Austin Fave #24 :: Lady Bird Lake

Lifestyle, Real Estate, Real Estate and Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Serving as the enchanting backdrop for Downtown Austin, Lady Bird Lake offers countless opportunities for outdoor entertainment with some of the best views in the city.

Sunset over downtown & Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake

The Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail provides ten miles of breathtaking scenery to enjoy along the water’s edge while getting in your daily exercise, and take it from me, the experience is always invigorating, no matter how many times you’ve made the loop!

It truly is a lush, natural gem in the heart of the city’s core. Find information on access points, etc on the City’s website here.

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Taken from the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail

With easy access points along the trail (and also at Zilker Park),  kayak and paddle board rentals are also available, providing an affordable and easy way to cool off on a hot summer afternoon. Head east on the water to admire the reflection of skyscrapers on the dazzling waters, or head west to revel in the views of the hill country setting.

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Lady Bird Lake

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Lady Bird Lake facing West at sunset

 

Another mainstay attraction on Lady Bird Lake happens around dusk each night during the summer when 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats take flight from underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge. This is the largest colony of urban bats in North America, and it has become a fascinating tourist attraction- though I recommend it to any residents who haven’t yet been- generating more than ten million dollars in tourism revenue annually.

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Lady Bird Lake

I could go on and on about reasons to visit Lady Bird Lake- visit the Stevie Ray Vaughn memorial, take in the city views from the Doug Sahm Hill in Butler Park or take your four-legged friends over for some leash-free time. And whatever you chose to do, be sure to stop for at least one of the countless photo ops!

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Stevie Ray Vaughn Statue on the Hike and Bike Trail and Lady Bird Lake

 

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Austin Faves: Top 25 Countdown

Real Estate and Lifestyle, Uncategorized

There are so many wonderful aspects of life here in Austin directly related to the city itself, its beauty and its culture. Many of us wake up each day feeling lucky just to have the opportunity to live in such a dynamic place, where it seems there is quite literally something for everyone.

And so, in an honest attempt to get back to regularly blogging, I’ve been inspired to share a countdown of my absolute favorite things about living in Austin.

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Live music at Tellers last Saturday :: April 2016

# 25 :: The Weird Factor

While the weird factor clearly goes hand in hand with the city’s  “Keep Austin Weird” slogan, the idea encompasses much more than non-Austinites realize. The weird factor epitomizes the thoughts that you literally never know what you may come across/see (even on the streets of downtown), what events/opportunities may present themselves and/or what you may find yourself doing on any given day (in the best way possible and with an open mind of course).

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Late night brats on Sixth Street anyone? :: April 2016

From dudes in thongs riding bicycles downtown, to mini-festivals year round celebrating everything from brass instruments to Old Pecan Street; from a perennially Christmas-themed bar to the Cathedral of Junk and the actual Museum of the Weird; the general laissez faire attitude of the residents constructs an open platform of creativity with endless possibilities.

Last weekend was one of those weekends for me. After strolling downtown on Saturday evening, admiring the Capitol views, running across animated characters such as the two in the bratwurst cart above, popping in one place for some live music, then into another for a fantastic light dinner, Sunday was wide open.

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Last Saturday’s dinner at Parkside :: April 2016

I’d seen mention of the Honk! Festival some place or other, looked it up and decided to check it out. It was even more amazingly weird than I could have ever imagined!

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Honk! Festival 2016 at Pan Am Park :: April 2016

According to its website: “HONK!TX is a nonprofit, community-driven festival that brings street and brass bands from around the country to perform for free in the public spaces of Austin, Texas. Mobile and unamplified, HONK! bands transform everyday locations into spontaneous stages, dissolving the line between crowd and performers and inviting everyone to celebrate the joys of music and community.”

While I’ve never considered myself an aficionado of the brass arts, the music was wonderful! And the costumes were out of this world as colorful tutus, striped overalls, wild hats and random leotards constituted the dress code for many of the bands’ participants. It was a great experience, and I look forward to attending this free event again next year! 🙂

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Honk! Fest at Pan Am Park :: April 2016

 Y’all, the entertainment possibilities here in Austin are truly endless, but here’s a nice guide from Do512 if you’re looking to get a little weird this weekend. 🙂
Until next time,
Hope

 

Real Estate Love

Real Estate, Real Estate and Lifestyle, Uncategorized

WalletHub recently ranked 2016’s Best & Worst Cities to be in Real Estate, and guess who’s coming in strong at the number four best city in the nation for the profession?

