Thursday, July 23rd

St. Philip

Pizza at St. Philip, Austin, Texas

When St. Philip opened last fall, the buzz was hot. Everyone was ready to see what kind of amazing pizza was going to come out of the Uchi group’s imagination. After all, if anyone could afford to do it right, it’s them. I envisioned chefs living in Italy for months to learn classic technique which they would then bring back to Austin with modern twists in ways only they could do. However my dreams of world-class pizza on an Uchi scale were not realized. This isn’t a pizza place. It’s a restaurant and bake shop that just happens to also make pizza. And that doesn’t mean it’s not good, only that expectations should be adjusted accordingly.

Perhaps I’m the only one trying to turn Austin into New York or Italy. What can I say? I’m greedy. It’s not enough to have the world’s best barbecue and tacos. I want the pizza, too.

Kale Pizza at St. Philip, Austin Texas

So about the pizza…it’s fine. You can order it and it’s tasty enough, presented well, and the menu offers a variety of white pizzas, which is a bonus. But you don’t come here for the pizza. You come for the other menu options. The rotating salads, which feature fresh seasonal ingredients. Fancy salads that make you realize you should be doing more with salads at home.

Bread and Fresh Margarine with Salad of Pickles from St. Philip, Austin Texas

Come for the Golden Cauliflower, which has no business being so good with raisins or parsley in it—two ingredients I don’t love—but sings on the plate.

Golden Cauliflower at St. Philip, Austin Texas

And for the love of all that is holy in cheese heaven, come for the Tomato and Burata Toast which is only $4 at happy hour. Their offering of the decadent cream and mozzarella cheese is my very favorite in the city.

Burrata at St. Philip Austin Texas

The bakeshop has a magic all its own, and despite some major misses upon opening, they seem to have found their groove. From the creative pop tarts and donuts, to scones, cookies and other fine treats, there’s something for everyone behind those glass cases. And it’s all very special.

Donut Holes at St. Philip, Austin Texas

S'Mores at St. Philip, Austin Texas

Glazed Donuts at St. Philip, Austin Texas

Bread at St. Philip, Austin Texas

When St. Philip started making breakfast sandwiches our collective ears perked up. No offense to the breakfast taco, but it’s nice to have another option. And these are really, really good. House pancetta on a homemade English muffin? Come on…

Breakfast Sandwiches at St. Philip, Austin Texas

English Muff Sandwich at St. Philip, Austin Texas

Bagel Sandwiches at St. Philip, Austin Texas

Part of the charm of St. Philip is that it’s simply nothing like Uchi. I guess one can make comparisons in the customer service or beautiful, attention-oriented decor, but it aims to stand on its own and it does. While the unfortunate troubles of since-departed chef Philip Speer may have stolen the headlines at first, it’s clear that St. Philip has rebounded and is making their own news.

St. Philip, Austin Texas

J Rose at St. Philip, Austin Texas

Have you been to St. Philip? What are your favorites?

Thursday, July 16th

Kitchen Renovation: Lightening and Brightening

When we bought our house a few months ago, there were a few cosmetic changes we knew we’d be making right away. Painting and replacing the floors were the first order of business so that we could move in, and then all other upgrades would happen while we unpacked and settled.

The heart of any home is the kitchen and just because our kitchen is small, it pulses with love nonetheless. After living with an apartment galley kitchen for years, it’s not like we’re used to something huge. In fact, with a pantry that holds a ton of food and a few extra cabinets and drawers than we had before, this small kitchen is ever-so-slightly more spacious.

Before pictures of a kitchen home renovation

The cabinets—while nothing special—were in pretty good shape. We didn’t have room in the budget to replace them anyway, but we wanted to freshen them up and refinish them in white. Now, just slapping some paint on cabinets can ruin them, so this was a risky undertaking. But I found a good YouTube tutorial and we followed it to the letter, save painting the insides. We also chose to prime the cabinets before painting. The quality of the paint is non-negotiable as is the time spent sanding and prepping. I think we spent about $100-$150 for paint, good rollers and brushes, a small electric sander, etc. It took a few weeks to do it in stages, but we’re happy with the result.

