Weekend Top 10 FREE Events (Oct 31 - Nov 2)

 Thursday, October 30, 2014

  1. Circuit of The Americas Fan Fest - Friday, October 31 from 5 p.m. - midnight, Saturday, November 1 from noon to midnight, and Sunday, November 2 from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. The three-day festival returns this year with three stages of live performances as well as food and drinks from local restaurants, pubs, food trucks and artisans. There will also be interactive displays and simulators, an X Games-style action-sports zone, activities for kids, and more. View the entertainment schedule hereFREE and open to all ages. Downtown Austin (map).
  2. Trick-or-Treat for Books - Friday, October 31 at 6 p.m. Gather at BookPeople this Halloween to hear stories full of monsters, ghosts, and witches (but none of them will be too scary). At 6:30 p.m., join the costume parade, which will end at the front of the store where you’ll get your treat – a free book to bring home. This Halloween party is perfect for witches and wizards ages 7 and under. FREE! BookPeople, 603 N Lamar, Austin.
  3. Haunted House at Dottie Jordan Rec Center - Friday, October 31 from 6-8 p.m. Have a spooktacular time with carnival games, snacks, a haunted house, a cake walk, music, and more. FREE! Dottie Jordan Recreation Center, 2803 Loyola Ln, Austin.
  4. Movie Night: The Nightmare Before Christmas - Friday, October 31 from 7-10 p.m. A giant inflatable screen will be set up in the field across from Whole Foods Market. Feel free to bring blankets and chairs. Seating starts at 7 p.m. and the movie starts at sunset. Rated PG. FREE! Food and drinks will be available for purchase. Whole Foods Arbor Trails, 4301 W William Cannon Dr, Austin.
  5. Shakespeare on the Farm: The Tempest - Friday, October 31 and Saturday, November 1 at 7:30 p.m. Present Company presents Shakespeare’s classic tale of love, magic, and one helluva hurricane. Promoting the philosophy of accessible and sustainable art, Shakespeare on the Farm is a FREE event, but a suggested donation of $10-$20 helps support the event and the artists that create it. Guests are encouraged to bring a blanket or short chair and a picnic, although snacks and donation-based cocktails will be available. Suitable for all ages. Seating starts at 6:30 p.m. Show starts at about 7:30 p.m. RSVP here to guarantee your spot. On Halloween, there will be an audience costume contest, with prizes! This is the final weekend of the show. Rain Lily Farm, 914 Shady Ln, Austin.
  6. Home Depot Kid's Workshop: Pallet Coaster - Saturday, November 1 from 9 a.m. - noon. Head to a Home Depot store near you and learn how to build a pallet coaster at this FREE hands-on workshop, designed for children ages 5 - 12. All kids get to keep their craft, receive a FREE certificate of achievement, a workshop apron, and a commemorative pin, while supplies last.
  7. Austin Nature & Science Center Fall Festival - Saturday, November 1 from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Enjoy a FREE family-friendly fall festival! See live owl and bat presentations, find constellations in a planetarium, discover differences between the furs and skulls of different Central Texas animals, and go on a guided hike in the Zilker Nature Preserve. Austin Nature & Science Center, 301 Nature Center Drive, Austin.
  8. Dia de los Muertos at Mexican American Cultural Center - Saturday, November 1 from 2-10 p.m. Celebrate the cycle of life by remembering loved ones with respect, honor and joy. Family activities (for a small fee), food, live music and dancing for the entire family. Admission is FREE! Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St., Austin.
  9. Dia de los Muertos at Central Market - Saturday, November 1 from 6- 9 p.m. Bring your family to one of Austin's cornerstone Dia de los Muertos celebrations! Enjoy Cumbia and Latin dance music plus performances by Austin Samba School. FREE! Central Market, 4001 North Lamar, Austin.
  10. Free Sunday Museum Fun:
    • First Sunday at the Bullock Museum - Sunday, November 2 from 12-5 p.m. Enjoy FREE exhibit admission all day during Free First Sundays, held the first Sunday of every month. Families can explore the Story of Texas through three floors of exhibits that showcase artifacts from around the state. Bullock Museum, 1800 North Congress Avenue, Austin.
    • Family Day at Umlauf - Sunday, November 2 from 12-4 p.m. Come explore the UMLAUF while engaging in creative activities! Schedule: 12:30 Yoga; 1:00 Story Time; 1:30 Sculpture Demo; 2:00 Inside Out Steel Band. FREE! Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, 605 Robert E. Lee Road, Austin.
    • Susanna Dickinson's 200th Birthday Celebration - Sunday, November 2 from 1-4 p.m. Live music by the Marshall Ford Swing Band, cannon firing, cake and more! FREE! Joseph and Susanna Dickinson Hannig Museum, 411 East 5th Street, Austin.
    • Sunday Funday at Neill-Cochran House Museum - Sunday, November 2 from 1-4 p.m. Every first Sunday of the month the Neill-Cochran House Museum will be open to the public for FREE from 1-4 p.m. Each Sunday will include an activity highlighting a theme that embodies both the history of Texas and the Neill-Cochran House Museum. Walk-through tours of the house will also be available. Neill-Cochran House Museum, 2310 San Gabriel St, Austin.
Bonus fun in the 'burbs:
  • Mall Wide Trick or Treating (Cedar Park) - Friday, October 31 from 5-8 p.m. Bring the family to Lakeline Mall for a night of safe trick-or-treating. FREE! Lakeline Mall, 11200 Lakeline Mall Dr, Cedar Park.
  • Treats on East Street (Hutto) - Friday, October 31 from 5:30-8 p.m. Enjoy a safe night of trick-or-treating on the downtown streets. Local businesses will have activity and candy booths on East Street while organizations and churches will set up Trunk or Treat on Farley Street. The entire family is encouraged to dress up and head downtown Halloween night. FREE! Downtown Hutto, Corner of East St and Farley St, Hutto.
  • Fable Fest (Cedar Park) - Saturday, November 1 from 12-6 p.m. This one-day event offers a showcase of drama, music, art, and storytelling. Funds raised from the event’s sponsors, vendors and activities will benefit the Cedar Park Public Library. Admission to Fable Fest is FREE, but various activities at the event have fees associated with them. Free entertainment will include musical performances, jousting, archery and fencing demonstrations, and more. Costumes are encouraged! Elizabeth Milburn Park, 1901 Sun Chase Blvd, Cedar Park.
You may also be interested in:
Chances to win:
Don't forget to change your clocks before you go to bed on Saturday night!  Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday, November 2 at 2 a.m.


