When you want the inside scoop on an upcoming event, it is best to start with the source. We reached out to Kelly Hyde, chair of this year’s Unmasked Gala, and she took a few moments to share her story and the passion behind her involvement with Wonders & Worries.
In college, both Kelly & her husband pursued studies to prepare themselves for careers in medicine. They took the required classes at the University of Texas, studied and passed the MCAT, and began looking into medical schools. Along the way, they decided to prioritize family over having both of them pursue this career, so Kelly made what she now knows was the best decision for balance and happiness through the tough medical training years and decided to focus on raising their children. As it turned out, this decision also allowed her to develop another passion, culinary arts. Kelly was able to hone her skills and make some extra money while her husband went through medical school and residency by catering lunches at physicians’ offices in Galveston and Clear Lake, and when her husband’s fellowship moved them to Lexington, Kentucky, she went on to work as the head cook and baker at the Gift Box Tea Room. Ultimately, they returned to Austin, where Kelly graduated from the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts and provided personal chef services for several families in Westlake. All while raising her four children– talk about a strong, smart and powerful woman!
Kelly first heard about Wonders & Worries through her involvement with the Travis County Medical Alliance (TCMA), a group that helps foster social networks for the families of medical professionals, among other goals. In Kelly’s case, the organization accomplished just that when she found a kindred spirit in Meredith Cooper, co-founder of Wonders & Worries. She has now been involved on the board for two years and has taken on more responsibility by chairing the committee for the 2018 annual event, Unmasked. The gala committee is comprised of both past participants in the organization as well as those who learned about the organization through friends, like Kelly. They meet regularly with the goal of spreading the word, making the plans, divvying up the work and raising funds to support Wonders & Worries.
Kelly shared that Wonders & Worries helps children with parents suffering from any life-threatening illness, not just cancer. One story at this year’s event will feature a mother of four who is a heart transplant patient. This type of situation is of particular interest to Kelly, as her husband is now a practicing heart surgeon. Wonders & Worries provides support and services to these families as a way to help them navigate the unknown journey of a parent facing a life-threatening illness. It offers services free of charge regardless of financial need so that families going through these difficult situations are not given one more decision to weigh based on finances. Kelly explained that parents are often dealing with their own roller coaster of a changing diagnosis and Wonders & Worries equips them with how to explain things to their children, like what it will be like in the hospital. Wonders & Worries provides individual and group sessions, along with family fun events and parent resources.
This year’s gala will help spread awareness to friends, family and physicians but the extra-special surprise of the soiree is being kept tightly under wraps– perhaps you could say, behind the mask. 😉 We do know there will be a fabulous meal complimented by signature cocktails and wine service, an entertaining live auction led by Cowboy Auctioneers, and after-party entertainment including the spinning styles of DJ Gatsby. You’ll have to attend to experience the full unveiling of Unmasked!
Get tickets for the February 23rd event here.
We all love the truly Austin tradition of the festive trees decorated along Highway 360, but those decorations need to be cleaned up now that the holidays are over. 70+ volunteers are needed to join Keep Austin Beautiful from 9-11am on Jan. 6th to restore the natural beauty of this iconic highway. Meet at 7700 N Capital of TX Highway to pick up supplies and meet back at the same location for an appreciation party complete with treats at the end! Volunteers are asked to wear brightly colored clothing and bring a reusable water bottle. Learn more and register on their website.
Each year, Ballet Austin offers a free day of fitness and pilates to celebrate health & wellbeing. Kick start your 2018 goals and try something new like Bollywood Fitness, Pilates Reformer or CardioFUNK. Tons of trial classes and free healthy living presentations will take place between 1-4:30pm on Jan. 14th at their downtown location. Registration is not required but is encouraged to stay informed about event information.
Don’t miss the award winning Broadway musical, Finding Neverland, when it comes to Bass Concert Hall this month! It tells the story behind the beloved character of Peter Pan. For an unique meet & greet experience, join the company members for a free Brown Bag Lunch on Wednesday, Jan. 17th from 11am-noon at the Austin Parks & Recreation Senior Activity Center- Lamar location.
Austin Smiles has been working to create smiles and improve lives for over 30 years in Latin America and the Central Texas region. This year’s annual gala invites you to don your traditional cowboy hat & boots to advance the cause at the UT Alumni Center. Don’t miss the live auction, raffle, live music & more!
Join Stacie & Craig Falls at this year’s Imagine Gala. This annual event benefits the area of greatest need at Dell Children’s Medical Center and includes a cocktail reception, dinner and program. There will be a spectacular live auction and special patient story shared followed by dancing and casino fun!