That’s right. Austin, Texas.

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SXSW 2014 :: HopeLivesAustin Photos

As many of you know, I essentially grew up in the world of Real Estate, worked in the industry as an assistant through college, and actually began my career before I  graduated from UT. I have clients ask me regularly, you look so young to be in real estate! How old are you?!

If you’re wondering, I’m 28.  I’ve been licensed for over 5 years, and while there have been some growing pains, they’ve been the most rewarding five years of my life.

Me, Mom and Dad REMAX

My parents and I at the RE/MAX State Convention 2013

Yes, I will agree with WalletHub, Austin is a fantastic city for the profession, but while I’m sure most people immediately think $$$, I have my own reasons.

To begin with, I LOVE working with relocation buyers. While it can be a sometimes daunting task to try to find the ‘perfect’ house in the ‘perfect’ location at an under budget price, their energies are always so full excitement! Plus, a large part of my job is to manage expectations for new buyers anyway, to listen to their wants and needs and to educate them on an otherwise overwhelming and vast sea of options–  at the end of the day, I always tell them, I’m your options girl.

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My Team Leader and I at the Platinum Top 50 Blue Party in 2014

That excited energy is so contagious! After all, Austin is an exciting place to be, but hands down, the most rewarding part of it all is helping people live and fulfill their own American dreams. There are no words to fully express how much I love meeting with people, hearing their stories, getting to know them and their families and then helping them through what can be one of the most emotional transactions of a lifetime.

Real Estate is a relationship based business, and I treasure the relationships I’ve had the pleasure of building through these last several years. Often, post closing, I sincerely miss getting to see and visit with my clients regularly, though we do try to keep in touch across our busy schedules with an occasional lunch, dinner or quick coffee date.

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Post closing(s) dinner with some of my wonderful clients in January!

As cheesy as it may sound, my team and I sincerely care about our clients. We love what we do, and we truly work from the heart. I believe that comes across clearly to our clients as well.

Plus, who doesn’t like touring homes, exploring different architectures and admiring all of the lovely finishes? 😉

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Downtown Austin across Lady Bird Lake

There are many aspects of this job that I absolutely love, but to bring it full circle, I believe that what my clients say post transaction about my services speaks volumes as to how much I truly love what I do. Below is my latest client review from the Francis’ family who just closed on an incredible waterfront house on Lake Travis:

My wife and I were scrambling for help when our experience with another realtor wasn’t going well. A friend referred us to Hope, and she was a life-saver. We had limited time in Texas, and she made excellent use of it. She was amazingly responsive, personable, and able to filter out the “noise” to help us quickly find the house we truly wanted. We weren’t initially interested in the house we selected, but Hope provided excellent counsel and insisted we take a closer look. We’re so happy she did! She was also great at providing unbiased recommendations for lenders and inspectors. Her network is fantastic! 5 stars across the board…she found us the perfect house and under budget!”

And please feel free to read through my other reviews from my gracious clients on my Zillow profile.

Until next time,

Hope

Weekend Recharge

Real Estate and Lifestyle

Each Friday, about half way through the day I begin to feel this sense of excitement, a flutter of riveting anticipation: What will this glorious weekend in Austin behold?

With an Austin bucket list a mile long, the possibilities are always seemingly endless with new restaurants to try, different trails to hike, more natural beauty to be observed… the list goes on forever.

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East Side Show Room :: January 2016

Unlike most other weekends, I went into the last with no solid plans other than to show several homes in Central Austin on Sunday [which is ALWAYS fun! :)]. On the rare occasion that this happens, I am always extremely excited at the thought of exploring the city, discovering new gems and hot spots along the way.

