Austin: A Summer Guide

I’m lucky enough to live in one of the coolest, most vibrant cities in America this summer – Austin. I’ve visited a few times in the past few years for concerts, but living here has given me a better appreciation for all things Austin. The city definitely lives by its catchy motto – “Keep Austin Weird” – but I’ve come to love it for its hospitality, scenery, and ubiquitous laid-back vibes. Below are a few of my favorite Austin haunts – turns out, keeping things weird is working out after all.

Mozart’s Coffee Roasters

A few friends and I have been meeting weekly at different coffee shops for co-writing sessions. By far, Mozart’s has been my favorite shop. Right on Lady Bird Lake, Mozart’s is a perfect place place to churn out stories while catching the sunset over the water. And while I’m not a big fan of pastries, I have a hard time resisting Mozart’s cheesecakes!

Austin Eastciders

I’m not much of a drinker, but I’m always down for a good cider. Austin and its surrounding areas has some excellent local picks. Austin Eastciders, a brewing company located in the growing east side of the city (hence the name), has become a favorite spot of mine with its cool, urban vibe, live music, and of course, tasty brews. My favorite is the Ruby Red Grapefruit flavor, but I can’t wait to try the new Lemon Ginger flavor!

The Boardwalk Trail by Lady Bird Lake

I hate running. I hate, hate, hate, running. My mind wanders, my legs get too chafe-y, it’s hot . . . I hate running. But I will willingly run on The Boardwalk Trail to catch breathtaking views of the city skyline as the sun rises. Skyline views aren’t the only things that keep me entertained here: I love seeing turtles sunbathe on logs, crew teams row smoothly across the Lake, and egrets swoop in for breakfast. Once, I saw an Austinite scale the railing, jump into the water, and swim across the Lake to the other side because . . . well, because that’s what you do in Austin.

South Congress Books

Trying to find parking on South Congress is a pain . . . but if you can swiftly maneuver into some back-angled street parking before the light behind you turns green and five o’clock traffic rushes towards your bumper, you’ve made it in Austin, baby! Every time I successfully find parking on South Congress, I treat myself to a visit to this used bookstore known for its vintage and first editions. Small, cozy, and well-curated, South Congress Books is perfect for when I’m in the mood for lazy evening perusals.

I still have a few more weeks before I leave the city, but I’m already dreading leaving. Austin, you’ve been good to me. Thanks for welcoming me with open arms, good books, and some cold brews!

 

–Amanda Cordero

 

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The Art of Practicing Self-Care…Cheaply

I moved recently to Austin for the summer. While it’s been great (read: hipster coffee shops galore), this is also my first time living truly on my own. I’ve lived for eighteen years with my family, and when I went off to university, I had the wonderful experience of living in a tight-knit residential college. I’ve always been around people, and I love it.

Living in Austin has been my first experience of living alone. As an extrovert, this transition has been radical . . . and difficult. I’m also processing some recent emotional upheaval, so I’ve had to practice self-care frequently. Below are a few of the things I’ve been doing (on the cheap!) to take better of myself:

Taking time to lose myself in a book (preferably one from the library). At the beginning of the year, I made the commitment to read for a half hour every day. Even though I study literature in school, I’ve used this commitment to discover new books on my own. I’m currently reading Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte and The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks by Terry Tempest Williams.

Aside from enriching my literary taste, I always leave my hour feeling satisfied that I’ve done something concrete to help myself. The small victories count! Other books I’ve read and loved this summer include Landline by Rainbow Rowell, Little Soldiers: An American Boy, a Chinese School, and the Global Race to Achieve by Lenora Chu, and the entire Harry Potter saga.

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Moisturizing. Don’t roll your eyes at this. If you know me, you know that I love, love, LOVE having super soft skin. And I’m guessing that if you’re reading this beauty and lifestyle blog, you probably have a tub or bottle of lotion somewhere. Take the time to slather some on and notice yourself.

I’ve upped my moisturizing game by using sweet almond oil or coconut fig-scented lotion. Another pro tip is to place your moisturizer in the refrigerator for a few hours – perfect for a hot summer day!

Seeking light. This year, I’ve become obsessed with the idea of light, how it affects my mood, and how I can harness it for my benefit. For example, when I need to feel productive or happy, I’ll go to places with massive windows and just sit there – my local Starbucks and Austin’s Faulk Central Library are perfect. When I need to prepare my body for sleep, I’ll turn off all the lights but keep on my crystal salt lamp. It provides the soft ambience to settle my body in for the night. While light isn’t on everyone’s mood radar, pay attention to where and when you feel the happiest and seek those places and moments.

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Communing with nature. I’m lucky that Austin is a city that loves nature. When I really need to check out emotionally, I’ll run by Lady Bird Johnson Lake. Google “hiking trails near me” to discover your local hidden gems. And pro tip: I like going early in the morning A) to avoid the worst of Texas heat and B) to set some good vibes for the day.

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Reaching out to people. I’ve been more aware that much of this sad feeling stems from loneliness. A friend of mine recently told me that she is adamant about not having a “phone relationship” with people, so she’s been building a habit of meeting with people face-to-face. While that’s not always possible for me, I try to FaceTime or call loved ones as opposed to just sending them texts. More often than not, many of my friends feel the same way I do and are equally happy to talk. Reaching out to people has been a practice of recognizing that while reaching out can seem inconvenient for both parties, it’s a beautiful and necessary practice of community and happiness.

Building small habits. My mother will tell you that she wishes I flossed more. And because I love my mother and my gums, I’ve been building the habit of flossing every night. Building habits like these aren’t always fun, but I’ve been reminding myself that ultimately, I’m winning. Try going for walk a few times a week, incorporating more vegetables in your meals, or making it a point to shut off your phone for a few hours each week. Small habits like this build up in the long run!

Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive or trendy – really, it all boils down to being aware of your emotions and taking proactive steps!

 

— Amanda Cordero