Failure & Going Local

It’s November! I’ve (somehow) been shopping locally for 11 months straight. I wanted to write this post because, while shopping with local & woman-owned businesses has been just as dreamy as you’d imagine, failure has also been a part of my journey. I dug through my bank history for the last year and found my moments of weakness so let’s PEEP THEM.

Need to brush up on the rules of Going Local? You can read more about my New Year’s resolution here!

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  1. Gasoline. I take the bus to and from work, so my car doesn’t get a ton of use, but I was never able to find a woman-owned or even a locally owned gas station that I could easily fit into my life. If you don’t know, gas stations are a hard gig to run independently and successfully. I’m happy to explain more if you have any questions!

  2. Steak n Shake. You heard me. It’s been a tough year for a lot of people, myself included. This summer I had Steak n Shake delivered, like, 12 times. Easily. Steak n Shake is a big comfort food for me and I can’t even fathom the number of mint oreo milkshakes I went through.

  3. Glossier. Honestly, I ran out of my Milky Jelly Cleanser and panicked. I’m completely confident that I could find a local & woman-owned skincare option for cleanser. Like, hello, please check out Olive + M if you haven’t yet.

  4. Target. Going to Target one time in eleven months is still an accomplishment, don’t get me wrong! When I moved in September, my mom sent me a Target gift card and I just couldn’t resist. I used the card to buy curtains for my new place and to get a really nice bamboo dish rack (that was on sale!). I wouldn’t even let myself go into the clothing section because I knew I wouldn’t make it out alive.

  5. Overtone. I dye my hair y’all, this one was unavoidable.

    That’s it. There are five businesses that I spent money with that weren’t locally owned. What’s more, I didn’t ever feel like I was missing out on anything.

    Have questions about shopping locally? Looking for suggestions? Just comment below!

Going Local: Two Month Check In

February is over (cue a million people saying "Already?!"). I wanted to take this time to reflect on how my New Year's Resolution is shaping up so far. If you haven't already - check out the original post that details my plan for Going Local in 2018

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All in all, this experience has already been an insanely positive experience for me. Yes, I feel approximately one million times better knowing that my money is going to support the city I love in a lady-powered way. Yes, I am building deeper bonds with the women in my community, which is fueling me in unexpectedly creative ways. Yes, I have seen this challenge impact the people in my life as we all think more about how and where we spend our money. Y'all, I can not explain how much I endorse this lifestyle.

But of course, nothing is perfect. 

Have I spent 45 minutes driving around on my last fumes of gas searching for a gas station that I could even *pretend* was locally-owned, let alone woman-owned? Yes. Have I struggled in my research to support Black Restaurant Week? Yes. But every step so far has been worth it, because being more knowledgeable and responsible with my money is powerful. 

If you have any questions about Going Local, or suggestions for a local gas station (I still have hope!), give us a shout

Staying Warm in Austin: Suggestions for Cold Nights & Hot Drinks

Ahh yes, winter in Austin.  We swear it does happen, even if it's only for 4 weeks of the year.  If you're a constantly chilly person whose worst nightmare is having to hold a cold drink at a bar this weather, then look no further! Below are some of our favorite places to find yummy, hot drinks in the ATX.

We'll be expanding this list all winter long - so be sure to check back in and if you have a suggestion let us know! 

Shangri La - Home of (imo) the best cold AND hot specials in the city.  Plus their happy hour runs every day of the week from 4-9pm.  I live for their hot chocolate with Rumple Minze. 

The Butterfly Bar - Bonus points here because they host trivia night on Tuesdays, AND you can get delicious (and hot) Patrizi's Italian food every night.  Try the fan favorites, mulled wine or an apple toddy. 

Mohawk - As we know, it seems like the best live shows always happen on the coldest, wettest nights. So thank goodness this Red River staple also has a full hot drink menu.  I heart their boozy cider.

24 Diner - If you're a fan of breakfast all day, classic 50s diner vibes, and hot Irish coffee, then make sure to add this classic Austin spot to your list.

Contigo - Y'all, they have a whole Toddy Menu! But be sure not to sleep on the Branca-Menta Hot Chocolate.

Gelateria Gemelli - Drink a hot cocktail with gelato to complete your holiday dessert dream. 

