Attention Dog Lovers!

Lifestyle

To all of my dog-loving friends, this one is for you!

Yet another great aspect of this wonderful city is the general population’s pet-friendly attitude. There are a multitude of different types of venues, including restaurants, bars, parks, hotels and more that will welcome you and your pet with open arms. In fact, many of them further accommodate to offer water bowls and doggie treats!

I personally do not have a dog (yet), but while my parents were out of the country over the summer, our family dog came to stay with me for a few weeks. Willie Rooter is a 10 year old Dachshund who is convinced he is a person. He also happens to be one of my best friends. He looks extra dapper in this photo I took a few summers ago at our old house.

William Rooter Teel, friend, licker & lover of all things related to treats and snoozing.

William Rooter Teel, friend, licker & lover of all things related to treats and snoozing.

While he was visiting, I took him with me whenever and wherever I could. He made his first trip into Pet Smart on the first day, and of course, he got nervous and pooped right there in the floor while a little girl was trying to pet him. Haha

Willie Rooter and I at Double Daves Pizza summer 2014.

Willie Rooter and I at Double Daves Pizza summer 2014.

We also made it to Bouldin Creek Cafe, Double Daves, a few parks and some other places. He was truly a little dog in the big city over those two weeks, and we had fun!

Austin Culture Map has a great link to the top 10 most dog-friendly hangouts in Austin, but there are many, many more!

In addition to dog-friendly spots to visit, Austin Fit Magazine also hold an annual Fittest Dog Contest. This year I had the opportunity to photograph my beautiful roommate, Kate, and her awesome dog, Leon, for Leon’s submission into the contest.

Kate and Leon sprinting across the park near Townlake.

Kate and Leon sprinting across the park near Townlake.

Kate submitted Leon’s entry with this great description:

Leon enjoys his 4 mile runs around town lake and pushes his companion to the very end with his galloping pace of 8 minute miles (that’s tough for a 90Ib big guy!). After his run, he enjoys racing with sprints along the open green and a few hill climbs by Auditorium Shores. He’s a one of a kind out on town lake getting his fit on! Leon also will play tug of war to the death, if you’re up for the challenge. Dogos were bred in Argentina over a 25 year span for the specific purpose of pig hunting, oh and also for saving little children from mountain lions. Can your dog beat up a mountain lion? Takes an athlete for that fight. Leon’s upcoming workouts include pulling a weighted tire to work on sculpting his chest. Who needs a gym, just be like Leon and go Rocky style.

Leon. Enough said!

Leon. Enough said!

Look at that handsome boy go!! We can’t wait to find out if he wins!!

Take a look at the AFM Fittest Dog 2014 winners here— you won’t be disappointed at this overload of doggie-cuteness!!!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Until next time my friends,

H

Advertisements

ATX Love: Rain or Shine + Kindness

Lifestyle

I promise weather won’t be the only topic covered in 2015, but for today’s blog I do have a few comments. As discussed previously, we Austinites love the sunshine and clear blue skies. After just a few rainy days, we can begin to get a bit cranky. I know you Seattleites (namely my sister, Kels) would tell us to quit being a bunch of babies, but hey, who doesn’t love the warm feel of golden sunshine on a crisp chilly day?

The last several days have been rain, shine, rain, shine, rain shine. My friend Stephanie came in for the weekend, but we didn’t let the rain get us down! In fact, Steph, Kate and I went for a drizzly hike on the greenbelt early Saturday morning!

On the greenbelt last Saturday. No joke, this dude ate it right after kayaking over these falls. I did get to send him a few good photos though, and he loved them!

On the greenbelt last Saturday. No joke, this dude ate it right after kayaking over these falls. I did get to send him a few good photos though, and he loved them!

Despite the misty rain, it was a fantastic hike. The drizzle kept many of the regular patrons home, and there was soo much water–more than I’ve even seen on the Twin Falls trail! It was as beautiful and invigorating as ever.

Later that day Steph and I stopped at HEB to grab a few things. As I was coming around with the umbrella, I see that the Jeep Commander next to us has a window down. I say to Steph, “Oh no, look at the window down on that Jeep. That sucks!”

