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We’re backkkkkkkk!

We’re here!

We ventured off, despite some fear!

We badly missed the city!

We missed all of its pretties!

So we’re back – Let’s all cheer!

For some reason, our move back to Austin brought out the poet in me (see my farewell poem on Instagram), as I have been filled with SO much excitement! I loved the anticipation building up to moving day (even surrounded by numerous cardboard boxes), I fully soaked up the process of arranging our belongings in their new home (and successfully transitioned from a 3/2 house to a 1/1 apartment), and, now, I am gladly filling up every hour of the day with ATX adventures!

Previously, I blogged about the best spots in Austin and my bucket list pertaining to this weird city. And now, I present to you, part tres:

ACTIVITIES WE HAVE ENJOYED HERE SINCE BEING BACK:

  • Canoeing on Lady Bird Lake

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  • Mini golf at Peter Pan’s
  • Becoming AMC Stubs Premiere members (not completely ATX-related, but we are HUGE movies fans, and the AMC at the mall has been updated with recliners and alcohol, so, uh, yes, please:)
  • Breakfast at Snooze (since we fell in love in Denver)
  • Eating at Copper Restaurant & Dessert Lounge at The Domain with our besties
  • Movie (“The Mummy” :/) at Alamo Drafthouse
  • Shopping at Barton Creek Square
  • Picture in front of the new “atx” sign at Whole Foods

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PLACES WE STILL NEED TO VISIT:

  • The new Toy Joy
  • Top Golf
  • Eberly
  • Maze Rooms
  • David Foster Wallace exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center
  • MYLO Obstacle Fitness
  • Blue Cat Cafe
  • Justine’s Brassiere
  • Ai Weiwei “Forever Bicycles” sculpture
  • Hotel San Jose
  • Sugar Mama’s Bakery
  • Hippie Hollow
  • Franklin’s Barbecue
  • Dart Bowl
  • Odd Duck
  • Culinary Dropout
  • A Tiny Tails To You Hoppy Hour
  • Southern Hippie

AND SOME OF OUR FAVE SPOTS THAT WE’RE READY TO VISIT AGAIN:

  • Satellite Bistro & Bar (best. bread. pudding)
  • Uchi
  • Blenders and Bowls
  • Craftsman (prosecco on tap ftw)
  • Tiff’s Treats
  • (I’m sure there are more, but I just have foodz on the brainz;)

We are so blessed (for multiple reasons), as we are in this fun little limbo right now; my husband, Tommy, and I just finished teaching in May (He fell in love with it after we moved to a small city so I could teach, and I realized it wasn’t for me.). He got his dream teaching job here and doesn’t start for another few weeks, and I am transitioning back into full-time freelance work. While I have enough tasks to keep me busy for at least a 40-hour work week, I admittedly am fitting in tweets, blogs, office meetings and coffee dates AROUND my fun time (and gym time, since we have one-hour workouts four days a week, and life in general, as I need my sleep, Netflix, home and cuddle-with-Cat time). It’s a cool time, and there is nothing like an Austin summer…except for maybe a SoCal summer…but stay tuned for more on that later…;)

