LUSH choices for last minute holiday gift shopping: Find it in Austin Friday

Lush in Austin TexasFrom its humble origins in England (where products were being made upstairs and sold downstairs) to its arrival in Canada in 1990’s to its first shops in the U.S. in 2003, LUSH has been bringing people pure, safe bath and body products with minimal packaging.

LUSH Austin TexasI had heard great things about them…especially about their “Bath Bombs” (I LOVE baths!) but I had no idea there was a LUSH right here in Austin. But joy of joys, there is! Tucked in between Waterloo Records and a Snap Kitchen, near Book People, we found Austin’s very own LUSH shop.

Lush shop Austin TexasIf you’re looking for Hanukkah gifts or Christmas stocking stuffers, there are so many choices here. If you want something luxurious for a special birthday or anniversary, I promise they will have it. Or (and this is my favorite), if you just need something to pamper yourself after a long day, I KNOW they have that. (Did I mention the Bath Bombs? Yeah. Those!)

Lush store in Austin TexasOh, and the people who work there are the best. They will help you find everything you’re looking for, and even show you a few things you really need but just didn’t know it. Listen to them. They know. (And don’t forget those Bath Bombs!)

The Specs

1012 W 6th Street
Austin, Texas78703
(512) 524-4459

https://www.facebook.com/LUSHAustin

Monday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Tuesday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Wednesday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Thursday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Friday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Saturday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sunday 12:00 – 7:00 pm

Step inside a fresh look at art at The Contemporary Austin

The Contemproary AustinOne of the common complaints I hear about Austin is the lack of a serious art museum. (And to be honest, I’ve said it myself.) Nearby Houston has an entire museum and arts district — something many of us would love to see here in town.

But I’m discovering that Austin does have some wonderful small museums and galleries, including my newest find: The Contemporary Austin.

We made an unplanned visit last week to the Jones Center location (honestly, we were just out for a walk and saw the sign) and were very pleasantly surprised. The spacious galleries featured an installation by Do Ho Suh and his vision of the art in everyday objects and spaces.

DO HO SUH toilet

His work strips away the shells and reveals the essence of space and function. The installation includes a full-size house created from translucent fabric and a bare-bones structure.

2-2014-12-06 19.41.41

According to the docent, his intent was to illustrate what we carry from house to house as we move through life — our ghost memories of walls and sinks, doorways and cabinets.

3-2014-12-06 19.44.10An installation of this size and complexity is usually reserved for larger museums in big cities. (Do Ho Suh’s work has recently been displayed in New York City, Hong Kong and Singapore.) So its presence in Austin says something significant about the art community here.

The Contemporary Austin actually consists of two locations. The Jones Center, located downtown at 700 Congress Avenue and Laguna Gloria with its indoor and outdoor space, located at 3809 W 35th Street in Austin. Both locations are committed to bringing innovative and cutting edge art work and installations to the Austin art community.

Admission to either location is only $5 for adults and $3 for children and seniors. Members get in free, and Tuesdays are free to all visitors (although donations are gratefully accepted). The museum offers art classes, programs for teens and children and special events throughout the year.

The Specs

The Jones Center
700 Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701
512-453-5312

Mon- Closed
Tues – Sat 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Sun 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Laguna Gloria
3809 West 35th Street
Austin, Texas 78703
512-458-8191

Gallery
Mon: Closed
Tues. – Sun 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Grounds
Mon. – Sat. 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sun. 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

http://www.thecontemporaryaustin.org/

Exotic gifts & bellydancing from Arabic Bazaar on Wordfree Wednesday

01-2014-12-07 15.17.49

Last weekend, I visited the Arabic Bazaar in Austin for the first time. And I knew it had to be featured here on A is 4 Austin. I planned to put it on Find it in Austin Fridays. It is a great place to shop for unique imported gifts (everything here is handpicked by the owner, Zein, on her trips to Egypt, Syria, Morocco and Lebanon. No “Made in China” imitations here!) And it’s a place to find authentic belly dance classes for all levels. So it would fit.

But when I looked at my photos, I changed my mind. The photos tell the story of this beautiful place better than words possibly could. So here, without too many more words, is Arabic Bazaar.

Bellydance Costumes

Handblown glass perfume bottles

handwoven rugs

 

Amazing jewelry

 

Hookah pipes04-2014-12-07 14.19.40pillowRight now is a great time to visit Arabic Bazaar, too. Sunday December 14th and Sunday December 21st, they’re having a big sale (yes, I DID shop! Of course!), bellydance demonstrations, discounts on bellydancing classes and free henna from noon until 3 pm.

Arabic Bazaar sale Dec 2014The Specs

5013 Duval St
Austin, Texas 78751
(entrance in back of building in alley)
(512) 533-9227
Monday 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Tuesday 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Wednesday 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Thursday 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Friday 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Saturday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Sunday Closed (Except for special holiday events in December) 

The coffees, sweets and treats of Italy at Lavazza Expression

Coffee cup and Texas State Capitol

What drew us in was the bright red decor. Well, that and the smell of chocolate and pastries and herbs. What they filled that little cup with made us stay.

