Kristine, Author at Loanables

About Kristine

Kristine is an entrepreneur and business consultant. She invented a handy little gadget called My Bag Belt and uses her creative thinking to help other small businesses through their unique marketing challenges.


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Venue Spotlight: Volente Beach

Meet Kara & Adam

Volente Beach Wedding Sunset

Volente Beach Wedding Sunset

Kara & Adam Weedman’s diverse backgrounds make them the perfect pair for shining up Volente Beach Resort & Waterpark, the only beach and waterpark on Lake Travis. Their idea to bring this hidden gem into the spotlight for events large and small began not long ago, but it seems like every twist and turn in life has been preparing them to create this perfect escape outside of the hustle and bustle of typical Austin city life. Kara first enjoyed Volente Beach with her kids during long summer days while Adam was working on his software startup. But that’s getting too far ahead.

You must first know that Kara earned her degree in Hospitality Management and worked several years at Westin Hotels prior to relocating to Austin for Adam’s job and to start their family. While raising their 3 children, her love of real estate grew, as did Kara’s experience in remodeling older properties through a series of new builds and renovations they completed over the years. During their “motivational tours” a.k.a. Sunday afternoon drives, Kara & Adam talked about one day owning land and building a home out in the quaint town of Volente, but as Kara said “Never in a million years would I have thought we would one day own Volente Beach!”

Through subsequent real estate investments, the Weedmans became familiar with the owner of the 1950s cottages across from Volente Beach and let her know that when she was ready to sell, they would love the opportunity to purchase the properties. Their vision was to remodel the historic homes and turn them into vacation rentals which are surprisingly lacking in the small, lakeside community. As it so happened, when the opportunity arose, they took it, purchased the cottages and celebrated with lunch at the cafe across the street. Kara explains that as fate would have it, that is where they learned that Volente Beach was on the market and available for purchase. The dove right in along with their long time friends and now business partners John & Gala Lyne, who also have extensive experience in remodeling and flipping homes.

Adam’s career has also perfectly prepared him for management of Volente Beach. His sales and business experience in restaurants, insurance, music venues and tech have all contributed to his business & marketing acumen. His most recent company, Affiniscape, was sold to a private equity company in 2012. Now Adam is utilizing his knowledge and experience to get Volente Beach positioned for growth as a well-known event venue in the Austin area. 

Volente Beach

Volente Beach Tent & Lounge

Volente Beach Tent & Lounge

Adam describes Volente Beach as one of the most unique properties in the U.S. “A lakeside waterpark that uses lake water to provide an awesome setting cannot be duplicated today. With great food, cold drinks, awesome sunsets, live music and lots of activities, Volente is a gem just minutes outside of Austin.” And we agree. There are so many groups that could enjoy Volente Beach along with the cottages, water park and Beachside Billy’s restaurant. They have hosted corporate events, family reunions, school outings, weddings and birthday parties for all ages. Activities include boat and jet ski rentals, multiple bars, waterslides, pools and plenty of games.

Volente Beach Pavilion

Volente Beach Pavilion

The Details

May through September Volente Beach functions as a waterpark for family fun on hot summer days. Fabulous special events like the Alamo’s Jaws movie screening this past summer make for fantastic summer night fun. However, October through April, it is also now open as a venue for all types of events from corporate gatherings, adult & child birthday parties and live music festivals. Beachside Billy’s caters with a variety of cuisine offerings or customers can bring in food trucks.

Volente Beach Pool Cocktails

Volente Beach Pool Cocktails

Volente Beach has numerous areas available for events and parties. The hillside area is perfect for lawn activities, petting zoos, music festivals and other live entertainment. When maximum shade is required, there is a 3,000 sq. ft. pavilion with a stage that makes it ideal for dancing and a full party set up. The sandy lakefront beach provides a stunning location for a fall or spring wedding and can accommodate up to 1500 guests! There is a picnic area surrounded by large oak trees providing lovely shade in a natural setting. Cocktail tables can be set up around the pool deck with floating candles in the pool for a romantic evening event. And last but not least, Ritaville, the most rented area, has access to Blu’s Bar and the most beautiful views on the property. Recently installed string lights providing perfect evening ambiance for adult birthdays and smaller corporate groups.

Volente Beach Ritaville

Volente Beach Ritaville

Pricing is affordable and being just outside of Austin city limits means there is more flexibility for special requests. Think outside the box for unique and fun ideas for your next event at Volente Beach. And you can feel great supporting local business owners Kara & Adam as they shine up this hidden gem.

