SXSW 2014 in Pictures

Szkojani Charlatans

The SXSW experience is a lot of things.

It’s the sounds of music coming out of ten bars, and still being entranced by a busker playing on a street corner. It’s the smell of pizza and tacos and bar-b-que and something sweet right out of the oven as you walk past a row of food trucks. It’s free t-shirts and more can holders than anyone could every need (but you can’t help taking just one more.)

But most of that is impossible to capture on the page of a blog. So I’ll have to settle for sharing pictures.

I’m starting this post today, but I’ll be adding more pictures throughout the week. If you’re here, I hope you’re having a great time. But if you’re not, here’s a glimpse into the insanity that is SXSW.

(Oh, and one more thing…a new mascot is joining A is for Austin. Or rather a few mascots. When I was a kid, I loved trolls. So when a few showed up during a recent trip, I decided to make them a part of my blog for now. So look for Wanda (a pink haired troll) and a few other friends in some of my pictures, at least for awhile.  I hope you like the new addition!)

A line of guitar cases

monster drink truckunique guitar playing styleMable the dog chilling in AustinFree food A SXSW traditionBecause I believe in unicorns too20140309_182636Peruvian Creole Food TruckBuilindg the Vans venueNo badges neededRobot at the Game Expo SXSW 2014

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Wild Child Rocks it on Wordfree Wednesday

Wild Chld video set at The Boneyard in Austin

I think I heard Wild Child for the first time at a show in one of Austin’s clubs. I had no idea who they were when the show started…by the end, I had become a fan!

Since then, I have made it to several other shows, and they were all amazing.

But nothing was as incredible as being invited to participate in the filming of their new videos!  So off we headed to a place called The Boneyard (more about that place in another post!), and the fun began. Unfortunately, we left the good camera behind!  So please forgive us for these camera phone-quality shots. We promise to do better next time!

Wild Child video prep

Classic stage crew poseRehersalwarm up2014-02-01 17.11.042014-02-01 17.11.0020140201_17582320140201_18240420140201_182416-0012014-02-01 18.13.34We were so happy to be a part of Wild Child’s new video event!  Next time, though, we’ll remember the camera!

You can learn more about Wild Child and their upcoming performances on their Facebook page and website. Hope to see y’all at a show!

It’s a Mobile Food Throwdown on Taste of Austin Tuesday!

Austin Mobile Food Throwdown

You’ve watched them on the Food Channel. You’ve seen it on the Cooking Channel. Now it’s time for the gloves to come off here in Austin.

That’s right. We’re pitting food truck against food truck. Acknowledged food truck masters The Peached Tortilla and Chi’Lantro BBQ will go head to head in a no-holds-barred competition right here in Austin on February 22, 2014 at Draught House Pub & Brewery to determine the king of Asian fusion street food in Austin.

The event starts at 2 pm, and runs until 5. You’ll be able to watch the cookoff, and rock out to the sounds of Jambulance ERuptionAdvance tickets are available online, and include tasting and other goodies to make the event super-special. You can also check out the event Facebook page for more info.

Of course, you’ll have to be 21 plus to indulge in the beer offerings, and yes, they will be checking IDs.

This awesome foodie knockdown is a production of FoodTrailersAustin.com, a food trailer owners and food trailer fans group started back in 2010 to “provide a hub for Austin’s burgeoning mobile food scene.” The group is promising even more events for foodie fans in the coming year, so keep an eye out and I’ll share them as they’re announced.

See you at the Throwdown!

Austin Diner rocks it for breakfast

Austin DinerIt’s cute. It’s kitschy. And it’s another diner here in Austin!

Those we’re my thoughts when we walked in the Austin Diner over the weekend. I immediately fell in love with the collections of vintage mixers and other kitchen ware from the 50’s and 60’s.

classic mixers

Then the waitress came over, and welcomed us to this adorable place. She was friendly — and once we told her it was our first visit, she her smile got even bigger. We felt like guests, instead of just customers!

The menu was just as inviting. Lots of delicious choices for our breakfast — and even after we had made our choices, we kept looking at the options for a later lunch or dinner visit, if the food was good.

Austin Diner insideIt wasn’t long until that “if the food was good” turned into “Oh yeah, the food is good!” I ordered Migas — my favorite food in Austin. And I wasn’t disappointed! The mixture was delicious, and it was topped with just enough queso.

Others in our group opted for pancakes, eggs, sausages and other breakfast classics. And by the time we left, every plate on the table was empty.  In fact, we were already talking about coming back again for the next weekend brunch. The diner has lots of vegetarian choices, in addition to classic diner food like chicken and dumplings. It’s a great choice for families, too. There’s a very limited, partial menu online, but the complete menu has a lot more choices.

I’m still in search of that real 24-hour diner somewhere in the Austin area (gotta know I can fill my eggs, potato and toast craving at 2 a.m.!), but the daytime diners I’m finding, like Austin Diner, are doing a good job of filling the void at breakfast time.