Icenhausers - Scratch your Rainey St itch during the cold months with their hot drink menu. And on Sundays make sure to get there early so you can rock the day away with their #SuperSoulSunday crew.

Craftsman - Hot drink menu available Wednesdays (and tetherball available daily)! 

Buzzmill - Known for making their own infused liquors, so you *know* the drinks are good. 

Stay Gold - I'm a complete sucker for any boozy hot chocolate & boy does Stay Gold deliver.  Not to mention that once a week this place turns up with Wine & Whiskey Wednesdays. 

Donn’s Depot - This Austin classic is a can’t miss when the holidays roll around. They have two full drink menus for BOTH hot AND cold holiday drinks so you’re prepared for anything these Austin winters can throw at you.

Kitty Cohen's - This hip lounge has you covered during these cold months. Pair a delicious mulled wine with free hotdogs on their Sunday Night Cinema Club.

 

Working for The Weekday: The Best Happy Hours In Town

Have you ever thought, "Austin has so many fancy restaurants that I'd love to experience, but who can afford to go?" If so, then we've got you covered. 

Below is a selection of the city's sneakiest happy hours at some of the nicest bars and restaurants around.  This list is on the fancier side, so we've got a true broke Austinite's version coming soon! And don't worry - I believe in happy hours where there are snacks available, so this list includes food specials, too.  

  • Salty Sow - If you've read other articles about the happy hours around Austin, odds are you've heard about Salty Sow.  But this spot truly deserves the hype, boasting an entire happy hour menu of drinks AND snacks for around $5 each.  Looking for a cocktail recommendation? I live for the Blanche - a blood orange frozen margarita. Salty Sow also does a flight of four rotating drinks that never disappoint for those of you who truly can't decide on just one.  As for the food, you really can't go wrong with their Pork Belly Taco, Duck Fat Fries and Crispy Brussels Sprouts. OH, and happy hour specials at Salty Sow run from 4:30pm to 6:30pm every. single. day.
  • Ah Sing Den - A recent addition to the Austin scene, Ah Sing Den took over the old East Side Show Room location and delivers in a lot of ways that its predecessor lacked, happy hour included.  Their cocktail "Classics" are all on the table for $6. I'd suggest starting with the French 75 and then checking out their Pimm's Cup for the hot days we still have ahead of us.  As the weather changes take a shot at their Old Fashion or the El Diablo. And since, again, I'm not here for a happy hour without snacks - check out their Shishito Peppers, one of my all time favorites. 
  • Odd Duck - This addition to the list should come as no surprise if you've been in Austin for a while (or if you happen to be a longtime reader of this blog!). Odd Duck is an Austin classic and their happy hour runs Sunday - Thursday. But here's where it gets a bit tricky: their happy hour is divided into two halves, with $5 cocktail specials from 2:30pm to 6:30pm, and half-price food selections from 5:30pm to 6:30pm. So for your best bet, make a reservation early to take full advantage of all their great deals! 
  • Irene's - Y'all know I love Irene's, right? Not only is this restaurant one of Austin's most instagramable places, but their happy hour NEVER disappoints! The "core" happy hour runs Monday-  Saturday from 3:30pm to 6:30pm, and all day Sunday. This includes $2 off snacks and $3 house spirits.  But because Irene's loves us all, they also feature daily specials that include Tequila Tuesdays and Tiki Thursdays.  For bonus points, check out the happy hour at Irene's sister restaurant, Italic for half off pizzas and $2 beers! 

What's your go-to fancy but affordable happy hour in Austin? Share your favorite spots in the comments (and let's make plans to check them out together)!

Stop Blowing It: A Guide to Fantastic First Dates

Recently I've been going on a few first dates and Y'ALL. What is up with people totally failing at planning dates? In Austin it should be beyond easy to make a fabulous first impression and frankly I'm committed to helping out.  Below is a list of some suggestions for first dates that guarantee a second (ya know, if you want it). And the best part? These are all cheap as hell! There's no point in blowing a paycheck on a first date.

