Friday, April 17, 2015

Taking a break

It's probably obvious that I've already started a break from blogging based on how little I've been posting this year. But I feel like I need to officially say it. Life has just been way too busy, and I hate feeling the pressure of coming up with a well thought out blog post. We've been having a lot of fun lately, but trying to balance work, Sweet Elise, time with Hank and home projects (in no particular order) means that blogging just isn't going to happen right now.

If you want to stay tuned on our daily lives, please feel free to follow me on Instagram. You can see endless pictures of our animals and other fun things at @thehollandhouseher. You can also see pictures of all the sweets I make at @sweetelise_atx. It's so much easier to post a picture and few sentences than hammering out a blog post, and I love to interact with others on Instagram. So don't be shy!

There's still a lot to say (hello, fertility journey) that I hope to revisit again, but I don't have the capacity to give it the attention it needs. So keep me in your Bloglovin' feed if you don't mind. I promise I'll be back!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Sunday in Georgetown

A few weekends ago, we drove north to Georgetown to see a friend who was performing in "Anything Goes" at the Georgetown Palace Theatre. The theatre is on the square, so we wanted to get there early so we would have plenty of time to eat lunch and walk around. I don't know that I have ever spent any time in Georgetown, but I can say we'll be back as soon as possible.

The Holland House: Georgetown Palace Theatre


Not only were there several great restaurants to choose from, but there were adorable shops and the neatest market that had fresh local produce and a Texas craft beer section. We ate lunch at Wildfire, which is housed in a historical building right next to the theatre. We learned the hard way that it's always good to make reservations, but we lucked out by getting a high top table in the bar area. We had a great lunch with really nice service! We'd go back again, but would try other restaurants on the square first.

You can't visit Georgetown without going to these two places:

Diva Design Studio- this rivals any home decorating store that you would find in Austin. I saw some of the prettiest (and unique) lighting fixtures, along with this headboard that I absolutely fell in love with.

The Holland House: Diva Design Studio


The Monument Cafe & Market- not technically on the square, it's just two blocks over and well worth the extra steps. They grow their own produce on the property, and the market just can't be missed.

The Holland House: Monument Cafe & Market


The show itself was really impressive. I'm not really big on musicals, but actually enjoyed the entire production. While the remaining weekend is already sold out, I highly recommend taking a day trip to Georgetown if you're looking for something a little different to do.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Amplify Austin Results

Another year, another tremendous success for the fundraising extravaganza that is Amplify Austin. The overall goal was to raise $7 million for over 500 area non-profits, and when the clock stopped at 6pm on Friday, the total was at $7,715,391.32. That is just amazing! What's even more amazing is that total was raised by just over 25,000 unique donors. Imagine what we could do if even more people participated in this day of giving?

I set a goal to raise $1,000 for Wags, Hope and Healing. I'll be honest- I thought it was a big stretch. I would have been happy with just $500. But friends and family pulled through, helping me raise $1,055. This was the first year for Wags to participate, and they were hoping for anything between $2,000-$5,000. They ended up raising a total of $8300!! That is a huge gift for them. With this money, they will be able to do the following:

6 orthopedic surgeries
40 spay/neuter surgeries
heart worm treatment for 6 dogs

More than anything, it means that they can provide care for animals without having to stress or shuffle funds around. It also brought attention to their small rescue, and helped spread the word about the amazing work that they do. A huge thank you to everyone who participated in this awesome event.

"Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have."

Monday, March 2, 2015

Amplify Austin: Support Wags, Hope and Healing

March 5th-6th kicks off the 3rd year for the "I Live Here, I Give Here" fundraising campaign hosted by Amplify Austin. Over $8.5 million has been raised for local charities, and this year over 500 non-profits will benefit from the city's generosity.



I have participated since its inception, donating to a variety of local non-profits that all have meaning to me. This year, I am especially excited to be hosting my very own fundraising page in support of one of our favorite animal rescue groups, Wags, Hope and Healing. We first learned about this amazing mother/daughter rescue duo through good friends and neighbors, and began to follow their stories and learn more about their operation. About 4 months ago, we committed to being monthly donors for their Circle of Chance program, donating specifically towards medical funds.

Amplify Austin: Wags, Hope and Healing


The Wags, Hope and Healing mission is to save neglected, abused and abandoned dogs that would otherwise never make it out of a shelter alive. They provide medical treatment, rehabilitation, and careful consideration when finding permanent homes. Some dogs are pulled off the street, and others are saved from area kill shelters where they would likely be euthanized due to their medical needs. Because Wags is committed to helping these special cases, they often face medical bills ranging from $2,000-$5,000 a month.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a bleeding heart for animals. Every cat that has ever been a part of our family was saved from the streets. My very first dog as an adult was rescued from an irresponsible dog owner who did not have their pet spayed. I've volunteered hundreds of hours at the city shelter, have fostered multiple dogs, and even had a foster fail. To say that Hank and I are passionate about animals would be an understatement. Animal rescue is a cause that I would give just about anything to.