This month, we’ve teamed up with local, Austin company Hop N Party for a giveaway of a bounce house rental for a full day of fun. We rent a lot of bounce houses through Loanables so we knew our community would love it. What’s not to love? Air it up, add a cake and you’ve got a party!
Last Friday, we met the owners of Hop N Party, David Hieronymus and his dog, Levi, to announce the giveaway on Facebook live. When you get the chance to meet David, you will immediately love him. His military background has clearly impacted the way he runs his business. He and his staff are reliable and responsible. He has a commitment to safety, ensuring that his business is properly insured to serve & protect you and your family on party day. I have rented from him several times – the service is always professional and the bounce house looks brand new (he says he replaces them every 3 years). He has a 5 star rating on yelp after 64 reviews! In this video clip we asked him about that:
During the interview, we fell in love with cute, little Levi. You can hear more about his role at the company here:
Since we love entrepreneurs, we had to ask about how he got started:
And finally here are some quotes from his customers:
All of these reasons are why we chose Hop N Party for our December giveaway. Win a free, full day bounce house rental and your kids will hop through the holidays and into the new year with extra spring in their step! Throw a last-minute holiday office party or add a little bubbly for the adults and celebrate the beginning of the New Year. Or, just make it through the school break by entertaining the kids in the neighborhood for the day. You’ll be the coolest house on the block for sure!
If you haven’t entered our monthly giveaway, of 50,000 hour LED, programmable Holiday lights from a local Austin startup, Brightly, don’t miss out! One lucky winner in Austin will win lights + installation for FREE when we draw TOMORROW! Enter here for your chance to never put up or take down Holiday lights again!
Today, we want to introduce you to Brightly’s founder, Jake & Ryan. Two software geeks who have always wanted to be in business together, and finally found their bright idea. Listen in to how they got started:
What Jake & Ryan are bringing to Austin is truly tech genius meets eco-conscious and budget-friendly! We did the math for you: at a cost of $1199 for a typical one-story roofline with one peak, these 50,000 hour programmable, LED lights used 24/7 for 6 months of the year, these Brightly lights should last over 11 years, bringing the annual cost down to $102.56! How much are your holiday lights costing you to put up and take down? Get Brightly professionally installed and NEVER take them down!
My husband and I have had this ongoing argument for all 14 years of our marriage. How will we decorate for the Holidays? He doesn’t want to climb into the attic to bring down my treasured nativity set or mantle decorations, and he definitely won’t get up on the roof to put up lights. This year, however, I am putting my foot down. I’m going to climb up in the attic if I have to. And we will have lights on the house, one way or another! I’ve looked at the options, and I’ve made my decision. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of what I’ve considered or you can scroll to the end to see my final choice!
Well, this one is definitely off the table because my husband has refused to do it for over a decade already, but if we were considering this, I would look at the cost of outdoor lights, renting a ladder to get the job done, and the time it takes to put up and take down. I’m estimating about $500 to buy the lights and a good 4 hours to put up, maybe 2 to take down? The lights will probably last 2-3 years, right? And then bulbs or strands go bad and have to be replaced so, I’ll average that to $350 and 6 hours every year, which would equal $1,750 and 30 hours over a 5 year period. Make it 8 hours since after pulling the lights out next year we will likely have to make a trip to Home Depot for more supplies. We ALWAYS end up at Home Depot multiple times for one project, don’t you?! That would take us to 40 hours of work and we have to figure out where to store the lights in a manner that allows us to reuse them in our already stuffed garage or attic. Ugh!
I’ve had a couple of friends talk about the cost of hiring someone to do this for us and it sounds outrageous! One quote received was $1500 the first year, and then almost $1000 per year after that (buying the lights from the company and using the same lights that they would store until the next year). And this was just a simple roofline, adding trees or other landscaping added hundreds more! It seems to be more in the $400 range when using the homeowner’s supplied lights or a rate of about $75/hour. This seems like a LOT of money for a few weeks of cheer. And I hate the idea of paying for storage units, which is what a company would have to use to store the lights for my house year after year.
This is what we tried the last few years because my kids really wanted the house to be pretty and colorful. So I ordered two on Amazon to be sure it was enough to cover the full front of our house. It worked and looked lovely, but we had two major problems with these. First, they have to be put pretty far away from the house, depending on the amount of coverage you want. And of course, we wanted to have color on the WHOLE house, so they were inserted in the yard almost to the curb. This required a lovely orange extension cord running across my lawn to the front yard…actually two of them! And that really took away from the look during the day. And second, while they were less than $100, they still seemed to be a bit expensive to leave sitting in the front yard overnight, so we had to bring them in to the garage every night. After a few times of this, they simply didn’t go back out. So they didn’t actually light up our house for the Holiday at all. And they are now stuffed somewhere up in the attic, I’m not sure we could even find them to put out again this year.