“Do you want to do something really nice for them?” Steph replies.

“Umm yep!! Sure do!”

So, we got some newspaper out of her trunk and put it over their window to keep the rain out. Fast forward. We get back to the car to find this note on the windshield. What a great feeling!

People are awesome!!

People are awesome!!

This morning I woke up thinking, “Great, yet another rainy day!” But if you know me whatsoever, you know I am all about keeping it positive no matter what. I also believe that it is important to begin your morning with positive, happy thoughts in order to set the tone for the day. It may sound cheesy, but believe me people, it works!

Rain-me_pp

Taking rainy day selfies this afternoon!

So how can I put a positive spin on this rain today? Almost immediately I became excited thinking about this adorable umbrella which was a gift from my gracious team leader, Camille. How cute is this?!

Yes, I am a dork who took a photo of their adorable umbrella.

Yes, I am a dork who took a photo of their cuteee umbrella.

As we don’t normally get too much rain down here in Austin, Texas, I don’t get to pull out an umbrella very often! I just love this one though!! And so today, I found another way to be excited about the rain. 🙂

Nonetheless, here’s to hoping for sunshine tomorrow…

Taken last week from the Townlake trail.

Taken last week from the Townlake trail. 

Until next time,

Hope

Your Austin Area Market Update

Real Estate

The year has begun with a bang here in Austin, setting the pace for what economists predict will be another great year in real estate, and Your Austin Area Home Team is excited!

FrostTower

Austin’s Iconic Frost Tower

Despite December’s holiday-bustle factor, homes sales remained strong last month, setting the record for an all-time-high with almost 2,300 home sales and a median sales price of $246,530 for the Austin metro-area. That momentum carried us into a robust January, and there is no end in sight. I was literally negotiating on a multiple offer situation while at a wedding on New Year’s Eve! We submitted a clean, strong offer, won the bid and executed on New Year’s Day.Yes, I am dedicated to my clients no matter what is going on, but talk about a great way to start the New Year!

View of the Capitol down Congress Avenue

View of the Capitol down Congress Avenue

In a nutshell, 2014 looked a little something like this: Around 66,000 people moved into Austin, and over 39,000 jobs were added to the economy. Our strongest economic drivers were (and still are) population growth, technology and enterprise, the education and health sectors, and of course, the value added from our world famous festivals. SXSW, ACL, Fun Fun Fun Fest & F1 + many, many others contributed over $1.4 billion to Austin’s economy over the last two years alone. Collectively, these factors made 2014 a great year for Austin Real Estate. Check out the year’s stats in the graphic below.

Austin Area Market Stats for 2014

Austin Area Market Stats for 2014

Local economists are predicting that another 69,000+ jobs will be added to the economy in 2015 & 2016, and population growth will likely correlate directly. We are still facing the same housing obstacles that 2014 encountered– low inventory levels and affordability, but considering the simple supply and demand principle, 2015 will be another stellar year for the Austin real estate market.

If you know anyone thinking of buying, selling or leasing in the greater Austin area, give me a call or just send them my way! Always happy to help!

Happy Thursday!

Hope

Brew + Brew

Lifestyle

Let’s talk two of my favorites today: good, strong coffee and great craft beer. Luckily, we have many wonderful options here in Austin for either– and I’m not talking your run of the mill chains like Starbucks or Third Base Sports Bar. While I’m not knocking those establishments whatsoever, I would much rather support local businesses while soaking up their weird Austin vibes and funky fresh atmospheres.

Inside of Whip In

Inside of Whip In

Whip In is another one of those unique, Austin-y places whose relaxed atmosphere reminds me of why I love this city so much. Originally a convenience store, located right off of I-35, they are now an eccentric little bar with a full menu, wine bar, small market and 72 beers on tap! They also host live music, and they have a great little patio outside. Check out their website here. This place is seriously cool, and definitely a hidden gem of Austin.

Whip In selfie!

Whip In selfie!