just 10 things

  1. WOODSON, TEXAS: I’m from this town of 296, where my dad is the superintendent of the one school, which my brother and I started going to in kindergarten; we both graduated from WHS – and I only had seven people in my class. My mom was my sixth grade teacher and still teaches there – and I teach there now, too. No, we didn’t ride horses to school (I don’t even own a pair of boots.), but yes, I love this safe and comfortable home.
  2. WRITING: I remember asking my parents to buy me a tablet to write stories in when I was so young that some of my peers couldn’t even write complete sentences yet. English was always my favorite class in school, and I created my school’s newspaper and started contributing to my county’s weekly paper. I went on to major in journalism and write for publications like Austin Home, New York Resident and Us Weekly and cover events such as SXSW and New York Fashion Week. See where I’m currently writing via my online portfolio!
  3. AUSTIN, TEXAS: I attended the University of Texas at Austin and can still hardly believe I graduated from such an esteemed school. Though I’m away from ATX right now, I’ll be back, because I love it all: Alamo Drafthouse, Cathedral of Junk, Spiderhouse, Greenbelt, The Domain, Kerby Lane, Toy Joy, SoCo, the Veloway – See a complete list of my faves here😉
  4. MOVIES: I’ve always said my favorites are “A Walk to Remember the Titans”, combining two that I love. My family and I loveee going to the theater (mainly for popcorn and previews, amiright?), and if a movie can freak me out (in a scary or mind-blowing way (like “Predestination”…WaTcH!), I love it even more.
  5. FASHION: I always joked that when I die, I want to be cremated and spread around a mall, because I can’t get enough of new trends, window displays, glossy magazines, fashion blogs, “Project Runway”, fashion boards on Pinterest and buying new accessories/outfits!
  6. TRAVEL: I am used to making 28-hour drives to different states and have visited over half of them – and maybe a third of the baseball parks in the U.S. The only places I’ve visited internationally are Cologne, Germany, and Playa del Carmen, Mexico (loved both…can’t wait to see morrre).
  7. CATS: I’ve probably owned about 75 cats, but right now, my husband and I are happily raising Catalina Crookshanks. I’ve also adopted a polar bear, and penguins = mine and Tommy’s spirit animals. Fourth fave animal = unicorn;)
  8. GLITTER: Everything is better with glitter (just look at this blog title and/or ask Ke$ha;)
  9. LOVE: I really really really do try to show love to all – why wouldn’t you? We’re all stuck on this rock together, so be nice/spread peace! Thankfully, it’s super easy to love my loved, because gawww, they’re amazing…like tooooo good to me.
  10. LIFE: Speaking of being on this rock together, remember that it’s all about balance and perspective and blooming where you’re planted and being the best you can be and breathing and finding your passion/sharing it with others and being you and laughing until you cry!
    • Balance: You will have amazing moments of triumph and happiness, as well as horrible moments of stress and sadness. Through it all, you can eat chocolate when you’re sad and happy and dream about the future while still making the most of the present. Everything in moderation, with your head on straight.
    • Perspective: When those sad moments occur, try try try to find the silver lining. Know that everyone deals with loss. And when you’re overjoyed, know that there’s a time for everything, and even good things must come to an end. ALSO, I say these mantras over and over, but I just decided to change this one to “bird’s-eye view”, so that they all start with “B”!
    • Bloom Where You’re Planted: How many times have I blogged about this? My high school English teacher drilled this into my brain, and now, I have it hung in my house and sneak it into my English lessons. You are where you are. Will you always be there? Probably not – since we’re always in a state of motion, with moves and career changes and marriage and etc. So wherever you are and wherever you end up, do your best in that very place.
      • ALSO, I’ve written a good deal about this state of motion: I used to say that life was all about waiting – We wait in lines and drive-thrus. We wait for our alarms to go off, our coffee to brew…for work to start and then be over…then wait until it’s time for dinner, bed and it all to start again.
      • Recently, however, I’ve been thinking that it’s all about change, too; my bff and I feel like we’re always…well…waiting for the next big thing! As we wait and move forward, we encounter these big life events, such as graduating college, finding a full-time gig, getting married, buying a house and having kids. I guess it isss exciting that there’s always something to look forward to…It just seems like the in-between (the “upside-down” I – and other “Stranger Things” fans – may call it) time is just…there – and this time of limbo just flies by!
      • So enjoy those little moments that do make you laugh until you cry, which can be filled with things as simple as going for a walk, stretching as you get out of bed, cuddling with your cat and this.
    • Be The  Best You Can Be: The Woodson ISD motto is a good one, and it’s simple (So why do we complicate things?): Be the best human you can be. Do your very best at every single thing you do. Period. Yay.

P.S. – Happy six-year dating anniversary to my husband, Thomas Wayne Baze. ❤

The Best Shows on Netflix

Sense 8

From the creators of  The Matrix comes this tense series in which eight people can telepathically experience each other’s lives.

I was honestly blown away by this series. It’s like nothing else. It goes all out, in every way, delivering beautiful scenes done by beautiful characters. It’s weird and wonderful, and I cannot wait for the next season (which should release soon!)