  • Irene's daily happy hours - Trying to impress your date with one of the most Instagrammable places in Austin? Irene's makes it easy with insane happy hours every day of the week.  Monday through Saturday 3:30-630, and all day on Sundays, you and your future bae can enjoy $3 pints, $5 sangrias and $2 off snacks.  And if you're looking for even MORE savings - try Irene's Tarot & Tequila Tuesdays for $3 margaritas and free Tarot Card Readings provided by Senders Receive. What could be better than drinking a few margaritas and then asking the cards if there's a second date in your future?
  • Local Trivia - Look, I get that just sitting and drinking isn't always a great first date. An activity is always a smart move to make sure that the conversation doesn't drag.  Luckily, Austin has a bunch of trivia games going on every night of the week and they're all free to play! Yes, you can go to Geeks Who Drink, but if you want to support a local company (and experience a better game IMO) check out Who Wants a Dollar or the Get it Gals - both companies offer trivia all over the city. And with themes from Bob's Burgers to Game of Thrones your date will be entertained for hours.
  • Peter Pan Mini Golf - A classic for a reason! Playing a round of mini golf at Peter Pan's provides you with lots of photo ops, and at $14 for two players it definitely fits into a first date budget. Plus, this spot is BYOB (just don't bring glass) so no worrying about paying $12 for a ~fancy~ cocktail.  Peter Pan's is also in a prime location if you're feeling hungry afterwards - you can walk over to Sandy's Hamburgers, P. Terry's, or El Alma just down the street. An Affordable Austin Classic Double Date!
  • Food Truck Parks - Does your date's tinder profile say they're a foodie? Then why suffer under the pressure of finding one perfect restaurant - check out one of Austin's Food Truck Parks and try a bunch of different eats at once! Midway Food Park, The Picnic and The South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery all offer tons of options from appetizers to desserts, and from lobster rolls to deep fried Monte Cristos.

Let Your Freak Flag Fly: An Austinites Guide to The Weirdest Spots in Town

"Keep Austin Weird" may be our city's slogan, but with places like Portland constantly challenging us for the title (eye roll) I thought I'd remind y'all of some *classic* picks for the best places and times to let your inner weirdo out!

  • Maria's Taco XPress - Rundon'twalk to this Austin classic.  Back in February, Maria's announced that it would be closing in the near future, but with the help of a surge in recent business (and a lot of heartbroken fans) they've secured their spot for the foreseeable future.  Top times to go? Sundays for Hippie Church -- Imagine a crowd of 60+ Austinites dancing in tie-dye with margaritas. Maria's makes that a reality every Sunday, and the posi vibes are out of control.  If hippies drinking tequila isn't really your scene, check out Drag Queen Bingo on the first Tuesday of each month (we'll be there!).
  • Donn's Depot - How do I say enough great things about Donn's? Built out of old train cars, this music venue/ bar / dance hall is classic Austin at it's best.  Cheap drinks, great music, and free popcorn. If you're lucky enough to be a lady - the women's restroom alone will likely be enough to make you never want to leave. Just trust us and check it out.
  • Chicken Sh*t Bingo - another classic checklist item for every local.  Chicken Shi*t Bingo is exactly what it sounds like.  Though it's changed times and locations over the years, the simple and low-tech concept has remained the same. Currently you can find it on Sundays at Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon, and C-Boy's Heart & Soul.  Both bars are great local spots to buy yourself a Lone Star, and put a couple of dollars down on your lucky square.
  • Eeyore's Birthday - Held every year in Austin, this spring festival brings out the costumed-weirdos in droves. Started by a UT professor in 1963, Eeyore's Birthday is an all day party in Pease Park that -yes- does feature a real donkey, and generates donations to benefit local non-profit groups. This is a festival that needs to be experienced firsthand, but I highly recommend checking out some photos to get an idea.
  • Cathedral of Junk - In Austin since 1988, this backyard turned art gallery (for lack of a better term) is a must see.  Lose yourself for a day wandering in and out of hallways made of bike tires, car bumpers and old CDs.  The Cathedral is also an often overlooked spot for getting that totally Instagram-worthy pic.  It is a private residence though, so you'll need to call ahead - reach out at 512.299.7413. 
     

Free Summer Fun In OurATX

That's right! It's finally the best time of year in Austin.  The AC is on high, the margaritas are frozen, and there are free events all around town.  We've pulled together a list of just a few of the many free things to do this summer in town.
For more info on great summer hangs, follow our hashtag on social - #summerinOurATX!