Giveaway: ZACH Theatre's A Year With Frog and Toad

Austin parents are raving about A Year with Frog and Toad
whimsical children's musical which opened earlier this month at ZACH Theatre. 

The production is absolutely lush. The set is colorful and beautifully built. It consists of two houses (one for each hopper). The houses spin to reflect both the outside and inside. The costumes are equally delightful. Set in a Vaudeville style, our friends Frog and Toad are dressed to the nines complete with high-button shoes. All of the costumes are so well done, and I was very impressed by the high production value. -Traci Shannon
...the actors were truly talented. Their acting, singing, and ability to capture the audience were stellar. We always felt like they were doing the show just for us. -Amy Salinas

Arnold Lobel's well-loved characters hop from the page to the stage in this Tony-nominated musical, recommended for ages 3 and up. Follow two great friends waking from hibernation, planting gardens, raking leaves, sledding and learning life lessons along the way. Part vaudeville, part make believe, all charm, A Year With Frog and Toad tells the story of a friendship that endures, weathering all seasons.

Take the whole family to enjoy the show, weekends through November 29, 2014 on ZACH's Kleberg Stage.

Free Fun in Austin also has tickets to give away! For your chance to win a family 4-pack of tickets to see A Year With Frog and Toad, simply fill out the form below. One winner will be selected on Thursday, November 6, 2014 and notified by email. Tickets must be picked up in person at the ZACH Theatre Box Office; prize will not be mailed. Sweepstakes Official Rules.

If you cannot see the form below, please visit the original post to enter.

Photos by AxelB Photography


Día de Los Muertos at the Mexican American Cultural Center

Celebrate Día de Los Muertos with a Day of the Dead festival at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (ESB-MACC) on Saturday, November 1, 2014, from 4-10 p.m. The free signature Día de los Muertos extravaganza returns this year as a tribute to the late Sam Z. Coronado. 

Sam Z. Coronado, a beloved fixture in Austin’s Latino arts community, passed away in November 2013. His legacy continues through the Serie Project, his nonprofit organization, and has served as a gateway to the arts for hundreds of Latino artists for the last twenty years. Earlier this year, the ESB-MACC renamed the Main Gallery after Coronado, and the Center will honor him further with an exhibit of his Día de los Muertos silkscreen prints and a specially constructed altar by artist Mary Jane Garza.

Live music will be provided by the talented El Tule, Trampia, La Rondalla de Austin, Brass Band with Felipe Borrero and Danza Azteca Chichimeca. Austin-based music group El Tule is known for its high energy live shows and its unique blend of cumbia, merengue, salsa and reggae. Trampia’s smooth beats won him two Austin Music Awards for best hip hop, and the ESB-MACC welcomes him back for his second Día de los Muertos performance. Brass Band with Felipe Borrero will also perform, along with the ESB-MACC’s own La Rondalla de Austin and a traditional dance by Austin’s Danza Azteca Chichimeca.

The event begins at 2 p.m. with CMACA’s artist market, where local artists and vendors will have their wares for sale. Community altars will also be on display both in the Community Gallery and outside. At 4 p.m., the classic car and bike show and the family arts activities (for a small fee) will begin. The event ends at 10 p.m.

For more information, visit the event page, call Linda Crockett at 512-974-3789, or e-mail her.

Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center 
600 River St.
Austin, TX 78701

For more local celebrations of Día de los Muertos, click here!