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Zilker Brewing Company :: January 2016

Friday night, somewhat last minute, my friend Kate and I decided to go to dinner to catch up. We ended up at Juliet, a modern twist on classic Italian food, centrally located on Barton Springs Road. The atmosphere was charming and almost magnetic with the buzz of conversation and laughter over creative cocktails and scrumptious bites.

Kate and I visited Italy over the summer together, so our standards for Italian food are considerably high. After debating over what to order, we opted for an olive oil tasting and mixed olives to start followed by their carbonara dish and a pizze, which we shared.

Oh. My. Goodness. Deliciousness! [And plenty of food.] We had a wonderful experience.

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Juliet :: January 2016

Saturday was equally as fantastic. The weather was incredible- sunny and 70’s, and I was determined to spend as much time outside as possible! After playing tennis, a few friends and I decided to put together a small picnic and head to the greenbelt.

We opted for the Campbell’s Hole entrance point off of Spyglass, and ended up staying until after the sunset.

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Campbell’s Hole :: January 2016

There we were, sitting in the city’s center, soaking it all up. The jagged limestone cliffs and the bright blue sky set an ideal backdrop for watching the sun sparkle over the clear rushing waters, revealing ancient histories of time–the slabs of rock worn down and shaped over thousands of years. It was mesmerizing.

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Campbells Hole :: January 2016

I remember sitting there, watching the sunset and thinking, is this real life? Words cannot do it justice, but it really makes you reflect on life’s bigger picture– give more, do more, love more, be thankful.

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Sunset at Campbell’s Hole :: January 2016

Sunday was great too. Showing in Central Austin is always a blast, and the rest of the afternoon was spent preparing for this week.

In Real Estate you spend A LOT of your time on the go, and some weeks you feel like you don’t stop other than to sleep– and then you dream about real estate too! 😉 But this morning I woke up feeling completely recharged, feeling thankful for a job in which I get to help people and ever so thankful to be waking up in the amazing city of Austin, Texas.

Until next time,

Hope

 

 

Austin Lovin’ in the New Year

Lifestyle, Real Estate, Real Estate and Lifestyle

The New Year began with a bang here in beautiful Austin, Texas as the moving trucks continue to roll in with home values on the rise.

Reflecting back on 2015, home prices and the number of home sales set all-time high records, and with job and population growth expected to continue at strong pace, 2016 is projected to be a rosy year in the Austin area market.

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I suppose that when you’re negotiating multiple offers on a waterfront house on Lake Travis on Christmas Eve, then writing two more offers your first week back in the office post holidays, its a sure sign of growth and economic strength in this magical city.

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North Shore of Lake Travis while out previewing homes for a client :: December 2015

If you haven’t spent much time enjoying the beautiful landscape of Lake Travis, do yourself a favor and get out there! The rolling hills, expansive green space and the 228 days of sunshine that Austin reportedly gets per year make for an incredible, breathtaking landscape!

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Lake Travis Sunset from Lucy’s Fried Chicken :: December 2015

There are a few good places to enjoy the view on the South Shore, and Lucy’s Fried Chicken is a good stop to make. They have plenty of outdoor seating, live music, a nice selection of cocktails and of course, chicken. The panoramic views from this spot are indescribable, especially at sunset.

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Lake Travis Sunset from Lucy’s :: December 2015

Lake Travis’ North Shore is equally as beautiful, but if you’re traveling from Austin, the drive is a bit longer. On either side of the lake there are great nature trails to hike, gorgeous photos to be taken and many opportunities to immerse yourself in the true beauty of our wonderful city.

Until next time,

Hope

Market Snapshot + Austin Summer Fun

Real Estate and Lifestyle

Despite the constant rain, it  has been an incredibly busy selling season here in Austin. Both April and May set new records for median and average home prices, and the average time on market per home is only two days!

Sculpture Falls via Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail System

Sculpture Falls via Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail System

According to the Austin Board of Realtors’ May housing report, the median price for Austin-area single-family homes increased nine percent year-over-year to $271,000 in May 2015, while average price increased seven percent to $348,201.

While it is an exciting time to be investing in Austin real estate, buyers are facing major frustrations. In many cases, when a house hits the market in your target area and price range, you need to be there that very same day or it is an opportunity lost. And if you like it, you need to be prepared to bid against the other 50 people who like it, too!

