Hasta la vista, Austin!


Hey, Austin, it’s been nice knowing you, but it’s time for me to move on. The 100+ degree heat throughout the summer (which lasts from April to October) isn’t doing it for me, nor is the Cedar Fever. So I’ve hit the trail for parts west – California, to be exact!

That’s right: I did the unthinkable and went from “cheap” Austin to “overpriced” San Diego.

And let me tell ya, it ain’t as overpriced as all you hipsters make it out to be!

If you’re curious about what I’m up to, feel free to hit up my new blog, Adventures in Loafing, for musings on taking the slow road, exploring southern California, and travel for the flâneur or “lounger.” As one of our most famous devotees once wrote, “Not all who wander are lost.”

See you in SoCal!

With love from San Diego ("Ocean Beach, San Diego" photo by Flickr user Michael Seljos)

Wish you were here! (“Ocean Beach, San Diego” photo by Flickr user Michael Seljos)

Comments Off on Pick your poison: Cider

Pick your poison: Cider


I’ve been drinking quite a bit of hard cider lately, and I have to say that my favorite is definitely Crispin Natural Hard Apple Cider.

And no, they didn’t pay me to say that. Although I certainly wouldn’t mind a free case!

I’d been drinking their Original brew, which comes in a 4-pack for around $7 at your local grocer, when I noticed a slightly darker shade of blue on the bottle. I took a closer look and discovered they also have a Brut, which has fewer calories and a less sugary taste (and is described as “European-style extra-dry” on their website).


I am now officially a devotee.

130 calories, 14 g of carbs, no added sugar, and gluten-free. What’s not to love? Even the Dallas Morning News agrees with me. And The Kitchn notes that there’s also a line of Artisanal Reserves. Where can I get some of that?!

Maybe in California, where the stuff’s made by the Crispin-Fox Barrel Cider Company.

Who’s up for a road trip?

Comments Off on Free love poems for your Valentine

Free love poems for your Valentine


We here at Shoestring Austin know that Valentine’s Day is often just another cash-grab by the fat cats in marketing and retail, and we don’t have much respect for that. However, we’re feeling all snuggly and lovey, and we’ve recently released an anthology of super awesome love poems with our pals at Buttontapper Press. So we thought what the heck? LET’S HOLD ANOTHER GIVEAWAY!

While some may shun poetry for its awful affiliations with boring stuff like Shakespeare and his impenetrable sonnets, you’re probably familiar with a great little gem of creative writing: the haiku. Just 5 syllables, then 7 syllables, then another 5 syllables and you’re done.

Kinda like this:

martini bar blonde
six inch heels, crimson lips curl
bumming cigarettes

Or this:

riding crop whips past
slapping flesh fresh from silk sheets
your mistress awaits

Or even…

Well, to find out that last juicy morsel, you’ll have to do us a little bitty favor.

The Giveaway

Go friend up Buttontapper Press on Facebook, and we’ll give you a FREE love haiku, just for you! Use it on your Valentine and see where it gets you. Or keep it to yourself and enjoy the secret thrill of a poem written in your honor. Hell, get it tattooed over your “Winona Forever” mistake, if it floats your boat. There’s no wrong way to appreciate haiku, yo.

Want more?

Want more sweet and sexy haiku?

Check out the Buttontapper Press anthology, HAIKU FOR LOVERS, now available at Amazon.com. 62 pages of bite-sized, chocolate-dipped words for lovers and would-be Romeos and Juliets (minus that annoying death scene, naturally), complete with cherry-poppin’ artwork.

It’s a quickie for your mind and your tingly bits.

It’s only been out for 24 hours and it’s already got a 5-star review from a Zen poet from San Francisco. IN HAIKU FORM! (Seriously, how awesome is that?)

Don’t do Kindle? No problemo! All digital formats under the sun are available from Smashwords, whether you read on your iPhone, your Nook or just your big-ol’ computer screen from 1987. (Paperbacks coming soon, for those that dig old-school print!)

Comments Off on Valentine’s Day Ghirardelli GIVEAWAY!

Valentine’s Day Ghirardelli GIVEAWAY!


UPDATE: 2/8/2013 – 11 AM: I have reached 1,500 followers! @Miah5Rainbows was the 1,500th person to follow me, so Miah, if you’re reading this, email me your address [shoestringaustin@gmail.com] and I’ll send you your chocolate! For everybody else, you’ve still got a few more hours left to win the Rafflecopter contest below, so get on it!

So, guess what? The cool kids at Ghirardelli sent me more of their delicious chocolate, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Ghirardelli Milk & Strawberry bar, retail value $3.95

If you haven’t already guessed, I freaking LOVE Ghirardelli. It’s made in San Francisco, and it’s smooth. I am a big fan of their dark chocolate, especially in square form, since it prevents me from gobbling up an entire bar in one sitting.

For Valentine’s Day, they’ve got a strawberry theme happening. Milk & Strawberry, Dark & Strawberry, and Vanilla Dream are their new square flavors. As previously noted, I’m not big on the white chocolate flavors, so Vanilla Dream is a bit lost on me. However, if you’re into strawberry, you will definitely want to check out the milk and dark options. They’re like biting into a chocolate, filled with a smooth strawberry jam. Kind of like a cherry cordial, but strawberry!