Volente Beach Wedding

Volente Beach Wedding

Venue Spotlight: Sanctuary Event Space

The Vision

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Gandhi

Appetizer Buffet

Upon entering Sanctuary Event Space it is clear that this venue is truly unique to Austin. As described by Director of Events, Jessica Ryan, it is an urban sanctuary with a secret garden appeal. Huge oak trees fill the property creating a tree canopy which provides shade throughout the entire venue. String lights are strewn throughout the property, creating a romantic glow and mixed level terraces provide for a variety of seating arrangements. However, it is not just the natural beauty and ambiance that makes an event at Sanctuary most beautiful and meaningful. Its owners and customers are truly passionate about the purpose behind the event space.

Tablescape in Sanctuary Event Space

The Sanctuary Event Space is predominately a wedding venue, rented out for events on the weekend. During the week, the space is used by the Amala Foundation and home of Sanctuary Yoga. Both the venue rentals and Sanctuary Yoga classes are a means to raise funds for the Amala Foundation non profit organization. Founded by Vanessa Stone, The Amala Foundation has a mission to unite, serve and grow youth all around the world through social emotional learning programs such as youth summits, camps and leadership training opportunities. They are focused on “Inspiring people to grow as individuals and leaders in service to humanity.” Jessica explains that the customers who rent this space are a huge part of the reason she loves working there. Often social workers, teachers, and non-profit workers, they reflect the mission of the organization in their everyday work and care that their money goes to support a worthwhile cause.

Venue Details

Sanctuary Event Space Layout

Outside ceremony seating can be quickly transformed to seat up to 150 guests in the terraced seating areas with the use of either round or rectangle tables. Sanctuary Event Space provides a Ceremony Arbor with lush green jasmine vines that bloom fragrant flowers in April and May. There is a quaint house in the center of the space to stage catering and buffet-style food service in addition to the two-story house toward the back that provides an area for live music and dancing. Upstairs is a quiet Tree Top Loft with a beautiful bird’s eye view over the property, which is ideal for couple’s photos or setting up a sweetheart table for a private romantic dinner. The interior space includes a living room with space for hair and makeup and getting-ready photos, a second kitchen, bedroom, and private bathroom.

Sanctuary Event Space with Buildings

There are a multitude of Airbnb properties within minutes of the property and downtown hotels are a mere 7 minutes away so that guests can stay nearby the venue and benefit from ride-sharing to arrive home quickly and safely after the evening’s festivities. Fun note! Because Sanctuary is in a residential area all events must end by 10pm but The Highball and Gibson Street Bar are right across the street and provide amazing after-party libations so your guests can continue late into the night.

Bar Setup

Vendors

Sanctuary Event Space is open to working with new vendors, allowing food trucks parked in front of the venue and customer’s choice for various event providers in most cases. An impressive team of vendors pulled together this styled shoot at the fabulous Sanctuary Event Space.

Place Settings

Event Planner: Jessica Ryan, 3 of Cups. In addition to being the Director of Events at Sanctuary Event Space, Jessica owns a boutique wedding and event planning company, 3 of Cups. She offers collaborative planning, in addition to on-site coordination services. Jessica is passionate about wedding planning. Her approach to working with her clients is personal. She and her rock star team are very well accomplished with 5 years of experience, published styled shoots, and all 5-star rave reviews. You can find 3 of Cups listed on the Preferred Vendor List at local Austin and Hill Country Wedding venues.

Sanctuary Event Space Oaks

Photographer: Lee Hardin, Hardin Photography. Lee has an incredible gift for telling a story and capturing the moments that make up your fairytale. As an Austin native, she grew up loving photography and eventually fell in love with the wedding industry in particular. She loves capturing each chapter of your story from the proposal, to the bridal portraits, to the wedding festivities and eventually the newborn and family photos! She provides a personalized experience, and is proud to say her clients are her friends that allow her to continue to photograph their journeys as their families grow into the future.

Place Setting

Event Florals & Linens: Fabian Salcedo, Monarch Event Rentals. Monarch has a new in-house floral division led by the talented Fabian Salcedo who has worked with the likes of David Tutera and other great event professionals. They provide bouquets, wedding party florals, wedding design and event design for all types of corporate or private events and as one of our rental partners, Monarch’s rental inventory can be reserved through Loanables website.

Florals Table Linen and Charcuterie Buffet
Let us know your favorite event space or vendors so we can feature them in an upcoming blog in this Spotlight Series!