The first sip of real European chocolate had me swooning!  No powdered cocoa mix in that cup…it was the real thing! And then there were the case of gelato. And Italian pastries.

Lavazza pastries

And there were sandwiches, too.

`

Each sounded amazing…but they looked and smelled even better (we’ll be heading back to sample the sandwiches sometime soon!  I’ll update this section when we do.)

Inside, the space was a perfect mix of European modern and coffee house comfortable.

Expression Lavazza

Oh, and did I mention the coffee? Now, I’m not a coffee drinker, but I had someone along who was.

2-2014-12-06 19.01.49

And she prounouced it the best coffee she had ever had!

But that should come as no surprise to anyone who knows the history of Lavazza. Since the 1895’s. Lavazza has been making fine Italian coffee from their headquarters in Turin, Italy.  And they’re still considered the leaders in Italian coffee for home, businesses, and now, their coffee shop/cafe in Austin.

This is a perfect place to stop in for a weekday lunch or drop by on a day of sight-seeing or shopping downtown. It’s just down the street from the Capitol, and near the museums.

5-2014-12-06 18.52.00

 The Specs

914 Congress
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 505-8784

Mon–Fri 7:00 AM–6:00 PM
Sat–Sun 9:00 AM–6:00 PM

https://plus.google.com/105946016824851638008/about?hl=en

Lavazza Espression on Urbanspoon

Tiny homes, big hopes on Make a Difference Monday

I’ve worked with the homeless in one way or another for about fifteen years, in three states. And one of the things I have learned from so many of them is how easy it is to go from employed and “normal” to homeless almost overnight. And how very, very difficult it is to recover from the fall.

Those of us who have never lacked a place to call home can’t imagine the hurdles. It’s everything from having no place to bathe or store clothing to having no address to put down on a job application. It’s no proof of residence to get a driver’s license…or even a library card. It’s a thousand things those of us who have thankfully never been homeless cannot imagine.

That’s why projects like Mobile Loaves and Fishes Community First! Village are so critical to breaking the cycle of homelessness and letting people take the next step back into a normal life. This 27-acre planned community in Austin includes:

  • An innovative mix of affordable housing options
  • Places for study, and fellowship
  • Memorial garden and columbarium
  • A community garden featuring fruit and nut bearing trees and vegetables
  • A chicken operation, bee hives producing fresh honey and an aquaponics fish operation
  • A workshop with tool bank and art gallery for micro-enterprise opportunities
  • A medical facility for physical and mental health screenings and support services including hospice and respite care
  • Walking trails
  • An outdoor theater
  • Walking distance to public transportation
  • WiFi

The focus on Community First Village is to lift the disabled and chronically homeless permanently out of that life of uncertainty, illness and danger and offer them a chance. So far, 99 people have been reached by the Village, but there are still so many people here in Austin who need that helping hand. The goal of this project is to help 225 people permanently leave the world of homelessness and move on with dignity.

Several organizations around Austin are working with Mobile Loaves and Fishes to build more micro-housing and provide needed services for the residents. Some are raising money to build a micro-home…and then planning to work on the actual construction. Others are raising funds or offering their time for the support services the Village needs like help with gardens, health care or providing finishing touches like linens and kitchen needs. Everyone can help in some way.

Everyone deserves a chance to have a space to call their own, whether it’s a grand house or a tiny microhome. After all, to paraphrase Horton (my favorite Dr. Seuss character!), “A home is a home, no matter how small.”  Please help Austin’s homeless find a place to call home.

Mobile Loaves & Fishes is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization helping Austin residents in need regardless of their religious affiliation. 

The Specs

903 South Capital of Texas Highway
Austin, Texas 78746
(512) 328-7299

http://mlf.org/pave-the-way-home/

Kiddie Acres offers a just-right amusement park for little ones

Carousel horse I  had driven past it at least a dozen times, always promising myself that I would stop “next time.” It looked so cute, like the little local amusement parks I remembered from when I was little. This week, on a cool autumn day I stopped driving past and finally pulled into the parking lot of Kiddie Acres.

kiddie airplane ride at Kiddie AcresAnd after a wonderful conversation with owner Joseph (Joe) Herring, I was glad I finally pulled in. Kiddie Acres was exactly what I thought it would be: a simple, old-fashioned amusement park that’s just the right size for toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary school kids.

Joe told me he had owned Kiddie Acres since 1979. It started out on Burrnett Road, but when Mopac construction came through in 1986, he moved the park to its current location.

kiddie train at Kiddie AcresJoe, who grew up in a family of seven kids, wanted to provide a place for kids to play outdoors and imagine they’re piloting a plane, sailing a boat or working as the engineer on a train. This little park is his way of keeping imagination alive in a world filled with television and video games.