Sundays in my City: Castle Hill Graffiti Park

Castle Park graffiti park 1I reserved Sundays on this blog for whatever strikes my fancy. This morning, my inspiration came from Traci from A Star in my Own Universewhen her Sunday in my City post landed in my inbox.  The post was part of meme from Unknown Mamiwhere she invites people to share posts that show something unique in their city. I loved the idea!

So here I am…sharing something that makes Austin unique, that was fun to look at, that made me smile. Castle Hill Graffiti.

Castle Park Graffiti creature

In lots of cities, graffiti is an underground art. Buildings are tagged, arrests are made, but as an art form, it’s undervalued. Not so in Austin. We have an entire park dedicated to graffiti artists.

Castle Park Graffiti 2This is not an elite park, reserved for the few. There are no forms to fill out, or approvals to seek. Artists from around the city simply bring their paints and their vision — and art happens.

artist at work at Castle Hill Graffiti Park AustinAnd the result is amazing! Colors, shapes, messages, interwoven in a collage that took my breath away…or made me smile.

DSC03558Even the park’s trash cans, light posts and drainage lines had been turned into works of art.

Castile Hill Park Drainage lineIt’s tempting to try my own skills with a spray paint can, and add to the colors of Austin. On the other hand, I am so impressed with the work of these mostly-young creators of color and design that I think I just might leave it to them, and remain an appreciative audience.

Zilker Botanical Gardens invite you to build a Faerie House and Garden

Zilker Botanical Gardens Faerie House WorkshopCalling all lovers of imagination and whimsy! Zilker Botanical Gardens is inviting you to design and build your very own Faerie House and Garden, in Zilker Park!

That’s what I discovered when I was playing around online, looking for cool images to pin to my Secret Garden Pinterest board. So of course, we had to head over on Sunday to check this out.  Could it be?  Could we really indulge our creativity and my love of all things Faerie and magical and build an actual space in the garden for everyone to see?  (Okay, so I’m an overgrown kid…everyone who knows me already knows that!)

Yes!  It’s true!  It turns out that I had stumbled on the very First Annual Faerie Home and Garden competition in Austin. We went to the free workshop on Sunday, and learned some Faerie lore (for instance, did you know that every time a flower blooms, a Faerie is born? News to me!)  We also got a chance to talk to the people in charge of the whole series of Faerie-focused events at Zilker Botanical Garden now through May.  (The poster for the events is below, or you can download the Fairy poster PDF to print yourself.)

Anyone can enter the competition to build their very own fairy house and garden (and yes, our family is already registered!).  The fee is $25 for families and $45 for designers and architects. In return, you get a 4′ by 4′ space to construct your own vision of a fairy dwelling.

The rules are simple. You’ll be assigned a space in the garden. You have to construct the dwelling using natural materials gathered from the designated area of the garden, or from your own home or favorite natural spots. You can build a home, add furniture (made of twigs and other natural materials faeries are likely to find, or you can create an entire faerie wonderland with multiple buildings. The choice is up to you and your family!

The masterpieces go on display in March (with setup the weekend of March 9th) , and will be in the garden until May. The deadline for registering is February 9th.  Download the forms from the Zilker site, then mail or fax in your registration and fee.

I was so excited, I’ve already gone to Michael’s to buy a little fairy figure to use as the scale for our creation! And it’s not just me. My daughter started her sketches for the furnishings, and my husband has been brainstorming design ideas to keep our creation true to fairy-lore.  This is going to be fun!

Zilker Park Faerie Homes and Gardens Poster

UPCOMING: Austin Kosher Chili Cookoff comes back for 8th year

pot of chiliYes, Texas is known for its chili…but with the pork that’s so often a part local cook-off recipes, people who choose to skip out on that particular beast for religious or health reasons have been kind of left out of the fun.  The pork meant Jews, Muslims and others couldn’t sample cook-off chili offerings.

Not so at the annual JCC Kosher Chili Cookoff! February 10th of this year  will be the 8th  year for the pork-free zone in Texas chili, held at Austin’s JCC campus.

Contestants can choose to enter the meat or the vegetarian division. And to keep everything truly Kosher, the meat division entry fee includes certified Kosher meat, as well as access to all needed cooking utensils.

According to Amy Kritzer, The Austin Jewish Outlook’s food writer,  the event was started by the grandfather of this year’s event chair Jerrod Kogut.   This year’s cook-off also includes arts and crafts, kids activities, and great food, and promises to be a full day of fun for families. 

The competition and the event are open to the public. Entry fees for a meat-chili team of 4 are $250, with meat provided.  Vegetarian teams have an entry fee of $125 (and yes, I will be there sampling those veggie chilis!)

Not ready to cook? Admission the event for everyone else is $12 for adults, $10 for students and free for kids under 4 (or over 65, for the young at heart!)

Sign your team up at the event website, or contact Jerrod for more information at KosherChiliAustin@gmail.com . Registration closes February 1st.