Crushin’ on my City

Hi, friends!

Did you hear that Austin was named the best place to live  in the US for the second year in a row? I have to agree. I feel fortunate to call this place my home and personal playground. Here’s what I have going on in this lovely city as of late:

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  • Along with my full time job, I am now a freelance blogger and social media editor for Free Fun in Austin and Austin.com. It keeps me busy in the best way possible.
  • I am also a fairly new member of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance. I’ve been doing food tastings in the area for years now, so it’s amazing to finally meet up and feast with my fellow local foodies.
  • If you know me, you probably know that I love traveling and that I go somewhere new every chance I get. But this past January, I took my first completely solo trip to Chicago. It was liberating and inspiring and I already can’t wait to do it again. It’s also motivated me to go on even more solo-adventuring in Austin. Whether that’s a happy hour or a hike, I am finding all of this extra alone time to be both meditative and indulgent for my soul.
  •  Speaking of solo-dates, I turned 29 a few weekends ago and took myself out for an Austin goat-yoga date. (If you haven’t tried this goat yoga thing, I highly recommend it. I’m not the biggest yoga fan, but baby goats? They’re cool with me. Even the one who pooped on my mat.) I spent the rest of the day with friends who spoiled me, and the next day with my little family who spoiled me some more. There was a lot of pizza from Stanley’s Farmhouse and plenty of cocktails from Upstairs at Caroline’s involved. So yeah, I’m a pretty lucky twenty-nine year old. (I refuse to say almost thirty because, dangit, I’m claiming every last second of my twenties.)

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  • I’m on a mission to slowly but surely visit all of the pretty walls in Austin. There’s so many of them. Wish me luck. (This one’s on 101 W. 5th)
  • My husband and I recently learned that our house is worth almost 100k more than when we first bought it. Say what?! This blows my mind. Austin real estate is a force to be reckoned with right now. While we’re not looking to move out right this moment, it’s definitely one of those exciting future things to think about. There’s a few of those types of things on the horizon right now. (Definitely non-baby related exciting things, y’all. I feel the need to clarify that since I’m almost thirty now. Er… I mean, since I’m twenty-nine now.)
  • Hey, Austinites? Congrats to us for keeping it at #1. We may be famous for being weird, but we’re good at other things too. Like eating. And adventuring. And kindness. I’m proud to call you home, weirdo.

A (Belated) Review on an (Incredible) 2015

I’ve been meaning to write about my 2015 for a couple of weeks now. You know, pre-2016. Oops.

I’ve been wanting to write about what a big year it was for me. About the goals and steps that were made.

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About jumping into Texas’ largest underwater cave at Jacob’s Well and about new volunteer opportunities, like helping to get ladies wardrobe-ready for job interviews at Dress for Success.

About joining my first dodgeball team and enthusiastically being an uncoordinated thrower and dodger of balls.

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Also about hot-air ballooning for the first time and half-marathon running for the third time and travels galore.

About visiting five new-to-me-states; West Virginia, Virginia, Georgia, Ohio and Delaware, and a new to me country; Canada. There were also repeat visit to Louisiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

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The memories made on these trips were ones filled with friends, family and my lover boy. They were full of late nights and laughter. There were beaches and a Louisianan treehouse and historical monuments and a giant Ferris wheel and a summertime BBQ with my second family. There were also local road-trips and a Taylor Swift concert and an enchanting Port Aransas trip with my clan. There was a magical night with the best friend spent haunted pub-crawling near DC, and there was taking the world’s tallest free-standing elevator to see some lovely views of Memphis with the husband. There was the majesty of Niagara Falls and smaller falls too. I found unexpected beauty in random places (like Medicine Park, Oklahoma) and pretty places to share smooches with my favorite guy (like Jackson Street Bridge in Atlanta.) There was a road-trip to Lafayette with my little brother and a delightful brunch in Cincinnati with my cousin. Simply put, it was a year of such spectacular adventures.