Blues on the Green with Jimmie Vaughn :: Summer 2015

Blues on the Green with Jimmie Vaughn :: Summer 2015

With only 25 percent of single family housing options in Central Texas below $200,000, affordability is still a growing problem in our market.

Difficult as it may be, there is a bright side for shoppers in that corner of the market. Local real estate and financial analyst, Mark Sprague, shared a glimmer of excitement for  buyers in that price range in an economic forecast he delivered in April. Sprague explained how buyers under $300k will see the greatest and fastest appreciation of any price point over the next several years, as it will serve as an entry point in our market for first time home buyers and the like.

Campbell's Hole :: June 2015

Campbell’s Hole :: June 2015

In the midst of my crazy real estate driven life, I try take advantage of every opportunity I have to explore and experience my beautiful city. After all, Austin is SO much fun in the summer! Of the minimal sunny days we’ve had, I managed to make it out to Sculpture Falls via the Hill of Life trail entrance one Saturday, and to Campbell’s Hole via Barton Skyway the next.

I love Austin swimming holes!! And with all of this rain, the water is amazing on a warm day. The energy is always vibrant with live music, laughter and a shared sense of appreciation for the natural beauty surrounding us all. I can’t get enough!

If you want to know how to access a particular spot, or if you just have general questions, give me a shout!

xo,

Hope

Card Happening + A Giveaway

Lifestyle, Real Estate, Real Estate and Lifestyle

For years now, I’ve implemented a simple concept in my business that requires little time, but yields great results– sending personal, hand-written notes on a routine basis. Whether it is to a new acquaintance,  a past client, or just a friend or family member, everyone seems to appreciate the time and thought put into this small gesture.

CardHappenings :: Spring 2015

Card Happening :: Spring 2015

So naturally, when I randomly met Elizabeth and William of Card Happening and heard their story, I was captivated. Essentially, they take the personal note to another level with one-of-a-kind, stunning hand-painted cards inspired by natural phenomena.

CardHappening :: 2015

Card Happening :: 2015

While their styles reflect and are inspired by certain phenomenon, no two cards are the same, making each personally sent note truly unique and different from any other.

CardHappening :: Spring 2015

Card Happening :: Spring 2015

And since I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with the founders of Card Happening, I would love to introduce them to all of you, too. They are a fabulous, two-person team: William is the Sales and Applied Technologies Rep, and Elizabeth is the the amazing artist behind it all.

CardHappening :: Spring 2015

Card Happening :: Spring 2015

I will briefly share their inspiring, dream seeking journey, but as I cannot fully do it justice, I encourage you all to read their story on their website here.

Overall, Card Happening is driven by the fundamental belief that beauty is a happening, hence the name Card Happening. Inspired by the wildness of nature, each individual stroke and layer on every card is intentional– carefully thought out by Elizabeth in order to create a mesmerizing experience, different for each recipient.

CardHappening :: Spring 2015

Card Happening :: Spring 2015

Elizabeth has been hand-making greeting cards for friends and family out of various materials for many years. From paints to wrapping paper, to soup can labels and much more, each card was different as she conveyed each greeting through her artistic ability and creativity.


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Elizabeth loved creating these beautiful works of art so much so, that she and William decided to share this alluring concept of her one-of-a-kind greeting cards with the public– and so Card Happening was born.

Card Happening :: Spring 2015

Card Happening :: Spring 2015

Upon first meeting Elizabeth and William, they generously gave me a set of three of their unique greeting-cards. Even in that moment, I felt honored to receive their simple gift as I immediately recognized the sheer beauty and passion put into the creation.

These greeting cards leave wonderful, lasting impressions. The colors are vibrant with each stroke wildly different from the next, and the results are strikingly beautiful.

CardHappening :: Spring 2015

Card Happening :: Spring 2015

Since meeting Elizabeth and William, I’ve given many of their cards to clients with my personal message inside. People absolutely love them! And its so much fun to go through and pick out a specific style and card for each client + I LOVE supporting local businesses. Its a win-win all around.

