ALOHA FROM ALOHA

As a native Floridian, born in raised in Fort Lauderdale, you would think that jet skiing, sailing, and the like would be a regular activity for us locals. And for the most part, it is. We like to soak up the sun in as many ways possible and are always seeking new ways to do so.

On Christmas Day, my family and I became tourists in our own hometown and rented jet skis and a hobie cat for the day, and it was one of the best days I’ve had.

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Ready to ride!

Living in a beach town that thrives on tourism, there is obviously a lot of competition when it comes to excursions and watersport rentals. But I’ll save you the time and energy of searching which place is the best and tell you that there is only place to rent from: Aloha Watersports. You can find them in Fort Lauderdale at either the Marriott’s Harbor Beach Resort or on the SW Corner A1A/ Las Olas Blvd.

The service was quick and awesome, reasonable prices, and the employees all want you to have as much fun as possible. img_7316.jpgThey work so hard in getting you out on the water in the fastest, but safest, manner, and are all very patient with you. And, you have a lot of freedom when it comes to the meeting your need for speed! (Don’t go cray though, because they do have employees monitoring the waters on jet skis and will pluck your a*s out of the water faster than you can say “Aloha.”)
Make sure you bring your ID, and if you have a boater’s license bring that as well—you’ll have to pay and take (pass) a test in order to operate a wave runner without one. And make sure you’re riding with someone you trust.

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Sailing back into shore.

I was on the back of a double jet ski with my cousin driving and he is a speed demon. I got thrown off in the first five minutes and we jumped a wave and got some serious airtime. I was literally airborne, and I don’t just mean the jet ski – not a single part of me was touching the jet ski, not even a toe.

You can bet you’re a*s I was holding on to him as tightly as I could, fearing for my life and for what was going to happen when I inevitably straddled the seat. All I have to say is TG for the cushioned seat because I may have had a little extra pep in my step afterward if it wasn’t there.

IMG_0314Finally, make sure you get a good stretch before hopping on a jet ski or manning the hobie cat – they’re called water sports for a reason. I was so sore the next day from the jet ski because of all the leg work you do, similar to posting when riding a horse. And with the hobie cat it’s a lot of pulling ropes and ducking/switching sides and just being very agile overall.

So, as long as you don’t do anything stupid, you’ll have an awesome time.

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Success! Thanks, Aloha Watersports!

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1st Thursday at the South Congress Hotel

Last night, the first Thursday of the month, was the South Congress Hotel’s “1st Thursday” party, a monthly happy hour put on by the hotel. It also happened to be the 2nd Anniversary at South Congress Hotel, and my first time attending. What a night!

The event is held every first Thursday from 6-9p in the back ballroom and outside patio of the hotel. The night features great drink specials, a DJ, and lots of dancing. Oh yeah, and it’s free. Since last night was also the 2nd anniversary, several others joined in the festivities and helped to celebrate:

-dating app Bumble, which brought its own “Bumble BEEday” cocktail available for purchase and props for the Boomerang GIF photo booth (side note: I’m pretty sure I saw *the* Queen Bee herself, buzzing about the event)

-live performances by Tomar and the FCs

-dance music by DJ ulovei

-more music by DJ Ben Zink

-South Congress Hotel, which provided the venue and also gave out gift cards and other prizes for those who Instagram’d a photo and used the hashtag #SCHyear2 (other side note: I actually won!)

Since it was my first time going, I wasn’t really sure what to expect of it, but I was definitely impressed and would 10/10 recommend. So many people came to this event—a lot more than I was anticipating—and the best part was that the majority of them were all young 20 somethings. It was fun, casual, and an easy opportunity to mix and mingle with others and make friends.

No matter who you are, how old you are, or what you do for a living, you should attend at least one of these happy hour events at the South Congress Hotel. Even if you have no intention of meeting anyone new, it is a fun night to enjoy with your friends; it’s a beautiful venue with such an inviting atmosphere and delicious drinks. Plus, you never know who or what you may come across!

I don’t always go to museums

…but when I do, I go to Thinkery!

At the heart of Mueller is Austin’s interactive children’s science non-profit museum, called Thinkery. Thinkery is a STEAM-focused museum and strives to create innovative ways for children and parents to learn together.