Free City of Austin Events in November

The City of Austin has free fun aplenty planned for November.  Hold on to your hat, it's going to be another great month!

Taiwanese American National Celebration Saturday, November 1 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Entertainment, history, music, stories and presentation celebrating the Taiwan National Holiday presented by the Austin Chapter of Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce. FREE! Asian American Resource Center, AARC Ballroom, Community Room 8, 8401 Cameron Road, Austin.

Austin Nature & Science Center Fall Festival - Saturday, November 1 from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Visit for a FREE family-friendly fall festival! See live owl and bat presentations, find constellations in a planetarium, discover differences between the furs and skulls of different Central Texas animals, and even go on a guided hike in the Zilker Nature Preserve. FREE! Austin Nature & Science Center, 301 Nature Center Drive, Austin.

Dia de los Muertos at Mexican American Cultural Center - Saturday, November 1 from 2-10 p.m. Celebrate the cycle of life remembering our loved ones with respect, honor and joy. Food, live music and dancing for the entire family. FREE! Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River St., Austin.

National Chemistry Week Celebration - Saturday, November 1 from 12-4 p.m. Hands-on activities and demonstrations. FREE! Zilker Park, Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center, 2201 Barton Springs Road, Austin. 

Susanna Dickinson's 200th Birthday Celebration - Sunday, November 2 from 1-4 p.m. Live music by the Marshall Ford Swing Band, cannon firing, cake and more! FREE! Joseph and Susanna Dickinson Hannig Museum, 411 East 5th Street, Austin.

AARC Community Art Exhibit – Artists’ Reception Saturday, November 1 from 2-4 p.m. A special reception for the new AARC Community Art Exhibit including the exhibits: “Dream Image of My Asian Home: Taiwan” presented by the Austin Chapter of the Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce with works by Peter Chung, Barbara Hsieh, Steven Ng and Thomas You; “Taiwan: From the Outside Looking In” featuring photographs by Kelly Zhu; and “A Viewing” featuring sculptures by Roger Foster. Refreshments provided. FREE! Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Road, Austin.

Adaptive Outdoor Sports Expo - Thursday, November 6 at 5 p.m. and Friday, November 7 from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Join a Veterans Day celebration to raise awareness about Austin-area adaptive outdoor recreation, including rock climbing, fly fishing, paddle and trail sports. The Expo will feature adventure sports presentations by Gene Rodgers on November 6 from 5-7 p.m. at Camacho Activity Center (35 Robert Martinez Jr. St.). On November 7 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Expo will hold a Capital Area Food Bank Drive and host over twenty vendor booths at Fiesta Gardens (2101 Jesse E. Segovia St.). The first 50 people to bring two canned goods will receive a swag bag of donated goodies!

Children and Family Nature's Workshop - Saturday, November 8 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. The purpose of this series is to explore and appreciate nature with children of all ages. Bey Acupuncture seeks to share the sincerity of nature with the community at large, promote a healthy lifestyle, and creative expression. Please dress children in clothing designed for yoga and fun. FREE! George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, 1165 Angelina Street, Austin.

Children's Musical Workshop: Traditional Chinese Instruments - Sunday, November 9 from 1-2:30 p.m. Kids will enjoy a short performance and then get to go on stage at this interactive, FREE event! Featuring: Guzheng, Pipa, Guqin, Hulusi (gourd flute) and traditional Chinese Drum. Audience members may browse the different instruments after the program and even play with them in this uniquely Asian musical petting zoo! Featuring the Austin Chinese Chamber Orchestra, Austin Peking Opera Club and Winlanes Education. Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Road, Austin.

Thanksgiving Storytime and Crafts - Saturday, November 15 from 1-3 p.m. RSVP to gaila.sims@austintexas.gov. FREE! George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, 1165 Angelina Street, Austin.

Master Shao Jing Qun Guzheng Studio Annual ConcertSaturday, November 15 from 7-9 p.m. Classic and modern Guzheng music presented by Master Shao Jing Qun and her students – featured solo, duet, quartet and ensemble. The Guzheng, or “Oriental piano” is a treasured Chinese musical instrument. FREE! AARC Ballroom, Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Road, Austin.

“Kano” film screening and Q&A with director Umin Boya
Monday, November 17 from 6-9:30 p.m. This film, which was a blockbuster success in Taiwan in 2014, depicts the multi-racial Kano baseball team from southern Taiwan overcoming extreme odds to represent the island in the 1931 Japanese High School Baseball Championship at Koshien Stadium when Taiwan was under Japanese rule. FREE! AARC Ballroom, Asian American Resource Center, 8401 Cameron Road, Austin.

Zilker Tree Lighting - Sunday, November 30 at 6 p.m. The annual Zilker Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place in Zilker Park. Enjoy local entertainment, food, novelties and live music by the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble and the Barton Hills Choir. FREE! Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Road, Austin. 

For even more free events happening this month, check out the City of Austin calendar.


