During the Christmas/Hannukkah/New Year’s holidays I spent two weeks in Austin doing what I do best – house & pet sitting 🏡🐕
Well, it’s not that difficult really, just super fun and you get to hang out with fur babies all day! I also got to spend lots of time doing my favorite things, including plenty of photography for my blog. The days in Austin leading up to my trip were super cold, so I was worried I was in for a chilly time, but upon my arrival the weather warmed up and I got to enjoy some very beautiful days.
I decided to write about my time spent in Austin over the holidays and post my favorite photos from the experience. I hope you enjoy it!
First up is Coco, the adorable calico cat, who lives in a cozy two story home in southwest Austin. I spent ten peaceful days with this fuzzy ball of fluff. She was very skittish at the beginning, which makes sense considering she had never met me before and I was invading her home while her humans were traveling. But she warmed up to me, so much so, that whenever I would be in the living room doing yoga, she would come up and lay down right in front of me and roll around.
Both of Coco’s humans are teachers, one in photography and one in literature. This aspect definitely shows itself in their lovely home. It’s full of books and art and cameras and all sorts of interesting objects. The house is full of character and was decorated so sweetly for Christmas with wreaths, red ribbons, cards strung up in the windows, ornamented trees and children’s artwork on display.
Every morning when I woke up (and when I say morning, I mean late late late morning 😴) I was greeted by shimmering rainbows dancing about the walls and ceiling, thanks to five glorious sun crystals hanging in the window. And as soon as it got dark in the evenings, the green Christmas lights that were set up in the trees in the front yard twinkled through the window and onto the ceiling like stars. It was fabulous ✨⭐️
My first time exploring the back yard, I discovered that several chickens live next door. Every time I went outside, these chickens would flock over to the fence to see what I was doing. They were very cute and curious!
Okay, let’s talk about the food. Other than Coco and the sun crystals, the food was one of my favorite memories. Like the concoction you see above ☝️ After Christmas, I was still craving something filling and savory and holiday feast-ish so I breaded slices of tofu in garbanzo bean flour and sauteed them with rainbow swiss chard, red potatoes and garlic & lemon green beans, then topped it off with homemade mushroom gravy. Mmmm!
The kitchen was smallish but very conducive to cooking. I made lots of recipes for the blog (you’ll see soon!), drank lots of jasmine and earl grey tea and even created a mango turmeric & coconut smoothie. Every morning I would have either chocolate chia seed pudding with berries or oatmeal with breakfast potatoes. And of course, there was lots of coffee ☕️
One thing I loved about the kitchen was the array of interesting plates and bowls and mugs, like this Jane Austen gem. I love Jane Austen and it made me so happy to drink out of this mug. And check out the foamy latte inside! I do believe I perfected the vegan latte during this mini-vacation. It involves a good quality coffee, soy milk, coconut oil, coconut milk from the can, and coconut whipped cream!
Here’s another little recipe I whipped up – red potatoes sauteed with onion and tofu and some more mushroom gravy. I was in a great location because I was close to three of the four major health foods stores in Austin: Whole Foods, Central Market and Sprouts. My favorite store, Natural Grocers, wasn’t close by but I survived. The local grocery store in the area was really nice too and had a great natural foods section. Being vegan is so simple in ATX!
As far as eating out went, my friend and I went to Counter Culture, a vegan diner on the east side of downtown. We dined on a house made cheese log, organic wine, and tempeh reuben sandwich with french onion soup. Later we headed to a little restaurant & bar called Jeffreys, located on the other side of downtown. I’m not a fan of almond milk because the flavor is too overwhelming, but I had an almond latte there that was actually pretty decent. Later in the week we hit one of my favorite restaurants in Austin, Bouldin Creek Cafe. It’s all vegetarian and it’s in a popular area just south of downtown. I had a really yummy veggie burger with “bacon” and vegan cheese 🍔
Some other highlights of my ten days in Casa del Coco:
- listening to all of my favorite music, which included Goodbye Chanel (current fav band), John Denver (out of the blue but I love his voice) and classical Indian music (I use it for yoga but I listened to it throughout the day)
- getting to read in bed any time I felt like it!
- using turmeric every chance I could, and not just in my food, but as a face mask and tooth paste (another upcoming post)
- watching some of my favorite movies and finally having time to watch new ones that have been on my list
- staying up late to write
- having an owl in the backyard and listening to him hoot once the sun went down
- walking around the neighborhood in the sunny, warm weather
- sleeping in!
After ten relaxing, reflective days hanging out with Coco, I made my way up to far northwest Austin. Technically, it’s a town called Lakeway, and it’s full of beautiful homes in the hills, near Lake Travis. There, I spent five days babysitting my “nieces,” two rescue mastiffs named Penny and Vivian. Penny is the brindle colored dog; she’s about three years old and is very shy with most people, but me and her are besties and she follows me around the house wherever I go. Vivian is older and calmer, with more of a mother mentality; she loves to give kisses on the face and snuggle up next to me at night, which can be difficult considering she’s a ginormous beast 🐃 but I love her anyway.
Penny and Vivian run the house, but upon my arrival, I found out they’re expecting a human sibling that will arrive next June 👶 It will be interesting to see how they react, especially Penny, who enjoys being the baby!
I spent the next few days snuggling with the doggies, taking them on walks, photographing and working on my blog, reading, writing, enjoying my new hedgehog socks and occasionally venturing out for some errands. I celebrated New Year’s Eve during the day because I wanted to be with Penny and Vivian that night in case the nearby fireworks scared them. We hunkered down in the entertainment room upstairs and watched a movie and I don’t think they even noticed the fireworks (thank you surround sound).
It was a fun two weeks and even though I got distracted a lot by animals and food and movies, it was pretty productive! Now I’m back down in the Rio Grande Valley and dealing with a bit of craziness, so I’m glad I had that time in Austin to rest up. Hoping everyone reading this had a wonderful holiday as well and is ready to tackle 2017! 💪