We also wanted to get rid of the ugly countertops, cheap sink, and rickety fixtures. Originally we thought we’d get granite tops, but ultimately decided that the cost wasn’t justified as it would eat up too much of our budget. We found one of two people in the Austin area that install laminate and perused his hundreds of samples, knowing that we wanted something black. A swirl of holographic ocean colors makes the dark counter pop and we like that we don’t have to treat the counter with kid gloves. We widened the area on the upper ledge so I could showcase my gorgeous, but not-used-too-often KitchenAid mixer and other space-hogging items.

Brown laminate countertop

Installing laminate countertop with Austin Laminate Countertops

We spent about $1,000 on the counters and installation, which included putting in our new sink and faucet. I made sure to order those in advance and had them ready on the big day. We wanted an industrial style chrome faucet and chose a Ruvati for their good reputation and moderate pricing. Industrial spray faucets can range from crazy expensive to dirt cheap. We landed somewhere in the middle with one normally priced at $280 and found it on Amazon for $168. Score! Kevin completed the job in one day and was simply fantastic.

Ruvati Commercial Style Pullout Spray, Polished Chrome

The sink was a topic of discussion for awhile, as we went back and forth debating between stainless steel or something else. I spent hours and hours pouring over sinks online. I was hoping to get:

– Something with one hole so we didn’t have to deal with plugs

– A standard size sink that looks enormous and deep

– A single (rather than a split) basin that wasn’t likely to scratch, stain, burn, or crack.

In the end we went with white composite for its durability, affordability, and modern look. I cannot tell you how many people have complimented this sink that we bought for $203.

Swanstone Dual Mount One-hole Composite Sink

One of the areas we were most eager to see improved was the cheap laminate floor which was destroyed with concrete stain from our earlier construction. We opted for a light gray tile. In hindsight, we probably picked something too inexpensive (something like .49 a piece) so we’ll see how it holds up. So far we know that it gets dirty pretty easily but also mops up easily. The mounting labor costs as well as the grout and mortar were why we skimped in this area. Also, I should mention that hiring someone who worked “cheap” was fraught with timing issues, unprofessionalism, and frankly, just not worth it. So lesson learned there. But this person (who I won’t name) also installed tile in our bathrooms, as well as new toilets, and baseboards in the entire house. So indeed, it was cheap. The tile came from Floor & Decor. I did not find their selection to be anything special.

Laminate floor before, Tile floor after

We saved the walls for last. We painted over the existing beige with a neutral gray and took our time choosing a backsplash. It was hard not to pick something flashy, but ultimately decided on bright white subway tile for a few reasons:

1. It’s a classic that never goes out of style.

2. Going neutral is best for resale value.

3. With no kitchen window, brighter is better.

4. It was inexpensive, costing less than $90 for all the tile.

Bright white subway tile

The Tile Guy came highly recommended and it was the staff there that recommended Derek Knowles (512.669.1510) as an installer. Can’t say enough good about these vendors and I’d use both again in a heartbeat! Derek gave us a fair price and repaired the wall where the builder had incorrectly mounted electrical outlets. The whole backsplash was done in a weekend.

What else did we do? Mr. Betty replaced the flourescent lighting with an Ikea ceiling track that cost about $100, including the lightbulbs. I placed chevron Contact paper in the cabinets and drawers to complete the modern feel and to help protect it from wear and tear. I also made a little family command center on the outer kitchen wall so we have a place to store mail, leave notes and lists, hang photos, etc. It keeps things tidy and looks cute, too.

Chevron contact paper in cabinets

Family Command Center with corkboard, magnetic chalkboard and file organizer

Corkboard and Magnetic Chalkboard

Now that we’re finished we’re enjoying our bright, modern kitchen and I look forward to cooking lots of meals here. We felt that we used our limited budget wisely and stretched it quite far. Our one regret, a luxury I was excited about, was hiring a cleaning company to give the place a top-to-bottom cleaning before we moved in. More than $200 got us two young girls who did a sloppy, rushed job, skipping big areas like the fridge, oven, showers and tubs, windows, air vents, and more. Because we were renovating they didn’t have to do the floors, so there was very little actual cleaning done, despite the place being filled with dust, debris, and all kinds of dirt.