Free Fun in Austin: Date Night Edition (Oct 30 - Nov 2, 2014)

 Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fright Night at Jo's SoCo

Last chance to catch the FREE Halloween movies at Jo's on South Congress! This week's screening will be The Monster Squad at sunset (7:30ish). Bring a chair and a friend; there will be FREE popcorn for sharing. "Boos" cost extra. (Jo's, 1300 South Congress Ave, Austin)

Harvest Happy Hour at Crave

Do512 and Crave are kicking off the weekend with a Halloween themed happy hour from 6-9pm featuring music by Austin's own Mayeux & Brossard, complimentary appetizers, and a seasonally inspired happy hour at Crave downtown. Admission is FREE with RSVP on Do512. The first 100 attendees also receive a FREE drink ticket upon arrival and a special Crave swag bag. Drinks that aren't complimentary start at just $2. (Crave, 340 E 2nd, Austin)

Shave the Date with TOMS

Join TOMS Roasting Co. on South Congress to celebrate Movemeber USA and men's health. Your man can get a FREE shave and there will be complimentary whiskey for all while it lasts. DJ set by White Denim and Orthy, event is 7-9pm. These events fill up fast so plan on getting there early! (TOMS, 1402 South Congress, Austin)

Soul Thursdays at The Blackheart with ROXY ROCA and Mrs. Glass
This dynamite duo of bands is still rocking their residency at the Blackheart every Thursday by serving up lots of booty-shaking and feel good soul. These acts are high energy with talented frontmen who don't disappoint. Show starts at 9:30pm. FREE! (The Blackheart, 86 Rainey, Austin)

Salvage Vanguard Cinema41

FREE screening of the 1959 classic film The World, The Flesh, and The Devil starring Harry Belafonte and Inger Stevens. Showtime is 8pm and it's BYOB. Winner of the Austin Chronicle's "Best Indie Film Cred Boost (2012)", Cinema41 is a film collective that screens overlooked/forgotten independent films. (Salvage Vanguard, 2803 Manor Road, Austin)

FREE Improv Class at The New Movement

Want to break out of your comfort zone and live a little? The New Movement is hosting a FREE improv class from 6:30-7:15pm. Their witty instructors will give you a quick rundown of what makes their classes so awesome and you'll learn a few exercises to get you started. Ready, set, let the FREE fun begin! (The New Movement, 616 Lavaca St, Austin)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Fan Fest
A three-day turbo-charged ode to F1 with FREE music, yoga classes, ghost tours, cardio pop classes by Ballet Austin, photo opps with Ghostbuster's Ecto-1, and so much more! For a full schedule and event line-up, visit here. The event runs Friday 5pm - 12am, Saturday 12pm - 12am, and Sunday 11am - 5pm. (Downtown Austin)

Disco Crazy Halloween at Hotel San Jose

Break out your bell bottoms and disco ball earrings! The party will be hoppin' disco-style at Hotel San Jose this Halloween. Beginning at 8pm, DJ Chino Casino will spin groovy tunes on the back porch for all you boogie maniacs. Costume contest and FREE prizes all night! (Hotel San Jose, 1316 South Congress, Austin)

Halloween Party at Fado Irish Pub

Do512 and Fado are inviting everyone to their FREE Halloween party. The crazy fun starts at 9pm with DJ Hexium mashing up all your favorites at 10pm, Halloween games, and food and drink specials. There will be plenty of FREE prizes too, including tickets the X Games, Austin concerts, and free drinks and bar tabs. Be sure to dress to impress! Do512 will be giving away FREE contest prizes for the best costume, worst costume, and more. For parking, try the garage on 8th & San Jacinto. (Fado Irish Pub, 214 West 4th, Austin)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fiesta de los Muertos

El Chile Cafe y Catina is throwing a fiesta from noon-2pm to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. There will be FREE crispy pork tacos, frosty aguas frescas, games, music, local art, and prizes. Come dressed to enjoy the festivities and bring offerings for their Altar de los Muertos to celebrate the lives of those who have passed. (El Chile Cafe y Catina, 1816 South 1st, Austin)

Saturday Night Concert Series at Hill Country Galleria

Enjoy the cooler weather this weekend and head out to the Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave to catch Parker McCollum play.  McCollum offers a mix of Americana, Texas country, and indie rock all wrapped with honest simplicity and heartfelt soul. You're welcome to bring a blanket, chairs, and food will be available nearby. Saturday, from 7-9pm. FREE! (Hill Country Galleria, 12700 Hill Country Galleria Blvd, Bee Cave) 

SURE THING Comedy Show

SURE THING comedy show at the original Austin Java, 8pm. Headliners include performers seen on Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing, Letterman, and more, as well as the city's best comics on the rise, plus special out-of-town guests. Hosted by Duncan Carson and Brendan K. O'Grady. These events have been filling up quickly so be sure to get there early! Doors open at 7:30pm. FREE! (Austin Java Parkway, 1206 Parkway, Austin)