Floral Arrangements

 

Meet Leigh Stein: Scout & Cellar Clean-Crafted Wine

Meet Leigh SteinLeigh Stein

If you don’t know Leigh Stein, please allow me the pleasure of introducing you. Leigh is vibrant and joyful, yet exudes a calm and collected vibe that makes her almost mysterious. She is super-friendly, while slightly reserved and very thoughtful. She has a Turquoise Table in her front yard and if you know about that movement, you know that means you are wanted in her home. She and her husband, Tony, have intentionally curated their home to allow for entertaining and welcoming guests.

Turquoise Table

A native Texan, Leigh was born in Dallas, attended UT, did a stint in New York and then came back to Austin where she met her husband and has lived for the last 14 years. Before she had kids, she worked in sales in stock photography, ultimately for Getty Images. She loved the business side of her work but also loved the creative outlet that photography brought to her life.

The last few years have kept her busy with her three kids, two of whom are in elementary school and one who is in preschool. They love enjoying all the outdoors activities that Austin has to offer, including hiking the greenbelt, visiting nearby watering holes, and attending UT football games. When it’s too hot to be outside they like to spend family time at indoor climbing gyms and trips to the Thinkery. They are faithful attendees of ACL, both before kids and now enjoying the addition of Austin Kiddie Limits with their kids. A favorite date night for her and her husband is trying out a new restaurant in Austin’s ever-evolving food scene followed by a concert at ACL Live at The Moody Theater.

Scout & Cellar Clean-Crafted Wine

Wine and Appetizers

Leigh was drawn to Scout & Cellar through her personal experience with wine headaches and the pleasant surprise that she truly felt better after drinking a clean-crafted wine. She now enjoys representing the company through wine tastings and parties.

Scout & Cellar was founded by Sarah Shadonix as a solution to her personal frustration of getting headaches the morning after having a glass of wine. Funny that she noticed this, in particular, while she was studying for her sommelier exams. When she dug into the research, she found that hundreds of chemical additives can be included in a seemingly simple bottle of wine and she made it her mission to find a healthier option.

Once she had determined that she could deliver a better, clean-crafted wine through a continuous hunt of wineries committed to following a clean-crafted process, Sarah launched Scout & Cellar Clean-Crafted Wine. To be considered “clean-crafted” it necessary to follow many strict guidelines some of which include zero added chemicals (of the 250 approved FDA additives), zero added sugar, and low sulfites (less than 50 ppm). They also emphasize the importance of wine production as an art rather than with a mass-produced process. They require that vines are tended by people, not machines, and slow crafted with a flavor that is “wildly delicious and always distinctive year after year like nature intended.”

August Giveaway

Leigh is generously giving away 4 BOTTLES of her favorite clean-crafted wines to one lucky Loanables winner! Here are the bottles she has selected:

Wine Bottle Basket

  1. NV Maysara Sparkling Pinot Noir Rose: This vegan, biodynamic, 100% Pinor Noir wine is from Willamette Valley, Oregon. Pairs well with meat, fish, spicy hot chicken wings or any festive party food.
  2. 2016 Wildmakers Lirio Garnacha: This vegan, organic, 100% Grenache wine is from Mauley Valle, Chile. Pairs well with poultry, pork, BBQ (brisket tacos!) or seafood (fish tacos!)
  3. 2017 Caecus Joven: This vegan, organic 90% Tempranillo/10% Granache wine is from Rioja Alavesa, Spain. Pairs well with meats, strong cheeses, ripe green olives and Mexican food.
  4. 2016 Domaine Des Guyons Murmure Cabernet Franc: This vegan organic 100% Cabernet Franc wine is from Saumur, Loire Valley, France. Pairs well with beef, pork, game, poultry and mild and soft cheese. Envision a dinner party starting with cheese and crackers, moving to grilled chicken or steak, and ending with chocolate!

To enter, head over to our Instagram post HERE and follow the instructions!

Deadline for entry is September 3, 2018. Check out the fine print Contest Rules and, of course, winner must be 21 or over. Good luck!

Top Tips For Throwing a High Tea Party

The beginnings of the tradition of High Tea in British society is a bit disputed. According to a few sources, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is due the credit for the creation of this late afternoon meal accompanied by a pot of tea. What is less sure is if she began it simply as a fashionable social time for ladies while men were finishing up their afternoon business discussions, or as a means to make it through until the late evening dinner, as she called the 3-4 o’clock hour the time when “that sinking feeling” came on, requiring a little pick-me-up. The Carrington Hotel in Australia, says that high tea was actually a working mans meal taken standing or sitting on stools at high tables, hence the name “high” tea, and eventually became adopted by Ladies and Gentleman of society for social enjoyment before attending evening events around town at places like the theater. Whichever the true source, we know it sure makes for a fun theme for a bridal or baby shower, or even a fundraising event like Ballet Austin Guild’s annual tradition.

