Activities / Festivals

Best Of Austin City Limits Eats 2017

10.10.17

I was at Austin City Limits music festival last weekend, and let me tell ya: this was a good year! If you’re heading to ACL for weekend 2, I’m jealous! I wish I could do it all over again!

One of my favorite parts of the festival is ACL Eats. This isn’t your typical funnel cake and corn dogs type of festival food… The team at Austin City Limits fills Zilker Park with some of the best food vendors that Austin has to offer!

Wander around the foodie section and see what strikes your fancy; you really can’t go wrong! I’ve got the staples that I make sure to eat every year (lookin’ at you, Tiff’s Treats!), and I always taste a couple new things each year.

Wash it all down with some craft beer from the Barton Springs Beer Hall, and you’re ready to jam out another music set!

Here are just of few of my favorites from the Austin City Limits 2017:


The Via 206 from Burro Cheese Kitchen is hands down one of the most delicious things I tasted all weekend.  It’s made from cheddar, gouda, and balsamic apricot fig sauce…..sooooo, heaven in a sandwich form, basically? I adore this Austin food truck, and I’m so glad they have a booth at ACL Eats!

I love a good Mighty Cone! They’re the original ACL food vendors…the Mighty Cone was actually created for ACL! If you’re new to ACL, this should be on your to-eat list.

Mighty Cone has a double booth, and they still ran out of the chicken cone at one point during the weekend! (Don’t worry: there was till plenty of shrimp + avocado while they got more chicken cooking.)

It’s a piece of deep-fried chicken (or shrimp, but I like chicken best), wrapped in a tortilla, and served in a cone (similar to a paper sno cone), all topped with mango-jalapeno slaw and ancho sauce.

There are a few BBQ booths at Austin City Limits, but the BBQ sandwich from Micklethwait Craft Meats is by far my favorite! Their smoker fills the whole field with the smell of delicious smoked brisket, and the BBQ sandwich with a side of potato chips + pickles is perfection.

I can’t make it through a year of ACL without my Tiff’s Treats! Although it’s technically a cookie delivery company, I love the brownie + ice cream the most! It’s a pretty big brownie and could easily be split between two people…..but I kept it all to myself! Hehe..

The Kickass Nachos from chef Tim Love’s Lonesome Dove are covered with ground elk meat. (I believe these used to be vegetarian in years past? They’re better now!) Topped with cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, and jalapeños, these nachos bring the party to ACL!

The Crispy Fish Tacos from The Peached Tortilla had the best fresh fish flavor, crunchy coating, and sweet slaw on top. I split an order with my husband, and I wish I had gotten a full order just for myself!

Temperatures were brutally hot this year, with Sunday’s high in the mid 90s. UGH. The line for a shaved ice at Sno Beach was over 30 minutes long, but the wait was worth it for one of these cool, creamy, shaved ice snacks. It’s for sure the best shaved ice in Austin!

Syrup flavors are much more limited than their regular truck on Barton Springs, but a few of the best ones are there like coconut, tiger’s blood, and wedding cake.

The last thing I ate was an order of Chi’lantro’s famous Kimchi Fries, which also happen to be what Nate and I served as dinner at our wedding this year. I just love ’em so much! I chowed down on these and then jammed out to The Killers concert on Sunday evening.

Weekend. Success.

Another year of ACL has come and gone (for me….I hope you’re going to weekend 2!), and I’m a little sad about it. But at least I know that I lived it up for all three days!

What was your favorite food at ACL this year?

 

 

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Travel

24 Hours In Chicago

10.06.17

Last weekend Nate and I went on a whirlwind trip to Chicago! I went to college in the Chicago suburbs, and my swim coach just retired after 41 years of coaching.. #bless. That’s a lot of laps!

We went to the suburbs for one night, and I had 24 hours of catching up with college friends and showing Nate around my 150-year-old campus. I took exactly 0 pictures from that entire time.

Then we headed downtown for 24 hours of exploring the city! We stayed at the Aloft Chicago City Center, which I would highly recommend! I’ve always had good experiences with staying at Aloft hotels (I’ve also stayed at one in Dallas and Houston.) They’re always clean, trendy, friendly, and a good value! Read More

Food / Neighborhood / Type of Food

What’s The Big Deal With Austin’s New Steel City Pops?

