HOPE Farmers Market and a lazy Sunday morning with girl’s best friend

Live music, local produce, and handcrafted gifts and jewelry…you cannot ask for much more than that.  A hipster’s and non-hipster’s  dream alike, the HOPE farmers market that takes place year round every Sunday has a little something for everybody. The HOPE Farmers market is a part of the non-profit group Helping Other People Everywhere, an organization committed to helping artists promote social change through their work.  Meeka, my Siberian Husky and I decided to check it out this last Sunday morning.   

Meeka ready to go wreak farmers market havoc. Photo by Katie

It was the perfect day to be outdoors.  In the mid 80’s it was peculiarly cool for August in Texas.  Meeka and I took full advantage of this as we both enjoyed the fresh air on the car ride over; a nice change from the usual blasting air conditioning.  I have to be honest and say that farmers markets are both my least and favorite weekend activities; I absolutely adore meandering through the stalls with a cup of coffee and a fresh pastry, however find waking up before 10 am on a coveted day off utterly blasphemous.   The HOPE farmers market was looking out for me.  Open later in the day than most farmers markets, not opening until 10:00 and staying open until 2:00, they cater to those of us who are slightly less chipper in the wee hours of the morning.

I arrived a little after 10:30 to free and ample parking and the market in full swing.  It is a smaller farmers market located on the East side and boasts a charming,laid back atmosphere.  I was pleased to be among a nice sized amount of friendly people and not have to navigate my way through lines and large crowds.  Also unlike a traditional farmers market, HOPE does have local produce however also has other items available for purchase.  There was jewelry, olive oils and vinaigrettes, handmade bags, and ready to eat prepared food as well.  Some of the seasonal produce items I was excited about were the okra from Johnson’s Backyard Garden, and summer squash from Engel Farms.

Produce from Johnson’s Backyard Garden. Photo by Katie

Produce from Engel Farms. Photo by Katie

Handmade jewelry from Ranch-O-Matic Revival. Photo by Katie

A few of the goodies I snagged to take home were a handmade beaded wrap bracelet for myself from local artist Robin Herskowitz, and garlic infused olive oil for a gift from Texas Olive Ranch of Kyle, Texas.  I had been excited to try out some of the ready to eat food from regularly returning vendors offering vegan Indian food and gourmet coffee however Meeka, not quite one year old yet, had other plans that involved dragging me to every dog she saw and not allowing another free hand for food or beverage. Obedience issues aside,  the market was extremely pet friendly, a few vendors supplying water bowls for our furry friends and even an organic dog treat on the way the way out, deserved or not.

My new favorite addition to my jewelry collection, by Robin Herskowitz with Ranch-O-Matic Revival. Photo by Katie

The market also has regular live music, a staple here in the capital city.  Hello Caller, a self-described “dark folk, jangle rock” band from Austin played on the quaint shady stage at 11:00, just in time for me to catch them.

The folk band Hello Caller. Photo by Katie

All in all it was a pleasant late Sunday morning.  I hope to return this Sunday to sample the faire and pick up some more fresh veggies, either sans my four legged kiddo or plus another set of human hands.

Catch the next Farmers Market, next and every Sunday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm located at East 5th and Waller Street.

Blog by Katie

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Sean Patton Live at Cap City Comedy Club

Let me start this off by saying, buy tickets in advance!  When I first checked out Cap City Comedy Club’s events online, I decided the Tuesday night PUNCH! show with Matt Bearden (the Club’s most popular show), sounded like something to check out.  Well, apparently so did everyone else in Austin.  I regretfully had not purchased tickets in advance, and the show was sold out the morning of.  I learned my lesson and quickly purchased tickets online for the next night’s show, featuring New York based comedian Sean Patton.

I got caught! Comedian, Sean Patton, incorporating the crazy girl with the camera into his act

The Capitol City Comedy Club has been around for 27 years here in Austin.  The Club features weekly shows with regular comedians, such as PUNCH! as well as touring comedians.  They also offer Defensive Driving classes . . . taught by comedians!  How great is that?  If you have to sit through a Defensive Driving class, I think having a trained comedian for an instructor is probably the best case scenario.  Cap City also has a full food and drink menu available during the shows, with classics such as fried pickles and Dudley and Bob nachos.  Not quite the venue for those of us who are watching our weight, but tasty none the less.

The seating space and stage at Cap City Comedy

I have to admit, I was not familiar with Sean Patton prior to the show though he has been seen on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “Live at Gotham,” and most recently on “Conan.”  Mr. Patton quickly made me forget that this wasn’t the original show I had planned on attending.  With more focus on personal stories and perspectives rather than traditional punch line stand up, he kept me in stitches through his whole set.  Not the “I feel bad because no one else is laughing” sympathy laugh, but the tears rolling down your face, cramp in your side, unconsciously slapping your leg kind of laugh.   Sean, a Louisiana native told hysterical stories of growing up as a privileged white kid in the suburbs; out-drinking college frat boys and navigating through the confusions of puberty pre sex-education and YouTube.  Along with Sean, the audience also got to enjoy the comedic flairs of the host Mac Blake and special guest Josh Gondelman.  Mac kept the show rolling with digs on the “un-ultimateness” of ultimate Frisbee.  And Josh’s impersonations of a German tourist, Jersey gangster, and Latino preschool student left little room for predictability.