One of our favorite customers, Charlene Sigler, just hosted her second bridal shower with a tea party theme. She gave us some tips along with some fabulous photos of the event so that you can easily recreate your own tea party, true to English tradition. And, of course, events like these are so much easier (and MORE FUN!) when you work with a team, so a round of joyous applause also goes to fellow hostesses Margaret Garcia, Cathy, Amanda and Mary King, as well as Terese and Jennifer Sigler. You ladies truly outdid yourselves!

The Planning: Source Authentic English Tea Cups & Saucers and Reserve Your Rentals

Charlene’s mother-in-law has an English friend named Margaret, who helped with the shower, and authenticity is important to for the event. So, a few months in advance of the tea, they begin collecting tea cups, saucers and tea pots from estate sales. Nothing “made in China” would do. Only items made in England because, as a special treat, guests got to take home their tea cup and saucer as a treasured memory from the event. Next, Charlene found Loanables to help secure the rentals needed. They decided on 36″ round bistro tables with four fruitwood folding chairs per table. The tables were decorated with burlap underlay, a rose/floral print middle cloth and topped with a lace table cloth to accent the luxurious table settings, complete with tulle & flower ball centerpieces, sugar & cream servers and tea pot charms around each napkin. So romantic!

The Menu: Homemade Sandwiches, Finger Foods & Desserts with English Tetley Tea

Homemade sandwiches and sweets make for an incredibly personal event and truly wow your guests. Charlene’s team truly outdid themselves with the spread they offered. Classic Cream Cheese & Cucumber sandwiches along with Chicken Salad, British Corned Beef with Butter and Ham & Cheese were displayed on sandwich platters. For even more options look at The Spruce Eats Traditional English Tea Sandwiches for inspiration! For sweets they had fruit scones sliced horizontally to allow guests to butter them in true English style, Lemon Curd Tarts, Teapot-shaped shortbread, Victoria Sponge Cupcakes and cream-filled meringues. Finally, they supplemented with a variety of English sweeties including After Eight Mints, Thornton Truffles, assorted English biscuits and Mark & Spencer Cheese Straws. I think it is safe to say with such an array of choices, no guest left unsatisfied!

 

The largest tea company in the United Kingdom & Canada is Tetley Tea. Charlene points out that the English version of Tetley is different from what we get here in the U.S. so if authenticity is important to you, have a friend from England send it (along with some classic sweets) or find it on British Online Supermarket. Charlene explains that having a few electric kettles along with stove top kettles is helpful for serving hot tea to all guests at one time. Start by pre-heating the water before guests arrive so that serving isn’t delayed. To warm the tea pots, swirl some of the hot water around in each pot before filling with hot water. A few tea bags in each pot, letting them steep 4-5 minutes, makes for a typical strength tea, but simply adjust the number of tea bags for stronger or weaker tea, accordingly to your guests preferences. Keep hot water on throughout the event for quick refill of the pots as they near empty.

The Entertainment: Games & Prizes

Before opening presents, it’s fun for guests to play a few English games. Pass the Parcel is a fun game where a gift wrapped many times is passed around the room from person to person while music plays. When the music stops, the person holding the gift unwraps one layer until the final gift is revealed. To add some fun different questions about or for the guest of honor could be written on each layer, or for more prize winners a few gifts could be placed wrapped inside of each other!

Other fun games are word matching of an English word to it’s American equivalent and Trivia & Tea Type where guests have to match tea descriptions with the correct tea type. Finally, Charlene’s guests enjoyed random door prizes, with numbers given as they entered and drawn every 15-30 minutes throughout the shower. Prizes included tea towels, high end teas, London pillows, aprons, Walkers shortbread, English fudge, china and soaps.

The Attire: Encourage Guests to Wear Fabulous Hats

It can probably be left unsaid that most ladies love an excuse to get glammed up. So, encouraging guests to wear a home made or vintage hat is always a hit! Being dressed up encourages guests to take photos so that they and the guest of honor can enjoy looking back at the event for years to come.

From pre-setting the lovely table arrangements to a special token to honor the memory of the bride’s mother, these hostesses did not miss a chance to delight guests and care for small details to complete the picture. The bride’s mother loved mice so they found a little mouse, decked out in pearls, to place on the bride’s table to pay tribute. And hostesses provided pink bags with tea pot stickers to take home each guest’s tea cup and saucer, along with any prizes they won during the game time.

 

Let us know if you want to try this theme for your next event, we would love to help you make it an authentic, memorable occasion!

