Austin on the water…on Wordfree Wednesday

A walk along the boardwalk, at sunset.Boardwalk in Austin TexasA chance to see some beautiful autumn color…

Autumn colors in Austin Texas

And watch the sunlight illuminate the buildings.

austin skyline at sundownWe couldn’t help watching these beautiful spiders spinning webs along the railings…

Spider on railing

Or trying to figure out why there were belts on the handrail along the board walk…

belt on handrail in AustinBut in the end, we kept coming back to the view…

Austin skyline with paddleboarder

If you haven’t checked out the new boardwalk, please do! It’s stroller/dog/kid friendly, and the perspective on the city is beautiful.

An abundance of Bluebonnets on Wordfree Wednesday

It’s that time of year. Every field, highway divider and roadside is covered with Texas’ favorite flower, the Bluebonnet.

I’ve headed out myself this year, camera in hand, and I found some great blooms. So here, with no need for more words, are the Bluebonnets of 2014

Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets Bluebonnets

Holi Color Flies at UT

People at Holi Festival in Austin   I wanted to get this post published before the Holi Festival — so much for plans!  But the good news is that now I get to share our great pictures and get everyone excited for next year’s event.

This annual free and open to the public event is sponsored by the UT Hindu Students’ Association on the LBJ lawn on campus. About 6,000 people showed up to celebrate by throwing handfuls of brightly colored power (called “rang”) on their friends and total strangers!

bags of rang Bags of rang powder

According to the student group,

“Holi is the Hindu festival celebrating the arrival and color of the spring season. Widely recognized as the festival of color, this event involves throwing colored powder and water on friends and family along with playing various games and simply having fun.”

And that it was. We were advised to come in white t-shirts, and be prepared to get “colorful.” And colorful it was!  woman with holi powder on face

By the time we and about 5,990 other people finished tossing, dumping, and smearing color on each other, white was the least common color anyone could see.

The live music, beautiful sunshine and big smiles on everyone’s face made it a perfect afternoon. It’s a great event for college students, families, singles…yeah, everyone!  I would recommend leaving pups at home, though. All the flying powder could irritate their eyes and the crowds could get stressful.

Since the Festival is an annual spring event, I’ll make sure to let  y’all know when the next one is scheduled.

The Specs

Sponsored by the University of Texas Hindu Student Association
http://texashsa.wix.com/longhornhsa

Holi 2015 Event is not yet scheduled, but will be in early March.

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San Antonio Mission San José (Wordfree Wednesday)

There is some really OLD stuff here in Central Texas! You knew?  OK, new to me!  And I loved it!

Everything in Austin seems to have been built kind of last Thursday. Or at least in a year starting with a 19- or 20- .  S’alright. So is everything in South Florida. But I was delighted to discover that there are buildings in our neighboring city of San Antonio that date back to the 1700’s!

We only got to visit one of the missions (and, yes, some of these building have later additions from 1800’s), but it was still amazing. The rest on another day. but for now, here’s Mission San José.

Open door in old SA Mission Chapel at Mission San Jose Church door San Antonio Walkway Mission San Jose Church Mission San Jose Arches Mission San Jose Walkway of arches Mission San Jose Arches and sky Mission San Jose Missing roof open sky Mission San Jose Old walls Mission San Jose Arches and sky Mission San Jose Sunlight on walls Mission San Jose

Eat chili, hang out at Jo’s, help people: what’s not to love?

jo's Coffee House Chili Cook Off PosterJo’s is one of the coolest spots on South Congress. Yummy meat, dessert and vegetarian menu choices, all kinds of coffees and teas, and a chance to people watch from a shady spot. It’s also close to the Pets Alive trailer, so I can get some puppy visits in (but that’s a story for another post!)

And now there’s another reason to love Jo’s.  I just found out that Sunday January 26 it’s going to be the site for the 8th Annual Chili Cook-Off, sponsored by Shiner. The cook-off benefits  the Sustainable Food Center, a wonderful local Austin charity working hard to make it possible for more people to have access to nutritious, affordable food through education, access to gardens and more.