The Holland House: Our Fur Babies
Our fur babies


My goal is to raise $1000 for Wags, Hope and Healing. I will personally match donations up to $200, and will have my employer match my donation as well. If you share my love for animal rescue, I ask that you find it in your heart to donate any amount that you are able to. If it means passing up a few Starbucks trips in order to make a $25 donation, then you will have enabled one dog to get a microchip. If you forgo a shopping trip this weekend and donate $100 instead, then you have paid for medication to cover mange, heart worm prevention, or a host of other ailments. Every dollar counts, and I hope that you'll join me in showing the love for any Austin non-profit who provides services that make our community a better place.

You can find my fundraising page here: Amplify Austin

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Austin Pets Alive 4th Anniversary No-Kill Party

This past Sunday night Hank and I attended the 4th Annual Austin Pets Alive "No-Kill Anniversary Party", held at The Palm Door in downtown Austin. Animal welfare is obviously a cause that is near and dear to our heart, so we're more than happy to support it. And Sweet Elise also donated desserts for the second year in a row, so we almost *had* to go. I thought it would be hard to top last year's party, but somehow they were able to do so.

Food was provided courtesy of Pink Avocado Catering, and the vegetarian buffet were delicious. My favorite might have been the macaroni and cheese cupcakes, but everything was so tasty.

(Pictures were taken by Angela Lozano Photography, who also donated her time and talent for the event.)

The Holland House: APA Food Buffet
Food and dessert buffet



Along with great music entertainment (the legendary Dale Watson played), there was a silent auction, a photo booth, and on-site screen printing for shirts. We bought shirts last year, and this year it was even more special to pick out colors and what we wanted printed on them. Many thanks to Fine Southern Gentleman for providing their services for the evening. We love our shirts!!

The Holland House: Fine Southern Gentleman

Did I mention a photo booth? Did I mention that there were LIVE PUPPIES at the photo booth?! It might have been my favorite part of the evening. It was all I could do not to stuff all the puppies under my sweater so that I could take them home with me. I'm sure they have all been adopted by now, as they were just so freaking cute. 

The Holland House: PuppiesThe Holland House: Photo Booth




We called it an early night, as we both had to work the next day. But I'm hoping that APA was able to raise the funds needed to continue the great work they do to keep Austin a "No Kill" city. It seriously takes a village to make it happen, and I'm so glad this organization plays such a big part in saving so many lives. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Out & About: Hill Country Golf and Guitar

On Saturday we had our family birthday celebration for Hank and my sister Holly. My mom came up with the brilliant idea to do something a little different. She wanted to do something that the little kids could be a part of, and that the big kids would enjoy too. Luckily, Hill Country Golf & Guitar opened just a few miles from their house just a few months ago. The weather was absolutely amazing too, making it the best day ever for a family outing.

The 18-hole course is spread out on a beautiful piece of land, and I believe they are about to start on a second course. We had to wait about 30 minutes, and I have no doubt that the place will remain packed through most of the spring and summer. Most of the holes were a par-3, but the water feature on hole 10 got the best of a few of us (note the picture of my brother fishing balls out of the pond).

The Holland House: Hill Country Gold & Guitar
The course has a stage built right in the middle of it, and there will be live bands playing on the weekend soon. The park is mostly music-themed, including the guitar pick hole signs.

The Holland House: Family Birthday Celebration



Blair and Georgia had an absolute blast. Blair got a plastic club (thank goodness) and it was all we could do to keep him contained on each hole. This picture of him charging down the green just cracks me up.

The Holland House: Blair


Georgia was a little more serious about her game, and was working hard to score some major style points. It's still hard for me to believe that she is 5 (plus a few months). They grow up way too fast!

The Holland House: Georgia


In true birthday boy fashion, Hank ended up winning the entire round. Here he is practicing his swing.

The Holland House: Hank


I somehow missed a good shot of Blake and Meredith, but here are some fun family pics before we headed inside for an amazing dinner.

The Holland House: Family Pics


Speaking of dinner, the food was really good! Lots of fried stuff and burgers, so not really the healthiest of dinner choices. But all of the ingredients were great quality, and I loved the sweet bun on my hamburger. The french fries with homemade aioli was a little bit of wonderful too!

The Holland House: Hill Country Golf & Guitar
If you are looking for a fun date or family activity, this place can accommodate all. There was even a "treehouse" with arcade games for the kids. My whole family had a blast, and I'm looking forward to going back again soon. I think it will be so fun to listen to a band play while swinging through a round of putt putt golf. Such a clever concept!