Sunday, Novemebr 2, 2014

First Sunday at Bob Bullock Museum

Enjoy a leisurely stroll around the Bullock museum and brush up on your Texas history knowledge for FREE this Sunday. Their first Sunday open house is from 12-5pm. Currently on display is La Belle: The Ship That Changed History, in addition to their regular three levels of exhibits depicting the Story of Texas. (Bullock Museum, 1800 Congress Ave, Austin)

KUTX Austin FREE MUSIC SERIES at Uncle Billy's Brewery & BBQ 

Sunday music series 2-6pm, with DJ Mixer Rogers spinning and live music by Katie Holmes at 4pm. Katie Holmes is the dynamite fiddler player for Asleep at the Wheel, not Tom Cruise's ex-wife. But I'm sure you already knew that! RSVP for FREE tickets. (Uncle Billy's Brewery, 1530 Barton Springs Road, Austin)

Jon Dee Graham and the Fighting Cocks rock their 17 year residency at the Continental Club with this FREE show at 8:30pm. At 10:30 things heat up with Dupree, a swinging rock band with roots in swing, blues, '50s rock, and a little country. (Continental Club, 1315 S Congress Ave, Austin)

Heather Schuck is the CEO of the children's lifestyle brand, Glamajama. When she's not scheming "glama" world domination or mentoring young designers, you can find her in her front yard chasing her three children with a garden hose. Connect with her at glamaLIFE or on Facebook.


Free EAST Catalogs Available Soon

The East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) is a free, annual, self-guided art event, providing the public an opportunity to meet local artists and artisans. The tour takes place the third and fourth weekends in November. 

The shipment of more than 7,000 EAST catalogs was delayed, but they will be available on Saturday, November 1, 2014 for free at all Austin Public Library branches as well as businesses and studios throughout Austin. The catalog, an invaluable resource for local art lovers and enthusiasts, features hundreds of pages of local artwork with advertisements beautifully integrated into its design. Besides being a personal tour guide during EAST, the catalog is a collector’s item and makes an excellent coffee table book. 

To highlight EAST, the Austin Public Library is showcasing five artists at select East Austin branch librariesFor more information about the catalogs and art exhibits at the Austin Public Library, visit the Austin Public Library website. For more information on EAST, visit the Big Medium website.


Free Fun at Home: Top 10 Pinterest Wins

Household items provide seemingly endless possibilities for children's entertainment. Let’s go beyond hand print art and construction paper. My daughter and I tried numerous Pinterest projects in the two and a half years we were home together (age 3 to 5). When choosing activities, I hit the high points of what she needed to know before she started Kindergarten including math, literacy, science, fine and gross motor skills.

Our favorites turned out to be simple to set up and clean up (with a couple exceptions) and required minimal preparation on my part. Oh yeah, and they were virtually free. 

Our Top 10 Pinterest wins:

1. Flour, Oil, and Corn Starch Concoctions. Of all the things that can be made with corn starch, our favorite is Oobleck. Oobleck is a substance somewhere between liquid and solid. Maya was hesitant to touch it at first because it looks a lot like The Blob, but, once she started, she spent at least an hour exploring all she could do with it. I also enjoyed making playdough as much as Maya liked playing with it. She has cut it with cookie cutters, built snowmen, made letters and numbers, rolled out snakes, and so much more.

2. Vinegar and Baking Soda Experiments. Our two favorites using these simple household ingredients were Balloon Science and Erupting Candy Cane Science. The erupting candy cane experiment seriously filled an hour and a half. I put the baking soda on a cookie sheet and took it outside, so clean up was pretty easy. When she got bored of putting tiny droplets on the baking soda, she decided to dump a cup of it on top and watch it "explode."

3. Toilet Paper Roll, Paper Plate, and Egg Carton Crafts. Toilet paper rolls make excellent bats, owls, bird feeders, turkeys, rockets, butterflies, castles, bunnies, peacocks, caterpillars; even stamps! Paper plates can be cut to make butterflies, folded to make owls, or rearranged to make angels. We've made plates into ladybugs, moons, planets, daffodils, hats, pumpkins, spiders, and more. I've cut up empty egg cartons into a variety of shapes to make snow people, bats, monsters, chickens, mushrooms, caterpillars, flowers. The options are boundless.

4. Cotton Swabs. Cotton swabs were particularly helpful for developing her fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Last Halloween, we made a cotton swab skeleton. Cotton swabs and paint made for some lovely fall trees, as well. Pinterest has a lot of others. Simply put in the search terms "cotton swab" or "qtip."

5. Homemade Paints: Bath, Body, and Finger. Maya loves to paint and goes through it like candy on Halloween. The fact that at least half of it ends up on her instead of the paper prompted me to learn how to make my own. It's really quite simple, and, if you are averse to using food coloring, you can even make your own natural paint colors using your spice cabinet.

