travel notes

Archive for the ‘Austin’ Category

Cutting Off and Growing Up; A Local Salon

In Austin, Faith, Fashion, Moving, Traditions on September 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Dear Luscious Locks belonging to the likes of Kourtney Kardashion, oh how I love thee.

But I am a short-hair gal. And that’s just the way it is.

I’ve tried long tresses and below-the-shoulder glory, but I look better and like myself best in short and chic. After accepting this self-fact comes peace. Followed quickly by an onset of panic.

I have only ONE head of hairs and x amount of dollars, leaving no room for tomfoolery on my noggin. Thus, finding a new hairdresser poses one of the more traumatic scenarios of moving thus far.

A good hair-dresser is as essential to the female as finding a trusted OBGYN; it’s right up there with the need for a best friend, romance, a favorite Saturday brunch spot, and those jeans that make you feel sexy no matter what.

A good haircut can make you feel beautiful and more mature; an image that reflects how you feel on the inside can serve as a catalyst for living as the woman you want to be on the outside.


It can make you feel 12 years old again; there you are in a psychedelic t-shirt having awkward encounters with members of the opposite sex.

I’ve had several salon recommendations from women in the area, but due to uncertainty coupled with procrastination, I put off making an appointment until the split-ends were practically yelling at me for care and attention.

I will not tell you where I went or who cut my hair (Austin is too small of a town and word gets around!). But I will tell you, it was not what I wanted. The cut felt too thin around my face, the layers didn’t fall how I pictured them, and altogether, I felt just mediocre, instead of vogue-worthy fabulous.  I missed my hairdresser back home. I missed the salon, the repoire, and knowing I would come out looking the way I felt inside.

I have an idea of where I’m “headed” for my next “do.” But in the meantime, here is what I learned:

  1. Letting a stranger take scissors to my head, no matter how highly recommended, is scary.
  2. Letting go and cutting off hair is an incredible exercise in letting go of control in other aspects of life.
  3. Rituals, like a new haircut, symbolize more than just a new look. It’s a mile-marker. A stopping point. Like hair, I am constantly growing.
  4.  Relationships and history are built and earned over time. There are no shortcuts.
  5. Trimming is required for growth.

I look forward to the day when my hairdresser knows my sister’s names and where I go to church.

But right now, I rejoice in my current season of life. Sure, things feel a bit sparse. I’m still looking for the right barstools for the kitchen, and artwork for my apartment walls. It’s like looking out over a vineyard after it’s been pruned. It feels fragile and un-sturdy. But underneath the surface, invisible to the eye, growth is happening. Roots are burgeoning. What an incredible opportunity to spread my arms to the world, and say

“What next?”


“With what colors shall I paint?”


“Who shall I meet today?”

Grow. Let go. Cut. Grow some more.

And know what? My hair-cut is pretty darn sassy. Yes, yet it is.







Clarksville neighborhood: putting down roots

In Austin, Clarksville, downtown, Moving, Town Lake on September 20, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Alas, the honeymoon stage is over. No longer is Austin perfectly perfect; incapable of anything wrong in my eyes. Sometimes it is too hot, sometimes the traffic is exasperating in its random unpredictability, and sometimes the people are as weird as they try to be. That said, I am still in love. The “newlywed” newness may have faded, but I’m still as committed as ever. Moving requires transitioning from visitor to resident, from tourist to local, from sightseeing to becoming a landmark. It’s time to put down roots and peel back another layer of learning this city.

I’ve moved into the little neighborhood of Clarksville, within walking distance of Whole Foods and Town Lake, as well as several amazing local cafe’s and shops. So I’ve got a couple of ideas for making myself at home. 

1. Decorate my apartment in “Leah” style with a splash of Austin flavor. For inspiration, I walk to Wildflower Organics and Wendow Fine Living. I am in love with mixing textures of burlap and cream linen, and adding pops of color to neutrals like cool grays and warm ambers. 2. Tackle a DIY project. A run to Home Depot for a lovely grey/white “Cape Cod” wood stain and I’m ready to give my my kitchen table (an old wooden thing from my grandmother’s basement) a new paint job.

3. Cook a yummy dish in my own kitchen. My menu: Coho wild salmon, hand-rolled sweet corn cakes topped with pepper-jack soy cheese, sauteed spinach and kale, all garnished with pico de gallo and homemade salsa. A great reward for a good day’s work!

South Congress Cafe

In Austin, Food, SoCo, Travel, Visiting Austin on August 20, 2011 at 2:41 pm

South Congress Café

lull (ll)v. lulled, lull·ing, lullsn.1. A relatively calm interval, as in a storm.

2. An interval of lessened activity.

Admittedly, there has been a lull in my postings. But not in my adventuring. I will leave no stone unturned in my

discovery of Austin. Plunging back in:

A hot Wednesday left me in need of an air-conditioned restaurant and a glass of wine. I met a friend at the South

Congress Café (corner of Monroe and SoCo). Like everything on SoCo, the atmosphere reminded me of the Jetsons.

Quirky, off-beat, vintage colliding with futuristic, whimsical. And like the 60s TV hit, the pace and fashion of SoCo is fresh, like seeing everything in color for the first time.

We sat at the bar, which was great for two reasons. One. Current promotion: receiving 20% off food purchases. Two.

Getting to meet and interact with the bar tenders and the people coming and going.