As far as coffee goes, I have many favorite spots. Brew & Brew, Thunderbird Coffee and Bouldin Creek are among my top picks, but when it is as sunny and beautiful outside as it has been today, Mozarts is a no-brainer!

Mozarts on Lake Austin

Mozarts on Lake Austin

I began frequenting Mozarts as a freshman at UT. My friends and I would pile into a car, trek it down to the lakeside and have major study sessions while sipping on espresso and taking in the views. What better way to study, right?!

Mozarts outdoor area shot this morning.

Mozarts outdoor area shot this morning.

I met a fellow agent for coffee at Mozarts this morning, and we soaked up the crisp, fresh air as we exchanged ideas for growing our businesses while sitting right at the water’s edge. The lake was just stunning as the clear blue skies reflected off of the calm water. What a way to begin this wonderful Tuesday!

Lake Austin

Lake Austin

As I know you can all see, I love this incredible city SO very much, and I am honored to be able to share it with all of you!

Stay tuned for a market update later this week! Happy Tuesday!

xo,

Hope

Sunshiny Dreams of Austin Treasures in the Happy New Year

Lifestyle

The forecast has been teasing us here in Austin since the end of last week, promising sunny days and warmer temps, but not delivering. This glimmering hope of sunshine and 50 degree temperatures seemed to taunt me as I showed 30+ houses to clients over the course of three days. The good news? Yes, we found them a wonderful new home, and we are officially under contract! The bad news? Its cold and rainy, and we Austinites miss the sunshine! No complaints, but warmth and the typical bright blue skies are intertwined among the reasons we choose to live in Texas, right?

SUNSHINE! This is something Austinites love as our beautiful city has so much to offer in the way of outdoor activities. I could never tire of kayaking/paddle-boarding on Lady Bird Lake while enjoying the downtown skyline, hiking and exploring the many greenbelt trails, diving into our numerous (and spectacular) swimming holes or enjoying an evening on a patio with cold drinks and great friends.

I know, I know, just the thought of it all has me longing for summer already, so I’ll stop! There are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors during the winter months here in Austin, as long as its not raining!

One of this city’s greatest treasures is its expansive greenbelt trail system. Take it from me, your hiking/biking routines don’t have to come to a halt just because the weather is a bit cooler. It is still a fantastic way to get out of the house, get your blood flowing and reconnect with dear old Mother Nature.

Barton Creek Greenbelt, shot in January of 2014.

Barton Creek Greenbelt, taken on one of my winter hikes, shot in January of 2014.

Yes, winter visits offer a completely different experience than summer, but the sights are equally as beautiful. Not to mention, it is absolutely fascinating to be able to experience the exact same place in two very different visual existences.

Time lapse photo I shot on a hike last January at Twin Falls.

Time lapse photo I shot on a hike last January at Twin Falls.

Although protected greenbelts stretch throughout all of Austin and the surrounding Central Texas areas, the Barton Creek Greenbelt serves as a centrally located natural oasis, just minutes from the city’s urban core.

Taken on one of my winter hikes in January of this year from the Twin Falls access point of the Barton Creek Greenbelt.

Taken on one of my winter hikes in January of this year from the Twin Falls access point of the Barton Creek Greenbelt.

See? We really do have the best of both worlds here as Austin boasts a city lifestyle with abounding, convenient opportunities for enjoying the rugged outdoors. So bundle up this weekend and check out the Barton Creek Greenbelt access point map for the trail nearest you.

A few quick tips though… if you are unfamiliar with the trail, either map your hike with GPS or carry a map. Also, be careful during the winter months that the sun doesn’t set while you’re miles into the trail. My dear friend Stephanie and I learned these lessons the hard way!

On one occasion, Steph and I took a wrong turn on the way back and ended up quite a ways from our trail head. The sun started setting FAST, and our phone batteries were dwindling.  We laugh about it now, but at the time, we panicked!  We stopped, checked the GPS map of our hike and realized we were not even close to our trail. In fact, it was about a fifty foot vertical climb up, right above us.

So, panic mode fully engaged, we turn around and start sprinting in the other direction, terrified at the thought of being lost in the cold for the night. Don’t get me wrong, we love the outdoors, but we were by no means prepared to “rough it” all night.