Pretty Little Liars

A group of friends (the gorgeous Lucy Hale, Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson & Shay Mitchell) wake up to find one of their friends missing and, later, dead. After her murder and disappearance, the group is contacted by a mysterious figure who claims to be their deceased friend.

This show is my guilty pleasure. It may have started out being aimed at preteens, but the murders, kidnappings, love stories, cliffhangers and fact that I’m the same age as these actresses mean that I will continue watching until the end (which is coming this spring!).

Lost

After their plane crashes on a deserted island, a diverse group of people must adapt to their new home and contend with the island’s enigmatic forces.

If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with this show. The description doesn’t do it justice. My family and I started watching it as soon as it aired on ABC (on Wednesday night’s, after church, with burgers from the Woodson Inn), and then my husband and I followed it through college, even watching the series finale at the Alamo Drafthouse. I can’t say enough about this show, so I won’t say any more!

Gossip Girl

The series is narrated by the omniscient blogger “Gossip Girl” and is voiced by Kristen Bell. The plot revolves around the lives of privileged teens living on the Upper East Side of New York, and they can hide no secret from the ruthless blogger who’s always watching. Rounding out the main cast in the series are Blake Lively (as Serena van der Woodsen), Leighton Meester (as Blair Waldorf), Penn Badgley (as Dan Humphrey), Chace Crawford (as Nate Archibald), Ed Westwick (as Chuck Bass), Kelly Rutherford (as Lily van der Woodsen) and Matthew Settle (as Rufus Humphrey).

I’m not traditional, in any sense, so I didn’t watch Gossip Girl when it was cool to watch it; I watched it, like, last year – which was perfect, since my family took a Christmas trip to NYC, so I got to walk where Chuck and Blair got married, only a couple of days after watching it.

Stranger Things

A lost boy. A government lab steeped in terrible secrets. A mother who won’t rest until her son is found. The great Winona Ryder. The lovable Millie Bobby Brown. And Natalia Dyer and Finn Wolfhard as the Wheeler children.

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via: netflix.com

This was an instant hit, and most people (Me!) finished the eight episodes in one day, being drawn in by the unique story and 80’s vibe.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Narcissistic friends Charlie, Mac, Dennis and Dennis’s sister, Dee, run Paddy’s Pub, a downtown Philadelphia Irish bar, where everyone’s judgmental (and juvenile) behavior usually brings situations from uncomfortable to hysterically horrible.

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via: youtube.com

What a great description for a great show. My now-husband and his old roommate got me hooked on this show, and we.are.them. My husband, Tommy, is Mac, obsessed with working out. I’m Dee, born to be a star yet ridiculed, at times, for being so tall and bird-like. Bonus points for the fact that these two are married in real life! My brother (Dennis on the show and Tanner in real life) is a tall, self-proclaimed god-like creature, perfect in every way. And finally, there’s Charlie, the wild card (We’ll give this honor to our friend Robin;). If you like to laugh and are okay with ridiculous/crass situations, I highly recommend Always Sunny (Season 12 coming 1/4/17!).

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ICYMI, my brain is always going and going and going – even when it shouldn’t be. I just re-read my last blog post, and as I combined those thoughts with some conversations I recently had with students, I came to the following conclusions:

Life is short; I think we can all agree on that.

Therefore, if we want to spend our time on this rock adopting cats, attempting to write multiple best-selling novels and watching Real Housewives while eating desserts…that is totally fine.

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To take all these thoughts further, though, I realize I should constantly be striving to be a better version of me…right? We’re under pressure – whether that be from the media or people around us we feel judged by or from ourselves – to be attractive and kind and brilliant and fun and funny…but not too hot or overly nice or nerdy or too outgoing or obnoxiously hilarious.

This year, I feel like I’ve been in a sort of limbo, and I have been thinking a lot about who I am and what that means and if how I come across is correct or acceptable or even okayish. Furthermore, since I’m now a teacher and a wife (weird), I feel like I have to be even more on my toes…yet I still need to be myself…so I should keep living my life in ways I enjoy…but I also need to always be inspiring and educating and pushing these other people…then theyyy can live life in great ways…and thennn motivate others to do the same.