6. Indoor Bean Bag Toss. This is an excellent gross motor activity. All you need is painter's tape (or something similar), a couple of Ziploc bags filled with dry beans or rice and tightly sealed, and the energy of a child. When Maya got tired of tossing the bean bags, she decided to use this as a shape sorter.

7. Cardboard Box Building. We used cardboard boxes to make a rocket ship, a doll house modeled after this one and put together like this box village, a car wash, and a castle. The most work for me was cutting holes in the boxes since kids' scissors won't do the trick, but otherwise, she entertained herself for hours with these creations.

8. Color Wheel Hunt. Here's a new use for construction paper: Get a sheet of each color and place them in a large circle on the floor. Have your kids search for items around the house, especially their toys, and organize them according to color.

9. Stained Glass Art. I always have leftover wrapping accessories lying around. For this project, you just tear up various colors of tissue paper and glue them on waxed paper to create a pretty window display. What kid doesn't like tearing up paper?

10. Penny Experiment with Water. This one isn't technically free (ha ha), but I'm betting you can find some pennies on a nearby sidewalk if you don't have any in your piggy bank. You'll also need an eyedropper and some water. Kids add droplets of water to the top of the penny one at a time and sit back in awe as they create a mini snow globe. Take the experiment up a notch by testing other liquids like oil or milk.

My #1 Pinterest Fail:

Melted Crayon Art. This is Austin, right? Home of the 100+ degree summers? You can understand why I thought this would be a good idea, but, unfortunately, it did not work. I'm not sure what I did wrong, but I ended up with scorched, not melted, crayons that ended up in the trash can. If you figure out how to do this successfully, please let me know.

Dawn M. Ambuehl-Sadek is a work-at-home mom of two girls: Maya, age 5 and Lila, 9 months. She has been writing in various mediums since she was in elementary school, including poetry, short stories, newsletter articles, and business writing. She currently serves as a teaching artist with Badgerdog and authors a blog focused on parenting and poetry.


ImprovEd Shakespeare Presents Henry IV

Join a troupe of youth players from the ImprovEd Shakespeare Company as they share the story of Prince Harry before he became Henry IV. Filled with breathless stage fights, clown-like antics and one irate kid, this unique adaptation of the Bard of Avon’s famous history play, Henry IV (Part 1), is a perfect introduction to Shakespeare for kids. 

The play lasts less than an hour and will be performed at the following locations:

Sunday, November 9, 2014, from 2-3 p.m.
Faulk Central Library
800 Guadalupe St., Austin, Texas

(Pre-show at 5 p.m.)
George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center
1165 Angelina St, Austin, Texas 78702

Saturday, November 22, 2014, from 3-4 p.m.*
Carver Branch, 1161 Angelina St., Austin, Texas 78702
*The presentation on November 22 will be in conjunction with the East Austin Studio Tour.

Sunday, November 23, 2014, from 11 a.m. - noon.
HOPE Farmers Market
412 Comal St, Austin, Texas 78702

All performances are free and open to the public. For more information, visit ImprovEd Shakespeare on Facebook


Torchy's Coming to Mueller: Free Breakfast Tacos on Opening Day

Torchy’s Tacos is set to open a 27th location on Thursday, November 20, 2014. The new store is located at 1801 E. 51st, near Berkman Drive, in the Mueller District. 

Torchy’s fans can look forward to enjoying the location on Wednesday, November 19th with free tacos and libations. Between 6-9 p.m., each guest may enjoy two complimentary tacos and two drinks of choice. Torchy’s full bar will offer wine, rotating draft beer, and signature cocktails.

For grand opening day on Thursday, November 20th, Torchy’s will be offering free breakfast tacos. Beginning at 7 a.m. through 10 a.m., visitors can receive one free breakfast item of their choice as either a dine-in or to-go meal.

For more information regarding the new Austin location, please visit Torchy’s website at www.torchystacos.com. Be sure to check for updates in November, as sometimes grand opening dates are pushed back.

Torchy's Tacos
1801 E. 51st
Austin, Texas


2014 Halloween Candy Buy Back Program

 Tuesday, October 28, 2014

If your children end up with too much candy this Halloween, and you want to swiftly remove it from the house, consider taking part in the Halloween Candy Buy Back Program. Participating area dentists will buy back Halloween candy from neighborhood children, then send it to the troops overseas as part of Operation Gratitude.

Operation Gratitude annually sends more than 100,000 care packages, filled with snacks, toiletries, entertainment, hand-made items and letters of appreciation. The mission of Operation Gratitude is to lift the morale of and express appreciation for our military and their families.

Austin area dentists participating in the Halloween Candy Buy Back Program include:

Austin Laser Dentist

11615 Angus Rd, Ste 101
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 346-4690 

November 3 - 7, 2014 (Monday - Wednesday, from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Thursday, from 7:30 a.m. - Noon; and Friday, from 8:00 a.m. - Noon). Kids can fill up a Halloween bucket with their candy and exchange it for $1 - $5.