It was disappointing enough that we emailed the company feedback and photos in the hopes to get a refund. They offered to send another crew out to do the job correctly, which we were happy to accept. Unfortunately, they sent the same two girls, who this time were angry and instead of setting to work wanted me to walk around and dictate what needed to be done. It was unpleasant to say the least, and they stayed all of fifteen minutes on this return visit. So Boardwalk Cleaning tops my list of businesses that I’ll never patronize again. Sad trombone.

Kitchen after renovations

Anyway, how do you like our bright little kitchen?

Check out how we renovated our small closet here

Tuesday, July 7th

Sala & Betty

I’ve been holding onto these Sala & Betty photos for a rainy day. It was a while ago that Craft Taste and I met Foodie is the New Forty and her hubby for dinner—the soft opening, actually—but the memory is fond and I wanted to share.

Sala & Betty, Austin, Texas

The space is comfortable with modern industrial touches and cozy seating, a dog-friendly patio, and a bar. Oh, and there’s a drive-thru that serves quick food but not the kind of “fast food” you’re thinking of…unless fast food to you is organic home cooking. So there’s a lot going on in this little place.

They perfected the ready-to-go food during the soft opening, so that is what we tried. I need to make return visits to try the lunch and dinner menus, but on this day we all really loved what is now the drive-thru menu.

Mister T sandwich at Austin, Texas

It was hard to choose a sandwich, but we settled on the Mister T with its Wagyu Smoked Sirloin, avocado aioli, fries and bleu cheese sauce. The perfectly balanced flavors are topped with lots of fresh greens and housed in crusty bread. This was a really good sandwich and worth the trip alone.

Ready to go menu at Sala and Betty, Austin, Texas

We also shared a few more dishes, pictured above. Meats are available a la carte so we tried the Beef Sirloin which was tender and juicy, and the Pork Shoulder which was the favorite dish of the evening. Expertly seasoned and so succulent, we happily devoured the plate. For sides we had fresh garlic green beans and what is perhaps the most talked-about menu item, the fries. In fact, we ordered a second plate because we couldn’t get enough of their perfectly cooked, salty crunch.

Bake at home chocolate souffle at Sala and Betty, Austin Texas

For dessert, we couldn’t resist the Bake-at-Home Chocolate Soufflé. Of course, we didn’t have to bake it ourselves at the restaurant, so it was served warm and gooey. There’s nothing like a decadent chocolate dessert to cap off a meal. Except maybe a creme brûlée. Sala & Betty offers a Brûlée of the Day and on this day it was a black tea flavor which was shockingly good and the perfect size to share.

Brulee of the Day at Sala and Bess, Austin, Texas

Where’s the last place you had a fun dinner with friends? Have you been to Sala & Betty?

Sala & Betty

5201 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751

M-Th 10:30am-9pm, F-Sat 10:30am-10pm

Wednesday, June 10th

Far From the Maddening Crowd: How to Move in Austin

Whether you’re moving into the heart of the action or, like us, a little off the beaten path in Austin, you’ll probably encounter the typical hassles of city moving. With Austin being as crowded as it is and tons of new people moving here everyday, there are plenty of businesses around just to help you with your stuff. Storing it, buying it, donating it, moving it, etc. Here are a few that I used and can happily recommend.

Buying a House

For Mr. Betty and I, the whole process started with buying our first house. We lived in the same South Lamar gated apartment community for seven years and were ready to shed the noise of apartment living for our own place. Austin is crazy right now, definitely a seller’s market. Our budget wasn’t huge and we were realistic about where we could live and how to make the most of our money. For us, the decision to move east was simple. It’s got charm of its own, and allowed us to get a bigger place, a yard, two-car garage, all that stuff. It was hard to say goodbye to our hot 78704 neighborhood, but as most homes were tiny and approaching a million bucks a pop, it wasn’t like we had a choice.