ALSOOO…

Since I wrote the first part of this blog post, I’ve had numerous other similar conversations, such as…

a. Did you know that 20 percent of people in their 20s and early 30s are currently living with their parents and that 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from parents? Is this bad…or does this say something about today’s educational system (Hello, never-ending student loan debt) and workforce (Entry-level requirements = 10 years in a similar position – But how??)?

b. Did you know that moving back to your hometown – whether you live with your parents or not – can feel super strange, especially if you’re surrounded by people who used to be in your life, then weren’t but now kinda are…? (It’s bittersweet – Just ask me, my bff who’s in a similar situation and this BuzzFeed writer)

c. Did you know that our generation is okay with spending the majority of free time using Instagram and Netflix? Yes, it’s good to have hobbies and get outside and take tech breaks, and doing such things is easier if you live in a city or are surrounded by fun people or don’t mind getting out of your introvert comfort bubble. I am a homebody, and I admit to liking my cat more than most people – but I also travel and read and go play basketball and grab frequent drinks with people. Therefore, I think there needs to be a balance, because it’s become “cool” to be this person who never leaves home and is disgusted by everyone…but when that starts transcending into real life…and leading to unmotivated students, grouchy employees, rude people and to boring/uninspirational people in general…that’s a problem.

Okay, crazy thoughts over! What do YOU think we should focus on while here? How do YOU cope with a million thoughts/pressure/life? What do YOU think about the whole “I hate people” syndrome? When do YOU want to come watch Housewives with me? 😉

I’ll Tell You What I Want…

I hope

that I get to be creative every day for the rest of my life.

that my boyfriend and I are still cool bffs 70 years from now.

polar bears don’t go extinct.

more truly scary movies come out.

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I dream

of publishing at least one book.

of being famous…or at least rubbing shoulders with even more famous people (since 148 = not enough).

that my teeth fall out.

of traveling the world with my loved ones.

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I aspire to be

better than I am.

a happy and healthy mother (to possibly many children, all fabulously dressed).

excited to wake up 87 percent of the time, ready to conquer the day, in some way/shape/form.

someone people enjoy being around and writing letters to.

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I wish I could

get my points across better.

live multiple lives.

pay off student loans faster.

adopt/save every cat out there.

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If your New Year Resolution is to get more organized…

…I’m here to help!

I’m the kid who had her Barbie accessories separated into distinct Ziploc baggies…the student who straightened her teachers’ desks…the daughter who loved to help her mom put the groceries away (in nice, neat rows) and help her dad file bills and paperwork (in his many filing cabinets)…and a girl who just really loves organization!

My habits border the OCD line, but they help me stay sane, clean, punctual and efficient.

For my 21st birthday, I asked for a filing cabinet of my own, and now, each drawer has a purposeful use, and its insides are even whittled down to (for example) folders for cards from friends, that I received on my birthday, that had to do with graduation, etc.

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My clothes are hung by color and style, and even my junkiest closet has separate boxes for electrical supplies, decorations I’m not using, craft items and so on.

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You may think I’m crazy, but I challenge you to add some structure to your life!

Reasons why you should…

  • Knock on wood, I don’t know if I’ve ever lost anything.
  • My house is inviting, with everything in its place and a place for everything.
  • I’m always super early to where I’m going – and a lot of this is due to the fact that I’m not fumbling around in the closet, searching for my keys, etc.
  • There are only 24 hours in a day, and if your kid knows where he/she should leave forms for you to sign (Create a homework/parent portal!), if your spouse can easily access his/her golf clubs (Make a sports rack inside the garage door!), if you yourself can easily see what groceries to buy, what library books to return and what events you need to attend this weekend (I love organization stations!) – your life will be a happier and smoother thing!