3 Steps to the Best Photobooth Experience in Austin

 

Photobooths have become almost standard entertainment at today’s events in Austin. They can be found at school parties, fundraisers, weddings and many corporate events. Want to be sure that your photobooth is a hit with your guests and that they leave with something they will keep? Here are 3 steps to creating the best photobooth experience.

1. Match your Backdrop to your Theme

Antique Castle Doors

Start with the background of your photo. This really sets the stage and should match or at least coordinate with the theme of your event. Is it a school circus-themed carnival? Then a red and white striped backdrop would set the scene perfectly. Here is a fun option on Etsy or make your own with red and white streamers or plastic tables clothes! Is it a princess, fairytale wedding? Perhaps a sparkly tulle or gold sequins would be more appropriate. Most photobooth operators have a backdrop they will bring, and they may even have multiple choices so ask about these options before booking. If your chosen provider doesn’t have something perfect, think outside the box and rent something totally unique like these castle doors we found to use as the backdrop at the Mass Challenge Showcase.

2. Choose Props & Décor with a Story

Next, be sure you will have the appropriate props to inspire your guests and amp up the theme. This may not seem that important to think about because again, most photobooth providers have many choices they will bring with them. However, if you are having a specific themed event, like a roaring 20s party, you may want to have swanky boas, black top hats and fun oversized rings or necklaces to add flair. If you’re having a Mardi Gras event, beads and masks in purple, green and gold will be a much better finishing touch than the typical props.

Keep in mind that too many choices can be overwhelming, so culling down the options provided by your photobooth operator can also be helpful to your guests. Display all of the items that match the color story of your event and then throw in just a few unusual pieces that are sure to get a laugh. This taco hat was a hit at our event!

Additional décor should also be considered. Having a fantastic piece to sit on or stand next to can make the photo completely unique and give guests a story to tell after the event. What about an antique soda machine or a royal throne that has been used in a well-known TV show or movie? Tell your guests the background of the piece and then they will have a story to tell when they share the image on social media or with friends.

3. Incorporate Your Event Logo and Colors

Finally, be sure to plan the photo layout to include your event logo, text and colors on the printed and digital image. Work with your photobooth operator to prepare this in advance so that your guests leave with something to remember your event, company or message. While it is perfectly fine to just use the event title and date, you could also include a call to action or message of gratitude. 

Win a Free Photo Booth Rental

Now that you’re all set on how to prepare for your photo booth, why don’t you enter to win a 2-hour photo booth rental for FREE?! Austintatious Photo Booth is a great affordable photo booth for your wedding, party or corporate event. They come with multiple backdrops, props and will help you prepare your printout to capture the memories for your guests to take home. Last day to enter is 5/26/18 so enter now!

 

Behind the Scenes: Ballet Austin Guild Afternoon Tea

The Ballet Austin 2017-18 season concludes on Mother’s Day weekend with the final performance of Peter Pan. Just two weeks before, Ballet Austin Guild will celebrate with “An Afternoon in Neverland” Sunday Tea at the Driskill Hotel. This annual event sold out last year so don’t delay– gather your mothers, daughters and girlfriends to take part. We spoke with Ballet Austin Guild President, Suzanne Mackowiak to learn more about this year’s event and her passion for supporting Ballet Austin through the Guild.

Meet Suzanne Mackowiak, President of Ballet Austin Guild

Suzanne grew up in a small town in East Texas and given the size and location, there was not consistent access to formal training. Ballet, tap and jazz instructors would move in and out of town leaving gaps for the group of girls who practiced there. Her mother knew that having physical, regimented activity could have huge impact on physical development through experience with Suzanne’s older sister. After carrying her for 10 full months, she was born with a crooked foot. Her mother noticed quickly that regular ballet instruction and practice was working to straighten her foot. Fast forward to Suzanne’s childhood, when instructors were not available in their small East Texas town, the group of mothers would take turns piling all the girls into their cars and carpooling to the nearest large city to keep the ballerinas progressing in their skills.

Suzanne learned grace, discipline and teamwork through her ballet training and credits her mother’s commitment for the adventure they took together, leading to lifelong friendships. One of those friends and her mother attended last year’s Ballet Austin Guild Afternoon Tea and will be attending again this year.

In her day job, Suzanne works at the Capitol focusing on Veterans, military and border security policy. She is busy in and out of session but still maintains time for Ballet Austin Guild as well as participating as an active member of Junior League of Austin. Her husband, Matt, is a political pundit, Chairman of Travis County GOP and founder of Potomac Strategy Group.