After backtracking about a mile or so, we hear voices up above us.

“Hello?! Can you help us?” we call out from below.  It was pretty much dark at this point, and we were certain they would be the last voices we heard on the trail that day. They called back down to us so we scurried up the hillside, got back on track and to the car before long. Needless to say, we are now more careful, and you should be too! I doubt there are any big bad wolves out there waiting for ya, but do you really want to spend the night lost in the cold?

Anyway, I plan to hit some of my favorite trails as soon as we get some sunshine, and you should too!

And quickly, before I go, here’s a quick look at what you can expect in the blog in the coming weeks! More market updates, my 2015 Austin bucket list, SXSW announcements + tons more on Austin treasures!

Happy living and loving amigos,

H

More Holiday Shenanigans + A Taste of Austin

Lifestyle

I don’t know about you guys, but I am starting to feel like time is flying even faster now that the holidays are here! Your Austin Area Home Team is keeping very busy with both new and current clients, and it is wonderful to bring happy buyers and sellers together during this time of the year– its like piling more happiness and excitement on top of their holiday cheer!

Lot’s of fun things are happening here, and as promised, I have more funnies to share with you. So let’s go back a week or so to the post-Thanksgiving weekend. Friday and Saturday were full of adventures! My friend Claire and I made a special trip to Dallas to get our hair done by the most amazing hair-dresser ever, Chad Rogers, at Jean Philipe.

Chad, Claire & I at the salon.

Chad, Claire & I at the salon.

Chad is a genius. I literally go in and say do whatever you want, I know it will be fantastic! And, ta-da! Here is the finished product from our visit!

Claire, Stephanie & I at The Bottle Shop off Greenville in Dallas.

Claire, Stephanie & I at The Bottle Shop off of Greenville in Dallas.

We then ventured back down to our hometown to watch my dad’s band play a gig out at the lake- so much fun! It was wonderful to be able to spend time with my good friends from home, and I am so thankful for their grace and presence in my life.

Fast-forward to Saturday afternoon. My mom, dad and I decide to go to the local Christmas tree lot to buy a real tree. In the past, we had “Christmas Tree Wars” with my Uncle Ronnie and Aunt Cackie to see who would have the tallest tree each season, but its been many years since a beautiful evergreen graced our home with smell of Christmas. And just FYI, the tallest tree we ever had was about 18 feet tall (a monster), but Cackie and Ronnie still won the overall contest!

Needless to say, our once well-honed Christmas tree wrangling skills were a bit rusty. So, we pull up to the tree lot in my dad’s jeep with a tarp, a rope and a plan to tie that thing to the top of the car. We pick out a lovely, yummy smelling tree, hoist it upward and tie it up tight.

Sounds fool proof, right?

Its not. Unfortunately, all of the passenger doors were tied shut. As we sat there scratching our heads, the only viable solution seemed to be to climb through the windows so we closed mom in the back, and dad and I wiggled into to the front seats.

The severity of the situation quickly escalated as we realized we had more stops to make. It went a little something like this: stop one– climb out of the windows to open back door for mom to get out. Climb up to the front to roll up windows. Climb out. Shop. Climb back in to roll down the windows. Climb out. Close mom inside. Wiggle back in through the window. Stop two– Home Depot. Climb out of the window.  Watch as people point and laugh. Let mom out. Climb in to roll up windows. Climb out. Shop. Climb in to roll down windows again. Climb back out. Close mom inside. Wiggle back in through the windows. Watch more people point and laugh. Whew! I would have pointed and laughed too, but hey, it makes for a good story!

Unfortunately, I do not have any photos or videos of these shenanigans, but next time I will certainly be prepared.

Among all of the holiday craziness + working long hours, I still take time to enjoy all that my amazing city has to offer! Last week, I had a lunch date with a fellow Realtor at one of my favorite Austin-y spots, Bouldin Creek Cafe. While I was still in school, this little coffee shop/delicious cafe, was in my regular study rotation (my other mainstay was Thunderbird Coffee). Bouldin Creek has great coffee, a nice beer selection, incredible, organic, healthy food, a monthly rotating art show and an atmosphere that is the epitome of Austin.