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2015 was also the first year that I was able to successfully step away from side-blogs and to begin taking on assignments and events for my own. It was such an awesome feeling to take some chances and see a dream like that come true.

Twenty-fifteen was also the first time that I started seeing a therapist. I’m open about my opinion that everyone should go to therapy, but this was the first year that I finally made the leap and went myself.  Being brave in many ways has become almost second-nature to me. Hang-gliding and bungee jumping and parasailing? Sure! Traveling to Italy at seven months pregnant? No problem! But emotional courage? Talking about feelings and being vulnerable? That’s where I can be a real scaredy-cat. The leap was a tough one, but it was also a magnificent one. The self-growth and awareness I have gained so far from this process has been humbling and life-changing.

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There are a couple of other things about 2015 that really stand out to me.

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Starting my MBA program is definitely one of them. Doing grad school while working full time and having a little one has been sometimes challenging, but more than anything, it has been incredibly rewarding. And it has also been so very fun. Last Tuesday was the start of our cohort’s second semester. We got out early and a group of us made our way to a nearby Mexican restaurant for margaritas and queso. I broke out my newly acquired selfie stick and we spent the night laughing, sharing stories and making fun of each other. After five months and one completed semester that we all survived together, it really does feel like we’ve made our own little family. And I am treasuring the heck out of this time and these people in my life.

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Work was also a big part of my year.

I’ve been smitten with my job as a social media rep from the start, but 2015 is the year that I felt I really delved into my role and found a new confidence in my career.

I love having a position that gives me so much freedom and flexibility, but being bestowed with more responsibility in 2015 was a special thing too. I was asked to help plan the annual holiday party for hundreds of team members and had a speaking part in a television ad for Race for the Cure. Working for a company that does so much to give back to the community feels good, and being able to take such an active role in it all feels like an honor.

In between all of this goodness was my favorite part of 2015 – Cuddling with and loving on my little family. They made my year the brightest it could possibly be.

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Simply put, 2015 was a year of beautiful things, both big and small. It was a collection of both ordinary and extraordinary moments, and I’m so thankful for every single one of them. Though, in all of its amplitude, 2015 taught me a big lesson on the small things too. It showed me that sometimes those seemingly ordinary moments are the most extraordinary ones of them all.

Memphis 2015 Highlights

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My main man and I recently took a belated anniversary trip to Memphis, Tennessee.

I feel lucky to have traveled all over with this guy. Seeing the world with one’s favorite person is such a special thing. All of the places I’ve visited with Robby leave me with memories that seem to be dusted with extra magic and bliss.memphis2

Memphis was no exception.

Highlights:

  • Beale Street. I had no idea you could walk Beale Street with drink in hand! Like a smaller Bourbon Street, but with a charm all its own. With margaritas in tow, Robby and I found one enchanting store full of eccentricities and a semi-secretive smoke shop in the back. They offered free condoms in a bowl, which hubs and I giggled about before taking two. Because we’re actually fifteen-year-olds trapped in twenty and thirty something year old bodies.

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  • The eats in Memphis were not only delicious, but also oh-so-fun. One of my favorites was The Beauty Shop, an actual old school beauty shop turned restaurant that Priscilla Presley once frequented. My food was devoured whilst sitting in an old-school bonnet dryer. How neat is that?! I was sold on the novelty alone, but their salmon sandwich and sangria left me swooning.

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Also worth mentioning is the queso and guacamole at Las Delicias (thanks to Memphis pal Rach for taking us here!), donuts at Gibson’s (And also here), the BBQ nachos at Rendezvous, (Thanks to Memphis pal Rach for the recommendation!) breakfast at Bryant’s and fried chicken at Gus’s Fried Chicken (Thanks most people in Memphis for this recommendation!) Robby isn’t a huge fan of fried chicken but said Gus’s was his favorite meal during our visit. The skin is perfectly crispy and just the right amount of seasoned and spicy. I’m salivating while writing this. I have got to cut down on the food porn.