Because of Loanables.com, I discovered Brightly, which installs Holiday lights for every day. Check out this video to see them in action! They use 50,000 hour LED lights that can be programmed to display different colors, patterns and even effects like chasing colors and sparkling stars. They are permanently fixed so they don’t have to be put up year after year, and they are very discreet when not turned on so they don’t have to be taken down either.
Since they are already up, Brightly lights can be used for every holiday or event, all year long! I’m thinking the 4th of July in red, white and blue, Halloween can have exploding orange, or my daughter’s 9th birthday can be lit up in chasing pink! At a cost of $1200 for a typical roofline with one peak, over a 5 year period and using them once a month instead of for just one month of the year, that turns into a cost per use of only $20 each time! And of course that cost per use goes lower and lower if you consider they’ll be on pretty much all of fall with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all in a row.
This is way less than the couple hundred (at a minimum) for the other options and provides year-round enjoyment! This seems like a no-brainer because my husband does NOT have to get up on the roof EVER and we will only pay for them ONCE. Since they are on the house permanently, they don’t require any storage throughout the year and are incredibly ecofriendly since they can last so much longer than your average outdoor holiday lights.
Did I mention they are expected to last 50,000 hours! That’s 50,000 hours/ 365 days/ 24 hours per day means that if they were used every minute of every day, they should last for 5.7 years! Since they won’t be used EVERY minute, let’s say I use them every minute of every day for even half of the year, I’m guessing these babies could last me 10 years! For $1200 that is a STEAL! $120/year is WAY less than any of the other options we have looked at.
I think you can tell, I’m really excited about Brightly. And even more so because it is this month’s GIVEAWAY! Yes, YOU can win installation of Brightly for FREE by entering here. And hop on their website to get a free quote for your installation…they are only doing 10 homes in Austin between now and the end of the year and I want one to be MINE!
Lux Limo is providing a killer giveaway this week with 3 hours of transportation in their “party bus on wheels” Mercedes Sprinter 14 Passenger Van. This vehicle is decked out with the latest in entertainment & technology: like multiple TVs with AppleTV, FireTV, DVD, a high-end sound system, mood & pattern lighting, free WiFi and social media capabilities. Bring your own device and plug in your custom playlist to get the party going before you’ve even left home! The refrigerated entertainment bar comes stocked with water, soda & mixers. You won’t want to get out! And one extra special privacy feature: instead of simply tinted windows to darken the image, this vehicle comes equipped with black out shades so there is no way to see from outside in!
Lux Limo offers even more luxury in their full fleet of vehicles designed to serve literally any luxury transportation need.
The Lincoln Limousine is perfect for airport transfers or to add that extra special touch to your wedding send off.
All vehicles come with a dedicated driver who does more than just drive. They take their client’s privacy and safety very seriously and ensure that everyone is having fun and kept safe from the moment they enter the vehicle until they have been delivered to their final location.
Do not miss out on this opportunity to be pampered in the ultimate luxury vehicle for a fantastic night out with your friends! Follow Lux Limo on Facebook & Instagram to keep up with their luxury offering!
There is no better place to celebrate the end of the bachelor era than in Austin, TX. With live music, craft breweries, great barbeque and a myriad of unique activities, no doubt you & your buddies will make it a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Here are 3 themes to consider for an epic bachelor weekend (hint: the last one involves FIRE so read to the end).
If your dates just so happen to align with Austin City Limits Music Festival, Formula 1, or SXSW then you’re definitely in luck for the music loving group! Outdoor music festivals are the perfect way to experience the best Austin has to offer- both in new, up & coming bands as well as your all-time favorites. Make plans for flights, accommodations and ticket purchases well in advance if this is your goal! If you’re heading to Austin on any other week(end) then plan to view a taping of ACL Live or check out do512 for a variety of music performances happening every day, all around town.
No trip to Austin is complete without some Texas barbeque and tastings from the local breweries. Sadly, Franklin BBQ on the East side of Austin is closed until further notice due to a fire earlier this year. But you can still try the la Barbecue or Kerlin BBQ, two food trucks on E. Cesar Chavez. Then check out Zilker Brewing Co. where you can visualize the brewing process and enjoy Dick Clark’s architectural genius. And stop by Hops & Grain while you are on the east side of town for a FREE tour before tasting in the taproom. Finally, don’t miss The ABGB on Oltorf which was awarded the 2016 Great American Beer Festival Brewpub of the Year.