10.04.17

I have this thing for ice cream…

I’m not exaggerating when I say that (almost) not a day goes by that I don’t eat it. I think it’s linked to my childhood in Dallas, when my dad would have a minimum of 5 tubs of Bluebell in our outdoor freezer at any one time. (Staples: homemade vanilla, chocolate chip cookie dough, cookie ‘n cream, and then a couple extra flavors, just for good measure. Moo-llennium Crunch was always my favorite.)

You’ve probably heard about Austin’s newest popsicle shop, Steel City Pops. I tried my first Steel City Pop for the first time about 5 years ago in Fort Worth. My sister lives there, and while I was visiting her she recommended we stop by for a popsicle. “A popsicle??” I asked. It seemed a little childish and boring.

Ha! Little did I know…these aren’t your average pops! 

So, what’s the big deal with Steel City Pops opening in Austin?

They’re deeeelicious little bites of heaven, that’s all! Haha… But really, I think they’re so popular because they folks who run Steel City Pops are kind, genuine people who make really great products! And after eating them up in Dallas and Fort Worth, I can now finally enjoy them in Austin!

Steel City Pops is a friendly, family-owned company that started in Birmingham, AL. They’re all about locally-sourced, organic, all-natural ingredients. So even though you’re enjoying a delicious dessert, you’re not filling your body with corn syrup or red dye no. 2. Praises.

These desserts are cute, instagram-able, super tasty, and provide thousands of different flavor combinations. And the flavors rotate with the seasons, so you’ll never get bored!

Walk into the new Austin store, and you’ll be faced with a MASSIVE selection of creamy and fruity pops. Picking a flavor is the hardest part! (I tried 13 flavors, and I still had trouble choosing….)

From there, you’ll get to Drip, Dredge, Drizzle, and Dust your pop with a selection of toppings. There are over 14,000 different possible flavor combinations! That’s not an exaggeration – do the math. 😉

A few (a-a-a-mazing) facts about Steel City Pops:

  • Made from fresh, all-natural ingredients, and often organic
  • They only use raw, organic cane sugar
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives 
  • Locally harvested ingredients when possible
  • Every pop is gluten-free
  • Every pop is vegetarian, and there are plenty of vegan options, too
  • EVERYTHING IS AWESOME AND TASTES AMAZING (<- most importantly)

I went back into the kitchen for a behind-the-scenes peek, and this was almost as much fun as eating a popsicle. Friends, rest assured that the team at Austin’s Steel City Pops is putting the upmost care into making the most delicious, fresh, healthy popsicles they can.

(Psst: sit at the counter by the side window, and you can see behind-the-scenes too! Steel City Pops doesn’t hide anything….you can see exactly how their pops are made at the store.

When I visited a couple weeks ago, the summer flavors were starting to roll out and the fall flavors were on their way in. This means the kitchen smelled like all the yummy autumn flavors like toasted marshmallow, maple bacon bourbon, pumpkin, and carrot cake. Hello, October!

They put this location right by UT campus, which was a smart move. College students flock to this place for a cool treat on a hot Texas day. But it’s also good for little kids, adults, friend dates, visitors, and anyone who wants to indulge in a treat without going overboard (the fruity pops are about 100 calories, and the creamy pops are about 189 calories….pretty good for a 4 oz. serving!)

 

Oh, and there’s one more thing that puts Steel City Pops on my “favorites” list: they bottle and sell their own water, Provid Water. 100% of the profits go to NeverThirst, a non-profit organization provides clean water to third world and underdeveloped nations. Know that when you’re buying a bottle of water at Steel City Pops, you’re helping to build wells in India and Uganda. So cool!


This place is absolutely going on my next round up of favorite Austin ice cream shops. (You can check out my most recent one here!) Haha, also…I’m writing this blog post at 5 am and thinking, “is it too early for a popsicle?” 😉

** Photos by Kiera Jane of France Photographers

Have a wonderful Wednesday, friends!