  • Sound and Cinema - This summer marks the fourth year of food trucks, drinks, and free movies & music on the lawn of the Long Center. This summer might have the best lineup yet.  The films? The Princess Bride, Raising Arizona, Galaxy Quest and Scott Pilgrim v The World.  The Bands? Icing - a Cake tribute band, The Quaker City Night Hawks, and A Giant Dog. The events start at 6PM on Wednesday nights throughout the summer, and I suggest getting there early - it WILL get crowded!
  • Free Outdoor Exercise - Something about summer in Austin makes us all want to get in shape, and thankfully there are lots of free (and fun) ways to do it. Our top picks? The first Tuesday of every month you can find free yoga classes in the Umlauf Sculpture Garden. The Whole Foods flagship store offers free sunset yoga classes on their rooftop throughout summer. If you're looking for a way to exercise while staying cool this summer, check out Austin360's guide to find where the locals swim for free. And for the best of both world join the huge group of yogis at Barton Springs on July 1st for an all-levels class. (pro-tip: bring your towel and enjoy a dip in the springs after!)
  • Blues on the Green - When you're not spending your Wednesday nights watching movies for free at the Long Center, you can head over to Zilker Park to listen to some free music! This classic Austin tradition is a can't-miss on your bucket list -- are you really a local if you've never been? This summer's line up is pretty hush hush, but they never disappoint. So just to be safe, go ahead and clear your Wednesday night plans until September.
  • Free Art Around Town - If you're looking for a quieter way to spend the summer, there are tons of places around Austin where you can check out free art.  If you're into the stage, Zilker Theatre's production of The Wizard of Oz has a performance every weekend this summer, starting July 7th.  If you prefer beautiful views and nature, I can't suggest Laguna Gloria enough! It's completely free to spend your days wandering through the expansive grounds of this Mediterranean-style villa on the shores of Lake Austin. Finally, if you need to escape the Texas heat, the Blanton Art Museum offers free admission on Thursdays all year long.

Austin Trends to Keep an Eye On - Summer 2017

One of my favorite things about Austin is the fact that no matter where you go – you’ll never be the most overdressed or under dressed person in the room.  People wear jean shorts to the theater and full make up to sporting events, so you can feel free to get a little weird with your style every now and then.

I always look forward to pulling the trendiest stuff from my closet. I’ve been pulling together a short list of some of the more *out there* trends I’ve been dying to try and I’m hoping that by publishing this list I’ll convince myself to try at least one of them. Do you have any tips for pulling these off? Let me know in the comments!

  1. Glitter roots – the perfect festival hair for this festival town.  Who needs flower crowns anyway?
  2. Black Lipstick – As a self-proclaimed lover of all things black, it’s hard to believe I haven’t tried this yet.  But thanks to this dreamy matte lip from colourpopcosmetics I’ve finally got my hands on a color I love, so check back -this will be happening.
  3. Enamel Pins – Actually I’m coming pretty late to the pin game.  Bloggers all over are showing off their collections.  I bought my first enamel pin from local babe eythink.  Since then I’ve started buying them for not just myself but also everyone else I know. They’re the perfect “thinking of you” gift that wont break the bank.
  4. Lingerie as Outerwear – I have a secret and deep love of all things lacey so I’ve been dying to try this trend.  But I also have a DD set of ladies that have made this a terrifying prospect.  This is the trend that I’m most likely to end up losing the confidence to pull off, because frankly wearing my bra outside is terrifying. 
  5. Non-Ironic Cowboy Boots – ahhhh the ever elusive non ironic cowboy boots. If UT ladies know one thing, it’s how to rock their boots and still look cute as hell.  As a lady in Texas, cowboy boots have always been a struggle for me.  Do you wear them when it’s hot with a sundress? Or in colder weather with your jeans? Let me know your suggestions in the comments below because I seriously have no idea.
  6. The Braided Crown – Oh how I envy women who rock this look with ease.  I never learned to braid hair so this is more of a skill set development task for my blundering fingers. I also rarely wash my hair and, tbh, this seems like a good thing to do with my ever increasingly greasy hair.

Follow us on Instagram to see if I manage to pull these off! 

@ouratx_official

Restaurants to Visit - When You're Not Paying The Bill

Let’s be real, Austin is quickly becoming a fancy food city.  This is great news if you’re a foodie like me, but also the worst news if you’re on a strict(ish) budget like me.  We’ve pulled together a quick list of some of the best places to go when someone else has so generously offered to pay.

