that and Santa Claus making an appearance. The latter didn't happen.

We were even able to have Annie Ray's photobooth document the debauchery. Here are my favorites:

See the use of the diamonds from the Diamond Sweater Phenomenon. I hope this continues to be a Living Direct tradition.

Alex gets mad at me every time someone refers to the diamonds. This happens often. I think he's finally learning to accept it. I'd say he's at stage 4 in the Kubler-Ross model of stages of grief.

Oh yeah, Florent requested Alex wear the diamond sweater to the party as his goodbye gift. Nathalie's date just happened to be wearing the exact same outfit. Win!

I do regret not getting a marketing department picture together.

You can see the rest of the pictures on Annie Ray's website. Which are your faves?

New on Etsy: Custom Dog Portrait Mug

shipley dog mug with cocoa

Here's my first attempt at a custom puppy mug. I tested the dog portrait idea on my friend Christine's dog Shipley. Christine is getting this mug as her Christmas present. She already knows and subscribes to my blog, so no surprises there.

Here's the original photo:


Here's my mug version:

shipley dog mug with astroturf

Just for fun, we added astroturf for texture.

shipley dog mug

Thanks to my fabulous friend and photographer Aimee Wenske for taking these pictures for my kathyphantastic Etsy store.

Custom Personalized Dog Portrait Mug, kathyphantastic on Etsy, $42

shipley dog mug with cocoa and woof marshmallows

Woof is right. More doggie mugs to come.

FYI I drank all that hot chocolate and probably ate all those marshmallows today.

Today I Love: Letitia Buchan Hand Drawn Invitations

My best friend Phuong brought these lovely hand drawn invitations by illustrator Letitia Buchan to my attention the other weekend. Don't you think they're beautiful?

I do.

PS Phuong has recently started a blog about her floral designs and event planning. Check her out at Mi Bella Rosa. She wrote the sweetest post about me. I feel so loved.

PPS You might remember Phuong from her birthday post

Fancy Food at Foreign & Domestic

Photos by Aimee Wenske

Last week, Amy B, an old friend of mine from college, triumphantly returned to Texas. To celebrate her all-too-brief return to Austin we had dinner at Foreign & Domestic.

We had 7 desserts, with only one being a repeat. I ordered the carrot cake sundae, tasted both the chocolate parfait and the chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream, and with sugar-glazed eyes, I stared at the bacon root beer float. Sugar coma aside, my favorite dessert, compliments of the chef, was pomegrante ice cream with apple and fig streudel. It seriously tasted like I was eating magic. I felt a happy tingle on my tongue. Shouldn't magic feel like a happy tingle? I want a secret stash of Foreign and Domestic's pomegrante ice cream for stressful workdays.

Oh yeah, we had entrees, too. Interestingly, we had fewer entrees than desserts. We also had fewer people than desserts.

It was Austin Restaurant Week, so there was no reason not to order off the three course prix fixe restaurant week menu. Half of our table ordered from the ARW menu but we also snagged some gruyere popover appetizers - the redhead has decided that we need to go back and just have popovers for dinner.

Kafe Leopold Brunch with Special Guest Fran

After posting an iPhone picture of the Lincoln Memorial on Facebook, my friend Fran excitedly replied that he, too, would be in DC for a wedding that weekend. Yay!

We decided to meet up for brunch in morning. After a little bit of Yelping and looking over a list of things to eat from my friend Carole, we decided on Kafe Leopold in Georgetown.



photo by Tina Phan

Boy were we glad we chose Leopold's. There I had the most amazing almond croissant I've had in my life. It wasn't flaky like La Boite (my now second favorite almond croissant). Instead it was dense, moist, and somewhat sticky. Lil Phan got 2 more for the road.

almond croissant

photo by Tina Phan


With so many choices, lil Phan had a hard time deciding. I think she's using her phone to look up some of the menu choices. She seems terrified of making the wrong decision.

She ended up going with this:


photo by Tina Phan

I had lemon souffle pancakes.


photo by Tina Phan

At some point, I got greedy and started stealing other people's food. I mean tasting other people's food.


photo by Tina Phan

Look at the bakery case. Drool.

IMG_0491 IMG_0494

Yay Fran and Yay brunch.


photo by Tina Phan

I'm not sure why the redhead's smile is so forced.


photo by Tina Phan