For those looking to buy a house in Austin right now, let me offer a few tips:

1. Don’t get overly attached to anything. It’s really competitive, so be prepared to make offers on multiple places. I experienced a few rounds of heartbreak, really letting myself get so excited about a few places. Next time, I’ll be tougher.

2. Keep a flexible schedule and a positive attitude. Because I work from home it was easy for me to take off at a moment’s notice and go see a house right when it hit the market. (And just like with BBQ, Austinites will wait in line to see a house. Be prepared for a dozen people to show up before a house officially hits, everyone trying to get a leg up and make offers immediately.) Any house that was a serious contender required a second visit with Mr. Betty.

3. Get yourself a really good Realtor. All things being equal, it’s your agent who will win you the deal with good relationships, clean contract writing, and basically advocating for you. I lucked out because one of my best friends happens to be a rock star at her job. Melissa Lombard worked tirelessly on our behalf, and it was through her persistence that we ended up with a great house. When we sell one day, we’ll be excited to work with her again.


We opted to pack and move ourselves, saving on moving expenses so that we could put more money towards home renovation. I’m a good packer and love to throw things out, so I started sorting through nonessentials like clothes, books, mementos, to box up or donate as soon as I could. Before we even found our house, I already had 40 or 50 boxes packed. Once we had a home, plan, and moving date secured, we were able to kick it into high gear.

We rented a large U-Haul truck for about $60 and made a plan to pack it ourselves with the help of a few generous friends. We also took advantage of a Living Social deal which gave us two strong experienced movers from Keep Austin Moving for two hours for $99. And…wow. These guys took charge and packed our entire apartment in that time by themselves. It made the day so much easier. We were able to conserve our energy for unpacking, which we did ahead of schedule. I should note that my protective friends and husband really wouldn’t let me carry much, even though I was in my second trimester and not a useless blob like I am now.

A real life saver was using Binstro, who reached out to me to see how they could help us move. The local startup is typically used for storage, which I didn’t think I needed. Unbeknownst to me, it would be the thing that saved my sanity. But more on that in a moment.

The process works like this:

1. Place an order for how many bins you need to hold your stuff and choose a delivery date and time. You’ll receive a nice clean stack of reusable bins, ready to go with blank labels and a Sharpie. Each bin holds 75 pounds, so they are really large and convenient. Rather than making them super heavy, we chose to mostly fill ours with clothes right on the hangers, layering in carefully wrapped breakables in between.




2. Schedule a pick up. My original plan was to just have the bins immediately delivered to the new house, but as our renovations weren’t quite complete, we opted to store them for a few weeks. This gave us the flexibility—and space—to really focus on the renovations properly without having to constantly shuffle around tons of boxes during construction. We had peace of mind knowing that our belongings were safe and secure in climate controlled storage. Each bin was barcoded and double-fastened with zip ties.


3. Schedule the delivery of your full bins. When you’re ready to be reunited with your belongings, Binstro will bring them to wherever you are. Then you unpack and schedule one last pick up of the empties. It’s so incredibly easy and I found each interaction to be friendly, pleasant, and smooth. (These people work hard, and my personal recommendation is to give a generous tip, but that’s completely up to you.)

Pricing and more explanation on how to use Binstro can be found on their website, along with additional bin sizes and add-on services. They are very accommodating with pickup and delivery times, and I’d recommend setting those up about a week in advance.




Because our bins were mostly filled with clothes on hangers, it should have been easy to just unpack into a new closet. But our new closets, while more numerous, are considerably smaller than the enormous ones in our apartment. This was made worse by the fact that the previous owners didn’t optimize the space. Mr. Betty and I realized that if we were going to keep any kind of order in our bedroom, our smaller walk-in closet would need an overhaul before we put anything in there.