Bouldin Creek Cafe bar area.

Bouldin Creek Cafe bar area.

Located on the corner of South First and Mary, they also have a fabulous patio complete with doggie treats and water bowls for your pups! It is technically a vegetarian/vegan restaurant, but don’t let that scare you away. Many of their ingredients are local, everything is made from scratch, their menu is diverse, and their inexpensive pricing is a big plus, too! Especially if you hit their happy hour.

Bouldin Creek Cafe (3 of 5)

Bouldin Creek Cafe Happy Hour Specials

I went for the Inner Sun Omelet this time. Oh. My. Goodness. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! Basil, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and feta and cheddar jack cheeses complete with a side of locally grown, sliced tomatoes and homemade sourdough toast.

The Inner Sun Omelet

The Inner Sun Omelet

With this huge portion, I definitely had this for both lunch and dinner, and for under ten bucks, too! Make some time for a visit to Bouldin Creek Cafe this week or next time you visit if you are an out-of-towner. You can thank me later!

Until next time my friends,

Hope

Thanksgiving Reflections and a Bunch of Turkeys

Lifestyle

Back at the beginning of the year I challenged myself to wake up each day with an attitude of gratitude. After about a week or so, it was no longer a challenge. Rather, it became a habit. Every morning I take just a few moments, whether its over morning coffee or on the way to work, to thank our gracious Lord for the countless blessings He has bestowed on me.

This, my friends, has become a blessing in and of itself. My days are even better than before, and often, I just become so overjoyed by life that I smile to myself as I think about random things I am thankful for, like the beauty of this great city, my amazing family, or even a good song on the radio!

During the Thanksgiving holiday, I was feeling extra thankful, as many of us do.  As I recount some of the funnier moments of my Thanksgiving holiday, I’ll touch briefly on some of things I am most thankful for in my life.

This year, Thanksgiving was quite different than in years of the past. First of all, we spent our first Thanksgiving ever away from my darling little sister, Kelsey. This was not easy, but thanks to technology, we FaceTimed for hours! Literally. And, thanks to our wonderful great-grannie, we will be seeing her this coming weekend for our family Christmas Retreat! I am SO excited!

The second big Turkey Day difference was that it was our first holiday in my parents’ new house at the lake. Embracing new traditions, we hosted dinner for family and friends, and we had some serious fun!

And finally, for some reason, everyone thought it would be a good idea to put my mom and I in charge of making the turkey AND the dressing. I was unaware of this until the morning of when my mom came up to the bunk room, got into bed with me and said, “Well, we better find a good recipe for a turkey!”

Ummmm….. what?!

So, we get up and make our way downstairs into the kitchen. First up, we put the dressing together. Luckily, we had a very detailed recipe from my Aunt Robin who happens to make delicious dressing. We get the dressing put together by about 10:30 or so, and my mom says she thinks we have some time before we have to prepare the turkey and put it in the oven.

But no. Just no. Turkeys need like 3-4 hours to cook! Luckily, I decided to check a recipe before we took a break from the kitchen. So mom and I start freaking out, literally running around the kitchen like little turkey-cooking virgins. We did get some advice: cook it in a brown paper bag; wrap it tight in a ton of foil, etc., but again, no. It was too late for all that as we were fresh out of paper bags and foil.

Ok. So we just start following a random recipe. Well, we don’t have any of the right ingredients! It called for an orange and a lemon. We used a grapefruit and a lime. It called for a ton of thyme, but again, fresh out. This saga goes on until we are like ok, this HAS to go in the oven ASAP! It still doesn’t look that great though, so I suggest that we rub a bunch of ranch seasoning mix on it. Ranch rubbed, turkey in the oven, lets go– even if this may be worse than the dry, crunchy Turkey in Christmas Vacation.

By some miracle of God, it turned out to be FANTASTIC! The best turkey I’ve ever had, no joke!