Next, head out west to visit the iconic Salt Lick Barbecue and breathe in some fresh hill country air, flavored with smoke from the BBQ pit. Read about the beginnings of this half-century old establishment and watch Man vs. Food’s favorite feature here. Just a few miles further west you’ll find Twisted X Brewing in Dripping Springs, which specializes in Tex-Mex Beer. Jester King Brewery and Last Stand Brewing Co. are close by to complete your tastings in the rolling hills of Austin’s Hill Country.
For the group that wants to get out, be active and add a flare of competition to everything they do, Austin has some fun & unique experiences to try together. Starting down south of town, the newly opened, The Range at Austin provides the opportunity to hone your skills on the country’s “finest precision shooting range.” It will be great for a crowd of both new & experienced shooters.
Similarly, but in the opposite direction north, near The Domain shopping area, Top Golf Austin, is a unique venue for your group. It provides all the fun of a friendly wager for the longest (or most accurate) drive, while offering easy access to good food & drinks and some relief from Texas’ unbearable heat that you simply can’t get out on the typical country club course! If you haven’t been before, watch this video to get an idea of the experience. They have clubs for you, so you can enjoy without dragging your bag through the airport.
Finally, no bachelor party would be complete without some wild stories to take home. Consider stopping by Stunt Ranch to try your hand at Action Hero Training, Pyro School or even a fun game of Paintball. You can customize your experience with special effects and stunt experts to create an over the top adventure for your crew. Get more ideas from the Stunt Ranch Video Gallery.
No matter what your theme, make sure you’ve planned a couple of low-key, easy activities to enjoy while you’re back chillin’ out at your Airbnb. Loanables.com has a complete Bachelor Party Bundle that turns your house into a party with everything you need have fun in your downtime. Some late-night Beer Pong, Cards Against Humanity and Poker games are surely on the must-do list when you get the chance to get away with the guys.
Love it or hate it, we are now in September and Halloween is right around the corner. The sugar coma which begins Oct. 31st and doesn’t end until Christmas is inevitable, but our wallets don’t have to be emptied quite yet. We’ve got 4 ideas for you to save money and still have a fabulous Halloween costume this year.
We can’t begin a thrifty guide without a DIY option. Make-your-own costumes have been a staple for savvy moms since the beginning of time. This summer, at our church’s vacation bible school, they had Robot Day and kids came decked out in all sorts of homemade costumes crafted from cardboard, paper bags, and aluminum foil. Dryer vents for arms and plastic cups as antenna were popular. These costumes were practically free since the cardboard came out of the recycling bin from our most recent Amazon order and the other supplies were in the pantry. (Most things are available at the Dollar Store too!) Keep it super simple or get really technical depending on your child’s imagination and your resources. There are some awesome instructions here on PagingFunMums if you want the play by play. And, of course, Pinterest is always full of fabulous DIY costume ideas.
Of course, dressing your child in the uniform they already have from their favorite activities is also a great way to save. Going as a ballerina or baseball player allows you to get some additional use out of old performance or game-day outfits. Plus, my kids love to re-live their “glory days” by telling friends and family about the time they were up on stage or hit that homerun!
Many groups in our area hold costume swaps right around this time of year. My kids’ school has a costume swap in just one week so that families can exchange and pass down outfits used for our Pilgrim & Indian Thanksgiving celebration, Renaissance Day and other parties happening this fall. These are perfectly good costumes for Halloween as well.
Also, a local mom’s Facebook group is hosting an online costume swap until October 31. You snap a photo, name your price and list it for other mom’s to buy, while also checking out what is already posted that you can snag for yourself. So check out your online neighborhood group or a mom’s group and if one isn’t already planned, suggest a costume swap and see who else would like to trade for some new threads!
Some moms go all out for things like Halloween, and can even convince their husbands to join in the fun and dress up with the whole family! One such mom has listed ALL of her families past costumes on Loanables.com and they are available to rent for only $5 each!! When someone prides themselves in finding the perfect theme and even holds on to these costumes for years to come, I am astonished, but say “Thank you! I’ll go ahead and rent that…and that…and that!” So I don’t have to work nearly so hard myself!
Hopefully these tips have launched your imagination for inexpensive ways to deck the kids out this year. If you’re inspired to make some money and help another thrifty mom out, dig out those old costumes and post them for rent on Loanables so we can all share and save some cash!