Mr. Bettty took a sledge hammer to the two puny bars and shelves, then patched and painted the walls, giving us a fresh slate. After reviewing our options for affordable closet systems, we opted to go with the Rubbermaid HomeFree Series of customizable wire shelving. Careful planning and a few rounds of measuring and sketching out ideas gave us a good list to bring to Lowe’s. We bought a couple big kits and extension packs, choosing to mix and match pieces for our own, completely customized system. Here are the before and after photos:

Walk-in Closet

Walk-in Closet

Big difference, right? It’s still a tight fit, but we were able to put a lot of stuff in there and I can’t imagine the mess we’d be in had we not made this crucial update. Adding a robe hook behind the door and a pull-out rack for ties and belts let us maximize the space even further. I believe we spent around $400-$500 on the closet altogether.

Rubbermaid Homefree Series


Rubbermaid Homefree Series

Part of what reaffirmed our need to organize properly on the front end was reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. While I don’t quite have a clutter or hoarding problem, there are plenty of areas where I can improve and this book offers lots of great tips to living a tidier, more organized life. Moving into a new space was the perfect time for me to reevaluate all our belongings. I found myself letting go of things that I thought I loved, but haven’t touched in years.

Anyway, moving is stressful. But our experience was a good one largely in part to the fantastic local businesses available in Austin. I can wholeheartedly recommend Binstro, Melissa Lombard, and Keep Austin Moving. Thanks for everything, you guys! We never could have done it without you.

As we finish different areas of the new house, I’ll be updating the blog with renovation photos, successes, and mishaps!

Tuesday, June 2nd


Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden, Rainey Street Austin Texas

What can be said about Banger’s that hasn’t been said a million times before? Everyone loves this place. It boasts the largest draft beer selection in the city. The menu built around sausages is so popular that the massive location is always full of hungry dudes. (Indeed, it’s a veritable sausage fest. Take note, ladies.) It’s got a great atmosphere, tons of live music, and is so dog friendly that I think a couple canines actually help run the place.

Sausage at Banger's, Austin Texas

Actually, the place is run by owner Ben Siegel, beer manager Courtney Strange, and a whole slew of other dedicated staff. Craft Taste and I had the opportunity to chat with Ben and Courtney, and while we were already big fans of Banger’s, we walked away with an almost evangelical love for the place.

First, why sausages? Mostly because Ben was a huge fan of Best Wurst in college and thought Austin could benefit from a larger sausage offering. No argument there. The menu is huge and really well thought-out. Obviously it’s a carnivores paradise, but there are plenty of offerings for the more plant-minded as well. Pickles (also the name of one of Ben’s dogs) and krauts, potatoes, and what was a new discovery for me…boiled peanuts.

Boiled Peanuts, Banger's Austin Texas

If you haven’t tried boiled peanuts, put it on your list of must-eats in Austin. The Southern specialty is made from raw peanuts that are boiled in a salty, flavorful brine until soft. Best served with beer and good conversation, one squeezes the peanut shell, popping the soft peanuts and juice into ones mouth. It’s one of those active snacks that’s delicious, fun, a bit exotic (to a Yankee like me, at least) and just perfection in its simplicity. Note that I was enjoying the outside seating area when these were served and my dark photo doesn’t do the peanuts, or any of the food justice. But it was a lovely night to sit outside and I have no regrets!

Banger's, Austin Texas

Cajun Boudin is another menu highlight that’s a novelty to my northern palate. Split open the casing and spread onto a saltine, topping with red beans and rice and a healthy dash of hot sauce. This was another fun dish to share and I’ve thought about it more than a few times since.

Cajun Bouldin Plate, Banger's Austin Texas

As the menu and the tables are so large, Banger’s is the perfect spot for large groups. They are used to accomodating big parties and everyone can order different things to share. As I’ve mentioned, the outside seating area is huge and fabulous, but the inside is not to be overlooked. German-style or beer hall seating means lots of long tables in a big room. It’s loud, it’s festive, it’s efficient.