Avery Ranch Dental
15004 Avery Ranch Blvd, Bldg A, Ste 100
Austin, TX 78717
(512) 246-7645

Monday, November 3, 2014, from 3-6:00 p.m. Each child will receive $1 for every pound they donate (up to 5 lbs.) and a goodie bag. Their names will also be entered into a drawing to win a kids Sonicare toothbrush.

Buda Dental Professionals (Buda)
220 Main Street
Buda, TX 78610
(512) 295-5555

Saturday, November 1, 2014, from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Kids are invited to sell their candy for $1/lb and participate in hands-on science experiments at the BDP Kids Learning Lab.

Drs. Becher & Rangwala’s Office
4464 Frontier Trail
Austin, TX 78745
(512) 444-6057

November 3-6, 2014, (Monday and Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday from 7:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.) Kids are invited to sell their candy for $1/lb.

Family Tree Dental Group
5310 Burnet Rd, Ste 108
Austin, TX 78756
(512) 458-5999

Friday, October 31, 2014, from 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.; Monday, November 3, 2014, from Noon - 6:00 p.m; and Tuesday, November 4, 2014 from 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Kids can sell candy for $1/lb, up to 5 lbs, or they can choose from prizes like spin brushes. There will be construction paper available for children to make cards for the troops.

Family Tree Dental Group (Round Rock)
200 N Red Bud Ln
Round Rock, TX 78664
(512) 310-5999

November 3-4, 2014, from 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m and November 5-6, 2014, from 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Kids can sell candy for $1/lb, up to 5 lbs, or they can choose from prizes like spin brushes. There will be construction paper available for children to make cards for the troops.

Georgetown Pediatric Dentistry (Georgetown)
4507 Williams Dr
Georgetown, TX 78633
(512) 869-4100

November 3 - 6, 2014 (Monday & Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.; Tuesday & Thursday from 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.). Kids can sell candy for $1/lb up to 5 lbs.

Hodgkins Orthodontics (Cedar Park)
2515 S Lakeline Blvd.
Cedar Park, TX 78613
(512) 331-1419 

Monday, November 3, 2014, from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Kids
 are invited to sell candy for $1/lb, up to 5 lbs.

Jensen Pediatric Dentistry
3801 Bee Cave Rd, Ste 120
Austin, TX 78746
(512) 433-6633

November 3-5, 2014, from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Kids are invited to sell their candy for $1/lb.

Kaleidoscope Toys (Round Rock)
110 North IH35, Ste 375
Round Rock TX 78681
(512) 388-5048

November 1, from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and November 2, from 12-5:00 p.m. Kids will get $1 in KaleidoBucks for every lb of candy donated. KaleidoBucks are worth $1 each on any purchase in the store. 

Kids Dental Smiles (Cedar Park)
601 E Whitestone Blvd, Ste 400
Cedar Park, TX 78613
(512) 259-2331

November 3-7, 2014, from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Kids are invited to sell their unopened candy for $1/lb (maximum of 10 lbs).

Kids Dental Smiles (Pflugerville)
1512 Town Center Dr, #750
Pflugerville, TX 78660
(512) 251-9100

November 3-7, 2014, from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Kids are invited to sell their unopened candy for $1/lb (maximum of 10 lbs).

Leander Pediatric Dentistry (Leander)
903 Old Bagdad Rd
Leander, TX 78641
(512) 337-6499

November 3, from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. and from 3-5:00 p.m. Kids are invited to sell their unopened candy for $1/lb (maximum of 5 lbs).

Little Hippos Pediatric Dentistry
409 W Front St, Ste 250
Hutto, TX 78634
(512) 642-6109

November 3-7, 2014, from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Kids are invited to sell their unopened candy for $1/lb.

Sage Dentistry
11420 Bee Cave Rd, Ste B150
Austin, TX 78738
(512) 263-8500

Monday, November 3, 2014, from 2-4:00 p.m. Kids are invited to sell candy for $1/lb.

Tomasik Family Dental (Bee Cave)
13917 W Hwy 71
Bee Cave, TX 78738
(512) 402-1818

Monday, November 3, 2014, from 3-5:00 p.m. Kids 
are invited to sell candy for $1/lb, up to 5 lbs. There will be fun drawings and prizes for the adults too.

Vista Ridge Family Dentistry (Cedar Park)
920 N Vista Ridge Blvd #700
Cedar Park, TX 78613
(512) 402-7885

Monday, November 3, 2014, from 4-6:00 p.m. Kids can sell candy for $2/lb, up to 5 lbs. There will be goodie bags, beverages, snacks, and an afternoon full of fun. Come dressed in your costumes.

For more information or to find a participating location near you, visit HalloweenCandyBuyBack.com.


Fable Fest in Cedar Park

The Cedar Park Public Library Foundation will present the 6th Annual Fable Fest on Saturday, November 1, 2014, from noon to 6 p.m., in Elizabeth Milburn Park. 

This one-day event offers a showcase of drama, music, art, and storytelling. Funds raised from the event’s sponsors, vendors and activities will benefit the Cedar Park Public Library. 