CardHappening :: Spring 2015

Card Happening :: Spring 2015

Lucky for you guys, they are giving away sets of three cards (one of each style) to three lucky winners through HopeLivesAustin in the next 24 hours! Enter to win the contest by liking HopeLivesAustin on Facebook or Instagram, by liking @CardHappening on Instagram or by sharing this post!

And if you aren’t one of the lucky winners, but you’re interested in ordering some for yourself, Card Happening greeting cards can be purchased at the Blanton Museum here in Austin, or through their user-friendly website. You can also follow them on Instagram: @CardHappening

I love Card Happening and I know you will, too!

xo,

Hope

For the Love of Texas

Real Estate and Lifestyle

Record breaking rains + devastating floods in the Great State have dominated news outlets, even nationally, over the last few weeks. While my close friends and family across Texas have been fortunate enough to stay safe so far, it has absolutely been a wild ride.

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All of the flood gates of the massive dam at Richland Chambers Lake open after a massive rain.

In many ways, everyday life has slowed after numerous weather delays, and life has not been normal this year compared to other spring seasons for Texans across this sprawling, beautiful state.

Last week my friend, Kate, and I went to visit my parents for Memorial Day Weekend. After watching a vigorous storm blow in from the boathouse on Monday (at what seemed to be lightening speed) we sprinted into the house and hunkered down in the closet, delayed from returning home to Austin due to flash flooding and tornadoes surrounding us.

Richland Chambers Lake :: Memorial Day Storm 2015

Richland Chambers Lake :: Memorial Day Storm 2015

After checking with friends in Austin, we wouldn’t have been able to return home anyway. Parts of central & downtown Austin were flooded and tornadoes were circling our northern suburbs too. However, we were much more fortunate than our south/southwestern neighbors in Wimberley and San Marcos.

Many people lost their homes & cars, others lost their loved ones, and still others lost their lives. If you would like to help, the American Red Cross needs volunteers, and if you are unable to volunteer, you can make a donation here.

Friday, May 29th :: Our first sunny day in Austin post flooding

Friday, May 29th :: Our first sunny day in Austin post flooding

The sun is shining here in Austin today, and while we are expected to get some drier weather soon, we are not in the clear. Keep Texas in your prayers, and if you don’t pray, send us lots of good vibes and thoughts! They are much appreciated, and even more necessary.

On a much lighter note, I have partnered with a local, hand-painted greeting card company here in Austin, and next week we will be sending you guys some free goods!! They are CardHappening, and their work is nothing short of stunning. My team at REMAX just ordered several dozen! Here’s a little sneak preview of their amazing greeting cards.

CardHappenings :: May 2015

CardHappenings :: May 2015

Next Thursday I will be featuring CardHappening, telling you their awesome story, sharing their work, and sending out some goodies to you guys! Don’t miss out!

xo,

Hope

Market Update: Let’s talk numbers!

Real Estate and Lifestyle

While January proved to be a strong start to the new year, the real estate market has since gained momentum at a lightning fast speed! In the last seven days, I’ve written four offers– three of which were in multiple offer situations, and we are only entering the busy season.

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It’s a good thing I don’t mind living, breathing and sleeping real estate, because I’ve literally been dreaming of client meetings and winning out crazy multiple-offer bids whilst jaunting around town making dreams come true by slingin’ real estate!

We are still waiting on the full analysis of February’s numbers from the Austin Board of Realtors, but January looked a little something like this:

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  • 1,547- single-family homes sold
  • $240k- median price for single-family homes
  • $310k- the average price for single-family homes
  • $480 million- total dollar volume of single-family properties sold, up 27% from January of 2014 (WOW!)shutterstock_130101671

With job & population growth still on the rise, it is a very exciting time for buyers to be investing in Austin real estate!

Until next time, I’ll be running around like a crazy person trying to accommodate all of my buyers and maybe fitting in some SXSW fun too!

XO,

Hope

Playing Catch Up

Real Estate and Lifestyle

November has flown by so far, and with Thanksgiving this week, the month will be over before we know it! Well my friends, it’s been a crazy month! I know I left you high and dry for a spell, so let me catch you up on what’s been going on in my absence.

