Tag Archives: Austin

Random Thoughts Thursday

It’s early Thursday morning and I desperately need coffee. So while I’m making a cup, feel free to browse a few random things that came up this week.

1. Bake Sale for Beka (aka Cookies for Crohn’s)
My friend Megan from Country Cleaver is hosting this amazing on-line bake sale benefitting the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America for the second year running. I’m participating again by baking four dozen of these Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies dipped in dark Guittard chocolate. Holy yum!

Cherry & Almond Shortbreads - Inside NanaBread's Head

Made with flour & almond meal, dried Michigan cherries, toasted almonds & real butter these shortbread cookies stand on their own without any chocolate. But what fun is that? Seriously, when things can be dipped in dark chocolate, they absolutely should be. If these beauties have captivated you, you can bid on them! If you win, I’ll ship 4 dozen directly to your home, dipped in whichever type of chocolate you prefer – white, milk or dark. Winner’s choice.

To bid or browse the other selections generously donated by a plethora of fabulous food bloggers go to Megan’s website THIS SATURDAY, JUNE 22, 2013. That’s right, folks… this is a one day on-line auction benefiting the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and celebrating Beka’s first half-marathon for the cure. For the record, on a scale of 1 to 10, Beka is a 15 kind of amazing. So mark your calendar and drop in on the Bake Sale for Beka to watch the bidding shenanigans. And if you end up with the winning bid on my cookies, I might just throw in a jar of homemade jelly. It’s been known to happen.

2. The Complete Package went to the Republic of Texas motorcycle rally in Austin and all we got were photos & disco light sabers.
Okay, that’s true but not entirely true. TCP (my beloved) DID attend the ROT Rally in Austin where his girlfriend (if I may brag a bit) took first place in the Metric Customs category. Yes, I refer to his motorcycle as his girlfriend. Here’s a snap in case you’re curious about her. Meh; she’s okay I guess. :)

TCP's Honda Fury

Each year, on Friday evening, participants in the motorcycle rally ride from the Austin fairgrounds into downtown in a bike parade that stretches more than 10 miles. MILES, people. And each year, My Baby and I take the grandkids downtown to watch the parade so they can see their Papi ride in. They get the biggest kick out of seeing him in the parade. It’s his rock star moment.

After he gets downtown and parks, we all walk Congress looking at the motorcycles and snapping photos. Here are a few from last Friday night. This first one is of Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug with ‘The Cat Lady’. She’s really popular.

ROT Rally 2013 - Jonah & Lilly with Cat Lady

ROT Rally 2013 - Strolling on Congress

ROT Rally 2013 - State Capitol

3. I took the kids back to Springdale Farm.
Remember last week when I mentioned I had the privilege of visiting Springdale Farm for the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance dinner as part of the BlogHer Food conference? It was a wonderful, magical night under the stars and trees.

Springdale Farm - US Farmers & Ranchers Dinner

I enjoyed it so much I vowed to bring My Baby and the kids for a visit, and last Saturday we did just that. Despite the heat, the kids had a great time and enjoyed walking the farm, spotting fresh vegetables, and picking out some to take home. In case I haven’t been clear in past posts, I L-O-V-E a good farmer’s market or farm stand and Springdale Farm is now one of my favorites. If you’re in Austin, please visit and support a local farmer. Food doesn’t get any fresher.

Lilly & The Chickens - Springdale Farm

Jonah & Lilly - walking the herb garden at Springdale Farm

Farm Stand at Springdale

Ever wondered what an artichoke looks like when it’s left to bloom? Well now you know. You’re not going to see that in a grocery store, folks!

Artichoke Blooms - Springdale Farm

We also attempted to take Jonah & Lilly on a mural hop around Austin. More on that later, but here’s a glimpse of what we did before we died of heat stroke.

Lilly & Jonah at Austin Mural

4. Nothing rocks summer like the glitter polish.
It started with pale pink glitter polish over raspberry red and it has now morphed into pale teal glitter over a dark teal base. For a girl who doesn’t usually paint her nails, I’m totally digging the disco glitter. Hello summer!

The Megan - Teal Sparkle Nails

5. Don’t forget this weekend’s Bake Sale for Beka on-line auction!
I mean it, people. Buy my cookies and I’ll make it worth your time & money. We’re talking FOUR DOZEN HANDMADE FROM SCRATCH COOKIES and homemade jam or jelly. If I could ship a puppy, I would. I’m not above bribery. Whatever it takes. Just bid. It’s for a good cause and there are cookbooks & cookies to be had. LOTS of cookies. For a preview, CLICK HERE.

BakeSale4Beka

25 Comments

Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Family Stuff, Food & Recipes, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Things I Love

“Buy Local” Spotlight: Salt Lick BBQ

If smoked meat is your idea of heaven, the Salt Lick BBQ is the place!