  • Exploring Midtown
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After eating at The Beauty Shop, husband and I meandered the Midtown area. We perused through a quaint bookstore and happened upon the most adorable of coffee shops, where Robby attempted to teach me how to play chess. I say attempted because I was more interested in my delicious brown sugar coffee and quickly got my ass handed to me in the form of checkmate.

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  • We took the country’s tallest free-standing elevator to catch some pretty awesome views of the city. I’ve never been a big fan of elevators, and considering the record-breaking status of this one, I was feeling a little nervous on the ride up. But getting to the top to smooch with these Memphis views? So worth it.

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Chillin’ with cardboard Elvis and our awesome AirBnB host. Traveling just seems all the more authentic when lodging with the locals.

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  • The art and downtown vibes.

They were just my style.

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  • A quick photo taken next to Sun Studio. Downtown trolley rides. Making alcoholic root beer floats at our weekend abode. Listening to live Blues on Beale Street as the air grew colder and we cuddled closer. Walking hand-in-hand, not knowing where exactly we were even heading.
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Having the chance to travel regularly is one of things that makes me feel fortunate. The wonder of exploring new places will always be an absolute favorite of mine. But finding a lifelong someone to hold hands with in new places? That’s my favorite, most fortunate find of all.

Soaking Up Summertime

Life is sweet and full of summertime bliss.

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On Saturday, I leave to visit my best friend of fourteen years in Virginia. Or, we’re at least starting in Virginia. We’re also planning on partying in Maryland and beaching it up in Delaware. A little state-hopping, if you will. I am so ecstatic to start making new memories traveling and exploring with the lady love of my life.

But really, summer twenty fifteen has me giddy about a lot of things….

  • I bought a hammock. I’m growing partial to time spent between the trees, a pineapple drink in one hand and a book in the other. Or just staring up at the stars and listening to the crickets chirp. Paradise in my own backyard.

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  • Adventuring with my little one has taught me that she’s much better at taking selfies than I am.

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  • I’ve been occasionally volunteering at my nearby Alzheimer’s Center for a few years now, so I’ve known program director Bernard for a while. I don’t see him much but love catching up every time I do. His combo of good heart and fun personality makes him a winning human being. He also seems to think I’m pretty cool, and since I’m actually a weirdo, I appreciate that.

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  • San Antonio is quickly becoming one of my favorite cities in Texas. This is mostly because two of my favorite people in the entire world reside here. Also because the Riverwalk of San Antone is a lovely place to laugh the night away with said favorites.

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  • Date nights with the husband always leave me wonderstruck. Whether we’re eating garlic naan in a cozy cellar followed by being photo-bombed by an extremely tan gentleman (see if you can spot him below…) in downtown Austin or drinking beer out of mason jars in New Ulm, Texas, magic is always made when we’re together. Especially magical when we come home sporting matching dinosaur stamps from da club.
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  • I don’t know how it’s possible, but my job voluntarily pays me for doing things like organizing lip-dubs and dancing like a tune deaf white girl. You can watch the full embarrassing footage here.
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  • Family moments in my household sometimes include squishing ourselves into tiny children’s forts and capturing the moment with a selfie.

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Summer 2015 has me smitten. I’m soaking up the sun and as many of these beautiful moments as I possibly can.

We Wore Our Sunglasses At Night – May 2008

These are the words I held back, as I was leaving too soon..

Please don’t be in love with someone else,
Please don’t have somebody waiting on you.”

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 Seven years ago I met this pretty cool guy at a house party.

We talked all night. I told him I could spell anything when I was drunk, and he lied to me and told me he liked some country music. I believed him because his voice sounded like a sweet southern song, but I’d later find out that he really hates almost all country music and much prefers techno and dubstep. For reasons too many Jell-O shots won’t allow me to remember, we took our first picture together, sporting sunglasses at night.