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…and my tips for how to begin…

  • Start small: I want you to stop reading, go to your bathroom or kitchen, and choose one drawer or cabinet. First, throw away everything that is expired or unused. While all these items are out, go ahead and clean the space, too (toothpaste gunk and spilled spices shouldn’t be forming a gross layer here). Next, set it all back in nice and neat (maybe you even want to alphabetize or stack from tallest to shortest). Not too hard, right?! Once you’ve got an area under control, you can move on to pesky closets and overwhelming garages.
  • Elastic, cardboard boxes, egg cartons…: All these household items are your friends! Yes, The Container Store is amazing – but during your cleaning process, you will find up-cycled containers; you can store earrings in that egg carton, wrap elastic around spare cords and use a pretty box you haven’t been utilizing to hold spices or hair products.
  • Expect to expand: Suddenly, you can find things! You’ve even discovered things you forgot you owned! You start arriving to work early, since you easily found your other shoe! Organization has the tendency to pour over into all areas of life, so I expect you to share photos of your clean cars and tidy cubicles! (I’m just finishing up my first semester of  teaching, so continue reading to see how organization has helped me survive here:)

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From using labeled clothespins to hold graded papers together to labeling file folders for forms, substitute info and future quizzes, I stay orderly in the classroom, avoiding piles of paper and the stress of unsuccessfully keeping track of things.

My room has a clean and structured feel, but it’s still pretty and inviting – which I feel promotes learning.

Furthermore, thanks to our digital age and Woodson I.S.D.’s technology grant, I am able to quickly locate essays through Google Drive, send out reminders via email and show reviews on my projection board; all my computer’s files are sorted by tests, slideshows and so on, and I even keep written documentation of why we’ve covered what we’ve covered and how I modified lessons for, say, kids who were absent or GT students.

Falling in love with a new career

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What this first-year English teacher has learned/observed by returning to her hometown to teach our leaders of tomorrow:

  • Classroom management is key (probably the thing I keep hearing most from other teachers and something I have definitely kept in mind, for structured learning)
  • iteachTEXAS (the alternative program through which I’m getting my teaching cert) doesn’t end when you secure a job
  • People respond well to pretty classrooms (and I’m already planning how to decorate next year’s!)
  • Copy and coffee machines are equally and very-much-so important (and usually have long lines)
  • A good mix of technological and traditional teaching methods are important (and I love both!)
  • Many students think it’s okay to use texting language on tests and in essays (it’s not)
  • Never talk down to/about others (especially in a small town or as a teacher, since we’re under magnifying glasses and held to higher standards)
  • There are not enough STAAR resources out there (what are your faves?)
  • Teachers start orientations, decorating, planning and organizing in June (and don’t stop just because it’s 3:30 or the weekend or Christmas break or May)
  • Though it’s mandatory to teach the TEKS (which are tested via the STAAR test, which used to be TAKS and TAAS), implement fun & creative innovation into your lessons
  • I’m not an out-of-the-box, extroverted theater-lover (but my drama students and I have enjoyed class together)
  • Find a teacher who really knows what he/she is doing, and latch on to his/her every word (yay, mentor(s)!)
  • You’ll instantly fall in love with many of your students (just so cute and funny and wonderful and brilliant:)
  • There’s no place I’d rather teach than Woodson, Texas (and I thank the community and school and faculty/staff for welcoming me back with open/loving arms)

HAPPY FALL, Y’ALL!

Bonus: Enjoy my outfits from my first week of school;)

black lbd//crisp look w/ gold accessories//getting in gladiators before summer ends//hippiiie//and a skirt that I may or may not have word to my eighth grade graduation at Woodson!

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Woodson, TX: How to tell you’re from this awesome town!

 You’re probably familiar with those “You know you’re from a small town when…” pages, and I like those funnies as much as the next person…but they’re a little generic. It’s common – especially in tiny Texas town – to have a passion for Friday-night football, a memory of riding a four-wheeler and only one blinking red light…but Woodson, Texas…not a single traffic light, blinking or not!
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Therefore, we need our own honorable pages and relatable stories, right?
I present to you…”Woodson, TX: How to tell you’re from this awesome town!”
Woodson is…
-famous for the Japanese bomb
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-full of many people from the Jones, Brockman and Dickey clans
-fun for hard-working, ambitious and talented Cowboys and Cowgirls (since said boys and girls get to be in sports AND U.I.L AND OAP AND pep squad AND so on…)
In Woodson, you…
-have to ride the Drag for fun – though we used to have a movie theater
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-hang around forever (even if you said you wouldn’t! I mean, you HAVE to come back for Homecoming…and to see your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.)
-have dogs that regularly walk into the school building, Christmas lights on the water tower, chickens in your backyard, snow days on the football field, dress-up days during Homecoming, no waits at a red light and a lifetime of love (and then some!)
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People from Woodson will always…
-remember great moments, like our 2001 six-man team, small-town pancake dinners at the Inn and men-as-women pageant contestants
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-remain close to the few people they graduated with (in some way or another)
-reach for their highest goals, because the people and experiences mentioned above stick with you, reminding you to be the best you can be.
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How to do SXSW