Beer taps at Banger's Austin Texas

Since I’m married to a craft beer nut, I’ve sat in front of this tap wall, many, many times. His tastes are much more diverse than my own and he’ll be writing his own post about Banger’s eventually. I’m always thrilled with the rotating wheats and anything on nitro, and now that I’ve got a little passenger on board, I’m grateful when I see root beer on tap. On Mondays the beer staff meets for their legendary beer meetings. Bottles are tasted, hops discussed and the second half of the meeting is open to the public. I hope to drop in myself one day and learn a few things.

Have you been to Banger’s? What are your favorite beers and brats you’ve had there? Leave me a comment and tell me what else I need to try.

Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden

79 & 81 Rainey St

Sun 10 am-11 pm, M-W 4 pm-11 pm, Th-Sat 11 am-12 am

Thursday, May 21st

Weird Homes Tour

Some say Austin’s lost its weirdness forever, but that if we just look for it we’ll see bits of weirdness everywhere. The Weird Homes Tour makes the search easier with a curated list of Austin’s best and weirdest. Tickets ($25) for the self-driving tour are available on the website, along with a VIP option ($37) for those who want to party with fellow weird seekers.

10% of all ticket sales goes to Caritas in support of Austin’s affordable housing programs.

Do you have a favorite weird spot in Austin? I’ve always been partial to the Cathedral of Junk and have been many, many times. It’s a must-do for all my out of town guests and I love how it’s evolved so much over time. Every repeat visit brings new discoveries!

I’m very curious to see Aralyn Hughes‘ house. If you’ve seen a crazy decorated car driving around, chances are it’s one of hers. This iconic house? Hers, too.

Keep Austin Weird House

It takes time, dedication, and a bit of bravery to let your weird flag fly. I say we celebrate it and show appreciation for these great individuals who helped make Austin the city we’re so proud to show off. See you on the tour!

Saturday, May 23rd, 10 am-6 pm

Tickets and more information available at

Wednesday, May 13th

Life Changes

What’s happening to this poor blog? Ignored, barely updated, a ghost town of its former self. I did exactly what I swore I’d never do, which is become one of those bloggers who is just “too busy” right now.

But the truth is, I am too busy. For the last month (plus) Mr. Betty and I have been immersed in renovating our new house, taking baby classes, and just dealing with time-consuming nature of all these big life changes.

For those of you who don’t already know, we have a baby joining us around August 1st. To answer the most common questions:

1. It’s a girl

2. I feel pretty good

3. We’re still talking about names, but won’t announce it until she’s born

Baby ultrasound photo

This blog isn’t going to turn into a “mommy blog” which is another question I’ve been asked. Mad Betty will remain about pop culture and Austin. Even though blogs about parenting and coupons get thousands and thousands (millions, really) more hits than I do, I still plan on being the same old me. Just more tired and with more love. Anyway, I started a tiny blog to share news with friends and family back home, which you are welcome to look at if you want. Now I have another blog to fail at! Hooray!

Anyway, that’s the scoop. Right now we’re overwhelmed with house stuff and I spend my days painting, sanding, hiring and paying various helpers, looking at furniture, and yes, also working. I’m tired and haven’t had time to paint my nails or even watch one new episode of Mad Men yet. (I know!) I’ll do a separate post about the house and the vendors I used and recommend. Other posts coming up will include:

  • Features on Banger’s and St. Philip
  • Weird Homes Tour
  • Musings on late night TV
  • How to buy sunglasses
  • A recent Sephora haul

Anyway, sorry to be absent for so long. Thanks for sticking around. Please leave me a comment and tell me about your life these days.

Monday, April 13th

Advanced Screening: The Age of Adaline

The Age of Adaline movie poster featuring Blake Lively and Harrison Ford

The Age of Adaline comes out next Friday, April 24th, but you and a friend can get a free early preview. Have you ever gone to an advance screening of a movie or TV show? It’s exciting to be part of a small, select group of passionate pop culture aficionados who get early access. Once I got a taste of these early previews, I’m always going back for more. Those of us who live in Austin are so lucky because the Alamo Drafthouse does these cool things frequently.