Thanksgiving Turkeys 2014

Thanksgiving Turkeys 2014

I call this next one Three Turkeys because of my goofy little brother’s photo bomb. Haha!

Three Turkeys

Three Turkeys

Overall, Thanksgiving dinner was a huge success! After dinner, my dad and our friend Mike lit up a fire in the  fire-pit near the shore. We roasted some monster marshmallows and pulled out some sparklers for the kids. They absolutely loved it, and the adults had fun too!

My little cousin Brooklyn with a sparkler!

My little cousin Brooklyn with a sparkler!

Kaylee holding a sparkler out.

Kaylee holding a sparkler.

It was so wonderful to spend time with family last week. Out of everything in my life, they are what I am most thankful for every single day. My mom, dad, sister and brother are my best friends, and I can’t thank them enough for all of the love, laughs and support that they so selflessly give every single day. I tear up, overwhelmed, at the thought of it.

My Thanksgiving holiday shenanigans continued throughout the weekend, and the stories just keep getting funnier! BUT, you’ll have to stay tuned for more later this week!

Happy living and loving!

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

Happiness & Halloween in ATX

Lifestyle

As I was catching up over dinner with a friend last week, he suddenly looked up and said “Hope, how are you constantly so positive and happy?”  Although it was in the form of a question, I found it to be an enormous compliment. And its funny, because I was actually having somewhat of a bad day.

The answer to his question though?

Its simple. Happiness is a choice. I actually wear a gold bangle on my wrist daily that says just that. (Thanks, Dad! :)) Happiness is more than just a choice, though. I firmly believe that you get what you give, and if you put a big bunch of positivity and happiness out into the universe, it will come back to you ten fold. For me, these life principles are deeply rooted in my faith, but no matter what is going on, you still have to make that choice.

Today I woke up in a particularly good mood. I had a major dance party in my car on the way to work, and I saw some people giggle/smile at me while stopped at the red lights. It was at this point that I revisited my friend’s question.

I’m not perfect. I do get frustrated, and I sometimes worry. However, I absolutely believe that maintaining a positive attitude despite the circumstances is imperative for leading a happy and healthy life. It may sound cliche, but a lot of times it truly is the little things in life that excite me. Today I am excited because one of my best friends, Claire, is coming to stay with me for the weekend. Oh, and Im obviously excited for Halloween! Mostly because I LOVE dressing up– and dressing up elaborately at that! I think this is partially because my lovely mom always dressed my siblings and I up in THE BEST costumes! (Seriously.)

So, for a little fun in today’s post, I am going to take you back through the last few years of my Halloween costumes. I have to begin by mentioning the integral common thread among the photos I am sharing today– one of my absolute favorite people in the entire world, Casey Henson. We love anything and everything that allows us to creatively shine, so making costumes for Halloween has become something we look forward to each year. The first photo I am sharing dates back to 2010. I dressed up as the Queen of Hearts, and although you can’t see it in the photo (sadly it is the only one I could track down) I destroyed several decks of cards, pulled out all of the hearts, and sewed/glued them to the entire skirt of an old dress. It was pretty awesome, until I realized that I couldn’t sit down without the cards popping off of my dress. Totally non-functional, and lesson learned.

Casey and Deo as Peter Pan and his shadow. Elizabeth as Edie Sedgwick and me as the Queen of Hearts.

Casey and Deo as Peter Pan and his shadow. Elizabeth as Edie Sedgwick and me as the Queen of Hearts.

The next year, Casey and I debated for a while on who we should be for Halloween. We finally agreed on Katy Perry and Russell Brand the night before, so we ended up staying awake pretty much all night making our costumes. They turned out great though, and we had a blast! I still find glitter/sequin specks in my stuff every now and then though. No kidding!

Casey & I as Katy Perry and Russell Brand (Before their divorce)

Casey & I as Katy Perry and Russell Brand (Before their divorce)

When 2012 rolled around, we knew we had to do something spectacular. And, so we did.

Case and I

Casey and I at the Adolphus Hotel in Downtown Dallas.