Ballet Austin Guild

Ballet Austin Guild is an all-volunteer organization whose purpose is to support Ballet Austin in a variety of ways. They provide educational programming for elementary-aged children through school shows during the Holiday season performances of The Nutcracker, as well as docent services in which Guild members go out to area schools and teach about classical ballet. The Guild is also the largest annual non-governmental donor to Ballet Austin, providing funds for youth scholarships for those who would not otherwise be able to afford classical dance instruction. Read the fascinating story of Orlando Canova, a current Ballet Austin Company Dancer who received a similar scholarship at the School of American Ballet. Without these funds, Ballet Austin would miss out on the opportunity to work with some very talented dancers.

Ballet Austin Guild has an open membership, so you can join and get started anytime by attending a general meeting. They will happily introduce you to the group and find how you want to serve with them. Meetings happen all over town as the membership is spread out. Suzanne has been part of the Guild for about five years, serving as President this year and VP of Fundraising Events in 2016-17. This year’s event, has about 15 members actively involved with a mix of fundraising and planning depending on each member’s interest and talents. Suzanne explained that often people surprise themselves when they get involved, as in the case of one member who said she didn’t want to be responsible for soliciting donations. One day, spur of the moment she asked a business owner if they would donate a pearl necklace and after that one success, knocked down businesses left and right ultimately bringing in thousands of dollars worth of donations for the event. 

Suzanne emphasized that we don’t realize how special it is to have ballet, symphony and opera (the big three) in a city like Austin. It takes funds to keep Ballet Austin among the top companies in the country, so the Guild seeks to raise about $60,000 through the annual event and raises additional funds through managing the Gift Barre at Nutcracker Holiday shows. But the volunteer hours are just as important. Last season, Ballet Austin Guild totaled 5,427 volunteer hours which is the equivalent of 2 full time employees and 1 part time employee. 

An Afternoon in Neverland

The annual tea follows the theme of the final performance of Ballet Austin’s 2017-18 season, an is appropriately named An Afternoon in Neverland. The event will have an open format, providing time to visit with girlfriends or family, to enjoy a traditional tea menu while sipping on tea, juice and champagne. There will also be live music, a photo booth and costumes to entertain guests. This event is appropriate for all ages and families are encouraged to bring multiple generations to enjoy the afternoon together. Goody bags will be available to entertain younger guests and word on the street is there may be some stiff competition to beat out Ann Downing’s family hats from last year! So don’t be shy, go all out and make special memories with those you love. You never know, you just might find this to be your perfect Mother’s Day tradition!

Behind the Scenes: Austin Diaper Bank Bash

Meet Nicole LeFave

The last thing Nicole LeFave needed to do upon her return from maternity leave was to add more responsibility to her plate. She already had a full time job as a civil litigation attorney and now had a newborn baby boy to add to the mix. But she heard through the Austin Bar Association that Austin Diaper Bank was specifically looking for attorneys to join the board of directors, and Nicole was drawn to the opportunity to use her legal skills to give back to the Austin community. As a new mom, she was surprised to learn that diapers are often seen as a luxury for many in the Austin area. How could it be that something so basic and necessary for an infant and young child could also be such a struggle to access? As she learned more, she knew she wanted to get involved to help further the mission of Austin Diaper Bank. When we asked her how she does it all she explained that her type A personality means that she is actually more productive when she has more to do. If there is only a limited time, you just have put your head down and get to work!

One of the needs that became apparent after she joined the board was spearheading the planning of Austin Diaper Bank’s first annual Bash. This event will raise critical funds for continuing the mission of ADB and provide a benchmark for the event’s fundraising goals in future years. Ironically, Nicole had helped planned a special fundraising event at her firm before the courthouse bond election and found it to be both fun and rewarding. So when ADB endeavored to create a first annual fundraising event, Nicole was up for the challenge!

Austin Diaper Bank Bash

This year’s event will take place at the iconic South Congress Hotel on Friday, April 13th. Guests will celebrate with drinks and bites (from the same kitchen that services the hotel’s popular Café No Sé.) The hip and chic vibe of South Congress will be the perfect setting for board members to mingle with guests so they can learn more about the needs in Austin. There will be a great silent auction including unique experiences like a week-long vacation at a home in Idaho and 4 tickets to see Diana Krall at ACL Live. A photobooth and DJ will keep the evening fun and exciting. Grab your tickets here!

