Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hosting Guests in a Studio Apartment

When we told our friends and family we were moving Downtown Austin, most people’s first reaction was “Can I come stay with you?” We always joked, “Well, if you’re okay sleeping on the balcony—we’d love to have you!” A small studio doesn’t really leave a whole lot of room for entertaining overnight guests, but we made it work this weekend when my sister came to visit.

Before moving, we thought thoroughly about what furniture would best serve in our new place. While items like our extendable IKEA table easily made the cut, we needed to explore new options for a couch. Our hand-me-down reclining sofa and matching recliner were going to take up some valuable space in our 525 sq ft studio.

Not knowing how long we would be in our studio, we wanted to find something that we wouldn't mind saying bye to after our lease was up. And having such a small space we knew every piece of furniture needed to serve two purposes (our entertainment center is also our dresser!). We opted for a small grey futon over a sofabed. It’s small and affordable- we were set. &
But then one night, QVC and Lori Greiner did what they do best. They sucked us in to buying a beanbag! This beanbag (available at is filled with foam and then easily expands in to a bed. It was the perfect option for us as it served as additional seating most days and as a bed when we have overnight guests.

We love this chair so much that we often call “dibs” when watching a movie. Our two cats enjoy it too—we find one in the chair almost every time we come home. And as I mentioned this weekend we had our first overnight guests. My sister and her boyfriend were in town for week two of ACL. She says it’s like sleeping in a pile of pillows—even though I’m sure she could have slept anywhere after long days at ACL and 6th street!

Having furniture that serves dual purposes really helped us out this weekend. We had four people in a small studio but we didn't feel crowded once. It's tough to feel cramped when Downtown Austin is your backyard!
My sister and I on Sixth Street.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

One Less Car in Austin

When we decided to move into Downtown Austin, we had another decision to make. Would we pay the extra money to park two cars in our parking garage?

Parking is one of the challenges of living downtown. It is expensive and there are not a lot of spaces. We decided to make this challenge an opportunity to get rid of one of our cars. This was a decision that a lot of people did not understand. How are you both going to get around? What if Billy has to travel somewhere using the car? People kept questioning the decision. But it has now been more than six weeks since we got rid of a car, and I can tell you that it was the right decision.

Since going to only one car, Ashley and I have had to work on our communication. Every week/day we double check our calendars to see who needs to car. Sharing a car is easy with good communication and planning. We also get to spend extra time together when we ride to work together.

In Austin, there are a lot of Public Transportation options. Our new place downtown is only a couple blocks from a Capital MetroRail stop and Ashley works close to another stop. She has used the MetroRail a few times when it was tough for me to pick her up. She loves riding that thing! We also purchased a Car2Go membership and we have utilized that a few times so far. Last week we took a Car2Go to First Thursday on South Congress and then we walked back to our place. It was great exercise. The week before we went to a great event at the Hyatt on Barton Springs and we did the same thing.

Walking has not killed us yet. Neither has using Public Transportation. Improving our communication and planning has actually improved our marriage. How about that? And most important, we have taken a car (actually a gas guzzling SUV) off the road in Austin. For all of our Austin readers, you know how great that is.

The November elections are right around the corner and in Austin, transportation is a huge issue. Keep in mind that our political leaders will not solve our transportation issues. WE need to play a major role in this. We can do this by taking personal responsibility. Everyone can use Public Transportation. Everyone can find times to carpool. Ashley and I own only one car and we couldn't be happier.

I challenge you to look at your life and see how you can simplify things. Can you get rid of a car? Can you take the bus or the rail this trip? Can you ride with someone to that happy hour? Mobility Week is coming up in Austin (10/20-10/24). Learn more about what you can do that week to improve mobility is Austin. I promise it will make a difference and it won't kill you.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pecan Street Festival

Since Billy has lived in Austin over 9 years, its rare that we get to experience a "first" together. Having been in grad school (and working full-time) 2 of the 3.5 years I have been in Austin, it seems like everything is a first to me. So when we realized Pecan Street Festival was this past weekend, I was super excited because Billy had never been. We could have a "first" at one of Austin's biggest events!

According to their website, Pecan Street Festival is one of Central Texas' oldest and most popular events. Local artists, vendors, and musicians fill old Pecan Street, now 6th Street (yes THAT 6th St.), for a free two-day festival. Having and 11AM TCU game Saturday and a 3:25PM Eagles game Sunday afternoon, we strolled down Sunday morning to check out the festivities.

Knowing we were going to walk a bit and grab lunch, we opted to make mental notes of the places we wanted to make purchases. I think I stopped at every homemade candle, soap and bath product table -- I have a mild addiction! I just recently stocked up on some soaps so I decided I didn't need to buy any more right now. Plus, where would we store them in our tiny studio?! I joke.

With the large walls in our apartment, we knew this would be the perfect opportunity to do some art shopping. We stopped and checked out paintings and sculpted pieces, but knew we found our place when we stopped at a local photographer's booth. We both made a beeline for the panoramic photos of the Austin skyline. We finally decided on the piece below for the colors and couldn't help adding the smaller photographs of our Alma Maters.

Randy Smith of Campus Art Prints shared a great story of how he captured the shot of the skyline. He was driving through Downtown and noticed the greatly colors in the sky and as any photographer would, pulled over to capture the moment. As he was taking the photos, he told himself that the photos weren't going to come out well and was surprised with the final result. Its such a gorgeous photo - I can't wait to find frames so these photographs can find a home on our walls!

Not only did we find these great photos for our new place, but we also enjoyed some delicious food. While strolling, we shared a snow cone -- which I ate most of :). For lunch, Billy chose a hot dog while I was a bit more adventurous getting Chicken & Waffles on a stick from Cluckin Waffle. We also indulged on a hand-dipped chocolate covered cheesecake. Yum, yum and a little more yum! There are very few places to sit and eat so the items on a stick were greatly appreciated!

We shopped, we ate and we really had a blast at Pecan Street Festival. We were glad to hear the festival comes twice a year in May and September. I know we will be definitely be making the 2-block hike for it again in May!