  1. Justine's – a classic choice that tops a lot of lists like this, and with good reason.  This little slice of paris underground in the middle of east Austin is a delight to all the senses.  Their menu tends toward simplicity perfected, and it changes as much as their actual venue does.  In the winter months you could find yourself in a huge gorgeous tent made entirely of green velvet or spending time in the mini park that works as their waiting area.  If you really want to have an experience, keep your eye out for the events that Justine’s hosts, they are extravagant and can often sneak up without a lot of publicity, but they shouldn’t be missed.
  2. Launderette – After taking over the space from a literal laundromat Launderette quickly became an Austin staple.  With a happy hour from 5-6 on Monday through Friday, this restaurant is the perfect choice for those who love to eat with their eyes.  The restaurant is gorgeous and the food and drinks follow suit.  Make sure to get your hands on one of their famous ice cream sandwiches.
  3. Odd Duck – We’re huge fans of Odd Duck here at OurATX.  While they serve as a perfect fancy date night, and our strongest suggestion is to buy yourself (and a friend) a ticket to one of their phenomenal seasonal dinners.  They tend to be approximately seven courses and are all paired with a drink – so your getting your money’s worth for sure. 
  4. Salty Sow - how can we say enough about this perfect restaurant? With one of the best happy hours in the city (it runs from 4:30-6:30 EVERY SINGLE DAY Y’ALL) Salty Sow is an OurATX staple. It’s actually something you can afford on almost any budget that will make you feel like a truly fancy Austinite.  Plus Michelle Obama ate their once, so you don’t have to take our word for it.
  5. Eberly – a new creation from the masterminds behinds Stubbs (the venue not the barbecue sauce) is the fancy dinner we all dream of.  From it’s greenhouse style secluded dinning area to the bar from Greenwich Village in New York City, Eberly is sure to make anyone happy. The food matches the ambiance perfectly, featuring classic dishes done in new and exciting ways. I STRONGLY suggest saving room for dessert, it’s not to be missed.
  6. Grizzeldas – New on the scene this year, Grizzeldas is the second restaurant from the owners who brought us Jacoby’s.  They have*the* most exquisite patio you’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting on.  (Local Secret: the gorgeous chandelier that hangs from the ceiling is from the owner’s actual wedding! Brb, crying.) They just started serving Brunch so we can all die happy now.

Where is your go-to Fancy dinner spot? We'd love to hear your suggestions below.

Tonight, I'm Cleaning Out My Closet - Spring Cleaning Tips

Ok so as much fun as it is to buy new (and hopefully local) clothing, April means it’s time to do some Spring Cleaning.  Every year around this time we all feel the need to get the clutter out of our lives. There’s no reason to fear getting rid of your extra clothes, just follow these tips!

  1. Find a (local) place to donate that you care about! This is probably not surprising, but wanting to help out local businesses is a big motivator for OurATX.  While there are always options like Goodwill or Buffalo Exchange, you can also donate to local joints like Treasure City Thrift  or Thrift Center. Local Bonus Tip: Treasure City Thrift offers a phenomenal $0.25 day and yes, you did read that right! 
  2. Pay Attention to What You Wear.  An easy Pintrest tip is to keep all your hangers facing out & then once you wear an item of clothing you can switch the hanger around.  At the end of 6 months get rid of anything on a hanger that’s still facing out.  This might work for some but as a person who likes to try on three or four outfits before deciding what to wear it doesn’t exactly work for me.  My general rule is – if I can’t think of three different outfits I would wear it in, it’s got to go.
  3. What makes your body happy? This is the most important step! If your clothing isn’t making you feel good about your body get it out of your life. Holding onto things because they’re your “skinny clothes” isn’t healthy.  Find things that make you look in the mirror and think of Beyoncé lyrics
  4. Sentimentality has a place – it’s not your closet.  This is what I struggle with a lot.  How could I get rid of my innumerable camp shirts – even if I haven’t worn one in years?  If you, like me, have a lot of tee-shirts you can’t part with I strongly suggest sending them away to this place to get them made into a memory blanket.  Soft, sweet & you’ll actually use it!

Got tips ofyour own? Let us know how you clean out your closet in the comments below.