Other Ways to Participate

There are many donor & volunteer opportunities with Austin Diaper Bank. Nicole shared that donating diapers is one of the easiest and most needed contributions. Even opened packages are accepted so if your little one has just graduated to the next size, or you didn’t use all of the swim diapers last summer, please send those along. Drop-off locations are all over the city including central places like the Whole Foods parking lot downtown on 6th & Lamar. To maximize your contribution, consider hosting a diaper drive. Nicole asked for diapers in lieu of gifts for her son’s 1st birthday. What a great way to give in an easy way and not acquire extra, unnecessary things for a child who isn’t old enough to appreciate them!

If you want a hands on experience, volunteer to wrap, package and distribute diapers at the warehouse. Nicole’s son, Nathan, had his first volunteer experience in the family-friendly space after Hurricane Harvey hit the gulf coast. With age-appropriate tasks, ADB makes it easy for even the youngest volunteer to make an impact in Austin. Think about the groups you know that look for different opportunities like this. It would be perfect for girl scout troops, a church small group, or a family service project.

And finally, Austin Diaper Bank maintains an Amazon wishlist of specific items of the highest need. Fill up your cart and have them delivered directly to ADB. It doesn’t get any more hassle-free than that.

Grab your tickets for Austin Diaper Bank Bash by clicking the button above! And let us know about the event you are planning so we can feature your organization next.

Meet Fancy Fluff

Fancy Fluff has reinvented that timeless treat we all remember from days at the county fair, school carnival or friend’s birthday party: cotton candy. While classic sugar spinning techniques may not have changed much, the ingredients that comprise the perfect swirl of cotton certainly have. No longer must we accept the refined sugars and artificial flavors from the past, because Jessica Halich has created the same nostalgic feeling with modern ingredients like organic sugar and natural flavors.

And the flavors have certainly received an upgrade. Options like bourbon maple and jalapeno provide a unique tasting opportunity for adults, while classic flavors like strawberry, butterscotch and creamsicle please party-goers of all ages!

Jessica began honing her sugar spinning skills back in high school. It didn’t take long for her become lead spinner, running the cotton candy machine at every school event. But she didn’t take note of the business potential until years later, when she attended a birthday party with her own children. She saw that cotton candy had remained virtually unchanged all those years later, and knew she had an opportunity to modernize the classic treat. Using her business skills and creativity previously directed toward event production, Jessica created Fancy Fluff and now pleases Austin palettes at Mitzavahs, galas and corporate events all year long.

Fancy Fluff has always offered live sugar spinners for your event, creating not just classic cones, but also themed-inspired shapes like Troll hair for birthday parties and bunny shapes for Easter! And now, they’ve added a new way for adults to enjoy this fancy treat. Fancy Fluff now delivers the perfect Friday treat, dropping off 50 tubs of their delectable flavors to enjoy at your office! The total package is $175 and includes delivery in the Austin area. Celebrate the end of the week with some sweet fluffiness!

Want to win a cotton candy office party for yourself? Enter to win here. Your coworkers will thank you!

 

 

 

Spotlight on Austin Events: Meals not to Miss

If there are two meals you don’t want to miss, it’s these two: Swift’s Attic Wild Hog Dinner benefitting Operation Turkey and Lost Pines Nursery Benefit Dinner. Here are the details you need to know!

Wild Hog Dinner at Swift’s Attic

Let’s start with a sustainably-sourced Wild Hog Dinner featuring skilled chefs from WuChow, Eberly and Swift’s Attic. This no rules dinner allows the chefs to make whatever they fancy utilizing wild hog from a sustainable hunt with Michael Moore of River Bottom Trackers. Produce is also sourced from local farms for a true farm-to-table experience.

Who  Brian Tolbert, Executive Director of Operation Turkey, began this dinner series about 5 years ago. His original dinner featured seafood, wild-caught by hand (his hands!) during a fishing trip to Alaska and has continued to feature sustainably sourced proteins.

What  5-course, family-style dinner along with donated wines, tequila and live music performed by Big Britches.

Where  Swift’s Attic, 3rd & Congress

When  Sunday, March 4, 5-9pm, dinner served at 6pm

Why  All proceeds benefit Operation Turkey through which every dollar is used for food or food preparation as the organization is 100% volunteer-operated. Last year, 5,000 volunteers worked from 8am until noon on Thanksgiving Day to provide 8,000 Thanksgiving meals in Austin alone. Countless more were fed through Operation Turkey’s volunteer groups in surrounding Austin areas as well as Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, and outside of Texas in Colorado, Georgia, New Mexico and North Carolina. To learn more about how you can volunteer, sign up for informational emails here.

Pro-tip (from the Hunter)  You get the best meat by sourcing animals from a place where they have the highest quality diet. For example, many hogs can be found feeding on acorns all day long, but the hogs used for this dinner live in wheat fields, producing a much higher quality protein.