For the first time ever, I’m able to share my early access credentials with my readers! On Wednesday, April 15th there will be a special advance screening of The Age of Adaline. Watch Blake Lively portray a beautiful ageless character who embarks on a romantic journey that changes her course forever. Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn, Michiel Huisman, and Kathy Baker round out the fantastic cast in this touching story.

To sign up for the screening visit the Lions Gate Screenings page and click Redeem. Your code is MADBETTY. I have 50 pairs of tickets to give away and they are first come, first serve. Make sure to reserve yours today!

Screening Details

Film: The Age of Adaline

Date: Wednesday, April 15th

Time: 7:30 PM

Location: Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar

Monday, March 30th

How to Reupholster a Chair

How to Upholster a Chair

In preparing for a move, I’m currently going through all my belongings and evaluating what deserves keeping and what goes in the donation pile. The opposite of a hoarder, I love throwing stuff out. It’s satisfying to declutter and keep possessions as lean and mean as possible, but maybe I’m too quick to pitch things.

Chair before reupholstering

For instance, this chair. I have a set of four and they aren’t too old, but my beloved monster cat, Chloe, scratched the seats to oblivion. We recently purchased some new chairs, but could really benefit from having some extra seating around for parties and things. I snooped around YouTube to see if upholstering the seats seemed like a project I could tackle in a day, and sure enough, it was easy.

Remove cushions from chair base

How to reupholster a chair

Most chair seats are simply held on by screws. Just flip the chair over and carefully unscrew. Set aside the base and screws, then get to work removing the staples. Depending on how old your chair is, the staples could be a simple or monumental task. The newer the chair, the more likely you’ll see aggressive stapling.

How to reupholster a chair, remove staples

How to reupholster a chair, remove staples

How to reupholster a chair, remove staples

My own situation was heinous, with hundreds of staples. The most tedious part of the job, I ended up cutting off the fabric and removing the worst of the staples, focusing on the corners using a small ice pick and needle nose pliers.

How to reupholster a chair

How to reupholster a chair

If the foam padding is in good shape, continue on to applying the new fabric. If not, you’ll need to get fresh foam cut to fit the size of the wood. Simply lay it on top or lightly glue it down if you like. Then center your base in the new fabric, leaving a few inches on each side.

How to reupholster a chair, staple the fabric

How to reupholster a chair, staple the fabric

How to reupholster a chair, staple the fabric

How to reupholster a chair, staple fabric

Using a staple gun, begin by affixing the fabric to the middle of each side. Continue your way around each side one at a time, working your way to the corners. Pull fabric tight before each staple, but don’t choke it. Smoothly fold the corners down in a few pieces, as if wrapping a gift box. Corners should look clean. Trim when you are done, making sure the holes are accessible for when you screw it back together. If your chair had a cover on the bottom, staple that on, too.

Then screw the seat back onto the chair and make sure it’s on there really well. And that’s it! An incredibly easy and affordable way to update your chairs that look outdated or a little rough.

How to reupholster a chair, chevron pattern

How to reupholster a chair, finished project

When I need to pull these out of my garage for extra seating, I won’t have to be embarrassed or glare at my cat. She has no interest in scratching these, by the way, as she prefers to sink her claws into leather or vinyl.

What DIY projects have you taken on lately? Have you ever restored furniture and given it another life? Share in the comments!

Monday, March 2nd

SXSW 2015: Fun Without a Badge

So you can’t shell out for a pricey badge, nor will your job pay for you to attend SXSW 2015. Does that mean you have to miss out on the fun? Hell no! Each year the unofficial events get as much, if not more, press than the official programming. There’s no reason why you can’t join in on the fun!

First, if you haven’t participated in South by Southwest before (or just need a refresher) you can check out my survival guide. Whether you are in it for the swag, the free noms and drinks, parties, networking, etc, you’ll want to be prepared for long days, crazy nights, and sensory overload.

Here are my picks for free events and parties at SXSW this year. This is not a comprehensive list, not even close. Don’t forget that you can tap RSVPster to do the legwork for you. Note that RSVPing does not guarantee you’ll get in to anything, so show up early to the events you really care about.