If you aren’t familiar with STEAM, it is an acronym for learning based on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. By STEAM standards, Thinkery ensures that every exhibit, every summer camp, every activity- even the gift shop- fulfills at least one or more of the STEAM categories to promote and drive innovation in fun and engaging ways among youth. My roommate has been working here on the administrative side for a year now and absolutely loves it. Going to work for her doesn’t feel like “work” because it has such a fun and lively atmosphere, and is filled with children every single day. If I’m being honest, I’m not too big on museums. BUT, Thinkery is actually quite a cool place and definitely worth a visit, especially if you have children!

One of the neat things about Thinkery is that it is so involved in the community and provides opportunities for every single type of child and family. It has community nights every Wednesday, where admission is by donation of any amount so that families who can’t afford to pay the standard fee for their family can enter the museum. There is also a program called Open Door, which essentially is an incredibly large fund created by donors to support free entries for those who need it. Anyone can enter the museum for free by saying they are with the Open Door Program, and their entry fee is pulled from the Open Door fund. There is no paperwork or registration for this, so it is largely based on the honor system, which is honorable of Thinkery to do.

Thinkery also has Sensory-Friendly hours, where the museum is only open to those children with Autism Spectrum Disorders or other special needs. During these hours, the museum exhibits are modified to accommodate these children, by reducing the stimuli as well as the crowds. Finally, Thinkery has Parents’ Night Out on designated Fridays, which is when parents can drop their kids off at the museum for a fun night of games, activities, and pizza while they go out to any of the locations in the Mueller area that have partnered with Thinkery for this night, such as Alamo Drafthouse, L’Oco d’Oro, and BD Riley’s. In the event something were to happen, Thinkery will know which parents are at which Mueller locations to get a hold of them quickly and easily.

If nights like these don’t make you love a museum and have so much respect and admiration for what it does then I don’t know what will.

My favorite part about Thinkery is that it’s not just for kids. Sure, adults don’t typically come here on their own in their spare time, but there are special nights that take place at the museum specifically for adults: Thinkery21.

Thinkery21, as you might guess, is for museum guests that are 21+ and takes place about once a month. Each night is themed and so the performances and exhibits that are brought in are based on that theme. The last one I attended was called “Lights, Camera, Cocktails!” and was in partnership with the

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Movie popcorn and props: necessities

Alamo Drafthouse that had just opened up next door and was sort of like Alamo’s debut. The night featured hands-on experiences and demonstrations for learning about movies, such as historical movie facts and a hands-on green screen experience, learning how the Texas Archive of

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My roomie tinkering away at a computer.

the Moving Image preserves Texas films and videotapes, and then there were random additions like a bunny exhibit/petting zoo. Other nights have included drag queen performances, Tito’s Vodka tastings, ice cream making, and popcorn tasting, among others.

All of this, of course, was done with a cocktail in hand from the pop-up bar, like every Thinkery21 event.

So, if you have kids in your life, take them here for a wonderful learning experience. Or, drop them off on parent night and have a wonderful night of your own. It’s a win-win situation, if you ask me.

xo, E

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See you at the barre!

So as I briefly mentioned in my previous post, barre3 Austin at Mueller is offering free – yes, *free* – classes until the end of June, when the studio finally opens. Yes, I mean barre and no, I don’t mean the bar you go to when you want to kick back with a cocktail and celebrate the end of a work week.

Still don’t know what I’m talking about? To be perfectly honest, I didn’t really know what a barre class was either until a couple of weeks ago when I attended my first one at barre3 Austin at Mueller. Like I said, the studio is part of the newly developing Mueller neighborhood, so it is still underway. According to barre3 itself, barre is rooted in three fitness disciplines – ballet, barre, Pilates and yoga. If you’ve never been before, you are in for a real treat.

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Barre3 Austin at Mueller.

The only equipment you need to bring (at least to these free, pre-studio opening classes) is a yoga mat, as barre3 provides the rest, which is just a single core ball. The classes consist of a lot of squats, core exercises, and balancing techniques. The moves can be pretty challenging, but there are always modifications for every move or combination. So, if you aren’t feeling it one day then feel free to modify as you please.