Weddings, birthday parties and holidays often present a challenging question. How do I get all of the gear needed to host the event without blowing my budget and leaving nothing for those special touches that make my event unique? At Loanables.com we want people to spend their money collecting memories and having experiences rather than on acquiring stuff that will sit collecting dust in an attic, or worse yet, cost more money to store for years to come. But, if you like to entertain, it’s possible the cost of owning may eventually even out. So, when it comes to special events, which items should I rent and which should I buy? The answer always depends on how many future uses you expect to get out of the item. We’ve done the math on a few common party items and you can apply the same formula to anything you are considering for purchase or rent.
Kid Table & Chairs
So, I know a family with 5 kids who was committed to doing birthday parties at home because…5 kids=5 kids birthday parties every year. That’s almost every other month! I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, given I grew up in a family with 5 kids too, and at home birthday parties were the norm. Actually, we only got to have a party every 3 years so it wasn’t overwhelming. But, this particular mother of 5 purchased a long, folding kid table and 8 chairs for one of the first parties. She stored it flat against the wall in the garage in between uses but found that once she had it, she pulled it out for even more things like holiday meals and art projects. It cost about $175 to purchase the set, and it is used in their household about a dozen times each year. Assuming the kids fit in the chairs from the ages of about 2-12 years old, that it a cost per use of $1.46 ($175 divided by 10 years of use, divided again by 12 uses per year). To rent these items (1 kid table and 8 chairs) would cost $28. So in this case, purchasing is significantly less expensive than renting. If your situation is different because you host fewer events, the result may also be different.
As a business owner, this is a difficult one for me. A pop-up tent seems to have many uses! I have done the occasional conference exhibit or holiday vendor show, and shade for an outdoor party or other event are key to making it bearable! The question comes down to cost and number of uses. These sorts of tents can vary widely in price. But for a good-quality, 10’x10′ canopy tent that won’t go flying in the wind, they are typically about $60- $100. This 12’x12′ pop-up tent is available to rent for $10 per day. So, it would take 6-10 uses to pay for itself. Thinking about my business, I really only do pop-up shows around the holidays. In fact, I think I did three last year. So, this probably wouldn’t be worth purchasing and storing all year long for those couple of uses. If you regularly show at a Farmer’s Market or other weekly/monthly event, though, your math will look different!
Bouncehouse or Inflatable Waterslide
Nothing completes a 3 year old birthday party more than a giant inflatable in the backyard! However, one thing I know for sure is that owning your own giant inflatable anything is not worth it! I say this, because we have had not one, but TWO in our attic for years. They have each been used only a handful of times. They are heavy and a pain to get in and out of the attic. The water ones need to stay out and dry for quite a bit before being stored. And they are really expensive! Now, they can also be expensive to rent, that’s true, but in comparison to other birthday party options, we think they turn out to be worth it for a special occasion. Your typical bounce house will cost anything from $120-$400 to rent from a company. There are a myriad of options to fit any theme. These cost $800-$2300+ to purchase initially and typically a rental company will include delivery, set up, and removal in their fee. Some of your neighbors may have a home version up in their attic though, so check the Loanables.com inventory to compare rental options from both your neighbors and local companies. Some examples include this Frozen themed bounce house in Houston or this Toddler waterslide in Austin that won’t set you back much at all!
If you have an event coming up or want to do something special for Labor Day in Austin don’t miss your chance to WIN a free rental of an inflatable waterslide and a bunch of other outdoor games like Giant Jenga and a Tug-O-War rope. It would cost almost $700 to purchase all of these items or they could be FREE if you win! Good luck!
Grandma, Lovey, Mimi, Nana, picture this: You just hung up from a conversation with your daughter-in-law during which you agreed to have the grandkids come to your house for “Camp Grandma” while your son and daughter-in-law jet off to Napa for a weekend away. You are so excited to spoil those little angels while the parents are away, but you are left wondering how you can be sure they are comfortable and safe in your house without all of their usual gear. What baby and toddler stuff do they even use these days? And if you buy a bunch of stuff, what will you do with it in between visits, or will they grow out of it before it is ever used again? You want to ensure a safe and happy time for all, but you don’t want to spend a fortune. One new option that wasn’t available in years past is to rent items from neighbors or companies nearby. We find it’s best to rent anything that has a high initial cost, will be cumbersome to store in between visits, or will only be used a few times before they’ve grown out of it. The good news is, with the help of our list, you are only a few clicks away from being fully prepared to enjoy the time together and have everything you need at a fraction of the retail cost.
We hope this list serves as a valuable guide as you prepare for Camp Grandma! But if you’re still overwhelmed, check out our Grandparent Bundle or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a specific bundle custom designed for you! And keep in mind that children care more about the time you spend with them than the things you buy them so #collectmemoriesnotstuff.