Okay, you’re here for the giveaway, am I right?

Here’s how you win it:

Be the 1,500th person to follow me on Twitter.

Easy, right?

No fuss, no muss, just click over to my profile @originaloflaura and hit “follow.” BLAMMO! Entered to win. My 1,500th follower will receive a Milk & Strawberry bar (as pictured above).

And, just to be fancy, I’ll also give one away to a random reader, using Rafflecopter.

So go ahead and enter twice! What have you got to lose?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

NOTE: 1,500th follower contest ends whenever I hit the 1,500 mark at Twitter (as of this posting update, I’ve got 1,481 1,512 followers). Rafflecopter entries will be accepted until February 8, 2013. Winner will be chosen on February 9 and mailed out ASAP so you can get it in time for Valentine’s Day!

Ghirardelli Chocolate - Super Sweet Sale
Can’t wait to see if you’ve won? Check out Ghirardelli’s Valentine’s Day Sale! Take 10% Off Any Purchase with Coupon: SWEETHEART.

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all!


Coworking in Austin without breaking the bank


With the freelance revolution, lots of Austinites are working from home these days. Since sitting alone with your computer can be a bit depressing, most of us like to venture forth to hit up the coffee shops for a bit of human interaction—and sweet, sweet caffeine.

But buying a cup of joe just to secure a rickety table at your favorite java hut can get expensive, and coffee shops owners can become downright surly about patrons camping out on a daily basis.

There’s got to be a better way.

Coworking spaces save the day

Even if you’re on a budget, coworking spaces can help break up your routine and get you fired up about your work week again. Since you don’t have to rent a dedicated office space, the costs are lower, and you can typically pay by the day or the month, dropping in as you like. Often times there are also discounts for purchasing larger blocks of time in advance.

Coworking spaces in Austin tend to be laid-back affairs, with open areas for laptop users to mingle or work in teams, but there are also more private spaces for those who need to put their heads down and get stuff done solo. There are also spaces for people who do artistic work and need a place to get messy.

Here are four great local options for your coworking adventures that won’t break the bank.


Conjunctured (1309 E. 7th Street) bills itself as “a coworking community,” and its space is both friendly and functional. Located on Austin’s east side, Conjunctured is a small house that was remodeled in 2008 as a workspace with four different rooms: a coworking community room, lounge, conference room and quiet room. Members have all kinds of benefits like access to free coffee and espresso, wifi, the on-site fax machine, copier and printers, and plenty of office supplies—not to mention the Conjunctured job board, for those seeking additional work. Basic membership is just $25 a month, or you can opt to purchase a day pass for $25 per day. You can also try out a free 1-day guest membership to get a feel for the place, anytime from noon to 6 PM, Monday through Friday. Just book your date in advance so members can show you around and introduce you to the gang.

ATX Hackerspace

ATX Hackerspace (9701 Dessau Road, Suite #304) is geared towards “makers,” or creative types who need room to stretch out with their artistic projects and make a mess. This space also great for crafty types who want to share tools and skills. Run as a co-op, those who want to join Hackerspace for coworking purposes will first need to attend a membership meeting, which are held on the first and third Tuesday of each month, starting at 7:30 PM. Visitors are welcome to drop by any time for open house events or to work in the space when other members are present. To get full 24-hour access to on-site tools and classes, you can become a patron for $75 a month on the pay-as-you-go plan or $50 a month with auto-payment. Co-op members need to pay a one-time $100 to buy their co-op share, and in return they receive additional discounts on classes and events. There’s also a $20 monthly discount for full-time students, and lay-away plans for those who need it.


The cheapest place in town to do a little coworking has got to be Space12 (3121 E. 12th Street), which is available for just $10 a day or by donation. Though they’re only open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 AM to 5 PM, Space12 has a decidedly Austin vibe with its ping pong and foosball tables to break up your work day with a few games, as well as a relaxing yoga space and local art gallery. Drop in, hang out and get a little work done.


Though it’s not technically a coworking space, WriteByNight (1305 E. 6th Street, Suite 4) is an east-side space that’s open for regular drop-in hours for writers. Anyone with a laptop, iPad or notebook looking to escape the coffee shops is welcome to drop in for quiet writing time on Tuesdays from 10 AM to 3 PM, Wednesdays from 4 PM to 10 PM, and Thursdays from noon to 6 PM. The space is geared towards helping writers, with access to writing books and resources, free wifi and coffee, and various tables and couches to get you into the creative zone. While you’re there, you can also get free consultations on your writing projects from co-owners David Duhr and Justine Tal Goldberg. And did we mention it’s free?

Can the coffee shop

Whether you’re looking to get out of the coffee shop, make some art, or just need a conference space where you can get some team work done, these Austin coworking spaces are easy to access and won’t strain your budget.

Special offer

If you’re looking to give coworking a try before the end of the year, check out DeskWanted. They’ll give you a €10 (approximately $12) credit if you book a space through their online system, from now until December 31. They’ve got links to lots of other coworking spaces in Austin, including The Posh Co-Working Lounge (a ladies-only coworking space) and Link Coworking (near one of the Alamo Drafthouse locations to further entice you). Click here for full details.

Freelancers: what’s your favorite coworking space in Austin?