If you are lucky enough to live in the Austin area or the hill country around Austin and find yourself craving smokey meat, you owe it to yourself to visit the Salt Lick in Driftwood. It is the mecca of smoked meat and sweet, spicy sauce. And I love the atmosphere almost as much as the food. You can easily spend an evening sitting on the patio under the live oaks sharing cold beverages, local music, and great friends. It’s like hanging out at a neighbor’s house, if your neighbor had an enormous patio surrounded by hundred year old live oak trees right next to a world-class barbecue restaurant. A girl can dream, right? And like your friend’s house, you’ve invited to bring your own beer. Because the restaurant is located in a dry county, they allow guests to bring in their own beer. I recommend Shiner and/or a 6-pack of Dr Pepper. It’s a Texas tradition.

The altar of smokey meat at the Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood

There are many things I love about the Salt Lick. One is that they offer to serve you from a menu, or you can order “family style” and they’ll keep bringing food to your table until you beg them to stop. Another is that it’s built into an old rustic ranch-style farmhouse and the furniture and atmosphere reflect that old western charm. I love that the meat pit where all the action happens is inside the restaurant so you can drool over it, and they’re gracious enough to let you walk right up to it or around it to see the glorious piles of smokey meat and take pictures. I’m enamored with the sesame
scented coleslaw, the potatoes served in the shape of someone’s gloved hand, and the warm bread, sliced onions, and salty pickles that dot the table. I love that the worn farm tables look like something out of my great-grandmother’s barn. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING surpasses the meat at the Salt Lick. There’s not a bad batch of meat on the menu. The ribs fall off the bone, the sausage is flavorful, and the brisket is perfectly tender and wears that pink smoke-ring of perfection we Texans crave. The only thing that will keep you from stuffing yourself like a Thanksgiving turkey is the need to save room for cobbler. Your choices are peach and blackberry, both served with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream (on request). And since they’re both too awesome to choose one over the other, I recommend you get both. Just ask for extra spoons and be prepared to share. After a big meal, four people can easily share one serving of cobbler. If you’re dead set on only ordering one, I highly recommend the blackberry.

My dinner - the sausage and brisket plate. I wish this photo was scratch-n-sniff.

Before you leave, hit the small merchandise corner by the front door. They have great t-shirts and hats, but my favorite “take aways” are the sauces. They have really, really good sauce. Cross my heart. They also sell excellent dry rubs for the home chef. If you’re too far to visit but too fascinated to pass it up, they have an online store. If you’re close enough to visit, then by all means do. Pick a nice evening with cool temperatures and a great breeze. Stock an ice chest with cold beer or sodas for the kids. Throw a deck of cards or a board game in the car in case you decide to hang out in the courtyard before dinner. Skip lunch or eat light before you go, and don’t forget to wear your stretchy pants.

For more information on the Salt Lick BBQ including directions and the online store, visit their website at http://www.saltlickbbq.com/

Disclaimer: NanaBread is not tied to the Salt Lick BBQ in any way, even though she’d like to tie herself to one of those farm tables and stay until they run out of brisket and cobbler. She has never been compensated for providing feedback on the restaurant or their products. Ever. She just loves the place and can’t keep her big mouth shut. Big surprise.

22 Comments

Filed under "Buy Local" Spotlights, Food & Recipes, Things I Love

The Austin Nature & Science Center

There’s a place in Austin where nature is a hands-on experience. Where kids are not only allowed to touch stuff, they’re encouraged. And best of all, it’s free!

Inside the Austin Nature & Science Center

Where things that crawl, swim, walk and fly are celebrated and racks of antlers, bins of bones, a table of fur pelts and a bowl of snake skins are at your fingertips.

Have you ever wanted to touch a bowl of snake skins? Me, neither!

Where real snakes rule and rubber snakes drool, a wacky lizard hangs upside down near his own personal heat lamp, and a fat bobcat poses for pictures.

Now this is a lizard I could hang with.

And then there are the live birds of prey, a coyote, a few foxes and a skunk in rehab. There’s also a dinosaur pit where you can dig for replica fossils, a lake surrounded by wildflowers, and 14 foot tile mosaic lizard that climbs a wall.

They have a dinosaur pit! Can you dig it?

The Austin Nature and Science Center is located on the western edge of Zilker Park, which has a wide range of outdoor activities, as well. If you have children, you need to add this to your list of “go to” places in Austin. Pack a picnic, hit a playground, and explore the Science Center all within the boundaries of Zilker Park. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon with your kids. They’ll have so much fun, they won’t even know they’re learning.

There's so much to touch and see at the Austin Nature & Science Center.