Now let me tell you something: I used to be an avid yogi, practicing five or six times per week (sadly not as frequently anymore), and I thought this class was going to be a breeze. Boy was I wrong. I struggled through the first class and, at times, all I wanted to do was let out a scream! I nearly shed a tear when I looked at my watch and realized I was only 15 minutes into the 60 minute class. I walked out of that class vowing I would never do it again, was the sorest I’ve been in quite some time, and swore it was the hardest class I’ve ever attended. Now, here I am attending class religiously three days a week, and will probably be the first one to purchase a package when the studio actually opens. What can I say – I’m addicted!

I highly suggest everyone attending at least one – no, two – classes at some point. I say two because if you’re like me, then you might need more than just the initial class to get you hooked! Especially for Mueller residents, it doesn’t get any better than this; it is so close and the times are so convenient that you really have no excuses. Also, it’s better to try the classes now since they are free, that way you don’t have to make a huge commitment without knowing anything about it. What’s also really great is that the studio owner, Emily, actually teaches the classes as well. She is so kind and truly wants her barre students to succeed and do their best. For such a tight-knit neighborhood, it is nice to have the studio owner actively take part in the community and actually take the time to get to know her students, as opposed to just being the name behind the studio.

So, head on over to barre3 Austin at Mueller. The studio is set to open in the Mueller Town Center on Aldrich Street, just next to the Alamo Drafthouse, but until then the free classes are right outside of Mueller Central (rainy day classes take place under the Browning Hangar). The class schedule for Mueller is as follows:

Tuesdays at 6:45p

Thursdays at 5:45a

Saturdays at 8:30a

P.S. Barre3 Austin at Mueller is active on Instagram @barre3austinmueller and Facebook (search: barre3austinmueller) too, which is where you’ll find any information about the free classes, such as cancellations due to weather.

See you there!

xo, E

Welcome to Mueller!

…or is it pronounced Miller? Or Muller?

I live in the Mueller neighborhood, a very beautiful, friendly, and family-oriented neighborhood located just three miles north of Downtown Austin and two miles from the University of Texas at Austin. It has everything you could ever need within a two-mile

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View of Mueller Lake, with Downtown Austin visible along the skyline.

radius: multiple parks and playgrounds for the kids, H-E-B, the Thinkery (top-notch children’s science museum), retail stores (think: Target, Marshalls, BB&B, Home Depot), a variety of restaurants/fast food (Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, Mexican, French, American, and of course, the essentials like Sbux, Tiff’s Treats, Torchy’s, froyo, and Chipotle, to name a few), a fire station, a Children’s Hospital, healthcare offices, a liquor store, and much, much more! That’s just covering the basics. I could keep naming places, but you get the point.

We even have a Facebook group only for the neighbors, and let me tell you, that page gets more traffic than I-35. If you live in Austin, then you know that is a lot. Every question…every complaint… every noise…every garage sale… there is a post. Sometimes it gets a little annoying out of control, but when you think about it, it’s quite nice; it’s like our very own live updates feed just for our neighborhood. Everyone knows everyone and the neighbors all do their part to keep the neighborhood clean, fun, and most importantly, safe.

Mueller is also a very up and coming neighborhood- there are a ton of new places developing right in the heart of the neighborhood, which also happens to surround a giant lake and park with surrounding running trails. There are several food trucks and restaurants/venues, with the most recent openings being the Alamo Drafthouse, BD Riley’s Irish Pub, Lick Honest Ice Creams, WhichCraft Tap Room & Bottle Shop, Colleen’s Kitchen, and soon-to-be a Barre3 studio. Fun fact: barre3 is offering FREE 60-minute classes outside at the Browning Hangar until the studio opens at the end of June. If you’ve never taken a barre class, then you’re in for a treat; it’s a great workout, but it is very difficult! I don’t remember the last time I was that sore from working out.

A little history lesson for you: what is now the Mueller neighborhood used to be the old Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, located on what used to be the edge of the city. The 8-story control tower, an iconic structure from 1961, has been preserved and restored, as well as the Browning Hangar,

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The Browning Hangar.

one of two original hangars built for the old airport. The hangar is home to many community events, like fitness classes, and the weekly Mueller Farmers’ Market – the best one in town.

Okay, so I may be a little biased… I haven’t actually been to any of the other Austin Farmers’ Markets, but I already know Mueller’s is the best. It is jam-packed with vendors and visitors, as well as live music each week.

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Texas Farmers’ Market tents at Mueller Lake and the Browning Hangar.