The host, Mac Blake

A voluntary photo with Sean Patton (notice the Oregon shirt, Go Oregon!)

There are still two more nights to check out Sean Patton at Cap City; tonight Friday July 20th, and tomorrow, Saturday July 21st!  Don’t forget the PUNCH! show coming up this Tuesday. Also, check out the next featured comedians at Cap City Comedy Club:

Sunday night Open Mic July 22nd and every Sunday

J.R. Brown with Matt Sadler July 25th-28th

Tommy Johnagin with Ramin Nazer August 1st-4th

Tom Simmons August 8th-11th

* Learn from my mistake and buy tickets online or over the phone at least a day before the show!

See the Cap City Calendar full a full listing of events

Blog by Katie

Art to Heal: A Local Artist’s Journey to Overcome the Obstacles of Life

Over the past few weeks I have come to learn more about Austin State Hospital, or ASH, and their various art programs and events. Since 1857 Austin State Hospital has provided psychiatric care to those with mental illnesses in Austin and the State of Texas. The hospital has a creative arts therapy program for current patients as well as a strategic plan to create a community Arts Space where individuals with mental illnesses can go to continue their healing process after being discharged through dance, visual arts, music and drama.  This past Friday, I checked them out for myself.  I had the pleasure of meeting with Bess Green, Art Therapist at ASH, and Susan Lee, an artist and current patient.

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The proposed design of ASH’s Art Space

The creative arts therapy program is one of their most successful at ASH, and is centered on the idea that healing can happen not only through traditional therapy and medication but also through creativity and art.  The Arts Space project, in its first phase of funding, hopes to be a continuance of the creative arst therapy program and stretch beyond current patients so as to stop the “revolving door scenario” of those recovering having to be hospitalized again.   The Arts Space would be a place where artists like Susan would be able to come and use space to create their art not only as an outlet for healing but also to further themselves as professional artists.

Susan Lee, a published author and emerging artist has always seen art as a way to release pent-up energy and frustrations.  She has also seen it as a way to connect with others when she cannot always say what she wants to verbally.  Her art, for me, is delicate yet also strong with vibrant colors and solid line work.  She says her favorite drawings to create are depictions of Jesus, a passion that can be seen in her drawings.

Acrylic by Susan Lee. Photo by Katie

Drawing by Susan Lee. Photo by Katie

Watercolor by Susan Lee. Photo by Katie

Ms. Lee’s book, Baphomet: The Apocalypse, which can be purchased at Amazon.com, is what she describes as a comedy tragedy.  It is a story of her journey as a foster child struggling to find her way to enlightenment and the many dark people and places she encounters on the way.

“I met him on a sweet warm night, that vampire Brad. It was not that he drank of blood but that his empathy lavished in the power of auras.   Many other maidens had been lured in by his reasons for conceit.  I was one of them…Slick locks gowned his face to the brow, a sinister split in the middle…His piercing blue eyes are what made the best of him.  They had known murder. “

                                              – An excerpt from Baphomet: The Apocalypse, by Susan Lee

Cover art for Baphomet: The Apocalypse by Susan Lee. Photo by Katie

Susan started creating art at a very young age.  She was always pushed by adults around her to draw, “instead of playing with dolls and toys like most other kids do, I was drawing”.   Her usual medium is acrylic; however with constraints at the hospital, most of her current work is drawings and watercolors.  Susan modestly describes her work as more cartoonish. I viewed it as refreshingly simplistic.  Not simplistic as in lacking, but quite the opposite; complex because of its simplicity.  While Susan’s current situation may not be her ideal, she looks at it with optimism and room for growth.  Or in her words, “It is better to laugh than cry”.

Watercolor by Susan Lee. Photo by Katie

Acrylic by Susan Lee. Photo by Katie

More of Susan Lee’s work can be found on DeviantArt.com

To make a donation to the ASH Arts Space, creative arts therapy program, or other programs at ASH please click here.

ASH’s creative arts program is also looking for volunteers! Are you an artist in any discipline looking to lend your talents?  Click here!

Blog by Katie

The Beat of the Drum at Ruta Maya

Organic coffee served by day and fresh lime margaritas by night.  Count me in. The Ruta Maya Coffee Company on South Congress first opened in Austin in 1993 with the mission to create great coffee that returns a fair portion of the profit to the Latin American generators.  It has since expanded from a coffee shop to a live music venue and yoga studio; offering salsa lessons, wellness classes, and Tai-Chi and Yoga classes.

While I appreciate the downward dog and the ancient art of yoga, in devotion to my Latin roots, I had to opt for the margaritas and dancing.  Every Wednesday night at 9:00, the café transforms into a salsa club with live music from La Moña Loca, an eleven piece salsa orchestra with a traditional Cuban style.  This last Wednesday, I decided to strap on my dancing shoes, leave my insecurities behind, and go check it out for myself.