We rented Casey’s hat and blazer from a great little costume shop in Dallas, and I found this dress in my grandmother’s closet! I probably used an entire can of hair spray, and we had matching birds to symbolize our bride/groom spin on things. The makeup was the hard part though. Thankfully, we did a trial run the night before– and good thing we did, because the first go-round was horrible. We got it right the second time though… after 3-4 hours of prep on the makeup alone.

Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Casey and I in Dallas

Casey and I out in Dallas

Unfortunately, we were unable to dress up or do anything for Halloween last year as I was in Austin and Casey was in Corsicana (and Halloween was on a Thursday.) I actually spent the evening out on Rainey Street with my camera shooting for a class. I got some great shots, (see below) and it was fun, but I am REALLY looking forward to dressing up both tonight and tomorrow!

One of my favorite shots from my photo shoot on Rainey Street last Halloween.

One of my favorite shots from my photo shoot on Rainey Street last Halloween.

This year Claire and I are going to repeat the Day of the Dead theme, but with a different spin! You’ll have to stay tuned to find out! 🙂

And while you’re at it, go have some Halloween fun in Austin this weekend! Do512 has a great list of events here, and if you are looking for some kids friendly fun, check out this link! Austin Culture Map has some good suggestions too. You can check them out here.

That’s all for now friends! Have a happy and safe Halloween weekend!

xo,

Hope

 

Is Austin in a Bubble?

Real Estate

In this week’s blog, I felt it more than appropriate to address this month’s million dollar real estate question, courtesy of Trulia: Is the Austin real estate market in a bubble?

Resoundingly, no.

Get ready for some stats and numbers people, because although this may not be my typical writing style, I feel it is pertinent to address this interesting claim against my fabulous city.

Earlier this month Trulia released an article placing Austin under their “Bubble Watch”, claiming that we have the most overvalued homes in the nation. Check it out here. If this were completely true, it would certainly be of concern for recent and current buyers. However, local economic experts have refuted this claim with data supported by Austin’s strong population and job growth and the most recent market statistics.

In the last 12 months, 31,400 jobs were added to the Austin metro area, according to the Texas Workforce Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Austin leads Texas with the lowest unemployment rate at 4.2% while the national rate is at 5.7%. With industry giants like Facebook, Google, Apple Inc., Dell, IBM, Samsung, 3M, Dropbox and Whole Foods among many others either already here, or planning to come here, population and job growth are only projected to increase.

According to the Senior Vice President of Economic Development at the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Dave Porter, 307 companies moved into the Austin area in the last nine years, and this type of growth is only expected to increase and continue. In February, Forbes named Austin #2 when it comes to metro areas with the best job growth prospects over the next three years, and this growth will inevitably have a positive domino-type effect on the housing market.

This September we saw a 10% increase in home sales from September of 2013, setting a record for the month for highest recorded sales numbers. Check out the Austin Board of REALTORS’ info-graphic on the September 2014 stats here.

For the fourth year in a row, Austin topped Forbes’ annual list of the nation’s fastest growing cities. With an average number of 110 people moving into the Austin-area daily, the main problem we are facing in the current market is the lack of available inventory. Whereas the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University balances the available housing inventory level at 6.5 months, September’s inventory level sunk to 2.8 months. Demand is high, but supply is low.

Bill Evans, the current President of the Austin Board of REALTORS commented, “Recent reports from a national real estate advertising company have claimed that the Austin-area housing market is overvalued, but local economic experts continue to point to our region’s strong economic and population growth as foundations of a healthy market and indicators that those claims are not true. The 110 people who the City of Austin says move to Austin every day need homes to live in, and the real issue at hand is whether those people can afford those homes.”

The proof is in the pudding people– the bottom line is that there is much more demand than supply in Austin, and as long as our population and job growth continue to meet projections, our “bubble” won’t be bursting any time soon.

So why would Trulia publish this info? My only speculation is that HEADLINES SELL! The entire nation has been talking about the hot Austin real estate market, so what better way to get people’s attention? Go pick on another city, Trulia!

As Evans mentioned, the real issue we’re facing is affordability, and I plan to address that next week! (Not before a few fun posts though :))

Happy living & loving my friends,

Hope