I attacked his lips with smooches before he left, and he proceeded to ask me on a date. Days later, he messaged me on MySpace with a quick message: “What’s up, spelling bee?”

The rest is history. But a history that I love to tell and retell.

For so long, the way he treated me felt so brand new. Part of this was because I was only nineteen, and fairly new to the whole dating scene. But more than that, what I had witnessed of serious relationships in my previous eighteen years had left me substantially incredulous for someone so young. Robby was what I had only dreamed a partnership could be, not what I had ever known the reality to look like. From the very beginning, I was taken aback by the complete freedom I felt when I was with him.

In our earliest of days, he once left my friend’s apartment living room in the wee hours of the morning to head off to work. I was barely awake when I heard the door close and then, moments later, open again. He had walked back inside just to give my half-asleep self a quick kiss goodbye.

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And that was how it always was with Robby. He looked at me like I had hung the moon, told me he loved me entirely too soon and quite often, gifted me with sweet surprises and constantly gave my hand quick pecks, just because. His happiness was contagious and his complete adoration for me slightly baffling. It seemed too good. I worried that it wouldn’t last.

Yet here we are more than seven Mays later, with years’ worth of love and happiness and our own little Brynlee Mae Boudreaux. Today I woke him up in the wee hours of the morning to tell him that I couldn’t sleep. He was barely awake as he stroked my back and snuggled until I felt relaxed enough to doze off again. I’m still occasionally surprised by his sweet smooches, thoughtful actions and loving words, but I’m so grateful that it’s all that our Miss Mae has ever known. I’m happy to share his hung-the-moon gaze with this sweet baby girl that we made all by ourselves.

Seven years later and our love still feels like freedom. Like the deepest of belly laughter. Like seeing fireflies in your backyard hammock on a star-studded summer night. Like kissing at sunset on the Jackson Street Bridge, or getting lost in Venice in the rain, or renewing wedding vows in a silly little Vegas chapel. Like the grandest of adventures. The kind that you just can’t wait to continue for the rest of your days.

Life with Subtitles

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It’s summertime and the living is easy and worthy of subtitles. Here’s what’s up:

1. The Big Cojones

Did y’all know I was in a dodgeball league? No? Because I totally was, and it was awesome. Our season just ended, but the memories and friendships I’ve made from playing on the Big Cojones have not. Side note — I did not name our team.

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2. Pool party at the Dell Diamond

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I kick-started these sizzling months by partaking in a pool party at a baseball game with one of my dodgeball lady loves. A pool party at a baseball game! How fun is life!?

3. DJ Dash. 5k?

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My first summer run was an interesting experience. It was the first 5k I’ve ran that, uh, wasn’t actually a 5k. Being a bit of a running enthusiast, I asked where the timer was upon crossing the finish line. A kind sir informed me that they didn’t have one, and also because of our crazy Texas weather and muddy conditions, it had to be cut to only two miles anyway. And here I was thinking I ran the fastest 3.1 miles of my life. WHATEVER.

4. That Chinese kid

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I’m going to stay with one of my best gal pals in San Antonio this weekend. My best (Vietnamese) dude friend of nearly ten years (Gah, that makes me feel so old. We were just exchanging notes in high-school the other day, I swear it.) also lives in SA, so I asked if he wanted hang out. This somehow turned into him overanalyzing how my family feels about him. I am not aware of them thinking any of these things, but he made me laugh just the same. I’ve told other friends I’m contemplating starting a “Sh#* that Bryant says” domain.

5. Cheese Style

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Also amusing is when you text your dear husband a grocery store parody of T-Swift’s ‘Style’ and he has not even the smallest inkling of what you might be doing.

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6. Excuse me sir, I need your hat.

Because sometimes at a brewery it’s necessary to borrow a cowboy hat for a good photo op.