ATX Startup Crawl

Startup Crawl. Austin’s finest pre-conference (March 12) kickoff is a night of startup hopping downtown. It’s free and you can hit as many offices as you like, most of whom have free booze, casual eats, and kickass DJs. Those of us who live in Austin get to do this twice a year, but the excitement of the spring crawl can’t be beat.


The BIG BASHH. Another regular local event, the Big Ass Social Happy Hour is how many of us network, blow off steam, and just enjoy Austin’s fun professional scene. The big BASHH, the one that leads into SXSW is the best of the year. It’s buzzing with energy and those who travel in for the conference know that’s the best place to get a real taste of Austin with the locals. (March 12)

Umbelmania. Local tech company Umbel will pack the Moody Theater with interactive attendees (and the general public) with live performance by Spoon and (my personal favorite DJ) DJ Chicken George. RSVP and do your best to get there early as badge-holders will get priority access. (March 13)

Gigya Grill. Those seeking refuge and some satiation can stop by El Sol y La Luna for complimentary breakfast, lunch, or happy hour, 10-6. More than just some free noms, Gigya offers networking opportunities and panels. (March 13-15)

Awesomest Journalism Party. Ever. Sponsored out the wazoo, this annual session is a merging of journalism and tech. 5-8 at the Palm Door. (March 14)

Awesomest Journalism Party Ever

Spotify House. Five days of music and fun, plan on waiting in line to get in. But waiting in line is part of SXSW, so embrace it and make friends with the people around you. (March 15-20)

Do512 Family Picnic. For family-friendly fun, head out of the crazy zone to Midway Park for music, food trucks, face painting, magic shows, and more. It’ll be crowded, so bring the kiddies closer to 2:00 and hope they can stay awake till 8. (March 17)

Hype Hotel. The tenth year of this event promises big names paid for by big sponsors like Mazda, Taco Bell, Miller Lite, and Tito’s Vodka. Crazy crowded, plan to be packed in like a sardine any day or time that you go. (March 17-21)

Music Tech Mashup. The fifth anniversary of this event brings a really good music lineup to Empire Control Room and Garage. RSVP on the Facebook page for a chance to win VIP entry. (March 17)

Waterloo Records. The line-up is always fantastic at our favorite little local music shop. This is always the first place I recommend for those who want free access to the biggest acts. It’s a classic Austin location that we’re all so proud of and they always bring some of the magic of SX to locals who may otherwise feel left out of the festival. (March 18-21)

Pandora Discovery Den. Four days of eclectic bands means there’s something for everyone: Electronic, Hip Hop, Americana, and Rock. Head to The Gatsby 1-6 when shows are open to the public. (March 18-21)

Ray Ban\Boiler Room Official Showcase. As hip hop becomes increasingly popular at SXSW the showcases get more and more impressive. You might have a shot at getting into this one to see Ghostface Killah and plenty more great acts by applying for a ticket on their site. (March 18)

KUTX Live at the Four Seasons. Early birds flock to the Four Seasons where $10 gets you entry to four hours of live music, breakfast tacos, coffee, and granola bars. First come first served, there’s no RSVP list. (March 18-21)

Austin Party Weekend. There’s not much info about the APW party yet, but you can show up at Empire Control Room and Garage for day parties March 18-21 and you’ll be sure to have a good time. Don’t forget to RSVP.

APW 2015

Culture Collide. Rainey Street is normally a perfect spot for more intimate—if packed—shows and surprise artists pop up there from time to time. More than 100 bands will be on three stages. RSVP and scroll through the website to handpick your music schedule. Bonus, SouthBites Trailer Park is close by so you can sample the yummiest trucks when you get hungry.

Party in My Pants. The Live Vibe day party will take place at Little Woodrow’s March 20-21st with new bands each hour. Should you hang out all day you’ll get to taste a nice chunk of the music offerings this year.

If you want to check out even more parties and events, Austin 360 has a handy, easy-to-search database of every side party. You can also see who applied for city permits this year, both official and non-official SXSW events.

Want to tell share another event? Leave a comment with the details.