The best part? The samples, of course! I’m all about the free samples, so if I’m not at Costco then you can catch me here on Sundays.  All of the vendors and farmers are local and bring only the freshest of products! One of my favorite vendors is the Texas Hill Country Olive Company.

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Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Company.

Each week they bring about 20-30 different extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars that are infused with different fruits. They put out baskets of bread and you can taste whichever ones you want (or if you’re feeling a little gluttonous then they will let you try all of them…no shame).

So bring your friends, bring your pets, and bring your wallets. Oh, and bring your trash. No, really- thanks to a joint venture between Texas Farmers’ Market and Joe’s Organics, there is free community composting during the Mueller Farmers’ Market hours, which are every Sunday from 10am to 2pm at the Browning Hangar. They encourage everyone to bring their compost scraps in an effort to make Austin a #ZeroWaste community. Yay for being green!

Be sure to check it out – you won’t want to miss it!

xo, E

Meet: Alex

 

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Favorite hangout spot: Mueller Lake Park

Where are you from?

Ocala, FL

Why did you move to Austin?

Why not?! My best friend and I had recently graduated from undergrad and we didn’t really have anything going on in our lives at the time so we figured why not move somewhere different…have an adventure. I had heard great things about Austin but had never been. And I have never pictured myself living in Texas, of all places.

What is the best part about living in Austin?

I love that it is both the capital city and a college town. I’m still young and I love to go out on the weekends and I think that Austin has the perfect balance of being a young, hip, party city and a professional city. It’s also such a beautiful city! Who would’ve thought Texas was so green…right?

Where do you work?

I work at a local children’s museum where I manage the museum admissions and visitor services. I love it!

What is your favorite restaurant (or food truck) in Austin?

TORCHY’S! Best tacos ever. Or should I say “Damn good tacos.”

What is one thing you would suggest to someone visiting the city?

Come hungry. This city is known to have great food and you don’t want to miss out. If you leave Austin without gaining a few pounds then you have not done yourself justice. So then you’ll have to come back for round two.

Mount Bonnell

One of the greatest parts about living in Austin is the overwhelming number of things to do here. There are so many different things that appeal to all different personalities and interests that you can never be bored in this city. Even greater is the fact that there are tons of things to do for free. That’s right…free. Us young twenty-somethings need to stick together when it comes to these things; we’re not made of money, so free = good.

One of my favorite things to do thus far is visit Mount Bonnell. If you haven’t been to it, it’s definitely something to check out. It’s the highest point within Austin city limits, reaching 785 feet, offering an amazing view of the Colorado River and downtown Austin (of course, photos don’t do it justice, so you’ll have to see for yourself).

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The staircase of Mount Bonnell.

I know what you’re thinking…and the answer is no, you don’t have to be physically fit to do this 😉 I know 785 feet seems high, but it actually only requires walking up a single staircase of about 100 steps, give or take.

I can even do it, and I get winded just taking the stairs to my third-floor apartment. But you can totally turn it into a workout, if you’re into that kinda thing. (Side note: there is also a ton of free parking, which is hard to come by in Austin.)

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The Colorado River.

At the top of Mount Bonnell, there are picnic tables and different viewing areas where you can see different parts of the river and the 360 Bridge (another free activity). It’s actually quite nice and you’ll see a lot of people bringing take-out or some prepared food to eat at the top while watching the sunset. It’s actually the perfect spot for a romantic date, or even a just an evening out with friends. But that’s a post for another day, since I have yet to do either of those.

So basically what I’m saying is that you don’t need a reason to go to Mount Bonnell. It’s one of those places that you can go to over and over again and it never loses its appeal. Maybe you need a study break, or a little exercise, or maybe just a place to collect your thoughts and gain inspiration. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up making a friend (if you do, let me know).

xo, E

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Picnic table with a view of the city skyline.

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Another spot for a romantic meal with a view.

I’m here…now what?

New to Austin? Looking to make new friends?

Yeah, me too.

I thought that after seven months of living here I would know the town pretty well and would have even made a couple friends by now, but boy was I wrong! Apparently everyone but me knew of the struggles that come with moving to a new city. Perhaps I should’ve taken off my rose-colored glasses before I moved. Lesson learned.

But nonetheless, I’m here and I’m ready to explore. I’m ready to step out of my comfort zone and get lost in this beautiful city I now call home, and I’m ready to learn. I’m ready to learn how to live here, how to make friends, and how to find my own way.