[Side note: We met a woman eating the Caesar shrimp salad with polenta croutons which looked to die for, reading Eat, Pray, Love and got into a long discussion about the wonders of the book and the digression of the movie(Julia Roberts, I adore you, but the

film missed the entire point of the book!)].

We ordered the Spicy Sesame Tuna Tartare, (which was created in three mini triangles, instead of

the traditional solitaire tower), The Endive and Spinach Salad (topped with generous dollops of blue cheese, dried cherries, and pomegranate dressing), and

the Calamari with orange ginger red chile sauce (really fresh tasting, really good).

The wine list was long, the bartenders suave and knowledgeable, and the pour tasty! First glass: Rosenblum Petite Syrah from California. Astonishing. Blackberries. Second glass: martin ulisee montepulciano d’abruzzo. From Italy. Crimson. Leather. Smooth.

Overall, a good spot for happy hour, brunch, and dinner.


Comfort food: Chick-Fil-A

In Austin, Food, Moving, Texas, Traditions, Visiting Austin on July 7, 2011 at 2:20 am

When I came down with a cold in Washington state, friends brought me chicken noodle soup.

When I came down with what I thought was the flu here in Austin, Texas, a friend I met at Austin Stone brought me chicken, too. Chick-Fil-A.

Now I do not usually eat fast food. By usually I mean never. But I eat Chick-Fil-A. Yes. Yes I do. It is real  chicken and the sauce is so good you just have to say mmmmm and smack your lips together.

In addition, the company is incredibly cool. The founder felt convicted in having a Sabbath (a day of rest and worship) to be with his family and honor God, he forfeited the profits and made a statement by closing shop on Sundays. His collegeus in the food industry told him he was crazy. But Chick-Fil-A continues to be closed on Sunday, and it continues to be profitable enough throughout the week and on Saturday, to make the issue irrelevant.

So if you’re like me and don’t usually indulge in drive-through grease-on-a-bun, you should make an exception and go to Chick-Fil-A.

You can eat it with a clean conscience, happy tummy, and reflect on where you need to make a statement, because you know in your gut it’s what you need to do.

I believe more and more that we reap what we sow. I wonder what good profits will come back to you?

Side note: turns out I didn’t have the flu. I had allergies! Apparently Austin is one of the worst cities for it. So if you’re planning a visit or a move, make sure you pick up some claritin. It will change your life, promise. 

Weekend adventuring

In Austin, downtown, Faith, Food, Music, Outdoors, Texas, Town Lake, Traditions, Travel, Venues on June 27, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Looking to spend a weekend away in Austin, or just get out and explore the city? Hopefully my weekend highlights will help you plan your next adventure.

Friday evening: 

Get your groove on at a live show by The Matchmaker Band: a mo-town cover band, funky, great for dancing! 

Saturday morning: 

Stroll the Farmer’s Market on 5th and Guadalupe (9 am – 1 pm).  I bought an odd-shaped heirloom tomato, and drank a mango hibiscus iced tea. I sampled locally made Kombucha Ginger drink – I love love love Kombucha! – and this small batch was just as good as any of the bigger companies I’ve tasted. Also nibbled on yummy goat cheese from Swede Farm Artisanal Goat Dairy. 

Visit some of the downtown shops such as Finch (appropriately featured on Apartment Therapy’s blog).

 Saturday afternoon: 

Stroll around Town Lake

Grab a bite at Whole Foods Market 


Saturday evening: 

See a movie at The Alamo Draft House– one of the coolest things in Austin. You order drink and food by candlelight, and enjoy a scrumptious meal while watching a movie. This is a must-do!

Sunday morning: 

Visit Austin Stone Community Church

 Have brunch at Halcyon on 4th and Lavaca St.  A hip little spot for coffee by day or wine by night. I recommend the spinach, egg, and mushroom crepe – delicious and light! And one of the better cups of coffee I’ve had in a while.

Sunday afternoon: 

Breathe, smile, be thankful 

40 days of discovering Austin

In Austin, downtown, Food, Outdoors, Town Lake on June 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm

I woke up today and realized I have 40 days left of house-sitting. The place I am staying is in North Austin, which is quite a few miles from the downtown “scene.” So, to turn challenge into opportunity, I will be posting a daily discovery of Austin to encourage myself to get out and explore.

discovery no. 1: Royal Blue Grocery. The one on 6th and Congress. I really can’t describe how happy this quaint mercantile made my soul. I was lost in the isles of prettily packaged organics and homemade Jeni’s ice cream, boasting flavors such as Ugandan Vanilla Bean and Brown Sugar Almond Brittle.

“how much?” I asked the guy with the long hair, tattered corduroy shorts, flip-flops, who was, yes, dipping pita chips into hummus while working.

“$11.95.” almost apologetically. My eyes must have grown large. “but it’s worth it.” He assured me. Hmmm, who knew ice cream would be an item on my to-save-for list? In the meantime, I will just dream about the raspberry champagne sorbet. Sigh…

Requirements to work here: must wear harry potter glasses, have at least one subtle tattoo, and own a pair of robin-blue vintage earrings.

(bonus) discovery: Kayaking on Town Lake. I went to The Rowing Dock off Barton Springs and for $10 could paddle around in the sunshine, enjoying the greenery of West Texas on one side, and the sight of downtown on the other. Truly fantastic.