South by Southwest was first held in March 1987, with an expected 150 attendees. Over 700 came, though, and nearly three decades later, the event has grown into a music-business-film haven, with over 70,000 people attending each year.

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What’s so great about it, you ask?

First off, there are celebrities:

Fred Armisen began his comic career with the short film Fred Armisen’s Guide to Music and SXSW, released in 1998.

James Blunt was discovered here while playing a small show at the 2004 SXSW Music festival.

And celebs such as Lady Gaga, Mike Tyson, Grumpy Cat, Selena Gomez and Andy Cohen flock here during March.

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There are also connections:

Hundreds of vendors and companies and CEOs are involved in the festival these days, meaning you can witness the launch of big-name brands (like [maybe] Twitter in 2007 and Foursquare in 2009), meet up with dream employers (like Nina Garcia) and hear from some of the smartest people in your industry.

Furthermore…

It’s a convergence of so many creative ideas, combined with fun marketing stunts (often involving yummy food or free swag), live music, an increase in our amazing city’s economy ($218M impact in 2013) and a great deal of knowledge (because even if you don’t buy a badge, you’ll learn something – more on that later).

So, if you’re interested in going, here’s what you need to know.

#1: Get a hotel. Downtown. Early. These babies fill up quickly, so book a room months in advance, and opt for one close to the Convention Center. Austin really isn’t that big (compared to our neighbors, Houston and Dallas), so it’ll be easy to navigate around downtown, to on- and off-site events – IF you have a hotel down there.

Even if you’re an Austinite, you should still cough up the extra cash for a room, as parking is a nightmare. Yay to slumberparties with close friends and not-as-close colleagues!

#2: Use Uber, pedicabs and your feet. Now, if you do have to meet someone at a restaurant further north or want to explore SoCo (South Congress = funky shops, bats and a great view of the Capitol), which is further south, try out one of our fun alternatives to cabs.

This is a fit city, and if you’re wearing comfy shoes, walking is definitely my top suggestion!

#3: Bring the necessities. You’ll be out and about allll day, so bring your phone charger, a water bottle, some snacks/bars to hold you over and your business cards. That’s really all you need; there are charging stations/water fountains everywhere, and you should hand your cards out to literally everyone you meet – After sending out follow-up emails a few weeks later, you never know who could turn into a client/partner/friend.

#4: Dress accordingly. ATX is amazing in the spring, and since you’ll be walking/surrounded by people, you should dress for warm weather. Since it IS a festival and a hippie town, you can get away with some Coachella-inspired pieces, but it IS also a networking event, so we don’t need flip-flops or bra straps.

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(This fur-over-dress lookskirt with festival-inspired twists and dressed-up fringe are a few examples from my closet.)

#5: Don’t buy a badge. This final piece of advice may surprise you, but I’m sticking with it. Badges are expensive, and unless you’re actually working towards being the next Zuckerberg, realllly into unknown films or a total music person, then I wouldn’t get one. There are SO many free things to attend, and just walking around downtown will lead you to spot celebs, stumble upon surprise concerts, hear some inspirational talks, soak up the culture and get a load of free goodies.

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If you have some spare time to explore the city (you won’t – but still), check out my list of top local attractions!

Start-of-the-Year Inspiration

Three things I’m loving this month…

This luxurious nursery inspired by Nicoletta Ceccoli – It brings just enough cuteness, creepiness and classiness!

This fashionable Christmas tree – Yes, I know the holidays are over, but if someone could start working on this for me, that’d be great…:o

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These lip glosses/chapsticks from Softlips (because we’ve almost grown tired of carrying Eos) – love the cube shape!

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What’s inspiring you this year?