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

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