One of two bars at Ruta Maya

The parking lot was packed when I pulled up to the Pennfield location café, and at only a quarter past nine!  I was pleasantly surprised to find a large venue with two bars and an outdoor patio.  Art that is available for sale covered the colorful walls and the pungent smell of good quality coffee filled the air.  I navigated through the swinging dancers and ordered a margarita for a little liquid courage before hitting the dance floor.  The music, however, ended up to be enough.  You cannot help but want to dance to the exotic sounds of La Moña Loca. Once nicknamed “Congo Katie” by a childhood music teacher, I was immediately drawn to the sounds of the drums.   Even my boyfriend, who adamantly proclaimed before we left the house that he was NOT going to dance, was tapping his foot and nodding his head to the beat.

Not the professional dancer, I appreciated the presence of salsa instructor Esther Weekes, founder of Austin Casino Salsa, who teaches regularly at Ruta Maya as well as at her home studio.  While I did not make it early enough to attend her free lesson right before the live show at 8:00, she could still be seen on the dance floor throughout the night.

Esther Weekes and I during a quick dance break

I could tell by the many couples moving with ease that Ruta Maya had some devout regulars.  With the great venue, people, music and drinks, I could see why one would want to return each week.  I left that evening with slightly sore feet and a little bit of a sweat, but with a great attitude and a knowledge that I would most definitely be back.

Check out Ruta Maya’s upcoming events!

6/28 Thursday at 9:00 pm, Zydeco Blanco

6/29 Friday at 7:30 pm, Explosions of Euphony Concert

6/30 Saturday at 4:00 pm, Austin BabyGlow Disco

7/4 and every Wednesday at 5:00 pm ASL Happy Hour

7/4 and every Wednesday at 9:00 pm Live Salsa Dancing with La Mona Loca
and FREE (with café purchase) group salsa class with Esther at 8:00pm

7/6 Friday at 9:00 pm Fever in the Funkhouse

Blog by Katie

“We will, we will ROCK YOU”

I was not prepared for the energy level at iYouth Fusion Fest’s final judging last Saturday night, a part of channelAustin’s teen filmmakers annual boot camp.  The speakers boomed with motivational songs from before the young filmmakers were born, and the live audience, despite their size, filled the studio with laughter and applause.  The two teen filmmaking teams, Down to Film and Shoot for the Stars, worked long caffeine driven hours for one week producing, shooting and editing their own short films.  During the weeklong boot camp the talented teens worked alongside veteran experts in the film industry; Elizabeth Avellán , Kat Candler, Andrew Bujalski, and Keefe Boerner.  I was privileged enough to view the final products and even put in my two cents on the final judging.

Shoot for the Star behind the scenes. Photo courtesy of channelAustin

 Down to Film, the winners of the boot camp and the $1,000 prize were first with their short film Stupid Love. It was all about the flippant angst of a young man in love.  The film recalls the days when a simple hand holding, a walk through the park, or a snuggle on the couch could make us fall deeply into an undying love.  Down to Film captured the rollercoaster called love with a comedic twist.

Down to Film. Photo courtesy of channelAustin

Runners up, Shoot for the Stars, taught us all a lesson about Karma with short film Get What You Give.  The film followed two young ladies, one who donated money to a musician in need while the other threw her trash to the said musician; both who reaped what they sowed.  Shoot for the Stars kept the comedy coming, much to the audiences appeal.

Shoot For the Stars. Photo courtesy of channelAustin

While the live audience and televised viewer audience voted, the two filmmaker crews exuberantly sang, stomped, and clapped to “We Will, We Will Rock You”, sending me into a laughter that made me forget to turn in my ballot!  The crew obligingly sang another round.

Even as an outsider, the energy in the studio was a dead giveaway of the fun the two teams had throughout the week.  While there was a winner and a runner up, the excitement of the week could be seen on all the teens’ faces.  I am excited for next year.

Check out channelAustin’s iYouth media page for upcoming info to register for next year’s Fusion Fest Boot camp as well as other camps and programs for teens!

Be sure to check out iYouth Media’s latest project!  This last Tuesday June 19th  the Juneteenth Historical Parade aired live and in the channelAustin studio.

For the fourth year, channelAustin and a group of talented teens from The African Men and Boys Harvest Foundation  took the annual Junenteenth Historical Parade beyond East Austin and into homes across Central Texas. Celebrating the arrival of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas, the Juneteenth Historical Parade was cablecasted live from channelAustin plus simulcast live in partnership with KLRU Q and brought to you by teens with the Juneteenth Camp.

Juneteenth Camp put the production power in the hands of youth from the African American Men and Boys Harvest Foundation. These campers experienced three days of hands-on training with fully digital, high-def equipment that trained them to produce the live show on Parade Day.

See the channelAustin Facebook page to view the live taped show.

Blog by Katie