So all in all, that means South Congress, Jo’s Coffee Shop, chili, music (live music will be provided by Jeff Hughes & Chapparal, the Jo’s House Band and DJ Ben Nuhn), beer for those who love it (and I know a LOT of Austin folks do!) and a chance to do something really good for people who are struggling to put healthy food on their family dinner table.

The festivities (including chili tasting!) start at noon and run until 3. And there are even prizes!  Yes, some of those chili chefs will walk away with great prizes, so not only do you get to eat, you get to vote and help your fave cooks win some good stuff!

It’s $20 to join in the event, and that includes samples of all 14 chili entries, plus all the great music and atmosphere you want to enjoy. Beer and other drinks will be for sale, so you can safely go ahead and take a bite or two of that habanero-spiked chili, then put out the fire.

Jo’s is located at 1300 South Congress in Austin.

Austin Food and Wine Festival frenzy begins early

Austin Food & Wine FestivalIt’s no secret that the annual Austin Food and Wine Festival has quickly become one of the highlights of the culinary year here in the Capital city. But I had no idea the fight for tickets to the coveted event started so early!

This year’s Festival will be April 25th-27th at Butler Park and Republic Square Park in Austin. The strictly 21 and over event attracts foodies and chefs from around the globe, who come together to sample amazing creations, show off their masterpieces and gather inspiration for feasts they’ll just have to make in the coming year.

Tickets for this year’s fest go on sale January 21st…that’s next week! That’s also when you can find out who’s going to be featured, and get a first peek at the schedule.

It’s gonna be a yummy weekend in Austin! See y’all there!

(This Taste of Austin Tuesday is making me hungry! Come on, April!) 

Vegetarian Chili Rules on Taste of Austin Tuesday

Lone Star Vegetarian Chili CookoffIt’s this Sunday, it’s in Austin and it promises to once again take Texas chili traditions to a higher, vegan level.

What is it? It’s the 25th Annual Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-off.  Yup, here in the land of ribs and brisket, you’ll find the longest running vegetarian chili cook-off in the U.S.

The annual celebration of all things vegan and spicy includes chili tasting, music, kids activities and more. Whole Foods is hosting beer sales on site, so you even can grab a cold one to wash down your favorite chili (or put out the fire on a particularly hot one!)

Teams of chili chefs come from all over Texas to compete for the title of best vegetarian chili in one of two categories. Chili masters can also take home a People’s Choice Award for the crowd’s favourite bowl of spicy goodness.

The cook-off started in 1989 as the brainchild of Shirley Wilkes-Johnson, with help from the  founders of the San Antonio Vegetarian Society, the South Texas Vegetarian Society (in Brazoria County, 60 miles south of Houston), the Austin Vegetarian Society, and the Vegetarian Society of Houston. For years, the event traveled around Texas, with cook-offs attracting vegetarians and open-minded omnivores from all over the Lone Star State. Finally, the annual cookoff settled in Austin, where it has grown and flourished, attracting up to a 1,000 hungry chili-lovers for the one-day event.

A quarter of a century after its founding, the cook-off is still going strong. And this year’s event promises to be one of the best. The new location in the green space adjacent to the Whole Foods on West William Cannon in South Austin offers easy access, free parking and lots of space for the cook-off, vendors, the kids’ area and the live music stage.  Admission to the event is $10 for adults or teens, $7 for children age 6-12, seniors, veterans and college students (with current college ID), and includes lots of delicious chili.

They’re also offering Family Packs for $25, good for a family of up to four (one of which must be a child age 12 or under).

If you’d like to help this all-volunteer event to be an even bigger success, you can volunteer and earn free admission and other goodies. The volunteer deadline is Friday, Nov. 8th, so be sure to sign up to lend your support to this Texas tradition.

(And yes, I do know this “Taste of Austin Tuesday” didn’t show up until Wednesday. Just blame it on The Doctor….time can be slippery sometimes!)