Admission to Fable Fest is free, but various activities at the event require tickets, which can be purchased onsite. Free entertainment will include musical performances, jousting, archery and fencing demonstrations, and more. Costumes are encouraged!

Attractions and entertainment at this year’s Fable Fest include: 

  • The King's Carnival, with games for kids of all ages 
  • The Royal Academy, home to demonstrations of Jousting, Archery, Fencing and other Kingdom sports
  • The Troubadours Court, with performances by area schools as well as professionals
  • Arts and crafts
  • Inflatables 
  • Petting zoo and pony rides 
  • The Cobblestone Market, with a variety of vendors and area merchants
  • The Pig’s Pub, featuring local food vendors Thomas' Gourmet Hot Dogs, Austin's Pizza, Menchies Frozen Yogurt, TBC Foods, Highlights Gametime Grill, Bob and Mike's Chicken, Kiwanis of Cedar Park and Krazy Kettle Korn 

  • 12:15 p.m. - Pied Piper Costume Parade 
  • 12:30 p.m. - Flash mob
  • 1:00 p.m. - Running Brushy performance
  • 1:30 p.m. - Court Jester Talent Show
  • 2:00 p.m. - Musical performance by Band of the Hills
  • 3:15 p.m. - Vista Ridge performance
  • 4:00 p.m. - Karate demonstration
  • 5:00 p.m. - The James Fosler Band
For more information, visit the Fable Fest website or Facebook page. To see a video ad for Fable Fest, click here.

Elizabeth Milburn Park
1901 Sun Chase Blvd
Cedar Park, Texas


Giveaway: Tickets to BabyEarth's BabyU

BabyEarth — Round Rock's one-stop baby store offering high-quality products, many of which are organic and/or environmentally friendly — will once again host BabyU, and we have tickets for two couples to attend for free!

What is BabyU? It's Baby University, an event that's perfect for new and expectant parents. Held at the BabyEarth store on Saturday, November 15, 2014 from 9 AM – 3 PM, BabyU offers a full day of educational seminars and interactive Q&A to help you prepare for your bundle of joy!

Parents will gain a tremendous amount of information in seminars on topics like Creating Your Birth Plan, Infant Safety, Coping With Postpartum Depression, Breastfeeding and Homemade Baby Food. Also, a variety of vendors will be present for you to browse and ask even m
ore questions!

All moms will receive a free gift bag valued at well over the $20 admission price — and the first 25 people to register will receive their goodies in a beautiful tote bag by Bebe Au Lait in the new Santorini print!

Breakfast and lunch will be served at the event, and there will also be a raffle, with prizes given out at the very end of the day (you must be present to win). The GRAND PRIZE will be the Xplory stroller by STOKKE (valued at $1,100)!!

Event Schedule:
  • 9 – 9:30 AM: Doors open, breakfast served, mingle with vendors
  • 9:30 – 10 AM: Breastfeeding 101 (Back Room)
  • 9:30 – 10 AM: Introducing Baby Sign Language (Sales Floor)
  • 10:15 – 11 AM: Coping with Postpartum Depression (Back Room)
  • 10:15 – 11 AM: Cloth Diapering 101 (Sales Floor)
  • 11:15 – Noon: Creating A Birth Plan (Back Room)
  • 11:15 – Noon: Making Homemade Baby Food (Sales Floor)
  • Noon – 12:30 PM: Lunch served and mingle with vendors
  • 12:30 – 1:15 PM: Newborn Safety (Back Room)
  • 1:30 – 2:15 PM: Baby Sleep Solutions (Back Room)
  • 2:30 PM: RAFFLE & PRIZES!!
Vendors that will be present at BabyU include:
  • The Honest Company
  • Partners in Parenting
  • Stork Maternity Consulting
  • Ashley Simons Photography
  • Stokke
  • March of Dimes
  • Taste & See Healthy Baby Food
  • Mama Peace Wellness & Recovery
  • UpSpring Baby
  • doTerra Essential Oils
  • The Signing Connection
  • Baby Boot Camp
  • Crane USA
  • Pregnancy & Postpartum Health Alliance
  • Hill Country Placentas
Round Rock, TX 78664

For more information:
Ph. 512-600-7050
Email: events@babyearth.com

To enter our BabyU ticket giveaway, simply fill out the form below. By submitting the form, you are agreeing to the Sweepstakes Official Rules. Two winners will be selected at random on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, and contacted by email.

If you cannot see the form below, please visit the original post to enter.

Catherine A. Morris is a romance novelist and freelance writer as well as a once-and-future teacher, musician, jogger and triathlete living in southwest Austin, Texas. Yes, many of her former passions and pastimes have given way, at least for now, to her current, main passion and pastime: caring for her two toddlers, Pearl and Zephyr. Pearl and Zeph make Catherine and her husband laugh (and cry) on a daily basis, and give Catherine plenty of good reasons to seek out free, fun activities to keep everyone alive, engaged and happy from one moment to the next.

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