To learn more, you can go to: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/ansc/exhibits.htm

6 Comments

Filed under Travel Tales

Things I Love, Volume 3: Austin’s SoCo

I’m in Austin, Texas this week spending time with My Baby and the world’s smartest grandkids, Jonah Bear and Lilly Bug. While they were at school and daycare, I spent some time in one of my favorite areas of Austin – SoCo.

South Congress Shopping is Funky Fun

South Congress Avenue runs due south from the state capital building cutting through the heart of downtown Austin and into one of the most unique shopping and dining areas in the city. On weekends and evenings, this place is jumpin’. Parking can be a mess (especially on Saturdays) but the variety of shops and restaurants make it worthwhile. Everything from antiques to candy and cowboy boots to cupcakes, as well as great food can be found on South Congress. If you’re into the twinkling lights in the live oak trees on a patio with a cold adult beverage scene, you’ll find lots of good choices here after dark. I go for the shopping. If you’re looking for Austin hot spots, SoCo is on fire. If you’re ever in town, you have to go. To get you started, here are just a few of the shops I love:

Big Top Candy Shop
This candy shop rocks my world. I love the circus themed decor and the absolutely huge variety of treats they offer. This place carries the candy of my childhood – orange slices, circus peanuts, chick-o-sticks, candy corn…I could go on and on. They have a section with gummi everything. They have a retro section with hard to find candies from the past. They have bins of M&Ms in every color. They have a handmade chocolates counter where you’ll find irresistible treats like sea salt caramels, homemade fudge and get this – chocolate covered bacon. You heard me. If that’s not enough to entice you, they also have an old-fashioned popcorn machine and an ice cream counter. This place is a sugar lover’s mecca and a circus lover’s shrine. Big Top Candy doesn’t have a website, but you can connect with them on Facebook or MySpace. You AND your kids will love this place. You can find them at 1706 South Congress.

Inside the Big Top Candy Shop

Farm to Market Grocery
I love this little organic market. It’s tiny, but it’s packed with organic products from all over. They carry local items and produce, as well as items I’ve never seen and that excites me. I like to discover new things and expand my view of the world. My Baby introducted me to Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-In-One organic peppermint liquid soap in this little market. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this soap. It wakes me up in the morning like no other, and the tingly peppermint senstation feels fabulous after a hot day in the Texas sun. The selection of organic vegetables and carry-out foods like hummus and samosas are just lovely. Drop in for a fair trade fiesta sometime. And don’t forget to pick up some soap. Farm to Market Grocery is located at 1718 South Congress. http://www.fm1718.com

Farm to Market Grocery - An Organic Dream

Hey, Cupcake!
I couldn’t get a good photo of this place. It’s a cupcake shop inside of a stainless steel Airstream trailer, and it catches the sun like a kaleidoscope. Every photo is pure glare. Maybe it’s not the sunshine. Maybe it’s the aura coming off the giant rotating cupcake on top of the trailer! When you try them, you’ll hear angels sing. If you love cupcakes (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t) this place needs to be on your radar. The cupcakes are big and fluffy and delicious, and for a few pennies more they’ll even pump a big shot of whipped cream right down the middle of it. Flavor choices include red velvet, carrot cake and winner of my favorite name, the Michael Jackson. It’s a chocolate cupcake with white butter cream frosting. I can state from personal experience that the carrot cake and red velvet cupcakes are extraordinary. Want to try them? I like to visit the trailer at 1600 South Congress, but there are other locations around Austin. Visit their website to find them. But find them you must! http://www.heycupcake.com.

Uncommon Objects
I saved the best for last. This is one of my favorite shops to kill an hour in. It’s fun and funky and literally filled to the rafters with antiques and collectibles.

Uncommon Objects - Floor to Ceiling Fun

That’s a winning combination in my book. If I were a hoarder, this place would be crack to me. There’s so much to see, you really need to go back again and again. I love that every nook and cranny is filled with unexpected treasures.

Nooks & Crannies Galore at Uncommon Objects

Some nooks are sorted by color. Some crannies are sorted by item type. Whatever you’re looking for, they’ve probably got it. I love that you never know what’s around the next corner. This ain’t no ordinary antique shop!

This Place is Full of Uncommon Objects

Lots of stores advertise that they carry “something for everyone” but Uncommon Objects exemplifies it. There is truly a treasure for every treasure hunter. Uncommon Objects is located at 1512 South Congress Avenue. http://www.uncommonobjects.com

And so, my friends, if you’re ever in Austin and need some “me time” and a spa isn’t your cup of tea, visit South Congress, or SoCo, as the locals call it. There are 5-6 blocks of unique shops to browse, coffee spots to soothe your caffeine addiction, and a multitude of restaurants with fabulously shaded patios and views of the state capitol. It’s a great place to stroll with friends and family and take in the funky fun Austin has to offer. Don’t forget to pick up some chocolate covered bacon. I got mine!

1 Comment

Filed under Things I Love, Travel Tales