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On The Road: From Austin, TX

This week marked my first ever trip to SXSW, Austin and, yes, even Texas. Prior to Wednesday, my United States traveling experience had been missing out on the majority of the Southwest. I am a very nervous flyer (like, one bump in the air leaves me frantically tweeting my last will and testament), but coming down to experience SXSW, our favorite bands and AFTERFEST made the momentary panic totally worthwhile. On my first full day in Austin, we explored as much of the city as we could, made some new (dog) friends and snapped some instant photos along the way. Check out what we did below. Katie

Yellow in Texas

Owner of ADP and Banksy

While exploring over in East Austin, we stopped at Austin Daily Press, a colorful restaurant that serves house-pickled vegetables, house-cured meats, an awesome array of sandwiches and some of the best popsicles I've ever eaten. The best part of ADP, though, might have been Banksy, the owner's giant Great Dane that wanted nothing more than to snuggle up on everyone's laps. The best kind of dog is a dog that doesn't realize how gigantic it is. I wanted to steal him away, never to return again.

The Blank Tapes

While stopped at ADP, we also ran into the very talented (and extremely nice) band The Blank Tapes. As you can see, Pearl, guitarist and singer for the band, is without a doubt the most photogenic person to ever eat a popsicle. While I was sweating on a bench, Pearl and Matt, founder and constant of the band, were pulling off that whole "totally and effortlessly cool" thing without even blinking an eye. It must be the hats. (New goal in life: PULL OFF A HAT.) We can't wait to check these guys out live before we leave.

Another shot of our best friend Banksy at ADP

Railroad and SXSW craziness; Inner shot of Farewell Books

While still over in East Austin, we stopped by Flat Track Coffee to grab some delicious and stroooong iced coffee. After sweating through my cool-guy pleather jacket for hours, it was the perfect place to sit down and relax. Attached to the coffee shop is Farewell Books, a small gallery space and well-curated book store that also sells vinyl, vintage clothing, jewelry and home goods. While I was in there, I saw awesome hand-painted jeans, the greatest magazine selection ever, and skull-inspired jewelry, so basically I wanted to win the lottery and take the entire shop home.

Outside Flat Track Coffee

Castle Hill

Before the end of the day, we also made a quick run to Castle Hill, the GRAFFITI PARADISE of Austin. If there was ever a place made for taking selfies on Instagram, this place is it. While there, we saw some artists working on some epic pieces, as well as the hundreds of pieces that already line the walls. If I had more time in Austin, I would definitely kick it at this place more often. Even the dude in the house next door to the lot yelling "SXSW BITCHES!" at us (followed by a quick, shouted apology from his friend, explaining "he's still drunk") just added to the experience of it all. And lucky for us, we're still here for a couple days, so be sure to check back on the blog to see what else we get up to. Thanks, Austin!

6th Street; Flat Track Coffee

First Person: Snow Day

Is everyone excited for this snow day? I am. Last year's winter was snow-free, so this year I am welcoming all snow with open, parka-clad arms. I am basically that penguin from Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I've come to find that having a snow day in a city is delightful, because it's still possible to go out and do stuff, unlike the 'burbs. Here are some of my surefire tips for having the best snow day ever. Katie

1. A wool John Mayer-y hat is actually fantastic for keeping warm
I found out on Sunday that my wool hat works a lot better at keeping my head dry than one of my beanies. Plus, it doesn't make hair all staticky like beanies seem to. Feeling a little Mayer-hat shame is worth it.

This is my Fraggle Rock face

2. Doc Martens, forever
Docs keep feet roasty toasty in the snow. I wore mine for hours on Sunday, and even stepped in one of those dramatic slush piles that would normally ruin someone's day, but my feet stayed warm and dry. I've had the same Docs for years, too. They are my children. I love them. Everyone on the East Coast should have a go-to pair of Docs.

3. Wander around, because it is an Instagram wonderland out there
The world looks like less of a garbage can on snow days, and it's just asking to have some filters slapped on top of it. Walk around! Even if it's cold, it's peaceful. Plus, there's the added bonus of no one being out, so it's okay to silently ponder the meaning of life while unashamedly eating from a hot dog cart in the snow.

4. The best hot cocoa money can buy
Put the Swiss Miss away and Yelp some local cafes to see who's got the best stuff in town. For anyone in Philly, I highly recommend Plenty Cafe's hot cocoa. Their chocolate syrup is made in-house, and the hot cocoa tastes the way I imagine Willy Wonka's chocolate river tasted to Augustus - delicious.

5. Winter festivals
Sure, they may be chilly, but that doesn't mean they're not fun. Philly has an abundance of winter festivals this season, as do most major cities, so check to see what's going on around you. The Christmas Village in Love Park even sells hot mulled wine, which makes the cold a lot more bearable.