Tickets still available for the Wild Hog Dinner here.

Lost Pines Nursery Benefit Dinner

Next, brought to you by a team of acclaimed culinary and botany masters, The Lost Pines Nursery Benefit Dinner at Barr Mansion is an unparalleled opportunity to experience farm-to-table fare with the Farmer-in-Residence, Christian Drake, walking guests through the courses from his unique botanical perspective.

Who  Botanists Christian Drake & Ben McMurray have taken on the task of revitalizing Bastrop’s historic nursery. Chefs Jessica Ximenes of Barr Mansion & Bethany DiBaggio of La Pera have curated and designed the evening’s meal.

What  The Lost Pines Nursery Dinner at Barr Mansion & Artisan Ballroom will feature a prix fixe menu focused on items grown in the nursery. Don’t miss out on the plant auction!

Where  Barr Mansion & Artisan Ballroom 10463 Sprinkle Rd. Austin, TX 78754

When  Wednesday, March 7, 6:30-9:30pm

Why  Be part of revitalizing Lost Pines Nursery while treating yourself to a special evening. The goal of the evening is to raise capital to begin operations and spread awareness of the nursery’s re-opening to serve the Austin area and beyond in Central Texas. Drake & McMurray have a culinary farming focus and are utilizing unique agricultural solutions like special watering techniques and soil-nutrient mixtures that work together to create the highest quality plant. While they are starting with tomatoes, they will broaden the scope to include both exotic and native plants.

Pro-tip (from the Farmer)  Have you ever noticed how some of those tomatoes from the grocery store don’t seem to have much tomato flavor at all? That’s because farms that supply grocery stores over water the plants in order to create the highest yield or poundage. Well, if you stop watering tomatoes as soon as they turn red, you may see a lower yield, but you will have the tastiest tomatoes ever!

Tickets still available for The Lost Table here.

Top 5 Austin Events in March

SXSW dominates the scene in Austin during the month of March, but there are many other local events to get excited about as well! Let’s start it off with something fun for the whole family…

89th ABC Kite Fest March 4

This is one of Austin’s incredible FREE events. Did you know it is the nation’s oldest kite festival? Brought to you by ABC Home and Commercial Services, the day is filled with kite making, kite flying & kite contests! But wait, there’s more! MossFest, a children’s music concert, a fun run and, of course, great food are all staples at this long-standing event. Proceeds from the day are gifted to Communities in Schools of Central Texas and the Moss Pieratt Foundation. What a great reason to get out and enjoy the day at Zilker Park!

SXSW March 9-18

There is so much to do at this year’s SXSW event. From music to emerging tech talks to film and fashion, it is hard to decide what to attend. Here are just a couple of events we are excited about:

BBQ Crash Course: sampling some of Texas’ best barbecue with a chance to meet the pitmasters, at Southbites Trailer Park

AI: Transforming Luxury, Fashion and Beauty: a panel discussion about the future of fashion with AI, at the Four Seasons

Think VC: The Value of Women Investing in Women: a panel discussion about increasing the number of female early stage investors, at the Hilton

Cindy Y. Log (Red Velvet Events): mentor session by one of Austin’s best event planners, at the JW Marriott

Just Press Go: Waymo’s Self-Driving Cars Are Here: CEO John Krafcik shares about the 9 years and 4 million miles that brought the reality of self-driving cars to Arizona and soon to a city near you, at the Austin Convention Center

Rodeo Austin March 10-24

The Travis County Expo Center is home to Rodeo Austin. Two solid weeks are packed with live music, fair games & food and, of course, the rodeo and stock show. Our favorite rodeo pastime is watching Mutton Bustin’ in which aspiring cowboys and cowgirls (ages 6-8) get 6 seconds to hang on to a sheep for dear life! Signups for your son or daughter to participate are already full but you can still enjoy the show and get them mentally prepared for next year.

Cirque Eloize: Saloon March 29-30

This acrobatic comedy has all the components of the perfect western- a lover’s tale, folk music from the likes of Johnny Cash & Patsy Cline and a motley crew with great stories of fortune and folly. See this original western musical on stage at The Long Center. Tickets start at just $29 and the show is appropriate for all ages. Watch a clip of the show here.

Fashion X Austin March 29-April 7

Austin lifestyle expert and designer Katie Kime will be designing the runway for the 10th anniversary of Austin Fashion Week. Catch the main live show on March 29th along with soirees at local stores March 31-April 4. The week long event concludes April 5-7 with nightly runways from designers across the country.

 

Did we miss your favorite March event? Let us know so we can spotlight it!

 

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