Kelsey

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Reading

Septmeber Reads

10.02.17

I couldn’t possibly hit “publish” on this post without first adding my thoughts and prayers to those who lost loved ones in the Las Vegas shooting last night. Such a horrific and painful thing to have happened. To those who are hurting right now: I stand with you and I’m hurting with you. Sending my love and prayers. 


I’m back in town from a quick weekend getaway to Chicago. My alma mater is in the suburbs of Chicago, so Nate and I drove out there for a night so he could see my college campus, then we spent a night downtown to explore the city for 24 hours. I’m barely pulling myself along on this Monday morning…but the weekend was worth it!

Chicago is a great city, and I’m thankful for the year I got to live downtown. I’ll share more about that trip soon.

Today, though, I’ve got my September Reads to share with you!

I read a couple easy “vacation read” books. To me, a vacation read is one that doesn’t take more than a few chapters to get into, and it’s not super challenging. I try not to read too many of these, because I want to learn and grown from my reading, but they’re just so much fun!

I also read a longer book that I’ve been wanting to read for about a year, and I finished the month with a quick and meaningful audio book. Here they are!


1. The Girl Who Chased The Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

I’m putting this in the “instantly gripping” category. It was one of those books that’s good for vacation: I started reading, and was instantly captured by the story. I read straight through!

Now, this book was actually a bit of a stretch for me to try…I typically avoid books with fantastical elements to them.  But I read a good review and decided to borrow it from my library, and I’m so glad I did!

It’s set in a small town in North Carolina, where a girl goes to live with her grandfather. She looking for answers to some of the riddles about her mother’s recent death. There are elements of magic and fantasy in this book, which I typically don’t love…but I loved this book!


2. Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

This is another book that captured me from the very beginning. The story line follows several generations of professional ballet dancers, and that world is fascinating to me! I’m not a dancer, so I’m always amazed by the hard work, bleeding feet, lack of calories, and fierce competition these artists face in their short careers.

The story line was slightly predictable, but I loved it anyway! It’s an easy book to read, and it’s a good one to add to a Christmas break reading list. 🙂


3. A Gentleman in Moscor by Amor Towles

My book club picked A Gentleman in Moscow for our September book discussion. I was happy about that, because I’ve been meaning to read it since its release date 12 months ago, and I kept putting it off.

This is such a popular book right now, so there are thousands of reviews on it. (I try to get all my books from the library, but there was such a long wait on this one that I just bought it on my kindle instead.) Here’s my impression of this book: I appreciated it and I enjoyed our discussion, but I didn’t love the book. I thought the characters were colorful and often funny, and I enjoyed the author’s dry sense of humor, but I probably won’t put it on my list of favorite books of the year.


4. Between Breaths by Elizabeth Vargas

My little sister Kylee told me about this one. She was listening to it as an audio book and told me I’d enjoy it, so I downloaded it and listened to it, too! It’s a short, potent, powerful book.

Elizabeth Vargas shares her history of anxiety and alcoholism. I was amazed by how she managed to hide the pain that she was feeling as a result of her disease; she appeared calm and in control on screen in front of millions for so many years, yet she was fighting a life-or-death battle under the surface.

I was also fascinated by the high profile news world. Newscasters appear calm and composed, but reading about the behind-the-scenes world revealed the stress and pressure that so many of them feel. Elizabeth Vargas reads it, so this one is a great one to listen to as an audiobook.


Any favorite reads for you lately?

Kelsey

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Travel

48 Hours In Seattle

09.29.17

I went to Seattle a few weeks ago for the Create and Cultivate conference. It was an aaaaall day event on Saturday, so I booked an early flight on Friday morning (ooh, that 4 am wake up call was rough!) and took a red eye  flight home on Sunday night so I could enjoy two full days of exploring on either side of the conference.

I adore this city. I’ve been quite a few times to visit family, and each time I find something new to explore. There are so many fun neighborhoods and pockets in Seattle…it was hard to narrow down my list! I stayed with my aunt (thanks for hosting me, Jeanne!), and we had so much fun together on this little whirlwind weekend!  Read More