Friday, January 30, 2015

NoLa 2015, A 40th Birthday Celebration

**This post took two weeks to write. Sorry!**

Lordy, I can't believe my husband is 40! Even worse is that I'll join the club in 11 short months. We had wanted to celebrate by traveling somewhere fun, and New Orleans was the perfect destination. Easy to get to, wouldn't require a car, and there would be endless great food/drink options.

The Holland House: NoLa



Everyone should experience New Orleans at some point in their life. It's such a unique, colorful, noisy city filled with a never ending sense of revelry. It can be overwhelming and exhausting, but we loved every minute of our trip.

To spare you a lengthy recap, I'll just highlight some of our favorite things, and what I consider to be "Must-Dos" should you visit NoLa.

Food:

No trip to New Orleans is complete without at least one stop at Cafe du Monde for some hot beignets and coffee. We actually made it twice. The line is long on the weekend, so try to go first thing in the morning if you can. There's a huge patio, and the people watching is spectacular. If you're lucky, you'll be serenaded by a street musician.

The Holland House: Beignets at Cafe du Monde


We tried to venture away from the French Quarter for most of our dinners, and enjoyed great meals in two different neighborhoods. In the Warehouse District, we celebrated Hank's birthday with an incredible dinner at the James Beard Award winning Peche Seafood Grill. While the whole meal was spectacular, it's going to sound weird that the fried bread appetizer was one of the most memorable parts. Don't knock it til you try it! We also went to the opposite side of the Quarter to the Bywater section, and had a great patio dinner at a neighborhood restaurant called Oxalis.

Oysters! I don't eat them, but figured I should at least try them while visiting a city that helped make them famous. We ate an early dinner at Acme Oyster House, and lucked out with a seat at the bar where we could watch the guys shucking the oysters. I knew I wouldn't be able to stomach a raw oyster, so I opted for the Chargrilled version topped with parmesan and an herb butter sauce. To die for!

The Holland House: Acme Oyster House


Both lunches were in the gorgeous Garden District. We had a late lunch at Camelia Grill, an old school diner that serves up amazing greasy burgers and shakes (and also breakfast all day). This spot is extra special, because my grandparents used to eat here on date night decades ago when my Papa was a professor at Tulane. Our last meal was at a corner sandwich spot that came highly recommended via Yelp. The Grocery is not really a grocery at all, but they do serve up some mean pressed sandwiches. I went with the Pressed Creole Reuben, and Hank had a Muffuletta, and both were amazing.

The Holland House: Pressed Creole Reuben



Drinks and Music:

Pat O'Briens. Duh. It's the most touristy thing you can do, but I can't think of a more fun way to get the party started! We lucked out with bar seats in the room with dueling pianos, and had a ton of fun watching the show. You have to have something there, if for nothing else tradition's sake.

Our first night in town we caught a show on the small stage at House of Blues with Luke Wade from The Voice. He put on a great show, and it was a fun way to kick off the trip. It's a little more commercial than we would normally do, but we thought it was fun to see someone that we enjoyed watching on the show.

Put this on your DO NOT MISS list: Bacchanal Wine in Bywater. Take a cab and get there early so you can grab a table in the back. You can buy bottles of wine in the front, pick up some glasses, and settle in the back for some really great jazz. There's a great video on the website that shows how cool this place is (way better than my grainy pictures). It truly is a hidden gem.

Order a Sazerac (you can get them just about anywhere, but the fancy Roosevelt Hotel bar is a fun place to drink one).

Other things to do and see:

On Monday morning we went on a 6 mile New Orleans Jogging Tour. The weather was amazing, our tour guide Marcus was everything you expect from a New Orleans local, and the tour itself was a ton of fun. We jogged an easy pace, stopped at plenty of sights, and had a great time. It was such a fun and different way to see the city. Two highlights were Peyton Manning's childhood home (his parents still live there), and Sandra Bullock's house. Half the tour was in the French Quarter, and the other half was through the Garden District.

The Holland House: New Orleans Jogging Tour


If you've had your fill of the French Quarter, hop on the trolley to the Garden District, and then walk halfway back down Magazine Street. Tons of shops, restaurants and bars- it's a slower pace with plenty to see.

Be sure to also stop at one of the cemeteries. We visited the Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District, and there were all kinds of interesting finds. The above ground tombs have a fascinating history, and you can read more about them here. Some of the tombs had as many as 20 family members in them. You can take a tour to learn more info, but we just walked around by ourselves.

The Holland House: Lafayette Cemetery


Last but not least, make sure you allow enough time to really walk the French Quarter. Not just Bourbon Street (gross), but all the little housing sections around it. I just couldn't get enough of the architecture on every single block.

The Holland House: NoLa



 
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