Unfortunately, the first week in November I came down with the flu. I was out of commission for an entire seven days. Let me tell you, it felt amazing to just function like a normal person again! Needless to say, the world kept turning, and I spent every second of the next week attempting to catch up on what I missed while out.

Between working with great new buyers, preparing for the upcoming holidays, and nailing down a new place to live, I have literally been on the move—constantly.

Historically, home sales tend to slow during this time of year, but here in Austin, we are busy!  With the Texas economy setting a record for the third consecutive month in October for jobs added, the unemployment rate for the greater Austin area dropped to just 4% (down from 5.2% in October of 2013). These people need homes, and they need them ASAP, despite what time of year it is! Austin’s October home sales remained consistent with September, and overall, the number of sales and values are up from last year, according to the latest data from the Austin Board of Realtors (ABOR). Additionally, we’ve seen an increase in inventory, which was desperately needed.

Greetings from Austin! I shot the photo of this iconic mural several months ago for the revamp of our team website!

Greetings from Austin! I shot the photo of this iconic mural several months ago for the revamp of our team website.

This is good news of course, but with the average sales price for last month climbing to over $311,000, affordability issues are still very much at hand. According to a November 20th article by the Austin Business Journal, ABOR’s 2014 President, Bill Evans, is still lobbying for policies that encourage more affordable housing options in the city.

“This additional housing inventory is encouraging, but we’ve got a long way to go before homeownership options and availability meet demand in our city,” Evans said in a written statement. “To get us there we need a regulatory environment that supports all types of affordable housing options.”

Exactly what kind of options is he discussing? I am putting together some research on my end for a post on the topic in the near future as this is a very prevalent issue in our current market.

Moving on, let’s talk some fun before signing off for the day. First of all, when did winter become wedding season?! Don’t get me wrong, I am very honored to be invited to celebrate the love of so many wonderful people, but my schedule is busy! December looks like this: three weddings, lots of Christmas parties, my birthday, a visit from my Seattle-residing sister AND moving into a new place among long hours at work. Whew! That much fun shouldn’t be allowed in one month!

In between all of these festivities, I am looking forward to bringing happy buyers and sellers together during this wonderful time of year! I don’t know about you, but it seems that the busier I am, the more my capacity for production grows. The adrenaline of constantly moving from one thing to another just seems to keeps me on my toes, and I LOVE it!

Speaking of celebrations, the last few weeks saw wedding anniversaries for two wonderful couples. The first was the 28th Anniversary of my amazing parents. I apologize if you’ve heard their story before, but it never gets old in my opinion. These two lovebirds met on a blind date and eloped three short weeks later. I’ve never met two people so in love, and the example they’ve set for my siblings and I is absolutely incredible.

A semi-recent family photo. We are all looking forward to being reunited for the holidays!

A semi-recent family photo. We are all looking forward to being reunited for the holidays!

My friends Jessica and Ellis also just celebrated a special anniversary—their first. I remember their wedding and the surrounding festivities vividly as they were gracious enough to let me invade their lives for a few weeks for a photo project.  Here are a few photos from their wedding weekend:

Jessica and Paul right before he walked her down the aisle!

Jessica and Paul right before he walked her down the aisle!

Jessica's beautiful ring!

Jessica’s beautiful ring!

The week before their anniversary this year, Ellis called to get me in on a sweet surprise for Jessica—a downtown photo shoot for their first wedding anniversary! It was funny. I met them at the train station downtown, camera in hand, and Jessica was like, “Whoa! What are you doing here?!” The shoot was impromptu, but lots of fun. Here are a few of my favorite shots.

Love

Pure love.

Jessica & Ellis with downtown Austin's iconic Frost Tower in the background.

Jessica & Ellis with downtown Austin’s iconic Frost Tower in the background.

What an adorable couple! Jess & Ellis with Sixth Street in the background!

What an adorable couple! Jess & Ellis with Sixth Street in the background.

With so much love and happiness in the air this time of year, I can’t help but to wake up every morning feeling thankful.  But, that’s an entirely separate blog, coming soon to a screen near you!

Love & light,

H