7. Getting feisty with a floating elephantpooljune

I highly enjoy spending time at the pool with my baby, a best friend and a child’s floating device that I may or may not have been passionately smooching once a margarita entered my system. (Luckily my child was napping at this point so she didn’t witness such atrocities against her elephant.)

8. All in a day’s work

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I like when freelance work leads me to the 28th floor of a building in the heart of downtown Austin.

9. That face.

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It’s the one I’m lucky enough to wake up to every morning.

10. These two

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They are just the very best.

Summer of Sam Hunt

Summertime is quickly approaching, and already I am feeling its magic.

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Two weekends back was just the beginning of my enchantment with the warmer months.

My little brother and I road-tripped it up to Louisiana to see our favorite country artist perform live. I purchased tickets back in March for his birthday, but in all honesty they were just as much for me. Sam Hunt is also performing in Austin, but I will take whatever excuse I can to explore the world. So tickets in Lafayette it was. And a wonderful decision I made.

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Each summer brings with it a slew of moments that are sure to all too quickly turn into treasured memories. These moments can usually be easily triggered in my mind by a scent, a phrase or a song. Not unique to me, music has been a huge part of my world since I was a young teenager. Some of this love comes from its ability to wrap me in nostalgia and instantly transport me to a different time and place. My infamous and long-term adoration for T-Swift stems not from the album 1989 (Though I also love her for sharing a birth year with me and making it immensely popular) but for melodramatic songs like Teardrops on my Guitar, Cold as You and Dear John that got me through things like high-school puppy love and first heartbreak. Despite the solid ground that I’m on now, I hear those songs today and can still feel those first shaky pangs.

So already, I know. Already there are these tunes and things collecting in my mind that I know will forever stay with me.

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Summer 2015, I’ll think.

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Summer 2015 was the summer of Sam Hunt. Of songs like Take Your Time, and Vandalizer making me hardcore swoon, and House Party and Leave The Night On instantly transporting me to my happy place. The summer of drinking coffee in a Louisianan treehouse, of Cajun food and endless mimosas, of getting to know strangers and their cats while boarding in someone else’s’ house. It’s to be the season of long drives at 3 am as the little brother snoozes in the passenger seat, of staying in a room full of trinkets, appropriately named “Imagine”, of double fisting on blue drinks at the Blue Dog Café and of drawing such moments on paper tablecloths. The time of delightful breweries, gluttonously cheesy grits, exploring an Acadian village and rushing back to Austin in time for Mother’s Day celebrations with my beautiful little family.

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I know I’ll never forget my despair upon breaking and losing my glass perfume from Italy whilst in a rush to the concert. Heading back from said concert, little bro acted as if he didn’t really care but, just the same, helped me thoroughly inspect the sidewalk until we finally found the broken glass. Obsessed with inanimate objects as I am, I joyously carried my perfume bottle remnants back to the car with cops in sight. I’ll also never forget breaking into laughter as my straight-laced brother told me, “The cops are going to see that and think it’s a crack pipe. They’ll think, ‘Huh, so she’s just going to carry that out in the open?”

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I’ll fondly reminisce on the next morning, listening to live music over champagne at the adorable Artmosphere. When the electricity went out and the microphones stopped working, the band kept on singing just the same.

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 It will be remembered as the summer of fried catfish, fireflies and the sound of coming home to sweet baby laughter.

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And the best part? It’ll be the summer of many other things too, because that summertime feeling has started before the official summer has even begun. I know it’s to also be the summer of family pool parties, outdoor brunches and more delightful travels. Of margaritas and flotation devices, of mini road-trips and wine dates with gal pals, of “Cop Car” playing on repeat on my mind and on my phone. Of sharing long and sweet kisses, sunset walks with our girl, back patio festivities with friends and of more magic that I haven’t even been able to imagine up quite yet.

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I feel bubbly and entranced with the charm of it all.

Let the summer of Sam Hunt commence.