The littlest guests come first at Kiddie Acres, too. When a couple of moms came in with their kids during our conversation, Joe excused himself to greet them with a smile and find out what the kids wanted to try first. It was clear this park is something he genuinely loves.

kiddie car ride at Kiddie AcresAfter the kids were busy on their first choice, he showed me each ride in the tiny park. When he got to the car ride, his sense of humor came through. “I call it the Mopac trainer,” he said. “You go round and round and never get anywhere!”

Boat ride at Kiddie Acres

Kiddie Acres isn’t fancy. There are a few paint chips here and there. But it’s spotlessly clean and clearly lovingly maintained. It’s inexpensive, too. A ride ticket is only $2.00, and you only need one for most rides (the train and the pony ride are more.) Compare that to the hundreds a day a major park will cost — not to mention the preschooler melt downs and that long drive home.

The covered picnic areas out back and the mini-golf course make it a good place for a birthday party, field trip or playgroup meeting. It’s small enough for moms (or dads) to stay close to one another while the kids enjoy the rides.

The Specs

4800 W Howard Lane
Austin, TX 78728-6304

(512) 255-4131

http://www.kiddieacres.com/

November – March
Tuesday – Friday – 12pm-6pm
Saturday – 12pm-7pm
Sunday – 12pm-6pm

 April – October
Tuesday – Friday – 10am-6pm
Saturday – 10am-7pm
Sunday – 12pm-6pm

Closed Mondays

(Read more about Kiddie Acres in this article from The Jewish Outlook)

Two ways to fill hungry bellies, save lives this season

I usually reserve Mondays for posts about organizations and events helping the people and pets of Austin. But this time I’m making an exception because the causes are too good and the need is too great to wait even a few more days.

stuff the bus logo 2014

Stuff the Bus 

Capital Metro and Whole Foods are working to bring 30,000 much needed meals to hungry families in the Austin area, and they need your help to cram those buses full of tasty, healthy food.

Here’s the deal, in their own words because I couldn’t say it better if I tried:

This holiday season, Capital Metro, Whole Foods Market and the Capital Area Food Bank work in unison to help feed hungry Central Texans by hosting the 3rd Annual “Stuff the Bus” food drive Dec. 12-14!  Help us fill 2 entire Capital Metro buses with food to provide 30,000 meals for families in need. Donate non-perishable food items at any Central Texas Whole Foods Market store Dec. 12-14!

Three ways to participate: 

  • Bring your donations from home: Drop-off at any in-store collection bin OR take donations straight to the two buses parked at the Downtown and Domain stores!
  • Visit Whole Foods Market Dec. 12-14 and fill a brown bag with non-perishable items OR purchase pre-packed brown bags at the Downtown store.
  • Add a donation dollar amount to your final in-store purchase total at the register.

Bus Collection Sites: Open Dec. 12-14 | 10 am – 6 pm 

  • Whole Foods Market Downtown: 525 N Lamar Blvd.
  • Whole Foods Market Domain: 11920 Domain Drive

All proceed benefit the Capital Area Food Bank. 

Of course, all food needs to be in its orginal, sealed packaging. And only non-perishable foods can be accepted. It’s so simple to add a few cans and boxes of food to your next shopping trip or two, or buy one of the prepackaged food bags at Whole Foods and they’ll take care of getting it on tables that might otherwise be empty.
________________

And lest pet-friendly Austin neglects its beloved furry citizens, there is another awesome campaign running to keep dog and cat bowls filled.

Pound for Pound Food Drive

The Pound for Pound Food Drive

Tomlinson pet food has launched their annual double-the-donations food drive to benefit homeless pets and rescue groups throughout Austin. Here’s how it works, in their own words:

“Our annual food drive for local animal rescues is on. From Black Friday to Christmas Eve, all food donations made will be DOUBLED–pound for pound.
Here’s how you can help:

  1. Drop by any Tomlinson’s location.  (There are nine locations around Austin.)
  2. Upon checkout, donate a small, medium, or large bag of pet food.
  3. Check a box for the rescue to which you would like your donation to go.

After Dec. 24, we will collect your donations–doubled by our generous vendors–and distribute them to your choice of the following rescues:

Austin Boxer Rescue
Austin Dog Rescue
Austin Siamese Rescue
Animal Trustees 4Paws
Bastrop Animal Shelter
Blue Dog Rescue
Canyon Lake Animal Shelter
Central Texas SPCA
Diamond Dachshund Rescue
Greyhound Rescue Central TX
Love-A-Bull
Pawsitive Karma
Pug Rescue of Austin
San Antonio Dusty Paws
TX Great Pyrenees
TX Humane Heroes
Texas Sweeties
Thundering Paws
Wags, Hope, & Healing
Wee Rescue

Their goal? To provide 100,000 of pet food. That’s enough to feed 400 homeless dogs for all of 2015!

So now you see why I couldn’t wait until Monday to share this information!  We all need to help get the word out, too. Won’t you please share this post or the information in it with everyone you know in Austin? Hungry people and pets are counting on you to keep their tummies full.

Pass it on, please!