Monday, June 6, 2016

Tourists in Our Own Town: South Congress

Tom and I recently celebrated our 4th anniversary with a kid-free "staycation" in Austin. My parents took Maddie for the weekend, and we packed our bags for a fun getaway. We rented a cute little Airbnb bungalow just a few blocks off of South Congress, a popular area for both tourists and locals, just south of downtown.

We spent Saturday afternoon wandering through shops and trying not to get washed away in the rain. Uncommon Objects was a fun little store, but pricey. They had all sorts of neat junk and "old things" that I love, but I've seen similar items for less at other antique shops. Nonetheless, a fun place to poke around in. Just a couple shops down, Tesoros Trading Company also had some really cool "stuff". They import products from all around the world, and many items are labeled with a story about where they came from and who produced the products. We wanted to grab a drink somewhere, but were bummed to find several bars that weren't open around 4pm. We ended up in the Toms shoe store, where they also have a coffee shop. Who knew Toms made coffee too? They have a cute little back patio area which we would have loved to sit in, if it weren't bucketing down rain.


After bumming around for a few hours, we headed back to our bungalow to wash up for dinner. My hair was a hot mess from the rainy weather. My go-to plain 'ole ponytail just wasn't going to cut it for our fancy dinner, so I found a few Pinterest up-do examples to try out. But I wasted 10 minutes trying to find some sort of small ponytail holder in my bags and suddenly it was time to leave for our dinner reservation. I whipped up this 'do in the car using two giant hair ties and 4 bobby pins!!! And I am shamelessly tooting my own horn about it. It was purely luck and I could never in my life get it to work again. I even made Tom take a picture when we got back from dinner ;)


We had dinner reservations at a quaint little restaurant called Wink. It's quite fancy (and way out of our usual price range - thank goodness for a gift certificate I received from wonderful friends!), so even though we were using GPS, we drove right past the restaurant. It's tucked into this unassuming shopping center off of N Lamar right next to a dry cleaner and a liquor store. We were skeptical going in, but the food was delicious and the ambiance was top notch. We were technically right in middle of Whole30, but we gave ourselves a 24 hour free pass for our celebration. We didn't want to be limited in our food choices at an amazing restaurant, and hey, you only live once. Per usual, we both wanted to order the same thing, but we compromised and shared two entrees. And by compromise, I mean that Tom is the one who ordered something else. Bless his heart. We also tried the dessert sampler, and everything was so delicious. The portion sizes were all just right too. We didn't leave there feeling like our stomachs would explode. The personalized menu was a nice touch too :)


Right behind the restaurant is a graffiti park called the Hope Outdoor Gallery. We'd both seen pictures of the place, but never actually knew where it was. Despite my high heels and the puddles of mud, we wandered around and snapped a few photos. When in Rome, you know.


One of Tom's co-workers had given us a few bar recommendations for the evening, so we hopped around to check them out after dinner. First up, we sat at the bar in Little Barrel and Brown. It's a cozy little bar/restaurant with fun signature drinks. I'd really like to go back here for brunch or dinner sometime. Next up, we popped into the garden courtyard at Hotel San Jose. It's right next to the pool with candle-lit tables and a fun music playlist, but the drink prices were outrageous. Maybe it's because of the hotel name, or maybe it was because of the atmosphere, but it actually felt like we were in California! Our last stop was the bar at South Congress Hotel. It was a groovy place with trendy music and people from all walks of life. It wasn't too crowded when we got there so we were able to sit at the bar, but by the time we left (around midnight) it was really hopping (is that still a word people use? hoppin'?). The people watching there was so fun and it was a great way to end the night.

The next morning, we took our time getting ready and headed out to grab some brunch before making the trek home. We waited 45 minutes to be seated at South Congress Cafe, but the food was so worth the wait! We started with the salsa sampler and good gracious, the salsas were spicy. But we took them home with us and they were great on eggs and in a boring crockpot soup I had made that needed some spicing up :) I would definitely recommend this place for brunch!!

We had so much fun exploring the South Congress area. We were only 30 minutes from home, but it really felt like we were on vacation. Of course we dearly love our little Maddie, but having a night for just the two of us was so so so nice. Back when I was working, I really struggled to balance my free time between Tom and Maddie. I only saw her for a couple hours a day on weekdays, so I felt a pull to spend any available weekend time with her. The tides have changed now, and I'm happy to pass her off to her grandparents for a night!!! Ha. Our weekend away was much needed and such a nice relationship refresher. We spend so much of our time talking about, thinking about, worrying about Maddie, that I also worried a little that we wouldn't have anything else to talk about on date night. But fortunately, it turns out, we still enjoy each others' company even when we're not focusing on the kiddo.

I count my blessings every day that I married such an incredible guy. I don't tell him often enough, but I am so appreciative of the ways he takes care of our family. From making big weekend breakfasts to mowing the grass, managing our finances and giving Maddie her baths, to checking all of the door locks before bed and holding his arm out in front of me when he slams on the brakes... he really is the best. So if you're reading this, Thomas, happy four years and cheers to many many more. I love you!

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